Intel Roadmap Including Xeon E7 v2 Lineup

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | February 19, 2014 - 03:28 AM |
Tagged: Intel, SoC, atom, haswell, Haswell-E, Airmont, Ivy Bridge-EX

Every few months, we get another snapshot at some of Intel's products. This timeline has a rough placement for every segment, from their Internet of Things (IoT) product, the Quark, up to the Xeon E7 v2. While it covers from now through December, it is not designed to be a strict schedule and might contain an error or two.

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Image Credit: VR-Zone

First up is Ivy Bridge-EX (Xeon E7 v2). PCMag has an interesting rundown on these parts in depth, although some aspects are a little fuzzy. These 22nm-based chips range from 6 to 15 cores and can access up to 1.5TB of memory, per socket. Intel also claims they will support up to four times the I/O bandwidth for disk and network transactions. Naturally, they have all the usual virtualization and other features that are useful for servers. Most support Turbo Boost and all but one have Hyper-Threading Technology.

Jumping back to the VR-Zone editorial, the timeline suggests that the Quark X1000 will launch in April. As far as I can tell, this is new information. Quark is Intel's ultra low-end SoC that is designed for adding intelligence to non-computing devices. One example given by Intel at CES was a smart baby bottle warmer.

The refresh of Haswell is also expected to happen in April.

Heading into the third quarter, we should see Haswell-E make an appearance for the enthusiast desktop and moderately high-end server. This should be the first time since Sandy Bridge-E (2011) that expensive PCs get a healthy boost to single-threaded performance, clock for clock. Ivy Bridge-E, while a welcome addition, was definitely aimed at reducing power consumption.

Ending the year should be the launch of Airmont at 14nm. The successor to Silvermont, Airmont will be the basis of Cherry Trail tablets and lower end PCs at the very end of the year. Moorefield, which is Airmont for smartphones, is not listed on this roadmap and should not surface until 2015.

Source: VR-Zone

A Few Quarters Can Be All That Motorola Needs

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | February 15, 2014 - 11:47 PM |
Tagged: motorola, Lenovo, acquisition

According to Bloomberg, Lenovo's CEO has recently made a claim in a phone interview that, "In a few quarters we can turn around the business [Motorola]". Google is currently in the process of selling a subset of Motorola to Lenovo for $2.9 billion USD. When it was first announced, I assumed the deal was based on Motorola's brand power and their relationship with wireless carriers around the world.

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Now, two weeks later, Lenovo outlines their plan. The company expects to push Motorola into China, emerging markets, and even existing ones. Lenovo's CEO, Yang Yuanqing, believes that customers will positively identify with the brand, especially in China. They are planning to relaunch the brand in China and become a stronger third-place competitor (globally).

The company also disclosed that approximately 3,500 employees would carry over with this acquisition.

Source: Bloomberg

MediaTek Follows ARM Cortex-A17 Unveil with MT6595

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | February 12, 2014 - 05:48 PM |
Tagged: mediatek, arm, cortex, A17

Our Josh Walrath wrote up an editorial about the Cortex-A17 architecture less than two days ago. In it, he reports on ARM's announcement that "the IP" will ship in 2015. On the same calendar date, MediaTek announced their MT6595 SoC, integrating A17 and A7 cores, will be commercially available in 1H 2014 with devices in 2H 2014.

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Of course, it is difficult to tell how ahead of schedule this is, depending on what ARM meant by shipping in 2015 and what MediaTek meant by devices based on the MT6595 platform in 2H 2014.

There are two key features about the A17: a 40% power reduction from A15 and its ability to integrate with A7 cores in a big.LITTLE structure. MediaTek goes a little further with "CorePilot", which schedules tasks across all eight cores (despite it being a grouping of two different architectures). This makes some amount of sense because it allows for four strong threads which can be augmented with four weaker threads. Especially for applications like web browsers, it is not uncommon to have a dominant main thread.

The SoC will also support LTE and HSPA+ mobile and 802.11ac wireless connections. It will not integrate the Mali-T720 GPU (DX11/OpenGL ES 3.0), but instead use the Power VR Series6 GPU (DX10/OpenGL ES 3.0 unless it is an unannounced design). MediaTek does not explain why they chose the one licensed GPU over the other.

MediaTek claims the MT6595 platform will be available in the first half of 2014 with devices coming in the second half.

