Google buys 'Android partner' Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Monday, 15 August 2011 11:29

How does Google's Android OS compete with Apple's ecosystem of iOS products?  How about by buying the handset division of one of its Android partners?

Google just announced that it is acquiring Motorola Mobility. The search and online advertising company is buying the company for approximately $12.5 billion (or $40 per share), in cash. The price represents a premium of 63 percent to the closing price of Motorola Mobility shares last Friday

Here’s the other important part of the press statement (the why, and what happens to Android now):

The acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a dedicated Android partner, will enable Google to supercharge the Android ecosystem and will enhance competition in mobile computing. Motorola Mobility will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open. Google will run Motorola Mobility as a separate business.

TechCrunch has the breaking news.

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John Carmack interview Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Monday, 15 August 2011 07:49

When John Carmack talks, people listen - but what does he have to say about the GPU industry as it stands, as well as other topics such as ray tracing, voxels and the like?

The topic of the GPU hardware race came up early in our talk and the response Carmack gave us was pretty interesting. Stating “I don’t worry about the GPU hardware at all, I worry about the drivers” seemed to be a reiterated point. This became very apparent to id Software while developing RAGE where even though the PC had truly an order of magnitude more horsepower than the consoles, it struggled to keep up with the “minimum latency”, get feedback here, update data there, etc and do it all to maintain a 60 Hertz frame rate. DirectX 11 and multi-threaded drivers might have helped things but he still claims that they are far from the solution he envisions: direct surfacing of the memory system. The process of updating a textures on the PC is on the order of “tens of thousands of times slower” than on the Xbox 360 and PS3. AMD did implement a “multi-texture” update specifically for id Tech 5 which should help, but from the interview you can tell that Carmack really does want more done on this topic.

One interesting side effect of this talk – Intel’s integrated graphics actually has impressed Carmack quite a bit and the shared memory address space could potentially fix much of this issue. AMD’s Fusion architecture, seen in the Llano APU and upcoming Trinity design, would also fit into the same mold here. He calls it “almost a forgone conclusion” that eventually this type of architecture is going to be the dominant force. You might remember our discussion of this topic with Josh’s analysis of AMD’s Fusion System Architecture – it would appear that AMD has a potential ally on its side if they are paying attention.

Check out the interview in both video and text transcript forms at PC Perspective.

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Euclideon and Unlimited Detail - Bruce Dell interview Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Friday, 12 August 2011 08:05

There's been a lot of talk about Euclideon and their "Unlimited Detail" technology around the web of late - first a buzz of excitement, followed by the realisation that a lot of their claims are outlandish and that the whole thing appears to be voxel-based anyway.  Regardless, [H]ard|OCP have put a host of questions to Bruce Dell, the company's founder, to try and find out more about what they hope to achieve.

Euclideon’s founder and lead engineer Bruce Dell has come under a lot of flak, fromYouTube trolls, to forum goers, to leading game developers.

I first interviewed Bruce 4 years ago when he was working as a stock boy in a supermarket. His technology back then showed promise, but I didn’t fully appreciate its potential. When I saw his newly formed company’s one year update published in the first week of August this year, I was pleasantly surprised and jumped at the chance to go and interview him again, on behalf of HardOCP.

You can check out the video interview over here.

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The SandForce round-up Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Thursday, 11 August 2011 07:55

SSDs are becoming ever more tempting in terms of price and, particularly, performance.  With drives based upon SandForce's latest controller dominating the market in some respects, how is the market for SandForce drives looking right now?

It's a depressing time to be covering the consumer SSD market. Although performance is higher than it has ever been, we're still seeing far too many compatibility and reliability issues from all of the major players. Intel used to be our safe haven, but even the extra reliable Intel SSD 320 is plagued by a firmware bug that may crop up unexpectedly, limiting your drive's capacity to only 8MB. Then there are the infamous BSOD issues that affect SandForce SF-2281 drives like the OCZ Vertex 3 or the Corsair Force 3. Despite OCZ and SandForce believing they were on to the root cause of the problem several weeks ago, there are still reports of issues. I've even been able to duplicate the issue internally.

I hate to say it but it's just not that attractive to be in the consumer SSD business. When these drives were selling for $600+ things were different, but it's not too surprising to see that we're still having issues today. What makes it even worse is that these issues are usually caught by end users. Intel's microprocessor division would never stand for the sort of track record its consumer SSD group has delivered in terms of show stopping bugs in the field, and Intel has one of the best track records in the industry!

