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YoYoTech Easter 2014 discounts available now

YoYoTech Easter 2014 discounts available now

YoYoTech’s discounts are available from now until April 25th


Starting today, our friends at YoYoTech are hosting some week-long Easter Specials, with discounts quietly being made available on a select range of Asus motherboards, graphics cards and accessories.

As bit-tech readers, you’re the first and only ones to know about it, and we’ve asked YoYoTech to provide links to the discounted products, which you’ll find below.

If any of them take your fancy, we recommend getting in there quick as stocks are limited and the deals won’t be returning once they’re exhausted.

First up we have two Asus ROG-branded Intel Z87 motherboards, the Maximus VI Hero and the mini-ITX Maximus VI Impact, both of which did enough to earn themselves awards in our reviews (here and here). You’ll find them both discounted by £20 at £128.99 and £151.99 respectively.

For AMD fans, YoYoTech is offering the Asus Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 for £109.59 again at a £20 discount. We’ve not reviewed this new revision, but the original board was also award-winning.

Continuing the theme of £20 discounts on Asus products, YoYoTech will have the Asus GTX 760 DirectCU II OC card going for £169.99.

Finally, the Asus NFC Express will be offered at £15.99, a £7 discount. Using near field communication technology, this accessory works with specific Asus motherboards to provide instant pairing with NFC-enabled phones and tablets, which can then be used to control various functions of your desktop PC.

These deals will be ending on April 25th – will you be taking the plunge on any?

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Intel Q1 financials show data centre growth

Intel Q1 financials show data centre growth

Intel’s Q1 2014 results slightly exceeded analysts’ expectations, but the company’s mobile arm is suffering a significant drop in revenue.


Intel has released its financials for the first quarter of 2014, and things are looking good with better-than-expected results despite its continued struggles to break into the mobile arena and a still-shrinking desktop market.

The company’s official figures for the quarter show $12.8 billion in revenue, exactly matching analysts’ expectations, with a gross profit margin of 59.7 per cent for a total earnings per share of $0.38 – above the $0.37 average expected by analysts. $3.1 billion of this came from the Data Centre Group, responsible for server and high-performance computing (HPC) products, which enjoyed a bumper 11 per cent boost in revenue over the same period last year; the PC Client Group, which targets the still-shrinking PC market, brought in the lion’s share at $7.9 billion, a one per cent drop compared to Q1 2013.

In the first quarter we saw solid growth in the data centre, signs of improvement in the PC business, and we shipped five million tablet processors, making strong progress on our goal of 40 million tablets for 2014,‘ claimed Intel’s chief executive Brian Krzanich during the company’s earnings call. ‘Additionally, we demonstrated our further commitment to grow in the enterprise with a strategic technology and business collaborationwith Cloudera, we introduced our second-generation LTE platform with CAT6 and other advanced features, and we shipped our first Quark products for the Internet of Things.

Other highlights include a 10 per cent quarter-on-quarter drop in revenue for the Internet of Things Group which ended the quarter with $482 million in revenue, still an 11 per cent improvement over the same period last year thanks largely to new low-power Atom and Quark processor products. The company’s Mobile and Communications Group, responsible for smartphone and tablet oriented chips, was by far the biggest loser: with just $156 million in revenue, its income was down 52 per cent quarter-on-quarter and a massive 61 per cent compared to Q1 2013.

Investors seem pleased with Intel’s performance in the quarter, with the company’s share price rising 1.08 per cent in pre-market trading to $27.06, still short of its recent April 2012 high of $28.38.

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Google pledges January launch for Project Ara

Google pledges January launch for Project Ara

Google’s Project Ara, created by one-time subsidiary Motorola and based on Dave Hakkens’ Phonebloks concept, is scheduled to hit the market in January 2015.


Advertising giant Google has confirmed that it is forging ahead with the Project Ara modular smartphone concept, and plans to release the first commercially available parts in January 2015.

Originally developed by Motorola Mobility based on concept work carried out by Dave Hakkens under the name Phonebloks, Project Ara was acquired by Google when it picked up the Mobility division from Motorola. Although the company would go on to sell the bulk of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo it kept hold of Project Ara, announcing in February this year commercialisation plans for the technology.

