cylonlover writes "Our ears work by converting the vibrations of the eardrum into electrochemical signals that can be interpreted by the brain. The current for those signals is supplied by an ion-filled chamber deep within the inner ear – it's essentially a natural battery. Scientists are now looking at using that battery to power devices that could be implanted in the ear, without affecting the recipient's hearing. The 'battery chamber' is located in the cochlea. It is internally divided by a membrane, some of the cells of which are designed to pump ions. The arrangement of those specialized cells, combined with an imbalance of potassium and sodium ions on opposite sides of the membrane, are what creates the electrical voltage. A team of scientists from MIT, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology have recently succeeded in running an ultra-low-power radio-transmitting chip using power from these battery chambers – in guinea pigs' ears."
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crookedvulture writes "Last October, Thailand was hit by massive flooding that put much of the world's hard drive industry under water. Production slowed to a crawl as drive makers and their suppliers mopped up the damage, and prices predictably skyrocketed. One year later, production has rebounded, with the industry expected to ship more drives in 2012 than it did in 2011. For the most part, though, hard drive prices haven't returned to pre-flood levels. Although 2.5" notebook drives are a little cheaper now than before the flood, the average price of 3.5" desktop drives is up 35% from a year ago. Prices have certainly fallen dramatically from their post-flood peaks, but the rate of decline has slowed substantially in recent months, suggesting that higher prices are the new norm for desktop drives."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Facebook's engineers face a considerable challenge when it comes to managing the tidal wave of data flowing through the company's infrastructure. Its data warehouse, which handles over half a petabyte of information each day, has expanded some 2500x in the past four years — and that growth isn't going to end anytime soon. Until early 2011, those engineers relied on a MapReduce implementation from Apache Hadoop as the foundation of Facebook's data infrastructure. Still, despite Hadoop MapReduce's ability to handle large datasets, Facebook's scheduling framework (in which a large number of task trackers that handle duties assigned by a job tracker) began to reach its limits. So Facebook's engineers went to the whiteboard and designed a new scheduling framework named Corona." Facebook is continuing development on Corona, but they've also open-sourced the version they currently use.
MojoKid writes "Intel has unveiled details of their new Itanium 9500 family, codenamed Poulson, and the new CPU appears to be the most significant refresh Intel has ever done to the Itanium architecture. Moving from 65nm to 32nm technology substantially reduces power consumption and increases clock speeds, but Intel has also overhauled virtually every aspect of the CPU. Poulson can issue 11 instructions per cycle compared to the previous generation Itanium's six. It adds execution units and re-balances those units to favor server workloads over HPC and workstation capabilities. Its multi-threading capabilities have been overhauled and it uses faster QPI links between CPU cores. The L3 cache design has also changed. Previous Itanium 9300 processors had a dedicated L3 cache for each core. Poulson, in contrast, has a unified L3 that's attached to all its cores by a common ring bus. All told, the new architecture is claimed to offer more than twice the performance of the previous generation Itanium."
An anonymous reader writes "Der Spiegel reports that Germany has exported more electricity this year than ever before, despite beginning to phase out nuclear power. In the first three quarters of 2012, Germany sent 12.3 terawatt hours of electricity across its borders. The country's rapid expansion into renewable energy is credited with the growth. However, the boost doesn't come without a price. The German government's investments into its new energy policy will end up costing hundreds of billions of dollars over the next two decades, and it still relies on imports for its natural gas needs. It also remains to be seen whether winter will bring power shortages. Is Germany a good example of forward-looking energy policy?"
concealment writes "most of Apple's products are so popular that it seems everything the company does is destined to succeed. But it doesn't take much digging to find a trail of failures and false starts. Even in recent years, there are examples of products that seemed great but never resonated with consumers, and some that seemed so destined for failure it's hard to imagine why any company would have brought them to market. Here are some examples of Apple veering a bit off course."
