Details about a possible upcoming Intel TV service, Intel Media

Subject: General Tech | January 1, 2013 - 12:34 PM |
Tagged: tv, intel tv, intel media, Intel, google tv, CES, apple tv

How's this to set off your 2013 tech news?  According to multiple reports and this rather lengthy one from GigaOm, Intel has a new division called Intel Media that is planning on launching a TV service this year.  While it apparently will not be ready to show off at CES next week, "knowledgeable sources" make the GigaOm author quite confident that it will happen in the March time frame.

Running much like a stealth startup rather than the multi-billion dollar corporate entity that it is, a new division called Intel Media has been working on an Intel TV service that aims to beat Google and Apple to the goal of an on-demand, a-la-carte video.  Running under a separate board of directors headed by Intel CEO Paul Otellini and content lead Eric Free among others, Intel Media has lofty goals.

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Intel CEO Paul Otellini is pushing services on his way out

The base for this service will be an Intel produced and branded set top box that will be sold online and through retailers like Best Buy.  Maybe something like the Intel Next Unit of Computing we tested in December?  But Intel also plans to have access to the service on any screen including PCs, laptops, tablets and mobile devices. The GigaOm story didn't mention if this would run on iOS and Android devices but if the service is to stand a chance, it had better. 

Building hardware is easy; the real challenge is in convincing content creators and owners to license the video for an "access anywhere" mindset.  Even Apple hasn't been able to accomplish that and I would dare say they have more industry clout with media companies than Intel. 

That will likely include an ambitious licensing play to secure content across all of these devices. Intel’s set-top box will offer access to third-party apps, but also TV content licensed by Intel — something that has been one of the key challenges of the project. Reuters and the Wall Street Journal detailed earlier this year how the company wanted to secure the right to stream individual TV channels over the internet, and Forbes reported this weekend that it will offer consumers the ability to subscribe to individual channels, as opposed to a big and expensive cable bundle.

Intel's desire to develop this service area isn't unexpected as the company has been wanting to get away from being known only as a "chip manufacturer" and move to a "platform provider."  It's just hard to see what Intel will be able to do so much better than what Apple has done with the Apple TV or what Google did with the Google TV platforms.  Intel has no successful operating system and would either have to go with a Windows platform (expensive), Android (what would stop other people for duplicating it) or something custom (not a good track record). 

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There are a lot more questions about what Intel Media is or could become than we have information to address.  But Intel is hoping that the executive team they have assembled will have those answers.  Personnel includes Erik Huggers who led the BBC iPlayer, Sean Ludick from Jawbone, Courtnee Westendorf who handled global marketing for Apple and several more.  Intel wants to be prepared for a world that cares less about the silicon that powers devices and more about the software and services on those devices.

The goal of getting individual channels of live television and on-demand content without the need for huge cable and satellite bills is the goal of a modern media consumption society but there are very large organizations that would like to prevent it from happening.  If Intel does in fact have the answer then I will be among the first to stand up and applaud (and pre-order).  If we are merely getting an Android powered version of the AppleTV with Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming video, I'll pass.

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Google TV had a lot of lofty goals and promise as well...

There is a lot more information and speculation on this Intel Media directive on the source GigaOm article, and I encourage you all to check it out.  Personally I don't see how this could be successful without a dramatic shift from the other software moves that Intel has made in recent years.  Remember AppUp?  How about MeeGo?  Exactly my point.  It is understandable for a company as large as Intel to want to branch out and look for new growth opportunities but they have yet to prove they are capable of doing so successfully.  And many would implore Intel to stay focused on the technology...

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: GigaOm

Lucid Virtu MVP 2.0 Coming Soon and Will Be Sold Directly to Consumers

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | December 14, 2012 - 02:07 PM |
Tagged: virtu MVP, virtu, lucid, ces 2013, CES

In preparation for the upcoming CES 2013 show in January we have started having some pre-meeting discussions with various companies, one of which was Lucid.  While speaking with them we learned some interesting news about the upcoming v2.0 release of their Virtu MVP software including new features and a new availability option.

Lucid's Virtu MVP software is the technology that allows DIY PC builders and notebook vendors to easily accommodate utilization of both integrated and discrete graphics in a single system without the need to adjust settings or to move monitor cables around.  With Virtu MVP you can take advantage of the QuickSync technology of your Ivy Bridge processor but still utilize the performance of a discrete graphics card for gaming.  This can all be managed and handled on a single display with a single cable. 

