Good news for those who seek to buy the new Xbox 720, since it will not require an always-on connection as was previously rumored. It is supposedly not necessary to have a connection when playing games, watching Blu-ray movies, and streaming live television. It is still a rumor, but the information is said to be originating from an email that was sent to all full time members of the Xbox 720 team.
What is interesting is that Microsoft will implement Blu-ray support, since it originally betted its money on HD-DVD with the Xbox 360. Instead of developing a new type of high-capacity disc standard like Nintendo did with Wii U, Microsoft has chosen to adopt the competitor's standard. That decision is probably slightly forced due to the widespread use of Blu-rays, and because it allows the Xbox 720 to be used as an HTPC, when combined with the new cable television packages offered through Microsoft's new partners Comcast and Verizon.
Official details about the Xbox 720 will be revealed May 21, when Microsoft will uncover all the mysteries about the console.
Invisibility has been a special power in numerous stories from multiple cultures over uncountable years, but only recently has technology caught up to fantasy and brought it within reach. Since the first microwave cloak was created at Duke University, researchers have been working to design cloaks that operate in visible light and that use different materials and methods of cloaking. Now Duke Researchers have returned to creating a microwave invisibility cloak that has the unique property of having been printed by a 3D printer.
Three dimensional printers are special devices that are able to construct objects out of polymers, layer by layer, following instructions from a computer. Potentially these devices could be made cheap enough to enter households and there produce all manner of objects, including invisibility cloaks. When the researchers printed theirs it took from three to seven hours to create the device with special holes meant to deflect microwave beams. Advanced algorithms are used to determine where these holes are to be placed, along with their size and shape in order to affect the microwaves as desired.
Though the current cloak design is relatively small, the researchers believe larger versions could be created. They are also confident that visible-light cloaks could one day be printed.
ROCCAT is a name many know for computer peripherals, like its new Kone XTD mouse (seen here at OCC). This is the company's new flagship mouse, so check out the review to see how well it performs. We have a look at how the AMD Radeon HD 7990 stacks up with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN. It's a comparison of the two top-of-the-line video cards on the market today, and it'll be very interesting to see how the dual GPU HD 7990 compares to the single GPU GTX TITAN. There's also a review on a Toshiba 3TB hard drive for those needing a lot of storage, as well as a look at the Intel Silvermont architecture for Atom processors in smartphones and tablets.
Earlier today, Maxis and EA officially announced that The Sims 4 is currently in development for PC and Mac. Expected for a 2014 release, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the announcement was EA's choice of words in describing the game – a "single-player offline experience." I think it's a safe bet to say that those words were carefully chosen as a result of the SimCity "always-on" debacle.
Has EA learned its lesson? Still too soon to tell, but it's a good sign. That news will surely please the millions upon millions of The Sims fans.
Adobe took the wraps off some new gear earlier today, although one of them should be pretty familiar for most users. The company announced its Creative Suite is being rebranded into Creative Cloud, which was first introduced last year as a subscription-based model for the Adobe product stack. What it means is users have access all of Adobe's tool, with the latest updates, for a monthly fee. Everything is stored and synced online, so your settings are never far away whether you're on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device. It also allows for greater interaction with other Creative Cloud users to get feedback on whatever you're making. All the Creative Cloud products are receiving a plethora of new features, and even adding some from Photoshop Extended to Photoshop CC, like 3D editing and conditional actions.
However, the only downside is Creative Suite 6 is the last of the line for the CS products. Those are still going to be available and Adobe plans to support them, including releasing bug fixes when needed, just CS6 is giving way to CC. The monthly subscription for Adobe Creative Cloud should still be $49.99, while current owners of CS3 or higher can drop that to $29.99.
The other new stuff Adobe showed off today is for the mobile crowd, specifially tablet owners. Neither one is ready for the primetime and could have a name change when available, but the two are known as Project Mighty and Project Napoleon. Project Mighty is a stylus that pulls information from your Creative Cloud settings in a way to lessen the divide between software and hardware. It offers various pressure sensitivity levels (exact ones unknown), and has a rechargeable battery, Bluetooth, and built-in memory. Project Napoleon, on the other hand, is a high-tech straight edge, as it projects straight lines to help keep things even when drawing on a tablet. Information is a little light on both so far, but you can check them out at the source below.
