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AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle

AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle

AMD is today extending its Never Settle Forever bundle to include more games and cards


AMD is today rolling out an update to its Never Settle Forever bundle, promising more titles and variety as well as availability with a wider range of its graphics hardware.

The Never Settle Forever bundle is AMD’s ongoing promotion, whereby purchasers of certain AMD graphics cards from participating retailers are eligible for up to three free games, as well as a few other bonuses.

The company claims that this latest update is a response both to customer demand for more and newer titles as well as to the fact that the previous bundles were a few months out of date and did not incorporate the full range of AMD’s latest cards.

As you can see, everything from the R7 240 series up to the mighty R9 295X2 is now included in the promotion. The tiered system of bronze, silver and gold (one, two and three free games respectively) is being maintained. Users will need an R7 260 or R9 270 series card to qualify for the silver tier, while only those who buy an R9 280 series card or higher are eligible for the gold one.

AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle *AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle
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While games from the previous offer are being carried over, AMD is adding a number of new and unreleased ones to the lineup from which users can pick. Thief, AMD’s TrueAudio launch title and the latest Mantle-compatible game, was recently added, and will continue to be offered in both the gold and silver tiers. Murdered: Soul Suspect, which is a few months out, is now also available for the gold and silver tiers – users will receive the code upon the game’s release. It doesn’t support Mantle, but will have AMD optimised technologies, much some other recent Square Enix titles like Tomb Raider and Deux Ex: Human Revolution.

AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle *AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle
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Also introduced as of today are a selection of indie titles, a first for a graphics card package. Guacamelee!, Dyad, The Banner Saga and Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack are the current choices. It’s also worth noting that for each game choice you have (i.e. two in the silver tier) you’re able to pick two indie games.

Other new additions include what AMD is referring to as classic titles. For these, AMD is working closely with developers who have optimised their game codes for AMD hardware, and offering a selection of games released in the past few years which users may have missed at the time.

AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle *AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle
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The full list of the current 21 games and their global availability is listed below – in case where games aren’t available, AMD ensures us it’s due to regional availability issues rather than their own program.

AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle *AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle
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Finally, each tier of the Never Settle Forever bundle comes with some extra bonus offers. First is a key code for three months’ free use of Splashtop, which lets you stream games from a PC to mobile devices over your home network. Next up is $10 off the AMD Radeon RAMDISK 64GB software, and lastly is the AMD Operator Bundle for the free-to-play game FireFall, which includes some exclusive armour and equipment.

AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle *AMD updates its Never Settle Forever bundle
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The Never Settle Forever codes will be delivered physically or digitally, depending on the retailer and board partner in question. The coupon is good for a single transaction only – you must select all of your games at once. The reason this is relevant is that AMD has promised to continue updating the selection, so it may pay off to wait to redeem your code. The current codes are valid until August 31 2014.

What do you think of the updated Never Settle Forever package? Has such a package ever been the deciding factor in your GPU purchases? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

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CM Storm QuickFire XT Review

CM Storm QuickFire XT Review

Manufacturer: CM Storm
UK price (as reviewed):
£64.82 (inc VAT)
UK price (as reviewed): $89.99 (ex Tax)

The last keyboard we saw from Cooler Master’s gaming-focussed offshoot, CM Storm, was the QuickFire TK Stealth. It was an unusual keyboard in that it used a non-standard layout and stealth keys, where the symbols are found on the front rather than the top of the keys. Despite a good few weeks of use, we struggled to get to grips with it, and found ourselves yearning for a regular key layout. It did spark a healthy debate on the subject in our forums, highlighting if anything just how subjective an experience keyboards provide, and that there will never be a perfect keyboard for everyone.

