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Mar 18, 2012

Script: Sharrre

Sharrre is a jQuery plugin for creating social sharing and bookmarking widgets with custom graphics to fit any page design.

The plugin works out of the box with social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Delicious, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Digg, and much more can be added as well.

For quickly creating buttons with the same style across the board, Sharrre comes with an uniform Buttons API. The API can be called on demand (and only once), reducing network lag and improving page speed.

Of course, Sharrre works perfectly across all modern browsers, rendering just like you wanted to.

Various examples are available on Sharrre's official website. Issues and feature requests are handled via Sharrre's GitHub page.

Download Sharrre here.

Apple Using "Recycled" Parts in the New iPad

Silicon expert Chipworks has released a teardown analysts of the new Apple iPad concluding (among other things) that the Cupertino giant is “recycling” parts to keep the tablet’s bill of materials at a minimum.

Chipworks and iFixit worked in tandem to determine the source and complete functionality of each individual part in the new Apple iPad - particularly the chips.

They found, for instance, that the A5X SoC (system on a chip) is dual core, just like its predecessor, and that it boasts 1 GB of random access memory (RAM), which is double the amount of the previous A5 chip. They also confirmed it has four GPU cores, just like Apple said.

Others conducted benchmarks and found that Apple’s performance claims also held water. Several tests have revealed that the A5X trounces Nvidia’s Tegra 3 processor, which boasts four processing cores and a whopping 12-graphic cores.

But ChipWorks was also interested in the 5 megapixel CMOS image sensor Apple used in the 3rd gen iPad. Everybody knows this piece of hardware is new to the iPad, but is it new to the Apple product line as a whole? Chipworks isn’t convinced.

In fact, they say “It is very likely that Apple has recycled the 5 Mp back illuminated CMOS image sensor from the iPhone 4,” adding that  the unit “was the Omnivision OV5650.”

Chipworks continued their analysis, saying: “The OV5650 is the second generation back illumination (BSI) technology from OmniVision. This 5 Mp camera features 1.75 ┬Ám pixels, and is designed to deliver DSC quality in a mobile phone application. The sensor supports HD (1080p) video at 60 fps. Apple specifications for the new iPad also tout the same specification.”

“So the analysis we have just completed . . . drum roll please . . . says that the 5 Mp back illuminated CMOS image sensor in the new iPad is the same, it is the Omnivision OV5650 (die markings OV290BF),” says Chipworks.

“Yet again, Apple is recycling as many devices as they can to produce this new iPad,” the hardware experts emphasize.

Editor's note
To be noted that the parts themselves are not reused from another device. Chipworks is simply using the term "recycled" to emphasize that Apple hasn't sourced any new-generation hardware for the camera sensor. The parts themselves should be brand new, albeit their design may be old.

The chip-tearing company admits that Apple is smart in doing this as it “keeps their costs and technological risks low.”

They theorize that “Apple would have placed large orders for this camera to build the iPhone 4 and now again for the new iPad, so hopefully they are leveraging these volumes to get a low unit price per camera.”

AMD Says Trinity APUs Are 29% Faster Than Their Llano Counterparts

AMD has yet again changed its performance estimates for its next-gen Trinity APUs, the company now expecting these chips to be 29 percent faster in productivity apps than their current counterparts based on the Llano architecture.

This new performance forecast showed up on a company slide recently published online by Tom’s Hardware.

AMD doesn’t say what sort of applications or which APUs were used to test the performance of the two architectures, but the footnotes do mention that the data presented in the slides is based on internal company projections.

A part of the speed increase mentioned by AMD in its document is expected to be made possible by the introduction of a faster graphics core.

According to the same AMD slide, Trinity accelerated processing units can deliver up to 56 percent better visual performance than Llano.

At the same time, the chips will be optimized for Windows 8 and include the 3.0 version of the company’s Turbo Core technology.

AMD's next-generation APUs combine processing cores based on the Bulldozer architecture with a VLIW4 GPU derived from the Cayman graphics used inside the Radeon HD 6900 series.

These cores will go by the name of Piledriver and will support a series of new instruction sets introduced with the Bulldozer architecture, such as AVX and AES-NI, as well as DDR3-2133 memory. 

On the graphics side, AMD has added a series of new HD media accelerator technologies to its chips, such as a Video Compression Engine, and support for its multi-monitor EyeFinity configurations.

Notebooks configured with the mobile version of the Trinity APUs should be capable of reaching “more than 12 hours of resting battery life,” according to AMD.

