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Oct 12, 2011

AMD to Increase CPU Performance by 10-15% Every Year

Today's launch of the FX-Series processors hasn't been the success that everybody has hoped for and AMD knows that, so in the following years the company plans to improve the speed of the Bulldozer cores by 10 to 15 percent with each new generation that arrives.

This information was made public by AMD itself and the chip maker states that the performance increase will come from a series of improvements to the architecture's IPC, timing and frequencies.

Energy efficiency should also get better with each new core, which definitely seems like the right thing to do considering the high power consumption of the current FX-Series CPUs.

The first Bulldozer-derived core to get these new improvements is Piledriver, which is going to be used in the 2012 Trinity APUs and later in the 32nm successor of today’s Zambezi desktop incarnation.

According to AMD, the 10-15% performance increase in Piledriver will come from IPC improvements like structure size increases (about one third of the total performance), and power optimizations that reduce consumption.

The latter will enable AMD's Piledriver core to reach higher frequencies at a constant TDP.

Right after Piledriver, the next core to get this performance increase is called Steamroller and is expected to arrive in 2013, while 2014 will see the introduction of the Excavator core which should bring a similar performance hike.

AMD hasn't been specific about how it intends to reach its 10-15% goal with Steamroller and Excavator, but it sees the potential and is confident that the performance is there.

AMD has launched its first desktop processors based on the Bulldozer architecture earlier today, but despite all the publicity that surrounded the FX-Series performance isn't up to par as the chips lag behind Intel's Core i5-2500K is most benchmarks, while some tests even place them after the Phenom II X6 1100T. (via Tom's Hardware)

AMD Radeon HD 7900 GPUs Will Use Liquid Chamber Cooling

At the AMD Fusion 11 Taipei conference that took place at the beginning of this month, AMD has disclosed additional details about its next-generation Radeon HD 7000 series graphics cards, including the fact that high-end solutions will come with a new liquid chamber cooling solution.

AMD had on display such a cooler during the conference together with a slide that detailed the main differences between its cooling technology and the one utilized by its competitors in vapor chamber designs.

The technology is going to be used by all of AMD's partners who follow the reference design set by the chip maker for the Radeon HD 7900 series graphics cards.

As most of you know, AMD's upcoming Radeon HD 7000 graphics card series will be comprised of low- and mid-range solutions based on the VLIW4 architecture introduced with the Radeon HD 6900 GPU series as well as from high-end solutions in the HD 7900 range.

These will use the Next Generation Core (NGC) architecture that we have covered in a series of previous articles, so we are not going to get into this now, but the key aspect of NGC is that it will improve the performance and functionality of GPGPU computing.

According to Corporate VP & General Manager of AMD’s Graphics Division Matt Skynner, 28nm GPUs will start shipping later this year, while the first samples of mobile chips have already been released.

As far as the desktop parts are concerned, it seems like these won't be launched until the Q2 or Q3 of 2012, confirming our previous reports regarding the delay of this GPU series.

From the leaks that made it our way until now, we know that the entry-level and mid-range Radeon HD 7000 GPUs will be known by the code name of Thames and Lombok, while the NCG HD 7900 series will use the Tahiti designation. (via WCCFTech)

Intel X79 Is 50% More Expensive than the Z68, Brings Almost No New Features

The pricing of Intel's X79 chipset for the LGA 2011 motherboards has been uncovered, and although this doesn't bring almost any new features when compared with the Z68 it does come with a 50% higher price tag.

When motherboard makers buy the X79 PCH from Intel they have to shell out $73 (€53) from their pocket, according to Fudzilla, compared with the $48 (€34.8) Intel asks for the Z68.

Despite this huge increase in price, the X79 doesn't bring any new features when compared with its LGA 1155 counterpart as Intel has moved most of the hardware logic that was traditionally found in the chipset inside its Sandy Bridge-E processors.

This includes the quad-channel memory controller and the PCI Express controller, which makes the X79 a simple PCH chip that has to support only the storage devices and four additional PCIe lanes.