It's not all about money though. Experience plays a role here as well. If you look at the performance leaders in the SSD space, none of them had any prior experience in the HDD market. Three years ago I would've predicted that Intel, Seagate and Western Digital would be duking it out for control of the SSD market. That obviously didn't happen and as a result you have a lot of players that are still fairly new to this game. It wasn't too long ago that we were hearing about premature HDD failures due to firmware problems, I suspect it'll be a few more years before the current players get to where they need to be. Samsung may be one to watch here going forward as it has done very well in the OEM space. Apple had no issues adopting Samsung controllers, while it won't go anywhere near Marvell or SandForce at this point.

Anandtech discuss some of the current issues plaguing the market, and checks out a bunch of SandForce-based drives.

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NVIDIA expects to ship next-gen Kepler GPU in 2012 Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Wednesday, 10 August 2011 07:50

It's all looking a bit dull in the PC GPU market at the moment, isn't it?  If you're waiting for something particularly new and shiny to show up, it appears that you'll have to wait until 2012, as far as NVIDIA are concerned at least.

Nvidia has clarified a previous statement regarding availability of its next-gen GPU codenamed Kepler. In a nutshell, Nvidia won't be shipping any final products using the new silicon this year. "Although we will have early silicon this year, Kepler-based products are actually scheduled to go into production in 2012. We wanted to clarify this so people wouldn’t expect product to be available this year," said Ken Brown, a spokesman for Nvidia. Both AMD's and Nvidia's upcoming GPUs are slated to use a new 28nm process technology, with the likely possibility of brand new Radeon graphics cards making it into the market before the end of the year.

TechSpot have the news.

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AMD and NVIDIA lose market share as Intel's shipments grow Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Wednesday, 10 August 2011 07:45

The latest graphics board shipment numbers for the last quarter are in, and things aren't looking pretty for AMD and NVIDIA as Intel see large gains to claim 60% of the GPU market.

Intel continues to be the overall market share leader in Q2 2011. The world's largest chipmaker's shipments of graphics adapters soared 19.6% sequentially as sales of CPUs with integrated graphics rose 41% quarter-over-quarter. AMD's shipments of graphics adapters dropped 7.3% QoQ despite of the fact that it managed to increase sales of its microprocessors with built-in graphics accelerators (accelerated processing units, APUs). Although Nvidia sold 5.3% less graphics products in Q2 compared to Q1, it succeeded in securing numerous design wins with its discrete graphics processing units and increased their sales by 30%, according to Jon Peddie Research.

Year to year in Q2 20011 Intel had tremendous market share growth (14.7%), AMD had a loss of 14.2%, and Nvidia slipped 18.4% in the overall market partially due to the company withdrawing from the integrated segments.

For the full numbers, check out X-Bit Labs.

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Kingston Wi-Drive review Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Wednesday, 10 August 2011 07:42

Do you need more storage on your Apple iOS-based device?  Kingston's new Wi-Drive looks to plug this storage gap by acting as a wireless hard disk of sorts for the iPhone, iPad and its ilk.

Although the iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone may not have memory expansion card slots, you can expand the storage capacity of your favorite iOS devices by connecting a Wi-Fi enabled hard drive such as the Kingston Wi-Drive. This sleek little drive comes in capacities of 16GB and 32GB. It connects to your iOS device using Wi-Fi and an app from Kingston.

Besides letting you expand the storage on your iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone, the Wi-Drive can also be accessed by additional users: In fact, up to three users can connect to the Wi-Drive simultaneously. This can be particularly useful for family members, colleagues, or students who need to share and access files from portable devices.

The drive is compatible with the Apple iPad; iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4G (3G is limited to iOS 4.2.1 or higher); and iPod Touch Gen 3 and Gen 4. You can also use the drive with computers running Mac OS X (10.5.x or higher), Windows 7, Windows Vista (SP1, SP2), Windows XP (SP2, SP3), or Linux (v.2.6+ kernel).

Hot Hardware takes a look at this intriguing solution.

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AMD launches Radeon-branded memory modules for PCs Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Wednesday, 10 August 2011 07:36

While other companies are pulling out of the PC memory market, it seems that AMD are entering it (perhaps in an attempt to further round out and control their "platform") with the launch of a series of Radeon-branded memory modules.

