OCC TECH NEWS
May 15, 2013
The two coolers of the new i4 Series from Noctua are targeted at Intel Xeon processors, frequently seen in workstations and servers. The NH-U12DX and NH-U9DX are compatible with LGA2011, LGA1356, and LGA1366 sockets and are mounted with the SecuFirm2™ mounting system. NF-B9 PWM fans are included with each heatsink to provide quiet airflow over the fins. Noctua CEO Mag. Roland Mossig said, "we've decided to update our DX line of coolers to work with both Square ILM and Narrow ILM based LGA2011 platforms. At the same time, we've added PWM control and switched the U12 version to the new, slimmer layout of the NH-U12S, which not only provides better performance but also ensures easier access to the RAM slots, which was another long time request from our industry partners." The NH-U9DX will have an MSRP of $64.90 and the NH-U12DX will cost $74.90.
Thermaltake is now offering a new mobile power pack through the LUXA2 brand name. The P3 2500mAh Power Bank is targeted at users of the iPhone 5 and similar mobile devices. The P3 comes with an iPhone 5 case to easily attach to your phone, and weighs just 70 grams making it easy to take with you. The 2500mAh capacity will allow users to double the battery life of their iPhone 5, and a standard USB connector provides easy access for plenty of other devices.
Source: Press Release
For some time now the United States military has been utilizing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance and occasionally as offensive platforms, because they can offer a number of advantages human piloted aircraft cannot. Among these advantages is great endurance, as UAVs do not get tired, but they can run low on fuel. At the Naval Research Laboratory though, a UAV with a special fuel source was able to stay in the air for 48 hours and one minute, shattering the previous record of 26 hours and two minutes.
The UAV is called an Ion Tiger and has at its heart a fuel cell that uses hydrogen to generate the electricity needed to power its systems. To set the previous record, the Ion Tiger used a tank of gaseous hydrogen at a pressure of 5000 PSI, but for the new record the researchers used liquefied hydrogen. Like most materials, hydrogen is denser in its liquid form, so more of it could be stored on the UAV, but it is more complicated than just filling it up with LH2. Hydrogen boils at 20 K, so the storage system had to be kept very cold to minimize fuel loss, and to optimize performance the researchers tuned the rate of hydrogen boiling off to match the vehicle's fuel consumption.
The researchers are now looking into advanced systems to manufacture LH2, which could be hard to come by in combat zones. Potentially an electrolyzer powered by solar or wind energy could be used to collect hydrogen from water, before it is compressed and refrigerated for use as a fuel.
Source: Naval Research Laboratory
Cooler Master has a new line of cases that may be for the more budget minded consumer, but these certainly aren't lacking in features. The Cooler Master N Series includes the N200, N400, and N600, with all of them designed with cooling, and water cooling, in mind. All three cases feature mesh front panels, an internal layout designed for maximum airflow, and support for a 240mm radiator. The N200 is a mini tower yet it can fit a 240mm radiator in the front, plus it has room for five fans and graphics cards up to 14 inches in length. The N400 and N600, meanwhile, are both mid towers that can fit the 240mm rad on the top or right side of the case for an out of the way position. A total of eight fans can fit in the N400 and it supports graphics cards up to 12.6" in length, while ten fans can go into the N600 and graphics cards up to 16.9". Each one also supports a mulitude of hard drives, SSDs, and various other internal components, plus all three include USB 3.0 support (N200 only has it on the Advanced model).
The Cooler Master N Series are available now, with the N200 priced at $49.99, the N400 at $59.99, and the N600 at $79.99.
Source: Cooler Master
Batteries have given humanity new ways to change our lives and our environment, especially lithium-ion batteries, thanks to their ability to store and produce large amounts of power, while being compact in size. As great as they are though, the batteries can have flaws that impair their performance and reduce their lifespan. Researchers at Purdue University though have found a very quick and effective way to catch these flaws during the manufacturing process.
