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Rumor: Apple to purchase Israeli flash memory company Anobit

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Date: Tuesday, December 13th, 2011, 06:49
Category: Finance, Rumor


When Apple ponders buying something, it’s worth paying attention to.

Per TechCrunch, Apple is planning to spend between US$400 million and US$500 million to buy Anobit, an Israel-based flash memory company, according to a new report.

Citing a Hebrew-language report, TechCrunch relayed on Tuesday that Apple plans to acquire the 200-employee Israeli fabless semiconductor company that specializes in flash storage. If the deal comes to pass, it’s believed to be the first acquisition for Apple with Tim Cook at the helm as CEO.

“Anobit provides flash storage solutions for enterprise and mobile markets, based on its proprietary MSP (which stands for ‘Memory Signal Processing’) technology,” the report said. “Its solutions are designed to improve the speed, endurance and performance of flash systems while driving down the cost. Anobit’s technology is comprised of signal processing algorithms that compensate for physical limitations of NAND flash, the company claims.”

Apple is believed to already rely on Anobit’s solutions for its flash-based products, including the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air. Of the most interest to Apple is said to be Anobit’s MSP20xx embedded flash controllers for mobile devices.

Apple has used its massive cash hoard to strategically invest in components and acquire companies that will give it a leg up on the competition. In 2005, Apple inked a major flash memory deal with Samsung, allowing Apple to build products with NAND flash including the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air.

The company made a similar deal earlier this year, when Cook revealed that Apple had committed US$3.9 billion to secret, long-term component contracts. Cook said the deals were a “fantastic” use of the company’s cash reserves, but declined to say what components Apple had secured, citing competitive reasons.

If Tuesday’s report is accurate, it would be a rare hardware-based acquisition for Apple. The company’s last major buyout of a hardware company came in 2008, when Apple bought P.A. Semi for US$278 million, paving the way for it to build custom ARM-based chips for the iPhone and iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Third-generation iPad to arrive in February

Posted by:
Date: Friday, December 9th, 2011, 05:18
Category: iPad, Rumor

You’ve got to admit this: The rumor mill never stops churning.

Per Business Insider, Citigroup has stated that Apple’s next-generation tablet device is on schedule for a February, 2012 launch.

In a research note released on Thursday, Citigroup analyst Richard Gardner says that Apple will be ready to debut the next iteration of the company’s hugely successful tablet as early as February.

Gardner notes that sources within Apple’s Asian supply chain have seen increased iPad parts orders for the March quarter, attributing the ramp-up to the “launch of a new iPad with double the screen resolution on the current model.”

The analyst cites several sources who have confirmed the early 2012 launch, and notes that “there do not appear to be any significant technical hurdles remaining” to meet a February release date.

Rumors have been swirling as to when an anticipated “Retina Display” iPad will break cover, with some alleging that Apple has seen technical setbacks in combining high-resolution panels with LED backlighting. Reports have claimed that the company will employ a dual-LED lighting system to overcome brightness issues seen by the high-dpi displays, which a November rumor indicated as possibly being IGZO panels sourced from Sharp.

The most recent rumors have come from an Asian supplier saying that the new tablet will sport a thicker case design than the iPad 2, but will retain the same 9.7-inch screen size allowing it to be compatible with existing Smart Covers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Third-generation iPad to be slightly thicker, retain same screen size

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 8th, 2011, 05:47
Category: iPad, Rumor

There’s a bit of truth to every rumor.

Per Macotakara, Apple’s third-generation iPad will be slightly thicker than the iPad 2, but will have the same 9.7-inch screen size, and will continue to support the magnetic Smart Cover.

Citing an Asian supplier who is allegedly crafting components for Apple’s next iPad, Japanese blog Macotakara reported on Wednesday that the next iPad may be thicker for an “unknown reason.” That means third-party cases that cover the back side of the device will not be compatible with the next iPad.

However, Apple’s first-party magnetic Smart Covers will remain compatible with the third-generation iPad, the source reportedly said. That’s because the new iPad, despite being slightly thicker, will have the same rounded side as the iPad 2.

In addition, two back covers (1, 2) claimed to be from prototype iPad hardware are available for sale on the global commerce site Alibaba.com. The plain aluminum backs do not show an Apple logo.

