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.
According to Jon Peddie Research (JPR), the graphics market performed extraordinarily well in the third quarter, which bodes well for the upcoming holiday shopping season. How well? Graphics processors spiked 21.2 percent over the second quarter,, which JPR says was already strong to begin with.
"A total of 119.45 million units were shipped in the third quarter, exceeding the record 111 million units that shipped in third-quarter 2008," said Jon Peddie, president of JPR. "So the market has caught up with, and exceeded, last year's highs. The crash of fall 2008 is now behind us."
AMD fared particularly well with on-quarter growth at 30 percent. Intel wasn't far behind, noting on-quarter growth of 25.2 percent on shipments of 63 million units, or twice as many as Nvidia, its nearest competitor.
And these weren't all integrated graphics, either. According to JPR, "integrated graphics in notebooks, including netbooks, increased 27 percent over the second quarter -- a great gain, but less than discrete."
MSI has so far been pretty quiet about its plans to enter the increasingly crowded e-book market, instead letting others steal the spotlight. Maybe not for long, based on what we just found out. According to MSI chairman Joseph Hsu, the company is developing an e-reader built around Nvidia's Tegra platform.
Sounds promising just on that tidbit alone, but unfortunately, we won't see anything from MSI in time of the holidays. There are still some kinks to be worked out, so MSI has decided to hold off until the first half of 2010 to divulge any more details. Bummer.
The timing might not be terrible for MSI. It's true that rival Asus also plans to release an e-book reader in the near future, but first run batches will be limited and aimed at charities. Consumer models aren't expected to ship until the first quarter of 2010. Plus, tapping into Tegra could potentially turn out to be a huge advantage for MSI, particularly when pitted against grayscale e-book readers like the one Asus is working on.
There’s very little to differentiate one netbook from another these days. Manufacturers are basically just putting different enclosures around the same hardware. That’s largely a result of restrictions placed on netbook specs by Intel and Microsoft. With the upcoming Atom N470 (Pineview), the spec requirements will be lifted a bit, but they’ll still be there.
Currently, netbooks are limited to 1GB of RAM in most instances. When the N470 is released around March 2010 that limit will be raised to 2GB. Manufacturers will also be able to include a 32GB solid state drive if they so choose. Intel boldly pointed out that they could totally put Intel’s Moblin OS on them too… no pressure though.
While it’s nice to see some movement here, is it anywhere near enough? Don’t most users that want more RAM just add it anyway? So, good news, or just plain depressing?
Lenovo continues to flesh out its line of Windows 7 powered PCs, this time by adding a handful of IdeaPad laptops and IdeaCentre desktops built around the newly released OS.
On the mobile front, Lenovo unveiled a trio of laptops -- IdeaPad Y550P, U150, and U550 -- with the Y550P probably being the most appealing to power users. Why? Because it's the only one of the bunch to use Intel's Core i7 platform. Like the Y550, the U550 also comes in a 15.6-inch form factor, but drops things down a notch with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor. And the U150 is aimed at the ultra-portable crowd. As such, it measures just 13.5mm thick and weighs a little under 3 pounds.
None of the new desktops sports Intel's Nehalem architecture, but the Lenovo H230 does make a strong pitch to penny pinchers. Starting at $300, Lenovo says consumers will have a range of HDD and DDR3 configurations to choose from. Those looking for a bit more oomph can step up to the K300, which is built around Intel's Core 2 Quad platform and includes an option for RAID. Rounding out the desktop solutions is the B500 all-in-one, which is also built around Intel's Core 2 Quad line.
Already a major force in the mobile PC market, Asus said it expects to ship 16 million notebooks and netbooks combined in 2010. That would be four million more than it shipped in 2009, but there's plenty of room for growth, suggests company president and CEO Jerry Shen, who predicts that global notebook shipments will balloon from 140 million units in 2009 to 180-190 million units in 2010.
The lofty goal is part of Asus' bigger objective, which is to position itself firmly as one of the world's top-three notebook vendors by 2011. Towards that end, Asus has already shifted roughly 30 percent of its popular Eee PC netbooks to Windows 7, which Shen says will be the primary driving force for notebook growth.
