Dell Unveils 720TB Storage Server

November 18, 2014 by admin  
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Dell has unveiled the DCS XA90, an “ultra-dense” storage server capable of holding 720TB of data in a single 4U chassis.

Described by CEO Michael Dell on stage at the Dell World conference as “the power of a diesel truck in a Mini Cooper”, the DCS XA90 storage server means that a single Dell modular data centre of these units would hold 220PB of data, nearly a quarter of an exabyte.

“In a world where we could download our memories into those servers, we could house the experiences of about 90 people, an entire neighbourhood of digital lives,” said Dell.

He explained that the development of the DCS XA90 was driven by the demand for data storage that is “speeding us towards an exascale future”.

“That is what drove Dell to develop the DCS XA90 for our customers seeking extreme storage density and flexibility as they build out the cloud infrastructure of the future,” Dell added.

The DCS XA90 also packs two independent server nodes featuring Intel Xeon E5-2600v3 processors into each chassis, which Dell said makes it better for data-intensive analytics as well as archival storage.

As part of the announcement, Dell also revealed its PowerEdge FX architecture, a 2U enclosure with six PowerEdge server, storage and network IOA sleds built specifically to fit into the FX2 chassis and support varying workloads.

Due to ship in December, the PowerEdge FX architecture is described as “next-generation convergence” and a game changer in the IT industry, offering the flexibility to build configurations to meet requirements while simplifying management.

“There are other vendors who talk about convergence purely by doing an architecture rack,” said Dell’s server marketing vice president Ravi Pendekanti .

For example, HP’s Moonshot platform “just puts a bunch of blades together”, while Oracle’s Exadata platform “does one thing, and one thing really well, which is run Oracle’s enterprise applications”, he said.

The PowerEdge FX, which stands for ‘flexible infrastructure’, comprises a specially designed 2U rack-mount FX2 enclosure that can be filled with a choice of sled modules offering differing capabilities, enabling customers to adopt a building block approach to their infrastructure.

At launch, the sleds comprise a handful of full-width, half-width and quarter-width compute modules that allow customers to pick the performance and density required for applications such as web hosting, virtualisation or running databases, plus a half-width storage sled that can provide direct attached storage for the compute nodes.

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Intel Opens Up Core M

November 17, 2014 by admin  
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Intel has extended its Core M range of fanless mobile chips by adding four models to the three initial Core M processors launched at the IFA trade show in September.

Like those first fanless models, Intel’s new Core M processors are dual-core chips that support Hyperthreading in up to four threads and have thermal design power (TDP) ratings of 4.5W.

They’re faster than the initial Core M chips, with base clock speeds ranging from 800MHz to 1.2GHz and Turbo Boost speeds from 2GHz to 2.9GHz.

The firm’s initial Core M chips were also rated at 4.5W TDP but topped out at 1.1GHz and 2.6GHz under Turbo Boost.

These additional fanless mobile chips are configurable by system designers, in that OEMs can scale the chip speeds and power consumption up or down depending on the purpose and configuration of the device.

A compact tablet or notebook can conserve power by limiting processor speed, while a larger device can offer higher speed at the cost of higher power draw and heat.

Thus, these new Core M chips can be configured from 600MHz base clock speed and 3.5W TDP to 1.4GHz base clock speed and 6W TDP in the fastest model.

Intel has also boosted the integrated graphics processors in these latest Core M chips, offering GPU base clock speeds ranging from 300MHz to 900MHz, whereas the initial models supported 100MHz to 850MHz.

The detailed specifications of all of Intel’s Core M mobile processors are available on the firm’s website.

Intel said that these new fanless Core M processors will start hitting the market early next year.

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Adobe Eases Privacy Concerns

November 14, 2014 by admin  
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Tests on the latest version of Adobe System’s e-reader software reveals the company is now collecting less data following a privacy-related row last month, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Digital Editions version 4.0.1 appears to only collect data on e-books that have DRM (Digital Rights Management), wrote Cooper Quintin, a staff technologist with the EFF. DRM places restrictions on how content can be used with the intent of thwarting piracy.

