SanDisk builds tougher flash storage for Internet of Things devices

October 8th, 2015 | Edited by | hardware

Oct
08

The SanDisk Industrial XT iNAND embedded flash drive was introduced on Oct. 5, 2015.The SanDisk Industrial components are designed to work harder, last longer and withstand harsh conditions.

sandisk-industrial-inand

Consumers rely on flash memory cards in phones, tablets and cameras every day. But put those same cards in security cams, cellular base stations or the electrical grid and you’ll have a problem.
Industrial devices need flash that can work harder and withstand more extreme temperatures than consumer gear, and they’ll be operating out in the field years after a typical phone or camera card has been replaced. So SanDisk is introducing a line of components built for the Internet of Things.
IoT is expected to put thousands of sensors, meters, robots and machines into the field with growing needs to process and store data.
The SanDisk Industrial line includes cards for the familiar SD, microSD and eMMC (embedded MultiMediaCard) standards, but built to tougher specifications.
For example, the SanDisk Industrial XT SD Cards and XT iNAND embedded flash drives announced Monday are rated to work in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius (-40 Fahrenheit), compared with -25 Celsius for a typical consumer SD card.
The industrial cards can also write more data before they have to be replaced: as much as 128TB, far more than is typical for a consumer-grade part, said Martin Booth, director of SanDisk Industrial and SanDisk Automotive. This kind of endurance is what’s needed in IoT devices like remote video cameras that will capture video around the clock for as long as five years, he said. Otherwise they would have to be replaced more frequently, a costly proposition if the owner needs to send out a truck and a technician.
SanDisk achieved the gains by holding back on things that make flash for a phone or camera attractive to consumers, like maximum write speeds and densely packed memory cells that drive down cost per bit by half every year or two, Booth said. The heavy-duty flash is made with an older 19-nanometer manufacturing process, not the 15nm process that’s the cutting edge today at SanDisk.
Another feature, Enhanced Power Immunity, will help prevent data loss in case of power failure. It uses special firmware for recovering data if the power is cut off, something ordinary flash cards may not be able to do if, for example, the user pulls a card out of a PC while it’s still transferring data.
The new parts range in size from 4GB or 8GB up to 64GB and will cost more than comparable consumer-grade products, but less than twice as much, Booth said. They are available now and will only be sold to equipment manufacturers.

Source: www.pcworld.com

Cortana coming to the Xbox One in 2016

October 6th, 2015 | Edited by | hardware

Oct
06

Microsoft’s digital assistant arrives on the Xbox One in 2016, but Xbox One Experience Preview testers will get to try it later this year.

xbox-one

On Friday evening, Microsoft’s Larry Hryb—better known as Major Nelson—took to his blog to make a couple announcements. First, a new update to the Xbox Beta app for Windows 10 is on its way. We’ll get to that in a moment, but the big news is that Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant technology, will make its way to the Xbox in 2016.
According to Major Nelson, beta testers will get a chance to try Cortana on their Xbox “later this year” when Microsoft releases it through the Xbox One experience preview program. This will allow the company to “ ensure that the experience is tuned for gamers” ahead of its public launch next year. Major Nelson didn’t provide any further details as to when in 2016 you can expect the official version of Cortana for Xbox, however.
The story behind the story: Cortana debuted in Windows Phone 8.1, and Microsoft also built it into Windows 10, so adding it to the Xbox One seems to be the most logical next step. We still don’t know what Cortana for Xbox will be able to do, but it will likely build off of the Xbox One’s existing support for spoken commands via the Kinect controller.

Xbox updates coming for Windows 10

In the meantime, while you’re waiting for Cortana for Xbox One, you may as well check out the latest Xbox Beta app for Windows 10. This new update includes support for a new group text chat feature, the ability to reply directly to notifications, and some new social features, such as an easier way to share in-game achievements and game clips, among other things. The new Xbox Beta app for Windows 10 is available for download now; a general public release date for these features has yet to be announced.

Source: www.pcworld.com

Installing Linux on a Chromebook: What you need to know

September 26th, 2015 | Edited by | software

Sep
26

Installing Linux on a Chromebook isn’t difficult–if you know what you’re doing.

Chromebooks are more powerful than you realize already, but zooming around the web in Google’s browser is just the beginning of what Chromebooks are capable of.
Chrome OS is built on top of the Linux kernel, and you can install a full Linux environment alongside Chrome OS on your Chromebook. This gives you access to Steam and over a thousand PC games, Minecraft, Skype, and everything else that runs on desktop Linux.

acer-chromebook

ARM vs Intel

If you do plan on getting a Chromebook and using Linux on it, you should consider whether it has an ARM chip or an Intel chip.
ARM-based Chromebooks can use a full Linux environment too, but they’re cut off from a whole ecosystem of closed-source software designed for traditional x86-based PC chips—including Steam and all its games. If you’re planning on running desktop Linux, get an Intel-based Chromebook. You could even use Steam’s in-home streaming to stream games running on a gaming PC to a Chromebook. But this isn’t possible an on ARM Chromebook, as Steam only runs on Intel CPUs.

