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Dec 7, 2011

RIM Launches BlackBerry Mobile Conferencing 2.0

Research In Motion has just announced that a new version of BlackBerry Mobile Conferencing is now available for download from App World. BlackBerry Mobile Conferencing 2.0 brings lots of new features and enhancements in comparison with previous versions of the application.

Popular among business users, the application automatically turns an email thread into a conference call with the help of the user’s conference bridge details.

In addition, BlackBerry Mobile Conferencing can dial multiple conference call numbers that, a conference ID and other codes, with a simple one-click. It also tries to reconnect automatically any dropped call from the conference.

According to RIM, the new version of the application comes with BlackBerry Calendar, which enables users to schedule and join conference calls directly from within the Calendar much easier.

“BlackBerry Mobile Conferencing is an essential app for anyone who sets up or joins conference calls. This latest version of BlackBerry Mobile Conferencing includes a number of enhancements such as the ability to turn any email thread into a conference call automatically, making it even easier for BlackBerry users to get things done,” said Tom Goguen, vice president, collaboration and social networking at Research In Motion.

Furthermore, BlackBerry Mobile Conferencing 2.0 provides users with the possibility to keep moderator codes private and send conference invites using a preset conference profile that includes limited info.

There’s also the option to add preset conference call details to almost any meeting scheduled by simply selecting from up to ten pre-defined profiles.

BlackBerry Mobile Conferencing 2.0 is available as a free download from BlackBerry App World and is fully compatible with BlackBerry smartphones running BlackBerry 5 operating system and up.

However, business customers can automatically push the app to their users via BlackBerry Enterprise Server. The application seems to be available only in North America for the moment, but hopefully it will soon reach other regions as well.

Intel Plans to Retire Several Sandy Bridge LGA 1155 CPUs in 2012

Intel has just announced its plans to retire five Sandy Bridge LGA 1155 CPUs released earlier this year from its product lineup, including three Pentium processors and two second generation Core models built using the 32nm fabrication node.

The chip maker announced its decision through a Product Change Notification (PCN) document which says that market demand for these chips has shifted to other Intel products.

The processors affected are the Core i5-2300 and Core i3-2100T, both tray and boxed, as well as the Pentium G840, G620 and G620T.

Customers can place orders for these chips until June 29 of 2012. The last shipments of tray Core i5-2300 and Core i3-2100T will be sent towards customers on December 7, 2012, while boxed CPUs will be shipped as long as supplies last.

Both the Core i5-2300 and the Core i3-2100T were part of the first Sandy Bridge chips released by Intel at the start of 2011 when the architecture became official.

As far as the three Pentium CPUs announced are concerned, these also represented a first for the chip makers as they were its premier Pentium-branded models to be built on the Sandy Bridge architecture, when they were introduced back in Q2 of 2011.

Since their arrival however, Intel kept releasing new Sandy Bridge parts that have improved upon the specs of these early second-generation Core and Pentium CPUs, making them obsolete.

In addition, in 2012 Intel will introduce a new series of processors based on the Ivy Bridge architecture so it needs to make room in its lineup for these upcoming SKUs.

After the Core i5-2300 and the Core i3-2100T will be retired from Intel’s lineup, their place will be taken by the i5-2310 and i3-2120T, both of these coming with 100MHz higher clocks than their current counterparts.

The three Pentium models will be replaced by the Pentium G850, Pentium G630 and Pentium G630T, respectively.

EVGA’s X79 FTW LGA 2011 Motherboard Now Available in Retail

Introduced in mid-November, EVGA’s X79 FTW motherboard for Intel’s Sandy Bridge-E processors using the LGA 2011 socket has now become available in retail with pricing being set at $399.99 which roughly translates into 299 EUR.

The X79 FTW is one of EVGA’s most advanced motherboards based on the Intel X79 chipset, is only surpassed by the XL-ATX Classified, and uses the EATX form factor in order to provide users with 3-way SLI support.

Graphics cards can be installed in the five PCI Express x16 slots available, which are accompanied by an additional PCIe x1 slot for less pretentious add-on cards.

