Portables

Getting Charged Up Over Chargers at CES (Video) 23

Posted by Roblimo
from the slip-me-some-of-that-juice-Bruce dept.
First we look at Skiva Technology and their Octofire 8-port USB charger that pulled in nearly five times the requested amount from a Kickstarter campaign. (The 'pulled in X times the requested Kickstarter amount' is becoming a common product boast, isn't it?) Then, for MacBook owners who are tired of having their chargers or charger cords break, we take a brief look at the Juiceboxx Charger Case. These two power-oriented products and WakaWaka, which we posted about on January 9, are just a tiny, random sample of the many items in this category that were on display at CES 2015. Timothy was the only Slashdot person working CES, so it's shocking that he managed to cover as many (hopefully interesting) products as he did, considering that even the biggest IT journo mills don't come close to total coverage of the overwhelming muddle CES has become in recent years. (Alternate Video Link)
Bug

NVIDIA GTX 970 Specifications Corrected, Memory Pools Explained 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the under-the-hood dept.
Vigile writes Over the weekend NVIDIA sent out its first official response to the claims of hampered performance on the GTX 970 and a potential lack of access to 1/8th of the on-board memory. Today NVIDIA has clarified the situation again, this time with some important changes to the specifications of the GPU. First, the ROP count and L2 cache capacity of the GTX 970 were incorrectly reported at launch (last September). The GTX 970 has 52 ROPs and 1792 KB of L2 cache compared to the GTX 980 that has 64 ROPs and 2048 KB of L2 cache; previously both GPUs claimed to have identical specs. Because of this change, one of the 32-bit memory channels is accessed differently, forcing NVIDIA to create 3.5GB and 0.5GB pools of memory to improve overall performance for the majority of use cases. The smaller, 500MB pool operates at 1/7th the speed of the 3.5GB pool and thus will lower total graphics system performance by 4-6% when added into the memory system. That occurs when games request MORE than 3.5GB of memory allocation though, which happens only in extreme cases and combinations of resolution and anti-aliasing. Still, the jury is out on whether NVIDIA has answered enough questions to temper the fire from consumers.
Cellphones

Modular Smartphones Could Be Reused As Computer Clusters 72

Posted by samzenpus
from the build-your-own dept.
itwbennett writes The promise of modular smartphones like Google's Project Ara is that buyers will be able to upgrade components at will — and now Finnish company Circular Devices has come up with a use for discarded computing modules, which they're calling Puzzlecluster. Drawings of the Puzzlecluster architecture show a chassis with slots for the reused modules, which can then be interconnected with others to create the cluster. Just one unit could also be used as a desktop computer."
Graphics

Ask Slashdot: GPU of Choice For OpenCL On Linux? 102

Posted by timothy
from the discriminating-tastes dept.
Bram Stolk writes So, I am running GNU/Linux on a modern Haswell CPU, with an old Radeon HD5xxx from 2009. I'm pretty happy with the open source Gallium driver for 3D acceleration. But now I want to do some GPGPU development using OpenCL on this box, and the old GPU will no longer cut it. What do my fellow technophiles from Slashdot recommend as a replacement GPU? Go NVIDIA, go AMD, or just use the integrated Intel GPU instead? Bonus points for open sourced solutions. Performance not really important, but OpenCL driver maturity is.
Mars

NASA Considers Autonomous Martian Helicopter To Augment Future Rovers 83

Posted by timothy
from the imperial-probe-droid dept.
SternisheFan (2529412) writes with this story at the Verge about an approach being considered by NASA to overcome some of the difficulties in moving a wheeled or multi-legged ground vehicle around the surface of Mars, which has proven to be a difficult task. Rover teams still have a tough time with the Martian surface even though they're flush with terrestrial data. The alien surface is uneven, and ridges and valleys make navigating the terrain difficult. The newest solution proposed by JPL is the Mars Helicopter, an autonomous drone that could 'triple the distances that Mars rovers can drive in a Martian day,' according to NASA. The helicopter would fly ahead of a rover when its view is blocked and send Earth-bound engineers the right data to plan the rover's route.
Space

