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Quantum effects observed in cold chemistry

At very low temperatures, close to absolute zero, chemical reactions may proceed at a much higher rate than classical chemistry says they should – because in this extreme chill, quantum effects enter the picture. Researchers from the Weizmann Institute have now confirmed this experimentally; their results would not only provide insight into processes in the intriguing quantum world in which particles act as waves, it might explain how chemical reactions occur in the vast frigid regions of interstellar space.

Long-standing predictions are that quantum effects should allow the formation of a transient bond – one that will force colliding atoms and molecules to orbit each other, instead of separating after the collision. Such a state would be very important, as orbiting atoms and molecules could have multiple chances to interact chemically. In this theory, a reaction that would seem to have a very low probability of occurring would proceed very rapidly at certain energies.Dr. Ed Narevicius and his team in the Institute’s Chemical Physics Department managed, for the first time, to experimentally confirm this elusive process in a reaction they performed at chilling temperatures of just a fraction of a degree above the absolute zero – 0.01°K.Their results have just been published in the journal Science.“The problem,” says Narevicius, “is that in classical chemistry, we think of reactions in terms of colliding billiard balls held together by springs on the molecular level. In the classical picture, reaction barriers block those billiard balls from approaching one another, whereas in the quantum physics world, reaction barriers can be penetrated by particles, as these acquire wave-like qualities at ultra-low temperatures.“The experimental system: two supersonic valves followed by two skimmers. The blue beam passes though a curved magnetic quadrupole guide, and the merged beam (purple) enters a quadrupole mass spectrometer. B is a front view of the quadrupole guide.The quest to observe quantum effects in chemical reactions started over half a century ago with pioneering experiments by Dudley Herschbach and Yuan T. Lee, who later received a Nobel Prize for their work. They succeeded in observing chemical reactions at unprecedented resolution by colliding two low-temperature, supersonic beams. However, the collisions took place at relative speeds that were much too high to resolve many quantum effects: When two fast beams collide, the relative velocity sets the collision temperature at above 100°K, much too warm for quantum effects to play a significant role. Over the years, researchers had used various ingenious techniques, including changing the angle of the beams and slowing them down to a near-halt. These managed to bring the temperatures down to around 5°K – close, but still a miss for those seeking to observe chemical reactions in quantum conditions.The innovation that Narevicius and his team, including Alon B. Henson, Sasha Gersten, Yuval Shagam and Julia Narevicius, introduced was to merge the beams rather than collide them. One beam was produced in a straight line, and the second beam was bent using a magnetic device until it was parallel with the first. Even though the beams were racing at high-speed, the relative speed of the particles in relation to the others was zero. Thus a much lower collision temperature of only 0.01 K could be achieved. One beam contained helium atoms in an excited state, the other either argon atoms or hydrogen molecules. In the ensuing chemical reaction, the argon or hydrogen molecules became ionized – releasing electrons.To see if quantum phenomena were in play, the researchers looked at reaction rates – a measure of how fast a reaction proceeds – at different collision energies. At high collision energies, classical effects dominated and the reaction rates slowed down gradually as the temperature dropped. But below about 3°K, the reaction rate in the merged beams suddenly took on peaks and valleys. This is a sign that a quantum phenomenon known as scattering resonances due to tunneling was occurring in the reactions. At low energies, particles started behaving as waves: Those waves that were able to tunnel through the potential barrier interfered constructively with the reflected waves upon collision. This creates a standing wave that corresponds to particles trapped in orbits around one another. Such interference occurs at particular energies and is marked by a dramatic increase in reaction rates.Narevicius said, “Our experiment is the first proof that the reaction rate can change dramatically in the cold reaction regime. Beyond the surprising results, we have shown that such measurements can serve as an ultrasensitive probe for reaction dynamics. Our observations already prove that our understanding of even the simplest ionization reaction is far from complete; it requires a thorough rethinking and the construction of better theoretical models. We expect that our method will be used to solve many puzzles in reactions that are especially relevant to interstellar chemistry, which generally occurs at ultra-low temperatures.”Source: Weizmann Institute of Science

Quantum Computer

D-Wave Systems will demonstrate the world’s first commercial quantum computer next week, a supercooled, superconducting niobium chip housing an array of 16 qubits. D-Wave quantum computer, called “Orion,” solves the most difficult problems—called “NP-Complete”—in a just a few cycles, compared to the thousands of cycles needed by conventional computers. Orion is fabricated out of the superconducting metal niobium using conventional lithography. It was then supercooled to near absolute zero to permit its qubits to maintain their quantum state throughout a calculation. Initially, D-Wave will lease time on its quantum computer, which will be accessed over a secure Internet connection. Eventually, the company plans to sell quantum computer systems.

