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Jun 14, 2012

Top500 Supercomputer List Will Be Renewed on Monday, Intel Should Power Many

There are things we can't do more than speculate on, because of the absence of official information or other reasons, but our assumptions regarding the date of June 18 aren't likely to be proven false.

We'll list the facts first. For one, the next Top500 List of Supercomputers will be published on Monday, June 18, 2012, at the 2012 International Supercomputing Conference in Hamburg, Germany. The second fact is that Intel signed a deal with Cray, back in April. For those unaware, Cray is essentially the big cheese in the HPC industry, having built the world's fastest supercomputers for over 50 years. A third fact is that the Santa Clara, California-based CPU maker is expected to have the “Knights Corner” MIC (many integrated cores) architecture out by 2013. And now we get to the part where we make assumptions upon assumptions.

If we were to guess, we'd say that Intel probably won't launch a MIC product on Monday. This year was one of delays and we doubt Knights Corner would become the exception. That is to say, while it won’t be delayed, it isn't likely to come out much earlier than planned either. The deal with Cray is relatively recent as well. The two companies are probably intent on combining Intel MIC with Cray's Aries interconnect, which transfers data over PCI Express. Still, they couldn't have done all that much just in two months. Granted, even if the parallel architecture isn't ready yet, Intel should still power many of the systems on that list. Its Xeon line of CPUs guarantees that much.

Nevertheless, if there is a real milestone to look forward to, we suspect it will emerge when the next Top500 list appears. Top500 is updated twice a year, so if Intel and Cray work particularly fast, they might blow the world away later this year.

See If iOS 6 Works with Your Device

Apple posted a device compatibility chart for iOS 6, unlike previous times when the Cupertino giant kept us in the dark for months regarding supported models for upcoming iOS releases that had been demoed.

Apple is not supporting all iDevices in iOS 6. The company has included compatibility for more devices than we had anticipated, but it also excluded one that we didn’t expect. Compatibility starts with the iPhone 3GS, the oldest iDevice still sold by Apple through its online store and partners. Next in line is the iPhone 4, which Apple shipped in 2010, and the iPhone 4S, which debuted last year. As far as the iPod touch goes, only the fourth-generation model is supported. And on the tablet front, the iPad 2 and the new third-generation iPad are the only ones to support the software. The original iPad is not compatible with iOS 6. And there’s a good reason for that, too. The fine print on Apple’s iOS 6 marketing pages state that some hardware simply can’t cope with the advanced features in the new operating system.

For example, Flyover and turn-by-turn navigation will be available only on iPhone 4S, iPad 2, and the new iPad, while Siri will be available only on the iPhone 4S and the third-gen iPad. Shared Photo Streams will be an iOS 6-exclusive feature on the iPhone 4 or later and iPad 2 or later. Macintosh computers with OS X Mountain Lion will be supported too. Users will need an “up-to-date browser” for accessing shared photo streams on the web, Apple says. FaceTime will finally work over a cellular connection in iOS 6, Apple has confirmed. However, it won’t be available on the iPhone 3GS or the iPad 2. It requires iPhone 4S or iPad (3rd generation) with cellular data capabilities.

VIP list and VIP and Flagged smart mailboxes will be available only on iPhone 4 or later and iPad 2 or later. The same goes for Offline Reading List. Finally, Made-for-iPhone hearing aids will require iPhone 4S. As you can see for yourselves, the iPhone 3GS is being kept on board for the sake of the customers.

Nokia Mail for Exchange Client for Asha 302 / 303 Updated

On Wednesday, Nokia announced a series of enhancements brought to the Nokia Mail for Exchange client for its Asha 302 and Asha 303 handsets.

The software was released in a beta flavor and is available for all devices powered by firmware 14.53 or above (which is not yet available for Nokia users in all countries). “Although the roll-out has started, it hasn’t become available in all regions yet. However, this will continue to improve in the coming weeks,” Nokia announced. The new Nokia Mail for Exchange version has been released to bring along a wide range of enhancements to users. Although in beta now, the app should make it to the Nokia Store soon. Owners of any of the aforementioned handsets will enjoy a new user interface in the new flavor of the mobile client, while also benefiting from increased UI performance and responsiveness.

