Current Development & Trends in Computer Hardware
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An abbreviation for Double Data Rate Fourth Generation Synchronous Dynamic Random-Access Memory is a type of Synchronous Dynamic Random-Access Memory (SDRAM) with a high bandwidth (“double data rate”) interface. released to the market in 2014, it is one of the latest variants of Dynamic Random Access Memory(DRAM), some of which have been in use since the 1970s, and a higher speed successor to the DDR2 and DDR3 technologies. It is not compatible with any earlier type of random access memory (RAM) due to different signaling voltages, physical interface and other factors. The primary advantages of DDR4 as opposed to its predecessor, DDR3, include higher module density and lower voltage requirements, coupled with higher data rate transfer speeds.
The DDR4 standard allows for DIMMs of up to 128 GiB in capacity, compared to the DDR3’s maximum of 16 GiB per DIMM. DDR4 operates at a voltage of 1.2 V with a frequency between 1600 and 3200 MHz, compared to frequencies between 800 and 2400 MHz and voltage requirements of 1.5 or 1.65 V of DDR3. Although a low-voltage standard has yet to be finalized, it is anticipated that low-voltage DDR4 will run at a voltage of 1.05 V, compared to DDR3’s low-voltage standard (DDR3L) which requires 1.35 V to operate.
Intel Core i7
As an Intel brand name applies to several families of desktop and laptop 64 -bit x86-64 processors using the Nehalem, Westmere, Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge and Haswell microarchitectures. The Core i7 brand targets the business and high-end consumer markets for both desktop and laptop computers, and is distinguished from the Core i3 (entry-level consumer), Core i5 (mainstream consumer), and Xeon (server and workstation) brands. Intel introduced the Core i7 name with the Nehalem-based Bloomfield Quad-core processor in late 2008. In 2009 new Core i7 models based on the Lynnfield(Nehalem-based) desktop quad-core processor and the Clarksfield (Nehalem-based) quad-core mobile were added, and models based on the Arrandale dual-core mobile processor (also Nehalem-based) were added in January 2010. The first six-core processor in the Core line up is the Nehalem-based Gulftown, which was launched on March 16, 2010. Both the regular Core i7 and the Extreme Edition are advertised as five stars in the Intel Processor Rating.
In each of the first three microarchitecture generations of the brand, Core i7 has family members using two distinct system-level architectures, and therefore two distinct sockets (for example, LGA 1156 and LGA 1366 with Nehalem). In each generation, the highest-performing Core i7 processors use the same socket and QPI-based architecture as the low-end Xeon processors of that generation, while lower-performing Core i7 processors use the same socket and PCIe/DMI/FDI architecture as the Core i5. “Core i7” is a successor to the Intel Core 2 brand. Intel representatives stated that they intend the moniker Core i7 to help consumers decide which processor to purchase as Intel releases newer Nehalem-based products in the future.
The number of transistors available has a huge effect on the performance of a processor. As seen earlier, a typical instruction in a processor like an 8088 took 15 clock cycles to execute. Because of the design of the multiplier, it took approximately 80 cycles just to do one 16-bit multiplication on the 8088. With more transistors, much more powerful multipliers capable of single-cycle speeds become possible. More transistors also allow for a technology called pipelining. In a pipelined architecture, instruction execution overlaps. So even though it might take five clock cycles to execute each instruction, there can be five instructions in various stages of execution simultaneously. That way it looks like one instruction completes every clock cycle. Many modern processors have multiple instruction decoders, each with its own pipeline. This allows for multiple instruction streams, which means that more than one instruction can complete during each clock cycle. This technique can be quite complex to implement, so it takes lots of transistors.
200Gb Micro SD Card
SanDisk Corporation has introduced the 200GB SanDisk Ultra microSDXC UHS-I card, Premium Edition – the world’s highest capacity microSD card for use in mobile devices. Just one year after its record-breaking 128GB microSD card, the company has increased storage capacity by 56% within the same fingernail-sized form factor. Blazingly fast transfer speeds of 90MB/s enable consumers to move up to 1,200 photos per minute.
