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Aug 27, 2012

ASUS Working on AMD Radeon HD 7990 Dual GPU Video Card

We’ve talked about ASUS’ intention of making a new dual GPU video card some time ago, but the company has bluntly denied any such plans so we gave up on the idea also. Now there is some new info available that suggests the Taiwanese giant is actually working on an Ares successor, but that’s not going to be a dual Pitcairn card like it was initially rumored.

The hardware enthusiasts at ExPreview have managed to snatch a picture of what’s supposed to be a dual GPU video card that’s using AMD GPUs. The card in question is surprisingly based on two Tahiti XT GPUs and thus it is actually ASUS’ own AMD Radeon 7990 version.

This could also be a dual AMD Radeon HD 7970 video card as there are many clues that point towards the fact that AMD’s dual Tahiti implementation will likely have a different setup, frequencies and TDP than a Radeon HD 7970 X2.

ASUS Alleged Ares Dual Radeon HD 7970 Video Card
Image credits to Expreview

Nvidia GTX780 For Next Easter and Maxwell is Pushed to 2014

The Kepler architecture was initially targeted for a late 2011 launch, but instead it has only made it into the retail early this summer. That’s a serious half year delay and it seems that the company’s choice to increase the complexity of its architectures will only make matters worse.

As many were talking about Nvidia’s troubles with Kepler yields and manufacturing, we were always the ones to dismiss such rumors and explaind that the company’s main problem is TSMC’s inability to deliver enough 28nm chips and not the fact that too many were defective. This is true up to a point. That point is the even more complex GK110 GPU that’s slated for a late December 2012 launch. Despite Nvidia would rather have the GK110 available before Intel’s Xeon Phi and AMD’s FirePro W9000 series and the S9000 series make any serious impact, this is not going to happen in the next four months. Nvidia barely made it and got decent yields with the 3.5-billion transistors Kepler and it is very unlikely that the GK110 will be able to fit in the acceptable yields range.

Sure TSMC is improving the 28nm process and faster GK104 versions will likely surface around next spring, but a 7-billion transistors GPU won’t have much to gain from such improvements. There is a slim chance that we will see a faster Kepler desktop GPU early next summer that will probably be called GTX780, but Nvidia’s main focus is improving yields of its high-end and high margins GK110 chip, VR-Zone reports. The company not only needs to make the GK110 work, it actually needs to learn how to deal with such complex designs as the Maxwell architecture is supposed to be even more complex and it will also integrate an 64-bit ARM architecture that will only increase the complexity.

By now it is clear that Maxwell can’t possibly be ready next year although would wish Nvidia would surprise us, but we’re hoping the company won’t be caught off guard by AMD’s Sea Islands Radeon 8000 series. A competitive edge from Nvidia’s GPU is the only thing that would make AMD launch the Radeon 8000 series with somewhat affordable prices.

Nvidia CUDA Roadmap
Image credits to VR-Zone

Lenovo K860 Quad-Core Smartphone Available for 345 USD (275 EUR)

Announced about ten days ago, Lenovo K860 Android smartphone is about to make its debut in China. The device is powered by Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich platform out of the box and packs a Samsung Exynos 4412 quad-core processor and a Mali-400 MP GPU.

We already reported on the upcoming availability of the smartphone in the Mainland, though the K860’s price tag was not available at that time. However, it looks like Lenovo has just announced the K860 will be available in China for only 2,199 yuan, which is about $345 USD (275 EUR) outright.

The pricing is amazing for such a high-end device, which offers a powerful quad-core CPU and a stunning 5.0-inch HD (720 x 1280 pixels) capacitive touchscreen display.  In addition, Lenovo K860 boasts an impressive 8-megapixel rear camera and a high-capacity 2250 mAh Li-Ion battery.

Lenovo K860
Image credits to CNMO

Lenovo Quad-Core 9” IdeaTab A2109 Available at $300 (€240)

Powered by Nvidia’s popular Tegra 3 SoC, Lenovo’s new IdeaTab A2109 tablet features an interesting 9” screen with multitouch support and the latest and greatest Android 4.0 operating system. For buyers that are in for a powerful yet affordable and well-built quality tablet, Lenovo’s A2109 seems to be the best solution.