One reason for a thicker frame on the third-generation iPad could be the components necessary to include a high-resolution Retina Display. Numerous rumors have pointed toward Apple increasing the screen resolution of its iPad with a new model anticipated in 2012.

Apple introduced the Retina Display branding with the iPhone 4 starting in 2010. By packing more pixels onto the same screen size, Apple has boasted that the individual pixels are so small that they cannot be distinguished by the human eye.

In order to include a Retina Display, Apple may adopt entirely new display technology. One report in November suggested Apple would use IGZO displays from Sharp to reach a 330 dots-per-inch screen resolution. But that report claimed the IGZO display would also allow for a future iPad to be thinner, not thicker.

Other reports, however, claimed that Apple would utilize a dual-LED light bar system to illuminate the Retina Display of a third-generation iPad. Apple’s apparent difficulties with the higher resolution displays and new LED backlight designs were said to have already affected the launch schedule of the next iPad.

Some of the confusion surrounding the next iPad coming from Apple’s supply chain could be explained by a report from early November, which alleged that Apple has tasked its suppliers with the development of two tablet projects, code-named “J1” and “J2.” Both of the new models were said to have different sizes, specifications and technologies from the current-generation iPad 2.

As always, stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think in the comments.

Intel Ivy Bridge details leaked, interesting new specs and support on horizon

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 6th, 2011, 05:05
Category: News, Processors, Rumor


If you like Intel’s current Sandy Bridge architecture, then the leaked details of the company’s Ivy Bridge architecture should give you a warm, snuggly feeling inside.

Per X-Bit Labs and Macworld UK, according to information reported by X-bit Labs, a lineup of Core i5 and Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors will be available in Q2 2012. The processors will all be quad core, except one economy Core i5 processor. The rest of the Core i5s reportedly have a 6MB cache and speeds ranging from 2.7GHz to 3.4GHz. The Core i7 lineup has 8MB cache, and clock speeds from 2.5GHz to 3.5GHz.

The Ivy Bridge processors will support PCIe 3.0 x16, and come with native support for Thunderbolt and USB 3.0. It will be up to hardware manufacturers to determine which of those slot and port technologies individual systems will include, though.

The most notable difference between the “Ivy Bridge” and “Sandy Bridge” processors is that Intel is building the next generation CPUs using 22nm architecture–a nearly 30 percent drop in size from the existing 32nm chips. Good things come in small packages, though, so there are some benefits that come with the smaller processors.

First, Ivy Bridge CPUs will consume less power. That translates to lower energy costs, and lower heat output, which snowballs the lower energy costs because less power is then required to cool the system as well.

Second, the smaller central processor makes more room for the integrated graphics chip, allowing Intel to boost the graphics processing capabilities. The Ivy Bridge graphics capabilities are estimated to be up to 60 percent faster, and will support Microsoft DirectX 11.

The bad news is that Ivy Bridge is an incremental bump from the Sandy Bridge processors available today and might not offer a blazing improvement over the current Sandy Bridge architecture.

The good news is that the Ivy Bridge processors will work with existing Sandy Bridge motherboards. So, if you do get a new system now with a Sandy Bridge CPU, you will have an upgrade path available, and won’t be painting yourself into a corner.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Upcoming Apple television sets to arrive in three sizes, including 32″ and 55″

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 6th, 2011, 05:06
Category: Hardware, Rumor


It’s the rumors that help make life interesting.

Per Australian web blog SmartHouse, Apple’s full-fledged television set will arrive at the end of 2012 in three screen sizes, maxing out at 55 inches, a new rumor claims.

Citing sources in Japan, the web site reported this week that the new Apple television will also come in an entry-level size of 32 inches. It did not indicate exactly what screen size the third model would feature, falling somewhere between the low end with 32 inches and maximum size of 55 inches.

The report said it’s a “major Japanese company” that’s involved in manufacturing Apple’s rumored television set. Echoing previous claims, the report said that the Apple television will feature Siri integration, allowing users to control the TV set with their voice.