Europe and China Will Team Up For a Robotic Space Mission 39

Posted by timothy
from the actually-the-robots-are-pulling-the-strings dept.
Taco Cowboy writes with this excerpt from Space.com: On Monday (Jan. 19), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the European Space Agency (ESA) issued a call for proposals for a robotic space mission that the two organizations will develop jointly. "The goal of the present Call is to define a scientific space mission to be implemented by ESA and CAS as a cooperative endeavor between the European and Chinese scientific communities," ESA officials wrote in a statement Monday. "The mission selected as an outcome of the present Joint Call will follow a collaborative approach through all the phases: study, definition, implementation, operations and scientific exploitation." The call envisions a low-budget mission, saying that ESA and CAS are each prepared to contribute about 53 million euros (U.S. $61.5 million at current exchange rates). The spacecraft must weigh less than 661 lbs. (300 kilograms) at launch and be designed to operate for at least two to three years, ESA officials wrote in the call for proposals. All proposals are due by March 16, and the peer-review process will start in April. Mission selection is expected to occur in late 2015, followed by six years of development, with a launch in 2021.
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Where Can You Get a Good 3-Button Mouse Today? 420

Posted by timothy
from the hiding-with-the-egg-cream dept.
guises writes Ever since mouse wheels were introduced the middle mouse button has been sidelined to an inadequate click-wheel function, or in some cases ditched altogether. This has never sat well with me, a proper middle button is invaluable for pasting, games, and navigation. More than that, my hand categorically rejects two button mice — the dangling ring finger causes me genuine physical discomfort. I have begged Logitech on multiple occasions to make just one, among their many screwy specialty mice, to replace the Mouseman which I loved so dearly. I thought for a moment that I had been answered with the g600, only to find that they had put the right mouse button in the middle.

So my question to Slashdot is: where does a person turn for a three button mouse these days? I've only found two, both ergonomic and priced accordingly. I use the Contour and like the shape and wheel position, but would love to find something wireless and with a higher DPI sensor.
Bug

NVIDIA Responds To GTX 970 Memory Bug 145

Posted by timothy
from the can't-remeber-why-you'upset dept.
Vigile writes Over the past week or so, owners of the GeForce GTX 970 have found several instances where the GPU was unable or unwilling to address memory capacities over 3.5GB despite having 4GB of on-board frame buffer. Specific benchmarks were written to demonstrate the issue and users even found ways to configure games to utilize more than 3.5GB of memory using DSR and high levels of MSAA. While the GTX 980 can access 4GB of its memory, the GTX 970 appeared to be less likely to do so and would see a dramatic performance hit when it did. NVIDIA responded today saying that the GTX 970 has "fewer crossbar resources to the memory system" as a result of disabled groups of cores called SMMs. NVIDIA states that "to optimally manage memory traffic in this configuration, we segment graphics memory into a 3.5GB section and a 0.5GB section" and that the GPU has "higher priority" to the larger pool. The question that remains is should this affect gamers' view of the GTX 970? If performance metrics already take the different memory configuration into account, then I don't see the GTX 970 declining in popularity.
Power

At Oxford, a Battery That's Lasted 175 Years -- So Far 210

Posted by timothy
from the ceaseless-tintinnabulation dept.
sarahnaomi writes There sits, in the Clarendon Laboratory at Oxford University, a bell that has been ringing, nonstop, for at least 175 years. It's powered by a single battery that was installed in 1840. Researchers would love to know what the battery is made of, but they are afraid that opening the bell would ruin an experiment to see how long it will last. The bell's clapper oscillates back and forth constantly and quickly, meaning the Oxford Electric Bell, as it's called, has rung roughly 10 billion times, according to the university. It's made of what's called a "dry pile," which is one of the first electric batteries. Dry piles were invented by a guy named Giuseppe Zamboni (no relation to the ice resurfacing company) in the early 1800s. They use alternating discs of silver, zinc, sulfur, and other materials to generate low currents of electricity.
Google

Google Just Made It Easier To Run Linux On Your Chromebook 168

Posted by timothy
from the danger-in-keeping-that-little-fulcrum-in-place dept.
TechCurmudgeon writes A story in PCWorld's "World beyond Windows" column outlines coming improvements in Chrome OS that will enable easily running Linux directly from a USB stick: "Have you ever installed a full desktop Linux system on your Chromebook? It isn't all [that] hard, but it is a bit more complex than it should be. New features in the latest version of Chrome OS will make dipping into an alternative operating system easier. For example, you'll be able to easily boot a full Linux system from a USB drive and use it without any additional hassle!"
Hardware

