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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Boeing Demonstrates One-Button Start-Up Of Satellite Ground Station


Boeing Demonstrates One-Button Start-Up Of Satellite Ground Station


Boeing and its TEAM TSAT partners have successfully demonstrated the "one-button" start-up feature of its U.S. ground station, an essential element of the companies' Transformational Satellite Communications System (TSAT) offering. The feature allows a ground station technician or a remote command center operator to use one button on a control panel to go from a full "off" condition to full communications operation within minutes, even under adverse operating conditions. The hardware also supports a U.S. Air Force requirement that TSAT spacecraft operate without constant monitoring and adjustment.
"As we move toward the TSAT Space Segment award date, it's clear the Boeing design performs beyond specification with fewer components that are more commercially available," said Howard Chambers, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems. "TEAM TSAT's solution significantly reduces cost and risk, and provides a robust ability to continue operating under conditions that would sideline all other competing designs."


The high-bandwidth Continental United States (CONUS) Ground Gateway Element (CGGE) connects the U.S. terrestrial communication network and TSAT satellites, providing instant Internet-like connectivity between in-theater assets and command authority throughout the world.


Boeing's CGGE integrated product team built the hardware using independent development funds from Boeing and teammate SAIC.


The demonstration marked the program's most recent milestone in a series of first achievements. Earlier this year, TEAM TSAT demonstrated the full operational performance of the CGGE Data Processing Center (DPC), which compares two identical high-speed communication streams from different sources in real time and forwards the best-quality data to the terrestrial information network. Boeing teammate Harris Corp., developed the hardware using independent development funds.


Additionally, the CGGE team in April met performance requirements for the operational TSAT system during the Space Segment Design Review. The team demonstrated end-to-end communication performance from user terminals (for both communication-on-the-move and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) to the TSAT satellite Next-Generation Processor Router, through the satellite communications payload transmitter to the brassboard ground station receiver and on through the DPC.


In 2006, the team also was first to achieve full-speed communications in laboratory and field tests, demonstrating specified communication quality and performance under worse-than-specified conditions. In the same year, the team was the first to achieve extended-duration operations without any human monitoring or adjustment.






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Skynet 5B Satellite Ready For Launch On 9th November


Skynet 5B Satellite Ready For Launch On 9th November


The Skynet 5 satellites are based on Astrium's Eurostar E3000 satellite platform with a 34m solar array span and a launch mass of 4.65 tonnes. Skynet 5B will be positioned at 53 degrees East.


Astrium is on target for the second Skynet 5 satellite launch this year with Skynet 5B scheduled for launch from Kourou, French Guiana on 9 November 2007 on an Ariane 5 launch vehicle. Astrium plays a triple role on the Skynet 5 programme responsible for the service provision through its company Paradigm, prime contractor on the launcher Ariane 5 and also as prime contractor for the satellites and associated ground segment.
A new era in secure military communications for the UK Ministry of Defence began when the Skynet 5A satellite entered service in April 2007 following successful launch from Kourou, French Guiana on 11 March 2007.


Skynet 5 is the groundbreaking next generation military satellite communications programme for the UK Ministry of Defence. Secure communications services are being delivered by the owner and operator, Paradigm, part of Astrium Services, with the system, including the satellites, designed and built by Astrium Satellites. Astrium Space Transportation is prime contractor on Ariane 5.


This will be another major milestone in the large, complex and technically advanced Skynet 5 PFI and is the culmination of many years' collaboration and partnership between the MoD, Paradigm, Astrium, EADS and financial experts.


The launch of Skynet 5B will be followed by the launch of Skynet 5C in mid 2008 - an in-orbit spare. The satellites will meet long haul communications needs for the UK MoD and Paradigm's other international customers.


The Skynet 5 satellites are based on Astrium's Eurostar E3000 satellite platform with a 34m solar array span and a launch mass of 4.65 tonnes. Skynet 5B will be positioned at 53 degrees East.


Fran├žois Auque, CEO of Astrium said: "Skynet 5 remains a flagship programme for Astrium, showcasing our combined capabilities across all aspects of space - services, satellites and space transportation. The launch of Skynet 5B will add another level to the service we provide to the UK MoD - a service already greatly enhanced following the success of Skynet 5A which is providing the next generation of advanced military satellite communications."


