NASA to Test Inflatable Living Modules on The ISS

When sending something into space, it is important to consider how big it is. Something large may be useful in space, but it is no good if it can’t be carried up there by rocket after all. Now NASA is hoping to make the best use of the limited space available by testing expandable modules on the ISS in the hopes that they can be used on future missions to Mars as living and working habitats. These inflatable modules will be getting a lift to the ISS as part of SpaceX’s next resupply mission aboard their Dragon cargo capsule.

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, once in space, will be attached to the ISS and then filled with air, causing it to inflate from its packed size of just over five feet in-depth and almost eight in diameter to a far roomier 12 feet deep and over 10 feet in diameter, with pressure equalized with the rest of the station. The deployment won’t be quick, however, as it is the first of its kind and very experimental and a slow inflation will allow any faults to be detected before they become critical.

In order to be considered a success and considered for more deep-space missions, the module will first have to survive two years on the ISS. This won’t be easy and will test the module’s resistance to cosmic radiation, durability and long-term resistance to leaking. To get a taste of what the deployment will look like, NASA has released an animation displaying the inflation of the module (but at a much higher speed than reality.)

Image credit to NASA

JavaScript Projects Were Broken After Left-Pad Was Unpublished

Tuesday afternoon and you start running your brand new JavaScript for the website you’re working on. You’ve been working on it for days and have been enjoying it working only to find it breaks. The reason your project, among hundreds of JavaScript Projects, was broken for hours because someone unpublished a piece of their work known as Left-pad.

As people create more and more complex programs they often rely on code written by others in modules or tools, in this case, the module was titled left-pad and was taken down my creator Azer Koçulu after lawyers representing instant messaging app, Kik, targeted one of Koçulu’s many modules for having the same name. While this wouldn’t cause problems for many, left-pad whose sole purpose is to pad the left-hand side of strings (or sentences) with zeroes or spaces, is used in projects like Node and Babel, most popular pieces of work that are used in many other projects themselves.

With left-pad removed from NPM (a packet manager that helps developers organise their use of other modules or packages), the projects suddenly found themselves unable to retrieve the code, ultimately falling over in style. With just under 2.5 million downloads in the last month alone according to NPM you can tell just how many projects could have been broken by a single action.

In order to solve this problem Laurie Voss, CTO and co-founder of NPM took a step that many consider unprecedented and republished the previously removed left-pad 0.0.3. This action was apparently prompted by the new owner and allowed Voss to end the day knowing that he was “sleeping fine tonight”.

Innodisk Introduces M.2 Module Network Adapters

You might know Innodisk as a storage and memory manufacturer, but that isn’t the only thing that this company creates. They also produce a lot of embedded solutions and modules and the newest in this range is also a world’s first: A new M.2 form factor Single and Dual Gigabit Ethernet Module that doesn’t require extra drivers.

The single port module is called the EGUL-G101 and the dual port module that supports port trunking and link aggregation is called the EGUL-G201. The modules are built-in a 22×60 (60mm long) form factor which could be an issue with some boards that only take 2280 modules, however, newer boards take 40, 60, and 80mm modules.

The EGUL modules use the USB 3.0 standard that provides up to 5Gb/s throughput, plenty for even the dual EGUL-201 that only needs 2Gb/s. Unlike PCI-express based network cards, the EGUL modules can be used on both Windows and Linux platforms without the need for extra drivers and provide flexible network expansion for all kinds of embedded systems.

The modules use an industrial grade design, suitable for use in commercial systems. The EGUL-G101 and EGUL-G201 are built with strong electrical isolation and 30 micro-inch gold interface connectors for a robust connection. The ethernet modules feature 15kV ESD, 2kV HiPot and 2kV surge protection, preventing electrical damage to the system and connected components from potential differences or dirty electrical conditions while also maintaining signal integrity.

There are multiple daughterboards available, allowing you to set the actual RJ45 ports where you need them and where your case or rack allows you to mount them.

The new EGUL-G101 and EGUL-G201 modules should be available now, meaning they will arrive at resellers very shortly. It is really nice to see some available options in the M.2 form factor that previously was known as the next-generation form factor (NGFF). For a next generation, there have been way too few options for too long.

