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Jan 24, 2012

AMD Radeon HD 7950 Benchmarked, Significantly Faster than Nvidia’s GTX 570

The next graphics card in the Radeon HD 7000-series, the Radeon HD 7950, was just benchmarked by a Chinese website who found out that AMD’s upcoming solution is significantly faster than an Nvidia GeForce GTX 570M.

The Radeon HD 7950 graphics card used, which ran at AMD’s default frequencies, was paired together with an Intel Core i5-2500K processor and put through several loops of 3DMark 11.

At the end of these tests, AMD’s upcoming solution received a score of P6139 which puts it right between the last-gen HD 6970 and its older brother, the HD 7970 (the cards scored P5471 and P7728, respectively).

To see how the Radeon HD 7950 stacks up to its competition, the tester also run the 3DMark 11 benchmark on the same system but with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 graphics card installed, which returned a score of P5450.

This makes the GTX 570 about 12% slower than AMD’s upcoming GPU when both of these are run at their default clocks.

When the Radeon HD 7950 is overclocked, the difference can get a lot bigger since setting it at 1030MHz core/5,600MHz (1,400 MHz actual) memory returned a score P7056, which gets it just slightly behind the HD 7970.

The Radeon HD 7950 is based on the same graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture as its older brother, but this comes with four of the HD 7970’s Compute Units disabled to turn it into the Tahiti Pro.

The end result is a GPU 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 clocked at 1250MHz (5GHz data rate), while the GPU runs at 800MHz.

AMD hasn’t disclosed the release date of the Radeon HD 7950 so far, but some rumors suggest this will arrive on January 31. The HD 7950 is expected to be on average US $100-150 (77 to 116 EUR) cheaper than the HD 7970.

Ready to Run on the PlayStation 4

Dust 514, the ambitious new shooter from EVE Online developers CCP, might be ready to launch in early 2012, but the development team working on it believes that the basic structure of the game allows it to work just as easily on a possible PlayStation 3 as it does on current hardware.

Speaking to Develop, Hilmar P├ętursson, who is the chief executive officer at CCP, reports, “If there is a PlayStation 4 – which I can tell you now I have no idea if there is – but if there was, we would build Dust for that console as well. 

“It will most likely be a revision of the experience, as with all updates, and could allow people to play across PS3 and 4.”

The executive says that his company knows how to deal with constantly advancing technology because of the work done on EVE Online, a PC-based MMO which needs to keep up with the constant progress of hardware and take advantage of it.

P├ętursson adds, “We will continue to develop on PlayStation 3 even after the release of Dust, and I think the game’s audience is more used to constant updates than people may assume. I mean, if you look at Call of Duty, that essentially is an online experience that has undergone mass migration across three games.”

Dust 514 is linked to EVE Online and will see players create characters that engage in ground battles that influence the universe of the space-based MMO.

Gamers will be able to negotiate contracts and might even be able to get enough out of their in-game work to pay their real-world subscription.

Sony has not yet announced an official PlayStation 4 project, but a lot of rumors are mentioning E3 2012 as the venue to show off the platform for the first time, with the actual launch set for 2013.

Intel Ivy Bridge Dual-Core CPUs to Arrive in Early May, Says Report

After bringing to market its first Ivy Bridge processors at the beginning of April, Intel will continue to expand its CPU lineup with new chips based on this architecture, and they are expected to arrive in early May.

Previously, all we knew about the launch of the second batch of Ivy Bridge processors was that Intel planned for them to arrive in Q2 of 2012, but Fudzilla has now uncovered that their release is actually scheduled for the week of May 6 (May 6-12).

This launch will include the Core i7-3520M and Core i5-3360M, as well as the ultra-low voltage (ULV) based Core i7-3667U and Core i5-3427U, the former featuring a TDP of 35W, while the latter are 17W parts.

In addition to these dual-core mobile chips, Intel will also reportedly unveil the QS77 and QM77 mobile chipsets at about the same time.

Ivy Bridge is the code name used for the 22nm die shrink of the current Sandy Bridge chips and features basically the same architecture, but with a few minor tweaks and improvements.

