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Handhelds Portables Hardware

Small Supercomputer, XPC, Notebook, and Gaming Thingy 142

Posted by jamie
from the four-in-one dept.
kidgenius, SpinnerBait, and anonymous readers wrote in with four fun tales of small devices doing cool things. IBM has built a supercomputer the size of a TV, using 1000 PPC-based CPUs. Shuttle recently began shipping their AMD Athlon 64 based XPC, the size of a breadbox. Sony has a new 0.4" thick VAIO notebook (scroll down). And a European company is about to introduce the Gametrac, a handheld WinCE gaming gadget with 3D, Bluetooth, SMS, MP3 playback, MPEG4 video playback, camera, and -- interestingly -- GPS tracking. "The system allows the parents to establish 'fences,' which, when entered by the child, cause a notification to be sent to the parents in the form of either an SMS message or an email." Hmmm.
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Small Supercomputer, XPC, Notebook, and Gaming Thingy

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  • The iCube was WAY smaller then this new IBM system. And Apple wouldn't lie about the iCube being a super computer now would they?
  • GPS tracking (Score:3, Insightful)

    by El (94934) on Friday November 14, 2003 @06:47PM (#7477559)
    "Alarm is sent to parents when device is carried outside of prescribed zone." Uh, won't that simply teach children to set the device down before wandering off?
    • "Alarm is sent to parents when device is carried outside of prescribed zone." Uh, won't that simply teach children to set the device down before wandering off?

      I can just hear my parents:
      I wonder why Joe has been hanging around the vicinity of those airport lockers for over a week now?
    • by product byproduct (628318) on Friday November 14, 2003 @06:56PM (#7477618)
      Yes, smart children will set the device down, but *geek* children will wrap the device in tin-foil and continue to play with it.
    • "Alarm is sent to parents when device is carried outside of prescribed zone." Uh, won't that simply teach children to set the device down before wandering off?

      I don't care what it teaches kids, as long as my "Big Brother" doesn't give me one of these things for my birthday or otherwise force me to carry it around.

      Now, where did I leave my tinfoil hat?

    • yes, but what happens when mommy tries to call you and asks you why you didn't pick up. Mommy gives you a cell phone, but only so that they can call you to see what you are doing every 5 min.
      • Re:GPS tracking (Score:3, Interesting)

        by El (94934)
        Uh... call forwarding to a disposable cell phone? Of course, if you call mommy back, and she checks the caller id, you're screwed. By the way, the article never says this device encorporates a cell phone, although it does support SMS messaging, which is strange -- if you've already got the transmitter and receiver for SMS, isn't adding cell capability pretty cheap?
      • What about just leaving your cell off, thats what I have always done.
    • No. When the child goes outside of the vicinity, a randomly selected partner child's head will then explode along with the offender after the GPS counts down 15 seconds. This creates a system of cooperative security, and it keeps these thugs under control.
  • vaio not so thin (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    once again the battery is the limiting factor -- but this time not for uptime, but because it is 0.8" thick. :P
    • by mikehoskins (177074) on Friday November 14, 2003 @07:02PM (#7477672)
      "...the size of a TV..."
      "...the size of a breadbox..."
      "...notebook..."


      I know exactly what the size of TVs, breadboxes, and notebooks are! Good thing were talking about precise, scientific dimensions here -- unlike NASA's problem with converting standard to metric.... :-)

      Was that a 13" black and white or a 57" HDTV rear projection supercomputer?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Was that a 13" black and white or a 57" HDTV rear projection supercomputer?

