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Mar 27, 2012

Memory Maker Expands Horizons, Hynix Becomes SK Group Member

We've learned that the SK Group, an industrial conglomerate from South Korea, has invested an undisclosed sum of money into Hynix Semiconductor. 

What this means is that Hynix will henceforth be called SK Hynix and will start making other sorts of semiconductors besides memory chips. 

The company is already a major supplier of such units, which include NAND and DRAM as the most important types. 

Unfortunately, even though NAND has been doing more or less well, the DRAM market continues to disappoint. 

Granted, Hynix is not nearly close to landing in Elpida's position (bankruptcy). 

Still, it could use some other business outlets, and the new investment will enable precisely that. 

“This is a historic moment. SK had to forgo earlier plans to enter the memory chip business due to the oil crisis decades ago, but is now more than happy to embrace Hynix as a new family member,’’ said SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won. 

For its part, SK Group will be involved in more than energy and telecommunications, so it can start thinking up ways of combining the technologies of those fields with semiconductors. 

“After the briefing, I discussed various pending issues such as the way to provide SK’s car batteries to electric vehicle manufacturers in Thailand. That’s synergy,’’ said Chey, who is also the Co-CEO of SK Hynix.” 

All in all, as part of the agreement, soon enough SK Hynix will begin making custom chips while better managing its DRAM, NAND and CMOS image sensor businesses. 

“SK Group’s previous attempts to advance into international markets have failed due to the lack of corporate image. But SK has secured more room to effectively handle overseas businesses because SK bought Hynix’s good brand image. The SK Chairman will use SK Hynix as a tool to tap more chances for global businesses,’’ said an unnamed SK Hynix executive.

HTC One X and One V to Hit Shelves in China on April 2

It looks like HTC has decided to debut its One series of smartphones in China and Taiwan. The first to hit shelves will be HTC One X and One V, along with the One X Deluxe Limited Edition.

According to China Times, the smartphones will start shipping on April 2 in Taiwan and China, followed soon by the UK and other European countries.

To recap, HTC One X, One S and One V are expected to arrive in the UK around April 5 via multiple carriers and leading retailers. All free smartphones will be available for free on select plans.

Taiwanese Android fans will be able to purchase the HTC One X starting next week for around 2900 yuan (460 USD or 345 EUR), or the more affordable HTC One V for 1900 yuan (300 USD or 225 EUR) off-contract.

While the One X is HTC’s new Android flagship smartphone, the One V is the less-featured smartphone in the HTC One series.

The latter is the successor of the HTC Legend and comes equipped with a 1 GHz single-core processor, 512 MB of RAM, 4GB of internal memory and microSD card slot for memory expansion (up to 32GB).

In comparison, the One X features a powerful 1.5 GHz quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory. However, this one doesn’t come with microSD card slot.

Both devices run Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich platform with HTC Sense UI on top. In addition, the One X boasts an 8-megapixel rear camera with full HD (1080p) video recording, while the One V only packs a 5-megapixel main camera 720p video recording.

The price of the smartphones may vary depending on the location and carrier as the Taiwanese versions might be the cheapest on the market.

The New iPad Is a 25-Hour LTE Hotspot

If you’re one of the lucky owners of a third-generation iPad on Verizon’s LTE network, you can use it as a personal hotspot for about 25 hours on a single charge.

This, according to the people at AnandTech. Unlike DisplayMate Technologies, they were less interested in the new iPad’s battery and more intrigued by its 4G wireless capabilities.

With the display turned off and a 42.5Wh battery driving Qualcomm’s MDM9600 LTE chip, “you get tons of life out of the new iPad as a personal hotspot,” reads the review. Theoretically, you could download almost 200 gigs of data in a single day (should wireless Internet be cheaper).

The normal battery life of the new iPad on a single charge is 10 hours. Apple says that if you use LTE to browse the web, the battery will only last 9 hours.

Videotron Offers a Free GALAXY Nexus upon Each GALAXY Tab 10.1 Purchase

Regional operator Videotron has just kicked off an interesting deal for Android fans. The Canadian carrier has recently launched the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G, and is now trying to raise the hype around these devices.

Starting today, customers who are into these Android devices can purchase the Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G and receive the Galaxy Nexus for free through Videotron

Although this is a limited-time offer, Videotron does not offer an end date for this promo, though it mentions it’s available while supplies last.