jbrodkin writes "In this hyper-connected, networked world, many more of our devices are getting linked to the cloud, whether we want them to or not. That's sometimes good, and sometimes bad, so when a basic device like a mouse requires a user to go online and set up an account to activate all of its functionality, people are understandably going to ask why? The latest entry in the saga of 'Why the hell does this thing need to connect to the Internet?' comes from Razer, which has caused an uproar by asking users to register gaming mice on the Internet. While it's mainly for syncing settings across devices, gamers are complaining that certain functionality might not be available unless you create an online account for your mouse. Razer has responded to the controversy, but its answers aren't entirely satisfactory."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Cray has unveiled a XC30 supercomputer capable of high-performance computing workloads of more than 100 petaflops. Originally code-named 'Cascade,' the system relies on Intel Xeon processors and Aries interconnect chipset technology, paired with Cray's integrated software environment. Cray touts the XC30's ability to utilize a wide variety of processor types; future versions of the platform will apparently feature Intel Xeon Phi and Nvidia Tesla GPUs based on the Kepler GPU computing architecture. Cray leveraged its work with DARPA's High Productivity Computing Systems program in order to design and build the XC30. Cray's XC30 isn't the only supercomputer aiming for that 100-petaflop crown. China's Guangzhou Supercomputing Center recently announced the development of a Tianhe-2 supercomputer theoretically capable of 100 petaflops, but that system isn't due to launch until 2015. Cray also faces significant competition in the realm of super-computer makers: it only built 5.4 percent of the systems on the Top500 list, compared to IBM with 42.6 percent and Hewlett-Packard with 27.6 percent."
1sockchuck writes "The Open Compute Project has challenged students at Purdue University to develop a biodegradable server chassis. Although the steel used in most server chassis can be recycled, the OCP says it wants to "explore designs that retain the needed resiliency but push the boundaries of sustainability," even allowing a chassis to be composted. The project aligns with Facebook's goal of separating the technology refresh cycle for CPUs and other components from the surrounding chassis and racks. The Purdue students will tackle this issue next semester, but Slashdot readers can brainstorm the issue now. Is a biodegradable server chassis viable? If so, can it be affordable?"
angry tapir writes "Samsung's recent licensing of 64-bit processor designs from ARM suggests that the chip maker may expand from smartphones and tablets into the server market, analysts believe. Samsung last week licensed ARM's first 64-bit Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53 processors, a sign the chip maker is preparing the groundwork to develop 64-bit chips for low-power servers, analysts said. The faster 64-bit processors will appear in servers, high-end smartphones and tablets, and offer better performance-per-watt than ARM's current 32-bit processors, which haven't been able to expand beyond embedded and mobile devices. The first servers with 64-bit ARM processors are expected to become available in 2014."
pigrabbitbear writes "There's a reason why Elon Musk is being called the next Steve Jobs. Like Jobs, he's a visionary, a super successful serial entrepreneur, having made his initial fortune with a company he sold to Compaq before starting Paypal. Like Jobs, he saved his beloved baby Tesla Motors from the brink of oblivion. Like Jobs, [he has] a knack for paradigm-shifting industry disruption. Which means he's also demanding. 'Like Jobs, Elon does not tolerate C or D players,' SpaceX board member and early Tesla investor Steve Jurvetson told BusinessWeek. But while Jobs was slinging multi-colored music players and touchable smartphones, Musk is building rocket ships and electric-powered supercars. It's why his friends describe him as not just Steve Jobs but also John D. Rockefeller and Howard Hughes all wrapped in one. His friend Jon Favreau used Musk as the real-life inspiration for the big screen version of Tony Stark. Elon Musk is a badass."
Nerval's Lobster writes "When Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, the combination of high winds, rain, and storm surges wreaked havoc on homes and businesses alike. With a data center on the Avenue of the Americas, CoreSite Realty escaped the worst the storm had to offer. But was it coincidence or careful planning? Slashdot sat down for an interview with Billie Haggard, CoreSite's senior vice president of data centers. He's responsible for the design, construction, maintenance, facilities staffing and uptime, reliability and energy efficiency of CoreSite's data centers. He described what it took to weather the worst weather to hit New York City in decades."
concealment sends this quote from Bloomberg: "Apple Inc. is exploring ways to replace Intel processors in its Mac personal computers with a version of the chip technology it uses in the iPhone and iPad, according to people familiar with the company's research. Apple engineers have grown confident that the chip designs used for its mobile devices will one day be powerful enough to run its desktops and laptops, said three people with knowledge of the work, who asked to remain anonymous because the plans are confidential. Apple began using Intel chips for Macs in 2005."
