A Chinese supercomputer has taken the top spot in a list of the fastest machines on the planet - demonstrating almost twice the performance of the US computer that previously held the title. The Tianhe-2, or Milky Way-2, a supercomputer developed by China's National University of Defense Technology, is the most powerful computer in the world according to the TOP500 list. It takes the top spot from Titan, a Cray XK7 system installed at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which drops to number two in the latest list. The Milky Way 2 recorded 33.86 petaflops on the Linpack benchmark, compared to the Titan's score of 17.59 petaflops. The two top machines rely on very different architectures. Milky Way 2 has 16,000 nodes, each with two Intel Xeon IvyBridge processors and three Xeon Phi processors, for a combined total of 3,120,000 computing cores.
Facebook received 9,000-10,000 requests for user data from US government entities in the second half of 2012. The social-networking site said the requests, relating to between 18,000 and 19,000 accounts, covered issues from local crime to national security. Microsoft meanwhile said it received 6,000 and 7,000 requests for data from between 31,000 and 32,000 accounts. Leaks by a former computer technician suggest the US electronic surveillance program is far larger than was known. Internet companies - including Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Apple and Microsoft - were reported last week to have granted the National Security Agency (NSA) "direct access" to their servers under a data collection program called Prism. The firms denied the accusations, saying they gave no such access but did comply with lawful requests.
Google is launching balloons into near space to provide internet access to buildings below on the ground. About 30 of the super pressure balloons are being launched from New Zealand from where they will drift around the world on a controlled path. Each balloon is 15m (49.2ft) in diameter - the length of a small plane - and filled with lifting gases. Electronic equipment hangs underneath including radio antennas, a flight computer, an altitude control system and solar panels to power the gear. Google aims to fly the balloons in the stratosphere, 20km (12 miles) or more above the ground, which is about double the altitude used by commercial aircraft and above controlled airspace. Google says each should stay aloft for about 100 days and provide connectivity to an area stretching 40km in diameter below as they travel in a west-to-east direction. The firm says the concept could offer a way to connect the two-thirds of the world's population which does not have affordable net connections.
Microsoft (MSFT) has announced that it will be partnering with Best Buy (BBY) to open 500 Windows Store locations inside Best Buy stores across the country.
The move could help both brands, which are struggling against changing business realities. Microsoft was late to the game on tablets and smartphones, and its offerings -- the Surface and the Windows Phone, respectively -- have struggled to win over consumers. More concerning is its latest operating system, Windows 8, which overhauled the user experience but is now being blamed for a downturn in PC sales.
Meanwhile, Best Buy is fighting off price competition from online competitors and dealing with a changing consumer electronics market in which people no longer seem all that interested in buying televisions.
"Tweet," "mouseover," "follower," and "crowdsourcing" meanings enter Oxford English Dictionary The social media meaning of the word "tweet" is now officially in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). As per the entry, the transitive or intransitive verb "tweet" refers to the act of posting on Twitter, whereas the noun means a post on the same website. John Simpson, chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary notes that the word had been added, despite the language authority's general rule that words less than ten years in usage should not be added yet to the dictionary. The word "tweet" was considered to be an exception. "Tweet" has been in use since 2006, which was when the social media website Twitter was launched. In the dictionary entry, the Oxford English Dictionary includes several actual instances of the word's use from various sources including the blog NevOn, the New York Times Magazine, the publications Church Times and East Valley Tribune, and the book Girl's Best Friend by L. Margolis, among others.
Punished by third-party quality reports because of the difficulty of using its touch-screen multimedia system, called MyFord Touch, the auto maker will reprise tuning and volume knobs for the radio as it redesigns existing models, a top Ford executive said. It is a reversal for Ford, which has been a first-mover with installing mobile-phone-based technologies, voice recognition and touch screens in its vehicles. The systems have been a big selling point for Ford with its vehicles, but also have dragged down its reputation for quality. Ford is trying to solve continued complaints about the system, which includes a touch-screen interface as well as voice-activated controls and pairing with a smartphone. At the same time, Ford says it believes the system helps sell its vehicles, citing customers opting for the system. The company wouldn't say when the redesigned entertainment system would first appear, but said all vehicles would get the changes as models are updated or replaced.
Skype is taking the beta tags off its video-messaging feature, which lets users send short videos to friends when they're offline. Staring today, Skype users on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and BlackBerry can send an unlimited number of video messages to other Skype users for free. "Want to say goodnight to your kids while traveling, but you'll be up in the air? Need to wish your dad a happy birthday, but can't seem to catch up? Skype can help you connect with the special people in your life-even when your schedules conflict," Skype said in a blog post.
Samsung has begun mass production of a PCI-Express (PCIe) solid-state drive (SSD) for ultra-slim laptops, which it claims is an industry first. The new XP941 range of SSDs will be available in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB capacities, with a PCIe 2.0 interface, which allows for sequential read speeds of 1,400MB/s, substantially higher than the top speeds of a SATA 6Gb/s device. To put this into perspective, 500GB of data, such as 100 high-definition movies, will transfer in just six minutes, while 10 5GB high-definition movies will transfer in 36 seconds. This works out at roughly seven times the speed of a standard HDD and 2.5 times faster than the top SATA SSDs.
Intel's Haswell processor may not have delivered a ton of performance improvements over Ivy Bridge but most hardcore enthusiasts were probably willing to look past that as they knew Haswell-E was in the pipeline. The platform is still a ways off as we're awaiting the launch of Ivy Bridge-E later this year but here's some of what users can look forward to in 2014. For starters, Intel will use Haswell-E to launch an eight core desktop CPU for the first time. Specifically, users will have their choice of six or eight core chips with up to 20MB of L3 cache. With Hyper Threading, we're looking at 16 logical cores with a maximum TDP somewhere in the range of 130W to 140W. The chips will be built using Intel's second generation 22nm Hi-k process.
AT&T is switching around the configuration of its GoPhone plans a bit - the pay-as-you-go options that, for some, offer a better arrangement than the typical two-year contracts they could otherwise sign up for when they go to purchase a new phone. And there's an added bonus: Starting June 21, all GoPhone customers will also be able to tap into AT&T's 4G LTE network so long as their smartphones support the connection. If not, well, there's always the Samsung Galaxy Express - soon to be discounted to $250 off-contract to commemorate AT&T's new GoPhone plans. The three new plans come in at $60, $40, and $25 per month. The most expensive package gives users unlimited nationwide calling and messaging, with two gigabytes of data by default and additional data purchasable in the form of 1 GB increments (for an extra $10 each).
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