Ubuntu 16.04 Alpha 1 Is Now Available for Testing

Alpha 1 in the Ubuntu 16.04 ‘Xenial Xerus’ development cycle is now available to download. The release comes a few days later than was originally planned (December 31, 2015). Send ‘thanks’ on a postcard , c/o Christmas and New Year holidays. A perfectly understandable delay and, perhaps, a perfect explanation as to why only three Ubuntu flavours participate in the Ubuntu 16.04 Alpha … Read more

Install GLPI on Debian 7

In this article we will show you how to install GLPI with Apache, PHP and MySQL on a Debian 7 VPS. GLPI is an IT software management package developed in PHP. It offers many functionalities one of which is to build up a database with an inventory for your company (computer, monitors, software, printers…). GLPI … Read more

The Huawei Mate 8 Review

It’s been over a year since we reviewed the Huawei Ascend Mate 7 and Ascend Mate 2. For many people and including ourselves at AnandTech these were among one of the first experiences with Huawei as a smartphone device manufacturer. Ever since our review of the Honor 6 I kind of fell into the position of being the main editor in charge of Huawei device reviews and thus experienced first-hand the company’s efforts in the high-end as well as their increasingly visible expansion into western markets.

The Mate 8 is the successor to the Ascend Mate 7 and in a similar fashion to the P8 last spring, the phone drops the Ascend name in favour of better establishing the Mate brand. The Mate 8 is in a lot aspects an evolutionary design over the Mate 7 but at same time comes at the moment of a generational shift brought forth by the adoption of the new Kirin 950 SoC. With help of the new chipset and other improvements we’ll see that Mate 8 not only manages to raise the bar for Huawei but also to deal blows to competing devices in several aspects, making the phone a worthy candidate in the upcoming 2016 smartphone generation battle.

Toshiba’s DynaPad Tablet to Hit Stores in Late January

Toshiba showcased its ultra-thin dynaPad tablet in September, 2015, at IFA in Berlin, Germany, and then formally introduced it in mid-October. At the International CES 2016, the company finally revealed that the dynaPad will hit the U.S. market later this month. Toshiba says that its new 12-inch tablet is among the thinnest Windows 10-based devices of such kind.

The Toshiba dynaPad tablet features a 12-inch display with 1920×1280 resolution, which is covered with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 as well as with a special anti-fingerprint coating. The device is equipped with Toshiba’s active electrostatics (ES) stylus with Wacom Feel technology that supports 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity. The digitizer pen can last for more than 1000 hours on one charge and can be used for note taking, sketching and drawing. In addition, Toshiba offers a special keyboard dock for its dynaPad, which can be used to convert the slate into a laptop.

The dynaPad tablet from Toshiba uses Microsoft Windows 10 operating system and is based on the Intel Atom x5 Z8300 system-on-chip (four cores, 2MB cache, 1.44 GHz – 1.84 GHz clock-rate, built-in Intel HD Graphics core with 12 execution units, 2 W thermal design power, 14 nm process technology). The SoC of the dynaPad is similar to that used by Microsoft’s Surface 3, but it runs at a lower frequency and thus has lower performance.

Toshiba’s dynaPad also comes with up to 4 GB of DDR3L RAM, up to 64 GB of NAND flash storage, Wi-Fi (802.11ac) and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technologies, a 2 MP front-facing and an 8 MP back-facing cameras, various sensors and so on. The dynaPad sports two micro USB 2.0 ports, a microSD card slot and a micro HDMI port for connecting to external displays. Toshiba yet has to reveal precise specifications and configurations of its dynaPad.

The new tablet from Toshiba weighs 580 grams (1.28 pounds) and measures about 6.9 mm (0.27 inch) thin. When the keyboard is attached, the weight increases to around 1000 grams (2.2 pounds). Toshiba has not released precise details about battery life of its new tablet.

Toshiba plans to start selling its dynaPad online and at Microsoft Stores in late January. The most affordable version will cost $569.99.

