We've longed bemoaned the real-world write performance of most SSDs, which often falls short of the much speedier read speeds. Even worse, surmises HotHardware, is the potential for an SSD's write performance to degrade over time.
"The flash memory used on today's SSDs is comprised of cells that usually contain 4KB pages that are arranged in blocks of 512KB," writes HotHardware. "When a cell is unused, data can be written to it relatively quickly. But if a cell already contains some data -- no matter how little, even if it fills only a single page in the block -- the entire block must be re-written. That means, whatever data is already present in the block must be read, then it must be combined or replaced, etc., with the new additional data, and the entire block is then re-written."
The good news is most manufacturers are attacking the problem head on via firmware. One such example is OCZ's implementation of the Indilinx firmware, which the company plans to include on all Vertex series drives. When the drives are idle, Indilinx and other similar SSD firmware sweep through an SSD's cells looking for and removing so-called "garbage data."
HotHardware got its hands on one of OCZ's new Vertex drives outfitted with the Indilinx firmware and the results are pretty surprising. After "dirtying" the drive with chunks of data, performance degradation became apparent while running the ATTO Disk Benchmark. But after letting the drive sit idle for 5 minutes, performance numbers were nearly restored to new condition.
Nvidia’s second quarter profits are evidence poor quality costs much more than just bad PR. The company recorded a charge of $119 million to cover warranty costs associated with faulty die and weak packaging materials used in its graphics chips. This is significantly better than the $196 million it had already written off for the same reason, but it was still much higher than analysts were expecting.
Most of these issues can be traced back to a faulty solder bump that was discovered in its 8M-series mobile graphics chip. Nvidia estimated at the time that the warranty costs could be somewhere in the range of $200 million, but clearly the $315+ million they have already spent shows they were perhaps a bit overly conservative in their estimates. This might be a result of the problem reportedly cropping up in G92 and G94 series mobile cards as well, but Nvidia has been pretty tight lipped on the issue.
When asked to comment on the charge Nvidia downplayed the impact and described them as a small distraction. Nvidia President and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang claims it hasn’t impacted Nvidia’s ability to launch new products, and he expects profits to rise in the near future. Huang is being optimistic, but he is likely hoping to reassure investors who saw the company’s revenue drop this quarter to $776.5 million from $892.6 million only a year ago. “The company has invested in new products such as Tesla, a graphics processing unit for high-performance computing, and low-power Tegra chips for mobile devices. The products should start contributing to the revenue stream soon”, Huang said.
It’s been a long time since TDK had bragging rights in the storage wars, but a new breakthrough promises to put them back on top. According to the companies recently released roadmap, a 3.5 inch 2.5TB drive design is currently being tested which will feature a new 640GB platter. This would allow TDK to leapfrog Seagate, Hitachi and even Western Digital who are still working with 500GB platters.
Mass production is currently planned for November of this year and will most likely result in drives hitting the street on or around late January or early February 2010. TDK is also investing heavily in the production and testing of a new 320GB platter for 2.5 inch drives which will result in low power, high performance 640GB notebook drives around the same period next year.
Sure this is a far cry from the 5TB Hitachi was promising for 2010, but TDK can still be king for a day right?
In November of last year, Intel's Atom processor was noted as being largely responsible for record growth in the processor market. While no more records are being broken, the processor market continues its upward climb -- to the tune of 10.1 percent in the second quarter of this year -- and once again, Intel's Atom chip is the reason why.
"The percentage of Intel's revenue earned in Asia/Pacific grew from 51 percent in 1Q09 to 55 percent in 2009," Shane Rau, director of Semiconductors: Personal Computing research at IDC, noted in a statement. "This fact, combined with the significant sequential 'snap-back' rise in Intel's overall processor shipments -- particularly Atom shipments -- while AMD's overall shipments were about flat, indicate that the PC processor market didn't recover in 2Q09."
The growth from Q1 to Q2, notes IDC, is mostly attributable to manufacturers replenishing their chip inventory rather than increased consumer demand for PCs. Predicting that most OEMs have now balanced their inventories, IDC says going forward we're more likely to see what the actual demand really is.
