News Bits: Intel Notebook Battery Drain Issues, Vista Versions, Qosmio G35, Core Duo Price Cuts

by Reads (11,121)

Microsoft to Blame for Battery Life Drain

“Microsoft has confirmed the existance of a flaw in its USB 2.0 drivers for Windows XP Service Pack 2 that can cause a notebook to consume power at a faster-than-expected rate when using a peripheral device”

This issue was first uncovered by Tom’s Hardware two weeks ago, and it appeared that it only affected certain Intel-based notebooks running Windows XP with Service Pack 2 installed.  The issue occured when a device was connected to a USB 2.0 device, where the notebook would consume power at a far greater rate than would be expected. Intel denied that its chipsets and microprocessors were the cause of the issue. Microsoft confirmed on February 15th that they were to blame for the battery drain issue.

Apparently, in July 2005, Microsoft posted a knowledge base article avaliable to only PC vendors and partners. The article will not be released to the public.  In the article, Microsoft outlined a problem with its USB 2.0 drivers, which prevent a mobile processor from falling into “deep sleep” states, which minimize power consumption. The issue was more pronounced on the new Core Duo processors because they are capable of deeper sleep states than previous generation Pentium M processors. It is not clear yet whether or not the driver flaw affects AMD-based notebooks.

The degree of the problem varies according to how USB 2.0 has been implimented in a notebook (processor, chipset, Operating System, USB 2.0 device, etc.) as well as the drivers in use for those devices.

Notebook users experiencing this issue are encouraged to contact their manufacturer for assistance.

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Windows Vista to come in Six Core Versions

Microsoft has finally posted on its website the six core versions of Windows Vista. Two additional versions will be customized as ordered by European antitrust regulators for the European Union that will not bundle in Windows Media Player.

The six core versions are as follows:

  • Windows Vista Starter 2007
  • Windows Vista Enterprise
  • Windows Vista Home Basic
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Windows Vista Ultimate
  • Windows Vista Business

It is unknown whether the Starter Edition is the same as the current Windows XP Starter Edition – not fully featured, made for less-developed countries.  Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and Media Center Edition are no longer sold seperately, as their features will be integrated into other versions.  Windows Vista Enterprise Edition is being used by Microsoft as an incentive to attract more users to sign up for the so-called Software Assurance licensing plan.

Notice that there is no mention of any 64-bit specific Windows Vista Editions, nor a Small Business version. According to Microsoft’s website, all of the Windows Vista Editions will include integrated games (w00t!).   The operating system is slated to ship in the Fall of 2006.

In this author’s opinion, I believe that all these versions will lead to much confusion amongst consumers. We have enough trouble deciding between Windows XP Home and Professional. I view this as a bad move on Microsoft’s part. Putting more fruit on the table may be a good thing in some markets, but Microsoft isn’t putting themselves in the shoes of an average consumer.

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Intel’s Roadmap: Merom to Break 5-Hour Battery Life Barrier

Battery time in notebooks equipped with Intel’s upcoming Merom processor is expected to make a significant increase in battery time: Sources suggest that many devices will break the five-hour barrier.

Current Intel Core Duo notebooks allow users to reach four hours of battery life, but that is still far below the eight hours Intel is shooting for in 2008. The upcoming Intel “Merom” will debut as the Intel Core Duo T5000 and T7000 series in the fourth quarter of this year. They are expected to bump the current 240-270 minutes of battery life to at least 300 minutes.
Merom will debut with the following model processors:

  • T5600: 1.83 GHz, FSB667, 2 MB L2 cache, $241 at launch
  • T7200: 2.00 GHz, FSB667, 4 MB L2 cache, $294 at launch
  • T7400: 2.16 GHz, FSB667, 4 MB L2 cache, $423 at launch
  • T7600: 2.33 GHz, FSB667, 4 MB L2 cache, $637 at launch

Intel plans to release Merom as a part of the Napa64 platform – a 64-bit update to the current 32-bit Napa platform. Whether or not the Core Duo will be upgraded to 64-bit is unclear. Documents indicate that Intel has no plans to update the Core Duo to 64-bit.
But, until that time, the current Core Duo will get higher clockspeeds, the 2.33GHz T2700, and a higher-clocked Core Solo, the T1400 (1.83GHz).

