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Jan 31, 2012

Vringo Facetones Now Available with Nokia Belle Support

Vringo, developer of mobile social and video apps, has just announced it released a new version of Facetones, its popular mobile app, for Nokia handsets.

The new iteration of Facetones is now compatible with Symbian^3, Symbian Anna, as well as Nokia Belle operating systems.

Those unfamiliar with Facetones should know that this is a Facebook-integrated app that provides users with a more appealing display of their photos and other social content.  

Furthermore, the devs also confirmed that the new version of Facetones would be released to the Nokia Store, as well as other important app stores worldwide. 

The new version of Facetones for Nokia mobile phones is meant to improve users' experience on Facebook and other social accounts. 

It also offers a more comprehensive call experience for users who own one of the latest Symbian smartphone, including Nokia 701, Nokia 700 and Nokia 603.

HTC Ville Caught on Video with Ice Cream Sandwich and Sense 4.0

The unannounced HTC Ville leaked about two months ago, along with the press shoot and specs sheet. Today, the first video showing the phone’s capabilities surfaced online, which points to an imminent announcement at Mobile World Congress 2012, next month. 

The video was published by the French site HTC Hub and shows the HTC Ville in all its glory. Even though this is not the quad-core smartphone that everyone was expecting, HTC Ville is still among the powerful Android devices that will be available on the market this year.

Codenamed HTC Ville, the smartphone may be launched under a different name next month at the MWC 2012. According to the video leaked recently, the Ville is powered by Google’s Android 4.0.1 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system and features HTC Sense 4.0 on top.

The folks over at BGR previously claimed that the HTC Ville would be slimmer than Apple’s iPhone 4S, which seems to be confirmed in the video.

HTC Ville is rumored to be delivered with a brilliant 4.3-inch qHD Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen with 540 x 960 pixels resolution, as well as an impressive 8-megapixel rear photo snapper with LED flash, autofocus and HD video recording.

On the inside, the smartphone is equipped with a dual core Snapdragon Series 4 processor clocked at 1.5 GHz. There’s no word on the amount of memory, but we can safely assume that the HTC Ville will provide at least 16GB of internal memory and 1GB of RAM.

Design-wise, the unannounced HTC Ville strongly resembles Samsung Galaxy Nexus with its curved lines inspired from an image of a magnolia petal floating in midair.

Other than that, it is also worth mentioning that the HTC Ville features three touch-sensitive buttons, instead of four and it’s said to pack HSPA+ support and a 1650 mAh battery.

Sony Tablet S 3G and Tablet P Now Available in India

Unveiled back in August, Sony’s Android tablets have showcased for the first time at IFA trade fair in September 2011. While the Sony Tablet S made its debut in September, the other Sony slate, Tablet P hit shelves one month later. 

Sony India officially introduced the tablets last month, but neither was available for purchase until today. Without further notice, major retailer Flipkart put both Sony Tablet P and Tablet S 3G on sale for Rs 36,750 (745 USD or 565 EUR) and Rs 33,750 (680 USD or 520 EUR), respectively.

Flipkart’s prices seem to be very close to Sony’s suggested retail prices. However, customers who want to purchase any of the two tablets will have to pay a small fortune.

Hopefully, their prices will drop, as soon as Sony announces its new Android smartphones at the Mobile World Congress 2012, next month.

Sony Tablet S 3G is the larger of the two and features a 9.4-inch capacitive touchscreen with 800 x 1280 pixels resolution and 16 million colors support. The Tablet P has a dual 5.5-inch capacitive touchscreen with 1024 x 480 pixels resolution.

Both slates are powered by Android 3.2 Honeycomb operating system, but Sony has recently confirmed plans to release an Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade in the following months.

The rest of the specs sheets seem to be similar, as both tablets are equipped with a dual core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor clocked at 1 GHz, as well as ULP GeForce GPUs.

However, Sony Tablet S 3G embeds 16GB of internal memory and 1GB of RAM, whereas Sony tablet P packs only 4GB onboard memory and the same amount of RAM.

Both slates have microSD/SD card slots for memory expansion (up to 32GB), but the Sony Tablet P also comes with a free 2GB memory card pre-installed.

NEC Launches 6.7-mm Thin Android Phone in Japan via NTT Docomo

NEC is one of the new Japanese companies that entered the Android smartphone market. After launching the world’s thinnest Android phone a few months ago, NEC is back with yet another amazingly thin smartphone, the MEDIAS ES N-05D. 

The smartphone is only 6.7mm thin and will be released in February or March via Japanese carrier NTT Docomo for a price that will be disclosed closer to the release date.

For the time being, MEDIAS ES N-05D will be exclusively available in Japan, but there’s a slight chance that we will see this one outside the country in case NEC decides to expand its presence in other regions as well.

Aside from the slim and stylish design, MEDIAS ES N-05D’s selling points seem to be the powerful 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and the ability to smoothly connect to Casio’s G-Shock GB-6900 watch.

Although the smartphone is powered by Google’s Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread operating system, it won’t come as a surprise if NEC delivers an Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade in the near future.

As expected, NEC MEDIAS ES N-05D features a waterproof body, NFC e-wallet function, digital TV tuner and IrDA connection. 

