The U.S. Defense Department has decided to cautiously reinstate the use of USB thumb drives and other flash storage-based media. Flash storage -- and devices which use them, including memory sticks, digital cameras, media players, PDAs, and more -- were banned last November after thousands of military computers were infected by various malware, most of which was traced back to thumb drives.
That ban will soon be lifted, at least partially. Robert Carey, chief information officer of the U.S. Navy, said in a blog post that only "authorized individuals" are likely to be given permission to use thumb drives, and even then only for "mission-essential functions." And these won't be personal drives picked up off of Newegg or Best Buy.
"The days of using personally owned flash media or using flash media collected at conferences or trade shows are long gone," Carey said.
Instead, the drives will be "government-owned and procured," and will also contain built-in encryption chips that may require both a password and a fingerprint scan to decrypt the data, among other safeguards that are yet to be worked out.
After a flurry of activity in the solid state drive market, it's been comparatively quiet the past few weeks, but we finally have some new developments to report. As you may recall, the controllers used in SSDs can have a significant impact on performance, and Micron thinks it has a winner on its hands with its just-developed JFM612 NAND flash controller chip.
Micron's first controller ran into some pesky performance problems, some of which they fixed with the JMF602B controller. But the initial hiccups left the door open for competitors to step in, like Indilinx did with its Barefoot controller. Like Barefoot, Micron's new chip is able to use 32nm flash chips, which helps lower the cost of SSDs.
After a few initial issues with the new controller, DailyTech reports that Micron has finally begun mass producing JFM612 chips. The first SSDs to utilize them will be Active Media with the launch of their Predator-X7 series. Along with Micron's new controller, the Predator-X7 will come with 128MB of DRAM cache to eliminate any chance of stuttering, and boast sequential read and write speeds of up to 230MB/s and 180MB/s, respectively.
Six months ago, the the Predator-X7 would have been a real barn burner, but it's tough to get too excited over 180MB/s writes anymore. However, more SSDs built around Micron's new controller are on the way, and you can probably expect these to give today's offerings a run for their money.
Corsair on Thursday announced its new 64GB Flash Survivor USB drive, which the company claims is the "most rugged high-capacity flash drive on the market." And by the looks of things, they're probably right.
Encased in CNC-milled, aircraft grade aluminum, Corsair says the new drive is pretty much indestructible. Each unit comes molded in a shock-dampening collar and EPDM seal, providing water-resistance up to a depth of 200 meters. Corsair notes that reviewers have dropped, baked, boiled, microwaved, and even run over the Survivor with an SUV in an attempt to show just how durable the drive really is.
"The new 64GB Flash Survivor takes the industry's most popular rugged USB drive and takes it to the next level, with a huge amount of storage space, plus best-in-class performance," said Jim Carlton, VP of Marketing for Corsair. "The 64GB Survivor is ideal for storing and transporting your music, videos, pictures, and other important files, safe in the knowledge that your data will be safeguarded inside the Survivor's protective shell."
The drive is available now with a street price around $170. To help justify the cost, Corsair says each drive comes bundled with a USB extension cable and dog tags, and comes backed by a 10-year warranty.
SanDisk on Tuesday announced that it has begun shipping flash memory cards based on the company's X4 flash memory technology. Chips built using the new technology hold four bits of data in each memory cell, or twice as many as the cells in conventional multi-level cell (MCL) NAND chips, the company said.
"The development and commercialization of X4 technology represents an important milestone for the flash storage industry," said Sanjay Mehrotra, president and chief operating officer, SanDisk. "Our challenge with X4 technology was to not only deliver the lower costs inherent to 4-bits-per-cell, but to do so while meeting the reliability and performance requirements of industry standard cards that employ MLC NAND."
SanDisk called the shipment of X4 memory a "necessary evolution" for the industry, noting that the technology will result in a cost advantage for consumers.
Remember Chumby, the squishy Internet appliance with a 3.5-inch touchscreen display and WiFi connectivity? Basically a glorified alarm clock, Chumby could also stream news feeds. stock quotes, photos, weather info, and whatever else could be imagined through widgets.
Well, Chumby's back, this time without the squishy exterior and renamed the 'One.' The new model puts a bigger focus on radio features with Pandora support and the ability to access other internet radio stations. And like the original, you can install widgets, of which there are about 1,500 to choose from. The One touts a faster processor, bumping up from 350MHz to 454MHz, but otherwise the specs look to be the same.
Look for the One to retail for about $100 in a month or so.
Ok, we have a confession to make. We beat the whole thing – twice – in the process of writing this article. Sadly (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the in-browser PvZ is only a small hit of the virtual narcotic. With three gameplay modes, 14 levels, and 12 plant types, it’s a tantalizing taste of wild vegetable-on-undead action, but certainly not a full game’s worth.
So it’s great for lunch breaks and other perfectly innocent on-the-job uses, right?
What? You’re going to play when you should be working? No! What are you thinking? Work time is sacred.
SanDisk today announced a new line of Extreme Pro CompactFlash memory cards the company says is designed for professional photographers.
To that end, SanDisk says it has outfitted its new cards with an advanced memory controller capable of boosting read and write speeds up to 90MB/s, or double the performance from previous SanDisk high-end memory cards.
"The new SanDisk Extreme Pro CompactFlash line is the direct result of SanDisk's passion, commitment, and break-through engineering innovation to provide best-in-class flash memory cards for professional photography," said Eric Bone, vice president, retail product marketing.
In addition to raw performance, SanDisk says its Power Core Controller's firmware algorithms and 42-bit ECC engine also ensure data integrity and a longer life through optimized wear leveling.
The new Pro series will be available in capacities of 8GB to 32GB with an MSRP ranging from about $130 to $375.
Earlier this year, Adobe said it will stick to a quarterly relese schedule for security updates, but apparently that isn't nearly enough. According to research published by Trusteer, 79.5 percent of the 2.5 million users of their Rapport security service still run a vulnerable version of Adobe Flash and 83.5 percent run a vulnerable version of Acrobat.
"Two weeks after Adobe released a critical patch for Flash and Acrobat Reader our research shows that almost 80 percent of Internet users are still vulnerable. This is the biggest security hole on the Internet today and the failure of Adobe to address it in a timely manner is extremely troubling," Trusteer wrote in its report.
Trusteer was critical of Adobe's update mechanism, saying that while Adobe's Flash site identified machines that weren't running the latest version of Flash, it failed to issue a notification that the system is at risk and "did not strongly urge that the update be installed."
Read the full report in PDF form here, and trade in that bloated Acrobat Reader for a leaner alternative here.
Last week, Corsair announced its new 128GB Voyager flash drive, a super-capacious thumb drive with a super-high price tag ($400). At the exact opposite end of the spectrum, OCZ today announced a new line of USB flash drives, dubbed Zee, aimed at users on a tight budget.
"Designed for the consumer on the go, the compact Zee is an economical USB drive that makes it easy to transfer images, multimedia, and essential data between multiple computers," commented Alex Mei, CMO of OCZ. "The Zee is designed to be affordable to the complete range of consumers, and is available in large capacities up to 16GB yet is both lightweight and compact so that it is highly portable."
In addition to 16GB, the Zee is also offered in 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB capacities. Other details remain sparse, including rated transfer speeds, price, or availability.