The big NASA announcement from today is the discovery that Pluto has not only blue skies but also water ice. The space agency's New Horizons craft found that Pluto has a high-altitude haze that scatters blue light similar to our sky. A very cool find indeed.
“Who would have expected a blue sky in the Kuiper Belt? It’s gorgeous,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado.
The haze particles themselves are likely gray or red, but the way they scatter blue light has gotten the attention of the New Horizons science team. “That striking blue tint tells us about the size and composition of the haze particles,” said science team researcher Carly Howett, also of SwRI. “A blue sky often results from scattering of sunlight by very small particles. On Earth, those particles are very tiny nitrogen molecules. On Pluto they appear to be larger — but still relatively small — soot-like particles we call tholins.”
Scientists believe the tholin particles form high in the atmosphere, where ultraviolet sunlight breaks apart and ionizes nitrogen and methane molecules and allows them to react with one another to form more and more complex negatively and positively charged ions. When they recombine, they form very complex macromolecules, a process first found to occur in the upper atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan. The more complex molecules continue to combine and grow until they become small particles; volatile gases condense and coat their surfaces with ice frost before they have time to fall through the atmosphere to the surface, where they add to Pluto’s red coloring.
Additionally, New Horizons also found exposed water ice on Pluto's surface:
Water Ice on Pluto: Regions with exposed water ice are highlighted in blue in this composite image from New Horizons' Ralph instrument, combining visible imagery from the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) with infrared spectroscopy from the Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA). The strongest signatures of water ice occur along Virgil Fossa, just west of Elliot crater on the left side of the inset image, and also in Viking Terra near the top of the frame. A major outcrop also occurs in Baré Montes towards the right of the image, along with numerous much smaller outcrops, mostly associated with impact craters and valleys between mountains.
Dell revamped its XPS laptop lineup. The biggest change is made to the XPS 15, this new Skylake-based system features a 15.6" edge-to-edge LCD display with a 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution. The ultra-thin bezel enables Dell to reach a form factor similar to a 14" laptop, the system is 17mm at its thickest point and weighs around 1.8kg.
The XPS 15's enclosure is made from aluminium and features some carbon fiber elements, like the keyboard area.
Dell will offer the XPS 15 in various configurations, users will be able to choose between Skylake-based Intel Core i3/i5/i7 processors, up to 16GB RAM, GeForce GTX 960M graphics and HDD or SSD storage.
The version with 4K resolution features a 56Whr battery with up to ten hours of battery life but there will also be a Full HD model with 84Whr battery and up to 17 hours of battery life. Other features include USB 3.1 Type-C with Thunderbolt 3 support.
Pricing starts at $999 for the cheapest model but if you want to 3840 x 2160 pixels resolution you'll have to spend at least $1,749.99. The model is immediately available from Dell's website.
The XPS line offers powerhouse performance in aggressive form factors, and the new XPS 15 is the pinnacle of that design philosophy. With the success of the XPS 13, Dell is now bringing the world’s first virtually borderless InfinityEdge display to a 15-inch laptop, making it the smallest 15-inch laptop on the planet.1 At just 11-17mm thin and Starting at 3.9 lbs (1.78kg) with 56Whr battery, SSD, and non-touch display, the XPS 15 is also the lightest performance-class 15-inch laptop.
The XPS 15 features a stunning UltraSharp™ 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) resolution option and the only 100 percent minimum Adobe RGB display on a laptop. Offering powerhouse performance on-the-go, the device is underpinned by 6th generation Intel Core processors (up to i7 Quad Core), NVIDIA GeForce® GTX™ 960M graphics (2GB GDDR5), high performance memory up to 16GB at 2133 MHz, up to 1TB hard drive or 1TB PCIe SSD storage, and Thunderbolt™ 3.
Additionally, the XPS 15 battery life offers up to 17 hours with a FHD display, 84WHr battery and SSD. For users who need horsepower to drive graphics and processor-intensive creation, the XPS 15 is the multimedia beast they’ve been waiting for.
