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News Source Slashdot:Hardware

Seagate Unveils CORTX Object Storage Software with Lyve Drive Rack Hardware Reference Design
New submitter kyubre writes: Seagate has unveiled CORTX, an open-source S3-compatible object storage software, today at their Datasphere virtual event. The source for this software-defined-storage (SDS) platform is hosted on Github. Seagate has also organized a group of open source researchers and developers in this space under the 'CORTX Community' moniker. As part of the Github repository, Seagate is providing a pre-built virtual machine image that enables users to get a quick start with testing. Seagate is a hardware vendor at its core, and as part of the CORTX initiative, it is also introducing the Lyve Drive Rack - a reference architecture supported by Seagate and available later this year with 20TB HAMR drives. The Lyve Drive Rack is expected to serve a variety of use-cases including backup/restore, big data and analytics, AI & ML, file sharing and synchronization, as well as video surveillance. Each rack node can support up to 106 drives, and a cluster can scale up as necessary.

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Giant Gundam Robot In Japan Makes Its First Moves
A giant Gundam in Japan's Port of Yokohama is now able to "pick up its legs to walk, bend its knees, turn its head, and contort its fingers to mime hand signals," reports Popular Mechanics. The 60-foot robot is the largest in the world. From the report: Inspired by the fictional Japanese robot of the same name -- which has appeared in over 50 TV series and movies since 1979, as well as many manga comics and video games -- this Gundam features a staggering 24 degrees of freedom. People in Japan have caught and shared a few glimpses of the engineering marvel. Considering the Gundam weighs about 25 tons, it's pretty insane to watch it raise both arms in the air and pick itself back up after kneeling. Those efficiencies are thanks to precise engineering and design work, as outlined in a series of YouTube videos from Gundam Factory Yokohama. In one installment, the engineers give a tour of where they designed, built, and assembled the Gundam. The videos are a great way to really contextualize the size of this monster; from the metal fingertip to where the wrist will connect, for example, the hand is about 6.5 feet wide.

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GeForce RTX 3090 Launched: NVIDIA's Biggest, Fastest Gaming GPU Tested
MojoKid writes: NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 3090, which just launched this morning, is the single most powerful graphics card money can buy currently (almost). It sits at the top of NVIDIA's product stack, and according to the company, it enables new experiences like smooth 8K gaming and seamless processing of massive content creation workloads, thanks in part to its 24GB of on-board GDDR6X memory. A graphics card like the GeForce RTX 3090 isn't for everyone, however. Though its asking price is about a $1,000 lower than its previous-gen, Turing-based Titan RTX counterpart, it is still out of reach for most gamers. That said, content creation and workstation rendering professionals can more easily justify its cost. In performance testing fresh off the NDA lift, versus the GeForce RTX 3080 that arrived last week, the more powerful RTX 3090's gains range from about 4% to 20%. Versus the more expensive previous generation Titan RTX though, the GeForce RTX 3090's advantages increase to approximately 6% to 40%. When you factor in complex creator workloads that can leverage the GeForce RTX 3090's additional resources and memory, however, it can be many times faster than either the RTX 3080 or Titan RTX. The GeForce RTX 3090 will be available in limited quantities today but the company pledges to make more available directly and through OEM board partners as soon as possible.

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3D Printing Inside the Body Could Patch Stomach Ulcers
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Scientific American: Stomach ulcers and other gastric wounds afflict one in eight people worldwide, but common conventional therapies have drawbacks. Now scientists aim to treat such problems by exploring a new frontier in 3-D printing: depositing living cells directly inside the human body. [...] In their effort to treat stomach lesions less invasively, scientists in China wanted to develop a miniature bioprinting robot that could enter the human body with relative ease. The researchers used existing techniques for creating dexterous electronic devices, such as mechanical bees and cockroach-inspired robots, says the study's senior author Tao Xu, a bioengineer at Tsinghua University in Beijing. The resulting micro robot is just 30 millimeters wide -- less than half the width of a credit card -- and can fold to a length of 43 millimeters. Once inside a patient's body, it unfolds to become 59 millimeters long and can start bioprinting. "The team has constructed clever mechanisms that make the system compact when entering the body yet unfurl to provide a large working area once past the tight constrictions at entry," says David Hoelzle, a mechanical engineer at the Ohio State University, who did not take part in the study. In their experiments, the researchers in China fitted the micro robot onto an endoscope (a long tube that can be inserted through bodily openings) and successfully snaked it through a curved pipe into a transparent plastic model of a stomach. There, they used it to print gels loaded with human stomach lining and stomach muscle cells (which were grown in culture by a commercial laboratory) onto a lab dish. The printed cells remained viable and steadily proliferated over the course of 10 days. "This study is the first attempt to combine micro robots and bioprinting together," Xu says. The study has been published in the journal Biofabrication.