AMD plans to offer three series of Radeon memory modules: Entertainment (1333MHz, CL9 9-9), UltraPro Gaming (1600MHz, CL11 11-11) and Enterprise (specs to be determined). Initially, the company only ships 2GB memory modules, according to the official web-site. It is unclear which of the DRAM makers actually produce memory chips (which are marked as 23E64587MCDJ, 6521002 1121) for AMD. Specifications of the memory modules are not truly impressive and performance-demanding users will prefer solutions from companies like Corsair Memory.

At present AMD Radeon Entertainment-series memory modules are available in Tokyo, Japan, Akiba PC Hotline reports. Each module costs ¥1570 ($20.2)

Shipping own-brand memory modules is a rather surprising decision from AMD. Typical DDR3 DRAM modules are commodity products that are available widely from many manufacturers and with different specs. Hardly any PC makers acquire memory modules along with central processing units or mainboards. In fact, the only time when bundling of memory modules with motherboards was more or less mass event was back in 1999, when Intel shipped its i820-based platforms with RIMM memory modules simply because the latter were not available widely.

X-Bit Labs have the story.

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Intel Haswell processor to support DirectX 11.1 graphics capabilities Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Monday, 08 August 2011 08:51

Intel might be late to the DirectX 11 party, but it seems that they already have DirectX 11.1 in their sights for future integrated GPUs.

Even though Intel Corp. is not really concentrated on driving innovation in the fireld of computer graphics, the company cannot ignore demands of its customers and thus continues to improve its built-in graphics cores. The next-gen Ivy Bridge will bring support for DirectX 11 and Haswell will even feature DirectX 11.1 capabilities. Moreover, Intel will continue to certify its graphics cores with software developers to address the market of professional apps.

Intel's microprocessors with integrated graphics engines will get DirectX 11 support only in March or April next year, when the world's largest maker of chips introduces its Ivy Bridge-series of microprocessors with code-named Carlow graphics core with presumably 16 execution units (stream processors). While Intel is clearly late to DirectX 11 party, things may get better with DirectX 11.1. According to a slide, which resembles those from Intel's documents, Intel's code-named Haswell chips due in 2013 will sport Denlow graphics core with DirectX 11.1 and OpenGL 3.2+ support.

X-Bit Labs has the story.

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AMD Catalyst 11.7 WHQL and AMD Catalyst 11.8 preview driver released Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Thursday, 28 July 2011 09:09

They've left it late this month, but it's new driver time from AMD once again.  What's new this time around as they release not one but two new driver sets?

Catalyst 11.7 - Resolved issue highlights:
  • All issues experienced with mouse cursor lag have been resolved
  • Log event (Event ID 62464) issues when playing video content have been resolved
  • Resolves system hangs seen in the AMD Catalyst™ 11.6 driver on specific HDMI and DP displays
  • Bluray playback using PowerDVD 10 under High Performance mode no longer randomly displays a blank screen.
  • Some Divx format files no longer display video corruption using WinDVD.
  • AMD SteadyVideo is now applied to Home Video clips using WinDVD 10.
  • Chequerboard corruption is no longer displayed intermittently when playing DirectX 10 titles in a Crossfire configuration and Eyefinity enabled.
  • Shogun II now renders the cinematics correctly when run in various Eyefinity configurations.
  • Video playback now works correctly when Hardware acceleration is enabled with VLC Player version 1.1.9.
  • Crossfire now functions correctly when playing Hamilton’s Great Adventure.
  • PowerDVD now correctly handles 3D Bluray content.
  • Portal 2 no longer displays flickering on water surface textures with Medium and Low Shader detail settings.
Highlights of the AMD Catalyst™ 11.8 preview driver include:
  • Enables AMD HD3D technology support on DisplayPort panels, such as Samsung 750 and 950 series 3D displays.
  • Improves performance up to 10% in Crysis 2 DirectX 11 version for both non-Anti-Aliasing, and application enabled Anti-Aliasing cases on the AMD Radeon™ HD 6000 and AMD Radeon™ HD 5000 Series
  • Improves performance up to 8% in Fear 3 DirectX 11 version with application enabled Anti-Aliasing on the
  • AMD Radeon™ HD 6000 and AMD Radeon™ HD 5000 Series
  • Improves performance up to 30% when AMD’s Morphological Anti-Aliasing (MLAA) is enabled through the
  • Catalyst™ Control Center on the AMD Radeon™ HD 6000 and AMD Radeon™ HD 5000 Series

As always, you can download the latest WHQL Catalyst driver from the AMD Game web site, while the Catalyst 11.8 preview driver can be found over here.

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