GTC 2013: Prepare for Graphics Overload

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 18, 2013 - 06:10 PM |
Tagged: GTC 2013, nvidia

We just received word from Tim Verry, our GTC correspondent and news troll, about his first kick at the conference. This... is his story.

Graphics card manufacturer, NVIDIA, is hosting its annual GPU Technology Conference (GTC 2013) in San Jose, California this week. PC Perspective will be roaming the exhibit floor and covering sessions as NVIDIA and its partners discuss upcoming graphics technologies, GPGPU, programming, and a number of other low level computing topics.

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The future... is tomorrow!

A number of tech companies will be on site and delivering presentations to show off their latest Kepler-based systems. NVIDIA will deliver its keynote presentation tomorrow for the press, financial and industry analysts, and business partners to provide a glimpse at the green team's roadmap throughout 2013 - and maybe beyond.

We cannot say for certain what NVIDIA will reveal during its keynote; but, since we have not been briefed ahead of time, we are completely free to speculate! I think one certainty is the official launch of the Kepler-based K6000 workstation card; for example. While I do not expect to see Maxwell, we could possibly see a planned refresh of the Kepler-based components with some incremental improvements: I predict power efficiency over performance. Perhaps we will receive a cheaper Titan-like consumer card towards the end of 2013? Wishful thinking on my part? A refresh of its GK104 architecture would be nice to see as well, even if actual hardware will not show up until next year. I expect that NVIDIA will react to whatever plans AMD has to decide whether it is in their interest to match them or not.

I do expect to see more information on GRID and Project SHIELD, however. NVIDIA has reportedly broadened the scope of this year's conference to include mobile sessions: expect Tegra programming and mobile GPGPU goodness to be on tap.

It should be an interesting week of GPU news. Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more coverage as the conference gets underway.

What are you hoping to see from NVIDIA at GTC 2013?

Welcome Richland, another refined die from AMD

Subject: Processors | March 12, 2013 - 11:52 AM |
Tagged: VLIW4, trinity, Richland, piledriver, notebook, mobile, hd 8000, APU, amd, A10-5750

The differences between Richland and Trinity are not earth shattering but there are certainly some refinements implemented by AMD in the A10-5750.  One very noticeable one is support for DDR3-1866 as well as better power management for both the CPU and GPU; with new temperature balancing algorithms and measurement the ability to balance the load properly has increased from Trinity.  Many AMD users will be more interested in the GPU portion of the die than the CPU, as that is where AMD actually has as lead on Intel and this particular chip contains the HD8650G, with clocks of 720MHz boost and 533MHz base and increase from the previous generation of 35 and 37MHz respectively.  You can read more about the other three models that will be released over at The Tech Report.

Don't forget Josh either!

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"AMD has formally introduced the first members of its Richland APU family. We have the goods on the chips and Richland's new power management tech, which combines temperature-based inputs with bottleneck-aware clock boosting."

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Not quite an ultrabook but more than a tablet, Samsung's ATIV Smart PC

Subject: Mobile | March 7, 2013 - 12:34 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T, win8, digital audio converter, ultrabook

Samsung's ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T is a convertible tablet with aspirations to be an ultrabook, it is 1.97 lbs, with an 11.6" 1080p touchscreen powered by a Core i5-3317U with 4GB of DDR3-1600 in single channel configuration.  For connectivity you get a a MicroSD port, a single USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports on the dock, Micro HDMI and analog audio with Wi-Fi, WiDi and Bluetooth 4.0.  The Tech Report tested its battery life for both surfing and playing 720p video, seeing 6 hours in the first case and 5 hours in the second with very little difference when tested docked.  The final verdict was mixed, while it is almost an ultrabook and almost a convertible tablet in many ways it inherited the worst of both worlds; though if you find yourself needing both devices in your life this ATIV might be a good compromise for you.

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"This Windows 8 convertible has x86 ultrabook guts, an 11.6" 1080p display, and speedy solid-state storage. Attach it to the bundled keyboard dock, and it turns into a quasi-ultrabook. Is this the ultimate Windows 8 mobile machine, and is it worth the nearly $1,200 asking price?"

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Android Version of Chrome May Get SPDY Proxy Speed Boost

Subject: General Tech | March 4, 2013 - 11:17 PM |
Tagged: web browser, mobile, chrome, Android

Chrome for Android will allegedly be getting a speed boost thanks to a new SPDY-assisted proxy service. If a recent patch is any indication, future versions of Chrome may adopt a proxy service similar to Opera Turbo, Amazon Silk, or BlackBerry Proxy. Google would take advantage of its SPDY protocol to compress and multiplex web sites. We requests would be sent through Google, where Google would take the HTTP/HTTPS pages, compress and otherwise optimize them, and send them to your Android smartphone.

