Considering that the use of fossil fuels isn’t getting any more efficient, it’s refreshing to see that solar power has been making some very noticeable advances as of late. Currently it runs about 15-20 cents per kWh, but coal power only costing 1.5-2.5 cents per kWh and nuclear being in the similar range, it’s clear that it still has a ways to go.
Thanks to a milestone announced by UNSW’s ARC Photovoltaic Centre of Excellence this week, it looks like that’s on its way down. They revealed the world’s first 25 percent efficient unconcentrated solar silicon cells, only shortly after they were given the previous record with 24.7 percent efficient silicon cells. Unfortunately, they missed out on the other three tenths due to misunderstandings of sunlight’s effect on silicon.
The Centre’s silicon cell is well on its way to the 29 percent mark, which is the theoretical maximum efficiency for a first generation photovoltaic solar cell. The new research is a huge boost “because our cells push the boundaries of response into the extremities of the spectrum,” according to Dr. Anita Ho-Baillie, head of the Centre’s high efficiency cell research group, “Blue light is absorbed strongly, very close to the cell surface where we go to great pains to make sure it is not wasted. Just the opposite, the red light is only weakly absorbed and we have to use special design features to trap it into the cell.”
Moore’s Law (which states that the maximum number of transistors on a given chip area doubles every one and a half years) has been a driving force in the hardware industry, and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change. Some of the industry’s biggest names are dumping money, time and effort with the goal of extending this, with the goal of pumping out some über hardware.
There are concerns already ahead, with companies like IBM, AMD and Intel all looking to move ahead to 32nm, problems with controlling light at ultra low nanometer resolutions are looming ahead. But, thanks to research from the University of California Berkeley that wall could crumble, and usher in a new generation of ultra-tiny transistors, and even a brand new type of drive that could end up replacing Blu-ray.
UC Berkeley’s Xiang Zhang and David Bogy, both professors of mechanical engineering took a new approach that uses a metal arm similar to that of a record turntable or a hard drive, and utilizes a tiny lens that quite literally flies over the chip wafer. This would allow designs that are being made at 80nm wide to become much smaller. And even still, with the wafer being spun at 12 meters per second, production would be fast. "Utilizing this plasmonic nanolithography, we will be able to make current microprocessors more than 10 times smaller, but far more powerful. This technology could also lead to ultra-high density disks that can hold 10 to 100 times more data than disks today," said Professor Zhang.
What’s more, the new tech has the potential of being cheaper than what we’ve got now. 45nm technologies are expensive thanks to complex lens and mirror setups required to concentrate the light that’s required to read data. This new method, called photolithography, would only have one costly component, which would be a plasmonic lens. The rest of the components would be run of the mill, and drop costs dramatically.
It’s expected that you’ll be seeing this breakthrough in your very own drives relatively soon. Professor Zhang states, "I expect in three to five years we could see industrial implementation of this technology. This could be used in microelectronics manufacturing or for optical data storage and provide resolution that is 10 to 20 times higher than current Blu-ray technology."
Dell has added the second product to its netbook lineup. The Dell Inspiron Mini 12 is now available in Japan, but will only appear on American store-shelves by the end of next month. The Inspiron Mini 12 is essentially a high-end netbook with its starting price nearly touching $600.
Although its name suggests that it is a netbook, its 12.1” screen – rather expansive for a netbook – tells a different story altogether. The Inspiron Mini 12 features an Intel Atom processor (1.3 GHz Z520 or 1.6GHz Z530), up to 80GB hard drive, 1 GB of RAM, Bluetooth and WiFi. It weighs 2.72 lbs and is less than 1 inch thick.
Straight out of the “not as awesome as it sounds” file, Intel is looking to cool your laptop with the exact same technology that a jet engine does. The issue of burning legs (that’s right, burning legs) has been an issue on the mind of Intel for some time now, and they’re looking to soothe that with their latest breakthrough.
Intel has been focusing on the increasing issue of hot thighs with something called Laminar Flow. Laminar Flow occurs when a fluid or gas/air flows in parallel layers, allowing a non-turbulent way to misdirect hot air away from the surface of a jet engine (or laptop). As demonstrated, this technology allows efficient cooling of temperatures upwards of 1,000 °C.
