Intel becomes a 22nm foundry -- yes, for other people.

Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2012 - 08:51 PM |
Tagged: Intel, foundry

It is news like this which leads to Apocalypse theories. Intel has announced that they will become a foundry for customers looking to manufacture chips using Intel’s 22nm process with trigate transistors. Current competitors in this industry include TSMC, UMC, IBM, Samsung, and GlobalFoundries each with varying degrees of commitment.

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Well this just happened…

Only two customers of Intel’s manufacturing process have since gone public with their foundry choice. Achronix Semiconductor manufactures field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) for users to install in their products to give them relatively basic logic functions compared to a full CPU. Tabula also designs FPGAs, but has specifically announced that they will be using Intel’s 22nm process with 3D trigate transistors.

It is not clear at this point how deeply Intel will jump into the business of developing chips for other companies. Both of the current customers of Intel’s manufacturing process do not really compete with Intel’s own products at all.

Now if we ever, for instance, see NVIDIA announce partnership with Intel foundries for a GPU launch… then John Cusack might have a concern on his hands.

Source: ExtremeTech

AMD and Cyclos reduces clock power usage with Piledriver

Subject: General Tech, Processors | February 22, 2012 - 06:01 PM |
Tagged: amd, Cyclos, piledriver

AMD has its own announcements about power consumption for the International Solid-State Circuits Conference this week. A few days ago we reported on Intel’s success integrating Wi-Fi transceivers into the CPU to reduce power consumption. Cyclos Semiconductor discussed their resonant clock mesh (RCM) technology which reduces waste energy dissipated when keeping the chip synchronized. AMD announced that this technology would be introduced in their upcoming Piledriver APUs and Opteron processors.

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Excuse me, good sir. Do you have the time?

Tom’s Hardware put up an article to discuss the announcement with a small explanation of what is going on.

Inductive-capacitive oscillators are leveraged in mesh-based high-performance clock distribution networks to deliver "high-precision timing while dissipating almost no power." In effect, RCM promises to recycle clock power to enable lower power consumption or higher clock speeds.

For a more specific explanation, I turned to Josh Walrath. Chips are timed by a clock signal -- any overclocker will attest to that. Over time chips became larger and more complex which of course requires a larger and more complex system to propagate the clock signal through. Slowly but surely those circuits became large enough that the energy they dissipate simply by being powered becomes less and less negligible.

What Cyclos contributes is cleverly using inductor-capacitor circuits to keep the energy stored in the clock circuit mesh. With more of the energy stored in the mesh it just requires a small energy shove to trigger the signal after the initial charge. Also, less energy lost also means less heat dissipation which helps your battery as well as your heatsink.

Cyclos Semiconductor states that power savings are between 5 to 30 percent dependent on the chip design. In AMD’s case, they expect approximately 5 to 10 percent power savings in their Piledriver implementation. While AMD is the first implementation of Cyclos’ technology, it is not known what Intel currently has done or will potentially do to solve the problem.

Chris Tyler Shows Off Fedora Remix OS For ARM Powered Raspberry Pi Computer

Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2012 - 05:48 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, fedora remix, Fedora, arm

The Raspberry Pi hardware is coming out at the end of this month, and the folks over at the Raspberry Pi Foundation are gearing up for the release. On their blog, they shared a video by Chis Tyler that I thought was rather interesting. In the accompanying video, he talked about the Raspberry Pi's Fedora Remix linux operating system.

The new Fedora Remix is being produced by Seneca College, and takes the traditional desktop Fedora Linux distribution and adapts it to run on the ARM platform. It will include several open source applications out of the box including a web browser, word processor, and several other tools for managing the OS and working with files.  Mr. Tyler states that the Fedora Remix distro will closely resemble a traditional desktop experience when paired with a keyboard and mouse.

What I found interesting from the video was a statement by Paul Whalen, a software researcher for Fedora on ARM, where he talks about the Fedora licensing requiring applications to be built natively on the hardware that it will be used on. Because of that, they had to go out and construct a build farm of approximately 60 ARM devices including the Guru Plug. They design the software on workstation computers, and then send it to the build farm of ARM powered devices to be built and compiled into a native binary, and then is sent back. I thought that it was strange at first that they had to go about it in such a roundabout way but in the end it should help to have natively built applications performance wise.

In another exciting bit of news, Liz ended the Raspberry Pi blog post with an update on the status of the Linux computer's hardware.

They are still working on manufacturing the Raspberry Pis, and they "hope the Raspberry Pis from the first batch will be out of testing by the end of Thursday (ed: tomorrow at time of writing), and on their way to freight"

The Raspberry Pi is almost upon us! The non profit organization expects the SD card image download for the Fedora Remix distribution to be available in the next few days while the Cambridge Reference File System (Debian Squeeze based OS) image is available to download now.