 

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While on Wi-Fi or a wired connection, the performance merits of such proxy services are minimal at best (and at worst can actually slow down page loads). With that said, over a mobile network--especially if you are living in an area with (at best) 3G speeds, the new SPDY proxy service could make a huge difference in page load times. If my experiences using Opera and its Turbo proxy service over a 3G connection for the past month is any indication of the potential benefits of such a setup, some pages will load much faster, a few sites will actually load slower than browsing without the proxy, and the majority of websites will fall somewhere in between those two extremes, providing a slightly faster web browsing experience. Google may be taking things a step further by introducing its SPDY protocol to speed up the HTTP requests, which is an interesting tactic beyond the basic compression and/or caching that the existing alternatives employ.

Details on the hinted-at Google-run SPDY proxy service are scarce, but I hope that it holds true. There are some privacy considerations, but if you are just reading articles and have resigned yourself to the fact that Chrome/Google tracks you anyway (heh) it is a nice optional feature to have!

Source: Engadget

Seagate Will Cease Production of 7200 RPM Notebook Hard Drives Later This Year

Subject: General Tech | March 3, 2013 - 01:49 AM |
Tagged: Seagate, mobile, laptop, hard drives, 7200 rpm

Seagate Technology, the world’s second largest hard drive manufacturer (by market share), recently announced that it will be ceasing production on notebook hard drives featuring 7200 RPM spindle speeds. According to X-Bit Labs, Seagate Director of Marketing and Product Management David Burks stated that “We are going [to] stop building our notebook 7200rpm hard disk drives at the end of 2013.”

 

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Stopping production of high-end notebook hard drives is a curious move for a company that is still dependent on hard drives to survive--with just a toe in the Solid State space with its hybrid hard drives. On the other hand, the market for such high-end notebook drives is likely feeling pressure from Solid State drives for pure performance at any price, cheap hard drives paired with a small mSATA caching SSD, and high-capacity 5400 RPM drives at extremely cheap prices. Users that would have traditionally favored 7200 RPM drives for an extra price during laptop configuration are now faced with more choices on the performance at modest price increases front with caching options. Further, with the advent of interfaces like Thunderbolt and USB 3.0, it is now more acceptable to go with a low capacity, cheaper, Solid State Drive for the operating system and applications while using external hard drives for your storage needs without incurring a transfer speed bottleneck that USB 2.0 exhibited.

Reportedly, Seagate will stop production of its Momentus 7200.4, Momentus 7200.2, and Momentus Thin notebook drive lineups. Further, the storage company will put more focus into further fleshing out its Momentus XT drives. The XT series features a spindle hard drive and small bit of SLC NAND flash for caching frequently accessed files. Hopefully the renewed focus on its hybrid hard drive series will result in drives with larger caches. That may necessitate the move to MLC flash to keep costs down, but I think a HHD with 32GB+ of MLC or TLC flash would be an acceptable compromise.

What do you think of the move? Customers will likely be able to get their hands on 7200 RPM mobile drives well into 2014 thanks to stock on hand at the various OEMs and retailers (and alternative options from other HDD manufacturers), so the fallout is likely to be minimal. Still, is it the right move for Seagate?

Source: X-Bit Labs

ASUS PadFone Infinity Bows at MWC 2013

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 1, 2013 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon 600, qualcomm, padfone infinity, padfone, MWC 13, MWC, asus

Mobile World Congress 2013 pulled up stakes yesterday in Barcelona, but the buzz will echo worldwide for quite a while. While fewer companies are unveiling flagship devices at the big industry shows, one new entrant into the mobile sphere definitely caught our eye: the ASUS PadFone Infinity.

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Image via ASUS.com

Not to be confused with ASUS's 7" phablet Fonepad, the PadFone Infinity is the company's third version of its two-in-one phone/tablet, and it has taken major strides beyond its predecessors, the PadFone and the PadFone 2.

On its own, the handset is a 5" LTE phone, powered by Qualcomm's 1.7 GHz Snapdragon 600 Quad-core CPU, with 2 GB of RAM and the integrated Andreno 320 GPU that can crank out 1080p video sweetness (improving on the PadFone 2's 720p), and with 64 GB of onboard storage. Also included is 50 GB of free ASUS Webstorage for two years.

The PadFone Infinity ships with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (although the demo video embedded below says 4.1) and is the first in its family to sport an anodized aluminum unibody with a brushed-metal back case.

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Image via ASUS.com

But slide it into the PadFone Station, and suddenly you're holding a full-HD, 10.1" tablet. Basically, it's like getting two devices on a single carrier contract.

The devices' battery performance is fairly impressive, at least when taken in tandem. The phone lists 19 hours of 3G talk time, which can triple when connected to the Station. The phone's battery claims 6.5 hours of browsing and nine hours of video playback, to each of which you can add 7.5 hours when connected to the Station.

The phone's 5" display--up from 4.3" and 4.7" in the first two generations respectively--features 1920x1080 pixels (the same as the pad's 10.1" screen) with a resolution of 441 PPI. (Compare at 326 PPI on the iPhone 5's Retina Display.)