Also announced were the new XPS 12 and XPS 13 models. The XPS 12 starts shipping in November with pricing from $999, this is a 2-in-1 system that can transform into a tablet. The XPS 13 on the other hand is a compact notebook and is available immediately with pricing starting at $799.
XPS 12 2-in-1 – Perfecting the laptop to tablet experience, the new and innovative XPS 12 2-in-1 is designed to easily switch between laptop and tablet with a magnetic connection that enables one-handed transition. It is the only 2-in-1 device with a 4K Ultra HD display option, with 6 million more pixels than a Full HD display. Packed with high resolution cameras – 8MP world-facing, 5MP user-facing – the XPS 12 allows users to capture their world how they see it. The 2-in-1 comes standard with a mobility base, which provides a sleek full-size backlit keyboard and precision touchpad for working on-the-go, as well as the custom-built Dell Premier Folio, which provides a stand for the tablet with variable angle positions and also keeps the device safe during travel.
XPS 13 – Building on an impressive showing at CES 2015, the award-winning XPS 13 now features 6th generation Intel Core processors and graphics, more storage and memory (up to 1TB2 PCIe SSDs and 16GB RAM,3 respectively) and Thunderbolt™ 3. The XPS 13’s popular form factor continues to impress, still holding its title of the smallest 13-inch laptop on the planet, as well as the first with a virtually borderless InfinityEdge display. With up to 18 hours, 14 minutes of battery life with a FHD display, the XPS 13 also offers the longest battery life on a 13-inch laptop.
Dell and private-equity firm Silver Lake are reportedly in talks to acquire the storage business of EMC. The latter currently has a market cap of close to $50 billion and WSJ reports this deal would be the biggest takeover ever in the technology industry. The move fits inside Dell's view to become focused on technology for big companies, a move away from its more consumer-oriented past.
People familiar with the matter told WSJ that a deal could be reached within a week. Dell is primarily interested in EMC's market-leading data storage business, the journal received word that one of the focus points of a potential acquisition would be to spin off EMC's stake in VMware. EMC has a 80 percent stake in VMware, which has a market cap of just over $34 billion.
EMC has been under pressure to boost its stock price since last year, when activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. took a roughly 2% stake in the company and urged it to spin off VMware. EMC owns 80% of VMware, which has a market value of $34 billion. An arrangement struck in January between Elliott and Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC that had barred the fund from publicly pressuring EMC expired last month. Elliott has since stayed quiet.
Word is going around that Chinese state-owned firm Tsinghua Unigroup may be interested in taking over SanDisk and Toshiba's memory business. The company's Unisplendor unit recently revealed plans to buy a 15 percent stake in Western Digital for $3.78 billion and the country intends further moves to establish itself as a major player in the DRAM and NAND flash memory markets.
Plans to make an equity investment in Micron Technology and build a 12-inch JV fab with the US-based vendor is China's next step to move closer to its goal of stepping into the DRAM sector, the sources noted. Tsinghua Unigroup will likely take over a 10-20% stake in Micron and form a strategic alliance with the US company, the sources said.
Charles Kau, a senior executive from Taiwan's DRAM industry, will play a key figure in negotiating with Micron for some form of cooperation in the DRAM field, the sources indicated. Kau is expected to join Tsinghua Unigroup soon after leaving his current positions.
BitFenix shows off its new NOVA, a new ATX case for budget-minded gamers. Made from steel, this case measures 183mm x 437mm x 465mm (W x H x D) and weighs just 4.8kg.
The case supports one 5.25" drive, four 3.5" HDDs and two 2.5" SSDs. Cooling is provided by up to three 120mm fans, of which one is included with the case. NOVA supports a 120mm watercooling radiator in the rear and has room for video cards of up to 320mm long.
A top I/O panel features one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port and HD Audio jacks.
