Researchers at Georgia Institute of technology have devised a new "bottom-up" self-assembly technique to overcome technical difficulties that had rendered more efficient silicon-based anodes impractical. The current crop of batteries only feature anodes made from graphite.
But the new technique uses “nanotechnology to fine-tune its materials properties,” allowing silicon-based anodes to be more stable inside the battery, and thereby paving the way for “a ten-fold capacity improvement over graphite.” Not only will the new technique improve the storage capacity of Li-ion batteries manifold, but such batteries will also last much longer.
"Development of a novel approach to producing hierarchical anode or cathode particles with controlled properties opens the door to many new directions for lithium-ion battery technology," said Gleb Yushin, an assistant professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "This is a significant step toward commercial production of silicon-based anode materials for lithium-ion batteries."
Nvidia has been talking up their new Optimus system as of late. An Optimus enabled notebook will be able to seamlessly switch between a low power integrated GPU to a higher power dedicated GPU. The power savings are said to be significant, nearly doubling rated battery life. Optimus can do this by completely powering off the GPU when using the on-board. To prove this, Nvidia went ahead a pulled the GPU from a running computer causing no interruption.
The real trick of Optimus is that the switch will happen automatically whenever the GPU is needed. For example, if you use the GPU acceleration in Flash 10.1 and open a Youtube video, the GPU would turn on to render the video. Close the Window, and the GPU powers down. This demo is meant to stress that when an Optimus system turns off the GPU, it is totally electrically off.
We’re excited about the possible energy savings this system could bring. Switchable graphics in notebooks have long been available, but poorly implemented. If Optimus is really as seamless as Nvidia makes it look, count us in.
Toshiba’s Portégé M700 line has been in need of a refresh for some time, and since it’s been raining mobile Core i7 CPUs lately, they decided to throw one of those in. The addition of the Core i7 620M makes the Portégé M780 a very desirable tablet machine. We don’t have all the details yet, but the specs seem solid.
In addition to the aforementioned Core i7 we will likely see 4GB of RAM, a 12.1in 1280x800 LED display, Intel HD graphics, 320GB 7200RPM hard drive, and 802.11n. The system should also have support for multitouch gestures and Wacom pen input. A cheaper Core i3 version should be available for $1279, while the speedier Core i7 model will go for $1799.
The convertible tablet form factor seems to be coming along nicely with the ThinkPad X201 already out. Is anyone in the market for one of these? Decided on which one yet?
Lenovo has introduced three new value systems rocking AMD CPUs and graphics. The C315 is a stylish little all-in-one set up, and the G445 and G555 are laptops. Lenovo is making no mistake about the message here. “Our new G series notebooks and C series all-in-one desktop are designed for users who want a simple but powerful computing experience without any headaches,” said Lenovo’s Dion Weisler.
The C315 will have a fairly large 20 inch widescreen display with touchscreen technology built in. It will have an Athlon dual-core CPU, 4GB of RAM, and ATI Radeon Mobility graphics. At $649, this isn’t a bad deal at all. It’s sort of a budget HP TouchSmart machine.
The laptops look like nice values as well. Both will have 16:9 widescreen displays and Turion II dual-core CPUs. Radeon HD graphics are, of course, also on board. Lenovo did not detail what specs would differentiate the two units, which makes us curious as they both have the same MSRP of $449. Keep an eye on this if you're looking for a deal on a system and power isn't tops on your list.
The Intel Core 2 ULV processors have seen widespread usage in the “thin and light” category, but their days may be numbered. According to an unconfirmed report, Intel will be releasing a faster low voltage dual core version of the Core i7 this summer. This makes it clear that Intel is continuing to move past Core 2, even at the low end. The model number of the new CPU is expected to be 660UM, and it should run at 1.33GHz.
This chip will replace the 1.2 GHz 640UM. Both chips support 800MHz DDR3 memory, and consume only 18W of total power. This is largely thanks to the integrated graphics which are capable of stepping down to a 166MHz clock speed when not needed. The chip will still have hyperthreading allowing it to run up to four processes. No exact release date is known.
