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Sep 25, 2011

GeForce GTX 580 Classified Are EVGA's Latest Overclocking Beasts

The market for video controllers has just become slightly bigger now that EVGA has completed its latest high-end, overclocking-friendly controllers, based on NVIDIA's reference GTX 580.

There are already a myriad of video cards selling around the world, but this is never a deterrent for companies that deal in such things.

EVGA proved this just well now, having completed its newest couple of high-grade boards.

The newcomers are versions of NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 580, the best single-GPU card that the Santa Clara, California-based outfit has at the moment.

The company didn't cut any corners when it made them, even if this did lead to the air-cooled one selling for $550 / $600 (407 / 444 Euro) and the liquid cooled ones for $680 / $730 (504 / 541 Euro).

The plural is used because there are two of each type, with memory capacities of 1.5 GB and 3 GB, respectively.

The former have a dual-slot fansink with a fan whose diameter is of 8 cm, while the latter have a full-cover waterblock with a 0.6mm thin-pin matrix.

Needless to say, the watercooled cards are the ones better suited for serious overclocking tasks, though the air-cooled ones aren't too far behind.

The rest of their specifications are quite identical, from the clocks to the special components (over-sized PCB, NEC Proadlizer capacitors, voltage probe points, 3 MHz shielded inductors, EVBot connector for on-the-fly overclocking, etc.).

512 CUDA cores are present on each, as are clocks of 855 MHz and 1710 MHz for the GPU and shaders, respectively. The VRAM is clocked at 4,212 MHz.

"With the EVGA GeForce GTX 580 Classified, we focused on the key elements that the GPU and Memory need when overclocking. Power, stability, noise ripple reduction and extreme OC mode without limits. The design was created with overclocking in mind," said Illya "TiN" Tsemenko.


Motorola DROID Bionic Only $149.99 at Amazon

Motorola DROID Bionic, the high-end Android-based smartphone that arrived at Verizon Wireless a few weeks ago with support for the wireless carrier's LTE network, is now available for purchase via Amazon Wireless for only $149.99 (around 110 Euros) with the signing of a two-year contract agreement. 

The mobile phone features an off-contract price tag of $699.99, and can be seen on Amazon's website here

Motorola DROID Bionic was one of the most anticipated LTE-capable smartphones at Verizon Wireless. 

Unveiled to the world in January, the handset was expected to arrive on shelves sometime in spring, but Motorola decided that it would use some design changes, and pushed it back four months or so. 

Verizon launched the new device on its airwaves only in September, as the fourth and most powerful LTE smartphone on its network. 

“Packing a dual-core processor with each core running at 1 GHz, the sleekly designed Motorola DROID BIONIC smartphone with 4G LTE for Verizon Wireless delivers a mobile Internet experience that's up to 10 times faster than 3G,” Amazon explains. 

The mobile phone also includes 1GB of RAM, along with a large 4.3-inch qHD (960 x 540-pixel) display, and 16 GB of onboard storage (complemented by a microSD memory card slot for expanding the available memory).

“In addition to high-speed 4G connectivity, you can also share the built-in Mobile Hotspot via Wi-Fi among up to five devices--laptop, another phone, MP3 player, and more (additional service charge),” Amazon notes. 

“And with Motorola's innovative webtop application, you can connect to an external monitor via optional adapters or docks (including a laptop dock) to play music and videos on the big screen as well as enjoy full Firefox multi-tab browsing (learn more below).”

On the back, the smartphone includes an 8-megapixel photo snapper with support for full HD video recording, complemented by a camera on the front for video calling, built-in GPS receiver, and more.


Bold 9790 and Curve 9380 on RIM's Developer Portal

Soon, Canadian mobile phone maker Research In Motion is expected to add to its offering a new series of devices, and the BlackBerry Bold 9790 and BlackBerry Curve 9380 should be among them, some of the latest reports on the matter suggest. 

The handset vendor has been long rumored to plan the release of these smartphones, yet no confirmation on this has been made available until now. 

CrackBerry reports that the two BlackBerry Bold 9790 and Curve 9380 devices have just emerged on the company's BlackBerry App World developer portal, which can be considered almost an official confirmation on their existence. 

