NVIDIA’s Kal-El Enables Realistic Physics and Dynamic Lighting For Mobile Devices

Subject: Mobile | May 30, 2011 - 12:26 AM |
Tagged: tegra, nvidia, mobile, cpu

NVIDIA recently unveiled a new four core CPU for mobile devices at Mobile World Congress which promises to power 2560x1600, 300 DPI displays as well as enable realistic dynamic lighting and physics in mobile games, features that until recently were only possible in the realm of gaming laptops and desktops.

The quad core ARM CPU has been paired with a new 12 core GeForce graphics processing unit. The CPU alone is able to outperform the older Tegra 2 chip by close to 2x. With the additional GPU cores; however, NVIDIA has even more performance, and the ability to implement great looking games for mobile tablets and so called “super phones.”

Coremark Tegra Kal-El Test.jpg

At a resolution of 1280x800 (according to Engadget), the new Kal-El graphics demo shows off a new game featuring a glowing ball that acts as a truly dynamic light source in addition to realistic cloth physics. Using all four processing cores of the CPU allowed NVIDIA to implement cloth that reacts to the changing gravity of the game in a dynamic- and very realistic looking- manner. The mobile chip saw approximately 80% usage across all cores during the game demo. When NVIDIA disabled two of the CPU cores, the game became nearly unplayable, with the two remaining cores maxed out, the demo’s frame rate dropped to below 15 frames per second.

The new “Tegra Super Chip” will certainly allow mobile game developers to design immersive and realistic looking worlds as well as enhancing consumers’ ability to watch 1080p HD video with ease. The only drawback of the chip seems to be that battery technology is much slower to advance than transistor technology; therefore, it will be interesting to see how the new NVIDIA chip performs in that regard.

Source: NVIDIA

Lenovo's thinest ThinkPad yet, the X1

Subject: Mobile | May 24, 2011 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, Thinkpad, X1

There is a lot to love about the ThinkPad X1, inside a Core i5-2520M @ 2.5 GHz (with Intel HD 3000 graphics of course) 4GB of DDR3 and a 7200RPM 320GB HDD powers a 13.4" 1366 x 768 LCD which is covered with Corning Gorilla glass. All that in a package weighing 3.73lbs and with dimensions of 13.26" x 9.1" x 0.84".  Even the back plate is interesting, with a USB 3.0 port, HDMI port, Mini DisplayPort port and a powered eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port, in addition to the card reader and USB 2.0 ports.  Unless you are married to the IPS LCD on the X220 TechSpot highly recommends this laptop.


“A couple of months ago we were checking out Lenovo’s then latest ThinkPad offering, the X220. Based on Intel’s second generation Core processors, this system was classic business-oriented ThinkPad throughout. A few months before the X220, I had the IdeaPad U260 in-house which was classified by Lenovo as a “thin, light, stylish travel companion”.

I mention those two units as a transition to what we have for review today, the new ThinkPad X1. As the thinnest ThinkPad ever, the X1 seemingly takes the best features from the X220 and the U260 and merges them into one. The result is an extremely thin and sleek 13.4” notebook that is a real follow-up model to the X300 series that many came to own and love a couple of years ago.”

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Source: TechSpot

ECS Reveals Computex 2011 Hardware Lineup

Subject: Motherboards, Systems, Mobile | May 21, 2011 - 03:11 AM |
Tagged: hardware, ECS, computex



ECS (Elitegroup Computer Systems) will be attending this years Computex 2011 convention, and they plan to unveil a slew of new hardware.  During the week, they will be showing off new motherboards, a new graphics card, four All-In-One PCs, two tablets, two notebooks, and an eBook reader of all things.

For the DIY enthusiasts, ECS will be showing off a AMD 990FX chipset motherboard, which will support AMD's Bulldozer processors, as well as a new series of motherboards "for cloud computing, home server, (and) work station."  While they were not willing to give out details at this time, they will have live high end gaming setups for attendees to demo at the show.  Further, ECS is releasing a NVIDIA GeForce 560 graphics card.  Again, they did not share any specifications, they claim that their card is 40% faster than its 460 predecessor.

All-In-One PCs will also be receiving a large showing at the ECS booth, with three SKUs of their "PC—G11" touch screen computer with wireless connectivity.  The DS110, MS300, and MS150 specifically will provide different levels of performance thanks to three differing levels of hardware (they mention CPUs and chipsets).

