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The giant Chilean Escondida mine produces more copper than anywhere on earth. Some 1.2m tonnes emerge from the BHP Billiton-run facility each year.智利庞大的埃斯孔迪达(Escondida)铜矿的铜产量位居世界第一,这座由必和必拓(BHP Billiton)运营的铜矿每年出产约120万吨铜。For the largest miners, Escondida also serves as a key measure for world copper output.对大型矿企而言,埃斯孔迪达还是衡量全球铜产量的重要指标之一。To meet global demand over the next decade, the industry “will have to add the equivalent of a new Escondida every 15 months”, says Jean-Sebastien Jacques, head of copper at Rio Tinto, which owns a minority stake in the mine. First Quantum, a mid-tier copper miner, says if China, India and Brazil reached EU levels of copper use by 2020, it would imply nine new Escondidas.力拓(Rio Tinto)持有埃斯孔迪达的少数权益,该公司铜业务负责人让-塞巴斯蒂安#8226;雅克(Jean-Sebastien Jacques)表示,为满足未来十年全球需求,铜矿业“必须每15个月就增加相当于一座埃斯孔迪达铜矿的产量”。中型铜矿企业First Quantum表示,如果到2020年时中国、印度和巴西的用铜量达到欧盟的水平,那就需要增加9座埃斯孔迪达。Such predictions explain why big UK miners are talking up their growth potential in copper, even though worries over Chinese demand have driven the price of the metal to its lowest since 2010.这类预测解释了为什么英国大型矿企正在大谈自己的铜产量增长潜力,尽管眼下对中国需求的担忧已推动铜价降至2010年以来的低位。Both Rio and BHP believe the copper market is oversupplied now but will tighten from 2018, with growing deficits. “The copper story remains very strong,” says Mike Henry, BHP’s president for marketing.力拓和必和必拓认为虽然铜市场目前供应过剩,但从2018年起供应将会吃紧,供需缺口将越来越大。必和必拓营销总裁迈克#8226;亨利(Mike Henry)说:“铜的势头依然强劲。”Some of the UK’s pure-play copper miners are investing heavily in growth. Antofagasta expects to lift annual output from its Chilean mines from 700,000 tonnes last year to 900,000 tonnes by 2018. Kaz Minerals is building two mines in Kazakhstan.英国部分单一业务铜矿商正大举投资提高产量。安托法加斯塔(Antofagasta)希望到2018年时,将其智利铜矿的年产量将从2014年的70万吨提升至90万吨。哈萨克矿业(Kaz Minerals)正在哈萨克斯坦建设两座铜矿。For BHP and Rio, copper is especially important now that investments in sectors such as iron ore and coal appear to be coming to an end. Iron ore is heavily linked to Chinese infrastructure construction that is expected eventually to tail off, and coal could be threatened by changing environmental rules. Demand for copper is expected to be steadier: it has a wide range of applications and is forecast to be widely needed as the world’s largest economy shifts towards more consumer-led growth.对必和必拓和力拓来说,鉴于铁矿石及煤炭等领域的投资似乎将告一段落,铜矿就变得尤为重要。铁矿石与中国基础设施建设密切相关,而中国的基建预计终会逐渐冷却;环保规则的改变则可能会对煤炭构成威胁。铜的需求预计将更加稳定:铜的用途很多,随着全球最大经济体转向更多地依靠消费来拉动经济增长,预计铜将面临广泛的需求。But the complexity and expense of projects means the larger miners may not be in a position to generate a quick acceleration of copper output.但铜矿项目的复杂性和高昂成本意味着,较大的矿企可能难以迅速提高铜产量。Patrick Jones, an analyst at Nomura in London, says: “The major diversified miners all have sizeable copper businesses but they all have predicaments of one kind or another when it comes to their future growth options.”野村(Nomura)驻伦敦分析师帕特里克#8226;琼斯(Patrick Jones)说:“大型的多元化矿企都拥有规模可观的铜业务,但说到未来的发展选择,它们全都有这样或那样的难题。”