Initially, the X79 Express was supposed to include no less than 10 SATA 6Gbps with support for SAS drives as well as an additional PCI-Express 2.0 x4 link that directly connected the CPU to the storage subsystem, but these features have been dropped since Intel has been experiencing all sort of issues with its design.

As a result, the X79 gets just dual SATA 6Gbps ports and four SATA 3Gbps, without having any support for SAS drives as initially promised.

These features are just what the Z68 can provide, but the LGA 1155 chipset does also bring support for SSD caching through the Intel Smart Response Technology (SRT) and an FDI link for Sandy Bridge integrated graphics, all for $25 (€18) less.

Furthermore, if we were to compare the X79 with the now discontinued X58 that was sold for $20 (€15) less, we would come to see that the previous LGA 1366 chipset, which is comprised of not only an I/O hub but also includes the ICH10R southbridge, is definitely a much more complex to manufacture part, but I guess this is what happens where no competition is in sight.

Nokia 800 Spotted in Leaked Poster in India

It should not be too long before Nokia unveiled to the world their first smartphones running under Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system, and some more proof that one of the first such handsets will be called Nokia 800 has just emerged. 

The smartphone was spotted into the wild before, being presented to the world a few months ago as the Nokia SeaRay, and is expected to make it to shelves in the next several weeks. 

Recently, the upcoming mobile phone made it in a series of leaked ads, one of which even suggested that it might be called Nokia 800, and a new shot of promo materials for the new device has just made an appearance. 

We're referring here to an image of a Nokia 800 banner from Airtel, which should be the carrier of choice for the handset. 

Airtel and Nokia have a long history together, Symbian Tweet notes, and it does not come too much as a surprise that the two will bring the handset to shelves in India. 

As previously rumored, the first Nokia Windows Phone (Nokia 800) might be released in the country only sometime in the first quarter of the next year, so users in India will still have a while to wait before something is announced on the matter. 

The Nokia 800, also known as SeaRay and recently leaked as Nokia Sun, is expected to hit the shelves with a 1.4GHz application processor inside, while sporting a 3.7-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen display.

The handset will arrive on shelves with 16GB of internal memory, as well as with WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity capabilities, and support for 3G networks. 

On the back, the new mobile phone is said to sport an 8-megapixel photo snapper, with support for HD video recording. It might also feature a secondary camera on the front, great for video calling. Rumor has it that it will reach shelves starting with the next month.

Text Writing on Nokia N9 Explained on Video

Nokia N9, the first smartphoene from the Finnish handset vendor to arrive on the market with the MeeGo operating system on board, features an all-touch design, which means that there are no hardware keys on its front. 

This means that all the typing will have to be made using the handset's 3.9-inch AMOLED screen, which might prove difficult in some cases. 

However, there are a few tips that could ease the typing on the Nokia N9's screen, as you can learn from the video attached to this piece. The soft keyboard on N9 might not be Swype, but it will still enable fast typing if used properly. 

Those who are not accustomed with typing on the screen of mobile phones will certainly find the said tips very welcomed, though others will also be able to appreciate them.

Asus Starts Selling 18-Inch Notebook with Desktop HDD Support

Asus has just started selling another desktop replacement notebook in Europe, the X93SV, which is built around an Full HD 18.4-inch display and was designed to support 3.5-inch desktop hard drives.

Under the bonnet, the X93SV sports some serious horsepower as its based on Intel's second generation Core processors, also known by the code name of Sandy Bridge.

Users have the option of choosing between three such chips, the Core i3-2310M, Core i5-2410M and Core i7-2670QM, the latter of which includes four processing cores working at a base frequency of 2.2GHz.

The fast Intel processors can be seconded by up to 16GB of DDR3 system memory (four SODIMM sockets are available) and by a discrete Nvidia GeForce GT 540M graphics card.

