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Technology

There's No Such Thing As a General-Purpose Processor 181

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-ghosts dept.
CowboyRobot writes: David Chisnall of the University of Cambridge argues that despite the current trend of categorizing processors and accelerators as "general purpose," there really is no such thing and believing in such a device is harmful.

"The problem of dark silicon (the portion of a chip that must be left unpowered) means that it is going to be increasingly viable to have lots of different cores on the same die, as long as most of them are not constantly powered. Efficient designs in such a world will require admitting that there is no one-size-fits-all processor design and that there is a large spectrum, with different trade-offs at different points."
Technology

Amazon's Echo Chamber 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-build-a-robot-that-will-help-people-buy-things dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The announcement this Thursday of another dubious piece of hardware from Amazon led Dustin Curtis to write an article critical of Amazon's hardware strategy, saying the company just doesn't understand what makes a device good or bad. Curtis says, "With Amazon.com, it can heavily and successfully promote and sell its products, giving it false indicators of success. It's an echo chamber. They make a product, they market the product on Amazon.com, they sell the product to Amazon.com customers, they get a false sense of success, the customer puts the product in a drawer and never uses it, and then Amazon moves on to the next product. Finally, with the Fire Phone, customers have been pushing back.

The media strategy that seems to be driving Jeff Bezos to make mobile consumption devices (with Amazon's media stores and Prime video/music) is flawed. No one makes money selling media for consumption anymore. That market is quickly and brutally dying. The media market is now so efficient that all profit is completely sucked out of the equation by the time you get to the consumption delivery system, to the point that it is barely possible to break even."
Databases

Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Data Warehouse Server System? 147

Posted by timothy
from the index-cards-and-an-actual-warehouse dept.
New submitter puzzled_decoy writes The company I work has decided to get in on this "big data" thing. We are trying to find a good data warehouse system to host and run analytics on, you guessed it, a bunch of data. Right now we are looking into MSSQL, a company called Domo, and Oracle contacted us. Google BigQuery may be another option. At its core, we need to be able to query huge amounts of data in sometimes rather odd ways. We need a strong ETLlayer, and hopefully we can put some nice visual reporting service on top of wherever the data is stored. So, what is your experience with "big data" servers and services? What would you recommend, and what are the pitfalls you've encountered?
Robotics

Robot Makes People Feel Like a Ghost Is Nearby 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the g-g-g-g-ghost?!?! dept.
sciencehabit writes: In 2006, cognitive neuroscientist Olaf Blanke of the University of Geneva in Switzerland was testing a patient's brain functions before her epilepsy surgery when he noticed something strange. Every time he electrically stimulated the region of her brain responsible for integrating different sensory signals from the body, the patient would look behind her back as if a person was there, even when she knew full well that no one was actually present. Now, with the help of robots, Blanke and colleagues have not only found a neurological explanation for this illusion, but also tricked healthy people into sensing "ghosts," they report online in Current Biology (abstract). The study could help explain why schizophrenia patients sometimes hallucinate that aliens control their movements.
Input Devices

Amazon's Echo: a $200, Multi-Function, Audio-Centric Device 129

Posted by timothy
from the jarvis-is-on-the-other-line-with-eliza dept.
An anonymous reader writes Amazon today quietly unveiled a new product dubbed Amazon Echo. The $200 device appears to be a voice-activated wireless speaker that can answer your questions, offer updates on what's going in the world, and of course play music. Echo is currently available for purchase via an invite-only system. If you have Amazon Prime, however, you can get it for $100. I've put in a request for one; hopefully we'll get a hands-on look at the Echo soon. It looks useful and interesting for random searches, and for controlling devices, but one small speaker (interesting driver arrangement notwithstanding) doesn't bode well for "fill[ing] any room with immersive sound," as Amazon's promo materials claim.
Power

