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Oct 9, 2011

Mac OS X 10.7.2 Lion May be Released Tomorrow

Citing reliable connections, a Japanese source that has been previously accurate in dishing out Apple rumors is now reporting that Mac OS X 10.7.2 will arrive ahead of the iCloud launch, as well as before iOS 5.

Suggesting that the second incremental update to Lion may arrive as early as tomorrow, Japanese blog Macotakara says both OS X 10.7.2 and iTunes 10.5 will be released before iOS 5.

Apple has scheduled the launch of its latest iOS version for October 12. iCloud is set to debut publicly on the same day.

While there is no confirmation from Cupertino that Mac OS X 10.7.2 will be a system requirement to use all or certain iCloud features, developers have been tasked with testing both, extensively, and in tandem. iOS 5 will be heavily integrated with iCloud as well.


Boost Mobile Puts Samsung Transform Ultra up for Sale

Mobile phone carrier Boost Mobile has just made available for purchase on its airwaves a new highly appealing device, namely the Samsung Transform Ultra.

The new mobile phone arrived on shelves as the first handset on the carrier's offering to run under the new Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system. 

The new Samsung Transform Ultra went available at the wireless carrier with a price tag of $229.99 (around 171 EUR) attached to it, contract free. 

However, users who would like to enjoy the capabilities of this device on Boost Mobile's airwaves will have to choose either the Android Monthly Unlimited pre-paid plan from the carrier, or the Daily Unlimited offering. 

The new device comes with appealing features packed inside, all at a quite affordable price tag. 

For example, it packs a 3.2-inch touchscreen display, which is complemented by a side-sliding QWERTY keyboard. 

Not to mention that the new mobile phone is powered by a 1 GHz application processor, which means that it should be capable of offering great performance capabilities to its users. 

On the back, the new device packs a 3-megapixel photo snapper, which offers support for video calling, complemented by a secondary camera on the front, with support for video calling. 

The specifications list of the new handset also shows WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity capabilities, as well as built-in GPS receiver. 

Samsung Transform Ultra also comes with a microSD memory card slot, so that users can expand the available storage space by up to 32GB. 

All users who are looking for a mobile phone that can easily do its job and which won't require breaking the back can easily choose the new Transform Ultra from Boost Mobile, especially since it is available at the said price tag without the need to commit to a contract agreement. 

The new Samsung Transform Ultra is available for purchase via Boost Mobile's website here.


Intel Sandy Bridge-E Boards Have Problems with Large CPU Coolers

The new quad-channel memory support introduced by Intel in the high-performance Sandy Bridge-E processors seems to cause quite a bit of problems to motherboard makers who are left wondering how to include support for large CPU coolers without giving up on features.

When Intel set out to develop the Sandy Bridge-E architecture, one of the most important improvements it wanted to bring with these chips was the support for higher memory bandwidths.

In order to achieve this, the chip maker settled on increasing the number of memory channels the processors can support and decided to use a quad-channel configuration.

In theory this should be able to provide 33% more bandwidth than the tri-channel memory controller used in the Nehalem core, but the addition of a fourth memory channel wasn't as easy as most of us thought.

The most important obstacle faced by Intel in its path was the need to optimize the traces on the motherboard in order to keep the latency consistent between the four DIMMs installed.

This required for all the DIMM sockets installed to be placed at about the same distance from the CPU socket, which led to a drastic redesign of the motherboard component placing.

I'm sure that by now you all have seen an X79 board and know all about the layout employed, but what most haven't found out is that this placement appears to cause all sort of problems with large CPU coolers.

Mos of these were designed to be used with motherboards having memory installed on just one side of the CPU socket, so fitting such coolers on LGA 2011 boards is quite an adventure, reports SweClockers.

Furthermore, the problem is not limited to just one motherboard manufacturer, but seems to affect pretty much all the LGA 2011 boards that were designed until now.

How big of an issue this is actually going to be is still uncertain at this point in time, as most of the info regarding Sandy Bridge-E and the LGA 2011 platform is still under NDA, but users are definitely to take a lot of care when choosing their components for such as system.

We will keep you up to date on how things evolve from this point on, although early adopters are advised to go with water cooling as this is guaranteed to cause the least amount of trouble.


