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Optical Storage Articles

Gigabyte GO-5232A Combo Drive Review
Gigabyte's new combo drive is marketed to be the smallest solution to all your HTPC optical drive needs. For those on a budget, does it perform the way it is supposed to?

Optical Storage News

Titanfall receives updates to Hardpoint, Attrition matchmaking following Improved Matchmaking beta

5 comments Lydia Sung - 1:49pm (PST) Like (1) Share

Beta is over, time to roll out updates

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Titanfall players might notice a little something different as of today when queuing for Hardpoint and Attrition modes in multiplayer. The matchmaking process may be significantly longer, but the trade-off is better matchups.

These changes, which will take place automatically whenever you next log on to play, come shortly after last week's Improved Matchmaking Beta. As of tonight, the beta option will be removed from the menu.

Here's the brief message Respawn posted on the official Titanfall page:

Thanks to everyone who played in our Improved Matchmaking Beta during the last week. As of tonight you'll notice that option is no longer in the menu. We've updated Attrition and Hardpoints modes (non-Campaign) with improved matchmaking, so you'll be playing it automatically.

We'll continue updating matchmaking for the other modes. Stay tuned!

While some complaints state the "improved" Hardpoint and Attrition queues are stretching as long as 10 to 15 minutes. Positive remarks from the community have noted the resulting matches are much better.


Believe it, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is real and here are the screenshots and songs to prove it

11 comments Rory Young - 3:40pm (PST) Like Share

I don't think they realize what April Fool's is for

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Either Ubisoft believed that announcing a project on April Fool's was great PR or they didn't think that everyone would consider a joke. Either way, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is real, as confirmed by these newly released screenshots and songs said to come from, well, whatever Blood Dragon is.

Three tracks were released by Power Gloves, a Melbourne-based electronica band that absolutely captures the heart of the Blood Dragon we saw on April Fool's Day. Titled "Power Core", "Warzone" and "Sloan's Assault," these songs get me more hyped for whatever Far Cry 3 has in store for us in a way that a few screenshots could never manage. Gah, it's like Tron, classic 80s style, not modern, and it's perfect.

Blood Dragon's screenshots aren't bad either, however. Every shot is tinted hot pink, there's plenty of florescent lighting and giant, elaborate computers that likely work together to make coffee or some other surprisingly small task. There's a nuclear bomb, which might make sense if you're from the 80s yourself. Also, the each shot looks like it's been filtered through a low-fi television back before we had HD.

Hopefully we'll hear more on what Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon actually is from Ubisoft -- officially. In the mean time, take a look at just another very elaborate April Fool's joke.

Click here to see more images

Sony CD, DVD, UMD & Blu-ray warehouse destroyed in London riots

9 comments Leo Chan - 6:02pm (PST) Like Share

Digital Audio Disc Corporation also conducted media format research

The riots which erupted across London over the past weekend following community protest over the police shooting of a north London man are the worst the city has seen since the 1980s, revealing scenes of serious violence, property damage, and of course looting.  As the unrest continues to boil over, it's revealed that rioters managed to set ablaze the Sony Digital Audio Disc Corporation (DADC) on Monday night.

Based in Innova Park, Enfield, the DADC was a three-story, 215,000 square ft. warehouse and distribution center for Sony's optical disc products including audio CDs, DVDs, and perhaps of greater note to gamers, UMDs and Blu-ray discs.  The DADC also conducted research into upcoming optical media formats.  According to callers contacting BBC, the massive Sony DADC blaze was indeed started by miscreants who may not even have been in there for the looting.

A Sony spokeswoman confirmed that the warehouse blaze will almost certainly impact delivery of these products in London, but indie music labels which relied primarily on the DADC may well have literally seen their sole stock go up in smoke for the time being.

(Image Source:


Mushkin not sold on 25nm flash chips for solid state drives

2 comments Leo Chan - 4:35pm (PST) Like Share

How small is too small for die sizes?

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Colorado-based memory module manufacturer Mushkin today recognizes the trend to adopt smaller, more efficient memory modules for use in the increasingly mainstream SSD (solid state drives) market, but has some reservations over using some of the newer, even tinier flash chips.

SSDs are becoming more attractive as replacements for traditional electromechanical hard disk drives, because their lack of moving parts makes them quieter and less susceptible to shocks, while their use of microchips and non-volatile NAND flash memory to store data grants them much lower access times and latencies.  In other words, they're seriously fast as storage devices, and are currently ideal as boot drives for computers.