Ask Slashdot: Minimizing Oil and Gas Dependency In a Central European City? 250

Posted by timothy
from the neighbor's-wifi-problem-solved dept.
An anonymous reader writes I live in a big city in central Europe. As most of you know from recent news, most of Europe's (and quite a bit of China's) gas supply comes from Russia and is very likely to be cut off several times during the next few winters (China's time will come in later years). What many might not know is that not just our natural gas supply, but also our petrol ('gas' for the Americans in the audience) often comes partly from Russia and some of our electricity comes from gas powered stations. Most of our leaders, at least in Germany and Hungary, are in bed with the Russians and likely won't do anything about fuel security. I live in an building with a south-facing roof and I own the roof space but I don't have enough land here to put a wind turbine or something similar on. Can anyone make good suggestions for ways to cut down my dependence on unreliable power supplies? Extra points for environmentalism, but I am even willing to pay more to be sure the heating is there in winter and my server keeps running.
Displays

French Health Watchdog: 3D Viewing May Damage Eyesight In Children 99

Posted by timothy
from the this-time-with-feeling-but-not-depth dept.
dryriver (1010635) writes with this clipping from the BBC: A French health watchdog has recommended that children under the age of six should not be allowed access to 3D content. The Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (Anses) added that access for those up to the age of 13 should be 'moderate'. It follows research into the possible impact of 3D imaging on still-developing eyes. Few countries currently have guidelines about 3D usage. According to Anses, the process of assimilating a three-dimensional effect requires the eyes to look at images in two different places at the same time before the brain translates it as one image. 'In children, and particularly before the age of six, the health effects of this vergence-accommodation conflict could be much more severe given the active development of the visual system at this time,' it said in a statement.
Businesses

PC Cooling Specialist Zalman Goes Bankrupt Due To Fraud 208

Posted by timothy
from the cooling-down-on-a-big-scale dept.
An anonymous reader writes Zalman's parent company Moneual's CEO Harold Park, and vice presidents Scott Park and Won Duck-yeok, have apparently spent the last five years producing fraudulent documentation relating to the sales performance of Zalman. These documents inflated sales figures and export data for Zalman's products. The reason? Bank loans. By increasing sales and exports Park and his associates were able to secure bank loans totaling $2.98 billion. Someone has finally realized what has been going on, though, triggering Zalman's shares to be suspended on the stock market and the company filing for bankruptcy protection. The questions now turn to how this practice was allowed to continue unnoticed for so long and how the banks will go about getting their near $3 billion back.
Power

Enzymes Make Electricity From Jet Fuel Without Ignition 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the spreading-the-power dept.
An anonymous reader writes University of Utah engineers say they've developed the first room-temperature fuel cell that uses enzymes to help jet fuel produce electricity without needing to ignite the fuel. These new fuel cells can be used to power portable electronics, off-grid power and sensors. A study of the new cells appears online today in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Catalysis. "The major advance in this research is the ability to use Jet Propellant-8 directly in a fuel cell without having to remove sulfur impurities or operate at very high temperature," says the study's senior author. "This work shows that JP-8 and probably others can be used as fuels for low-temperature fuel cells with the right catalysts."
Robotics

Pacific Northwest Lab's Sensor-Packed Fish Gauges Hydropower Facilities 28

Posted by samzenpus
from the release-the-swimbot dept.
coondoggie writes Sometimes it takes a fish to do a man's job. Scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a sensor-laden, synthetic Sensor Fish that can be used to swim into hydropower facilities like dams to evaluate structures and other environmental systems. Using Sensor Fish, PNNL researchers say they can measure the various forces juvenile salmon experience as they pass through dams. The Sensor Fish initially was designed to evaluate dams equipped with a common type of turbine along the Columbia River, the Kaplan turbine. The pressure change, they found, is akin to traveling from sea level to the top of Mount Everest in blink of an eye.
Android

Android 5.0 Makes SD Cards Great Again 214

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-if-you-could-just-add-some-SD-slots-to-nexus-devices dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Over the past couple of years, Google has implemented some changes to how Android handles SD cards that aren't very beneficial to users or developers. After listening to many rounds of complaints, this seems to have changed in Android 5.0 Lollipop. Google's Jeff Sharkey wrote, "[I]n Lollipop we added the new ACTION_OPEN_DOCUMENT_TREE intent. Apps can launch this intent to pick and return a directory from any supported DocumentProvider, including any of the shared storage supported by the device. Apps can then create, update, and delete files and directories anywhere under the picked tree without any additional user interaction. Just like the other document intents, apps can persist this access across reboots." Android Police adds, "All put together, this should be enough to alleviate most of the stress related to SD cards after the release of KitKat. Power users will no longer have to deal with crippled file managers, media apps will have convenient access to everything they should regardless of storage location, and developers won't have to rely on messy hacks to work around the restrictions."
Cloud

