In most new SSDs, the next-gen flash is just a die shrink of the previous generation. The nanoscale features are smaller, enabling higher bit densities, but the technology is fundamentally the same. The flash memory in the 850 Pro is on a whole other level—32 of them, actually. While traditional NAND sticks to a planar layout, the 850 Pro’s V-NAND extends into three dimensions by stacking multiple flash layers on top of one another.
V-NAND is designed to avoid some of the constraints associated with shrinking NAND lithography to ever-smaller process nodes. Samsung claims V-NAND offers higher performance and longer endurance than typical flash, too. Naturally, the 850 Pro follows suit. This baby is billed as not just the fastest SATA drive around, but also the most durable. To underscore that claim, Samsung has given it a 10-year warranty.
So, yeah, the 850 Pro isn’t just another Serial ATA SSD. Let’s see what makes it tick.
Micron wants to shake up decades-old memory implementations with its Hybrid Memory Cube technology, which will be available as an alternative to DRAM modules starting in the first quarter next year.
The memory type, which was first announced in 2011, will provide a much needed speed and power efficiency upgrade from conventional DDR memory. The first HMC implementations will be in servers and high-performance computers starting in early 2015, and could be considered for use in laptops, said Mike Black, technology strategist at Micron.
“Anywhere a system has been challenged by bandwidth, and DDR platform does not provide enough bandwidth, HMC is a good fit,” Black said. For now, the technology could boost performance in supercomputing, cloud computing and in-memory databases, Black said.
HMC memory provides 15 times more bandwidth than conventional DDR3 DRAM modules, and draws 70 percent less energy. It is also provides five times more bandwidth than the emerging DDR4 memory, while consuming significantly less amounts of energy.
Volume Production of the 20nm Node is already going on in Fab 12 and 14. However TSMC will begin 20nm production with Maximum Capacity by Q3 2014. They will begin trial production of 10nm Wafers by 2015 and begin volume production by 2016. They will soon employ a task force consisting of 300-400 people for R&D of the 10nm Node. So far, the majority (around 85%) of the production capability was employed in 28nm Node, specifically the HKMG (High-k Metal Gate) but that should now change very quickly as it begins taping out 20nm dies. Infact, there was a viral story about the first 20nm chip being a bitcoin miner making its rounds a while back. Anyways, the source (apart from our own) is Sweclockers and Digitimes.
However even though volume production is underway, reports indicate that the process is not mature enough for high performance GPU ASICs. Hopefully by the time TSMC starts operating at Maximum Capacity, things will have changed. TSMC’s unexpected (or expected from a Physics point of view) delays in rolling out 20nm has caused quite a hurdle in both AMD and Nvidia’s plans and it is because of this that I remain a bit skeptical about their ability to enter volume production of 10nm by 2016. If the current situation is any indicator then the this will only be for non-GPU chips and the maturation of the process will take some time before it can support high performance ASICs, most probably by late 2016.
The Lenovo X1 Carbon is a great computer for those who seek a laptop that is very durable, productive and comfortable at the same time. I have used it for months during trade shows in many parts of the world, and this computer still looks brand new without visible scratches on the soft skin. I haven’t spilled any liquid on it, but even if I did, it should have survived just fine.
The X1 Carbon proves that toughness does not mean “bulky”. In fact, this is the lightest 14” computer that I know of, and this is a very good thing when I need a larger monitor for development because each additional inch provide precious additional visual comfort.
With an even better display, the X1 would have been nearly perfect. In fact, the display will cost the X1 a possible “excellent” rating, but I still give it a “Very good” rating. Fortunately for Lenovo, a close competitor is the Yoga Pro 2, and if you absolutely want a metal build, the Samsung Series 9+ may be a great alternative.
I hope that this review gave you a good overview of what it is to use the X1 Carbon in the real world. If there’s something specific that you want to know, please leave a comment and I will address it as soon as possible.
