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May 29, 2012

Nvidia’s Grey and Wayne CPUs to Arrive in 2013

It seems that Qualcomm has a free hand to rule the high performance tablet and smartphone market this year. Nvidia’s own Cortex A15 based design won’t be coming this year after all.

Sure Samsung might have something to say about Qualcomm’s SnapDragon S4 Pro with the company’s Exynos 5 processors, but the Korean giant seems to be still working a dual core Cortex A15. Qualcomm has already sent its SnapDragon S4 Pro platform to select hardware reviewers and Samsung’s choice of a quad core Cortex A9 design for the Galaxy SIII phone seem to be proof that they’re not ready with the A15 generation of CPUs. Nvidia has just announced the LTE certification by AT&T of the company’s first 4G modem and now is getting ready to pair this chip with their upgraded Tegra 3+ processor.

Unfortunately this is about all we’ll be able to get from the California based IC designer this year. Those that were hoping for a late 2012 Tegra 4 launch are in for a disappointment. Tegra 4 will only come in mid-2013 and all we will be able to get before that is the Grey chip. Nvidia Grey is likely the complete integration of the Icera 410 modem with the impending Tegra 3+. This chip will likely start shipping early next year spurring a heap of “long battery life” marketing slogans as that’s the most important addition it will be able to offer.

Being a single chip solution, Grey will also help Nvidia offer a cost competitive solution that, later in the year will most likely roam the mid-range market. For the high-end, Nvidia will pair the Icera 500 100 megabit LTE modem with the Cortex A15 based Tegra 4 built on TSMC’s 28 nm manufacturing process.

Graphene Implementation in Traditional Transistor Design Demonstrated

We’ve recently reported on Samsung’s impressive breakthrough that will allow modern chips built using the company’s newly baptized barristor to reach 300 GHz to 1 THz working frequencies.

We’ve also underlined that working on a combination of silicon and graphene such as silicene will most likely yield unsatisfactory results. While silicene seemed much closer to the market than a purely graphene chip, technologies that combine graphene and other materials were deemed less desirable than a pure grapheme implementation because of the fact that graphene’s main incentive was lost. Trying to transform a semi metal like graphene into a semiconductor will most likely lead to a considerable loss in electron mobility and it’s that electron mobility scientists find so precious at graphene.

Graphene has an electron mobility 200 to 300 times greater than silicon. When combining it with other materials, this value is lowered to around 1.5 to 3 times the characteristic silicon electron mobility. Researchers from Penn State University have managed to grow a very thin layer of graphene on a layer of hexagonal boron nitride (hBN). The graphene is only three atoms thick while hexagonal boron nitride is almost a hundred times thicker.

Even if we disregard the costs of implementing and mastering such a technology, the fact that the electron mobility is only 2 to 3 times greater than with silicon makes it seem much less desirable than Samsung’s graphene barristor. The only other advantage is the fact that this graphene and hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) combination has been applied on a traditional transistor design rather than a new microelectronic component such as the barristor.

iPhone 6 Coming in 2014; No More Interim Upgrades, Analyst Proposes

Analyst Amit Daryanani with RBC Capital Markets suggests Apple might begin to refresh the iPhone once every two years, as opposed to once every year, which is the currently established model for the Cupertino, California giant.

Arguing that Apple saw just 21 percent growth in iPhone shipments year-over-year in Q4 2011 (compared to 91 percent growth in Q4 2010), Daryanani is telling investors in a research note that in his company’s view, “a redesigned version of the iPhone every two years will likely result in higher unit sales.” This, “relative to the iPhone ’S’ versions as carrier contracts last roughly 2 years and consumers have historically been attracted to the new design concepts created by Apple,” he explained to investors this week. After reading these insightful lines from one of the most prominent investment banks out there, the logical assessment is that, if Daryanani has caught on to this, you can bet your grandma Apple has caught on to this as well.

Which is why Apple might indeed extend the refresh cycle of the iPhone to two years, while introducing other cool stuff (perhaps even all-new products) in between these refreshes, to keep the hype going. In short: expect the iPhone 6 in 2014, should Daryanani's forecast prove accurate. The analyst predicts that Apple’s iPhone 5, set to be unveiled later this year, would have “the latest 4G/LTE technology” and a redesigned chassis. He anticipates avilability in the "late summer/early fall time frame.”

