A tiny little wireless keyboard and trackpad for your Bluetooth devices

Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2011 - 12:57 PM |
Tagged: input, keyboard, mobile, touchpad, chill innovation

The tiny Chill Innovation KB-1BT Bluetooth Micro Keyboard is 155mm x 61mm x 12mm (6.1" x 2.4" x 0.5") so you obviously can't expect full sized keys especially with the 31mm2 (1.2"2) trackpad on the side.  What you can expect is to hook up the keyboard wirelessly to any device that can manage Bluetooth, the USB connection is to recharge the keyboard. MektuMods enjoyed using the device but question its value, the model they reviewed was 70 Euros (~$100USD) to purchase.

MM_bundle.jpg

"There are several keyboard/mouse bundles available these days. The new KB-1BT combines these two items into a single package. This is something that one could imagine using while watching movies via HTPC or writing a document with an iPad. So, is it worth your money? Let us find out..."

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Source: MektuMods

Intel watches sadly from a window as HP goes out ARM in ARM with Caxeda

Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2011 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: arm, hp, servers, Calexda, MIPS, Godson

There have been many discussions as of late on the eventual arrival of ARM in the server room, with AMD and Intel suffering the losses.  A company called Calexda has made the possibility into reality with their own custom designed ARM chips. They figure on cramming 120 of the processors into a 2U box with incredibly low power draw; in the neighbourhood of a 90% reduction.  AMD's customers may stay with an architecture that they know, however Intel stands to lose power conscious customers if Calexda can provide performance and compatibility.  SemiAccurate also touches on Lenovo's investigation of building servers based on a MIPS design called Godson.

CalxedaX2.jpg

"According to a report from Bloomberg News Service HP (NYSE:HPQ) will start manufacturing servers based on the ARM architecture in a sharp departure from its previous Intel-only design philosophy.

The processors for the HP servers will come from the startup Caxeda, which is partly owned by ARM. Caxeda is planning a quadcore processor based on the ARM Cortex-A9 design."

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Source: SemiAccurate

Google Updates Chrome With Streamlined New Tab Page

Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2011 - 12:33 AM |
Tagged: Internet, google, chrome, browser

Google has been playing around with the "new tab" page in the beta and development builds of Chrome to streamline the interface, and the company has recently rolled one such update into the latest stable release of the popular browser.

Chrome_New New Tab Interface.png

The new tab page is the page that you are presented with when first firing up Chrome or hitting the new tab button(s).  The new interface is much more streamlined than the old one, and has rearranged several items.  The old interface showed everything all on one canvas; however, the updated new tab page has separated the most visited tabs from the Chrome Apps which now have their own page.  Users are able to navigate between the most visited tabs page and applications page by clicking on the tabs at the bottom of the screen or moving the mouse to the side of the browser window and using the arrows that appear upon mouse-over.

Chrome_Compare.png

Further, where the recently visited/closed web pages horizontal list resided below the most visited tabs on the old interface, in the new interface Google has decided to hide the recently used list.  It can now be accessed by clicking on a menu item in the bottom right corner of the browser window.

Chrome_Recently Closed.png

Google has also made it a bit easier to organize applications.  You can now click and drag applications around to organize them.  When clicking and holding an application, a new recycle bin option appears in the lower right corner of the window that will allow you to remove applications.  Removing is now a matter of clicking and dragging items into the "Remove from Chrome" area.  This remove / uninstall feature is also available when clicking and holding on the most visited tabs on the tabs page.  Finally, the various icons have been given a slight makeover and now are presented with a shiny mouse-over effect.

Google has provided a quick video overview of the interface changes.

Personally, after playing around with the new interface for a few hours now I prefer it to the old way of doing things as it allows for larger "most visited" icons due to having a greater percentage of the Chrome window area available to it (as opposed to the old interface where it was a bit crowded and things tended to fight to attention).  Further, I rarely use the applications, so having them hidden away in their own section is okay with me.  It definitely seems to have been (at least slightly) by tablets and touch interfaces; however, unlike Netflix's recent tablet inspired redesign i actually like the improvements Google has made.  What are your thoughts on the improvements?

