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SanDisk Focusing More On Desktop and Mobile SATA SSDs, Extreme II Series Tested 71

MojoKid writes "Odds are, if you've purchased anything that uses Flash memory in the last 20 years or so, you already own a piece of SanDisk technology. The company has been in Flash storage since the late '80s and manufactures products used in everything from smartphones to digital cameras. Even though it enjoys a long history in the Flash memory business, SanDisk is perhaps not as well known for its Solid State Drive (SSD) solutions for desktop and mobile PCs. However, SanDisk recently expanded their product stack with new, high-performance SSDs that leverage the company's own NAND Flash memory and Marvell's popular 88SSS9187 controller. The new drives are SanDisk's Extreme II family of SSDs targeted performance enthusiasts, workstations professionals and gamers. The initial line-up of drives consists of 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB models. Performance specifications for the three drives come in at 545MB/s – 550MB/s for reads with write performance from 340MB/s to 510MB/s, depending on density. In the benchmarks, SanDisk's Extreme II SSD showed it has the chops to hang with some of the fastest drives on the market from Samsung, Corsair and OCZ."
Hardware Hacking

Helicopter Parts Make For Amazing DIY Camera Stabilization 78

Iddo Genuth writes "Videographer Tom Antos developed an advanced DIY camera stabilizer which can hold almost any DSLR or mirrorless camera steady for video photography. Although this surely isn't as sophisticated (and super expensive) as the professional MVI M10 handheld 3-axis digital stabilized camera gimbal, its still quite impressive especially when you consider it only costs a few hundred dollars rather then tens of thousands — that is if you feel like building it yourself." Antos' design takes advantage of stabilized gimbal systems made for hanging cameras on remote-controlled helicopters, and does a very impressive job for its price.

Robot Dominates Air Hockey, Adapts To Opponents' Playing Style 49

colinneagle writes "Researchers at Chiba University in Japan have developed a robot that could frustrate teenagers worldwide with its impressive air hockey skills. What's remarkable about this air hockey-playing robot, which is not the first of its kind, is that it can sense human opponents' playing styles and adapt to defend against them. The key is how the computer controlling the robot views its opponent — at a speed of 500 frames per second. From there, the robot uses a three-layer control system to determine motion control, when it should hit the puck, defend its goal or stay still, and a third that determines how it should react to its opponent's playing style."

Volvo's Electric Roads Concept Points To Battery-Free EV Future 216

Zothecula writes "While quick charging technology installed at strategic points along a planned route might be a good fit for inner city buses, it's not going to be of much use to electric vehicles that stop infrequently. Volvo sees our future long-haul trucks and buses drawing the juice they need from the road itself, making large onboard batteries a thing of the past. 'The two power rails/lines run along the road's entire length. One is a positive pole, and the other is used to return the current. The lines are sectioned so that live current is only delivered to a collector mounted at the rear of, or under, the truck if an appropriate signal is detected. As an additional safety measure, the current flows only when the vehicle is moving at speeds greater than 60 km/h (37 mph). "The vehicle is equipped with a radio emitter, which the road segments can sense," explains Volvo's Per-Martin Johnansson. "If an electric vehicle passes a road segment with a proper encrypted signal, then the road will energize the segments that sense the vehicle.'"
Data Storage

