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Hardware

2015 Lamborghini digital instrument cluster

2015 Lamborghini Huracan dashboard powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 30 graphics chip

The 2015 Lamborghini Huracan was introduced this week and demonstrates that yes, dashboards can indeed be colorful fully-digital screens. The Huracan’s instrument panel displays virtual 3D gauges on a 12.3-inch TFT display with a resolution of 1440x540 pixels and driven by a Tegra 30 chip from Nvidia’s Tegra 3 Series. The processor can spin the gauge’s needles at a frenzied 60 frames per second.

Helium-filled hard drives reduce friction and hence allow more storage with 20% less power

Helium, the 2nd lightest element, is already used in the cooling of superconducting magnets. Helium reduces friction, vibration, and heat and thus, when utilized in hard drive design, reduces mechanical issues that limit the storage density while using 20% less power than conventional hard drives. And it’s not a pipe dream either. Data-storage company HGST (a Western Digital company) has begun making a six-terabyte helium hard drive that has a 50 percent greater storage capacity and uses about 20 percent less power than conventional hard drives.

New Belkin devices lets you monitor electric usage of every electrical appliance in your home

Belkin is working on a new device called the Echo Electricity, that they say will make it possible to see how much electricity each device in your home is using. The device will connect to your utility meter and monitor the electromagnetic interference (noise) emitted over the power lines by all of the electrical appliances in your home that are plugged into wall outlets. The Echo Electricity will be able to detect when an appliance is turned on, turned off, or changed from one state to another in order to gauge how much electricity the appliance is using. The device will then transmit the data it has collected, via Wi-Fi, to a website where the data will be analyzed using machine-learning algorithms to determine which appliances are on and how much power they are consuming.

Samsung’s new Exynos 5 Octa chip raises the bar once again. Will we find it in the Note 3?

Samsung has been teasing its updated Exynos 5 chip since last week and today we find that the dangling carrot is well worth reaching for. The updated Exynos 5 SoC is based on ARM's big.LITTLE design, offering four Cortex A15 cores clocked at 1.8GHz and and four Cortex A7 cores at 1.3GHz giving the CPU a whopping 20% boost over its predecessor. But Samsung didn't stop there. A six-core ARM Mail GPU was added which Samsung says doubles the 3D graphics performance over its current model. According to Samsung, it's been seeing increasing demand for mobile processors that can deliver high-end graphics processing. The company's latest Exynos 5 will deliver that, but will also cut down on power consumption.

China’s Tianhe-2 supercomputer destroys speed record to become fastest supercomputer on the planet

The Cray Titan lost bragging rights this past week as China's Tianhe-2 supercomputer clocked in at a silicon-scorching 30.65 petaflops (74% faster than Titan) making it the fastest supercomputer on the planet. The feat was even more impressive given that Tianhe-2 was not even running at full capacity. Theoretically it could hit 50 petaflops although <40 petafllops is more likely. Tianhe-2 is built with Intel Ivy Bridge and Xeon Phi processors. There are 32,000 Intel Ivy Bridge Xeon sockets and 48,000 Xeon Phi boards for a total of 3,120,000 cores. It has storage of 12.4PB and memory totaling 1.4PB. Tianhe-2 runs Kylin Linux.

Oh no, not again. Will the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 include an eight-core processor? Looks like it might.

Really, again? SamMobile, who has a good record when it comes to Samsung leaks, has reported that the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will indeed arrive with a octa-core processor, which was unexpectedly absent from the UK and US release of the Galaxy S4 flagship. The device will reportedly also include an eight-core Mali 450 GPU and a healthy 3GB of RAM (up from 2GB found in the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 2). According to “inside sources”, the Galaxy Note 3 will run the Android 4.3 and not Key Lime Pie as was previously expected. The Note 3 will of course, include a large 5.99-inch Full HD display, the same Super AMOLED technology found on the Galaxy S4 with a ‘diamond pixel structure’ and a Full HD resolution (1080p), plus a 13MP rear camera. It is rumored that Samsung is still mulling over three different design options which seems a bit late in the game considering the device is expected to be announced in August/September 2013 (possibly at IFA 2013 in Berlin).

Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) memory standard promises 15 times better performance than traditional DDR1/2/3 SDRAM

The Hybrid Memory Cube Consortium finished hammering out the Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) 1.0 standard this week. With a max bandwidth of 320GB/sec to a nearby CPU or GPU (compared to 24GB/sec for DDR3 SDRAM), HMC offers up to 15 times the performance of DDR3, while using 70% less energy. Rather than placing RAM dies next to each other (as seen with today’s DRAM), the Hybrid Memory Cube design stacks the memory dies connecting them to each other via through-silicon-vias (TSVs) Stacking the dies shortens the wires between them allowing data to be sent at a higher speed while using less energy. The design is similar to smartphone SoCs, where the memory chip is stacked on top of the CPU/GPU, allowing the completed device to be significantly smaller.

Seagate ships world’s first 4TB Hard Drive – priced at less than $200 per unit

Today, Seagate began shipping what it claims is“the world’s first 4TB Hard Drive”. The new technology will utilize four 1TB platters giving the drive 800,000 times more storage space than the first desktop drive it introduced way back in 1979. According to Seagate, “There's enough storage space to tuck away 800,000 photos, 450 hours of HD video, or over 1 million songs.” The drives are shipping from Amazon at $190 for a bare drive.

Samsung Galaxy S4 fizzle but device does solidify position as king of the mobile arena – for now…

The Samsung Galaxy S4 was revealed today and although there were no mind-blowing revelations (and a couple of disappointments), it is indeed a beauty. With a 5 inch Super AMOLED 1920x1080 display (441ppi and protected via Gorilla Glass 3) and 1.6GHz 8-core Exynos Octa 5410 SoC (which is really two quad-cores - four Cortex-A15 cores clocked at 1.6GHz for heavy lifting, and four Cortex-A7 cores in a big.LITTLE setup to perform background and less-intensive tasks), you would think the battery life would be horrendous but thanks to a huge 2,600 mAh battery (up from 2,100 mAH), the device should give you acceptable battery life before recharging. The Galaxy S4 also includes a tri-core PowerVR 544MP3 GPU clocked at 533MHz (the same GPU as the iPhone 5′s A6 SoC, but at a higher clock speed), 2GB of RAM, 16/32/64GB storage, and countering current trends, includes a MicroSD slot for storage expansion (up to 64Gb) and removable battery. Unfortunately, for those that require power hungry LTE connectivity, the Exynos processor is swapped out with a “measly” 1.9 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC with integrated LTE modem. Also included, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and infrared LED (IR transmitter), which can control your television with the WatchOn app. Depending on the market, the Galaxy S 4 will have wireless charging capabilities.

Google rumored to be prepping upgraded Nexus 10 with more powerful quad-core processor and 8-core GPU

Rumors are beginning to circulate that Google is prepping a major upgrade to their flagship Nexus 10 tablet. The Nexus 10, introduced in October 2012, is equipped with a powerful Exynos 1.7GHz dual-core processor and a Mali-T604 GPU but users have reported performance issues such as lag and stutter as the processor struggles to power applications and the massive (and dense) 2560 x 1600 display. Now we are hearing that Google is prepping an identical tablet with the processor swapped out to use a quad-core processor and updated 8-core Mali-T678 GPU. All other hardware should remain the same (i.e. 2GB Ram, 300ppi display, 16GB internal storage, 5-megapixel camera, 1.9 megapixel front camera, NFC, Bluetooth, WiFi, 9,000 mAh battery).

LG announces 100 inch “Laser TV” – throws image on wall from 22 inches

Just ahead of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), LG has announced a television that could become the most talked about piece of gear at CES. The new “Hecto” Laser TV system is designed to project a 100 inch 1080p image onto a screen from just 22 inches away. Unlike traditional projectors that require dark rooms and must be mounted on the ceiling several feet away from the projection surface, the Laser TV is designed to project images straight up or down and uses a special laser-based illumination system (with a bulb life of 25,000 hours) to produce an extremely bright, high contrast (1,000,000 to 1 contrast ratio) image with a picture reportedly on par with plasma TVs. The acute angle allows the unit to be placed directly in front of the screen on an entertainment center, the floor, or mounted to the ceiling.

