AMD announces upcoming Richland chips, boasts new features, no word as to whether they’ll find their way into Apple products

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Date: Tuesday, March 12th, 2013, 08:50
Category: Hardware, News

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There’s no guarantee that they’ll be in the next MacBook Pro or MacBook Air that you buy, but there’s cool AMD stuff on the horizon.

Per Engadget, AMD has announced that it’s planning to release a fresh batch of low-power APUs just 11 months after Trinity. Known as “Richland”, this generation won’t be vastly different at the silicon level, as it’s built on the same 32nm process as Trinity, has the same number of transistors and offers very similar compute performance in terms of raw GFLOPs. However, there are some noteworthy upgrades in attendance, including a move to Radeon HD 8000M graphic processors, which are claimed to deliver a 20-40 percent increase in “visual performance” in higher-end models, plus power-saving tweaks that should provide over an hour of additional battery life while watching 720p video.

The top-end quad-core A10-5750M is claimed to beat a laptop Core i7 by over 50 percent in terms of 3DMark performance, and even a dual-core A6-5350M is said to have a 20 percent advantage. There’s no sign of any all-round computing benchmarks, however, or even real-world gaming frame rate comparisons, so it’ll be up to later benchmarking efforts somewhere down the line.

Richland should arrive in regular-shaped notebooks (with TDPs between 20 and 35 watts) starting next month, while ultra-thin notebooks (17 watts or less) and desktop parts should get here by the summer. By then, we’ll be a lot closer to the launch of AMD’s Kaveri APUs, which are to due to ship before the end of this year and should represent a more radical leap than Richland. And in the midst of all this, there’s also Intel’s upcoming Haswell architecture, which is set to debut sometime this year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Early iPhone prototype photo gallery posted

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Date: Monday, March 11th, 2013, 07:27
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Pictures

It may not be an exclusive picture of the next-gen iPhone, but it’s interesting to know where the iOS devices you love come from.

Per Ars Technica, a photo gallery has been released of a prototype of the original 2007 iPhone, complete with a 5″x7″ display and a variety of tacked-on ports that were used in testing.


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It’s sort of a Frankenstein mish mash of ports and parts, but it became the device that’s most likely sitting in your pocket right now.

And honestly pretty cool stuff to boot.

Some 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina users report fan issues, SanDisk SSDs could be part of problem

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Date: Monday, March 11th, 2013, 07:29
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

Well, God invented firmware fixes for situations like these…

Per Geek.com, a number of complaints has emanated from owners of Apple’s 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro regarding overactive fans. The issue has been noted in our forums and is the subject of a lengthy thread in Apple’s discussion forums. From one report:

“My first instance of runaway fans was under the lightest of conditions, having only one browser open only a few tabs and a cool computer. The fact it was cold is what is so alarming. Out of nowhere the fans spun up to a roar, stayed there for a few minutes, then decelerated back down to idle. Every so often this happens, usually daily, and it’s horribly annoying on a high quality well engineered computer.
From the list of reports flowing in, users suspect that Apple’s recent shift to using SanDisk solid-state drives in the Retina MacBook Pro may have something to do with the issue, although it is likely a software issue rather than a hardware one.”

Apple support staff have offered mixed responses to the issue, with some customers receiving replacement machines while others have been assured that the behavior is normal. If the issue is indeed a software one as is suspected, Apple should be able to fix it relatively easily with an update pushed out to owners of the affected machines, but it is unclear whether Apple is working on a fix at this time.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Intel, Apple in negotiations for Intel to start making processors for iOS devices

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Date: Thursday, March 7th, 2013, 06:26
Category: Hardware, News, Processors, Rumor

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Maybe a really good partnership CAN live forever…

Per the Chicago Tribune, an anonymous source has cited that executives have over the past year discussed a possible partnership in which Intel’s foundries would be used to manufacture Apple-designed chips. A deal has not yet been reached, the source said.

