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Jul 22, 2012

Gigabyte AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition Graphics Card

Taiwanese company Gigabyte has decided to jump on AMD’s Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition wagon and has just launched a new video card using the new BIOS and the well-known and powerful WindForce 3x cooling system.

The new addition to Gigabyte’s AMD Radeon video card product line is GV-R797TO-3GD. The card features the same AMD “Tahiti” GPU that contains 4.3 billion transistors. AMD’s Tahiti has proven to be a very capable and overclockable chip and it’s no wonder that the company decided to simply clock it at 1000 MHz and paper launch a new product.

Now the paper launch is becoming a reality and Gigabyte’s new card features a 1 GHz GPU and GDDR5 memory clocked at 6000 MHz working on a 384-bit bus. The WindForce3X cooling system features three 80 millimeters fans, but we’re still waiting for the WindForce5X monster that we’ve presented here.

Gigabyte AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition GV-R797TO-3GD Video Card
Images credits to Gigabyte

SilverStone HE01 300W Tower Super Cooler

Taiwanese company SilverStone, well-known for its high quality cases and power supply units has also been known for its powerful computer cooling solutions. SilverStone has just launched a new super cooler able to dispose of 300 watts of heat.

The new addition is a processor cooler in the popular tower configuration. The company is touting the ability of cooling any processor with a TDP of up to 300W. This is an extraordinary claim from SilverStone, but it seems quite achievable as the huge 1100 grams (2.42 pounds) heatsink is cooled by a very capable 140 mm fan. The fan used by SilverStone for their HE01 super cooler is not like your average 140mm fan. Usually, such fans have a height of 25 millimeters, but SilverStone’s HE01 cooler uses a bigger fan that has a height of 38 millimeters. The six heroes of the HE01 cooling solution are the 6 mm heatpipes. We have no idea why SilverStone didn’t use 8 millimeters as larger heatpipes offer much better cooling performance.

The HE01 has nickel plating for its heatpipes and the cooler base. The cooler has an atypical placement of the cooling fins. One half of the cooler has fins with a larger surface area and the other half has fins with a smaller heat dissipating area, but both sides will have the same number of heatpipes passing trough. The fan speed can vary anywhere in the 500 to 2000 RPM range with the corresponding noise level situated between 18 and 41 decibels. SilverStone’s HE01 super tower cooler is compatible with Intel Socket LGA775, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011 mainboards and AMD Socket AM2, AM3, FM1, FM2 motherboards. There is no price info available yet.

SilverStone HE01 300W Tower Super Cooler
Images credits to SilverStone

Firefox OS Three Main Components: Gonk, Gecko and Gaia

Firefox OS may be a big thing. It has a chance of becoming the third big mobile player. It's biggest asset is its complete reliance on web technologies. All of the built-in apps are HTML5 apps and so will be the third-party ones.

Here's how it works. Firefox OS is made up of three big parts. At the very bottom is the part that handles the hardware, codenamed Gonk.
Gonk is made up of a Linux kernel, based on the modified version supplied with the Android Open Source Project. On top of that, it's running a custom-built HAL (hardware abstraction layer) and several other low-level components. Most if not all of these are based on existing and tried open-source libraries and tools. 
Gecko is the application platform layer. It sits on top of Gonk and is responsible for making the user facing apps "work." Gecko, as the name implies, is based on Firefox's HTML engine. Along with the standard desktop Firefox stuff, Mozilla will be building the Web API, a set of tools to enable web applications to handle things like video cameras, mics, phone sensors, the battery, the GPS, the dialer and so on and so forth.
Gaia is the final layer, it's what the user sees. It's a set of HTML5 apps that handle the UI. All of the built-in apps are part of Gaia. This means the desktop and app launcher, the locker screen, the dialer, the clock apps, etc.

The third-party apps will run alongside Gaia and will be using the same technologies and standard APIs. This is a simple overview of how Firefox OS is built. A much deeper explanation is provided by Mozilla in the B2G, Firefox OS' project name, wiki. You'll notice it's very similar to Chrome OS, but it goes a step further in that it's even more barebones. Chrome OS actually runs Chrome on top of the Linux kernel and a minimal set of libraries. What this means is that there is a browser UI and a desktop UI and all of these are purpose-built.