*CM Storm QuickFire XT Review CM Storm QuickFire XT Review
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With us today is another in CM Storm’s QuickFire range, the QuickFire XT, and unlike the TK Stealth it uses a standard layout, so UK users get a full 105 keys, and the keycaps are also the regular variety, with laser etched symbols on the top face. This lends it the benefit of being instantly familiar, though it’s not as small as tenkeyless or TK layout boards. That said, it is about as small as it could be, thanks to a very thin bezel – there’s no excess plastic above, below or to the sides of the keys, but if the 440mm width is still too much you’ll need to consider layouts that use less keys.

*CM Storm QuickFire XT Review CM Storm QuickFire XT Review
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Despite costing just £65, which is very good considering it uses 105 Cherry MX switches, build quality hasn’t been sacrificed. It’s not particularly exciting to look at, but the QuickFire XT is sturdy and feels very durable, and it tips the scales at over 1kg. The outer plastic shell is solid and thick, and the keyboard is reinforced by a steel plate too, so there’s little bend to it even when you apply excessive pressure. The keys are embedded within the chassis, so it won’t be as easy to clean as Corsair’s K70, for example, which uses raised keys.

*CM Storm QuickFire XT Review CM Storm QuickFire XT Review
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The braided USB cable with gold plasted connectors is detachable, but there are no cable channels beneath the board. A PS/2 adaptor is supplied, and in this mode the QuickFire XT supports full n-key rollover. No driver or software is required (nor available), but the board runs natively at a 1,000Hz polling rate. Through a combination of the FN key and the keys on the top row of the numpad, this polling rate can switched between four levels (1,000Hz being the maximum), again when using it PS/2 mode.

*CM Storm QuickFire XT Review CM Storm QuickFire XT Review
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As you might expect at £65, the QuickFire XT is thin on additional features; there’s no extra connectivity, macro keys or wrist rest. However, the F5-F12 keys each have secondary functions courtesy of the FN key. There are seven media functions, with the F9 key reserved for the locking out the Windows keys, and there’s also an LED indicator for when this is activated. Finally, CM Storm also provides a key removal tool along with four red WASD keys and two keys with the Cooler Master/CM Storm logos on, which can be used to replace the two Windows keys.

*CM Storm QuickFire XT Review CM Storm QuickFire XT Review *CM Storm QuickFire XT Review CM Storm QuickFire XT Review
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When using the QuickFire XT, the four rubber pads on the base along with the keyboard’s hefty weight mean it stays firmly planted on your desk, even during frantic gaming sessions. Sadly, however, the two fold out legs on at the back of the keyboard have no grip, and when using them there is more of a risk of keyboard movement. This is something we’ve seen overlooked before, but even so it’s a shame given how easy it is to fix. Nevertheless, the keyboard slopes naturally upwards at a nice angle, and we found typing and gaming to be more comfortable with the legs down.

*CM Storm QuickFire XT Review CM Storm QuickFire XT Review
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Cherry MX blue switches aren’t our favourites – the click tends to irritate us and we still find it occasionally difficult to double tap with them, which is particularly noticeable in games. Typing does tend to be quick and smooth, however, thanks to the relatively light actuation force and tactile feedback. Thankfully, CM Storm offers the QuickFire TK with red, brown, black and even green switches, so there’s a good chance your preference is catered for. The rounded shape, smooth surface and slick action of the keys themselves also left us with little to complain about in that regard.

*CM Storm QuickFire XT Review CM Storm QuickFire XT Review
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There’s no backlight on the QuickFire TK, but the bright white etching does make the symbols stand out well and it’s not going to fade over time. Therefore, unless you’ll frequently be using it in almost total darkness it’s unlikely to be too much of a hindrance (it never was for us), though we know this very much comes down to personal preference.

Conclusion

With no extra features of software there’s little else left to say about the QuickFire TK. It’s well built, handles nicely and is as small as it realistically could be with 105 keys. The option to choose between five switch types is excellent too, and the standard key sizes mean they can all be easily replaced and customised. The design and feature set are hardly jaw dropping, but equally the QuickFire TK does little wrong – the main criticism we have is the lack of grip on the legs, for example. If you need USB 3 ports, audio jacks, backlighting or macro keys, you’ll want to look elsewhere, but equally you’d already know that by now. If, on the other hand, you’re after a basic and robust mechanical keyboard, the QuickFire TK could be perfect.

