|Lenovo, Intel, OCZ, Storage Visions and More|
|As is always the case, CES 2012 was a complete blur of big product announcements, bleeding-edge technology and a mass of humanity clamoring to see it all. Our coverage of the event and the various product announcements came so fast and furious that, unless you were checking the page every few minutes (not a bad idea actually), you probably missed at least a few highlights. Fear not, as we're going to aggregate all of the major product announcements to hit our news channel, here in one big roll-up on the following pages.
In addition, some of what we considered to be the "Best of CES" type products were featured in our full detailed coverage atop the home page, but we'll run down those stand-outs for you quickly as well. These larger headliners were:
However, there was a bucket load more to see at CES 2012 out in sunny Las Vegas, where the air was dry but our cup of technology and geek goodness runneth over last week. Stay with us on the pages ahead to re-visit all the best stuff we saw. There are easy to navigate menus at the top and bottom of each page of course, as always, if you're the type that likes to jump around a bit. That said, on with all the demos, sights and sounds of CES 2012!
Storage Vision 2012 Report: Micron/Crucial, Intel and Toshiba
Prior to the start of the CES 2012 show in Las Vegas this week, major players in the storage industry kicked off their mini conference, in an effort to get the buzz going early in consumer and enterprise storage. Of course Micron and Crucial were there in force to show us their latest SSD technologies, starting with their big, bad P320h PCI Express SSD.
Micron P320h PCI Express SSD
If you recall, the product is a co-development effort between Micron and IDT that sports a new Flash memory controller ASIC for direct-attached SSD storage over a X8 PCI Express Gen 2 link. Micron didn't have the drive up and running, though it was on display. Supposedly Micron is sampling customers right now and they hope to move to production sometime within the first half of this year.
Micron C400 Self-Encrypted SSD
Micron gave us a quick nickle booth tour as well, covering their Self-Encrypted C400SSD, new mSATA products and, of course, their 6Gbps SATA M4 drive.
Finally, a big focus for Crucial is their new Adrenaline SSD cache solution. This technology will employ an easy setup in software for any new or legacy chipset/motherboard platform (Windows 7 only currently) and offer a significant performance boost for any standard hard drive of any capacity. The Adrenaline drive is set at 50GB capacity for caching and will come out soon in Q1. We're hoping to put it to the test versus Intel's SRT caching technology on their Z68 and 7 series chipset solutions.
Interestingly enough, Toshiba also decided to roll out their own brand of consumer storage products to complement the OEM offering that they've had on the market for some time now. In addition to their bare drives ranging up to 3TB, they were also showing some rather interesting external drive products.
Three terabytes over a USB 3.0 connection definitely sounds tasty and it's good to see more USB 3.0 products coming to market to help make use of these new ports coming to laptops and desktops lately.
Finally, Intel was demoing their upcoming Cherryville Intel 520 Series SSD showing the performance of the product versus a standard hard drive.
Of course it was fast. Reportedly the product is driven by a SandForce SF-2200 series SSD controller, so in excess of 500MB/s for read/write throughput is to be expected.
That's about it for our Storage Vision 2012 coverage. Stay tuned for more this week at CES 2012, almost live, (half dead?) from sunny Las Vegas.
OCZ Technology Group, a leading provider of high-performance solid-state drives (SSDs) for computing devices and systems.
|Zotac: Motherboards and ZBOXes|
Our coverage of the latest technology on display as CES continues today, with some goodies from Zotac. In addition to offering some hot graphics cars, Zotac has also been innovating in the small form factor and mini-ITX motherboard markets, especially over the last couple of years. As such, it should come as no surprise that Zotac had a number of their diminutive ZBOX systems on display, along with a handful of new / upcoming mini-ITX motherboards.
Two new ZBOXes were on display in Zotac’s suite, more specifically, the ZBOX Nano ID82 Plus and the ZBOX ID61 Plus, both of which are based on Intel platforms.
The ZBOX ID82 is similar in appearance to other "non-Nano" ZBOXes, but is built around a more powerful Intel Core i3-2330M (also with Intel HD Graphics) and features dual SO-DIMM slots. The faster CPU and dual-channel memory configuration will result in increased performance. Zotac expects the ID82 to arrive sometime in the February / March timeframe as well.