NOVA will ship in black or white, and with or without a case window. BitFenix did not mention the pricing but it should be a fairly affordable case.
Bitfenix Nova delivers style, performance and silence at an incredibly competitive price.
Whether you plan to build a basic office, home or gaming system, Novas simplistic design, aluminum badge, color options and optional window side panel mean it will blend in perfectly. Long air vents running along the sides of its front, hidden behind sleek mesh strips, provide plenty of airflow to cool the system. And as a result allowed us to keep Novas Top and Front panel completely closed to block fan-noise from escaping the enclosure, and dust from building up inside.
To seal fan noise inside the chassis, we developed a closed front panel for NOVA.
Concealed behind a our signature mesh strips running along the sides of the front panel, lie a series of 134 air vents, that let fresh air stream into the case effortlessly.
Thanks to this noise-shield design of a raised, closed front panel with side vents, Nova is capable of keeping even powerful components supplied with the airflow required to keep them cooled adequately, all the while confining the fan-noise to the interior of the chassis.
Nothing to hide
While purists probably opt for the solid steel side panel version of NOVA to create a completely closed, monolithic build, we created an optional window side panel to let you and others have a look at all the nice parts, while conveniently hiding the less interesting and appeasing looking ones. Combined with color matched components and LED fans and light strips NOVAs large window allows you to create a truly unique and impressive looking system.
Front Panel Interface
The angled front panel Interface of NOVA makes it easy to reach and use whether it's on the floor, raised, or even standing on your desk. The large round power button is easy to find without even looking, while the reset button is purposely kept small and at the side of the panel. Two High Definition audio ports let you quickly connect a headset for a Skype call or to listen to your favorite music.
To prevent dust from building up inside your power supply, causing its fan to spin at unnecessarily high speeds or even overheat and shut down, NOVA comes bundled with a dust filter you can quickly rinse and slide back. This not only reduces noise, but increases the lifetime of your power supply and keeps your system running reliably for years on-end.
With 7 expansion slots and a supported graphics card height of over 140mm, NOVA is ready for modern GPUs with a raised PCBs and larger, quieter heatsinks that extend beyond the traditional 110mm expansion card height.
HP illustrates All-in-One PCs don't have to be boring at all with its new ENVY Curved All-in-One. This Skylake-based Windows 10 computer features a curved 34" LCD display with a 3440 x 1440 pixels resolution, NVIDIA GeForce 960A graphics, up to 16GB RAM, a 2TB SSHD, optional SSD, Bang & Olufsen, USB 3.0, and an Intel RealSense camera.
The system starts shipping on November 22nd with prices starting at $1,799.
NVIDIA has uploaed its GeForce 358.50 WHQL driver. This new release is the recommended driver for the Star Wars: Battlefront open beta. As always, you can find it via NVIDIA's driver search.
This new GeForce Game Ready driver ensures you'll have the best possible gaming experience in the Star Wars: Battlefront Open Beta. This driver also brings support for the latest OpenGL ARB extensions as well as OpenGL ES 3.2. In addition, this Game Ready driver also includes updated features and functionality for the GameWorks VR software development kit (SDK).
Learn more about how to get the optimal experience here: Star Wars: Battlefront Open Beta
Supports OpenGL 2015 ARB extensions and OpenGL ES 3.2
GameWorks VR Support
Updated driver support for GameWorks VR SDK, adding VR SLI enhancements, and bug fixes. Learn more at developer.nvidia.com/vr.
MSI shows off its new DS-502 gaming headset, it provides virtual 7.1-channel surround sound and features two 40mm drivers, a microphone with active noise-cancellation, in-line controls and added vibration. Pricing and availability is unknown.
The brand new DS502 Gaming Headset features Enhanced Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound for the ultimate immersive gaming experience. Its 40mm High Quality Drivers provide crystal clear Hi-Fi sound quality. Additionally, the Cmedia Xear™ software offers an extensive array of presets, preferences and includes a 10-band equalizer. Vibration is added for an even more immersive experience, so you can actually feel loud explosions happening around you.
