‘Modbook Pro X’ Tablet Based on 15-Inch Retina MacBook Pro Debuts on Kickstarter

July 31st, 2014 by Manmohan No comments »

Modbook, the company with a history of offering pen-based Mac tablets using the internals of Apple’s notebooks, is announcing a new Kickstarter campaign today to support the launch of a new Modbook Pro X based on the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. The $150,000 campaign will allow users to send in their own machines for conversion at $1999 or reserve complete systems directly from Modbook starting at $3999.

Various configurations of the Modbook Pro X are available, including processor options ranging up to the top-of-the-line 2.8 GHz chip launched in the Retina MacBook Pro just yesterday, up to 32 GB of RAM, and up to 2 TB of flash storage.

Additional options for Modbook Pro X customers include integrated Keybars on the rear of the device providing eyes-free programmable access to key combinations for commands and shortcuts, as well as a Keyboard Stand that serves as a keyboard, adjustable easel stand, and protective cover for the Modbook Pro X.

Shipping on complete systems is scheduled for January 2015 in limited quantities, with the bulk of orders starting the following month. Send-in-your-own systems are planned to begin shipping roughly a month later.

Given its price, the Modbook Pro X is obviously targeted at a niche market interested in a tablet running full OS X such as creative professionals, but for those people the device may be an appealing option. For others, particularly those who would appreciate an OS X-based iPad, it’s at least an interesting example of what can be done.

Backers not interested in a full Modbook system can also support the project through cheaper rewards such as a $59 Modbook Digitizer Pen that is compatible with an array of pen-based tablets or a Modbook Shuttle portable hard drive starting at $139.

Source:http://www.macrumors.com/2014/07/30/modbook-pro-x-kickstarter/

Microsoft under monopoly investigation in China

July 31st, 2014 by Manmohan No comments »

China is a technology growth area and a major earner for many companies, but Microsoft is currently battling hard to keep its foot-hold in the region. Its recent win in becoming the first company to sell a games console in the area for 14 years is tempered by the news that the Chinese government is forbidding the use of Windows 8.1 on its systems until alternatives have been thoroughly investigated.

Now, local paper the Shanghai China Morning Post has confirmed reports that Microsoft’s Chinese operation is under active investigation amid claims it is running an illegal monopoly. Facilities in Beijing, Shanghai, Ghuangzhou and Chengdu have all been raided by teams from the State Administration for Industry and Commerce as part of its investigation of anti-trust practices.

Microsoft has issued a statement to the paper confirming the raids and stating it will ‘actively cooperate’ with the government’s investigation, but at present neither Microsoft nor the Chinese state has released details of the allegations levelled against the company.

Source:http://www.bit-tech.net/news/bits/2014/07/30/ms-monopoly-china/1

Cooler Master V1200 Platinum PSU review

July 31st, 2014 by Manmohan No comments »

Self-proclaimed tech nerds around the world are turning their backs on system building. This is tragic, as this art is part of the foundation of the tech nerd lifestyle. It is hard to argue with these perceived traitors – an off-the-shelf tablet such as an iPad can do very much. In other words, why spend the time and money building a PC? The same can be said for much in life. I mean, why cook when you can get take out? Why mow your lawn when you can pay someone to do it? The answer is simple – fun and self-satisfaction. Yes, building a computer is a rewarding experience and everyone should at least attempt it.

System building is something I am still a fan of and I know I am not alone – you guys are out there. Amazing components are constantly being released – motherboards, processors and even power supplies. A power supply is the unsung hero of any system build. It literally powers the computer! It is sad how often people choose cheap PSUs for their builds and instead focus on the “fun” stuff, like RAM and processors.

I have always cautioned against cheap power supplies. When I say “cheap”, please do not misunderstand – I am referring to poor quality and not low price. If you can get high quality for a low price, awesome. However, if you’ve never heard of the manufacturer, it is probably a good idea to pass.

Recently, I saw a new PSU from world-renowned manufacturer Cooler Master that got my motor running – the V1200 Platinum. Once I wiped the drool from my chin, I obtained one to review.
The V1200 provides 1200 watts, as you might have guessed, along with a fully modular cable design for easy installation and cable management. It is 80 PLUS Platinum certified (up to 93 per cent efficiency @ 50 per cent load), comes with 12 PCI-E 6+2pin connectors for 4 way SLI and high-end builds, and it has a seven-year extended warranty.