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Researchers Found the Manual For the World's Oldest Surviving Computer
Researchers will be able to gain a deeper understanding of what's considered the world's oldest surviving (digital) computer after its long-lost user manual was unearthed. Engadget reports: The Z4, which was built in 1945, runs on tape, takes up most of a room and needs several people to operate it. The machine now takes residence at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, but it hasn't been used in quite some time. An archivist at ETH Zurich, Evelyn Boesch, discovered the manual among her father's documents in March, according to retired lecturer Herbert Bruderer. Rene Boesch worked with the Swiss Aeronautical Engineering Association, which was based at the university's Institute for Aircraft Statics and Aircraft Construction. The Z4 was housed there in the early 1950s. Among Boesch's documents were notes on math problems the Z4 solved that were linked to the development of the P-16 jet fighter. "These included calculations on the trajectory of rockets, on aircraft wings, on flutter vibrations [and] on nosedive," Bruderer wrote in a Association of Computing Machinery blog post.

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Intel Details Chips Designed For IoT and Edge Workloads
Intel today announced the launch of new products tailored to edge computing scenarios like digital signage, interactive kiosks, medical devices, and health care service robots. From a report: The 11th Gen Intel Core Processors, Atom x6000E Series, Pentium, Celeron N, and J Series bring new AI security, functional safety, and real-time capabilities to edge customers, the chipmaker says, laying the groundwork for innovative future applications. Intel expects the edge market to be a $65 billion silicon opportunity by 2024. The company's own revenue in the space grew more than 20% to $9.5 billion in 2018. And according to a 2020 IDC report, up to 70% of all enterprises will process data at the edge within three years. To date, Intel claims to have cultivated an ecosystem of more than 1,200 partners, including Accenture, Bosch, ExxonMobil, Philips, Verizon, and ViewSonic, with over 15,000 end customer deployments across "nearly every industry." The 11th Gen Core processors -- which Intel previewed in early September -- are enhanced for internet of things (IoT) use cases requiring high-speed processing, computer vision, and low-latency deterministic processing, the company says. They bring an up to 23% performance gain in single-threaded workloads, a 19% performance gain in multithreaded workloads, and an up to 2.95 times performance gain in graphics workloads versus the previous generation. New dual video decode boxes allow the processors to ingest up to 40 simultaneous video streams at 1080p up to 30 frames per second and output four channels of 4K or two channels of 8K video. According to Intel, the combination of the 11th Gen's SuperFin process improvements, miscellaneous architectural enhancements, and Intel's OpenVINO software optimizations translates to 50% faster inferences per second compared with the previous 8th Gen processor using CPU mode or up to 90% faster inferences using the processors' GPU-accelerated mode.