Features

  • Single/Dual isolated GbE LAN ports
  • Complies with EN61000-4-5 2kV Surge protection
  • Complies with IEC 60950-1:2005 + A1: 2009 + A2:2013 2kV HiPOT protection
  • Complies with EN61000-4-2 (ESD) Air-15kV, Contact-8kV
  • Flexible daughter board with cable to fit into different system
  • Optional terminal mounting hole or bracket for daughter board
  • Support native CDC-ECM driver in Linux
  • Support driver auto-install mode in Windows
  • 30µ ” golden finger, 3 years warranty
  • Industrial design, manufactured in Innodisk Taiwan

SilverStone ECWA1 mPCI-E Adapter and ECW02 mPCI-E 802.11ac Module Review

Introduction


In today’s review, I am not just going to look at a single product, but a combination of two that work perfectly in tandem. The SilverStone ECW02 Mini PCI-E 802.11ac Wi-Fi module is ready for laptops and similar equipment, but a desktop system will most likely require an adapter such as the SilverStone ECWA1 Mini PCI-E Adapter with external feet and 5 dBi antennas. This combination of the two will allow us to add an IEEE 802.1ac dual-band wireless connection to any normal desktop system that comes without its own Mini PCI-E slot.

There can be a quite a few reasons why you might want to upgrade your desktop system with a wireless connection. It isn’t any secret that a wired connection provides the best throughput, but that doesn’t mean that we should forget all about wireless connections here, they can be quite beneficial too. You might not be able to run a cable everywhere you want too, maybe because you aren’t allowed to drill holes in the walls of your rented house or apartment, or you just don’t want to. You could also use the wireless connection as an ad-hoc access point where you are able to connect other wireless devices directly and use the PC as a bridge and send it on via your wired connection. Or maybe something completely different, but whatever the reason might be, the combination of SilverStone’s ECWA1 adapter and ECW02 WiFi module will suit the task.

The Mini PCI-E adapter card can naturally be used with other types of cards too, but the included antennas and holes on the slot cover make it optimal for just this. The same way, the Mini PCI-E WiFi module can be used on other adapters and directly in slots that support it: such as in notebooks and laptops.

Specifications

The specification as taken directly from the manufacturer supplied information and can as such be subject to change in future revisions of the product.

ECWA1: Mini PCI-E to standard PCI-E x1 adapter card

  • Support PCIe x1 at 1.5V and 3.3V
  • Includes standard height and low profile expansion brackets
  • 2x dual band (2.4G/5G) 5dBi MIMO antenna
  • Includes circular magnetic base with gold plated SMA plug RP and 1.5m cable

ECW02: Mini PCI-E 802.11ac WiFi module

  • IEEE 802.11ac/a/b/g/n
  • Supports 2T2R dual-band (2×2 MIMO)
  • Mini PCI-E interface

Packaging and Content

The SilverStone ECW02 Wi-Fi 802.11ac mini PCI-E module comes in a simple brown package with basic information on both the front and rear. It is nothing spectacular, but it is plenty and we get all the important information right away.

The ECWA1 mini PCI-E adapter comes in a more fancy package. The front displays a clear image of the product along with the basic features and specifications.

On the rear of the ECWA1 package, we find all the detailed information that we might be interested in before a purchase, such as the antenna specifications. This is an important factor in my opinion and something a lot of manufacturers of such devices forget to add. It’s nice to see SilverStone adding it all.

Inside the package we find the two antennas, two magnetic feet, a low profile bracket for mounting the adapter in a small form factor chassis as well as screws to secure the mini PCI-E module, and a manual.

Google’s Inception Module

Google are an innovative bunch who invest in concepts which can be visually stimulating, I could have found a more apt word, but will stick with it. This time around the search giant’s creation, in this case goes by the name of “The Inception Module” and is software which is an artificial neural network which identifies certain characteristics within an image.

Sounds complicated but look at it this way, when you gaze at clouds you may find these clumps of water vapour morph into objects. This is a rudimentary viewpoint of the software which, when processing an image can over analyse what it sees and therefore, perceive something which is not present. Look below; it looks as if this jpeg has been designed by a Photoshop beginner, what it actually represents is the picture of the clouds was loaded into the software, the end result being the code has over defined to include the same result as following Ozzy Osborne on a night out.

