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Scientists fold the Smallest Microchips ever from Graphene

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New developments from physicists from the University of Sussex could lead to faster electronic gadgets. The physicists have created tiny microchip-like objects using ‘nano-origami.’ They foresee phones as well as computers operating many thousand times faster.

The researchers worked with 2D materials, including graphene. They used structural defects within the materials to build the microchips.

These defects affect the properties of the materials, both nano-mechanical and electronic.

The researchers pinpointed the effects of defects like grain boundaries, collapsed wrinkles, and folded wrinkles using Raman mapping and atomic force microscopy.

Graphene acts as a transistor when some distortions are folded into graphene. Transistors are the basic ingredient of electronics. When a graphene strip is folded like that it acts like a microchip.

The graphene strip in question is around 100 times tinier than normal microchips.

Lead researcher Dr. Manoj Tripathi explains the mechanism: “Instead of having to add foreign materials into a device, we’ve shown we can create structures from graphene and other 2D materials simply by adding deliberate kinks into the structure. By making this sort of corrugation we can create a smart electronic component like a transistor or a logic gate.”

The technique relies on Moore’s Law, a law which stipulates that the total sum of transistors within an integrated circuit doubles every two years.

Academics and leaders in the industry have warned that Moore’s law may not necessarily apply for transistors similar in size to silicon chips.

Graphene is a material that provides a possible alternative to silicon and can help to conserve Moore’s law. The researchers are the first to create a microchip using folded graphene.

Said Professor Alan Dalton: “We’re mechanically creating kinks in a layer of graphene. It’s a bit like nano-origami. Using these nanomaterials will make our computer chips smaller and faster. It is absolutely critical that this happens as computer manufacturers are now at the limit of what they can do with traditional semiconducting technology. Ultimately, this will make our computers and phones thousands of times faster in the future.”

“This kind of technology – ‘straintronics’ using nanomaterials as opposed to electronics – allows space for more chips inside any device. Everything we want to do with computers, to speed them up, can be done by crinkling graphene like this.”

Now the researchers are hopeful for further developments in sustainable technology because this process does not require additional materials and can go on at room temperature. It saves energy.

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Microsoft to Synchronize Edge release Schedule to Google’s Chrome

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Microsoft is going to change its release time table for Edge to Chrome’s four-week interval between releases that Google announced recently.

Google announced that it would start following a four-week pace just recently and Microsoft had no choice but to follow suit.

“As contributors to the Chromium project, we look forward to the new 4-week major release cycle cadence that Google announced, to help deliver that innovation to our customers even faster,” Edge announced on their company blog on March 12th.

Just a week earlier, Google had announced its intention to release Chrome at a faster pace to keep up with Mozilla’s Firefox which was following a four-week release schedule instead of a four-week schedule.

Chrome 94 is coming out on September 21st. Chrome 95 will launch on October 19th. Microsoft will follow the same cycle. Microsoft announced that the new release cycle will begin with the Edge 94.

It has been customary for Microsoft to come out with a corresponding Edge every two days after a Chrome upgrade.

Google’s updates come out on Tuesdays, and this means that Microsoft’s comes out each Thursday. Edge 94 will therefore come out on 23rd and Edge 95 on October 21st.

Microsoft Edge is an open-source venture that builds and maintains Chrome’s core technologies. From January 2020, Edge has timed its releases to coincide with Chrome’s. It is a better alternative to delaying the release of Edge.

Chrome runs on multiple browsers, but Google has more control over it than Opera, Brave, Edge, or any of the other browsers. Google created Chromium and Google Engineers do most of the work. It is not yet clear what role Microsoft played in accelerating the release of Chrome.

If things go as Google has planned, Microsoft will offer a different version of Edge for commercial users that will last longer in between upgrades.

This release will come out at eight-week intervals instead of four weeks. Security upgrades every two weeks will provide service.

Only those organizations that have the capacity to manage their own machines will access the Extended Stable.

But even Chrome and Edge’s new eight-week release time table seems brief when compared with Firefox’ Extended Support Release that lasts at least a year with only security updates in between.

Microsoft observed yet another milestone on March 9th when it stopped supporting the original Microsoft Edge browser.

The legacy Microsoft Edge was launched with Windows 10 in 2015 but it did not gain traction. Microsoft preferred to dump its own technology for Chromium’s instead of wasting their hard work. The first new Edge for Chromium came out a year and two months ago.