!–

Score

Overall 79%

Approved Award

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Antec Kühler H2O 950 Review

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review

Manufacturer: Antec
UK price (as reviewed):
£65.94
US price (as reviewed): $84.99

Of all the companies that have jumped on the all-in-one liquid cooler band wagon in the last few years, Corsair and Antec have usually been the ones to beat. Antec has ruled the roost for a while with its great software suite and awesome cooling and the Kühler H2O 920 held the top spot until Corsair’s Hydro H80i and SilverStone’s Tundra TD03 turned up.

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review
With the Kühler H20 920 now going end of life, its replacement, the Kühler H20 950 looks to fill its shoes. Like its predecessor, the Kühler H20 950 is a dual fan-wielding beast with a 50mm-thick radiator. However, where the Kühler H20 950 differs from pretty much any all-in-one that’s gone before it is the location of the pump. Instead of sitting on top of the waterblock, Antec has chosen to place the pump on top of the front fan bearing.

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review Antec Kühler H20 950 Review
It’s a slightly bizarre decision as the radiator is usually the one thing that you’ll have issues installing seeing as the waterblocks on all-in-one liquid coolers are usually so small. However, it shouldn’t make much difference to cooling seeing as the coolant temperature tends to equalise fairly quickly in most liquid cooling loops anyway. That said, there’s an awful lot of extra engineering that has to go into creating a radiator with two additional ports and four tubes so we’re glad to see the price remains competitive. In fact, the Kühler H20 950 is £5-10 cheaper than Corsair’s similar H80i.

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review Antec Kühler H20 950 Review
The front fan sports directional blades at the rear (a lot like those on SilverStone’s Air Penetrator fans), which Antec claims focus air through the radiator. The radiator itself has moderately dense fin packing and is clearly designed to work best with two fans in a push-pull setup. The rear fan is a standard 120mm type but if you’re partial to removing the stock fans and using your own premium models, this won’t be possible with the Kühler H20 950 as the front fan and pump are essentially a single-piece design.

With no pump in tow, the waterblock is exceptionally thin. However, this didn’t mean it was particularly easy to fit. Antec employs a rather fiddly mounting bracket to deal with both AMD and Intel sockets with a variety of sprung pins being used to secure it to the motherboard. However, securing these was easier said than done; we’re not usually inclined to deduct too many points here for the simple reason that you only fit your cooler once even in a span of several years. Needless to say, if you struggle for patience, Corsair’s current coolers are less inclined to have you in fits of rage.

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review Antec Kühler H20 950 Review
The centre of the waterblock illuminates depending on how toasty your CPU is. As with the Kühler H20 920, there’s a bundled application that allows you to set a user-defined, extreme or silent fan profile. Out of the box, we doubt anyone with a modern system won’t be able to use the Kühler H20 950 as its compatible with everything from LGA775 upwards on Intel motherboards plus AMD Socket AM2 upwards as well, including Socket FM2.

Specifications

  • Compatibility Intel: LGA775, LGA115x, LGA1366, LGA2011; AMD: AM3(+), AM2(+), FM2(+), FM1
  • Radiator size (mm) 120 x 159 x 50 (W x D x H)
  • Water block size (mm) approx. 70 x 70 x 26 (W x D x H)
  • Tubing length approx. 300mm
  • Fan(s) 2 x 120mm, 600-2,400RPM
  • Stated NoiseNot stated

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Web hit by OpenSSL ‘Heartbleed’ vulnerability

Web hit by OpenSSL 'Heartbleed' vulnerability

Versions of cryptographic library OpenSSL since 2012 are vulnerable to the ‘Heartbleed Bug,’ which allows an attacker to silently steal the contents of system memory.


Security researchers have released details of a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic library which exposes encrypted internet services to information disclosure attacks.