One of the hot topics in medical science today is the use of pluripotent stem cells to repair tissue damage that is otherwise untreatable. That however is something of a silver lining, and there is definitely a cloud that goes with it, such as the risk of stem cells developing into unintended cell types or even becoming cancerous. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison however have successfully convert adult, skin stem cells into neural progenitors, skipping the pluripotent stem cell stage, and thus the risks associated with it.
After harvesting the skin cells, the researchers treated them with a modified form of the Sendai virus, a type of cold virus. This virus has not been used for this purpose before, but does offer some advantages over those that are used, such as not entering the cell's DNA and it can be killed by heat within a day. Once the cells had their genes changed so they could become neural progenitors, the researchers heated the sample enough to kill the virus and waited thirteen days before harvesting the progenitor cells. These cells actually are a kind of stem cell but are not pluripotent, as they are only able to develop into any of the three major types of neural cells. After implantation into newborn mice, the cells grew normally and showed no sign of defects or tumors.
Currently this research is just proof-of-concept with more work to do, but it is certainly promising work. Potentially we could see neural progenitors created from the skin of ALS patients and other diseases to treat if not cure them.
Futuremark has released an update for the latest version of the popular benchmarking software 3DMark. The software will now be compatible with systems that have up to four GPUs. The company had hoped to have the fix out much sooner but it turned out to be more than a simple driver issue. Also added in v1.1 is the Ice Storm Extreme benchmark, a more intensive test for mobile devices including tablets and ultrabooks.
The technology of the future may be quite different from what we are use to today, with the ongoing development of many materials with new and special properties. Among them are nanowires which can have their electrical characteristics determined by controlling what they are made of and their design. Researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign have recently discovered the spontaneous growth of nanowires with differing cores and outer shells.
There are a few ways to grow nanowires and all of them require a substrate for the wires to grow off of. Typically silicon is used for this, but the researchers decided to use graphene, a single-atom thick sheet of carbon, because it is cheaper, flexible, and less of it is needed. Graphene has been used as a substrate for growing nanowires previously, but this experiment differed from those as the nanowires were to be made of indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs); three elements instead of just two. To the researchers' surprise, the elements did not form solid InGaAs nanowires but an InAs core with an InGaAs shell surrounding it. This structure is desired for different applications and usually takes multiple steps, but here it was achieved in one.
Though the researchers did not expect this result, upon further examination they realized what happened. The distance between atoms in a crystal of InAs is roughly the same as a distance within graphene, so the InAs molecules fell into place, while the InGaAs molecules surrounded them.
We have a little bit of everything for you to start your week with, including another look at the XFX Radeon HD 7790 Black Edition 1GB video card. Logitech recently reinvented its gaming line with new technology and materials, and luckily there's a review on the G500s gaming mouse to see all the improvements. For the photography crowd, we have a look at an SLR sling backpack from Caselogic that could keep it safe while traveling. If you need new speakers, then perhaps the Ineo AlienVibes W601 system could fit the bill. For something a little different, we have the top five Google Chrome extensions to help with productivity, as well as nine alternatives to Skype for VoIP and voice chat.
Scientists at the University of Illinois have developed a digital camera that functions in a similar way to an insect's eye. The prototype camera has 180 small lenses embedded in a curved mount, which enables it to capture high resolution panoramic photos with a continuous depth-of-field. The camera is made by inflating a flat layer of lenses into a hemispherical eye-shape, similar to eyes found in insects. This technology has a wide variety of possible applications, and could eventually be used in anything from surveillance systems to UAVs.
Each lens focusses light onto a photosensitive silicon layer, which is then built up with images from the other lenses to form a representation of the objects around the camera. The viewing angle of the lens is around 160 degrees, however the prototype camera has a relatively low resolution. John Rogers, a material scientist at the university, says that with the basic designs his team have developed, they can now work on increasing the resolution by adding more and more lenses to the camera.
