Subject: General Tech | September 8, 2011 - 08:09 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sandybridge, Intel, htpc, asrock
ASRock, a company most well known for its motherboards, has built a sleek little HTPC (home theater PC) whose specifications recently leaked to the web. Powered by a choice of Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge Core i3, i5, or i7 processors, and a discrete Nvidia GT540M graphics card with 1 GB RAM the small black or silver chassis has enough power to deliver 2D or 3D video with ease. Further, the computer features a Blu-ray drive, the aforementioned Nvidia 3D Vision technology, a media center remoter, and a media card reader.
Connectivity includes headphone and microphone inputs, two USB 3.0 ports, SD card reader, and power button on the front. The rear of the HTPC contains a host of connectivity options including a power jack, S/PDIF, 7.1 channel analog audio jacks, Ethernet, two USB 3.0 ports, DVI, E-SATA, HDMI 1.4a, and four USB 2.0 ports. Air ventilation slots and a Kensington lock slot.
Needless to say, this little PC is loaded with options, and would even be capable of some light gaming in addition to its role as a movie and multimedia playback device. The aesthetics are pretty good as well. Do you have a dedicated HTPC box in your entertainment center or do you use extender devices like the Xbox 360 to play your media on the TV? You can see more photos and details on the HTPC over at Engadget.
Subject: General Tech | September 8, 2011 - 12:03 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ultrabook, plastic and fibreglass, MiTAC Technology, Intel
A metal chassis, such as the magnesium- aluminium alloy we have seen on various Ultrabooks, is not actually in the specifications Intel set for manufacturers. It has been used because the incredible thinness that is specified would make a plastic chassis far too flexible and could cause the internal components to deform to the point they become damaged. The problem with the metal chassis is the expense, they do add to the cost of the Ultrabook and it seems that Intel is targeting that expense as the next price cut to the Ultrabook in an attempt to drop it below $1000.
They are working with a company called MiTAC Technology to develop a fibreglass and plastic material that will be much less expensive than a metal alloy case but still have enough rigidity for ease of use and to protect the internals. DigiTimes points out that fibreglass is much easier to colour than metal which could result in a case that is as attractive as brushed aluminium. The all-in-one PCs that they sell do include a touch screen so there must be some firmness to MiTAC's materials.
One of MiTAC's AIOs
"Intel has recently been aggressively cooperating with notebook chassis suppliers hoping to achieve the goal of dropping Ultrabook prices to below US$1,000, and Intel is currently focusing on pushing plastic and fiberglass hybrid chassis for the new machines, according to sources from the PC supply chain.
The sources pointed out that magnesium-aluminum alloy chassis are still the top choice for Ultrabooks, but limited by capacity and price, most of brand vendors are unable to offer an end price below the targeted US$1,000, and the three already-launched Ultrabooks from Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba are all estimated to have end price higher.
The sources also revealed that at one of Intel's recent supply chain conferences, Intel invited fiberglass chassis supplier Mitac Technology to participate and even had personnel from Mitac on stage to explain the technology which most of the attending suppliers believe is an indication for brand vendors to adopt the chassis."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- 3M and IBM get into the skyscraper business @ SemiAccurate
- Google will launch Android Ice Cream Sandwich in October or November @ The Inquirer
- Skype: Microsoft's $8.5 billion identity tool @ The Register
- TSMC expects to ramp 14nm process in 2015, says R&D head @ DigiTimes
- Yahoo pondering sale; what might Microsoft make of this mess? @ Ars Technica
- Nvidia boss: Windows 8 will run Windows Phone 7 apps @ The Register
- EnGenius ESR-9850 Wireless Router @ TechwareLabs
- Speedlink Snappy Smart Webcam @ XSReviews
Silly Intel, the high price and limited availability were the parts your Ultrabook was supposed to drop
Subject: General Tech | September 6, 2011 - 02:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ultrabook, Intel
The Ultrabook gambit is receiving a lot of attention and has been since before there was even a single model available for review. In this particular case the interest is not because of the hardware but because of the gamble Intel is taking trying to muscle in on Apple's ultramobile territory, especially since the memory of the UMPC is still fresh in the minds of many. Two benchmarks for success have pretty much been agreed upon by the tech wonks; it must cost less than the equivalent MacBook Air and people have to be able to buy one easily.
As we have seen, the price point is not great as the top tier manufacturers warned us it would be. By just barely matching Apple's prices on a new technology it gives Apple the chance to show off the maturity of their ultra-thin notebook lineup. If Intel had managed to better the pricing then there was a chance of some price conscious consumers at least giving the Ultrabook a try. Since all things are essentially equal between the two products, Apple users are probably just going to stick with what they know.