Continuing a terrible year for information security, what with the verification flaw in GnuTLS and Apple’s infamous goto fail bug, the OpenSSL project has confirmed that versions of its software since 2011 have held a serious vulnerability which has been dubbed the ‘Heartbleed Bug,’ and which can be used to read a system’s memory remotely – gathering secret keys which can then be used to decrypt previously-transmitted information.

It’s a serious flaw; OpenSSL is the standard library for driving SSL and TLS encryption in a variety of software packages and information appliances; Apache and nginx, two of the most popular server packages around accounting for an estimated 66 per cent of all web servers, use OpenSSL; the library is also commonly used in other encrypted systems such as virtual private network (VPN) appliances, point-of-sale (PoS) systems and messaging servers.

The Heartbleed Bug works by exploiting the heartbeat extension of the Transport Security Layer (TLS) protocol; attackers are able to read unlimited system memory in 64KB chunks, with exploitation leaving no trace on the system. These memory chunks can be reassembled and analysed to gather usernames, passwords, encryption keys, and other privileged information which should not be exposed to the public.

The OpenSSL project has confirmed that the code responsible for the flaw has been present in its software since 2011 and available to the public since the release of OpenSSL 1.0.1 in March 2012. Since then, the 1.0.1 branch has become widespread, shipping by default with numerous operating systems including Ubuntu Linux and OpenBSD. While the project has released a fixed version, OpenSSL 1.0.1g, this will take time to distribute – leaving servers with less proactive admins vulnerable to attack.

Ironically, those who have not upgraded in a while may be protected against the flaw: the older OpenSSL 1.0.0 and 0.9.8 branches are unaffected, having been frozen before the bug was introduced.

More details of the flaw are available at Heartbleed.com.

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Antec Kühler H20 950 Review

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review

Manufacturer: Antec
UK price (as reviewed):
£65.94
US price (as reviewed): $84.99

Of all the companies that have jumped on the all-in-one liquid cooler band wagon in the last few years, Corsair and Antec have usually been the ones to beat. Antec has ruled the roost for a while with its great software suite and awesome cooling and the Kühler H2O 920 held the top spot until Corsair’s Hydro H80i and SilverStone’s Tundra TD03 turned up.

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review
With the Kühler H20 920 now going end of life, its replacement, the Kühler H20 950 looks to fill its shoes. Like its predecessor, the Kühler H20 950 is a dual fan-wielding beast with a 50mm-thick radiator. However, where the Kühler H20 950 differs from pretty much any all-in-one that’s gone before it is the location of the pump. Instead of sitting on top of the waterblock, Antec has chosen to place the pump on top of the front fan bearing.

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review Antec Kühler H20 950 Review
It’s a slightly bizarre decision as the radiator is usually the one thing that you’ll have issues installing seeing as the waterblocks on all-in-one liquid coolers are usually so small. However, it shouldn’t make much difference to cooling seeing as the coolant temperature tends to equalise fairly quickly in most liquid cooling loops anyway. That said, there’s an awful lot of extra engineering that has to go into creating a radiator with two additional ports and four tubes so we’re glad to see the price remains competitive. In fact, the Kühler H20 950 is £5-10 cheaper than Corsair’s similar H80i.

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review Antec Kühler H20 950 Review
The front fan sports directional blades at the rear (a lot like those on SilverStone’s Air Penetrator fans), which Antec claims focus air through the radiator. The radiator itself has moderately dense fin packing and is clearly designed to work best with two fans in a push-pull setup. The rear fan is a standard 120mm type but if you’re partial to removing the stock fans and using your own premium models, this won’t be possible with the Kühler H20 950 as the front fan and pump are essentially a single-piece design.

With no pump in tow, the waterblock is exceptionally thin. However, this didn’t mean it was particularly easy to fit. Antec employs a rather fiddly mounting bracket to deal with both AMD and Intel sockets with a variety of sprung pins being used to secure it to the motherboard. However, securing these was easier said than done; we’re not usually inclined to deduct too many points here for the simple reason that you only fit your cooler once even in a span of several years. Needless to say, if you struggle for patience, Corsair’s current coolers are less inclined to have you in fits of rage.

