As the price of NAND flash memory drops to record lows, more and more hardware vendors are getting into the solid state drive business—and why wouldn’t they? A standard hard drive has lots of moving parts, but a solid state drive is nothing more than a few NAND flash modules, a controller chip, some PCB, and an enclosure. CSX is well known in Europe as a producer of aftermarket RAM for Apple products, and its Diablo gaming RAM has started making waves in the United States. But this 128GB multilevel cell (MLC) SSD marks the company’s first foray into the solid state market.
Single-level cell (SLC) SSDs typically have better write speeds than multilevel cell drives, but MLCs are more common because they’re much cheaper. We’ve tested a few standout MLCs, including Intel’s X-25M, but most of the multilevel cell drives we’ve benchmarked have suffered from poor write speeds.
If you're to take Intel at its word (and earnings report), then forget any talk of the PC industry continuing to decline. According to CEO Paul Otellini, the immediate future looks bright, especially for the No. 1 chip maker.
"We believe PC sales bottomed out during the first quarter and that the industry is returning to normal seasonal patterns," Otellini said in a statement. "Intel has adapted well to the current economic environment and we're benefiting from disciplined execution and agility. We're delivering a product portfolio that meets the needs of the changing market, spanning affordable computing to high-performance, energy-efficient computing."
Backing up his claims, Intel reported a first quarter profit of $647 million, or 11 cents per share, on revenue of $7.1 billion. Wall Street was expecting earnings of 2 cents on revenue of $6.98 billion.
But does Intel's success translate to a recovery in the PC market as a whole? While Intel has been riding high on sales of its Atom processors and managed to beat expectations for Q1, the company wasn't as forthcoming when it came to forecasting Q2.
Believe it or not, your terrifically fast Core i7 fresh off Intel's assembly line contains DNA that dates back over three decades. The same is true if you roll with AMD's latest silicon, the Phenom II X4. We're of course referring to the longstanding x86 microprocessor architecture that has dominated the desktop and mobile scene since before some of you were even born, and will probably be a mainstay still yet for many more years to come.
Invented by Intel in 1978, the x86 architecture has evolved through the ages, not only getting faster, but increasingly flexible as more and more extensions and instruction sets accompany each new release. It's been a wild ride the past 30 years, and whether you lived through it all or have only recently picked up your first processor, we invite you to join as we look back at not only the most popular x86 CPUs in its history, but ones you may never even have heard of.
Buckle up, sit back, and join us after the jump for a look back at the x86 timeline.
Keeping the likes of Razer and OCZ on their respective toes, Microsoft today added to its gaming mouse lineup with the addition of the Sidewinder X3, an entry-level rodent that won't chew through your wallet. Sporting an ambidextrous design, Microsoft's latest Sidewinder looks to sway budget gamers with a respectable feature-set, including a 2,000 DPI laser with on-the-fly sensitivity switching.
"Our research shows that in-game comfort continues to be the main consideration for PC gamers," said Bill Jukes, product marketing manager for Microsoft Hardware. "We designed this mouse to be ambidextrous and small in size, providing comfort to a wider variety of people and making it ideal for gaming as well as everyday use."
The Sidewinder X3 also comes with five programmable buttons (eight buttons in all), a wide, detented scroll wheel, and wide-glide feet "for smooth handling and a light, balanced feel."
Microsoft says the Sidewinder X3 will ship in May for about $40.
Apple is reported to have put NAND flash supplies under considerable strain by placing an order for 100 million 8Gb NAND flash chips with Samsung Electronics.
Taiwanese website Digitimes was the first to report on the issue. Sources told Digitimes that NAND supply will remain sparse until the end of May. NAND prices are expected to continue their upward trend on the back of this huge order. This is because NAND flash chip manufacturers are not keen on increasing production.
According to Daniel Amir, an analyst with Lazard Market Capital, Apple’s gargantuan order comprises both 16Gb and 8Gb NAND flash chips. Amir believes Apple’s order for 16Gb NAND is a harbinger of 32GB iPhones being around the corner. The same analyst had reported last month that industry insiders had told him that 32GB iPhones would become available in June, 2009.
ATI’s latest in their Radeon HD line has finally been confirmed as the HD 4890 X2.
