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Jun 12, 2012

iOS 6 GPS Navigation to Draw Content from TomTom




Apple’s new Maps application, which will provide turn-by-turn directions for GPS users, features technologies licensed from TomTom, the world’s leading supplier of in-car location and navigation products.

A terse announcement from the Amsterdam company itself says “TomTom has signed a global agreement with Apple for maps and related information. No further details of the agreement will be provided. For the world’s most up-to-date route planner, including live traffic information, go to www.tomtom.com/livetraffic.” Engadget received a tip from an anonymous iOS 6 tester who made the original discovery (screenshots above).

Reports say it isn’t clear why Apple is licensing TomTom technology, since the company credits OpenStreetMap for data in the new app. However, the new iOS 6 Maps app does turn-by-turn navigation. TomTom specializes in just that.


Promise Launches Fastest Thunderbolt SSD




Thunderbolt really is a piece of work. It lets external solid state drives reach transfer speeds beyond those of even the most expensive SATA III drives.

The company claiming to have made the fastest Thunderbolt device in the world is Promise. The name of the item is Pegasus J2 and the maximum achievable performance is 750 MB/s (for comparison, SATA 6.0 Gbps SSDs go at 555 MB/s if they try really hard).

Like Harman Kardon's new headphones, the SSD will sell through Apple's store. Unlike them, though, it is not immediately available. Promise vowed to have the item shipping in the third quarter of 2012, which could be as early as next month or as late as September. Whenever it happens, prospective buyers will have to choose between 256 and 512 GB capacities.



Windows Phone 8 to Pack 3D Nokia Maps, Skype Integration




Windows Phone 8, the next-generation mobile OS from Microsoft, is expected to bring along a wide range of enhancements over previous platform releases.

Nothing has been officially announced on the matter, but various rumors on this already surfaced, and new ones caught our attention now. According to WPCentral, Windows Phone 8 will replace Bing Maps with Nokia Maps, and it will also offer 3D navigation capabilities, while taking advantage of hardware acceleration.

Moreover, Microsoft is expected to integrate Skype into the platform, for a better experience than before. It will connect to user’s phone book and such. All in all, Windows Phone 8, codenamed Apollo, is expected to prove a major overhaul, with other new features included into the mix as well. All the necessary info on the platform should become official as soon as next week, at the Windows Phone Summit in San Francisco.


AMD Establishes Embedded Solutions Group




We knew that Advanced Micro Devices had managed to impress the world with its A-Series and E-Series accelerated processing units, but we didn't see as many updates regarding the embedded line.

Our questions as to whether or not AMD is doing well on that front have finally been answered, and the response is quite positive. Basically, the embedded APUs (the G-Series and R-Series, as far as we know), have been received so well that the Sunnyvale, California-based company believes it has a bright future in this segment. In fact, in a recent announcement, AMD said it had created a new business division meant to oversee its activities in that field: Embedded Solutions Group. Arun Iyengar will act as corporate vice president and general manager. He has 20 years of experience and held leadership positions at Altera Corp before joining AMD.

“AMD APUs have been extremely well received by embedded system designers who require more graphic-intensive displays and compute power, while continuing to increase our engagement with ecosystem partners to deliver a complete solution,” said Lisa Su, senior vice president and general manager of AMD global business units. “Arun’s appointment and dedicated focus on expanding our differentiated embedded offerings will help ensure we are seizing the opportunity to expand in this rapidly growing market.” AMD Embedded Solutions will be a separate entity within AMD's global business, which makes AMD Senior Vice President Lisa Su the one Arun will be reporting to.

In addition to embedded APUs, it will develop and offer discrete graphics and AMD Opeteron processors suited for communications, storage and anything else in need of both performance and power efficiency. The embedded microprocessor market will reach $6 billion in 2012 (4.8 billion Euro) and will grow, annually, by 12-15% until 2014. The success of AMD Embedded Solutions Group will be reflected in how large a share of this segment it carves out.