This includes a new on-die GPU that will come with full DirectX 11 support as well as with 30% more EUs than Sandy Bridge, in order to offer up to 60% faster performance than current Core CPUs, according to Intel.

In addition, the processor cores have also received some minor tweaks as their AVX performance was slightly increased and Intel updated the integrated PCI Express controller to the 3.0 standard.

In the mobile version of Ivy Bridge, all these improvements are paired with a configurable TDP design, which enables the CPU to greatly surpass its maximum thermal design power when additional cooling is provided (like when placed on a notebook cooling stand).

24 Cities Got New 45 Degree Aerial Imagery in Google Maps

Google is wasting no time in updating imagery in Google Maps. Already, it's at its second update of the year for aerial imagery. 24 cities now boast new images to provide a fresher perspective. 

Most are in the US, but there are several cities in Europe and one in South America as well, in Brazil.

"The second 45° imagery update of 2012 includes new imagery for 17 U.S. and 7 international locations in Google Earth and Google Maps," Bernd Steinert, Geo Data Specialist at Google, announced.

The full list of cities is available in the announcement. Among the more interesting locations is Porto Alegre, in Brazil, the only city from the Southern hemisphere to get an update, and Ulm in Germany.

A little over a week ago, Google Maps got updated satellite imagery in 120 countries and aerial imagery in several locations.

EK Readies Asus DirectCU II Radeon HD 7970 Top Water Block

Even though the Asus DirectCU II HD 7970 Top is not yet available for purchase, EK has already started working on a water block for Asus’ high performance graphics card.

The company got the word out through Legit Reviews and believes that the water block will be available at the end of February or early March.

Little else is known at this point in time about this EK creation, but it’s fairly certain that it will feature a full-coverage design similar to that of the regular Radeon HD 7970 water block.

More info about the Asus DirectCU II HD 7970 Top video card is available in this article, so make sure to check it out, while the video above describes in great detail how to install an EK water block on your own HD 7970. 

Intel Integrated Graphics Challenges AMD & Nvidia in the CAD Space

Intel’s integrated graphics have made a lot of progress in the last couple of years, and now the company has decided to go after AMD and Nvidia in the professional CAD market, with the P3000 GPU found inside its Xeon E3 processors based on the Sandy Bridge architecture.

In order to achieve this feat, the graphics cores integrated inside Intel’s Xeon E3-1200 processors have now gained OpenGL certification, as well as support for a wide series of high-end architecture and engineering design applications.

The list includes programs such as AutoCAD, RevIT, Inventor, Adobe Photoshop CS5, and Adobe Premiere Elements, while SolidWorks and 3Ds Max should also be added to the list in the not so distant future. 

VR-Zone had the chance of playing with AutoCAD on the E3-1275, basically a Xeon version of Core i7-2600K, and reports that performance is satisfactory even for 3D real time manipulation, which is definitely an important achievement for Intel.

To showcase the power of its P3000 integrated graphics, Intel has also published a series of benchmark results comparing the E3-1275 processor with Nvidia’s entry-level Quadro FX580 graphics card, which show the Xeon CPU coming out on top in quite a few tests.

Intel released its Xeon E3-1200 server processors series based on the Sandy Bridge architecture in April last year and the lineup included 12 CPUs, four of these packing the P3000 graphics core. 

Other features include support for Intel's Turbo Boost and HyperThreading technologies, 6MB or 8MB of L3 cache memory, dual or quad processing cores and ECC memory support.

The chips use the LGA 1155 socket and later this year will be replaced by a series of new processors based on the 22nm Ivy Bridge architecture, featuring pretty much the same specs as the current models, but slightly higher operating clocks and improved graphics.

Motorola Sends Invites for DROID RAZR Soak Test

Although Motorola promised to deliver the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade to DROID RAZR in Q1 2012, it’s still too early for the update to come out.

However, this doesn’t mean that the DROID RAZR should not receive other software updates meant to fix some of the issues and improve the overall performance of the smartphone.

The folks over at Droid-Life claim that the handset maker has just started to send invites to a soak test for a new project. Invitations are sent via email to those who own a Motorola Feedback Network account.

