An anonymous reader writes "AllThingsD columnist Arik Hesseldahl noticed another milestone marking the passing of the personal computer era: for the first time since the early '80s, the share of worldwide sales of DRAM chips consumed by PCs (desktop and laptop computers, but not tablets) has dropped below fifty percent. Perhaps a more important milestone was reached last year, when more smartphones were shipped (not sold) worldwide than the combined total of PCs and tablets (also noticed by Microsoft watcher Joe Wilcox). While this is certainly of tremendous marketing and business importance to the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Google, Adobe, and PC OEMs, others may reflect on the impending closing of the history books on the era that started in Silicon Valley a little over 35 years ago."
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Bruce Perens writes "Clover Trail, Intel's newly announced 'Linux proof' processor, is already a dead end for technical and business reasons. Clover Trail is said to include power-management that will make the Atom run longer under Windows. It had better, since Atom currently provides about 1/4 of the power efficiency of the ARM processors that run iOS and Android devices. The details of Clover Trail's power management won't be disclosed to Linux developers. Power management isn't magic, though — there is no great secret about shutting down hardware that isn't being used. Other CPU manufacturers, and Intel itself, will provide similar power management to Linux on later chips. Why has Atom lagged so far behind ARM? Simply because ARM requires fewer transistors to do the same job. Atom and most of Intel's line are based on the ia32 architecture. ia32 dates back to the 1970s and is the last bastion of CISC, Complex Instruction Set Computing. ARM and all later architectures are based on RISC, Reduced Instruction Set Computing, which provides very simple instructions that run fast. RISC chips allow the language compilers to perform complex tasks by combining instructions, rather than by selecting a single complex instruction that's 'perfect' for the task. As it happens, compilers are more likely to get optimal performance with a number of RISC instructions than with a few big instructions that are over-generalized or don't do exactly what the compiler requires. RISC instructions are much more likely to run in a single processor cycle than complex ones. So, ARM ends up being several times more efficient than Intel."
Lucas123 writes "Intel for the first time demonstrated the Wireless Gigabit (WiGig) docking specification using an Ultrabook, which was able to achieve 7Gbps performance, ten times the fastest Wi-Fi networks based on the IEEE 802.11n standard. The WiGig medium access control (MAC) and physical (PHY) control specification operates in the unlicensed 60GHz frequency band, which has more spectrum available than the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands used by existing Wi-Fi products. According to Ali Sadri, chairman of the WiGig Alliance, the specification also supports wireless implementations of HDMI and DisplayPort interfaces, as well as the High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) scheme used to protect digital content transmitted over those interfaces. It scales to allow transmission of both compressed and uncompressed video."
theodp writes "When it comes to Google's futuristic Glass goggles, people seem to fall into two camps. On the one hand, you have people like NY Times Arts critic Mike Hale, who goes gaga over how fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg put Google glasses on models who walked in her recent Fashion Week show, enabling them to capture video from their point of view as they walked the runway. 'For a preview of how we all may be making movies in a few years,' Hale breathlessly writes, 'take a look at DVF Through Glass .' On the other hand, you have folks like NY Times commenter JokerDanny, who says he's seen this Google Glass movie before. 'David Letterman used to call this Monkey-Cam,' quips JD, referring to the mid-1980's Late Night bits in which Letterman mounted a camera on Zippy the Chimp, enabling the monkey to capture video from his point of view as he roamed the studio. Thanks to the magic of YouTube Doubler, here's a head-to-head comparison of POV video shot by Zippy in 1986 — the year Larry Page and Sergey Brin celebrated their 13th birthdays — to that taken by a DVF model in 2012."
necro81 writes "IEEE Spectrum magazine has a feature article describing DARPA-funded work towards developing a solar cell that's 50% efficient, for a finished module that's 40% efficient — suitable for charging a soldier's gadgets in the field. Conventional silicon and thin-film PV tech can hit cell efficiencies of upwards of 20%, with finished modules hovering in the teens. Triple-junction cells can top 40%, but are expensive to produce and not practical in most applications. Current work by the Very High Efficiency Solar Cell program uses optics (dichroic films) to concentrate incoming sunlight by 20-200x, and split it into constituent spectra, which fall on many small solar cells of different chemistries, each tuned to maximize the conversion of different wavelengths."
mdsolar writes "Reuters reports that the Japanese government said it 'intends to stop using nuclear power by the 2030s, marking a major shift from policy goals set before last year's Fukushima disaster that sought to increase the share of atomic energy to more than half of electricity supply. Japan joins countries such as Germany and Switzerland in turning away from nuclear power ... Japan was the third-biggest user of atomic energy before the disaster. In abandoning atomic power, Japan aims to triple the share of renewable power to 30 percent of its energy mix, but will remain a top importer of oil, coal and gas for the foreseeable future. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's unpopular government, which could face an election this year, had faced intense lobbying from industries to maintain atomic energy and also concerns from its major ally, the United States, which supplied it with nuclear technology in the 1950s.' Meanwhile, the U.S. nuclear renaissance appears to be unraveling."
