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May 17, 2012

Galaxy S III Will Land in Japan with 2GB of RAM

Yesterday, NTT DOCOMO unveiled to the world plans to bring to the market in Japan a wide range of new handsets running under Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, and the newly unveiled Galaxy S III was one of them. 

Given the hype around this smartphone’s launch, it did not come as a surprise that the wireless carrier would add it to its lineup. However, it appears that Galaxy S III will have some treats for its Japanese users, at least this is what a closer look at its specs list at the wireless carrier shows. 

For starters, we should note that the mobile phone will include 2GB of RAM when released in the country, which is double the amount announced for the international version. The high-end smartphone will become the second Android device to pack this amount of RAM, after the arrival of LG’s Optimus LTE II is Korea this week. 

This suggests that Galaxy S III will be capable of delivering increased performance capabilities to its users, though it appears that the larger amount of RAM inside the phone might be exclusive to the Japanese market. Additionally, we should note that the smartphone will hit shelves in the country with a dual-core MSM8960 application processor from Qualcomm, clocked at 1.5GHz. 

The chip will provide support for both 3G and LTE networks, something that the International version of the device will lack as well. When connected to NTT DOCOMO’s Xi (LTE) service, Samsung’s Galaxy S III smartphone will offer data transfer speeds of up to 75MBps, the wireless carrier notes. The rest of the handset’s specifications remain mostly unchanged from what Samsung announced in early May, including the large 4.8-inch touchscreen display (720 x 1280 pixels HD resolution), the 8MP camera on the back, the 32GB of internal memory, or the MicroSD memory card slot with support for up to 64GB of additional storage space.

Nokia Distributor Expects Windows Phone 8 Devices in Late 2012

Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia has been long rumored to plan the release of handsets running under Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Phone 8 operating system, but nothing has been officially confirmed on the matter for the time being. 

However, it appears that the company’s distributors have been already informed on the availability of such devices, and that one of them let that slip. A European distributor for Nokia told Israeli publication Techit.co.il that the handset vendor is indeed on its way to launch Windows Phone smartphones this year. 

The company is in charge with the distribution of Nokia smartphones in Israel, and it reportedly stated that Eurocom Nokia would launch these mobile phones in the country as soon as they become available. Spparently, Windows Phone 8 will arrive with support for Hebrew, which will make Nokia’s Lumia lineup more appealing in the country. 

Here’s a rough translation of the message coming from Eurocom Nokia: "Eurocom Nokia is expected to launch in the Lumia Nokia devices based on Windows Phone operating system, towards the end of the year, after the released version 8.0 of the operating system that includes full support for Hebrew."
This is not an official confirmation of the upcoming availability of Windows Phone 8 devices from Nokia, but it does back previous rumors on the matter. 

Last month, Nokia Saudi Arabia mentioned in a tweet that Windows Phone 8 will be loaded on Nokia Lumia 900 when the device arrives in the Middle East. Microsoft is expected to pack expanded functionality in its Windows Phone 8 operating system, along with support for better hardware than before. 

Thus, the platform should arrive on shelves on devices packing multi-core processors and higher-resolution touchscreen displays, while also packing microSD memory card slots for expanding the available internal memory. Microsoft is still mum on what the next version of its mobile OS will bring along, but details on manufacturers set to launch devices running under it have already started to emerge. Nokia and Samsung are almost sure to have such smartphones on shelves before the end of 2012.

Xiaomi Phone Youth Edition Coming Soon for 240 USD (190 EUR)

It looks like Xiaomi Phone had been pretty popular among Chinese Android fans, as the manufacturer decided to launch a limited edition variant with a slightly lower hardware configuration.

The Xiaomi Phone Youth Edition will be limited to 150,000 units. Customers who want to be sure they will get one can join the pre-registration process until May 18. Unlike the standard Xiaomi Phone that embeds a 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU, the limited edition is equipped with a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and packs a 4.0-inch capacitive touchscreen display that supports 854 x 480 pixels resolution.