AMD has launched a new division which aims allow companies to design their own processors for specific applications using the basis of AMD's existing APU technology, while incorporating the company's own intellectual property. This has already been applied in the upcoming Playstation 4, which utilises a heavily modified APU based on the Jaguar core, but until now, there has not been a dedicated division for custom chips. It is hoped that the advent of this new division will help generate the profit that AMD so greatly needs.
One example of the application of this new initiative would be use in Smart TVs, where the APU could contain hardware-accelerated decoders for specific video file types. Interestingly, the new division could enable AMD to incorporate ARM cores into its existing APUs, which may eventually open doors for AMD to enter the ARM SoC market. This could then lead to more powerful graphical rendering capabilities on smaller ARM-based devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Flowstorm is a top-down 2.5D racing and aerial combat game created with the Unity 3D engine. I suck at it. To call the game unforgiving would be an understatement – more like sadistic. You control a rocket ship through various levels, but if any part of the ship other than the armored underside touches a wall, you shatter. We're not talking high speed collisions here; you can be going as slow as possible, just lightly scrape the side of the rocket against the wall, and BOOM! It's a good thing the death animations are beautifully done, slightly soothing the pain of dying over and over.
The controls are simple to use yet hard to master. I know that sounds cliché, but it really applies here. W or Up Arrow accelerates, while A or Left Arrow and D or Right Arrow turn you left and right, respectively. When the game mode permits it, pressing Shift or Spacebar fires a grenade – its length of travel and arc depends on how long you hold down the key. Pressing R, Tab, or Return respawns you; you'll be using that a lot. The game also supports a gamepad, though I think that would make it even thougher to control. No matter what your preferred control method is, your rocket is affected by gravity, firmly planting Flowstorm in the Thrust-clone sub-genre.
Flowstorm sets itself apart from other Thrust-clones with its unique sliding mechanic. As I mentioned earlier, your underside is armored. With careful manipulation – and maybe a bit of luck – you can use the underside of your rocket to slide across surfaces and keep momentum through turns. It's an interesting mechanic that can be quite useful in the racing levels, though probably not so much in aerial combat. It also happens to be essential in one of the six "game modes" you can partake in.
The reason I put "game modes" in quotes is because Flowstorm handles them in a rather unique way: each level features all six modes...at once. Let me explain. It's probably more apt to call them "styles of play" rather than game modes. When you select a level, you will see six leaderboards, each representing a different style of play. The most basic leaderboard is titled Racers, which is simply finishing the level as fast as possible. Environmentalists tasks you with finishing while using as little fuel as possible (this is where the sliding would be essential, as it conserves fuel), Accelerators is finishing as fast as possible under constant acceleration, Counterclockers requires finishing the level without turning right, Clockers requires finishing the level without turning left, and finally Untouchables is finishing the level without touching the ground. This is a great way of doing things because it takes out the tedious step of choosing a game mode – the game handles that for you. Release the accelerate key and the Accelerators time disappears. Touch the ground and Untouchables disappears. It's a very novel system and absolutely perfect for a game where you frequently die.
Such a system also lends itself well to level creation as the map creator doesn't have to worry about choosing which game mode(s) to allow. And yes, that was a subtle hint at another great feature of Flowstorm – it comes with a level editor! Though I did not get to test out the level editor – it's only available in the standalone version of the game and not the free-to-play web version that I tried – based on the videos, it looks quite easy and intuitive to use. If you have any experience using the Pen Tool in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, or the Curve Tools in 3D modeling programs like Maya, you'll be right at home in Flowstorm's level editor. In fact, it may actually be easier than those aforementioned tools, as you can easily add and remove points, divide segments in half, and toggle linearity (lines vs. curves). After you lay out a path, you can set the spawn point and place checkpoints and various props to bring the level to life.