The last Thermalright cooler we reviewed, the IFX-14 (November 2008), actually bested our then-champion Thermaltake DuOrb in performance, but its enormous size cost it the crown. The slimmer Ultra-120 eXtreme, while still a skyscraper of finny goodness, is much skinnier than the IFX-14, and (happily) includes one 12cm clip-on fan—the older model supported two fans, but included none.
Five nickel-plated copper heat pipes rise from opposite sides of the base through a large stack of heat-dissipating fins, cooled by a 12cm fluid-dynamic bearing fan. The included fan connects to the motherboard fan socket with a 3-pin connector, so there’s no onboard fan-speed control.
Hitachi can't lay claim as the first manufacturer to develop a 2TB hard drive -- that distinction belongs to Western Digital -- but it is the first one to do so with a 7200RPM spindle speed, besting the spindle speeds found on 2TB drives from both WD and Seagate.
"The new Deskstar 7K2000 reflects our ongoing commitment to provide customer, channel partners, and OEMs with proven, reliable solutions for enabling desktop computers, gaming systems, workstations, and desktop RAID arrays," said Brendan Collins, vice president of marketing, Hitachi GST.
Hitachi's fourth generation Deskstar crams 2TB onto a five-platter design "with relaxed bit density" and perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology. As would be expected in a modern, high performance drive, the 7K2000 boasts 32MB of cache and a 3Gb/s SATA interface.
GPGPU computing has been a frequent subject of tech chatter, the latest of which involves AMD's release of the first OpenCL SDK for x86 CPUs. What this does is enable developers to take OpenCL code that would normally be written for GPUs and target CPUs instead.
GPGPU computing, which offsets tasks from the CPU to the GPU, offers a range of benefits, including the potential for much faster video encoding and less time waiting for effects to be applied in supported applications like Photoshop CS4. But is there much use for AMD's "backwards" concept?
"The beta will help programmers more easily develop parallel software programs and take further advantage of multicore x86 CPUs to accelearate software and deliver a better computing experience," AMD states.
You may know what the inside of a PC looks like, but what about the parts which make up your PC components? Over the past few years, we've dissected hard drives, keyboards, soundcards, and a plethora of other PC hardware, just to see what makes them tick. Here, we've picked out 22 of these autopsies to showcase. If you've ever wanted to see the guts of a netbook or the silicon that makes a network router work, read on!
Intel has appeared reluctant to talk about its Core i5 processors ever since the new series was discovered last March by a motherboard spec sheet, and the chip maker still isn't saying much. No matter, as the new parts have started showing up on at least two computer hardware e-tailer sites, offering up some insight on what to expect.
According to FadFusion, the Core i5 570 processor will run at 2.66GHz and include 8MB of cache. The vendor lists a retail price of $250, but plans to sell it for $233.
Computer Connection, a campus computer store at the University of Maine, is also carrying the Core i5 570 CPU with the same listed specs and at a similar price point ($244).
Intel isn't commenting on the existence of the chip, but if the two above vendors are any indication, Core i5 will likely appear soon, with the 570 part priced in the $250 range.
We’ve seen systems with Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) before, but no vendor has been sassy enough to break from the de rigueur SATA VelociRaptor or SSD drives in favor of the tech—until now.
Of course, this is Polywell’s M.O.—not content to do things like any other system vendor, Polywell usually tucks in a curve ball to brush you off home plate when you don’t expect it. Sometimes Polywell’s pitch doesn’t work (think really nice $5,000 gaming rig with an $8 keyboard and mouse), but time we were intrigued with its 300 gigabytes of RAID 0, 15,000rpm, connected using SAS. The onboard SAS support in the Asus P6T Deluxe mobo achieved sequential read speeds of about 192MB/s with 6.8ms access times—that’s purty durn good considering that our VelociRaptor-equipped systems see roughly 166MB/s reads with about 7+ms access times.
Elsewhere, Polywell plays it safe and sane: an Intel Core i7 clocked up to 3.66GHz on air and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 295 card along with 6GB of DDR3 at 1,450MHz and an LG Blu-ray drive stuffed into an Antec 900 case make it a well-rounded rig—albeit a bit bland.