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Sep 16, 2012

Motorola 18.5” Android Cloud Computer

Motorola has apparently designed and manufactured the world’s first “cloud computer.” The device itself is an ARM powered tablet with a generous 18.5” display that also comes with a wireless mouse and keyboard.

The huge tablet was designed for a Chinese cable TV company and the official naming is Motorola HMC3260. Motorola’s new system is running the famous Android operating system and it is powered by a single-chip solution that’s designed by Freescale. The Freescale i.MX535 is based on ARM’s Cortex A8 architecture and runs at a modest 1 GHz.

The RAM memory is only 1 GB while the storage is handled by 4 GB of flash. Motorola’s HMC3260 sports a touchscreen with a basic 1366 by 768 pixel resolution while the Android version used is not the expected Jelly Bean, but Android 2.3.4. The new system is an interesting concept and we’re eager to see what level of market success it will achieve.

Motorola HMC3260 "Cloud Computer" Powered by ARM and Android
Image credits to ixbt

Intel Knights Corner Burns 258W at Idle

Intel may claim that its Xeon Phi GPU compute accelerator cards are powering the world’s most efficient HPC data center, but the reality is that the efficiency is not coming from the Knights Corner architecture at all.

During this year’s IDF event in San Francisco, California, the company has displayed a few systems powered by the new architecture and the power consumption numbers are not rosy at all. We’ve detailed here that the efficiency in data centers is mainly dependent on intelligent cooling systems as well as on an efficient computing architecture. Intel’s new x86 based Xeon Phi is just as efficient as AMD’s old VLIW GPU computer cards and the company itself is stating this in its presentations as we reported here. We consider this as a successful first attempt from Intel to produce a capable and efficient GPU compute accelerator, but this is hardly a fitted competitor for Nvidia’s K20 or AMD’s GCN.

In an interesting development, hardware experts at Semiaccurate.com have managed to snatch some pictures of Intel’s Xeon Phi demonstrations at IDF 2012 and the power consumption numbers revealed makes us wonder about the touted “efficiency.” Intel’s Xeon Phi, in its 56-core version, consumes an amazing 258 watts when idling, SemiAccurate reports. There are two cards in the displayed system and one is reported as consuming “just” 190 watts when sitting at idle. That’s a huge amount considering that AMD’s VLIW accelerators idle somewhere below 40 watts while the GCN generation cards have an idle below 10 watts. There are not many details available about the cards right now, but even the 58-watt difference between the two adapters, that are supposed to be absolutely the same, is making us wonder about manufacturing and yield problems with the new chip.

Intel Xeon Phi IDF 2012 Presentation
Image credits to SemiAccurate

Intel Clover Trail Stacks LPDDR2 Memory

Intel decided to increase the level of integration in the new Clover Trail platform, but the company is now also allowing stacking LPDDR2 memory chips on top of its Atom CPU and offers a unique package to the tablet maker.

In a very interesting move, the world’s largest semiconductor company is now offering the first x86 CPU with integrated LPDDR2 memory although the memory is not mounted by Intel itself. The main thing to remember is that this is not on-die integration, but on-package integration, therefore Intel is not manufacturing the memory nor is it selling it to the tablet maker.

Practically the memory chips are stacked on top of the CPU crystal and the goal is top reduce the PCB complexity, the scale of PCB routing and power consumption. Intel’s package is providing the CPU die itself, the substrate that will connect the die to the PCB and the interposer that’s necessary for connecting the LPDDR2 memory added by the tablet maker to the substrate.

Co-POP LPDDR2 Support on Intel Clovertrail
Image credits to Intel

Intel Clover Trail Reference 10” Windows8 Tablet Is 8.7mm Thin

Intel is seriously banking on Windows 8 tablets and the company clearly wants a serious piece of the tablet market pie that is going to weigh just as much as the whole PC market weighs today.

The 2012 PC market is roughly estimated to have sales reaching an impressive 390 million units while the tablet market will probably reach 100 million by the end of the year. In three to four years, the tablet market sales will reach the 400 million mark and Intel surely wants to be the beneficiary of such a development. Right now, the company’s chips are present in less than 1% of the tablets sold worldwide and this is not a likeable scenario for Intel. Once Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system will be launched during the next month, Intel will finally have an x86 tablet software platform where the company will be able to show off its chips. The initial Intel powered Windows 8 tablets are impressive to say the least. Intel’s prototype that was shown during this year’s IDF event in San Francisco, California, is only 8.7 millimeters (0.34”) thick and weighs just 600 grams.

