Monday, January 7, 2013

AnandTech Article Channel

AnandTech Article Channel

Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook: Acer’s Best Foot Forward

Posted: 07 Jan 2013 12:30 AM PST

Over the years, we’ve seen many budget-oriented Acer offerings of one form or another. There have also been a few higher-end options, but for most of their products Acer has never quite managed to shake their budget-oriented feel. That changes today with one of the sleekest Ultrabooks to grace our test bench since Intel announced the platform two years back.

Acer’s third-generation Ultrabook leaves behind the S3 and S5 models of yesteryear and goes all-in on quality, with a 1080p IPS touch screen, Gorilla Glass 2 on the cover, and a sturdy yet extremely thin chassis that can lay claim to the title of “thinnest Ultrabook” for the time being. With some help from Windows 8, Acer has also managed to improve on boot times and you can be up in running in under 10 seconds flat. With all the good, however, you’re probably wondering if there’s a catch. There is, potentially, but it’s the same old concern we’ve raised before: cost. Read on to find out what we think about Acer’s S7 and whether it’s the right Ultrabook for you.

More NVIDIA Icera i500 Details - 28nm HP, Category 3 LTE At Launch, 4 Later

Posted: 07 Jan 2013 12:01 AM PST

We've confirmed some more details about NVIDIA's newly-announced Icera i500 Soft Modem. First, the Icera i500 is built on TSMC's 28nm HP (High Performance) High-K Metal Gate process. NVIDIA's strategy with i500 is to take advantage of the lower active power compared to LP and power gate the core entirely while the modem is not active. In addition, NVIDIA claims i500 can actively power gate each of the individual 8 processing cores inside as load conditions change or depending on the software package loaded onto the modem. 

The i500 soft modem will also be paired with an entirely new transceiver, built on 65nm LP CMOS, I'm told this isn't TSMC's RF CMOS but rather some other "RF-friendly" 65nm process. In addition NVIDIA's target is a similar number of ports to Qualcomm, 7, before adding switches. I didn't get a high/mid/low band breakdown.

Initially i500 will be capable of UE Category 3 LTE (100 Mbps downlink on 20 MHz FDD-LTE) and a later release will enable UE Category 4 LTE, which is one of the nice software upgradeable parts of an SDR architecture. On the WCDMA/HSPA+ side, DC-HSPA+ (42 Mbps downlink) is supported. I'm told that the initial 3GPP release will be 9, and later 10 with LTE Category 4 and carrier aggregation for LTE. i500 at present I'm told includes 3GPP family air interfaces (GSM/EDGE/WCDMA/LTE), no word on CDMA2000 1x/EVDO 3GPP2 suite making it. Voice modes including VoLTE are indeed supported as well. 

D-Link at CES 2013: Multiple 802.11ac Routers & IP Camera Solutions

Posted: 06 Jan 2013 11:57 PM PST

D-Link has been pretty busy preparing products for CES launches, and their focus is very evident. A trio of 802.11ac routers have been introduced along with some surveillance solutions.  Without further digression,let us dive down to the products being introduced.

802.11ac Routers:

DGL-5500 Gaming Router (AC1300) : D-Link has been using Ubicom's solution for QoS on their routers. In March last year, Qualcomm acquired Ubicom. It is very likely that the StreamBoost technology is based on Ubicom's IP. D-Link's DGL-5500 boasts of StreamBoost technology for multi-player gaming, four GbE ports and 1300 Mbps throughput (867 Mbps with 802.11ac and 450 Mbps with 802.11n). At CES, we will confirm whether the radios are Broadcom's, or whether we finally have another vendor shipping 802.11ac radios to customers. Availability is scheduled for late-spring, and pricing will be announced at that time.

DIR-868L (AC1750) and DIR-860L (AC1200) Cloud Routers : The 868L is a dual-band solution delivering 1300 Mbps in 802.11ac and 450 Mbps in 802.11n, while the 860L is also dual-band delivering 867 Mbps in 802.11ac and 300 Mbps in 802.11n. Both routers are scheduled to ship in April for $150 and $170 respectively.

Wi-Fi / Media Sharing Cloud Router:

The DIR-508L is aimed at frequent travelers and provides Wi-Fi hotspot / repeater functions at 300 Mbps speeds along with USB charing ports and USB / SD card slots for storage in a pocket sized device. The USB port also supports 3G / 4G USB modems for creation of wireless hotspots. There is a 4000 mAh battery to keep the device up and running for 8 hours.

