With Intel's quad-core mobile chip soon coming to a laptop near you, some are wondering if a four-core chip might be overkill for a mobile platform. The answer is a resounding 'No' and anyone who thinks otherwise automatically loses 100x4 points of geek cred.
Okay, that might be a bit harsh, particularly since there are compelling reasons to support such blasphemous thoughts. While it's difficult to fathom ever having too much computing power, even desktop owners are still waiting for that killer app that will make everyone ditch their dual-core processor in favor of a quad. Moving to a mobile platform, wasted horsepower becomes even more of an issue as OEMs try to deal with heat dissipation, battery life, and the grand-daddy of them all, cost.
Nevertheless, there will be a market for four-core chips. Kelt Reeves, president of Falcon Northwest, says quad-core mobile chips are "definitely not" overkill, noting that the boutique OEM has been "putting quad-processors in (laptops) for a long time."
Details about some of Intel's upcoming quad-core mobile chips - like the Core 2 Extreme X9100 - are floating around the web, but others have yet to go public. Citing un-named sources, Cnet claims system vendors may start disclosing more details as soon as August 11. Will anyone care, or is dual-core still good enough for a laptop?
ArsTechnicareports that a July 15 visit by Intel representatives to the FCC wasn't a social call. Instead, Intel is encouraging the FCC to mandate the addition of Ethernet ports to the set-top boxes used by cable TV companies. Their rationale? IP based networking is just about everywhere, except in cable TV, and it's about time to enable cable TV to join the home networking revolution.
It is about time to get cable TV on the home network, but should Intel ask the government to force the industry to do it? To find out why Intel thinks it's the government's role, and for a different take on the argument, see us after the jump.
Good news for system builders and upgraders alike: Intel has cut processor prices (PDF) by as much as 31 percent. And these aren't price cuts on chips that nobody cares about either, but they include some overclocking favorites in both dual and quad-core trim:
Q6600, $224 to $193 (14% drop)
E8500, $266 to $183 (31% drop)
E8400, $183 to $164 (11% drop)
E7200, $188 to $113 (15% drop)
A handful of Xeon processors have also been marked down, but the real treat here is for overclockers. All four desktop processors have become extremely popular chips in the overclocking community due to their reputation for ramping up in clockspeed with minimal effort, and save for the E8500, each one could have been considered a bargain before the price cut. Now the price-to-performance ratio looks even better, enough so that those holding out for Nehalem may be tempted to pull the trigger now rather than wait. But on which one? Here's a refresher if you've been out of the loop for awhile:
Q6600 (2.4GHz, 8MB, 1066MHz, x9 multiplier)
E8500 (3.16GHz, 6MB, 1333MHz, x9.5 multiplier)
E8400 (3.0GHz, 6MB, 1333MHz, x9 multiplier)
E7200 (2.53GHz, 3MB, 1066MHz, x9.5 multiplier)
Prices represent 1,000 unit trays, so expect to pay a little bit more at your favorite vendor. Still, who can complain, and at these price points the question of the day is, build now or wait?
There was a time when motherboards sporting integrated graphics were best avoided like the plague, and while that's still the case for the hardcore enthusiast, many modern micro ATX motherboards have begun closing the performance gap between their full ATX brethren. The situation looks to get even better by summer's end. According to a DigiTimes report, Nvidia plans to mass produce its latest Intel platform IGP chipset by the middle of next month with shipping product expected to hit retail shelves in early September.
Touting support for Nvidia's GeForce 9-series mGPU, the 730i MPC will be offered up with either an onboard GeForce 9400 graphics core (MCP7A-U) with a core frequency of 580MHz and shader frequency of 1500MHz, or with a GeForce 9300 (MCP7A-S) with a core and shader frequency of 450MHz and 1200MHz respectively. The GPUs don't look to rival anything close to a GTX 280, but with support for PCI Express 2.0, Shader Model 4.0, and DirectX 10, along with 16 built-in stream processors, less demanding gamers are likely to be able to get their gaming groove on with more than just Peggle.
Rounding out the feature list, both MCPs will support a 1333MHz frontside bus (think 45nm Penryn) and come in both DDR2 and DDR3 flavor. And for HTPC crowd, look for a bevy of connection options, including HDMI, dual-link DVI, DsiplayPort, and D-sub.
Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini had a bounce in his step going into his shareholder briefing on Tuesday. Intel’s continued dominance over AMD and a solid earnings report has left his investors glad they placed their money in hardware rather then software. Investors on the other hand are nothing if not fickle. The conference call quickly turned into a debate over the shortage of Atom processors and weakness in Intel’s flash memory business. Put on the defensive Paul Otellini hinted that Atom isn’t the chip maker’s primary focus. "(Atom) is less than a third the performance of our Centrino (processor). You're dealing with something that most of us wouldn't use," he said. He further goes on to clarify that Atom is aimed at the emerging Netbook audience and is a way that Intel can grow without cannibalizing its other processor offerings. He continued to reassure investors that Intel has plenty of Atom chips in stock and back end improvements to testing as well as increased production of chipsets should solve the problem. Intel has been steadily increasing its production capacity of the popular CPUs since November.