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Image via ASUS.com

The dimensions of each device are relatively svelte. The phone is 8.9 mm thick, tapering sharply to 6.3 mm at the edges, and weighing in at 141 grams (roughly 5 ounces, for the metrically challenged). The pad is 10.6 mm thick and adds 530 grams (nearly 19 ounces) to the overall weight.

On the chassis you'll find a MyDP port, which supports Micro-USB 2.0 and 1080p video-out, 3.5 mm audio, and a Nano SIM slot. The front camera shoots 2 megapixels, while on the rear is an almost obscene 13MP, f/2.0 camera that features a burst mode of 8 frames per second. It shoots 1080p MPEG4 video at 30fps or 720p at 60fps.

ASUS says the PadFone Infinity will be available in April in Taiwan and in "selected other countries from early Q2 2013" at the hefty price of 999 euros (roughly US $1,300). Sadly, there is no word of a U.S. release.

Check out ASUS's demo video:

Happy 0th Birthday Firefox OS

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 26, 2013 - 01:19 AM |
Tagged: Firefox OS, mozilla, firefox, MWC, MWC 13

Mobile World Congress is going on at Barcelona and this year sees the official entry of a new contender: Firefox OS.

Mozilla held their keynote speech the day before the official start to the trade show. If there is anything to be learned from CES, it would be that there is an arms race to announce your product before everyone else steals media attention while still being considered a part of the trade show. By the time the trade show starts, most of the big players have already said all that they need to say.

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If you have an hour to spare, you should check it out for yourself. The whole session was broadcast and recorded on Air Mozilla.

The whole concept of Firefox OS as I understand it is to open up web standards such that it is possible to create a completely functional mobile operating system from it. Specific platforms do not matter, the content will all conform to a platform of standards which anyone would be able to adopt.

I grin for a different reason: should some content exist in the future that is intrinsically valuable to society, its reliance on an open-based platform will allow future platforms to carry it.

Not a lot of people realize that iOS and Windows RT disallow alternative web browsers. Sure, Google Chrome the app exists for iOS, but it is really a re-skinned Safari. Any web browser in the Windows Store will use Trident as its rendering engine by mandate of their certification rules. This allows the platform developer to be choosey with whichever standards they wish to support. Microsoft has been very vocally against any web standard backed by Khronos. You cannot install another browser if you run across a web application requiring one of those packages.

When you have alternatives, such as Firefox OS, developers are promoted to try new things. The alternative platforms promote standards which generate these new applications and push the leaders to implement those standards too.

And so we creep ever-closer to total content separation from platform.

Source: Mozilla

A familty of Win8 powered gaming laptops from Cyberpower

Subject: Mobile | February 25, 2013 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: Cyberpower, fangbook, fangbook x200, gtx 675mx

CyberPower's Fangbook series has three models, the X7-100 for$1300, the X7-200 at $1500 and the X7-300 for $1800 with the differences lying in the graphics and storage systems, the first two use a GTX 675MX with the X7-300 using a GTX680M and you will find SSDs in both the 200 and 300.  Bjorn3D tried the X7-200, with 16GB of RAM, a 60GB boot SSD backed up by a 750GB spinning disk and a i7-3630QM.  With a 17.3" LCD this is not a small nor light laptop but at least the screen is a full 1080p and your GPU will be enough to allow you to play games at this resolution.  Gaming laptops are a very niche market, read if you are a part of it and see if this laptop will do for you what a full size or SFF desktop cannot.

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"Cyberpower is a premier high end system builder, with that they have some great options from mild to wild when it comes to system designs and options. Today we have the Fangbook X7-200 which is a new extreme gaming laptop built to make the days of being chained to a desk obsolete."

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Source: Bjorn3D

Video Perspective: Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 Preview

Subject: Mobile | February 7, 2013 - 08:43 AM |
Tagged: z2760, video, Thinkpad, tablet 2, tablet, Lenovo, clovertrail, atom z2760, atom

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 just arrived at our office this week and before our full review we wanted to show our readers a quick overview on the design, features, accessories and performance of this 1.3 lbs Intel Atom Z2760 based computer.  Running a full version of Windows 8 Pro, and not the somewhat limited Windows RT found on the MS Surface and ASUS VivoTab RT, the Tablet 2 (horrible name not withstanding) looks to be a pretty interesting device for users that want x86 compatibility and mobility.

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Enjoy the video preview below!

 

Video Loading...

 

Dell Goes Private, Microsoft Loans Some Help

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | February 5, 2013 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: dell

Dell, dude, you're getting a Dell!

So it is official that Dell is going private. Michael Dell, CEO, as well as: Silver Lake, MSD Capital, several banks, and Dell itself will buy back stocks from investors 25% above the January 11th trading price. The whole deal would be worth $24.4 billion USD.

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Going private allows the company to make big shifts in their business without answering to investors on a quarterly basis. We can see how being a publicly traded company seems to hinder businesses after they grow beyond what a cash infusion can assist. Even Apple finds it necessary to keep an absolutely gigantic pile of cash to play with, only recently paying dividends to investors.