At this stage, the software is attempting to mimic the human brain which is extremely complex, in fact, scientists have yet to discover every part of the brain and the function with which it represents.   It’s a clever piece of software which no doubt will improve over time and with it, a greater understanding of how we perceive images.

Image Courtesy of New Scientist and ColdBox

Thank You arxiv and New Scientist for providing us with this information

DDR4 Industrial Grade Modules Announced by SMART Modular Technologies

SMART Modular Technologies has announced the availability of its highly reliable DDR4 industrial grade modules. The modules are said to join the company’s very successful DDR3 lineup and target the networking, telecom and industrial applications market, where operating areas consist of harsh environments.

As with all of SMART’s products, quality is extremely important and this is why each of the DDR4 industrial grade modules undertake extreme tests. The DDR4-2133 1.2V modules are tested with customized tensing programs, test flows and specialized equipment in order to eliminate weak bits and modules likely to fail under temperature tests.

It is said that SMART’s industrial grade modules are 100% system tested at high speeds, starting with a cold boot at -40°C and working upward to +85°C ambient operation. However, test duration may vary depending on each module’s density.

SMART’s DDR4 industrial grade modules are said to be ready to operate in a variety of harsh conditions, including base stations and telecom equipment exposed to the elements, single board computers used in industrial, defense, aerospace, kiosk, digital signage applications and densely configured computing applications with limited airflow.

The memory modules come in a variety of types, including SO-DIMMs up to 16GB, unbuffered and registered DIMMs up to 16GB and 32GB respectively, and Mini-DIMMs up to 16GB.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information

Star Citizen Modules Available for Free This Weekend

Star Citizen is at PAX this weekend and for those who can’t make it to experience the title first hand, Cloud Imperium is giving away free codes to access different modules for a limited time.

The client is said to let you take part on the Hangar Module with an Anvil Hornet F7C. There is also the Arena Commander available, which lets you play with friends to fight waves of enemies. In terms of disk space, the client is said to require 20GB of free storage space and is available until March 15th.

The momentum for the title is said to have been extremely high, with the crowd-funding campaign raising more than $75 million. It has expanded rapidly from being a space-sim to a first person shooter and increased in scale overall.

In order to get access to the module, users can visit the Star Citizen official website hereand login/create an account. Once finished, entering the “PAXEASTFREEFLY2K15” promo code will unlock the module.

Thank you GamingBolt for providing us with this information

Toshiba Silently Helps Google Build Tech for Project Ara Smartphones

Google might take most credit for Project Ara and its plan to make modular smartphones a reality, but according to Bloomberg, Toshiba has been the Japanese company who was silently helping to develop the chips that would make Project Ara a reality.

It is said that there are two different chips which make Project Ara work. The switch, which makes it possible to swap out different modules on the fly, and a bridge chip that allows each component to connect to the rest of the device. Google is said to have total control over the switch chip, white Toshiba has the liberty of selling the bridge chip to any company interested in building Project Ara modules.

Aside from chips, Toshiba is said to also be interested in selling modules, having be the first company to reveal swappable cameras. The company is to be working on a variety of components, including one that could add wireless charging. In addition to the latter, Toshiba sees a lot of potential in Project Ara beyond smartphones, stating that it could expand to other type of devices and the general Internet of Things.

There is still no set plan for a general release of the modular phone, though Google has recently confirmed plans for a market pilot test in Puerto Rico sometime this year.

Thank you TechnoBuffalo for providing us with this information

Lightning Tube ‘Treatment’ given to Avexir RAIDEN DDR3 Memory Modules

The RAIDEN DDR3 memory module series is known for their high performance and apparently for their unique feature. The modules are using the world exclusive patented technology of plasma tubes in order to mimic the lightning effect for gamers seeking a more unique look and something to brag about when presenting their rigs to friends.

The high-performance memory modules are said to pass 16 Avexir Ic Sorting Technology processes and 14 memory module functional, burn-in and compatibility tests on Intel chipset 7, 8 and 9 series before shipping, adding a heavy layer of confidence for customers looking to buy reliable memory for their PCs.

Avexir also built the memory modules with 8 layers of performance optimized design-printed circuit board and industry grade resistors and capacitors, making the RAIDEN series one of the top-level specification modules. They also feature the Intel XMP technology, allowing users to tune the memory modules to the rated speed with ease.