Escondida will suffer a dip in output in 2016 as BHP mines lower grade ores. Meanwhile, Bingham Canyon, Rio’s mine in Utah that has produced copper for more than a century, will cut output this year amid rehabilitation work.随着必和必拓开采的矿石品位降低,埃斯孔迪达在2016年将出现产量下降。同时,力拓在美国犹他州的宾厄姆峡谷(Bingham Canyon)铜矿今年将因修复性工作而减产,该铜矿运营已超过一个世纪。Oyu Tolgoi, the other copper mine operated by Rio, has brought more problems. An expected underground phase of the mine has been delayed by a dispute with the Mongolian government. Rio wrote down the value of the project in 2013.力拓运营的另一座铜矿奥尤陶勒盖(Oyu Tolgoi)带来了更多的问题。因与蒙古国政府产生纠纷,该矿预期中的地下开采阶段已经推迟。力拓在2013年对该项目的价值进行了减计。Rio took a step forward in December when President Barack Obama signed legislation that paves the way to build Resolution, a US copper mine expected to be one of the world’s largest. Rio owns 55 per cent of the project, with BHP owning 45 per cent.去年12月,美国总统巴拉克#8226;奥巴马(Barack Obama)签署法案、为Resolution铜矿的建设铺平道路,此举让力拓向前迈进了一步。这座位于美国的铜矿预计将成为全球最大的铜矿之一,力拓拥有该项目55%的权益,必和必拓拥有45%。Yet obtaining all the permits for Resolution could easily take Rio another five to seven years. “There is much work ahead to complete the regulatory approval process,” cautions Mr Jacques.然而,力拓要想为Resolution搞到全部所需的许可,很可能还需花费5到7年时间。雅克警告说:“还需要做大量工作才能走完监管审批程序。”Because receiving approval for mines is so laborious, Rio and others have walked away from some projects, even if the copper resources involved are substantial. Since 2013 Rio and Anglo American have both given up on Pebble, a huge copper deposit in Alaska that is controversial for its potential effect on fisheries, for example.由于获取开采许可是如此的费力,力拓等矿企已经放弃了一些项目,尽管这些项目涉及的铜资源十分可观。比如,自2013年以来,力拓和英美资源集团(Anglo American)均在Pebble铜矿上打了退堂鼓。这座巨大的铜矿位于美国阿拉斯加州,因对当地渔场有潜在影响而备受争议。Another challenge for miners is the expense involved in building mines. Glencore, the world’s third largest copper miner by annual output and larger in copper than any of its diversified rivals, sold its Las Bambas project in 2014 to MMG, a subsidiary of China’s Minmetals, for about bn. MMG said in October that the remaining 25 per cent of construction would cost between .7bn and .2bn.矿企面临的另一个挑战是矿场建设费用。嘉能可(Glencore)是全球以年产量计的第三大铜矿商,其铜产量大于所有多元化竞争对手。2014年,嘉能可以70亿美元左右的价格,将旗下拉斯邦巴斯(Las Bambas)铜矿出售给中国五矿集团(Minmetals)子公司五矿资源(MMG)。五矿资源在去年10月表示,该项目的建设工作还剩四分之一,而这部分工作的成本将在27亿到32亿美元之间。Those are the sort of sums that mining companies know shareholders dislike. Glencore is unwilling to build projects and most other miners are trying to矿业公司都知道,股东们不喜欢看到这么大的开销。嘉能可不愿建设矿场,其他矿企则大多在努力寻找低成本的开发途径。必和必拓拥有澳大利亚的奥林匹克坝(Olympic Dam)铜矿,2012年因可能需要的费用而放弃了一项扩张计划。该公司准备用数年时间测试一种更廉价的加工方法。它正在斯彭斯(Spence)铜矿进行类似的尝试。斯彭斯是位于智利的一个规模较小的项目。find lower-cost development routes. BHP, which owns Olympic Dam, an琼斯说:“所有矿企都对铜很上心,因为它们都认为市场会在几年后回归供不应求的局面。但它们正在执行和资本效益方面尝试更精明的做法。一些矿企走到了岔路口:它们该不该扩大铜产量?它们如何能够更精明地做到这一点?”Australian mine, abandoned an expansion plan in 2012 because of the likely cost. The company is set to take several years to test an alternative, cheaper processing method. It is doing something similar at Spence, a smaller Chilean project.矿业繁荣时期的失败交易曾令力拓深受打击,而必和必拓已表示自己不大可能通过收购来追求增长。“All the miners are keen on copper because they all see the market returning to deficit in a few years, but they are trying to be smarter about execution and capital efficiency,” says Mr Jones. “Some of the miners are at a fork in the road: should they grow in copper and how can they do it smarter?”必和必拓行政总裁安德鲁#8226;麦肯齐(Andrew Mackenzie)上月表示,“很难想象这类并购活动的回报能比得上”必和必拓现有铜矿项目的预期回报。“我们今天在铜业务上想表明的是,我们已经拥有所有我们想开发的铜矿项目,尽管过去并非总是如此。” /201501/353351