Also contributing to the buyback, as heavily reported, is a $2 billion USD loan from Microsoft. While it sounds like a lot in isolation, it is only just over 8% of the whole deal. All you really can pull is that it seems like Microsoft supports Dell in their decision and is putting their money where their intentions are.

Source: The Verge

BlackBerry Releases BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 Smartphones With BB10 OS

Subject: Mobile | January 31, 2013 - 11:35 AM |
Tagged: smartphone, RIM, blackberry z10, blackberry q10, blackberry, BB10

Research In Motion (RIM) is no more, but the company will live on as BlackBerry. Earlier this week, the company held a press conference where it made the name change official and introduced two new smartphones running the BlackBerry 10 operating system. It was a lot to take in at the time, and it has taken me this long for me to write about it as I have been torn on how I feel about the new BlackBerry.

First up though, the phones certainly look quite good. They are rather sleek looking utilizing curved edges well. BlackBerry has designed an all-touchscreen Z10 and a smaller Q10 smartphone with physical keyboard that is has just enough Bold DNA to evoke fond memories of my first smartphone.

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The Z10 features a 4.2” touchscreen with a resolution of 1280 x 768 (356 PPI). Beneath the hood is a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC clocked at 1.5 GHz along with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. For expansion, the phone supports micro SD cards. It can output video over HDMI and the phone includes an 8MP rear camera and a 2MP webcam. NFC and Wi-Fi are included along with LTE support.

Customers in the UK and Canada will be getting their hands on the phone sometime this week. US residents will have to wait until springtime, however. The BlackBerry Z10 is slated for a spring 2013 US launch (around March). In the US, the black version will be available on AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile for $149 while a white SKU will be $199 and a Verizon exclusive (Verizon will also sell the black model, but reportedly at the higher $199 price).

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The Q10 carries the same internal hardware as the Z10 but goes with a smaller 3.1” 720 x 720 touchscreen. Beneath the screen is a physical keyboard reminiscent of the old BlackBerry Bold. Specs and pricing were more-scarce here, but it should see a US release sometime in April 2013.

Both BlackBerry smartphones run the company’s new BB10 operating system. The new OS is a complete overhaul that has several neat features. There is a new BBM client that integrated video chat and screen sharing, an app store with 70,000 launch apps, a work and home workspace separation (which will be great for BYOD workplaces), and a feature called Peek. Peek is invoked by a swipe gesture and allows you to, well, peek at a second application (such as email0 while watching a video or browsing the web. BlackBerry 10 will run multiple applications in the background and has an app switcher similar to Maemo where it displays live icons laid out in a grid. The OS also includes a camera application and editor. The camera app allows you to time-shift a bit after the photo is taken in order to find the best shot (for example, finding the shot where everyone was looking at the camera and/or not blinking). It is nice to see that rolled into a smartphone camera as it is rather useful when trying to get group shots of the family! Having the physical keyboard is sure to be a boon to many former BlackBerry users and may be the deciding factor in those users coming back to BlackBerry after leaving for Android and iOS.

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That statement does segway nicely into my worry, however. Essentially “former users” is the key phrase, and after Android and iOS have gobbled up the market I do not know that BB10 and the two new phones will be enough to win back their former users much less new customers that did not grow up using BlackBerry phones. Don’t get me wrong, the phones look really nice, and BB10 as an operating system shows promise. On the other hand, Google and Apple have a colossal head start and the majority of the market share. This is a stranglehold that even OS-juggernaut Microsoft has not been able to crack with its new Windows Phone 8 devices. BlackBerry may be able to win back the hearts of IT departments and grab some of the enterprise market, but I worry that BlackBerry took too long to put out BB10 and supporting hardware to reclaim its former glory.

I suppose I will just have to wait and see how well-received the phones are at the contract prices versus deals that are likely to be given out for Galaxy SIII phones, the Nexus 4, and previous-gen iPhones (keep in mind the Galaxy S4 is rumored to be released soon, so that would make the S3 likely to get a nice discounted on-contract price).

By all that is Brick Breaker, I hope that RIM BlackBerry finds some way to succeed. Perhaps a partnership with NVIDIA for Tegra-powered BB10 devices? After all, as Ryan mentioned on the podcast NVIDIA is in need of design wins for it's chips and BlackBerry could do with more hardware aimed at more price points.

Enough of my speculation, however. What do you think about the new BlackBerry and it's new devices?

Source: Ars Technica

NVIDIA Project SHIELD Development Detailed - Idea to Launch in One Year

Subject: Mobile | January 30, 2013 - 03:13 PM |
Tagged: tegra 4, tegra, shield, nvidia

A very interesting blog post by NVIDIA's Brian Caulfield tells the story of "How Project SHIELD Got Built" and you might be surprised about the timeline they were on.  In the story Caulfield details the team's move from idea to the CES release in under 12 months:

In less than a year, SHIELD has grown from an idea dreamed up by Jen-Hsun, Tony, and a handful of others into a conspiracy involving hundreds of gaming fanatics across every department at NVIDIA. “We’ve been talking on and off about building something for more than five years, maybe 10,” says Tony.