As the needs of mobile users continue to change, SanDisk is on the forefront of delivering solutions for these demands as is clearly illustrated through their growing portfolio of innovative products, including the new 200GB SanDisk Ultra microSDXC card.” SanDisk achieved this capacity breakthrough by leveraging the proprietary technology developed last year for the 128GB version and creating a new design and production process that allows for more bits per die. Digital storage is a very good example of an exponential technology. On current trends, microSD cards with terabyte (1000GB) capacities are likely to be achieved within the next several years. 512GB SD card announced by SanDisk
SanDisk yesterday launched the 512GB Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I, the world’s highest capacity SD card and the first to reach 512GB, or half a terabyte. This new offering is designed to meet the demands of industry professionals who require the most advanced gear available for shooting 4K Ultra HD (3840x2160p) video, Full HD video (1920×1080) and high-speed burst mode photography. “As an industry leader, SanDisk continues to push the boundaries of technology to provide customers with the innovative, reliable, high-performance solutions they have come to expect from us,” said Dinesh Bahal, vice president of product marketing. “4K Ultra HD is an example of a technology that is pushing us to develop new storage solutions capable of handling massive file sizes. The 512GB SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I card is a tremendous advancement that enables professionals to reliably store more content on a single card than ever before.”
Since the first 1GB SD card in 2004, storage capacities have grown exponentially and this new 512GB card represents a 500-fold increase in a decade – yet maintains the same size form factor. It delivers write speeds up to 90MB/s and transfer speeds up to 95 MB/s. The card is also temperature-proof (withstanding between -40ºC and 85ºC), waterproof, shockproof and X-ray proof. The product will initially go on sale for $800 (£490), but this cost is likely to decline rapidly in the months and years ahead. The same exponential trend has been witnessed in the smaller-sized microSD format. In February this year, SanDisk revealed the first microSD to reach 128GB of storage capacity.
Evolution of Mobile Phone Communications
Steve Unger, Ofcom’s Acting Chief Executive: “We want the UK to be a leader in the next generation of wireless communications. Working with industry, we want to lay the foundations for the UK’s next generation of wireless communications. “5G must deliver a further step change in the capacity of wireless networks – over and above that currently being delivered by 4G. No network has infinite capacity, but we need to move closer to the ideal of there always being sufficient capacity to meet consumers’ needs.” Philip Marnick, Ofcom Spectrum Group Director, comments: “We want to explore how high frequency spectrum could potentially offer significant capacity for extremely fast 5G mobile data. This could pave the way for innovative new mobile services for UK consumers and businesses.” These innovations, according to Ofcom, might include real-time holographic technologies, allowing relatives to virtually attend family gatherings. Or they could enable specialist surgeons to oversee hospital operations while located on the other side of the world, using 3D medical imaging.
Wi-Fi up to five times faster coming in 2015
If you’ve been to a cafe or other public place recently and been frustrated at the slow speed of Wi-Fi, a new breakthrough by Samsung Electronics may soon change that. Researchers at the company have this week achieved the development of 60GHz Wi-Fi allowing transfer rates of 4.6Gbps, or 575MB per second. That is 5.3 times faster than the previous maximum speed for consumer devices (866Mbps, or 108MB per second). Today’s generation of Wi-Fi uses the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz areas of the radio spectrum. The 60GHz band is currently unlicensed and offers major potential, but previous attempts to exploit it have failed to send data over significant distances, due to path loss and weak penetration properties. Samsung has overcome these issues through a combination of millimetre-wave circuit design, a high performance modem and wide-coverage beam-forming antenna. This eliminates co-channel interference, regardless of the number of devices using the same network.
