Earlier this year, Maximum PC Editor-in-Chief Will Smith challenged Nvidia "to stop trying to convince us that closed APIs are good, and instead embrace OpenCL." Fast forward to today and the graphics chip maker still isn't ready to kill CUDA, but it did become the first to release an OpenCL driver and Software Development Kit (SDK) in pre-beta form. Nvidia says its goal is to solicit early feedback in anticipation of a beta release to be made available in coming months.
"The OpenCL standard was developed on Nvidia GPUs and Nvidia was the first company to demonstrate OpenCL code running on a GPU," said Tony Tamasi, senior VP of technology and content at Nvidia. "Being the first to release an OpenCL driver to developers cements Nvidia's leadership in GPU Computing and is another key milestone in our ongoing strategy to make the GPU the soul of the modern PC."
If you haven't been following along at home, OpenCL is short for Open Computing Language and is an open programming framework paving the way for developers to tap into the power of GPUs for general-purpose computing, otherwise known as GPGPU (General Purpose GPU). The open standard has the potential to work on most modern GPUs, and not just Nvidia hardware like the company's CUDA platform. But don't read this as Nvidia giving up on CUDA. On the contrary, Nvidia feels OpenCL reinforces the ideas behind CUDA, and has bumped up the CUDA release schedule to include three releases planned for 2009.
Earlier this month, a pair of bigwigs over at Acer said during a press event that the company plans on using Google's open-source Android OS in its upcoming smartphones, but doesn't feel the OS is ready for netbooks. Just don't tell that latter part to Chinese company SkyTone, the first company (we're aware of) to release an Android netbook.
SkyTone, who's best known for its Skype headsets and kiddie PCs, lists on their website the Alpha-680 Google Android netbook. Available in pink, red, yellow, white, or black, the low cost netbook comes equipped with a 7-inch LCD screen, ARM11 533MHz processor, 128MB of DDR2 (upgradeable to 256MB), a 1GB SSD (upgradeable to 4GB), WiFi, memory card slot, two USB 2.0 ports, and of course Google's Android OS.
ComputerWorld describes the rig as a "glorified cellphone...without the glory," and we'd have to agree. It's unclear when it will be available for purchase and for how much, but even if it checks in somewhere between $100 and $200, Dell's $199 Vostro A90 would make the Alpha-680 a tough buy.
It's been a wild downward ride in the memory market these past twelve or so months, one in which DRAM makers are more than eager reverse course. And that's exactly what's happening. According to data gathered by DRAMeXchange, DRAM contract prices have climbed in the second half of April. The data shows that prices of 1GB DDR2-667 DIMMs has gone up $9 and 2GB DDR2 $18, representing a 6 to 11 percent gain.
And this is just the beginning, says DRAMeXchange. Citing un-named market sources, the firm says Elpida Memory will most likely discontinue shipments to the spot market, while both Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation (PSC) and Kingston also plan to limit their shipments, at least until June. This could prove to be significant, as Elpida and PSC account for almost 60 percent of the sport market. Elpida's goal is to raise quotes by as much as 50 percent.
But before you panic and stock up on all the RAM you can afford, DRAMeXchange predicts DRAM spot prices will only increase to a range of $1.20 to $1.50, up from $1 to $1.20. This means DDR2 modules will probably go up, but not by as much as Elpida (and other DRAM makers) are hoping.
Having completed its metamorphosis into separate design and manufacturing firms, AMD probably feels as though a major weight has been lifted from its shoulders. However, the company still has some financial ground to make up. On the bright side, AMD's first quarter revenue of $1.77 billion remained flat (rather than tumbling backwards) compared to the fourth quarter of 2008. However, it also represents a decrease of 21 percent compared to the first quarter of 2008.
"AMD’s sequential microprocessor unit and revenue growth in difficult economic conditions demonstrate we can grow in an environment where customers are looking for maximum value," said Dirk Meyer, AMD president and CEO. "We delivered on a number of important priorities in the first quarter. We launched GLOBALFOUNDRIES, maintained our cadence of new product and platform introductions, and made solid progress on our restructuring activities. The result is a more nimble AMD, capable of achieving long-term success based on our strengths designing and integrating industry-leading computing and graphics technologies."
Despite turning in a $416 million first quarter loss, Meyer said AMD is "well positioned" as people have become more discerning for paying only what they need. Moving forward, the chip maker plans to switch over completely to 45nm this quarter and expects a positive cash flow for the second half of 2009.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) would have you believe that illegally downloading music is crippling an artist's ability to make a living, and so the association, with music artists' best interest in mind of course, has led the crusade against piracy with lawsuit after lawsuit. But is the RIAA only hurting the music industry's best customers?
