HP's newly announced Mini 311 netbook isn't the first ION-powered portable we've seen -- the Lenovo S12 and Samsung N150 both equip Nvidia's low-powered graphics accelerator (the equivalent of a 9400M). But HP's 11.6-inch offering is possibly the first accelerated netbook with the potential to break into the mass market. Part of that is due to its aggressive $399 pricing, which isn't shabby considering that the system is equipped with an Intel Atom N270, 1GB of DDR3 memory, 160GB storage, and a relatively high-resolution display. We got some hands-on time with the Mini 311, running several processor-intensive tasks to see if the ION chip makes a difference in real world performance.
Read on for the full specs, impressions, and more pics!
Technology moves forward at a rapid pace and any parts you buy today could very well turn obsolete in six months, let alone six years. But if Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang's predictions turn true, the order of magnitude in which graphics technology is set to explode is like nothing we've seen in recent history.
According to Huang, GPU compute is likely to skyrocket by 570x over its current capabilities in the next six years. And never one to pass up a chance to take a dig at Intel and its CPU business, Huang also pointed out that 'pure' CPU performance will be limited to just 3x in same time frame.
If Huang's crystal ball proves flawless, there won't be any question whether or not upcoming GPUs can run Crysis. But gamers won't be the only ones to benefit from the additional horsepower. Huang pointed out a number of "real-world" GPU applications, such as interactive ray tracing, CGI, and others.
According to Jon Peddi research, growth in shipments of discrete videocards might mean the recession is winding down. It's also good news for AMD, whose graphics market share has been on the rise thanks to a combination of stabilizing pricing and a hot-selling Radeon product line.
This allowed AMD to snag a larger share of the overall market, which increased to 34 percent for the quarter. But it's not all bad news for Nvidia, who despite slipping four points still owns the lion's share at 64 percent.
All told, Jon Peddie Research said that 16.81 million discrete videocards where shipped in the second quarter of 2009, which is a 3 percent increase from the first quarter, but still down 15 percent over the same quarter one year ago. But JPR believes the worst is over, noting the numbers "demonstrated some much-needed firmness in Q2'09, adding more evidence that demand has bottomed and a recovery is in the offing."
Finding a dual-core netbook is a lot like looking for the Loch Ness Monster - you keeping hearing it exists, but no one's been able to prove it. According to a Japanese technology website, not only does it exist (a dual-core netbook, that is), but Shenzhen Weibu Electronics will "soon" have one for sale.
The upcoming netbook ditches the familiar single-core Atom N2xx processor for Intel's 1.6GHz Atom N330 chip with 1MB of cache. And the N330 supports hyper-threading as well. If that weren't enough, the new netbook will be built around Nvidia's Ion platform with integrated Nvidia 9400M graphics, just like those fancy MacBooks boast.
Other specs include 1GB of memory, a 150GB hard drive, webcam, and 802.11 g/b WiFi. And as one would expect, the N10A, as the netbook's being dubbed, will hit the wallet harder than existing netbooks to the tune of 49,800 yen, or about $530 USD. That starts encroaching on traditional 15-inch notebook pricing, but if other vendors follow suit with similarly spec'd machines, the next generation of netbooks could get awfully exciting.
Zune zealots, skeptics, and all the people that lie in between and outside the two groups can get up close and personal with the Zune HD at select Best Buys over the weekend. The preview has been organized by Nvidia and Best Buy. The GPU maker’s ebullience for the Zune HD stems from the fact that it has lent its Tegra chip to the PMP. The portable media player is scheduled for release on September 15. Nvidia has released a PDF document that lists all the Best Buys where the Zune HD will be available for preview.
According to news and rumor site DigiTimes, Asus plans to keep busy this fall launching a number of new products. Among them are an Nvidia Ion-based Eee Box, Eee Top all-in-one PC, and two ultra-thin notebooks under its U/UX series.
