sábado, 22 de julho de 2017

Asus Zenfone 4 series getting ready for launch soon

An impressive set of official teasers that have been published by Asus are surely paving the way for the official launch of the next Asus Zenfone 4 series smartphones, scheduled to take place in the coming days. Asus has already launched the Zenfone 4 Max in Russia with a price tag of 235$ but so

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MIUI 9 will support “Black Technology” for improved performance

I guess we all know by now that the next MIUI 9 version of Xiaomi’s user interface will be announced next week (July 26) along with the upcoming Xiaomi Mi 5X model. OK so far? This new MIUI version brings a lot of software improvements, bug fixes but also changes in the way we use

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Facebook rumored to be working on a new modular phone?

According to a patent application filed by Facebook recently we could be seeing that Project Ara that Google cancelled last year, this time by the engineers (and developers) of the huge social network. After all don’t forget that many of the key members of the Project Ara team are now working at Facebook’s Building 8 team,

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Nokia 8 real images leak, reveal its gold color

With only weeks left until the official unveiling of the device, a set of real images of the upcoming Nokia 8 model leaked, and reveal one of the color variants of the Finnish flagship. According to the leaked images, the Nokia 8 will feature an aluminum shell with curved corners and edges along with a

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Xiaomi plans to compete with Samsung for the 1st place in India

After a really difficult 2016, Xiaomi is again on the right track and profits soar day by day – especially in the Indian market, where the Chinese company stands in second place with 14,8% market share during the first quarter of the year, compared to Samsung’s 22% – sitting in first place. Xiaomi managed to

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BenQ Announces ZOWIE XL2546 ‘eSports’ Display: 24'', FHD, 240 Hz, DyAc ULMB Tech

BenQ this week introduced a new version of its ZOWIE XL2540 ultra-fast gaming display it launched last year. The improved device carrying the XL2546 model number has the same specifications as its predecessor, including a 1920×1080 resolution and a refresh rate as high as 240 Hz, but also adds BenQ’s proprietary DyAc (Dynamic Accuracy) technology designed to make fast-motion scenes a bit more clear.

The BenQ ZOWIE XL2540 monitor is one of the fastest gaming displays on the market today. The unit was launched in late 2016 and now BenQ launches its improved version, the ZOWIE XL2546 with DyAc. According to a preorder page at B&H, the new model mimics nearly the specs of the predecessor, then the new display features the same 24.5” TN panel from AU Optronics with a 1920×1080 resolution (it is the only 24" FHD panel with a 240 Hz refresh rate), supports for 16.7 million (6-bit + FRC) colors, has a typical contrast ratio for mainstream screens (1000:1), as well as offers a 320 cd/m2 brightness, which is lower compared to what the XL2540 offers (400 cd/m2). For some reason, with the ZOWIE XL2546, BenQ continues to ignore AMD’s FreeSync and NVIDIA’s G-Sync dynamic refresh rate technologies.

Two main features of the ZOWIE XL2546 display are its native 240 Hz refresh rate as well as the company’s DyAc (Dynamic Accuracy) technology that enhances the display's motion clarity. The manufacturer does not explain anything about this tech, but from various media reports (e.g., this one) it appears that the DyAc is BenQ's implementation of Ultra Low Motion Blur backlight strobing. ULMB reduces motion blur by inserting a black image between each frame of video and thus reducing time each frame is displayed. Given the hardware similarities between the monitors, I'm left to ponder of BenQ could have enabled this in current monitors via a firmware update, but for some reason BenQ decided not to add it to the ZOWIE XL2540, but to launch a new display instead.

Other interesting capabilities of the ZOWIE XL2540/XL2546 are the Black eQualizer that increases the brightness of dark areas without oversaturating the bright areas, an option to quickly increase color vibrancies, a special external controller to activate different settings and profiles rapidly, as well as a light-shielding hood (which BenQ calls a way to help gamers to focus on their games).

Just like the XL2540, the XL2546 uses DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI, and DVI-DL to connect to host PCs (though it should be noted that DVI does not support a 240 Hz refresh rate). In addition, the monitor has an integrated three-port USB hub and a PSU.

BenQ plans to showcase the ZOWIE XL2546 display at DreamHack Atlanta 2017 this weekend. The company does not disclose anything regarding the price or the ETA of the new unit officially, but B&H is charging $549 for the new unit, which is $50 higher compared to its predecessor.

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sexta-feira, 21 de julho de 2017

Top 5 Best Chinese Apple AirPods Alternatives (Android + iOS)

The Apple AirPods are nice, but there's no dearth of alternatives that are cheaper -- and often better -- than the AirPods. Here are the top 5 alternatives!

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Reliance JioPhone is basically a free 4G phone

Mukesh Ambani-led RIL (Reliance Industries Ltd.) have announced the JioPhone, a 4G phone that's effectively free for everyone.