Source: MediaTek

MSI Refreshes GX Destroyer Series with AMD R9 M290X Graphics

Subject: Mobile | February 5, 2014 - 06:35 PM |
Tagged: msi, GX Destroyer Series, gaming laptop, Dragon Gaming Center, R9-M290X

City of Industry, Calif. – January 5, 2014 – MSI Computer Corp, a leading manufacturer of computer hardware products and solutions, announces the availability of the new GX Destroyer Series featuring AMD A10 processor, AMD Radeon R9-M290X graphics and a variety of gaming features designed to deliver optimal performance.

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MSI’s GX Destroyer Series possesses the perfect combination of multimedia capability and gaming performance. Armed with AMD’s state-of-the-art mobile processor, both GX70 and GX60 Destroyers come with AMD’s latest GPU and its proprietary Mantle Graphics technology, which improves gaming performance, ensures higher resolutions and smoother gameplay and allows developers to utilize the GPU more efficiently to create a more immersive gaming experience.

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GX Destroyer units are the first gaming notebooks to feature MSI’s Dragon Gaming Center, a gaming shortcut key designed to maximize performance and speed by performing full system check-ups, instantly configuring your machine to your preset gaming environment profile and closing unnecessary background applications to increase processing power. The units also feature SteelSeries’ keyboard customization software that gives users the ability to modify colors, lighting effects, and more.

“The GX Destroyer Series delivers the optimum combination of performance and affordability demanded by both the professional and amateur gamer,” said Andy Tung, CEO for MSI Pan America. “The myriad of multimedia and gaming components in both the GX70 Destroyer and GX60 Destroyer make the units the ultimate portable gaming and entertainment machines.”

The GX Destroyer Series also comes with Killer™ E2200 Game Networking for lag-free gaming, SoundBlaster Cinema for ultra-realistic sound, MSI’s Cooler Boost and Audio Boost technology and AMD’s Eyefinity technology. AMD’s Eyefinity technology allows users to run multiple independent displays simultaneous and supports 4K output displays up to 5760x1080 resolutions.

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There are plans to implement the SteelSeries Engine software to provide a deeper level of customization on the GX Destroyer series as well as the upcoming next gen G Series laptops. MSI plans to roll out the software within the next few months and will provide further information on how to obtain the software for current owners of the gaming notebooks once it becomes available.

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Select major retailers and e-tailers will also offer Battlefield 4 free for the GX Destroyer series when it becomes available. For more information about the latest generation GX70 Destroyer or GX60 Destroyer, please visit http://www.msimobile.com or http://usgaming.msi.com/.

Source: MSI

Fancy a new Chromebook?

Subject: Mobile | February 4, 2014 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: dell, Chromebook, Chromebook 11

Chromebooks seem to have slipped under the news radar as they are still being sold but you do not see many reviews of them.  The Inquirer bucked that trend and published a review of Dell's new Chromebook 11 which sells for a mere £159 overseas and while Dell is a bit cagey about the cost her, it should be around the $250 mark.  The 11.6" notebook is tiny, about an inch thick at most and weighing a mere 1.3kg and the PR claims a battery life of 10 hours.  The 1366 x 768 screen is nothing new but the Haswell based Celeron 2955U is, along with a 16GB SSD for local storage and your choice of 2 or 4GB of RAM should help make this new Chromebook stand out from the previous generation.

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"As you'd expect at such a low price point, Dell's Chromebook 11 isn't the most powerful device, but the firm claims that it is powerful enough to perform all tasks required by the Chrome OS with ease."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: The Inquirer
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Design

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Arguably some of the most thoughtful machines on the market are Lenovo’s venerable ThinkPads, which—while sporadically brave in their assertions—are still among the most conservative (yet simultaneously practical) notebooks available.  What makes these notebooks so popular in the business crowds is their longstanding refusal to compromise functionality in the interest of form, as well as their self-proclaimed legendary reliability.  And you could argue that such practical conservatism is what defines a good business notebook: a device which embraces the latest technological trends, but only with requisite caution and consideration.

Maybe it’s the shaky PC market, or maybe it’s the sheer onset of sexy technologies such as touch and clickpads, but recent ThinkPads have begun to show some uncommon progressivism, and unapologetically so, too.  First, it was the complete replacement of the traditional critically-acclaimed ThinkPad keyboard with the Chiclet AccuType variety, a decision which irked purists but eventually was accepted by most.  Along with that were the integrated touchpad buttons, which are still lamented by many users.  Those alterations to the winning design were ultimately relatively minor, however, and for the most part, they’ve now been digested by the community.  Now, though, with the T440s (as well as the rest of Lenovo’s revamped ThinkPad lineup), we’re seeing what will perhaps constitute the most controversial change of all: the substitution of the older touchpads with a “5-button trackpad”, as well as optional touchscreen interface.