This is not the first time rumors of an Apple-Intel partnership have cropped up. A report from May 2011 suggested that Intel showed interest in building Apple’s A4 and A5 SoCs, though no action was taken and the idea was apparently shelved as the so-called Ultrabook initiative gained momentum.

Intel is supposedly looking to shift its strategy as PC sales continue to slump as mobile devices, led by tablets like Apple’s iPad, continue to gobble up marketshare. The firm has been looking to expand its foundry business, most recently agreeing to fabricate silicon based on technology from chip maker Altera.

While an agreement to start production of ARM SoCs would likely undercut adoption of Intel’s own Atom mobile processor, the move might be necessary to keep pace with a quickly changing market. The report also speculates that Intel’s replacement for CEO Paul Otellini, who plans to retire in May, may further diversify the company’s contract operations in a bid to keep manufacturing facilities working at full capacity.

As for Apple, a move to Intel is easier to imagine, as the Mac lineup already runs on x86 processors. It has also been rumored that the company wants to distance itself from current A-series SoC manufacturer Samsung, with which it is ensnarled in a worldwide patent struggle. The Korean electronics giant is also Apple’s biggest competition in the mobile marketplace, with a variety of Android-based devices going jockeying for position against iOS products like the iPhone and iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPads could arrive in April, iPhone 5S to hit in August

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Date: Tuesday, March 5th, 2013, 07:03
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, Rumor

The rumor mill continues, but this time it offers a name for the next-gen iPhone as well as potential release dates.

Per iMore, Apple is planning the release of the iPhone 5S for this summer, currently for August. Next generation iPads, presumably the iPad 5 and potentially the iPad mini 2, may also debut as soon as this April.

Sources familiar with the plans have stated that the iPhone 5S does indeed have the same basic design as the iPhone 5, with a more advanced processor and an improved camera. With the iPhone 5, Apple reduced the thinness of the casing but managed to keep essentially the same, if not slightly better, overall quality. With the iPhone 5S, the aim is to once again raise the bar in terms of iPhone optics, including a much better camera in essentially the same casing.

Sources have pointed towards an April-ish launch for the next-generation iPads, albeit this has yet to be confirmed. iPad 5 casings have already begun to leak, although it’s unknown as to whether the iPad mini will receive a Retina display.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Oxford University developing iPad-controlled self-driving car

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Date: Friday, March 1st, 2013, 07:10
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

Ok, this qualifies as beyond cool and thus makes the British that much niftier through their efforts.

Per iMore, Oxford University has modified a Nissan Electric Leaf to become a robotic car controlled by an iPad. The project which it is called “auto drive” enables the car to drive itself for short stretches which could mean a stress free school run for parents or a productive work commute for others.

The system has been developed by the University and uses small cameras and lasers built into the cars bodywork which all link back to a trunk mounted computer. The iPad becomes the front end and is fitted within the car’s dashboard.


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The whole user experience is provided by an iPad which quickly guides the user through the few checks that are needed to induce autonomy. When it is safe to do so, the car offers the drive the chance to be driven automatically. At any time the driver can take back control of the car by touching the brake – it’s exactly like cruise control in an existing vehicle – only this time the car sees obstacles, controls speed and steering.

And since video tends to be awesome, here you go:



There are three computers onboard. The iPad, the LLC (Low Level Controller) and the MVC (Main Vehicle Computer). The iPad runs the user interface and demands constant attention from the LLC. If any of these computers disagree the driver will not be able to start autonomous driving. If at any point there is a problem when the car is in control the human driver is prompted to take control, if they fail to do so the car is automatically brought to a stop.

The car is based on a modified Nissan Leaf which is powered solely by electricity. When you run out of fuel you just need to find a suitable power point rather than a gas station.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Fifth-gen iPad to take after iPad mini, feature slimmer design

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Date: Monday, February 25th, 2013, 08:52
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

Sometimes it’s the leaked case specs that give it away.

Per MacRumors, Apple accessory manufacturer MiniSuit has already created a case for the upcoming fifth-generation iPad, based on data and specifications received from what the site claims is a reliable source.

