According to a new Pike Research report released this week, governments and industry leaders around the globe will spend some $200 billion on smart grid technologies between 2008 and 2015.
"Smart meters are currently the highest-profile component of the smart grid, but they are really just the tip of the iceberg," says managing director Clint Wheelock. "Our analysis shows that utilities will find the best return on investment, and therefore will devote the majority of their capital budgets, to grid infrastructure projects including transmission upgrades, substation automation, and distribution automation."
While the term 'smart grid' sounds like a single entity, it actually refers to a number of technologies designed to automate and digitize management of electrical power. According to Pike Research, automation is expected to account for 84 percent of the $200 billion being spent, compared to 14 percent for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and 2 percent for electric vehicle management systems.
Hynix today announced what it claims are the industry's first 2Gb (gigabit) GDDR5 chips using the 40nm manufacturing process. Boasting 7Gb/s of bandwidth and processing power of up to 28GB/s with a 32-bit I/O, these rank as the highest density graphics memory available.
But it's not all about sheer speed. Hynix says its new 2Gb chips also impress on the power consumption front. With an operation voltage of 1.35V, energy consumption drops down by 20 percent over previous parts built on 50nm technology, the company claims.
Hynix will begin mass producing the new chips in the second half of next year to coincide with increased demand for high-performance graphics memory.
Installing LED traffic lights may have sounded like a good idea when first proposed -- after all, LEDs consume 90 percent less energy than the incandescent bulbs being replaced -- but some city planners who made the switch are now wishing they could take a mulligan. Why? Apparently the bulbs just don't burn hot enough to melt snow and can become covered in a storm.
"I've never had to put up with this in the past," said Duane Kassens, a driver from West Bend who got into an accident because he couldn't see the lights. "The police officer told me the new lights weren't melting the snow. How is that safe?"
The simple answer is, it's not safe. More than just a paper problem, snow-covered traffic lights have already been blamed for dozens of accidents and at least one death. During a storm in April, 34-year-old Lisa Richter saw she had a green light and made a left turn. But a driver coming from the opposite direction didn't realize the stoplight was obscured by snow and ended up ramming into Richter's vehicle, fatally injuring her.
Several states are testing out possible solutions, including weather shields, adding heating elements, and coating lights with water-repellent substances.
Toshiba today reached another milestone by launching a 64GB embedded NAND flash memory module, which ranks as the highest capacity yet achieved in the industry.
The 64GB part serves as the flagship chip in a new line of six embedded NAND flash memory modules, including 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB capacities. Each one offers full compliance with the latest e*MMC standard and are designed with a variety of consumer electronics in mind, such as digital video cameras, smartphones, mobile phones, and even netbooks.
On the technical side, the 64GB embedded devices combines sixteen 32Gb (gigabit) NAND chips fabricated with Tosbhia's 32nm manufacturing process. It also contains a dedicated controller
If you thought Apple's iPhone and Motorola's Droid were slick, wait until you see what the smartphones of tomorrow might be capable of. That is, if Synaptics' FuseTM concept take off.
FuseTM is a collaborative mobile phone concept that integrates "for the first time" multiple interface technologies, including 3D graphics, capacitive multitouch, haptic feedback, and force, grip, and proximity sensing, Synaptics says.
Some of the technological tricks the company envisions is grip sensing by way of capacitive touch sensors on the sides of the phone, which would streamline certain controls such as pan and scroll; 2D navigation from the back of the phone, which Synaptics says enables single-handed control without blocking the display; and 3D graphics with haptic effects.
"Consumers have many options when it comes to choosing a smartphone, and though many phones are loaded with applications to simplify one's life, they often accomplish just the opposite," said William Stofega, research manager for mobile device technology and trends at IDC. "Synaptics partnering with innovative industry leaders to deliver an intelligent concept device that has the consumers' lifestyles in mind will help showcase the true potential of the smartphone."
You can view a short YouTube video demonstration of the Fuse concept here.
There's isn't likely to be another dot-com bubble, but according to a report in the Financial Times, private technology companies are seeing increased stock market interest in initial public offerings (IPOs) for the first time in more than two years, some venture capitalists say.
The sudden interest is being led by Facebook, as well as Amazon recently gobbling up Zappos for $850 million, and Google acquiring AdMob for $750 million.
"Zappos was probably going to be the biggest IPO of the year in 2010," said Chris Varelas, founder of Riverwood Capital, a private equity firm specializing in tech.
Faysai Sohail, a partner at CMEA Capital, a Valley venture capital firm, says that up to 100 companies now have "hundreds of millions in revenue and profitability and are ready to file." And it's not hard to believe. As FT.com notes, the number of companies that filed their intention to go public with the Securities and Exchange Commission ballooned to 31, which is the highest its been since the financial crisis.
It seems like we're constantly hearing about promising battery technologies that could ultimately lead to longer battery life, more power, and smaller units, but as of yet, that big breakthrough hasn't occurred. Maybe nanotechnology, which is the current hot topic in the battery innovations field, will prove to be different.
Right at this moment, a ton of research is being put into carbon nanotubes (CNTs) for a bunch of uses, including electronics and batteries. Researchers are drawn to CNTs because, according to them, carbon nanotubes are near perfect. That has paved the way for a professor and a UC San Diego graduate student to discover a breakthrough that involves introducing purposeful defects into CNT structures. By doing so, the 'defective' CNTs actually work better for the development of super capacitors, DailyTech reports.
"While batteries have large storage capacity, they take a long time to charge; while electrostatic capacitors can charge quickly but typically have limited capacity. However, super capacitors electrochemical capacitors incorporate the advantages of both," Professor Prabhakar Bandaru said.
The duo also discovered that other methods, such as bombarding CNTs with argon or hydrogen, could also increase or decrease the charge capacity. In the end, the two researchers believe that their discovery could ultimately lead to electronics that charge faster and last longer than what's available today.
Christine Lindberg, a Senior Lexicographer for Oxford’s U.S. dictionary program says the word “has both currency and potential longevity. Lindberg notes “most “un-” prefixed words are adjectives (unacceptable, unpleasant), and there are certainly some familiar “un-” verbs (uncap, unpack), but “unfriend” is different from the norm. It assumes a verb sense of “friend” that is really not used (at least not since maybe the 17th century!).” Unable to resist the pun, Lindberg adds: “Unfriend has real lex-appeal.”
Other new technology-generated words in competition for the award were “hashtag,” “intexticated,” “netbook,” “paywall,” and “sexting.”
So much in life is unknowable. Will the economy rebound? Hard to say. Will oil prices skyrocket? Maybe, maybe not. Will Brangelina add to their brood? Frankly, we don’t care. But one thing’s for sure: Technology is ever-changing and each year guarantees new advances for the PC user.
As we do every year around this time, we got on the horn with our industry contacts—experts in their respective fields—and pressed them for details about what new and exciting hardware power users can look forward to in 2010. Some of what we learned was expected (SATA speeds will double), some came from out of left field (six 30-inch panels on a single videocard?!), and some just plain make sense (like a Nehalem chip for the masses).
Read on to find out how your personal computing landscape stands to be altered in the year ahead.
We've been hearing about optical computing and quantum computers for some time now, but for the most part, it's been theoretical talk and 'gee-whiz wouldn't that be cool?' chatter. No longer the case, an optical computer has performed its first ever calculation.
The calculation in question consisted of finding the prime factors of 15. It did this by coupling four photons into and out of the chip using optical fibres. The photons carried the input for the calculation and then implemented a quantum program called Shor's algorithm to complete and output the answer (3 and 5, if you're playing along at home). That might not sound very impressive, but it marks a significant step towards creating a quantum computer.
"This task could be done much faster by any school kid, but this is a really important proof-of-principle demonstration," said PhD student Alberto Politi from the University of Bristol.