As I mentioned above, there is a free-to-play web version that's currently available at the official Flowstorm site. It's classified as Alpha 4.0, so don't expect perfection or a complete game, but it's certainly very playable. It features five racing levels, three racing levels with targets you have to destroy, and one local 1v1 combat level. You can register for free to have the game save your scores, as well as provide you with stats. The standalone version supports PC, Mac, and Linux. Though I'm a bit late for the Kickstarter (it ended unsuccessfully on Thursday), Swedish developer Neat Corporation (the duo of Jenny "Sranine" Nordenborg and Joachim "Acegikmo" Holmér) is continuing development. Multiple rockets are planned, each with unique properties (two are in the game right now, though the fatter Rooket doesn't have crash animations, so it's not as satisfying to play), as well as a 2v2 multiplayer mode where you kill opponents to steal energy cores that you then have to bring to your base. So go vote YES on Greenlight – don't blame them if you suck at the game like I do.
Enermax has a new entry into the mid tower gaming chassis market with the COENUS line. Users are first greeted with a case that has a large amount of mesh exterior, providing for improved ventilation, and a side window exposing the innards for all to see. The case can support up to eight 3.5" or 2.5" hard drives in a variety of configurations with drive rails providing for easy installation. Up to three dual slot video cards can also be accommodated based on the chosen hard drive configuration. The COENUS ECA3290A-G is available now with an MSRP of $69.99.
Cooler Master has announced a new website aimed at informing customers about their products, Cooler Master University. The first guide takes a look at the variety of Cherry MX switches available in mechanical keyboards. Future topics include gaming surfaces and mouse grip styles. Senior Product Marketing Manager Bryant Nguyen said, “We’re committed to educating new users and enthusiasts to better understand how the technologies implemented by Cooler Master can augment their computer experience.”
Over the past week or so we've had a look at another AMD HD 7790 video card, this time the Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 2GB OC. Unlike past models with only 1GB of VRAM, Sapphire doubled it to help out with more eye candy in games. We also had a look at the AVATAR Mercury Ultrabook AVIU-145A2, which proved to be a very solid laptop from a relatively unknown company outside Latin America. There's even a USB Auto Update Guide that should help make your life a little easier when plugging in a USB drive to your PC.
On the news side, Techland, developer of the Dead Island series, took the wraps off its new game called Hellraid. This game, previously known as Project Hell, is a "first-person co-op slasher" in a dark fantasy world. It features everything from melee to ranged weapons, plus magical attacks, and allows for up to four players to join up in co-op. No release date is known, but it's definitely looking like a unique and challenging game. Rockstar also released the newest trailer for Grand Theft Auto V, although it's really more three trailers presented as one. Each part focuses on one of the main characters (Michael, Franklin, and Trevor) to give a background as to who these guys are and what makes them tick. GTA V is also looking pretty great too, so the trailer is definitely worth a watch.
AMD has two new Piledriver processors on the way: the FX-4350 and FX-6350. Each one offers a little speed boost and bigger L3 cache, while keeping prices low. Samsung is rumored to be creating four different tablets in sizes ranging from 7" to 11", including the Nexus 11 with an eight core CPU. That'd make it the first ever tablet with eight cores powering it, but we'll have to see what comes of any of them. For a bigger picture, literally, LG showed off a curved OLED TV packing a 55" screen. It's designed to deliver an IMAX-quality experience in your living room, but currently availability is limited to just Korea.
Corsair was supposedly up for sale, but that proved to be highly inaccurate. Instead the company is looking for an investor to help it acquire more companies to help boost Corsair's market share. The upcoming Haswell line of processors from Intel may present a problem for people with certain power supplies, as it supposedly needs a mere 0.05 amps on the 12V2 rail in the C6/C7 states. There aren't a lot of PSUs that can deliver that low amount of power, so we'll just have to see what happens. Also on the Intel side, the company has shown off its latest Iris integrated graphics, which delivers two to three times the performance of past generations and even provides support for 4K resolutions. Intel also found a new CEO in Brian Krzanich, who'll take over for Paul Otellini on May 16.
