AMD Launches New Z-Series APU for Tablets

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 8, 2012 - 09:43 PM |
Tagged: z-60 apu, tablets, radeon hd, APU, amd

AMD launched a new APU today meant for tablets and other mobile devices. The new Z-60 Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) is now the company’s lowest power APU processor. AMD is primarily pushing this chip as the best choice for tablets as thin as 10mm that are capable of running Windows 8.

HDTablet_770x206_Banner.png

The Z-60 APU supports AMD’s Start Now and AppZone technologies for fast boot and resume times and application repository respectively. AMD has stated that it identified a gap between low performance and high priced mobile devices, and believes the Z-60 APU fills that void. AMD Corporate Vice President of Ultra-Low Power Products Steve Belt further stated the following:

“Tablet users seeking an uncompromised experience for both creating and consuming content on the Microsoft Windows 8 platform now have a performance-driven, affordable option with the AMD Z-60 APU.”

Interestingly, AMD has managed to bring the TDP of the new Z-60 lower than the previous generation without sacrificing hardware or needing a new manufacturing process. While the Z-01 is part of the Brazos platform (codename Desna), the new Z-60 is codenamed Hondo and part of the Brazos-T platform, which involves several tweaks to the design to get more power efficiency.

The Z-60 has two Bobcat CPU cores clocked at 1GHz, 1MB L2 cache, and a Radeon HD 6250 GPU with 80 cores. This APU has a TDP of 4.5W, which is a noteable decrease from the Z-01's 5.9W TDP when you consider that this chip is going to be used in a battery powered, mobile device. In fact, with a Z-60 APU, AMD is claiming up to eight hours of batery life. Further, thanks to the integrated HD 6250 GPU, the Z-60 can support Direct X 11, OpenGL 4.1, and OpenCL 1.1 graphics technologies.

  CPU Cores CPU Clockspeed L2 Cache Radeon GPU GPU Cores TDP USB Support
Z-60 2 1 GHz 1 MB HD 6250 80 4.5W 3.0
Z-01 (previous generation) 2 1 GHz 1 MB HD 6250 80 5.9W 2.0

AMD has announced that the Z-60 APU is shipping now to its OEM customers. The company expects that consumers should see products using the new processor as soon as the end of this year.

Read more about the future direction of AMD at PC Perspective.

Source: AMD

Deals for October 8th - Roku 2 XD Media Player for $89

Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2012 - 04:07 PM |
Tagged: deals, deal of the day

Top Deal!!

Roku 2 XD Streaming Media Player for $89.97 with free shipping @ PC Richard (normally $99.99).

deals1008.jpg

Laptops

17.3" Toshiba Satellite L870D-BT2N22 AMD dual-core A6 Laptop for $449.99 with shipping based on location @ Toshiba Direct (normally $529 - use coupon code FALL870DA).

15.6" Dell Inspiron 15R Core i5 Ivy Bridge Laptop w/ 8GB RAM, 1TB Hard Drive for $549.99 with free shipping @ Dell (normally $799 - use $150 coupon code 52M3R113NS8KSB).

 

Desktops

Dell XPS 8500 Core i7 "Ivy Bridge" Quad-Core Desktop w/ 8GB RAM, 2TB HDD & 1GB Radeon HD 7570 graphics for $749 with free shipping @ Dell (normally $999 - use $100 coupon code V48PR?HP99J3D?).

 

Storage Products

512GB Crucial M4 SSD (CT512M4SSD2) for $329.99 with free shipping @ CompUSA (normally $400).

OCZ Agility 2 60GB SSD (OCZSSD2-2AGTE60G) for $29.99 with free shipping @NewEgg (normally $79.99 - use $25 mail-in rebate form).

OCZ Vertex 4 2.5" 256GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD (VTX4-25SAT3-256G) for $179.99 with free shipping @ NewEgg (normally $249.99).

240GB OCZ Agility 3 SSD (AGT3-25SAT3-240G) for $149.99 with shipping based on location @ CompUSA (normally $200 - use $20 mail-in rebate form).

