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Nov 11, 2011

Gigabyte GZ-G1 and GZ-G1 Plus Formalized

'Steel towers' isn't exactly a phrase that would make someone immediately think about PC cases, but the words are, in this case, quite descriptive of the two enclosures that Gigabyte created for desktop PCs.

The reason why steel and tower both accurately capture part of the essence of the two products that Gigabyte made is because the GZ-G1 and GZ-G1 Plus, as they are called, are desktop cases that feature the tower form factor and a steel structure.

They aren't the only ones of their kind either, as the GZ-G series also includes the GZ-G2 and GZ-G2 Plus.

The whole product line can be found here, on the company's official website.

The only difference between the GZ-G1 and the GZ-G1 Plus is that the latter has an extra fan of 120mm and a pair of USB 3.0 ports over what the former offers.

Everything else is the same, so prospective buyers can be reasonably certain that their prices won't be very different either.

It isn't known when, exactly, those tags are disclosed, unfortunately, but it shouldn't take overly long.

That said, there are six internal 3.5-inch drive bays, as well as a pair of exposed 5.25-inch bays, for ODDs (optical disk drives) or other things.

Meanwhile, the inside of the case is ventilated by two 120mm fans set on the front (the Plus has that extra 120mm fan at the top).

Gigabyte also took enthusiasts into account and made sure there were three pre-drilled watercooling holes at the back of the chassis.

As for everything else, a convex side panel lets cables more easily be stuffed behind the motherboard tray, and a front I/O panel grants access to two USB 2.0 ports and a pair of audio jacks (Plus has the aforementioned USB 3.0 as well).

The Gigabyte GZ-G1 and GZ-G1 Plus are colored black and can hold micro ATX and ATX motherboards.

Giada MI-Z68 Mini-ITX Motherboard Debuts

People looking to build an HTPC for Christmas might want to check out the new motherboard that JEHE is preparing, the MI-Z68, based on the Intel Z68 chipset.

The motherboard market is occupied with the Intel X79 chipset right now, the ones that support LGA 2011 Sandy Bridge-E CPUs.

Those central processing units are just for the high-end market, though, which means that smaller platforms, like the Giada MI-Z68 from JEHE, have to stick to Z68.

The MI-Z68 supports LGA 1155 CPUs, Sandy Bridge as it were, and features the mini-ITX form factor.

As such, it will act as a platform for small form factor personal computers, especially HTPCs (home-theater personal computers).

It still has all the components that a standard PC is equipped with, though, even if they are crammed closer together than on the average ATX model, not to mention larger ones.

Two DDR3-1333 memory slots exist, for example, as does a PCI Express x16 slot, for graphics cards.

Theoretically, this should let even better-than-average video controllers be installed, provided the PC case is big enough to accommodate them.

Hypothetically, two memory slots and a good graphics adapter can help build a strong little machine, especially if the CPU is no slouch as well.

People who like to attend LAN parties, for instance, could build a sort of portable desktop out of this instead of a multimedia system.

Furthermore, a pair of SATA 3.0 Gbps ports (SATA II) are present, as are two SATA 6.0 Gbps connectors (SATA III).

Other specifications include mSATA connectivity (can pair an SSD with an HDD), two USB 3.0 pots, 7.1 channel audio, Gigabit Ethernet, DVI and HDMI.

The JEHE Giada MI-Z68 hasn't yet reached stores but should do it soon. It will be priced at 88 Euro, which is about the same as $119.85.

AMD Dual-GPU HD 7790 May Arrive in March 2012 Says Report

After the release of the Radeon HD 7900 series cards in the first part of 2012, some even say in January, AMD will continue to expand its graphics processor lineup and it now seems like March will mark the arrival of the dual-GPU Radeon HD 7990.

The card will be based on the same Tahiti core as that used for the Radeon HD 7970 or HD 7950, but we don't know if AMD will go for the XT or the Pro version of this GPU.

AMD's current Radeon HD 6990 is built using the more powerful XT version of the Cypress core, but this is no guarantee as the company has also used Pro parts in its previous dual-GPU solutions.