The new update also arrives with support for 21 languages and comes with a variety of improvements and bug fixes, Nokia announced. Other enhancements in the new app flavor include:
  • Calendar support for daylight savings is complete and functional
  • Ability to attach and download files to the device file system “Received Files”
  • Memory leaks are fixed and hence now the application will not get stuck anymore and continue to sync according to the set sync options.
  • An improved rendering capability for extended text format.
  • The application is compatible with Microsoft Office 365 Mobility Service (i.e only synchronization of email, contacts and calendar and support for remote contacts lookup)
Suresh Chande, senior product manager, notes that users who will download and install the new beta version of the mobile client should provide feedback on their experience with the application, so that more improvements could be added into the mix. You can find the application in the Nokia Beta Labs. More info on what it has to offer can be found in the video embedded below.

Zotac GTX 670 TwinCooler Graphics Card Appears

NVIDIA's Geforce GTX 670 graphics adapter does not truly qualify as a short-length video board, but Zotac has taken the matter into its own hands, making a version that fits in micro-ATX cases just fine.

One trait of the GeForce GTX 670 video board, a trait not immediately distinguishable in the product photos, is that the board is short. Unfortunately, this advantage is nullified by the length of the cooler (NVIDIA's lateral-flow cooling assembly reaches well beyond the PCB). Zotac has decided to release a GTX 670 that doesn't have that problem. The result of its meddling is the ZTGTX670-2GD5TCR001/ZT-60305-10P. That's the model number. The actual name of the computer add-in board is Geforce GTX 670 TwinCooler.

TwinCooler stands for the two orange fans keeping the product at decent operating temperatures. They have 80mm diameters. The cooling shroud makes the whole thing a tiny bit thicker than a two-slot adapter, but the third PCI Express slot shouldn't be outright obstructed. At any rate, more convenient cooling is not the only asset that Zotac's TwinColer GTX 670 can brag about. The item also has a higher performance than the default. For those who don't know, NVIDIA's invention has a base GPU speed of 815 MHz and a GPU Boost performance of 980 MHz. Meanwhile, the 2 GB of GDDR5 VRAM work at 6,008 MHz.

Zotac's TwinCooler pushes the GPU to 954 MHz (1,033 MHz GPU Boost) and the memory at 6,208 MHz. The power required is supplied via the PCI Express 3.0/2.0 slot and two 6-pin connectors. Finally, there will be two dual-link DVI, one DisplayPort and one HDMI output on the I/O panel of the hardware product when it finally starts selling, on June 20. We can definitely see small PCs cramming this on the inside. A video board like this is just right for bridging the gap between HTPC and small gaming machines.

Western Digital Enters Wireless Router Business

For the longest time, Western Digital has been a worldwide provider of hard disk drives, but the company is expanding its horizons in a direction that is, perhaps, not as easy to guess as others would be.

Western Digital has made its first announcement on the wireless home networking market. In other words, it has launched a set of wireless routers. WD has dabbled in wireless communications before. After all, it is the developer of the WD TV media player family. This is the first real raid on the wireless home networking segment though, and the corporation made sure it was a bold one. We are looking at four routers and a Gigabit Ethernet home entertainment switch, all bearing the My Net brand name.

My Net N600 would be the low-end device, but it is still a dual-band router with a combined data rate of up to 600 Mbps (300 over 2.4 GHz and 300 over 5 GHz). FasTrack technology ensures that media runs smoothly (prioritizes HD and 3D media streaming and online gaming). My Net N750 is second, also a dual-band router with FasTrack. It has 750 Mbps speed (300 + 450 Mbps), 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports and 2 USB connectors. Third in line is the My Net N900. This one achieves 900 Mbps (450 + 450) and has seven LAN ports, one WLAN Gigabit Ethernet port and 2 USB connectors. It is UPnP and DLNA certified.

Finally, the My Net N900 Central stands apart from the others through the 1 TB or 2 TB of integrated HDD storage, for automated wireless backup. Four LAN ports exist, along with a Gigabit connector, one USB port and range amplifier antennas. “With so many people within the home simultaneously watching movies, playing games and browsing the Web via their iPad, iPhone, Xbox and other devices, the network demands placed on today’s connected home has grown exponentially,” states Jim Welsh, executive vice president for WD's branded products and consumer electronics groups. In addition to the routers, Western Digital has introduced the My Net Switch, with 8 Gigabit Ethernet ports (10/100/1000 Mbps). The prices are of $80 - $180 / 63 – 143 Euro ($70 / 55 Euro for the switch).

Linus Torvalds Talks About Raspberry PI

Linus Torvalds has spoken recently about the Raspberry Mini-pc, and he believes it's a great platform to get people interested in computers.

In an interview for electronicsweekly.com, Linus Torvalds, had quite a few kind words about the Raspberry PI, and explained that a platform needed to run Windows would be a lot more expensive. “What's interesting about Raspberry Pi is that it's so cheap almost anybody can buy it as a throwaway - throwaway in the very good sense that it could get people involved in computers who otherwise wouldn't be." "It can get people into the mindset of using a computer to do everyday jobs that even five years ago it would have been ridiculous”, said Linux Tovalds. 