In addition, the smartphone packs an impressive 8.1-megapixel camera with NEC’s Exmor R module, as well as a 4.3-inch LCD capacitive touchscreen display with 720 x 1280 pixels resolution.

There’s also 4GB of internal memory, 1GB of RAM, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, 1400 mAh battery and microSD card slot for memory expansion (up to 32GB).

On a side note, NEC forecasts a $1.3 billion loss mostly coming from the mobile division and massive floods in Thailand. Rumor has it that the company is determined to cut 10,000 jobs in Japan and another 3,000 from outside the country.

All in all, it will be interesting to see how well the company will cope with the effects of the fierce competition coming from other regional and foreign brands that continue to drive the Japanese market.

AMD Radeon HD 7800 GPUs to Hit March 2012, Says Leaked Roadmap

Besides the Radeon HD 7700 series, AMD’s Graphics Core Next (GCN) video card lineup also includes the HD 7800 range that is expected to arrive into the retail space in March of this year, according to a leaked MSI roadmap.

AMD’s initial Radeon HD 7800 series will include two video cards featuring the same Pitcarin core paired together with 2GB of GDDR5 video buffer memory.

Starting with the more powerful Radeon HD 7870, previous leaks have revealed that the Pitcairn XT GPU used for this card will includes 1408 streaming processors, 88 texture units and 24 ROP units that will all be connected to the memory via a 256-bit wide bus.

Thanks to the 1,375MHz (5.5GHz data rate) VRAM operating clock, this configuration should be able to deliver 176GB/s worth of memory bandwidth.

As far as the GPU is concerned this will work at 950MHz, making it the highest clocked graphics core in the Radeon HD 7000-series.

For the Radeon HD 7850, AMD will decrease this frequency to 900MHz, while the memory will also be downclocked from 1,375MHz to 1,250MHz (5GHz data rate). This drops the memory bandwidth available to the GPU to 160GB/s. 

Other changes brought to the Pitcairn Pro core include a reduction in stream processors count, from 1408 to 1280, the number of texture units available also being lowered to 80 from 88 in the Pitcairn XT.

According to MSI’s leaked roadmap, which was published by CPU-World, the Radeon HD 7870 and HD 7850 will arrive in March this year, pricing being set at $299 and $249 (227 and 189 EUR), respectively.

A 1GB version of the Radeon HD 7850 is expected to make its entrance later this year featuring the same specs and clock speeds as its older brother, but sporting a lower $219 (166 EUR) price tag.

AMD Radeon HD 7700 Series to Launch on February 15

On February 15, AMD seems set to introduce its next series of graphics cards based on the Generation Core Next (GCN) architecture, which will be released into the Radeon HD 7700 series and target the mainstream market.

For starters, the Radeon HD 7700 lineup will include two video cards, the HD 7770 and the HD7750, both of these using AMD’s Cape Verde graphics core.

Sadly, MSI roadmap isn’t all that informative when it comes to detailing the specs of these two cards, but it does however reveal that both of AMD’s solutions will pack 1GB of GDDR5 memory.

In order to learn more about the two Cape Verde GPUs, we have to turn our attention to some older leaks that were published at the end of last year.

According to this info, the Cape Verde XT features 896 streaming processors, 56 texture units and 16 ROP units, all connected to the video buffer via a 128-bit wide memory bus.

Speaking about the memory, this will be clocked at 1,375MHz (5.5GHz data rate) in order to deliver 88GB/s of bandwidth, while the GPU operating frequency is set at 900MHz.

Moving to the Cape Verde Pro GPU used inside the Radeon HD 7750, this will also work at 900MHz, but AMD decided to set the memory at 1,250MHz (5GHz effective), while including the same 128-bit bus in order to deliver 80GB/s of theoretical bandwidth.

The number of ROP units wasn’t modified either, but the GPU now features 832 stream processors and 52 texture units.

According to the leaked MSI roadmap published by CPU-World, both of these graphics cards will be made official on February 15, with an MSRP of $149 and $139 (113 and 105 EUR), respectively.

Panasonic Outs Lumix DMC-TS4 and DMC-TS20 Ruggedized Cameras

Panasonic’s well known TS-series of ruggedized cameras has just received the addition of the Lumix DMC-TS4 and DMC-TS20 point-and-shoots, which can stand the same abuse as their predecessors, but feature improved specifications. 

The new Lumix DMC-TS4 will take the place of the TS3 in the Panasonic’s lineup, to become the company’s most advanced rugged camera to date.

Compared to its predecessor, the TS4 received a new 12.1MP CCD sensor, 1080/60i HD video capture, a 28-128mm optical zoom lens and 2.7-inch LCD, as well as a new manual mode which allows users to have full control over their camera settings.

The rest of the features list also includes GPS, compass, altimeter and barometer functionality, all the data recorded by these sensors being automatically added to the pictures captured.

If a cheaper ruggedized point-and-shoot is what you are after, the DMC-TS20 comes as a rather nice alternative, while sporting a 16.1MP sensor, 720p HD shooting and a 25-100mm optically stabilized zoom lens.

On the rear, Panasonic has placed a 2.7-inch LCD similar to the one in the TS4, but the manual shooting mode was removed from the specs list.

Since both of Panasonic’s cameras feature a ruggedized design, these are capable of withstanding quite a lot of abuse.

