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Aug 7, 2012

Colorful iGame GeForce GTX 660 Ti

Chinese video card manufacturer Colorful has surprised the video card enthusiasts lately. The company has been introducing impressive products with innovative designs and powerful, original cooling systems.

We’ve already presented the Colorful Shark Bionic cooling system and the card pictured today uses the same cooling solution. Although we don’t know the official name of the new card, the GPU on it is clearly Nvidia’s GK104 and the memory setup tells us we’re dealing with a GeForce GTX 660 Ti. Even without knowing the official name, most enthusiasts can definitely say that this is going to be part of Colorful’s iGame series.

The PCB shows that we’re dealing with a 4 + 2 phase power line and that most of the PCB components are similar, if not the same, with the ones used on the GTX 670 cards. The card will probably be ready for launch on the 16th of August, 2012.

Colorful iGame GeForce GTX 660 Ti
Image credits to VideoCardz

Colorful iGame GeForce GTX 660 Ti
Image credits to ChinaDIY
Colorful iGame GeForce GTX 660 Ti
Image credits to ChinaDIY

Colorful iGame GeForce GTX 660 Ti
Image credits to ChinaDIY

Colorful iGame GeForce GTX 660 Ti
Image credits to ChinaDIY

Colorful iGame GeForce GTX 660 Ti
Image credits to VideoCardz

Corsair Ultra-Fast CMFSL3 USB Stick

USB flash drives that are really capable to take full advantage of USB 3.0 wide bandwidth are still quite rare these days and USB 2.0 thumb drives are still being launched by various manufacturers. Lucky for us, Corsair is concentrating on performance and quality and thus the company is getting ready to launch yet another impressive USB 3.0 flash drive.

The new drive is officially called Corsair Flash Voyager Slider CMFSL3 and it comes in 64GB, 32GB, 16GB, and 8GB capacities. The design can easily be called cool and also has a clear and useful functionality as it is a cap-less design that will allow the user to forget about worrying that he might lose the cap. Corsair Flash Voyager Slider CMFSL3 touts impressive read speeds of 85 MB/s for the 64GB model, 80 MB/s for the 32GB version and 70 MB/s for the 16GB and 8GB models. When writing, the 64GB drive can reach an impressive 70 MB/s, PC Watch reports. The 32GB model will write data at a maximum of 40 MB/s and the 16GB and 8GB versions will write at a maximum of 20 MB/s.

We don’t understand why some manufacturers still launch slow and “ancient” USB 2.0 flash drives in our days, but the Corsair Flash Voyager Slider CMFSL3, while perfectly compatible with USB 2.0 controllers, takes full advantage of the USB 3.0 bandwidth and sports some impressive performance figures. Real tests performed on the 64GB model have revealed a sequential read performance of almost 90 MB/s and a write speed of 69 MB/s. The new drive is backed by a 5-year warranty and it will be officially launched on 11th of this month.

Corsair Flash Voyager Slider CMFSL3
Images credits to PC Watch

AMD FirePro APU Breaks Intel Xeon E3 in First Official Benchmarks

The world’s fifth fabless IC designer, American company AMD, is finally enjoying the fruits of its ATI buyout from six years ago. AMD is now in the privileged position to sell workstation FirePro APUs that are perfectly tailored for the professional market.

Getting enough user-friendly applications that put Trinity’s GPU compute abilities to good use in the average desktop PC is quite hard these days. Practically there aren’t enough such applications on the market to allow the user to take full advantage of the APU graphics performance and also allow AMD to charge a price premium for this. In the professional workstation market, the scenario is completely different. Here AMD’s FirePro APUs based on the Trinity design can really shine. Most of the applications know how to take advantage of the GPU compute power inside those 384 VLIW units and the increase in performance makes it all worth the investment.

The success of the new FirePro APUs means that AMD can charge some serious money for the new processors and the supporting platforms as the performance is really “out of this world” in this price range.  Intel’s integrated graphics processing units (iGPU) have evolved quite a bit and they can be considered decent graphics adapters for the average office computer, but the reality is that these have no chance in casual gaming and considerably less of a chance in professional applications. The professional workstation market is extremely profitable and AMD got a serious 25% foothold in this field back in the K8 days when Intel’s Pentium 4-based Xeon was completely inferior. Since Intel launched the Core architecture in the summer of 2006, AMD has constantly been behind in x86 performance and only when the first APUs were launched, could AMD claim some performance superiority in certain scenarios.

