VirtualBox 3.2.2 released

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Date: Thursday, June 3rd, 2010, 05:44
Category: News, Software

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VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 3.2.2. The new version, a 70.9 megabyte download, sports a list of fixes and changes that can be found here.

VirtualBox 3.2.2 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

VMWare Releases Fusion 3.1

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 26th, 2010, 03:52
Category: News, Software

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On Wednesday, virtualization softare maker VMWare released version 3.1 of its Fusion software for the Mac.

Similar to other virtualization software packages, VMWare allows users to run alternate operating systems such as Windows and Linux distributions on Intel-based Macs at native speeds. Other features, such as Unity, allow users to run and minimize Windows applications from the Mac OS X Dock.

The new version, which can be found here, offers the following new features and fixes:

Improved Overall Performance – 35% Faster than VMware Fusion 3.0:
- Reduced time for suspending virtual machines.
- Faster Windows application launch times.
- Greatly improved scrolling speeds in Windows Vista and Windows 7 with Mac OS X 10.6.3.

2D/3D Graphics Improvements – Up to 5X Better 3D Graphics than VMware Fusion 3.0:
- OpenGL 2.1 for Windows Vista.
- OpenGL 2.1 for Windows 7.
- Greatly improved graphics performance.
- Aero is much faster on Windows Vista and Windows 7.
- Some games up to 10x faster than VMware Fusion 3.0 with VMware Fusion 3.1 and latest Mac OS X release.
- Greatly improved scrolling speeds in Windows Vista and Windows 7 with Mac OS X 10.6.3.

Unity Improvements:
- Minimizing Unity apps to the dock now shows app contents.
- Works with Exposé and Dock Exposé.

USB “EasyConnect”:
- Easily assign USB devices to virtual machine or Mac when connected.
- Remember USB device assignment between Mac and virtual machine restarts.

Bigger, More Complex Virtual Machines:
- 8-way SMP.
- 2 TB virtual disks.

PC Migration Improvements:
- Improvements to Migrate Your PC assistant, including better validation of names and better location prompt.
- Prompt user if Mac OS X guest account prevents guest access to shared folders instead of failing.
- Open new virtual machine upon successful migration.
- Enhanced user interface on PC being migrated including:
- New progress dialog on the PC being migrated as well as in VMware Fusion.
- Option to show converter logs and troubleshooting steps on PC if PC migration fails.
- Avoids port conflicts with Web server software installed on PC being migrated such as IIS, Tomcat, and Apache.

Boot Camp Improvements:
- Up to 5x disk performance in Boot Camp virtual machines.
- New option to minimize prompting for password (authentication dialogs) when using Boot Camp virtual machines.
- Handle Mac OS X disk changes better to avoid multiple references to Boot Camp partition in the Virtual Machine Library.
- Support for Office 2010 activation in Boot Camp virtual machines.

OVF Tool 2 Comes with VMware Fusion 3.1:
- Directly convert between any vSphere, VMX, or OVF source format to any vSphere, VMX, or OVF target format.
- Deploy virtual machines to vSphere using OVF Tool.
- Import and export of OVF packages into a vApprun 1.0 workspace.

User Interface Enhancements:
- Drag a disk image or virtual disk to the installation media pane of the assistant.
- Add shortcut for opening a virtual machines configuration file in default text editor for VMware Fusion (Hold down option and right-click in Virtual Machine Library).

User Interface Enhancements:
- User Experience Improvement Program.

New Guest Operating Systems Supported:
- Ubuntu 8.0.4.4: 32- and 64-bit.
- Ubuntu 10.04: 32- and 64-bit.
- SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 Service Pack 1: 32- and 64-bit.
- SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 Service Pack 1: 32- and 64-bit.
- RHEL 5.4: 32- and 64-bit.

Fusion 3.1 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and retails for US$79.99.

Google Chrome 5.0.375.38 beta released for Mac

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Date: Wednesday, May 12th, 2010, 03:34
Category: Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 5.0.375.38 beta for the Mac. The new version, an 25.2 megabyte download, offers the following the following changes:

- In addition to crash and stability fixes, this release also includes a localization refresh of our strings.