RBC further expects a MacBook Pro refresh this June, as many reports have indicated as well. Finally, they predict Apple might just roll out a television too, arguing that such a product would make "strategic sense" for the company. The TV would feature Siri voice control and a Retina display, according to the people at RBC Capital Markets.

Dual-SIM Motorola MOTOSMART Android Phone Goes on Sale in Brazil

Motorola continues to bring its Android smartphones to South America with a new affordable device – the dual-SIM MOTOSMART. The handset has just been introduced in Brazil and is now available for purchase via authorized resellers across the country for 325 USD (260 EUR) off-contract.

Those unfamiliar with Motorola’s latest Android phones should know that the MOTOSMART Dual-SIM is in fact the South American variant of the Motorola XT390, which has been confirmed for China Unicom. Aside from its dual-SIM capabilities, the smartphone offers users the advantages of Google’s Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system. In addition, the MOTOSMART Dual-SIM comes with Motorola’s MotoSwitch user interface that learns whom the user talks to the most and which apps they use. All information is then saved and put right on the home screen just a click away.

The handset is powered by a low-performance 800 MHz processor, complemented by 512MB of RAM. Furthermore, the internal memory can be further expanded up to 32GB via microSD card slot. There’s also a 3-megapixel camera on the back, coming with a special feature and special effects to make pictures more fun. In the connectivity front, the MOTOSMART Dual-SIM offers a slew of options, including microUSB, Wi-Fi, DLNA, and Bluetooth. It is also worth mentioning that Motorola MOTOSMART Dual-SIM sports a decent 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen display that supports 240 x 320 pixels resolution and 262k colors.

Obviously, users will be provided with access to hundreds of thousands of apps and games on Google Play Store, as well as Google’s full suite of services, including Google Search, Maps, Gmail, Gtalk and YouTube.  “The dual-SIM option on the Motorola MOTOSMART Dual-SIM enables consumers to choose the carriers and service plans that best fit their needs. We aim to provide handsets with features that meet the needs of all types of users at competitive prices,” says Edson Bortolli, product director, Motorola Mobility Brazil.

Japan’s Sharp Pantone 5 107SH Smartphone Can Measure Radiation

Smartphones launched on the Japanese market usually come with a set of features that make them quite different from those launched in other markets around the world, and the new Sharp Pantone 5 107SH is no different.

In fact, the new smartphone ups the ante with the inclusion of a new sensor inside it, one that would provide users with info on the radiation levels around them. Sharp Pantone 5 107SH is the very first smartphone in the world to arrive on the market with such capabilities, which makes it truly unique. The handset features a dedicated radiation reading application, which can be launched through pressing a physical button on the phone’s front. The app should offer reading results in around 10 seconds. Launched on Softbank’s network, the new mobile phone also features vibrant body colors, along with features and capabilities that make it worthy of a mid-level Android-based handset.

The new device is expected to arrive on shelves sometime in mid-July with Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system on board, and with support for the various applications and services available for similar smartphones. On the front, it sports a 3.7-inch touchscreen display, capable of an 854 × 480 pixels resolution and offering support for up to 16.77 million colors. The new Sharp Pantone 5 107SH is powered by a 1.4GHz single-core application processor, and it can offer support for W-CDMA (900MHz/1.5GHz/2.1GHz) frequencies (4Mbps on the downlink and 5.7Mbps on the uplink).

Other specs of the new mobile phone include WiFi IEEE 802.11 b / g / n and Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity, along with Infrared, Global roaming, and waterproof capabilities. Moreover, it sports a 5-megapixel photo snapper on the back, complemented by a secondary camera for making video calls. When released, the smartphone will be accompanied by a series of accessories meant to expand its capabilities, the wireless carrier notes.

Dell Has Two New Inspiron All-in-One PCs Ready Too

Dell has formally launched three all-in-one PCs, one of which we have already covered in detail, being fitted with a special screen.

