Thursday, January 10, 2013
The L looks to put an end to this growing issue by providing access to a full sized keyboard anytime, anywhere. The compact keychain designed device utilizes advanced optics that can track your fingers for efficiency and accuracy while typing, and thanks to the Bluetooth technology used, you can literally connect the projection virtual keyboard to any mobile device including your smartphone, table or even laptop if you desire.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
9:06 PM No comments
Storage enthusiasts sitting on the edge of your seats for revolutionary SSD announcements out of this year's CES can rest easy: there's not anything mind-blowing coming up that you need to be worried about. Ars sat down today with both LSI/Sandforce and Samsung, and while both had plenty of neat stuff to talk about with regards to their current product line, neither had anything earthshaking to share. Like the headline says, this isn't necessarily a bad thing: now's an excellent time to buy an SSD if you don't already have one, and the ever-present enthusiast fear of buying something that'll soon be obsolete or out of date isn't one that really applies for solid state disks.
Kent Smith, the senior director of product marketing for the Flash Components Division of LSI (which makes the enthusiast-friendly Sandforce SSD controllers featured in many consumer SSDs) noted that business has been quite brisk, with Sandforce controllers appearing in many, many different OEMs' drives. Kent compared the situation today to the hard disk drive market twenty years ago, with a plethora of manufacturers producing only moderately differentiated disks. But there are only two real HDD OEMs today: Seagate and Western Digital (or three, depending on how one counts Toshiba). Anyone can use Sandforce controllers in their disks, but the sheer number of OEMs making SSDs is unsustainable, and some collapse and consolidation is inevitable.
The reasons why tie in with NAND flash's much-discussed longevity issues. SSD prices themselves are low and will get lower, but the vast majority of SSD makers aren't actually manufacturing their own NAND, but rather sourcing it from one of several manufacturers. NAND's increasing density and complexity brings with it integration issues—as NAND gets smaller and more cantankerous, it can be more difficult for an OEM who sources both NAND and controllers and melds the two together to make drives. The OEMS that can dedicate the most time to it will produce fast and power-efficient devices, while others will be pushed out of the market by decreasing costs and decreasing margins.
The message from Stephen Weinger, Director of Marketing of NAND flash for Samsung, was similar. Samsung is in a different market position from LSI—as a vertically integrated manufacturer, Samsung makes "the whole widget," from controller to NAND, rather than just the controller. However, they see the same outlook for the SSD manufacturer space as LSI: the number of companies in the space is bound to become considerably smaller. Weinger noted that in 2012 OCZ missed its second quarter earnings targets due in part to supply issues with sourced NAND, and he indicated that anticipated SSD business in 2013 will likely cause these constraints to become more widespread among other SSD OEMs.
Samsung is one of the only SSD OEMs to be selling a triple-level cell (TLC) SSD, the Samsung 840. As we discussed in our huge feature set on how SSDs work, TLC SSDs store three bits of data per NAND transistor, requiring the ability to discretely read and write eight different voltage levels. The nature of NAND cells means that as they get smaller and denser, they become more susceptible to wear from repeated erasures and rewrites. A TLC NAND transistor with its eight discrete voltage states has a much-decreased lifecycle than an SLC or MLC transistor, because reading from or writing to it requires much more precision and residual charge damages it more quickly.
The Samsung 840 gets somewhat of a bad rap in comments on Ars when it comes up, but Weinger noted that in Samsung's own internal, their TLC NAND came out with about thirteen years of usable life when tasked with the write equivalent of about 40GB per day. This is possible because of the advanced tricks that modern SSD controllers (like Samsung's and LSI/Sandforce's) do to overcome write amplification. At the high level, this usually includes deduplication (writing repeating data only once) and compression, but both companies we talked to jealously guarded their controllers' "secret sauce." Samsung didn't have any post-TLC tech on sale, and noted that the inevitable transistor shrinking march of Moore's Law will likely continue on relatively unabated in NAND flash, asserting that the company is capable of keeping up the pace.
A fast-moving market and hotly in-demand products means that companies in the SSD space, at least for the next few months, will be focused on polishing and refining—reducing power consumption, handling write amplification, and stepping down to the next NAND process size. We'll see cheaper MLC and TLC SSDs from major OEMS, but it'll be some time yet before anyone's announcing more exotic replacements like consumer-targeted memristor drives or anything like that. If you've been holding off buying an SSD because you were afraid of something newer coming out, now's as good a time as any to pull the trigger.
9:02 PM No comments
In today’s media landscape, people are turning to blogs and other online-only media as their primary sources of information on science, and relying less on online versions of traditional news outlets. This transition to consuming science online may be a double-edged sword, according to a pair of professors from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Their Perspectives article in the journal Sciencehighlights the opportunities and unintended consequences that this shift to the web may present, and may force scientists and social scientists to rethink how the science community and the public interface online.
Almost half of Americans rely on nontraditional online sources, and only 12 percent get their science news from online versions of traditional print newspapers and magazines. This trend isn’t just for science news though—sixty percent of Americans turn to the Internet as their primary source of information on general scientific questions. All this time online has an encouraging effect on people’s views about science; time spent online not only has been linked to more positive attitudes towards science, but frequent Web users are more likely to support basic scientific research, even if they see no immediate benefits to society.
But the Internet-driven quest for science information provides some reasons for concern as well. Nine out of ten Internet users rely on search engines to find information on scientific information, but the selection and prioritization of content by search engine algorithms and audience metrics may prove problematic, as they can narrow our options for information. For example, Google’s autocomplete suggestions feature provides the most popular searches, which users often select, making those searches even more likely to appear as suggestions.
This presents an ever-shrinking selection of science news and information. The authors write, “Is the World Wide Web opening up a new world of easily accessible scientific information to lay audiences with just a few clicks? Or are we moving toward an online science communication environment in which knowledge gain and opinion formation are increasingly shaped by how search engines present results, direct traffic, and ultimately narrow our informational choices?”
Even when scientific information is found, the Internet can alter the ways in which it's interpreted. Social media, for example, can allow anyone to influence how scientific information is presented. The news we are exposed to is often presented with cues as to how popular, important, or accurate a given story may be. The framing of a story on Twitter or Facebook may also add information—or misinformation—beyond what the original author intended.
And then, there are comments. They can also add information and misinformation to the content of a story, but some research is suggesting their tone influences how we perceive things. A recent study presented participants with a single balanced news item covering nanotechnology, along with one of two sets of comments following the story. Readers' interpretation of the risks associated with nanotechnology differed depending on the tone of the comments; readers exposed to uncivil comments were more likely to attribute potential risks to nanotechnology.
Social scientists are online, attempting to understand the nature of science journalism in today’s digital, hyper-connected world. The authors write, “Without applied research on how to best communicate science online, we risk creating a future where the dynamics of online communication systems have a stronger impact on public views about science than the specific research that we as scientists are trying to communicate.”
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