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News Archives for April 2013

Hardware Roundup: Monday Edition

Posted: April 1, 2013 @ time: 03:27AM
Author: Nemo

Today we have the continuation article in Computer Ed's series on building an ITX system as he looks at choosing a motherboard. The Fractal Design Define R4 mid-tower case comes with a fan controller and sound dampening materials and today's roundup includes a look at the arctic white version. We also have a couple of headsets for you to check out along with a Guild Wars 2 gaming mouse and more.

Cases
Fractal Design Define R4 Arctic White Case @ Benchmark Reviews

Input Devices
SteelSeries Guild Wars 2 Gaming Mouse @ Madshrimps

Motherboards
Build a PC 2013: ITX Gamer Motherboard @ Computer Ed

Speakers/Headphones
Steelseries Flux In Ear Headset @ LanOC Reviews
Tt eSPORTS Chao Dracco Headphones @ Bjorn3D

Storage/Hard Drives
Top 5 Personal Cloud Storage Services @ ThinkComputers

Video
Frame Rating: GeForce GTX Titan, GeForce GTX 690, Radeon HD 7990 (HD 7970 CrossFire) @ PC Perspective

Miscellany
Best Google Reader Alternatives @ ThinkComputers


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Improving Polymer's Ability to Capture Light

Posted: April 1, 2013 @ time: 05:21AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

The ability to produce laser light is very valuable for photonic technologies, as laser light consists of a pure frequency. Producing these photons at low powers however is not always easy, but the polymer, MEH-PPV, could help if it did not leak so much light. Researchers at North Carolina State University have found a way to seal the polymer's holes and this should reduce the energy needed to create laser light by 50%.

Most people think of 'laser' as just a word, but it is actually a fairly descriptive acronym for the lasing process. Light Amplification by Stimulate Emission of Radiation, LASER, means that a signal of light is amplified by releasing additional photons that reinforce it. This happens naturally in some materials as energized electrons will drop energy levels, releasing a photon of the same frequency as that which stimulated the electron to fall. As the photons have the same frequency, the signal is amplified by the additional photons.

The MEH-PPV polymer is a low cost material capable of lasing that can be integrated with silicon electronics but has the critical flaw of letting photons escape, which means there are fewer photons to form the laser and fewer to trigger the emission of more. What the researchers have done is sandwiched it between materials with matching indices of refraction so that what light escapes is reflected back in, and by keeping more photons in the material, less energy is needed to initiate lasing.

Source: North Carolina State University


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NVIDIA Details New Mobile GPUs

Posted: April 1, 2013 @ time: 12:56PM
Author: CheeseMan42

NVIDIA has announced the addition of five new GPUs to its GeForce 700M mobile lineup. These new GPUs offer a trio of new technologies to improve the GPU performance. GPU Boost 2.0 adjusts the clock speed of the GPU to maximize performance. Optimus technology enables more efficient use of battery life by turning the GPU on and off as necessary. GeForce Experience software adjusts in-game settings and always keeps your drivers updated. The five new GPUs are the performance oriented GT 750M, GT 745M, and GT 740M and the mainstream GT 735M and GT 720M.

Source: NVIDIA


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Nanomagnet's Spin Damping Observed for First Time

Posted: April 1, 2013 @ time: 01:48PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Among the core components of any modern computer is the high speed, volatile RAM, but in the future a new kind of memory may be used based on the spin of electrons. Such spintronic memory has many advantages over modern electronic memory, including the ability to store data without power. A key property of a component in spintronic memory has finally been measured by the NIST, after researchers developed a new kind of microscope, just for the task.

Nanomagnets are extremely small magnets which would be responsible for storing data within spintronic memory, but exist at an awkward size; too big for atomic physics tools to observe but too small for more conventional instruments. To solve this problem the researchers had to construct a new microscope specifically for measuring the spin relaxation or damping of the nanomagnets. This microscope works by shining two green lasers on the nanomagnet, which interfere with each other to create a microwave signal. This signal excites the spin waves and the polarization of one of the lasers is then used to observe the pattern of spin excitation. By measuring this as a function of the nanomagnet's magnetic field and the frequency of microwaves, the researchers were able to get the information they were looking for.

Measurements like this could lead to spintronic memory units that can operate at less energy than currently possible. The reason for this is that the smaller the damping, the less energy is required to flip a bit within the memory.

Source: NIST


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Cooler Master Introduces Zombie Power Series

Posted: April 1, 2013 @ time: 08:49PM
Author: bp9801

Zombies have been a major player across all forms of media for quite some time, but the one place they haven't turned up is power supplies. Until now. Cooler Master has recently unveiled its latest line of power supplies in the form of the Zombie Power Series. Now, the Zombie Power Series isn't your typical, run-of-the-mill PSU that dies after years of faithful service. Oh no, the Zombie PSUs keep on running and running, with a lifespan well beyond normal human years. Cooler Master has found a way to bless curse these power supplies with unnaturally long life, as the mean time between failures is "forever." There's no chance to outrun these zombies, but luckily they can power your PC until you join them.

Each Cooler Master Zombie PSU features 750 watts of power, with a maximum output capacity of 1800 watts. Efficiency is at an impressive 120% with these undead beauties, so feel free to run every component possible. Oh, and just be sure to keep the undead at bay during those intense game sessions.

Source: Cooler Master


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Hardware Roundup: Tuesday Edition

Posted: April 2, 2013 @ time: 05:05AM
Author: Nemo

We have another full slate of reviews for you to enjoy today. Starting things off are a pair of video card reviews. First up is the ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II OC edition card that comes with a factory overclock. From the other camp we have a review on the PowerColor PCS+ HD 7850 2GB card. We also have a pair of coolers on tap today with reviews on units from Thermalright and DeepCool. You can check out these and all the reviews using the links below.

Cooling
Thermalright True Spirit 120M CPU Cooler @ Madshrimps
DeepCool Frostwin Heatsink @ Frostytech

Gaming
BioShock Infinite Performance, Benchmarked @ TechSpot

Mobile
Seidio Surface for Nexus 4 @ LanOC Reviews

Storage/Hard Drives
ADATA DashDrive HV610 1TB USB 3.0 Hard Drive @ ThinkComputers

Video
ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II OC Video Card @ [H]ardOCP
PowerColor PCS+ AX7850 2GBD5-2DHPP Radeon HD 7850 2GB @ Bjorn3D


Complete Story


Mechanical Qubit Designed

Posted: April 2, 2013 @ time: 08:05AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Someday quantum computers are going to run algorithms modern electronic computers are simply incapable of calculating. That day is still in the future though as many of the necessary components for a quantum computer still have challenges to overcome. Researchers at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen however have developed a new qubit technology which is not subject to some common challenges because it operates in a completely different way.

The typical qubit is a charged particle of one kind or another that has been electromagnetically trapped with information encoded onto it. Because the particle is charged though, it is susceptible to interference from external electromagnetic forces. What the researchers suggest is a qubit based on a vibrating carbon nanotube. As the nanotube is electrically neutral and the vibration is mechanical, the data stored by it would be protected from the interference that plagues the others. Electrodes on either side of the nanotube are able to optoelectronically select the vibrational state of the nanotube, thus reading and writing information to it.

