AMD Introduces Second Generation A-Series APUs for Laptops (Review added)

Submitted by lalit on May 15, 2012 - 3:06pm.

AMD today announced its 2nd generation AMD A-Series Accelerated Processing Units (APU) for mainstream and ultrathin notebooks. The new APUs, codenamed “Trinity” have an improved design over previous generation and offer following new features:

  • Double the performance per watt of the previous generation;
  • The AMD HD Media Accelerator with a unique set of technologies designed to optimize video quality available with premium and Internet video content, and accelerate video file conversion;
  • An increase in CPU performance of up to 29 percent with higher processor speeds thanks to the next-generation AMD “Piledriver” CPU core with 3rd-Generation AMD Turbo Core technology, where power is dynamically shifted between the CPU and GPU depending on application needs, effectively providing a more responsive experience that can boost CPU frequencies to up to 3.2 GHz;
  • AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series graphics for an increase of graphics performance up to 56% over the previous generation. Combined, the CPU and GPU cores deliver more than 700 gigaflops of computing performance – several times more than the fastest x86 CPUs – to boost performance of hundreds of applications;
  • Up to 12 hours of battery life through CPU and GPU power enhancements, with clear battery life leadership in notebook form factors.

AMD has launched the new A-Series with three APUs for mainstream laptops and two APUs for ultrathin laptops. On the mainstream side, following APUs are available:

  • A10-4600M: Featuring quad core CPU running at 2.3GHz and HD 7660G Radeon graphics with 384 cores running at 497MHz. The APU has 4MB L2 cache, 35W TDP and support for DDR3 1600/1333 memory.
  • A8-4500M: Featuring quad core CPU running at 1.9GHz and HD 7640G Radeon graphics with 256 cores running at 497MHz. The APU also has 4MB L2 cache, 35W TDP and support for DDR3 1600/1333 memory.
  • A6-4400M: Featuring quad core CPU running at 2.7GHz and HD 7520G Radeon Graphics with 192 cores running at 497MHz. Even though this APU has higher clock speed it has lower GPU horsepower and just 1MB L2 cache. Other specifications are same as other two APUs.

On the Ultrathin side, AMD has the following two APUs:

  • A10-4655M: Featuring quad core CPU running at 2.0GHz and HD 7620G Radeon graphics with 384 cores running at 360MHz. The APU has 25W TDP, 4MB L2 cache and supports DDR3 1333/1066 memory.
  • A6-4455M: Featuring dual core CPU running at 2.1GHZ and HD 7500G Radeon graphics with 256 cores running at 327MHz. The APU has 17W TDP, 2MB L2 cache and support DDR3 133/1066 memory.

Laptop based on new A-Series APUs from Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba are available beginning today with starting price as low as $649.

AnandTech, HotHardware, Hexus and PC Perspetive have posted reviews of the new A-Series APUs. And the reviews are very positive specially when is comes to integrated GPU performance. However, AMD still lags behind Intel when it comes to CPU performance. In fact, some reviewers have written that AMD’s new A-Series is still behind Intel’s last generation Sandy Bridge processors. Jarred Walton wrote on AnandTech:

Intel continues to offer better CPU performance, and if you need graphics—which mostly means you want to play games—they have a good partner with NVIDIA. AMD on the other hand is delivering better integrated graphics performance with less CPU power, and depending on what you want to do that might be a more well rounded approach to mobile computing.

Overall, AMD’s new A-Series Trinity APUs are a step in right direction and depending on your requirements can be a good option. Especially, if the prices of upcoming laptops based new APUs are right (rumors are prices will start as low as $649).



Apple to Use Thin-Film Touch Technology in 7.85-inch iPad, and Has Booked Half of Mobile DRAM Capacity at Elpida

Submitted by lalit on May 15, 2012 - 6:09am.

DigiTimes today published two Apple related rumors, both hinting at upcoming iOS devices. In the first rumors DigiTimes claimed that they have heard from reliable industry sources that Apple will use “G/F2” thin-film capacitive touch technology in upcoming 7.85-inch iPad. Siu Han posted:

The smaller version of Apple's new iPad, rumored to be called iPad Mini, is said to feature the G/F2 technology, with Nitto supplying the key thin-film materials, and Nissha Printing and TPK producing the touch screens, the sources said. Wintek, another touch module supplier for Apple, does not have thin-film touch capacity, the sources added.