AMD’s first APUs, based on the Trinity architecture, are rumored to be launched in June or July this year.

NVIDIA Kepler Supports More than Two Monitors

Looks like NVIDIA's upcoming Kepler GPU will finally do away with that annoying limitation that made it impossible for single cards to accomplish anything similar to AMD's Eyefinity technology. 

So far, NVIDIA video controllers haven't been able to support more than two monitors. 

Kepler will change this, according to the HKEPC report that also revealed the TXAA and the independent benchmark results

It is now possible to connect up to four displays to a single board. This works in conjunction with Adaptive V-Sync, which we spoke about here

One consequence of this is that 3-monitor HD 3D Vision Surround setups are possible without SLI, leading to more affordable triple-monitor 3D gaming. 

Fortunately, people won't have to wait much longer before they can enjoy all this. NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 680 should launch on March 23 and pre-orders can already be placed, for Zotac's model at least.

Script: ClanSphere

If you're a hardcore gamer and have some basic PHP knowledge, ClanSphere is a great tool to install on your server and help your clan out with a guild-specific website.

Comes packed with lots of features targeted at gaming clans, guilds or online competition organizers. And if the desired feature is not found in the basic package, there are high chances it's somewhere as a module uploaded on ClanSphere's official forum.

Some of ClanSphere's most notable features include a graphic installer, administration backend, site template manager, clan/guild management, server manager, embedded forum system, image galleries, guestbook, war/scrim results, awards system, news administration, FAQ section, clan sponsors lister, downloads center, automatic clan application form and much much more.

Check out this ClanSphere demo on their website, and if interested, you can contribute code or feature requests via their GitHub and SourceForge pages.

Download ClanSphere here.

CyanogenMod 9 Enhances Security Through Disabling Root

CyanogenMod ROMs are some of the most popular custom OS flavors available for various Android-powered handsets out there. 

They bring along new functionality of phones, along with access to more capabilities and new applications. Now, they also deliver more security enhancements. 

In the latest CyanogenMod release, namely CM9, the security of devices will be enhanced through the merging of three patches into one, and through the disabling of root access on CM-running phones and tablets. 

“Many of you may not give it a second glance, but among all the furor and concern about permissions requested by market apps and privacy, all Custom ROMs (CyanogenMod included) ship with one major security risk — root,” CyanogenMod notes in a blog post.

“We have been struggling with how to handle this for quite a bit, and took a first step with the first public CyanogenMod 9 alpha builds, by disabling the previously-default root access over USB. You can still get adb root access by running “adb root” in terminal, should you ever need it.”

CyanogenMod users will be able to enable root on their devices, although it will be disabled by default. People will be offered with the following options when it comes to root: Disabled, Enabled for ADB only, Enabled for Apps only, Enabled for both. 

When it comes to default CyanogenMod installations, users will have to explicitly enable root access, which implies that they will be aware of the fact that applications based on root access might compromise security, stability and data integrity.

“Once enabled, the process mirrors that of the current process, apps that request root will be flagged by the SuperUser.apk and the user will have to grant selective access,” Cyanogen Mod explains. 

CyanogenMod 9 is meant to close a massive security hole that appeared when over one million devices came to shelves with root access enabled. These changes should fill that gap, while also maintaining users’ freedom to do more with their devices.

True Multitasking on HP TouchPad with CyanogenMod Android 4.0 ICS

HP's TouchPad can run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich if owners install the CyanogenMod 9 port, but multitasking could be better. 

Android 4.0 is perfectly capable of running more than one app at the same time, but users can't interact with more than one at any given moment. 

A user from the XDA-developers forum was able to create a modification to the software. Called Cornerstone, it lets up to three apps share the screen at once. 

The main app uses the left half of the display, while the right half is divided between the other two. 

There are some bugs to work through, but the feature runs well enough for the video demo above to be possible. 

We aren't sure if Cornerstone will become a standard part of CyanogenMod builds, but since it is open-source, it all boils down to the developers.

Leaked Galaxy S III Photo Available, Could Be Real

What reportedly could prove to be the first real image of the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone has just made an appearance online. 

Leaked from a PR firm, a slide with the said device has made it online, supposedly providing us with a better look at what Samsung plans to launch as the successor of last year’s Galaxy S II.

The image reportedly comes from Weber Shandwick, which is the official PR agency for Samsung in various countries around the world. 

