Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Fastest Desktop PC Ever

In the words of LT Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, "I feel the need....the need for speed!" Well, at least that's what Intel is feeling as it just announced that it will be putting its absurd 72-core Knight's Landing supercomputer chip into production. However, that isn't even the most exciting part. The most exciting part is that the Knight's Landing, which is Intel's fastest chip to date, will be going into desktop workstations that will contain enough computational power to make Doc Brown's overloaded speakers look like a kids karaoke machine.

PC World recently reported that the company is planning on shipping a "limited number of workstations" that will come equipped with the super-fast supercomputer chip in the first half of 2016. As a result PC makers will have the ability to adopt Intel's supercomputer silicon in desktop models on a greater scale, according to Intel's Charles Wuischpard. I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I can handle a chip like this being in something that is sitting in my room or my office. But then again the power is very alluring.

The main question that is going to be on everyone's mind is, of course, what kind of specs we can expect from the Knight's Landing chip. This chip differs from the ones currently in your desktop in the fact that this supercomputer processor puts all of its cores onto a single piece of silicon. Then, all of these processors are bundled up with 16GB of on-package MCDRAM memory into a PCI-E add-in card. This is very similar to the ridiculous Nvidia GPUs that are currently being installed on supercomputers around the world.

Once you have all of this packed together and installed inside your computer you are left with a piece of hardware that is capable of computing single-precision calculations at a rate of 8 teraflops, or double-precision calculations at over 3 teraflops. PC World also noted that this chip will be used by the United States Department of Energy inside of its 9,300-core Cori supercomputer and, in addition to that, Intel has also claimed that 50 different manufacturers will ship systems that use this chip in time.

In the meantime the desktop workstations, which are essentially jacked up versions of the CAD, graphics and film editing computers that are used in offices where money is as abundant as air, will be made available to researchers who are interested in using a supercomputer but are otherwise unable to gain access to one. The idea is that these individuals will be able to develop and test code on the workstation before shipping it out, error-free, to a supercomputer somewhere in the future. I highly doubt that you will be getting something like this in your iMac anytime soon, though Intel is, at the very least, attempting to put this chip into the hands of people that would otherwise have no access to such a device.

Content originally published here
Sharing this story on social media? Use these hashtags! #Intel #KnightsLanding #Supercomputer

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Microsoft Reveals End-Of-Sales Date For Windows 7 And Windows 8.1 Devices

By now most Windows users have upgraded to Windows 10. However, some people are still using Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 while others are looking to buy a new laptop, desktop or tablet with Windows 8.1 or 7 pre-installed. If you are one of these people then you have less than a year to do so as Microsoft has just announced that it will be discontinuing both Windows 8.1 and Windows 7.

According to the Microsoft Windows Lifecycle Fact Sheet, October 31st, 2016 is marked as the "end of sales for PCs with Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 pre-installed. After October 31st, 2016 the only option for customers will be to purchase new computers with Windows 10 installed. The only exception to this will be businesses with license agreements that entitle them to choose which version of Windows they wish to have pre-installed.

This deadline will be putting a lot of pressure on consumers who have become quite attached to Windows 7 and may be very apprehensive to upgrading to Windows 10 if they buy a new computer. However, this is a logical and necessary step for Microsoft in its goal of having more than 1 billion Windows 10 devices powered up. This also goes along with the company's message that Windows 10 is capable of bringing together desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones with apps that can run across every platform.

What Windows 7 users don't really realize is that this is actually really good for them. Microsoft usually sets the end-of-date for each version of Windows two years after the release of a new operating system. This means that the cutoff date for Windows 7 should have been October of 2014, which was two years after the launch of Windows 8. However, the severe lack of consumer demand for Windows 8 insisted that Microsoft keep the operating system around a while longer. Windows 8, if you remember, was Microsoft's attempt at making a touch-friendly operating system, though it transitioned horribly onto non-touch devices and was highly panned by users.

If you want to continue using Windows 7 on your existing PC or laptop then you don't have to worry. Microsoft has announced that extended technical support will be available until January 14, 2020, meaning that you will be able to continue receiving patches, bug fixes, and other updates. This support is also offered to Windows 8.1 users, though it is extended to January 23rd, 2023.

