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Intel reveals the Lakefield chips for foldables that prove it can still innovate
Intel’s new hybrid processors, Intel Lakefield, have launched today, promising smaller and more flexible chips for ultraportables, folding form-factors, and more. Announced first at CES 2023 back in January, Lakefield combines several of the ideas Intel has been working on over the past few years: ultra-low-power CPUs, 3D packaging, and always-on connectivity.
So, they’re the first chips with what Intel is calling its new Hybrid Technology, and built using Foveros 3D stacking. A typical laptop chipset is laid out horizontally, with the various IPs spread out flat.
Foveros, though, stacks different technology IP blocks, building them into a “layer cake” with 12 x 12 x 1 millimeter dimensions. Those different layers can be mixed and matched, Intel says, depending on what the chip is needed for: in the case of Lakefield, that means flexible performance for non-traditional hardware designs.
So, Lakefield actually combines different types of core, much as we’ve seen Arm-based chipset designs from Qualcomm, Samsung, Apple and others do for smartphones and tablets. On the one hand, there’s a 10nm Sunny Cove core for maximum performance and any applications running in the foreground. It’s paired, though, with four Tremont cores, which are far more power-efficient.
Those cores handle background tasks, including services which need to be running but don’t require the full potency of the Sunny Cove core. Either way, both high-performance and super-frugal cores are compatible with 32- and 64-bit Windows applications. Real-time communication between the CPU and the OS scheduler means that the best core is picked for the right app.
Lakefield chips may be compact and low-power, but they’re still surprisingly capable. There’s support for up to four 4K external displays, for example, while video clips convert up to 54-percent faster versus the Core i5-8200Y.
While they may be rated at 7W TDP, the reality is that Intel has designed Lakefield to run much more frugally when the situation warrants it. Indeed, they can run as low as 2.5mW of standby SoC power, as much as 91-percent lower than Y-series processors.
For manufacturers, the upshot is more flexibility in their device designs. Lakefield has native dual internal display pipes, for example, which targets foldable and dual-display PCs. That’s the reason we’ve seen Lenovo use it in the ThinkPad X1 Fold, and why Microsoft will use it for the Surface Neo.
Not all designs will be so extreme, of course. Samsung’s Galaxy Book S, for example, looks more like a regular ultraportable notebook, but taps Lakefield’s combination of frugality and compact size to offer an alternative to the existing Arm-based version.
Lakefield’s debut comes at an interesting – and pivotal – time for Intel. The chip-maker has faced criticism in recent years for the relatively slow pace of its nanometer production transition, mixed with speculation that some of its long-standing device partners may be losing confidence in the Core strategy. Apple, for instance, is expected to announce its transition to self-designed Arm-based chipsets for Mac at WWDC 2023 later this month. While the Cupertino firm may not be Intel’s biggest customer, it’s nonetheless a feather in the chip-maker’s hat as it sees increased competition in laptop compute from rivals more commonly found powering phones and tablets.
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Intel push Core 2011 chips for entertainment; Intel Insider 1080p HD movie store
Intel made its Sandy Bridge based 2011 Core i3, i5 and i7 processors official earlier this week, but it’s still making a song & dance about them at CES 2011 today. More than 500 desktop and laptop PCs using the chips are expected to debut in 2011, with features like Intel Quick Sync Video – for speedy transcoding – and WiDi 2.0. Meanwhile there’s also Intel Insider, a hardware feature of the chips for purchasing and renting 1080p HD movies on their PC.
Intel Insider will see content from CinemaNow, Sonic Solutions, Dixons Retail, WBShop, Hungama Digital Media Entertainment and others, as well as Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Image Entertainment, Yash Raj Films and UTV Motion Pictures. It’s not a DRM system, but a copy-protected transfer system, Intel tells us.
The first 2nd-gen Intel Core 2011 quadcore based systems will go on sale from January 9 2011.
