Microsoft

Future Microsoft Devices Will Take Cues From the Surface Tablet 119 119

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says the company is committed to bringing Windows to as many computer form factors as possible — even if they have to do it themselves. He says their plan is to build out new devices with the same mindset that created the Surface line. The Surface Pro tablets (and the regular Surface tablets, now that Windows RT has been retired) have been a rare bright spot among Microsoft's mobile stumbles. Nadella seems to want Windows to become almost hardware agnostic, and he thinks the universal apps plan for Windows 10 is the way to do it.

He says, "Universal Windows apps are going to be written because you want to have those apps used on the desktop. The reason why anybody would want to write universal apps is not because of our three percent share in phones. It's because a billion consumers are going to have a Start Menu, which is going to have your app. You start the journey there and take them to multiple places. Their app can go to the phone. They can go to HoloLens. They can go to Xbox. ... And by the way, when we hook them on that, we have a phone app. This strategy is path dependent, which is a term I use that means where you start is not where you end up. And therein lies a lot of the nuance. The fundamental truth for developers is they will build if there are users. And in our case the truth is we have users on desktop."
Robotics

Robots Appear To Raise Productivity Without Causing Total Work Hours To Decline 391 391

Hallie Siegel writes: We often read about the economic impact of robots on employment, usually accompanied with the assertion that "robots steal jobs". But to date there has precious little economic analysis of the actual effects that robots are already having on employment and productivity. Georg Graetz (Professor of Economics at Uppsala University) and Guy Michaels (Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics) undertook a study (abstract) of how robots impacted productivity and employment between 1993 and 2007, and found that "industrial robots increase labor productivity, total factor productivity and wages." And while there is some evidence that they reduced the employment of low skilled workers, and, to a lesser extent, middle skilled workers, industrial robots had no significant effect on total hours worked.

This is important because it seems to contradict many of the pessimistic assertions that are presently being made about the impact of robots on jobs. What I am especially curious about is post-2007 data, however, because it's just in the past few years that we have seen a major shift in industrial robotics to incorporate collaborative robots, or co-robots. (Robots specifically designed to work alongside humans, as tools for augmenting human performance.) One might reasonably suspect that some of the negative impact of industrial robotics on low and middle skilled workers pre 2007 could be offset by the more recent and increasing use of co-bots, which are not designed to replace humans, but instead to make them more efficient.
Businesses

As Cloud Growth Booms, Server Farms Get Super-Sized 57 57

1sockchuck writes: Internet titans are concentrating massive amounts of computing power in regional cloud campuses housing multiple data centers. These huge data hubs, often in rural communities, enable companies to rapidly add server capacity and electric power amid rapid growth of cloud hosting and social sharing. As this growth continues, we'll see more of these cloud campuses, and they'll be bigger than the ones we see today. Some examples from this month: Google filed plans for a mammoth 800,000 square foot data center near Atlanta, Equinix announced 1 million square feet of new data centers on its campus in Silicon Valley, and Facebook began work on a $1 billion server farm in Texas that will span 750,000 square feet.
United Kingdom

Man Arrested After Charging iPhone On London Overground Train 674 674

An anonymous reader writes: 45-year-old Robin Lee was arrested after he used a socket on a London Overground train to charge up his iPhone. He was handcuffed and arrested for "abstracting electricity". Robin was then charged with "unacceptable behaviour" after "becoming aggressive" when objecting to his first arrest. The Guardian reports: "Speaking to the Evening Standard, Lee said he had been confronted by a police community support officer on the overground train from Hackney Wick to Camden Road on 10 July. The Overground is part of Transport For London’s wider network that also includes London Underground and the buses. 'She said I’m abstracting electricity. She kept saying it’s a crime. We were just coming into the station and there happened to be about four police officers on the platform. She called to them and said: ‘This guy’s been abstracting electricity, he needs to be arrested’.”
Communications

For £70,000, You Might Be Able to Own an Enigma 65 65

In 2007, we mentioned the eBay sale of an Enigma machine; now, The Guardian reports that another one is to be auctioned off next week, with an expected selling price of about £70,000 (at this writing, that's about $108,000). According to the article, "The machine being offered for sale, which dates from 1943 and currently belongs to a European museum, will go under the hammer at Sotheby's in London on Tuesday." The new owner may have need of a restoration manual and some reproduction batteries.
AMD

Air-Cooled AMD Radeon R9 Fury Arrives For $100 Less With Fury X-Like Performance 77 77

MojoKid writes: When AMD launched the liquid-cooled Radeon Fury X, it was obvious the was company willing to commit to new architecture and bleeding edge technologies (Fiji and High-Bandwidth Memory, respectively). However, it fell shy of the mark that enthusiasts hoped it would achieve, unable to quite deliver a definitive victory against NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 980 Ti. However, AMD just launched their Radeon R9 Fury (no "X" and sometimes referred to as "Fury Air"), a graphics card that brings a more compelling value proposition to the table. It's the Fury release that should give AMD a competitive edge against NVIDIA in the $500+ graphics card bracket. AMD's Radeon R9 Fury's basic specs are mostly identical to the liquid-cooled flagship Fury X, except for two important distinctions. There's a 50MHz reduction in GPU clock speed to 1000MHz, and 512 fewer stream processors for a total of 3584, versus what Fury X has on board. Here's the interesting news which the benchmark results demonstrate: In price the Fury veers closer to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980, but in performance it sneaks in awfully close to the GTX 980 Ti.
Linux Business

