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Data Storage

Object Storage and POSIX Should Merge 66

storagedude writes: Object storage's low cost and ease of use have made it all the rage, but a few additional features would make it a worthier competitor to POSIX-based file systems, writes Jeff Layton at Enterprise Storage Forum. Byte-level access, easier application portability and a few commands like open, close, read, write and lseek could make object storage a force to be reckoned with.

'Having an object storage system that allows byte-range access is very appealing,' writes Layton. 'It means that rewriting applications to access object storage is now an infinitely easier task. It can also mean that the amount of data touched when reading just a few bytes of a file is greatly reduced (by several orders of magnitude). Conceptually, the idea has great appeal. Because I'm not a file system developer I can't work out the details, but the end result could be something amazing.'
Data Storage

Meet Linux's Newest File-System: Bcachefs 132

An anonymous reader writes: Bcachefs is a new open-source file-system derived from the bcache Linux kernel block layer cache. Bcachefs was announced by Kent Overstreet, the lead Bcache author. Bcachefs hopes to provide performance like XFS/EXT4 while having features similar to Btrfs and ZFS. The bachefs on-disk format hasn't yet been finalized and the code isn't yet ready for the Linux kernel. That said, initial performance results are okay and "It probably won't eat your data — but no promises." Features so far for Bcachefs are support for multiple devices, built-in caching/tiering, CRC32C checksumming, and Zlib transparent compression. Support for snapshots is to be worked on.
Displays

A New Take on Wearable Devices 29

minstrelmike writes: A company called Polyera is working on a wrist-worn device with a flexible, fabric-like screen that uses e-Ink technology and can go days without recharging. "Right now we design electronic devices that are built on rigid little bricks, so our devices end up looking like rigid little bricks. We wanted to make a fundamental technology that would completely open up the design capabilities. Now we're playing with materials that are more warm, and integrating electronics with materials that are more like leather than they are metal or glass." Their device is touch-sensitive and has much more usable screen space than most wrist-borne devices, which comes at the cost of being lower-resolution and grayscale.
Graphics

NVIDIA Launches $159 Mainstream Maxwell-Based GeForce GTX 950 85

MojoKid writes: NVIDIA is launching a new mainstream graphics card today, the GeForce GTX 950, based on the company's GM206 GPU. The GM206 debuted on the GeForce GTX 960, which launched a few months back. As the new card's name suggests though, the GM206 used on the GeForce GTX 950 isn't quite as powerful as the one used on the GTX 960. The company is targeting this card at MOBA (massive online battle arena) players, who don't necessarily need the most powerful GPUs on the market, but want smooth, consistent framerates at resolutions of 1080p or below. It's being positioned as a significant, yet affordable, upgrade over cards like the GeForce GTX 650 Ti, that are a couple of generations old. NVIDIA's reference specifications for the GeForce GTX 950 call for a base clock of 1024MHz and a Boost clock of 1188MHz. The GPU is packing 768 CUDA cores, 48 texture units, and 32 ROPs. The 2GB of video memory on GeForce GTX 950 cards is clocked at a 6.6GHz (effective GDDR5 data rate) and the memory links to the GPU via a 128-bit interface. At those clocks, the GeForce GTX 950 offers up a peak textured fillrate of 49.2 GTexels/s and 105.6 GB/s of memory bandwidth. At a $159 starting MSRP, in the benchmarks, the GeForce GTX 950 offers solid entry level or midrange performance at 1080p resolutions. It's a bit faster than AMD's Radeon R9 270X but comes in just behind a Radeon R9 285.
Robotics

Video HooperFly is an Open Source, Modular Drone (Video) 24

Tricopters, quadcopters, hexicopters. A HooperFly can be any of these, or an octocopter or possibly even a larger number than that. The HooperFly is a modular creation, and spokesman Rich Burton says the design is open source (and was showing off the HooperFly at OSCON), so the flier's configuration is limited only by your imagination. The main construction material is plastic tubing available from most building supply and hardware stores. The electronics? We didn't see schematics or code, but presumably they're out there. One thing for sure is that the HooperFly is good for making music videos like M.I.A. & The Partysquad's Double Bubble Trouble (NSFP; i.e. NotSafeForPrudes; has images of 3-D printed guns, flying copters, etc.) and the lyrical Peace Drone at Twilight. It looks like HooperFly lives at the intersection of technology and art, which is a good place to be -- not that there aren't plenty of HooperFly skateboard videos, too, because one of the first things it seems most skateboarders do when they get a camera-equipped drone is shoot a skateboard video and post it to YouTube. But beyond that, intrepid drone pilots can work with the HooperFly's autopilot features to do many beautiful (and hopefully legal) things.
DRM

Regionally Encoded Toner Cartridges 'to Serve Customers Better' 379

sandbagger writes: The latest attempt to create artificial scarcity comes from Xerox, according to the editors at TechDirt, who cite German sources: "Xerox uses region coding on their toner cartridges AND locks the printer to the first type used. So if you use a North America cartridge you can't use the cheaper Eastern Europe cartridges. The printer's display doesn't show this, nor does the hotline know about it. When c't reached out to Xerox, the marketing drone claimed, this was done to serve the customer better..."
Networking

