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Mar 2, 2012

MSI Z77A-GD45 Motherboard Poses for the Camera

If the Z77A-GD65 Intel Ivy Bridge motherboard that we took a look at earlier today is too rich for your blood, you will be glad to know that MSI also prepares a less expensive version of this board, dubbed the Z77A-GD45.

Despite being cheaper, the board will also include the features that made MSI motherboards famous among computer users such as Military Class III components, OC Genie II and ClickBIOS II, but its specs list was reduced a bit.

Gone are the extra SATA 6Gbps connectors or the additional USB 3.0 ports, the GD45 coming instead with just the default connectivity options provided by the Z77 chipset it is based upon.

That being said, we still get most of the features that one would expect from a present day motherboard, while the layout is more than adequate at first look.

Add to that the low price that MSI is supposed to ask for the Z77A-GD45 and it becomes obvious that this motherboard will prove to be quite popular among DIY-ers.

If you don’t believe me check it out for yourself in the gallery below this post.

ASRock Z77 Fatal1ty Professional-M Micro-ATX Ivy Bridge Board Makes Appearance

Besides the Z77 Fatal1ty Professional we presented earlier today, ASRock’s Ivy Bridge Fatal1ty motherboard series includes the micro-ATX Z77 Professional-M LGA 1155 solution that will also be showcased at this year’s CeBIT fair.

Despite the smaller form factor used, the Z77 Professional-M includes many of the features of its older sibling such as a high capacity DIGIPower VRM with 11 phases dedicated to the CPU and 3 to the memory.

 A pair of x16 PCI Express Gen 3.0 slots is also available together with a third PCIe x16 slot, this time Gen 2.0, that has four PCI Express lanes routed to it.

Just like the Z77 Fatal1ty Professional, ASRock’s micro-ATX creation is also compatible with Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFireX dual-GPU setups, but when both of the x16 PCIe 3.0 slots are populated these work at x8 speeds.

A single PCI Express X1 slot completes the specs list, while storage is provided by a total of eight SATA ports, four of these working at 6Gbps speeds.

An additional eSATA 6Gbps port is routed to the back of the board, where TechPowerUp reports that is accompanied by a series of USB 3.0 slots, 7.1-channel audio with S/PDIF out, Gigabit LAN, DVI, D-Sub and HDMI video outputs, as well as by a Clear CMOS switch.

ASRock also installed on the Z77 Fatal1ty Professional-M the now usual on-board Power and Reset switches, a BIOS debug display and an USB 3.0 header for users wanting to route two such high-speed ports in the front of their case.

No information regarding pricing or availability of this motherboard has been made public by ASRock, but more details should be unveiled as we get nearer to the launch of Intel's 7-series chipsets.

Samsung Will Ship Flexible AMOLED Displays in 2012

Samsung may not be making LCDs anymore, but its OLED business is something it is placing great hopes in, as evident from both direct and, in this case, indirect announcements. 

Word just came out that Samsung has decided on a sort of estimated time of arrival for its flexible AMOLED display panels. 

We've known about them for months, but they are still in prototype form, so demos of bendable devices have been sparse. 

Nevertheless, they happened at electronic shows in the past and, if Samsung has its way, devices with flexible AMOLED panels will go on sale this year (2012), according to a report

The first ones will possess a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels, plus a brightness of 300 cd/m2, a color depth of 16.7 million colors and a thickness of 0.27 mm. Their bending radius weight will hover around 2.1 grams. 

Phones and other handsets will make up the first run, with tablets and other consumer electronics to follow. 

All in all, even if the resolution is not the greatest in the world, the panels can only improve from here, especially since Samsung no longer has to divide its attention and resources between multiple display technologies. 

For those who don't know yet, Samsung is spinning off its LCD (liquid crystal display) business, abandoning that ever so slowly sinking ship. 

As such, its mind will dwell upon OLED and AMOLED, and on their many possibilities, more than it would have otherwise. 

Speaking of OLED, Samsung also means to start shipping its 55-inch OLED TV this year, the one it showcased at CES 2012. 