AMD still enjoyed some serious server market share until 2010 or 2011, but the workstation market was almost completely taken over by Xeon systems. Today, Advanced Micro Devices is able to conquer a considerable piece of the workstation market with the new FirePro APUs. The performance is amazing when compared with the competing solution from Intel and the price/performance ratio is something that hasn’t been thought possible before Fusion. The performance advantage reaches an amazing 800% in BasemarkCL and over 600% in SPECviewperf 11 in the lightwave-01 test. AMD's FirePro A320 workstation APU is able to reach 184 GFLOPs of  double precision compute performance. Nvidia's K10 only manages 195 GFLOPs of double precision floating point compute peformance. Therefore we can safely say that, at least in the DP FP64 chapter, the performance is similar.

It really doesn’t matter how the new Opteron CPUs based on the improved Piledriver core will perform when launched this autumn. We believe workstations powered by AMD’s FirePro APUs will sell many times better than Opteron workstations ever did. The Xeon E3 processor and its iGPU actually fail in some tests as the driver is not able to offer proper compatibility with the software used and not being able to run various applications and games has always been a problem for Intel's iGPUs. It's quite difficult to talk about professional applications, performance and stability when your hardware solution is not even able to start the program. Intel thought it could make serious money with the Xeon E3 and it might still achieve its goal considering the marketing money and the market clot it has along with the indoctrinated corporate users, but AMD’s FirePro APUs will make a serious impact on Intel’s Xeon E3 workstation profits.

AMD Official FirePro APU Benchmarks
Images credits to tomshw.it
click for larger images

iPhone 5 Resolution at 640 x 1136

iOS 6 scales perfectly to the rumored taller resolution of the next-generation iPhone, according to tests run by people playing around with the latest beta seeded by Apple this week.

After making the discovery described in the above paragraph, 9to5mac could also confirm that the iOS Simulator (an emulator app included with Xcode) does not correctly display five rows of icons at resolutions other than 640 x 1136. In other words, this is pretty much all the evidence we need to confirm the next iPhone’s resolution.

There has been a lot of debate as to whether the iPhone 5 will boast a bigger display or not. Many believe it’s simply a given. Competitors have an army of huge smartphones waiting for the iPhone 5 to poke its head out from a far, albeit still scared that Apple’s smartphone will make it to front row in a matter of weeks.

iOS 6 640 x 1136 screenshot
Image credits to 9to5Mac.com

Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center 1.1.500.0 for Windows 8

Owners of a Microsoft mouse and keyboard can get the most out of their hardware via a dedicated application that the Redmond-based software giant has made available for them, namely the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center.

Currently available for download as version 1.1.500.0, the application provides a variety of customization options when it comes to using the Microsoft hardware on a Windows PC. People will be able to set the mouse and keyboard to work according to their specific needs, or to change them in accordance with the settings of various applications.

The software is available with support for both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 8, and features an interface tailored specifically for the platform. It will even provide users with pop-up descriptive and “how-to” InfoTips, as well as with access to an online How-To/Troubleshooting library.

Download Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center 1.1.500.0 free

Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center
Image credits to Microsoft

More Windows 8 ISOs RTM Leaked, Microsoft Blocks Its Activation Server

The series of leaked Windows 8 builds continues with new ISOs available online, including Windows 8 RTM for China.

We’ve already seen Enterprise flavors of the platform leaked to various sharing websites, including the N version of the final build, and an original x64 build, but it seems that this is not all. Both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 8 Pro emerged online, WindowsBlogItalia reports, along with the x86 Windows 8 Enterprise RTM ISO. At the same time, info on leaked Windows 8 RTM for China also emerged, in both flavors as well. For what it’s worth, it was somehow expected that Windows 8 would leak online shortly after reaching the RTM milestone, especially given the hype around the platform. Of course, Microsoft did try to prevent that from happening, mainly through making pre-release flavors of the platform available for all users. As usual, those who would like to take any of these leaked builds for a spin are advised to proceed with caution. They are not official releases and might have malicious software packed inside.

Moreover, we should note that, while some of those who hurried and installed the leaked builds were able to activate them online, it appears that Microsoft has blocked new requests. Apparently, some people managed to crack the activation sequence and to bypass the Microsoft KMS servers, making the platform usable for 180 days before it needs to check again against a valid server. Before that, Windows 8 would notify users by means of a popup that they should head online and activate their copy of the platform. However, as mentioned above, the Redmond-based software giant has reportedly blocked access to the server, or might have even taken it down, to prevent more people from activating the leaked copies of Windows. Windows 8 is set to be released to the general public on October 26th, though it will become available for download for MSDN and TechNet subscribers, as well as for other Microsoft partners, later this week.