Intel Brings ‘Eye Candy’ to Masses with Newest Laptop, PC Chips
Intel® Core™ Processor Features Create New Visual Experience, Lifestyle
• Introduces much anticipated, game-changing 2nd Generation Intel Core processors. Adds a number of visually stunning features built right into the chips through processor graphics.
• Includes surprising and exciting new features such as, Intel® Quick Sync Video, Intel® HD Graphics, Intel® Wireless Display 2.0, and Intel® Insider™ including collaborations with CinemaNow*, Dixons Retail plc*, Hungama* Digital Media Entertainment, Image Entertainment*, Sonic Solutions*, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution*.
• These processors offer amazing video technology. Intel® Quick Sync can convert a four- minute HD video file on a laptop to play on an iPod in only 16 secondsii, while Intel® Insider™ enables full HD movie downloading and viewing on a PC screen or beaming it from a notebook to an HDTV using Intel WiDi 2.0.
• 20 new processors, new chipsets and new wireless chips including new Intel® Core™ i7, i5 and i3 processors, Intel® 6 Series Chipsets, and Intel® Centrino® WiFi and WiMAX adapters will power more than 500 new PC systems.
INTERNATIONAL CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW, Las Vegas, Jan. 5, 2011 – With more than 1 million computers selling each day, Intel Corporation introduced its game-changing 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ processor family today at a press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show. Intel highlighted several surprising new features, services and partnerships that combine to deliver an entirely new visual experience with processor graphics built in. More than 500 desktop and laptop PCs are expected from all major OEMs worldwide throughout the next year.
New features include Intel® Insider™, Intel® Quick Sync Video, and a new version of the company’s award-winning Intel® Wireless Display (WiDi), which now adds 1080p HD and content protection for those wishing to beam premium HD content from their laptop screen to their TV. The company also revealed working with CinemaNow*, Dixons Retail plc*, Hungama* Digital Media Entertainment, Image Entertainment*, Sonic Solutions*, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment*, and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution*.
New Visual Experience for Today’s Lifestyles
The 2nd Generation Intel Core processor family is the first “visibly smart” microarchitecture to combine visual and 3-D graphics technology with performance-leading microprocessors on a single chip. Incorporating the newly architected Intel® HD Graphics on each 32nm die enables significant graphics performance improvements over previous-generation graphics for both HD media processing and mainstream gaming. The chips improve performance and yet still offer great battery life and the ability to design thinner, lighter and more innovative laptops and all-in-one PCs.
New processor graphics technology will focus on the areas where most people are computing today: high-definition (HD) video, photos, mainstream gaming, multi-tasking and online socializing and multimedia. Enhanced visual technologies such as next-generation Intel® HD graphics are built into every 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ processor. For consumers, this means a dramatically improved PC experience, with better overall power management, greater efficiency and great battery life.
Additionally, a surprise new feature of the next-generation PC and laptop processors, Intel® Insider™, will give consumers access to movies on their PCs in full high-definition that were not available before. To explain the importance of this feature, Eden invited Kevin Tsujihara, Warner Home Entertainment Group president on stage.
Tsujihara explained, “Warner Bros. sees the PC as one of the most broadly available and versatile platforms for delivering premium digital entertainment, and now that Intel has made it more secure, we’re able to provide new releases and popular catalog titles in full HD to the PC through our WBShop* storefront and from partners like CinemaNow* on the same day as DVD and Blu-ray* releases.”
Eden used a clip from the feature film “Inception”* from Warner Bros.* and demonstrated how easy it would be to get the movie from CinemaNow* and watch it in full HD on a laptop.
In collaboration with Hollywood and Bollywood studios along with leading content distributors such as CinemaNow*, Dixons Retail plc*, Hungama Digital Media Entertainment*, Image Entertainment*, Sonic Solutions*, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment*, Warner Bros. Digital Distribution* and others, Intel creates a protected environment for the distribution, storage and playback of premium content. This enables content owners and video services to release more movies in high definition. Commercial distribution of HD premium content using the Intel® Insider™ technology is expected to begin during the first quarter of 2011.