Adobe was criticized in early October after it was discovered Digital Editions collected metadata about e-books on a device, even if the e-books did not have DRM. Those logs were also sent to Adobe in plain text.

Since that data was not encrypted, critics including the EFF contended it posed major privacy risks for users. For example, plain text content could be intercepted by an interloper from a user who is on the same public Wi-Fi network.

Adobe said on Oct. 23 it fixed the issues in 4.0.1, saying it would not collect data on e-books without DRM and encrypt data that is transmitted back to the company.

Quintin wrote the EFF’s latest test showed the “only time we saw data going back to an Adobe server was when an e-book with DRM was opened for the first time. This data is most likely being sent back for DRM verification purposes, and it is being sent over HTTPS.”

If an e-book has DRM, Adobe may record how long a person reads it or the percentage of the content that is read, which is used for “metered” pricing models.

Other technical metrics are also collected, such as the IP address of the device downloading a book, a unique ID assigned to the specific applications being used at the time and a unique ID for the device, according to Adobe.

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Will The Chip Industry Take Fall?

October 24, 2014 by admin  
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Microchip Technology has managed to scare Wall Street by warning of an industry downturn. This follows rumours that a number of US semiconductor makers with global operations are reducing demand for chips in regions ranging from Asia to Europe.

Microchip Chief Executive Steve Sanghi warned that the correction will spread more broadly across the industry in the near future. Microchip expects to report sales of $546.2 million for its fiscal second quarter ending in September. The company had earlier forecast revenue in a range of $560 million to $575.9 million. Semiconductor companies’ shares are volatile at the best of times and news like this is the sort of thing that investors do not want to hear.

Trading in Intel, whiich is due to report third quarter results tomorrow, was 2.6 times the usual volume. Micron, which makes dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, was the third-most traded name in the options market. All this seems to suggest that the market is a bit spooked and much will depend on what Chipzilla tells the world tomorrow as to whether it goes into a nosedive.

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Will ARM Servers Help HP’s Bottom Line?

October 17, 2014 by admin  
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The maker of expensive printer ink HP expects new lower-power servers made with technology from ARM Holdings to make inroads in niche data centres over the next year. If vice president of server engineering Tom Bradicich is right, then it could give Intel a good kicking in its bottom line.

Bradicich said that penetration is low at the moment because the ARM chip was starting from nothing but the take-up is pretty encouraging. HP this week launched new servers made with chips designed by Applied Micro Circuits with intellectual property licensed from ARM. ARM’s supporters, which now include HP say some data centres can be made more cost effective and energy efficient by using them instead of Intel’s server chips.

Bradicich said HP’s new 64-bit ARM-based servers were ideal for handling specialized data-centre workloads like search and scientific analysis. Sandia National Laboratories and the University of Utah plan to use HP’s new servers for scientific analysis and high-performance computing, while PayPal plans to use another version of the servers.

With AMD and other chipmakers working on their own ARM server chips, variety is a key factor for customers that have long depended on Intel, Bradicich said.

Intel has launched its own line of “Atom” low-power server chips to counter the ARM threat. HP offers servers made with Atom chips but said they are not selling that well.

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RedHat Ups Game With Fedora 21

October 10, 2014 by admin  
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RedHat has announced the Fedora 21 Alpha release for Fedora developers and any brave users that want to help test it.

Fedora is the leading edge – some might say bleeding edge – distribution of Linux that is sponsored by Red Hat. That’s where Red Hat and other developers do new development work that eventually appears in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and other Red Hat based Linux distributions, including Centos, Scientific Linux and Mageia, among others. Therefore, what Fedora does might also appear elsewhere eventually.

