Posts Tagged ‘powerful’

AMD investors positive despite $20M quarterly loss

AMD investors positive despite $20M quarterly loss

AMD’s Q1 2014 financial report shows a drop back into the red with a $20M loss, although investors seem bullish on the company’s future.

AMD’s most recent earnings report has investors impressed, with the company’s stock price rising almost 12 per cent on news of $1.4 billion in sales – despite an overall loss of $20 million for the first quarter of its financial year.

AMD’s quarterly earnings call this week announced $1.4 billion in revenue for Q1 2014, an impressive rise of 28 per cent year-on-year at a time when the global PC market is continuing to shrink – albeit slower than previously. While the quarter-on-quarter shrinkage of 12 per cent might seem like bad news, that’s comparing heavier sales in the run-up to Christmas to the post-Christmas slump; a sequential dip at this time is always to be expected.

A gross profit margin of just 35 per cent, indicative of AMD’s push towards the lower end of the market in CPUs and strong competition from rival Nvidia in GPUs, led to overall operating income of $49 million for the quarter; not enough, sadly, to prevent a loss of $20 million overall. With AMD ending the last quarter on an $89 million profit, that’s a blow – although one significantly less strong than the whopping $146 million loss the company made in the same quarter last year.

AMD continued our momentum by building on the solid foundation we set in the second half of 2013, further transforming the company,‘ claimed AMD president and chief executive Rory Read during the call with press, investors and analysts. ‘Backed by our powerful x86 processor cores and hands-down best graphics experiences, we achieved 28 percent revenue growth from the year-ago quarter. We are well positioned to continue to grow profitably as we diversify our business and enable our customers to drive change and win.

The company’s results show that the PC market slump, while slowing, is continuing to have an impact: AMD’s Computing Solutions business unit’s revenue dropped eight per cent quarter-on-quarter and 12 per cent year-on-year, due to a drop in shipments. Its operating loss, however, was a mere $3 million; down from $7 million last quarter and a painful $39 million in the same quarter last year.

AMD’s Graphics and Visual Solutions business unit is the most interesting story, however: a 15 per cent drop in sequential shipments has been more than offset by an impressive 118 per cent increase year-on-year, attributed to the company’s deals to put semi-custom system-on-chip (SoC) processors in the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 consoles. Overall, the division made a $91 million profit for the year, down from $121 million last quarter when Microsoft and Sony purchased their console chips but up from just $16 million in the same quarter last year.

During the conference call, AMD’s Lisa Su, general manager of global business units, confirmed that the company is still in the design stages of a new semiconductor process node. ‘We are 28 [nanometre] this year, we have 20 nanometre in design, and then FinFET thereafter,‘ she claimed in response to an analyst query – suggesting that 20nm parts won’t be available in quantity until 2015 at the earliest, with the 3D FinFET transistor move – designed to compete with Intel’s Tri-Gate Transistor technology – likely to come the year after.

Su also had positive things to say about AMD’s foray into the low-power server market with Cambridge-based ARM’s IP. ‘There’s been a lot of customer interest around Seattle [chips], so certainly for the server guys, the hyper-scale guys and then even some adjacent markets, there’s good customer interest, claimed Su. ‘I’ll say the interest in the platform is quite high and it’s a major milestone for us to introduce our first 64-bit ARM chip into the market.

What we’re doing here is identifying this opportunity long before it has taken place,‘ added Read, ‘and we’re catching it just as the way it is forming. That’s the kind of innovation leadership that we really want to go after. This is going to be an important market over the next three, five years, and we have an opportunity to truly lead in this ARM server ecosystem, and take advantage of our ambidextrous capability. This is spot-on in the strategy.

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Nanoxia Deep Silence 4 Review

Nanoxia Deep Silence 4 Review

Manufacturer: Nanoxia
UK price (as reviewed):
£64.99 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): Currently unavailable

As the name suggests, the top priority of Nanoxia’s Deep Silence range of cases is noise reduction. While a bespoke water-cooling system can do wonders for your system’s noise output, cases designed specifically to contain noise are an easier and more financially realistic option for most people. The noise (or rather the lack thereof) of the Deep Silence 1 and Deep Silence 2 chassis certainly impresses, but cooling performance also takes a hit – a classic trade-off. We’re now looking at the Deep Silence 4 (Deep Silence 3 having apparently been skipped), which brings the now familiar design to the micro-ATX form factor for an attractive £65.