That price point also raised some reg flags, if manufactures are just barely able to match the competitors market prices it seems likely that their profit margin is taking a hit and the Ultrabooks are being sold on a thin margin just to ensure some will sell. If that were the case then you would expect to see limited initial runs of Ultrabooks from the major players in the industry and as of today we know that to be the reality. According to DigiTimes every single Intel Ultrabook partner is limiting their initial runs to under 50,000 units worldwide. That speaks volumes towards the confidence, or lack thereof, that these companies have in the financial success of the Ultrabook.
That leads directly to the second hurdle Intel faces; availability. No matter how fantastically paradigm breaking your product might be, if no one can buy one to find out for themselves then it won't survive in the marketplace. With under 50K available fom the four major top-tier vendors, it will be very hard to find an Ultrabook for sale or being demonstrated. That will kill the interest of consumers very quickly and could even trigger enough resentment to ensure that the Macbook Air remains the ultraportable of choice even if Intel's product might better the Apple product in certain ways.
"First-tier notebook brand vendors Acer, Lenovo, Toshiba and Asustek Computer, understanding that demand for notebooks is unlikely to recover in the fourth quarter, while Apple's products are taking up all the glory in the market, will limit their initial Ultrabook shipment volume to below 50,000 units for testing the water, according to sources from notebook makers.
To encourage its notebook brand partners, Intel will host a conference for Ultrabooks on September 14 in the hopes to resolve some technology bottlenecks and attract more notebook players to join the Ultrabook industry.
Acer, Toshiba, Lenovo and Asustek's new Ultrabook models will all start shipping in September and products will appear in the global retail channels in October. Acer's Ultrabook is manufactured by both Compal Electronics and Quanta Computer, while Toshiba's machine is outsourced to Compal with Lenovo's device handled by Wistron and Asustek's model by Pegatron Technology."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Ultrabook: Intel's $300 million plan to beat Apple at its own game @ Ars Technica
- Intel’s Dave Byrne and the state of the Solid State @ kitguru
- Intel reportedly plans to back off MeeGo OS @ DigiTimes
- Intel’s Ivy Bridge ‘delay’ rumors are laughable @ SemiAccurate
- Promise releases a Thunderbolt to fibre channel adaptor for Macs @ The Inquirer
- Space junk at 'tipping point', now getting worse on its own @ The Register
- Wicked Laser S3 Krypton Lightning Review: Holy Christ Now It’s Green and Goes Into Space @ Gizmodo
- iPhone 5 full specs detailed @ Tech-Reviews
- Coil gun revolver @ Hack a Day
- Nikon S2500 Review @ Tech-Reviews
- The next computing revolution will be televised @ The Tech Report
- MillionManLan 10 Event Coverage @ ThinkComputers
- The TR Podcast 95: Razer's Blade, Jobs retires, and a PC in your palm
Subject: General Tech | September 6, 2011 - 01:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: gpu, hardware, Utility, windows, amd, Intel, nvidia
GPU-Z is a fine little Windows utility that, much like its CPU-Z brethren, can tell you all sorts of useful information about your graphics sub-system. The lightweight program does not require a restart, and weighs in at 922 KB. GPU-Z is distributed by TechPowerUp, and is now officially on it’s 0.5.5 version.
The new version adds support for a slew of AMD and Nvidia graphics cards, improved support for BIOS identification, and a new tab for a giveaway by graphics card vendor PowerColor. On the AMD front, the new version adds support for the companies line of A-Series APU graphics cores, AMD’s mobile cayman GPU “Blackcomb,” and various FirePro cards including the V8000, V3700, and 2460 (FireMV). On the Nvidia side of things, the new version adds support for the GeForce GT 530, GT 545, GT 560 Ti OEM, Quadro 400, Quadro 4000M, and Quadro 5000. Further, GPU-Z updated support for mobile versions of Nvidia cards, including the GeForce GT 305M, 410M, 520M, 520MX, 555M, and the GTX 580M.
The program further improves the BIOS readings of Nvidia cards as well as fixing a shader count detection bug on the Blackcomb mobile Cayman AMD parts. The ASUS MARS II GPU also receives support in version 0.5.5. PowerColor is holding a giveaway for a 6990 graphics card to a lucky winner. The new GPU-Z tab has all the relevant information as well as an entry form. Lastly, the program will now remember the last selected GPU selected from the drop down on multi-GPU systems.