Malcolm Peto, Managing Director of Paradigm said: "We are all very excited about the launch of Skynet 5B. The programme continues to deliver success and is an excellent example of what can be achieved with co-operation between industry and the UK Ministry of Defence. The introduction of 5B will further enhance the way that Paradigm delivers mission critical communications services to our deployed military customers. We will be faster and better than ever at meeting our customers' operational requirements."


Astrium has met the triple challenge on Skynet 5 - responsible for the satellites, the service provision through Paradigm and prime contractorship on the launcher Ariane 5.






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Skynet 5B Satellite Ready For Launch On 9th November


Skynet 5B Satellite Ready For Launch On 9th November


The Skynet 5 satellites are based on Astrium's Eurostar E3000 satellite platform with a 34m solar array span and a launch mass of 4.65 tonnes. Skynet 5B will be positioned at 53 degrees East.


Astrium is on target for the second Skynet 5 satellite launch this year with Skynet 5B scheduled for launch from Kourou, French Guiana on 9 November 2007 on an Ariane 5 launch vehicle. Astrium plays a triple role on the Skynet 5 programme responsible for the service provision through its company Paradigm, prime contractor on the launcher Ariane 5 and also as prime contractor for the satellites and associated ground segment.
A new era in secure military communications for the UK Ministry of Defence began when the Skynet 5A satellite entered service in April 2007 following successful launch from Kourou, French Guiana on 11 March 2007.


Skynet 5 is the groundbreaking next generation military satellite communications programme for the UK Ministry of Defence. Secure communications services are being delivered by the owner and operator, Paradigm, part of Astrium Services, with the system, including the satellites, designed and built by Astrium Satellites. Astrium Space Transportation is prime contractor on Ariane 5.


This will be another major milestone in the large, complex and technically advanced Skynet 5 PFI and is the culmination of many years' collaboration and partnership between the MoD, Paradigm, Astrium, EADS and financial experts.


The launch of Skynet 5B will be followed by the launch of Skynet 5C in mid 2008 - an in-orbit spare. The satellites will meet long haul communications needs for the UK MoD and Paradigm's other international customers.


The Skynet 5 satellites are based on Astrium's Eurostar E3000 satellite platform with a 34m solar array span and a launch mass of 4.65 tonnes. Skynet 5B will be positioned at 53 degrees East.


Fran├žois Auque, CEO of Astrium said: "Skynet 5 remains a flagship programme for Astrium, showcasing our combined capabilities across all aspects of space - services, satellites and space transportation. The launch of Skynet 5B will add another level to the service we provide to the UK MoD - a service already greatly enhanced following the success of Skynet 5A which is providing the next generation of advanced military satellite communications."


Malcolm Peto, Managing Director of Paradigm said: "We are all very excited about the launch of Skynet 5B. The programme continues to deliver success and is an excellent example of what can be achieved with co-operation between industry and the UK Ministry of Defence. The introduction of 5B will further enhance the way that Paradigm delivers mission critical communications services to our deployed military customers. We will be faster and better than ever at meeting our customers' operational requirements."


Astrium has met the triple challenge on Skynet 5 - responsible for the satellites, the service provision through Paradigm and prime contractorship on the launcher Ariane 5.






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Scientists Discover Record Fifth Planet Orbiting Nearby Star


Scientists Discover Record Fifth Planet Orbiting Nearby Star


This artist's concept shows four of the five planets that orbit 55 Cancri, a star much like our own. The most recently discovered planet, and the fourth out from the star, looms large in the foreground. It is at least 45 times the mass of Earth, or half the mass of Saturn, and it orbits the star every 260 days. The system's three known inner planets can be seen in the background around the glowing star, while its most distant planet is not pictured. Fifty-five Cancri has produced a larger number of massive planets than our solar system. The colors of the planets in this illustration were chosen to resemble those of our own solar system. Astronomers do not know what the planets look like.


