Airbus began work on the new A350 passenger jet back in 2004. It wasn't until last Friday, though, that the prototype debuted at the Paris Air Show. This successful unveiling brought Airbus a bit closer to having production models of their new wide-body plane by the end of 2014. They'd better get a move on, since 616 orders have already been placed for the A350 — 50 of which were reserved by Singapore Airlines.
The A350 and its competitor, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, are both built with a significant percentage of carbon composites, meaning better fuel economy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Boeing is a bit ahead of the game, since they've already delivered 57 Dreamliners, have orders for an additional 42 for American Airlines this year, and more than 800 total from other Boeing fans around the world. Your move, Airbus.
Apple has introduced a new version of the high-end Mac Pro desktop at WWDC 2013. The updated model skips Intel's fourth generation of Core i-series processors, previously codenamed Haswell, instead sticking with pro-level Xeon processors. But it's the design of this new Mac Pro that became a conversation topic: instead of a big square box, the new Pro is a shiny black cylinder that looks like it fell off the engine of a starship.
Apple unveiled the all-new, radically designed Mac Pro computer today at the World Wide Developer's Conference today in San Francisco. (Credit: James Martin/CNET)
Steve Jobs had a similar dream years ago in the G4 Cube, a famously minimal gleaming box that was meant to represent the future of desktop computers. The Cube was a cult favorite more than a commercial success, but the new Mac Pro feels like the clear revival of that black-box dream. Instead of cube, think cylinder.
New design, new features In addition, the Mac Pro at long last has a new look and feel. The current tower design is one of the oldest in the Apple catalog, changing little from when it was called the Power Mac G5. Up until now, the Mac Pro has been missing USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, and other features many MacBook users take for granted.
(Credit: James Martin/CNET)
The new model has a striking new look. The first view we saw was from the top, where the circular design reminded me of Apple's planned new UFO-like headquarters. It's actually a tall black cylinder, but much smaller than the tower it replaces, fitting into one-eighth the volume of the previous Mac Pro.
Components are built around a "central thermal core," and the specs include an Intel Xeon CPU, faster 1,866GHz RAM, and new SSD storage that's 2.5 times faster than current SSD drives. Dual AMD FirePro GPUs are supported (even though current MacBook Pros use Nvidia graphics), and the system can output to as many as three 4K resolution displays.
Why the major overhaul now? One of the reasons Apple previously felt little need to update the Mac Pro was because it appealed largely to a small but steady professional audience and didn't require a flashy iMac-style overhaul to bring in new audiences. But, in the several years since the last major Mac Pro overhaul, the computer industry has shifted dramatically away from the traditional tower-based desktop toward laptops, all-in-one desktops, tablets, and now even touch screen "tabletop PCs" such as the Lenovo Horizon 27.
Does a bold design that's decidedly hardcore fit what pros need? That remains to be seen, but the Darth Vader-ish look of the Mac Pro certainly made a lot of WWDC attendees sit up and take notice. If iMacs are Jedi, the Mac Pro is decidedly Sith.
There's no price information yet, but the new Mac Pro is expected later in 2013.
Apple's reputation for only releasing products at prices that are generally considered a premium over competing devices has softened in recent years with the release of music player alternatives to the iPod such as the iPod Nano, and more recently the wallet-friendly iPad mini. However, bringing such price alternatives to the company's flagship product, the iPhone, has never been considered a likely move, until now.
When we last got a peek at Windows 8.1 "Blue," most of the updates lurked under the surface: rumors of a Start button revival didn't pan out. Flash forward to Paul Thurrott's screenshots of a newer build, however, and it's a different story. The leaked code has the Start button once more occupying a spot on the desktop taskbar, with behavior reportedly like what we've seen with Stardock's Start 8 utility. More throwbacks also appear to be in store. Users can now transfer their desktop wallpaper to the Start screen, and the storied boot-to-desktop option is available -- if turned off by default. Microsoft hasn't acknowledged the existence of these (or any) Windows 8.1 features, but the rapidly approaching Build conference suggests that we'll learn more in the near future.
The Xbox One is going to be a powerful box. At last week's Xbox One unveil, Microsoft touted the black box as being 10 times more powerful than the Xbox 360. That's a huge leap. But according to new reports, the Xbox One will have the equivalent power of four systems, thanks to the cloud.
