Today Valve unveiled their third and final announcement about living room gaming: a Steam controller. The company made the determination that existing gamepads simply weren't good enough for bringing PC games to the living room, so they made their own. Instead of having directional pads or thumb sticks, the Steam controller has two circular trackpads. The trackpads are also clickable, and Valve claims they provide much higher fidelity than any previous controller trackpad. Valve also eschewed the traditional 'rumble' feedback mechanism: "The Steam Controller is built around a new generation of super-precise haptic feedback, employing dual linear resonant actuators. These small, strong, weighted electro-magnets are attached to each of the dual trackpads. They are capable of delivering a wide range of force and vibration, allowing precise control over frequency, amplitude, and direction of movement." The center of the controller holds a clickable touchscreen. "When programmed by game developers using our API, the touch screen can work as a scrolling menu, a radial dial, provide secondary info like a map or use other custom input modes we haven't thought of yet." The design also breaks up the common diamond-shaped button layout, instead putting the A B X Y buttons at the corners of the touchscreen. The controller is designed to be hackable, and Valve will "make tools available that will enable users to participate in all aspects of the experience, from industrial design to electrical engineering." The controller is being beta tested concurrently with the Steam Machines they announced on Wednesday, so you can expect them to be on sale in 2014.
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TinTops writes "The IT chief of supermarket giant Tesco has said he believes there is a market for 3D printing in large supermarkets, and that it will be 'good for customers.' Mike McNamara told V3: 'I think it will help Tesco as a company, I don't think it will be a bad thing. It'll be a great thing for customers, we'll have 3D printing in our stores. As retailers you'll always adapt. So new things come along — the internet came along, we adapted to that one. We kind of have the internet version two with smartphones now, which has been a bigger impact than the wired internet, we'll adapt to that, we'll adapt to 3D printing, we'll adapt to RFID. You live, you change.' McNamara thinks 3D printers will be commonplace in stores before they start showing up in significant numbers at people's homes. This could 'give shoppers a new reason to visit shops for quick access to niche items.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has demoed a prototype gesture-controlled PC using an augmented version of its Kinect motion sensing system. The rig detects 16 gestures and can be used to navigate Windows 8. Microsoft said it wants gestures to complement what is possible using mouse and keyboard, rather than replacing them, and the system favors simple gestures made just above the keyboard, rather than more elaborate Minority Report-style gestures. '[A] window is maximized by clenching a fist to "grab" it and then opening the hand while moving towards the top of the keyboard. Performing the same series of gestures in reverse minimize the window. Repeating the gesture while moving the hand to the left or right edge of the keyboard docks the window with the left or right edge of the screen. The same series of gestures while moving the hand to the top left and right corners of the keyboard will throw the window to the left or right of screen, but not dock it with the edge. Bringing hands together in the middle of the keyboard and then moving them to the keyboard's left and right edge with palms down and fingers splayed will show the desktop. Repeating the gesture restores the original view.'"
Lucas123 writes "After three years of work, German and French researchers have achieved a new world record on converting sunlight to energy through a photovoltaic cell, achieving a 44.7% rate of efficiency, which was measured at a concentration of 297 suns. The efficiency rating means the solar cell collects 44.7% of the sun's spectrum's energy, from ultraviolet to the infrared spectrum, which is converted into electrical energy. The team of researchers said the technology places them on the path to achieving their roadmap of 50% efficiency in solar energy conversion."
mask.of.sanity writes "Researchers are closing in on a means to detect previously undetectable stealthy malware that resides in peripherals like graphics and network cards. The malware was developed by the same researchers and targeted host runtime memory using direct memory access provided to hardware devices. They said the malware was a 'highly critical threat to system security and integrity' and could not be detected by any operating system."