2TB Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex USB 3.0 External Hard Drive (STAC2000106) for $104.99 with free shipping @ Dell (normally $120).

500GB Western Digital Passport USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive for $54.99 with free shipping @ CompUSA (normally $89.99 - use coupon code: RYF72559).

 

Monitors

27" I-Inc IL272DPB 1080p LED-backlit LCD Monitor for $199.99 with shipping based on location @ CompUSA (normally $299.99).

20" HP W2072a LED-backlit LCD Monitor for $89.99 with free shipping @ HP (normally $109.99 - use coupon code: SVP471394).

 

Entertainment

Cisco Linksys RE1000 Refurbished Wireless-N Wi-Fi Range Extender/Bridge for $34.19 with free shipping @ Cisco (normally $89.99 - use coupon code: HSDISH5).

60" LG 60PA5500 1080p Plasma HDTV for $899.99 with free shipping @ Dell (normally $1,100).

42" RCA 42PA30RQ Plasma 720p 600Hz HDTV for $300 with Free Shipping @ Best Buy (normally $410).

 

Portables

Cisco WVC210 Wireless-G Security IP Camera for $123.49 with free shipping (normally $299.99 - use coupon code: HSDISH5).

Source: LogicBuy
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

Thoughts about Interface Design in General

I have been in several situations where a variety of people claim the gamepad is superior for gaming because that is what it was designed for. No elaboration or further justification is given. The controller is designed for gaming and is therefore clearly better. End of – despite often being start to – discussion in their minds.

Really it is a compromise between the needs of popular games and the environment of a couch.

Interface design is complicated. When you design an interface you need to consider: the expected types of applications; the environment of the user; what you are permitted to use; what tolerances are allowed; what your audience is used to; and so on, so forth. There is a lot to consider when you design an application for a user and I could make an educated guess that it is at least as hard to design the input device itself.

The history of keyboard design is a great example of tradeoffs in input devices.

Sometimes it is better to be worse...

Dvorak.svg_.png

The first wave of keyboards were interfaces to the mechanical typewriter. These keyboards were laid out in alphabetical order because as long as each key is accessible and the user could find the letter they wanted – who cares, right? We already have an order for the alphabet that people understands so the users should not have too much difficulty in finding the letter they need.

Another constraint quickly game to light: typists were too fast and the machines jammed.

The engineers now needed to design an input method which could keep up with the typist. Correcting the machine itself was somewhat futile so the solution was to make the typist as slow as possible. The most common letters in the English language were spread all over the place and – while possibly by fluke – the left hand is favored, as in made do more work, over the often dominant right hand.

The problem required making the most aggravating keyboard layout engineers could imagine. QWERTY was born.

What has been designed to threaten QWERTY? Read on to find out.

Adafruit Releases Alpha of Raspberry Pi WebIDE To Progam Raspberry Pi From Within Browser

Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2012 - 05:16 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, programming, IDE, adafruit

The popular, if elusive, Raspberry Pi had the original intent to be a cheap computer capable of introducing kids to programming. In furthering that goal, Adafruit has been working on a programming IDE (Integrated Development Environment) with a simple interface designed to be accessible to beginners. The so-called "WebIDE" is installed on the Raspberry Pi and then can be run on any other networked computers from within a web browser. It syncs your programming code with Github competitor Bitbucket as well.

WebIDE_Big_Logo.jpg

The Raspberry Pi WebIDE is currently in alpha and can now be downloaded by the public for those Raspberry Pi users adventurous enough to test it out. Adafruit has put together an installation guide as well as made an install script available to simplify installation. The WbIDE acts like any other programming environment in that you can add and edit files as well as test code on the Raspberry Pi hardware. Hitting "Run" on a program will open up a terminal on the Pi and execute your program, allowing you to develop your code on the hardware it will be used on. Further, it has an automatic update feature for the IDE software itself.