There are no details on the upcoming software updates, but rumor has it that this might be the Android 2.3.6 build 6.12.173, which was leaked a while ago.

More details on the software update will be released as soon as the soak test ends, probably within the next few weeks.

Windows 8’s Metro UI on Android via Skydroid

Android users who would like to get a taste of the Windows 8 user interface on their Android-based mobile phones will soon be able to do so through an application called Skydroid. 
Available from the guys over at the XDA-Developers forums, the app will bring the Windows 8 Metro UI on Android, though it appears that it won‘t be an exact replica of the interface. Instead, it will be only inspired by Windows 8. 

The software will come with Dialer, SMS, Email, Calendar, People with IM and social, Player, Gallery, Camera, Browser, Notes, Stock + Currency converter, Alarm, News, File manager, Settings, Launcher, and more. 

With five people working on the project, all looks promising. However, the software will not be released before March or April. The team will keep us updated on how things advance, so stay tuned.

Motorola ATRIX 4G Gets CyanogenMod 9 ROM

The ATRIX 4G is one of the first Motorola smartphones to feature a dual-core processor. Unveiled last year, in February, Motorola ATRIX 4G was initially delivered with Android 2.2 Froyo on board. 

However, Motorola and AT&T deployed the Gingerbread upgrade last year, so users could take advantage of the new features offered by Google’s latest operating system

Even though the phone is rather old, its hardware configuration recommends it for an Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade, but Motorola has yet to make any announcement regarding the ATRIX 4G updates.

The phone is equipped with a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, which is complemented by a ULP GeForce graphics processing unit. In addition, it packs 16GB of internal memory, 1GB of RAM and microSD card slot for memory expansion (up to 32GB).

It is also worth stressing that the smartphone comes pre-loaded with MOTOBLUR user interface with Live Widgets, which is not so popular among Android fans.

Although the phone received several CyanogenMod 7 ROMs, these are not quite up to date with the recent Ice Cream Sandwich new features.

Fortunately, the folks over at XDA Developers have just cooked a CyanogenMod 9 ROM fully compatible with the Motorola ATRIX 4G. Courtesy to XDA Senior Member jokersax11, Motorola ATRIX 4G owners will be able to taste some Ice Cream Sandwich flavor.

There’s a long list of functional features, but those who cannot get passed the short list of unusable functions should wait until new updates are delivered.

According to XDA Developers, the following things are still under development and are not working: camera, Adobe flash issues (either Adobe’s fault or 2D issues fault), HDMI landscape,  YouTube, Car dock (missing apk), some 2S issues (mostly works), built-in video playback (requires third-party app).

For more details on the CyanogenMod 9 ROM for Motorola ATRIX 4G head over to XDA Developers original thread.

Windows Phone Build 7.10.8745 Emerges

A few weeks ago, Microsoft started pushing out the 8107 software update for the handsets running under its Windows Phone operating system. 

Apparently, the company is gearing up for the release of a new update for Windows Phone users, one that would sport Build number 7.10.8745. 

The upcoming software update was just spotted online, in the database of the popular WP Bench application. The new firmware was spotted on an HTC 7 Pro smartphone. 

Moreover, it appears that it was accompanied by a 7.10.8714 build, but no info on either of them has emerged until now. 

Chances are that the new Windows Phone Builds would be part of the upcoming Tango branch, which should be released in the near future. 

Moreover, some suggest that the 7.10.8714 build might be nothing more than a small update meant to fix various issues that the OS might have at the moment.

The 8107 update was meant to fix a SMS security vulnerability that was found in the OS not too long ago, but it appears that it didn’t. This means that Microsoft could plan the release of a new firmware for its devices, so as to patch this security breach. 

The aforementioned Windows Phone Tango OS flavor is only one of the major platform releases that Microsoft is rumored to have in store for users this year. 

Tango should bring along support for lower hardware specifications, making the Windows Phone platform available on much cheaper devices. Thus, the platform will reach more markets around the world, including emerging ones. 

There will also be Windows Phone Apollo arriving on devices towards the end of 2012. That platform release is expected to be the next-gen Windows Phone 8 OS. 