CircuitCo started making something they called the BeagleBoard -- an open source hardware single-board computer for educators and experimenters. Now, with help and support from Intel, they're making and supporting the Atom-based MinnowBoard, which is also open source, and comes with Angstrom Linux to help experimenters get started with it. David Anders is the Senior Embedded Systems Engineer at CircuitCo. Slashdot's Timothy Lord met David at LinuxCon North America 2013 in New Orleans and made this video of him talking about the recently-released MinnowBoard and the more mature BeagleBoard.
michaelmalak writes "In a technique that reminds me of the just-in-time torpedo engineering of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, a company called Argon Design has "developed a high performance trading system" that puts an FPGA — and FPGA-based trading algorithms — right in the Ethernet switch. And it isn't just to cut down on switch/computer latency — they actually start assembling and sending out the start of an Ethernet packet simultaneously with receiving and decoding incoming price quotation Ethernet packets, and decide on the fly what to put in the outgoing buy/sell Ethernet packet. They call these techniques 'inline parsing' and 'pre-emption.'"
theodp writes "If he'd had his druthers, Bill Gates told a Harvard audience, Ctrl+Alt+Del would never have seen the light of day. However, an IBM keyboard designer didn't want to give Microsoft a single button to start things up, and thus the iconic three-finger-salute was born."
MojoKid writes "AMD has just announced a full suite of new GPUs based on its Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture. The Radeon R5, R7, and R9 families are the new product lines aimed at mainstream, performance, and high-end gaming, respectively. Specs on the new cards are still limited, but we know that the highest-end R9 290X is a six-billion transistor GPU with more than 300GB/s of memory bandwidth and prominent support for 4K gaming. The R5 series will start at $89, with 1GB of RAM. The R7 260X will hit $139 with 2GB of RAM, the R9 270X and 280X appear to replace the current Radeon 7950 and 7970 with price points at $199 and $299, and 2GB/3GB of RAM, and then the R9 290X, at an unannounced price point and 4GB of RAM. AMD is also offering a limited preorder pack, that offers Battlefield 4 license combined with the graphics cards, which should go on sale in the very near future. Finally, AMD is also debuting a new positional and 3D spatial audio engine in conjunction with GenAudio dubbed 'AstoundSound,' but they're only making it available on the R9 290X, R9 280X, and the R9 270X."
Valve's second major living-room-gaming announcement landed today: they have produced a prototype model of their first "Steam Machine." They've made 300 units, and they'll be sending the machines to users in a very limited beta test. Valve hastens to add that this device isn't the only Steam-focused hardware: "Entertainment is not a one-size-fits-all world. We want you to be able to choose the hardware that makes sense for you, so we are working with multiple partners to bring a variety of Steam gaming machines to market during 2014, all of them running SteamOS." They haven't released specs, but they guaranteed the prototypes will ship this year. They explicitly permit using it in any way — swapping parts, changing the OS, installing any software, etc. "The specific machine we're testing is designed for users who want the most control possible over their hardware. Other boxes will optimize for size, price, quietness, or other factors."
New submitter casab1anca writes "In classic Amazon fashion, without much fanfare, a bunch of new tablets just popped up on their homepage today. The new range, dubbed HDX, is available in the usual 8.9" and 7" versions, with improved hardware and software, but perhaps equally interesting is the revamped 7" Fire HD from last year, which goes for just $139 now." Compared to the Kindle Fire HD, the new models feature a jump in display density (216 PPI to 323 PPI for the 7" and 254 to 339 PPI for the 9"), a switch from a dual-core TI OMAP Cortex-A9 (at 1.2/1.5GHz) to a quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon, and a bump from 1G to 2G of RAM. On the software side, Android has been upgraded from 4.0 to 4.2.2 and Amazon added a few new features to their applications. Businessweek has an interview with Jeff Bezos running today too (starting a bit down the first page).
