The end may be nigh for the Zune. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer came up with a measured reply – equal parts of realism and escapism – when queried about the Zune’s future by BusinessWeek editor Stephen Adler at the McGraw-Hill media conference in New York. Though Ballmer reiterated Microsoft’s commitment to the platform, he admitted that the company will not be pouring a lot of money into it.
He said that Zune is both a device and a service. “And the future may be the software/ecosystem on other devices,” Ballmer went on to add. This is being read as a veiled hint at Zune’s impending demise as a hardware platform; Zune may be reduced to an iTunes-like service for other hardware platforms.
Hoping to upend Apple’s Mac Pro cart, Dell said its new Precision 7500 dual Nehalem Xeon workstations will pack up to six times the amount of RAM and at higher speeds than are available with today’s hottest Apple machines.
Users can get to the 192GB mark by stuffing 12 16GB DIMMs into the Precision T7500’s chassis. Dell said the RAM speeds are also increased thanks to support for DDR3/1333. The Precision will use registered ECC RAM for high density configurations. The new chips will also mark the end of FB-DIMM in the dual processor Xeon lineup.
FB-DIMM’s, which use a small and wickedly hot memory controller on each DIMM to buffer the signals, have long been dinged for massive thermal issues and latency penalties. Dell officials said people’s feelings on FB-DIMM aside, it did get the previous generation of CPUs to the RAM densities people needed. One of the primary justifications for FB-DIMM was the density issue on DDR2 but Dell officials said the 192GB mark for DDR3 was not a major technical hurdle in itself. Keeping it cool and keeping acoustics acceptable was a problem, but Dell said it has it under control.
Bandwidth and compute performance of the dual Nehalems leave the previous design in the dust, Dell said. Like the Core i7, the top-end Nehalem Xeons will feature 8MB of L3 cache, 6.4GT/s QPIs, and support Turbo Mode and Hyper-Threading. The Xeon’s will also support something called Direct Cache Access which lets single-threaded applications subsume all of the available shared L3 cache when it’s not being used by other threads.
Valve’s quiet, non-intrusive DRM solution – if nothing else – is highly preferable to many publishers’ boisterous assault on our PCs’ (presumed) innocence. We’d like to think Steam’s colossal success in some way attests to this.
So of course, Valve’s announcement that it’s now offering that DRM solution, known as the Custom Executable Generation, to any and all developers free of charge is reason enough to break out the Headcrab-shaped party hats. Or read press release quotes. Actually, you know what? Since we’re getting wild and crazy with excitement here, let’s just do both.
“Headlining the new feature set is the Custom Executable Generation (CEG) technology that compliments the already existing anti-piracy solution offered in Steamworks. A customer friendly approach to anti-piracy, CEG makes unique copies of games for each user allowing them to access the application on multiple machines without install limits and without having to install root kits on their PC,” explained the press release.
The new set of features also includes support for in-game DLC and a Left 4 Dead-tested, Valve-approved matchmaking system. Cool beans.
"Delivering this extension of services on Steamworks first anniversary, demonstrates our commitment to continually develop the platform to better serve the community working with these tools," said Gabe Newell, president and co-founder of Valve. "As we roll out these features, we continue to look for new ways make PC games easier to create and better for customers to experience."
And yes, before you make a snarky comment about it: DRM was already obsolete. But now it’s obsolete-er. It’s like making a horse ride in a trailer attached to a truck; the passing of the torch – especially in a situation like the one DRM has forced gamers into – need not always be cordial.
Another reason why Google has left its competitors way, way behind in the search engine race: Friday, a post on the (unofficial) Google Operating System blog noted that you can now restrict Google image searches by specifying one of twelve different colors:
Only images that contain the specified color will be listed in the search results. Officially, you must use a command-line search in your browser's address bar to use this new feature, using the following syntax:
Just this week Samsung introduced two netbooks that reportedly last up to 11-hours on battery power alone – an impressive number.
The first of the new netbooks is the N110, a machine that features an Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, a 160GB HDD, Intel’s GMA 950 graphics, a 1024x600 screen, and 802.11g WiFi.
Second up is the N130 (pictured), with an Intel Atom N270 processor, 1GB of RAM, a 160GB HDD, Intel’s GMA 950 graphics processing, a 1024x600 screen and, of course, built-in WiFi.
