NASA to Send Humanoid Robots to College

Hardly the typical vision of a model student, the latest high-tech admittance to MIT and the Northeastern University of Boston is 6-feet tall, weighs 290 pounds and goes by the names Valkyrie and R5. This new student is a robot, developed by NASA’s JSC team who have sent Valkyrie out into the world of academia to prepare it for the extreme environments it would have to handle in the process of space work and exploration.

Designed as part of the DARPA Robotics Challenge to develop robots that would be able to assist humans in crisis situations, R5 was revealed to the world back in 2013 when it was put through a series of tasks, that while mundane to a human are challenges to a humanoid robot. The end-goal of Valkyrie’s development team was to send it to Mars, to pioneer technologies that would allow for manned missions to Mars to go ahead. By cooperating with fellow entrants of the DARPA Robotics Challenge to combine R5 hardware with their AI and software developments, they hope to give Valkyrie a future in space.

The two teams selected to work with the R5 are MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory’s “Robust Autonomy for Extreme Space Environments” and Noetheastern University’s “Accessible Testing on Humanoid-Robot-R5 and Evaluation of NASA Administered (ATHENA) Space Robotics Challenge.” Both of the teams will be provided $250,000 per year for the two-year scheme to put towards their research as well as access to the units themselves.

They share the joint aims of entering their systems and algorithms into NASA’s Space Robotics Challenge, which will see both teams R5 units compete in a number of activities performed by astronauts in space, such as operating an airlock and ladder to reach a terrestrial surface and repair or replace damaged components on complex equipment. All of these are part of a process to see the R5 into a role of assisting astronauts on missions with tasks too dangerous for humans. Maybe in future send out whole armies of R5 units as maintenance assistants and exploration units to all manner of moons and planets.

Who knows, the future of space exploration could be in the hands of this slick Iron Man-like robot, and I for one look forward to the day we see humanoid robots that can operate on two legs as well as a human.

Fractal Design R5 Chassis Tested in The World’s Quietest Room

Fractal Design’s unbridled commitment to constructing silent, high-quality cases with a focus on good airflow has earned a great deal of respect throughout the technology sector. The Define R5 applied a number of subtle tweaks from the previous model and progressively enhanced the chassis’ sound-deadening materials. Fractal Design constantly strives for perfection and conducted a wide array of interesting noise tests in the world’s quietest room.

From the graphs, we can see the Fractal Design R5 is virtually silent at idle and reported a 14 dB figure. The majority of people would struggle to distinguish audible noise between 1-10 dB, so 14 is remarkably quiet. Even under full load, the case only ramps up to 21.2 dB and well within an acceptable range. To put this into perspective, the case when benchmarking is even quieter than a library or normal conversation.

The R5 competes exceedingly well against an open test bench and provides a much better PC experience. Under idle, the R5 and R5 windowed edition only recorded a 1.3 and 1.4 dBA acoustical noise level while the test bench hit a maximum of 16.1 dBA. The figures under 50% load remain fairly constant with an increase of approximately 1 dBA. However, notice how the gap slightly increases between the solid and windowed side panel version. When 100% load was applied, the standard R5 reached 21.2 dBA and the side-panel case only increased this figure by 0.7 dBA. Honestly, I expected there to be a much larger gap between these models. Finally, the Test Bench wasn’t ridiculously loud but enough of an increase to exemplify the R5’s excellent build quality.

This was a rather intriguing experiment and illustrates how quiet a modern, custom-PC can be. Perhaps the research conducted will allow Fractal to improve their silent ratings even further in future products.

Latest 15.3 Catalyst Driver Reveals AMD Radeon Rx 300 Cards

A few people have apparently taking a closer look into AMD’s latest Catalyst driver, the 15.3 beta. They apparently have found a few new entries leading to the upcoming Rx 300 series of graphics cards.

Some information here reveals some bad news for gamers who wanted a new chip in the latest Rx 300. The information points that the new cards are just some respin products, meaning that older GPUs will be used on new PCBs and BIOS, often polished with a subtle clock frequency increase.

Comparing the device ID’s found in the Catalyst driver to previous generations reveals that older GPUs are in use for the upcoming cards up to the R9 370.

  • AMD665F.1 = “AMD Radeon R9 360″
  • AMD6610.2 = “AMD Radeon(TM) R7 350X”
  • AMD6610.3 = “AMD Radeon(TM) R5 340X”
  • AMD6611.10 = “AMD Radeon R7 340″
  • AMD665F.1 = “AMD Radeon R9 360″
  • AMD6660.1 = “AMD Radeon(TM) R5 M330″
  • AMD6660.2 = “AMD Radeon(TM) R5 M330″
  • AMD6660.3 = “AMD Radeon(TM) R5 M330″
  • AMD6778.8 = “AMD Radeon R5 310″
  • AMD6811.1 = “AMD Radeon R9 370″

The above reveals that the Radeon R9 370 would be Trinidad, also found in HD 7870 and 265/270/270X products. The Radeon R9 360 Tobago would use Bonaire with 896 shader processors and Radeon R7 350X, R7 340 and R5 340X would use the Oland with 384 stream processors.

The R9 380 and R9 390 have yet to show up, but taking into account the respin mentioned above, a logical speculation would be that they will feature the Hawaii found in 290 and 290X graphics cards. However, this is just a speculation, so take it with a pinch of salt.

Thank you Guru3D for providing us with this information

Fractal Design Define R5 Mid-Tower Chassis Review

Introduction


The Fractal Design Define series has been one of the corner stones of the chassis industry for years now. Fractal Design have always been known for the exceptional build quality, silent performance and bold looks; although this much is true of almost all the chassis’ that Fractal Design produce. With that in mind, I’m very excited to have their latest iteration at my disposal today, the Fractal Design Define R5; the latest flag-ship chassis from the legendary Swedish manufacturer.

