News Bits: Facebook Acquiring Oculus VR, the WD My Passport Pro, New Plextor SSDs, and Nvidia’s Tegra K1 Dev Kit

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The editors at Notebook Review are proud to announce the return of our weekly “News Bits” feature! This weekly roundup is where you’ll find all the notebook news of the week that you crave.

 

Facebook OculusFaceVR?

On Tuesday social media giant Facebook announced that it would be acquiring virtual reality company Oculus VR for around $2 billion in combined cash and stock. Facebook wants to extend the reach of Oculus, who are most famous for their virtual reality gaming headset the Oculus Rift, (still in development), to “communications, media and entertainment, education, and other areas.”

Facebook’s strategy of developing future technologies may lead to the Oculus Rift reaching market much faster and with improved functionality than it might have otherwise. However, many early supporters of the Rift (including Minecraft developer “Notch”) have expressed feelings ranging from disappointment to disgust at the news that Facebook now owns Oculus, with many developers thinking of pulling support for the innovative platform due to fears that Facebook will try to make it overly social and not as focused on the gaming experience.

The full press release announcement from Facebook is available here, and the deal is expected to close in Q2 2014
 

WD My Passport ProThunder… Thunder… Thunderbolt Drives!

This Thursday Western Digital announced its newest portable external hard drive, the My Passport Pro. The Mac-supported device features an integrated Thunderbolt cable for transfer speeds advertised as high as 233 MB/s, which will make it ideal for photo and video professionals who need high transfer rates for very large files.

Shipped as a RAID 0 drive for maximum storage, the two 2.5-inch drives also can be configured to RAID 1, meaning the drive capacity is split and a backup is maintained in each half to ensure retrieval of data in case a drive fails or is corrupted. The aluminum case is thoroughly shock-tested for reliability on the go, and is sleek and stylish enough to present with at a meeting.

The My Passport Pro is available now at Apple and other major electronics retailers, as well as from Western Digital directly. It comes in a 2 TB version for $299.99, or a 4 TB version for $429.99.

 

plextor m6sPlextor’s New SSDs Offer Improved Speed and Efficiency

This week marked the announcement of Plextor’s newest SSD additions, the M6S SATA and M6M mSATA drives. The Japanese-owned company advertises the M6S as being able to attain random read/write speeds of 94000/80000 MB/s with a 520/440 MB/s sequential read/write speed. Its DEVSLP power mode reduces the overall power consumption to only 2 mW as well, which Plextor says can grant a computer 30 additional minutes of battery life, and a 30-50% power efficiency advantage over the previous M5S model.

As for the M6M, this SSD can match the performance of desktop drives, meaning that even mobile devices like tablets and ultrabooks can achieve a 94K IOPS/80K IOPS speed. According to Plextor, this ultra-portable SSD will maximize system responsiveness and battery life, which should make it an appealing choice in future devices.

The Plextor M6S and M6M SSDs will be available in Q2 2014 in 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB capacities. Pricing information is not yet available for either model.

 

Jetson TK1The Jetson TK1 is Now Open for Development

This week GPU-extraordinaire Nvidia announced that its new integrated systems board is now available for preorder. The Jetson TK1 is built around the Nvidia Tegra K1 mobile System on a Chip (SOC), and uses the Nvidia Kepler core architecture (which is used to power the Titan supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratories). The embedded system kit is designed to give CUDA core processing to robotics, computer vision and image processing, and other high-processing applications. There is also an automotive-grade developer kit available.

While the dev kit is designed for embedded systems, depending on its popularity and applications, Tegra-based notebooks (or even Chromebooks) could show up in the coming year. After all, who doesn’t want supercomputer technology in their laptop?

The TK1 Development Kit can be pre-ordered for $192 in the US from nvidia.com, Microcenter and Newegg, and will ship by April 2014. It is also available for preorder from select resellers in Europe. More information on the Nvidia Jetson TK1 Development Kit (including the full hardware specifications) is available at Nvidia’s developer site, and the full press release can be found here.

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