For some science news, a group of nanophysicists at IBM created a movie consisting entirely of carbon monoxide molecules. The movie is pretty fascinating to see, especially given its stop motion animation. Scientists at North Carolina State University were able to create a new type of ultraviolet laser using zinc oxide by fixing a stability issue in a rather novel fashion. Another group, this time at Carnegie Mellon University, managed to create touch-based interfaces on demand, by way of WorldKit. It basically makes a smart room where any surface can now be used as a controller. Eventually the team wants to allow for interfaces floating in the air, which would further bridge the gap between science fiction and science fact once realized.
Corsair, one of the leading manufacturers of all things computer-related, has recently announced two new products for those looking for solid-state drives. The first is an HDD and SSD Cloning Kit, which allows for quick and easy transfers for anyone upgrading from a traditional hard drive to an SSD. The new SSD is connected via a USB cable, then the user selects the source and destination drives, and presses a button. All the data is transfered over with no fuss. The cable supports USB 3.0 and 2.0, with transfers speeds up to 180MB/s on the former. The Cloning Kit also supports 2.5" hard drives, and works with Windows XP on up or OS X 9.2/10.2 and above. It's available now for $24.99 and includes a three-year warranty.
The other new product is a piece of software called the SSD Toolbox. This is designed for users to install, configure, and optimize their new Corsair SSDs, as well as monitor the drive's health. It allows for the firmware to be updated, allocate space to prolong life and improve performance, display SMART status, securely wipe the drive, and more, plus a future update will enable cloning of the SSD. The software only works on Windows computers and is available as a free download from the Downloads tab of any Corsair SSD product page.
Although we have only recently begun to see 4G mobile networks being rolled out, one UK university is already looking into the development of 5G . The University of Surrey has put in plans for a £35 million (~ $55 million) '5G Innovation Center' where it hopes to develop 5G mobile technology. The university also plans to install lamppost-based stations to be used to test any future technologies on a small-scale network.
The venture is being funded jointly by mobile and infrastructure providers, as well as the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund. Surrey University's professor of mobile wireless communications, Rahim Tafozolli, believes that 5G networks could be rolled out as early as 2020. As of yet, there is no defined standard for 5G communications, but with work from this research centre, and others around the world, it is hoped that the search for 5G connectivity will soon begin.
Good news for anyone with or looking to get a Barnes and Noble Nook HD or HD+ e-reader, as the company announced both devices now have access to the Google Play store. Before the two could only access Nook Apps, which were separate from regular Android apps, despite the use of a heavily modified version of Android 4.0. Now, however, the Nook HD and HD+ are more akin to other Android tablets, as well as moving ahead of the Amazon Kindle Fire and Fire HD. The update for the Nook HD and HD+ should have arrived earlier today over WiFi, so be sure to connect to an available network if you haven't received the update prompt. Once installed, you can browse more than 700,000 apps to get whatever you desire on your Nook HD or HD+, plus more music, movies, and TV shows.
Scientists at Havard University have built the smallest robot capable of flying, named the 'robo-fly'. The device weighs less than a gram, and employs insect-like 'wings' to fly, instead of conventional rotors or propellors. The construction is mainly carbon fiber, and uses piezoelectric material contracting around 120 times a second to power the 'wings'.
The robot's designers suggest that the robot may eventually have applications in rescue operations, for example locating surviors in cramped spaces, although it was not initially designed for this purpose. At the current stage of development, the robo-fly requires an external power source, however scientists are working on incorporating a small internal power source instead of using the external supply.
They say opposites attract, and electromagnetically, this is true, but what about gravitationally? For many years, researchers have been wondering if antimatter, the electromagnetic opposite of normal matter, falls up or down in a gravitational field. Now researchers at Berkeley Lab are examining their data for 434 anti-hydrogen atoms to answers the question.
Antimatter is a source of many questions concerning the entire Universe as theoretically the Big Bang that produced all normal matter should have produced equal parts antimatter. Obviously this is not the case because normal matter remains today. Since realizing this inconsistency, researchers have been trying to find all the differences between antimatter and normal matter, including the direction the particles move in a gravitational field. Watching atoms fall is not easy though, but the Berkeley Lab researchers realized they could use the magnetic traps holding the anti-atoms to make some measurements. Within a magnetic trap, magnetic fields will counteract gravity and hold the particles up, but once the fields are switched off, they will be free to move, and they can be detected when they strike the walls of the trap.
