Posted by Roz | Sunday, December 14, 2008

Spy Pen CameraSpyForge, a leading online company in spy gadgets launches a phenomenal 4GB Spy Pen Camera with high video and audio quality.

Are you on a secret mission to trap someone doing a wrong deed? Then this is one spy camera that is hidden into a pen camcorder with audio. The pen perfectly fits in your pocket leaving no clue to the target person of what it is. It has a built in flash 4 GB of memory you'll get almost 10 hours of recording time. The colour video is encoded on the fly through a buffer system to MPEG 4 and if the battery runs low during a recording session the pen will ensure it writes the video from the buffer to flash before shutting down. All video is captured with audio making this the perfect tool for recording confessions, secret rendezvous or interviews. The pen itself is an attractive writing instrument with a gloss black finish on the main body, rubber finger grip and chrome detailing.

4GB with 5/10hrs recording Spy Pen Camera (Video Courtesy YouTube)

* Improved Colour CMOS sensor
- White Balance Adjust
- Focus Range: 150mm~Infinity Internal Flash Memory: 4 GB
* Capture Specifications
- Format: MPEG4 -AVI
- Frame Rate: 15fps
- Capture Resolution: 352x288
- Audio Format: 128kbps PCM Audio
* Power Source: USB Charging -Internal Battery
* Built In Microphone: Max Audio Range 10 Meters
* Dimension: 148mm (L) x 16mm (Diameter)

Other Features
* Rubber Finger Grip
* Universal Replaceable Ink Cartridge
* Easy USB Charging/ Transfer

* Manual
* Driver / Software CD

website : http://www.spyforge.com

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From the online shopping site, Amazon.com, there are 20 top list of laptop and netbook that currently best seller.

From the list, manufacturers Acer and Apple Computer look very dominating. While the computer manufacturer Hewlett Packard (HP) with the Mini Note, get only 1 place in the 19th positions.

However, not only producers based in the United States become best seller, manufacturers in Taiwan, and the MSI ASUSTeK Computer also entered the list of 25 laptop and netbook best seller by Amazon version.

Here's the full list:

  1. Acer Aspire One - White (8.9-inch, Intel Atom N270 Processor, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive, XP Home)
  2. Apple MacBook Pro MB134LL/A (15.4-inch, 2.5 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 2 GB RAM, 250 GB Hard Drive, DVD/CD SuperDrive)
  3. Apple MacBook Pro MB133LL/A (15.4-inch, 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 2 GB RAM, 200 GB Hard Drive, DVD/CD SuperDrive)
  4. Apple MacBook - White (13.3-inch, 2.1 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 1 GB RAM, 120 GB Hard Drive)
  5. ASUS Eee PC 1000H (10-Inch, 1.6 GHz Intel Atom Processor, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive, XP Home)
  6. Acer Aspire One - Sapphire Blue (8.9-inch, 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 Processor, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive, XP Home)
  7. Acer Aspire One - Black (8.9-Inch, 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 Processor, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive, XP Home)
  8. ASUS Eee PC 1000HA (10-Inch, 1.6 GHz Intel ATOM N270 Processor, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive, XP Home)
  9. Apple MacBook MB466LL/A (13.3-Inch, 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 2 GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive)
  10. ASUS Eee PC 900 16G (8.9" Display, Intel Mobile CPU, 1 GB RAM, 16 GB Solid State Drive, Linux) Pearl White
  11. MSI Wind U100-279US - White (10-Inch, 1.6 GHz Intel Atom, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive, XP Home)
  12. Apple MacBook MB404LL/A - Black (13.3-inch, 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 2 GB RAM, 250 GB Hard Drive)
  13. Apple MacBook MB467LL/A (13.3-Inch, 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 2 GB RAM, 250 GB Hard Drive)
  14. ASUS Eee PC 1000H - Fine Ebony (10-Inch, 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 Processor, 1 GB RAM, 80 GB Hard Drive, XP Home)
  15. ASUS Eee PC 901 - Fine Ebony (8.9-Inch, 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 Processor, 1 GB RAM, 12 GB Solid State Drive, XP Home)
  16. Acer Aspire One - Blue (8.9-inch, 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 Processor, 1.0 GB RAM, 120 GB Hard Drive, XP Home)
  17. Apple MacBook MB403LL/A - White (13.3-inch, 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 2 GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive)
  18. ASUS Eee PC 2G Surf - Pure White (7-Inch Display, Intel Mobile Processor, 512 MB RAM, 2 GB Hard Drive, Linux Preloaded)
  19. HP Mini-Note PC (C7-M 1.2 GHz Processor, 1024 MB RAM, 120 GB Hard Drive, Vista Home)
  20. Apple MacBook Pro MB471LL/A (15.4-Inch, 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 4 GB RAM, 320 GB Hard Drive, Slot Loading SuperDrive)

