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Apple begins ordering NAND Flash memory from alternate vendors, works to curb reliance on Samsung

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Date: Thursday, September 22nd, 2011, 03:42
Category: Finance, News, retail

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When in doubt, find another supplier.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is increasing purchases of flash memory from Japanese suppliers in an effort to scale back its dependance on Samsung for components, as the two companies continue their legal dispute.

DigiTimes on Thursday cited industry sources as saying that Apple has tapped Toshiba and Elpida Memory for orders of DRAM and NAND flash.

“Apple has moved to reduce its reliance on memory supplies from Samsung Electronics, the sources claimed,” the report read. “The vendor has procured more NAND flash parts from Toshiba, and mobile RAM from Elpida, the sources indicated.”

The tipsters also suggested that the ongoing legal dispute between Apple and Samsung has been “key to encouraging” Apple to broaden its supplier base. According to the report, the Korean electronics giant has been the largest component supplier for Apple’s products in the past.

Last week, reports emerged that Apple had signed a foundry agreement with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to manufacture the next two generations of Apple processors. The deal has been viewed as a significant blow to Samsung, which was contracted to produce the A4 and A5 chips used to power Apple’s iOS devices.

Apple is slated to be Samsung’s largest customer this year with a projected US$7.8 billion in parts, up from US$5.7 billion in 2010. The company has become the world’s largest consumer of memory chips in recent years as it incorporated flash storage into its products.

In 2005, Apple revealed that it had reached agreements with several flash suppliers, including Samsung, to pre-pay more than US$1 billion to guarantee flash shipments through 2010. Earlier this year, then COO Tim Cook called the deal a “fantastic use of Apple’s cash.”

For its part, Samsung currently boasts a more than 40 percent share of the worldwide DRAM market and a 30 percent share of NAND flash production.

The disagreement between the two companies has heightened in recent months. According to Samsung executives speaking on condition of anonymity, the company is already planning to target the as-yet-unannounced iPhone 5 with patent infringement suits when it arrives in Korea. Another recent report said Samsung will also pursue legal action against Apple’s next-generation handset in Europe.

Recent gains made by Apple in Australia have prompted Samsung to fight back with a countersuit against the iPhone and iPad. Apple also won a permanent ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany earlier this month after a court ruled that Samsung’s tablet looks too similar to the iPad 2.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Final Cut Pro X 10.0.1 update, works to make amends to Final Cut Pro user base

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 21st, 2011, 04:41
Category: News, Software

Sometimes an app needs a major reboot to make amends to its user base.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday issued a major update for its recently refreshed Final Cut Pro X video editing software.

The free update to version 10.0.1 was revealed by Apple in a special page devoted to it its official website. The page highlights new features in the latest version of Final Cut Pro X, including media stems export, Rich XML support, and projects and events on Xsan.

Commenting on the update with Jim Dalrymple of The Loop on Tuesday, Richard Townhill, senior director of applications marketing at Apple, said the features were added after the company received feedback from its users.

“We listened to the pros and have taken their top feature requests and put them in this update,” Townhill said.

The full list of features of the new update, which is available free to those who have already purchased Final Cut Pro X, are described by Apple:

Media Stems Export: Traditional, track-based editing systems require you to constantly rearrange and disable tracks to export audio and video stems. With the latest version of Final Cut Pro X, flexible metadata removes the burden of track management. Use the new Roles tag to label clips — dialogue, effects, music, and more — then export a single multitrack file or separate stems based on your tags. You can even apply Roles to video clips and graphics for a powerful new way to deliver separate files for versioning and localization.

Rich XML Support: Now you can import and export Final Cut Pro X project and Event information via a rich XML format. XML interchange enables a wide range of third-party workflows, including high-end visual effects, color grading, and media asset management. Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve, Square Box System’s CatDV, and many other third-party applications will offer XML-based workflows with Final Cut Pro X.

Projects and Events on Xsan: Create and edit your Final Cut Pro X projects and Events on Xsan. Ideal for multi-user workflows, you can import media through Final Cut Pro X and place it directly on the SAN. Multiple users can access the same source media, and each editor can create separate projects and Events on the SAN. Users can then edit from any system attached to the SAN, making it easy to move between computers and continue working.

Custom Starting Timecode: Set the start time of your project to a custom timecode value to accommodate color bars and tone, or to meet broadcast delivery specifications.

Full-screen view in Lion: Use every inch of your display when working in Final Cut Pro X. And easily navigate to other applications with a swipe.

