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Nov 9, 2011

AMD Radeon HD 7900 Tahiti GPUs to Arrive in January 2012 – Report

Awaited with great interest by gamers and enthusiasts alike, AMD's Tahiti graphics cores, which will most probably arrive in the company's Radeon HD 7900 product line, are expected to get released in January of 2012, according to a recent report.

Graphics cards based on the Tahiti GPU will come as a replacement for the company's current Radeon HD 6900 range and AMD plans to build two different SKUs of this chip, dubbed Tahiti Pro and Tahiti XT.

A dual-GPU version will also be released later in 2012, possibly until the end of Q1 2012, which will most probably be known as the Radeon HD 7990.

All three of these graphics cards will be significantly more powerful than their current counterparts, reports Fudzilla, since the move to the 28nm fabrication process enabled the chip maker to improve upon the specifications of its GPUs.

In addition, both Radeon HD 7950 and Radeon HD 7970 reference designs will come with an improved cooling system that replaces the traditional vapor chamber technology used for high-end parts with a liquid chamber.

AMD said during a previous event that the new cooling solution brings a series of improvements over the old technology while also being easier to manufacture.

Radeon HD 7900-series cards use AMD's Next Generation Core (NGC) architecture that was designed to offer improved performance and functionality in GPGPU environments.

Before coming out with the Radeon HD 7900 parts, AMD will release a series of mid-range models that are designed to feature the VLIW4 (very-long instruction word) architecture introduced with the Radeon HD 6900-series GPUs.

These entry-level and mid-range Radeon HD 7000 GPUs will be known by the code name of Thames and Lombok.

Nvidia's next-generation graphics cores, built using the same 28nm TSMC fabrication node and code named Kepler, will also arrive in 2012 and will be officially announced in December of this year, according to a recent report.

Gmail App for Blackberry Gets Discontinued on November 22nd

Google is set to discontinue the support for their Gmail application for BlackBerry devices, and announced that it will make the move on November 22nd. 

The announcement refers to the installed native Gmail App for Blackberry, but do not involve the Gmail service accessible from the browser on mobile devices.

Even more, Google says that they have been enhancing the experience that BlackBerry users benefit from when accessing Gmail via the mobile browser, and that they will continue to invest in the area.

As for the native application, it will still be there for users to take advantage of, but there will be no official support for it available:

Users may continue to use the app, if installed, however it will not be supported by Google, or available for download starting November 22. BlackBerry users can continue to access Gmail through the mobile web app at http://www.gmail.com in their BlackBerry web browser

Intel 2013 Haswell CPUs Get Detailed in Series of Leaked Slides

Now that Ivy Bridge has entered volume manufacturing, Intel has turned its attention towards its next-generation architecture code named Haswell, which was just detailed in a couple of leaked slides together with the Lynx Point chipset.

Haswell will be a “Tock” on the chip maker's roadmap meaning that it uses an entirely new architecture built using the 22nm production node.

The first chips using this new core are expected to land in 2013 and according to the slides published by Chiphell, Intel plans to split its product range into two distinct groups.

The first group includes the company's desktop and notebook processors, while the latter is specially designed for Ultrabooks and drops the usual 2-chip platform approach that Intel has been using for quite some time in favor of a system-on-a-chip (SoC) design.

Desktop CPUs will feature either two of four processing cores with TDPs of 35, 45, 65 or 95 Watt, and will include a dual-channel DDR3/DDR3L memory controller as well as GT2 or GT1 integrated graphics cores.

Mobile chips will be available in the same dual or quad-core configurations, but the memory controller only supports DDR3L DIMMs and get the more powerful Intel GT3 GPU.

As far as the Ultrabooks Haswell chips are concerned, these will be limited at supporting dual computing cores.

The TDP of Intel's upcoming system-on-a-chip devices will be set at 15W, while the rest of the notebook processors are rated as 37, 47 or 57 Watt parts.

Other features include support for the DirectX 11.1 API, support for the AVX2 instruction set as well as a series of IPC improvements meant to increase single-thread performance.

In addition, mobile Haswell processors will also include a configurable TDP technology that enables the CPU to greatly surpass its maximum thermal design power in order to increase its performance when additional cooling is provided (like when used together with an external cooling dock).

HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung to Launch Quad-Core Smartphones in 2012

Nvidia has just taken the wraps off its Tegra 3 quad-core application processor, which promises impressive performance capabilities for mobile devices that would range from tablet PCs to high-end smartphones. 

Actually sporting five cores, since Nvidia also counts the GPU as an additional core for the chip, Kal-El is expected to make it inside smartphones no later than next year, after being packed inside tablet PCs before the end of 2011.

The first device to include the application processor was already made official, the ASUS Transformer Prime, and should be followed by many other similar products, it seems.

Among them, we should see smartphones coming from handset vendors such as HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung, some of the latest reports on the matter suggest.

HTC, for example, has been recently rumored to pack the quad-core chip inside a new smartphone, dubbed Edge, which should also arrive on shelves with a large 4.7-inch screen, advanced connectivity capabilities, an 8-megapixel camera on the back, and other cutting-edge technologies.

The smartphone might make an official appearance on the market as soon as the first quarter of the next year, and could be released in early Q2 2012 at the latest.

Apparently, phone makers like LG, Motorola and Samsung plan on making similar steps in the are soon, in an attempt to prevent HTC from stepping to far ahead, DigiTimes notes in a recent article.

All these handset vendors are confirmed to have already started the work on quad-core smartphones, with info on HTC's Edge available at the moment, following previous rumors on two Motorola handsets, Bullet and Jet.

All these devices are expected to run under Google's Android operating system, and they might very well pack the latest flavor of the OS, namely Ice Cream Sandwich.

However, we should expect Nvidia's chip to be packed inside devices running under other OSes as well, including Microsoft's Windows (Phone) or RIM's BlackBerry.

Noctua Creates the NF-F12 120mm Focused Flow Fan

Noctua's NF-F12 120mm Focused Flow fan is not the first, nor the last of the company's fans, but it is the newest and, apparently, the one that produces one of, if not the strongest static air pressure. 

Aerodynamically optimized, it has both a high airflow and a low noise generation.

Also, it is made in such a way as to “spread the noise emission over a broader frequency spectrum,” via stator guide vanes, that are set out in Varying Angular Distance, and by means of Vortex-Control Notches.

This makes its sound pattern easier on the ear, while the Stepped Inlet Design increases suction capacity while smoothening flow transition, among other things.

Get EUR 19.90 / USD 24.90 if you want to buy it, or drop by the product page here to learn everything about it.

PC Power & Cooling Silencer Mk III Modular PSU Series Launched

PC Power and Cooling was pretty quiet in the last year or so, but now the company has returned in order to announce the introduction of a new series of power supplies that were developed to offer both high efficiency and quiet operation while also using a modular design.

The initial PSU lineup will be comprised of three models which are rated at 400W, 500W, and 600W, but all of these feature similar specifications.

Just as its predecessor, the Mk III series features a single high-power +12V rail and premium components, including 100% Japanese 105°C capacitors.

These are designed to provide continuous power output at a demanding 50°C ambient temperature and are backed by a series of heavy-duty protection circuitries.

The rest of the PSU specifications list a 120mm variable RPM fan for quiet operation, 80PLUS Bronze certification, as well as a low noise and ripple design.

“PC Power and Cooling has always catered to those clients that are looking for both performance and reliability from their power management solutions and the Silencer MKIII PSU continues that tradition and incorporates new features such as a modular cable design,” said Steve Lee, Senior Vice President of Power Management at OCZ Technology Group.

“This is the first modular PC Power PSU and we spent extra time and resources to make sure we got it right by combining a highly efficient core with Japanese capacitors, a whisper quiet 120mm fan, and the flexibility of modular cabling, all to create the best Silencer yet.

“We are releasing this exciting new series in a range of models up to 600W and pricing them competitively, making the Silencer MKIII PSU’s the ideal blend of performance, features, and overall value for customers.”

OCZ hasn't mentioned when the new PC Power & Cooling Silencer Mk III power supplies are expected to hit retail, but prices should top at $90 (66 EUR), for the 600W model.

VIA Intros 'World's First' Pico-ITX Motherboard with a Dual-Core CPU

VIA keeps on releasing new mainboards using the company's processors and their latest creation, the VIA EPIA-P900 Pico-ITX, is touted as being the world's first Pico-ITX solution to feature a dual-core CPU.

