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Mar 25, 2014

ZTE Nubia X6 Goes Official with 6.44-Inch Screen, Snapdragon 801 CPU

Today, Chinese mobile phone maker ZTE made official a new high-end smartphone in its Nubia lineup, in the form of ZTE Nubia X6.

The handset has been rumored quite a few times before and is now fully unveiled, set to arrive on shelves in China in the not too distant future. ZTE launched the phone during a press event in Beijing, but it did not announce specific info on when the phone might become available for purchase in other markets around the world as well. Although ZTE is expected to focus mainly on the Chinese market with the release of this device, there is a chance that it would be launched in other countries as well, so as to grab some more market share. In China, the smartphone will be released in three different flavors, with 32GB, 64GB and 128GB of internal memory, priced at 2999 Yuan ($484/€350), 3499 Yuan ($564/€408), and 3999 Yuan ($645/€467), respectively. ZTE announced the new mobile phone with a 6.44-inch LCD touchscreen display on the front, capable of delivering a 1080p resolution and a 344ppi-pixel density, and with a slim, 7.9mm body.

The new Nubia Z6 is powered by a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AB processor, while being paired with 3GB of RAM, a recent article on GizChina reads. Moreover, the handset was announced with a 13-megapixel camera on the back, with an f/2.0 aperture and Optical Image Stabilization, capable of delivering great imaging capabilities. There is also a 13-megapixel camera on the front of the device, with f/2.2 aperture, which should provide users with the possibility to make high-definition video calls while on the go. Not to mention that it will allow them to snap high-quality selfies at ease. The specifications list of the new device also includes dual-SIM capabilities, along with 4G LTE and 3G connectivity capabilities, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and built-in GPS receiver.

The mobile phone will arrive in China with support for various networks in the country, including TD-LTE, FDD-LTE, EVDO, CDMA, GSM, WCDMA and TD-SDCMA. Apparently, ZTE plans on selling it unlocked, which means that users will be able to connect it to the wireless network of their choosing. Moreover, the smartphone was unveiled with noise-canceling microphones, as well as with a huge 4250mAh battery packed inside. Although ZTE Nubia X6 does not sport a microSD memory card slot, the Chinese phone maker did pack it with USB On-The-Go capabilities, so that users could easily mount flash drives.

ZTE Nubia X6
Image credits to weibo via gizchina

BlackBerry to Launch 1080p Smartphones, BlackBerry 10.3 Code Unveils

Canadian mobile phone maker BlackBerry might be preparing the launch of smartphones that would pack 1080p touchscreen displays, the latest news on the matter suggests.

Earlier this week, a BlackBerry 10.3 build leaked online for the BlackBerry Z10 smartphone, unveiling some of the new features and capabilities that the platform would pack inside when made available for download. Some of those who took their time to have a closer look at the code discovered that there is support for 1080p screen resolution included, which suggests that a handset featuring such a display might arrive on the market sooner rather than later. As PhoneArena notes, the company has been previously rumored to plan the release of high-resolution smartphones, such as the BlackBerry Windermere and Ontario. The former will supposedly arrive on the market with a QWERTY keyboard that will accompany a 1440 x 1440-pixel screen, while the latter should hit shelves with a 1080 x 1920-pixel screen.

This would be the very first BlackBerry device to arrive on the market with a full HD touchscreen display, despite the fact that rival platforms can already be found loaded on devices with such capabilities. However, with no official confirmation on the device available as of now, it remains to be seen when exactly BlackBerry decides to make it official, so stay tuned for more on the matter.

BlackBerry 10.3 hints at 1080p screen rosolution
Image credits to BlackBerry

NVIDIA Intros Pascal GPU, 3D Stacked Memory Chips, and NVLINK Technology

Even though NVIDIA hasn't even launched the real Maxwell GPU yet (that will only happen in late 2014, and the GTX 750 / 750 Ti don't count), the company has already introduced the Pascal GPU, scheduled for 2016.

