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Sep 20, 2012

Intel Admits ARM’s Method Is the Best One

During this year’s IDF event in San Francisco, California, Intel has clearly displayed the company’s new focus on mobile and low power technologies and computing solutions. Seeing just how bad its low power attempts behave in the face of ARM competition, Intel is now taking the British IP designer as an example.

The company’s Chief Technological Officer, Mr. Justin Ratner had a conversation with journalists from TheInquirer.net and commented on the concept as follows:

"The other kind of heterogeneity we have seen on the ARM side is general purpose processors but smaller, slower ones and larger, more powerful ones and moving the workloads around when there is more stuff to do - that is another area of interest for Intel. Obviously operating systems must help there. Most operating systems tend to think all the cores are the same, but they are not in that case."

The company is now thinking of integrating low-power in-order (IO) computing cores like Atom inside powerful x86 out-of-order (OOO) desktop processors like Haswell or Broadwell, The Inquirer reports. We’re glad Intel is finally admitting that their solution is not really the best one available and we can only hope that the company will give up the huge prices of its new Clover Trail platform. In our opinion, you’re free to overprice your product as much as you like, but make sure it offers the best performance and features before you do. Haswell will be available in 10W implementations next year already.

As a 9W Atom is maybe ten times slower, we don’t really see Intel’s possible approach bringing impressive results anytime soon, but it’s good to see that, at least from ARM, some really tough competition is now available. On the other hand, AMD is also getting ready with some heterogeneous solutions that integrate ARM cores inside AMD’s Fusion APUs and the company is already working on this for quite some time now.

Intel Atom Low Power Processors
Image credits to gizmodo

The iOS 6 Maps App Is Not Working as Expected

Apple is going to have some trouble explaining why, in the iOS 6 Maps app, the town of Hagley in the U.K. is now called Dudley, or why there’s an incorrectly-placed airfield in Dublin, or why the Flyover view sometimes shows images of another dimension.

These are just a few reports from several high-profile publications across the globe where early adopters of Apple’s iOS 6 operating system have discovered a faulty Maps application. For example, the Irish Times published a story according to which Apple's Maps app has incorrectly placed a new airfield in Dublin. Minister of Justice, Alan Shatter, actually took the time to write a letter to Apple, in which he said, “I know on occasion mistakes can be made and I am surprised to discover that Airfield, which is the centre of my constituency in Dundrum, has, in Apple's new operating system iOS 6 maps application, been designated with the image of an aircraft.” NorthScotNews reports that Apple's new Maps sent Scotland "back to the dark ages," arguing that areas such as Inverness, Thurso, Tain, Nairn, and Ullapool show up in black and white when viewed from the satellite.

Japan is quite affected as well, going by this stream of images on tumblr. The Flyover view is certainly not what Apple promised it to be. At least not every time the customer taps the 3D button. And, according to the BBC the new application renamed a town in the UK from Hagley to Dudley. To Apple’s defence, Dudley is but a mile away. However, the company promotes the new Maps application as the flagship feature of iOS 6 with turn-by-turn navigation capabilities and integration with Siri, the voice-enabled assistant. No one would trust a mapping service that’s off by a mile, we reckon. To be noted that Apple’s iOS 6 Maps application is Apple’s, not Google’s. The two giants broke off all mapping ties, and even their YouTube license, when iOS 6 debuted.

It has been speculated that Google might attempt to release a new dedicated maps application for iOS customers. However, Apple would have to approve it in its App Store for customers to download it.

iOS 6 Maps app issues explained by a disappointed customer
Image credits to theamazingios6maps.tumblr.com

The 3D view acting up
Image credits to theamazingios6maps.tumblr.com

GlobalFoundries Starts 14nm-XM 3D FinFET Manufacturing

Intel’s 14nm Broadwell processor has already taped out at the company and is able to run Windows, but we were wondering if the rest of the semiconductor manufacturers are left behind at 28nm.