Quantenna announces new 4×4 MIMO Wi-Fi chipset

These days most people with a broadband internet connection at home have some kind of Wi-Fi router, however not all of these are equal as it goes and there are many things that make them work differently well. Quantenna is an interesting company that so far havent had a real breakthrough, but the company is making 4×4 MIMO Wi-Fi chipsets which allows for streaming of HD video, in fact, multiple streams of HD video over a standard Wi-Fi network.

The company has announced its latest family of chipsets the QHS7xx family which offers 802.11n speeds of up to 600Mbit/s on the 5GHz band. All of its products are dual band, but the idea is that you use the 5GHz band for video streaming and the much more common 2.4GHz band for computers and various handheld devices and what not. Quantennas chipsets also use a technology known as beamforming which further helps the signal to reach where it might otherwise not reach. This is extra helpful when living in a large home, or in one with multiple floors.

The only slight snag in this is that there arent a lot of 5GHz Wi-Fi video receivers out there and so far youve had to buy a two kit set with a transmitter and a receiver to make use of Quantennas technology, making it all a bit expensive for the average consumer. Sadly this isnt likely to change any time soon, but Quantenna is working with a wide range of Wi-Fi device makers to try and get its technology into them. As the Quantenna chipsets work just fine inside a regular router, the companys new, more affordable QHS710 will hopefully find its way into some standard dual-band routers, whereas the more expensive QHS715 will still be reserved for more advanced video streaming solutions. We should hopefully be seeing some Quantenna based products come Computex as we know the company is working with several Taiwanese manufacturers to put its technology into their products.

Source: Quantenna

Quanta Joins List of iPod Suppliers

According to industry insiders, Quanta has landed orders for Apple’s current 5G iPod. The company is expected to begin shipping its first batch of iPods in April. Quanta joins Asus, Foxconn and Inventec as suppliers for its family of iPod music players.

Quanta has recently landed a deal with Hewlett-Packard to produce an ARM-based Windows Mobile 5.0 PDA phone.

As for Apple’s true iPod Video, we still haven’t heard anything new about the supposedly touch-screen based device. If any information leaks out early, rest assured that it will probably come from one of the above suppliers.

Qualcomm’s WTR1605L – multi-band 4G LTE chip

Qualcomm announced today that they will be releasing a multi-band LTE chip that can potentially change the demographics of current smartphones. The new Qualcomm LTE (WTR1605L) chip will support seven frequencies—three frequencies below 1.0 GHz, three above, and one at 2.5 GHz+.

Current smartphone landscapes involve many carriers with many different types of 4G. AT&T and Verizon both have 4G LTE, but each carrier operates it on different frequencies. The WTR1605L will help consolidate those differences in LTE frequencies, and help manufacturers focus on a single piece of tech instead of splitting up their processes into different carrier requirements. In addition to multi-band capability, the WTR1605L will be manufactured on a 28nm process to reduce power consumption–how can manufacturers resist such a darn good piece of tech?

The prospect of a single smartphone being able to operate on multiple carriers’ data frequency brings about a whole new meaning for “world phone.” Many current world phones can operate as a text and talk phone, but often times when it comes to a carrier’s data its more than a struggle—it’s downright near impossible.

However, the WTR1605L is still subject to the FCC’s approval, so don’t go searching for “WTR1605L world phones” just yet. Qualcomm announced that the chip will be released next month, and will be integrated into smartphones by as early as the end of this year.

Source: fcc.gov, fiercewireless.com

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 gets benchmarked, smokes the competition

During the Mobile World Congress next week we should see several handsets launch based on Qualcomms new Snapdragon S4 SoC, previously known under the name of Krait. Just ahead of the show benchmarks of the new chip have been published that gives us a good insight as to what to expect from this years Qualcomm based handset.

Anandtech has posted an extensive set of benchmarks, in as much as you can do on mobile devices these days and has also gone over the general architecture changes that Qualcomm has done. However, we wont be going over the architecture here and suggest you head over to Anandtech and read the full review. That said, were going to take a quick look at some of the benchmarks, as Qualcomm has come up with a pretty ground breaking chip in terms of performance.

