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Aug 9, 2012

Sony Tablet P Available for Just £199 ($311 / €251)

Sony’s dual-screen wonder Tablet P powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 2 power efficient mobile processor has not been the selling success that the company hoped it to be. Now the Japanese electronics giant is apparently trying to clear out the stocks before the new Xperia tablet comes out.

The interesting tablet is now available for considerably less than half of its initial price and the amazing thing is that this is happening just nine months after the launch, back in November 2011. The company seems to have given up on trying to make the Tablet P a best seller and, although an Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is planned, there is no other similar successor in Sony’s current plans.

There are reports that the innovative tablet has been listed online for just £199 ($311 / €251) and that is an impressive 60 percent price reduction fro the initial price of £400. Therefore, anyone wanting a unique piece of high quality Japan-made technology should not miss this opportunity.

Sony Tablet P
Image credits to Sony

AMD FirePro Series First Official Benchmarks Result

Back in 2011 when AMD first launched the GCN architecture and the impressive “Tahiti” GPU, everybody was amazed at the gaming performance, but not many were expecting the level of GPU compute raw power that the first GCN generation brings.

The company has managed to design such a powerful GPU compute architecture that it still takes Nvidia and Intel millions of dollars, tens of thousands of work hours and months to try and match. Intel has been working on the Larabee architecture for more than half a decade now and the Xeon Phi accelerator card that we’ve reported on here is still chasing the 1TFLOP DP FP64 performance goal. Nvidia on the other hand seems to have made a step backwards as the new GK104 GPU is only able to put out less than 0.1 TFLOPS of double precision floating point performance while the older, Fermi-based generation is able to reach more than 0.6 TFLOPS.

AMD’s W9000 FirePro professional graphics adapter is able to deliver more than 1 TFLOP of double precision floating point computing performance and the impression AMD left us is that they weren’t even designing the Tahiti GPU with such high GPU compute performance as the main goal. Moving from GPU compute to the CAD and OpenGL professional applications, we can see from AMD’s official benchmarking that the company’s new line is much faster than the competing models from Nvidia. While Nvidia tried to spoil AMD’s W9000 launch from the other day, AMD doesn’t have anything to worry from its main competitor because Nvidia’s solutions will only come to the market in October and December 2012 respectively.

Nvidia’s stunt was clearly an image move. It was a desperate attempt to distract the enthusiasts and professionals’ attention from the crushing performance specifications and result displayed by AMD’s new generation. The green team reshuffled the same specs regarding technologies that will be implemented in their K20 card, but they never offered any performance figures or estimations. The Quadro 5000 and especially the K20 are going to be very impressive when launched, but we’re almost half a year away from K20 availability and, until then, AMD has the best solutions for the CAD and GPU compute applications.

AMD New FirePro W7000 Professional Graphics Adapters
Image credits to tomshw.it

AMD New FirePro W9000 Professional Graphics Adapters
Image credits to tomshw.it

AMD New FirePro W5000 Professional Graphics Adapters
Image credits to tomshw.it

AMD New FirePro W9000 Professional Graphics Adapters Benchmark Result
Image credits to tomshw.it

AMD New FirePro W8000 Professional Graphics Adapters Benchmark Result
Image credits to tomshw.it

AMD New FirePro W7000 Professional Graphics Adapters Benchmark Result
Image credits to tomshw.it

AMD New FirePro W5000 Professional Graphics Adapters Benchmark Result
Image credits to tomshw.it

AMD New FirePro W5000 Professional Graphics Adapters Benchmark Result
Image credits to tomshw.it

HTC Desire Z with Unofficial CyanogenMod 10 Port

The old HTC Desire Z has just received an unofficial CyanogenMod 10 port courtesy of the folks over at XDA Developers.

The smartphone was launched on the market in November 2010 with Android 2.2 Froyo onboard. However, the Desire Z got a Gingerbread upgrade, which will also be the last major update the device will get. Still, it looks like XDA forum user Flinny and the Andromadus dev team managed to put together a CyanogenMod 10 ROM for HTC Desire Z. Keep in mind that this is a work in progress, so expect some issues to be present, such as:

  • Wake issue (Kernel);
  • Video playback glitches (mainly in landscape, turn off HW overlay in developer settings as a work around for now);
  • Video camera (doesn’t work at all yet);
  • Wi-Fi tethering; 
  • Glitches on panorama camera (overlay again same work around);
  • Improved io, integer and float handling (Kernel).

For more details on how to download and install this unofficial CyanogenMod 10 ROM for HTC Desire Z head over to the original thread.