Antec Kühler H20 950 Review Antec Kühler H20 950 Review
The centre of the waterblock illuminates depending on how toasty your CPU is. As with the Kühler H20 920, there’s a bundled application that allows you to set a user-defined, extreme or silent fan profile. Out of the box, we doubt anyone with a modern system won’t be able to use the Kühler H20 950 as its compatible with everything from LGA775 upwards on Intel motherboards plus AMD Socket AM2 upwards as well, including Socket FM2.

Specifications

  • Compatibility Intel: LGA775, LGA115x, LGA1366, LGA2011; AMD: AM3(+), AM2(+), FM2(+), FM1
  • Radiator size (mm) 120 x 159 x 50 (W x D x H)
  • Water block size (mm) approx. 70 x 70 x 26 (W x D x H)
  • Tubing length approx. 300mm
  • Fan(s) 2 x 120mm, 600-2,400RPM
  • Stated NoiseNot stated

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Imogen Heap’s magical music gloves make for handmade beats

Mi.Mu Gloves

Mi.Mu gloves imbue their wearers with wizard-like musical powers.


(Credit:
Mi.Mu)

Grammy-winning British artist Imogen Heap says she’s always been a bit frustrated by not being able to navigate computers and mixing boards with the same fluidity other musicians can play more traditional instruments. To solve this, she’s “joined forces with the nerd underworld, creating musical gloves using new sensor technology allowing me to compose and perform music with computers in an intuitive way.”

We first reported on the gloves back in 2011 when Heap debuted them at a TED conference. Now, the artist and her team of engineers and scientists are seeking funding for their “Mi.Mu gloves” through a Kickstarter campaign seeking to raise £200,000 (about $330,000 USD) to bring the technology to the masses.

According to the fundraising page, the gloves will work along with popular music software programs to translate body movements to music thanks to embedded sensors. “Imagine,” the site says, “that instead of turning up a fader in order to bring in a sound or add reverb, you could be raising your arms to achieve the same effect. Or to move a sound around the room, you could simply point where you want it to be.”

Not only do the gloves promise to make electronically generated music more intuitive, they should also make it more fun to watch as artists swoop around the stage conducting all those zeros and ones with their hands rather than sitting behind decks of equipment. Speaking of which, gloved artists will also have an easier time moving equipment around since making music could be done with only the gloves and a laptop, as long as they can plug into a venue’s sound system.

The gloves will recognize a variety of hand gestures, including flexed fingers and sharp movements such as those made when playing a kicking set of air drums. They have holes where the palms are to allow for hand claps and cut-off tips to allow the wearer to play other instruments. Best of all, when you wear them you have wizard-like musical powers.

I could tell you more about the gloves, but really, who wants to read more when they can listen to some amazing “handmade” music in this video of the gloves in action?

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Crucial M550 SSD 512GB Review

Crucial M550 SSD 512GB Review

Manufacturer: Crucial
UK price (as reviewed):
MSRP £241.50 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): MSRP £$336.99 (ex Tax)

When we looked at the Crucial M500 we found it to be a decent SSD with a host of handy features rarely found in consumer drives, though its performance wasn’t chart topping. Just six months ago its price was £270, which was pretty affordable for a 480GB drive. Now, however, it can be found for just £170 – a fantastic price no doubt, but one which may have something to do with today’s launch of the M550 SSD. The new 512GB drive has a suggested retail price of £240, but naturally it may be lower than this at retailers. For reference, the SSD 840 Evo 500GB is as low as £200 now, but more professional 512GB drives are closer to £300.

As with the M500, the M550 will be available in mSATA and M.2 form factors with no performance deficit, though the 1TB drive is reserved for the standard 2.5-inch form factor. The 7mm tall drive comes with a spacer for 9mm bays, with no other accessories or software provided.

