November 1 quite literally marked the end of an era. Windows 3.x, which was released back in 1990, is now officially a part of the past. Microsoft finally stopped issuing licenses for the software, which originally brought them worldwide success on the platform of graphical user interfaces.
While 3.x lives in relative obscurity today, it still has some very sizeable tasks placed at its feet. Many cash registers and ticketing systems are still powered by the aging OS. Even in-flight entertainment systems on some Virgin and Quantas jets use 3.x as their platform of choice when bringing long-haul flight customers such cinematic masterpieces as Tim Allen’s, “The Shaggy Dog.”
This has everything to do with what’s under the hood of 3.x. Stefan Berka, who is responsible for the GUI Documentation Project stated that the important technical innovations in the software were its extended memory that could address more than 640KB and vast improvements to hardware support. Not to mention its 100 percent compatibility with older MSDOS applications.
The age ushered in by 3.x required at least an 8086/8088 processor (or better) with a clock speed of at least 10MHz. Along with that, it required a brawny 640KB of RAM and seven MB of HDD space to store it all.
3.x, you’ve served us well. We salute you on your service, and hope that others take after your example. You will be missed.
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.
Who says thin is in? Not Palit, who has just introduced a massive three-slot graphics card based on AMD's dual-GPU ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2. Dubbed the Revolution 700 Deluxe, the new card owes its wide load to a giant heatsink consisting of a two-fan cooling solution outfitted with heatpipes and a plethora of connection options.
The Revolution 700 Deluxe comes equipped with DisplayPort, HDMI, Dual-Link DVI, and D-Sub (VGA) connections, so while you might have to worry about how you're going to cram this card inside your case, you at least won't face any problems connecting it to nearly any type of display.
Other specs include 2GB of GDDR5 slightly overclocked at 3800MHz (compared to 3600MHz reference), 750MHz core clockspeed, DirectX 10.1 and Shader Model 4.1 support, and a 512-bit memory interface resulting in 2.4 teraFLOPS of graphics horsepower.
No price has yet been set for the mammoth videocard, but according to TGDaily, Palit spokesman Darren Polkowski said it sell in a similar price range as other 4870 X2 cards.
Is three slots too much? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
The mobile gaming sector continues to play leapfrog as each manufacturer attempts to jump to the head of the pack. Gateway wowed us with its surprisingly affordable P-7811FX crammed full of high end parts, and more recently, Alienware's new M17 gave users a double-dose of performance with dual-3870 videocards and up to 1TB of storage space in a RAID configuration. Now it's Toshiba's turn to tantalize would-be notebook buyers, and it looks to do that by introducing the world's first laptops with THREE Nvidia GPUs packed inside.
To clarify, Toshiba isn't planning a line of tri-SLI enabled laptops, and instead will take advantage of Nvidia's Hybrid SLI technology. The Qosmio X305-Q708 and X305-Q706 will be the first two units outfitted with three GPUs, which will consist of a GeForce 9400M and two 9800M GTS GPUs. When not fragging foes, gamers can switch to the 9400M GPU while the other two GPUs power down, resulting in a quieter notebook with presumably longer battery life.
For $4,200, the X305-Q708 also brings an Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9300 CPU to the table along with a 17" 1680x1050 display, 4GB of RAM, 320GB SATA drive, a second 128GB SSD, DVD burner, a 1.3MP webcam with face recognition, HDMI and DisplayPort connections, and Harmon Kardon speakers. At less than half the price ($2,000), the X305-706 drops down to an Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 CPU and drops the SSD drive.
The X305-Q708 and X305-Q706 are available now from ToshibaDirect.
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.
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.
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?
With some news straight out of the “didn’t we just hear about something like this?” file (we did), some groundbreaking research has revealed that a near perfect solar panel has been created.
Scientists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have allegedly found a process that allows them to trap nine out of ten photons that hit a solar panel, providing a 90 percent collection rate. A new anti-reflective coating for the panels provides grounds for creating solar panels that don’t have to change their angle in order to collect energy.
With current technology, the photon absorption rate stands at an already impressive 67.4 percent, with the variable of whether or not the sun is actually hitting the cells. But the new cells which according to Shawn-Yu Lin, the man responsible for the project, function like a “dense forest where sunlight is ‘captured’ between the trees.” This happens through a process that not only involves the new anti-reflective coating, but also the bending of the path of the sunlight to an angle that allows maximum capture of sunlight.
With all possible variables at their best, Lin claims that the cells can capture 96.21 percent of the photons that hit their surface.