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Power

Gaming Computers Offer Huge, Untapped Energy Savings Potential 92

Required Snark writes: According to Phys.org, a study by Evan Mills at Berkeley Lab shows that "gamers can achieve energy savings of more than 75 percent by changing some settings and swapping out some components, while also improving reliability and performance" because "your average gaming computer is like three refrigerators." Gaming computers represent only 2.5 percent of the global installed personal computer (PC) base but account for 20 percent of the energy use. Mills estimated that gaming computers consumed 75 TWh of electricity globally in 2012, or $10 billion, and projects that will double by 2020 given current sales rates and without efficiency improvements. Potential estimated savings of $18 billion per year globally by 2020, or 120 terawatt hours (TWh) are possible. Mills started the site GreeningtheBeast.org. You can read the full paper as a PDF.
Space

World's Most Powerful Digital Camera Sees Construction Green Light 75

An anonymous reader writes: The Department of Energy has approved the construction of the Large Synoptic Survey Telecscope's 3.2-gigapixel digital camera, which will be the most advanced in the world. When complete the camera will weigh more than three tons and take such high resolution pictures that it would take 1,500 high-definition televisions to display one of them. According to SLAC: "Starting in 2022, LSST will take digital images of the entire visible southern sky every few nights from atop a mountain called Cerro Pachón in Chile. It will produce a wide, deep and fast survey of the night sky, cataloging by far the largest number of stars and galaxies ever observed. During a 10-year time frame, LSST will detect tens of billions of objects—the first time a telescope will observe more galaxies than there are people on Earth – and will create movies of the sky with unprecedented details. Funding for the camera comes from the DOE, while financial support for the telescope and site facilities, the data management system, and the education and public outreach infrastructure of LSST comes primarily from the National Science Foundation (NSF)."
Power

Plunging Battery Prices Expected To Spur Renewable Energy Adoption 122

Lucas123 writes: Lithium-ion (Li-on) and flow battery prices are expected to drop by as much as 60% by 2020, making them far more affordable for storing power from distributed renewable energy systems, such as wind and solar, according to a recent report by Australia's Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). The 130-page report (PDF) shows that Li-on batteries will drop from $550 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2014 to $200 per kWh by 2020; and flow battery prices will drop from $680 per kWh to $350 per kWh during the same time. Flow batteries and Li-ion batteries work well with intermittent energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines because of their ability to be idle for long periods without losing a charge. Both battery technologies offer unique advantages in that they can easily be scaled to suit many applications and have high cycle efficiency, the ARENA report noted. Li-ion batteries more easily suit consumer market. Flow batteries, which are less adaptable for consumer use because they're typically too large, scale more easily because all that's needed to grow storage capacity is more electrolyte liquid; the hardware remains the same.
Networking

OnHub Router -- Google's Smart Home Trojan Horse? 120

An anonymous reader writes: A couple weeks ago, Google surprised everybody by announcing a new piece of hardware: the OnHub Wi-Fi router. It packs a ton of processing power and a bunch of wireless radios into a glowy cylinder, and they're going to sell it for $200, which is on the high end for home networking equipment. Google sent out a number of units for testing, and the reviews are starting to come out. The device is truly Wi-Fi-centric, with only a single port for an ethernet cable. It runs on a Qualcomm IPQ8064 dual-core 1.4GHz SoC with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of storage. You can only access the router's admin settings by using the associated app on a mobile device.

