BMW unveils futuristic i4 concept EV with a massive front grille

6 Mar 2020

The BMW i4 concept. Image: BMW

This week in future tech, BMW has teased its latest concept EV, called the i4, with some notable design features.

BMW has unveiled a concept saloon successor to the i3 – dubbed the i4 – which is set to begin production next year. The German auto giant has promised to invest €200m into its Munich plant to produce the futuristic-looking EV.

In terms of spec, the i4 has a 600km range with an output of 530hp, can go from zero to 100kph in four seconds, and has a top speed of 200kph. Hans Zimmer – the composer of some of the biggest movie soundtracks in Hollywood – has been recruited to help produce the sounds the car will make while moving, as is necessary under EU law.

In BMW’s notes on the car, it said the sound is “manifold, surprising and it provides a sense of lightness and transparency”.

One of the noticeable design features is its huge kidney-shaped grille on the front of the car, which BMW said “provides a tangible connection between the past and future of BMW”. It will also come with a glass roof and large digital dashboard.

However, it remains to be seen whether some of the features in the concept version will make it into production in 2021.

Honeywell promises world-leading quantum computer this year

Honeywell has claimed it will release the world’s most powerful quantum computer by the middle of this year. It said that thanks to a breakthrough in the technology, its device will have a quantum volume of at least 64 – twice that of its competitors.

Quantum computers are seen as being one of the next evolutionary steps in computing, offering computational speeds thousands of times faster than the most powerful binary computers. Google recently proclaimed it had achieved quantum supremacy with its own technology; a claim challenged by IBM and others.

Honeywell has published a paper detailing its breakthrough, adding that 100 scientists, engineers and software developers worked on this latest project. JP Morgan Chase has partnered with Honeywell to use its quantum computer, as well as partnering with Microsoft to use it as part of the latter’s Azure Quantum offering.

World’s fastest supercomputer to break two-exaflop barrier

Meanwhile, in the adjacent world of binary supercomputers, chip manufacturer AMD and HP Enterprise have announced that the El Capitan machine will soon have performance capabilities of two exaflops.

This means it is capable of performing two quintillion floating-point operations per second. If you were try and match what a one-exaflop computer system can do in one second, you’d have to perform a calculation each second for 31,688,765,000 years.

El Capitan – based at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in the US – will become more powerful than today’s 200 fastest supercomputers combined and 10 times faster than the world’s current fastest device. It will now be tasked with ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the US nuclear weapons stockpile.

“This unprecedented computing capability, powered by advanced CPU and GPU technology from AMD, will sustain America’s position on the global stage in high performance computing and provide an observable example of the commitment of the country to maintaining an unparalleled nuclear deterrent,” said LLNL lab director Bill Goldstein.

Photonics could seriously reduce CO2 output from manufacturing

A new study from Germany has claimed that photonics applications have the potential to contribute 3bn tons less CO2 output per year – the equivalent of 22.2m diesel trucks all driving 160,000km in a year – by 2030.

In 2019 alone, the study said, a number of examples of photonics technologies resulted in an indirect contribution of 1.13bn tons CO2 equivalent. This included energy-efficient lighting, fibre optic network communications and optical detection of forest fires. Other affected areas included photovoltaics, optical communication in data centres, energy-efficient displays, laser-supported metal recycling and 5G mobile networks.

Dr Bernhard Ohnesorge, chair of the Photonics Trade Association group Spectaris, said: “Photonics has made it possible to identify the hazards of climate change. It gives us the tools to protect our world. What matters now is that we make sure to use these opportunities wisely.”

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic