Plus, UPS mistakenly delivers a $400,000 drone to a civilian.
By Jason Imms on May 9, 2014 at 11:55 am
Welcome to the Friday Tech Roundup! Contained herein is your 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 NBN Co. discussing dropping free NBN installations, the real-world Escape Room, and brain-mimicking circuit boards.
The days of free NBN installations may be numbered
NBN Co. CEO Bill Morrow has pledged to stop excessive spending, and according to a discussion paper witnessed by the Australian Financial Review, NBN Co. would like to release itself from the end-user installation process. This would mean that if you want to get access to the NBN, you would have to pay for the install yourself. According to the AFR article, responsibility for the installations would be given to the connecting ISPs, meaning that it’s likely that fees similar to those in place now for ADSL connections would be put in place for NBN connections. NBN Co. would also stop offering back-up batteries to homes for free as part of this plan, a service that was mandated by the previous Labour government for the uninterrupted maintenance of voice and medical services. This too would be provided for a fee via ISPs.
Please note that this is a discussion paper only, and doesn’t represent formal plans in place at NBN Co.
AMD unveils upcoming interchangeable x86 and ARM processor platforms
AMD’s plans for 2015 and into the future are underpinned by their plans to increase production and development of ARM-based architectures. In 2015 and 2016, AMD plans to develop and release consumer-oriented ARM chipsets, alongside x86 offerings. “Project Skybridge” intends to pair x86 and ARM chips with some common features, such as a unified memory pool for the CPU and GPU, GPUs based on the Graphics Core Next architecture, and a 20nm manufacturing process. One of the more interesting common features mentioned was the fact that the ARM and x86 chips will be pin-compatible, meaning that it should be possible for designers to swap an x86 chip in a Windows 8.1 tablet for an ARM chip, and release an Android version of the tablet without changing the rest of the design.
Escape Room is not a videogame, puts puzzle between you and real physical freedom
Should you lay down the $28 required to enter Escape Room, you will find yourself in a dark room, lined with shelves of leather-bound books, detailed illustrations on the wall, and a wealth of antique props and furniture, all designed to sell you on the story. Your uncle, a scientist, has been kidnapped by an unknown assailant hoping to steal his latest discovery – a new chemical element. It is up to you to solve the mysteries of the Escape Room, and uncover the details of your uncle’s discovery. The Escape Room contains dozens of puzzles to solve that range from mindbenders to tactile tasks like opening combination locks, and takes place over the course of 60-90 minutes. For more details, check out this Broadsheet article.
New brain-mimicking circuit board 9000 times faster than a typical PC
Bioengineers at Stanford University have developed a new circuit board modelled on the human brain, which could have startling consequences for the future of computing, especially in the field of prosthetics. “From a pure energy perspective, the brain is hard to match,” says Kwabena Boahne, associate professor of bioengineering at Stanford, in an article detailing how “neuromorphic” researchers in the US and Europe are developing systems that mimic neurons and synapses. According to the article, even the brain of a mouse greatly outstrips current personal computers, “operating 9,000 times faster than a personal computer simulation of its functions,” The PC also requires “40,000 times more power to run.” Boahen’s team has developed Neurogrid, a circuit board containing 16 “Newurocore” chips, which can simulate “orders of magnitude more neurons and synapses than other brain mimics on the power it takes to run a tablet computer.”
UPS delivers a USD$400,000 drone to a civilian by mistake
According to a series of photos posted to Reddit, user Seventy_Seven has mistakenly received a US federally-owned drone that should have been destined for NOAA Aircraft Operations Center in Tampa, Florida. As with all news stories based solely on social media, the details should be taken with a grain of salt, but if Reddit user ArrigJyde is to be believed, it is a section of a PUMA UAV, designed for aerial reconnaissance and surveillance. While the UAV is thankfully unarmed, any UAV can be dangerous to both the operator, and anyone unlucky enough to be caught in path of an untrained operator. Given the fact that the package is federally owned and incomplete, the recipient plans to contact the NOAA to organise its safe return.