2018 iPad Pro Rumored to Feature Octa-Core A11X with Neural Engine

A rumor that Apple will beef up the processing power on its devices next year shouldn’t come as a surprise. But, according to supply chain reports, that might include an upgraded A11 system-on-a-chip with two additional cores.

According to Taiwanese supply chain sources cited by MyDrivers, Apple is set to debut an A11X chipset in next year’s iPad Pro models. The A11X would add two additional processing cores to Apple’s next generation chip, bringing to the total from six to eight.

Of those eight cores, three of said to be high-performance cores internally dubbed “Monsoon,” but the remaining five would be energy-efficient cores called “Mistral,” according to the Chinese language online publication.

In addition to extra processing cores, the A11X would be produced with a new 7-nanometer manufacturing process developed by Apple supplier and chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC). For comparison, the current-generation A11 Bionic is created with a 10-nanometer process. While this is a bit of an oversimplification of the production process, in general, a smaller nanometer fabrication process will result in chips that are more powerful and more power-efficient.

It’s also worth noting, at this point, that supply chain rumors seem to indicate that Apple has tapped Samsung to be the sole producer of next-generation A12 chips for the 2018 iPhone lineup. While it’s still early, rumor has it that that chipset will also be made with a 7-nm process.

2018 iPad Pro

As far as everything else we know about Apple’s next generation of iPad Pros, we’re already hearing quite a bit. For one, Apple will likely release successors to both its 12.9-inch and its newer 10.5-inch models. Apple is also expected to nix the Home button on the new tablets and replace fingerprint authentication with Face ID. Of course, this would mean that the rumored A11X chipset would also include a neural engine like the A11 Bionic does.

One thing that won’t change: the display. Because OLED panels are still incredibly costly, Apple is rumored to stick to LCD displays for its 2018 iPad lineup. But, without the Home button, analysts predict that Apple will adopt a new design with significantly reduced bezels — which could allow for thinner and lighter tablets.

Still, because of the lack of an OLED display, we shouldn’t expect a true edge-to-edge display akin to the iPhone X for next year’s iPad Pros. It’s much more likely that Apple will retain some bezel around the device, particularly near the top, to house the TrueDepth Camera system for Face ID. And yes, that means there probably won’t be a distinct and outstanding “notch” on the new iPad Pros. Instead, the sensor housing could be flush with the slim bezel surrounding the display, as you can see in our 2018 iPad Pro concept images.

iDrop News

‘Football Manager Touch 2018’ Brings New Graphics Engine, Medical Center, and Other Useful Additions

Football Manager Mobile 2018 [$ 8.99] is out today, so those who only have a phone or those who like a simpler, faster experience are probably already playing well into their first season. But those who have recent tablets and want an experience closer to the PC one are anxiously waiting for Football Manager Touch 2018 to hit on November 24th (two weeks delayed). So far, Sports Interactive has been quite stingy with details on the upcoming game, but the Steam version is up now, and that provides details on what is new for this year and should help you decide whether you should buy Football Manager Touch 2018 once it comes out or whether you should stick with the previous version (if you already own that).

The first major addition is a new graphics engine and match interface that should make match day look better than before. Hard to judge by just a screenshot, but the graphics do look better. There’s also revamped scouting, a new Medical Center that helps you stay on top all those injuries, better transfers, and new player roles and tactical improvements that make it easier to manage player tactics. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the new dynamics system made it to the Touch version. What do you think of these additions? Do they make the game worth buying?

TouchArcade

SpaceX rocket engine explodes during test at Texas facility

On Sunday, one of SpaceX’s rocket engines exploded during a test at the company’s facility in McGregor, Texas — and now it’s investigating what happened, The Washington Post reported. The mishap occurred during a “qualification test” of a Merlin engine meant to be used during a Falcon 9 launch in late 2018. SpaceX says that no one was injured during the event and that it shouldn’t affect the company’s launches moving forward.

“We are now conducting a thorough and fully transparent investigation of the root cause,” SpaceX spokesperson John Taylor said in a statement to The Verge. “SpaceX is committed to our current manifest and we do not expect this to have any impact on our launch cadence.”

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We Just Completed a Record-Breaking Test of a Revolutionary Ion Engine

X3 Hall-effect

When it comes to the future of space exploration, a number of new technologies are being investigated. Foremost among these are new forms of propulsion that will be able to balance fuel-efficiency with power. Not only would engines that are capable of achieving a great deal of thrust using less fuel be cost-effective, they will be able to ferry astronauts to destinations like Mars and beyond in less time.

This is where engines like the X3 Hall-effect thruster comes into play. This thruster, which is being developed by NASA’s Glenn Research Center in conjunction with the US Air Force and the University of Michigan, is a scaled-up model of the kinds of thrusters used by the Dawn spacecraft. During a recent test, this thruster shattered the previous record for a Hall-effect thruster, achieving higher power and superior thrust.