        The breadbox was a WinnaBagel 9000, with fold-out dinette and a tow-bar for your SUV.
      • Actually, I was under the impression that metric was supposed to be standard, and Imperial was hanging on because of, for example, the completely feet 'n' inches American construction industry. I am not blameless here, since I use Imperial units exclusively in construction, so I will do penance: for metric people, the notebook is 1 cm thick. The metric to imperial conversion was rounded from 0.393700787 inches. Whoof, I'm exhausted.
  • allows parents. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by happyfrogcow (708359) on Friday November 14, 2003 @06:48PM (#7477565)
    it's one thing to be pissed about a government tracking you, but if parents want to track their children, so be it. don't make it sound so big brotherly.

    however, i don't think it would be good parenting (though, really.. who am i to judge) to use tracking like this as a first, second, or even third option. a little trust goes a long way.
    • Re:allows parents. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by freeweed (309734)
      But that's precisely where the term "Big Brother" came from in the first place. Orwell wanted something that sounded warm and friendly (family, someone who looks out for your well being), but taken to the illogical extreme.

      To me, the term fits today's paranoid parent perfectly.

      And to all of those who will reply "they're my kids, I can do what I please with 'em" and "wait till you have kids and you realize just how hard it is to keep them out of trouble"?

      These are the exact same arguments I heard growing
      • Amazing how technology allows parents to surrender the responsibilities of childcare to a metal and plastic surrogate, ain't it?

        I'd be surprised, but I have to watch TV first.
      • These are the exact same arguments I heard growing up when beating your kids became child abus

        What about the part where beating your kids is illegal? minior detail you missed there bub
      • "These are the exact same arguments I heard growing up when beating your kids became child abuse. However will we discipline little Johnny if we can't give him a good whuppin? Well, sometimes abuse isn't just physical."

        beating your kids != knowing where your kids are

        In a day and age where kids are walking into schools and killing classmates I don't think that allowing parents to know where their kids are at all times is too much to ask.

        • In a day and age where kids are walking into schools and killing classmates I don't think that allowing parents to know where their kids are at all times is too much to ask.

          So you want to raise an alarm if your kid goes to a school?

    • Re:allows parents. (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      As a parent of a 4 year old, I would put a gps tracker on his person if it was available and not too inconvienent. Now, I don't think I'd keep it on him during his teen years (to whom this product is aimed), but I'm not the parent of a teen so I can't really say. Maybe by that time, I would welcome such a device. If some parent doesn't want to use it, then don't. If some parent does want to use it, that is their choice and I doubt they will consult /. before buying one.

      As far as the government trackin
    • I don't know if that's even the intended purpose. Think kidnapping and similar. If the kidnappers are stupid the police might be able to track them right to where they've got the kid; if they're smarter, then maybe they will take the kid outside the "fence" before they get rid of the computer. That could get the authorities looking hours before they might otherwise begin to suspect kidnapping, and I don't need to say how important that could be.

      There's no way of saying how effective this will be until

      • One thing that strikes me as odd about this idea, my understanding of the general profile of kidnapping in the US is that many, or possibly a majority, of kidnappings are done by the current or former spouse of a parent who isn't happy with current or predicted custody arangements. Having a GPS on a child might make it easier for kidnappers with specific targets (such as the aforementioned disgruntled ex-spouse, or someone who thinks that you are a good target for extracting ransom) to find their victims,
    • I don't doubt that parents have the legal right to track ther children like that. However, is it right? In other words, are you going to raise good children by treating them like that? I don't really believe that a child who is so closely scrutanized every moment of the day can really develop the strong sense of personal responsibility that they need to be good people.

      Phsycological research says that there are several levels of morality. The two most common are based on rules and principles, respectively.
  • Tracking me (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hi_2k (567317) on Friday November 14, 2003 @06:49PM (#7477569) Journal
    I have parents. I have a love of techno gadgets. I have a real problem, however, with my parents using my techno gadget to tell where I am. Sometimes people want privacy, especialy when they're playing games.
  • Zodiac! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Cpt_Kirks (37296) on Friday November 14, 2003 @06:50PM (#7477577)
    Damn, that thing looks like a Zodiac [tapwave.com].

    BTW, Fedex says they are delivering mine this evening.