IP Cameras in the Cloud:

D-Link is introducing two consumer IP cameras recording SD video (640x480) in H.264 and streaming over a 802.11n connection. The Cloud Camera 1050 will ship next month for $80, while the 1150 (which adds infrared capabilities) will ship for $100. In the IP camera space, resolution is king, and it is disappointing to see only SD IP cameras from D-Link. That said, the pricing is pretty much on-par for the capabilities.

Stay tuned for our hands-on impressions and further information from our CES visit later this week.

More Details on NVIDIA's Tegra 4 & i500: 5th core is A15, 28nm HPL, UE Category 3 LTE

Posted: 06 Jan 2013 09:30 PM PST

We just finished NVIDIA's CES press conference where it introduced the Tegra 4 SoC and Shield mobile gaming console. Immediately following the press event we snagged some more information about Tegra 4 and the NVIDIA i500 Baseband silicon:

- Tegra 4 is built on TSMC's 28nm HPm process (low power 28nm with High-K + Metal Gate)

Just confirmed that our initial information was incorrect, it's 28nm HPL (28nm low power with high-k + metal gates). The difference between HPL and HPM is a optimization for leakage vs. peak performance. This helps explain the 1.9GHz max frequency for the A15s in Tegra 4.

- The fifth/companion core is also a Cortex A15, but synthesized to run at lower frequencies/voltages/power. This isn't the same G in and island of LP process that was Tegra 2/3.

- The fifth/companion core isn't visible to the OS, it's not big.LITTLE but it'll work similarly to how Tegra 3 worked. This probably means no companion core in Windows RT. 

- The four Cortex A15s will run at up to 1.9GHz.

- NEW: die size is around 80mm^2, slightly bigger than Tegra 3 but on a much higher density process

- NEW: the shaders aren't unified, the majority are 20-bit pixel shader cores though. No idea on the ratio yet.

- dual-channel memory interface, LP-DDR3 is supported

- NVIDIA's i500 will launch with LTE UE Category 3 (100Mbps downlink) support, eventually we'll see an update to UE Category 4 (150Mbps downlink). 

- i500 will launch with carrier aggregation for WCDMA, no idea what 3GPP release.


- As far as Shield goes, I wanted to correct one thing about how the PC display streaming works. The PC will stream to the display directly, not through Shield. Shield will pass controller commands to the PC. 

- Shield will launch in Q2 at a price competitive with other mobile gaming systems and tablets. 

- All of the games during the Shield demo were 720p, except for one which was 1080p.

- Miracast is supported, but something better will come later.

NVIDIA Rolls Their Own Handheld Console: Project Shield, Powered By Tegra 4

Posted: 06 Jan 2013 09:14 PM PST

NVIDIA Rolls Their Own Handheld Console: Project Shield, Powered By Tegra 4

Though most of the important launch details of Tegra 4 were leaked weeks in advance, NVIDIA did manage to keep their final major CES announcement under wraps to the very end. Wrapping up their CES presentation, NVIDIA has announced that they will be entering into the handheld console business with their own Tegra 4 powered console, dubbed Project Shield.

While we’re still waiting on NVIDIA for further details, what we do know so far is that Project Shield is essentially a handheld console built around NVIDIA’s recently announced Tegra 4 SoC. Details on Tegra 4 are still sparse since NVIDIA has not announced the individual SKUs, but we do know that the top-end configuration contains 5 ARM A15 CPU cores in a 4+1 configuration similar to Tegra 3, and on the GPU side is backed with a hereto unknown GPU architecture composed of 72 GPU cores.

All of this is built into an oversized game controller that is configured very similarly to the PS3 DualShock 3 controller, possessing 2 concave thumbsticks, a 360-like D-pad , 4 face buttons, and 4 shoulder triggers/buttons (2 on each side). Topping off the console is a 5” 720p multitouch display (no word yet on whether it’s OLED or LCD) that flips over the console in a clamshell fashion. Meanwhile powering the device will be 38 watt-hours of Lithium-Ion battery cells; this is roughly between the Nexus 10 (33.75Wh) and the iPad 3/4 (42.5Wh), meaning Shield will have what amounts to a tablet-capacity battery.

Backing that hardware, storage is provided by a combination of internal and external storage; external storage is provided by a micro-SD card slot found on the back side of the handheld. Also found on the back side of the handheld are a number of other ports: micro-HDMI for display output (4K resolution supported!), micro-USB for data connectivity, and a standard 3.5” audio jack for headphones. Wireless connectivity is also available, with WiFi for data and Miracast plus additional formats for video output.