SAN FRANCISCO — Three years after his death, Steve Jobs is very much a presence in courtrooms across the country.旧金山——史蒂夫·乔布斯(Steve Jobs)已去世三年,但在很大程度上,人们依然能在美国各地的法庭上感受到他的影响。And that’s not necessarily good news for Apple.但对苹果公司(Apple)而言,这并不一定是好消息。Next month, the company is set to go to trial in the third major antitrust lawsuit it has faced since Mr. Jobs died. His emails will play an important role in the case, as they did in the last two. But lawyers will probably have to work hard to give his statements a positive spin. The potential damages — around 0 million — are a pittance for a company that in its last quarter had an .5 billion profit.下个月,苹果公司将出庭受审,这是乔布斯去世以来该公司面临的第三宗大型反垄断诉讼。和之前的两起案件一样,他的电子邮件将在这起案件中起到重要作用。但代理律师可能必须下些功夫,才能用正面的说辞解释乔布斯说过的话。此案的赔偿金可能高达3.5亿美元(约合22亿元人民币),但对于这家上季度盈利85亿美元的公司而言,这笔钱不足挂齿。Executives are often told by their lawyers to be careful what they put in writing for fear it will end up as evidence in a courtroom. Perhaps Mr. Jobs did not get the memo. His emails in past lawsuits — a mix of blunt litigation threats against his opponents and cheery financial promises for potential business partners — have made him an exceptional witness against his own company, even beyond the grave.律师常常让企业高管注意书面的内容,原因是担心它们最后会成为呈堂供。或许乔布斯没有收到过律师的提醒。尽管他已经去世,但在过去的案件中,乔布斯的电子邮件却让他成为了一个重要的人,只是对自己的公司不利——那些邮件中,既有起诉对手的裸的威胁,也有对潜在商业伙伴欣然许下的财务承诺。The emails in all these cases present the good and bad of Steve Jobs — charmer and bully, someone who may not always have played by the rules.所有这些案件中涉及的电子邮件,呈现出了乔布斯好的一面和不好的一面——时而颇具魅力,时而横行霸道,而且并不总是按规矩办事。He was a “genius in terms of his vision for the future,” said Michael A. Carrier, a professor at Rutgers School of Law. “But it went along with a really healthy ego and perhaps the lack of an antitrust filter — thinking about how these words would appear years later tossed up on the screen in front of a jury.”“谈到对未来的设想,他是个天才,”罗格斯大学法学院(Rutgers School of Law)教授迈克尔·A·卡里尔(Michael A. Carrier)说,“但他同时又真的很自大,可能也欠缺一个‘反垄断过滤器’。他没想到多年以后,这些话又会出现在陪审团面前的屏幕上。”The latest case to bring Mr. Jobs’s spirit into a courtroom is set to begin on Tuesday in Oakland, Calif. It is a class action involving older iPods, which played only songs sold in the iTunes Store, or those downloaded from CDs, not music from competing stores. The plaintiffs are consumers who say Apple violated antitrust law because to keep their music, people had to stay with the iPod, and buy higher-priced ones rather than cheaper, alternative music players. Apple has since discontinued this system.最近这起让乔布斯的灵魂走上法庭的案件,定于周二在加州奥克兰开庭。这是一起集体诉讼,涉及版本较老的iPod。它们只能播放iTunes Store销售的音乐,以及从CD上导出的音乐,无法播放从对手的商店购买的音乐。作为原告的消费者称,苹果违反了反垄断法,因为为了保留购买的音乐,人们不得不一直使用iPod,购买价格较高的iPod产品,而非更便宜的其他音乐播放器。