Pic of the day #144

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XP SP3 Speed Boost

xp-sp3.jpgWindows XP Service Pack 3, the update scheduled to be released next year, runs Microsoft Corp.’s Office suite 10% faster than XP SP2, a performance testing software developer reported Friday. Devil Mountain Software Inc., which earlier in the week claimed that Windows Vista SP1 was no faster than the original, repeated some of the same tests on the release candidate of Windows XP SP3, the service pack recently issued to about 15,000 testers.

“We were pleasantly surprised to discover that Windows XP SP3 delivers a measurable performance boost to this aging desktop OS,” said Craig Barth, Devil Mountain’s chief technology officer, in a post to a company blog on Friday.

Devil Mountain ran its OfficeBench suite of performance benchmarks on a laptop equipped with Office 2007, Microsoft’s latest application suite. The notebook — the same unit used in the Vista/Vista SP1 tests earlier — featured a 2.0-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 1GB of memory. The results reported that XP SP3 delivered a 10% speed increase over SP2, the service pack released in 2004.

“Since SP3 was supposed to be mostly a bug-fix/patch consolidation release, the unexpected speed boost comes as a nice bonus,” Barth said. “In fact, XP SP3 is shaping up to be a ‘must-have’ update for the majority of users who are still running Redmond’s not-so-latest and greatest desktop OS.”

According to the Office performance benchmarks, Windows XP SP3 is also considerably faster than Vista SP1. “None of this bodes well for Vista, which is now more than two times slower than the most current builds of its older sibling,” said Barth.

While Microsoft was not available over the weekend for comment about XP’s performance, it defended Vista SP1 after Devil Mountain’s first round of tests.

“We appreciate the excitement to evaluate Windows Vista SP1 as soon as possible. However, the service pack is still in the development phase and will undergo several changes before being released,” a spokeswoman said in an e-mail.

Microsoft has at times struggled to wean users from the six-year-old Windows XP and get them to migrate to Vista. During 2007, for example, it made several XP concessions, including adding five years to the support lifespan of the Home edition and extending OEM and retail sales of XP through June 2008, as it recognized that customers wanted to hold on to the older operating system.

Recently, Forrester Research said that XP remained Vista’s biggest rival and cited survey data that showed that U.S. and European businesses would delay Vista deployment, in part because of application incompatibility problems plaguing the new operating system. “That’s causing a lot of XP shops to take a wait-and-see approach to Vista,” said Forrester analyst Benjamin Gray two weeks ago.

Source: Computerworld

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Pic of the day #143

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TB/s Memory Bandwidth

6648_large_rambusterabyte.jpgRambus Inc. plans to announce this Wednesday a new memory signaling technology initiative targeted at delivering a Terabyte-per-second of memory bandwidth, which the company touts as a solution for next-generation multi-core, game and graphics applications.

Rather than simply increasing the clock speed of memory to achieve higher output, Rambus looks to boost bandwidth with a 32X data rate. Just as DDR memory technologies doubles transfer on a single, full clock signal cycle, Rambus’ proposed technology is able to data at 32 times the reference clock frequency. With 32X technology, the memory company is targeting a bandwidth of 16Gbps per DQ link with memory running at 500MHz. In contrast, today’s DDR3 at 500MHz achieves a bandwidth of 1Gbps.

Of course, it requires a little explanation on how a technology that enables a DQ link 16Gbps of bandwidth could result in a Terabyte of throughput. Rambus’ aim for the technology is to grant Terabyte bandwidth to a system on a chip (SoC) architecture, and such may be achieved with 16 DRAMs operating at 16Gbps, 4-bytes wide per device.

Another innovation that Rambus plans to integrate into its Terabyte memory initiative is FlexLink C/A (command/address), which the company claims is the industry’s first full-speed, scalable, point-to-point C/A link – with the C/A running at full speed along with the DQ. FlexLink C/A also simplifies the interface between the memory controller and DRAM. For example, traditional legacy interfaces may require a 12 wire interface, FlexLink C/A can operate point-to-point with just two wires.

Furthermore, FlexLink C/A is named for its flexibility given to system designers, as now the overhead wires freed from the FlexLink C/A interfaces may be devoted to more data wires. Conversely, the model may offer greater bandwidth with the addition of more FlexLink C/A wires, making the technology more easily scalable.

Rambus’ Terabyte bandwidth initiative will use a fully differential memory architecture, which will employ differential signaling for both the C/A and DQ. While current DDR3 and GDDR5 memory use differential signaling for data and strobe, Rambus aims for full differential at the DQ and C/A. Advantages of going full differential include better signal integrity, especially due to its suitability for use in low-voltage electronics, such as memory.