    Sources :
    1. Amazon.com

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What is Solid-State Disk (SSD)?

Posted by Roz | Tuesday, December 02, 2008

SSDSSD modules are quickly becoming the talk of the town. This is a quick, moving market, where leadership is a very completive position. Performance, density and pricing is a daily moving target.

A solid-state drive (SSD) is a data storage device that uses solid-state memory to store persistent data. A SSD emulates a hard disk drive interface, thus easily replacing it in most applications. An SSD using SRAM or DRAM (instead of flash memory) is often called a RAM-drive.

The original usage of the term solid-state (from solid-state physics) refers to the use of semiconductor devices rather than electron tubes, but has in this context been adopted to distinguish solid-state electronics from electromechanical devices as well. With no moving parts, solid-state drives are inherently less fragile than hard disks and therefore also silent (unless a cooling fan is used); as there are no mechanical delays, they usually enjoy low access time and latency.

SSDs have begun to appear in laptops, although they are at present substantially more expensive per unit of capacity than hard drives.

An SSD is commonly composed of either DRAM volatile memory or NAND flash non-volatile memory.

Flash based
Most SSD manufacturers use non-volatile flash memory to create more rugged and compact devices for the consumer market. These flash memory-based SSDs, also known as flash drives, do not require batteries. They are often packaged in standard disk drive form factors (1.8-inch, 2.5-inch, and 3.5-inch). In addition, non-volatility allows flash SSDs to retain memory even during sudden power outages, ensuring data persistence. Up to the fall of 2008 flash SSDs were significantly slower than DRAM (and even traditional HDDs on big files), but still perform better than traditional hard drives (at least with regard to reads) because of negligible seek time (flash SSDs have no moving parts, and thus eliminate spin-up time, and greatly reduce seek time, latency, and other delays inherent in conventional electro-mechanical disks).

Micron/Intel SSD made faster flash drives by implementing data striping (similar to RAID0) and interleaving. This allowed creation of ultra-fast SSDs with 250 MB/s effective read/write - the maximum SATA interface can really manage.

DRAM based
SSDs based on volatile memory such as DRAM are characterized by ultra fast data access, generally less than 0.01 milliseconds, and are used primarily to accelerate applications that would otherwise be held back by the latency of Flash SDDs or traditional HDDs. DRAM-based SSDs usually incorporate internal battery and backup storage systems to ensure data persistence while no power is being supplied to the drive from external sources. If power is lost, the battery provides power while all data is copied from random access memory (RAM) to back-up storage, or to allow the data's transfer to another computer. When the power is restored, the data are copied back to RAM from the back-up storage, and the SSD resumes normal operation. (Similar to the hibernate function used in modern operating systems.)

These types of SSD are usually fitted with the same type of DRAM modules used in regular PC's and servers, allowing them to be swapped out and replaced with larger modules.

A secondary computer with a fast network connection can be used as a RAM-based SSD.