According to their maker, this means being capable of surviving falls up to 6.6 feet (2 meters), depths of up to 40 feet (12 meters) and temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 Celsius). 

"The Lumix TS4 is the latest addition to our successful line of rugged digital cameras, which offer users the freedom to take high-quality photos and video under a variety of conditions thanks to a design that is waterproof, dustproof, shockproof and freezeproof. 

“Plus, with added GPS and compass capabilities, the TS4 is the perfect travel companion," said David Briganti, senior product manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Marketing Company of North America. 

Both the Lumix TS4 and the TS20 ruggedized cameras will be available in a variety of colors, the former being scheduled to arrive in mid-March for $399.99 (303 EUR), while the latter should hit stores in February for $179.99 (136 EUR).

Windows 8 Will Resume Copy on Wake, Bring Less Operation Interruptions

The process of copying files in Windows 8 will be much improved starting with the beta release, when compared to the developer preview and with other flavors of Windows. 

Microsoft designed the platform to handle duplicate files differently than before and to eliminate the need of copying identical files from a location to another. 

But there’s more to it, as Windows 8 will also allow for copy operations to be paused when a system sleeps or hibernates, and to be resumed when the machine is awake again. However, users will need to click the depressed pause button to resume the operation. 

“We decided not to have copies automatically resume on wake, as the system environment may have changed significantly in the interim and we do not want to cause an error,” Ilana Smith, a lead program manager on the Engineering System team, explains

Another important change relates to the manner in which the machine handles user interaction that can occur during a copy job. 

Confirmations such as “Are you sure you want to permanently delete this file?” will remain unchanged, meaning that the user will have to be there to hit the button. These need to be completed before the copy operation starts. 

However, interrupts, or issues that the system encounters while copying – such as “File not found,” “File in use,” and file name conflicts – will be logged and presented when the operation completes (when the machine copied all the files it could copy). Basically, you won’t have to be there at all times to supervise the operation. 

“In the beta, we’ve made improvements in how confirmations are presented, making sure they don’t get lost amongst existing running copies,” Ilana explains. 

Another appealing change in Windows 8 in terms of file copying is the ability to take advantage of a faster network connection to continue a copy operation at times when a new such connection appears. 

Thus, if you start copying a large chunk of files on a wireless connection and plug in a network cable, the operation will speed up. However, it is necessary for both machines to run Windows 8.

Apple Rolls Out Compressor 4.0.2 with Enhanced Transcoding

Compressor, the FCP sidekick that enhances exportation with customizing options for output settings, has been promoted to version 4.0.2 today.

Delivering powerful encoding for Final Cut Pro, Compressor 4.0.2 improves overall stability and performance, according to Apple.

The specifics are detailed in the release notes published on the Mac App Store where Final Cut Pro fans can grab the software for $49.99 (39.99 EUR): markers are now set as chapter markers by default; Apple has added uncompressed 8-bit and 10-bit 4:2:2 to export settings list; and the speed of transcoding from Uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2 to ProRes has been improved.

As with the Motion 5.0.2 release earlier today, Apple encourages every Compressor 4 users to update to the new 4.0.2 build.

Gigabyte WindForce 3 Radeon HD 7950 Reaches Retail

Just like most other AMD add-in board partners, Gigabyte also announced earlier today a Radeon HD 7950 graphics card of its own, that uses the company’s proprietary WindForce 3 design in order to deliver faster than stock performance.

The most distinctive feature of the Gigabyte video card, which carries the model number GV-R795WF3-3GD, is, of course, the in-house developed cooling system installed by Gigabyte.

The WindForce 3 cooler, as this is called, gets its name from the fact that is uses three 80mm fans in order to blow fresh air over a massive aluminum heatsink that covers most of the card’s PCB.

These are tilted in a way that Gigabyte says helps maximizing the amount of hot air that is pushed out of the rear panel, as well as through the top of the card.

This powerful cooling assembly enabled Gigabyte to increase the operating frequency of the GPU to 900MHz, 100MHz more than AMD’s recommended clock for the HD 7950, while the memory works at the same stock 1,250MHz (5GHz data rate).

The rest of the specifications are fairly standard for an AMD Radeon HD 7950 graphics card, Gigabyte’s creation sporting the usual dual miniDP, HDMI and DVI-D video outputs and 3GB of video buffer.

Pricing has been established at $489.99 (about 371 EUR), the card being available from several retailers, including Newegg who offers it together with a Dirt 3 free game coupon.

AMD’s Radeon HD 7950 is based on the same Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture and Tahiti GPU like that used for the HD 7970, but this comes with one of the core’s Compute Units arrays disabled to turn it into the Tahiti Pro.

The result is a graphics card that includes a total of 1792 stream processors (vs. 2048 in the HD 7970), 112 texture units, 32 ROP units and the same 384-bit wide bus of its elder brother.

Motorola DEFY MINI Spotted at FCC, Possibly Headed to AT&T

Motorola announced the smaller successor of the DEFY Android-based smartphone earlier this month. Dubbed Motorola DEFY MINI, the handset is expected to hit shelves in the UK sometime in February for around $225 (170 EUR) outright. 

Motorola Mobility is trying to take on the budget-friendly smartphone market with the DEFY MINI and MOTOLUXE Android devices. The handset maker plans to release both smartphones in the following regions: Europe, South America, and China.