On the mobile front, ECS is unveiling two tablets.  The S10 is a 10.1" Atom Z670 tablet with a resolution of 1366x768 and HDMI out along with 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, and "3G or GPS."  The V07 is a 7" tablet based on similar specifications that will be released in August 2011.  The MB40 and MB50 are 14" and 15" Sandy Bridge powered notebooks with LED displays at 1366x768 and featuring a 6-in-1 card reader.  Further, ECS is debuting a 6" and 8" touch screen eBook reader with WiFi, Bluetooth, and 3G.  The eBook reader will feature either a monochrome or multicolor display, and will run the Android mobile operating system.

Source: ECS

MeeGo to 1.2, YouGo to download?

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 20, 2011 - 02:04 AM |
Tagged: meego

For those who desire an alternative to Windows 7 in their netbooks or Android in their tablet: The Linux Foundation, Intel, Nokia, Novell, and AMD are continuously developing an alternative mobile operating system based on Linux. While there are currently large doubts about how many participants are still active members in this project there must be someone still coding away because version 1.2 was released to the public.

I’m Tuxing over! : D
This version contains improvement to the following segments of MeeGo:
  • An updated Netbook “User Experience”
  • An updated in-vehicle “User Experience”
  • Developer preview for those wishing to install MeeGo on tablets
  • And of course an updated SDK
Intel and AMD continue to pledge support towards the development of MeeGo though Nokia’s recent partnership with Microsoft puts their support for MeeGo into question. Intel recently took the opportunity to blame Nokia for Intel’s lackluster mobile performance as a whole and is currently in the process of pitching handset designs they developed with Nokia to other manufacturers. Intel is also currently playing with Google’s Android to stake the ground for a foothold on ARM turf. For the nearer future, however, MeeGo claims that they will continue on their approximately 6-month release cycle and will ship MeeGo 1.3 in the October timeframe. 
Source: MeeGo

Rumor: More details on Amazon tablets, yes: plural

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 18, 2011 - 05:05 PM |
Tagged: tegra, nvidia, kal-el, amazon

At the beginning of the month we reported that Amazon seems to be moving into the tablet space with an order for hundreds of thousands of touchscreens per month. There is now more evidence that the Kindle manufacturer is looking specifically to do an Android tablet due to the processors rumored to be included. We think you will be smiling very soon.


Roadrunner Stew: Water, Roadrunner, Diced Apple 

According to a source from Boy Genius Report: Amazon will be releasing two tablets potentially as earlier as second-half 2011. Their entry-level model, “Coyote”, will contain an NVIDIA dual-core Tegra 2 which for those following the tablet space knows that is not an entry-level part. Their higher-up model, "Hollywood", is said to contain NVIDIA’s upcoming Kal-El, the quad-core successor to the Tegra 2 with an integrated GPU reportedly 5-fold faster than those found on the Tegra 2.
It should be noted that an entry-level tablet for Amazon does not necessarily suggest what price Amazon would be aiming for. Amazon could still have their Kindle line as their true entry-level product which would allow them to skip straight to the higher performing Tegra 2 and Kal-El parts for their actual tablet line as they could point to the Kindle for those who want less than a Tegra 2. So if you happen to be looking for an Android tablet and can wait a few months you might wish to hold off and see what wily Amazon is cooking up.
Source: PCMag

Intel Talks Software And Demos Local File Syncing, Standby, And Hibernate Tech At Investor Meeting 2011

Subject: General Tech | May 17, 2011 - 08:38 PM |
Tagged: sync, mobile, lan, Intel

Intel held its annual Investor Meeting today, where the chip maker talked software, the state of the business, as well as new hardware and leveraging microarcitecture leadership. This installment focuses on the software side of things.


 During the various keynotes that were held throughout the day for the Investor Meeting 2011, one ideal seemed to present itself in some form or another, and summarized the message Intel presented to the world.  The idea was that of a consistent user experience across every computing platform accomplished by leveraging Intel software applications with Intel hardware advancements to deliver a productive and easy to use computing experience whether it is on a cell phone or a dual CPU production workstation.  Intel is a market leader in micro-architecture and x86 processors, as well as in sold state drives and high performance computing.  Soon, thanks to advancements in transistor technology, Intel will also have a large presence in the mobile market with low power x86 SoCs.  Their dominance in desktop computing hardware, along with their good relations with many software developers allows the chip maker a great deal of influence in the technology industry.  On the software side of things, Intel has a team of engineers who work inside Microsoft's closely with their software engineers to ensure that the popular operating system delivers a solid experience for x86, and specifically Intel, powered computers.  Intel is also heavily invested in open source software and has helped in creating open source operating systems and applications.  In the mobile market, Intel is still a proponent and developer of MeeGo, for instance.