READ MORE: SSD and HDD Reviews

Crucial M550 SSD 512GB Review Crucial M550 SSD 512GB Review
Click to enlarge
As you can see, the 512GB drive along with the 1TB one has the best performance of the range. Over the 480GB M500, sequential read and write speeds are up by 50MB/sec and 100MB/sec, while random read and write speeds (at 32 queue-depth) have increased by 15,000 and 5,000 IOPS respectively.

The M550 is again powered by a Marvell controller running custom firmware, though it’s been upgraded from the 88SS9187 to the 88SS9189. Information on the eight-channel 9189 controller is scarce, but according to Crucial it has more bandwidth and allows for better programming efficiency, both of which contribute to the increased performance. It also now supports low-power DRAM, and indeed the 512MB cache is now of the LP-DDR3 variety, so it consumes less power than before and also happens to be a bit faster too. As with the M500, DEVSLP is also supported, with Crucial reporting that its drive typically consumes just 3mW in this ultra low power state, which is particularly beneficial to portable users and in stark contrast to Intel’s latest SSDs, for instance.

As well as standard ATA AES 256-bit encryption support, the M550 also meets the TGC Opal 2.0 and IEEE-1667 standards of hardware level encryption. This means the drive again meets Microsoft’s eDrive protocol, and the encryption is more secure and has less of a performance penalty than the ATA method, which also requires a password to be set within the BIOS in order to work.

Adaptive Thermal Protection, which automatically throttles performance when the drive detects that it has risen too far above its rated operating temperature (0°C – 70°C), is again present. At 78°C, write speeds fall to around 150MB/sec, and will continue to fall if temperatures continue to rise, with read speeds affected too. DRAM refresh rates are simultaneously increased to provide additional data integrity, and the drive will remain throttled until it reaches 65°C again. While unlikely to be an issue for desktop users, high performance gaming notebooks may be at risk of exceeding the operating temperatures, though a thermal pad connects the controller and cache to the SSD’s metal chassis to aid cooling.

Crucial M550 SSD 512GB Review
Click to enlarge – The rear of the PCB houses eight of the sixteen IMFT NAND packages
As you’d expect, the M550 uses Micron NAND, specifically the IMFT 20nm MLC variety, which is the same as that in the M500. In the higher capacities, 128Gbit dies are used, and in the 512GB model there are two of these in each of the sixteen NAND packages, and four per controller channel. 64Gbit dies are used in the 128GB and 256GB models to increase the number of dies per channel and thus increase performance. In terms of endurance, the M550 is again rated for around 40GB/day of host writes for five years (72TB total), and it carries the same three year limited warranty.

The move from rounded capacities (480GB) to power-of-two ones (512GB) equates to an increase in available capacity. This usually decreases performance and endurance, but with the M550 this isn’t the case since the additional spare area in the M500 was used exclusively for RAIN (Redundant Array of Independent NAND), another feature carried over from Micron’s enterprise business. Essentially, as user data is written, the M550 calculates and writes parity data to the NAND with a minimal performance penalty. This parity data block can then be used by the RAIN algorithms to restore the user data associated with it in the event of an unrecoverable error. In this sense it’s similar to the distributed parity of a RAID 5 array.

Crucial M550 SSD 512GB Review
Click to enlarge – The front of the PCB is home to the controller and cache as well as the capacitors that protect the drive against power failure
The reason that the M550 has more usable capacity is simply because the ratio of data to parity blocks has increased from 15:1 to 127:1, so there are now more data elements associated with each parity element. This ratio is fixed and cannot be altered. While the lowered parity technically means less reliability, Crucial says that the maturation of its 20nm NAND manufacturing process means that the drive still meets the same reliability targets, while the M500 with its lower ratio is now considered reliable enough to be used in certain data centre applications (which far exceed the endurance requirements of personal storage).