No clue about any prices yet, but you can be sure any of the above will be at least mildly unkind to your financial deposits. We're certain they'll sell anyway, though, even if only for their novelty factor.

Samsung Galaxy S III Planned for an April Release

South Korean mobile phone maker Samsung Electronics is expected to bring to the market in the not too far future a successor for its high-end Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone, none other than the long rumored Galaxy S III.

The company has already confirmed that the device will be unveiled before the middle of the year, but did not offer specific info on when that might happen.

The latest rumors on the matter, however, suggest that Galaxy S III might be launched in April, and that it will benefit from a worldwide simultaneous release. 

Packing a 4.8-inch 1080p high-definition display and a 1.5GHz quad-core Samsung Exynos processor, it will be the next flagship device from Samsung. 

The smartphone is also expected to sport an 8-megapixel photo snapper on the back, along with a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, 4G LTE connectivity, and the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich platform.

MSI Z77A-GD65 Intel Ivy Bridge Motherboard Stars in Picture Preview

With CeBIT 2012 rapidly approaching, more and more motherboard makers rush out to present their solutions based on Intel’s next-generation 7-series chipsets, including MSI, whose upcoming Z77A-GD65 board recently starred in a picture preview.

Not much has changed since our initial encounter with the MSI Z77A-GD65, so this uses the same PCB layout and low profile blue heatspreaders.

If we were to take a look under the PWN heatsinks installed by MSI, we would notice that its creation uses a 9-phase VRM design in order to feed power to the CPU, which should be more than enough for even the fastest Ivy Bridge processors.

The board’s expansion features include three PCI Express x16 slots (two of these are Gen 3.0 compliant), four PCIe x1 slots, as well as eight SATA ports.

Four of these support SATA 6Gbps transfer speeds, two driven by the Intel Z77 chipset, while the other two are controlled by a third-party chip, according to the specs sheet published by eTeknix

As far as the PCIe x16 slots are concerned, only the first of these can work at full x16 speeds, as the second one has only eight PCIe lanes routed to it. These are however compatible with both CrossFireX and SLI setups.

Moving to the back, the connectivity options available include everything that we expect to see from a high-end Z77 motherboard, such as three video outputs (DVI, VGA, and HDMI), a Clear CMOS switch and 7.1 channel audio with S/PDIF out.

MSI has also added two USB 3.0 ports that are driven by the Intel PCH, while two more such high-speed connectors can be routed to the front of the case by connecting them to the provided on-board header. 

No details regarding pricing are available at this time, but the MSI Z77A-GD65 is expected to be showcased at this year’s CeBIT fair, which will open its gates on March 6.

Weird Power Connectors on NVIDIA Kepler GK104 Card

Just when we thought we had nothing to worry about as far as NVIDIA Kepler was concerned, except the potential TDP, the world has stumbled upon something, simply put, strange. 

There appear to be some very strange power connectors on the reference design of the first Kepler-based graphics adapter. 

When we learned about the possibility of the first GK104 GPU-based product to have a 300W TDP, we could guess there would be two power inputs on the card. 

The pictures that TechPowerUp, Expreview, ChipHell and other people online spotted, though, raise some serious questions. 

There appears to be a new type of plug in play, one that stacks a couple of 6-pin (or possibly an 8-pin and a 6-pin) on top of one another. 

This more or less confirms that Kepler will be plagued by an at least mild hunger for energy. 

Then again, that much we would have been able to forgive, as long as the power draw didn't reach GTX 480 levels. 

After all, NVIDIA has just promised that Kepler will be unbeatable when it finally launches on March 23. 

Unfortunately, the placement of the inputs is very worrisome, since it means that there will be no way for the card to be limited to one-slot operation. 

Reference video boards usually take up the space of two PCI Express slots, but replacing the cooler with a better one, especially waterblock, often makes them thin enough to allow another card right next to them. 

If NVIDIA really goes with this implied schematic, it will be tricky to use those two SLI bridge connectors on the PCB, even if there is support for 3-way and 4-way SLI. 

