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Oct 31, 2011

Symbian Anna Arrives on N8, C7 and E7 in Australia

Australian owners of a Nokia N8, C7 or E7 smartphone can now download and install a new OS flavor on their devices, none other than the Symbian Anna platform that was made official a few months ago. 

The new OS version is available for all unlocked models in Australia, as well as for those devices on the airwaves of Vodafone, 3 and Optus.

“In case you didn’t get it via other channels already: We’ve now published Symbian Anna for Australia this morning. All customers on unbranded as well as Vodafone, 3 and Optus variants can now update. Telstra unfortunately is not available yet as we are still waiting for their approval,” Nokia announced.

Vodafone already went official with the availability of the new OS flavor, and even provided users with details on what they need to do to install the platform on their devices.

“The Symbian Anna software update is for a three Nokia handsets – the N8-00, C7-00, and E7-00. It will fix bugs as well as bring a range of new features and enhancements to these handsets,” Vodafone explains.

The wireless carrier also notes that those who would like to download the new OS version will be able to do so either over the air, installing it directly on the mobile phone, or can download and install it via the Ovi suite on their desktop PCs.

The new software weighs in at around 25.6MB, which means that users will need a fast 3G or WiFi connection when downloading over the air.

They will need to make sure the battery inside the phone is fully charged, and then hit Menu > Applications > SW Update, and select the desired update.

Those who will download and install the OS flavor via Nokia Ovi Suite will need to have the app installed on their computers, plug-in the handset, then search for the update.

Before proceeding, it is recommended to backup all data on the mobile phone, so as to make sure that no important files are lost during the installation process.

The release notes for the new update include: 

  • New user interface
  • New Iconography
  • Portrait QWERTY
  • Split-screen text input
  • Clean new look, superior page visibility
  • Improved page load speeds
  • Browse multiple sites simultaneously
  • Flash Support
  • Create & Accept/Reject Calendar Invites reinstated for Mail for Exchange
  • Overall ‘lighter’ less demanding, smoother OS for new and existing devices
  • ‘Follow’ homescreen transitions
  • Updated Camera interface with improved sharing options
  • OviMaps 3.06 pre-installed.

Intel Reportedly Delays Core i7-3820 CPU, Sandy Bridge-E Availability Scarce and Intel's Unreleased Core i5-2450M Spotted in Dell Notebooks

Intel Reportedly Delays Core i7-3820 CPU, Sandy Bridge-E Availability Scarce

In mid-November, Intel is expected to bring into the world its first processors based on the high-performance Sandy Bridge-E architecture, but some recent reports have come to suggest that the chip maker will face some availability issues with these CPUs.

According to VR-Zone, the latest rumors to reach the publication suggest that Intel has delayed the quad-core Core i7-3820 for the middle of Q1 next year.

As for the Core i7-3930K and 3960X, these will also be available in a very limited amount, the publication citing figures of “tens of thousands,” although it can't disclose the exact figures they were told.

The reason behind these availability issues don't have anything to do with production or anything of this sort, but are motivated by the chip maker's plans to soon release a C3 stepping of the CPUs.

Compared to the C2 version used at launch, the new version is expected to bring some slight improvements, but VR-Zone states that the version worth waiting for is actually the D stepping which won't arrive until later next year.

Intel's Unreleased Core i5-2450M Spotted in Dell Notebooks

Ever since the introduction of the processors in January of this year, Intel has constantly updated its Sandy Bridge CPU range with new models with slightly improved clock speeds and features, and this trend will continue with the upcoming Core i5-2450M.

The new processor has already emerged in the specifications of a series of Dell notebooks, the XPS 14Z, XPS 15 and XPS 17, which according to CPU World are now being marketed in Taiwan.

The new Core i5 chip is destined to take the place of the i5-2430M, and it features slightly improved specs when compared to its predecessor.

Intel has limited the changes to the core frequencies of the processor, which now comes with a base clock of 2.5GHz and a maximum Turbo Boost speed of 3.1GHz, compared to the 2.4GHz and 3GHz frequencies of the CPU is meant to replace.