The final feature of note is the M550′s power loss protection. Only 2-4MB of user data is ever stored in the large cache at one time (the rest is used to manage the NAND address table). In the event of sudden power loss, the series of capacitors on the PCB should power the drive long enough for this data to be flushed to NAND. Intel uses a similar method in its SSD 730 and the feature was also present in the M500.

Specifications

Interface: SATA 6Gbps
Nominal capacity: 512GB
Formatted capacity: 476.94GB
Controller: Marvell 88SS9189
Cache: 512MB LP-DDR3
Memory type/amount: 32 x 128Gbit IMFT 20nm MLC NAND dies (16 x 32GB packages)
Endurance rating: ~40GB/day for five years (72TB total)
Warranty: Three years

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‘Game of Thrones’ math: How many dragons could a dire wolf eat?

Definitely cooler than a condor, Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons would nonetheless taste pretty good to a dire wolf.


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET)

Possible spoilers ahead if you’re not through with the third season: With the fourth season of “Game of Thrones” imminent, there are a lot of questions in the air (especially if, like me, you haven’t read the books). Will the khaleesi finally make it to Westeros to capture the Iron Throne? Will the Starks in the diaspora ever find each other again? Will winter ever actually come? And will someone finally beat the royal stuffing out of Joffrey?

But I’ve been giving thought to a particularly pesky question that I’m sure hordes of fans are dying to know. (OK, probably not, but it’s certainly a question that’s crossed my random-factoid-focused science brain). It began when I started thinking about what would happen if Robb Stark ever met up with Daenerys Targaryen (which of course, can never happen now with Robb being all dead and whatnot). While some might think my ponderings might have turned to the beautiful offspring that surely would have resulted if those two ever got together, I had a much different question in mind: How many Targaryen dragons could a Stark dire wolf eat per year if it got its fangs on them? To find out, I embarked on some very scientific research.


dire wolf

Robb Stark with his dire wolf Grey Wind. Looks hungry, doesn’t it?


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET )

To begin my investigation, I grabbed the screenshot you see to the right from a YouTube clip featuring Robb Stark. In this particular scene, he’s got his dire wolf, Grey Wind, next to him in an effort to scare the piss out of Jaime Lannister. (If you ask me, it worked. But I digress.) Robb Stark is played by actor Richard Madden, who, I found out thanks to a quick Google search, is 5 feet 11 inches tall.

To determine the actor’s approximate inseam height, I reached out to Max Berlinger, a men’s fashion writer for Esquire magazine. “Honestly, I have no way to gauge this. I wish I could be more helpful, but this is a puzzle,” Berlinger said. However, he did say that if he had to make a guess — and a guess only — he’d put it at 32 inches, which is pretty standard for a man of Madden’s size. Because I am the same height as Madden (and share a certain rugged set of good looks as him, but I again I digress), and have a 32-inch inseam, I went with that. Science at its best.

So if Robb Stark’s inseam is 32 inches and the wolf is standing a little more than a foot above that, let’s put Grey Wind’s height at 46 inches.

Next up was a question for Rolf Peterson, a research professor at Michigan Technological University who has studied wolf-prey relationships at Isle Royale National Park for more than 40 years. He told me that if we’re assuming a dire wolf is approximately 150 percent bigger than a regular wolf (which it would be at the height we’ve estimated), he would approximate its food needs at 25 deer per year. The average weight of a white-tailed deer, according to the Adirondack Ecological Center, is 203 pounds.

OK, now to convert deer to dragons.

To do so, I looked to the bird kingdom. I know I could have used something more reptilian, but considering that dragons have to be able to fly, I thought a bird was a better analogy. Plus, birds are relatives of dinosaurs and all that, so there you go. (See, very scientific). I went with the Andean condor, one of the largest flying birds in the world. I could have chosen the wandering albatross (also a big bird), but the condor just looks a little more badass, it can live up to 100 years, and likes cliffs. All dragon-like qualities if you ask me. Plus, it’s a heavy sucker — the adults weigh up to 33 pounds, according to National Geographic.