Other additions like Virtual Vsync and HyperFormance were added in MVP and aim to improve the gaming experience in the same way that Virtu enhances the overall user experience.  And while Matt Smith liked the results from the software in his recent testing with an Origin laptop, there were a couple things that bugged us: the interface and the inability to get the software on your own.

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Next month Lucid will be launching the new version 2.0 of its software that should increase the responsiveness of the interface while also drastically improving the visuals and style.  Also included will be native Windows 8 support.

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Perhaps the most interesting news is that Lucid will soon start offering the software directly to consumers as a download instead of requiring that you get it from your motherboard or system vendor.  This is great news for users that have purchased motherboards without Virtu software and those of you that might want to buy a really low cost board that would lack those features as well.  You will apparently be able to buy it in Q1 from www.lucidlogix.com and the price should be "under $30" which likely indicates a $29.99 starting offer. 

What we don't know is how this will affect Lucid's motherboard partners - will they stop carrying the software as a bundle going forward or will they still offer it on select SKUs?  Lucid wouldn't divulge any of that yet but I assume we'll find out more at CES next month.

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Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer:
Tagged: ultrabook, Intel, CES

Introduction, Thin Is Flimsy

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If there was anything that can be pointed to as “the” thing CES was about, it’s the ultrabook. These thin and portable laptops were presented by Intel with all the finesse of a sledgehammer. Intel’s message is clear. Ultrabooks are here, and you’re going to like them.

Such a highly coordinated effort on the part of Intel is unusual. Sure, they’ve pushed industry standards before. But the company’s efforts have usually been focused on a specific technology, like USB. The last time Intel put serious effort into trying to change how system builders constructed their systems was when Intel pushed for the BTX form factor. 

BTX was an attempt to address problems the company was having with its Pentium 4 processors, which tended to consume a lot of power and therefor run hot. The push for the ultrabook is also an attempt in address a (perceived) problem. In this case the issue at hand is portability, both in in terms physical system size and battery endurance. 

Intel announced some interesting new smartphone and tablet reference designs at CES 2012. These are signs that the company is making headway in this area. But the products based on those reference designs aren’t out yet, and it will probably take a few years for Intel to gain significant market share even if it does manage to offer x86 processors that can beat ARM in smartphones and tablets. In the meantime, Intel needs to provide slim, responsive and portable systems that can distract consumers from tablets.

So we have the ultrabook. 

Continue reading out editorial on Ultrabook and the pros and cons associated with their push into the market!!

Lucid Cloud Gaming (VGWare) and XLR8 on Tablets Demo

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 18, 2012 - 12:29 PM |
Tagged: CES, lucid, xlr8, vgware, cloud

Even though CES 2012 is behind us, there are still some things we took photos or video of that we wanted to show you.  First up, Lucid had a suite off the strip to demonstrate a couple of new technologies coming from the company in 2012.  VGWare is the current name for the cloud-based gaming technology based on the Lucid GPU virtualization technology that allows for games to be rendered on a server and played on a remote machine with only minimal hardware.

In the video above you see two integrated-GPU based notebooks playing Modern Warfare 2 (two instances) and Madagascar being rendered on a machine running an NVIDIA GTX 480 GPU.  

Lucid intends to offer this technology to larger-scale companies that would want to compete with someone like OnLive or maybe even software developers directly.  While that is what we expected, I told them that I would like to see a consumer version of this application - have a single high-powered gaming PC in your home and play games on multiple "thin client" PCs for LAN parties, etc.  What do you all think - is that something you see as useful?

The second demo was for Lucid's XLR8 software that promises to improve performance of gaming on PCs, phones and tablets by intelligently managing display synchronization and GPU performance.

The really interesting part about XLR8 is the flexibility it offers - in our video you see it running on an ASUS Transformer tablet via the NVIDIA Tegra 2 SoC.  Frame rates jumped about 40% but we didn't get enough hands on time with the configuration to truly make a decision on whether or not it was an improved gaming experience.  Hopefully Lucid will get this technology to us soon for some hands-on time.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

More CES coverage for your reading pleasure

Subject: Shows and Expos | January 18, 2012 - 10:22 AM |
Tagged: CES, lightning bolt, amd, razer, fiona, lucid, Silverstone

 The Tech Report still has more to say about what they saw in Los Vegas this year, as they covered quite a bit of ground.  AMD's Lightning Bolt connector, their competition for Thunderbolt, which is much less expensive to integrate into a system especially considering it uses DisplayPort 1.2 style ports.  They also played with Razer's popular Project Fiona which is probably what Nokia wished they had released instead of the N-Gage.  SandyBridge features in their coverage of Zotac and EVGA and the next generation of that chip showed up at MSI.  There is plenty more coverage over at The Tech Report so check it out and don't forget all of our coverage at pcper.com/ces.

