Subject: General Tech | August 30, 2012 - 02:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: TSMC, apple, qualcomm, fab
If you believe the rumours, TSMC recently turned down offers from both Apple and Qualcomm to make those companies the exclusive partner of TSMC's smartphone chip production. Now, that sort of deal does tend to line the pockets of the supplier quite nicely, as the customer must pay to recompense the lost business from other customers. It also gives the manufacturer the ability to specialize their production lines for one specific type of chip which will eventually bring the cost per wafer down. On the other hand, this type of deal can stifle innovation on a general level as the manufacturer doesn't need to worry about attracting other customers, nor designing fabrication plants capable of producing multiple types of chips. Then there is TSMC in specific, a company which has a long history of providing supplies to companies both sides of the war, be it GPU, CPU or a mixed chip. As arms dealers proved long ago it is far more profitable to sell to both sides than to only supply one belligerent. Read DigiTimes take on this topic here.
"A recent Bloomberg report cited unnamed sources as saying that Apple and Qualcomm had been rebuffed in separate attempts to invest cash in Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) in a bid to secure exclusive access to smartphone chips. Digitimes Research analyst Nobunaga Chai has commented saying that he sees no good reason why TSMC should accept the investment."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- 'FIRST ever' Linux, Mac OS X-only password sniffing Trojan spotted @ The Register
- Building a driver for absurdly high power LEDs @ Hack a Day
- Another Nugget On AMD’s Jaguar @ SemiAccurate
- AMD to double up cores with Jaguars @ The Register
- Western Digital slaps two Velociraptor drives into a Thunderbolt case @ The Inquirer
- Intel details Knights Corner architecture at long last @ SemiAccurate
Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2012 - 05:55 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows, webkit, security, safari for windows, safari, browser, apple
The Apple-developed Safari is one of the least popular webkit-based browsers on Windows. Even so, it still commands 5% marketshare (across all platforms), and that is a problem. You see, many sites are reporting that Apple has dropped support for Safari on Windows. Windows users will not get the update to Safari 6–the new version available to Mac OS X 10.6 and 10.7 Mountain Lion users. As well, it seems that Apple has removed just about every reference to ever having a Windows version of any Safari browser from its website.
Image Credit: MacLife
The issue is that the final version that Windows users are stuck with–version 5.1.7–has a number of documented security vulnerabilities that are never going to get patched by Apple. According to Maximum PC, there are at least 121 known security holes listed in Apple’s own documentation. And as time goes by, it is extremely likely that the number of unpatched security holes will increase. Running an outdated browser is not good security practice, and running a browser that is EOL and has known vulnerabilities is just asking for trouble.
While the number of PC Perspective readers running Safari for Windows is likely extremely small, I would advise that you be on the lookout next time you are doing tech support for your friends and relatives, and if they managed to get roped into using Safari thanks to Apple’s Itunes software updater convince them to move to a (dare I say better) more secure browser like Google’s Chrome, Opera, or Firefox. At least those are still getting updates, and some are even automatically done in the background.
Have you ever used Apple’s Safari for Windows browser? What would you recommend as the best alternative? Let us know in the comments below.
Quick glance at the new MBP
The newly released retina-screen MacBook Pro has been an interesting product to me since it was first announced. I have long been a proponent of higher resolution screens for PCs, hoping for the lower cost screens that we are just now finding in the Korean 27-in screen market (like the Achieva Shimian we recently reviewed). When Apple announced a 15-in notebook with a screen resolution of 2880x1800, my hopes were raised that other vendors would take note and duplicate the idea – thereby lowering costs and increasing visual quality for users across the board.
While I didn’t have enough time with the retina MacBook Pro to give it a full review, I did spend an afternoon with one that had Windows 7 installed. After getting some benchmarks and games installed I thought I would report back to our readers with my thoughts and initial impressions on the laptop from a PC perspective.
The hardware inside the new retina MacBook Pro includes an Ivy Bridge Core i7-3720QM processor, NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M discrete GPU, 512GB Apple-branded solid state drive, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt and of course that impressive 2880x1800 screen.
Subject: Mobile | July 7, 2012 - 07:44 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: universal search, patents, injunction, google, galaxy nexus, apple, Android
Over the past couple of weeks, Apple and Samsung have been battling it out in court as Apple tries to get US sales of the Galaxy Nexus banned over an Apple universal search patent. We are not much for patent news here, but this has been one case that everyone seems to be following. Samsung has managed to get a stay on the injunction against its Galaxy Nexus smartphone – at least until Apple formally responds to Samsung. From there, a judge will need to make the final call on whether the injunction will remain in effect during the trial or not. That should give the company a few days, at least.
Interestingly, Samsung also seems to be planning for the worst with an Over the Air (OTA) update planned that will prevent the search bar in Android from searching for files stored on the phone itself – you will still be able to search the Internet from it however. I’m rather surprised that Apple is going after Samsung so aggressively to begin with since it is one of the company’s major hardware partners (ie for iPad components). At this point, it’s a toss up as to who will win out in court, but I’m hoping that the user experience for mobile Android users will not have to suffer as a result of this bickering over a search box.