The rest of the expansion options include support for two SATA 6Gbps and four SATA 3Gbps drives, while on the rear I/O panel users will find other two extra eSATA connectors.

These are accompanied by no less than eight USB 3.0 ports driven by a VIA Labs controller, two Gigabit NIC’s, 8 channel audio with S/PDIF out, a Bluetooth transmitter and a connector for EVGA's EVBot.

Two additional USB 3.0 ports are available through an on-board header, so the X79 FTW is definitely a motherboard that isn't lacking in this department.

Power to the board is provided via two 8-pin CPU power connectors and an angled 24-pin power plug, and throughout the motherboard EVGA has used only POSCAP capacitors.

This is just one of the features meant to improve overclocking on the X79 FTW, as the board also includes a series of DIP switches for disabling each one of the five Gen 3 compliant PCI Express x16 slots installed and DIMM sockets, a rear panel Clear COMS button as well as the usual on-board Power and Reset buttons.

Right now, the motherboard is only available from EVGA’s website, but we’re expecting it to make its appearance in retailer’s stock in the not so distant future.

Broadcom Makes Bluetooth Device Batteries Run for 10 years

If anything can put a dent in the appeal of a wireless peripheral, it is how they tend to run out of power at the worst moments, since it is always a bad moment when they are in use.

Broadcom means to make this problem go away through its latest invention.

What the company did was create a special Bluetooth chip that uses so little energy that a single battery charge will last for years.

In other words, Bluetooth keyboards (and a lot of other things too) will go on for a long, long time without having to be recharged, or getting their batteries changed.

Certainly, the maximum lifespan will depend on the quality of the batteries as well.

For those who want some numbers, Broadcom envisions a period of about ten years without the keyboard needing a recharge or battery change.

The BCM20730, as the chip is called, doesn't only do that either.

For one, it is one of the first items to use the Bluetooth 4.0 standard, the one that also promises better battery performance, even though the benefit comes at the price of transfer speed.

The 260 Kbps is not precisely impressive, and might not actually be enough, or ideal anyway, for a wireless keyboard.

On the flip side, Bluetooth 4.0 does possess a much lower latency from idle to active state.

Furthermore, the Broadcom BCM20730 is backwards compatible with other Bluetooth standards and emulates a USB HID device.

Finally, it boasts the ZeroTouch configuration technology and an ARM Cortex M3 SoC (system-on-chip) which handles the processing usually done by third-party chips in wireless devices.

In addition to keyboards, the solution will work with 3D glasses, wireless game controllers, mice and various other things.

Now we just have to wait and see if battery life concerns really do become a thing of the past. Hopefully, it won't take overmuch for a practical implementation to appear.

Intel to Discontinue P55, H55 and H57 LGA 1156 Chipsets

The days of Intel’s LGA 1156 socket are numbered since the Santa Clara-based chip maker announced recently that at the end of next year it plans to retire three of its most widely spread desktop chipsets that support this platform.

The chipsets in question are the P55 Express, the H55 Express and the H57 Express, the first one of these being launched in September of 2009 while the two other solutions were made official in Q1 of 2010.

Intel announced its decision through a Product Change Notification (PCN) document which revealed that the last orders for these chipsets can be placed on June 29, 2012.

Intel will continue to manufacture the controllers even after that date and the last shipments of P55, H55 and H57 will leave the company’s fabs exactly in a year from now, more precisely on December 7, 2012.

The P55 was the first of Intel’s chipsets to use the PCH (Platform Controller Hub) design, which replaced the traditional Northbridge and Southbridge setup used for past motherboard with a unified chip.

This was possible since, with the introduction of its first LGA 1156 processors, Intel moved some of the logic found in the Northbridge (such as the PCI Express controller) to the CPU itself, making the design of a single chip motherboard controller much simpler.

The H55 Express and H57 Express used this same architecture as the P55, but compared to their older brother these allow consumers to use the integrated graphics found inside select LGA 1156 CPUs.

In related news, Intel released another PCN earlier today that announced its plans to retire five LGA 1155 Sandy Bridge processors launched in the first half of the year, including two second-generation Core parts and three Pentium SKUs.