Bruce Schneier On Cisco ROMMON Firmware Exploit: "This Is Serious" 57

When Bruce Schneier says of a security problem "This is serious," it makes sense to pay attention to it. And that's how he refers to a recently disclosed Cisco vulnerability alert about "an evolution in attacks against Cisco IOS Classic platforms. Cisco has observed a limited number of cases where attackers, after gaining administrative or physical access to a Cisco IOS device, replaced the Cisco IOS ROMMON (IOS bootstrap) with a malicious ROMMON image." Schneier links to Ars Technica's short description of the attack, which notes The significance of the advisory isn't that the initial firmware can be replaced. As indicated, that's a standard feature not only with Cisco gear but just about any computing device. What's important is that attackers are somehow managing to obtain the administrative credentials required to make unauthorized changes that take control of the networking gear.
Google

Lightning Wipes Storage Disks At Google Data Center 141

An anonymous reader writes: Lightning struck a Google data center in Belgium four times in rapid succession last week, permanently erasing a small amount of users' data from the cloud. The affected disks were part of Google Computer Engine (GCE), a utility that lets people run virtual computers in the cloud on Google's servers. Despite the uncontrollable nature of the incident, Google has accepted full responsibility for the blackout and promises to upgrade its data center storage hardware, increasing its resilience against power outages.
Robotics

How Long Until We Have a Home Robot That Lives Up To the Hype? 114

moon_unit2 writes: You may have heard of "personal robots" such as Jibo, Buddy, and Pepper. One journalist recently met one of these home bots and found the reality less dazzling than the promotional videos. Whereas the Indiegogo clips of Buddy show the robot waking people up and helping with cooking, the current prototype can only perform a few canned tasks, and it struggles with natural language processing and vision. As the writer notes, the final version may be a lot more sophisticated, but it's hard to believe that real home helpers are just around the corner.
Security

Reflection DDoS Attacks Abusing RPC Portmapper 34

msm1267 writes: Attackers have figured out how to use Portmapper, or RPC Portmapper, in reflection attacks where victims are sent copious amounts of responses from Portmapper servers, saturating bandwidth and keeping websites and web-based services unreachable. Telecommunications and Internet service provider Level 3 Communications of Colorado spotted anomalous traffic on its backbone starting in mid-June almost as beta runs of attacks that were carried out Aug. 10-12 against a handful of targets in the gaming and web hosting industries. There are 1.1 million Portmapper servers accessible online, and those open servers can be abused to similar effect as NTP servers were two years ago in amplification attacks.
Desktops (Apple)

Could the Best Windows 10 Laptop Be a Mac? 435

dkatana writes: Now that Windows 10 is finally out there many people are looking for the best laptop with the power to make the new OS shine. The sweet spot appears to be in $900-$1500 machines from Dell, Asus and HP. But Apple, the company that has been fighting Windows for ever, has other options for Windows 10: the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. According to InformationWeek there are many reasons to consider purchasing a MacBook as the next Windows machine, including design, reliability, performance, battery life, display quality and better keyboard. Also MacBooks have a higher resell value, retaining up to 50% of their price after five years.
Power

MIT and Samsung Researching Solid-State Batteries 60

jones_supa writes: Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Samsung have developed a new approach to one of the three basic components of batteries, the electrolyte. The new findings are based on the idea that a solid electrolyte, rather than liquid, could greatly improve both device lifetime and safety, while also providing a significant boost in power density. The new type of electrolyte would also cope better in cold temperatures. The results are reported in the journal Nature Materials in a paper by MIT postdoc Yan Wang, visiting professor of materials science and engineering Gerbrand Ceder, and five others.
Intel

Intel Discloses Detailed Skylake Architecture Enhancements 53

MojoKid writes: Intel is still keeping a number of details regarding its complete Skylake microarchitecture and product line-up under wraps for a few more weeks, but at a public session at IDF, some of the design updates introduced with Skylake were detailed. Virtually every aspect of Skylake has been improved versus the previous-gen Haswell microarchitecture. I/O, Ring Bus, and LLC throughput has been increased, the graphics architecture has been updated to support DX12 and new eDRAM configurations, it has an integrated camera ISP, support for faster DDR4 memory, and more flexible overclocking features. All of these things culminate in a processor that offers higher IPC performance and improved power efficiency. There are also new security technologies dubbed Intel Software Guard Extensions (Intel SGX) onboard Skylake, which support new instructions to create and isolate enclaves from malware and privileged software attack, along with Memory Protection Extensions (Intel MPX) to help protect stack and heap buffer boundaries as well. A new technology, dubbed Intel Speed Shift, also allows Skylake to switch power states faster than previous-gen products, controlling P states fully in hardware, whereas previous-gen products required OS control. The end result is that Skylake can switch P states in 1ms, whereas it takes roughly 30ms with older processors.
Data Storage