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Dell’s UltraSharp U3818DW Now Available: Curved 37.5”, 3840×1600, USB-C, $1499

Dell this week began shipments of its curved ultra-wide 3840×1600 UltraSharp U3818DW display. The monitor is the fourth screen of this size and with this resolution on the market, and one of a few displays with a USB Type-C input (via DP 1.2 alternate mode). Dell is positioning its U3818DW as a business-class monitor, so it gets market-typical features such as an antiglare coating, but notably it does not get support for AMD’s FreeSync (which is available on competing monitors).

The Dell UltraSharp U3818DW is based on a 37.5” 8-bit + FRC IPS panel featuring a 3840×1600 resolution, a 24:10 aspect ratio, 2300R curvature, and 1.07 billion colors. This panel has rather unique specifications and comes from LG Display. So far, three displays have used the panel for monitors aimed at consumers. For example, LG’s own 38UC99 and Acer’s XR382CQK come with FreeSync support and up to 75 Hz refresh rate (LG’s one only supports 75 Hz when FreeSync is used). Moreover, ASUS’s Designo Curve MX38VQ has integrated wireless Qi charging, whereas the LG 38UC99 has Bluetooth speakers (to playback music from smartphones or notebooks without using wires), two consumer-oriented features. By contrast, Dell seems to position its UltraSharp U3818DW in a similar way that it positions a number of its other curved displays: as a solution for business users looking to do a lot of multi-tasking.

Dell UltraSharp U3818DW
Panel 37.5" IPS
Resolution 3840 × 1600
Refresh Rate 60 Hz
Response Time 5 ms gray-to-gray
Brightness 350 cd/m²
Contrast 1000:1 (?)
Viewing Angles 178°/178° horizontal/vertical
Color Saturation 99% sRGB
78.1% DCI-P3
Pixel Pitch ~0.23 mm
Pixel Density 110 ppi
Anti-Glare Coating Yes
Inputs 1 × DisplayPort 1.2
2 × HDMI 2.0
1 × USB 3.0 Type-C
USB Hub 4 port USB 3.0 hub: four USB-A
Audio 9 W × 2
Launch Price $1499.99

In a bid to better appeal to the target audience, Dell has managed to increase maximum brightness of its U3818DW to 350 nits (from 300 nits on competing monitors), added an antiglare coating, and also added support for Dell's Command remote management capability. Each screen is sRGB-calibrated to Delta E < 2 accuracy, which is important for those who work with color-managed content. Meanwhile, the monitor also technically supports the DCI-P3 color gamut, but only covers 78.1% of it.

Dell’s formal positioning of the U3818DW does not really curtail its advantages for home users. Its resolution and the aspect ratio are well suited for displaying HD and UHD content filmed in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 or 2.40:1 (a lot of movies are shot in such aspect ratios) as well as for games. Meanwhile, the monitor is equipped with HDCP 2.2, so it can display protected UHD content transfered to it using one DP 1.2 or two HDMI 2.0 inputs.

37.5” Curved Displays with 3840×1600 Resolution
Model Acer
Inputs 1×DisplayPort 1.2
1×mDP 1.2
1×HDMI 2.0
1 × MHL 1.2
1 × USB-C (alt mode DP1.2)
1×DisplayPort 1.2
2×HDMI 2.0
1×DisplayPort 1.2
2×HDMI 2.0
1×USB-C (alt mode DP1.2)
1×DisplayPort 1.2
2×HDMI 2.0
Max. Refresh Rate 75 Hz unknown 60 Hz 60 Hz - 75 Hz with FS
Dynamic Refresh Rate FreeSync unknown no FreeSync
Audio 2×7W 2×8W Harman 2×9W 2×10W Bluetooth
USB Hub 4-port USB-A 3.0   4-port USB-A 3.0
(2 upstream ports)
3-port USB 3.0:
Special Features - Qi charging (5W/1A) Antiglare coating
sRGB at Delta E
Approximate Price $1300 $1100 $1500 $1700

Dell’s UltraSharp U3118DW is now available directly from Dell for $1500, which is a bit lower than the price of LG’s 38UC99, but higher compared to similar displays from Acer (available now) and ASUS (set to be available in Q3).

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Video: Ulefone Gemini Pro Gets A Teardown For Our Pleasure!

Beauty isn’t just on the outside, and Chinese phone makers are starting to realise this with the popularity of the teardown.

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O telemóvel do futuro é à prova de distracções

Conheça um telemóvel feito para ser ignorado.

Dual camera Galaxy J7 2017 model leaks again

It seems that this Samsung Galaxy J7 2017 model aimed for the Chinese region will be the first of the four upcoming dual-camera handsets from Samsung, according to recent information. We have heard rumors about the Korean company preparing its first four dual camera smartphones, scheduled to hit markets in the coming months. This new set

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Chuwi SurBook – Is it the best Microsoft Surface Pro Alternative?