LHC Data Generation Expected To Scale Up To 400PB a Year 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the heading-toward-exascale dept.
DW100 writes: Cern has said it expects its experiments with the Large Hadron Collider to generate as much as 400PB of information per year by 2023 as the scope of its work continues to expand. Currently LHC experiments have generated an archive of 100PB and this is growing by 27PB per year. Cern infrastructure manager Tim Bell, speaking at the OpenStack Summit in Paris, said the organization is using OpenStack to underpin this huge data growth, hoping it can handle such vast reams of potentially universe-altering information.
Intel

Intel To Expand Core M Broadwell Line With Faster Dual-Core Processors 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the harder-better-faster-stronger dept.
MojoKid writes: Intel didn't waste much time following-up on its initial Core M lineup launch. The company has added 4 more Core M models to its roster. Like the launch chips, these four are dual-core designs that support HyperThreading to enable an effective four logical threads for processing. Also like those earlier chips, these are spec'd with a TDP of 4.5W. These new chips, however, are generally faster than the launch models, with a new top-end processor called the M-5Y71. This chip has a base clock speed of 1.2GHz, but is burstable through Turbo up to 2.9GHz. What really sets these chips apart from the initial Core M models is that their TDP is scalable, based on what the builder is looking to do with it. If the chip is set to be used in a notebook with very little free space, the OEM could opt to drop the chip down to 3.5W and lose 600MHz in the process. By contrast, a bulkier notebook could handle a hotter chip better, so a higher TDP could be decided upon. If that route's taken, any one of these new chips could peak at 6W and add 200MHz to the base and top-end clocks.
China

China Plans To Build a Domestic Robotics Industry 67

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-your-robots-are-belong-to-us dept.
jfruh writes China is known as a manufacturing export powerhouse, but it imports much of one particularly important kind of manufacturing tool: robots. Now the country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is developing a "robotics technology roadmap," with a goal of owning over 45 percent of the high-end robotics market by 2020.
United Kingdom

Scotland Builds Power Farms of the Future Under the Sea 216

Posted by samzenpus
from the life-is-the-bubbles dept.
HughPickens.com writes "The Pentland Firth is a raw, stormy sound between the Scottish mainland and the Orkney Islands, known for some of the world's fastest flowing marine waters. Daily tides here reach 11 miles per hour, and can go as high as 18 – a breakneck current that's the reason people are describing Scotland as the Saudi Arabia of tidal power. Now Megan Garber reports in The Atlantic that a new tidal power plant, to be installed off the Scottish coast aims to make the Scotland a world leader for turning sea flow into electricity. Underwater windmills, the BBC notes, have the benefit of invisibility—a common objection to wind turbines being how unsightly they are to human eyes. Undersea turbines also benefit from the fact that tides are predictable in ways that winds are not: You know how much power you're generating, basically, on any given day. The tidal currents are also completely carbon-free and since sea water is 832 times denser than air, a 5 knot ocean current has more kinetic energy than a 350 km/h wind.

MeyGen will face a challenge in that work: The turbines are incredibly difficult to install. The Pentland Firth is a harsh environment to begin with; complicating matters is the fact that the turbines can be installed only at the deepest of ocean depths so as not to disrupt the paths of ships on the surface. They also need to be installed in bays or headlands, where tidal flows are at their most intense. It is an unbelievably harsh environment in which to build anything, let alone manage a vast fleet of tidal machines beneath the waves. If each Hammerfest machine delivers its advertised 1MW of power, then you need 1,000 of them to hope to match the output of a typical gas or coal-fired power station. "The real aim," says Keith Anderson, "is to establish the predictability which you get with tidal power, and to feed that into the energy mix which includes the less predictable sources like wind or wave. The whole point of this device is to test that it can produce power, and we believe it can, and to show it's robust and can be maintained."
Japan

