While glass most often refers to the material used to make windows, there are many other materials that are glasses, such as obsidian (volcanic glass) and metal glasses. Some glasses are even made of carbon compounds, so they are called organic glasses and they have various applications. For some applications though, they are less efficient than inorganic counterparts, but researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have made a discovery that could change that.
Organic glasses are made using a vapor deposition process, where the molecules are evaporated at high temperature, and then condense on a substrate, forming ultrathin layers. What the researchers found is a way to alter the properties of the glass, by influencing the orientation of the molecules. This was accomplished by manipulating the temperature of the substrate. The result is organic glasses that can be more efficient and durable than currently available technologies.
Organic glasses are already used in some devices, as they are used in OLEDs, but this work could improve their use in organic solar cells by increasing their efficiency. These solar cells have the potential to be much cheaper and more resilient than modern, crystalline silicon solar cells, but have proven less efficient so far.
Starting in February of this year, Microsoft made its Windows 10 Preview program available for a limited number of smartphones. The small number of smartphones that were listed as compatible with the technical preview program was due to the system partition sizes configured by manufacturers simply being too small. In order to make Windows 10 available on additional smartphones, Microsoft had to work on a feature known as Partition Stitching, which allows partitions to be resized to support the upgrade. With work on this feature now complete, Microsoft has announced that its Windows 10 Technical Preview is now compatible with a total of 36 Lumia models. While this number may change based on device specific bugs, making the full list preliminary, it is nice to see that additional devices are supported with the next flight.
The ASSASSIN II CPU cooler has just been introduced by DEEPCOOL, a company dedicated to providing consumers with the best laptop coolers, CPU coolers, computer cases, and PC power supplies. The ASSASSIN II is quite similar to the recently announced GamerStorm Assassin II CPU cooler, and is the successor to the original Assassin CPU cooler that was released in 2011. The ASSASSIN II features an asymmetric twin-tower design, nickel-plating, a mirror finished base, and eight high-performance heatpipes, all of which ensure maximum thermal performance. DEEPCOOL has also included dual FDB bearings and rubber-covered fans with PWM function with its latest high-performance CPU cooler.
Featuring an MSRP of $89.99, the DEEPCOOL ASSASSIN II is expected to be available early next month.
3DMark's new API Overhead Test allows for multiple APIs to be tested on one GPU, provided the GPU and OS supports DirectX 11, 12, and/or Mantle. AMD also has APUs that should be fully capable of running the API Overhead Test, and that is precisely what the company recently did. The Radeon R9 290X and R7 260X were tested, as were the A10-7850K and FX-8350 processors. The video cards were tested on DirectX 11 and 12, with the hardware efficiency being the key element to show just what kind of gains to expect from jumping to the new standard. It is certainly a massive jump, with up to 16 times more graphics throughput on DX12. On the A10-7850K APU, AMD decided to test the performance/watt capabilities on DX11 and 12, and once again, the gains for DX12 are impressive. Lastly there's the FX-8350 processor and how well DX12 scales with multiple cores compared to DX11. Try not to be shocked at the boost offered by DX12.
All in all, it definitely looks like DirectX 12, with its low overhead design, will be a winner once it arrives with Windows 10. Just remember, you do need to be running Windows 10 to enjoy DirectX 12, as it's exclusive to Microsoft's new OS.
The 20nm manufacturing process is supposed to be the next step, with AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel releasing parts with it. So far only Intel has done anything, as it has used the similar 22nm process on Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge, and even the new 14nm process on Broadwell. However, GPUs from both NVIDIA and AMD, and CPUs/APUs from AMD, have only dropped down to 28nm. The mobile processor from NVIDIA, the Tegra X1, is 20nm, however. AMD was supposed to have 20nm parts out by now, and even NVIDIA's Titan X card is still on the 28nm process (hopefully 22/20nm for the Pascal line), but so far nothing. Recently some news has come out from the AMD side, and it looks like we'll have 20nm AMD APUs and SoCs, part of the company's Project Skybridge initiative, in the second half of this year. It may even extend to the AMD video card stack, but first will be the APU/SoC products.
AMD's first 20nm parts are projected to be the Amur line, which will come in both x86 and ARM flavors. The Amur line is aimed at the low power market, like the Intel Bay Trail and upcoming Cherry Trail, but will be the followup to the Nolan line, which AMD has repurposed as the Carrizo-L APUs on the 28nm process. Unfortunately, one wrinkle in the whole thing is that AMD has apparently not even begun using TSMC's 20nm process for the chips. Production usually kicks off months before release anyway, but the earliest the 20nm chips can launch will be anytime from July to the end of this year. AMD does plan for these chips to be in notebooks, tablets, and even Android devices thanks to HSA support and the GCN architecture; just not anytime soon.