Core i7-3667U and i5-3427U Are Intel’s 2012 Ultrabook CPUs

For Intel, 2012 will mark the introduction of its 22nm Ivy Bridge architecture and among all the CPU models to be included in this series two particularly interesting chips are the Core i7-3667U and i5-3427U.

These are of course destined to be used in Ultrabooks and as such have a TDP of just 17W making them highly efficient in terms of power consumption.

But outside of their low TDP, the two U-Series Ivy Bridge chips also have some other tricks up their sleeves such as an Intel HD 4000 built-in GPU, two computing cores with Hyper-Threading support as well as Turbo Boost support.

Furthermore, as VR-Zone reports even their operating clocks are set at an impressive 2.0 and 1.8 GHz with Turbo Boost raising these frequencies up to 3.2GHz and respectively 2.8GHz.

The only downside is that we’ll have to wait until May of 2012 or so to get our hands on an Ultrabook sporting one of these two mobile powerhouses.

Nokia Lumia 900 and Champagne Spotted Once More

Nokia already made its first handsets running under Windows Phone available for purchase in various markets around the world, and info on new devices from the company has just started to emerge. 

Among these, we can mention Nokia Lumia 900, the high-end device that emerged on the web a few times before, along with another handset from the company, codenamed Champagne.

Both smartphones were spotted in the stats of a news reader available for the Windows Phone platform, namely Times Of India, which clearly indicates that they are powered by Microsoft’s mobile OS.

What the app stats show is that Nokia Lumia 900 users have accessed the software, indicating that the device might be in field testing at the moment.

If so, then we might see the mobile phone going official in early 2012, maybe in January at CES, or next month at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Rumored specs for the device would include a large 4.3-inch touchscreen display, along with a 1.4 GHz single-core application processor, an 8MP camera on the back 16GB of internal memory, and support for HSPA+ networks.

The handset was already rumored to be on its way to the market during the first quarter of the next year, and chances are that the rumor might actually pan out.

In Q1 2012, Microsoft also plans on making its Nokia Lumia 800 and Lumia 710 available in more markets around the world, and Latin America is a market that should receive them at that time.

Stephen Elop recently confirmed plans to have the two smartphones available in some of the South American markets in early 2012, including Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico or Puerto Rico.

Nokia released these devices only in a few markets this year, and should bring them to more countries soon, including the aforementioned ones, and some others more, as it kicks off mass production of these smartphones.

Universal USB Cable Fits Every iPhone, iPad, iPod

The people at Innergie have come up with a cool accessory that should eliminate some of your wire-caused clutter by building three USB connections into one. Care to see how they did it? Read on.

The idea pretty simple (though I’m sure it’s not as easy to envision without seeing it done first). It's an interchangeable USB charging cable with multiple tips that overlap one-another via a Russian Nesting Doll style connection.

The first two connections are micro-USB and mini-USB. The final connection is a 40-pin connector that matches your iPhone, iPod, or iPad. The ‘Magic Cable Trio’ is designed to charge everything from your mp3 player and GPS unit to your BlackBerry or iPhone handset. There’s a Duo version that sells for the same price ($19.99) and lacks mini-USB.

Visit Innergie here to examine it closer, or to place your order.

AMD Radeon HD 7690M Powered HP Envy 17 Notebook Spotted in Europe

Soon after AMD made official the Radeon HD 7000M-series of mobile GPUs, an European retailer has added to its offer a new version of the HP Envy 17 notebook that includes one of the graphics chips announced today.

The chip in question is the Radeon HD 7690M, which is the most powerful GPU to be introduced by AMD in its “new” product family.

As we have reported in our previous article detailing AMD’s HD 7000M-series, the 7690M is actually a rebranded Turks core that includes 480 stream processors, 24 texture units and 8 ROP units as well as a 128-bit wide memory bus.

In HP’s creation this is linked to 1GB of GDDR5 memory, but unfortunately we don’t know the exact frequency that the GPU or the memory are setup to run at.

Outside of the AMD Radeon HD 7690M graphics card, HP’s notebook also sports an Intel Core i7-2670QM processor with four computing cores clocked at 2.2GHz which is paired together with 6GB of DDR3 memory.