The Fedora project said the release of Fedora 21 Alpha is meant for testing in order to help it identify and resolve bugs, adding, “Fedora prides itself on bringing cutting-edge technologies to users of open source software around the world, and this release continues that tradition.”

Specifically, Fedora 21 will produce three software products, all built on the same Fedora 21 base, and these will each be a subset of the entire release.

Fedora 21 Cloud will include images for use in private cloud environments like Openstack, as well as AMIs for use on Amazon, and a new image streamlined for running Docker containers called Fedora Atomic Host.

Fedora 21 Server will offer data centre users “a common base platform that is meant to run featured application stacks” for use as a web server, file server, database server, or as a base for offering infrastructure as a service, including advanced server management features.

Fedora 21 Workstation will be “a reliable, user-friendly, and powerful operating system for laptops and PC hardware” for use by developers and other desktop users, and will feature the latest Gnome 3.14 desktop environment.

Those interested in testing the Fedora 21 Alpha release can visit the Fedora project website.

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MediaTek Goes IoT

October 6, 2014 by admin  
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SoC designer MediaTek has launched a new push to develop technologies used in wearables and Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices.

Dubbed MediaTek Labs, the new organisation will offer tools for developers such as software and hardware development kits (SDKs and HDKs), but it will also offer other forms of support, i.e. tech support and marketing.

MediaTek LinkIt dev platform

The MediaTek LinkIt platform promises to offer a full-service approach for developers keen to enter the space. It allows developers familiar with MediaTek’s Arduino implementation to quickly migrate to the new platform

For the time being the platform is limited to the MediaTek Aster MT2502A processor. The company says it is the world’s smallest commercially available SoC. The chip can work with MediaTek’s WiFi and GPS companion chipsets.

The company is calling on developers to join the MediaTek Labs initiative and in case you are interested you can check out the details on the new MediaTek Labs website.

MediaTek Aster spec

Now for some juicy hardware. The Aster MT2502A is an ARM7 EJ-S part clocked at 260MHz. The dev board features 4MB of RAM and 16MB of flash. GPS and WiFi capability can be added using the MT3332 and MT5931 chips. The platform supports microSD, Bluetooth (including BLE), along with GSM and GPRS communications.

The Aster is clearly not an SoC for feature packed wearables with high resolution screens, but it could be used in more down to earth applications such as fitness trackers.

MediaTek says it will offer three platforms based on two wearable solutions. The One Application Use (OAU) platform is for fitness trackers and simple Bluetooth devices. The Simple Application Platform (SAU) is intended for smart watches, wristbands and more elaborate fitness trackers.

SAU is the focus segment for the Aster chipset and it should offer 5 to 7 days of battery life.

MediaTek Rich Application Platform

The Rich Application Platform (RAU) is for Android Wear and it will offer a lot more functionality out of the box, including camera support, 3D graphics, as well as Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS in the same package.

This platform sounds a bit more interesting, but details are sketchy. For some reason many media outlets erroneously described the first Aster chip as MediaTek’s only smartwatch chip, but it is clearly not intended for the Rich Application Platform.

We have yet to see what sort of silicon MediaTek can conjure up for high-end wearables, but this is what it has in mind. The platform is designed for high-end smartwatches and glasses. It will feature multicore processors clocked at 1GHz or more. The platform also includes Bluetooth, GSM/GPRS, GPS, WiFi, sensors and a proper TFT screen. Battery life is described as short, two to three days, which sounds a bit better than what the current generation of smartwatches can deliver.

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nVidia Finally Goes 20nm

October 3, 2014 by admin  
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For much of the year we were under the impression that the second generation Maxwell will end up as a 20nm chip.

First-generation Maxwell ended up being branded as Geforce GTX 750 and GTX 750 TI and the second generation Maxwell launched a few days ago as the GTX 980 and Geforce GTX 970, with both cards based on the 28nm GM204 GPU.

This is actually quite good news as it turns out that Nvidia managed to optimize power and performance of the chip and make it one of the most efficient chips manufactured in 28nm.