The Toshiba dynaPad looks like a relatively powerful solution for various tasks usually performed on tablets. It has a fine 12-inch display and comes with a digitizer pen. By contrast, Microsoft’s Surface 3 sports a 10.1-inch screen and does not come with a stylus (it has to be bought separately). Moreover, Toshiba’s tablet is also thinner and lighter than Microsoft’s Surface 3. In fact, thickness is the dynaPad is similar to that of Apple’s iPad Pro, which also has a 12-inch display, but the latter weighs considerably more (713 grams, 1.572 pounds).

Even though Toshiba has been trying to refocus its PC business and concentrate on business and enterprise customers, it continues to release consumer devices that look very interesting, at least, on paper. The dynaBook with its rather low weight, relatively low price, advanced stylus and decent capabilities looks like a viable rival not only for Microsoft’s Surface 3, but also for Apple’s iPad Air and iPad Pro.

Gallery: Toshiba’s DynaPad Tablet to Hit Stores in Late January

NVIDIA Announces DRIVE PX 2 – Pascal Power For Self-Driving Cars

As has become tradition at CES, the first major press conference of the show belongs to NVIDIA. In previous years their press conference would be dedicated to consumer mobile parts – the Tegra division, in other words – while more recently the company’s conference has shifted to a mix of mobile and automobiles. Finally for 2016, NVIDIA has made a full transition over to cars, with this year’s press conference focusing solely on the subject and skipping consumer mobile entirely.

At CES 2015 NVIDIA announced the DRIVE CX and DRIVE PX systems, with DRIVE CX focusing on cockpit visualization while DRIVE PX was part of a much more ambitious entry into the self-driving vehicle market for NVIDIA. Both systems were based around NVIDIA’s then-new Tegra X1 SoC, implementing it either for its graphics capabilities or its compute capabilities respectively.

For 2016 however, NVIDIA has doubled-down on self-driving vehicles, dedicating the entire press conference to the concept and filling the conference with suitable product announcements. The headline announcement for this year’s conference then is the successor to NVIDIA’s DRIVE PX system, the aptly named DRIVE PX 2.

From a hardware perspective the DRIVE PX 2 is essentially picking up from where the original DRIVE PX left off. NVIDIA continues to believe that the solution to self-driving cars is through computer vision realized by neural networks, with more compute power being necessary to get better performance with greater accuracy. To that while DRIVE PX was something of an early system to prove the concept, then DRIVE PX 2 is NVIDIA is thinking much bigger.

NVIDIA DRIVE PX Specification Comparison

DRIVE PX
DRIVE PX 2
SoCs
2x Tegra X1
2x Tegra "Parker"
Discrete GPUs
N/A
2x Unknown Pascal
CPU Cores
8x ARM Cortex-A57 +8x ARM Cortex-53
4x NVIDIA Denver +8x ARM Cortex-A57
GPU Cores
2x Tegra X1 (Maxwell)
2x Tegra "Parker" (Pascal) +2x Unknown Pascal
FP32 TFLOPS
> 1 TFLOPS
8 TFLOPS
FP16 TFLOPS
> 2 TFLOPS
16 TFLOPS?
TDP
N/A
250W
As a result the DRIVE PX 2 is a very powerful – and very power hungry – design meant to offer much greater compute performance than the original DRIVE PX. Based around NVIDIA’s newly disclosed 2016 Tegra (likely to be Parker), the PX 2 incorporates a pair of the SoCs. However in a significant departure from the original PX, the PX 2 also integrates a pair of Pascal discrete GPUs on MXM cards, in order to significantly boost the GPU compute capabilities over what a pair of Tegra processors alone could offer. The end result is that PX 2 packs a total of 4 processors on a single board, essentially combining the two Tegras’ 8 ARM Cortex-A57 and 4 NVIDIA Denver CPU cores with 4 Pascal GPUs.

NVIDIA is not disclosing anything about the discrete Pascal GPUs at this time beyond the architecture and that, like the new Tegra, they’re built on TSMC’s 16nm FinFET process. However looking at the board held up by NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, it appears to be a sizable card with 8 GDDR5 memory packages on the front. My gut instinct is that this may be the Pascal successor to GM206 with the 8 chips forming a 128-bit memory bus in clamshell mode, but at this point that’s speculation on my part.