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

If you’ve played with it and have an opinion, let us know what you think in the comments.

gfxCardStatus utility allows dynamic switching between MacBook Pro graphics cards

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Date: Tuesday, May 11th, 2010, 06:33
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Although Apple’s current MacBook Pro notebooks allow you to switch between graphics processing units in order to optimize performance and battery life, Apple doesn’t really provide an easy way to manage the different GPUs on the system, and if you like to tinker you may find the utility gfxCardStatus useful, both for newer and older machines.

Per CNET, Cody Krieger’s gfxCardStatus is a small shareware application that displays which graphics card is the active one. When the system’s computing demands change and the GPU is switched, the utility shows the switches in real-time, either by displaying an “n” (GeForce 330M) or a “i” (Intel HD) in the menu. If you have the Growl notification system installed, gfxCardStatus will inform you in real-time whenever the graphics processor is changed.

In addition to notifications and alerts, gfxCardStatus will list any processes that are using the current graphics processor, and allow you to manually switch the active GPUs on the system.

Despite this, the program does offer a unique advantage to users of the older MacBook Pro models, in that the GPU switching feature does allow for you to switch GPUs without logging out and closing down your applications. The screen will go blue and then black, but will then reappear and the secondary GPU will be used. This may be convenient for some users; however, it is still an experimental feature so try or use it with caution.

gfxCardStatus 1.6.1 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

Intel demonstrates Light Peak port technology for HD video streams

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Date: Thursday, May 6th, 2010, 04:48
Category: News

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PC Pro is reporting that Intel has been demoing a laptop running the company’s “Light Peak” connectivity standard initially offering transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps in both directions. The company previously demonstrated the technology using a prototype Mac Pro motherboard last year, but has now reduced the required hardware to fit inside a laptop enclosure.

The demonstration laptop was sending two separate HD video streams to a nearby television screen, without any visible lag. The laptop includes a 12mm square chip that converts the optical light into electrical data that the computer understands.

Intel’s chief technology officer, Justin Rattner, claimed that the bandwidth afforded by the optical technology is practically unlimited. “Light Peak begins at 10Gbits/sec, simultaneously in both directions,” he said. “We expect to increase that speed dramatically. You’ll see multiple displays being served by a single Light Peak connection. There’s almost no limit to the bandwidth – fibers can carry trillions of bits per second”.

Intel has touted Light Peak as a possible replacement to USB, Firewire, and display connectors in the future, and notes that the hardware should become available to computer manufacturers by the end of this year.

Core i7-based MacBook Pro boasts speedy SATA benchmarks

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Date: Wednesday, April 28th, 2010, 09:01
Category: MacBook Pro, News

In as much as the new Core i7-based MacBook Pro has been described as being toasty, an article over on DIGILLOYD offers benchmarks citing strong SATA write performance on the new model.

Per the article, the April 2010 MacBook Pro has top-flight performance on both internal SATA ports via the following benchmarks:

DIGLLOYD tracked these benchmarks courtesy of its diglloydTools 2.0 package, which is currently available for US$40.

If you’ve snagged the new Core i7 MacBook Pro and have any feedback to offer on it, let us know.

Benchmark test finds Core i7-based MacBook Pro reaches over 100 degrees celcius

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 26th, 2010, 05:57
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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As nifty as the new Intel Core i7-based MacBook Pro notebook is, the days of the toasty lap may have returned. According to a series of tests run by PC Authority, Apple’s new notebook was found to climb over 100 degrees Celsius when running the Cinebench application.

In the tests, the notebook’s metal shell proved ineffective at dissipating the heat as well as the similarly-equipped Fujitsu Lifebook SH760, which finished the same test at 81 degrees, and actually required PC Authority to run the MacBook Pro on its side to complete certain tests. The site thinks that Apple’s cooling solution may be inadequate for a Core i7.