The Inspiron One 23 and Inspiron One 20 are relatively tame in comparison, and that is not surprising, given their role as mainstream, affordable systems. The former has a 23-inch Full HD screen (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) and either a Core i3 Sandy Bridge CPU or a Core i7 Ivy Bridge chip.

The latter measures 20 inches (1,600 x 900 display) and gets a dual-core Pentium or a Core i3 Sandy Bridge. Prices start at $749 / 598 Euro and $529 / 422 Euro, respectively, and will go up depending on what storage, memory, I/O and graphics options are selected (AMD Radeon HD 7650A is only available on the Inspiron One 23). Keep an eye on your local retailer.

Galaxy S III Features Come to Galaxy Nexus via CynogenMod 9 Add-on

Samsung’s latest flagship Android-based handset, the Galaxy S III, comes to the market with a hefty load of goodies loaded on top of Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich platform.

Designed specifically for the new device, these new features can be downloaded and installed on other handsets as well, including the Galaxy Nexus, the latest Google phone out there. A XDA-Developers forum member managed to get these features out of a recently leaked Galaxy S III ROM, and has ported them to the older smartphone.

The trick is that this feature add-on can be loaded only on top of CyanogenMod 9 software. Those who want to get a taste of them will need to flash a CM9 ROM on their Galaxy Nexus handsets before that. However, chances are that it would work on other ROMs as well.

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge S430 Finally Gets Priced Online

Lenovo's ThinkPad business line of mobile personal computers has been growing steadily, but some of its officially introduced members haven't yet made it to the market.

The laptop we can finally report as having been listed online is the ThinkPad Edge S430, originally revealed during this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2012). Two German retailers have posted it, as shown on this website. The price is of 809 Euro, which is roughly equivalent to $1,000 USD. That's quite a bit of cash, but the specs justify the sum, even though the screen could have gone a step higher. What we mean by that is that the native resolution of the 14-inch panel is 1,600 x 900 instead of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels.

Then again, this is a business model, so Full HD playback wasn't really a concern, especially when the screen size isn't even large enough for the HD / Full HD difference to be perceptible. At any rate, the heart of the machine is an Intel Core i5-3210M dual-core Ivy Bridge CPU, with a clock speed of 2.5 GHz. 4 GB of RAM (random access memory) back up said processor, while an NVIDIA GT 630M discrete graphics adapter handles the more strenuous video tasks. The hardware list goes on with a 500 GB hard drive, a DVD writer, a webcam, HDMI out, a media card reader, Ethernet, USB 2.0, Wi-Fi and even Thunderbolt.

Finally, the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge S340 is loaded with Microsoft's Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit operating system. An odd choice of an OS really, since Windows 7 Professional would have been a better fit for a business device. Nevertheless, the S430 is quite thin (0.87 inches / 22 millimeters), making it appealing to all sorts of buyers, not just professionals. Lenovo should go on record with the official prices and potential hardware customizations soon.

Nvidia’s Faster Tegra 3+ Coming Soon with LTE

Like we reported earlier, Nvidia is working hard on the new Tegra 3+ ARM low-power processing unit. Although a lot of Nvidia’s engineers are already busy with Tegra 4, the Tegra 3+ team is now going to put the Nvidia Icera to good use together with the new CPU.

The launch date of the new Tegra 3+ upgrade is approaching, but the main things that are still holding it back are TSMC and the multiple Tegra 3 devices already in stock. TSMC has improved the yield of their 28 nm manufacturing line, but the company is having difficulty in supplying enough chips, as the demand for AMD’s GCN GPUs, Nvidia’s Kepler and Qualcomm’s S4, is very high. The Taiwan-based foundry has promised to make Nvidia a priority for the 28 nm manufacturing line and it probably did, but a 200 MHz higher clock was not enough to make Tegra 3 + appealing.

Therefore, Nvidia is likely to bring the Icera LTE technology together with the new and improved Tergra 3+. LTE is very popular in the United States and Nvidia wants to capitalize on that. There is great demand for low-power LTE-capable platforms in the US. In fact, Nvidia is practically shut out of the LTE smartphone market, as Qualcomm’s S4 is currently the high-performance low-power CPU of choice for 2012 smartphone designs.