One-step Transitions on Connected Clips: Add a transition to a connected clip or between multiple connected clips without manually creating a secondary storyline.

GPU-accelerated export: Harness the power of the GPU on your graphics card to speed up foreground export.

New Theme: Tribute: Access the new Tribute theme, with four animated titles and a matching transition.

Camera Import SDK: Camera manufacturers can use the Camera Import SDK to write plug-ins for importing media from a wide range of cameras. For example, Sony is updating their XDCAM EX plug-in to support native import directly into Final Cut Pro X.

Apple has also promised two new features coming in “early 2012:” multicam editing and broadcast-quality video monitoring. No additional details on those features were provided.

In addition, a new free trial of the software is now available from the official Final Cut Pro X site. Users must enter their name and e-mail address and to be allowed to try the software for 30 days.

Apple’s update comes after the company faced user backlash over the new Final Cut Pro X, released in June. The software was quickly met with condemnation from a group of outspoken professionals who believe the new product is vastly inferior to its predecessor.

Apple made a quick transition to Final Cut Pro X, declaring Final Cut Studio, Express and Server — which included Final Cut Pro 7 — as “end of life” products once the latest version was released.

Faced with growing complaints, Apple resumed sales of the previous, US$999 version of Final Cut Studio earlier this month. Orders have only been taken over the phone, and Apple has said it has a “limited quantity” of the end-of-life product. The company has also provided refunds to some dissatisfied customers.

User discontent over Final Cut Pro X proved to be a gain for rival Adobe and its own video editing software for Mac OS X. The company revealed earlier this month that sales of its Mac video editing products saw a 45 percent boost following the release of Final Cut Pro X.

Final Cut Pro X 10.0.1 requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run and retails for US$299.99

If you’ve tried version 10.0.1 of Final Cut Pro X and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Google Chrome updated to 14.0.835.186, resolves Flash Player vulnerability

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 21st, 2011, 04:32
Category: News, Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 14.0.835.186 for the Mac. The new version, a 38.9 megabyte download, offers the following changes:

- This release includes an update to Flash Player that addresses a zero-day vulnerability.

Google Chrome 14.0.835.186 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Leaked town hall meeting notes point toward T-Mobile not receiving iPhone 5 in 2011

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 20th, 2011, 09:26
Category: iPhone, News

It’s turning into a weird year for T-Mobile.

Per TmoNews, an image has surfaced from an internal news posting with T-Mobile USA sharing word from Chief Marketing Officer Cole Brodman that the carrier will not be offering the iPhone 5 this year. Brodman’s comment apparently came as part of a September 15th company town hall meeting.

“Our business is working very hard to improve performance over the last couple of years and we’ve had some great success,” said Brodman. New products and value plans are fueling customer response, he added, and Brodman expects the excitement to continue into the holiday season as T-Mobile introduces two new smartphones. Note: “We are not going to get the iPhone 5 this year,” Brodman said.
Brodman’s comment does not eliminate the possibility of T-Mobile offering the iPhone 5 at some point in the future, but it seems that the carrier will not be a launch partner for the device.

Several mainstream media reports have claimed that Sprint will become the third major U.S. carrier to offer the iPhone with the debut of the iPhone 5 next month, but the fate of the iPhone on T-Mobile USA has been less clear. Despite a few claims of a T-Mobile iPhone coming this year and evidence of prototypes for testing on the carrier’s network, there had yet to be any solid reports of an launch from mainstream sources.

T-Mobile’s status is of course complicated by AT&T’s efforts to acquire the carrier, and effort that is being opposed by the U.S. government, Sprint, and a number of other groups.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel quietly mentions 4K support, could introduce higher screen resolutions under upcoming Ivy Bridge architecture

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Date: Tuesday, September 20th, 2011, 06:48
Category: Hardware, News, Software

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The Retina Display: it’s never been a bad thing.

Per VR-Zone, Intel quietly revealed last week that its next-generation Ivy Bridge processors will support the 4K display resolution, with up to 4096 x 4096 pixels per monitor, potentially paving the way for Apple to introduce high-resolution “Retina Display” Macs.

The company announced the news during a technical session at its Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco last week, as noted by VR-Zone. Ivy Bridge chips will rival competing discrete GPUs by including support for the 4K resolution when they arrive next year.

The company also highlighted a Multi Format Codec (MFX) engine that is capable of playing multiple 4K videos at once. The codec is also capable of handling video processing for 4K QuadHD video, a standard that YouTube began supporting last year.

