Samsung Releases 1GHz Hummingbird Processor for Future Smartphones

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Date: Monday, July 27th, 2009, 07:41
Category: Processors

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Electronics giant Samsung unveiled a new ARM processor intended for future smartphones. Per MacNN, the processor, nicknamed “Hummingbird”, uses the same Cortex-A8 architecture as the chip in the iPhone 3GS but clocks at 1GHz, significantly higher than the 833MHz of its previous best. The feat is accomplished both by a smaller, more energy-efficient 45 nanometer process as well as partly customized circuits designed to handle the load.

Samsung has stated the processor can handle up to 2 billion instructions per second but will consume only 640mW of power and doesn’t need more than 1V of voltage. As a Cortex-A8 chip, Hummingbird is a dual-issue (two instructions at a time) processor with special media extensions, known as Neon, that can speed up common audio or video tasks.

Specific customers haven’t been named for the processor, although Samsung makes it clear it sees Hummingbird reaching “advanced mobile devices” once it’s turned into standard system-on-chip processors. Apple has been one of Samsung’s larger customers for ARM processors, although it has typically underclocked the processor for the iPhone to accommodate the heat concerns in the tight enclosure.

iPhone 3GS Hardware Encryption Cracked in Two Minutes

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Date: Monday, July 27th, 2009, 05:35
Category: iPhone 3GS, security

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As cool as the recently-released iPhone 3GS may be, there may be room for improvement. According to a blog entry over on Wired’s Gadget Lab, iPhone Forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski describes how the hardware encryption of the iPhone 3Gs can be worked around and demonstrates how both the passcode and backup encryption can be bypassed in about two minutes.

Zdziarski goes on to comment that all data on the iPhone, including deleted data, is automatically decrypted by the iPhone when it’s copied, allowing users and law enforcement agencies alike access the device’s raw disk as if no encryption were present. A second demonstration features the recovery of the iPhone’s entire disk while the device is still passcode-locked.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve heard anything about this, let us know in the comments.

iPhone OS 3.1 to Support Augmented Reality Applications, New Snow Leopard Seed Distributed

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Date: Monday, July 27th, 2009, 04:16
Category: Software

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Recently, Apple released word that its upcoming iPhone OS 3.1 firmware will be the first to officially support augmented reality apps that support the iPhone 3GS’ camera. Such programs would allow for more extended use of the iPhone 3GS’ improved camera and overlay information and controls on top of real-world objects seen through a camera.

Per AppleInsider, iPhone OS 3.1 has so far only been known to expose some video camera controls for developers, third-party producer Acrossair was told by Apple that the future release would be needed for its Nearest Tube and future Nearest Subway apps to work properly.

These applications are already highly dependent on the built-in compass and autofocusing camera of the iPhone 3GS, both of which are needed to alternately recognize the direction the iPhone is facing as well as to get a detailed enough look at a subject to tag it with information. As a demonstration of the technology, Acrossair’s software can show the subway stops visible in a particular direction and their distance relative to the user.

iPhone OS 3.1 is anticipated to be ready by early September, just in time for Apple’s by now yearly iPod updates. The release could also dovetail with the seemingly probable release of an iPod touch with a camera that could take advantage of augmented reality when using Wi-Fi.

On Friday, Apple distributed Mac OS X Snow Leopard build 10A421. The update comes just ten days after 10A411 and is said by people familiar with the changes to be very modest on the surface, including general compatibility, security and stability fixes.

Apple’s increased frequency in providing updated Mac OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) builds is expected with just weeks left before the revision is due to reach stores, as the company will now be looking to isolate and fix the remaining obvious bugs instead of changing functionality.