Now that there is no more support for Microsoft Edge, users will run the software at their own risk, without Microsoft to fix hitches. Microsoft is preparing users to take up Edge on Chromium instead of moving to Firefox or Chrome.

This is why the Windows 10 update coming up next month will automatically remove the original Edge and install a new version.

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Consumers could soon get ARM-based Windows 10 PCs for Cheap

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So far, the Windows on Snapdragon program by Qualcomm has focused its attention on premium hardware. But the new 7cx chip is signaling a whole new direction.

The first Widows on Snapdragon portable computers came out in 2017, and since then, it has been obvious that Qualcomm is adopting a different take on portable devices.

Qualcomm’s vision is ‘always on, always connected’ and wants to achieve better PCs that wake instantly from sleep mode and whose batteries last multiple days.

Their ARM-based portable electronic devices are lightweight and fan less. The new Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 chipset is 5G enabled.

This convenience does not come without its tradeoffs. The Surface Pro X is pricey as are other Snapdragons. At a minimum price of $999, the device goes for well above what would be considered affordable. The pricey Surface Pro X is a modified Snapdragon 8cx.

Snapdragons have developed improved performance and better compatibility with apps of late, but they haven’t quite caught up with normal PCs yet for the most part.

In 2019, Qualcomm came out with the Snapdragon 7c chipset that was more affordable, but the other devices don’t yet have cheaper versions. The cheapest ARM-based Windows device costs $599 which is still expensive as far as budget laptops are concerned.

Qualcomm is still determined to go on improving on the Windows on Snapdragon. Windows Latest reports that Qualcomm is preparing to come out with a different Snapdragon 8cx Gen2 chip soon.

We don’t know much about the next offering from Qualcomm, but the article on Windows Latest explains that the device will have a clock speed significantly faster than the original, at 2.7GHz for all four cores, compared to the 7cx which hits a maximum of 2.4GHz.

The moderately higher speeds may not significantly impact the price since they will not be adopting 5G. Also, processors for ARM-based devices need to have other qualities as well, including power efficiency.

The 7cx Gen 2 may not necessarily come in devices costing less than -£500, and we are yet to see whether it will register satisfactory performance and sufficient compatibility options to pull users from AMD and Intel devices.

If both of these wishes come true, it will make Windows on Snapdragon a major player in the budget laptop market.

There are other companies besides Qualcomm that are developing ARM-based computers. Samsung, Microsoft, and AMD are all working on their own improved models of ARM-based devices.

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Australia Forces Tech Firms to Pay News Providers for Content

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Facebook and Google will now have to pay news outlets in Australia for their content, after Australian legislators passed a law requiring tech firms to pay for content from news outlets within Australia.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook was party to discussions on the amendments to the laws.

During the negotiations, Facebook blocked users in Australia from using Facebook to share news. The service was restored on Tuesday following the agreements.

Per the new changes, Australia will exempt Facebook from the code if Facebook signs enough agreements with local news outlets to compensate them for news content.

All the tech firms affected by the new code have one month to achieve compliance. The amendment satisfied Rod Simms, who prepared the code in his role as competition regulator. Sims believed that the law would serve to reduce the imbalance between news outlets in Australia and tech giants Facebook and Google.

“All signs are good,” Sims explained. “The purpose of the code is to address the market power that clearly Google and Facebook have. Google and Facebook need media, but they don’t need any particular media company, and that meant media companies couldn’t do commercial deals.”

Australians were not too excited about Facebooks ban on sharing news because government as well as non-profit pages were also affected. Even public health organizations crucial to keeping people informed about the Covid-19 pandemic were not spared.

The effect of the new law will be to institute a groundbreaking protocol for handling disputes in Australia. Other governments will be keenly following the new process.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that Bing would replace Google’s search engine if Google opted to pull out of Australia in protest of the new rules. Morrison even spoke personally to Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft to discuss the scenario.

A conglomerate of 161 regional newspapers in Australia known as County Press Australia is apprehensive that smaller publications in smaller towns may not benefit from the deals committing tech firms to pay for news content.

Sims said he expected platforms Google and Facebook to first make deals with businesses in large city, but that all journalism outlets would benefit eventually.

“I don’t see any reason why anybody should doubt that all journalism will benefit,” he said.

“These things take time. Google and Facebook don’t have unlimited resources to go around talking to everybody. I think this has got a long way to play out,” he added.

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