What do you think about the court battle? Who do you think is in the right? For reference, the Apple patent that the case centers around seems to be US 8,086,604.
Check out our Google I/O coverage for more photos of the new Nexus branded hardware!
An overview of Thunderbolt Technology
The promise of Thunderbolt connectivity has been around for a couple of years now. Today, Thunderbolt is finally finding its way to the PC platform in the form of motherboards from ASUS and MSI. First unveiled as "Light Peak" at the Intel Developer Forum in 2009, the technology started out as a way to connect multiple devices to a system over a fiber optic cable (hence the 'light' in the name), though the final products have changed the implementation slightly.
The first prototype implementations actually used a USB-style connection and interface. It further required fiber optic cables. When it was renamed to Thunderbolt and then released in conjunction with a new lineup of Apple MacBook laptops, not only did the physical interface move to a mini-DisplayPort connection but the cable was made to use copper rather than fiber. Without diving too far into the reasons and benefits of either direction, the fact is that the copper cables allow for modest power transfer and are much cheaper than fiber optic variants would be.
Thunderbolt's base technology remains the same, however. It is a transfer standard that allows for 10 Gbps of bandwidth for each channel (bi-directional) and concurrently supports both data and display connections. The actual interface for the data path is based on PCI Express and connected devices actually appear to Windows as if they are internally connected to the system which can offer some interesting benefits – and headaches – for hardware developers. The display connection uses the DisplayPort standard and can be used along with the data connection without affecting bandwidth levels or performance.
For current Intel processor implementations, the Thunderbolt connection is supported by a separate controller chip on the motherboard (or a riser card) – and some routing is required for correct usage. The Thunderbolt controller does not actually include a graphics controller, so it must be fed an output from another graphics processor, obviously in this case directly from the Ivy Bridge / Sandy Bridge processors. In theory, these could be from other controllers, but with the ubiquitous nature of integrated processor graphics on IVB and SNB processors, this is going to be the implementation going forward according to motherboard and system designers.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 11, 2012 - 03:30 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: WWDC 12, apple, macbook pro
Apple has upgraded their MacBook line to Intel Ivy Bridge and includes USB 3.0 support. The MacBook Airs will be supported by Intel HD Graphics 4000 where the new MacBook Pro will be powered by NVIDIA’s Kepler-based GeForce GT 650M. This GPU will be used to power a 2880x1800 (220ppi) resolution screen -- which I will absolutely not feed into the “retina display” marketing term.
Apple has announced new hardware at the start of their World Wide Developers Conference this morning.
As Intel begins to flood the PC marketplace with their latest and greatest Ivy Bridge mobile processors it stands to reason that Apple would not want to be left out. Apple will update their entire laptop lineup to the new CPUs as well as add some Kepler to their MacBook Pro line. The biggest deal is the high resolution 2880x1800 displays which should make text look very smooth and crisp.
Not pictured, 27” IPS display… because 60” HDTV makes it seem more impressive.
The MacBook Air will not have the option of discrete graphics. The 11-inch model will have a screen resolution of 1366x768 where the 13-inch model will contain a 1440x900 screen. Both USB3.0 and Thunderbolt will be supported on each of the MacBook Airs as well as each of the MacBook Pros. SSD technology is also prominently mentioned and was expected.
The new MacBook line ships today. The new lineup of MacBook Airs has starting prices of between $999 and $1499 and the high-resolution MacBook Pro starts at $2199.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 3, 2012 - 11:08 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: computex, thunderbolt, Matrox, macbook, dock, apple
Matrox has recently launched a new Thunderbolt dock aimed at adding desktop peripherals to Apple Macbooks and Ultrabooks. The dock connects via a single Thunderbolt cable (it does require a separate power source as well) and provides one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, a DVI video output, audio in/out jacks, and a Gigabit LAN port. It will be available for purchase in September with an MSRP of $249 USD.
Matrox has released a new laptop dock called the Matrox DS1 that is designed to pair with Thunderbolt-equipped notebooks and provide several additional connectivity options. The aluminum chassis is reminiscent of a slimmer WD My Book drive because of the book like shape. The front of the DS1 dock is a Thunderbolt input and status LED. On the back of the dock is a DVI output, three USB ports (one USB 3.0, two USB 2.0), microphone input, headphone output, and a Gigabit LAN port. To the far right is a DC power input which means that the dock is a bit less portable than I would like but it is not clear how big of a “wall wart” it will come with.
The company has stated that the aluminum case should protect the dock in just about every use case, and the additional IO certainly adds much needed connectivity to Ultrabooks where available ports are at a premium. Senior Director of Sales and Marketing for Matrox, Alberto Cieri, has been quoted by Apple Insider in stating “The new Matrox DS1 docking station easily enables the creation of an ergonomic workspace and brings much-needed expandability for printers, scanners, storage, smartphones, optical drives, cameras, flash drives, and other peripherals.”