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PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES Sets Record Levels Of Attendance, Products, and Size

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2012 - 07:06 PM |
Tagged: technology, industry, CES 2012, CES

The Consumer Electronics Show, or CES for short, is always a huge event for tech journalists, websites, and enthusiasts alike. When our own Scott Michaud heard that Microsoft would be making this year's show its last, we had some minor doubts about where the show was going to go. Once the show got underway; however, all doubts about CES wavering were put to rest.

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This year's Consumer Electronics Show was simply massive. According to PC World, not only was CES 2012 huge but it was the largest show ever! The Consumer Electronics Association announced that of the 44 year history of the show, 2012 was a huge success with increases in attendance, products, and show floor area. The amount of floor space increased to 1.9 million square feet where 3,100 companies came out to show off their new products. Including our own dedicated CES team, there were 153,000 people in attendance.

The show further resulted in 20,000 new products being shown off and more than a 33 % increase in news ideas with 2,000+ news articles being written about cool products, expensive, products, and even some questionable products.

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The CEA is considering the show a huge success, and as you can see from the numbers they announced, the show is growing despite Microsoft leaving. New vendors are likely to show up and now that MS is (for now anyway) leaving, it opens up a slot for someone else to put on a great show for tech enthusiasts. Here's hoping CES 2013 continues to grow, and that they install some of those fancy walking sidewalks or supply Segways!

On the off chance that you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks, we have assembled tons of articles, photos, and videos of this years CES 2012 that you can catch up on at pcper.com/ces! I know that Ryan, Josh, Matt, and Ken are still in recovery mode from little steep and lots of walking; however, we will be hitting 2012 hard with more news, more reviews, and more tech industry coverage. We'd like to thank everyone for a good 2011 and welcome both old and new readers to the site as we move forward into 2012!

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: PC World

CES Storage Roundup Part 4 - Sandisk, PQI

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 16, 2012 - 03:36 PM |
Tagged: ssd, sandisk, PQI, memory, flash, CES

Sandisk

Sandisk had a booth with a large array of small nand flash storage devices, though most of it appeared to be SD, CF, or for embedded mobile applications:

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One of the more interesting pieces was a 64GB e.MMC nand flash part that fit *within* the dimensions of a penny! This is not a plug-in module - it's the type that would be soldered onto the mainboard of a cell phone or other small mobile device:

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While the booth was generally light on SSD's, there were a couple on display, namely the U100, in both 7mm (left) and 9.5mm (right) form factors:

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The U100 is also available in even smaller form factor. We're currently taking a look at an Ultrabook equipped with the same Sandisk U100 SSD - mounted to an even smaller PCB.

PQI

PQI has been a favorite of mine for years. They were among the first to make a really tiny thumb drive, and I'm glad to see they continue to make a versatile line of products:

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A little known fact is that PQI also has a line of SATA SSD's:

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The S525 Series (also available as the S518 - 1.8" form factor), is a bit long in the tooth and uses a dated JMicron controller, but PQI made the extra effort to include the optional USB 2.0 interface that most other manufacturers chose to omit.

More to follow

I've still got some pics to sift through, so stay tuned for more CES Storage goodies!

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES Storage Roundup Part 3 - Intel Cherryville and IMFT 20nm flash die spotted!

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 16, 2012 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: ssd, micron, Intel, imft, flash, cherryville, CES, 20nm

CES is sort of like a Where's Waldo book. There are thousands of places to look, with new technology spread around all over the place. Some of that unreleased tech shows up right in front of you and you don't even realize what you were looking at until later on. It's how we caught a look at prototype Light Peak (now Thunderbolt) two years ago, and this year we saw some more goodies not previously seen in the wild. I tend to be a bit of a shutterbug, and I take seemingly random pics of things as the PCPer gang runs around the various vendor booths and hotel suites. While going through the pics from my phone, I ran across this shot of what I thought was an Intel 320 Series SSD:

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Definitely not a 320, that's an Intel 520 Series (Cherryville) SSD. While Intel had their 520 Series locked up tight at their Storage Visions booth, this one was powering another motherboard makers product elsewhere in Vegas. Unfortunately this system was only to demo the motherboard itself, without a connected display, so it would not have been possible to run our own benches.