This influence and investment in both hardware and software research and development has made Intel a leader in the technology industry.  Intel plans to leverage this influence to deliver the most consistent user experience across all platforms, and the process has already begun.  Intel has several software technologies that are capable of harnessing their architecture technology to make computers easier to use and more productive.  They showed off three (new) pieces of such software during one of their keynotes, including PC Sync, and Fast Flash Standby which encompasses an active standby/sleep mode and fast recovery hibernation modes.

Intel quick sync in action.png

PC Sync is a program much akin to Dropbox in that it promises to keep all of the files that you select in sync between all of your different devices.  David Perlmutter and a co-worker showed PC Sync working live as they synced files between two computers.  The program differs from Dropbox; however, in the fact that it only works over your local network, and thus it is inherently more secure and faster than services that must first sync files to an Internet server before downloading to the target computer(s).

The other interesting software demonstrated was Intel's Fast Flash Standby technology.  This software improves upon the traditional sleep and hibernation modes in Microsoft Windows.  The standby mode will put the computer to sleep by saving the system state to RAM and entering a low power mode just like the standard Windows' affair; however, the software will also automatically wake up the system at periodic intervals to download updates such as email, tweets, and Facebook messages, and then will return the computer to its sleep state so that once the computer is woken, the system is already updated and ready to go.  Intel has also improved upon the hibernation sleep mode by utilizing flash memory to greatly reduce the time necessary to enter hibernation and resume from the sleep mode.  In the demo, the system state was saved to a fast flash drive, and not only did the computer quickly hibernate but it resumed from hibernation in 5 seconds.

Intel also talked about mobile software.  Android and MeeGo are both software platforms that Intel is interested in powering with its mobile processors.  The 7" tablet and concept smart phone they showed off were both running android.  Intel's Senior Vice President and General Manager for its Software & Services Group, Renée J. James stated that Intel is well positioned to create an application ecosystem when it enters the mobile market, and that developers have stated that they plan to develop for them.  Further, Renée stated that 90% of Android applications are a run-time and can easily be made to run on Intel's mobile devices.

Windows Logo.png

Intel also addressed the shareholders' concerns of how Windows 8 on ARM would affect Intel.  The Windows 8 SKU for ARM will be a ARM focused operating system, and will run ARM applications.  The SKU will be well suited for ARM powered mobile devices where mobile and cloud applications can be used.  On the other hand, there will also be a "full" Windows 8 with Windows 7 mode that will offer the full featured Windows experience, including backwards compatibility with legacy applications--which the ARM SKU will not offer.  Because of this full featured Windows 8 operating system version is tailored for x86, Intel believes that it will have the "best of both worlds" for the consumers in being able to have the full fledged OS and ability to use existing Windows applications made for x86.  Renée remained confident in Intel's continued position despite an OS version for ARM chips.

Further, Intel recognized its McAfee acquisition.  The president of McAfee then took the stage to explain that the company was committed to delivering security products across the Intel line.  He also stressed that with the ever increasing presence of malware on the Internet, the current method of security programs using "blacklisting" techniques was not sustainable.  The cloud, he surmised, was both a security concern as well as a resource for security programs, and that he expects to have software that is backed by large Internet databases cataloging malware definitions to be the standard in the coming years until a technique stronger than blacklisting becomes usable.

For a hardware company, Intel has also delved heavily into software by working with developers and acquiring software companies.  They recognize that it takes more than hardware to create a quality computing experience and only with the right balance of both hardware and software is a consistent user experience across all of their devices possible.

Source: Intel

Intel Talks Mobile Hardware And Shows Off 32nm Medfield Android Smart Phone At Investor Meeting 2011

Subject: Mobile | May 17, 2011 - 08:08 PM |
Tagged: mobile, Medfield, Intel, Android

Intel held its annual Investor Meeting today, where the chip maker talked software, the state of the business, as well as new hardware and leveraging microarcitecture leadership.  This installment focuses on the mobile hardware aspects.

Partway through the Intel Investor Meeting 2011, David Perlmutter stepped on stage for his keynote speech.  As the Vice President and General Manager of the Intel Architecture Group, he delved into the advancements that Intel has made in smaller transistor manufacturing, and how those advancements will help Intel to break into the mobile and handheld computing market with low power and high performance SoCs (System on a Chip).  During the meeting, Intel stated that it has always been known for performance, but not necessarily for being low power.  With their recent advancements in moving to smaller manufacturing nodes; however, Intel has positioned itself to have power efficient processors that are low power and with power to deliver a fluid user experience in mobile devices.  David explains that power efficency follows along with Moore's Law in that as the transistors get smaller (and with Intel's advancements such as 3D transistors), the chips become much more power efficient.  With each successive shrink in manufacturing nodes, Intel has seen higher transistor switching speeds and lower current leakage compared to previous generations:

energy efficiency.png

What as these new power efficent chips amount to, is Intel's new ability to break into the mobile market and become extremely competitive with the ARM architecture(s).  David showed off two examples during the Investor Meeting 2011 in the form of an Android smart phone and 7" tablet powered by 32nm Medfield mobile chips.


