Rumor: Apple reportedly shopping around for Apple HDTV prototype parts

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Date: Friday, March 9th, 2012, 07:10
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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When you go looking for components, people tend to notice.

Per AppleInsider, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster told investors on Tuesday that he had recently spoken to a “major TV component supplier” about Apple’s rumored plans to release a connected HDTV. Sources within the supplier reportedly told him that Apple had contacted “regarding various capabilities of their television display components.”

Munster said he viewed the news as “continued evidence that Apple is exploring production of a television.” Prior evidence that the analyst claims to have gathered surrounding an Apple television includes January 2011 meetings in Asia that suggested Apple was investing in manufacturing facilities for LCD displays as large as 50 inches and a September 2011 meeting with a “contact close to an Asian supplier” who claimed prototypes of an Apple set are in the works.

The firm believes Apple could be ready to release a television as early as late 2012, though Munster noted that “the timeline and stope of a revamped content solution is more uncertain.” Various reports have suggested that Apple has run up against resistance from movie and TV studios that are believed to be hesitant to license their content for an Apple television.

The analyst went on to speculate on several possibilities that Apple could make use of to address the content issue. For instance, Apple could simply enable the television to manage pre-existing live TV service from a unified interface, or it could make use of network programming and web-based video services such as Netflix and Hulu. Finally, Munster suggested that Apple could look to offer monthly subscriptions “on an a-la-carte basis” for live TV packages from content providers, but he noted that this is likely the “most challenging scenario” because of existing licensing arrangements.

A separate report claimed late last year that one of Apple’s most-desired features for an Apple television set is customized channel lineups. That report also noted that licensing for such a service would be “obviously much more complicated” than current offerings.

Piper Jaffray projects that Apple could sell 1.4 million of the 106 million internet-connected televisions estimated to be sold this year. The investment bank tentatively estimates that revenues from the device could reach US$2.5 billion in 2012, $4.0 billion in 2013 and US$6.0 billion in 2014.

Munster concluded his note by pointing out that Apple only enters mature markets in order to reinvent them. As such, he does not see Apple entering the TV market without a “revamped TV content solution.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts streaming video of iPad 3 press event

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Date: Wednesday, March 7th, 2012, 13:19
Category: Hardware, News

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If a picture’s worth a thousand words, a video’s worth even more.

Following its iPad 3 press event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Apple quickly posted streaming video of the event.

The keynote was hosted by Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, and featured presentations by other members of the company’s top brass, including Phil Schiller and Eddy Cue.

The biggest news Wednesday was the new iPad, which features a high-resolution Retina Display and a new A5X CPU packing a quad-core graphics processor starting at $499. The cameras have also been improved, with a rear-facing 5-megapixel lens capable of 1080p video, while the wireless-capable models now feature connectivity with 4G LTE networks from carriers like Verizon and Sprint.

Other presentations, such as AutoDesk for iOS, new games and a newly-created version of iPhoto for iOS, are presented in the video and show the bells and whistles of the new tablet.

Click the link, take a gander and if something’s on your mind, please let us know what you think in the comments.

Early Ivy Bridge benchmark tests show ample gains, huge leaps in graphics tasks

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Date: Wednesday, March 7th, 2012, 12:22
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

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Intel’s Ivy Bridge architecture may not be out yet, but some initial tests have been performed and it looks promising.

Per AnandTech and Electronista, an unofficial, pre-release benchmarking of Intel’s upcoming Ivy Bridge architecture has shown an overall speed up, but most of all in graphics.

Early testing of a 3.5GHz, quad Core i7-3770K desktop chip has shown that the Intel HD 4000 integrated video is about 20 to 40 percent faster than the 3000 video on a roughly comparable earlier Core i7 using the current Sandy Bridge architecture. While still trailing behind AMD’s Fusion in an A8 chip, it’s enough to make games playable that wouldn’t have been practical otherwise, such as running Skyrim smoothly at 1680×1050 and medium detail.

The underlying processor itself has a clear edge over Sandy Bridge. While it’s at a disadvantage with four cores to the very highest-end, six-core Sandy Bridge-E processors, Ivy Bridge is about five to 20 percent faster than any of its quad-core antecedents in general use.

Graphics boosts mostly come from the higher number of execution units, at 16 versus 12, as well as DirectX 11 (OpenGL 4) effects support. Ivy Bridge as a whole gets an inherent benefit from a denser, more efficient 22-nanometer manufacturing process as well as twice the throughput for floating-point and integer divisions. It can dynamically share code elements between program threads and supports up to 2.8GHz DDR3 memory along with low-power DDR3 on slim desktops and notebooks.

