$199, 4.2” computer is Intel’s first Raspberry Pi competitor

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

With the Raspberry Pi, Arduino Due, and BeagleBone, the world is full of cheap, tiny computers that can be used by creative developers in everything from robots to space flight.

One thing these platforms have in common is an ARM processor. Now they have some competition from Intel with its “MinnowBoard,” a $199 computer in the form of a 4.2″ x 4.2″ board with an Intel Atom processor.

The first 500 MinnowBoards rolled off the production line a few months ago and sold out within a week, Senior Embedded Systems Engineer David Anders of CircuitCo told Ars at the LinuxCon conference on Tuesday. CircuitCo, also the maker of the BeagleBoard and BeagleBone computers, made the MinnowBoard after being approached by Intel, which wanted to build an x86-based open hardware platform. A new MinnowBoard production run of 5,000 boards began this week.

Those numbers won’t threaten the Raspberry Pi’s million-plus-selling business, and the MinnowBoard at its initial price is likely to attract a different customer base. But Anders believes x86 boards will reduce in size and price to the point where they will become more suitable for hobbyists.


Sony unveils TVs with Google’s Web-surfing system

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Sony’s lineup of sleek televisions boasting Google’s Web-surfing system will go on sale Saturday, testing how much consumers are willing to pay to combine access to the entire Internet with their regular TV programming.

The high-definition sets unveiled Tuesday evening in New York will have LCD screens ranging from 24 inches to 46 inches, with recommended retail prices from $600 to $1,400. Sony will begin selling the new sets in its online store Saturday, and they should be available in Best Buy Co.’s U.S. stores by early next week. Pre-orders are currently being taken at both Sony’s and Best Buy’s websites.

Sony’s price for its Google TV sets is $200 to $400 higher than comparable TVs without the highly touted software, a differential that threatens to dampen sales at a time the still-shaky economy is causing more households to pinch their pennies.


Dell is working on a 7-inch tablet that runs Android

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Dell is working on a 7-inch tablet that runs Google’s Inc.’s Android operating software.

Not much else is publicly known about the computer. Dell Inc. CEO Michael Dell flashed it briefly Wednesday at Oracle’s annual conference in San Francisco, but offered no hard details. Dell Inc. spokesman Matthew Parretta declined to say when the prototype would go on sale.


AMD Dropping the ATI Brand Name

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

AMD is phasing out the ATI brand for its graphics products—including Radeon and FirePro—and instead will place them under the AMD brand.

Advanced Micro Devices, four years after buying graphics chips maker ATI, reportedly is now ready to let go of the brand.

AMD will take the ATI name off of its products by the end of the year, according to news reports. Instead, the company will put the AMD name on such graphics products as FirePro, Radeon and Eyefinity.

The move comes as AMD is preparing to release the first of its Fusion APUs (accelerated processing units), which put computing and graphics units on the same die.

The first of these APUs, called “Llano” and “Ontario,” are due for release in the first half of 2011, according to AMD officials.


Google Chrome tablet computer ‘on sale in November’

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Google and HTC are working together on a tablet-style computer to compete with Apple’s iPad, according to reports.

The tablet computer will run Google’s Chrome operating system, and will hit shops in November, possibly in time for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States when electrical goods are traditionally heavily discounted.

According to technology blog Downloadsquad, the tablet will be available on the Verizon mobile network in the United States.

The blog, which cites an anonymous source, says that the Google tablet is likely to be subsidised by Verizon, and therefore will be cheaper than Apple’s iPad. Although the source did not provide the blog with any information about the specifics of the rumoured tablet, Downloadsquad expects the device to be based on NVidia’s Tegra 2 platform, boast a 32GB solid-state drive and a built-in webcam.


India unveils prototype of $35 computer

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

It looks like an iPad, only it’s 1/14th the cost: India has unveiled the prototype of a $35 basic touchscreen tablet aimed at students, which it hopes to bring into production by 2011.

The tablet can be used for functions like word processing, web browsing and video-conferencing. It has a solar power option too - important for India’s energy-starved hinterlands - though that add-on costs extra.


HP To Spam Your Printer

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Hewlett-Packard plans to use Yahoo’s advertising network in a pilot program that will deliver targeted advertisements for content printed with its latest line of Web-connected printers.

HP launched a line of Web-connected printers last week that allow users to print content directly from the Web or send content from their mobile phone to a remote printer using an e-mail address specific to that printer.

HP also launched a program called “scheduled delivery,” where a user can regularly schedule printing, for example, portions of a daily newspaper every day at 7 a.m.


HP gives printers email addresses

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

HP is set to unveil a line of printers with their own email addresses, allow people to print from devices such as smartphones and the iPad.

The company last year released a web-connected, touchscreen printer - the Photosmart Premium Touchsmart Web - but the new line-up will be the first to feature their own dedicated email addresses.

That will allow users to email their documents or photos directly to their own - or someone else’s - printer. It will also let people more easily share physical documents, as rather than merely emailing links around, users can email a photo to a friend’s printer.

The email address could overcome the need for specific printer drivers on devices such as smartphones, Apple’s iPad (which doesn’t currently offer printing facilities) and Google’s forthcoming Chrome OS devices.


AMD’s Fusion family of APUs

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

At Computex 2010 AMD gave the first public demonstration of its Fusion processor that combines the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) on a single chip. The AMD Fusion family of Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) not only adds another acronym to the computer lexicon, but ushers is what AMD says is a significant shift in processor architecture and capabilities.

AMD says combining the CPU, GPU, video processing and other accelerator capabilities in a single-die design provides more power-efficient processors that are better able to handle demanding operations such as HD video, media-rich Internet content and DirectX 11 games – AMD hasn’t revealed the technical specs of the GPUs it will embed in its APUs, but has disclosed they will be DirectX 11 compliant.

Many of the improvements stem from eliminating the chip-to-chip linkage that adds latency to memory operations and consumes power - moving electrons across a chip takes less energy than moving these same electrons between two chips. The co-location of all key elements on one chip also allows a holistic approach to power management of the APU. Various parts of the chip can be powered up or down depending on workloads.


Hewlett-Packard recalling 54K laptop batteries

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Hewlett-Packard Co. is recalling 54,000 lithium-ion batteries used in HP and Compaq computers after receiving reports of injuries from the batteries overheating and rupturing.

The recall was announced Friday by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and expands an earlier recall of 70,000 of the same type of batteries.


Intel shows off first Light Peak laptop

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Intel has provided the first hands-on demonstration of a laptop running its Light Peak technology, at the company’s inaugural European research showcase here in Brussels.

Light Peak is an optical interconnect that can transfer data at 10Gbits/sec in both directions. Intel hopes Light Peak will one day replace the host of other PC interconnects, including USB, DisplayPort and HDMI.

Intel has fitted Light Peak into a regular USB cable, with optical fibres running alongside the electrical cabling. Intel provided a visual demonstration of how data is passed through the cable, by shining a torch into one end of the cable, with two little dots of light visible to the naked eye at the other end.

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.


Cisco leapfrogs rivals with faster router

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Cisco Systems Inc introduced its first major new routers in six years and said they can be configured to handle Internet traffic up to 12 times faster than rival products.

Cisco, the world’s largest network equipment maker, said up to 72 of the new CRS-3 routers can be connected for capacity of 322 terabits per second (tbs). The new routers hit the market in the third quarter of this year.

At that maximum configuration, Cisco boasted the routers could in theory deliver every movie ever made in four minutes over the Internet, or connect China’s entire population of 1.3 billion people by video conference at the same time.

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