We've said it before and we'll say it again - it's a great time to be a PC gamer. While ATI and Nvidia continue to go at each other's throats, it's the consumers who benefit with faster cards for less money than has traditionally been the case. Now the situation looks to get even better.
With a focus on the budget market, ATI's HD 4600 series looks to offer reasonable gaming performance for an even more reasonable sub-$100 price tag. The HD 4650 will carry an MSRP of just $69, which buys a 512MB frame buffer, 320 stream processing units, a core clockspeed of 600MHz, and a 500MHz memory clockspeed. Naturally with a price so low, cuts had to be made somewhere and the 4650 will sport just a 128-bit memory bus.
For $10 more, the HD 4670 carries the same specs, but faster core and memory clockspeeds of 750MHz and 1000MHz, respectively. Unfortunately for overclockers, overclocking the 4650 won't put it on par with the 4670, as the former uses GDDR2 and the latter GDDR3.
Both cards also continues ATI's focus into the living room with HTPC friendly features such as the company's Unified Video Decoder (UVD), Avivo HD technology, and support for 7.1 surround sound through HDMI.
Looking back to when Intel's Core 2 architecture was still a blip on a roadmap, enthusiasts were cautiously optimistic over the promised performance gains. And rightfully so, considering the burn that the chip maker's hot running Penryn put on end users. But as we now know, it turns out Intel was every bit justified in hyping its new architecture, putting a (perhaps temporary) end to AMD's Cinderella story.
And so here we are again eagerly anticipating Intel's next architecture, only this time we're slightly less apprehensive regarding the company's ability to deliver now that Netburst has been nixed. Unfortunately, the chips formerly known as Nehalem are still under lock and key, but that hasn't stopped details on the Core i7 lineup from making its way to the web. According to reports, three processors are slated for a November 2008 release:
Core i7 920 (mainstream) - 2.66GHz
Core i7 940 (performance) - 2.93GHz
Core i7 965 (extreme) - 3.20GHz
Differences in clockspeeds aside, all three models will be quad-core parts built on a 45nm manufacturing process with 256KB of L2 cache per core and 8MB of shared L3 cache. Each one also comes with a 130W TDP rating, so don't be surprised if they run hot, assuming the rumored specs hold true.
Pricing on the 920, 940, and 965 in thousand unit quantities looks to be $284, $562,and $999 respectively.
Wondering what exactly AMD has in store for 2009? So is everyone else, which would explain the sometimes conflicting speculation making the rounds on the web. But for the real scoop, TomsHardware claims it has "some confirmed information thanks to [credible] inside sources."
If the sources prove accurate (and THW feels confident they will), AMD's upcoming socket AM3 platform is being designed to exclude AM2 and AM2+ parts. AM3 will support DDR3-1333 memory, and expect a move away from Diode based thermal monitoring to Thermal Sense Interface (TSI) monitoring.
Also on tap for 2009 are two new AM2+ Deneb chips shown as launching in January. THG also reports that an AM3-based Deneb chip will launch sometime in February, with tri-core AM3 chips making a debut by April or May of next year.
If you haven't heard, ATI's HD 4870 kicks some serious gaming ass. Nvidia's received the message loud and clear, so the company's gone back to the drawing board and now plans to release a revised version of its GTX 260 videocard. The tweaked GTX 260 pushes the number of stream shaders from 192 up to 216, expected to result in a 5-10 percent performance increase. To prevent confusion in the market place with existing GTX 260s, speculation suggests the new card may carry a 'Gold' moniker.
This isn't the first time in recent memory that Nvidia has revised an existing SKU, with the company earlier this summer shrinking the 9800 GTX's core from 65nm to 55nm and boosting clockspeeds, which resulted in the 9800 GTX+. But this time around, DigiTimes reports graphics card makers are voicing concerns that the Gold release will leave them with an oversupply of original GTX 260 cards that no one wants. Whether those fears prove founded or not depends on how Nvidia plans to price the new release, which so far has not yet been announced.
There's no official word yet, but there's speculation that Intel might release it's six-core Dunnington chips next week at VMWare's VMWorld conference in Las Vegas. Dunnington isn't being aimed at the desktop crowd and will instead target the server market, so if Intel was looking to make a splash with its new CPUs before Nehalem debuts, VMWorld would be the place to do it.
For those that missed our coverage earlier this month, Intel's Xeon 7400 series Dunnington processor will not only be the first six-core CPU, but also the first Intel chip to sport a monolithic design, meaning all six cores will come on one slice of silicon. Current generation chips feature multiple cores in one package. Despite being monolithic in nature, Dunnington will still use an external memory controller, which Intel hopes to offset with a generous amount of cache. The six cores will share a beefy 16MB of L3 cache, and 3MB of L2 cache (9MB total).