Available courtesy of reddit, the leaked slide also unveils the fact that Samsung is getting ready to hold a series of ‘Unpacked’ events on May 22nd to launch the device. 

If so, it means that the device won’t be here for at least two more months, although some of the previous rumors on the matter suggested that Samsung might make an official announcement on March 22nd (when Rovio’s Angry Birds Space will be launched on Galaxy Note). 

Apparently, Samsung might be set to cash in on the Olympic Torch Relay, which is set to begin around the same May 22nd date, and which could prove a great marketing win for the company. 

As the image shows, the handset might arrive on shelves with the already rumored edge-to-edge touchscreen display, as well as with a thin body. 

Previously, the smartphone was said to arrive on shelves with a quad-core application processor inside, a 4.8-inch screen capable of HD resolution, an 8MP camera, and the whole range of connectivity options usually found in high-end devices these days.

The second image attached to this article should unveil more on the phone’s outer design, including the fact that it comes with a dedicated camera button and lock key on the right side, and volume controls on the left side. 

The speaker and microphone grills are also visible on the phone’s front, as well as the secondary camera for making video calls, and one of the usual sensors (there should be more of those on the phone’s bezel). 

For the time being, the only thing that was confirmed on this mobile phone was its launch in the first half of the current year. We’ll take both the leaked specs on the phone, as well as the authenticity of the newly emerged shot with a grain of salt, but we’ll look out for more info on it.

Samsung Rumored to Make BlackBerry 10 OS Phones

There has been much talk on a possible buyout of Research In Motion by stronger players in the market. However, there are zero to none chances that this will happen anytime soon as the Canadian government is completely against any outright buyout of the company.

South-Korean giant Samsung seems to have a solid interest in RIM's business. In fact, the company is looking to make a minor investment in RIM.

According to Barrons, citing a source close to the matter, Samsung may not be able to gain anything from a minority stake, so the company is trying to license RIM's BlackBerry 10 operating system.

It appears that Samsung is still rattled by the recent acquisition of Motorola by Google, and wants to counter the search giant's move with a move of its own. 

If it cannot buyout RIM, Samsung's next move seems to be the development of phones based on the upcoming BlackBerry 10 OS.

James Chung, Samsung spokesman, said in back in January, right after RIM's CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie stepped down: “We haven’t considered acquiring the firm and are not interested in (buying RIM)”.

However, as it stands, the situation is much worse for RIM than for Samsung, so the collaboration between the two companies may help the Canadian company a lot more than the other way around.

According to the latest hearsay, Samsung plans to strike a deal with RIM to build BlackBerry 10 OS phones as soon as the new mobile platform gets launched on the market.

Still, RIM might have something to lose in this deal as Samsung is a better handset manufacturer, so its BlackBerry 10 OS device will sell better and RIM's revenue will be hurt (again).

So far, nothing is certain but more details may surface this fall, Barrons claims.

NVIDIA Kepler Anti-Aliasing Called TXAA

A couple of days ago, we spotted an image that implied Kepler having a so-called new anti-aliasing algorithm, and now we know what it is.

According to HKEPC, the GeForce GTX 680 will offer TXAA, which grants image improvements comparable to 16X MSAA but at a much lower performance impact.

In other words, it will be 16X MSAA-level video quality with 2X MSAA performance drop, or less.

There will even be TXAA2, capable making graphics even smoother than 16X MSAA while affecting performance only as much as 4X MSAA.

Oddly though, the screenshot of the NVIDIA control panel shows FXAA instead of TXAA. The source makes it sound like they are different features, but things aren't totally clear to us just yet.

In addition to the new anti-aliasing, Kepler will bring Adaptive V-Sync, a smart frame-rate limiter that adjusts frame-rate when heavy 3D scenes lead to frame-rates below or above monitor refresh-rate.

NVIDIA Kepler Is Faster than AMD Radeon HD 7970 in New Benchmarks

We were cautious about the first set of benchmarks showing NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 680 being far stronger than AMD's competing products, since it was from one of the former company's own slides. 

Now, though, a third party has conducted some tests, and the results do favor the Kepler-based adapter. 

The GTX 680 was found to be far stronger than the GTX 580 and quite a bit ahead of the AMD Radeon HD 7970 in some cases, though it did tie with it in others. 

The test bench used an Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition CPU, the ASUS rampage IV Extreme motherboard, 8 GB of DDR3 RAM and the Windows 7 x64 operating system. 

Check out the gallery below for the actual results. After that, you can compare them to the aforementioned comparison NVIDIA made.

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