The specs are simply amazing (see the spec table at the foot of this review for the full details – we won’t swamp you with them here). But while specs are certainly important, they only tell part of the story. Again, some no-name manufacturer could produce something with good specs on paper and not deliver. Luckily, we are talking about Cooler Master here, so the company’s positive reputation speaks volumes; however, I had to test it for myself. Coincidentally, I am in the middle of refurbishing my existing PC with a new CPU cooler and case, so receiving the V1200 Platinum for testing was very timely.

Unboxing

I am happy to say that the unboxing alone was an amazing experience. Make no mistake – packaging matters. If someone cooks you a delicious meal that looks like crap, the overall experience suffers, regardless of the taste. Cooler Master clearly wanted to reward the consumer and it succeeded. I was blown away, and you can watch my unboxing below.

First impressions

The heft of the V1200 Platinum is very intimidating. However, when it comes to a power supply, you want heft. It is an indicator of quality; however, not all heavy power supplies are quality. In other words, an indicator is not a guarantee, simply one thing to look for. Luckily, most modern cases subscribe to the design of having the PSU on the bottom of the case. Unless you bought the flimsiest case with a top-mounted PSU slot, you should not have an issue.

The modular cables are very much premium quality. You can tell that they were not an afterthought. You see, they are very flat and black. This lends to superior cable management. Yes, even that deep black colour helps to hide the cables so they stand out less. The flatness is key to management though, and not only are they thin, but solid too. The amazing thing is, even though they are well designed and rigid, they are not too stiff to route around corners. Overall, the cables create a beautiful interior design. Whether or not you have a window on your case is inconsequential. Even when not looking at your build, you should be aware of it. Aim for perfection!

Installation

Once it was time to install, I gathered the four screws and my trusty screwdriver. When installing a PSU, it is recommended to seat it properly and secure it with all of the screws. However, I usually just use two – one in the top left corner and one in the bottom right. In this install, I used all four because, why not? The screws went in straight and without issue.

Once secured in my case, it was time to connect the necessary cables. That’s the great thing about a modular PSU, you only need to connect the cables you actually, well, need. This means there is less of a mess inside your case. In other words, it doesn’t look like a spaghetti explosion.

Source:http://www.itproportal.com/reviews/hardware/cooler-master-v1200-platinum-psu-review/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+itproportal%2Frss+(Latest+ITProPortal+News)

Solar powered computer to connect rural communities

July 31st, 2014 by Manmohan No comments »

Cape Town-based company Capsule Technologies has produced Africa’s first low-wattage, solar-powered desktop computer, the IMPI Mk1.
The hardy computer, built to withstand hot and dusty conditions, uses less power then an energy-saving lightbulb. It runs on the Android system and uses open source software to make it more accessible.
With its 500GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM, the design features a standalone Computer Processing Unit (CPU) that allows the user to recycle e-waste by using secondhand hard-drives, keyboard and monitor.
Franck Martinaux and Megan Vercuil, the team behind the computer’s design, told SAinfo this week that they wanted to develop a machine that used fewer resources, conserved energy and addressed the lack of infrastructure in Africa’s remote rural areas.
“We wanted to offer the same chance to prosper for any African … rich or poor, in urban or rural areas, and to create the awareness of alternative means to get the same result, especially for people in those under-serviced communities where access to technology, services and information seems to be out of reach,” Vercuil said.
It took Martinaux, a hardware and software designer and Vercuil, an IT and education consultant, a year to develop the computer, which runs off a mere 20 watts, as compared to the 200 to 400 watts used by an ordinary computer.
“We identified a problem around the high electricity consumption of standard desktop computers and wanted to reduce the carbon footprint,” Vercuil said.
“Ordinary computers can emit almost 220Kg of CO2 per annum. By using more efficient systems as found in the African computer range (such as the IMPI Mk1) of PCs, this level of CO2 could be reduced by almost 70%, down to a mere 70Kg per annum.
“But you can still do everything with 20W. Absolutely the same things as a standard laptop or a tablet,” she said.
“IMPI Mk1 uses specialised systems, based on low-power computer processing units such as the Intel Atom 2550 dual core processor 1.86Ghz. These CPUs develop much less heat during operation, often less that 25% of the heat developed by a regular desktop CPU system.”

Using it with solar power, Vercuil said, a typical application would be a school, a mobile ICT facility (container), or even an internet café where up to 20 machines could be powered and the cost of the solar panel optimised.

“The computer comes with both an ethernet card and wireless card, and has built-in wireless mesh networking, which provides a community network between computers and does not need to be linked up through an internet service provider or cellphone subscription. This translates into a saving on infrastructure and monthly costs.

“In addition, it uses Linux and Android and open source software like King Office or Libre Office, which has word-processing [capabilities] and spreadsheets. You can also access dictionary and wikipedia offline content,” she said.

