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Jan 11, 2012

CES 2012: Polaroid Tests Smartphone Market with SC1630, an Android Device with 16MP HD Smart Camera

Polaroid’s new camera/smartphone hybrid, the SC1630 is one of the strangest devices showcased at the International Consumer Electronics Show. At 18.5mm, the device is a bit thicker than most Android smartphones that are launched on the market these days.

For those who are looking for a camera, the main attraction will probably be the 16-megapixel camera with 3x optical zoom, F3.1-F5.6 aperture, HD (720p) video recording, and up to 3200 ISO.

On the other hand, Android fans will probably be thrilled by the fact that such a good camera comes with Google’s platform and can be used to make phone calls as well.

The device features quad-band GSM support and tri-band 3G connectivity. It only works with microSIM cards and features a decent 3.2-inch WVGA capacitive touchscreen.

It is also worth mentioning that the device comes with a rather low-capacity 1020 mAh Li-Ion camera, which might not be enough for an average user. Polaroid SC1630 will be available on the market sometime in April for a suggested retail price of $300. More details on Polaroid's device are available at Engadget.

Reported Hands-On with Potential iPad 3 Prototype

With spring 2012 approaching fast, anticipation for an iPad 3 unveiling is building up. One person now claims to have had a hands-on experience with a potential prototype.

It’s not unheard of to gain access to prototype parts of an upcoming Apple product, but according to iLounge, this new iPad was fully assembled and looked almost identical to the current-generation of Apple tablets.

Jeremy Horwitz says it’s useless to post any photos of the thing as there is nothing to be seen. The next iPad is an upgrade from the iPad 2, much like the iPhone 4S was to the iPhone 4, he claims.

According to his contacts, the new iPad’s body is only slightly thicker than the iPad 2. On first inspection, the change was unnoticeable, he said.

Horwitz believes “a roughly 1mm increase will barely be perceptible to users” and that he’s heard that the only accessories that might pose compatibility problems are those that have been designed to fit the iPad 2’s rear shell perfectly.

“On the rear, the camera in the upper left corner has become bigger—noticeably so when placed alongside the iPad 2,” he observed, “but not so huge that anyone would think they were different at a distance.”

The author specifically points out that “The new camera hole is silver-ringed, and does in fact look the same size as the iPhone 4S’s much-improved rear camera system, minus the LED flash.”

iLounge had previously learned that Apple was going to deploy a third-generation iPad with improved cameras, and had issued a report which now appears accurate.

Every manufacturer Horwitz talked to seemed to think all of the above claims were correct, “apart from [a] possible screen size tweak, which remains uncertain,” the author wrote.

The iPad 3 is believed to boast an IGZO display with a 2048x1536 pixel count (Retina-grade).

10-Core Intel Ivy Bridge-EP CPU Has 95W TDP at 2.4GHz

Intel might not have yet made the server version of its Sandy Bridge-E processors available in the retail market, but the company is already working on the successor of this architecture, dubbed Ivy Bridge-EP, which will feature up to 10 processing cores.

Scheduled to be released no sooner than 2013, an engineering sample of such a CPU has recently been detailed by a leaked CPU-Z screenshot published by Hardcore Hardware.

The 1.59 version of CPU-Z correctly recognized this chip as an Ivy Bridge-EP/EX processor and reveals that it packs 10-cores with Hyper-Threading support working at a base frequency of 2.4GHz.

According to the screenshot, the CPU requires only 1.016V in order to operate at this clocks speed which enables it to fit inside a 95 Watt power envelope while also holding no less than 25MB of shared Level 3 cache memory.

Furthermore, all the features that are supported in the upcoming Xeon E5 Sandy Bridge-EP processors are also enabled, including AES, AVX, VT-x virtualization and SSE 4.2.

If we were to compare this Ivy Bridge-EP engineering sample with Intel’s upcoming range of Xeon E5 server processors, the closest match would be the Xeon E5-2660.

This also has a 95W TDP, but it features an eight-core design, “only” 20MB of Level 3 cache memory and has a 200MHz lower operating frequency.

The increased energy efficiency of Ivy Bridge-EP is possible thanks to the move to the 22nm Tri-Gate manufacturing process, which Intel says it can reduce power consumption by as much as 50%, when compared to 32nm planar CPUs.

