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Wednesday News (10 Comments) (link)
 Wednesday, 30-March-2011  12:32:11 (GMT +10) - by Sciby

First cab off the rank today, OCAU forum member Draco II has written some deep thoughts about the state of electrically-driven cars and their impact on Australian motoring. "With all the buzz surrounding cars like the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Roadster, not to mention hybrid petrol-electrics like the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid, you’d think that electricity-powered cars were a relatively recent innovation. But you’d be wrong. They may be touted as the future of personal transport, but electric cars are not new to North America, Europe or even Australia." In my humble opinion, if they want hybrids and electric cars to really take off, they have to stop designing the everyday versions to look like cutesy "The lil' Car That Could" models and the Prius.

ITShootout has a guide to modifying your AMD Radeon 6950 into a 6970. "It has been a long time since we were able to turn one video card into another using just a BIOS flash, but with the Radeon HD 6950 you can do just that, providing you have a model that follows the reference design. Most reference cards look like the card below and have an identical PCB and cooler to the Radeon HD 6970." OCAU does not take responsibility for you bricking your Radeon 6950 if you attempt this. :P

If you're looking for a PC that's teeny yet still fairly powerful, Futurelooks have gotten their hands on a "ZOTAC ZBOX AD02 Plus AMD Fusion E-350 Mini-PC", unboxing and 'previewing' it in a video in the link. "We took the afternoon off to go hang with Tuan from ZOTAC who recently received their brand new ZOTAC ZBOX AD02 Plus Mini-PC. While it looks similar to the early MAG series on the outside, these low powered mini-PCs use an AMD Fusion E350 1.6GHz APU on the inside. The ZBOX AD02 comes in two flavors, the vanilla AD02 and the AD02 Plus."

Onto some benchmarking, and first we have Crysis 2 being put through the wringer by the guys at Techspot. They question as to why DirectX 11 support has been omitted and explore what the game is capable of, on a PC platform. "Crytek and EA unleashed the highly anticipated sequel to Crysis last week. While waiting for it to become available Down Under, I found myself reading numerous reviews about the game. Most were highly positive, while informal observations from bloggers and PC gamers noted that Crysis 2 has departed from some of its predecessor's gameplay essentials and feels closer to a Call of Duty-style shooter... Still relevant to our discussion however is the absence of DirectX 11 support at launch. As PC gamers ourselves, we can't help feeling a bit disappointed by Crytek's exclusive use of DirectX 9 rendering, especially considering that the original game did support DX10." I really hope there's some freedom in the game - that was one of the best parts of Far Cry and Crysis (although a lesser extent on the latter).

On a definitely less pretty, but still interesting note, Phoronix has compared some of the latest compilers, looking at their relevant performance. "Version 4.6 of GCC was released over the weekend with a multitude of improvements and version 2.9 of the Low-Level Virtual Machine is due out in early April with its share of improvements. How though do these two leading open-source compilers compare? In this article we are providing benchmarks of GCC 4.5.2, GCC 4.6.0, DragonEgg with LLVM 2.9, and Clang with LLVM 2.9 across five distinct AMD / Intel systems to see how the compiler performance compares."

This will only apply to our Canadian friends: NetFlix has reduced the quality of its video service to Canada, due to "many Canadian Internet service providers unfortunately enforce monthly caps on the total amount of data consumed" Apparently Canadians have been treated a little roughly by their ISP's, with data caps being lowered in recent months, prompting some to protest against it.

While we're with Ars Technica, if you're waiting for the iPhone "5" to be announced in the next few months (like I am), don't hold your breath. Rumours have it that the next version of Apple's mobile phone will be delayed due to the development of iTunes cloud connectivity and the integration of LTE 4G technology. "Several rumors popped up this week suggesting that Apple might push the release of both the next iPhone hardware and the next major iOS update from its usual summer release to the fall. In the wake of those rumors, which claim the announcement will coincide with a new cloud-based iTunes "locker," it's possible that Apple may use the extra time to integrate newer technologies, including Siri's AI-based, voice-controlled searching, improved mapping, and possibly LTE compatibility into next-generation iOS and iPhone hardware." Looks like I'll have to consider an Android option then, before my trusty 3G dies completely...

Finally, we have the first photo from the NASA MESSENGER probe, which entered orbit around Mercury in mid-March. Its science mission to study the inner-most planet will begin on the 4th of March. "Mercury has been snapped by NASA's MESSENGER probe, which is currently preparing itself to start on its elliptical trajectory around the planet and commence collecting data about it in earnest."

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All original content copyright James Rolfe. All rights reserved. No reproduction allowed without written permission.