“We are developing the software layer to enhance Android to a top-level desktop environment which includes an ethernet network, printer drivers and CD burner software. This computer is as easy to use as a mobile phone is.”

Vercuil said the computer was well-received during its prototype phase when it was tested by schoolchildren in Gugulethu and Khayelitsha, who enjoyed the game apps and the word processing apps in particular.

She said they planned to do a more focused roll-out to gather evidence about the machine’s usability, performance and areas for improvement. “This is a work in progress since we became shortlisted for the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme to represent South Africa.

“We are in talks with the Western Cape government to try and identify ways in which they may use, it such as MOD [mass participation, opportunity and access, development and growth] centres.”

The company ran a Thundafund crowd funding campaign, raising R20 000 for research and development for the computer. The IMPI MK1 is also an official project of the World Design Capital 2014, Vercuil said, which gave them “a great starting point for networking”.

The computer is available from the company for R3 399, and Vercuil says they are currently talking to distributors.

“Currently there are no products on the market that match our affordable price, and our expertise is specific. Computers are being sourced from overseas.

“Our dream is to grow local expertise, and we are committed to use local people, whom we have committed to teach because currently services like firmware development for any kind of device are outsourced to India, and grow our economy at the same time by producing locally and create jobs.”

Source:http://www.southafrica.info/business/trends/innovations/solar-computer-300714.htm#.U9m91uOSyGM

Red Hat aims to standardize Linux for 64-bit ARM servers

July 31st, 2014 by Manmohan No comments »

Red Hat has developed a version of the Linux operating system that can be used to test chips and associated hardware based on the ARMv8-A 64-bit architecture for servers with the aim of standardizing that market.

Based on the company’s Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), the Linux distribution is part of a partner program that Red Hat launched Wednesday for potential ARM hardware vendors.

“We don’t call it RHEL, but it is a functional, unsupported, operating system for partners to use in their development activities,” said Mark Coggin, Red Hat senior director of platform product marketing.

Red Hat designed the program to get the hardware manufacturers to settle on a standard implementation of the ARMv8-A specification. ARM does not manufacture its own processors, licensing its designs to chip manufacturers instead.

A standard implementation would mean that customers could purchase ARMv8-A servers from any manufacturer, knowing that their ARM 64-bit operating systems and software will work no matter who created the chip, Coggin said. Red Hat would like Linux ARM to avoid the fate of AT&T’s Unix operating system, which fragmented into a number of different and incompatible versions.

“We see the importance of stepping in early and ensure that we don’t end up with a fragmented approach, where if you wanted to run an AMD implementation of ARM, you’d need one version of Linux, and if you wanted to run a Broadcom implementation of ARM, you’d need another version,” Coggin said.

Some of the work of standardizing ARM for servers has been done through an industry consortium started earlier this year, called the Server Base System Architecture (SBSA) specification, as well as through ongoing work from the Linaro Enterprise Group. Red Hat’s unnamed ARM Linux distribution uses specifications from both groups.

Red Hat hopes to influence not only the companies that make the chips but also hardware vendors, original equipment manufacturers and original design manufacturers.

Thus far, manufacturers such as Advanced Micro Devices, American Megatrends, AppliedMicro, Broadcom, Cavium, Dell and Hewlett-Packard have all pledged support to Red Hat’s standardization efforts.

“If ARM is to be a viable competitor in the server space, [hardware providers] have to comply to the common understanding of what is possible to run on this type of server. Customers and users demand that from manufacturers today in the x86 world,” said Yan Fisher, Red Hat technical product marketing manager.

Through the program, Red Hat will learn more about what the manufacturers need from an enterprise Linux distribution for 64-bit ARM, Coggin said. The operating system may one day become the basis for an ARM version of RHEL.

Source:http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9250061/Red_Hat_aims_to_standardize_Linux_for_64_bit_ARM_servers?source=rss_latest_content&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+computerworld%2Fnews%2Ffeed+(Latest+from+Computerworld)

Intel’s MinnowBoard Max coming in late, commanding higher prices

July 31st, 2014 by Manmohan No comments »

It’s been a rough start for Intel’s MinnowBoard Max open-source computer, which has been delayed and is now pricier.

The Max is like the Raspberry Pi, an open-source computer that has taken hobbyists by storm. The Max is a circuit board, with no case, that includes most components of a PC, including a CPU, memory and slots for add-ons such as storage and graphics. It’s designed for people who want to build a basic Linux PC and for software developers looking to write x86 applications.

