samedi 31 mars 2012

Electronics: A Faster Model for Speedier Circuits

A*STAR Research (03/28/12)

A*STAR Institute for High Performance Computing researchers say they have developed an efficient modeling technique that significantly decreases the amount of computing time needed to relay signals between electronic components.  They note that there are two basic approaches to simulating the power and signal integrity of a wire network, one of which is to use exact equations to describe the power and supply networks, and the other approach involves using numerical methods.  The A*STAR researchers used a hybrid approach to combine the benefits of analytical and computational models.  They were able to include the signaling network, as well as loads attached to the circuit board.  The model was tested on a case comprised of a multilayer circuit board that included multiple ground plates, signal traces, and vias linking different layers, and capacitors decoupling different power supply circuits.  Both the new hybrid model and a numerical finite element model were used to calculate the reaction of the circuit board to input signals with frequencies up to 20 GHz.  The hybrid model needed just 48 seconds of central processing unit time and 0.71 MB of computer memory to run, versus 1,960 seconds and 74.2 MB for the finite element approach.

jeudi 29 mars 2012

Smarter Computing Systems Make Society Better

From ACM TechNews:
Smarter Computing Systems Make Society Better

The High Performance and Embedded Architecture and Compilation (HiPEAC) project is driving the development of computing systems designed to make everyday life easier, such as smart houses and grids. The HiPEAC network is supported by more than 1,000 European researchers working to identify and evaluate the problems that computing systems will face in the next 10 years. "To continue to be a source for new and innovative solutions, the computing systems community must dramatically improve the efficiency, complexity, and dependability of the future computing systems," says Ghent University professor Koen De Bosschere. The HiPEAC report highlights clear trends in the smart computing systems industry, including "an unseen data explosion in all domains (much faster than the explosion in computing power), [and] an increased demand for connectivity and for dependable and reliable systems across all fields." HiPEAC researchers have identified seven research objectives related to the design and exploitation of specialized heterogeneous computing systems. In the longer term, new devices and new computing paradigms, including bio-inspired systems, stochastic computing, and swarm computing, will be important, according to HiPEAC.

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Motorola Xoom

dimanche 25 mars 2012

How to Engineer Intelligence

From ACM TechNews:
How to Engineer Intelligence
University of Cambridge

University College London academic David Barber says the biological inspiration for computing can help humans interact with machines. Barber says the challenge is getting computers to process information in ways that would enable more natural interaction with humans. "There are already research programs that attempt to gauge the emotion in someone's voice or face but I'm more interested in a machine that could recognize the emotional significance of an event for a human," he says. Although these types of machines might never look like the robots seen in movies, Barber says the challenge is to build machines that are able to understand what people say in the pure semantic sense as well as in an emotional sense. Such a machine would need to grasp what it really means to be human, so a fundamental challenge would be to create a large database of information about humans and the human world. He says the initial step to reverse-engineer intelligence might be to understand the theoretical aspects of information processing in the brain, which could enable researchers to study how an artificial brain would be able to process or store information in the same way.

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samedi 24 mars 2012

Education Woes Linked to National Security

From ACM TechNews:
Education Woes Linked to National Security
Associated Press
(03/20/12) Kimberly Hefling

A report furnished by a U.S. task force warned that unless the American educational system improves, national security and economic prosperity will be threatened. The task force, organized by the Council on Foreign Relations, says the State Department and the U.S. intelligence community are facing severe shortages in foreign language speakers, while disciplines such as science, defense, and aerospace are especially vulnerable because a shortfall of skilled workers is expected to get worse with the imminent retirement of baby boomers. Leading the task force are former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former New York City School System chancellor Joel Klein, who say they are heartened by educational reform efforts such as the adoption of common core standards for reading and math in most states. Still, they say the rate at which U.S. schools must improve needs to accelerate. The task force's recommendations include adopting and expanding the common core initiative to include skill sets vital to national security such as science, technology, and foreign languages, as well as a restructuring to provide students with more options for where they can attend school, so many students are not stuck in underperforming institutions.