Intel is now increasingly seen as shipping the first batch of Ivy Bridge Core i5 and i7 processors in late April, mixing both desktop and notebook versions. Much of the PC industry is waiting on the later than usual release and could start shipping soon afterwards.

The lineup may have the most significance for Apple, which is holding off on multiple Mac updates. Ivy Bridge should allow for OpenCL support on the integrated graphics and could deliver a larger performance boost than on Windows as a result.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple confirms iPad 3 event for March 7 in San Francisco

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Date: Tuesday, February 28th, 2012, 13:18
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

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As nifty as rumors tend to be, it helps to hear the truth from the horse’s mouth.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday sent out official invitations for a media event to be held next Wednesday, March 7, in San Francisco where it is expected to introduce its next-generation iPad.

The March 7 event will be held at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Calif., the same place the last two iPad unveilings have been held. The invitation features a finger pushing down on an iOS calendar icon with March 7 as the date.

“We have something you really have to see. And touch,” the invitation reads.

The inclusion that people will “have to see” the new device is likely a reference to the high-resolution Retina Display that Apple is expected to add to its next-generation iPad. Rumors have suggested the display will have a resolution of 2,048 by 1,536 pixels, which would be twice the resolution of the 1,024-by-768 screen found on the iPad 2.

In fact, the invitation itself could even be a picture of the new iPad display. The image does show a very crisp iPad screen that could be a higher resolution than the current iPad 2.

Apple’s invitations went out only moments after financial network CNBC incorrectly claimed that the next iPad would be unveiled at an event in New York next week. However, reporter Jon Fortt quickly followed up to explain that he has heard that New York will play a “key” role in next week’s announcement.

The March 7 event date has been expected for weeks now, but Tuesday’s invitations were the first official confirmation of the media briefing from Apple. Recent reports out of the Far East have suggested that Apple could offer near-immediate availability of the new iPad, with claims that the new devices are already being shipped to the U.S as retailers cut prices of existing iPad 2 models by US$50 to US$70.

Other changes to the iPad are expected to be largely internal, with evidence of a faster processor and potential 4G LTE connectivity having surfaced in recent weeks. On the outside, the next iPad is expected to look largely the same, with an external case featuring edges slightly more tapered than the iPad 2.

Another leak showed a purported “iPad 3″ logic board, featuring a processor labeled “A5X,” suggesting the chip could be a more powerful version of the A5 CPU currently found in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S rather than a full-fledged “A6″ upgrade. Reports have also been divided as to whether the next iPad will be powered by a quad-core processor or a dual-core CPU.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to replace 30-pin iPhone, iPod, iPad connector with smaller alternative

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Date: Friday, February 24th, 2012, 07:10
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor

It’s a rumor, but it involves replacing the classic 30-pin connector you know, love and are readily familiar with on your iPod, iPhone, and iPad with something new, so proceed to panic.

Also, begin hoarding food, as this means the apocalypse is well nigh.

An unsubstantiated rumor claims that Apple is looking to replace the venerable 30-pin iPhone, iPad and iPod dock connector with a smaller, space-saving successor that will possibly make a debut in the company’s next generation iPhone.

According to the iMore blog, unnamed sources have stated that the iPhone maker found a way to make the connector smaller in 2010 to help accommodate for the iPhone 4′s larger battery.

Another factor is the connector’s role in data transfer. With the advent of iCloud, AirPlay and the energy-sipping Bluetooth 4.0, a future iPhone may only need a cable for charging purposes.

It is unclear what would become of the huge ecosystem of existing “Made for iDevice” products, which is a lucrative business for both Apple and third-party companies, as it would be made obsolete by a redesigned connector.

Details remain scarce at this time, but check back and we’ll get information up as soon as it becomes available.

iFixit studies iPad 2 display, purported iPad 3 display, finds evidence supporting Retina Display for iPad 3

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Date: Friday, February 24th, 2012, 07:31
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

Yes, there’s more than a few iPad 3 rumors floating around at the moment, but a genuine comparison backed by video helps.

Per MacRumors, do-it-yourself site iFixit posted a side-by-side comparison video on Thursday between the alleged next-generation ‘iPad 3′ display and a replacement screen for an iPad 2, and results reaffirm previous reports that the purported new component’s pixel density is indeed double that of Apple’s current tablet line.