Raspberry Pi relies on an ARM processor with a clock speed of 700 MHz, 256 MB of RAM, an SD card slot and a 5V Micro USB connector that supplies the power. It also features RCA and HDMI ports.

Acer's Thinnest Ultrabook Priced, Specs Include Thunderbolt

Acer revealed the Aspire S5 ultrabook at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2012), way back in January.

It is Acer's thinnest ultrabook and also the first of its kind to possess a Thunderbolt connector. The 2310 mAh battery will be able to keep a Core i7 CPU, a 13.3-inch CineCrystal LED-backlit HD screen (1,366 x 768 pixels), a 256 GB SSD, 4 GB of DDR3 and a bunch of I/O running for up to 6.5 hours. Speaking of I/O, buyers will find Bluetooth 4.0, a 1.2 megapixel HD camera (1,280 x 720 pixels), a 2-in-1 card reader and Dolby Home Theater v4 Audio (2 built-in Acer 3DSonic stereo speakers).

All the hardware is crammed inside a 2.56-pound (1.16 kg), 0.59-inch-thick (14.98 mm) frame. Windows 7 Home Premium is the OS. Slashgear says shipments will begin in the last week of this month (June, 2012), for a scary $1,399.99 / 1,115.44 Euro.

iOS 6 Jailbreak Released for Developers

iPhone Dev Team leader MuscleNerd has announced a tethered-only developer-restricted iOS 6 jailbreak for testing purposes. He confirms that no new exploits are being exposed with this release, and that those who don’t know the nuts and bolts of SSH and afc2 should simply ignore this announcement.

As usual, MuscleNerd starts off with a quick tweet announcing a “redsn0w tethered iOS6 jailbreak for 3GS and A4 devices.” He directs interested parties to the Dev Team blog, where he explains that, “Just like at the wind-down of last year’s WWDC, we’re releasing a developer-only version of a redsn0w tethered jailbreak for app developers.” Supported device models include iPod touch 4G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 (GSM), and iPhone 4 (CDMA). The hacker warns that unlockers should stay away from this release, as they’ll “very likely” lose their unlockable baseband. He outlines that this beta is aimed at developers of jailbroken apps, adding that “there are just too many broken components (Apple’s official apps, 3rd-party App Store apps, Cydia apps, etc) for this to be useful to anyone but those truly looking to fix bugs in their iOS 6 jailbroken apps.”

Testers will not be able to use Cydia in this release, “ because it just hasn’t had time to be updated to the new SDK.” MuscleNerd outlines that “the only access you’ll get to the device is through SSH or afc2. If you don’t know what either of those are, you shouldn’t be using this developer version of redsn0w!” he says. This redsn0w beta doesn’t hacktivate devices (something developers should know about). Most importantly, the jailbreak is tethered. Once again, MuscleNerd does his best to explain: 
“No new exploits are being exposed with this jailbreak (it uses geohot’s limera1n bootrom exploit), but that comes at a cost. You will need to use redsn0w’s ‘Just boot’ button to be able to use many things, including Safari. If you see Safari or iBooks crash when you open them, it’s because you didn’t boot tethered.”

Finally, testers are told to point redsn0w at their IPSW the first time they “Jailbreak” and “Just boot” tethered. The download links are available over at iphone-dev’s blog.

Retina MacBook Pro Actually Cheaper than High-End Regular Model

A price comparison between the old-model MacBook Pro and the new MacBook Pro with Retina display reveals that it is actually more profitable to buy the brand new model with SSD storage, crisp visuals, a thinner silhouette and non-upgradable RAM.

The all-new MacBook Pro is a killer, no doubt about it. At $2,199, it’s also going to dry you up faster than a professional pickpocket. Whether or not Apple is intentionally trying to entice high-end users to go with the newer model (and who would blame them), the same CPU-RAM-storage configuration will actually cost you more if you go for the older design with a bulky chassis and a low-res display.

The old MacBook Pro does come with the added advantage of reading compact discs, a technology that Apple is actively trying to ditch across its entire lineup. It’s also equipped with an Ethernet port, something which the new Pro doesn’t offer.

Windows 8’s No-Aero Desktop Interface Leaks

One of the major changes that Microsoft announced for Windows 8’s interface was the lack of the Aero Glass that users were already accustomed to in Windows 7 or Windows Vista.