Dputiger writes "It's been a decade since AMD's Athlon 64 FX-51 debuted — and launched the 64-bit x86 extensions that power the desktop and laptop world today. After a year of being bludgeoned by the P4, AMD roared back with a vengeance, kicking off a brief golden age for its own products, and seizing significant market share in desktops and servers." Although the Opteron was around before, it cost a pretty penny. I'm not sure it's fair to say that the P4 was really bludgeoning the Athlon XP though (higher clock speeds, but NetBurst is everyone's favorite Intel microarchitecture to hate). Check out the Athlon 64 FX review roundup from 2003.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Never mind that sales of the original Surface totaled a pitiful $853 million in its first few months of release, or that the tablet failed to make Microsoft an up-and-coming player (or any kind of player, really) in the mobile-device wars: Microsoft's now rolling out Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, which feature upgraded specs and accessories but no radical adjustments to the first generation. Why would Microsoft pour good money after bad? The answer could be outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who late last year released a memo suggesting that Microsoft was evolving into a 'devices and services' company. 'There will be times when we build specific devices for specific purposes, as we have chosen to do with Xbox and the recently announced Microsoft Surface,' he wrote. 'In all our work with partners and on our own devices, we will focus relentlessly on delivering delightful, seamless experiences across hardware, software and services.' That meant Surface (then on the cusp of release) was clearly a harbinger of the company's future direction — and canceling the project after the first generation would have been a stinging refutation of Ballmer's strategy. By spending the money and resources on a second device generation, Microsoft manages to save a little bit of face, albeit at considerable cost. But imagine the hilarity that'll ensue if this second generation goes down in a huge ball of flames like the first."
An anonymous reader writes "Select to copy and middle-click to paste. That's very convenient usability feature associated with UNIX graphical environments. But it is confusing for new users, so the ability to middle-click paste was briefly removed from GNOME 3.10. It was restored few days later, but with clear message: middle-click paste will be permanently removed from next GNOME version." I hope that "we'll defer this change until the next cycle" also means that it's getting re-thought, rather than just delayed.
littlekorea writes "The world's largest web-scale users of MySQL have committed to one further upgrade to the Oracle-controlled database — but Facebook and Twitter are also eyeing off more open options from MariaDB and cheaper options from the NoSQL community. Who will pay for MySQL enterprise licenses into the future?"
MojoKid writes "The Xbox One has both HDMI-in and HDMI-out capability. The point of HDMI-in is to allow you to hook up a cable box, with output then running from the Xbox One to your television. As it turns out, however, that's not the only thing the Xbox One can do. Since the HDMI-in port is a standard option, it can accept video input from a PS4 and also accept a video stream from a PC. According to Xbox senior director of product management, Albert Panello, "any application can be snapped to a game... this could be the live TV feed, so if you wanted to play Ryse and Killzone (a PS4 exclusive), you could snap that." Keep in mind, snapping a title to the Xbox One doesn't mean that you can actually keep using Xbox One controllers in the game. If you want to snap in a PS4 game, you still need PS4 controllers. If you want to hook a PC into the Xbox One's video output, you still need mouse and keyboard, though if the Xbox One's controllers are eventually PC compatible, then you might be able to use the same controller on both platforms without doing much more than flipping a switch."
hypnosec writes with word that the Chaos Computer Club claims to have "managed to break Apple's TouchID using everyday material and methods available on the web. Explaining their method on their website, the CCC hackers have claimed that all they did was photograph a fingerprint from a glass surface, ramped up the resolution of the photographed fingerprint, inverted and printed it using thick toner settings, smeared pink latex milk or white woodglue onto the pattern, lifted the latex sheet, moistened it a little and then placed it on the iPhone 5S's fingerprint sensor to unlock the phone." Update: 09/22 21:32 GMT by T :Reader mask.of.sanity adds a link to a video of the hack.
wbr1 writes "A new page has appeared over at Steam with this slightly cryptic text, a countdown, and an image of a console controller. 'Last year, we shipped a software feature called Big Picture, a user-interface tailored for televisions and gamepads. This year we've been working on even more ways to connect the dots for customers who want Steam in the living-room. Soon, we'll be adding you to our design process, so that you can help us shape the future of Steam.' It appears Gabe Newell wants to throw his hat in the console ring now with the Xbox One and PS4 about to be released. The countdown to the announcement is targeted at Monday."
Dputiger writes "Given the recent emphasis on mobile computing and the difficulty of scaling large cores, it's easy to think that enthusiast computing is dead. Easy — but not necessarily true. There are multiple ways to attack the problem of continued scaling, including new semiconductor materials, specialized co-processor units that implement software applications in silicon, and enhanced cooling techniques to reduce on-die hot spots."