    Now, we do the dance of joy! Hup! Ho! Hay!

  • Thank god (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Friday November 14, 2003 @06:52PM (#7477597) Homepage
    ""The system allows the parents to establish 'fences,' which, when entered by the child, cause a notification to be sent to the parents in the form of either an SMS message or an email." Hmmm."

    Thank God. For a second I was a little scared. I mean, my parents need me to program their VCR to stop flashing 12. My dad thought his shift key was broken, when in reality his entire keyboard wasn't working. My guess is that the kids are going to be able to either change the "fence", disable it, make it so it doesn't notify the parents, or simply not take it with them.

    Just goes to show, digital rights management isn't the only easy thing to crack, organic rights management is too.

  • "The system allows the parents to establish 'fences,' which, when entered by the child, cause a notification to be sent to the parents in the form of either an SMS message or an email."

    WTF? Now we even need tin foil hats for our frickin' Game Boys?
  • Tracking children (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Space cowboy (13680) on Friday November 14, 2003 @06:55PM (#7477615) Journal

    How is it that adults can never seem to remember just how elusive they were themselves, as children :-)

    Here's a hint to the parents - they'll leave it at home if it gets them into trouble :-))

    Simon
    • by Anonymous Coward
      How is it that the children can never realize that the world has changed since their parents were kids.

      Don't believe me? Watch an episode of Leave it to Beaver and lets talk. Today that title would be a p0rn series.

      I'm sure the Smart family (had their child abducted in Utah) would have loved to have had some device to track their daughters whereabouts.

      Eventually these things will get down to the size where they can be integrated into jewelry. And yes, that can be a good thing.

      And like all good thin
      • You do realize that Leave it to Beaver was fiction, right? As in, no bearing on reality?

        Ask any person who grew up in the 40s and 50s how many times they got beat as a child. Wally and the Beav never seemed to be disciplined. You're right, things have changed since my parents were kids. For the better, if you ask me. I'll take a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of being gunned down at school over a 1 in 2 chance of being beaten because I spilled some milk any day, thanks.

        And you also of course realize that Elizabeth
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The system allows the parents to establish 'fences,' which, when entered by the child, cause a notification to be sent to the parents in the form of either an SMS message or an email.

    When I can shock the little tykes who violate the perimeter, they just might see some of my money.
    • Now we can find these expensive toys when the kids "loan" it to a friend...or worse sell it for some quarters! The fact that the KID is actually attached seems secondary to most parents.
  • by utexaspunk (527541) on Friday November 14, 2003 @06:57PM (#7477626)
    that laptop is pretty dang sweet sweet, with one glaring exception- the placement of the keyboard. laptop designers learned a long time ago that putting the keyboard up against the front edge is no good for using the computer on your lap. it's better to have it toward the back so that your wrists have a place to rest.

    could use a bigger HD, too, for my tastes...
    • by mfago (514801)
      It is not really 0.4" thick either - but a wedge. With that kind of logic a manufacturer could sharpen the "wedge" into a knife-edge at the front. I can see the new marketing slogan:

      It slices, it dices, it runs XL, Word, and Halo.
      The only laptop that's one atom thick!

      That's marketing drivel for you. Nevertheless, other than the keyboard placement, it does look pretty nice (and thin).

    • I actually disagree. I like the design, because I never use the laptop in my lap. Generally when I use a laptop, it's sitting on table in a cafe, work table, or similiar surface. (Note that I seldom fly, so using it in airports is rare.)

      Using one with the "the Gap" actually causes me pain, and I've been coddling my thinkpad with out the gap until something similiar came out.

      I was even considering buying a new Toshiba convertible Tabletpc, because of the lack of the gap.

      Good to know there are other opti
  • Do you know how useless that tidbit of information is? Televisons come in many different sizes, from the very small [dealtime.com] to the very large [pengrowthsaddledome.com]. What's the size in standard 19 inch units?
  • by Tim C (15259) on Friday November 14, 2003 @07:06PM (#7477702)
    So, let me get this straight - I buy one of those things for myself, set up a fence at some appropriate distance from my house, and it'll automatically notify my house when I'm at a certain distance away on my way home?

