Could this new research lead to light speed RAM?

Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2012 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: ram, optical ram, o-RAM

If this is truly a breakthrough and not just another step towards optical RAM, then this story at The Register should put smiles on a lot of faces.  Utilizing an indium gallium arsenide strip buried in gallium arsenide these researchers have found a way to make this material either transparent or opaque to light, and using that to dynamically record a 0 or 1.  This would imply that the speed of the RAM would only be limited by how quickly the material can switch from one state to the other. These theoretical DIMMs would need a minute amount of power, the abstract states 30 nW as the predicted power draw, which could eliminate heatspreaders as we know them today.  The security conscious may also be assuaged that the state will last for a matter of microseconds so there will be no more freezing RAM for snooping through later.

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From the article on Nature.

"Japanese researchers are claiming a breakthrough in all-optical memory, one of the key bottlenecks remaining in the optical communications world.

The high throughput of optical communications systems brings its own problem: any function that can’t be performed in the optical domain demands an opto-electric conversion, creating a bottleneck in the system. This has put a premium on research into optical switching, amplification and signal regeneration."

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Source: The Register

GPU sales look a little down in the month

Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2012 - 12:24 PM |
Tagged: jon peddie, gpu, market share

The graphics market seems to be changing, a feeling backed up by Jon Peddie's latest report on the GPU market.  IGPs are dying, low end discrete is dying, and the quickest selling GPUs are integrated onto the CPU.  All this means that the sales of discreet GPUs are down, with a 10.4% drop from the previous quarter as customers opt out of a GPU and simply use the one found on their CPU.  AMD is slowly gaining in this market thanks to the fact that Llano is now available for those who would purchase it.  One oddity that SemiAccurate notes is that NVIDIA actually still claims a share of the IGP market thanks to some sales in China.

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"Word has just come in from everyone’s favorite market research group, Jon Peddie Research, that Q4 2011 was not a particularly inspiring quarter for graphics shipments. Q4 was seasonally down compared to Q3, in step with the prior years, and up slightly compared to 2010. The seasonal drop this year was particularly heavy coming in at 10.4 percent, the largest Q3 to Q4 drop since 2008."

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Source: SemiAccurate

MWC 12: TI OMAP5 will beat your A9 with its own two cores

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 25, 2012 - 07:06 PM |
Tagged: texas instruments, MWC 12, arm, A9, A15

Texas Instruments could not wait until Mobile World Congress to start throwing punches. Despite their recent financial problems resulting in the closure of two fabrication plants TI believes that their product should speak for itself. Texas Instruments recently released a video showing their dual-core OMAP5 processor based on the ARM Cortex-A15 besting a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 in rendering websites.

Chuck Norris joke.

Even with being at a two core disadvantage the 800 MHz OMAP5 processor was clocked 40 percent slower than the 1.3 GHz Cortex A9. The OMAP5 is said to be able to reach 2.5 GHz if necessary when released commercially.

Certain portions of the video did look a bit fishy however. Firstly, CNet actually loaded quicker on the A9 processor but it idled a bit before advancing to the second page. The A9 could have been stuck loading an object that the OMAP 5 did not have an issue with, but it does seem a bit weird.

About the fishiest part of the video is that the Quad-Core A9, which we assume to be a Tegra 3, is running on Honeycomb where the OMAP5 is running Ice Cream Sandwich.  Ice Cream Sandwich has been much enhanced for performance over Honeycomb.

We have no doubt that the ARM Cortex-A15 will be much improved over the current A9. The issue here is that TI cannot successfully prove that with this demonstration.

Just Delivered: Corsair Vengeance K90, K60, M90, M60 Keyboards and Mice

Subject: General Tech | February 24, 2012 - 06:46 PM |
Tagged: vengeance, mouse, m90, m60, keyboard, k90, k60, just delivered, hid, corsair

Just Delivered is a section of PC Perspective where we share some of the goodies that pass through our labs that may or may not see a review, but are pretty cool none the less.