While this approach is very promising, the data was not very revealing. All it really demonstrated was that this approach could work, but the equipment and experiment needs some upgrades before the uncertainty is small enough to know for certain.
If you're in the market for a new video card, we have two reviews you should check out. They cover complete opposite ends of the price spectrum however, with the XFX R7790 Black Edition at the low and the ZOTAC GTX Titan AMP! Edition at the extreme high. If you just need a new keyboard and want to step into the mechanical realm, then there's the Tt eSPORTS MEKA G1 Illuminated. It has all the same features as the original MEKA G1, but this time with LED backlit keys. The media player crowd is also covered, as we have a review on the ASUS CUBE Google TV Media Streamer. This new take on the Google TV platform also includes access to 50GB of cloud storage through ASUS, so it could be just what your living room needs. We also have a new podcast covering a variety of topics for your listening pleasure.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini's retirement from the company has been known since last November, but it wasn't clear who would suceed him. He planned to retire this May, and since we're now a couple of days in, we finally know who is next in line. Intel announced that current Chief Operating Officier (COO) Brian Krzanich will assume the CEO title on May 16, during the company's annual stockholders' meeting. Krzanich has been with Intel for 31 years, so he's the perfect internal candidate for the job. The company also announced Renée James was elected president of the board of directors, and she'll begin her new role on May 16, too. Both executives are looking forward to their new roles, with Krzanich particularly looking forward to moving Intel faster into "ultra mobility."
For decades science fiction has told us that the future will be filled with touch-based interfaces, and while in some cases that is true today, it is still limited to specialized devices. For that fantastic vision to be realized, projector, sensor, and computing technologies will have to be combined and intelligently designed to respond to a variety of inputs. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have brought that combination a little closer with the creation of WorldKit; a system to generate interfaces on the fly.
To create a smart room essentially requires a projector and a depth sensor, such as the Microsoft Kinect. WorldKit is the software to use with this hardware in order to interact with them and other devices. Instead of requiring an interface to have been created beforehand, WorldKit allows a user to paint an area they wish to use as a controller, and select what it controls from a menu. Using the data from the depth sensor, the software is also able to compensate for the curvature of objects in the room and warp the projections so they appear flat on a surface. This also allows the system to work with a standard coordinate system.
Next the researchers want to improve WorldKit to allow users to interact with interfaces floating in free-space, instead of just on the surfaces of objects. They see many applications for this technology, especially as devices become so advanced that we may see interactive light bulbs, that combine all of the hardware into a single unit.
Intel has just announced Iris, the newest iteration of its built-in graphics solutions. Iris marks an upgrade over previous versions of Intel HD Graphics and is targeted at ultrabooks and similar mobile platforms. New systems that combine Iris with fourth generation Intel Core processors will see 3D graphics performance increases of two to three times, depending on processor model. In addition to improved graphics performance, Iris will also offer improvements in video and photo editing as well as providing the ability to display at 4k Ultra HD resolutions.
Noctua is adding a pulse width modulation version of its popular NF-A14 series of fans. The fans have a max speed of 1500RPM, and the advanced speed control options provided by PWM give the fans an impressive feature set. Like previous models in this series, the new fan comes with Advanced Acoustic Optimization as well as Flow Acceleration Channels. CEO Mag. Roland Mossig gave the reason behind the new fan, stating that "we got many requests for a square frame PWM version for use as a case fan and on watercooling radiators. We can now meet this demand with the new NF-A14 PWM."
Leadership can be an interesting topic of study, as one tries to discover the intricacies that make someone a good leader and the reason a leadership structure is needed in the first place. When it comes to survival, it makes sense that the most experienced and skilled persons would direct those less capable than they, but what about in games? That is the question researchers at Penn State sought to answer by analyzing 54,000 posts by 2500 players of an augmented reality game.
