Apple’s Special Event and Where O Where is my Mac Home Server?

Apple Insider has a story up about rumors circulating around Apple’s Special Event next week (on September 1, 2010). Apple has sent out invitations to the media for an event in San Francisco at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, starting at 10 am Pacific Time. The invitation has a guitar with an Apple logo cut into it, and you can see it here at AI.

Speculation is that there will be a redesigned Apple TV at a $99 price, and that the focus will be on selling or renting video content to be streamed throught to HDTVs. It’ll possibly have its own apps available through the App Store, allowing for other features that typical DVRs/receivers aren’t capable of, including more mainstream games. Obviously it wouldn’t replace a regular console such as a Sonyt Playstation 3 or Nintendo Wii, however for some the iPhone has replaced handhelds such as the Sony PSP and Nintendo’s DS line, and Apple has refused to support Blu-ray viewing on Macs, something that is a major selling point of the Playstation 3. Apple’s view is that they want content, HD or not, to be purchased through their store or added through iTunes and then consumed on everything from an iMac down to an iPad or iPhone.

I would agree that it will probably be based on Apple’s iOS that powers iPhones and iPads. That makes a lot of sense. A new Apple TV has been described as the “tail end” of Apple’s video strategy, and this doesn’t necessarily make sense in Apple’s overall strategy as far as consumers and home products.

I’ve been asking for some kind of Apple home server since at least January of last year. The reason is that a lot of people who buy Apple products are reaching a critical mass with their devices and computers. I can easily see scenarios where you have some kind of Mac portable (MacBook or MacBook Pro), and an iMac or Mac mini, plus an iPhone or two along with an iPod, and now even an iPad. You are looking at a lot of content that is being consumed (through iTunes Music Store) and a lot of content that is being generated – photos and videos from digital cameras, video cameras (think Flip cameras at Amazon for cheap). Cameras are taking larger resolution photos and even the iPhone 4 is generating HD video content. Both of those start taking up a lot of space.
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Netbook Revolution Over?

With Intel’s Intel’s announcement of the Atom N550 announcement yesterday, which marked a concentrated effort to bring dual-core netbook-level processors into the mainstream, Avram Piltch over at LAPTOP Magazine is declaring the netbook revolution over and asking what we’ve won.

Obviously it’s a commentary, but it brings up some good points. We’ve now reached a point where netbooks are matching the performance of 11-inch and 12-inch dual-core ultraportables from just a year or two ago, and they are doing it at a substantially cheaper price point. In some cases, they are doing a better job of it than the traditional ultraportables, since they are getting better battery life, and better weight thanks to dropping internal optical drives and better cooling systems.

Piltch thinks that they’ve succeeded so well that they have become irrelevant, and that overall it’s been a huge success – better performing, higher resolution displays, much cheaper prices.

For all intents and purposes they have reached the point where it’s hard to distinguish many of them from an ultraportable of years past. I think when we saw the first dual-core setups, along with the first displays larger than 10 inches, that it was clear that the market was shifting around. The move towards Windows 7 away from Linux and XP Home really drove that point home. However, some predicted that 10-inch displays would go away and that netbooks would resemble the higher-priced ultraportables, and that’s turned out to be partially false – 10-inch netbooks are still going strong.

I think netbooks still have a lot of life left in them and the revolution as it were maybe waning, but it’s going to be around for a while, simply because of price. While a luxury or high-end netbook may resemble an ultraportable of a few years ago as far as price and performance, there is still going to be a very large market for sub-$500 machines that function as secondary machines or “on the go” machines, perhaps for students (which gets back to the netbook’s roots).

If you want to watch where netbooks are going, it’s not going to be the ultraportable laptops that determine their fate. It’s going to be the Apple iPads and the Android-based tablets. A full tablet is not going to replace a laptop or netbook however – there are still a lot of people that are going to need keyboards and multiple ports and a full desktop/laptop OS, and neither the iPad or Android-based tablet are going to offer that. Those tablets can certainly fill in a niche that the netbooks were able to cover, but they can’t replace them in a lot of cases.

Read: LAPTOP Magazine

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Asustek Lamborghini Eee PC VX6, Acer Ferrari Within Months?

Digitimes has word of a couple of high-end or “luxurious” netbooks from Asustek and Acer that might be launching sometime in the fourth quarter. One of details mentioned about the Asustek netbook is a dual-core Intel Atom. That could be the Atom N550 that Intel announced earlier today. It would be fitting since that is the latest and greatest Atom CPU that would be available in that time frame.

