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May 13, 2012

galaxy S III (Verizon’s Samsung SCH-I535) Benchmarked with Dual-Core CPU

Galaxy S III, the latest flagship Android-based mobile phone from Samsung, is expected to make an appearance on shelves in the United States this summer, via various wireless carriers out there. 

One of these would be Verizon, and its own version of the device was just spotted on a Benchmarking website, sporting model number Samsung SCH-I535. The handset emerged on the NenaMark website with a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon application processor inside (which offers support for LTE), paired with the Adreno 225 GPU. 

The handset will arrive at Verizon with a screen resolution of 1280 x 720 and will run under Android 4.0.4.  All details suggest that this would indeed be Verizon’s Galaxy S III model, especially since the model number was said before to be attached to the smartphone. What remains to be seen is when the handset will arrive on shelves, but we’re expecting it in June at the earliest.

Intel Working on 7nm and 5nm Manufacturing Technologies

It seems strange how every time a scientist, physicist or otherwise, says shrinking silicon semiconductors is will “soon” not be possible anymore, he is proven wrong by the determination of the tech companies to achieve or maintain high profits.

Intel is reportedly already working and planning the retrofitting and developing of the 14 nm manufacturing process at the company’s FABs in Oregon, Arizona and Ireland. The company is currently still working on getting more of its FABs up to the 22 nm standard and, in the next years, the presentation shows that Intel’s Israel FAB28, Oregon FAB D1D/C and Arizona FAB 32/12 are the next sites to be retrofitted for 22 nm production. Later in 2013,  D1X Oregon FAB, Arizona FAB 42 and Ireland’s FAB 24 will enjoy the new equipment for 14 nm production that will likely start only in 2014.

When it comes to the 10 nm, 7nm and 5nm manufacturing technologies, Intel lists those as being “in research” for 2015 and beyond. Most likely is that the first new node beyond 14 nm, will be the 10 nm node and that will only be mass produced beginning with 2016.

One thing is made clear by Intel’s presentation material, 22 nm manufacturing technology will be the company’s most advanced process for this year and the next. The company obviously needs more 22 nm manufacturing capacity as it’s currently suffering in the mobile area with a 32 nm Medfield chip that is unable to successfully enter the market this year. The main reason for Medfield’s lack of success is the rather high battery consumption when compared with ARM’s Cortex A9 and A15 designs.

If Medfield would have been a 22 nm chip, even if the performance would have been mid-to-high range, the battery consumption would have probably been the best of the pack and Intel’s would have had a chance.

Intel Really Wants to Get Inside Tablets

Chip giant Intel is reportedly posed to get Apple’s attention with its future chips.

TSMC’s recent demonstration of a 3.1 GHz ARM Cortex A9 dual core chip is certainly more impressive than the empty statements of Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini : “Our job is to ensure our silicon is so compelling, in terms off running the Mac better or being a better iPad device, that as they make those decisions they can’t ignore us.”

We believe that for the next year, Apple will indeed not ignore Intel’s chips, but on the contrary, it will pay attention and steer away from the power hog that Intel’s Clover Field will be. Sure Apple has a certain preference for big and powerful GPUs in low power chips and Clover Field will certainly come with such a powerful GPU as it is not Intel made, but an Imagination design. The thing is that Clover Field will most certainly consume more power than Medfield while not being too impressive on the performance side.

Moving Clover Field on 22 nm manufacturing will most certainly help, but by that time, ARM’s A15 cores on 22 nm tech or 20 nm tech will most likely repeat the pounding with Intel’s future design. When compared with dual core ARM Cortex A9 chips, Medfield is able to hang out with the old players. Once quad core ARM Cortex A9 designs like Samsung’s Exynos 4412 and dual core Cortex A15 processors like Qualcomm’s SnapDragon S4 step into the ring, Medfield can only run for the hills.

As Intel’s Clover Field doesn’t seem like it will improve Intel’s standing in the low power field, Mr. Otellini’s statements seem closer to the company’s delirium from last week where they were publicly talking about brain chips and a future world resembling Star Trek’s Borg and The Matrix. Sure you need such a speech to set investors and stock owners in the right mood, but we believe that these, coming so soon after the Medfield fiasco, are not able to hold the line.

There is a chance for Intel and that will be getting to the 14 nm process before everybody else in 2014 and hoping that ARM won’t shell out a new design in the meantime that will again mop the floor with Intel’s Atom.

Panasonic Announces One of the Most Expensive Ivy Bridge Laptops

Japanese giant Matsushita Corporation, owner of the well-known Panasonic brand, has just announced the new Let’s note B11 notebook, on its official website.