In theory this design is completely feasible for a quantum computer, as the information could be stored for a long enough time to prove useful. An added benefit to this design though is that it is viable with current technology, and thereby could bring quantum computers closer to reality.

Source: Technische Universitaet Muenchen


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Steam Box Software Beginning to Take Shape

Posted: April 2, 2013 @ time: 11:20AM
Author: CheeseMan42

The team at Linux enthusiast site Phoronix has discovered some software packages that can be found on the SteamPowered web-server in a repository, similar to those used by Debian based Linux distributions. This new repository contains some basic packages including an experimental NVIDIA Linux graphics driver and a new boot splash screen. Previously, only the Steam application and launcher were available on the public repository. This further enhances speculation that the Steam Box will be based on a version of the Ubuntu distribution, and I am even more excited at the prospect of not having to use Windows.

Source: Phoronix


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Building a Better Quantum Dot Solar Cell

Posted: April 2, 2013 @ time: 11:55AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Though just about every solar cell you see today utilizes silicon, the photoelectric effect is present and strong in many materials. Some of these materials offer advantages to silicon, such as being cheaper to produce and responsive to a greater amount of light. One class of materials, quantum dots, has particularly peaked researchers', including those at MIT who have recently developed a better cell using them.

Quantum dots are specially designed semiconductor crystals which can be made to react to any frequency of light; a powerful property for any solar cell. Unfortunately a quantum do solar cell, like all solar cells, need to strike a careful balance between thickness and conductivity. Thicker solar cells are able to convert more light into electricity, but the thickness of the material means less of the electrical current escapes to do anything useful. The researchers have found a way overcome this though by growing a forest of nanowires, with quantum dots interspersed within. As the dots created an electric current, it was easily able to jump to a nearby nanowire and be of use.

This design allowed the thickness and conductivity of the solar cell to be decoupled, ultimately enabling it to reach 5% efficiency. That may not seem high, especially as 10% is considered the minimum for a commercially viable cell, but it is a record for this specific kind of cell, and with optimizations, it could be pushed much higher.

Source: MIT


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Hardware Roundup: Wednesday Edition

Posted: April 3, 2013 @ time: 03:40AM
Author: Nemo

There are some serious NAS storage units out there and most, like the EonNAS 850X, are geared more towards the small business market. However, if you have need of vast amounts of reliable storage then this eight-bay model may be what you are looking for. Also in storage, we picked up a review covering SanDisk's Ultra Plus 256GB solid state drive. Next up is another review of the Cooler Master Storm Trigger mechanical keyboard with MX Cherry Green switches. Be sure to read the rest of the articles in today's roundup using the links below. Enjoy!

Input Devices
Cooler Master Storm Trigger w/Green Keyswitches @ LanOC Reviews

Storage/Hard Drives
SanDisk Ultra Plus 256GB SSD @ [H]ardOCP
EonNAS 850X NAS Network Storage Server @ Benchmark Reviews

Video
Frame Rating: GeForce GTX 660 Ti and Radeon HD 7950 @ PC Perspective
History of the GPU, Part 2: 3Dfx Voodoo, the game-changer @ TechSpot

Miscellany
Everything You Need to know about Google Keep @ ThinkComputers


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Blizzard Announces StarCraft II World Championship Series 2013

Posted: April 3, 2013 @ time: 07:17AM
Author: CheeseMan42

Last night Blizzard announced a partnership with several major eSports organizations that will bring the StarCraft II World Championship Series 2013 to light. The WCS will be split up into three regions, Korea, America, and Europe. Each region will have three seasons throughout the year with the top 16 point earners making their way to the Grand Finals at BlizzCon. Each season will end with a final event hosted in one of the regions with six players competing from that region and five from each of the other two. All WCS games will be streamed for free in 720p HD on Twitch TV, and competition begins tomorrow and runs through November 8.

Source: Blizzard Entertainment


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Finding Graphene's Weaknesses

Posted: April 3, 2013 @ time: 07:26AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

As just about any video game, movie, book, etc. will teach you, no matter how strong something is, it has a weakness that can lead to its failure. Graphene, that amazing atom-thick sheet of carbon is no exception to this, as researchers at Rice University and Tsinghua University have found.

If you were to zoom in far enough, graphene would look like a collection of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal pattern, like chicken wire. At least if you were looking at a perfect piece of graphene, which is very hard to create. The easier form of graphene to make is polycrystalline, so it has many domains of hexagonal patterns, and where they meet, the patterns may not line up, causing other shapes to form. What the researchers found is that the seven-atom rings at these domain borders are greater weaknesses to the material than previously thought. As stress is applied to graphene, the force will collect at these defects and will be amplified by the length of the domain border. With enough stress, the ring will fail and potentially cause the entire graphene sheet to break apart.

This has not been found before because previous studies analyzed the defect less accurately than in this study, because it was easier both on the computer and the researchers to do so. Fortunately this weakness can be dealt with by using defect-free monocrystalline graphene, or polycrystalline graphene with smaller domains, so the stress is not amplified as much.

Source: Rice University


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LucasArts Shut Down by Disney - Star Wars Games Up in the Air

Posted: April 3, 2013 @ time: 12:32PM
Author: bp9801

Some very sad news in the world of video games, as Disney has shut down LucasArts and leaves the status of its current projets firmly up in the air. That means Star Wars 1313 could be canceled, however it sounds like Disney may try to find an external developer for it in order to complete it. Other projects could see the same fate, including a reported downloadable shooter called Star Wars: First Assault in the same vein as Battlefront or Republic Commando. As for why LucasArts was shut down, here's Disney's official stance:

After evaluating our position in the games market, we've decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimizing the company's risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games. As a result of this change, we've had layoffs across the organization. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles.

Reports are coming in that 150 employees in total are now without jobs, so hopefully it isn't long before they find a new home. LucasArts hasn't been in the most stable hands over the past decade or so, with restructuring in 2004 and a revolving door of company president's since 2008. New members would join to try and bring new life to the studio, but even those didn't last long, like Clint Hocking. Some of the big projects, like the aforementioned Battlefront series and Republic Commando, plus The Force Unleashed, Rogue Squadron, and Jedi Knight series, seemed to drop out of the company's focus over the years, which didn't make much sense to the fans. The Old Republic tried to follow in the footsteps of Knights of the Old Republic albeit in MMORPG form, and it lasted barely a year before switching to a free-to-play model.

Many fond memories of LucasArts exist beyond just the Star Wars games. Some of the best adventure games were produced by the company, like The Secret of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, and Day of the Tentacle, which are still high on the list of many gamers. The Indiana Jones series never really took off in video game form, but it did inspire the likes of Tomb Raider and Uncharted. The licensed LEGO games based on Star Wars and Indiana Jones helped give a whole new take on the classic films, even if Traveller's Tales handled everything.

No matter what had happened to LucasArts of late or what finally became of it, it's hard to say goodbye to a company who had a hand in the gaming memories of so many people. Our deepest sympathies to all those laid off from LucasArts today.