Source: Raspberry Pi

Sam is three times as Serious now

Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2012 - 05:38 PM |
Tagged: gaming, serious sam 3 bfe

If you are a fan of old style shooters which involve nothing more complicated than killing everything that moves then you will probably enjoy this post over at The Tech Report.  It covers the new Serious Sam 3:BFE and all of its explosive joys.  One of the more attractive new features is the expanded co-op mode with up to 16 people able to coordinate their firepower against hordes of beasties.  Check out the 'big, stupid fun' and see if this is the game you need to help you blow off steam.

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"In his latest blog post, TR's Geoff Gasior gets sucked into Serious Sam 3: BFE, a retro shooter that puts a coat of fresh paint on a franchise famous for over-the-top FPS combat."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Sapphire's new nettop will be great; at the right price

Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2012 - 04:25 PM |
Tagged: sapphire, amd, E450

The new nettop that Sapphire will be selling will be great for HTPC usage but you might not want to pick it up if you will be gaming.  The E450 AMD processor inside the machine does have an onboard HD 6350 which will handle 1080p streaming beautifully but as it is the low end of the Llano scale gaming may not be impressive.  Its power consumption will be 30W so neither heat nor power will be an issue.  It ships with Free DOS but will accept WinXP and Win7 for those who want a familiar interface.  The Inquirer expects this device to be less than its Atom powered predecessor which puts the price at or below $400USD.

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"GRAPHICS CARD VENDOR Sapphire has announced its AMD Fusion based Edge-HD3 all-in-one nettop PC.

Sapphire claims its Edge-HD3 is about the size of a paperback novel and, while that depends on what type of paperbacks you read, there's no denying that the system is small. Sapphire has slipped an AMD E450 Fusion chip, 4GB DDR3 RAM and a 320GB 2.5in hard drive into the case."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Make The Right Choice And Win Big! NVIDIA's Mass Effect 3 contest

Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2012 - 12:24 PM |
Tagged: contest, nvidia, mass effect 3

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Here’s your chance to show off your knowledge on all things Mass Effect. All you have to do is complete the five Mass Effect 3-based trivia questions for your chance to win. Just for participating, you’ll get access to an exclusive Mass Effect 3 digital asset. There’s a new one each week, so keep playing! Plus, you can win awesome prizes like graphics cards—or even a complete gaming rig. Make the right choice. Enter today and gear up for victory!
 
Week 1 is now over, but Week 2 just started!
Week 2 prizing: 3 GTX 570 (1 winner each)
Week 2 Grand Prize: A MAINGEAR gaming PC valued at over 3K!

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The landing page is for the global contest, choose your country and see if you can answer the questions and not only get a chance to win great prizes but you also get a mysterious in game bonus for playing.

Source: NVIDIA

A Machine for Pigs: A new game from the Amnesia studio?

Subject: General Tech | February 21, 2012 - 04:00 AM |
Tagged: Amnesia

(Update: Yep -- it has been confirmed. Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Check it out at The Escapist)

Frictional Games have been releasing PC games since 2006 for Windows, the Mac, and Linux. Each game up to this point was survival horror themed and within the puzzle adventure genre. The most popular and definitely most scary installment was their most recent Amnesia: The Dark Descent. It is often considered to be the most terrifying game of all time. What could be next?

He definitely was not having a Funday

For a few days, Frictional Games created an alternate reality game which slowly doles out clues to the next project. What we know is that it the title is planned to be out in fall of this year; it will very likely have A Machine for Pigs either as a title or subtitle; and will also very likely be related to Amnesia. Clues suggest that the full title will be Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs.

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Why do I have a feeling this game will make Minecraft players cry?

Also interesting is that Frictional Games has discussed new features in their engine for their upcoming game. The new engine, which the upcoming game is expected to use, will support terrain as well as global sunlight with shadows. They are not terribly impressive features by any stretch of the imagination, but they were specifically developed for the engine to be used with the new game. Why is there such a need for outdoor lighting and terrain?

Speculate away.

Source: PCGamer

Windows Defender at risk of antitrust for Windows 8?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 21, 2012 - 01:21 AM |
Tagged: antivirus, windows 8

Imagine if it were illegal for a dominant homebuilder to sell a house with locks on the door to be fair to the market of locksmiths?

The legality of Microsoft’s planned upgrades to its Windows Defender security suite has been questioned in an article up at ZDNet Asia. While the article itself is very correct in its analysis of the situation it does implicitly ask at what point a market should be obsolete.

Does it really protect consumers to intentionally unbundle security from a core application? Is it better to unbundle security to promote an industry worth of companies with products designed to successfully do little more than alert you when a breach has occurred?

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Industry status - Not Protected

Despite the wording of the above three paragraphs, the answer actually is not simple. There is a lot of merit to disallowing the bundling of internal security applications and protect the antivirus industry.