In addition, the Youth Edition boasts an 8-megapixel rear camera, 4GB of ROM, 768MB of RAM and microSD card slot for memory expansion. The phone is powered by a high-capacity 1930 mAh Li-Ion battery. via EngadgedChinese

AMD Trinity Trounces Ivy Bridge in Diablo III

As most experts said before, AMD seems to be winning the Fusion bet. We were able to write about some of AMD’s achievements last year and we have another win to report today.

Llano and Brazos already conquered 43% of the desktop market, although AMD doesn’t have a superior x86 CPU in any price range. The ultrathin / ultralight / ultrabook bet seems to be also leaning towards the green side. When it comes to Diablo III and we mention that its predecessor was, and still is, one of the most popular games of the last decade, the question of what new CPU runs the game better naturally pops up.

There are many Diablo II players out there that did not really see any reason to upgrade their systems for the work they were doing, nor for browsing or music and movie playback. When given the opportunity and reason to upgrade, what would be the most advantageous solution, Trinity or Ivy Bridge? Well, if Diablo III is the tool to measure the two CPUs, Intel’s Ivy Bridge comes over 40% behind today’s winner, AMD’s Trinity. The hardware experts from legitreview.com have managed to test an Intel Ivy Bridge based laptop against AMD’s reference Trinity mobile platform.

When running the game in FullHD, Trinity achieves 48% better scores in Blizzard’s new game. Lowering the resolution to 1280 x 720, the lineup doesn’t change: AMD’s Trinity is still 40% faster than Ivy Bridge despite the much more modest x86 performance. The second most important fact of this test was that not only does AMD offer much better performance despite the “older” 32 nm technology and the x86 handicap, but the fact that the game is practically unplayable with Intel’s Ivy Bridge.

Managing only 17 FPS, Intel’s Ivy Bridge is clearly not acceptable for FullHD high-quality Diablo III gameplay. When comparing the price, we’ll only mention that the Core i7-3920XM tested against AMD’s platform is an Extreme Edition Intel CPU that works at 2900 MHz default frequency.

It can clock up to 3800 GHz when only one thread requires maximum performance, it has a huge 8 MB level 3 cache and a 55 watts TDP and yes, it is extremely expensive. At 1,096 USD, it costs more than Nvidia’s GTX 690 dual GPU card, and this is the price for the mobile CPU alone, not the whole laptop. If getting out the best CPU / APU for Diablo III was a bet, AMD has clearly won this one.

Panasonic ELUGA Series Phones and Tablets Headed to NTT Docomo

NTT Docomo unveiled earlier today its entire Spring/Summer 2012 collection of Android devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S III.

Among the new ICS-based phones expected to hit shelves within the next few months, there are three Panasonic devices as well. The Japanese carrier will launch the Panasonic ELUGA Power, which we already know from the Mobile World Congress 2012, as well as the new Panasonic ELUGA V. In addition, NTT Docomo will also release the Panasonic ELUGA Live tablet.

Apart from the fact that all three will be shipped with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system out of the box, there are little similarities between Panasonic’s devices. While the ELUGA Power boasts a huge 5.0-inch LCD capacitive touchscreen display with HD (720 x 1280 pixels) resolution, the ELUGA V comes with a slightly smaller 4.6-inch display with HD resolution.

Obviously, both smartphones are water- and dust-resistant and have been IP57 certified to withstand pressure submerged up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. In addition, ELUGA Power and ELUGA V are equipped with 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processors and pack 1GB of RAM. It is also worth mentioning that Panasonic ELUGA V comes with Ekonabi app pre-installed, which will reduce the battery consumption. Wi-Fi tethering along with mobile wallet will be included as well.

On the other hand, the ELUGA Live tablet sports a large 10.1-inch capacitive touchscreen display and comes with NOTTV YouTube and DLNA. According to Panasonic, the Live tablet will go on sale in August, though we’re not sure exactly when NTT Docomo plans to launch it. In the same piece of news, ELUGA V is expected to arrive at the Japanese carrier in early July, while the ELUGA Power is expected to hit shelves sometime next month. Stay tuned for more info on the subject.

