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Scientists Craft Seamless 2D Semiconductor Junctions 49

vinces99 (2792707) writes Scientists have developed what they believe is the thinnest-possible semiconductor, a new class of nanoscale materials made in sheets only three atoms thick. The University of Washington researchers have demonstrated that two of these single-layer semiconductor materials can be connected in an atomically seamless fashion known as a heterojunction. This result could be the basis for next-generation flexible and transparent computing, better light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, and solar technologies.

"Heterojunctions are fundamental elements of electronic and photonic devices," said senior author Xiaodong Xu, a UW assistant professor of materials science and engineering and of physics. "Our experimental demonstration of such junctions between two-dimensional materials should enable new kinds of transistors, LEDs, nanolasers, and solar cells to be developed for highly integrated electronic and optical circuits within a single atomic plane."

NVIDIAs 64-bit Tegra K1: The Ghost of Transmeta Rides Again, Out of Order 125

MojoKid (1002251) writes Ever since Nvidia unveiled its 64-bit Project Denver CPU at CES last year, there's been discussion over what the core might be and what kind of performance it would offer. Visibly, the chip is huge, more than 2x the size of the Cortex-A15 that powers the 32-bit version of Tegra K1. Now we know a bit more about the core, and it's like nothing you'd expect. It is, however, somewhat similar to the designs we've seen in the past from the vanished CPU manufacturer Transmeta. When it designed Project Denver, Nvidia chose to step away from the out-of-order execution engine that typifies virtually all high-end ARM and x86 processors. In an OoOE design, the CPU itself is responsible for deciding which code should be executed at any given cycle. OoOE chips tend to be much faster than their in-order counterparts, but the additional silicon burns power and takes up die area. What Nvidia has developed is an in-order architecture that relies on a dynamic optimization program (running on one of the two CPUs) to calculate and optimize the most efficient way to execute code. This data is then stored inside a special 128MB buffer of main memory. The advantage of decoding and storing the most optimized execution method is that the chip doesn't have to decode the data again; it can simply grab that information from memory. Furthermore, this kind of approach may pay dividends on tablets, where users tend to use a small subset of applications. Once Denver sees you run Facebook or Candy Crush a few times, it's got the code optimized and waiting. There's no need to keep decoding it for execution over and over.

Sony Tosses the Sony Reader On the Scrap Heap 172

Nate the greatest (2261802) writes Sony has decided to follow up closing its ebook stores in the U.S. and Europe by getting out of the consumer ebook reader market entirely. (Yes, Sony was still making ereaders.) The current model (the Sony Reader PRS-T3) will be sold until stock runs out, and Sony won't be releasing a new model. This is a sad end for what used to be a pioneering company. This gadget maker might not have made the first ebook reader but it was the first to use the paper-like E-ink screen. Having launched the Sony Librie in 2004, Sony literally invented the modern ebook reader and it then went on to release the only 7" models to grace the market as well as the first ereader to combine a touchscreen and frontlight (the Sony Reader PRS-700). Unfortunately Sony couldn't come up with software or an ebook retail site which matched their hardware genius, so even though Sony released amazing hardware it had been losing ground to Amazon, B&N, and other retailers ever since the Kindle launched in 2007.

AMD Launches New Higher-End Kaveri APUs A10-7800 and A6-7400K 117

MojoKid (1002251) writes "AMD updated its family of Kaveri-based A-Series APUs for desktop systems recently, namely the A10-7800 and the A6-7400K. The A10-7800 has 12 total compute cores, 4 CPU and 8 GPU cores, with average and maximum turbo clock speeds of 3.5GHz and 3.9GHz, respectively. The A6-7400K arrives with 6 total cores (2CPU, 4 GPU) and with the same clock frequencies. ... The AMD A10-7800 APU's performance is somewhat mixed, though it is a decent performer overall. Its Steamroller-based CPU cores do not do much to make up ground versus Intel's processors, so in the more CPU-bound workloads, Intel's dual-core Core i3-4330 competes favorably to AMD's quad-cores. And in terms of IPC and single-thread performance Intel maintains a big lead. Factor graphics into the equation, however, and the tides turn completely. The GCN-based graphics engine in Kaveri is a major step-up over the previous-gen, and much more powerful than Intel's mainstream offerings. The A10-7800's power consumption characteristics are also more desirable versus the Richland-based A10-6800K."

New Findings On Graphene As a Conductor With IC Components 34

ClockEndGooner (1323377) writes Philadelphia's NPR affiliate, WHYY FM, reported today on their Newsworks program that a research team at the University of Pennsylvania have released their preliminary findings on the use of graphene as a conductor in the next generation of computer chips. From the article: "'It's very, very strong mechanically, and it is an excellent electronic material that might be used in future computer chips,' said Charlie Johnson, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania. ... Future graphene transistors, Johnson said, are likely to be only tens of atoms across."
Open Source

Video A Warm-Feeling Wooden Keyboard (Video) 82

Plastic, plastic everywhere! Except on most surfaces of the Keyboardio ergonomic keyboard, which started as a 'scratch his itch' project by Jesse Vincent. According to his blurb on the Keyboardio site, Jesse 'has spent the last 20 years writing software like Request Tracker, K-9 Mail, and Perl. He types... a lot. He tried all the keyboards before finally making his own.'

