For a long time, both Intel and AMD relied on ever increasing clockspeeds for each new processor release. That still remains the case today, but to a much lesser degree. Case in point - Intel's long retired Northwood line topped out at 3.4GHz, or 200MHz faster than the zippiest Core i7 processor currently on the market.
The future of chip design has shifted to where multiple cores is now main factor, supported by larger cache, on die memory controllers, expanded instruction sets, and other secondary concerns. That's all well and good that AMD and Intel are on the same page, which puts the onus on software developers to catch up, but at least one group of researchers believes we're headed for an unpleasant surprise.
Hit the jump to find out why more cores may not translate into better performance.
Don't read DDR2's eulogy just yet, the last generation memory standard still has some life left. Citing un-named motherboard makers, DigiTimes says the DDR3 generation won't fully take hold until sometime in 2010.
AMD and Intel were both expected to push DDR3-only platforms in 2009, but neither one is ready to fully commit. For Intel's part, DigiTimes claims demand for its Core i7 processors and X58 chipsets hasn't yet met expectations, prompting the chip maker t postpone its DDR3-only 5-series chipsets until much later in the year, likely around September.
Rival chip maker AMD isn't in a position to push DDR3-only platforms either, but it has more to do with technical difficulties than less-than-expected demand, says DigiTimes. According to the report, the struggling chip maker hasn't yet achieved full stability and compatibility with the DDR3-controller that comes integrated in the company's AM3-based processors.
Meanwhile, the memory market continues to struggle, resulting in some tantalizing DDR2 and DDR3 prices all around. A 4GB DDR2-1066 kit can now be bought for under $50, or half that if willing to play the mail-in-rebate game. A 4GB DDR3-1333 kit runs a bit higher at around $70 and up, or around $150 for a 6GB triple channel kit. Kind of makes you sick to think back on that enthusiast 2GB DDR2 kit you paid over $200 for just a couple of short years ago.
As the memory market can attest, it's become a tough proposition to try and sell computer components for a profit. But it's not just memory; motherboards and videocards have been on the decline since Q3 2008, and according to Henry Lu, VP of products at MSI, the market won't see any further expansion.
It gets even worse. Lu contends that a top four motherboard maker -- Asus, Gigabyte, ECS, or MSI -- will drop out of the market within the next few years due to the inability of the market to support the growth of all four. It may seem inconceivable that one of the industry's stalwarts should ultimately exit stage left, but one only need look back at Abit's recent fall from grace as a grim reminder of how quickly the game can change.
And speaking of Abit, it's because of them and other second-tier mobo makers exiting the market that the big four can scrape by for the next three years, Lu says, but then something has to give. If Lu's prediction comes true, the question is, who will be the one to leave? Ironically, it's MSI who seems poised to fall if looking strictly at motherboard shipments. In 2008, Asus shipped around 21 million mobos, the same amount as ECS. Gigabyte trailed slightly behind at 19 million, and MSI was the least active shipping around 16 million.
The runaway train wreck of memory lawsuits started by Rambus may finally be coming to an end. In a U.S. District Court, Judge Sue L. Robinson has ruled that Rambus’s patent suit against Micron Technologies is “unenforceable”. In her ruling she specifically cites “spoliation”, which is defined as the “destruction or alteration of evidence”. Essentially Rambus has been accused of failing to preserve documents that could be admitted as evidence. This news comes as an incredible relief to Micron Technologies, the single largest U.S. manufacturer of memory chips. Though this ruling is specific to the Micron case, if it holds up in the inevitable appeal, several other companies facing Rambus lawsuits such as Nvidia, Samsung, Hitachi, and Hynix may also be spared.
Judge Robinson also voiced her disapproval for Rambus’s aggressive tactics by using lawsuits against competitors. In her ruling she quotes a specific email from September 29th 1999 whereby the author declares the “need to sue a dram company to set an example”. The email also specifically states that they should attempt to publicize the patents and lawsuits to “put all dram/controller companies that use sdram/ddr….on notice.”