In addition the the processor clocks, Intel has also increased the maximum clock speed of the integrated graphics core that now works at 1.3GHz.

The rest of the processor's specifications are similar with those of the rest of i5-2400 CPUs, which means that it includes two computing cores, 3MB of last level cache and support for the Hyper-Threading technology as well as for the AVX and AES-NI instruction sets.

The launch date of the Core i5-2450M is not yet known and neither is its recommended price, but most probably this will carry the same $225 (160 Euros) price tag as its predecessor.

The last of Intel's mobile Sandy Bridge processor refreshes came in just three weeks ago when the chip maker released the Pentium B960, Core i3-2350M and Core i5-2430M.

These made their entrance just a few weeks after Intel launched a series of high-performance mobile Core i7 products, featuring 2 and 4 CPU cores.

Mac OS X 10.8 Confirmed - Apple's Next Big Cat

Apple has begun testing its next major version of the Mac operating system, Mac OS X 10.8, of which we currently don’t know anything in terms of features. That includes the name too.

People with a keen eye for web visits from Cupertino, California have discovered that Apple is accelerating the development of Macintosh | Intel 10.8.

Specifically, the listings showed the following software being tested: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_8) AppleWebKit/535.6.2 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.2 Safari/535.6.2.

MacRumors admits that it would be fairly easy to falsify these records, though doing so would only spell a short-term win.

Besides, similar activity has been recorded in past years, like, for example, with OS X 10.7 Lion.

The blog claims to have been able to confirm that the OS X 10.8 requests originated from Apple, Inc. IP addresses and surrounding areas, while the overall clustering is consistent with limited internal testing, according to the report.

The pattern is almost identical to the one observed in October 2009, when Apple kicked off Lion development, or at least went online with Mac OS X 10.7.

While the features in OS X 10.8 are anybody’s guess, the name should be a tad more predictable.

It is fair to assume that Apple will want to continue the tradition of naming major OS X iterations after big cats, the most recent of which were Tiger (OS X 10.4), Leopard (OS X 10.5), Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6), and Lion (OS X 10.7), the latter being the current-selling version of the operating system.

In this respect, a more advanced OS X would be named after an even more elusive feline, though it is hard to pinpoint which one. White Tiger would certainly be an attractive name and marketing icon, don't you think?

Update: our own tests show that OS X 10.8 web access actually kicked off sometime in July, not August. See our graph below (click to enlarge).

Nokia Lumia 800 Is the Official Smartphone of The X Factor

Last week's Nokia Lumia 800 has just become the official smartphone of The X Factor, and was already delivered to contestants, who were impressed with its looks, as the video above shows.

There's nothing much to be said here, except maybe for the fact that Nokia seems to be truthful to the idea of bringing its new devices in the hands of as many young people as it can.

The vendor was already rumored to plan on focusing on this market segment with the marketing campaign for its newer devices, and it seems that it already made the first steps in this direction.

Running under Windows Phone, Nokia Lumia 800 was meant to impress, and so it does, courtesy of both its outer design, and of the range of capabilities Nokia and Microsoft packed it with:

It's here. The much-anticipated Nokia with Windows Phone. View all your texts and chats in one seamless conversation. 

Take, tag and upload photos to Facebook in seconds, and browse the web like you're on a PC. Find your way with satnav that even works without a signal. Nokia Lumia 800 makes the everyday amazing.

Nokia N9 Tips and Tricks (I)

Although Nokia confirmed that the N9 will be its first and last smartphone based on the MeeGo operating system, the Finnish company announced it will support the device with software updates and apps until at least 2015.

Nokia N9 comes with a brand new operating system based on Linux, and features a unique user interface, which seems to be based on a single gesture – 'swipe.'

Even though the 'swipe' gesture has been introduced in Android, iOS and other mobile platforms a long time ago, Nokia N9's 'Swipe' user interface is innovative in the fact that it is almost entirely based on this gesture.

