Archive for the ‘hardware’ Category

Lenovo takes on Microsoft’s Surface Studio with its own tilting all-in-one

January 9th, 2019

Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet stimulated a range of copycat systems from PC OEMs, with all the major PC companies coming out with their own riff on the tablet with kickstand and detachable keyboard/cover. It's now Surface Studio's turn to inspire clones.

Lenovo's Yoga A940 copies the central Surface Studio concept: it's an all-in-one PC with a large touchscreen mounted on a hinge so that it can be laid relatively flat (an angle of 25 degrees). Lenovo's display isn't as eye-catching as Microsoft's: it's a 27-inch display with a conventional 16:9 aspect ratio and either a 2560×1440 or 3840×2160 resolution. It supports stylus input from an active stylus using Wacom's AES technology. Lenovo even has its own riff on Microsoft's Surface Dial peripheral; on the left-hand side of the screen is a rotary control named the "Precision Dial," which can control features of various Adobe applications. At the top of the display is a 1080p webcam with an infrared camera for Windows Hello facial recognition.

While the screen is smaller, the base unit, containing the integrated PC, is quite a bit bigger than Microsoft's. It includes a desktop (65W) 8th generation Core i7 processor, so it should outpace the mobile chip found in the Surface Studio. On the other hand, the discrete GPU is an AMD Radeon RX 560, which is quite a bit slower than the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 in the Surface Studio 2. The A940 has up to 32GB of RAM, up to 512GB of PCIe SSD, and 2TB of hard disk storage.

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Posted in CES, hardware, Lenovo, microsoft, surface studio, Tech | Comments (0)

Intel sets out its plans for 2019: Ice Lake, Lakefield, and Project Athena

January 8th, 2019
Complete Lakefield motherboard.

Enlarge / Complete Lakefield motherboard. (credit: Intel)

Intel had a big presentation at CES last year, which was strange, because the company didn't really have many things to announce. The delays to its 10nm manufacturing process meant that, instead of exciting new chips, the best we could really hope for was rehashed versions of its current chips, which duly arrived. This year's presentation was very different. The company's 10nm process is finally due to achieve volume production this year, and late last year the company told us that 10nm was bringing with it a new architecture named Sunny Cove, a new, much faster GPU, and new manufacturing techniques with 3D die stacking. All this meant that the presentation could actually introduce a range of new products that will ship in 2019.

10nm processors for the masses: Ice Lake-U

The most important product announced, as it will likely be the highest-volume part, is Ice Lake-U. This is a 10nm mobile processor with a Sunny Cove CPU and a Gen11 GPU. Since its 2015 introduction, Intel has produced a number of variations of its Skylake architecture. Performance improvements have come from increasing clock speeds and core counts, with the core design essentially unaltered. Sunny Cove, by contrast, is a meaningful update to and improvement of that architecture and will represent Intel's first improvement in instructions-per-cycle in four years. This means that it should offer across-the-board performance improvements, regardless of workload. The Ice Lake-U parts will retain the U-series 15W power rating and will offer a maximum of four cores and eight threads.

The Gen11 GPU is similarly slated to give a big performance boost. The standard configuration (named GT2 in Intel's parlance) will include 64 execution units as compared to the 24 execution units that are standard in Skylake/Kaby Lake/Coffee Lake processors. This will more than double the floating point performance of the GPU from about 420 gigaFLOPS to 1 teraFLOPS. This increased performance increases the memory bandwidth requirements of the GPU, and the chip will accordingly sport two channels of LPDDR4X memory.

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Posted in 10nm, CES, CPU, GPU, hardware, Intel, processors, Tech | Comments (0)

Lenovo’s Legion laptops are gaming machines you won’t be embarrassed to use

January 8th, 2019


A common theme of gamer-oriented hardware is that it's ostentatious and often ugly, with bright lights and logos and LEDs making it all feel rather distasteful. Lenovo's Legion gaming hardware consciously bucks that trend by producing machines that offer gaming specs (and all the colorful lighting that for some reason goes with those specs) while still looking respectable and grown-up once you turn all the colored lights off.

Lenovo says that this is a very deliberate decision; after consulting with a wide range of gamers, the company found that an overall more conservative appearance was popular with gamers of all ages. While configurable RGB lighting is popular, many would-be buyers of gaming systems want the ability to turn all that off and have a machine that doesn't look out of place in the office or classroom. The price of gaming systems often means that they'll be their owners' sole or primary system, which makes this kind of adaptability important. Systems with an ominous red glow, angular designs, and aggressive styling might appeal to some buyers but lack this kind of "acceptable anywhere" versatility.

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Posted in CES, CES 2019, gaming, Gaming & Culture, hardware, Laptops, Lenovo, Tech | Comments (0)

Mac mini review—a testament to Apple’s stubbornness

November 23rd, 2018
The 2018 Mac mini.

Enlarge / The 2018 Mac mini. (credit: Peter Bright)

This is probably not the byline you were expecting for a review of some Apple hardware. It comes as a bit of a shock to both of us, to be honest, but here we are: I have a Mac mini on my desk, along with a Magic Trackpad and Magic Keyboard. It's all hooked up to an LG 4K 21.5-inch display, all supplied by Apple.

To set your minds at ease; this isn't the first Mac I've used. I have owned a few MacBook Pros over the years, and there was a time a few years go where I was seriously considering giving up Windows and switching entirely to Mac OS X. For now, it suffices to know that if I were to get back into using macOS as my daily driver, the Mac mini is probably the machine I'd want to get.