While prices for the modules are still unknown, it is said that Avexir will ship the modules with speeds ranging from 1866 to 2400 MHz and 4 to 8 GB density.

Thank you Guru3D for providing us with this information

Phone, Tablet Company Linshof Claims a ‘Clean Android’ Device Launch

We’ve recently reported on Linshof’s i8 smartphone offering, allowing users to utilize their 80GB of storage space through an interesting 64GB and 16GB memory module paring technology. Just now, news has come to light that this German manufacturer has announced that they will launch ‘clean Android’ offerings of these smartphones and tablets as soon as the first-quarter of 2015. This is an expanded news article, with more pricing and product information being made available to us.

This new OEM has been officially revealed to the public, utilizing Android’s 5.0 Lollipop software at a reported low price. Linshof claims that their i8 5-inch smartphone and their 10-inch tablet will be released on the market with an unnamed octa-core processor @ 2.1GHz, paired with 3GB of RAM and the aforementioned 80GB storage modules. They sent out an email this last Saturday, further clarifying that their 80GB modules are split up between a 64GB and 16GB chip – with this 16GB chip being a “super-high data rate” device, allowing for SSD-like upgraded performance contained within your mobile phone.

The tablet is set to be listed at $360 US, alongside their Smartphone at $380 US. These sharp-angled products are expected to see a slight change in pricing upon release according to reports, however it will be based around the same mark.

Linshof is looking to prove that Germans have what it takes to enter the phone market globally, can they compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung?

Revolutionary Chemical Iris Could Bring Smaller Cameras to Smartphones

A normal iris has physical blades which move in order to change the amount of light entering the lens. More light enters when wider and less when closing down. The same principle is applied to cameras found in some smartphones nowadays too. A new chemical iris however tends to change the way our cameras on smartphones work. It is said that the new iris drops the need for physical blades and in turn reduces the overall size of a camera module. The miniaturization of bladed cameras is really quite tricky, since the module still requires the need of a actuator to move the blades.

Researchers in Germany have apparently solved the problem of creating miniaturized cameras with the help of a new iris which uses transparent chemical rings, giving it the ability to become opaque when a voltage is applied to it. The iris is said to measure in at just 55 micrometers thick, granting smartphones the ability to house much smaller and thinner camera modules. The design is said to feature two glass substrates pressed together with an iridium tin oxide layer on each side. A thin layer of electrochromic polymer is also said to be present on both glass substrates, formed into rings that create the chemical iris.

It is said that the iris needs only 1.5V to turn opaque, an ideally low voltage for smartphones and other mobile devices. A research paper states that a 1,200 mAh battery grants enough power to maintain the iris-state for about 60,000 hours. Having the aperture a perfect circle rather than shaped by overlapping blades will also give a more pleasing effect on the shallow depth of field effect and deliver smoother bokeh.

The new iris is said to still be in its early stages, but the researchers stated to help develop it even further since the new technology could deliver more flexibility and also bring the full manual controls seen on professional camera to mobile photography.

Thank you Cnet for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Cnet

I’M Intelligent Memory Launches 16 GB DDR3 Memory Modules

Hong Kong based DRAM manufacturer, I’M Intelligent Memory, has announced its 8 GB DDR3 components with a single chip, which doubles the amount of memory per chip compared to other DRAM devices on the market. Based on the latter chip, the company is said to have introduced the 16 GB DDR3 UDIMM and SO-DIMM memory modules, having EEC error-correction technology as an optional upgrade.

It is said that the JEDEC specification JESD9-3 has always allowed a 8GB capacity for DDR3 devices. However, it seems that most manufacturers are waiting for the 2x nm process in order to fit smaller chips and bring high memory capacity. I’M Intelligent Memory has apparently made the leap by developing their own way of manufacturing 8 GB DDR3 components with a single chip using existing 30 nm technology.

The company states that their memory modules are compatible with the JEDEC standard pinout, timing and row/column/bank addressing. In addition to the latter, the company has made available devices including x8 (1Gx8) configuration in FBGA 78 ball package, a x16 (512Mx16) type in FBGA 96 ball package, a x32 (256Mx32) configuration in FBGA 136 ball package, as well as providing DDR3L low-voltage 1.35V versions, all of which are currently available on the market.

