Today’s keyboards use digital controllers, and Cherry says their debounce delay is 20 ms on average. The company’s RealKey technology uses an analog controller that’s able to shorten that delay to just 1 ms. The graphs above show how the two systems differ. (Use the buttons underneath to switch between them.)
RealKey’s analog mojo has another advantage. Because every key and key combo produces a discrete analog signal, ghosting “simply does not happen,” Cherry says. In other words, no matter how many keys are pressed at the same time, the controller won’t fail to register some of them, nor will it register incorrect keystrokes. Some current mechanical keyboards already implement anti-ghosting countermeasures, but as I understand it, RealKey should make those obsolete.
Thin is in—and has been for quite some time in the laptop industry. Now, Lenovo is trying to break records in the weight category. The company says its new LaVie Z lineup includes the world’s lightest 13.3″ notebook, the 1.72-lb HZ550, and the world’s lightest 13.3″ convertible, the 2.04-lb HZ750.
Gigabyte’s Waterforce cooler is designed to be strapped to the top of your case and, thanks to the magic of closed-loop liquid cooling, to keep three hot-clocked GeForce GTX 980 graphics cards chilly. It looks impressive in press shots, and it looked doubly impressive on the CES show floor today.
Two new models have been added to Asus’ growing stable of gaming monitors. The most exciting is the ROG Swift PG27AQ, a 27″ unit with all the right buzzwords: G-Sync, IPS, and 4K.
The Tegra X1 is NVIDIA’s newer mobile chip, sporting a 64-bit CPU with eight cores as well as a 256-core Maxwell GPU. NVIDIA says that the X1 offers more than a teraflop of processing power and that it’s twice as powerful as its Tegra K1 predecessor. The Tegra X1 can also do 4K video at 60 frames per second.
In addition to beating the Tegra K1 in terms of raw performance, the Tegra X1 also bests it in energy efficiency. NVIDIA says that according to the GFXBench 3.0 benchmark test, its Tegra X1 is twice as energy efficient as the K1.
Acer is showing off some great new monitors at the Consumer Electronics Show 2015. The 27-inch XB270HU gaming monitor happens to be the first with NVIDIA’s G-SYNC technology. It has got another up its sleeve which boasts another world first. Acer XG270HU is the world’s first gaming monitor with an edge-to-edge frameless 27-inch display with 2,560×1,440 pixel resolution and a 144Hz refresh rate.
The fact that it is an edge-to-edge frameless display means that the viewing area is maximized and this provides a seamless viewing experience particularly for multi-monitor setups. Smooth rendering of actions and dramatic transitions is provided courtesy of a 1ms response time without any ghosting or smearing effects.
XG270HU has HDMI 2.0, DVI and DisplayPort 1.2 in a body that’s made out of post-consumer recycled ABS plastic with a bold orange strip running along the bottom horizontal frame, which also outlines the base stand.
Acer EyeProtect is also built into this monitor to reduce eye strain and “potential long-term damage to eye health” by heavy users like programmers and gamers. This brings the flicker-less technology which zaps screen flicker with a staple supply of power. The ComfyView technology reduces reflection from light sources on the non-glare panel.
The XG270HU is going to be available globally, Acer is going to commence shipping from March this year.
Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST), a subsidiary of Western Digital, has hosted a conference in Taipei, Taiwan, inviting its partners in the Greater China region to showcase its latest standard storage, enterprise storage, cloud computing and Big Data innovations including HGST Virident Space, the HelioSeal platform and Active Archive.
HGST has developed data center-level 10TB hard drives using its HelioSeal and SMR technologies and the 8TB HelioSeal-featured Ultrastar He8. The HelioSeal is able to increase hard drives’ storage space by over 40% and help its hard drives become 30-40% more stable than competitors, HGST noted.
The company has already supplied the Ultrastar He8 to its partners such as Netflix, Huawei, Inspur, Promise Technology for testing.
Thanks to PCI-Express, it is possible to achieve substantially higher throughput rates than with Serial ATA 600, without the need to come up with a completely new interface. A single PCI-Express lane of the 2.0 generation offers a throughput of 500 MB/s. PCI-Express SSD controllers generally use two or four lanes, resulting in throughput rates of 1000 MB/s and 2000 MB/s, respectively, with the latter value being well over three times as high as SATA600’s maximum throughput. Switching to PCI-Express version 3.0 would then double these values, increasing them to 2000 MB/s and 4000 MB/s. Such increases obviously allow for rather huge leaps in performance. That said, we’ll no doubt also be able to reach these kinds of speeds before long by driving a sufficient amount of flash chips in parallel.
