The Catalyst 10.7 drivers for graphics cards isn't the only piece of software AMD released this week. The chip maker also announced its OpenGL ES 2.0 driver, the first driver for desktops to support WebGL, which is designed to bring plug-in free 3D graphics to the Internet.
"AMD is a steadfast supporter of industry standards, including those that unlock the power of GPU acceleration," said Manju Hegde, corporate vice president, AMD Fusion Experience Program. "At AMD, we see the future of computing as being intensely visual, requiring a variety of rich media 2D and 3D applications. With functionality like the OpenGL ES 2.0 driver and technology breakthroughs made possible by AMD Fusion APUs, we aim to deliver the ideal development platform for immersive experiences both online and natively on virtually any PC form factor."
In addition to porting 3D to the Web, AMD's new driver also makes it possible for software developers to use desktop PCs and workstations powered by AMD graphics when creating apps based on OpenGL ES 2.0 for smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices, AMD said.
Apple (Safari), Google (Chrome), Mozilla (Firefox), and Opera (Opera Software) are all contributors of the WebGL Working Group.
The memory standards committee known as the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association announced the publication of JEDEC DDR3L, which the association says will enable a significant reduction in power consumption for a boatload of products that utilize memory, including laptops, desktops, servers, networking systems, and a a range of digital devices.
Those of you donning your detective caps might have guessed that the "L" in DDR3L stands for "Low Voltage," and you'd be right. Devices that adhere to the new standard will operate from a single 1.35V power supply voltage compared to 1.5V in existing devices, JEDEC said.
DDR3L-based memory devices will consume 15 percent less power compared to standard DDR3 (sometimes more), and a whopping 40 percent less than standard DDR2, all without taking a performance hit. The upshot here is longer battery life and cooling running devices.
As details of AMD's Hudson D1 -- the southbridge the chip maker will launch in tandem with its upcoming dual-core 32nm Fusion processors -- begin to trickle out, one thing still up in the air is how USB 3.0 will factor in. According to whispers among some notebook makers, there's a good chance AMD will integrate USB 3.0 into Hudson.
We won't have to wait very long to find out. The Hudson D1 chipset is expected to debut in the fourth quarter of 2010 and will primarily target ultra-thin notebooks and netbooks. USB 3.0 is somewhat of a rarity so far on mobile PCs, and with Intel taking its sweet little time pushing the SuperSpeed spec, something like this could give the Sunnyvale chip maker a leg up in a segment mostly served by Intel.
While nothing is yet decided, there's reason to believe AMD will get this done. AMD is already tapping into NEC to outfit its desktop boards with USB 3.0, and extending that relationship over to notebooks shouldn't be overly challenging.
Score a victory for Joe Consumer, who according to the U.S. government, is fully within his legal right to unlock his iPhone, or any other mobile phone, without having to look over his shoulder for Johnny Law. Not that Apple or anyone else would ever go crying to the cops for trivial matters (wait a tick), but it doesn't matter now anyway.
Federal regulators approved a bunch of new exemptions to a federal law that prohibits circumventing technical measures companies put into place to prevent unauthorized use of copyrighted material. Apple has always taken the position that jailbreaking is an unauthorized modification of its software and violates copyright law, but under the new regulation, iPhone owners are within their legal right to unlock their mobile device and install third-party apps.
Regulators also approved the practice of unlocking cell phones to use on an unapproved carrier, another practice that already exists (scores of iPhone owners roll with unlocked phones on T-Mobile's network, even though the iPhone is available exclusively through AT&T) and is now out of the legal gray area.
The latest ATI driver package -- Catalyst 10.7 -- adds a handful of new features and a spattering of performance improvements, as well as a bunch of bug fixes, AMD says.
Several tweaks were made with Eyefinity users in mind. For example, maximizing a window across displays will now take user defined bezel compensation into account. The new drivers automatically adjust window position when dragging and dropping windows to ensure title bar visibility, and Eyefinity users will now benefit from proper dialog box placement -- they're no longer hidden behind bezels.
Other notable features include GPU acceleration of H.264 content when using VLC 1.1.1, CrossFireX support for rotated displays, and enhanced pull-down detection.
Hit the jump to see what else Catalyst 10.7 brings to the table.
Twitter hasn't yet figured out how to rake in the big bucks like other social networking outfits, but one idea that will never fly is trying to charge users for the right to microblog, a new study suggests. Not only would such a business model fail, the study says, but it would fail miserably, with zero percent of those surveyed saying they would be willing to pay for Twitter.
"Such an extreme finding that produced a zero response underscores the difficulty of getting Internet users to pay for anything that they feel they already receive for free," said Jeffrey I. Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
"Twitter has no plans to charge its users, but this result illustrates, beyond any doubt, the tremendous problem of transforming free users into paying users," said Cole. "Online providers face major challenges to get customers to pay for services they now receive for free."