Sure, the California-based GPU designer is not just after smartphones, but it is also planning Tegra 3+ LTE tablets that, in fact, are already being certified by the FCC. One example of such a tablet is the TransformerPad TF300TL that we’ve already reported about. Tegra 3+ is reportedly coming with an increased maximum clock frequency of around 1700 MHz.

Dell Launches WQHD 2560 x 1440 XPS All-in-One PC

All-in-One systems have reached the point where it takes real effort to differentiate them from the flock, so Dell figured it might as well put it all into it for once.

The company has officially launched the XPS One 27, an all-in-one system whose screen stands out more than the rest of the hardware. The 27-inch panel features a WLED backlighting (White LED) and a native resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, which is otherwise known as Wide Quad High Definition (WQHD). Dell, for some reasons, calls the pixel quality Full Quad HD, but that is incorrect. Quad Full High Definition is the name of 3,840 x 2,160. The list of hardware components of the XPS One 27 is largely unsurprising otherwise, albeit top-tier.

An Intel Core i5 or Core i7 Ivy Bridge central processing unit is backed by up to 16 GB of DDR3 random access memory (RAM). The HD 4000 integrated graphics of the CPU provide video performance, unless buyers choose to pay extra for the NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M (2 GB GDDR5 VRAM). The storage capacity is also customizable, with HDD capacity of up to 2 TB (1 TB standard) and the possibility of using SSD caching (Intel Smart Response technology). One may even go for an HDD + 32 GB mSATA combo. Moving on, Dell chose to equip its high-end AiO with a slot-loading DVD drive (optional Blu-ray combo), built-in Infinity speakers, Waves MaxxAudio 4 and 7.1 channel Surround Sound jacks.

As for connectivity and I/O, Gigabit Ethernet is, naturally, present, as is a webcam (Full HD), a dual digital microphone array for Skype and an optional WiFi + Bluetooth 4.0 card. Sales of the Dell XPS One 27 should have already started, for $1,399 / 1,118 Euro, but only in some Asian countries. The US and other regions will have to wait one or a few more weeks.

Intel Pineview CPUs in Serious Shortage

The Intel Atom D525 processor, codenamed Pineview, would probably be better known to the world if it had scored more consumer electronics design wins instead of digital signage, gaming machines, embedded systems, and point of sales (POS) machines.

There are other ways for a product to become known by the common folk, though not all of them fortuitous. This is one such case. According to murmurs among component makers, Intel hasn't managed to provide as many Pineview chips as required.

In fact, the Santa Clara, California-based company has been hard-pressed to meet orders since last month (April 2012). The industrial PC market, overall, has only been receiving 20% of the chip shipments it is supposed to. Intel has been trying a new management strategy to smoothen things out, but little success has been met.

AMD’s Official Stand on Trinity and Llano Transistor Count

There was quite a mystery last week concerning the transistor count of AMD’s latest APU and about the previous generation, the well-known Llano APUs.

AMD has finally come clean about the whole thing and confessed they don’t really like to count billions of transistors and decided to ignore a couple of hundred of millions. AMD’s Peter Amos has graciously provided a response to BSN’s inquiry and that was: "Beginning in 2012, AMD updated its methodology for transistor counts to ensure consistency. The numbers provided for our recent Trinity launch (and all disclosures moving forward) are based on a flat device count minus de-capacitor cells. The numbers that were provided at last year’s Hot Chips conference were based on flat device + de-cap cells."

This practically explains why AMD’s “Bulldozer” got rid of about 800 million transistors and why Llano was considered to have a transistor count anywhere between 1.17 billion to 1.45 billion. Practically, both counts were correct, but it’s just that AMD decided to ignore the de-capacitor cells. Therefore, counting by the new method, Llano is made of 1.17 billion transistors and 280 million de-cap cells.

Galaxy S III’s S-Voice App Works on Non-Samsung Devices Again

Samsung’s Galaxy S III smartphone, the latest flagship Android-based device from the company, arrives on shelves with a set of new, appealing features.

