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Dec 15, 2011

Intel Poulson Itanium CPU On Track for Q2 2012 Production

Despite all the controversy surrounding the Itanium architecture, Intel still hasn’t canceled its plans for the next-generation Poulson core, which according to a recent report should enter production in the second quarter of 2012.

Poulson is Intel's most complex general-purpose processor to date as it features 3.1 billion transistors inside a 588 square millimeter die (Sandy Bridge-E includes 2.27 billion transistors). 

Compared to the current Tukwilla, the chip doubles the number of cores available (from four to eight), packs a 12-instruction wide pipeline as well as a series of multithreading enhancements, and new instructions to take advantage of parallelism, especially in virtualization.

In addition, the chip features 54MB of total cache, including 32MB of shared L3 cache and according to CPU-World will also support the Instruction Reply Technology, which comes as an enhancement for RAS and allows the CPU to re-execute the current instruction if it detects an error during its execution.

The Hyper-Threading technology will also be present and this now gets support for dual-domain multithreading.

Just like its predecessor, Poulson will use the same CPU interface and chipsets as Intel's x86-based Xeon server processors while also retaining pin-compatibility with Tukwilla. However, the new architecture gets an upgraded QPI link that is now capable of reaching 6.4 GBps.

The chip is built using the 32nm fabrication process and, as a result, its die size is 20 percent smaller than that of previous Itanium CPUs.

No other information regarding clocks speeds of TDPs is available at this time, but more details should be unveiled once we get nearer to Poulson’s launch.

The Itanium CPU family is specially designed to be used in enterprise servers and high-performance computing systems and its competes directly with the SPARC architecture.

Nvidia GTX 780 Performance Estimates Surface

Many suppositions regarding Nvidia’s next-generation Kepler GPUs have come our way during this last week, but now an even more startling rumor has started circulating on the Web.

According to this, Nvidia’s upcoming solutions will be released into the GTX 700-series and, the top part, named the GTX 780, will be able to deliver a twofold increase in performance over the current GTX 580.

At the heart of these rumors, stands a slide that was recently published on a Chinese forum, which pretty much suggests that the GTX 780 will blow all its competitors out of the water.

It goes without saying that we doubt the authenticity of this slide as the performance increase seems too high from one generation to the other, but if indeed true than Nvidia has a winner on its hands.

For now, we can just wait and see how will things evolve, but I have a feeling that this graph will be proven to be fake in the not so distant future. 

AMD A8-3870K and A6-3670K Specs and Pricing Unveiled, Arrive on Dec 26

We pretty much knew about AMD’s plans to release the A8-3870K and A6-3670K multiplier unlocked Llano APUs for quite some time now, but a series of leaked company slides just arrived to reveal a bit more info about these upcoming processors.

The slides, which were published on the Donanim Haber website, seem like they were taken out of an official AMD presentation and describe in great detail the specifications of these APUs.

As we pretty much knew from other sources, the two processors greatly resemble their predecessors and feature just a slight frequency boost, making the A8-3870K work at 3GHz compared to the 2.9GHz of the A8-3850 it replaces.

A 100MHz clock increase is also what separates the 2.7GHz clocked A6-3670K from the A6-3650, as the rest of the specifications were left untouched by AMD.

This includes the built-in GPUs of the accelerated processing units, which feature the same 400 and respectively 320 stream processors clocked at 600MHz.

Together with the specifications of the A8-3870K and A6-3670K, the leaked slides also presented their performance in various scenarios, including gaming, compared to that of the Core i3-2120.

AMD will set the recommended pricing for the A8-3870K and A6-3670K at $135 (104 EUR) and $115 (89 EUR), respectively.

Their launch is scheduled for the second day of Christmas, December 26, when they will arrive together with the AMD FX-6200 we presented in a previous report.

Both of the new AMD unlocked A-Series APUs are already available for pre-order from Bottom Line Telecommunications where they sell for $121.50 (90.6 EUR) and $143.77 (107.25 EUR).

The unlocked multiplier design that AMD plans to introduce with the 3670K and 3870K will greatly improve their overclocking potential since the maximum FSB achieved by Llano APUs is severely limited at this point, mostly due the integrated graphics core.

VIA x86 Motherboards Get Android Support

Android is spreading its influence to parts of the worldwide IT market other than the mobile segment, with VIA, in this case, helping it along.

The Android operating systems is one of the most widely used software platforms in the world.

It is very often encountered on smartphones and has also become the OS of choice for many tablet makers.

That said, it is now gaining some presence on the embedded market, in no small part thanks to VIA.

More precisely, VIA just announced that its embedded x86 motherboards have begun to incorporate support for the Android operating system,

The first motherboard of this type is the EITX-3002, an Em-ITX product.

Being an embedded motherboard, it comes complete with a processor, specifically the VIA NANO X2 with a clock speed of 1.2 GHz.

At least, that is one of the options: VIA also allows for the choosing of the Eden dual-core model at 1 GHz.