His objective was to make a keyboard he really liked. And he apparently has. This video was shot in June, and Jesse already has a new model prototype under way that Tim Lord says is a notable improvement on the June version he already liked. || Note that the Keyboardio is hackable and open source, so if you think you can improve it, go right ahead. (Alternate Video Link)
Data Storage

Researchers Print Electronic Memory On Paper 78

MTorrice (2611475) writes Electronics printed on paper promise to be cheap, flexible, and recyclable, and could lead to applications such as smart labels on foods and pharmaceuticals or as wearable medical sensors. Many engineers have managed to print transistors and solar cells on paper, but one key component of a smart device has been missing—memory. Now a group of researchers has developed a method that uses ink-jet technology to print resistive random access memory on an ordinary letter sized piece of paper. The memory is robust: Engineers could bend the device 1,000 times without any loss of performance. The memory is not yet very dense, but could be: "Each silver dot they printed was approximately 50 microns across and separated from its neighbor by 25 microns, so each bit of memory is 100 microns on a side. At that size, a standard 8.5- by 11-inch piece of paper can hold 1 MB of memory. Der-Hsien Lien, the paper's lead author, says existing ultrafine ink-jet technology can produce dots less than 1 micron across, which would allow the same piece of paper to hold 1 gigabyte. Reading and writing the bits takes 100 to 200 microseconds"
Hardware Hacking

SRI/Cambridge Opens CHERI Secure Processor Design 59

An anonymous reader writes with some exciting news from the world of processor design: Robert Watson at Cambridge (author of Capsicum) has written a blog post on SRI/Cambridge's recent open sourcing of the hardware and software for the DARPA-sponsored CHERI processor — including laser cutting directions for an FPGA-based tablet! Described in their paper The CHERI Capability Model: Reducing Risk in an age of RISC, CHERI is a 64-bit RISC processor able to boot and run FreeBSD and open-source applications, but has a Clang/LLVM-managed fine-grained, capability-based memory protection model within each UNIX process. Drawing on ideas from Capsicum, they also support fine-grained in-process sandboxing using capabilities. The conference talk was presented on a CHERI tablet running CheriBSD, with a video of the talk by student Jonathan Woodruff (slides).

Although based on the 64-bit MIPS ISA, the authors suggest that it would also be usable with other RISC ISAs such as RISC-V and ARMv8. The paper compares the approach with several other research approaches and Intel's forthcoming Memory Protection eXtensions (MPX) with favorable performance and stronger protection properties.
The processor "source code" (written in Bluespec Verilog) is available under a variant of the Apache license (modified for application to hardware). Update: 07/16 20:53 GMT by U L : If you have any questions about the project, regular Slashdot contributor TheRaven64 is one of the authors of the paper, and is answering questions.

How Vacuum Tubes, New Technology Might Save Moore's Law 183

MojoKid (1002251) writes The transistor is one of the most profound innovations in all of human existence. First discovered in 1947, it has scaled like no advance in human history; we can pack billions of transistors into complicated processors smaller than your thumbnail. After decades of innovation, however, the transistor has faltered. Clock speeds stalled in 2005 and the 20nm process node is set to be more expensive than the 28nm node was for the first time ever. Now, researchers at NASA believe they may have discovered a way to kickstart transistors again — by using technology from the earliest days of computing: The vacuum tube. It turns out that when you shrink a Vacuum transistor to absolutely tiny dimensions, you can recover some of the benefits of a vacuum tube and dodge the negatives that characterized their usage. According to a report, vacuum transistors can draw electrons across the gate without needing a physical connection between them. Make the vacuum area small enough, and reduce the voltage sufficiently, and the field emission effect allows the transistor to fire electrons across the gap without containing enough energy to energize the helium inside the nominal "vacuum" transistor. According to researchers, they've managed to build a successful transistor operating at 460GHz — well into the so-called Terahertz Gap, which sits between microwaves and infrared energy.

I Want a Kindle Killer 321

lpress (707742) writes "Amazon's Kindle is a good e-reader and they've sold around 40 million units, but it is far from perfect. It could be significantly improved with speech recognition for commands and text entry, a well-designed database for marginal notes and annotations, and integration with laptop and desktop computers. Google, Apple and Microsoft all have device design and manufacturing experience as well as stores that sell books and other written material. A Kindle-killing e-reader would be low-hanging fruit for Apple, Google or Microsoft — think of the competition if they each built one!" Handwriting as an input method would be nice too; a friend in college had one of the experimental Windows XP tablet PCs, and it was great for note taking and document annotation.

