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Personal Blog

They are finally here! Intel's 4th generation line of Core processors codenamed Haswell first started appearing on sale just this week to the consumer line and it does not disappoint.

The new CPU is 25% more efficient than the Ivy Bridge CPUs and it's integrated GPU is 2.6x more powerful. The IGP ends up being 50% faster when used to graphics intense tasks such as video editing or light gaming that the processors are suited to.

But where Ivy Bridge touched on Haswell intends to improve. The main forte of Ivy Bridge was still desktops, laptops and Ultrabooks. Haswell on the other hand has a much higher energy saving and therefore is well suited to tablets.

The IGP is where it is at however. The Ivy Bridge CPU itself is already a powerhouse and with only a few minor improvements for this side of things, the graphics chip has had full attention. To me personally, I believe that including a GPU in the CPU to create SoC (System-On-a-Chip) is a great idea and one that is great for those who use the GPU for certain tasks (I love the Quick Sync 2.0 feature in my Sandy Bridge CPU as it makes video rendering much faster) but I also have a dedicated GPU (AMD Radeon 7950) for gaming and for other GPU intensive applications.

The improvements within the GPU are incredibly useful for tablets and other devices which can utilise the lower power consumption and better performance better than a PC with a dedicated graphics card. What's more, the CPUs all feature different GPUs which allows for a broad scalability ranging from servers to tablets. It is claimed that the highest end GPU (Iris Pro 5200) included has a total of 40 execution cores (or units) in comparison to Sandy Bridge's stock of 16 cores. Intel has promised scalability of the GPU as the lowest end (HD 4200) model only has 20 units - still more than Sandy Bridge.

Haswell will also use a different socket to both Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge now using Socket 1150 which means no backward compatibility.

For the mean time, if you are like me and are waiting for Broadwell, the successor to Haswell (14nm fabrication process) or even waiting further then here is the new box design for you to look at.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news
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Windows Blue

Microsoft has today confirmed that Windows "Blue", which is the successor to Windows 8, will be a free update for those running Windows 8, although it will have significant changes, following the footsteps of Google and Apple with their respective OSes; Android and iOS.

According to this site, Microsoft aims for a June release for the first developer release. "Blue", as it was previously known, will be released under the name Windows 8.1. This follows a similar approach to Apple's version numbering with Mac OS X, flowing from 10.1 to 10.8 making it a minor release rather than a major release. Microsoft however, intend for 8.1 to be an important step required for the improved Windows and have brought many new (and old) features into 8.1.

Hopefully this will fix a lot of the disaster that is Windows 8. Pfff!

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news
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As the title states, Samsung will be releasing the Galaxy S4 without an octa-core CPU in the UK. The news comes as a shock after Samsung had announced that the new S4 would feature an octa-core CPU but it was confirmed on Omio.

The octa-core CPU that is included in the US version is similar to how the Intel Core 2 Quad (comprised of two Intel Core 2 Duo dies on the one chip and a shared L2 cache). In this case with the Exynos 5 Octa it works with two CPUs (two quad core CPUs in this case) and the instructions are spread between the two.

As such it would be the first phone to feature an octa-core CPU in the world, but for now it is just the first in the US.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news
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Apple hinted that in quartile 4 of 2013 there could be a new range of products. Speculation has begun to appear about what this could be.

Apple has already been noted for not turning down the rumours of a new Apple TV set (as in not just a set top box, but a proper television with a display) for a long time now and there is still a possibility.

But can Apple conquer the television market from Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Sony who pretty much run the whole market these days? Well they came into the smartphone market with an innovative design - utilising the consumer friendly capacitive touch display all the way back in 2007 whereas Windows Mobile was still in favour of the enterprise users and still used to resistive technology. However, it was the early innovation that got them there in the first place. Apple have been beaten to be the first into the Smart TV market already, so it's hardly appealing that they release some app based TV when most of us have them as it is.

Connectivity to the Mac computers using AirPlay may inspire some of us to buy one, but for others there probably won't be that many benefits. Especially saying as Apple's computers seem to set in line Apple's hate for connectivity. This is what gets me about Apple - they brought out the Lightning connector and there are no docks - they destroyed something good and replaced it with something that could easily have been replaced with a micro USB connector like the rest of the industry (by the way, it's EU law to have some kind of way of charging the iPhone via micro USB). Again, there is no support for HDMI without purchasing adapters for the iPad - there are no physical connectors other than the Dock or Lightning connectors. The same goes for the Mac line of computers; on my 2011 MacBook Pro I have two USB ports, FireWire 800, Thunderbolt, Ethernet and an audio jack - a similar PC would have a lot more. In fact the new Retina line of MacBook Pro computers only have two Thunderbolt ports and two USB 3.0, an HDMI port and an audio jack. Apple seems to like the minimalist design of few connectors and I'm sure we would see the same happen to a television set if it happened.