The N9 comes with only three home screens dubbed by Nokia, Applications, Events and Open Applications, which are similar to Android's Launcher, Notifications and Task Manager panes.

The first thing you need to learn is how these home screens are working and how one can make good use of them.

The first home screen displayed when you unlock the phone is the Applications menu, which, obviously, shows all the apps.

This is the place where you can start any apps installed on the phone, as well as install new ones. 

You can install apps via Nokia Store or other app stores, but you will need to enable a special setting from Settings / Applications / Installations / Allow installations from non-Store sources.

To close an application and remove it from the screen you need to swipe toward the center of the screen from any edge. 

The application will be automatically sent on the next home screen, dubbed Open Applications, which acts as a Task Manager.

All applications 'closed' this way can be found on the Open Applications pane, so you can continue working with them when you need them. While on this home screen tap and hold your finger to close all or any of the applications that are still running in the background.

In addition, you can set the phone to automatically close all apps instead of sending them to the Open Applications screen by going to Settings / Device / Display / Swipe down to close app.

Feel free to suggest your own Nokia N9 tips and tricks, especially if you're an advanced user.

Swiftech Launches Apogee HD High-Performance CPU Waterblock

Water cooling specialist, Swiftech has just announced the launch of the company's new flagship CPU waterblock, the Apogee HD, which was specially designed to improve on the performance of its predecessors while also being compatible with AMD's Bulldozer processors and the upcoming Intel LGA 2011 CPUs.

The most important feature brought by Swiftech to the Apogee HD is the support for multi-port connectivity.

What this means is that the waterblock now comes fitted with two extra outlet ports that can be used by computer builders if they want to improve the flow rate of their liquid cooling system when installing multiple waterblock configurations.

Compared to the company's previous Apogee XT Rev2, Swiftech has also worked on removing some of the flow restrictions in the Apogee HD and now bundles it with the high performance PK1 thermal compound for improved thermal performance.

Together with the Apogee HD, Swiftech also announced a new revision of the MCRx20 Drive PC radiators which now feature multi-port connectivity.

“We wanted the new Apogee HD to best the XT by significant thermal and hydraulic performance margins, which also included competitive testing and we wouldn’t quit until we had every sample of the best waterblocks on the market beat”, said Gabriel Rouchon Swiftech’s Chairman & CTA.

“We also felt that we needed a clear competitive edge with our enthusiast users by continuing to bring innovative features to the table, so we developed the multi-port connectivity: supplemental ports were added to the Apogee HD and to the MCR x20 Drive radiators.

“This enables quite dramatic flow rate improvements in complex systems where multiple water-blocks are used to cool CPU, graphics processor, chipset, memory and other devices,” concluded the company's rep.

The Apogee HD processor waterblock and the MCRx20 Drive Rev3 radiators are already available for purchase with prices set at $74.95 (53 Euros) and $85-$169.95 (60-121 Euros) respectively. The Apogee HD is available in two colors, “Classic black” or “Fashionable white.”

Ubuntu 12.10 is Also For Phones and Tablets

Mark Shuttleworth has announced that Canonical is planning on taking its operating system, Ubuntu, to other platforms such as smartphones, TVs, and tablets. 

In an interview with Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, for zdnet.com, Mark Shuttleworth revealed his plans for Ubuntu operating system.

Apparently, 12.04 LTS (Long Term Support) will be a version designed to polish their Linux distro and to make the Unity interface the best it can be. This means that Ubuntu 12.10 will be available for smartphones, tablets and TVs.

“This is a natural expansion of our idea as Ubuntu as Linux for human beings. As people have moved from desktop to new form factors for computing, it’s important for us to reach out to out community on these platforms. So, we’ll embrace the challenge of how to use Ubuntu on smartphones, tablets and smart-screens”, said Mark Shuttleworth in the interview.

We can't really say this is a surprise, especially after seeing that Unity is an interface build for these kind of platforms.