Within lithium-ion batteries are two electrodes which are copper on one side and on the other is a paint-like substance. This substance is designed to capture and store lithium ions, which is how the battery is able to hold and release a charge. Imperfections in the paint, such as variations in thickness, air bubbles, and even an incorrect mixture can all affect a battery's performance, but all of these can now be detected. The researchers found that by flashing a xenon bulb on the copper side of the electrode, the opposite, painted side is heated. Imaging the heat distribution allows the researchers to discover any defects very quickly and before they could be a problem.
This quality control process takes less than a second and could have profoundly impact lithium-ion battery manufacture, but preventing poorer electrodes from being installed in batteries. Not only can these defects now be fixed on the spot, but potentially we could see them being removed from the manufacturing process, thanks to the information this process will provide.
Source: Purdue University
We have a nice assortment of items for your viewing pleasure today, starting with a look at the MSI Z77A-GD65 motherboard. If you're aiming for an Intel LGA 1155 build, then this motherboard could be at its core. Having a good case is important, especially if you head to LANs often or want to get your pals into the world of PC gaming. Cooler Master's new N Series of cases could be just the thing, and luckily we have a look at the N200 to help you choose. For something different, there's a guide on how to build a Hackintosh PC on a budget, as well as checking out the top features of the new Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone.
MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming LGA 1155 @ [H]ardOCP
Cooler Master N200 @ LanOC Reviews
Top Features of the Samsung Galaxy S4 @ ThinkComputers
Budget Hackintosh PC Build Project @ Benchmark Reviews
May 14, 2013
NVIDIA first introduced the world to its Project SHIELD this past January at CES. This device is an Android-powered gaming handheld, with a 5", 1280x720 touchscreen built directly onto a game controller. Oh, and that controller contains a Tegra 4 processor to deliver plenty of power. NVIDIA has shown off a little more since CES, but has left out two important details: price and availability. However, wonder no more as NVIDIA has provided both as well as the proper name. The NVIDIA SHIELD arrives next month for $349 in the US and Canada, with the likes of Newegg, GameStop, Micro Center, and Canada Computers carrying it. Pre-orders begin on May 20 from those places and the NVIDIA SHIELD website, although NVIDIA is giving anyone who opted to receive Project SHIELD updates first dibs on pre-orders today.
SHIELD offers the full Android experience with access to games and apps from Google Play. It also includes TegraZone to show off exactly what that Tegra 4 processor can do, and a little something called Steam. There's GeForce game streaming, launching as a beta, to give access to your GeForce GTX 650 or higher-powered computer to enjoy games from wherever you are in the house. NVIDIA is working hard to be sure every PC game can stream without issue to SHIELD, and plan to unveil a list of supported titles at launch. A list of recommended routers is also going to be available at launch to ensure optimum streaming potential.
Some of the Android games NVIDIA is excited about at launch include: Broken Age and Costume Quest from Double Fine; Flyhunter: Origins from Steel Wool Games; Skiing Fred from Dedalord Games; and Chuck's Challenge from Niffler.
Without a doubt, steel is one of the most important materials in our species history as it allowed for the construction of skyscrapers, machines, and more. Its manufacture is also one of the largest industrial sources of carbon dioxide, constituting 5% of all of the world's CO2 emissions. Researchers at MIT though have found a way to possibly remove all CO2 emissions from the production of steel, and potentially other metals as well.
Ironically the solution the researchers developed to address this Earth-bound issue came from work concerning the Moon. With is considerably low mass, the Moon has no atmosphere to speak of, but if humans are ever to inhabit it, there must be an oxygen source. One method being considered is to release the oxygen from iron oxide in Moon dust. As iron oxide is the primary component of iron ore, which steel is made from, the researchers looked for a way to apply the method for steel production. The key was to find an electrode that could survive the temperatures of molten iron oxide while still conducting electricity. What they discovered was an alloy of chromium and iron, which are both inexpensive.
Along with zero CO2 emissions (replaced with oxygen emissions) the researchers found this method can produce very pure steel, which is a definite advantage to its adoption and use. One disadvantage though is its inability to produce the millions of tons of steel per year to be economical in large-scale plants. Instead, it may only find a home in smaller plants that only need to output hundreds of thousands of tons of steel in a year.