Nikon Coolpix L610

Nikon has formally introduced the latest addition to its Coolpix line of compact cameras, a model bearing the name of Coolpix L610 and featuring a 16-megapixel sensor.

The general specifications of the product don't stand out all that much really, until the price comes into view and prospective customers realize that the L610 is a very attractive camera indeed. The sum is $249, or 201 Euro if current exchange rates are to be believed to any extent. As we said before, Nikon Coolpix L610 uses a 16 megapixel BSI (backside illuminated) CMOS sensor. Thus, it can snap photos and record videos in very high quality. For those who want specifics, Nikon actually implemented a 1080p movie mode and optical VR image stabilization. Any image focused through the 14x wide-angle zoom lens will turn out clear and smooth, unless the ones holding the camera deliberately shake it for some reason.

Naturally, there is a preview screen as well (a 3-inch liquid crystal display). What stands out more than all this, however, or at least as much, is that the Coolpix L610 does not use proprietary energy cells. Instead, it can run on the electrical power provided by standard AA batteries found at every corner shop and kiosk. No longer shall owners depend on the presence, or lack thereof, of power outlets when going on a vacation, whether it be hiking, some time at the seaside or, especially, road trips (not all trains and buses have power sockets).

All in all, this is the sort of camera we wouldn't mind buying. Even though it doesn't have the Android OS (unlike the leaked Coolpix S800/800c), it can do lots of things to photos anyway. The software can edit photos with 6 scene modes (Portrait, Landscape, Night Portrait, Night Landscape, Close-up, Backlighting), 4 special effect (Soft, High Key, Low Key, Selective Color) and 5 filters (Soft, Selective Color, Cross Screen, Miniature Effect, Painting).

Nikon Coolpix L610
Image credits to Nikon

Intel Haswell iGPU, 300% Ivy Bridge Performance

More and more information about Intel’s Haswell is surfacing the internet and most of it is detailing and debating the most impressive unit inside Intel’s new architecture, the integrated graphics processing unit (iGPU).

Haswell’s iGPU is an almost complete revolution when compared with what we have today inside Ivy Bridge. The world’s largest semiconductor company is finally taking 3D graphics and GPU compute seriously. The truth is that Intel needs to do this. While for the past decade all the world’s supercomputers got along just fine with no powerful GPUs inside, nowadays it seems unimaginable to pass up that tremendous efficiency and performance. Therefore, Intel is hard at work with its Xeon Phi accelerator cards. 3D graphics and GPU compute is becoming essential for desktop PCs too as there are big software companies like Adobe that have completely committed to GPU compute and even declared that they won’t make a non-GPU compute enabled version ever.

All Adobe’s software suites will need to be installed on computers with graphics cards or APUs that have GPU compute capabilities. Therefore, Intel knows that it can’t ignore 3D graphics and GPU performance anymore. AMD and Nvidia might not be too happy that a third serious 3D competitor will evolve in the market, but both companies have so much experience with 3D graphics that they’ll simply make even more powerful chips. Fudzilla.com stumbled upon some interesting info that reportedly estimates Haswell’s 3D performance as being three times better than it is on Ivy Bridge.

Intel is fitting the new top iGPU with 40 execution units, 160 ALU and 4 texture units. Comparing this to Ivy Bridge’s 16 execution units, 64 ALUs and 2 texturing units will only help us understand the magnitude of the performance improvement. We still believe the performance improvement will be around 400%, but even 300% is not less than amazing.

Intel Haswell CPU
Image credits to Intel

Apple Invents Asymmetric Screw to Keep Us Out of Its Gadgets

The image to the left shows a rendering of a potential new type of screw developed by Apple in Cupertino, California, in an attempt to keep prying hands off its hardware. Repair shop iFixit says the implications are severe, should this leak prove accurate.

Apple goes to great lengths to design screws that can only be manipulated using special tools. The Pentalobe screws used in the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S are a good example of that. While some repair shops sell screwdrivers that can unmount them, there are no known tools that can unscrew the piece photographed above. It goes without saying that Apple is at the top of a long list of potential designers for this piece of hardware, though iFixit’s Kyle Wiens is not convinced. Speaking to the people at Cultofmac, Wiens said, “If this were an Apple design, it would be concerning. Service technicians of all kinds need access to hardware.”