The ultra compact Pico-ITX form factor measures only 10cm x 7.2cm, but despite this compact size VIA has manged to fit in the EPIA-P900 an 1.0GHz EdenTM X2 processor and the VIA VX900H chipset.

This media system hub, as VIA likes calling it, sports hardware acceleration support for various HD video formats, including MPEG-2, H.264, VC-1, WMV9 and HDCP for Blu-ray content.

The EPIA-P900 mainboard also sports support for up to 4GB of system memory via a single SO-DIMM socket and also features a pair of SATA 3Gps ports.

Throughout the board PCB, VIA has also placed various other headers for a 24-bit LVDS interface, five USB 2.0 ports, an LPC connector, a SMBus connector and two UART ports.

The rest of the required ports and connectors are spread around the sides of the EPIA-P900 and these include HDMI and VGA video outputs, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a pair of USB 2.0 ports.

Audio is driven by a VIA Vinyl VT2021 10-channel audio codec, which delivers support for Blu-ray and HD DVD Audio Content Protection.

"The VIA Pico-ITX allows embedded system design to pack unprecedented levels of performance into even smaller form factors," said Epan Wu Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc.

"The new VIA EPIA-P900 opens up exciting new possibilities for innovation in ultra compact embedded designs," concluded the company's rep.

VIA hasn't revealed any information regarding the release or the pricing of the EPIA-P900 motherboard, but this is expected to be sold only to system integrators and OEMs.

HIS Outs 2GB Radeon HD 6450 for HTPC Systems

HIS has been particularly busy lately releasing all sort of graphics cards covering the whole GPU market, and today has introduced yet another model that targets entry-level systems and uses the Radeon HD 6450 design paired together with 2GB of video buffer.

The new graphics card is known as the HIS 6450 Silence 2GB and it features a low-profile PCB as well as passive heatsink, making it a great solution for HTPC users.

Its home theater PC role is also accentuated by the bundled low-profile expansion bracket, which is a great addition if the card must be fitted in a half-height computer case.

The rest of the card's specs include a Caicos GPU with 160 stream processors, 8 texture units and 4 ROP units that are linked to the installed video buffer via a 64-bit wide memory bus.

The memory used by HIS is DDR3 and is clocked at 1GHz (data rate), while the GPU has an operating frequency of 625MHz.

Compared to AMD's reference design for the HD 6450, HIS' solution is actually slower as the DDR3 memory used provides a great deal less bandwidth than the 900MHz (3.6GHz data rate) GDDR5 recommended.

The graphics processor is also clocked lower than AMD's stock frequency (625MHz vs 750MHz), since HIS probably had to decrease the heat produced by its latest creation in order to make it fit on a low-profile PSB.

Taking a look at the rear bracket, we find all the usual video outputs including VGA, dual-link DVI and HDMI 1.4a., but a DisplayPort connector is sadly missing.

The recommended price for the HIS 6570 Silence 2GB has been set at $60, which translates into about (43.7 EUR).

At the end of the day, going for a 2GB Radeon HD 6450 doesn't make much sense, so buyers should be better of opting for the regular 512MB or 1GB version of this graphics card and save a few bucks in the process.

Patch Critical Windows 7 SP1 TCP/IP Vulnerability

Microsoft security patches for November 2011 are live and customers need to prioritize plugging a hole in the Windows TCP/IP stack which affects all releases of the operating system, including Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1), but with the exception of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. 

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS11-083, rated Critical, is the one dealing with CVE-2011-2013, the Reference Counter Overflow vulnerability in the Windows TCP/IP stack.

But there are an additional three security bulletins from the software giant, patching just as many vulnerabilities, although none as severe as CVE-2011-2013.

“We are releasing four security updates, which will increase protection by addressing four privately reported CVEs in Microsoft Windows. As always, customers should plan to install all of these updates as soon as possible,” revealed Pete Voss, Sr. Response Communications Manager, Microsoft Trustworthy Computing.

“There is one bulletin, however, that we want to call out as a priority for our customers: MS11-083 (TCP/IP): This security update resolves a privately reported vulnerability in Microsoft Windows. The vulnerability could allow Remote Code Execution if an attacker sends a continuous flow of specifically crafted UDP packets to a closed port on a target system.”