Project Ara aims to offer the same level of customisation available in the PC world to the smartphone – and, eventually, tablet, markets. The Ara platform uses a central chassis dubbed an Endo, to which component modules are connected via magnets. These modules contain everything from the display to the processor, storage, camera and battery, and can be assembled in almost any combination or pattern. As well as ending the annual phone upgrade cycle – the Endo itself, Google claims, would be good for five to six years – by offering the chance of incremental upgrades, the system would also allow for complete customisation: one Endo may have a high-end processor and high-spec camera, while another opts for a slower processor, no camera and a bigger battery for longer runtime.

Google held its first Project Ara developers’ conference this week, and CNET reports that it offered a timeline to commercialisation: the first Project Ara Endo will be on sale, barring any major setbacks along the way, in January next year for just $50. It will be joined by a range of component modules, although the specification and pricing for these has not yet been confirmed.

Google also outlined fabrication hardware for the modules themselves, developed in conjunction with academic and business partners and taking the form of large-scale 3D printers capable of working with conductive materials. More details on these will be provided at the next conference in July.

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Microsoft details space-saving WIMBoot for Windows 8.1

Microsoft details space-saving WIMBoot for Windows 8.1

Microsoft’s WIMBoot functionality, added in Windows 8.1 Update 1, can dramatically cut down the storage space required of a Windows installation by using a compressed image file.


Microsoft has announced a previously hidden feature of the recently-released Windows 8.1 Update 1, which promises to boost available storage on lower-end tablet and hybrid devices: Windows Image Boot (WIMBoot).

Introduced into the Windows platform for the first time with Windows 8.1 Update 1, WIMBoot offers a secondary method of installing Windows on a storage device: instead of the traditional method of extracting the contents of the installation media into directories on the storage drive, WIMBoot sees an image being copied into a dedicated partition with symbolic links being created to offer the illusion that the files are in the expected folders within the main system partition.

The advantage of this method, Microsoft explains, is that the WIMBoot image can remain lightly compressed – not enough to harm overall performance, but enough to mean that the user is given a little more storage space with which to play. ‘Let’s assume the WIM file (INSTALL.WIM) is around 3GB and you are using a 16GB SSD,‘ explains Microsoft’s Ben Hunter of the feature. ‘In that configuration, you’ll still be left with over 12GB of free disk space (after subtracting out the size of the WIM and a little bit of additional “overhead”). And the same WIM file (which is read-only, never being changed in this process) can also be used as a recovery image, in case you want to reset the computer back to its original state.

‘How does that compare to a non-WIMBoot configuration? Well, on that same 16GB system there might be only 7GB free after installing Windows – and then only if you don’t set up a separate recovery image.’

Available storage capacity on Microsoft’s Windows-based Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets has long been a concern, despite the presence of an SD card slot for expansion. The discovery that the 32GB model of Surface RT offers only 16GB of usable space led to numerous complaints; WIMBoot offers the potential to dramatically reduce the ‘wasted’ space, while also offering Microsoft and its customers the option to build cheaper 16GB models – something the hefty storage demand of Windows 8 and Windows RT had previously precluded.

Instructions for performing a WIMBoot install yourself are available on the company’s Technet knowledgebase.

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Warhammer 40K themed mobile RPG in the works

Warhammer 40K themed mobile RPG in the works

Warhammer 40,000 has featured in turn-based and real-time strategy series and also third and first person shooters, but never a 2D side-scroller before.


Games Workshop’s grim science fiction miniatures property Warhammer 40,000 is heading to iOS in the form of a side-scrolling action RPG.

Warhammer 40,000 Carnage will pit players in the role of a space marine churning through a horde of green-skinned orks, giving them the option to unlock further equipment that will be familiar to fans of the series, including chainswords, bolt guns and thunder hammers.

’We’ve taken the best of the Warhammer 40,000 universe and built a game that will appeal to seasoned 40k fans and more casual gamers alike,’ said developer Roadhouse Interactive president Tarrnie Williams. ’The game is full of explosive, adrenaline-fueled action, in stunning environments that will be familiar to many.’