MojoKid writes "3D Printing start-up Ultimaker announced its second generation printer, the Ultimaker 2. The new printer features significant redesigns from the first iteration of the Ultimaker. The company says that the new machine is more accurate, more efficient, and it's even quieter at 49dB. Specifically, the Ultimaker 2 has a new CNC-milled case (that's all white with glowing sidewalls) with an OLED display, and its glass and aluminum build platform is designed to cool quickly so you can peel completed projects off more easily. The Ultimaker 2 can print with multiple materials, including PLA, ABS, and PVA, and is WiFi-compatible so you can print from a mobile device or computer. Ultimaker is also launching its Cura open source software, which the company claims can pre-process 3D files some 60 times faster than other open source applications and makes it easy to load and work with 3D files."
toygeek writes "If you've been in IT long enough, you're bound to have heard the phrase 'Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon filled with backup tapes.' These days moving data has become so much easier; We've surpassed baud rates and are into Gbps fiber on the backbones, and even in some homes. So, what's the modern equivalent to this, and what does it take to make the OC fiber connections cringe? Follow along as we theoretically stuff MicroSD cards into a Chevy Suburban and see what happens, and take sneakernet to a whole new level."
MTorrice writes "By attaching a lightweight, inexpensive device to the back of a smart phone, scientists can convert the phone into a sensitive fluorescence microscope. The attachment [paper abstract] allows the phone's camera to take pictures of single nanoparticles and viruses, possibly providing a portable diagnostic tool for health care workers in developing countries. For example, doctors in remote regions could use the technique to measure HIV viral loads in patients' blood samples, allowing the doctors to easily monitor disease progression and determine the best course of treatment."
New submitter moglito writes "Willow Garage is/was acknowledge by many to be one of the best places for robotics research these days. Besides developing the PR2 it made itself a name for creating the open-source Robot Operating System ROS. But now it seems to be shutting down. [From a posting on the Willow Garage site:] 'Scott Hassan, founder of both Willow Garage and Suitable Technologies, said, 'I am excited to bring together the teams of Willow Garage and Suitable Technologies to provide the most advanced remote presence technology to people around the world.' Willow Garage will continue to support customers of its PR2 personal robotics platform and sell its remaining stock of PR2 systems. Interest in PR2 systems or support should continue to be directed to Willow Garage through its portal at www.willowgarage.com.'"
judgecorp writes "Another British bank — Barclays — has been hit by a fraud attempt using a stealthily-planted KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) device. Unlike the previous attempt on Santander, the crooks got away with £1.3 million, but were subsequently apprehended by the Metropolitan Police's Central e-Crimes Unit."
Lasrick writes "Princeton's Mark Gubrud has an excellent piece on the United States killer robot policy. In 2012, without much fanfare, the U.S. announced the world's first openly declared national policy for killer robots. That policy has been widely misperceived as one of caution, according to Gubrud: 'A careful reading of the directive finds that it lists some broad and imprecise criteria and requires senior officials to certify that these criteria have been met if systems are intended to target and kill people by machine decision alone. But it fully supports developing, testing, and using the technology, without delay. Far from applying the brakes, the policy in effect overrides longstanding resistance within the military, establishes a framework for managing legal, ethical, and technical concerns, and signals to developers and vendors that the Pentagon is serious about autonomous weapons.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Last year, sci-fi author Neal Stephenson and a team of game developers set out to make video game swordfighting awesome. They set up a Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of hardware and software tech that would make replace console controllers with something more realistic. Now, production on that tech and the game in which they showcase it has been halted. In an update on the Kickstarter page, Stephenson explains how they've sought other investments without success. The project is 'on pause,' and the team asks for patience. He says, 'The overall climate in the industry has become risk-averse to a degree that is difficult to appreciate until you've seen it. It is especially bemusing to CLANG team members who, by cheerfully foregoing other opportunities so that they could associate themselves with a startup in the swordfighting space, have already shown an attitude to career, financial, and reputational risk normally associated with the cast members of Jackass. To a game publisher crouched in a fetal position under a blanket, CLANG seems extra worrisome because it is coupled to a new hardware controller.'"
