A new day is here, with a couple of items for you to check out. There is another take on the MSI GTX 960 Gaming 2G video card, complete with a Twin Frozr V cooler and factory overclock to get your games looking their best the second the card is installed. Our other item for the day is a preview of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC, with performance numbers going up against other tablets and smartphones to see where it falls against the competition.
Chances are that if you have been following displays in recent years you have heard about OLEDs. There is great interest in them because pixels in an OLED display emit their own light, instead of needing a backlight, and the displays can be flexible. While there are many products that use them, OLED displays are still uncommon in part because they are still expensive, but that should be changing soon, thanks to researchers at MIT and their startup Kateeva.
Like many relatively young technologies, the promise of OLEDs has been talked about a lot, but not all of them have been realized. The flexibility of the thin films has been demonstrated, as has the improved brightness and saturation, thanks to the pixels directly emitting light. What has not quite materialized yet though is the lower cost of manufacturing. This is what the MIT researchers have tackled with their inkjet-like YIELDjet platform. YIELDjet FLEX is one of two technologies they have developed, and this one protects the OLED material from being exposed to contaminates by using a nitrogen chamber. Normally a vacuum chamber would be used, but the nitrogen chamber is ten times more effective and cuts down on waste and cost. The researchers hope to see displays made with YIELDjet FLEX in products by the end of the year.
The second YIELDjet technology the researchers have created removes the need of shadow masks for laying down patterns. Instead of the masks, which cause waste and can cause defects, the new system uses print heads with hundreds of nozzles to deposit the OLED materials directly onto a substrate. This could potentially cut the costs of larger displays by half.
The Open Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) platform was first announced at CES 2015 by Razer and Sensics. The two companies have now announced the addition of 13 new partners for the platform. The 13 new partners are 3DRudder, Cyberith, Impulsonic, Jaunt, Lucidscape, Pixel Titans, SoftKinetic, Sonic VR, Tactical Haptics, Tammeka Games, VisiSonics, VR Bits, and VR Union. The partners bring experience from several different fields including game design, 3D simulation, cinematic VR, and hardware and software solutions. Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan talked about the new partners and OSVR stating, "The reception of OSVR exceeded even our own expectations and we’re working through numerous partner requests since CES. Being able to bring together companies doing amazing work in all areas of virtual reality can accelerate consumer-ready devices and improve overall user experiences."
Evolve is the latest big name multiplayer FPS to hit the market, and NVIDIA has been hard at work to help ensure that gamers have the best possible experience with the game. NVIDIA released a new GeForce Game Ready driver to coincide with the release of the game, and benefits of the new driver include "support for GeForce SLI technology and one-click game setting optimizations within GeForce Experience."Evolve is compatible with NVIDIA Dynamic Super Resolution at 4K resolutions and can also be streamed to the NVIDIA SHIELD. The company also plans to integrate GameWorks features in the "very near" future. Brian Burke of NVIDIA's gaming team described the game stating, "It combines the teamwork of Team Fortress, the dedicated roles of Battlefield, the ability to play as the monster from Left 4 Dead and the asymmetrical gameplay from top multiplayer first-person shooter games."
ASUSTOR, a leading innovator and provider of network storage solutions, has just released an enhanced version of its AiMaster mobile NAS management application. AiMaster allows ASUSTOR device owners to initialize their system and create RAID volumes along with other basic configurations, login to ASUSTOR’s App Central and install applications to their NAS, and even connect to other ASUSTOR applications which allows them to find files, view photos, listen to music, and more. The latest version of AiMaster gives users the ability to unleash a wealth of features that their NAS device offers, through the convenience of a mobile device. The Product Manager at ASUSTOR, James Su, stated that “We believe that AiMaster will prove to be an app that users will love to use, providing the ultimate mobile NAS experience via integrated personal cloud creation and management.”
The enhanced version of AiMaster from ASUSTOR is currently available to Android users only, with the iOS version launching in the second quarter of this year.
As a part of GRIDTuesday, NVIDIA has added Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons to its GRID library. The game, which has won multiple Game of the Year awards as an indie title, offers players a rich and emotional story in which two boys must journey to distant lands, working together to overcome many deadly obstacles. Gamers must control both Naia and Naiee, the two brothers who embark on a journey to save their ailing father, in order to get past various obstacles and characters. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is comprised of adventure, puzzle-solving, and platform-style elements, and makes use of unique controls that are sure to satisfy SHIELD device owners.
