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Sep 26, 2011

AMD FX-8170 and FX-6120 Processors to Arrive in Early 2012

Even though there are still two weeks to go until AMD will release its first FX-Series processors into the wild, reports suggest the Sunnyvale-based chip maker is already planning to introduce faster versions of these chips in the first quarter of 2012.

According to a recently leaked company roadmap, the start of 2012 will mark the introduction of two new FX-Series CPU that are referred to as the FX-8170 and the FX-6120.

Just as its name implies, the FX-8170 is a faster version of the FX-8150 that will launch on October 12 and it boasts four Bulldozer modules to deliver a total of eight computing cores.

These will be accompanied by 8MB of Level 3 as well as 8MB of L2 cache memory, but the rest of its specifications haven't been finalized yet.

However, the Donanim Haber Website states sources familiar with AMD's plans informed them that the chip will be clocked at least 200MHz higher than the FX-8150, which has a base operating frequency of 3.6GHz.

Moving to the FX-6120, its base and Turbo clock speeds are also unknown, but the CPU will include six processing cores backed by 6MB of Level 2 cache as well as by 8MB of L3 cache, just as its the case with its older brother.

When the two new AMD desktop Bulldozer processors will arrive, they will have to compete with a new series of Intel CPUs based on the high-performance Sandy Bridge-E architecture.

These are expected to be launched in mid-November, and will have no trouble in surpassing the FX-8150, if the leaked AMD press deck benchmarks we reported about earlier are indeed true.

In development since 2005, Bulldozer is AMD's next high-performance processor architecture, and is optimized to deliver better inter-core communications and a higher instructions per clock cycle count.

As a result, AMD used a modular approach, each dual-core module being comprised of 2MB of L2 cache, 16kB 4-way L1 data cache per core and a 2-way 64kB L1 instruction cache per module, two dedicated integer cores and two symmetrical 128-bit FMAC pipelines that can be unified into one large 256-bit wide unit.

Ice Cream Sandwich to Arrive as Android 4.0

Mountain View-based Internet giant Google is hard at work with the release of a new flavor of their mobile operating system, Android, and it seems that they might put the 4.0 version next to it. 

There is no mystery that a new Android platform flavor is on its way to devices, as Google themselves mentioned that a few times before. 

However, the company referred so far to the next platform release as Ice Cream Sandwich, but did not offer info on the version number it might sport. 

While the said number won't affect the list of features and capabilities that the platform would feature, enthusiasts are still arguing whether the new OS release will be part of the 2.X branch, or it will come with a completely new version number attached to it. 

Apparently, the latter supposition is the one that might pan out, at least this is what the guys over at Droid-life suggest, citing web stats. 

According to their site analytics, devices running under Google's Android 4.0 operating system have started to access the web starting with September 16th, which is a clear indicator of the fact that this OS flavor should soon be released into the wild. 

The platform iteration should be none other than the Ice Cream Sandwich flavor that Google unveiled as being set to bring unity to the Android ecosystem. 

The new OS version should be loaded both on smartphones and tablet PCs, thus offering a unified experience across all devices based on Android, regardless the screen size. 

Google already announced developers that they should come up with applications that will offer support for both the small screen on handsets and for the larger displays that tablet PCs pack, suggesting that Ice Cream Sandwich is near. 

Rumor has it that the platform will be launched as soon as next month, and that it will arrive on a new Google phone, supposedly manufactured by Samsung and called Nexus Prime.

How to Manually Install Android 2.3.6 on Google Nexus One

The venerable Nexus One handset is about to get the latest Android 2.3.6 update far ahead other modern smartphones. 

In fact, Nexus One is the second smartphone to receive this update, after Google pushed Android 2.3.6 to all Nexus S devices about three weeks ago.

Unfortunately, Nexus S owners who updated to Android 2.3.6 reported several issues with the phone's Wi-Fi and USB tethering capabilities.

It is also worth mentioning that Sprint already delivered the Android 2.3.7 update to Nexus S 4G devices, last week.

Even though we strongly recommend Nexus One users to wait for the update to be pushed OTA (over the air), those who do not want wait until Google decides to deploy Android 2.3.6 upgrade can install the update manually following a simple step by step procedure.

First, make sure you have a microSD memory card that you can use in order to update the Google Nexus One smartphone.

Android 2.3.6 update is available for download from here (d323ca384aaa.signed-passion-GRK39F-from-GRJ22.d323ca38.zip).

After you download the file on the PC, simply rename it to update.zip and copy the file onto the microSD card. 

