Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Record-Breaking Laser Hits 500 Trillion Watts

Laser physicists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have broken the record for the highest-power laser shot with a collection of beams delivering more than 500 trillion watts of peak power. Wired U.K. The National Ignition Facility fired 192 beams at the same time, delivering 1.85 megajoules of ultraviolet laser light to a target a mere two millimeters in diameter. To put those numbers into perspective, the 500 terawatt figure is 12,500 times greater than the demand for electricity in 2006 in Britain, which averaged out at 40 gigawatts. “For scientists across the nation and the world who, like ourselves, are actively pursuing fundamental science under extreme conditions and the goal of laboratory fusion ignition, this is a remarkable and exciting achievement,” said Richard Petrasso, senior research scientist and division head of high energy density physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a press release. “The 500 TW shot is an extraordinary accomplishment by the NIF Team, creating unprecedented conditions in the laboratory that hitherto only existed deep in stellar interiors,” The National Ignition Facility is the world’s foremost laser research establishment, producing lasers than can regularly carry more than 100 times the energy of any other laser. The 500 terawatt firing hits a milestone set in the late 90s when the facility was being planned, and takes researchers a step closer to the goal of igniting hydrogen fusion. “NIF is becoming everything scientists planned when it was conceived over two decades ago,” NIF director Edward Moses said in the release. “It is fully operational, and scientists are taking important steps toward achieving ignition and providing experimental access to user communities for national security, basic science and the quest for clean fusion energy.” Source: Wired.co.uk

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Intel, AMD Readying Next-Generation Chips

Intel is expected to launch the first of its “Ivy Bridge” processors at the end of April, with AMD following with its first “Trinity” APUs in May.
Intel and Advanced Micro Devices reportedly are preparing to launch next-generation chips over the next few weeks.

Intel initially was expected to roll out its new 22-nanometer “Ivy Bridge” chips this spring, but earlier this year, executives, citing production problems, said they were delaying the release until June. However, recent reports say that the giant chip maker will roll out the first Ivy Bridge Core processors—for both desktop and mobile devices—later in April, with more coming the following months.

The Ivy Bridge chips are expected to offer users a performance bump over the current “Sandy Bridge” processors, but the real enhancements will be around the graphics capabilities and power efficiency. Among other features, the Ivy Bridge chips will be the first offering Intel’s 3D Tri-Gate transistor architecture, which will offer a 50 percent cut in power consumption over current chips, according to Intel.

Intel officials also are looking to the Ivy Bridge processors to add fuel to their Ultrabook push. There are currently more than two dozen Ultrabook models on the market, from vendors like Acer, Asus, Dell and Lenovo, powered by Sandy Bridge chips. However, Intel executives have said that the Ivy Bridge processors will herald in the second wave of Ultrabooks, and in a post on Intel’s ChipShot site, blogger Becky Emmett said there are 10 more Ultrabooks that have been announced and another 75 designs coming later in 2012.

Intel this week kicked off a massive advertising and marketing campaign—said to cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars—around Ultrabooks. The campaign will offer everything from television ads to interactive Websites.

For its part, AMD is expected to launch the first of its “Trinity” accelerated processing units (APUs) for PCs May 15. According to several reports, the first of the hybrid CPU-GPU chips—based on AMD’s new Piledriver core—will be mobile APUs for notebooks, with desktop chips coming later.

Trinity will succeed the current “Llano” processors, which AMD officials have said have been the most successful product launch in company history. The new APUs reportedly will have better performance and graphics than the current chips, which are based on the Bulldozer core. The Trinity chips also are expected to run at higher frequencies.

Like larger rival Intel, AMD official are expecting some of the Trinity chips to fuel their push into very thin and light notebooks, what some company executives have referred to as “ultrathins.”