Nvidia’s GK110 to Enable 24 GB GDDR5 Configurations

The most complex processor in the semiconductor history will reportedly have 7.1 billion transistors and will be complemented by up to an amazing 24 GB of GDDR5 video memory.

Nvidia’s Co-Founder and CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang recently confirmed that the GK110 would actually have just a “little” bit more than 7 billion transistors. That’s 100 million more, to be exact. Compared with the previous complexity record holder, a FPGA processor from Xillinix that has more than 6 billion transistors, Nvidia’s GK110 is considerably more complex.

When compared with AMD’s Tahiti GPU with its 4.31 billion transistors, the GK110 is almost double the size. It was obvious that such a complex chip must not be kept hungry for data, so the logical move was towards a wider memory BUS.

Therefore, the GK110 comes with a 384-bit memory BUS just like AMD’s Tahiti, and the possible memory configurations range from 6 GB to 24 GB or VRAM. A TESLA K20 card holding 12 GB of memory is the most likely configuration, although 24 GB are possible and are also considered. The rumored power consumption is around the 300 watts mark and that’s something Nvidia was able to deal with before, so it’s likely that they’ll do it again.

As GPU compute becomes more and more popular, the market shifts the view and the TESLA cards are regarded as professional GPU solutions versus the old professional “hero”, the Quadro. While there are many things discussed about the K20 TESLA card and there are even server contracts already planned with the K20, the GK110 Quadro is shrouded in silence.

LaCie Launches 2big NAS for Small Businesses

LaCie likes to launch network-attached storage devices from time to time, for consumers or businesses of various sizes, and this is one of those times. 

LeCie isn't really big on intricate designs and aesthetic embellishments, nor does it ever put too much effort into making its devices small and easy to hide. Instead, it makes sure that the outside of its NAS (network-attached storage) devices looks reasonably nice and invests all the rest of its attention into the hardware and software support. 

The newest NAS to come forth is called 2big and is aimed at small businesses that wish to keep their data not just centralized and network-accessible, but safe and sound as well. Having the two HDDs operate in RAID 1 mode, for instance, enables data mirroring. Secondly, the NAS OS 2 dashboard automatically backs up the data (NAS-to-NAS or to a direct-attached external HDD). You can even schedule a nightly backup. 

The drives are hot swappable too, which means that you won't lose files when a disk eventually fails.  "According to data from Research and Markets, network storage is growing in excess of 30% annually, increasing the demands placed on network storage devices," said Erwan Girard, professional business unit manager at LaCie. 

"The LaCie 2big NAS was developed to scale with the needs of SOHO users, delivering fast file sharing and data security, the two most critical factors for a small business." LaCie's 2big NAS has a 2 GHz processor and transfers data at up to 100 MB/s to and from a PC, Mac or Linux system, regardless of location. A company's employees are able to access the data from any spot with an Internet connection. Even iPhones and iPads can be used in fact, via the LaCie MyNAS app. 

Finally, for energy efficiency, a very deep sleep mode (with wake-on-LAN) can be entered and users can schedule restarts and shutdowns. Go here to place an order, for $399 /313 Euro (0 TB) or $649 / 510 Euro (6 TB).

LG Details the New Optimus UI 3.0 for Android 4.0 Phones

Today, South Korean mobile phone carrier LG Electronics officially unveiled details on its new interface for devices powered by Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich platform, namely the LG Optimus UI 3.0. 

The new user interface is meant to provide a brand new experience to all people through delivering new features and various personalization options in the palm of their hand. For example Optimus UI 3.0 brings along Quick Memo, along with a set of unique unlock functions, while also packing various other enhancements, LG announced. The new interface promises both speed and convenience, while enabling users to perform various tasks on the device faster and easier than before. 

The new powerful memo function dubbed Quick Memo will provide people with the possibility to take fast notes on the phone’s screen by using their fingers. Moreover, the feature will offer users the option to share those notes on social networking sites, as well as via text messages and e-mails.

