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Mar 9, 2012

FujiFilm X100 Black Edition Now Shipping, Limited to 10,000 Units




Fujifilm has just announced that the company’s Black Edition X100 rangefinder-like camera has become available for purchase.

Compared to the regular version, this new X100 arrives in a package containing a genuine leather ever-ready case (black of course), a lens hood, an adapter ring and a protective filter.

All these are also accompanied by a card that basically says you have one of the only 10,000 Black Edition X100s available worldwide.

In case you aren't that familiar with the Fujifilm X100, you should know that the camera has a 12.3-megapixel sized CMOS image sensor, a Fujifilm EXR processor, a 23mm F2 Fujinon lens, a hybrid viewfinder and a 2.8-inch LCD display.

Pricing for the regular version is set at $1,200 (866 EUR), but since this model is a limited edition product Fujifilm saw it fit to price it at an impressive $1,700 (roughly 1,288 EUR).


AMD Prices FX-4170 and FX-6200 Bulldozer CPUs




Two weeks after it introduced the FX-4170 and FX-6200 processors into its Bulldozer CPU lineup, AMD added the MSRPs of these two chips to its official price list, thus confirming the rumors that suggested these were considerably more expensive than their predecessors.

Both the FX-4170 and FX-6200 are a great deal faster than the FX-4100 and the FX-6100 they replace, so when it priced these two chips AMD decided that they should cost $20 more than their predecessors.

As a result, the FX-4170 has an MSRP of $135 (about 102 EUR), while the FX-6200 has a recommended price of $165 (roughly 125 EUR).

The FX-4170 is a quad-core processor with a base speed of 4.2GHz and a 4.3GHz maximum Turbo, which is quite a departure from AMD’s original FX-4100 that works at 3.6/3.8GHz.

Since the chip comprises just two Bulldozer modules, its L2 cache is limited at 4MB, but the good news is that AMD kept the Level 3 cache intact, so the FX-4170 packs 8MB of last level memory.

The FX-6200 also comes equipped with 8MB of L3 cache, but its Level 2 cache size was increased at 6MB since this is a six-core processor.

The base operating frequency of the FX-6200 is set at 3.8GHz, but this can go as high as 4.1GHz when not all its cores are in use, thanks to the inclusion of AMD’s Turbo Core dynamic overclocking technology. 

Both the FX-4170 and the FX-6200 have a TDP of 125 Watts and have arrived in stock at several retailers across the US, including Amazon, Provantage, and Newegg, according to CPU-World.

The FX-4100 and FX-6100 will continue to co-exist with these new AMD chips for a while, but nobody knows for sure how long this will continue to happen.


iOS 5.1 Jailbreakers Between a Rock and a Hard Place




Everyone is talking about the new features delivered in the latest software updates from Apple, and with the new iPad on the scene, it’s hardly a surprise that the security side of these updates has been somewhat overlooked.

Fear not. We’re eager to discuss the latest patches included in iOS 5.1, iTunes 10.6, and the new Apple TV 5.0 software, now that everyone has calmed down a bit.

iOS 5.1 brings, by far, the most plugs for the latest vulnerabilities discovered in Apple’s mobile operating system powering iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch players everywhere.

Around 12 different holes are specifically mentioned in Apple’s support document detailing the security content of iOS 5.1. However, as the advisory shows, there are over 80 security issues addressed in total - most of which affected WebKit, Apple’s layout engine designed to allow web browsers to render web pages.

Affecting iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation) and later, the original iPad, as well as the iPad 2, multiple memory corruption issues that existed in WebKit could lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution by visiting a maliciously crafted website.

With the help of numerous security researchers, as well as its own techies, Apple plugged these holes once and for all. But don’t fret. That doesn’t mean there won’t be any new ones in the future.

Now that you know all this, perhaps you’ll consider updating sooner rather than later. Of course, if you’re an avid jailbreak fan, you’ll find yourself between a rock and a hard place.