Abu Dhabi company ATIC and its GlobalFoundries subsidiary don’t seem to be content with 28nm manufacturing and the Arabian funds have been put to good use. GlobalFoundries are already manufacturing 64-core processors as we reported here and also AMD's future Piledriver CPUs that we reported here. We knew that the foundry is hard at work in its 20nm manufacturing line, but today GlobalFoundries is announcing that its 14nm low-power manufacturing process is almost ready.

Moreover, the company is ready with 3D FinFET transistors and test chips manufactured using this process are already available right now. The 14nm process at GlobalFoundries combines 20nm elements with transistors that are only 14nm big and the plan is to focus on mobile applications. In fact, 14nm-XM is short for 14nm "eXtreme Mobility." Therefore, Intel's main competitor, AMD is not really that much behind the semiconductor giant.

ATIC Headquarters
Image credits to Wikipedia

HTC Goes for Nokia’s Polycarbonate Design for Windows Phone 8

Taiwanese mobile phone maker HTC Corporation will bring to the market at least two Windows Phone 8 handsets, both of which have been officially unveiled yesterday.

Both the Windows Phone 8X and the 8S sport the same colorful, polycarbonate design as Nokia has packed its Lumia smartphones with, though they feature a variety of unique elements as well. You can have a look at the video embedded above to learn more on the design principles behind HTC’s Windows Phone 8 devices.

According to some, the resemblance with Nokia’s handsets is too great. This YouTube user believes so – *though you should be warned of his use of explicit words. Not for the faint-hearted, that’s for sure. Of course, with the same UI on the display, Windows Phones do resemble a lot, but the choice of colors and outer design should differentiate devices from different vendors.

HTC designed the Windows Phone 8X and 8S to blend the virtual and the physical utilizing a three dimensional, unibody-style based on the Windows Phone Live Tiles.  These smartphones are perfectly sculpted with a dramatic taper making them feel thin in your hand. Learn more about these iconic phones at www.htc.com.
Video credits to HTC

Intel to Officially Enable Better Overclocking in Haswell

Once Intel has moved to Sandy Bridge, the overclocking options that were available to the user were suddenly dramatically diminished. Ivy Bridge only brought worse results, but now the company seems to have decided to improve the situation for the mid-range enthusiasts.

We were unpleasantly surprised by Intel’s decision to use low-quality thermal interface material (TIM) underneath the integrated heat spreader (IHS) on the new Ivy Bridge processors. This decision alone led to working temperatures that were at least 10 degrees Celsius higher than what could have been if the company had used a higher quality substance. The same low-quality compound is used on the company’s Xeon processors and this literally left us wondering if Intel will ever manufacture processors with decent overclocking abilities. We don’t know what TIM the company will use on the new Haswell CPUs and we can only hope that it will get back to fluxless soldering of the HIS directly on the CPU’s top.

The news today is that Intel is preparing to introduce several new settings that will help the user overclock the CPU easier and with better results, XbitLabs reports. Haswell will actually support variable DMICLK/BCLK ratios that now are only supported by the high-end desktop (HEDT) LGA2011 platform. This is a step in the right direction from Intel and we hope that it won’t be the only one. Right now, the only way to overclock LGA1155 processors is to buy a “K” processor that will allow you to change the multiplier, but the performance results might not be as impressive as a combined overclocking method might offer.

When the user is allowed to choose for itself what BUS frequency and what multiplier offers the best performance jump, overclocking gets back to normal on Intel platforms.

Intel Core i7 Marketing Shot
Image credits to Intel

Spider 3.0 HDMI to USB 3.0 adapter, Support Up to 6 Monitors

It took a while until we managed to decipher the details, but the Spider 3.0 adapter from Area Powers Japan really is an HDMI to USB 3.0 adapter, not the opposite.

Since video is now supported over the Universal Serial Bus 3.0 SuperSpeed interface, monitors connected through that interface, instead of HDMI, DVI or VGA, have begun to appear. We don't think there are enough of them to warrant special adapters, but Area Powers disagrees, having released an HDMI to USB 3.0 converter that ships with a DVI to HDMI adapter to boot.

