sfcrazy writes "Nvidia just announced Tegra K1, its first 192-core processor. NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang made the announcement at CES 2014. He also said that Android will be the most important platform for gaming consoles. 'Why wouldn't you want to be open, connected to your TV and have access to your photos, music, gaming. It's just a matter of time before Android disrupts game consoles,' said Huang." Nvidia's marketing department created a crop circle to promote the chip after CEO Jen Hsun Huang declared that it was so advanced that "it's practically built by aliens."
New submitter asliarun writes "David Kanter of Realworldtech recently posted his take on Intel's upcoming Knights Landing chip. The technical specs are massive, showing Intel's new-found focus on throughput processing (and possibly graphics). 72 Silvermont cores with beefy FP and vector units, mesh fabric with tile based architecture, DDR4 support with a 384-bit memory controller, QPI connectivity instead of PCIe, and 16GB on-package eDRAM (yes, 16GB). All this should ensure throughput of 3 teraflop/s double precision. Many of the architectural elements would also be the same as Intel's future CPU chips — so this is also a peek into Intel's vision of the future. Will Intel use this as a platform to compete with nVidia and AMD/ATI on graphics? Or will this be another Larrabee? Or just an exotic HPC product like Knights Corner?"
sfcrazy writes "YouTube will demonstrate 4K videos at the upcoming CES. That's not the best news, the best part of this story is that Google will do it using it's own open sourced VP9 technology. Google acquired the technology from O2 and open sourced it. Google started offering the codec on royalty free basis to vendors to boost adoption. Google has also learned the hardware partnership game and has already roped in hardware partners to use and showcase VP9 at CES. According to reports LG (the latest Nexus maker), Panasonic and Sony will be demonstrating 4K YouTube using VP9 at the event. Google today announced that all leading hardware vendors will start supporting the royalty-free VP9 codecs. These hardware vendors include major names like ARM, Broadcom, Intel, LG, Marvell, MediaTek, Nvidia, Panasonic, Philips, Qualcomm, RealTek, Samsung, Sigma, Sharp, Sony and Toshiba."
An anonymous reader writes "Over the past several years, we've had a spate of new input methods for playing video games. Instead of just pushing buttons, now we can wave body parts around, yell at the screen, or even (weakly) control things with our thoughts. Now, we're adding an eye-tracking sensor bar. It's being created by SteelSeries, but it's based on tech from a Swedish company called Tobii, who built similar tech for cars. 'Inside the device there are two cameras and an infrared light source. The infrared light reflects off your pupil and cornea, which is then captured by the two camera sensors. Throw in a healthy serving of Tobii's proprietary image processing algorithms, and a physiological 3D model of the eye, and you can work out the position of the eye and the direction of the gaze with high accuracy. Tobii doesn't seem to put an exact figure on the resolution/accuracy, merely saying that "within less than a centimeter" is possible.' Of course, the biggest question will be how well it works, but it seems like it could be a useful supplement to normal control schemes. I can see how it would be nice to simply flick your eyes to an icon to do something, or to make it easier to dig through your in-game inventory."
Lucas123 writes "Ford plans to demonstrate its first solar-powered hybrid vehicle at CES next week. The Ford CMAX Solar Energi Concept car will have 1.5 square meters of solar photovoltaic cells on its roof to generate power to charge its battery. By themselves, the PV solar panels generate only 300W of power — not enough to charge the vehicle's battery in one day. Ford, however, said the car will be coupled with a carport that has solar concentrating lens atop it. The magnifying lens, called a Fresnel lens, will concentrate about 10 times the solar energy so the vehicle can be recharged in a single day — the same speed with which a standard hybrid charges using a plug." (Of course, some charge faster than others.)
When I first tried on an early Google Glass headset, I had to take off my glasses -- that made the Glass display usable, but made the rest of the room a blurry mess. When I asked the engineers and designers about this, I got mostly shrugs in return. But now, writes reader rjmarvin, "Google Glass users sporting the eyewear will soon be able to do so with a prescription for $99. Eyeglass manufacturer Rochester Optical will offer prescription options in differents colors and styles, even allowing Glass users to trick out their eyewear with transitions or tinted lenses. They're currently conducting a survey to gauge consumer interest and preference." I look forward to the day that online glasses sources like Zenni Optical have have even cheaper options for wearable computing integration, but Rochester's projected starting price is lower than I would have guessed.
malachiorion writes "From Google's emergence as a robotics giant to Gypsy Danger's emergence as a giant robot (we can root for), here's my attempt to round up the biggest trends in robotics in 2013. These trends are by no means comprehensive or ranked, but feel free to add your own picks for the year's biggest bot-related breakthroughs and setbacks."
