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This Week's Hot News: March 2nd to 6th, 2009

Secret British Nuclear Base Appears on Google Earth

Google Earth recently picked up on something solid and unquestionable (as opposed to Atlantis), however the structure it uncovered could lead to hard times for the British government. A close-up aerial view of Faslane, Scotland reveals the UK's secret Trident-armed nuclear submarine base, and even provides the longitude and latitude coordinates for all terrorists to enjoy and plummet with mortar attacks.

The images generated by the free Google Earth software (also available on iPhone and iPod Touch) even shows two Vanguard Class submarines, each capable of carrying 16 nuclear missiles. That aside the program illustrates the Trident Special Area located just ten miles away, the facility where the naval base's nuclear warheads are stored. As if that weren’t enough, the satellite images can also be used to locate the nuclear crisis HQ in Northwood, North London, the SAS training facility in Hereford, and MI6's London offices.

Asus Lamborghini Notebook With 1 TB SSD

Asus this week unveil its stylish new Lamborghini-inspired VX5 notebook, featuring a 1 TB solid state drive (SSD). The new Asus Lamborghini VX5 made an appearance at CeBIT 2009 this week, which housed what Asus claimed as the world's largest density SSD currently available.  Although not specified, the included SSD might be the new 1 TB SSD from Puresilicon, which was announced earlier this year and flaunted a blazingly fast sustained read and write speed of 240 MB/sec. and 215 MB/sec, respectively.

Under the hood, the VX5 notebook is powered by an Intel Core 2 Quad processor and comes with 4 GB of DDR3 memory and dedicated Nvidia Geforce GT 130M graphics with 1 GB of GDDR3 VRAM.  For added performance, the notebook also features a TwinTurbo mode that can increase CPU and GPU speed with the press of a button.  Also included in the VX5 notebook is a Blu-ray disc combo drive, a 2.0-megapixel webcam, a slew of useful ports and Windows Vista Ultimate.

China's First Lunar Probe Collides With Moon

China’s first lunar probe, The Chang'e 1, Sunday crashed into the moon in what Beijing is calling a “controlled crash.” China Daily reports that the satellite hit the moon's surface at 16:13 Beijing time and was under the remote control of two stations in Qingda, eastern China, and Kashgar in the northwest of the country.

Named after a Chinese moon goddess, the Chang'e 1 took off on October 24, 2007 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center and spent 494 days in space. Sunday’s collision marks the end of a 16-month moon-mapping mission. The landing is part of China’s plan to land a vehicle on the moon to collect mineral samples in 2012.

First Core i7 Laptop Has One Hour Battery Life

At the beginning of February Computer company, Eurocom proudly displayed the specs for the upcoming D900F PHANTOM i7: a laptop with Intel’s Core i7. While the spec sheet listed everything under the sun, it left out the one thing that people was asking about the most: how long will this thing even last before I have to plug it in? Not long, apparently.

The company issued a press release and oddly enough, it sort of sounds pleased about the fact that it can make the 12 cell battery last for an hour. The Core i7 and 8 MB of L2 aside, the D900F packs 8 GB of DDR3 and up to 1.5 TB of storage. It weighs 11.9 lbs of bulk which actually doesn’t matter because you’re not likely to be lugging this around for long. While it’s more than likely going to give you back problems and you’ll be charging it all the time, this will at least be the most compact Core i7 box on the market. Expected to ship sometime in April, no word on pricing yet.

Microsoft: Xbox 360 Red Rings Are Behind Us

Microsoft has said the latest hardware revision for the Xbox 360, code named Jasper, shipped late 2008, is expected to be the most reliable and cool-running Xbox 360 yet thanks to its 65 nm CPU and GPU. “We're seeing great performance of the current systems, so we're really happy with the way they've been performing,” said Xbox 360 product manager Aaron Greenberg to Edge. “From friends that have had [repairs] done as of late, I can tell you from our own internal staff that we're seeing very strong performance from a quality standpoint.”

