Brazilian Beetles Hold Key to Faster Computers
For decades, scientists have dreamed of computer chips that manipulate light rather than electricity. Unlike electrons, photons can cross paths without interfering with each other, so optical chips could compute in three dimensions rather than two, crunching data in seconds that now takes weeks to process.
For now, though, optical computing remains a dream. The chips require crystals that channel photons as nimbly as silicon channels electrons -- and though engineers have been able to imagine the ideal photonic crystal, they've been unable to build it.
Enter a beetle known as Lamprocyphus augustus. In a study published this week in Physical Review E, researchers at the University of Utah describe how the inch-long Brazilian beetle's iridescent green scales are composed of chitin arranged by evolution in precisely the molecular configuration that has confounded the would-be fabricators of optical computers.
By using the scales as a semiconductor mold, researchers hope to finally build the perfect photonic crystal.
"We haven't been able to manufacture materials at the nanometer resolution. We knew the ideal structure, but we couldn't make it," said study co-author Michael Bartl, a University of Utah chemist.
Bartl's team stumbled across L. augustus by sheer luck. Study co-author Lauren Richey, now a Brigham Young University undergraduate, studied beetle iridescence for a high school science fair project. She asked BYU biologist John Gardner, also a co-author of the study, to examine L. augustus with his lab's electron microscope.
When the researchers scoped the scales, they noticed something strange: No matter the angle of viewing, the scales always appeared in the same shade of green.
That's unusual for iridescent surfaces, which derive their color from light refracted through semi-transparent layers. Further study revealed that the quality came from the scales' molecular arrangement, which had the same pattern as the atoms of carbon in a diamond.
Diamonds themselves are too dense to serve as photonic crystals, but researchers long ago identified their configuration as perfectly suited for manipulating light in a three-dimensional space.
"You can take the light, criss-cross it and it doesn't interfere. It allows you to build more complex and compact architectures," said Paul Braun, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign photonic crystal specialist. The crystals' transmission purity would also eliminate waste heat generated by traditional electron-based circuits. That heat is a limiting factor on traditional microchip capacities.
Laboratory attempts at mimicking diamonds have been largely unsuccessful. Braun said that researchers at Sandia National Laboratories came close, but each crystal took a painstaking month to build.
"They're almost impossible to fabricate," said Zhong Lin Wang, a Georgia Institute of Technology material scientist. Wang developed photonic crystals based on the scales of butterfly wings, but they didn't possess the elusive diamond form. "If this beetle has an arrangement like diamonds, that's truly unique."
Bartl said that optical computer chips won't actually run on beetle scales. Instead he plans to use the scales as a mold, replacing chitin with semiconductor material.
"This could motivate another round of serious science," said Braun. "If there's an easy way to create the diamond structure, that's going to expedite progress in the field."
"Optical computers could do in a second what now takes days or weeks," said Bartl. "And we're providing the materials."
Photoshop Tech demo shows GPU & physics accelleration
GPU acceleration is one of the most significant trends in today hardware industry, opening the doors to an entirely class of software running desktop. What will be possible is fascinating to see on a monitor, nut it is not tangible, if you just hear about it. It appears that the next Photoshop will be one of the first mainstream applications that will tap into the GPU for a speed up. And, at least from what we have seen during a first demonstration, the progress is simply stunning.
We have been saying it for a while now, mainstream applications need GPU acceleration to ring in the next major evolutionary step in software development. Far too long we have been stuck in a cycle of programming that relies on increasing clock-speeds, brings acceleration with new CPUs and a slow-down with new software releases. Even if Photoshop supports multi-core CPUs, it is one of those applications that always are very time intensive to use and especially if you are a professional user and work with huge images, then you are very familiar with
Proposed Treaty Turns Internet Into a Virtual Police State
Leaked documents are one of the banes of modern western politics. They reveal exercises and actions being proposed that are generally objectionable to the public. Such a leak occurred with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which seeks to turn the internet into a virtual police state.