Using the G/F2 design will help reduce costs and will also make the iPad Mini thinner than previous iPad models since it will have one less layer of film than the G/F/F (glass/film/film) structure, according to sources. The G/F2 structure places the electrode on the top and bottom ends of the ITO film, which will then be laminated onto the cover glass.

The second rumor talked about Apple booking about 50% capacity at Elpida’s 12-inch fab in Hiroshima, Japan for production of mobile DRAM. Josephine Lien posted on DigiTimes:

Apple has recently placed huge orders for mobile DRAM memory with Elpida Memory's 12-inch plant in Hiroshima (Japan), securing about 50% of the total chips produced at the facility, according to industry sources.

Apple reportedly will source mobile DRAM chips from Elpida for its upcoming iPad and iPhone series, despite the fact that the Japan chipmaker filed for bankruptcy earlier this year and has been in talks to sell its business, the sources observed.

This would indicate that not only Apple is expecting a big jump in DRAM memory use, but they are also expecting it soon. Rumors are that Apple will launch the next generation iPhone and 7.85-inch iPad before the end of Q3 2012. And they expect both these products to be big sellers.


Intel Begins Research on 7nm and 5nm Process Technologies for Microprocessors

Submitted by lalit on May 14, 2012 - 8:01pm.

Just few weeks back Intel started shipping Ivy Bridge processors based on 22nm process technology and Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini is already talking about 7nm and 5nm process technologies that are at least 3-5 generations away. In a presentation Otellini revealed that Intel has begun research on 7nm and 5nm manufacturing technology for processor. He said, “Our research and development is quite deep, I talk about ten years”.

Intel is looking into process lithography, materials for manufacturing and Interconnect technologies for 7nm and 5nm processors, as at such small size most of the current technologies won’t work without modifications or completely new materials.

Intel has already equipped D1X Oregon Fab, Fab 42 Arizona and Fab 24 Ireland for 14nm fabrication processes, which Intel will start in 2013. The company will follow 14nm processors with 10nm process technology in 2015. If Intel follows this time frame we should see 7nm processors in 2017-18 and 5nm processors in 2019-20. [Via Xbit Laboratories]


Leaked Benchmarks and Best Buy Price Drops Hint at Upcoming Mac Updates

Submitted by lalit on May 14, 2012 - 5:32am.

Just few weeks before a new Mac is launched two things happen – one, benchmarking results are posted on Geekbench and two, Apple’s retailing partners drop prices of current models. And in past 24 hours these two things have happened for multiple Mac models including the much rumored upcoming MacBook Pro and Ivy Bride iMac.

Lets start with Geekbench results, MacRumors has posted benchmark results that appeared in Geekbench’s database in past few days. The first result shows a new MacBook Pro with model number MacBookPro9,1 (current model numbers are MacBookPro8,1, 8,2 and 8,3). According to Geekbench result table, the new laptop has quad core 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-3820QM processor, 8GB RAM and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion). However, the best thing is that the CPU and memory performance of the new laptop is about 15% faster than current MacBook Pro model, scoring 12,252 compared to 10,500 scored by current top of the line Pro.

The second Geekbench result shows a new iMac model with model number iMac13,2 (current iMac has model number iMac12,x). It also features the new Ivy Bridge processor from Intel and Mac OS X 10.8. However, the Geekbench results of this new iMac only show moderate improvement over previous iMac model. The new iMac scored 12,183 compared to 11,500 scored by old model. Looking at the result table we believe that 4GB memory on the iMac is responsible for lower performance. Our guess is that this test iMac is only running on a single 4GB memory DIMM and hence memory system on the iMac is working as single channel rather than as dual channel decreasing the performance.

These two benchmarking results hint that Apple is almost ready to ship the new MacBook Pro and iMac. Normally we see an update within 4 weeks of such leak. Also adding weight to the Mac update rumors are the recent price drops on various Mac systems at Best Buy. The retailer has dropped prices of Mac mini by up to $50, MacBook Air prices by up to $100, MacBook Pro prices by up to $150, iMac prices by up to $125 and Mac Pro prices by up to $300.

This would indicate that not just MacBook Pro and iMac, but the complete Mac lineup is about to get an update in next few months. We believe MacBook Pro and iMac will be first in the line followed by other Macs.


Intel Based Windows 8 Tablets Coming in November

Submitted by lalit on May 13, 2012 - 9:00pm.