According to the carrier, this offer “is for residential customers subscribing simultaneously to Videotron's mobile service and "Internet on your tablet" service data add-on with a Samsung Galaxy Nexus and a Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G or adding a mobile line to their account.”

In addition customers are required to be continuously subscribed to the mobile and “Internet on your tablet” service for a minimum of 30 days, in order to get advantage of a credit equivalent to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus reduced price of 149.95$.

This would be a nice combo for someone who needs a tablet and a smartphone powered by Google’s mobile platform. 

Keep in mind that while the Galaxy Nexus runs the latest Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G is still stuck on Android 3.2 Honeycomb.

However, Samsung already confirmed the Galaxy Tab 10.1 would get an Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade sometime in Q2 2012, though a release date has yet to be unveiled.

Last but not least, customers who purchase the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G and get the free Galaxy Nexus will also get 1-year of free subscription to the digital editions of Le Journal de Montreal and Le Journal de Quebec, as well as a $35 gift card, which is redeemable on Archambault.ca.

LG Lucid 4G Goes Official at Verizon with Gingerbread and 1.2 GHz Dual-Core CPU

We reported on LG Lucid’s upcoming release at Verizon Wireless about a week ago. Today, the carrier made it official and added the 4G-enabled smartphone to its portfolio.

LG Lucid will be available for purchase exclusively from Verizon Wireless starting March 29, both online and at the carrier’s store locations.

Customers who wish to acquire this affordable 4G smartphone must pay as low as $79.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and with a new two-year agreement. No word on the no-term price yet.

Obviously, the main selling point of the LG Lucid is the 4G support. Other than that the smartphone has pretty neat features, which puts it in the mid-range category.

Slim and compact, the LG Lucid measures 119.1 x 62.2 x 11.4 mm and weighs around 140g (battery included). It comes with a large 4-inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen display that supports 480 x 800 pixels resolution, and features Corning Gorilla Glass coating.

Verizon mentions that while the LG Lucid 4G will be delivered with Android 2.3 Gingerbread out of the box, an Ice Cream Sandwich update will be rolled out later this year.

Software-wise, the smartphone is packed with a slew of productivity tools, including Polaris Office app, which allows customers to open, create and edit Microsoft Office documents. 

Aside from LTE support, LG Lucid features Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi mobile hotspot features. The latter allows users to connect up to 10 Wi-Fi-enabled devices to the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network.

The phone is equipped with a dual-core processor clocked at 1.2 GHz and packs 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal memory and microSD card slot for memory expansion (up to 32GB).

There’s also a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus, LED flash and full HD (1080p) video capture, as well as a secondary front-facing camera for video chatting with friends and family.

Script: Nibbleblog

Nibbleblog is an open-source blogging platform for all the passionate bloggers out there.

Unlike WordPress, Habari or Movable Type, Nibbleblog uses a complicated XML system to store data without the need of a database.

This allows Nibbleblog to be installed in places where the aforementioned systems will never run.

All while providing the same features those systems provide, allowing bloggers to publish news and articles without any restriction or compromising their posts' quality.

Some of its features include WYSIWYG editing, themes, i18n support, SEO-ready, file browsers, plugins, graphic installer and many more.

Check out the Nibbleblog demo on their website. Default admin credentials are username: admin and password: demo.

If interested, you can contribute to the project via their GitHub, Google Code and SourceForge pages.

Download Nibbleblog here.

Your New iPad’s Battery Is Fine, Tests Reveal

While some are convinced that the new iPad’s battery is flawed, actual tests conducted by Lex Friedman writing for Macworld indicate otherwise.

In fact, as Apple pundit John Gruber himself asserts, it’s pure nonsense to think that “Apple, of all companies, would design a product that gets damaged if you do the obvious thing and simply leave it plugged in overnight.”

Gruber points out to a piece by Lex Friedman, technology editor for Macworld.com, whose own tests have cropped up positive results regarding the 42.5-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery.

“Your new iPad’s battery is fine,” writes Friedman. “Despite some media reports suggesting that Apple’s newest tablet suffers from a pair of battery-related issues, Macworld’s own research concludes that the third-generation iPad’s battery works as designed, and that customers needn’t fear harming the battery by over-charging it.”

Giada Presents the Smallest Sandy Bridge Mainboard in the World

The small piece of hardware supports Intel’s Core i5 and i3 series CPUs along with the new Celeron 867.

It is based on the Intel HM65 Express chipset and has only one SO-DIMM DDR3 memory slot that supports up to 4 GB or RAM.

