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Over the past few years, Lenovo has been one of Intel’s stalwart partners in the mobile phone business. The company has launched multiple Atom-based devices going back to the original Medfield SoC, and this year is no exception. Lenovo announced its P90 phone today — the first smartphone based on Intel’s 64-bit Atom.
Intel may have prominently announced imminent shipment of Cherry Trail devices, built on 14nm technology, but Lenovo is tapping the company’s 22nm silicon for this effort. The 22nm Z3560 SoC at the heart of the P90 is based on Intel’s Moorefield design, with a quad-core CPU and a burst clock of up to 1.83GHz. The GPU is based on Imagination Technologies’ G6430 — the same GPU inside the iPhone 5S. While no longer cutting-edge, it’s still more than sufficient for most tasks and mobile gaming.
After 97,000 steps (about 45 miles of walking), a couple dozen press events, countless booth visits, and six nights in an overpriced hotel room, my week at CES is over for another year. Like last year, cars and car tech were a major theme of the show. Fortunately, we had yeoman Bill Howard on site for ExtremeTech to sort it all out. Ben Algaze focused a lot of his attention on the AV space, so expect to read his thoughts on the smart TVs and some of the audio technology that was introduced.
As usual, I have a short attention span, so I dove into a little of everything, including a drone that lets you make Hollywood-style movies, an immersive 3D desktop, a roundup of the slew of 3D printers that were released, and a cool new Android tablet that hopes todethrone Microsoft’s Surface in the hybrid space. Stay-tuned for a couple more articles on the brand-new indoor navigation system used at the show, and a company that promises to do away with passwords (yes, I know, they’re not the first to make the claim).
The consumer world is becoming powered by mobile devices, but those devices are still powered by being tethered to a wall or a reserve power pack. What if you could generate power for your mobile devices simply by moving your body, and the power source was almost unnoticeable? A new device developed at the National University of Singapore aims to fulfill both of those requirements.
The flexible nanogenerator resembles a small, stamp-sized patch that attaches to your skin. It uses your skin as a source of static electricity, and converts it to electrical energy — reportedly enough to power a small electronic device, like a wearable. The device, presented at the MEMS 2015 conference last week, can generate 90 volts of open-circuit voltage when tapped by a finger. The researchers presented the patch as a self-powered device that can track the wearer’s motion.
Using a technique that looks strongly reminiscent of 1950s and ’60s core memory, two NASA nanotechnologists from the Ames Research Center in California have devised a method of weaving non-volatile computer memory into garments of clothing, or “e-textiles.”Read More
At its most basic, the e-textile is formed from a lattice of copper wires. The top copper wire is left bare, the bottom wire is coated in copper oxide, and at each intersection is a small piece of platinum. The data is stored in the copper oxide coating by a process that is called resistive switching, and if you understand how a transistor works, just think of the copper oxide as the dielectric layer. The read/write process is also much the same as normal RAM: a high voltage (3V in this case) is used to write bits, and a low voltage (0.5V) reads bits.
One of the seemingly hottest wearables from one of the biggest names in the business, the Nike Fuelband, isn’t as hot as it might have seemed. Reports claim that Nike is ceasing production of the device, and has fired most of the Fuelband’s staff. Has Nike discovered something about wearables that competitors have yet to realize?
Wearable computing is in purgatory at the moment. Despite Samsung’s big push into smartwatches, you don’t see anyone wearing them on the street, at the grocery store, or even the gym — where they, in theory, are the most useful since they would replace the cumbersome armband phone-straps. Google’s face-based wearable, Glass, is currently struggling with asking a staggering entry fee for a device that doesn’t yet do much, but also makes you look very silly (though the company is attempting to rectify this issue). Fitness bands are perhaps the most prevalent wearable, but they’re generally nothing more than a glorified pedometer, though Razer’s Nabu and Samsung’s Gear Fit attempt advanced (messages, for instance) smartphone integration.
IBM cracks open a new era of computing with brain-like chip: 4096 cores, 1 million neurons, 5.4 billion transistors
Scientists at IBM Research have created by far the most advanced neuromorphic (brain-like) computer chip to date. The chip, called TrueNorth, consists of 1 million programmable neurons and 256 million programmable synapses across 4096 individual neurosynaptic cores. Built on Samsung’s 28nm process and with a monstrous transistor count of 5.4 billion, this is one of the largest and most advanced computer chips ever made. Perhaps most importantly, though, TrueNorth is incredibly efficient: The chip consumes just 72 milliwatts at max load, which equates to around 400 billion synaptic operations per second per watt — or about 176,000 times more efficient than a modern CPU running the same brain-like workload, or 769 times more efficient than other state-of-the-art neuromorphic approaches. Yes, IBM is now a big step closer to building a brain on a chip.
The animal brain (which includes the human brain, of course), as you may have heard before, is by far the most efficient computer in the known universe. As you can see in the graph below, the human brain has a “clock speed” (neuron firing speed) measured in tens of hertz, and a total power consumption of around 20 watts. A modern silicon chip, despite having features that are almost on the same tiny scale as biological neurons and synapses, can consume thousands or millions times more energy to perform the same task as a human brain. As we move towards more advanced areas of computing, such as artificial general intelligence and big data analysis — areas that IBM just happens to be deeply involved with — it would really help if we had a silicon chip that was capable of brain-like efficiency.
After years of rumors, leaks, and false starts, it seems the stars will finally swing into alignment this fall: Apple is will unveil an iWatch smartwatch alongside a new large-screen iPhone 6 at an event on September 9, according to the latest reports. Presumably the iWatch will also be released to the public alongside the iPhone 6 a week or two later. Previous rumors had pointed to an October unveil for the iWatch, but it seems Apple has moved it forward — possibly in response to the Samsung Gear S, LG G Watch R, and the Moto 360, all of which will be released over the next month or two. Just as the iPhone and iPad popularized the smartphone and tablet, will the arrival of the iWatch signal the beginning of the wearable computing revolution?
Over the last couple of months, Apple’s (AAPL) stock price has been buoyed by Wall Street’s belief that, at long last, a new segment-defining device was on its way. Last week Apple’s stock price finally rose back above its September 2012 peak. It would seem that, after a couple of years of uncertainty — the echo of Steve Jobs’ death, essentially — the stock market finally thinks that Apple is ready to do more than just squeeze its iPhone cash cow for billions of dollars in profits every quarter.