Building upon this Intel® Insider™ innovation, Eden then showed how consumers can now also use Intel® WiDi 2.0 to beam content such as the “Inception” film to their big- screen HDTVs. Additional Intel® WiDi 2.0 improvements include support for 1080pHD as well as protected content either streaming from the Internet or played locally from a Blu-ray or DVD playeriii.
Another unique element of the visual experience built into the 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ processor family is Intel® Quick Sync Video. This built-in hardware acceleration takes the wait out of editing and sharing videos with astonishing performance that completes in minutes what used to take hours. Now faster than ever, consumers can edit, convert and share videos with friends and family. Intel estimated that a 4-minute HD video that used to take 4 minutes to convert to play on an iPod* would now take just 16 secondsii.
The power of the 2nd Generation Intel Core processors for immersive mainstream gaming was demonstrated with a teaser from Valve’s* Portal 2*, one of the most anticipated game releases of 2011. Eden did the demonstration with precision Hydra motion controllers from Razer* using Sixense* MotionTouch* technology.
Smart Performance, Energy Efficiency and Intelligence Merge
The Intel® Core™ i3, i5 and i7 processors also include the enhanced Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0. This feature automatically reallocates processor core and processor graphics resources to accelerate performance, giving users an immediate performance boost when and where it’s needed.
Other new chip features include Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX), Intel® InTru™ 3-D, and Intel® Clear Video Technology HD. Intel InTru 3-D enables immersive stereoscopic 3-D to 3-D-capable HDTVs or monitors via HDMI 1.4, making movie excitement almost come out of the screen.
Intel® AVX increases performance for such demanding visual applications as audio processing and professional video image editing such as stitching together multiple photographs. Intel® Clear Video improves the visual quality and color fidelity during video playback for a spectacular screen experience.
To make it easy for users to find a 2nd Generation Intel® Core™-based system that is just right for their particular needs, Intel is also announcing a wide array of SKUs including Intel vPro™-enabled processors.
Intel announced more than 20 processors, wireless adapters and chipsets, including new Intel® Core™ i7, i5 and i3 processors, Intel® 6 Series Chipsets, and Intel® Centrino® WiFi and WiMAX adapters. More than 500 laptop and desktop PC platform designs are expected from all major computer makers worldwide based on these products.
Opening Up a Whole New World of Premium Content
Studio Support for Intel Insider
Intel has been working with movie studios in Hollywood and Bollywood including Warner Bros. Digital Distribution*, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment*, Image Entertainment*, Yash Raj Films* and UTV Motion Pictures* to offer an expanded library of movies and entertainment. Here’s what some of those companies say in support of Intel Insider:
“Warner Bros. sees the PC as a broadly available and versatile platform for delivering premium digital entertainment, and now that Intel has made it more secure, we’re able to provide new releases and popular catalog titles in full HD to the PC through our WBShop* storefront and from partners like CinemaNow* the same day that the DVD is available.” — Kevin Tsujihara, Warner Home Entertainment group president.
“Our partnership with Intel creates a game changing opportunity to provide consumers around the globe our highest value content in a secure environment. The innovations that Intel has developed will give consumers maximum flexibility to enjoy a premium viewing experience.” — Mike Dunn, president worldwide, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
“With the introduction of Intel® Insider™, DreamWorks Animation sees a bright future for premium, online entertainment that families can enjoy at home or wherever their imaginations take them.” – Ed Leonard, chief technology officer, DreamWorks Animation.
“Intel Insider allows us the ability to reach the vast user base that is willing to pay for quality Indian content legitimately, whom we aren’t currently able to reach through the traditional modes of distribution.” – Avtar Panesar, head of operations, Yash Raj Films.
“The new-age film consumer wants the flexibility to be able to access high-quality content and pay a premium to access content as early as possible, on his or her preferred mode of viewing at that time. Intel Insider gives us the ability to reach out online to the audience of Indian films spread worldwide. This is in line with our objective to provide ease of access to our content on multiple platforms.” – Amrita Pandey, senior vice president, UTV Motion Pictures.