While the Eee PC line is Asus' bread and butter, the company also expects its ultra-thin lineup to grow in popularity and account for 20 to 30 percent of all its notebook shipments in the first half of 2010.
Shen also talked about his company's plans for the fast-growing e-reader market. According to Shen, Asus will soon launch its 9-inch grayscale e-book reader, although at first the focus will be on cooperating with a Taiwan-based charity organization. A consumer version is expected to follow suit perhaps as early as the first quarter of 2010 and be built around the same 9-inch grayscale panel.
And what about 3D notebooks and dual-booting Android netbooks? These are both areas Shen said Asus is taking a conservative approach.
Even we have to admit that in this economy, you have to be thankful if you’re not still driving a Pentium 4 rig. Still, for budget buyers today, the choice usually doesn’t get much better than a dual-core machine that takes overnight to encode video and a GPU that can’t push pixels downhill.
Fortunately, it’s no Pentium Dual-Core or Celeron that CyberPower opts to stick you with. Instead, CyberPower reached into its parts bin for Intel’s brand-new, budget badass: the $200 2.66GHz Core i5-750. This chip is like Chuck Norris in a bar fight: It not only wipes the floor with Phenom II X4, it commits a little fratricide against its Core 2 Quad and Core 2 Duo siblings, too.
To this Two-Buck Chuck, CyberPower adds what is definitely not a budget part: Nvidia’s fastest videocard in the form of EVGA’s GeForce GTX 295. At the foundation is Gigabyte’s new GA-P55-UD5 and 4GB of Kingston DDR3/1600. Storage is left to a 1.5TB Seagate Barracuda and a Samsung 22x DVD burner. A Cooler Master V8 cooler and Scout case complete the package.
Maybe not next year, or even the year after, but sometime in the not too distant future, mainstream storage duties are destined to make the jump from mechanical hard drives to flash-based SSDs, right? Not according to a new study published in a recent issue of IEEE Transactions on Magnetics. Not only are hard drives in it for the long haul, but the cost to storage ratio will shrink dramatically, the study suggests.
Some would argue it already has, but study authors Professor Mark Kryder and PhD student Chang Soo Kim of Carnegie Mellon University predict that by the year 2020, a two-disk, 2.5-inch HDD with 14TB of storage capacity will run a mere $40. And if that weren't enough to keep mechanical storage media relevant into the next decade and beyond, the duo also suggest that flash memory technology will run into technical roadblocks that will halt its continued scaling before 2020.
Hit the jump to find out why even the study's authors were surprised at their findings.
Tilera today announced its new TILE-GX line of processors, including the TILE-Gx100, the world's first 100-core CPU. According to Tilera, the 100-core part offers the highest performance of any processor on the planet by at least a factor of four.
"The launch of the TILE-Gx family, including the world's first 100-core microprocessor, ushers in a new era of many-core processing. We believe this next generation of high-core count, ultra high-performance chips will open completely new computing possibilities," said Omid Tahernia, Tilera's CEO.
While the 100-core part is not meant to run Crysis (so please don't ask) or any other desktop application, it does offer 10 times the performance per watt as Intel's fastest Nehalem-based server chips. Assuming Tilera can convince customers to switch from Intel and Texas Instruments, The TILE-Gx100 will likely end up in data centers powering cell phone network equipment and cloud computing ventures.
Tilera says its 100-core chip will start shipping in Q4 of this year.
AMD recently announced a bunch of new processors, including its first triple-core Athlon II chip, and coming soon, the CPU maker will also release a tri-core part for notebooks, Fudzilla says.
Planned as part of the Danube platform, the upcoming Phenom II triple-core N820 mobile processor will essentially be a quad-core part with one of the cores disabled. It will carry a 35W TDP and come packed with 1.5MB of total cache split into 512KB per core. It will also boast DDR3-1333 support, an HT speed of 3.6GT/s, and AMD-V support.
It's not yet known how fast the part will come clocked, nor is there any word on a projected release date or price point. But if AMD plays its cards right, the mobile Phenom could prove awfully tempting for consumers who want to step up from a dual-core platform but lack the ducats to go quad. Or it could force Intel's hand at lowering the price of its mobile Core 2 Quad chips. Either way, notebook shoppers stand to win.