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The Fairphone 3+ Is a Repairable Dream That Takes Beautiful Photos
The Fairphone 3+ is a $550 phone with modular parts that can easily be swapped out by users themselves. "In many ways, a Fairphone is the antithesis of the iPhone," writes Catie Keck via Gizmodo. "It doesn't benefit most retailers to allow you to easily repair your own stuff, meaning that a lot of gizmos these days -- particularly higher-end electronics -- are packed with proprietary parts and sometimes even software locks to dissuade consumers from attempting to perform repairs themselves." While it is a "repairable dream" and features two big camera upgrades over the Fairphone 3 (which does support the new upgraded camera modules), it's, sadly, only available overseas. Keck writes: Fairphone 3+ has 64GB of memory but can be upgraded to 400GB with a MicroSD card. It has a Qualcomm 632 processor, a 5.65-inch display, Bluetooth 5, a 3000mAh battery that supports Qualcomm QuickCharge, and six total modules to swap out for easy repair. A thing I didn't expect to love as much as I did was fingerprint ID on the backside of the phone -- particularly as Face ID on my iPhone 11 has become a massive pain in the butt in these mask-on times. At present, Fairphone doesn't support 4G connectivity in the U.S., my biggest gripe with the phone second only to the fact that the phones only ship within Europe. [...] Fairphone runs on Android -- the Fairphone 3+ comes with Android 10 pre-installed and ready to go. As for its camera, I was happy enough with the photograph with the newer lens. Photo nerds may be more sensitive to the trade-offs when compared with, say, the iPhone 11 Pro, but for the average person, I think Fairphone's cameras would work beautifully. I especially loved the portrait mode on the front camera, which worked in even exceptionally low-light environments for me. Software likely isn't the primary reason that anyone is looking at getting a Fairphone device, but shipping pre-installed with a lot of familiar apps means making the switch will likely be relatively painless, though so far my iPhone is a bit snappier overall in terms of performance. Again, the tradeoff is a commitment to repairability that you simply won't get with an Apple device unless the company radically overhauls its entire business model or unless it's forced, neither of which seems remotely likely for the foreseeable future.

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Tesla Announces 'Tabless' Battery Cells That Will Improve Range of Its Electric Cars
At Tesla's Battery Day Event today, the company unveiled plans to develop a "tabless" battery cell that will make their EV batteries five times more energy dense, six times more powerful, and enable a 16 percent range increase for the company's vehicles. These new "tabless" cells, which Tesla is calling 4860 cells, are "close to working" at the pilot plant level, Musk said. The Verge reports: The company will produce its new batteries in-house, which Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicts will help dramatically reduce costs and allow the company to sell electric vehicles for the same price as gasoline-powered ones. The battery is expected to lower Tesla's cost per kilowatt-hour, the unit of energy most commonly used to measure the capacity of the battery packs in modern electric vehicles. Many experts believe that lowering these costs would allow Tesla to dramatically lower the price of its cars, thereby making them far more accessible. Musk's announcement that Tesla will begin manufacturing its own batteries should help with the shortages the company has experienced in the past with Panasonic and its other suppliers. With that said, Tesla won't stop purchasing those batteries anytime soon. "In the run-up to Battery Day, Musk tweeted that the company would continue to use batteries supplied by Panasonic, China's CATL, LG Chem, and others," notes The Verge. "Not only that, but Tesla would buy more batteries from its suppliers than normal."

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Shell Reportedly To Slash Oil and Gas Production Costs To Focus More On Renewables
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBC.ca: Royal Dutch Shell is looking to slash up to 40 percent off the cost of producing oil and gas in a major drive to save cash so it can overhaul its business and focus more on renewable energy and power markets, sources told Reuters. Shell's new cost-cutting review, known internally as Project Reshape and expected to be completed this year, will affect its three main divisions and any savings will come on top of a $4 billion US target set in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Shell now wants to focus its oil and gas production on a few key hubs, including the Gulf of Mexico, Nigeria and the North Sea, the sources said. The company's integrated gas division, which runs Shell's liquefied natural gas (LNG) operations as well as some gas production, is also looking at deep cuts, the sources said. For downstream, the review is focusing on cutting costs from Shell's network of 45,000 service stations -- the world's biggest which is seen as one its "most high-value activities" and is expected to play a pivotal role in the transition, two more sources involved with the review told Reuters. The review, which company sources say is the largest in Shell's modern history, is expected to be completed by the end of 2020 when Shell wants to announce a major restructuring. It will hold an investor day in February 2021. Teams in Shell's three main divisions are also studying how to reshape the business by cutting thousands of jobs and removing management layers both to save money and create a nimbler company as it prepares to restructure, the sources said. Besides cutting costs at its downstream retail business, Shell is pressing ahead with plans to reduce the number of its oil refineries to 10 from 17 last year. It has already agreed to sell three. The review of refining operations also includes finding ways to sharply increase the production of low-carbon fuels such as biofuels, chemicals and lubricants. That could be done by using low-carbon raw materials such as cooking oil, one source said. "We had a great model but is it right for the future? There will be differences, this is not just about structure but culture and about the type of company we want to be," said a senior Shell source, who declined to be named.