Although the DEFY MINI is the less-featured version of the original Motorola DEFY, the smartphone comes with the same rugged features. The phone is dust and water resistant. In addition, the phone’s display features Corning Gorilla Glass coating.

Motorola DEFY MINI is powered by Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread operating system and MotoSwitch user interface, which allows users to change between different profiles with a single tap.

In fact, MotoSwitch is a smart user interface that learns which apps the phone’s owner uses the most, or which persons he/she calls most often. With this information the UI populates the phone’s home screen to make it easier to access.

Hardware-wise, the DEFY MINI is equipped with a low-performance 600 MHz single-core processor and packs 512MB of ROM, 512MB of RAM and microSD card slot for memory expansion (up to 32GB).

The phone comes with a decent 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen with 320 x 480 pixels resolution, as well as dual cameras (3-megapixel rear photo snapper and VGA front-facing camera).

Even though Motorola did not say anything about a possible release of the DEFY MINI in the United States, the phone has just been spotted at FCC (Federal Communications Commission) by the folks over at WirelessGoodness.

Apparently, the smartphone has just received approval for GSM bands 850/1900 and WCDMA bands II and V, along with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support. This matches with AT&T’s network in the United States, though we should wait for an official word on it.

Panasonic Entry-Level Lumix Point-and-Shoots Get Priced

Since Panasonic’s slew of entry-level point-and-shoots hasn’t received all that much attention during CES 201, the Japanese camera maker is now back with another announcement trying to get these into the spotlight.

This time, the press release comes packed full of pricing and availability details, since this sort of info was missing from the official announcement.

To make a long story short, all of the cameras, five in total, are set to ship this March with pricing starting at $109.99 (about 83 EUR) for the Lumix DMC-S2, while the high-end Lumix DMC-SZ7 is priced at $199.99 (151 EUR).

The other three point-and-shoots are the Lumix DMC-FH6, FH8 and the DMC-SZ1, which will hit the streets for $129.99, $149.99 and $179.99, respectively.

Specs wise, all these feature HD video recording capabilities as well as Panasonic's powerful iA mode, so these should be more than OK for casual photographers.

Samsung Slapped with Antitrust Investigation by European Commission

If anyone thought Samsung's global clashes with Apple were bad, they were probably right, but they might be nothing compared to what the company just got slammed with.

Long story short, the European Commission has launched an antitrust investigation against Samsung.

The goal is to see if the company tried to stifle competition in the European Union and if its ongoing patent battles are against the terms of the irrevocable commitment given in 1998 to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

Back then, Samsung promised to “license any standard essential patents relating to European mobile telephony standards on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.”

“Article 102 TFEU prohibits the abuse of a dominant position which may affect trade and prevent or restrict competition. The implementation of this provision is defined in the Antitrust Regulation (Council Regulation No 1/2003) which can be applied by the Commission and by the national competition authorities of EU Member States,” said the EC statement.

Samsung already lost in some of its 3G patent suits against Apple and this only makes its situation more disgruntling. Now we'll just have to sit back and watch how everything goes.

Samsung GT-i9300 (Galaxy S III) Receives WiFi Certification

Samsung has been long rumored to plan the release of a successor for its Galaxy S II smartphone, and that handset appears to have just received the necessary approvals from the WiFi Alliance. 

A certain Samsung GT-i9300 device just passed through the WiFi certification program, and it is said to be none other than the next Android flagship model from the South Korean handset vendor. 

Unfortunately, the certification page does not offer too many details about the mobile phone. 

However, the device was previously spotted on Samsung’s UAE website, and the company’s Head of Marketing, Younghee Lee, confirmed its existence. 

Samsung was initially expected to launch the mobile phone at MWC 2012 next month, but it has postponed such plans. One way or the other, it should not be too long before the company makes a formal announcement on it.

Arctic Accelero Xtreme 7970 VGA Cooler for Radeon HD 7900/7800 GPUs Now Available

Just as it promised at the beginning of the month, Arctic has made official today the Accelero Xtreme 7970 VGA Cooler, designed to be used in conjunction with AMD’s recently released Radeon HD 7970 and 7950 graphics cards, but also with the upcoming HD 7800 series.

Despite its newly found compatibility with AMD’s GCN graphics cards, the Accelero Xtreme features pretty much the same design as the previous Arctic solutions launched in this range.

This means that Arctic Cooling still relies on three 92mm fans for dissipating the heat produced by the GPU. These sit on top of a large aluminum heatsink covering most of the card underneath it. 

All throughout this massive aluminum fin array run five 6mm thick heat pipes that are connected to an all-copper base.

The base is surrounded by a mounting plate and this has been specially redesigned in order to allow the cooler to be installed on the HD 7900 and HD 7800-series graphics cards without requiring any additional hardware to be purchased.

In addition to the changes brought to the mounting plate, the Accelero Xtreme 7970 will also be shipped with the required VRM and memory heatsinks and features a pre-applied coat of Arctic’s MX-4 thermal compound, in order to ease the installation process. 

As far as the fans used by Arctic Cooling for its latest creation are concerned, all three of them are PWM controlled and their rotation speed is set between 900 and 2000 RPM.

