Google’s I/O party focuses on the future of all things Alphabet

Tech from A to Z

Google’s big annual show-and tell-festival, I/O, kicks off today in Silicon Valley. Being at the forefront of many tech frontiers including artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, VR, AR and so on, Google has a lot to talk about, and we’re listening to every word.

Team DT is in Mountain View to get the latest on the upcoming “O” version of Android, what’s next for Google Home, and more details on the big Project Daydream VR undertaking.

We also have links to watch I/O live online and we’ll be sending news your way throughout the conference, so stay tuned.

So close, yet so far

One of the most competitive segments in PC tech right now centers on GPUs, those computers-inside-a-computer that let you blast your way through video games at 60 frames a second (hopefully), and are also becoming a valuable R&D tool in A-I and other fields.

AMD and Nvidia are currently battling it out for GPU supremacy, with AMD pulling the wraps off its first long-awaited graphics card based on their new “Vega” architecture. And now it’s here – with a big asterisk. Quaintly called the “Radeon Vega Frontier Edition,” the first hot-rod Vega card isn’t for gaming. Instead, AMD says it’s for “AI, creatives, and science pioneers.” But there’s going to be a gaming one soon, right? Well, we certainly hope so.

In the meantime, the RVFE GPU’s specs are impressive: 13 trillion operations per second, 64 compute units, 16 gigs of memory cash, and the latest memory tech capable of shoving 480 gigabytes of data around every second. Damn, that sounds awesome… for gaming. But for now, it’s going to be awesome for people doing CAD work, machine learning research, and other not-gaming types of things. The card comes out next month, and the very steep price is still TBD.

We’re gonna need a new record book

Hey drone fans, and that certainly includes us: we know what you’re thinking every time you fly: just how big would a drone have to be to lift you up and fly you around? YouTuber Casey Neistat sort of answered that question last year in this video, which featured a custom-built drone that was able to lift and his snowboard, and now some folks in Latvia have built another human-lifting flying machine, which they used to perform the first parachute jump from a drone.

Just to be safe, skydiver Ingus Augstkalns got a lift from the custom-built drone from atop a platform, so he could pull his chute if things went wrong. But they didn’t, and after the drone lifted him up to about a 1,000 feet, Ingus hit the silk for a safe landing and a spot in the record books.

The team who built the drone says it can lift 200 kilos, or 440 pounds, and you can bet it’s now game on in the human-lifting drone space.

Aside from Casey’s antics and this parachute stunt, such a drone could be a fantastic tool for search and rescue, disaster relief or even on the battlefield. But, yeah, we know: we just want to fly around with one too.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Close to the Metal (computers and such) on Tuesday, Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.