According a new study by the BI Norwegian School of Management, those who download music illegally via P2P networks are also more likely to pay for digital downloads. The study pinged more than 1,900 internet users over the age of 15, and according to the study's researchers, those who pirate music also bought a staggering ten times as much legal music than those who steer clear of P2P.
"The most surprising is that the proportion of paid download is so high," said Audun Molde from the Norwegian School of Management.
Not surprisingly, record labels are taking the study with a grain of salt. EMI's Bjørn Rogstad believes there is no way to know for sure whether or not illegal downloads stimulate pay downloads, adding "There is one thing that is not going away, and it is the consumption of music increases, while revenue declines. It can not be explained in any way other than that the illegal downloading is over the legal sale of music."
Fujitsu this week added several upgrades to its FMV-Deskpower rigs, most of them minor but collectively adding up to a beefier spec sheet. The company's FMV-Deskpower F/D90D gets a Blu-ray drive, while it and the rest of the F-series (F/D70D and F/D60) have been outfitted with 4GB of RAM instead of 2GB, 1TB hard drive instead of 500GB (minus the F/D60), 4GB of RAM instead of 2GB, and now include MaxxAudio software. Other specs, which remain unchanged, include a 19-inch LCD dislapy, Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 processor, memory card slot, 1.3MP webcam, WiFi, and five USB 2.0 ports.
Fujitsu also made its LX/D90D PC a bit more appealing by upgrading the 22-inch monitor to a 23-inch full HD LCD display. Other specs include an Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 CPU, 4GB of RAM, 1TB hard drive, Blu-ray, WiFi, and six USB 2.0 ports.
No word on whether Fujitsu plans on offering any of these PCs in the U.S.
Fallout 3 not your irradiated cup of tea inexplicably hidden in a filing cabinet? Do you pine for the days when Black Isle Studios headed up the post-apocalyptic RPG series? Well then, it’d seem the fates have aligned in your favor, because Bethesda has decided to entrust its precious license with Obsidian Studios, a team founded by Black Isle cast-offs.
The result of their partnership, titled Fallout: New Vegas, will apparently not stray too far from Fallout 3’s critically acclaimed path, though Bethesda wouldn’t spill when asked about the game’s engine.
Ostensibly taking place among Sin City’s radroach-infested ruins, New Vegas isn’t a sequel to Fallout 3. Rather, it’s a spin-off that – knowing Obsidian’s track record – will probably take a large number of cues from its source material.
"It is not a sequel to Fallout 3," said Bethesda marketing VP Pete Hines. "It was just a great opportunity we thought to work with some guys who very clearly know Fallout--Feargus [Urquhart] and those guys were there in the early days of Fallout."
This unexpected gamble on the Fallout franchise is currently targeted for a 2010 release date. We can’t wait, really. We’ve always wanted to visit Vegas without cowering in fear of being shot at all times, and thanks to all the radiation and mutated wildlife, we’re sure Fallout: New Vegas will be our safest bet.
(Dear Vegas people, we kid. Please don't yell at us.)
In today’s world of gaming hardware, ray tracing is the epitome of gaming graphics. Sadly, rendering them is difficult for current hardware due to their extremely random nature. Caustic Graphics is fixing that issue, all thanks to their graphics co-processor, the Ray Tracing Processing Unit (RTPU).
The RTPU works alongside current 3D graphics processors to bring rays at frame rates acceptable for interactive applications. While the offered 3-5 frames per second works for these applications, it’s nowhere near what gamers require. Thankfully, they claim that their second generation of hardware, out sometime next year, will be able to deliver 14 times that frame rate.
Be sure to check out a video of the tracing in action here.
MSI has finally put a price tag on their extremely eco-friendly touchscreen Wind Top. That price? A very reasonable $529.
At the heart of the Wind Top will be an Intel Atom 230 processor, a 160GB SATA HDD, 4 USB 2.0 ports, a 4 in 1 card reader and an 18.5-inch widescreen. It’ll come standard with Windows XP Home, and will even pack a built-in webcam and microphone to let you video conference, right out of the box.
Toshiba recently updated their line of Qosmio and Dynabook laptops with upgraded graphics and processing power.
The Qosmios will come in two flavors, including the 18.4-inch G50 ($3,421) and the 15.4-inch FX ($2,119). Relative newcomer, the 14.1-inch Dynabook SS RX2 (pictured), will come with a 128GB SSD, and cost $2,840. All of these will come with Intel Core 2 Duo processors and Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT graphics processors.
Though, unless you’re currently living in Japan or are willing to import one of these from overseas, you won’t be getting your hands on one of these anytime soon. Currently, they’re only available in the land of the rising sun, with no mention of plans to bring them to these here United States.