In addition to the Radeon HD 7900 and HD 7800 series graphics cards, the Accelero Xtreme 7970 is also compatible with various other high-end and mid-range cards from AMD’s HD 6000 and HD 5000 series.

Accelero Xtreme 7970 comes with a six-year limited warranty with MSRP at 97.95 USD or 73.83 EUR, excluding VAT.

Windows 8 Will Handle Duplicate Files and Copy Actions Differently

As soon as Windows 8 arrives on shelves, users will have a new experience when it comes to copying files around. 

The platform has been designed to handle duplicate files a bit differently than before, mainly based on the feedback that Microsoft has been receiving lately from users. 

Usually, two files on a computer have the same name because they are duplicates. Clearly, if they are identical, there is no need to copy or move one of them. 

However, it is important to be able to determine whether the files are indeed identical. Windows 8 will perform this operation through checking the file name, file size and date modified attributes. 

These parameters “can be used to identify the vast majority of duplicate files quickly, efficiently, and with good backward compatibility compared to other methods like file hashes,” Ilana Smith, a lead program manager on the Engineering System team, explains.

When released to the public in February, Windows 8 Beta will bring along a new option to the detailed conflict resolution dialog. 

“By checking the box in the bottom left of the dialog, you can filter out all files that match on name, size (down to the byte) and time (down to the granularity of the file system timestamp: 2 seconds for FAT, 100 nanoseconds for NTFS),” Ilana Smith continues. 

“The system will skip copying or moving these files. This functionality adds no additional time to the operation, works both locally and across networks, and on all types of systems and storage.” While the check box is deselected by default, it will persist as soon as the selection is made. 

The image attached to this article shows a file conflict dialog with option to “Skip 2 files with the same date and size.” The second dialog box shows the option selected, and the two files no longer appearing there. 

You will be able to try out these in Windows 8 Beta, set to arrive in late February.

Panasonic Debuts Lumix DMC-ZS20 and ZS15 Compact Super Zoom Cameras

Panasonic continues its tradition of releasing Super Zoom cameras no larger than a regular point-and-shoot, with the introduction of the Lumix DMC-ZS20 and ZS15 compact “Traveler Zooms” that were announced earlier today. 

Both of these cameras are built around a 1/2.3-inch High Sensitivity MOS sensor, which in the ZS20 has a resolution of 14.1MP, while in its less powerful sibling is limited to 12.1MP.

This is however only one of the differences between the DMC-ZS20 and ZS15, as the former also comes equipped with a 20x (24-480mm) zoom lens and 1080/60p video shooting support, while the ZS15 sports “only” a 16x (24-384mm) lens and 1080/60i video recording.

A built-in GPS and noise-canceling stereo mic make up the rest of the ZS20 specs list, while the 0.1-second "Light Speed Autofocus", 10 fps burst shooting mode (5 fps with continuous AF), and ISO 3200 top sensitivity level is common to both cameras.

Moving to the back of Panasonic’s creations, one would be greeted by a 3-inch 460k-pixel LCD, which in the ZS20 also includes touch capabilities.

As all other Panasonic point-and-shoots, the DMC-ZS20 and ZS15 also support the powerful iA (Intelligent Auto) mode, HDR (High Dynamic Range), AF Tracking, Intelligent ISO Control, Face Recognition, Intelligent Scene Selector, as well as the Motion Deblur mode.

"Panasonic has long been the leader in developing compact digital cameras with long zooms and wide-angle lenses and with the introduction of the Lumix ZS20, we continue to be in the forefront with an extremely versatile digital camera that meets the needs of all different types of photographers," said David Briganti, senior product manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Marketing Company of North America. 

The LUMIX ZS20 and ZS15 will be available in March 2012 in a variety of colors, for a suggested retail price of $349.99 and $279.99 (364 and 212 EUR), respectively.

AMD Opteron 6200 CPUs Start to Use Inphi Memory

Inphi Corporation has just announced that AMD's Opteron 6200 series of processors is ready to use its load-reduced dual-inline memory modules (LRDIMMs) featuring Inphi's Isolation Memory Buffer (iMB).

Of course, it would be much more accurate to say that Inphi's memory is finally ready to work in servers and other large installations powered by AMD's Opteron 6200 chips.

After passing several rigorous validation tests by AMD, Inphi iMBGS02A was found satisfactory in terms of frequency, voltage, temperature and process parameters.

“With the AMD Opteron 6200 Series, AMD has created a tremendous platform for the next-generation of powerful yet cost-efficient servers, for which LRDIMM technology provides the ideal memory-management solution,” said Paul Washkewicz, vice president of marketing, computing and storage at Inphi. 

“The validation Inphi has achieved through AMD provides the market with assurance that fully populated, high-speed LRDIMM memory modules will operate optimally on the AMD Opteron 6200 Series platform.”

LRDIMM technology replaces the register with an isolation memory buffer, reducing the load and allowing server memory to be easily increased.

In contrast, DIMMs and RDIMMs limit the amount of memory per server because of their loading profile.

Memory vendors and server designers can now equip an AMD Opteron 6200-based system with up to 768 GB.

This large threshold fits quite well with a series of chips that, on their own, allow about 73% more memory bandwidth than other processors. One should also remember that the collection was named the best server processor line not long ago, by Linely Group.