Despite these deadlines, Microsoft is still heavily pushing Windows 10 to users. The new operating system, which came to users at the end of July of this year, is available as a free upgrade to users of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 for the first year of its existence. Microsoft keeps sneaking in pop-ups on the regular to remind users that Windows 10 is available. Microsoft also classified Windows 10 as an "optional update" and, as early as next year, expects to change that to a "recommended update" according to Windows and Devices Group Executive Vice President terry Myerson.

I have been using Windows 10 since it launched and it's really good. It takes the best things from Windows 7 and puts them in a modern format with new features and apps that really do bring all of your devices together. In addition to that, non-touchscreen users don't feel like they've been given second billing to touchscreen users, something that Windows 8 seemed to do. If you are looking for a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 computer or laptop, you better move quick because this time next year that won't be an option.

Content originally published here
Sharing this story on Social Media? Use these hashtags! #Microsoft #Windows10

Monday, November 2, 2015

Western Digital Is Buying SanDisk For $19 Billion

Western Digital recently announced that it is buying up data storage vendor SanDisk for $19 billion in cash and stocks. This merger is coming at a time when the IT industry is evolving at breakneck speeds and companies are looking for new ways to get in on trends like wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and cloud computing. As a result, there has been a wave of mergers and acquisitions along with an increase of investment activity in the data storage market.

Western Digital's acquisition of SanDisk comes right after the market's biggest acquisition ever, when Dell purchased EMC for $67 billion. That deal hit news outlets last week and, in addition, storage semiconductor maker PMC-Sierra has also received a number of bids to take it over while Unisplendor, who is owned by China's Tsinghua, agreed to buy 15% of Western Digital for $3.78 billion. Western Digital focuses mainly on hard disk drives (HDD) though it is facing an evolution in IT that is pushing companies towards addressing a changing set of requirements for both client and enterprise end customers.

Enterprises no longer have to rely entirely on tape drives for backups and hard drives for primary data. However, the do have to deal with higher speed requirements that come with applications like online transaction processing and big data analytics. Solid-state drives (SSD) are a vital piece of multi-faceted storage infrastructures whereas flash memory devices simply sit under DRAM as top-tier storage. Western Digital and SanDisk are both based in California and they are both heavily involved in different segments of the consumer data storage market. Western Digital offers desktop NAS drives while SanDisk operates as a leader in flash-based thumb drives and memory expansion cards.

Earlier in the year, SanDisk, which is also known for its SSDs for desktops and laptops, announced its very first lineup of pocket-sized, high-capacity external drives. This buyout of SanDisk gives Western Digital an instant position in the global, non-volatile NAND flash memory market, according to Research Vice President of IDC Jeff Janukowicz. "Additionally, the NAND industry is at an infection point as it transitions from planar to 3D technology and access to that technology was a key piece of the deal," Janukowicz stated. "Now, WD is positioned to address a much larger footprint in the storage industry."

Western Digital noted during its announcement of the deal that the combination will "enable it to vertically integrate into NAND, securing long-term access to solid state technology at lower cost." SanDisk as 27 years of experience in the NAND flash memory industry and recently announced a deal with Toshiba to manufacture the world's densest 3D NAND, which is a 48-layer, 32GB chip that offers twice the capacity of the next densest memory. Also during the announcement Western Digital also noted the 15-year partnership between SanDisk and Toshiba and stated that it expects that relationship to be "ongoing". According to the company, "The joint venture provides stable NAND supply at scale through a time-tested business model and extends across NVM technologies such as 3D NAND."

According to Gregory Wong, an Analyst with Forward Insights, this deal between Western Digital and SanDisk will allow WD to enter the consumer SSD and enterprise SATA SSD market. "WD wants SanDisk for the access to the flash. Their PC HDD business is declining due to the weak PC market but also because SSDs are encroaching that space," Wong added. "Without access to NAND flash at cost, it would've increasingly been difficult to compete with NAND players in the enterprise space."

Content originally published here
Sharing this story on Social Media? Use these hashtags! #WesternDigital #SanDisk #HDD #SDD