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Dec 9, 2011

AMD Next-Gen FX-Series CPUs to Arrive in Q3 2012 Says Report

For the third quarter of the following year, AMD seems to prepare the introduction of its next-generation FX-Series processor, code named Vishera, which is expected to make the transition to the Piledriver cores.

When compared with the first-generation Bulldozer cores, that are used for the current FX-Series processors, Piledriver is expected to bring a 10-15 percent increase in performance/Watt, as AMD revealed right after the launch of the FX-8150 & Co.

The added performance will come from IPC improvements like structure size increases (about one third of the total performance), and power optimizations that reduce the overall consumption of the CPU.

The latter will also enable AMD's Piledriver core to reach higher frequencies at a constant TDP.

As Fudzilla reports, Vishera CPUs will continue to be manufactured by GloFo using the 32nm process and will include 4 Piledriver modules for a total of eight processing cores, which is less than the 10-core that were expected from the now canceled Komodo chips.

The good news is that Vishera will use the same AM3+ socket as AMD’s FX-Series processors available right now, which means that current motherboards should be compatible with these chips, after a BIOS update.

Those on the lookout for a new motherboard, will also have the option of pairing Vishera with the upcoming AMD 1090FX chipset that will gain native USB 3.0 support.

Other details about these chips are not available at this point in time, but AMD has revealed previously that after Piledriver it will continue to update the performance of Bulldozer on a yearly basis.

This means that the 2013 Steamroller is expected to deliver between 10 to 15 percent better performance per Watt than Piledriver, while the 2014 Excavator will increase this advantage even more. While this definitely sounds good, we’ll have to wait and see how well can AMD keep up to its promise.

IMEC Demonstrates 10nm RRAM Cell

At this year’s IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM), IMEC has showcased a fully functional Resistive RAM (RRAM) cell measuring 10-nm by 10-nm, which the organization claims is the smallest such cell to be developed yet.

RRAM is one of the emerging technologies for nonvolatile memory to be researched by scientists and is believed to be a candidate for replacing NAND Flash technology in the scaling race to sub-10nm memories.

Current charge storage based Flash memory technologies are believed to face scaling limitations beyond 18nm.

RRAM is based on the electronic switching of a resistor element material between two stable (low/high) resistive states. The major strengths of RRAM technology are its potential density and speed.

The RRAM cell showcased by IMEC (Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre) has an area of less than 10x10nm (100 square nanometers) and has demonstrated an endurance of more than 10^9 (1 billion) cycles.

When developing its RRAM cell, IMEC has focused on using hafnium/hafnium-oxide as the switching material which is placed between conventional contacts in a cross bar array, as Semi Accurate reports. The contacts are made of titanium-nitride.

These results were obtained in cooperation with IMEC’s key partners in its core CMOS programs which include GlobalFoundries, Intel, Micron, Panasonic, Samsung, TSMC, Elpida, Hynix, Fujitsu and Sony.

IMEC hasn’t said when it expects these RRAM cells to enter into test production, or when it expects memory manufacturers to start using this type of memory.

In June of this year, an institute in Singapore also announced its plans to develop a RRAM prototype with a capacity of 16-kbit as well as controller chip for this kind of memory, but so far no other news regarding the progress of these prototypes was released.

AMD Radeon HD 7800 Pitcairn Set for February, 2012

With the end of the year drawing nigh, and as CES 2012 approaches, the web somehow gets a hold of more and more info on what NVIDIA, Intel and, in this case, AMD has planned. 

This isn't more information about what exactly AMD's decision to no longer compete with Intel implies.

Instead, some details on one of the Radeon HD graphics products have emerged.

We already wrote about a Tahiti HD 7900 and how it was caught on photo working in a dual-card crossfire setup.

Now, a report offers something on the card, or cards, that will reach the market soon after the Tahiti does.

Codenamed Pitcairn, the Radeon HD 7800 series board, or boards since there are two of them, will show up in February next year (2012).

More precisely, Pitcairn will be formally unleashed during the week of February 20, right after the Chinese New Year.

The two cards are probably going to bear the names of Radeon HD 7850 and Radeon HD 7870.

The former will be priced at $199 (148.69 Euro) while the latter will sell for $299 (223.41 Euro).