Other features included in the new UI would be:

  • the ability to unlock the phone by dragging anywhere on the screen;
  • a new Pattern Lock that allows users to preset the most frequently used function, such as the camera, which automatically opens once the phone is unlocked;
  • a simpler version of Optimus UI 3.0 for new smartphone users which organizes the main applications so that they are the easiest to access;
  • a new Voice Shutter that allows users to capture photos using only voice commands;
  • a special camera feature that enables users to pick up the best shot among multiple images including the moment just before the shutter button is depressed;
  • an Icon Customizer that provides an additional level of personalization by allowing users to set their own photos as icons and shortcut images;
  • the addition of a Download category to the menu for easier organization.

LG’s Optimus UI 3.0 will first arrive on shelves loaded on the new LG Optimus LTE II smartphone that will go on sale in Korea this week, and it will also be present on LG Optimus 4X HD, which is slated for a market debut in June. According to Dr. Jong-seok Park, President and CEO of LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company, the new UI is LG’s attempt to differentiate itself from other handset vendors in a market where smartphones are increasingly similar in terms of hardware. 

“Both carriers and customers tell us that they want LG phones to look and feel unique and the UI plays a big part in that. LG is really going to push the boundaries of what is possible in user interfaces starting with Optimus UI 3.0,” Jong-seok Park stated.

Lenovo Refreshes the ThinkPad Line with Ivy Bridge

Chinese PC and notebook manufacturer Lenovo is now stuffing Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processors in most of its laptops.

The ThinkPad T series are now updated to T430, T430s and T530 models that come with an HD 720p webcam and Lenovo’s RapidCharge. The i7-powered systems with the T430 label come complete with ThunderBolt and a mini-Display Port together with a 1600x900 resolution screen. Pricing for the T430 and the T430S will stand at 879 USD and 1399 USD, respectively. That’s 686 EUR and 1091 EUR for the European mobile users.

The ThinkPad X series use a 12.5” screens and the updated versions are called X230 and X230T (convertible tablet). All come with Dolby Advanced Audio, face tracking, mini-DisplayPort and two USB 3.0 ports. Available from next month, the two are priced 1179 USD and 1479 USD, respectively. That’s 920 EUR and 1154 EUR for mobile enthusiasts living in Europe.

The L series include models with 14” and 15” screens featuring the ordinary 1366 x 768 resolution. The battery is rated at over 9.5 hours and all models come with USB 3.0 and a SmartCard option via the 54mm ExpressCard slot along with switchable graphics. Available beginning early next month, the two are priced around 879 USD; that’s 683 EUR for the European buyers.

The ThinkPad W530 mobile workstation comes with the same chassis as last year’s model, an optional color calibrator that’s over 40% smaller than the old one. The new model also receives a backlit keyboard and a DisplayPort 1.2. The screen is FullHD and storage options go up to 1 TB with a maximum of 32 GB or random access memory. Available beginning early next month, it is priced around 1529 USD (1193 EUR).

Point of View GTX 680 EXO Debuts

Unlike Sparkle, Point of View actually made some modifications to the GeForce GTX 680 before launching the GTX 680 EXO.

One of the changes is, predictably enough, the cooler: instead of the reference model, we have a more silent and effective Arctic Cooling contraption, a bit thicker than 2 slots. There's even an aluminum backplate, for extra heat dissipation.

That said, spec-wise, the base clock of the GK104 Kepler GPU (1,536 CUDA cores) is 1,110 MHz and the GPU Boost can go as high as 1,176 MHz. As all other GTX 680 cards, or most of them, the POV GTX 680 EXO has 2 GB of GDDR5 VRAM (6 GHz clock), a memory interface of 256 bits, two dual-link DVI pots, one HDMI output and a DisplayPort. The price shouldn't be too much higher than $499 / 499 Euro.

AMD’s Radeon HD 7970 Mobile Finally Available in AVADirect’s Gaming Notebooks

Popular custom notebook manufacturer AVADirect is now taking preorders on notebooks configured with AMD’s most powerful mobile GPU, the AMD Radeon HD 7970M.

The Radeon HD 7970M mobile chip is built with the same architecture as the desktop Radeon HD 7870. Here, “Pitcairn” has a frequency of only 850 MHz versus the 1 GHz frequency of its desktop brother.

