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Mar 12, 2012

Intel to Discontinue Nehalem-Based Xeon 5500 CPUs

Now that the company has introduced its brand new Xeon E5 processors based on the Sandy Bridge-EP architecture, Intel has announced that it will soon discontinue the previous Xeon 5500 CPU series based on the older Nehalem-EP core.

Intel announced its plans through a Product Change Notification (PCN) document that was released shortly before the official launch of the Xeon E5 CPU series.

This decision affects no less than 16 processors, including five chips from the high-performance W- and X-series, 8 mainstream E-series models, as well as three low-power Xeon 5500 CPUs.

The last order date for the processors affected is September 28, 2012, while shipments will continue until March 27, 2015. The boxed versions of these chips will be shipped as long as supplies last.

The only exceptions to this rule are the embedded versions of the Xeon E5540 and E5504 SKUs, which will be available for ordering even after September 28, 2012, as Intel has yet to release any replacements for these chips.

The Tylersburg platform, which the Xeon 5500 series processors are part of, was released by Intel more than 3 years ago.

In the meantime, Nehalem-based Xeon 5500 microprocessors were superseded by Xeon 5600 CPUs, which utilized the newer Westmere-EP architecture, but this hasn’t stopped Intel from manufacturing these chips.

With the launch of the Roomly platform, however, their era is now finally over since Intel’s server clients have a variety of other chips to replace them with.

This includes the company’s new dual-socket six- and eight-core Xeon E5-2600 SKUs, the single-socket E5-1600 models and a series of other CPUs, which should be able to deliver similar performance while requiring less power in order to operate.

Dell’s Upcoming 15.6-Inch XPS Notebook Detailed Ahead of Launch

Dell is currently working on a new version of its popular 15.6-inch XPS series notebooks that will be designed to feature Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors and, most probably, Nvidia Kepler graphics.

Some of the specifications of this new XPS range were uncovered by Dell Labs, which has learned that for these notebooks Dell plans to switch to a Full HD 15.6-inch display.

This will apparently come packing a special anti-glare coating to make it legible even in direct sunlight, although we tend to believe that a glossy version of the display will also be available.

On the inside, the new XPS models will be powered by Intel’s 22nm Ivy Bridge processors, with users being able to choose between the Core i5-3210M and the Core i7-3612QM.

Even though both of these chips support about the same feature sets, the i7-3612QM is actually a quad-core CPU clocked at 2.3GHz and with a 3.3GHz maximum Turbo speed, while the Core i5-3210M includes only two processing cores clocked at 2.5GHz (3.1GHz maximum Turbo).

Dell will apparently pair these chips with 1GB and 2GB Nvidia Kepler GPUs and with between 2GB and 8GB of system memory. Both 1333MHZ and 1600MHz options will be available.

Business customers can also opt for having a TPM module installed in their Dell XPS laptop.

As far as storage is concerned, Dell will provide various hard drive and SSD options to its clients with capacities going all the way to 1TB (512GB in the case of SSDs).

Those requiring additional storage space, or higher data transfer speeds, from their notebook, are also free to pair it with an mSATA solid state drive, Dell offering these in capacities ranging from 32GB to 256GB.

The rest of the features list includes a 9Cell 65WHr battery pack as well as an x8 DVD-RW or an x5 DVDRW/Blu-ray combo optical drive.

Sadly, no details regarding the prices or the availability of the Dell XPS L521X notebooks have been made available so far. However, if we were to guess, we would say that these should be announced at the end of April or early May, soon after Intel makes its Ivy Bridge CPUs official.

Linux Kernel 3.2.10 Is Available for Download

A few minutes ago, March 12th, Greg Kroah-Hartman announced the immediate available for download of the tenth maintenance release of the stable Linux kernel 3.2 series. 

Linux kernel 3.2.10 incorporates lots of ARM updates, improvements for the ALSA sound system, s390 and x86 fixes, as well as many updated drivers.

"I'm announcing the release of the 3.2.10 kernel.All users of the 3.2 kernel series must upgrade."

