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.

18-Mmm-amazon.png

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 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.

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The Medfield powered Android smart phone.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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"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."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Gaming

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Design

gt680r7.jpg

High-end gaming laptops represent the most powerful of a breed, and are built using all the creativity and ingenuity that laptop manufacturers have at their disposal. Somewhere along the path towards performance, practicality begins to fall to the wayside – but that’s okay, because it was never really the point. 

The MSI GT680R is one of the goliaths of gaming laptops. Although there are larger gaming laptops than this 15.6” model, it remains a very big boy that’s not built with frequent or long-distance travel in mind. Of course, this substantial girth has made it possible for MSI to cram a slew of cutting-edge hardware inside.

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. 

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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