Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have created a method to calculate how different degrees of strain affect electronic structures in silicon. Sound confusing? Well, truthfully it is, but it could soon bring you new CPUs that produce much less heat and use less power.
Today’s strained silicon is very limited. This is mostly caused by the techniques that are in place to create it, and the physics of strain (which still haven’t been fully mapped out). But, thanks to a team of dedicated researchers led by Max Lagally, the Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at UW-M, this is all about to change.
The creation process, which previously didn’t always provide a uniform stretch of the silicon across the surface of the chip, has been drastically changed thanks to the research of Legally’s team. Having mapped out the effects of strain on electric structures in silicon, they finally understand why there are drastic increases and decreases in electron mobility from sheet to sheet. This will allow them a more uniform creation process that will produce more predictable results.
To produce their samples they stretched out films of silicon for research. “Imagine [attaching] a ring and a hook to all four corners [of a piece of thin film silicon] and pulling equally on all four corners like a trampoline,” said Legally, “it stretches out like that.”
Should this research come full circle, there’s no doubt that we’ll all reap the rewards.
According to Chinese researchers, sheets made of carbon nanotubes will act like a loudspeaker when charged with a varying electric current. This discovery could lead to a new era of cheap, flat speakers.
Shoushan Fan of the Tsinghua University in Beijing and his team have been working alongside a team of researchers at Beijing Normal University (a name that truly inspires confidence), to create the first speaker sheet by aligning numerous 10-nanometer-diameter carbon nanotubes. When an audio frequency current was sent through the sheet they found that it acted as a loudspeaker. While the reaction causes the sheet to heat up to temperatures of 80°C, it’s expected that consumer use will only cause the sheet to rise slightly above room temperature.
According to Kaili Jiang, a member of Fan’s team, the speakers have a great deal of potential in them for uses that you wouldn’t see from a conventional speaker. The team has found that the flexible sheets can be stretched until they become transparent. They could then be attached to the front of an LCD screen to replace standard speakers. They even mentioned the possibility of singing and speaking jackets.
If solid state drives (SSDs) continue to march into the mainstream market, 2008 might very well one day be looked at as the start of the SSD era. But for that to happen, the performance numbers have to improve and users have to be convinced that the technology can be reliable on a long-term basis. Performance, which is supposed to SSD's strong point, has come under fire amid real-world benchmark comparisons, and as far as SanDisk is concerned, Vista is to blame.
Taking matters into its own hands, SanDisk has developed a new file system, ExtremeFFS, which the company claims has the potential to increase write performance by up to 100 times in SSDs over existing systems.
"To maximize random write performance, SanDisk developed the ExtremeFFS flash file management system," the company wrote in a press release. "This operates on a page-based algorithm, which means there is no fixed coupling between physical and logical location. When a sector of data is written, the SSD puts it where it is most convenient and efficient. The result is an improvement in random write performance – by up to 100 times – as well as in overall endurance."
ExtremeFFS allows NAND channels to work independently of each other, so while some might be reading data, others can be simultaneously writing. The technology also purports to "learn" user patterns and eventually localize data, which sounds a lot like advanced defragging routines. Admittedly, SanDisk senior VP and GM Rich Heye's concedes that it might not make a difference in benchmarks, but believes "it is the right thing to do for end-users."
In related news, SanDisk has also come up with a performance metric it is calling vRPM, or virtual RPM. The metric has been designed to let users know how fast a typical hard drive would need to spin to match the performance of an SSD, which would also allow for a performance comparison between SSDs.
When most computer users think of folding at home, the image that comes to mind is that of folding proteins in hopes of ultimately coming up with a cure for common diseases. But the term is about to become literal with Asus' announcement of its Vento TA-F foldable chassis.
The main benefit of a collapsible chassis lies in its portability. According to Asus, with a fully folded dimension of 434 x 87 x 434 mm, vendors can cut back on transportation costs by upwards of 30 percent. Presumably this would translate into reduced costs for the end users who often find themselves paying anywhere from $15 to $25 or more to have a case shipped. But are there any other benefits?
"This [space saving design] also allows DIY enthusiasts to carry the chassis back home or to the office without having to contend with the conventional bulk of a normal chassis," Asus explains in its press release. "Once the user arrives back home or at the office, the TA-F Series can be expanded quickly to use and also be kept away by simply folding it flat."
To do so would require removing installed components and then reinstalling, rinse and repeat. To its credit, the TA-F boasts a tools-free setup to help streamline the process, but we can't imagine system builders opting to tear down their system in order to save some cargo space.
What are your thoughts on a foldable chassis? Hit the jump and let us know.
While Windows 7's basic "look" is a refined version of Windows Vista, Windows 7 is much more than "Vista, Take 2." One of the most significant new features coming in Windows 7 is Device Stage, and Device Stage is one of the major themes of this week's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC).
What is Device Stage?
Device Stage, for the first time, looks at a device as a single entity rather than as a collection of different components. As ArsTechnica describes Device Stage:
Attaching a device in current versions of Windows gives sometimes unpredictable results. A multi-function printer/scanner/fax, for instance, might show up as several different things within Windows: a printer, scanner, removable disk, and some vendor supplied management suite...The "Device Stage" feature is designed to alleviate some of these problems by treating devices as distinct "things" with multiple abilities.