Rambo Tribble writes "As detailed by Ars Technica, Intel has introduced the Minnowboard, an SBC touted as more powerful and more open than the Raspberry Pi. At $199, it is also more expensive. Using an Atom processor, the new SBC boasts more capacity and x86-compatibility. 'It's notable that the MinnowBoard is an open hardware platform, a distinction that Arduino and BeagleBone can claim but Raspberry Pi cannot. Users could create their own MinnowBoards by buying the items on the bill of materials—all the design information is published, and CircuitCo chose components that can be purchased individually rather than in the bulk quantities hardware manufacturers are accustomed to, Anders said. Users can also buy a pre-made MinnowBoard and make customizations or create their own accessory boards to expand its capability. And being an open hardware platform means that the source code of (almost) all the software required to run the platform is open.'" Update: 09/20 22:31 GMT by T : Look soon for a video introduction to the MinnowBoard, and — hopefully not too long from now — a visit to their Dallas-area production facility.
mdsolar writes in with a story about the fallout from a nuclear plant closing on a small town in Maine. "In a wooded area behind a camouflage-clad guard holding an assault rifle, dozens of hulking casks packed with radioactive waste rest on concrete pads — relics of the shuttered nuclear plant that once powered the region and made this fishing town feel rich. In the 17 years since Maine Yankee began dismantling its reactors and shedding its 600 workers, this small, coastal town north of Portland has experienced drastic changes: property taxes have spiked by more than 10 times for the town's 3,700 residents, the number living in poverty has more than doubled as many professionals left, and town services and jobs have been cut. 'I have yet to meet anyone happy that Maine Yankee is gone,' said Laurie Smith, the town manager. 'All these years later, we're still feeling the loss of jobs, the economic downturn, and the huge tax increases.'"
cold fjord writes with this excerpt from Wired: "Most of what humanity knows about the outer planets came back to Earth on plutonium power. ... The characteristics of this metal's radioactive decay make it a super-fuel. ... there is no other viable option. Solar power is too weak, chemical batteries don't last, nuclear fission systems are too heavy. So, we depend on plutonium-238, a fuel largely acquired as by-product of making nuclear weapons. But there's a problem: We've almost run out. 'We've got enough to last to the end of this decade. That's it,' said Steve Johnson, a nuclear chemist at Idaho National Laboratory. And it's not just the U.S. reserves that are in jeopardy. The entire planet's stores are nearly depleted. ... what's left has already been spoken for and then some. ... Political ignorance and shortsighted squabbling, along with false promises from Russia, and penny-wise management of NASA's ever-thinning budget still stand in the way of a robust plutonium-238 production system." The plutonium shortage has been deepening for a long time, leading to some creative solutions. The Wired article alludes to the NASA project underway to create more, but leans toward gloom.
An anonymous reader writes "The openSUSE Linux distribution looks like it may be the first major Linux distribution to ship the Btrfs file-system by default. The openSUSE 13.1 release is due out in November and is still using EXT4 by default, but after that the developers are looking at having openSUSE using Btrfs by default on new installations. The Btrfs features to be enabled would be the ones the developers feel are data-safe."
vinces99 writes "It's becoming more common to have robots sub for humans to do dirty or sometimes dangerous work. But researchers are finding that, in some cases, people have started to treat robots like pets, friends or even as an extension of themselves. That raises a question: If a soldier attaches human or animal-like characteristics to a field robot, can it affect how they use the robot? What if they 'care' too much about the robot to send it into a dangerous situation? Julie Carpenter, who just received a doctorate in education from the University of Washington, wanted to find out. She interviewed Explosive Ordnance Disposal military personnel – highly trained soldiers who use robots to disarm explosives – about how they feel about the robots they work with every day. What she found is that troops' relationships with robots continue to evolve as the technology changes. Soldiers told her that attachment to their robots didn't affect their performance, yet acknowledged they felt a range of emotions such as frustration, anger and even sadness when their field robot was destroyed. That makes Carpenter wonder whether outcomes on the battlefield could potentially be compromised by human-robot attachment, or the feeling of self-extension into the robot described by some operators."
