Plus, the Unreal Engine 3 running in Firefox.
By Jason Imms on April 5, 2013 at 4:18 pm
Welcome to the Friday Tech Roundup! Contained herein is a weekly dose of some of the best tech news from across the internet, rounded up for your edification and entertainment. Read on for all the details of AMD’s response to Nvidia’s “bitter” PS4 put-downs, possible Internet sabotage attempts, the lifting of electronics use during take-off and landing, and yet another amazing discovery that could change the way we make and use electronics.
AMD calls NVIDIA “bitter” in response to recent lashing out
After NVIDIA’s recent dismissal of the PS4 and its technical specifications, AMD’s director of ISV relations Neal Robinson has flippantly responded in an interview with TechRadar. When asked about NVIDIA’s summary of the PS4 as running on “a low-end CPU, and a low- to mid-range GPU”, Robinson laughed and said “”Well, of course they’re going to do that, they’re a little bitter.” He then went on to clarify, “For us, really by looking at that APU that we designed, you can’t pull out individual components off it and hold it up and say, ‘Yeah, this compares to X or Y.’ It’s that integration of the two, and especially with the amount of shared memory that Sony has chosen to put on that machine, then you’re going to be able to do so much more moving and sharing that data that you can address by both sides.”
It sounds as though the primary advantage is the APU’s ability to share data. “It’s more than just a CPU doing all these amazing calculations and a GPU doing calculations. We are now going to be able to move certain tasks between the two.” When asked about AMD’s involvement with Microsoft and the next Xbox, Robinson deftly dodged the question, but made a point of mentioning the “tremendous success” they enjoy in their partnership with Microsoft for the Xbox 360. “It was a great partnership and we enjoy working with them,” he said, clearly inviting speculation.
Undersea cables damaged in possible Internet sabotage attempt
It can be easy to forget just how tenuous our access to Internet really is. The Washington Post recently reported on allegations from Egypt’s naval forces that three scuba divers were arrested during an attempt at “cutting an undersea cable” in the Meditteranean, and that the week-long Internet slowdown experienced in Egypt since March 22 was due to cable damage caused by either a speeding fishing boat, or a ship’s anchor. This kind of cable damage causes slowdowns because Internet traffic needs to be rerouted around the damaged cable, taking the long way around. In a piece over at Wired, Alexandra Chang highlights the fragility of our international network by pointing out that “Nearly 200 undersea fiber optic cables link the world’s telecommunications, and they are for the most part poorly armored, rarely patrolled and only occasionally monitored.”
She goes on to quote Andrew Blum, author of Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet, “Other than obscurity and a few feet of sand, [the cables] are just there,” he says. “The staff at a cable landing station might patrol the path to the beach landing once or twice a day, but otherwise I’ve never heard of or seen any constant security.”
Unreal Engine 3 ported to Firefox
Electronic devices may soon be allowed to remain powered on during take-off and landing
An investigation is underway to finally decide whether or not it is okay for personal electronics to remain in use by aircraft passengers during take-off and landing. An industry group made up of representatives from Amazon, Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers, the CEA, FCC and elsewhere are working together on the investigation, and hope to present their findings on July 31. Tom’s Hardware’s Kevin Parrish has anecdotal evidence that seems to imply that the rules are unnecessary in their current state. Apparently, one of the pilots of his flight home from CES 2013 told him that “there’s no real reason why passengers must turn off their devices.
The only valid reason he could think of was the amount of incoming and outgoing transmissions per plane that could possibly interfere with the tower.” Parrish then quotes Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, “So it’s O.K. to have iPads in the cockpit; it’s O.K. for flight attendants —and they are not in a panic —yet it’s not O.K. for the traveling public.” The industry group hopes to find that the takeoff/landing electronics rule, as established by the Federal Aviation Administration, was put in place without real evidence.
Will graphene become the new direction for electronics, or will it go the way of carbon nanotubes?
The same University of Manchester scientists that brought you the levitating frog, Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, may be on the cusp of an incredibly important scientific discovery. They have found that an isolated single-atom-thin layer of graphite has properties that makes it a serious contender to become the next foundational technology to propel electronics into the future. With “electrical conductivity 100 times faster than silicon; strength 200 times greater than steel; [and] astounding optical and thermal characteristics,” it is easy to imagine a wide range of potentially exciting applications for graphene. It is worth remembering, however, that this isn’t the first time that such astounding technological breakthroughs have been reported, we must remember the excitement at the discovery of carbon nanotubes, and the subsequent failure to find a commercially viable use for the technology.
That said, according to Novoselov’s roadmap for graphene, the next most viable commercial outcome will be in flexible displays. He and his colleagues believe that the hurdles that stopped carbon nanotubes from making it to mass scale production simply do not exist for graphene, and that commercialisation will come.