As you’ll recall, the iPhone Dev Team has warned jailbreakers to stay away from the stock iOS 5.1 firmware, should they wish to keep their ability to jailbreak and / or unlock their devices in the future.

Moving on to the security content of iTunes 10.6, Apple lists roughly the same WebKit vulnerabilities. WebKit is actually at the heart of iTunes - it’s used to display every app icon and album artwork you see in the iTunes Store.

However, the impact of those memory corruption issues is slightly different on Mac and Windows computers. Per Apple’s advisory…:

“A man-in-the-middle attack while browsing the iTunes Store via iTunes may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution.”

Finally, Apple TV Software 5.0 patches a single vulnerability tracked down by Ilja van Sprundel of IOActive.

According to Apple’s security note, Sprundel discovered that “an integer overflow existed in the handling of DNS resource records, which may lead to heap memory corruption.”

Should the user keep the Apple TV software below 5.0, this end scenario could potentially arise: “Applications that use the libresolv library may be vulnerable to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution.”


Intel Medfield-Based Handset Beats Galaxy Nexus in Benchmark Test




Intel’s Medfield application processor can deliver great performance capabilities inside smartphones, at least this is what recently performed benchmarking tests show. 

The Medfield-powered Orange Smartphone was recently subjected to two such tests, Rightware, which spun off from Futuremark only recently, and Vellamo, and showed appealing capabilities. 

In Rightware, which measures browser’s performance in JavaScript and HTML rendering, the handset scored 89180, higher than the Apple iPhone 4S with its 87801 score, but lower than the 98272 score that Samsung Galaxy Nexus marked. 

In the second test, Vellamo by Qualcomm (a suite of 11 separate benchmarks that test HTML, JavaScript, pixel blending, screen scrolling, sun-spider, V8 and more), the Orange handset managed to score higher than the Galaxy Nexus, though lower than ASUS Transformer. 

You can learn more on the testing on Caschys Blog.



CeBIT 2012: LG Showcases Xnote Z330 Ultrabook, Thinner Than a MacBook Air




Introduced in Korea at the end of last year, LG’s thinner than a MacBook Air Xnote Z330 Ultrabook made its appearance at this year’s CeBIT fair, suggesting that the company plans to make its ultra-thin available in other parts of the world.

Borrowing more than a few design hints from its Apple-built rival, the Z330 was designed around a 13.3-inch display with a native resolution of 1366x768 pixels.

Thanks to the company’s proprietary Shuriken technology, the display is surrounded by a bezel measuring a mere 8mm, which enables the Z330 to sport a bigger screen, while keeping the size of its creation similar to that of a 12-inch notebook model.

Taking a look at the insides of LG’s new Xnote, we get to see the same Intel Core i5-2467M or Core i7-2637M processors that are standard for most Ultrabooks out there, paired with 4GB of RAM memory.

For storage, users can choose between two SSD drives, one featuring 120GB of storage space and a SATA 6Gbps controller, while the other increases the available capacity to 256GB, but drops speeds to SATA 3Gbps.

Graphics come courtesy of the built-in Intel HD 3000 graphics core found inside the company’s Sandy Bridge processors.

In the connectivity department LG went with a full features list including WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0+HS, Intel WIDI, USB 3.0 and a microSD card reader, according to Netbook News.

Just like most other Ultrabooks, the Xnote Z330 was also tweaked to provide fast boot and resume times, LG saying that its creation requires only 7s to be ready to go (resume time), while for shutting down it needs 9.9s.

While no details regarding the European or the US price of the Xnote Z330 have been made available by the company, in Korea this starts at 1.7m Won, which is the equivalent of $1,509 US or 1,140 EUR.





Intel Readies 3.1GHz Dual-Core Pentium G870 CPU for Q2 Launch




By the end of the second quarter of this year, Intel is expected to launch a new Pentium processor based on the company’s Sandy Bridge architecture, which will improve upon the specs of its predecessor.

The new Intel CPU, called the Pentium G870, was uncovered by Fudzilla, which also provided us with an almost full list of its key specifications.