OnHub's data transfer speeds couldn't compete with a similarly priced Asus router, but it had no problem blanketing the area with a strong signal. Ron Amadeo puts his conclusion simply: "To us, this looks like Google's smart home Trojan horse." The smartphone app that accompanies OnHub has branding for something called "Google On," which they speculate is Google's new hub for smart home products. "There are tons of competing smart home protocols out there, all of which are incompatible with one another—imagine HD-DVD versus Blu-Ray, but with about five different players. ... Other than Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, everything in OnHub is a Google/Nest/Alphabet protocol. And remember, the "Built for Google On" stamp on the bottom of the OnHub sure sounds like a third-party certification program."
AMD

AMD's R9 Fury On Open-Source: Prepare for Disappointment, For Now 43

An anonymous reader writes: With Linux 4.3 AMD is adding the initial open-source driver for the R9 Fury graphics cards. Unfortunate for Linux gamers, the R9 Fury isn't yet in good shape on the open-source driver and it's not good with the Catalyst Linux driver either as previously discussed. With the initial code going into Linux 4.3, the $550 R9 Fury runs slower than graphics cards like the lower-cost and older R7 370 and HD 7950 GPUs, since AMD's open-source developers haven't yet found the time to implement power management / re-clocking support. The R9 Fury also only advertises OpenGL 3.0 support while the hardware is GL4.5-capable and the other open-source AMD GCN driver ships OpenGL 4.1. It doesn't look like AMD has any near-term R9 Fury Linux fix for either driver, but at least their older hardware is performing well with the open-source code.
Biotech

Magnet-Steered Nano-Fish Could Deliver Drugs and Sweep Body Toxins 37

dkatana writes: David Warner writes on InformationWeek how "nanoengineers" from UC San Diego have created microscopic fish powered by hydrogen peroxide that use magnets to steer themselves. "The "fish" are powerful enough to swim through your bloodstream, removing toxins or bringing medicine directly to crucial parts of your body, as cells in your blood stream do. Given enough time, the fish could be used to deliver drugs directly to cancer tumors or parts of your body that are too fragile for surgery."
Graphics

MIAOW Open Source GPU Debuts At Hot Chips 44

alexvoica writes: The first general-purpose graphics processor (GPGPU) now available as open-source RTL was unveiled at the Hot Chips event. Although the GPGPU is in an early and relatively crude stage, it is another piece of an emerging open-source hardware platform, said Karu Sankaralingam, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Sankaralingam led the team that designed the Many-core Integrated Accelerator of Wisconsin (MIAOW). A 12-person team developed the MIAOW core in 36 months. Their goal was simply to create a functional GPGPU without setting any specific area, frequency, power or performance goals. The resulting GPGPU uses just 95 instructions and 32 compute units in its current design. It only supports single-precision operations. Students are now adding a graphics pipeline to the design, a job expected to take about six months.
Businesses

Kenya's iHub Creates Accelerator Program For Tech-Hardware Entrepreneurs 16

An anonymous reader writes: The iHub in Nairobi has long been at the epicentre of tech developments in Africa, and has been lauded by both Barack Obama and Satya Nadella in recent weeks. It currently has about 3000 software devs registered as members, but since last year has been building a makerspace for hardware entrepreneurs, too. Gearbox, as its called, it's just launched its first incubation program with the backing of Village Capital, offering $100,000 in investment opportunities for 12 entrepreneurs through a three month program. According to the organisers, it's the first of its kind on the continent. (It's certainly not the first hackerspace in Africa, though -- even in 2012, there were quite a few.)
Displays

A Look At the World's First Virtual Reality Theme Park 16

redletterdave writes: The Void is the first company to create a virtual reality theme park, where virtual experiences are layered on top of physical, real world environments. Tech Insider was the first media outlet to visit The Void's headquarters in Utah, filming the company's first creations. These experiences are still far from final, but the footage is impressive and entertaining. This is not Lazer Tag.
Hardware

Learn FPGAs With a $25 Board and Open Source Tools 93

An anonymous reader writes: Hackaday has a 3 part tutorial with videos of using open source tools with a cheap ($25) FPGA board. The board isn't very powerful, but this could be the 'gateway drug' to FPGAs for people who don't want to spend hundreds of dollars and install 100s of megabytes of software and license keys just to get their feet wet. The videos are particularly good--like watching them over their shoulder. As far as I know, this is the only totally open source FPGA toolchain out there.
Canada