Just like the chips based on the Sandy Bridge-E architecture, Ivy Bridge-EP will also use the LGA 2011 socket, but some rumors seem to indicate that the CPUs will require new chipsets in order to function properly. We’ll keep you up to date if we manage to find out more.

CES 2012: AMD Also Demos High-End HD 7000M GPU Based on Pitcairn Core

Outside of the Trinity APU demo that we talked about earlier today, AMD has also brought a working sample of a high-end Radeon HD 7000M-series notebook GPU based on the company’s Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture at this year’s CES fair.

The graphics card that was showcased running both in single, and as part of a dual-GPU CrossFireX setup, was actually based on the company’s Pitcairn GPU according to VR-Zone.

Built using TSMC’s 28nm fabrication process, the Pitcairn core is a true Graphics Core Next (GCN) design and will also be used by the Sunnyvale-based company as the base for its desktop Radeon HD 7800 parts.

In the notebook space however, this graphics core is highly likely to appear as the Radeon HD 7900M which is a general occurrence in the mobile GPU market.

Nvidia does this too with the GTX 580M which packs the same core as the desktop GTX 560 Ti, but features lower operating clocks in order to decrease its TDP and make it better suited for its mobile role.

In AMD’s case, the GPU and memory frequencies of the card are also expected to be lower, but the company hasn’t disclosed anything regarding the specs of the notebook graphics card demoed.

Previous leaks have however revealed that the Pitcairn GPU will be available in two versions, dubbed Pitcairn XT and Pitcairn Pro, the former coming with 1408 stream processors and 88 texture units while the latter will be limited at 1280 shaders and 80 texture units.

The ROP count will be set at 34 units for both of these solutions while the available 256-bit wide memory bus can connect to either 1GB of 2GB of GDDR5 memory.

In the desktop products, the GPU clock speed will be set at 900MHz while the memory works at up to 1.25GHz (5GHz effective).

Sadly, AMD hasn’t said anything about the availability of these graphics cards, so right now we don’t know when these are expected to make their way inside notebooks.

AMD Radeon HD 7950 to Arrive on January 31, Says Report

January 9 2012 has come and passed, but AMD’s Radeon HD 7970 hasn’t been joined by the cheaper HD 7950 as some of us have hoped for, but fortunately it seems like we won’t have all that much to wait until the graphics card makes its appearance.

According to some recent rumors, less than a month separates us from the launch of the Radeon HD 7950 as this is now expected to arrive on January 31.

Unlike the Radeon HD 7970 December 22 launch, the HD 7950 should be a hard release with retail availability, pricing being expected to be set at $449 (353 EUR), according to Fudzilla.

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

The end 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.

The amount of memory installed also wasn’t modified so we are talking about the same 3GB of GDDR5 video buffer which has an operating speed of 1.25GHz (5GHz data rate). The Tahiti Pro GPU is clocked at 900MHz.

The power consumption figures of the AMD graphics card are not yet available, but this will feature the same ZeroCore technology as the HD 7970 that can completely turns off the card when the system is in idle with the monitor shut down. 

Other AMD Radeon HD 7950 features include support for one DVI, one HDMI and two mini-DisplayPort video outputs as well as PCI Express 3.0 and DirectX 11.1 compatibility.

Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge CPU Pictured

In about three months’ time, Intel is expected to let loose upon the computing world a new series of processors based on the Ivy Bridge architecture and recently the most powerful of these chips, the desktop Core i7-3770K was pictured online.

The CPU spotted is actually an engineering sample processor, but according to its maker it runs at its full 3.5GHz base speed, which means that this is most probably one of the last ES parts to arrive before Intel introduces Ivy Bridge in retail.

Outside of its 3.5GHz base clock speed, the Core i7-3770K will also support Intel’s Turbo Boost technology which can increase its operating speed to 3.9GHz when not all cores are loaded.

Much like the current Sandy Bridge-based Core i7 parts, the 3770K will also sport 8MB of shared L3 cache, but its integrated GPU has been updated to the new HD 4000 which packs 30% more EUs.

The TDP of the chip was also modified as the new 22nm Tri-Gate process technology used for Ivy Bridge helps decrease the power consumption of the CPU.

The end result is a chip that works at the same frequencies as the Core i7-3700K and sports a faster graphics core, but has a 19% lower TDP (77W vs 95W).

Just like all the other K-series processors launched by Intel until now, the Core i7-3770K also features an unlocked multiplier which means overclockers will be able to push the operating frequencies of the CPU further than Intel's specifications. 