Integrated graphics are typically of little interest to power users, but as onboard GPUs continue to develop, such solutions quickly become tempting for a secondary rig, kids' PC, or any other setup that has no aspirations for playing Crysis. If you fall into one of those latter categories, you may want to hold off for a couple of weeks before shelling out for a motherboard.
According to DigiTimes, Nvidia will launch its MCP7A IGP chipset by the end of the month, which will bring an integrated GeForce 9-series graphics core to the table. Two versions are being planned, with the MCP7A-U featuring a GeForce 9400 GPU and the MCP7A-S coming equipped with a GeForce 9300 GPU. Both GPUs will be identical in architecture, except the 9400 will come with a core clockspeed of 580MHz and shader frequency of 1,500MHz, whereas the 9300's core and shader will come clocked at 450MHz and 1200MHz respectively.
On the chipset front, the MCP7A chipset brings support for a 1333MHz frontside bus, up to 6 SATA ports, up to 12 USB ports, and RAID 0/1/0+1 and 5. Some motherboards will also support Nvidia's Hybrid technology when paired with a third party videocard.
Oops! Elsa, a supplier of Nvidia-based graphics cards, recently showed some slides during a press event outlining Nvidia's enthusiast product roadmap, one of which has been leaked and is spreading through the web. The slide appears to show Nvidia readying two new high end GPUs set to launch later this year and in Q1 '09.
The GT212 looks to replace the GTX280 on the top of the GPU food chain, with the GT206 replacing the GTX260. What's interesting about the new cards is that the naming schemes would appear to position them below the cards each one is replacing, but the leaked slide clearly shows both higher up on the performance scale. Speculation suggests the new cards will likely see a die shrink
The slide also shows another 9800GTX+ (HDV version) to be released this quarter, but like the others, specifics so far remain scarce.
Anyone who has recently put together a DDR2-based system would have found themselves jumping for joy when pricing out system memory. Kits that commanded a premium less than two years ago can now be had for under $100, and that's before any applicable mail-in-rebates. Even name-brand 4GB kits are insanely affordable, and the days of having to spend several hundred dollars on newer DDR3 modules are gone, at least now.
The low pricing structure has been that way for some time now, and while system builders couldn't be happier about it, the mood is decidely different among DRAM manufacturers. Both Elpida Memory and Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation (PSC) have said they plan to cut production, just as other manufacturers have done, but so far it has done little to correct the oversupply problem the DRAM industry faces. And according to A-DATA chairman Simon Chen, improvement is only likely to come if a memory chip maker decides to leave the market. Chen went on to say that 2008 has been the worst year for DRAM in the past 15 years.
Eventually the market will bounce back. If you're in the market for RAM, consider buying sooner than later and enjoy the rock bottom pricing while it still exists. And hey, if you know of a good deal on memory, hit the jump and let us know!
It can be argued that AMD didn't start to build an enthusiast following until the Barton days. Back then, the company's efficient processors not only held their own in performance, but destroyed Intel when it came to the bang/buck factor, both in regards to processor pricing and the overall platform (you could pick up a high end AMD motherboard for under $200). Ever since Intel finally responded with its Core 2 architecture, AMD has had a tougher time competing on the performance front, forcing AMD to slash prices, and that's what happening again. In addition to price cuts, AMD is also expanding its tri-core line.
The newly announced Phenom X3 8450e comes clocked at 2.1GHz and the Phenom X2 8250e putters at 1.9GHz. Both processors sport 512KB of L2 cache and 2MB of L3 cache, and both also come rated with a 65W TDP, compared to 95W for AMD's standard Phenom tri-core line. No pricing information has yet been announced for either model.
On the higher end, AMD's Phenom X3 8750 Black Edition will bring an unlocked multiplier to the table and cruise along at 2.4GHz. It will come with the same amount of L2 and L3 cache as the 8450e and 8250e processors, but rated at the aforementioned 95W TDP. Pricing has been set to $134 for bulk orders.
So what about the price cuts? AMD will drop it's X3 8450 (without the 'e' designation) down to $104 and X3 8650 down to $119, both in bulk.
If rumors prove correct, AMD plans to keep busy this month. The company is said to be adding to its ATI HD 4000 lineup with a pair of mid-range HD 4600 series videocards, and an entry level 4500 series GPU.
According to reports, the HD 4650 will be based on ATI's RV730 core with 512MB GDDR2 memory. On the slightly higher end, the HD 4670 will come in two flavors, one sporting 512MB of GDDR3 and one with 1GB of GDDR3. Pricing for the new cards are expected to be between $70 to $90.
On the lower end, the HD 4550 will make a debut in late September with a price tag between $45 to $55. A 256MB version will cost $15 less, and in mid-October, the HD 4350 with 256MB of GDDR2 memory will complete AMD's flurry of new low and mid-range videocards.