Mo matter the Tahiti core that AMD will end up choosing, Donanim Haber reports that the HD 7990 should be launched by the end of Q1 2012, most probably during, or shortly after the CeBIT fair, which will take place at the beginning of the month in Germany.

The Radeon HD 7990 will most probably also use the new liquid chamber cooling solution that AMD said previously that it will be included in the HD 7970 and HD 7950 reference designs.

According to the Sunnyvale-based chip maker, this brings a series of improvements over the old vapor chamber 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 environment.

Before coming out with the dual-GPU Radeon HD 7990, AMD will release not just the HD 7970 and HD 7950, but also a series of mid-range models manufactured using TSMC's 28nm production node.

These will feature the VLIW4 (very-long instruction word) architecture introduced with the Radeon HD 6900-series GPUs.

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

Nvidia's Project Denver is On-Track, Doesn't Use ARM 64-bit Arch

After ARM announced its v8 core with support for the 64-bit instruction set many were tempted to believe that Nvidia's upcoming Project Denver is based on this new architecture, but the company's CEO has recently stated that this isn't true as the chip will use a 64-bit technology developed by Nvidia.

According to Xbit Labs, Jen-Hsun Huang revealed this fact during the company's latest quarterly conference call with financial analysts.

"Our focus [with Project Denver] is to supplement, add to ARM's capabilities by extending the ARM's architecture to segments in a marketplace that they are not themselves focused on,” said Nvidia's CEO.

“There are some segments in the marketplace where single-threaded performance is still very important and 64-bit is vital.

“So, we dedicated ourselves to create a new [micro-]architecture that extends the ARM instruction set, which is inherently very energy-efficient already, and extend it to high-performance segments that we need for our company to grow [on] our market," continued Mr. Huang.

Project Denver is the code name used by company to describe its upcoming hybrid processor that includes an Nvidia ARM-based CPU which will be fully integrated on the same chip with an Nvidia GPU.

The resulting SoC is rumored to include 256 CUDA cores that will be clocked somewhere between 2.0 and 2.5GHz.

A similar speed is also expected to be used for the CPU, while the memory controller and the remaining components found on the chip's die will work at lower frequencies.

To increase the performance of the chip, Nvidia plans to use a new approach when it comes to accessing memory and both the CPU and the GPU will be able to connect to the fast graphics memory via a controller that is similar to the one used in graphics cores.

Project Denver is currently under development and is described as being on-track by Jen-Hsun Huang, which means that it will arrive in 2013.

"We are busily working on Denver, it is on track. Our expectation is that we will talk about it more, hopefully, towards the end of next year,” said Huang.

Nokia Lumia 800 Comes with Fast Facebook Photo Sharing

One of the appealing features that Nokia's first Windows Phone arrives on shelves with its the social networking integration, which offers users the possibility to easily stay on top of what is happening on Facebook or Twitter, and also to update statuses or share content with their friends while on the go. 

Courtesy of Facebook integration, the Nokia Lumia 800 is capable of easily pushing a photo that was just snapped to the social networking site, for all friends and family to see it.

Nokia came up with a video to show you how this can be done, and the video is available above for your viewing pleasure.

As Nokia puts it, “this video talks about the Facebook integration and how easy it is to take a photo, tag it and share with your friends on Facebook.”

Office on Windows Phone Mango Video Demo

One of the reasons that Windows Phone will make inroads into the existing territory of rival mobile platforms is related to the level of integration it delivers with traditional desktop and server technologies from Microsoft. 

This also includes the Office productivity suite, and the software giant made an excellent move when it made the Office hub a key part of Windows Phone.

The Office hub is essentially an out-of-box Windows Phone app, which lets users work with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote documents, and take advantage of a range of additional capabilities such as Cloud storage and synchronization.

Watch the video embedded at the top of this article in order to get an idea of just what the Office hub on Windows Phone Mango is capable of.

Windows 8 Internationalization Efforts Expanded

Microsoft has expanded the efforts designed to internationalize the next major iteration of the Windows operating system, especially around terminology defining the evolution the platform’s evolution. 

The software giant is doing it again, but this time around for no less than 23 languages on top of the initial four corresponding to the countries above.