Starting with the release of its first Sandy Bridge Pentium processors, every Pentium CPU introduced by Intel since then has come as a 100MHz higher clocked part when compared to its predecessor.

The dual-core Pentium G870 is no exception to this rule and, as CPU-World reports, other than this small speed bump it will most probably be identical with the current G860.

What this means is that the 3.1GHz CPU should come equipped with 3MB of Level 3 cache memory, built-in Intel HD graphics, SSE4 support, as well as with an integrated dual-channel memory controller.

Other more advanced features like Hyper-Threading or AVX support are sadly missing from the features pack, as is the case with most other Sandy Bridge-based Pentium CPUs out there (the only exception is the Pentium 350 for micro-servers). 

The TDP of the Pentium G870 should be set at 65 Watts, while its MSRP should remain identical with that of the 860 ($86 US).

Intel introduced its first Pentium processors based on the Sandy Bridge architecture in May last year. Since then, this product family has been refreshed only once, in September 2011.

It looks like the G870 will be the chip maker’s last Pentium CPU to utilize the Sandy Bridge design, as in the third quarter of this year this line will be updated to include some new chips derived from the company’s 22nm Ivy Bridge architecture.


Samsung Trademarks Galaxy Thunder, Express, and Accelerate




South Korean mobile phone maker Samsung Electronics is gearing up for the release of new Android-based devices in the United States, new trademark filing shows.

The handset vendor has filed trademark request for the Galaxy Thunder, Galaxy Express, and Galaxy Accelerate names, which might be used for new smartphones in the near future. 

Rumor has it that these names could be soon attached to the company’s US flavors of Galaxy S III, supposedly the successor of last year’s highly popular Galaxy S II smartphone

Recently, the company has trademarked some other names that will supposedly be paired with new handsets, but nothing has been officially confirmed on the matter so far. 

Additionally, the company trademarked the name of Samsung Wallet, and Pocketnow notes that this could be the name for some sort of a Google Wallet competitor, though it sounds rather far-fetched.


CM9 ROM Emerges for Sprint’s Epic 4G Touch




The owners of a Samsung Epic 4G Touch smartphone on Sprint’s airwaves can now install a new unofficial ROM on their devices, this time based on CyanogenMod 9 software. 

This means that the ROM will bring along the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system on the mobile phone, so that users could get a taste of the latest advancements Google packed its OS with. 

The new ROM comes from XDA-Developers Forum and is currently in an alpha stage of development, which means that users will experience issues with it. 

To install it, they will have to get the EL29 version of ClockworkMod Recovery on their devices, and then flash CM9. The installation will fail with other builds, it appears. 

Those interested in putting this ROM on their devices should head over to the XDA-Developers to learn more on it. A second CM9 ROM for this mobile phone is detailed here.


Gigabyte GA-6PXSV1 LGA 2011 Server Motherboard Makes Appearance




Motherboard maker Gigabyte has recently added a new LGA 2011 server solution to its product portfolio, dubbed the GA-6PXSV1, which was designed in order to be used together with Intel’s latest Xeon E5-1600 series processors.

The board is based on the Intel C604 chipset and it sports a single LGA 2011 socket.

The first thing that one notices when taking a look at the GA-6PXSV1 is the fact that the board comes equipped with no less than eight DIMM memory sockets.

According to Gigabyte, these are compatible with both RDIMM and ECC memory modules and enable the board to support as much as 256GB of 1600MHz memory.

Right to the left of the DIMM sockets, Gigabyte has placed the board's expansion slots, which include a pair of PCI Express x16 Gen 3.0 slots, one PCIe x8 slot, one PCI Express x4 slot, as well as a legacy 32-bit PCI slot. 

Storage is provided by no less than six SATA ports, two of these working at 6Gbps speeds, and are accompanied by four SAS 6Gbps ports placed right near the board's left margin. All of these are driven by the C604 chipset. 

Other features include USB 3.0 connectivity, support for the enterprise version of Intel's Rapid Storage Technology (IRST), and a six-phase CPU PWM with DrMOS MOSFET transistors.