Hall-effect thrusters have garnered favor with mission planners in recent years because of their extreme efficiency. They function by turning small amounts of propellant (usually inert gases like xenon) into charged plasma with electrical fields, which is then accelerated very quickly using a magnetic field. Compared to chemical rockets, they can achieve top speeds using a tiny fraction of their fuel.

However, a major challenge so far has been building a Hall-effect thruster that is capable of achieving high levels of thrust as well. While fuel efficient, conventional ion engines typically produce only a fraction of the thrust produced by rockets that rely on solid-chemical propellants. Hence why NASA has been developing the scaled-up model X3 thruster in conjunction with its partners.

The development of the thruster has been overseen by Alec Gallimore, a professor of aerospace engineering and the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering at the University of Michigan. As he indicated in a recent Michigan News press statement:

“Mars missions are just on the horizon, and we already know that Hall thrusters work well in space. They can be optimized either for carrying equipment with minimal energy and propellant over the course of a year or so, or for speed—carrying the crew to Mars much more quickly.”

New Records

In recent tests, the X3 shattered the previous thrust record set by a Hall thruster, achieving 5.4 newtons of force compared with the old record of 3.3 newtons. The X3 also more than doubled the operating current (250 amperes vs. 112 amperes) and ran at a slightly higher power than the previous record-holder (102 kilowatts vs. 98 kilowatts). This was encouraging news, since it means that the engine can offer faster acceleration, which means shorter travel times.

The test was carried about by Scott Hall and Hani Kamhawi at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Whereas Hall is a doctoral student in aerospace engineering at U-M, Kamhawi is NASA Glenn research scientist who has been heavily involved in the development of the X3. In addition, Kamhawi is also Hall’s NASA mentor, as part of the NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship (NSTRF).

Artist’s concept of Dawn mission using its blue ion engine to reach Ceres in the distance. Credit: NASA/JPL

This test was the culmination of more than five years of research which sought to improve upon current Hall-effect designs. To conduct the test, the team relied on NASA Glenn’s vacuum chamber, which is currently the only chamber in the US that can handle the X3 thruster. This is due to the sheer amount of exhaust the thruster produces, which can result in ionized xenon drifting back into the plasma plume, thus skewing the test results.

NASA Glenn’s setup is the only one with a vacuum pump powerful enough to create the conditions necessary to keep the exhaust clean. Hall and Kamhawi also had to build a custom thrust stand to support the X3’s 227 kg (500 pound) frame and withstand the force it generates, since existing stands were not up to the task. After securing a test window, the team spent four weeks prepping the stand, the thruster, and setting up all the necessary connections.

Scott Hall makes some final adjustments on the thruster before the test begins. Credit: NASA

All the while, NASA researchers, engineers and technicians were on hand to provide support. After 20 hours of pumping to achieve a space-like vacuum inside the chamber, Hall and Kamhawi conducted a series of tests where the engine would be fired for 12-hours straight. Over the course of 25 days, the team brought the X3 up to its record-breaking power, current and thrust levels.

Future Testing

Looking ahead, the team plans to conduct more tests in Gallimore’s lab at U-M using an upgraded vacuum chamber. These upgrades will are schedules to be completed by January of 2018, and will enable the team to conduct future tests in-house. This upgrade was made possible thanks to a $ 1 million USD grant, contributed in part by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, with additional support provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and U-M.

A side shot of the X3 firing at 50 kilowatts. Credit: NASA

The X3’s power supplies are also being developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne, the Sacramento-based rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer that is also the lead on the propulsion system grant from NASA. By Spring of 2018, the engine is expected to be integrated with these power systems; at which point, a series of 100-hour tests that will once again be conducted at the Glenn Research Center.

The X3 is one of three prototypes that NASA is investigating for future crewed missions to Mars, all of which are intended to reduce travel times and reduce the amount of fuel needed. Beyond making such missions more cost-effective, the reduced transit times are also intended to reduce the amount of radiation astronauts will be exposed to as they travel between Earth and Mars.

The project is funded through NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnership (Next-STEP), which supports not just propulsion systems but also habitat systems and in-space manufacturing.

The post We Just Completed a Record-Breaking Test of a Revolutionary Ion Engine appeared first on Futurism.

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This is how to teach a search engine what your business does


Search engines are powerful tools for bringing people to your business. The challenge that many entrepreneurs face, however, is that they’re not well-versed in how to communicate with the robots that control the algorithm behind Google and Bing. Your business might be the absolute best at what it does. But you need to follow a set of concrete steps to share your story and reach your target audiences as a result. Fellow entrepreneurs and search engine experts share their best tips: Know the difference between search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine Optimization (SEO) Jeffrey Bumbales, marketing associate at small…

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