XFX surprised a lot of people when the company announced it would begin selling ATI videocards, and perhaps none more surprised than Nvidia. Formerly exclusive to Nvidia, XFX made its ATI debut last month with five Radeon videocards, the HD 4870, 4850, 4830, 4650, and 4350.
Curiously missing from the lineup was ATI's flagship 4870 X2 graphics card, but that's no longer the case. XFX has just released the dual-GPU card in time for Valentine's Day.
"Love is power, if you’re a gamer, that is," XFX wrote in a press release. "Which is why if you—or the object of your affection—is into speed, power, or better yet, the most amazing combination of both, the new XFX Radeon™ HD 4870 X2 graphics card is truly cupid’s arrow."
Unless your significant other is a hardcore gamer, you're probably better off sticking with diamonds, chocolate, and flowers on the upcoming Hallmark holiday (and don't call it that in front of her). But if she's a true geek, what better way to show your love than with one of the fastest videocards on the planet with a lifetime warranty to boot?
Overclocking can kill your CPU. It can corrupt your OS, melt your motherboard, and cause you to lose a month’s work or more. Despite those dire orange-alert warnings, however, overclocking has moved on from the Nerd’s Only Club to become practically a mainstream hobby in the last few years.
So why overclock if the risks are so great? For some folks, it’s about bragging rights. Like drag-strip racers who burn up an engine just to set a quarter-mile record, there’s a small community who will overclock a CPU to the brink of destruction just to run a benchmark and take a screen shot of the result.
The bulk of overclockers, however, are more concerned with the cost dividends. If you can take a $300 CPU and make it as fast or faster than one that costs $1,000, the money you save can go toward other components in your system. For these folks, it’s like getting a free high-end videocard.
Whether you’re a cheapskate or a drag racer, you’ll find that Intel’s new Core i7 CPU is unlike any previous Intel CPU, and overclocking this beast requires more tinkering than you might expect. Follow along as we explore what it takes to push this chip hard.
Don't worry, that 6GB triple-channel DDR3 kit you just picked up for your new Core i7 build isn't going to go out of style any time soon, but Samsung did take us one step closer to DDR4 this week. The memory chip maker said it has developed and validated its first 40nm DRAM chip, and if all goes to plan, it will consume nearly a third less power than current 50nm chips.
Samsung's shrunken chip technology will first be used in a 1GB DDR2-800 SO-DIMM module and has been validated for Intel's GM45 platform. The company also said it plans to apply its 40nm technology to develop a 2Gbit DDR3 device for mas production by the end of the year.
"This definitely moves Samsung ahead very aggressively in terms of its manufacturing facilities," said Bob Merritt, a founding partner of market research firm Convergent Semiconductors LLC
But the biggest news is Samsung's claim that the move to 40nm is "a significant step" toward developing "ultra-high performance DRAM technologies" like DDR4, though the company didn't offer any other details.
For more than a year, LG has been sitting pretty with the only 6x Blu-ray burner available for retail, but now that Sony’s BWU 300S offers 8x BD-R write speeds, LG’s supremacy has come to an end. Sort of.
The 300S is uncommonly fast—given the right circumstances. The drive managed to fill a 25GB BD-R disc with data in a blistering 13:56 (min:sec), compared with the LG GBW-H20L’s time of 22:16, but only when the drive was fed manufacturer-recommended Panasonic 6x media. And good luck finding that—our online search for the media was fruitless. When using more common 4x media, the 300S stuck closely to that speed rating, taking 22:56 to complete the same task.
According to a report by DigiTimes, Kingston Technology is vouching for memory chip maker ProMOS Technologies and has agreed to act as a guarantor for the latter's application for a syndicated loan worth approximately $148 million. Of that $148 million, which is to be paid by nine local banks, Kingston has reportedly agreed to guarantee somewhere between $44 to $60 million.
Memory chip makers have found themselves in dire straights over slumping memory prices and an unforgiving global economy. The situation has gotten so bad that Qimonda, one of the world's top 10 memory chip suppliers, recently filed for bankruptcy. ProMOS has also been struggling, suffering losses adding up to $675 million in the first three quarters of 2008. Earlier this month, ProMOS submitted its application for a government-led bailout package.