Case manufacturers (in this case, accessory maker MiniSuit) often obtain case specs ahead of product releases to get a jump on manufacturing. Creating a case based on measurements can be a gamble, but an early case release can be financially beneficial.

The iPad 5 case is slimmer than the fourth-generation iPad case, which supports rumors that the next iPad will share design similarities with the iPad mini, most notably featuring smaller side bezels.

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The back of the case depicts an extra hole, which is for the microphone. The current fourth-generation iPad’s microphone is located at the top of the device, but Apple has relocated the microphone to the back of the iPad 5, as noted in leaked photos of the rear shell of the device.

In addition to slimmer bezels and a smaller size, the iPad 5 is said to be significantly thinner than the iPad 4, featuring the chamfered edges of the iPad mini, which is apparent in the less angled design of the iPad 5 case.

An iPad 5 with a reduced size would likely necessitate a redesign of the interior of the tablet as well, incorporating smaller chip components and a thinner display panel.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple could launch 11 and 13-inch MacBook Air in third quarter

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Date: Tuesday, February 19th, 2013, 08:20
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

The Retina display…it will expand to new models.

And that’s not a bad thing.

Per Macotakara, Apple is apparently in the process of preparing suppliers for the launch of a Retina MacBook Air in Q3 of 2013. The report appears to claim that both 11 and 13-inch of the MacBook Air will launch with Retina displays in addition to an upgrade from Intel’s new Haswell platform. Apple supplier Quanta is expected to begin receiving shipments of the new components in the second quarter.

The report goes again recent reports from analysts predicting a next-gen MacBook Air would land in Q2 or Q3 without a Retina display. We heard last year that Apple was working on MacBook Airs with Retina displays but sources indicated the power drawn from the Retina Displays combined with the thin and light form-factor of the MacBook Air may pose challenges for Apple and its product manufacturers.

It’s unclear what this would mean for Apple’s current lineup of MacBook Air notebooks. If today’s report is true, it’s always possible Apple could keep a non-Retina model of the Air around like it did following the launch of the Retina MacBook Pro.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Previous Apple patent applications reveal plans for line of wearable computing devices

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Date: Tuesday, February 12th, 2013, 08:51
Category: Hardware, News, Patents

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You know that whole iWatch thing? It could be just the tip of the iceberg where Apple and wearable technologies are concerned.

Per AppleInsider and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the company is secretly developing an entire wearable/attachable computing platform and ecosystem comprised of wireless sensing systems for monitoring not only sports activity, athletic training, medicine, fitness, and wellness in humans, but also for tracking packages and industrial production.

The site initially discovered an 83-page patent filing granted to the company that covered a series of wireless sensing systems aimed at quantifying actions or events that can currently be measured only qualitatively, such as the effectiveness of a karate kick or what exactly happened to a package from FedEx that arrived with its contents broken. Industry watchers could think of the technology as a series of Nike FuelBands for nearly all aspects of motion.

Since then, Apple has continued to refine the provisional filing, and on Tuesday was awarded the rights to a continuation of the now divisional patent application under the title “Personal items network, and associated methods.” It makes references to dozens of earlier filings, including several from the company itself dating back to 2001.

A couple of wireless monitoring devices are critical to Apple’s concept, the first of which is called a movement monitor device, or “MMD.” The company says these tiny transmitters can take the form of an adhesive strip similar to a bandage and include a processor, a detector, communications port, and battery. Alternatively, they could assume the form of a credit card and/or include a magnetic element for adhering to metal objects. In any of the cases, they’d ideally also include a real time clock so that the transmitter can tag “events” with time and date information.

In one aspect, the MMD continuously relays a movement metric by continuous transmission of data from the detector to a RR. In this way, a MMD attached to a person may beneficially track movement, in real time, of that person by recombination of the movement metrics at a remote computer. In one aspect, multiple MMDs attached to a person quantify movement of a plurality of body parts or movements, for example to assist in athletic training (e.g., for boxing or karate).

