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Thread: Anandtech News

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    #1101

    Anandtech: EFI Update Brings Lion Recovery to iMacs

    Apple has released a new firmware update for the Sandy Bridge iMacs that enables Lion Internet Recovery, allowing customers to connect to Apple's servers in the event that they need to do a clean install of OS X Lion. It additionally fixes issues with the Apple Thunderbolt Display and Thunderbolt Target Disk Mode.
    Lion Recovery, designed to replace recovery discs in the post-Lion era, was originally introduced in the new MacBook Air and Mac Mini models earlier this year, and was extended to the Sandy Bridge MacBook Pros last month.
    The update, which requires OS X 10.6.8 or any version of 10.7, can be downloaded using Software Update, or directly from Apple's support site.
    Source: Apple



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    #1102

    Anandtech: Windows 8 Task Manager Features Improved UI for Multiple CPUs

    Microsoft's Ryan Haveson takes to the Building Windows 8 blog today to give us one of our first looks at a Windows 8 feature not included in the Developer Preview: new Task Manager features drastically increase its usefulness on multicore systems, especially on servers with large numbers of logical processor cores.
    Rather than the old, graph-based approach, the Windows 8 Task Manager now displays CPU usage in numbers and colors - more heavily loaded processors are darker colored, while lightly used processors are lightly colors. Hovering your mouse over a particular processor will give you its logical processor ID. All of this makes it easier to tell at a glance what each of your logical CPUs are doing, especially in systems with as many cores as the one shown above.

    The new Task Manager also allows users to specify which logical processor or processors should run a particular process - one could, for example, restrict a browser or video encoding program to use only one or two of a system's cores, leaving the rest free for other tasks. This feature was also available in previous Windows versions, but the dialog boxes are more informative here.
    For more, as always, check out the deeper and more informative post at the Building Windows 8 blog.
    Source: Building Windows 8 Blog



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    #1103

    Anandtech: AMD Q3 2011 Results: $97mil On Strong Llano Sales

    AMD held their Q3 2011 conference call this afternoon to announce their financial results for the quarter. Previously, AMD had issued a warning for this quarter based on production problems over at fab partner Global Foundries, so there has been a cloud lingering over AMD's Q3 for most of the last month.
    As it turns out, even with problems at Global Foundries it has been a good quarter for AMD. AMD booked $1.69B in revenue for the quarter, keeping $97M of that as profit. AMD has been turning small profits for some time now since they spun off Global Foundries, but this is the first time they’ve turned a profit in Q3. Meanwhile the all-important gross margin was 45%, where AMD has for better or worse held steady for the last year. AMD’s gross margin is the key to their profitability, and while a 45% margin is normally enough for a small profit AMD has long been trying to improve it to be on better footing against Intel’s 60%+ margins.
    Unsurprisingly the breadwinner for the quarter was Llano, which launched just before the start of the quarter. Overall AMD’s mobile business revenue increased 35% over Q2, and at this point AMD is selling Llano as fast as they can produce it. This is why the continuing status of GloFlo’s 32nm process is so important to AMD, as at this point AMD’s mobile growth is limited only by supply constraints. And where are all of those Llanos going? While AMD doesn’t break down shipments of individual CPU families by region, AMD has cited China and India as major growth markets for the quarter, where they saw double digit growth in both markets.
    Meanwhile in terms of market segments AMD saw growth in both mobile and server sales while desktop sales have continued to shrink, reflecting the wider market trend. Some of this can also be explained by Bulldozer, which launched not even 2 weeks after the end of Q3. Whereas Llano had already launched and landed a number of notebook design wins to give AMD a strong quarter in the mobile market, Bulldozer’s slipping to Q4 would further exacerbate slipping desktop sales as customers waited for Bulldozer’s launch before making a purchase. Unfortunately alongside Bulldozer's late launch, AMD’s Average Selling Price (ASP) has once again slipped on a year-to-year basis, which reflects the company’s difficulty in raising their gross margin.
    Finally, the graphics division of AMD once again turned a operating income of $12M on revenue of $403M. As APU revenue is booked separately from GPU revenue, the graphics division often teeters between a profit and loss, so its fate is tied to AMD’s discrete GPU sales. Overall discrete GPU sales were up both sequentially and year-to-year, as was the ASP. AMD cited add-in (desktop) GPU sales as the primary driver for the sequential growth, while mobile GPU sales were the primary driver for the year-to-year growth.
    Wrapping things up, for Q4 is expecting 3% sequential revenue growth. Q4 will be the first quarter the Bulldozer has shipped through most-to-all of the quarter, and while it hasn’t been an impressive desktop product we’ve yet to see server performance. A strong showing in the server space will be important for AMD as server CPUs command a higher price. Meanwhile AMD is still expecting to ship their next generation of GPUs in Q4, however they will be “shipping for revenue”, which is not necessarily the same as being available for sale at retail. So we may not see the Radeon 7000 series until 2012, even if AMD technically ships them in 2011.
    Source: AMD Investor Relations