“Today's servers are called upon to handle an ever-increasing array of tasks, but in smaller spaces, demanding less energy and at lower overall costs,” said Pat Patla, corporate vice president for AMD's Server Business. 

“With solutions such as Inphi's iMBGS02A that are now fully validated on the AMD Opteron 6200 Series platform, those servers can achieve their space, energy and cost objectives.”

MSI Also Builds Twin Frozr III Radeon HD 7950 Cards

We may have already written about two MSI Radeon HD 7950 graphics cards, but that does not mean that the company has only that particular pair up for grabs. 

In fact, the official announcement on the part of Micro-Star International spoke of four boards in total, two of which were covered here

The other two adapters are the stronger duo and boast the Twin Frozr II cooling technology for good measure. 

As was the case with the R7950-2PMD3GD5 and R7950-2PMD3GD5/OC, the former sticks to the reference clock speeds, while the latter moves faster. 

Unlike them, though, the Twin Frozr cards also have different memory clock speeds. 

For the R7950 Twin Frozr 3GD5, the GPU operates at 800 MHz and the 3GB of GDDR5 VRAM memory work at 5GHz. 

For the other, the GPU's 880 MHz speed is complemented by the memory's 5.2GHz. 

Moving on, MSI equipped both video controllers with Military Class III components (all-solid capacitors, Hi-C CAP for GPU and solid state choke). 

Through them, the GPU gains more precise voltage, the overclocking ability is heightened and the lifespan is extended. 

Furthermore, the twin Frozr III cooling module is no small asset either, capable of generating 20% more airflow and keeping the temperature 10℃ lower (and 13.7dB more silent) than the reference design. 

The rest of the feature set is unchanged: one DVI output, an HDMI port, two mini DisplayPort connectors, a memory interface of 384 bits and support for DirectX 11.1, CrossFireX, Eyefinity, etc. 

Finally, MSI did not forget about the Afterburner overclocking utility (supports overvoltage, advanced fan speed control and a burn-in stability test). 

US and European stores should have the R7950 Twin Frozr 3GD5 and R7950 Twin Frozr 3GD5/OC up for order soon, if they don't already. The prices will be a bit higher than $450/ 420 Euro.

Jetway Reveals Two Mini-ITX Motherboards Bearing Atom CPUs

It looks like mini-ITX motherboards are still getting built, with Jetway being, this time, the company eager to reveal its latest creations powered by the Cedar Trail CPU platform.

If anyone thought the Atom series of CPUs (central processing units) from Intel was in dire straits, they may be somewhat wrong.

After all, there has been no shortage of mini-ITX motherboards released based on the Cedar Trail series of Atom units.

As it happens, one such pair of products has come to light, courtesy of Jetway, a company based in Taiwan.

What the company did was launch the NF9C-2600 and NF9D-2700 mini-ITX motherboards.

Both of them feature the NM10 Express chipset and use of the members of the N2000 Atom series.

To be more specific, the NF9D-2700, as the stronger of the duo, features an Atom D2700 chip, a dual-core unit with 4 threads, 1 MB L3 cache and a clock speed of 2.13 GHz.

Meanwhile, the NF9C-2600 lets buyers choose between an Atom N2600 (1.6 GHz) and an N2800 (1.83 GHz).

The former chip is a dual-core model with 4 threads and L2 cache memory of 1 MB, while the latter is similarly endowed, only with a frequency of 1.83 GHz.

Both motherboards have PCI slots (one each) and mini PCI Express (again, one each), plus a pair of DDR3 SO-DIMMM memory slots.

Furthermore, NF9C-2600 integrates a pair of SATA 6.0 Gbps ports, one SATA 3.0 Gbps port, Gigabit Ethernet and a Realtek ALC662 audio codec, plus three USB 2.0 ports and HDMI.

As for the NF9D-2700, it has two SATA 3.0 Gbps ports instead of just one, two SATA 6.0 Gbps connectors, dual Gigabit Ethernet, four USB 2.0 ports, D-sub and HDMI and a 5.1 channel VIA VT1705 HD Audio Codec.

Only the price of the NF9C-2600 bearing the N2600 is known: $150 (113.67 Euro).

MSI Releases Its Own Radeon HD 7950 Graphics Cards

Micro-Star International seems to have been one of the first companies to unleash its custom-built Radeon HD 7950 graphics adapters, as part of two series. 

Two of the graphics cards that MSI has revealed are called R7950-2PMD3GD5 and R7950-2PMD3GD5/OC

As their names imply, the first one sticks to the reference specifications dictated by AMD, while the second goes a bit higher than the norm. 

To elaborate, the former has the Tahiti graphics processing unit (GPU) working at 800 MHz and the 3 GB of GDDR5 VRAM memory operating at 5 GHz. 

Meanwhile, the latter is set at 830 MHz for the GPU, while the memory clock was left untouched. 

Moving on, the cards feature a memory interface of 384 bits and are compatible with the PCI Express Gen 3.0 x16 interface. 

Furthermore, the DirectX 11.1 technology is supported, for faster than usual tessellation and CirectCompute. 

Other specs include the obligatory CrossFireX technology (for multi-card setups), EyeFinity (for multi-monitor gaming), one DVI port, an HDMI connector and two mini DisplayPort outputs. 

