Backwards Compatility with AM3 is the Big Surprise
Eat that Gulftown: AMD officials have not only confirmed that it will release a hexa-core processor next year – but it will be backwards compatible with existing AM3 and AM2+ motherboards.
Although heavily reported as a rumor that an AMD six-core was coming to consumer desktops, the company had not confirmed rumors. That is until Monday, when AMD officials told Maximum PC that the chip was a done deal.
“We are all about platform longevity and long-lived upgrade paths,” and AMD spokesman said in a sideways ding at its competitor Intel which has a penchant for requiring new sockets for its CPUs. Intel currently has three different socket infrastructures on its desktop computers – all incompatible. The confirmation also comes one day before Intel’s three-day IDF conference which usually blots out all news from competitors for days.
We’re finally out of the woods. After nearly a year in which the Intel X-25M was virtually the only solid state drive on the market not to suffer from severe latency during sustained random writes, the past few months have brought us sweet relief in the form of new SSDs with stutter-less memory controllers from such manufacturers as Samsung and Indilinx. This month, we tested the 128GB Patriot Torqx, which uses an Indilinx “Barefoot” memory controller and 64MB DRAM write cache to end the stuttering problem once and for all.
Right out of the box, Patriot impresses with the thoughtful inclusion of a 3.5-inch tray adapter for its 2.5-inch drive. It’s just a simple sheet of pot metal with screw holes and rail mounts, but it’s appreciated. The drive enclosure itself is all brushed-metal—black on top, silver on the bottom—and screws into the adapter easily.
In the small form factor graphics market, Nvidia’s Ion has been stealing the headlines lately, but it turns out VIA might be gearing up to give them a run for their money. Built on a new standard known as “Pico-ITXe”, the company has released their EPIA-P710, which claims to be capable of full 1080p video playback using nothing more than passive cooling. Of course we were skeptical at first, but they have finally backed up their claims by posting a short clip on YouTube showing the board in action.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this new part is how full featured it is given the size. It sports 3 USB 2.0 ports, has both SATA and IDE, as well as Gigabit Ethernet support. As you might expect, the current build is pared up with a VIA C7 1.0 GHz processor, but apparently this is still more than enough to handle anything the VX855 Media System Processor can’t handle video wise.
After HP acquired high-end PC maker Voodoo, everyone expected to see a lot of their products coming out of HP. That didn’t happen. Dell has kept the Alienware brand highly visible, and they were acquired around the same time. Voodoo’s Rahul Sood has posted an update to his blog to tell everyone just what happened to the venerable maker of really expensive PCs.
According to Sood, Voodoo still exists, and the long silence was something of a transitional period to get the company completely integrated with HP. “Voodoo, as you all know, was to be integrated into the larger business units so we could take some of our ideas and products to a much larger audience,” Sood wrote in his blog.
Indeed, the HP Envy 13 and 15 are good examples of the effects Voodoo has had on HP. Sood explained that the “Voodoo DNA” branding was removed from the laptops because Voodoo didn’t technically design them, HP did. He pointed out that HPs designs have changed dramatically in the last 3 years largely because of Voodoo. The Voodoo founder said the company was changing from a manufacturer, into “something beyond”. The take away seems to be that you’ll probably see some Voodoo branding in the future, but their main goal is to advance HP products as a whole.
Mainboard maker DFI has a rather interesting product on the way. The upcoming Hybrid P45-ION-T2A2 motherboard is capable of running two computers on a single board. It supports both a high performanceP45/LGA775 based systems, and a low power Atom/Ion based system.
They include a small external button assembly that can be used to switch on the fly between platforms. The two platforms can both be run at the same time, or you can shut down the one you aren’t using. The back panel is a bit confusing. There are some shared ports as well as dedicated ports. It has a block of four shared USB ports that are available to both systems. The audio and DVI ports are also shared. Each system has a dedicated set of USB ports and an Ethernet jack as well. The Ion chipset on the Atom side has its own dedicated HDMI port for some low-wattage HD video action.