Can these changes help to keep the T440s on the cusp of technological progress, or has the design finally crossed the threshold into the realm of counterproductivity?

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Compared with nearly any other modern notebook, these specs might not hold many surprises.  But judged side-by-side with its T430s predecessor, there are some pretty striking differences.  For starters, the T440s is the first in its line to offer only low-voltage CPU options.  While our test unit shipped with the (certainly capable enough) Core i5-4200U—a dual-core processor with up to 2.6 GHz Turbo Boost clock rate—options range up to a Core i7-4600U (up to 3.30 GHz).  Still, these options are admittedly a far cry from the i7-3520M with which top-end T430s machines were equipped.  Of course, it’s also less than half of the TDP, which is likely why the decision was made.  Other notables are the lack of discrete graphics options (previously users has the choice of either integrated graphics or an NVIDIA NVS 5200M) and the maximum supported memory of 12 GB.  And, of course, there’s the touchscreen—which is not required, but rather, is merely an option.  On the other hand, while we’re on the subject of the screen, this is also the first model in the series to offer a 1080p resolution, whether traditional or touch-enabled—which is very much appreciated indeed.

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That’s a pretty significant departure from the design of the T430s, which—as it currently appears—could represent the last T4xxs model that will provide such powerhouse options at the obvious expense of battery life.  Although some markets already have the option of the ThinkPad S440 to fill the Ultrabook void within the ThinkPad 14-inch range, that notebook can even be outfitted with discrete graphics.  The T440s top-end configuration, meanwhile, consists of a 15W TDP dual-core i7 with integrated graphics and 12 GB DDR3 RAM.  In other words, it’s powerful, but it’s just not in the same class as the T430’s components.  What’s more important to you?

Continue reading our review of the ThinkPad T440s!!!

You Got Something? Lenovo's Buying. Google Sells Motorola.

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | February 1, 2014 - 09:01 AM |
Tagged: motorola, Lenovo, google

Lenovo has a few billion dollars to throw around, apparently. The company, typically known for consumer and enterprise PCs, just finished buying more food off of IBM's plate with the acquisition of their x86 server and mainframe business. That business was not as profitable for IBM compared to their rest of their portfolio. $2.3 billion, mostly in cash, was the better choice for them (albeit a reluctant one).

Another $2.9 billion yields them a lean subset of Motorola.

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Not Google, either.

Lenovo has been wanting a bigger share of the phone and tablet market. Unlike when Google purchased Motorola, Lenovo was not as concerned with owning the patent portfolio. $2.9 billion is a small fraction of $12.5 billion sum that Google valued Motorola at, but Lenovo only wanted about a tenth of the patents. That said, a tenth of the patents is still a couple thousand of them.

For the longest time, I have been thinking that Google was going the wrong route with Motorola. It seemed like any attempt to use the company as a cellphone manufacturer would either bleed money in failure or aggravate your biggest partners. I figured it would be best for Google to pivot Motorola into a research company which would create technologies to license to handset developers. This could be a significant stream of revenue and a love letter to their OEMs while retaining the patents they desired.

I did not think to spin off or sell the rest.

Ironically, that is very close to what we have today. Google, eventually, got rid of the cellphone division except for their licensed "Nexus" trademark. Google kept their patents and they kept the Motorola research team ("Motorola Advanced Technology and Patents Group").

It does not quite line up with my expectation, however; at least not yet. The Motorola research team would need to produce technology to license to partners and maybe other handset manufacturers; also, the time they spent with their toe in handset development bathwater could have already harmed their relationships, irreparably.

As for Lenovo, it seems like a clear win for the company. Motorola still has significant brand power and an open dialog with carriers worldwide at a cost of just a few billion. I do have questions how Lenovo will integrate the brand into their portfolio. Specifically, which company's name will be on each product? I expect it would have to be "Lenovo" but I also believe they have to put the Motorola trademark somewhere, right?

Anyway, who do you predict Lenovo to purchase next? Has the insanity ended?