CNET is reporting that Windows 8 tablets based on Intel processors will be coming to the market in November. It has been rumored that ARM based Windows 8 tablets will ship when Microsoft launches Windows 8 in early Q4 2012 (mostly end of September or early October), which would indicate that Intel based tablets will be few weeks behind ARM tablets featuring the new shiny Windows 8. Brooke Crothers wrote:

The first wave of Intel-based Windows 8 tablets are expected to land in retail stores in November, a source familiar with device makers' plans told CNET.

"The schedule is tight," said the source. "Looking at what Windows is trying to achieve not only with a new OS, but a new OS that needs to run four to five architectures -- three ARM, Intel, and AMD," according to the source.

And don't expect just tablets. "More than 50 percent" of the "more than a dozen" designs will be hybrids, aka convertibles, the source said. Those designs combine aspects of a traditional physical keyboard-based laptop and tablet.

It will be interesting to see if Microsoft favors ARM over Intel for Windows 8 tablet launch. It will actually show where Microsoft is going for future of tablet.


Why Would Apple Buy Loewe…

Submitted by lalit on May 13, 2012 - 5:56pm.

Yesterday, AppleInsider reported that Apple was negotiating to acquire German HDTV maker Loewe for 87.3 million Euros (about $122 million). However, today Loewe’s spokesperson said that there was “absolutely nothing to it”. But there are still rumors that Apple offered a deal to Loewe and their board of directors is yet to decide. Many believe that Apple is interested in Loewe because of their minimalist designs and premium market appeal.

However, we don’t think Apple will buy anyone for design or market appeal. As far as design is concerned, Apple has always depended on their internal design team led by Jonathan Ive. And as for market appeal, there is no bigger brand than Apple today in the world. So, why would they need Loewe?

We believe that if Apple buys Loewe, it will be for intellectual property (IP) and nothing else. Yes, they might use the engineers from Loewe for making Apple’s upcoming HDTV, but that isn’t the main reason for Apple to buy Loewe.

Apple will be entering a very crowded TV market with many big name electronic companies wanting to keep them out, as Apple is known to drain away all the profits from the market they enter. For example, in 2011 Apple took away 80% profit of MP3 player market, over 75% profit of smartphone market and over 80% profit of tablet market. And companies like Samsung, Sony and LG will do anything to keep Apple away from already drying TV market. So, if Apple has some IP backing from an old company like Loewe it will be that much better/easier for them to enter the TV market.


E-Onkyo Brings First True High Definition Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Online Music Service

Submitted by lalit on May 12, 2012 - 9:44am.

Japanese online music store, e-onkyo has announced launch of their online music distribution service that will feature Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround sound tracks. The service will be launched on May 30, 2012, in Japan and in fall 2012 elsewhere in the world. The service will initially offer 100 album titles (about 1,000 tracks) in lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel surround sound.

Along with lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel surround sound, the music service will also provide consumers with high-quality audio at reduced sizes for faster download. The reduced file size tracks will have 24bit/96kHz audio and they will be around 200MB for five minute track, while the lossless track will have 24bit/192kHz audio with about 800MB file size. Both file sizes will be 5.1-channel Dolby TrueHD.

Shinsuke Yamashita, President and Representative Director, Onkyo Entertainment Technology Corporation, explained: "We are very happy that e-onkyo music will start distribution with Dolby TrueHD lossless audio, thanks to the cooperation of Dolby. The evolution of network audio and PC audio means that users can enjoy high-resolution sound with data volumes greater than those that are possible on a CD. And we are aiming to achieve even further growth in our music distribution business. Through the collaboration between our two companies, we intend to increase our breadth of content and improve the user's listening experience, in a way that only high-quality surround sound distribution can."

The e-onkyo music service featuring Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks will start on May 30, 2012 at 1 PM in Japan. On e-onkyo Dolby TrueHD 5.1 music service albums will start at ¥3,000 (about $35) and single will cost ¥400 (about $5). [Via Engadget]


iOS 6 to bring Apple’s Own Maps App with Incredible 3D Mode

Submitted by lalit on May 11, 2012 - 5:43pm.

Apple currently uses Google Maps data in iOS Maps app, but that it going to change with iOS 6, as Apple is going to bring the complete Maps applications in house. With both user interface and backend support by Apple alone. According to 9to5mac, not only will Apple replace the Google Maps data from the Maps app, but they will also add new features like 3D view, which isn’t present in current app. Mark Gurman wrote:

According to trusted sources, Apple has an incredible headline feature in development for iOS 6: a completely in-house maps application. Apple will drop the Google Maps program running on iOS since 2007 in favor for a new Maps app with an Apple backend. The application design is said to be fairly similar to the current Google Maps program on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, but it is described as a much cleaner, faster, and more reliable experience.