You will need to power off the Nexus One, and turn it on again by holding down the trackball and pressing the power button.

As soon as a white screen appears on the display, you will be able to select the “Bootloader” option. Choose “Recovery” on the next screen and the Nexus One will reboot.

Make sure you press the power button and volume up button at the same time. Then you will be able to select the “Apply sdcard:update.zip” option using the trackball.

It will take about 5 minutes to apply the update, after which the phone will reboot itself and you will be able to use it again.

Although Google has yet to issue the update's change log, it appears that Android 2.3.6 for Nexus One brings important bug fixes and security patches.

Windows 8 is Windows 6.2

Yes, Windows 8 is actually Windows 6.2, versioning-wise. As I’m sure you remember, Windows 7 is Windows 6.1, and Windows Vista was Windows 6.0. 

Don’t be surprised if Microsoft ends up making the successor of Windows 8, Windows 6.3, because most likely, this is the plan. 

The Windows OS version increment can be a source of incompatibilities with existing applications, especially if they’re designed to check for upper bound OS version. 

Microsoft is simply doing away with some potential compatibility issues by keeping versioning changes as small as possible. 

Remember how well Vista apps ran on Windows 7? Well, the promise from Microsoft is that Windows 7 applications will play just as nice on Windows 8. 

“The internal version number for Windows Developer Preview and Windows Server Developer Preview is 6.2. All of the versioning APIs will return this version number (GetVersion, GetVersionEx),” the company said. 

This is an important piece of information for app developers that can easily tweak their projects in order to make sure that users will have no problems running them on Windows 8. 

It’s also good practice for the Windows client that will succeed Windows 8, let’s call it Windows 9 since they’re all codenames after all, and for which Microsoft will use a similar versioning strategy. 

Here’s what devs need to keep in mind when it comes to ensuring that their apps deal with the version change in Windows 8:

“Generally, apps should not perform operating system version checks. If an app needs a specific feature, it is preferable to try to find the feature, and fail only if the needed feature is missing. 

“At a minimum, apps should always accept version numbers greater than or equal to the lowest supported version of the operating system. Exceptions should occur only if there is a specific legal, business, or system-component requirement.”

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

Major iPhone 5 Details Break Out: 1GB RAM, Assistant, Backlit Camera

Sources familiar with the new Apple iPhone have leaked a bulk of new information about the inner workings of the handset, as well as some software enhancements that will allegedly work with new-gen iPhones only.

According to the people cited by 9to5mac, the iPhone 5 will pack Apple’s dual-core A5 processor but it will have drastically improved graphics and double the RAM of the iPhone 4.

Not even the iPad 2 has 1GB of RAM, so why would it need so much?

Well, it’s because iPhone 5 will need to handle a lot of new background tasks that Apple will introduce, according to a source familiar with the manufacturing of the A5 SOC (system on a chip).

An upgraded camera system will also be found on the fifth-gen iPhone. It will have an 8 megapixel image sensor that takes “incredibly high-resolution and clear shots”, thanks to a backlit sensor, even in low light conditions.

The iPhone 5 will reportedly be a world-phone, as previously rumored, thanks to a Qualcomm Gobi Baseband chip that allows it to roam the airwaves of both GSM and CDMA operators.

However, the biggest and most exciting change will be the Assistant, the brainchild of the Siri acquisition last year, according to those who are privy of Apple’s plans with the new device.

The Assistant will basically allow users to do all kinds of stuff - like set a reminder, or send a quick text message - by simply talking to their phone as if it were a real person waiting to take instructions.

The feature is said to work only with devices that pack the aforementioned A5 chip with 1GB of RAM, which means that current-generation iPhones and iPads will miss out on Assistant.

The integration with Wolfram Alpha, the online computational knowledge system, is regarded as “the coolest aspect of Assistant”, in its ability to leverage different kinds of services.

Finally, the new iPhone is said to feature Nuance speech-to-text integration (though this mostly has to do with software, rather than hardware). This information reportedly came from a mobile carrier source who had access to the feature during its testing phases.

Clear-Back 'iPhone 5' Cases Depict Relocated Hardware Switch, Tapered Back

A new set of alleged iPhone 5 cases marketed by an online merchant site appears to indicate there will be a relocation of the hardware-switch button, and a tapered back shell akin to that of the iPad 2.

Advertised in three versions - “Air Series”, the “2.0 Cover”, and an “Ex-Sleek” case - the accessories all tell the same story, as in the iPhone 5 will have a completely redesigned body.

Falling in line with most rumors about the next-generation Apple handset, these cases show a tapered back that is almost identical in form to the back side of the much-larger iPad 2.