Among them, we can count an S-Voice application that was recently extracted from a leaked Galaxy S III ROM, and which was already ported to other devices. Owners of Galaxy S II or Galaxy Note devices had the chance to taste it initially, but it was soon made available for non-Samsung Android phones as well. Following that initial leak, Samsung stepped up and blocked the app, preventing all users from enjoying its capabilities. However, it appears that some enthusiasts managed to find a workaround to make the software work again. While only the signed version of the app was providing access to the S-Voice service after Samsung blocked it, the limitation appears to have been lifted recently.

At the moment, all those who installed the S-Voice app on their devices, both signed and unsigned flavors, should be able to enjoy its features. The app is said to be running pretty well on all devices on which it was installed, though it still has some issues on non-Galaxy S III phones. Given the fact that it was not designed to work on other devices than Samsung’s own phones, it does not come as a surprise that the app sports these problems. It should also be mentioned that the software is compatible only with the smartphones that are powered by Google’s latest platform release, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Those who would like to get more info on the software or grab the application should head over to the XDA-Developers forums for that. Apparently, rooted devices will enjoy a mode integrated and stable experience with the S-Voice app than what others will receive. Since rooting a phone voids warranty, we would not suggest trying this method.

Intel-Based Orange Santa Clara Confirmed for May 31

Orange and Intel have teamed up to offer the former’s customers a new Android phone based on the latter’s mobile platform, Santa Clara. The smartphone will be officially launched on May 31, and will probably hit shelves the same day.

The smartphone has been on “Coming Soon” at Orange UK for quite some time now, but the carrier did not offer a release date until today. Although Orange mentions that the Santa Clara is the pre-release name of the phone and that the full name will be announced at launch, it appears that this will actually be the final name of the handset. The folks over at AndroidCentral have been invited to the launch event and the name Santa Clara is clearly stated in the invitation, though it says this is the phone's codename.

The carrier also confirmed that the Santa Clara would be an Orange exclusive, and that it will be available on both pay monthly and PAYG (pay as you go). While there are no details on the pricing options yet, it’s almost certain that Orange Santa Clara will be available for free on select plan. The only thing to determine will be the no-term price of the smartphone. Feature-wise, Santa Clara promises to deliver “fast web browsing, super-responsive apps and effortless multitasking.” In this regard, the smartphone is powered by an Intel Atom processor clocked at 1.6 GHz and sports a large 4.03-inch capacitive touchscreen display.

On the back, the phone boasts an 8-megapixel photo snapper with autofocus and HD video recording. Orange Santa Clara packs 16GB of onboard memory, but there’s no word on microSD card slot. Last but not least, the Santa Clara will be shipped with Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system out of the box. For the time being, it’s unclear if the smartphone will receive an Ice Cream Sandwich update in the future. Check it out here.

Pebble Blue Galaxy S III Shortage Explained by Samsung

Pebble Blue Galaxy S III’s limited availability has already been confirmed, though Samsung did not offer an official explanation behind its decision.

After sending notifications to several UK-based carriers and retailers to let them know pebble blue Galaxy S III stock will be in short supply for the next few weeks, Samsung offered a statement that sheds some light on its postpone decision. It’s unclear whether Samsung’s official word has reached all those carriers and authorized resellers that have been hit by this shortage, but MobileFun.co.uk is one of those that have just been informed on the situation. According to the retailer, Samsung issued the following statement: 
“Samsung’s Galaxy SIII Pebble Blue version comes with a newly invented blue colour and special hyper-glaze material. In order to meet the highest internal quality standards and to provide the best quality Galaxy SIII to customers, a short supply of Pebble Blue version is expected in some regions in the next 2-3 weeks. Samsung is working hard to ensure that customers will get the Pebble Blue coloured devices as soon as possible.”

Vodafone UK informed its customers who pre-ordered the pebble blue 16GB Galaxy S III and the marble white 32GB version that shipments had been delayed 2-3 weeks, which is line with Samsung’s recent statement. Another UK-based retailer also announced that pebble blue Galaxy S III would be available in the week commencing June 5, while the marble white version has been pushed to May 30. Other carriers and retailers across Europe may experience pebble blue Galaxy S III stock shortage, though it’s unclear which they are going to be able to launch on time and which ones will get their stocks a few weeks later.

We recommend those who pre-ordered the pebble blue Samsung Galaxy S III to check with their operators or authorized resellers for an estimated shipping date.