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The Deep Silence 4 is available in three different colours, and each one has a nice brushed metal effect on the plastic front section. Elsewhere, there’s little visual fanfare, but like the Fractal Design Define series the case is modest looking and refined. Build quality on the outside is good all round, and the feet have large rubber pads to contain vibrations, and they also provide the case with plenty of grip and clearance.

The Deep Silence 4 features a case door that occupies the top third of the front panel. Opening it up reveals the reset button and the two optical drive covers, which can easily be clipped in and out of place. You’ll also find an impressively powerful set of fan controllers for so small and cheap a case. Each of the two variable speed sliders can be used to control the speed of up to three fans each.

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While we can’t complain about the ability to control six fans, it’s a little odd given that you can sadly install just three to the chassis itself, including the two that are bundled with it. These 120mm Deep Silence models, which have green blades, are fitted in the front intake and rear exhaust positions. The third and final fan mount, which can take both 120mm and 140mm models, is found in the roof, as the two side panels and the floor of the case are devoid of any extra ones. While we understand that the Deep Silence 4 is designed for low noise, having such a limited ability to expand upon the default cooling is nonetheless disappointing.

The front intake pulls air in through small vents on the sides of the front panel, as well as a single larger one beneath it. It’s blocked off entirely at the front, however, so airflow from this fan is unlikely to be that high, even at full speed.

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Thick, spongy material designed to suppress noise lines the inside of the front door. Sadly, the bottom section of the front has no door, but it too is backed by noise dampening material, as are both side panels and the roof. The roof even includes a foam-backed blanking plate for the single fan mount, which is excellent to see – your case will be quieter and protected from dust when you’re not using this mount. A slide out dust filter is also provided for the PSU, while the front fan has its own one too (though you’ll need to pop the front panel off to access it), meaning the Deep Silence 4 is fully shielded against dust.

The final thing of note on the case’s exterior is the front panel connections. There’s nothing special here, though with two USB 3 ports alongside a USB 2 one and the usual audio jacks, there’s easily enough for a £65 case.


  • Dimensions (mm) 200 x 480 x 380 (W x D x H)
  • Material Steel, plastic
  • Available colours Black, anthracite (reviewed), white
  • Front panel Power, reset, 2 x USB 3, USB 2, stereo, microphone
  • Drive bays 2 x external 5.25in, 6 x internal 3.5in/2.5in, 1 x internal 2.5in
  • Form factor(s) Micro-ATX, mini-ITX
  • Cooling 1 x 120mm front fan mount (fan included), 1 x 120mm rear fan mount (fan included), 1 x 140mm/120mm roof fan mount (fan not included)
  • CPU cooler clearance 160mm
  • Maximum graphics card length 265mm (395mm without HDD cage)
  • Extras Dual channel variable speed fan control, removable dust filters

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Raspberry Pi Compute Module announced

Raspberry Pi Compute Module announced

The new Raspberry Pi Compute Module, seen docked into the open hardware IO board, packs the power of a Model B into a SODIMM form factor.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced the impending launch of a new computer-on-module (CoM) version of its popular low-cost microcomputer, offering all the functionality of the full-sized models in a SODIMM form factor.

Taking the same 67.6mm x 30mm footprint as a laptop memory module, and borrowing the same connector for ease of manufacture, the new Raspberry Pi Compute Module features the same BCM2835 system-on-chip processor and 512MB of RAM as its full-sized equivalent. 4GB of on-board storage is also included, a first for the Pi family.

The Pi’s various connectors, however, are spread onto a motherboard which includes full access to the processor’s various features. While lacking the network connectivity of the full-size Model B, which requires the use of a USB-connected hub and Ethernet chip external to the BCM2835, the IO board includes access to all the chip’s on-board facilities – including its general-purpose input-output (GPIO) capabilities.