The Define R5 has been a long time coming, it was just over two years ago that I reviewed the Define R4. As much as I love the Define R4, two years is a long time and PC hardware has already changed a lot in that time; it will be interesting to see how Fractal Design have tweaked and improves the design to reflect that.

The Define R5 comes equipped with two 5.25″ drive bays, eight 2.5″/3.5″ bays and two 2.5″ drive mounts behind the motherboard; there’s no doubt that this chassis can handle a lot of storage. You’ll find room for mini-ITX, Micro ATX and most importantly, ATX motherboards. Combine this with room for graphics card of up to 310mm with the hard drive cages installed, or 440mm with them removed, up to 35mm of cable routing space, PSUs of up to 300mm and a whole lot more; the Fractal Design Define R5 is certainly capable of housing an ultra high-end system.

The chassis keeps the bold design that Fractal Design are known for. There are a few vents on the left side of the front panel to allow air into the chassis. The case is sealed up pretty tight to help keep any unwanted noises as muted as possible, but there’s a removable side panel cover, behind which you’ll find an optional side panel fan mount.

The right side panel is a blank panel, but you’ll notice even more ventilation on the right edge of the front panel. Both the left and right side panels are held in place by a pair of thumb screws.

The I/O panel is really nicely designed, you’ve got a pair of HD audio jacks and four USB ports; so connectivity shouldn’t be a problem. There’s a small reset button recessed into the top, a nicely designed power button and the top of the front panel is cut away for a recessed power LED.

The front panel features a thick layer of high-quality sound dampening material. The front door panel has been designed with a dual hinge, allowing you to open it from either the left or the right; it’s up to you.

Tucked away in the top left corner you’ll find a three speed fan control switch; you can connect up to three fans to this. The 5.25″ drive bay covers are removable from the front for easy access.

There is large high-quality dust filter in the front that can be easily removed. Behind this you’ll find a high quality 140mm fan with room for an additional 140mm fan below it.

There is another 140mm installed in the back of the chassis, although you could swap this out for a 120mm fan if you wanted to. There are elongated screw holes to allow height adjustment of your fan or radiator; this is great for preventing conflicts with other components or the chassis itself. There are seven expansion slots, each fitted with a reusable and ventilated metal cover.

This is one of my favourite features of the Define R5. The bottom dust filter covers all the way from the back of the PSU to the front of the chassis. The thing I like most is that the filter can be slid out from the front of the chassis, meaning you don’t have to pull the chassis out from under your desk to get to the filter! It’s amazing how many chassis manufacturers do this the other way around.

AMD Has Added Sniper Elite III To Its Never Settle Forever Bundle Gold and Silver Tiers

The Never Settle Forever Bundle has been a big attraction for gamers, having big AAA, AA and even Indie titles up for grabs to any user purchasing a select AMD graphics cards or gamers using the AMD Gaming Evolved app, through which they can exchange points for sweepstake tickets in order to win games and other products offered.

This time, AMD has added one of the most awaited AAA titles, Sniper Elite III, to its Silver and Gold tiers. For those who are unaware of how the tiers work, AMD has three types of tiers available. The Gold tier, having the ability to choose up to 3 games, is given to owners of the Radeon R9 295X2 / 290 and 280 models, while Radeon R7 260 and R9 270 owners will receive a Silver tier, granting them access to two game titles. Even owners of the Radon R5 250 and R7 240 will be grated access to a Bronze tier, however this will not include the Sniper Elite III title in the game selection menu.

Alternatively, AMD Gaming Evolved users can purchase up to 15 sweepstake entry tickets per draw, having the Gold tier priced at 200 Points per entry and the Silver tier tagged at 100 Points per entry. To be noted is that the bundles change from time to time, with even more great game titles being added to them. This time, Sniper Elite III enters the stage in the Gold and Silver tiers.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjguP56ig_o[/youtube]

The title is said to take advantage of AMD’s Mantle API, dropping a lot of CPU load, ending in making the game playable even on entry-level AMD Radeon graphics solutions such as the ones found on the A-series Kaveri APUs. Sniper Elite III is said to have up to 12 player slots in terms of multiplayer sessions,where gamers can enjoy a tense adversarial multiplayer experience having up to five unique multiplayer modes, and 2 player co-op campaign modes, having an additional two collaborative co-op modes named Overwatch and Survival.

Thank you Guru3D for providing us with this information
Images and video courtesy of Guru3D

New AMD Never Settle Forever Gaming Bundle Launching Next Week

AMD have had massive success from their Never Settle bundles, offering gamers a huge saving on their graphics cards by bundling many of today’s top gaming titles. Of course some of those games are getting a little older now, but that’s spurred AMD to go back to the drawing board and make a few tweaks to their playlist, and they’ll be relaunching the revised bundle on the 21st of this month.

The bundle will be divided over three tiers, those who buy a R9 295X2, R9 290(x) or R9 280(x) will be entitled to pick three games, R9 270(x) and R7 260 purchasers can pick two games and finally R5 250 and R7 240 will allow you one title from the list. The keys that are bundled with the cards can be activated up until August 2014.

The latest title to the list will be Murdered: Soul Suspect, which is not yet released, but will pre-activate for download in June and you’ll also not the addition of 4 indie games which will be available in packs of two (of your choosing).

The rest is pretty much the same, so you can still expect the big hitters such as Tomb Raider and Hitman, but BioShock, Crysis and Far Cry are unfortunately gone in favour of Thief, which now supports both AMD TrueAudio and Mantle.

Check out the list below for full details and thank you VideoCardz.com for providing us with this chart.

Thank you VideoCardz for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of VideoCardz.