Source: Google

For those looking at the internet and not Battlefield 3

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2011 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: gaming, battlefield 3, tweaks

For those of you who already know if their machine can get the most out of Battlefield 3; you probably aren't reading this post as you are playing right now.  For those of you who have yet succumb to EA's new client and installed BF3 or for those who haven't the time to fully tweak the settings to get the most graphical goodness out of the newest instalment to the Battlefield series, [H]ard|OCP has done quite a bit of work pegging down what performance you can expect.  GTX 580s against HD 6970s in both single and multiple card configurations against themselves as well as against each other in single player and they delve into multiplayer settings as well as commenting on the out of game server browser and what it brings to your non-BF3 experience.

H_BF3_Graphics.jpg

"Battlefield 3 just landed to excited gamers everywhere today. We've got a preview of performance in single player mode and a look at multiplayer mode. If you are going to be playing this game today, or this week, you will want to give this a read for a preview of what performance to expect."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Bulldozing through Linux benchmarks

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2011 - 12:15 PM |
Tagged: amd, bulldozer, FX 8150, linux

With the lacklustre performance we saw from AMD's new Bulldozer CPUs on Windows except in seriously multi-threaded applications; it is with a hopeful heart that Phoronix tests the performance of the FX-8150 under Ubuntu 11.04.  There are a lot of benchmarks to go through, from general performance to specific AMD-centric tests to those focusing specifically on multi-threaded performance and even a look at the bundled watercooler.  Read through the benchmarks they've run themselves as well as user submitted test and then realize that this is only the first of a series of articles they are working on ... so for now they hold judgment on AMD's newest product.

phoronix_8150.jpg

"Two weeks ago AMD introduced the Bulldozer FX-Series CPUs to much excitement, although many were letdown by the initial results, and it was months after showing the first Linux benchmarks of an AMD Dual-Interlagos pre-production system. In the days that followed I delivered some initial AMD FX-4100 Linux benchmarks when securing remote access to a low-end Bulldozer system running Ubuntu 11.04 (and there were also some Linux benchmarks from independent Phoronix readers), but then last week a Bulldozer kit arrived from AMD. The centerpiece of this kit is an eight-core AMD FX-8150 CPU, which is now being used to conduct a plethora of AMD Bulldozer benchmarks on Linux."

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Source: Phoronix

A milquetoast reception to the next generation of GPUs

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2011 - 11:56 AM |
Tagged: gpu, amd, nvidia, southern islands, kepler, TSMC, 28nm

While most enthusiasts are living up to the name as far as the build up to the coming GPU refreshes from both AMD and NVIDIA is concerned, the manufacturers are quite the opposite.  There are several probable reasons for this attitude, not least of which are the number of HD 6570s and GTS 450s that are still in their stock.  Remember those cards from back in the spring of this year, which were the high end of a huge range of GPUs from both companies spanning $20 to either side of $100?  Think that with the current generation of Llano and SandyBridge that any knowledgeable person is going to purchase one, let alone when you consider how close the release of next generation of APUs is?  The two major players in the discrete GPU market not only updated the top end of their cards quickly over the past several quarters there was a widening of the market which saw current generation cards available from ~$75 to ~$750 with some segments separated by as little as $10.  That translates to huge inventories at the manufacturer level which they then have to convince resellers and retailers to purchase for stock to sell to the consumer and many of those cards are still sitting there collecting dust.  No wonder these same companies are leery of purchasing more stock before finding a way to recover some profit from the stock they have now.

To make things even worse there exist doubts about the 28nm process from TSMC, which DigiTimes discusses here.  While AMD is still claiming delivery of HD7000 family cards before the coming year, the troubles that NVIDIA seems to be having with the same process concerns those who need to be able to buy large volumes of chips in order to turn a profit selling graphics cards.  Even worse is the realization that the first cards NVIDIA will be releasing are simply a die shrink, without architectural changes.  When two companies go to the same source for the same thing and one reports getting apple cider and the other apple vinegar, you really have to start to wonder what is really going on. 

ryans_stacked.jpg

"While Nvidia and AMD are poised to use Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC's) 28nm technology to produce the GPUs Kepler and Southern Islands respectively, most Taiwan-based graphics card makers hold a conservative attitude about the new GPUs with some makers cautiously watching the market status before making any further decisions, according to industry sources.

Compared to the makers' eagerness for the previous-generation GPUs, graphics card makers are rather conservative about the upcoming 28nm chips due to concerns such as TSMC's weak 40nm process yield rate issues may re-occur in its 28nm process and weakening demand for graphics cards and lower-than-expected gross margins."