Signifying the application’s complete re-write is a new logo for iOS Maps: it is basically a redesigned version of the current iOS Maps icon with a view of Apple’s 1 Infinite Loop Campus, but redrawn with a new color scheme. Apple’s replacement for Google Street View will likely also be an in-house solution. C3 Technologies worked on street view capability as shown in the image above.

The most important aspect of the new Maps application is a powerful new 3D mode. The 3D mode does not come enabled by default, but users simply need to click a 3D button that is conveniently and visibly stored in the app. Perhaps under the fold like the current traffic, pin, and map view buttons. This 3D mode is said to essentially be technology straight from C3 Technologies: beautiful, realisitic graphics based on de-classified missile target algorithms.

Check out the video below in which 3D map mode is shown for Hoover Dam, it looks awesome. We have been hearing about Apple developing their own Maps app for quite sometime now so it’s no surprise that we will finally see it in iOS 6. However, based on what we have heard and today’s report from 9to5mac, we think that the Maps app on iOS 6 will be nothing like we have seen before and it will be simply amazing.


Foxconn Chief Says We Are Preparing for Apple iTV

Submitted by lalit on May 11, 2012 - 8:59am.

Terry Gou, Chief of Foxconn, Apple’s biggest manufacturing partner today revealed in a interview with China Daily newspaper that the company was in fact preparing for manufacturing of Apple’s much rumored iTV. China Daily posted the following about iTV:

Gou said Foxconn is making preparations for iTV, Apple Inc's rumored upcoming high-definition television, although development or manufacturing has yet to begin.

iTV reportedly features an aluminum construction, Siri, and FaceTime video calling.

Foxconn's recent 50-50 joint venture factory with Sharp in Japan is one of the preparations made for the new device, Gou added.

Terry Gou is Chairman of Hon Hai Precision (Foxconn), he isn’t some low level employee at Foxconn factory. So, if he comes out and says that Foxconn is preparing for iTV then we have no doubt that they are, but as you can see from his statement development or manufacturing hasn’t yet started on Foxconn’s side, which would indicate that Apple iTV shipment is still at least 4-6 months away.


Apple 7-inch iPad Coming in October with Retina Display and $200 to $250 Price Point

Submitted by lalit on May 10, 2012 - 1:55pm.

Apple rumor website iMore is reporting that Apple will launch the much rumored iPad mini in October along with the new iPhone. Some of the details that iMore posted about the upcoming iPad mini are very interesting, Rene Ritchie wrote:

Apple will be going forward with the 7-inch iPad, currently targeting an October 2012 release alongside the new iPhone, and -- here's the killer -- at a $200 to $250 price point. According to our source, which has proven reliable in the past, the reason for such aggressive pricing is to do to the tablet market what Apple did to the MP3 market in 2004 with the expansion of the iPod product line -- leave absolutely no space for competitors.

We haven't gotten a firm read on the exact screen dimensions, so we're using 7-inches generically here. Our source has indicated, however, that the 7-inch iPad will be identical in every way to the current 9.7-inch iPad, just scaled down. That seems to include a 2048x1536 resolution display, just like the new iPad. If accurate, that would put the pixel density at around 326 ppi, identical to the iPhone 4S (and higher than the 264 ppi new iPad) retina display. It's hard to imagine a device with a panel like that having a price tag of just $200, especially when the baseline new iPad comes in at $500, but one way Apple will be keeping costs lower is by providing less storage capacity. $200 will get you 8GB. That's identical to the current entry-level iPod touch, which also starts at $200. (And no, Apple won't be replacing the iPod touch with the 7-inch iPad, both devices will remain in the product lineup -- though it'll be interesting to see what happens with iPod touch pricing and storage capacity.)

From what we have heard via our sources Apple isn’t going to use a Retina display on the iPad mini. The cost of production of 7-inch Retina display alone will be more than 1/3 the price of iPad mini. Also price difference between 8GB memory module and 16GB module is less than $5, which won’t make up for higher cost of Retina display (about $60-$70). So we believe that the assumption about Apple keeping the cost lower by using less storage is baseless.