Surprisingly, although it hasn’t even visited the FCC, the new Lenovo IdeaTab A2019 tablet has already reached retail shops and is awaiting customers, Engadget reports. Not only is the new tablet available for buyers at the very good price of $300 (€240), but it is also physically present in normal shops across the US for users to inspect and play with.

The 9” screen features a 1280 by 800 pixel resolution and the gadget comes with one 3MP camera on the backside and a 1.3MP webcam on the front.

Lenovo’s Quad-Core 9” IdeaTab A2109
Images credits to Lenovo

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Specs Sheet Leaks

Lots of rumors surrounding the upcoming sequel to Samsung Galaxy Note have been making headlines in the past few weeks.

Only two days remain until Samsung is expected to unveil the Galaxy Note 2 “phablet,” but rumors continue to surface online. The latest details on the Galaxy Note 2 come from Korean publication Seoul Newspaper, which posted an official specs sheet of the smartphone. Although what the folks at Seoul Newspaper claim to be the Galaxy Note 2 specs sheet seem to be incomplete, it does confirm some of the rumors on the phone’s hardware. For example, according to this document, the Galaxy Note 2 will be powered by a Samsung Exynos 4412 quad-core processor clocked at 1.4 GHz, which is likely to be complemented by a Mali-400 MP graphics processing unit.

Moreover, the smartphone will boast a huge 5.5-inch capacitive touchscreen display with support for HD (1280 x 720 pixels) resolution and 16 million colors. The good news is that Samsung decided to go for Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system, instead of the previous Ice Cream Sandwich version. Even though previous rumors suggested that Galaxy Note 2 might come with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich platform out of the box, it looks like Samsung thought otherwise. Furthermore, the smartphone will boast an 8-megapixel rear photo snapper with autofocus, LED flash and full HD (1080p) video recording, as well as front-facing camera for video calls.

Two models will be available on the market, so customers will be able to choose the 16GB version or the 32GB variant, though we’re not sure whether both will be launched at the same time. Last but not least, the phone will come with LTE support. Unfortunately, we don’t have any details on the superphone’s availability, though Samsung might want to make the Galaxy Note 2 available on the market ahead of iPhone 5’s release. via LatinosPost.

Samsung GALAXY Note 2 Specs Sheet Leaks: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Quad-Core CPU, 5.5-Inch Display
Image credits to Seoul Newspaper

Intel Haswell E3 Xeons to Battle with AMD FirePro A300 APU and Low-End Nvidia Quadro

One interesting move by Intel will be the introduction of the new, Haswell-based Xeon processors early next year. The company took its time releasing Ivy Bridge based Xeons, but Haswell Xeons will hit the market in a short time after the launch of the desktop version.

Seeing it doesn’t have a particularly strong competition from AMD, Intel is not rushing any upgrades to the Xeon LGA2011 platform. Users of the Sandy Bridge E CPUs will only get a chance to upgrade in Q3 2013. On the other hand, the low- to mid-end Xeon lines will be quickly upgraded to the Haswell architecture early next year. The reason for this seems to be the heavy competition AMD brings with the workstation Trinity APUs that we unveiled here. Intel doesn’t like the fact that on the graphics side AMD’s products practically build much more capable single-socket systems. Therefore, we can expect E3 v3 Xeon processors right after the initial Haswell launch, and these will bring a new 1150-pin socket, a dual-channel DDR3 integrated memory controller (IMC) able to work with DDR3-1600 ECC memory and powerful GT3 iGPUs with optional “level 4 cache.”, VR-Zone reports.

We know that Haswell graphics will be truly impressive and Intel believes that this, along with the superior x86 performance, will deliver a serious blow to AMD’s FirePro A300 sales. Current Intel Xeon buyers are, unfortunately, getting a bad deal from the company again, as the new processors use a slightly different socket despite the rest of the platform being mostly the same with the current Xeon E3s. The company also seems to be trying to target Nvidia’s affordable Quadro cards, as there is practically no other explanation why Intel would rush the new Xeon E3 v3 processors so soon after the Haswell launch. Intel knows its new iGPUs will bring serious performance improvements and thus, it is apparently eager to show them off.