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Source: DigiTimes

HP Testing Windows 8 Developer Preview on Touchpad Tablets

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 25, 2011 - 10:17 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, webOS, touchpad, tablet, slate, hp

The HP Touchpad was tablet that ran HP's WebOS mobile operating system.  It was also a tablet with an extremely short lifespan, one that was ended long before its time according to the sentiments of many enthusiasts.  The tablet's demise was a casualty of the company's former CEO Léo Apotheker getting rid of HP's PC division, and it started going for fire sale prices only a few weeks after its initial release.

There may yet be hope for the tablet, however.  According to Fox News, an HP employee has told them that a team within the company is playing around with the (not so) dead HP Touchpad tablets by replacing the WebOS operating system with Windows 8 Developer Preview.

hp_win8.png

It seems as though the idea of a Windows powered slate may be something that HP is willing to try out.  Although slates nor convertible tablets have never really caught on (at least in the US) due to Windows not being the most touch friendly interface, with the rise in popularity of tablets and Microsoft beginning to put a bit more care into a touch friendly UI, HP may be weighing the odds of a Windows 8 powered slate computer.  If; however, HP goes ahead with the previous plans to ditch the PC division, the idea of a HP Touchpad reincarnation may be moot anyway.

If the souce turns out to be true; however, there may be hope for a new HP Touchpad in the future sans WebOS.  Do you think HP will go ahead with the plan to follow in the footsteps of IBM, or will it give its PC division and(/or) touchpad tablet line a second chance?

Source: Fox News

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC System Requirements Revealed

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2011 - 06:19 PM |
Tagged: skyrim, PC, gaming

Although most of you are busy blasting away at Battlefield 3, there are likely quite a few that are also interested in the RPG genre, and in that vein Kotaku has recently gotten their hands on and released the minimum and recommended system requirements for the upcoming Elder Scrolls: Skyrim PC game.  Keep in mind when looking at the recommended system requirements, that they are for running the game at "High" graphics settings and not "Ultra" which will require more powerful specifications.

Skyrim_elf.jpg

Source: Gameinformer

The minimum system requirements for Skyrim are as follows:

CPU (Processor) Dual Core @ 2.0 GHz
GPU (Graphics Card) DirectX 9c compatible w/ 512MB RAM
RAM (System Memory) 2GB
OS (Operating System) Windows XP, Vista, or 7 (32 or 64 bit)

 

Those are fairly tame, and most computers around today should be able to at least run the game, with some concessions.  The recommended system requirements bump things up a bit for those that prefer shinier graphics in their RPGs.

CPU (Processor) Quad Core Intel or AMD
GPU (Graphics Card) DirectX 9 compatible w/ 1GB RAM
  AMD 4890 or Nvidia GTX 260 or higher
RAM (System Memory) 4GB
Sound Card DirectX compatible
OS (Operating System) Windows XP or 7

 

Interestingly (though not surprisingly to some), Windows Vista doesn't make the list for recommended specs, which may or may not be a mistake.  As you can see, even the recommended specifications aren't too high, at least compared to other (more demanding) new releases this year.  Is your PC ready for Skyrim?

Source: Kotaku

"We do not see the PC as the leading platform for games," my sweet patootie

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2011 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, jon peddie

When the senior gaming analyst from Jon Peddie Research notices that smartphone and tablet gaming is resulting in a direct increase in gaming on laptops and desktops you really have to wonder where Carmack formed his belief that the days of PC gaming are kaput.  As well a growing trend in Asia where you can go to a boutique style PC store, purchase your components and build your machine in store with the assistance of employees there is obviously a growing market of PC gamers.  DigiTimes does point out that the actual estimated growth for PC gaming hardware did shrink from $22 billion to $19 billion, but any industry seeing 11% growth in market is not dying.  From the sounds of JPR's research, mobile gaming grows the PC gaming market, not the console market.

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"Jon Peddie Research (JPR) has announced its latest figures on the PC gaming hardware market for the second half of 2011 and forecast to 2014.

In 2011, over 250 million game capable home and personal use PCs will ship. To get a sense of perspective, only 220 million PS3, the Wii, and Xbox 360 consoles have shipped since the era of the modern console began in 2005.

PC gaming hardware will grow at a rate of 11% through 2014. However, the ongoing economic recession is having its effect on even the gaming market. Taking the reality into consideration, JPR has reduced its 2011 global PC Gaming hardware market estimate to US$19 billion from US$22 billion.

