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CES 2012: AMD, you funny. Thunderbolt has been here for nearly twelve months now, and at CES, AMD unveiled a concept they call Lightning Bolt. For one, I love how they've kept the name virtually identical to Thunderbolt, and secondly, how long until Intel or Apple release something called Spaedon or Maedon or something to that affect, you know what I mean.
What is AMD's Lightning Bolt capable of? It can deliver USB 3.0, DisplayPort and Power over a single cable with miniDisplayPort connectors. It's designed to be simple, and affordable. For notebooks, there is a mux, which can combine power, DisplayPort and USB 3.0 into a single DisplayPort-like cable. The other end of the cable would connect to a Lightning Bolt breakout box that would provide the three connectors: USB 3.0, DisplayPort and Power ports.
The cable is a standard mini-DP cable, with changes to two of the pins. AMD's goal is to aim for affordable, single-cable docking stations for notebooks. AMD says that the cost of the mux and associated components on the notebook side would be just, one dollar. Eventually, the mux will be built into the notebook, and you'd just see a mini-DP interface with a little symbol that would indicate Lightning Bolt.
Telstra have just unveiled the details of a new "white label" 3G mobile service that they plan to sell to telco customers in a bid to boost its dropping wholesale revenues. While they'll offer access to their 3G network, Telstra keep the keys to their full Next G package, where it won't let rivals access it.
Telstra's 3G wholesale product will cover 97-perent of the population and sport typical download speeds of between 550Kbps to 3Mbps. The new wholesale plan will rollout in two phases, the first will roll out to offer post-paid-only services, while the second one which is planned for late-2012 will provide resellers with a fully fledged white label mobile service. This will le them offer pre-paid, post-paid, and wireless broadband services.
By not offering full speeds on the white label service, they stop cannibalisation of their superior Next G products, this protects their premium product lineup. Telstra have said:
This is a competitive and high quality product which delivers great coverage and speed to our wholesale customers. We believe it is a competitive 3G offering in the wholesale market.
CES 2012: Intel's upcoming 22nm die shrink of Sandy Bridge, dubbed, Ivy Bridge has been confirmed to bring support for Near Field Communication (NFC). Intel's Moole Eden even went as far as demoing a transaction using a laptop and PayPass-enabled MasterCard.
Not only was the confirmation of NFC support for Ivy Bridge discussed, shown on-stage was a demo running DirectX 11 on the upcoming Ivy Bridge tech. Intel showed off the DirectX 11 capabilities of Ivy Bridge's HD Graphics 2500 GPU by showing off F1 2011. But, Eden cheated. He pressed play on a pre-rendered video in VLC.
In the clip above, you can clearly see that the VLC control panel pops up and the car continues to drive itself even when Eden leaves the steering wheel. Eden even stated, in front of press and financial analysts, that the demo was running live from an Ivy Bridge chip. Since the demo, Intel issued an official statement, admitting that Eden used a video "for expediency".
All is well though, as AnandTech saw an actual, live demonstration of F1 2011 running on an Ivy Bridge GPU and has said that it runs just fine, as the video below shows:
This is kind of out of the norm, but Officeworks are now offering free in-store Wi-Fi Internet access to all of its customers. The new offer has been rolled out to all Officeworks stores across Australia.
The service does have restrictions, where it blocks illegal content, and has a time limit for all logins to enable multiple customers to get connected without overclogging their network. In order to access the free Wi-Fi, you'll also need to agree to a terms and service in your device's browser every time you connect.
I doubt this will attract customers to their store, but it could be a move like Amazon have used recently. Where they will offer deals in the store if you use their apps for price comparison, etc. Officeworks are definitely thinking outside the square with free Wi-Fi. What next, coffee?
Hackers want to escape Web censorship, plan to launch their own satellite into space and create a new Internet
With the on-going SOPA crap that the old fogies in the Government somehow think is a good idea, a team of hackers plan to launch their own communication satellite into space. The plans were detailed at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin.
The Hackerspace Global Grid (HGG) want to send at least one satellite into low orbit to communicate with various ground stations, creating an independent network. Activist Nick Farr has said:
The first goal is an uncensorable Internet in space. Let's take the Internet out of the control of terrestrial entities.