Powering the rumored television will be a new processor expected to debut in Apple’s third-generation iPad, which the publication said will arrive “midway through 2012.” Presumably that processor will be an “A6” custom-built ARM-based CPU.

Apple’s anticipated high-end 55-inch model is expected to compete with “smart TVs” from established television makers like Samsung and LG. Those companies’ next-generation TV sets are expected to have new features like faster processors, a “combination of OLED display,” and “Super HD” from LG, the report said.

Rumors of an Apple television set have picked up steam since the release of the authorized biography of Steve Jobs. In that book, Jobs hinted to biographer Walter Isaacson that Apple was at work on a completely new device that would feature “the simplest user interface you could imagine.”

Reports have suggested that Apple’s anticipated television set could arrive as early as mid 2012, while others have seen Apple announcing it in late 2012 for an early 2013 sale date.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Mac OS X 10.7.3 beta references hint at upgraded Mac Pro units, improved video cards

Posted by:
Date: Monday, December 5th, 2011, 07:20
Category: Hardware, Rumor, Software


It’s the beta references that provide the best hints.

Per netkas.org, Apple’s Mac Pro may be getting a long awaited refresh according to hints tucked away in the most current Mac OS X 10.7.3 beta. The beta version of the OS update includes references to an ATI video card code named “Tahiti” tucked away in the ATIRadeonX3000 driver file, which would give a new Mac Pro model even more powerful graphics processing than current models.

The article stated that “Tahiti” is a code name for ATI’s next generation AMD-based video cards, and may be the upcoming high-performance 7900-series.

The Mac Pro was last updated in July 2010, making the current configuration well over a year old.

The long interval between updates has to reports claiming Apple is questioning whether or not to continue selling its pro-level tower computer, especially since processors like the Core i7 are available, and Thunderbolt ports offer a potential alternative to the Mac Pro’s built-in expansion slots.

Referencing new AMD video cards doesn’t, however, necessarily mean new Mac Pros are on the way. Apple could simply be adding support for the upcoming cards as a build-to-order option, or developers might be misinterpreting what the references in the driver files mean.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Microsoft may ship Windows 8 public beta in late February

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Date: Friday, December 2nd, 2011, 05:27
Category: Rumor, Software


Windows 8: It’s on its way, though it might take a little while to get here.

Per TNW, Microsoft’s Windows 8 public beta might have been moved further into the year. A rumor from “sources close to Microsoft” has the release tentatively slated for late February, more than a month after the CES expo intro hinted earlier. It’s not known if this was a delay or always part of the schedule.

The developer preview version released in September was in a rough state, missing e-mail and otherwise being in a state only really suitable for third-party app testing. A beta is defined as feature-complete, however, and it’s likely that any delays might be to polish the release for regular users.

A public beta so late would rule out an April release to manufacturing. Microsoft always produces at least one release candidate build and rarely turns so quickly. Talk of a June or later completion date and a second-half 2012 release are more likely.

If true, the timing could create problems for Windows 8 and Microsoft’s attempts to reclaim the tablet space. The first truly touch-native Windows tablets may not be on the market until 2.5 years after the iPad, and possibly months after the iPad 3 appears.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple in discussions with wireless carriers over LTE-capable iPads, iPhones

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, November 30th, 2011, 12:58
Category: iPad, iPhone, Rumor

What a difference a year might make.

Per Macotakara, Apple is gearing up to release new iPad and iPhone models in 2012 that will connect to long-term evolution 4G high-speed data networks, according to a new report.

Japane’s Nikkei Business reported that carrier NTT DoCoMo is in talks to release an LTE-capable iPad in the summer of 2012. That would be followed by a new 4G LTE iPhone in the autumn, or one year after the iPhone 4S launched.

Executives with the wireless carrier were said to have visited the U.S. in mid-November to talk with Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook. The two parties allegedly agreed to begin “full-scale negotiations” for the sale of LTE-capable iPhones and iPads.

That runs in contrast to an earlier report this month from The Wall Street Journal, which claimed that negotiations between Apple and NTT DoCoMo came to a standstill. It was said that the two parties reached an impasse over the carrier wishing to install proprietary applications on the iPhone, something that Apple would not agree to.

