It’s a change that makes sense, and is probably long overdue. The current formatting standard for hard drives is a legacy from floppy disks--formatting in blocks of 512 bytes. This makes for a lot of wasted hard drive space, when error correction and block gaps are tallied in. Given the amount of space that can be wasted on a 1TB drive with 512 byte blocks, it’s time for a change.
The new standard, promulgated by the International Disk Drive Equipment and Materials Association (Idema), which all hard drive makers have committed to adopting, is a 4K block. Besides an eight-fold reduction of the amount of unused space, this standard doubles the amount of error correction per block. Hard drive makers can squeeze out more storage capacity on the same size hardware. Steve Perkins, a technical consultant for Western Digital, estimates the format to be about 7 percent to 11 percent more efficient.
Windows 7 (and Vista), along with Apple’s Tiger, Leopard, and Snow Leopard versions of OS X, and all builds of Linux released after September 2009 are 4K aware--they can handle the new formatting standard, no problem. But XP can’t. It’s stuck, permanently, in the 512 byte block world. Hard drive manufacturers know this, so they have built in emulation for the 512 byte block size. The emulation, however, can result in slower performance. David Burks of Seagate anticipates a 10% drop in performance for XP users.
It’s not a big hit, to be sure, but it is a start. With hardware development on-going, and XP frozen in time, it’s not a matter of if XP will become obsolete, but when. That day, to the possible chagrin of some XP users, may be sooner than they'd like.
Vint Cerf, former program manager for the U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), co-designer of the Internet's TCP/IP protocols, and who many consider the father of the Internet, is now engrossed in cloud computing and wants to see data portability standards put into place.
"At some point, it makes sense for somebody to say, 'I want to move my data from cloud A to cloud B,' but the different clouds do not know each other," Cerf said during a session of the Churchill Club business and technology organization in Menlo Park, California. "We don't have any inter-cloud standards."
Cerf also talked about cloud security, noting that strong authentication will be a critical element in the securing of clouds. And in a nod towards Google, Ceft endorsed the idea of opening access to "white spaces" as a way to expand broadcast access, Networkworld.com reports.
You may not have to suffer through proprietary charging connectors on cell phones much longer. We’ve been hearing rumblings for a few months now that the industry may settle on the humble micro-USB as a standard for charging. A UN body, The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), has now approved the proposal.
One of the main reasons for making this move is the fact that 51,000 tons of unnecessary chargers are produced each year. If there was a single standard, consumers could take a charger with them from phone to phone. No word yet on how Apple would deal with this. Their proprietary dock connector has a rich ecosystem of accessories that would be hard to leave behind. Bundling an adapter maybe?
Malcolm Johnson, director of ITU Standards Bureau, said in a statement, “This is a significant step in reducing the environmental impact of mobile charging.” It will not be required for phone makers to adopt the new standard, but some have already signed on.
It may even be possible to see support for WebGL in native WebKit browsers in as little as 6 months. Safari and Chrome are probably on the forefront of this technology, as they are based on WebKit. Firefox, while based on the Gecko engine, has an extension capable of displaying a WebGL 3D canvas. As for Internet Explorer, don’t hold your breath. Microsoft still has yet to implement HTML5, let alone upcoming technologies.
Researchers at Singapore’s Nanyang Technology University (NTU) and Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) have developed a low-temperature co-fired ceramic (LTCC) antenna for use in the unlicensed 57 - 64 GHz millimeter-wave bands. The development has paved the way for instantaneous wireless USB file transfers. It has the potential to replace Bluetooth as the preferred technology for nearby remote data exchanges.
SIMTech’s AIP (antenna in package) is not only economical but also practical per se. IEEE (Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, Inc.) is busy devising standards for applications for the unlicensed 60 GHz band.
We’re willing to bet that a lot of readers of the Max PC blog have experience with building or maintaining web sites. If you have, then we’re also willing to bet that you’ll be interested to know that the early results of a study conducted by Opera examining the composition of some 3.5 million web pages have been published, and Ars Technica has posted an analysis of the findings.
Among the more interesting information to be gleaned from the study, only 4.13% of websites passed the W3C’s standards validation test, and only 50% of sites sporting standards compliance badges were actually valid. Ryan Paul at AT suggests that “This could indicate that many sites which are initially designed with valid HTML later cease to be valid as changes are made and new content is added.”
The study also examined which HTML tags people are using, which rich web content people are using the most (hint: it’s Flash), and a whole bevy of other statistics about how people are writing the web.
There’s way too much information to cover in one blog post, so if you’re interested, go check out the results for yourself and let us know what you think.
SSDs are the hottest trend in storage, but how long will an SSD last? Right now,there's no industry standard for longevity or reliability. However, Cnet reports that Seagate and JEDEC are working together to establish a standards-based method for determining those factors.
Seagate isn't alone in working with JEDEC, the standards body responsible for standards in the solid-state industry. Earlier this year, X-bit Labs reported that JEDEC's JC-64.8 committee, which is responsible for developing SSD standards for embedded and removable storage, is being co-chaired by Micron Technologies and Seagate.
Micron brings its experience in memory technologies, while Seagate brings its experience in drive reliability to the endeavor. As Cnet reports:
Seagate says it can tap into the decades of expertise it has in error correction. "Some of the skills we've picked up along the way, to deal with imperfect media, has applicability to dealing with imperfect media on NAND."
Seagate's own SSDs won't hit the market until 2009, but hopefully its work with JEDEC to set standards for reliability will help make all SSDs more reliable.
So, what do you think? Will Seagate's presence on the JEDEC committee responsible for SSD standards make this latecomer to SSDs the one to trust when product finally hits the street? Or, are you ready to use SSDs right now? Join us after the jump for your chance to sound off.
Their initiative that is aimed at speeding up the adoption of cloud computing amongst enterprises was announced at Oracle OpenWorld 2008 the conference in San Francisco. They will be focusing on developing standards for cloud computing. They also intend to make clouds more secure and efficient. Everyone is heading for the clouds!