One of the key factors to the Snapdragon S4s performance is that each core in a Krait based SoC can decode and execute three instructions per clock, compared to only two instructions per clock for ARM Cortex-A9 based SoCs. This gives Qualcomm a significant performance lead on paper, but it appears to have paid off in real world applications as well.

In fairly simple benchmarks like Linkpack, the new MSM8960 Snapdragon SoC beats the competition with easy in both single-threaded and multi-threaded runs and were not talking about a narrow margin here either, as it beats the competition by delivering nearly twice or even over twice the performance. Of course some of this has to do with the larger 1MB cache and improved memory controller as well as the improvements to the actual SoC itself, but it shows that Qualcomm has come up with a very competitive chip design.

In more real world benchmarks the lead isnt as large, but the margins are still there and its going to take a serious increase in clock speed for the competition to catch up. That said, the MSM8960 is a 1.5GHz chip, whereas most of the competing SoCs that there tested are topping out at about 1.4GHz. Even so, the performance improvements are not directly tied to the slightly higher clock speed. In an easily repeatable benchmark such as Vellamo the MSM8960 offers twice the performance and then some of Googles recently launched Galaxy Nexus. In all fairness, this is a Qualcomm made benchmark, so its not entirely fair, but it uses several standard web-based benchmarks and offers a good selection of tests.

Qualcomm has also improved the GPU, the Adreno 225. Even though it has eight SIMDs with four MADs per SIMD and a paper performance of 19.2 Gflops at 300MHz, its not as impressive as youd think at first. Whats worse in a way is the fact that Qualcomm is actually clocking the Adreno 225 at 400MHz in the MSM8960, yet its having a tough time beating the PowerVR SGX 543MP2 found inside Apples A4 SoC. As for the other GPUs found on the market today the only one able to offer some kind of competition – and that is only at certain resolutions and tests at that – is ARMs own Mali-400 MP4 found in the Samsung Exynos 4210, i.e. the SoC used on the global version of the Galaxy S II. In all fairness to Qualcomm, the Adreno 225 isnt a bad GPU, but its not going to last that long in the high-end market segment with several new GPUs expected to arrive in competing products later this year.

For now, Qualcomm is likely to lead the dual core SoC market, although Nvidias Tegra 3 is at least going to outperform the MSM8960 in CPU intensive tasks where all of its four cores can be used. Its unlikely to be vastly superior in terms of graphics performance though, unless Nvidia has some kind of ace up its sleeve. Well also have to wait and see what the likes of Texas Instruments, Samsung and the other smaller players have to show.That said, Qualcomm already has a refresh of the MSM8960 planned for September which should see it hitting speeds of 1.7GHz and getting an improved GPU in the shape of the Adreno 320 which should offer vastly improved graphics performance.

Source: Anandtech

Qualcomm wants smartphones to be more powerful than your PC

A quad-core processor coupled with a GPU that features 4 video processing cores sounds like the kind of hardware one expects to find in a mid-range desktop PC or high-end laptop, right? Well, dont be surprised, but consumers can expect to see such top-end hardware making its way to devices as small as smartphones by as early as 2012.

And when that happens, you can be sure that Qualcomm will have a major part to play in churning out hardware that delivers near PC-like performance in a smartphone. That is because the American wireless telecommunication company has just unveiled its latest Snapdragon System-on-a-chip (SoC) which features the same specifications that we have listed in the paragraph above.

According to an article posted by Toms Hardware, the new Snapdragon SoCs were announced by Qualcomm at this years Mobile World Conference and is expected to be available in three different configurations, namely the MSM8930, MSM8960 and APQ8064. All three configurations will feature the new Krait processor core which reportedly features a completely new microarchitecture, an updated Adreno GPU and will come with the circuitry needed to perform various connectivity-related functions such as WiFi, GPRS, Bluetooth, FM and near-field communications (NFC).

However, it goes without saying that the star attraction of the trio is the APQ8064Snapdragon SoC. With four Krait processing cores featuring clock speeds of up to 2.5GHz per core and a quad-core Adreno 320 GPU, Qualcomm claims that the APQ8064is capable of performance at levels up to 150% greater than the current-generation ARM processor cores, while still consuming 65% lesser energy than the latter.On top of that, the new quad-core Adreno GPU is reportedly powerful enough to output full HD media content onto an external display and deliver graphics performance similar to what is found in todays video game consoles.

With smartphones like these, who needs PCs anymore?

Source: Toms Hardware