New submitter notscientific writes "Renewable sources of energy are obviously a hit but they have as yet failed to live up to the hype. A new study in Nature Climate Change shows however that there is more than enough power to be harnessed from the wind to sustain Earth's entire population... x200! To generate energy from the wind, we may however need to set up wind farms at altitudes of 200-20,000 metres. To be fair, the study is purely theoretical and does not look at the feasibility of such potential wind farms. Regardless, the paper does provide a major boost to backers of wind-generated energy. Science has confirmed that the sky's the limit."
jfruh writes "Every time a company rolls out a new version of a product, it extols how much better it is than the previous version. Thus, Apple spent a part of its iPhone 5 rollout touting the staying power of the latest version of its battery. But have iPhone batteries really seen improvement since the original came out in '07? Kevin Purdy crunches the numbers and concludes that, while the 5's battery beats the 4S's, we still haven't returned to the capabilities of the original phone."
MrSeb writes "Intel often uses the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) as a platform to discuss its long-term vision for computing as well as more practical business initiatives. This year, the company has discussed the shrinking energy cost of computation as well as a point when it believes the energy required for 'meaningful computing' will approach zero and become ubiquitous by the year 2020. The idea that we could push the energy cost of computing down to nearly immeasurable levels is exciting. It's the type of innovation that's needed to drive products like Google Glass or VR headsets like the Oculus Rift. Unfortunately, Intel's slide neatly sidesteps the greatest problems facing such innovations — the cost of computing already accounts for less than half the total energy expenditure of a smartphone or other handheld device. Yes, meaningful compute might approach zero energy — but touchscreens, displays, radios, speakers, cameras, audio processors, and other parts of the equation are all a long way away from being as advanced as Intel's semiconductor processes."
Lucas123 writes "Western Digital subsidiary HGST today announced that after 10 years of development it is preparing to release 3.5-in data center-class HDDs that are hermetically sealed with helium inside. The helium reduces drag and wind turbulence created by the spinning platters, all but eliminating track misregistration that has become a major issue to increasing drive density in recent years. Because of that, HGST will be able to add two more platters along with increasing the tracks per inch, which results in a 40% capacity increase. The drives will also use 23% less power because of the reduction of friction on the spindle. HGST said the new seven-platter helium drives will weigh 29% less per terabyte of capacity that today's five-platter drives. In other words, a seven-platter helium disk will weigh 690 grams, the same as today's five-platter drives."
Razgorov Prikazka writes "There is a lot of technology involved in sailing these days. EPIRB, FHV-DSC, GPS, NAVTEX, Inmarsat, fishfinders/depth sounders, different kinds of radar (with MARPA or ATA) — you name it and there are dozens of manufacturers out there willing to provide, all of them with a range of different products. Right now I am planning a 'round-the-world-trip,'' and my ship (an 18-meter Skerry Cruiser sailing yacht) is in its early construction phase, so I need to shop for some hi-tech gear and, basically, I got lost in all the possibilities. What kind of hardware would you recommend as necessary for a trip of this kind? What would you have installed in your ship in order to have a safe trip?"
YokimaSun writes "Nintendo has revealed the release date of the Wii U: in Japan it will launch on the 8th December, and in the U.S. it will launch on November 18th. The console will ship in two versions: a basic version with 8GB of internal memory and a Deluxe version that has 32GB of internal memory and comes with a stand and docks. Both versions have 1GB of main memory and as much again for game memory. Nintendo claims the console is 20 times more powerful than the Wii and supports 1080p visuals out the box. It comes with an HDMI cable. All existing Wii accessories will work with the Wii U, but the new Tablet Gamepad will set you back around £100/$173 when you convert yen over. The price of the Deluxe SKU is $350." Here's a list of launch titles.
An anonymous reader writes "Ten years since the debut of the Roomba vacuum cleaner and military PackBot, robots are mainstream but still not in every home. Meanwhile, a new generation of robotics companies is taking off. Where does that leave iRobot, the godfather of the field? With its military business taking a hit from the U.S. defense budget, the 22-year-old public company is looking to reinvent itself with new kinds of robots, including a telepresence machine for doctors and hospitals and, further down the road, inflatable robots that could be cheaper, safer, and more portable than their metallic predecessors. The question is whether these new machines will be successful enough to keep the company growing — and add to its legacy in robotics."
Esther Schindler writes "When Star Trek hit the air waves, talking computers were just a pipe dream. While teleportation remains elusive, several once-fictional technologies are changing the way people live and work. Here are some ways in which we're approaching the gizmos that Star Trek demonstrated. Speech recognition? Check. Holodeck? Sort of. Replicator? Workin' on it."
Mackadoodledoo writes "Details of an immersive video games display system that projects images of the title's environment around a player's room have been revealed in a U.S. patent belonging to Microsoft."