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Thread: Anandtech News

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    #451

    Anandtech: Intel’s Roadmap: Ivy Bridge, Panther Point, and SSDs

    Last week, we told you about Sandy Bridge-E and X79 chipset. Today, we have a lot of interesting news about other Intel products, including a look at the Ivy Bridge platform and upcoming SSDs. Intel still isn’t taking the wraps off of their Ivy Bridge architecture, but yesterday’s 3D Tri-Gate announcement certainly changes the expectations. Let's look at the rest of the roadmap, including details on the Panther Point chipsets and upcoming SSDs.



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    #452

    Anandtech: OCZ Vertex 3 (240GB) Review

    Three months ago we previewed the first client focused SF-2200 SSD: OCZ's Vertex 3. The 240GB sample OCZ sent for the preview was four firmware revisions older than what ended up shipping to retail last month, but we hoped that the preview numbers were indicative of final performance.

    The first drives off the line when OCZ went to production were 120GB capacity models. These drives have 128GiB of NAND on board and 111GiB of user accessible space, the remaining 12.7% is used for redundancy in the event of NAND failure and spare area for bad block allocation and block recycling.


    Unfortunately the 120GB models didn't perform as well as the 240GB sample we previewed. Was it the newer firmware or the simple fact that the 120GB had fewer NAND die under the hood. With 16 NAND devices on the 120GB model and only 8 channels branching off the SF-2200 controller, why would the 240GB drive be faster? Read on to find out.



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    #453

    Anandtech: Antec soundscience rockus 3D Giveaway

    April was a pretty exciting month for giveaways on AnandTech. We gave away four Xooms courtesy of NVIDIA, our last one went to AnandTech reader Don of Charlotte, NC. Qualcomm also handed us a Snapdragon Mobile Development Platform, which AnandTech reader yelped won! Respond to my email to claim your MDP!

    The giveaways aren't over however. This summer we'll be giving away another tablet, a smartphone, more memory and an SSD. Today, Antec has graciously provided two of its new soundscience rockus 3D 2.1 speaker systems for our next giveaway.


    Read on for contest entry details!



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    #454

    Anandtech: Updates on the Netgear NTV 550

    As followers of the media streamer reviews on AnandTech already know, I have been in possession of a review unit of the Netgear NTV 550 since CES. It was a CES Innovation award winner, and the specifications and price point convinced me that this was one of the media players with immense potential.


    More than 6 months after the unit appeared in the market, the firmware is still not stable enough to warrant a review. In addition to this, news came out recently that Netgear had decided to drop pursuit of Netflix certification for the NTV550. I reached out to get some official statements regarding the current status of the NTV550 in Netgear's product development roadmap.

    Read on to find out what is cooking up with the NTV 550 over at Netgear.





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    #455

    Anandtech: NVIDIA to Acquire Icera, Adds Software Baseband to its Portfolio

    Late last year Intel announced the intention to acquire Infineon’s Wireless Solutions business, highlighting an important trend in the application processor space: those determined to lead in the smartphone/tablet SoC market have an intense desire to control as much IP as possible. It’s not enough to simply bundle licensed IP blocks, acquiring the IP is the first step towards consolidating the market.

    It started years ago with the acquisition of companies that made audio and video decoders. Qualcomm even purchased ATI’s Imageon GPU business, again with the mindset that if you don’t own your IP, you’re no different than just another competitor who licenses it.

    Qualcomm itself has done very well as it has a rare combination of owning a considerable amount of IP within its application processor but also having a successful cellular baseband business. Qualcomm designs its own CPU cores (based on ARM instruction sets), its own GPU cores and likely controls much of the other IP going into its SoCs. On top of all of that, Qualcomm designs its own modems which can be both integrated into its application processors or used externally as a separate chip.

    Qualcomm modems have been used in many of the smartphones we’ve played with lately including the HTC Thunderbolt and the Droid Charge.