Nvidia 20nm chips coming in 2015

Still, people keep asking about the transition to 20nm and it turns out that the first 20nm chip from Nvidia in 20nm will be a mobile SoC.

The first Nvidia 20nm chip will be a mobile part, most likely Erista a successor of Parker (Tegra K1).

Our sources didn’t mention the exact codename, but it turns out that Nvidia wants to launch a mobile chip first and then it plans to expand into 20nm with graphics.

Unfortunately we don’t have any specifics to report.

AMD 20nm SoC in 2015

AMD is doing the same thing as its first 20nm chip, codenamed Nolan, is an entry level APU targeting tablet and detachable markets.

There is a strong possibility that Apple and Qualcomm simply bought a lot of 20nm capacity for their mobile modem chips and what was left was simply too expensive to make economic sense for big GPUs.
20nm will drive the voltage down while it will allow higher clocks, more transistors per square millimeter and it will overall enable better chips.

Just remember Nvidia world’s first quad-core Tegra 3 in 40nm was rather hot and making a quad core in 28nm enabled higher performance and significantly better battery life. The same was true of other mobile chips of the era.

We expect similar leap from going down to 20nm in 2015 and Erista might be the first chip to make it to 20nm. A Maxwell derived architecture 20nm will deliver even more efficiency. Needless to say AMD plans to launch 20nm GPUs next year as well.

It looks like Nvidia’s 16nm FinFET Parker processor, based on the Denver CPU architecture and Maxwell graphics won’t appear before 2016.

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HTC To Make the Next Google Nexus Tablet

October 1, 2014 by admin  
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Google Inc has chosen HTC Corp to develop and deliver its upcoming 9-inch Nexus tablet, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Google had been mulling HTC as a potential Nexus tablet partner since last year and HTC engineers have been flying to the Googleplex in Mountain View in recent months to work on the project, the report said.

Google’s decision to pick HTC reflects its long-term strategy of building a broad base of partners from device to device to prevent any one manufacturer from gaining a monopoly, the report said.

That may also be one of the reasons why Google chose HTC over bigger rivals Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, maker of the Nexus 10 tablet.

Google and HTC declined to comment on the report.

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Is AMD’s FreeSync Coming In 2015?

September 29, 2014 by admin  
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Last week in San Francisco we spent some time with Richard Huddy, AMD’s Chief gaming scientist to get a glimpse what is going on in the world of AMD graphics. Of course we touched on Mantle, AMD’s future in graphics and FreeSync, the company’s alternative to Nvidia G-Sync.

Now a week later AMD is ready to announce that MStar, Novatek and Realtek scaler manufactures are getting ready with DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync and AMD’s Project FreeSync. They should be done by end of the year with monitors shipping in Q1 2015.

FreeSync will prevent frame tearing as the graphic card often pushes more (or fewer) frames than the monitor can draw and this lack of synchronisation creates quite annoying frame tears.

FreeSync will allow Radeon gamers to synchronize display refresh rates and GPU frame rates to enable tearing and stutter-free gaming along with low input latency. We still do not have the specs or names of the new monitors, but we can confirm that they will use robust DisplayPort receivers from MStar, Novatek and Realtek in 144Hz panels with QHD 2560×1440 and UHD 3840×2160 panels up to 60 Hz.

It took Nvidia quite some time to get G-Sync monitors off the ground and we expect to see the first 4K G-Sync monitors shipping shortly, while QHD 2560×1440 ones have been available for a few months. Since these are gaming monitors with a 144Hz refresh rate they don’t come cheap, but they are nice to look at and should accompany a high end graphic card such as Geforce GTX 980 or a few of them.

Radeon lovers will get FreeSync, but monitors will take a bit more time since AMD promises Project FreeSync-ready monitors through a media review program in 1Q 15 and doesn’t actually tells us much about retail / etail availability.

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