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Dec 21, 2011

Nintendo Wii U Will Be Present at CES 2012

Nintendo has confirmed that it will be showcasing the Nintendo Wii U at the upcoming CES 2012 conference, but don’t expect the company to allow anyone to try it out, as the Nintendo mentioned that it will be available only for media members and no new content, besides the things shown at E3 2011, will be present.

The Nintendo Wii U was originally announced back in summer at E3 2011, when the Japanese company finally presented its new console, which should put it on equal footing with the likes of Sony or Microsoft, and their PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, respectively.

Since then, however, we haven’t heard lots of other details, besides a confirmation that the ‘final version’ of the device will be presented at E3 2012, leaving rumors about its actual hardware configuration to start popping up around the web.

Now, Nintendo has confirmed that it will be attending the CES 2012 show, in order to present the Wii U to media representatives who didn’t get a chance to try out six months ago.

"Nintendo of America, working with the 2012 International CES management, will offer demos of the upcoming Wii U console to members of the media who did not see the system at the 2011 E3 Expo," the company told Joystiq.

Unfortunately, the company also said that regular CES attendants won’t be able to try out, and media members won’t even get to see anything new, as Nintendo isn’t bringing any new experience besides the ones it already presented at E3.

"Nintendo will not have a booth at CES, nor does it plan to include any games, experiences or information beyond what was available at the 2011 E3 Expo," the company added.

As such, regular consumers should still make sure to attend next year’s E3 expo, if they want to check out the Nintendo Wii U before its possible released in the second half of 2012.

Llano Production Shortages May Be Over for AMD, Says Analyst

Ever since AMD has released its first A-Series APUs based on the Llano architecture, the chip maker has been facing production shortages that affected the market availability of these processors, but an analyst believes that these troubles are now over for AMD.

What makes the analyst believe that the shortage may be over is the fact that AMD has recently announced a new series of APUs that feature slightly higher operating frequencies than the parts they will replace.

"The new parts are basically speed bumps, and I am taking the fact AMD can ship faster versions of A-series chips as an indicator they may be able to improve their availability," said Nathan Brookwood, principal of Insight64 who was cited by EETimes.

"Retailers such as Newegg and Amazon couldn’t get their hands on early versions of the chips because they were so production constrained," continued the analyst.

The A-Series APU shortages that have been affecting AMD in these last few months were caused by GlobalFoundries since the latter has struggled to get its 32nm yields at the levels that AMD required it to.

GloFlo’s performance made Thomas Seifert, CFO and former interim CEO of AMD, comment at the end of September:

"Performance is not where it needs to be and we are driving them very hard to where we need them to be in order to continue to grow this partnership," concluded the company's rep.

Despite the improvements in chip production that Brookwood has mentioned, the analyst still believes that the competitive stance between AMD and Intel remains unchanged.

"Anyone focused on x86 performance at a given price point may find the Intel Sandy Bridge CPU cores outperform the AMD Llano cores which are the K10 cores that have been an AMD workhorse for a decade," said Brookwood.

ASRock Readies New Fatal1ty Motherboard Using Intel X79 Chipset

Not wanting to leave the Intel X79 gaming motherboard market entirely to Asus and Gigabyte, ASRock is developing a new Fatal1ty-series board for Intel’s LGA 2011 processors which is expected to come out in the next few weeks.

The motherboard in question is called the ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Professional and was developed in order to include features that will appeal to gaming fans all over, such as a Fatal1ty mouse port and support for 4-way CrossFireX and SLI setups.

As it’s the case with most other motherboards based on the Intel X79 chipset, ASRock’s Fatal1ty model also comes equipped with four DIMM sockets supporting quad-channel memory with speeds up to DDR3-2400.

Right to the left of the DIMM slots, users will find no less than four properly spaced PCI Express x16 slots, which are accompanied by two 32-bit PCI slots and by a single PCIe x1 slot.

As far as storage is concerned, ASRock decided to provide its customers with a total of 10 SATA ports, six of these running at 6Gbps speeds while the remaining four are SATA 3Gbps, according to TechPowerUp

The rest of the board layout is not too surprising for a flagship product and it carries the usual Power and Reset on-board buttons as well as a debug LCD and an additional MOLEX power plug for multi-GPU setups.

Moving to the back of ASRock's creation, users get the usual assortment of ports and connectors, including four USB 3.0 ports, 7.1-channel audio with both optical and coaxial S/PDIF out and a Clear CMOS button.