Most people here on OCC have probably heard of Raspberry Pi, which has been immensely popular amongst DIY enthusiasts. An add-on product called BrickPi now seeks to allow the user to utilize Raspberry Pi's computational power to handle LEGO Mindstorm robots. The add-on board is a Kickstarter project that has exceeded its goal of $1,889 by raising $21,000, so it seems there is a large interest in this product.
The board works by sliding over the Raspberry Pi. It then connects, controls, and powers Mindstorm motors and sensors, and provide power to the Raspberry Pi. The board has four ports dedicated to Mindstorm sensors and three ports for motors. The whole thing is powered by a nine volt battery, thus allowing the robot to run without a power outlet. The firmware used in the board is written in Arduino and the code is open source and available online now. Programming will be necessary, but Dexter Industries has tried to ease the process by making Python libraries for all the motors and sensors. The company is also planning on making a Scratch programming library to help children wanting to program on the BrickPi. To top it off, Dexter Industries has also made a case that has holes the LEGO pieces can snap into, and it is capable of housing both the Raspberry Pi and the BrickPi.
A Kickstarter contribution of $35 will get you the BrickPi, while $45 or more will get you the BrickPi along with the case. The manufacturer, Dexter Industries, says deliveries will begin in August 2013.
May 13, 2013
Last year researchers mathematically showed it should be possible to create a device similar to an invisibility cloak, but instead of redirecting light around an object, it would redirect heat. Now researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have created such a cloak out of copper and a silicon material.
The design of this cloak borrows greatly from metamaterial cloaks, which cause light to bend around an object, instead of striking and reflecting off of it. As copper is a good conductor of heat and PDMS silicon is not, the researchers were able to design the circular device to conduct the heat in specific directions around it, while also controlling the speed of the heat flow. This allows heat to uniformly distribute from one edge to the opposite, but the area in the center is left untouched.
As the theory behind thermal cloaks is still quite new, researchers are not able to predict all its applications. However, they do foresee it being used with electronic components, such as microchips, to manage heat.
Source: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
The GeForce 320.14 beta drivers focus on the upcoming game Metro: Last Light. Single GPU and SLI performance is boosted by up to 10%. The drivers also incorporate the many improvements that were implemented in the previous 320.00 beta drivers. The previous release contained improvements and compatibility enhancements for Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, Dead Island: Riptide, and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon among others.
As the release of Project SHIELD, the portable gaming console from NVIDIA, gets closer the company has decided to show off the mold that will be used to create the device. A polycarbonate mixture is used in an injection mold process to create the lightweight casing to hold the numerous components found in Project SHIELD. Contained within the enclosure will be a Tegra 4, 5" 720p touchscreen, speakers, and more.
The most efficient solar power systems on Earth are the plants that surround us, and not the panels we manufacture. With billions of years of evolution to improve the formula, plants have a near perfect energy conversion efficiency, while our solutions struggle to achieve 20% efficiency. This is why many researchers are working to mimic plants for power generation, but those at the University of Georgia decided to just tap into plants and capture some of the electricity they produce.
Photosynthesis is the process plants use to take the energy of sunlight and with it create the sugars that fuel other processes throughout the organism. One of the steps involved separates the hydrogen and oxygen atoms in water, which releases electrons that then carry the energy to synthesize the sugars. Structures within the plant cells called thylakoids capture and store the energy from sunlight, and it is these that the researchers have modified to draw energy from. Instead of the electrons flowing as they normally would through the plant, they instead are directed down carbon nanotubes that have been connected to the thylakoids.
When tested, the researchers' design generated one hundred times more energy than similar systems, but as impressive as that is, there is still a lot of work to do. The technology and possibly the plants will need to be optimized before we could see literal 'power plants,' but some low power devices, like remote sensors, may be able to benefit from this research sooner.