Leading up to the release of Halo 2, Microsoft created the I Love Bees game that had players decoding messages that sent them to payphones, for additional information. Naturally players communicated with each other to work together and discover the clues, and even though there was no formal leadership structure to the game, the players developed their own. Pouring over the posts at various websites and forums, the researchers made the interesting discovery that these generated leadership structures actually mimicked military leadership structures in both design and even designation. One group actually established generals to handle strategies, lieutenants to deal with specific tactics, and privates to follow orders, but none of the players were assigned their rank; they naturally selected their own.
Despite the similarities to the US military leadership structure, the researchers point out that very few of the players had any military experience to draw from. The leadership structures the players employed just spontaneously emerged from their desire to play the game most effectively.
Corsair is a name known to virtually every computer enthusiast, and today we have two reviews on different spectrums of the hardware scale. There's the AX860i power supply with digital (DSP) control for voltage regulation, and the Neutron Series 256GB SSD for all your storage needs. For something entirely different altogether, there's a hands-on preview of the Oculus Rift VR headset to see what a possible future of gaming has in store. We also have a review of the Arion Urban Zen headset featuring the Samurai Song design to help set it apart from the crowd. For the RTS gamer there's a review on StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, the second part of Blizzard's long-awaited sequel. We also have a book written by Whoopty, an admin at XSReviews, that is now on sale after four years of work.
Intel's Haswell processors are on the way, but it appears some power supplies may have some issues getting things started. A new report shows that Haswell's C6/C7 states require 0.05 amps on the 12V2 rail, which could be a problem as some PSUs can't supply that low level power. If that's the case then it opens up a lot of stability problems or the simple fact of having a PSU shut off entirely. Intel's Reseller Center website includes a handy list of power supplies, and when you sort by a minimum 12V2 load of zero amps, there's a grand total of 23 units that meet the requirement: 19 Corsair, three InWin, and one Seasonic. There could be more that support it that aren't included on Intel's list, but chances are it won't be too many more.
However, despite all of this there is still some good news. Corsair's Robert Pearce believes motherboard manufacturers could disable the C6/C7 states in the BIOS to ensure compatibility with more PSUs. Users can always enable those states later on once their power supply supports them. Corsair is working to make sure all of its PSUs support the C6/C7 states, and hopefully other companies do too.
The International, a $1 million Dota 2 tournament put on by Valve, is back for the third year in a row. Taking place in Seattle, WA from August 7-11, the tournament promises days filled with competitive Dota. Valve has announced the 13 invited teams which include a mix of Western and Chinese teams including returning champions Invictus Gaming and fan favorites like Natus Vincere and Team Liquid. Western qualifiers will take place from May 13-19 and will be hosted by The GDStudio while Eastern qualifiers will take place May 20-26 and are hosted by Beyond The Summit. The qualifiers will fill out the remaining three teams in the 16 team bracket.
Carbon nanotubes are funny little things as they come in so many forms with so many different properties. For example, some are great conductors of electricity while others are semiconductors, and all of this is determined by their structure. One critical characteristic of a nanotube's structure is its chirality and finally researchers at Aalto University, A.M. Prokhorov General Physics Institute RAS, and the Center for Electron Nanoscopy of Technical University have found a way to grow nanotubes with preferred chirality.
A simple example of chirality is handedness, as some objects twist in the right-handed direction or in the opposite, left-handed direction. Carbon nanotubes are more complicated though and require two chiral indices to be described. The researchers discovered that by reducing a solid solution in carbon monoxide they were able to form special cobalt nanoparticles to serve as a catalyst. From these catalysts the researchers were able to grow nanotubes with a 90% preference to being semiconducting and a 53% preference to having the chiral indices (6, 5), at 500 ºC. After dropping the temperature to 400 ºC, the researchers found the preferred chiral indices shifted to (7, 6) and (9, 4).
That is a lot of numbers relating to a complex topic, but what it boils down to is that the researchers have achieved something that could lead to a better understanding of how nanotubes grow. From there nanotubes with specific properties could be more easily produced, and thus used in devices and technologies.