Astronomers have announced the discovery of a fifth planet circling 55 Cancri, a star beyond our solar system. The star now holds the record for number of confirmed extrasolar planets orbiting in a planetary system. 55 Cancri is located 41 light-years away in the constellation Cancer and has nearly the same mass and age as our sun. It is easily visible with binoculars. Researchers discovered the fifth planet using the Doppler technique, in which a planet's gravitational tug is detected by the wobble it produces in the parent star. NASA and the National Science Foundation funded the research.
"It is amazing to see our ability to detect extrasolar planets growing," said Alan Stern, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Washington. "We are finding solar systems with a richness of planets and a variety of planetary types comparable to our own."


The newly discovered planet weighs about 45 times the mass of Earth and may be similar to Saturn in its composition and appearance. The planet is the fourth from 55 Cancri and completes one orbit every 260 days. Its location places the planet in the "habitable zone," a band around the star where the temperature would permit liquid water to pool on solid surfaces. The distance from its star is approximately 116.7 million kilometers (72.5 million miles), slightly closer than Earth to our sun, but it orbits a star that is slightly fainter.


"The gas-giant planets in our solar system all have large moons," said Debra Fischer, an astronomer at San Francisco State University and lead author of a paper that will appear in a future issue of the Astrophysical Journal. "If there is a moon orbiting this new, massive planet, it might have pools of liquid water on a rocky surface."


Fischer and University of California, Berkeley, astronomer Geoff Marcy, plus a team of collaborators discovered this planet after careful observation of 2,000 nearby stars with the Shane telescope at Lick Observatory located on Mt. Hamilton, east of San Jose, Calif., and the W.M. Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii. More than 320 velocity measurements were required to disentangle signals from each of the planets.


"This is the first quintuple-planet system," said Fischer. "This system has a dominant gas giant planet in an orbit similar to our Jupiter. Like the planets orbiting our sun, most of these planets reside in nearly circular orbits."


"Discovering these five planets took us 18 years of continuous observations at Lick Observatory, starting before any extrasolar planets were known anywhere in the universe," said Marcy, who contributed to the paper. "But finding five extrasolar planets orbiting a star is only one small step. Earth-like planets are the next destination."


The planets around 55 Cancri are somewhat different from those orbiting our sun. The innermost planet is believed to be about the size of Neptune and whips around the star in less than three days at a distance from the star of approximately 5.6 million kilometers (3.5 million miles). The second planet is a little smaller than Jupiter and completes one orbit every 14.7 days at a distance from the star of approximately 18 million kilometers (11.2 million miles). The third planet, similar in mass to Saturn, completes one orbit every 44 days at a distance from the star of approximately 35.9 million kilometers (22.3 million miles).


The newly discovered planet is the fourth planet. The fifth and most distant known planet is four times the mass of Jupiter and completes one orbit every 14 years at a distance from the star of approximately 867.6 million kilometers (539.1 million miles). It is still the only known Jupiter-like gas giant to reside as far away from its star as our own Jupiter is from our sun.


"This work marks an exciting next step in the search for worlds like our own," said Michael Briley, an astronomer at the National Science Foundation. "To go from the first detections of planets around sun-like stars to finding a full-fledged solar system with a planet in a habitable zone in just 12 years is an amazing accomplishment and a testament to the years of hard work put in by these investigators."






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NASA Technology Helps Predict And Prevent Future Pandemic Outbreaks


NASA, Technology,Predict, Future,Pandemic ,disease


A particular infectious disease being targeted by NASA is malaria, which affects 300-500 million persons worldwide, leaving 40 percent of the world at risk of infection.


With the help of 14 satellites currently in orbit and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Applied Sciences Program, scientists have been able to observe the Earth's environment to help predict and prevent infectious disease outbreaks around the world. The use of remote sensing technology aids specialists in predicting the outbreak of some of the most common and deadly infectious diseases today such as Ebola, West Nile virus and Rift Valley Fever.


The ability of infectious diseases to thrive depends on changes in the Earth's environment such as the climate, precipitation and vegetation of an area.


Through orbiting satellites, data is collected daily to monitor environmental changes. That information is then passed on to agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Defense who then apply the data to predict and track disease outbreaks and assist in making public health policy decisions.