Nevertheless PC gaming activity (as opposed to sales) has increased in 2011 as evidenced by ongoing game sales and online activity. JPR has raised estimates of the number of people playing PC games from their previous forecast by 3% for 2011. With a base of about a half billion people who regularly engage in PC gaming, gaming is an attractive market for hardware manufacturers, many of whom consider gamers in their product design and marketing."

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Source: DigiTimes

Not 2.1 nor 5.1, these headsets go to 7.1

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2011 - 12:09 AM |
Tagged: gaming headset, audio, 7.1 headset

With 7.1 sound came the idea that you could control the vertical as well as the horizontal.  This was usually achieved with a setup that included not only an above average amount of speakers but also a knowledge of the space you were filling with sound and an obnoxious amount of money spent on a stereo system.  Is it possibly true that you can reproduce the same feeling with an $85 pair of USB headphones?   OCC says maybe ... but you won't be disappointed by the sound when you are gaming and you might just develop an edge.

OCC_roccat.jpg

"Now that I have made it obvious why you need a headset let me introduce the one up for review. ROCCAT has had a lot of new products released for US purchase recently after being founded in Germany back in 2007. One of its newest products available over at Newegg.com is the ROCCAT Kulo Virtual 7.1 Gaming Headset. The key here is the "virtual" tag in the product name. As it turns out, the 7.1 is a function of a stereo output rerouted through an included USB sound card. Thus it is not true 7.1 quality but perhaps it is still a great headset. Let’s take a gander at how the Kulo Headset looks and also listen to the beauty that comes from those earmuffs."

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Don't worry AMD fans, there's an ultrabook clone coming soon

Subject: General Tech | October 24, 2011 - 06:43 PM |
Tagged: amd, ultrabook, Deccan, Kerala

Not to be deterred by the issues that Intel has run into trying to out Macbook Apple, AMD will also be jumping on a notebook similar to the Ultrabook.  The successors to Brazos will be competing against Ivy Bridge and Haswell, so hopefully the statement that DigiTimes makes about vastly improved performance and power usage reduction are true.  AMD is also lookign to refresh the chips they've designed for use in tablets which you should be able to get your hands on before the end of the year, if GLOBALFOUNDRIES can produce enough chips.

acer-amd-tablet.jpg

"AMD has made plans for ultrabook-like products for the next two years – in 2012, AMD will launch the Deccan platform to replace Brazos and will launch Kerala in 2013.

Since AMD's share in the global CPU market has been around 20% in recent years while the company has about 10% share in the global notebook CPU market, AMD is preparing plans for ultra-thin notebooks hoping to raise its share in the notebook CPU market.

In June 2012, AMD is set to launch Deccan, featuring Krishna and Wichita-based APUs and will upgrade to Kerala featuring Kabini-based APUs. With the upgrades, the overall performance and power consumption of AMD's platforms are expected to see an extraordinary improvement, allowing AMD to compete against Intel's Ivy Bridge platform in 2012 and Haswell platform in 2013.

For the traditional notebook market, AMD has already launched its Llano-based Sabine platform to replace Danube, but due to Globalfoundries' weak 32nm yield rates and production issues, supplies of Llano APUs has been limited, which should impact AMD's future plans for the notebook market. However, within AMD's latest plans, the company is set to launch the Comal platform, featuring Trinity-based APUs, for 2012 and will upgrade to the Indus platform in 2013 using Kaveri-based APUs.

As for the tablet PC market, AMD will push the Brazos platform with Windows operating system to target the enterprise market in 2011. In the second quarter of 2012, AMD will launch the Brazos T platform that features Hondo APUs and in 2013 will release the Samara platform, which features a similar architecture as its ultra-thin platform."

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Source: DigiTimes

Ubuntu Extends Long Term Release Support Time

Subject: General Tech | October 22, 2011 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: ubuntu 12.04, ubuntu, support, LTS

Canonical, the makers of Ubuntu, has announced that they are extending the support of LTS (long term support) releases to five years. Currently, the LTS releases of Ubuntu are supported for up to three years on desktops.

The new support time-line will start with the fourth long term support (LTS) release which will be Ubuntu 12.04. The 12.04 release is slated to debut in April 2012; therefore, support for the operating system would continue until April of 2017. That should be more than enough time for desktop users to find updated software or jump to another release if they don’t want to update to the latest Ubuntu release at that time.

Graphic.jpg

Canonical's proposed release schedule.

