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
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: HP

HP Mini 210 Review: Introduction


With all of the talk about tablets and smartphones it’s easy to forget just how popular netbooks are and remain. The days of absurd 800% market share growth numbers are over, but netbooks remain a part of the mobile computing market and are not likely to disappear any time soon.

That may mean the end of excitement over netbook, but it also means the opportunity for refinement. New, revolutionary products often have rough edges. Many older netbooks had poor keyboards and so-so build quality. My old Samsung N10, which was considered the cream of the crop in its day, looks cheap compared to today’s models – and I paid just over $400 for it.

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

Rumors point to Apple moving to ARM processors for future notebooks

Subject: Processors, Mobile | May 6, 2011 - 07:11 PM |
Tagged: project denver, nvidia, macbook, Intel, arm, apple

A very interesting story over at AppleInsider has put the rumor out there that Apple may choose to ditch the Intel/x86 architecture all together with some future upcoming notebooks.  Instead, Apple may choose to go the route of the ARM-based processor, likely similar to the A4 that Apple built for the iPhone and iPad.

What is holding back the move right now?  Well for one, the 64-bit versions of these processors aren't available yet and Apple's software infrastructure is definitely dependent on that.  By the end of 2012 or early in 2013 those ARM-based designs should be ready for the market and very little would stop Apple from making the move.  Again, this is if the rumors are correct.


Another obstacle is performance - even the best ARM CPUs on the market fall woefully behind the performance of Intel's current crop of Sandy Bridge processors or even their Core 2 Duo options.  

In addition to laptops, the report said that Apple would "presumably" be looking to move its desktop Macs to ARM architecture as well. It characterized the transition to Apple-made chips for its line of computers as a "done deal."

"Now you realize why Apple is desperately searching for fab capacity from Samsung, Global Foundries, and TSMC," the report said. "Intel doesn't know about this particular change of heart yet, which is why they are dropping all the hints about wanting Apple as a foundry customer. Once they realize Apple will be fabbing ARM chips at the expense of x86 parts, they may not be so eager to provide them wafers on advanced processes."

Even though Apple is already specing its own processors like the A4 there is the possibility that they could go with another ARM partner for higher performance designs.  NVIDIA's push into the ARM market with Project Denver could be a potential option as they are working very closely with ARM on those design and performance improvements.  Apple might just "borrow" those changes however at NVIDIA's expense and build its own option that would satisify its needs exactly without the dependence on third-parties.  


Migrating the notebook (and maybe desktop markets) to ARM processors would allow the company to unify their operating system across the classic "computer" designs and the newer computer models like iPads and iPhones.  The idea of all of our computers turning into oversized iPhones doesn't sound appealing to me (nor I imagine, many of you) but with some changes in the interface it could become a workable option for many consumers. 

With even Microsoft planning for an ARM-based version of Windows, it seems that x86 dominance in the processor market is being threatened without a doubt.  

Source: AppleInsider

Ultra-cheap PC for education: 25$ gets you a very smart USB stick.

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | May 5, 2011 - 10:37 PM |
Tagged: usb computer, Education

In case you did not get enough solder for one day: you are in luck! David Braben, previously known for his work developing such games as Rollercoaster Tycoon, Thrillville, and Kinectimals, created an extremely low cost PC for educational use. His goal is ultimately to have computers like the one he created be accessible such that there would be functionally zero barriers to entry for students to pursue studying computing. A charity was created, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, under these beliefs to distribute this device hopefully sometime within the next 12 months.

Am I the only one who finds it weird that an affordable PC uses HDMI?

Given our demographic it would be blasphemous to not relay the specifications of the PC he created. The PC itself is slightly larger than a USB key in size and runs Ubuntu as its operating system though other distributions are likely possible. The processor is an ARM11 clocked at 700 MHz supported by 128MB of RAM and a GPU which supports OpenGL ES2.0 outputting at least 1080p resolutions. For connectivity it has USB port to attach to a keyboard and an HDMI port to attach to a monitor or flat screen TV. Storage is handled for by an SD card and other accessories are mountable such as the demonstrated 12 MP camera. While not explicitly listed on their site it appears as if connectivity is achieved wired via Ethernet through USB.
While this is obviously a low powered device its cost is only around 25$ and should be powerful enough to handle website interaction, scripting, and other educational applications. This PC and others like it should hopefully ensure that everyone has access to the internet and all of its educational, professional, and employment benefits.
Source: Geek.com
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: HTC

Introduction, Design and Ergonomics


Watching today’s smartphone market brings back memories. Right now the transition from single-core to dual-core products is being made, as is a transition from older 3G networks to the latest 4G technology. I’m reminded of the excitement of the first dual-core x86 processors, as well as the rabid arguments surrounding them. 

Many dual-core phone are still “coming soon”, however, which means that single-core flagships like the HTC Thunderbolt are still able to impress. This 4.3” smartphone is everything you’d expect a premier high-end Android handset to be. As I’ll explain, that has its positive and negatives, but the specifications look great on paper.

Rumor: Amazon Tablet in 2011 looking more likely

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 4, 2011 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: tablet, kindle, amazon

Amazon certainly has a knack for causing a ruckus in just about any industry they step into. Their inception placed them in stiff competition with bookstores and mail-order catalogs; since then they have branched out even as far as rental computing and storage, content production and publishing, and consumer electronics.

