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Despite first- and second-generation High Bandwidth Memory having made few appearances in shipping products, Samsung and Hynix are already working on a followup: HBM3. Teased at the Hot Chips symposium in Cupertino, Calfornia, HBM3 will offer improved density, bandwidth, and power efficiency. Perhaps most importantly though, given the high cost of HBM1 and HBM2, HBM3 will be cheaper to produce.

With conventional memory setups, RAM chips are placed next to each other on a circuit board, usually as close as possible to the logic device (CPU or GPU) that needs access to the RAM. HBM, however, stacks a bunch of RAM dies (dice?) on top of each other, connecting them directly with through-silicon vias (TSVs). These stacks of RAM are then placed on the logic chip package, which reduces the surface area of the device (AMD's Fury Nano is a prime example), and potentially provides a massive boost in bandwidth.

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The tradeoff, though, as with most fancy packaging techniques, has been price and capacity. HBM1, as used in AMD's Fury graphics cards, was limited to 4GB stacks. HBM2, as used in Nvidia's workstation-only P100 graphics card, features higher density stacks up up to 16GB, but is prohibitively expensive for consumer cards.


Monday, 22 August 2016 08:31

Forgotten audio formats: Digital compact cassette

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Enlarge (credit: Deepsonic)

The rise and fall of the digital compact cassette remains a salutary lesson for tech titans—it shows how you can get nearly everything right, and yet still fail badly. Like Britpop, whose 1993-1996 heyday parallels DCC’s short life, the format rose with much hype, a few boasts, and a cheeky advert or two...

...only to fall due to a perfect storm of marketing machinations, tight-fisted PRs, and shiny new rivals.

In one way at least, DCC was a very brave move—in the preceding decade, Dutch conglomerate Philips had successfully launched the billion-selling CD format, plus CD-ROMs, and the beginning of CD-I. Of course, all this had been done in conjunction with Japanese Sony. Yet for its digital cassette venture Philips abruptly decided to abandon Sony and entered a completely new alliance with an up-and-coming Japanese firm: the Kadoma-based Matsushita (the Japanese giant that is now known as Panasonic).


Enlarge/ Chrome apps running on an older version of Chrome OS. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Chrome OS has become a low-key success story for Google in the last few years. Because they're relatively cheap and easy to track and manage, Chromebooks has made inroads in businesses and educational institutions. But Chrome OS still has a big shortcoming compared to Windows and macOS: an app gap.

To help close that gap and augment Web apps, Google introduced the Chrome apps platform to let developers make Web apps that looked and functioned more like traditional standalone apps. Part of Google's sales pitch was that Chrome apps were universal—without any additional effort from developers, these apps would run not just on Chrome OS, but also any Windows, Mac, or Linux PC with Chrome installed.

The Chrome apps platform was an interesting experiment, but it has apparently failed. In a blog post today, Google said that "approximately 1 percent" of all Chrome users on Windows, Mac, and Linux were using Chrome apps. Arguing that Web standards have continued to evolve and become more capable and that the company is simplifying Chrome, Google says that support for Chrome apps on non-Chrome OS platforms will be phased out over the next two years. Extensions and themes will remain available on all platforms.


Enlarge/ A recurve bow, showing the recurved limbs and the central riser. (credit: John Timmer)

A lot of us have only seen archery on episodes of Game of Thrones, or maybe we have hazy memories of a simple fiberglass bow at summer camp. If that's your picture of archery technology, then a modern bow probably looks like it was dropped off by aliens.

To find out how this equipment actually functions, we took a subway ride to Gotham Archery, where Anjalie Field walked us through all the moving (and, hopefully, stationary) parts of a bow that's fit for competitive archery. Field got hooked on the sport while young, and she loved it so much that when she ended up at a college without an archery team, she founded one.