Source: Game Informer 1 and Game Informer 2


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Some Superconductors Defy Theory

Posted: April 3, 2013 @ time: 01:55PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

One of the most wonderful and scary parts of physics is finding a counterexample to accepted theory. This is wonderful because it means there is something new to discover, but it is also scary because it could mean that what you think is true could be very wrong. Researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign have recently been faced with the dilemma of a counterexample concerning cuprate superconductors, which are odd enough as they are.

There is a theorem in physics which states that the total number of charge carriers in a conductor is the total number of electrons in all of the atoms that make up the conductor. Superconductors are not like normal conductors though as they allow currents to flow without resistance, but usually they obey the theorem. What the researchers found though is that at certain energy levels, the total charge of cuprate superconductors is less than the needed number of charge carriers, thus making them a counterexample to the theorem.

Exactly what these extra charge carrying particles may be is unknown for now. On possibility the researchers are exploring is something called 'unparticles,' but no matter the name, they will likely be unusual.

Source: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


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Hardware Roundup: Thursday Edition

Posted: April 4, 2013 @ time: 05:22AM
Author: Nemo

The VideoStream WPCTVPRO from Diamond Multimedia is a simple device that allows you to stream video to a second monitor or TV without the limits of a long wire. Today's roundup also features another mechanical keyboard from Cooler Master with a review on the CM Storm Quick Fire Rapid. Wrapping things up today is a review on the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 CPU cooler.

Cooling
be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 CPU Cooler @ ThinkComputers

Input Devices
Cooler Master CM Storm Quick Fire Rapid Mechanical Gaming Keyboard @ Madshrimps

Video
Diamond Multimedia VideoStream (WPCTVPRO) @ Bjorn3D


Complete Story


Understanding the Formation of Metallic Glass

Posted: April 4, 2013 @ time: 07:15AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Glass is one of those terms that has a different meaning in the scientific and non-scientific worlds. In science, glass is not just the stuff of windows but a description of a solid with a disordered internal structure, unlike a well ordered crystal. Researchers at MIT have recently discovered an important mechanism for how metallic glasses form, which can have different and useful properties, compared to their normal crystalline versions.

The discovery was actually an accident as the researchers were working with an alloy that most scientists believe cannot form a glass. The reason for this belief is that copper and niobium, the two elements in the alloy, do not mix, while atoms in known glasses typically do. What the researchers found is that when the alloy was quenched, small domains enriched in one element or the other would form. These domains were so small, that it is not possible for a crystalline structure to form, but it is the boundary between the domains of particular interest. There the atoms arranged themselves into a spongelike structure with pours, similar to the internal structure of gelatin which gives the mostly liquid material strength.

Understanding the glass transition of a material is actually one of the larger mysteries of physics, so this discovery is very important. Better understanding the transition should allow new and better glasses to be made, with special properties such as high strength even compared to its crystalline form.

Source: MIT


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Thermaltake Adds S71 to Urban Series

Posted: April 4, 2013 @ time: 01:59PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Within the past few weeks Thermaltake has added the S31 and S41 to the Urban case series, and yesterday the company added the S71 full tower to the existing mid towers. Like the models that have come before it, the S71 will be available in windowed and non-windowed configurations. Sound-damping foam is included to help minimize the sound produced from within the case, with space for two 200mm and two 120mm fans. The case can hold three 5.25" drives and up to six 3.5" or 2.5" devices internally, with an additional place for a drive on top of the case. The S71 can accommodate CPU coolers up to 160mm in height and GPUs up to 344mm in length.


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Improved Terahertz Imaging System Created

Posted: April 4, 2013 @ time: 02:23PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Every frequency of light has special properties because it interacts with matter differently, and some frequencies are only just becoming accessible. Terahertz radiation exists between microwave and infrared frequencies, where light is able to penetrate many materials, including skin, but is much lower energy than X-rays. Producing and detecting terahertz radiation is not easy though, but researchers at the University of Michigan have created a new imaging system 1500 times more powerful than current systems.

To achieve this great increase in power, the researchers used lasers to create optical funnels with plasmons. Plasmons are coupled electrons and photons that travel across a metal's surface more efficiently than a photon will alone. By creating a funnel with them, terahertz photons will be directed to electrodes more quickly, so less energy is lost. This allows the device to create terahertz photons with 50 times more power and be 30 times more sensitive than other imaging systems.

The researchers expect they will be able to make the imaging system is more powerful by optimizing the plasmon funnels more. As this method addresses a fundamental issue of all photoconductive terahertz devices, it may be employed in more than just imaging systems in the future.

Source: University of Michigan


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Mushkin Announces New Solid State Drives

Posted: April 4, 2013 @ time: 02:25PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Mushkin has released a new line of 1.8" solid state drives under the Chronos GO SATA III name. The 1.8" form factor allows the drives to maintain a lower profile and fit into cases that have more strict space constraints. The new line of Chronos SSDs will be available in capacities of 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB. Director of Global Marketing Nicolas Villalobos said, "Mushkin continues to push the envelope with higher performance, higher capacity and higher reliability products, and the new line of 1.8-inch Chronos GO SATA III SSDs is just one example. With these improvements, the new drives are very well-suited for professionals and for solution providers in demanding environments like digital signage, healthcare and point-of-sale."


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Hardware Roundup: Friday Edition

Posted: April 5, 2013 @ time: 05:23AM
Author: Nemo

Tablet PCs seem to be the topic du jour today, but let's look at our sole hardware review first. Seasonic is an established and reputable name in the power supply market and today we get an opportunity to examine the company's X-850 unit that comes with an 80-PLUS Gold rating and is fully modular to boot. Now, on to the tablets. First up is a roundup review of the top three tablets available for under $300 comprised of the Kindle Fire HD, Google Nexus 7 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab2. Meanwhile, we have an editorial article that conjures up a scenario where tablet PCs could just be the saviors of civilization as we know it. Really? Read on to find out how.

Notebooks/Tablets
The Top 3 Tablets Under $300 @ ThinkComputers
How Tablet PCs Could Save Civilization @ Benchmark Reviews

Power Supplies
Seasonic X-Series: X-850 Power Supply @ [H]ardOCP

Miscellany
Podcast #245 @ PC Perspective


Complete Story


Ionic Thrusters Investigated

Posted: April 5, 2013 @ time: 07:17AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Much of modern air travel uses jet engines which relies on the compression and combustion of fuel in air to produce thrust; a noisy affair. There exists another kind of engine though that could produce the needed thrust, but it has not been scientifically explored for many reasons. Researchers at MIT however have decided to test this other kind of engine, the ionic thruster, and found some very interesting results.

With a high enough voltage, it is possible to ionize the air around one electrode and drive it to another. As the ionized air moves, it will push other air molecules as well, creating thrust, and this method of propulsion has been used for years in small vehicles. The researchers decided to test its efficiency, compared to modern jet engines, and found that while a jet engine will produce 2 Newtons of thrust per kilowatt (Newton is a measure of force) an ionic thruster can produce 110 N of thrust per KW. Importantly the ionic thrust is very efficient at lower thrust, which wastes less energy in your wake.

