Archive for July, 2012

Microsoft can no longer stick its head in the sand and claim ignorance to the fact that its Surface tablet could, and probably will, incite anger among its OEM partners who aren’t keen on the idea of competing with the company in the tablet space. That luxury went out the window when Microsoft filed a Form 10-K with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, admitting in black and white print what’s been obvious since the get-go.

“In addition, our Surface devices will compete with products made by our OEM partners, which may affect their commitment to our platform,” Microsoft stated as one of its Risk Factors.

The entry appears on page 14 of the greater than 100-page document and was first spotted by The New York Times Bits blog, which notes this is the first time Microsoft has fessed up to the obvious as it gets ready to bite the hands that feed it.

Regardless, Microsoft is forging ahead with its Surface strategy, and will for the first time be competing with OEMs in what could be a major market segment. On the flip side, there’s been chatter that Microsoft is employing a one-and-out strategy, whereby Surface will be the one-and-only tablet Microsoft makes.

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It seemed like a foregone conclusion that Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 660 Ti would be based on the GPU maker’s 28nm Kepler architecture, and lest there was any lingering doubt, a Swedish overclocking site got its hands on a spec sheet that seemingly confirms as much. If the information is correct, the GTX 660 Ti is essentially a GTX 670 card with a narrower memory bus (192-bit versus 256-bit).

Other specs revealed include:

  • GPU: GK104
  • CUDA Cores: 1,344
  • Base Frequency: 915MHz
  • Boost Frequency: 980MHz
  • Memory: 2GB GDDR5
  • Memory Frequency: 6,008MHz
  • TDP: 150W

Those specs are nearly identical to the GTX 670, save for the TDP, which is 20W lower on the GTX 660 Ti. Memory bandwidth is also lower as a result of the narrowed bus width, which drops from 192.2GB/s (GTX 670) to 144.19GB/s (GTX 660 Ti).

According to, the reference model doesn’t introduce any design deviations. The GTX 660 Ti is a two slot card with a pair of DVI ports, HDMI output, and a DisplayPort. It’s powered by two 6-pin PCI-E connectors.

No word yet on price, though the release date is said to be August 16, 2012.

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Even with all the talk about new directions like Trinity, Vishera and the whole heterogenous computing concept, one old standby is still holding steady at AMD: the decade-plus old Athlon brand. In recent years, Athlon processors have taken a backseat to AMD’s APUs, but they’re still chugging along, and CPU World reports that the company is brewing up a batch of three new Athlon II X4 CPUs for Socket FM2 as we speak.

The website, which is generally very reliable, only got ahold of the basic specs for the chips:

  • Athlon II X4-730 – quad-core, 2.80GHz, 4MB L2 cache, 65W TDP
  • Athlon II X4-740 – quad-core, 3.20GHz, 4MB L2 cache, 65W TDP
  • Athlon II X4-750K – unlocked quad-core, 3.40GHz, 4MB L2 cache, 100W TDP

The rest of the details are murky: CPU world doesn’t even know when the chips are slated to launch or if they’ll be OEM-only or available at retail. The website reports the trio will be based on AMD’s Piledriver architecture, but will likely have no integrated GPU functionality.

Via TechPowerUp

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Google just unveiled the pricing plans for the super-fast Google Fiber gigabit Internet service it’s rolling out in the Kansas Cities in both Missouri and Kansas, and wow, subscribers get a lot for a little. Basic fiber-based gigabit Internet only costs $70; gigabit Internet plus TV (with a full channel lineup) costs $120 per month; and there’s even an option to receive totally free Internet for at least 7 years.

Of course, that last package isn’t quite no strings attached; freeloaders are limited to 5Mbps down/1Mbps up and they’ll have to pay a $300 construction fee to have the fiber wires hooked up to their house, though they can opt to pay the fee in $25 increments over the course of a year. Google waves that fee for premium gigabit subscribers and tosses in 1TB of storage on Google Drive, to boot.

The TV offering is intriguing, too: it comes with hundreds of traditional HD channels comprised of the major stations you’re used to, on-demand movies, full YouTube and Netflix integration, and a DVR function that can save 2TB worth of TV and up record up to eight different shows simultaneously. Oh, and TV subscribers get a free Nexus 7 to act as a remote and a portable TV screen, though some stations aren’t available for streaming to the tablet.

Sign me up! Oh, wait: Google Fiber is only available in a small slice of Kansas Cities. Residents in uncovered portions of the cities can “pre-register” for a $10 fee; the neighborhoods that generate the most support by September 9th will be the next ones to receive that delicious gigabit Internet.

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They say bad things come in threes, and that was definitely true for folks who rely on the Internet for communications and cloud-based data centers today. The woes started this morning when Google Talk went down and stayed down for several hours. Then Microsoft’s Windows Azure service went belly up in Europe, followed by some users running into outage issues with Twitter.  And without Twitter, how are you going to complain about the other services being down?

It’s odd that all three toppled in succession like dominos, but fortunately, none of the disruptions were overly long. A quick glance at Digsby tells me Google Talk is back up and running, and Windows Azure’s status dashboard shows green lights and clean sailing around the globe. Twitter’s status still says that “Users may be experiencing issues accessing Twitter. Our engineers are currently working to resolve the issue.” We haven’t run into any issues Tweeting retro-tinged pics of our utilitarian meals, however.

How about you? Did the service outages knock you for a loop today?

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