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May 12, 2014

OnePlus One Emerges at the FCC with MicroSD Card Slot Included

Last month, Chinese mobile phone maker OnePlus officially announced the upcoming availability of the OnePlus One, the first handset to arrive on shelves with the CyanogenMod 11 platform loaded on top right from start, and the device has just received the necessary FCC approvals, it seems.

The smartphone has been spotted on the FCC’s website with support for with LTE bands 4 and 17, which suggests that it is compatible with the networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile in the country. However, as PhoneArena notes, the smartphone won’t land at any of these carriers, as OnePlus is set to release it in the country through its own portal. What’s interesting to note about the phone, however, is that it has been listed at the FCC with a microSD memory card slot packed inside, a feature that has never been mentioned by its maker. The device should hit the US market with support for 32GB memory cards, it seems.

The rest of this device’s specs remain unchanged from what was announced before, including a 5.5-inch 1080p screen and a Snapdragon 801 processor paired with 3GB of RAM. Moreover, the phone features a 13-megapixel camera on the back, with full HD video recording capabilities, and it should be priced at around $300 (€217) when released.

OnePlus One
Image credits to FCC via PhoneArena

Samsung SM-G870A Spotted in AnTuTu, Might Be the Galaxy S5 Active

One of the handsets that South Korean mobile phone maker Samsung Electronics has been long rumored to bring to the market is the Galaxy S5 Active, and the phone appears to have just emerged in AnTuTu.

The mobile phone has emerged on the benchmarking website with model number SM-G870A attached to it, which has been already rumored to be making an official appearance on shelves at wireless carrier AT&T. No official confirmation on what this phone will be all about has been provided as of now, but it has been already spotted at the FCC with the same model number attached, and it seems that it might not be too long at all before it makes an official appearance. As mentioned above, the handset is expected to be released as the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active, which suggests that it might feature a tougher body when compared to the already available Galaxy S5. The aforementioned listing on AnTuTu appears to confirm this, as the phone emerged there with specs similar to those of Galaxy S5, but also with the “Active” codename attached to it.

As SammyToday notes, the phone will arrive on shelves with a body that is 1mm taller and wider than the current flagship, yet it remains to be seen how that will translate in terms of specs. The aforementioned listing shows the Samsung SM-G870A with a full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) screen, a 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, and 2GB of RAM. Moreover, the listing mentions 16GB of internal memory, along with a 16-megapixel camera on the handset’s back, and 2MP front camera for video calling. An Adreno 330 GPU is also referred to, along with the Android 4.4.2 KitKat operating system. All in all, it seems that the new device will indeed be released as a new flavor of the Galaxy S5, though it remains to be seen whether the Active name will also be attached to it.

For those out of the loop, we should note that last year’s Galaxy S4 Active smartphone actually landed on the market with some downgraded specs when compared to the Galaxy S4, although it did feature a tougher, dust- and water-resistant body. We should also note that, while the Samsung SM-G870A is expected to hit shelves at AT&T, a version of the phone will be released on Sprint’s network sometime soon, and that it should sport model number Samsung SM-G860P. Stay tuned for more on these devices.

Samsung SM-G870A in AnTuTu
Image credits to AnTuTu via SammyToday

Intel Devil's Canyon CPUs Should Reach 5 GHz on Normal Cooling

With the Haswell refresh line of central processing units from Intel mostly out, only the unlocked chips are left, the ones that are supposed to debut in the summer. The two main stars of that line are called Intel Core i7-4790K and Intel Core i5-4690K.

You might be familiar with the upcoming series of high-end chips by another name: Intel Devil's Canyon, or Haswell Refresh K-series. The K at the end of the name stands for unlocked multiplier, enabling essentially boundless overclocking support, though it's up to you to make sure you have liquid helium or nitrogen for cooling if you go overboard. The CPUs will have a high base performance as well, though. Let's start with the Core i7-4790K, since this is the flagship, the strongest chip that Intel will unveil this year. Well, unless Broadwell really does come forth before the end of December. The Core i7-4790K is the first 22nm consumer chip with a back clock of 4 GHz. The boost clock is quite high as well, at 4.4 GHz. For something with four cores and eight threads, that's a lot of power, especially on a TDP (thermal design power) of 88W. Finally, the HD 4600 integrated graphics processor is included, with its own frequency of 1250 MHz.

The other star chip, Core i5-4690K, is also a quad-core, but doesn't have Hyper-Threading according to the latest leaks. It is reasonably fast, though, at 3.5 GHz base and 3.9 GHz boost. The TDP and GPU are the same as on the Core i7-4770K. Both Devil's Canyon chips, and whatever peers they have, if any, use 3D Tri-gate transistor technology and a better thermal grease between the chip and IHS (Internal Heat Spreader). That was one of the problems with original Haswell, and prevented hardcore overclocking unless you risked prying the IHS off and cooling the chip directly.

Lots of things are being set up for this summer, and this processor series will make a fine pair, so to speak, with the next high-end video card from Advanced Micro Devices. AMD may not be able to once again challenge Intel on the high-end processor front until 2015 (good luck to Jim Keller and the Excavator), but it is leagues ahead of Intel on the graphics front. The perks of owning what used to be ATI. Anyway, by the time Intel's Core i7-4790K and Core i5-4690K CPUs make it to the market, AMD's Radeon R9 295X might be ready as well. A good fit for the sort of high-end computers that the Devil's Canyon can enable.

I've already covered pretty much every shred of information that exists in circulation right now on the Devil's Canyon CPUs. There is one thing that I didn't fully appreciate though.