Corsair does just about everything now - memory modules, power supplies, cases, SSDs, headphones, speakers, water coolers, functional LED umbrellas and now keyboards and mice.  And just like we have seen when Corsair entered new markets previously, they took their time to do it right.  The Vengeance line of keyboards and mice offer two dedicated series for gamers of different persuasions: the K90 and M90 for MMO players and the K60 and M60 for predominantly FPS users.

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The new keyboards consist MOSTLY of Cherry MX Red switches (which you can read more about here in our recent Rosewill keyboard roundup) and are generally very well built.  The mice have adjustable DPIs, lights and lots of button.  What follows is a pictorial preview of these gorgeous devices before our review sometime in the near future!  Enjoy!!

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The K60 comes with a removable left hand rest for your frequent gaming as well as replaceable WASD keys that have a rubber texture to them and are slightly angled to keep your fingers from slipping out during those INTENSE gaming moments.

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Corsair tends to think of the customer first so they were sure to include a tool to remove the keys rather than telling you to use a flat head screwdriver from your garage.

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One of my favorite features is the Windows button disable key up there to prevent you from accidently hitting that during gameplay.

See a lot more photos of these devices in our full post!!

Source: Corsair

MWC 12: Lots of industry support for NVIDIA DirectTouch

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 24, 2012 - 06:18 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, DirectTouch, MWC 12

As a part of their Tegra 3 product, NVIDIA embedded the ability to control some of the touchscreen processing onto the CPU. The offloading allows for increased power efficiency by reducing the number of powered components as well as increased touch responsivity. Atmel, Cypress, and Synaptics are three leading touch-controller companies who join N-Trig, Raydium, and Focaltech in supporting the DirectTouch architecture.

Touchy subject, I know -- but...

Advancements in touch technology are definitely welcome especially when the words power efficiency or responsiveness are involved. Both NVIDIA and Intel have been looking for ways to reduce the number of electronics behind your phone or tablet. The less required to do the most the better we are. It is great to see NVIDIA taking the lead in innovation when it is needed the most.

While I do not mean to rain upon NVIDIA’s bright blue skies -- I must make a note. Despite the precision brought by high sample rate, there does appear to be quite a bit of latency between where his finger is and where the touch is reported. I would be curious to see where that latency occurs.

Of course this issue probably has nothing to do with NVIDIA. Videogames, particularly on consoles, are known to have latencies floating up to 100ms as the input device does not influence the frames being rendered often enough. The latency could come in from the touch device itself, from the software, the operating system, and/or whatever else.

We do not know where the latency occurs, but I expect that whoever crushes it will have a throne awaiting them somewhere in Silicon Valley.

Source: NVIDIA Blogs

MWC 12: LG gives Mozilla Marketplace a try to boot to Gecko?

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 24, 2012 - 04:29 PM |
Tagged: MWC 12, mozilla, B2G, LG

Mozilla will show off their marketplace for web apps at Mobile World Congress 2012. Mozilla Marketplace will support the upcoming Boot to Gecko (B2G) operating system for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. It is rumored that they will announce LG as a partner to develop either a tablet or a phone for developers of the B2G platform.

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I ~ <3 Paypal... I guess.

Mozilla Marketplace will be a store where developers can distribute and sell their applications based upon HTML 5, Javascript, and CSS. The marketplace will support both free and paid apps with a variety of terms. Developers can have their users paid for the app up front, within the app for microtransactions, within the app for demo unlock, on a subscription basis (not yet implemented), or by donations.

Paypal has been announced as the payment processor for the Mozilla Marketplace. Paypal is not universally adored although we can understand why Mozilla would need to use an existing package. Prices are locked to one of 30 tiers so pricing is not entirely flexible but does run the gamut from 99-cents to $50 as well as of course free.

Hopefully we will get more details about Boot to Gecko or the Mozilla-powered LG phone at MWC in the coming days.