Nokia 603 Emerges with Symbian Belle

Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia is gearing up for the release of its first devices based on Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system, but it seems that they did not forget about Symbian fans either, and that a new handset based on this platform will soon arrive on shelves, namely Nokia 603.

The upcoming mobile phone is unofficial at the moment, but its specifications have already leaked into the wild accompanied by a series of photos with it.

The handset was spotted into the wild before, via User Agent Header file and FCC documents, and the guys over at symbiantweet have just come up with the said images and specs of it, courtesy of an anonymous tipster, it seems. 

In the image to the left, meant to promote the device, you can see the new Nokia 603 showing off the six homescreens that Symbian Belle comes with. 

As for the specifications that the new device is set to arrive on shelves with, we can start the count with a fast 1GHz application processor, an ARM 11 CPU. 

Moreover, the new device should pack a 360×640 pixel touchscreen display of unknown size, along with a 5-megapixel photo snapper on the back. 

Other specs of the new device would include support Micro SIM, WLAN b/g/n and Bluetooth capabilities, GPRS / EDGE / WCDMA / HSDPA connectivity, and interchangeable covers. 

The handset will run under the new Symbian Belle operating system, and will also pack the Nokia Browser 7.4 inside, it seems. 

All in all, the new handset does not seem to be a high-end smartphone, but capable of offering appealing features to all users. 

Nokia promised that mode Symbian devices will be released in the next few years, but we're not expecting any breath-taking phones to run under the old platform, that's for sure. 

What remains to be seen, however, is what price tag it will feature when brought to shelves, and when it will actually become available for purchase.



RAMorexic Windows 8 Runs on 64MB of Memory

Cutting down the overall runtime memory requirements of the core system was one of the key engineering tenets of building Windows 8, according to Steven Sinofsky, President, Windows and Windows Live Division.

As such, not only is Windows 8 tailored to the same system requirements as Windows 7, but it’s also sporting a consistent collection of memory usage optimizations set up to boost responsiveness on a range of devices, including those equipped with SoC architectures, get concurrent applications running smoothly, and even prolong battery life by minimizing energy consumption. 

“We made hundreds of specific changes to minimize OS memory use in Windows 8,” revealed Bill Karagounis, the group program manager of the Performance team. 

I had planned to write an entirely different piece today, but after seeing the latest B8 blog post, I had to do an uncomplicated test focused on running Windows 8 in a RAM-deprived scenario. 

The goal of the test was fairly simple, get Windows 8 to boot and run sufficiently to take a screenshot of Task Manager revealing an amount of random access memory in use inferior to the recommended amount required to run Windows XP, but even as low as the absolute minimum. 

Windows 8 requires at least 1GB RAM for the 32-bit (x86) version and 2GB RAM for the 64-bit (x64) flavor - I used a x86 copy of Windows 8 Developer Preview Build 8102 Milestone 3 (M3). The software giant reveals that XP needs “at least 64  
megabytes (MB) of RAM (128 MB is recommended).” But first thing’s  
first…

Windows 8 memory optimizations

“Windows 8 has a better scheme for the prioritization of memory allocations made by applications and system components. This means that Windows can make better decisions about what memory to keep around and what memory to remove sooner,” Karagounis explained.

What the granular prioritization of memory does is that it allows Windows 8 to grab resources from running apps and re-allocate them without impacting responsiveness. This is made possible through enabling programs to allocate memory as low priority, which tells the OS that it can be used for more stringent needs, if they come about. 

Another example of RAM usage optimization is related to resolving the issue of duplicate content through memory combining. Windows 8 combines redundant copies of memory for certain apps, freeing up RAM.

“Memory combining is a technique in which Windows efficiently assesses the content of system RAM during normal activity and locates duplicate content across all system memory. Windows will then free up duplicates and keep a single copy,” Karagounis said. 

“If the application tries to write to the memory in future, Windows will give it a private copy. All of this happens under the covers in the memory manager, with no impact on applications. This approach can liberate 10s to 100s of MBs of memory (depending on how many applications are running concurrently).”

Another way that Windows 8 reduces memory usage is by consolidating frequently accessed portions of RAM. As much as tens of MB can be freed up on an average computer just because the next major iteration of Windows does a better job at re-consolidating memory that’s referenced less frequently, providing additional RAM resources to other programs that might need them.

Optimizations were also made at service-level, the Redmond company explained. 13 services in Windows 8 that were running all the time were removed, and additional services transitioned to manual start, while others will only start on demand. 

