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The best HDR monitors

Computer monitors are starting to support high dynamic range (HDR), which means they can handle more detail in the brightest and darkest parts of an image, along with a wide color gamut. HDR has proven a revolution among HDTVs, and every high-end television now supports it.

Our selection of the best HDR monitors is still a bit slim as of now, but there are a few available. Here’s the best you can buy right now.

The Best

Samsung CF791

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Samsung’s outstanding CF791 isn’t on this list because it supports HDR. It’s on this list because the 34-incher display is our favorite ultrawide monitor – and it just so happens to support HDR. Bonus!

Everything we like about the CF791 contributes to its excellence when displaying HDR content. Its contrast ratio is higher than its competitors. This monitor also uses quantum dots to deliver inky blacks, a wide color gamut, and great color accuracy. It offers a 100Hz panel and FreeSync support, which should appeal to gamers with Radeon video cards. Samsung quotes a maximum brightness of 300cd/m2, and our own testing registered a maximum of 299 lux.

Originally priced at $1,000, the CF791 can be found online for $750. It’s near the end of its lifespan and will likely be replaced by a successor in early 2018, but until then, you may be able to find this monitor at a (relatively) low price. We highly recommend it even if you don’t care about HDR.

Our full review

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The Rest

Samsung CHG90

If you’d worried the 34-inch Samsung CF791 is too small (hah!), we have good news. Samsung also makes a 49-inch ultrawide, the CHG90. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s 49 inches wide diagonally, with a 32:9 aspect ratio and 3,840 x 1,080 resolution. It’s like placing two 27-inch, 1080p monitors side-by-side, but without the bezel.

The technology inside the CHG90 is much like the CF791, using the quantum dots to deliver great contrast, a wide color gamut, and solid color accuracy. Its image quality isn’t all that sharp, which is the CHG90’s main weakness. However, its quoted brightness is higher than the CF791, at 350cd/m2. VESA recently certified it as the first DisplayHDR 600 monitor. The panel even has FreeSync support, and refreshes at 144Hz, so its good for fast-paced games.

Though it MSRPs at $1,500, recently sales have dropped the CHG90 to $1,000. That’s a lot of money, but given its incredible size, it seems reasonably priced. If you want a huge, HDR-compatible screen, this is the one to buy.

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LG 32UD99-W

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

The two monitors we’ve mentioned so far are ultrawides – great for gaming and movies, but not everyone’s first choice. If you want a more traditional, 16:9 screen, the LG 32UD99-W is a good pick. It offers a 31.5-inch, 4K panel, along with HDR10 support and a wide color gamut.

Our testing found the offered decent contrast, a large color gamut, and good color accuracy straight out of the box. Yet the LG 32UD99-W seems best for people who don’t mind getting their hands dirty with technical details. It offers a wide range of settings, and its color accuracy went from good to outstanding after calibration.

LG also promises a maximum luminance of 550 nits. In our testing, we saw up to 360 nits. That’s quite better than average, and it means the LG can handle detail in HDR content better than the Samsung CF791, which isn’t as bright. It’s a 4K screen, too, so you can view 4K HDR films just as you would on a television.

The downside is the price. You’ll have to pay at least $900, and most retailers sell the LG 32UD99-W for closer to its $1,000 MSRP. We’d rather buy one of the Samsungs, but if you want a more traditional monitor, the LG 32UD99-W is one of the best.

Our full review

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Acer ET322QK

We’ve talked about some great monitors on this list, but they’re all expensive. Most people can’t justify spending as much on a monitor as they might on a television. Luckily, the new Acer ET322QK offers an affordable choice.

With an MSRP of $500 and a real-world price of $450 at many retails, you might expect compromise on size and pixel count. Nope. This Acer is a 32-inch, 4K monitor. It even offers AMD FreeSync support for gamers, though the panel refreshes at the usual 60Hz.

So, what’s the catch? We haven’t tested the ET322QK in our office, so we can’t say whether its color accuracy or gamut match LG’s 32UD99-W. What we can say, though, is that Acer only quotes a brightness of 300 nits. That’s on par with the Samsung CF791, but lower than the LG, so images won’t appear as bright and HDR content won’t squeeze in as much detail.

Still, it’s hard to ignore this monitor’s feature set and bargain price. This might be the compromise budget-minded buyers are looking for.

See it

Wait! Before you buy!