As impressive as the results may be though, it will still be a long time before any large vehicle would use ionic thrusters because the power requirements can be enormous. Potentially a thrust to drive an aircraft could need over a hundred kilowatts, or even megawatts of power, and generating that much power onboard an aircraft is not going to be easy, but thanks to this study, others are looking into the technology.

Source: MIT


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Google Chrome Drops WebKit for Blink

Posted: April 5, 2013 @ time: 04:52PM
Author: bp9801

It won't be long before Google bids adieu to WebKit for its Chrome browser. The technology giant recently announced its browser will switch to the Blink rendering engine, which is an open source rendering engine based on WebKit. Google stated the reason behind the switch is because Chromium uses a different multi-process approach than other WebKit browsers, which has led to increased complexity. It's also been slowing down innovation, so in a way to curb all of that, there's Blink. Google didn't come to that conclusion lightly however, as a new rendering engine can introduce significant changes to the Web as a whole. What the company is banking on is having more rendering engines will lead to more innovation and improves the Internet's ecosystem.

Blink allows Google to strip out a ton of unnecessary components on Chrome, with initial figures of 4.5 million lines of code being removed. That equates to seven build systems and 7,000 files with the first switch, which can only mean good things for the browser. Long term it should lead to more stability and less bugs, so that's a welcomed benefit. Google's Chrome OS is going to switch over to Blink, as will the Opera web browser, which moved to WebKit barely two months ago.

Google is set to implement Blink in build 28 of Chrome that's due in about ten weeks, but it's already available in the Canary version for developers and early adopters. More information on Blink can be found here.

Source: Chromium Blog and The Next Web


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OCC Week in Review: April 1 - 5

Posted: April 5, 2013 @ time: 06:27PM
Author: bp9801

If you've been gone from OCC for a while or just want to catch the latest news, here is your chance to do just that. There's a fair amount happening at OCC this week, starting with a slightly different review that's sure to make graphics card testing a lot more in-depth. NVIDIA's new Frame Capture and Analysis Tools are a combination of hardware and software components to accurately measure video game framerates. Software tools to accomplish the task have existed for a while, but they lack the ability to precisely record the gameplay experience. That's where NVIDIA's FCAT comes into play to provide a clearer picture of what to expect with your new graphics card.

If you need some more cooling for your computer, it's hard to pass up any fans made by Noctua. Luckily we have a roundup covering three Noctua fans in 140 and 150mm sizes that should fit into your system. Whether it's for an air cooler, a watercooler radiator, or just a spot on your case, the fans reviewed in the Noctua roundup could be just what you're after.

Switching over to the news, NVIDIA launched its new mobile GPU line that consists of five models in the 700M series. Three of them, the GT 750M, GT 745M, and GT 740M, are for the performance crowd, while the GT 735M and GT 720M are perfect for mainstream users. Some intrepid Linux users have discovered some possible ways Valve is going to expand Steam on the open source OS, potentially for a Steam Box. An NVIDIA Linux graphics driver and new boot splash screen were discovered, so we'll just have to see what this means for Steam. Perhaps the biggest gaming news from the week was the unfortunate demise of LucasArts. Disney acquired LucasFilm and LucasArts last year, but things were not meant to be for one of the most well-known and longest running gaming studios.

Thermaltake added a new case to its Urban series, the S71 full tower. It offers sound-dampening foam, room for two 200mm and two 120mm fans, space for three 5.25" devices and six 3.5/2.5" drives, plus an optional window. Mushkin launched a new line of 1.8" solid-state drives, the Chronos GO series. Each drive runs on SATA III and comes in 120, 240, and 480GB capacities.

Quantum computing is going to be a huge factor in the future, but there's still plenty of things to perfect before that happens. A new mechanical qubit design was proposed that works in a totally different way than past versions, as it's based on a vibrating carbon nanotube to protect the data from interference. It also allows for viability with current technology, which would bring quantum computers closer to reality. Graphene is a super strong yet fantastically thin product, yet even it appears to have a weakness. It appears the seven-atom rings at the domain borders of polycrystalline graphene can fracture with enough applied force. The good thing from the discovery is that the weakness can be circumvented with monocrystalline graphene, or polycrystalline graphene with smaller domain borders.

One final thing to take away from this week is that voting for the OCC forum awards is now open. There are a multitude of categories and members to vote for in each one, so head on over to the voting threads and choose who you think is more deserving.


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Steam Greenlight Spotlight: Death Inc.

Posted: April 6, 2013 @ time: 01:35PM
Author: ClayMeow

Death Inc. is described as a hybrid of real-time strategy, god game, and business simulation. You control a reaper named Grim T. Livingstone, tasked to spread the bubonic plague throughout 17th century England with an array of infected minions. But as in any true god game, you do not have direct control over your units, you can simply issue commands and hope they follow through as you wanted. Thankfully, control in Death Inc. seems easy to use and minions are smarter than you'd think for a bunch of undead.

Control of the game is largely done by a "unique 'freehand' paintbrush-like control system." In fact, the motions are so fluid that it seems like the perfect fit for a touchscreen device like the PS Vita. Thankfully, the controls feel equally smooth using a mouse and keyboard. By simply left-clicking and dragging across the screen, Grim appears and lays down a bright pink (or green, yellow, and blue) path for your infected minions to follow. Any minions that are near or on the line will immediately follow the path you drew until it ends or they come in contact with enemies – basically anyone who's not already infected. Pink orders are followed by everyone, while the aforementioned green, yellow, and blue allow you to fine tune orders so that only specific unit types carry them out; unarmed, ranged, and armed melee, respectively. There are eight standard fighting units and three rare support units. The eight standard fighting units are Peasants, Militiamen, Archers, Soldiers, Musketeers, Brutes, Pikemen, and Cavalry, while the three rare support units are Monks, Plague Doctors, and Captains. In addition, there are also a few siege weapons that can be found scattered in some levels, which can be seen in the following video:

If you took a break from reading this spotlight to watch the video above, you probably saw another feature of the game demonstrated – special abilities. The one shown off in the video is Plague Rats, which when cast on an appropriate building causes infected rats to pour out and attack any enemies near by. Additional abilities include death from above via Pigeon Pox, mass panic and evacuation via Norovirus Brunch, and Exploding Livestock because, well, didn't everyone enjoy rampantly clicking on sheep in Warcraft just to watch them explode? (Please don't call PETA)

Although Death Inc. is largely about ordering your minions to attack and infect your enemies, you're free to tackle each map in your own way. Levels aren't linear, but rather a sandbox with multiple paths. There are even physics puzzles along the way that can help you if you so choose to tackle them, such as ordering your minions to turn a wheel that opens or closes a gate (depending on whether you want to get out or prevent enemies from getting to you). And if you remember from the opening sentence, this game is also part business simulation. Along the way you'll be collecting souls that can be spent to hire underlings, complete secondary challenges, decorate your living quarters, and more.