A set of performance enhancements, with special attention to graphics, should give Ivy Bridge as much as a 60 percent performance boost over the current generation of Sandy Bridge chips, according to Intel.

Intel also revealed last week that Ivy Bridge chips will include support for Apple’s OpenCL standard, which should give a performance boost to next-generation MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro models when they arrive in 2012.

If Apple were to introduce a 4K resolution display with the 16:9 ratio currently used in its Thunderbolt Display, iMac and MacBook Air products, the resulting resolution would be 4096 x 2304. A 27-inch display with 4K resolution would sport a pixel density of 174 pixels per inch. Assuming a working distance of 24 inches and 20/20 vision for the calculations, a 4K 27-inch iMac or Thunderbolt display would count as a “Retina Display.”

Apple first began using the “Retina Display” marketing term with the iPhone 4 last year. Then CEO Steve Jobs touted the 326ppi display as being beyond the capabilities of the human retina when used at a distance of 12 or more inches from the eyes.

In September 2010, the company released a Retina Display iPod touch. Rumors have also swirled that Apple will follow suit with a high-resolution version of the third-generation iPad, doubling the resolution of the tablet to 2048 x 1536.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Kazaa resurfaces in iOS form, service recrafted as subscription-based music service

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 20th, 2011, 05:04
Category: News, Software

It’s usually a better idea to run things above the board.

Per iPodNN, former filesharing service Kazaa has released an app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

The app allows subscribers to listen to an unlimited amount of music for a monthly fee. It can download songs and save playlists for offline listening. The Kazaa app also provides a social media function that shows subscribers what songs their friends are listening to or recommend.

Earlier this year, Kazaa was encouraging iPad and iPhone owners to use its browser-based service, possibly to avoid the App Store’s 30 percent royalty on purchases.

In its first incarnation, Kazaa was the largest peer-to-peer network in the world. It was sued by the Recording Industry Association of America on behalf of the four major US record labels. Kazaa settled the case five years ago for US$100 million and reinvented itself as a subscription-based digital music service.

The app (free, App Store) comes with a one week free trial, then changes to a US$10 per month subscription and requires iOS 4.2 or later to install and run.

Apple to reset iCloud backup function on September 22nd, may release final iCloud version in near term

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Date: Monday, September 19th, 2011, 09:00
Category: iCloud, News, Software

Backing up might be a bit weird on Thursday.

Per iLounge, Apple has posted an announcement on its developer site for both iOS and Mac developers noting that it will reset all iCloud backup data on September 22nd.

“On Thursday, September 22, the iCloud Backup data will be reset. Backing up to iCloud or restoring from an iCloud backup will be unavailable from 9 AM PDT – 5 PM PDT,” the message reads. “If you attempt a backup or restore during this time, you will receive an alert that the backup or restore was not successful. After this reset, you will be unable to restore from any backup created prior to September 22. A full backup will happen automatically the next time your device backs up to iCloud.”

Registered developers have had access to iCloud for testing purposes during the iOS 5 beta period, as the service will launch alongside iOS 5 this fall. A report from last week—which incorrectly suggested that iOS 5 beta 8 would be released last Friday—claimed that Apple would release the Gold Master (GM) build of iOS 5 on or around September 23, which would coincide with this iCloud data reset.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon announces “network optimization”/bandwidth throttling for heaviest data users

Posted by:
Date: Monday, September 19th, 2011, 03:00
Category: iPhone, News

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After first notifying customers of the upcoming practice in February, Verizon has now put “network optimization practices” into effect that will throttle the bandwidth of the top 5 percent of data users on its network, just weeks ahead of the launch of Apple’s iPhone 5.

Per DroidLife, the wireless carrier has notified customers that, beginning Thursday, the practice has gone into effect.

“Beginning 9/15, we will start identifying customers who meet these criteria and will expand to others in the base after customer communications are completed. Network Optimization Practices only goes into effect when an Internet or Smartphone device with an unlimited plan/feature falls into the top 5% of data usage and is on a congested cell site,” the company wrote in an email to customers.

Users marked for the periodic speed reduction will have the limitation last for the remainder of the current billing cycle and into the following. According to Verizon, the top 5 percent of data users on its network use 2GB or more of data each month.

A FAQ on the company’s website indicates that full implementation of the program may take several weeks.

Verizon representatives are reportedly being told to recommend that customers either upgrade to a 4G Long-Term Evolution device, migrate to a usage-based (tiered) data plan or use Wi-Fi more often in order to avoid throttling.