crookedvulture writes "Nvidia has already produced a gaming handheld based on its quad-core Tegra 4 SoC. Today, the company announced plans to build a 7" Tegra Note tablet that uses the same chip. Rather than selling the tablet itself, Nvidia will make the device available through parters like EVGA and PNY. Asking price: $199. That seems a little steep given the Tegra Note's 1280x800 display resolution, which delivers a much lower PPI than the 1080p panel in the latest Nexus 7. But the Tegra Note does have some perks, including front-facing speakers, Micro HDMI output, microSD expansion, and an optional stylus. The tablet also boasts a fancy camera that taps into the Tegra chip's photography engine. Nvidia promises to keep the device updated with the latest versions of Android, too. You can expect to see the Tegra Note for sale worldwide in the next few months."
iONiUM writes "Today the new Blackberry Z30 was announced today (release coming in the next 'few weeks'). It has a 4.97" 16:9 screen running at 720x1280. The CPU also got an upgrade, at 1.7Ghz. The news claims that the battery is a 2880maH with up to 25 hours of use. I'm not really convinced this is enough of a differentiation between the Z10 to save Blackberry, and as someone who owns a Z10 and Q10 (but uses an S3 instead), I don't see how this addresses any of the real issues Blackberry is facing, the biggest being a lack of apps."
Vigile writes "Multi-display gaming has really found a niche in the world of high-end PC gaming, starting when AMD released Eyefinity in 2009 in three-panel configurations. AMD expanded out to six-screen options in 2010 and NVIDIA followed shortly thereafter with a similar multi-screen solution called Surround. Over the last 12 months or so, GPU performance testing has gone through a sort of revolution as the move from software measurement to hardware capture measurement has taken hold. PC Perspective has done testing with this new technology on AMD Eyefinity and NVIDIA Surround configurations at 5760x1080 resolution and found there were some substantial anomalies in the AMD captures. The AMD cards exhibited dropped frames, interleaved frames (jumping back and forth between buffers) and even stepped, non-horizontal vertical sync tearing. The result is a much lower observed frame rate than software like FRAPS would indicate and these problems will also be found when using the current top-end, dual-head 4K PC displays since they emulate Eyefinity and Surround for setup."
Damek writes "The OpenZFS project launched today, the truly open source successor to the ZFS project. ZFS is an advanced filesystem in active development for over a decade. Recent development has continued in the open, and OpenZFS is the new formal name for this community of developers, users, and companies improving, using, and building on ZFS. Founded by members of the Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS X, and illumos communities, including Matt Ahrens, one of the two original authors of ZFS, the OpenZFS community brings together over a hundred software developers from these platforms."
itwbennett writes with a link to a story you'll need to mentally upgrade from "expected to" to "just happened" about IBM's $1 billion dollar investment in Linux officially announced Tuesday morning at LinuxCon (the WSJ broke the story yesterday), by IBM VP Brad McCredie. IBM, says the linked article, will use all that money "to promote Linux development as it tries to adapt Power mainframes and servers to handle cloud and big data applications in distributed computing environments. The investment will fund Linux application development programs for IBM's Power servers and also be used to expand a cloud service where developers can write and test applications for Power servers before deployment. It will also facilitate software development around IBM's new Power8 chips, which will go into servers next year." It's not the only time that IBM has recently tossed around the B-word, and as Nick Kolakowski notes at Slash BI, it's also not the first time IBM has put that much money into Linux.
moon_unit2 writes "MIT Technology Review has a story about BMW's new collaborative final-assembly-line robots. The move could be significant in the ongoing automation of work, as robots have previously been incapable of doing such jobs, and too dangerous to work in close proximity to humans. Robots like the ones at BMW's South Carolina plant will also cooperate with human workers, by handing them a wrench when they need it. Perhaps the next big shift in labor could be robot-human collaboration."