An anonymous reader writes "A law professor says the U.S. could fall behind in the robotics race if we don't change product liability law. A new op-ed over at Mashable expands upon this: Yet for all its momentum, robotics is at a crossroads. The industry faces a choice — one that you see again and again with transformative technologies. Will this technology essentially be closed, or will it be open? ... What does it mean for robotics to be closed? Resembling any contemporary appliance, they are designed to perform a set task. They run proprietary software and are no more amenable to casual tinkering than a dishwasher. Open robots are just the opposite. By definition, they invite contribution. It has no predetermined function, runs third-party or even open-source software, and can be physically altered and extended without compromising performance. Consumer robotics started off closed, which helps to explain why it has moved so slowly."
MojoKid writes "NVIDIA officially took the wraps off of its Tegra Note mobile platform a few weeks back. If you're unfamiliar with the Tegra Note, it's a 7", Android-based tablet, powered by NVIDIA's Tegra 4 SoC. The Tegra Note 7 also marks NVIDIA's second foray into the consumer electronics market, with an in-house designed product; NVIDIA's SHIELD Android gaming device was the first out of the gate earlier this year. Though Tegra Note 7 on the surface may appear to be just another 7-inch slate, sporting a 1280X720 display, it does have NVIDIA's proprietary passive stylus technology on board, very good sounding speakers and an always on HDR camera. It's also one of the fastest Android tablets on the market currently, in the benchmarks. Unlike in NVIDIA's SHIELD device, the Tegra 4 SoC is passively cooled in Tegra Note 7 and is crammed into a thin and light 7" tablet form factor. As a result, the SoC can't hit peak frequencies quite as high as the SHIELD (1.8GHz vs. 1.9GHz), but that didn't hold the Tegra Note 7 back very much. In a few of the CPU-centric and system level tests, the Tegra Note 7 finished at or near the head of the pack, and in the graphics benchmarks, its 72-core GeForce GPU competed very well, and often allowed the $199 Tegra Note 7 to outpace much more expensive devices."
DeviceGuru writes "A Russian startup called Virt2real has produced a small $120 Linux-based WiFi controller board for remote control and video observation applications, and has demonstrated its use in a remote controlled car. Inspired by Back to the Future and James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, Virt2real's Bond Car demo (YouTube video) shows a Vauxhall (Opel) Vectra being remotely controlled by an iPad via WiFi. The iPad interface includes touchscreen-based steering wheel, brakes, and accelerator, which are mirrored in the car by a mechanical contraption that physically turns the steering wheel and pushes the brake and accelerator pedals. The company is now accepting orders for the first 1,000 of its Virt2real controller board, and is working on a Virt2real-based Bond Car it that will work with most cars."
iFixit has posted a teardown of Apple's new soda-can-shaped Mac Pro. Despite the unusual form factor, it earned a relatively high repairability score: 8/10. iFixit said, "For being so compact, the design is surprisingly modular and easy to disassemble. Non-proprietary Torx screws are used throughout, and several components can be replaced independently." They say it's easy to access the fan and the RAM slots, and while the CPU is buried a bit more deeply, it's still user-replaceable. The Mac Pro doesn't get higher than an 8 because its uses some proprietary connectors and the cable routing is cramped. They add, "There is no room, or available port, for adding your own internal storage. Apple has addressed this with heaps of Thunderbolt, but we'd personally rather use the more widely compatible SATA if we could."
Bennett Haselton writes with four big tips for anyone blessed by the holiday buying frenzy with a new laptop; in particular, these are tips to pass on to non-techie relatives and others who are unlikely to put (say) "Install a Free operating system" at the very top of the list: Here's Bennett's advice, in short: (1) If you don't want to pay for an anti-virus program, at least install a free one. (2) Save files to a folder that is automatically mirrored to the cloud, for effortless backups. (3) Create a non-administrator guest account, in case a friend needs to borrow the computer. (4) Be aware of your computer's System Restore option as a way of fixing mysterious problems that arose recently." Read on for the expanded version; worth keeping in mind before your next friends-and-family tech support call.
quax writes "Slashdot first reported on the Canadian start-up company that is attempting piston powered nuclear fusion back in 2009. This new blog post takes a look at where they are now, and gives some additional behind the scene info. For instance, a massive experimental rig for magnetized target fusion in the US is currently underutilized, because ITER's increasing costs absorb all the public fusion research funding. Because this Shiva Star device is located in an Air Force base, security restrictions prevent any meaningful cooperation with a non-U.S. companies. Even if U.S. researchers would love to rent this out to advance the science of magnetized target fusion, restrictions make this is a no go."