For the time being, however, Microsoft hasn’t provided specific info on these OS flavors, nor has it confirmed their existence.

Casio G-Shock Rugged Smartphone Showcased at CES 2012

Casio is a well-known watchmaker, but company has decided to enter the smartphone market as well. The G’Zone Commando, Casio’s first try on Android devices seems to have been successful as the company plans to launch even more Android phones this year. 

Last week we reported about Casio’s first high-end Android smartphone that was supposed to feature a quad-core processor and a large 4.5-inch or 4.7-inch Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen.

Today, we have more details on Casio’s upcoming devices courtesy to the folks over at G-shockzone. It appears that a certain G-Shock rugged smartphone has been spotted earlier this month at the International Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas.

Casio’s G-Shock smartphone was showcased at CES 2012, but this has been confirmed as a proof of concept, thus Casio has yet to decide whether the device will make it to the market or not.

Just by looking at the pictures of the concept device, we can tell that this is a step further from Casio’s previous G-zone handset. 

Casio G-Shock is the epitome of ruggedness and should embed all the features needed to make it a solid choice for all customers who need a shock-, water-, and pressure-resistant smart mobile device.

Fortunately, this one has it all and then some. The folks over at G-shockzone claim the G-Shock will run Android operating system. The phone is shock resistant (10 feet), water resistant (10m and 1.0 bar), and pressure resistant (1.0 ton).

The back cover of the smartphone is made from a metallic alloy and features a few emergency numbers, which are engraved directly into the back hood.

The phone’s touchscreen is surrounded by a thick frame in order to prevent any damage it could suffer from accidental drops on flat surfaces.

If the company decides to build the G-Shock smartphone, it will be launched in the United States, most likely via Verizon Wireless.

Sony Confirms ICS for Tablets and Xperia Smartphones in Spring

Sony is set to make the new Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system available for some of its devices in the coming months. 

The company has confirmed once again that it will deliver the OS upgrade to its Xperia smartphones in spring, and that the Tablet S and Tablet P devices will also receive it at that time. 

The two tablets are reportedly running under the new platform internally, and things are more than encouraging. 

However, Sony wouldn’t offer a specific release timeframe for the update, which means that we’ll have to wait for the availability period to learn more on the matter. 

The company’s entire 2011 Xperia family will receive the new software update, but specific info on when that will happen hasn’t emerged either.

Stable MIUI 4.0 ROM for Samsung Galaxy S II Now Available for Download

A ‘very stable’ version of MIUI for Samsung Galaxy S II has just been released and is now available for download.

XDA Developer user adyscorpius confirms that the new MIUI 4.0 ROM for Galaxy S II works ‘flawlessly,’ except the standard CyanogenMod 9 and MIUI v4 problems, which have yet to be fixed in future updates.

The current build is based on CyanogenMod 9 and MIUI Android 2.1.20. Although the developers confirm that the MIUI Themes still don't work, there’s a workaround that will enable users to take advantage of this feature. Simply create a folder in /data/system/theme and the problem will be solved.

Furthermore, the permissions manager will ask users for permission to manage root. This needs to be accepted.

Other than these two known issues, everything seems to work correctly. Head over to XDA Developers original thread for more details on how to download and flash this MIUI ROM.

Imagination Technologies Readies Discrete GPGPU PCIe Card

Imagination Technologies is about to launch a PC graphics card, of sorts, even though it hasn't actually done anything in this field for many years.

The company is building on a bet it made last year, when it bought Caustic Graphics.

Caustic actually managed to create FPGA chips that they used for the creation of accelerators capable of real-time ray tracing.

After it got bought, Caustic kept on preparing the market for this technology, finally seeing success at CES 2012, or so reports say.

If Imagination Technologies impresses enough people with the upcoming PowerVR Discrete GPGPU PCIe Cards (second half of 2012), it could become a competitor to NVIDIA's Quadro and Tesla GPU compute accelerators.

Don't be fooled by the photo, though. As others will tell you, that's just the last PowerVR ever sold, a really old board that used to compete with NVIDIA GeForce 3 and AMD Radeon 8500 adapters.