Overall, this is a terribly impressive feat of engineering. Watch the video at the link to get the full effect. The possibilities for true multitasking are a bit staggering. Imagine encoding video on the LGA775 platform while outputting HD video with the Ion from the same box. There’s no firm release date or price as of yet. Would you consider getting one?
There is a general feeling that the world is inching toward the next big leap in display technology: 3D displays. According to an estimate, the market for 3D displays is expected to be worth $15.8 billion by 2015, a figure that can only be achieved with a compound annual growth rate of 95%. This leap in display technology will straddle a wide gamut of devices and form factors.
While netbooks are getting all the attention these days, Lenovo thinks the desktop can get a piece of that small-form-factor low cost action. They released the C100 all-in-one widescreen desktop computer starting at $399.
The Lenovo C100 features an 18.5in (16:9) flat-panel driven by the Intel GMA 950 chipset. They packed in 160GB hard drive and 1GB of RAM all powered by the Intel Atom 330 dual-core processor. It also rocks four USB ports, integrated DVD burner, webcam, speakers and a microphone crammed into a 2-inch deep profile, rivaling some LCD monitors.
It stands to be an impressive computer product at a seriously low price point. Dion Weisler, vice president of Business Operations at Lenovo brags it’s “Packed with cool experiences and available at a very affordable price, the C100 expands Lenovo’s consumer offering for the fast growing all-in-one market segment.”
Obviously not for the hardcore gaming enthusiast, but these machines have their purpose. Would you buy one?
Point Grey has developed the “world’s first” Superspeed-enabled USB 3.0 digital video camera and has plans to show it off at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) in San Francisco next week. The camera takes advantage of the massive throughput advantages USB 3.0 is expected to offer.
As a prototype, the camera uses a Sony IMX036 CMOS image sensor capable of 3 megapixel video. The Sony sensor also boasts a raw output format streaming video at full 1080p with 60 frames per second. "One of the potential benefits of the increased bandwidth of USB 3.0 is that it allows the main processor to handle compression," explained Point Grey spokesperson Vlad Tucakov.
“This demonstration gives users insight into some of the other applications that are possible with SuperSpeed USB in addition to the high-speed data transfers with external storage devices that we have seen so far," added Jeff Ravencraft, Chairman of the USB Implementers Forum.
Try as it might, Microsoft has never been able to put a dent in Apple's marketshare for portable media players. The previous Zune players were pretty good, and the Zune desktop software finally got there after a few revisions, but neither one had the "wow factor" necessary to pull the masses away from the iPod juggernaut. With the Zune HD (and accompanying Zune 4.0 software), Microsoft has finally delivered the kind of truly exciting device that should make even the most ardent iPod fan take notice. It's sleek, small, thin, and surprisingly light with the rare quality of looking as good as Apple's products without looking just like Apple's products.
While Super Talent is busy readying its RAIDDrive, OCZ today announced it has begun shipping its PCI-Express based Z-Drive. This is the same drive that was being discussed at CeBIT earlier this year, and like Super Talent's version, OCZ's model looks to leave behind the confines of the SATA bus for wider pastures on the PCI-E interface more suitable for the ultra fast flash memory.
"Traditional enterprise storage technology typically requires overly complex infrastructures as well as costly maintenance, and is often unable to deliver the level of performance required by OEM applications," said Ryan Peterson, CEO of the OCZ Technology Group. "The new OCZ Z-Drive is an all-in-one high performance plug-and-play bootable PCI-E solid state drive that addresses these challenges head on, and meets the demands of the complete range of enterprise storage and data access requirements."
Sporting an internal RAID 0 configuration, OCZ says its SLC-based Z-Drive can top out at 800MB/s reads and 750MB/s writes, whereas the MLC-based version trails just lightly behind at 750MB/s reads and 650MB/s writes. Both versions also look to consume less power than traditional hard drives.
While OCZ did say the drives have started shipping, it did not announce a price or expected availabilty date.