The team expect to have no less than three prototype ground stations deployed in the first half of this year, with future devices to be produced and sold on a non-profit model. Estimated costs for these ground stations will be about $130 USD. HGG participant, Armin Bauer, says:
It's kind of a reverse GPS. GPS uses satellites to calculate where we are, and this tells us where the satellites are. We would use GPS coordinates but also improve on them by using fixed sites in precisely-known locations.
Intel have reportedly notified their partners that they will "fully release" Thunderbolt technology in April of next year. Intel are said to be preparing to launch Thunderbolt-supported motherboards, notebooks and desktop PCs at that time.
Intel and Apple originally partnered on Thunderbolt which became a standard across Apple's MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini and iMac lines. The cost of Thunderbolt technology is said to drop in the second half of 2012, which will allow for much more market penetration.
Apple may offer Thunderbolt-equipped goods, but the first Thunderbolt products have been limited to the relatively high-end market. Widespread adoption of Thunderbolt should help accessory makers for not just the PC, but the Mac market. Intel have always said that they see USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt as complementary technologies and have plans to support both in their motherboards in 2012.
Available to the first 15,000 new customers is a great deal from Telstra. Buy a $2 Pre-Paid SIM Starter Kit online and switch your mobile number from any carrier to Telstra between September 21 and 12 noon on October 24 and you'll get $30 recharge credit thanks to Telstra. If you choose the Telstra Pre-Paid Cap+ offer, then the $30 recharge credit will get you an extra $250 Cap+ credit as well as 500MB data!
If you're on another carrier and would like higher speeds thanks to Telstra's world-class Next-G network, as well as more coverage, then definitely check this deal out! Be quick as its for the first 15,000 new customers only.
Red Bull Mobile is set to strap onto Vodafone's network and offer some very nice pricing deals soon with all-you-can eat models for its main access plans. Each Red Bull Access plan includes unlimited calls to Australian mobile and landline numbers as well as unlimited texts. Most surprisingly, it also has unlimited 1300 and 1800 number calls. Voicemail access is free and every recharge includes a hefty amount of data.
A $10 recharge gets 7 days of access and included 750MB. $20 gets 15 days and 1.5GB, $39 runs for 30 days and includes 4GB, $75 goes for 60 days and includes 8GB of data. For $365, you get 365 days of access plus 5GB of data each month. International calls and texts are bolt-ons, at $15 or $25 plans which remain available until your main credit expires. Red Bull Mobile are also offering the HTC Cha Cha Android-based phone for $239 outright which is $60 cheaper than buying it directly through Vodafone.
T&C is a bit nasty though, data usage is calculated in 250KB increments (!!) and the connection "must not be used on peer-to-peer file sharing services".
Skype have just released some new products, FREETALK® ConnectMe Home Phone Adapter for Skype and a New Skype-enabled Cordless Phone from GE. Currently Skype powers calls through a large range of devices, on computers (Windows, Mac or Linux), iPhones, iPads, Android smartphones and even Skype-enabled HDTV or Blu-ray players. Today, Skype are talking about their FREETALK ConnectMe Home Phone Adapter for Skype.
The FREETALK ConnectMe Home Phone Adapter for Skype allows hassle-free, plug-and-play simplicity that uses your existing handset to make free Skype-to-Skype calls, including low-cost calls to landlines and mobile phones worldwide at Skype's great low rates. All that is requires is to connect this to your home phone, broadband and landline and after, enjoy making Skype calls anywhere.
The next USB 3.0 specification is set to deliver something pretty amazing, 100w of power to devices. What this will allow is much more power to devices that are demanding of power without additional power through USB ports or stand-alone power. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced that the new standard would allow USB 3.0 ports to power and charge devices such as notebook PCs and would remain backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices.
Currently, USB 3.0 can deliver speeds of up to 5Gb/sec to compatible products and also maintain currents and voltages up to 900mA at 5V for a maximum power output of just 4.5W. This was roughly double the maximum power output of USB 3.0 ports. The new USB 3.0 spec is more than twenty times its old power input and output and should set the industry on fire, allowing hungrier, more power-sucking products such as monitors, desk lamps and even notebook PCs to power from a single USB 3.0 port.
This would help in more ways than one, it would create an entire new market of products as well as clean up your desk and the tangle of cables leading to the power sockets on your wall. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group says that the new standard will be ready for industry evaluation at the end of 2011 and is set for release to manufacturers in early 2012.