Step Toward Liberating Electronic Devices From Their Power Cords 130

Science_afficionado (932920) writes "A new type of supercapacitor that can hold a charge when it takes a lickin' has been developed by engineers at Vanderbilt University. It is the first 'multi-functional' energy storage device that can operate while subject to realistic static and dynamic loads — advancing the day when everything from cell phones to electric vehicles will no longer need separate batteries. These devices could make it possible to design electrical devices that are not limited by plugs and external power sources."

First Transistors Made Entirely of 2-D Materials 137

ckwu (2886397) writes "Two independent research groups report the first transistors built entirely of two-dimensional electronic materials, making the devices some of the thinnest yet. The transistors, just a few atoms thick and hence transparent, are smaller than their silicon-based counterparts, which would allow for a super-high density of pixels in flexible, next-generation displays. The research teams, one at Argonne National Laboratory and the other at the University of California, Berkeley, used materials such as tungsten diselenide, graphene, and boron nitride to make all three components of a transistor: a semiconductor, a set of electrodes, and an insulating layer. Electrons travel in the devices 70 to 100 times faster than in amorphous silicon. Such a high electron mobility means the transistors switch faster, which dictates a display's refresh rate and is necessary for high-quality video, especially 3-D video."

Intel Upgrades MinnowBoard: Baytrail CPU, Nearly Halves Price To $99 92

DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "Intel and CircuitCo have revealed a smaller, faster, 2nd-gen MinnowBoard open SBC based on an Atom E3800 SoC and supported by both Android 4.4 and various standard Linux OSes. The MinnowBoard Max, which will ship in Q3 starting at $99, blows past the original MinnowBoard (Slashdot video) on price, performance, and energy consumption. The 3.9 x 2.9-inch Max's $99 starting price includes a 64-bit 1.46GHz Intel Atom E3815 (Bay Trail-T) CPU, 1GB RAM and 8GB SPI flash, and coastline ports for MicroSD, Micro-HDMI, GbE, dual USB, and SATA. Unlike the original MinnowBoard, the Max provides two expansion connectors: a low-speed header, with signals similar to the Arduino's Shield connector; and a high-speed connector, which can support mSATA and mini-PCIe sockets on expansion modules, among other interfaces. Although the Max's design supports CPUs up to Intel's quad-core 1.91GHz (10W TDP) E3845, only two choices shown initially at MinnowBoard.org, with the higher-end $129 model stepping up to a 1.33GHz dual-core E3825 plus 2GB RAM.."

NVIDIA Unveils Next Gen Pascal GPU With Stacked 3D DRAM and GeForce GTX Titan Z 110

MojoKid (1002251) writes "NVIDIA's 2014 GTC (GPU Technology Conference) kicked off today in San Jose California, with NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang offering up a healthy dose of new information on next generation NVIDIA GPU technologies. Two new NVIDIA innovations will be employed in their next-gen GPU technology, now know by its code named 'Pascal." First, there's a new serial interconnect known as NVLink for GPU-to-CPU and GPU-to-GPU communication. Though details were sparse, apparently NVLink is a serial interconnect that employs differential signaling with embedded clock and it allows for unified memory architectures and eventually cache coherency. It's similar to PCI Express in terms of command set and programming model but NVLink will offer a massive 5 — 12X boost in bandwidth up to 80GB/sec.

The second technology to power NVIDIA's forthcoming Pascal GPU is 3D stacked DRAM technology.The technique employs through-silicon vias that allow the ability to stack DRAM die on top of each other and thus provide much more density in the same PCB footprint for the DRAM package. Jen-Hsun also used his opening keynote to show off NVIDIA's most powerful graphics card to date, the absolutely monstrous GeForce GTX Titan Z. The upcoming GeForce GTX Titan Z is powered by a pair of GK110 GPUs, the same chips that power the GeForce GTX Titan Black and GTX 780 Ti. All told, the card features 5,760 CUDA cores (2,880 per GPU) and 12GB of frame buffer memory—6GB per GPU. NVIDIA also said that the Titan Z's GPUs are tuned to run at the same clock speed, and feature dynamic power balancing so neither GPU creates a performance bottleneck."

Microsoft Ships Surface Pro 2 Tablets With Wrong, Slower Processor 147

SmartAboutThings (1951032) writes "Microsoft launched the Surface Pro 2 tablet in October 2013 with several hardware upgrades, like the new 1.6GHz Core i5-4200U processor specifically optimized for longer battery life and increased performance. Three months later, Microsoft decided to upgrade the CPU with a 1.9GHz Core i5-4300U unit that would be capable of taking these improvements even further. Although Redmond kept quiet about the improvement, tech savvy buyers were aware of the change. Now, according to some new reports, it seems that the company is still shipping the old models to buyers, despite the fact that Microsoft promised to deliver only upgraded models featuring the new CPU."

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