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Caulfield goes on to detail several steps in the process including design, production, the first module shown to Huang, NVIDIA CEO, and more.  After realizing that they had the hardware with Tegra 4 and the software (both GeForce Experience and the controller drivers used by games from the TegraZone store), Tony Tomasi surmised that the company should "just build a device with a great controller built in."

The first prototype, assembled in early 2012, was little more than a game controller fastened to a smartphone with wood. From that crude beginning, NVIDIA’s team of industrial designers sculpted a device that could fit in a user’s hands. No outsourcing required: NVIDIA has a team of veterans who have already shaped the look of a number of products built around NVIDIA’s processors, such as the drool-worthy GeForce GTX 690.

Unfortunately no images of that wood-clad version of the SHIELD were shared, but the idea is amusing none the less.  NVIDIA does admit that the killer feature of the device is the ability to stream PC games from a GeForce powered machine to the SHIELD remotely.

Streaming games from PCs equipped with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 or better GPUs puts cutting-edge games on SHIELD on day one. As NVIDIA’s smart, funny marketing VP Ujesh Desai put it, when cynical gamers ask the eternal question – ‘but can it play Crysis’ – NVIDIA will have a simple answer ‘yes it does.’

And apparently some developers have been "lobbying" NVIDIA to make a console for years - a fact that I find both interesting and hilarious. 

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Overall the post is incredibly insightful, if a bit overly "marketing-ish" about the product it discusses.  With such a tight timeline on the design and build I am curious to see if NVIDIA will be able to meet the deadline of release they set during CES: Q2 2013.  Also, many lines in the blog post are obviously meant to temper the fact that NVIDIA chips will find their way into exactly zero (0) consoles this generation and it is becoming more and more obvious that SHIELD is a reaction to that fact. 

We are eager to learn more and get our hands on it again!

Source: NVIDIA

MSI's AMD powered $1200 gaming laptop, the GX60

Subject: Mobile | January 30, 2013 - 02:50 PM |
Tagged: msi, gx60, gaming laptop, amd, 7970m

If you want a gaming laptop and don't want to spend $2000+ then an AMD powered machine is a really good choice, even if you are attracted to Intel's more powerful CPUs.  Not only are the graphics on the A10-4600M better than Intel's offerings, the MSI GX60 comes with a discrete 7970M GPU with 2GB of dedicated RAM.  That will beat out all but the most expensive of Intel powered gaming laptops and in certain situations will prove more powerful than even the most expensive laptops.  If you opt to have a 128GB SSD installed in the GX60 it will bring the price to about $1500, you could most likely get a 256GB SSD separately instead if you are looking to save some cash.  Check out the performance at TechSpot.

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"Most people can’t afford to spend a few thousand on a notebook computer, even if it's on a solid gaming machine that doubles as a desktop replacement. To that end, today we'll be checking out a portable from MSI that aims to deliver a solid gaming experience without the excessive cost.

The MSI GX60 comes packed with a quad-core AMD A10-4600M CPU clocked at 2.3GHz alongside AMD Radeon HD 7970M discrete graphics with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, a 15.6-inch non-glare display operating at 1920x1080, 8GB of DDR3 memory in a 4GBx2 configuration, 128GB of flash storage used as the OS drive and a 750GB 7200RPM disk drive for storage."

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Source: TechSpot

NVIDIA to start producing tablets and smartphones for white-labeling

Subject: Mobile | January 28, 2013 - 12:35 PM |
Tagged: white label, tegra 4, tegra, tablet, shield, nvidia, cell phone

If you thought that NVIDIA's entry into the world of the mobile entertainment and gaming device market was odd with the announcement of the Shield Android-powered unit, we have some more rumors sneaking up from Droidlife.com about a possible move to develop and manufacture cell phones and tablets as well. 

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While many SoC vendors often create proof of concept designs based around their own chips, none of the major players are in the business of building devices meant to find their way into consumers hands.  NVIDIA appears to be taking a page from its own book in the world of retail graphics cards and is planning on producing nearly complete cell phones and tablets to be rebranded and sold directly to consumers.  PC users are used to this practice already and you can see if happen with ever nearly every GPU launch - graphics cards that have the same specs and design with only a different sticker on the cooler. 

The process of white labeling is very frequent in today's laptop designs as well and it is how companies like AVADirect, MAINGEAR and iBuyPower are able to produce and sell custom notebooks. 

From what is in the report, NVIDIA has their eyes set on both tablets and smartphones, with plans to start designing and creating their devices around May or June of this very year. If all goes according to plan, we will begin to see a ton of cheap (but not any less in quality terms) 7-10″ tablets hitting the market, all running NVIDIA chipsets.