Given the 8 GB device, the company has released its first 16 GB DDR3 240 Pin unbuffered DIMMs and 204 Pin SO-DIMMs on the market, while also having them available in 72 Bit width for EEC error correction. The latter modules are said to be compatible with processors and micro-controllers from AMD, Cavium, Freescale, Tilera and others.

While not all processors used in desktop PCs are compatible with the high-capacity memory, Intel has offered support for the Atom C2000 series and Atom E3800 series with a new BIOS version available to download now. Also, ASUS has confirmed support for the latter memory on its X79-DELUXE, RAMPAGE IV BLACK EDITION and other ASUS X79 motherboards. Other manufacturers, such as ASRock, Supermicro, AIC and Portwell have already verified and approved the IM 16 GB DDR3 memory modules for a variety of their motherboards based on ADM, Tilera, Intel’s C2000 series and other processors.

I’M Intelligent Memory apparently has noticed the potential embedded markets, networking and telecommunication applications, as well as PCs and laptops, allowing all to reach a memory capacity previously untouched by any manufacturer out there.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of TechPowerUp

Icy Dock ‘Black Vortex’ MB074SP-B 3.5” 4-in-3 Cage Review

Introduction


Over the last couple of years I’ve reviewed a fair selection of products from the Icy Dock catalogue, ranging from external drive enclosures such as the Blizzard and the MB559U3S SuperSpeed to a variety of SATA backplanes and drive bay adaptors including the FatCage MB155SP-B, MB971SP-B and MB994SP-4SB-1 Quad 2.5″ Backplane. Overall it’s a fair statement to say that they have a wide variety of angles covered and the tastes of many users fulfilled with their products, whether it be through the design or the functional capability. With so many items on offer, we are a little amazed to see that Icy Dock have once again come up with a new product and this time round the product is in principle a cooled multi-bay drive adaptor. Taking up three optical drive bays, the Black Vortex MB074SP-B is able to house four 3.5″ hard drives in an open air frame design, offering a quick and simple access to one or more drives whilst offering the benefit of active cooling through a front mounted 120mm fan.

Aside from a traditional 3.5″ hard drive, the Black Vortex is also compatible with a number of Icy Dock’s own 2.5″ to 3.5″  EZ-Dock and EZ-Adapter product ranges, allowing more than just a hard drive to be installed into the chassis. With so many drive bay adaptors and mounting solutions now available on the market from a number of vendors, the question stands to ask if we have enough options already available to cater every persons need, or does this unit really offer up the functionality that some users are after to mount and keep their drives cool.

Like any other Icy Dock product, the packaging is very informative with plenty of information about the cage on hand; detailing the units specifications, features and design. Inside the box things are a little more concise with a simple user installation guide and two sets of screws for fitting the brackets to each of the four drives and securing the framework into your chassis.

 [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ue1hnszk35E[/youtube]

Icy Dock FatCage MB155SP-B SATA Backplane Module Review

Introduction


When it comes to drive enclosures, both of the internal and external flavour, there is, generally speaking, one name that always pops to mind and this is Icy Dock. For many years now they have been creating enclosures, mounts and backplanes in a whole heap of varieties – some of which we’d never have thought were useful. The backplane that I’ll be looking at today is just one example of a product that I’d look through their catalogue, see and skip past as it doesn’t immediately jump out to me as a product that needs much attention.

For the vast majority of home users, having a server at home is not something that would really shout out as being needed and on the whole, they are not, but with media streaming and file sharing become more common, some users are making the move to build their own. Naturally the obvious path, rather than buying one, is to build a system from common desktop components, using a mid tower chassis to house everything, but many chassis only offer internal drive bays and there can be few at that. For those that are keen on keeping things backed up or who want easy access to their drives without having to open the case, having a backplane is a simple solution that gives flexibility of access whilst adding additional 3.5″ space.

The MS155SP-B that we’re looking at today is a simple, straight to the point backplane. By simply mounting into the optical drive area, this backplane gives five additional drive bays that can be individually removed from the system in a hot-swap manner with ease.

Anyone that has owned an Icy Dock product of this type or have read my past reviews on some of their products will know that they like to keep the packaging and extras down to a minimum, after all there’s no need for a heap of paperwork, leaflets and other non-vital parts that typically ends up staying in the box.