As far as pricing is concerned, CPU-World reports that Intel will ship the Core i7-3770K for $332 in 1K quantities, making it just as expensive as today’s 2700K.

According to Taiwan PC makers, Intel’s Ivy Bridge processor will debut on April 8. 

The initial release will cover the third-generation Core i5 and Core i7 desktop products with prices ranging from $184 to $332 (141 to 254 EUR), and Core i7 mobile chips, while the next CPU batch will include Core i3 and Core i5 mobile processors.

CES 2012: Gigabyte Outs 7-Series Motherboards With 3D BIOS

Since CES is well underway, Gigabyte is eagerly demonstrating the new technologies that will make its motherboards much easier to interact with.

Though they were revealed some time ago, Gigabyte's 3D BIOS and 3D Power technologies are only now being publicly demonstrated.

With the 2012 edition of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2012) underway in Las Vegas, Nevada, Gigabyte arguably couldn't have hoped for a better opportunity.

The Gigabyte 3D BIOS technology is actually a new representation of the BIOS, with an interactive view of the mainboard itself.

Thus, even PC owners less versed in IT will be able to make heads or tails of what each component does.

Gigabyte even added helpful tips that pop up when the mouse hovers over a specific section of the motherboard.

Meanwhile, 3D Power grants full control over all main on-board power zones, with a digital PWM design and manipulation (and monitoring) of the CPU and socket power as well.

LGA 1155 motherboards, made for the second generation of Intel Core central processing units (CPUs), will possess these two technologies.

“We are very excited about the new technologies that will feature on our 7 series motherboards, and are confident that our customers will find them, together with the performance and feature improvements on Intel’s future platform, extremely appealing,” comments Henry Kao, Vice President of GIGABYTE Motherboard Business Unit. 

“Product development and debugging for the new features is progressing really well, and we expect to have a full range of products available globally by launch day.”

Gigabyte's CES exhibition includes the G1.Sniper 3 motherboard (has dual LAN) in ATX and Micro ATX form factors.

Finally, the company also brought a Bluetooth 4.0/Wi-Fi PCIe Card, which will be shipped along with select Gigabyte motherboards.

VR-Zone has some hands-on photos, for those interested, while official information may be found here.

CES 2012: EVGA Plans to Enter PSU Market with NEX

EVGA is about to expand its horizons, branching from the motherboard and graphics market into that of power supplies.

The series of PSUs that EVGA is preparing bears the name of NEX and is aimed at the high-end market.

That means that the company doubtlessly wishes them to be paired with its motherboards and video adapters.

That said, there will be four models to start with, their outputs being 650W, 750W, 1000W and 1500W, respectively.

The first two are for 'regular' gamers while the other two are for people who want multiple video cards in their systems (and/or serious overclocking).

There will be a “Dummy Mode” for multiple/redundant PSU operation and an “OC Mode” (all 12V rails are linked into a single 133A one).

All of them will be 80Plus-rated but there are no prices or availability dates in sight.

Intel Romley 8-Core Sandy Bridge-E Chips Set for CeBIT 2012

Since consumer processors from the Sandy Bridge-E line are already running rampant, even with two cores sealed, the Romley platform for workstation has to hurry up and arrive too, along with the Core i7-3000 series processors.

Apparently, the wait will not be too long, as VR-Zone reports that the official launch date has finally been set.

It is on March 6, 2012, during CeBIT 2012, that the Santa Clara, California-based company will go ahead and release the processors and chipset.

As people may or may not know, the Core i7-3000 chips are the workstation versions of the latest, high-end CPU line.

Meanwhile, the Romley X79 will replace the X58 based Tylersberg chipset.

There is one truly important detail about all the chips that will draw attention: the core count.

The best Core i7 SB-E chips so far unveiled have but 6 cores active.

This is already more than enough for anything a desktop could possibly have to deal with.

However, the architecture clearly has two extra cores that haven't, so far, been put to use, due to Intel's chosen TDP limit of 130W.

It is also worth noting that there are barely any consumer applications that can use six cores, much less eight.

Professional systems are much more prone towards scenarios where it helps to have as many cores as possible, though.

As such, there will definitely be 8-core Sandy Bridge-E processors by the time CeBIT 2012 is over.