"The use of this technology is not only essential for the future of curbing the spread of infectious diseases," explains John Haynes, public health program manager for the NASA Earth Science Applied Sciences Program. "NASA satellites are also a cost-effective method for operational agencies since they are already in orbit and in use by scientists to collect data about the Earth's atmosphere."


Remote sensing technology not only helps monitor infectious disease outbreaks in highly affected areas, but also provides information about possible plague-carrying vectors -- such as insects or rodents -- globally and within the U.S.


The Four Corners region, which includes Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, is a highly susceptible area for plague and Hanta virus outbreaks, and by understanding the mixture of vegetation, rainfall and slope of the area, scientists can predict the food supply of disease transmitting vectors within the region and the threat they cause to humans. Because plague is also considered a bioterrorism agent, NASA surveillance systems enable scientists to decipher if an outbreak was caused by natural circumstances or was an act of bioterrorism.


A particular infectious disease being targeted by NASA is malaria, which affects 300-500 million persons worldwide, leaving 40 percent of the world at risk of infection. The Malaria Modeling and Surveillance Project utilizing NASA satellite technology is currently in use by the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences in Thailand and the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit located in Indonesia. Data collected at these locations is combined and used to monitor environmental characteristics that effect malaria transmission in Southeast Asia and other tropical and subtropical regions.


Malaria surveillance provides public health organizations with increased warning time to respond to outbreaks and assistance in the preparation and utilization of pesticides, which leads to a reduction in drug resistant strains of malaria and damage to the environment.


"NASA satellite remote sensing technology has been an important tool in the last few years to not only provide scientists with the data needed to respond to epidemic threats quickly, but to also help predict the future of infectious diseases in areas where diseases were never a main concern," says Mr. Haynes. "Changing environments due to global warming have the ability to change environmental habitats so drastically that diseases such as malaria may become common in areas that have never been previously at-risk."






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Google gets into smartphone Linux OS game


Google gets into smartphone Linux OS game


Google is not getting into the handset business, but has announced that it was working on a Linux-based software platform for smartphones that promises to spur better mobile internet access, and the creation of new devices and applications.


Dubbed Android, Google's platform will include an operating system, middleware, a user interface and applications. A software developer kit is slated for release next week, and the first phones running Android are expected to hit retail shelves sometime during the second half of next year, Google executives said yesterday.


Google has enlisted 34 wireless heavyweights to develop applications on the Android platform by creating a global developer group it calls the Open Handset Alliance. Motorola, HTC and Samsung are among the handset makers that have joined. The second and third largest wireless carriers in the US, T-Mobile and Sprint Nextel, are members, as is Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo. Chipmakers Intel, Broadcom and Qualcomm are also on board.


Android is basically an opportunity to make better smartphones, according to Google's engineering director Steve Horowitz in a company video presentation. "There's no such thing as a gPhone," he said. "What we're doing is enabling an entire industry to create thousands of gPhones."


Google chief executive Eric Schmidt declined to say, on a conference call, whether Google plans to release its own mobile hardware at some future point.


The Android platform would compete with platforms on various devices, including Apple's iPhone, Research in Motion's BlackBerry, Palm's Treo and various smartphones from Nokia, the world's largest handset maker.


Nokia spokesperson Keith Nowak declined to say whether or not Nokia had been invited to Google's Open Handset Alliance. "Every time we've seen another player get into the market it's simply raised awareness," Nowak said of Google's plans, in an interview.


Based on what Google has announced so far about Android, Google doesn't appear to be offering or enabling anything different from what Nokia offers today, Nowak said. "Maybe a somewhat different model," he said. Nokia has not announced plans that it plans to launch Linux-based cell phones, but it is doing open-source internet tablet devices, Nowak noted.


Symbian, the leading mobile OS company that Nokia owns 48% of, already offers openness to application developers, Nowak said.


Paul Jarratt, Symbian's North America marcom manager, said Symbian had also been opening up some of its application programming interfaces to the developer community to try to make it easier for developers to create new Symbian OS programs.


He said Android sounds as though it would basically be similar to what Symbian offers, but it's too early to tell just how competitive Google's platform will be. "Let's see how they handle security, let's see how they handle SDKs," he said in an interview.