For expansion we have two Mini-PCIe connectors; one being Mini-PCIe and one is mSATA. The board also has one SATA III 6 Gb/s port and one RTL8111E Gigabit controller made by Realtek.

Audio is supported by the ALC662 High Definition Audio Codec  also made by Realtek and has S/PDIF Optical ports next to the two USB 2.0 ports on the rear side.

The small Nano-ITX mainboard also comes with an HDMI port and a DC-in power jack for a 12V/19V power adapter and has one COM connector and one Fan header.

All this comes in a 12 cm by 12.8 cm package. That is 4.7 inch by 5 inch in imperial.

Mysterious Nokia Fluid Emerges, Possibly Powered by Windows Phone Platform

It looks like Nokia plans to further expand its Windows Phone lineup with new devices. A certain Nokia Fluid has just emerged, though no details on the device’s specs sheet are available for the moment.

The folks at MyNokiaBlog were tipped on the mysterious Nokia Fluid’s appearance at Occasional Gamer site, a place where various handsets are spotted before their official announcement.

Nokia Fluid is listed among other phones that are powered by Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, which might suggest that this is some sort of Lumia device that has yet to be announced.

A little bit above the Nokia Fluid’s name, one can also notice the “Qualcomm Fluid” name, which probably means the handset is equipped with a Qualcomm chipset inside. Stay tuned for more updates on the subject.

7 GHz Ivy Bridge Intel Chip Tears Through Super Pi

Intel's Ivy Bridge CPUs are really painting themselves as hardcore chips, even now. 

Of course, it might be more accurate to say that the people who got their hands on them early on are to blame for the hype. 

Then again, when a chip turns out to be an overclocking beast like Core i7-3770K, you really don't need to put too much effort into marketing anymore. 

Sure, only a handful of enthusiasts will buy the thing, but everyone else also has a cause to gawk. 

After all, it isn't every day that a CPU reaches 7 GHz and smashes through one of the most challenging benchmarks ever. 

Long story short, the Core i7-3770K was pushed to 6961.6 MHz and finished the Super Pi 1M test in 5.187 seconds. 

Likewise, the same chip, working at 6650.1 MHz, did the Super Pi 1 32M in 5 minutes, 2.843 seconds.

Tyan Announces the Newest Generation of Platforms Supporting the E5-2600 Intel Processor

Tyan unveiled eight new platforms supporting the new Intel E5-2600 processor on their official website. This new line of products comprises five models of motherboards with different options each and four barebones.

The dual socket Intel Xeon E5-2600 mainboards are designed for various applications including HPC, GPU computing, virtualization and high-density servers. They are all based on Intel’s C600 chipset and feature two high-speed QPI links and Quad Chanel DDR3 support.

The smallest mainboard family member is the TYAN S7050 (S7050A2NRF) and has 16 DIMM slots in dual 4 + 4 configuration for each CPU socket, the aforementioned Intel C602 PCH, the Nuvoton 5577D Super I/O chip and a Pericom PI3PCIE3412 PCI-E Switch.

It supports up to 128GB UDIMM and 512 LRDIMM and has two Gigabit LAN ports controlled by Intel ‘s 82574L chip and it still has a 32-bit PCI slot on the bottom.

The biggest brother is TYAN S7056 (S7056WGM3NR5 [BTO]) that comes with SAS capabilities, made possible by Intel’s C602 chip, complete with an upgrade ROM module and three Gigabit LAN ports controlled by Intel’s 82574L and i350-BT2 chips.

The SAS chip has support for RAID modes 0, 1, 10 and 5. There is also a TYAN S7056 version that comes with one Gigabit port and two 10G ports called S7056WGM3NR-2T.

As for the barebones, they all come in 2U form factor and have eight hard drive bays complete with hot-swap HDD trays. They weigh in at around 25 Kg (around 55 pounds) when empty and have four 6 cm fans.

Moreover, the new barebones have two redundant 770 watts PSUs and can support a maximum of 512 GB of LRDIMM DDR3 1333 MHz memory. If you only need 256 GB or RAM, you can clock it at a maximum of 1600MHz, but you have to use RDIMM modules.

Here too, the differentiating characteristics are directly related to the barebone’s networking capabilities as the smallest one comes with three Gigabit LAN ports and the most powerful solution had one Gigabit port and two 10G ones.

Samsung Releases HMX-QF20 Wireless Camcorder

Samsung made second spot on the list of greatest semiconductor providers (which Intel leads), but it deals in many other sorts of products as well, like cameras.

