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Aug 28, 2012

Intel Haswell Chipset Z87 Detail

Intel is preparing its socket 1150 platform for an initial Haswell launch in Q2 next year and many details are apparently surfacing on the internet less than two weeks before the company’s IDF event.

Haswell’s top S1150 chipset will be the Z87 and this chip will come with the much touted integrated voltage regulators along with USB 3.0, SATA III and PCIe 3.0 compatibility and capability, Fudzilla reports. Mainboards will have triple display support and thus HDMI, DVI, DP, eDP and VGA connectors are to be expected.

One nice addition is TRIM support in RAID 0 storage configurations along with Rapid Storage Technology 12 and RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 capabilities.

Intel Chipsets
Image credits to Intel

Samsung S-Launcher, Copies the OS X Dock

When they’re not extracting billions from their bank account to pay back Apple for all the damage inflicted by copying its line of iDevices, Samsung enjoys copying other Apple stuff too. Like the OS X Dock.

In what can be regarded as a taunt, or a really stupid move (we’d rule in favor of the latter, considering this thing has been in development for a while now), Samsung is showing off the S-Launcher that will be included in all the Windows 8 computers they plan to sell. Gizmodo higlights a description of the S-Launcher, which reads, “And of course, the S Launcher is also a launcher. Simply drag apps or files to it for easy access, tossing them off when you don't want them anymore.”

The OS X Dock is patented and owned by Apple. Among the inventors, Steve Jobs is mentioned. If anyone had any doubts that Samsung wasn’t innovating, we suggest they put them aside until the next product refresh. Then again, we shouldn’t be so harsh. Maybe they haven’t seen a Mac for the past 10 years.

S-Launcher and OS X Dock comparison
Image credits to Gizmodo

The Best Features of Firefox 15 Are Hidden, Here How to Enable Hidden Features

A couple of the best features in Firefox 15 are actually hidden under the hood. Granted, that's for good reason, they're not ready for hundreds of millions of users. But if you want to take a peek at what's coming in Firefox and don't mind the occasional hiccup, you can enable both click-to-play plugins and the native PDF reader.

Native PDF viewer
PDF.js has been in the works for over a year now. It's an open source project, backed by Mozilla, to implement a full PDF viewer in JavaScript. The advantages of a pure JavaScript reader is that any browser is going to be able to use making PDF files feel more like a part of the web rather than something hosted on the web. The native PDF viewer is mostly ready at this point, Aurora and Beta users have been testing it for months. But Mozilla is still not quite satisfied enough to enable it by default for everyone, which is why you won't see it in Firefox 15 stable.

But the code is all there so you can give it a spin quite easily. As always, this involves digging into about:config. If you're not comfortable with that – it's not that scary really – you're probably better off waiting a few more weeks. Otherwise, go to about:config, search for "pdfjs.disabled" and set it to "false." That's it, PDF files will now open natively in Firefox. Note that not all files will be supported and not all PDF features will work. If that's the case, you can always open the files with external readers.

Click-to-play plugins
The second hidden feature is equally interesting. Google Chrome has had a "click-to-play" plugins feature since last year. Granted, you need to know where to look for it since it's not enabled by default. Now, Firefox is getting one as well, but it's a bit rougher around the edges which is why you won't see it in the preferences dialog.

You will find in in about:config though. Search for "plugins.click_to_play" and set it to "true." As the name suggests, click-to-play plugins enables users to only load plugins when they need them. This frees up memory and can help with slowdowns. Annoying ads will be gone too.

PDF viewer in Firefox 15
Image credits to Mozilla

Samsung Series 5 and 7 AIO Systems

The Korean giant is getting ready with three new all-in-one (AIO) computer systems for the up-and-coming Windows 8 launch this autumn. The new devices feature FullHD screens with 10-point multi touch support.

There are three new systems announced today by Samsung. The first one is a 27” AIO computer powered by Intel’s Core i7-3770T Ivy Bridge processor running at a standard 2500 MHz frequency with the optional capability of reaching an impressive 3700 MHz when Turbo is activated. This is a HT-enabled CPU from Intel that has 4 real cores and is able to handle 8 threads at a time. It comes with a huge 8 MB level 3 cache and a HD4000 iGPU. The maximum TDP is a modest 45 watts, and this leaves room for AMD’s Radeon HD 7850M mobile GPU to show its prowess. The second system presented by the Korean company today is the 23” member of the new Series 7 AIO family that’s built around Intel Core i5-3470T CPU.