Google's foray into mobile software would reinvigorate the smartphone market but that Google would have its work cut out for it, Jarratt said. "At the same tie we shouldn't sit back and be complacent," he said. "Obviously, Google's someone that we shouldn't be underestimating by any stretch of the imagination."


However, the Linux mobile market is currently fragmented, with about 24 different Linux operating systems on the market, according to Jarratt.


"Which version of Linux do you create an application for? At least with Symbian you can create an application and porting it from one UI to another is relatively easy," he said. "With Linux it's difficult to know who's the controlling body and where do you get your SDKs?"


Thomas Kelly, chief executive of the leading mobile Linux OS developer Montavista, told Computer Business Review that Google, through its Open Handset Alliance, would bring power, structure and additional leadership to the mobile Linux community, and significantly spur the adoption of Linux-based cell phones.


"This is really creating a true competitive environment in the marketplace to the propriety platforms," Kelly said (read more in a Q&A with Kelly in tomorrow's ComputerGram).


Google would aggressively seed the mobile space, in order to push its search-advertising business beyond the PC, said Chris Ambrosio, a director at Strategy Analytics. "Microsoft, RIM and Symbian may struggle to match the global brand appeal and huge resources that Google is likely to commit to this latest effort,"




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Bullet Proof Material Applies Nanotechnology to Rebound, Not Spread, Force Of Bullet


Bullet Proof Material Applies Nanotechnology to Rebound, Not Spread, Force Of Bullet


Scientists have used the elasticity of carbon nanotubes to not only stop bullets penetrating material but to actually rebound their force


Engineers in Australia have designed a new bullet proof material which actually rebounds the force of a bullet. Bulletproof materials at the moment are designed to spread the force. The use of nanotechnology in design means those in the line of fire can be shot without a flinch.


Bulletproof jackets do not turn security guards, police officers and armed forces into Robocops, repelling the force of bullets in their stride. New research in carbon nanotechnology however could give those in the line of fire materials which can bounce bullets without a trace of damage.


A research paper published in the Institute of Physics' Nanotechnology details how engineers from the Centre for Advanced Materials Technology at the University of Sydney have found a way to use the elasticity of carbon nanotubes to not only stop bullets penetrating material but actually rebound their force.


Most anti-ballistic materials, like bullet-proof jackets and explosion-proof blankets, are currently made of multiple layers of Kevlar, Twaron or Dyneema fibres which stop bullets from penetrating by spreading the bullet's force. Targets can still be left suffering blunt force trauma - perhaps severe bruising or, worse, damage to critical organs.


The elasticity of carbon nanotubes means that blunt force trauma may be avoided and that's why the engineers in Sydney have undertaken experiments to find the optimum point of elasticity for the most effective bullet-bouncing gear.


Prof Liangchi Zhang and Dr Kausala Mylvaganam from the Centre for Advanced Materials Technology in Sydney, said, "By investigating the force-repelling properties of carbon nanotubes and concluding on an optimum design, we may produce far more effective bulletproof materials.


"The dynamic properties of the materials we have found means that a bullet can be repelled with minimum or no damage to the wearer of a bullet proof vest."


Working at the scale of a nanometre (one billionth of a metre), condensed matter physicists engineer structures that manipulate individual atomic and molecular interactions. Working at this microscopic scale allows engineers to design fundamentally different and useful materials.


One of these materials is nanotubes, a one-atom thick sheet of graphite, rolled into a cylinder that is held together by a very strong chemical bond called orbital hybridisation.


Nanotubes bind together into a strong 'rope' because of the Van der Waals force they share. Van der Waals is the weak attraction that molecules have for one another when they are brought close together, used, for example, by geckos when they stick to a ceiling.





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Hidden Details of Earth's Atmosphere Revealed By Orbiting Spacecraft


Hidden Details of Earth's Atmosphere Revealed By Orbiting Spacecraft


Watching the stars set from the surface of the Earth may be a romantic pastime but when a spacecraft does it from orbit, it can reveal hidden details about a planet's atmosphere.