Rambus has publically denounced the ruling and according to senior vice president Tom Lavelle, “"We respectfully, but strongly, disagree with this opinion, and at the appropriate juncture plan to appeal." "This opinion is highly inconsistent with the findings of the Court in the Northern District of California which looked at the same conduct and found there was nothing improper with our document retention practices. We are confident in the strength of our position and will continue to vigorously pursue fair compensation for the use of our patented inventions."
When Nvidia unveiled its G200 GPU, we were immediately drawn to the shiny, speedy GeForce GTX 280. Why wouldn’t we be? With high core and memory clocks and 240 stream processors to churn through the toughest shaders, it was sexy and fast. We were less excited about the 260, which sported 192 stream processors and slower clocks speeds but cost about $100 less than the 280 (at the time). Since then, ATI has released its R700-based Radeon 4870, which outperforms the original 260 but costs the same amount.
And that’s where the Core 216 edition of the 260 GTX comes in. With the same stock clock speeds but 24 more shader processors than the original, the new version of the 260 GTX delivers comparable performance to the 4870 at a similar price. The speeds and feeds are about the same as the original 260’s, although EVGA clocked this card’s core at 626MHz (up from 576MHz stock) and includes 896MB of GDDR3 running on a 448-bit bus at 1053MHz (stock is 999MHz).
The 4870 X2 outperformed the previous single-card performance champ in most of our benchmarks, delivering playable frame rates at 1920x1200 and 2560x1600 in nearly every game we tested. Naturally, the exception remains Crysis, which, at its highest quality settings, punishes nearly every system we’ve tested. We’re slightly concerned about the accuracy of our Crysis benchmarks; the ATI card seemed to render far-off textures at a higher resolution than the Nvidia card.
As always with high-end cards, if you’re running a low-resolution display—pretty much anything below 1920x1200—you won’t be able to harness the full power of this card. At lower resolutions, the 4870 X2 performs exactly the same as the single-GPU 4870. For anyone running a high-res panel, the X2 truly kicks ass.
We’ve made no secret of the fact that we love the pulse-pounding speed that ATI’s Radeon 4870 X2 boards deliver, but there’s a new speed king in town—the GeForce GTX 295. On paper, the two GPUs on the 295 fall somewhere between the GTX 260 and GTX 280, but this board delivers a crushing performance blow to ATI’s fastest part.
Though many people are keenly awaiting the commercial launch of USB 3.0, it is advisable that they subdue their alacrity a touch as it will take some time for the technology to warm-up. A prototype USB 3.0 hard drive being showcased at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show is only able to manage read speeds up to 1320Mb/s and writes speeds of up to 1000Mb/s, which is around a quarter of what is possible with USB 3.0.
A representative for the USB Implementers Forum also confirmed to TG Daily that it will take a bit of time before devices begin to fully tap the potential of the new technology.
Fujitsu will have to wait longer to get rid of its blighted hard disk drive business as talks between the Japanese company and Western Digital failed to bear any results. Kuniaki Nozoe, Fujitsu’s President, stated in the most unequivocal fashion possible that the deal is off. According to him, the talks fell off after Western Digital refused to accede to Fujitsu’s demands.
Fujitsu was keen on selling its Japanese plants and the ones abroad as a bundle. It even insisted upon most of the people employed in its hard drive business retaining their jobs. According to a Japanese newspaper, the asking price was $550 million.
The advent of triple channel memory has opened the door to a whole new world of marketing jargon, including the latest windy kit from G.Skill dubbed 'Perfect Storm.'
Like A-Data's recently announced DDR3-2133X kit, G.Skill's Perfect Storm modules come with a funktastic looking two-fan active air cooling solution with blue LEDs, only G.Skill's kit calls for a much less frightening 1.65V compared to A-Data's 2.05V - 2.15V.
The 6-layer Perfect Storm series tout 7-8-7-20, 2T memory timings at DDR3-2000 (PC3-16000), and like all tri-channel modules are designed for Intel's X58 platform. G.Skill also claims "a rigorous, 100 percent hand-tested regime" for its new memory, which, in theory, means the kit should work out of the box with minimal futzing in the BIOS for those sometimes elusive compatibility settings.
G.Skill says its Perfect Storm series will be offered in both 3GB (3x1GB) and 6GB (3x2GB) capacities. No word yet on pricing or availability.