As was the case with other motherboard makers, it wasn’t too hard to spot some Intel Z77 / H77-based motherboards from Zotac at CES. Details are scarce at this point, but the three motherboards you see here all feature LGA1155 sockets and next-gen Intel chipsets for upcoming Ivy Bridge processors (although, they’ll be Sandy Bridge compatible as well). The board with the POST code LED error reporter is based on the upcoming Z77 chipset, while the other two both sport the H77. No word yet on pricing or availability of these boards, but sometime in late Q1 or Q2 would be a good bet, and the layouts and I/O configurations may change as well.
|Gigabyte: Mobos, Graphics, and Mobile|
|We already told you about some of Gigabyte’s next-gen motherboard technology, but as expected, the company has lots more in the offing, including a bevy of mobile gear and new 28nm Radeon HD 7970 graphics cards. And of course, we have loads of pictures for you.
Starting with the upcoming Z77 motherboards, we’ve already seen images of the GA-Z77X-UD3H, G1.Sniper 3 and G1.Sniper M3, and the small business-oriented B75M-D3H. Now, we have photos of a few more Z77 boards, as well. Bear in mind that these are mostly engineering--note the lack of the G1 series' trademark green-and-black color scheme, for example--so things will likely change somewhat, but it's still a great look at what we can expect to see when these boards start shipping.
L to R: GA-Z77X-UD5H and GA-Z77X-UD3H side by side; a closer look at the UD5H; GA-Z77A-UD3H's and GA-Z77X-UD5H's back I/O
L to R: G1.Sniper 3; G1.Sniper M3; mSATA; G1.Assasin 2
The details of the AMD Radeon HD 7970 are already well-documented, but Gigabyte added some of its own features, as well. The Gigabyte cards are equipped with WINDFORCE 3X Cooling Technology, which consists of three fans, anti-turbulence inclined fans, and copper heat pipes. WINDFORCE 3X works with Gigabyte’s Triangle Cool technology, which “combines fin with clip module in a special triangle shape” to more efficiently get rid of heat by reducing fan turbulence.
On the mobile side, Gigabyte had lots to share, including a tablet, two convertible tablet notebooks, and a pair of high-performing notebooks.
The S1080 and S1081 are 10.1-inch “productivity slates” that run Windows 7 and are powered by a 1.66GHz Intel Atom dual-core N570 (S1080) and 1.86GHz Atom dual-core N2800 (S1081) and features the Intel NM10 chipset, 2GB of DDR-2 memory (1 slot), and Intel GMA 3150 (S1080) and 3650 (S1081) graphics. Storage options include a 320GB or 500GB 2.5-inch SATA drive or a 64/128/256GB SSD. Ports include USB 3.0 and 2.0, D-sub, RJ45, mic and headphone jacks, an SD card reader, and HDMI (on the S1081 only). For connectivity, they sport Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 3.0 and 4.0, and 3.5G.
S1081, in-hand and docked
The S1081 also has a docking station with a Super-Multi DVD drive, another trio of USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, speakers (with a pair of 3-inch woofers), and more.
Sort of in the same vein is the T1006M, a 10.1-inch convertible tablet notebook with a 1366x768 screen and an Intel Atom (Cedar Trail) chip inside. It also has USB 3.0, a 6-cell battery, and it’s 3.5G-ready.
Not content to produce just two varying option for powerful mobile computing, Gigabyte also had the Booktop T1132N on display. The T1132N is billed as a 3-in-1 notebook, tablet, and desktop, which simply means that it’s a convertible tablet notebook that can also dock, allowing the use of a separate keyboard. Inside, it runs an Intel Core i5 CPU and NVIDIA GeForce GT520M and features an 11.6-inch screen, THX TruStudio Pro sound (pumped through stereo speakers), a 3.5G antenna, and USB 3.0 and HDMI ports. The docking station has a Super-Multi DVD drive and more USB 3.0 and HDMI ports.