If you’ve snagged the new MacBook Pro and have any feedback to offer on its operating temperatures (or heat dissipation tips), please let us know.

iFixit tears into 15″ mid-2010 MacBook Pro

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Date: Friday, April 16th, 2010, 03:04
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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Once again, the cool cats at iFixit have torn into an Apple device, this time shredding the new 15″ mid-2010 MacBook Pro notebook. Per Engadget, the teardown didn’t reveal anything too stunning and aside from the obvious processor upgrade, not much has changed since 2009 model except the odd antenna mounted on the optical drive frame and tri-wing screws in place of the Torx 5, but it appears that the AirPort/Bluetooth assembly now resembles that of the 13″ unibody MacBook.

Among the more interesting finds was the Intel BD82HM55 S LGZS Platform Controller Hub, which seems to function as an intermediary chip between the Intel and NVIDIA graphics cards.

Beyond this, it seems to be business as usual with the new notebook.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on a new mid-2010 MacBook Pro and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know.

Intel: Light Peak could succeed, replace USB 3.0 ports in several years

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Date: Wednesday, April 14th, 2010, 11:14
Category: News

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Representatives from Intel went on record to state that the company’s upcoming Light Peak technology could eventually succeed and replace USB 3.0 in several years. Intel, which announced Light Peak last year, hopes it will be broadly used by devices ranging from PCs to consumer electronics and other gadgets, said Kevin Kahn, an Intel senior fellow, in a speech at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in Beijing. Per Macworld, Intel will make the technology available late this year and expects partners to start shipping devices with it next year, Kahn said.

“We view this as a logical future successor to USB 3.0,” Kahn said. “In some sense we’d… like to build the last cable you’ll ever need.”

A trend toward optical instead of electrical links raises the risk that separate optical cables could appear for many protocols, such as USB and serial ATA, said Justin Rattner, the head of Intel Labs, on the sidelines of IDF. Light Peak can run multiple protocols at the same time over one line, so all the data meant for the separate cables could run through one Light Peak cable instead.

Intel insists there is no conflict between Light Peak and USB 3.0 and views the technologies as complementary, as Light Peak enables USB and other protocols to run together on a single, longer cable and at higher speeds in the future, according to a slide in Kahn’s IDF presentation. “We expect both to exist together in the market and perhaps on the same platform at the same time,” the slide said.

A laptop with Light Peak built in was on show during Kahn’s speech. A long, thin Light Peak cable, which linked the laptop to a docking station and a monitor, was used simultaneously to transmit Blu-ray video, a feed from a high-definition camera and a duplication of the notebook’s display onto the other screen. Light Peak can currently transfer data at a speed of 10G bps (bits per second), or fast enough to send a full Blu-Ray movie in less than half a minute, according to Intel. But the technology could be scaled up to 10 times that speed in the next decade according to company representatives.

USB 3.0, the latest version of USB, is far slower than Light Peak with a signalling rate of 5G bps, though it remains much faster than the current version of USB. Still, USB 3.0 is not yet widespread in devices. That is partly because many PC manufacturers will wait on USB 3.0 until support is built directly into the chipsets they buy, which is only expected to happen in late 2011, according to a research note from In-Stat.

Intel, which is a major vendor of PC chipsets, did not immediately reply to a question about whether it will launch chipsets with built-in support for USB 3.0. A spokesman for rival chip maker Advanced Micro Devices said the company will have chipsets with built-in support for USB 3.0 but declined to say when.

When asked if Intel would build Light Peak support into its chipsets, Kahn said the company could do so if Light Peak spreads quickly, but declined to comment further.

Intel expects an industry group promoting Light Peak to launch next year, Kahn said. The company has said it will work with the industry to make Light Peak a standard and speed its adoption.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases updated MacBook Pros featuring Core i5, i7 processors, boosted graphics cards

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Date: Tuesday, April 13th, 2010, 07:31
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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The rumors were true and Apple released its long-awaited MacBook Pro notebooks on Tuesday. Per Macworld UK, the new notebooks boast faster processors, NVIDIA graphics and longer battery life.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro now features the new NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor for up to 80% faster graphics and 10-hour built-in battery. The GeForce 320 features 48 processing cores and is billed as the fastest integrated graphics processor on the market.

New 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro models meanwhile, feature Intel Core i5 and i7 processors and Apple’s new automatic graphics switching technology that toggles between powerful NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M and energy efficient Intel HD Graphics processors.

