O'Grady's PowerPage » Hardware

Intel details specs for upcoming i7 “Haswell” processor

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 2nd, 2013, 06:59
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

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The next-gen stuff always looks pretty sexy…

Per AppleInsider and Engadget, a document released on Wednesday sheds some light on Intel’s forthcoming Core i7 processors, which will boast new integrated graphics silicon that promises to double or even triple performance compared to existing models.

Alongside a new iteration of the “Intel HD Graphics” series, dubbed HD 5000, Intel is introducing the “Iris” and “Iris Pro” tiers to its graphics lineup with Haswell, effectively creating a three-tier system for its upcoming Core i7 offerings. Apple is expected to use products from the newest family of processors when the company refreshes its Mac lineup later this year.

As is the case with every new generation of CPUs, there will be an across the board performance boost with the fourth-generation Core i7 chips. However, while previous generational changes brought only slight gains to Intel’s respective Ultrabook, notebook and desktop class lineups, Iris and Iris Pro will enjoy huge gains, in some cases showing threefold improvements.

The options start out with HD 5000 for 15W TDP (Thermal Design Power) U-series chips, and move to the new Iris graphics with 28W U-series silicon. Iris Pro, which uses embedded DRAM instead of shared system memory, promises to double the speed of current 47-55W H-series laptop processors. Most intriguing is a tripling in 3D rendering speeds for 65-84W R-series desktop CPUs.

According to Intel’s documentation, Iris Pro will also be available on certain M-series laptop and K-series desktop chips.

The 11- and 13-inch MacBook Air currently uses two U-series chips — a 17W dual-core Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor in its standard configuration and an optional Core i7 version. Apple uses M-series Core i5 and i7 chips for its MacBook Pro and MacBook Pro with Retina Display products.

Intel also detailed the three tiers’ feature sets, which support DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 4 and OpenCL 1.2. Display modes include “enhanced” 4K and 2K output and a 3-screen collage, which looks to eschew the need for a discrete graphics card for multi-panel setups.

Full specs, including those pertaining to non-graphics processing performance, are slated to be revealed , one day prior to the Computex Taipei trade show.

Belkin releases long-anticipated Thunderbolt Express Dock accessory

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 30th, 2013, 07:00
Category: Accessory, Hardware, News

It took over a year following its announcement to get here, but it’s finally on the market.

Per AppleInsider, the Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock, first announced in January of 2012, is now available for purchase for US$299, more than a year after the Mac accessory was unveiled.

The docking station allows users to have instant access to 8 ports by connecting just one high-speed Lightning cable to their Mac. The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock includes:
- One Gigabit Ethernet port

- One Firewire 800 port

- One Thunderbolt port for daisy-chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices

- One 3.5 millimeter headphone output jack

- One 3.5 millimeter audio input jack

- Three USB 3.0 ports with max data transfer of 2.5Gbps

- Cable management channel


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The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock is compatible with all recent Macs equipped with Thunderbolt ports, including the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Belkin boasts that the high speed of Thunderbolt allows users to download a high-definition feature film in 30 seconds, or sync a year’s worth of continuous music in 10 minutes.

The Thunderbolt Express Dock was first announced by Belkin at the Consumer Electronics Show in early 2012. At the time, the company said the accessory would become available last September, but that launch date was missed.

Since the original unveiling, the hardware has been upgraded to include three USB 3.0 ports. The originally announced hardware featured USB 2.0 ports running at slower speeds.

But the shipping accessory has also lost an HDMI out port, which was also initially planned to be included with the docking station.

If you’ve ordered a Thunderbolt Express Dock and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to debut updated MacBook models at this year’s WWDC

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 29th, 2013, 06:03
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

If there’s one new-ish rule of the universe, it’s that Apple chooses when it gets to hold its dog and pony shows.

And the next one might be during the Worldwide Developers Conference this June.

Per AppleInsider, noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities believes Apple will showcase updated MacBook Pro models at its upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference in June, with the most notable upgrade being the move to Intel’s next-generation Haswell family of processors.

Kuo, who has a reliable track record in predicting Apple’s product plans, said in a research note that while the Cupertino company is likely to bump its current MacBook lineup to Intel’s latest platform, speculated upgrades like a MacBook Air with Retina display are unlikely.

While no major design changes are thought to be in store for WWDC, Kuo now thinks Apple will keep the optical drive-toting MacBook Pro alive alongside the company’s most advanced MacBook Pro with Retina display and MacBook Air models. The analyst previously forecast Apple would retire the line as it moved to all-Retina product offerings.

“There is still demand in emerging markets, where Internet penetration isn’t advanced, for optical disk drives,” he said of the 13- and 15-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro. Apple’s top-tier MacBook lineup eschewed the previous built-in SuperDrive in a bid to slim down the chassis and cut weight.

For the consumer market, Kuo said the biggest change to the MacBook lineup in 2013 will be the introduction of Intel’s Haswell processor, which replaces the Ivy Bridge architecture currently used in the company’s computers. Intel recently announced that Haswell will be unveiled on June 3, one day prior to the Computex Taipei trade show.

