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Oct 13, 2011

AMD Llano APUs Still in Short Supply

AMD seems to have troubles with the availability of its A-Series APUs based on the Llano architecture as some of these 32nm chips are hard to find in stock at most online or brick and mortar retailers leading us to believe that Globalfoundries' 32nm fabrication issues are to blame.

The chips that are hardest to come by are the A6-3600 and A8-3800, since Fudzilla reports these aren't available in stores across Europe.

The situation is similar in the US, where the A6-3600 and A8-3800 aren't listed by any of the major retailers, although the rest of the Llano APUs in AMD's A-Series lineup are easy to find.

Compared to the rest of the Llano chips released by AMD, the A6-3600 and A8-3800 are a bit special since both parts feature quad processing cores, Turbo Core support and have a TDP of just 65W.

The low TDP of the APUs could be an explanation for their low availability, as such parts are usually required to go through a much more strict binning process, which puts a lot of pressure on Globalfoundries ability to mass produce 32nm chips.

We first heard about AMD's troubles with the foundry at the end of September when Thomas Seifert, CFO and former interim CEO of AMD, said the outfit he makes part of is disappointed with the 32nm production performance achieved by Globalfoundries.

Since then, we have seen AMD having to adjust its projections for Q3 revenue in order to make up for the poor yields achieved in the production of the Llano APUs.

These yield issues also led AMD to revise its chip fabrication deal with Globalfoundries in April of this year. 

The new deal allowed the Sunnyvale-based company to pay only for the working 32nm chips the foundry produced, compared to the previous contract that required it to pay for every wafer manufactured (no matter the percent of non-working chips).

The troubles faced by Globalfoundries have also affected its 45nm production node, as both fabrication processes use a series of common tools.


Zalman CNPS12X Is A High-End CPU Cooler

We first laid our eyes on the Zalman CNPS12X in June of this year during the Computex fair, and after all this wait, the Korean company has decided to go ahead and make this new high-performance CPU cooler official. 

This latest Zalman creation resembles a great deal previous solutions built by the company using well known omega-shaped design that was extremely popular before the arrival of tower-type CPU heatsinks.

On a closer inspection however, one notices that the CNPS12X is actually a double-tower type heatsink, with as series of ring-like aluminum fin stacks attached to it to resemble Zalman's old-school coolers.

Six direct contact heatpipes are embedded into the base and draw the heat away from the CPU heatspreader and into the aluminum heatsink.

These provide a total air contact area of 9.6 sqaure meters and are cooled by no less than three 120mm fans based on a Zalman design, making the CNPS12X weight no less than 1kg (2.2 pounds).

In their default operating mode, the fans work at speeds between 850 and 1100 RPM, and produce 22 dBA of noise.

Those who require more performance from the Zalman cooler can put the fans into a special high-speed mode that increases the RPM to speeds between 950 and 1200, but also the noise level to 24 dBA.

Zalman CNPS12X is comptible with the current AMD AM2, AM3, AM3+, FM1 sockets as well as with Intel's LGA 775, 1366, 1156/1155 CPUs, and will also work with the upcoming LGA 2011 motherboards for Sandy Bridge-E processors.

The Korean company hasn't made any official information available regarding the pricing of the CNPS12X. We also don't know when the CPU cooler is expected to make its way into retail. (via TechPowerUp)



Mp3-Powered ATM Skimmer Sold for Only $1,500 (€1,000)

ATM skimmer creators make good use of any technology they can lay their hands on. The latest innovations brings forth a type of device that embeds a simple MP3 player to record the data obtained from the credit cards of unsuspecting bank customers.

In his journeys in the criminal underground, Brian Krebs discovered the machinery, which as mentioned, can be purchased for a mere $1,500 (€1,000). The skimmer is advertised as being easy to install, the seller offering full technical support, but there is however a catch to the whole thing.