For the sake of comparison, these are the same price points of the similarly endowed Radeon HD 4800 graphics cards.

All things considered, Advanced Micro Devices is doing its best to preserve the rhythm of graphics card releases, where new products are periodically launched that have the same prices as the ones they replace but better overall performance.

NVIDIA will be doing something similar, so there is bound to be just as much, if not more, competition next year.

After Pitcairn, AMD may launch a new dual-GPU flagship to replace the Radeon DH 6990, during CeBIT, in March.

Logic suggests the name of HD 7990, but that is still unconfirmed, just like the rest of this report for that matter.

Intel to Retire More LGA 1156 CPUs in 2012

Intel continues to make room in its product lineup for new processors based on the Sandy Bridge architecture and recently announced that 2012 will mark the retirement of several LGA 1156 CPUs, including the Core i7-870.

The chip maker has announced its decision through a series of Product Change Notification (PCN) documents and this covers no less than seven Core i7, i5 and i3 chips as well as two Pentium processors.

These are the Core i3-540, the Core i5-650, i5-660, i5-670, and i5-680 as well as the Core i7- 860 and i7-870, while the Pentium processors in question are the Pentium G6950, and G6960.

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

Outside of the two Core i7 parts, all the other i5 and i3 SKUs are based on the Clarkdale architecture which was introduced in January of 2010 during the CES fair.

These were Intel’s first processors to be built using the 32nm fabrication process and also featured a new design approach that included both the PCI Express controller and the memory controller as well as a graphics core inside the processor.

The GPU is placed on a separate die built using the 45nm production node and it connects to the processor via the chip's memory interface.

Intel hasn't mentioned any replacements for the discontinued products, but currently there are plenty of other options from which users can choose from.

In related news, just two days ago, the Santa Clara chip maker also announced that 2012 will mark the retirement of the P55, H55 and H57 chipsets supporting the LGA 1156 socket.

AMD Radeon HD 6000 First to Get DisplayPort 1.2 Certification

It wasn't enough that the AMD Radeon HD 6990 graphics card was the fastest in the world, the item appears to have gained AMD some more recognition, this time from VESA.

The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) just named the dual-GPU card the first to achieve DisplayPort Version 1.2 certification.

In other words, it has complete support for the 5.4 Gbps HBR2 (High Bit Rate 2) data link rate, which doubles the maximum data transfer rate to 21.6 Gbps.

This allows for a higher maximum video and audio performance (better resolution, color depth, refresh rate, etc.).

“As we continue to expand the capabilities of the DisplayPort standard and add benefits for the end user, we are simultaneously increasing the value of device certification for our members,” said Bill Lempesis, executive director of VESA.

“We look forward to the support and promotion of more certified devices while encouraging others to participate in the compliance program.”

In addition to HBR2 data link rate, the Radeon HD 6990 gained multi-stream transport (MST) and Full High Definition (HD) 3D stereoscopic display support.

The certification was granted by Granite River Labs, a Santa Clara, California-based VESA DisplayPort Authorized Test Center (ATC).

“Being part of the first DisplayPort 1.2 Source device certification is a significant milestone for us,” said Mike Engbretson, chief technology engineer of Granite River Labs.

“We’re thrilled to be at the epicenter of increasing momentum for DisplayPort 1.2 certification in Silicon Valley. By providing a full suite of DisplayPort product testing, we’re aiding in the adoption of DisplayPort worldwide. We will continue to contribute to the compliance testing program for DisplayPort 1.2 as it gains more and more traction as an industry standard.”

Go to the official product page of the monstrous graphics card to learn more about it. The price is of around $720 for those who want to buy it (537 Euro, give or take).

Kingston HyperX Reaches DDR3-3600MHz, Sets New Memory World Record

Only a few days after Corsair announced that it achieved a new DDR3 world record with their Dominator GTX6 memory series, Kingston with the help of the guys from Lab 501 took this WR to a whole new level surpassing the previous result with a cool 133MHz data rate.

We was there during this world record attempt and we had some great time seeing how Matose from Lab 501 obliterated the previous result achieved by Corsair.