The fact that the desktop only loads if users actually need to use it or one of the non-Metro programs also helps free memory. 

“From a memory perspective, we’ve taken advantage of the fact that there will be some set of devices on which users will stay in the immersive, Metro style UI almost all the time. In this instance, Windows 8 will only initialize OS components unique to the desktop environment when necessary. This is another source of memory savings, approximately 23MB right now,” Karagounis added. 

Windows 8 on 128MB RAM

Yes, it works. Rather well actually. The Windows 8 virtual machine booted fast, and the preliminary stages of the platform, the lock screen and sign-in also succeeded one another rapidly. Swapping the Start Screen with the desktop and vice versa represented a seamless transition, and launching Task Manager took only a few seconds. 

I'd say that Windows 8 on 128MB of memory is barely usable, especially since I was even able to run Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) Platform Preview 3. PP3 ships exclusively with the Windows Developer Preview. However, I wasn't able to run Metro apps, at all, try as I might. 

You have to be kidding me! 

And then I thought to myself, "just what if?" and had to try getting the amount of memory reduced even further. So I did just that. With the Windows 8 virtual machine powered down, I halved the RAM down from 128MB and then launched the OS. 

Much to my surprise, it managed to get to the lock screen in record time. Windows 8 boots amazingly fast even on an abysmal 64MB of memory. So far so good, especially considering that I wasn't even expecting the operating system to start at all. 

I slid the lock screen out of the way and entered my password. The next stage took a bit of patience on my behalf. But since Windows 8 did not appear to crash or to stop responding, I stuck by it. 

Approximately 10 minutes later I got to the Start Screen full of beautiful tiles for Metro apps. As expected, Windows 8 was not exactly usable at just 64MB RAM. But then again, you can't take out half the engine of a car, put bike pedals in, and expect it to run under normal parameters. 

The fact that it was running was nothing short of a memory optimization miracle. And I knew I was stretching it pretty thin, but I just had to launch the desktop. I figured you guys needed some sort of proof that Windows 8 was indeed running on 64MB RAM, and what better example than a screenshot of Task Manager?

Again, much to my surprise, the Windows 8 desktop launched quite fast. And again, this was extremely hard to believe when considering that all it has at its disposal are 64MB RAM. Launching Task Manager took some time, I won't lie. But once it was up and running, the tool was surprisingly responsive. Jumps between Task Manager tabs were performed rapidly and without any issues. 

Check the screenshots accompanying this article in order to see that Windows 8 Developer Preview Build 8102 M3 is indeed running inside a virtual machine with just 64MB of memory allocated to it. 

Just to make it clear, Windows 8 on 64MB RAM is not even close to barely usable, but the fact that it does run is enough to make such an experiment worthwhile. Still...
















Windows 8 is RAMorexic. The level of memory usage optimization is amazing, just as is the minimum amount of RAM that Windows 8 is capable of running on.

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

RIM's QNX-Based OS to Be Called BBX

A new interesting rumor regarding Research In Motion's plans of the future has just emerged, suggesting that the company might be set to call its upcoming QNX-based operating system BBX. 

For those out of the loop, we should note that the Canadian mobile phone maker has already announced plans to move away for the current BlackBerry OS, and to adopt a platform that will be based on the QNX software, which is already powering the BlackBerry PlayBook. 

The new mobile operating system should be loaded on new, more powerful smartphones, but RIM did not offer specific info on what these devices are all about until now.

However, a recently leaked slide from a QNX event shows that the name under which the new mobile platform could be unveiled to the world might be BBX, CrackBerry reports.

Nothing is confirmed on the matter for the time being, but it might not come too much as a surprise if things were indeed this way. 

However, the one thing that is uncertain at the moment is what the X in BBX would stand for. After all, the BB part is already familiar to users. 

As stated above, there are no too many details available on the devices that will come with the new OS version on board, although some of the previous rumors on the matter suggested that the first such handset might be called BlackBerry Colt. 

The handset might pack a dual-core application processor inside, the same as other QNX-based handsets from the company would. 

Apparently, the platform is resources hungry, and the handset vendor had to consider dual-core designs so as to make sure that users will benefit from a great mobile experience.

RIM is certainly in need of a solution that will help it increase sales and gain more ground in its battle against the Apple iOS, Google's Android and now Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system.



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