Considering that the diagonal size is 10” and that this, as previously stated, is only a prototype, we can definitely say that Intel has done an impressive job regarding the overall platform integration. Intel’s high level of integration on the Clover Trail platform, and the final result is a mainboard that’s narrower than you palm and less than 8.5 millimeters thick. Retail devices will probably come with even slimmer designs and we’re very eager to see a design where the whole thing is made of aluminum while the backside is used as a big heatspreader. We’re glad that the company has decided to double the x86 compute capability as well as the iGPU, but we’d really like to see some 2.5 GHz models that will focus more on performance rather than power savings. We have serious doubts that a 1.6 GHz or 1.8 GHz Windows 8 tablet will actually be “fast,” so we’d like the customer to have the possibility to choose between battery life and decent performance.

Intel Clover Trail Windows 8 Reference Tablet Platform Prototype
Image credits to ixbt

Acer 11” Core i3 Windows 8 Tablet

Acer has demonstrated the Iconia W700 tablet back at Computex 2012, but the design has suffered some changes and not all of them bring good news. The initial design originally also included a ThunderBolt port that is now missing.

During this year’s IDF event in San Francisco, California, Acer has again displayed the updated W700 design. We’re very happy that tablet makers are building such powerful producs as we’re passionate about real performance and less interested in marketing gimmicks like some battery life figure that doesn’t correspond to real life measurements. Acer’s new Core i3 powered tablet is 972 grams (2.14 pounds) heavy and almost 12 millimeters (0.47”) thick, but the company has reportedly decided against including a fast ThunderBolt port, AnandTech reports.

Such connectivity would have allowed the tablet to achieve some powerful capabilities when connected with external ThunderBolt enclosures such as ELSA Magma box that we reported here. The new tablet is powerful nevertheless, but considering that it doesn’t excel in slimness or lightness we don’t really understand Acer’s reasoning here. Despite lacking the keyboard, the weight and thickness are comparable with several UltraBooks and restricting the feature set doesn’t seem like the right idea to compensate on these downsides.

Acer Iconia W700 Windows 8 Core i3 Tablet
Image credits to AnandTech

Acer Iconia W700 Windows 8 Core i3 Tablet
Images credits to ixbt

SK Hynix 20nm DDR3L-RS DRAM with Reduced Standby Power

One of the conundrums on the DRAM market is that companies have no other way of encouraging sales than launching better and better technologies, and this, in turn, causes existing products to pile up.

SK Hynix hasn't found a solution to this problem, so it is going ahead with this “last resort” tactic. The newest press release introduces the DDR3L-RS DRAM based on 20nm manufacturing technology, The memory maker is quite bold in its assumptions, expecting and hoping that DDR3L-RS will become the best memory solution for Ultrabooks and tablets. For our part, we see a high chance of this happening. The RS in DDR3L-RS does, after all, stand for Reduced Standby power. As all DDR3L DRAM, this latest memory type runs on 1.35V. Due to the aforementioned 20nm process technology, and some optimizations, SK Hynix managed to reduce idle power by 70%. That said, DDR3L-RS chips have capacities of 2 Gb (Gigabit), 4 Gb and 8 Gb. They can be used individually in single-board computers, or any consumer electronics where modules can't be used.

SO-DIMMs (Small Outline Dual Inline Memory Module) are being made as well though, with 2 GB (gigabyte), 4 GB and 8 GB. “With the release of the new DDR3L-RS DRAM, we are now able to provide price competitive and low power products to the customers and these products will open a new area of memory semiconductor as one of the best memory solutions for the low to mid-end market,” said Mr. Ji Bum Kim, Head of Worldwide Marketing & Sales Division of SK Hynix. Analysts expect ultrabook shipments to account for 11% of all mobile PCs in 2012. The share will grow each year, until it becomes 39% in 2014 and 52% in 2015. In other words, it is a PC type expected to positively evolve over the next few years, shipment-wise, a rare thing in today's troubled economy.

SK Hynix intros 20nm DDR3L-RS
Image credits to SK Hynix

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