A demo was released back in February that provides a small taste of the game. It's just one level with no special abilities, no siege weapons, and no physics puzzles, but it does allow you to test out the fluidity of the controls. It's available for Windows (28MB), Mac (32MB), and Linux (28MB), so no matter what you're running, you can go try it out. Although its Kickstarter campaign was unsuccessful, developer Ambient Studios assures us that they're "working extremely hard to make this beautiful, bonkers, original game a reality for you all." In addition, if the reliance on colors worries you, the Kickstarter page mentions that there will be a color blind mode. So go vote Yes because while the Kickstarter wasn't successful, Death Inc. certainly deserves a spot on Steam's digital shelf.

Previous Spotlight: Gravi. Favorite the OCC Steam Greenlight Spotlight Collection. And don't forget to visit the forum thread.


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Fast-Ignition Fusion Variation has Critical Flaw

Posted: April 8, 2013 @ time: 07:17AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Nuclear fusion is very likely to become the power source of the future as it is able to generate massive amounts of energy from relatively cheap fuel and with little waste. The catch is that achieving nuclear fusion is not easy and researchers are still trying to find a way to ignite it without putting in more energy than the process will produce. One method to stimulate fusion though has been called into question by researchers at the Ohio Supercomputing Center.

The fast-ignition method is a two-step process that uses lasers to compress a fuel pellet to a fraction of its original size, and then an ultra-fast and powerful laser pulse to actually initiate nuclear fusion. One of the ways to deliver the laser power to the fuel is to have it hit a hollow, metal cone, causing electrons to be blasted onto the pellet but this apparently will not always work. The researchers have found that if the cone is too thick, the ejected electrons will collide with a dense plasma, causing them to lose too much energy to trigger fusion.

Actually, other researchers have found that the hollow-cone, fast-ignition method is flawed, but had failed to develop an explanation for why. While this is certainly not great news for nuclear fusion research, it is not horrible as there are still many other methods and multiple variants of fast-ignition, which still have a chance powering the future.

Source: Ohio Supercomputing Center


Complete Story


Hardware Roundup: Monday Edition

Posted: April 8, 2013 @ time: 09:01AM
Author: bp9801

It's the start of a new week, which means it's time to see what our affiliates are up to. We have a little bit of everything today, starting with a comparison of several mid-range video cards. The comparison is a little different as it uses the Frame Capture and Analysis Tools to provide a greater look at the card's performance. There's also an ASUS Mini-ITX motherboard review that should be perfect for the HTPC crowd. If you need more storage but don't have the room for another internal drive, an external dock may be just the thing. Luckily we have one such model plus a NAS to check out today. Tablets have never been more in vogue, and protecting their relatively fragile form is a worthy investment, like with a folio case for the Kindle Fire HD. Music lovers can check out an MP3 player that's waterproof so you can jam out while at the pool. There's plenty more to check out, so have a look at what's below.

Motherboards
ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe Mini-ITX Motherboard @ PC Perspective

Video
Frame Rating: GTX 660 vs HD 7870, plus HD 7790, HD 7850, GTX 650 Ti BOOST @ PC Perspective

Storage/Hard Drives
HGST Travelstar 7K1000 2.5-inch Mobile Hard Drive @ Madshrimps
INEO I-NA321U PLUS Docking Station @ Benchmark Reviews
Synology DiskStation DS2413+ NAS @ TechSpot

Networking
ASUS AiCloud: A Fresh Face for Networking @ Bjorn3D

Cases
Fractal Design Define R4 Case @ ThinkComputers.org

Notebooks/Tablets
Marware MicroShell Folio Kindle Fire HD Case @ ThinkComputers.org

Gadgets
Finis SwiMP3 X18 2GB @ XSReviews


Complete Story


Fusion Powered Rocket Designed for Mars Missions

Posted: April 8, 2013 @ time: 11:08AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

I am not sure where it is now, but I once found in my house a book on the rocketry of its time, which was the space race. Among its chapters was one discussing a proposed nuclear powered rocket, which used fissile material like uranium to provide thrust. Such a rocket was never built but the idea of a nuclear rocket has not disappeared as researchers at the University of Washington have designed and performed preliminary tests on what would be a nuclear fusion powered rocket engine.

If my memory serves me correctly, that fission powered rocket used the radiation of the fissile material to ionize a piece of metal, and that ionized metal would be projected out of the rocket, creating thrust. While the mechanism is completely different, the fusion rocket also uses the ejection of metal to provide thrust, but the similarity ends there. What the researchers have proposed is to create pellets of fuel-plasma that are shot into the rocket nozzle. There an intense magnetic field is used to crush a ring of metal down onto the plasma with enough force to trigger fusion. The fusion then ionizes the metal so quickly that it launches from the nozzle, and accelerates the rocket.

There is still a great deal of work to do before fusion rockets push people to Mars, but this is a very promising design. Nuclear fusion releases a great deal of energy, which will allow a fusion rocket to use less fuel, and that will greatly decrease its weight and cost.

 

 

Source: University of Washington


Complete Story


Next Generation Xbox May be Unveiled May 21

Posted: April 8, 2013 @ time: 11:09AM
Author: EuroFight

According to a report on 'The Verge', Microsoft may be planning to unveil its upcoming Xbox console, dubbed the Xbox 720, at a special event next month. The event is said to be held at a 'small venue', and will note the key features of the upcoming console. Previous reports have indicated an event planned on the 24th of April, however this date appears to have been pushed back for an undisclosed reason.

It has also been reported that the next generation Xbox will be fully revealed during E3 in June, which would be followed by a launch during early 2014. The Xbox will also make an appearance at the Microsoft Build conference in late June, when Microsoft is likely to announce more technical aspects of the upcoming console.

Source: The Verge


Complete Story


Enermax Details COENUS Case

Posted: April 8, 2013 @ time: 02:47PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Enermax has announced the release of its latest case, the COENUS. Hoping to build off a previous case, the Fulmo ST, Enermax has created a feature packed mid tower case. The black case has an acrylic side panel and the front of the case is covered in mesh to provide for better airflow and an interesting look. The case can hold up to eight hard drives in a variety of configurations. Enermax SlideIn ODD design provides for easy installation of hard drives and optical drives. A maximum of six fans can be used to help keep airflow up throughout the case.


Complete Story


Noctua Announces Pair of CPU Coolers

Posted: April 8, 2013 @ time: 03:05PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Noctua has added two CPU coolers to its award-winning NH-U series of quiet coolers, both of which are single tower coolers. The NH-U12S uses the NF-F12 120mm fan and the NH-U14S uses the NF-A15 140mm fan. These new coolers were designed with large memory modules in mind and have adequate room to accommodate large RAM coolers. Noctua CEO Mag. Roland Mossig said, "The original NH-U12 and NH-U9 were the first Noctua products we brought to the market and the NH-U series has been a cornerstone of our success ever since. Representing the next generation of this venerable legacy, the new NH-U12S and NH-U14S are the result of almost 10 years of continuous development and optimisation. Both models mark a significant improvement in performance, convenience and compatibility."

Source: Noctua


Complete Story


New Meaning Given to 'Vaporware'

Posted: April 8, 2013 @ time: 03:11PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

What happens when you give a group of researchers some lasers and rubidium atoms stored in a thin vapor? They make it into a memory storage device, of course. Researchers at NIST, the Joint Quantum Institute and the University of Maryland have built on previous work from another group to store an image within a vapor of rubidium atoms, by encoding information onto them via a laser pulse.

