Intel Debuts A Slew Of Core M Chips

September 18, 2014 by admin  
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Intel’s new Core M chips — which bring PC-like performance to slim design tablets — will initially be in many Windows 8.1 tablets, but no Android devices are yet on the radar.

The chips will be in five to seven detachable tablets and hybrids by year end, and the number of devices could balloon to 20 next year, said Andy Cummins, mobile platform marketing manager at Intel.

Core M chips, announced at the IFA trade show in Berlin on Friday, are the first based on the new Broadwell architecture. The processors will pave the way for a new class of thin, large-screen tablets with long battery life, and also crank up performance to run full PC applications, Intel executives said in interviews.

“It’s about getting PC-type performance in this small design,” Cummins said. “[Core M] is much more optimized for thin, fanless systems.”

Tablets with Core M could be priced as low as US$699, but the initial batch of detachable tablets introduced at IFA are priced much higher. Lenovo’s 11.6-inch ThinkPad Helix 2 starts at $999, Dell’s 13.3-inch Latitude 13 7000 starts at $1,199, and Hewlett-Packard’s 13.3-inch Envy X2 starts at $1,049.99. The products are expected to ship in September or October.

Core M was also shown in paper-thin prototype tablets running Windows and Android at the Computex trade show in June. PC makers have not expressed interest in building Android tablets with Core M, but the OS can be adapted for the chips, Cummins said.

The dual-core chips draw as little as 4.5 watts, making it the lowest-power Core processor ever made by Intel. The clock speeds start at 800MHz when running in tablet mode, and scales up to 2.6GHz when running PC applications.

The power and performance characteristics make Core M relevant primarily for tablets. The chips are not designed for use in full-fledged PCs, Cummins said.

“If you are interested in the highest-performing parts, Core M probably isn’t the exact right choice. But if you are interested in that mix of tablet form factor, detachable/superthin form factor, this is where the Core M comes into play,” Cummins said.

For full-fledged laptops, users could opt for the upcoming fifth-generation Core processor, also based on Broadwell, Cummins said. Those chips are faster and will draw 15 watts of power or more, and be in laptops and desktops early next year.

New features in Core M curbed power consumption, and Intel is claiming performance gains compared to chips based on the older Haswell architecture. Tablets could offer around two more hours of battery life with Core M.

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FreeSync Only For New AMD Chips

September 16, 2014 by admin  
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AMD has explained that its new FreeSync technology will only work in new silicon.

FreeSync is AMD’s initiative to enable variable-refresh display technology for smoother in-game animation and was supposed to give Nvidia’s G-Sync technology a good kicking.

G-Sync has already resulted in some top production gaming monitors like the Asus ROG Swift PG278Q.

However AMD said that the only the newest GPU silicon from AMD will support FreeSync displays. Specifically, the Hawaii GPU that drives the Radeon R9 290 and 290X will be compatible with FreeSync monitors, as will the Tonga GPU in the Radeon R9 285.

The Bonaire chip that powers the Radeon R7 260X and HD 7790 cards could support FreeSync, but that is not certain yet.

Now that would be OK if the current Radeon lineup is populated by a mix of newer and older GPU technology. What AMD is saying is that there are some brand-new graphics cards selling today that will not support FreeSync monitors when they arrive.

The list of products that won’t work with FreeSync includes anything based on the older revision of the GCN architecture used in chips like Tahiti and Pitcairn.

So if you have splashed out on the the Radeon R9 280, 280X, 270, and 270X hoping that it will be FreeSync-capable you will be out of luck. Nor will any older Radeons in the HD 7000 and 8000 series.

Nvidia’s G-Sync works with GeForce graphics cards based on the Kepler architecture, which include a broad swath of current and past products dating back to the GeForce GTX 600 series.

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Can A Linux Cert Payoff?

September 5, 2014 by admin  
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The Linux Foundation has announced an online certification programme for entry-level system admininstration and advanced Linux software engineering professionals to help expand the global pool of Linux sysadmin and developer talent.

The foundation indicated that it established the certification programme because there’s increasing demand for staff in the IT industry, saying, “Demand for experienced Linux professionals continues to grow, with this year’s Linux Jobs Report showing that managers are prioritizing Linux hires and paying more for this talent.

“Because Linux runs today’s global technology infrastructure, companies around the world are looking for more Linux professionals, yet most hiring managers say that finding Linux talent is difficult.”

Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin said, “Our mission is to address the demand for Linux that the industry is currently experiencing. We are making our training [programme] and Linux certification more accessible to users worldwide, since talent isn’t confined to one geography or one distribution.

“Our new Certification [Programme] will enable employers to easily identify Linux talent when hiring and uncover the best of the best. We think Linux professionals worldwide will want to proudly showcase their skills through these certifications and that these certificates will become a hallmark of quality throughout our industry.”