Source: University of Georgia
May 10, 2013
A fun physics fact is that it is very likely than any image you have been shown of an atom is wrong. The reason these incorrect images are still being used is because they are effective teaching tools when discussing the placement of electrons within an atom. New experiments done by researchers at the University of Michigan and led by researchers at the University of Liverpool however have found that the structure of some atomic nuclei is more complicated than previously thought, but this is actually a good thing.
When asked to imagine the nucleus of an atom, many of you will likely picture a single sphere or a number of spheres pressed together, representing protons and neutrons. The physics that describe nuclei however, tell us that many atoms have elliptical nuclei, not spherical, and that some have a very unusual pear shape, which the researchers have now observed. By smashing beams of radon and radium isotopes into metal foils at CERN, the researchers were able to demonstrate that the nuclei of these atoms have an asymmetrical pear shape, or vibrate around it, which may have implications beyond nuclear physics.
After the Big Bang, an asymmetry in Nature emerged as particles of matter dominated those of antimatter, and physicists have been trying to discover why for decades. One possible explanation could be found by examining the asymmetry of these nuclei, as it may relate to a fifth fundamental force of Nature, which has not been observed before.
Sources: University of Liverpool and University of Michigan
The end of another week has arrived, and it brings a look at some different ways to keep your computer cool. We have a review on the XSPC RayStorm 750 RS240 watercooling kit, which provides everything you need to get a loop up and running. There's also a look at two air coolers that are certainly different than other tower coolers. Both the Prolimatch Genesis and Titan Fenrir Siberia add a horizontal grouping of cooling fins to go with the vertical grouping, so read on to see how this approach works. For anyone looking for an SSD, we have a review on the OCZ Vertex 3.20 120GB model that makes use of 20nm MLC NAND flash. We also have a new podcast from the PC Perspective folks.
120GB OCZ Vertex 3.20 SSD @ Benchmark Reviews
XSPC RayStorm 750 RS240 Watercooling Kit @ ThinkComputers
Prolimatech Genesis and Titan Fenrir @ [H]ardOCP
Podcast #250 @ PC Perspective
May 9, 2013
For a long time people were trying to understand how a gecko is able to crawl up surfaces too smooth to attach to with other, better known methods. Eventually it was discovered that gecko toes have extremely small hairs that take advantage of van der Waals forces to adhere to any surface. What helps the gecko though does not help carbon nanotubes, but Rice University researchers have found a solution to that.
Van der Waals forces exist between molecules that are sufficiently near each other for their electrostatic fields to interact, often causing them to attract. For a gecko, this attraction allows them to crawl up walls, but for carbon nanotubes, it causes them to clump together into an unusable mess. Previous research had successfully infused nanotubes with potassium atoms and then removed some with a solvent, to give the nanotubes a negative charge that counters the van der Waals forces. By adding cage-like crown ethers to the mix, the Rice researchers were able to remove additional potassium ions, thereby leaving behind more electrons to negatively charge the nanotubes.
This greater negative charge is enough to prevent the nanotubes from clumping together due to van der Waals forces, allowing more to be in a solution together. With more nanotubes in a solution, super strong and conductive fibers of nanotubes can be more easily created. Also, the negative charge applied to the nanotubes is more easily worked with than the positive charge a superacid would impart.
Source: Rice University
NZXT is breathing new life into the Sentry Mix line of fan controllers with the Sentry Mix 2. The Sentry Mix 2 can handle up to six fans with continuous power of 30 watts, and is compatible with a variety of fans including PWM. A matte-black finish, glossy black sliders, and LED lights round out the visual aspect of the device. The Sentry Mix 2 will be available with an MSRP of $29.99.
High powered video cards have included massive heatsinks with multiple fans for several years to dissipate the amount of heat produced by the powerful GPU. The newest card from PowerColor, the SCS3 HD7850, looks to diverge from the trend by including a heatsink that doesn't require fans. The G-shape heat pipe design offers the same cooling as dual U-shape heat pipes, and features several aluminum fins to assist in heat dissipation. The SCS3 features a core speed of 850MHz and 1GB of 1200MHz GDDR5.
