All good things come to an end, and for AMD fans, the end is nigh for the Sunnyvale chip designer's 45nm SOI (Silicon On Insulator) processors, which will have reached end of life (EOL) status by December 2012. Among the list of soon-to-be deceased chips are five Phenom II processors, including two quad-core X4 CPUs and half a dozen dual-core X2 parts. A moment of silence is in order.
From desktops and all-in-one systems to notebooks and Ultraportable/ultrathin laptops, Intel's Ivy Bridge platform is leaving its mark everywhere you look. Is it time to say 'So long!' to Sandy Bridge? Not quite. Intel isn't gung-ho to send its Sandy Bridge platform to the CPU stockyard, and instead is planning to launch at least two new mobile chips based on last generation's architecture.
Coming up with new CPU designs isn't quite as easy as coming up with new flavors of ice cream. First, you need to figure out exactly what you want the core to accomplish, along with what critical components are needed to meet that goal. Then, after that's sorted, the process moves to a second stage called "design implementation" -- basically, figuring out how to actually make the CPU the architectural engineers dreamed up. It's a long, laborious procedure, but now North Carolina State University researchers claim they've developed a tool to quickly automate the design implementation process.
Now that Ivy Bridge is here, it's time for Intel to start tearing down Sandy Bridge and directing traffic to its newer architecture. And in fact, that's exactly what the Santa Clara chip maker is reportedly planning to do starting in September, though don't expect Sandy Bridge processors to disappear overnight. Instead, Intel will gradually retire Sandy Bridge while simultaneously pushing its Ivy Bridge platform hot and heavy, especially as the back-to-school season approaches.
Qualcomm on Tuesday unveiled an expanded portfolio for its Snapdragon S4 CPU family, breaking the processors down into four categories of concentration, including S4 Prime (HDTVs and set-top boxes), S4 Pro (Windows RT devices), S4 Plus (smartphones and tablets), and S4 Play (entry level mobile devices). Focusing on the S4 Pro series for a moment, reportedly there are Snapdragon S4-powered laptops running Windows RT already in production.
Samsung's Galaxy S III smartphone, which is scheduled to launch in the U.S. later this month, is the newest device to rock Qualcomm's dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, but it surely won't be the last. Qualcomm is eying bigger (literally) and better (arguably) things, likes high definition TVs, tablet PCs, and stationary computing devices running Windows 8. They're all on Qualcomm's radar.
YOU'RE FORGIVEN if you’ve never heard of Phanteks. After all, the company only makes one heatsink, though it comes in four colors, and it’s only been out since last fall. The Phanteks PH-TC14PE consists of a nickel-plated copper heatsink and five thick heat pipes, rising through two sets of anodized aluminum cooling fins in orange, blue, red, or plain ol’ aluminum.
Fans of Austrian engineering might notice that the PH-TC14PE looks a lot like Noctua’s NH-D14. They’re almost exactly the same (massive) size and follow the same basic design. The TC14PE’s box even says “Designed in Europe.” But, see, it’s totally different, because the Phanteks cooler has five thick heat pipes and the Noctua has six smaller-diameter pipes. The Phanteks’ colored fin stack is a tiny bit shorter than the tips of the Noctua’s heat pipes and around a tenth of an inch wider. Also like the Noctua, the Phanteks cooler can interfere with the RAM slots on some motherboards. We couldn’t install it at all on a microATX Rampage IV board, and we had to use RAM without towering heat spreaders on our P9X79 Deluxe board in order to install the Phanteks.
There's a new CPU overclocking record to report and, surprise-surprise (not really), AMD's spunky FX-8150 chip is the one breaking new ground. This time a Taiwanese overclocker who goes by "ksin" was able to push AMD's record setting processor to 8,805MHz (8.8GHz), inching ever closer to the coveted 9GHz mark. It's worth mentioning that these ultra-high frequencies aren't practical because they're not sustainable without a constant dose of LN2, but that's also missing the point.
FINDING A GOOD motherboard is easy. Finding a good microATX motherboard, however, can be more of a chore. That’s because motherboard vendors have almost always associated microATX with budget needs. In addition to losing a couple of expansion slots and some PCB board space, you almost always lose features such as SLI, CrossFire, RAID , premium audio, and other add-ons to help push the price down.
That’s not the case with Asus’s new Rampage IV Gene. Made for premium LGA2011 chips, the Rampage IV Gene caters to builders who want performance but in a microATX form factor. As a Republic of Gamers board, it’s no surprise that the Rampage IV Gene emphasizes features and functionality. RoG boards are Asus’s cream of the crop.
That’s not to say the Rampage IV Gene has all the features of the company’s Rampage IV Extreme board. While the Extreme is truly tweaked for, well, extreme overclockers, the Rampage IV Gene seems better suited to building a compact gaming rig with the intent of normal overclocking, not setting records using liquid-helium.
It hasn't been much of an ARM wrestle in the tablet space up to this point, and it's not because AMD and Intel haven't talked the talk. For the most part, they just haven't walked the walk, which has allowed ARM to dominate the category. That could change once Windows 8 comes into view in a few months, and if Microsoft's upcoming Metro infused OS proves popular on touchscreen tablets, you can expect a dogfight between AMD and Intel.