Computex 2012 - Over in the Intel suite yesterday afternoon we got a chance to check out a few cool things that Intel are working on at the moment. Once that really grabbed my fancy was the Intel WiDi technology or Wireless Display technology.
Using a prototype Intel Ultrabook we saw them hook a external monitor to the device to give us a dual screen setup.
What we then saw was via the WiDi technology, a third screen which in this case was a large TV monitor, be added into the array of monitors to give us a three monitor display setup all off a single Ultrabook.
There's no denying that the combination of multi monitor setups and ultra portability that the Ultrabook brings opens us to a new world of productivity on the go.
I got a chance to speak with the Director of Marketing over at Marvell and got the scoop on their new wireless chip. What can only be described as the way of the future, the new Avastar 88W8897 is an incredible chip. Marvell is often the wireless provider for smartphones, gaming consoles, and other embedded systems, but is targeting the PC market with this new chip.
The new chip is the world's first MIMO 802.11ac wireless solution. MIMO is used on products which feature multiple antennas. The 88W8897 features two antennas and two spatial streams which provide an incredible 867Mbps transfer rate. The new solution also provides Bluetooth support and near-field communication (NFC).
The Director of Marketing explained to me the usefulness of having NFC support in a wireless chip. In case you don't know, NFC is what is being used in those credit cards that don't have to be swiped or in phones that allow you to pay by waving them over a sensor. I won't bore you with how it works, but I will explain the usefulness in having it in a wireless chip.
Basically, Marvell envisions a world where a wireless device can be swiped over an access point to authenticate and join the network. The same idea goes for Bluetooth in that a device can be swiped over the other to be paired. This makes it so people don't have the tedious process of pairing or the need to remember wireless keys.
Intel has inked a deal with Devicescape which could see the inclusion of Devicescape's virtual network into Intel-powered Ultrabooks and tablets. While Intel doesn't actually build these devices, they provide the silicon and software to manufacturers who design and assemble them and then sell them to the general public.
Devicescape has crowdsourced an entire network of open access points around the globe. However, not every access point gets added to Devicescape's network. First, the access point has to pass Devicescpe's standards for speed, reliability and availability. Only then will it be added. Of the 100 million or so access points seen, only 8 million have made the cut.
"Smart Connect will work on lid open and lid closed scenarios," Devicescape CEO David Fraser said via email. "So, you'll be automatically connected no-matter the state of your PC." The connection is completely automatic and works even with the lid closed. Imagine walking into a store and sitting down to find all of your email and RSS feeds synced. The future looks great.
No word on whether or not Intel or its partners would charge for the service, but it is highly unlikely that they would for a couple of reasons. First, the access points are free to Intel and would be accessible by the users without the service. Second, INtel is facing competition from ARM so this would be a way to differentiate their somewhat similar products.
Is your current home wireless fast enough? No? Well, maybe you should pick up a new router based off of the technology that some researchers in Japan are working on. They have smashed the current record for transfer speed by double. Last November, chipmaker ROHM transferred data at 1.5Gb/s using a frequency of 300GHz.
The researchers have smashed that, however, by managing an incredible 3Gb/s. Unfortunately, due to the super high frequency, the farthest the data can travel before being affected by interference is about 10m, or 30ft for us Americans. The researchers managed this feat by using 542GHz radio waves which oscillate faster, hence can carry more data.
The technology required to operate in the terahertz region (300GHz-3THz) has always been too bulky and expensive to be of any value. It would have been near impossible to tuck inside a smartphone due to its size and power draw. This new work uses a 1mm^2 resonant tunnelling diode, or RTD, which significantly reduces the size and power requirements.
It's not likely to be coming next year, but this new wireless technology could eventually find its way into devices. As long as the distance doesn't need to be far, utilizing the terahertz spectrum could very well allow for large, direct file transfers at incredibly high speeds. This could also work very well for home theater systems.
With the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi spec coming of age, it's about time that some products get released to take advantage of the improvements it has brought. Back at CES 2012, Buffalo Technology was the first company to publicly demonstrate the 802.11ac technology. A few months later, Netgear seemed to steal the spotlight when they released the R6300 802.11ac model on April 26th.
Lucky for Buffalo as that turned out simply to be a paper launch which means that there was no availability to go along with it. Now that it is Buffalo's turn, they are launching their new products along with making them available today. First up is the new AirStation WZR-D1800H wireless router.
This router features 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports which are important for a network's speed. It also comes with a USB port that uses a physical eject button. The physical design of the case has also been redesigned some over previous models. While the predecessors to this had sharp edges, in this model they have been replaced with more pleasing curves.
