AMD's new A-series processors; why didn't they tell anyone?

Subject: General Tech | December 21, 2011 - 03:39 PM |
Tagged: llano, APU, amd, a-series

From DigiTimes we have some news that AMD has been keeping a very tight lid on for some reason.   The secret was not a brand new product line or surprising advance that won't see the light of day for a long time to come, instead it was the arrival of updated A-series APUs to the market.  With absolutely no press build up or even a review of these processors in sight it came as a bit of a surprise, albeit a good one.  We have a pair of new A-8 and A-6 processors and a single A-4 on the desktop side, with an addional "K" in the name of two.  That "K", which you will remember from Intel processors, does indeed seem to replace the Black Edition name AMD previously used to identify unlocked processors.  For the notebooks are a few more chips, two of each of the A-8 and A-6, three A-4 processors and an E2 as well.  The naming scheme here is concerned with the TDP of the chip, an M part is 35W and the MX is 45W.  

Perhaps AMD let a few too many of their marketers go as they are not only not telling anyone about their new parts they had to borrow a naming scheme from the competition.  Catch all of DigiTimes coverage here.

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"AMD has updated its A-series lineup of desktop and notebook accelerated processing units (APUs), further improving its family of dual- and quad-core APUs. Along with speed and performance improvements, AMD Steady Video update make this unique feature more compelling. For desktop users, AMD extends its overclocking pedigree to the APU; for the first time users can tune both x86 and graphics settings in a single processor for boosted performance.

The updated AMD A-series APUs combine up to four x86 CPU cores with up to 400 Radeon cores, delivering powerful DirectX 11-capable, discrete-level graphics and dedicated HD video processing on a single chip. These new APUs increase performance and deliver a richer feature set than existing AMD A-series APUs. Plus, only AMD APUs offer AMD Dual Graphics for an up to 144% visual performance boost when a select APU is paired with a select AMD Radeon HD 6500 Series graphics card.

The AMD A-series family of APUs also features AMD Steady Video, designed to stabilize videos during playback. On select systems using AMD A-series APUs, Internet Explorer 9 will include an AMD Steady Video plugin, unlocking one-click control to simplify access to the premium AMD Steady Video feature for video stabilization.

All AMD A-series processors are powered by AMD VISION Engine Software, a suite of software that provides end-users with regular updates designed to improve system performance and stability, and can add new software enhancements."

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Source: DigiTimes

Mozilla Renews Firefox Search Box Deal With Google

Subject: General Tech | December 21, 2011 - 04:53 AM |
Tagged: search, mozilla, google, firefox

Mozilla, the company behind the popular open source Firefox web browser receives a great deal of revenue from it's deal with Google wherein they make Google the default search engine and prominent placement in the search box. The deal between the two companies was set to end this year, and there was talk around the web that Google was set to not renew the deal now that its own web browser, Chrome, was gaining market share. Needless to say, such a deal ending would be very bad for Mozilla and the continued development of the Firefox browser.

 

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Fortunately, according to Tom's Hardware, Mozilla has managed to renew the Firefox Google search deal for an additional three years. While the exact amount of money Mozilla is paid by Google for the search box deal, the deal's extension speaks well to Mozilla's financial stability, and should give them time to build up their browser and explore additional revenue opportunities. Firefox currently holds about a quarter of the browser market, and its continued development is important to keeping the competition on its toes and prodding IE into being standards compliant.  The site quoted Mozilla's CEO Gary Kovacs in stating "this new agreement extends our long term search relationship with Google for at least three additional years," and that the deal between Mozilla and Google was "significant and mutually beneficial."

Are you glad that Firefox is going to stick around? The comment form is always open.

Seagate Completes Acquisition of Samsung’s Hard Disk Drive Business

Subject: General Tech, Storage | December 20, 2011 - 02:52 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, Samsung, sale, partnership, hdd

Back in April of this year we heard that Samsung was going to spin off its HDD department, handing the entire compliment of staff, equipment and trademarked names to Seagate for about $1.4 billion USD total.  Today that sale is complete as Seagate announced the final approval of the acquisition.  This means very little for the consumer over the next 12 months, and not just because of the lack of available HDDs.  Samsung's branding will remain on their HDD lines for the next year and as the entire Samsung team and facilities came with the rights to the products the design and assembly teams will be the same as when they were owned by Samsung.  