    Having an extensive baseband portfolio is no different for a player in the app processor space as owning your own chipset business was for Intel in the early 2000s. If you can provide your customers (smartphone/tablet vendors) with a platform rather than individual chips there’s the potential to market synergies between your offerings and then of course you can sell more chips to the same customer rather than sending that business elsewhere. Eventually this approach drives the individual vendors of various IP out of business as power is consolidated in the hands of the strongest SoC players.

    Today NVIDIA announced that it too is going to play in this game with the acquisition of Icera. The acquisition is expected to close in 30 days and is worth $367 million in cash.




    Icera’s modems aren’t too common in high end smartphones. A quick look through its product offering shows a strong focus on mobile broadband devices (e.g. USB modems), however it’s possible that Icera simply could never break into the handset market - something NVIDIA can help address with its recent success on the back of Tegra 2. It’s clear that eventually integrating Icera’s technology into Tegra SoCs now becomes an option which, assuming there are no fundamental issues with Icera’s baseband designs, would obviously increase its presence in the handset space.

    What Icera offers that’s unique is what it calls a software baseband. All cellular baseband processors require some sort of on-board processing, which is usually handled by a licensed ARM core, fixed function logic or combination of the two. Icera’s baseband chips feature its own custom designed microprocessor (something Icera calls its DXP - Deep Execution Processor) that can be upgraded, through software, to support a wide range of wireless standards.




    The Icera Livanto ICE8060 baseband for example supports HSPA category 8 (7.2Mbps) all the way up through category 24 HSPA+ (42Mbps) and 50Mbps multimode LTE. Presumably Icera charges more for the faster software packages, but it does allow its customers to build a single design that’s quickly adaptable to other networks.

    Icera argues that its software baseband architecture results in a smaller overall die size and lower power consumption than the competition. If true, this would mean better levels of integration both in an SoC and in a handset as well as longer battery life. That being said, we all know better than to trust a vendor’s claims without hard evidence.

    Icera did publish this diagram which shows the size of its baseband IC compared to solutions from Qualcomm and ST-E:




    It’s unclear how similar Icera’s approach is to what companies like Qualcomm already do. Given that there’s only a single baseband listed on Icera’s product pages I suspect it’s at least a bit more configurable than the competition. NVIDIA’s press release makes mention of Icera’s patent portfolio, which is likely a big part of what NVIDIA is after in this acquisition.

    Today’s announcement is mostly about NVIDIA continuing to take the SoC market seriously. If you believe that those who will ultimately succeed here will own as much of their own IP as possible, then NVIDIA is on the right path.


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    #456

    Anandtech: HP Keeps The Notebooks Rolling Out

    Every time I feel like I'm done posting about HP's hardware refreshes, they have another press conference and another announcement. Typically a constant stream of releases and conferences is indicative of a back and forth between competing vendors, trying to steal thunder, but Dell, Acer, and Toshiba have all been strangely silent. Today is at least a little different, though; HP is fleshing out their refreshed business lines a little more, but they're also updating two of their consumer notebooks.

    First on the block is HP's ProBook 5330m. If you've been following our coverage of HP's business notebook announcements (and we have a review of the EliteBook 8460p en route as well), the 5330m is going to seem a little old hat at first: Sandy Bridge processor (no dedicated graphics options) and 13.3" screen inside a sleek brushed aluminum shell. The difference here is that the ProBook is the first business-class notebook in HP's stable to feature their much-ballyhooed Beats Audio. In our experience with the HP Envy 17, we found Beats Audio to be at least a moderate improvement over the typical notebook audio (though it still pales in comparison to the sound systems on Dell's XPS laptops.) The ProBook 5330m also has an optional backlit keyboard. HP expects it to be available today starting at $799.


