Archive for January 2012
Intel’s next-generation processor architecture, Haswell, has been pictured for the first time in a spy shot of an engineering sample.
According to Slovakian technology site OBR-Hardware, the leaked image is of a quality control sample produced at an Intel fabrication facility to prove the next-generation architecture’s efficacy ahead of its launch next year.
Built on a 22nm process, Haswell represents the ‘tick’ portion of Intel’s ‘tick-tock’ development cycle: where the upcoming Ivy Bridge is merely a process size shrink from Sandy Bridge’s 32nm to 22nm, Haswell represents a new generation of microarchitecture.
Based on the the existing Core architecture, Haswell promises numerous improvements over its predecessors. The most interesting of these, and sadly invisible in the leaked picture, is HNI: Haswell New Instructions.
Designed to extend the existing instruction set available in Ivy Bridge, HNI includes Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) 2 with support for SIMD (Single Instruction, Multiple Data) operations on 256-bit integer data types, bit manipulation instructions for improved handling of variable bitstreams, cryptography, compression and large number arithmetic, gather instructions for vectorising codes with non-adjacent data elements, any-to-any permutes with support for DWORD and QWORD granularity permutes across an entire 256-bit register, vector-vector shifts and floating-point multiply accumulate functionality for boosted floating point performance.
In simpler terms: for software designed to take advantage of the new instructions, Haswell promises some significant performance benefits. In particular, better vector handling means vastly improved parallel processing capabilities that could boost overall compute performance significantly for multi-threaded applications.
The image does, however, offer some insight into other aspects of the first Haswell-based processors likely to hit the market: according to OBR-Hardware’s analysis of the spy shot, the GPU portion of the die is around twice the size of that included in Sandy Bridge. As a result, we can expect significantly improved graphics performance from the chips.
That observation fits with existing claims – including that from VR-Zone - that Haswell will include multi-standard encode and decode functionality for video resolutions up to QuadHD 4K.
Sadly, with Ivy Bridge not even out of the door yet, Intel is keeping quiet on precise facts and figures for the first Haswell silicon; but it certainly looks like it’s going to be a tempting upgrade for performance enthusiasts when it finally hits the market in 2013.
A new voluntary scheme is being proposed in the UK which would punish copyright infringing sites and boost links to websites that have licenses to sell music, film and TV content.
According to the Register, the site certification scheme is being put forward by the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI), the Motion Pictures Association (MPA), the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT), The Premier League and the Publishers Association.
In the proposal, titled ‘Responsible Practices for Search Engines in Reducing Online Infringement: Proposal for a Code of Practice’, which has fallen into the hands of the Open Rights Group, it states that search engines which sign up to the code should stop indexing illicit content, so that legitimate content is easier to find on the web.
“We propose that in order to further protect consumers and to encourage responsible behaviour among websites, the extent of illegal content on a website should become a factor influencing the ranking of that website in search results returned to consumers,” explained the proposal.
“In addition, where a site has been found by a court to be substantially infringing, it should no longer be crawled, indexed or linked at all.”
It also wants certain search terms to redirect to legitimate content, with the proposal noting: “To use the example of music, we would propose that prioritisation be enabled for searches that contain any of the following key search terms: “mp3″, “flac”, “wma”, “aac”, “torrent”, “download”, “rip”, “stream” or “listen”, “free”, when combined with an artist name, song or album title contained on a list to be regularly updated and provided to a search engine by a recognised and properly mandated agency representing rights holders for a particular sector, such as BPI.”
The issue of piracy on the web has never been more prescient, but as we have seen with SOPA in the US, any scheme which messes with the openness of the internet is going to create a backlash – something the authors of this proposal, if it is ever accepted, will have to take into consideration.
You may rue the day that Facebook introduced song sharing (now we all know about your insatiable appetite for the High School Musical soundtrack), but Facebook’s pretty pleased with it, having racked up five billion song shares since f8 in September.