Update Kudos to our readers on this one. The MXM modules in the picture are almost component-for-component identical to the GTX 980 MXM photo we have on file. So it is likely that these are not Pascal GPUs, and that they're merely placeholders.

What isn’t in doubt though are the power requirements for PX 2. PX 2 will consume 250W of power – equivalent to today’s GTX 980 Ti and GTX Titan X cards – and will require liquid cooling. NVIDIA’s justification for the design, besides the fact that this much computing power is necessary, is that a liquid cooling system ensures that the PX 2 will receive sufficient cooling in all environmental conditions. More practically though, the company is targeting electric vehicles with this, many of which already use liquid cooling, and as a result are a more natural fit for PX 2’s needs. For all other vehicles the company will also be offering a radiator module to use with the PX 2.

Otherwise NVIDIA never did disclose the requirements for the original PX, but it’s safe to say that PX 2 is significantly higher. It’s particularly telling that in the official photos of the board with the liquid cooling loops installed, it’s the dGPUs we clearly see attached to the loops. Consequently I wouldn’t be surprised if the bulk of that 250W power consumption comes from the dGPUs rather than the Tegra SoCs.

As far as performance goes, NVIDIA spent much of the evening comparing the PX 2 to the GeForce GTX Titan X, and for good reason. The PX 2 is rated for 8 TFLOPS of FP32 performance, which puts PX 2 1 TFLOPS ahead of the 7 TFLOPS Titan X. However while those are raw specifications, it’s important to note that Titan X is 1 GPU whereas PX 2 is 4, which means PX 2 will need to work around multi-GPU scaling issues that aren’t an issue for Titan X.

Curiously, NVIDIA also used the event to introduce a new unit of measurement – the Deep Learning Tera-Op, or DL TOPS – which at 24 is an unusual 3x higher than PX 2’s FP32 performance. Based on everything disclosed by NVIDIA about Pascal so far, we don’t have any reason to believe FP16 performance is more than 2x Pascal’s FP32 performance. So where the extra performance comes from is a mystery at the moment. NVIDIA quoted this and not FP16 FLOPS, so it may include a special case operation (ala the Fused Multiply-Add), or even including the performance of the Denver CPU cores.

On that note, while DRIVE PX 2 was the focus of NVIDIA’s presentation, it was GTX Titan X that was actually driving all of the real-time presentations. As far as I know we did not actually see any demos being powered by PX 2, and it’s unclear whether PX 2 is even ready for controlled demonstration at this time. NVIDIA mentions in their press release that the PX 2 will be available to early access partners in Q2, with general availability not occurring until Q4.

Meanwhile along with the PX 2 hardware, NVIDIA also used their conference to reiterate their plans for self-driving cars, and where their hardware and software will fit into this. NVIDIA is still aiming to develop a hardware ecosystem for the automotive industry rather than an end-to-end solution. Which is to say that they want to provide the hardware, while letting their customers develop the software.

However at the same time, in an action admitting that it’s not always easy for customers to get started from scratch, NVIDIA will also be developing their complete reference platform combining hardware and software. The reference platform includes not just the hardware for self-driving cards – including the PX 2 system and other NVIDIA hardware to train the neural nets – but also software components including the company’s existing DriveWorks SDK, and a pre-trained driving neural net the company is calling DRIVENet.

Consequently while the company isn’t strictly in the process of developing its own cars, it is essentially in the process of training them. Which means NVIDIA has been sending cars around the Sunnyvale area to record interactions, training the 37 million neuron network how to understand traffic. A significant portion of NVIDIA’s presentation was taken up demonstrating DRIVENet in action, showcasing how well it understood the world using a combination of LIDAR and computer vision, with a GTX Titan X running the network at about 50fps. Ultimately I think it’s fair to say that NVIDIA would rather their customers be doing this, building nets on top of systems like DIGITS, but they also have seen first-hand in previous endeavors that bootstrapping an ecosystem like they desire requires having all of the components already there.

Finally, NVIDIA also announced that they have lined up their first customer for PX 2: Volvo. In 2017 the company will be outfitting 100 XC90 SUVs with the PX 2, for use in their ongoing self-driving car development efforts.