    So, for example, a PC at home could switch on lights/heating/whatever, or my gf would know I'm nearly home (so she can start dinner, or knows that I'll be there soon to take our daughter off her hands and/or will be able to go out soon, whatever).

    • "So, for example, a PC at home could switch on lights/heating/whatever, or my gf would know I'm nearly home (so she can start dinner, or knows that I'll be there soon to take our daughter off her hands and/or will be able to go out soon, whatever)."

      You can already do all of that (seriously) with a Sony Ericsson t610/t616 phone and an iMac

    • So, let me get this straight - I buy one of those things for myself, set up a fence at some appropriate distance from my house, and it'll automatically notify my house when I'm at a certain distance away on my way home?

      Now that is a valid use for the device...

    • Isn't this the EXACT promise cell phones were making a couple years ago?
  • by unassimilatible (225662) on Friday November 14, 2003 @07:08PM (#7477717) Journal
    1000 CPUs in a little box?

    That thing could cause a China Syndrome if not cooled correctly.
  • by teamhasnoi (554944) <teamhasnoi&yahoo,com> on Friday November 14, 2003 @07:08PM (#7477718) Homepage Journal
    As a member of the Hysterical Mothers Society of America, we've found these game systems to be worthy of our highest honor - Five Golden Slaps!

    Please think of the children, and purchase one immediately!

    Signed,
    Cindy Lou Anderson, High Screamer

  • by obsidianpreacher (316585) on Friday November 14, 2003 @07:09PM (#7477731)
    There's more to the story than the simple Reuters blurb that the CNN/Money article above shows ... internetnews.com [internetnews.com] has got a more in-depth article about this.

    Also interesting to note is that IBM says this is the same processors that will be in next-gen consoles from Nintendo and Sony that are due out next year ... but I thought that wasn't gonna happen [slashdot.org] ...?
  • Oh they definitely need to work that Gametrac into an episode of Without a Trace...

    "Little joey was last seen at the bus stop, but his Gametrac somehow made it to the basement of St Paul's Church down the street."

  • Now everything goes smaller.

    BUT... Where the f* is my pocket watch with 22" screen??? @#$@$@
  • Tracking (Score:4, Funny)

    by El_Smack (267329) on Friday November 14, 2003 @07:22PM (#7477812)

    I'm generally against this type of thing, but any parent who has been enjoying some late afternoon intercourse on the living room floor only to be surprised by their child coming home early from a friends house will see this for the godsend it truly is.

    And no, that's not a hypothetical situation above.
    • Maybe if you have kids that could barge in on you you shouldn't be having sex in your living room? That would be a much more sensible and much more correct way of stopping it. Not to mention the last time I had sex, I wasn't exactly about to glance at a computer screen in the middle of it.
      • Re:Tracking (Score:5, Funny)

        by El_Smack (267329) on Friday November 14, 2003 @07:47PM (#7477947)

        "Maybe if you have kids that could barge in on you you shouldn't be having sex in your living room? That would be a much more sensible and much more correct way of stopping it. Not to mention the last time I had sex, I wasn't exactly about to glance at a computer screen in the middle of it."

        I am willing to bet the last time you had sex, you were ALREADY looking at a computer screen.

        OK, that was uncalled for, and I'm sure you are a nice guy, but the straight line was too much to resist. Hope I didn't hurt your feelings. :)
  • GPS tracking (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Anyone who's used a GPS knows you have to work with it for it to work. If you walk around with a GPS in your pocket, well, it won't get a signal and you won't be able to track anything.