Apple claims the 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro laptops are up to 50% faster. Using Intel’s 32 nanometer process, Intel Core i5 and i7 processors integrate the memory controller and Level 3 cache for faster access to system memory.

Hyper-Threading technology improves data throughput by creating virtual processing cores, while Turbo Boost optimises performance between the two processor cores, accelerating the system from 2.66 GHz to 3.06 GHz for intensive dual core tasks, and up to 3.33 GHz for single core tasks.

Apple notes, all 15-inch and 17-inch models include two graphics processors, the new NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M for peak performance and Intel HD Graphics for better energy efficient operation.

Apple adds, the MacBook Pro glass Multi-Touch trackpad now supports inertial scrolling, an intuitive way to scroll through large photo libraries, lengthy documents and long web sites. All MacBook Pros feature LED-backlit wide-angle displays with a broad color gamut.

The 17-inch MacBook Pro includes a high resolution 1920 x 1200 display, while the 15-inch MacBook Pro is now available with an optional high resolution 1680 x 1050 display.

Customers can also upgrade their MacBook Pro with new 128GB, 256GB and 512GB solid state drives.

Apple has released the following MacBook Pro specs and pricing details:

The 2.4 GHz, 13-inch MacBook Pro, for a suggested retail price of US$1,199, includes:
• 13.3-inch widescreen LED-backlit 1280 x 800 glossy display;
• 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 3MB shared L2 cache;
• 1066 MHz front-side bus;
• 4GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, expandable to 8GB;
• NVIDIA GeForce 320M integrated graphics;
• 250GB serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm, with Sudden Motion Sensor;
• a slot-load 8X SuperDrive® with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive;
• Mini DisplayPort (VGA, DVI and HDMI adapters sold separately);
• AirPort Extreme® 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
• Gigabit Ethernet port;
• iSight® video camera;
• two USB 2.0 ports;
• one FireWire® 800 port (FireWire 400 compatible);
• SD card slot;
• combined headphone/line in (analog/digital);
• glass Multi-Touch trackpad and illuminated keyboard;
• built-in, 63.5WHr lithium polymer battery; and
• 60 Watt MagSafe® Power Adapter.

The 2.66 GHz, 13-inch MacBook Pro, for a suggested retail price of US$1,499, includes:
• 13.3-inch widescreen LED-backlit 1280 x 800 glossy display;
• 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 3MB shared L2 cache;
• 1066 MHz front-side bus;
• 4GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, expandable to 8GB;
• NVIDIA GeForce 320M integrated graphics;
• 320GB serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm, with Sudden Motion Sensor;
• a slot-load 8X SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive;
• Mini DisplayPort (VGA, DVI and HDMI adapters sold separately);
• AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
• Gigabit Ethernet port;
• iSight video camera;
• two USB 2.0 ports;
• one FireWire 800 port (FireWire 400 compatible);
• SD card slot;
• combined headphone/line in (analog/digital);
• glass Multi-Touch trackpad and illuminated keyboard;
• built-in, 63.5WHr lithium polymer battery; and
• 60 Watt MagSafe Power Adapter.

Build-to-order options for the 13-inch MacBook Pro include the ability to upgrade to 8GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, a 320GB 5400 rpm or a 500GB 5400 rpm hard drive, a 128GB, 256GB or 512GB solid state drive, Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter, Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter (for 30-inch DVI display), Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter, Apple Remote, Apple MagSafe Airline Adapter and the AppleCare Protection Plan.

The 2.4 GHz, 15-inch MacBook Pro, for a suggested retail price of US$1,799, includes:
• 15.4-inch widescreen LED-backlit 1440 x 900 glossy display;
• 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5 with 3MB shared L3 cache;
• 4GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, expandable to 8GB;
• integrated Intel HD Graphics + NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M discrete graphics with 256MB of VRAM;
• 320GB serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm, with Sudden Motion Sensor;
• a slot-load 8X SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive;
• Mini DisplayPort (VGA, DVI and HDMI adapters sold separately);
• AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
• Gigabit Ethernet port;
• iSight video camera;
• two USB 2.0 ports;
• one FireWire 800 port;
• SD card slot;
• audio line in (analog/digital);
• audio line out/headphone (analog/digital);
• glass Multi-Touch trackpad and illuminated keyboard;
• built-in, 77.5WHr lithium polymer battery; and
• 85 Watt MagSafe Power Adapter.