Japan's Annual Nuclear Drill Highlights Problems 43

Posted by samzenpus
from the deja-vu-all-over-again dept.
AmiMoJo writes The Japanese government's disaster drill for nuclear power plants has highlighted some issues. The 2-day drill began on Sunday on the scenario that an earthquake had triggered an accident at the Shika plant in Ishikawa Prefecture. A group of residents gathered at a port to flee in boats on the assumption that the earthquake had made roads unusable. But the sea was too rough to sail, and officials had not considered an alternative in case of bad weather. Participating organizations were connected via a video link, but there were problems with the sound. Officials at the Toyama Prefectural government office could not hear part of the evacuation order.
HP

Will HP's $200 Stream 11 Make People Forget About Chromebooks? 232

Posted by timothy
from the depends-on-one's-needs dept.
theodp writes With an 11.6" screen, Windows 8.1, and free Office 365 for a year, the $199.99 solid-state HP Stream 11 laptop is positioned to make people think twice about Chromebooks (add $30 for the HP Stream 13). But will it? "The HP Stream 11 is clearly both inexpensive and a great value," writes Paul Thurrott. "At just $200, it's cheap, of course. But it also features a solid-feeling construction, a bright and fun form factor, a surprisingly high-quality typing experience and a wonderful screen. This isn't a bargain bin throwaway. The Stream 11 is something special." The HP Stream Family also includes the HP Stream 7, a $99.99 Windows 8.1 Tablet that includes the Office 365 deal. By the way, at the other end of the price spectrum, HP has introduced the Sprout, which Fast Company calls a bold and weird PC that's bursting at the seams with new ideas, from 3-D scanning to augmented reality. (We mentioned the Sprout a few days ago, too; HP seems to be making some interesting moves lately, looks like they're getting on the smartwatch bandwagon, too.) If you're looking at the Stream as a cheap platform for OSes other than Windows, be cautious: one of the reviews at the Amazon page linked describes trouble getting recent Linux distributions to install.
Handhelds

LG's 0.7mm Smartphone Bezel Is World's Narrowest 63

Posted by timothy
from the ok-that's-pretty-neat dept.
SmartAboutThings (1951032) writes "LG Display has announced that it has developed a 5.3-inch Full HD LCD panel for smartphones with the world's narrowest bezel at 0.7mm. It's even thinner than a credit card, making the screen give you the impression that it 'overflows.' The company calls the construction Neo Edge technology; it uses an adhesive instead of double-sided tape to attach and seal the panel's circuit board and backlight unit.
Graphics

Qualcomm Begins Contributing To Reverse-Engineered Freedreno Linux Driver 19

Posted by Soulskill
from the doing-it-right dept.
An anonymous reader writes: For over two years there's been a Freedreno driver project that's been reverse-engineering Qualcomm's Adreno graphics hardware. Freedreno consists of both a user-space Gallium3D driver providing OpenGL / OpenGL ES support and a DRM/KMS kernel driver to replace Qualcomm's open-source kernel driver designed just around Android's needs. The community-based, reverse-engineering Freedreno driver project is finally paying off and gaining critical momentum with Qualcomm now contributing to the driver. QuIC through the Aurora Forum provided Adreno A4xx hardware support to the Freedreno MSM kernel driver.
Android

Android Co-Founder Andy Rubin Leaving Google 82

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-droids dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Wall Street Journal reports that Andy Rubin is leaving Google. Rubin co-founded Android in 2003 and stayed on when the company was acquired by Google in 2005. Rubin led Android through the acquisition of over a billion users, until 2013 when he moved to Google's robotics division. He was replaced in the Android division by Sundar Pichai, who continues in charge of that, Chrome, Google+, and many other products. Rubin's robotics role will be filled by James Kuffner. "Mr. Rubin's departure is a blow to Google's robotics efforts. However, Mr. Kuffner is experienced in the sector, having worked on human-like robot technology for over two decades, including seven years at Carnegie Mellon University and five years on Google's self-driving car project."

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