Office 2013 RT Showcased at TechEd North America





Microsoft is still keeping mum on the next major release of its Office productivity suite, but it let slip today at the TechEd North America 2012 conference in Orlando that it would be called Office 2013.

At the end of the keynote, the company briefly demoed Office 2013 for Windows RT devices, confirming previous rumors on its name. The suite of applications is expected to arrive with a series of enhancements to fit the Windows 8 Metro UI, and the screenshot that can be seen attached to this post (courtesy of WithinWindows) confirms that. 

The Redmond-based software giant has been focused on enabling easy navigation on touch devices running Windows RT, along with implementing a full screen view for tablet owners. UI changes should affect the Office Web Apps as well. A beta flavor of Office 2013 is expected to arrive before the end of June.


Micron Technology Reveals 1 GHz 2 Gb and 4 Gb, 30nm DDR3




The other times we wrote about micron DRAM, we usually referred to the likelihood of new chips being employed in better notebook and desktop modules, but the company is aiming for something else this once.

Sure, its new DDR3 devices will be perfectly possible to use in normal DIMMs and SO-DIMMs, but as secondary purpose. The fields that the new DDR3 devices are aimed at are those of high-performance networking and discrete graphics. In other words, the new chips will be used in SoCs (system-on-chip devices) and GPUs. "We continue to build an aggressive portfolio for the performance-focused graphics market," said Matt Skynner, corporate vice president and general manager, AMD Graphics. "With Micron's new DDR3 devices we expect to drive even more performance." Micron's new chips have 2 Gigabit (Gb) and 4 Gigabit (Gb) capacities, as well as a clock speed of 1 GHz.

In addition to AMD, LSI is said to have partnered with Micron for the use of the DRAm in their products. "High-speed DDR3 will be powering the mainstream graphics and high-performance networking markets in 2012 and beyond. Micron is prepared to support these demanding markets by leveraging our expertise with high-volume, cost-efficient DDR3 products and developing these very high-performance DDR3 devices," said Robert Feurle, vice president of DRAM marketing for Micron. "The combination of our advanced process technology and our commitment to the graphics and high-end computing markets has proven highly successful, and these new 30 nm 2 Gb and 4 Gb DDR3 products will continue to deliver on that promise." Besides the applications already specified, Micron will offer the 2,133 MT/s chips to makers of network-specific ECC UDIMMs. Samples are already shipping and mass production should start soon.


Office 15 to Be Office 2013 – Logo and Screenshots Leak




Redmond-based software giant Microsoft is gearing up for the release of a new flavor of its popular Microsoft Office productivity suite, one that has been officially presented so far as Office 15.

The software company has already confirmed the work on this version of the suite, and it even released it in a Technical Preview flavor back in January this year. There are not too many official details available on the suite, but reports on it being optimized for use on touch-enabled devices did emerge. Moreover, the suite was said to arrive with a range of enhancements for individual applications, including Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word. We already had the chance to have a look at some of the changes in these apps, and more of them are now available for your viewing pleasure, courtesy of Chinese website Cnbeta.

They managed to grab some allegedly leaked screenshots of the upcoming software version, which is supposedly called Office 2013. It is expected to sport a new logo, which can be seen to the left. Office 2013 will bring along a variety of UI changes, mostly aimed at enabling easy use on devices running under Windows 8, just as previously expected. Moreover, it appears that Microsoft will apply the same treatment to Office Web Apps, which are part of SkyDrive and Hotmail, at least this is what screenshots that emerged over at LiveSide.net show.

Among the changes that Office Web Apps users will bump into, we can count the presence of the Metro-style UI, with flatter menu buttons and spacing, the same as Office 2013 apps will feature. Moreover, users will be able to view comments in Reading mode or to access options such as increase/decrease font size, justify paragraphs, and adjust paragraph spacing in the Editing mode. There is also a new “Page Layout” menu in the ribbon in Editing mode. Microsoft is expected to make the beta flavor of Office 2013 available for the public sometime in June, yet no official info on when that might happen has been provided so far.