The Redmond-based software giant said that this change is bound to result in a nicer, cleaner look of the desktop in Windows 8, and that it would affect checkboxes, buttons, sliders and other elements as well. The Release Preview flavor of Windows 8 was released two weeks ago without these changes inside, but the company did say that future versions of the platform would sport them. Today, however, a series of leaked screenshots that emerged over at Winunleaked are meant to offer us a look at what these changes would involve. Moving forth with the platform’s development, the UI of the Windows 8 desktop will be flattened, while the transparency that was present in Windows 7 will not be there for all users to enjoy. According to Microsoft, the appearance of windows will be crisper as a result of removing unnecessary shadows and transparency. Moreover, glows and gradients were removed from buttons within the chrome.

Of course, the overall feel of the UI will remain mostly unchanged from Windows 7, since Microsoft is looking into offering continuity with the platform. However, the Redmond-based software giant is bringing to Windows 8’s desktop the look of the Metro interface that took over the platform, something that was officially announced several weeks ago. Users will be able to customize the desktop color, and they will even receive access to the color mixer in the Color and Appearance settings, but they won’t be able to bring the Aero Glass back.

Since the screenshots were taken with a pre-RTM version of the platform, we should expect Microsoft to perform even more changes to the Windows 8 UI before the OS is released to manufacturing, something that should happen at the end of July, so stay tuned to learn more on the matter. In the meantime, however, you can try out the Windows 8 Release Preview build 8400 to learn more on the novelties that Microsoft packed the platform with when compared to Windows 7.

Intel Itanium CPUs Spotted, Possibly Poulson

The Itanium series of server processors from Intel has been at the core of the HP-Oracle hostilities, but that's not what we are going to talk about here.

For once, the situation doesn't revolve around Oracle's decision to stop supporting Itanium chips, and HP's outrage over it. Instead, we are here to offer some details on a number of processors that hadn't been part of the series up to now. Then again, the four chips are still not part of the series. They haven't even been announced actually. They only surfaced in this PDF PCN file (product change notification). One of them, called 9520 (part number CM8063101049806), has a clock speed of 1.73 GHz and is the weakest. One step above is 9540 (CM8063101049718), at 2.13 GHz. The third chip, called 9550 (number CM8063101049807), is a 2.4 GHz part. Finally, the 9560 (CM8063101049716) works at 2.53 GHz.

Truth be told, the file doesn't actually specify whether or not these are Itanium CPUs, but the 9xxx numbers have, historically, been used for this architecture. Unfortunately, we don't know the other specifications of the CPUs, beyond what was supplied last year anyhow (8 cores, 32 MB cache, Hyper Threading and Instruction Replay Technology). On a related note, nothing says these are Poulson chips, but the "80631" product numbers haven't been used before, which is a good enough hint for now. If anything, this development proves that Intel really hasn't decided to discontinue the Itanium platform, throwing at least one of Oracle's claims into doubt.

Oracle said Intel and HP were planning on ceasing development without warning customers first, but the last two quickly promised to keep at it for about ten more years at least. HP's subsequent lawsuit against Oracle is still going strong and there is no end in sight, despite HP's wishes.

Allegedly Leaked Shots of Nokia Vertu Windows Phone 8 Emerge

Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia has been long rumored to plan the release of Windows Phone 8 devices, yet no specific info on what these handsets will be all about has emerged so far.

Today, however, images with an alleged such mobile phone from Nokia made it to the web, showing us a bit more of what to expect from the company in the not too distant future. Interestingly enough, the handset is said to be an early prototype of a Vertu handset from Nokia, which would make it a luxury phone. Said images emerged over on Chinese Windows Phone forum WpXAP.com, confirming that Windows Phone 8 was loaded on this handset. Moreover, the Vertu-branded smartphone from Nokia appears to pack 64GB of internal memory, which would suggest that other handsets from the Finnish vendor could also receive it.

The Vertu industrial design can be seen on this device, along with some features that will most probably make it to all Windows Phone 8 smartphones, such as a Cloud Storage setting page, in addition to the already available Find My Phone page. According to the person who provided these images, Nokia is set to upgrade existing Lumia handsets to the upcoming Windows Phone 8 platform, but with some features missing from the package. No additional info was provided on the matter. While the availability of Windows Phone 8 smartphones from Nokia would not take us by surprise, the fact that the company was also working on Vertu-branded devices powered by this OS would seem rather strange.

After all, the mobile phone maker has been long rumored to plan selling the luxury brand, and it has just announced that it had agreed to that. Given the fact that no official announcement on any future devices was made so far, we’ll take the leaked info with a grain of salt for the time being.

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