Weekly Hardware Roundup: 5-17-2013


This article is the first in what I intend to be a regular Friday feature on this blog: a weekly hardware roundup, focusing on hardware for desktop and laptop computers.

Raspberry Pi Camera Module Available

Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi in all its glory.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced the launch of its first official accessory for the single-board computer: a five megapixel camera board.

The Raspberry Pi, a fully-functional computer on a circuit board which has a price tag of about $50, has sold over a million units. While third-party add-on boards have been available, the Foundation concentrated on making Raspberry Pis, until now.

This week, the Foundation announced the release of the official Raspberry Pi Camera Board. Designed to plug into the Pi’s Camera Serial Interface (CSI) port, the module is just 25mm by 25mm and 9mm tall and packs a 5-megapixel sensor and a surprisingly powerful imaging engine (previously found on Nokia’s N8 smartphone).

The camera module’s release will likely be followed with at least one other official accessory: the Foundation will likely develop a small form factor display which will use the Display Serial Interface (DSI) capabilities of the computer.

More information on the Raspberry Pi camera board

AMD Unveils 8970M

AMD has unveiled the latest addition to its laptop graphics series. The new range currently consists of only one card: the top of the line HD 8970M, which has an impressive 1280 stream processors, double that of the 8800M. It uses AMD’s GCN architecture and features full DirectX 11.1 support.

Due to its power output, the 8970M will probably only be found on very bulky laptops, such as the MSI GX70, a 17-inch model with a full 17-inch HD screen and a quad-core AMD A10 APU.

Here are the full specs for the 8970 GPU:

Stream Processors: 1280
Engine Clock: 850 Mhz
Memory Clock: 1200 Mhz
Single Precision Compute Power: 2304 GFLOPS
Double Precision compute Power: 144 GFLOPS
Direct X Version: 11.1
Architecture: GCN

PDF with a feature summary of the Radeon HD 8970

Asus Announces Z87 Line of Motherboards

Asus has announced its Z87 motherboards for Intel’s new Haswell CPUs. This motherboard will be of interest to most readers of this blog, as the CPU fan header on all Z87 motherboards adds a MOSFET between the power supply unit (PSU) and CPU fan. As a result, Asus’ software fan control suites are now able to vary the speed of 3-pin fans and 4-pin pulse-width modulated (PWM) fans. A simple latch built-in to the header detects when a 3-pin or 4-pin fan is connected. This has the potential to render expensive automatic fan controllers useless. The UEFI BIOS also receives some upgrades: the user will be able to add notes relating to settings and there is also a history of BIOS changes. In addition, the board implements Thermal Armor, which Asus, touts as “Total Airflow-Boosting Heat Dissipation”, the world’s first-ever thermal design for the entire motherboard, which is purported to safeguard the system against hot air and help keep temperatures down, conducting hot air away and out of the case through special airflow channels.

The mini-ITX market it also attended to with this board line-up, with a new overclocking-oriented model called the Z87 I-Deluxe.

More information on the Z87

Arctic Announces Alpine 20 Plus

Arctic has announced the arrival of a new CPU cooler, the Alpine 20 Plus. The cooler is only compatible with the the LGA 2011 socket, but works for both desktop version of the Intel Core i7; and the Xeon processors that fit in LGA 2011 sockets.

The cooler is made from an aluminum block and has a number of aluminum fins through which air is pushed by a 92mm fan. The fan’s speed can vary from 600 RPM to 2200 RPM and is a PWM fan. The cooler has an MSRP of $14.50 and has a 6-year warranty.


HP Announces Two New X2s

HP announced this week that it is expanding it’s x2 detachable PC portfolio with two new models: the Android-powered HP SlateBook x2 packed with a Tegra 4 system on a chip (SoC), and the Windows 8-powered HP Split x2. They will be released in the U.S. in August with starting prices of $479.99 and $799.99 respectively.

The SlateBook x2 has Android 4.2.2 “Jelly Bean” installed and has services like Google Now, Google Maps and more. The hardware contained within is not entirely known, but it will have a 10.1-inch HD touchscreen, 64 GB of internal storage and DTS+ sound. The HP Split x2 is based on Intel’s third-generation processors and Windows 8 Pro. It will have a 13.3-inch HD touchscreen, HP Connected Music, Beats Audio, a 2MP HP Truevision Full HD webcam, and an HP ClickPad.

More information on the x2 lineup

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