Chuwi SurBook

The Chuwi SurBook is an affordable and powerful Microsoft Surface Pro alternative that is currently crushing it over at Indiegogo. Indeed their campaign has reached 2559% the goal they had set, that’s about $730,000 more than they needed! To make it even more appealing the company has just released its AnTuTu benchmark score, which has been said

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OnePlus 5 update rolling out with a fix for 911 reboot

After some really intense complains from users who complained during the past couple of days that their OnePlus 5 rebooted when one tried to dial 911, the Chinese company reached out and through an official statement mentioned that they solved the issue and a software update will be available soon for all those who have been

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MAINGEAR Launches R2 Razer Edition: Mini-ITX System with AMD Ryzen or Intel Core i7

MAINGEAR this week introduced the first small form-factor Razer Edition desktop aimed at loyal clients of Razer. The new MAINGEAR R2 Razer Edition uses AMD’s and Intel’s latest platforms and comes with a lot of green lights, green coolant, and other green features to reflect the company’s main color.

Razer has made quite a name for itself over the years in the gaming laptop market, but instead of entering the desktop business, the company decided to collaborate with renowned system builders to produce "Razer Edition" PCs. This enables Razer to offer Razer-branded desktops customers without entering a highly competitive market, whereas its partners gain access to Razer’s customer base. So far, Razer has collaborated with Lenovo and MAINGEAR for tower gaming desktops aiming mainstream and no-compromise gamers. With the MAINGEAR R2 Razer Edition, the two companies offer something for those who are looking for a miniature system featuring extreme components with further overclocking potential and liquid cooling.

The MAINGEAR R2 Razer Edition is a Mini-ITX desktop that can fit in a motherboard based on AMD’s B350 or Intel’s Z270 chipset as well as an AMD Ryzen R5/R7 or Intel Core i5/i7 CPU respectively. Keeping the form-factor in mind, the R2 Razer desktop can fit in one graphics card (up to NVIDIA’s Titan Xp), one 3.5” or two 2.5” storage devices, as well as one M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD. Unlike many contemporary gaming desktops, the MAINGEAR R2 can accommodate a 5.25” ODD, and when equipped with an appropriate drive, can playback Blu-ray disks.

When it comes to the motherboard choice, MAINGEAR offers ASRock AB350 Gaming-ITX/ac for use with AMD's Ryzen processors or ASUS ROG Strix Z270I Gaming or MSI Z270I Gaming Pro Carbon AC for Intel’s Core i7 CPUs. All of the motherboards feature GbE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, 7.1-channel audio, as well as USB 3.1 connectivity. MAINGEAR’s product brochure for the R2 also mentions ASRock’s X99 Mini-ITX motherboard, but at this point, it is impossible to order such a system, which is not surprising as this is an outgoing platform.

Cooling is crucially important for high performance gaming PCs and MAINGEAR offers many options for the R2 Razer Edition. For entry-level builds, MAINGEAR can install AMD’s or Intel’s retail CPU coolers and keep stock cooling systems on the GPU. For something more advanced, the company offers the closed loop EPIC 240 LCS for the CPU. For high-end configurations MAINGEAR can also build a custom open loop LCS for both the CPU and GPU featuring soft tubing and a 360 mm radiator, whereas for ultra-high-end builds the PC maker can design a custom LCS with crystal or metal hardline tubing, chrome fittings, and other stylish components.

MAINGEAR’s R2 Razer Edition desktops are now available from the company’s web site. Entry-level machines featuring AMD's Ryzen R5 or Intel's Core i5 start at $1099 and $1199, respectively. Meanwhile, SuperStock configurations featuring a customized LCS with hardline tubing and top-of-the-range CPUs and GPUs start at $4299 or $4399 depending on the platform.

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Homtom HT50 with 5500mAh Battery available for just $99.99 at Everbuying

Online retailer Everbuying have just launched a new promotion of Homtom’s latest battery-phone, the Homtom HT50. The handset that features a massive 5500mAh capacity battery will indeed be available for just $99.99, let’s learn more about it! The Homtom HT50 come with a big 5.5-inch HD display coated in 2.5D glass and is powered by a

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Nokia 2 appears for the first time next to its “brother”

It seems that the time has come for the affordable Nokia 2 to make its first unofficial appearance, as the purported device leaked through a rough drawing along with the Nokia 3 for comparison. According to the leakster (the image appeared on Weibo), the cheap smartphone will be equipped with a Snapdragon 212 SoC –

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Moto Z2 Force will come with a 2730 mAh battery?

According to recent rumors from Evan Blass at Venture Beat it seems that the upcoming Moto Z2 Force will be equipped with a Snapdragon 835 SoC paired with 6GB RAM (and 4GB RAM if you live in the US). The device will be packing 64/128GB of storage and a dual-12MP camera setup, a drastic change from the Moto Z

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Meizu Pro 7 leaks again in various color options

A new set of Meizu Pro 7 images leaked earlier, revealing all the available color options of the upcoming flagship model that we expect to see by the end of the month. In these images, the device boasts a very premium feeling – especially in this grey color variant you can see above. The second

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quinta-feira, 20 de julho de 2017

Oukitel K6000 Plus gets new Matte Black edition and software upgrade

Oukitel K6000 Plus

Oukitel K6000 Plus is the midrange go-to phone from Oukitel and it has been selling quite well in the past months. So far the chinese manufacturer released the grey and gold versions of the phone, but it’s time to follow the latest trends so the new matte black version should be entering the market already

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The design of the upcoming Bluboo S8 is no longer a secret

Bluboo S8

Following the launch of the Bluboo S1 tri-bezel-less model (which is currently on sale on Gearbest for $159.99) the chinese manufacturer announced the preparations for their second full-screen piece Bluboo S8. This phone should be coming with the 18:9 display aspect ratio and we have some first pictures for you revealing the planned design concept

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Video: NOMU Boils the S30 Mini In A Pan Of Water!