Well, technically the company hasn't actually released the chip. More like it revealed its presence in the roadmap. The real highlight of the ongoing GTC, taking place in between March 24-27, 2014, in San Jose, California, was the NVLINK technology. What NVLINK does is unify the GPU and CPU cache in a system, allowing the two distinct processing units to divide tasks between each other much faster than right now. As allowed by the PCI Express 3.0 interface, this means that performance for the card, over PCI Express, can rise by 5 to 12 times. In turn, this enables supercomputing performance increases by a factor of 5 to 100. This is a huge leap in performance, on both counts. The Pascal GPU, which will succeed Maxwell, will supposedly have a bandwidth of thousands of bits on a single chip as well, compared to the 512 maximum of right now.

That raised another issue: how will you get enough memory to use that interface, and how will all the chips fit and communicate quickly, without having to wait in line as it were? The answer was 3D packaging for the VRAM chips. So you get a memory interface of thousands of bits, and dozens of chips stacked on top of one another, with holes in them through which silicon interconnects pass. The Pascal sounds like the superman of GPU technology, and it may very well be. In fact, NVIDIA spoke at length about the use of the chip module (which is as big as two credit cards) and how it does best in “machine learning.” Which is to say, computers, or supercomputers, that can learn from past experiences how to recognize things when asked. So far they've been limited to recognizing that human faces and cats show up most often on the Internet.

Of course, that conclusion was drawn after doing the equivalent of watching YouTube for 2 days, so it's not all that reliable, but still. The Pascal is smaller than a PCI Express slot, so with some hardware platform customization it could be installed in an HPC (high-performance computing) installation in high density. And with NVLINK working both CPU-to-GPU and GPU-to-GPU, performance will scale quite well there. Click for larger images.

NVIDIA Pascal GPU saves Moore's Law
Image credits to NVIDIA

ASUS B85-Pro Gamer ROG Motherboard Has Elaborate Heatsink and 8-Phase VRM

The Republic of Gamers brand is one that ASUS only slaps on top of its absolute best consumer hardware, so it stands to reason that the B85-Pro Gamer has a lot of things to offer despite the choice of chipset.

Which is to say, the motherboard boasts the B85 chipset instead of the Z87 commonly found on high-end / gaming platforms. ASUS does have Z87-based motherboards, like the Z87-A. The ATX B85-Pro Gamer actually resembles it quite a bit, or at least its PCB does. For one, it has an 8-phase VRM (voltage regulation module), which controls the power that makes it to the LGA 1150 CPU socket. A single PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot is available, but there is a PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot as well, even if it does work in physical x4 mode (it is wired to the B85 PCH). On that note, a pair of PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots are found on the motherboard as well, along with three legacy PCI slots. On the matter of virtual memory, ASUS installed four DDR3 DIMM slots on the B85-Pro Gamer motherboard.

So there should, in theory, be room for 32 GB or even 64 GB of DDR3 RAM, assuming you can find modules with high enough individual memory capacity. And since fourth-generation Haswell central processing units (CPUs), like previous-generation Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge, have integrated graphics, ASUS included DVI, D-Sub and HDMI outputs on the I/O rear panel. Moving on, the newcomer has a pair of SATA 3.0 Gbps ports (SATA II) for hard disk drives (HDDs), solid-state drives (SSDs) and hybrid drives (HHDs or SSHDs), plus four SATA 6.0 Gbps connectors (SATA III). Obviously, you'll want to populate the latter type first, and only use the SATA II ports if you already have four storage devices in the PC for some reason.

Other features include a premium Intel I217V GbE controller (Gigabit Ethernet), SupremeFX audio (with a 115 dBA SNR CODEC), electrolytic capacitors, a 300Ω headphones amp (made by Texas Instruments) and ground-layer isolation. Finally, ASUS included high-grade black solid-state capacitors and DRAM over-current protection, plus ESD dampening circuits along the rear panel ports, as dictated by the “Gamer's Guardian” technology. UEFI BIOS is just the well-mixed and easily anticipated icing on the cake. Sadly, the price of the ASUS B85-Pro Gamer is not known, despite that the product page is already up and running. Image gallery below, click for larger images.

ASUS B85-Pro Gamer
Images credots to ASUS

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