The 2.53 GHz, 15-inch MacBook Pro, for a suggested retail price of US$1,999, includes:
• 15.4-inch widescreen LED-backlit 1440 x 900 glossy display;
• 2.53 GHz Intel Core i5 with 3MB shared L3 cache;
• 4GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, expandable to 8GB;
• integrated Intel HD Graphics + NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M discrete graphics with 256MB of VRAM;
• 500GB serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm, with Sudden Motion Sensor;
• a slot-load 8X SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive;
• Mini DisplayPort (VGA, DVI and HDMI adapters sold separately);
• AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
• Gigabit Ethernet port;
• iSight video camera;
• two USB 2.0 ports;
• one FireWire 800 port;
• SD card slot;
• audio line in (analog/digital);
• audio line out/headphone (analog/digital);
• glass Multi-Touch trackpad and illuminated keyboard;
• built-in, 77.5WHr lithium polymer battery; and
• 85 Watt MagSafe Power Adapter.

The 2.66 GHz, 15-inch MacBook Pro, for a suggested retail price of US$2,199, includes:
• 15.4-inch widescreen LED-backlit 1440 x 900 glossy display;
• 2.66 GHz Intel Core i7 with 4MB shared L3 cache;
• 4GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, expandable to 8GB;
• integrated Intel HD Graphics + NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M discrete graphics with 512MB of VRAM;
• 500GB serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm, with Sudden Motion Sensor;
• a slot-load 8X SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive;
• Mini DisplayPort (VGA, DVI and HDMI adapters sold separately);
• AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
• Gigabit Ethernet port;
• iSight video camera;
• two USB 2.0 ports;
• one FireWire 800 port;
• SD card slot;
• audio line in (analog/digital);
• audio line out/headphone (analog/digital);
• glass Multi-Touch trackpad and illuminated keyboard;
• built-in, 77.5WHr lithium polymer battery; and
• 85 Watt MagSafe Power Adapter.

Build-to-order options for the 15-inch MacBook Pro include the ability to upgrade to 8GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, a high resolution 15-inch 1680 x 1050 display in glossy and antiglare, a 500GB 5400 rpm or 500GB 7200 rpm hard drive, a 128GB, 256GB or 512GB solid state drive, Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter, Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter (for 30-inch DVI display), Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter, Apple Remote, Apple MagSafe Airline Adapter and the AppleCare Protection Plan.

The 2.53 GHz, 17-inch MacBook Pro, for a suggested retail price of US$2,299, includes:
• 17-inch widescreen LED-backlit 1920 x 1200, glossy display;
• 2.53 GHz Intel Core i5 with 3MB shared L3 cache;
• 4GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, expandable to 8GB;
• integrated Intel HD Graphics + NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M discrete graphics with 512MB of VRAM;
• 500GB serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm, with Sudden Motion Sensor;
• a slot-load 8X SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive;
• Mini DisplayPort (VGA, DVI and HDMI adapters sold separately);
• AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
• Gigabit Ethernet port;
• iSight video camera;
• three USB 2.0 ports;
• one FireWire 800 port (FireWire 400 compatible);
• ExpressCard/34 expansion card slot;
• audio line in (analog/digital);
• audio line out/headphone (analog/digital);
• glass Multi-Touch trackpad and illuminated keyboard;
• built-in, 95WHr lithium polymer battery; and
• 85 Watt MagSafe Power Adapter.

Build-to-order options for the 17-inch MacBook Pro include a 2.66 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB 1066 MHz DDR3 memory, a 500GB 7200 rpm hard drive, a 128GB, 256GB or 512GB solid state drive, antiglare display, Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter, Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter (for 30-inch DVI display), Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter, Apple Remote, Apple MagSafe Airline Adapter and the AppleCare Protection Plan.

Full details can be found on the Apple Store web site.

If you have two cents to hurl in on the new machines, please let us know in the comments.