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Samsung's Fast, PCIe 4.0-ready 980 Pro SSD Can Future-Proof Your PC Build
Samsung has unveiled its next high-performance NVMe 2280-sized M.2 drive, the 980 Pro. So far, it comes in three capacities shipping this month: 250GB for $89.99, 500GB for $149.99, and 1TB for $229.99. A 2TB model will arrive later this year, but Samsung didn't share a price. From a report: The standout feature of this drive is its compatibility with M.2 slots over the PCIe 4.0 interface. If you have a compatible motherboard, Samsung says the 980 Pro can go on a tear with sequential read / write speeds of up to 7,000MB/s and 5,000MB/s, respectively. It claims that this is two times faster performance than PCIe 3.0 SSDs and nearly 13 times faster than the more affordable but slower SATA SSDs. Of course, to get the best speeds out of this Samsung M.2 drive, you'll need a compatible motherboard with a PCIe 4.0 M.2 slot. Adoption of the tech is starting to ramp up, including mainstream computing products like AMD's third-generation Ryzen CPUs, its Radeon RX 5700 and 5700XT GPUs, and more recently, Nvidia's RTX 3080 graphics card. Sony and Microsoft are also using the technology for their custom SSD technologies in the PS5 and Xbox Series S / X consoles.

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Airbus Reveals Plans For Zero-Emission Aircraft Fueled By Hydrogen
Airbus has announced plans for the world's first zero-emission commercial aircraft models that run on hydrogen and could take to the skies by 2035. The Guardian reports: The European aersospace company revealed three different aircraft concepts that would be put through their paces to find the most efficient way to travel long distances by plane without producing the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global heating. UK holidaymakers and business travellers could fly from London to the Canary Islands, Athens or eastern Europe without producing carbon emissions, should the plans become a commercial reality. All three of the aircraft concepts rely on hydrogen as a fuel because the only emissions produced when it is burned is water vapor, making it a clean fuel option for heavy vehicles such as planes, trains and trucks. The first of the Airbus concepts could carry between 120 and 200 passengers more than 2,000 nautical miles by using a turbofan design that includes a modified gas-turbine engine running on hydrogen, rather than jet fuel, which could be stored in tanks located behind the plane's rear pressure bulkhead. The second concept, a turboprop design, would also use a modified gas engine but could carry up to 100 passengers for 1,000 nautical miles on short-haul trips. The aviation giant's plans also include a plane with an "exceptionally wide" body that blends into the plane's wings to open up multiple options for hydrogen storage and the cabin layout. This plane could carry as many passengers as the turbofan design and travel as far too. [...] Airbus said hydrogen planes would also require airports to install hydrogen transport and refueling infrastructure, and government support to upgrade aircraft fleets to allow airlines to retire their older, less environmentally friendly aircraft sooner than planned.

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'Huang's Law Is the New Moore's Law'
As chip makers have reached the limits of atomic-scale circuitry and the physics of electrons, Moore's law has slowed, and some say it's over. But a different law, potentially no less consequential for computing's next half century, has arisen. WSJ: I call it Huang's Law, after Nvidia chief executive and co-founder Jensen Huang. It describes how the silicon chips that power artificial intelligence more than double in performance every two years. While the increase can be attributed to both hardware and software, its steady progress makes it a unique enabler of everything from autonomous cars, trucks and ships to the face, voice and object recognition in our personal gadgets. Between November 2012 and this May, performance of Nvidia's chips increased 317 times for an important class of AI calculations, says Bill Dally, chief scientist and senior vice president of research at Nvidia. On average, in other words, the performance of these chips more than doubled every year, a rate of progress that makes Moore's Law pale in comparison. Nvidia's specialty has long been graphics processing units, or GPUs, which operate efficiently when there are many independent tasks to be done simultaneously. Central processing units, or CPUs, like the kind that Intel specializes in, are on the other hand much less efficient but better at executing a single, serial task very quickly. You can't chop up every computing process so that it can be efficiently handled by a GPU, but for the ones you can -- including many AI applications -- you can perform it many times as fast while expending the same power. Intel was a primary driver of Moore's Law, but it was hardly the only one. Perpetuating it required tens of thousands of engineers and billions of dollars in investment across hundreds of companies around the globe. Similarly, Nvidia isn't alone in driving Huang's Law -- and in fact its own type of AI processing might, in some applications, be losing its appeal. That's probably a major reason it has moved to acquire chip architect Arm Holdings this month, another company key to ongoing improvement in the speed of AI, for $40 billion.