Today we have a very special review for our readers, a look at the world’s slimmest and lightest 15.6 inch Gaming Notebook. The MSI GS60 2PE Ghost Pro is currently available in 3 different flavours – one will ship with a 3K screen, another with Nvidia GTX860M discrete graphics. The model we are looking at today however is the most interesting. It ships with a Core i7 4700HQ CPU, a powerful Nvidia GTX870M GPU, 256GB Solid State Storage in ‘Super Raid’ and a more usable 1080p Anti-Glare eDP Wide View angle panel. MSI pack in 8GB of fast DDR3 memory and another 1TB of mechanical storage to sweeten the deal. At only £1,399 is this one of the most portable, but powerful gaming laptops money can buy?
Modern LCDs come in a multitude of different sizes, panel types, and pixel densities. They all tend to have similar rectangular shapes, though. According to display giant Sharp, that’s because the associated driver circuitry is arranged around the perimeter. This placement also creates an effective border, requiring wider bezels that can disrupt multi-screen configs.
Or that’s how things work in standard LCDs, anyway. Sharp has developed a new Free-Form Display that spreads the driver functionality “throughout the pixels of the display area.” There are few specifics about how the approach work, though it’s said to combine IGZO tech with “proprietary circuit design methods.” The free-form goodness enables displays of any shape, Sharp claims, and it also reduces the bezel thickness “considerably.”
Long popular with quiet-PC builders and enthusiasts, Noctua previewed some interesting new technologies at Computex 2014 last week. First up was a velvet-like flock coating that can be applied to fan blades or frames in order to reduce noise:
The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is an amazing and unique computer, there’s no question about it, and if you know its strengths, it will serve you very well. Like any extreme computers, you can’t just get one and expect it to feel like an ordinary laptop. The real question is: is it for you? And to answer that, there are only a few things to take into considerations:“SURFACE PRO 3 IS AN AMAZING AND UNIQUE COMPUTER”
1/ First, I’ll be telling you right away: this is not an iPad or Nexus 7 tablet replacement. Those tablets great at what they do (content consumption), but they are also weak at getting real work done and can’t run legacy apps, or connect with most PC peripherals. Their peak performance is also on the lighter side. If I owned a Surface Pro 3, I would not feel the need to buy an 9.7” iPad. However, if I just needed to consume content, regular tablets are a much more affordable option.
Screen size: 12” is nice and big for a tablet, but also relatively small for a laptop. If you have never owned a 11” laptop or something like that, check one of these in a store nearby. You will be surprised by how nice it looks, and you will get a good feel for how readable (for you) it is.
Laptop Platform Rigidity: When I go Tradeshows my laptop is often resting in places like the top of my backpack, or other uneven places. I sometimes rely heavily on the overall rigidity that clamshell laptops provide. All you need are three points of contacts and you’re good to go. The Surface Pro 3 design doesn’t quite work that way, and may prove difficult to stabilize in extreme conditions. It is a wonderful device on a tablet, or even on your lap, but it just doesn’t rest on a surface the same way a laptop would.
Final words: Surface Pro 3 is easily 33% lighter than most high-end Ultrabooks, and is more portable and more comfortable to carry in your backpack than any other portable PC I’ve used. If like me, you travel a lot, you know that any additional pound matters.
Technically, the hardware platform and the software can do anything a regular Ultrabook does. It is now up to you to think about whether the design will fit your need. Because when it does fit your needs, the Surface Pro 3 will rock your socks off.
It was just a couple of days ago when we brought you word that Samsung and Intel have come together to work on 4K monitors that do not cost a bomb, in fact, they will be priced at an attractive $399 each. Well, with more and more computers being able to support UHD resolution, it makes perfect sense for hardware manufacturers to come up with a compatible display, and Samsung’s latest UD590 UHD monitor does seem to fit the bill perfectly.