If you’re anything like us, you’re hankering for some SuperSpeed USB, also known as USB 3.0. Adoption slowed after Intel’s decision to hold off on 3.0 until 2011, but now we’re hearing about the first Dell laptop to ship with the fabled ports. The Dell Precision M6500 will have USB 3.0 as well as new Core i5 CPU options, some of them dual-core.
The professional level notebook was previously only available with USB 2.0 ports and a Core i7. The machines will also come equipped with a 3.2-megapixel webcam and 64GB SSD mini card support. This means the M6500 will be able to run in a three hard drive configuration. A 3G modem, 17in screen, and Nvidia Quadro graphics round out the package.
The previous version was going for nearly $2800. No word yet on pricing for this model. Does this mean machine interest you at all?
It may have taken a long while for Apple to finally introduce the iPad, but now that it has, expect every other tech company to try and cash in on the tablet mania. Everyone except Acer, that is.
According to Acer Taiwan president Scott Lin, the always confident and frequently outspoken OEM isn't planning on tossing its hat into the tablet ring and going toe-to-toe with the iPad. Instead, Acer is content to focus on ultra-thin notebooks in 2010.
It's not that Acer couldn't build a tablet, says Lin, The issue, he says, is that such a product doesn't have a place in Acer's business model. Not only that, but Acer appears to have little interest in designing an online store similar to Apple's iTunes ecosystem to support a tablet device.
The big question then becomes, 'What kind of impact will the iPad and similar devices have on the ultra-thin notebook and netbook markets?' And the answer, according to Lin, is not very much, since they each target different consumer groups. Whether or not that's really the case, we'll find out as 2010 marches on.
The new Core i5 and Core i7 mobile CPUs are already finding their way into some products. Panasonic has announced that the Japanese version of the Toughbook laptops, known there as Lets Note, will be getting some speedy new Nehalem-based processors. The new rugged (and a little ugly) offerings will come in four flavors.
The S9, N9, and F9 will have a Core i5-520M CPU. Screen sizes range from 12.1 inches (S9 and F9) up to the 14.1 inch screen on the F9. This screen will probably look quite nice with a resolution of 1440 x 900. The real gem here is the R9 model which will have a Core i7-620M, 250GB HDD, and 2GB of DDR3 RAM crammed into a chassis the size of a netbook. A 10.1 inch screen with that kind of power makes for a desirable ultraportable computer.
A Japanese launch is scheduled for February 17th. No word on if these PCs will find their way here. If you were able to get one of these, what would you pay for it?
As PC games continue their eternal march onward, many a laptop is left in the dust shockingly fast. What’s usually holding them back is the poor graphics solution. Even laptops with dedicated cards find themselves unable to run newer games inside of a year. A new AMD product called ATI XGP could solve all that. The AMD 5000 Series Mobility External GPU would provide the power for a real 3D gaming experience.
The new cards will require a full PCI-e pinout, which isn’t currently standard. However, the existence of MiniPCI-e means this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The new system was demoed on an old Acer Ferrari running a Radeon X1270. The difference was quite clear. The external GPU was able to run Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. on a triple monitor system using the Eyefinity system.
The external box itself has one DVI connector, one HDMI, three display port, two USB 2.0 ports, and a 35W power adapter. No word yet on when you’ll be able to get a laptop that supports ATI XGP, but keep an eye out.
For as long as netbooks have existed, people have been buying more and more of them. More than 33.3 million netbooks will have shipped by year’s end, amounting to a 103 percent increase over last year. Revenue will be up about 72 percent indicating some price cuts. But according to DisplaySearch, as laptops with ultra low voltage (ULV) CPUs become cheaper, netbook sales will slow considerably.
They project netbook shipments to only grow by about 20 percent next year. Still, the situation can’t be bad when 20 percent growth is a big drop. As ULV laptops creep below $500, consumers will begin purchasing them in larger numbers. ULV computers have similarly good battery life, but better performance than netbooks running Atom chips.
The report also suggests that the uptick in ULV sales will likely mean manufacturers will take a revenue hit of only 1% or so. While netbooks will remain big sellers, they probably won’t have another year like 2009.