NTT DoCoMo President and Chief Executive Ryuji Yamada said it was difficult for his company to offer the iPhone because of large commitment requirements and Apple’s control over the iOS platform. But the latest report claims that Yamada came to the U.S. in mid-November to discuss Apple’s apparent next-generation LTE products and a potential partnership.

Claims of a 4G LTE iPhone and iPad are not new, and rumors have persisted for years that Apple plans to build such devices. There were even scattered reports claiming that the iPhone 4S would feature LTE, though most reports prior to the device’s announcement pegged 4G as a feature more likely to appear in 2012.

Reports from earlier this year claimed that Apple had eyed building an LTE-capable iPhone in 2011, but opted to push back the launch of such a device in 2012. It was said that the implementation of LTE networks had not yet matured enough to satisfy Apple.

In a quarterly conference call earlier this year, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, then the company’s chief operating officer, said that poor battery life and other issues with current LTE technology were enough to dissuade the company from pursuing an LTE iPhone at the time.

“The first generation of LTE chipsets force a lot of design compromises with the handset, and some of those we are just not willing to make,” Cook said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release 15-inch MacBook Air notebook in early 2012

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 28th, 2011, 10:50
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

If this is true, it could become something nifty.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is said to be preparing an update to its MacBook Air series in the first quarter of 2012 with the addition of a new 15-inch thin-and-light model.

The new 15-inch MacBook Air would join the existing 11.6- and 13.3-inch ultraportable notebooks offered by Apples. Citing industry sources in the upstream supply chain, the publication reported on Monday that pilot production of the new MacBook Air models has already begun.

“Commenting on Apple’s move, sources from retail channels pointed out that Apple will start dropping the price of its existing MacBook Airs before launching its series and the promotion could further boost Apple’s share in the global notebook market,” the report said.

The move is said to be a strategy to counter the growing lineup of Windows-based PCs built on the Ultrabook specification from Intel. Though Ultrabooks have gotten off to a slow start, PC makers hope they will be able to capitalize on the popularity of Apple’s MacBook Air lineup with their own thin-and-light unibody notebooks.

Rumors of a new 15-inch notebook from Apple are not new, with one report from earlier this month claiming that such a device could appear as early as the second quarter of 2012. That report, however, did not make a distinction as to whether the notebook would be an extension of the MacBook Air lineup or a redesigned MacBook Pro.

Monday’s report, however, claims that new product will in fact be a MacBook Air, and provides a sooner release date of the first quarter of 2012.

The MacBook Air has become an important part of Apple’s lineup, with one report from earlier this month revealing that the product lineup now represents 28 percent of Apple’s notebook shipments. That’s well up from just 8 percent in the first half of 2011.

Apple last updated its 11- and 13-inch MacBook Airs in July with backlit keyboards, its new high-speed Thunderbolt port, and the latest Sandy Bridge processors from Intel.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Hitachi and Sony collaborating on unknown Apple iOS device, iPad 4 to receive new display connector technology

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 28th, 2011, 03:06
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor


It’s the rumors that keep life interesting.

Per Macotakara.jp, Hitachi and Sony are reported to have teamed up to supply Apple with 4-inch LCD displays for an unspecified iOS device that will hit the market in 2012.

Citing sources within Apple’s Far Eastern supply chain, macotakara.jp claims that Hitachi Displays, Ltd. and Sony Mobile Display Corporation have begun shipments of 4-inch LCD panels to Apple for unspecified iOS device due next year.

The two companies are further reported to merge their business with Toshiba Mobile Display Co., Ltd. to form “Japan Display” in 2012 spring.

The report arrives on the heels of claims last week that Sharp will also produce panels for the iPad 3 at its Kameyama No. 2 plant in central Japan; Apple typically sources its components from multiple partners.

A person familiar with the matter further claimed Apple has invested an unspecified amount in Sharp’s factories. The investment is believed to help support Sharp’s production capacity for IGZO (indium, gallium, zinc) LCD panels for the next iPhone and iPad that will allow for thinner designs and improved battery performance.

The web site also cites the same sources as saying that an unspecified Taiwanese company will soon be “providing LCD technology faces” to Apple for a “fundamentally changed” iPad 4 that will be manufactured by a new process.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.