A wide (though not very large) opening can be seen on the right side of the case (when viewed front-side) which suggests Apple is relocating the mute on-off toggle.

On the iPad, this physical switch is also programmable, allowing users to toggle between mute and lock-orientation functions.

And while most people agree Apple is on track to unveil not one, but two new iPhone models this year, Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair isn't convinced.

According to one of his recent research notes, his firm doesn’t believe Apple needs one.

"We don't expect a second, dramatically different iPhone to accompany (the iPhone 5) as we don't think Apple needs to have three models in the market to address the high end, mid-tier and low end since the iPhone 4 (with memory lowered to 8 GB) will drop to $99 and effectively attack those markets," Blair wrote last week.

His reasoning is that “A 4S would simply cost more and a 4S itself wouldn't create a mid-tier market unless it was priced at $99 and the iPhone 4 went to $49 with the new iPhone at $199. We see this scenario as unlikely.”

The analyst also doesn’t buy rumors of a major redesign for the iPhone 5, which contradicts the scenario implied by the aforementioned third-party iPhone cases.

"We believe the casing will be largely similar to the iPhone with some particular modifications to the antennae," Blair wrote.

AMD FX-8150 Performance Revealed, On-Par with Intel's Core i7 980X

With a bit more than two weeks to go until AMD releases its first FX-Series processors based on the Bulldozer architecture, a Turkish Website has published the media presentation deck for these chips, revealing the performance of the upcoming AMD FX-8150 when compared with Intel's current CPUs.

The press deck made public by Donanim Haber pits AMD's most powerful desktop Bulldozer processor against the Intel Core i7-980X and Core i7-2600K in a wide selection of tests.

These range from gaming to video encoding and rendering using popular applications such as WinRAR, Handbrake or POV Ray, to name just a few.

Judging by the results from AMD's presentation slides, gaming seems to be the strong point of the FX-Series, as it manages to come about even with the Core i7-980X, even edging past it in some DirectX 11 titles like Metro 2033.

In the applications tests, the AMD Bulldozer-based CPU manages to come out on top of the Core i7-2600K is compared with in only three of the eight benchmarks run, but even when it loses it manages to keep up pretty well with Intel's CPU.

Furthermore, AMD is quick to point out that the FX-8150 also comes with support for the FMA4 instruction (an extension to the 128-bit SIMD instructions set to perform fused multiply–add operations), which provide it with a huge performance boost in applications that make use of it.

The FX-8150 is AMD's most powerful desktop processor based on the Bulldozer architecture as it packs eight computing cores with a base clock speed of 3.6GHz and a maximum Turbo frequency of 4.2GHz as well as 8MB of fast Level 3 cache memory.

When it is officially released by AMD, on October 12, the CPU will hit retail with an MSRP of $245 US, or about 178 Euros, placing it right between the $216 Intel Core i5 2500K and the $317 Core i7 2600K.

Galaxy S II LTE and Galaxy S HD LTE Go to South Korea

South Korean mobile phone maker Samsung Electonics has just announced two new smartphones for its home land market, namely the Galaxy S II LTE and Galaxy S HD LTE. 

Both devices are expected to arrive on shelves in the country soon with 4G capabilities, as well as with large touchscreen displays and fast application processors. 

The Galaxy S II LTE was unveiled to the world at the IFA show in Berlin several weeks ago as an upgrade to the already popular Galaxy S II, while the Galaxy S HD LTE arrives on shelves as the first smartphone from the company to include an HD display. 

Galaxy S II LTE was packed with a large 4.5-inch WVGA Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen display, and with a dual-core application processor clocked in at 1.5GHz. 

It can deliver data transfer speeds of up to five times higher than what the Galaxy S II could offer. The handset also includes 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth, as well as TV-Out support via MHL, NFC, built-in GPS receiver, and a 1850mAh battery.

On the back, the new mobile phone sports an 8-megapixel photo snapper with support for full HD video recording. The Samsung Galaxy S II LTE is expected to arrive in South Korea on the airwaves of SK Telecom.

As for the Galaxy S II HD LTE, it is the first Samsung handset to bring to the market an HD display. The phone sports a 4.65-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen, capable of delivering a resolution of 1280×720 pixels.

The phone's specs list also shows support for LTE and HSPA+ and Rev. A connectivity capabilities, and features that are similar with those included with the Galaxy S II LTE. 

The new Samsung Galaxy S II HD LTE is expected to arrive on shelves in South Korea via all major carriers in the country, namely SK Telecom, KT and LG U+.

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