As it happens, a camera is precisely what the company has recently revealed for the South Korean market.

True, the item isn't selling just yet, but it won't be long before that either.

The name of the camera is HMX-Q10, although it's more of a camcorder really.

It has a 5MB BSI CMOS sensor, optical image stabilization and Schneider-KREUZNACH lens with 20x optical zoom and 40x digital zoom.

Also, Wi-Fi is present, for easy streaming and access to social networking sites.

Furthermore, Samsung tossed in an enhanced Switch grip function, an accelerometer and a 2.17-inch touchscreen.

Prospective buyers should have 449,000 won ready ($396.01 / 297 Euro).

Synology Intros the RackStation RS812+ and RS812RP Server NAS Solutions

The new Synology RackStation RS812/RS812RP+ rackable solution offers a very scalable and high-performance alternative for your network attached storage needs.

This is a very fast unit that can deliver an average writing speed of around 175 MB/s and an average read speed of approximately 202 MB/s, as claimed by Synology on their own official website.  The tests were performed in RAID 5 mode with Link Aggregation enabled.

The unit offers two LAN connectors with fail over support and hot swap capabilities for fast changing of the hard disk drives.

The CPU driving the whole device is working at a frequency of 2133 MHz and it is fed by 1 GB of DDR3 RAM that can be further expanded to 3 GB.

The maximum internal capacity is 16 TB, being made of four 4 TB hard disk drives, but that can be expanded by the means of a Synology RX410 expansion enclosure, thus being able to host up to 32 TB of data.

The RX410 expansion unit is, of course, optional and it communicates with the RS812+ via an eSATA cable with specially designed locking connectors.

The CPU is passively cooled and the whole system is iSCSI and virtualization ready while being very energy efficient, thus consuming only 46.2 watts in operation mode and only 25.5 watts when all the HDDs are in hibernation.

The device offers printing server support for up to two printers and has two USB 2.0 ports along with the eSATA port.

Official MIUI ROM for Samsung GALAXY Nexus Now Available for Download

The first MIUI ROM for Samsung Galaxy Nexus has just been released online and is now available for download. 

Although it’s still in beta, this ROM is less laggy than last week’s version. However, don’t expect it to be as smooth as ICS builds officially released by Google. One of the most popular custom ROMs for Android devices, MIUI is also known for its stylish look. 

The latest ROM for Galaxy Nexus, which was developed by RootzWiki forum user leech, does not feature an app drawer, but those who are not content with this fact can go ahead and install Nova launcher or anything else instead.

Another alternative would be to simply put all applications into a folder and place the folder on the dock, so that when the folder is opened, users would be able to access any apps placed there. 

Even though many Android tech-savvy consider this ROM too laggy to be used on a daily basis, in the end it’s just a matter of taste. 

The developer also notes that the new MIUI ROM for Galaxy NEXUS doesn’t have such “a horrible amount of lag were it couldn’t be used as a daily driver since I have actually used it as a daily driver for over two weeks. Well got to take the good with the bad.”

To flash this MIUI ROM for Samsung Galaxy Nexus, simply download and copy the .zip file on an SD card and boot the phone in recovery mode. 

Make sure to create a backup and then factory reset the Galaxy Nexus. Install .zip from SD card and let the phone reboot in order to be able to use the custom MIUI ROM.

For more details on the first official MIUI ROM for Samsung Galaxy Nexus, head over to the original thread.

iPhone 5, Proview, Foxconn Now on Tim Cook’s Agenda

Reports have emerged regarding Tim Cook’s mysterious visit to China, with several sources confirming that Apple’s CEO is there on business.

"Tim is in China meeting with government officials. China is very important to us and we look forward to even greater investment and growth there," said Carolyn Wu, Apple’s China spokeswoman. Wu did not offer any details.

During a quarterly earnings call, last year Cook said China had become the company's second largest market trailing only the United States. 

Research carried out by IDC says the country is expected to become the world's largest smartphone market this year.

Apple currently has deals in place with two wireless operators in China to sell the iPhone. However, the California company hasn’t yet tapped China Mobile, the country’s largest provider of wireless services. It is believed this deal is now on Cook’s agenda for the iPhone 5.

Apple is also embroiled in a trademark dispute with Proview, a Chinese company that is hemorrhaging money, but is alleging that it owns the iPad trademark in the country.