VIA's $49 Android Mini PC Already Sold Out




It's official, we live in a world that goes crazy over miniaturizations of the common machine. There aren't many other ways to explain how mini PCs seem to sell out within hours of being launched.

The trend started with the Raspberry Pi (though some would say it began quite a bit before that) and now continues with the VIA APC 8750. The device, which we covered as soon as it showed up back in May, was up for pre-order for just a short while before demand overwhelmed the company. The first pre-orders will only ship in early July and there is no telling how long it will take VIA to get the APC (Android mini-PC) on the shelves of local retailers. We're not very optimistic, that's for sure.

For those who want a reminder, the APC is a neo-ITX board with an ARM SoC, the Android 2.3 operating system, 4-pin ATX input and an external 2-pin DC input. Being a single-board PC, it fits most ITX and ATX cases.





MacBook Pro Gets New Ivy Bridge Processors, NVIDIA Graphics




Apple’s current generation 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros have been updated with the latest Intel Core processors and powerful discrete graphics from NVIDIA, the company announced yesterday.

The announcement came right before Apple unveiled the all-new MacBook Pro with Retina display. The company apparently isn’t willing to let go of the current MacBook Pros, so it’s beefed them up with the latest Intel CPUs, and new graphics solutions from NVIDIA. According to Apple’s press release issued yesterday, which basically acts as a spec sheet for the newly-announced laptops, “The 13-inch MacBook Pro features the latest Intel Core i5 or Core i7 dual-core processors up to 2.9 GHz with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz.” “The 15-inch MacBook Pro features the latest Intel Core i7 quad-core processors up to 2.7 GHz with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.7 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M discrete graphics,” Apple said.

Both models can be configured with a 1TB hard drive or solid state drives (SSDs) up to 512GB. The advantage of using a solid state drive is faster reading & writing of data, which means faster loading times (including faster load times), and less battery drainage. The new MacBook Pro features a high-speed Thunderbolt port and two USB 3.0 ports, as well as 7 hours of wireless battery life. Apple says its Mac notebook batteries use advanced chemistry and Adaptive Charging technology to provide up to 1,000 recharges. The 13-inch MacBook Pro is available with a 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of memory and 500GB hard drive starting at $1,199 (€959). It goes all the way up to $2,199 (€1,760) for a 2.6 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory, Intel HD Graphics 4000 and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, and a 750GB hard drive.


Strontium Launches SandForce-Based SATA 6 Gbps SSD




Normally, we wouldn't outright advise against buying a product, but in this case we feel that we must, and it has nothing to do with Strontium itself.

Verily, the company didn't really go wrong anywhere when it made the 480 GB Python SSD. The drive is a nice and fast SATA III 2.5-inch, 7mm MLC NAND SSD, with 550 MB/s read speed and a write speed of 520 MB/s. The random write performance of 60,000 IOPS is no slouch either, and neither is the 1.5 million hour MTBF.

The reason we do suggest a delay is the flaw discovered in SandForce SSD controller chips. 256-bit AES encryption doesn't work (it is limited to 128-bit) and LSI hasn't finished that firmware fix yet. Then again, sales haven't started yet, so it's possible that the fix will have already been finished by the time Python shows up in stores. The price is expected to be of $450-500 (360-400 Euro).


Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs Turn Towards the Exit in September




The Sandy Bridge series of central processing units had a good run, but their time is drawing to a close, so there already are details on when the phase-out will begin.

On the IT market, when a product or product line phases out, it gradually disappears from official sales channels. Chips may continue to be available through online auction and retailers for years after the fact but, officially, the products are replaced by their successors, or they just disappear if the consumer base loses interest. Starting September (2012), Intel's Sandy Bridge series of central processing units will embark on their final journey, so to speak. Currently, Ivy Bridge CPUs are still about $100 / 80-100 Euro more expensive than their Sandy Bridge counterparts.