Just a little bit of background information – UHD content happens to show off how far we have come in terms of resolution and detail, where it sports four times the resolution and pixels of FHD, making it a true blue treat for one’s eyes. The Samsung UD590 will boast of 8 million pixels at 3840 x 2160 resolution, not to mention having a highest brightness level of 350 cd/m2, without any kind of blur or lag thanks to its best-in-class 1ms response time, with the ability to support approximately 1 billion colors. Contrast that to conventional monitors that feature just 16,700,000 colors (16.7 million), and you have an idea on how far ahead of the game the Samsung UD950 has come.
Not only that, with Picture By Picture (PBP) capability, you will be able to use a couple of computers while sharing the same monitor, now how about that? This is made possible as the monitor is split into two 1920 x 2160 display areas.
While Llama Mountain is only a reference design — an example of the kinds of systems that can be built with the chip — it is the shape of things to come with Core M. Llama Mountain is thinner than the iPad Air or Macbook Air, coming in at 0.28 inches (7.2mm) and 1.4 pounds with a 12.5-inch screen. It’s also fanless, as Core M only requires passive cooling.
The 7-incher sports 1200×1920 pixels of resolution, and is done with Sony’s WhiteMagic technology that adds an extra white pixel to the traditional red, green and blue setup. The RGBW matrix lets the display draw up to 40% less power than conventional LCD screens when indoors, while still offering the very good 500 nits of maximum brightness then.At the same time, on account of the “high permeability of the RGBW pixels,” peak brightness outdoors can receive a twofold boost, reaching up to 1000 nits, and making the display visible even in direct sunlight, which should bode well for all beachgoers. In this ultra high brightness mode, the 7″ display will still draw as much power as a conventional LCD panel outdoors, so on average the battery life of a tablet equipped with this screen, will still be much better than the typical endurance range.
Gaming notebooks have a reputation for being big and unwieldy, but they’ve slimmed down a lot in recent years. Gigabyte’s new Aorus X3 series is a perfect example. Introduced at Computex, this 13-incher measures 0.9″ thick and weighs a reasonable 4.12 lbs.
The X3 is claimed to be the “most powerful and lightest 13″ gaming notebook” yet, and after looking at the specs, I’m not inclined to argue. This thing has a quad-core Core i7-4710HQ processor with a 3.5GHz peak Turbo speed. Nvidia provides the GeForce GTX 870M GPU, which is backed by 6GB of dedicated video RAM. Up to 16GB of system memory can be added on top of that, and SSD RAID arrays are supported via dual M.2 slots.
In combination with a virtual reality device like the Oculus Rift, the new system could be used to make objects or characters in a virtual world sound as well as look like they are at a specific point in space, even if that is outside a person’s field of view. Microsoft’s researchers refer to the technology as 3-D audio.
In a demonstration of the technology at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley lab, I put on a pair of wireless headphones that made nearby objects suddenly burst into life. A voice appeared to emanate from a cardboard model of a portable radio. Higher quality music seemed to come from a fake hi-fi speaker. And a stuffed bird high off the ground produced realistic chirps. As I walked around, the sounds changed so that the illusion never slipped as their position relative to my ears changed.
That somewhat eerie experience was made possible because less than a minute earlier I had sat down in front of a Kinect 3-D sensor and been turned briefly to the left and right. Software built a 3-D model of my head and shoulders and then used that model to calculate a personalized filter that made it possible to fool my auditory senses.
Wearable technology is starting to become more and more mainstream in this day and age, what with the introduction of Google Glass as well as the different designs in which it will come in. Having said that, we are starting to see a new side to wearable technology that looks good to boot. PlasticLogic, the developer of ePaper displays for e-book readers as well as other devices, is now showing off a new flexible display which could see action eventually in the realm of smartwatches as well as other forms of wearable tech.
The latest display happens to be a flexible AMOLED screen which can be used in various devices such as those with a curved form factor, including timepieces as well as bracelets. The new flexible AMOLED display is touted to be able to show off up to 256 different shades of gray, where it is also capable of delivering screen refresh rates of up to 30 frames per second.