Production processes for the NAND flash memory used in SSDs themselves are constantly evolving, and manufacturers have taken to shrinking the process technology behind flash memory die sizes to further reduce manufacturing costs and remain competitive.  Thus far manufacturers have managed to get NAND flash memory die sizes down to 34-nanometers, but they're already looking to ramp up to an even smaller 25-nanometers.

Mushkin cautions in an official announcement today that they're still not entirely sold on adopting 25nm NAND chips in their SSD products.  According to the manufacturer:

"While the process reduction to 25nm reduces cost both for manufacturers and consumers, there are intrinsic drawbacks to the 25nm which give rise to problems that have not yet been solved. Because of the manner in which 25nm NAND chips interact with controllers, capacity is noticeably reduced. In addition, 25nm chips have far fewer available program erase cycles, thereby reducing endurance of SSDs with 25nm NAND."

In short, Mushkin will be sticking to using 34nm flash memory chips for their SSD products until they're convinced the industry can get around any reduced-capacity issues which may potentially affect the newer 25nm chips.

Categories: Optical Storage

128GB Blu-ray discs announced

11 comments Chris Ledenican - 10:57am (PST) Like (1) Share

Storage of the future

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The Blu-Ray Disc association has announced the 25GB and 50GB standard for Blu-ray discs is about to expand, and all the way up to 128GB.

The new Blu-ray discs come as either a triple layer 100GB offering or a 128GB quadruple layer disc, and are appropriately called BDXL. The 128GB disc is a BD-R, which can only be written once, but the 100GB model will be a fully re-writable BD-RE media.

The new discs are being billed as ways to backup large amounts of storage to meet the demands of enterprises, rather than a new standard for Blu-ray movies.

"By using the existing Blu-ray technologies we have created a long-term and stable solution for archiving large amounts of sensitive data, video and graphic images," said Victor Matsuda, BDA global promotions committee chair.

These new discs don’t have a release date, and it appears they will not be supported by current Blu-ray devices, but if the price can be kept under control, these could be an amazing storage option. However, if the past is any indicator, these discs will most likely come with a high premium at launch.

Categories: Optical Storage

Sony and Panasonic announce 3D Blu-ray players

10 comments Kevin Spiess - 12:38pm (PST) Like (2) Share (1)

2010 the year of home 3D?

Both Sony and Panasonic have recently announced inital lines of 3D Blu-ray home players and recorders. With 3D hitting it big in theaters with Avatar leading the back, and the first 3D television channel starting up this year, and a slew of new 3D displays hitting the market, it looks like this 3D ball is really starting to get rolling. The new 3D Blu-ray format was shown this year at CES, and many analysts think that it could sell well.   

From Sony, we have the BDP-S470 stand-alone player. It will sell for about $200. In addition to playing 3D discs, it can stream 3D movies, and other 3D content like concert recordings, from various distrubutors such as Netflix, Pandora and over 20 others. The BDP-S470 will take a while to work its way into stores, but near the end of the year, they should be fairly common to see.

It also seems that there will be a firmware update that will enable 3D on these other existing Blu-ray players: the BDV-E7770W, the BDV-E570, and the BDP-S570.

Panasonic is jumping right into the home 3D realm. They recently announced the opening of a new Blu-ray 3D authoring facility, and this week at the Tokya Internation Forum, they showed off four home 3D Blu-ray players. These players are expected to be available as soon as April -- but only in Japan at first.

The four new products are the MP-BDT900-K, the DMR-BWT3000 (with 2TB storage), DMR-BWT2000 (1TB), and DMR-BWT1000 (750GB). All of these except for the first one can record Blu-rays, at 6x speed. 

Who knows -- with home 3D players coming out, perhaps there will be an explosion in 3D pornography, and this will end up quickly bringing down the cost of 3D displays to were everyone can afford it. This might sound absurd, but back in the '80s, porn played a pivotal role in popularizing home VCRs, and choosing the victor in the VHS-Betamax format war (source).

Categories: Optical Storage

New DVD format records information in 5 dimensions

4 comments Kevin Spiess - 11:13am (PST) Like Share

New 1.6 TB optical discs format stores information using colors

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Many technologists have wondered what format of optical disc will inevitably come to replace the current generation of HD and BluRay DVDs. While there has been no shortage of new formats developed and considered, a new design has been gaining attention as a conceivable, and realistic possibility for the future.

Building on Pink Floyd's research into lasers (joke), the new format is called "5D DVD" and on these DVD-sized discs, up to 1.6 TB of data can be stored utilizing 5 dimensions.