Commercialisation is expected in 2015, with Samsung planning integration into a wide variety of products – including audio visual, medical devices and telecommunications equipment. It will also help to spur the Internet of Things. “Samsung prides itself at being of the forefront of technology innovation, and is delighted to have overcome the barriers to the commercialisation of 60GHz millimetre-wave band Wi-Fi technology,” said Paul Templeton, General Manager of Samsung Networks UK. “This breakthrough has opened the door to exciting possibilities for Samsung’s next-generation devices, and has also changed the face of the future development of Wi-Fi technology, promising innovations that were not previously within reach.” To give an idea of the speed: a 1GB movie will take less than three seconds to transfer between devices, while uncompressed high-definition videos could easily be streamed from mobile devices to TVs in real-time without any delay.
Clothes that can monitor and transmit biomedical info
This technological breakthrough, described in the scientific journal Sensors, paves the way for a host of new developments for people suffering from chronic diseases, elderly people living alone, and even firemen and police officers. A team under the supervision of Professor Younès Messaddeq created the smart fabric by successfully superimposing multiple layers of copper, polymers, glass and silver. “The fibre acts as both sensor and antenna,” explains Professor Messaddeq, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Photonic Innovations. “It is durable but malleable, and can be woven with wool or cotton. And signal quality is comparable to commercial antennas.” The surface of the fibre can also be adjusted to monitor a range of information such as glucose levels, heart rhythm, brain activity, movements and spatial coordinates.
The design is based on hollow-core polymer-clad silica fibres, featuring a thick polyimide polymer overcoat. This enables it to withstand high tensile and bending stresses, mechanical abrasion, extreme heat conditions (up to 350°C), humidity, water, detergent or acidic environments. A patent application has already been filed, though certain elements still need to be fine-tuned before the innovation is ready for commercialisation. “Of course, the technology will have to be connected to a wireless network – and there is the issue of power supply to be solved,” notes Messaddeq. “We have tested a number of solutions, and the results are promising
Other Breakthroughs in Technology
Teleporting people through space, as done in Star Trek, is impossible with our current knowledge of physics. Teleporting information is another matter, however, thanks to the extraordinary world of quantum mechanics. Researchers at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have succeeded in transferring the information contained in a qubit – the quantum equivalent of a classical bit – to a different quantum bit over a distance of three metres (10 feet), without the information having travelled through the intervening space. This was achieved with a zero percent error rate. The breakthrough is a vital step towards a future quantum network for communication between ultra-fast quantum computers – a “quantum internet”. Quantum computers will solve many important problems that even today’s best supercomputers are unable to tackle. Furthermore, a quantum internet will enable completely secure information transfer, as eavesdropping will be fundamentally impossible in such a network. To achieve teleportation, researchers in this study made use of an unusual phenomenon known as entanglement.
Touch feedback technology also known as “Haptics”
has advanced rapidly in recent years. It is now used in a range of applications including entertainment, rehabilitation and even surgical training. New research by the University of Bristol, using ultrasound, has created a virtual 3-D haptic shape that can be seen and felt in mid-air. This breakthrough, led by Dr Ben Long and colleagues at the university’s Department of Computer Science, could improve the way 3-D shapes are used and function as an important new tool in certain situations. It could enable surgeons to explore a CT scan, for example, by enabling them to actually “feel” a disease, such as a tumour. The method uses ultrasound, focussed onto hands above the device and can be felt. By focussing complex patterns of ultrasound, the air disturbances can be seen as floating 3-D shapes. Visually, the researchers have demonstrated the ultrasound patterns by directing the device at a thin layer of oil so that the depressions in the surface can be seen as spots when lit by a lamp.
The system generates a virtual 3-D shape that can be added to 3-D displays to create a holographic effect that can be seen and felt. The research team have also shown that users can match a picture of a 3-D shape to the shape created by the system. They have already been approached by companies interested in commercialising the technology. At this early stage of development, the level of detail in the virtual objects is limited, but using a greater number of speakers at smaller sizes could improve the resolution of projections. “Touchable holograms, immersive virtual reality that you can feel and complex touchable controls in free space, are all possible ways of using this system,” says Dr Long. “In the future, people could feel holograms of objects that would not otherwise be touchable, such as feeling the differences between materials in a CT scan or understanding the shapes of artefacts in a museum.”