Of all the things that we suggest you do not try with your Android phone, boiling them in water has to be right up there!

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HOMTOM ZOJI Summer Sales Running Until 10th August

HOMTOM will be holding a special Summer Flash-sale for ZOJI smartphones on Geekbuying, Coolicool and e-Fox online platforms.

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ADATA Launches ISSS314 and IM2P3388 Industrial SSDs: 3D NAND, Extreme Temps

ADATA has introduced two new families of 3D NAND-based SSDs aimed at industrial applications. Dubbed the ISSS314 and the IM2P3388, these drives are designed to handle extreme temperatures as well as humidity levels, allowing them to work reliably in very tough environmental conditions. The more powerful IM2P3388 drives use a PCIe interface and offer high performance levels along with a powerful ECC engine and encryption, whereas the less speedy ISSS314 uses a SATA interface and offers very low power consumption that barely tops 2.5 W.

The IM2P3388: M.2, High Performance, Extreme Temps, Encryption, TCG Opal

The ADATA IM2P3388 is an M.2 drive that uses a NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4 interface and is based on 3D MLC NAND. This specific drive is designed to withstand ESD and EMI, up to 20 G vibration and 1500G/0.5ms shock, extreme temperatures from –40°C to +90°C, as well as high humidity (5%-95% RH, non-condensing). To put it into perspective: the IM2P3388 drives can operate in Antarctica or in the Lut Desert in Iran. In the real world, ADATA’s new SSDs will serve inside space-constrained industrial or commercial PCs, servers, military-grade systems, and embedded computers.

The IM2P3388 drives are based on a Silicon Motion controller that ADATA does not name, we suspect is the SM2260 with some additional customization. As for the NAND, the IM2P3388 SSDs use carefully selected 3D MLC that can handle high temperatures for prolonged amounts of time. The IM2P3388 takes advantage of all the capabilities of the controller and therefore supports AES-256 encryption, TCG Opal 2.0 spec, end-to-end data protection, and so on. In addition, the drive has multiple sensors that monitor its condition.

ADATA IM2P3388 SSD Specifications
Capacity 128 GB 256 GB 512 GB 1 TB
Model Number Commercial IM2P3388-128GB IM2P3388-256GB IM2P3388-512GB IM2P3388-001TB
Industrial IM2P3388-128GC IM2P3388-256GC IM2P3388-512GC IM2P3388-001TC
Controller Silicon Motion SM2260 (?)
Form-Factor, Interface M.2-2280, PCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.2
Operating Temperature Commercial -10°C to 80°C
Industrial -40°C to C to 90°C
Vibration Resistance 20G (10 - 2000 Hz)
Shock Resistance 1500G/0.5 ms half sine wave
Operating Humidity 5% - 95% RH non-condensing
Sequential Read ~1000 MB/s (?) ~2000 MB/s (?) 2500 MB/s
Sequential Write ~300 MB/s (?) ~600 MB/s (?) 1100 MB/s
Random Read IOPS unknown
Random Write IOPS unknown
Pseudo-SLC Caching Supported
DRAM Buffer Yes, capacity unknown
TCG Opal Encryption Yes
Power Consumption Up to 4.8W
Power Management DevSleep, Slumber
Warranty unknown
MTBF >2,000,000 hours

As for performance, ADATA specifies the drive to offer up to 2.5 GB/s sequential read speeds and up to 1.1 GB/s sequential write speeds (when pSLC caching is used), but does not specify random performance. ADATA’s IM2P3388 will be available in 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB configurations. Keeping in mind the high density of modern flash chips, expect the entry-level models to be slower than their higher-capacity counterparts. In general, expect performance  of the IM2P3388 to be comparable to the XPG SX8000 drives featuring the SM2260 and 3D MLC.

The ISSS314: 2.5”, Extreme Temps, Low Power, Starting at 32 GB

The ADATA ISSS314 SSDs come in a traditional 2.5”/7 mm drive form-factor and use a SATA 6 Gbps interface. In order to satisfy the diverse needs of customers, ADATA will offer the ISSS314 in 32 GB, 64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB configurations. The higher-end models will provide up to 560 MB/s sequential read and up to 520 MB/s sequential write speeds, whereas the entry-level drives will be considerably slower. As for power consumption, the new SSDs are rated to only use up to 2.5 W, which puts them into the energy efficient category.