The M2432 is another Booktop, although it can be used as merely a notebook or a “desktop” (again, with a docking station and separate keyboard). It also has a second-gen Intel Core i5 CPU and THX TruStudio Pro audio, and it also features integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics and a 14-inch display. The dock is where some of the multimedia magic lies, as it boasts an NVIDIA GT 440 GPU that supports two additional displays, and slew of ports including USB (6), HDMI, D-sub, and DVI.
Finally, there’s the P2532F, a gaming and multimedia notebook with a 15.6-inch screen (1920x1080 full HD), a second-gen Intel Core i7-2670QM CPU, an NVIDIA GeForce GT555M GPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 750GB hard drive. Other features include a Blu-ray drive, (surprise!) THX TruStudio Pro audio, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, and an HDMI port.
Gigabyte didn’t ignore cooling on the P2532F, as it built in a dual heat sink- and air vent design with one each for the the CPU and GPU.
That about wraps it up for Gigabyte at this year’s CES. We’ll be looking forward to getting our mitts on some of this gear and putting it through the paces.
|Seagate: Storage Technology|
|Just about every company represented at CES has a theme or two it’s focusing on at the show, and for Seagate, this year the spotlight is on mobile storage technologies, hybrid storage, and of course, speed.
Seagate is showing off its update to the GoFlex Satellite drive, a battery-powered, mobile storage solution that streams media to a tablet, and it’s also showcasing a 4G LTE mobile wireless storage product. The result of a partnership with Verizon, the Seagate 4G LTE Mobile Wireless Storage (we assume the name is temporary) is designed to effectively boost the storage capacity of your wireless device by making your stored media available for streaming via Verizon’s LTE network. Specifically, according to Seagate, it can:
-Expand the storage capacity of your mobile device with enough space to enjoy over 300 HD movies on an iPad or Android tablet.The product is designed to be portable, with a rechargeable 5-hour battery, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, and compatibility with iOS and Android. It will reportedly cost $199.
Seagate 4G LTE Mobile Wireless Storage at work
Seagate is also proud to tout its Thunderbolt-enabled line of products. The company has a pair of such devices, the GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter and the GoFlex Desk Thunderbolt Adapter. Expected to ship in this quarter, the standard version ($99) supports 2.5-inch GoFlex drives, while the Desk edition will run somewhere just under $200 and support 3.5-inch GoFlex drives.
GoFlex Thunderbolt Adapter
The fruit of a partnership with Monster Digital is an upgrade kit designed to make it easier for consumers to upgrade their notebook and desktop drives to one of Seagate’s Momentus XT solid state hybrid drives (SSHDs). The Monster Digital kits will ship with 500GB ($269.99) and 750GB ($289.99) Seagate Momentus XT drives and include the requisite software, cables, and instructions (via video). They even come with the needed screwdriver.
The drive themselves feature 7200RPM speed, SATA 6Gbps, and 8GB of single-level cell NAND flash. Both the drives and the Monster Digital upgrade kits sport Seagate Adaptive Memory and FAST Factor technologies, which together dynamically identify and move the most frequently-used data to faster memory and produce faster access and boot times.
|Intel Announces Medfield Phones|
|After years of work and a few false starts, Intel is finally ready to take the plunge into the smartphone market. At the CES keynote tonight, the CPU giant is officially launching Medfield, the 32nm smartphone SoC the company has built to take it into the next generation of smartphones (and a few tablets). The chip, now officially named the Atom Z2460, is ready for prime time.
We visited Intel HQ in December and were briefed on the next-generation phone and what Intel expects it to do. After Moorestown's disappointing performance in the space, the CPU giant is keen to put its best foot forward, and our time with the company reflected that. Intel isn't trying to position Medfield as an ARM-crusher, but as a solution that's more than capable of running with the current pack of hardware.
Unlike Moorestown, which debuted with a bang, an LG-designed phone, and went nowhere thereafter, Medfield has solid design wins behind it, by which we mean products that will definitely be coming to market. Motorola and Lenovo are both announcing products today. Lenovo has its K800, a device intended for the Chinese market and sold by China Unicom, while Motorola has announced a multi-part deal with Intel for smartphone and tablets.