Quantum Computing Without Qubits 81

Posted by samzenpus
from the making-it-work dept.
An anonymous reader shares this interview with quantum computing pioneer Ivan Deutsch. "For more than 20 years, Ivan H. Deutsch has struggled to design the guts of a working quantum computer. He has not been alone. The quest to harness the computational might of quantum weirdness continues to occupy hundreds of researchers around the world. Why hasn't there been more to show for their work? As physicists have known since quantum computing's beginnings, the same characteristics that make quantum computing exponentially powerful also make it devilishly difficult to control. The quantum computing 'nightmare' has always been that a quantum computer's advantages in speed would be wiped out by the machine's complexity. Yet progress is arriving on two main fronts. First, researchers are developing unique quantum error-correction techniques that will help keep quantum processors up and running for the time needed to complete a calculation. Second, physicists are working with so-called analog quantum simulators — machines that can't act like a general-purpose computer, but rather are designed to explore specific problems in quantum physics. A classical computer would have to run for thousands of years to compute the quantum equations of motion for just 100 atoms. A quantum simulator could do it in less than a second."
Graphics

NVIDIA Launches New Midrange Maxwell-Based GeForce GTX 960 Graphics Card 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the looking-good dept.
MojoKid writes NVIDIA is launching a new Maxwell desktop graphics card today, targeted at the sweet spot of the graphics card market ($200 or so), currently occupied by its previous gen GeForce GTX 760 and older GTX 660. The new GeForce GTX 960 features a brand new Maxwell-based GPU dubbed the GM206. NVIDIA was able to optimize the GM206's power efficiency without moving to a new process, by tweaking virtually every part of the GPU. NVIDIA's reference specifications for the GeForce GTX 960 call for a base clock of 1126MHz and a Boost clock of 1178MHz. The GPU is packing 1024 CUDA cores, 64 texture units, and 32 ROPs, which is half of what's inside their top-end GeForce GTX 980. The 2GB of GDDR5 memory on GeForce GTX 960 cards is clocked at a speedy 7GHz (effective GDDR5 data rate) over a 128-bit memory interface. The new GeForce GTX 960 is a low-power upgrade for gamers with GeForce GTX 660 class cards or older that make up a good percentage of the market now. It's usually faster than the previous generation GeForce GTX 760 card but, depending on the game title, can trail it as well, due to its narrower memory interface.
Encryption

Researchers Moot "Teleportation" Via Destructive 3D Printing 162

Posted by timothy
from the don't-tell-the-mpaa dept.
ErnieKey writes Researchers from German-based Hasso Plattner Institute have come up with a process that may make teleportation a reality — at least in some respects. Their 'Scotty' device utilizes destructive scanning, encryption, and 3D printing to destroy the original object so that only the received, new object exists in that form, pretty much 'teleporting' the object from point A to point B. Scotty is based on an off-the-shelf 3D printer modified with a 3-axis milling machine, camera, and microcontroller for encryption, using Raspberry Pi and Arduino technologies." This sounds like an interesting idea, but mostly as an art project illustrating the dangers of DRM. Can you think of an instance where you would actually want the capabilities this machine claims to offer?
Media

The Untold Story of the Invention of the Game Cartridge 60

Posted by timothy
from the complete-with-diagrams dept.
harrymcc writes In 1973, an obscure company which had been making electronic cash registers looked for a new business opportunity. It ended up inventing the game cartridge--an innovation which kickstarted a billion-dollar industry and helped establish videogames as a creative medium. The story has never been told until now, but over at Fast Company, Benj Edwards chronicles the fascinating tale, based on interviews with the engineers responsible for the feat back in the mid-1970s.
Robotics

DALER: a Bio-Inspired Robot That Can Both Fly and Walk 14

Posted by timothy
from the sounds-like-the-perfect-babysitting-tool dept.
An anonymous reader writes The issue of how to use one robot across multiple terrains is an ongoing question in robotics research. In a paper published in Bioinspiration and Biomimetics today, a team from LIS, EPFL and NCCR Robotics propose a new kind of flying robot that can also walk. Called the DALER (Deployable Air-Land Exploration Robot), the robot uses adaptive morphology inspired by the common vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus, meaning that the wings have been actuated using a foldable skeleton mechanism covered with a soft fabric so that they can be used both as wings and as legs (whegs).
Open Source