MAINGEAR Rolls-Out 34” All-in-One PC with 18-Core Xeon, GeForce GTX Titan X

The concept of the all-in-one desktop personal computer was created to save space and simplify design of PCs. While there have been a number of traditional AIO desktops available over the years, leading PC makers only began to address performance-demanding market segments with specially-designed models several years ago. At the Consumer Electronics Show on Monday, boutique PC maker Maingear introduced the world’s first AIO desktop featuring top-of-the-range gaming or even server components.

The Maingear Alpha 34 is a giant all-in-one desktop with 34” curved display with 3440×1440 resolution. Unlike the vast majority of semi-custom AIO PCs, the Alpha 34 is built around standard mini-ITX motherboards — in this case the ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Impact or the ASRock X99E-ITX for high-end configurations (Intel H110-based mainboard is available as an option for lower-cost configurations). Due to the flexibility in motherboard selection, the system can use either socket 1151 or socket 2011-3 CPUs depending on the board, including Intel's Core i3/i5/i7, or Intel Xeon E5 v3 processors with up to 18 cores and up to 45MB of cache. The AIO desktop uses the Maingear’s own closed-loop liquid cooler in order to ensure stability of desktop and server CPUs.

The Alpha 34 can be equipped with up to 32GB of unbuffered DDR4 memory, one M.2 NVMe solid-state drive and up to two 2.5” storage devices. The AIO can also accommodate full-sized desktop graphics cards, including the AMD Radeon R9 Nano, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X, or professional cards. The system naturally supports all the connectivity options provided by the aforementioned motherboards, including Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, 5.1-channel audio, USB 3.0, USB 3.1 connectors and so on.

As is usually the case for botique system builders, Maingear is offering a suite of customization options to let the AIO hit different price ranges and performance levels. That said, the Alpha 34 is always equipped with a 450W power supply unit, and therefore not all setups will be feasible. Multi-core Intel Xeon processors as well as top-of-the-range graphics cards consume a lot of power and 450W may not be enough to feed all the possible configurations.

Performance of the Alpha 34 featuring the latest Core i7 processors should be on par with that of high-end tower desktops. Upgradeability of all-in-one systems is not as flexible as that of tower machines, which is one of the reasons why AIOs are not for everyone. To make the Intel Z170-based systems a little more future-proof, the PC maker offers factory overclocking for Skylake-S CPUs inside the Alpha 34.

All Maingear systems — including the Alpha 34 — can be custom painted and equipped with various peripherals like external optical drives, keyboards, mice, headsets and so on.

Pricing of the Alpha 34 starts at $1,999. A fully-fledged gaming setup with premium components, but without custom-finish and peripherals, will cost $6,150.99. A workstation machine inside the Alpha 34 chassis will be priced at around $15,000. Finally, Maingear will start to ship its Alpha 34 systems starting February 1, 2016.

Acer Aspire Unveils Switch 12 S 2-in-1 Notebook

Acer on Monday introduced its new 2-in-1 hybrid notebook at the Consumer Electronics Show. The Aspire Switch 12 S is designed for those, who need a decent level of performance and features along with a high-resolution display in a sleek form-factor. The new 2-in-1 system features Intel Thunderbolt 3 technology and will be compatible with Acer’s upcoming Graphics Dock, an external graphics solution for mobile PCs. The new hybrid personal computers will hit the market already next month.

The Acer Aspire Switch 12 S hybrid PC is based on the Intel Core M central processing unit with 4.5W thermal design power and Skylake micro-architecture. The 2-in-1 comes equipped with 4GB or 8GB of dynamic random access memory (DRAM), a 128 GB or a 256 GB solid-state drive, a 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi controller with 2×2 MU-MIMO technology, a 720p front-facing webcam, Intel RealSense R200 camera for 3D scanning, two USB 3.0 ports, one Thunderbolt 3/USB 3.1 type-C port as well as a micro-SD card reader. The system is completely fanless thanks to very low TDP of its CPU.

The 12.5-inch display panel of the Aspire Switch 12 S uses IPS technology along with Corning Gorilla 4 glass for protection, it can feature 1920 × 1080 or 3840 × 2160 resolution, depending on exact configuration. The multi-touch display supports the Acer Active Pen for note-taking and sketching, something, which may be useful for business users and creative professionals.

