Some of the biggest breakthroughs in future tech revolve around some of the smallest materials on Earth. Even calling these technologies "micro" is magnitudes of measure larger than their actual tiny sizes. From the nano-scaled heat transfer of Nanowick Cooling down to the single atomic-level of Graphene and Quantum Computing, our white papers will help you wrap your head around the maximum potential of these miniscule technologies.
Wires. Cords. Cables. Coils. Lines. Connectors. Whatever you call 'em, you've probably got plenty of them running between various pieces of beloved hardware. In this wired, wired world of ours, we rely on various cables and connectors to get our technology working in sync, to provide us with internet, with data, with everything from a picture on a display to power. But how many of us really know what's going on in those twisted strands?
To that end, we present to you three common connection technologies - explained, unveiled, and detailed so that you're well versed with the inner workings of your interfaces.
Read on to get the goods on HDBaseT, USB 3.0 and Light Peak!
The development of PC display technologies over the last 30 years has taken us through many chapters: from IBM, the creator of the IBM PC, pioneering color display technologies (and ceding development to third-parties ATI, 3dfx, and nVidia); to the quest to provide both sharp text and colorful graphics; through the ever-increasing size of displays; to LCD flat panels overtaking TV-type CRTs; the move to 3D graphics rendering and, currently, to 3D viewing. Here's a brief history of these and other milestones in PC graphics history.
Windows Live Essentials 2011, now available in a public beta, is the local client component of Microsoft Windows Live, a collection of programs and web services. WLE 2011’s components include photo editing and organization (WL Photo Gallery), video editing (WL Movie Maker), email and calendar (WL Mail), instant messaging and social media (WL Messenger), blogging (WL Writer), cross-platform file synchronization and Windows remote access (WL Sync), and web and IM filtering (WL Family Safety). Before the public beta was released in late June, Windows Live Essentials 2011 was known as Windows Live Essentials Wave 4. In this article, you’ll learn what new and improved features the latest WLE wave brings with it.
You can’t swing a dead Na’vi without hitting a new 3D display product these days. Three-dimensional imaging was actually invented in the 1800s, and has been used sporadically in movies since the 1920s, but James Cameron’s sci-fi epic Avatar is bringing it into the mainstream.
Now that 3D is less of a gimmick, TV manufacturers are beginning to incorporate the technology into their products. Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony all announced new 3D TVs at CES this past January. And Avatar could be the best thing to happen to Nvidia and Zalman in their efforts to sell PC gamers on their respective videocards and 3D displays. Market research firm DisplaySearch projects that annual sales of 3D-ready monitors will grow from 40,000 units in 2009 to 10 million by 2018.
So, given that at least some early adopters will buy a 3D display in due time, it’s worth knowing how this visual trickery works. Knowledge is power in the world of upgrading.
Competing technologies may use different implementations, but all 3D video is based on stereoscopic imaging: An illusion of depth is created by presenting a slightly different image to each eye. Each image is of the same object or scene but from a faintly different perspective. Your brain then synthesizes the two images into a spatial representation. The most common 3D applications depend on the viewer wearing either active eyewear (e.g., liquid-crystal shutter glasses) or passive eyewear (e.g., linearly or circularly polarized 3D glasses).
The performance of an LCD monitor ultimately depends on how its liquid crystals are manipulated to channel light. We’ll examine the three most common technologies: Twisted Nematic (TN), In-plane Switching (IPS), and Vertical Alignment (VA).
Each of these three technologies creates a pixel using a cell of liquid-crystal molecules controlled by a thin-film transistor. Liquid crystals are used because they’re capable of effecting light as though they’re a solid, while exhibiting the malleability of a fluid. In a color LCD, each pixel is subdivided into three cells, or subpixels, which are colored red, green, and blue, respectively, by additional filters. These cells are arranged in a matrix of rows and columns sandwiched between two panes of glass, with a polarizing film on the exterior side of each pane.
A light source, such as a cold cathode fluorescent lamp or an LED grid, is placed behind the first glass panel. Light waves from the backlight follow the alignment of the liquid-crystal molecules, but they must pass through the two polarizing filters before reaching the surface of the display. Light waves must be oriented perfectly parallel to the first filter to pass, but since the second filter is oriented perpendicular to the first, no light will pass unless it’s reoriented first.
Batteries are everywhere. They’re in our phones, mice, cars, laptops, game machines, controllers, remotes, cameras—you name it. Battery technology influences the design, capabilities, and feature set of nearly everything portable, from laptops and cell phones to hybrid and electric vehicles.
Most of the batteries in our lives are rechargeable, and our more eco-aware world is quickly replacing standard alkaline AA and AAA batteries with rechargeable equivalents. Still, few people know how all these batteries work or how to best take care of them.
We’re going to focus on common rechargeable battery types, but before we get into that we should cover a few basics about how batteries work and go over common terms.
Though solid state drives have existed for years, it is only recently that they’ve gained any sort of market penetration for average users. As we stated in our February 2009 white paper on the subject, solid state drives offer many advantages over traditional magnetic drives. Unlike mechanical hard drives, SSDs have no moving parts, so they draw less power and produce no vibrations. They’re also more resistant to physical shock. And most importantly, solid state drives offer much higher read and write speeds than traditional hard drives—at least when they’re new. Due to their NAND flash architecture, SSDs can suffer serious slowdowns once they run out of fresh blocks to write to. The TRIM command, found in Windows 7 and newer releases of the Linux kernel, aims to fix this. But what is TRIM, and why is it even necessary?
Organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs, are often touted as the next big thing in display technology, offering brighter colors, true black, lower power consumption, and better off-axis viewing than traditional LCD screens. They’ve popped up in gadgets from high-concept to mundane: The infamous Optimus Maximus keyboard, for example, utilizes many tiny OLED screens in its programmable and customizable keycaps, and both Sony’s new X-series Walkman and Microsoft’s new Zune HD have OLED screens. OLED technology has made great strides in the past 10 years, and cheaper and better manufacturing processes mean they’ve started appearing in everything from media players to phones to high-definition televisions—even keyboards. But what are OLEDs?
Designing and manufacturing a modern CPU is a huge project. It requires both backward compatibility and an understanding of where PC workloads are going in the future—a delicate balancing act made more difficult by the huge engineering staffs and massive dollar outlays involved. Let’s take a look at the steps needed to build a Core i7 or AMD Phenom II processor.
Before the manufacturing plant starts churning out chips, there are a few critical preliminary steps. Prior to the first circuit being laid out or the first simulation run, the designers need to know exactly what it is they’re designing. This phase takes input from many sources. Marketing gets involved, with predictions of what users will need when the CPU actually ships, usually two to four years in the future. Engineering and performance teams feed in billions of traces of actual applications being run on current-gen CPUs, so the designers can see how existing CPUs perform under real-world conditions.
Continue reading about the CPU production process after the jump.