Customers need to make sure that they deploy all November 2011 Windows security updates as soon as possible, while making sure that MS11-083 is a priority.

“The security update addresses the vulnerability by modifying the way that the Windows TCP/IP stack keeps track of UDP packets within memory,” Microsoft informed.

In addition to the vulnerability detailed above, Windows 7 SP1, as well as a number of older releases of Microsoft platforms, are also impacted by MS11-084, MS11-085 and MS11-086.

However, just two of the remaining security bulletins are rated Important, with MS11-084 being considered as posing a Moderate risk to users.

As previously revealed, the Redmond company has not issued a security update to resolve the Critical zero-day vulnerability used by the Duqu malware in order to spread, as part of the November 2011 Patch Tuesday releases. However, a fix is indeed coming for the Duqu 0-day, although most likely it will be an out-of-band update.

NVIDIA Launches Tegra 3 Kal-El 'Five-Core' Mobile Chip

The NVIDIA Kal-El SoC was a long time coming but, at long last, it has been officially introduced by the Santa Clara, California-based company. 

Indeed, after previous reports had already disclosed the capabilities of the platform, NVIDIA not only confirmed them, but demonstrated those assets on video.

Multiple videos, it turns out, as there is one that shows how much better flash, HTML and webGL applications run, games included.

Speaking of games, NVIDIA really didn't cut any corners this time and made a special  video of the Tegra
3 running the underwater level of Glowball on Android Honeycomb OS.

We actually already put up the Glowball video, since having a game with nearly two million rendered triangles run so smoothly on a mobile platform is no mean feat (go here and watch it).

As a reminder, Kal-El has four ARM Cortex A9 MPcore cores which can attain 1.5 GHz speeds.

In addition to those cores, there is also a GPU with 12 cores of its own, which basically turns the Tegra 3 into a five-core chip of sorts.

“NVIDIA's fifth core is ingenious,” said Nathan Brookwood, Research Fellow at Insight 64.

“Tegra 3's vSMP technology extends the battery life of next-generation mobile devices by using less power when they're handling undemanding tasks and then ratcheting up performance when it's really needed.”

All in all, it is about five times faster than the Tegra 2, which could already play Full HD media just fine (1,080p), Flash animations or apps, etc.

Tegra 2 has already proved its worth by powering most Android tablets selling at the moment. Also, the newcomer is more effective at distributing workload, as well as more power-efficient.

There is little doubt that the ASUS Transformer Prime, delayed to December or not, will be very closely monitored.

After all, being the first product to actually incorporate NVIDIA's latest invention, it will fall to it to put on a good show.

Then again, with Android Ice Cream Sandwich added to the mix, it is more a matter of how badly Kal-El will overshadow competing platforms than anything else.

Asus Details the Transformer Prime, Will Arrive in December for $499 (€361)

After waiting impatiently for the last three weeks, Android fans can now finally relax as Asus has officially announced the upcoming Transformer Prime tablet powered by Nvidia's quad-core Kal-El SoC, which will go on sale worldwide in December for $499 (361 EUR).

The official announcement of the Transformer Prime comes to fill in all the blanks left after Asus chairman Jonney Shih teased the tablet at last month's AsiaD conference.

As many of you already know, Asus' latest creation is built around an Nvidia Kal-El chip and 10.1-inch screen and is housed inside a sleek chassis measuring only 8.3mm (0.33 inches) in thickness.

This was designed to mimic the aspect of the company's Zenbooks as it uses the same spun aluminum finish and it will be available in two colors, silver and gold.

The basic model comes with 32GB of storage space, which can be upgraded via a microSD slot, but users also have the option of going for a beefy 64GB model.

The newly revealed specs of the Transformer Prime also come to reveal that the 10.1-inch screen uses an IPS+ panel with a native resolution of 1280 x 800, 600 nits of brightness and a 178-degree viewing angle, that is covered with Gorilla Glass for added protection.

Nvidia's fast quad-core processor is seconded by 1GB of RAM, and Asus' Prime tablet also sports an GPS, a gyroscope, SonicMaster audio and a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera.