苹果已经终止了这一做法。Mr. Jobs’s emails and taped deposition taken before his death, plaintiffs’ lawyers say, will portray him as planning to break a competitor’s product to protect Apple’s grip on digital music.原告律师称,乔布斯的电子邮件,以及他去世前录制的词视频表明,为了保护苹果对数字音乐的掌控,他打算搞垮竞争对手的一款产品。“We will present evidence that Apple took action to block its competitors and in the process harmed competition and harmed consumers,” said Bonny Sweeney, the lead plaintiffs’ lawyer.“我们将呈上据,表明苹果采取了遏制竞争对手的行动,并在此过程中妨碍了竞争,损害了消费者的利益,”首席原告的代理律师邦尼·斯威尼(Bonny Sweeney)说。Apple declined to comment.苹果拒绝置评。A few of the emails have aly been made public. In one, sent in 2003 to other Apple executives, Mr. Jobs expressed concern about Musicmatch, a software company, opening its own music store.其中几封电子邮件已被公开。2003年,乔布斯在发给苹果其他高管的电子邮件中,表达了对Musicmatch的担忧。这家软件公司当时要启动自己的音乐商店。“We need to make sure that when Music Match launches their download music store they cannot use iPod,” he wrote. “Is this going to be an issue?”“我们需要确保Music Match在发布他们的下载音乐商店时,没法用iPod,”他写道。“这会成为问题吗?”More emails are expected to become public during the trial.预计会有更多电子邮件在周二开始的庭审期间被公之于众。In this case, the overwhelming impression of Mr. Jobs is likely to be of an aggressive businessman eager to ensure and protect the iPod’s success. In other cases tried since his death, he appears in a far less flattering light — as a ruthless executive willing to strong-arm smaller companies.在这起案件中,乔布斯给人留下的最主要的印象,可能是一个咄咄逼人的商人,他迫切希望保障和捍卫iPod的成功。在他去世后开庭的其他案件中,也突出了他负面的形象。他给人的印象是一名严酷的高管,喜欢胁迫较小的公司。In 2010, Apple and five other Silicon Valley companies were accused in a class action of conspiring to keep wages down by agreeing not to recruit one another’s workers. The case is set to go to trial in January, after the judge rejected a settlement agreement. Mr. Jobs will be a star witness — or his words will.在2010年的一起集体诉讼中,苹果和另外五家位于硅谷的公司被控合谋以不雇佣对方员工的方式,来压低工资。在法官否决了一项和解协议后,该案定于明年1月进入审判程序。到时候乔布斯又会成为明星人,至少他的话又会成为重要词。Plaintiffs’ lawyers have portrayed Mr. Jobs as a ringleader of the conspiracy, pointing to his emails like one sent in 2006 to Eric Schmidt, a Google executive.原告律师称,乔布斯是串通事件中的主谋。律师提到了他的一些电子邮件,其中包括他在2006年发送给谷歌公司(Google)高管埃里克·施密特(Eric Schmidt)的那封。“I am told that Googles new cellphone software group is relentlessly recruiting in our iPod group,” Mr. Jobs wrote, according to the court documents. “If this is indeed true, can you put a stop to it?”法庭文件显示,乔布斯写道,“我听说,谷歌手机软件新团队正在连续不断地从我们的iPod团队挖人。如若属实,你能制止此事吗?”Mr. Jobs also tried to make a no-poaching agreement with Palm. When a Palm executive rejected that idea in an email, Mr. Jobs replied, “My advice is to take a look at our patent portfolio before you make a final decision here” — a threat to embroil Palm in patent litigation.乔布斯还尝试与Palm达成一项防止挖人的协议。当Palm的一名高管在电子邮件否决了这一提议时,乔布斯回复说,“我的建议是,在你就此事做出最终决定前看一眼我们的专利资产”——这是在威胁要对Palm发起专利诉讼。In 2012, the Justice Department accused Apple and five other publishers of colluding to raise e-book prices. In the trial, government lawyers showed an excerpt from Mr. Jobs’s authorized biography in which he said he wanted publishers, not retailers, to set the price of titles.2012年,司法部(Justice Department)指控苹果和其他五家出版商串通一气,提高电子书的价格。