Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lenovo, a leading computer supplier mostly known for business-oriented systems, has unveiled its first entry-level personal computer that belongs to netbook category. The new IdeaPad S10 complements the recently introduced family of consumer oriented systems by Lenovo with a small form-factor model which price starts at $399.

“IdeaPad netbooks are the latest in a string of recently announced Lenovo products, designed specifically for consumers worldwide and developed through our heritage of technological innovation and exceptional engineering. As rapidly as the technology changes, today’s consumers are looking for mobile products that feature the best of basic computing functions in an extremely compact and affordable form, and Lenovo designed the IdeaPad netbooks for that purpose,” said Liu Jun, senior vice president of consumer business group at Lenovo.

Lenovo IdeaPad S10 features 10.2" LED backlit screen and comes in three different colours, black, white or red. The system is based on Intel Atom processor and comes in two configurations: with 512MB of memory and 80GB hard disk drive as well as with 1GB of memory and with 160GB hard drive. The IdeaPad S10 features built-in webcam as well as card-reader. The first netbook from Lenovo features Microsoft Windows XP operating system and the version with 1GB of memory also sports one-key rescue feature. The IdeaPad is 1" thin and weighs roughly 900 grams (2 pounds).















The IdeaPad S10 is primarily designed for Internet, check and write emails, listen to music and run basic applications. Lenovo also plans to introduce netbook models designed specifically for students and educators.

Consumer demand for netbooks is growing rapidly around the world. IDC forecasts worldwide shipments of ultra-low cost notebooks rising from just 430,000 units in 2007 to 9.2 million in 2012. Additionally, analysts are predicting that one of the fastest growing areas for netbooks is the education market, which is why many leading PC vendors are introducing their netbooks these days.

The IdeaPad S10 netbook PC will be available beginning in early October, and prices start at $399. The IdeaPad S10 netbook will be available through leading retailers, Lenovo business partners and its online store.

Microsoft and Nokia May Team Up Against Apple

Microsoft Corp., the largest maker of software in the world, and Nokia Corp., the world’s largest manufacturer of cell phones, are reportedly teaming up to include Zune functionality into certain handsets by Nokia in an attempt to compete against Apple’s iPhone.

Citing “a well placed source within Microsoft”, Zunescene web-site reported that Nokia is currently working with the Zune team on integration of Zune Marketplace content delivery system into certain handset or handsets. If the information is correct, owners of Nokia phones will be able to get content both from Nokia and Microsoft, which means broader range of accessible music tracks, videos, etc.

There is no secret that Microsoft also plans to integrate certain Zune functionality into its Windows Mobile platform, hence, the deal with Nokia does not seem to be exclusive and it is highly likely that Zune Marketplace will be available on phones and smartphones by other makers as well.

There is no information whether Microsoft and Nokia are working together on an actual Zune handset.

Apple iPhone appears to be pretty popular among gadget fans around the world thanks to its stylish outlook as well as easy-to-use interface. Many companies would like to stop Apple’s expansion on the market of mobile devices, therefore, possible teaming up of Microsoft and Nokia is not a surprise. It is unclear, though, whether content delivery systems alone can compete against the iPhone.

Microsoft and Nokia did not comment on the news-story.

Apple Readies iPhone Nano Handset for Christmas Season – Paper

Apple iPhone is no doubt very popular cell phone these days, but since it is not really affordable and requires signing a contract with a pre-specified operator, its actual market performance may be limited by these factors. However, some believe that cheaper version of the iPhone – perhaps, it’ll be called iPhone nano – is on track to launch later this year.

A source, which is claimed to be familiar with the matter by the UK-based DailyMail news-paper, is quoted as saying that Apple iPhone nano is set to be available in shops in time for Christmas for £150 ($291) without a need to sign a contract. Experts expect the alleged iPhone nano to become a popular gift for Christmas.

“The iPhone 3G has been the fastest-selling phone ever in the UK, but it is too expensive to be a realistic proposition in the pay-as-you-go market. However, a cut down version, with the candy bar shape of iPod nano music players, would be a huge hit as a Christmas gift,” the industry sources is quoted as saying.