As such, SB-based systems and standalone CPUs are still shipping. There is also the matter of 22nm-based Ivy Bridge not having yet spread to all corners of the world. The initial, high-end units may have been around for a while now, but the dual-core and quad-core versions only just came out. Same goes for the laptop parts and the Ultrabook units. Granted, Intel is shipping third-generation processors to OEMs as we speak, but system sales will only take off after June 24. All in all, by the time September rolls around, Ivy Bridge prices should lower to SB levels and the world will be ready for a new wave of PC replacements. The timing is actually quite well planned, being the back-to-school season when many people go on shopping sprees.

It will be interesting to see how sales of Intel CPUs compare to those of AMD's latest Accelerated Processing Units, although it is unfortunate that a competition of this sort will be limited to notebook front for a while (the desktop Trinity collection was delayed to October, last we heard).


Venus, Mars, Oland: AMD's Radeon 8000 Graphics Series




The folks at 3Dcenter.org may have stumbled upon a vein of gold while snooping through the files that make up the latest beta drivers from Advanced Micro Devices.

AMD may have said that it would stop the monthly updates to its WHQL-certified Catalyst drivers for graphics cards, but that doesn't mean it will completely stop. As such, there will still be occasions when hidden information will be found among the files contained in the installer packages. Case in point, the latest beta drivers make reference to sixteen device IDs, and their codenames, that were not seen anywhere else up to this point. Sure, we knew what some of the future-generation products from the Sunnyvale, California-based company would be called, but we recognize only some of the names in the list below.

Before we say anything more, we may as well provide it in full. The list is as follows.
AMD1305.1 = "KAVERI1 DESKTOP (1305)"
AMD1304.1 = "KAVERI1 MOBILE (1304)"
AMD1307.1 = "KAVERI2 DESKTOP (1307)"
AMD1306.1 = "KAVERI2 MOBILE (1306)"
AMD9833.1 = "KB 12W 2C (9833)"
AMD9834.1 = "2C 5W KB (9834)"
AMD9831.1 = "KB 4C 17W (9831)"
AMD9832.1 = "KB 17W 4C (N-1) (9832)"
AMD9830.1 = "KB 4C 25W (9830)"
AMD6600.1 = "MARS (6600)"
AMD6601.1 = "MARS (6601)"
AMD6602.1 = "MARS (6602)"
AMD6602.1 = "MARS (6603)"
AMD6602.1 = "MARS (6606)"
AMD6602.1 = "MARS (6607)"
AMD6600.1 = "MARS (6620)"
AMD6601.1 = "MARS (6621)"
AMD6602.1 = "MARS (6623)"
AMD6610.1 = "OLAND (6610)"
AMD6611.1 = "OLAND (6611)"
AMD6631.1 = "OLAND (6631)"
AMD682B.1 = "VENUS LE"
AMD6823.4 = "VENUS PRO"
AMD6821.1 = "VENUS XT"
AMD6820.2 = "VENUS XTX"

Kaveri and KB (Kabini no doubt) are the only codenames we have previously encountered, as part of AMD's 2013 APU roadmap (APU stands for Accelerated Processing Unit). KB will succeed Brazos 2.0 and will reduce the power requirements from 17W to 12W (9W in low power mode become 5W). That would imply that the four Venus, the three Oland and the nine Mars codenames would denote the Radeon HD 8000 GPU series.

Mars look like the cores of the low-end segment, while Oland covers the mainstream front, and Venus, with the LE, Pro, XTX and XTX suffixes, quite clearly fits in the high-end layer of the video card market. We'll keep an eye open for performance or availability rumors, even if we don't expect them to surface too fast. On a related note, AMD might want to launch the HD 7990 / 7970 X2 faster or risk it becoming outdated too quickly in the eyes of the people. It wouldn't do to work so many months on it only for the 8000 collection to arrive immediately afterwards. Thanks to Shashwat for sending this in!


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