If you buy a cheapie laptop, you're going to get onboard graphics--historically underpowered, since they exist on the same die as the CPU, and thus historically crappy. To play serious games, or do any real video editing, you'd need to upgrade to a discrete graphics card.
The current and next generation of tablets are getting into a core war: three, four, even five cores are going to be popping up in your Android (and possibly iOS and Windows) tablets. But what's the point of this numbers battle?
Brain-like computers could soon become a lot more common. Earlier this year, we heard about a project involving DARPA and IBM to create a functioning neurosynaptic chip, which works somewhat like a brain in the way it learns and remembers. Now MIT engineers have designed a chip that mimics the function of a synapse in the brain, in its ability to model specific communications among neurons.
IBM researchers have built the first integrated circuit based on graphene, a breakthrough the company says could herald a future based on graphene wafers instead of silicon. The circuit, a 10 gigahertz frequency mixer, could give wireless devices greater range. At higher frequencies, the technology could someday allow law enforcement and medical personnel to see inside objects or people without the harmful effects of X-rays, according to IBM.
In a move that could remake the microchip industry, Intel announced Wednesday it will start mass-producing the first three-dimensional silicon transistors. The 3-D transistor design, which Intel says will improve efficiency by more than one-third, will be integrated into a 22-nanometer node in an Intel chip called Ivy Bridge.
If you’re looking to gin up a project that can interface with the world--say, a device that tells the weather using sensors--you’re probably going to need a microcontroller, a simple computer system on a circuit board that consists of a processor, memory and an input/output system. They are the centerpiece of many of my past PopSci projects, such as a desk clock that keeps superaccurate time by pulling in a signal broadcast from an atomic clock.
A new coating material for food packaging could keep sodas fizzy, chips crispy and military rations more edible, scientists say. It’s made of a thin film of nanoscale bits of clay, the same kind used to make bricks, mixed with polymers. When viewed under an electron microscope, the film looks like bricks and mortar, according to its creator.
A new native Chinese supercomputer set to debut this summer might be the most efficient ever built. It won’t be the fastest, but it sips power to perform terascale calculations, and it’s all built in China.
New tiny force sensors made out of paper cost just four cents apiece, possibly enabling cheap microelectromechanical devices in anything from consumer electronics to medicine.
Harvard professor George Whitesides developed the paper accelerometers using chromatography paper, tiny sliver and carbon contact pads, and vinyl stencils. The process is so cheap and easy that the sensors could be disposable.