Currently customers of O2 in the UK have to pay £99 ($192) for iPhone 8GB or £159 ($308) for iPhone 16GB and sign a 18-months contract with £30 ($58) or £35 ($67) monthly payments. Other options include 18-months contracts with £45 ($87) or £75 ($145) monthly payments with free iPhone 8GB and 16GB, respectively. O2 plans to offer iPhone 3G without a contract later this year.

Specifications of a cheaper version of iPhone are not known.

The recently launched Apple iPhone 3G comes in a slightly different enclosure compared to the original iPhone – it is now made of plastic and is slightly thicker – but sports the same 3.5” touch-screen with 480x320 resolution, includes support for quad-band GSM, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0 EDR wireless technologies. The iPhone 3G also features a 2 megapixel (2MP) camera, audio and video playback capabilities as well as assisted GPS function. Depending on the model, the iPhone 3G comes with 8GB or 16GB of memory.

Apple did not comment on the news-story.

Google Android-Powered Phones Get Delayed - Rumours

Despite of expectations and promises, the long-awaited phones featuring Google Android operating system (OS) may note emerge on the market until sometime in late Q1 2009 since handset maker High Tech Computer (HTC) has certain software related problems.

According to Trip Chowdhry, an analyst of Global Equities Research, HTC is “having structural problems to incorporate Google’s demanded feature set”. Apparently, HTC is “demanding a guaranteed minimum revenue surety from Google”, from which Mr. Chowdhry concludes that “HTC does not think there will be enough demand for GPhone,” reports Barrons web-site.

The fact that Google demands pre-specified feature-set from the Android-powered phones is definitely positive, as it greatly eases choice for end-users. However, the fact that HTC is unsure about the success of the so-called Gphone is alarming.

In fact, according to the analyst, who cites industry sources, Google Android operating system “is not able to attract enough developers because toolkits offered by Microsoft, Apple, Research in Motion, and Nokia’s Symbian software group, have sucked up software developers’ attention”. This is exactly a thing to worry about: without third-party applications many end-users may not become interested in Google-powered devices, not only because they are used to their Blackberry or Nokia, but also because of lack of software for the Android platform.

Google itself denied the report from the analyst and said that the Android remains on-track.

“We remain on schedule to deliver the first Android-based handset this year and we’re very excited to see the momentum continuing to build behind the Android platform among carriers, handset manufacturers, developers and consumers,” a spokesperson from Google said in an interview with News.com.

Intel Core i7: Intel Sets the Official Brand-Name for Nehalem Chips

Intel Corp. has set the brand-name under which it will market its processors based on the Nehalem micro-architecture. Surprisingly, the company decided not to drop the “Core” name and the new chips will be available as Intel Core 7i central processing units (CPUs).

The new brand name, which was revealed by Expreview web-site, may attempt to tell the end-user that the new Nehalem micro-architecture leverages the foundation of the Core 2 micro-architecture that is used in Intel’s today’s highly popular desktop, mobile and server microprocessors. What the new name hardly tells are the advantages that Core i7 has over its predecessor.

The main micro-architectural enhancements for Nehalem that Intel has discussed so far is increased parallelism – the new microprocessors will be able to execute 33% more concurrent micro-ops at the same time. Additional improvements include faster unaligned cache accesses and faster synchronization primitives. In order to exclude situations when execution units stand idle, Intel also implemented new 2nd level branch predictor.

Another key enhancement of Intel Nehalem is completely redesigned cache sub-system. The new chips will feature 2nd level 512 entry translation look-aside buffer (in addition to 1st level TLB) in order to further reduce the so-called TLB miss rate, a completely new feature on x86 microprocessors. In addition, Intel Nehalem processors (at least, in certain implementations) will have three-level cache hierarchy: 64KB L1 (32KB for data, 32KB for instructions), 256KB L2 cache per core, 8MB L3 cache per processor. Traditionally, Intel chips use inclusive cache policy.