Fans of Samsung notebooks and other PCs will also be unaffected as those products tended to utilize Seagate HDDs already, as the two companies have had a long and tight partnership.  After a year we may see many of the Samsung lines disappear as they are folded into pre-existing Seagate product families, though it seems reasonable to hope that the new products will represent the both of best worlds.

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CUPERTINO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Seagate Technology plc (NASDAQ:STX), a world leader in hard disk drives and storage solutions, today announced the closing of the transaction to acquire the hard disk drive (HDD) business of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., a world leader in digital consumer electronics and information technology.

Under the terms of the transaction, Seagate has gained select elements of Samsung’s HDD business, including assets, infrastructure and employees that enable Seagate to drive scale and innovation. These assets include Samsung’s leading M8 product line of high-capacity, 2.5-inch HDDs. Samsung employees joining Seagate include a number of senior managers and design-engineering employees from Samsung's Korea facility, who will focus on development of small form-factor products for the mobile compute market. N.Y. Park, senior vice president and general manager, will oversee Seagate’s product development activities in Korea and serve as country manager of the Korea design center, reporting to Bob Whitmore, Seagate’s executive vice president and CTO.

“Together, Seagate and Samsung have aligned our current and future product development efforts and roadmaps in order to accelerate time-to-market efficiency for new products and position us to better address the increasing demands for storage,” said Steve Luczo, Seagate chairman, president and CEO. “It is an exciting time in the industry with rapidly evolving opportunities in many markets including mobile computing, cloud computing, and solid state storage.”

This transaction was announced in April 2011 along with a series of other agreements between Seagate and Samsung. Seagate is supplying disk drives to Samsung for PCs, notebooks and consumer electronics devices. Samsung is supplying its market-leading semiconductor products for use in Seagate’s enterprise solid state drives (SSDs), solid-state hybrid drives and other products. The companies have also extended and enhanced their existing patent cross-license agreement and have expanded cooperation to co-develop enterprise storage solutions.

“The strategic relationship will open new opportunities for the two companies by mutually complementing each other’s creative technology solutions for a broad diversity of IT applications,” said Oh-Hyun Kwon, vice chairman of Device Solutions of Samsung Electronics.

The transactions and agreements substantially expand Seagate’s customer access in China, Southeast Asia, Brazil, Germany and the Russian Federation. Seagate and Samsung also have been working together to ensure that customers continue to receive a high level of service, support and innovation, including activities to align the two companies’ supply bases and delivery infrastructure. To ease the transition of products and technologies, Seagate will retain certain Samsung HDD products under the Samsung brand name for 12 months, and maintain or establish a number of independent operations including sales staff, key production lines and R&D. Customers can find more information at www.seagate.com/samsung.

The combined value of these transactions and agreements is approximately US $1.4 billion, consisting of 45,239,490 Seagate Ordinary Shares and the remaining balance settled in cash. In addition, Samsung will designate a nominee to join Seagate’s Board of Directors.

Seagate does not presently expect significant restructuring costs and expects to achieve considerable reductions in overall operating expenses for the combined business while minimizing the integration costs. As previously stated, Seagate expects that the transactions and agreements will be meaningfully accretive to non-GAAP diluted earnings per share and cash flow in the first full year following the closing. Seagate will provide additional financial information for the combined company on its fiscal second quarter conference call in late January.

Source: Seagate

Give your project good CARMA, get a CUDA on ARM dev kit!

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | December 20, 2011 - 04:34 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, CUDA, CARMA, capital letters, arm

Okay so the pun was a little obvious, but NVIDIA has just announced the specifications and name for the development kit used to develop for their ARM-based GPU computing platform. The development kit will provide a method to build and test applications on a platform similar to what will be found in the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre’s upcoming GPU supercomputer until you are ready to deploy the finished application with real data on the real machine. Such is the life of a development units.

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Carma: What goes around, comes around... right Intel?