Speaking to OXM, Jeff Henshaw, Xbox group manager of Incubation and Prototyping, said the Xbox One will tap into the power of the cloud in order to provide even more power than the built-in specs:
"We're provisioning for developers for every physical Xbox One we build, we're provisioning the CPU and storage equivalent of three Xbox Ones on the cloud. We're doing that flat out so that any game developer can assume that there's roughly three times the resources immediately available to their game, so they can build bigger, persistent levels that are more inclusive for players. They can do that out of the gate."
Xbox Australia spokesman Adam Pollington further expanded on that additional computing power in an interview with Steve Wright from Stevivor:
"It’s also been stated that the Xbox One is ten times more powerful than the Xbox 360, so we’re effectively 40 times greater than the Xbox 360 in terms of processing capabilities [using the cloud]. If you look to the cloud as something that is no doubt going to evolve and grow over time, it really spells out that there’s no limit to where the processing power of Xbox One can go. I think that’s a very exciting proposition, not only for Australians, but anyone else who’s going to pick up the Xbox One console.”
Over the last few years, pundits far and wide have warned about the death of the game console and how they'll all be outgunned by far superior spec-ed gaming PCs. It's true, the Xbox One's specs will be terrible in a handful of years compared to the customizable PCs, but the power of the cloud — if all of this is true — could really make the box competitive, even with old (by then) specs.
Reports of the death of the game console are clearly exaggerated.
Update: Not everyone is buying Microsoft's cloud computing promise. Braid developer Jonathan Blow had the following comments to say on Twitter (via Destructoid):
"Also, someone please ask if these fabled 300,000 servers are real hardware, or just the total size of Windows Azure (which then implies XBL would only ever get a portion of that). To put it more concretely: a journalist could compute the installation and yearly maintenance cost for 300,000 servers, and then ask Microsoft where that VERY LARGE chunk of money is coming from (And how it could possibly make business sense for a game console)."
"I can spin up 10,000 virtual servers per host. They would just all suck. Saying 300k when they are virtual is a lie. You can't make 300k servers available without kicking all other customers off the service."
Like a massive erector set, China's Sky City is a pre-fab skyscraper, one that is expected to become the world's tallest structure. And will be completed in record time.
The total scheduled build time of Sky City is a meager seven months. That's a rate of 13 feet (more than a single story) per day. Even that incredibly ambitious goal is a step back toward sanity for Sky City's developers. The initial plan was to complete the structure in 90 days, which would have come out to roughly three floors a day.
It's true that pre-fab materials will likely speed the process onward, but that's a speedy clip, no matter what it is you're building. And what with Sky City boasting the ability to resist a 9.0 earthquake, the design isn't exactly something a five-year-old could whip up with some crayons.
That's good because the $628 million cost isn't something anyone would want to invest in a slap-dash effort. Hopes are high and fingers are crossed for next month's ground breaking ceremony and subsequent construction. If all goes well, China could eclipse Dubai as home of the world's tallest man-made structure by the holidays. Catch a glimpse of how the project will come together — and what it will ultimately look like — in the video below.
Once upon a time, in 2001, Microsoft launched the Xbox and officially entered the game console business to the collective laughter of Sony and Nintendo fans (and executives). Then in 2005, the company released the Xbox 360, a console that's managed to remain the top-selling console in the U.S. for the last 28 consecutive months. Finally, after years of anticipation and rumors, Microsoft's unveiled its next-generation console: the Xbox One.
What's Under The Hood
In a nutshell, the Xbox One is a "practically silent" console with PC guts, just like the PlayStation 4. It's based off an x64 architecture, has an 8-core CPU, a GPU with a "D3D 11.1 chip with 32 MB embedded memory," 8GB of DDR3 RAM (PS4 has 8GB of GDDR5 RAM, which is significantly faster), 500GB hard drive, slot-loading Blu-ray drive, and 802.11n and Wi-Fi Direct. It also has USB 3.0 ports and HDMI in/out for DVR suckers (that, and you can share your recorded gaming footage and directly upload it online). It's a beast of a box, and a farcry from the slick form factor of the Xbox 360 S, that's for sure.
While raw hardware power is one thing, it's the software inside the One that makes the box so special. It boasts three operating systems — Xbox OS, Windows Kernel, and an OS custom-made for instant switching and multitasking.
As for the Xbox One's rather chunky-looking design, well, that's an aesthetic that's supposed to resemble home electronics from the '70s according to Wired, as opposed to something from the future. We're pretty upset this thing is just a fat horizontal box. In fact, if it's design looks familiar, you're not alone.