"The updated 3.2.y git tree can be found at: git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-3.2.y and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser: http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git;a=summary" - said Greg KH in the email announcement.

As usual, the Linux kernel 3.2.10 is a must-grab upgrade for all users of the Linux 3.2 kernel stable series. Upgrade as soon as possible.

Download Linux kernel 3.2.10 right now here (linux-3.2.10.tar.bz2).

Acer Readies Aspire VA40 Notebook with Ivy Bridge CPUs and Nvidia Kepler Graphics

Besides the Aspire V3 and V5 notebooks that were presented at this year’s CeBIT fair, Acer’s 2012 Aspire range will also include the VA40 series of 14-inch laptops sporting Intel 22nm Ivy Bridge CPUs and next-gen Nvidia Kepler discrete graphics.

Such a notebook has recently entered into the possession of Chinese website Expreview, which made sure to snap a few screenshots of its configuration before sending it back.

These have revealed that the Aspire VA40 laptop in question is powered by an Intel Core i7-3612QM processor, which is one of the chipmaker’s most powerful mobile CPUs, since it packs four computing cores with Hyper-Threading support.

The CPU has a base frequency of 2.1GHz, but thanks to Intel’s Turbo Boost technology can reach speeds as high as 3.1GHz when a single core is active.

In the Aspire VA40 notebook detailed by Expreview, the Intel Ivy Bridge processor was paired together with a GeForce GT 640M discrete graphics card.

Based on the GK107 core, Nvidia’s Kepler GPU allegedly features 384 CUDA cores, 16 ROP units and a 128-bit bus, which in Acer’s creation is linked to 2GB of DDR3 memory.

According to GPU-Z, the memory works at 900MHz, while the GK107 graphics processor has a base frequency of 405MHz.

The GPU utilizes the PCI Express 3.0 interface and is also compatible with Nvidia’s Optimus technology.

This automatically switches between the CPU integrated Intel HD 4000 GPU and the GeForce GT 640M discrete graphics core depending on the task run.

The Acer notebook also includes 6GB of system memory and runs the Windows 7 Home Premium operating system.

No information regarding the release date or the price of the Aspire VA40 have been provided, but we expect this to be announced at the end of April, right after Intel makes its first Ivy Bridge CPUs official.

Firefox for Windows 8’s Metro UI with Internet Explorer’s Integration Level

When made available for the upcoming Windows 8 operating system, Mozilla’s Firefox web browser will benefit from a level of integration similar to the one available for Internet Explorer. 

Mozilla has already started the work on the Metro-Style flavor of the application, and they now have a proof of concept. 

We already knew that Internet Explorer 10 wouldn’t be the only browser available for the Windows 8 platform. What we didn’t know, however, was to what extent rival applications would be able to take advantage of the OS’s resources. 

Apparently, in order to be a Metro application, Firefox, the same as any other browser designed for the Windows 8 platform, will have to take advantage of the entire new WinRT API that Microsoft came up with for the OS. 

At the same time, the application could enjoy access to Win32 API, thus benefiting from the same “split personality” that Internet Explorer 10 takes advantage of on the platform. 

“If we do our job, Firefox on Windows 8 Metro should be every bit as capable and integrated with the system as Internet Explorer,” Mozilla’s Asa Dotzler announced last week. 

Microsoft has already outlined the requirements for the development of browsers for the upcoming platform. 

The company stressed on the fact that browsers built for the Metro UI would be able to run both in desktop and in Metro mode, but only if they wereset as default browsers on the system. 

“Metro style enabled desktop browsers are capable of activating in both the desktop and the Metro style user experience (the latter only when configured as the default browser),” Microsoft explains. 

Any browser built using the WinRT API can become default browser. This means that the browser will have its own tile on the Start Screen, and that it needs to be displayed there in a manner similar to Metro style apps. 

Microsoft has made available for download a document that outlines all the requirements for Metro-enabled browsers in Windows 8, as well as certain stages that need to be taken into consideration during the development process. 

The team behind Firefox will need to apply these to their application to make it a Metro-style browser, which means that it would take a while before the browser is released in a useful form. 