When light strikes an atom it can encode some information onto it by changing its level. By controlling what frequency of light hits specific areas of the vapor, which had been magnetized, the researchers were able to encode an image. By flipping the orientation of the vapor with a magnetic field, a second laser pulse through it will cause the new photons to be encoded with the old photons' information, thereby reading the information left behind.

Sadly, we will not be seeing a new memory storage system evolve directly from this research, but that was not its purpose. The researchers were instead trying to learn how they can manipulate rubidium atoms, which is information that may go on to enable memory storage for quantum computers.

Source: NIST


Complete Story


Sony Prices 55 and 65-Inch Ultra HDTVs; Arrive on April 21

Posted: April 8, 2013 @ time: 06:23PM
Author: bp9801

Ultra HDTVs, formerly known as 4K TVs, have been shown off and even available for some time now, but the extravagant price tag means many can't afford them. Sony has something a little more affordable, however, so long as you don't mind dropping down to 55 or 65" instead of 84". The tech giant announced the XBR-55X900A and XBR-65X900A are priced at $4,999 and $6,999, respectively, when they launch on April 21. It's still a high dollar amount, but it's similar to the price of plasma TVs when those first arrived in stores. To go with the UHDTVs, Sony is also offering the FMP-X1, a 4K Media Player, and a video distribution service so you'll have some content to show off on that new 3840x2160 resolution screen.

The FMP-X1, due to arrive this summer, is priced at $699 and comes with ten feature films, plus some short videos, in 4K resolution. The feature films include: Bad Teacher, Battle: Los Angeles, The Amazing Spider-Man, Salt, Taxi Driver, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Karate Kid (2010), That's My Boy, The Other Guys, and Total Recall (2012). The video distribution service is expected to arrive in the fall.

Source: Engadget


Complete Story


OCC Loses a Staff Member: RIP Nemo

Posted: April 8, 2013 @ time: 07:28PM
Author: bp9801

Just over three years ago, OCC said goodbye to Senior Staff member Ryan, known as Verran in the OCC forums. Today we say goodbye to another Senior Staff member; Dale Shuck known as Nemo.

Dale arrived at OCC in May 2004 and joined the OCC staff as a News Editor in December 2006. It didn't take long for Dale to take over as the Senior News Editor where he remained until his passing. Besides his news duties, he did reviews on NAS boxes and always handled our newsletter. He even took over all of the hiring and training of all the news staff because he felt I had too much on my plate. 

Dale was a guy that was full of knowledge and would always want to help. His dedication to make sure the Hardware Roundups were done before he left for work every morning was so amazing to me. He would share his knowledge anytime you needed it, and boy did he love to joke and poke fun with all of the OCC wives and girls. Dale was famous for being a smartass but he was also known for being a great person, full of life and always wanting to help. He was also known to us as a loving father who adored his four children. 

One funny story I will always remember was two years ago talking on the phone with him for three hours going over info about RAID. I was in the process of building a NAS unit and wanted his advice. All through the thunder, lightning, and tornado sirens he told me all of the info I needed to know. I think I was more scared about the tornado than he was, ha-ha. I remember asking him, "don't you have to get off the phone and hide or something?" His reply, "don't worry if I see it I will let you know and say goodbye." That was Dale for ya, lol.

Dale gave me a lot of personal support when Ryan passed away. Dale was very fond of Ryan and I would hope now that both of them will be reunited once again and watch over the rest of OCC until we are all brought back together once again.

Dale had a massive stroke Sunday morning and was declared legally dead this afternoon. Dale signed up as an organ donor and wanted to help people after he was gone. My hat goes out to you for that Dale, and it shows what kind of a person you truly were.

Dale: thank you for everything you did. It was a pleasure knowing you, and there won't be a day that goes by that I will not miss you, my friend. You were very unique and one of the smartest people I ever met and it's a damn shame you were taken from us so soon.

RIP my friend. Until we meet again, I will always remember you and think of you often. Say Hi to Ryan for me when you get there.


Your Friend, 


Dave

OCC Editor In Chief

 

 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the forums.


Complete Story


Next Generation Intel Thunderbolt to Offer 20Gbps Transfer Speeds

Posted: April 9, 2013 @ time: 12:46AM
Author: EuroFight

Intel has announced some of the features of its next generation Thunderbolt interface code named 'Falcon Ridge'. The interface will boast two channels, each with a 20Gbps bandwidth in both directions, an improvement on the 10Gbps offered with the current revision. The 20Gbps bandwidth should allow more uses of the Thunderbolt specification, such as 4k video file transfer. The new standard will also maintain compatibility with older Thunderbolt cables.

Intel currently has 200 licensees for the technology, which is set to be released next year, but new, thinner cables will become available in the coming months. Intel also mentioned a new Thunderbolt host controller code named 'Redwood Ridge', which will be featured in some of the next generation Haswell series of chips.

Source: KitGuru


Complete Story


High-Speed Optical Switching of Magnetic Memory Achieved

Posted: April 9, 2013 @ time: 08:21AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Magnetic memory devices have been used in computers for a long time, but have been receiving some stiff competition lately from solid state memories. Part of why SSDs are able to compete with magnetic HDDs is that they are typically faster and use less power. Researchers at Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, and the University of Crete however have made a discovery which may help give the edge back to magnetic memories.

Magnetic memory works by flipping the direction of a magnetic field, and researchers have been searching for ways to make this flipping faster and more efficient, such as heating the material. One promising group of materials for this is colossal magnetoresistive (CMR) family of materials, as they react well to external magnetic fields, such as those used for writing information, but do not require much heating. These materials are not well understood though, which is where these researchers come in as they used ultra-fast laser pulses to trigger the flipping of magnetic fields. For one of these materials, the researchers discovered they were able to flip the fields within a 100 femtosecond pulse, which means it may be possible to create terahertz speed hard drives and magnetic RAM.

While that speed is certainly impressive, it means more than just fast memory. As this was an all-optical process and occurred so quickly, the physics involved must be quantum mechanical in nature. Potentially this knowledge could lead to CMR-based magnetic memories operating at their maximum possible speed.

Source: Ames Laboratory


Complete Story


Hardware Roundup: Tuesday Edition

Posted: April 9, 2013 @ time: 09:02AM
Author: bp9801

It's been a rough time at OCC lately, but we have some reviews to keep you occupied. We have several pieces of hardware for your viewing pleasure, with two of them from Gigabyte. The Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H motherboard may be just what you need to get a new Intel LGA 1155 system up and running. Meanwhile the Gigabyte HD 7790 video card can help get you gaming faster while staying within budget. There's also a 480GB SSD from Crucial to check out, plus a tube reservoir for the watercooling enthusiasts.

Video
Gigabyte GV-R779OC-?1GD @ Neoseeker

Motherboard
Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H LGA 1155 Motherboard @ [H]ardOCP

Storage/Hard Drives
480GB Crucial M500 Solid State Drive @ Benchmark Reviews

Cooling
PrimoChill Compression Tube Reservoir @ ThinkComputers.org


Complete Story


Improved, Long-Range 3D Camera System Developed

Posted: April 9, 2013 @ time: 11:28AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Many of us take for granted our 3D vision, which comes from having two eyes and a brain able to combine images from both. Those who are attempting to give 3D vision to machines however know how hard it can be to achieve. Now researchers have found a way to greatly improve one means of generating 3D images, as reported in the Optical Society's journal, Optics Express.