The technique is known as stellar occultation. Jean-Loup Bertaux, Service d'Aeronomie du CNRS, France was the first to suggest its use on an ESA mission. It works by watching stars from space, while they drop behind the atmosphere of a planet under investigation, before disappearing from view below the planet's horizon.


When the stars are shining above the atmosphere, they give off radiation across a wide spread of wavelengths. As the orbit of the spacecraft carries it around the planet, the star appears to sink down, behind the atmosphere of the planet. The atmosphere acts as a filter, blocking out certain wavelengths of the star's radiation. The key to this technique is that the blocked wavelengths are representative of the molecules and atoms in the planet's atmosphere.


ESA currently has three spacecraft around three different planets that are using the technique to investigate those atmospheres. Each one is returning unique insights.


Around Earth, ESA's Envisat mission carries an instrument called GOMOS (Global Ozone Monitoring by Occultation of Stars). As its name suggests, it is designed to study whether the quantity of ozone is increasing now that the use of harmful chemicals has been banned. Since 2002, it has been watching about 400 stars set behind the Earth every day in order to build up a map of the ozone in the Earth's atmosphere for all latitudes and longitudes.


"It's still too early to say whether the ozone is recovering or not," says Bertaux. Nevertheless, as data accumulates, so the instrument is discovering other phenomena that contribute to the amount of ozone in the atmosphere. In January and February of 2004, GOMOS saw a large build up of nitrogen dioxide at an altitude of 65 km.


Nitrogen dioxide is an important gas to trace in the atmosphere because it can destroy ozone. Over the next two months, GOMOS watched as the layer sank to 45 km, clearly destroying ozone as it descended, providing scientists with another piece in the ozone puzzle.


A simplified stellar occultation instrument is onboard ESA's Mars Express. Since the spacecraft arrived at the Red Planet in 2003, SPICAM (Spectroscopy for Investigation of Characteristics of the Atmosphere of Mars) has observed more than 1000 stellar occultations. This work provides the most detailed description yet of Mars's upper atmosphere, and reveals persistent haze layers.


Apart from delivering pure science, the data provides practical benefits for future exploration missions. "Atmospheric profiles of Mars are important for designing parachutes for landing craft," says Bertaux.


The latest addition to this family of instruments is SPICAV (Spectroscopy for Investigation of Characteristics of the Atmosphere of Venus) on Venus Express. Venus has a different atmosphere again from Earth or Mars. It is much denser and SPICAV is revealing the temperature and density profiles of the atmosphere to waiting scientists on Earth, who expect to publish their results soon.


"I think the stellar occultation technique is now 'combat proven' and should be useful for further long-term studies,"




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ASUS went really crazy ?? ASUS Maximus Formula (Special Edition) review


ASUS went really crazy with the Intel P35 chipset, releasing more than a dozen motherboards equipped with it in just a matter of months. As we discovered in our 9-way Intel P35 motherboard shoot-out, the P35 is a well equipped chipset that offers excellent performance, great overclocking capabilities and a very competitive price. In fact, the price of the P35 has allowed motherboard makers to produce budget versions that cost as little as $100 as well as more extreme versions that cost $400 and beyond.
The ASUS Maximus Formula Special Edition not only features the X38 chipset but packs a whole bunch of additional features that should help it stand out from competitors' X38 products.

For starters, the Maximus Formula is a water-cooled motherboard, which is no doubt an appealing feature for many many gamers and overclockers alike. It also includes the SupremeFX II soundcard which is another feature aimed at gamers, along with a software bundle of 3D FPS game S.T.A.L.K.E.R., a copy of 3DMark 06 and Kaspersky antivirus.

However, we knew all along that the Intel X38 chipset was coming and now that has landed on retail, it's supposed to take over the high-end market segment while also replacing the aging 975X chipset. Unfortunately we have found the much anticipated X38 to be a little over hyped, as it offers nothing really new when compared to the P35 chipset.

High-end boards using either chipset will make use of the ICH9R south bridge chip, meaning they boast the same features. Performance-wise the P35 is just as fast as the X38 unless you plan to run multi-GPU configurations (SLI/Crossfire) and so far we have found the P35 to overclock just as well as the newer X38, so neither chipset has an advantage there either.