Whichever CPU is selected is backed up by the VIA VX900 MSP (media system processor), which has, among other things, dual-screen and Full HD playback.

The resolutions of whatever screens are connected to the platform, and the overall performance of Android, should be better than the ones today and machines using it will have peripheral support, not just reliance on touchscreens.

Furthermore, VIA threw in an onboard DC-to-DC converter (supports both AT and ATX power modes), with a power input voltage range of 7V to 36V DC.

Other specifications include a bunch of ports (HDMI, VGA, two optional USB 3.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB 2.0 ports and two RS-232/422/485 configurable COM ports) and passive cooling.

With this product release, Android has cemented its position as operating system that is more than 'just' a mobile OS.

VIA's motherboard is meant to be used in kiosks, in-car entertainment systems, etc.

AMD Says It Started Shipping 28nm GPUs for Revenue

AMD has just officially announced that is has started shipping next-generation graphics cores fabricated using TSMC’s 28nm process technology for revenue, confirming rumors that suggested the company is getting ready to launch new GPUs at the start of next year.

"We are ramping 28nm [products] with TSMC in Taiwan and shipping the products here and now. 

“We are very excited about the products," said Rory Read, chief executive officer of AMD, during IT Supply Chain conference organized by Raymond James.

The company’s CEO hasn’t mentioned the names of these solutions, but he could be referring to the Tahiti GPU which is used for the company’s upcoming Radeon HD 7970 and HD 7950 solutions.

These have been previously rumored to launch on January 9, so Read’s announcement seems to confirm this date and leads Xbit Labs to believe that PC makers will start shipping Radeon HD 7000-series "Southern Islands" chips shortly after CES next month.

While no official information was provided by AMD, a recently leaked company slide has detailed the specifications of its highest performing single-GPU solution in the Radeon HD 7000 range.

The graphics card is called the Radeon HD 7970 and is built around the Tahiti XT core that includes 32 Compute Units for a total of 2048 streaming cores that operate at a 925MHz clock.

These seem to be accompanied by 128 texture units, 32 ROP units and by a 384-bit wide memory bus that is connected to 3GB of VRAM working at 1.37GHz (5.5GHz effective) to deliver 264GB/s of memory bandwidth.

The leaked slide also revealed that the TDP of the card is estimated at 300W, which isn’t a large departure from the Radeon’s HD 6970 250W rating.

More information regarding the Radeon HD 7900 product family should be available soon enough, so we’ll make sure to keep you up to date with how things evolve.

MSI X79A-GD45 (8D) Motherboard Supports 128 GB RAM

Micro-Star International decided this was a good time for a new flagship motherboard to be released, so it put together the X79A-GD45 (8D).

The new item is not precisely something that was designed from the ground up, so to speak.

Instead, this is a modification, of sorts, of another mainboard, one that has been on sale for a month or so.

More precisely, the X79A-GD45 (8D) is a slightly more powerful version of the X79A-GD45 revealed in November.

By stronger, it means that this motherboard has eight memory module slots instead of 'just' four.

In other words, as if 64 GB of RAM wasn't already more than enough, the MSI X79A-GD45 (8D) can handle the absurd DDR3 capacity of 128 GB.

The X79 chipset's support for quad-channel random access memory gets some of the blame for this one.

Moving on, the motherboard features three PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, two PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots and one PCI Express x1 slot.

Also, MSI threw in four USB 3.0 ports (two on the back, two through headers), 7.1 channel audio and all the other expected I/O and networking ports.

What really cements the product's status as top-tier hardware, though, is the range of overclocking elements.

The Click BIOS II (UEFI) and the OC Genie function (which overclocks the system) are just part of the equation.

The other half is made up of Military Class III components (DrMOS II, Hi-C CAP, Solid CAP, Super Ferrite Choke) which grant a stability, endurance and lifespan not seen most anywhere else on the motherboard industry.

Unfortunately, there was no word on how much money enthusiasts will have to fork up for this beast, though it probably won't be below 200 Euro ($260), seeing as how the X79A-GD45 sells for 195 Euro ($253).

BlackBerry Network Outage Hits Again - 12/15/2011

BlackBerry users who already experienced the outage that hit RIM services almost two months ago and have yet to switch to another mobile platform will probably be tempted to do so now.

It appears that all Blackberry services are down again, including BlackBerry Messenger and email. Although we received reports from Romania it is likely that the network outage affects more regions.

Any other application that requires data connection, including AppWorld is not accessible at this moment. In addition, the BlackBerry outage seems to affect Internet browsing as well.

We have contacted RIM for an official statement regarding this issue, but until we receive an answer we have no idea what region are affected at this moment.

If you're affected, let us know in the comments and make sure you state your location.

UPDATE: It appears that sevices has been restored, but any BBM message sent during outage has yet to reach destination. Lots of emails have started to arrive at once and Internet seems to work as well. Hopefully this is not a temporary situation.

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