For many people, the promise of 3D printing is an easy way to produce parts and objects cheaply, from a table-top device. For some though, the technology has more potential by merging it with other things. Researchers at the University of Washington have done just that by adding special molecules to the filament.
The 3D printer the researchers were working with possessed two print heads and while one contained just polycaprolactone, the other contained a mixture of 99.5% of that plastic and insertions of spiropyran. Spiropyran is a molecule that will change color when it is stretched. With the inclusion of this molecule, the researchers were able to print objects that reacted to stretching, acting like a force meter. It took just 15 minutes for them to print their force sensitive object, with materials that cost less than a dollar, indicating that this incorporation of designer chemistry can be done quickly and cheaply.
By merging 3D printing and designer chemistry, there is definite potential for new applications, such as passive force meters and medical implants.
VirusTotal, a website that was acquired by Google in 2012 and offers free checking of suspicious files using multiple antivirus engines, has announced an initiative to combat false positives generated from antivirus programs. In order to do this, the company encourages software developers to share files found within their software catalogue, which VirusTotal then marks accordingly. If a false positive is generated by an antivirus program, VirusTotal contacts the respective antivirus vender to correct the error. Microsoft has already partnered with VirusTotal to help kick start this initiative of combatting false positives in antivirus programs, and the partnership thus far has enabled VirusTotal to remedy over 6,000 false positives thanks to the sharing of metadata about software collections.
The middle of the week is here, with some reviews in tow to get you over the hump. There are a couple looks at the MSI GTX 960 Gaming 2G card, which features a rather large factory overclock and a custom cooler to keep everything in line. The SilverStone Strider Gold S ST1500-GS power supply gets put to the test to see how this fully modular 1500W unit performs. We also have a review on the EVGA TORQ X5 gaming mouse, with its 6400DPI optical sensor and ambidextrous design. Finishing off for the day is the mid-range Samsung Galaxy A5 smartphone, which may be ideal for people who don't need the absolute best phone.
From rumble packs to clicky keyboards, haptics are an important part of our experiences with technologies. Except that is with touchscreens, as though surfaces remain flat to the touch, but work is being done to change that. Researchers at Northwestern University and Carnegie Mellon University have recently made a discovery that active haptic feedback to touchscreens.
To do their experiment, the researchers worked with the virtual bump illusion, which uses forces on fingers to make a person think they are touching a bump on a surface. This is a well-known phenomenon. What the researchers discovered has to do with how the brain interprets information from multiple fingers at the same time. The subjects were asked to run two of their fingers over a flat surface with two virtual bumps on it. However, if the distance between the two bumps matched the distance between the two fingers, the brain will actually think it encountered one bump instead of two.
This discovery provides a window into how the brain registers sensory information, which is important if haptic screens are ever developed.
JetBlue Airways will become the first carrier in the United States to begin accepting Apple Pay in-flight starting next week. Travelers will be able to use compatible devices to purchase snacks, drinks, and seats with more legroom on select transcontinental flights. Travel consultant with Atmosphere Research Group Henry Harteveldt described the move saying, "This is a smart move and, I believe, just the first of many we’ll see from the world’s airlines. It’s yet another way for an airline to be an effective retailer across all points of sale." Apple Pay offers the potential for quicker sales than the traditional method of using credit cards.
Yelp, the company that connects consumers with great local businesses through multiple platforms, has revealed that it has officially acquired Eat24 for $134 million. Founded in 2008 in order to provide consumers with improved online food ordering and stellar customer service, Eat24 currently allows approximately 20,000 restaurants in over 1,500 cities nationwide to offer online delivery and takeout services. Eat24 currently offers online food orders through the web and mobile applications, and also provides around the clock live chat, email, and phone support. Jeremy Stoppelman, the Yelp co-founder and chief executive officer, stated that "As more food ordering transactions move online, further integrating Eat24 will enhance our user experience with an easy-to-use product and service that allows our large consumer audience to transact directly with businesses." Stoppelman went on to say that "With this acquisition, we gain more tools and expertise to help engage our users from discovery through transaction in a key vertical for Yelp."
Corsair has announced a pair of new liquid CPU coolers, the H100i GTX and H80i GT. Both coolers have an improved cooling block to handle higher temperature output of newer CPUs. The H100i GTX has a 240mm radiator while the H80i has a 120mm "double thick" radiator. Corsair has included SP120L PWM fans to dissipate heat from the radiator. The included Corsair Link software gives users the ability to change the RGB lighting of the system as well as monitoring temperatures. Both coolers support all of the latest sockets from Intel and AMD. The H100i GTX will have an MSRP of $119.99 and the H80i GT will cost $99.99.