More specifically, I didn't really realize the implications of a chip capable of reaching 4.4 GHz on the power of Turbo Boost alone. You see, the upcoming central processing unit, with its 88W TDP, 8 MB L3 cache memory and 4 GHz / 4.4 GHz clocks, can probably be overclocked to 5 GHz without even changing the cooler. Well, maybe you will need to buy a better air cooler, but that's the thing: until now, it was impossible to force a CPU to that speed without a liquid cooling system or liquid nitrogen baths. Or it was really hard and likely to make your chip burn out or melt in short order.

The folks at Expreview believe the 5 GHz air-based overclocking is now possible, and that makes me wonder just how ludicrously high the performance can be pushed with liquid cooling help. No doubt, we'll get the answer to that question just weeks after the processors come out this summer. These things tend to happen really fast, and there are already a whole bunch of 9-Series motherboards out, or at least on the way.

Intel Logo
Image credits to Intel

Samsung 13.3-Inch “Warhol” Tablet Will Have 2560 x 1600 Pixel Resolution

Those following the Samsung tablet saga might remember that back in 2013, there was talk suggesting that the Korean tech giant was working on a huge 13.3-inch tablet.

There was a lot of speculation regarding this matter, including whispers saying that the slate will be capable of dual-booting between Windows RT and Android. Now new information about Samsung’s mega-tablet project has appeared online. The folks over at GSMArena have managed to receive some new information about the 13.3-inch that is reportedly codenamed “Warhol”. Sources familiar with the matter have disclosed the tablet going by model number T911 for the 3G version and T910 for the Wi-Fi only variant. We should draw your attention to the “T,” which indicates that the tablet will probably pertain to the Samsung Galaxy Tab line-up and not the Galaxy Note, so that means that the tablet will arrive without an S Pen. For the time being, we know that Warhol will come with a 13.3-inch screen and boast a display resolution of 2560 x 1600. It also appears that the tablet will feature an LCD screen and not a Super AMOLED one like Samsung Galaxy Tab S.

Sadly, that’s all we can tell you about the slate, for now. We can speculate that Samsung is going to use one of its own Exynos processors to power the device, even in the 3G models. We already know that Sammy will implement its in-house chips and import modems from Intel for its 3G variants, when it comes to the AMOLED Galaxy Tab S. The 13.3-inch tablet has been in the news before, with different sources claiming that Samsung was gearing up to release a dual-boot Android/Windows RT tablet. Another interesting theory indicated the possibility that the company was looking to bring its defunct Ativ Q product back to life. This was a 13.3-inch convertible, which allowed users to boot between Windows 8.1 and Android, but the device never made it to the market.

Like in the case of the ASUS Transformer Book Duet, the Korean tech giant might have been faced with pressure coming from both Google and Microsoft and was forced to abandon the project or to postpone it indefinitely. Anyway, currently the status of dual-OS machines is quite uncertain, so most likely, Samsung’s mega-tablet will be focused on one operating system. We also don’t know when Samsung will announce the device, but there’s a slim chance that the 13.3-incher will be spotted at IFA 2014. As more information emerges, we will update you.

Samsung's 13.3-inch tablet re-emerges
Image credits to SamMobile

Samsung Warhole tablet spotted
Image credits to GSMArena

K7/K8 Inventor Back at AMD, Prepares Core i7-Strong Excavator APUs for 2015

If the first two generations of Bulldozer microprocessors hadn't had more bad than good traits, Advanced Micro Devices may not have pulled out of the direct competition against Intel on the high-end front. Come 2015, the contest may resume.

Bulldozer is defined by the use of compute modules, each of which has a pair of cores and provides integer power like a dual-core, but also multiple multi-threading (SMT) capability like single-core chips. Sadly, the way they share resources between two cores isn't very efficient, and single-threaded performance is low compared to that of Intel chips anyway. It's all this that made FX-series 8-core CPUs achieve lower performance than Intel quad-core Core i7 with the same number of FPUs (floating point units). Now, though, Jim Keller, the one who spearheaded the invention of the K7 and K8 architectures that were better than anything else in their time (though we're sure some disagree with that) is back at Advanced Micro Devices.

He will work on the K12 ARMv8-based products, but will take a look at Bulldozer as well and, maybe, finally allow it to get over the main problems. Come 2015, a new Bulldozer architecture called Excavator will be unveiled, Expreview reports. AMD will unveil a new general-purpose x86 core that should benefit from at least some of the great ideas that Jim Keller tends to get when he involves himself in a project. For one thing, AVX 3.2 512-bit extensions, among other things, will be supported. Also, we may see up to 16 cores in a single processor. In fact, 16-core units could surface as early as this year (2014), once the Steamroller generation of Bulldozer comes forth. Sadly, software still isn't coded for so many different threads, so most of the potential computing power will go to waste, at least at first.

Odds are higher that AMD will try to play it safe and promote the new Bulldozer cores as part of APUs. Steamroller gets Carrizo and Toronto (will come out this year), so Excavator will power the successors of those units. Now we just have to wait and see if Jim Keller achieves the miracle that so many hope for and enables Bulldozer to match Intel Core i7 CPUs performance-wise. Some expect that the CMT (cluster-based multithreading) in Bulldozer will be dropped in favor of something closer to the simultaneous multithreading (SMT), which could make this dream come true. And with the graphics part already superior to Intel, we might have a winner.

Jim Keller speaks at an AMD event
Image credits to X-bit labs

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