Details are still a bit sketchy on Moto's hardware, but the company expects to ship phones by this summer, with a tablet following later. These announcements aren't likely to be isolated events, either; we're likely to hear about more products at Mobile World Congress next month.
So what's inside the new chip? Let's have a look.
|ViewSonic and EXOPC Demo 32-Inch EXOdesk|
Today, we got a chance to see the new ViewSonic EXOdesk. This new interactive touch screen tabletop uses an HTML5-powered interface created by EXOPC. As you can see from the video below, the EXOdesk supports gesture-based control of applications and multi-touch input.
The demo we saw featured a 32-inch screen and was powered by an external PC running on a Core i7 CPU and integrated graphics. The panel supports 10 points of touch with a resolution of 1920x1080. The EXOdesk can be used in a variety of situations including business settings, education, for entertainment, and for media editing.
Some of the applications that are being showcased at CES 2012 include a news reader, reference apps, interactive books, weather, calculator, clock, calendar, media player, and board games. We expect many more applications to come: since EXOPC believes applications will be a huge driving force behind the success of the EXOdesk, the company is planning to invest heavily in application development. Pricing and availability for the EXOdesk have not been announced.
ViewSonic is also showing off its ViewSonic TDi2340 Touch Display and the ViewSonic ViewPad 10Pi tablet. The ViewSonic TDi2340 Touch Display is a 23-inch display with 10-point capacitive touch input. The TDi2340 is based on the latest ARM11 CPU and uses a customized ViewSonic interface that lets you share photos and stream media content wirelessly.
The ViewSonic ViewPad 10Pi features dual cameras for business video conferencing and a 1280x800 IPS display. This is a dual-OS device runs on both Android 2.3 as well as Windows 7 Professional. The ViewPad 10Pi is powered by Intel’s Oak Trail z670 processor. This tablet is expected to be available later this month for about $850.
|CES 2012: Intel and SuperMicro Booth Tours|
We’re making our way around the show floor at the Consumer Electronics Show and have some interesting tid-bits to share with you all from our tours of the Intel and SuperMicro booths in the Central and South Halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Not surprisingly, much of Intel’s focus this year has been on Ultrabooks. There are Ultrabooks virtually everywhere and all of Intel’s major mobile partners have shown off current or future Ultrabook desings in their respective displays or in Intel’s. There is a large tower at the corner of Intel’s gigantic booth with a myriad of Ultrabooks on display from partners like Samsung, Toshiba, Asus, Acer, LG, Lenovo and others. Of all of the machines, the Lenovo Yoga is perhaps the most buzzworthy, with its dual-articulating hinge design (we’ve captured the Yoga on video here). Unfortunately, there wasn’t much new infomration regarding next-gen Ivy Bridge-based Ultrabooks, but it won’t be long before we’ve got more to report on that front.
We also spent some time checking out SuperMicro’s booth. The company is well known for their server motherboards and enterprise-class workstations, but they’ve also recently entered the entry-level gaming system space. Unlike many boutique gaming system building, which tend to sport flashy chassis and focus on overclocking, SuperMicro has instead equipped their machines with their own workstation-class motherboards and focused on stability and reliability. SuperMicro systems can be user customized at the time of order, with prices starting in the $1000 range.
|Razer Fiona Gaming Tablet|
|Razer took the wraps off of “Fiona”, a PC gaming tablet concept design, at CES this week. Though just a concept design, Fiona portends exciting things in the portable gaming world--specifically, the idea that portable gaming can be as immersive and natively awesome as desktop PC gaming.
Razer is packing in an Intel Core i7 processor into Fiona, whose other (projected) specs will include a 10.1-inch (1280x800) display; multi-touch capabilities; gyro, magnetometer, and accelerometer; force feedback; Dolby 7.1 surround sound; and WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0. The tablet should cost less than $1,000, but Razer didn’t offer any further details on price.
Fiona will have a hybrid user interface consisting of the touchscreen and integrated dual game controllers with analog sticks and according to the design images, at least four buttons on each side. PC games (that are gamepad-enabed) will run on Fiona, with no need for an app version of a particular game or any other modifications.