Lenovo Will Sell Ubuntu Laptops In India 77 77

puddingebola notes the news, as carried by Tom's Hardware, that Lenovo will soon ship laptops preloaded with Ubuntu in India. "The first of these systems will be the Lenovo Thinkpad L450, featuring only one of two CPUs, but the selection may widen over time and expand to other countries ...Overall, switching to Ubuntu reduces the system cost considerably. Currently, the standard L450 system with Windows 8.1 Pro utilizing a Core i3, 4 GB of RAM, and a 500 GB HDD costs 59724 INR ($943.02 USD). An Ubuntu version of the system with the same hardware specs, however, will only cost 48000 INR ($757.91 USD).
Power

New Record For Solar-Powered Autonomous Flight: 28 Hours Without Refueling 20 20

Hallie Siegel describes a new and impressive achievement for solar-powered flight: keeping a drone aloft for more than a full day. From the article: To actually pull it off has required a fair bit of innovation in flexible solar cells, high energy density batteries, miniaturized MEMS and CMOS sensors, and powerful processors ... but researchers at ETH Zurich have just recently managed to keep their unmanned UAV aloft for 28 hours without any fuel, building on their previous record by over an hour. Having more than 24 hours of endurance is important because overcast skies can inhibit recharging and poor weather or high winds can affect power consumption.
Open Source

Video MetaMorph Helps non-Engineers Design Circuits (Video) 21 21

MetaMorph grew out of Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Software Integrated Systems. The introduction video you see here explains and steps you through its basic operation. The second "bonus" video goes a little deeper into the software's function. And the transcript covers everything in both videos, so if you prefer reading to watching you aren't left out -- except for the visual design process walk-through, of course. It's all open source, and their site has free demos available, so if you want to try your hand at designing circuitry with MetaMorph, go right ahead.
Hardware

OCZ Toshiba Breaks 40 Cent Per GB Barrier With New Trion 100 Series SSD 144 144

MojoKid writes: OCZ is launching a brand new series of solid state drives today, dubbed the Trion 100. Not only are they the first drives from the company to use TLC NAND, but they're also the first to use all in-house Toshiba technology with the drive's Flash memory and controller both designed and built by Toshiba. That controller is paired to A19nm Toshiba TLC NAND Flash memory and a Nanya DDR3 DRAM cache. Details are scarce on the Toshiba TC58 controller but it does support Toshiba's QSBC (Quadruple Swing-By Correction — a Toshiba proprietary error correction technology) and the drives have a bit of SLC cache to boost write performance in bursts and increase endurance. The OCZ Trion 100 series is targeted at budget conscious consumers and users still contemplating the upgrade from a standard hard drive. As such, they're not barn-burners in the benchmarking department, but performance is still good overall and a huge upgrade over any HDD. Pricing is going to be very competitive as well, at under .40 per GiB for capacities of 240GB, 480GB and 960GB and .50 per GiB for the smallest 120GB drive.
AMD

AMD's Latest Server Compute GPU Packs In 32GB of Memory 46 46

Deathspawner writes: Following-up on the release of 12GB and 16GB FirePro compute cards last fall, AMD has just announced a brand-new top-end: the 32GB FirePro S9170. Targeted at DGEMM computation, the S9170 sets a new record for GPU memory on a single card, and does so without a dual-GPU design. Architecturally, the S9170 is similar to the S9150, but is clocked a bit faster, and is set to cost about the same as well, at between $3,000~$4,000. While AMD's recent desktop Radeon launch might have left a bit to be desired, the company has proven with its S9170 that it's still able to push boundaries.
IBM

IBM Beats The Rest of the World To 7nm Chips, But You'll Need to Wait For Them 89 89

Mickeycaskill writes: IBM's research division has successfully produced test chips containing 7nm transistors, potentially paving the way for slimmer, more powerful devices. The advance was made possible by using silicon-germanium instead of pure silicon in key regions of the molecular-size switches, making transistor switching faster and meaning the chips need less power. Most current smartphones use processors containing 14nm technology, with Qualcomm, Nvidia and MediaTek looking for ways to create slimmer chips. However, despite its evident pride, IBM is not saying when the 7nm technology will become commercially available. Also at ComputerWorld and The Register.
Open Source

Open Compute Project Comes Under Fire 86 86

judgecorp writes: The Open Compute Project, the Facebook-backed effort to create low-cost open source hardware for data centers has come under fire for a slack testing regime. The criticism was first aired at The Register where an anonymous test engineer described the project's testing as a "complete and total joke." The founding director of the project, Cole Crawford has penned an open letter in reply. The issue seems to be that the testing for standard highly-reliable hardware used by telcos and the like is very thorough and expensive. Some want the OCP to use more rigorous testing to replicate that level of reliability. Crawford argues that web-scale data centers are designed to cope with hardware failures, and "Tier 1" reliability would be a waste of effort.
Data Storage