Without charge, Google currently allows users of its Drive service to access a total of 15GB for online storage. While subscription plans do exist that allow users to store more files on Google Drive, they come at a price. The company has just announced an enticing offer that provides Google Drive users with 2GB of storage for free, which is a permanent account upgrade, so long as they complete an account security check. The security check covers a variety of different account aspects, including backup email address and phone numbers, recent account activity, account permissions, and two-step verification settings. Users should be able to go through the security check, which is something that users should be frequently doing anyhow, in roughly five minutes.
The offer to receive 2GB of free Google Drive storage is available to users until February 17, 2015. According to Google, the additional storage should show up within a few weeks after the offer expires.
Working with nanoscale structures can be very difficult for the obvious reason that they are very small. This includes nanowires, which could eventually be used for advanced optical technologies, because their optical properties can be tuned. That tuning is very difficult to realize though, on nanostructures, but researchers at Berkeley Lab have made a discovery that could ease that problem.
The researchers were specifically working with gallium nitride nanowires, because in its bulk form the material interacts with blue and ultraviolet light but adding indium allows it to interact with red light as well. In this case the catch is that the indium atoms stress the material and degrade performance. As nanowires though, that stress is not an issue, but tunability still is. To address that issue the researchers investigated what would happen if bi-metallic catalysts were used to grow the nanowires. Normally only single metal catalysts have been used, but the gold nickel alloy used gave the researchers control over the orientation of the nanowires, depending on the amount of each metal.
It appears the reason for this control comes from how the nanowires align with the surface of the alloy substrate. The researchers also found that this affected the surface properties of the nanowires, and surface properties are very powerful for nanostructures. This is the area the researchers are focusing on next, to see how far they can go in tailoring the nanowires' optical properties.
It may only be February, but Bethesda is already looking ahead to June, as it has announced it will be holding its first-ever E3 conference on June 14. That's a full two days before E3 officially kicks off, and the conference will take place in Hollywood, CA, with the studio inviting fans to attend live or via a Twitch stream. Typically the E3 conferences are reserved for Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, Sony, and Nintendo (and in that order, usually), with Bethesda in the past appearing during Microsoft's conference. However, this year Bethesda wants its own show, which means the hype and speculation can officially begin in earnest.
So, is the conference for the big one, Fallout 4? It has been five years since Fallout: New Vegas arrived, and three years since The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, so it should certainly be time for Fallout 4. Or will the conference reveal some news on the new DOOM, especially since beta access was included in pre-orders of Wolfenstein: The New Order? Could we get something about Dishonored 2 to confirm it as a franchise? Would Bethesda announce something on all three? Hopefully, but for now, everything is pure and utter speculation. Speculation that you can sure wil be rampant until June 14 rolls around.
ASUS has officially announced a 4GB version of its value oriented GeForce GTX 750 Ti Strix graphics card. The latest card is identical to the 2GB version of the GeForce GTX 750 Ti Strix, as it features clock speeds of 1124MHz core, 1202MHz GPU Boost, and 5.40GHz effective memory, but offers gamers double the memory. Since the card is basically the same as the previously released version of the ASUS GeForce GTX 750 Ti Strix, the 4GB model still offers 640 CUDA cores based on the Maxwell architecture as well as a 128-bit wide GDDR5 memory interface.
Pricing and availability surrounding the 4GB version of the GeForce GTX 750 Ti Strix was not immediately released by ASUS.
The week keeps rolling right along, with a couple of items for you to check out. There is a look at the Plextor M6e Black Edition 256GB PCIe SSD, which is a nicer looking M6e drive to go along with more color schemes. It should still have the same performance as the regular M6e SSD, but you'll need to check on the review to see for sure. We also have the Corsair Hydro H110i GT CPU cooler, a revamped and improved version of the H110 with a new pump and improved static pressure 140mm fans.
Carbon is an amazing element in part because it can form so many materials with various properties, including graphite, diamond, fullerenes, nanotubes, and graphene. Since its discovery, graphene has been of particular interest for its mechanical and electrical properties. Now a new allotrope of carbon modelled by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University may steal away some of that interest.
Graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal structure, like chicken wire. What the Virginia researchers have theorized is a pentagonal structure, which is why they call the new material penta-graphene. According to their predictions, the new material would be very stable, very strong, and survive temperatures up to 1000 K. It would also have the curious property that if you stretch it in one direction, it will expand in the perpendicular direction as well, instead of contracting. Perhaps most interesting is that it will be a semiconductor and not a conductor, like graphene is.
Sadly all of the work so far is theoretical and based on computer models, so a means of fabricating it must be discovered to test any of it. Once that is achieved though, you can bet a lot of people will be exploring penta-graphene's various applications.
BIOSTAR has launched its latest motherboard for Intel based systems, the Gaming Z97X. This motherboard represents the first attempt by BIOSTAR at a motherboard designed specifically for gamers "from the ground up to be cool looking and high performing." The board has support for socket 1150 processors in an ATX form factor with three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, PCIe M.2 support, dual gigabit Ethernet, and BIOSTAR Super Hi-Fi Audio. Also included is the Gaming Commander box, a device that fits in a standard CD-ROM slot on your case with several interesting features. Users will have access to microphone in and audio out jacks with a built-in USB DAC, volume control buttons, and various temperature indicators.
HyperX has announced its latest gaming peripheral, the Cloud II headset, delivering updates and improved performance over the previous generation Cloud headset. The headset uses a USB sound card audio control box to deliver hardware based 7.1 virtual surround sound. Users will have full control over their sound with separate controls for audio and microphone as well as a toggle switch for 7.1 sound. The sound card also provides "noise cancellation, auto gain control and echo cancellation," while the headband and ear cups are made of 100% memory to provide comfort when wearing them for long periods of time. The Cloud II is compatible with PC, Mac, PS4, and Xbox One.
We all know how important it is to keep our electronics cool, and on the macroscale, this is not hard to achieve. On the microscale however, it is more difficult because even measuring the temperature of the components is a challenge. Researchers at the University of Southern California though have found an ingenious way to make those measurements, which should translate to the semiconductor industry easily.
Part of what makes it so hard to measure the temperature of a microelectronic device, like a transistor, is that a temperature probe will actually affect the temperature of the system. This makes accurate measurements impossible, so simulations have been used to infer temperatures within devices. The California researchers realized a way to make the measurements without a temperature probe by using an electron microscope. When the temperature of a material changes, so too does its volume and density, which is what the researchers are measuring with a transmission electron microscope. The electrons from the microscope creates plasmons in the material, which shift depending on its density, and now these shifts have been analyzed closely enough to make local temperature measurements.
Among the advantages of this new technique, named Plasmon Energy Expansion Thermometry, is that it can measure temperatures within a device, like a transistor, and not just on its surface. Semiconductor manufacturers already use transmission electron microscopes to measure the size of their devices, so measuring temperatures should not be too difficult for them to do as well. The research has so far been done with aluminum, so the next step is to translate the technique to other materials, including silicon.
ASUSTOR, a leading innovator and provider of network storage solutions, has just released the beta version of ADM 2.4. This latest version of the exclusive operating system for ASUSTOR NAS devices includes a variety of new functions such as an improved shared folder encryption mechanism, optimized performance for SSDs, newly added multimedia previews, and support for SNMP network management protocol. The beta version of ADM version 2.4 also includes an enhanced Network Defender that allows users to configure a trusted list of trusted IP addresses in addition to manually configuring black and white lists using the IP country or area of origin via the Geo IP expansion module.
The latest version of ADM is available for immediate download and is suitable for use on all ASUSTOR NAS devices.
Although information surrounding the systems that power the Super Bowl is generally not revealed to the public, it has been announced this year that a custom system from MAINGEAR was used to run the Super Bowl halftime show. The system, which was needed to render animation at 3780 x 3024, was comprised of an Intel Core i7-5930K processor, an ASUS X-99E WS motherboard, 16GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM, a Samsung 850 PRO 256GB SSD, two Corsair AX 1200i PSUs, and four NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Z GPUs in SLI. Cooling for the MAINGEAR system was provided through an all liquid cooling solution utilizing EK Water Block products.
It is the start of a new day, and a new week, with plenty of items to help get you going. There is a review of the ASUS GTX 980 Strix, with its custom cooler and factory overclock to get your games looking even better for longer. On the other side, we also have the ASUS R9 290X Matrix Platinum, which is the company's flagship AMD card, complete with a sweet looking cooler and ROG features. The Phanteks PH-TC14S CPU cooler gets tested to see if it is the one for you to keep your processor from burning up. If you're in the market for a new computer and aren't sure what processor to get, we have an article covering the best CPU for your buck. Finishing things off today are the Noreve iPad Air 2 Protective Cases to keep your new tablet safe from harm.