All things considered, the feature set, so far, is not much different from that of VTX3D's controller, or most every other rival card. 

Nevertheless, MSI does bring some of its own inventions to the table, like the MSI Afterburner overclocking utility. 

Not only that, but the hardware player also outfitted both newcomers with all solid capacitors (including aluminum core without explosion), leading to lower temperatures, higher efficiency and a long lifespan of 10 years. 

MSI's R7950-2PMD3GD5 and R7950-2PMD3GD5/OC should soon start shipping around the world, if they haven't already turned up for order. 

Like the rest of their cohort, they will bear a price of $450 in the United States and somewhere around 420 Euro in Europe. 

For those who want a starting point in their decision making process, AMD's HD 7950 scored higher than NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 580 in benchmarks, but the price is still arguably a bit on the high side.

Windows 8's Explorer Promises Better Performance

Apparently, Microsoft does plan on making sure that Windows 8 will deliver from all points of view. In this regard, the company took a better look at Windows Explorer and decided it needed some upgrades. 

For example, Windows 8 Beta will no longer suffer from the navigation pane scrolling bug that Windows 7 was affected by. 

Moreover, Windows 8 will come with a series of overlay changes that should result in better performance. Previously, Explorer suffered from lag due to icon overlays, and Microsoft took the opportunity to make improvements in this area. 

A padlock icon overlay was present in Windows 7 to indicate a private file. The checking for these overlays was slowing down the Explorer by about 120 milliseconds at launch.

Since overlays have limitations, as they can show a single state, and can also be confusing, Microsoft decided to remove the padlock overlay and have the info delivered in the “Sharing status” column.

Lead Program Manager on the Engineering System team, Ilana Smith explains that there are advantages the column brings:

Performance: The column is hidden by default, so the delay is incurred only when you opt into showing this information.

Tri-state: This column has three values: Shared, Not shared, and Private, so you get more detail than you would from the icon overlay.

Sorting/filtering: You can sort and filter the sharing status property, providing more powerful file management capabilities.

In Windows 8, EXIF orientation information for JPEG images will be respected. All will be based on camera information, and users won’t actually need to intervene. 

Windows 8 Beta will also offer the possibility to pin favorite folders to the start screen. Moreover, it will offer users the possibility to arrange the folders into groups and in various other orders. 

You will find the “Pin to Start” option in the dropdown menu from the “Easy access” control in the Home tab of the ribbon. 

“Additionally, just as in Windows 7, you can pin shortcuts to executables to Start directly from Windows Explorer, which can be very useful for applications that don’t add themselves to the Start screen by default,” Ilana Smith explains. 

Another addition to Windows 8’s Explorer is the possibility to open Windows PowerShell straight from the File menu. Users will be able to select the Open Windows PowerShell as administrator option as well.

“It is worth noting that there are sometimes conflicting points of view on whether advanced things should be in the GUI or in PowerShell, and how front and center they should be,” Ilana notes. 

“We are always balancing the complexity of too many options and too many ways to do things. As you can see, there is no right answer, so we'll continue to balance these complex choices.”

Through these menu items, users will be able to launch the PowerShell console right away. The Edit command on a PowerShell file will continue to include the PowerShell ISE.

Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC Edition Graphics Card Now Official

Sapphire, one of AMD’s closest add-in board partners, has just announced the release of two new graphics cards based on the Radeon HD 7950 design, including one factory overclocked model with a 900MHz GPU clock.

Both of these cards use a cooling system developed in-house by Sapphire, the standard clocked version coming with a single centrally placed fan, while the OC edition sports a dual-fan setup.

Right beneath these two fans, Sapphire has placed a large aluminum fin array that draws the heat away from the Radeon HD 7950 GPU, via five large copper heatpipes.

This powerful cooling assembly enabled Sapphire to increase the operating frequency of the GPU to 900MHz, 100MHz more than AMD’s recommended clock for the HD 7950, while the memory works at the same stock 1,250MHz (5GHz data rate).

Users who require even more performance can also overclock the card beyond these frequencies using the TriXX utility that comes bundled together with Sapphire’s creation.

Apart from the GPU and memory clocks, Sapphire’s tool also allows for the GPU voltage to be modified up to 1.093v.

Pricing for the single-fan Radeon HD 7950 has been set at US $449 (about 350 EUR), while the factory overclocked version retails for $30 (22.7 EUR) more, which isn’t a bad deal if you ask us.

Made official earlier today, the Radeon HD 7950 uses the Tahiti Pro GPU, which includes a total of 1792 stream processors (vs. 2048 in the HD 7970), 112 texture units, 32 ROP units and the same 384-bit wide bus of its elder brother.

The stock operating clocks of the video card are set at 800MHz for the GPU, while the GDDR5 memory is running at 1.25GHz, but AMD’s AIB partners, Sapphire included, are allowed to overclock these if they want to increase the performance of their cards.

Explorer with Ribbon in Windows 8

Windows 8 will deliver a series of changes affecting the Windows Explorer too, but few of them will relate to the interface the file manager sports at the moment. 

Windows Explorer will feature the ribbon interface that Microsoft adopted for Office a few years ago, though it will be minimized by default. 

