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Computer Tech News – January 4, 2011

The CES show brings the future of home electronics to Las Vegas. Government scientists create world’s smallest battery. Google Earth goes 3-D. These and other interesting stories from the world of computers and technology await in this week’s edition of Tech World News.

CES Show Opens This Week

Consumer Electronics ShowThe annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is scheduled to run January 6-9 in Las Vegas. The world’s largest electronics trade show, the CES is expected to feature more than 2,700 exhibitors, many of them debuting their next-generation of gizmos, gadgets and gewgaws for home and office. Among the expected highlights: lots of new tablet computers to compete with Apples’ iPad, 3-D TVs, quad-core notebook computers and super-high-end mobile phones. This is an industry-only show, so don’t expect to be able to buy tickets. But check your favorite tech news websites for what are sure to be hourly updates.

U.S.D.E Creates Micro-Battery to Unlock Lithium’s Secrets

MicrobatteryScientists working with the U.S. Department of Energy (USDE) have created what is arguably the world’s smallest ion-lithium battery. A mere 100 nanometers wide — one seven-thousandth the thickness of a human air — the itsy-bitsy battery allows researchers to observe how ion-lithium batteries gain and lose charge at microscopic level. Their goal: to create a new generation of super-small, super-efficient batteries to power the mobile electronic devices of the future.

Google Launches Google Earth 6

Google EarthGoogle has just launched the sixth and latest incarnation of its popular Google Earth application. Like its predecessors, Google Earth 6 allows users to drop from “outer space” into virtually any location on the planet and take a low-altitude or even ground-level tour of the terrain. New features included in Google Earth 6 include an enhanced “Pegman” virtual travel assistant, a 3-D tree and 3-D building feature that allows users to get additional information on both natural and man-made features in the area, and new button on the navigation bar that brings up historical views of the location being surveyed. Google Earth 6 is available for free as a download from Google.

Scottish Researchers Create 1,000-core Processor

ProcessorResearchers at Scotland’s Glasgow University have created a new computer chip dubbed a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) that allows the user to divide its transistors into small dedicated groups, in effect creating a 1,000-core processor. The creators claim that by allowing users to make these assignments instead of relying on factory settings, their FPGA can achieve speeds about 20 times faster than processors in current PCs. Admittedly a prototype device, the creators wanted to “demonstrate a convenient way to program FPGAs so that their potential to provide very fast processing power could be used much more widely in future computing and electronics.”

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