The end of game piracy?
Speaking at yesterday's Wedbush Morgan Securities annual Management Access Conference, the Atari founder suggested that game piracy will soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new chip.
"There is a stealth encryption chip called a TPM that is going on the motherboards of most of the computers that are coming out now," he pointed out.
"What that says is that in the games business we will be able to encrypt with an absolutely verifiable private key in the encryption world - which is uncrackable by people on the internet and by giving away passwords - which will allow for a huge market to develop in some of the areas where piracy has been a real problem."
Bushnell thinks that piracy of movies and music, however, is probably unstoppable because "if you can watch it and you can hear it, you can copy it."
"Games are a different thing, because games are so integrated with the code. The TPM will, in fact, absolutely stop piracy of gameplay.
"As soon as the installed base of the TPM hardware chip gets large enough, we will start to see revenues coming from Asia and India at a time when before it didn't make sense."
Thanks to Daftshadow for pointing this out.
Internet to run out of addresses 'within 3 years'
IF YOU thought it was hard finding the email address that some other john.smith hasn't already bagged, that's nothing compared with the difficulty you'll have getting an internet connection for your computer after 2011.
As of this month 85 per cent of the 4.3 billion available Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, which identify devices connected to the net, are already in use. Within three years they will all be used up, according to a report by the OECD. "The situation is critical for the future of the internet economy," it says.
The report urges governments and businesses to upgrade from the current version, IPv4, to IPv6, which effectively has an unlimited number of IP addresses. IPv6 has been available for more than a decade but service providers have been slow to adopt it.
Is ASUS developing Eee tablet PC ?
As it seems ASUS may have a tablet version of the Eee PC ready as early as June, says Australia's Current. Regional retail manager Emmanuele Silanesu says that the company is looking into a touchscreen device in a form other than "just a clamshell" and might make its debut at the industry benchmark Computex show, which starts June 3rd. Specifications aren't revealed, though ASUS has made a point of introducing past Eee PCs with low-power CPUs like the Intel Atom, built-in flash storage, and at least the option of Linux as its operating system.
This year's expo serves as the one-year anniversary of the introduction of the original Eee PC, making it a potential candidate for the launch.
Silanesu all the same cautions that the computer at its late development stage still holds a chance of being rebadged as a non-Eee PC model. Its role as a tablet is significantly different enough from existing models that it doesn't belong in the line, he says. ASUS has already said, however, that it's developing desktops and smart TVs under the Eee PC brand and thus is willing to expand beyond simple notebooks.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky - Day-Night Transitions [movie]
Here's a new trailer that shows off the new Day/Night transitions in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky. As was shown also on a recent press presentation. Pretty cool stuff. Check it out guys. Pretty cool stuff.
Folding @Home GeForce Client Soon to be released
I noticed that some websites already spilled the beans, so let us be the ones to confirm it then. Guru3D right now is in America at an NVIDIA press event. On that event the guys from the Stanford University announced that a Folding @ Home client for NVIDIA GPUs will soon be available, CUDA driven.
An all new upcoming GeForce GPU utilizing this as well is proclaimed to be be three times faster in this application than ATI's Radeon HD 3870. The new GeForce will do slightly more than 500 mol/day, which is three times more than the 170 mol/day of the Radeon HD 3870. To get you an even better perspective ... that's five times more than the 100 mol/day of the PlayStation 3 ! And that thing can crunch data man.
If you didn't do so already, please join team Guru3D and let's fold away some nasty stuff. Our folding @home can be found here:
Our team number is 69411 and if you decide to purchase the soon TBA GeForce product, guys, promise me you'll use it to fold for us!
Hypersonic PC Avenger AG2 Ultraportable
Available in a choice of five colors that include pink and yellow, the Avenger AG2 can be had with traditional hard disk drives with maximum capacities of 250GB or else a 64GB solid-state drive where speed is more important than space. In a relatively unique choice, users can preload Windows XP or Vista but also buy the system without any operating system to install Linux or their own choice of software. The laptop weighs just over 1.8 Kilogram / 4 lbs.