“We regularly sell pentalobe screwdrivers to forensic investigators who depend on our tools for important investigations." "Recyclers all over the world to dismantle products, and Apple has historically relied on the open market (third parties like us) to supply their recyclers with the tools they need to recycle Apple products,” wrote Wiens. “My gut feel is that this isn’t from Apple. The threads are unrealistic, and I suspect that a head like that is too complex to use as a tool head. Existing tool designs tend to be simple because the head needs to withstand a fair amount of torque,” he explained. Furthermore, he said, “If this is an Apple design, it looks like it would be expensive to manufacture. Apple uses tiny screws, and that’s a lot of complexity.”

That’s not to say it’s impossible for Apple to employ this particular type of screw for things like the Mac Pro, or the iMac, or even the MacBook Pro. However, let’s not get carried away. It’s only just a 3D rendering of the hardware, which probably means it hasn’t even been manufactured yet.

Potentially Apple-designed screw (rendering)
Image credits to imgur.com via Reddit via Cultofmac.com

AsRock Z77 OC Formula Technical Details

Well-known mainboard manufacturer AsRock is getting ready to launch its own overclocking oriented Z77 motherboard, featuring the 1155 processor socket. The motherboard was displayed at Computex earlier this year and many thought that it was only a concept as AsRock has a certain market segment it addresses.

Years ago, the world’s largest motherboard manufacturer, Taiwanese company ASUS has decided not to associate its brand with low-end products and thus founded AsRock to take care of that market segment. Thanks to ASUS’ good channel contacts, market clout and influence, AsRock did very good and quickly achieved high sales and has eventually spun-off as an independent company. Now that it is on its own, AsRock no longer limits itself to low- or mid-end products and it also launches quality and expensive devices. On the other hand, the new AsRock’s Z77 OC Formula apparently goes against ASUS’ own Maximus V Formula and Gigabyte’s OC series. We’re not going to try and understand why AsRock is now competing with ASUS in the latter’s most important market segment and thus we’ll get down to what’s special about the new AsRock’s Z77 OC Formula.

Earlier today, we received a news tip about new info that has surfaced at chiploco.com. The info says that the new overclocking motherboard from AsRock comes with Japan-made high-quality conductive polymer solid capacitors, a Digi-Power 12+4 phase power design and gold contact points for CPU and memory. The motherboard also supports up to 32 GB of DDR3 memory and it can handle memory overclocking beyond DDR3-3000. The motherboard has two PCI Express 3.0 x16 expansion slots, one PCI Express 2.0 x16 (x4 electrically) and two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots, supporting up to 3-Way NVIDIA SLI and CrossfireX.

On the backpanel I/O, we can see a combo keyboard/mouse PS 2 connector and six USB 3.0 ports along with a clear CMOS button for situations where the overclocking settings might prove too much for the hardware to handle. The motherboard should already be on the market in the first days of the following month with a “moderate price tag.”

AsRock Z77 OC Formula
Images credits to ChipLoco

Black Samsung Galaxy S III Coming Soon

Samsung launched the Galaxy S III in late May and the phone is currently available in two color options: Pebble Blue and Marble White.

However, it looks like Samsung plans to add more color-schemes for its Android flagship smartphone. A black flavor Galaxy S III has recently been spotted on Samsung Olympics Facebook page, which is a clear indication that the device will go official in the next few days. The black Galaxy S III will probably be sold for the same price as the other two colors, but we’re not sure when exactly the phone will go live.

It’s likely that this is the international version of the Galaxy S III, so don’t expect to come with LTE support or the 1.5 GHz dual-core processor. It will be interesting to see if Samsung will roll out the black Galaxy S III worldwide, so stay tuned for more updates on the matter.

Black Samsung Galaxy S III
Image credits to Samsung

Point of View 1111 MHz GTX 680 UltraCharged 4 GB Graphics Card

Point of View has prepared a very nice surprise of the video card enthusiasts. The company has just launched a special version of Nvidia’s GTX 680 video card that uses hand-picked GPUs and double the usual video memory along with a triple-fan cooler.

The new card from Point of View is officially called POV/TGT GeForce GTX 680 4GB UltraCharged “LOW LEAKAGE SELECTION” and these cards use selected GK104 Kepler GPUs that naturally have lower than usual current leakage. The low current leakage in the GK104 chips used for POV’s GeForce GTX 680 4GB UltraCharged allows the GPU to clock stably at much higher frequencies while generating less heat. The default base frequency of the Kepler GPU mounted on POV’s new video cards is an impressive 1111 Mhz, TechPowerUp reports. We don’t have any info on the boost option and what frequency that could achieve, but the card is also considerably modified from the usual GTX 680 graphics adapter.

