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Nov 17, 2014

The Samsung NX1 with 4K Is About to Get a Lot Cheaper in January




Samsung is eying the pro camera market and its most recent shooter proves this without a doubt. Back in September the tech giant unveiled the NX1 mirrorless camera which arrives with 4K capacity.

The new camera is a DSLR-style device made a little smaller and coming with an electronic viewfinder. Samsung also makes use of an OLED display that has super-high resolution of 2,260k, which is quite impressive.

Samsung NX1 is not that popular for the time being

Anyhow, despite bringing a lot of disruptive features to the table, it appears customers aren't so willing to jump onboard with Samsung for this and continue to get their pro gear from the likes of Nikon, Canon or Sony. According to information collected by Samsung Camera Rumors, NX1 pre-order numbers haven’t risen to the original expectations. However, some territories have been responding quite well. For example, customers in Korea and Germany apparently love the NX1. But in Europe and North America interest seems to be lagging. The problem isn't the quality of the camera, because the NX1 seems to be quite a worthy product. However, Samsung is a relatively new player to the world of photography, where giants like Nikon and Canon have been in charge for years.

The price seems to also be an issue, despite the fact that the camera is not horribly overpriced compared to similar options on the market.

Samsung is willing to cut prices on the NX1

But Samsung is planning to do something to make the NX1 more attractive to customers. Come January, the mirrorless camera will receive a price drop which will hopefully make the camera a lot more attractive to customers. For those who don’t know what the Samsung NX1 is all about, we’re taking the opportunity to take a quick tour back memory lane. The NX1 comes equipped with a new APS-C format CMOS sensor and back-illumination technology that’s characteristic of the compact camera market. In lay man’s terms, it means that the camera will be able to capture more in terms of light.

The NX1 has an NX AF System III autofocus to allow users to snap images even if subjects are moving about quite quickly. The NX1 can shoot up to Ultra HD resolution with the output being stored on a memory card in HEVC H.265 codec. The NX1 can shoot both in 4K (3840 x 2160) at 30 frames per second and Ultra HD (4096 x 2160) at 24fps. Naturally, there’s the option to record in HD (1920 x 1080) at 24, 30 or 60 fps. When it launched, the camera went on sale for $1500 / €1161, but we’re curious to see what price Samsung is going to put on it in January.

Samsung NX1 is not getting the feedback it wanted
Image credits to Samsung Camera Rumors

Samsung NX1 frontal view

Samsung NX1 with lens

Samsung NX1 with tilted LCD display

Samsung NX1 body-only

Samsung NX1 in profile

Samsung NX1 from the back

Samsung NX1 from above

Samsung NX1 flash out

Samsung NX1 with lens mounted
Images credits to Samsung

NVIDIA Launches Tesla K80 GPU Compute Card, Readies New Titan Supercomputer [Video]




If you have any sort of interest in NVIDIA and supercomputers, or just one or the others, you probably already know at least a few things about the Tesla series. It's that product series that is getting updated today.

Since the time has expired for what was most definitely not a gag order (officially anyway), we can finally share with you all the awesome things we've learned about NVIDIA's latest contribution to the Supercomputing front, what you might know as HPC as well (the high-performance computing market). The Santa Clara, California-based company has completed development of the Tesla K80 GPU compute accelerator.

The specs of Tesla K80

As odd as it sounds, NVIDIA didn't share this information with us. While it did hold a conference call on the matter last Thursday, it didn't offer many technical details about the adapter. We do know some things though. For example, there are 4,992 CUDA cores, thanks to the use of two GK210 graphics processing units. Yes, NVIDIA did make a new GPU just for this card, and no, NVIDIA did not use the Maxwell architecture. Several of us who attended the call asked if there were plans for Maxwell-based Tesla cards now or in the future, but NVIDIA stayed evasive on that front. You did read the CUDA number right though. It really is a smaller number of cores than on the GeForce GTX Titan dual-GPU gaming monster (which has 5,760).

I actually asked how the board compared to a GTX Titan Z, but the answer was somewhere along the lines of “it wouldn't be a relevant comparison.” It probably had something to do with the clocks being a secret as well, although the NVIDIA rep did speculate that they could be of around 790 MHz base and 875 MHz GPU boost. Don't quote us on this though. That said, the Tesla K80 has a TDP of 300W, 1.87 TF to 1.9 TF performance (with boost enabled) and no fewer than 24 GB of GDDR5 VRAM. All this leads to a bandwidth of 480 GB/s.

NVIDIA reveals NVLINK technology

Given how the conference call went, we could probably be accurate in saying that NVIDIA is more excited about this technology than the card itself. At previous product announcements, NVIDIA allowed a system to directly access GPU resources without having to go through the OS first, and to some extent without having to ask the GPU either. NVLINK is a new technology that allows multiple GPUs in a system to connect to one another directly, via one or more 20 GB/s links. With each GPU having four links and up to four GPUs supported in one NVLINK system, that leads to a lot of bandwidth. Currently, the top is of 200 GB/s, allowed by 4-GPU nodes, but 3-GPU and dual-GPU nodes are possible as well. Possibly more than four in the future, but again NVIDIA didn't say one way or the other. Either way, with 2,046 in-site GPU nodes per supercomputer, everything points towards a lot of performance.

Practical applications for the NVIDIA Tesla K80

As long as it's a powerful supercomputer you want to build, it doesn't matter what you have it do. Tesla K80 can definitely crunch numbers like crazy. During the call, NVIDIA said that no Top500 HPC systems can be announced yet, but a more recent announcement suggests that the Tesla K80 will be used in the Titan 2, the successor to the current strongest supercomputer ever. The computing power will be triple that of the current available one. It'll be years before we see it in action though. Gallery below, click for larger images.