Premium Content Distributor Support for Intel Insider
Intel is also working with CinemaNow*, Sonic Solutions*, Dixons Retail*, WBShop*, Hungama Digital Media Entertainment* and other video distribution partners by enabling their existing video services so customers can access the latest movies in true HD from PCs with Intel Insider.
“The online video market is the fastest-growing segment for premium digital media. At CinemaNow*, we see the PC playing a key role in driving this growth, bolstered by our collaboration with Intel to make the PC more secure for premium content delivery. We look forward to enhancing our customer experience by offering select new releases and popular catalog movies in 1080p HD on PCs with Intel Insider.” – Matt Norman, senior manager, CinemaNow
“The large and growing PC-installed base is an opportunity for us to look at new models for delivering premium entertainment to our customers and help us fulfill our promise to bring life to technology. We plan to offer our customers a broad selection of exclusive and early-release HD movies that they can download to watch at home or take with them on the go.” – Jeremy Fennell, category director, Dixons Retail.
“Bollywood, the world’s largest film industry by number, as well as the world of digital media would be well served by the flexible business models, HD and secure online film distribution options under Intel Insider. Hungama aims to have new releases and also convert existing catalogs over time, to be available on this technology platform.” – Neeraj Roy, M.D. and CEO, Hungama Digital.
Computer Manufacturer Support for Intel Insider
Intel Insider is available on PCs with 2nd Generation Intel Core processors with built-in visuals. Computer manufacturers are supporting this new technology with more than 500 design wins in place already.
“With the introduction of our new 2nd Generation Intel Core processor-powered systems and Dell video stage service, we see the PC becoming a mainstream platform for premium entertainment. Intel Insider will play a key role in ensuring that customers have access to the latest new releases and popular catalog movies in full HD on Dell PCs and Dell video stage.” – Michael Tatelman, vice president, Global Consumer Channel (Sales & Marketing), Dell Inc.
“Toshiba* is increasingly committed to providing access to premium HD content for our customers. Intel Insider will help us enable the best customer experience for browsing, renting or purchasing true HD content from your laptop or watching movies on a laptop or HDTV.” – Ron Smith, vice president of marketing, Toshiba* America, Inc.
To learn which movies are now available in full HD for PCs with 2nd Generation Intel Core processors, please contact an Intel Insider-enabled online video service.
Intel realizes there will be a post-Moore’s Law era and is already investing in technologies to drive computing beyond today’s PCs and servers.
The chipmaker is “investing heavily” in quantum and neuromorphic computing, said Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, during a question-and-answer session at the company’s investor day on Thursday.
“We are investing in those edge type things that are way out there,” Krzanich said.
To give an idea of how far out these technologies are, Krzanich said his daughter would perhaps be running the company by then.
Researching in these technologies, which are still in their infancy, is something Intel has to do to survive for many more decades. Shrinking silicon chips and cramming more features into them is becoming difficult, and Intel is already having trouble in manufacturing smaller chips.
Smartphones, PCs, and other devices are getting smaller, faster and more power efficient thanks to Moore’s Law, a 1965 observation loosely stating that the number of transistors in a die area would double every two years, causing performance to double while driving down the cost of making chips.
Intel has been using Moore’s Law as a guiding star to make faster and smaller chips and reducing the price of devices. However, it is widely agreed that Moore’s Law is slowly dying, and Intel’s manufacturing struggles are growing.
One way to resolve that crisis—which all chipmakers face—is to completely change the current computing model in PCs, smartphones, and servers. The current model—known as the Von Neumann approach—involves data being pushed to a processor, calculated, and sent back to memory. But storage and memory are becoming bottlenecks.
The answer is to adopt new models of computing, which is where quantum computers and neuromorphic chips fit in. Quantum computers have the potential to be powerful computers harnessing the unique quality of a large number of qubits to perform multiple calculations in parallel. Neuromorphic chips are modeled after the human brain, which could help computers make decisions based on patterns and associations.