庭审期间,政府的代理律师出示了摘录自乔布斯授权的传记的部分内容。在那部传记中,乔布斯称他希望给各类出版物定价的是出版商,而非零售商。“Yes, the customer pays a little more, but that’s what you want anyway,” Mr. Jobs told the publishers, the biography said.“是的,消费者多花了点钱,但不管怎么说,这也是你们希望的结果,”在这本自传中,乔布斯告诉出版商。Throughout the trial, government lawyers frequently brought up an email written by Mr. Jobs to a media executive, in which he suggested that by teaming up with Apple, publishers could sell titles for higher than Amazon’s .99 pricing for e-books.整个庭审过程中,政府律师多次提到一封乔布斯写给某媒体高管的电子邮件,乔布斯在信中暗示说,只要与苹果合作,出版商就能以高于亚马逊设定的9.99美元的价格销售图书。“Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream e-books market at .99 and .99,” he wrote.“和苹果合作吧,看看我们能否做成这件事:以12.99美元和14.99美元的图书定价打造一个真正的主流电子书市场,”他写道。A federal judge found Apple liable in the case, and on Nov. 21 approved a settlement in which Apple could begin paying 0 million to as many as 23 million consumers.一名联邦法官认定苹果在案件中负有法律责任,并在11月21日批准了一份和解方案,根据这一方案,苹果可能需要开始向多达2300万消费者付总计4亿美元的赔偿。The case involving the iPod has kicked around various Bay Area federal courts for a decade. It is an amalgam of multiple suits, with over 900 filings from lawyers on both sides.这桩与iPod有关的案子10年来由湾区的多家联邦法院经手。它是多起诉讼结合的产物,双方律师提交的文件数量在900份以上。The jury will hear from some of Apple’s top executives, including Philip W. Schiller, the head of marketing, and Eddy Cue, who oversees iTunes and Apple’s other online services.陪审团将会听取一些苹果高管的词,包括营销负责人菲利普·W·席勒(Philip W. Schiller),以及负责iTunes等苹果在线务的埃迪·库埃(Eddy Cue)。Part of the case will involve RealNetworks, an Internet media service that had come up with a workaround to allow songs sold in its store to play on iPods and other media players. In response, Apple in 2004 issued an incensed statement, accusing RealNetworks of hacking the iPod and warning that future software updates might prevent songs sold by RealNetworks from playing on iPods. RealNetworks is not a party in this suit.该案将涉及互联网媒体务公司RealNetworks。该公司曾经使用一个变通办法,使其销售的歌曲可以在iPod和其他媒体播放器上播放。作为回应,苹果2004年发表了一份愤怒的声明,指责RealNetworks对iPod实施了黑客攻击,并警告说,未来的软件更新版本将阻止RealNetworks的歌曲在iPod上播放。RealNetworks不是该案的当事方。Apple’s lawyers are expected to try to show that various iTunes updates were designed to make improvements to its products rather than deliberately cripple a competitor and did not harm consumers.预计苹果的律师将设法明,iTunes的更新是为了改进产品,而不是故意削弱竞争对手,也没有损害消费者的利益。And they will probably point out that the price of iPods have gone down over the years, not up, regardless of what Apple did with its software.他们可能将指出,无论苹果对自己的软件做了什么改变,iPod的价格过去几年一直在下降,并没有提高。 /201412/346738

Alibaba says it will tackle the prevalence of counterfeit goods sold on its websites, bowing to criticism from a US clothing industry lobbying group.阿里巴巴(Alibaba)正面回应一家美国制衣业游说组织的批评,表示将整治其网站上售假盛行的现象。The American Apparel amp; Footwear Association (AAFA) said this month it was “frustrated” by the Chinese ecommerce company’s lack of progress in addressing what it called rampant selling of fake goods that hurt its members’ profits.美国装鞋类协会(AAFA)本月表示,对这家中国电商企业在解决其所称的售假盛行问题上的进展缓慢感到“失望”,售假伤害了其会员企业的利润。