Unlike the full-size Pi, the IO board – but not the Compute Module itself – will be released as open hardware, the Foundation has confirmed. This will allow manufacturers to customise the boards for their own requirements, adding in features such as the missing Ethernet connector or building entirely new layouts such as blade-style multi-core boards with multiple Compute Modules. It will also make it easer for manufacturers to consider building commercial products around the Compute module, integrating the more compact design into their boards without the need to find the credit-card footprint needed by the original Pi design.

Here, however, the Pi enters a relatively crowded market. SODIMM-sized computer-on-module boards are nothing new, and the Pi’s underpowered ARM processor – a sacrifice made by Broadcom in exchange for surprisingly powerful multimedia capabilities, a feature likely lost on the industrial market – will likely mean an uphill struggle for market share. The Foundation has indicated that it intends to compete on price, and while there are no official figures for the kit which bundles a single module with the IO board it has indicated a unit price of around $30 per unit in trays of 100 for the Compute Module itself.

More details are available on the Raspberry Pi website.

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Intel announces Braswell, Cherry Trail

Intel announces Braswell, Cherry Trail

Intel’s Bay Trail architecture is to be succeeded by a low-cost system-on-chip design dubbed Braswell and a higher-priced family known as Cherry Trail.

Intel has announced its planned successors for the Bay Trail architecture, 14nm designs dubbed Braswell and Cherry Trail and aimed at low-cost portables.

Unveiled at the company’s Intel Developer Forum China last night, little is known about the new designs beyond their overall aims and the company’s use of a 14nm process node – and, Kirk Skaugen told attendees, Intel’s hopes to use the chips to help Google grow its Chromebook and Chromebox businesses.

Braswell will focus on ultra-low cost devices, Intel claimed, and use a system-on-chip (SoC) design to reduce the size of the final product as well as the number of supporting chips required. The result, it is claimed, will be entry-level smartphones and tablets boasting a full 64-bit x86 implementation and with excellent power draw.

Braswell is to be joined by Cherry Trail, a more powerful design still based on a 14nm process. Unlike the smartphone-oriented Braswell, Cherry Trail will be aimed at tablets and will offer higher performance at the cost of size and power draw. No performance figures were provided for either design, however.

Intel also told attendees of changes it plans to make to its Bay Trail design, promising new models which will reduce the cost of the processors and their supporting components still further. The aim, it is claimed, is for the company’s customers to be able to launch tablets based on Bay Trail designs for under $100 (around £60 excluding taxes) – a price point currently the exclusive preserve of ARM-based systems from semiconductor companies like AllWinner.

The announcement of the new designs comes as Intel looks to partner with software companies to develop packages exclusive to Intel’s own chips, something its rival AMD has previously investigated with projects like the AMD AppZone.

Release dates and pricing for Braswell and Cherry Trail parts were, naturally, not part of Intel’s presentation.

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Intel announces Bay Trail MinnowBoard Max

Intel announces Bay Trail MinnowBoard Max

Intel’s MinnowBoard Max is a worthy successor to the original, boasting a far more powerful 64-bit chip and an entry price half that of its predecessor.

Intel has announced new entries in its MinnowBoard family of hobbyist-oriented development boards, adding a range of more powerful 64-bit processors with the promise of still more to come.

Intel’s MinnowBoard, the company’s precursor to the far more affordable Arduino-compatible Galileo, was announced as a response to the growing popularity of the ARM-based Raspberry Pi and AMD’s overtures into the market with the APU-powered Gizmo. A high price and a relatively underpowered 32-bit Atom processor meant it was not, however, a particular success for the company – despite an open hardware design which left hobbyists free to peruse the firmware and board design to their hearts content.

The MinnowBoard Max, a direct successor to the original MinnowBoard, is Intel’s attempt to learn from the past. The 32-bit Atom chip has been replaced by a 64-bit Atom E38xx Bay Trail Series system-on-chip processor, with Atom E3815 and E3825 single-core and dual-core models confirmed for launch and hints of a quad-core variant in the works. Users have access to 1GB or 2GB of DDR3 memory respectively, depending on model chosen.