Nonetheless, simply because the X38 chipset is marketed as a high-end product (and is priced accordingly) it is expected to be used on extreme motherboard offerings such as the one we have in store today.

The ASUS Maximus Formula Special Edition not only features the X38 chipset but packs a whole bunch of additional features that should help it stand out from competitors' X38 products

Will Google fracture or unify mobile Linux? Google unveils mobile phone software strategy


Confirming its long-rumored foray into the mobile market, Google today announced an ambitious alliance with a number of handset makers, wireless carriers and other technology companies to create potentially cheaper mobile phones based on an open source platform called “Android”.

Google will not be making the phones and doesn’t plan to stamp its brand on the devices either. Instead, mobile manufacturers Samsung, HTC, Motorola and LG have all agreed to take their proprietary closed products and ‘open source’ them using Google’s platform, which will be provided to them free of charge. A development tool kit for working on the new platform will be released next week, allowing developers to create new applications and other software improvements that could spawn new uses for smart phones. However, phones powered by Google’s technology will not appear before the second half of 2008 through T-Mobile and Sprint.

The agreement could boost Google’s advertising revenue from mobile phones – a market that is expected to reach $11.4 billion worldwide by 2011. For mobile carriers, the deal could also drive sales of online services and give them an edge over rival AT&T, the exclusive U.S. carrier for Apple’s iPhone.


What really ?
to craft something useful for mobile phones out of Linux and open-source software.
OHA has by far the highest profile, it's got the most persuasive list of members, and its timing is the best. What's not yet clear is whether the "Android" work of Google and its allies will unify or further fragment work in the area.

Rallying programmers behind a unified effort could help determine whether this effort will accomplish more than the Linux Phone Standard (Lips) Forum, the Open Source Developer Labs' Mobile Linux Initiative, the Consumer Electronics Linux Forum (CELF), and most recently, the LiMo Foundation begun in 2006. Related efforts one step removed include Intel's Moblin and, Nokia's Maemo, and any number of other open-source projects.

Just as with PCs, somebody has to write a "stack" of software spanning from basic operating system functions all the way through communication utilities, user interfaces and Web browsers. Unlike PCs so far, though, the mobile phone market has suffered from a profusion of incompatible software foundations, despite some efforts to use Linux and Java to bring some common ground.


That fragmentation has meant that, for example, a programmer writing a game has had to adapt the program for each phone variation. To break even financially, a programmer must retool the software for 200 to 400 different phone varieties, according to Bill Weinberg, who has been involved in Linux mobile phones at start-up MontaVista Software, the OSDL's now-cancelled Mobile Linux Initiative, and now is general manager of the Lips Forum.

Google's plan has a lot of potential for drawing a critical mass of programmers that could help sidestep some of the fragmentation issue. For one thing, the company has a solid track record of getting programmers all fired up. That includes open-source developers and those building Web-based software that runs atop Google programming foundations, two communities important in the phone market.

For another, OHA phones are scheduled to arrive in the latter half of 2008, which gives a bit more time for the hardware to catch up with the software. Thus far, creating a svelte version of Linux for phones has proved harder than finding heavy-duty hardware that can handle the operating system and higher-level add-ons.

One significant partner in OHA is Wind River Systems, a relatively recent Linux convert that now makes a business of customizing the operating system for mobile phones and other embedded computing devices. The company, which has signed Linux support contracts for more than two dozen phone designs in the last year, will supply OHA with the operating system and integrate it with the hardware, said Chief Marketing Officer John Bruggeman.

"Over the last year or so, it's become real," Bruggeman said of Linux in mobile phones. The OHA software, including version 2.6.21 of the Linux kernel, will work fine on next year's mid-range phones, he said.

But to appeal to the maximum number of programmers, Google had the option of joining existing Linux phone efforts--most notably the LiMo Foundation, which includes NTT DoCoMo, Wind River, and Motorola as notable common OHA members.

Unlike the earlier Linux phone efforts, LiMo has a philosophical similarity with Google's effort: it's producing Linux-based software, not just interface standards that phone makers must then implement. So why not join?