With the newest Mac mini, gone is the two-core, four-thread 28W Haswell processor with up to 16GB soldered RAM. This machine boasts Coffee Lake processors, either a four-core, four-thread Core i3 base model or the six-core, 12-thread Core i7 chip as found in my review system. This processor is paired with up to 64GB socketed, user-serviceable RAM. Storage has also been shaken up. Instead of a range of hybrid and SSD options, the new Mac mini is all SSD, from 128GB to 2TB. There are four Thunderbolt 3 ports, one wired Ethernet port (usually gigabit, but optionally upgraded to 10 gigabit), an HDMI 2 port, two USB 3.1 generation 1 ports, and a 3.5mm headset jack.

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Posted in apple, Features, Gadgetology, hardware, Mac mini, review, Tech | Comments (0)

Surface Go with integrated LTE available for preorder now, from $679

November 12th, 2018
Surface Go.

Enlarge / Surface Go. (credit: Microsoft)

Last week Microsoft added an extra configuration to the Surface Go lineup. Today it's rounding out the range and filling the final gaps, adding systems with integrated LTE to the product mix.

LTE adds $130 to the system price. At $679 is the consumer SKU: 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD storage, Windows 10 Home, and integrated LTE. Business users have two configurations: 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD storage, Windows 10 Pro, for $729, or the same spec with 256GB SSD storage, for $829. The LTE option adds a fraction to the weight (0.02lb/10 grams) and equips the machine with a nano-SIM tray, GPS, and GLONASS positioning.

Microsoft estimates that the LTE model has marginally lower battery life than the Wi-Fi version, quoting 8.5 hours of video playback for the LTE model, in contrast to 9 hours for the Wi-Fi version. This is likely a small price to pay for the ability to get online anywhere and everywhere. Microsoft has positioned the Surface Go as an ideal system for frontline workers: people who may be out in the field on customer or other remote sites. Adding LTE means that these workers are always online and able to reach their corporate systems for inventory management, support tickets, or whatever else they need.

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Posted in always connected, hardware, LTE, microsoft, surface go, Tech, Windows | Comments (0)

Microsoft’s special Costco Surface Go is now available to all

November 7th, 2018
Promotional image of a tablet device.

Enlarge / Surface Go. (credit: Microsoft)

Surface Go is Microsoft's cheapest Surface 2-in-1 available: $399 gets you a Surface Go with 4GB RAM and 64GB of eMMC storage. But the next step up in specs was a lot more expensive: it takes an extra $150 to double the RAM to 8GB and replace the 64GB eMMC with a 128GB SSD, a change that should provide a healthy boost in disk performance.

Strangely, there was no model that split the difference; a 4GB machine with 128GB SSD would be a lot more practical for many users. That is, unless you chose to buy your Surface Go at Costco, where a special 4GB/128GB system was sold. Now, however, that spec is available to all through the Microsoft Store, for $499.

While 4GB is a little miserly in the year 2018, it's not unprecedented at this price point. For a system used primarily for Web browsing, Microsoft Office, and media streaming, it's just about acceptable—and with the relatively weak processor in the machine, you likely wouldn't want to do much beyond those tasks anyway. The faster and larger SSD will ensure there's abundant space for music, photos, and videos without having to micromanage storage.

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Posted in hardware, microsoft, Surface, surface go, Tech | Comments (0)

With an Eye on IoT Security ARM buys Simulity for $15m

July 14th, 2017

In-brief: ARM’s purchase of Simulity adds the ability to do over the air updates to embedded SIM chips and highlights ARM’s efforts to build out security and management at IoT scale.  A tiny deal this week by ARM could have a big impact on the security of the Internet of Things. The company, which makes a wide range of low power…

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Posted in ARM, connected devices, hardware, harman, Internet of things, M&A, mirai, Network, OTA update, over the air update, Patching, Platform, sensor, SIM card, smart infrastructure, software, Top Stories | Comments (0)

Intel Fixes ‘Nightmarish’ Firmware Flaw But Nobody’s Safe

May 2nd, 2017

In-brief: Intel issued a patch for a serious vulnerability in firmware that has shipped with its chipsets for almost nine years, but it could take months for patches to reach affected customers from OEMs. Intel released a patch for a serious and remotely exploitable flaws in firmware that runs with chips the company has shipped since 2008,…

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Posted in CERT, hardware, ICS-CERT, Intel, mobile software management, Patching, Remote Desktop, remote management, Remote Power Management, vulnerabilities | Comments (0)

Robot Problems: Research Reveals Cybersecurity Woes

March 1st, 2017

In-brief: a report by the firm IOActive warns that industrial and home robots may be vulnerable to remote, software based attacks.  The term “robot” comes from the Czech word robota, meaning “forced labor.” And, while we might like to think of them as aspirational creations – marvels of engineering and maybe even…

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Posted in hardware, IOActive, Reports, robot, Robotics, software, surgical robot, Top Stories, trends, vulnerabilities | Comments (0)

Ars Technica Live: The hardware challenge of making a quality vibrator

January 25th, 2017

Ars Technica Live 9: Filmed by Chris Schodt and produced/edited by Jennifer Hahn. (video link)

Vibrators have been such a popular gadget that nineteenth century inventors turned them into one of the first electrified devices in history. Today, they’ve become so mainstream that you can even buy them at Target. But for Ti Chang, our guest on this month’s Ars Technica Live, vibrators are an industrial design challenge.

As the VP of design at Crave, Chang is responsible for the creation and manufacturing of the most intimate device you’re likely to buy. She handles everything from CAD drawings to coordinating with engineers in San Francisco and manufacturers in China. Plus, she actually listens to users. Ars staffers Annalee Newitz and Cyrus Farivar talked to her about her fascinating career in hardware design. You can watch the video or listen to the podcast. (Yes, it’s all safe for work! We were talking about vibrators, not using them.)

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Posted in ars technica live, Ars Technica Videos, hardware, Podcasts, sex toys, ti chang, vibrators | Comments (0)