Facebook's Newest Datacenter Relies On Arctic Cooling 106

Nerval's Lobster writes "One year and seven months after beginning construction, Facebook has brought its first datacenter on foreign soil online. That soil is in Lulea, town of 75,000 people on northern Sweden's east coast, just miles south of the boundary separating the Arctic Circle from the somewhat-less-frigid land below it. Lulea (also nicknamed The Node Pole for the number of datacenters in the area) is in the coldest area of Sweden and shares the same latitude as Fairbanks, Alaska, according to a local booster site. The constant, biting wind may have stunted the growth of Lulea's tourism industry, but it has proven a big factor in luring big IT facilities into the area. Datacenters in Lulea are just as difficult to power and cool as any other concentrated mass of IT equipment, but their owners can slash the cost of cooling all those servers and storage units simply by opening a window: the temperature in Lulea hasn't stayed at or above 86 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours since 1961, and the average temperature is a bracing 29.6 Fahrenheit. Air cooling might prove a partial substitute for powered environmental control, but Facebook's datacenter still needed 120megawatts of steady power to keep the social servers humming. Sweden has among the lowest electricity costs in Europe, and the Lulea area reportedly has among the lowest power costs in Sweden. Low electricity prices are at least partly due to the area's proximity to the powerful Lulea River and the line of hydroelectric dams that draw power from it."

Dell's Haswell-Powered Alienware X51 R2 SFF, a PC Gamer's Console Alternative 154

MojoKid writes "Dell recently introduced their Alienware X51 series of small form factor gaming PCs but until now, squeezing in components that were powerful enough for the enthusiast gamer was a significant thermal challenge. Intel's recent Haswell Core processor release, as well as NVIDIA's GeForce 670 series graphics cards have changed the game considerably though. The X51 R2 is shaped similar to to an Xbox 360 Slim, and though it's slightly larger, it would be right at home in a living room setting. Alienware is also bundling Steam Big Picture mode installations with systems as well. Performance-wise, with its latest CPU and GPU upgrades, the system is over twice as fast as the first generation X51, again thanks to Haswell and upgraded NVIDIA GeForce graphics. The console-sized PC is capable of running virtually any current gen DX11 title at full 1920X1080 HD resolution and high image quality settings."

World's Smallest Dual-Core ARM Cortex-A9 Module? 42

DeviceGuru writes "Variscite has unveiled what it claims is the world's tiniest Cortex-A9 system-on-module, measuring 52 x 17mm. The Linux- and Android-compatible DART-4460 board is based on a 1.5GHz dual-core TI OMAP4460 SoC, is available with up to 1GB of DDR2 RAM and 8GB eMMC flash, and can run at 400MHz on just 44mA. The module provides interfaces for display (HDMI, RGB, DSI), wireless (Bluetooth, WiFi), audio, camera, USB, and more, and it consumes as little as 5mA in suspend and 44mA while running from a 3.7V battery at 400 MHz, according to Variscite. And in case you were wondering, the iconic Gumstix form-factor is 12 percent larger, at 58 x 17mm."

Intel Removes "Free" Overclocking From Standard Haswell CPUs 339

crookedvulture writes "With its Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors, Intel allowed standard Core i5 and i7 CPUs to be overclocked by up to 400MHz using Turbo multipliers. Reaching for higher speeds required pricier K-series chips, but everyone got access to a little "free" clock headroom. Haswell isn't quite so accommodating. Intel has disabled limited multiplier control for non-K CPUs, effectively limiting overclocking to the Core i7-4770K and i5-4670K. Those chips cost $20-30 more than their standard counterparts, and surprisingly, they're missing a few features. The K-series parts lack the support for transactional memory extensions and VT-d device virtualization included with standard Haswell CPUs. PC enthusiasts now have to choose between overclocking and support for certain features even when purchasing premium Intel processors. AMD also has overclocking-friendly K-series parts, but it offers more models at lower prices, and it doesn't remove features available on standard CPUs."
Data Storage

SSDs: The New King of the Data Center? 172

Nerval's Lobster writes "Flash storage is more common on mobile devices than data-center hardware, but that could soon change. The industry has seen increasing sales of solid-state drives (SSDs) as a replacement for traditional hard drives, according to IHS iSuppli Research. Nearly all of these have been sold for ultrabooks, laptops and other mobile devices that can benefit from a combination of low energy use and high-powered performance. Despite that, businesses have lagged the consumer market in adoption of SSDs, largely due to the format's comparatively small size, high cost and the concerns of datacenter managers about long-term stability and comparatively high failure rates. But that's changing quickly, according to market researchers IDC and Gartner: Datacenter- and enterprise-storage managers are buying SSDs in greater numbers for both server-attached storage and mainstream storage infrastructure, according to studies both research firms published in April. That doesn't mean SSDs will oust hard drives and replace them directly in existing systems, but it does raise a question: are SSDs mature enough (and cheap enough) to support business-sized workloads? Or are they still best suited for laptops and mobile devices?"