The rear 8MP resolution camera comes with auto-focus support, an f/2.4 lens, a back-illuminated CMOS sensor, and is capable of recording 1080p video.

As far as battery life is concerned, the initial announcement said that we should expect about 14.5-hours of runtime, but now Asus has reconsidered this figure and dropped it down to “only” 12 hours.

Users can get another six hours of battery life by going with the additional keyboard dock that transforms the Transformer Prime basically into an Android-powered notebook, while also providing a touchpad, USB 2.0 port and full-sized SD slot.

Without the 540 grams (1.2 pounds) dock, the tablet weights 586 grams (1.29 pounds) and its thin 8.3mm (0.33 inches) profile make it a tad skinnier than the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Initially, Asus' Transformer Prime will be run the Honeycomb 3.2 version of the Android operating system, but later in December the Taiwanese company will introduce an Ice Cream Sandwich update.

Pricing will be set at $499 (360 EUR) for the 32GB version, while the 64GB model will retail for $599 (433 EUR). Going for the keyboard dock (the original Asus Transformer dock isn't compatible with the Prime) adds another $149 (108 EUR) to these prices.

Apple Offers iOS 5.0.1 to Some Customers

Cupertino has chosen a bunch of customers to test out iOS 5.0.1, the upcoming software update tasked with alleviating battery life woes, as well as other problems.

A program where customers are invited to test pre-release software, AppleSeed Software Customer Seeding aims to provide the company’s Software Engineering team with real-world quality and usability feedback.

Specifically, customers who complained about battery drainage have received a memo which says, “Apple invites you to participate in a software seeding project. We have selected you, based on a referral from AppleCare for participation in our program, to assist us in testing an upcoming iOS 5 Software Update.”

Users are offered a few instructions based on which they will download and install the software, but not before they learn of the implications of accepting the program.

Participants will be required to click through the Customer Seed and Confidentiality Agreement, and they are told that use of pre-release software is confidential.

Apple specifically states that “you may not discuss the seed outside the mechanisms provide by the AppleSeed Program and ApplCare.”

But probably the most important note Apple makes is this:

“Backups should be maintained to mitigate data loss in the event of an application or system crash. Apple is not liable for malfunctions resulting from the installation of this software. Furthermore, Apple makes no guarantee that data created or modified by this software will be compatible with future versions.”

Still, customers are being assured that once iOS 5.0.1 comes out of beta, they will be able to update without a problem, to get back in line with the rest of the Apple fan base.

Before proceeding with the installation of the iOS 5.0.1 beta, testers are also warned that they won’t be able to revert to an older version of the iOS.

Visit Apple here to learn more about the AppleSeed Software Customer Seeding program

Comprehensive List of HTC Codenames Leaks

Taiwanese mobile phone maker HTC Corporation should soon bring to shelves a new range of devices, at least this is what a recently leaked list with codenames from the company shows. 

Available courtesy of the guys over at Pocketnow, the list includes both already launched devices, as well as yet unannounced ones, such as the recently spotted HTC Edge.

What these devices are all about is unknown for the time being, especially since we can see there both Android and Windows Phone handsets, but it's clear that the phone maker has already made its plans for the coming months.

When looking at the said list, names such as Bliss, Edge, Eternity, Holiday, Omega, Pico, Pop, Prime, Ruby, Runnymede, and Vigor, which refer to devices that have been already made available, can be eliminated, which leaves us with a number of 24 names that are unaccounted for.

The rest of the list shows names such as Act, Alpha, Blue, Cybertron, Elite, Fighter, Fit, Flick, Glider, Grande, Jet, Key, Layer, Quattro, Radiant, RTP, Splendor, Square, Tag, Tahiti, Tube, Veloce, Villa, and Vitesse.

Pocketnow says that they received the list a while ago, and that it proved to contain names that became reality so far, which suggests that more devices present there might soon pan out.

Of course, there is no guarantee that these codenames will actually turn out into real devices, since it would not be the first time that handsets have been scrapped just before they went official.

One way or the other, it remains to be seen what these devices are all about, and whether they might all turn out to be smartphones, or tablet PCs would also be there.

Moreover, we're eager to learn which mobile operating system HTC plans on loading on these, and whether it would have their vast majority running under Android as before, or would put Windows Phone on more of them.

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