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vendredi 23 mars 2012

U.S. Accelerating Cyberweapon Research

Washington Post (03/18/12) Ellen Nakashima

Former and current U.S. officials say the Pentagon is ramping up projects to develop next-generation cyberweapons that can disrupt enemy military networks even when they have no Internet connection.  "To affect a system, you have to have access to it, and we have not perfected the capability of reaching out and accessing a system at will that is not connected to the Internet," says former Information Operations Institute director Joel Harding.  In 2011, former Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III and former Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman Gen. James Cartwright allocated $500 million over five years to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's budget to accelerate cyberweapons and defensive technology development.  DARPA also launched new cyber development projects that include a fast-track program.  "We need cyber options that can be executed at the speed, scale, and pace" of other military weapons, says DARPA's Kaigham J. �Gabriel.  Meanwhile, Pentagon officials are devising an approach to fast acquisition of cyberweapons that can keep up with technology and threats.  U.S. officials note that current cyberweaponry can potentially disable elements of a weapon system without destroying it.

mercredi 21 mars 2012

A Camera That Peers Around Corners

From ACM TechNews:
A Camera That Peers Around Corners
MIT News
(03/21/12) Larry Hardesty

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed a system that can produce recognizable three-dimensional (3D) images of objects located around corners and outside of the camera's line of sight. The researchers say the technology could lead to imaging systems that enable emergency responders to evaluate dangerous environments or vehicle navigation systems that can handle blind turns. The system works similarly to a periscope, but instead of using angled mirrors to redirect light, it uses walls, doors, and floors. The system utilizes a femtosecond laser, which emits extremely short bursts of light that enables the system to gauge how far the light bursts have traveled by measuring the time it takes them to return to the detector. In a recent experiment, Andreas Velten at the Morgridge Institute for Research used the technology to fire femtosecond bursts of laser light at an opaque screen, which reflected the light onto objects suspended in front of another opaque panel standing in for the back wall of a room. The data collected by the sensors were processed by algorithms that produced recognizable 3D images. The researchers say the problem of looking around a corner is similar to using multiple antennas to determine the direction of incoming radio signals.

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Samsung Galaxy S3 May Get Wireless Charging Technology

Iphone killer?

dimanche 18 mars 2012

Futurist: We'll Someday Accept Computers as Human

CNN (03/12/12) Brandon Griggs

Inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil told a capacity crowd at the recent South By Southwest Interactive festival that computer technology is really part of who we are, and humans and technology will eventually merge.  "We are a human-machine civilization," Kurzweil said.  "If we can convince people that computers have complexity of thought and nuance ... we'll come to accept them as human."  When asked by interviewer Lev Grossman whether machines with artificial intelligence would try to dominate humans, Kurzweil said he was more concerned about what humans will do to themselves.  The 64-year-old author of "The Singularity Is Near" said nanotechnology that is 1,000 times more powerful than human blood cells could be injected into the bloodstream to give people superhuman endurance.  Kurzweil also was asked about Apple's Siri, and he said it would only get better.  Kurzweil noted that people talking to computers in natural language is an amazing threshold.  He also predicted that Moore's Law will come to an end by 2020, and that within the decade search engines will no longer wait to be asked but will listen to humans in the background and provide results.

lundi 12 mars 2012

New DARPA Challenge Wants Unique Algorithms for Space Applications

Network World (03/06/12) Michael Cooney

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will launch the Zero Robotics Autonomous Space Capture Challenge on March 28, a contest that asks participants to develop unique algorithms to control small satellites on-board the International Space Station (ISS).  The algorithm must enable a satellite to capture a space object that is tumbling, spinning, or moving in the opposite direction.  Participants can collaborate via the Zero Robotics Web site to create algorithms that will be programmed into Synchronized Position, Hold, Engage, and Reorient Experimental Satellites (SPHERES).  For the challenge, an object, simulating a payload on-orbit delivery system, will be set in motion inside the ISS under varying conditions.  The algorithm will need to direct the satellite to approach the moving object and orient itself to contact with the object via Velcro on the SPHERES satellites.  In addition, DARPA's Phoenix program aims to develop technologies that could help a new spacecraft harvest and reuse valuable components from nonworking satellites in geosynchronous orbit.  "If a programming team can solve this challenge of autonomous space object capture, it could not only benefit the Phoenix program directly but potentially any space-servicing system in the future," says DARPA's Dave Barnhart.