Tegra 4 leak hints at 72-core graphics chip in next generation mobile processor

Chinese website, Chip Hell, has leaked what could be the specs of Nvidia’s next-generation Tegra processor, codenamed “Wayne” (following Nvidia’s superhero naming scheme). If the leak is true, Qualcomm and Samsung better stay on their toes. The Tegra 4 will apparently follow the same 28nm process (battery saving) as its rivals and according to the slide from Chip Hell, will feature a dizzying 72-core graphics chip giving it 6x the graphical power of the current-generation Tegra chips. The chip will be a 4+1 quad-core processor and given the “Eagle” moniker in the CPU spec, we can assume it will be a Cortex-A15 (Eagle was ARM’s codename for the architecture). The slide also touts , USB 3.0 support, 4K video playback, and support for resolutions up to 2,560 x 1440.

More reports that Apple is working on Apple-branded TV prototypes

They are. They aren't More reports come in today that Apple is working with Asian suppliers to create a new Apple branded TV set. Excitement is high because Steve Jobs had previously stated that Apple had finally cracked the code for a television OS that was as clean and simple as the iPhone. Reportedly, several designs are in the works. Some sources are saying the new sets are “not a formal project yet. It is still in the early stages of testing.” Once sources says that Hon Hai is the supplier that's working with Sharp to design the new TV. It is worth noting that Apple often works with suppliers on prototype designs before committing to manufacturing.

Microsoft announces pricing for the x86 version (Windows 8 Pro) of their Surface tablet

One month after the Surface RT hit the market, Microsoft today announced pricing for the x86 version of their Surface tablet. In January, Surface with Windows 8 Pro will be available in two versions: a 64GB version for $899 and a 128GB version for $999 and of course, both will run all current Windows 7 applications. The price is a bit steep, but the functionality over the Windows RT version may justify the high cost.

Nexus 7 killer – meet SmartQ X7 tablet with better specs than Nexus 7 at the same price

The SmartQ X7 7” tablet goes for $249 and includes an impressive arsenal of stats and functionality. In some ways, it’s quite similar to the Nexus 7. They both feature 7” IPS display with 1280 x 800 pixel resolution and they both run Android Jelly Bean. But beyond that, the SmartQ spanks the Nexus 7 in practically every other area. X7 is powered by TI’s OMAP 4470 processor clocked at 1.5 GHz (vs. Google’s 1.2 GHz). And the X7 also comes with PowerVRSGX544 graphics which should surpass the Nexus 7 in multimedia processing capabilities. The SmartQ features 2GB of low-voltage LPDDR2 RAM and 16GB built-in memory and unlike the Nexus 7, the X7 includes a microSD slot for even more memory expansion (up to 32GB). Other features include mini HDMI, built in GPS, WiFi 802.11, Bluetooth 3.0, BLE+EDR, USB port, 2MP front camera and 2MP rear camera all powered by a huge 4200mAH battery. The X7 measures 200.6 x 127.2 x 9.5mm, which is slightly thinner than the Nexus 7, and weighs in at 335 grams. The SmartQ X7 is available in China now and should be shipping to the USA at any time.

Fanless CPU cooler is noiseless but takes the largest (UNBELIEVABLE) heatsink we’ve ever seen to dissipate heat

No, this is not a joke. If you want a fanless and noiseless CPU cooler that REALLY works, this is what it takes. Meet the 2 pound Zalman CNPS FX100-Cube CPU cooler which does not draw dust or generate vibration due to its passive operation. The cooler is made of copper and aluminum and works with 77W TDP (Thermal Design Power) processors, including Intel's i7-3770K. The cooler is expected to be revealed in early 2013 and has already secured an Innovation Award at the upcoming 2013 International CES. How you fit the monster heatsink in your case is an open question. We suggest a hole in the case with the heatsink protruding through it like the air scoops on old hotrod cars.
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