The Let’s note B11 is made only for sale in the Land of the Rising Sun and comes with Intel’s Core i7-3615QM CPU that benefits from a 6 MB Level 3 cache and runs at a moderate 2.3 GHz frequency. The Turbo Boost option will raise the frequency up to 3.3 GHz when only one thread in demanding attention and all the effort will dissipate a maximum of 45 watts of heat.

The HM76 chipset will manage the data exchange between the 4 GB of DDR3L memory working at a modest 1333 MHz and the 640 GB hard disk drive. Panasonic’s new Let’s note B11 also comes with three USB connectors out of which two are USB 3.0, one HDMI port, Gigabit LAN, a SD card reader, a VGA port and the usual two HD audio jacks. Strangely, there’s new webcam and no Bluetooth.

The whole thing weighs only 1.89 Kg and the battery life is just three hours. That’s around 4.16 pounds, but there’s also an extra battery pack that will add another three hours of battery life if you’ll do the effort to carry around another 310 grams; around 0.68 pounds. The 15.6” screen is high quality and comes with a FullHD resolution that will display Blu-ray movies played by an optional Blu-ray drive that’s also available.

A 750 GB HDD option and 8 GB of memory are also option, but the pricing, like we’ve said, is astounding: 2190 USD for the standard configuration and 3560 USD for the all the options. That’s a rather high 1694 EUR and 2750 EUR for the European buyers.

AMD the Likely Winner in Intel’s UltraBook Game

After HP’s marathon product launch of the last week we were left with some interesting data to analyze. As HP’s SleekBooks manifest mostly the same battery life and thickness, Intel’s UltraBook don’t seem so appealing anymore.

As much as we like Intel’s new development direction, it seems that most of the goals the Israeli-American company is setting are much easier to reach for AMD. There seems indeed to be a change in the way of doing business at Intel and, like we’ve said: 
“it may seem like Intel has become a forward-looking, trend driving, consumer enthusiast company like Apple is.”
They’re asking for SSDs, thinner notebooks, longer battery life, lower prices and higher resolutions. But on every such challenge, their own company seems to be on the loosing side. The best SSDs are now developed by OCZ and Marvell, an the best results are achieved by OCZ, Crucial, Plextor and Corsair using Marvell’s controllers.

Historically, Intel has ruled over 80% of the compound PC market; maybe less in the desktop side, but much more in the mobile and server segments. To ask notebook manufacturers to use SSDs in their products is like encouraging companies to buy products and give money to companies like OCZ and Marvell that are direct competitors to Intel’s own SSDs. Sure Intel will offer bundles with its own CPUs, chipsets and SSDs, but not all the notebook makers will go for those. Some might just want better performance for their products or will be able to get a better deal from OCZ or some other company.

Thinner notebooks are those notebooks that are able to provide enough performance without requiring a complex and bulky cooling system. Nvidia was the company that taught us that you get more design wins if you’re able to produce an efficient GPU that doesn’t require bulky cooling and kept the weight, thickness and cost low.

Well, AMD’s Trinity is able to offer 3D performance comparable or better than Nvidia’s GT620. An Intel UltraBook with Ivy Bridge will most certainly be heavier and thicker than an AMD powered Ultrathin as Intel needs Nvidia’s GT620 to compete with AMD in the 3D arena. When battery life is concerned, HP lists the same amount of battery life on their SleekBooks when compared with the company’s UltraBooks. 

Even if Ivy Bridge is winning on the CPU side, it is hopelessly loosing on the graphics side and this imbalance is very obvious in the eyes of the user that won’t be able to even open some games or decently play others. You’ll live if archiving your files will take 11 minutes instead of 8, but you might not be able to stand the fact your favorite game is unplayable on your new UltraBook.

AMD already proved that graphics matter a lot in the desktop market. Why would Intel believe otherwise about the mobile users? Bottom line, the combination between an Intel Ivy Bridge processor and a low GPU from Nvidia will never be able to achieve better battery life than AMD’s Trinity.

On low prices, AMD is the de facto winner and this is again proved by HP’s recent product launches and when UHD high resolution screens come into play, who do you think will be better equipped to run them? 

We dare to believe AMD’s graphics will also be superior to Intel’s Haswell. Surprisingly, Intel, although the company that’s setting the rules and the one having enough money to enforce them, is actually tailoring the rules for AMD’s strong points. When asked by Dailytech, 35% of their tech savvy users said they prefer an AMD Ultrathin over Intel’s UtraBook, but most importantly, 83% of the pool participants said they want nothing to do with Intel’s Ultrabooks.

MSI Launches Thunderbolt Motherboard Z77A-GD80

Micro-Star International has made the formal introduction of the Z77A-GD80 motherboard, which features Intel's high-bandwidth interface standard.

Thunderbolt is the fastest data connection available on a PC, running at 10 Gbps and transmitting both PCI Express and DisplayPort signals through a single cable. The former protocol performs data transfer, while the latter obviously adds to the maximum number of supported displays. Even daisy-chaining works.