On a related note, the leaked pictures revealed HDMI and DisplayPort outputs, plus 3 NVVDD phases. All we can do now is wait for the launch or some extra unofficial reports.

Microsoft to Release Windows 8 Professional Plus, Ultimate Versions

Microsoft has just made available for download the Consumer Preview flavor of its Windows 8 operating system, yet people are already interested in learning what the future might have in store for them.

Apparently, there might be nine different versions of Windows 8 set to arrive on shelves, at least this is what some enthusiasts found in the Consumer Preview’s registry. 

Among them, we can count the Ultimate SKU that was rumored only a few days ago to have been scrapped from books. 

Microsoft hasn’t made official info on its plans on the matter, but it appears that there will indeed be more Windows flavors, including some unheard of before. 

The full list of Windows 8 SKUs reportedly includes:

  • Windows 8 Starter edition
  • Windows 8 Home Basic Edition
  • Windows 8 Home Premium edition
  • Windows 8 Professional edition
  • Windows 8 Professional Plus edition
  • Windows 8 Enterprise Edition
  • Windows 8 Ultimate edition
  • Windows 8 ARM edition

Previously leaked info on the matter suggested that Microsoft might have decided to reduce the number of Windows versions for the next platform release. 

Apparently, not only is Microsoft keeping the previously known SKUs, but it is also adding a new one into the mix, the Professional Plus version (the Windows 8 ARM edition is new as well, but it was made official last year).

Since the Windows 7 registry does not make reference to the Professional Plus edition, little is known on what it might include. 

Hopefully, Microsoft will be offering some more details on this as soon as next week, during CeBIT in Germany. 

The company announced at the Mobile World Congress that it will be offering some more info on the Windows 8 platform at the said event in Germany.

There, it is expected to detail the Enterprise editions and features of the platform. CeBIT kicks off on March 6th, so stay tuned for more on the matter. 

You can download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Build 8250 via this link.

ASRock to Unveil Z77 Fatal1ty Professional Ivy Bridge Motherboard at CeBIT 2012

At this year’s CeBIT fair, ASRock plans to expand its series of “Fatal1ty” branded gaming motherboards with a new model based on Intel’s upcoming Z77 chipset for Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge LGA 1155 processors.

This new motherboard will be called the Z77 Fatal1ty Professional and will most probably become ASRock’s most advanced gaming board based on a 7-series Intel PCH.

To underline its premium position in the company’s lineup, ASRock fitted the Z77 Fatal1ty Professional with a 20+ phase digital-PWM power circuitry, as well as with two x16 PCI Express 3.0 slots that are compatible with CrossFireX and SLI setups.

An additional PCI Express x16 Gen 2.0 slot is also available (x4 electrical), which is seconded by a PCIe 2.0 x1 and a legacy PCI slot, as well as by no less than 10 SATA ports, six of these supporting SATA 6Gbps transfer speeds.

Moving to the back of the Z77 Fatal1ty Professional, TechPowerUp reports that ASRock’s creation comes fitted with both a HDMI and a DisplayPort output.

In addition, users also get four USB 3.0 ports (driven by the Intel Z77 chipset) and 7.1-channel audio with S/PDIF out, while two additional USB 3.0 ports are available through an on-board header situated right near the six SATA 6Gbps slots. 

A slew of USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port and an Ethernet jack round up the connectivity list, but the rear I/O header also features a Clear CMOS switch. 

Other overclocking oriented features include the presence of on-board Power and Reset buttons and a LED BIOS debug display.

No information regarding pricing or availability of this motherboard was made public by ASRock, but more details should be unveiled as we get nearer to the launch of Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors.

AMD Won't Compete Against Microprocessor Customers in Servers

When AMD announced the acquisition of SeaMicro, some may have grown concerned that the Sunnyvale, California-based company was aiming for a change in tactics on the server front. 

In other words, server makers have a cause to believe that AMD will start making its own such machines. 

According to X-bit Labs, AMD made a point of assuring everyone that it is not its intention to compete with its customers. 

Instead, the corporation will combine the intellectual property and other resources gained from the buyout with its own portfolio. 