Ponder this, what if Microsoft’s system was really bad? Would promoting competition ultimately drive for a stronger and more secure product in the end? Or alternatively, would the pressure from the attackers themselves be sufficient competition to not need to protect antivirus companies?

It really is an interesting problem when you look into it. What do you think? The comments await, and registration is not required to voice your opinion.

Source: ZDNet Asia

MinION USB Stick Can Sequence DNA In Seconds

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2012 - 08:45 PM |
Tagged: usb, portable, minion, dna

According to an article in New Scientist, a UK firm called Oxford Nanopore has managed to build a DNA sequencer into what looks to be an overweight USB stick. They have named the device the MinION, and it will sell for $900 later this year. It can be used to sequence DNA with as many as 10,000 base pairs in one continuous read. While it can sequence a human genome in about 6 hours, they intend the device to be used to sequence shorter genomes with tasks like identifying pathogens and screening for genetic mutations that can lead to diseases.

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The company demonstrated the MinION in action recently at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology conference where it sequenced Phi X, a virus with 5,000 genetic base pairs. A bioinformatician at Pallen Research Group stated that "Phi X was the first DNA genome to be sequenced ever" and that if it can be sequenced than much larger genomes can be as well.

In addition to the portable MinION, the company is developing a larger scale GridION for lab work that requires more processing horsepower. The sequencing technology in the MinION and GridION operate "like a tickertape reader" by unzipping the DNA using enzymes and electricity.

The article author states that the MinION and portable DNA sequencers like it are going to greatly enhance public health and medicine. When doctors will be able to carry around portable DNA sequencers, they will be able to quickly diagnose genetic issues and identify viruses and other pathogens. Sounds pretty cool (if a bit scary) to me!

Gabe Newell gets Steamed up over piracy discussions

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 20, 2012 - 08:08 PM |
Tagged: valve, piracy, Gabe Newell

Ben Kuchera of Penny Arcade caught an interview with Valve Software’s managing director and co-founder, Gabe Newell. The topics were quite typical for a Gabe Newell interview and involve working at Valve, the future of gaming, and DRM. Gabe also joined the beard club; welcome Gabe!

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Photo Credit: Giant Bomb

A little over halfway through the interview, Penny Arcade asked Gabe whether they believe that they sidestepped the problems of used games and piracy with Steam. Gabe instead responded to the premise of the question, rather than the question itself:

You know, I get fairly frustrated when I hear how the issue is framed in a lot of cases. To us it seems pretty obvious that people always want to treat it as a pricing issue, that people are doing this because they can get it for free and so we just need to create these draconian DRM systems or ani-piracy(sic) systems, and that just really doesn’t match up with the data.

This quote echoes a problem I have had with the piracy discussion for quite some time. The main problem with the concept of piracy is that people wish to frame it in a context that seems intuitive to them rather than experiment to discover what actually occurs. Piracy is seen as a problem which must be controlled. This logic is fundamentally flawed because piracy is not itself a problem but rather a measurement of potential problems.

Gabe continues with an anecdote of a discussion between a company who used third-party DRM for their title and himself:

Recently I was in a meeting and there’s a company that had a third party DRM solution and we showed them look, this is what happens, at this point in your life cycle your DRM got hacked, right? Now let’s look at the data, did your sales change at all? No, your sales didn’t change one bit. Right? So here’s before and after, here’s where you have DRM that annoys your customers and causing huge numbers of support calls and in theory you would think that you would see a huge drop off in sales after that got hacked, and instead there was absolutely no difference in sales before or after. You know, and then we tell them you actually probably lost a whole bunch of sales as near as we can tell, here’s how much money you lost by bundling that with your product.

Gabe highlights what a business should actually be concerned with: increasing your measurement of revenue and profits, rather than decreasing your measurement of piracy. You as a company could simply not develop products and completely kill piracy, but that would also entirely kill your revenue as you would have nothing to gain revenue from.

Before we begin to discuss piracy, the very first step is that we need to frame it as what it really is: a measurement. While violating terms of a license agreement is in fact wrong, if you focus your business on what is right or wrong you will go broke.

If you believe that there is value in preventing non-paying users from using your product then you will only hurt yourself (and if SOPA/PIPA taught us anything, innocent adjacent companies). It is possible that the factors which contribute to piracy also contribute to your revenue positively as well as potentially negatively. It is also entirely possible that increased piracy could be a measurement of a much bigger problem: your business practices.

You know, it’s a really bad idea to start off on the assumption that your customers are on the other side of some sort of battle with you. I really don’t think that is either accurate or a really good business strategy ((…)) we’ve run all of these experiments, you know, this has been going on for many years now and we all can look at what the outcomes are and there really isn’t – there are lots of compelling instances where making customers – you know, giving customers a great experience and thinking of ways to create value for them is way more important than making it incredibly hard for the customers to move their products from one machine to another.

Source: Penny Arcade