“A few weeks ago we asked speakers of Chinese Simplified, Japanese, German and French help us translate the planned, new terminology in Windows 8. We got some brilliantly creative suggestions and insightful comments that will help us get the language experience just right in Windows 8,” revealed Microsoft’s Palle Petersen.

“We are now looking for feedback or alternative suggestions for another 23 languages (…).Some of the trickier terms include charms, apps, speed bump, thumb keyboard and many more.”

Start Screen and Tiles are also among the terminology for which Microsoft is accepting suggestions from users around the world.

I included a complete list with all 23 new languages that the company is focusing its Windows 8 terminology translation efforts at this point in time.

“It just takes a few simple steps to get started. Click your language [below], sign in with your Windows Live account and follow the simple one-off forum registration (no code needed),” Petersen said.

“Click the Glossary link and from there you will see the list of English source terms and our preliminary suggestions to help you along. Then it’s just a case of, for each term, deciding if you like the suggestions provided by selecting Suggest a Translation or Vote.”

According to Petersen, Microsoft will accept Windows 8 terminology translation suggestions only for the next 10 days, until November 21, 2011.

Here is the list of languages:

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

Intel Quad-Core Sandy Bridge Powered Asus N75 Gets Listed in Europe

Announced at the end of September, Asus' N75 multimedia notebook has now started to reach stores in Europe, various models making their appearance including a quad-core powered version that retails for 1,089€ ($1,487). 

The notebook is housed inside a chassis sketched by the same David Lewis who also drew the N73 and it comes with a 17.3-inch display sporting a Full HD resolution and an Asus ColorShine finishing.

Under the hood, the Asus N75SF-TZ110V model, which was spotted by Laptop Spirit, is powered by a quad-core Intel processor, the Core i7-2670QM, which comes clocked at 2.2GHz and is seconded by 6GB of system memory (upgradable to 8GB).

The fast Intel processor is paired with a discrete Nvidia GeForce GT 555M graphics core based on the GF106 architecture.

This features 144 unified shaders, a 590MHz GPU clock speed, and no less than 2GB of 900MHz DDR3 frame buffer.

The Nvidia GPU also includes support for the Optimus technology, which automatically switches between the integrated Sandy Bridge GPU and the discrete graphics in order to save battery life.

As far as storage is concerned, customers of this Asus notebook get a pair of 750GB hard drives with a spindle speed of 7200RPM, to provide them with a total 1.5TB of capacity.

The standard version of the N75 is configured with a DVD burner, but the N75SF-TZ110V version of the notebook upgrades this to a Blu-ray combo drive.

Apart from the usual connectivity features that find their way in most of today's notebooks, the N75 includes a pair of USB 3.0 ports as well as an HDMI 1.4 video output.

Just like the last year N-series models, the N75 is equipped with a Bang & Olufsen ICE Power high-fidelity audio sound system paired together with Asus' own SonicMaster technology.

Thermaltake Outs Smart Series PSUs with Single 12V Rail

Thermaltake, a company well renowned for its cooling solutions and power supply units, has just announced the release of a new series of PSUs under the Smart brand name, which is comprised of no less than seven new models.

The series features both modular and non-modular power supplies with ratings ranging from 430W to 730W, and include a single 12V rail.

Depending on the wattage of the PSU, Thermaltake's smart models can deliver between 34 and 56 Amps of current to the system.

As expected, the modular models are somewhat more advanced than their fixed-cable counterparts, so Thermaltake has installed a 140mm ultra-quiet cooling fan with RPM control in order to provide booth silent running and great cooling performance.

In addition, the modular cables are designed to be flat in order to improve airflow throughout the case, and the units also come with 80 Plus Bronze certification which guarantees that the PSUs can deliver up to 88% efficiency at 20-100% loads.

The non-modular Smart Series power supply units drop the 80 Plus Bronze certification of their older brothers in order to achieve lower production costs and are instead just 80 Plus compliant.

What this means is that under the same operating conditions as the modular Smart PSUs, these units can achieve only 86% efficiency, making them less economical in the long run.

Furthermore, these units also lose the 140mm fan used for the more advanced modular Smart models, and this was replaced with a regular 120mm fan.