Even more impressive was that Matose surpassed the previous WR while keeping the HyperX memory at tighter timings than those used by Jake "Planet" Crimmins.

The difference isn’t huge as we are talking about CL10 vs. CL11, but as most of you probably know lowering timings while also managing to achieve high memory clocks is extremely difficult in practice.

The platform used for reaching this new world record was also based on AMD’s FX-8150 processor paired together with an Asus ROG Crosshair V Formula motherboard, a combo that seems to deliver a huge overclocking potential to enthusiasts.

The Kingston memory used was a HyperX T1 1024MB stick (the WR was achieved in single channel mode) and just like the CPU this was also cooled with liquid nitrogen.

This extreme cooling solution had to be used since the DDR3-3600 frequency required Matose to push 1.95v through the HyperX memory, while the CPU NB voltage was set at 1.625v.

As with the previous world records set by AMD's FX-8150 processor only one of the four modules present in the chip was active during these overclocking tests.

The result has been validated (available here) and also submitted to HWBot (link here).

In addition to the impressive DDR3-3600 WR, Kingston HyperX memory and the guys from Lab501 also managed to establish, during the same event, the world record for CL9 and CL8 timings by reaching 1739.8MHz and 1637.5MHz (DDR3-3479 and DDR3-3275).

Zalman Enters Graphics Card Business, Starts Building AMD Radeon Solutions

Korean cooling specialist Zalman known primarily for its cooling solutions and cases has now decided to enter into the graphics card business as an AMD add-in board (AIB) partner and already announced a few mainstream solutions based on Radeon HD designs.

While definitely surprising, Zalman’s move actually makes a lot of sense as the company’s coolers were already used by many AIBs for their graphics cards.

This greatly simplified Zalman’s entrance into the market as it can outsource its printed circuit boards (PCBs) from other companies such as PC Partner, Hightech Information Systems, or TUL and then add its cooling solutions on top of these.

As Overclockers.ua has managed to find out, Zalman’s initial graphics card lineup will be comprised of three solutions.

Two of these solutions are based on AMD’s Barts core used for the Radeon HD 6870 and Radeon HD 6850, while the third is a Radeon HD 6770 graphics card built using AMD’s rebranded Juniper XT GPU that made its debut in the HD 5770.

Despite the custom coolers added by Zalman, all three solutions are using AMD’s reference clocks for both the GPU and the memory, so these should perform on par with other similar stock-clocked solutions.

No info is available at this time regarding the availability of these video cards, but the source did manage to uncover the prices of the three Zalman creations.

The cheapest of the three graphics cards, the Radeon HD 6770 is priced at $124 (92.7 EUR), while the Radeon HD 6850 and HD 6870 will retail for $168 and $190, respectively (125.6 and 142 EUR).

It remains to be seen how well Zalman will fare in the competitive graphics card market, but the company sure has the right background for making a good impression.

Symbian Belle for Nokia N8 Comes “Early Next Year” (UPDATED)

Nokia N8 is one of the smartphones that were supposed to be the Finnish company’s flagship smartphone for quite a while. However, the smartphone was replaced after a year by Nokia N9, on a limited base, and more recently by the Lumia 800.

Initially launched with Symbian^3 on board, the N8 received a major software update back in October, so most owners should now have Symbian Anna installed on their devices.

Unfortunately, this is not enough for an ex-flagship device that has the hardware, but not the software to compete with other smartphones in its price range.

Even though the phone’s beastly 12-megapixel camera is one of the best in the market, the 680 MHz processor can barely keep up with today’s modern handsets.

Although Nokia is determined to change the old and totally unattractive software that is still included with the N8, the company has yet to reveal any details concerning any upcoming updates.

Oh well, if we don’t have any official statements yet coming from Mr. Elop himself, which seems to talk Windows Phone only, we’re going to get information through other channels.

In this regard, it looks like Nokia UK shed some light on the Symbian Belle launch timeframe. Responding to a Nokia N8 owner the company said that Nokia N8 will receive the long-awaited Symbian Belle update next year: “Symbian Belle will be out early next year.”

Obviously, even after the deployment of the Symbian Belle update on the Nokia N8, the smartphone won’t suddenly become one of the most appealing devices launched by Nokia.