A noise-cancelling, adjustable and omnidirectional microphone with balanced natural sounding tones allows you to communicate clearly with your friends or teammates. The tough braided cable features an in-line remote which allows gamers to control volume, mute their microphone and turn vibration on or off with a single button.
The DS502 headset offers premium build quality, lightweight and ergonomically designed with a self-adjusting headband which ensures a comfortable fit during extended gaming sessions. Next to an impressive sound quality and abundance of features, the DS502 completes its cool looks with an LED illuminated MSI GAMING dragon.
BOOST YOUR GAMING POWER
MSI GAMING peripherals are specifically tailored for gamers and have made quite a splash in the gaming world. Proudly displaying MSI’s GAMING Dragon to symbolize strength, MSI’s powerhouse of GAMING peripherals cover highly durable mechanical keyboards, high-precision ergonomically engineered gaming mice, premium gaming headsets, uniquely themed mouse pads and game-specific hardware tuning software.
Driven by passion, MSI meticulously crafts its GAMING peripherals to incorporate both functionality and design, making them the best choice for ultimate gaming.
Microsoft revealed two new Surface devices on Tuesday. First up is the Surface Pro 4, a Skylake-based tablet that will go on sale October 26th with pricing starting at $899. This device features a 12.3" screen with a 2736 x 1824 pixels resolution, it has a Core i7 dual-core processor and features up to 16GB DDR4 memory and up to 1TB SSD storage capacity.
More excitingly perhaps is the Windows 10 based Surface Book, Microsoft's entry in the laptop market. It seems a move that may alienate the software giant's partners and Microsoft is immediately shooting pretty high by targeting Apple's MacBook Pro.
The Surface Book has a slender magnesium casing and comes with a new type of hinge, it allows you to detach the keyboard from the screen to turn the device into a thin, light tablet, while also offering a very secure connection so you can use it exactly like a regular laptop without having to fear about the two halves accidentally detaching when you grab the device by the screen. The laptop measures 22.8mm at its thickest point, and when used as a tablet, the device has a thickness of just 7.7mm.
The touchscreen of the Surface Book has a 13.5" diameter and offers a 3000 x 2000 pixels resolution, which translates into a pixel density of 267ppi. Processing power is provided by one of Intel's Core i5 or i7 "Skylake" CPUs, and graphics power is delivered either by Intel HD Graphics 520 or a discrete graphics solution from NVIDIA. The Surface Book offers 8GB or 16GB RAM, from 128GB to 1TB of SSD storage capacity, 802.11ac WiFi plus Bluetooth, two USB 3.0 ports, Surface Pen support and front and rear facing cameras.
Microsoft says its Surface Book provides up to 12 hours of video playback and promises the device is 50 percent faster than Apple's MacBook Pro. Pricing starts at $1,499 for the cheapest configuration and climbs to $2,699 for the top-of-the-line model. A 1TB model will be added at a later point and will be even more expensive.
FUD Zilla spreads word that Samsung's plan to create its own mobile GPU have been delayed to the 2017-2018 timeframe. The South Korean conglomerate originally planned to deliver its own GPU much earlier but the effort got delayed for unknown reasons. The goal seems to be to create a new Exynos SoC with Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) support, the initial version of this should come to market in 2017 with a Mali GPU and then by 2018 the GPU part of the chip will be replaced by Samsung's in-house GPU.
Samsung's own GPU will probably find its way by 2017 or 2018 which is a long time in computing. The Exynos 7420 processor uses Mali-T760 MP8 graphics and there are indications that the next generation Exynos expected in 2016 will use the Mali-T860 and T880.
Samsung needs to stay competitive as the Qualcomm and MediaTek made more noise about having the GPU and CPU that work together to speed up tasks. Not even Apple has its own GPU. Apple used PowerVR for years while the Qualcomm had its own Adreno graphics.