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Sep 23, 2013

PCI Express over Optical Cable, PLX Demos 32 Gbps Transfer Rates

When someone says PCI Express, anyone who knows anything about computers will think about those slots on motherboards, used for graphics cards and other add-in-boards. PCIe technology has been used differently in recent years, however, and now we see it work over optical cables, of all things.

In the end, the PCI Express interface standard is one that defines how data is moved through certain media. Adding one more medium shouldn't come as such a big shock. Still, for those used to motherboards and the like, it may very well be. Anyway, PLX Technology, an expert in PCI Express (PCIe) silicon and software connectivity, teamed up with FCI, a manufacturer of connectors and interconnect systems, for PCIe over optical cabling. A demo was held at the 39th European Conference on Optical Communications (ECOC) event, held from 23-25 September in London, U.K. There, FCI's new mini-SAS high-density (MSHD) active optical cable (AOC) delivered 32Gbps (PCIe Gen3, x4) optical connectivity in a small form factor.

"To be effective and meet the needs of a wide range of PCI Express users, these solutions must possess what we call the 'triple threat' connectivity option - copper, optical and AOC," said Reginald Conley, vice president, applications engineering, PLX. "In doing so, the widest range of performance and cost metrics can be met, and Mini-SAS HD has the potential to be one such solution." During the demonstration, a PLX PCIe switch card connected to a PLX five-bay PCIe expansion card through a standard MSHD connector and FCI's new MSHD AOC (SAS-based I/O system with SAS 2.1 6 Gbos and SAS 3 12 Gbps support, per channel).

In such setups, PCIe adapters, SSDs, NIC cards and any other connected devices interact with the main motherboard/server as if they were actually installed in an internal PCI Express slot. With this, engineers can develop system solutions for PCI Express even using unusual cabling, while engineers have a chance to see what performance gains can be achieved in networking, communications and high-performance computing (supercomputers as it were).

Image credits to FCI

BlackBerry Agrees on Acquisition by Canadian Fairfax Financial Consortium for $4.7 Billion (€3.5 Billion)

Canadian Fairfax Financial consortium has just announced it has agreed to purchase BlackBerry handset maker for $4.7 billion (€3.5 billion).

BlackBerry confirmed today it has signed a letter of intent agreement under which its shareholders would receive $9 in cash for each share of BlackBerry share they hold. Fairfax Financial already owns approximately 10 percent of BlackBerry's common shares and plans to contribute the shares of BlackBerry it currently holds into the transaction. “The Special Committee is seeking the best available outcome for the Company's constituents, including for shareholders. Importantly, the go-shop process provides an opportunity to determine if there are alternatives superior to the present proposal from the Fairfax consortium,” said Barbara Stymiest, Chair of BlackBerry's Board of Directors.

If the transaction is successful this could mean BlackBerry will go private. If both parties agree to these terms the deal could be signed by November 4. For the time being BlackBerry’s stock is currently halted and according to Wall Street it could begin trading again soon starting at $8.23. This could be a great move from BalckBerry, as the company has just announced the layoff of 4,500 employees and around $1 billion (€741 million) losses. The botched launch of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) for iOS and Android that should have take place last weekend was probably the last major event the Canadian smartphone company held this year. We will keep an eye out for any additional info on this deal so stay tuned for more updates on the matter.

“We believe this transaction will open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry, its customers, carriers and employees. We can deliver immediate value to shareholders, while we continue the execution of a long-term strategy in a private company with a focus on delivering superior and secure enterprise solutions to BlackBerry customers around the world,” concluded Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax.

BlackBerry logo
Image credits to Blackberry

BlackBerry Kopi, an Entry-Level BlackBerry 10 Smartphone

Canadian mobile phone maker BlackBerry has already confirmed plans to launch entry-level handsets in the not too distant future, and details on one of its upcoming devices are now available.

The phone, supposedly codenamed BlackBerry Kopi, will arrive on the market with a price tag set below BlackBerry Q5’s mark, though it will sport a faster processor, BGR reports. The handset is also said to have a removable battery inside, but will not feature LTE connectivity when released.