Further, the support schedule is broken down into two periods. For the first two years of the operating system’s lifetime, the OS will receive regular hardware updates via point releases. After that two year period, the remaining three years will be relegated to maintenance and security updates. One interesting thing about the LTS release support schedule lies in the fact that after the two years of hardware support updates, it will be time for the next LTS release (Ubuntu 14.04 in this case) thanks to the way the releases are staggered. This would enable businesses to update straight from the end of one LTS release to the next and maintain current with hardware updates as well as extending support even further.

The overlapping support schedule and extended support time-line are said to be the result of Canonical wishing to make enterprise customers happy. The Ubuntu Engineering Director, Rick Spencer, stated that although Ubuntu has traditionally been known for quick updates and keeping up with the latest applications and hardware, the “ability to plan for the longer term is vital.” OEMs are also likely to appreciate the longer support schedule as well in that they will be able to offer software to customers that is good for five years instead of three.

What are your thoughts on the LTS Ubuntu releases?

Source: Canonical

Blew stuff up? Don’t get Karky, kid! New Battlefield 3 trailers

Subject: General Tech | October 22, 2011 - 03:24 AM |
Tagged: battlefield 3

You might be waiting for Battlefield 3; you might also not be waiting for Battlefield 3 because you played Operation Metro and did not get any chance to play Caspian Border. The Beta is now long gone and release is just days away. To generate excitement, DICE has released another trailer focusing on the diversity of the maps: day and night; air and ground; urban, open, and open urban? Stuff crumbles, stuff dies, and stuff plain gets blown up. Check it out.

Wake Island just will not be the same without randomly bombing narrow strips of land.

Also teased in the trailer is the Back to Karkand expansion pack showing the Battlefield 3 version of Strike at Karkand with much less yellow and much more debris. Not shown are the other three maps of the expansion: Wake Island, Sharqi Peninsula, and Gulf of Oman. Unlike Battlefield 2, however: Battlefield 3 will have a single-player campaign which received its own trailer.

I somehow feel this is Dangerously Close to Medal of Honor’s anti-brass theme.

While it looks like Battlefield 3 will be a worthy sequel to 2005’s Battlefield 2, I do fear that future iterations will take a turn similar to Call of Duty after the Call of Duty 4 inflection point. How do you feel? What do you want to know about Battlefield 3 the most?

Source: Battlefield

Blizzcon 2011 Day 1 Photos

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | October 21, 2011 - 07:28 PM |
Tagged: wow, starcraft, nvidia, LG, diablo iii, diablo, blizzcon 2011, blizzcon, asus, antec

Hey everyone!  I am still busily collecting information at Blizzcon 2011 but I thought I would share with you some of the photos I took from the first half of the first day of the show.  If you haven't experienced Blizzcon before (and I hadn't) this is one hell of a celebration of PC gamers.  Even if you aren't a fan of StarCraft, World of Warcraft or Diablo, this is an impressive event with a main stage area seating 15,000!!!

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Check out all the photos on our Facebook page here (available to public as well!)  I'll have some coverage of the Antec, ASUS and NVIDIA booth as well later in the evening so be sure to check back.

Here are a couple more samples, but be sure you check out the link above for ALL of the the photos!!

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Arkham City PC System Requirements Revealed

Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2011 - 12:10 PM |
Tagged: batman

Over at GeForce.com you will find the system requirements you will need to rescue Gotham from its current status of Arkham City.  They are fairly modest to be able to play the game at a reasonable resolution, if you are willing to skip out on PhysX, 3D Vision and extreme tesellation.

In concert with a 2.4GHz Dual-Core CPU and 2GB of RAM, a GeForce 8800 GT will give you a high level of visual fidelity, but none of the extras. A GeForce GTX 460, however, in conjunction with a 2.5GHz Dual-Core CPU and 4GB of RAM, will allow you to use the game's Recommended 'High' settings and PhysX, as shown in our recent Batman: Arkham City PC Trailer.