The Max was due to ship in June, priced at US$129 for a board with a dual-core Atom chip and $99 for a single-core board. Two retailers are taking orders for the dual-core board, but they’re asking more than the list price. One of the retailers, Mouser, is selling the board for $146. It estimates the dual-core board will ship on Aug. 4. The other, Tigal in the U.K., is going even higher to €135.60 (US$182). Tigal said it hasn’t determined a delivery date.

The single-core board will be available shortly, an Intel spokesman said in an email interview. The company did not comment on the retailers’ prices.

Apparently, the demand for Max was so high that it disrupted Intel’s product shipment plans, according to the MinnowBoard website.

“The dual-core version is available before the single-core because we ordered them for internal development. Purchasing demand has been so high, however, we decided to release some of those to distributors. Single-core parts will be available in the second run of boards, which will follow shortly,” Intel said on its website.

Intel is adding more distributors so the board will be available worldwide, the company spokesman said.

The MinnowBoard Max is an upgrade to the original MinnowBoard, which shipped last August with a 4-year-old Atom chip. The new board has Atom E3800 chips based on the latest Bay Trail architecture.

Other features on the board include DDR3 RAM, integrated graphics, a USB 3.0 slot, Gigabit Ethernet and HDMI ports, and 8MB of SPI flash memory for system firmware. It also has a PCI-Express 2.0 slot and SATA controllers. Other expansion options include UARTs and GPIO ports.

Like its predecessor, the MinnowBoard Max is open-source hardware, and Intel has published schematics of the board design so it can be easily replicated.

Intel also sells the Galileo Gen2 board, which runs on the Quark CPU. Intel and Microsoft jointly developed the $299 Sharks Cove board, which can be ordered but has not yet shipped.

Source:http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/551301/intel_minnowboard_max_coming_late_commanding_higher_prices/

AMD’s 64-bit ARM board points toward x86 coexistence

July 31st, 2014 by Manmohan No comments »

Advanced Micro Devices is moving closer to a motherboard design that will accept both x86 and ARM chips with the shipment of its first 64-bit ARM board.

The Opteron A1100-Series developer hardware is an uncased computer costing $2,999, and aimed at programmers who want to write applications and drivers for AMD’s unreleased ARM servers, which are expected to become available by early next year.

This is the first ARM-based system released by AMD, which by 2016 hopes to ship servers in which x86 and ARM chips could coexist. The effort to unite x86 and ARM, called Project Skybridge, involves the development of a motherboard to which customers can attach chips based on either architecture.

AMD already sells PCs, tablets and server chips based on the x86 architecture, and is making ARM chips for servers and embedded products. With Skybridge, AMD hopes to bring x86 and ARM into one server and provide more flexibility to customers who want to switch between architectures.

The board is a stepping stone for developers to write software and develop hardware and components that could ultimately be used in Skybridge-based servers, said Karl Freund, vice president of marketing and product management, at AMD’s server unit.

Based on user feedback, boards like this one could help contribute to designs of Skybridge servers and beyond, Freund said.

For example, users can play with networking, security and storage features that could be common across the upcoming ARM server and Project Skybridge designs, Freund said.

The hardware and software infrastructure will also mature faster by the time Project Skybridge products are out, Freund said.

The growing interest in ARM processors stems from its low-power characteristics, more efficient in some web-hosting scenarios. ARM is also seen as an alternative to Intel’s x86 server chips, which dominate data centers.

The board has an AMD Opteron A1100 processor — nicknamed Seattle — with up to eight cores based on ARM’s Cortex-A57 processor design. It has DDR3 and DDR4 memory channels with error correction, two 10-Gigabit Ethernet ports, eight PCI-Express 3.0 lanes and eight SATA lanes in which to attach storage. Other features include a data compression co-processor and a security layer that authenticates users and encrypts and decrypts data. The security layer — called TrustZone — is expected to be common feature across AMD’s x86 and ARM processors.

While the early board will not support specifications from the HSA Foundation, an AMD-led organization developing open-source programming tools to harness the joint computing power of CPUs and graphics processors, future ARM server chips will support the specs, Freund said.

The board ships with software including the LAMP stack — Red Hat Fedora Linux, Apache web server, MySQL database and PHP tools. The board also supports Java 7 and 8, which don’t yet have native support for parallel acceleration across CPUs and graphics processors. The acceleration can be added to Java virtual machines only through extra layers of code. AMD and Oracle are collaborating on an OpenJDK project called Project Sumatra, which will bring native CPU-GPU parallel execution to ARM servers with Java 9, which is due next year.

Source:http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9250062/AMD_39_s_64_bit_ARM_board_points_toward_x86_coexistence?source=rss_datacenter

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