Field explained that there are two classes of bows, compound bows and recurves. The string on a compound bow is threaded through a series of pulleys. These pulleys rotate off-center as the string is drawn back, changing the forces involved. Typically, this means that the initial draw requires considerable force, but once it's fully drawn, less effort is involved in holding it there.


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It's been quite some time since we last reviewed a Formula 1 game here at . Since then, the sport itself has undergone a whole raft of changes. Naturally aspirated V8s screaming away to 18,000 RPM have given way to muted turbocharged V6s muzzled by fuel flow regulations. There are artificial aids to overtaking like the drag reduction system, or DRS. And the now cars race on tires that were purposely designed to degrade quickly, preventing drivers from racing flat-out to the checkered flag. Combined with two years of total dominance from Mercedes-Benz and the results has been pretty lackluster, certainly to this long-time fan of the sport. Happily I can report that the latest installment of Codemasters' official franchise manages to faithfully replicate real Formula 1, with one giant exception: it's actually exciting.

Much of that success can be attributed to F1 2016's new career mode. You're free to choose any of the 11 teams as your starting point—different long-term objectives separate the more successful teams from the back markers—and work your way through the 21-race F1 season. But it's not just a question of turning up on race day and mashing the throttle when the red lights go out. Each race weekend involves three practice sessions and a qualifying attempt, just like the real thing. And to keep players invested in the proceedings, you'll be given a number of different objectives during each session.

These can be fiendishly tricky! For example, the tire management program, where the goal is to complete several laps without over-stressing your rubber. That means very gentle inputs on the throttle, steering, and especially brakes, but beware: you can't dawdle as your engineer has also set you a minimum lap time. Complete the objectives and you gain points to use developing upgrades for your car. All that practice running will stand in you in good stead come race day, which conveys well just how demanding the job of racing an F1 car can be.


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T-Mobile USA has announced a $70 unlimited data plan, but in reality the plan has a lot of limits. And T-Mobile said it will stop offering cheaper plans to new customers.

The $70 unlimited "T-Mobile One" plan caps hotspot usage to 2G speeds, which T-Mobile defines as up to 128kbps. Normal-speed mobile hotspot usage will cost $15 for each 5GB allotment.

The new unlimited plan also throttles video to 480p, similar to the carrier's Binge On promotion that throttles video and exempts it from data caps. On the new unlimited plan, customers who want HD video must pay an extra $25 a month per line. The unlimited plan also throttles customers who use more than 26GB a month if they are connected to a congested cell tower.


Enlarge (credit: Best Buy)

Best Buy's 50th anniversary is just around the corner on August 22, 2016, and the company is giving its customers a bunch of exclusive deals to celebrate. The electronics retailer will have 50 deals available in store and online that will last for just 50 hours: the Black Friday-like shopping event starts today, August 18, at 10pm Central Time and ends at 11:59pm on Saturday, August 20.

Discounts include $180 off Beats wireless headphones, $400 off a 65-inch Samsung 4K UHD TV, and $150 off select MacBook Pro notebooks, with additional savings for students. Customers who shop online will also get free two-day shipping on almost everything included in the sale.

Here are some of the other deals included in the anniversary celebration:


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A Tesla Model S has burst into flames during a test drive in the south west of France. Four people were in the car, including a Tesla employee; they all escaped safely before the car was "totally destroyed" within five minutes of the fire starting.

Tesla confirmed the incident and said that it's working with French authorities to determine exactly what happened, "and will share our findings as soon as possible." A Tesla official said: "Nobody was harmed. The vehicle provided warning and passengers were able to safely exit the vehicle."

In the tweet below you can see a video of the burning Tesla. Presumably this was caught a few minutes after the blaze had begun, as there isn't much car left.


Nvidia has called out Intel for juicing its chip performance in specific benchmarks—accusing Intel of publishing some incorrect "facts" about the performance of its long-overdue Knights Landing Xeon Phi cards.

Nvidia's primary beef is with the following Intel slide, which was presented at a high performance computing conference (ISC 2016). Nvidia disputes Intel's claims that Xeon Phi provides "2.3x faster training" for neural networks and that it has "38 percent better scaling" across nodes.