Not everybody likes the ribbon interface or the idea of having it around in Windows Explorer as well, and Microsoft is aware of that. However, the company says that those who are against the ribbon are few, while the many approve it. 

Moreover, the company suggests that there are third-party tools designed to enable them to set new interfaces to their Windows PCs. 

“We do embrace the notion that third-party tools play an important part in the Windows experience,” Ilana Smith, a lead program manager on the Engineering System team, notes in a recent blog post

In Windows 8 Beta, the ribbon will be minimized by default, unlike in Developer Preview. Thus, users will be able to discover functionality on their own, Ilana Smith explains. 

Data collected internally at Microsoft (see charts embedded below) shows that tech-savvy users would go with either the minimized or with the maximized ribbon, but that Explorer users would rather have it maximized. 

“For lighter file browsing scenarios, we can provide a UI with reduced distractions, and still trust that users who want to really exercise Explorer functionality will maximize and leverage the ribbon,” Ilana Smith notes. 

Moreover, Microsoft concluded that users who minimize the ribbon tend to take advantage of hotkeys. When hitting the Alt key, keytips will appear, and will also point at keyboard shortcuts for those who are fond of them. 

“The ribbon provides new ways to access functionality via the keyboard with keytips (those floating cues that pop up when you hit Alt), but traditional shortcut keys like Ctrl+V remain the most efficient method,” Ilana says.

Another important feature that will arrive in Windows 8 Beta will revolve around user personalization. People will only have to configure Explorer options once. 

“If you maximize your ribbon, and add Undo and Map Network Drive in your Quick Access Toolbar, we want your Explorer to look like that every time,” Ilana notes. 

“For the beta release, we’ve added Explorer settings to the attributes that are roamed to your other Windows 8 PCs.” When going to the “Sync your settings” UI, this will show up under “Other Windows settings,” just as in the last image below.

Microsoft Kicks Off “Office 15” Technical Preview

“Office 15”, the next generation of Microsoft’s productivity suite, has just begun its public journey. On January 30th, 2012, Microsoft announced the beginning of the Office 15 Technical Preview Program.

This is an important milestone for the software’s development team, which should be followed by the public beta release of the app in summer. 

This is the first time details on the upcoming product are shared with the public, though only a few Microsoft customers were offered the possibility to have a look at it. 

With Office 15, Microsoft brings together Microsoft Office cloud services, servers, and mobile and PC clients and plans on delivering updates for them simultaneously. 

“Office 15 is the codename for the next generation of the Microsoft Office products and services, and the Technical Preview is the first time we share our work with a select group of customers under non-disclosure agreements,” PJ Hough, CVP of Development, Microsoft Office Division, explains. 

“These customers play a key role in our development process by testing early builds and providing feedback, which we incorporate into the final release.”

While no details on the product itself have been made available for the moment, Microsoft did say that they planned on making an important step forward with it. 

“With Office 15, for the first time ever, we will simultaneously update our cloud services, servers, and mobile and PC clients for Office, Office 365, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project, and Visio,” Hough notes in a recent blog post.

“Quite simply, Office 15 will help people work, collaborate, and communicate smarter and faster than ever before.”

The Technical Preview program is full, but Microsoft plans on releasing Office 15 to the public later this summer, in a beta flavor. Additional details on the productivity suite will be shared at that time. 

Some of the previous reports on Microsoft’s Office 15 suggested that it might be designed in line with the new Windows 8 platform, and that it could sport Metro UI enhancements. However, the ribbon interface would still be there, some say.

Asus Radeon HD 7950 DirectCU II Now Official, Priced at $499.99 (€ 379)

With the Radeon HD 7950 now out, Asus made official a trio of graphics cards based on this design, including a pair of DirectCU II models featuring the company’s trademark design specially tuned for overclockers and enthusiasts.

Just like their predecessors, the DirectCU II graphics cards use a massive cooler that occupies no less than three PCI slots inside the system, as well as a highly customized PCB and special overclocking options.

These include a series of voltage measurement points, a 12-phase VRM circuitry with supper alloy caps and chocks, as well as a special SAP capacitor added to maximize overclocking headroom according to Asus.

As far as cooling is concerned, Asus says that its design keeps the core 20% cooler than AMD’s reference design.

This allowed the company to push the Top version of the Radeon HD 7950 Direct CU II over its reference frequencies, so the GPU is clocked at 1GHz, while the memory works at 1400MHz (5.6Gbps data rate). 

The non-Top version of Asus’ DirectCU II card works at AMD’s reference clocks of 800MHz for the GPU and 1250MHz (5GHz data rate) for the memory. 

The video connector configuration of the HD 7970 DirectCU II cards was also modified by Asus. They come with two DVI outputs (one DVI-I and one DVI-D), as well as with four DisplayPort connectors.

This design change allows for up to six displays to be connected in Eyefinity mode, Asus also providing its users with a DVI to HDMI adapter.

Besides these two DirectCU II graphics cards, Asus Radeon HD 7950 lineup also includes the HD7950-3GD5, which uses AMD’s reference design and comes clocked at the stock 800MHz/1250MHz frequencies.

Asus hasn’t made public the price of its three Radeon HD 7950 graphics cards, but Newegg has the HD7950-3GD5 listed at $464.99 (352.6 EUR), while the DirectCU II Top model is priced at $499.99 (379 EUR).

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