Designed as a development platform rather than a general-use computer, the new MinnowBoard Max features micro-HDMI video output, single USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, a SATA 3.0Gb/s connector, and a gigabit Ethernet port, along with the promise of general-purpose input-output (GPIO) capability that shines: as well as eight buffered pins for easy experimentation, the MinnowBoard Max includes a low-speed expansion port offering SPI, I2C, I2S, UART, eight more GPIO pins, and power, and a high-speed port offering a PCI Express Gen. 2 lane, a further SATA 3.0Gb/s channel, a USB 2.0 port, I2C, JTAG debugging support and yet more GPIO pins.

All these features come in a cut-down footprint of 99mm x 74mm, but it’s the trimming Intel’s done elsewhere that is really eye-catching: the MinnowBoard Max is to launch in the US at $99 for the single-core or $129 for the dual-core variants (around £59 and £77 respectively, excluding taxes), meaning a starting price of around half that demanded by the original MinnowBoard.

Sadly for those salivating over the potential of the board, the MinnowBoard Max isn’t quite ready for release with Intel expecting to have the first models on shop shelves by June.

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Nvidia launches Tegra-based Jetson K1 SBC

Nvidia launches Tegra-based Jetson K1 SBC

Nvidia’s Tegra K1 processor forms the heart of the Jetson K1, a new hobbyist-targeted single-board computer from the graphics giant.

Nvidia has announced plans to get into the hobbyist development market with the launch of a new single-board computer based around its Tegra K1 system-on-chip (SoC) processor: the Jetson K1.

Based on a compact board layout measuring just 127mm x 127mm and 26mm in height, the Jetson K1 packs at its heart a Tegra K1 SoC boasting 192 Kepler-class graphics processing cores and the company’s traditional quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 CPU cores with a fifth low-power companion core for background tasks. 2GB of memory is included on the board, along with a 16GB eMMC flash module for local storage – expandable through an SD slot or the on-board SATA port.

The board also boasts a singular half-mini-PCIe slot, a single USB 2.0 port and a further USB 3.0 port, on-board Realtek-powered gigabit Ethernet connectivity, analogue audio input and output, an RS232 serial port, a full-size HDMI port and a 4MB boot flash module. An expansion port also offers a number of general-purpose input-output (GPIO) connections, along with serial UART, I2C, HSIC, SPI, CSI and DisplayPort or LVDS digital video outputs.

Zotac has confirmed that it will be bringing the Jetson K1 to the UK, but has yet to announce availability and pricing. Nvidia’s US arm, meanwhile, is taking pre-orders for the device in North America for $192 (around £116 excluding taxes) – making it a significantly pricier alternative to the popular, although considerably less powerful, Raspberry Pi.

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Unreal Engine 4 subscription model announced by Epic

Unreal Engine 4 subscription model announced by Epic

Epic Games announced the engine’s subscription model during its GDC press conference.

Epic Games has released its Unreal Engine 4 on a subscription bases for developers.

Previously only available to be licensed for millions of dollars, the popular engine will be accessible for $19 a month with a flat 5% royalty fee payable on any game sales on products powered by the engine.

The subscription will grant access to the full C++ source code which will be downloadable from GitHub and developers will be able to create games for PC, Mac, iOS and Android systems. Console support has not been included in the initial release but may come later depending on the deals Epic can strike with Microsoft and Sony.

The move aims to bring Unreal Engine to a much wider audience whereas before it was only viable to the largest triple-A developers and publishers.

‘We’re rethinking our whole business in how we make Unreal Engine available to individuals and to teams,’ said Epic Games co-founder and chief executive Tim Sweeney talking at GDC. ‘This is a bold new step for Epic, but we think it’s an appropriate one given the new size of the games industry. It’s grown into a very open one, where absolutely anyone can develop a game and ship it.’

Developers are not required to sign up for any fixed term for the subscription and are welcome to drop in and out. A cancelled subscription will mean developers can still access the development tools but just won’t receive any of the updates from Epic.

Epic warns that Unreal Engine 4 requires a significantly powerful desktop computer, and is also still rough round the edges. Anyone expecting a more polished product is asked to ‘check back in 6 months’.

Check out the Unreal Engine 4 in action below.

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Crytek to add AMD Mantle support to CryEngine

Crytek to add AMD Mantle support to CryEngine

Upcoming game Star Citizen is based on CryEngine 4.