The lobby group also said the widesp nature of counterfeit apparel and footwear had worsened since the ed States Trade Representative removed Alibaba from their “notorious markets” blacklist in 2012.这家游说组织还表示,自2012年美国贸易代表(ed States Trade Representative)将阿里巴巴从其“臭名昭著市场”黑名单上剔除以来,阿里巴巴出售假冒装和鞋类的做法愈演愈烈。“Alibaba’s Taobao platform is notorious as one of the biggest platforms for counterfeit goods worldwide,” said the AAFA in a letter to USTR Michael Froman. “The slow pace has convinced us that Alibaba is either not capable of or interested in addressing this problem.”“阿里巴巴旗下的淘宝(Taobao)作为全球最大的假货平台之一臭名远扬,”该协会致函美国贸易代表迈克尔#8226;弗罗曼(Michael Froman)表示。“打假进展缓慢让我们相信,阿里巴巴要么没有能力解决这个问题,要么没有兴趣这么做。”The reappearance of pressure on the USTR to punish Alibaba is the latest setback in what has been a bruising year at the hands of regulators for the Hangzhou-based company. In January, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, a Chinese regulator, criticised Alibaba for violations by its sellers — including tolerating bribery, counterfeit goods and faking seller rankings, known as “brushing”.美国贸易代表再次受到要求惩罚阿里巴巴的压力,是这家杭州企业在监管机构手里屡屡受挫的一年里的最新挫折。今年1月,中国监管机构国家工商总局(SAIC)批评了阿里巴巴平台卖家的违规做法——包括纵容贿赂、假货和被称为“刷信誉”的卖家评价作假。The USTR said last month it was monitoring Alibaba for sales of counterfeit and pirated goods, though it had not re-blacklisted it.美国贸易代表上月表示,其正在监督阿里巴巴出售假货和盗版产品的情况,尽管没有再次将其列入黑名单。Alibaba said in response to the AAFA letter that it was taking the issue seriously and was “dedicated to the fight against counterfeits because the health and integrity of our marketplaces depend on consumer trust”.阿里巴巴在回复美国装鞋类协会的信中表示,阿里巴巴正认真对待这一问题,并“致力于打击假货,因为我们平台的健康和完好性有赖于消费者的信任 ”。It listed measures such as data mining, enhanced co-operation with the police and working with more than 1,000 brands to increase the effectiveness of procedures to erase knock-offs.阿里巴巴列出了一些具体措施,比如数据挖掘,加强与警方的合作,以及与超过1000个品牌展开合作,提高取缔假货的程序的有效性。 /201504/370411

When people talk about cloud computing, it’s usually understood that the cloud is a metaphor for groups of remote, networked servers. But when Lance Parker talks about “space computing,” he’s not taking poetic license. He means it literally: physical servers operating in outer space. Parker is the CEO of ConnectX, a startup company based in Los Angeles that’s working on a way to take corporations’ data out of the cloud and into the final frontier. If his company succeeds, it could revolutionize the way we store, transmit, and analyze information.当人们谈到云计算时,大家都明白,所谓的“云”不过是一个比喻,象征着一系列远程的务器网络。但当兰斯o帕克提到“太空计算”这个概念时,他并不是在玩诗意,而是说真的:他想把务器搬到太空进行运作。帕克是ConnectX公司的CEO,这家位于洛杉矶的初创公司致力于将企业储存于云端的数据搬到太空。一旦成功,它可能会彻底改变我们储存、传输和分析信息的模式。As metaphors go, “cloud computing” sounds nice but is misleading. Clouds are in the sky; server farms are decidedly earthbound. Clouds are aesthetic and amorphous, a Rorschach test in the atmosphere; data warehouses are boxy and don’t leave much room for interpretation. But the bigger problem with cloud computing is that, according to Parker, it’s simply unsustainable. He may have a point. From the beginning of time until 2002, the world created five exabytes (five billion gigabytes) of information; today, we create that much data in about 10 minutes. Data storage technology just isn’t keeping pace with the exponential growth of data creation. Data centers are also energy hogs, using up 10% of the world’s electricity.