Archive for June, 2012

Comcast, the nation’s largest cable TV operator, has settled a complaint brought forth by federal regulators for failing to comply with certain conditions of its NBCUniversal acquisition. As part of the settlement, Comcast will fork over an $800,000 voluntary contribution to the U.S. Treasury and offer broadband Internet access as standalone service “at reasonable prices and with sufficient bandwidth” without requiring a subscription to cable video service.

“Today’s action demonstrates that compliance with Commission orders is not optional,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement (PDF). “The remedies announced today will benefit consumers and foster competition, including from online video and satellite providers, by ensuring that standalone broadband is truly available in Comcast’s service areas. I am pleased we were able to resolve this issue.”

Specifically, Comcast is ordered to offer standalone broadband services with a download speed of at least 6Mbps for no more than $49.95 for three years, according to the agreement. Comcast is prohibited from raising prices for two years, and must also “visibly offer and actively market” its standalone Internet service.

The FCC outlined several conditions Comcast must follow in relation to the agreement, such as training its customer service staff to reinforce awareness with the Performance Starter service, listing the Performance Starter service tier on product lists, and conducting a major advertisting campaign promoting affordable broadband.

“This Consent Decree is a huge win for consumers,” FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Michele Ellison said. “It reinforces and extends the terms of the Commission’s merger order to ensure that consumers have reasonably priced standalone broadband Internet options, as teh Commission originally intended.”

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One of the many technologies Google talked about yesterday on Day 1 of its three-day Google I/O conference is Project Glass, a wearable computer of sorts that essentially integrates the functions of a smartphone into a pair of slim glasses. A rather exhilarating demo showed a series of stunts captured on video by people wearing the glasses, from skydiving over San Francisco to scaling Moscone Center, and you can’t help but get at least a little excited seeing the technology come to fruition right before your eyes. We’re not talking 10 years from now, either. In fact, programmers attending the conference have the option of pre-ordering an “Explorer Edition” prototype for $1,500, which will ship out early next year.

“This is new technology and we really want you to shape it,” Google’s Sergey Brin told attendees. “We want to get it out into the hands of passionate people as soon as possible.”

Project Glass has been in development for the past couple of years, and while some of the specific hardware remains a mystery, Google did say each pair of glasses will sport a “pretty powerful processor” in the upper right corner, gobs of memory, a touchpad on the side, various wireless radios, a microphone and speakers, an assortment of sensors, and a tiny camera.

If you haven’t done so already, check out the gnarly skydiving demonstration, as seen by someone wearing a pair of Google Glasses.

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Sonus Networks is hoping to parlay its session border controllers from obscure infrastructure for carriers into the engine that lets corporate IT pros better integrate their disparate unified communications platforms, but first it needs to get service providers on board.

Google was widely expected to bring some new toys to the table today, the opening day of the company’s annual I/O developer’s conference, and boy, Sergey and co. sure didn’t disappoint. The long-rumored Galaxy Nexus tablet is no longer just a rumor, Jelly Bean — a.k.a. Android 4.1 — is official, and the company’s even moving into the multimedia space with the launch of the Nexus Q multimedia streamer.

The 7-inch Google Nexus tablet is already available in the Play Store for the Kindle Fire-competing prices of $199 for an 8GB version and $250 for a 16GB model. For a limited time, you’ll get $25 in Play Store credit, a digital copy of the latest Transformers movie and other bundled content if you pick one up. Under the hood, the Nexus tablet outshines the Kindle Fire with a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, a 1280×800 IPS display, NFC capabilities and a 1.2MP front camera.

It’s also packing in Jelly Bean, the latest version of the Android operating system. Jelly Bean’s biggest claim to fame is Project Butter, which allows the OS to speed along at a brisk 60fps frame rate. There’s also been some nifty-sounding changes to the way Android handles widgets on home screens, a big improvement to the already stellar notification system and more, all of which you can read about in depth at Engadget. Jelly Bean will be rolling out to Nexus and Xoom devices next month.

The Google Nexus Q looks like a big ol’ ball and chain, but it’s a cloud-based device that lets you stream music and videos to your TV. Google Play’s music app lets you share playlists with pals, and anybody with an Android device can leap in and share or control content of their own. Connectivity-wise, the Nexus Q is loaded, with HDMI, S/PDIF, micro-USB. Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, banana jack speakers connections and NFC all on board. Google’s Play Store will also begin selling movies, magazines and TV shows today. The Nexus Q cost $299 and is expected to start shipping in 2 to 3 weeks.

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Coming up with new CPU designs isn’t quite as easy as coming up with new flavors of ice cream. First, you need to figure out exactly what you want the core to accomplish, along with what critical components are needed to meet that goal. Then, after that’s sorted, the process moves to a second stage called “design implementation” — basically, figuring out how to actually make the CPU the architectural engineers dreamed up. It’s a long, laborious procedure, but now North Carolina State University researchers claim they’ve developed a tool to quickly automate the design implementation process.

The researchers say their tool allows CPU core designers to simply plug in their architectural specifications; the tool will take it from there and handle all the implementation design dirty work, and in much less time than it takes humans to complete the same task. The university claims that this tool can cut development time for a new CPU design from years down to months.

Here’s the elevator pitch for the tool, straight from the NCSU website:

Specifically, the tool creates a “synthesizable register-transfer-level design” of the core. This design can be used to create the suite of manufacturing blueprints manufacturers need to actually fabricate the cores.

“Processor designers will be free to create interesting ensembles of diverse cores because they won’t be bogged down by the minutiae of core implementation,” says Eric Rotenberg, the lead engineer on the process. “In turn this will lead to faster and more capable computing devices that last longer between battery charges.”

Heady words, but are they true? Engineering geeks who also happen to be IEEE subscribers can check out the full research paper and judge things for themselves. (Non-subscribers can purchase the article for $19.) The rest of us will just have to wait and see if Intel’s tick-tocks start coming out on a quarterly basis.

Via Engadget

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