Mark Shuttleworth

Cooler Master Hyper 412 CPU Cooler Supports LGA 2011 CPUs

Announced a short while ago, Cooler Master's upcoming Hyper 412 PWM processor cooler will soon make it to retail and will be one of the first such products to come with out of the box support for Intel's upcoming LGA 2011 CPUs.

The cooler itself is designed as a pretty standard tower heatsink, with four U-shaped copper heatpipes that are destined to draw the heat away from the CPU and into a large aluminum fin array, paired with a 120mm fan.

Like most other fans used for today's coolers, this one also is PWM controlled and its speed varies between 600 and 2000 RPM, depending on the CPU temperature.

According to Cooler Master, its noise level should never go above 36dBA, while, at the minimum rotation speed supported, this generates only 9dBA of noise, making it virtually inaudible.

To further improve the cooler's performance when paired with low-speed fans, the Hyper 412 sports a specially designed heatsink with wider fin gaps to reduce the air flow resistance when going through it.

Performance freaks should be glad to know that Cooler Master's latest creation can also be fitted with a secondary 120mm to create a push-pull configuration.

It should also be noted that the four U-shaped heatpipes use a direct contact design. This means that they are in direct contact with the processor's heatspreader in order to speed up the heat transfer between the CPU and the heatsink.

Outside of the 120mm fan, the Hyper 412 PWM is also shipped together with a tube of thermal grease and with the required AMD and Intel CPU mounting clips.

Pricing is yet uncertain at this point in time, but Cooler Master has already started shipping samples of this cooler to reviewers (VR-Zone) being one of the first publications to receive it), so its launch date shouldn't be that far off.

ASRock X79 Extreme9 Black Edition Motherboard Approaches and First Micro-ATX LGA 2011 Motherboard

ASRock X79 Extreme9 Black Edition Motherboard Approaches

New flagship product has a black PCB and will be one of, if not the most expensive LGA 2011 platform once the product launches start in November. 

The ASRock X79 Extreme9 Black Edition is most assuredly not the first motherboard to leave the company's laboratories. 

Nevertheless, it is, quite clearly even, the most feature-packed of them all, or so VR-Zone says. 

The existence of five PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots is the first thing, or one of them, that jumps into view. 

The fact that the CPU socket is wired to eight DDR3 memory slots is no small feat either. 

Meanwhile, eight SATA 6.0 Gbps ports are present, six of which are supplied by Marvell 2-port SATA 6.0 Gbps controller chips. Four SATA 3.0 Gbps connectors exist as well. 

Additionally, ASRock was able to include eight USB 3.0 ports (four on the back panel, four as headers). 

At this point, it is ready to see just why this might qualify as the true flagship instead of the ASRock X79 Extreme7

The above, as well as the extensive connectivity options on the I/O panel, aren't all that enthusiasts can look forward to though. 

After all, ASRock also intends to offer a daughterboard, to permanently occupy one of the PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots. 

Said board is called “Game Blaster” apparently and has 7.1 channel audio and a gaming network controller. 

Alas, even though the specifications have been unraveled (the photos of the ASRock X79 Extreme9 Black Edition don't leave much to the imagination after all), it is unclear how much it will cost to get one. 

Naturally, the price will be considerable, perhaps the highest of all motherboards to be launched alongside the Intel Sandy Bridge-E CPU series. November 14, or around that time, is when things will become truly clear.

ASRock Shows Off First Micro-ATX LGA 2011 Motherboard

We've seen the X79 Extreme4-M micro-ATX motherboard for LGA 2011 processors mentioned in a wide series of ASRock documents until now, but now the Taiwanese company has finally released the first pictures of this small form factor solution for Intel's upcoming Sandy Bridge-E CPUs.

This is actually the first micro-ATX Intel X79-based motherboard we have seen so far and it seems to offer many of the features of its older brothers while using a more compact form factor.

One of the most important features is the inclusion of an eight phase VRM that makes use of high-grade solid-state chokes, driver-MOSFETs and which should be able to deliver enough power for Intel's chips, even when overclocking is added to the mix.