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At this juncture I should point out that juicing benchmarks is, rather sadly, par for the course. Whenever a chip maker provides its own performance figures, they are almost always tailored to the strength of a specific chip—or alternatively, structured in such a way as to exacerbate the weakness of a competitor's product.

Nvidia's primary beef is with the following Intel slide, which was presented at a high performance computing conference (ISC 2016). Nvidia disputes Intel's claims that Xeon Phi provides "2.3x faster training" for neural networks and that it has "38 percent better scaling" across nodes.


(credit: Ron Amadeo)

An estimated 80 percent of Android phones contain a recently discovered vulnerability that allows attackers to terminate connections and, if the connections aren't encrypted, inject malicious code or content into the parties' communications, researchers from mobile security firm Lookout said Monday.

As reported last Wednesday, the flaw first appeared in version 3.6 of the Linux operating system kernel, which was introduced in 2012. In a blog post published Monday, Lookout researchers said that the Linux flaw appears to have been introduced into Android version 4.4 (aka KitKat) and remains present in all future versions, including the latest developer preview of Android Nougat. That tally is based on the Android install base as reported by statistics provider Statista, and it would mean that about 1.4 billion Android devices, or about 80 percent of users, are vulnerable.

"The tl;dr is for Android users to ensure they are encrypting their communications by using VPNs, [or] ensuring the sites they go to are encrypted," Lookout researcher Andrew Blaich told . "If there's somewhere they're going to that they don't want tracked, always ensure they're encrypted."


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  1. IT News

    F1 2016 review: just like the real thing, except not boring

    EnlargeIt's been quite some time since we last reviewed a Formula 1 game here at . Since then, the sport itself has undergone a whole raft of changes. Naturally aspirated V8s screaming away to 18,000 RPM have given way to muted turbocharged V6s muzzled by fuel flow regulations. There are artificial aids to overtaking like the drag reduction system,

    How to set up your own VoIP system at home

    (credit: Philippe Put)The landline phone may seem an anachronism to many, but if like me you work from home it can still be an essential business tool. Even if you're not a regular home worker, many people still like to have a phone that's separate to their mobile. In a family house or shared house, it can sometimes also be useful for different peo
  2. SmartPhones

    Real-life Nexus pictures leak, look pretty much like what we expected

    (credit: Android Police)Over the weekend a new set of real-life Nexus pictures hit the Internet, and the device looks... pretty much like what we were expecting. The slow drip of Nexus leaks continues at Android Police, which had its source send over a set of heavily cropped pictures. The device looks almost exactly like the ren

    Android Nougat drops support for Nexus 5 and 2013 Nexus 7

    Enlarge/ The Nexus 5X (left) and Nexus 5 (right) will run the same software no longer. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)It's official: The Nexus 5 and 2013 Nexus 7 won't receive the Android 7.0 Nougat update from Google today. The update will roll out to the Nexus 6, 9, 5X, 6P, the Pixel C tablet, the Nexus Player, and the General Mobile 4G (an Android O
  3. Tablets

    Some Surface Pro 3s with catastrophic battery life may get a software fix

    Enlarge/ Surface Pro 3. (credit: Peter Bright)Microsoft says that it is going to release a software update for Surface Pro 3 systems that should restore their battery life without requiring any hardware fixes.Over the last few months, there have been scattered claims that some Surface Pro 3 systems are suffering from extremely poor battery lif

    Apple’s Swift Playgrounds can help you learn to code, but it’s no HyperCard

    (credit: Apple)For all Apple’s obsessive secrecy, even its senior managers acknowledge these days with an on-stage wink that much of what they announce has already been predicted. In the run-up to WWDC, I saw developers on Twitter wishlisting "Xcode for iPad"—a way to write apps on an iOS device, rather than in the Xcode integrated deve
  4. Laptops