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    #1104

    Anandtech: Dell Vostro V131: A Budget Business Laptop

    We’ve reviewed just about every line of laptops that Dell makes over the years, but we haven’t had a chance to look at the Vostro line until today. Vostro is essentially Dell’s entry-level business laptop brand, with an emphasis on business-class support while maintaining a lower price point than the Latitude line. What that means is you give up some of the performance options of the consumer Inspiron and XPS lines, but you usually get better support and a matte LCD. Build quality is a bit of a question mark, and something we’ll discuss more in the review. The V131 we received for review is also quite thin, nearly at ultrabook levels, which raises an interesting question: how does an $800 (often less) business laptop compare with the upcoming ultrabooks and other thin and light laptops?
    We’ve already had our first ultrabook review with the ASUS UX21E, and we expect more ultrabooks in for review in the next month, which makes this review of the Vostro V131 all the more pertinent. It supports full-power Core 2011 dual-core processors and uses integrated graphics, but it also has a standard battery that can easily be swapped out—and a larger battery capacity as well. If you’re interested in seeing how the Vostro V131 stacks up against the recently reviewed XPS 14z and ASUS UX21, or you’re wondering what you give up in moving from Dell’s Latitude line down to the Vostro, we should have all the information you need in this review.


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    #1105

    Anandtech: AppliedMicro Announces 64-bit ARM Based X-Gene SoCs

    AppliedMicro has released specifications of their upcoming X-Gene SoC (Server-on-a-Chip this time, not System).
    AppliedMicro X-Gene Specifications
    Architecture ARMv8
    Cores From 2 to up to 128
    Frequency Up to 3GHz
    Process TSMC 40/28nm
    Power Usage Up to 2W per core
    Above is a simple table showing the key specifications. ARMv8 is ARM's brand new architecture, which was announced on Thursday. ARMv8 brings 64-bit addressing to ARM architecture, which makes ARM a more attractive solution for server market. X-Gene is very scalable - core count ranges from two to up to 128, while the frequency is up to 3GHz (yes, even with 128 cores). AppliedMicro has chosen TSMC as the manufacturer of the SoCs and the process will be TSMC's 40nm and 28nm.
    X-Gene is a SoC, meaning that key server and network components are integrated onto the same chip. This is much cleaner approach when compared to for example Intel's, where you have several independent chips, such as the CPU(s) and chipset controller. X-Gene even has an integrated 10Gbit Ethernet controller, which should be a welcome addition for enterprises with a need for high-speed networking. Support for multi-chip configurations is also present, enabled by a 100Gbit/s interface (just for comparison, Intel's QPI is good for up to 204.8Gbit/s).
    The biggest advantage of X-Gene is its power efficiency. At full load, the power usage is only 2 watts per core. When idling, the power usage is one fourth, 0.5 watts per core. For the 128-core chip at 3GHz, the power usage works out to be 256W, or 64W when idling. 256W may sound like a big number but it's actually on-par with for example two Intel X5680s, which are 130W each. And that is when excluding the power used by the chipset and other components, which are integrated into X-Gene. Of course, performance is a big question mark but if AppliedMicro's tests are to believe, X-Gene is up to three times faster than Intel's Sandy Bridge based E3 Xeons when looking at similar power profile. It should be noted these numbers are based on pre-silicon projections, so a lot can change before the final products hit the market.
    The scalability of X-Gene allows a broad suite of market-end applications. The low-end chips with only a couple of cores are suitable for more consumer-friendly devices like NASs and routers - whereas the chips with higher core count are ideal for more complex setups, such as data centers. The first samples of X-Gene are expected in the second half of 2012.
    Stay tuned for a more thorough analysis of this announcement!



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    Anandtech: Bulldozer Breaks Frequency Record Again: Overclocked to 8.46GHz

    Just before the launch of Bulldozer, AMD demonstrated it at 8.43GHz, which was the world record back then. Now an overclocker named Andre Yang has achieved an overclock of 8.46GHz, beating AMD's record by ~30MHz.
    Gallery: Bulldozer Breaks Frequency Record Again: Overclocked to 8.46GHz


    Above are the CPU-Z screenshots of the new and former record. The exact frequency is 8461.51MHz, which is 32.13MHz faster than the previous record. As shown in the pictures, both CPUs had only two cores enabled and ASUS's Crosshair V Formula motherboard was used. Andre applied a core voltage of 1.992V, whereas AMD had a voltage of 2.016V in their setup. Cooling method of Andre's setup is unknown, but most likely either liquid nitrogen or helium was used.