In an innovative departure from other Linux certification testing offered by a number of Linux distribution vendors and training firms, the foundation said, “The new Certification [Programme] exams and designations for Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) and Linux Foundation Certified Engineer (LFCE) will demonstrate that users are technically competent through a groundbreaking, performance-based exam that is available online, from anywhere and at any time.”

The exams are customised somewhat to accommodate technical differences that exist between three major Linux distributions that are characteristic of those usually encountered by Linux professionals working in the IT industry. Exam takers can choose between CentOS, openSUSE or Ubuntu, a derivative of Debian.

“The Linux Foundation’s certification [programme] will open new doors for Linux professionals who need a way to demonstrate their know-how and put them ahead of the rest,” said Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth.

Those who want to look into acquiring the LFCS and LFCE certifications can visit the The Linux Foundation website where it offers the exams, as well as training to prepare for them. The exams are priced at $300, but apparently they are on special introductory offer for $50.

The Linux Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux and collaborative development. It is supported by a diverse roster of almost all of the largest IT companies in the world except Microsoft.

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Unity Starts Pushing Open Source

September 4, 2014 by admin  
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Unity Technologies has stepped up its commitment to democratising game development by making key components of its ubiquitous engine open source.

At present, that applies to the Unity Test Tools and the engine’s new graphical user interface system, which was demonstrated in the opening keynote of Unite 2014. The features will be available under the MIT/X11 license, giving users the freedom to “control, customise and extend” their functionality.

The source code for the components will be hosted on BitBucket, and Unity has prepared a guide for any interested open source contributors. The source for the Unity Test Tools is already available, with the GUI to follow.

“Beyond that, we don’t have a concrete plan, but we have a lot of things in the pipeline,” the company said in a statement. “These components will all be isolated from Unity in such a way that you can modify them and use your own modified version with the official public Unity release.

“Although Unity Technologies has been active in the open-source community for quite some time, this is the first time we’ll be opening the source to components of Unity itself.

“We’re excited to see what you do with it.”

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Applied Materials Makes A Profit

August 27, 2014 by admin  
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Chip-equipment maker Applied Materials has surprised most of the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street with a better-than-expected third-quarter profit. It appears that contract manufacturers are spending more on technology used to make smartphone and memory chips.

The company also forecast current-quarter adjusted profit largely above analysts’ average estimate. Chief Executive Gary Dickerson said that demand for DRAM chips is expected to grow in the current quarter.

Applied Materials, which also provides equipment to make flat panel displays and solar cells, forecast an adjusted profit of 25-29 cents per share for the fourth quarter. Wall Street was expecting a profit of 26 cents per share.

Applied Materials expects revenue growth of about 10 to 17 percent, implying revenue of $2.19 billion to $2.33 billion for the quarter. Analysts on average were expecting $2.28 billion. Applied Materials’ net income rose to $301 millionin the third quarter ended July 27, from $168 milliona year earlier. Revenue rose 14.7 percent to $2.27 billion.

Revenue in the company’s silicon systems business, which brings in about two-thirds of total sales, rose 16 percent to $1.48 billion.

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OpenSuse Goes Rolling

August 15, 2014 by admin  
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OpenSuse, the free Linux distribution forked from Suse Linux Professional and the basis for Suse Linux Enterprise, is switching to a rolling release model.

The development change will see daily builds released to keep the distribution at the cutting edge of development.

Announced by the Opensuse Project on Wednesday, the rolling release model for the development version of Opensuse, which is called Factory, will shorten the stabilisation process for releases and eliminate the need for pre-release or “milestone” builds, the project said.

Opensuse board chairman Richard Brown said that the project team was hopeful that the move would lead to more users of the software and more contributors to the code, which would have a knock-on effect on quality.

“With a daily fresh Factory distribution making it easier for those who want to preview and test, we hope to see more users and contributors, leading to faster fixes and even higher quality. Factory is critical as it provides the base technology for Opensuse and Suse Linux Enterprise, which is used by tens of thousands of organisations around the world,” he said.

The new development model balances responsibility among packagers, testers and end users while putting more emphasis on automated quality assurance. As a result, Opensuse Factory is no longer just the development branch of Opensuse but becomes a reliable, always-ready working distribution, according to the project.

The move also means that Opensuse is following a similar development model to Fedora, the cutting-edge Linux distribution sponsored by Red Hat that Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is based upon.

More information on Opensuse Factory can be found on the project’s online portal. However, at the time of writing this was still showing a notice warning that the Factory repository is not guaranteed to be fully stable, and advising users to download the current release build.

An Opensuse spokesperson told stated that this is because the Factory build is primarily for developers and those keen to see the latest developments, and is not recommended for production environments.

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HP Increases SlateBook Pricing

August 13, 2014 by admin  
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Hewlett-Packard’s SlateBook 14 laptop with Google’s Android OS has started shipping on schedule, but it’s priced at $429, which is $30 more than the company had said it would cost.