Cooler Master, one of the leading companies for many computer products, has recently announced its newest line of power supplies. Dubbed the V Series, these PSUs offer 80 Plus Gold efficiency even at low loads. Each one has a single 12V rail running the show, with the highest grade of Japanese electrolytes and solid capacitors along for the ride. A 135mm Fluid Dynamic Bearing fan ensures the components are kept cool while offering minimal noise. The V Series is fully modular with flat ribbon cables to cut down on excess clutter inside the case, which should go a long way towards helping keep system interiors clean. The PSUs also support C6/C7 states in the upcoming Intel Haswell processors, which is good to see.
Cooler Master's V Series of PSUs are available now in 700W, 850W, and 1000W models. The V700 is priced at $159.99, the V850 at $189.99, and the V1000 at $209.99.
NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost video card (OCC review here) is the company's latest offering, and today there's one to look at from ASUS. This isn't a typical card though, as ASUS decks it out in a DirectCU II cooler and SAP components to give a better bang for your buck. If you need some new peripherals to get your game on, then you'll be interested in the GX Gaming KMH 100 gaming kit. This kit includes a keyboard, mouse, and headset, providing everything you need in a most convenient manner. We also have a look at a 550 watt power supply from Enermax's new TriAthlor series. There's even a review on a Noreve leather case for the Sony Xperia Z smartphone to keep your new gadget safe and secure.
ASUS GTX 650 Ti Boost DCII @ Bjorn3D
GX Gaming KMH 100 Gaming Kit @ ThinkComputers
Enermax TriAthlor 550W @ PC Perspective
Noreve Sony Xperia Z Leather Case (Tradition - 21038T) @ Madshrimps
Materials are magnetic when the electrons within them are aligned in a common direction, as each electron has its own magnetic field, and these add up to the larger field of the material. Electrons do not need to line up like that though for the material to have special magnetic properties. For the first time, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have observed a new magnetic alignment that may have interesting applications for transmitting information wirelessly.
Magnetic vortices are created when a material's electrons align in a circular path, like mini bar magnets placed end-to-end in a circle, with those in the middle pointing straight up or down. If you connect this to a DC power source, the vertical electrons will start rotating in a circle and emitting electromagnetic waves. If the speed of the DC signal is too high, those electrons will flip upside down, which impairs the ability to use them to transmit data. What the HZDR researchers found was a way to create three-dimensional vortices, which should not have this problem, at least not until higher speeds, because the electrons near the core are nearly vertical and reinforce those at the center. This prevents the flipping.
The material the researchers created is comprised of two magnetic disks, roughly 10 nm thick and 500 nm wide, with a nonmagnetic disk separating them. Potentially this tiny device could be made into an antenna capable of transmitting in the gigahertz range, where Wi-Fi networks currently operate.
Source: Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf
May 8, 2013
As captured by Moore's Law, the rate of technological developments follows an exponential growth pattern, with one advance leading to many. This means that one year's development is also faster than the previous, which may make it hard for some to keep up, at least in theory. Researchers at North Carolina State University decided to test if older programmers have a hard time keeping up with new technologies, compared to younger developers, and found that increasing years comes with increasing skills.
Using over 80,000 profiles of programmers at StackOverflow, the researchers assessed the knowledge of individual programmers by their rating. At StackOverflow, users are able to ask and answer questions, and they are also rated by the quality of their answers and questions. These ratings can be used to estimate a user's understanding of programming, without having to individually survey them. The researchers found that ratings consistently increased with a user's age until they were in their 40's. There was not enough information to determine anything past that age.
The researchers also considered the number of subjects the programmers were commenting on and found that those in their 30's and older were considerably more knowledgeable than those between 15 and 30. Even with newer technologies that are less than ten years old, the older programmers demonstrated equal or greater knowledge. Looks like there is something to be said for experience.