The 20-inch Eee Top will come with an Intel dual-core Atom 330 processor and cost around $670. Details on the Ion-based rig remain sparse, though it will reportedly sell for a little over $300. Both of these -- along with the ultra-thin notebooks -- will launch in September.
A month later, Asus plans to launch the Eee Keyboard for somewhere between $400 and $500. The Eee Keyboard will work as a fully-functional PC and sport a wireless connection hub.
If you've waited this long to upgrade your graphics card, you might as well finish off the summer with whatever GPU you've been getting by with. That's because both AMD and Nvidia plan to release new videocards this fall..
According to news and rumor site DigiTimes, Nvidia's upcoming 40nm GeForce 210 (GT218) GPU-based cards will start shipping in October thanks to improved yields at foundry partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing company (TSMC).
Detailed specs remain light, but the GeForce 210 will come with either DDR2 or DDR3 memory and offer up support for DirectX 10.1 and Shader Model 4.1, sources say. Nvidia will follow up the GT218 launch with GT230 and GT300 parts in the fourth quarter of this year.
As for AMD, the CPU/GPU maker will finally launch its RV870 GPU this fall, possibly as early as September.
You can finally find Nvidia's dual-GPU GTX 295 videocards in stock at pretty much any e-tailer who carries the part, but if you've waited this long, you might want to consider holding out a few more months. According to the latest rumblings, Nvidia plans to replace the flagship part with a dual GT300 card.
News and rumor site Fudzilla claims to have confirmed the rumor, but other details, including exactly when it will ship, remain sparse. If all goes to plan, Nvidia might have a demo ready in late Q4 2009 and start shipping in January 2010, but that remains to be seen.
The new card will apparently be DirectX 11 compatible and built to run parallel processing CUDA, DirectX compute, or OpenCL. It will also go toe-to-toe with AMD's upcoming dual RV870 card.
Epic Games’ CEO Tim Sweeney is on record as being stanchly against GPGPU computing in the past, but in a recent keynote delivered at the High Performance Graphics conference he further downplayed its future. From a developer standpoint he claims that GPGPU based applications can cost nearly 10x as much as a single threaded versions, with multi-core based software being the current sweet spot.
This isn’t the first time Sweeney has predicted the demise of GPGPU based computing technologies, but he has now further expanded his list of endangered technologies to include DirectX and OpenGL. In his speech last year Sweeny claimed that “In the next generation we’ll write 100-percent of our rendering code in a real programming language--not DirectX, not OpenGL, but a language like C++ or CUDA. Whether that runs on Nvidia hardware, Intel hardware or ATI hardware is really an independent question. You could potentially run it on any hardware that's capable of running general-purpose code efficiently."
Some might consider Sweeny’s comments a bit misguided considering that both Apple and Microsoft are strongly backing OpenCL, and ultimately if it turns out to be a more efficient way of doing certain tasks, couldn’t the development costs be justified? Clearly the GPU has future potential in the transcoding market, but do you think Sweeney has a point here?
DirectX 11 which will debut with the release of Windows 7 is arguably a pretty big deal. The new APIs will enjoy a much larger installed base than its predecessor thanks to backwards compatibility with Vista, and graphical improvements that were teased in DirectX 10 should see a pretty significant performance boost. With the release of Windows 7 nearly upon us, many have been holding off on GPU upgrades until the DX11 parts to start rolling off the line, and this time it appears AMD will beat Nvidia out of the gate with its “Evergreen” series.
This hunch was further re-enforced by a live hands on demonstration provided to PC Perspective at QuakeCon showing a working DX11 graphics card in action. The GPU code named “Future Card” was running several live DirectX 11 SDK simulations, but even more impressive was its ability to launch and run existing DirectX 9 titles. Its one thing to show a tech demo, but it’s even more impressive to prove you have a fully functional card.
It looks like the Radeon HD 5000 series will among the first DX11 cards on the market, and AMD could well be on track for a late 2009 release. Is the race to DirectX 11 a battle Nvidia can afford to lose?