Outside of the 80 Plus certifications, Thermaltake's power supplies are also compatible with the ErP Lot 6 standard.

The rest of the features list include and active PFC, Japanese made capacitors, industrial-grade protection circuits, and a wide variety of PCI Express connectors (both 6 and 8-pin) as well as with various SATA and MOLEX plugs.

No details regarding pricing were made public, but the power supplies should start making their way into stores soon.

Windows 7 SP1 Update Removes Fraudulent Digital Certificates That Could Allow Spoofing

Microsoft has issued an update designed to remove trust for two Intermediate Certificate Authorities (CA) certificates from DigiCert Sdn. Bhd.

DigiCert Sdn. Bhd, is a subordinate certification authority (CA) of Entrust and GTE, based in Malaysia, and the Redmond company provided a heads-up of this refresh as of the start of November 2011.

KB 2641690 is now available for download for users of all supported versions of Windows, including Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1).

Jerry Bryant, group manager, Response Communications Trustworthy Computing Group, revealed that the software giant also published Microsoft Security Advisory (2641690), offering users additional details about the transition of DigiCert Sdn.Bhd certificates to the Microsoft Untrusted Certificate Store.

“We made this decision after Entrust, Inc., a CA in the Microsoft Root Certificate Program, notified us that one of its subordinate CAs issued 22 certificates with weak 512 bit keys, a violation of Microsoft’s Root Certificate Program requirements,” Bryant said.

“At this time, there is no indication that the certificates were issued fraudulently but with this update, we are proactively protecting customers from potential issues.”

Deploying KB 2641690, Microsoft revokes the trust for the following intermediate CA certificates: Digisign Server ID – (Enrich) issued by Entrust.net Certification Authority (2048) and Digisign Server ID (Enrich) issued by GTE CyberTrust Global Root.

“There is no action for customers who have enabled Automatic Updates as the update, which applies to all supported versions of Microsoft Windows, will be downloaded and installed automatically,” Bryant noted.

It’s important to understand that customers running Windows need to deploy KB 2641690 as soon as possible in order to be protected against any eventual spoofing attacks, even though none have been identified just yet.

For those users that would much rather download and install KB 2641690 instead of waiting for the AU delivery, I included a list with all the downloads below:

VIA Outs Nano X2-Equipped Mini-ITX Board for HTPCs

Shortly after introducing a series of motherboards targeting the embedded device market, VIA has announced the release of the Nano X2-equipped VE-900 mini-ITX board which was specially developed for being used in media PCs.

VIA's latest creation is built around an 1.4GHz Nano X2 dual-core processor which is paired with the company's VX900 chipset including Chrome9 HD graphics and the ChromotionHD 2.0 video engine.

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.

Users have the option of pairing the Nano X2 processor with a maximum of 8GB of system memory that can be installed in two standard sized DDR3 sockets.

The rest of the expansion capabilities of the VIA boards include support for a single 32-bit legacy PCI add-on card, while storage devices can be connected to a pair of SATA 3Gbps ports.

On the rear I/O panel we see a basic set of connectors including four USB 2.0 ports, two PS/2 ports, an Ethernet connector, a COM port as well as 5.1 channel audio driven by a VT1708S HD audio codec.

A pair of D-Sub and HDMI video outputs are also provided, but sadly we don't get any USB 3.0 ports, even though these have pretty much become mainstream by now.

"November 6th marked the 10 year anniversary of the Mini-ITX form factor which spurred a revolution in the modding community," said Richard Brown, Vice President of Marketing, VIA Technologies, Inc.

"The VIA VE-900 delivers an affordable, high performance Mini-ITX mainboard that will spur a new wave of inspiration and innovation in the next generation of enthusiasts," concluded the company's rep.

The VE-900 motherboard should already be available from the company's distributors, but VIA hasn't disclosed any information regarding pricing.

Asus Unveils the P9X79 WS LGA 2011 Motherboard for Workstation PCs

When we pretty much though that we got acquainted with all the LGA 2011 motherboards that Asus want to launch a few days from now, the Taiwanese company has come out with a new image depicting the P9X79 WS, the company's second workstation board for Sandy Bridge-E processors after the Sabertooth X79.