Samsung Electronics Starts Production Of 8 Gigabit LPDDR4 Mobile RAM Chips, Coming Soon To A Galaxy Near You
Samsung makes sure to note the 20-nanometer microarchitecture of the new chips, which allows for both faster processing and less power consumption. The quoted speed for the RAM is an astonishing 3.2 gigabits per second, considerably faster than most DDR3 memory modules available for full-sized desktops. Production of the smaller 2GB and 3GB versions of the chip (4 and 6 gigabit, respectively) based on the same architecture began earlier this month. Samsung claims that the new chips are so efficient that a single 2GB module uses 40% less power than a similar setup with its previous-generation LPDDR3 memory.
Samsung says it will start providing the 8 gigabit, 4GB chips to its OEM partners starting early in 2015. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that we could start seeing a big crop of 4GB flagship devices as soon as Mobile World Congress, with perhaps some ambitious manufactures doubling up the modules for 8GB. Overkill? Probably. Awesome? Absolutely.
Remember Crossbar, the firm developing resistive random access memory (RRAM) with higher performance and endurance than NAND? The company announced a breakthrough at the International Electron Devices Meeting earlier this week. We caught up with VP of marketing and business development Sylvain Dubois for an explanation—and to find out how close Crossbar is to actually delivering RRAM products.
Crossbar is pursuing two RRAM applications. The embedded variant is designed to provide on-chip storage for microcontrollers, SoCs, and the like. There’s also a higher-density version meant for discrete storage, like SSDs.
According to Dubois, the embedded stuff is “very close” to commercialization. Crossbar isn’t talking specifics just yet, but it has multiple “alpha customers” integrating RRAM tech into their chips. The first samples are expected in a few months, and mass production could begin by the end of next year or early 2016. The timeline for embedded products is somewhat contingent on what’s going on in the rest of the chip, which is outside Crossbar’s domain.
One of the difficulties with purchasing a mechanical keyboard is that they are quite expensive and vary greatly in subtle, but important ways. First and foremost, we have the different types of keyswitches. These are the components that are responsible for making each button behave, and thus varying them will lead to variations in how those buttons react and feel.
In August, Seagate revealed that it had started shipping its first 8TB hard drive. Details were scarce at the time, but the drive has finally appeared on Seagate’s website along with fresh information on what makes it tick.
As we suspected this summer, the new Archive HDD family uses Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR). Instead of laying down tracks side-by-side with space between them, SMR uses overlapping tracks that can be packed more tightly. Seagate credits this approach with a 25% increase in storage density.
V-NAND tackles those weaknesses in several ways. First, it trades the floating gates typically found in planar NAND for a 3D charge-trap that’s inherently more robust. This structure stores electrons in a trapping oxide that wraps around a vertical electron channel. The oxide is an insulator, so any physical damage only affects electrons in the immediate vicinity. With floating gates, a breach in the oxide can drain the entire contents of the cell, rendering it useless.
Stacking cells vertically also helps V-NAND’s endurance. Instead of increasing the bit density by making the cells smaller, and thus weaker, Samsung lays down multiple layers based on a fairly large 40-nm planar geometry. The company claims this coarser 2D process puts enough distance between the cells to completely eliminate interference along the horizontal bit lines. Samsung says there’s enough space between the layers to virtually eliminate interference along the vertical word lines.
With less interference to worry about, V-NAND can employ a simpler programming algorithm that improves write performance. It can also exploit the inherent robustness of the trapping oxide to program the cells more aggressively—or write less aggressively to extend the life of the flash.
SK Hynix has officially listed HBM memory for Graphic Cards on its official catalog for Q1 2015. This is huge news, because this means that HBM memory is now readily available for GPU manufacturers such as Nvidia and AMD to utilize in their GPUs.
If you want to know what the future of hard drives holds, the Advanced Storage Technology Consortium is probably a good place to start. Otherwise known as the ASTC, the group was founded by a collection of industry heavyweights that includes HGST, Seagate, and WD. It’s billed as a “forum for collaborative joint R&D efforts,” giving its projections credible weight.
According to the ATSC’s latest roadmap, mechanical storage densities will increase at an accelerated rate starting in a few years, when heat-assisted and bit-patterned recording kick into gear. The good times will supposedly continue until at least 2025, when areal densities should be high enough to enable 100TB hard drives.
ASRock’s workstation-oriented X99 WS-E/10G motherboard takes networking to a whole ‘nother level. First, there are the dual Gigabit Ethernet jacks, each one powered by an Intel I210AT controller. On top of those, the board has dual 10-GigE connections fueled by an Intel X540 chip. And teaming is supported, which allows the onboard connections to form a single link with a monstrous 22Gbps of bandwidth.