The world’s largest maker of x86 microprocessors also reiterated that its high-end Nehalem microprocessors will have from 2 to 8 cores, triple-channel DDR3 memory controller (with up to 1333MHz clock-speed supported initially), will use Quick Path Interconnect (QPI) bus and will support multi-threading technology similar with Intel Hyper-Threading that was first unveiled back in 2002 as well as SSE4.2 instructions.

Intel’s first implementation of Nehalem processor is code-named Bloomfield. This quad-core chip will be made using 45nm process technology and will sport 731 million transistors.

Intel did not comment on the news-story.

Via Technologies: Ultimately the Third Party Chipset Market Would Disappear

Via Technologies, the company that used to be one of the world’s leading developer of core-logic sets a little less than a decade ago, said in an interview that the market of third party chipsets compatible with microprocessors by Advanced Micro Devices and Intel Corp. would ultimately disappear.

The Taipei, Taiwan designer of central processing units (CPUs), chipsets and graphics processing cores has quit the business of AMD- and Intel-compatible chipsets already in order to concentrate on development of its own platforms as well as x86 chips. The decision did not seem to be logical when it was made about a year ago, as Via’s revenues seriously depend on sales of chipsets for processors by others. However, Via is now confident that the choice was the right one.

“One of the main reasons we originally moved into the x86 processor business was because we believed that ultimately the third party chipset market would disappear, and we would need to have the capability to provide a complete platform,” said Richard Brown, vice president of corporate marketing at Via Technologies, in an interview with Custom PC web-site.

According to Mr. Brown, both AMD and Intel sooner or later will provide chipsets for their processors exclusively.

“Intel provides the vast majority of chipsets for its processors and, following its purchase of ATI, AMD is also moving very quickly in the same direction,” Mr. Brown said.

The sunset of third-party chipsets for AMD and Intel CPUs means that both Nvidia Corp. and Silicon Integrated Systems Corp. are set to quit the market of chipsets, just like Via Technologies. Nvidia recently denied such possibility, but since both leading designers of microprocessors are aggressively promoting their chipsets, neither Nvidia, nor SiS, may not have a choice.

Intel Confirms Brand Name for Intel Core i7 Processors

Intel Corp. on Monday confirmed that its microprocessors based on the code-named Nehalem micro-architecture will be officially sold under the well-known Core trademark. As projected, the new chips are set to be commercially available in Q4 2008.

The Intel Core processor brand name has gained broad awareness and popularity over the past several years. Therefore, according to Intel, the Core name remains the logical choice for Intel’s latest family of processors. The Intel Core i7 processor brand logo will be available for high-performance desktop PCs with a separate black logo for Intel’s highest-end Extreme Edition. Intel will include processor model numbers to differentiate each chip.

“The Core name is and will be our flagship PC processor brand going forward. Expect Intel to focus even more marketing resources around that name and the Core i7 products starting now,” said Sean Maloney, Intel executive vice president and general manager, sales and marketing group

The main micro-architectural enhancements for Nehalem that Intel has discussed so far is increased parallelism – the new microprocessors will be able to execute 33% more concurrent micro-ops at the same time. Additional improvements include faster unaligned cache accesses and faster synchronization primitives. In order to exclude situations when execution units stand idle, Intel also implemented new 2nd level branch predictor.

Another key enhancement of Intel Nehalem is completely redesigned cache sub-system. The new chips will feature 2nd level 512 entry translation look-aside buffer (in addition to 1st level TLB) in order to further reduce the so-called TLB miss rate, a completely new feature on x86 microprocessors. In addition, Intel Nehalem processors (at least, in certain implementations) will have three-level cache hierarchy: 64KB L1 (32KB for data, 32KB for instructions), 256KB L2 cache per core, 8MB L3 cache per processor. Traditionally, Intel chips use inclusive cache policy.

The world’s largest maker of x86 microprocessors also reiterated that its high-end Nehalem microprocessors will have from 2 to 8 cores, triple-channel DDR3 memory controller (with up to 1333MHz clock-speed supported initially), will use Quick Path Interconnect (QPI) bus and will support multi-threading technology similar with Intel Hyper-Threading that was first unveiled back in 2002 as well as SSE4.2 instructions.