Moreover, the fact that they emerged on the developer portal shows that it might not be too long before RIM will bring them to the market, although specific details on this haven't been unveiled for the time being. 

The same as the latest high-end handsets from RIM, the upcoming BlackBerry Bold 9790 is expected to feature a 1.2GHz application processor, along with the popular QWERTY keyboard of all Bold smartpones, and NFC capabilities. 

As for the new Curve 9380, it is expected to lose the physical keyboard of previous models to replace it with a full-touchscreen experience. 

Even so, it will remain a less powerful smartphone, and should arrive on shelves with an 800MHz chip, NFC connectivity, and an affordable price tag. 

When compared to previous BlackBerry devices, the new handsets pack better hardware, new features and more applications, which clearly make them far more appealing. 

However, the latest BlackBerry 7 OS devices did not manage to impress as much as originally thought, which shows that RIM still has to pack them with better hardware to bring them in line with smartphones running under other platforms. 

One way or the other, enthusiasts will certainly appreciate the new phones, especially since the Bold 9790 should arrive on shelves with a smaller design than other Bold handsets, but with the same capabilities, while the new 9380 would be the first touch-enabled Curve model.


Warning, Don’t Use Windows 8

I was sold on an iPad 2 before I left for the BUILD conference last week. I told my friends I’d get one. I had gone through all the pros and cons. “I couldn’t wait” to, all of a sudden, be upgraded to a new level coolness.

Then, on a small one hour break from BUILD when I couldn’t find any interesting sessions from an end user point of view, I walked into a BestBuy some 2 miles from the Anaheim Convention Center. 

I was directed to the iPad 2 stand and played with the device for 5 minutes while an employee was telling me how this product basically sells itself, most probably thinking that I was an easy sell, since I had declared from the start that I was going to buy one. 

He must have been left scratching his head when I walked out of the store moments later, empty handed. 

What had happened? Much to my “dismay,” I had the “misfortune” of playing with the Samsung Windows Developer Preview PC running Windows 8 pre-Beta for some 36 hours. 

I no longer wanted an iPad2, or a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 or an ASUS Eee Pad Transformer. I no longer wanted any tablet unless it would run Windows 8. 

Reimagined, yes, it’s about the right word to describe Windows 8

After Windows 7 was just so… comfortable, it’s certainly a breath of fresh air to see Microsoft take a risk again. 

Remember when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that Windows 8 was the company’s riskiest bet? This was back in October 2010. He wasn’t really exaggerating. 

Windows and Windows Live Division President Steven Sinofsky has taken Windows out of its comfort zone, and the result, albeit still far from being finished, is still very promising. 

You undoubtedly must have heard the Windows chief, and other Softies, talk about the reimagining of Windows. This is about the introduction of Metro, of course, but also about more than just the new NUI + GUI and app platform. 

It’s also about pushing Windows completely to the background and letting immersive experiences take center-stage, about delivering unprecedented Cloud connectivity both for Microsoft’s and third-party programs, and still offering customers the option to run the good old desktop, to take advantage of the existing software and hardware ecosystem.

With Windows 8, consumers will truly get more than any of its predecessors had to offer. 

Metro

I’ve seen both the good and the bad side of reactions to Metro. Walking around BUILD, I started random conversations with attendees whenever I had the chance, they were easy to spot because of their green badges, after they received the Samsung Developer Preview PC. With the last one I talked to I also took the same flight back home.

Ballmer said that feedback following initial testing was positive and this is also my take. All the people I asked about the Samsung device and Metro had only good things to say to me. 

Here is Microsoft’s take on Metro:

“Windows 8 introduces a new Metro style interface, which shows the information important to you, embodies simplicity, and gives you control. The interface is a personalized layout with clean typography and animations to make interacting with your PC fluid and intuitive. The new interface is built for touch. With touch, you can do what you want to do quickly and naturally. The new Start screen puts all of your apps in front of you for immediate access. 