"LiMo, very candidly, wasn't moving fast enough," said Bruggeman, who is a member of its board. "There's nothing like a good announcement like this that will get you back, focused, and get you to speed up," he added, predicting that the LiMo phones should arrive before the Mobile World Congress show (formerly called 3GSM) in Barcelona.

Bruggeman doesn't see competition with LiMo though, nor does the foundation's executive director, Morgan Gillis.

"Google's focus is on the mobile user experience"--higher-level interface software--"and LiMo's focus is on the underlying middleware platform," the phone software plumbing for tasks such as actually placing calls, Gillis said. A LiMo phone could run Google's software as well as alternatives such as a Vodafone's software, Gillis said.

Wind River hopes its position in both groups will help bridge the divide: a programmer using Wind River's Linux version and programming tools will be able to write software that will work on both, Bruggeman said. "Time will tell if they compete or complement or they combine, but certainly I see a role for what both bring," he said.

Another fragmentation risk is with Sun Microsystems' Java technology. OHA phones will be able to run Java ME software through use of Java software from Android partner Esmertec, the alliance said. And in a blog posting Monday, Sun Chief Executive Jonathan Schwartz was quick to paint Google's plan as a victory for Java.

But that opinion glosses over the realities of the Java marketplace. Sun hoped the Java "write once, run anywhere" software foundation would unify mobile phones, but instead different phones often implement different variations of what's now called Java Mobile Edition.

And while the Google alliance signed up for Java ME, Sun itself is headed on a different path to gradually replace Java ME with Java Standard Edition, the version that runs on desktop computers--in part to deal with the fragmentation issue.

So it's clear that fragmentation is not just yesterday's issue. No doubt, more details on Google's plans are sure to emerge next week when the alliance releases the software developer kit. Even if that will mean a relatively uniform interface for programmers, OHA will have plenty of work to do marshaling the resources of the open-source realm.

Symantec - Vontu : Symantec to buy data loss prevention firm Vontu


Symantec said Monday that it will spend US$350 million to purchase data leak prevention vendor Vontu, making it the latest security vendor to enter this new but crowded market.


The acquisition is expected to close by year's end, putting Symantec in competition with security vendors McAfee, Trend Micro, and Websense, all of whom have acquired data loss prevention companies of their own over the past year.


Vontu sells software that discovers sensitive information on the network and then prevents it from leaking out on laptops or storage devices. With state-mandated data-breach notification laws and new federal regulations making it increasingly important for companies to keep a lid on sensitive data, this kind of technology is becoming attractive to security vendors such as Symantec.


Symantec has already been shipping Vontu's software as an add-on to its Mail Security 8300 series appliances for the past year and a half.


The company's first order of business following the acquisition, however, will be to integrate Vontu's detection software into Symantec's Endpoint Protection 11.0 corporate antivirus software, said Steve Roop, vice president of marketing and products with Vontu.


After that, the software will be integrated with Symantec's archiving and backup products so that IT staff can search the network for sensitive data, he said. When that integration is completed, "rules and decisions about what sensitive data can be backed up and where it can be stored can be put in place," he said. "That's a capability that's never really existed before."


The market for Vontu's products is small, but growing, according to company officials.


In 2006, the company booked $29 million in sales, according to Roop. That number is expected to reach $43 million this year, he said.


Founded in 2001, Vontu employs a staff of about 160




In a move that reflects the growing demand in the market for data leak prevention solutions, security software maker Symantec has announced the acquisition of privately held data loss-prevention company Vontu for $350 million.


Symantec's acquisition comes after rival McAfee last month announced plans to acquire data encryption and leak prevention vendor SafeBoot for $350 million. Vontu's data monitoring and prevention software discovers sensitive information on the network and then prevents it from leaking out on laptops, storage devices or through the internet. Symantec said the software will complement its Endpoint Protection 11.0 corporate antivirus and will also be integrated with its archiving and backup products so that "rules and decisions about what sensitive data can be backed up and where it can be stored can be put in place."


Although the market for data loss prevention is still relatively small, it has undergone significant consolidation in the past few years and is estimated that companies will spend more than $3.2 billion by 2011 on software to prevent the increasingly common identity theft and data loss problems, according to research firm IDC




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