Speaking at the Midem conference in Cannes, Facebook’s Dan Rose didn’t elaborate much, so we don’t know how much of the five billion is down to Spotify and how many song shares have come from partnerships with other music services like Deezer.
Last we’d heard, Facebook reported 1.5 billion tracks had been shared using Spotify in November 2011; whichever way you look at it, 3.5 billion tracks in two months is good going.
Now that Facebook is rolling out Timeline to all its users, this kind of seamless social sharing is only set to grow.
Other companies have already come on board, with Netflix taking care of your movie-watching and Zeebox handling your TV habits and over sixty more new apps to keep your friends posted on everything from what gigs you’re at to what food you’re eating.
But with bite-sized song sharing overtaking the Facebook ticker, who knows whether we’ll even notice all that. Now, excuse us, we’re off to switch private listening on.
The French arm of Microsoft has stated that there will be no new Xbox 720 console released before the end of the year.
The marketing director of Microsoft France, Cedrick Delmas says the Xbox 360′s life-cycle is not over and that it has no intention of rushing out a competitor for the Nintendo Wii U in time for Christmas.
When asked about the new Xbox for E3 rumors he told Lepoint.fr(translated): “We’re in an industry that talks a lot, that likes telling stories. I am not convinced that things will happen this year. The Xbox 360′s cycle is not over at all. The proof is that we haven’t price cut this year.
“Afterward, what will happen at E3, it’s still too early to say. What’s certain is that there will be nothing new in 2012. If we wanted to counter Nintendo, we would have to be in a position to release something immediately, and that is not at all the case.
“We’re not here to counter Nintendo and they’re not here to fight the other manufacturers. Nintendo has put itself in a different cycle, it’s going forward to its own rhythm, with success as we have seen with the Wii, and now it’s their turn to present their innovation.”
Clear run for the Wii U
Delmas’ comments suggest that Microsoft does indeed have something up its sleeve for the annual E3 expo in June, but will bide its time until 2013 before making the console available.
Nintendo recently promised to have the Wii U on sale by the end of 2012 and is likely to unleash a largely improved iteration of the device than that which was on show at E3 in 2011.
With no real rumblings of a PlayStation 4 launch, even in 2013, it looks like Nintendo will have a clear shot at the Christmas market with the console so crucial to its future prosperity.
For this episode of Tech Tips, Linus went to the NCIX PC production department and selected a random system to receive a complimentary “silence” upgrade from the standard components that the customer had ordered.
Clementine is a multiplatform music player. It is inspired by Amarok 1.4, focusing on a fast and easy-to-use interface for searching and playing your music.
It’s a welcome return to Markus Schulz’s Video Blog series! Every month Markus will invite you to send your questions to him on a variety of subjects. And for the January 2012 edition, we find Markus at home in Miami and in the studios preparing for his Los Angeles ’12 release parties taking place at Avalon on February 18 and 19.
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Solera Networks just announced that it has raised $20 million in Series D funding from Intel Capital (the chip-maker’s investment arm) and others.
The company says its DeepSee Platform can index and classify all network traffic, giving companies a comprehensive picture of their network security in real-time, either for spotting risks before a security breach or responding quickly once a breach has occurred. Both domestic and international sales supposedly grew more than 100 percent last year.
Previous investors Allegis Capital, Signal Peak Ventures, and Trident Capital also participated in the new round. Solera says it will use the money to expand global sales, marketing, and product development. It also notes that Intel’s expertise should help with future product improvements.
“With increasingly large amounts of data crossing corporate networks, organizations must balance advanced threat prevention with an aggressive and proactive response system to be fully prepared when an inevitable breach occurs,” said Intel Capital Investment Director Sean Cunningham in the funding press release. “We see companies continuing to realize that real-time, intelligent incident response is now an essential component of their security strategy. Solera Networks delivers a scalable, high-performance solution that addresses these challenges and is the only independent platform capable of broad integration.”