While this Terabyte bandwidth memory method isn’t slated for market until 2011, Rambus has recently received early silicon capable of demonstrating its technology. The early test rig uses emulated DRAM chips, connected to a Rambus memory controller at a 32X data rate capable of 64Gbps. Rambus will show its silicon test vehicle this Wednesday at the Rambus Developer Forum in Tokyo, Japan.

Source: DailyTech

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Pic of the day #142

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Gmail 2.0 Causing Problems

gmail-20.pngAll right, Gmail 2.0 doesn’t crash or slow down browsers all the time, nor does it affect everyone the same way, but it has been causing problems. But first, the relatively good news.

You may recall I wrote earlier that Google had sped up it’s data storage “counter,” that always increasing number on their login page that indicates how much storage you have. At the time, mid-October, it was around 2,961.497189 MB; surprisingly, about one month later, it’s up above the 5 GB mark.

Of course, I’m cheating slightly, since it’s only 5 GB in the hard drive definition of the word. To be exact, it’s above 5,000 MB and going up.

Now, a lot of people surprisingly keep saying “why use Gmail, Yahoo! mail has unlimited storage.” I’m not a Google apologist but,

  • I like the Gmail UI
  • I like the conversation grouping
  • I like the filter approach vs. normal folders
  • Realistically 5 GB is unlimited — unless you use your Gmail account for file storage as well.

That said, what good is storage if you can’t use it? I’ve been wondering for a few days what was up with my Gmail. Certain labels load slowly (or not at all), and when I first login, it seems to “pause” for a second with half the screen refreshed. It finally dawned on me that they had rolled out 2.0 to me (finally) when I noticed the “Older Version” link in the upper right hand corner of the browser.

It’s ironic because version 2.0 was supposed to be faster, but reports are (and my empirical evidence shows) it’s anything but. Does switching back to the old version correct the issues? Yeah, it does. More evidence it’s 2.0. Sorry, Google.

Source: Tech-Ex

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Pic of the day #141

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Get XP SP3 RC Through Microsoft Update

Not a Windows XP SP3 beta tester, but can’t wait for the official release? Or just like to stay on the bleeding edge? There’s a way you can get access to it via Microsoft Update. It does involve editing the registry, but it’s not that difficult.

Here’s all you need to do. You need to create the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\
CurrentVersion\WindowsUpdate\XPSP3

Then create the string value RCPreview below that key, and give it the value:

1c667073-b87f-4f52-a479-98c85711d869

If you had previously had a version of SP3 earlier, you might already have the registry key; just make sure only the string value RCPreview exists in the key when you’re done.

Once the key is in your registry, if you go to Windows Update, you’ll see you can download SP3 RC.

Of course, your mileage may vary, and changes to your registry should be made with care. Naturally I recommend you back up your registry before trying this, and there’s also no guarantee Microsoft won’t change things with RC2 or even tomorrow so that this no longer works.

If you want you can also download and run the batch file here.

Source: Tech-Ex

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Pic of the day #140

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USB 3.0 in 2009

usb_cable.pngTransferring files from your digital video camera to your computer will happen in an instant as USB enters a new generation.

The head of the USB Implementers Forum, Jeffery Ravencraft, said last month that USB had become the standard for connecting devices to computers. He said the formation of the USB 3.0 Promoter Group would help deliver a “faster sync-n-go capability”.

“USB is the most successful interface in the history of computing. Last year 2.1 billion USB connections were shipped and to date over six billion units have been sold,” Ravencraft said at the Intel Development Forum in Taiwan in October.

“It’s phenomenal, people use it everywhere. But the consumer has very low tolerance and is impatient with technology.”

The growing use of video and audio devices, with their bigger files sizes, was one of the reasons behind the development of faster transfer rates, he said. For example, a 27GB high-definition movie takes about 14 minutes to download with high-speed USB 2.0. With superspeed USB 3.0, it will take 70 seconds, according to Ravencraft.

USB 3.0 would also be more energy-efficient than its predecessor, reducing the load on laptops, he said.

“We’re wanting to drive power efficiency for all of our platforms, (therefore) USB 3.0 will not constantly talk to the device.”

However, users will still be able to charge devices such as mobile phones and PDAs, Ravencraft said.

“We may even allow the ability to charge even better.”

He confirmed the next generation of USB would be compatible with previous versions of USB interface.

The promoter group is expected to deliver its USB 3.0 specifications in the first half of next year and the first products may appear in late 2009.

On display at the forum was wireless USB, which has received regulatory approval in several countries, but is yet to get the tick in Australia.

The technology uses ultra-wideband technology to deliver transfer rates of 480Mbps at a distance of three meters; comparable to wired USB 2.0 and several hundred times faster than Bluetooth.

The US, Japan, Europe and South Korea have decided which portions of the radio spectrum ultra-wideband devices may use, and Canada and China are expected to announce similar decisions before the end of this year.

There is no word on when Australian regulators will reach a decision on spectrum approval for wireless USB.

Source: SMH

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