The plot revolves around investigating a planet which has been consumed by collective insanity and violence, a plot device that will also be ‘familiar to many’ who have encountered the Warhammer 40,000 series before.

Best known as a tabletop wargaming franchise, Warhammer 40,000 has found its way into several video games over recent years, including 2011′s Space Marine, developed by Relic Entertainment, which also featured space marines cutting their way through hordes of orks.

Relic Entertainment, under the guidance of publisher THQ, also had a long stewardship over the Warhammer 40,000 intellectual property through its Dawn of War real time strategy series, but following the dissolution of THQ the license was reported to have ended up at Slitherine, a smaller developer and publisher specialising in historical strategy games.

Another smaller studio, Zattikka, was also granted a Warhammer 40,000 license and planned to develop a 3D isometric free-to-play game using the setting, but the company went into administration in August last year before it could release anything.

Will you be checking out Warhammer 40,000 Carnage? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

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Microsoft and Intel team up for Sharks Cove SBC

Microsoft and Intel team up for Sharks Cove SBC

Intel’s Sharks Cove board, teased in this low-resolution preview, has been developed to Microsoft’s exacting specifications, allowing developers a standardised platform for writing Windows drivers for SoC hardware.


Microsoft has pledged to help support Windows developers with an officially-certified line of development boards, starting later this year with Intel’s Sharks Cove platform.

Not to be confused with Intel’s open hardware projects Galileo and MinnowBoard, the latter in cooperation with BeagleBoard and BeagleBone creator CircuitCo, the new development boards are built to Microsoft’s specifications to create an off-the-shelf development environment for creating Windows software optimised for system-on-chip (SoC) platforms.

Hardware engineers have traditionally faced challenges in creating Windows drivers for SoC platforms,‘ admitted Microsoft in a statement regarding the upcoming programme. ‘Unlike PCs, which have PCI slots and USB ports, SoC systems like tablets and clamshells use low-power internal buses that lack standard connectors, Plug and Play support, and discovery mechanisms. Often these devices are protected by secure boot and cannot be used to develop or test third-party drivers. That will soon change. Hardware engineers will be able to buy off-the-shelf boards that are designed to work with specific SoC environments.

Intel’s Sharks Cove will be one of the first, the company confirmed. A single-board computer (SoC) design, the Sharks Cove board breaks out all the functionality of Intel’s Atom system-on-chip (SoC) platform; even portions which are rarely used, such as general-purpose input-output (GPIO) connectivity, will be readily accessible using expansion connectors. The aim, Microsoft claimed, is to make the development of Windows drivers for SoCs as easy as possible.

Sharks Cove won’t be the last board, either: Microsoft has promised that several boards will be available later this year, with a number of ARM-based boards – for Windows RT development – likely to launch alongside Intel’s offering. Pricing has not been confirmed, but these are not Raspberry Pi competitors; with a professional feature set and formal Microsoft certification, these engineering boards will be priced for corporate purchases only.

Intel has not yet confirmed the specifications of Sharks Cove, with more information expected later this year ahead of a planned 2H 2014 launch.

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Intel announces Braswell, Cherry Trail

Intel announces Braswell, Cherry Trail

Intel’s Bay Trail architecture is to be succeeded by a low-cost system-on-chip design dubbed Braswell and a higher-priced family known as Cherry Trail.


Intel has announced its planned successors for the Bay Trail architecture, 14nm designs dubbed Braswell and Cherry Trail and aimed at low-cost portables.

Unveiled at the company’s Intel Developer Forum China last night, little is known about the new designs beyond their overall aims and the company’s use of a 14nm process node – and, Kirk Skaugen told attendees, Intel’s hopes to use the chips to help Google grow its Chromebook and Chromebox businesses.

Braswell will focus on ultra-low cost devices, Intel claimed, and use a system-on-chip (SoC) design to reduce the size of the final product as well as the number of supporting chips required. The result, it is claimed, will be entry-level smartphones and tablets boasting a full 64-bit x86 implementation and with excellent power draw.

Braswell is to be joined by Cherry Trail, a more powerful design still based on a 14nm process. Unlike the smartphone-oriented Braswell, Cherry Trail will be aimed at tablets and will offer higher performance at the cost of size and power draw. No performance figures were provided for either design, however.