Those, who would like to use the Aspire Switch 12 S for gaming will eventually be able to connect an optional Acer Graphics Dock to the Thunderbolt 3 port. At present Acer does not reveal anything about the upcoming Graphics Dock. Considering the fact that Intel’s Core M processors can hardly provide enough horsepower for demanding games, even a mainstream discrete GPU inside the dock will significantly improve gaming capabilities of the laptop. Nonetheless, it is hard to expect the Graphics Dock to transform any low-power 2-in-1 machine into a gaming powerhouse.

The Acer Aspire Switch 12 S is made of anodized aluminum. The tablet part of the device is about 7.85 mm (0.31 inches) thick and weighs around 800 grams (1.76 pounds). With keyboard dock connected, the 2-in-1 laptop is 17.3 mm thick (0.68 inches) and weighs around 1400 grams (3.09 pounds).

Acer officially positions its Aspire Switch 12 S for all types of users, including business road warriors, creative professionals as well as mainstream users. The 4K display, support for stylus, Intel Thunderbolt 3 technology, RealSense camera for 3D scanning make the new 2-in-1 PC from Acer considerably more advanced compared to previous-generation hybrids. In fact, 4K display and Thunderbolt 3 support make the Aspire 2-in-1 unique as such combination is rare in general. The Acer Graphics Dock will make the Aspire Switch 12 S somewhat more attractive for gamers. However, the lack of a 4G/LTE module, a fingerprint reader and high-capacity storage options will reduce popularity of the Aspire Switch 12 S among business and professional users.

The Acer Aspire Switch 12 S will be available in North America in February starting at $999.99. The new 2-in-1 will also hit the markets of Europe, the Middle East and Africa in February with prices starting from €1,199.

Gallery: Acer Aspire Unveils Switch 12 S 2-in-1 Notebook

Lenovo Announces The VIBE S1 Lite

Today Lenovo introduced the VIBE S1 Lite at CES in Las Vegas. The VIBE S1 Lite is a mid range smartphone offered by Lenovo which offers some notable specs relative to its price. The known specifications for Lenovo's newest phone are in the chart below, with a few bits of information like the dimensions and WiFi/Bluetooth specifications being unknown at the moment.

Lenovo VIBE S1 Lite
SoC
MediaTek MTK 6753 Octa Core Cortex A53 @ 1.3GHz
RAM
2GB LPDDR3
NAND
16GB NAND + MicroSD
Display
5” 1080p IPS
Network
2G / 3G / 4G LTE
Camera
13MP Rear Facing, PDAF
8MP Front Facing
Battery
2700 mAh (10.26 Whr)
OS
Android 5.1
SIM
Dual NanoSIM
Launch Price
$199
The Lenovo VIBE S1 Lite won't be coming to the US, which is actually a shame because it looks like an interesting phone for the price. For $199 you get a 5" 1920×1080 IPS display, support for LTE, and a 13MP rear-facing Sony camera with support for PDAF. Interestingly enough, Lenovo notes that it's an ISOCELL sensor, even though ISOCELL is really a Samsung specific term for deep trench isolation, which is the process of putting barriers between the pixels on the camera sensor to reduce crosstalk. All of this is run off of a 10.26Wh battery.

If there's one thing that isn't too exciting about the VIBE S1 Lite it's probably the SoC. MTK 6753 is an octa core Cortex A53 part with a max frequency of 1.3GHz. Considering that you're put on the same playing field as Snapdragon 410 it's definitely not bad for the price, but some of the other specs are definitely a bit more exciting at this price point.

The last notable thing about the VIBE S1 Lite is the design. Based on the press photos the phone actually looks quite nice for a phone at this price. The color choices are quite interesting, and when they're combined with the metal band around the phone the design reminds me a bit of the Nexus 6. That's somewhat intriguing when you consider that Lenovo now owns Motorola Mobility.

The Lenovo VIBE S1 Lite will be available in white and blue in the first quarter of this year, for a price of $199 USD. Like I said earlier, it actually will not be sold in the US despite its introduction at CES, but it will be sold in all the markets that Lenovo phones are currently sold in.