No specific release date for the device has been unveiled as of now, though it might not be too long before BlackBerry makes the smartphone official. Until more details on this cheap mobile phone become available, have a look at its outer design, courtesy of the photo above. Stay tuned for more info on the matter.

BlackBerry Kopi
Image credits to BGR

Nokia to Launch 6-Inch Lumia 1520 in October

Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia has been long rumored to plan the release of a large Windows Phone 8 smartphone in October, and new reports on the matter converge towards the same idea.

According to a recent article on DigiTimes, industry sources have confirmed Nokia’s plans to launch a 6-inch Windows Phone 8 device next month. The handset, supposedly called Lumia 1520, should arrive on the market with Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 GDR3 platform release loaded on top.

With the launch of BlackBerry Z30 last week, Nokia becomes one of the few smartphone makers to have not launched a large smartphone as of now. However, the release of Lumia 1520 will change that, and will provide the company with the possibility to tap into territories it hasn’t visited before.

Nokia Lumia 1520
Image credits to The Verge

Oppo N1 Full Specifications and Photo Gallery

Today, Chinese mobile phone maker Oppo announced the N1, its latest flagship smartphone, which will arrive on shelves with a wide range of appealing features and capabilities packed inside.

This is the first device included in the company’s N-Lens flagship series, packed with a large screen, rotating camera, rear touch panel, and an appealing design. The main selling point of the new handset will be its 13-megapixel camera, which can be rotated 206 degrees, and which also sports six physical lenses, an upgraded type 1/3.06 imaging module, and f/2.0 wide aperture. The camera also comes with a special light-diffusing LED flash design, and can boot from sleeping mode in only 0.6 seconds via a simple 120° rotation. 

Oppo N1 also boasts a 5.9-inch IPS display capable of delivering a 1080p Full HD resolution, as well as a 1.7 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor inside. The large touchscreen is complemented by a 12 cm2 rear touch panel called O-Touch, which was designed to facilitate one-handed operations on the device. It enables users to easily scroll, tap, or snap photos. Furthermore, the new mobile phone comes with 2GB of RAM and 16GB / 32GB of internal memory. It also sports Adreno 320 graphics and a 3610mAh battery for longer usage times.

The smartphone was unveiled with 5G Wi-Fi 802.11 ac connectivity, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi Display, GPS receiver, and USB OTG. Additionally, it comes with Distance sensor, Light sensor, G-sensor, and 4D Gyroscope. Announced with support for GSM: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900MHz and WCDMA: 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100MHz networks, Oppo N1 measures 170.7 x 82.6 x 9 mm, weighs 213 grams, and comes dressed up in White.

The handset will start shipping in early December with Oppo’s own Color OS platform loaded on top (based on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean). The phone will arrive on the international market with the option to flash CyanogenMod directly from stock recovery. On top of that, Oppo announced that it would release a limited Oppo N1 CyanogenMod Edition with the popular Android software pre-installed right from the start. Thus, it will become the first CyanogenMod hardware product in the world.

In addition to N1, those who purchase the device will receive the O-Click Bluetooth remote in the package, so as to be able to operate the N1 camera from a distance. O-Click connects to the handset via Bluetooth LE and can interact with it from a range of up to 50 meters. Photos gallery below, just click for larger images.

Oppo N1
Images credits to Oppo

Oppo N1 Goes Official with 5.9-Inch Screen and Rotating 13MP Camera

Today, Chinese mobile phone maker Oppo officially announced the latest addition to its lineup of high-end smartphones, namely the Oppo N1.

The new handset went official during a special press event held in Beijing, China, which was streamed live over the Internet. The device was announced with a large 5.9-inch touchscreen display that can deliver a full HD resolution, and which sports a pixel density of 373 pixels per inch. The new mobile phone features Oppo’s own Color OS loaded on top, and the usual three capacitive Android keys placed beneath the display, namely back, home, and menu. The smartphone comes to the market with a 13-megapixel camera with dual LED flash and an f/2.0 aperture, which is paired with Oppo’s Owl imaging processor.