Intel also told attendees of changes it plans to make to its Bay Trail design, promising new models which will reduce the cost of the processors and their supporting components still further. The aim, it is claimed, is for the company’s customers to be able to launch tablets based on Bay Trail designs for under $100 (around £60 excluding taxes) – a price point currently the exclusive preserve of ARM-based systems from semiconductor companies like AllWinner.

The announcement of the new designs comes as Intel looks to partner with software companies to develop packages exclusive to Intel’s own chips, something its rival AMD has previously investigated with projects like the AMD AppZone.

Release dates and pricing for Braswell and Cherry Trail parts were, naturally, not part of Intel’s presentation.

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Microsoft Build 2014 keynote: the highlights

Microsoft Build 2014 keynote: the highlights

Microsoft’s Build keynote this year included plenty of surprises, from universal apps that can run on Windows devices as well as the Xbox One to the impending return of the Start Menu.


Attendees at Microsoft’s annual Build summit last night were treated to a three-hour keynote speech in which the company announced some dramatic diversions from the norm – including free copies of Windows for phones and tablets, the return of the Start Menu, and Windows apps on the Xbox One.

It’s usual for Microsoft to queue up announcements for the Build event, which is the biggest in its calendar; it’s not usual, however, for it to have quite so many announcements to make as during its keynote session at last night’s opening. Some of the changes, in particular the release of free copies of Windows for mobile devices, will likely have a heavy impact on the future of the company – and it’s not hard to see new chief executive Satya Nadella, a man who has already bemoaned the company’s delayed entry into the mobile market, as the driving force behind much of what occurred last night.

Windows 8.1 Update 1
Microsoft announced the impending launch of Windows 8.1 Update 1, the first major overhaul for what was previously known as Windows Blue. Much of the changes are user experience oriented, rather than under-the-hood overhauls, and many will be welcomed by users: the Desktop and Modern UIs are to be more closely linked, with Modern UI apps being accessible in windowed form from the Desktop interface – allowing a mixing of old and new which was previously verboten.

The new update will also include faster access to the Windows Store – more on which later – by pre-pinning it to the taskbar, and the ability to power off or restart your PC, perform searches and access settings are now available on the main Start Screen instead of hidden off to the side. The update, Microsoft has confirmed, will launch on the 8th of April – the same date, coincidentally, that Windows XP enters official end of life (EOL) status.

The biggest change, however, will have to wait for a future update: the reintroduction of the Start Menu, the absence of which is many users’ biggest bugbear surrounding Windows 8 and newer. Based heavily on the Windows 7 Start Menu, the new version will integrated selected functionality – like Live Tiles – from the Start Screen in an attempt to create a hybrid that will appeal to all. No formal date has been offered for its availability, however.

Mobile Push
A large portion of the keynote was dedicated to Microsoft’s increasingly heavy push to mobile users, where is software is in a distinct minority. As well as new Windows Phone 8.1 devices from Nokia and Samsung, the company confirmed that the new release – a free upgrade to all Nokia Windows Phone 8 handsets – will include an Action Centre which appears to riff on the similar functionality available in Google’s rival Android platform.

The company also announced Cortana, its answer to the popularity of voice-activated assistants Google Now and Siri. Based on the artificial intelligence from the Halo series – which, as a major plot point, went crazy, so that’s an interesting marketing angle to take – Cortana will be a standard feature of Windows Phone 8.1.

Finally, Microsoft made what could possibly be the only announcement that could give it real impetus in the fight against Google: Windows will now be licensable at zero cost on all smartphones and tablet devices with a screen size of less than nine inches. Although Google’s basic Android OS is also free – and, in fact, largely open-source – the company has charged for access to the Google Play app store and other Google-specific functionality, while Microsoft’s impressive portfolio of patents has been used to ‘encourage’ Android licensees – including big names like Samsung – to pay Microsoft a fee for every handset shipped.

To put it bluntly: Microsoft’s free Windows for mobiles is cheaper than Google’s free Android – no mean feat.