All the monitors above are good picks, but don’t expect them to match today’s HDR-compatible HDTVs. PC displays aren’t bright enough to make the most of HDR. You’ll see more detail than you would in a non-HDR monitor, but extremely bright scenes will still look washed out, and colors won’t pop as they do on a quality television. We’ve mused more on the subject already, and we’re expecting to hear quite a bit more about HDR monitors heading into CES 2018. In the end, we suggest you pick the monitor that’s best for you overall, and treat HDR as a nice but unnecessary bonus – for now, at least.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • HDR monitors are here, but don’t get your wallet out yet
  • Vizio M-Series (M65-EO) review
  • LG 32UD99-W review
  • LG dishes out holiday cheer with a 27-inch FreeSync display for AMD gamers
  • The CineHome HT2550 boasts Ultra HD 4K resolution at an entry-level price


How to enable Chromecast ‘Guest mode’


You don’t have to share your whole network just to let someone use your Chromecast.

The one significant usability hurdle around the Chromecast is that it has no dedicated interface or controls. But a great way to relieve some of that pressure when you have friends and family over is to enable what’s called “Guest mode.” With a little setup ahead of time, you can let people Cast to your Chromecast without getting them onto your home Wi-Fi network first.

How to set up Guest mode on your Chromecast

Setting up Guest mode takes just a minute.

Open the Google Home app and make sure you’re signed in with the Google account you used to set up your Chromecast.
Tap on the “Devices” button in the top-right corner of the app.
Scroll down to the Chromecast you want to enable Guest mode on.
Tap the menu button (three vertical dots) and tap Guest Mode.
Tap the toggle to on. It will turn blue.
Make note of the four-digit PIN listed under “Guest mode.”


Once Guest mode is enabled, it remains enabled until you choose to turn it off.

How to use Guest mode

With Guest mode enabled, people in the same room as your Chromecast will be able to access it and play content just as if they were on your Wi-Fi network without actually being connected to it. The Chromecast will continue to pull data directly from your Wi-Fi network, saving the guest from large data usage on their device and providing a consistent experience.

Make sure your TV is turned on and switched to the proper input for your Chromecast.
Have your guests open an app that supports Google Cast, and tap the Cast button.
Because they’re not on a Wi-Fi network, the phone will automatically start searching for “nearby devices.”
If the phone is able to, it will automatically connect to the Chromecast that has Guest mode enabled.
If the auto-pair doesn’t work, there will be an on-screen prompt to *enter the four-digit PIN generated earlier.

  • The Guest mode PIN is available in the Google Home app, and on the Chromecast backdrop on the TV.
  • Enter the PIN and tap Connect.

Once connected, guests can send commands to the Chromecast just as if they were on the Wi-Fi network.

  • This includes managing content queues, switching apps and even pausing and playing remotely from the phone.


If that all seems a little clunky, that’s because it kind of is. Even though things go more smoothly once you’ve set up Guest mode previously, it may be easier in the first place to just let your guests connect to your home Wi-Fi network if they plan on using your Chromecast extensively. But if that’s not possible for whatever reason, Guest mode is a great backup solution that does work when you follow the process.



  • Chromecast vs. Chromecast Ultra: Which should you buy?
  • Chromecast and Chromecast Audio review
  • Chromecast Ultra vs. Roku
  • Join the discussion in our forums


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How to set up Xbox party chat on Android


Microsoft is pushing Party Chat to its mobile Xbox apps. Here’s how to get up and running on Android.

Xbox party chat has been available on the console and the Windows 10 Xbox app on PC until now, but not in the mobile apps for iOS and Android. That’s soon going to change and the feature is now available to Xbox gamers to beta test.

On iOS that requires being accepted into a test program, but on Android, anyone can give it a go by downloading the Xbox beta app from the Play Store.

Here’s how you get your party started.


Tap on the three people icon along the top bar.
Tap start a party.
Tap on invite.
Select the friends you want to add.

Each invited member will receive a notification in the usual ways on their console or PC, but now on their phone as well when signed in to the Xbox app. When the party all joins up, the Android app automatically goes into a hands-free call through your phone’s speakers unless you have headphones connected.


Once in a party, there are things you can do, too, in the Android app.

  • Make party invite-only – Make it so you have to invite new members yourself.
  • Mute party – Mutes all party audio.
  • Mute me – Tapping on yourself will give you the option to just mute yourself while hearing the rest of the party.
  • Mute others – Tapping on any other member of the party presents the option to mute that person if you started the party.
  • Open profile – Goes to either your or your party members Xbox Live profile pages.
  • Show text chat – Party chat has text as well as voice but it will only show up upon tapping this option.
  • Remove from party/Leave party – You can kick out other members or leave yourself by tapping the relevant option.