    So you'll have to teach litte Johnny to walk around outdoors with a clear view of the sky for it to work.
    • This is no longer entirely true. Some new-er GPS technoligies use information provided by the cellular network to establish a lock with the satelites. This is the same technology that allows the new 911/GPS requirements to work even in many buildings that a handheld GPS would not.

      (The idea is; if the unit knows the time accuratly enough (from the network) has current, up to date satelite orbit data, and a rough estimate of where it is on the planet it hs an easier time filtering out noise and picking up a
  • That's the next desktop right there. Back in 1981 or so, IBM came out with a big, clunky supercomputer called the PC. It was so freaking expensive, but so useful. Now, the desktop machines we have kill that old thing... in 20 years, we'll all have at least 1000 chips on our desks thanks to technology like this.
    • Back in 1981 or so, IBM came out with a big, clunky supercomputer called the PC.

      Huh? Since when did ANYONE (including IBM) consider the PC a supercomputer? And frankly the original PC is not much different in form factor than todays PC, though a lot heavier. And the trend is to have FEWER chips in computers, not more. Now we might have a single "chip" that has 1000 virtual mini-chips inside, or one that performs the same as 1000 do today, but the odds of us having a desktop computer with 1000 cpu's an
  • When I was growing up, my family had a (somewhat tacky) large breadbox, wooden, with a roll-top like you see on old desks. It was pretty durable, but it was also a whole lot bigger (in terms of total volume) than the average desktop tower.

    Needless to say I'm not too impressed at the breadbox-sized computer.

    Could we at least use relatively standardized-ish sized objects for our impossibly vague comparisons??
  • I could use the tracking so that next time I lose my phone, at least I'll know who's house it's at, so I can rip *their* house apart looking for it.
  • It is also the technology that will be the foundation of the next generation of gaming consoles from Nintendo Co. and Sony Corp., which IBM is working on, he said.

    So is Sony & Nintendo's usage of this chip the reason why Microsoft is switching away from Intel? [wired.com] With such vast speed improvements and the portability of Linux, could we see a paradigm shift in computer hardware soon?
  • ...Now I don't have to log off spankdatass.com while downloading mp3's and cracked progz off of KazAa to fulfill my parental responsibilites. Most convenient.

    I can just program a fucking toy to watch my children - much as the parents of my generation did with television - so I can go about ignoring them without having to worry about looking responsible if one of my sons walks in front of Mack truck.

  • based on microchip technology to be used in gaming consoles due out next year

    It seems that the speculation [slashdot.org] of Nintendo [nintendo.com] releasing a console next year could be true?

  • When Myrias computers was talking aout building a 1000 processor super computer back in 1982, I joked that it might be able to generate real-time holograms and pop popcorn at the same time..
  • SMS Message or email? Couldn't it just shock my kid into compliance w/o bothering me about it?
  • by Snarph (596331)
    Pity the SN85G4 (the AMD64 box) is so fugly. Shuttle should've stuck with their G2 case design.

    Oh, and gigabit ethernet would've been nice, even if I couldn't get more than 200-300Mbps out of it in actual use.
    • I just want straight answers about compatability. Obviously benchmarks are going to show this beast for the holy terror it is. My SN41G2 is wonderful, and I'm thinking about getting an 85.

      But, I don't find information such as, is that version of Radeon card fully supported by Linux both as a framebuffer console and accelerated X server?

      Is that "6-in-1" card reader one of the chipsets that's supported as a MTD?

      What kind of ALSA/Jack support is there for the sound card? Especially, does SP/DIF work?

      Doe
  • 1. Where can I buy one? I already have an SN41G2 and am blissfully happy with it. I was going to buy another one, but now I want the Athlon64 version.

    2. Does all the hardware built into the SN85G4 have driver support under Linux? Good driver support? Radeon driver for X11? TV-Out? How is the ALSA driver for the sound? Even the SP/DIF IO? How about the network chipset? SATA?

    Without knowing ahead of time that there's 100% Linux support for this thing, I can't buy it. On the other hand, I'd order

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