If this process does take hold in the mid-2013 time frame you can start to expect a lot of low cost options based on Tegra SoCs to hit in the holiday time frame.  There are concerns to be dealt with though if in fact NVIDIA attempt the white label move.  First, there is potential for "cheap" products, and by that I mean cheaply built, ruining the Tegra name and brand that NVIDIA has been building over the last few years.  Also, NVIDIA could offend and upset other vendors like Samsung and ASUS with whom they depend on to make the "high-end" products that many enthusiasts lust over. 

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As a small player though (in terms of pure sell through) NVIDIA is looking for anyway it can to improve its market share and starting up a white label market for smartphones and tablets is definitely something that could open up new opportunities. 

MSI provides mobile gaming power for those who can't make do with a tablet

Subject: Mobile | January 18, 2013 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: msi, GT70 Limited Dragon Edition, 17.3, 1080p, 3630QM

Gaming laptops are attractive to some users, who are willing to pay the premium to have a system which can play the latest games and is still somewhat portable.  MSI has been providing these users with solid products over the years and has recently updated their product line with the GT70 Limited Dragon Edition.  One of the best features of this laptop is the screen, proper 1920 x 1080 screens are all too rare on laptops.  Inside you will find an octo-core Core i7 3630QM, a GTX 675, 8GB DDR3 and even a KillerNIC, enough to get you playing Far Cry 3 in style.  The backlit keyboard features a GPU Turbo boost key and a Cooler boost key which should probably both be used at the same time.  In fact the only things that MadShrimps would have like to see changed is a different type of SSD and an IPS display instead of the TN that MSI used.

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"In recent 2 years, MSI did not focus on the Ultrabook series as many other brands, they mainly focused on high performance of Gaming series Notebooks, that makes MSI to become a well known gaming products company in the market, also shows how important of the Gaming related market."

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Source: MadShrimps

ASUS MeMO Pad (ME172V) for Emerging Markets Starting at $149, VIA Powered

Subject: Mobile | January 13, 2013 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: memopad, me172v, asus

Right after the completion of CES, ASUS is announcing another new device for emerging markets.  The MeMO Pad ME172V is powered by the VIA WM8950 (as rumored back in December), part of the WonderMedia Prizm line of SoCs, with a single core 1.0 GHz ARM Cortex-A9 and Mali-400 graphics processing capable of 1080p video playback and basic 3D.  ASUS is claiming that the MeMO Pad ME172V is meant for "novice to basic tablet users" rather than "Android enthusiasts, 3D gaming and early hardware adopters, who are better suited to the more powerful Transformer Pad Infinity or Nexus 7 series."

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This is a full Android experience that includes access to the Google Play store, ebooks, social networking and web browsing.  With a focus on pricing and performance per watt, ASUS still claims that the MeMO Pad ME172V will offer a "smooth and fluid user experience" though I question how much it can handle with a single Cortex-A9 core. 

The screen resolution is 1024x600 and the tablet will run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with only moderate tweaks from the ASUS UI team.  It will be available in either 8GB or 16GB capacities but with a microSD card slot that can be expanded by 32GB. 

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What about availability?  ASUS had this to say:

ASUS MeMO Pad will be available starting this January in selected markets from authorized ASUS resellers.  We will carry this device in the US market starting in April with a US specific image (full support for our region including Hulu Plus, Netflix, HBO Go, etc, etc.)

So if you are looking for a $149 tablet, the MeMO Pad ME172V might be the best option when it is available in the US later this spring.  We are working with ASUS to get a sample to test out the quality of the build as well as the level of performance and usability you can expect for this low-cost tablet.

CES 2013: Qualcomm Launches Snapdragon 600 and Snapdragon 800 SoCs

Subject: Mobile | January 11, 2013 - 06:05 AM |
Tagged: SoC, qualcomm 800, qualcomm 600, qualcomm, krait, ces 2013, CES, arm, adreno 330, adreno 320

Qualcomm introduced two new high end mobile processors at CES earlier this week. Known as the Snapdragon 600 and Snapdragon 800, the new SoCs take the company’s Krait CPU cores to the next level. Both of the new chips are based on a 28nm HPm manufacturing process and feature faster (and more efficienct) CPU and GPU portions.

Qualcomm-Snapdragon-SoC.jpg

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 is SoC with four Krait 300 CPU cores clocked at 1.9GHz along with an Adreno 320 GPU, and 4G LTE modem. The Snapdragon 600 also supports LPDDR3 RAM. The Adreno 320 GPU features suport fro OpenGL ES 3.0, OpenCL, and Renderscript Compute technologies. According to Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 600 is 40% faster than the Snapdragon S4 Pro processor used in devices like the Google Nexus 4 smartphone. Also, the Adreno 320 GPU is up to 3-times faster than the previous-generation A225.

The Snapdragon 600 SoC is inteded for smartphones, and we should start to see the new processor shipping with new devices by Q2 2013.

