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Thunderbolt may not be everywhere yet, but we are still waiting on mechanically-driven hard disk drives to die their mainstream death, for speed reason anyway, but it looks like Thunderbolt has a future filled with speed.
Intel isn't slowing down their rampage of Thunderbolt, with the company already planning more than one new controller, including a Falcon Ridge part that is said to double the current throughput from 10Gbps per channel, to 20Gbps per channel.
Current-generation controllers, codenamed "Cactus Ridge", arrived earlier this year starting with Apple's latest Mac products. Cactus Ridge-based parts combined DisplayPort and either two or four PCI Express lanes (depending on the chip used) over a single cable, with 10Gbps of bidirectional bandwidth per channel.
Falcon Ridge is a fourth-generation controller and is set to be unleashed in 2014, offering 20Gbps per channel. At the moment, it's not clear whether Intel will be able to hit those speeds while using the current copper cables, or if they'll need to bake in some more expensive optical variety.
Western Digital, a manufacturer known for their hard drives and not networking gear, has entered a new market today with the release of a new line of home networking gear called My Net. The new family of products contains a Gigabit switch, three dual-band Wi-Fi routers, and one dual-band router with 1TB or 2TB of network attached storage.
First off, the new N900 Central is a router that features built-in network attached storage. Speeds of up to 900Mbps are possible thanks to the dual-band connectivity. It features the typical 4+1 Ethernet connections for wired networking and comes with a USB for printers or additional storage. The basic N900 is almost the same except it trades the storage for an extra USB and 3 more LAN ports.
The N750 and N600 both feature 5 GigE ports but that is where the similarities end. The N750 can manage 750Mbps and features 2 USB ports. Meanwhile, the N600 can only reach a combined speed of 600Mbps and only features one USB port. The My Net Switch doesn't have any storage, router, or wireless functions, but instead provides 8 GigE ports.
The My Net Switch runs $70 and the N600, N750 and N900 routers are going to set you back $80, $120 and $180, respectively. The N900 Central with 1TB of storage goes for around $300 and the 2TB version is $350.
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.