Intel Promises 'Optane' SSDs Based On Technology Faster Than Flash In 2016 80

holy_calamity writes: Intel today announced that it will introduce SSDs based on a new non-volatile memory that is significantly faster than flash in 2016. A prototype was shown operating at around seven times as fast as a high-end SSD available today. Intel's new 3D Xpoint memory technology was developed in collaboration with Micron and is said to be capable of operating as much as 1000 times faster than flash. Scant details have been released, but the technology has similarities with the RRAM and memristor technologies being persued by other companies.
Google

Google Announces a Router: OnHub 278

An anonymous reader writes: Google has announced they're working with TP-LINK to build a new router they call OnHub. They say it's designed for the way we tend to use Wi-Fi in 2015, optimizing for streaming and sharing in a way that older routers don't. The router has a cylindrical design and comes with a simple, user-friendly mobile app. They say, "OnHub searches the airwaves and selects the best channel for the fastest connection. A unique antenna design and smart software keep working in the background, automatically adjusting OnHub to avoid interference and keep your network at peak performance. You can even prioritize a device, so that your most important activity — like streaming your favorite show — gets the fastest speed." The device will cost $200, it supports Bluetooth Smart Ready, Weave, and 802.15.4, and it will automatically apply firmware updates.
Upgrades

Revisiting How Much RAM Is Enough Today For Desktop Computing 350

jjslash writes: An article at TechSpot tests how much RAM you need for regular desktop computing and how it affects performance in apps and games. As it turns out, there's not much benefit going beyond 8 GB for regular programs, and surprisingly, 4GB still seems to be enough for gaming in most cases. Although RAM is cheap these days, and they had to go to absurdly unrealistic settings to simulate high demand for memory outside of virtualization, it's a good read to confirm our judgment calls on what is enough for most in 2015.
Graphics

Intel Skylake Gen9 Series Graphics Architecture Unveiled 29

MojoKid writes: Intel's Skylake is here and the new architecture comprises Intel's 6th generation Core line of CPUs. In recent testing it was confirmed that Intel's Skylake-based Core i7-6700K is the company's fastest quad-core desktop processor to date. However, one thing Intel kept a tight lid on was the underlying technology of the Gen9 Intel HD Graphics engine on board Skylake, that is until now. An overview of the changes Intel made specific to Intel Gen9 graphics, notes the following among other tweaks: Available L3 cache capacity has been increased to 768 Kbytes per slice (512 Kbytes for application data). Sizes of both L3 and LLC request queues have been increased. This improves latency hiding to achieve better effective bandwidth against the architecture peak theoretical. Gen9 EDRAM now acts as a memory-side cache between LLC and DRAM. Also, the EDRAM memory controller has moved into the system agent, adjacent to the display controller, to support power efficient and low latency display refresh. Gen9 has also been designed to enable products with 1, 2, or 3 slices, each with 24 EUs per slice and 8 EUs per subslice. Finally, Gen9 adds new power gating and clock domains for more efficient dynamic power management. This can particularly improve low power media playback modes.
Hardware Hacking

You Can Have My TIPs When You Pry Them From My Cold, Dead Hands 170

szczys writes: Should you trash brand new parts developed decades ago and adopt newer models? The argument centers around TIP parts which are a standard type of transistor developed in 1969. This debate started out with a post from Tom Jennings who is known as the creator of Fidonet but works a lot with electronic hardware. Adam Fabio — himself an Electronics Engineer — picked up on the argument for the other side. He attests that if used in the proper application these parts are second to none.
Businesses

Wuala Encrypted Cloud-Storage Service Shuts Down 128

New submitter craigtp writes: Wuala, one of the more trusted cloud-storage services that employed encryption for your files, is shutting down. Users of the service will have until 15th November 2015 to move all of their files off the service before all of their data is deleted. From the announcement: "Customers who have an active prepaid annual subscription will be eligible to receive a refund for any unused subscription fees. Your refund will be calculated based on a termination date effective from today’s date, even though the full service will remain active until 30 September 2015 and your data will be available until 15 November 2015. Refunds will be automatically processed and issued to eligible customers in coming weeks. Some exceptions apply. Please visit www.wuala.com for more information."
AMD

DirectX 12 Performance Tested In Ashes of the Singularity 96

Vigile writes: The future of graphics APIs lies in DirectX 12 and Vulkan, both built to target GPU hardware at a lower level than previously available. The advantages are better performance, better efficiency on all hardware and more control for the developer that is willing to put in the time and effort to understand the hardware in question. Until today we have only heard or seen theoretical "peak" performance claims of DX12 compared to DX11. PC Perspective just posted an article that uses a pre-beta version of Ashes of the Singularity, an upcoming RTS utilizing the Oxide Games Nitrous engine, to evaluate and compare DX12's performance claims and gains against DX11. In the story we find five different processor platforms tested with two different GPUs and two different resolutions. Results are interesting and show that DX12 levels the playing field for AMD, with its R9 390X gaining enough ground in DX12 to overcome a significant performance deficit that exists using DX11 to the GTX 980.