Firefox OS uses HTML5 and CSS3 for the UI, it's not Firefox running on top of a kernel, it's Firefox's core running on top of the kernel. In fact, there is a Firefox app inside Firefox OS, but it's treated just like any other app.

The Firefox OS Gaia UI in its current form
Image credits to Mozilla

Galaxy Pre-Overclocked GeForce GF 640 2GB Video Card

Well-known video card manufacturer Galaxy has decided to double the video memory on its Nvidia GeForce GT 640 video cards and now is offering both, a 1 GB model and a 2GB model of its factory overclocked GC series video cards.

The initial GC series GeForce GF 640 graphic adapter from galaxy featured a slightly overclocked GPU, but strangely it had the memory settings a bit under the reference default of 900 MHz. The 1 GB Galaxy GeForce GT 640 video card was working at 950 MHz / 891 MHz GPU/MEM frequency settings and the manufacturer is touting the same frequencies for the new model featuring double the memory.

The card is powered by a GK107 GPU that features 1.3 billion transistors and has a modest 65 watts TDP and thus the device features no extra power connector. The slated price is around the $100 mark and that’s about 83 EUR for the European buyers.

Galaxy Nvidia GeForce GT 640 GC 2 GB DDR3
Images credits to galaxy

Synology DiskStation and RackStation with WD Red HDDs

Not long ago, Western Digital launched the first line of hard drives specifically made for home and small office network-attached storage devices.

Called WD Red NAS 3.5-inch HDDs, they have now been adopted by Synology. The latter has added the WD30EFRX (3 TB), WD20EFRX (2 TB), and WD10EFRX (1 TB) as options to its DiskStation RackStation lineups. Synology tested the HDDs for stress endurance and compatibility. In the end, it pronounced them compliant with members of the x12, x11, x10, x09, and x08 series.

More info on the HDDs is found at the link we posted above. Meanwhile, those interested in the NAS themselves can go here (a recent DiskStation), here (RackStation) or on the company's websiteDon't be misled though: for an HDD to work as part of a NAS, all it takes is for the size and interface (SATA) to fit. Nevertheless, these certifications help when trying to get the best (and inter-compatible) units, so lists like this one can still help very much, especially when the long-term benefits are being considered.

Synology DiskStation DS411
Image credits to Synology

Firefox OS Now Available for Testing on Desktops

For the past year or so, Mozilla has been working on its own mobile operating system, which went official several weeks ago as the Firefox OS, and which is now available for testing purposes on desktop PCs.

Fully-based on web technologies, the new platform is expected to open the doors to cheaper smartphones being launched on the market, starting with the next year. The platform comes with support for all usual features on smartphones today, including dialing, messaging, internet browsing, web gaming, photo taking, video watching, music listening and the like. The team behind Firefox OS, previously known as Boot2Gecko, has just announced a series of advancements in their pursue towards making the platform available commercially. “The phone we’re working on will consist of 3 basic software layers: Gonk (kernal, HAL, and low-level components), Gecko (rendering engine, web APIs), and Gaia (HTML5 User interface layer),” a recent post from dknite reads. “Our test approach is to create mochitests against the DOM and API layer, and run regression tests against a Jenkins CI system.”

The UI will see a more traditional acceptance approach, the blog post continues, explaining that testcases will be executed against Apps in an end-to-end scenario. The goal is to come up with webapps that can take advantage of B2G APIs. Since testing is needed, the team managed to come up with Daily desktop builds of the new platform, currently available for download for all people to get for a spin. Nightly builds are available from Mozilla’s own servers for interested parties, on Windows, Mac and Linux machines. “Refer to Gaia/Hacking for setup instructions. If you’re a web developer, you can use these builds to create and test your webApp against,” said blog post reads.

“If you’re looking to help do some testing, these desktop builds will also give you an immediate opportunity to play with and help us write testplans and file bugs. We encourage anyone interested to give the desktop builds a spin (available on Mac, Windows, and Linux), and get involved with the project!”  Those who would like to access more info on how they can get involved in the Development and Testing of the new platform should head over to this page on Mozilla’s Wiki.

