The much-discussed health care finance sign-up website HealthCare.gov has benefited from the flurry of improvements that have been thrown at it in the last several weeks. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid spokesman Aaron Albright told Fox News Saturday that "[w]ith the scheduled upgrades last night and tonight, we're on track to meet our stated goal for the site to work for the vast majority of users." CMM spokeswoman Julie Bataille. "said the installation of new servers Friday night helped improved the response times and error rates, even with heavier-than-usual weekend traffic." If you've used the site this weekend, what has your experience been like?
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An anonymous reader writes "The Xeon Phi co-processor requires a Xeon CPU to operate... for now. The next generation of Xeon Phi, codenamed Knights Landing and due in 2015, will be its own CPU and accelerator. This will free up a lot of space in the server but more important, it eliminates the buses between CPU memory and co-processor memory, which will translate to much faster performance even before we get to chip improvements. ITworld has a look."
MojoKid writes "When Intel debuted Haswell this year, it launched its first mobile processor with a massive 128MB L4 cache. Dubbed "Crystal Well," this on-package (not on-die) pool of memory wasn't just a graphics frame buffer, but a giant pool of RAM for the entire core to utilize. The performance impact from doing so is significant, though the Haswell processors that utilize the L4 cache don't appear to account for very much of Intel's total CPU volume. Right now, the L4 cache pool is only available on mobile parts, but that could change next year. Apparently Broadwell-K will change that. The 14nm desktop chips aren't due until the tail end of next year but we should see a desktop refresh in the spring with a second-generation Haswell part. Still, it's a sign that Intel intends to integrate the large L4 as standard on a wider range of parts. Using EDRAM instead of SRAM allows Intel's architecture to dedicate just one transistor per cell instead of the 6T configurations commonly used for L1 or L2 cache. That means the memory isn't quite as fast but it saves an enormous amount of die space. At 1.6GHz, L4 latencies are 50-60ns which is significantly higher than the L3 but just half the speed of main memory."
jones_supa writes "When GCC 4.9 is released in 2014 it will be coming in hot on new features with a large assortment of improvements and new functionality for the open-source compiler. Phoronix provides a recap of some of the really great features of this next major compiler release from the Free Software Foundation. For a quick list: OpenMP 4.0, Intel Cilk Plus multi-threading support, Intel Bay Trail and Silvermont support, NDS32 port, Undefined Behavior Sanitizer, Address Sanitizer, ADA and Fortran updates, improved C11 / C++11 / C++14, better x86 intrinsics, refined diagnostics output. Bubbling under are still: Bulldozer 4 / Excavator support, OpenACC, JIT compiler, disabling Java by default."
Ars Technica runs through the pretty and simple (but Windows-only) installer that is one of the first big fruits of the newly commercialized CyanogenMod project, and finds it very worthwhile. However, and despite being far easier for ordinary mortals than the error-prone process of the old way to put on CyanogenMod, it's not perfect: reviewer Ron Amadeo ran into troubles using it on his Nexus 4, and cautions: "If CyanogenMod Inc. really wants to lower the barrier to entry, they next thing they need is a way for users to just as easily go back to the setup they had before installing CyanogenMod. Currently, the installer is a one-way street. If the user decides CyanogenMod isn't for them and wants to go back, they're stuck. Even worse, they could run into the situation I did, where CyanogenMod installs but everything is broken. I've done this enough that I know how to go back to stock, but for a novice, they would have been abandoned with a broken phone."
An anonymous reader writes "There's many improvements due in the Linux 3.13 kernel that just entered development. On the matter of new hardware support, there's open-source driver support for Intel Broadwell and AMD Radeon R9 290 'Hawaii' graphics. NFTables will eventually replace IPTables; the multi-queue block layer is supposed to make disk access much faster on Linux; HDMI audio has improved; Stereo/3D HDMI support is found for Intel hardware; file-system improvements are on the way, along with support for limiting the power consumption of individual PC components."
An anonymous reader writes "In an email to the HTTP working group, Mark Nottingham laid out the three top proposals about how HTTP 2.0 will handle encryption. The frontrunner right now is this: 'HTTP/2 to only be used with https:// URIs on the "open" Internet. http:// URIs would continue to use HTTP/1.' This isn't set in stone yet, but Nottingham said they will 'discuss formalising this with suitable requirements to encourage interoperability.' There appears to be support from browser vendors; he says they have been 'among those most strongly advocating more use of encryption.' The big goal here is to increase the use of encryption on the open web. One big point in favor of this plan is that if it doesn't work well (i.e., if adoption is poor), then they can add support for opportunistic encryption later. Going from opportunistic to mandatory encryption would be a much harder task. Nottingham adds, 'To be clear — we will still define how to use HTTP/2.0 with http:// URIs, because in some use cases, an implementer may make an informed choice to use the protocol without encryption. However, for the common case — browsing the open Web — you'll need to use https:// URIs and if you want to use the newest version of HTTP.'"