On a first look, one would be tempted to believe that the P9X79 WS is nothing more than a slightly modified version of the P9X79 Deluxe that was revealed a short while ago.

However, when moving closer to this workstation motherboard, one gets to see that Asus made quite a few design changes starting with the cooling system, which now links all the VRM heatsinks to each other and also with the PCH heatspreader.

In addition, the expansion slot layout was also modified to feature no less than six PCI Express x16 slots, two of them working at full x16 speeds, while two other are limited at x8.

The speed of the remaining two PCIe x16 slots is not known, but the P9X79 WS is compatible with quad-GPU AMD CrossFireX and Nvidia SLI setups.

As far as storage is concerned, Asus' latest creation comes with four SATA 3Gbps ports and four SATA 6Gbps port, two of the latter being driven by a third party controller.

On the back of the P9X79 WS, Asus has installed all the usual ports and connectors including a pair of USB 3.0 ports, 7.1-channel audio with S/PDIF out, a FireWire port, and dual Gigabit Ethernet connectors driven by Intel NICs.

One of the USB 2.0 slots installed is colored white to mark the fact that this can be used for upgrading the motherboard's BIOS without a CPU, while two additional USB 3.0 ports are available through a on-board header.

Other features include a rear mounted Clear CMOS switch, support for a TPM module, and two internal COM ports.

No details regarding pricing were released yet, but SweClockers says the motherboard will arrive on November 14 together with the Sandy Bridge-E processors.

Intel Makes a Special CPU Just for Tablets

That Intel was working on the Medfield was something well enough known, but the company might just be refashioning its product plans in regards to the mobile market. 

It was just reported that the Santa Clara, California-based chip giant has decided to change its roadmap to include a processor specifically made for tablets.

This unit will supposedly be launched at some point next year (2012) while Medfield will be specialized on handsets and smartphones.

Intel had originally intended for Medfield to cover slates as well, but for some reason or another it has changed its mind, assuming this report is accurate that is.

Naturally, Intel hopes to at least match ARM in terms of performance and TDP (thermal design power).

Within two years, smartphone and tablet x86 CPUs alike should have TDP ratings of no more than 10W.

It is quite likely that the appearance of the NVIDIA Tegra 3 Kal-El played a part in this reported move on Intel's part.

Though it had been hyped up for months, people, or some of them, were still skeptical about the platform's ability to rise up to it.

In the end, the Kal-El really did show up on time and left quite a few jaws dropped through game demos.

The other thing to consider is that Microsoft's Windows 8 will support the ARM architecture, which means that Intel no longer has the advantage of said OS only handling x86 units.

As such, it makes a fair amount of sense that it would develop a chip specifically geared towards slates, even as it tries its best on the smartphone and handset front as well.

The continuous advancement of chip manufacturing processes will go a long way towards allowing Intel to meet those power consumption requirements. All it has to do now is progress fast enough to match ARM in a timely fashion.

EVGA Superclock CPU Cooler Gets LGA 2011 Mounting Kit

With the launch of Sandy Bridge-E quickly approaching, more and more manufacturers hurry to make their products compatible with Intel's upcoming processor and the latest to do so is EVGA which has released a mounting kit for its Superclock CPU cooler.

Launched at the end of May, the EVGA Superclock is a re-branded version of the Swiftech built Polaris 120, which has received an all black heatsink paintjob and a new LED fan.

This fan measures 120mm in diameter and it can provide up to 84CFM of airflow at its maximum rotation speed of 2500RPM, while at its slowest speed (750RPM) EVGA states it produces 26CFM.

The airflow generated is then directed through two separate air channels, which are specially designed to first cool the hottest of the Superclock's heat pipes.

These are five in number and all of them measure 8mm in diameter and use the Direct Touch technology.

What this basically means is that the heat pipes are touching the CPU's heatspreader in order to maximize the amount of heat that is passed to the heatsink.

Thanks to this design that is becoming increasingly popular among CPU cooler manufacturers, EVGA states that its Superclock can be up to 20 degrees cooler in full load than Intel's Core i7 stock cooler (the CPU used for this comparison is a 900-series model, not a Sandy Bridge-E SKU).