Greenberg said that those who send in their consoles for repair could get an improved system shipped back. "We've improved that [repair] process. … What we do in general, the way that it works, is that they will fix it with the latest [hardware] improvements that we've applied [to current Xbox 360s]. Obviously we're continuously improving the technology inside the box, not to get too technical. So they'll apply that when they make the increments to your system.”

OCZ's New Blazing Fast 1TB Z SSD Drive

OCZ was demonstrating its new Z Drive with 1 TB of storage at CeBIT 2009 this week. The new drive is a storage device that connects to an x8 PCIe slot and offers 1 terabyte of storage capacity. The Z Drive is about the same size a dual-slot graphics card, so its not exactly small, but the device is stated to offer maximum read and write speeds of up to 600 MB/sec. and 500 MB/sec., respectively. According to the demo OCZ had on display at CeBIT though, the Z Drive was actually showing minimum and maximum read speeds of 654 MB/sec. and 712 MB/sec., respectively. Incredible.

iPod, iPhones Banned in Bill Gates' Family

In an interview with Vogue magazine, the wife of the former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates detailed a few of the things that were not allowed in the house and it seems Apple products are among them. Despite the fact that Melinda said that she sometimes gets a little iPhone envy when he sees his friends playing with one, the ex-Microsoft employee told Vogue that their children are not allowed iPhones nor iPods.

Check out the excerpt from Vogue: “Still, being a Microsoft child does carry unusual burdens. “There are very few things that are on the banned list in our household,” Gates tells me. “But iPods and iPhones are two things we don’t get for our kids.” (…) Still, Gates acknowledges the inevitable lure of forbidden fruit. “Every now and then I look at my friends and say, ‘Ooh, I wouldn’t mind having that iPhone.’”

Deal: Pickup Core i7's for Less than Core 2's

Browsing through online retailers for the latest prices on CPUs, we came across some good prices on the latest AMD and Intel offerings. For example, a quick run over to PriceGrabber looking for Core i7 CPUs, lands us with some attractive figures. You can pick up a quad core Intel Core i7 920 for around $$279 but buying a quad core Core 2 Q9650 will set you back $324.99 at the same retailer.

Likewise, you can also pick up an AMD Phenom II X4 940 quad core for less than $235. These days, there's a lot more accountable for processor performance than just GHz ratings.

Nero Adds CUDA to Accelerate Video Encoding

Nero will soon support GPU-accelerated video encoding in its Nero Move it software. During CeBIT 2009 this week, Nero announced that it will be providing a free update for users of Move it, which will add support for Nvidia's CUDA architecture. The addition of the CUDA technology will give systems that are equipped with a modern Nvidia GPU a massive boost in the speed of which the software performs video encoding.

According to Nero, a task such as transcoding a high-definition video to an iPod compatible format will go from taking hours, down to taking just minutes.  Better yet, Nero states that there should be an even greater time savings seen when high-definition content is created using the H.264 video compression format standard.  With a growing number of digicams now supporting HD video recording, often in crazy non-standard formats, being able to quickly convert such HD video clips to a useful standard format would be great.

  • coopchennick
    Is that a SATA port at the end, or does it plug into a PCI-E slot? You can't boot from a PCI-E slot...
    Reply
  • cruiseoveride
    Bill Gates is even more evil than I thought. If the kid wants an iPod, give the kid a damn iPod.
    Reply
  • cheepstuff
    cruiseoverideBill Gates is even more evil than I thought. If the kid wants an iPod, give the kid a damn iPod.
    what if you gain all the iphones in the world and loose your MS spirit?
    Reply
  • salsoolo
    i've been wondering, does m$ use linux os for their servers?
    Reply
  • coopchennickIs that a SATA port at the end, or does it plug into a PCI-E slot? You can't boot from a PCI-E slot...
    Nope that is a molex power connector at the end. The device is built around a HighPoint RocketRaid PCI-Express x8 card and you most certainly can boot from it.
    Reply