On the software side of things Project Shield is running what NVIDIA is calling “pure Android”, which in this case is presumably a reference to them not doing any skinning/customizations, ala MotoBlur, TouchWiz, and other OEM customizations. This means that Project Shield is capable of running standard applications (something NVIDIA made sure to demo) and is otherwise usable as a standard Android device. Meanwhile NVIDIA’s Shield application is where gaming takes place, effectively launching users into NVIDIA’s own sandbox, where gamers can pick up Shield-optimized games from the TegraZone store and then run them on the device.

Finally, on the software side of things NVIDIA is also going to be offering a level of integration between Project Shield and their GeForce products by offering their own Splashtop-like remote gaming experience. By leveraging the Video Codec Engine video encoder inside their recent GTX 600 video cards, Project Shield devices will be able to connect to PCs to do remote gaming. To show this off NVIDIA showed a GTX 680 equipped PC running Steam in Big Picture mode being streamed to Shield, the logical pairing to Project Shield’s dual nature as a portable computing device and a controller. Shield will of course also be able to function as an endpoint for any cloud game service providers using NVIDIA's GeForce GRID technology.

Edit: At this point NVIDIA has not announced hard pricing or availability, but we have been given guidance that "Shield will launch in Q2 at a price competitive with other mobile gaming systems and tablets." Since the critical component here is Tegra 4, the Q2 projection for Project Shield’s availability most likely hinges on when exactly T4 will become available this year.

Handheld Specification Comparison
  Project Shield Sony PS Vita Nintendo 3DS XL Google Nexus 7 Apple iPad mini
Display 5-inch 1280 x 720 5-inch 960 x 544 OLED 4.9-inch 800 x 240 + 4.2-inch 320x240 TN 7" 1280 x 800 IPS 7.85-inch 1024 x 768 IPS
CPU NVIDIA Tegra 4 (4+1 Cortex A15)

4 x Cortex A9

2 x ARM11

1.3 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 (T30L - 4 x Cortex A9) 1GHz Apple A5 (2 x Cortex A9, PowerVR SGX543MP2)
GPU NVIDIA Tegra 4 (72 GPU cores) PowerVR SGX543MP4 PICA 200 NVIDIA Tegra 3 (T30L) PowerVR SGX543MP2
Connectivity WiFi, HDMI, USB WiFi, USB WiFi WiFi , USB WiFi, Lightning
Memory N/A 512MB + 128MB 128MB + 6MB 512MB 512MB
Storage N/A Proprietary 2GB + Micro-SD 16GB 16GB
Battery 38Wh 8.2Wh 6.5Wh 16Wh 16.3Wh
Starting Price N/A $249 $199 $199 $329

NVIDIA CES 2013 Press Event: Live Blog

Posted: 06 Jan 2013 07:17 PM PST

We just sat down for NVIDIA's Pre-CES press event. Things are running a bit late now, but we expect the event to start in the next 15 minutes. Keep yourself here for the live blog!

NVIDIA's Pre-CES Press Conference: Live Webcast Starts At 8pm PST

Posted: 06 Jan 2013 05:30 PM PST

Even though CES doesn't officially start until Tuesday, things are already kicking off in Las Vegas. The Storage Visions 2013 conference runs through Monday, and meanwhile a number of other companies are hosting their press conferences before the event even begins in order to garner some attention before the show (and the flow of news out of the show) becomes too hectic.

The first of these major press conferences will be NVIDIA, whose conference is being held at the Palms tonight at 8pm Pacific Standard Time. The event will have a live webcast so that everyone at home (myself included) can catch NVIDIA's consumer electronics announcements at the same time as the on-site press.

We haven't been briefed on the contents of the conference ahead of time, but NVIDIA's past CES press conferences have been heavily focused on consumer electronics. This means Tegra, cellular basebands, and automobile integration are all likely. CES 2011 also saw the public announcement of NVIDIA's project Denver - what's now widely assumed to be an ARMv8 based CPU for servers - so even though it's not strictly a consumer electronics item we may see an update there. Any GeForce/Quadro/Tesla news is unlikely due to the timing of CES amid NVIDIA's product cycle and the fact that NVIDIA has preferred to host their own events in the past couple of years, but we may see a recap of Kepler's first calendar year.