“云计算”这个名字虽然好听,但有一定的误导性。云在天上飘,而组成云计算的务器网络显然是在地面上。云是优美而千变万化的,就像老天爷在空中泼墨一般;数据务器则笨拙而有形,也没有给人多少解读的空间。不过据帕克称,云计算还有一个大问题,那就是不具备可持续发展能力。他或许说得有道理。从创世之初到2002年以前,全球一共创建了50亿G字节的信息。而今天,我们差不多每隔10分钟就会创建这么多的信息。数据存储技术已经无法跟上呈指数级增长的数据创建速度。另外数据中心也是能耗大户,它们消耗的电力已经达到了全球电力的10%。Putting servers in space could potentially remedy the energy problem, since they could be powered by free, plentiful solar radiation. And, Parker adds, the space environment would be advantageous for spinning disk drives. Zero-gravity allows the drives to spin with less resistance, and the extreme cold in space means the servers could process faster without overheating.将务器放到太空或许能够解决能耗问题,因为太空中充足的太阳光辐射可以为它们提供免费的电力。另外,太空环境对旋转式硬盘驱动器非常有利。在零重力下,硬盘驱动器旋转的阻力变小了,而太空中的极寒环境意味着务器不用担心过热问题,从而运转得更快。Of course, all of the benefits of space computing are worthless without a cost-effective way to launch a server into space. Fortunately for ConnectX, satellites are getting smaller and cheaper by the year. The CubeSat, which is about the size of a cantaloupe, can be placed into orbit for less than 0,000. The even smaller TubeSat can be launched for ,000. Compare those costs to, say, a cellular tower at 0,000, and “the small satellite becomes the obvious choice,” Parker says.当然,如果没有一种经济的方法能将务器发送到太空,那么太空计算的所有好处都是无稽之谈。好在近年来,人造卫星的尺寸越来越小,成本也在逐年降低。比如所谓的“立方体卫星”(CubeSat)只有一个甜瓜那么大,花上不到10万美元的成本,就能将它送到太空轨道上。尺寸更小的“管状卫星”(TubeSat)只需要8000美元就能发射。把这个成本与15万美元的蜂窝基站相比,“小型卫星就变成了一个很明智的选择。”帕克说。But if cost is not the main barrier to space computing, data transmission rates could well be. Currently, servers and computers send and receive information mostly through cables or fiber optics, which allow a data transfer rate of around 100 megabits per second for typical applications. Satellites and cell phones, on the other hand, beam information using electromagnetic waves. (The data is delivered in a code of ones and zeroes, with the height or the frequency of the wave distinguishing between the numerals. A series of numerals is then translated by the receiver into useable information. For example, the letter “A” is represented by eight zeroes and ones—eight waves.) This method of transmission is much slower than using wires. Verizon claims that its LTE wireless network, for example, downloads at speeds between five and 12 megabits per second. At that rate, storing large amounts of data in space is just not feasible.如果说成本并非太空计算的主要障碍,那么传输效率问题很可能是。目前,务器和电脑收发信息主要还是依赖电缆或光纤,典型的应用程序的传输速度可以达到每秒100兆左右。而卫星和智能手机则是通过电磁波传输数据。(数据通过二进制进行编码,用一串波峰和波谷来区别数字。一系列数字随后被发送到接收端,译解成可用的信息。比如字母“A”会被显示成8个0和1——也就是8个波形。)这种传输方法的效率要远远低于有线传输。比如,威瑞森电信(Verizon)声称,其LTE无线网络的下载速度可以达到每秒5至12兆。但就算按照这个速率,在太空存储大量数据也是不可行的。