User Plea Means EISA Support Not Removed From Linux 188

Posted by timothy
from the otherwise-the-city-will-be-destroyed dept.
jones_supa writes A patch was proposed to the Linux Kernel Mailing List to drop support for the old EISA bus. However a user chimed in: "Well, I'd like to keep my x86 box up and alive, to support EISA FDDI equipment I maintain if nothing else — which in particular means the current head version of Linux, not some ancient branch." Linus Torvalds was friendly about the case: "So if we actually have a user, and it works, then no, we're not removing EISA support. It's not like it hurts us or is in some way fundamentally broken, like the old i386 code was (i386 kernel page fault semantics really were broken, and the lack of some instructions made it more painful to maintain than needed — not like EISA at all, which is just a pure add-on on the side)." In addition to Intel 80386, recent years have also seen MCA bus support being removed from the kernel. Linux generally strives to keep support even for crusty hardware if there provably is still user(s) of the particular gear.
Medicine

Microbots Deliver Medical Payload In Living Creature For the First Time 41

Posted by Soulskill
from the unless-you-count-star-trek dept.
Zothecula writes: Researchers working at the University of California, San Diego have claimed a world first in proving that artificial, microscopic machines can travel inside a living creature and deliver their medicinal load without any detrimental effects. Using micro-motor powered robots propelled by gas bubbles made from a reaction with the contents of the stomach in which they were deposited, these miniature machines have been successfully deployed in the body of a live mouse.
Robotics

DARPA Wants Atlas Robot To Go Wireless 19

Posted by Soulskill
from the need-mobility-to-kill-all-humans dept.
mikejuk writes: Atlas is a humanoid robot, one of the most advanced in the world. But it's always had cables that provided it with power and made it look a little like a dog on a leash. It was designed to provide a hardware platform for teams competing in the DARPA Robotics Challenge — a competition designed to encourage the construction of an effective disaster response robot. DARPA now says the finals of the challenge later in the year will require that the robots be completely wireless.

Power will be supplied by an onboard 3.7 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. That battery will drive a variable-pressure pump which operates all of the hydraulic systems. The pump makes ATLAS much quieter, but introduces a complication for the teams: it can be run at low pressure to save power and then switched to high pressure to get harder work done. Managing power consumption will be a very difficult task, but DARPA has also upped the prize money to $3.5 million in total.
Intel

First Look At Dell Venue 8 7000 and Intel's Moorefield Atom Performance 19

Posted by Soulskill
from the awful-product-names dept.
MojoKid writes: Dell has been strategically setting-up their new Venue 8 7000 tablet for cameo appearances over the past few months, starting back at Intel Developer's Forum in September of last year, then again at Dell World in November and at CES 2015. What's interesting about this new device, in addition to Intel's RealSense camera is its Atom Z3580 quad-core processor, which is based on Intel's latest Moorefield architecture. Moorefield builds upon Intel's Cherrytrail Atom feature set and offers two additional CPU cores with up to a 2.3GHz clock speed, an enhanced PowerVR 6430 GPU and support of faster LPDDR3-1600 memory. Moorefield is also built for Intel's XMM 7260 LTE modem platform, which supports carrier aggregation. Overall, Moorefield looks solid, with performance ahead of a Snapdragon 801 but not quite able to catch the 805, NVIDIA Tegra K1 or Apple's A8X in terms of graphics throughput. On the CPU side, Intel's beefed-up quad-core Atom variant shows well.
Power

Paris Terror Spurs Plan For Military Zones Around Nuclear Plants 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the also-no-toothpaste-allowed dept.
mdsolar sends this report from Bloomberg: Lawmakers in France want to create military zones around its 58 atomic reactors to boost security after this month's Paris terror attacks and almost two dozen mystery drone flights over nuclear plants that have baffled authorities.

"There's a legal void that needs to be plugged," said Claude de Ganay, the opposition member of the National Assembly spearheading legislation to be considered by parliament on Feb. 5. The proposals would classify atomic energy sites as "highly sensitive military zones" under the control of the Ministry of Defense, according to an outline provided by de Ganay.