Rumors include June startup date, possible expansion plans
Photos and reports from tipsters indicate that Apple's forthcoming sapphire manufacturing plant may already be partially online as construction crews race to finish the building for a targeted June completion date. The building, which is very nondescript in appearance, is located in Mesa, Arizona and was built in a partnership with GT Advanced Technologies, the inventors of a process to manufacture nearly scratch-proof sapphire glass in larger quantities and at lower cost than had previously been available.
Bought up 'entire three-year supply' of 4.5-inch super-tough material
Ubuntu developer Canonical has told investors and analysts in a conference call that part of the reason it had been unable to produce a planned 4.5-inch smartphone running the Linux-based OS was because (in addition to financial issues) Apple had "scooped up" the entire three-year supply" of sapphire screens the company had planned to use. While not a confirmation that Apple plans to create a 4.5-inch display in a future iPhone, the quote seems to reaffirm that Apple is planning to incorporate the practically-unscratchable material in its future products.
Patent outlines manufacturing and growing process
Along with the patent awarded for the ejectable component assembly last week, the United States Patent & Trademark Office also granted Apple a patent for manufacturing sapphire windows, which had originally been submitted in July 2012. The patent gives credence to the reports of all-sapphire glass displays used on the new iPhone prototypes, as well as the company pushing to open a US sapphire manufacturing plant in Arizona this year.
Speculation rises on document describing 'critical new sub-component'
While it was previously known that Apple was working on a new sapphire crystal manufacturing partnership in Mesa, Arizona in partnership with GT Advanced Technologies, thus far few details have emerged on what exactly Apple plans to do with the sapphire glass to be created by the plant. According to recently-published correspondence between Apple and Arizona regulators, the iPhone maker hopes to open the facility as early as next month.
Half-billion dollar agreement with GT Advanced Technologies
Apple is investing in GT Advanced Technologies, a company that produces advanced sapphire material. Following an announcement of the Apple investment by Governor Jan Brewer, details revealed that the iPhone maker has signed a multi-year, $578 million contract in the state that will help fund a "next-generation, large-capacity" Advanced Sapphire Furnace intended to lower the cost to create advanced sapphire-based material.
Claims framerate boosts as much as 200 percent or more
Component maker Sapphire has officially launched the Mac Edition of its Radeon HD 7950 video card. The add-on includes 3GB of GDDR5 memory, and is said to boost game framerates by as much as 200 percent or more, and general benchmark performance by about 30 percent. Graphics-heavy benchmarks are claimed to run up to 300 percent faster than possible with the NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT.
AMD Radeon HD 7950 targets more common gamers
AMD has hoped to corner the more widely accessible range of high-end video cards Tuesday by unveiling the Radeon HD 7950. It trims back slightly from the range-leading 7970 with 1,792 visual processing cores instead of 2,048, 112 texture units instead of 128, and both 800MHz core and 1.25GHz memory clock speeds versus the 925MHz and 1.38GHz of its counterpart. The chipset is still powerful enough to handle 4K video and carries the 384-bit memory bus and 3GB of video RAM.
Sapphire 4GB 5970 would have custom cooling
Graphics hardware's Sapphire at CeBIT has shown one of the first ultra high-end versions of the Radeon HD 5970 in a bid to have the fastest video cards in the world. The special model will double the amount of onboard memory to a record 4GB and will carry a custom, three-slot fan and heatsink cooling system. Although thick, the design would let Sapphire factory overclock the 5970's memory from 1GHz to 1.2GHz.
ATI fills out Radeon HD 5000 with efficient card
AMD this morning launched its second new video chipset in just a matter of days and this time targeted a comparatively untapped mini PC category. The Radeon HD 5570 is a major step up in performance from the 5450 with 400 stream processors versus 80 but still occupies a single card slot and is relatively short, making it ideal for small form factor cases where even the 5600 series would be too large or use too much power.
AMD Radeon HD 4550 4350
AMD early Tuesday took its Radeon HD 4000-series chipsets into ultra budget territory with two video cards that promise better performance than their prices would suggest. The Radeon HD 4550 and Radeon HD 4350 have just 80 stream (effects) processors versus as much as 800 for the Radeon 4800 series but are still capable of full DirectX 10.1 and current OpenGL 2.x effects, rendering them some of the least expensive cards capable of their more advanced visuals. The new chipsets are also some of the only ones of their type to have 7.1-channel audio pass-through over HDMI and the option of DisplayPort.
Radeon HD 4870 X2 in July
AMD is preparing a dual-chip version of its Radeon HD 4870 card within a matter of weeks, say board designers. The 4870 X2 would be a direct sequel to the 3870 X2 and would once again graft two high-end graphics processors on to one card with a similarly doubled amount of memory; the 4870 edition would be the first home card to carry 2GB of total memory. Past cards have also been underclocked slightly from the single-chip version to avoid overheating.
AMD Water Cooled 4870
AMD is gearing up for the launch of a special Radeon HD 4800 card designed explicitly to push past the GeForce GTX 280 in sheer performance, according to a new leak. The unnamed hardware would use the extra energy headroom of the card along with a custom water cooling system to clock the card well above the company's best individual card, the 4870: the core would reach 950MHz or more, while the video memory would be pushed to a 1.2GHz actual speed.