Canadian Nuclear Accident Study Puts Risks Into Perspective 165

An anonymous reader writes: A Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) study has concluded that there would be no detectable increase in cancer risk for most of the population from radiation released in a hypothetical severe nuclear accident. The CNSC's study is the result of a collaborative effort of research and analysis undertaken to address concerns raised during public hearings on the environmental assessment for the refurbishment of Ontario Power Generation's (OPG's) Darlington nuclear power plant in 2012. The draft study was released for public consultation in June 2014. Feedback from the Commission itself and comments from over 500 submissions from the public, government and other organizations have been incorporated in the final version. The study involved identifying and modelling a large atmospheric release of radionuclides from a hypothetical severe nuclear accident at the four-unit Darlington plant
Cellphones

Former Apple CEO Creates an iPhone Competitor 133

An anonymous reader links to Fast Company's profile of Obi Worldphone, one-time Apple CEO John Sculley's venture into smartphones. The company's first two products (both reasonably spec'd, moderately priced Android phones) are expected to launch in October. And though the phones are obviously running a different operating system than Apple's, Sculley says that Obi is a similarly design-obsessed company: "The hardest part of the design was not coming up with cool-looking designs," Sculley says. "It was sweating the details over in the Chinese factories, who just were not accustomed to having this quality of finish, all of these little details that make a beautiful design. We had teams over in China, working for months on the floor every day. We intend to continue that process and have budgeted accordingly." Obi is also trying to set itself apart from the low-price pack by cutting deals for premium parts. "Instead of going directly to the Chinese factories, we went to the key component vendors, because we know that ecosystem and have the relationships," Sculley says. "We went to Sony. It’s struggling and losing money on its smartphone business, but they make the best camera modules in the world."
Graphics

AMD Unveils Radeon R9 Nano, Targets Mini ITX Gaming Systems With a New Fury 59

MojoKid writes: AMD today added a third card to its new Fury line that's arguably the most intriguing of the bunch, the Radeon R9 Nano. True to its name, the Nano is a very compact card, though don't be fooled by its diminutive stature. Lurking inside this 6-inch graphics card is a Fiji GPU core built on a 28nm manufacturing process paired with 4GB of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM). It's a full 1.5 inches shorter than the standard Fury X, and unlike its liquid cooled sibling, there's no radiator and fan assembly to mount. The Fury Nano sports 64 compute units with 64 stream processors each for a total of 4,096 stream processors, just like Fury X. It also has an engine clock of up to 1,000MHz and pushes 8.19 TFLOPs of compute performance. That's within striking distance of the Fury X, which features a 1,050MHz engine clock at 8.6 TFLOPs. Ars Technica, too, takes a look at the new Nano.
Operating Systems

Contiki 3.0 Released, Retains Support For Apple II, C64 43

An anonymous reader writes that on Wednesday the Contiki team announced the release of Contiki 3.0, the latest version of the open source IoT operating system. The 3.0 release is a huge step up from the 2.x branch and brings support for new and exciting hardware, a set of new network protocols, a bunch of improvements in the low-power mesh networking protocols, along with a large number of general stability improvements. And, yes, the system still runs on the Commodore 64/128, Apple II, Atari.
Robotics

Video More From Tim O'Reilly about the 'WTF?!' Economy (Videos) 61

More From Tim O'Reilly about the 'WTF?!' Economy (Video) On August 12 we ran two videos of Tim O'Reilly talking with Slashdot's Tim Lord about changes in how we work, what jobs we do, and who profits from advances in labor-saving technology. Tim (O'Reilly, that is) had written an article titled, The WTF Economy, which contained this paragraph:

"What do on-demand services, AI, and the $15 minimum wage movement have in common? They are telling us, loud and clear, that we’re in for massive changes in work, business, and the economy."