Some short-term answers can resolve the bottlenecks based on Von Neumann model, including Optane, Intel’s new form of super-fast memory and storage. It could unite SSDs and DRAM in systems, cutting one bottleneck. Intel is also embracing silicon photonics, which could resolve throughput issues in data centers. Both technologies have researched for more than a decade and are now practical.
The chipmaker has lived off the PC industry for decades but is now looking to grow in markets like data centers, the internet of things, automotive and high-performance computing. The new focus is bringing a gradual change to the way Intel makes chips. It’s similar to the 1970s, when different types of chips like vector processors and floating point arrays were crammed together for complex calculations.
For example, Intel is slapping together two separate functional blocks for applications like machine learning and autonomous cars. Intel envisions FPGAs combining with CPUs in autonomous cars. Later this year, the company will release a chip called Lake Crest, which combines a Xeon server CPU with deep-learning chip technology it picked up through its Nervana Systems acquisition. Intel is also merging an FPGA inside an Intel Xeon chip to carry out machine learning tasks.
Intel is expecting a lot of data to be generated by sources like autonomous cars, which will need edge processing for tasks like image recognition, analysis, and map updates. Intel is pushing its wide roster of co-processors to the edge, and that is where the quantum and neuromorphic chips may fit.
Quantum computer research is also being done by other companies. D-Wave recently released a 2,000-qubit quantum computer based on quantum annealing, while IBM has a 5-bit quantum computer accessible via the cloud. IBM is also playing with brain-like chips and has benchmarked its TrueNorth chip, which has a million neurons and 256 million synapses.
Academic institutions like the University of Heidelberg in Germany, Stanford University, and the University of Manchester in the U.K. are also working on neuromorphic chips. HPE has shown a computer that emulates the human brain, and it intends to adapt ideas from that for servers.
Advanced Micro Devices on Wednesday announced new mobile processors as it tries to bridge the power and performance gap with Intel, while trying to lower laptop prices.
“We’re able to hit triple-and quad-core price points at US$799,” said Leslie Sobon, vice president of marketing at AMD. Between 130 to 150 products are being designed around the new chips, which is a record for AMD.
The three quad-core and two triple-core Phenom II processors run at speeds between 1.6GHz and 2.3GHz and draw between 25 watts and 45 watts of power. The chips will be available in laptops from vendors including Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo starting later this month.
AMD also announced low-voltage Athlon II Neo and Turion II Neo processors for ultrathin laptops that run at speeds between 1.3GHz and 1.7GHz. The processors come in single-core and dual-core variants and draw between 12 watts and 15 watts of power.
The new laptop chips are an attempt by AMD to improve its weak market position and gain ground on Intel. AMD held a 12.1 percent market share in the first quarter of 2010 compared to 15 percent in the first quarter of 2009, according to IDC. Intel was the leader, holding an 87.8 percent laptop microprocessor market share in the first quarter of 2010, compared to the 84.3 percent market share from a year ago.
AMD’s CEO Dirk Meyer last month acknowledged that the company was underrepresented in the laptop market, but added that the company was making architectural improvements to its chips that could improve battery life and performance of the machines.
AMD’s triple- and quad-core offerings provide more options to buyers, AMD’s Sobon said. Computing tasks like antivirus can be off-loaded to the third core, while leaving two cores to process other applications.
AMD has started to address power and performance on its CPU and graphics offerings and is putting itself in a position of strength to catch up with Intel, said Lane McCullough, senior product planner at Dell. The PC maker likes what is seeing in AMD’s future, he said.
Dell announced new Inspiron laptops based on AMD chips including the M301z and the M501R models, which will be available with ATI integrated graphics. The laptops will offer storage of up to 640GB and support up to 8GB of memory. The M301z will come with a 13.3-inch display and include processors up to AMD’s dual-core Turion II Neo K625 processor, which runs at 1.5GHz. The laptop will be available in a few weeks in Europe, Japan and China. The M501R will come with a 15.6-inch screen and include up to AMD’s quad-core processors. It will be available later this year in Europe and the U.S.
