After rocketing its Mathematica application from version 6 to 7 in just 18 months, Wolfram Research's developers may need testing for blood-caffeine content. Mathematica is a powerful general computation environment for calculations, large-scale computations, complex programming, and visualizing and modeling data. After dubbing Mathematica 6 the “most important advance in its 20-year history”, Wolfram says that version 7 is a major release that adds 500 new functions and 12 new application areas. Added functionality includes image processing, built-in parallel HPC, new on-demand curated data and other new computational innovations. The firm further claims that this release has made parallel computing mainstream. Mathematica 7 has 32- and 64-bit editions for Linux x86, Solaris UltraSPARC/x86, Windows and Mac OS X.
The Neuros folks definitely think like we do. Their new Neuros LINK is a hackable, nonproprietary set-top box that connects the television to the Internet via existing open Internet standards. Neuros positions the device “squarely between the dedicated, proprietary electronics devices and the powerful but clunky and expensive personal computer”. One can play downloaded content in virtually any format from any source. Neuros also claims to have created a navigation structure that makes the LINK experience “feel like TV browsing rather than Web browsing”. Currently, the LINK is a Gamma Product—that is, the post-beta, white box preproduction stage especially geared for hackers and hard-core early adopters. Meanwhile, the accompanying Neuros.TV is a free service that enables Neuros LINK users to find, organize and share Web-based video content.
Same dog, new tricks, different owner. In other words, the popular Yellow Dog Linux (YDL) for the Cell Processor has been upgraded to version 6.1 and is now under the tutelage of the company Fixstars. The Tokyo-based Fixstars recently acquired Terra Soft Solutions, the company long associated with YDL. Fixstars states that YDL 6.1 is unique in that it drives both the desktop and development environments forward simultaneously. For end users, YDL v6.1 offers an improved graphical wireless configuration tool and the ability to use PS3 video RAM for temporary storage or swap. For developers, it offers advancements such as the new Cell Superscalar and support for the Cell's programming model. Supported platforms include Apple G4/G5, Sony PS3, YDL PowerStation and IBM Power Systems.
Though still in the prototype stage, a wireless mesh network for ships has been announced by two research institutions: Australia's NICTA and Singapore's Institute for Infocomm Research. Under normal conditions, the maritime system provides data and voice communications between port authorities, container terminals and ships via shore-based WiMax inter-ship connectivity. In poor weather conditions, the system utilizes a backup satellite system. Because, says NICTA, standard VoIP and other data-transport techniques don't work well with satellite systems, the system utilizes onboard mesh nodes and NICTA's mobile routers to handle the satellite connectivity. The shore-based system aims to deliver a 6Mbps long-range (20km) ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore mesh communication system capable of ad hoc multi-hop communication with other vessels and shore command stations.
If we open-source enthusiasts have anything to brag about, it is a great selection of robust databases. A fine case in point is Ingres Corporation's Ingres Database, which was just upgraded to version 9.2. The company bills Ingres as “flexible, simple, secure, reliable and scalable [and able to] cope with even the most complex, multilanguage requirements including business intelligence, content management, data warehousing, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and logistics management”. Core advancements in version 9.2 relate to improved application development, enhanced availability and supportability, as well as the simplification and automation of many tasks traditionally associated with maintaining a business-class database.
While the Web provides information in bulk at your fingertips, there remains no substitute for concise, authoritative reference works that are more than a stranger's brain dump. Such is the role of Benjamin W. Wah's new Wiley Encyclopedia of Science and Engineering, a five-volume, 3,300-page set with more than 450 A-to-Z articles on the latest advances and findings in computer science and engineering. Some broad topics include standards, electronic commerce, financial engineering and computer education. Each article is written by experts in their particular specialty and is peer-reviewed by two others to ensure reliability.
The father-son team of Warren D. Sande and Carter Sande think that anyone can program a computer, even a 12-year-old. The duo's new book Hello World! Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners from Manning is a “gentle but thorough introduction to the world of computer programming”. Written in a manner free of “geek speak”, Hello World! contains lots of pictures, cartoons and fun examples to hold the reader's interest. The free Python is the programming language utilized in the book. Programming concepts that are covered include memory, looping, decisions, input and output, data structures, graphics and others, which are then applied to interesting topics like computer graphics, game programming and simulations. The publisher says that Hello World! can be used in either a home or classroom setting.
In support of the needs of scientific computing, AMAX has released its new ServMax Personal Supercomputer (PSC) workstation, which it dubs “a cluster in a box”. The ServMax PSC supports up to 720 processing cores and 3 Teraflops in a single workstation. AMAX asserts that the product delivers “up to 15x cost savings and 15x lower power consumption than traditional 1U rack-optimized servers”. Targeted applications include life sciences, geosciences, engineering and sciences, molecular biology, medical diagnostics, EDA, government/defense, visualization and financial modeling. Other features include parallel architecture and NVIDIA CUDA technology.