Now, I do realize that I just repeated myself almost completely over the last two paragraphs, but other than aesthetics (and price) there’s nothing setting these two apart from one another. The N110 will cost $469 and be available during the first week of April, while the N310 is coming “in the next couple of months” for about $580.
Google has been known for putting some pictures on Street View that probably don’t belong there. But, it looks like the software giant is playing nice with folks that were offended, and removing them completely.
According to a spokesperson with Google, anyone that makes a request to have an image removed could very well make that happen. And what about the photos that have already been deleted? “We've got millions of images, so the percentage removed was very small,” said Google’s Laura Scott. “We want this to be a useful tool, and it's people's right to have their image removed.”
Google maintains that they only display images that are visible by public thoroughfares.
Dell’s Adamo is one sexy notebook, featuring an impressively thin form factor that allows its users to bring it with them just about where they want. But, along with all that good news we’ve got some bad to report – the battery isn’t replaceable by the user.
Following in the footsteps left by Apple’s 17-inch MacBook Pro, the un-removable battery can only be replaced if sent to Dell. There’s no word yet on just how much this procedure will cost as of yet.
Unfortunate news, to be true, but we can’t say that it completely surprises us. You don’t get a notebook this thin without losing some of the usual advantages.
Ack! Your smokin' fast Core 2 Quad processor and other Intel chips may suffer from what security experts call "CPU cache poisoning." Sounds nasty, and according to Joanna Rutkowska who discovered the security flaw, it is.
"In this paper we have described practical exploitation of the CPU cache poisoning," Joanna Rutkowska and Rafal Wojtczuk wrote in an abstract paper (PDF). "This is the third attack on SMM (system management mode) memory our team has found within the last 10 months, affecting Intel-based systems. It seems that the current state of firmware security, even in case of such reputable vendors as Intel, is quite unsatisfying."
Rutkowska and Wojtczuk go one to discuss proof of concept codes for arbitrary SMM code execution, which could (theoretically) lead to abuses of the super-privileged SMM mode and embedding SMM rookits. Doing so would (again theoretically) give hackers control over the affected PC. Worse yet, according to Jamey Heary, a consulting systems engineer for Cisco Systems, the hack would be "virtually undetectable."
So what does Intel have to say? "We are working with these researchers. We take this research and all reports seriously. Currently as far as we know, there are no known exploits in the wild," Intel spokesman George Alfs said in a written statement.
Get the full scoop here, then hit the jump and tell us what you think.
Zeebo, backed by Qualcomm, announced a new device it's calling the "fourth video game console." But don't worry if you're a console collector, the Zeebo console probably won't ever see the light of day in the U.S. and is instead being targeted at middle-class buyers in emerging markets.
Referring to the middle-class consumers of the so-called BRIC nations -- Brazil, Russia, India, and China -- Zeebo Chief Executive John Rizzo said "A console for these markets has got to be affordable."
To keep costs down and cut back on rampant piracy, the Zeebo will not use a disc or other fixed media, and instead employs a Qualcomm chipset to allow gamers to connect wirelessly to purchase and download games. The onboard flash memory can store about 50 games, Rizzo said.
Other specs include an ARM 11 / QDSP-5 running at 528MHz, 128MB of DDR memory, VGA (640 x 480) output, three USB 2.0 ports, and an SD card slot.
The Zeebo console will first be available in Brazil for $199, with pricing expected to drop to $150 within the year.
OCZ has been on a mission to undercut the competition in the peripheral gaming market and has released a pair of gaming mice this week towards that goal. The company says its new Behemoth and Eclipse mice are "built with the hardcore gamer in mind" looking for an inexpensive gaming solution.
"OCZ continues to break barriers in the cost for performance arena by offering high performance gaming products that deliver exceptional features, ergonomics, and performance at an aggressive price," commented Ryan Edwards, Director of Product Management for OCZ. "The new Behemoth and Eclipse gaming mice are no exception, offering world-class performance designed to provide the discerning gamer and enthusiast with a superior hands-on control experience whether playing first person shooters or getting creative with design applications."
Both the Eclipse and Behemoth come with a 2-way scrolling wheel, adjustable weight (up to 18g on the Eclipse and 24g on the Behemoth), 4-way changing LED display, black rubberized coating for a no-slip grip, 60IPS tracking speed, and 50G acceleration. The compact-style Eclipse sports an adjustable DPI up to 2400, whereas the larger Behemoth ramps up to 3200.