Lenovo launched the IdeaPad Z565 laptop that will include AMD’s new chips. The laptop comes with a 15.6-inch screen, and provides four hours of battery life with a AMD Turion II N530 dual-core processor and a six-cell battery.
“What it comes down to is that folks who are sensitive to graphics and 3D may prefer the AMD solution,” Brookwood said. “But for a lot of people who don’t have strong requirements on either of those, systems based on AMD and Intel chips are almost indistinguishable.”
Artificial intelligence is often vilified due to its controversial rep. But there is lots of good stuff it can do for us too.
Deep yearning for deep learning
These fears are understandable. Especially, when we have a pleasure to observe how some of these macabre auguries are materializing right before our eyes. For example, in the words of law professors Bobby Chesney and Danielle Citron, deepfakes form a breeding ground for the so-called liar’s dividend — a dangerous phenomenon when legitimate evidence of inappropriate or even criminal behavior can be labeled ‘fake’ by the suspect and discarded.
But seeing negative aspects is always easier. With all its flaws, artificial intelligence can do a lot of good. Here’s a concise review of some benign purposes that artificial brains are serving today.1. Antispoofing
A fun fact: your state of being alive is nearly everything you need to get authorized by a biometric system. (Apart from your biometric profile stored during the enrollment stage.) For that purpose, liveness standards and liveness detection have been designed.
Using AI-powered algorithms — like time-difference-of-arrival analysis implemented in speech verification — a system scans the so-called liveness cues. These cues indicate that the system is dealing with a living breathing human and not some sophisticated digital puppet created with a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) or a scarily real mask sculpted with a 3D printer.
By analyzing your iris patterns, vocal spectrograms, heart rate, fingerprint friction ridges, facial geometry, and other cues, the system can reach a correct verdict and deny access to an impostor if they claim to be you. Yes, it’s possible to copy and falsify your biometrics with deep learning. But it can also protect them from almost all attack scenarios imaginable.2. More accurate prognosis
Just like Romeo in act 3, we can also call ourselves “fortune’s fools” sometimes. Even though we may never obtain a fate-predicting crystal ball, AI is the best next thing. We are talking about special relativity, initially described in Einstein’s work On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies. (Check it here.) And what’s pretty cool, it covers a broad scope of application areas: from weather forecasting to predicting stock price dynamics.
Prediction algorithms are also important for automatics. For instance, a mine-clearing robot — akin to Mesa’s Matilda — can better understand how certain objects or substances may react upon physical interaction, thus reducing the possibility of explosion.
And even when we do mundane stuff, like shopping for groceries, AI can make our lives a bit easier. A clever algorithm can literally time-travel 10-15 seconds into the future by analyzing the number of shoppers, their movement speed and patterns, amount of purchases, and other similar data. As a result, it can predict how soon the checkout queue will grow and call extra cashiers to help. So, thanks to this, we can avoid tediously long lines.3. Producing art
It seems, robots can write symphonies and turn digital canvas into masterpieces after all. At least, this checks out for the project DALL-E, which can turn your words into a surprisingly good painting and which is based on Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 algorithms.
Sometimes, its work is just decent enough and pleasant to look at. Other times, it can qualify to be a masterpiece like in the case of the macabre image series named Last selfie on Earth, which caused a lot of buzz online.
Apart from DALL-E you can also try its junior version Craiyon, Neural Blender, Dream, Kandinsky, and other solutions. Even though neural clusters of a robot would never replace Michelangelo or Cézanne, they at times look mesmerizing. So, if you can’t afford a visual artist for your project just now, consider recruiting a robot with a digital brush.
Picture: Martian Sunset by Dream, an original painting4. Health
Healthcare is already benefiting from partnership with Dr. Robot. As reported by Mayo Clinic, machine learning is capable of detecting heart anomalies and diseases. Among all else, it’s used for screening left ventricular dysfunction, which can be a sudden killer if not detected timely.