Nate the greatest writes "Rumors are circulating that Barnes & Noble is going to release their new hardware soon. Two different sources inside B&N have confirmed that a launch is imminent, with one saying B&N will launch both a tablet and an ereader. The other says that a new tablet is coming. I tend to think that the first source is probably right because product pages for several accessories leaked in early August. The pages referenced 2 different new models. Also, B&N recently announced plans to continue to develop both new ereaders and tablets, though they've changed their minds so much that I don't know if that announcement is worth anything."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Damage from an explosion and fire in SK Hynix's Wuxi, China DRAM fabrication plant will drive up global memory prices for PCs, servers, and other devices, according to new reports. Most of the damage from the Sept. 4 fire was to the air-purification systems and roof of the plant, according to announcements from parent company SK Hynix, which predicted the fab would be back to full production in less than a month. The Wuxi plant makes approximately 10 percent of the world's supply of DRAM chips; its primary customers include Apple, Samsung, Lenovo, Dell and Sony. SK Hynix is the world's second-largest manufacturer of memory chips, with a market share of 30 percent, lagging behind Samsung Electronics with 32.7 percent. In an update published Friday, market-research firm DRAMeXchange reported that damage from the fire, smoke and power outages left at least half the plant inoperable or at reduced capacity. The plant is designed to isolate damage in case of disaster so that at least one of its two parallel production facilities can remain online. The facility itself restarted production Sept. 7, according to a statement from the company."
First time accepted submitter MrMagooAZ writes "An interesting article about a questionable reaction by FEMA in response to the flooding in Colorado. It seems a small firm was working free of charge with County officials to use drones to map the area and provide near-real-time maps of the flood damage. When FEMA took control of operations one of their first acts appears to have been to not only ground the drones, but threaten the operators. 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help you?'" The drone model in question has permits from the FAA to be flown around even. The drones were replaced with manned craft that, due to the terrain, where unable to fly low enough to make useful maps.
Zothecula writes "Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found a way to harvest energy from sunlight more efficiently, with the help of so-called plasmonic nanostructures. The new findings suggest that plasmonic components can enhance and direct optical scattering, creating a mechanism that is more efficient than the photoexcitation that drives solar cells. The development could therefore provide a real boost to solar cell efficiency and lead to faster optical communication."
An anonymous reader writes "A new report out of Oxford has found that the next 20 years will see 45% of America's workforce replaced by computerized automation. 'The authors believe this takeover will happen in two stages. First, computers will start replacing people in especially vulnerable fields like transportation/logistics, production labor, and administrative support. Jobs in services, sales, and construction may also be lost in this first stage. Then, the rate of replacement will slow down due to bottlenecks in harder-to-automate fields such engineering. This "technological plateau" will be followed by a second wave of computerization, dependent upon the development of good artificial intelligence. This could next put jobs in management, science and engineering, and the arts at risk.' 45% is a big number. Politicians have been yelling themselves hoarse over the jobs issue in this country for the past few years, and the current situation isn't anywhere near as bad. At what point will we start seeing legislation forbidding the automation of certain industries?"
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Researchers recently spent some time forcing dogs and robots to hang out together, in order to better understand the social qualities of interactive robots. The scientists had two objectives: to find out whether canines would interact with a robot and also to see whether they would ascribe social qualities to a non-living, non-human-like being. Dogs were divided into two groups: one would have a social interaction with the robot while the other would have an asocial interaction. They were allowed to watch their owners interact with the robot before meeting it themselves, which was then followed by a session wherein the canine subjects had to obey gestural cues from either a robot or a human. The robot purposely did not look human, save for its arms and gloved hand, as the researchers wanted to explore sociality apart from anthropoid features. As it turns out, dogs were interested in the robots, especially if the robots themselves were social and they saw owners interact with the robot, but ultimately were not as responsive or successful in following cues as they would otherwise be with humans."
