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May 25, 2012

ZTE’s Android 4.0 Smartphones Get 3D UI




Mobile phone maker ZTE Corporation has announced a partnership with Rightware Oy, a leader in embedded 3D user interface (UI) technologies, aimed at the loading of a 3D user interface on ZTE’s handsets.

As part of this agreement, ZTE’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich-powered smartphones will feature Rightware’s Kanzi UI Solution, for a better experience on the go. ZTE is one of the fast growing smartphone makers today, which became the fourth largest vendor in the world in the fourth quarter of last year, with a global market share of 4.9 percent. “ZTE is committed to providing customers around the world with innovative technologies, and our latest smartphone portfolio includes highly differentiated and engaging 3D Android 4.0 ICS smartphones targeted for consumers globally,” Mr. Jichao Li, vice president of ZTE Corporation, commented.

“With help of Rightware and Kanzi UI Solution our latest smartphones are equipped with first-class 3D homescreen, providing consumers the best user experiences delivered on mobile devices.” Rightware’s patent-pending Kanzi UI Solution includes two components, the Kanzi Studio and the Kanzi Engine. The former is standalone UI design software, aimed at delivering appealing 3D UIs, while the latter is meant to become an integral part of the device’s platform.

The Kanzi Studio was designed to offer compatibility with leading 3D content creation tools, including Autodesk 3DS Max, Maya and XSI and Blender, the company announced. Thus, the 3D UI can be easily personalized to fit the needs of various devices and platforms. Rightware’s Kanzi Engine has been also optimized for delivering comprehensive UI designs with increased performance capabilities. “We’re very excited to announce ZTE Corporation licensing the Kanzi UI Solution,” Tero Sarkkinen, CEO of Rightware, stated.

“Our designers and engineers worked together with ZTE’s team and the results of this cooperation now boost ZTE in competing for the pole position in the global smartphone rally. Their latest Android smartphones powered with Kanzi 3D user interfaces significantly raise the bar for the competition.”


LG Preps White Flavor of LG Optimus LTE II




South Korean mobile phone maker LG Electronics is getting ready to bring to the market a white flavor of its newly-released LG Optimus LTE II, recent reports suggest.

As the first handset in the world to pack 2GB of RAM to power its Android operating system, the Optimus LTE II was launched only in the vendor’s homeland market. The handset was made available in Black initially, but LG is readying the release of a pale flavor of the smartphone too, the photo that leaked over at pocketdroid shows.

Optimus LTE II arrives on shelves with a 1.5GHz dual-core processor inside, and it sports a large 4.7-inch True HD IPS (1280 x 720 p) display on the front. It also features 16GB of internal memory, a microSD memory card slot to add up to 32GB of external storage space, and an 8MP camera on the back, with HD video recording capabilities.




Bitfenix Prodigy Mini-ITX Case Enters




For people who just don't like to take laptops to gaming gatherings, BitFenix has created the Prodigy mini-ITX desktop case, for miniature PCs that are also powerful.

BitFenix isn't going to tell you what motherboard you should buy in order to have all you need to build a strong computer. What the company will do is make sure you have a good-looking and tough case to keep that beast of yours in. The Shinobi and Colossus are exhibit A. Exhibit B and C came out a while ago two, along with some others, so we aren't sure what letter we're at now, especially since BitFenix also has fans and card readers for sale, among other things. As such, we'll just go ahead and say what's so great about the BitFenix Prodigy.

One thing is the size: this is a very small case, for mini-ITX motherboards, which is the smallest type of mainboard that can also manage decently in gaming PCs. The inside of the prodigy holds a modular FlexCage, with space for up to five 3.5-inch HDDs or 2.5-inch SSDs. It can be removed too, should one desire to fit large (240mm) watercooling radiators and graphics cards instead. One 5.25-inch drive bay exists as well, plus extra places where SSDs can be installed, bringing the maximum number of storage devices to 10 (9 SSDs + ODD).

"The wave of enthusiast class mini-ITX motherboards is upon us, and with Prodigy, users finally have a case to match," says BitFenix Product Manager, David Jarlestedt. "No longer will users have to choose between compact size and blazing performance. With Prodigy, mini-ITX users can finally have it all.". BitFenix Prodigy is made of steel and plastic and has two PCI expansion slots at the back, interchangeable front facades, tool-free installation, filtered air intakes, the BitFenix SofTouch Surface Treatment and a side I/O panel with two USB 3.0 ports and HD audio jacks (speaker/mic). The price is $79 (63 Euro) and every other relevant and not so relevant bit of info is listed here, so check it all out.