The Medfield powered Android smart phone.


An Intel powered Android tablet that will be available to developers soon.

The phone is a hyper threaded, 32nm Intel Medfield mobile processor that runs the Android 2.x operating system and is poised to compete with the current dual core ARM powered smart phones.  A dual core version of the mobile SoC is also planned in the future.  When questioned if the rumored quad core ARM smart phones would pose a problem for Intel's planned single and dual core phones, David responded that the number of cores is only one aspect of performance, and is a measurement "much like megahertz was in the '90s" and hinted not to count Intel's processors out even when competing against quad core ARM processors.

The tablet did not recieve as much attention as the concept phone; however, we do know that it is capable of running Android Honeycomb, is 7", and will be powered by a very similar 32nm Medfield chip.


Intel projects that by 2015, not only will they have passed 14nm manufacturing nodes (which are planned for 2014) but the SoCs will have 10 times the graphics and computational power as their chips released this year.

From the keynotes at this year's meeting, Intel is both enthusiastic and confident in their ability to finally dive into the mobile market in force and become a heavywieght competitior to ARM.  Their plans to bring the x86 instruction set and power sipping chips to the handset and netbook markets is a bold move, but if their projections hold true may result in a massive market share increase and further innovation in an even more competitive mobile market.

Source: Intel

Google To Use Open Source Arduino Hardware For Android Open Accessory

Subject: Mobile | May 16, 2011 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: open source, arduino, Android

During Google IO, Google announced for their Android cell phone operating system a new Open Accessory API. This API is currently supported on Android 2.3.4 and 3.1 (Honeycomb) for cell phones and tablets respectively. This Open Accessory API is a "complete solution" of hardware and software for an Android ADK (Android Accessory Development Kit). On the hardware side of things, Google's reference design uses an Arduino board as well as USB host circuitry from Circuits@Home. using the Google ADK or Open Accessory compatible boards from Microchip and RT Corporation compatible boards, developers are able to offer hardware accessories that are able to communicate over USB (and Bluetooth in the future) to software applications.


The interesting part about Open Accessory is that when first plugging an Android phone into an Open Accessory piece of hardware, the hardware is able to indicate to the phone what software applications it needs in order to interact with and be controlled by the phone.

According to Hugo Barra, “with the ADK, we are welcoming hardware developers into the Android community, and giving a path to building great Android accessories quickly and easily.” He emphasises that the openness of Android Open Accessory means that there are no NDAs, no licensing fees, and no approval process in building the hardware or accompanying software.

Along with the ADK comes Android@Home, which is a new open wireless protocol that will allow "every appliance in your home" to communicate with your android phone.

Google wants to ramp up the imaginations of developers, and encourage them to develop new methods of notification systems and more immersive game-play. Much as the popular Parrot AR.Drone has augmented reality gaming aspects, Google wants to encourage game developers to utilize Android@Home to make their games more immersive by using the environment. During the IO presentation, they demonstrated flickering lights while playing Quake which reacted to gunfire in the game.

By choosing to go open source for not only the software but the hardware behind the Android Open Accessory API, they will enable as many people with as many ideas as possible to have a chance to develop accessories for the Android platform. This freedom of imagination will encourage innovation, and in a competitive OS market, innovation is good for the consumer.

You can read more about the Arduino and how it may affect Apple's way of dealing with third party accessories over at Make.

Source: Make

Roll your own Chromium OS lappy

Subject: Mobile | May 16, 2011 - 01:06 PM |
Tagged: chrome, DIY, Chromium OS

If you can't wait for someone to release a mobile PC with the Chromium OS preinstalled, then why not pick up your own laptop and install Chromium yourself?  ExtremeTech walks you through the process, from finding or making a build to install and installing it on a bootable USB device to moving that installation onto an internal drive.  There are links to troubleshooting sites and they reveal that the default password seems to be facepunch.


"On June 15, Samsung and Acer will release the first consumer-oriented Chrome OS laptops, or Chromebooks as Google likes to call them. Both hardware- and software-wise, these netbooks are nothing special: You can download Chrome OS's open source brother, Chromium OS, for free -- and at around $400 for a Chromebook, you would certainly expect some better hardware than what Samsung and Acer are offering.