Unlike Nintendo and Sony who have put in a touchscreen and a touchpad on their Wii U GamePad and PS4 DualShock 4, respectively, Microsoft isn't fooling around with such gimmicks. The One controller is a refinement of the Xbox 360 gamepad with slightly smaller dimensions. If it ain't broken, don't fix it right? That's mostly true. The One controller has 40 tech innovations, from an integrated battery compartment, vibrating impulse triggers and updated analogs and D-pad. Microsoft says the new controller will instantly sync via the new Kinect. The same goes for the Xbox SmartGlass app. Engadget has a nice photo comparison between the Xbox 360 and Xbox One controller here.
As expected, Microsoft also unveiled a new Kinect sensor and it's integral to the Xbox One experience — the console won't function without it. Revealed as the "binding power between controller and SmartGlass," capable of reading data at two gigabits per second, the new Kinect is apparently "rocket level science."
It's got a 1080p HD camera sensor that captures a 60 percent wider field of view. It understands conversational voice language, and it's faster and more accurate in every way. For instance, it can now recognize entire families (up to six people at once), and can track more joints and skeletons, understand orientation and transfer of weight, as well as muscle and impact movements. Even crazier, it can read your heart beat. Oh, and it can finally track what you're doing, when you're sitting down.
All of this at 60 frames per second, which should equate to little noticeable lag. Here's one bit slightly irked by: the Kinect sensor is "always listening" to you, so it can respond to your voice command instantly.
How much will it cost? It's included with every Xbox One.
Futuristic Voice Commands And Gestures
We saw this coming from a mile away. With the power of the new Kinect (see below), the Xbox One will "understand" you in ways like never before. As a way of simplifying the complexities of the console, the Xbox One can be operated with voice commands and gestures. Navigating between the tweaked Xbox dashboard is as quick and easy as saying any of these commands:
"Xbox, Go Home"
"Xbox, Watch TV"
"Go to Internet Explorer"
A nifty "grabbing" gesture that you use with two hands (kind of like a pinch and zoom gesture using both arms) also lets you jump in and out of apps and games instantly.
There's also a borrowed feature from Windows 8 that lets you "snap" another app on the side for multitasking. If you've ever used a Windows 8 tablet or PC, you'll know what we're talking about here.
Games/ Installs / Backwards Compatibility
The Xbox One might be more than just a gaming box, but let's be real, for most people (especially the ones who'll be lining up for its launch), it's all about the games it'll have. Although next month's E3 will play showcase to most of the Xbox Ones's games, Microsoft and some of its partners did announce a few games today, including Call of Duty Ghosts, which will launch exclusively on the console first:
Additionally, Xbox One will have 15 exclusive games, eight of which are brand new IPs. Not too shabby.
Now for the bad news. Because the Xbox One runs on completely different architecture, it won't play any Xbox 360 games, which may be an issue to those who like to trade in their new consoles, without losing the ability to play their old console games. Upwards and onwards, we suppose.
Not only that, but according to Wired, games for the Xbox One must be installed to the console's hard drive in order for them to run, which means they'll indeed be tied to a specific account after installation. If you want to install the game with the same disc to another account, you'll reportedly have to pay a fee. Upsetting news, but no surprises, really. Ultimately, that could mean used games will have lower trade-in values and gamers buying them used from places like GameStop will have to pay an additional fee in order to install the game to their own consoles.
But while game installs will be mandatory, you can play the games while it's installing, which is a win.
Cloud-powered Xbox Live
You didn't think Microsoft would announce a new console without an infrastructure boost to its incredibly successful Xbox Live, did you? The online service will get an increase from 15,000 servers to 300,000 servers and will harness the power of the cloud. All of a user's entertainment — games, movies, music, apps, DVR-ed moments, etc. — will be stored in the cloud. Also, you can now have up to 1000 friends on your friends list (crazy!)
TV Lover's New Best Bud
Chances are you like watching TV (most people do). Microsoft thinks TV is too complicated, and we agree, too. For the Xbox One, Microsoft wants to make TV watching easy — super easy.
A new "One Guide" will be a central hub for all your favorite video content. It'll be voice-controlled and include selections for "Favorites" and "Trending." Basically, One Guide will remember what you like and will let you know what everyone else likes.
If that's not enough, Microsoft is going to bed with Steven Spielberg and 343 Industries to create a live-action Halo TV series. Try not to wet your pants guys. Sports fans will also get to manage their fantasy football teams, while watching NFL games.
Lastly, Skype. Hurray, for group video chat from your couch, if you're into that sort of thing.
Like Sony, Microsoft was pretty ho-hum about launch details for the Xbox One. The console will be available around the world "later this year." No pricing details were announced. It looks like we'll have to wait for E3 for that.