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Daimler Shows Off Long-Range Hydrogen Semi, New Battery Truck
Daimler, which has worked on hydrogen technology for decades, is developing a fuel-cell semi with range of up to 600 miles per fueling and next-generation battery trucks amid intensifying competition to curb diesel and carbon exhaust from heavy-duty vehicles. Forbes reports: The German auto giant's truck unit showed off the Mercedes-Benz GenH2, a concept truck designed for long haul runs that will be tested by customers in 2023, at an event in Berlin Tuesday outlining steps it's taking to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. Volume production of GenH2s starts in the second half of the 2020s. The company also debuted its Mercedes-Benz eActros LongHaul, a battery-powered truck for short- and medium-range routes goes about 300 miles (500 kilometers) between charges. eActros production starts in 2024. Both trucks share Daimler's new ePowetrain modular platform to help hold costs down. They'll be available initially in Europe, though versions for North America and Japan will arrive around the same time, the company said. [...] A unique twist with Daimler's GenH2 truck is that the system relies on liquid hydrogen, rather than highly compressed hydrogen gas, the current standard. The benefit is that liquid hydrogen is more energy dense and uses tanks that are much lighter than those required for gaseous fuel, Daimler said. "This gives the trucks a larger cargo space and higher payload weight," while also improving range, it said. The combination of hydrogen and battery vehicles "enables us to offer our customers the best vehicle options, depending on the application," Daimler Chairman Martin Daum said at the event. "Battery power will be rather used for lower cargo weights and for shorter distances. Fuel-cell power will tend to be the preferred option for heavier loads and longer distances."

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NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Tested: a Huge Leap Forward In Gaming Performance
MojoKid writes: NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang officially unveiled the GeForce RTX 30 series based on the company's new Ampere architecture a couple of weeks back. According to Huang, the GeForce RTX 30 series represents the greatest generational leap in the company's history and he claimed the GeForce RTX 3080 would offer double the performance of its predecessor. The embargo for GeForce RTX 3080 reviews just lifted and it seems NVIDIA was intent on making good on its claims. The GeForce RTX 3080 is the fastest GPU released to date, across the board, regardless of the game, application, or benchmarks used. Throughout testing, the GeForce RTX 3080 often put up scores more than doubling the performance of AMD's current flagship Radeon RX 5700 XT. The RTX 3080 even skunked the NVIDIA Titan RTX and GeForce RTX 2080 Ti by relatively large margins, even though it will retail for almost half the price of a 2080 Ti (at least currently). The bottom line is, NVIDIA's got an absolutely stellar-performing GPU on its hands, and the GeForce RTX 3080 isn't even the best Ampere has to offer, with the RTX 3090 waiting in the wings. GeForce RTX 3080 cards will be available from NVIDIA and third-party board partners on 9/17 for an entry-level MSRP of $699.

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Apple Researching Apple Watch Bands That Can Provide Information In Braille
According to Apple Insider, Apple is researching an Apple Watch band that could contain controllable protrusions to present tactile information on the surface. From the report: Apple has famously always researched providing accessibility features in its devices, whether or not it's profitable. However, so far there has been a limit to what the Apple Watch can do -- and its bands could have no accessibility features at all. "Tactile output for wearable device," is a newly granted US patent which aims to change that. Alongside the various things Siri can say aloud since the Apple Watch Series 3, there could now be Apple-designed bands that display Braille information. While Apple wants its patent to cover any kind of electronic device possible, most of its descriptions and all of its drawings refer to the Apple Watch and to what Apple refers to as actuators. These are components that respond to a processor and cause other elements to move or rearrange. "[For example, a] wearable item comprises a flexible strap and actuators within the flexible strap," says the patent. "The actuators are configured to dynamically form protrusions along the flexible strap. The protrusions present tactilely-perceptible information." These protrusions are similar to the raised dots in Braille, but Apple says they needn't be confined to that one system. Rather than following the established patterns of whole words in Braille, the same protrusions could be configured to "also or instead be dynamically and/or selectively actuated to form [the] shapes of alphanumeric characters."

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