The ISSS314 SSDs are based on an unknown controller as well as 3D MLC and 3D TLC NAND memory sorted using ADATA’s proprietary A+ testing methodology to find the higher quality chips. The industrial ISSS314 drives based on 3D MLC memory are rated to withstand shock, EMI, and extreme temperatures from –40°C to +85°C, and thus are aimed at industrial applications. By contrast, commercial 3D MLC ISSS314 SSDs are rated for –10°C to +80°C operation. Meanwhile, the 3D TLC-powered ISSS314 is guaranteed to work in a temperature range from 0°C to +70°C, but can also withstand shocks, ESD, EMI, and so on. As for features, all the ISS314 SSDs have S.M.A.R.T, a temperature sensor, hardware power detection, and flash protection.

ADATA ISSS314 Specifications
Capacity 32 GB 64 GB 128 GB 256 GB 512 GB
Model Number MLC Commercial ISSS314-032GB ISSS314-064GB ISSS314-128GB ISSS314-256GB ISSS314-512GB
Industrial ISSS314-032GC ISSS314-064GC ISSS314-128GC ISSS314-256GC ISSS314-512GC
TLC Commercial - ISSS314-128GD ISSS314-256GD ISSS314-512GD
Controller Silicon Motion SM2258 (?)
Form-Factor/Interface 2.5"/7 mm/SATA
NAND MLC Commercial 3D MLC
Industrial 3D MLC
TLC Commercial - 3D TLC
Operating Temp. MLC Commercial -10°C to 80°C
Industrial -40°C to C to 85°C
TLC Commercial 0°C to 70°C
Vibration Resistance 20G (10 - 2000 Hz)
Shock Resistance 1500G/0.5 ms half sine wave
Operating Humidity 5% - 95% RH non-condensing
Sequential Read unknown 560 MB/s
Sequential Write unknown 520 MB/s
Random Read IOPS Up to 90K IOPS (taken from SM2258, actual will be lower)
Random Write IOPS Up to 80K IOPS (taken from SM2258, actual will be lower)
Pseudo-SLC Caching Supported
DRAM Buffer Yes, capacity unknown
TCG Opal Encryption No
Power Consumption Up to 2.5W
Power Management DevSleep
Warranty unknown
MTBF 2,000,000 hours

ADATA does not publish recommended prices for its industrial and commercial SSDs. Since such products rarely show up in mainstream retail, their actual prices for customers typically fluctuate depending on the order size and other factors.

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Alphacool Releases Two New SSD Coolers: Passive HDX-2 and Watercooled HDX-3

This week Alphacool announced the availability of their new M.2 SSD Coolers, the HDX-2 and HDX-3. Some may recall the original HDX M.2 cooler was a simple, passive, clip on heatsink for M.2 SSDs, and was designed to help prevent thermal throttling which has a tendency to plague synthetic test results on some M.2 based drives. With the advent of the HDX-2 and HDX-3, they have moved beyond the simple clip cooler and to using a PCIe x4 card. This design change allowed a full sized heatsink to be mounted on it giving more surface area to cool the attached M.2 device. The HDX-3 takes the HDX-2 and its passive setup a step further and uses a waterblock instead of the large heatsink to remove the heat created from these SSDs.


The dimensions both the of HDX-2 come in at 100 x 81.5 x 20 mm with the HDX-3 being slightly taller at 120 mm while sharing the same width and height. According to Alphacool, the included 4x PCIe card allows a maximum bandwidth of around 3900 MB/s. Existing M.2 drives on the market will not be able to saturate it. Though it is double sided, both M.2 coolers hold one M.2 based device. Contact from the M.2 device to the heatsink is provided by included thermal pads. These thermals pads cover both single and double sided M.2 drives. The HDX-2 and HDX-3 both support up to one 80mm M.2 SSD. Both devices connect to the PCIe slot and mount to the case for a stable platform. 

Alphacool HDX-2 and HDX-3 M.2 SSD Coolers
Technical Data HDX-2 HDX-3
Dimensions (LxWxH) 100 x 81.5 x 20 mm 120 x 81.5 x 20 mm
Material Aluminum Copper, Acetal
Threads N/A 2x G 1/14"
PCIe Form Factor PCIe 3.0 x4
Compatibility M.2 2280 PCIe SSDs
Max. Bandwidth PCIe Card 3938 MB/s

The HDX-2 uses large aluminum heatsinks on both sides of the included PCIe card easily covering the M.2 drive it aims to cool. The heatsinks are black with αCOOL and HDX-2 stenciled on it in white as well as having cooling fins to increase cooling area - the heatsinks cover the entire PCB of the PCIe card. The drive is mounted to the PCB, thermal pads applied to the drive, then mount the heatsink to the board. 

The HDX-3 block is made of nickel-plated copper with the top made from a single piece of acetal. The block mounts to one side of the PCIe card leaving the other side open. Alphacool says water flows over the entire SSD to help keep things cool. The water enters and exits the block at the opposite end to the PCIe connector using standard G ¼” a threads. 

Pricing and availability were not listed in the press release. 

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Mystery Nubia device hits Geekbench, could be Z17 mini?