Of course, with any concept design, you can bet the farm that the finished product--if it ever becomes a finished product--won’t be as beautiful, may have weaker specs, and in general won’t be as titillating, but in this case, we’ll let ourselves feel giddy about the possibilities anyway. We want one of these, now.
Besides, Razer says that developer units are coming soon, and the product should ship in Q4 this year.
|Samsung Galaxy Note And Toshiba Excite X10 Tablet|
We recently got a chance to see the all new Samsung Galaxy Note which will be coming to AT&T’s network. This new device represents a bit of a crossover between the tablet and a smartphone with its 5.3-inch HD Super AMOLED display that supports a resolution of 1280x800s.
One of the unique features of the Samsung Galaxy Note is its S Pen, which lets you interact with the device much like you would with a pen and paper. Because the Galaxy Note has such a large screen, Samsung was able to offer a few new software features, such as the ability to view your calendar and to-do list in a single view.
On the hardware side, the Galaxy Note features a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 16GB of onboard memory, a microSD card slot, 8MP rear-facing camera, 2MP front-facing camera, and mobile hotspot capabilities. Since the Note will be available through AT&T, it will also offer connectivity to AT&T’s 4G LTE network.
At Samsung's booth today, we got a chance to check out the Galaxy Note for ourselves and play with the S Pen. Check it out in the video above.
We also got to see a demo of Toshiba’s new Excite X10 tablet. This hot new tablet is touted as the “world’s thinnest 10-inch tablet” that will be available in the US market. This tablet measures just 0.3 inches thick (7.7mm) and weighs 1.18 pounds. The Excite X10 features a 10.1-inch high resolution AutoBrite display along with Corning Gorilla Glass and an anti-smudge coating for durability and resiliency.
If you’re familiar with some of Toshiba’s other tablets, you know that they’ve often featured plenty of ports and connectivity options. The Excite X10 is no different. On this tablet, you’ll find microUSB and micro HDMI ports, a microSD card slot, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity. The tablet also has a 2MP front-facing and 5MP rear-facing camera and stereo speakers.
Under the hood, you’ll find Texas Instruments 1.2GHz OMAPTM4430 mobile processor which offers multicore processing power. With this multicore design, you’ll get two ARM Cortex A9 cores and dual-channel memory.
The Excite X10 tablet will run on Android. Look for the Excite X10 table to ship sometime in the first quarter of 2012 with a starting price of $529.99 for the 16GB model and $599.99 for the 32GB model.
|Corsair Obsidian and Carbide Series Chassis|
|Corsair today announced on the second day of CES a couple of additions to its PC case lineup, including the builder-friendly Obsidian Series 550D ultra-quiet premium case, and the compact Carbide Series 300R gaming chassis, both of which sport an all-black interior and exterior theme. So other than size, what sets these enclosures apart?
The Obsidian Series 550D is for librarian types looking for a combination of noise reduction and a wide array of customizable cooling solutions. It's made of rugged steel and brushed aluminum, and features two 120mm intake fans and a single 120mm exhaust fan. There are additional mounting points for a total of up to ten fans, including a spot for dual side-mounted fans to keep those toasty GPUs from getting too hot under the collar. Speaking of which, there are eight expansion slots with room for GPUs of up to 450mm in length.
Other features include a CPU cutout to make it easier to install heastinks, tool-free HDD bays with removable caddies and integrated 2.5-inch SSD support, four tool-free ODD bays, magnetically mounted dust filters, side panels that flip open with the press of a button, and a diamond cut aluminum front control panel with USB 3.0 connectors.
Moving on, the Carbide Series 300R boasts three tool-free optical and four hard drive bays (also with 2.5-inch SSD compatibility), and it too supports graphics cards up to 450mm in length. It has a cable routing system to keep the interior from becoming a cluster-fudge of wires.
"Inexpensive, compact cases often fall short in builder-friendly features, airflow, or the cosmetic features that make great gaming PCs really stand out," continued Mr. Mookerjee. "The Carbide Series 300R hits the mark for an affordable, enthusiast-quality compact PC case. Its innovative features will be appreciated by both seasoned system builders and PC gamers who are taking the leap and building their first system from scratch."