In other words, while it will keep supporting SeaMicro's current customers, its future activities will be more in the way of combining IP and Seamicro fabric with its new processors and platforms. 

“Integration our strong AMD Opteron roadmap with SeaMicro's technology will provide customers with a range of processor choices and platforms,” said Lisa Su, general manager of global business units at AMD, according to the report. 

“Our goal is to leverage SeaMicro IP with our Opteron processor to create industry-leading flexible silicon solutions. [...] When we think about SeaMicro acquisition, this is a technology play for us. [...] It is very much possible to [integrate SeaMicro's fabric technology into AMD processors] and when we look at progression of processor technology, [addition of] fabric would be a natural evolution.” 

Long story short, AMD will keep selling SeaMicro SM10000-XE, SM10000-64HD and SM10000-64 servers and, possibly, build successors based on Opteron CPUs. 

It will not, however, do more than that in terms of developing, building and selling servers under its own brand. 

“We will not compete with our customers. Of course, we will support our current SeaMicro customers as we move forward, but our focus is to combine SeaMicro innovative IP and fabric with AMD's technologies, IP and solutions, which allows us to go-to-market in a very efficient way,” said Rory Read, chief executive officer of AMD, during a special conference call regarding the acquisition of SeaMicro.

On March 23, NVIDIA Will Launch GK104 Kepler GTX 600 Cards

After months and months of 28nm video cards being sold only by AMD, we finally know when NVIDIA will launch its next-generation video adapters. 

According to Expreview, the first products based on the GK104 GPU will be made available on March 23 (2012). 

Since the company just a short time ago boldly said nothing will be able to beat Kepler, many people are eagerly anticipating the release. 

It is unclear what the first card will be called. Some think GeForce GTX 680, other mention the GeForce GT 670 Ti name. 

Whichever it is, we hope it will live up to its hype, even if 28nm chip shortages do affect supply. 

At this point, the fabled GK100 has either been scrapped (unlikely) or will be postponed for the second half of 2012, when AMD launches Sea islands.

Canon Intros EOS 5D Mark III DSLR with 22.3 MP Full-Frame Sensor

More than three years after the release of EOS 5D Mark II, Canon has announced a new incarnation of its enthusiast full-frame 5D series in the form of the 5D Mark III, which improves upon many of the features of its predecessor.

The biggest change that Canon brought to the Mark III is the inclusion of a new 22.3MP CMOS full frame sensor which is paired together with the company’s own Digic 5+ image processor.

This configuration allows the EOS 5D Mark III to come with an ISO range of 50 to 102,400 (100 to 25,600, natively), while also being able to reach speeds of up to 6fps in its continuous shooting mode or record high-definition videos.

Both 1080 and 720 recording is supported (1080 at 24/25/30p and 720 at 50/60p), together with stereo sound when the 5D Mark III is paired together with an optional microphone.

Other advancements include a 61-Point High Density Reticular autofocus and 63-zone metering system, a 100 percent coverage optical viewfinder, a larger 1,040,000-dot 3.2-inch rear LCD, the presence of a headphone jack for audio level monitoring and a new Rate button for starring photos quickly during a shoot. 

"We are extremely excited to announce the highly anticipated follow-up to our EOS 5D Mark II, a camera which has been called a 'game-changer' in most professional photography and videography circles,” stated Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, imaging technologies and communications group, Canon U.S.A.

“The EOS 5D Mark III will carry on that tradition, delivering better and more advanced features, helping our customers achieve excellent image quality for stills and video," concluded the company’s rep.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital SLR camera is expected to be available at the end of March 2012 and will be sold in a body-only configuration at an estimated retail price of $3,499.00 (about 2,630 EUR). 

The EOS 5D Mark III will also be available with the EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM zoom lens in a kit for an estimated retail price of $4,299.00 (3,232 EUR).

Asus P8Z77-V Deluxe Intel Ivy Bridge Motherboard Starts Selling in China

With one month to go until the official release of the Intel 7-series chipset family, a Chinese online store has listed Asus’ upcoming P8Z77-V Deluxe motherboard for Ivy Bridge processors with pricing being set at 2,499 RMB ($396 US).