The site, well known for its product teardown and self-repair guides, used a USB microscope to shoot pixel-level images of a rumored “iPad 3″ display that was obtained by MacRumors on Friday through “unreported channels.”

Although last week’s report yielded compelling photographic evidence that the component was a QXGA screen with a resolution of 2048-by-1536 pixels, the iFixit images are of higher quality and show more detail than the previous side-by-side photos. Clearly seen are individual pixels, with the new display appearing to sport a common RGB sub-pixel arrangement which is identical to the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S’ Retina Display.

iFixit was unsuccessful in powering on the display due to a newly-designed LCD connector cable, but the USB microscope threw enough light to show that for each iPad 2 pixel, the new component boasted four. The finding is concurrent with reports that claim the pixel density of the rumored tablet will be around 260 pixels-per-inch. In contrast, the current generation iPad 2 has a 132 ppi pixel density.

While the estimated 260 ppi falls short of the 300+ ppi the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs described as being a qualifier for Retina Display status, it can be contested that because users hold tablets farther away from their eyes than a phone, the would-be “iPad 3″ specs are be enough to achieve a perceived pixel density similar to that of Apple’s latest smartphone.

The physical dimensions of the display are identical to that of the iPad and iPad 2, though iFixit notes that those thinking of swapping out their iPad 2 screens with this new “iPad 3″ model are out of luck. Besides the obvious incompatibility with current iPad logic boards, there have been no figures as to the screen’s power consumption and processor requirements.

Previous reports pointed to rumors that, due to a high pixel count, a so-called iPad Retina Display may need a backlight configuration consisting of two LED light bars to achieve brightness levels equavalent to current iPad models.

Apple is rumored to announce its next generation tablet on March 7, and will feature the rumored Retina Display, a redesigned case, a new processor and 4G LTE functionality.

Stay tuned for additional details and in the meantime, a little video never hurt anyone:



DDR3 DRAM prices drop to all-time low

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Date: Thursday, February 23rd, 2012, 07:59
Category: Hardware, News

If you were looking to upgrade your RAM, there’s literally never been a better time for it.

Per Macworld, prices of DDR3 DRAM memory used in notebooks and desktops have dipped to an all-time low of around US$1, and will continue to fall, which could help PC makers pack more memory into computers, analysts said.

Average prices for predominant 2Gb (gigabit) DDR3 DRAM die hit the US$1 mark during the first quarter, which is a massive drop from the average price of roughly US$2.25 for the same memory in the first quarter last year, according to research firm iSuppli. A 4GB (gigabyte) DRAM module was priced between US$18 and US$20 at the end of 2011, a precipitous drop from $40 at the end of 2010.

The price of a 2Gb DRAM chip was between 82 cents and 95 cents on Wednesday, according to DRAMExchange, a website that tracks daily memory pricing.

The drop in memory prices is a continuation of a trend from last year, analysts said. A shortfall in PC demand hurt memory pricing last year, but memory makers are still moving excess inventory into the market rapidly, which has contributed to the continued price drop.

“We’re at a historical all-time low, yes,” said Mike Howard, senior principal analyst at IHS iSuppli. “It costs Dell and Hewlett-Packard less now than a year ago to put the same amount of memory in the PC.”

Instead of packing more memory, some PC makers have opted to load the same amount of memory in PCs to cover the rising cost of other components. Dell earlier this week said it was using the favorable memory and LCD pricing environment to offset the rising prices of hard drives, which were in short supply due to the floods in Thailand last year.

The DRAM industry fundamentals are weak, but memory makers are taking corrective action to balance supply and demand, iSuppli’s Howard said. Some of the existing manufacturing capacity is coming offline to reduce output, but the prices could continue to fall as long as the cost of making memory drops.

The pricing will continue to fall through the second quarter, said Shane Rau, research director at IDC.

“The issue is huge oversupply in the first and second quarter of 2012 and the resulting pricing competition among suppliers,” Rau said.

The DRAM market initially fell apart at the end of 2008 after the economic downturn prompted DRAM makers to reduce memory output. However, production went up the following year as PC demand recovered with the active refresh cycle and the release of the 64-bit version of Windows 7 in 2009, which allowed for a higher memory ceiling.

