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Our Hardware Museum: Mystery #7 solved

Fujitsu Laboratories: a new step in fuel cells development

Korean research: desktop NV36 into professional NV36GL

Our Hardware Museum: Mystery #7

MP34 to unveil an external valve amp USB audio codec

Some fresh information about XGI plans: PCI Express, XG45 DX9.1 GPUs in March

Our Hardware Museum: Mystery #7 solved

Despite our efforts to pool the wool over your eyes, you solved this in no time. We are now thinking on posting a photo of a single screw for you to recognize the manufacturer of the PC case, but we are afraid such a riddle might still be too simple for you. :)

Thanks to all of you who participated and good luck next time!

Solution: it was a part of AOpen AX6BC Pro II Millenium Edition motherboard. Below is the complete board alongside the inscription:

AOpen AX6BC Pro II Millenium Edition in all its glory

Fujitsu Laboratories: a new step in fuel cells development

Fujitsu Laboratories developed a new prototype of a passive notebook fuel cell. The new materials enable the use of 30% methanol as an energy source providing longer notebook, PDA, mobile handset operation and also higher energy capacity. This forced fuel injection system fully based on gravity and natural convection is considered optimal for small machines.

The press release states that as notebook PCs, PDAs and mobile phones evolve to deliver higher performance and greater functionality, they have also come to demand more electrical power. But the lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries commonly used today have already approached the limits of their capacity, which has made the development of a higher-capacity power source a matter of greater urgency.

Micro fuel cells, envisioned for use in mobile devices, generally use alcohol solutions as fuel. In terms of energy density, these fuel cells offer up to 5-10 times the power per unit weight of a Li-ion battery. From the user´s perspective, micro fuel cells have advantages in that they offer cheap and easy means to power electronic devices by simple refueling, enabling continuous use when traveling with no access to the power grid.

According to the press release, passive systems are best suited for micro fuel cells to help keep the package compact and light, as they do not require fuel pumps or circulatory fans. Thus, in order to obtain long runtimes without such functions, the fuel cells must be able to handle concentrated methanol as its fuel.

To date, micro fuel cells mainly have employed fluorinated polymers for their solid electrolytic material. But fluorinated electrolytes are too readily permeated by the methanol molecules in the fuel, so that when concentrated fuels are used, fuel is lost in the generating process and power capacity suffers, and the sub-reaction of methanol and air drastically reduces wattage, creating a problem known as methanol crossover.

And Fujitsu developed a new material technology for the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) (*2). An aromatic hydrocarbon solid electrolyte material, which allows slow methanol permeation, is covered with a high density of highly active platinum-based nano-particle catalyst with methanol blocking properties. This reduces the total MEA methanol crossover effect to one-tenth that encountered with typical fluorinated polymers.

This new material technology for MEA enables the direct use of methanol concentration of 30%, previously too high to use, resulting in greater capacity from passive fuel cells. Applying this technology in a prototype micro fuel-cell system with 300ml of 30% methanol enables a notebook PC to run for eight to ten hours. Furthermore, the prototype fuel cell has been slimmed down to a thickness of a mere 15mm, while delivering power output levels of 15 watts.

Korean research: desktop NV36 into professional NV36GL

Engineers from Darkcrow test lab decided to to dot the "i´s" and cross the "t´s" to show the exact difference between graphics cards on NV36GL (Quadro FX 1100) and NV36 (GeForce FX 5700).

GeForce FX 5700 Ultra

Quadro FX 1100

As you can see on these photos, the obvious difference is in resistors surface mounting. Currently the researchers work on methods to transform one card into another, including path resoldering, BIOS patching and PCB recircuiting. So, perhaps, such hardware changes will enable them to obtain a middle-level professional workstation card (Quadro FX 1100) made using the 0.13µm process from a simpler desktop solution.

At the moment of announcement of this GPU we already mentioned that such a novelty unusual for Quadro FX series based on desktop NV36 GeForce FX 5700 implying the following:

  • 128-bit FP precision
  • 12-bit subpixel precision
  • 128MB RAM
  • 16X FSAA support
  • etc.

Our Hardware Museum: Mystery #7

To continue the series of riddles here´s another one from our Hardware Museum. As you all know, the developers are eager to embody something about themselves on various devices. This time you must recognize the manufacturer, the device and complete the impressed phrase partially shown below.

P.S. Please mail your answers to Andrew Vorobyev.

MP34 to unveil an external valve amp USB audio codec

According to our information, late in February MP34 is going to unveil its new original audio device an external valve amp USB audio codec (the mock-up is below).

The digital part bases on PCM2906 chip from Texas Instruments, while the analog part features 6 valve amplifiers, including 4 twin triodes. The valve amps are used in the input buffer stage for digitizing sound via the valve interface and also in the DAC postfilters as 3rd order LF active filters.

These are the features we know about at the moment:

  • Installed as a usual sound card
  • Works under Windows 98/2000/XP
  • Analog inputs/outputs
  • Digital coaxial S/PDIF input/output
  • 160x80x226mm size
  • USB 1.1 interface

And I guess the more precise specs should be announced closer to the official announcement, so we´ll get back to this later.

Some fresh information about XGI plans: PCI Express, XG45 DX9.1 GPUs in March

We repeatedly posted news about plans of XGI Technology that as far back as last year announced the soon update of its GPU series and PCI Express support. In particular, XGI´s complete roadmap for 2004-2005, which we published early in November 2003, contained plans to replace company´s most powerful V8 Ultra and Volari V5 Ultra GPUs with DirectX 9.1-optimized XG45 and XG46 solutions. Exactly these XGI GPUs are the the most attractive now because their success (or failure) might considerably affect company´s advancement to the desktop graphics market.

Today our colleagues from Chinese GZeasy published some more precise information related to XGI´s closest roadmap. The first XG45 samples fully supporting DirectX 9.1, Pixel Shaders 3.0 and Vertex Shaders 3.0 are expected in March. Therefore the first graphics cards on these GPUs might arrive in July-August. This fresh information fully correlates with company´s earlier plans promising XG45 in H2 2004.

As for the PCI Express support that should be implemented into XG41 and XG42 DirectX 9.0 GPUs that will replace Volari V5 and V8, the company has to work harder on GPU performance and heat emission — Volari Duo V8 Ultra test results indicate rather low competitive ability from the angles of both prices and features.

Source: GZeasy

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