In fact, for around $300 you can get a cheaper and more powerful netbook with Windows 7 pre-installed -- and it only takes about 30 minutes to wipe Windows and install Chrome OS yourself. You'll end up with a better and cheaper Chromebook -- and to top it off, you'll have a spare Windows 7 license that you can give to your mom."

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Source: ExtremeTech

Epic Games updates indie developers with May 2011 UDK

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Mobile | May 13, 2011 - 10:34 PM |
Tagged: udk, ios, game

Indie videogame developers have a great challenge keeping up with the industry. Technology is advancing quickly, the skills required to output games with the quality of the greatest developers keep diversifying, and the time required to detail each part keeps exploding. Though it is highly unlike that the next Call of Duty will come from a single person there are tool developers aiming to decrease the burden for projects of all sizes.


Do you think that was an onomatopoeia said by indie devs?

Epic Games released UDK in November 2009 to help developers make their own 3D PC games without needing to develop their own engine and associated toolset or needing to pay a hefty license fee up front. Since then, Epic has added support for iOS development to allow developers to create games for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. New versions have come out on an approximately monthly basis and May is no different.

This release is incrementally better than previous builds with a few usability tweaks like grouping objects and modifying them together, the ability to copy and paste vertex coloring, and performance importing art assets. As usual a few dozen documentation pages were updated to reflect changes in the game engine. While UDK does not remove the pain of making a good game, it does soften the blow a lot, which is all we got thus far.

Source: UDK

Tidbits from NVIDIA's Q1 conference call

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | May 13, 2011 - 06:49 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, conference call

NVIDIA made their quarterly conference call on May 12th which consisted of financial results up to May 1st and questions from financial analysts and investors. NVIDIA chief executive officer Jen-Hsun Huang projected that future revenue from the GPU market would be “flattish”, revenue from the professional market would be “flattish”, and revenue from the consumer market would be “uppish”. Huang did mention that he believes that the GPU market will grow in the future as GPUs become ever more prevalent.


How's the green giant doing this quarter? Read on for details.

For the professional market, NVIDIA discussed their intention to continue providing proof-of-concept applications to show the benefit of GPU acceleration which they hope will spur development of GPU accelerated code. Huang repetitively mentioned that the professional market desires abilities like simultaneous simulation and visualization and that a 10% code-rewrite would increase performance 500-1000%, but current uptake is not as fast as they would like. NVIDIA also hinted that GPUs will be pushed in the server space in the upcoming future but did not clarify on what that could be. NVIDIA could simply be stating that Tesla will continue to be a focus for them; they also could be hinting towards applications similar to what we have seen in recent open sourced projects.

For consumers, Huang made note of their presence in the Android market with their support of Honeycomb 3.1 and the upcoming Icecream Sandwich. Questions were posed about the lackluster sales of Tegra tablets but Huang responded stating that the first generation of tablets were deceptively undesirable due to cost of 3G service. He went on to say that the second wave of tablets will be cheaper and more available in retail stores with Wi-Fi only models more accessible to consumers.


nVihhhhhhhhhdia. (Image by Google)

The bulk of the conference call was centered on nVidia’s purchase of Icera though not a lot of details were released being that the purchase is yet to be finalized. The main points of note is that as of yet, while NVIDIA could integrate Icera’s modems onto their Tegra mobile processors, they have no intention of doing so. They also stated they currently have no intention of jumping into the other mobile chip markets such as GPS and near-field communications due to the lesser significance and greater number of competitors.


I think the new owners like the color on the logo.

The last point of note from the conference call was that they expect that Project Denver, NVIDIA’s ARM-based processor, to be about 2 generations away from accessible. They noted that they cannot comment for Microsoft but they do reiterate their support for Windows 8 and its introduction of the ARM architecture. The general theme throughout the call was that NVIDIA was confident in their position as a player in the industry. If each of their projects works out as they plan, it could be a very well justified attitude.

Source: NVIDIA

Netflix Instant Streaming Now Available For Select Android Phones

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 13, 2011 - 12:05 PM |
Tagged: Netflix, Internet, Android

It has been a long time coming; however, Netflix Instant Streaming is finally coming to a select number of Android powered smart phones. Engadget has the scoop, stating that

“Netflix explains that while the app is currently limited to phones with ‘requisite playback support,’ it anticipates that many of the ‘technical challenges will be resolved in the coming months,’and that it will be able to ‘provide a Netflix application that will work on a large majority of Android phones.’”

The following phones will be able to use the streaming feature of the Netflix application: HTC Incredible, Nexus One, Evo 4G, G2, and Samsung Nexus S.


