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Jun 17, 2012

iPhone 5 Chip Makers Preparing Their Goods for Apple

A report by the hit-and-miss DigiTimes cites industry sources as saying that mobile chip makers are “stocking their solutions” to meed the demands of one technology company headquartered in Cupertino, California which plans to unveil a new smartphone in a few months.

Apple partners Qualcomm, Broadcom, STMicroelectronics, NXP, Texas Instruments (TI), OmniVision, and others have reportedly started to put aside massive amounts of chips (their "solutions”) for the next-generation iPhone scheduled to launch in the second half of this year. The Taiwanese publication goes on to describe each vendor’s activity, such as Qualcomm and Broadcom producing the 4G (LTE) and WiFi radio chips using a 28nm process at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). OmniVision is busy “seeking capacity” at TSMC's 12-inch fab, and “Nvidia also takes up about 10,000 units of 28nm wafer capacity at TSMC, leaving Broadcom, TI, Altera, Xilinx and other chipmakers to share the remaining 28nm wafers,” according to the same sources.

They added that TSMC is likely to encounter hurdles as it ramps up its 28nm process. “Meanwhile, STMicroelectronics is ramping up its output of MEMS devices, while NXP and TI are also building up their inventory of analog ICs for iPhones,” the industry report adds. Needless to point out, TSMC’s ability to produce all these chips in a timely fashion is a key factor that may influence Apple’s planned launch date for the iPhone 5. The device is all but confirmed thanks to several hardware leaks that indicated a longer body with a thinner form factor and a larger screen. Furthermore, the phone is expected to boast a metallic unibody chassis ditching most of the glass found on the current-generation smartphone sold by Apple.

If the leaks are any indication, the overall design will not undergo any major alterations, though its increased size should result in a much-improved experience for end-users.

BlackBerry 10 Hands-On Photos Emerge

Research In Motion has been long touting the features and capabilities of its upcoming BlackBerry 10 smartphones, which are being showcased at its BlackBerry 10 Jam events around the world.

The company brought its new operating system and the dev alpha devices that it was loaded on to its meeting in London this week, where CrackBerry's James Richardson had the chance to play with such a handset and to take some photos with it. All in all, it seems that the new platform release is capable to impress right from the start. It comes with seamless integration of applications, enhanced support for screen gestures, and more, all capable of offering the user experience that any enthusiasts has been certainly dreaming of. Moreover, RIM also focused on improving the visual appearance on the BlackBerry 10 OS, and to provide users with fast and easy access to more features and applications on the handset.

The on-screen keyboard is said to be working great, with options such as 'flicking' of the predicted words upwards, swiping across the keyboard to delete words, swiping downwards to switch to other screens, such as numbers and symbols, and the like. The new OS will also make it easy for users to switch between applications, as well as to move from an email to a PDF attachment. It will also provide users with a new more visually appealing media player, and with faster access to apps that are important, right from the homescreen. Overall, the OS is said to be in line with what other modern mobile platforms out there have to offer, and to be capable of enabling RIM to regain some of the market share it has been losing lately to rival solutions.

The first devices running under BlackBerry 10 are not expected until the fourth quarter of the year, and RIM might still make changes to the platform in the meantime. However, it appears that they might have finally got the recipe right, and that its fall might come to an end. You can have a look at more photos with the BlackBerry 10 platform in this post on CrackBerry.

Motorola QWERTY Slider for Sprint Spotted in the Wild

Motorola Mobility and Verizon Wireless have a long history of partnerships. The handset maker released most of its Android phones in United States through Verizon.

However, the next new device expected to arrive in the States will be released at Sprint, not Verizon. Although we don't a name to attach to this leaked Android smartphone, we know it's a QWERTY slider. The folks over at AndroidCentral have just published the first picture of an unannounced Motorola QWERTY slider, which is powered by Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system and features on-screen keys.

So far, no details on the phone's specs have been leaked, but from the photo we can safely assume it will go on sale at Sprint, especially given the fact that it comes with Sprint Music app. Stay tuned for more updates on the matter.

Windows 8’s Calendar App Gets Detailed

Windows 8 has been long said to arrive on devices with a great deal of enhancements that make it fit for the title of “mobile platform”, such as the People app that was detailed only a few days ago.