The main point of TB on the new MSI motherboard is to allow extra add-on cards to be installed without straining the bandwidth. The rest of the specs are what one might expect from a high-end motherboard. This is the top-tier Z77 chipset we are talking about after all.

The LGA 1155 socket supports second and third-generation CPUs from the Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 series, as well as Pentium and Celeron. Four DIMM slots are present, which means that the top memory capacity is of 64 GB DDR3 (the frequency is 2,667 MHz). Speaking of slots, there are three PCI Express x16 Gen 3 sockets, plus a PCI Express x1 slot. 

2-way NVIDIA SLI and 3-way AMD CrossFireX multi-GPU setups should be easy to use, provided the PSU is good enough. Moving on, for storage, MSI chose to implement two SATA 6.0 Gbps ports and four SATA 3.0 Gbps ports with RAID support, plus a couple of SATA 6.0 Gbps connectors without RAID.

As for everything else that made the spec list, there is Gigabit Ethernet, THX TruStudio surround sound (7.1 channel), a mini-DisplayPort, HDMI. D-Sub, Military Class III components, Active Phase Switching (APS) and DrMOS II.

Finally, the well-known OC Genie II technology overclocks the whole system with the press of a single button. And if that's not enough, buyers can use the My OC Genie section in the MSI ClickBIOS II interface to make customizations to even that. Just don't expect all of this to come cheap whenever sales start.

Script: Piwik

Piwik is widely considered the best freely distributed alternative to Google's market-leading  web analytics service.

Developed on a PHP and MySQL frame, Piwik can practically do almost anything Google Analytics can, but allowing the user to host his stats and have total access to them on his own server. To activate tracking, Piwik needs, just like Google Analytics, for the webmaster to embed a JavaScript tracking code into the website's source.

After including that little snippet, Piwik will start tracking visitor details in real time, providing up-to-the-minute updated information.

A demo for Piwik can be accessed here. If you want and can contribute to the Piwik core, development is handled via their GitHub page. Official Piwik iOS and Android apps are available in the App Store and Google Play.

Download Piwik here.

Hyundai A7HD Tablet on Video, 160 Euro

If you were looking for a nice tablet that didn't completely butcher your savings, the Hyundai A7HD may be just the thing. 

Set to cost 160 Euro / $200, it is bound to make its debut alongside two other slates, one of the same size (7-inch) and a 9.7-inch model. The Hyundai A7HD, as reported by AndroidPit, will use a 1,024 x 600 pixel IPS display and the Allwinner A10 processor. Allwinner A10 is a single-Core ARM Cortex A8 at 1.2 GHz. A Mali 400 graphics processing unit backs it. 

Other specs include Android 4.0 OS, 8 GB of NAND Flash memory, Wi-Fi, USB ports, audio jacks, etc. Watch the video above to see the unboxing. If you want more storage or better performance and you don't mind paying extra, tablets like Acer's Iconia Tab A700 may be more your style.

Windows 8 Build 8375 Emerges, Visual Changes in Tow

Next month, Microsoft should offer us a full taste of the latest changes in its Windows 8 operating system through the release of a new milestone of the platform, namely Windows 8 Release Preview. 

This is, in fact, the Release Candidate version of the OS, but the Redmond-based company decided to rename it in line with previous flavors – Developer Preview and Consumer Preview. The Release Preview of Windows 8 is set to become available in early June, as Microsoft themselves confirmed not long ago. 

Soon after, the platform should reach another milestone, RTM, only months before the final version will become official, a move expected to October. In the meantime, however, we can have a look at some of the latest changes included Windows 8, courtesy of screenshots allegedly coming from one of the latest builds that Microsoft is working with, namely Build 8375, which was compiled on May 4th, it seems. 

Available via Win8China, these screenshots unveil various modifications when compared to the Consumer Preview flavor that became available for download back in February. For example, there are new lock screen images included in the package, along with a green tile for the Windows Store. Additionally, this Build shows a square instead of the magnifying glass usually present at the bottom right corner when scrolling. The background pattern in Windows 8’s Metro Start menu appears to have been changed a bit as well, although you still cannot use images to personalize it, and there is a new default desktop wallpaper included. 

This Windows 8 Build 8375 is said to have been sent to a group of select few as Consumer Preview Update 2. Apparently, the Release Preview of Windows 8 will sport a different build number. When making official the Windows 8 SKUs that will become generally available once the platform is ready, Microsoft also announced that there will be a specific version meant for the Chinese market alone, and we’re wondering whether these visual changes will not be included only in that SKU. 

One way or the other, we do expect Windows 8 Release Preview to sport various changes when compared to the Consumer Preview milestone, but specific info on these will arrive only closer to launch.

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