Such capability would mean it is able to be used for video in addition to viewing texts and photos, too. Flexible displays are also said to be a whole lot more tougher than usual, since there is no glass to shatter in the first place, and being able to bend makes them more malleable when subjected to the rigors of everyday use.
TAIPEI: INTEL IS TEAMING UP with Samsung to slash to price of 4K monitors and all-in-one (AIO) PCs and bring the ultra high definition (UHD) technology to a wider audience, it announced at Computex on Wednesday.
In order to produce high-resolution panels for monitors and desktops, Intel partnered with Samsung’s display division to make the displays, which it said monitor makers can sell for just $399, or about £250. Intel said that this means consumers will also be able to pick up an AIO PC with a 4K display for $999, or about £625, which is about half the price of 4K PCs that are presently on the market.
Last year, Samsung started producing 3D “V-NAND” that stacks layers of flash memory on top of each other. The three-dimensional flash was deployed in a server SSD last summer, but we haven’t heard much about it since. Or we hadn’t, anyway. Earlier this week, Samsung announced that it has begun producing second-generation V-NAND—and that the 3D flash is coming to high-end PCs.
The second-gen chips have 32 layers, eight more than the originals. They’re built using “essentially the same equipment” as the first-gen stuff, but details are otherwise scarce. Samsung hasn’t even revealed the density of the new V-NAND. The old chips weighed in at 128Gb (16GB) each, which works out to about 5.3Gb per layer. If the same equipment is being used, the planer density could be similar, just with additional layers. Stacking 32 of the old layers would yield a die with around 171Gb of storage.
Samsung’s new V-NAND is coming to PCs in a line of “premium” SSDs with capacities up to 1TB. Those drives have apparently been launched, but I don’t see mention of them anywhere outside the V-NAND press release. There’s no word on pricing, performance, availability, or even whether the interface is SATA or PCIe. The new drives are, however, claimed to consume 20% less power than typical MLC SSDs. They’re supposed to have have double the write endurance, too.
Qualcomm is planning to integrate support for dual cameras into the upcoming Snapdragon 805. This chip will allow both stereo and depth camera processing, letting a manufacturer implement these features without significant work. The new chip will also support taking up to 16MP burst photos at 15 FPS while shooting 4K video, which smartphones are incapable of doing so far.
A breakthrough in solid state drive processing means current drives can be boosted 300 per cent faster with 60 per cent better energy efficiency.
Current flash drives can’t overwrite data on the same memory area. That means data must be written in a new area before the old is invalidated. The result is fragmented data on the memory. A Japanese research team at Chuo University has cracked the problem for drastically faster write speeds and lower power consumption.
The team has overcome the issue by changing the middleware that controls storage for database applications. The new method uses a “logical block address scrambler” which basically stops data being written to a new page and places it in a block to be erased in the next sweep. That means fewer pages, less copying and ultimately a better drive.
Current NAND flash drives can be adapted to work in this way meaning 55 per cent fewer write and erase cycles, extending the device’s life. Since the changes are so small but have such a huge effect we’d expect to see them appear very soon.
While Snapdragon 805 is designed to bring additional performance, it is primarily a vehicle to introduce new features. As such, it will be more expensive for handset makers than the Snapdragon 801 counterpart, which is why Qualcomm expects both chips to be in circulation until sometime in 2015.
It is interesting to see how graphics performance is evolving much faster than CPU performance in general. And since this is Qualcomm’s first generation DX11-level graphics hardware, expect the next revision to provide another boost due to optimizations of the same architecture.
We have seen the same thing happen in the PC world where GPUs grew in performance at a rate the industry called More’s law “cubed”. That’s because they can easily scale by having more cores since “computer graphics” is a massively parallel problem in which each pixel can be processed nearly independently from the others.
The other thing to remember is that mobile devices aren’t just built for “absolute” top performance because the most important factor remains their power consumption, which is limited. In fact, a lot of the performance improvements could be better expressed in terms of performance-per-watt, and this is something that benchmarks scores don’t always show well. But that is another story…
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