Newest NUC boasts support for a single 2.5-inch drive
Intel has its eye on the mini PC market with the introduction of its Next Unit of Computing (NUC) systems, though a limitation of early run versions is that they all used mSATA solid state drives. That in itself isn't a deal killer (though mSATA may not be long for this world), but what did cause problems is having the Wi-Fi card plopped right on top of the mSATA SSD. There were several reports of Wi-Fi issues with first run models (which is something we observed ourselves), possibly as a result of overheating, but with the newest NUC kit, Intel added a 2.5-inch drive bay.
Back in 2011, we took a look at the ioSafe SoloPro USB Backup Drive, which offered a lone SATA hard drive wrapped in a bombproof skeleton of steel, ceramic, and plastic. That drive was awarded a 9/Kick Ass verdict for its ability to withstand both fire and water, which is the typical outcome when a house is engulfed in flames then doused by the local fire department. IoSafe recently released a new drive with even more protection, the N2 NAS RAID, which, as its name implies, is two drives in a redundant array in a NAS box. This top-shelf storage device runs a Synology OS and comes with one year of “no questions asked” data recovery service, so you’re covered if you drop the NAS or your kid drops an ice-cream cone into it. This level of protection doesn’t come cheap though, with N2 selling as a “disk-less” shell for $600, with two 1TB drives for $900, 4TB for $1,000, 6TB for $1,500, and 8TB for $2,000. It includes a one-year hardware warranty and one year of data-recovery service, so even if both hard drives are damaged, ioSafe will pay up to $2,500 per terabyte to recover your data.
Note: This review was originally featured in the November 2013 issue of the magazine.
On the same day that Toshiba announced it finalized its acquisition of OCZ Technology, the newly formed and wholly owned subsidiary OCZ Storage Solutions rolled out its first product release, the Vertex 460 SSD Series. The new family of SSDs is an evolution of the 20nm-based Vertex 450 Series. It employs OCZ's proprietary Barefoot 3 (BF3) M10 controller with Toshiba's 19nm multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash memory for a high performance solution at mainstream prices.
AMD just fleshed out its Opteron 6300 Series of server processors with a pair of new chips, one of which is a 12-core part and the other a 16-core offering. These additions to what AMD calls "Warshaw" are intended for enterprise applications and feature AMD's "Piledriver" core architecture. They're also fully socket and software compatible with the existing Opteron 6300 Series.
Toshiba on Wednesday finalized the purchase of OCZ Technology Group, making it a wholly owned subsidiary and thus officially marking the end of an era that began over a decade ago. However, it's also a new beginning of sorts -- or a second chance, if you will -- as Toshiba said the division will operate independently as OCZ Storage Solutions and continue to churn out high performance solid state drives.
Wins in the console sector have paid off handsomely
On hindsight, AMD absolutely made the right decision to purchase ATI, an acquisition that was met with some skepticism among analysts at the time. What those analysts couldn't have predicted is that several years later the PC market would find itself in a slump, leaving AMD to lean heavily on its graphics division. In doing so, AMD posted a profit of $89 million, or 12 cents a share, in the fourth quarter of 2013, rebounding from a $473 million loss, or 63 cents a share, a year prior.
Nvidia already owns the single-GPU performance crown, having plucked it back from the competition with the release of the GeForce GTX 780 Ti graphics card two months ago after AMD snatched it from atop the GeForce GTX Titan's head. Now that it's back where Nvidia feels it rightfully belongs, the GPU maker has no plans of letting it go any time soon and will defend its crown with the upcoming launch of the GeForce GTX Titan Black Edition and dual-GPU GeForce GTX 790 video cards.
Ranking the most and least reliable hard drive brands
Cloud backup firm BackBlaze has posted some interesting data over the course of the past couple of months, including one in which the company talked about estimating the life expectancy of hard drives. Turns out such a task is tricky business even for a firm that keeps over 25,000 HDDs spinning at all times. BackBlaze also posted data suggesting that enterprise drives might actually be less reliable than consumer HDDs, but neither study really answered the question the company is most frequently asked -- which drive should a consumer buy? If failure rate is the only concern, BackBlaze says Hitachi is the most reliable HDD brand around.
Slumping PC sales are affecting Intel's bottom line
It's been a rough stretch for companies invested in the PC market, and that includes Intel, the world's largest semiconductor maker. Intel recently reported its fourth quarter financial results in which it was revealed that revenues from the chip maker's PC Client Group declined 4 percent from 2012. A day later, Intel let it be known that it plans to reduce its global workforce by around 5 percent in 2014.
Hewlett-Packard (HP), the world's second largest PC maker by volume, is giving potential customers the ability to configure systems with Windows 7 instead of Windows 8 or Windows 8.1. The OEM is advertising that Windows 7 is "back by popular demand," and as a bonus, customers can save up to $150 instantly. Based on the available systems, that's a savings of anywhere from 13 percent to 20 percent off the normal price.