Samsung Releases First 2TB Consumer SSD For Laptops 195 195

Lucas123 writes: Samsung has released what it is calling the world's first 2.5-in consumer-grade, multi-terabyte SSD, and it's issuing the new drive a 10-year warranty. With up to 2TB of capacity, the new 850 Pro and 850 EVO SSDs double the maximum capacity of their predecessors. As with the previous 840 Pro and EVO models, Samsung used its 3D V-NAND technology, which stacks 32 layers of NAND atop one another in a microscopic skyscraper. Additionally, the drives take advantage of multi-level cell (MLC) and triple-level cell (TLC) (2- and 3-bit per cell) technology for even greater density. The 850 Pro, Samsung said, can manage up to 550MBps sequential read and 520MBps sequential write rates and up to 100,000 random I/Os per second (IOPS). The 850 EVO SSD has slightly lower performance with 540MBps and 520MBps sequential read/write rates and up to 90,000 random IOPS. The SSDs will range in capacity from 120GB to 2TB and in price from $99 to $999.
Facebook

Facebook's New Data Center To Be Powered Entirely By Renewables 80 80

totalcaos writes: Facebook's new $500 million data center in Forth Worth will be powered entirely by renewable energy, thanks to a 200-megawatt wind project nearby. The data center will come online next year, and the company further plans to power the rest of its data centers with at least 50% renewables by the end of 2018. It's long-term goal is 100%. They claim the carbon impact of one person's yearly Facebook use is roughly the same as the impact of one medium latte.
Education

BBC Reveals Its New Microcomputer Design 97 97

The BBC has revealed the final design for its Micro Bit computer, a programmable board the size of a credit card they hope will inspire the same love of technology that the BBC Micro did in 1981. The Micro Bit includes an array of LEDs, buttons, and a motion sensor. It can be powered via USB, or by an addon pack with AA batteries. It's not intended as a competitor to devices like the Raspberry Pi or the Arduino — it is intended to complement them while remaining simple for educational purposes. In October, the BBC will begin distributing the Micro Bit to students in grade 7. They expect to give away about a million of them. Afterward, the device will go on sale, and its specs will be open sourced.
Robotics

Video Learning Simple Robot Programming With a 'Non-Threatening' Robot Ball (Video) 29 29

Gobot, it says here, "is a framework for robotics, physical computing, and the Internet of Things, written in the Go programming language." And in today's video, interviewee Adrian Zankich (AKA "Serious Programming Guy at The Hybrid Group") says that an unadorned robot ball -- in this case the Sphero -- is about the least threatening robot you can possibly use to teach entry-level robot programming. Start with Go language? Cylon.js? Use whichever you prefer, Adrian says. Mix and match. It's all fun, and they're both great ways to get into programming for robotics and Internet of Things applications. Open source? You bet. Here's the Hybrid Group's gobot GitHub repository for your perusing pleasure. This (and more) is all in the video, which Tim Lord shot at the recent Solid Conference, where there was a rather high background noise level (but thankfully not high enough to make Adrian hard to understand). And besides the video, there's even more material in the transcript.
AI

NVIDIA Hopes To Sell More Chips By Bringing AI Programming To the Masses 35 35

jfruh writes: Artificial intelligence typically requires heavy computing power, which can only help manufacturers of specialized chip manufacturers like NVIDIA. That's why the company is pushing its Digits software, which helps users design and experiment with neural networks. Version 2 of digits moves out of the command line and comes with a GUI interface in an attempt to move interest beyond the current academic market; it also makes programming for multichip configurations possible.
Portables

Two-Pounder From Lenovo Might Be Too Light For Comfort 134 134

MojoKid writes: With the advent of solid state storage and faster, lower-powered processors that require less complex cooling solutions, the average mainstream notebook is rather svelte. Recently, however, Lenovo announced their LaVie Z and LaVie Z 360 ultrabooks and at 1.87 and 2.04 pounds respectively, they're almost ridiculously light. Further, with Core i7 mobile processors and fast SSDs on board, these machines perform impressively well in the benchmarks and real world usage. If you actually pick one up though, both models are so light they feel almost empty, like there's nothing inside. Lenovo achieved this in part by utilizing a magnesium--lithium composite material for the casing of the machines. Though they're incredibly light, the feeling is almost too light, such that they tend to feel a little cheap or flimsy. With a tablet, you come to expect a super thin and light experience and when holding them in one hand, the light weight is an advantage. However, banging on a full-up notebook keyboard deck is a different ball of wax.
Communications

The IT Containers That Went To War 65 65

1sockchuck writes: Parachuting a container full of IT gear into a war zone is challenging enough. In the mountains of Afghanistan, helicopters had to deliver modular data centers in three minutes or less, lest the choppers be targeted by Taliban rockets. UK vendor Cannon recently spoke with DataCenterDynamics, sharing some of the extreme challenges and lessons learned from deploying portable data centers for military units in deserts and mountains. The same lessons (except, hopefully, with a lower chance of being shot) would apply in lots of other extreme enviroments, too.