The Matrox DS1 will be shown off at Computex 2012 this week in Taipei, Taiwan at Intel’s booth (M0410 in the Nangang Exhibition Hall). After that, it will be shown off at WWDC in San Fransico and Infocomm in Las Vegas on June 12th and June 13th to June 15th respectively. In September of this year it will be available for purchase with an MSRP of $249 USD.
Situations like this are where Thunderbolt really shines, and I would not be surprised to see companies outfitting employees with Ultrabooks for mobile use and a larger monitor and peripherals for in-office use (eschewing a separate desktop machine altogether). The price, especially considering Thunderbolt cables themselves are expensive is going to be the most limiting factor for docks like these despite their usefulness.
Editor's Note: Although Tim didn't mention it, one kind of interesting drawback is that this device does NOT include a Thunderbolt pass through, basically preventing users from taking advantage of the daisy-chain capability TB can offer via a single port / connections on the laptop or computer.
Subject: Mobile | June 1, 2012 - 08:26 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: retina display, resolution, notebook, macbook, apple
Late last year, we covered rumors releating to Apple’s Macbook Pro notebooks that hinted at future versions with high pixel density retina displays. Recent rumors suggest that DigiTime’s sources were not far from the truth, and retina displays may be coming to both the 15.4” and 13.3” notebooks.
According to Hexus.net, a senior display analyst, has been talking with Cnet on when such high resolution displays will be available. Allegedly, the display panels are already being supplied to Apple at an additional cost to Apple of $100 and $60 for the 15.4” and 13.3” notebooks respectively. The most likely source of these panels is Samsung (and possibly LG), as they have experience producing the retina displays for Apple’s iPad tablets.
Reportedly, the 15.4” Macbook will have a display resolution of 2880x1800, which amounts to 220 pixels per inch. On the other hand, the 13.3” Macbook will have a display resolution of 2560x1600–a resolution normally reserved for ~30” desktop monitors. With 2560x1600 in a 13.3” display, that amounts to just under 227 PPI (268.98). For the 15.4” Macbook, the retina display has a PPI that is twice that of the current model’s display resolution of 1440x900 (110 PPI).
Fortunately for everyone without hawk-vision, Apple’s OS X operating system has been engineered to be resolution independent, and will keep icons and text on screen an appropriate size (rather than it becoming miniscule due to the much higher resolution display).
Lastly, the source indicated that the displays would use more power, which sounds resonable considering the GPU would have to drive more pixels, and the backlight would have more work to do as well. In our previous article, and in internal discussions, we have been eagerly waiting for Apple to come out with these displays. We hope that Apple jumping into it as a premium feature will help to nudge other PC manufacturers in the same direction of higher pixel densities. Its obvious that the technology is there, but I think that it will be up to Apple whether or not it will catch on (as other PC makers do not seem eager to reduce profit margins with higher resolution displays). Sure, we won’t be seeing retina displays in budget laptops running windows, but it would be nice to have the option in ultrabooks and other premium PC laptops running Windows at some point.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | April 24, 2012 - 01:37 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thunderbolt, PCIe SSD, pcie, mlink, apple
California based company mLogic LLC debuted a new “mLink” Thunderbolt enclosure at the NAB 2012 show that will allow users to connect PCI-E based cards to computers using Thunderbolt connections. Unfortunately, enthusiasts wishing to slap a graphics card into the enclosure are out of luck. The incompatibility is due to graphics cards not having Thunderbolt aware drivers and may be something that is rectified in the future but currently not an option.
Right now, there are only a few storage devices and networking NICs that are compatible with the mLink enclosure including Apricorn and OWC PCI-E SSDs, Atto Technology’s Fiber Channel network cards, and Atto Technology’s SAS RAID controller cards. (The full list of compatible devices is located here.) Not terribly exciting, but some users will find it very useful. The design is very streamlined and sleek, though its worth mentioning that it comes at a cost of $400 USD.
Enthusiasts wanting to add more graphics horsepower to their notebooks will have to look elsewhere, but for users that need super fast storage in a sleek industrial design enclosure it is an interesting option. The price will be something that turns many people off of it, however. It is slated to release in June with pre-orders being accepted now. More information along with photos of the device is available here.
It sure looks nice, but is this something people will actually use? Let us know in the comments!
Introduction, Design and Ergonomics
Tablets are growing in popularity, but the market is still immature. There are only a handful of serious contenders sold in North America (discounting the cheap knock-offs you can find on eBay and other sites).
Apple’s iPad is the clear leader in terms of sales. It is trailed by similar Android-powered options like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Acer Iconia and (of coures) the ASUS Transformer Prime. We reviewed the Prime when it hit store shelves earlier this year and concluded that it was the best Android tablet money can buy. That makes a comparison with the new iPad obvious.
The constant stream of rants for or against Android and iOS devices in the media may lead you to think that the comparison between the two is highly subjective. I don’t believe that’s the case. There are a number of objective measurements that can be used to judge these products.
Yes, there is always going to be some degree of preference between operating systems, but we’re not really going to get into the iOS vs. Android argument here. That’s a topic that would require its own article, and most likely one several times longer than this comparison. Subjective points will be limited to design and ergonomics.
Enough talk. It’s time for the competition to begin.
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