AMD has announced it has partnered with Crytek to add Mantle support to the game developer’s game engine, CryEngine.

CryEngine is used both in Crytek’s own games like Crysis as well as in several third party titles such as the recently released Ryse: Son of Rome and the highly anticipated upcoming space exploration game, Star Citizen. With support at the engine level the performance enhancements of Mantle should be very easy to integrate into these games.

Although originally billed as a boon for owners of AMD graphics cards, Mantle has proved largely to be an advantage on the CPU side, easing situations where a system is CPU bottlenecked. Nonetheless performance enhancements can also be found for high-end systems running both powerful CPUs and GPUs, with games such as Battlefield 4 and Thief seeing around 5-10fps improvements with Mantle enhancements.

Announcing the deal, Ritche Corpus, director of ISV gaming and alliances, AMD said, “AMD is delighted to bring Mantle support to the enormous audience of gamers and game developers reached by Crytek’s CRYENGINE.”

“Together, AMD and Crytek are forging a path for the graphics industry that better utilises gamers’ advanced AMD GPUs through ‘closer-to-the-metal’ API design, ” he continued.

Crytek’s Founder, CEO President, Cevat Yerli, also added that “Crytek prides itself on enabling CRYENGINE with the latest and most impressive rendering capabilities. By integrating AMD’s new Mantle API, CRYENGINE will gain a dimension of ‘lower level’ hardware access that enables extraordinary efficiency, performance and hardware control.”

There is no word yet on when the integration will be completed so it could still be some way off.

AMD Evolved adds three new partners

In other AMD news, the company has announced it is working with three new partners in its Gaming Evolved developer relations program. These are Rebellion Development (sniper Elite III), Square Enix (Murdered: Soul Suspect) and Xaviant (Lichdom).

Each of the companies has made a slightly different commitment to the program with Rebellion Development signing up to use AMD Mantle in its’ upcoming game Sniper Elite III, Square Enix outlining no specific commitments and Xaviant lining up to use AMD’s TressFX and TrueAudio technologies.

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Voice is not enough: Motion is key to Android Wear

Forget poetry, the future is wearables in motion.


Google and Motorola rolled out their joint vision of Android Wear, the Moto 360, and the future of wearables on Tuesday. (LG also gave us a taste of its upcoming G Watch.) Based on the few videos and all the information released for developers, it appears that Google’s wearable platform is a fancy port of Google Now “cards” and voice control in a pretty spiffy, new form factor.

While this is the focus of the developer preview out this week, don’t be fooled.
Android Wear will be much more than just some full-faced watches that respond to speech, taps, and swipes. For the past few years now, Google has been telegraphing that it is much more interested in how we ambulate our entire bodies, not just our index fingers and vocal cords.

Last August, I went to New York to get my hands on the much-hyped Moto X. I spent a few weeks with a review unit and then sent it back and moved on to demo the other anticipated Android phones of the season — like the Nexus 5. But when it came time for me to put my money where my mouth was and buy my next daily use device a few months later, I went with the already slightly aged and less powerful Moto X.

What sold me on the
Moto X was its integration of a few features that are almost certainly heading for the Moto 360 and likely other Android Wear devices — touchless control and activity recognition, and the seamless marriage of voice control and contextual awareness that still is not really offered on any other device.

Normally, my Moto X has an “active display” function that pulses on and off to show me the time and any new notifications. I can touch the screen to get more details on new notifications. That is, unless the phone is face down or in my pocket — then it doesn’t pulse on at all to conserve battery life. So, flipping my phone down and then back up is a very easy way to see new notifications with a flip of the wrist.

Hmmm. What other form factor might benefit from responding to such motion?

Get a move on
The Moto X also was among the first phones to take advantage of a new activity-recognition feature that lives in Location Services in Android and can discern if a user is walking, driving, or standing still, among other states. The Android Wear developer preview encourages programmers to become familiar with using activity detection and even geofencing to trigger contextual notifications on wearables. For example, if your phone detects that you’re riding a bike, apps could automatically forward all notifications to the Wear-powered device on your wrist.

