Google Chrome updated to 17.0.963.78

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Date: Thursday, March 8th, 2012, 11:58
Category: News, Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 17.0.963.78 for the Mac. The new version, a 35.4 megabyte download, offers the following changes:

- This release fixes issues with Flash games and videos, along with a security fix.

Google Chrome 17.0.963.78 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

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.

Adobe Lightroom 4.0 released

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Date: Tuesday, March 6th, 2012, 09:27
Category: News, Software

If you loved Adobe’s Lightroom image editing program, you might think highly of version 4.0 which became available on Tuesday.

The new version, which is priced at US$79 for the upgrade version for Lightroom 3.x user (US$149 for the full version) and adds the following features and changes:

- Highlight and shadow recovery.

- Photo book creation with templates.

- Location-based organization including GPS data support.

- A white balance brush.

- Noise reduction and moiré removal tools.

- Enhanced video support including adjustments.

- Emailing from Lightroom.

- Video publishing to Facebook and Flickr.

- Soft proofing for color-managed printers.

Adobe Lightroom 4.0 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.3 Supplemental Update

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Date: Monday, March 5th, 2012, 15:49
Category: News, Software

They may come from out of nowhere, but supplemental updates are a good thing.

On that note, Apple has released its Mac OS X 10.7.3 Supplemental Update. The update, a 38k download (provided you have Mac OS X 10.7.3 already installed), resolves an issue when restoring a Mac from a Time Machine backup.

As usual, the update can be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature. The software requires an Intel-based Mac and Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple may include Intel Sandy Bridge processors in near-term Mac Pro update

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Date: Friday, March 2nd, 2012, 07:27
Category: Mac Pro, Processors, Rumor

Even if you’re hankering for a new iPad 3 or an updated MacBook Air, there’s always your Mac Pro tower to keep in mind.

Per The Inquirer, Intel’s new Sandy Bridge update for its Xeon line of high end CPUs is due next week, suggesting the potential for Apple to refresh the Mac Pro, which hasn’t changed since the middle of 2010.

The new Xeon E5 chips incorporate the Sandy Bridge micro architecture that first appeared in MacBook Pros and iMacs early last year, followed by a mobile variant used by Apple in the MacBook Air last summer.

Apple’s latest Mac Pro models currently use Intel Xeon Bloomfield or Gulftown processors based on the Nehalem and closely related Westmere microarchitectures.

The latest release of OS X 10.7.3 Lion included support for AMD’s high end Tahiti graphic cards, which are expected to arrive in the market around the same time as Intel’s new Xeon chips.

However, sources famliar with the matter have said that Apple’s management, as far back as last May, were in limbo over whether to put any additional resources toward the Mac Pro product line.

Internal discussions at Apple were said to focus on the fact that sales of the high-end Mac Pro workstations have dropped off so considerably that the desktop machines are no longer particularly profitable for the company.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple may be considering 14-inch MacBook Pro form factor for Asian marketplace

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Date: Wednesday, February 29th, 2012, 12:47
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The rumors may not always be right, but they keep things interesting.

Per DigiTimes, Apple may be weighing the prospect of a new 14-inch MacBook Air model designed specifically to cater to the Asian PC market.

Currently, the MacBook Air is only available in screen sizes of 11.6 inches and 13.3 inches. There have been rumors that Apple is planning to launch a new 15-inch model of the MacBook Air at some point this year, expanding its ultraportable lineup to a larger screen size.

But while Western countries prefer the 15-inch screen size, in the Asia market, 14-inch notebooks account for as much as 40 percent of sales. It’s because of the market’s “fondness for 14-inch models” that Apple is said to be considering a screen size specifically for that region.

“The sources analyzed that Apple is currently turning its targets from North American and Europe to Asia, and is eyeing the China market as its major market since the company still has strong potential in the country,” the report reads. “The consideration of a 14-inch MacBook Air would be an indication the company will become even more aggressive about the China market.”

With Apple expected to dramatically redesign its high-end MacBook Pro lineup this year, there has been some question as to whether a new thin-and-light 15-inch notebook would be an “Air” or a “Pro” notebook. Earlier this month, AppleInsider quoted a person familiar with Apple’s new MacBook Pro designs who indicated: “They’re all going to look like MacBook Airs.”

Apple’s next generation of notebooks are expected to be powered by Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors. This week, an official from the chipmaker stated that the CPUs have been delayed, and will go on sale eight to 10 weeks later than originally planned, likely in June.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Thinner, 13 and 15-inch next-gen MacBook Pro units could arrive as early as April

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Date: Wednesday, February 29th, 2012, 08:02
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The new stuff’s en route, you’ll just have to be a bit patient.