Performance so far seems pretty good. Audio quality is clear, and the chat integrates into the phone’s call volume option, not the media volume, so you can still listen to music while also indulging in a little party chat action. Inevitably, you’ll get a better overall experience using a headset with a built-in microphone, but it’s perfectly usable without.

Initially, the feature is exclusive to the Xbox Beta app which you can download from the Play Store. There’s no current timeline on it progressing to the main Xbox app, but anyone can download the beta version and give it a go.

Download Xbox beta


GearVR was the ‘Evolve’ and ‘Left 4 Dead’ studio’s savior

“Chaotic.” That’s how Turtle Rock Studios president Steve Goldstein described the 14 months between its last AAA game, Evolve, being effectively killed and now. The four-hunter-versus-one-gigantic-monster online multiplayer game struggled to retain players after it was released for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in early 2015.

Last June, Evolve transitioned from a $60 game to a free-to-play one. As a result, it went from roughly 100 players per month to more than 15,000. You’d think that would have been enough to keep the lights on, but you’d be wrong. Four months later, publisher 2K Games pulled the plug, saying that while the servers would remain online for the foreseeable future, the game wouldn’t be getting any more updates.

“It was absolutely looking bleak, but sadly that’s not unusual in our space,” Goldstein said. “Everyone who works here knows that they are taking a risk, right? That’s not a problem unique to us.”

If all you’ve paid attention to are headlines on gaming and tech news sites, you’d think that Turtle Rock has been on the ropes ever since. But in the last year or so, thanks to Oculus’ aggressive investments in virtual reality games and other experiences, Turtle Rock has been quietly building a mobile VR safety net in case its next $100 million project goes the way of Evolve.

“We knew we needed to do something besides being a one-game studio,” Goldstein said. The team had developed a relationship with Oculus’ current VP of content Jason Rubin while he was at THQ, the now-defunct original publisher for Evolve.

After chatting with Rubin at his new Facebook-sponsored digs and finding out what Oculus was looking for, Turtle Rock put together Other Worlds, a quiet, meditative experience that places you inside a trio of gorgeous 360-degree panoramas. It’s not really a game in the traditional sense — you’re stuck in place, for one — but it gave Oculus enough confidence in the studio to let it keep experimenting.

Turtle Rock’s next project, 2016’s Face Your Fears, was a little more traditional. It’s a free-to-play jump-scare game that puts you in situations like a prop plane whose engine started sputtering or a child’s bedroom where malevolent clown dolls fall off bookshelves and closet doors open and slam shut. So far it’s racked up 1.6 million downloads — almost double the number of players Evolve had at its free-to-play peak. That isn’t lost on the team.

Studio co-founder and design director Chris Ashton said that there was pressure to succeed with VR given the Left 4 Dead creator’s AAA lineage. “We’re always proud of the product we deliver, so the expectation was that we would basically go into VR and we would kick ass,” he said.

Which brings us to the team’s latest project, The Well. Throughout our conversation, the team kept referring to The Well as its “first” VR game despite its prior work in the space, and the team hopes it’s a lot of players’ first role-playing game in general.


Turtle Rock Studios/Oculus

You pick a character archetype, and then a baphomet-like god (above) sends you on a quest to defeat a demon hell-bent on destroying the painterly world of Tholl. Along the way, you level up, meet and recruit new party members and take part in countless random turn-based battles. It might sound simplistic, but this is a brand-new medium for the studio on a nascent platform where “Turtle Rock” doesn’t mean much, if anything.

The team spent a bulk of its development time on The Well solving basic problems that haven’t been an issue in decades. Specifically, moving around an environment in first person. Get it wrong in VR and you could make the player sick. When I played the game this week with turning and movement speed set to “high” I felt nauseous, but bumping it down a notch to “medium” made for a much more enjoyable time.

“There’s a lot more ways to make someone super nauseated in VR than there are to make it a comfortable, fun experience,” said Chloe Skew, a producer on The Well.

The game came out in October, but so far hasn’t attracted an audience to the degree Face Your Fears has. Exact download numbers weren’t available at press time, but in two months, the game only has 44 reviews on the mobile marketplace; Face Your Fears has almost 29,000.


We’re a triple-A studio, we’re always proud of the product we deliver, so the expectation was we’d go into VR and we would kick ass.