POV’s GeForce GTX 680 4GB UltraCharged comes with the company’s well-known triple-slot and triple-fan cooling system, and it also packs 4 GB of GDDR5 video memory. Nvidia’s GK104 Kepler GPU is built at TSMC in 28nm manufacturing technology. It has around 3.5 billion transistors and uses a 256-bit memory BUS to connect to the standard 2 GB of GDDR5 memory. The GPU excels in graphics and gaming while having abysmal double precision floating point performance, but it is likely a design decision from Nvidia itself. The GeForce GTX 680 4GB UltraCharged is priced at 600 EUR for European buyers and that means that Americans will have to shell out about $743 for the “low leakage” version.

POV/TGT GeForce GTX 680 4GB UltraCharged
Image credits to TechPowerUp

Nokia Phi Confirmed with Dual-Core CPU and Windows Phone 8

Rumors on the upcoming Windows Phone 8 devices continue to surface, but we still don’t have any confirmations on their specs sheet.

However, it appears that the folks over at NokiaInnovation have been able to confirm that the Finnish company plans to announce not one, but three Windows Phone 8 smartphones at the first Nokia World 2012 event, which is set to kick off on September 5. One of the smartphones that will be announced in early September is currently known as Nokia Phi, though this is just a codename, just like Lumia 900 was known as Nokia Ace before it got launched in the market. Remember the alleged Nokia prototype smartphone powered by Windows Phone 8 (or 7.8) that was leaked two days ago by the folks over at WPDang? Well, it looks like this is the Nokia Phi and, according to NokiaInnovation’s inside source, it is Lumia 800’s successor.

It looks like Stephen Elop was more than impressed by Lumia 800’s success, which is why he decided to keep the same design line for a few other devices that will be launched in the coming months. Now, about the Nokia Phi, the cited source claims it will have the same curved screen, but it will come with a bigger screen than the Lumia 800. Obviously, there’ won’t be any physical buttons on the front side of the smartphone, but it will feature a dual volume key, a power button and the camera shutter. On the inside, the Nokia Phi will be equipped with a dual-core processor manufactured by Qualcomm. It will also feature LTE and microSD card support. NFC (Near Field Technology) will be included as well. Even though Nokia Phi will be announced in early September, the smartphone has been confirmed to arrive on the market in the last week of October. Stay tuned for more updates on the matter. via NokiaInnovation.

Nokia Phi
Image credits to WPDang

Arctic Accelero Hybrid 7970 Liquid Cooling System

Computer cooling expert company Arctic has just launched another hybrid cooling system for VGA adapters.

This one is specially designed to fit on AMD’s Radeon HD 7970, 7950, 7870, 7850, 6970, 6950, 6870, 6850, 6790, 5870, 5850 and 5830 video cards and will use both air and liquid to keep the cards and GPUs cool. We’ve already reported about similar hybrid cooling systems from Arctic. Today’s hero is officially called Accelero Hybrid 7970 and it is a two-part cooling device. The main unit is a closed loop cooling system that will be able to dissipate up to 320 watts worth of heat.

The big radiator can be mounted on the back of the computer case and it’s cooled by a 120mm fan. The second part of the Accelero Hybrid 7970 is the front fan that sits on the card and blows air over the components like memory chips and VRM. This component also comes with a fancy looking air shroud that will push the air outside. Arctic’s Accelero Hybrid 7970 is priced at $180 for the American buyers or 136 EUR for the overclockers living on the Old Continent.

Arctic Accelero Hybrid 7970 Liquid Cooling
Images credits to Arctic Cooling

Rikomagic MK802 Mini PC: ARM Laptops

Since ARM is closer than ever to powering a series of mobile personal computers, it wouldn't do for us to skip on covering the few precursors to that momentous event, like Rikomagic's MK802 Mini PC.

To be fair, MK802 isn't really a product made by Rikomagic. The company actually takes cheap Chinese gadgets, overhauls their hardware and software and then sells them in the UK and the rest of Europe. MK802 Mini PC is, for all intents and purposes, a netbook, so we don't really expect many people to flock to it. Nevertheless, the device does possess a fairly well known heart: the Allwinner A10 processor, with two ARM Cortex-A8 cores clocked at 1.5 GHz each. 1 GB of RAM (random access memory) accompanies the CPU, while the operating system and anything else owners copy on the laptops is stored on four or eight gigabytes of NAND Flash storage.