Diabetes is another malady that can be kept at bay thanks to AI diagnosis. In this case, a specific model can estimate how a certain food type will affect the glucose levels. This info is indispensable for patients as they won’t have to check their glucose levels manually every time.
These are just two examples. In the future, AI will be used even more for predicting and diagnosing a multitude of diseases, especially hereditary ones: sickle cell disease, hemophilia and other serious disorders.5. Always here to help
Unlike human operators, AI doesn’t need to sleep. You’ve probably had the pleasure to exchange a few words with a robot assistant in your banking app.
Now, we can’t outsource the entire 911 department to AI. But it certainly can help in many other situations: booking tickets, requesting a medicine delivery online, helping you find a parking lot, choosing a safe area to stay in a foreign country during a voyage, and so on.
Police1 reports that an AI assistant can even be a cop partner. Among all else, it can tag video files from body cameras, transcribe audio records, use constellations of surveillance cameras to aid investigation, or remind to complete a boring, but mandatory report. It’s almost like KITT from Knight Rider only without wheels.
Learn more about deepfake detection, biometric security and neural network architectures at Antispoofing Wiki.
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If you’re a woodworker, you already know the value of a good table saw. These ubiquitous power tools can work through a wide range of material, from wood to sheet metal, making angled cuts, bevels, rip cuts, and cross-cuts. They’re fast, and much more accurate than hand saws and mitre saws. That’s why you’ll find at least one at every professional woodshop and job site.
Table saws, as their name suggests, are often built into large tables that cost thousands of dollars and weight hundreds of pounds. But they’re also available in smaller, less expensive models designed to be brought out when needed and then stored away when through—perfect for contractors, repairmen, and DIY enthusiasts working at home.
When choosing a table saw, think carefully about the types of projects you’ll be tackling. Are you a contractor or serious DIYer? Are you a professional woodworker? Or is this something you only need occasionally, or for smaller hobby projects? This will help determine the type of table saw that’s right for you.
Large, industrial saws, called cabinet table saws, are installed in woodshops, schools, and other permanent locations, and are designed for heavy-duty work. They have permanent power sources—often 220 volts—and extendable table surfaces, and they can cut through most material. They also cost quite a bit, and of course require a lot more space.
Contractor table saws are smaller and portable, perfect for storing in a tool shed or garage. It’s easy to put them in the back of a truck or SUV for transportation to a job site. They provide a lot of power, meaning you don’t need to waste time travelling back and forth between the job and your shop.
Bench table saws are the smallest of the bunch, and are meant to be bolted to a table or workbench, or attached to a stand. They provide less power and have smaller rip capacity, but they also cost a lot less and are good choices for hobbyists with smaller projects.
Horsepower (HP) translates to cutting power. Expect 0.75 to 1.5 HP from smaller bench saws, making them excellent for making things like small shelves, or cutting material up to ⅝-inches thick. Contractor saws feature two- to four-HP motors, and large cabinet saws typically have motors that run five HP or more. The more powerful the motor, the easier it is to cut through strong material and harder woods. The machine can also run longer and faster without overheating.
Tablesaws typically carry 10-inch blades, though blades can be as large as 12 inches, and smaller models often have blades that are 8.5 inches. Because the blades are adjustable, you can make very shallow or deep cuts, depending on the size of the blade.
Rip capacity describes the maximum width of the material that fits between the saw blade and the table saw’s adjustable guide, known as a fence. Generally, this starts at around 18 inches and runs up to 60 inches on professional cabinet models. Make sure your table saw can accommodate the width of the material you plan on cutting, whether it’s the back of a bookcase, the side of a treehouse, or the top of a table.
Table saws feature two different types of motors: universal and induction. On a universal motor, the power source is linked directly to the blade, providing a lot of power. However, they can be noisy. Induction motors connect to a belt that transfers power to the blade. It’s quiet and still powerful, but the downside is that the belt requires periodic tightening, and that’s something you’ll need to stay on top of to get the best performance out of your saw.
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