But PC shipments slowed down again in the second half of 2010 with growing demand for tablets and smartphones, which rely on different memory types such as low-power DDR and nonvolatile NAND flash memory. Some chip makers have now changed business models and are increasing focus on memory for tablets and smartphones.

Stay tuned for additional details.

In other news, I recently upgraded my 2011 MacBook Pro’s RAM to 16 gigabytes…and the ladies still haven’t really noticed.

Tipsters reveal hints as to why AMD “Llano” processor never came to MacBook Air notebook

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Date: Thursday, February 23rd, 2012, 07:34
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Processors

If you wondered as to where the next-gen AMD processors might be on your MacBook Air, there’s a reason for that too.

According to Forbes, former AMD employees revealed that Apple gave its “Llano” chip a “close look” for a new MacBook Air model last year, but ultimately decided not to go with the processor because too many of its parts were faulty.

AMD has been through several reinventions in recent years in a quest to find a niche to call its own. The company was an early competitor to chip giant Intel, but it has struggled to keep up pace with its rival as of late.

Brian Caulfield reports that new “fusion” processors from AMD had a shot at upstaging Intel by making their way into Apple’s popular MacBook Air notebook for last year’s refresh. People familiar with the matter indicated that Apple had given the “Llano” processor, which combined the CPU and GPU into one part, serious consideration for use in its thin-and-light portable.

However, a former employee indicated that AMD was unable to get early working samples of the chip to Apple on time, though tipsters disagreed on exactly how close the company was to delivering the chip, with one claiming that AMD “had it.” According to the report, too many of the parts ended up being faulty and AMD lost the deal.

Sources also said AMD had proposed a low-power processor named “Brazos” for a revamp of the Apple TV box, but Apple declined to go with the option. “Brazos” went on to make inroads in the netbook industry and reportedly kept the company afloat.

“If Brazos had been killed, AMD wouldn’t be in business,” one former employee said.

A separate report from late last year also claimed that Apple had considered the AMD “Llano” option “plan A” for its MacBook Air, but AMD was said to have “dropped the ball” at the last minute.

Apple released the Thunderbolt MacBook Air last July with Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors powering the notebooks. The machines became an instant success and reportedly jumped to 28 percent of the company’s notebook shipments just months after they were released.

SanDisk claims world’s smallest 128-gigabit flash chip

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Date: Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012, 08:37
Category: Hardware, News

It may not change the world today, but it could lead to some pretty cool stuff.

Per Electronista, electronics maker SanDisk set a record today after the company claimed to have the world’s smallest 128-gigabit (16GB) memory chip. The 19 nanometer, three-bit-per-cell storage has a footprint of about 170mm square (0.26in square), or less than that of a penny. It’s also relatively quick for its capacity and size at 144Mbps (18MB) per second.

Chips built on the newer storage were considered ideal for smartphones, tablets, and solid-state drives for computers. Many such chips can be stacked on top of each other or side-by-side and give more reasonable capacities without having a physically larger device than they do now.

SanDisk has just recently started making 128Gb flash in large quantities on a basic level, although it has yet to say how quickly it expects the shrunken-down design to reach the market. Other companies have 128Gb chips in development, but these have been larger and usually haven’t reached into mainstream devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Hitachi announces 500GB, 7mm, 7,200 RPM Z7K500 notebook hard drive

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Date: Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012, 07:22
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

On Wednesday, Hitachi announced the release of its 500GB Travelstar Z7K500. Per Electronista, the drive is the first to hit a half-terabyte at the slimmer 7mm height while keeping a full 7,200RPM spin speed and just one drive platter. Along with being the first to have both a 6Gbps SATA3 connection and a 32MB buffer, it’s billed as being not just faster than other 7mm drives but faster than many regular 9mm drives as well.

The disk is intended both for thin regular notebooks as well as for ultrabooks. Although not fast enough by itself to match a solid-state drive, including an SSD as a cache theoretically offers a best-of-both-worlds design where the responsiveness of an SSD and the lower prices of a rotating hard drive are combined. It consumes more power, but at 1.8W peak and 0.8W idle is relatively efficient.

Hitachi has had test versions of its newer Z7K500 drives since January and is already expecting mass production for March, with 250GB and 320GB editions already available. It hasn’t named the customers that will be using it, although it conspicuously mentioned that “all major PC OEMs” had already qualified the pre-500GB drives and implied that Apple, Dell, HP, and others were either using or planning to use the new Travelstars.

Final pricing details for the Z7K500 drives also have yet to be announced.

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available.