Intel Readies Core i3-3120ME and i3-3217UE Ivy Bridge CPUs

Besides desktop and mobile parts, Intel’s Ivy Bridge CPU lineup will also include a series of embedded processors. Recently the specs of two such models have been uncovered and published online.

The processors in question are the Core i3-3217UE and i3-3120ME, both of these featuring similar specifications and coming with two computing cores with Hyper-Threading support.

Starting with the Core i3-3217UE, this is an ultra-low voltage CPU with a base clock of 1.6GHz, no Turbo Boost support (as it’s the case with all Core i3 CPUs) and 3MB of Level 3 cache memory.

Just like Intel’s mobile Ivy Bridge processors, the chip incorporates an HD 4000 graphics engine clocked at 350MHz, which can go as high as 900MHz when the need arises.

The new Intel part is planned to come as a replacement for the current Core i3-2340UE based on the Sandy Bridge architecture, so it sports the same 17W TDP as that of the latter chip.

However, compared to i3-2340UE, the i3-3217UE has a 300MHz higher core frequency, and 100MHz higher maximum Turbo Boost frequency. 

The second Ivy Bridge embedded CPU to be uncovered by CPU-World is the Intel Core i3-3120ME, which has a base clock speed of 2.4GHz and an identical 35W TDP as that of the i3-2310E it will replace.

An integrated HD 4000 graphics core is also included, this time clocked at 650MHz, while the L3 cache size is set at 3MB.

Both processors support DDR3-1600 ECC memory, Intel’s VPro technology and will come in the BGA package, while their PCI Express support will be downgraded to 2.0.

The two embedded CPUs are expected to arrive in the second or third quarter of 2012, but their exact shipping date is not known so far.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Full-Frame DSLR Spotted in the Wild

After a pretty long wait, Canon seems to be finally getting ready to release the EOS 5D Mark III digital SLR as the camera has just been spotted being put through its paces in Kenya, Africa together with Canon’s upcoming 200-400mm zoom lens.

From the pictures provided by Aperture Academy, it seems like the new EOS 5D Mark III will be pretty similar to the current 7D and 5D Mark II, but with a slightly larger display and a redesigned button arrangement.

The most important of these modifications is the inclusion of a “Rate” button placed on the left of the screen, while the removable battery grip has now received the addition of a joystick.

Other changes seem to include a new scroll wheel and a somewhat modified interface, but unfortunately, no info regarding the specs of the camera was unveiled.

However, previous leaks seem to suggest that the EOS 5D Mark III will sport a full-frame 20MP-something image sensor paired together with an updated DIGIC V image processor.

This combo should allow for a higher ISO range (which reportedly starts at 100 and goes all the way up to 25600), and also enabled the camera to deliver better image quality and improved noise reduction when compared with its predecessor.

A new 19-point auto-focus system, GPS tagging, improved video AF, and 5fps continuous shooting will round up the specs list, while some even suggest that Canon has designed the EOS 5D Mark III to include an eye-controlled autofocus option. 

As far as availability is concerned, a rumor emerged at the end of last week suggested that Canon wanted to launch its new full-frame camera after Japan’s CP+ show, which is scheduled to take place at the beginning of February.

No word on price just yet, but this sort of info should arrive soon enough, if the CP+ launch rumors are indeed true. The Canon 200-400mm tele lens should be officially released in March or April this year.

Kingmax Quad-Channel DDR3 Memory Works at 2200MHz

Memory maker Kingmax has just announced the introduction of a new line of high- speed DDR3 memory compatible with quad-channel systems that was designed in order to run at speeds of up to 2200MHz.

The Kingmax memory modules will be available both in a kit form and as standalone DDR3 sticks, but no matter the option one choses, all of these feature similar specs with speeds starting at 1333MHz and going all the way up to 2200MHz.

In the case of the lower clocked 1333MHz, 1600MHz, and 2000MHz DIMMs, Kingmax set the memory timings at CL9, while for the 2200MHz sticks these have been loosened a bit and run at CL10.

Operating voltages also vary depending on the speeds that the memory is run at, with the entry-level Kingmax solutions requiring only 1.5V, while the faster DIMM sticks need 1.6V in order to work at their rated frequencies. 