The laptop, which has a 14-inch screen and Android 4.3, was announced in June. At the time, HP said it would be priced at $399.

It is available on HP’s website.

The SlateBook 14 was introduced after customers told HP they wanted laptops with Android. The laptop has an interface similar to that on Android tablets and can adjust mobile apps to run on the larger touchscreen. Users will also be able to sync laptop data with mobile devices and vice versa.

The laptop is also for those who rely on the Web for most of their computing, much like Chromebooks. It has a few advantages over Chromebooks, with support for key Android apps such as Skype. Android also boasts better wireless printing support than Chromebooks.

The laptop weighs 1.68 kilograms and offers nine hours of battery life, according to specifications on HP’s website.

It has a quad-core Tegra 4 processor, 2GB of DRAM and 16GB of storage. Connectivity features include 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. It also has a webcam, USB 3.0 port and a micro-SD slot for expandable storage.

It could be a strong multimedia laptop with a 1920 x 1080 pixel screen and an integrated graphics processor that can handle 4K video. TVs can be connected to the laptop through an HDMI port.

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Can Lenovo Succeed With Tablets?

July 31, 2014 by admin  
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Lenovo on Friday said it would continue selling sub-10-in. Windows tablets in the U.S., backing away from statements it made the day before, when it said it was pulling the ThinkPad 8 from the North American market and had discontinued offering a model of the Miix 2.

“We will continue to bring new Windows devices to market across different screen sizes, including a new 8-inch tablet and 10-inch tablet coming this holiday,” Lenovo said in a press release published on its website Friday.

“Our model mix changes as per customer demand, and although we are no longer selling ThinkPad 8 in the U.S., and we have sold out of Miix 8-inch, we are not getting out of the small-screen Windows tablet business as was reported by the media (emphasis in original),” the statement continued.

On Thursday, the IDG News Service — like Computerworld, owned and operated by IDG – reported the withdrawal of the ThinkPad 8 and the 8-in. Miix from the U.S. market. The ThinkPad 8 had debuted in January at prices starting at $449, and the similarly-sized Miix had launched in October 2013.

Lenovo told IDG News that it was diverting remaining stocks of the ThinkPad 8 to other countries, including Brazil, China, and Japan, where demand was stronger for smaller Windows 8.1-powered tablets.

The China-based company, which has made impressive gains in the global market — it was the world’s largest personal computer seller during the second quarter, ahead of Hewlett-Packard and Dell, according to IDC — did not say exactly when it would return with an 8-in. device. If it begins selling the unnamed device in October, typical of OEMs that seed the channel then for the holiday sales season, it will have been absent from the market for two or more months.

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eBay Expands Mobile Shopping

July 21, 2014 by admin  
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Braintree, the payments gateway owned by eBay Inc, is working on removing a hurdle for e-commerce companies by making it easier for customers to directly pay for products on their smart phones.

The company rolled out a set of tools for software developers on Wednesday that allows businesses to deduct payments directly from a customer’s PayPal account.

The developer kit is the first big push from Braintree since it was bought by eBay for $800 million last year to help PayPal, eBay’s payments division, expand its presence on mobile devices.

Eliminating the need for mobile shoppers to type in their credit card details on their phones should help boost sales, Braintree Chief Executive Bill Ready said in an interview.

This is especially critical as consumers spend more time on their smartphones, a trend that is forcing developers to design a “fundamentally different computing experience” for the smaller screen, Ready added.

Braintree processes payments for businesses including car service Uber and online home-rental marketplace Airbnb.

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ARM Launches Juno

July 18, 2014 by admin  
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ARM has announced two programs to assist Android’s ascent into the 64-bit architecture market.

The first of those is Linaro, a port of the Android Open Source Project to the 64-bit ARMv8-A architecture. ARM said the port was done on a development board codenamed “Juno”, which is the second initiative to help Android reach the 64-bit market.

The Juno hardware development platform includes a system on chip (SoC) powered by a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU and dual-core ARM Cortex-A57 CPU in an ARM big.little processing configuration.

Juno is said to be an “open, vendor neutral ARMv8 development platform” that will also feature an ARM Mali-T624 graphics processor.

Alongside the news of the 64-bit initiatives, ARM also announced that Actions Semiconductor of China signed a license agreement for the 64-bit ARM Cortex-A50 processor family.

“Actions provides SoC solutions for portable consumer electronics,” ARM said. “With this IP license, Actions will develop 64-bit SoC solutions targeting the tablet and over-the-counter (OTT) set top box markets.”

The announcements from ARM come at an appropriate time, as it was only last week that Google announced the latest version of its Android mobile operating system, Android L, which comes with support for 64-bit processors. ARM’s latest developments mean that Android developers are likely to take advantage of them in the push to take Android to the 64-bit market.

Despite speculation that it would launch as Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google outed its next software iteration on Wednesday last week as simply Android L, touting the oddly-named iteration as “the largest update to the operating system yet”.

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