DRAM based solid-state drives are especially useful on computers that already have the maximum amount of supported RAM. For example, some computer systems built on the x86-32 architecture can effectively be extended beyond the 4 GB limit by putting the paging file or swap file on an SSD. Owing to the bandwidth bottleneck of the bus they connect to, DRAM SSDs cannot read and write data as fast as main RAM can, but they are far faster than any mechanical hard drive. Placing the swap/scratch files on a RAM SSD, as opposed to a traditional hard drive, therefore can increase performance significantly.

  • Advantages
  1. Faster start-up, as no spin-up is required (RAM & Flash).
  2. Typically, fast random access for reading, as there is no read/write head to move (RAM & Flash).
  3. Extremely low read latency times, as SSD seek-times are orders of magnitude lower than the best current hard disk drives. (RAM) In applications where hard disk seeks are the limiting factor, this results in faster boot and application launch times.
  4. Extremely fast write (RAM, nearly the same for best modern flash).
  5. No noise: a lack of moving parts makes SSDs completely silent, unless, as in the case of some high-end and high-capacity models, they have cooling fans attached (RAM & Flash).
  6. High mechanical reliability, as the lack of moving parts almost eliminates the risk of mechanical failure (RAM & Flash).
  7. Ability to endure extreme shock, high altitude, vibration and extremes of temperature: once again because there are no moving parts. This makes SSDs useful for laptops, mobile computers, and devices that operate in extreme conditions (Flash).
  8. Relatively deterministic read performance: unlike hard disk drives, performance of SSDs is almost constant and deterministic across the entire storage. This is because the seek time is almost constant and does not depend on the physical location of the data, and so, file fragmentation has almost no impact on read performance.
  9. For low-capacity SSDs, lower weight and size: although size and weight per unit storage are still better for traditional hard drives, and microdrives allow up to 20 GB storage in a CompactFlash 42.8×36.4×5 mm (1.7×1.4×.2 in) form-factor. Up to 256 GB, SSDs are currently lighter than hard drives of the same capacity.
  10. When failures occur, they tend to occur either 'on write', or 'on erase', rather than 'on read'. With traditional HDDs, failure tends to occur 'on read'. If the drive detects failure on write, data can be written to a new cell without data loss occuring. If a drive fails on read, then data is usually lost permanently.
  • Disadvantages
  1. Cost – as of mid-2008, SSD prices are still considerably higher per gigabyte than are comparable conventional hard drives: consumer grade drives are typically US$2.00 to US$3.45 per GB for flash drives and over US$80.00 per GB for RAM-based compared to about US$0.38 per gigabyte for hard drives.
  2. Capacity – currently far lower than that of conventional hard drives (Flash SSD capacity is predicted to increase rapidly, with experimental drives of 1 TB, hard drive capacity also continues to expand, and hard drives are likely to maintain their capacity edge for some time.)
  3. DRAM based SSDs have a higher vulnerability to abrupt power loss.
  4. Limited write (erase) cycles – flash-memory cells will often wear out after 1,000 to 10,000 write cycles for MLC, and up to 100,000 write cycles for SLC, while high endurance cells may have an endurance of 1–5 million write cycles (many log files, file allocation tables, and other commonly used parts of the file system exceed this over the lifetime of a computer). Special file systems or firmware designs can mitigate this problem by spreading writes over the entire device (so-called wear levelling), rather than rewriting files in place. In 2008 wear levelling was just beginning to be incorporated into consumer level devices.
  5. Slower write speeds – as erase blocks on flash-based SSDs generally are quite large (e.g. 0.5 - 1 megabyte), they are far slower than conventional disks for random writes and therefore vulnerable to write fragmentation, and in some cases for sequential writes. SSDs based on DRAM do not suffer from this problem.
  6. Lower storage density – hard disks can store more data per unit volume than DRAM or flash SSDs, except for very low capacity/small devices.
  7. Higher power consumption – at idle or under low workloads laptop battery runtimes decrease when using an SSD over a 7200 RPM 2.5" laptop hard drive, flash drives also take more power per gigabyte.
  8. Larger range of operating temperatures. Typical hard drives have an operating range of 5-55 degrees C. Most flash drives can operate at 70 degrees, and some industrial grade drives can operate over an even wider temperature range.
  9. RAM based SSD require more power than hard disks, when operating; and they still use power when the computer is turned off, while hard disks do not.