ConnectX’s proposed solution to the transfer rate challenge is twofold. First, the company is working on a way to twist radio beams to increase data transmission rates. This might sound farfetched, but Alan Willner, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Southern California, has recently developed a similar technique, which achieved a rate of 32 gigabits per second—about 30 times faster than LTE wireless. Willner published an account of the research in Nature Communications on September 16. “It was interesting to see that come out,” Parker says, “because our technology requires spin, but we do it in a different way that’s much more effective.”ConnectX公司就此提出了一个双重解决方案。首先,该公司正在尝试着通过“扭结”无线电波束的方法来提高数据传输速率。这听起来似乎有些天方夜谭,但南加利福尼亚大学电子工程学教授艾伦o威尔纳最近已经开发出一种类似技术,能够使无线电传播速率达到每秒32G——大约比LTE无线传输快了30倍。威尔纳已经在9月16日的《自然通讯》上发表了一篇论文。帕克表示:“看着这个研究成果出来很有意思,因为我们的技术也需要旋转,但我们使用了另一种更加有效的方式。”That different approach is where the real blockbuster innovation of ConnectX might be found. In addition to twisting the radio beams for faster transmission, the beams will be sending the data in a condensed, non-binary symbol structure. Instead of the letter “A” requiring eight waves, it could require just one. Or an entire sentence, “The apple fell far from the tree,” could be communicated with a single symbol. “Our symbol structure can get even more complex as we evolve it,” Parker says, “where a symbol can mean more and more information.” This eases not only transfer rates, but could also speed up analytics by reducing the sheer volume of data that must be combed through to find actionable intelligence.这种不同的方式是指ConnectX公司可能已经实现的一项突破性创新。除了将无线电波束进行扭结以加快传输速度之外,无线电波束还将以一种压缩的、非二进制的符号结构进行传输。这样一来,字母A就不再需要8个波形,而只需要1个波形。甚至像“苹果落在了离树很远的地方”这类句子也只需要一个符号就能完成。帕克表示:“随着研发工作的进一步深入,我们的符号结构甚至可以变得更复杂,一个符号能代表越来越多的信息。”这不仅解决了传输速率的问题,也可以加快数据的分析速度,因为它大大减少了数据梳理过程所占用的时间。According to the head of data science at a Fortune 500 company, who is familiar with ConnectX’s work, the value of the company’s proprietary symbol structure can be communicated in one word: visualization. In the traditional approach to big data analytics, records are two dimensional and it’s therefore difficult to see relationships between products and people or changes over time. “That’s what ConnectX is trying to fix,” the data science manager says, “picturing the data as an object with relationships, attributes and movement. That’s what’s missing on the market now: something that can show the insights, and help executives figure out the next steps for the company.”一家熟悉ConnectX业务的《财富》美国500强企业的数据科学总监表示,ConnectX专有的符号结构可以用一个词来概括,那就是“可视化”。在传统的大数据分析模式中,记录是二维的,因此很难观察到产品和人的关系,或者随着时间的推移而产生的变化。那位数据科学总监表示:“这正是ConnectX想要纠正的,它想把数据描绘成具有关系、特性和运动的物体。这也正是目前市场上所缺少的——一种能够展示分析结果,并帮助企业高管指明公司下一步走向的方法。”ConnectX’s team of 13 employees, most of whom are engineers and scientists, are hoping the company can fill that void. They plan to prove the transmission technology on earth first, then test it in space. The beta launch is slated for 2017.ConnectX的团队目前拥有13名员工,其中大多数都是工程师和科学家,他们希望填补市场空白。这个团队计划首先在地面上验符号传输技术的可行性,然后再在太空进行测试。Beta版产品计划于2017年推出。 /201503/361269


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