WebIDE_Alpha.jpg

Because of its in-development alpha status, the current release is likely to be somewhat buggy and rough around the edges. Adafruit recommends that only experienced users install it at this time. While there is no ETA on a final release, Adafruit has stated that "it is certainly our intention to get this solid and ready for all users, and we will let everyone know when we think it is at that point."

This definitely seems like a useful piece of software if you picked up a Raspberry Pi to learn programming. You can find the full Raspberry Pi WebIDE guide in PDF form on the Adafruit website.

Source: Adafruit

Acer Iconia W700 Detailed With Pricing - Available October 26

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 5, 2012 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, w700, tablet, ssd, Ivy Bridge, Intel, acer

First announced at Computex 2012, Acer is finally ready to share all the details (including pricing) on its upcoming Iconia W700 Windows 8 tablet.

For the uninitiated, the W700 is the top-end tablet in its Iconia W series. It will be based on an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i3 or Core i5 processor, 64GB or 128GB SSD, HD4000 graphics (intel processor graphics) and a battery that allegedly provides up to 8 hours of usage. That hardware is powering a 11.6” IPS display with 10-point multitouch and a resolution of 1920x1080. It further features a rear 5MP camera with autofocus and 1080p video recording and a front-facing webcam capable of recording 720p video.

ICONIA-W700_03.jpg

The tablet also includes 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi as well as various sensors for map applications including a(n oddly named) “G-sensor,” accelerometer, and an E-compass. [No mention of a GPS chip though, so it’s unclear how useful the other map technology will be…]

External I/O includes three USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt port, micro HDMI port, headphone output jack, and DC power jack.

Because of the Ivy Bridge CPU, the tablet has ventilation slots along the top edge of the tablet. It is less than half an inch thick and weighs in at 2.3 pounds.

Also relevant is that the Acer Iconia W700 will have an accessory dock that will hold the tablet in portrait mode at 70 ° for reading or 20 ° for an angled touchscreen. The dock can also hold the W700 tablet in portrait mode for reading ebooks and the like. A Bluetooth keyboard and micro-HDMI to VGA adapter are also available as bundled accessories.

Engadget takes a tour of the Acer ICONIA W700 Windows 8 tablet.

As far as new information goes, the W700 will be available on October 26 (Windows 8’s release day). There will be several SKUs with different levels of hardware (ie. Core i3 vs Core i5). MSRPs of the W700 tablet will range from $799.99 to $999.99 depending on the particular hardware configuration. Further, if you are an Acer corporate customer, you will be able to get the W700 tablet with an extended two year warranty and Windows 8 Pro for $1,049.99. You can find read the full press release on the Acer website.

The prices do seem to be on the high end for a Windows 8 tablet, but ASUS’ leaked Windows 8 tablet prices are not far off.

Source: Acer

New Specifications Leak For GTX 650 Ti, Launch Likely Imminent

Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2012 - 10:08 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, gtx 650ti, gpu, geforce

Earlier this year, specifications for an as-yet-unreleased GTX 650 Ti graphics card from NVIDIA leaked. At the time, the rumors indicated that the GTX 650 Ti would have hardware closer to the GTX 650 than the GTX 660 but still be based on the GK106 Kepler chip. It would have a 128-bit memory interface, 48 testure units, and 576 CUDA cores in 1.5 GPCs (3 SMX units). And to top it off, it had a rumored price of around $170! Not exactly a bargain.

Welll, as the launch gets closer more details are being leaked, and this time around the rumored information is indicating that the GTX 650 Ti will be closer in performance to the GTX 660 and cost around $140-$150. That certainly sounds better!

inno3d GTX 650Ti.jpg

The new rumors are indicating that the reference GTX 650 Ti will have 768 CUDA cores, and 64 texture units, which means it has the full two GPCs (so it is only missing the one-half of a GPC that you get with GTX 660). and four SMX units. As a point of reference, the GTX 660 – which NVIDIA swears is the full GK106 chip – has five SMX units in 2 and a half GPCs.