This is a dual-core processor running at a default 2900 MHz frequency with a Turbo option of 3600 MHz and the ability to handle four threads by using Intel’s HyperThreading technology. The level 3 cache is a modest 3 MB and the iGPU is a handicapped HD 2500 iGPU. The TDP value will not go beyond the 35-watt mark, but unfortunately there is no discrete GPU to improve the 3D performance. The last AIO system announced by Samsung is a 21.5” model member of the Series 5 family that is powered by Intel Core i3-3220T processor running at a default 2800 MHz with no Turbo option. This is also a HT-enabled CPU that features a HD 2500 iGPU and has a modest 25-watt TDP.

All the new systems come with a 1.3 MP webcam featuring a special software that recognizes hand gestures, and they also have rather good integrated 14-watt speakers. The wireless keyboard and mouse will come next to a remote control and the rest of the connectivity is handled by two USB 3.0 ports, three USB 2.0 connectors, a HDMI port and a 3-in-1 card reader along with the usual Gigabit LAN, WirelessN and Bluetooth 4.0 HS. A Super Multi ODD is also present on all systems and the availability is slated for October 26, 2012, while the products are priced at $1700 (€1360) for the 27”, $1100 (€880) for the 23” Series 7 models and $750 (€600) for the 21.5” Series 5 model.

Samsung Series 7 and Series 5 AIO systems
Images credits to Samsung

Intel Haswell Price Starts at $184 (€147), Availability in Q2 2013

Intel is getting ready for the Haswell launch slated for next spring and it seems the company has even decided on the pricing of the future offerings. The most affordable Haswell CPU at launch will be priced at $184 (€147) and will require a new mainboard sporting an LGA socket with 1150 pins.

Intel is moving up from dual-cores to quad-cores when it comes to this market sector and the rumored price mark closely corresponds with what AMD is currently charging for its fastest Bulldozer desktop processor, Fudzilla reports. The semiconductor giant is apparently rushing the Haswell launch and this move is likely caused by AMD’s Trinity and its graphics capabilities.

Intel HD 4000 iGPUs are quite capable, but they’re still inferior to the competition and the company wants to be able to offer a completely superior product ahead of AMD Richland launch.

Intel Haswell CPU
Image credits to Intel

Giada i35V MiniPC with SSD and HDD, mSATA boot drive

The new book-sized PC like Giada likes to call it, is powered by Intel’s Atom D2500 low-power processor and, despite the fact that we would have liked it to come with a Brazos 2.0 inside, the system will apparently be pretty fast.

The new device is called i35V and uses a fast combination between an mSATA SSD and a normal HDD as the storage solution. The official page lists a 16GB mSATA SSD drive as a feature, but on the specification sheet a normal 320GB HDD is mentioned. We don’t know if the HDD is included, as the price is really modest, but we’re sure at least the mSATA drive will be present. The dual storage system will make the i35V very fast and the 2GB DDR3-1066 DIMM can be replaced with a 4GB version for even better performance. There are no less than five USB ports present on the Giada i35V but, unfortunately, all of these are USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 is not even optional. On the connectivity side, Giada’s new SFF system is endowed with one HDMI port, one VGA connector, one SPDIF-out, a standard RJ45 Gigabite LAN port and the required DC power jack along with the two audio jacks and the WirelessN controller.

The maximum rated power consumption for the system is 24 watts, but we believe this is an average value, as a 35-watt power consumption is more likely. The system can ship with the optional Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium operating system from Microsoft and a useful wireless remote controller is also available as an option. There is also a card reader compatible with SD, MMC, MS, and MS Pro formats inside the new Giada SFF system and, if the reported price is correct, this will be a best-seller.