If you still don’t think Android Wear is about motion and gestures as much as talking and tapping, take another look at Google’s own introductory video. There’s a rather comical scene in which a woman sprints to catch a plane, and her smartwatch detects the activity and automatically estimates how many calories she just burned; or the woman whose watch detects that she’s dancing and offers to look up the song that’s playing.

This last one in particular took me back to the floors of CES in Las Vegas this year where wearables abounded. Some of the more impressive devices were those that made use of programmable gestures. A small device called Kiwi demonstrated how it can be programmed to perform the same Shazam-like action when the user draws a musical note in the air — this is perhaps a little more intuitive than having to get jiggy with it anytime you’re curious about the title of a song.

And Google has clearly demonstrated that it is interested in merging gestures with contextual awareness as much as it is in getting us to speak to it no matter where we are.

In addition to its work on activity recognition in Android and with Motorola, Google recently bought a small Swiss app developer called Bitspin that is best known for making Timely, an Android app that is really a fancy alarm clock and makes use of — you guessed it — motion detection and gestures. What a, uh, “timely” acquisition that was for Google to make in the months leading up to the reveal of Android Wear.

Android Wear unveiled: LG G Watch and Moto 360 (pictures)

Expect Android Wear to ultimately go even further than simply responding to the flick of a wrist and figuring out if you’re walking or biking. In the full SDK, Google plans to introduce the ability to gather more sensor data. Android APIs currently include support for not just harvesting data from a phone’s accelerometer, but also from a gyroscope, and sensors for temperature, light, pressure, proximity, humidity, rotation, linear acceleration, and even magnetic fields.

That’s a whole lot of context that would be all the more powerful when paired with an arsenal of gestures.

Dick Tracy had part of the equation right — a good wearable needs to be able to be spoken to, but to be truly smart, understanding body language is just as important.

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3D-printed corset wraps model in revisionist Eden

3D printed fashion
Lori Grunin/CNET)

Multimaterial is going to be the next big thing in 3D printing, allowing for multiple colours and materials in a single print session. And 3D-printing company Stratasys is right in the vanguard with its Objet500 Connex3, unveiled in January.

The printer has three nozzles, which makes it possible to print in three materials at the same time — or three different colours, cyan, magenta and yellow, for an entire rainbow of colour options.

What could you do with such a printer? Well, the potential options are amazing. But perhaps an artist is the best person to showcase just how beautiful 3D printing can be. Michaella Janse van Vuuren, a South African artist, designer, and engineer, has used the Objet500 Connex3 to create a range of fashion accessories in a collection she calls the Garden of Eden — a subverted version of the biblical myth in which, she says, the woman is free and powerful.

“This is the first time that I’m using a 3D printing technology that truly allows me to make something so close to an end product,” van Vuuren said in a Stratasys statement. “The ability to combine rigid and flexible materials in one piece is something that is so rare, and introducing color into the process inspires us creatives to think in a whole new way.”

3D-printed shoes

The collection consists of some truly gorgeous pieces: a stained-glass-inspired corset based on the Tree of Knowledge, made of three different rubbery materials in clear, solid black, and pink-hued plastic, fitted using body-scanning technology; several pairs of shoes based on the serpent, with the snake forming the heel from rigid material and a more flexible upper; a serpent belt from multihued rubber material; and fish bracelets made from both rigid and flexible materials.

“Depicting the water features in the Garden of Eden, the Fish in Lilies bracelet explores rigid mechanical solutions to bend the bracelet around the wrist while the Fish in Coral piece experiments with different material properties to create a more rubbery part,” van Vuuren explained.

Van Vuuren has not mentioned whether she will be selling the collection on her Web site, or whether it is an art piece not meant for consumer release, but Garden of Eden is only the beginning — not only for van Vuuren, but for an entire new generation of 3D-printed design.

3D-printed shoes
Lori Grunin/CNET)

“I have only scratched the surface of the possibilities with the Objet500 Connex3 3D Printer,” concluded van Vuuren. “Not only does this technology replace traditional methods of fashion manufacturing, it enables one to manufacture in a completely new way. The ability to include different material properties and beautiful jewel-like colours in a single print run is absolutely ground-breaking. Like paint on a canvas, this 3D printer is a powerful tool for engineering and creative expression — I cannot wait to see the objects that this technology will enable.”

(Source: CNET Australia)

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