Source: The Verge

64-bit Android is Down By the Bay

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | January 21, 2014 - 04:14 AM |
Tagged: x86, Intel, Android, 64-bit

Given how long it took Intel to release a good 64-bit architecture, dragged ear-first by AMD, it does seem a little odd for them to lead the tablet charge. ARM developers are still focusing on 32-bit architectures and current Windows 8.1 tablets tend to stick with 32-bit because of Connected Standby bugs. Both of these should be cleared up soon.

Also, 64-bit Android tablets should be available this spring based on Bay Trail.

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According to Peter Bright of Ars Technica, Android will be first to 64-bit on its x86 build while the ARM variant hovers at 32-bit for a little while longer. It would not surprise me if Intel's software engineers contributed heavily to this development (which is a good thing). I expect NVIDIA to do the same, if necessary, to ensure that Project Denver will launch successfully later this year.

The most interesting part about this is how the PC industry, a symbol of corporate survival of the fittest, typically stomps on siloed competitors but is now facing the ARM industry built on a similar Darwin-based logic. Both embrace openness apart from a few patented instruction sets. Who will win? Well, probably Web Standards, but that is neither here nor there.

Source: Ars Technica

MSI's GX70 & GX60 Destroyer Notebooks with R9-M290X

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Mobile | January 20, 2014 - 05:28 PM |
Tagged: msi, gaming laptop

MSI is launching two new laptops, the GX70 Destroyer and the GX60 Destroyer, in their gaming lineup. Both are based on the AMD A10-5750M Richland APU and R9-M290X 2GB discrete graphics. MSI included the fastest AMD mobile graphics processor available which targets just above 30FPS in true 1080p Battlefield 4 on Ultra settings. Of course, this could change to some extent when Mantle appears. They also allow access to the APU's HD8650G graphics portion for power-saving while driving three monitors.

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The main difference between the two is that the GX70 houses a 17.3-inch 1080p screen while the GX60 contains a 15.6-inch 1080p display. Both contain the same processor, both can be configured with up to 16 GB of RAM, and both have the same aforementioned GPUs standard. They both even have BluRay writers for optical media (seemingly standard at that). They also have keyboards designed by SteelSeries and Ethernet ports designed by Qualcomm (Killer / BigFoot).

System Specifications
Model GX70 Destroyer GX60 Destroyer
Operating System Windows 8.1
CPU AMD A10-5750M 3.5GHz
Memory Up to 16GB DDR3-1600 (2 DIMMS)
Graphics AMD R9-M290X 2GB + HD8650G
Display 17.3-inch 1080p LED 15.6-inch 1080p LED
Video Out 1x mini Display-Port, 1x HDMI 1.4b, 1x VGA
I/O
  • 3x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • 802.11 B/G/N, Bluetooth 4.0, Killer LAN
  • SDXC Card Reader
Battery 9-Cell (7800mAH)

Still no word on pricing or availability.

Source: MSI
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Lenovo introduces a unique form factor

Lenovo isn't a company that seems interested in slowing down.  Just when you think the world of notebooks is getting boring, it releases products like the ThinkPad Tablet 2 and the Yoga 2 Pro.  Today we are looking at another innovative product from Lenovo, the Yoga Tablet 8 and Yoga Tablet 10.  While the tablets share the Yoga branding seen in recent convertible notebooks these are NOT Windows-based PCs - something that I fear some consumers might get confused by.  

Instead this tablet pair is based on Android (4.2.2 at this point) which brings with it several advantages.  First, the battery life is impressive, particularly with the 8-in version that clocked in more than 17 hours in our web browsing test!  Second, the form factor of these units is truly unique and not only allows for larger batteries but also a more comfortable in-the-hand feeling than I have had with any other tablet.  

Check out the video overview below!  

You can pick up the 8-in version of the Lenovo Yoga Tablet for just $199 while the 10.1-in model starts at $274.

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The Lenovo Yoga Tablet is available in both 8-in and 10.1-in sizes though the hardware is mostly identical between both units include screen resolution (1280x800) and SoC hardware (MediaTek quad-core Cortex-A7).  The larger model does get an 8000 mAh battery (over the 6000 mAh on the 8-in) but isn't enough to counter balance the power draw of the larger screen.

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The 1280x800 resolution is a bit lower than I would like but is perfectly acceptable on the 8-in version of the Yoga Tablet.  On the 10-in model though the pixels are just too big and image quality suffers.  These are currently running Android 4.2.2 which is fine, but hopefully we'll see some updates from Lenovo to more current Android versions.

Continue reading about the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 and Yoga Tablet 10 devices!!