Giada i35V SFF system with mSATA boot drive
Image credits to Giada

AMD Jaguar Presented Today

The Hot Chips conference is taking place right now; there, AMD is introducing the new Jaguar APU architecture that's going to replace the current Bobcat cores in the company’s low-power APUs. The new design brings considerably increased IPC (instructions per clock) capabilities along with support for new compute instructions.

We already know that some of the new instruction sets that will come inside AMD’s new microprocessor design are AVX, BMI, SSE 4.2 and AES. Jaguar will be quite different from Bobcat, as it will likely have a unified 2MB cache and will probably use AMD’s second-generation GCN architecture. The thing is that Jaguar in itself is the x86 processing core design that will be integrated in the upcoming Kabini and Temash APUs.

The company will be free to pair the new Jaguar cores with VLIW iGPUs or GCN-based graphics. The x86 computing cores will be seriously modified. The IPC will be increased and the company will add support for TBM instructions.

AMD Ontario Die Shot
Image credits to Anandtech

Here Are the 8 Samsung Devices that Apple Wants to be Banned in the US Market

Apple has released a preliminary list of the Samsung devices it believes are infringing its patents.

After being vindicated by Judge Lucy Koh on Friday, Apple has filed a notice with the court identifying which Samsung products it wants banned in the United States. The devices are the Galaxy S 4G, the Galaxy S2 (AT&T), the Galaxy S2 (Skyrocket), the Galaxy S2 (T-Mobile), the Galaxy S2 Epic 4G, the Galaxy S Showcase, the Droid Charge, and the Galaxy Prevail, according to The Verge reports.

There's also a preliminary injunction on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 set in place. The Korean electronics vendor has asked the court to clear this device of any charges arguing that the jury didn't believe Samsung tablets infringed Apple's patents relating to design.

Samsung Galaxy S2
Image credits to samsunggalaxys2review.org

Intel ValleyView with 700% iGPU Performance Ready in Q4 2013

Many SFF and silent computing enthusiasts are eagerly waiting for Intel to upgrade its Atom line of CPUs and the corresponding platforms, but the company doesn’t seem to be ready with the new 22 nm chips. The current Atom processors are manufactured in 32 nm technology and have considerably lower performance than AMD’s Brazos 2.0 APUs.

Some of us were wondering why AMD would name Brazos 2.0 a platform upgrade, when it only brings USB 3.0 support in some case and less than 5% faster APUs. The simple reason for this seems to be the fact that the competition isn’t doing any better, so there’s no reason for AMD to dedicate resources towards this sector. The Texan fabless CPU designer already rules 44% of the low- to mid-end desktop market using Llano and Brazos as the fighting tools, and if Intel is not able to bring anything better on the battlefield, AMD is not going to reach for the aces up its sleeve. It seems like the semiconductor giant has been too busy working on its smartphone Atom version and that the rest of the market sectors were pretty much ignored.

The smartphone initiative proved to be a complete failure for Intel as the “latest and greatest” Atom chip from the company is only able to fight last year’s competition and, by the time the next generation will be launched, the ARM competition will be two generations ahead. We don’t really see the reason for Intel to neglect the Atom market completely in 2012 and most of 2013, but this may have to do with the fact that the company’s low power 22 nm manufacturing is not yet ready and that there is no point in launching faster Atoms if the iGPU performance would be inferior to AMD’s APUs. The main improvement in the true next-generation Atom SoC will be the iGPU. Sure, there will be quad-core SoCs because the 22 nm manufacturing would allow such density on a small die size, but the main concern for Intel was graphics performance and that’s exactly were Intel did most of the work.

The slides uncovered by hardware experts at EXPreview show that Intel plays down the x86 performance improvement saying that it’s only “improved over previous generations.” When it comes to the integrated graphics processing unit (iGPU), the company touts a 400% to 700% performance improvement, and that’s no small feat. This puts Intel’s new Atom clearly ahead of Brazos’ 3D capabilities, and the two to four x86 cores are certainly going to perform better than AMD’s current 40 nm APUs. The thing is that AMD is already working on a GCN-imbued Jaguar APU architecture that will likely be ready next spring, so the competition will have at least a six months head start on Intel.

Intel Atom SilverThorne DieShot
Image credits to Intel

Intel ValleyView Slide
Image credits to Expreview

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