The development kit is quite modest in its specifications:

  • Tegra3 ARM A9 CPU
  • Quadro 1000M GPU (96 CUDA Cores)
  • 2GB system RAM, 2GB GPU RAM
  • 4x PCIe Gen1 CPU to GPU link
  • 1000Base-T networking support
  • SATA, HDMI, DisplayPort, USB.
 
While the specifications are somewhere between a high-end tablet and a modest workstation, the real story is the continued progress by NVIDIA into the High Performance Computing (HPC) market. NVIDIA seems to be certain that they are able to (ARM-)wrestle more market share from Intel and other players such as IBM on the high performance front. Many would probably speculate about NVIDIA’s crushing in towards the home market from both ends, but I expect that creating a compelling ARM product for a desktop PC will never be the problem for NVIDIA: it is a lack of anything compelling to run on it these days for a desktop user.
Source: NVIDIA Blogs
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Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

Introduction

As the neighborhoods are adorned with lights and reindeer decorations, and the airwaves are ringing with Christmas carols, one realizes that it is that time of year again!  Although December arrived much faster than any of us at PC Perspective expected, there is no doubt that time to purchase gifts is running short and this year is almost over.

In keeping with the holiday spirit, the PC Perspective team got into a discussion about items and services that we would want for Christmas and that we felt would make really great gifts for our loved ones.  And thus the PC Perspective Holiday Gift Guide 2011 was born!

PC Perspective Holiday Gift Guide 2011.png

Continue reading our PC Perspective Last-Minute Holiday Tech Gift Guide!!

One remote to rule them all

Subject: General Tech | December 19, 2011 - 01:59 PM |
Tagged: smart control, remote control, htpc

It is far too common for your coffee table to have several so called universal remotes on it, to control the variety of electronic equipment which makes up your entertainment center.  Each one will have a device that it works best with, either because of the presence of certain buttons or even simply not having a working control code.  Tech Reviews has a possible solution for you and one that doesn't even cost all that much. The One For All Smart Control is designed to work with TV, STB, DVD, AMP, MP3 and Media devices and the best part about it is that some commands can be given using motions.  Soon screaming and waving your remote at your TV will actually accomplish something.

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"We’ve all seen universal remote controls for TVs, but the One For All Smart Control takes things to a completely different level. The Smart Control provides the ability to control your devices with just a simple flick, or tap, of the remote control. Retailing at only £17.50, the One For All Smart Control is an absolute bargain considering you’re receiving quite a few features. Let’s take a closer look…"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: Tech Reviews

Radeon HD7970 specs leaked. 3.5 Teraflops, 3GB vRAM

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 16, 2011 - 04:45 PM |
Tagged: Radeon HD 7000, leak, amd

Update: 5:35, added a few points.

If the convincing-looking leaked slides are to be believed, the upcoming AMD Radeon HD 7970 card is now naked before us with all its measurements laid to bare. While there still is nothing official as the embargo is not up yet, rest assured that at some point the full story will flood to the surface. What can be said is that if this slide is true, the 7970 looks to be a real beast of a card.

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The supposed reference specifications of the 7970… or are they?

(Image obviously from OBR-Hardware)

As you can tell from the heavily watermarked slide, AMD claims 3.5 TFLOPs of computing power from their 2048 stream processing units clocked at 925 MHz. Contrast this against the AMD’s assertion of 2.7 TFLOPs from the Radeon 6970’s 1536 stream processors and a core clock of 880MHz; while it is not an apples-to-apples comparison, it is a healthy buff to AMD’s portfolio. Also relevant, is a more recent slide claiming much-increased performance during tesselation which NVIDIA typically has maintained a healthy lead over AMD with.

Possibly the most major point from the table is the power consumption: less than 3 Watts during idle. To give a bit of... pc perspective...: HardOCP measured the idle power consumption of the 6970 to be 24 Watts and the NVIDIA GTX 580 at 41 Watts. We are talking about an 88% decrease in idle power draw compared to AMD’s last generation’s single GPU powerhouse. It makes me wonder: how will this affect mobility graphics? According to OBR-Hardware, their slide is somewhat out-of-date; the expected peak is 200W give or take for the card on load, though I am sure that will vary depending on which brand of card you purchase.