Based on preliminary testing we’ve determined that a GeForce GTX 460 or GeForce GTX 560 will allow you to play Arkham City comfortably at 1920x1080 with PhysX enabled, as shown in the aforementioned video; a GeForce GTX 570 allows you to enable additional DirectX 11 effects, as shown in our screenshot; and a GeForce GTX 580 allows you view all of the eye-candy in stereoscopic 3D Vision for the ultimate Batman: Arkham City experience.

screenshot-16.jpg

Minimum System Requirements

    Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP, Vista or 7
    CPU: Dual-Core CPU 2.4 Ghz
    RAM: 2GB
    Graphics Card: NVIDIA 8800 or ATI 3800 with 512MB of VRAM
    Sound: Microsoft Windows XP/Vista or 7 compatible sound card (100% DirectX 9.0c-compatible)
    DVD-ROM: Quad-speed (4x) DVD-ROM drive
    Hard Drive: 17.5GB free disk space
    Input Devices: 100% Windows XP/Vista or 7 compatible mouse and keyboard

Recommended System Requirements

    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7
    CPU: Dual-Core CPU 2.5 GHz
    RAM: 4GB
    Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 or ATI Radeon HD 6850 with 768MB+ of VRAM (DirectX 11 compatible)
    Sound: Microsoft Windows XP/Vista or 7 compatible sound card (100% DirectX 9.0c-compatible)
    DVD-ROM: Quad-speed (4x) DVD-ROM drive
    Hard Drive: 17.5 GB free disk space
    Input Devices: 100% Windows XP/Vista or 7 compatible mouse and keyboard or Xbox 360 Controller for Windows

Source: NVIDIA

You've a date with Intel on the Ivy Bridge

Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2011 - 11:46 AM |
Tagged: Intel, Ivy Bridge, release

Z68, we hardly had time to know you and now you are leaving us; at least the 67 twins were around for a bit.  March will be mad for reviewers and tech junkies as Ivy Bridge is scheduled to arrive on the scene.  The updated chip moves to 22nm and will also be the first to feature Intel's Tri-Gate transistors which should keep the TDP of even the higher speed models of chip below current generation chips. DigiTimes also lists the models of motherboards that will arrive with the new chip, all half dozen of them.

ivy_bridge.jpg

"Intel is expected to unveil its 22nm Ivy Bridge CPUs in March 2012 at the earliest, with initial offerings focusing on dual- and quad-core models, according to sources at motherboard makers.

The quad-code Ivy Bridge CPUs will have thermal design power (TDP) ratings of 45W, 65W and 77W, while the dual-core models will have TDP ratings of 35W and 55W, indicated the sources.

For the 7-series desktop CPUs, Intel will launch Z77 and Z75 chipsets to replace its Z68 and P67, and a H77 to replace H67. Additionally, Intel will also release Q77, Q75 and B75 chipsets for business models, replacing the Q67, Q65 and B65."

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Source: DigiTimes

Google Music Will Allow Users to Share Music With Friends

Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2011 - 03:30 AM |
Tagged: store, music, mp3, itunes, Internet, google

Google seems to be slowly surrounding itself in our online lives, and their soon to be released Google Music Store is sure to ensnare users even more tightly (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing). The company’s music service has been in beta for a few months now and currently operates as a virtual music locker and allows users to upload their music collection to Google’s servers so that they can stream their music to computers and mobile devices. Unfortunately, the lack of a store required users to buy their music elsewhere and rip or download and then upload their music to Google Music which was kind of a pain. A store is on the way; however, so not all hope is lost. To make the upcoming music store exciting, the company hinted at a mysterious “twist” that would accompany the launch of the MP3 purchase and download service.

googlemusic.PNG

According to Business Insider, a source who claims to be in the know has stated that the “twist” in the Google Music Store is not only a twist tie but is a huge space warping, planet sized twist that will allow users to share their purchased music with their friends and family. This is a huge leap into the current decade for the music industry, and is sure to be a popular feature for Google. Google is allegedly paying hefty upfront payment advances to the music industry for the rights to allow users to share music with others. It seems that streaming subscription services like Spotify and Zune have been successful in softening the outlook of the RIAA after all, at least to the point that allowing users to share their own music is something the music industry will at least consider for the right price (I apologize for the ire/tongue in cheek nature of this particular paragraph).

Unfortunately, the source was not able to detail exactly how this sharing service would work, but will likely involve the ability to share a link with a Google (+?) contact or over email that would then allow the recipient to stream the song for a limited amount of time (say 30 days?). Google being Google, the process may require or “suggest” that the user set up a Google Music account in order to listen to shared music, and thus get new users foot in the door and hopefully buy music to help Google overcome all the RIAA fees. In a further bit of bad news; while the large music labels are able to (bully) their way into charging for the rights to share music, smaller indie labels and independent artists will not be getting any piece of the Google money pie for sharing their music.