Intel’s first implementation of Nehalem processor is code-named Bloomfield. This quad-core chip will be made using 45nm process technology and will sport 731 million transistors.

Initial products based on this micro-architecture are expected to be in production in the fourth quarter of this year.

AMD Bids on DirectX 11, OpenCL to Popularize GPGPU

General purpose processing on graphics processing units (GPGPU) has been discussed for years, however, without standards that are accepted by the whole industry popularity of the technology is not high to say at least. But that may change once Microsoft Corp. unveils its DirectX 11 application programming interface and Khronos Group finalizes the OpenCL language.

“Industry standards are essential to unlocking the compute potential of GPUs and driving broad adoption of this capability in mainstream applications. GPGPU is now moving past the era of closed and fully proprietary development chains. With the advent of DirectX 11 and OpenCL, C/C++ programmers worldwide will have standardized and easier ways of leveraging the GPU’s computational capabilities,” said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager, graphics product group at AMD.

At present AMD is promoting GPGPU with its proprietary Close-to-Metal, Brook+ and Stream SDK technologies, whereas Nvidia is pushing its own CUDA technology as a part of GPGPU popularization.

According to Microsoft, Direct3D 11 extends and enhances Direct3D 10 with new hardware and API calls. For example, Direct3D 11 introduces the Compute Shader as a way to access this computational capability without so many constraints. It opens the door to operations on more general data-structures than just arrays, and to new classes of algorithms as well. Key features of compute shader include: communication of data between threads, and a rich set of primitives for random access and streaming I/O operations. These features enable faster and simpler implementations of techniques already in use, such as imaging and post-processing effects, and also open up new techniques that become feasible on Direct3D 11–class hardware.

“Just as it ushered in the era of advanced 3D gaming for the masses, DirectX is poised to be at the vanguard of the GPGPU revolution. DirectX 11 gives developers the power to more easily harness the astonishing capabilities of AMD GPUs for general purpose computation, and gives consumers an effortless way to experience all that AMD Stream has to offer, on the hundreds of millions of Microsoft Windows powered systems worldwide,” said Anantha Kancherla, manager of Windows desktop and graphics technologies, Microsoft.

AMD is also supporting efforts to develop OpenCL as an open standard and plans to evolve the Stream SDK to be OpenCL compliant. Through equal support for both DirectX 11 and OpenCL, and by continuing to give developers the option of creating and using their own programming languages and high level tools, AMD is executing on a strategy designed to give programmers maximum choice and flexibility, the company said.

Microsoft Preps to Drop the Price of Xbox 360 to $199

In a bid to boost sales of its Xbox 360 game console, Microsoft Corp. reportedly plans to drop the price of the entry-level version of the system to $199, starting next month. The price-cut will help to sell considerably more Xbox 360 hardware on the domestic market. However, Microsoft still needs additional software to improve popularity of its console both in Europe and the U.S.

According to news-stories by Ars Technica and VGChartz web-sites, starting from the 7th of September, 2008, Microsoft will sell Xbox 360 Arcade for $199, Xbox 360 Pro for $299 and Xbox 360 Elite for $399. The price-cut is set to coincide with the release of Square Enix's Infinite Undiscovery and 2 weeks before Harmonix/EA's Rock Band 2, which are titles exclusively developed for the Xbox 360 platform.

Sales of Microsoft Xbox 360 have been slowing down for some time now, partly because of the success of Nintendo Wii, partly because the company has to offer new games so that to attract attention of various gamers. The price-cut along with the launch of two potentially popular titles may skyrocket popularity of the game console. Furthermore, in case sales of the X360 really increase considerably, it may catalyze Nintendo, which sells its popular Wii for $249, to also reduce the pricing.

Since the Xbox 360 has been on the market for three years now, the cost of manufacturing of the console has come down substantially and Microsoft may cut the price rather significantly without risking to lose a lot of money on the move.

Earlier this year the world's largest designer of software already slashed pricing of Xbox 360 in various regions, however, given the weak dollar, the console still has the lowest price in the USA and Japan.

Microsoft did not comment on the news-story.