While initially AMD maintained the notion that there wasn’t a market for anything beyond the HD 4870 X2 because of the card being absolutely top of the line, they’ve still gone ahead with the 4890 X2.
Reportedly, the new graphics card will have two GPUs running at least 1GHz per core, and depending on the SKU a customer buys, they can expect 2GB or 4GB of memory. Unfortunately, that’s the most specific information currently available.
No word yet on pricing or availability on the new powerhouse, but it is expected that Nvidia will follow this up with a new ultra high-end offering of their own.
Looking for a dual-band router so you can run two independent Wi-Fi networks, using one frequency band for data and the second for streaming media? Scratch the DGL-4500 off your list, because D-Link’s definition of “dual-band” means operating on either the 2.4GHz band or the 5.0GHz band—not both at the same time.
When we think of a dual-band router, we envision something like the Linksys WRT600N we’ve been using as a reference point. That device has separate 802.11n Draft 2.0 radios that enable us to run two independent wireless networks. That’s not to say the DGL-4500 is a lousy router; in fact, it delivered far superior performance at long distances than the WRT600N. Where the Linksys box is nearly useless when our Wi-Fi client is outside our test home—delivering throughput of just 0.7Mb/s at one exterior location and 1.2Mb/s at the other—the D-Link delivered exceptional throughput of 18.0Mb/s and 6.44Mb/s, respectively.
Ever wonder what happens when you take a Jensen #75 and connect it to a lego Technic motor using a rubber band? Neither have we, but thanks to YouTuber twdunbar, we now know, and it's pretty damn cool. Using the parts just mentioned, twdunbar fashioned together a Steampunk-inspired USB charger for his iPod, but it can also be used for other devices.
"The motor is being driven and so it acts like a generator, which feeds into a voltage regulator circuit to give a continuous 5V to the iPod (or any USB device)," twdunbar wrote on his YouTube video page.
Check out the video here, and if you're into the whole Steampunk thing, drop these links into your browser:
To an internet based company, server infrastructure is the secret sauce that can really help a company pull ahead of its competitors. It determines the quality of service its customers will receive, and their cost and efficiency will have a huge impact on the bottom line of the company. To Google this secret was a carefully guarded one, with few outside of the company having any real details. The only thing that we knew for sure is that they were built in house using parts that are generally available to every PC builder. This all changed last week when Google decided to lift the veil of secrecy to a group of IT professionals.
Each server measures about 3.5 inches thick, and is designed in a custom rack for easy stacking. Each unit sports two x86 processors either from Intel or AMD, contains two hard drives (presumably configured as a raid 1), and eight memory slots. These components are mounted on a Gigabyte motherboard, and protected by built in 12-volt battery that also serves as a UPS.
The built in battery was perhaps the biggest secret that was revealed and is a slap in the face to traditional thinking when it comes to large scale battery backup. Typically, server farms employ massive uninterruptable power supplies in the event of a power failure. The biggest problem with this approach according to Chris Malone from Google is the ability to scale it perfectly for the number of servers, and inefficiencies inherent with the technology. “Large UPSs can reach 92 to 95 percent efficiency, meaning that a large amount of power is squandered. The server-mounted batteries do better, Jai said: "We were able to measure our actual usage to greater than 99.9 percent efficiency."
Google’s approach to server infrastructure is defiantly unique, and it’s use of low cost customer grade hardware defiantly helped them survive the early years on razor sharp margins.
Welcome to Maximum PC's 100th Podcast Spectacular! This week, we visit with a ton of old friends, talk about Nathan's new PC, Pallette-Swap Ninja, and listen to a reader question. This week's show features the talents of: Dan Amrich, Kat Auch, Captain Spaulding, Norman Chan, Nathan Edwards, Gordon Mah Ung, Will Smith, Jeremy Williams--and we have a very special guest appearance by Tekzilla's Veronica Belmont! We sincerely apologize for the wait, but we hope it's been worth it! Enjoy the show!
We also have come into posession of a ton of SteelSeries keyboards and headsets, speaker systems, and even more t-shirts to give away in our weekly Twitter contest. Be sure to sign up for @willsmith's feed to get in on the action.
Do you have a tech question? A comment? A tale of technological triumph? Just need to get something off your chest? A secret to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our 24-hour No BS Podcast hotline at 877.404.1337 x1337--operators are standing by