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.
Among other things, Vista's successor, Windows 7, will bring with it multi-touch support utilizing technology developed by the Surface team. What impact this will have on touch-based computing as a whole remains to be seen; just be sure not to make the mistake of referring to the Tablet PC as a niche market when discussing touch-based computing.
"I won't go so far as to say it's the next mouse, meaning it will be on everything and you have to use it," Microsoft's Ray Ozzie said during an interview with TechFlash. "But it's not going to be like the Tablet PC, where it was truly niche. I think it will go broader and broader."
Ozzie's comments have sparked a backlash of sorts from some of the Tablet PC faithful who feel that the his comments are a slight against their, well, niche PC. But it's not necessarily the truth of the statement that has users perturbed so much as it is hearing Microsoft make such a comment. For example, Loren Heiny of the Incremental Blogger writes:
"What is the case, is that Tablet PCs have been sold like they are niche. The manufacturers have kept the prices high – keeping the volume down and off of store shelves. Even Microsoft itself has relegated the Tablet features to its premium SKUs rather than making them available in low-cost educational PCs where isn’t it obvious that there’s great value and need for them? And feature-wise, we keep coming back to Tablets and IT. Yeah, I wonder why that might be? Might it be the niche thinking of some large northwestern company? Huh? Ring a bell?"
Do you take issue with Ozzie's statement? 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.
While Windows 7 is shaping up to be something fresh and new, this pre-beta isn’t anything to worry about. To spend the time, bandwidth (especially for Comcast and AT&T users) and electricity downloading this pirated version of the fledgling OS would be cheating yourself, because this pre-beta comes up low on the impressive meter. And plus, we can’t in all good consciousness condone pirating software.
While the accidental release of the build of Windows 7 came through the Pirate Bay and Mininova (in convenient 32-bit and 64-bit formats!), it was originally intended for an unnamed group of developers. The downloads of Microsoft’s OS of tomorrow have been off the charts as well, with one particular copy providing more than 1,000 uploaders, and roughly 7,000 downloaders.
The build that’s being sought so desperately is a notably incomplete version. It’s missing taskbar updates, as well as other large features. According to comment threads on the torrent sites, most users are unimpressed with what they’ve found. But with a pre-beta, what did they expect?
Resident Evil 4's PC port notwithstanding, the Resident Evil series of survival-horror games is among the more enjoyable reasons to wet yourself. Thus, the possibility that the hide-and-go-aiiiieeee series' latest entry might be making its way over to our platform of choice inspires both excitement and trepidation.
Sadly, at this point, RE5's PC release is unconfirmed. After a PC version appeared alongside its console counterparts on a recent Capcom release list, Big Download attempted to get ahold of Capcom to verify the port's existence. In response, a Capcom rep waved the site away, merely saying that no official announcements have been made. Not a "yes," but certainly not a "no."
Our guess? It's coming. Capcom has been lavishing the PC with ports as of late, so we don't see why it wouldn't do the same for one of its biggest titles. At any rate, the game is slated to arrive on March 13. Common sense says that we'll at least hear something about the PC's dose of the T-virus before then.
Amidst all the panicked hubbub of the holiday season, EA slipped Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 into stores last week -- or at least, most of it. Not included in many unlucky game boxes was a mega-crucial 0.0001% of the game experience: the last digit of the Red Alert 3's CD Key. Uh-oh.
Fret not, however, if you're planning to commandeer and consume a copy of the game, because EA's brightest minds have put their synapses into overdrive in order to whip up a work-around.
"There is currently a work-around that may allow you to bypass this issue. Since you have the first 19 characters of the code already, you can basically try guessing the last character," said a note on EA's customer support site.
Yes, they're serious.
"To do this, simply enter your existing code, and then for the last character, try the letters A-Z, and then the numbers 0-9. You should eventually get the right combination, and be able to play the game."
EA: Its head isn't in the game. Seriously, there's no excuse for such shoddy work from one of gaming's biggest publishers. Get your act together, guys.
Ever since Windows Vista arrived, MacOS fans have delighted in discussing how Microsoft's newest operating system was "inspired" by Apple's OS. According to TGDaily, though, the tables have turned in Windows 7. TGDaily's Christian Zibreg identifies five Windows 7 features that should be on the "add to MacOS" list, including:
Multi-touch (on-screen keyboard, mouse gestures)
The Windows 7 taskbar (live thumbnails that even show opened tabs in IE8)
Libraries (group as many locations for music, photos, or other media together as you need and access them with a single logical location)
Play to and Windows Media Center (better media playback wherever you want it)
Device Stage (all your device information and configuration tools in one place)
Whether you're a MacOS fanboy (or fangirl) or are just looking for a better x86/x64 platform than Windows Vista, these features are pretty exciting. Until the public beta hits late this year, you can check out some of these features here. Be sure to join us after the jump for the chance to sound off about what you like, or want to see, in Windows 7.
After EA dribbled its drop into the bucket, it was only a matter of time until other mega-publishers hopped in line. Proving the previous statement's veracity, here's THQ.
According to prettymucheveryone -- save for, of course, THQ -- the publisher plans to pack five studios onto the chopping block this week, bringing its total posse down from 16 studios to an economy sized 11.
The development studios being given the go ahead to stroll toward the light are Paradigm (Stuntman Ignition), Helixe, Locomotive, Sandblast Games and Mass Media.
Additionally, Juice Games (known for, uh, racing title Juiced) will remain open, but will lose roughly one third of its staff.
Our prayers are with those who find themselves unemployed. Good luck, everyone.
Coming right after "guns" and just before "violence" on the list of things one should include in a non-cover-based game with projectile-firing ordinances, there's the easy-to-operate first person viewpoint. Apparently, space-faring MMO Tabula Rasa just got the memo -- plopped into its lap by a non-electronic, 1997 carrier pigeon*. Said Graphics Programmer John "Johnny Death" Styles:
"First, what is better than blasting some Bane with your trusty shotty? How about blasting some Bane with your trusty shotty in a first person view? With a FPS view, you can finally get all up-close and personal with your favorite lobster. Just wear your bib because things get pretty messy."
And there's more. If you thought Wolfenstein 3D had trusty shotty groping at the FPS market's spinal cord**, this next doozie will blow your mind. Working scopes. Bam.
Sarcasm aside, however, we have to give JohnnyD and co. props for their final announcement.
"There is nothing better than walking around in a hulking mass of metal and firepower. That is, unless you are sitting in the cockpit of one. Yes, that is right! Click zoom yourself into a cockpit of walking death and lay waste to your foes. Try not to step on your squad."
Garriot's space odyssey was probably snooze-worthy after designing that.
A press release from Valve has heralded the imminent arrival of the Steam Cloud; the ability to access your Steam savefiles and controller configs from any computer. Left 4 Dead will be the first title to have the Cloud functionality, and Valve has said they'll be retrofitting their back catalog with the feature.
According to Valve, the Steam Cloud will "just work." By this they mean that gamers won't have to do anything to get their saves and options into the Cloud; it will all happen automatically. Similarly, when a user logs onto their account on a new computer their data will be downloaded for them by default.
Valve president Gabe Newell explained the philosophy behind the Steam cloud, saying "For some time now, Steam has allowed gamers to log on from any computer in the world and access their applications ... Steam Cloud is a natural extension of the portability Steam affords gamers and developers, and we intend to expand its feature set as it is used in Left 4 Dead and other games coming to Steam."
Left 4 Dead launches on 18th, with the demo (which includes Steam Cloud) coming later this week. Are you psyched? Let us know after the jump.