Windows 8 logo
Image credits to Microsoft

Gigabyte H77N-WiFi, Mini-ITX Board with Three Network Interfaces

Motherboards usually work fine with just one or two network interfaces, especially if they are smaller than most, but the Gigabyte H77N-WiFi is an exception.

Featuring the mini-ITX form factor, it supports socket LGA 1155 central processing units from Intel (Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge). Two of the three network connections are Gigabit Ethernet ports, while the third one is 802.11 b/g/n WLAN. Now, the form factor obviously makes the H77-WiFi a good fit for a home-theater personal computer, but HTPCs don't really have much use for more than one web connection (streaming from video sites). Thus, the extra Gigabit LAN and Wi-Fi lets it substitute for a NAS server, among other things. The only other perk of the mini-ITX board is the presence of two HDMI ports and one DVI, instead of two DVIs and one HDMI as is more common. That said, Gigabyte's small creation uses energy from a 24-pin ATX connection (and a 4-pin CPU plug) to power a 4+1 phase VRM, two DDR3 memory slots (16 GB max, 1,600 MHz), a PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, two SATA 6.0 Gbps ports and a pair of SATA 3.0 Gbps connectors.

Other specs include 8-channel HD audio (appears to be driven by a Realtek-made CODEC), Wireless Display (WiDi), four USB 3.0 ports (two on the back panel, two via headers) and six USB 2.0 ports (four at the rear, two header sets). Finally, Gigabyte made sure to include support for Intel Smart Response Technology, where an SSD is seen by the PC as cache memory and stores boot and frequently used files, thus enhancing startup speed and general system performance. All this information has been provided by tonymacx86. Gigabyte won't, in fact, formally launch this item until later this month (August 2012). Hopefully, a price will be chosen by that point.

Gigabyte H77N-WiFi
Image credits to TonyMacX86

Nokia Prototype with Windows Phone 8 Leaks

According to the latest hearsay, Nokia is expected to announce the first Windows Phone 8 devices next month, possibly during one of the Nokia World 2012 events.

Lots of pictures with alleged upcoming Nokia smartphones powered by Windows Phone 8 have already leaked in the wild, but most of these photos seem to be fakes. One thing is certain - the Finnish company will be the first handset manufacturer to launch Windows Phone 8 devices on the market. Microsoft has already confirmed that most current Windows Phone 7.5 handsets won’t receive an upgrade to Windows Phone 8. However, the Redmond-based company stated that it would offer its fans the possibility to update their smartphones to Windows Phone 7.8. This seems to be more of a compromise that Microsoft is willing to make in order to keep its current Windows Phone 7.5 market share, and try to boost it once Windows Phone 8 goes official.

Details on the main features of Windows Phone 7.8 are a bit scarce for the moment, but more info will surely emerge as we near its official announcement. Until then, we can take a look at another alleged Nokia handset powered by Windows Phone 7.8 or 8.0. The folks over at WPDang have recently published two pictures of a Nokia prototype, which strongly resembles the Lumia 900. The device does not bear a name yet, but we can safely assume it’s a prototype given the “proto.nokia.com” marking etched at the bottom of the display.

Design-wise, this prototype seems to be a yellow version of the Nokia Lumia 900, which has yet to make its debut on the market. So far, we don’t have any info on the phone’s hardware configuration, but we can speculate that this is a Lumia 900 device that runs the upcoming Windows Phone 7.8 OS. Stay tuned for more updates on the matter. via WPDang.

Leaked Nokia with Windows 8 Prototype
Images credits to WPDang

AMD FirePro Graphics Series Are Between 50% and 500% Faster Than NVIDIA Tesla

Texas-based fabless CPU and GPU designer, American company AMD has just launched the new workstation graphic cards using the famous Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture. The company calls these the “world’s most powerful workstation graphics line” and, seeing the numbers, we tend to agree.

AMD has simply stumbled onto a treasure with its GCN architecture. While the company was never so much involved with professional graphics and GPU compute like Nvidia, AMD’s first attempt to build a GPU compute-optimized design has been more successful than anybody would have expected. Looking at the numbers, the W9000 is able to push out 4TFLOPS single-precision IEEE 754-2011 and 1TFLOPS double-precision IEEE 754-2011. The card uses a Tahiti GPU made at TSMC in the foundry’s well-performing 28nm technology and has 4.3 billion transistors inside working with 6GB of GDDR5 memory on the usual 384-bit BUS. AMD’s W9000 is the company’s fastest and most powerful FirePro professional adapter and, if we compare it with whatever Nvidia has best in its lineup, we can’t help but be amazed.