On the back of the GA-6PXSV1, outside of the regular connectors, users will also find a pair of KVM network ports.

Sadly, Gigabyte hasn’t provided any information regarding the release date or the price of this server motherboard.

The picture accompanying this article is that of a pre-production sample which was showcased during IDF 2011, as Gigabyte hasn’t made any new images of the GA-6PXSV1 board available.


Raspberry Pi Will Only Ship at the End of March from RS




Not long after the Raspberry Pi foundation revealed its unfortunate manufacturing hiccup, we get a clear idea of when the small PCs will start shipping.

We didn't expect to learn about this so soon after the problems revealed by the developers of the Raspberry Pi, but here we are.

RS Components, one of the two retailers that have signed on to distribute the credit-card-sized PC, now know when it will start shipping them.

Apparently, it hasn't even received the first batch of boards. That will only happen at the end of the month (March, 2012).

That means that people who placed pre-orders still have to wait for a few weeks, especially since the deliveries will be carried out on a first-come, first-served basis.

“We have never experienced this level of interest in a product and it has been challenging to address the unexpectedly high levels of demand. However, rather than simply rush Raspberry Pi to market, our priority is to ensure that customers receive a product of outstanding quality and reliability,” said Glenn Jarrett, head of electronics marketing at RS Components.

“I know it’s frustrating for those waiting to receive a board but I’m certain they will be delighted when they get it. We’d like customers to know that RS is working on a number of initiatives to help them get the most from these innovative, educational computer boards and we’ll be announcing these over the coming weeks.”

Basically, if you are one of the people who got lucky and ordered one early on, you'll get it soon, while everyone else will have to keep waiting.

“We’ve every confidence that our chosen distributors are doing everything possible to satisfy the amazing demand for our first product,” Liz Upton said on behalf of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

“The level of demand has really taken us by surprise but we know that RS has committed all available resources to ramp up production and deliver Raspberry Pi boards to eager customers as soon as possible.”


CeBIT 2012: ASUS PA248Q Monitor with 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub




CeBIT is still underway in Hannover, Germany, and ASUS has various things to show there, such as the unusual PA248Q monitor. 

It isn't some special resolution, brightness or other display parameter that makes this thing stand apart from all of the others of its type. 

Granted, the IPS panel does give it better viewing angles than most, but we will get to that in due time. 

What really makes the ASUS PA248Q unique is its integration of a 4-port USB 3.0 hub. 

The universal serial bus is probably there so that media can be played directly off flash drives or external HDDs/SSDs. 

That said, the 24-inch IPS panel that we mentioned above enables viewing angles of 1,920 x 1,200 pixels. 

Also, the contrast ratio of the screen is a nice 5,000:1, which is more than what most monitors can brag about. 

The one area where the ASUS display doesn't excel is responsiveness: the response time is 6 ms instead of 5 or less, which means that gamers may or may not look for alternatives, depending on how much of a difference they perceive. 

The brightness, on the other hand, is better than some may expect: 400 cd/m2. 

For the sake of comparison, high-end panels often settle for 350 cd/m2 or 300, while others consider 250 cd/m2 a standard of sorts. 

Moving on, ASUS chose LED backlighting, hence the above parameters, but this is no longer surprising, knowing that CCFL have all but faded away (though some may disagree). 

Finally, the stand allows for swivel, tilt, pivot and height adjustments and, for connections to a PC, buyers will get to choose between D-Sub, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort inputs. Pre-orders should already be possible, though it depends on retailers and region. The price is $594, which translates into 449.38 Euro, if current exchange rates are anything to go by.


Spire SkyMax Chills NVIDIA and AMD Graphics Cards




Showing that it hasn't decided to slack off, Spire has officially announced the SkyMax VGA cooler, one that should already be available, in China at least. 

Graphics cards have their own coolers, but some people want to change them anyway, to make their models run more silently or just get ventilated better. 

Spire believes that its SkyMax is just the thing people need, as long as their video adapter works on 180 W or less. 