Upgrading the Front-Side Bus speed to 800MHz from 667MHz will happen in early 2007 – when Intel will intro the “Santa Rosa” platform.  Napa64 will not be able to release the full power of Merom, but the updated architecture will allow longer battery times right off the bat. 14″-15″ notebooks can expect about 5 hours of life. Gaming notebooks and other 17″ models are expected to get around three hours.

The budget lineup of Merom will include a single core variant for the Celeron M family. The Celeron M will remain to be called as the Celeron M.

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Intel to Lower Core Duo Prices in May

Intel is supposed to lower the current prices for the Core Duo processor anywhere from 17%-32% in May this year. The top-of-the-line T2600 will fall from the current $632 to $423, T2500 will fall to $294, and the T2400 to $294.

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Toshiba Announces Qosmio G35-AV6000 for U.S. Market

Toshiba announced its next-generation Qosmio ‘four-in-one’ audio-video notebook today, good news is that it’s set at a MSRP initial release price $600 lower than previous models (Meaning it’s $2,400 instead of $3,000 — still majorly expensive)

The Qosmio G35-AV600 includes the usual integrated TV tuner, DVR, virtual surround sound and powerful computing performance as well as the new Intel Core Duo processor, 1-bit digital amplifier (the first of any computer), Dolby Home Theater (the first in any multimedia notebook), and new Bass Reflex Speaker technology from harmon/kardon. 

Qosmio G35-AV600 Product Specifications

  • Processor: Intel Core Duo  Processor2 T2400 (Dual 1.83 GHz, 667 MHz FSB, 2MB L2 cache)
  • Display: 17-inch diagonal widescreen Ultimate TruBrite TFT active-matrix LCD (1440×900)
  •  Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce Go 7300 with 256MB GDDR2
  • Memory/RAM: 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM memory(5)
  • Hard Drive: 160GB (5400 rpm) using two 80GB Serial-ATA (SATA) hard disk drives
  • Optical Drive:  Front slot-loading DVD SuperMulti Double Layer drive
  • Wireless: Integrated Intel Pro/Wireless 3945ABG (802.11a/b/g); Bluetooth (R) version 2.0 plus Enhanced Data Rate (EDR)
  • Ports: 4 USB v. 2.0, RGB, TV out (S-Video and component via D-connector cable), AV IN (S-Video and connector and composite/monitor/line-IN), RJ-45 LAN port, RJ-11, i-Link(R) 1394, S/PDIF Optical Audio Output
  • TV Tuner
  • Dimensions: 16.0 x 11.6 x 1.79 inches, 10.1lbs

Trojan for Mac OS X a Dud

Macintosh users have been largely untouched by viruses, trojans, etc. Occasionally, there has been a worm such as 1998′s Autostart 9805, but Windows is by far the most targeted operating system.

Recently, a new trojan dubbed as “Leap-A”, disguising itself as a set of pictures was discovered. The file was called “latestpics.tgz”. So how bad is it? Well, for starters, getting your computer infected in the first place is a bit difficult. The user has to decompress it, then is left with two files, one of which is a .JPG file – the executable. If executed, the worm will make a copy of itself and send copies of itself to people on iChat’s buddy list.

It turns out that the Leap-A trojan is just a harmless bit of code, with Symantec designating it as a “Level One” threat – very low on the scale as far as malicous code goes.

Looking toward the future – as the sales of Macintosh computers continue to increase, it may become a potential target of malware writers.

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Nvidia Posts Record Quarter

On February 16th, Nvidia posted record sales and net income for its 2006 fiscal year.

Nvidia last night posted record sales and net income for the fourth quarter of its 2006 fiscal year. During the three months to January 29, the company earned $98.1m (53 cents a share) on sales of $633.6m.

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Shipments of Pre-N Wireless Products Expected in Q2 ’06

Leading WLAN solution providers have begun to produce chips that support the new 802.11n wireless specification. Shipments of pre-N products have already begun shipping by some Taiwan manufacturers.

Linksys is most likely to lead its rivals, such as Netgear, to bring pre-N products in March.
By Q3, shipments from Taiwan are likely to gain momentum, and shipments on an ecomonic scale of up to 100,000 units are expected by late summer – pre-Christmas.

Read More . . .



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