AMD has yet to fully disclose when and what exactly its upcoming R9/R7 300 series will be like, but there have been some rumors providingvariousdetails. Now there's a new rumor, and is it a big one. The flagship product in the R9 300 series, the Fiji XT card, will apparently feature 8GB of HBM and be a dual GPU monster; 4GB of HBM per core. So yes, if this rumor proves true, it seems the flagship card will feature two Fiji XT GPUs on the same PCB, with 4GB of HBM per core. It is been thought the flagship card would be the R9 390X, but maybe that won't be the case here. Maybe we'll have the R9 390X as a high-powered single GPU card using a Fiji non-XT core, or maybe the R9 390X was merely an expected jump and not the true flagship. Perhaps we'll get something else, like an R9 395X or R9 39X2, that is the true flagship, dual GPU beast.
One other element that may lead credence to this new rumor is the recent trend in VR and the Oculus Rift Crescent Bay demo that was supposedly powered by an unknown Radeon flagship. A Liquid VR slide mentioned two GPUs were needed for asynchronous rendering and something called an Affinity Multi GPU. Is that unknown flagship this dual GPU Fiji XT or something AMD is working on for the future? We'll just have to wait and see exactly what AMD has in store for us, hopefully at Computex in June.
Intel and Micron have teamed up to create a new generation of NAND architecture with the goal of improving chip density and drive capacity. The technology is known as 3D NAND and stacks memory cells vertically rather than horizontally, similar to the V-NAND solution from Samsung. With the new technology, each memory die can fit up to 48GB allowing for 3.5TB to fit in the M.2 form factor or 10TB in a 2.5" SSD. Intel is planning to release its own drives based on the technology sometime in the near future, with other manufacturers receiving sample chips to make their own drives as well.
Killing Floor 2 was first announced roughly one year ago and it appears that the game is getting close to becoming available. PC Gamer sat down with Tripwire co-founders John Gibson and Bill Munk for the PC Gamer Show to play through the game and talk about the past year of development. Killing Floor 2 will be making its way into the Steam Early Access program "in the near future" and I can't wait to get my hands on it. Watch the video below for all the details.
In less than a month the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V releases, 19 months after the title's original release, and five months after the versions for current-gen consoles released. Despite its console origins though, developer Rockstar has been working to optimize the game for the latest PC hardware and add support for new features and technologies. Among these is support for 4K resolution, which is being shown off in 15 new screens covering several in-game environments. (Below are the images at 1080 while the source has full-size versions.)
The end of another week has arrived, and very nearly the end of March, and we have some items for you to check out before the weekend hits. There is a review of the Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV ITX case, which is an even smaller variant of the EVOLV. We also have LUXA2 Lavi D Bluetooth headphones, which features 40mm drivers and are designed to give you a pure music experience. There is a look at how cutting the cable cord has panned out, with TV needs being satisfied with online and sports with Sling TV. Finishing off the week is a podcast covering the latest news and reviews.
Bug testing software can be very difficult and chances are a tester or analyst is going to miss some, so it is understandable that software tools have been developed to aid in the hunt. One of the more common bugs in software is integer overflow, and researchers at MIT have developed a new tool for finding it.
By the nature of computers, there are limits on the data that can be stored, but sometimes a program may exceed that limit. In the case of integers, when that happens the number will just rollover to the beginning, like a car's odometer. In many instances that might not be a serious issue, but sometimes it can be, and many bugs can also be exploited. To hunt them down, the MIT researchers developed Directed Integer Overflow Detection (DIODE) to track a sample input through a program by adding onto its symbolic expression. Even though the sample input will not cause an overflow, DIODE is able to analyze the symbolic expression to determine an input that will. That input is then tested, as checks are likely in place to prevent such inputs, but it will continue until it finds an input that will get through, or concludes an overflow is impossible.
To test DIODE, the researchers ran it and other algorithms on five open-source programs. The other algorithms identified three overflow bugs and DIODE found those three, and 11 more. DIODE does not need the program to be open source though, and can run on the binary of a program, so even a user could run it and report their findings to the developers.