Meanwhile, the Snapdragon 800 processor takes performance up yet another notch over the company’s existing chips. The new SoC includes four Krait 400 CPU cores clocked at 2.3GHz, an Adreno 330 GPU, support for 2x32-bit LPDDR3 at 800MHz (12.8Gbps), and a 4G LTE modem. The chip also features two image signal processors (ISP) that can handle up to four cameras and 55MP (total) resolution. Devices with the Snapdragon 800 processor will be able to record 1080p30 video as well as encode and decode stored videos with up to 4K resolutions. As far as wireless, the Snapdragon 800 includes a 4G LTE modem and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The upcoming SoC can handle 4K video output and HD audio in the form of DTS-HD, Dolby Digital+, and 7.1 Surround Sound.

The Adreno 330 GPU in the Snapdragon 800 chip also supports OpenGL ES 3.0, OpenCL, and Rednderscript Computer technologies. It can output 4K video and reportedly offers up to twice the compute performance versus the Adreno 320 GPU in the Snapdragon 600 processor.

According to Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 800 processor as a whole is up to 75% faster than the Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC. Qualcomm is aiming this processor at “premium” high end devices including Smart TVs, tablets, consumer electronics devices (ie: blu ray players with apps), and smartphones. Qualcomm expects to see devices powered by the new SoC become available sometime around the middle of 2013 (1H’13).

The new chips appear to offer up some noticeable performance and efficiency improvements over the current generation of Snapdragon processors. The Snapdragon 800 in particular is an impressive-sounding design. I am interested to see how it stacks up against competing chips such as NVIDIA’s Tegra 4, Samsung’s next-gen Exynos lineup, and whatever chip Apple has up its sleeve for the next iPad/iPhone refresh. This year is shaping up to be an exciting year for ARM-based SoCs!

If you are interested in the new silicon, Qualcomm has teased a few more details on its blog.

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

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

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Source: Qualcomm

CES 2013: Canonical Shows Off Ubuntu OS For Smartphones

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2013 - 12:22 PM |
Tagged: ubuntu for phones, ubuntu, linux, ces 2013, CES, canonical

Ubuntu_Scopes.jpg

Earlier this month Canonical showed off a new version of its Ubuntu operating system intended for mobile phones. The Ubuntu for smartphones operating system is meant to extend the Ubuntu UI and UX to the smartphone screen. Canonical wants its OS to span from servers to phones and Ubuntu for phones is the latest step in that plan.

While there is no official hardware yet, the new operating system will be aimed at both low-end and high-end smartphones alike. It will support the standard array of smartphone functions–phone, sms, email, web browsing, and apps–along with the familiar Ubuntu user interface that is navigated by touch gestures. Ubuntu for phones will run on x86 and ARM hardware and is compatible with the Android Board Suppot Package. That means that users can actually run Ubuntu on many existing smartphones which are currently running Google's Android OS. Unlike Android, there is no Java VM, and the Ubuntu for phones operating system can run both HTML5 and native applications. At CES, Canonical demonstrated the OS using a Galaxy Nexus smartphone.

Ubuntu OS for Smartphones_launcher.jpg

Ubuntu smartphones will feature a familiar Unity-like user interface with a number of tweaks to make it easier to navigate using a touchscreen. The OS will use a feature called Edge Magic, which includes swipe gestures inwards from each side of the phone to open applications, read notifications, change settings, and return to the home screen. Users can also use voice and text commands to control the smartphone. For example, users can swipe left to open the application launcher, drag from the left side to the right side of the screen to display all currently running apps, and drag up from the bottom to open application-specific settings. Swiping from the right acts as the 'back' function while dragging down from teh top opens the notifications and device-wide settings. There are no hardware buttons with Ubuntu for smartphones, and Canonical founder Mark Shuttlework has stated that keeping UI elements hidden until needed was a priority with Ubuntu for phones.

Ubuntu OS for Smartphones_keyboard.jpg

Ubuntu for phones is aimed at a wide range of smartphone hardware. On the low end, Ubuntu needs at least a dual-core ARM Cortex A9, 1GB of RAM, and 4GB of internal storage. The budget smartphones will run native apps (ideally) faster than similar code on Android due to the apps being closer to the hardware. Multitouch will be supported but the destkop functionality when the phone is docked is not available. On the other hand, high end smartphones will be able to access a full Ubuntu desktop when the phone is docked along with a mouse and keyboard. 

Additional features of Ubuntu for smartphones include global search of applications, content, and products, Deep Content Immersion, and personalized artwork on the welcome (lock) screen. Further, Ubuntu One cloud storage, enterprise management tool compatibility, and regular updates are also rolled into the operating system. Ubuntu does include scopes which are similar in function and aesthetics to desktop Ubuntu. The scopes include a list of applications, contacts, videos, and music (among others).

The following chart lists the recommended/referrence specifications for budget and premium smartphones running the Ubuntu mobile OS.