Their roadmap points at Firefox 14 (currently due July 17th) as the possible implementation of the Metro UI. However, the process might be lengthier. The Metro-enabled Firefox will get through all the usual stages Mozilla adopted for its releases: a working version, the alpha flavor, beta, and then the final release.

Samsung Series 5 Ultrabooks Pre-Orders Possible

Samsung's Series 5 ultrabooks may not be any easier to buy than the ASUS UX31A and UX21A Zenbooks, but they are available for pre-order at least. 

The 13.3-inch Series 5 has a price of $879 (670.07 Euro), while the 14-inch model bears a price of $917 (699 Euro). The display resolution is 1,366 x 768 pixels. 

That said, their other specs are more or less the same, which is not really a shock. 

An Intel Core i5-2467M dual-core CPU is backed up by 4 GB of DDR3 memory and a 500 GB HDD with 16 GB NAND flash cache. 

Also, two USB 2.0 ports are present, as is USB 3.0, a webcam, Bluetooth 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, a 4-in-1 card slot and, on the 14-incher, an optical disk drive. 

There doesn't seem to be any mention of Radeon hybrid graphics unfortunately. Hopefully the integrated Intel GMA HD is good enough on its own.

ASUS UX31A and UX21A Zenbooks Use Ivy Bridge CPUs

We don't know when ASUS will release the ultrabooks equipped with Intel's new central processing units, but everything else about them somehow made it to the net.

The folks at The Verge scraped together the relevant details pertaining to the Zenbook UX31A and UX21A.

These two are powered by the Ivy Bridge central processing units (CPUs) that, some feel, Intel should have launched by now.

Nonetheless, the processors are still unavailable, which means that ASUS won't start selling these two products before they show up.

It also means that there is no set availability date at the moment, even though the prices are known.

Speaking of which, the UX31A and UX21A will sell for $1,050 and $1,100, respectively, which translates into 800.42 Euro and 838.54 Euro.

The specifications of the two are mostly the same, with only the matte screens as a differing quality: the former measures 13.3 inches, while the latter has an 11.6-inch panel.

Customers will get to select between a regular LCD or an IPS display, which has better brightness (350 nits instead of 300).

The resolution is of 1,600 x 900 pixels on the UX31A, and 1,366 x 768 pixels on the UX21A.

Moving on, the processor is a dual-core Intel Core i3, Core i5 or Core i7 from the 17W TDP low-voltage Ivy Bridge collection.

That means that the clock frequencies are of 1.8 GHz to 2.8 GHz (2.6 GHz/ 2 GHz Turbo Boost on the Core i5 and Core i7 models).

As for everything else, ASUS tossed in 2 GB or 4 B DDR3L RAM (1,600 MHz, 1.35V), a SATA III solid state drive (up to 256 GB, or maybe even 512 GB), Bluetooth 3.0, Intel's Wireless Display (WiDi) media streaming technology, an SDXC card reader, USB 3.0 (two ports), Micro HDMI and a backlit keyboard.

Finally, the battery power will be of six to seven hours on the UX31A, and five on the smaller UX21A.

Script: Zocial

Zocial is a beautiful collection of CSS3-based buttons that can be used to redirect users to a specific social profile or to login with one of their social memberships. Zocial takes all the overhead and headache when needing custom styled buttons.

Sometimes the simplest page elements, like buttons or typography, make the entire difference between an artistic page and a patched up template.

Zocial can produce simple text buttons, icon buttons or a combination of both styles for a maximum visual effect (see image above).

This new release of the Zocial set does not utilize images anymore and was completely open-sourced by its author, along with the custom-built font used to recreate the various logos.

Because it uses the aforementioned font, Zocial buttons are completely vector-based and can be rendered at any resolution and size.

In the case of older browsers that don't support many of the new revolutionary CSS3 features used to render the elements, Zocial buttons gracefully degrade keeping functionality and look intact, but with lesser visual impact.

Download Zocial from here.
A port of the Zocial CSS3 social buttons to the SASS framework is also available here.