MSI, one of the world's largest information technology manufacturers, has officially introduced three new all-in-one gaming computers. The latest products from MSI, which include the MSI AG270 3K, MSI Gaming 24GE IPS, and MSI Gaming 24GE 4K, feature the latest Intel Core i7 and i5 processors and NVIDIA GeForce GTX960M and GTX970M graphics, providing gamers with ultimate performance. All three all-in-one gaming computers from MSI include Killer Networking technology, which recognizes online game data packs and processes them first, as well as Nahimic sound technology, which provides virtual surround sound, frequency leveling, bass boost, and noise reduction with voice leveling when gaming with a headphone. The three recently introduced all-in-one gaming PCs from MSI also include Super RAID functionality and come bundled with a six-month premium license for XSplit Gamecaster.
The MSI AG270 3K, MSI Gaming 24GE IPS, and MSI Gaming 24GE 4K are expected to be available worldwide in the first week of April, 2015.
According to SweClockers, NVIDIA is currently preparing the GeForce GTX 980 Ti, a reduced version of the GM200-powered TITAN X that was released earlier this month. The Ti version of the amazingly efficient and widely popular GeForce GTX 980 is slated to feature 6GB of framebuffer and be around 10 percent faster than the TITAN X. Moreover, the GeForce GTX 980 Ti will be capable of featuring custom PCBs and cooling solutions from various manufacturers, allowing the GM200 card to offer users with even better performance as well as cooler temperatures when compared with the already available GeForce GTX 980.
NVIDIA is expected to release the GeForce GTX 980 Ti during the second half of this year, following the launch of the Radeon R9 390X by AMD.
New research that focuses around the research budget of AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA, shows that the research budget for AMD is currently the lowest it has been in the last 10 years. The data shows that Intel’s quarterly budget of 3 billion dollars is 12 times as high as AMD’s budget, which currently sits at 238 million dollars. While the research and development budget for Intel includes costs of maintaining its own fabrication facility, something that AMD does not have to worry about, the data shows just how much of a difference each company’s budget is. Even when compared with NVIDIA, AMD has a budget that is 110 million dollars less.
With AMD facing fierce competition in the CPU market from Intel, as well as brutal competition in the GPU market from NVIDIA, it will be interesting to see how the research and development budget going forward changes for the California-based company.
Amazon has announced a pair of new cloud storage options targeted at different levels of storage needs. For $11.99 per year users will be able to store unlimited photos and 5GB of other data. A $59.99 per year option will provide unlimited storage of any files in the Cloud Drive. A three month trial is included in both plans to help evaluate its usefulness. Director of the Amazon Cloud Drive Josh Petersen described the move stating, "With the two new plans we are introducing today, customers don’t need to worry about storage space—they now have an affordable, secure solution to store unlimited amounts of photos, videos, movies, music, and files in one convenient place."
Chances are you have created a password somewhere on the Internet, and there is even a good chance that you were presented with a strength meter of some kind. These are a fairly common tool for encouraging users to create strong passwords by indicating how strong one may be, but just how strong are the meters? Not very, according to researchers at Concordia University, who tested meters for multiple systems, including Google, Yahoo!, Dropbox, Twitter, and Skype, as well as some password managers.
What the researchers found is significant inconsistencies across these services as some would declare a password strong while another would say it is weak. They also found inconsistencies with what was acceptable, as one service may demand multiple character sets be used (letters, numbers, and symbols) while others would be okay just letters. The researchers point out that such weaknesses and inconsistencies can confuse users and make it harder for them to develop actual, stronger passwords. One suggestion the researchers have is to use something at least similar to Dropbox's strength meter, which actually compares passwords against a dictionary and marks any commonly found word as weak, thereby prompting users to be a bit more creative.
The researchers did contact the various companies they tested about their study, but even a year later, significant changes have not been made. Still though, perhaps with this study it may be possible to develop better strength meters for the future.
Everyone loves to win prizes, regardless of the type of item up for grabs. Today we have an extremely nice item to win, as our sister site Neoseeker is giving away an ECS LIVA X Mini PC! The LIVA X Mini PC (read the OCC review here) is a snazzy little device that packs an Intel Bay Trail-M SoC, either 2GB or 4GB of DDR3L RAM, 32GB or 64GB of storage, Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI out, VGA out, two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, Realtek HD Audio, and is small enough to mount behind a monitor or TV thanks to the VESA mounts. All of this is in something around the size of modern smartphones, which is quite impressive. The LIVA X can run Windows 7, 8.1, and even Linux, so all your OS needs should be met.
The contest runs from now until April 11 and does require Facebook, and is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. All you have to do is navigate over to the Neoseeker Facebook post, leave a comment explaining why you should win the LIVA X, and tag both Neoseeker and ECS USA in the comment. It is as simple as that!