Category Archives: Intel

“Intel Inside” shifts from PCs to virtual machines in the cloud


The “Intel Inside” trademark that tells PC users their computer is powered by an Intel chip is the inspiration for a new Intel partnership with cloud computing companies. More than a dozen cloud service providers from numerous countries will make it clear that their virtual machines are “Powered by Intel Cloud Technology.”

But it’s not just a marketing gimmick, according to Intel. The program’s guidelines require cloud providers to say exactly which Intel chip is inside the virtual machines and to provide performance statistics, making it easier for customers to determine which will be the most cost-effective.

Amazon was the first in the program last September. New entrants today include Savvis, Rackspace, Expedient, Virtustream, OVH, Selectel, Cloud4com, Canopy, UOL Host, LocaWeb, KIO Networks, NxtGen, and KT.

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CES 2014: What we saw, what we loved, and what we’ll remember

The sight we saw most often at CES 2014: Vegas from the back seat of a cab.
Lee Hutchinson

The enormous, over-the-top, excess-filled Consumer Electronics Show—CES to us in the biz—has come to an end. We’ve wrapped up a week of running around Vegas like crazy people, forsaking sleep and eating in taxis or while hunched over vendor-provided buffet tables in product demo rooms.

Although we had a total of eight intrepid reporters in Vegas, we each had our own coverage goals, which meant that we rarely saw each other. In fact, at no point was the entire Ars team assembled in one place—the closest we came to all seeing each other was our team dinner at the LVH’s Benihana restaurant.

With so many of us covering so many different things, it was inevitable that we’d all end up with different opinions and takeaways from the show. Here’s what each of the Ars CES crew got from our week in the neon-lit dusty desert.

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SteamOS beta picks up built-in AMD, Intel GPU support

Gigabyte’s Brix Steam Machine is powered by Intel’s Iris Pro 5200 GPU.
Lee Hutchinson

Valve and its partners took the wraps off of an impressive number of Steam Machines earlier this week at CES, and the hardware diversity of the PCs-turned-consoles was one of the most notable things about them. GPUs from Nvidia, AMD, and Intel power all of those Steam Machines, and now the publicly available SteamOS beta has added built-in driver support for AMD and Intel GPUs.

An e-mail from an AMD representative indicated that SteamOS was running Catalyst 13.11 Beta 9.9 drivers and that a standalone driver package would soon be available from AMD’s support site. Known issues with the AMD driver as of this release “include tearing and poor overlay performance in-game,” problems that will doubtlessly be ironed out in future releases. Intel GPUs are using Mesa 10.0.1, and while standalone Intel and Nvidia GPUs are supported, dual-GPU Optimus solutions still won’t work.

Previous builds of SteamOS shipped with Nvidia driver support by default, and all 300 of the Steam Machine prototypes that Valve sent out to testers included some variety of GeForce GPU.

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Video: Our first reaction to the Steam boxes, Steam OS controller

Kyle and Casey talk Steam boxes. (video link)

The day before the official beginning of CES is riddled with press conferences. In the midst of those, Valve founder Gabe Newell popped out for all of 10 minutes to unveil what will soon be a set of available Steam boxes. Reporters, including Ars’ own gaming editor Kyle Orland, snapped pictures and tried out the controller that Valve had designed for the new devices.

Orland said that while he is interested in the console, he wasn’t sure who it was meant to target. The living room location and controller suggest Valve is going after the console users, but the operating system and cost seem aimed at the more hardcore PC gamers.

The controller wasn’t a hit for Orland—while one side of it appears to function, the left control pad and inability to accept multi-button input hold it back from being a great product.

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Intel: All of our microprocessors made this year are “conflict free”

Andrew Cunningham

In another startling announcement at the CES keynote, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich trumpeted that starting this year, all of his company’s microprocessors will be “conflict free.”

The chief executive is referring to the fact that a handful of raw minerals are crucial for manufacturing a significant portion of all consumer electronic devices. As we reported in 2012, for years, many activists around the world have pushed for tougher restrictions on the sourcing of cassiterite, wolframite, coltan, and gold in particular. The proceeds of the sales of many of these minerals have been fueling regional conflicts in Central Africa for well over a decade.

