After months of making do with 5,400rpm and 5,900rpm 2TB drives and odd-bird 1.5TB drives, it’s finally happening: 7,200rpm two-terabyte hard drives are coming to rigs near you. First out of the gate and into our greedy arms is Western Digital’s 2TB Caviar Black, the performance cousin to the 2TB Caviar Green we reviewed in May. And brother, it’s just what we’ve been waiting for.
The 2TB Caviar Black is spec’d to impress, with four 500GB platters, two processors, 64MB of cache, and a dual-stage actuator system that puts a fine-tuned piezoelectric actuator head at the end of the standard magnetic actuator, enabling fine-tuned tracking for speedy seek times. The Caviar Black also comes with WD’s standard No-Touch ramp loader, so the read/write head never comes in contact with the platters, increasing the drive’s lifespan.
NZXT has been on a budget rampage lately and continues to add to its lineup of enclosures priced in $50 territory. The latest low-priced mid-tower to come off the assembly line is the company's just announced Gamma chassis, and it too will sell for around half a C-note.
Despite the low price tag, NZXT says it placed a "premium on effective airflow," which includes slots for 6 case fans, dedicated VGA/CPU cooling, and a front panel design the company claims allows for extra air to be sucked in. It also includes a few amenities often reserved for higher priced cases, including water-cooling holes, mounting holes for a dual-radiator at the top, and an all-black interior.
"There is no other chassis on the market that offers this kind of feature set for around $50," said Johnny Hou, Chief Designer at NZXT. "For enthusiasts looking to shave some money off their build, Gamma will provide everything you need for a high performance system at a remarkably low price."
Hou's singing a familiar tune that we've heard from the company before, and don't mind hearing again.
Ghosts and goblins aren't the only things you'll see this Halloween. According to news and rumor site Fudzilla, EVGA and Nvidia have joined forces to launch a hybrid graphics card on October 31st.
It's mostly speculation at this point, but the card is rumored to combine GT200b and G92b GPUs onto a single PCB. Why the mix? The GT200b will be responsible for rendering all those pretty graphics while you're saving the universe, and the GT92b will flex its PhysX muscle.
Fudzilla says the hybrid card will most likely sport a GTX 275 and GTS 250, which would give the card 240 stream processors and 896MB of memory for rendering, and 128 stream processors and 512MB of memory for PhysX duties. Not a bad idea to combine the two on a single piece of hardware, albeit it could be somewhat risky this close to the launch of Fermi.
DRAM maker A-Data has decided to begin using a new anti-counterfeiting system they are calling “DNA Authentication”. According to the company, the fraudulent selling of fake RAM is a “serious and growing problem" in the tech world.
It seems A-Data has had a lot of troubles with the selling of fake DRAM chips with A-Data logos. According to the company, “…we adopted the DNA authentication technology to protect our intellectual property and our consumers’ interests."
So what does this mean? When you cut through the marketing speak, it’s basically just a new type of ID label on RAM sticks. To verify the authenticity of the chips, consumers can use a black light to reveal the unique code on the sticker. Like many of these ID systems, the label is designed to tear itself to shreds if removed. Will it do much to stop fraud, or will the fraudsters just fake these labels too?
AT&T has a bone to pick with several big-name LCD makers, and it will do it in court. The telco has sued a number of display manufacturers over allegedly fixing the price of more than 300 million mobile LCD screens.
Those on the receiving end of the lawsuit include Samsung, LG Display, Optronics, Sharp, and Chungwa. According to the lawsuit, the display makers "formed an international cartel illegally to restrict competition in the United States in the market for LCD panels."
AT&T called the whole situation a "conspiracy," accusing the defendants of agreeing to eliminate competition and fix LCD panel prices that they knew would be incorporated in LCD products and sold in the U.S.
This isn't the first price fixing scandal to hit the LCD industry, nor is it the first time LG, Chunghwa, and Sharp have been tied to price fixing allegations. All three agreed to plead guilty to similar charges in November 2008 and to pay $585 million in criminal fines.
Toshiba’s $328 million acquisition of hard drive maker Fujitsu is bearing some early fruit. The deal, made earlier this year, was an effort by Toshiba to increase it’s presence in the enterprise storage market. Toshiba acquired all of Fujitsu’s hard drive related business including design, development, manufacturing, and sales.