Nokia Preps New Updates for Symbian, Windows Phone Devices

Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia is reportedly gearing up for the release of a new set of software updates for various Symbian and Windows Phone devices, the latest reports on the matter suggest.

Recently, software update 111.30.610 has been seen in Navifirm for the N8, and now we learn via MyNokiaBlog that the same firmware emerged there for Nokia’s C7 and E7 smartphones too. Moreover, there are updates waiting in line for the Nokia 500, namely firmware 111.20.67, and for the company’s 603 handset, software 112.10.1406.

Additionally, Nokia appears to be getting ready to release the Tango update for Lumia 800 (RM-801) and Nokia 800C (RM-802, China). The software will sport version 1750.805.8773.12140. The availability of new software from Nokia should come as good news for users, although no specific info on what the updates will include has emerged.

Lian Li PC Case Is a Moving Locomotive (Video)

This is either a really funny project or an April 1 prank that reached the party a whole month later, but we are going to write about it anyway. It isn't often that something truly unusual shows up on the IT front after all.

Lian Li has formally introduced the CK-101, a PC case that looks and behaves like a steam engine-based train locomotive. And by “behave” we mean just that: it has functional wheels and can travel along miniature rails, pumping out smoke all the while. We've embedded a video of the CK-101 in action below. You can expect to see that happening all day long during Computex actually. In order to attract the crowd, Lian Li will have the PC case drive in loops at its booth. And here is where we should probably make it clear that this is not just a pretty plastic and steel toy. It really is a working desktop case, complete with space for a slim optical drive, 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch storage units and even USB 3.0 connectivity.

CK-101 will share the spotlight with the PC-Q15, another moving case that looks more like an SUV than a train. Lian Li says the two were made specifically for Computex, but we wouldn't rule out the possibility of them selling to people. Anyway, the company will have four more or less standard cases to offer as well, each with its own purpose. They weren't given names, but a general idea of their nature was specified. First off, there is an ATX enclosure with “lots of storage potential” and enough room to hold VGA cards of up to 370mm length.

The second chassis is big enough for EATX motherboards and has “lots of tool-less features and hotswap capabilities.” Thirdly, Lian Li described a server chassis big enough for HPTX platforms and armed with sufficient space for twenty 3.5-inch HDDs. The fourth and final new case is “designed for extreme noise reduction” and has a single, “carefully calculated sized intake vent” on the underside.

TP-Link Launches the N750 Dual-Band Gigabit Router

Network expert company, Shenzhen-headquartered company TP-Link is a well-known manufacturer of end user networking equipment and especially wireless devices.

TP-Link has just announced the introduction of the new TL-WDR4300 N750 dual-band Gigabit router, on its official website. The company is known to be a provider of affordable high-performance wireless networking equipment and, when compared with leaders like Netgear and Linksys, their prices are considerably lower for potentially much more powerful hardware platforms. TP-Link’s products are not only about the best cost per performance ratio, but they are also known for having more modest and sometimes buggy firmware, especially when it comes with more complex products such as routers.

When networking adapters are involved, may those be wired or wireless, TP-Link-branded devices will probably not disappoint you. If you’re willing to risk it and experiment with the TL-WDR4300 N750 dual-band Gigabit router, you might also try some alternative custom firmware builds, but these are mostly recommended for experienced users. The TL-WDR4300 N750 platform is very powerful and feature-rich. The router can sustain two independent wireless networks: one in the 2.4 GHz band with a maximum data rate of 300 Mb/s, and one in the 5GHz band with a maximum of 450 Mb/s.

The device also comes with two USB 2.0 ports that are able to provide the owner with a simple way of sharing an external HDD on the network or, most useful, a printer. The manufacturer claims a maximum throughput of over 800 Mb/s with hardware network address translation (NAT). The router comes with three external detachable antennas, but the gain is not specified. One important addition is VPN support with PPTP, L2TP, IPSec.

As TP-Link accustomed us, the price is quite affordable considering the capabilities of the platform, and the new TL-WDR4300 N750 dual-band Gigabit router will sell for about 90 USD. That around €70 for the European wireless fans.