Two additional USB 3.0 ports are available through an on-board header placed between the seventh SATA 3Gbps port and the 24-pin ATX power connector.

No information regarding the price of the ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Professional is available, but the motherboard is expected to come out in November of this year.

AMD Radeon HD 7970 Benchmarks Make Appearance, Easily Surpasses GTX 580

Just a few more hours are left until AMD makes official the Radeon HD 7970, but for those of you not wanting to wait for the first reviews of the card to arrive you can now check out AMD’s own benchmarks for this GPU, which were just recently leaked on the Web.

The results are taken straight out of AMD’s “Benchmarking Guide” for the HD 7970 that is provided to receivers together with their test sample, and cover the performance of the card both in single and in CrossFireX setups.

This is then compared with the results achieved by the previous generation HD 6970 as well as to those of Nvidia’s GTX 580.

Needless to say, the Radeon HD 7970 comes out on top in all of these tests and even manages to provide palyable frame rates in the HD3D mode at 1080p resolution.

We have included some of these results in this article, but more at available here, where they have been uploaded by a user from the XtremeSystmes forum.

Even more impressive than the single-GPU performance of the HD 7970 is the CrossFireX scaling that AMD says its card can achieve, many titles showing a dual-GPU setup as being nearly two times faster than a single HD 7970.

AMD’s Radeon HD 7970 is based on the Tahiti XT core which is built using the company’s new Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture designed specifically to improve the compute performance of its cards.

This GPU includes 32 Compute Units, for a total of 2048 streaming cores, 128 texture units, 32 ROPs and a 384-bit wide memory bus which is linked to 3GB of video buffer working at 1.37GHz (5.5GHz effective). The GPU is clocked at 925MHz.

AMD is expected to make official the graphics card on December 22, with availability being scheduled for January 2012.

NVIDIA Enables ARM Supercomputers With Carma DevKit

NVIDIA did make it fairly clear it was going to milk the ARM cow for all it was worth and, sure enough, it now has what it claims will enable ARM supercomputers. 

The idea of ARM supercomputers may not be particularly appealing, but some sorts of computations could definitely do with a more energy efficient means of being carried out. 

Certainly, ARM chips don't support x64 (yet), but that does not mean that companies behind it aren't going to find some uses for it anyway. 

NVIDIA is one of those companies and has made its support crystal clear now that the Carma exists. 

Carma is a development kit for the easy creation of HPC applications that want both ARM computing prowess and parallel processing. 

It uses the Tegra 3 chip as the basis and, thus, has four ARM cores and an NVIDIA GPU. 

More specifically, the Carma is a quad-core with an NVIDIA Quadro 1000M GPU backing it up (the graphics has 96 CUDA Cores and 2GB GPU Memory). 

In addition, the platform has 2 GB of DDR3 RAM (random access memory) as well. 

Other features include four PCI Express Gen1 links, Gigebit Ethernet Network support, an USB connector, HDMI, Displayport and a SATA port. 

“Powered by a Tegra 3 quad-core ARM-based processor and an NVIDIA CUDA-enabled GPU, the CARMA DevKit is being developed to support energy-efficient HPC projects using ARM-based GPU computing. In fact, this technology will power the Barcelona Supercomputing Center’s ARM-based GPU supercomputer,” says Devang Sachdev on the NVIDIA blog. 

The DevKit is based on the Ubuntu iteration of the Linux operating system (OS) and has a Single Precision performance of 270 GFLOPS. 

Unfortunately, Carma does not support double precision computing, which is more or less crucial for HPC applications. 

Thus, the development kit could be good for research, but won't actually persuade people that CUDA on ARM is that incredible in supercomputers.


Nokia Belle UI Arrives on Existing Phones in February 2012

Two months from now, a wide range of Nokia mobile phone users will enjoy a new UI on their devices, the Nokia Belle, previously known as Symbian Belle. 

The Finnish mobile phone maker has just made the official announcement on this, and also confirmed the handsets that will receive it: Nokia N8, Nokia E7, Nokia E6, Nokia X7, Nokia C6-01, Nokia C7, and Nokia Oro.

The Nokia Belle user interface will be made available for download for these devices in February 2012, the company has just announced. 

Moreover, the leading handset vendor announced that the new platform UI will start shipping on new units of smartphones that are already available on shelves. 