However, a new television is not all that Apple could announce. The MacBook Air could do with a Retina display and perhaps this is what is meant by a new product from Apple.

So what do you think? Comment below if you have an opinion.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news
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Whilst the fabrication size of features in processors is getting smaller all the time, IBM had time to show off how far we have (or they) have come with it, demonstrating a very short animation of a boy with his atom and putting it on the web so we can all see it.

For anyone who is interested in fabrication or physics or would just like to see atoms dance, this video is sure to please you.

Read the full story over at Wired.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news
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WordPress built sites are under major attack from more than a denial of service attacks (DOS).

As a precaution, I have limited the number of login attempts on this blog to prevent people running malicious programs to crack the logins.

You can read more at Ars Technica:

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/04/huge-attack-on-wordpress-sites-could-spawn-never-before-seen-super-botnet/

Or from a WordPress founder:

http://ma.tt/2013/04/passwords-and-brute-force/

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news
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Along with many others, I am eagerly anticipating the release of Haswell, Intel's next step on their roadmap. It will replace the current 'third generation' of the Core series known as Ivy Bridge and will bring new power optimisations among many other features.

Some of the new features that we can expect are the new LGA (Land Grid Array) socket 1150 for desktops, rPGA (Pin Grid Array) socket 947 and BGA (Ball Grid Array) socket 1364 for mobile versions, DirectX 11.1 and OpenGL 4.0 support for the built-in graphics chip featured with all Haswell chips. The merged southbridge and northbridge design known by Intel as the Platform Controller Hub (PCH) will receive a die shrink from 65nm to 32nm.

The chip will continue to be manufactured at 22nm and will continue to use Intel's Tri-Gate transistor platform, but it will be incompatible with Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge motherboards. If you are like me and hoping to get your hands on Haswell, wait until after the initial launch as with Sandy Bridge and later Ivy Bridge, I can no longer trust that it will be flawless from the release and will wait a bit longer before considering the upgrade on my slightly faulty Sandy Bridge.

What else would you like to see with Haswell? Comment below.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news
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It was only last week I was talking to my brother about how Google was apparently dropping the WebKit browsing engine that they had used in Chrome since the beginning. Of course there had to be a reason behind this. The answer is Blink.

Blink is a new browsing engine which forks from WebKit (for those who do not talk tech this is when a piece of software is adapted to make a new piece of software and they go off in two paths, similar to Libre Office and OpenOffice).

So whilst Safari will continue to use the WebKit engine, Chrome and Opera will move to Blink. Firefox continues to use the Gecko Engine (which I despise) and Internet Explorer will continue using Trident. Have I missed any?

What does this mean for the Chrome user?

It does not mean much for you right now as a fork takes from the latest version of the software, so the first version of Blink will be the same as the last version of WebKit and therefore it will render similarly. However, in the future Google's development on the Blink engine may push WebKit down as Google may innovate more and more. On the other hand, it could go the other way and WebKit could bring a better browsing experience before Blink.

Will Blink come to mobile devices?

Yes! Blink will come to Android as well as desktop versions of Chrome. Part of the Chromium Project's latest browsing engine is that it will be featured on all devices in the same manner. So don't worry about your mobile not being the same as your desktop, it will look exactly the same.

Why is this happening?

Apparently, according to the Guardian:

The move follows long-simmering disagreement between engineers at Apple and Google over the best way to develop the rendering engine underlying the browser - with one senior Apple engineer saying that Google refused to incorporate key technologies into the main branch of WebKit, keeping them instead for Chrome.

Unfortunately, Google and Apple do not get on for the better of the open source project which as of March 2013 Apple now owns the trademark to.

In my opinion, this is just another problem between Apple and Google, showcasing the fact that the two of them should never be involved in projects together.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news
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Microsoft has officially commented on the next release of Windows, known by its codename as "Windows Blue". The update is said not to be a new release of the operating system but as an update for the current Windows 8 operating system but unlike a service pack, it will bring new features that the end user will notice. It marks a change for Microsoft; releasing a new update to an OS that will change the user experience of the operating system and bring new features.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news
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Let us wish the company who does almost everything technology a happy birthday today.

10 years ago today, Google was born!

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech news
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