On tap for Asustek:
- Asustek Lamboghini Eee PC VX6 (ASUS)
- 12.1-inch display
- $699 USD
- Intel Atom dual-core (probably Atom N550)
- NVIDIA Ion 2 graphics
- Available in September or October

The other netbook that was mentioned, the Acer Ferrari-branded netbook, was listed as having an AMD Fusion processor. That might very well tie into AMD demonstrating Fusion next month.

Acer’s upcoming netbook:
- Acer Ferrari
- 11.6-inch display
- AMD Fusion (Ontario)
- Available in 4Q 2010

The article mentions that Acer has also announced another device in the Ferrari lineup, the Liquid E Ferrari which is a Google Android-based smartphone.

Read: DigiTimes

Posted in Acer, AMD, AMD Fusion, ASUS, Intel Atom, Netbook, Rumors | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

AMD Fusion to be Demonstrated Next Month?

Fudzilla is reporting that AMD will be demonstrating It’s AMD Fusion technology early next month, at the IFA consumer electronics tradeshow in Berlin. IFA Berlin 2010 will take place from September 3rd – September 8th.

Fusion is a response to Intel’s work to integrate CPUs and graphics processors onto one chip, the “System-on-Chip” that has been talked about. AMD refers to it as “APU” which stands for “Accelerated Processing Unit” and they could be nearing production.

AMD Fusion information:
- 40nm, 64-bit, Virtualization support, SSE3 support
- AMD and ATI architecture – CPU + GPU
- Expected sometime in 2011, maybe in production late 2010.
- Maybe code-named Ontario
- Not just for netbooks – also tablets, other devices
- Dual-Core
- May have integrated DirectX 11 support
- DDR3 Memory

Fudzilla also reports that AMD will be showing HD netbooks with “AMD Vision” which is, in my view, a fancy way of AMD laying out the market segments based on what you plan on doing with them. You can read more about AMD Vision at AMD.com.

Read: Fudzilla

More information:
- AMD’s Future is Fusion website
- AMD’s Fusion website
- AMD’s Fusion blog

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Dual-Core Intel Atom N550 Available in Netbooks today

Intel has formally announced that as of today, a dozen new netbooks are available on the new dual-core Intel Atom N550 processors.

Intel Atom N550 “Pineview” Details:
- 64-bit, 45nm, with SSE3 and XD bit
- Dual-core, Hyper-Threading
- 1.5 GHz
- Built-in GPU is 200MHz, Maybe the Intel GMA 3150 or equivalent
- 2x 512 KB L2 Cache
- DDR2 800 MHz or DDR3 800 MHz memory
- 0.8 – 1.175 volts
- 8.5 W TDP (Thermal Design Power)

N550-based netbooks are shipping from these eight manufacturers plus others:
- Acer
- ASUS
- Fujitsu
- Lenovo
- LG
- Samsung
- MSI
- Toshiba

Part of the press release:

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Aug. 23, 2010 – Intel Corporation announced today that a dozen of new netbooks based on its new mobile dual-core Intel® Atom™ processors are available in stores today. The netbooks – available now and through the end of the year from manufacturers including Acer, ASUS, Fujitsu, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, MSI, and Toshiba – enable new levels of support for applications like games, as well as Adobe Flash* technology for access to a number of Web pages including online hotel booking systems and multimedia sites such as YouTube* and Hulu*.

“Acer strives to continually improve on our customers’ total mobile experience, whether it is increased responsiveness or extended Internet interactivity through longer battery life,” said David Lee, associate vice president of Acer’s Mobile Computing Business Unit. “We are pleased to select dual-core Intel Atom processors for Acer netbooks, helping to empower netbook users achieve even more – both at work and at leisure.”

With the dual-core Intel® Atom™ processor N550, consumers can enjoy Internet access on the go with a more responsive experience in the same compact form factor, DDR3 memory support and similar great battery life as the single-core Intel® Atom™ processor N450.

The press release goes on to mention that they’ve shipped around 70 million Intel Atom CPUs for netboks since the launch back in 2008, and that the N550-based netbooks are available today. I’ll have a rundown of the available models later tomorrow.

Full Press Release: Newsroom.Intel.com

Posted in Announcements, Intel, Intel Atom, Netbook | Tagged , , | 1 Comment