Capable of a top resolution of 2048 x 1152 pixels, the adapter can send video and audio to up to six monitors at once. Speaking of which, the product can both handle individual streams and spread the same image across all six panels. Sales of the Spider 3.0 will begin in early October 2012, for 5,480 Yen, which translates into $70 / 54 Euro.

Spider 3.0 HDMI to USB 3.0 adapter
Images credits to Area Powers

Compaq Pro 6305 Desktop System Powered by AMD Trinity APUs

AMD’s Trinity APUs are getting closer and closer to an official launch for the white box market, but they have already been available for the big system builders for quite a while now. Today HP is launching the Compaq Pro 6305 desktop system that’s powered by the new APUs.

This is a mid- to low-end business solution with serious 3D graphics capabilities when compared with Intel’s HD4000 and if Intel’s HD2500 is the comparison term, AMD’s Trinity will certainly pleasantly surprise the buyer. The new systems are available in both a small form factor and a microtower, so the buyer has the choice for a space-saving footprint or the extra connectivity and expandability options of a traditional desktop. The mainboard has one PCIe x16 (Gen 2) graphics slot, two PCIe x1 (Gen 2) slots, and a single PCI 32-Bit (v2.3) expansion slot. The Compaq Pro 6305 desktop system comes with Windows 7 pre-installed, but a Windows 8 version will be available at a later date.

It is capable of supporting up to 32GB while it has four USB 2.0 ports, a headphone output, and a microphone jack in the front. Strangely, HP has decided that there’s no need for front facing USB 3.0 ports. On its rear, the Compaq Pro 6305 desktop system has four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a serial port, PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports, an RJ-45 network interface, DisplayPort and VGA ports, and the usual 3.5mm HD audio jacks. The Compaq Pro 6305 desktop system supports AMD A10, A8, A6, or A4 APUs and it also features AMD Turbo Core 3.0 technology. Availability is set for October 8, 2012 while the pricing is slated at $539 (413 EUR).

Compaq Pro 6305 desktop system powered by AMD Trinity APUs
Images credits to HP

RIM BlackBerry 10 L-Series Device Teardown

Several months are expected to pass before Research In Motion makes its first BlackBerry 10 smartphones official, yet one of these devices has already got the teardown treatment.

This is the same BlackBerry 10 L-series smartphone that has been spotted online lately, and which is expected to arrive on shelves in the first quarter of the next year. There are not too many new details provided on the hardware specifications of this device, but we can still make an idea of what it sports inside, courtesy of images posted on BisVn. The handset will be released as a full-touch smartphone, with the capacitive screen covering its entire front. RIM is working on QWERTY-enabled BlackBerry 10 smartphones as well, but they are said to be launched only several weeks after this L-series phone lands.

The pristine IPS display will hide beneath it a dual-core processor of not yet known frequency. The phone’s RAM and ROM should be a match for it, we can assume. In addition to the photo snapper on the back, the new device should sport a front camera for making video calls as well. The back camera is said to sport auto-focus features, and to be able to take one shot per second. Moreover, it would be able to take up to 10 facial expressions for the same picture, enabling users to scroll back and choose the one they like the most. RIM’s BlackBerry 10 smartphone will be released in two color flavors, black and white. According to CrackBerry, those who played with the phone suggest that the white version looks awesome.

One thing that is certain is that RIM indeed needs to make it right with its upcoming BlackBerry 10 devices, otherwise it would fall far behind Android, iOS and even Windows Phone. By the looks of it, they will indeed come up with a great new smartphone in the first quarter of the next year. Keep an eye on this space for more info on the matter.

RIM BlackBerry 10 L-Series
Images credits to BisVN via CrackBerry

Indian CERT Need 400,000 Experts to Address Cybersecurity Issues

In an interview with Business Standard, Gulshan Rai - the director general of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) – stated that in order to properly address cybersecurity issues, the country needed around 400,000 experts.