“You don’t have to remember where things are. And whether you want to type, click, or swipe, Windows 8 is optimized for easier navigation so moving around the operating system is effortless with either a finger, or a mouse and keyboard.”

This is the first Windows UI that truly marries the natural user interface and graphical user interface concepts. It’s built to be touched. 

And this is why it’s important to stress that using it with a mouse and keyboard simply doesn’t do Metro justice. Metro is palpable. Users need tangible interaction with this innovative UI in order to truly experience its fluidity, speed, simplicity. It’s UX naturalness, if you will. 

I said that I also came across negative feedback. Yes, such a thing does exist. As far as I can tell, for the most part, this type of input comes from Windows 8 testers that didn’t get to touch Metro. Didn’t get to touch the new Start Screen. 

Looking at old-style icons on existing tablets in the BestBuy store, I realized just how far they were from the Windows 8 tiles. They delivered none of the interactivity, none of the content richness, little flexibility, no customization options, no coherence of design. You just “clicked” one with your finger to launch the app. Otherwise they were just uselessly taking up screen real estate space, crowded together in a jarring mass. This was not what I wanted, not any more. 

A scene from Zoolander

On September 12, 2011, Sinofsky and Windows team members gathered along with press representatives from around the globe in a hotel next to the Anaheim Convention Center for an exclusive sneak peek at Windows 8. 

What we got to see that day was pretty much the BUILD day 1 keynote address, as well as a range of great demos. 

The Windows boss promised that after getting to play with Windows 8, and specifically with the Samsung Developer Preview PC, we’d want to touch Windows, to touch older screens. I can’t say that I really believed him at that time. 

Following the day-long sneak peek, I retired to my hotel room, and fired up the Samsung Developer Preview PC almost immediately. At that point in time, it was the only way for me to test Windows 8, official downloads wouldn’t go live for another 24 hours, or so. 

I played around with the early pre-Beta Build of Windows 8 and the Samsung device all evening. Somewhere between 11:30 PM and 12:30 AM I started writing the first article that went live the next day. I wrote a number of articles throughout the night, sacrificing sleep. 

After the first BUILD keynote address, I continued much in the same line, picking up the Samsung device when I wasn’t writing. At one point I placed it in the dock provided and connected the keyboard that also came into the package offered by the software giant. It was the same as working on a laptop, except I didn’t connect a mouse, and I was simply touching the screen with my finger. 

I went back and forth between the Samsung device and my old Dell notebook for the next day after the official debut of BUILD, using the new form factor both docked and undocked. 

At a certain point, I needed to launch an application on my Dell machine. Much to my surprise I didn’t move my right hand to the mouse it was near, but instead lifted my left hand and poked at the screen with my finger. 

When I realized what I was doing, I stopped, and started laughing, and of course, proceeded to sharing the experience with the world via Twitter. 

Touching the non-touch screen of the notebook with my finger was nothing short of a scene from Zoolander. However, I want to emphasize that I had done it out of reflex, and not consciously. It amazed me just how natural the Samsung device and Windows 8 made touching the monitor.

I didn’t get it at first

Served through the Windows Store, Metro apps will run on x86, x64, and ARM platforms, delivering completely immersive experiences since they’ll run full screen with no Windows 8 chrome peeking through. 

These apps are designed by default to run in a new security context, to leverage the Cloud, to be interconnected, to accompany the always-on experience of next-generation form factors, and to move with the user from one Windows 8 PC to another, effortlessly. 

I can see Microsoft working with OEM partners to provide Metro-only Windows 8 devices that would be the equivalents of tablets available today, namely geared toward content consumption alone, but with all the inherent capabilities of Windows, such as multitasking.

I must confess that I didn’t get it at first. Using the Samsung Windows 8 Developer Preview PC really opened my eyes on the benefits of having a tablet that can seamlessly switch to the full Windows desktop experience, deliver all of its power, compatibility, application and device support, productivity, etc. 

Content consumption-oriented devices now seem artificially limited to me, especially when Windows 8 machines can do so much more. 

The thing to keep in mind

Windows Developer Preview is a very early development milestone of Windows 8, Build 8102 Milestone 3 (M3), to be more specific. As a pre-Beta release it has its fair share of problems, but they’re to be expected even for at least one additional development milestone. 