Instead of using two cameras and combining a pair of images, many machines use a time-of-flight method to gather 3D information. This approach measures how long it takes a photon to reflect off of an object and return to a detector, but is plagued by issues including short range. These researchers overcame that issue though by using infrared photons and a detector for counting individual photons. Because infrared light is not disrupted by the atmosphere as much as visible light, this system can be used to collect 3D information on objects as far as a kilometer away, while still being high-resolution, thanks to the precision of the detector.

Unfortunately the scanner does have some flaws at the moment, including being relatively slow at processing the information which is collected in just seconds. Currently it takes five to six minutes to process the data, but the researchers believe they can cut this down in the short term with a more powerful computer and in the long term with processors dedicated to this task.

Source: Optical Society of America


Complete Story


New Batman Game Coming in October

Posted: April 9, 2013 @ time: 01:49PM
Author: CheeseMan42

The prequel to the popular Arkham based Batman games, Batman: Arkham Origins, will be available on October 25 on PS3, Xbox 360, PC, and Wii U. This game is set "before the rise of Gotham City's most dangerous criminals, [and] showcases a young and unrefined Batman as he faces a defining moment in his early career as a crime fighter that sets his path to becoming the Dark Knight." The game is being developed by WB Games Montreal, whereas the previous two games were developed by Rocksteady Studios. Executive producer Reid Schneider said, "We are huge fans of the franchise and are committed to creating an experience that offers players more of what they love, as well as the chance to play as a younger Batman within a fresh storyline and expanded world."

Source: PC Magazine


Complete Story


Video Streaming Service Vudu Victim of Burglary; Hard Drives with Customer Info Stolen

Posted: April 9, 2013 @ time: 06:45PM
Author: bp9801

Digital theft has been all over the news in recent years, but earlier today video streaming service Vudu reported a more conventional theft. On March 24, someone broke into the Vudu offices and took a number of items, including hard drives full of customer information. Yes, you read that right, a physical burglary occured at Vudu and not a website hack. The hard drives contained customer names, email addresses, street addresses, phone numbers, account activity, birth dates, and the last four digits "of some credit card numbers." Vudu doesn't store full credit card information on the hard drives so that is safe. Passwords aren't either, but only if you log in through another site. Stored passwords are encrypted, and while Vudu doesn't believe it can be compromised, it doesn't want to risk it so every customer's password has been reset.

As a precautionary measure, Vudu is allowing every affected account to receive the protection benefits of AllClear ID. It runs for one entire year starting today, and includes pretty much every kind of protection possible just in case someone's identity is compromised. Accounts who never set a password with Vudu and used another means to login aren't eligible for AllClear since there's no risk of password hacking. More information can be found at the source below, including how to contact Vudu if you suspect any fraud.

Source: Vudu


Complete Story


Closing in on Optical Transistors

Posted: April 10, 2013 @ time: 07:01AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

The development of the electronic transistor is easily among the most important events of the last century as it enabled complex electronics to be made much smaller and require less power to operate than vacuum tubes. Now researchers are working to develop another kind of transistor that will, in some instances, replace electronic ones; optical transistors. Researchers at McGill University have recently made an important discovery that may help make optical transistors a reality.

More and more we are seeing fiber optics employed to replace electronic connections, such as in the backbone of the Internet, but while optical connections are faster, they introduce a bottleneck when being received. Without optical transistors the optical signals must be converted to electronic ones that electronic transistors can work with. What the researchers have discovered is that laser pulses can be used to manipulate the quantum mechanical state of quantum dots. Already the researchers have demonstrated basic Boolean logic functionality this way, which is a step towards creating an optical transistor.

While this is certainly an important step towards optical transistors, it is only a step and the results are only a proof of concept. The researchers are now working to apply their results to integrated devices and creating more complicated logic gates.

Source: McGill University


Complete Story


Hardware Roundup: Wednesday Edition

Posted: April 10, 2013 @ time: 08:58AM
Author: bp9801

Today we have something for the gamers out there, so let's dive right in. The Tomb Raider franchise received a recent reboot, and if you haven't decided whether or not to pick it up, perhaps a review will change your mind. You need something to view games with however, which is where the BenQ GW2750HM monitor comes into play. This 27" screen packs a VA panel that offers better performance than TN, so read on to see how it performs. There's also a look at the new generation of Seagate solid state hybrid drives to give a speed boost while still providing a lot of storage on a budget. Lastly, the third segment of a four part look back at the history of video cards tells the beginning of the ATI and NVIDIA era. It's a rather neat introspective and what's sure to be a trip down memory lane for many.

Video
BenQ GW2750HM Monitor @ XSReviews
The History of the Modern Graphics Processor, Part 3: The Nvidia vs. ATI era begins @ TechSpot

Gaming
Tomb Raider @ LanOC Reviews

Storage/Hard Drives
Seagate Hybrid Laptop Thin SSHD 500GB @ [H]ardOCP


Complete Story


Silicon Atoms Caught Dancing

Posted: April 10, 2013 @ time: 09:38AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Dancing is an integral part of many cultures as the rhythmic motions are given significance, while also just being fun. In science though, dancing is not so common, but researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have caught silicon atoms dancing on a sheet of graphene.

Graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon that many researchers are looking at because of its many unique and special properties. Among those properties is its two-dimensional structure which some researchers want to exploit by placing other atoms on it to trigger specific reactions. This is what the researchers were working on when they found that some of the atoms in a silicon cluster were jumping between positions. Thankfully the researchers do know why this was happening; the energy of the electron microscope they were using was allowing the atoms to jump.

This discovery will likely have some interesting impacts on the potential use of graphene as a host material for other atoms and molecules. As the structure of the other material may spontaneously change, these changes must be considered when designing new electronics, optoelectronics, and catalysis that are such a hybrid material.

Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory


Complete Story


ECS Details Durathon Technology

Posted: April 10, 2013 @ time: 02:27PM
Author: CheeseMan42

ECS has announced the latest technology that it is adding to its motherboards, known as Durathon. The word is a combination of durable and marathon and signifies that the boards have gone through extensive testing and will be able to operate for long periods of time under strenuous conditions. Durathon qualification is defined through four attributes by ECS. Bi-Directional Splitting Glass Fabric provides three times more humidity protection than general glass fabric. ECS Superior Solid Capacitors will operate for up to 200,000 hours while electrolytic capacitors will only last 32,000 hours. Extreme Temperature Resistance certifies that the board will be able to operate at temperatures 10°C above and below similar boards. Finally, the 1.5K Marathon Test puts the boards through a 1507 point test to check all aspects of the motherboard.