Nvidia now has two flagships in its Tesla product line. One is the Fermi-based Tesla 2090 and the other is the new K10 dual-GPU professional Tesla card. The first one excels at double-precision floating point operations and is able to push out an impressive 665 Gigaflops in DP and 1.331 Teraflops in single-precision floating point calculations. These numbers put AMD’s W9000 50.3% ahead in DP FP64 and show it to be 300% as fast in single-precision floating point operations. The thing is that Nvidia’s newest Tesla adapter is the Kepler-based K10 model that features two full-0blowing Kepler GPUs inside and it is excelling at single-precision floating point operations.

The K10 is, indeed, 14% faster in single-precision floating point operations, but the new AMD FirePro W9000 shows an impressive 526% DP FP64 performance when compared with K10’s meager 190 Gigaflops performance. Many said that this might be a dual-GPU card from AMD and, although the company has not made any such information available, we tend to disagree and say that we believe AMD’s FirePro to be a single-GPU card. The $4000 (€3230) W9000 is not the only card launched today, as AMD is also offering new adapters for various price points.

The AMD FirePro W8000 comes with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory and is able to display 3.2 TFLOPS of single-precision floating point performance and 806 GFLOPS of double-precision floating point performance and that still makes it considerably faster than the Tesla 2090. Priced at $1600 (€1300), the W8000 is actually the competitor suited to fight the Fermi-based Tesla 2090 and the W9000 is clearly in a class of its own. The AMD FirePro W7000 comes with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory and is able to display 2.4 TFLOPS of single-precision floating point performance and 152 GFLOPS of double-precision floating point performance. This is the first card in AMD’s new lineup to display lower DP FP64 performance than Nvidia’s Tesla K10.

Considering single-point performance, the W7000 is still twice as powerful as the Tesla 2090. The smallest brother in the new FirePro generation is the AMD FirePro W5000, which comes with 2 GB of GDDR5 memory and is able to display 1.27 TFLOPS of single-precision floating point performance and 80 GFLOPS of double-precision floating point performance. The FirePro W7000 and FirePro W500 are priced at $900 (€730) and $600 (€490), respectively. AMD also has a premium server partner to integrate its new professional card, and that is the famous SuperMicro.

AMD FirePro W9000 Professional Graphics Card
Images credits to AMD

AMD FirePro W7000 Professional Graphics Card
Image credits to AMD

AMD FirePro W5000 Professional Graphics Card
Image credits to AMD

AMD Releases World First FirePro APUs

Anyone who thought AMD's accelerated processing units would always be exclusively for consumers has been proven wrong now that the FirePro A300 Series has been released.

FirePro is a brand that Advanced Micro Devices has used, for years, to market its graphics processing units and cards on the business and industrial markets. Now, the brand name has extended to APUs, those central processing units with integrated graphics processors. AMD intends for the FirePro A300 Series APUs to be utilized in entry-level and mainstream desktop workstations. That means that its customers are people who work in computer-aided design and media, and entertainment professions. Currently, two quad-core chips are known by name: AMD FirePro A300 and AMD FirePro A320.

The former is a 3.4 GHz processor (4 GHz Turbo Core maximum) with 382 AMD stream processors, a GPU clock of 760 MHz and a TDP (thermal design power) of 65W. The latter, also a quad-core CPU, works at 3.8 GHz / 4.2 GHz Turbo, has just as many stream processors (albeit a GPU speed of 800 MHz) and required 100W of energy. It is also unlocked, unlike the other one. Both chips support AMD Eyefinity technology (multi-monitor setups with horizontal display resolutions up to 10,240 x 1600 pixels), Discrete Compute Offload (DCO, for adding compute capability when a discrete AMD FirePro GPU is added to the machine), 30-bit color support and a dedicated UVD (universal video decoder/VCE, or video CODEC engine) for faster “fixed function” GPU processing of H.264/MPEG4 files and other motion media formats (frees CPU resources for other things).

“Design professionals demand workstation-class tools that enable productivity and flexibility in their workflow, and the AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs enable workstation integrators and OEMs an exciting new computing platform on which to design and build powerful, entry-level desktop workstation configurations that deliver unbeatable value for CAD and M&E workflows,” said Matt Skynner, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD Graphics. “The AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs combines AMD FirePro™ graphics technology with advanced CPU technology, delivering incredible compute performance, refined design flexibility and outstanding efficiency.” Systems featuring the Advanced Micro Devices FirePro A300 series will start shipping this month (August 2012) from workstation integrators. Alas, no prices have been disclosed yet.

AMD FirePro logo
Image credits to AMD

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