A fine print on the bottom of the page where the malicious apparatus is commercialized, reveals that in order to decrypt the audio data recorded by the MP3 player that powers the fake ATM, a third party software is needed that can be purchased from a partner. This collaborator requires 20% of all the card numbers and PINs obtained by the device.

“Using audio to capture credit and debit card data is not a new technique, but it is becoming vogue,” Krebs says.

The skimmer itself is made to be fit perfectly on a Diebold Opteva 760 ATM, but the name of the model shouldn't scare you, as this is one of the most popular models. 

So how does it work?

When a credit card is placed near the magnetic reader, the MP3 player automatically records the data stored on the magnetic stripe and converts it to an audio file. This file will have to be decoded by the partner in order to get the valuable information. The bank account stealing machine also comes with a tiny video camera that records the PIN number as it is typed on the numeric keypad of the ATM.

Because it's fairly hard to detect such a malicious contraption that's placed on an automated teller machine, you must be extra careful when performing transactions. Lately I've seen all sorts of seals placed on the front-side of these devices so make sure to look for them before rushing to insert the card.

Back side of MP3 ATM Skimmer

Corsair Outs Quad-Channel 32GB Dominator GT Kit For LGA 2011 Boards

Corsair just announced that it has expanded its range of Dominator GT products with the introduction of a new memory kit that features 32GB in capacity and is designed to be used with Intel's upcoming LGA 2011 processors based on the Sandy Bridge-E architecture. 

The Dominator 32GB Quad Channel kit consists of four 8GB DDR3 DRAM modules that underwent a rigorous screening process.

This was designed to make sure that the DDR3 sticks can operate at frequencies as high as 1866MHz with 9-10-9-27 C9 timing at voltages no greater than JEDEC standard for DDR3, namely 1.5V. 

Just as the rest of the Corsair's Dominator GTX DDR3 memory modules, the newly announced products also use a proprietary DHX+ heatsink.

This sports a custom design that cools both the front and the rear of the memory ICs as well as the PCB, while, the heatsink's cooling fins can be removed in order to allow the installation of the Corsair AirFlow 2 GTL Cooling Fan.

In addition to being compatible with quad-channel motherboards built using the Intel X79 chipset, Corsair's latest memory kit can also work with Sandy Bridge dual-channel boards as well as with any other CPUs that can support 32GB of DDR3 RAM.

"The new Dominator 32GB Quad Channel memory kit is designed for high-performance PC enthusiasts using the latest motherboards, whether they're overclockers, gamers, or simply want a large amount of state-of-the-art memory," said Thi La, Vice President of Memory Products at Corsair. 

"Corsair is a market leader in high-performance memory, and we're pleased to be first to market with a high-performance 32GB quad channel kit," concluded the company's VP.

The Dominator 32GB Quad Channel kit (part number CMT32GX3M4X1866C9) will be available later in October with a recommended price tag of $999 (about 727 Euros).


iOS 5 Error 3200 [Update - Fix Available]

Apple appears to be having some trouble sending the iOS 5 bits over to some customers’ computers as they attempt to update to the latest version of the mobile operating system.

The Internet is abuzz with complaints that iTunes is popping up an error dialog with the message “An internal error occurred (3200)” and Apple is failing to explain what the error is all about.

Some are seeing messages related to internal errors 3002 or Error 3004, as Sophos’ Graham Cluley notes.

The software security specialist appropriately points out that there is no real reason to be one of the first to update to a new OS if you’re concerned about security.

“And let's not forget, if there's an error 3200 you have to assume that there's at least another 3199 error messages waiting to show their face to some poor users at some point in the future,” Cluley writes.

Update: apparently, there's a fix available for those who encountered these errors.


Apple Gets Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 Tablet Banned in Australia

Samsung's tablet had already been delayed in Australia, for legal reasons invoked by Apple, and the court has finally reached a temporary decision, not at all fortuitous for the former. 

People may have thought that Samsung had a good chance of scoring big on the tablet market when it created the Galaxy tab 10.1. 

Apple probably felt the same, because it immediately sued the company for patent infringement, first in Australia and then in Europe. 