The quality of Windows 8 will surely improve as the platform gets closer to Beta, Microsoft is already hard at work on this Build, but there’s still much to do. 

Just as it’s the case with bugs, the company will also address additional issues, and take into account feedback from early adopters. So testers need to make sure that they make themselves heard and potentially influence the Windows 8 development process for the better. 

Conclusion

Don’t use Windows 8 on an NUI device. It will change your perspective on computing interaction in a way that no OS available today has done. I for one was unable to settle for anything currently on the market. I’d rather wait for Windows 8 to launch. 

The way I see it, packing both Metro innovation and the traditional desktop, Windows 8 is to iOS and Android as a Bugatti Veyron to a pair of circus tricycles used for cute tricks, one pink, the other one light blue. Its biggest fault so far? It’s not here yet. 



Windows 8 Developer Preview Build 8102 Milestone 3 (M3) is available for download here.

Verizon's HTC Trophy Spotted with Mango, to Taste It Next Week

Mobile phone carrier Verizon Wireless is expected to start the delivery of the new Windows Phone Mango software update for its HTC Trophy customers as soon as next week, some of the latest reports on the matter suggest. 

The wireless services provider is reportedly gearing up for the deployment of Mango starting with September 27th, the same day that AT&T will begin the move. 

Apparently, a company's representative has already confirmed that, and the mobile phone itself was already spotted into the wild with the new OS flavor on board. 

A WPCentral reader talked to a Verizon rep about the Trophy, and learned that the software update might be released on the same day as it will arrive at AT&T, it seems. 

When asked whether the update will be launched at Verizon simultaneously with its arrival at other carriers in the country, the representative said yes, though it’s uncertain whether he/she was trying to sell the smartphone or was indeed confirming the availability of this software update.

However, the fact that the HTC Trophy - which is currently the only Windows Phone device available for purchase on Verizon's network - was already spotted into the wild with Mango seems to be an indicator of the fact that the info is accurate. 

A customer entering a Verizon store noticed that the Trophy unit being displayed in at that location was running under Windows Phone Mango build 7720.68, and provided a photo with it (via WPCentral). 

This shows that the wireless carrier already has units with the new operating system flavor installed on them, and that the update should become available for all users in the very near future. 

Microsoft already confirmed that the software update will be released in a week or two, and it seems that US carriers will indeed begin its delivery as soon as next week, which might imply that others will do the same. 

In other words, just as Vodafone Romania confirmed, the roll-out of Mango should begin before the end of September.


AMD Isn't Satisfied with the Performance of GlobalFoundries

Even though GlobalFoundries has shouted out time and time again that its 32nm silicon-on-insulator (SOI) fabrication process doesn't face any sort of problems, an AMD official recently refuted these claims as it stated that GloFo's advanced fabrication node isn't actually where it would need to be in terms of performance.

"We have been pretty open in that we see room for improvement on the GlobalFoundries side, I think that is very much true," said Thomas Seifert, CFO and former interim CEO of AMD during the Deutsche Bank Technology Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"Performance is not where it needs to be and we are driving them very hard to where we need them to be in order to continue to grow this partnership," concluded the company's rep.

According to the Bright Side of News website, some of the problems with 32nm production face right now by GlobalFoundries are due to the manufacturing tools issues caused by the former management at AMD, but the foundry is also to blame as is facing a brain drain after losing five leaders of the Dresden Campus in a the span of just 18 months.

As a result of all these production issues, in early April, AMD has revised its deal with GlobalFoundries to go from wafer based pricing to a good chip approach.

What this means is that AMD will only pay for the working chips manufactured by the foundry and not for all the wafers (containing working or non-working chips) that come out of production.

Seifert went on to explain that such an arrangement is only natural as their relationship with GlobalFoundries moves to a standard foundry relationship.

He also added that AMD has a similar deal in place with TSMC, which has worked out extremely well. 

AMD is GlobalFoundries' largest customer and uses the foundry's production facilities to manufacture CPUs as well as the first generation of Fusion APUs.


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