Tag Archives: electronics

Will the Thailand floods drown the hard drive?

Will the Thailand floods drown the hard drive? | ExtremeTech.

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There’s fresh news on the imminent hard drive shortages the IT industry is facing, and it isn’t particularly good. Asus’s CFO, David Chang, has warned that the company’s supplies of HDDs will run out by the end of November.

“Substitutes for HDD are very few, so if the situation persists, not only notebook production will be affected but also desktops, and other component shipments will also drop,” Chang told Reuters. Retail prices on HDDs are already skyrocketing. The 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3?s price has risen to $79 at Newegg, up from $69 not two weeks ago. It’s now the only 1TB drive south of a Benjamin. WD’s Caviar Green series is now up to $109 with high performance drives like the Caviar Black all the way back to $169 for a 1TB model.

Hitachi’s Deskstar 7K3000, which debuted this spring at $180 for a 3TB drive, is now selling on Newegg for a cool $399. Consumer prices are being driven by speculation, though its impossible to say if Newegg or the drive manufacturers themselves are responsible. Between the two, Newegg seems the more likely suspect. Raising HDD prices immediately may win the HDD manufacturers greater profits in the short term, but it erodes the crucial cost/GB ratio between HDDs and SSDs. Even at current retail prices, there’s still no real subsitute for a hard drive. At a certain point, however, customers will stop preferring large capacity drives at purchase, and begin opting for smaller SSDs, possibly with plans to pick up a USB 3.0-powered external once HDD prices fall again.

WD Factory, Thailed

The best way to keep that from happening is for the HDD manufacturers to keep as tight a reign on OEM costs as possible. Thus far, the price spikes here have been more modest; Asus reports jumps of 20-40 percent on certain models. Drive sourcing could become a major problem in the months to come as this type of shortage provides explosively fertile ground for a gray market in HDDs and HDD components. OEMs on razor-thin margins are going to be under enormous pressure to keep costs low, and aren’t likely to ask too many questions when it comes to securing drives.

Thailand, meanwhile, has no quick relief to offer. The government has stated that it hopes to have factories up and running again in three months, though it will take still more time for swamped industrial complexes to return to full output.

Chaos radar uses messy signals to see through walls

Chaos radar uses messy signals to see through walls – tech – 27 July 2011 – New Scientist.



A NEW type of radar which harnesses chaos theory can see clearly through walls and could help find survivors in disasters. The technology could also make on-board radar a practical proposition for cars.

Ultra-wideband (UWB) radar is already used to “see” through walls. It can detect the presence of people on the other side of a barrier by distortions to the reflected radio waves caused by their breathing or heartbeat. However, the radar returns are often cluttered by interference, obscuring the signal.

Now, Henry Leung and colleagues at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, have found a way to sharpen the signal, which gets lost among multiple reflections within walls, known as reverberation, and by returns bouncing back via different routes.

Existing UWB radars typically use a random noise signal to avoid interference between waves of the same wavelength. But because the outgoing signal is not known it takes more processing to match it to the return. A second approach is to use a wide range of sequential frequencies; this is easier to match but more prone to interference.

Leung’s team are using a “chaotic oscillator” to generate their signal. The device creates what seems like random noise, but which is actually generated by a fixed algorithm. It is matched by a receiver using the same algorithm. Because the outgoing signal is known, it is as easy to process as spread-spectrum signals. It is also irregular, like random noise, meaning reflections are less likely to interfere with each other.

In tests, the chaotic signal produced better results than the other approaches. “It captures the desired properties of these two systems,” says Leung. This means the radar can see reliably through more layers.

Leung’s colleagues suggest that chaos radar could be used as an on-board sensor for vehicles as part of a smart traffic-management system. As chaos signals do not interfere with each other, many could operate in the same area.

Karl Woodbridge, who researches radar systems at University College London, warns that there may be some way to go before practical hardware emerges. “There are many complications in a real-world scenario which are not easy to predict in simulations.”