Press conference live webcast starts at 8pm PST

CES Gear - What's in Brian's Bag

Posted: 06 Jan 2013 05:08 PM PST

A reader queried me on Twitter about what I brought to CES this year, specifically what bag I use to cart tons of mobile devices, cameras, and a notebook around. CES 2013 is quite literally a mobile battleground, and having the right equipment for the show can make or break the experience and or my ability to cover the event. I've gone through a few iterations of what ends up being my trade show kit, and feel pretty good about what I carry around now. 

Bag: Crumpler Karachi Outpost (M)

I've gone through a few different bags, starting with just a backpack and camera bag, then the Crumpler 8 Million Dollar Home, and finally settled on the Crumpler Karachi Outpost (Medium) bag for most events. The 8 Million Dollar Home, while awesome, ended up being too big and heavy for me and oddly enough seems to have been discontinued.

I'm a firm believer that after a certain amount of weight you really need two straps to distribute weight evenly or risk causing some serious back pain and mobility problems. For me that ideal platform just ended up being their camera backpack, which holds a 15" notebook, camera, lenses, and accessories. It's a bit uncoventional in needing to be laid flat, opening from the back, and having straps that fold around and clamp in the front when not being used, but I wouldn't go back to anything else now that I've used this.

Cameras: Nikon D300S, Samsung Galaxy Camera, GoPro Hero 3 Black

Getting photos of products, slides, and people is key for events like this, and I'm a stalwart about using my DSLR instead of something smaller for low light performance, image quality and lens flexibility. I've already got a bunch of Nikon lenses and refuse to give up the full size DSLR platform at this point, though I know a number of other ATers are avid fans of some of the mirrorless systems and I probably will cave in eventually. I use a Nikon D300S at the moment for basically everything. I stuck a Crumpler Industry Disgrace camera strap on my D300S after getting a very sore neck from a few prior trade shows, back then I packed on the battery grip as well which I've left at home lately. 

For lenses I brought the Nikkor 35mm F/1.8G, which is superb for general hands on shots of devices in terrible trade show lighting (and ends up being around the field of view of a 50mm "standard" lens after the 1.5x crop on my D300S), the Nikkor 60mm F/2.8G which I use for almost all PCB shots and close up detail photos of devices, and my favorite, the venerable Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II (non-VC) which offers awesome sharpness and is unbeatable for the price. I like that one more than the newer one with VC (Tamron's branding for OIS) since it seems a bit sharper. I debated bringing the Nikkor 50mm F/1.4G and the Nikkor 18-200mm VR, the former of which I have a very love-hate relationship with.

I also bring along the Nikon SB900 since lighting is always terrible everywhere you want to take photos of demo devices. This has saved me a few times in horribly lit demo rooms, hotel rooms, show floors and so on. It's gigantic but totally worth it. 

We're reviewing the Samsung Galaxy Camera, and on my prior few trips I carried it exclusively. I'm a big fan of the Galaxy Camera even if its still image performance isn't the most stellar. I will probably use Galaxy Camera for video content since the videos it produces are great combined with internal OIS (Optical Image Stabilization). 

I bought a GoPro Hero 3 Black two weeks ago and felt like I needed to bring it to CES. Not pictured is the "Chesty" mount which straps the camera to your person. I'd like to give this a shot just to show some 1080p60 videos of the show floor while running in between meetings. The GoPro Hero 3's video quality is very impressive. 

Smartphones: iPhone 5 (AT&T), Nexus 4 (T-Mobile), HTC Droid DNA (Verizon)

My primary SIM is in my iPhone 5 for CES partly because it has an excellent onboard for seeing what's going on with crowded cellular networks at the show, and partly because my AT&T SGS3 is still hooked up to the base station emulator and acting a little weird. I forgot my second AT&T line which is currently in the HTC One X+. I also brought along the Nexus 4 since I want to see how T-Mobile fares at the show, and the HTC Droid DNA on Verizon which I'm still reviewing. This way I have a device in my pocket on all the major carriers operators save Sprint at the show. 

Connectivity: LG VL600, Samsung SCH-LC11 (Verizon LTE)

I have a datacard SIM on Verizon I use interchangeably between two LTE devices just for data. The LG VL600 is the only Verizon LTE-enabled datacard I've found that works perfectly reliably with my 2011 MacBook Pro. Oddly enough it also was the first, isn't sold anymore, and has a rather unique LG LTE baseband (L2000) with on-package transceiver in conjunction with an older Qualcomm baseband for CDMA 1x/EVDO. I just keep the LG VL600 forced into LTE-only mode and find it works great.