Computer Memory Can Be Read With a Flash of Light 69

ananyo writes "A new kind of computer memory can be read 10,000 times faster than flash memory using pulses of light, taking advantage of principles used in solar panel design. Researchers built the prototype device using bismuth ferrite. In conventional computer memory, information is stored in cells that hold different amounts of electric charge, each representing a binary '1' or '0.' Bismuth ferrite, by contrast, and can represent those binary digits, or bits, as one of two polarization states, and, because of its photovoltaic properties, can switch between these states in response to visible light."

Half a Billion PCs To Ship In 2013, As Desktops and Laptops Dip But Tablets Grow 223

An anonymous reader writes "The PC market (desktops, notebooks, and tablets) is expected to see almost half a billion units ship this year, 493.1 million to be exact, representing 7 percent year-on-year growth. Unsurprisingly, the key driver behind this growth will be tablets, accounting for 37 percent of the overall market and seeing 59 percent growth to 182.5 million units. The latest estimates come from Canalys, an independent analyst firm. Nevertheless, it's worth emphasizing that these are estimates, though they do line up with what the broader industry is seeing: desktops are down, laptops are down, but tablets are up."
Data Storage

Will PCIe Flash Become Common In Laptops, Desktops? 372

Lucas123 writes "With Apple announcing that it is now using PCIe flash in its MacBook Air and it has plans to offer it in its Mac Pro later this year, some are speculating that the high-speed peripheral interface may become the standard for higher-end consumer laptops and workplace systems. 'It's coming,' said Joseph Unsworth, research vice president for NAND Flash & SSD at Gartner. The Mac Pro with PCIe flash is expected to exceed 1GB/sec throughput, twice the speed of SATA III SSDs. Apple claims the new MacBook Mini got a 45% performance boost from its PCIe flash. AnandTech has the Air clocked in at 800MB/s. Next year, Intel and Plextor are expected to begin shipping PCIe cards based on the new NGFF specification. Plextor's NGFF SSD measures just 22mm by 44mm in size and connects to a computer's motherboard through a PCIe 2.0 x2 interface. Those cards are smaller than today's half-height expansion cards and offer 770MB/s read and 550MB/s write speeds."

AMD Making a 5 GHz 8-Core Processor At 220 Watts 271

Vigile writes "It looks like the rumors were true; AMD is going to be selling an FX-9590 processor this month that will hit frequencies as high as 5 GHz. Though originally thought to be an 8-module/16-core part, it turns out that the new CPU will have the same 4-module/8-core design that is found on the current lineup of FX-series processors including the FX-8350. But, with an increase of the maximum Turbo Core speed from 4.2 GHz to 5.0 GHz, the new parts will draw quite a bit more power. You can expect the the FX-9590 to need 220 watts or so to run at those speeds and a pretty hefty cooling solution as well. Performance should closely match the recently released Intel Core i7-4770K Haswell processor so AMD users that can handle the 2.5x increase in power consumption can finally claim performance parity."
Operating Systems

XP's End Will Do More For PC Sales Than Win 8, Says HP Exec 438

dcblogs writes "Hewlett-Packard executives say that the coming demise of Windows XP next year may do what Windows 8 could not, and that's boost PC sales significantly. 'We think this will bring a big opportunity for HP,' said Enrique Lore, senior vice president and general manager of HP's business PCs. Lore was asked, in a later interview, whether the demand for XP replacement systems could help sales more than Windows 8. His response was unequivocal: 'Yes, significantly more, especially on the commercial side,' he said. Lore said 40% to 50% of business users remain on XP systems."