The updated support is nice, and the lightweight program starts up just as fast as the previous versions. Do you use GPU-Z? You can download the new version here.
Subject: Processors | September 5, 2011 - 09:52 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sandy bridge, pentium, Intel, cpu, Core, celeron, 32nm
Intel today released a price list which included 16 new 32nm processors. The new additions fill in gaps in the Celeron, Pentium, and Core product lines. The new additions are then further broken down into the desktop and mobile camps. On the desktop front, there are four Celeron models ranging from $47 to $52, three Pentium models ranging from $70 to $86, and four new Core i series processors ranging from $127 to $177. Within that range, there are three hyper-threaded dual core Core i3 part and one quad core Core i5 processor.
The mobile additions include one low end and four high end models. On the low end is the dual core Celeron B840 at 1.9GHz with 2 MB L3 cache and 35W TDP. On the high end are four Core i7 chips. The Core i7 2640M is a $346 part and is a hyper-threaded dual core chip at 2.8 GHz, 4 MB L3 cache, and 35W TDP. The Core i7 2760QM is a hyper-threaded quad core part at 2.4 GHz, 6 MB L3 cache, and a 45W TDP. As another 45W TDP part, the Core i7 2860 QM is also a hyper-threaded quad core at 2.5 GHz with 8 MB L3 cache. The highest end mobile chip addition is the Core i7 2960XM, which is a hyper-threaded quad core at 2.7 GHz, a 55W TDP, and 8 MB of L3 cache.
As you can see, there are quite a few new additions filling out the product lineup at various price points and performance segments. See the chart below for the full list and specs.
|Core i5-2320||3.0 GHz||4/4||6MB||95W||$177|
|Core i3-2130||3.4 GHz||2/4||3MB||65W||$138|
|Core i3-2125||3.3 GHz||2/4||3MB||65W||$134|
|Core i3-2120T||2.6 GHz||2/4||3MB||35W||$127|
|Pentium G860||3.0 GHz||2/2||3MB||65W||$86|
|Pentium G630||2.7 GHz||2/2||3MB||65W||$75|
|Pentium G630T||2.3 GHz||2/2||3MB||35W||$70|
|Celeron G540||2.5 GHz||2/2||2MB||65W||$52|
|Celeron G530T||2.0 GHz||2/2||2MB||35W||$47|
|Celeron G530||2.4 GHz||2/2||2MB||65W||$42|
|Celeron G440||1.6 GHz||1/1||1MB||35W||$37|
|Core i7-2960XM||2.7 GHz||4/8||8MB||55W||$1,096|
|Core i7-2860QM||2.5 GHz||4/8||8MB||45W||$568|
|Core i7-2760QM||2.4 GHz||4/8||6MB||45W||$378|
|Core i7-2640M||2.8 GHz||2/4||4MB||35W||$346|
|Celeron B840||1.9 GHz||2/2||2MB||35W||$86|
Hot on the heels of the Toshiba and Lenovo ultrabook announcements comes a new ultrabook from Acer. Engadget recently got their hands on the new Acer Aspire S3 ultrabook at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) technology showcase in Berlin. The 13.3” computer carries some impressive specifications, including a 7 hour long battery life, metal chassis, and the latest Intel processors.
To be more specific, the Acer computer is a 13.3” ultrabook composed of a magnesium alloy chassis measuring 13mm thick. Inside the metal frame lies an ultra low voltage Core i3, i5, or i7 Sandy Bridge processor, DDR3 RAM, and an interesting storage solution made of a 20GB SSD and 320GB mechanical hard drive combination. Acer is promising a 7 hour battery life, and a 1.5 second resume from sleep time. Further, the ultrabook features a glossy 1366 x 768 resolution display, and a chicklet keyboard whose keys Engadget notes feels like plastic.
While their is no word on US pricing, Acer has released the European starting price at €799. Compromises have been made to reach the price point (mainly in the keyboard); however, if the specifications and design hold up it looks to be a solid competitor in the ultrabook market. More photos as well as a video tour of the ultrabook can be found here.
Subject: Mobile | September 2, 2011 - 01:08 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: z830, ultrabook, toshiba, sandy bridge, portege, Intel
There has been quite the buzz over ultrabooks for the past few weeks, and it seems as though Toshiba is ready to grab their slice of the news pie (actually, can we have cake?) with the announcement of their Portege Z830 series of, you guessed it, ultrabooks.