NVIDIA Tesla K80

NVIDIA Tesla K80 features

NVIDIA Tesla K80 system performance

NVIDIA Tesla K80 NVLINK impact

NVIDIA Tesla K80 will be used in biochemistry research

Chart that shows past and current growth trends in GPU vs. CPU performance

NVLINK changes between now and Pascal

Chart showing NVLINK connection distribution, each connection has 20 GB/s

In-situ virtualization to benefit massively from NVLINK

Data can be visualized while processing is going on, reducing time to breakthrough 

A chromatophore, one of the hardest things to visualize

Kitware is one of NVIDIA's several partners in this field

A new Titan supercomputer is being set up
Images credits to NVIDIA

Video credits to NVIDIA


Sony’s New 21MP Exmor RS Sensor with 4K Capabilities Revealed, Could End Up in the Xperia Z4




As we have seen not so long ago, Sony is already setting the stage for CES 2015. The Playstation’s maker Xperia Z4 lineup which is supposed to include the Xperia Z4 Tablet, whose specs just leaked online not so long ago.

Sony will be holding a press event in Las Vegas this January, where the company is expected to unveil a lot of goodies, like new cameras, TVs and more. But one of its most interesting announcements might be related to the Xperia Z4 smartphone.

Sony puts new Exmor sensor out

Why do we say that? Well, because the company has recently introduced a new Exmor sensor, which has a lot of potential for handheld photography. This smartphone camera sensor will have 21MP and use image plane phase detection, which Sony says is the first to make it into smartphone cameras. Plane phase detection autofocus is a technology you’d normally expect to find in mirrorless camera systems as the means to allow you to capture moving objects without getting too much blur in them. The same sensor will also be in charge of capturing real-time HDR video and the best part is that you’ll be able to do so in 4K too.

Sony’s new Exmor RS sensor changes the game a little bit, as it replaces the traditional back-illuminated CMOS sensor’s support substrate with a chip made up of signal processing circuits, on top of which is a pixel section made up of back-illuminated pixels for an original stacked construction. Furthermore, Sony is said to be making the 16MP version of the same sensor which will be introduced in mid-range handsets.

We might see the new sensor at work at CES 2014

For the time being, we don’t know for sure which products will end up receiving the new Sony treatment, but given Xperia’s Z4 specs which leaked a few days ago, it all might as well make sense to assume the smartphone is going to be first to take advantage of the tech. According to sources familiar with the matter, Sony’s upcoming flagship smartphone will arrive with a 5.5-inch QHD display (2560 x 1440) and 4GB of RAM. Naturally, you need to take this information with a big grain of salt, because we are a few months away from the official launch and things are bound to change.

The report also mentions that the Xperia Z4 is likely to arrive with Qi wireless charging support instead of the magnetic charging ports which are used inside the Xperia Z. The Xperia Z had well-known problems with microUSB flaps loosening all the time, which in turn ended up compromising the water resistance of the smartphone.

Sony has a new smartphone sensor out

Image plane phase detection AF function using 192 AF points

Sample using the IMX135 3.2 effective megapixels / Sample using the IMX230 21 megapixels

Sony might be working on active pixel color sampling sensor

The sensor could end up being implemented in compact high-end cameras
Images credits to Sony

Nokia Reinvents Itself This Week, but Don’t Expect Any Smartphone Announcements




It’s been quite a ride for Nokia in the last couple of months after the deal with Microsoft officially ended. The Finnish company is now on its own, as the entire smartphone business has been acquired by Microsoft.

Along with the mobile division and everything related, like apps, services and employees, Nokia also sold to Microsoft the right to use its brand on smartphones powered by Windows Phone platform, but the agreement seems to have expired recently. Microsoft has just launched its first Windows Phones without the Nokia brand: Lumia 535 and Lumia 535 Dual SIM. From now on, all Lumia smartphones will be launched under the Microsoft brand instead on Nokia. However, the deal between Nokia and Microsoft prohibits the former from entering the smartphone market until late December 2016. On the other hand, Microsoft can continue to use the Nokia brand on its feature phones for the next 10 years or so. Less than a week ago Nokia started to tease fans of an upcoming announcement, which will shed some light on what’s to come for the Finnish company.

All will be revealed on November 18, at Slush conference in Helsinki, Finland

The teasers pointing to November 17, as the exact date for the announcement, though there might be some changes and Nokia may unveil new details on its future plans later this week. In fact, some preliminary information has been recently shared by Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri, during the “Nokia Capital Markets Day 2014” event from last week. According to him, Nokia doesn’t plan any comebacks in the smartphone business, or at least not in the way most of its fans are thinking of. Instead, the Finnish company is thinking of licensing the Nokia brand name to other handset manufacturers. This means that while we will probably continue to have Nokia smartphones on the market, they will not be directly produced by the Finnish company.

Nokia plans to license its brand to ODMs, but will decide on design and software

However, Nokia wants to keep control of the phones’ look and software before they are manufactured, which is not a bad thing at all. In light of the new details shared by Nokia’s official, it’s very clear that the company does not plan for a direct comeback into the smartphone business. Still, we expect Nokia to make some software-related announcements this week. Its engineers are already working on a few Android apps that have already been released as betas, but there may be more to this then we can imagine now. The future of Nokia seems to be tied closely to the licensing of its brand to other handset makers and ODMs, as well as the development of apps and lifestyle products. If you’re a Nokia fan, what aspect of the smartphone business do you think the company should focus on at first? Do you think Nokia should adopt a more direct approach and start launching its own smartphones as soon as possible?

Nokia teases upcoming plans

Nokia teaser

Nokia's Z Launcher for Android (screenshot)

Nokia's Z Launcher for Android (screenshot)

Nokia's Z Launcher for Android (screenshot)
Images credits to Nokia

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