Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hybrid Computer Drives = SSD + HD

Here's a great article on how Hybrid drives work.  SSD's are great -- but you pay for the 2-5x faster access time.  SSDs still cost almost $1/GB.  Hard-drives cost a fraction of this amount.  Hybrid drives try to achieve the speed of SSDs, but also keep costs down by using hard-drive materials for the bulk of the storage.  How do Hybrids work?  

An SSD can read and write data many times faster than the best mechanical hard drive. On the downside, flash memory is many times more expensive than the innards of a typical hard drive, so manufacturers have limited their SSD capacities to hit reasonable price points: A 128GB SSD costs about $130, and for that same price tag, you can buy a 3.5-inch desktop hard drive that delivers 2TB of storage, or a 2.5-inch laptop drive that provides 1TB of storage.

Two years ago, Seagate (quickly followed by Samsung) introduced a drive that married a small SSD with a mechanical drive. The objective was to deliver the superior speed of an expensive SSD, while retaining the higher capacity and lower cost of a conventional hard drive. Now that Toshiba and Western Digital are joining the party, it's a great time to explain in more detail what hybrid drives are and how they operate.  

Read more here: 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Google's Self-Driving Car

Wow!  The headline says it all.

Check this video out:

Forbes reports:

Much of the reporting about Google’s driverless car has mistakenly focused on its science-fiction feel. While the car is certainly cool—just watch the video below about a 95%-blind man running errands—the gee-whiz focus suggests that it is just a high-tech dalliance by a couple of brash young multibillionaires, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

In fact, the driverless car has broad implications for society, for the economy and for individual businesses. Just in the U.S., the car puts up for grab some $2 trillion a year in revenue and even more market cap.  It creates business opportunities that dwarf Google’s current search-based business and unleashes existential challenges to market leaders across numerous industries, including car makers, auto insurers, energy companies and others that share in car-related revenue.

Read more here: 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Intel Haswell Chips - coming soon

Mobile computing is moving along at a rapid pace, thanks to continued progress and innovations -- especially from the efficient and powerful Intel series of chips.  We're excited about the Haswell chips that are slated to come out in June 2013.  These chips promise an improvement in power and efficiency of about 30% over the current lineup of Intel i5/i7 series of chips -- and should enable new form-factors (!!) for new PCs.

xBitLabs reports:

The new chips that are made using 22nm process technology promise to revolutionize notebooks and ultrabooks as besides of increased performance they will feature lower power consumption.

“We started production of our next-generation micro-architecture product code-named Haswell, which we expect to qualify for sale this quarter. This production prior to qualification for sale resulted in an increase in [older-generation] inventory write-offs,” said Stacy Smith, chief financial officer of Intel, during quarterly conference call with financial analysts.

The fourth-generation Intel Core i “Haswell” processor family will enable true all-day battery life, representing the most significant battery life capability improvement in Intel history, the company revealed earlier this month. Intel executives disclosed that new systems are expected to deliver up to 9 hours of continuous battery life. Thanks to higher performance and lower power consumption compared to predecessors, Intel Core i “Haswell” will be able to power new breed of laptops that will, among other advantages, feature touch-screens, voice recognition and gesture controls. Intel itself believes that ultrabooks powered by Haswell will revolutionize the market of mobile PCs in a similar way Centrino did a decade ago.  

Read more here: 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Electricity -- Science Terms

There are an increasing number of rechargeable batteries, for various devices -- and even batteries that can be charged by solar power.  Here are some terms you should know.  

Volts, or Voltage -- is also called "electrical potential difference" or "electrical tension" is the electrical potential difference between two points.  It is the potential to cause current.  A 12-volt battery has the 12-volts of potential energy.  Note, however, that a 120-volt household outlet has potential -- but nothing happens until you plug something in, turn it on -- and complete the circuit, so an electrical current can flow.

Current - is the flow of electrons.

Amp or Ampere -- is an international standard unit of electrical current.  It is the number of electrons passing a point in a given amount of time.  More specifically, 1 amp = 6.241 x 10^18 electrons / second.  1 amp = 1 couloumb / second.  At 120 volts, an average toaster may use 16 amps; lightbulbs = 500 mAmps (milli-amps); household circuit breakers are typically set to go off at around 15-20 amps.

mAh - Milli-Amp-hour -- is a init of electric charge.  Today, a rechargeable AA-sized NMh battery might have 2800 mAh, while a smaller "AAA" battery may only have 1000 mAh.  An alkaline 9-volt battery might have about 5000 mAh of energy stored.  Some newer lithium-ion batteries store even more power than alkaline batteries!  Lithium-ion batteries are only available for about 3-volts and higher (the reason why NMH batteries are used for AA or AAA batteries).