American FAA Approves Use Of Smartphones/Tablets During Takeoff And Landing

Up until now if you were using a tablet, smartphone, notebook/laptop or any other electrical device during the takeoff or landing procedure on a flight then you’d of been asked to turn those electrical devices off – irrespective of what you’re doing on them. For many years this has long been the standard procedure for the airline industry. That’s all about to change though after the American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ruled otherwise, reports Engadget. a 28 member committee decided that flyers should be able to use “most” devices during takeoff and landing on the condition that most connectivity is not engaged – e.g. you should not be streaming data and you should not be engaged in voice calls. The FAA recommends that flyers should be able to continue to work away on documents, listen to music or watch videos (providing these are all done from local storage – no streaming).

Amazon was part of the 28 member committee in the FAA which developed this new ruling and they stated that:

“We’ve been fighting for our customers on this issue for years – testing an airplane packed full of Kindles, working with the FAA, and serving as the device manufacturer on this committee…This is a big win for customers and, frankly, it’s about time” Said Amazon’s Drew Herdener.

If the FAA decides to continue with the recommendations it is anticipated changes could come into effect by early 2014, though the airline industry is expected to be slower to adopt the new standards. Indeed the ruling does not necessarily mean anything will change either as the FAA can ignore the recommendations generated by the 28 member committee.

Image courtesy of Engadget

Samsung Mass Produces First PCIe SSDs For Ultrabooks

Ultrabooks have almost made exclusive use of SSDs since their release because they are quieter, thinner, faster and more power efficient than mechanical hard drives whilst the extra price premium they have is more acceptable given the target market of Ultrabooks. Samsung have just announced that they have made quite an innovation in moving the Ultrabook SSD market forward with their new PCI express SSDs for ultrabooks.

These are made in the M.2 form factor, that is measuring in at 80mm x 22mm / 3.14 x 0.86 inches, and weigh a tiny 6 grams! That compares to the 54 grams of a SATA 2.5″ SSD. Brilliantly there is absolutely no performance hit as these Samsung XP941 drives can read at 1400 MB/s aka 1.4GB/s which is about 2.75 times as fast as current desktop class SATA III drives. If anything, these drives are “limited”, and we use that term very loosely, by the PCI Express Gen 2 interface they use.

“With the Samsung XP941, we have become the first to provide the highest performance PCIe SSD to global PC makers so that they can launch leading-edge ultra-slim notebook PCs this year” said Young-Hyun Jun, executive vice president, memory sales & marketing, Samsung Electronics.

Samsung has been shipping the XP941 PCIe SSDs to ultrabook vendors since early in the second quarter and they are available in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB capacities using 10nm NAND flash. Expect products using these SSDs to be available later on this year in Q4.

Image courtesy of Samsung

Intel Preparing Enlarged Haswell Chips For Extra Graphics Performance

Intel is gaining an increasing interest in developing better graphics for its new emerging product markets, Ultrabooks and the NUC (next unit of computing) are the main focuses here. The issue with Ultrabooks and the NUC is that they lack space for discrete graphics solutions yet they still need decent graphics performance to meet the ever more-demanding needs of the consumer as well as to help power higher resolution displays when they start to become more prevalent.

The solution to this? Well Intel will start churning out special variations of Haswell processors that feature extra graphics cores. These enhanced/enlarged Haswell processors are MCM (multi-chip-modules) of what is essentially two dies stuck together. The larger die is the Haswell processor itself with a smaller die that incorporates extra graphics cores and fourth level eDRAM cache. The graphics cores gets upgraded from having 20 Execution Units (EUs) to have 40 EUs – essentially double the amount of graphics processing – while the eDRAM cache should allow everything to operate faster with higher bandwidth and lower latency.

This new enlarged GT3 package from Intel is designed to rival discrete sub-20W GPUs from Nvidia and AMD. The enlarged Haswell GT3 package will have a TDP of 55W which may seem high but considering that will contain a processor and vastly improved graphics we think that’s actually pretty good. Not to mention that it will be backed by power management features that will look to cut power consumption down where ever possible.

What are your thoughts on the enlarged Haswell chips? A good idea from Intel? Ideal for mobile computing? Should they bring a similar concept to the desktop market?

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Intel’s Next-Gen Haswell Processors Now Being Shipped To PC Makers

Intel has started shipping its mainstream processor lineup, the 4th Gen Intel Core Series called ‘Haswell’ to major PC makers. Haswell will be launched later during this quarter by June.

Haswell will be the next generation mainstream processor from Intel and will be powering up many systems, Ultrabooks and notebooks. Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini said in a statement,”The single largest generation-to-generation battery life improvement in Intel history.”

Intel will also be shipping its next generation “Merrified” Atom chips to their smartphone partners by the end of this year. During the end of the year, the manufacturers who partnered with the Chip maker will also be released tablets with ‘Bay Trail’ Atom chips as well.

But there was a concern about Haswell’s where USB flash drives which are connected on systems powered by Haswell. It was found that these USB drives do not get detected after the system started from standby. Bright Side of News also made a report that in some cases, the removable drives do not get detected by the system even after reconnecting the drive.

Therefore, Intel released a note to the media during Friday Afternoon:

4th gen Core is on track for a mid-year launch. Intel issued a PCN documenting a chipset USB errata and stating that chipsets with the errata will be in production during the initial ramp. But Intel has confirmed that there is no chance of data loss or corruption. This issue has only been observed with a small subset of USB SuperSpeed thumb drives and does not affect other USB peripherals. We take all customer issues seriously and should any customer have a question or concern they can always contact Intel customer support.

It should be noted that the newer stepping will not have this problem, as highlighted by Ryan.

Source: CNET