Sony's PS4 To Have Less Stringent DRM Than Microsoft's Xbox One 509

Tackhead writes "E3 is turning into Bizarro World this year. Sony has not only promised that the PS4 will support used games without an online connection, they trolled the Xbox folks hard with this Official PlayStation Used Game Instructional Video. Compounding the silliness, and hot on the heels of the political firestorm surrounding Donglegate, Microsoft went for rape jokes during their Xbox presentation." Similarly, onyxruby writes "The Verge covers how Sony has crafted policies explicitly to make the PS4 consumer friendly to the public. They make the case that the PS4 will be superior in nearly every way [to the Xbox Next] by not requiring an Internet connection, not restricting used games, supporting indie developers and selling for $100 cheaper than the Xbox One." And if you're interested in the guts rather than the policies or the politics, Hot Hardware has a comparison of the internals of both of these new offerings.
Internet Explorer

Microsoft Boasts of Tiny Energy Saving With IE 243

judgecorp writes "Microsoft has sponsored research that indicates that its Internet Explorer browser uses less power than the competition, Firefox and Google (there's no explanation of what causes the difference). However, the difference in power use is not really significant — it's about one Watt when browsing. Browsing for 20 hours at this rate, the IE user would save enough power to make a cup of tea, compared with Firefox and Chrome users. That Microsoft commissioned and published the report seems to indicate a certain desperation to Microsoft's IE marketing efforts."

India To Develop Military Robots For Warfare 169

WoodenKnight writes "Indian DRDO chief Avinash Chander has told reporters that development of robotic soldiers would be one of his 'priority thrust areas', saying that 'unmanned warfare in land and air is the future of warfare.' He foresees robotic soldiers assisting human soldiers initially but, he hinted at forward-position deployment of such robots. He gave a timeline of at least a decade for the project to see any practical use but said a number of labs in India are now working on this."

Decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Plant May Take Decades 266

gkndivebum writes "Southern California Edison has elected to decommission the San Onofre nuclear plant after a failed effort to upgrade the steam generation system. 'Nuclear economics' is the reason stated for the proposed decommissioning. Other utilities operating nuclear power plants in the US likely face similar decisions when it comes to weighing the costs of upgrading older facilities. Allowing the reactors to remain in 'safe storage' for a period of up to 60 years will allow for radioactive decay and lower radiation exposure for the workers performing the demolition."

Dell's New X18: 5 Pounds, 18 Inches 138

MojoKid writes "Dell recently combined two trending PC design styles into a single system and called it the XPS 18 Portable All-In-One Desktop. The machine has all the power of an AIO desktop system and some of the portability of a tablet. To be clear, Dell isn't suggesting you'll want to tote this thing across town in ways that you might use an iPad. It's portable in that you can snatch up the 18.4-inch Full HD display from your home office and take it to the living room to switch gears from Google Docs to gaming with the kids, or take it upstairs for some late night surfing before bed. ... The main attraction, however, is that the PC itself is a portable display featuring an 18.4-inch IPS panel with a 1920x1080 resolution and full touch support. Performance-wise the XPS 18 holds its own versus mainstream all-in-one touch PCs, but with added ability to pick the 5 pound system up go virtually anywhere with it on a moment's notice."
Operating Systems

FreeBSD 8.4 Released 80

kthreadd writes "The FreeBSD project has released version 8.4 of the free operating system with the same name. Highlights of this version include GNOME 2.32.1, KDE 4.10.1. In this release, focus has been put on improving stability and storage capability. The ZFS filesystem has been updated to support feature flags for ZFS pools, asynchronous destruction of ZFS datasets, LZ4 compression and ZIO NOP-write optimization. Also, support has been added for all shipping LSI storage controllers."