  Entry Level High End
SoC dual core Cortex A9 quad core Cortex A9 or better
RAM 1GB preferred minimum of 1GB
Storage 4-8GB eMMC + SD card min 32GB eMMC + SD card
Display Resolution WVGA 800x400 720p or 1080p
Multi-Touch Yes Yes
Desktop No Yes
Convergence No Yes

Interestingly, users of the Galaxy Nexus smartphone will be able to test drive Ubuntu for smartphones later this year by flashing their device with the new OS. As far as retail hardware with Ubuntu pre-installed, Canonical is reportedly working on developing partnerships with handset makers. Canonical hopes to being shipping devices begining in Q4'13 or Q1'14.

From the various video demonstrations of the Ubuntu for smartphones operating system, it appears extremely slick and user friendly. Curiously, Canoncial was not willing to let CES attendees go hands-on with the reference phone, which may mean that the operating system is not quite ready for prime time. Despite that hesitation, I do think that Ubuntu for smartphones shows a lot of promise as a mobile, touchscreen-controlled operating system.

It is certainly a project that I will be following closely. With the untimely hardware failure of my Nokia N900, I am in need of a new power user-friendly smartphone. And an Ubuntu-powered mobile sounds like the perfect upgrade for me!

What do you think about Canonical's latest venture?

ModdEverything checks out Ubuntu running on a smartphone at CES 2013.

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: Canonical

Nokia Sold 4.4 Million Lumia Phones in Q4’12

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2013 - 08:23 AM |
Tagged: wp8, nokia, microsoft, lumia

Finnish handset manufacturer Nokia has released a preliminary report on last quarter’s WP8 handset sales. There is good news and bad news.

On the positive side of things, Nokia managed to sell approximately 4.4 million Lumia-series smartphones running the Windows Phone OS. While not spectacular, it is a healthy ramp-up in Lumia phone sales versus previous quarters. For example, in Q4 of 2011 the company sold 1 million Windows Phone handsets, and then it managed to sell 2.9 million in Q3 of 2012 resulting in both year over year and quarter over quarter growth. Another interesting figure from the report is that Nokia has sold a total of 14.3 million Lumia smartphones to date. Lumia sales in Q4 2012 have also managed to surpass the company’s 2.2 million Symbian OS phone sales in Q4’12.

ATT-Lumia-920-Red.jpg

And now for the slightly-less-good news. The Lumia series (and Windows Phone 8 OS/handsets in general) continue to occupy the spot of ‘mobile OS underdog’ by a significant margin. To put the Lumia/WP8 sales in perspective, according to Android Authority, Samsung made $8.1 billion through sales of approximately 65.7 million Android smartphones. On the other hand, Nokia’s sales of Windows Phone hardware has surpassed its sales of phones powered by Symbian OS (at 2.2 million in Q4’12).

The numbers do seem to suggest that the market for Nokia Lumia handsets is slowly growing so it will be interesting to see sales figures a few years down the road. (Note that historic growth does not necessarily equal future growth. It does suggest that it is on the rise though. heh).

Source: The Verge

CES 2013: Samsung Teases Eight Core Exynos Octa SoC

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2013 - 03:29 AM |
Tagged: SoC, Samsung, exynos octa, exynos, ces 2013, CES, big.little, arm

Samsung talked up a new ARM SoC during CES that will become the new high-end part of its Exynos 5 lineup. The Samsung Exynos 5 Octa is, as the name suggests, an eight core processor. It is built on a 28nm manufacturing process and employs ARM's big.LITTLE architecture.

Samsung Exynos Octa.jpg

While Samsung is not ready to share all the detailed under-the-hood details, the Exynos 5 Octa has four Cortex A15 cores clocked at 1.8GHz paired with four Cortex A7 cores clocked at 1.2GHz. With big.LITTLE, the SoC has both high performance, high powr cores and lower power cores. The configuration is invisible to the end user, and the chip will use the Cortex A15 cores when in 3D applications or other CPU load intensive applications. Then, while the phone is idle or simply running background applications (notifications, checking email, updating twitter and facebook feeds, ect), the SoC will power down the Cortex A15 cores and use the lower power-drawing A7 cores. Ideally, this will give users a "best of both worlds" situation and a balance of performance and battery life.

Samsung claims that the Exynos 5 Octa offers up to twice the 3D performance of other existing current-generation SoCs. However, we do not yet have details on the GPU improvements (if any) over Samsung's other Exynos 5 chips much less benchmark-able products running this chip yet so it is difficult to say whether that statement is true or not. Also, Samsung claims as much as a 70% improvement in power savings over its dual core Exynos 5 processor, which is certainly a bold claim.

According to Engadget, Samsung plans to reveal all the nitty-gritty details on the eight-core Exynos 5 Octa SoC at the International Solid State Circuits Conference on February 19, 2013. It should give NVIDIA's "4+1" core Tegra 4 a run for its money, at lest on the CPU front (and maybe 3D graphics as well, but it's hard to say at this point).

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

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