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Researchers Develop Solid But Flexible Electrolyte For Bendable Batteries

Yarhj Why do we need flexible phones? (41 comments)

I've seen flexible phones given as the justification for dozens of research projects over the last few years, but does anyone actually want them? I have no real need or desire to roll my phone up and put it in my pocket -- it would just fit worse than it does now. I'd much rather have a battery that lasts through an entire day.

about a year and a half ago
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US Attorney Chided Swartz On Day of Suicide

Yarhj Petition to remove the DA (656 comments)

A lot of people are outraged over the prosecutorial overreach in this case (and, by extension, the tradition of prosecutorial overreach in most cases prosecuted by the federal government), and a petition has popped up to remove the DA in charge of this case: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/remove-united-states-district-attorney-carmen-ortiz-office-overreach-case-aaron-swartz/RQNrG1Ck

It's a start, though what I'd really like to see is some proper judicial reform, so we can bring some sanity to the judicial system.

Links to the Ars coverage of this story:
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/01/internet-pioneer-and-information-activist-takes-his-own-life/
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/01/family-blames-us-attorneys-for-death-of-aaron-swartz/

about a year and a half ago
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"Self-Healing" NAND Flash Memory That Can Survive Over 100 Million Cycles

Yarhj High temp but low energy (76 comments)

This story has popped up a few places already, and 90% of the comments are always "800C! But what if it catches fire?"

Yes, the floating gate is heated to 800C, but the volume of the heated area is on the order of a few hundred cubic nanometers. The energy involved in heating a volume that small is, well, incredibly small, and dissipates rapidly into rest of the chip. Your flash memory will not burst into flame. It will not require significantly more energy from your battery, and it will not require special clearance from the TSA to bring it on a plane.

The real challenge here is not coping with high temperatures, but rather balancing the increase in cell lifetime with the increase in die size. If the 100 million cycles number is completely accurate, then there's not much question that this technology will make its way into a lot of flash, but if that upside is only for a few (or even most) of the bits on a die, then things get more complicated

For more info run through the comments from the Ars Technica writeup of the same story: http://arstechnica.com/science/2012/11/nand-flash-gets-baked-lives-longer/

about 2 years ago
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Research Discovery Could Revolutionize Semiconductor Manufacturing

Yarhj Re:Possibly useful, but not for logic devices (64 comments)

Replying to myself with a few clarifications because previewing my post three times is clearly not enough.

0. I forgot a sentence somehow. After the second paragraph, imagine I said "Conversely, the new method is like the industrial bakery -- there's a constant stream of nanowires being manufactured at high speed, and you don't have to wait for an oven to cool down, remove your wafers full of nanowires, then wait for the oven to heat all the way back up before starting another batch.

1. For some reason I decided that the nanowires reported here were metallic -- they are actually III-V semiconductors. Most of what I wrote above still applies, though to get the same plasmonic properties of metallic nanostructures you'd have to dope the nanowires pretty heavily (and even then you'd just wish you were using a metal). Semiconducting nanowires also have interesting optical properties, so if you're not interested in the details you can get away with just doing s/metallic/semiconducting/ on my post.

In more detail, though both metallic and semiconducting nanowires have abnormal optical properties, the mechanisms are different - semiconducting nanowires have very sharp jumps in their absorption spectra due to quantum mechanical confinement (in short: electrons in the structure can only take on certain energy values, so only photons of a particular energy can be absorbed. That's not entirely true, of course, because the electrons in nanowires aren't actually confined in every direction so the absorption features get spread out), whereas metallic nanorods have weird absorption, reflection, and transmission due to the coupling of the electric fields of incident photons to the electrons on the surface of the metal. You can still get plasmonic effects from semiconductors, but they're generally much weaker as the free electron concentration is just that much lower.

about 2 years ago
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Research Discovery Could Revolutionize Semiconductor Manufacturing

Yarhj Possibly useful, but not for logic devices (64 comments)

This article wins today's coveted "Most Hyperbolic Headline" award. First off, here's the actual link, for those of you with access to Nature: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature11652.html

To understand what the big deal is here, compare baking cookies in your house to a fancy industrial setup: In your home oven you can bake around 20 cookies at once, and you have to put them on a tray. Meanwhile, an industrial bakery has one of those fancy conveyor belt ovens -- dough goes in one side, cookies come out the other, and the conveyor belt itself is the tray. The conventional fabrication process for metallic nanostructures is more like the home method -- you need a tray (usually a silicon substrate, because those are pretty cheap and extremely high-quality), and an reactor of some sort (in this case a really fancy oven that costs more than your car, but still an oven), and you won't be getting any nanowidgets until the kitchen timer dings.

What this will NOT be useful for is logic circuitry. This group has managed to come up with a pretty good method of manufacturing metallic nanorods. That's all well and good, but bear in mind that all of these high quality nanorods are not attached to anything, and not particularly useful in and of themselves. Perhaps they can make individual nanorods into diodes, but even if they do they're still left with essentially a disordered heap of unconnected devices -- try throwing ten toothpicks in the air and having them land in a perfect grid. Now do it for a billion tiny transistors. You may notice that this process does not scale well.