    HP is also introducing two new EliteBooks, the 2560p and 2760p. From the model numbers one might suspect these are larger desktop replacement notebooks, but actually they're both 12-inch machines. The EliteBook 2560p is typical of HP's new line of business notebooks, just fun sized, with a 12.5" 1366x768 matte screen and the usual Sandy Bridge trimmings. The 2760p on the other hand is a new tablet PC, proving this form factor just refuses to die. It has some of the same brushed aluminum style of its kin, but has a keyboard that hearkens back to HP's last generation. HP offers it with a 1280x800 "ultra-wide-viewing-angle" multi-touch screen standard with optional "Outdoor View" version. Odds are good this is packing an IPS panel, so individuals looking for an alternative to Lenovo's IPS 12" notebook might want to check it out. The EliteBook 2560p is expected to be available on May 23rd starting at $1,099; the EliteBook 2760p is expected to be available today starting at $1,499.

    Finally, HP is refreshing their Mini 210, dv4, and ENVY 14 notebooks, making this a good day for fans of more portable machines.


    Since we know you're chomping at the bit for another Atom-based netbook and you can hardly contain yourselves, we'll start with the Mini 210. It comes with an Intel Atom N455, 1GB of DDR3, Beats Audio, and a 10.1" glossy, LED-backlit 1024x600 screen. The shell has seen a slight redesign to bring the Mini 210 in line with HP's other consumer notebooks, but the insides are the same stuff you've been suffering through for the past couple of years. It's expected to be available on June 15th for $299, but if you're in the market for a netbook you may want to save yourself some time and energy and just pony up for the Bronze Editor's Choice award-winning dm1z with AMD's E-350 Fusion processor. It's $100 more, but it has a higher-resolution screen, full-sized keyboard, and usable internal hardware.

    The dv4 and ENVY 14 are much less changed. Each has been updated to Intel's Sandy Bridge, and features Beats Audio and HP's CoolSense technology to keep the notebook running frosty. The ENVY 14 also sees an upgrade to USB 3.0. The updated dv4 starts at $599 and is expected to be available on May 18th; the updated ENVY 14 starts at $999 and is expected to be available June 15th.



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    #457

    Anandtech: IN-WIN BUC: Just How Much $100 Can Buy

    When building a new machine, it's often easy to pass by certain manufacturers in favor of old standbys like Antec, Cooler Master, SilverStone, or Thermaltake. Whenever another company becomes a contender it's usually because they made a big splash at the top of the market and let the halo effect strike the way Corsair did. However, there's great engineering going on with smaller firms, and in the case of IN-WIN and their new BUC enclosure, you'd be surprised at just how much actual value can be crammed into what seems at first glance like a mid-range enclosure. If you're the type to tinker religiously with your desktop, the BUC may just be the case for you.




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    #458

    Anandtech: This Just In: HP Veer 4G for AT&T

    It's going to be a busy week for smartphones. We've got Google I/O, a bunch of finishing touches on the Droid Charge review, the Infuse 4G on its way, and early this morning yet another new device hit the doorstep. This time it's the HP Veer 4G which is slated to launch on AT&T May 15th.

    The Veer is tiny, the device's outline is about the size of a credit card. Next to the AT&T Palm Pre Plus, the Veer looks very small. Compared to the 4.3-inch devices I've been carrying and reviewing for so long now, its size is positively mind-blowing.


    Read on for our quick impressions of the HP Veer 4G and some discussion about HSPA+ support.



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    #459

    Anandtech: P67 $190 Part 2: MSI, ASRock and ECS

    Our first look at $190 P67 boards started with ASUS and Gigabyte. Within hours of posting the review, I was commandeered by several other companies to look at their $190 motherboards. This is still one of the best selling P67 price points, even with Z68 around the corner. Here, we look at the MSI P67A-GD65, the ASRock P67 Extreme6 and the ECS P67H2-A2, and come up with some interesting results. Read on…




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    #460

    Anandtech: HP EliteBook 8460p: Everything But The Screen

    Ever since getting to visit with HP back in February, we've been anxious to get one of their refreshed enterprise-class notebooks in house. The aluminum styling is such a smart blend of professionalism and straight up good looks, it's almost a shame we aren't going to see it on consumer-oriented notebooks. Now we have one of their new 14-inch models on hand, the EliteBook 8460p, featuring a dual-core Sandy Bridge processor and new AMD Radeon HD 6470M graphics. Is it everything we hoped for?




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