“In another aspect, multiple MMDs attached to an object quantify movement of a plurality of object parts or movements, for example to monitor or assess different components or sensitive parts of an object. For example, multiple MMDs can be attached to an expensive medical device to monitor various critical components during shipment; when the device arrives at the customer, these MMDs are interrogated to determine whether any of the critical components experienced undesirable conditions–e.g., a high impact or temperature or humidity.”

MMDs could also be capable of measuring temperature, humidity, moisture, altitude and pressure. These environmental metrics would be combined into an MMD with a detector that facilitates the monitoring of movement metrics. And they “can practically attach to almost anything to obtain movement information,” the filing claims.

By way of example, an MMD can be mounted to the helmet or body armor of each football player or motocross competitor to monitor movement and jerk of the athlete. In such applications, data from the MMD preferably transmits event data in real time to a RR in the form of a network, so that MMD data associated with each competitor is available for broadcast to a scoreboard, TV or the Internet. Other advantages should be apparent in the description within.”

Event Monitoring Devices:
The second kind wireless monitoring device Apple describes in its filing is called an Event Monitoring Device, or “EMD,” which can be used to monitor and report humidity, chemicals, heart rate, pulse, pressure, stress, weight, environmental factors and hazardous conditions. Nearly identical in structure, composition, and operation to MMDs, EMDs monitor one or more metrics for “events,” where data is acquired that exceeds some predetermined threshold or value.

In [one] example, the detector and processor collectively monitor stress events, where for example it is determined that the EMD attached to a human senses increased heart rate of over 180 beats per minute (an exemplary “event” threshold). In still another aspect, the detector is a chemical (or pH) detector and the processor and detector collectively determine a change of chemical composition of an object connected with the EMD over some preselected time period.

Apple goes on in the filing to describe how MMDs and EMDs can monitor and enhance activities and live broadcasts of Nascar races, marathons, rodeos, bike races, and extreme sports. They could also be applied to body armor and used for weight monitoring.

Apple receives patent for “microslot antennas”, could see improvements in wireless functionality in coming years

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Date: Tuesday, February 12th, 2013, 08:01
Category: Hardware, iOS, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, wireless

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Your notebook and iOS device’s wireless system could be getting that much niftier.

Per AppleInsider and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple on Tuesday won the patent rights to “microslot antenna” technology that allows micron-wide antenna assets to be integrated into the housing of a portable device, such as an iPhone, making them nearly invisible to the human eye.

As portable electronics become thinner and more compact with each successive generation, internal space is quickly becoming a limiting factor to device designers. Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,373,610 for “Microslot antennas for electronic devices,” granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, could drastically cut down on the size of at least one component needed to create products like the iPhone.

While the patent refers to implementations in a laptop computer, the antenna tech can be used in other portable electronics like smartphones and tablets.

With Apple’s current technology as seen in the iPhone 5, two internal radio antennas dynamically switch between multiple frequency bands, including those carrying fast LTE data. In order to fit the units within the handset’s slim body, Apple had to design a window for radio waves, while keeping the unit small enough to leave room for other important structures like the logic board and battery.

Tuesday’s patent focuses on so-called “microslot antenna” technology, or “dielectric-filled microslots that are formed in a ground plane element.” According to the invention, the ground plane can be a device’s housing as long as it is conductive, meaning the slots would be integrated on the outer hull of a product. The system can also support multiple communications bands, meaning functionality would not be compromised for size enhancements.

As for the size of the microslots, the patent language states that the widths of the slots are usually significantly less than their lengths. For example, widths can range from microns to hundreds of microns, while a microslot’s length can be on the order of millimeters or centimeters.

Filling the slots is a dielectric such as epoxy, plastic, air or other suitable substance that prevents foreign matter from entering. Antenna feeds can be located at or between the functional microslots, and operate on common communication bands that support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and 3G cellular, among others.

The ’601 property was first filed for in December 2007, less than six months after the original iPhone debuted, and credits Bing Chiang, Gregory Allen Springer, Douglas B. Kough, Enrique Ayala and Matthew Ian McDonald as its inventors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.