We're seeing a shift from cabs to Uber, but what about the big shift when human drivers get replaced by artificial intelligence? Ditto airplane pilots, burger flippers, and some physicians. WTF? Exactly. Once again we have a main video and a second one available only in Flash (sorry about that), along with a text transcript that covers both videos. Good thought-provoking material, even if you think you're so special that no machine could possibly replace you.
Input Devices

Modular Touchpad Aims To Replace Most Input Devices 76

An anonymous reader writes: Wired reports on the 'Sensel Morph' input device, which launched on Kickstarter yesterday and blew past its funding goal almost immediately. It's a tablet-sized touchpad, but the key feature is the ability to place custom overlays on it. For example, you can snap on a flexible keyboard and the device starts behaving like a normal keyboard. Other overlays can imitate a game controller or a musical instrument. It's sensitive enough to detect paintbrushes, or you can put a simple overlay on it and use pencil or pen. The magnetic connectors in these overlays tell the device how to process the input, and they're making an open source API so developers can create their own. The touchpad has 20,000 individual sensors, with pressure sensitivity ranging from 5g to 5kg.
Data Storage

Oakland Changes License Plate Reader Policy After Filling 80GB Hard Drive 275

An anonymous reader writes: License plate scanners are a contentious subject, generating lots of debate over what information the government should have, how long they should have it, and what they should do with it. However, it seems policy changes are driven more by practical matters than privacy concerns. Earlier this year, Ars Technica reported that the Oakland Police Department retained millions of records going back to 2010. Now, the department has implemented a six-month retention window, with older data being thrown out. Why the change? They filled up the 80GB hard drive on the Windows XP desktop that hosted the data, and it kept crashing.

Why not just buy a cheap drive with an order of magnitude more storage space? Sgt. Dave Burke said, "We don't just buy stuff from Amazon as you suggested. You have to go to a source, i.e., HP or any reputable source where the city has a contract. And there's a purchase order that has to be submitted, and there has to be money in the budget. Whatever we put on the system, has to be certified. You don't just put anything. I think in the beginning of the program, a desktop was appropriate, but now you start increasing the volume of the camera and vehicles, you have to change, otherwise you're going to drown in the amount of data that's being stored."
Hardware Hacking

'Gynepunks' DIY Gynecology For Underserved Women 59

New submitter Alien7 sends an article about a group of bio-hackers who are out to bring DIY gynecological medicine to women who don't have easy access to it. Under the name GynePunks, they're assembling an arsenal of open-source tools for DIY diagnosis and first-aid care—centrifuges made from old hard drive motors; microscopes from deconstructed webcams; homemade incubators; and 3D printable speculums. ... So far the work is largely focused on diagnosis, and members of the collective are quick to note that what they’re creating is far from a comprehensive solution. It’s limited by some obvious factors—access to materials, a place to put them together, and the time to do it. But where the infrastructure does exist, and people are motivated to do so, it is very possible to establish some useful alternatives for self-care. As an example, Klau pointed to a pilot vinegar test program that’s lowered cervical cancer deaths by some 31 percent among poor women in Mumbai’s slums.
Power

Fusion Progress: Superheated Gas Kept Stable For 5 Milliseconds 96

An anonymous reader writes: A company called Tri Alpha has successfully kept a ball of superheated gas stable for a record time, 5 milliseconds, putting them closer to producing fusion power. "'They've succeeded finally in achieving a lifetime limited only by the power available to the system,' says particle physicist Burton Richter of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who sits on a board of advisers to Tri Alpha. If the company's scientists can scale the technique up to longer times and higher temperatures, they will reach a stage at which atomic nuclei in the gas collide forcefully enough to fuse together, releasing energy.

Importantly, the Tri Alpha machine may be able to operate with a different fuel than most other fusion reactors. This fuel-a mix of hydrogen and boron-is harder to react, but Tri Alpha researchers say it avoids many of the problems likely to confront conventional fusion power plants." The article does not say how much this success cost the privately-funded Tri Alpha, but it certainly wasn't in the billions of dollars.