Today, Microsoft offers an overview of another application that is meant to offer a great experience on Windows 8, namely the Calendar app. According to Microsoft, one of the main focuses during the development period of this application was the idea of making things simpler for users. Colin Anthony, a lead program manager on the Windows Live team, notes in a recent blog post that the Calendar app in Windows 8 is capable of providing the clarity that users are looking for, while also eliminating distractions. The app will focus on user’s schedule, while also bringing things together so that users could get a complete picture of their every day’s lives.

But this is only one aspect that Windows 8’s Calendar app is meant to touch. In fact, there are several such areas that Microsoft took into consideration when designing the software, including: 
Show your life clearly. You should have crystal clear visibility into what’s happening in your life – at home, at work, and at school.
Make it easy to get around. Moving back and forth in time should be quick and efficient. Opening events and appointments should feel natural.
Make it easy to add new items. New things are always coming up in your life. A great calendar makes it easy to make new plans.
Keep you on time. Well laid plans aren’t very useful if you show up late! Smile
Be ready to do more. As you get busier, scheduling gets more complicated. Calendar should gracefully handle your needs as they change.

Through the Calendar application in Windows 8, users will find it easy to move forth and backward in time, will be able to switch views faster and easier than before, while also finding it simple to open and view existing events. Adding new events was also made a simple task, while notifications and reminders were set to inform users on what they have to do so that they could do it on time. And since it is a Metro-style app, the Calendar can also be snapped for always-on visibility. In addition to day view, the Calendar also comes with month and week views, while also enabling users to enjoy a Two-day view, so that they could plan immediate events faster and easier than before. The Calendar application is available in Windows 8 Release Preview as well.

Intel Pentium B987 Will Arrive in Q3, 2012

Intel's Core series of central processing units is getting all of the attention, but there are other chips in the works, one of which will arrive in the third quarter of the year (2012).

In other words, we may see a new CPU within a couple of weeks (July), unless the Santa Clara, California-based chip giant chooses a later date. Anyway, the chip, as reported by CPU World, is a Pentium device with full name Pentium 987. As a dual-core, it possesses 2 MB of L3 cache memory, HD graphics and a frequency of 1.5 GHz. Also, the memory controller handles DDR3-1333 RAM.

The integrated GPU will work at 350 MHz, but could jump all the way to 1 GHz if required. All these features, along with AES encryption, Hyper-Threading and VT-x virtualization, function on just 17W of energy (Pentium 987 is a mobile CPU). No price is known yet.

Samsung Series 5 Laptops Equipped with AMD Trinity

If you were to stop by Samsung's official website, you might discover that the Series 5 laptop line has been updated overnight.

The ultrabooks, measuring 14 inches or 13.3 inches, are now equipped with AMD's Trinity accelerated processing unit. To be more specific, the 14-inch Series 5, priced at $850 (672 Euro), relies on the quad-core A10-4655M. Meanwhile, the 13.3-inch machine, at $700 (553 Euro), is equipped with the A6-4455M (also a quad-core). Both APUs have the integrated Radeon HD 7500G GPU.

Go here for the smaller laptops and here for the larger of the two. In either case, you'll get a nice amount of RAM (4 GB standard), an HDD (500 or 750 GB) and all the necessary connectivity and I/O.

Toshiba Creates 64-Core Processor for Image Processing and Recognition

Toshiba's fastest multi-core system-on-chip device, originally launched in 2008, has been clearly bested by the new SoC, one with eight times the number of cores and 14 times the performance.

The company has introduced a System-on-Chip device with no less than 64 cores, divided into two 32-core clusters. Measuring 209.3 square millimeters, the many-core SoC has 2 MB level-two cache memory for each cluster, shared among the processor cores through a tree-based network-on-chip. The product also integrates a dual-channel DDR3 memory controller. Toshiba's press release says that “the new many-core SoC secures 1.5 tera operations per second at 333MHz, a processing rate 14 times faster than that of its eight-processor multi-core predecessor.” The claim becomes doubly intriguing when the power consumption benefits are factored in. If what Toshiba says is true, then the newcomer is 50% more power-efficient than the 8-core predecessor, and only part of this is owed to the 40nm manufacturing process.

The rest stems from multi-level power gating, clock gating and Toshiba's proprietary low power data-mapping flip-flop circuit. Not only that, but the corporation even pairs the SoC with parallelized firmware for multimedia applications. MPEG4-AVC/H.264 1080p 30fps decoding should make do with under 500mW of power, while super resolution 4K2K 15fps image processing can run at under 800mW. Toshiba expects the newcomer to be used in automotive and digital consumer products, particularly when high-speed over-HD (high definition) resolution image processing and recognition have to be performed.