Developer mode

Installing Linux isn’t officially supported by Google. It requires putting your Chromebook into “developer mode,” which gives you full write access to the entire operating system. Outside of developer mode, these files are normally protected to preserve the operating system’s security from attack. So you’ll have to enter developer mode before you can start installing Linux—check the official wiki for instructions, which are device-specific.
This will boot you into recovery mode, where you can “turn off OS verification.” After that, you’ll be able to have full access to the entire operating system—though that freedom entails some minor headaches. You’ll have to press Ctrl+D or wait 30 seconds every time you boot. Your Chromebook will beep at you and bug you, providing a scary warning that the normal verification process has been disabled. This ensures it’s always obvious when a Chromebook is in developer mode.

Installing Linux

There are several ways to install Linux. For example, you could install it to an SD card and boot from there.
But the best way to install Linux is to install it alongside Chrome OS on your hard drive, despite the limited storage capabilities in most Chromebooks. This lets you run both Chrome OS and a traditional Linux desktop or terminal at the same time, switching between them with a quick keystroke. You can also bring that Linux desktop straight onto your Chrome OS desktop. This also means that Linux environment can use all the same hardware drivers provided with Chrome OS, ensuring good hardware support.
I recommend using Crouton for this. It will help you install Ubuntu or Debian alongside Chrome OS. While this isn’t officially supported by Google, it is developed by a Google employee in his spare time. After you enable developer mode, you’ll be able to open the integrated Chrome OS shell, download the installation script, and run it. It’ll install and set up the Linux environment. The Crouton webpage provides instructions on installing it.

Using your Linux environment

With Linux installed via Crouton, you can run a certain command to launch the Linux session and then switch back and forth between the Linux environment and Chrome OS desktop with Ctrl+Alt+Shift-Back and Ctrl+Alt+Shift-Forward. Again, check Crouton’s webpage for more instructions.
But rather than constantly switching back and forth, you’ll probably want to install the Crouton integration extension from the Chrome Web Store. This will give you a full Linux desktop in a window on your Chrome OS desktop so you can see everything at once without having to switch back and forth.

If you decide you’re done with Linux, you can simply disable developer mode and go back to the normal Chrome OS system state. You’ll be prompted to do this every time you boot your Chromebook. Doing this will erase everything on your Chromebook and set the operating system back to its clean, default state.

Source: www.pcworld.com

Broadwell-C is not dead, Intel clarifies

September 24th, 2015 | Edited by | hardware

Sep
24

Intel corrects a report about the demise of its socketed Broadwell CPU, but how long it’ll live remains anyone’s guess.

Intel’s Broadwell-C desktop processor is alive and well—for now, at least.

broadwell

A report on Thursday by ITWorld claimed that Intel was discontinuing the socketed Broadwell CPU after just one month on the market. But Intel quickly corrected that story,telling AnandTech that it will continue to manufacture and sell Broadwell-C. (Disclosure: Both PCWorld and ITWorld are owned by International Data Group.)
Broadwell-C is a unique chip in Intel’s lineup for a couple of reasons: First, it’s the only Broadwell chip for desktop tower PCs, and it arrived much later than usual in Intel’s product cycle. (Intel originally planned to skip socketed Broadwell entirely, a move the company now regrets.)
More importantly, Broadwell-C is Intel’s only socketed desktop chip with 128MB of embedded DRAM. This on-package memory allows for impressive gaming performance with just integrated graphics, and also provides a nice boost when paired with discrete graphics. In the past, Intel has reserved this configuration for laptops and mini-desktops where the CPU is soldered to the motherboard.
The reported demise of Broadwell-C was apparently just a mix-up, but made waves in enthusiast tech forums such as Slashdot and various subreddits. ITWorld has since corrected and amended its story, noting that it is in fact the next-generation Skylake-C that has been cancelled. Apparently Intel just doesn’t see enough market demand for that embedded DRAM setup. ITWorld also speculates that increased costs and lower yields could be to blame.
Why this matters: For many users, this may all be a moot point with the arrival ofSkylake CPUs, but it could also be an opportunity to pick up a decent last-generation CPU for less cash as long as Intel keeps making them. While opting for a cheaper processor and a low-end graphics card probably makes the most sense in traditional PC setups, Broadwell-C could be a compelling option if you want to perform entry-level gaming or other graphics-heavy tasks in a rig with an ultra-small form factor case where discrete graphics can’t fit well.

Source: www.pcworld.com.

Google Play Music, Gmail Android apps both land helpful updates

September 22nd, 2015 | Edited by | software

Sep
22

Play Music gets gapless playback for streaming over a Chromecast, while Gmail includes hints of rich text formatting and deeper calendar integration.

Both Google Play Music and Gmail got a couple of nice updates this week that will have you listening with ease to your tunes and soon crafting better formatted Gmail messages.

google-play-music

With Google Play Music, version 6.0.1995S now supports gapless playback when streaming over a Chromecast. The changelog also indicates no more stoppage of playback between songs and if your phone turns off or you leave while casting.
Your phone will now send the playlist information to the Chromecast, which knows to pull it down from Play Music, according to an APK teardown by Android Police.
With Gmail, version 5.6 is mostly under-the-hood changes, though there are hints of more to come. The code reveals rich text formatting may be in the future, so you’d be able to add bold, italics, strikethrough, colors, and other changes.
The other code strings indicate some type of interaction with Google Calendar. Google can already add events automatically into your Calendar with services like Google Now, but perhaps more collaborative or more connected capabilities are coming.
Why this matters: The playback updates are pretty nice, as it’s pretty annoying when someone takes their phone with them to grab more drinks and the music stops. Music streaming is quite the competitive landscape right now, so Google needs to throw all it can at Play Music to get people to tune in.

Source: www.pcworld.com

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