Of all the data used by humanity, some 99% of it travels along optical fibers, and with demand for the Internet rising, the capacity of optical fibers becomes more and more important. One way to carry more information on optical fibers is to send multiple signals at different frequencies. The issue is that these separate optical channels will still interfere with each other, causing errors, but researchers at University College London have found a way to address it.
What the researchers achieved was a way to receive all of the optical channels together, effectively eliminating the interactions between them. The researchers have already tested it using a 16QAM super-channel and high-speed super-receiver, successfully receiving all of the channels without error. The researchers are next want to test with 64QAM, 256QAM, and 1024QAM, which are super-channels used for digital cable TV, cable modems, and Ethernet connections respectively. To add a bit more context to this advancement, currently optical signals can travel about 3190 Km without error. This method would increase the error-free distance to 5890 Km just be changing the receiver; without having to replace the optical cables, which can be an expensive endeavor.
According to Taha Khalifa, the general manager for Intel in the Middle East and North Africa region, the company plans to launch its 10nm chips in early 2017. The first batch of 10nm processors, which will be code named Cannonlake and are the "Tick" in Intel’s "Tick Tock" cadence , are expected to offer SoC interconnect improvements such as shared coherent physical memory addresses and a more capable set of heterogeneous functionality. The 10nm chips will initially be integrated into tablet offerings and mobile devices, allowing these products to take on slimmer, lighter, and more elegant designs, all while using energy more efficiently. Mainstream and high performance 10nm chips will launch sometime afterwards, catering to other markets and consumers.
Time will tell if Intel is able to follow its current projection of launching 10nm chips in 2017, as Moore’s law continues to be difficult for semiconductor companies to keep up with.
It looks like AMD isn't going to sit idly by in the video card world, as apparently it is planning to release the R9 300 series shortly. We may get the new cards this month even, or at the very least around the start of Spring. The flagship card will more than likely be the R9 390X running a Fiji XT core, with an R9 390 on a Fiji Pro core. Considering the R9 290X debuted as the flagship nearly 16 months ago, it is definitely time for AMD to get something new available. These R9 390X cards should be exceptionally fast, as they're expected to make use of SK Hynix's 3D stacked High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) to deliver up to four and a half times the bandwidth of GDDR5. This would mean 640GB/s of bandwidth on a 4096-bit bus and 1.25GT/s transfer rate, with a 1024-bit input/output interface. The R9 390X could have 4GB of HBM, along with 4096 GCN cores and maybe even a water cooler instead of an air cooler.
There is also rumor of a dual-GPU R9 395X2 planned for the end of the year, with a water cooler and $1499 price tag. First things first will be the R9 390X, 390, 380X, 380, 370X, 370, and R7 360 sometime in the next few months. We'll have to see exactly what these cards will be like and if they'll truly have that HBM memory on the 390X, but if so, they may be the new cards to consider. The other cards in the lineup will make use of GDDR5, with the R9 380X having 4GB on a 512-bit interface, the 370X running 3GB on a 384-bit interface, and the R7 360 featuring 2GB on a 256-bit interface.
Online streaming service Netflix has recently had a great deal of success with some of the original content it has created for streaming including House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. Netflix is now in "the early stages of developing" a live action series based on the Legend of Zelda games from Nintendo. The series is being described as "Game of Thrones for a family audience" and will see Netflix work closely with Nintendo to get everything right. Representatives from Netflix and Nintendo declined to comment on the rumor.
Google has persistently upgraded its Maps application in the past, with the addition of Uber integration, shareable directions, suggestions for nearby restaurants, and more. In an effort to improve Maps, as well as compete with Yelp, Google has added a new feature to version 9.4 of Maps, known as Local Guides. The feature, which is essentially a rebranding of the City Experts program, allows Google Maps users to view destination recommendations given by individuals who are labeled as Local Guides. These city experts can only be classified as Local Guides once they successfully achieve the milestone of having 50 high-quality reviews, making them more reputable over others who review eateries, public attractions, music venues, and more.
Version 9.4 of Google Maps is expected to rollout through the Play Store in a staggered fashion, something that is quite usual for application upgrades pushed by Google.