The Obsidian Series 550D ($159) and Carbide Series 300R ($89) will both be available in February.
|NVIDIA Tegra 3 and Mobile Announcements|
|We weren’t sure what to expect from NVIDIA’s press event at CES, but the big news turned out to be that ASUS is shipping the world’s first Ice Cream Sandwich tablet--starting today--an ASUS Transformer Prime, which boasts the NVIDIA Tegra 3 chip.
NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took the stage and hosted an impressive demonstration of the new Transformer Prime, including gorgeous movie playback from Fandango, real-time photo editing with Snapseed, multiplayer FPS gameplay over a LAN, and remote PC access through Splashtop THD. (The latter included a smokin’ hot demo of Skyrim being played via Steam via Splashtop THD.)
Then, he announced that the Tegra 3-based ASUS Transformer Prime with Ice Cream Sandwich starts shipping today.
Although there’s no official name for some reason and no ship date for it, Huang and ASUS CEO Jerry Shen showed off a 7-inch tablet, which sports a lot of the same specs as the Transformer Prime--including a Tegra 3 chip, great camera and sound, Ice Cream Sandwich, and so on--and will retail for $249.
NVIDIA also demoed some of its other technologies, including PRISM, which dynamically adjusts backlight levels and color to achieve a great picture while consuming less power, and DirectTouch, which significantly boosts the sample rate for touch input by leveraging the fifth companion core in Tegra 3. With DirectTouch, sample rates went from about 80 samples a second with 10 finger input to over 200 samples a second.
If you were expecting a desktop GPU announcement, too bad--the Tegra 3 was the star of the show so far. We do have meetings with NVIDIA at which we hope to hear more about their GPU plans, for both desktop and mobile applications.
|AMD Trinity APU, Lightning Bolt and More|
Though they weren't the last stop on our whirl-wind tour, the folks at AMD were also showcasing some interesting new technologies in their suite upstairs in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. We'll cap off our CES wrap-up with AMD's Trinity Fusion APU and other highlights, including Android Ice Cream Sandwich running on an AMD Zacate low power X86 processor.
We’re still fighting our way through the insanity that is the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, but wanted to take a break to share some more juicy news with you all. We just got out of a meeting with the folks at AMD in which they showed us some current and future APU offerings, new I/O technology, and provided a bit of info regarding upcoming Radeon HD 7000M series graphics processors.
First up we have a video showing an upcoming Trinity APU in action. We don’t want to give away the “ah ha” moment in the video, but what’s interesting—along with the actual demo—is that AMD already has Trinity up and running, and running well as you’ll see. Particulars like clock speeds and the GPU configuration weren’t disclosed, but we can tell you that the Trinity APU in the notebook used during the demo was a 17w variant, and as AMD has already disclosed, the Trinity APU sports quad Piledriver cores, an update to Bulldozer that should offer better performance though not only architectural enhancements but frequency increases as well.
In a backroom session in which we weren’t able to snap any photos, AMD also showed us some interesting I/O technology, currently codenamed “Lightning Bolt” (not to be confused with Intel’s Thunderbolt). With Lightning Bolt, AMD aims to offer the ultimate docking station of sorts for AMD-based mobile devices. Using a $40-ish hub, users will be able to connect a single DisplayPort 1.2 cable to a mobile PC to not only charge the system, but to connect it to up to four external displays and multiple external USB 3.0 devices.
Another very cool demo in the AMD booth featured an MSI-built, AMD-based tablet PC running Android 4, Ice Cream Sandwich. The 10-inch MSI WindPad used in the demo was outfitted with an AMD Z-Series Z-01 (1.0GHz) CPU, 4GB of DDR3 Memory, and Radeon HD 6250-series graphics. As you’ll see in the video, ICS ran well on the tablet and was smooth and responsive. Although still an early alpha that wasn’t fully functional, hardware acceleration was working, as is evidenced by the silky smooth graphics and scrolling.
OCZ Technology Group, a leading provider of high-performance solid-state drives (SSDs) for computing devices and systems.