When you hear "5 dimensions" some of you might imagine that the DVDs are altering the space-time continuum to store information in nano-pockets of blackholes or something, but the actual reality is a bit easier to comprehend. Using nanometre-scale particles of gold as an inscription medium, data is burnt on to the optical discs using lasers that burn information similiar to a regular DVD process involving the 'regular' three spatial dimensions. With 5D DVD however, the recording process doesn't stop after the 3D is done.  

Because of the "gold nanorods" color -- which is determined by electromagnetic wavelengths -- can also be used as the fourth dimension of information encoding on the 5D DVDs. The '5th D' is polarization: the surface can be altered to adjust the angle that light hits the disc, so this in turn adds a much greater capacity to the DVDs by allowing for information to be stored in all 5 of these ways.

The researchers behind this 5D project hail from Australia's Swinburne University of Technology. They believe the 5D DVD format has potential because the actual discs themselves are similar to contemporary DVDs and can be produced for only about 5 cents each. Silver nanorods might replace the current gold nanorods in use no, further dropping the production costs.

The primary drawback to the 5D DVD method right now is that the writing process takes a long time -- but the researchers seem confident that they can drop the time down somewhat as they develop the process.

Categories: Optical Storage

Warner offers HD-DVD trade in

0 comments Bryan McDaniel - 1:33pm (PST) Like Share

Red 2 Blu

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Were you an early adopter of HD-DVD? Now that Blu-ray has won the war, do you have a large collection of HD-DVD disks gathering dust? Warner Bros. is now offering a trade up program called Red2Blu, where you can trade in your old HD-DVDs for brand new copies in Blu-Ray. Of course, this only applies to WB titles.

The program limits you to 25 items per household. To participate, visit the Red2Blu program website, select the titles you want to trade up, then send in $4.95 per title + $6.95 S&H along with the original HD-DVD packaging artwork / box sleeve. The sleeve must be in good condition, or it will not be accepted. If you take full advantage of the program it will cost you roughly $130. Oh, and if you have a multi-disk series or collection you want to upgrade you'll have to send in each cover from each disk in the collection cutting into your 25 limit.

While this may sound like a great deal, item # 13 from the program terms has some people a little more than concerned, the item is as follows.

The replacement Blu-ray version of the Participating Title may have different special features and/or bonus material than contained on the HD DVD version of the Participating Title, including much less or no special features and/or bonus material, and/or the Blu-ray version may have a different aspect ratio (e.g., may be full screen instead of wide screen or vice versa) and/or the Blu-ray version may have a different rating or no rating.

 The program is available only for US residents, and requires you to be at least 18 years old. Program ends December 31, 2009 for those interested.


Bell to buy out The Source outlets

1 comments Sean Ridgeley - 10:31am (PST) Like Share

Circuit City subsidiary to see amalgamation

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Folks may recall January's news of U.S. electronics retailer Circuit City shutting down, with us left wondering what would happen to its Canadian subsidiary The Source.

The news in this week tells us wireless, digital TV, internet and home phone provider Bell will be capitalizing on the losses, buying the chain out and "enhancing [its] growth"; it will continue to operate as an electronics shop on top of carrying all of Bell's services.

The deal is expected to be finalized by Q3 of this year; no price has been disclosed as of yet.

"(The) acquisition supports Bell's strategic imperatives to accelerate wireless and leverage momentum in services like Bell TV, Bell Internet and Bell Home Phone," said George Cope, president and CEO of Bell and BCE.

Bell shares closed down 2.54 per cent Monday at $24.20.

The Source previously ran under the monkier of Radio Shack until it was bought by Circuit City in 2005.


Circuit City down for the count

9 comments Sean Ridgeley - 10:29am (PST) Like Share

No buyer, no refinancing, no stores

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Circuit City has had a really rough 2008. First it saw a bid from Blockbuster, then some Sony trucks turned around on them failing a delivery due to bad credit, then they closed 155 of their stores, and finally, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. There's one final note to this sad tale: the chain is now shutting down completely. In retrospect, maybe a Blockbuster acquisition would've been a good idea.

They announced today they will be liquidating their remaining 567 U.S. stores after failing to find a buyer or figure out a refinancing deal. At the time CC filed for bankruptcy protection, they held 5-10% of the US video game sector. Circuit City was the nation's second biggest electronics retailer.

There doesn't seem to be any specific liquidation sale on their website, as one might expect, though its Canadian subsidiary The Source has an up to 70% off event.

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