The following image shows the layout of the GTX 660. The GTX 650 Ti will have the GPC on the far right disabled. Previous rumors suggested that the entire middle GPC would be turned off, so the new rumors are definitely looking more promising in terms of potential performance.

GeForce_GTX_660_Block_Diagram_FINAL.png

Specifically marked GK106-220 on the die, the GTX 650 Ti is based the same GK106 Kepler chip as the GTX 660, but with some features disabled. The GPU is reportedly clocked at 925MHz, and it does not support NVIDIA's GPU Boost technology.

GTX 650Ti.jpg

Memory performance will take a large hit compared to the full GK106 chip. The GTX 650 Ti will feature 1GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 1350MHz on a 128-bit memory interface. That amounts to approximately 86.4 GB/s bandwidth, which is slightly over half of the GTX 660's 144.2 GB/s bandwidth. Also, it's just barely over the 80 GB/s bandwidth of the GTX 650 (which makes sense, considering they are both using 128-bit interfaces).

new GeForce GTX 650 Ti Specifications Leak.png

The latest rumors indicate the GTX 650 Ti will be priced at around $140 with custom cards such as recently leaked Galaxy GTX 650 Ti GC on Newegg costing more ($149). These new leaked specifications have more weight than the previous rumors since they have come from multiple leaks from multiple places, so I am hoping that these new rumors are the real deal. If so, the GTX 650 Ti becomes a much better value that it was rumored to be before!

Galaxy GTX 650Ti.jpg

You can find more photos of a leaked GTX 650 Ti over at Chiphell.

Source: Chip Hell

Qualcomm Joins HSA Foundation to Further Heterogeneous Computing Standards

Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2012 - 05:28 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, hsa, APU, amd, AFDS

The HSA Foundation announced today that Qualcomm would be joining as its newest Founder-level member. The mobile ARM System on a Chip company joins AMD, ARM, Imagination Technologies (the company who licenses out PowerVR graphics), MediaTek, Samsung, and Texas Instruments. Reportedly, the HSA Foundation has doubled its total members since its inception in June where it was announced at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit (AFDS 2012).

500px-QualcommLogo.png

Senior Vice President of Engineering at Qualcomm Jim Thompson has stated that the company is joining the HSA Foundation in an effort to standardize aspects of heterogenous computing. Those programming and hardware standards will then be incorporated into devices running future Snapdragon ARM processors.

HSA Foundation President Phil Rogers welcomed the mobile communications giant to the organization by stating the following.

“It’s great to see an innovative company like Qualcomm, which has revolutionized the wireless communications market, placing their support behind HSA.”

It is unclear from the press release where Qualcomm and the HSA Foundation will go from here, but it is promising to see additional companies lending their expertise to further heterogeneous computing standards. Here's hoping that the HSA Foundation is the opposite of the PC Gaming Alliance and actually gets things done to further the technology. After all, AMD is betting the company on APUs and could likely benefit from a big HSA programming standard push and the low power computing prowess of the ARM chip designers in its ranks.

Podcast #221 - Intel Clover Trail, AMD's Trinity Desktop APUs, the Samsung 840 SSD with TLC, and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2012 - 02:56 PM |
Tagged: trinity, TLD, ssd, Samsung, podcast, nand, clover trail, APU, a8, A10-5800k, a10, 830

PC Perspective Podcast #221 - 10/04/2012

Join us this week as we talk about Intel Clover Trail, AMD's Trinity Desktop APUs, the Samsung 840 SSD with TLC, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom Allyn Malvantano, and Scott Michaud