That is a fairly low capacity for times when 16 GB is considered a low number, but at least there is a memory card slot that allows extra capacity to be added. That said, Rikomagic has chosen to install Ubuntu Linux 12.04 on the MK802 Mini PC, instead of the normal netbook choice, Windows XP/7 operating system (which doesn't work on ARM anyway), although, curiously, the company will provide Ubuntu even if the netbook ships with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Then again, Android relies on touchscreen input, which the small trackpad and the keyboard can't really substitute for well. There is also the fact that Ubuntu can be run just fine from a SD card.

Finally, the 10.1-inch liquid crystal display (LCD) boasts a native resolution of 1,024 x 600 pixels, which, again, might seem low compared to tablets and notebooks. Of course, HD, Full HD and beyond can be considered overkill for screens of this size just as easily. For our part, we think the resolution is a good fit for the rest of the specs (VGA webcam, three USB 2.0 ports, accelerometer, an SD card reader, Wireless, Ethernet port). The only thing we don't like is the short battery life (3 hours), especially knowing that ARM is prized for power efficiency. At least the price will be low (it hasn't been revealed, but we are leaning towards $150 / 121-150 Euro or less).

Rikomagic MK802 Mini PC
Image credits to NetbookNews

This is our latest project, it's an Allwinner A10 Powered Smartbook with 1GB Ram, it comes with Android 4.0 installed but we have now ported a full version of Ubuntu Linux 12.04 which runs from a bootable SD Card. Performance is pretty good considering it's a single core processor and disk access speed is slow from the SD. We are continuing to work on optimising this system and if you are interested in the project you can follow the progress on the rikomagic forums
Video credits to Andy Kirby

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 with Windows 8 now Official

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 has been cropping up in rumors a lot lately, so we weren't taken off guard by the early press release, despite the very real and very intriguing feature set.

Lenovo didn't have to put too much effort into the software. After all, Microsoft did all of the work on the Windows 8 operating system. Thus, it could dedicate most of its resources to creating the optimal hardware combination. Whether or not it succeeded in covering all the bases satisfactorily will be decided when sales finally begin and reviewers have their say. And here is the main issue with the product launch: it is only a “paper launch,” where a device is officially released by a company but sales aren't about to commence for months. Microsoft will release Windows 8 and Windows RT in October, so Lenovo won't get to ship the ThinkPad Tablet 2 before then. That said, the central processor at the heart of the 10.1-inch consumer electronic device belongs to Intel's Atom line (32nm Clover Trail).

Said chip is accompanied by 2 GB of RAM, up to 64 GB of NAND flash storage space, integrated 3G/4G – (with both HSPA+ and LTE options) and two cameras (8 MP at the back, 2 MP on the front), plus the regular I/O (USB, video outputs, card slot, etc.). Moreover, Lenovo will sell an auxiliary docking station with HDMI, three USB ports and Gigabit Ethernet. Finally, the 10-inch IPS LCD features a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels and, though it should go without saying, multi-touch support. We cannot say what price Lenovo will want buyers to pay when sales finally get the green light two months from now. We suppose it might try to stay close to the so-called $499 / 470 Euro standard, but the 10-hour battery life and everything else could push it closer to ultrabooks in that respect ($699 / 565-670 Euro).

"Customers want a versatile device that fits their lifestyle and the many ways they use technology. Our new ThinkPad Tablet 2 marries incredible hardware and software to give consumers a great device for office, home or travel while also offering companies and IT managers the oversight they need to help secure and manage their company's networks and data," said Dilip Bhatia, vice president and general manager, ThinkPad Business Unit. "For the next generation of Lenovo PCs, designed to be great with Windows 8, we're working closer than ever with Microsoft Corp. and our silicon partners. Today we are excited to reveal the fruit of this collaborative co-engineering, the ThinkPad Tablet 2, a joint effort between Lenovo, Microsoft and Intel."

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2
Images credits to Lenovo

HTC Windows Phone 8 Devices in September

Taiwanese mobile phone maker HTC Corporation is expected to bring to the market at least three Windows Phone 8 smartphones in the near future, and might unveil them as soon as next month.

In fact, a recent report coming from WPDang suggests that the handset vendor would aim at launching its Windows Phone 8 handsets in the third week of September. This would make HTC the second vendor in the world to announce Windows Phone 8 plans, following Nokia’s supposed unveiling at the beginning of next month.

Previous rumors have suggested that HTC would aim at loading Windows Phone 8 on devices ranging from the mid- to the high-end of the market. Codenamed Rio, Accord and Zenith, three such phones have already been rumored to make it to shelves before year’s end, all with much better hardware compared to currently available devices.

hTC logo
Image credits to HTC

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