Cost and capacity

SSDUntil recently, solid-state drives were too costly for mobile computing. As flash manufacturers transition from NOR flash to single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash and most recently to multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash to maximize silicon die usage and reduce associated costs, "solid-state disks" are now being more accurately renamed "solid-state drives" – they have no disks but function as drives – for mobile computing in the enterprise and consumer electronics space. This technological trend is accompanied by an annual 50% decline in raw flash material costs, while capacities continue to double at the same rate. As a result, flash-based solid-state drives are becoming increasingly popular in markets such as notebook PCs and sub-notebooks for enterprises, Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPC), and Tablet PCs for the healthcare and consumer electronics sectors. Major PC companies have now started to offer such technology.

A use for flash drives is to run lightweight operating systems designed specifically for turning general-purpose PCs into network appliances comparable to more expensive routers and firewalls. In this situation, a write protected flash drive containing the whole operating system is used to boot the system. A similar system could boot from CD, floppy disk or a traditional hard drive but flash memory is a good choice because of very low power consumption and failure rate.

Hybrid drive
A hybrid disk uses a small SSD as a buffer for a larger drive. DRAM-based SSDs may also work as a buffer cache mechanism. When data are written to memory, the corresponding block in memory is marked as dirty, and all dirty blocks can be flushed to the actual hard drive based on the following criteria:
  1. Time (e.g., every 10 seconds, flush all dirty data);
  2. Threshold (when the ratio of dirty data to SSD size exceeds some predetermined value, flush the dirty data).
  3. Loss of power/computer shutdown.

SSDs and Microsoft Windows
Windows is optimized for hard disk rather than flash based storage. Part of the slowdown may be because hard disks handle data in smaller chunks (e.g. 0.5KB), whereas flash drives use larger page sizes (e.g. 4KB). The factors that reduce the speed include the fact that Windows uses larger files, as well as the fact that Windows' background services constantly access the disk.

Sources :
  1. Wikipedia:Solid-state drive.
  2. Various Sources.

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Personal Supercomputer ?

Posted by Roz | Saturday, November 29, 2008

What is a Supercomputer?

A supercomputer is a computer that is among the largest, fastest or most powerful of the computers available. Late 2007 the fastest supercomputers operate on the order of more than 200 teraflops (that's computer lingo for trillions of operations per second!). And supercomputers are being improved all the time! Soon they will operate on the petaflop-scale (that's one quadrillion operations per second!).

This is a modern supercomputer. It is actually a cluster of numerous computers that are linked together to make them far more powerful. Courtesy of UCAR Digital Image Library.

NVIDIA® Tesla™ Personal Supercomputer

Desktop supercomputers became a reality today as Nvidia announced the release of its new GPU-based Tesla personal supercomputer.

The Tesla personal supercomputer is claimed to offer up to 250 times the performance of a standard PC or workstation, yet remains small enough to sit on an office desk and plug into a standard power strip. The Tesla personal supercomputer is made possible in part to Nvidia’s CUDA parallel computing architecture, where GPUs and CPUs work in tandem to greatly enhance the performance of complex, data-intensive computations.

At the heart of the new Tesla personal supercomputer are three or four Nvidia Tesla C1060 computing processors, which appear similar to a high-performance Nvidia graphics card, but without any video output ports. Each Tesla C1060 has 240 streaming processor cores running at 1.296 GHz, 4 GB of 800 MHz 512-bit GDDR3 memory and a PCI Express x16 system interface. While typically using only 160-watts of power, each card is capable of 933 GFlops of single precision floating point performance or 78 GFlops of double precision floating point performance.