We don’t believe AMD will manage to release GCN-based APUs until next spring so, if Intel manages to equal AMD’s FirePro A300 graphics power, FirePro APUs will lose their appeal to the potential buyers. On the x86 side, Intel current E3 Xeons have no real competition from AMD, so we don’t see any other reason for Intel to launch even faster E3 server CPUs if not to start an attack on the graphics front.

Intel Haswell CPU
Image credits to Intel

Nokia Belle Refresh Update Now Available for E7, N8, C7, C6-01, X7 and Oro

As expected before, Nokia has just announced the immediate availability of a new major software update for some of its Symbian smartphones.

Dubbed “Nokia Belle Refresh,” the update is currently available for Nokia N8, Nokia E7, Nokia C7, Nokia C6-01, Nokia X7 and Nokia Oro with version number 111.040.1511. According to the Finnish company, the update will soon be available for Nokia E6, version number 111.140.0058, while the Nokia 500 will receive the update within the next few weeks. The new update brings lots of new features and tweaks, as well as visual and performance improvements. Among the new features added to these Symbian smartphones, Nokia mentions a new browser with HTML5 web apps support, along with a new set of home screen widgets. In addition, the update includes the previously released Microsoft Office Mobile App and Nokia Maps Suite 2.0 bundled together.

Aside from these improvements, it is also worth mentioning that Nokia N8 will be packed with some extra applications for imaging due to its high-quality main camera. The Finnish company also states that “Nokia Belle Refresh update is currently rolled out in phases, starting with the vanilla versions (ie. basic software variants without any specific operator or country configuration). Country and operator variants will follow within the next weeks, depending on local and operator approvals.” Keep in mind that after updating to Nokia Belle Refresh, some of the applications previously installed on the phone may not be fully functional. This happened with the Nokia Anna update as well, so make sure you check the apps compatibility prior to update.

In the same piece of news, Nokia is also expected to release a new Belle FP2 update for Nokia 808 PureView, which is slated to arrive by the end of the year. Other Symbian smartphone might get this update as well, though Nokia has yet to officially confirm the information.

Nokia Belle Update
Image credits to Nokia

Synology DiskStation DS213+ NAS Server

Taiwanese company Synology has just launched a new NAS unit that brings the user very useful and interesting features and capabilities. The new product has a quiet and efficient cooling system and a hardware encryption chipset.

The processor powering the new DS213+ NAS server from Synology runs at a high 1067 MHz and has two processing cores, along with a FPU unit that will increase the multimedia performance. The connectivity is impressive, as the DS21+ comes with Gigabit LAN, two very fast USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, one useful and fast eSATA port and an SD Card Port for rapid backup.

The cooling is handled by a rather big and quiet 92-millimeter fan and the performance is decent, as it reaches 110 MB/s read and 84 MB/s write speeds when the two drives are set up in a RAID 1 matrix, and it can transfer AES 256-bit encrypted data at a high 49 MB/s when reading and 24 MB/s when writing. The unit supports up to two 4TB HDDs for a maximum 8TB of storage capacity. There is no info on pricing yet available, but we’re hoping it won’t go beyond the $200 mark.

Synology DiskStation DS213+ NAS Server
Images credits to Synology

ASUS Mars III Dual-NVIDIA Video Card

Even though NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 690 graphics card is already a mighty beast, ASUS has been determined to overshadow it for weeks.

The Mars III board, revealed at Computex 2012, is a GTX 690 with better power supply circuits, but this only came to light recently, when someone on the Expreview forums provided some photos of the PCB. The 8 GB of GDDR5 VRAM, the 256-bit interface and the two GK104 GPUs get energy through an 8+2-phase VRM (20 phases in total). A couple of 8-pin PCI Express power plugs bring the electricity from the PSU to the add-in card.

All in all, the video board should consume more than 500W of energy when pushed to its best. The cooler is the same one as previously seen: a dual-slot module with an aluminum fin array, copper heatpipes and three PWM-controlled fans. No word on the clocks or the price.

Image credits to Expreview

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