It relies on five copper heatpipes to bring the heat from the GPU to the fin array, though said pipes don't make direct contact with the chip. 

The heatsink itself boasts an open design, which means that whatever air the fans throw at, it goes on to wash over the rest of the graphics card. 

That way, even if there is no base plate or heatpipe to make contact with the other chips on the PCB, air will constantly flow over it. 

As for the DC fans themselves, there are three of them and boast a diameter of 90 mm (for the one at the center) and 80 mm (the other two). Combined, they achieve an air pressure of 36.5 CFM. 

Both mid-range and high-end graphics adapters can draw benefit from the SkyMax cooler. 

Be advised, though: if you are thinking of getting it for the upcoming NVIDIA Kepler card, you might want to look elsewhere since that one supposedly runs at 300W

Also, installing the cooler may not be possible on that thing for another reason: the strange PCI Express power connectors stacked on top of one another

The price Spire has stapled on the SkyMax is $59.99 in the US and 44.95 Euro in Europe. Sales should already be underway, but if retailers near you still don't list it, it may be that the company is slower at international shipments than in China.







CeBIT 2012: Intel H77 Powered Gigabyte H77M-D3H Micro-ATX Board Makes Its Appearance




Besides the Intel Z77 powered solutions we have seen so far, Gigabyte’s Ivy Bridge motherboard lineup also includes a series of H77 Express models, such as the micro-ATX GA-H77M-D3H the company had on display at its CeBIT booth this year.

The H77 chipset includes many features of the Z77 PCH, but it lacks the PCI Express flexibility offered by its older brother.

More specifically, the H77 chipset can’t split the 16 PCIe Gen 3.0 lanes available in Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors into dual x8 links, so this PCH isn’t compatible with CrossFireX or SLI setups.

This means that even though Gigabyte installed two PCI Express x16 slots in the H77M-D3H, only the first one of these can work at x16 speeds, while the latter is limited at PCIe x4.

The rest of the expansion slots include a PCI Express x1 slot as well as a legacy 32-bit PCI slot, while for storage purposes Gigabyte choose to rely on the six SATA interfaces available in Intel’s chipset, two of which run at SATA 6Gbps speeds.

Since we are dealing with an entry-level Ivy Bridge motherboard, the rest of its features list is rather unimpressive.

Furthermore, Gigabyte also decided that the H77M-D3H doesn’t require any sort of VRM cooling, which could prove to be a problem if you plan to run this motherboard overclocked.

Moving to the rear of Gigabyte’s creation, we get to see that the board includes four USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet jack, and the now usual D-Sub, DVI and HDMI video outputs.

No information regarding the price, or the availability of the H77M-D3H, was brought to our attention by Gigabyte.

However, considering the unimpressive features list of the H77M-D3H, we expect this motherboard to become one of the cheapest 7-series LGA 1155 solutions out there.





Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs to Launch on April 29, More Models on June 3




The rumored April 29 release of Intel’s next-gen 22nm Ivy Bridge processors was apparently confirmed by a recently leaked company slide which also mentions that a second batch of third generation Core chips will arrive on June 3, 2012.

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.

On June 3, Intel will out a new series of Ivy Bridge CPUs that have lower power requirements, as well as the Q77 and Q75 motherboard chipsets.

According to the same slide leaked by Donanim Haber, the last batch of next-gen 22nm processors is scheduled for the summer of 2012, when Intel will introduce a series of new SKUs in the entry-level Core i3 and Pentium product lines.

As far as chipsets are concerned, on April 29, Intel will unveil the Z77, H77, Z75 and B75 platform controller hubs for desktop systems and the HM77, UM77, HM76 and HM75 notebooks chipsets.

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 has updated the integrated PCI Express controller to the 3.0 standard.

More details regarding the specifications of Intel’s Ivy Bridge CPUs are available in this article, while a preview of the HD 4000 graphics core, included in the Core i7-3770K, is available here.



The New iPad Is All Battery Inside




Knowing that the iPad 2 boasts a 25-watt-hour battery that already takes up three quarters of the space inside its chassis, one has to wonder how much room can the new iPad’s 42.5-watt-hour battery take?