It comes with 1,280 shaders and 80 texture units all using GDDR 5 memory running at 4800 MHZ effective speed. Compared with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 675M, the AMD Radeon 7970M is clearly superior while being a bit behind the unannounced GTX 680M.

It comes complete with AMD’s UVD3 video decoder, Eyefinity and the power-saving Enduro and ZeroCore technologies. Other unofficial data suggests that the Radeon HD 7970M is considerably more powerful than a GeForce GTX 580M SLI configuration, while being cheaper and more power-efficient.

ADATA Presents the DDR3-2133X 8 GB and 16 GB XPG Xtreme Series DC Kits

Well-known affordable memory manufacturer ADATA has just announced the availability of the refreshed XPG Xtreme Series DDR3 lineup, on its official website. Two kits are available with 8 GB and 16 GB total capacities, respectively.

The new ADATA XPG Xtreme Series DDR3-2133X has a 2133 MHz working frequency and an operating voltage of 1.65V. The latency settings are 10/11/11/30 and these are claimed by the company to achieve a total bandwidth of up to 34.1 GB per second. The memory modules use a high quality 8-layer PCB and selected memory chips that are specially designed for the XPG line.

The modules come with efficient heatspreaders that are in direct contact with the memory chips. We don’t exactly know what ADATA is trying to say with this, as the memory chips should, at least, have some thermal interface material to improve the heat transfer. It’s likely that they’ve given up the low performance heat pads and now use some sort of TIM (thermal interface material).

The new kits also fully support Intel’s XMP (extreme memory profiles) version 1.3. The operating voltage is 1.65 volts and the prices stand at 89.99 USD for the 8 GB version and 189.99 USD for the 16 GB kit. That’s around 70 EUR and 149 EUR, respectively, when it comes to the European market.

PROLiNK Also Exhibits a 4G Wireless-N Router

We've only just written about the PROLiNK PRO1301WE USB monitor and now we are bringing you the second product that the company will start selling next month (June, 2012). 

What we have in that picture above, and the gallery below, is the WNR1012 router. With 3G/4G and network-attached storage (NAS) support, it can behave as a wireless access point. 

It also incorporates a universal repeater and can be accessed remotely from secure, private networks by means of a 3G USB dongle. The maximum data transfer speed if 300 Mbps, pretty decent, even when sharing files between multiple users. Sales will begin on June 7-10 for the price of $59 / 46 Euro. Keep in mind that you should probably consider one of those nice and new 1,300 Mbps routers before taking any decisions.

USB-Powered Monitor Launched by PROLiNK

Lugging a monitor along wherever you go kind of goes against the idea of owning a laptop but hey, we've seen stranger things than people who always need a secondary display. 

PROLiNK has reportedly launched an USB-powered monitor called PRO1301WE. Weighing 645 grams (1.42 pounds), it has a diagonal of 13.3 inches, LED backlighting and a thickness of 8 mm (0.31 inches). 

For some reason, no one seems willing to say what the resolution is, even as they draw attention to the touch-based color controls and the existence of mini-DisplayPort, HDMI and VGA inputs. Oh well, onto the next matter: usability. The display can be mounted both vertically and horizontally, using a stand, may be folded against the back of a notebook when not in use. 

Most of the time though, you'll probably have it attached to the side of your default screen, using a special bracket (swivel angle of 225 degrees) and 3M tape. Set to start shipping around June 7 and 10 (PC Show), PROLiNK's PRO1301WE USB monitor has a price of $229 / 180 Euro.

Cooler Master Intros GeminiII M4 CPU Cooler

Cooler Master claims to be, well, the master of coolers, so it stands to reason that it would not allow too much time to pass before it released another one of those things.

And by “another one of those things” we mean a CPU cooling module, not a case fan or a graphics card fansink. The product we are looking at here is called GeminiII M4 and tries to be a “miniature” CPU cooler. We're not exactly sure it's entirely successful, but we've seen much larger coolers in the past so we'll let it slide.  Anyway, the GeminiII M4 has direct-touch copper heatpipes, which means that the heat from the CPU doesn't need to pass through a base plate before reaching them.