vendredi 9 mars 2012

Tiny Linux Computer Punches Above Its Weight

Network World (03/06/12) Jon Gold

The $25 Raspberry Pi computer could have an impact far beyond the educational sector, with early production runs showing significant demand for the technology.  The credit card-sized Raspberry Pi is a fully functional Linux computer, complete with Ethernet and USB ports and HDMI output.  To use it, people need to plug in a keyboard and attach the device to a TV.  The device was created by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, which wants to improve computer science education by making an affordable, flexible platform available to budding programmers.  The group believes that people who are applying to university computer science programs today are not as skilled as applicants years ago.  One reason is because they do not have access to highly programmable devices that the previous generation used to learn about computing.  Aside from educational applications, the open source technology could catch on with activists around the world.  For example, a developer of an encrypted communication app designed to circumvent online censorship says he can use Raspberry Pi as a tiny, inexpensive server for activists in countries that suppress freedom of speech.

Apple Adds Sharper Screen and Speed to New iPad

New York Times (03/07/12) Nick Wingfield

Apple unveiled a new version of the iPad that features a high-definition screen, a faster wireless connection, and several other refinements.  However, the iPad design itself went largely unchanged.  "In many ways, the iPad is reinventing portable computing and outstripping the wildest predictions," says Apple CEO Timothy D. Cook.  The most noticeable change to the new iPad is the screen, which Apple says provides better resolution than high-definition TVs and can display text and images that appear as sharp as they would on a printed page.  The new iPad also will operate on the fourth-generation cell phone network technology known as LTE.  Although the new iPad is somewhat heavier and thicker than the iPad2, its subtle hardware design changes reflect the fact that most of Apple's innovations happen in software, says analyst Charles Wolf.  Meanwhile, PC industry critics say the iPad is not well suited for creating content.  However, Apple sought to undermine that argument with several new applications, such as a new version of iPhoto, which edits digital photos, and a new version of GarageBand, which enables up to four people play together in a virtual band through wirelessly connected iPads.

mardi 6 mars 2012

Stroustrup Reveals What's New in C++ 11

InfoWorld (02/24/12) Paul Krill

Texas A&M University professor Bjarne Stroustrup recently spoke with InfoWorld's Paul Krill about the past, present, and future of C++, which was recently upgraded via the C++ 11 release. "C++11 became an international standard late last year, and the C++ compiler purveyors are now busy implementing it," Stroustrup notes.  "Many features and the entire new standard library are already shipping."  He says C++ 11 will serve as standard and type-safe support for thread-level and lock-free concurrency, which is an improvement on the various non-standard concurrency libraries that have been available for C++ for decades.  In the future, Stroustrup says C++ will have improved support for lightweight concurrency, more libraries, and several new minor features.  He says C++ is more flexible and tends to perform slightly better than Java, C#, and other dynamic scripting languages.  C++ also has significant strengths compared to virtual machine-based languages when it comes to building infrastructure, according to Stroustrup.  "C++ can be competitive even where performance isn't a critical issue, but there the choice will be made more on the availability of libraries and developers than on the languages themselves," he says.

vendredi 2 mars 2012

HTML5 Still Taking Shape

SD Times (02/27/12) David Rubinstein

An unusual alignment of technology giants has embraced HTML5 as a cross-browser, cross-device development and delivery platform.  "Each [company] has wanted to build and own the platform, but with the explosion of devices on the market, now they want to own the tooling services," says Telerik's Todd Anglin.  However, experts say it is still too soon to declare HTML5 the Web application winner.  Just 8 percent of the top 100,000 Web sites use HTML5, and just 14 percent of the top 10,000 sites have anything from HTML5, according to
.  Although every piece is not yet in place, HTML5 continues to grow and build momentum as a platform, says the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C's) Ian Jacobs.  Content protection, the need for streaming, and audio implementation for gaming are specific areas where HTML5 is not fully built out, Jacobs notes.  "The things we're working on are what features do we need for trustworthy communication," he says.  "We're working on tracking protection behind the scenes, linked data, privacy, and security issues."  W3C developers also are working on specifications for touch, Web storage, and an application programming interface that enables Web pages to use the WebSocket protocol for two-way communications.