The motherboard is based on Intel’s Z77 chipset, which is the most advanced controller available in the 7-series PCH family.

Designed to be compatible with both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors the Asus board comes fitted with a Digi+ VRM, DDR3-2800MHz overclocking support, EPU, and a TurboV Processing Unit (TPU). 

The board’s expansion features include two PCI Express x16 slots Gen 3.0, one PCIe x16 Gen 2.0 slot (x4 electrical), four PCIe x1 slots, as well as eight SATA ports, TechPowerUp reveals.

Four of these support SATA 6Gbps transfer speeds, two driven by the Intel Z77 chipset, while the other two are controlled by a third-party controller.

As far as the PCIe x16 slots are concerned, only the first of these can work at full x16 speeds as the second one has only eight PCIe lanes routed to it, but SLI or CrossFireX multi-GPU technologies are both supported.

Moving to the back, the connectivity options available include everything that we expect to see from a high-end Z77 board, such as HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs, two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces (one driven by Intel 82579V, one by Realtek RTL8111F PHY), wireless b/g/n (quad-band), Bluetooth 3.0, as well as a pair of eSATA 6Gbps ports.

Asus has also added eight USB 3.0 ports, six installed on the rear I/O header, while the remaining two can be routed to the front of the case by connecting them to the provided on-board header. 

The Asus P8Z77-V Deluxe is expected to be officially announced on April 8, when rumors indicate that Intel plans to introduce its new 7-series chipsets.

Overclocker Breaks DDR3 Clock Record, G.Skill Kit Reaches 3736MHz

Looks like the world records for overclocking have suffered another severe case of breakage, and it's all Christian Ney's fault. 

The Swiss overclocker boldly fashioned himself a home-made test bench and forced a 4 GB G.Skill extreme RipjawsZ memory kit to run so fast that it shattered the limits previously set. 

By the end of the experiment, the clock speed was of 3,736 MHz. 

“It was a lot of fun while tweaking G.SKILL memory. You can feel the unlimited potential and always want to go higher and higher” said by Christian Ney. 

HWBOT has already validated the results, so go here to learn more about the feat. We will just sit back and take in that huge number. 

If this is what DDR3 can do, we can only wonder what DDR4 will bring.

Nokia Belle Feature Pack 1 Coming Soon to Nokia 603, 700 and 701 Smartphones

One month after Nokia deployed the long-awaited Belle upgrade for the Symbian Anna smartphones, the Finnish company promises that the first major update of the operating system will be rolled out in the coming months.

It appears that the first smartphones to receive the Feature Pack 1 update will be Nokia 603, Nokia 700 and Nokia 701. 

Currently, the latest iteration of Symbian operating system comes on the newly announced Nokia 808 PureView smartphone, which is expected to arrive on the market in May for around 600 US dollars (450 Euro) before taxes and subsidies.

One of the most important changes added by Nokia Belle Feature Pack 1 is the processor speed improvement. According to the Finnish company, those who own a Nokia 700 or 701 smartphone will have their CPUs’ power boosted from 1GHz to 1.3GHz.

This is not often possible via a software update, but Nokia found a way to do it and will deliver it soon on Nokia 700 and 701 devices.

It is also worth mentioning the new and improved entertainment experience, which is boosted by Dolby Headphone and Dolby Digital Plus. These can turn music or movie playback into an enhanced personal surround sound experience.

Even though Nokia Belle offers improved personalization options, with Feature Pack 1, Nokia 603, 700 and 701 owners will be provided with even more customization features, including 20 new and improved widgets.

The notifications bar has been improved, along with the multitasking bar. The integrated browser is now much faster and supports HTML5. Microsoft Apps will also be available through OTA (over the air) update, as well as through the latest iteration of Nokia Maps.

Apparently, only Nokia 603, 700 and 701 will receive this Feature Pack 1, while the Nokia 808 PureView will come pre-loaded with the latest iteration of Symbian operating system.

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