CeBIT 2012: Biostar Presents TZ77EX3 and TZ77EX4 Intel 7-Series Motherboards

Taiwanese hardware maker Biostar was also present at this year’s CeBIT fair, where the company showcased a couple of LGA 1155 motherboards based on Intel’s Z77 Express chipset, namely the Biostar TZ77EX3 and TZ77EX4.

Just as its name suggests, the TZ77EX4 is the more feature-rich model of the two since it comes with a more powerful 13-phase VRM as well as with some extra options.

12 of these phases are used by Biostar to power the CPU, while the extra phase was added to feed the four memory slots.

The board’s expansion features include three PCI Express x16 slots, one PCIe x1 and a pair of regular PCI 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 controller by a Marvell chip, according to TweakPC.de.

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 these are compatible with both Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFireX setups.

Moving to the back, the connectivity options available include everything that we expect to see from a high-end Z77 board, such as Quad video out (DVI, VGA, HDMI, and Displayport) and an eSATA port.

Biostar 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.

The more budget friendly TZ77EX3 includes pretty much the same features as its older brother, but in order to lower its price, Biostar decide to drop the two extra SATA 6Gbps ports, the DisplayPort video output and the high-end Pro Tone HD audio technology.

However, both motherboards come with on-board Power and Reset buttons as well as with a BIOS debug LED.

No details regarding the pricing or the availability of the TZ77EX3 and TZ77EX4 boards were provided by Biostar.

Alienware M17X R4 to Feature Nvidia GTX 675M or Radeon HD 7970M Graphics

Dell is preparing a major graphics hardware update for the fourth generation of the popular Alienware M17x gaming notebook which will reportedly be available with next-gen 28nm AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.

Users who will want to go for Alienware’s 17.3-inch notebook will have the option of choosing between the AMD Radeon HD 7970M and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 660M or GTX 675M graphics cards.

According to the Dell Labs website, this GPU upgrade will also be accompanied by a series of new display options.

The list includes the usual 1920x1080 Full HD and 1600x900 HD+ panels, but also a new 3D-enabled 1920x1080 Full HD screen with WLED backlighting.

No matter which one of the three LCD panels one choses, these will be connected to the GPU via the new eDP (embedded DisplayPort) interface which reduces the wiring footprint and also decreases power consumption when compared to the older LVDS standard used in most laptops out there.

The Alienware M17x R4 comes with a 240W AC adapter and will be available in black or red.

Although the source doesn’t say anything about the CPUs used by the fourth generation M17x, it is highly probable that this will be powered by 22nm quad-core Intel Ivy Bridge processors.

No details regarding the pricing or the release date of Alienware’s gaming notebook have been provided.

Besides the 17.3-inch M17X, Dell’s 2012 Alienware range will also include a second generation M18X 18-inch laptop, as well as the 14-inch M14X R2.

According to some previous reports, the M18X will sport a similar configuration as its 17.3-inch counterpart, but will also support Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFireX configurations for improved graphics performance.

Gigabyte GB-AEGT All-in-One PC Supports 400W Desktop PCIe x16 Graphics Cards

Gigabyte has recently announced a new all-in-one barebone desktop system, dubbed the GB-AEGT, which was specially designed to support high-performance CPUs and desktop PCI Express x16 graphics cards with a maximum TDP of 400 Watts.

The system is actually based on a thin Intel H61 mini-ITX motherboard that is installed right under the AIO’s 24-inch 1920x1080 resolution Full HD display.

According to Gigabyte, users can populate the board with Intel Sandy Bridge processors sporting a TDP as high as 95W, but also with a regular desktop graphics card.

The GB-AEGT has enough room to support dual-slot GPUs with a maximum TDP of 400W thanks to the inclusion of a full size PCI Express x16 slot and a clever thermal design.

Up to 8GB of system memory can also be fitted inside the Gigabyte AIO thanks to a pair of SO-DIMM DDR3 RAM slots, while for storage purposes, the GB- AEGT barebone is equipped with a single SATA 3Gbps 3.5-inch hard drive bay. 