Kuo believes the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro will begin shipping by the end of the second quarter, close to the forecasted WWDC launch, while the MacBook Pro with Retina display will see release later in the year due to low yield of the notebook’s high-resolution panels.

Apple has traditionally used WWDC as an opportunity to launch innovative new products, with last year’s event seeing the debut of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display.

WWDC 2013 is scheduled to run from June 10 through 14 at Moscone West in San Francisco. Tickets to the conference sold out in less than two minutes, breaking the previous record of about two hours.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple’s Tim Cook dismisses larger screen rumors for iPhone, cites trade-offs

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 24th, 2013, 06:10
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

It’s the post-event questions that get interesting.

Per iMore, asked during today’s Q2 2013 fiscal results conference call as to whether or not Apple’s and CEO Tim Cook’s disinclination towards larger screens has changed, Cook said that there are a number of trade-offs that have come with larger screens. He said that Apple’s own research has revealed while some customers obviously place value on larger screen sizes (those giant Samsung, LG, and HTC phones wouldn’t be selling otherwise), others value resolution, color quality, brightness, portability, and app compatibility. He said that “our competitors have made significant trade-offs in many of these areas” and that Apple would not launch a larger-screen iPhone while these trade-offs exist.

It’s worth taking into consideration that Apple said similar things running up to the launch of the iPhone 5 and its larger screen, and Cook said as recently as the last quarter that he’s happy with the 4-inch screen. It’s also worth nothing that while Cook says he believes the iPhone 5 has “the absolute best display in the industry”, the advent of 1080p smartphone screens has obviated some of his stated advantages such as resolution.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Purported images of next-gen iPhone camera leaked

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 19th, 2013, 07:50
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

You’ve gotta admit, Apple doesn’t let people down when it comes to its built-in cameras.

Per French Web site NoWhereElse.fr, a leaked image purporting to show off a camera component and another piece of a supposed “iPhone 5S” have hit the Internet, fanning the rumors that Apple’s follow-up to the iPhone 5 is on deck.

One of the components featured in the supposed leak is what appears to be a front-facing camera, similar in appearance to the one built in to the iPhone 5. The serial number shown on the “leaked” part is similar to the one seen on the iPhone 5 part, notes NoWhereElse.fr. The flexible portion where the component connects to a motherboard, though, is apparently quite different from the one seen on the iPhone 5 component.


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Friday’s report also brought images of another supposed component, though its function is unclear.

The same site previously leaked components that went into Apple’s new Lightning connector, and the site has shown off other parts said to be from an “iPhone 5S” or an “iPhone 6,” as well as a supposed cover glass surface from a fifth-generation iPad.

The new images appear to add to the rumors that Apple will bring a rapid follow-up to its iPhone 5, iPad, and iPad mini, and possibly introduce a lower-cost iPhone model in the near future. Currently, rumors have the Cupertino company releasing new devices some time over the summer.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Microsoft’s Xbox, Kinect employees helping to develop smartwatch

Posted by:
Date: Friday, April 19th, 2013, 06:40
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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Microsoft is prototyping its own wrist-worn device. According to The Verge, a reliable source familiar with Microsoft’s Xbox plans has revealed that the company has been developing a wrist-worn device for just over a year. Microsoft was initially rumored to release a “Joule” heart rate monitor accessory for the Xbox, but the company has since decided to focus on a smartwatch instead. The Wall Street Journal first reported on Microsoft’s plans earlier this week, citing unnamed supply chain sources who claim Microsoft has requested 1.5-inch displays from component manufacturers.

Microsoft’s smartwatch is said to be in the prototype phase, with teams who have worked on Xbox accessories and the Kinect sensor focused on the device. The device apparently features removable bands attached to a 1.5-inch touch display. One prototype includes the same magnetic power connector that Microsoft uses on its Surface tablets. The MagSafe-like connector is made up of five pins and can transmit both power and data, but we’re told this is only a prototype and a final design may omit the connector.

Microsoft previously fielded a range of smartwatches back in 2004 under the SPOT brand. The devices used FM radio signals to obtain news, weather forecasts, and stock information. Microsoft discontinued the devices in 2008, shuttering the service fully last year. Microsoft’s Bill Buxton recently outlined the 37-year history of smartwatches at a talk during the company’s TechFest research event. At the time, we speculated Microsoft may re-enter a market it tried to kickstart years ago, and it looks like that may soon be a reality.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPad to be 15% thinner, 25% lighter, use smaller, more efficient battery

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 18th, 2013, 07:14
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

This could be nifty.

Per MacRumors, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has on a number of occasions offered accurate information on Apple’s product plans, recently published a new research note outlining his expectations for Apple’s fifth-generation iPad. Kuo expects mass production and shipments of the new iPad to ramp up in the August-September timeframe, with the device registering roughly 15% thinner and 25% lighter than the current full-size iPad.