There’s a big difference between the two, though: The latter is free, whereas The Well costs $5. Goldstein chalks that up to the fact that the GearVR platform as a whole caters toward casual consumers who don’t spend money on games and likely got their headset as part of a promo. For him, releasing The Well on GearVR was an experiment.

Chris Ashton, Turtle Rock co-founder

“We wanted to see how much of our audience that we currently have would would potentially convert” to paying for a game, Ashton said. One tactic for that is advertising The Well within Face Your Fears to see if that will give it a sales bump. Goldstein is counting on the all-in-one Oculus Go to be the “full-blown launch” of The Well and where the game finds its player-base. He said that at that point, people will have paid $200 for the headset so they’ll be primed to buy games for it, increasing the likelihood that they’ll spend more than just a few minutes in VR.

The game’s current sales don’t mean that the team is moving on and going back to the cheap thrills a free jump-scare game provides. They also don’t mean Turtle Rock is going to abandon VR and return to making games for platforms like PC and consoles where the studio’s reputation alone is enough to attract players. Beyond re-learning game design fundamentals like player locomotion, VR allows Turtle Rock to rebuild its reputation from scratch too.

Goldstein spoke of a 50-something Swedish woman who loves filming herself getting frightened by playing Face Your Fears; she then uploads the footage to YouTube. “I can guarantee you she’s never heard of Evolve or Left 4 Dead,” he said. “She’s awesome.” But isn’t that frustrating? Spending 15 years building a name as a studio only to have to start from scratch with a new audience?

“I think it’s liberating, actually,” said art director Justin Cherry. There are a few reasons for that. For one, it gives the studio a chance to make its name mean something for an entirely new audience that otherwise wouldn’t have heard of it. It makes sense from a business perspective too. If the studio’s pitching a first-person shooter to a typical publisher, almost everyone is going to take a meeting with the Left 4 Dead team. But if it’s pitching an RPG like The Well that might not be the case.

thewellpointer.gifThe Well uses the GearVR controller for interacting with the world.

“Let’s say one of these other titles that we’re working on that is in a genre we’ve never done before moves a million units or two million units,” Goldstein proposed. “This is a huge opportunity for us to expand our business.”

Goldstein said that had it not found early success with its Oculus work it probably wouldn’t have kept at it. After all, despite Facebook’s absurdly deep pockets, it isn’t going to repeatedly invest in failure. He said that Turtle Rock’s smaller-scale VR games weren’t initially a way to subsidize the risk of making $100 million AAA games, even though that’s kind of what’s happened as a matter of course.

In the meantime, there are still months before the Go’s ambiguous “early 2018” release window, and Turtle Rock still has work to do. Currently, the studio has an unannounced AAA game in the pipeline, in addition to a pair of VR projects. “Could the Go be a dud? I have no idea,” Cherry said. “What I do know is when Mark Zuckerberg says he wants a billion people in VR, he’s going to find way to get there, so if it’s not the Go, it’s gonna be something.”


Amazon and PayPal Still Have $100 Digital iTunes Gift Cards at $85 for Last-Minute Shoppers

Although sales on App Store and iTunes gift cards usually end soon after they launch, Amazon and PayPal still have 15 percent discounts on $100 iTunes cards happening in the last few days before Christmas. The ongoing sales make for easy last-minute gift ideas since you can get a code emailed in under 24 hours.

At Amazon, if you purchase $100 or more in iTunes credit you’ll get $15 off once you enter the promo code ITUNES15 during checkout. This will lower the $100 iTunes card to $85, and Amazon’s storefront limits the promotion to one card per customer.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

PayPal’s sale is happening through its Digital Gifts eBay store and is the same as Amazon’s: you can buy the $100 iTunes card for $85, but no promo code is required. You’ll need a PayPal account to complete the purchase, and the card will be valid only on purchases made on the United States App Store. With both sales, you can enter your own email address, or enter the email address of a friend or family member and directly send the code to them.

App Store and iTunes gift cards can be used for a variety of items and services found on Apple devices. You can rent and buy movies on iTunes, subscribe to Apple Music, pay for your monthly iCloud storage, purchase a new app, expand your iBooks collection, and much more. If you’re looking for more specific ideas, MacRumors will be sharing a roundup of apps, games, movies, books, subscriptions, and more that you can buy with any iTunes cards you might get this Christmas, so be sure to check back on Monday for the full list.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals
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The Morning After: Weekend Edition

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

Welcome to the weekend. SpaceX’s rocket launch had a funny side effect on southern California, and Edward Snowden just released an app.

It wasn’t aliens or a North Korean nukeSpaceX Falcon 9 launch leaves a creepy cloud over LA


Last night SpaceX launched one of its Falcon 9 rockets from Vandenberg Air Force Base with Iridium satellites on board. The interesting thing about this launch is what happened afterward as the rocket’s trail was visible across southern California and Arizona.

None of the data captured is relayed to third-party servers.Edward Snowden’s Haven app uses your phone to detect intruders


Forget phone calls — a new app from The Guardian Project, the Freedom of the Press Foundation and Edward Snowden aims to turn Android smartphones into tiny, unobtrusive security systems. Haven, released today in public beta, was designed to use a phone’s built-in sensors to track sudden changes in the environment around it.

A different kind of caroling.Listen to a 1950s era computer sing ‘Jingle Bells’

Here’s a new version of Jingle Bells you won’t hear played in malls, and it’s courtesy of one of the oldest computers in history. Turing archive director Jack Copeland and composer Jason Long have recreated Ferranti Mark 1’s Christmas performance for the BBC back in 1951.

Planned obsolescence.Apple faces lawsuits over intentional iPhone slowdowns


Now that word is out about Apple’s technique for dealing with battery problems; a few iPhone owners have filed lawsuits. Their claim is that the company slowed down their devices in an attempt to make them upgrade.

Nothing subtle about that.Elon Musk shows off the Tesla Roadster he’s prepping for space


Musk is flexing on us with a set of seven photos that show his cherry red Tesla Roadster prepping to head into orbit near Mars.

Power, tech and safety in an elegant package.The Mercedes C63S is a rare mix of style and nerdery


The Mercedes-Benz AMG C63S sedan is a good car not because it’s fast (though it is very fast with a zero-to-60 time of 3.9 seconds) — it’s a good car because it delivers everything you’d expect from a high-tech, luxury sports sedan.

But wait, there’s more…

  • 2017 laid the foundation for faster, smarter AI in 2018
  • China’s most popular game just launched in the US
  • Engadget’s 2017 in review: Here’s to a better tomorrow
  • This is Magic Leap’s mixed reality headset
  • Google Home Max review: An assistant for music lovers
  • Chrome will block the most annoying ads starting February 15th

The Morning After is a new daily newsletter from Engadget designed to help you fight off FOMO. Who knows what you’ll miss if you don’t Subscribe.

Craving even more? Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter.

Have a suggestion on how we can improve The Morning After? Send us a note.


Tidal’s free 12-day trial comes with new content each day

Starting on Christmas, Tidal will begin a 12-day free trial period that’s a little different than a typical trial. Tidal already has a 30-day free trial for its regular and HiFi tier, but this one doesn’t require you to put in a credit card first or, therefore, make sure you cancel before it ends if you decide you don’t want to continue. Additionally, each day of the trial, Tidal will be releasing new, exclusive content.

Tidal has introduced a few additions lately that might make it more appealing to those who haven’t signed up yet. Earlier this week, it made its service compatible with Apple and Android TVs and as of earlier this month, Tidal works with CarPlay. Tidal also recently introduced direct integration with Sonos speakers.

During the trial, Tidal will introduce four new series including Fresh Cuts, wherein performers discuss everything from their music to personal goals all while getting a haircut, and Rough Draft, a video series featuring artists discussing and then performing the very first song or rap they wrote as a kid. On New Year’s Eve, Tidal will release a curated playlist to ring you into the new year and on New Year’s Day, it will release another playlist to make sure your 2018 begins on the right track. There will also be Snoh Aalegra, Trombone Shorty and DIIV documentaries premiering during the trial.

It’s a short trial — shorter than its basic trial, Apple Music’s three-month trial and Spotify’s current three months for 99 cents trial — but it comes with extra perks, no ads and again, no credit card number required. It begins on Christmas and runs through January 5th.

Via: The Verge


Darkroom 3.3 Update Adds Support for RAW+JPEG Composite Image Editing

Popular pro-grade photo editing software Darkroom reached version 3.3 on Saturday, bringing improved image format handling to the app and smoothing out a handful of new features that were introduced in November’s iPhone X focused redesign.

Last month, Darkroom v3.2 embraced Apple’s latest dual-lens camera smartphone with a brand new 5.8-inch user interface and support for Wide Gamut Color, which makes the most of the OLED screen’s full-color depth and contrast. It also received a 20 percent boost in performance thanks to its implementation of Metal 2 rendering.