As a side note, the activation of the extra cores will lead to an extra 5MB of cache being enabled, leading to units with 20MB.

Add to that support for RAID0 and TRIM and there is little chance that anything will be able to challenge the Romley as the next best thing for professional systems.

Finally, the Romley platform will support Serial Attached SCSI (SAS), something that will spell doom for many SAS controller chips and their makers.

Team Group Reveals Xtreem LV 2,600 MHz Quad-Channel Memory

Team Group's latest press release states that the company is ready to sell quad-channel memory for systems based on the latest Intel CPUs.

The new memory series that Team Group has launched is called Team Xtreem LV DD3 2600 Quad-Channel CL10.

The name alone is enough for people to guess the most important details about it.

Thus, this is a series of memory that operates at a clock speed of 2,600 MHz and a latency of CL10.

More specifically, the timings are of 10-12-12-31.

There are two quad-channel kits in the collection, of 8 GB and 16 GB capacities, respectively.

The first is made of two 4 GB modules while the latter is composed of four similar modules (240-Pin Unbuffered DIMM Non ECC).

Finally, the new RAM utilizes 8-layer PCBs (printed-circuit boards) and has a voltage of 1.65V.

“The firm always provides the best consumer service and constantly invests in R&D for better products,” says Director of Team Group Inc., Danny Hsia.

“Leading the market with the Xtreem LV DDR3 2600 Quad-Channel CL10 for top specification is a milestone and technology breakthrough for us! We expect to bring true and high-quality experiences to every overclocker.”

Team Group's Xtreem LV DDR3 2600 Quad-Channel CL10 is a successor to the Xtreem LV DDR3 2400 CL9, which “won overwhelming compliments.”

The RAM is supposedly 10% more energy-efficient than other quad-channel offerings and will work at its fullest on Intel X79 motherboards, especially on those that run Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge-E CPUs (central processing units).

Unfortunately, the announcement did not say what prices prospective buyers were expected to fork up in exchange.

People interested in something a bit less ambitious may want to look at the Xtreem Dark DD3 1600 CL9 Overclocking Memory instead, which works on a lower voltage, albeit at a slower frequency (1,600 MHz).

iPhone 5 and iPad 3 GPU Potentially Revealed

When Imagination Technologies announced the first licensees for the next-generation Series6 family in June 2011, Apple was not mentioned, though it was later revealed that the Cupertino company was indeed a partner.

The iPhone maker currently utilizes Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR SGX543MP2 in their A5 system-on-a-chip (SoC).

So when Imagination unveiled the upcoming Series6 family this week, touting performance improvements of 20x or more for the G6400 and G6200, we had to ask: just how fast will the iPad 3 and iPhone 5 be?

There’s little to no doubt that Apple is one of the companies licensing the new technologies in their upcoming A6 processor believed to be used in the next-generation iPad and iPhone.

According to Imagination, “The innovative PowerVR Rogue architecture, on which Series6 is based, builds on the maturity and unrivalled success of the previous five generations of PowerVR GPUs.

“It enables Imagination’s partners to deliver amazing user experiences in devices from innovative ‘natural’ user interfaces to ultra-realistic gaming, as well as enabling new applications never before thought of from advanced content creation and image processing to sophisticated augmented reality and environment-aware solutions.”

The makers noted in a press release issued this week that the PowerVR Rogue architecture was based on a scalable number of compute clusters, and that the process was “designed to target the requirements of a growing range of demanding markets from mobile to the highest performance embedded graphics including smartphones, tablets, PC, console, automotive, DTV and more.”

PowerVR Series6 GPUs can deliver 20x or more of the brawn of current generation GPU cores, offering the best performance in both GFLOPS/mm2 and GFLOPS/mW, the company said.

“Based on our experience in shipping hundreds of millions of GPU cores, plus extensive market and customer feedback, we have been able to set a new standard in GPU architecture, particularly in the areas of power, bandwidth and efficiency – the key metrics by which GPUs are now judged,” said Hossein Yassaie, CEO, Imagination. “We are confident that with the Rogue architecture we have a very clear technology advantage and an exceptional roadmap for the PowerVR Series6 family which our partners can depend on.”

So far, only ST-Ericsson, Texas Instruments, Renesas Electronics and MediaTek have confirmed their partnership with Imagination regarding the use of the upcoming Series6 family. Apple is notoriously secretive when it comes to its contracts with various licensing partners.

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