According to Kingmax, the high speeds achieved by its new DDR3 line were made possible by the use of the company’s own TinyBGA technology.

This relies on small footprint memory chips to decrease the power consumption and the electrical interference produced, and also has the advantage of enabling the DIMMs to cool down faster than DDR3 modules using regular sized memory chips.

Sadly, the maker hasn’t disclosed any details regarding availability and pricing and a quick Google search also hasn’t returned any results, meaning that these have yet to arrive into retail.

When they will however make their entrance into the market, Kingston plans to introduce 4GB, 8GB and 16GB memory kits. 

Just as most other high-performance memory, Kingmax’s new quad-channel creations support Intel’s XMP (Extreme Memory Profiles) technology. Kingmax’s memory kits should also be compatible with dual-channel motherboards.

AMD Brazos Epson Endeavor NP30S Mini-PC Makes Appearance

Taking a short break from the printer business, Epson has released in Japan a new ultra-thin small form factor PC based on AMD’s Brazos platform, which targets casual computer users more interested in style than performance.

Dubbed the Endeavor NP30S, the system resembles to some extent Sapphire’s Edge HD nettop/mini-PC, but it features a more elegant all-white case that definitely adds more than just a dash of style to the Epson PC.

Moving past its looks, on the inside the NP30S is powered by an AMD C-60 accelerated processing unit which sports dual Bobcat x86 processing cores clocked at 1GHz and Radeon HD 6290 integrated graphics, featuring some impressive multimedia capabilities.

This means that Epson’s PC can handle HD video playback without any hiccups, except for some cases when high-profile codecs are being used.

On the storage side of things, the Endeavor NP30S comes with a 250GB hard drive pre-installed, which is housed inside the case together with 2GB of DDR3 system memory.

As far as the available connectors are concerned, the system features six USB 2.0 ports, an audio-in and one line-out jack, an Ethernet port, as well as a DVI video output for being connected to a PC monitor.

The optional WiFi support rounds up the features list, while the power consumption of the Epson nettop is estimated at a low 16 Watts at full load (8.9W idle).

Sadly, more advanced features, such as USB 3.0 or an HDMI output, are not provided, so the NP30S isn’t suited for being used as an HTPC.

Epson’s Endeavor NP30S small form factor PC is already on sale in Japan where it retails for 29,820 Yen (about $386 or 296 EUR), according to TechPowerUp. So far, we don’t know if this mini-PC will make it in other parts of the world.

AMD Android 4.0 Tablet Visited CES 2012, Courtesy of MSI

A report has surfaced about a certain tablet that was shown off during CES 2012, which, for one reason or another, did not get media attention until now. 

No explanation for this perceived oversight has been offered, especially considering that the item was actually quite unique. 

Quite simply, it was an AMD Fusion (though not anymore) APU-powered slate loaded with the Android 4.0 operating system from Google. 

For those unaware, Android 4.0 is the other name that the Ice Cream Sandwich is known by. 

The tablet was made by MSI (Micro-Star International) and is called WindPad 110W

Unfortunately, Advanced Micro Devices itself did not play a part in the creation of this Android-loaded version. 

Instead, MSI made it and used the Android 4.0 ISO for AMD Brazos-based tablets that the Android-x86 project developed. 

That is not to say that the Sunnyvale, California-based company is not interested in the work of the team. 

After all, AMD donated some development boards back in April, 2011, and may end up seeing the AMD "Persimmon" platform of embedded processors get similar code at some point as well. 

Nonetheless, there don't seem to be any plans for future, official AMD Android devices. 

On the bright side, if one happens to own a Brazos tablet, they can go and download the ROM themselves

Be warned, though: while Android 4.0 supposedly runs well enough (UI scrolling worked fine and even a game ran well), there may be issues. The Verge actually got close and personal with the WindPad 110W and reported it freezing and force closing after a few minutes. 

For those who want a reminder, MSI's 10-inch tablet has a screen resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels (an IPS panel), the AMD dual-core Dual Core Z01+HD6250, 2GB/4GB RAM, an SSD of 32/64GB, two cameras, a card reader, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and USB 2.0 (one port), among other things.

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