Samsung had only delayed the sales of the Tab 10.1 in Australia and even approached Apple for a quick settlement outside the courts. 

Apple rejected it quite swiftly, hoping for a victory which, apparently, it got, according to this report

The Australian Federal Court basically granted a temporary injunction against the launch and sale of the Galaxy Tab 10.1. 

The Judge, Annabelle Bennett, ruled that the slate does, indeed, infringe two of Apple's patents (alas, the patent system shows its fangs again). 

The court even offered to expedite the final hearing, but Samsung declined, saying that it needs time to “prepare a proper defense against Apple's case” as the report put it. 

The speeding up of the final proceedings may have been a way to act in Samsung's benefit, since winning there would mean the lifting of this injunction in time for the holiday season. 

After all, since the Galaxy Tab 10.1 was already pushed back for months, having it on sale during the holiday shopping sprees would have done it good. 

As it is, though, the Tab 10.1 has been banned in Australia, something that doesn't set a favorable precedent for its maker if (more like when) Apple takes the issue to South Korean and US judges as well. 

The fact that the tablet is also banned in Germany definitely doesn't paint a pretty picture for Samsung either.


AMD FX-Series CPUs Arrive in iBuyPower's Gaming Desktops

Just a day has passed since AMD introduced its FX-Series processors and PC vendors have already started to use these chips inside their gaming systems, the latest of which being iBuyPower who just announced the introduction of three new systems built around six- and eight-core Bulldozer CPUs.

The most powerful of the systems announced today is the Gamer Mage D355 that is built around an AMD FX-8150 processor, paired with 8GB of system memory and with an AMD Radeon 6950 2GB graphics card.

All of these are packed together in an NZXT Guardian 921 gaming case with a 40GB SSD, a 2TB hard drive, a LG Blu-Ray reader/DVD Burner drive and an 800W power supply. The system retails for $1,219 (913 Euros).  

The next system introduced by iBuyPower, the Gamer Mage D295, is also built around an eight-core AMD FX processors, this time the FX-8120, packed with 8GB of DDR3 memory and a Radeon HD 6870 graphics card.

In addition of going with a slower processor, iBuyPower also removed the SSD used in the D355 and went with a PSU of 700W, but otherwise the rest of the specs are similar.

Finally, the last desktop system announced by iBuyPower is the Gamer Mage D415 which sports a liquid cooled AMD FX-6100 processor, 4GB of DDR3 memory, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 550 Ti graphics card, a 700W power supply, a 1TB hard drive, all loaded into NZXT Source 210 gaming case.

Pricing for the Gamer Mage D295 and the Gamer Mage D415 is set at $989 and $759 (740 and 568 Euros) respectively, AND customers can also choose to customize the systems according to their wishes.

All the desktops announced today were rated by iBuyPower's Optimal Game Settings program which has found these to work with image quality set on high in games like CoD Black Ops and Starcraft II, “Ultra” settings on Battlefield 2 and Crysis 2, and “Max” in several titles like Modern Warfare II.


Download iOS 5, Mac OS X 10.7.2 Lion

Apple has finally released the latest OS versions for iPhone and Mac users worldwide, delivering cross-platform support for iCloud, and tons of new features and enhancements.

Just to note a few of the noteworthy additions in iOS 5, Apple has introduced a new Notifications system, iMessage, Newsstand, Reminders for managing to-do lists, built-in support for Twitter, a new split keyboard, iTunes Match, Safari Reader and more.

Mac OS X 10.7.2 is recommended for all OS X Lion users as it includes general operating system fixeurity. The update as that improve stability, compatibility, and seclso delivers iCloud support.

The latest Lion update also includes Safari 5.1.1, and several bug fixes and enhancements, all of which are documented on Apple’s Support Downloads section and via the built-in Software Update in Mac OS X.



Download iOS 5 for iPhone / iPad (Free)

Download Mac OS X 10.7.2 Lion (Free)

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