This manufacturing method might actually be more useful in the realm of optics. The real breakthrough here is the fact that high quality metallic nanostructures can be grown without a substrate, and can be grown quickly and continuously. Metallic spheres and rods are actually quite interesting at the nanoscale, and behave in very counterintuitive ways (for instance, suspensions of gold spheres take on very different colors when viewed with reflected vs. transmitted light (See for instance the Lycurgus cup: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lycurgus_Cup). People are working away on using those properties to do something more useful than making a better shot glass (for instance, nanostructured metals show some promise at enhancing the efficiency of solar cells), and maybe this manufacturing method will help them out by bringing the cost of high quality research materials down.

Then again, maybe all we'll get is a few overblown press releases and another three weeks of this article on the front page at Slashdot.

about 2 years ago
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Microsoft Makes Direct X 11.1 a Windows 8 Exclusive

Yarhj Standard Operating Procedure (553 comments)

Isn't this basically what they did back with Vista and 7? After the legacy-support nightmare (from Microsoft's perspective) that was XP I expect Microsoft is tired of supporting old software on old systems. I can't say that I blame them -- at some point you just have to draw a line in the sand and say "I'm not supporting 5.25" floppies anymore."

We can argue about exactly when they should stop supporting old OSes, but at some point it makes sense to move resources from your old product to your new product.

about 2 years ago
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Scientists Turn Air Into Petrol

Yarhj Oblig CSI Reference (580 comments)

It sounds like we've got a case of

*puts glasses on*

vaporware.

YEEEAAAAAAAHH!

about 2 years ago
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Solid State Quantum Computer Finds 15=3x5 — 48% of the Time

Yarhj Re:Size, not reliability (262 comments)

And even if classical verification was hard, depending on how quickly the quantum algorithm runs and how random the other 50% of solutions are, you should have a pretty good idea which answer is correct before checking classically. E.g. we want to calculate 2x2, and get the following results: 4, 4, -123, 2, 90, 12, 4, 70. Gee, let's check 4 first.

about 2 years ago
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% of my digital storage that is solid-state:

Yarhj 100 (facetious) (280 comments)

Because it's really hard to make spinning disks out of liquid.

more than 2 years ago
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Pwn2Own 2009 Winner Charlie Miller Interviewed

Yarhj Re:Users are at the mercy of the products they buy (160 comments)

Because you would end up being able to sue almost everyone... ask the same type of question about a car and you will get the same answer

Actually, you CAN sue a car company if their poor design causes you harm - think of the Ford Pinto or any number of automotive recalls.

more than 5 years ago
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Intel Threatens To Revoke AMD's x86 License

Yarhj Nvidia (476 comments)

Nvidia has a lot to gain here. Currently, Intel is trying to keep them from combining their low-power graphics chips with Intel's Atom on a single package (which would be fantastic for netbooks and low-power notebooks).

If AMD wins, they might be more likely to grant Nvidia the x86 license they've been seeking for so long. If Intel wins, AMD is effectively hamstrung, and they may very well have to grant Nvidia (and others) an x86 license to stave off antitrust regulators.

Let the games begin

more than 5 years ago
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Intel Recruits TSMC To Produce Atom CPUs

Yarhj Re:Nice Intel (109 comments)

Semiconductor companies have been opening plants in China due to strong government incentive programs. China has been trying to shake the stigma off that "Made in China" sticker by bringing in more R&D and high-tech manufacturing with big corporate tax breaks and other goodies.

I remember reading that the government of one Chinese province was actually paying the majority of the construction costs for a new fab, but I can't remember the Province, or the company which was going to use the fab. I'll try to dig that info up.

more than 5 years ago
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Intel Recruits TSMC To Produce Atom CPUs

Yarhj Re:Nice Intel (109 comments)

Actually, Intel spread the layoffs around, closing two test/assembly fabs in the Phillippines and Malaysia as well as a fab in Oregon and one in Santa Clara. All of these fabs were running 200mm wafers at older tech nodes (120nm and up, I believe).

These closings would likely have come along in the due course of time, but the economy hastened things a bit. As to moving the fabrication of Atoms over to TSMC, it's a pretty logical move. Atom is a low-margin part, so Intel probably doesn't want to clog up its most advanced fabs with Atom wafer starts, when it can ride out the recession and hope for a resurgence in demand for high-performance, high-margin parts.

That said, it's quite interesting that Intel is contracting with TSMC, because Intel's real market advantage has always been its fabrication prowess. I'm sure there are about a thousand pages of legalese restricting TSMC's rights to the high-k process (or any other tricks Intel has up their sleeve)

more than 5 years ago
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Intel On Track For 32 nm Manufacturing

Yarhj Re:Chipsets (139 comments)

Interestingly enough, the primary goal of die shrinks is not better performance, but lower cost. If a given die can be shrunk by a factor of k, we can fit roughly k^2 devices on a wafer of the same size. If the smaller chips work just as well as the larger chips we can then turn around and sell them for exactly the same price. It's like printing money(Step 3: PROFIT!). Of course, there's the expense in R&D and equipment to consider as well (Step 2: ????), but the basic reasoning is sound. If our competitors are stuck with a bigger chip, we win. The largest semiconductor companies are pushing for 450mm Silicon wafers for the same reason.

Of course, smaller dimensions do enable certain performance enhancements (maximum device frequency comes to mind), but it takes a lot of work to get these smaller devices working.

more than 5 years ago
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ICANN Proposes New Way To Buy Top-Level Domains

Yarhj Truth in advertising? (198 comments)

This sounds like a pretty bad idea. The first thing that comes to mind is the wholesale registration of TLD's for typosquatting.

At least they'll be able to register a proper domain: .con

more than 5 years ago

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