To learn more about Device Stage, and to find out what hardware vendors think about this new feature, join us after the jump.
Fujitsu has taken a leaf out of Nintendo’s book – from the chapter Nintendo DS - by incorporating a second display in its new Lifebook N7010 notebook. The Lifebook N7010 has a 4-inch touch-screen panel to compliment its primary 16-inch display. The auxiliary display, which has been placed just above the keyboard, is meant to function as an application launcher. Users can also control media playback using the second display and view slideshows on it.
Additionally, users can easily multitask using the second display by dragging any application onto it. The notebook boasts of a 2.26 GHz Core 2 Duo Processor, up to 4GB RAM, 256 MB ATI HD 3470 video card, a maximum of 320GB storage space, Blu-ray ROM drive, HDMI-out, Bluetooth and 802.11N WiFi. Its modest battery life, which is claimed to be about 2.5 hrs, comes across as the only blemish, at least on paper. The Lifebook N7010 will begin shipping on November 10th with a starting price of $1499.
While Apple may not be offering anything new this holiday season, there’s a good chance that Asus might. According to notebook component vendors, Asus may be planning to introduce a 12-inch notebook, similar to the high-end Eee PC S101.
Claims have been reported that the S101 was originally designed for Asus’ ZX series, but Asus decided to ultimately add it to the netbook line as the demand for a high-end Eee PC grew. The rumored 12-inch ZX is supposed to have similar functionality to the Eee, but with bonus screen real estate, packing a respectable 16:10 aspect ratio.
The rumored notebook is supposed to be launched by the end of 2008, with a price point lower than $1,000. So keep your eyes open in the coming weeks, the holiday season is just around the corner.
Memory module makers continue to suffer through what some analysts suggest is the worst the DRAM market has been in 15 years with chip manufacturers posting record high losses. To stop the bleeding, most module makers have already cut production in an attempt to drive prices back up, and while that has been met with some success in niche markets (DDR prices are up 30 percent), slumping demand paints a grim outlook for memory makers in the immediate future.
The solution? Send home your workforce without laying them off. That's essentially the strategy some Tawain DRAM and memory module makers are trying to take in an attempt to reduce operating costs, according to DigiTimes. Rather than hand out pink slips, the tech news outlet reports that chip makers are asking employees to take time off without pay.
This isn't an isolated scenario, either. DigiTimes claims that Nanya Technology, Powerchip Semiconducter Corporation (PSC), and ProMOS Technologies have all taken "measures to encourage employees to voluntarily take one work-day off per week without pay in order to help the companies reduce operating costs."
At long last, power users have a plethora of performance numbers to ponder now that Intel has lifted its NDA on Core i7 benchmarks. But even though the first batch of benches show the new architecture living up to the hype, AMD isn't packing its bags and going home. On the contrary, the rival chip maker has a slew of 45nm chips coming out, starting this month.
Citing sources at un-named motherboard makers, DigiTimes reports AMD will launch a pair of 45nm quad-core desktop CPUs (Deneb) designed for AM2+ systems this month. The Phenom X4 20550 will come clocked at 3GHz and the 20350 at 2.8GHz. A series of 45nm triple-core chips are also on the way, though these won't start shipping until Q1 2009. These chips include the 14x00, 12x00, and 1xx00e series. On the high end, AMD plans to launch six 45nm quad-core Deneb chips and four entry-level Propus chips in the same time frame.
All the new releases could potentially have AMD competing with its upcoming dual-core Athlon X2 processors. To prevent this scenario from playing out, AMD will delay shipping its 45nm AM3-based dual-core parts (Regor) until Q3 2009.
The new processors will also lead to price cuts within AMD's existing product line as the chip maker looks to clear its inventory. If you're an AMD-loyal, keep your eyes peeled for some tantalizing deals on Phenom processors this holiday shopping season and beyond.
With Intel's new Core i7 platform nearing release, expect a deluge of X58 motherboard announcements by various manufacturers. EVGA has already offered a glimpse of its upcoming X58 SLI FTW board, and now Gigabyte follows suit with two boards of its own -- GA-EX58-EXTREME and GA-EX58-UD5 -- based on the enthusiast X58 chipset.
Both boards will sport six DIMM slots for three-channel DDR3 memory and support for up to a whopping 24GB of RAM, but the hardware ménage à trois doesn't end there. Both boards will also come ready for three-way SLI action, or if you prefer ATI brand videocards, you can get your groove on with three-way CrossFireX support. Other traits the two boards have in common include ten SATA 3Gb/s ports, a PATA connector, RAID support, 8-channel onboard audio, three Firewire ports, and a dozen USB 2.0 ports.
The GA-EX58-EXTREME separates itself by adding Gigabyte's "Hybrid Silent-Pipe 2" cooling solution and is being aimed at watercooling enthusiasts. By combining liquid cooling, screen cooling, and an external heatsink, Gigabyte claims users can expect upwards of a 30 percent drop in thermals. The GA-EX58-UD5, on the other hand, sticks to a more traditional air cooling scheme, while also adding LED onboard displays of system vitals.