A bare-bones AG2 starts at $1,054, and will start shipping on June 6.
- Up to Intel
Alienware refreshes Area-51 ALX with 4GHz CPU
Dell's Alienware segment has refreshed its top-of-the-line gaming PC, the Area-51 ALX. At the center is the option of a quad-core, 3.2GHz Core 2 Extreme processor, overclocked for even greater performance to 4GHz; to avoid corresponding overheating problems, Alienware has equipped all ALX computers with liquid cooling. Motherboards, meanwhile, can now be configured with up to 4GB of 1,600MHz Corsair DDR3 RAM.
Cooling may be particularly important in tandem with new video options, which give buyers the choice of two Radeon HD 3870 X2 cards in ATI's CrossFireX SLI mode, or two GeForce 9800 GX2 cards in Nvidia's Quad SLI format. Prices for the new ALX configurations are extremely high, however, beginning at $6,159 or $185 per month, and yes, that's without the inclusion of a monitor or speakers.
Valve laughs at gaming doomsday predictions
Shacknews recently had an interview with Valve pimp daddy Doug Lombardi who laughs in the face of PC gaming death:
Shack: Do you guys ever get tired of the same old "PC Gaming Is Dying" stories?
Doug Lombardi: I mean, I think, we sort of laugh at it. Because we've been wildly successful--we're very fortunate, you know. Our games have all done really, really well, Steam has taken off and become this whole other business for us, Valve has never been in better shape--and yet everybody is talking about how in the PC world, the sky is falling. And we're like, we've been doing this for 10 years now--actually 12 years since the company started, 10 years since the first game came out--and we've never been in better shape, financially or otherwise. The company is over 160 people now--it was 20 people when we shipped Half-Life. We've got multiple projects going--we were always a one-project-at-a-time group.
We don't understand why that story gets traction over time. I think people have finally started to clue in to the fact--there was a story last week where people finally looked at the online subscription revenues for WoW and all the things that look like WoW, and realized, wow, there was a butt-load of cash being made here that wasn't being counted at the register, at retail, in North America, which is where all these stories come out of. NPD, god love 'em, they release a US retail sales report, and people take that and say that's the world picture. And it's just not true.
Cooler Master UCP 900W 88.14% efficiency
Forgive me for being little sceptic ... however Cooler Master is the first PSU maker that has a power supply above 300W with a 80 Plus Silver rating. Most new PSUs have a 80Plus Bronze rating which means they have an efficiency between 82% and 85% but new Cooler Master Ultimate Circuit Protection (UCP) 900W power supply has a silver rating which means it has an efficiency from 87% and up 90%.
Power supplies who have an efficiency starting from 80% will get the standard certificate.
For those who can manage to reach an efficiency starting from 82% and at least 85% will get the Bronze award. And then there is also the until now almost impossible to reach Silver award that needs at least an efficiency starting from 85% and up to a minimum of 90%! And until now it's still an utopia that a power supply reaches the Gold award with an incredible efficiency starting from 87% and up 90%.
VIA Introduces EPIA M700 Mini-ITX Motherboard
VIA Technologies announced theif VIA EPIA M700 Mini-ITX board, the first to feature the VIA VX800 chipset, for digital signage and retail display systems.
Available in two versions, the VIA EPIA M700 uses either a 1.5GHz or fanless 1.0GHz VIA C7 processor, depending on system performance, size and thermal requirements, and supports up to 2GB of DDR2 system memory. The VIA EPIA M700 leverages the multimedia performance of the VIA VX800 unified chipset with its VIA Chrome9 HC3 integrated DirectX 9.0 graphics core and up to six-channel VIA Vinyl HD Audio surround sound, while the VIA Chromotion video engine provides hardware video acceleration for MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV9, VC1 and DivX video, plus a VMR capable HD video processor.