While Nitdroid users and owners of older Android phones are currently out of luck, this move by Netflix is a good sign that Netflix on the open source operating system is possible, and can work well.

If you own one of the supported Android phones, you can download the application from the Android Market today!

Source: Engadget

Chromebook Follow-Up: Subscription Plan Pricing For Launch Models

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 12, 2011 - 09:32 PM |
Tagged: subscription, mobile, Chromebook

Maximum PC recently reported details regarding just what the Google Chromebook subscription will cost for the various models and what each subscription entails. While you can read about the Chromebook and the various subscriptions in this previous article, specific pricing for the subscriptions for each of the launch models are detailed below:

  Enterprise (monthly) Education (monthly)

Consumer (no subscription)

Acer Chromebook (WiFi) $28 $20 $349
Acer Chromebook (3G) $31 $23 $TBA
Samsung Series 5 (WiFi) $30 $20 $429
Samsung Series 5 (3G) $33 $23 $499


Futher details that were clairified regarded mobile data and minumum orders.  Each subscription will include 100MB of 3G data with those Chromebooks that have 3G hardware.  Also, in order to recieve a subscription contract, both businesses and schools must order a minimum of 10 devices.

Just as with cell phone plans, there are early termination fees for those schools and/or businesses that wish to back out of their contracts.  Google has stated that the early termination fee will be equal to the remainder of their contract.  For example, if a small business has twenty users and five months left on their contract, in order to get out of said contract, the business would need to pay $2800 if their users all had the base Acer WiFi model.  

Needless to say, it would be smarter to just ride out the contract (if possible for the institution), because at least then the business would still retain support for the devices versus buying out the contract for the same amount of money and losing all support for their devices.  It will be interesting to see if Google will hold businesses and schools to this ETF or if they will renege and change their policy to appear more enticing to the market.

Source: Maximum PC

MSI Gearing Up For Large Computex Release

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | May 12, 2011 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: tablet, notebook, msi, computex

VR-Zone reports that MSI is gearing up for a large Computex showing, and will unveil 5 new mobile products to it's existing platforms. 


Among the rumored launches are two tablets and three notebooks.  On the tablet side of things, both a Tegra 2 and AMD Brazos powered tablet are in the works.  The WindPad 100A will be powered by a Tegra 2 SoC and will run Android 2.3 in lieu of Honeycomb due to rumored hardware compatibilities.  The AMD Brazos platform brings AMD's fusion processor and graphics to the mobile space.  The WindPad 110W, the follow up to the Intel Atom powered 100W, will utilize the Brazos SoC running Windows 7.

As far as notebooks, the gaming lineup, C series, and X series will all see a refresh.  The GT683 will be a 15" gaming notebook.  The CX480 will update the C series with a rumored 14" form factor.  Finally, MSI's thin and light notebook lineup will receive the X460.

VR-Zone further states that "MSI is also said to be losing interest in netbooks due to declining demand and is refocusing on its notebook products as the company is expecting a 10 to 15 percent growth in notebook shipments this year, not taking tablets into account."

Source: VR-Zone

Google Announces the Chromebook, Students To Receive $20 Per Month Subscription

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 12, 2011 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: mobile, laptop, Chromebook

First there was the laptop. Then the notebook. The netbook is the most recent addition to mobile devices with hardware keyboards. That is, until today. Google has officially launched a new cloud OS based mobile device dubbed the ChromeBook.


As a netbook with an operating system that amounts to little more than a web browser, the device purports to not only match the functionality of a "normal" netbook, but surpass it thanks to file storage residing in the cloud, automatic updates to the OS, virtually unlimited applications, and an eight second boot time.

Google further states that the device is capable of all the promises feats while remaining secure. Security is accomplished by several independent strategies. The OS splits up system settings and user settings, and each ChromeBook allows only one "owner" per device. The owner is able to allow other users to log in to the device as well, whether it is with their Google account or as a guest. Guest Mode does not sync or cache data, and all system settings are kept out of the session, including network configuration. Each process is sandboxed in an effort to reduce the likely hood of cross-process attacks. Further, the browser and plugin processes are not given direct kernel interface access. Toolchain hardening seeks to limit exploit reliability and success. The file system has several restrictions, including a read-only root partition, tmpfs-based /tmp, and User home directories that can not have executable files.

Further, ChromeBooks utilize a secure automatic update system and Verified Boot that seeks to eliminate attacks tampering with the underlying code. All updates are downloaded over SSL, and are required to pass various integrity checks. The version number of updates is not allowed to regress, meaning that only updates with a version number higher than those already installed on the system are allowed to install. Further, on the next boot-up, the updates undergo a further integrity check in the form of what Google calls "Verified Boot."