Four in number, said pipes come in an unusual layout, a “C-shape” more or less. The alleged effect is that the heat more easily reaches the aluminum fins. To help with dissipation, GeminiII M4 uses a 90 degree-rotated airflow design that avoids most of the heat radiated by the motherboard below. Add to that the 120mm fan and there aren't many CPUs that it can't handle. Speaking of which, Cooler Master's creation is compatible with Intel LGA 1366 / 1156 / 1155 / 775 CPUs, as well as FM1 / AM3+ / AM3 / AM2+ / AM2 central processing units from Advanced Micro Devices.

All in all, GeminiII M4 is 59 mm-tall (2.3 inches tall) and produces an airflow of up to 58.4 CFM when set on high speed. “This small size is accomplished by developing a new smaller 120mm fan that is only 15mm thick as opposed to ones that are traditionally 25mm,” the press release says. Next month (June, 2012) is when sales of the Cooler master GeminiII M4 will begin, for a price that we have yet to spot. Go here to read all the details.

Apacer Launches DDR3-1600 MHz SO-DIMM Modules for Fast Notebooks

Taiwan-headquartered company Apacer has reportedly just introduced the new 8 GB DDR3 SO-DIMM memory module working at 1600 MHz. 

This is a great chance to get rid of those low-speed memory modules inside your laptop. Apacer touts a 20% increase in performance when compared with a mainstream DDR3-1333MHz memory module, along with a 11% decrease in power consumption.

While we’re sure the real performance improvements are not nearly that great, we can definitely say that if you own a laptop with an iGPU using shared system memory (like most of the laptop users) the increased bandwidth will surely help a little.

If you use a notebook with discrete graphics, we don’t see a reason to upgrade based on the frequency difference alone, when going from 1333 MHz to 1600 MHz. If your memory modules are rated at 1066 MHz, Apacer’s new product will do some good, but only if your laptop supports the 1600 MHz memory frequency.

Nvidia Officially Talks GK110 GPU and Presents the TESLA K10 and K20

California-based graphics IC design company Nvidia has just unveiled details about the most anticipated GPU of this year, on its official website. We are, of course, talking about the huge GK110 graphics processing unit (GPU).

The initial presentation took place yesterday at the GPU Technology Conference (GTC). Nvidia has presented the new TESLA K10 and TESLA K20 GPUs. TESLA K10 is practically a GTX 690 dual GPU card with the usual small tweaks for professional use and the software toolset that comes with it.

The company claims a huge 4.58 teraflops of single-precision floating point performance for the K10, along with the impressive 320 GB/s bandwidth. This is only 20% faster than AMD’s Tahiti-based Radeon HD 7970 card that comes with a 260 GB/s bandwidth. It’s quite an achievement for AMD to deliver such a great compute performance well ahead Nvidia and with much less fuss.

Nvidia’s “fuss” is generally well-targeted and quite profitable, as the company is working hard to integrate its technologies in the high margins / high profits server / professional markets. Practically, Nvidia is doing a much better job than AMD at integrating its hardware with the much needed software that would reveal the computing power inside GPUs. As Intel proved for the past decade, software is a very important part of hardware development.

Nvidia’s K10 will come with a full 8 GB of GDDR5 memory complement. The other TESLA card introduced by Nvidia is the yet mysterious K20. Nvidia didn’t share too much info about it, as this is based on the unreleased GK110 GPU. The graphics card company already has contracts based on the K20 design and this is what they had to say about its new K20 cards:
Tesla K20 supports the Hyper-Q and dynamic parallelism capabilities. The GK110 GPU is expected to be incorporated into the new Titan supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and the Blue Waters system at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Nvidia says that K20 will be able to deliver three times the double-precision performance of the Fermi-based TESLA accelerators. On the first look, this makes the GK110 GPU 50% more powerful that the 1,000 USD GeForce GTX690. K20 will also come with more GP Compute technologies as listed in the table above. While we commend Nvidia for its commitment to the professional GPU Computer market, we’re starting to feel pity for the GTX 690 buyers. Luckily, there is a severe shortage of Kepler GPUs so the wallets of Nvidia enthusiasts are safe.

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