New 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros with a thinner and lighter design are expected to launch in April “at the soonest,” with an initial shipment of just under a million units.

Per DigiTimes, sources in Apple’s upstream supply chain have indicated indicated that the company will launch upgraded MacBook Pros as early as April, with about 900,000 units expected to be shipped at launch. A redesigned version of the 17-inch MacBook Pro is apparently not expected at launch, as it was not mentioned in Wednesday’s report.

The rumor is consistent with stories published earlier this month, revealing that Apple will launch a larger 17-inch model later than the 15-inch model the company is said to be prioritizing. Apple employed the same approach when it redesigned its MacBook Pro lineup in 2008, as the lower-volume 17-inch model became available a few months later.

Apple’s upgraded MacBook Pro lineup along with new MacBook Airs and the forthcoming OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Mac operating system upgrade are expected in the industry to pose a “significant threat” to notebooks designed to Intel’s thin-and-light Ultrabook specification.

“Since Intel is delaying the mass supply of its Ivy Bridge CPUs from April to June, notebook vendors are concerned about… the postponed launch schedules of their ultrabooks, as it may give Apple advantages in terms of time-to-market,” the report said.

Earlier this week, an Intel executive indicated that the company’s next-generation Ivy Bridge chips are expected to debut eight to 10 weeks later than previously planned. That would push the launch of those chips from April until June.

It’s possible that Apple could still launch new notebooks powered by Ivy Bridge as early as April, if Intel were to give the Mac maker early access to its first run of processors. In the past, Apple has been given early availability of Intel’s latest technology before other PC makers.

As Apple gears up to revamp its MacBook Pro lineup and borrow design cues from its successful MacBook Air, PC makers are still hoping to capitalize on the Ultrabook specification being pushed by Intel. Ultrabooks are intended to be less than 21 millimeters thick, weigh no more than 3.1 pounds, use flash-based solid-state drives, and offer 5 to 8 hours of battery life.

But initial Ultrabooks from Windows-based PC makers struggled to compete with Apple on price, as the entry-level 11.6-inch MacBook Air carries a US$999 cost. And they also felt the squeeze from Apple on components, as PC makers struggled to obtain unibody metal notebook chassis for their products.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

HandBrake updated to 0.9.6

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Date: Wednesday, February 29th, 2012, 08:26
Category: News, Software


Handbrake, Eric Petit’s incredibly useful open-source DVD ripping/conversion utility, has been updated to version 0.9.6.

The new version, a 7.1 megabyte download, offers a wide variety of fixes and changes that have been documented here.

HandBrake 0.9.6 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

Intel to delay launch of Ivy Bridge processors by 8-10 weeks

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Date: Monday, February 27th, 2012, 08:19
Category: News, Processors

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You know, nobody really LIKES the person who tells them “better late than never”, even though that person tends to be right.

That being said, Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, sized at 22 nanometers and expected to appear in Apple’s updated Mac lineup, will become available eight to 10 weeks later than originally planned, one company official has said.

Per the Financial Times, Sean Maloney, executive vice president and chairman of Intel China, revealed in an interview with the Financial Times that his company’s Ivy Bridge processors are now expected to go on sale in June. Those CPUs were originally planned to become available in April.

The apparent delay will allow Intel more time to manufacture the smaller, more complex chips. Maloney indicated that a later June launch was not prompted by a lack of demand.

The comments support a rumor from earlier this month that indicated Intel was forced to push back shipments of its Ivy Bridge processors to June. However, that same report claimed that a “small volume” of chips would be shipped in early April.

Earlier reports had suggested that Intel planned to debut a total of 25 new 22-nanometer Ivy Bridge processors at launch. They would include 17 desktop CPUs and 8 notebook processors.

Initial chips are expected to include models 3820QM, rumored to be priced at US$568, and 3720QM, US$378, both of which are potential candidates for an updated MacBook Pro.

Reports from late last year suggested Apple was planning to launch its updated MacBook Pro lineup in the second quarter of 2012>. It was said the Ivy Bridge-powered notebooks would feature a Retina Display-quality screen resolution of 2,880 by 1,800 pixels, exactly twice that of the 1,440-by-900 display currently found on the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Retina Display MacBook Pros would be possible with Ivy Bridge because Intel’s next-generation chip architecture will bring support for 4K resolution. That gives Apple and other PC makers the option to build a display that is 4,096 pixels across, at a resolution more than twice that of 1080p.

The new Ivy Bridge notebook processors will feature Intel HD Graphics 4000 architecture. High-end MacBook Pros with dedicated graphics are rumored to be powered by Nvidia in Apple’s 2012 lineup.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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.