According to Google, Verified Boot "provides a means of getting cryptographic assurances that the Linux kernel, non-volatile system memory, and the partition table are untampered with when the system starts up." The process depends on a "chain of trust" which is created using custom read-only firmware rather than a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) device. The read-only firmware checks the integrity of the writable firmware, and if it passes then the writable firmware is used to check the integrity of the next component in the boot up process. While Verified Boot does not protect against dedicated attackers, it does allow a safe recovery option when re-installing as well as detecting changes made by a successful run-time attack and files or write-able firmware changes made by an attacker with a bootable USB drive.

In future iterations of the OS, Google is pursuing driver sandboxing as well as implementing a secure method for auto-logins. Further, Google states that they are interested in pursuing biometric security if they are able to ensure their authentication software is secure when using low cost hardware. Also on the agenda is implementing a "single signon" system that would allow users to log into third party sites using credentials generated by their Google account.


Hardware running Chrome OS is not new, however. Google's CR-48 notebook has been in the wild for months, allowing thousands of users the chance to try out the new operating system and its accompanying hardware. Both Acer (11.6", $349) and Samsung (12.1", $429 wifi only) have stepped up to the plate and are offering ChromeBooks at launch. What is new; however, is the way in which users are able to purchase the hardware. While consumers will still be able to purchase a ChromeBook from retailers, Google has announced a new subscription option for school and business users. The new subscription service would allow students to receive a ChromeBook for $20 a month, while business users would pay $28 a month.  In order to get the subscription price schools and businesses must enter into a three year contract.  The subscription price includes the "hardware, operating system, updates and cloud-based management" along with online, email, and telephone support directly from Google. The monthly subscription further includes regular hardware refreshes.

It is apparent that Google sees its largest market for ChromeBooks as being large businesses and schools, which can then manage a fleet of ChromeBooks for their users for a much lower cost versus maintaining hundreds of traditional computers. While large IT departments are likely to see the cost benefits, It remains to be seen how consumers will react to this subscription based model. Subscriptions have become more prevalent, with the majority of the US using cell phones with monthly contracts. On the other hand, users --students especially-- are used to buying a computer outright. Will the lure of low cost subscription ChromeBooks be enough to break consumers' traditional thoughts on purchasing computers?  Will students accept remotely administrated computers in exchange for a low cost subscription?

Source: Google

Intel Atom Processors Will Not Use Intel Graphics, PowerVR GPUs Planned

Subject: Processors, Chipsets, Mobile | May 9, 2011 - 09:07 PM |
Tagged: PowerVR, Intel, gpu, atom

In a surprising move, Intel plans to move away from using it's own graphics processors with the next "full fat" Atom processors. Intel has traditionally favored its own graphics chipsets; however, VR-Zone reports that Intel has extended it's licensing agreements with PowerVR to include certain GPU architectures.

These GPU licenses will allow Intel to implement a PowerVR SGX545 equivalent graphics core with its Cedarview Atom chips. While the PowerVR graphics core is no match for dedicated GPUs or likely that found in Intel's own Sandy Bridge "HD 3000" series, the hardware will allow Atom powered systems to play video with ease thanks to hardware accelerated decodding of "MPEG-2, MPEG-4 part 2, VC1, WMV9 and the all-important H.264 codec."  VR-Zone details the SGX545 GPU as being capable of "40 million triangles/s and 1Gpixles/s using a 64-bit bus" at the chips original 200mhz.

Intel plans to clock the mobile chips at 400mhz and the desktop graphics cores at 640mhz.  The graphics cores will be capable of resolutions up to 1440x900 and supports VGA, HDMI 1.3a and Display Port 1.1 connections for video output.  DirectX 10.1 support is also stated by VR-Zone to be supported by the SGX545, which means that the net-top versions of Atom may be capable of running the Aero desktop smoothly.

This integration by Intel of a GPU capable of hardware video acceleration will certainly make Nvidia's ION chipsets harder to justify for HTPC usage.  ION chipsets will likely reliquish marketshare to cheaper stock Intel Atom platforms for basic home theater computers, but will still remain viable in the more specific market using ION + Atom chips as light gaming platforms in the living room.

Source: VR-Zone

HP Mini 210 is keeping the Atom alive

Subject: Mobile | May 9, 2011 - 02:19 PM |
Tagged: gma 3150, netbook, hp, atom, single core

 The demise of netbooks has been greatly exaggerated, with a $400-ish price tag and at least as much power as a tablet but without the added costs or contracts, there is still a large market for these devices.  The incredible sales figures we saw when this form factor originally came out will never be reached again but there still are a lot of people buying netbooks.  Up for review by Matt is the HP Mini 210 with a Atom N455 and Intel's older GMA 3150 graphics inside.  Is it worth saving $100 by choosing a single core netbook instead of a dual core?  Read on to find out.