Advertising is another way Twitter could bring in revenue, and one users are more receptive to than paying outright for a service.
"Users express strong negative views about online advertising, but they still prefer seeing ads as an alternative to paying for content," Cole added. "Consumers really want free content without advertising, but ultimately they understand that content has to be paid for -- one way or another."
The annual report touches on a number of online topics, which you can read here (PDF).
While we sit and wait for downloadable and streaming content to fully replace optical media, Sony, with the help of some talented folk at Tohoku University, is already working on the next iteration of Blu-ray. Those involved say that by harnessing a blue-violet laser, a disc could come crammed with up to 50 full-length movies or an entire TV series.
"This latest successful development is an all-semiconductor laser picosecond pulse source with a laser wavelength of 405 nanometers (1nm = one billionth of a meter) in the blue-violet region," Sony explains. "It is capable of generating optical pulses in the ultra-fast duration of 3 picoseconds (1 picosecond = one-trillionth of a second), with ultra-high output peak power of 100 watts and repetition frequency of 1GHz."
We love it when companies talk all geeky to us, and there's plenty of nerd-speak in the full press release. Put into plain English, this latest blue-violet laser is more than a hundred times stronger than the world's highest output value for conventional blue-violet, and barring any setbacks, will succeed the current Blu-ray format in the coming years.
Acer, the second biggest PC vendor on the planet, is taking its aggressively styled Predator gaming PC line north of the border with the introduction of the AG7750-E2112.
"Designed to conquer and destroy, the Aspire Predator boasts a rugged, intimidating chassis as well as super power and speed," said Susan Hu, retail desktop product management for Acer Canada. "It's a smoking hot gaming rig delivering eye-popping graphics and dynamic audio for a jaw dropping experience that will fire up even hard core gamers. Plus, plenty of room for future upgrades will assist gamers in their quest to reign supreme in the new world order."
Settle down Hu, we build Dream Machines, remember? But we will admit that Acer's latest Predator barges into Canada with plenty of power, albeit for a fist full of moosebucks. Starting at $1,800 CAD (about $1,750 USD), the AG7750-E2112 comes armed with an Intel Core i7 920 processor, 9GB of DDR3 memory, Nvidia GeForce GTX 470 videocard, and a 1TB hard drive. Supplementary ammo comes in the form of 11 USB 2.0 ports, a pair of eSATA ports, two Ethernet ports, two DVI ports, HDMI, multi-card reader, lighting effects, and other odds and ends.
Interestingly, the U.S. version packs a slightly bigger punch with an Intel Core i7 930 chip and 1.5TB of hot-swappable storage. It also costs a little bit more with a starting price tag of $2,000.
The AG7750-E2112 is available now at "technology and electronics retailers" in both the U.S. and Canada.
Elpida Memory is well known among the home consumer crowd, but that might change in the coming months. The Japanese DRAM maker this week expanded an alliance with Spansion, the former flash venture between Fujitsu and AMD, and plans to start selling its own branded NAND flash memory products.
"The alliance with Spansion and the licensing of Spansion NAND IP enable Elpida to develop advanced NAND products which, when combined with our leading DRAM products, allows us to better service markets including cellular handsets and digital consumer," said Yukio Sakamoto, president and CEO of Elpida, in a statement.
Venturing into NAND flash memory is somewhat of a new venture for Elpida, which up to this point has focused primarily on DRAM-related products, such as memory for PCs and servers, and memory chips for graphics boards and mobile products.
At this point in the game, we're all aware of what trick Apple's "magical" tablet can't perform -- Flash, reading from a USB drive, multitask -- but shortcomings aside, the iPad is finding a significant fan base in the enterprise environment. This is particularly true over at AT&T, which obviously has a vested interest in the iPad's success, so much so that the company is seriously considering trading in work-issued laptops for iPads.
And it's not just AT&T that's warming up to the iPad. According to AT&T chief financial officer Richard Lindner, businesses in general are showing more interest in Apple's tablet than they did with the iPhone.
"When we first introduced the iPhone, businesses and ICOs of our businesses customers were reluctant," Lindner said during a conference call. "They kind of pushed back on bringing the iPhone into their infrastructure. Over time, that has changed dramatically."
Contrast that with the iPad, which Lindner says is being welcome with open arms right from the get go.
"One thing that's been encouraging and a bit surprising is the level of interest from business customers," Lindner added. "Right from the beginning with the iPad we've had a number of our business customers express interest."
Lindner isn't alone in his assessment. As Apple tells it, about half of the Fortune 100 companies are currently "deploying or piloting" the iPad.