An anonymous reader writes "I am not a fan of wireless except for Wi-Fi to a notebook, but have gotten frustrated by the vast amounts of tangled cables around my computers: I have two machines, four monitors, multiple external hard drives, cable modem, network switch, router, USB hubs — everything requires power and connection to the other devices. The tangles and tangles make it almost impossible to move anything without spending twenty or thirty minutes under the desk. I'd rather untie balled-up fishing line than try to snake a monitor cable out from some thirty or so other wires. Anyone have good ways to prevent this?"
First time accepted submitter aurtherdent2000 writes "IEEE Spectrum magazine says that Cornell University has developed neuromorphic algorithms that enable MAVs to avoid obstacles using just a single camera. This is especially relevant for small and cheap robots, because all you need is a single camera, minimal processing power, and even more minimal battery power. Now, will we see more of the drones and aerial vehicles flying all around us?"
colinneagle writes "Andrew Mayhall is 19 years old and is running a server company, called Evtron, whose product has reportedly set the world record for data density (4.6 petabytes per server rack) and has begun attracting attention from investors. One of those interested parties is reportedly Facebook, with whom the young CEO claims to have had casual discussions about a potential acquisition/hire agreement (Facebook did not respond to a request for comment on the talks). He says the opportunity to speak with Facebook was simply one he couldn't pass up, and seems more impassioned by entrepreneurship. He speaks often of building his company into an EMC or NetApp, and could very well compete with them soon. But if an offer from Facebook ever comes, should he accept, or try to build something on his own?"
sweetpea86 writes "... but retails for $130 more. Teardowns of the Apple iPad Mini and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD have revealed that the two devices cost almost the same amount to manufacture, despite the retail prices being significantly different. Andrew Rassweiler, senior principal analyst of teardown services for IHS iSuppli, explains that Apple is sticking to the premium brand strategy it has always used for its media tablet and smartphone products, whereas Amazon is banking on content."
mikejuk writes with an excerpt from I Programmer on a neat swarm of robots that use flying drones to build a map of their environment: "How can a swarm of robots get a global picture of its environment? Easy it simply sends up a drone. We are used to thinking of drones as being used for surveillance by humans operating on the ground, but what is good for humans is good for robots too. The drone can view the overall terrain and run simulations of what configurations of robots could best traverse the slopes. Once it has worked out how to assemble the robots into a single machine the drone has to communicate the plan to the swarm using a protocol based on the colored lights they all have. The ground robots adopt a random color and the drone selects the one it wants to communicate with by displaying the same color. They then repeat the process until only one robot has been selected i.e the drone follows the color changes of the selected robot. Of course if you don't like the idea of human drones flying over your head you may not be happy about robots getting in on the act as well..." Original paper
alphadogg writes "University of South Carolina have discovered that some types of electricity meter are broadcasting unencrypted information that, with the right software, would enable eavesdroppers to determine whether you're at home. The meters, called AMR (automatic meter reading) in the utility industry, are a first-generation smart meter technology and they are installed in one third of American homes and businesses. They are intended to make it easy for utilities to collect meter readings. Instead of requiring access to your home, workers need simply drive or walk by a house with a handheld terminal and the current meter reading can be received." Perhaps more distressing, given trends in 4th amendment interpretation, I bet the transmissions are open game for law enforcement.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Rumors have circulated for weeks that Microsoft intends to release a smartphone of its own design and manufacture, embracing the strategy that drove Apple's iPhone to such enormous success over the past few years. While releasing a branded smartphone offers several potential benefits—look at the revenue and brand recognition Apple's earned as a result of the iPhone—such a strategy also carries significant risks for Microsoft. First, it could alienate smartphone partners such as Nokia, which would find itself competing against a high-end device backed by Microsoft's sizable marketing dollars. (Given the Finnish phone-maker's already perilous situation, that could prove ruinous.) But a branded smartphone could also convince hardware manufacturers that Microsoft really is 'all in' on building its own devices, which could lead to all sorts of drama."