MojoKid writes "At APU13 today, AMD announced a full suite of new products and development tools as part of its push to improve HSA development. One of the most significant announcements to come out the sessions today-- albeit in a tacit, indirect fashion, is that Kaveri is going to pack a full 512 GPU cores. There's not much new to see on the CPU side of things — like Richland/Trinity, Steamroller is a pair of CPU modules with two cores per module. AMD also isn't talking about clock speeds yet, but the estimated 862 GFLOPS that the company is claiming for Kaveri points to GPU clock speeds between 700 — 800MHz. With 512 cores, Kaveri picks up a 33% boost over its predecessors, but memory bandwidth will be essential for the GPU to reach peak performance. For performance, AMD showed Kaveri up against the Intel 4770K running a low-end GeForce GT 630. In the intro scene to BF4's single-player campaign (1920x1080, Medium Details), the AMD Kaveri system (with no discrete GPU) consistently pushed frame rates in the 28-40 FPS range. The Intel system, in contrast, couldn't manage 15 FPS. Performance on that system was solidly in the 12-14 FPS range — meaning AMD is pulling 2x the frame rate, if not more."
An anonymous reader writes "Wikimedia today announced the launch of a beta program simply called Beta Features. In short, the organization is offering a way for users to try out new features on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites before they are released for everyone. If you're reading this with bated breath, you'll be happy to know logged-in users can join the early testing right now on MediaWiki.org, meta.wikimedia.org and Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia plans to release Beta Features on all wikis in two weeks, on November 21, although the date may shift depending on the feedback the organization receives."
An anonymous reader writes "Linus Torvalds announced the Linux 3.12 kernel release with a large number of improvements through many subsystems including new EXT4 file-system features, AMD Berlin APU support, a major CPUfreq governor improvement yielding impressive performance boosts for certain hardware/workloads, new drivers, and continued bug-fixing. Linus also took the opportunity to share possible plans for Linux 4.0. He's thinking of tagging Linux 4.0 following the Linux 3.19 release in about one year and is also considering the idea of Linux 4.0 being a release cycle with nothing but bug-fixes. Does Linux really need an entire two-month release cycle with nothing but bug-fixing? It's still to be decided by the kernel developers."
An anonymous reader writes "Intel shipped open-source Broadwell graphics driver support for Linux this weekend. While building upon the existing Intel Linux GPU driver, the kernel driver changes are significant in size for Broadwell. Code comments from Intel indicate that these processors shipping in 2014 will have "some of the biggest changes we've seen on the execution and memory management side of the GPU" and "dwarf any other silicon iteration during my tenure, and certainly can compete with the likes of the gen3->gen4 changes." Come next year, Intel may now be able to better take on AMD and NVIDIA discrete graphics solutions."
sfcrazy writes "CyanogenMod team has announced the release of version 10.2 M1, just after the release of Android 4.4 aka Kit Kat. In a post the team says, "With all the Android 4.4 hype, we haven't forgotten about CM 10.2. Tonight the buildbots will focus their efforts on building and shipping out CyanogenMod 10.2 M1. Builds are already hitting the servers (please be patient, this will take a while). We are targeting over 70 devices for this initial M-release.""
An anonymous reader writes "With Android 4.4 KitKat, Google's biggest blow to Microsoft isn't against Windows Phone. It's against Microsoft Office. You see, KitKat ships with Quickoffice, letting you edit Microsoft Office documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on the go, without paying a dime, straight out of the box. This tidbit was largely lost in the news yesterday, given the large number of improvements and new features that KitKat offers. Yet it's a very big deal: every Android user that upgrades to KitKat will get Google's Quickoffice, and every new Android device (starting with the Nexus 5) that ships with KitKat or higher will also get Quickoffice."