A demo of this technology was given at this week’s Intel developer forum in Taiwan by Mooly Eden, Intel’s head of Mobile Platforms Group. “We are licensing it to our customers so they can keep making thinner and thinner laptops,” said Eden.
Intel is going to update its Montevina notebook PC platform in April, 2009 with the introduction of the Montevina Refresh platform, according to a DIGITIMES report, which cites unnamed sources within Intel. The launch of the platform will be accompanied by two new processors, the Core 2 Duo T9900 and P8800.
Intel also plans to unveil its GM47 chipset for high-end notebooks in first quarter of next year. Entry-level and small form factor (SFF) PC will also not be over looked, as Intel will launch the GL43 and GS40 chipsets in July or August.
A deluge of new processors for the Centrino 2 platform are soon going to be made available by the world’s leading chip maker. Also, the GM55 chipset for Intel’s upcoming 6th generation Centrino platform, Calpella, will become available in July or August next year.
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.
Last week we looked at the financial results for AMD which reported a fairly positive financial outlook. Even though the company was still losing money, they had managed to bring loses under control and investors were most likely hoping Q4 2008, or Q1 2009 would see the chip maker return to profit. These hopes are slowing being dashed by new market share numbers which according to Mercury Research saw AMD’s total share drop to 17.7 percent. This is a drop from 18.8 percent in the second quarter, and a huge plunge from 25.3 percent they enjoyed in the fourth quarter of 2006.
According to Mercury a large contributor to AMD’s drop is the shift from desktop processors to mobile. For the first time, shipments of mobile parts have exceeded their desktop counterparts in the CPU market. A market where Intel is extremely dominate. AMD drastically needs to improve innovation in the laptop arena if it is to slow Intel who is posting record breaking revenues. The processor market on a whole grew 13.3 percent and according to researchers, seems to be somewhat immune to the chaos in the financial markets. AMD managed to bring about a modest increase in the server and notebook markets but this is more the result of the market growth rather than share gains. AMD’s stock price has dropped to $3.03 in afterhours trading, down from its 52 week high of $13.80.
Do you think AMD can bounce back? Hit the jump and let us know.
Though I’m willing to bet the Maximum PC core demographic differs somewhat from that of the Oprah Winfrey show, oddly she has done something worth mentioning. The TV celebrity took the opportunity on Friday to do some heavy plugging of the Amazon Kindle. Oprah claims the gifted Kindle she received this summer “has changed her life”. Some might down play the significance of this endorsement, but the popularity of Oprah’s book club is often enough to catapult relatively obscure titles all the way to the New York Times Bestseller list seemingly overnight. Heck, new studies have shown even a simple nod from the celebrity will be enough to net Barack Obama an additional one million votes. Winfrey who was joined by Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos described the gadget as “pricy” but “environmentally friendly”. The endorsement does come with a fringe benefit however. A $50 price break is offered when using the promotional code OPRAHWINFREYduring checkout. So if you’ve been waiting for a price drop before you pick up a Kindle this brings the device down to a modest $309.00 USD until November 1st 2008.
So while I’m willing to bet Oprah isn’t the primary reason our readers will pick up a Kindle, has anyone else made the switch from paperbacks? Let us know what you think of the Kindle.
The instant-on system will let users access key applications and data without actually booting the machine. If Jeff Clarke, senior vice president and general manager of Dell Product Group, is to be believed the technology will also be energy-efficient as it will provide limited access to the system without engaging the CPU.
RAID 5 users anxiously awaiting the debut of 2 TB drives to help build massive storage array’s may want to think twice before taking the plunge. An in-depth look into the underlying problems with massive storage RAID5 configurations suggests that s a single drive as redundancy might not cut it anymore. SATA drives carry a specified unrecoverable read rate of 10^14. This might sound like a huge number, but it basically tells us that any array in excess of 11.37 TB will contain at least one unrecoverable read. In the case of a RAID 5 rebuild, this can be catastrophic.
Hit the jump to learn why RAID 6 won't help you, and to see what the future holds.