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    Anandtech: Siri Gets Hacked: Running on iPhone 4 and iPod Touch 4G

    When iPhone 4S was announced earlier this month, one of the mightiest features was definitely Apple's new voice control software: Siri. Siri understands normal speech, so you can send text messages and set alarms and so on by speaking to your phone. While Siri is purely software, Apple has limited it to iPhone 4S. Other supported devices can upgrade to iOS 5, but Siri will not be included. However, it has been widely expected that Siri will soon be hacked to run on unsupported devices - and that day has now come.
    Developers Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) and @chpwn have managed to get Siri to run on iPhone 4 and fourth generation iPod Touch (uses the same A4 chip as iPhone 4, but has only 256MB of RAM). Even without the dual core A5 chip, Siri appears to run smoothly. Troughton-Smith said that Siri runs as fast on iPhone 4 as it does on iPhone 4S. The iPod Touch has some problems due to the inferior microphone (iPod Touch wasn't designed for calling like iPhone), requiring you to talk very loudly but the actual Siri software runs flawlessly. Below is a video of Siri running on the iPod Touch.

    Owners of iPhone 4 and iPod Touch 4G shouldn't get too excited though, as Troughton-Smith says a public release should not be expected anytime soon. There may also be legal issues of distributing Apple's code, making a public release impossible.



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    Anandtech: Lian Li PC-TU200: On the Road With Lian Li

    More and more lately, mini-ITX boards are becoming very feature rich and users are needing fewer expansion cards in their desktop systems. Where once upon a time we'd need a wireless card, a video card, maybe an eSATA card and/or a sound card, now modern mini-ITX boards can cover just about all of these bases short of the GPU. TV tuner cards aren't even what they used to be with vendor lock-in by cable companies. All of that means that in many cases (no pun intended), all the end user is really going to need is the single PCI Express x16 the board provides.
    Addressing this segment of users, Lian Li sent us their PC-TU200 enclosure, a mini-ITX case that offers two expansion slots just for those double-wide video cards that have become de rigeur. The TU200 includes a carrying handle at the top that makes its purpose abundantly clear: producing a case perfect for LAN warriors.


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    Anandtech: Samsung Galaxy S II Rocket and HTC Vivid: AT&T's First LTE Phones Launch N

    As if we didn't have enough phones to review, AT&T, HTC and Samsung announced today the first LTE phones to launch on AT&T's newly rolled out network. The five initial markets (Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio) will be joined by five new markets (Boston, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Indianapolis and Athens, Georgia) on November 6th and these phones will join the 4G modems that are already available. Launching these phones alongside an already packed list of Android phones you'd expect these LTE devices to sport premium prices, much like Verizon's LTE offerings; that doesn't seem to be the case though, with HTC's offering coming in at just $199. So what do AT&T's first LTE handsets look like? Let's dig in.
    The HTC Vivid takes the Evo 3D recipe, swaps the WiMax baseband for LTE (likely the MDM9600 we've seen before), deletes the 3D camera and stretches the whole thing out to 4.5" while retaining the qHD display. The 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm MSM8260 provides HSPA+ connectivity and plenty power for this Gingerbread phone, and the 8MP/1080p camera round out the announced features. We're still waiting for more details, particularly the screen type, and some press shots but being introduced at just $199 makes this a competitive phone, perfect for the holidays.
    If you sprung for AT&T's first Galaxy S II variant, you might be kicking yourself right now. For just a $50 premium over the non-LTE variant, the Galaxy S II Skyrocket brings the LTE baseband and 1.5 GHz dual-core SoC of the international SGSII LTE, along with a larger 4.5" display, though retaining the WVGA resolution. As with the other SGSII variants, Super AMOLED Plus is on tap, bringing its delightful RGB stripe along with the rich blacks, saturated colors and excellent viewing angles from Samsung's other AMOLED displays. The look of the phone is similar to AT&T's other SGSII variant, just stretched out and without the textured back. On-board storage is 16 GB with microSD expansion up to 32 GB and you'll be able to fill it up with shots from that 8MP/1080p shooter we've seen before. We're waiting for confirmation on the SoC and the baseband, but at just $249 this could be a tough phone to pass up.
    The fall release schedule gets more and more crowded, and we're working as hard as we can to cull the field for you all. With any luck, these manufacturer's will take a break, so we can get ahead. But we're not holding our breath. Stay tuned.

    Gallery: AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket





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    #1110

    Anandtech: LaCie Little Big Disk (2TB) Review: More Affordable Thunderbolt Storage

    Thunderbolt is the absolute fastest consumer interface available for users who want high-speed external storage. We proved this in our Pegasus R6 review where we sustained transfer rates of 1GB/s (8Gbps) from an array of five SF-2281 SSDs. There are just two problems with Thunderbolt today: 1) It's practically only available on Macs, and 2) the Promise Pegasus is extremely expensive.
    In its cheapest configuration, the 4TB Pegasus R4 with four 1TB 3.5" HDDs will set you back a cool grand. Want the 6-bay version? That'll be $1500. And the top of the line 12TB model is priced at $2000. Less than $500 of that $2K bill is the retail cost of the hard drives, the rest is all chassis, controller hardware and of course manufacturer profit. As great as the Pegasus is for professionals who need the storage and performance, it's priced too high for most consumers who also want fast external storage.
    LaCie hopes to offer an alternative for those who want more affordable Thunderbolt storage. Note that I said more affordable, and not just affordable.
    Read on for our review of LaCie's Little Big Disk.

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