Mac Essentials : VirtualBox


VirtualBox, as the name suggests is a powerful virtualisation tool which in lay man’s term means installing the second OS within your existing OS. VirtualBox is a feature rich tool that can not only be used by  home users but can be easily and deployed in an enterprise setup. VirtualBox is very light in weight and is available for all platforms which include Mac, Windows, Linux and of course Solaris.

One would find it difficult to understand the reason why VirtualBox is included in the Mac Essentials list. The main reason on including VirtualBox in this list is because of the fact that many a times you come across an application that requires a specific OS to run it on. This is especially true and critical when this software is deployed by the company you are working for and wants you to use it to carry out certain tasks. On the other hand, if you are a developer, VirtualBox is a must have, purely for the reason that you can test your application that you’ve created on all OS on the same machine rather than owning one machine per OS. This makes life much easier for you to operate from any location of your choice instead of being confined to one location that has all facility.

VirtualBox is a Sun Microsystem product and that is why it is freely available as an open source software under the GNU General public license. You can install a large number of guest OS on VirtualBox on any of the platforms mentioned above. The guest OS include Windows (NT 4.0, XP, 2000, Server 2003, Vista, Windows 7), DOS 3.x, Linux (2.4 & 2.6), Solaris and OpenSolaris,  OS/2 and OpenBSD.

VirtualBox is constantly upgraded by the developers and there are new features that are constantly added to the software. VirtualBox does not support resource intensive 3D games yet, but for normal usage like office, internet etc it is more than sufficient. With recent upgrade of VirtualBox to 4.0 it has now included the support for modern operating systems (64 bit OS) which runs as smooth as it would on a dedicated hardware.

VirtualBox is available for free at link below

Click here to Download VirtualBox

VirtualBox on Mac


New MacBook Airs Launched with Sandy Bridge processors, Thunderbolt and backlit keyboard


Sandy Bridge MacBook Air
MacBook Air

Apple today revamped its MacBook Air line of notebooks by adding Sandy Bridge processors, Thunderbolt port and the much awaited backlit keyboard as standard feature for the entire range of MacBook Air. The MacBook Airs also come pre-installed with Mac OS X Lion

Apple has retained the shape and two sizes that were introduced with previous generation of MacBook Airs. Both the 11.6” and 13.3” model now come with Intel dual-core i5 processors as default with a configuration option of i7 for both models. Out of the two 11.6” models, only the one with 128GB hard drive is configurable to i7. In terms of specs, the high end 11.6” inch and the low end 13.3” are almost identical in specs with the screen size and additional SD slot in 13.3” model being the only two differences.

Of the two 11.6” models the lower end(entry level) which costs £849 ($999) consists of 1.6 GHz dual core Intel i5 processor, 2GB DDR3 memory, 64 GB flash storage, Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory. The high end 11.6” model which costs £999 ($1,199) comes with 1.6 GHz dual core Intel i5 processor, 4GB DDR3 memory, 128 GB flash storage, Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor with 384MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory. Both the models are said to have a battery life of 5 hours.

Of the two 13.3” models the lower end which costs £1,099 ($1,299) consists of 1.7 GHz dual core Intel i5 processor, 4GB DDR3 memory, 128 GB flash storage, Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor with 384MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory. The high end 13.3” model which costs £1,349 ($1,599) comes with 1.7 GHz dual core Intel i5 processor, 4GB DDR3 memory, 256 GB flash storage, Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor with 384MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory. Both the models are said to have a battery life of 7 hours.


Cortex A-15 Processor: A change in chapter of computing

ARM Cortex A-15
ARM Cortex A-15

Britain based ARM chip manufacturer has come up with a new product Cortex A-15 processor with processing capacity up to 2.5 GHz.

Lately ARM technology(ARM A-8, ARM A-9) based chips have become the default/major chip used in almost all smart phones. The chip that is currently being used has 1 GHz capacity and is used in devices like the iPhone and iPad. The key differentiator between ARM chips and other chips manufacturer like intel, AMD is that ARM has managed to produce chips that are highly energy efficient and requires only fraction of the energy compared to what is required by normal processors. It thus does not require to be cooled by a fan.

The new chips also bring along with them the capability of multi-core processing which was a major differentiator between the mobile chip and PC chip. Current PCs and gaming devices are equipped with multi-core processor. Dual core being the most commonly used processor for an end user device like a desktop or a laptop. But now that the ARM Cortex-15 brings along with it similar capability consuming only fraction of the resources. It is only a matter of time that these chips would be integrated in new mobile devices like the tablets, smart phones, PMP, gaming devices, home entertainment and many more. The more you think about the possibilities that this chip would change in to reality is just mind boggling. It would only be the intent(or lack of it) of the major electronic giants now to stop the fiction of yesteryears change to reality. One of the major constraints for them at this stage would be to try and get return on their current investment and at the same time invest in research of new products that have the capability to become mainstream so that the investment is worth a return.

What this means from an end user perspective is that this is the beginning of the end of computers we have known so far and the beginning of a new age of computing. Tablets will certainly become a norm for the next few years until users are used to the idea of computing on devices other than the desktop/laptop.

Intel has been trying hard to get in to this segment but without any success. Intel has also recently acquired Infineon’s wireless solutions business for approx $1.4bn. Infineon chips are currently being used in iPhones and iPads as wireless communication chips(3G). But the recent development from the Apple camp is they are moving away from Infineon chips in favour of Qualcomm which again is a major set back for Intel in this space. Intel has been pushing hard with their Atom processor for mobile computing especially in the netbooks segment and were comfortably dominating the market but with the faith of netbooks itself now being a concern, Atom processors do not seem to have a long life. AMD on the other hand is still catching up on the desktop processors with their new range of processors “Fusion” that they claim to be better than any competing processor for a desktop. And to their credit the processors have received some good reviews from the industry. But the question of the moment is whether they should continue to build their desktop processing capability or move to investing and inventing in what looks like the new age in computer processing?