On the side of the unit there’s also some room for an optical disk drive, but users have the option of configuring the AIO to feature an optional 2.5-inch top-mounted docking slot as well.

The rest of the expansion options include two mini PCI Express slots that can be populated with a Bluetooth/WiFi card and/or TV tuner.

As far as connectivity goes, the GB-AEGT barebone packs a wide series of ports including a pair of USB 3.0 ports, USB 2.0, HDMI and SPDIF out, a Gigabit Ethernet jack, as well as a multi-format card reader.

HDMI and D-Sub inputs round up the connectivity options list, enabling the AIO to be used as an external display for a notebook, tablet or gaming console.

No information regarding pricing or availability of this AIO has been made public yet by Gigabyte.

iOS 5.1 Battery Life - Better or Worse

iPhone customers plagued by battery life woes have been expecting iOS 5.1 like the second coming, but has it fixed the problem?

According to some of the people writing on the Apple Support Communities forums, not really.

Although there are arguably fewer complaints now than there were when iOS 5 was released, it appears that iOS 5.1 still hasn’t resolved the problem for some users.

Here’s one concerned customer asking fellow Apple fans if they are having a similar experience:

“Hello, after having the feeling the Battery is sucked out by the new iOS, the problem is still there in 5.0.1. And now in 5.1 its getting more worse. Even my girlfriend mentiond it. So i am carefully asking the community: Are you experiencing the same batterydrain that was mentioned before, but now even worse than before?”

The release notes for iOS 5.1 specifically stated that the new software update “addresses bugs affecting battery life.”

This doesn’t mean it can fix the issue for every device configuration out there. And it appears it didn’t.

“I'm glad to see someone else posting this,” wrote another disappointed customer on the same thread as the person quoted above. “I've had no problems with my 4s until this morning when I did the new upgrade.”

This person explains that, “In less than 5 hours at work, I went from 80% to 15% and that was just a little web use on Wi-Fi.  I always keep bluetooth off and most location services turned off as well.”

The customer asserts that, “If this was considered a ‘fix’ someone needs their head examined.” He adds: “I also saw something weird as heck too - a 4g sign up where the wireless indicator is at.”

The 4G thing is a known feature with iOS 5.1 - not an issue. It suggests that the iPhone 4S is 4G-compatible when, in reality, this has to do with a controversial marketing approach by wireless operator AT&T in the United States.

Nvidia Kepler GK104 GPU Die Size Exposed – Report

The die size on Nvidia’s highly anticipated GK104 “Kepler” GPU was exposed recently by a Chinese website that apparently entered into the possession of an image depicting the company’s next-gen 28nm graphics core.

The picture, published just earlier today by Expreview, has the GK104 GPU standing next to a G92b graphics processor, which we already know it has a die size of 231 square millimeters.

Since the Kepler GPU pictured looks to be only slightly larger than the G92b, it seems that Nvidia’s new chip will be a great deal smaller than the company’s current Fermi GF110 and GF114 cores.

This also seems to be confirmed by some measurements revealed by Expreview, which state that the Kepler GPU packaging measures 40mm x 40mm, while its die is 17.2mm x 17.2mm, which makes it just 296 square millimeters big.

In comparison, the AMD Tahiti GPU, utilized by the Sunnyvale-based company for the Radeon HD 7970 and HD 7950 graphics cards, measures 365 square millimeters and includes no less than 4.5 billion transistors.

Little is known about the GK104 at this time, but apparently this Kepler GPU will feature a Dynamic Clock Adjustment technology.

According to a previous report, this works similarly to Intel’s Turbo Boost technology to automatically increase the graphics core frequency with 5 to 7 percent when the card works bellow its rated TDP.

The GK104 Kepler core is also expected to feature 256-bit memory bus connected to 2GB of GDDR5 video buffer memory, but later versions will also be available with 4GB of VRAM.

Nvidia’s first GK104-based graphics cards are expected to arrive in late March. Initially, graphics card makers expect Nvidia to ship only limited quantities of GK104 chips, which means that widespread availability isn’t expected before Q2 2012.

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