Powered by Intel Sandy Bridge processors, the ultra (slim) book is housed in a magnesium alloy chassis measuring 15.9mm (0.63 inches) thick. Slated to be 20% lighter and 40% thinner than their previous ultraportable Portege R830 series, the company has reinforced the chassis with a honeycomb ribbing (I’m sure Josh is making a joke out of that right now) and some new internal shock dampening structures. The company stated that the Z830 would weigh less than 2.5 lbs, though the number may vary depending on the specific configuration. Because the notebook is so thin, they needed to go metal for the chassis to prevent serious warping and bending of the computer (and is coincidentally one of the items that caused manufacturers to complain about the sub-$1,000 requirement). Other chassis features include a full size LED backlit and spill resistant keyboard.
Other hardware details about the computer are scarce in that Toshiba has not released much. The ultrabook will contain a 128 GB solid state drive and DDR3 memory. From photos of the ultrabook, the computer supports (likely Gigabit) Ethernet, USB, and HDMI ports. Stereo speakers by Waves Audio, Toshiba’s High Speed Start and USB Sleep and Charge technologies are also featured.
The Protege Z830 ultrabook series will be available in November 2011, and will carry a MSRP of less than $1,000 USD. Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more ultrabook coverage.
Subject: Motherboards | August 30, 2011 - 07:17 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Utility, p67, motherboard, Intel, gigabyte, bios
According to Tech Power UP, Gigabyte recently released a Windows tool that allows users to change the SATA controller mode without digging into the BIOS. The SATA controller mode relates to how the controller on the motherboard or add-on card communicates with the hard drive or SSD. Users will be able to choose from legacy IDE, AHCI, and RAID modes. From the brightly colored Windows tool, users can change the setting accordingly. The utility will then write the setting to the CMOS and prompt the user to reboot the computer so that the change can take effect.
The tool will work with any Gigabyte motherboards with the Intel H61, H67, P67, or Z68 chipsets. Further, the utility will run on both 32 bit and 64 bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems. It is available to download from here. The package comes as a zip file containing an executable that does not need to be installed, which is a welcome touch.
While the Gigabyte Disk Mode Switch tool will make changing the setting easier than digging through the BIOS, it effectively accomplishes the same thing. What this means from a practical standpoint is that the Windows tool for changing the SATA mode suffers from the same issues that changing it in the BIOS does; mainly that the (Windows) operating system does not like such drastic changes and the user may encounter problems with Windows recognizing the drive and/or assigning the proper drivers. This is an issue primarily when changing the SATA mode of the drive that the operating system is installed on. While there are some registry tweaks that promise to help smooth the process, it is generally recommend to ensure the proper SATA mode is set before installing Windows onto the drive. Therefore, this tool’s usefulness is somewhat questionable.
Have you encountered any issues in changing the SATA mode post-install? Is this gigabyte tool useful or just another piece of manufacturer "helpware" that DIYers will never use?
Subject: General Tech | August 29, 2011 - 01:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: cedar trail, Intel, Atom N2800
If you haven't run across them yet, VR-Zone just released a sneak peek at Intel's new ultramobile chip lineup, which we know as Cedar Trail. The benchmarks that they found are a little odd, consisting of 3DMark 2006 and PCMark 2005 so the results need to be taken with that context in mind. Still the Atom N2800 manages to triple the performance of the previous Atom generation so there have been some noticeable improvements. The problem is the netbook form factor its self, as tablets and even smart phones can replicate the tasks that the netbook was intended for. That could mean that no matter how good Cedar Trail is, the form factor it is set to dominate may be going extinct. They do offer HDMI out now though.
"We're not sure how much life there's left in the netbook market, but considering that Intel is looking to offer some very affordable next gen Atom processors, its upcoming Cedar Trail processors might just be what the netbook market space needs to catch a second wind. VR-Zone can exclusively unveil the first benchmark figures for Intel's upcoming mobile Atom processors and although they're unlikely to blow anyone's mind, they're a huge improvement over the previous generation."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- AMD hopes to replicate Lenovo's rise to power with CEO @ The Inquirer
- gScreen Unveils SpaceBook, World's First Dual 17-inch Screen Notebook @ DailyTech
- The case for a free market in IPv4 addresses @ Ars Technica
- A Look Through Fedora 16 Alpha @ Phoronix
- Tp-link TL-WR1043ND Wireless N Gigabit Router @ Rbmods
- Cadence 4-Bit Binary Leather Watch Review @ Legit Reviews
- Win 50 PC codes for Deus Ex: Human Revolution @ t-break
- Win a BlackBerry Torch 9800 [Red] @ t-break
- Win a Sennheiser CXC 700 @ t-break
- Name the Browser Contest @ NGOHQ
Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2011 - 11:56 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ultrabook, tablet, windows 8, microsoft, Intel
Two contrasting opinions appeared this morning on the internet, concerned with not only the future of mobile computing in a possibly post-PC market but also touching on the impact Microsoft's Windows 8 could have on that choice. DigiTimes has a report from Wistron, an original design manufacturer based in Taiwan, which is concerned with the ultrabook. They see the coming year as dominated by the contentious ultrabook platform which Intel has been talking up recently. The company managed US$21.1B in revenue last year, so they are neither a small player nor uninformed about the industry. That does leave one wondering how they plan on making a profit if the bill of materials is as high as some manufacturers have claimed. Still, that is where the manufacturer sees Windows 8 making the most difference to the market.
