Sometimes, you just have to keep things real. Last year, our Dream Machine was a paean to excess, a chrome-plated $17,000 wünder-rig. While we’re still quite fond of that machine, this year we decided to take a different tack and see if we could build a more reasonably priced, but still lust-worthy Dream Machine. Well, actually, we built three of them. While the combined cost of these three machines is about half the price of last year’s rig, we packed a lot of awesome into our relatively tight budgets. The lesson is simple: Dream Machine isn’t about spending a ludicrous amount of cash on a PC, it’s about getting the best rig you can for the money you spend. I think you’ll agree that these three machines pack a ton of power and are all great values.
Without further ado, we give you this year’s crop of Dream Machines.
CoolIT is somewhat notorious for enormous but effective closed water-cooling systems: its Boreas and Freezone Elite kick the pants off of conventional air coolers and are much more user-friendly than piecemeal water-cooling setups. Now CoolIT wants to bring self-contained water-cooling to the masses with the Domino Advanced Liquid Cooling.
The Domino eschews both the large heatsinks and the Peltier thermoelectric coolers of its predecessors in favor of a radiator and single 12cm fan, which gives the Domino less oomph than the Boreas or Freezone Elite, but confers several advantages to the water-cooling newb.
First, the Domino costs a cool $80, compared to $600-plus for the Boreas and $350 for the Freezone Elite. Second, the Domino is much smaller and easier to install; CoolIT boasts that an amateur with no CPU-cooling experience can install it in 10 minutes.
The chip features Fujitsu’s AES encryption/decryption engine that supports data encryption/decryption at a rate of up to 300MB per second. The first PCs equipped with Superspeed USB are expected to become available during the far end of the year, according to the July issue of Nikkei Electronics Asia.
Active Media Products, makers of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Penguin and Panda USB drives, has added to its Penguin line with a bootable Linux USB (BLU) drive that the company says is compatible with Windows 7.
"These bootable Linux USB drives are handy for users who need flexibility in an OS, and will be an invaluable tool for disaster recovery and system maintenance," Active Media stated in a press release.
Designed in the likeness of an emperor penguin with "exacting detail," the new drives come in 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB capacities, each one pre-loaded with the full installation of Ubuntu Linux 9.0.4., which occupies about 700MB of space.
The drives are available now ranging in price from $13 (1GB) to $44 (16GB), with 5 percent of the retail price donated to World Wildlife Fund.
It's hard to imagine anyone being stoked about losing $611 million in a quarter, unless you're part of a group of DRAM makers who were expecting to lose much more.
According to news and rumor site DigiTimes, Taiwan's major DRAM chip makers -- Inotera Memories, Nanya Technology, Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation (PSC), and ProMOS Technologies -- will post combined losses of more than NT$20 billion, or roughly $611 million USD, for the second quarter of 2009. As bad as that sounds, market watchers were anticipating losses adding up to NT$30.7 billion, or about $938 million USD.
And it hasn't been all losses for memory chip makers. Both A-Data Technology and Transcend Information continue to see profits for the second quarter, perhaps indicating that the worst might finally be over.
According to Jon Peddie Research, a firm that specializes in tracking the graphics market, AMD is on the up and up when it comes to graphics card shipments, beating out both Intel and Nvidia.
According to their latest report, many graphics vendors stopped ordering new cards and made sure that their inventories were depleted for the first quarter of this year. But, during that same first quarter, improvement was shown for the sales of Intel, Nvidia and most notably, AMD, who had a growth of 41.5 percent.
It’s expected that Q3 of this year is gearing up to be a very healthy one, thanks to Apple’s Snow Leopard, Windows 7, as well as AMD and Nvidia’s 40nm designs, which should bring better performance and aggressive prices.
Is that 1GHz in your pocket or, well, you know the rest. The answer may soon be 'both,' as Samsung and Intrinsity jointly announced a 1GHz ARM processor that will likely find a home in the iPhone and other similar devices. Code named Hummingbird, the co-developed 1GHz chip is very similar to the 600MHz Samsung processor based on the ARM Cortex A8 design that currently powers the iPhone 3G, CNet reports.
"Samsung could drop Hummingbird into the existing S5PC100 design with few or no changes," said Tom R. Halfhill, senior analyst at the Microprocessor Report. "Bingo! A next-gen iPhone that could run at speeds up to 1GHz."
On the design side, getting to 1GHz meant using a 45nm manufacturing process, whereas most other ARM chips currently on the market are built around a 65nm manufacturing process. That represents somewhat of a change in design philosophy from ARM, who previously focused more on power efficiency than it did on high-performance.
Nevertheless, Samsung and Intrinsity say the new chip's multi-Vdd / multi-frequency design methodology ensures Hummingbird can run at a high speed even at the minimum supply voltage of 1.0V.
After being the first to release a 1TB desktop hard drive, Western Digital is at it again with the release of the first 1TB 2.5-inch mobile hard drive.
The drive, known as the Scorpio Blue 1TB, will be accompanied by a smaller 750GB brother as well. These are both already shipping to retailers, and will run you for $189.99 (750GB) and $249.99 (1TB).
Now, it should be noted that this isn’t truly the first drive of this size, given that pureSilicion released a 1TB SSD of this form factor, but kudos to WD on releasing the first 1TB HDD measuring only 2.5-inches.
Solid state drives continue to go through growing pains, and not even Intel can avoid having to beat back bugs in this relatively new market. After some customers reported slowdowns following extended use with the first generation of X25-M SSDs, Intel pushed out a firmware update to fix the problem. Now it appears the company's new 34nm X25-M G2 SSDs are also in need of a firmware update, but for a different problem.
According to OEM system builder Puget Systems, a defect exists in the new drives which causes data corruption if a password is set on the drive in the system BIOS and then is changed or disabled later.
"There was a lot of confusion, but it was clear that something was wrong with these first units - enough so that Newegg and other online vendors had also pulled them entirely from their sites," Puget wrote in a blog. "We too stopped listing them, and began contacting our customers who were expecting us to ship them out this afternoon."
Puget says Intel was able to work out a firmware fix for the problem rather than rework the drives, however the updated firmware won't be available for another two weeks. In the meantime, Intel has stopped shipping the new drives until the fix is fully implemented.
AMD has been talking up its CPU/GPU combo chip codenamed Fusion for some time now, but it might not see the light of day for another three years, according to the latest rumor.
Initially expected in late 2008 or early 2009, Fusion in 45nm form was ultimately scrapped due to design challenges. The same might be happening with 32nm, says news and rumor site Fudzilla, who claims AMD has now decided to wait until it moves to a 22nm manufacturing process, currently scheduled for the second half of 2012.
That sounds like a long time to wait, especially as Intel puts the pressure on with a CPU/GPU chip of its own (Larrabee). For that reason, it's possible AMD may opt to follow in Intel's footsteps and release Fusion constructed with a 32nm IGP and CPU as two separate dies on the same chip. If AMD went this route, it could conceivably have Fusion parts ready by the second half of 2010, Fudzilla says.