The fast Intel CPU is also accompanied by a 1TB hard drive, a Blu-ray combo optical drive, and the now mandatory 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Gigabit Ethernet connectivity.

As far as the available ports and connectors are concerned, HP paid close attention to this department and added to its creation no less than three USB 3.0 ports as well as an HDMI output, a multi-format card reader and an USB 2.0 port.

The 17.3-inch panel used by HP in the Envy 17 has a native resolution of 1920x1080 pixels.

Pricing for the HP Envy 17-3030ew is set at €1198,41 (about 1,603 US). Sadly, the Polish retailer who has listed this notebook in its offer doesn’t have it in stock and also doesn’t seem to know when the first units will actually arrive.

Windows 8 Beta in Late February, 500M Windows 7 Licenses Sold to Date

One of the details that Microsoft shared with the world when unveiling the new Windows Store was the fact that Windows 8 will be released in Beta in Late February 2012. 

Some of the latest rumors on the matter already suggested this, yet official confirmation arrived only yesterday during an event in San Francisco.

Of course, Microsoft kept mum on any detail on the upcoming Windows 8 milestone, and it appears that we’ll have to wait for CES to kick off in January to learn more on this.

In the meantime, however, we’ll have to rely on leaks to make an idea of what the Redmond-based company might have up its sleeve for us.

One major change from the currently available Windows 8 Developer Preview will be the availability of applications in the Windows Store, but there are some other changes as well for users to enjoy.

Leaked screenshots from some of the latest Windows 8 Builds show a series of tweaks brought to the Metro UI and to the Start Screen, complemented by a series of changes under the hood as well.

Windows 8 Beta is expected to replace the Control Panel with a new folder, PC Settings, and should also include some new features related to storage.

It would have a slightly modified Charms Bar as well, along with re-located date and time, now placed to the left side of the screen. Support for new finger gestures is also expected.

Of course, it should improve usability and stability as well when compared to the Developer Preview, not to mention that it will provide users with a taste of the first Metro-style applications.

While all these are expected to improve the experience of users owning touch-enabled Windows machines, they will not mean that much for desktop PC users.

Over 500 million Windows 7 licenses have been sold to date, Microsoft states, suggesting that there is a large user base to take into consideration when thinking upgrades.

Some would disagree, pointing out that people who just bought Windows 7 are less likely to upgrade to the new OS flavor, especially since Microsoft aims with it mainly at the tablet area.

AMD Fusion '12 Comes Together Next June

Advanced Micro Devices, like Intel, doesn't let the years go by without building upon or starting new collaborations with software makers, so it is already thinking of a certain event that will occur next year.

Between June 11 and June 14, 2012, the annual Fusion gathering will take place at the Meydenbauer Center and the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue.

“As the only provider of world-class APUs, GPUs and CPUs, AMD is leading advancement of heterogeneous computing and OpenCL, both of which have reached a tipping point as demand grows for new user interfaces and immersive computing experiences,” said Manju Hegde, corporate vice president, AMD Fusion Experience Program.

“AMD has a history of customer-driven innovation based on industry standards and AMD Fusion ‘12 will be the ideal place for developers, academics and innovators to collaborate around that software innovation.”

Like at Fusion '11, Fusion '12 will see hundreds of experts from the academic, corporate and government sectors.

The event will focus on next-generation software development and the AMD Fusion System Architecture (FSA).

APUs (Accelerated Processing Units) in particular will get attention, along with CPU and GPU technologies, plus programming interfaces like OpenCL, OpenGL, DirectCompute, C++ AMP, etc.

The gathering should net new ideas for browsers, cloud computing, gaming, consumer electronics, multimedia processing, security, programming tools, languages and models and professional graphics/visual computing.

“AMD exceeded my expectations with their AMD Fusion Developer Summit this past June,” said Jon Peddie, principal and founder, Jon Peddie Research.

“I saw an open and instructive exchange of ideas on software development, tools and APIs, free from the marketing hype that you get at many conferences.”

February 17, 2012 is the deadline for proposal submission, after which they will be reviewed by a summit board (researchers, practitioners and academics). The selected candidates shall be revealed on March 15.

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