An anonymous reader writes "The release of OpenBSD 5.4 has been announced. New and notable advancements include new or extended platforms like octeon and beagle, moving VAX to ELF format, improved hardware support including Kernel Mode Setting (KMS), overhauled inteldrm(4), experimental support for fuse(4), reworked checksum handling for network protocols, OpenSMTPD 5.3.3, OpenSSH 6.3, over 7,800 ports, and many other improvements and additions."
szotz writes "Keeping up the pace of Moore's Law is hard, but you wouldn't know it from the way chipmakers name their technology. The semiconductor industry's names for chip generations (Intel's 22nm, TSMC's 28nm, etc) have very little to do with actual physical sizes, says IEEE Spectrum. And the disconnect is only getting bigger. For the first time, the "pay us to make your chip" foundries are offering a new process (with a smaller-sounding name) that will produce chips that are no denser than their forbears. The move is not a popular one."
itwbennett writes "This brings to mind an earlier Slashdot discussion about whether we've hit the limit on screen resolution improvements on handheld devices. But this time, the question revolves around ever-faster graphics processing units (GPUs) and the resolution limits of desktop monitors. ITworld's Andy Patrizio frames the problem like this: 'Desktop monitors (I'm not talking laptops except for the high-end laptops) tend to vary in size from 20 to 24 inches for mainstream/standard monitors, and 27 to 30 inches for the high end. One thing they all have in common is the resolution. They have pretty much standardized on 1920x1080. That's because 1920x1080 is the resolution for HDTV, and it fits 20 to 24-inch monitors well. Here's the thing: at that resolution, these new GPUs are so powerful you get no major, appreciable gain over the older generation.' Or as Chris Angelini, editorial director for Tom's Hardware Guide, put it, 'The current high-end of GPUs gives you as much as you'd need for an enjoyable experience. Beyond that and it's not like you will get nothing, it's just that you will notice less benefit.'"
First time accepted submitter taxtropel was one of many readers to note that Google has officially released its newest version of Android. taxtropel extracts from the announcement: "Today we are announcing Android 4.4 KitKat, a new version of Android that brings great new features for users and developers. The very first device to run Android 4.4 is the new Nexus 5, available today on Google Play, and coming soon to other retail outlets. We'll also be rolling out the Android 4.4 update worldwide in the next few weeks to all Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10 devices, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One Google Play Edition devices." Reader SmartAboutThings adds: "Almost all of the features that the Nexus 5 comes with are not a surprise, since they were heavily leaked before. Still, for those that have obediently waited this day, here are some of its most important specs: 2.2Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 800 and 2GB of RAM, 4.95-inch 1080p display, Wireless charging, 2,300 mAh battery, LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11ac WiFi and NFC; Gorilla Glass 3, Front 1.3-megapixel camera and 8-megapixel sensor on the back with optical image stabilization (OIS)."
An anonymous reader writes "Google today announced Chrome is getting an automatic download blocking feature for malware. Google has already added the new functionality to the latest build of Chrome Canary. All versions of Chrome will soon automatically block downloads and let you know in a message at the bottom of your screen. You will be able to "Dismiss" the message, although it's not clear if you will be able to stop or revert the block."
SonicSpike writes "As the nation moves from a tangible goods-based economy to a service-based economy, a few states are trying to keep revenues robust by taxing technological services such as software upgrades and cloud computing. But a backlash from the high-tech industry has quashed most efforts. As a result, the U.S. has a patchwork quilt of state taxes on technological services. Some states that have tried to impose such taxes have failed spectacularly, and most have not tried at all. According to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank that studies taxes, only 10 states (Connecticut, New Mexico, Hawaii, South Dakota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia) and the District of Columbia tax all writing or updating of software. Only New Mexico, Hawaii and South Dakota levy their general sales taxes on all software services. States with sales taxes do, however, levy those taxes on software that is sold on CDs or other hard storage materials. About half the states also tax 'canned' (non-altered) software that can be downloaded, according to the Tax Foundation. Elia Peterson, an analyst with the foundation, said in a recent paper that states are reluctant to tax computer services in large part because it 'is an especially mobile industry and could easily move to a lower tax state.'"
MojoKid writes "Rumors around the what and when of Google's upcoming Nexus 5 smartphone have been plentiful, and ahead of the supposed release date on Halloween, a benchmark score for the handset has slipped out from Rightware, and it's downright impressive. According to Rightware's Power Board, the Nexus 5 delivered the second-highest Benchmark X gaming score among smartphones, behind only the iPhone 5S, making it the most powerful Android-based handset in the land. The LG-made phone shares a GPU (the Adreno 330) with the third-place Sharp Aquos SHL23 but bested the latter handset with a score of 14.27 to 13.10. A leaked user manual revealed that the Nexus 5 will boast a full HD 4.95-inch display, Snapdragon 800 processor (2.3GHz), 2GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of onboard storage, and 8MP rear-facing and 1.3MP front-facing cameras."