ASUS Transformer Pad TF300TL with LTE Coming Soon




ASUS’ Transformer Pad TF300 is very popular lately. The tablet comes with a quad-core ARM Cortex A9 processor from Nvidia, with powerful graphics and a very nice 10” screen.

Connectivity is well improved over the first generation of Transformers, but only WiFi is available as a networking option. We have some good news for those that were hoping for a 3G or 4G version. It seems that now FCC is reportedly looking at a 850MHz and 1900MHz communication-enabled tablet from ASUS.

The model is TF300TL and the 850MHz and 1900MHz, 700MHz and 1700 MHz communication frequencies are needed for HSPA 3G, as well as for LTE-based 4G. There is no launch date, no rumor and no other suppositions except the fact that this tablet is very likely to be enhanced with Nvidia’s Icera modem that was recently announced by the video card manufacturer yesterday.





NVIDIA Prepares GeForce GTX 660 Graphics Card




If you were wondering when you'd get a mainstream graphics cards from NVIDIA, you might not have to wait much longer.

Swedish website SweClockers claims to have discovered when the GeForce GTX 660 video controller will be formally launched. No precise day was mentioned, but the report did say that we should be looking at late summer, between July and August. That's not as soon as we were hoping, but we'll have to take what we can get. The specifications of the product are predominantly guesswork at this stage, as is the price, but they should be more or less accurate. The GK106 will act as the heart of the card, with its four SMX clusters and 768 CUDA cores. 2 GB of GDDR5 will back up said chip, operating on an interface of either 192 or 256 bits, probably the latter.

The Santa Clara, California-based company should eventually have a GTX 650 and maybe even low-end, possibly low profile cards out and selling. There probably won't be very many customers for them though, considering the existence of integrated GPUs in the majority of consumer CPUs nowadays. AMD's accelerated processing units (APUs) are a particularly painful thorn, since they have mainstream-level GPUs, not throw-away circuits.

That's neither here nor there though. NVIDIA doesn't need to worry about such things overmuch. Instead, it would do well to choose an accessible price for the GTX 660. SweClockers hints at 2,500 Swedish kronors, which translates into roughly $350, or 278 Euro. The sum is not in line with previous beliefs that the tag will fall in the $299-$329 range, but it does include VAT, so there is some justification. Keep your eyes and ears peeled in July and August and remember: NVIDIA might use the Ti branding on the GeForce GTX 660, as it did for the GTX 560 Ti.


Samsung Mobile PIN Shops Readying for GALAXY S III Launch




With only four days left until Galaxy S III sales kick off, Samsung has officially launched special standalone stores, which are meant to offer customers the possibility to fully interact with the company’s latest Android flagship smartphone.

They will be called Samsung Mobile PINs and will be the first European locations to sell the Galaxy S III, starting in London from May 29. The South Korean company also confirmed the first two Samsung Mobile PINs will open on May 29 in London at Westfield Shepherd’s Bush and Old Spitalfields Market. However, Samsung plans to launch two additional PINs in the UK at some point this summer, which will be located in Hyde Park and Olympic Park. According to Samsung, “the conceptual idea of the PIN is a moving landmark experience like a pinpoint on a map.”

Customers who are willing to pay a visit to such Mobile PINs will meet Samsung’s fully trained staff members who will share their product knowledge and provide demos, and even allow them to try out other smart mobile devices, functions, services, and apps. Design-wise, the Samsung Mobile PIN’s walls are entirely made of glass, which makes it is easier to move to different locations. In fact, the PINs walls are built with “a two-way customized mirrored glass.” Visitors will also have the pleasure to take part in various events surrounding the Mobile PIN, such as the Galaxy Studio event.

Hands-on sessions for Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note will also offer customers the opportunity to learn more about the features of these smartphones. Drawing competitions using the Galaxy Note will also be opened to all visitors.  “We welcome everyone to this dynamic and energetic place to fully experience and enjoy all the core features of Samsung mobile products,” said Younghee Lee, Samsung’s senior vice president and head of Global Marketing at Mobile Communications Business.