We've stopped counting the number of rumors suggesting Blu-ray hardware would somehow integrate with the Xbox 360 gaming console, whether as a built-in drive in a revised edition, or as an add-on accessory. The details would vary, but all the rumors shared one thing in common: They were all bogus. So why are we paying it any attention now? Because this time, the rumor's coming straight from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
During a video interview with Gizmodo, Ballmer spent a couple minutes talking candidly about the Xbox 360 and project Natal, but he appeared to be caught off guard when asked if Microsoft would adopt Blu-ray in a bid to take over the home theater.
"Well I don't know if we need to put Blu-ray in there," Ballmer began as he wiped his eye. "You'll be able to get Blu-ray drives, and Blu-ray drives as accessories."
Does this mean a Blu-ray add-on is in the works, or did Ballmer simply not word his answer carefully enough? We don't know, but when Gizmodo pinged Xbox spokespeople about Ballmer's answer, more fuel to the speculative fire was added.
"Our immediate solution for Blu-ray quality video on the Xbox 360 is coming this fall with Zune Video and 1080p instant-on HD streaming. As far as our future plans are concerned, we're not ready to comment."
In the past, Microsoft made it a point to quickly squash Blu-ray rumors, but that isn't the case this time around. Draw your own conclusion on what that could mean.
Perhaps the DRAM market is on the road to recovery after all. Business has picked up as of late, and according to Pai Pei-Lin, VP and spokesperson of Nanya Technology, contract prices for DRAM chips will continue to climb next month.
In a sort of domino effect, Pai said he expects Windows 7 to set in motion a long overdue upgrade cycle that has been stalled the past three years because of disinterest in Vista. This will mean even higher demand for DRAM chips, potentially reaching the DRAM market's peak it in 1995, and ultimately a shortage of chips in 2010 as memory makers reach their limits in capacity output.
According to Pai, DDR2 and DDR3 will likely split the market evenly in the first quarter of 2010, but their could be a pricing disparity. Contract prices for DDR2 chips have been rising since August and finally surpassed DDR3 this month, and that trend looks to continue for at least the next couple of months, Pai noted.
Seagate shipped 46.3 million disk drives during the quarter, up 14 percent over the previous quarter, but down some four percent from the previous year. Still, Seagate CEO Steve Luczo is a happy camper: "The company has returned to its operating model well ahead of our expectations of six months ago and now expects to sustain gross margin of 22-26 per cent.”
Seagate is confident enough in it’s financial position to start a more aggressive push on its line of Solid State Drives (SSDs). These SATA-interfaced SSDs will be targeted initially to businesses, particular in the broad volume server market. Seagate is not looking at SSDs as replacements for hard drives. In fact, Seagate will be promoting it’s new single-platter 2.5-inch drive, which sits a mere 7 mm high, for upcoming ultra-thin notebooks, such as the Dell Adamo XPS.
Surprise, surprise - Acer, the same company who not too long ago bemoaned Google's open-source Android platform as not being suitable to run netbooks, has gone ahead with just such a device anyway, even though most other vendors are content to wait for Pine Trail before releasing more netbook models.
Acer did, however, play it safe by pairing Android with Windows in a sort of dual-boot environment (Android has to be booted first and acts like a sort of instant-on SplashTop replacement), but that's more than the other top tier OEMs have done. According to news and rumor site DigiTimes, that's because other OEMs are taking a more conservative wait-and-see approach and will re-evaluate things once the final quarter of 2009 shakes out.
After seeing sequential growth to the of tune of 20 percent in the last two quarters, DigiTimes notes that netbook shipments from Taiwan notebook vendors is on target to backslide 8 percent in Q4. Part of the reason, analysts surmise, is waning demand as customers eagerly await the arrival of Windows 7, but vendors are also trying to keep inventory levels down on the verge of Intel's upcoming Pine Trail platform, due to arrive in early 2010.
It still remains to be seen how many OEMs will embrace Android on netbooks, whether as a standalone OS or in conjunction with Windows. So far, Acer's dual-booting Aspire One AOD250, which was only recently announced in the U.S., is the only one consumers have to choose from here in the States. Other markets will also see the AOD250, but not until after the launch of Windows 7, DigiTimes reports.