While the Tesla C1060 computing processors are powerful, they have a massively-parallel architecture that may have trouble with serial computing modes. The Tesla personal supercomputer also features a powerful Intel or AMD quad-core processor, which is another important component of the system, especially when dealing with these serial computing modes. The Tesla personal supercomputer includes at least 4 GB of system memory per included Tesla C1060 card and at least a 1200- to 1350-watt power supply. System noise is rated at less than 45 dbA and the supported operating systems include Windows XP, Red Hat and SUSE.

It is pretty clear that the Tesla personal supercomputer is not designed for PC gaming, but rather for highly computational research and professional work. Ideal types of applications for this system would likely include the processing of large sets of consistent data, such as transcoding a DVD or studying seismic activity. The GPU-based Tesla Personal Supercomputer is now available from retail HPC OEMs, system builders and resellers, including Dell, Asus, Western Scientific and Microway. Prices vary depending on configuration, but expect to pay around $10,000 for your own personal supercomputer.

NVIDIA® Tesla™ computing solutions enable the necessary transition to energy efficient parallel computing power. With 240 cores per processor and based on the revoluationary NVIDIA® CUDA™ parallel computing architecture, Tesla scales to solve the worlds most important computing challenges—more quickly and accurately. Video Courtessy YouTube.

Sources :
  1. Nvidia Launches Tesla Personal Supercomputer
  2. NVidia
  3. windows.ucar.edu (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR))

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IBM Research and five leading universities are partnering to create computing systems that are expected to simulate and emulate the brain’s abilities for sensation, perception, action, interaction and cognition while rivaling its low power consumption and compact size.

That may sound like a scene from a low-budget, science-fiction movie, the one where a giant brain in a glass case is the central processing system for a futuristic society. But the IBM project, which has won $4.9 million in funding from the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is very real.

IBM announced Thursday that its "Cognitive Computing via Synaptronics and Supercomputing" (C2S2) project will attempt to design computing systems that "simulate and emulate the brain's abilities for sensation, perception, action, interaction and cognition," while rivaling the brain's compact size and low power consumption.

IBM said the volume of digital data that computer systems have to process today is growing exponentially, while the ability of today's information technology to monitor, analyze and react to that information is lagging. Cognitive computing systems could "integrate and analyze vast amounts of data from many sources in the blink of an eye," IBM said in a statement.

For example, bankers must make split-second decisions based on constantly changing data that flows at an ever-dizzying rate. And in the business of monitoring the world’s water supply, a network of sensors and actuators constantly records and reports metrics such as temperature, pressure, wave height, acoustics and ocean tide.

The idea of building computers that mimic the human brain isn't new: Development of artificial intelligence technology is almost as old as computing itself. While aspects of AI have found their way into expert systems, pattern recognition applications and other technologies, AI has never quite lived up to its early hype.

The C2S2 project will include research over the next nine months in the areas of synaptronics, material science, neuromorphic circuitry, supercomputing simulations and virtual environments, IBM said. Initially, the research will focus on developing nanoscale synapse-like devices that will link many computers around the world into a single "cognitive computer" in much the same way synapses in the human brain connect neurons or nerve cells.

IBM said C2S2's long-term goal is to develop "low-power, compact cognitive computers that approach mammalian-scale intelligence." IBM said it recently assembled a system equivalent to the brain of a small mammal using cognitive computing algorithms and its BlueGene supercomputer.

Working with IBM on the project are noted researchers at Stanford University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cornell University, Columbia University Medical Center and the University of California-Merced.

DARPA awarded the funding as part of the first phase of its own Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE) initiative.

Sources :
  1. ChannelWeb : IBM Developing Next-Gen Computer That Mimics Human Brain | By Rick Whiting, 1:51 PM EST Thu. Nov. 20, 2008.
  2. InfoHighTech : IBM Seeks to Build the Computer of the Future Based on Insights From the Brain | jeudi 20 novembre 2008, par Bernard.

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