A recently rumored OEM order to Quanta Computer, already an OEM partner of RIM and Sony, proposes that Amazon is looking to beef up their portfolio to include Tablet PCs.


Could Amazon be Kindling for a much bigger fire? 

According to DigiTimes’ accounts from an unnamed source the orders Amazon placed would be for touch screens. The source expects that units shipped would be around 700,000-800,000 units per month starting in the second half of the year. The total transaction is also expected to be worth $3.5 billion US for Quanta.
This rumor, if true, does not suggest which type of tablet Amazon would be up to. Currently Amazon is involved in the e-book market through their Kindle line which DigiTimes also suggests might receive a price cut to reposition itself in the market. Amazon is also currently invested in the Android platform through their Amazon Appstore for Android. They also developed an in-browser trial for Android Apps called Test Drive. This sequence of events tends to suggest that Amazon is gearing up for an Android-based tablet but does little more than just that: suggest.
Source: DigiTimes

New Gigabyte Business Notebook Is Feature Rich And Sleek

Subject: Mobile | May 3, 2011 - 02:09 AM |
Tagged: Road Warrior, laptop, gigabyte

Gigabyte recently announced in a press release a new ultra light notebook aimed at business users. More specifically, they unveiled the Gigabyte GS-AH6G3N, which is a laptop that purports to support the latest technology. According to the press release, the ultra light laptop brings to the table support for both Sandy Bridge processors and up to 8GB DDR3 RAM. A fingerprint reader and TPM module are also available for the security conscious. The 14" and less than 4.5 pound (2 kilogram) notebook is very sleek looking with sharp and clean lines detailing a dark black or silver body.

As a business notebook, it uses the Intel Mobile HM65 Express chip set, which means that you are looking at using the integrated processor graphics contained in the Core i 2xxx chips. To the road warriors' comfort, the integrated graphics should provide longer battery life while still running Windows 7’s Aero desktop smoothly. Another touted feature is the inclusion of USB 3.0 ports which will help in keeping large amounts of data backed up. An included HDMI port should help to sway business users who need to connect to projectors and large displays for their work in its favor (a VGA port is provided as well, for older projectors.)


 The full specifications that Gigabyte list are as follows:

CPU LGA 1155 socket, Intel® Core™ i7 / Core™ i5 / Core™ i3 processor
OS Microsoft Windows 7
Display 14" LED Backlit at 1366x768 pixels
RAM DDR3 (2 slots) up to 8GB
Chipset Intel Mobile HM65 Express
Graphics Intel HD 3000
Hard Drive Sata 2.5", 9.5mm drivers.  Up to 750GB
Optical Disk Drive  (Optional) 9.5mm Super Multi DVD-RW
 I/O  2xUSB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 1x HDMI, 1x VGA, RJ45, Mic-in, headphone-out, DC-in, docking connector, and 3-in-1 card reader (SD,MMC,Memory Stick)
 Audio  2x 1.5watt stereo speakers
 Communications  Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WIFI, Bluetooth v3.0 + EDR (Wifi/BT Combo)
 Webcam  1.3 megapixel camera + microphone
 Security  Kensington lock, Fingerprint reader, and optional G-sensor and TPM
 Battery  6-cell Li-Ion 2600mAh 60WHr (claimed 7 hours of battery life)
 Dimensions  338 (W) x 235 (D) x 26.0 (H) mm
 Weight  ~2kg (with DVD drive and 6 cell battery), ~4.49 lbs
 Color  Silver / Black


Unfortunately for business users in the United States, Gigabyte branded notebooks can be a bit difficult to purchase as they are generally sold overseas.  Once this laptop has been on the market for a few months, they do start to trickle over into the US markets.  For overseas readers of PC Per; however, the Gigabyte notebook may be something to consider as in the end it shapes up to be a powerful but small notebook that should work well for those that need to travel light and fast for their business.

Source: Gigabyte
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Design


The last three years have been great for ultraportables and netbooks. Laptops with displays below fourteen inches in size have exploded in popularity thanks not only to Intel's Atom, but also a wide selection of Intel ultra-low voltage products. Many of the laptops that we've reviewed over the past year, such as the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 and the Alienware M11x, would have been impossible prior to the release of those processors. 

Mainstream laptops have enjoyed less progress, however. The 15.6" laptop remains the most popular category with consumers, but while it has enjoyed a boost in performance with the release of the original Core i series processors, issues like battery life and graphics performance remained largely unaddressed. These mainstream laptops have continued to represent a major compromise, as they've been unable to provide great battery life but also (unless supplimented with a discrete GPU) lack the chops to play any but the most basic 3D games. 

According to Intel, these flaws could soon be addressed. Intel's Sandy Bridge mobile processors are nothing short of the savior of mainstream laptops. These processors not only offer the typical improvements in speed but also drastically improved integrated graphics and provide much better battery life. 



Or, at least, that's what Intel says. They've said such things in the past, however - Intel's IGPs have often promised more than they can deliver. But every piece of hardware deserves a fair shake, and now it's time for Intel's Sandy Bridge to step up to the plate, appearing today in the form of the ASUS K53E. Let's see what is under the hood.