Furthermore, users also get full support for quad-channel memory thanks to the four DIMM memory sockets installed and can also pair the X79 Extreme4-M with three PCI Express graphics cards.

When all are populated, two of these will work at x16, while the middle one has only eight PCIe lanes routed to it, according to TechPowerUp.

The rest of the expansion slots include a single legacy PCI slot, while storage is provided thanks to a pair of SATA 6Gbps ports, which are seconded by four other SATA ports working at 3Gbps.

When taking a look at the rear I/O connections of the X79 Extreme4-M, users are greeted by a pair of USB 3.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet, a number of USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire port and by an eSATA connector.

Audio is provided by an 8+2 channel HD codec with optical and coaxial SPDIF outputs, and the rear of the ASRock motherboard also houses a Clear CMOS switch.

On the PCB of the board, consumers will also find the usual Power and Reset buttons and a BIOS POST display, but also a header for connecting two extra USB 3.0 ports. The Intel X79 PCH is cooled by an active cooler.

No details regarding the release or the price of this motherboard were provided by ASRock.

AMD FX-8150 Gets Overclocked to 8,461MHz to Reach New World Record

Just a few weeks after the official launch of AMD's first processors based on the Bulldozer architecture, an overclocker has managed to reach a new CPU frequency world record by utilizing the chip maker's flagship desktop processor, the FX-8150.

The record was achieved by cooling the CPU with liquid nitrogen which has a boiling point of -192°C.

This sort of cooling was required for the CPU in order to allow the overclocker to raise the voltage of the chip all the way to an impressive 1.992V.

Thanks to this vCore the FX-8150 was able to reach 8,461.51 MHz with a bus speed of 272.95MHz and a 31.0X multiplier.

To put things in perspective, the eight-core AMD flagship processor used by Andre Yang (the enthusiast behind this new WR) has a base clock of 3.6GHz and a maximum Turbo Core frequency of 4.2GHz, so this translates into a 235% core speed increase over the chip's stock settings.

The rest of the system used for this overclock was comprised out of a high-end Asus Crosshair V Formula motherboard, 2GB of Corsair DDR3 system memory running at 909.8MHz (1818.16MHz DDR) with timings of 9-9-9-24T and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 graphics card.

Only two out of the eight computing cores were active during this experiment.

The highest frequency achieved by a CPU until this new record was set also belonged to an FX-8150 processor that in mid-September was overclocked to an impressive 8,429MHz by an AMD sponsored team of enthusiasts.

Liquid helium was used for that overclock and the CPU used was back then the world's fastest clocked processor, surpassing by 120MHz the previous world record.

This new world record however comes to show that Bulldozer has even higher overclocking headroom left, and things are probably going to be even better once the new B3 stepping will be launched by AMD.

Gigabyte Readies New WindForce 2X GTX 560 Ti Graphics Cards and Gigabyte X79 Motherboard Will Have Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11n Wi-Fi

Gigabyte Readies New WindForce 2X GTX 560 Ti Graphics Cards

Gigabyte keeps on expanding its WindForce graphics cards series with new products based on Nvidia's designs, the latest solutions to arrive in this range being the rev. 1.0 and 2.0 WindForce 2X GTX 560 Ti models featuring an in-house designed cooling system. 

The changes concentrated on proving the cards with cleaner power as well as on improving their cooling capabilities.

As a result, the new models feature a refreshed WindForce 2X cooling system that now packs no less than four copper heatpipes and a new fan design, that is supposed to decrease turbulence.

Despite these changes, however, Gigabyte has decided not to sell its two latest creations factory overclocked, which means that the GPUs as well as the memory are run at the default clock speeds recommended by Nvidia for the GTX 560 Ti.

Outside of these changes, the two WindForce 2X solutions feature the same specifications as their predecessor and sport 2-way SLI support, a pair of dual-link DVI ports and a mini HDMI video output, reports TCMagazine.

