ITProPortal Weekend Roundup 12-05-12

Intel Inside

After last week's Samsung Galaxy S III launch, it was clear that this week would be a bit quiet by comparison. That's not to say that tumbleweed has been blowing through tech town, just that it was business as usual, as opposed to the hyped up frenzy of last week.

Of course business as usual still means there was some interesting movement in the tech arena. Carrying on the mobile phone theme, Orange launched a registration page for the forthcoming Santa Clara handset. Although the Santa Clara in itself isn't that exciting - it's basically a mid-range, Android handset - what makes it particularly interesting, is that it will be the first smartphone to launch in the UK with Intel inside.

The Santa Clara will see the debut of Intel's Medfield platform, with the phone boasting a 32nm 1.6GHz Z2460 Atom CPU. What's interesting is that despite all the hype we're seeing about quad-core CPUs in phones, the Atom inside the Santa Clara will be a single core chip. That said, it will utilise Intel's Hyper Threading technology, so it can still execute two threads.

Considering how long Intel has dominated the server, desktop and laptop markets, it's slightly surprising that it has taken the company so long to offer a smartphone platform. It's not going to be an easy road to travel though, with ARM pretty much ruling the space, and it's unlikely that the Santa Clara will be the showcase handset that Intel needs.

Despite being late to the game, though, you can be sure that Intel will push hard into the phone and tablet market over the next couple of years, and considering the company's resources, we can probably expect many more handsets with Intel inside to follow the Santa Clara.

Nano Technology

This week also saw us take one step closer to a ratified design for the nano-SIM. Over recent months, Apple and Nokia have been duking it out with competing designs for the forthcoming 4FF SIM.

Apple has now modified its design to conform with certain guidelines - primarily that it will be backwards compatible with micro-SIM and mini-SIM slots, when used with an adapter. The modified design is also slightly larger, making it far more difficult for consumers to mis-orient the SIM and get it stuck inside a handset.

Assuming the new design is ratified later this month, we could see phones using 4FF nano-SIMs by next year. That said, the big question is whether we need an even smaller SIM in the first place.

Considering that we're being presented with ever larger smartphones as each month passes, it's difficult to comprehend why an even smaller SIM is required. Can a phone with a 5in screen really not accommodate a micro-SIM? It's funny to think that we were using handsets with smaller footprints back in the days when a SIM was the size of a credit card!

Less is More

Less than two months ago Nvidia raised the bar on PC graphics with the launch of the GeForce GTX 680. Not only was the GTX 680 the fastest graphics card ever seen, it was also incredibly power efficient, making it a very attractive proposition for any hardcore PC gamers.

More recently, Nvidia announced the GTX 690, which is basically a dual-GPU version of the 680, which is ludicrously powerful and consequently, ludicrously expensive - not to mention far less power efficient.

This week, though, Nvidia announced what is arguably the best incarnation of its Kepler chip yet - the GeForce GTX 670. As its name suggests, the 670 sits a rung down from the 680, but that doesn't mean it can't push those polygons around at a blistering pace.

In fact, it looks like the GTX 670 is only marginally slower than its big brother, while carrying a price tag that's around £100 less scary. Just days after launch, you can pick up GeForce GTX 670 cards for around £329, which will no doubt put Kepler into a great many new gaming rigs over the coming weeks and months.

The timing of the GTX 670 couldn't be better either, with Diablo III launching in a couple of days, what better reason could there be for a graphics card upgrade?

Apple's Chinese Problems

Apple hasn't been having a good time in China of late. The company is still locked in a trademark dispute over the iPad name, with Chinese company Proview. Proview owns the iPad trademark in China and filed a lawsuit against apple for using the name, demanding $2 billion.

Although the initial petition was rejected by the US courts, Proview is continuing to pursue its claim through the domestic courts. This week saw Apple offer Proview $16 million for the right to the iPad name in China, but the offer was rejected.

It would appear that Proview is looking for significantly more cash, since the company is in dire financial straits, and is hoping that a big pay out for Apple could keep its creditors at bay.

It now remains to be seen whether Apple will make an improved offer, or simply sit and wait for Proview's debts to catch up with it. That said, even if Proview does go under, Apple still won't have the right to market a product called iPad in China, since one of Proview's creditors will most likely inherit the copyright.

This week also saw an announcement from Apple and Foxconn, stating that the two companies would jointly bear the costs for improving working conditions at Foxconn's factories.

We've seen many reports over recent months highlighting the poor working conditions for the staff tasked to manufacture iPhones. This clearly isn't something that Apple wants to be associated with, and the company appears to be taking steps to cleanse its image.

With Foxconn employing over 250,000 people in China alone, this news will have a huge positive impact on Chinese workers and their families. There's no news on how much investment will be forthcoming from Apple and Foxconn, but we're pretty sure they can afford it.