“Currently, we have just about 32,000 skilled people. We need people to address aspects like technology procurement and legal issues, and train the police and the judiciary in understanding the cyber segment,” Rai said. He also revealed the fact that the attacks launched by cybercriminals against government websites had not only intensified, but their nature had also changed. More recently, attackers have focused on stealing information and using the compromised websites as a medium for other campaigns.

The director also talked about Anonymous and their hacktivist operations. He admitted that they managed to slow down his organization’s systems by launching distributed denial-of-service attacks, but claimed that they had never penetrated their networks.

Indian CERT claims that they need 400,000 experts to address all cybersecurity issues
Image credits to cert-in.org.in

AMD Prepares Sea, Volcanic and Pirates Islands GPUs Family

We've known of the Sea Islands GPU family for quite some time, and that the marketing name for graphics cards based on them will be Radeon HD 8000. We didn't actually know much about the chips that would come afterwards though.

AMD decided, back in 2008-2009, to use Island names for the graphics processing units released over the next several years, until 2016. AMD's 7000 series, for example, is powered by Southern Islands GPUs (Tahiti, Pitcairn, and Cape Verde), while the 8000 boasts Sea Islands (we detailed the Oland and Oland Pro just three days ago). The Volcanic Islands will succeed Sea Islands in 2014, and they may be the most important of the Islands-themed chips. Whereas Oland brings architectural changes but no major performance boosts, the Volcanic Islands will be the first GPU family possible to manufacture in Common Platform Alliance as well as TSMC. In other words, AMD will have alternatives to TSMC's GigaFab Hsinchu/Taichung: IBM East Fishkill, GlobalFoundries in New York and Dresden or Samsung in Austin. Thus, there should be no chip shortage crippling its marketing performance anymore.

The Volcanic Islands GPUs will be designed on the 20nm Gate-Last manufacturing process and will bring silicon-level integration. The discrete GPU will tightly collaborate with the graphics capabilities of the APU, and the CPU will be treated as “an integral part” as well. The main foils will be Intel second-gen Xeon Phi and NVIDIA Maxwell. As for 2015, that will be the year of the Pirates Islands, tributes to legendary figures like Blackbeard, Captain Hook and, probably, Captain Jack Sparrow. AMD is already designing the units, based on the 14nm manufacturing process, but that's all anyone knows (or, in the case of VR-Zone, can say) at this point. We'll be sure to follow up on this if we get the chance.

AMD Radeon Graphics logo
Image credits to AMD

Qualcomm Adreno 320 Beats Tegra 3 by 250% in GLBenchmark

Not many were expecting AMD’s old low-power Radeon technology to eventually beat Nvidia’s top performing Tegra 3. Qualcomm has worked really hard on their Adreno series of mobile iGPUs, but the customers still view them as the second best to Nvidia’s mobile GeForce.

Once Qualcomm’s Adreno 320 hits the market this month, things are going to change quite dramatically. We know that Nvidia has no plans to release Tegra 4 this year and this means that, at least for the back-to-school season and the winter holydays, Qualcomm will actually have the most powerful mobile GPU on the market. Hardware experts at Anandtech.com have managed to test LG’s Optimus G phone, which is powered by Qualcomm’s APQ 8064 quad-core Krait mobile processor and also sports the new Adreno 320 iGPU. A quick test in the well-known GLBenchmark has revealed that the new mobile GPU from Qualcomm is over two and a half times faster than Nvidia’s mobile GeForce inside Tegra 3.

Sure, the new chip is built in 28nm technology, but the thing is that Qualcomm did not clock the iGPU at a high frequency to get an impressive performance. Instead, the company went for a moderate frequency that leads to better battery life and even so, it manages to beat Nvidia’s Tegra 3. On the other hand, Imagination Technologies might see its Rogue IP implemented before this year’s end and then Adreno 320 will finally have some real competition even before the Tegra 4 launch. Tegra 4 is expected in 2013 and the projected performance goal is to be around ten times faster than the current Tegra 3.

Qualcomm SnapDragon Logo
Image credits to Qualcomm

Qualcomm Adreno 320 iGPU Inside the APQ 8064 SoC
Images credits to AnandTech

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