The big news in today’s v3.3 update is added support for RAW+JPEG images. Now, when Darkroom detects that a photo is a RAW+JPG composite image, it will default to treating it as a RAW image.

The feature is designed to appeal to DSLR users who prefer shooting in RAW, as well as bring Darkroom into a greater level of harmony with the Halide camera app, which is often included in user workflows. The only caveat is that Darkroom users won’t have access to the JPEG variant of the composite image, although the developers aim to add support for the file type in the future.

Moving on, Darkroom now has an in improved Modify Original export option which aims to make workflows that rely on multiple apps more seamless. Users can now continue editing on top of previous edits made either by Apple’s native Photos app or other third-party apps.

Previously, Darkroom had an issue where image edits would be double applied when the image was edited in another app, after being exported from Darkroom using Modify Original. That’s now been fixed. This update also fixes an issue where depth information captured using Portrait Mode would be lost upon export.

Elsewhere, an option has been added to the recently introduced Auto Align setting that allows users to turn it off or back on at will. A bug has also been fixed that caused the app icon to show incorrectly on iPad.

Darkroom is a free download from the App Store and includes in-app purchases for some tools. [Direct Link]. The developers are currently promoting a weeklong holiday giveaway: users are encouraged to share their Darkroom-edited holiday photos with the #darkroomapp hashtag on Instagram, to be in for a chance to win one of 50 promo codes to unlock absolutely everything in the app.

Related Roundup: iPhone XTag: DarkroomBuyer’s Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
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Google Poaches Top Mobile Chip Designer John Bruno From Apple

Google has reportedly poached one of Apple’s top chip designers, as it continues to pursue plans to design its own chipsets for consumer devices like its Pixel range of smartphones.

According to The Information, the search giant has hired well-regarded Apple chip expert John Bruno, who has worked on silicon architecture for iPhones since 2012. Before moving offices to Cupertino to help with Apple’s ARM-based mobile chip push, Bruno worked at Advanced Micro Devices and led chip design at ATI Technologies.

Bruno founded and managed Apple’s silicon competitive analysis group, which sought to keep the company ahead of competitors in the area of chip performance. He follows several other experienced chip engineers who have defected to Google from Apple over the past year, including Manu Gulati, Wonjae (Gregory) Choi and Tayo Fadelu.

The hires highlight Google’s attempt to keep pace with Apple, which has been designing its own mobile chips since 2010. Recently, Google said it would sell chips known as Cloud Tensor Processing Units (TPU) to other companies so that they could benefit from its deep learning tool set, TensorFlow. However, the recruitment drive is more likely to be aimed at making own-branded chips for Google’s Pixel smartphones.

Indeed, Google’s first mobile chip could be right around the corner, according to Jim McGregor, an analyst at Tirias Research who spoke to The Information. With the help of off-the-shelf intellectual property, the Mountain View-based tech giant could have a multifunctional system-on-a-chip up and running in as soon as six months, McGregor said.

Tag: ARM
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Our solar system may have formed inside a giant space bubble

There are various theories about how the solar system formed, but scientists haven’t been able to agree on a single model that explains all the quirks of our corner of space as it exists today. Now, scientists at the University of Chicago have come up with a new model that explains an enduring mystery about the early solar system. They hypothesize that our solar system formed inside a massive space bubble, which was produced by a star 40 to 50 times the size of our sun. The research was published today in Astrophysical Journal.

Slices of a simulation showing how bubbles around a massive star evolve over the course of millions of years (moving clockwise from top left).

These giant stars are called Wolf-Rayet stars and burn the hottest of any stars in our universe. This results in a stellar wind that envelops the star in the elements it’s producing, which eventually forms a bubble around the star. Dust and gas become trapped inside the shell of this bubble, which is a great place for new stars to form.


The current prevailing hypothesis about the formation of our solar system is that it formed in the neighborhood of a supernova. However, this theory fails to explain the abundance of the isotope aluminum-26 in our early solar system, nor does it address our lack of the isotope iron-60. The proportions of these two elements in our early solar system, as compared to the rest of the galaxy, is something of a cosmic mystery. But the Wolf-Rayet theory may have provided a solution: While supernovae release both isotopes in some quantity, Wolf-Rayet stars produce aluminum-26, but not iron-60.

The giant star may be long gone (whether through a supernova explosion or direct collapse into a black hole), but before it died, the shell would have partially collapsed. The result was the birth of our solar system. While nothing is really for certain when it comes to what we know about space, it’s certainly an interesting theory that deserves further study.

Source: University of Chicago

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