I brought along the SCH-LC11 just in case for hotel use. That said bringing personal hotspots along to trade shows is always a horrible idea since they're all 2.4 GHz-only, and as we all know all 2.4 GHz spectrum is completely lit up at every show (leading to demo failure and failure to be able to connect to the internet to post anything). USB modems are the way to go and hence why the VL600 never leaves my backpack. 

On that note, I regularly bring the Metageek WiSpy DBx with me to shows. I just love seeing 2.4 GHz get gobbled up instantly by everyone trying to use their MiFis and portable hotspots, and then the demos (also running on 2.4 GHz) struggling for the same reason.

Notebook: 15" 2011 MacBook Pro

I've already mentioned that for notebook I bring along my 15" 2011 MacBook Pro. I refuse to move to a MacBook Air or smaller than 15" device even for trade shows, I just need the display space. It's the 2.3 GHz Core i7 model with 16 GB of DDR3, 512 GB Vertex 4, 500 GB MomentusXT in an OptiBay (no optical drive), matte antiglare 1680x1050 display. 

The Rest: Miscellany 

Because the SD card slot on my 2011 MBP has never worked properly with most of my SD cards, I bring along a Lexar USB 3.0 SD/CF reader.

Having a power strip at all times is invaluable in airports and other crowded areas, and for that I turn to the very popular Belkin Travel Mini surge protector with USB charging. Unfortunately these USB ports don't conform to the USB BC1.x spec and instead just give 500mA, so I have an assortment of other power adapters, and the HTC Double Charge portable external battery charger. 

Sometimes you need headphones to concentrate and focus, and for that I bring along my Shure SE535s as well. 

Also not pictured is a generic USB hub I carry around, since that's the only way to get the LG VL600 and camera connected to the MacBook Pro over USB at the same time due to space constraints. In addition, an unspeakable quantity of Cliff protein bars for when there's no time to stop for food.

I think that wraps up what's in my bag, hopefully I didn't forget anything... 

LaCie 5big NAS Pro Review - Part I

Posted: 06 Jan 2013 03:00 PM PST

We have looked at LaCie's 5big offering before in late 2010. In that product, the only LaCie signature was the industrial design and choice of hardware components of the NAS. The performance figures were left to Windows Storage Server 2008 R2. The time has now come for LaCie to move forward with their own custom NAS OS based on Debian Linux for their 5-bay configuration.

The 2big NAS offering had impressed us with its performance in a 2-bay configuration for SOHO and SMB applications involving a few users. However, translating that performance to a 5-bay multi-user SMB scenario is definitely challenging. On top of that, the SMB / SOHO NAS market is quite hot, with multiple players competing in terms of features and price. How well does LaCie's 5big NAS Pro perform and what features does it have to differentiate itself? Read on to find out more about the LaCie 5big NAS Pro being launched today.

The AnandTech Podcast: Episode 13

Posted: 06 Jan 2013 04:00 AM PST

We're back! In our first podcast of 2013 we go over some of the best products of 2012 and Haswell/ValleyView launch schedules. Brian talks about Field Test being removed by mobile operators, Ubuntu for smartphones, the Galaxy Camera and the Go Pro Hero 3 Black. We also go over the recent ARM vs. x86 power articles.

The AnandTech Podcast - Episode 13
featuring Anand Shimpi, Brian Klug & Dr. Ian Cutress

RSS - mp3m4a
Direct Links - mp3m4a

Total Time: 2 hours 1 minute

Outline - hh:mm

Brian's Best of 2012 - 3
Ian's Best of 2012 - 11
Anand's Best of 2012 - 25
Haswell Launch Schedule - 35
Haswell Integrated Voltage Regulators - 37
Haswell TDPs - 41
Valley View Delayed? - 46
FieldTest Being Removed from Phones by Operators - 52
Ubuntu for Smartphones - 1:00
Galaxy Camera, Final Thoughts - 1:08
Go Pro Hero 3 Black - 1:14
The Power Articles - 1:22
Nexus 10 - 1:30
big.LITTLE/A15 Power Discussion - 1:38
Tegra 4 - 1:44
Complaining about Mac Office 2010 - 1:48
Making Out of CES Alive - 1:53

As always, comments are welcome and appreciated. 

No comments:

Post a Comment