So, what’s all the extra bandwidth for? Making your Internet faster, of course. The press release starts like so: “If you are unsatisfied with your internet bandwidth but at the same time reluctant to succumb to those malevolent internet providers, now is the time for a major hardware upgrade!” ASRock has even produced a YouTube video showing the board hitting 20360Mbps in an “Internet speed test” that looks conspicuously like it’s running on a LAN.
Even if that speed test is legit, most folks have substantially slower connections to their ISPs. Heck, Google Fiber tops out at only 1000Mbps. 10-Gigabit Ethernet may be great for sufficiently fast local networks, but billing it as a way to improve Internet performance is disingenuous at best.
Apart from having an over-the-top networking configuration, the X99 WS-E/10G is loaded with other goodies. It has seven expansion slots and support for four-way CrossFire and SLI configurations. An M.2 x4 slot hangs off the CPU, while dual PLX switch chips redistribute the platform’s PCIe payload. There are 12 SATA ports, too, plus one SATA Express connector and one “SATA DOM” port meant for tiny disk-on-module drives.
In another nod to the workstation crowd, the board supports Xeon E5 v3 processors based on Haswell-EP silicon. Up to 128GB of ECC memory can be spread across the eight DDR4 DIMM slots. ASRock also mentions compatibility with 1U chassis and “Windows server operating systems.”
During an investor webcast this afternoon, Intel revealed that it will offer SSDs based on 3D NAND in the second half of next year. The three-dimensional tech is the product of the firm’s joint flash venture with Micron. It stacks 32 planar layers to deliver 256Gb (32GB) of storage in a single MLC die. The 3D NAND can also be packed with three bits per cell to hit 384Gb (48GB) per die.
According to Rob Crooke, senior VP and general manager of Intel’s non-volatile memory group, the 3D NAND will enable 10TB SSDs “within the next couple of years.” The technology can also squeeze 1TB of storage into a mobile-friendly form factor just two millimeters thick.
Crooke characterized the 3D tech as having a “breakthrough cost” but didn’t provide more specifics. He did, however, suggest that Intel may not manufacture the 3D NAND itself. “We have the ability,” Crooke said, but Intel will only bring production in-house “if it makes sense.” Benefiting from the cost breakthrough presumably requires a substantial capital investment up front.
The 3D NAND’s planar layers are built with a coarser fabrication process than the latest and greatest 2D flash. Those layers are pierced by four billion “pillars” that run vertically through the die, but Intel isn’t ready to disclose specifics about the underlying process geometry.
Crooke effectively demoed working silicon by running his presentation off a prototype drive. Intel hasn’t decided which market segment will get the first taste, though. Datacenters, corporate clients, and PC enthusiasts top the list.
Samsung’s 32-layer V-NAND has 86Gb per die in MLC mode and 128Gb in a TLC config, giving Intel and Micron a substantial density advantage—at least per die. That said, a new generation of V-NAND should be ready by the second half of 2015. It will be interesting to see how those chips stack up against the 256Gb monsters Intel has cooked up with Micron.
Apple’s A-series Application Processors that power iPads—including the latest and greatest A8X in iPad Air 2—are inciting billion dollar losses for Intel and threatening major problems for rival tablet chips from Qualcomm, Samsung and Nvidia, along with all the companies that depend upon those vendors for their mobile chips.
In a couple of years, supersized smartphones may be available with 4K displays. Nikkei Technology reports that Sharp is demoing a new IGZO prototype that crams a 2560×1600 display resolution into a 4.1″ panel. The pixel density works out to an incredible 736 PPI, which is high enough to squeeze a 4K display into a phablet-friendly 6″ footprint. For reference, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 is 515 PPI, Google’s Nexus 6 is 493 PPI, and Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus is 401 PPI.
Prior to the new prototype, Sharp’s highest-density IGZO unit was just under 500 PPI. New, ultra-small pixels enabled the jump to a higher resolution. According to an image posted by Gizmodo, the prototype’s RGB clusters are just 11.5 µm wide—less than half the width of the 27-µm pixels found in older 4.7″, 720p smartphone displays.
Those 11.5-µm pixels will likely be impossible to see with the naked eye. Higher pixel densities can make images appear sharper and more detailed even when the individual dots are too small to be visible, though. The returns from ever-higher-density displays may not diminish as quickly as one might expect. That said, higher-density displays typically require more power to achieve the same brightness levels.
Sharp’s new panel tech is scheduled to start sampling to handset makers next year. Mass production will reportedly begin in 2016.
Backblaze says its efforts to anticipate drive failures concentrate on just five attributes:
SMART 5 – Reallocated_Sector_Count
SMART 187 – Reported_Uncorrectable_Errors
SMART 188 – Command_Timeout
SMART 197 – Current_Pending_Sector_Count
SMART 198 – Offline_Uncorrectable
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