"This praise aside, the HP Mini 210, like most traditional single-core netbooks, sits in a market position that is increasingly awkward. The problem is the lower prices of dual-core netbooks and budget ultraportables. The HP dm1z has now been reduced to an MSRP of $449.99, and the Eee PC 1215B’s initial price of $450 has already been knocked down to about $435 on Amazon. These dual-core AMD Fusion powered netbooks are substantially quicker than the HP Mini 210, but only $100 more."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:


NVIDIA acquires baseband and RF technology maker Icera

Subject: General Tech, Chipsets, Mobile | May 9, 2011 - 10:56 AM |

NVIDIA is really making moves towards providing the mobile industry with the computing power to bring on better and faster phones.  They took a big hit losing the DMI/QPI license from Intel, though the $1.5 billion court settlement took some of the sting from that loss, the battle essentially spelled the end for NVIDIA's motherboard chipset line.  Only being able to make motherboard chipsets for their main GPU competitor, AMD, might be amusing in an ironic sense but not an economically sound decision. 


Tegra saw a change in NVIDIA's target market, suddenly they provided a mobile chip that provided very impressive computing power and did not absorb a huge amount of power.  With the acquistion of Icera they now have a team designing the chips most necessary for a phone to have, RF and baseband transmission.  Perhaps they've a big enough foot in the door of the mobile market that they won't be going anywhere soon.

Icera’s baseband and RF technologies span 2G, 3G and 4G networks. Joining them with our Tegra mobile super chip will result in a powerful combination. Tegra has secured a number of design wins across the mobile device spectrum, and we have extensive relationships across the industry, from device manufacturers to carriers. In short, we can scale Icera’s great innovation. For additional context on Icera’s industry-leading technology, check out this report from Strategy Analytics.

Our OEM partners will reap the benefits of faster time-to-market, better integration and enhanced performance. The deal will also open up a new market to NVIDIA. The $15 billion global market for baseband processors is one of the fastest-growing areas in the industry.

Looking ahead, Icera’s programmable baseband processor architecture will allow NVIDIA and its OEM customers to innovate and adapt signaling algorithms in the rapidly evolving mobile telecommunications market — network responsiveness is critical to delivering on the promise of untethered wireless visual computing. Icera’s highly efficient architecture makes it possible to cleanly integrate their baseband processor into system and software platforms rapidly and, ultimately, into the super chip itself, if that’s the best product approach.

Source: NVIDIA

HP Announces New and Updated Laptops, Brings the Beat to Your Office

Subject: Mobile | May 9, 2011 - 08:26 AM |
Tagged: probook, pavilion, mini, hp, envy, elitebook

ProBook 5330m - Front Open.jpg

Ever had the urge to get down at work? HP’s newly announced ProBook 5330m might be just the thing for you. This new 13.3” business ultraportable will be hitting retailers today with optional Beats Audio and an MSRP of $799. The funky audio aside, this is still a ProBook, so it has high-end features like an aluminum chassis and backlit keyboard. Slap another dress on it and you could call this the HP Envy 13.


Asus Eee Pad Transformer Shortage Due To High Demand

Subject: Mobile | May 7, 2011 - 08:37 AM |
Tagged: Transformer, tablet, asus

Many people were left without a shiny Asus Eee Pad Transformer upon launch day as Amazon and various online retailers' stocks were voraciously depleted. Even going so far as to being unable to fulfill some pre-orders for customers who wanted both the tablet and keyboard dock.


There have been many theories across the Internet regarding the reason for the tablet's supply shortage, ranging from simple unprecedented consumer demand to more complex component shortage and manufacturing quality control issues. Fortunately, Netbook News was able to get a statement from Asus' Headquarters in Taipei on the exact reason for the Transformer's low stock. They quote ASUSTek's spokesperson David Chang in stating "It really depends on the demand. The current demand surpasses our expectations by far."

The company is currently ramping up production of the hot tablet, and expects 300,000 units to be made available for purchase at the end of June this year. Rumors of component shortages and quality control issues were not confirmed by the spokesperson.  The Asus spokesperson did; however, state that "If the demand continues to increase substantially then we will have to continue to ramp up production in order to fulfill our customers’ demand."

As more units start to hit the streets, will you be picking up your Asus Transformer?

Source: Netbook News