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AMD's New Flagship HD 6970 Tested 152

I.M.O.G. writes "Today AMD officially introduces their newest flagship GPU, the Radeon HD 6970, hot on the heels of the Radeon HD 6870 released at the end of October, then the NVIDIA GTX 580 in early November, which is Nvidia's current flagship card. Initial testing and overclocking results are publishing at first tier review sites now. While the HD 6970 is a strong performer and the price point is outstanding for consumers, the GTX 580 retains the flagship crown while the AMD 5970 keeps the single card performance crown with its dual GPUs on a single card."

When You Really, Really Want to Upgrade a Tiny Notebook 104

Benz145 writes "The famous Sony VAIO UX UMPC may have been cancelled a few years back by Sony, but the community at Micro PC Talk won't let it die. Modder Anh has carefully removed the relatively slow 1.33Ghz Core Solo CPU and installed a much faster Intel Core 2 Duo U7700 (a process which involves reballing the entire CPU). On top of this, he managed to install an incredibly small 4-port USB hub into the unit which allowed for the further instillation of a Huawei E172 modem for 3G data/voice/SMS, a GPS receiver, and a Pinnacle HD TV receiver. All of this was done without modifying the device's tiny external case. Great high-res pictures of the motherboard with the modded hardware can be seen through the link."

Universe Has 100x More Entropy Than We Thought 304

eldavojohn writes "Previous estimates are now thought to skimp on the entropy of the observable universe. The researchers contend that super-massive black holes are the largest contributor of entropy. Since they contribute two orders of magnitude more than previously thought, the total of all the observable universe is correspondingly higher. The paper highlights (in gruesome detail) new issues that arise with these new calculations — like estimating us a little bit closer to heat death (moving entropy totals from 10^102 to 10^104 out of a maximum of 10^122)."

Comment Re:Dynamic typing (Score 2, Insightful) 517

The following is taken from Andrew Cooke's excellent write-up of issues like this...

http://www.acooke.org/andrew/writing/lang.html#sec -staticdynamic

Static and Dynamic Typing

Types can be static or dynamic. Languages like Lisp or Python have many different types, but when you look at a piece of code there is nothing that forces a variables to "be" (or to "point to") a piece of data of a particular type. In other languages, like ML or Eiffel, a certain variable will always be connected with a value of a certain, fixed type. The first group of languages (where the type of everything is unknown when the program is compiled) has dynamic types, the second group has static types.

Dynamic types are good because the program source can be more flexible and compact (which might be particularly useful for prototyping a system, for example). Static types are good because they allow certain errors in programs to be detected earlier (a compiler for a statically typed language may also be able to make extra optimisations using the extra information available, but this depends on details of particular languages and compilers).

My own view is that at computing projects become larger, static typing becomes more important. I would not like to work on a project with many other programmers using a dynamically typed language, and I choose to use dynamically typed languages, usually, when doing projects of my own.

In some languages (e.g. ML) the interpreter or compiler can often work out the type associated with a variable by itself, which saves the programmer a lot of effort.
Strong and Weak Typing

Types can be weak or strong. The languages mentioned above are all strongly typed, which means that at any point in the program, when it is running, the type of a particular chunk of data is known.

Since a dynamically typed language does not have complete type information at compile time it must, if it strongly typed, keep track of the type of different values as it runs. Typically values are boxed together with information about their type - value and type are then passed around the program together.

It might seem that a strong, statically typed language would not need to do this and so could save some memory (as type information is available when the program is compiled). In practice, however, I believe that they still do so - possibly because of polymorphism (see below).

Unlike the languages mentioned so far, C has weak typing - some variables can point to different types of data, or even random areas of memory, and the program cannot tell what type of object is being referred to. Depending on the context within the program, the variable is assumed to point to some particular type, but it is quite possible - and a common source of confusing bugs - for this assumption to be incorrect (some type checking is done by a C compiler, but not as much as in a language designed to have rigorous compile time checking, like those described as statically typed above).

Java is strongly, but not statically, typed - classes can be converted (cast) and, if the types are not compatible (related through inheritance - see below), a run time error will occur. Apart from this (significant) exception the Java type system can be considered static - one description is "compromised strong static typing".

When strong static typing is enforced (even if only partially, as in Java) it can be difficult to write generic algorithms - functions that can act on a range of different types. Polymorphism allows "any" to be included in the type system. For example, the types of a list of items are unimportant if we only want to know the length of the list, so in ML a function can have a type that indicates that it takes lists of "any" type and returns an integer.

Another solution to the problem of over-restrictive types is to use inheritance from OOP (see below) to group data together. Yet another approach, used in C++, is templates - a way of describing generic routines which are then automatically specialised for particular data types (generic programming and parameterised classes).

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