Source: Extremetech

Good news everybody! The HDDs are coming back

Subject: General Tech | February 24, 2012 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: flooding, thailand, hdd

It won't be completely back to normal but if DigiTimes' information is correct the HDD industry is getting back on their feet after the flooding in Thailand wiped out several fabs.  This is not just great news for your average consumer or enthusiast but also for businesses that have had server upgrades and maintenance postponed since stocks of enterprise HDDs dried up.  While it may seem funny that NewEgg limits the number of units you can buy for some of their stock, it is not so funny for a company that needs to rebuild a 10 disk RAID on a SAN.  By Spring we should see a return to stock levels of about 80% and prices about 30% higher than what existed on the market previously which will help out a lot of bottom lines as well as bring much needed money into Thailand to help with the recovery.

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"The global production capacity of hard disk drives (HDDs) will increase to 140-145 million units, about 80% of the level before flooding hit Thailand in late 2011, in the first quarter of 2012, according to industry sources.

HDD makers exhausted their inventories of products and components in December 2011 and January 2012, the sources indicated. However, HDD vendors have not hiked quotes due to the off-season.

Among HDD vendors, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies and Seagate Technology have suffered less damage from the flooding and therefore have moved faster in restoring production capacities, compared to Toshiba and Western Digital, the sources indicated."

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Source: DigiTimes

Box.com Offering 50GB of Free Cloud Storage For Life To Users of Android App

Subject: General Tech | February 24, 2012 - 02:48 AM |
Tagged: storage, media, Internet, free, cloud, box, backup

The online storage space is really starting to heat up as companies start getting competitive to grab their share of the 'cloud storage user base' pie. Dropbox is a popular file syncing and online storage space solution offering 2GB free and routinely offering extra free space to those that want it though promotions and referrals. On the other side of things, Microsoft offers 25GB of online storage space with SkyDrive minus the computer syncing (currently) for free to those with a Windows Live (or Hotmail) account and they are in the process of overhauling the service to make it easier to use. Besides those two juggernauts, there are several alternative solutions that offer extra space or cheaper paid storage in order to remain competitive with the larger services. One such service that has not gotten the same amount of public recognition is a site called Box.com. They primarily provide Internet based (paid) storage for businesses; however, it seems that they are starting to make a big push to get deeper into the consumer market.

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The company is currently offering 50 GB (yes, you read that right) of free online storage space for life (or at least the life of the company) if you install their recently updated Android application and sign up for an account (or sign into an existing account) within the next 30 days (as of writing, that would mean 3/24/2012).

Further, if you download the Android Box application before March 23, 2012 at 11:59 they will up the individual file size limit from 25 MB per file to 100 mb per file. Although that is still not big enough for movies, the increased per file limit makes it easy to backup your photos even in RAW.

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Once you download the Box android application from the Android Market, and sign up (or sign into an existing account) a message will pop up indicating that you have been given 50 GB of free storage and it is immediately accessible. There are a few caveats; however. The Box.com service has mobile applications that are free; however, they do not provide a free application for Windows or Mac. To get the desktop/laptop syncing service, you will need to upgrade to a paid Business or Enterprise account. Also, the Android application itself may concern some users as one of the application permissions during installation includes access to your contact list. The company has stated that this is necessary to make the sharing and collaboration process easy for the user. It certainly would not be the first application to ask for (to the user) strange permissions, however. You could always install the app on an Android VM or another phone if you're that paranoid (heh).

While you do not get a desktop application for free, you can still access your files (and the increased 50 GB of storage) from the website, and they do allow bulk uploads that can include multiple sub-folders. One snag that I ran into was that if the uploader identified any file in a folder as being over 100 MB, it would refuse to upload the entire folder. This may be a bug or an issue on my end; however, I was not able to figure out a way to just skip that one file and upload the rest of the files in the folder.

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The batch uploader allows uploading multiple subfolders via drag and drop.

One thing that I enjoyed about the process (aside from the plentiful storage) was that they made it easy to sign up, all they ask for is an email (which doesn't need to be verified to get access to storage) and password.  It's kind of nice to not have to slog through the process of handing out a bunch of personal information just for an online account!