Krzanich noted that the company has been working in this issue “over four years ago,” and that now all of its minerals are “tracked” from “mine to the smelter.”

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Liveblog: Intel’s CES opening night keynote—Monday Jan 6, 6:30pm PT

Years are all about traditions. So now that a new calendar is underway and holiday travel has been besieged by weather, the first full day of the Consumer Electronics Show is the next collective annual landmark.

We know major players like Valve will be on hand to give us a rough outline of what 2014 has in store. We know companies like LG will unveil hardware like a webOS-powered smart TV. And we certainly expect a slew of wearables—smart watches front and center—to garner headlines in the coming days. But CES 2013 actually presented a bit of unpredictability, marking Microsoft’s exit from the event and thus creating an opening for the coveted first night keynote. Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs stepped up to the microphone and brought out everyone from Big Bird to Steve Ballmer to emphasize how the current generation was “born mobile.” While it may not have been the newest idea on the block, you can’t question his chorus’ accuracy.

This year it’s Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s turn. Unlike Jacobs, Krzanich heads a company that directly creates hardware we ooh and ahh at during events like CES, so he could potentially make reference to any number of upcoming projects (for instance, we’ll publish our review of the company’s tiny NUC computer later today). Whatever path his address takes, Andrew Cunningham and Casey Johnston will be on hand to document it all in our second liveblog of the day. Find the start time in your time zone here and make sure to bookmark this post for easy access later on.

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Chips take backseat to a motion sensing 3D camera at Intel’s CES event

The news from Intel’s press day event at this year’s CES was much less chip-focused than it was last year, when Intel talked about lots of power-saving improvements in the then-upcoming Core and Intel CPUs. This year the news was primarily focused on a 3D webcam, part of a new “RealSense” family of hardware and software.

The RealSense 3D camera adds a “best-in-class” depth sensor to the standard 2D webcams that sit above the displays of most all-in-ones and Ultrabooks today. In addition to depth sensing, the 1080p camera can also detect hand and finger movements for gesture controls. Changes in facial expressions can also be tracked.

Intel’s RealSense 3D camera, as demonstrated at CES 2014. (video link)

Intel Perceptual Computing Group SVP Mooly Eden said that the RealSense brand is about making computer interactions more natural and more intuitive. Together with language processing software (provided, in some cases, by Dragon’s Naturally Speaking software), Intel is attempting to make interacting with your computer more like interacting with real-world people and objects.

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Microsoft quietly bumps Surface Pro 2 processor

When we reviewed Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2, we found that it packed all the performance punch of a laptop computer thanks to its Intel i5-4200U processor running at 1.6-2.6 GHz.

That strength has become even stronger, with CNET reporting that at least some new Surface Pro 2 systems are being equipped with the Intel i5-4300U, running at 1.9-2.9 GHz. The new CPU also increases the top clockspeed of the integrated GPU, capping it at 1.1GHz instead of 1.0GHz.

OEMs swapping out components in their systems isn’t uncommon, with disks, LCD panels, wireless chipsets, and more all being substituted from time to time to cut costs or smooth out supply line anomalies. This practice was reflected in Microsoft’s official statement about the change: “Microsoft routinely makes small changes to internal components over the lifetime of a product, based on numerous factors including supply chain partnerships, availability, and value for our customers.”

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Intel’s Haswell NUC: D54250WYK UCFF PC Review

The Intel NUC category (which has been given the official tag of Ultra-Compact Form Factor PC) has been an interesting product line to analyze, as it provides us with insights into where the traditional casual / home use desktop market might end up. Last year, we reviewed Intel's first NUC. Today, we have the Haswell successor in our labs. Read on to find out how the D54250WYK fares in our evaluation.


Intel’s Haswell NUC: D54250WYK UCFF PC Review

The Intel NUC category (which has been given the official tag of Ultra-Compact Form Factor PC) has been an interesting product line to analyze, as it provides us with insights into where the traditional casual / home use desktop market might end up. Last year, we reviewed Intel's first NUC. Today, we have the Haswell successor in our labs. Read on to find out how the D54250WYK fares in our evaluation.