An unknown Nubia smartphone appeared earlier on Geekbench, bearing model number NX591J and things seem interesting I guess. According to rumors this could be an affordable variant of the Nubia Z17 flagship model, that should appear as Z17 mini or Z17 lite (whatever suits you better). According to the Geekbench listing, the device runs on Android

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LG Q8 officially announced, looks like -a smaller- LG V20

A smaller LG V20 was unveiled earlier today by the Korean manufacturer, that goes under model number LG Q8. The new device looks a lot like last year’s flagship model up to its second display and dual rear camera, but it comes with a smaller 5.2 inch QHD display with a Quantum IPS panel –

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ASUS Introduces ROG Crosshair VI Extreme AM4 Motherboard for Ryzen

Most enthusiasts are familiar with ASUS’ Republic of Gamers (ROG) sub-brand bringing users what they state is an innovative lineup of products, promoted for performance and quality with gaming in mind. The ROG lineup has motherboards, graphic cards, laptops, desktops, monitors, even audio equipment, routers, and other peripherals. Today ASUS has announced in the US an addition to the AMD ROG family, the Crosshair VI Extreme Motherboard (C6E). The C6E is made on the AM4 platform using the flagship X370 chipset. According to ASUS, “...the ROG Crosshair VI Extreme is designed for gamers and power users looking to maximize AMD Ryzen performance”.

ASUS mentions ROG engineers worked on the board’s intelligent auto-tuner to improve one-click overclocking. For those new to overclocking, this means less hassle than manually tweaking multiple parameters to find a balance between a high overclock and having a stable system. Just click once, and the board should find a stable overclock. If one-click overclocking isn’t in the cards, and pushing the limits is the goal, the 12-phase VRM and plethora of overclocking features (dual bios, slow mode, LN2 mode, and voltage read points, to name a few) are also present.

Cooling an overclocked PC is an important factor as to how far one can safely push their machine. ASUS has partnered with Bitspower to produce a monoblock custom made for the Extreme (sold separately). The C6E uses a header on the board to monitor the Bitspower monoblock temperatures, flow rates, and also includes leak detection circuits. The board has other onboard connectors for keeping tabs on liquid temperatures and water flow at other points in the loop for users with their own thermistors. This data is managed by the FanXpert 4 software allowing consumers the ability to finely tune their cooling setup for performance, or silence as needed, across a total of 13 fan headers.

The Crosshair VI Extreme has the two full-length PCIe slots from the CPU using the ASUS Safeslot, which reinforces the PCIe bracket with a metal bracing for rigidity protection. With a nod to cooling, the dual full-length PCIe slots are spaced 3-slots apart giving two-slot coolers breathing room than with slots closer together. There is a third full-length slot on the board supporting a PCIe 3.0 x4 connection via the chipset which buyers can use for three-way CrossfireX using dual-slot video cards.

Looking at connectivity, the C6E has two USB 3.1 Gen2 (10 Gbps) ports on the rear, one Type-C and one Type-A, both from the chipset. It also has integrated Intel I211-AT gigabit Ethernet and an Intel AC 8265 as the 802.11ac module using a 2x2 antenna for Wi-Fi duties, as well as Bluetooth 4.1. There are a total of two M.2 ports - one uses the PCH/M.2 heatsink, and another which does not. For SATA, we see a total of eight ports. The back I/O plate is integrated and gives the board a clean look without having to install the I/O plate. 

The C6E is using their latest SupremeFX banding, with an S1220 codec (based off the Realtek ALC1220) onboard audio. The actual IC is covered and protected from electromagnetic interference by the extended IO cover. The system contains an ESS Sabre DAC and “the usual assortment of engineering tweaks to improve the output and recording quality”, according to ASUS.

ASUS chose to use a monochromatic palette with a base color of black for the PCB with some stenciled in gray patterns, black and gray on the four DIMM slots, while the VRM cooling is mostly gray with some black highlights on it. The C6E will use its onboard LEDs (found on the I/O shroud, PCH, PCIe retention clips, and the right side of the board) and AURA Sync software to control the LEDs. If that isn’t enough, there is a header for addressable light strips allowing users to control each individual LED on the strip for even more lighting options. There are also two other onboard headers for standard LED strips. Another design feature aimed at aesthetics and overclockers is the right-angled 24-Pin ATX power connector. This change from vertical to lay flat against the board is said to allow for better cable routing in cases that have sufficient horizontal space. 

The flagship ROG Crosshair VI Extreme can be found on store shelves starting in early August with an MSRP of $349.