So let’s say that at the end of the third season, the khaleesi’s dragons are about the size of a full-grown condor, with 10-foot wingspans. It kind of looks right based on the above screen grab from the epic scene in which the khaleesi unleashes her beast (and her completely captivating knowledge of Valyrian).

That would mean there are about 6 dragons to one deer. If a dire wolf eats 25 deer per year, that results in an annual adolescent dragon dietary need of 150, or almost three of the flying lizards per week. I’m not sure which variety the wolves would prefer, but I’d go for the red ones as I tend to like spicy food. Of course, there’s the question of a dire wolf even catching a dragon (and the fact that the Targaryen dragons are going to get just a little bit bigger), but I’ll leave those investigations to a researcher wiser than me.

Now that that’s settled, you can pay tribute by leaving your undying thanks for solving such a critical and nagging riddle related to “Game of Thrones” in the comments below. I promise not to get a Joffrey-like swelled head.

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10,000 free folding microscopes traded for inspiring ideas


(Credit:
Prakash Lab/TED)

The Foldscope — a low-cost microscope that can be constructed like origami out of a sheet of paper with components embedded — has the potential to revolutionize health care in developing countries — but it has the potential to do something else, too.

Creator Manu Prakash of Stanford University’s Prakash Lab wants to inspire a new generation of up-and-coming young scientists. To this end, he has created the Ten Thousand Microscope Project. Prakash will be giving away 10,000 Foldscopes to “people who would like to test the microscopes in a variety of settings and help us generate an open-source biology/microscopy field manual written by people from all walks of life.”




(Credit:
Prakash Lab/TED)

“Many children around the world have never used a microscope, even in developed countries like the United States,” Prakash said. “A universal program providing a microscope for every child could foster deep interest in science at an early age.”

The idea is to create a guide that will show examples of how to use the microscope, collated from the field testers, who may have unique perspectives and use the Foldscope in ways that others might not even imagine, thus inspiring other Foldscope users.

To sign up, users have to send an email to the address listed here, detailing the community they belong to and at least one thing they would like to do with the Foldscope. Experiments will need to be documented in a way that makes them replicable by anyone. The Foldscopes will be shipped this year to the applicants judged to have the best ideas.

“My dream is that someday, every kid will have a Foldscope in their back pocket,” Prakash said.

(Source: Crave Australia)

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Smells like terrier spirit: ‘First Sniff’ spoofs ‘First Kiss’ video


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET)

First there were strangers kissing each other on video, then were there strangers of the canine variety sniffing each other.

And while the former, “First Kiss,” quickly went viral before viewers enchanted with its supposed raw emotion discovered it was an ad promoting a new fashion line, the parody “First Sniff” may actually give us all a moment to paws and appreciate something truly charming — pups that just want to say hello.

In “First Sniff,” created by ad agency Mother London, the highly attractive models, musicians, and actors from filmmaker Tatiana Pilieva’s arty “First Kiss” video are replaced with adorable dogs wagging their tails and greeting each other in the traditional way.

“We tried to get some dogs to kiss for the first time…” Mother London says in its video. And canines of all kinds obliged with delightful reactions that it almost puts the human video to shame.

There’s even a sleek and slender dog wearing his cone of shame who still manages to captivate a petite pooch and give a sniff. Greyhounds, cocker spaniels, terriers, and mutts of many breeds sit, lick faces, sniff furry butts, and give more longing looks than a Jane Austen film.

Of course, “First Sniff” is only one of the parodies that sprung up after the Internet got infatuated with the kiss video and then found out it might not have been as innocent of a human experiment as it first seemed. One spoof features interactions between cats, and another between frisky humans. Still another shows Brits “who definitely aren’t super confident, hot American models,” kissing for the first time.

But we can’t help but adore the puppy-love one most. Love at first sight isn’t so far-fetched after all.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/BaRxgKkbVKc/