Program length: 1:21:21

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:02:23 Intel Clover Trail Details
    2. 0:16:05 Why Scott still uses Windows
      1. Mike Capps on Games for Windows Live
    3. 0:25:30 Borderlands 2 PhysX Testing
    4. 0:32:30 AMD Trinity A10-5800K APU Review
    5. 0:39:50 Samsung 840 Series 250GB SSD Full Review
  2. 0:49:00 This podcast is brought to you by alxTech
  3. News items of interest:
    1. 0:52:00 4TB Western Digital Hard Drives
    2. 0:53:45 Apple A6 uses hand drawn ARM cores
    3. 0:57:00 Steam for Linux beta in October
    4. 0:58:45 AMD Vishera Info Leaks
    5. 1:00:20 ASUS Shows silent Trinity APU builds
    6. 1:01:30 Why you care that AMD can't keep up
    7. 1:04:45 Kickstart TINY PCs
  4. Closing:
    1. 1:06:20 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Ryan: Corsair Dominator Platinum Memory
      2. Jeremy: More gaming
      3. Josh: A fun, new combo!
      4. Allyn: Samsung SSD 840 - TLC, baby!
      5. Scott: Corsair HX 850W Power Supply
      6. Tim: Black Mesa: Source!
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  4. Closing/outro

Microsoft desires it's name on hardware so much it is willing to compete with its self

Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2012 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, win8, surface, google, Android, nexus 7, Samsung, Pegatron

Two companies which for the most part sold software only are making a name for themselves in the hardware sector, in two very different ways.  Google's Android has become quite a player and the upcoming release of the Nexus 7 platform is anticipated by many mobile players because Google has no intentions of making its own phones.  Instead they will make their money licensing the platform to a variety of established cellphone and tablet manufacturers, as they have in the past.  According to what DigiTimes has heard, Microsoft is going in the exact opposite direction with Surface and will be continuing with the same plan as their tablet, which has already caused negative backlash from many of the major player in the market such as Acer.  Designers of Microsoft Win8 based phones are required to use the same platform and interface in order to meet the requirements of Microsoft's licensing agreement which will make phones difficult to differentiate as competitors are very limited in the customization they can offer, at least on the software side.  To make the market even more confusing, Microsoft is reaching out to Pegatron to manufacture their own branded Surface phone, which will find its self in direct competition with the phones from established players, the ones Microsoft is count on to license the portable version of Win8.  It would be hard to come up with another way that Microsoft could make licensing their new OS even less attractive for OEMs and ODMs.

surface.jpg

"Google and Microsoft both reportedly plan to extend the Nexus 7 and Surface tablet lineups to include smartphones as a means to further increase the penetration of their own platforms, but the two companies will implement the strategies in a different tune, according to industry sources.

Google aims to launch smartphones based on its Nexus 7 platform in cooperation with a number of smartphone branded vendors with Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Sony Mobile Communications and HTC likely to be potential partners, said the sources.

On the other hand, Microsoft is reportedly tapping ODM maker Pegatron for the production of WP8-based smartphones slated for launch in the first half of 2013, the sources indicated."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Lenovo Opening Production Line In US, Creating 115 New Jobs in North Carolina

Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2012 - 11:06 PM |
Tagged: Thinkpad, production, OEM, Lenovo

In an interesting move, PC OEM Lenovo has announced that it will be moving a small portion of its production lines to the United States. The company will be opening the production line in its recently expanded 240,000 sq. ft. US distribution center to add capacity for a production line that will produce Think-branded computers. That includes Thinkpad notebooks, tablets, desktops, workstations, and servers. Lenovo CEO and Chairman Yuanqing Yang stated the following in the company’s press release.

“Lenovo is establishing a U.S. manufacturing base because we believe in the long-term strength of the American PC market and our own growth opportunities here.”

Lenovo believes that the new facility would create 115 new jobs. It has further stated that the move to US production of its OEM machines will enable the company to provide faster delivery to US-based companies and educational institutions. That might give Lenovo a small advantage when bidding against other companies for large contracted orders.

 

lenovo-logo.gif

The result of a $2 million investment, the new production line is expected to open in early 2013. It will be located in Whitsett, North Carolina. Reportedly, hiring for the 115 new positions will begin later this year.

More information can be found on the company's website.

Personally, I think it’s a great thing to see manufacturing come to the US, even if it is not a huge number of new jobs – it’s a good start and if Lenovo sees potential it may move more of its production capacity over here.

Source: Lenovo