The lot, according to Jordan Kahn of 9to5mac, who easily deducted that the rechargeable lithium-polymer battery with 70 percent more capacity will cover almost the entire surface area of the new tablet computer.

Apple increased the size of the battery mainly to cope with the much more powerful A5X processor that outputs crisp graphics onto a Retina display made up of a whopping 3.1 million pixels.

That’s not all though. The battery also needs to provide 10 hours of “wireless productivity” in accordance with Apple’s marketing materials. 3G radios are power hungry enough. The new LTE chips found inside the third-generation iPad will have an even greater appetite.

Granted, Apple does say the new iPad offers only 9 hours of productivity on LTE.

Not to mention that the A5X is said to have double the RAM of the A5. According to Kahn, 1GB of random access memory “would [also] require additional power.”

All in all, Apple made every effort imaginable to keep the longstanding battery life of the iPad in place.

Prior to Apple’s March 7 event in San Francisco, I’d been asked by some of my Twitter followers whether I believed the next-generation iPad would offer less battery life, the culprit being all of the rumored enhancements.

My answers were swift, mainly because of the 140 character limit that the microblogging service imposes per each message, but also because I knew Apple would never downgrade such a vital aspect like battery life.

It’s simply not good for business. I estimated that whatever sorcery Apple had to pull in order to keep marketing the iPad with its 10 hour battery, they’d do it. Between you and me, it was a no brainer.


CeBIT 2012: Single Slot AMD Radeon HD 7850 Showcased by AFOX




Virtually unknown outside of Asia, AFOX, a Hong Kong-based graphics card maker, showcased during this year’s CeBIT fair an innovative Radeon HD 7850 model that occupies a single slot inside the systems case.

AFOX’s latest creation, which is called the AF7850-1024D5S1, is based on a redesigned PCB that makes the card slightly longer than the reference HD 7850 design.

This is covered by a long plastic shroud which carries AMD’s and AFOX’s logos.

The cooling system comprises a large aluminum heatsink with tightly-packed fins, while the heat is drawn from the GPU via a copper plate.

Air is flown through the aluminum channels by a large diameter blower type fan which sits at the front of the graphics card.

While VR-Zone hasn't provided us with any pictures showing the base of the cooling assembly, it is pretty safe to assume that the card sports some kind of VRM and memory chip cooling.

Despite its single-slot design, the AFOX single-slot Radeon HD 7850 comes with an almost full set of display connectors, which includes a dual-link DVI port, a full-size HDMI 1.4a port, a DisplayPort 1.2 video output, as well as a full-size DisplayPort connector.

As far as the operating frequencies of the card are concerned, the GPU comes slightly overclocked to work at 900MHz instead of AMD’s recommended 860MHz.

However, the video buffer memory was cut to just 1GB, from the Radeon HD 7850 stock 2GB, and underclocked by 75MHz (300MHz effectively), for an effective clock speed of 4.5GHz compared to the reference 4.8GHz.

AFOX hasn’t provided any details regarding the pricing or availability of its graphics card.

The Radeon HD 7850 is based on the Pitcairn Pro core and it packs 1024 stream processors, 64 texturing units, 32 ROP units and the GPU is linked to the 2GB of video buffer via a 256-bit wide memory interface.



Raspberry Pi Delayed Because of Component Mix-Up




All the hype raised around the Raspberry Pi single-board, credit card-sized PC continues to rise, but not all is well on the company's side. 

The Raspberry Pi Foundation actually ran into a small manufacturing problem that has already pushed back the start of shipments. 

Long story short, the factory used non-magnetic Internet jacks in the PCs instead of magnetic ones. 

That means that none of the Raspberry Pi made so far, save for those produced after the discovery, have network support. 

Hopefully, the “slight delay” will be negligible, especially after how successful the first batch of orders was. 

The retailers distributing the Linux PCs may have been partially at fault for not accurately estimating the demand, but it still takes a certain kind of product for the amount of orders to crash both of their servers.


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