Power is delivered via two 6-pin power connectors for both of these models, and the rev 1.0 GTX 560 Ti comes with an Ultra Durable VGA design featuring a 2oz copper PCB, Japanese solid capacitors and a bunch of other improvements over Nvidia's reference GTX 560 Ti.

Its older brother, adds a series of new features, the most important of which being the presence of a NEC Proadlizer capacitor for delivering cleaner power to the GPU and memory.

Sadly, no information regarding the price of the launch date of these two Gigabyte graphics cards is available at this point in time.

The GTX 560 Ti is based on the Nvidia GF114 core and it packs 384 CUDA cores, 64 texturing units, 32 ROP units and a 256-bit wide memory interface that is usually linked to 1GB of GDDR5 video buffer.

Gigabyte X79 Motherboard Will Have Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11n Wi-Fi

Gigabyte is doing something akin to what rival companies have chosen, although its method of implementation seems a bit more straightforward, consisting of a PCI Express to mini PCI Express adapter. 

Gigabyte decided that, since it is going to release a whole new batch of next-generation motherboards, it may as well go all the way.

One thing that most X79 boards don't have is support for Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11n Wi-Fi.

VR-Zone reports that Gigabyte figured it would just make an add-in-board to make up for the deficit, which is really more of a PC Express to mini PCI Express adapter.

A half-sized mini PCI Express card based on an Atheros processor was equipped with an USB pin-header, meant to be attached to the USB pin-header on the motherboard.

With this to make sure the Bluetooth 4.0 connection works, the WiFi side of the equation will be left with the PCI Express connection.

ECS already tried to solve this 'issue' as well, the solution involving a PCB antenna hardwired to the rear I/O, among other things.

Also, ASUS tried for a proprietary raiser card for the P9X79 Deluxe (with custom designed USB devices, apparently).

Compared to those, Gigabyte's method seems somewhat more simple, even though it is limited to 150Mbps Wi-Fi (it has only two antennas). As such, no MIMO support exists (needs 300 Mbps).

Then again, people who want better speeds can buy something faster if they so wish.

It should also be noted that, despite this minor limitation, the adapter does have a certain other benefit, in its integration of a standard USB port.

The X79-UD5, X79-UD7 and G1.Assassin 2 motherboards are the ones that will ship in a bundle with the PCI Express card. Not certain if the item will sell standalone as well, but there is no reason it shouldn't.

Redesigned Ultra-Thin 15-Inch MacBook Pro Enters Final Testing - Reports

Apple is reportedly putting the finishing touches on a radically redesigned 15-inch MacBook that is believed to emerge sometime early next year.

The recent discovery of new part numbers in Apple’s inventory system led to widespread belief that Cupertino is refreshing its MacBook Pro lineup ahead of the holiday season.

Some reports hav speculated that Apple will only redesign the chassis of its MacBook Pros when Intel launches its Ivy Bridge processors, which is on schedule for next year.

In the interim, a minor processor upgrade was expected. That happened last week, along with upgraded storage and identical pricing.

Now all eyes are on Apple with immense anticipation of the inevitable - redesign the MacBook Pro family to look like the MacBook Air, give it a new CPU, NAND Flash storage, and perhaps even an upgraded display.

Word on the web is that Apple has now finished work on test units of a 15-inch LCD for an upcoming ultra-thin laptop.

The Japanese source says it’s a new 15-inch MacBook Air, but it’s very likely that Apple is upgrading the Pro lineup with key design elements from the Air family.

The source also points out that Apple’s redesigned MacBook will do away with the optical drive. You don’t need a degree in journalism to connect the dots and see that flash storage is the ultimate aim for every computer vendor.

Discs will soon be obsolete, therefore Apple has no good reason to continue implementing it as a feature on its portable offerings.

According to 9to5mac, the entire system was reportedly in testing in July. By now, it should be in its last testing stages, which means the launch may be closer than originally anticipated.

However, what about the Ivy Bridge CPUs? They’re not scheduled to launch until next year. Could it be that Apple is finally launching a Mac based on the A-series of processors?

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