Apacer Announces New DDR3-1600 16GB ECC RDIMM




American memory manufacturer Apacer has reportedly just launched the new DDR3-1600 16GB ECC RDIMM memory modules. These are high-density 16 GB DDR3 modules with integrated server technologies.

ECC is short for error correction code. This is a special technology added to memory modules used in very demanding systems, such as servers, and especially where the user can’t tolerate errors. Usually, memory lapses are caused by the sudden shift of one single memory cell from one state to another. ECC-enhanced memory modules have a special chip that identifies these errors and corrects them on the fly. DRAM memory chips are very resilient, they have a long life and are backed by a very long warranty period, usually lifetime.

The errors are usually caused by cosmic rays and neutrons. It was thought that they are very rare and that ECC is rarely necessary, as many laboratory studies have found. When doing larger studies, involving many server locations around the world with millions of DRAM memory chips inside, it was found that more than 8% of the memory modules are affected by errors every year. Apacer’s new module is also a Registered DIMM. That means that more modules are supported in a system with many DIMM slots. There is also a performance penalty when applying Registered technology to a module.

Being an ECC RDIMM module, Apacer’s new DDR3-1600 16GB ECC RDIMM is perfect for servers needing a high density memory, but it comes at a rather high CL11 latency. A CL11 latency can be found in Team Group’s new DDR3-3000 MHz memory kits and lower CL10 latencies are attainable with Team Group's Vulcan Series 2400 MHz modules. Having a CL11 latency at just 1600 MHz is not quite fast, but that’s how it usually is when it comes to servers. Pricing has not been made official.



Nokia Belle Refresh for Symbian^3 and Anna Phones Leaks, Coming to N8, C7 and E7




In line with the latest news on the upcoming release of Nokia Belle FP1 for the N8, new screenshots of the update have just leaked online.

Nokia officials confirmed a few days ago that Nokia N8 would receive a Nokia Belle FP1 update, but to a “lighter” level due to the hardware requirements. Although the Finnish company plans to include a minor overclock to the N8, this will still not be enough to make users’ experience as intended. This is why Nokia decided to create a specially tailored version of Nokia Belle that would be able to run on Symbian^3 and Symbian Anna phones, N8 included. The folks over at UnleashThePhones have been tipped on the upcoming update, which is still under development.

There’s a set of screenshots available as well, which provides more insight on what’s to come for these older Symbian handsets. According to these screenshots, the specially tailored update for Symbian^3 and Anna will be known as Nokia Belle Refresh and will offer some of the features already available in Nokia Belle FP1. However, lots of improvements will be skipped, again, due to hardware requirements. So far, only three phones have been confirmed to receive this Belle Refresh update: Nokia N8, E7 and C7. Obviously, there’s a chance that this short list will be expanded with additional models in the future, though we don’t have information on this yet.

At first glance, the leaked screenshots reveal the build number (111.040) and the browser version, which received a bump to version 8.3 though Belle FP1 has an earlier 8.2 iteration. On the other hand, Belle Refresh comes with Java 2.3, whereas the Belle FP1 features Java 2.4. The source of this leak mentions that this is not the final version of Nokia Belle Refresh and that more changes may be added in the future. For more details and screenshots of Belle Refresh head over to the original post.




Dual-GPU AMD HD 7970 X2 in the Making




You'd think that AMD's Radeon HD 7990 would be the end-all of all dual-chip graphics card efforts, but this does not seem to be the case if recent reports are to be believed.

The folks at DonanimHaber may have just stumbled upon the most queer of information pieces this year has seen so far. Apparently, AMD's graphics card manufacturing partners are creating custom-made dual-GPU boards of their own. This would not be at all surprising if said video cards were variations of the Radeon HD 7990. The Sunnyvale, California-based company has, after all, been said to have decided that the dual-GPU beast will appear during Computex 2012, in Taipei, next month (June 05-09). But here lies the strange part: according to DonanimHaber, the AIB partners aren't calling their projects Radeon DH 7990. Instead, they are using the “Radeon HD 7970 X2” moniker, which gives birth to a slew of new possibilities.