At storage visions, we also saw this display at the Micron booth. It's interesting to see how 16GB of flash memory has shrunk over the past few years. We've certainly come a long way from the good old X25-M:

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Some of you may know that I'm a sucker for a good die shot, so I snuck back out to Micron's suite later on to get my own macro shot of the 20nm IMFT flash die:

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Micron is, like many other vendors, working on their own SSD solution specifically for SSD caching applications. It's currently unreleased, so more to follow on this.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Cords? The Wireless Power Consortium Thinks They’re Old-Fashioned

Subject: Mobile | January 13, 2012 - 11:27 AM |
Tagged: CES, wireless power, wireless, tablet, smartphone, mobile, charging

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Where was the most interesting technology at CES? Intel’s booth? Nope. Nvidia’s booth? Guess again. Perhaps you could find it at Qualcomm’s stand? Guess again.

If you ask me, the most interesting technology was tucked away in the back of the lower level of the South Hall, which is where you’ll find smaller companies and organizations that have decided to forgo a normal booth and instead just rent out space for a meeting room. That’s where you’ll find The Wireless Power Consortium and its Qi wireless power standard. 

Wireless power is exactly what it sounds like. You may have already heard of the charging mats made available by companies like Energizer. These allow users to charge a smartphone simply by placing them in the right location, forgetting about cords entirely.

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Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But there’s been a problem with them – until recently, they’ve all been proprietary. You had to use a special charging case to get the mats to work with your phone and that case wouldn’t work with competing products. You also were limited to charging in your home (or wherever you place the charging mat) which kind of defeats the point. 

To fix this, there must be a standard, and that’s what The Wireless Power Consortium has created. It’s called Qi, and it’s a coil-based charging solution that can be implemented in all sorts of mobile devices. Currently the standard can handle up to 5 watts and can work within 5mm, but both of these figures are to be expanded. New technology that can handle 10 watts is being tested, and the hope is for 120 watts to be achievable in the near future. That would allow for wireless charging of PCs and appliances. 

But enough about the specifications. Why am I excited about Qi? Let me explain.

Many current smartphones have mini-USB ports for one reason only – charging. Everything else, from syncing music to downloading files, can be achieved through a wireless connection. If that port could be removed entirely, it would allow for more design flexibility. Take the current Droid Razr, for example. It is extremely thin except for a bulge that houses the camera and the ports. If you could charge your phone wirelessly, designers would have one less port to design around.

Battery life is another part of this equation. As technology in our mobile devices continues to improve at an amazing rate, battery technology doesn’t seem able to keep up. I know – I own a HTC Thunderbolt. My phone has notoriously bad battery life with 4G LTE enabled. 

One solution is to make batteries bigger, but that increases weight, size and cost. Wireless power offers an alternative – make charging easier and more frequent. If you had wireless power in your car, at work and at home, your phone could easily maintain a high level of charge. And since it’s wireless, you don’t have to do anything except place your phone in the right place. 

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The Wireless Power Consortium booth – er, meeting room – had some interesting examples to show me.  One was a table with a built-in Qi compatible charger that can be deployed at restaurants, coffee shops and other places. In fact, some such tables can already be found in Japan and China. They number only in the hundreds, but it’s start.

For our Asian friends, who use more public transportation and tend to live in more densely packed cities, charging tables make a lot of sense. But here in North America we tend to get around with our own private vehicles. To help the standard get traction here, The Wireless Power Consortium is working with auto manufacturers to place wireless charging in automobiles. They hope that we’ll see it offered in a few vehicles starting the 2013 model year. 

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There are a lot of pieces that need to find their place in order for Qi to really take off, but they at least have the necessary partners including big names like Motorola and Texas Instruments, among many others. Keep an eye on this over the next year – it could end up being a true game changer. 

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2012 - Round 'em up! Ride 'em in!

Subject: General Tech | January 13, 2012 - 08:56 AM |
Tagged: trinity, corsair, CES, asus, amd

The Tech Report have been updating their coverage of CES 2012 as they try to sooth their aching feet, with pictures and information from three different vendors.  The most impressive, or at least most looked forward to, was seeing AMD's Trinity running in the wild.  We now know there will be two variants of the chip, one running with a 35W TDP and the smaller version at 17W.  Not only will they require less power than the current A-series, expect improvements in performance for both graphics and general computation. 

At Corsair's table is a case that looks to steal into NZXT's market with the $90 Carbide Series 300R which offers some nice features for a lower cost case,  Corsair is also beefing up their line up with the more expensive Obsidian Series 550D with many noise dampening features.  Finally they headed to ASUS and were given a peek at the newest audio technology that will replace the current Xonar models.

Remember to click on www.pcper.com/ces to see all of our hard work.

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