“Launched earlier this year with Nokia 701, Nokia 700 and Nokia 603 smartphones, the UI has received lots of positive feedback from our customers,” Adam Fraser notes in a post on Nokia Conversations. 

He also explains that new flavors of Nokia N8, Nokia C7 and Nokia C6-01 have started to emerge on shelves in China with the new operating system on board. 

“For those already owning a Nokia N8, Nokia E7, Nokia E6, Nokia X7, Nokia C6-01, Nokia C7, and Nokia Oro, the wait for Nokia Belle is almost over,” he continues. 

“Starting in February 2012, Nokia will release the all new Nokia Belle software update to existing customers and you’ll be able to download it right on to your phone, bringing a whole heap of improved features.”

Some of the features and enhancements that the new Nokia Belle UI will bring along include more home screens for apps and widgets. There are six of them now. 

Moreover, Belle brings along some improved functionality for widgets. At the same time, Nokia has modified some of these widgets to ensure that users receive more information from them that what they used to receive in Symbian Anna.

Nokia N8 running on Symbian Belle

AMD Radeon HD 7900 Will Get Cheaper PCB Soon

Not all video card makers may want to stick to the precise design of the rapidly approaching video cards from Advanced Micro Devices and, luckily, AMD is already developing an alternative. 

AMD hasn't released the Radeon HD 7900 graphics card series. That will only happen tomorrow (December 22, 2011). 

That didn't stop leaks from revealing what the board and the PCB (printed-circuit board) looked like, though. 

In fact, we have already written about the matter in whatever detail we could, here

What is now coming to light are pictures of yet another PCB, belonging to the same cards. 

Specifically, it might end up belonging to the HD 7900 series as soon as it is finished and sent to AMD's partners. 

The photos showed up on the Asian side of the web show a more cost-accessible PCB for the high-end adapters. 

The first Radeon HD 7900 series will stick to the original one, which we have mentioned above. 

Once the Sunnyvale company finally completes the new one, though, there should be some slightly less expensive cards up for order. 

Then again, these are still, in the end, high-end graphics adapters, so it can be assumed that anyone willing to buy them has more than enough cash or credit. 

Nonetheless, NVIDIA will be offering its Kepler in March or April, 2012 (probably), complete with a new shader clock speed scheme, so cheaper high-end cards could be AMD's way of saying that it wishes to sell as many as possible until that time comes. 

The new PCB has provisions for two 8-pin PCI Express power inputs, an 8+2 phase analog VRM (probably uses an affordable CHIL controller) and a different display output connector loadout (good for two DVI, one HDMI and one DisplayPort). 12 GGD5 chips can be inset just fine as well. 

Now we just have to wait and see how AMD's partners choose to tune their prices.

Front Side of AMD Radeon 7900 PCB

Back Side of AMD Radeon 7900 PCB

AMD Radeon HD 7970 GPU and PCB Pictured

With less than one day separating us from AMD’s release of its Radeon HD 7970 graphics card, the first pictures showcasing the PCB as well as the Tahiti XT GPU used for the HD 7000 series found their way online.

The pictures show both of the card’s printed circuit board as well as the cooling solution employed by AMD, which on the first look seems to resemble pretty much the setup that the company used to chill the HD 6900 series.

There are however a couple of differences that are supposed to improve the airflow provided to the GPU and make the whole setup quitter, but for the most part the two are pretty similar.

Moving to the PCB, the images provided by PC In Life reveal that the card will get its power through a 5+1 phase VRM that is connected to a pair of PCI Express 6-pin plugs.

Together with the PCIe slot, these can deliver up to 225W to the AMD card, which is actually a tad lower than the 250W that AMD is listing under “Maximum Board Power” in the HD 7970 specifications, but I guess that AIBs will equip these with an 6+8-pin config to improve their overclocking potential.

Otherwise, the PCB also gives as a good look at the 3GB of video memory installed using a 384-bit wide bus as well as to the Tahiti XT graphics core.

As we already revealed, this includes 32 Compute Units for a total of 2058 streaming cores, 128 texture units, 32 ROPs and a 384-bit wide memory bus.

We also know that its clock speed is set at 925MHz, while the memory is operating at 1.37GHz (5.5GHz effective).

AMD’s Radeon HD 7970 is expected to be announced on December 22, with availability being scheduled for January of 2012.

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