Source: The Verge

Amazon Selling Millions of Kindle Fire Tablets

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 16, 2011 - 03:32 AM |
Tagged: kindle, tablet, kindle fire, ereader, sales

Although Amazon’s recent Kindle Fire eReader and tablet arrived to mixed reviews due to performance issues and privacy concerns, a great number of consumers (mainly less demanding relatives of tech enthusiasts from my experience) are buying them and enjoying them. Of personal experience, my significant other has yet to let it out of her sight for me to have time to test it out for example.

Therefore, I assumed the Kindle Fire was selling well. The sales seem to be much better than I expected; however, if these numbers by CNet turn out to be true. According to Amazon, the Kindle Fire has been the “bestselling, most gifted, and most wished for product” on Amazon.com ever since the tablet’s November 15th release.

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Cnet further talked with the CEO of eDataSource Carter Nicholas who stated the Amazon statement on the Fire’s popularity was likely true. The market research firm has compiled data that shows Amazon sold 45,000 Kindle Fire tablets in one day last month alone, and Nicholas predicts increased sales over the holiday seasons. Approximately 850,000 Kindle Fires have been sold through Amazon.com’s website. Further, Isupply estimates that Amazon will ship 3.9 million Kindle Fire eReaders between October (pre-orders) and the end of December. While 850,000 Fire’s have been sold from the website, by including all channel partners and brick and mortar stores, it is estimated that Amazon has sold upwards of 2 million Fire tablets already. More information can be had here.

Because of the price, the Kindle Fire is selling like it is some kind of fire powered hotcake sale. Have you had a chance to play around with the Amazon tablet yet, and if so what are your thoughts on the device? Do you think the company will sell enough devices to give Apple a run for it’s money?

Source: Cnet

Put a Kaiburr crystal in your mouse and the Force will be with you

Subject: General Tech | December 15, 2011 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: input, gaming mouse, SWTOR, gaming headset, razer

We saw a BF3 branded gaming peripheral kit not long after the arrival of the game and you can get your hands on a Diablo 3 branded kit already, even though we are still awaiting the release of that game.  Now Razer offers some love to fans of Star Wars: The Old Republic with a new mousepad, mouse and headset kit all bearing a familiar logo.  The mouse is based on the Naga and has a 5600dpi sensor, 17 programmable buttons and both wired and wireless capabilities.  Most important the LEDs can switch between red or blue (well, 16 million colours total) as well as changing the logo to properly advertise the side you have chosen.  The headset uses 50mm drivers and also sports changeable logos and LED colours, though the mousepad lacks that ability.  Along with the pack, Hardware Heaven points out that you get a colour change crystal for use in game to change the colour of your blaster bolts and lightsaber blade.

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"Every big game release can be enhanced by a set of quality devices which tie in with the overall feel of the franchise and that is exactly what Razer aim to deliver with their The Old Republic gaming gear. We have the mouse, headset and mouse mat on our test bench today for a detailed look at what they offer for The Old Republic gamer."

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Can your smartphone deal with 100,000 triangles per frame? Find out with Rightware OpenGL ES Halti

Subject: General Tech | December 15, 2011 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: ES Halti, opengl, Basemark ES 2.0, rightware

The mobile reviews at PC Perspective tend to use SunSpider and Vellamo we also use a RightWare product called BrowserMark to test the responsiveness of smart phones and tablets.  RightWare now has a new tool for reviewers and those who tweak their phones, Basemark Halti which tests OpenGL performance.  This is of huge importance for those who want to have high quality gaming performance on their phones.  The first benchmark is called Rush and is reminiscent of Mirror's Edge, which is quite on purpose as the benchmark is intended to replicate PC quality character rendering.   The second involves a car racing around a track, a common type of gaming on a phone that contains an accelerometer.  Again, this is intended to push the ability of your phone as far as it can go.  AnandTech doesn't have the benchmarking software yet but you can bet it will be in their reviews for 2012.

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"GPU benchmarking on the smartphone side of things is continuing to heat up, and today RightWare, maker of both BrowserMark and the very popular Basemark ES 2.0 (which are regular fixations in our smartphone reviews), has announced its OpenGL ES Halti benchmark, named Basemark Halti. Basemark Halti is slated to launch in 2012 for testing OpenGL ES Halti on devices coming in the near future."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: AnandTech