One source close to Proview said, “He should be here to also understand more of the iPad issue and handle the situation.”

Finally, Apple’s CEO is in China to get personally involved with the reviewing of labor standards at assembly firms, sources indicate. One of those is the famous Foxconn Technology Group, which assembles most of Apple’s iPhones and iPads.

In light of Cook’s visit to China, a Hong Kong-based activist group published an open letter, demanding "that Apple ensure decent working conditions at all its suppliers".

In the letter, Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior cited "poverty wages" and long work hours.

Citing some of the workers they interviewed, the group said: "They describe their daily routine as work, eat and sleep. They described themselves as machines that repeated the same monotonous motion for thousands (of) times a day. With all its success in the global marketplace, Apple undoubtedly has (the) ability to rectify these problems."

Mark Natkin, managing director for Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting, believes Cook's visit should help clear up the company's image in China.

"I think they realize on multiple fronts, it's very important for them to establish strong relationships and then project the most positive image as possible," he said. "If they are smart, they will be working very hard to strengthen their government relations."

Teso K116 Is an Ultrabook-Tablet Halfbreed

There's something to say about companies that make x86 products, namely that they are definitely tenacious when it comes to developing mobile devices that don't use an ARM chip. 

On this particular occasion, we get to look at the info available on the Teso K116 Tablet/Ultrabook, from the company by the same name (Teso). 

Measuring 11.6 inches in diagonal, it is actually a tablet, of sorts, with a keyboard dock. 

In other words, the design idea is more or less similar to the one used by the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer tablets. 

Since we're on the subject, the LCD panel offers a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels and capacitive touch support. 

The insides are what really matter though, starting with the Intel Ivy Bridge processor (the exact model is unmentioned). 

4GB of DDR3 RAM (random access memory) back the chip up, while an SSD (solid state drive) provides the necessary storage space. 

The capacity isn't much though, definitely not ultrabook-level, although the upper limit comes close (the possibilities range from 16 to 128 GB). 

Moving on, Teso tossed in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a fingerprint reader, NFC, a 1.3-megapixel webcam, a card reader and optional 3G support. 

Needless to say, a bunch of USB ports can be found as well, both of the USB 2.0 and of the USB 3.0 variety. 

Finally, the operating system is Windows 8, although running Windows 7 on it is perfectly possible as well, and more probable if the release happens prior to the arrival of Microsoft's next-generation OS. 

As for battery life, we can't know for sure how many hours this thing could last. The battery isn't mentioned after all. Still, we are quite certain it won't be on par with that of Android devices, given the difference in the CPU power needs. 

The price listed on Alibaba is $400 to $600 (299.53 – 449 Euro). Don't get too excited now. That's what distributors and resellers need to pay when getting shipments of 1,000 pieces. In other words, customers will have to fork up $800 to $1000 (599 – 749 Euro).

ECS Shows the Thinnest Sandy Bridge Socket 1155 Mainboard

What’s Thin Mini-ITX exactly? Well, it’s a standard Mini-ITX format mobo that is ensured to fit its IO panel into the height limitations of a standard motherboard RJ45 LAN connector.

The standard is quite new and it likely attempts to achieve complete clearance to half of the height of the usual IO shield.

ECS showed two new boards in its Thin Mini-ITX family: the ECS CDC-TI based on a fanless design of the Atom D2700 / D2550 / D2500 Dual Core processors and the ECS H61H2-TI Thin Mini-ITX motherboard can support socket LGA1155 Intel 2nd and 3rd Generation Core processors.

The ECS CDC-TI pictured here has Solid Capacitors to better support its CPU and memory and features two DDR3 SO-DIMM slots that offer support for up to 4GB of RAM. It can work with two SATA 2 3Gb/s devices, has two USB 2.0 ports, two Mini-PCIe slots that are Full Height and Half Height respectively.

It also offers one VGA output, one HDMI and support for LVDS.

The CPU TPD of less than 10W, the fan-less design and low overall height of the motherboard makes it a perfect fit for AIO and SFF systems.

The ECS H61H2-TI is based on the Intel H61 Express chipset and comes with two SATA2 3Gb/s connectors, two DDR3 SO-DIMM slots with support for up to 16 GB of RAM and two USB 3.0 inputs. It also gets you two Mini-PCIe slots, 1 Full and 1 Half Height along with one mSATA connector and HDMI.

That’s quite a lot of performance for a mainboard of just 17cm by 17cm with a height below 2 cm.

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