This comes equipped with 1GB of DDR3 video buffer memory, while its 96 CUDA cores are clocked at 1344MHz.

Despite the powerful configuration, the most distinctive feature of the X93SV is its support for desktop-sized 3.5-inch hard drives. The notebook can also be fitted with a second 2.5-inch unit, but the 3.5-inch HDD will act as the system's master drive, according to Asus' documentation.

In the configuration available right now for purchase in Europe, the primary 3.5-inch hard drive provides 1TB of storage capacity, while the smaller 2.5-inch HDD delivers an additional 750GB.

Outside of this features, the rest of the specifications list is pretty much standard as Asus' desktop replacement includes a 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth V3.0 connectivity, Altec Lansing speakers, a 3-in-1 card reader, 0.3MP webcam and an HDMI video output.

USB 3.0 support is also part of the package, one such port being made available by Asus, and the notebook can be configured to feature a Blu-ray optical drive.

The 18.4-inch screen sports a native Full HD resolution, and the whole notebook, including the 6-cell battery, weights roughly 4.11Kg (about 9 pounds). Pricing for the Asus notebook has been set at €1149 ($1582 US). (via Laptop Spirit)

Asus UX21 and UX31 Zenbook to Reach Europe in November

Recently launched by the notebook maker in the US, Asus UX21 and UX31 Ultrabooks won't become available in Europe until November of this year and their starting price will be set at 999 Euros.

In the US, Asus has said that its two Ultrabooks will reach retail today, but a quick Google search and e-tailer scan hasn't managed to find any of these notebooks on sale.

The main difference between the UX21 and UX31 ZenBook is the diagonal of the screen used, as the first one carries a 12.1-inch display while the latter is slightly larger measuring 13.3-inch (1600x900 resolution).

Despite this difference, both designs use a thin and light anodized aluminum uni-body chassis that measures no more than 17mm at its thickest point, with an all-aluminum keyboard and glass touchpad, which were designed to accentuate the style of the unit.

At the heart of both of these laptops stand ULV Intel Core processors from the i5 and i7 ranges, which can be paired with 128GB or 256GB solid state drives, stereo speakers with Bang and Olufsen's ICEpower technology, and various connectivity options including Bluetooth, WiFi and USB 3.0.

In addition to the powerful hardware, Asus' Ultrabooks are also tweaked to resume from a sleep state in less than two seconds.

Battery run time is estimated at five hours for the Zenbook UX21, while its older brother can go up to seven hours without requiring a recharge.

Just like in the US, Asus European customers will have five Zenbook models to choose from, two UX21 and three UX31, with prices starting at 999 Euros (in US the cheapest Zenbook is priced at $999).

What's interesting to note is that in Europe both the UX21-KX400V and the UX31E-RY009V can be had for 999 Euros, while in the US users have to pay $100 extra for the UX31. (via Ultrabook News)

AMD Bulldozer Is Finally Here, but Performance Disappoints

After what can only be described as a long wait, AMD has now finally launched the first FX-Series processors built using its Bulldozer architecture, but despite the high expectations the chips mostly disappoint as they are only marginally faster than previous Phenom II X6 CPUs.

The Bulldozer architecture AMD's FX-Series is based upon is a major departure from all of the company's previous cores, and at its heart stands the Bulldozer module.

Each such module features two integer cores and a shared floating point core paired together with individual L1 cache, a shared L2 cache and a common front end.

The latter includes the fetch and decode logic that is shared by the two integer cores and each module is now capable to fetch and decode up to four x86 instructions from a single thread in parallel.

Architectural improvements were brought by AMD also to the branch predictor, which is now significantly decoupled from the processor's front end, the scheduling and execution units as well as to the integer and floating-point cores, the latter gaining support for a series of new instructions like AVX and FMA4.

AMD uses this new architecture in all of its new FX-Series processors, which includes seven FX-Series processors.

Right now however, AMD has released only four CPUs, the FX-8150, 8120, 6100 and 4100, the first two including four Bulldozer modules for a total of eight cores, while the latter come with six and four cores, respectively.