Details Emerge on Windows 8 Release Preview Flavors

Next week, Redmond-based software giant Microsoft is expected to bring to the market a new version of its next-generation Windows platform, namely Windows 8 Release Preview.

The new platform flavor was confirmed for release in early May, when Microsoft said that it would offer all the necessary details on the platform in the beginning of June. The Release Preview is expected to mark a big step towards the availability of the final version of Windows 8, though it will still lack some of the features that Microsoft plans for the gold release. The latest leaked details on the platform, however, show that Microsoft is gearing up for the launch of more than a single iteration of Windows 8 Release Preview. This is not the first time that such info emerges online, but it is the first time when specific details on these various versions of the platform are made available.

Next week, say WinUnleaked, Microsoft will make available Windows 8 Release Preview Core, Windows 8 Release Preview Pro, Windows 8 Release Preview ProWMC, and Windows 8 Release Preview China Edition. These platform flavors will be released for both x32 and x64 systems and will sport build number 8400, it seems. Here’s what other info said leak unveiled:
Windows 8 Release Preview (Core, Pro, ProWMC)

Windows 8 Release Preview “China” Edition

The different flavors of Windows 8 Release Preview mirror the various iterations of the platform that Microsoft plans to make available this fall. The only one that is missing from here is the Windows RT version, set to be loaded only on devices that are powered by ARM processors. Following the availability of the Release Preview of Windows 8, we should see the platform released to manufacturing sometime in summer, while made commercially available sometime in October, three years after the release of Windows 7.

EVGA’s GTX 690 Breaks World 3D Mark 11 Record

EVGA’s video card and mainboard products are mostly high-end parts and this has been proved over and over again by the fact that professional overclockers are using them to achieve new overclocking records.

Pro-overclocker TIM from Taiwan has reportedly managed to set a new 3D Mark 11 record scoring a high P20962 using a single GeForce GTX 690 video card from EVGA and the expected liquid nitrogen. The mainboard used was also EVGA-branded, namely the EVGA X79 Classified and TIM used 16 GB of DDR3-2133 memory. The i7-3960X CPU was overclocked to 4500 MHz and the score can be broken down as follows: 25,179 points for graphics, 15,213 physics and 12,412 combined.

This is truly a record, but we would really like to see it compared with the previous 3D Mark 11 record that was achieved using a single GPU Radeon HD 7970 video card and a more modest i7-2600K processor. AMD’s “Tahiti” managed to achieve the highest 3D Mark 11 Extreme Preset record on a single GPU card, but as today’s record was done using the “performance” preset, the two can’t really be compared.

Sapphire New B75 Motherboard “Pure White”

Sapphire has stealthily introduced a new motherboard, one that got the name “Pure White” even though there is little to warrant such a moniker.

One would think that a motherboard maker would try to make its product live up to its name at least a little, especially when said name is deliberately flashy. Sapphire has become the exception to that unspoken “rule” though, having given a big name to an unassuming LGA 1155 Sandy Bridge / Ivy Bridge platform. The Pure White B75M-MA does not have a white PCB to give some meaning to the name. Sure, it has a white box, but the product itself is colored brown/black. There isn't anything white about the whole thing actually, except for some of the circuitry. Then again, mainboard makers need to see to the needs of all prospective buyers, not just those with money for high-end hardware.

That said, the B75M-MA is pretty basic, with just one PCI Express 3.0 slot and a single SATA 6.0 Gbps port (the chipset doesn't allow for more). There are three SATA 3.0 Gbps ports too, even though B75 could handle five. No explanation exists for this. Moving on, Sapphire tossed in just one pair of DIMM RAM slots (random access memory), three PCI Express x1 slots and pin headers for two USB 2.0 ports and an USB 3.0 connection. As for the rear panel of the Pure White B75M-MA motherboard, it includes four USB 2.0 ports, a pair of USB 3.0 connectors, 5.1-channel audio, a DVI video output, a D-Sub port and, of course, Gigabit Ethernet.

Finally, in a stunning turn of events, the company chose to equip the Pure White B75M-MA with a CMOS reset button instead of a jumper. Unfortunately, we don't have any price to relay for now, even though the Chinese market has supposedly already received the Pure White B75M-MA.

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