The average user would never dream of paying four figures for a processor, and even today's $1,500 budget boxes can end up being very capable rigs with the right parts selection. Even still, there exists a market for high-end silicon, and Intel's Extreme series always command a premium. But this time around, Intel might be looking to give enthusiasts a break.
Rumor has it that Intel will serve up its delicious 3.2GHz Extreme series Bloomfield processor at just $999 in thousand-unit tray quantities. While that might not appear to be a bargain at first glance, it's a full $500 cheaper compared to the current cream of the crop, the Core 2 Extreme QX9700. If the rumor holds true, the new pricing will mark a return to the way Intel used to price its flagship Extreme model.
Intel is also expected to introduce a performance chip clocked at 2.93GHz at a much easier to swallow $562 price point, and a mainstream model at 2.66GHz for $284.
For those that haven't been following, Intel's much anticipated Bloomfield (Nehalem) processors will introduce a new socket with 1366 pins and finally bring an integrated memory controller to the table.
What sort of crafty tricks can AMD be working on to get them out of their slump? A little poking around finds some juicy details in a report from DailyTech.com on a new socket architecture to support AMD’s planned 8 and 12 core CPUs in 2010. Socket G34 has supplanted the planned G3 socket that was to replace Socket F (1207). As far as AMDs documentation goes, G3 ceased to exist in March 2008.
Socket G34 will support AMDs two new 2nd generation 45nm processors, the 8 core San Paolo, and a monster 12 core now named Magny-Cours. Both of these processors will feature four HyperTransport 3 interconnects, 12MB of L3 cache and 512KB L2 cache per core. AMDs current roadmap claims standard support will include speeds from 800 to 1600 MHz.
DailyTech.com also counted 1974 pin connects on a leaked G34 diagram, which is 767 more pins than AMD's current LGA1207 socket.
2010 is a long time away in computer terms, and anything can happen with company roadmaps. As things stand AMD will launch Shanghai and Intel will launch Nehalem by the end of this year. It doesn’t appear that Shanghai will be a serious contender with Nehalem according to leaked documents from Sun (but you never know until you have the CPUs in hand), so I am expecting status quo in 2009, but hoping for better. However, things look to get interesting in the processor wars in 2010, so we definitely have something to look forward to.
What do you think, is 2010 the year for an AMD comeback?
The floodgates have opened and you can expect to see plenty of manufacturers rolling out new notebooks built around Intel's Centrino 2 platform in the coming weeks. Leading the charge, MSI jumps on board with its GX620, a Centrino-2-based notebook equipped with the company's exclusive Turbo Drive Engine Technology; when in AC mode, pushing the turbo button ramps up the CPU clockspeed.
Further power management duties come courtesy of MSI's new ECO Engine. An ECO quick launch touch sensor gives users the ability to switch between five different modes - Gaming mode, Movie mode, Presentation mode, Office mode, and Turbo Battery mode - with each one automatically adjusting the brightness and distributing power where it's needed most to prolong battery life, the company claims.
Find out what MSI's packing under the hood after the jump.
Flip someone the bird and they'll know just what you're telling them. But wave your hand in front of your monitor all you want, and no matter how many times you've watched Obi-Wan use the Force, you're just not going to manipulate your PC. At least not yet.
Toshiba's Qosmio G55-Q802 looks to the change the way you interact with your PC by reading hand signals. Make a fist and move it around to control the mouse pointer, or flip your thumb up like Fonzie to select an object. Force-push won't work, but raising an open palm will tell the system to stop or resume video playback, giving you hands-free media control.
Built around the Centrino 2 platform, an Intel processor performs most of the tasks on the G55, but to read hand signals the laptop will use a quad-core HD processor powered by the same Cell processor found in Playstation 3 consoles. The Cell also lets the PC scan videos and index every new face it finds.
While AMD battles its stock price doldrums and feels the pinch of it’s acquisition of ATI, Intel posted record second quarter earnings of $9.5 billion, operating income of $2.3 billion, net income of $1.6 billion and earnings per share (EPS) of 28 cents.
"Intel had another strong quarter with revenue at the high end of expectations and earnings up substantially year over year," said Paul Otellini, Intel president and CEO. "As we enter the second half, demand remains strong for our microprocessor and chipset products in all segments and all parts of the globe."
This is great news for Intel, but serves to highlight AMD’s woes.
AMD’s disappointing Phenom launch and lackluster processor performance combined with Intel’s pressure on processor prices is a heavy rock around AMD’s neck. It’s important to note that AMD hasn’t been idle and has some pretty interesting things in stock. Not the least of which is the catching up with Nvidia in GPUs, but also their Spider platform, and next generation processor. There is no doubt the pressure is on. AMD needs to deliver a hit. They need it and we, the PC enthusiasts, need AMD. Without a serious competitor innovation can stagnate and prices are sure to rise.