Obviously, any Radeon HD 7970 X2 will have two Tahiti graphics processing units, since this is the GPU that gives the HD 7970 its power. More importantly, depending on what PCBs companies choose, what coolers they have and what other tweaks they do to the circuitry, boards may end up with higher clocks than the 7990 itself (1 GHz). By that logic, we can definitely see 6 GB of GDDR5 VRAM backing the 28nm chips, but this is pure speculation at this stage. Regardless, it is plain as day that AMD's AIB partners are bent on launching products capable of putting pressure on NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 690. Add to that the likelihood of the Radeon HD 7970 X2 to also have a lower price and you have everything needed for a nice price war.

We're not saying such a competition will start - that is guesswork at best - but we're definitely in favor of developments that cause price reductions, so we'll risk hoping.


Dell’s First Windows 8 Tablet Comes with Atom Clover Trail Pictured




American company DELL is one of the largest computer manufacturers in the world. For a long time an Intel exclusive partner, DELL is reportedly getting ready to launch its first Windows 8 tablet which will be powered by an Intel processor.

The device will have quite a large 10.8” screen and will sport the dreaded 1366 x 768 resolution, but for such a medium-sized screen, the “HD Ready” 1366 x 768 resolution will be just fine. Many of you are probably wondering how will Intel’s low performance graphics be able to handle 3D applications running at such a resolution. The answer is “just fine,” as it is likely it won’t be Intel made, but rather a PowerVR GX544MP2 core licensed from Imagination. We’ve seen how Medfield is able to stand against last year’s dual-core and quad-core ARM processors, so Clover Field can only do better.

The ones that think Clover Trail with Windows 8 will be slow, should really think again. Sure, Microsoft’s operating systems are demanding, but Windows 8 was built with low-power tablets in mind, and we believe DELL knew what it was doing when it chose to offer the tablet with only 2 GB or RAM. We must underline that, considering the low price of DDR memory right now, 4 GB would have been preferable. This is not the usual DDR2 800 MHz memory like you might think, but a LP version. That’s short for Low Power, so upgrading may be tricky.

Storage is going to be very fast, as a 128 GB SSD is also available. The tablet will also come with a fingerprint reader, dual webcams (2MP and 8MP), and a removable battery with a high capacity option. Because Clover Trail is very power-efficient, the battery life will be slated between 6 and 8 hours with the normal battery, and 10 to 12 hours with the high capacity one.  Let’s see how AMD’s Hondo will be able to stand against this with its 40 nm manufacturing technology.



Intel's “Secret” Socket 1356 CPUs




Intel's Xeon E5 and E3 socket LGA 1356 processors have been out and about for a while, but so have four chips that people may not have heard of, due to Intel's deliberate secrecy.

Of course, “secrecy” may be laying it on thick a bit, since the Santa Clara, California-based company didn't actually wage a covert war or anything. The corporation did do something odd though: it chose not to include a pair of Pentium chips, as well as two Xeons, in its roadmap. Chances are that Intel developed them for specific clients and didn't see the need to shout their existence from the rooftops. On the flip side, having a 20 MB cache CPU and not talking about it is rather strange.

That's right, there is an unannounced processor with 20 MB of L3 cache. It is named Xeon E5-2449L and has eight cores. Hyper threading technology turns those 8 cores into 16 threads and there is even Turbo Boost support, which means that the base clock, 1.4 GHz, can be pushed to 1.8 GHz in a pinch. The TDP (thermal design power) of the E5-2449L is 50W. The second “secret” Xeon is called E5-1410, has four cores and eight threads, 10 MB of cache and speeds of 2.8 GHz base and 3.2 GHz Turbo. The TDP is 80W.

The other two CPUs are called Pentium 1403 and Pentium 1407. Both of them are dual-core models with 5 MB L3 cache and TDPs of 80W. The former works at 2.6 GHz, while the latter boasts a frequency of 2.8 GHz. Neither has Turbo Boost. The two Xeon units can handle dual processing (two of them can operate on a dual-socket motherboard), but the Pentiums lack this capability. Unfortunately, we don't know what prices Intel has slapped on these four chips, even though they are being shipped as part of Dell workstations, including Dell PowerEdge R320.


Windows Phone 8 Devices Leak: Nokia PureLambda, PurePhi and Alpha (UPDATED)




We reported yesterday about a certain Nokia Phi device spotted in WP Bench, an application that is used to benchmark Windows phones.