“Recent advances in multimedia processing, including video encoding and decoding and image recognition, have relied on multi-core processors that combine high performance with low power consumption,” Toshiba said. “Many-core processors go a step further; by increasing the number of cores they boost SoC performance to much higher levels. However, the power consumption and size of many-core SoC have been problems for their use in embedded applications. Toshiba's many-core SoC secures significant advances in performance while maintaining low power consumption and a cluster size of 84 mm2 , suitable for embedded applications.”

Specs Discovered for Dell Latitude Windows 8 Tablet

A little over a week ago, we reported on how twenty of the unspecified number of upcoming Windows 8 tablets would use Intel's Clovertrail processor. As it turns out, Dell's latitude 10 is one of them.

Windows 8 will be launched in the fourth quarter of this year (2012), probably in November, unless Microsoft works fast and brings it out in October. Once the software is out, in its base and Windows RT version, PC, phone and tablet makers will be able to start releasing their items too. For those still unaware, Windows RT is the name Microsoft has chosen for the iteration of Windows 8 aimed at ARM platforms. Needless to say, Dell's business-centric Latitude 10 will not possess that OS, since it won't use an ARM CPU. Instead, it will get a dual-core x86-based processor operating at 1.5 GHz. 2 GB of RAM (random access memory) will support said CPU, while data will be stored on a solid-state drive (SSD) of up to 128 GB capacity.

This much was revealed by the folks at NeoWin, who got their hands on the product brief. Speaking of which, they also confirmed a couple of other highlights. One is the optional Wacom stylus, while the other is the 10.1-inch display itself. With a resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels (HD), the LCD is covered by a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass, rendering it very hard to scratch, break or otherwise damage. Finally, the hardware and software run on the energy provided by a 2-cell (10.5 mm / 0.41 inches tablet thickness) or 4-cell battery (13.4 mm / 0.53 inches). Unfortunately, the time it takes for a single charge was not specified, but the document does mention a wireless charging dock with four USB ports (2.0 instead of 3.0, for some reason), HDMI and Ethernet. Hopefully, business users won't run out of juice every 2 or 3 hours.

Nokia Teases June 18th Event, Could Be 808 PureView-Related

Nokia is getting ready to announce something on Monday, June 18th, and the company is already teasing us with that.

On its Facebook page, the company has uploaded two photos with reference to an event set to take place on that day, without offering specific details on what it will be all about. However, since one of these images appears to be showing a Roland TR-808 drum machine, rumor has it that the event could be related to Nokia 808 PureView’s arrival in the United States.

Nokia has already confirmed plans to make the smartphone available in the country, but hasn’t detailed a specific launch date as of yet. According to AllThingsD, insiders have already confirmed that the company is indeed getting ready to push the high-quality imaging device to the United States, and that the Monday event is related to it.

ASUS ThunderboltEX Add-In Card Examined

Certain ASUS Z77/H77 or upcoming AM3+ motherboards will have TB_HEADER pinout, which means they will be able to interface with the company's ThunderboltEX card.

We spotted the item around a week ago, but now it has been put through its paces. VR-Zone has tested it with the Rampage V GENE and has found that a new menu appears in the motherboard's UEFI BIOS when the ThunderboltEX is installed. Owners can adjust memory space reservation options and, thus, resolve detection issues that can appear when multiple devices are daisy-chained.

Theoretically, a good BIOS should pre-allocate required resources at boot stage and, thus, allow Windows 7 to correctly recognize hot-plugged devices. If this does not happen, a “yellow bang” error code 12 (lack of resources) shows up in Device Manager until the PC is rebooted.

HP's Popular Pavilion dv6 Laptop Gets AMD Trinity

HP upgraded its Pavilion dv6 mobile workstation back in April, but that particular laptop has once again gone through a hardware revision.

In this instance, a new chip has joined the list of available processors: the AMD A8-4500M accelerated processing unit. That's right, HP's popular mobile workstation can now be configured with a Trinity APU, and the move even brings the price down by $100 (80 Euro).

Said processor boasts the Radeon HD 7640G integrated graphics and is backed up by 6 GB of RAM (random access memory). The laptop also gets a hard disk drive of 750 GB. For those who forgot what the Intel-powered Pavilion dv6 sells for, the tag is $800 / 635 Euro. That means this APU version is available at $700 / 555 Euro (according to exchange rates anyhow).

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