Daily News Brief: Meet Britain's Fastest Supercomputer


Britain Unveils Supercomputer

What ranks as one of the most powerful computers in Europe, Britain unveiled HECToR (High-End Computing Terascale Resource), a supercomputer with the power of 12,000 desktop PCs. At peak, HECToR is capable of operating at around 60 teraflops, and is expected to increase to 250 teraflops by October 2009 . Scientists will use HECToR for a variety of research, from climate change to new medicines, to studying ocean currents and making warplanes less detectable by radar. The 113 million pound rig is housed in 60 wardrobe-sized cabinets near at the University of Edinburgh.

XBox 360 Most Reliable Console?

The XBox 360's Red Ring of Death was well publicized and affected many customers with a failure rate perhaps as high as 33 percent, ultimately prompting Microsoft to extend system warranties to 3 years. Looking longer term, that experience may be also be the driving force behind Bill Gate's latest comments regarding the console. In an BBC Video interview, Gates made it be known that it's now Microsoft's goal to make the XBox 360 " the most reliable console ." He'll get some help in that department in August when the console moves to a 65nm GPU (codenamed Jasper).

Japan Waves Goodbye to PS2 Backwards Compatibility

While Microsoft gears up for an identity overhaul of their XBox 360 console, Sony's Playstation 3 will undergo an identity change of their own in Japan. Effective at the end of this month, Sony Japan plans to discontinue the 20GB and 60GB Playstation 3 units, and instead focus solely on the 40GB model. Doing so also means an end to backwards compatibility with PS2 titles, as the PS3 is not equipped to play last generation games.

Netflix Offers All-You-Can-Watch Online Buffet

Putting further competitive pressure on Blockbuster, who recently raised online rental subscriber rates for the second time in four months, Netflix said they will offer subscribers unlimited access to streaming movies and TV shows. Previously, subscribers were allotted a time limit based on their service plan, but those restrictions are now being lifted with no extra charge.

MySpace Reaches Deal to Fight Sexual Predators

Several sites are reporting that MySpace.com and at least 45 states reached an agreement to add extensive measures in the fight against child predators, which will include several online protections and the participation in a working group to develop age-verification. In addition to structural changes, the Associated Press reports MySpace has also agreed to accept independent monitoring.

Click It, Don't Clip It

Attention shoppers: Get ready to click instead of clip . Some supermarket chains have started experimenting with digital coupons, giving shoppers the ability to load online advertised discounts onto their store loyalty cards, which would get scanned at checkout. The new model saves grocers the cost of printing, mailing, and handling paper coupons, and could potentially build customer loyalty. Annual savings from clipping coupons is estimated to be in the $3 billion range, even though most coupons go unclipped with a redemption rate as low as 1 percent.

Toshiba Slashes HD-DVD Player Pricing

Warner Bros. put the squeeze on HD-DVD when the studio announced they would no longer support the suddenly struggling format, leaving many to believe victory in the high definition war is in sight for Blu-ray. Not yet ready to throw in the white flag, Toshiba today launched an aggressive price slashing campaign to bolster the HD- DVD format. Pricing on some players dropped 50 percent, with others seeing significant reductions:

  • HD-A3 - Was $299.99, now $149.99
  • HD-A30 - Was $399.99, now $199.99
  • HD-A35 - Was $499.99, now $299.99
In addition to price cuts, Toshiba is gearing up for an extended campaign of TV, print, and online advertising. So for the time being, the war continues to wage on.

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