Archive for October, 2012

Intel 335 SSD ThumbnailIntel, the world’s largest semiconductor chip maker, today started shipping its Solid State Drive (SSD) 335 Series using the smallest, most efficient multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash on the market. According to Intel the 335 Series is the first to employ a 20-nanometer (nm) NAND flash memory process, which were produced by IM Flast Technologies (IMFT), a joint venture of Micron and Intel.

The 335 Series SSDs sport a 6Gbps SATA interface paired with a SandForce SF-2281 controller using custom Intel firmware. The new line kicks off with a single 240GB model capable of up to 500MB/s sequential reads and up to 450MB/s sequential writes, along with 4KB reads up to 42,000 IOPS and writes up to 52,000 IOPS. Intel’s intent with the 335 Series is to blend “cutting-edge performance and Intel quality at a consumer friendly price,” the chip maker said.

Intel says the 20nm IMFT NAND uses a new planar cell structure — the first in the industry — that enables more aggressive cell scaling than conventional architectures. According to Intel, performance and reliability are on par with the previous 25nm generation products.

“The Intel SSD 335 uses Hi-K/metal gate planar cell technology, which overcomes NAND process scaling constraints to deliver the smallest-area NAND cell and die in the industry,” said Rob Crooke, Intel vice president and general manager for the Intel Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) Solutions Group. “By pushing technology constraints and using process innovation, Intel can continue to progress SSD technology and pass along savings to our customers.”

Intel 335 SSD

No word on when other capacities will be available. For now, you can find the 240GB model selling for as low as $195 street, or a little over 81 cents per gigabyte.

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Mozilla CakeThe launch of Windows 8 last week also marked the official release of Internet Explorer 10, which ships with the new OS (Windows 7 users can download a release preview, or hang tight until November for a finished build). Microsoft thinks IE10 is the best browser on the planet, and while Mozilla might disagree with such a claim, animosity doesn’t run high between the two companies. Just the opposite, actually. In fact, Mozilla sent Microsoft a cake for shipping IE10.

That might seem like a snarky, back-handed gift, but it’s actually a long-standing tradition that Microsoft started years ago. According to Matt Brubeck, a programmer and Mozilla employee, the Internet Explorer team sent Mozilla a congratulatory cake for the release of Firefox 2 in 2006.

“This continued for Firefox 3 and Firefox 4,” Brubeck explains. “After Firefox switched from major releases once or twice a year to incremental updates every six weeks, they sent us a cupcake for the next few updates instead.”

It’s a friendly tradition of mutual respect, and one in which Mozilla may have just revived by sending Microsoft a cake for shipping IE10.

“Thanks to Firefox for helping celebrate IE10 launch w/ cake! We look forward to Firefox for Windows 8 soon!,” the Internet Explorer team posted to Twitter.

IE10 Cake

Perhaps Microsoft will return the favor when Firefox for Windows 8 ships. In the meantime, you can take the Firefox Metro Preview for Windows 8 out for a test drive.

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CluelessA new survey conducted by The Associated Press and GfK reveals that the majority of American adults are completely oblivious to Windows 8. That’s bad news for Microsoft, which is banking on Windows 8 and its touch friendly features to transform the landscape by unifying both desktop and mobile platforms under a singular UI, one that represents a re-imagining of Windows and a new era in computing.

Microsoft can’t do all that until it educates people on Windows 8, not just on features, but its existence. AP and GfK took to the phone lines and spoke with 1,200 adults living in the U.S. Over half — 52 percent — indicated they haven’t even heard of Windows 8, Yahoo reports.

As for the ones who said they’re at least somewhat familiar with the new OS, 61 percent said they weren’t interested in buying a system with Windows installed, and just over a third — 35 percent — said they believed Windows 8 would be an improvement over Windows 7.

“I am not real thrilled they are changing things around,” said Chris Dionne, a 43-year-old engineer living in Connecticut. “Windows 7 does everything I want it to. Where is the return on my investment to learn a new OS?”

That attitude may change, both as Windows 8 becomes more commonplace and as the result of an aggressive marketing campaign. Microsoft plans to spend more than a billion dollars marketing Windows 8, which has already begun with a spattering of Surface commercials.

Windows 8 Boxes

Speaking of Surface, be sure to watch our Windows 8 Launch Video, in which we took a video camera to Microsoft’s San Jose Windows Store and filmed consumers’ reactions to Surface RT, as well as an unboxing of Microsoft’s tablet.

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Titan SupercomputerThe U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory today announced the completion of Titan, a supercomputer capable of processing more than 20,000 trillion calculations per second. That’s equivalent to 20 petaflops, which is 10 times more powerful than Jaguar, ORNL’s previous flagship supercomputer. All that power will be put to use to research energy, climate change, efficient engines, materials, and to play Crysis. Wait, what?

We made that last part up, but even though Titan won’t be used for gaming, Nvidia’s DNA is all over this thing. Titan is a Cray XK7 system containing 18,688 nodes, each of which holds an Nvidia Tesla K20 GPU and a 16-core AMD Opteron 6274 processor. It also boasts 700 terabytes of memory. Despite being so much more powerful than Jaguar, Titan takes up the same amount of floor space while using marginally more electricity.

“One challenge in supercomputers today is power consumption,” said Jeff Nichols, associate laboratory director for computing and computational sciences. “Combining GPUs and CPUs in a single system requires less power than CPUs alone and is a responsible move toward lowering our carbon footprint. Titan will provide unprecedented computing power for research in energy, climate change, materials and other disciplines to enable scientific leadership.”


Titan will rely on its GPUs to do the “heavy lifting,” while the 299,008 CPU cores crunch through simulation data. According to ORNL, this strategy will enable researchers to run scientific calculations with greater speed and accuracy than before. To put it into perspective, ORNL says Titan can simulate from one to five years per day of computing time, compared to three months or so that Jaguar was able to process.

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Kindle Fire HDThe iPad Mini announcement sent Apple fanboy’s into a mouth foaming frenzy, however, just about everyone else had one minor issue with the companies new entry level tablet. Without putting too fine a point on it, the $329 starting price that Apple is so proud of isn’t actually all that competitive given the hardware specifications, especially considering the economies of scale the company enjoys. We knew Apple probably wasn’t going after the $199 tablet market, however the $130 delta between the Kindle Fire HD and iPad Mini seems to have helped Amazon immensely.

According to the online retailer turned device juggernaut, the Kindle Fire HD logged its largest sales day ever on Wednesday following the iPad Mini unveiling, revealing a weakness in Apple’s new strategy.  It looks like a number of budget tablet buyers were waiting for Apple to play its hand before making up their minds, and Apple has simply failed to convince people they are worth the 65 percent premium.

To be clear Apple will probably still sell every last iPad Mini it can manufacture, but it seems clear they have simply ceded the tablet market to Amazon and Google below $329 for the next year. 

Will the iPad Mini stem the tide of low cost Android tablets?

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