The LGA 2011 mounting bracket is available as we speak from EVGA's online store and has a recommended price of $9.99 (7.3 EUR).

This adds to the $49.99 (roughly 36.7 EUR) base price of the EVGA Superclock, which is compatible with Intel's and AMD's motherboards, including models that feature the LGA 1155, LGA 1366 or AM2+/AM3 sockets.

iOS 5.0.1 Fixes Passcode Lock Bug

Apple acknowledges in a Support document that a person with physical access to a locked iPad 2 can access some of the user's data, if the right tricks are performed. The issue was discovered weeks ago, and is now fixed in the latest iOS software update.

As promised, Apple not only patched the battery drain issues for iOS 5 customers, the company also fixed a security bug with iPad 2 tablets where a person could use the Apple Smart Cover accessory (or a simple magnet) to gain access to the last-run app.

Apple’s description says that “When a Smart Cover is opened while iPad 2 is confirming power off in the locked state, the iPad does not request a passcode. This allows some access to the iPad, but data protected by Data Protection is inaccessible and apps cannot be launched.”

However, the intruder can and will gain at least 'visual' access to the last activity performed on the iPad, whether it was email, web browsing, IM chatting, etc.

A Kernel issue has been patched as well. Available for iOS 3.0 through 5.0 for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, iOS 3.1 through 5.0 for iPod touch (3rd generation) and later, iOS 3.2 through 5.0 for iPad, iOS 4.3 through 5.0 for iPad 2, the flaw is dangerous as it will allow an application to execute unsigned code.

It was discovered and demoed by none other than Charlie Miller of Accuvant Labs, who got himself kicked out of the Apple Developer program for this.

“A logic error existed in the mmap system call's checking of valid flag combinations. This issue may lead to a bypass of codesigning checks. This issue does not affect devices running iOS prior to version 4.3,” reads Apple’s description.

It’s still unclear why Apple had to go as far as to pull Miller’s iOS app and license. But hey, at least they’re crediting the man for discovering this flaw. Perhaps they could apologize properly by giving the man a job within Apple.

Download iOS 5.0.1 here (Free)

Parted Magic 11.11.11 Has Firefox 8.0 and Kernel 3.1

Patrick Verner announced today, November 11th, the immediate availability for download of the Parted Magic 11.11.11 Linux distribution for partitioning tasks.

Parted Magic 11.11.11 is a special edition, as it includes a new version system, and it had to be released in this special day. The new release is powered by a new Linux kernel and has lots of updated packages (see highlights for details).

"This version includes a new version system! What a nice day to roll it out. The kernel has been upgraded to Linux 3.1.0. Other major program updates include Firefox 8.0, GParted 0.10.0, ClamAV 0.97.3, gptfdisk 0.8.1, and File 5.09. Most of the work has gone into fixing smallish annoying issues and minor scripting errors." - said Patrick Verner in the release announcement.

Highlights of Parted Magic 11.11.11:

  • New version system;
  • Linux kernel 3.1.0;
  • GParted 0.10.0;
  • ClamAV 0.97.3;
  • GPT fdisk 0.8.1;
  • File 5.09;
  • Mozilla Firefox 8.0;
  • Fixed various issues;
  • Fixed minor scripting errors.

Download Parted Magic 11.11.11 right now via link provided below:

Nokia Champagne Emerges with Windows Phone 'Tango'

Nokia is gearing up for the release of new smartphones running under Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system, and one such device has just made an appearance into the wild, dubbed Champagne.

Apparently, the new device is based on a future flavor of Windows Phone, namely version 7.10.871, called Tango, at least this is what data from the “I’m a WP7” application shows, according to WPCentral.

Rumor has it that this would be the OS iteration that will enable the launch of Windows Phone handsets featuring LTE capabilities, supposedly set to be loaded on new Nokia devices as soon as next year, with one of these smartphones en route to AT&T.

At the same time, some suggested that Tango might open the door to the release of very low-end smartphones, and Champagne might be one of those, especially since Nokia promised cheap Windows Phones for the near future.

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