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Jun 8, 2012

AMD Gets Thunderbolt Technology

Intel’s Thunderbolt technology is a way of connecting the PCI-Express BUS to an external apparatus. The technology is kept on a tight leash and usually only Intel and Apple products have access to such an upgrade.

AMD computers seem like are going to get Thunderbolt after all is ASUS reportedly will have it their way. Intel and Apple are the two companies that collaborated on Thunderbolt, and this is the fastest external connect technology widely available now. For those that need a reminder – yes, Thunderbolt is faster than USB 3.0. Thunderbolt’s maximum rated connection speed is 20 Gigabits per second, but most devices out now support only 10 Gigabits per second. USB 3.0 is rated at 5 Gigabits, but the costs of implementing this technology are way smaller than those of trying to implement Intel’s Thunderbolt.

ASUS has shown a bunch of AM3+ mainboard at this year’s Computex show and they reportedly have included a Thunderbolt head on each such motherboard that will work with the company’s ThunderboltEX expansion card. The TB_HEADER is present on ASUS’ upcoming ROG Crosshair V Formula-Z (C5F revision), the mainstream M5A99FX PRO R2.0 and M5A99X EVO R2.0 and on the Sabertooth 990FX R2.0. The expansion card requires a PCI-Express slot x4 and it most likely uses an Intel Cactus Ridge 2C host router. This card will provide the user with a single Thunderbolt port. Other cards using Intel Cactus Ridge 4C will allow for two Thunderbolt ports, but it’s not the case here.

ASUS’ ThunderboltEX expansion card also comes with a DisplayPort. It’s quite a pity AMD hasn’t developed and offered a controller with their alternative “Lightning Bolt” technology that they’ve displayed at CES this year.

iPhone 5 Rendered in 3D Based on Leaks

Industrial designer Bryce Haymond has created a CAD rendering of the upcoming iPhone 5. He based his 360 degree animation on nothing but leaked parts. He basically crammed them all together in his mind and envisioned what the device would look like when Tim Cook launches it this fall.

Haymond says “there’s been quite a bit of hype recently in the Apple universe over the imminent announcement of a new iPhone, or rather the new iPhone (aka iPhone 5).” “Many of the biggest media outlets have already published photos and videos of ‘leaked’ parts that are supposedly from the iPhone 5 as it makes its way into the manufacturing phase at Apple’s suppliers.” So the designer though “it would be fun to piece together these fragments to see what the iPhone 5 might look like when Apple makes the big announcement.” The end result is the video embedded below.

Haymond is an industrial designer. He made the renderings using the same type of software that was used to design the actual phone, he said. “As I looked closely at the sometimes blurry photos of the parts, I noticed some things that I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere online,” he said. Among those things, “the mute switch and volume buttons all appear lower on the left side of the phone than previous models,” he noted. Another finding was that “the back side of the phone looks to be flush with the aluminum bezel.”

The designer clarifies that the front glass panel is still extruded, “but perhaps slightly less than older models.” Haymond believes these design elements “should all equate to a thinner overall phone.” Another discovery of Haymond’s, “the camera and flash appear to be higher on the phone, closer to the top than to the side, ostensibly to provide room for the unibody design of the back panel.” Finally, he points out to the the metal bezel (the antenna frame on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S) which looks dark-gray only on the black model, whereas “the white model keeps the bezel the standard silver color.” Haymond also has a bunch of high-resolution renderings that the media will undoubtedly use to the max in the months leading up to Apple’s announcement.

AMD Trinity vs. Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge (Game Video)

Skeptics will probably say it's not worth making an opinion before people publish some independent benchmark and gaming tests, but everyone else should be quite impressed by the gameplay demo AMD made at Computex 2012.

The folks at NetbookNews have brought us a nice video of AMD's A-Series Trinity completely blowing Intel's Ivy Bridge out of the water. Two screens were placed side by side. One received video from a computer based on a Core i7 CPU, while the other got footage from an AMD system. The difference between frame rates is more than clear. Intel's machine didn't quite manage to scrounge up a passable performance while the other one ran perfectly fine. It makes it easy to understand why AMD's A-Series were given the Best of Choice of Computex award. In fact, the game ran so fine that the person holding the game pad couldn't quite keep up and slammed the car into obstacles. Twice. One of the occasions even left the car totally stuck.

Jabs at player mishaps aside though, we quite like what we see, but we can't help but feel that the comparison between Trinity and Core i7 won't make as much of a difference as it should. Core i7 Ivy Bridge is a high-end platform while AMD's APUs are mainstream chips. The better graphics performance of the latter is definitely a boon, but while this will give Core i3 and Core i5 trouble, it won't really matter to buyers of Core i7.

The reason is that anyone with enough money to buy a Core i7 system will undoubtedly have enough cash, and the disposition, to buy an add-in graphics card too. Maybe not one as absurdly powerful as the 8 GB Dual GTX 680 Mars III, but any GTX 680/670 will do. AMD Radeon are just as likely, but that doesn't change the fact that consumers will choose against buying Trinity. Nevertheless, AMD wanted to prove a point and it did it well.

Patriot Shows Wireless HDD Enclosure: Gauntlet NODE

Patriot’s HDD enclosure is very useful and quite original. Just like IO Data’s innovative autonomous wireless external HDD, it comes with wireless connectivity and an internal battery.

There are two things you usually need when using an external HDD: a power outlet, if the drive needs more current like a 3.5” unit would, or enough battery in your laptop to power the external 2.5” enclosure (most are USB-powered). In both situations, the utilization of an external HDD can prove quite challenging for the mobile user. Therefore, if you don’t have an external power outlet to plug in your power adapter and fuel your 3.5” external HDD, you won’t be able to use it at all. On the other hand, if you have a 2.5” external HDD that’s USB-powered, rest assured that you laptop’s battery will surely drain faster with that drive connected. Our users might be accustomed with Patriot’s memory, flash or solid state disk (SSD) products, and an HDD enclosure is a type of product that we usually see from the likes of Spire or Zalman.

Reportedly, it seems that Patriot wants to be a little bit more original and offer a professional and useful product. Unlike IO Data’s external wireless HDD, the Patriot Gauntlet NODE lets the user upgrade or switch the enclosed 2.5 HDD and allows for simpler and handy wireless connectivity. Connectivity-wise, it seems like Patriot is really gunning for performance and the cabled connection option is through a fast SuperSpeed USB 3.0 interface. The wireless connectivity is WPA-secured and the maximum rated transfer speed is 150 Mb/s.

The fast USB 3.0 interface allows the user to benefit from installing an SSD inside the enclosure and the integrated battery will allow for longer connected times without draining your laptop’s battery. The battery is rated at 5.5 hours and will allow multiple devices to connect to the Patriot Gauntlet NODE wirelessly, just like we’ve described in our IO Data Wireless HDD article here.

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