In response to criticism over the policy, Verizon alleges that it is not throttling the same way as its competitors AT&T and T-Mobile are, as it is only slowing connections when users are on a congested cell site. In July, AT&T announced that it would begin reducing the speeds of the top 5 percent of its heaviest data users.

The new policy comes into effect within weeks of the expected launch of Apple’s next-generation iPhone. Verizon has said it expects to participate in a simultaneous launch of the so-called iPhone 5 alongside AT&T, and possibly Sprint. The iPhone 5 is widely believed to sport a faster A5 processor and an 8-megapixel camera.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple support note advises against daisy-chaining Thunderbolt-equipped displays

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Date: Monday, September 19th, 2011, 03:27
Category: Hardware, News

Apple’s new Thunderbolt-equipped displays are getting good reviews and can do a fair number of things.

But they can’t be daisy-chained.

According to an Apple support document, the company has noted that previous DisplayPort screens will not work when attached to the Thunderbolt port of its new display.

Thunderbolt-equipped Macs can support one or two Thunderbolt Displays, depending on the Thunderbolt chip in the system.

Apple notes that MacBook Airs support one external Thunderbolt Display in addition to their built in screen, while MacBook Pros, iMacs and the Mac mini can all support two Thunderbolt Displays.

With two external displays, the lowest end 13 inch MacBook Pro will lose the ability to drive its built in screen, while the highest end Mac mini with discrete AMD graphics can support two Thunderbolt Displays in addition to a third screen attached to its HDMI port.

However, users with an existing Mini DisplayPort external monitor will not be able to daisy chain the screen from the back of the new Thunderbolt Display, despite it being physically compatible with the port. Apple notes that “Mini DisplayPort displays will not light up if connected to the Thunderbolt port on an Apple Thunderbolt Display.”

Existing Mini DisplayPort screens, such as Apple’s LED Cinema Display, have never previously supported daisy chaining multiple screens to a single Mini DisplayPort interface, but the screens are supposed to work at the end of a Thunderbolt chain if there are no other displays in the chain.

Having any other screen in the Thunderbolt chain will kill ability of previous, non-Thunderbolt displays from being able to receive the DisplayPort signal, negating their forward compatibility with the new Thunderbolt standard.

The new Thunderbolt Display just began shipping to users yesterday after Apple released firmware updates for its new Thunderbolt-equipped Macs to solve remaining issues with working with the new screens.

In addition to serving as an external screen with stereo speakers, a FaceTime camera and a Magsafe power supply for powering a connected notebook, the new Thunderbolt Display also incorporates the features of a docking station, supplying connected Thunderbolt Macs with Gigabit Ethernet, three additional USB 2.0 ports, Firewire 800 and an additional Thunderbolt port.

Apple recommends that users connect storages devices to the display’s Thunderbolt port rather than connecting the display further down the chain.

If you’ve received a new Thunderbolt-equipped Apple display and have feedback regarding it, please let us know what you think in the comments.

Intel announces 710 series enterprise-class SSD units, talks up endurance factor

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 16th, 2011, 09:09
Category: News

Solid-state drives: They’re getting prolific.

And that’s never a bad thing.

Per Macworld, Intel on Wednesday announced the new 710 series solid-state drives, the company currently pitching the units as a replacement to hard drives in enterprise servers.

The SSDs will come with capacities ranging from 100GB to 300GB and include features to protect data and enhance the life of the drives. The drives replace the previous X25-E SSDs, which were also targeted at enterprises, and have 30 times more endurance than conventional hard drives featuring moving parts.

The drives are priced starting at US$649 for the 100GB version to US$1929 for the 300GB drive, when purchased in quantities of 1,000.

The drives feature multilevel cell technologies, which store bits of data at multiple levels in each cell, but provide the endurance of typical single-level cell (SLC) SSDs, where a bit of data is stored per cell. SLCs are considered faster and more reliable than MLCs in terms of endurance cycles.

The SSD achieves a random write performance, measured in 4K blocks, of up to 2700 I/O operations per second (IOPS) and read performance of up to 38,500 IOPS. It has a write endurance of up to 1.1 petabytes.

The Intel SSD 710 includes a technology called HET (high endurance technology), which combines firmware enhancements, management features and algorithms to reduce data errors, Intel said.

The SSDs will be offered with Cisco’s UCS B230 M2 two-socket server starting in September, Intel and Cisco said in a joint statement.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.