Apparently, this Nokia Phi was tested running Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Phone 8 (Apollo) operating system, though no additional details have been unveiled. According to a screenshot leaked online, Nokia Phi was powered by OS 8.0.9698.0, though it’s almost certain that this isn’t the final version of the operating system. Today, no less than three Windows Phone 8 devices have been spotted in WP Bench database, all three manufactured by Nokia: PureLambda, PurePhi and Alpha. The folks over at MyNokiaBlog have been tipped on these smartphones, but other than the fact that there are powered by Windows Phone 8, there is no information available for the moment.

There’s one thing we noticed, it appears that Nokia PureLambda runs OS 8.0.9842, which seems to be an earlier build in comparison with Nokia Phi’s OS build, which leaked yesterday. Still, it’s pretty common at this stage to see various test devices running different OS builds, especially given the fact that Microsoft and Nokia are still working on Windows Phone 8, which is slated for a June release date. Although we don’t know anything about these WP8-powered handsets, their names suggest that Nokia plans to make its first PureView smartphone with Windows Phone on-board. In the same piece of news, the company confirmed a few days ago that it planned to bring slimmer PureView smartphones on the market, which might mean lower than 41-megapixel cameras.

We don’t have any ETA for Nokia’s first Windows Phone 8 devices, but everything points to possible announcements in early September. The Finnish handset maker recently announced its yearly Nokia World event would be held in Helsinki on September 5- 6, though it was originally set for September 25-26. Stay tuned for more updates on the matter.

UPDATE: It appears that Robert Varga from WP Bench has contacted WMPoweruser to make it clear that these devices are NOT real and that he will be removing them from the database. However, he will not remove the Nokia Phi that we reported on yesterday.


Nokia PureLambda

Nokia Pure Phi

Sony Xperia ST26i Revealed in Benchmarks with Android 4.0.4 ICS




Sony Mobile’s Android roadmap for Q2/Q3 2012 leaked several months ago and we’re expecting some of Xperia devices to be officially announced in the following weeks.

The Japanese company is actively working on bringing its smartphones into various markets, which is why we’ve been flooded with leaked benchmarks that give us a glimpse of the their devices’ capabilities. Earlier this month a mid-budget Android phone, Sony Xperia ST26i, emerged along with some of its specs, though no official confirmation has been received yet. Today, the first Sony Xperia ST26i benchmark reveals that the smartphone will come with a capacitive touchscreen display that supports 854 x 480 pixels resolution. No detail on the size of the screen has been mentioned in the benchmarks, but previous rumors confirm the smartphone will sport a 4.0-inch display.

Furthermore, according to this GL Benchmark 2.1, Sony Xperia ST26i is powered by Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich and packs a 1 GHz processor. However, although we initially thought the phone would be equipped with ST-Ericsson’s U8500 CPU clocked at 1GHz, the device benchmarked embeds a 1 GHz Qualcomm MSM7627 processor and an old Adreno 200 graphics processing unit. There are no other details mentioned, but previously leaked information on Sony Xperia ST26i specs sheet indicates that the smartphone might pack 512 MB of RAM and 8 GB of internal memory.

No word on microSD card slot for memory expansion, but there’s a high chance that this mid-range handset will offer users the possibility to expand storage amount even further. While Sony Mobile is struggling to bring its 2011 Xperia smartphones to Android 4.0 ICS, the company has yet to bring its entire Xperia NXT devices on the market. Sony Xperia U, P and sola have yet to be introduced in some countries, but we suspect the handset maker will announce more devices before these are available worldwide.



Intel Core i5-3350P Has No Integrated Graphics




It was just days ago that we wrote about the Core i5-3365M mobile central processing unit and how it would be released in the third quarter of the year.

Now we are going to write about another 22nm Ivy Bridge CPU set for Q3 launch, one that belongs to the Ivy Bridge line but lacks integrated graphics. Called Core i5-3350P, it is a quad-core chip that has another drawback compared to most of its peers: lack of Hyper Threading support. Fortunately, the Santa Clara, California-based company kept the Turbo Boost, allowing the clock speed to rise from 3.10 GHz to 3.30 GHz.

Finally, the thermal design power (TDP) is of 69W and the cache memory (L3) is 6 MB. We don't know whether or not Intel's Core i5-3350P will have an unlocked multiplier. The report from DonanimHaber didn't specify.


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