Source: North Carolina State University
Thermaltake has announced a new laptop cooler designed with consideration for comfort. The LifeCool Series features a padded cooler that will give users a soft cushion to relieve any pressure that other coolers might apply. Heat dissipation is provided by the aluminum surface, and laptops up to 17" in size are compatible. The LifeCool Series is available in eight colors including white, red, and orange.
The NotePal ErgoStand II is a new laptop stand and cooler from Cooler Master that was designed with ergonomics in mind. The stand has five different viewing and typing angles to provide comfort when using a laptop for an extended period of time. A 140mm fan provides strong cooling potential while keeping noise to a minimum. Up to four USB 2.0 devices can be plugged into the included ports, and laptops up to 17" in size can be accommodated.
At times it can be weird not having a Twitter account, because it means next to nothing to me if someone gets a new follower or loses one. I do recognize that this is important to many Twitter users though, as do others, such as the researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology who performed a first-of-its-kind longitudinal study on what gets you more follows.
To perform this study the researchers examined half a million tweets over 15 months and identified 2800 positive and negative terms, in order to label whether a tweet's content is positive or negative. After crunching all of the numbers the researchers found that people do not like it when you talk about yourself and are more likely to follow you if you post information, like a news item. Tweets should also be about positive, happy things, like how to grow your social network, instead of unemployment, illness, and death. Also, as useful as hashtags can be to show your support for something, they can be a turn off when abused, causing less people to follow you.
With this research finally done, we may start to see technologists utilize it to create tools to help grow their audiences. If you are interested in following the latest news from us, you can check out the RSS Feed link at the top of the page, below the Featured Articles.
Source: Georgia Institute of Technology
Today we have a lot of items to enhance your computing experience, as well as something to help you run more hardware. Cooler Master has a new series of power supplies to fit pretty much any need, and today we have a look at the V1000, which provides 1000 watts of pure power. It's a pure modular power supply, so you only need to connect the cables you need instead of having to hide a big nest of them. For anyone needing a portable hard drive, we have a review of the Silicon Power Armor A80, which packs a 1TB hard drive into a rugged design. Moving on we have the AlienVibes W601 speakers from Ineo to help get you some better sounds. Lastly there's a look at a fan controller from Fractal Design that has six channels with 36 watts of power each.
Cooler Master V1000 @ LanOC Reviews
Ineo AlienVibes W601 Speaker System @ ThinkComputers
Silicon Power Armor A80 1TB USB 3.0 Portable Drive @ Bjorn3D
Fractal Design Adjust 108 Fan Controller @ Benchmark Reviews
May 7, 2013
Seagate, one of the world's largest hard drive manufacturers, has announced a new line of products. The Seagate 600 Series is the company’s first client-based solid state drives. The solid state drives will be sold in three different capacities - 120 GB, 240 GB, and 480 GB. Performance differs depending on the size:
- 120GB: 500+MB/s read, 300+MB/s write, up to 80,000 IOPS read, up to 60,000 IOPS write
- 240GB: 500+MB/s read, 400+MB/s write, up to 80,000 IOPS read, up to 70,000 IOPS write
- 480GB: 500+MB/s read, 400+MB/s write, up to 80,000 IOPS read, up to 70,000 IOPS write
Seagate has not disclosed what controller is being used, but some reviews suggest that it is based on Link A Media Device's LM87800 controller, which is also found in Corsair's Neutron and Neutron GTX.
A low power version will be available as well, called the 600 Pro Series. It is intended for low power server and storage solutions, such as cloud systems, hyperscale data centers, and virtualized environments. It has a typical power consumption of 2.8 W. Seagate has also announced the 1200 Series. These drives will feature dual-port 12 Gbps SAS connectors, and they are said to be twice as fast as previous generation drives. They come in capacities up to 800 GB.
Prices and availability has not been disclosed yet.
The Multi Core X8 is a new notebook cooler from Deepcool that is highlighted by the inclusion of four 100mm fans. Each fan is separated into a different zone, targeting a different section of the notebook. The fans blow over aluminum fins to help dissipate the heat more effectively. A fan control knob allows users to customize which fans are on at a given time.