Still, Symbian Belle is meant to compensate all those faithful Nokia fans that got themselves the N8 despite the fact that Android and iOS currently offer the best mobile platforms on the market.

We will update with fresh info as soon as Nokia comes forward with more details on the Symbian Belle update for the Nokia N8.

UPDATE: The folks over at AllAboutSymbian received a somewhat official statement on the matter which confirms that Symbian Belle will be rolled out in early 2012 for all Symbian Anna smartphones:

"We will make Nokia Belle available to consumers globally by rolling out the Belle software for the existing Nokia range of smartphones such as N8, E7, X7, C6-01, C7, Oro, E6, and Nokia 500 in early 2012. With that, millions of consumers around the world will get a totally fresh experience on their Symbian smartphone."

iPad 3 Specs Leaked in Japan - Device Is Thicker (Rumor)

A Japanese source with a mixed track record of predicting Apple’s upcoming products claims to have talked to an Asian supplier who is privy of the tech specs pertaining to the Apple iPad 3.

Specifically, Makotacara’s source says the next iPad has the same screen size as the current devices, but that it’s thicker.

While the original Apple Smart Cover accessories will fit, the source said, many third party cases - which also cover the back of the current-generation iPad - won’t.

The image produced by their connects seems to show an iPad 3 protective case, though the report fails to confirm what the object is exactly. Had it borne an Apple logo, one could be fooled it was the actual tablet computer.

We shouldn’t be particularly interested in these rather vague accounts, had it not been for an iLounge report that said pretty much the same thing last month.

The latter blog called its source ‘most reliable’ when it reported that Apple had a thicker iPad scheduled for March 2012.

The report noted that Apple’s third-generation tablet computer was roughly 0.7 mm thicker due to the twin light bar system needed for the higher resolution (Retina) display.

Unlike the more recent Japanese report though, the November rumor said something about a January unveiling.

Suffice to say few people know anything about the next version of the iPad, save for the engineers actively working on the device, and maybe the part manufacturers.

Foxconn, of course, must have received the blueprints already. Terry Gou’s ‘workshops’ are still used by Apple for the assembly of most iDevices.

It’s also worth pointing out that people with access to the latest iOS 5 betas have recently identified a number of designations that refer to unreleased iPads.

Specifically, the code names J1 and J2 were spotted inside code that clearly referenced upcoming versions of the tablet computer.

BlackBerry Milan First Photo Emerges – Elegant Slider with BlackBerry 10 OS

Shortly after BlackBerry London’s first photo made headlines last month, a new BBX (BlackBerry 10) smartphone emerged, which clearly shows that RIM is not yet ready to get rid of the thing that made it so popular among mobile phone users, the traditional QWERTY keyboard.

The folks over at CrackBerry published the first image of BlackBerry Milan, one of the BlackBerry 10 smartphones that appeared in RIM’s roadmap for the 2012.

Although details on the phone’s specs sheet are slim to say the least, from what we can see in the picture there’s no doubt that Research In Motion will keep the QWERTY keyboard, but it will add its phones some of the functionality offered by large touchscreen display.

Sources close to the matter told CrackBerry that all the upcoming BlackBerry 10 smartphones that will be announced next year will be packed with stunning displays with “higher pixel density than iPhone 4’s retina screen.”

RIM has enough time to tweak its next generation QNX-based devices, but from what we noticed the BlackBerry Milan is built with the PlayBook in mind, which means there are no physical or touch-sensitive buttons other than the standard QWERTY keyboard.

There’s no optical trackpad either which probably means that the whole control is based on bezel gestures.

Design-wise, the BlackBerry Milan is stylish and elegant. The upper part features rounded corners, while the bottom lower part features sharper edges, which strongly resemble the BlackBerry Porsche Design P’9981.

The capacitive touchscreen will probably have at least 4-inch and, hopefully, it will boast HD resolution.

Obviously, there’s no word on the phone’s release date, but it may be introduced alongside the other QNX-based device that leaked last month, the BlackBerry London.

In fact, there’s a high chance that RIM will announce some of its upcoming BlackBerry 10 devices sometime in Q1 2012, probably at CES 2012 or MWC 2012. Stay tuned for more updates on the subject.

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