The new version’s expected dimensions, which are purported to be 7.5-8.0mm thick, will be 15% thinner than iPad 4. The new device will likely be about 500 grams, or some 25% lighter than iPad 4, run on an A7X processor, and sport cameras with similar specs to the iPad 4’s (front HD, rear 5MP). The casing shape and color (silver and black) and narrow bezel design will be similar to the iPad mini’s.

The prediction of a 7.5-8.0 mm thickness is in line with previous claims that the next iPad will see a roughly 2 mm reduction from the current 9.5 mm thickness.

Kuo predicts that Apple will adopt the same GF2 touch technology used in the iPad mini, enabling Apple to design a thinner display for the new full-size iPad. In addition, more efficient display and chip technologies are expected to bring down the device’s overall power consumption, allowing for a smaller and thinner battery.

The battery is expected to be 25-30% smaller, at 8,500-9,000mAh, than the iPad 4’s, and the battery’s thickness will be 15-20% smaller, at 7.5-8.0mm, and the number of cells will be reduced to two from three.

As for the chip powering the iPad 5, Kuo believes that Apple will be sticking with Samsung for a new A7X chip that will take advantage of Samsung’s 28-nanometer process node. There have been reports that Apple will be shifting its A-series chip production to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), but it appears that Kuo believes that transition has a bit further time horizon, in line with rumors that a partnership between Apple and TSMC for 20-nanometer A7 chips will not begin production until early 2014.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Foxconn begins gearing up for iPhone 5S mass production

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 16th, 2013, 07:38
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

Don’t worry…your next-gen iPhone is en route.

Or at least being constructed.

Per iMore and the Wall Street Journal, Apple has been targeting an August time frame for the next-generation iPhone 5S, and while that may or may not include more recently rumored software scheduling issues, it does sound like the general time frame is still accurate enough for Foxconn to start ramping up for production. Lorraine Luk of the Wall Street Journal writes:

[Foxconn] said Monday it has added about 10,000 assembly-line workers per week in Zhengzhou, its major production facility for iPhones, since the last week of March.

“We have been very busy recently as we will start mass-producing the new iPhone soon,” said a Zhengzhou-based executive who has direct knowledge of production plans.

If Apple sticks to its 2009 and 2011 pattern of keeping the same casing two years in a row and releasing an S-class update, then presumably it’ll be an easier ramp up than last year where the manufacturing technology needed to produce the insanely redesigned iPhone 5 led to the usual transitional hiccups and supply constraints.

If that’s the case, then software and services, namely iOS 7, and iCloud could be the major factors in determining the final release window for Apple next iPhone.

To date, every new iPhone has shipped with a new version of iOS, and the iPhone 4S shipped with iCloud. That coupling makes for greater product impact, but also greater dependency.

Hopefully, if hardware is ramping up, that’s a sign everything else is also starting to line back up.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recent Apple job postings allude to chip development effort in and around Florida

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 16th, 2013, 07:00
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

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If you’re looking to design chips for Apple in sunny Florida, your dream may have come true.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple posted several job openings looking for both hardware and software engineers reveal that Apple is looking to begin its own chip development in Orlando, Florida.

Last week it was discovered that Apple is hiring software engineers to work on fingerprint technology at Authentec in Melbourne, Florida, which is about one hour south of the future site of the company’s development labs.

The job posting are interesting as Samsung, which works with Apple to develop the custom chips used in iPhones and iPads, continues to compete with Apple in the smartphone and tablet space.

Tim Cook mentioned last May that the engine that drives the iPhone was produced in Austin, Texas, which many believe pointed to Samsung’s chip development location.

The job listings range from ‘front end design management’ to ‘3D Graphics Micro-Architect’, all of which were posted in recent weeks.

Notably, the area is already populated with relevant talent as it is home to popular semiconductor company/Apple chip partner Qualcomm which may be the reason for the location.

Apple currently hosts a small office for its “Latin America General Manager” in Coral Gables, Florida, some five hours south of Orlando, Florida, illustrating the Cupertino-based company’s increasing presence in the Sunshine State.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Hack: How to use your old ADB keyboard with your current USB-equipped Mac

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 15th, 2013, 07:46
Category: Hack, Hardware, News

Ok, this could prove to be awesome.

And it’s one of the many reasons I believe the mighty Topher Kessler doth rock on a regular and efficient basis.

Over on CNET, Kessler’s penned a cool hack to use your old Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) keyboard with your current USB-equipped Mac.


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The hack centers around tech hobbyist Scott Vanderlind’s find that by adding a small USB controller to the keyboard, he could tap into the device’s ADB connection and send it over USB to any modern device, where it works quite well.

For hobbyists, adapters like the Griffin 2001-ADB iMate are not the only options for converting your ADB keyboard to USB. Granted, there’s a small amount of soldering, a Teensy USB controller, and a quick flash of the keyboard’s firmware to enable the ADB-to-USB conversion of the keyboard’s output.

Still, the process seems to work pretty well with the only hiccup being the need to continually hold the Num Lock key for the number pad to work.

Head on over, take a gander and if you’ve found a cool hack of your own that you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments.