AMD looks poised to kick off 2009 with a bang. Earlier this week, rumors surfaced of an updated CPU roadmap for the chip maker, which showed the suits in Santa Clara gearing up to release six new Phenom II X4 processors, along with various Athlon-branded chips. According to DigiTimes, AMD also has a few new chipsets on tap for the new year.
On the lower end, AMD will release its 760G chipset, an entry-level IGP part based on the RS780 architecture. DirectX10 and Shader Model 4.0 will both be represented in the760G, but noticeably absent will be the company's Unified Video Decoder (UVD), Hybrid CrossFireX technology, and HDMI and DisplayPort connectors.
A bit higher on the performance scale will be AMD's 790FX and 790GX IGP chipsets, both of which will support AM3 and the SB750 southbridge. Later in the year, AMD will introduce its RS880 IGP chipset, followed by the RD890 in September.
Apple is finding it extremely difficult to avoid being in Greenpeace’s cross hairs. Nearly a year ago, Greenpeace branded the iPhone as “toxic”. Now, the organization has flayed Apple’s pompous claim that its Macbook line of notebooks are the greenest there are.
The Macbook range of notebooks scored a highly disappointing 4.3 out of a possible 10 points on the organization’s green index. Greenpeace did laud Apple, though very frugally, for doing away with bromide flame-retardants and other toxic plastics. But it clearly believes that Apple should take more steps to substantiate its towering claims.
Greenpeace has put the ball in Apple’s court by asking it “to commit to phasing out additional substances with timelines, improve its policy on chemicals and its reporting on chemicals management.”
Intel has released a new mainstream Core 2 Quad processor in the Q8300. The new 45nm chip comes clocked at 2.5GHz on a 1333MHz front side bus just like the Q9300, but with 4MB of L2 cache instead of 6MB. Look for the chip to sell for around $224.
The new CPU will also likely mark the end of the line for Intel's Core 2 Quad lineup, at least for the immediate future. Of course, Intel will continue to make quad-core processors, just not for the suddenly defunct Core 2 platform. Instead, the company appears to moving all of its efforts to Core i7 and, as Stanley Huang, director of marketing and technical services of Intel's Asia Pacific division said in a statement, boosting Centrino 2's penetration rate.
Huang also reaffirmed that the company's Calpella platform is on schedule despite rumors that it might be delayed for a 2010 launch.
Forget about chocolate, flowers, or diamonds, because the real buying decision come Valentine's Day will be what processor to indulge in. It's no stretch to say the entire tech world will remain infatuated with Intel's Core i7 platform by the time February rolls around, but Intel won't be the only one trying to woo consumers. According to DigiTimes, motherboard manufacturers are busy preparing for a sextuplet of 45nm quad-core AM3-based CPUs from AMD in February.
Phenom II X4 710 (2.6GHz, 6MB L3 cache)
Phenom II X4 720 (2.8GHz, 6MB L3 cache)
Phenom II X4 805 (2.5GHz, 4MB L3 cache)
Phenom II X4 810 (2.6GHz, 4MB L3 cache)
Phenom II X4 910 (2.6GHz, 6MB L3 cache)
Phenom II X4 925 (2.8GHz, 6MB L3 cache)
The same sources that have been whispering sweet-somethings to DigiTimes also say that AMD will follow up it's busy February release schedule with more 45nm CPUs in April, but they won't be Phenom parts. Instead, look for Athlon-branded chips without the shared L3 cache. Additionally, the chip maker plans to release the quad-core Athlon X4 600 family and tri-core Athlon X3 family at the same time. And if you can wait until June, sources say AMD will introduce it's 45nm dual-core Athlon X2 200 series.
Troubleshooting a dead motherboard can be enough of a pain in the backside all on its own, but once you've reached the conclusion that your board has given up the ghost, the prospect of a lengthy wait for a replacement only adds insult to injury. Asus seeks to alleviate this frustration with its new Asus Premium Service (APS) program, which offers eligible motherboard owners the option of having a replacement board cross-shipped free of charge.
"ASUS offers today’s discerning motherboard customer the widest range of choice for enthusiast platforms,” said Sales Director Timothy Lin of ASUS North America. “By combining the most stable motherboards and unique features with comprehensive customer support, we expect ASUS motherboards to remain the enthusiast’s first choice."
Initially, a pair of X58-based boards qualify for the program along with several other high end models, including the latest Republic of Gamers (ROG) mobos.The no-cost advance-RMA service is good for one year after the original purchase date and a valid credit card is required. More details can be found on Asus' APS Service Terms page.
One of the concerns in the transition to Core i7-based platforms was how Intel's new chips would fare with DDR3 memory exceeding 1.65V. Early reports warned that the higher voltage kits might potentially pose a risk to the processor, prompting memory makers to focus on triple-channel kits with lower voltage than their dual-channel counterparts. But voltage restrictions could become even less of a concern now that Elpida has completed its development of a 50nm process DDR3 SDRAM.
Elpida claims its new DRAM features the lowest power consumption in the industry, requiring as little as 1.2V, making them good candidates for eco-conscious server environments and data centers. The 2.5Gbps-capable chips can also operate at 1.5V and Elpida says initial applications will include high-end desktops.
Mass production of the 50nm chips is scheduled to being in Q1 2009.
Staving off the upgrade bug while waiting for the inevitable next best thing that's always just around the corner can cause you to be in a perpetual state of limbo. But if you've been suffering from this phenomenon since the AGP days, now might be the perfect time to pull the trigger. Not only has Intel released it's Core i7 platform, but if your aging AGP videocard is a qualified BFG-branded unit, you might be able to score a free or low-cost ($50) PCI-E upgrade.
"Now, for a limited time, if you send us your BFG AGP card in good, working condition, we'll send you the PCI Express equivalent at no cost to you," BFG wrote on its AGP-to-PCI-E promotional page. "If you want to upgrade to an even better performing card, there is a nominal fee to do so. Offer good for U.S. customers only."
Furthermore, BFG's claim that the free PCI-E upgrade is equivalent to its AGP counterpart might be a bit modest in certain circumstances. For example, BFG will upgrade owners of GeForce 6800OC AGP videocards with just a 128MB frame buffer to a 9600GT OC PCI-E card with 512MB of memory. The same 9600GT OC is used for all but one of the free upgrades and the performance levels out as you move up the AGP food chain, but for $50, users can instead opt for a 9800GT OC.
The offer is available for a limited time, though BFG has not specified a more specific time frame. Current AGP owners will need to register their cards with BFG if they haven't already done so. But don't fret if you've lost the receipt - BFG says no proof of purchase will be required.
Earlier this year, a jury ruled that Rambus, a designer and licensor of memory chips, did not obtain patents for memory technology through fraud or anti-competitive means. The ruling essentially gave Rambus the right to continue its practice of suing anyone and everyone involved in memory production that isn't already paying the company royalties.
Among those companies are Samsung, the world's largest memory-chip maker, Hynix, the second largest memory chip producer, Micron, and Nanya. And each of them will have to defend against claims of wrongdoing as Rambus has won a pretrial ruling alleging chipmakers infringed on one claim of a patent in a case scheduled to go to trial on January 19, 2009.
According to Jeff Schreiner, an analyst at San Diego-based Capstone Investments, the ruling by U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte means that Whyte "already found one claim for Rambus that they won't have to argue." In the past, Whyte has denied Rambus' requests for similar pretrial rulings over 10 other elements of its patents. Those previous claims, which cover alleged infringement on both DDR2 and DDR3 technology, will also be argued during the January trial.
For a long while, Intel's Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor remained a popular choice in the DIY community. The 2.4GHz chip, helped in part by an aggressive round of price-cuts, brought quad-core computing to the mainstream. It became even more popular when Intel released the G0 stepping, which ushered in lower temps and higher overclocking potential.
But there's no looking in the rear-view mirror for Intel, and with the chip maker's Core i7 stepping into the limelight, it's come time to retire the aging 65nm Q6600. Citing un-named sources at PC vendors, DigiTimes reports that Intel plans to phase out the vintage quad-core chip in Q1 2009 by issuing a product discontinuance notice.
The Q6600's impending end-of-life could come as good news to those in need of a quad-core upgrade while remaining fiscally responsible. In all likelihood, vendors will again cut the Q6600's price as they look to clear out inventory before the end of the year. Stocking stuffer, perhaps?
It's only a matter of time before someone comes up with a Fatal1ty brand energy drink (if it hasn't been done already), but in the meantime, Jonathan Wendel continues to have his gaming moniker marketed on more PC components, the latest being a line of power supplies by OCZ.
"These high-performance power supplies were co-developed with the expertise of Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel, 12-time World champion, to meet the specific needs of fellow gamers," OCZ wrote in a press release. "OCZ Fatal1ty Professional Series PSUs feature incredible performance to power the latest graphics cards and hard drives."
The new 'co-developed' Fatal1ty power supplies will come in three configurations to start with, including a non-modular 400W, modular 550W, and non-modular 700W unit with a single +12V rail. All three power supplies are 80-plus certified and sport a red-LED 120mm fan. The 550W and 700W units also boast SLI-certification.
The PSUs are backed by 5-year (700W) and 3-year warranties (400W and 550W). No word yet on pricing or availability.