Ars Technica sees a different path for Microsoft to take, one that would be very different from the theory discussed by DigiTimes and very different from anything Microsoft has previously done. In this article, Ars suggests that the PC market is at a standstill because we have hit a post-PC market thanks to the tablet. While Microsoft has always considered the tablet to be a PC in a different form factor, Apple and other successful tablet marketers have visualized a completely different model. While Apple may have taken it to the most extreme, with no visible OS nor even a USB connector so you can transfer files directly from a camera or thumbdrive, nor hook up a wired peripheral. Other manufacturers have taken a less extreme approach but still hide the OS and have removed associated tasks like driver installation. That is very different from Microsoft's version of a tablet or phone which runs a trimmed down but still very recognizable OS and tends not to sell very well.
The question becomes one of design incompatibility; if Microsoft wants to release a Windows 8 which emulates the successful tablet OSes of the competition it will have to design something so different from their past OSes that it would be unrecognizable as a PC. In order to hide the OS and offload applications onto the cloud to make a perfect tablet the design choices would limit the effectiveness of Win8 as a PC OS. On the flip side, if they choose to design for the Ultrabook, risky in that we still have yet to hear the end of the pricing issues, the OS will be much lighter than previous versions but will still have a recognizable file system, the ability to update or customize drivers and all the other features common to netbooks through laptops. It will however not be a successful tablet OS, as history has shown with the failures of Microsoft's tablets and phones, some of which died before every being released.
The one thing that they can't do is try to make Windows 8 do both service as a laptop and a tablet OS. If they go that way, users on both sides of the divide will likely lose as you end up with an OS not customizable enough to do duty on a more powerful notebook or desktop. As well, it will have an interface which is similar to previous attempts by Microsoft to sell tablets which to this date have all failed against the competition.
"The launch of ultrabooks and Microsoft's Windows 8 OS will serve as growth drivers for the notebook industry in 2012, according to Simon Lin, chairman of Taiwan-based notebook ODM Wistron.
Shipments of ultrabooks will account for 10-20% of Wistron's total notebook shipments in 2012, Lin estimated.
Despite current economic turbulence touched off by debt issues in Europe and the US, Wistron's target to ship 30 million notebooks in 2011 remains unchanged, said Lin, who added that notebook Wistron's shipments will grow by a single-digit rate sequentially in the third and fourth quarters.
However, the company has slashed its LCD TV shipment target for the year to 8.5 million units, from 10 million units projected previously, while also scaling down the target for mobile devices from 10-12 million units to nine million.
Wistron has reported net profits of NT$4.5 billion (US$154.77 million) for the first half of 2011, down 20.44% from a year earlier. The earnings translated into an EPS of NT$2.28 for the six-month period."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- .NET Framework "1935 Error" Cripples Some Users' Office, IE9 Installs @ DailyTech
- And the Bulldozer die size is…….. @ SemiAccurate
- FPGA bitcoin miner is probably the most power efficient. @ Hack a Day
- Linux 3.1 Kernel Draws More Power With Another Regression @ Phoronix
- McAfee defends against Kaspersky's Shady RAT alarmist jibe @ The Inquirer
- Asus Black Diamond RT-N56U Router and USB-N13 Adapter Review @ OCIA
- Google Launches Identity Verification Badge Scheme @ Slashdot
- Video: Shocking [Jack] into submission with High Voltage @ Hack a Day
- Skype buys communications firm Groupme @ The Inquirer
- The TR Podcast 94: Dorm PCs and playing with blocks
- Real World Labs And Antec Joint Contest
- Cooler Master Silencio, GX 550 and Sentinal Giveaway @ XSReviews