And another story I believe it will be interesting to read: a dense bed of light-sensitive bacteria has been developed as a unique kind of photographic film. Although it takes 4 hours to take a picture and only works in red light, it also delivers extremely high resolution.
The “living camera” uses light to switch on genes in a genetically modified bacterium that then cause an image-recording chemical to darken. The bacteria are tiny, allowing the sensor to deliver a resolution of 100 megapixels per square inch.
To make their novel biosensor, Chris Voigt’s team at the University of California in San Francisco, US, chose E. Coli, the food-poisoning gut bacterium. One of the reasons for that choice is that E. Coli does not normally use light - photosynthesising bacteria could have used light to prompt other, unwanted, biological processes.
The researchers used genetic engineering techniques to shuttle genes from photosynthesising blue-green algae into the cell membrane of the E. coli. One gene codes for a protein that reacts to red light. Once activated, that protein acts to shut down the action of a second gene. This switch-off turns an added indicator solution black.
As a result, a monochrome image could be permanently “printed” on a dense bed of the modified E. Coli.
The living camera will never be available in the shops: Voigt’s team saw it as an exercise in advanced genetic engineering. But their success in getting an array of bacteria to respond to light could lead to the development of “nano-factories” in which minuscule amounts of substances are produced at locations precisely defined by light beams.
For instance, the gene switch need not activate a pigment, says Voigt. A different introduced gene could produce polymer-like proteins, or even precipitate a metal. “This way, the bacteria could weave a complex material,” he says.
The UCSF team are now working on expanding the colour range of their sensor, perhaps using retinol, a substance which helps the human retina to sense a wide range of colours.
As a method of nano-manufacturing, the biocamera is an "extremely exciting advance" says Harry Kroto, the Nobel prize-winning discoverer of buckminsterfullerene, or buckyballs. "I have always thought that the first major nanotechnology advances would involve some sort of chemical modification of biology."
Source: New Scientist
EE Times published an interesting report on the internals of Xbox 360. They say, Chipworks Inc., Portelligent Inc. and iSuppli Corp. found out that most of the dedicated parts within console are stamped with the Microsoft X-logo, rather than the actual manufacturers' logo.
Analyst David Carey of Portelligent (Austin, Texas) said the Microsoft markings were applied to the custom ASIC parts designed specifically for the Xbox, including the CPU, I/O chip, and video interface, even though other semiconductor makers supply the parts.
In its analysis, Portelligent found that the bill of materials for Xbox 360 reaffirms that games consoles are sold at a loss in the hope of making money on software.
Portelligent estimated the total hardware cost-of-goods sold for the $300 retail version of the core game system is around $310. The firm expects Microsoft to bank on sales of higher-margin bundle systems, accessories and games to compensate for low margins on the game console itself.
Tompkins said Ottawa-based Chipworks has so far identified IBM as the manufacturer of the X-box custom microprocessor while the graphics processor was made by ATI Technologies Inc.
Chipworks also identified embedded DRAM from NEC Corp., DDR3 synchronous DRAM from Samsung and NAND flash chips from Hynix.
Meanhile, Portelligent said it identified custom ASICs it believed to have come from Silicon Integrated Systems Corp. and Chipidea Microelectronics SA. They perform key interface functions. Portelligent also said it identified lesser components from ON Semiconductor, Analog Devices, Broadcom, Hynix, National Semiconductor and Cypress Semiconductor. Samsung provided all 64 megabytes of high-speed graphics SDRAM, the third most costly element in the design, Portelligent said.
Chipworks also reported that the NEC embedded DRAM is copackaged with the ATI processor, rather than being integrated into the same piece of silicon. That allowed the processes to be optimized for the separate devices without forcing a compromise, according to Chipworks. "The extensive use of state-of-the-art technology in the Xbox illustrates the trend that the consumer market is driving technology these days," Chipworks' Tomkins said.
According to Portelligent, Microsoft's console design showed evidence of multisourced component solutions in several places. Parts thought to be supplied by one vendor turned out to be from someone else in the unit analyzed.
iSuppli (El Segundo, Calif.) conducted its analysis on the Xbox 360 "Premium" bundle, which includes a hard drive, a wireless control and other components not included with the Xbox 360 core product.
iSuppli concluded that the cost of the IBM chip and other ICs in the Xbox 360 total an estimated $340 per console. Factoring for the cost of a hard disk, the DVD drive, enclosures, the RF receiver board, power supply, wireless controller, cables, literature and packaging, the total bill-of-materials for the Xbox 360 Premium reaches $525, well above the retail price of $399, according to iSuppli.
The IBM microprocessor is a triple-core PowerPC that runs at 3.2 GHz, iSuppli said. At a cost of $106, this single part accounts for 20 percent of the total cost for the Xbox 360 Premium, according to iSuppli's preliminary findings.
Since IBM chips are also at the heart of the forthcoming PlayStation3 from Sony as well as Nintendo's next GameCube, iSuppli concludes that regardless of which console prevails in the market, IBM will be a key supplier.
Source: EE Times
ASUS today introduced the EAX1800XT TOP graphics card based on Radeon X1800XT GPU. The novelty features the Arctic Cooling technology and is bundled the "King Kong" game and XitePad gamepad.
The EAX1800XT TOP is now available worldwide.
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