I'm currently uploading my photos to the site to back them up (I learned two years ago that it can never hurt to have too many backups!) and the upload is going smoothly. The website batch uploader is Flash based and does not require IE like SkyDrive does, so that's a positive thing in my book. Let us know in the comments if you've tried Box out before, and how you're going to use the 50 GB of cloud storage.  It really seems like the cloud / Internet based storage market is heating up, and this is a good thing for end users as it means more options, more innovation, and cheaper prices!  If Box.com isn't for you, Dropbox and SkyDrive are also offering plenty of free storage space.

Source: Maximum PC

Podcast #190 - PCAudioLabs system giveaway, the future of NAND Memory, potential Ivy Bridge delays and more!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 23, 2012 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: Thinkpad, podcast, piledriver, nvidia, Ivy Bridge, Intel, gpu, cpu, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #190 - 02/23/2012

Join us this week as we talk about a PCAudioLabs system giveaway, the future of NAND Memory, potential Ivy Bridge delays and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:24:53

Program Schedule: 

  1. 0:00:31 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:01:45 Intel, PCAudioLabs and PC Perspective Rok Box System Sweepstakes!!
  6. 0:03:45 How We Review Laptops At PC Perspective
  7. 0:05:30 MSI Graphics Card Division Interview: Alex Chang Takes our Q's
  8. 0:09:10 Lenovo ThinkPad T420 Review: Kickin' It Old School
  9. 0:12:00 NAND Flash Memory - A Future Not So Bleak After All
  10. 0:27:15 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  11. 0:28:30 Mass Effect 3 is Coming, Pre-Order Now and Get Battlefield 3 (PC) Free
  12. 0:31:00 Intel may delay shipments of Ivy Bridge processors
  13. 0:35:10 VIA teams with Tensilica to roll their own SSD controller
  14. 0:40:53 HP dates NVIDIA on Valentine's Day. We get Z1 workstation.
  15. 0:46:30 Wi-Fi on Rosepoint SoC die. Intel flexes before ARM wrestle.
  16. 0:51:15 Of Near Threshold Voltage and Atomic Transistors
  17. 0:55:15 AMD and Cyclos reduces clock power usage with Piledriver
  18. 1:04:00 Intel becomes a 22nm foundry -- yes, for other people.
  19. 1:11:35 Contest Reminder - http://pcper.com/contest
  20. 1:11:55 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: IKEA DIODER + HOLY AWESOME https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-LmEQUm1PUXU/T0W8e-KQz0I/AAAAAAAAYNA/XB64fVxgLvo/w402/engagement.jpg
    2. Ken: SUPAboy
    3. Jeremy: Hardware Leaderboard
    1. Josh: Get it while you still can!
    2. Allyn: Nintendo 1982 Game & Watch Donkey Kong (counter to Ken's pick)
  21. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  22. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  23. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  24. Closing

Source:

If it wasn't for a certain person AMD might have bought the other GPU guys

Subject: General Tech | February 23, 2012 - 04:05 PM |
Tagged: amd, nvidia, jen-hsun huang, hector ruiz

Take this story at The Inquirer with a grain of salt as the source might just have a bit of an axe to grind with their former employer; regardless it makes for an interesting read.  The idea that Jen-Hsun's desire to be top boss of the company that absorbed the one he was running at the time certainly fits the personality he shows publicly.  Then again Hector lasted a mere 2 years after the purchase of ATI so perhaps a change in leadership at that time would have changed AMD's future somewhat.  ATI could still be around and AMD might be more focused on SoC and HPC as opposed to the APU route they took.

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"CHIP DESIGNER AMD wanted to cut a deal with Nvidia before settling for buying ATI instead, according to former AMD employees.

AMD completed a deal to buy ATI for $5.4bn in 2006, but only after it couldn't agree on terms with Nvidia, according to former AMD employees interviewed by Forbes. One of the stumbling blocks to the deal was Nvidia's colourful CEO Jen-Hsun Huang wanting to become the CEO of the combined company, effectively ousting then AMD CEO Hector Ruiz."

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Source: The Inquirer