The clock speeds of the chips launched today range between 3.1GHz and 3.6GHz, all carry 8MB of shared L3 cache and support AMD's Turbo Core 2.0 technology that can automatically raise the operating frequencies depending on the task run and the number of cores loaded.

The sad news however is that despite all the improvements that AMD brought to the Bulldozer architecture, the company's flagship CPU, the FX-8150, lags in most benchmarks Intel's Core i5-2500K, while a few tests even shows it coming behind the Phenom II X6 1100T.

Energy efficiency also isn't a strong point for Bulldozer as both idle and load power measurements show it coming behind Intel's counterparts.

AMD has set the pricing for the AMD FX-8150 at $245 (180 Euros), while the three other processors, the FX-8120, FX-6100 and FX-4100 retail for $205, $165, and $115 (150, 121, 84.5Euro), respectively.

Motorola DROID HD (Droid RAZR) Emerges in Leaked Shots

Mobile phone maker Motorola Mobility is getting ready for the release of new handsets running under Google's Android operating system, and the Motorola DROID HD might be one of them. 

The handset has been spotted into the wild a few times before, and was also seen as the Droid RAZR or the Spyder. 

Now, the handset has made an appearance into the wild in a series of leaked shots, available courtesy of Engadget, which confirm the fact that it will become available on Verizon. 

Moreover, the mobile phone can be seen in those photos with the 4G LTE logo next to Verizon Wireless' logo, which should confirm the fact that it will be released at Big Red with support for the carrier's 4G network. 

The new device is expected to be added to the operator's lineup of high-end smartphones running under Google's Anndroid operating system. 

It is said to pack a large 4.3-inch touchscreen display, a Super AMOLED panel that can deliver a qHD resolution, as well as with a dual-core application processor inside, capable of increased levels of performance. 

The Motorola DROID HD was also rumored to arrive on Verizon's shelves with an 8-megapixel photo snapper on the back, capable of 1080p video recording.

The rest of the hardware specifications that the next high-end smartphone from Motorola would include should be in line with those that were packed inside the Motorola ATRIX 2 handset that went official for AT&T only yesterday. 

Regardless the name it will sport, the new mobile phone from Motorola should be capable of providing users with a great experience, it seems. 

The new device will run under Google's Android 2.3 Gingerbread platform when released, though it will certainly get a taste of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich after the platform is made official. 

Neither Motorola nor Verizon made a formal announcement on the new handset, but it might not be too long before they make the move, so stay tuned.

BlackBerry Network Outage Hits Day 3 - 10/12/2011

Starting Monday when BlackBerry owners were unable to access their emails, BBM services or any other application that requires data connectivity, the BlackBerry network started goind down and up in most regions of the world. 

Even though at first the outage affected only Europe, Middle East and Africa, as of yesterday it expanded to South America, Canada and the small parts of the United States.

Services were temporarily restored in some countries on October 11, but then BlackBerry services have started to drop in countries that were not affected initially.

I reached out to RIM for official statements regarding the outage but at first their replies were little more than apologies and, later on, confirmations that its services were fully restored in the EMEA region. However, as the problems persisted, I received a third message which was a bit more enlightening:

"The messaging and browsing delays being experienced by BlackBerry users in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Brazil, Chile and Argentina were caused by a core switch failure within RIM’s infrastructure.Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested. As a result, a large backlog of data was generated and we are now working to clear that backlog and restore normal service as quickly as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience and we will continue to keep you informed." 

If you're affected, let us know in the comments and make sure you state your location.

UPDATE: Oct 12 at 4AM UTC - BlackBerry network still down: BBM and apps not working, only a handful of emails arriving with great delay. It is also completely down in territories where it was previously working intermintently.

UPDATE 2: Oct 12 at 6AM UTC - increasing number of outage reports coming from Canada indicate that RIM is still struggling to fix the underlying issue.

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