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Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 render leaks, looks awesome with full display

It’s one of these articles that could be described as hit or miss. The image comes from the Twitter account of Arun Maini and presumably shows a true render of the most awaited Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 flagship model, scheduled to be unveiled in the coming months. Obviously there’s a ton of renders strolling around

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Elephone P8 and P8 mini getting ready for shipping

Elephone P8

Elephone have come out with an official statement where they finally confirm the Elephone P8 and P8 mini are hitting the store shelves by the end of the week. More specifically the Elephone P8 mini (of which you can check out our review here) is getting off the production line and and being delivered to

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Intel Launches Movidius Neural Compute Stick: Deep Learning and AI on a $79 USB Stick

Today Intel subsidiary Movidius is launching their Neural Compute Stick (NCS), a version of which was showcased earlier this year at CES 2017. The Movidius NCS adds to Intel’s deep learning and AI development portfolio, building off of Movidius’ April 2016 launch of the Fathom NCS and Intel’s later acquisition of Movidius itself in September 2016. As Intel states, the Movidius NCS is “the world’s first self-contained AI accelerator in a USB format,” and is designed to allow host devices to process deep neural networks natively – or in other words, at the edge. In turn, this provides developers and researchers with a low power and low cost method to develop and optimize various offline AI applications.

Movidius's NCS is powered by their Myriad 2 vision processing unit (VPU), and, according to the company, can reach over 100 GFLOPs of performance within an nominal 1W of power consumption. Under the hood, the Movidius NCS works by translating a standard, trained Caffe-based convolutional neural network (CNN) into an embedded neural network that then runs on the VPU. In production workloads, the NCS can be used as a discrete accelerator for speeding up or offloading neural network tasks. Otherwise for development workloads, the company offers several developer-centric features, including layer-by-layer neural networks metrics to allow developers to analyze and optimize performance and power, and validation scripts to allow developers to compare the output of the NCS against the original PC model in order to ensure the accuracy of the NCS's model.

The 2017 Movidius NCS vs. 2016 Fathom NCS

According to Gary Brown, VP of Marketing at Movidius, this ‘Acceleration mode’ is one of several features that differentiate the Movidius NCS from the Fathom NCS. The Movidius NCS also comes with a new "Multi-Stick mode" that allows multiple sticks in one host to work in conjunction in offloading work from the CPU. For multiple stick configurations, Movidius claims that they have confirmed linear performance increases up to 4 sticks in lab tests, and are currently validating 6 and 8 stick configurations. Importantly, the company believes that there is no theoretical maximum, and they expect that they can achieve similar linear behavior for more devices. Though ultimately scalability will depend at least somewhat with the neural network itself, and developers trying to use the feature will want to play around with it to determine how well they can reasonably scale.

Meanwhile, the on-chip memory has increased from 1 GB on the Fathom NCS to 4 GB LPDDR3 on the Movidius NCS, in order to facilitate larger and denser neural networks. And to cap it all off, Movidius has been able to reduce the MSRP to $79 – citing Intel’s "manufacturing and design expertise” – lowering the cost of entry even more.

Like other players in the edge inference market, Movidius is looking to promote and capitalize on the need for low-power but capable inference processors for stand-alone devices. That means targeting use cases where the latency of going to a server would be too great, a high-performance CPU too power hungry, or where privacy is a greater concern. In which case, the NCS and the underlying Myriad 2 VPU are Intel's primary products for device manufacturers and software developers.

Movidius Neural Compute Stick Products
  Movidius Neural Compute Stick Fathom Neural Compute Stick
Interface USB 3.0 Type A USB 3
On-chip Memory 4Gb LPDDR3 1Gb/512Mb LPDDR3
Deep Learning Framework Support Caffe Caffe
Native Precision Support FP16 FP16, 8bit
Features Acceleration mode
Multi-Stick mode
Nominal Power Envelope 1W 1W
SoC Myriad 2 VPU Myriad 2 VPU (MA2450)
Launch Date 7/20/2017 4/28/2016
MSRP $79 $99

As for the older Fathom NCS, the company notes that the Fathom NCS was only ever released in a private beta (which was free of charge). So the Movidius NCS is the de facto production version. For customers who did grab a Fathom NCS, Movidius says that Fathom developers will be able to retain their current hardware and software builds, but the company will be encouraging developers to switch over to the production-ready Movidius NCS.

Stepping back, it’s clear that the Movidius NCS offers stronger and more versatile features beyond the functions described in the original Fathom announcement. As it stands, the Movidius NCS offers native FP16 precision, with over 10 inferences per second at FP16 precision on GoogleNet in single-inference mode, putting it in the same range as the 15 nominal inferences per second of the Fathom. While the Fathom NCS was backwards compatible with USB 1.1 and USB 2, it was noted that the decreased bandwidth reduced performance; presumably, this applies for the Movidius NCS as well.

SoC-wise, while the older Fathom NCS had a Myriad 2 MA2450 variant, a specific Myriad 2 model was not described for the Movidius NCS. A pre-acquisition 2016 VPU product brief outlines 4 Myriad 2 family SoCs to be built on a 28nm HPC process, with the MA2450 supporting 4Gb LPDDR3 while the MA2455 supports 4Gb LPDDR3 and secure boot. Intel’s own Myriad 2 VPU Fact Sheet confirms the 28nm HPC process, implying that the VPU remains fabbed with TSMC. Given that the 2014 Myriad 2 platform specified a TSMC 28nm HPM process, as well as a smaller 5mm x 5mm package configuration, it’s possible that a different, more refined 28nm VPU powers the Movidius NCS. In any case, it was mentioned that the 1W power envelope applies to the Myriad 2 VPU, and that in certain complex cases, the NCS may operate within a 2.5W power envelope.