Seagate this week announced a new line of hard drives aimed at enterprise environments. Dubbed "Constellation," Seagate's new drives come in both 2.5- and 3.5-inch form factors and boast both high capacities and power efficiency.
The 2.5-inch Constellation model comes in 160GB and 500GB capacities offering both 3Gb/s SATA and SAS 2.0 interface (6Gb/s). Seagate says that by utilizing the new SAS protocol, the Constellation hard drives make possible larger external storage topologies, twice the data throughput, and a higher signal strength over longer distances. Dell has already jumped on board as one of the first OEMs planning to offer the Constellation series.
Of more interest to desktop users, the 3.5-inch Constellation ES model comes in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacities, the latter of which currently ranks as the highest capacity hard drive available (Western Digital also recently released a 2TB drive in Australia).
The 2.5-inch Constellation will begin shipping this quarter, with the 3.5-inch Constellation expected to ship in Q3.
We were pumped when we heard that Seagate had broken through the terabyte barrier with its 1.5TB Barracuda drive—it’s not only the biggest consumer drive available, but also represents the largest jump in capacity we’ve seen. We typically expect capacity increases to be accompanied by performance decreases, but this drive is quick on its feet despite its gargantuan size.
Thanks to perpendicular recording, the Barracuda manages to pack 1.5TB of capacity onto four 375GB platters on a 7,200rpm spindle with a 32MB cache, which allows it to keep pace with four-platter 1TB drives like the terabyte Barracuda and the WD Caviar Black.
We have to give Antec points for bucking the mainstream: The Skeleton is a seriously cool-looking case. The motherboard rests horizontally, so the case’s footprint is much wider than that of a standard tower chassis, but it’s also shorter. The open design and sliding component tray make it easy to swap parts in and out, and installation is quick and relatively painless. The Super Big Boy LED fan, which truly is both super and big, dominates the top of the case, keeping air moving over all your components, and the open design ensures that there’s plenty of airflow. A smaller fan mounts in front of the hard drive bay for additional cooling.
Removing two spring-loaded thumbscrews lets you slide out the component tray about three quarters of the way, providing easy access to the motherboard as well as the optical and hard drives. The side panels remove easily, and there’s a sliding bay for the power supply. But screwless this case ain’t. Your Phillips head screwdriver will be a constant companion.
Germany-based chip maker Qimonda, who held a 10 percent share of the DRAM market in Q3 2008, becomes the first major memory chip maker to file for bankruptcy following the rapid decline of memory chip prices. As a result, DRAM pricing has spiked by as much as 26 percent, a trend which is expected to continue in the short-term.
Qimonda continues to operate, but for how long is anyone's guess. The company's bankruptcy filing follows a failed attempt to secure investment funds, and because Qimonda owes Inotera Memories and Winbond Electronics millions of dollars, the two chip partners refuse to ship any more chips to the bankrupt company.
Other chip makers might not be far behind Qimonda. In November 2008, DRAMeXchange stated "the DRAM industry has entered the key adjusting state of 'reduce or retire,'" and according to iSuppli, many of the world's top 10 memory chip suppliers will see major declines in revenue.
AMD can use any help it can get, and for awhile, the chip maker looked like it was going to get it from a 3.6GHz Phenom II X4 quad-core processor. Not only would that represent the fastest-clocked quad-core by either AMD or Intel, but it would also be the fastest-clocked processor regardless of cores.
German website News-AMD recently said AMD would release the speedy 45nm chip in Q2 2009, but it appears the site was mistaken. According to TomsHardware, the site went offline due to "incorrect interpretation," and is now back online with an updated release schedule. Rather than Q2 2009, the site says a 3.6GHz Phenom II X4 is likely by the end of the decade, which means potentially waiting until 2010.
In the meantime, AMD's Phenom II X4 950 (3.1GHz) is still expected to debut in Q2 2009 with support for socket AM3. The new chip will support DDR3-1333 memory, come with a 4GHz HyperTransport interface speed, boast 8MB of cache, and have a 125W thermal envelope.