The most interesting aspect of the device is the fact that the entire camera module can rotate up to 206 degrees, which means that it can also be used as a front camera. The sensor comes with a 6-lens design. The Oppo N1 also comes with a special touch-sensitive area on the back called O-Touch, which enables users to control the device through performing various gestures, including swipes, long-presses, or double taps. Additionally, the smartphone comes with a special accessory, O-Click, which works as a remote controller for the camera, and which can be operated from up to 50 meters away from the device.

On top of that, Oppo announced the new N1 with 16GB / 32GB options of internal memory, as well as with a 3610mAh battery packed inside. The smartphone sports Wi-Fi connectivity inside as well, along with Bluetooth, NFC, and the like. It also comes with support for USB On-The-Go (OTG), Oppo announced. There will be two official ROMs available for the new mobile phone, one of them bring Oppo’s proprietary Color OS, while the other being the previously rumored CyanogenMod software. Oppo also unveiled that the new Oppo N1 would hit shelves in China with a price tag of 3,498 Yuan ($571 / €423) attached to it. The smartphone will become available for purchase in early December.

Oppo N1
Images credits to Oppo

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 "Cheaper Version" in the Works, Launching in November

This is not the first time we hear about Samsung planning to release a much cheaper version of Galaxy Note 3 in emerging markets.

Back in August, sources close to the matter claimed Samsung would launch an affordable Galaxy Note 3 in several countries in order to boost its sales. Today, Sammobile reports new details on the unannounced phablet emerged and point to an imminent launch of a cheaper Samsung Galaxy Note 3 model.

According to Sammobile citing ETNews, the cheaper Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will sport a 5.5-inch LCD capacitive touchscreen display instead of the Super AMOLED screen included with the original model, as well as an 8-megapixel main camera. We can expect this affordable Galaxy Note 3 to go on sale in countries like India and China at some point in November. Stay tuned for more updates on the matter.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 shipping manifest
Image credits to SamMobile

Secret 3G Radio in Every Intel vPro CPU Could Steal Your Data at Any Time

We wonder if anyone expected this, but we suppose Intel had to drop a bomb at some point. And what better way to secure your spot on the enterprise 2-in-1 laptop, tablet and mobile workstation market, than by giving all of those PCs 3G support?

Hilariously enough, Intel has created one of the most sought after technologies without letting anyone know about it. Basically, all Intel vPro CPUs (which include new mobile Core i5 and Core i7 chips) have an undocumented 3G chip inside. That chip is visible to the 3G network, even when the PC is not powered on. Freelancer Jim Stone has just discovered the secret (or so he says), and according to him, the 3G is part of a second physical processor embedded within the main one. Said second CPU has its own embedded operating system and can be woken up at any time because the “phantom” power of the system is always there to draw upon. In other words, the secret 3G chip can act as a backdoor, complete with wake-on-LAN and wake-on-mobile. Which is to say, the computer can be turned on remotely through this undocumented 3G radio.

Intel actually embedded the 3G radio chip in order to enable its Anti Theft 3.0 technology. And since that technology is found on every Core i3/i5/i7 CPU after Sandy Bridge, that means a lot of CPUs, not just new vPro, might have a secret 3G connection nobody knew about until now. Sadly, Jim Stone doesn't actually provide any evidence for this, so we can either take him at his word or not think about any of this, seeing as how we can't really do anything about it even if it's true. On the one hand, it might all be fake. On the other hand, Intel may very well have integrated a secret ARM chip with always-on 3G on its vPro chips, but no one knows because the NSA forbid the disclosure of this info in order to have a backdoor into every computer. For security reasons of course.

Some will definitely argue that it's all for the sake of easy IT administration, but there will always be naysayers that will think this sort of thing exists so the hidden autocrats of our world can steal ideas from the hardworking little man. In the end, it all boils down to how suspicious and paranoid each person is about the people living in the higher echelons of our society.

Intel Core vPro Core i7 CPU might be just a little thief
Image credits to Intel

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