Ecosystem Transition: From Google’s Project Tango to Movidius, an Intel Company

Close followers of Movidius and the Myriad SoC family may recall Movidius’ previous close ties with Google, having announced a partnership with Myriad 1 in 2014, culminating in the Myriad 1’s appearance in Project Tango. Further agreements in January 2016 saw Google sourcing Myriad processors and Movidius’ entire software development environment in return for Google contributions to Movidius’ neural network technology roadmap. In the same vein, the original Fathom NCS also supported Google’s TensorFlow, in contrast to the Movidius NCS, which is only launching with Caffe support.

As an Intel subsidiary, Movidius has unsurprisingly shifted into Intel’s greater deep learning and AI ecosystem. On that matter, Intel’s acquisition announcement explicitly linked Movidius with Intel RealSense (which also found its way into Project Tango) and computer vision endeavors; though explicit Movidius integration with RealSense is yet to be seen – or if in the works, made public. In the official Movidius NCS news brief, Intel does describe Movidius fitting into Intel’s portfolio as an inference device, while training and optimizing neural networks falls to the Nervana cloud and Intel's new Xeon Scalable processors respectively. To be clear, this doesn’t preclude Movidius NCS compatibility with other devices, and to that effect Mr. Brown commented: “If the network has been described in Caffe with the supported layer types, then we expect compatibility, but we also want to make clear that NCS is agnostic to how and where the network was trained.”

On a more concrete note, Movidius has a working demonstration of a Xeon/Nervana/Caffe/NCS workflow, where an end-to-end workflow of a Xeon-based training scheme generates a Caffe network optimized by Nervana’s Intel Caffe format, which is then deployed via NCS. Movidius plans to debut this demo at Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) conference in Honolulu, Hawaii later this week. In general, Movidius and Intel promise to have plenty to talk about in the future, where Mr. Brown comments: “We will have more to share about technical integrations later on, but we are actively pursuing the best end-to-end experience for training through to deployment of deep neural networks.”

Upcoming News and NCS Demos at CVPR

Alongside the Xeon/Caffe/Nervana/NCS workflow demo, Movidius has a slew of other things to showcase at CVPR 2017. Interestingly, Intel has described their presentations and demos as two separate Movidius and RealSense affairs, implying that the aforementioned Movidius/RealSense unification is still in the works.

For Movidius, Intel describes three demonstrations: “SDK Tools in Action,” “Multi-Stick Neural Network Scaling,” and “Multi-Stage Multi-Task Convolutional Neural Network (MTCNN).” The first revolves around the Movidius Neural Compute SDK and the platform API. The multi-stick demo showcases 4 Movidius NCS’ in accelerating object recognition. Finally, the third demo showcases Movidius NCS support for MTCNN, “a complex multi-stage neural network for facial recognition.” Meanwhile, Intel is introducing the RealSense D400 series, a depth-sensing camera family

The multi-stick demo is presumably what the company mentioned as a multi-stick demo that has been validated on three different host platforms: desktop CPU, laptop CPU, and a low-end SoC. The company also has a separate acceleration demo, where the Movidius NCS accelerates a Euclid developer module and offloads the CPUs, “freeing up the CPU for other tasks such as route planning or running application-level tasks.” The result is around double the framerate and a two-thirds power reduction.

All-in-all, Intel sees and outright states that they consider the Movidius NCS to be a means towards democratizing deep learning application development. As recent as this week, we’ve seen a similar approach as Intel’s recent 15.46 integrated graphics driver brought support for CV and AI workload acceleration on Intel integrated GPUs, tying in with Intel’s open source Compute Library for Deep Neural Networks (clDNN) and associated Computer Vision SDK and Deep Learning Deployment Toolkits. On a wider scale, Intel has already publicly positioned itself for deep learning in edge devices by way of their ubiquitous iGPUs, and Intel’s ambitions are highlighted by its recent history of machine learning and autonomous automotive oriented acquisitions: MobilEye, Movidius, Nervana, Yogitech, and Saffron.

As Intel pushes forward with machine learning development by way of edge devices, it will be very interesting to see how their burgeoning ecosystem coalesces. Like the original Fathom, the Movidius NCS is aimed at lowering the barriers to entry, and as the Fathom launch video supposes, a future where drones, surveillance cameras, robots, and any device can be made smart by “adding a visual cortex” that is the NCS.

With that said, however, technology is only half the challenge for Intel. Neural network inference at the edge is a popular subject for a number of tech companies, all of whom are jockeying for the lead position in what they consider a rapidly growing market. So while Intel has a strong hand with their technology, success here will mean that they need to be able to break into this new market in a convincing way, which is something they've struggled with in past SoC/mobile efforts. The fact that they already have a product stack via acquisitions may very well be the key factor here, since being late to the market has frequently been Intel's Achilles' heel in the past.

Wrapping things up, the Movidius NCS is now available for purchase for a MSRP of $79 through select distributors, as well as at CVPR.

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