theodp writes "Perhaps people are reading too much into Apple CEO Tim Cook's 'Big Plans' for 2014, but hopes are high that the New Year will bring a biggie-sized iPad. Over at Forbes, Anthony Wing Kosner asks, Will The Large Screen iPad Pro Be Apple's First In A Line Of Desktop Touch Devices?. 'Rumors of a large [12.9"] iPad are many and constant,' notes ComputerWorld's Mike Elgan, 'but they make sense only if the tablet is a desktop for schools.' Elgan adds, 'Lots of schools are buying iPads for kids to use. But iPads don't make a lot of sense for education. For starters, their screens are too small for the kinds of interactive textbooks and apps that Apple wants the education market to create. They're also too small for collaborative work. iPads run mobile browsers, rather than full browsers, so kids can't use the full range of HTML5 sites.' Saying that 'Microsoft has fumbled the [post-PC] transition badly,' Elgan argues that 'the battle for the future of education is likely to be between whatever Google turns the Chromebook into against whatever Apple turns the iPad into.'"
Chromebooks, and ChromeOS have come a long way, and this year two of the best selling laptops at Amazon are Chromebooks. Computerworld calls it a punch in the gut for Microsoft. "As of late Thursday, the trio retained their lock on the top three places on Amazon's best-selling-laptop list in the order of Acer, Samsung and Asus. Another Acer Chromebook, one that sports 32GB of on-board storage space -- double the 16GB of Acer's lower-priced model -- held the No. 7 spot on the retailer's top 10. Chromebooks' holiday success at Amazon was duplicated elsewhere during the year, according to the NPD Group, which tracked U.S. PC sales to commercial buyers such as businesses, schools, government and other organizations. ... By NPD's tallies, Chromebooks accounted for 21% of all U.S. commercial notebook sales in 2013 through November, and 10% of all computers and tablets. Both shares were up massively from 2012; last year, Chromebooks accounted for an almost-invisible two-tenths of one percent of all computer and tablet sales."
An anonymous reader writes with a link to Der Spiegel, which describes a Top-Secret spy-agency catalog which reveals that the NSA "has been secretly back dooring equipment from US companies including Dell, Cisco, Juniper, IBM, Western Digital, Seagate, Maxtor and more, risking enormous damage to US tech sector." Der Spiegel also has a wider ranging article about the agency's Tailored Access Operations unit.
Lasrick writes "Interesting piece about April's physical attack on a power station near San Jose, California, that now looks like a dress rehearsal for future attacks: Quote: 'When U.S. officials warn about "attacks" on electric power facilities these days, the first thing that comes to mind is probably a computer hacker trying to shut the lights off in a city with malware. But a more traditional attack on a power station in California has U.S. officials puzzled and worried about the physical security of the the electrical grid--from attackers who come in with guns blazing.'"
lkcl writes "After the reports on SSD reliability and after experiencing a costly 50% failure rate on over 200 remote-deployed OCZ Vertex SSDs, a degree of paranoia set in where I work. I was asked to carry out SSD analysis with some very specific criteria: budget below £100, size greater than 16Gbytes and Power-loss protection mandatory. This was almost an impossible task: after months of searching the shortlist was very short indeed. There was only one drive that survived the torturing: the Intel S3500. After more than 6,500 power-cycles over several days of heavy sustained random writes, not a single byte of data was lost. Crucial M4: failed. Toshiba THNSNH060GCS: failed. Innodisk 3MP SATA Slim: failed. OCZ: failed hard. Only the end-of-lifed Intel 320 and its newer replacement, the S3500, survived unscathed. The conclusion: if you care about data even when power could be unreliable, only buy Intel SSDs." Relatedly, don't expect SSDs to become cheaper than HDDs any time soon.
zacharye writes "The new Mac Pro is the most powerful and flexible computer Apple has ever created, and it's also extremely expensive — or is it? With a price tag that can climb up around $10,000, Apple's latest enterprise workhorse clearly isn't cheap. For businesses with a need for all that muscle, however, is that steep price justifiable or is there a premium 'Apple tax' that companies will have to pay? Shortly after the new Mac Pro was finally made available for purchase last week, one PC enthusiast set out to answer that question and in order to do so, he asked another one: How much would it cost to build a comparable Windows 8 machine?"
JoeyRox writes "The exponential growth of rooftop solar adoption has utilities concerned about their financial future. Efficiency gains and cost reductions has brought the price of solar energy to within parity of traditional power generation in states like California and Hawaii. HECO, an electric utility in Hawaii, has started notifying new solar adopters that they will not be allowed to connect to the utility's power grid, citing safety concerns of electric circuits becoming oversaturated from the rapid adoption of solar power on the island. Residents claim it's not about safety but about the utility fighting to protect its profits." We mentioned earlier the connection fee recently approved in Arizona. Do you have a solar system? If not (or if so, for that matter), does this make you think twice about it?