Complete Story


Google to Bring Gigabit Internet to Austin, TX; AT&T Hopes to if Offered Same Deal

Posted: April 10, 2013 @ time: 06:33PM
Author: bp9801

Residents in the Texas state capital have something to look forward to, as Google has announced its plan to bring Gigabit Internet to Austin by the middle of next year. The company says pricing and choice of options should be similar to what's currently available in Kansas City (and Olathe, KS), which is the first time Google has said anything about expansion. Current options in Kansas City include a $120 a month package for Gigabit Internet, TV-over-IP, and a DVR; a $70/month package for just the Gigabit Internet; and finally a one-time $300 construction cost (with an option to split it up over a year) for 5Mbps Internet at no additional cost for seven years. Google also plans to connect public buildings like hospitals, schools, and community centers to the fiber service at no extra cost.

Not to be outdone, AT&T announced it hopes to bring Gigabit Internet to Austin if it gets the same deal as Google. According to AT&T, it'll do so if "granted the same terms and conditions as Google on issues such as geographic scope of offerings, rights of way, permitting, state licenses and any investment incentives." Both Google and City of Austin officials, including mayor Lee Leffingwell, were quick to say there were no incentives offered and it's simply a way to bring more choices to Austin residents. There were also no incentives offered in Kansas City, although officials there are allowing Google to set up any Central Office equipment in city buildings.

The agreement between Google and the City of Austin hasn't been made public yet, but it should be available on the city website before long. Hopefully other cities and communities get Google Fiber too, otherwise Kansas City, Olathe, and Austin are going to get a lot of new residents.

Source: Google and Ars Technica


Complete Story


Hardware Roundup: Thursday Edition

Posted: April 11, 2013 @ time: 03:47AM
Author: bp9801

Today we have a pair of reviews for two very different products. The first takes a look at an aluminum mousepad, offering a departure from the typical soft mousepad. The second offers a look at the 10 year anniversary HyperX memory from Kingston. If you are looking for a new mousepad or want to upgrade your memory, then these reviews might be just what you need.

Mousepad
In Win Rocker Mat Aluminum Mousepad @ Think Computers

Memory
Kingston HyperX 10th Anniversary Edition 2400MHZ 16GB Kit @ Bjorn3D


Complete Story


Bulk Silicon Made to Emit Light

Posted: April 11, 2013 @ time: 05:41AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

For you to read visit this or many other websites, the data of the sites has to be transmitted to you and likely somewhere along its trip, it was sent as photons. As photons travel faster than electrons and bring other useful properties to the table, researchers are working to develop technologies for optical computers. One challenge for this work is that silicon, a primary component of modern electronic computers, does not work well with light, but researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found a way to change that.

Some semiconductors react well with light, readily producing and absorbing photons, but others, including silicon, generate a fair amount of heat in either process, and that wastes energy. Doping silicon can improve its optical performance, but typically this reduces its electronic performance and the light produced has too long of wavelengths. To combat these issues, the researchers turned to plasmonics by adding a layer of glass around a silicon nanowire and mostly wrapping the glass in silver. This design creates plasmonic nanocavities that capture and hold electromagnetic energy, creating photons of white light.

By making it possible for silicon to emit visible light, components for optical computers can be made much simpler, as external light sources will not be needed. Importantly this design works with silicon nanowires from 20 nm to 100 nm, which is compatible with modern silicon fabrication techniques.

Source: University of Pennsylvania


Complete Story


Samsung Unveils 'Mega' Smartphones with Over 6-inch Screens

Posted: April 11, 2013 @ time: 09:21AM
Author: EuroFight

Smartphone manufacturer Samsung has unveiled two new smartphones, both featuring the Android 4.2 operating system and a dual-core processor. They also feature 8-megapixel rear cameras, and come with 8 or 16GB of internal storage as well as the option of adding up to 64GB via a MicroSD slot. The main selling point of these two devices, however, lie in their screen size. The smaller of the two smartphones features a 5.8" screen, while the higher-end device boasts a 6.3" screen, as well as a faster processor. 

The devices have been named the Mega 5.8 and Mega 6.3, in accordance to their screen sizes, and will become available in Europe and Russia from May this year. Samsung has not set a worldwide release yet, but did say that the devices availability will vary.

Source: CNET


Complete Story


Passively Cooling Buildings During the Day

Posted: April 11, 2013 @ time: 11:16AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Air conditioning is among the more important inventions because it allowed people to settle in places that would otherwise be too warm. In those and other areas though, air conditioning can be one of the larger power usages, which is why researchers are working on better cooling systems. Those at the Stanford School of Engineering have recently developed a passive cooling structure that can keep a building cool in direct sunlight.

Passive cooling systems that reflect sunlight off of a building have been created before, but run into two problems; the reflectors will absorb some sunlight and warm, and the atmosphere may reflect some light back onto the building. The researchers solved both of these problems though by applying advanced photonics to their reflectors. The photonics used in the reflectors are designed to absorb less light and to emit specific wavelengths which are able to travel through the atmosphere, instead of being reflected by it. The result is a net cooling power of 100 watts per square meter from a passive cooler.

While the design is something that could be used on large buildings, the researchers also see it being used in areas with little electricity. Potentially the reflectors could be used to cheaply cool homes and other buildings there.

Source: Stanford School of Engineering


Complete Story


Microsoft Planning 7-Inch Surface Tablet for Later this Year, According to Reports

Posted: April 11, 2013 @ time: 06:38PM
Author: bp9801

Last summer Microsoft took the wraps off the Surface tablet, its own version of what a Windows 8-powered tablet should be. There are two versions of the Surface available, yet each one has a 10.6" touchscreen to draw you in. However, 10" tablets only make up a part of the market, as there are plenty in the 7 to 8-inch range from the likes of Google, ASUS, Samsung, and Apple. That hasn't been lost on Microsoft apparently, as a new report claims the company is creating a 7" Surface tablet due to arrive later this year. This isn't the first time a 7" tablet has been in the news recently with Microsoft. Last November an Xbox Surface with a 7" screen was reportedly in development, but nothing has been heard of it since.

A 7" Surface tablet would carry a lower price than its 10.6" counterparts, which typically means a broader appeal with consumers. It'd also mean something that's easier to carry around, both in terms of size and weight. We can't get too far ahead of ourselves though, as all of this is just rumor until something definitive comes from Microsoft.

Source: Ars Technica


Complete Story


Listen to All the Grand Theft Auto Radio Playlists on Spotify and iTunes

Posted: April 11, 2013 @ time: 06:51PM
Author: bp9801

Good news for fans of Grand Theft Auto's musical stylings, as Rockstar has announced the radio stations from many of the GTA games are now on Spotify and iTunes. Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City, San Andreas, Liberty City Stories, Vice City Stories, Chinatown Wars, GTA IV, and Episodes from Liberty City are all accounted for on both platforms, so no matter which GTA game you've played, you'll hear something familiar. One minor issue is some songs may be missing due to not being available on Spotify and/or iTunes just yet, but Rockstar hopes to change that if possible. Commercials featured on the radio stations can be checked out at The Advertising Council repository, although ones from GTA IV are still on the way.

Be sure to head on over to the source to check out all the stations and how to access them on Spotify and iTunes.

Source: Rockstar Games

Thanks to sdy284 for the tip!


Complete Story


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