Have you gotten a chance to check out the Google Music beta yet? Personally, the sharing ability will be nice and will definitely push me into using the service a bit more than I do now, especially if I can coerce some of my friends away from Itunes so that we can share the new music we find with each other.

Battlefield 3 Will Be Standard Definition Without Hard Drive Install

Subject: General Tech | October 20, 2011 - 11:00 PM |
Tagged: xbox, PC, gaming, ea, dice, bf3, battlefield 3

Battlefield 3 is nearing its October 25th release date and information about each platform's release is starting to pour in.  One notable piece of information concerns the optional hard drive install for the Xbox 360 version of Battlefield 3.  We reported earlier that the FPS would come on two DVDs for the Xbox 360, and a BF3 producer had been quoted in stating that the DVDs could be installed to the system to enable "optional high resolution textures."  At the time, I had assumed that the optional install would merely boost the (already) HD (high definition) image; however, according to Shack News the game will be only standard definition without the hard drive installation.

The PC will always have HD resolutions available, assuming your rig can handle it.

Executive producer Partick Bach explains that Battlefield 3 is based around a streaming texture engine where the terrain, textures, and content are all streamed in, and is a new way of doing things on the console (though not the gaming industry as a whole).  Unfortunately, it looks like the concern many gamers had in regards to the Xbox 360's DVD drive not being able to stream high quality textures fast enough have been realized.  Both the PC and the Playstation 3 on the other hand, are able to stream the necessary HD textures from the hard drive (PC) and Blu-Ray disc (PS3).

Mr. Bach further explains that because there are so many Xbox 360s with either no hard drives or (nearly useless) 4 GB drives, the company had to develop the Xbox version such that even a system with no hard drive could at least play the game, even at the expense of image quality.  "You could call it a 'standard-def' version for the 360 if you don't have a hard-drive."  What is still unclear is what exactly he means by standard definition.  Whether that means the game will be limited to a 480p resolution without the optional hard drive installation or high definition (720p+) resolutions with relatively lower resolution textures is not certain (though likely the later rather than the former, if I had to guess).

What this means for Xbox 360 gamers, in the end, is that the game will be quite a bit more expensive than previously thought if they want the full experience after factoring in the cost of an (outrageously priced) Microsoft hard drive.  Are you planning on buying the Xbox version?

Source: Shack News

How about a battery free RAMdrive? The Viking ArxCis-NV writes to flash if it loses power

Subject: General Tech | October 20, 2011 - 11:35 AM |
Tagged: Viking, ramdisk, DRAM to SLC, flash, super cap

Move over Fusion-io and RAMdisks with battery back up, Viking Technology has a surprise in store for you.  Their DDR3 ArxCis-NV works as a standard DIMM in your machine, making installation and compatibility a snap.  The difference is the super capacitor, available in a variety of sizes, which provides power long enough for the entire contents of the DIMM to be dumped to SLC flash for non-volatile storage in the case of a power outage or expected shut down.  Once power is restored the contents of the SLC flash is dumped back to the DIMM and once again your storage media is back to running at DDR3 speeds.  The slowest part of your storage will be the flash drive!  If that sounds like something you'd like to know more about head to The Register.

arxcis.jpg

"Viking Technology is a division of Sanmina-SCI, and its DDR3 ArxCis-NV is a DIMM that comes in 2, 4 and 8GB capacity points and operates at DRAM speed. It integrates into industry-standard x86 motherboards and functions in the host environment as a JEDEC standard DDR3 registered DIMM. If there is a power failure, or a host driven command, the ArxCis-NV will save all data in the DRAM to SLC (single-level cell) flash; upon power being restored, the data is written back to the DRAM ready for the system to access immediately following boot-up, provided there's sufficient operating system-level support for such a restore."

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Source: The Register

Giving Skyrim fans a tease

Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2011 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: gaming, bethesda, elder scrolls, skyrim

For those anxiously awaiting the arrival of the next instalment of the Elder Scrolls, Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has something you might want to see.  Not one, not two, but three whole previews of the game as one of their lucky reviewers plays through a few hours of the game.  This latest instalment features our hapless previewer sneaking around in a cave full of bandits in the hopes of determining if that object he saw in the corner of the cave was indeed an anvil.  Did he succeed?  Read on to find out.

RPS_skyrimalc.jpg

"Last week, I played three hours of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, at my leisure and free to go and do whatever I could. I’m telling a series of anecdotes based on what I saw and did; here’s the first, here is the second and below is the cowardly third."

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