Universal Apps
The final surprise of the event was confirmation of a long-held rumour that Microsoft’s Xbox One console will be able to run Windows applications. Using a new cross-platform runtime environment, Microsoft explained, developers will be able to build apps that can run on Windows, Windows RT, Windows Phone and Xbox One – and buyers can pay once to run the app on any of the aforementioned devices.

The move doesn’t exactly open up the Xbox ecosystem – apps available on the Xbox One will be even more heavily curated than those available on Windows Phone, with developers needing to seek Microsoft’s approval – but with promises that DirectX 12 will lead to similar cross-platform functionality for games, it’s hard to see it as bad news.

If the above summary isn’t enough for your appetite, the full keynote session featuring speakers David Treadwell, Joe Belfiore, Stephen Elop, Terry Myerson and new leader Satya Nadella is available for your three-hour viewing pleasure.

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Intel invests in China with Smart Devices venture

Intel invests in China with Smart Devices venture

Intel has announced the formation of a Smart Device Innovation Centre in Shenzen, back by a $100 million Intel Capital fund, alongside the release of an IoT gateway product line.


Intel is continuing its push into the it’ll-take-off-any-day-now-honest wearable computing market with a major investment in China, founding a Smart Device Innovation Centre backed by a $100 million fund from Intel Capital.

That Intel is focusing heavily on low-power embedded systems for wearable computing is no secret. Having been caught on the hop with the mobile computing boom, allowing Cambridge-based rival ARM to gain an overwhelming majority market share, the company is adamant it won’t make the same msitake twice. In September last year, Intel Capital invested in Recon Instruments, Intel proper recently picked up Basis Science, and the Quark processor and Edison computer-on-module are clearly designed for low-power ultra-compact computing.

Now, chief executive Brian Krzanich has announced a new plan to push its low-power and wearable computing efforts still further with a little help from Shenzen. Announced at the company’s Chinese Developer Forum today, a new deal will see the company establish the Intel Smart Device Centre in Shenzen and introduce a $100 million Intel Capital China Smart Device Innovation Fund to encourage the use of Intel products in future low-power devices.

The China technology ecosystem will be instrumental in the transformation of computing, claimed Krzanich in his speech. ‘To help drive global innovation, Intel will stay focused on delivering leadership products and technologies that not only allow our partners to rapidly innovate, but also deliver on the promise that “if it computes, it does it best with Intel” – from the edge device to the cloud, and everything in between.

Krzanich also announced the launch of the awkwardly-named Intel Gateway Solutions for the Internet of Things, a router based on Intel’s Quark and Atom chips for connecting low-power wearable and embedded sensors to a network, and demonstrated for the first time his company’s SoFIA integrated mobile system-on-chip design, an all-in-one chip for smartphones and tablets with which Intel hopes to challenge ARM’s dominance.

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Games Workshop’s Mordheim getting the digital treatment

Games Workshop’s Mordheim getting the digital treatment

Playable races include all of the basic races featured in the original Mordheim.


Games Workshop’s cult classic specialist game Mordheim is getting its own digital version with Mordheim: City of the Damned.

The game will be a turn-based strategy game where players lead small bands of warriors into skirmishes in a blend of RPG and tactical combat gameplay.

The miniatures-based war game Mordheim is based on Games Workshop’s highly successful Warhammer franchise. Instead of fielding large armies, players would build small gangs that would then level up and grow depending on their performance in battle.

Mordheim: City of the Damned sounds to be faithful to the game’s setting with warbands squabbling over Wyrdstone fragments in the ruins of the ruined city in the same way as the tabletop game.

The digital version will include playable gangs from the Skaven, the Empire, the Possessed and the Sisters of Sigmar with more factions to follow.

The game is being published by Focus Home Interactive, the independent French studio that was also behind the digital rendition of Games Workshop’s fantasy football game Blood Bowl. The company also has Cities XL, TrackMania and Farming Simulator in its portfolio.

Mordheim: City of the Damned is scheduled for a late 2014 release.

Several games in Games Workshop’s back-catalogue have made the transition to video games in recent years. Space Hulk, Warhammer Quest, Talisman and the aforementioned Blood Bowl have all seen a digital release on various platforms.

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