The VIA EPIA M700 boasts two PCI-Express based Gigabit LAN ports to facilitate wideband data transfer for large video and other files over networks.
As well as a front panel DVI port, pin headers for an additional DVI or HDMI port through a daughterboard are also included, as is support for 18-bit TTL displays. Digital video input is available through pin headers supporting CCIR
Area-51 ALX with 4GHz overclock
Maxis co-founder confirms Oddworld return
Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee (which came before the most recent Oddworld title, Stranger's Wrath) was one of the titles used to show off the next-gen abilities of the first Xbox, and Braun talked up a "revolutionary new 3D animation system" to be utilised in the new game, too.
"The rendering tools are getting so good now for 3D animation that you can literally create a linear animation and create a video game using the exact same objects," said Braun. "The tools are finally getting to the level where we can come out with a show and we can come up with a game." No gameplay details or platforms were specified.
Don't hold your breath though; according to the Cord Weekly report, a "slow and measured production schedule" means that the arrival of the game is years away.
MGS4 Has 90-Minute Cutscenes
We know the Metal Gear Solid series is
famous for its long cut-scenes, but this tops everything! Metal Gear
Solid 4, the latest instalment in Hideo Kojima's seminal stealth
series, has cut-scenes (note the plural) that approach the 90 minutes mark.
For those troubled with time keeping, that's the length of a feature film.
The news comes from PSW magazine, who's been and finished MGS4, and then promptly whispered in our ears about the shocking 90-minute cut-scenes. The latest issue hits newsstands today, by the way.
We were expecting long story sequences (MGS2 approached the 45 minute mark in one) but an hour and a half of cinematics was unexpected.
The good news is that you can now skip or pause the scenes. Hands up though, how many of you are actually going to sit through the full 90 minutes?
"MGS4's story is massive. The videogame equivalent of all three Godfather movies on one disc," says the mag.
"As you'd expect, you'll spend a lot of time watching cut-scenes, so if you found previous games' story exposition laborious, then you'd better find yourself a nice cushion and plenty of teabags in readiness for MGS4's.
"They can be skipped, but you'll be missing out on some of the finally crafted examples of FMV footage anywhere in gaming," the article boldly proclaims.
3DMark Vantage Build 1.0.1 Hotfix download
Futuremark issued a pending hotfix for 3DMark Vantage today. Bringing it up to version 1.01
I have made a mirror from where you can download the binary. Later, likely tomorrow I'll have the full version of Vantage updated as well. Yet currently I'm in the USA and my internet access is pretty limited, but the 15 MB patch will be sufficient as well as it includes the entire update.
The hotfix updates the following:
- Off-line score viewing is now available in the Advanced Edition.
- Score save / submit saved options are now available in the Advanced Edition.
- Ad banners have been removed from all editions.
- Added a "SEND ERROR" button to error messages; clicking this will send detailed error information to Futuremark for better bug tracking and fixing. No personally identifiable information will be sent or stored.
The hotfix fixes the following:
- An issue preventing valid serial key entry in some cases has been fixed.
- An issue causing "boost::filesystem::create_directory" error message after registration has been fixed.
- Added a check and error message for hardware that is not DX10 capable.
- Improved detection of supported resolutions so that CPU test minimum requirement (1280x1024) is now taken into account correctly.
- Fixed an issue where pressing the ESC key during CPU test loading screen, the user would be taken to a score view with score -1.
- The entire 3DMark Vantage application is now elevated to Administrator rights, rather than only the SystemInfo component. This will ensure more robust SystemInfo and benchmark functionality, and fixes the "pop-behind" elevation dialog.
- Fixed an issue that sometimes caused "WM_QUIT" error messages.
- Post-processing scale is now displayed correctly in the UI for the Extreme Preset.
- Fixed an issue that could cause resolution switches at test runtime.
Download hotfix: click here