MojoKid writes "Kirk Skaugen, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the PC Client Group at Intel, while on stage, at IDF this week snuck in some additional information about Broadwell, the 14nm follow up to Haswell that was mentioned during Brian Krzanich's opening day keynote. In a quick demo, Kirk showed a couple of systems running the Cinebench multi-threaded benchmark side-by-side. One of the systems featured a Haswell-Y processor, the other a Broadwell-Y. The benchmark results weren't revealed, but during the Cinebench run, power was being monitored on both systems and it showed the Broadwell-Y rig consuming roughly 30% less power than Haswell-Y and running fully loaded at under 5 watts. Without knowing clocks and performance levels, we can't draw many conclusion from the power numbers shown, but they do hint at Broadwell-Y's relative health, even at this early stage of the game."
judgecorp writes "Twelve men have been arrested over an attempt to take control of computers at a Santander bank branch in London using a stealthily planted KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switch installed by a bogus maintenance engineer. The men were caught by the Metropolitan Police's Central e-Crimes Unit."
puddingebola writes "Perhaps influencing Microsoft's $7.2 billion acquisition, the New York Times is reporting that Nokia had an Android phone in development. From the article, 'A team within Nokia had Android up and running on the company's Lumia handsets well before Microsoft and Nokia began negotiating Microsoft's $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia's mobile phone and services business, according to two people briefed on the effort who declined to be identified because the project was confidential. Microsoft executives were aware of the existence of the project, these people said.' Perhaps Nokia feared they had put too many eggs in one basket? Whatever the case, the project is most likely dead at this point."
coop0030 writes "Adafruit has a new tutorial that will show you how to use your Raspberry Pi as a WiFi access point that blocks ads by default for any devices using it. This is really neat in that it would work for your Android or iOS device, your Xbox 360, TiVo, laptop, and more without needing to customize any of those devices other than to use your Raspberry Pi as the access point for WiFi. Using an ad-blocker can be useful for conserving bandwidth, helping out low-power devices, or for keeping your sanity while browsing the web!"
jfruh writes "Some melancholy news from the Hot Chips symposium last week: NAND memory, which powers the solid-state drives that have revolutionized storage, has broken the $1 per gigabyte barrier and isn't getting any cheaper. 'They will always be ten times the cost of a hard drive,' says analyst Jim Handy. There are newer technologies in development, but they won't be able to beat NAND on price for years."
DoctorBit writes "A team of researchers funded in part by the NSF has just published a paper in which they demonstrate a way to introduce hardware Trojans into a chip by altering only the dopant masks of a few of the chip's transistors. From the paper: 'Instead of adding additional circuitry to the target design, we insert our hardware Trojans by changing the dopant polarity of existing transistors. Since the modified circuit appears legitimate on all wiring layers (including all metal and polysilicon), our family of Trojans is resistant to most detection techniques, including fine-grain optical inspection and checking against "golden chips."' In a test of their technique against Intel's Ivy Bridge Random Number Generator (RNG) the researchers found that by setting selected flip-flop outputs to zero or one, 'Our Trojan is capable of reducing the security of the produced random number from 128 bits to n bits, where n can be chosen.' They conclude that 'Since the Trojan RNG has an entropy of n bits and [the original circuitry] uses a very good digital post-processing, namely AES, the Trojan easily passes the NIST random number test suite if n is chosen sufficiently high by the attacker. We tested the Trojan for n = 32 with the NIST random number test suite and it passed for all tests. The higher the value n that the attacker chooses, the harder it will be for an evaluator to detect that the random numbers have been compromised.'"
Lucas123 writes "On the news that Linus Torvalds's SSD went belly up while he was coding the 3.12 kernel, Computerworld took a closer look at SSDs and their failure rates. While Torvalds didn't specify the SSD manufacturer in his blog, he did write in a 2008 blog that he'd purchased an 80GB Intel SSD — likely the X25, which has become something of an industry standard for SSD reliability. While they may have no mechanical parts, making them preferable for mobile use, there are many factors that go into an SSD being reliable. For example, a NAND die, the SSD controller, capacitors, or other passive components can — and do — slowly wear out or fail entirely. As an investigation into SSD reliability performed by Tom's Hardware noted: 'We know that SSDs still fail.... All it takes is 10 minutes of flipping through customer reviews on Newegg's listings.' Yet, according to IHS, client SSD annual failure rates under warranty tend to be around 1.5%, while HDDs are near 5%. So SSDs not only outperform, but on average outlast spinning disks."