To compliment this router, Buffalo is also releasing WLI-H4-D1300 the wireless media bridge. This device is a perfect companion for the router as it is meant to extended the abilities of a wireless network. It can extend the wireless single to up to four wired devices through its four gigabitE ports. It is also backwards compatible with 11a, 11b, 11g and 11n.
The most popular VOIP product could soon find its way onto a website so that native apps are no longer needed. Before we get too excited, let's start with the traditional rumor warnings: this is a rumor and analysis from a Microsoft job posting, it may never come to fruition. Now with that completed, let's move on.
The job posting by Microsoft seems to indicate that they plan to bring Skype to your web browser. All of this is on the heels of Microsoft's acquisition of Skype. The job posting, seen here, is looking for "passionate, team-oriented and self-motivated developers to help us bring Skype experience on to the Web."
Right now, if they were to bring strictly the messaging portion to the web, they would be entering some crowded territory. FaceBook, Yahoo, and others already offer instant messaging without any sort of native client. If they bring the video chat along for the ride, then the competition thins out. Either way, it's an exciting prospect that Skype could soon be used without a native client.
It seems like just yesterday that I was updating my router from b to g spec to increase speeds. Then n came along and made me upgrade again. It hasn't even been around that long, yet Qualcomm and Broadcom would like to replace it with a new spec dubbed 802.11ac. The new spec will only operate on the 5GHz band to avoid interference.
The new standard is expected to debut late this year or early 2013. Because of the lack of 2.4GHz, the range is shortened, so the spec is including something called beam-forming technology. This allows the device to figure out where the other devices are located and broadcast that direction only.
Additionally, the 5GHz band has more channels available for use. The channels are now 80MHz wide rather than the 40MHz. Furthermore, each spatial stream has a theoretical bandwidth of 433 mbps per spatial stream versus only 150 mbps on -n. The number of spatial streams is being increased from 3 to 8 which will further increase bandwidth.
Early devices will only have 2 or 3 antennas meaning bandwidth of 866 mbps or 1.3 gbps in theory. In reality, this should equate to a third or half of the bandwidth which is still a good amount more than today's spec. Routers and devices using it should be available for the holiday shopping season with the certification program starting in early 2013.
It seems like everything is connected to the internet these days, but have you ever stopped and asked yourself what the implications of this is on your daily life? Sure, it provides convenience, but at what cost? All of these internet connected devices are able to collect information on where you are and what you're doing at the moment and use that information to generate a pretty solid schedule of your daily life.
But none of this should be of worry to you, right? But what if you become a person of interest of any of the many spy agencies? Imagine if your a person of interest and you decide to adjust your internet connected lights at home. As soon as you fire up your app, it could be sending data that contains your location and a timestamp which could easily allow a spy to follow you.
Direct from the Google Fiber Blog is news that they've starting laying the fiber for their 1Gbps Internet backbone. Google will be packing their bags and bringing thousands of miles of cables and connecting two cities together with a 1Gbps backbone.
The two cities? Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri. Google have said that each cable contains "many thin glass fibers, each about the width of a human hair." Google will take these cables and weave them into a fiber backbone, which is a completely new high-speed infrastructure that will catapult Kansas Citians' data at more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have today.
Google have said as soon as the infrastructure is complete they'll be connecting Google Fiber into the homes across Kansas City.
So, if you're a Kansas-based Internet user, you should be just a little bit excited right about now. Your Internet speed is going bye-bye.
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® Connect•Me 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 Connect•Me Home Phone Adapter for Skype.
The FREETALK Connect•Me 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.
With SATA 6Gbps not fast enough to keep up with todays SSDs, the Serial ATA International Organization had to come up with something, and quick. SATA-IO have just announced the development of a new standard that combines SATA software infrastructure with the PCI Express interface. The new standard will be called "SATA Express," and will allow manufacturers to create devices that can access the bandwidth of the PCIe slots whilst remaining compatible with existing SATA applications.
The combination of the technologies will provide 8Gb/s and 16Gb/s (one lane via PCIe 2.0 or two via PCIe 3.0) - which is a decent increase over SATA 3.0's single-channel throughput of 6Gb/s. SATA-IO is still concerned certain high-end consumer and enterprise configurations could saturate the existing 6Gb/s interface.
In a time when multi-monitor setups are more popular than ever before, ZOTAC is jumping onboard in making it easier for people to set up a multi-display output configuration that was previously not possible.
These DisplayPort and Mini DisplayPort to dual HDMI adapters are the first of their kind, allowing for example a single DisplayPort output on a notebook to be converted into two HDMI outputs. However, due to bandwidth limitations of the older DisplayPort 1.1a or earlier revsion, the maximum resolution possible from each of the two HDMI outputs is 1920x1080.