Chipsets

Lenovo: USB 3.0 mainstream in 2012

Lenovo's top product manager for the popular ThinkPad line says USB 3.0 will go mainstream in 2012, while Intel sees the new Thunderbolt interface gravitating to some high-end nonmainstream laptop models.

This week, Lenovo began selling its ThinkPad X1, a 0.85-inch thick (thickest point), 3.8-pound design based on Intel's "Sandy Bridge" Core i5 and i7 processors.

Beyond the obvious attractions of a svelte, high-powered laptop, the X1 also sports an increasingly popular USB port based on the "SuperSpeed" 3.0 specification. USB is one of the most widely used connection technologies … Read more

AMD to back USB 3.0 in its chips

Advanced Micro Devices will support USB 3.0 in its chips, marking the first instance of a major PC processor supplier getting behind the standard. Intel has yet to support the high-speed interface.

The USB Implementers Forum today announced that AMD will deliver the first chipsets to integrate support for USB 3.0, aka SuperSpeed USB. A chipset accompanies the main processor.

"With [today's] announcement AMD is...disclosing our support for SuperSpeed USB 3.0 in upcoming AMD A75 and A70M Fusion [chipsets]. Both chipsets are shipping today," said Phil Hughes, an AMD spokesman, responding to an … Read more

Inside the iPad 2: Chip brings 50% browsing boost

Wondering what makes that iPad 2 you just got tick and how much faster it is than the original iPad? Anandtech, iFixit, iosnoops, and UBM TechInsights have provided some answers.

Processor performance: Let's address this first--for obvious reasons. Apple has already been very public about the dual-core 1GHz A5 processor--a step up from the single-core chip in the original iPad--and the chip's "up to 9X faster" graphics" (Apple's ad copy).

And the verdict from an independent review? "CPU [Central Processing Unit] performance...we found to be a healthy 50 percent faster than the … Read more

Inside Google's Nexus S

Inside of Google's newest smartphone is a lot of solid, though fairly standard-issue hardware. One item on the outside of the phone raises a few eyebrows, however.

Google's spanking-new smartphone--made by Samsung and available at Best Buy--packs widely used components like a SanDisk 16GB NAND flash module and a baseband processor--used for 3G--from Infineon, according to teardown virtuoso iFixit. (Note that Intel is in the process of acquiring Infineon's wireless business unit so that would technically put Intel inside the phone.)

The Nexus S is cut from the same cloth as the Samsung Galaxy S, boasting many … Read more

No light for Intel's initial Light Peak tech

The initial version of Intel's Light Peak connection technology will not use light, as practical realities dictate more conventional technology, according to industry sources familiar with Intel's plans for Light Peak.

Light Peak has been touted by Intel as the holy grail of connector technology, envisioning it as a single replacement for the myriad cables that currently lead to monitors, external drives, scanners, printers, and anything else that plugs into a computer.

As originally proposed, the fiber-optic technology connects many devices to PCs with fiber-optic lines. But the initial version of Light Peak will use copper instead of … Read more

Intel Light Peak tech coming--will Apple follow?

A technology developed by Intel and backed by Apple is expected to appear earlier than previously thought, paving the way for very-high-speed connections on both PCs and Macs.

Light Peak is now on track to appear in products in the first half of 2011--and likely earlier in the year than later, according to an industry source familiar with the progress of the technology. Light Peak--proposed as an underlying protocol that will host other protocols like USB or DisplayPort--will carry data at 10 gigabits per second in both directions simultaneously.

Apple is expected to back Light Peak, if past comments from Intel still hold. Shortly after its annual developer conference in 2009, Intel said that it had showed the technology to third parties, got feedback, then incorporated the feedback into the next design, adding, at that time, that "Apple is an innovating force in the industry." (Apple has reportedly claimed that it conceived the idea for Light Peak.)

If Apple implements Light Peak, it would be a safe bet that the company will have a lot to say about the technology--maybe with a catchy name in tow. And it would probably not be wild speculation to say that Apple would want to be the first to use it.

An Intel demonstration in 2009 at its developer conference used a machine running Apple's Mac OS X.… Read more

FTC: Intel has until 2013 to tweak tablet chip

Intel has until 2013 to add an interface to the tablet-centric version of its Atom processor, as device makers are targeting the chip for Netbooks, the Federal Trade Commission said in a "modified settlement order" today.

"The agreement reached in August is now final but there is a minor modification to it," Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said today. "That modification is related to Oak Trail, which is for a tablet computer design. Some OEMs (device makers) have decided to design it into a Netbook-type device and under the definitions of the agreement, that made it … Read more

For Apple, HTC, it's hip to tout chip

At one time in the not-too-distant past, cell phone chips were an unknown quantity or, at best, given short shrift by cell phone providers and manufacturers. Not anymore.

The Apple iPhone and HTC Evo 4G from Sprint are two of the hottest phones on the market. And both companies advertise the processor prominently. Is this a coincidence? Intel, the largest chipmaker in the world, doesn't think so.

"As late as a year ago, consumers didn't care about the processing power in their smartphones. Today almost every store is advertising the CPU speed that's inside the smartphone,&… Read more

Teardown reveals Apple TV, iPad likeness

The iPad may not look like an Apple TV unit, but inside there are some striking similarities.

Commentary attached to a teardown of the second-generation Apple TV by iFixit reads a little like a dismantling of an iPad. Similarities are most conspicuously seen in the Apple A4 chip coupled with 256MB of processor RAM--just like in the iPad. And the same Broadcom Wi-Fi chip.

And the flash memory? "Why...it's the same part we found during the iPad teardown!" according to iFixit. Namely, a Samsung 8GB flash chip.

And the 0.6-pound streaming-centric set-top box also uses … Read more

Want a laptop with USB 3.0? The few, the proud

USB 3.0 has been slow to arrive in laptops, but there are a few models on the market that boast this high-speed connection technology.

The current USB 2.0 standard, which is found on virtually all laptops today, has been around a long time. Intel laid the groundwork for widespread use on PCs and devices in spring 2002 when it put the technology in its silicon. Eight years later, the advantages of moving to a faster standard are clear for devices like digital cameras, camcorders, and hard drives: transfer rates jump from 480 megabits per second on USB 2.0 to as much as 5 gigabits per second with USB 3.0. And reviews testify to a significant speed increase.

One of the sticking points, however, of mass adoption by laptop makers is the lack of direct support in Intel chipsets, as this blog posted on a Dell-hosted Web page explains. One of the oft-cited reasons put forth by analysts for the lack of broad USB 3.0 support is that many devices, like printers, simply don't benefit from moving to 3.0. Another reason: a number of laptops already ship with the faster eSATA standard, which Intel supports in its mobile chipsets, not to mention desktop variants. (Many HP Pavilion laptops, for example, also come with eSATA.)

Moreover, other technologies lurk as potential replacements for USB 3.0--at least in its current format. Light Peak, for instance, offers even greater transfer speeds and has received support from high-profile companies like Apple and Sony. That said, Light Peak won't appear… Read more