Firefox OS (Boot2Gecko)
Image credits to Mozilla

Samsung GT-S3752 with Dual-SIM and QWERTY Keyboard Leaks

Although Samsung is currently focused on Android smartphone market, the company also plans to release several feature-phones in the following months.

Samsung GT-S3752 is a simple mobile phone that features a QWERTY keyboard with dedicated ChatON button. The handset sports a small 2.4-inch standard display and a sub-par 2-megapixel rear camera. Surprisingly for a basic feature-phone, Samsung GT-S3752 comes with Wi-Fi support, but also embeds a microSD card slot for memory expansion (up to 16GB).

Last but not least, the phone is powered by a 1,000 mAh Li-Ion battery and features support for IM and social networking services, including MSN, Yahoo, Google Talk, Facebook, Twitter and ChatON. Unfortunately, we don't have any information on the phone's pricing options and availability yet, but more details will surely surface in the following weeks. Stay tuned for more updates on the matter. via SammyHub.

Samsung GT-S3752
Image credits to SammyHub

ECS First to Support AMP (AMD Memory Profile)

We've seen and heard a lot about Intel XMP-certified memory profiles, but there has been a distinct lack of modules and kits certified for AMD's equivalent, AMP.

The AMD Overdrive utility has had a tab dedicated to special configuration of Black Edition Memory Profile-enabled RAM for years. Unfortunately, only now is it about to see any use. ECS (Elitegroup Computer Systems) has become the first company to implement support for it, on the A85F2-A Deluxe motherboard.

The AMD Memory Profile technology allows supporting DDR3 to be reliably enhanced so that they can perform beyond the standard JEDEC (Joint Electron Devices Engineering Council) specification. ECS's press release implies that at least one or several AMP-ready kits will show up in the near future. We'll be sure to bring them to your attention when the time comes.

ECS BIOS with AMP support
Image credits to ECS

ECS becomes first supporter of AMP
Image credits to ECS

AMD Jaguar-Based Kabini and Temash APUs Next Month, Not Next Year

The folks over at Hexus have provided some information that makes us glad to have been wrong about a certain estimate we made last week, regarding AMD's future APU generation.

What we said, based on the murmurs on the web at the time, was that the Jaguar-based Kabini accelerated processing unit (APU) was scheduled for release next summer. The new report moves the launch from summer to the first quarter of 2013 (January-March) and promises that the first introduction to the technology will happen much sooner than even that. Kabini is based on the Jaguar core, and so is Temash. Had they truly been slated for a summer 2013 release, the technology preview probably would not have happened before CeBIT (March) or CES (Consumer Electronics Show, January). Now that availability has been seemingly moved up to Q1, the preview has been moved as well. AMD will release the information on the low-power Jaguar core at the Hot Chips Symposium, next month (August, 2012). That makes August 28 the first day of disclosures. Hexus says AMD's Jeff Rupley will be the speaker.

So far, we know that Kabini and Temash are constructed on the 28nm manufacturing process and will aim for low-power, low-cost netbooks and tablets. Intel's Clover Trail Atoms will be their main rivals, but they use the 32nm technology and, though their processing capabilities are similar, if not maybe higher, their graphics leave much to be desired, as has always been the case. That said, Temash, as an ultra low power chip, will have just 2 cores, while Kabini, though also focused on power efficiency, will have some quad-core iterations as well. Other relevant features include more IPCs (instructions per clock), HSA (heterogeneous system architecture) enhancements and a tighter CPU/GPU merger.

The only unfortunate part about all this is that AMD doesn't have any tablet chip, besides the 40nm Hondo, ready to try and score Windows 8/RT tablet design wins when Microsoft launches the operating system, in the fourth quarter. Thus, even if it impresses manufacturers and consumers, the Sunnyvale, California-based corporation won't be able to make up for losing so many prospective buyers by not being there for the initial rush. Not the best outcome after the poor financial showing.
Note: There seems to be some confusion over the name of the ULP APU. One roadmap slide calls it Temash, while previous ones listed it as Tamesh. It is fortunate that we only have one more month to wait before this confusion is dispelled.

AMD Roadmap slide listing "Tamesh"
Image credits to X-bit labs

AMD Roadmap slide listing "Tamesh"
Image credits to Liliputing

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