3D graphics technology has grown by leaps and bounds since 3DFX first laid its Voodoo on the computing world, and today's videocards boast everything from multiple GPUs in a single package to the promise of physics processing. And not just for gaming, fanatical Folders can crunch through more proteins by utilizing their GPU, or decode a high definition movie on their new big screen TV.
Leading the charge into this new era of 3D computing are Nvidia and ATI, two companies who have recently started going at each others' throats with aggressive price cuts and a deluge of new videocards while simultaneously chasing the performance crown. But for all their battles, both old and new, it's Intel, CPU maker extraordinaire, who continues to lead the market.
Find out how much catching up Nvidia and ATI have to do after the jump.
While other parts of the economy are definitely feeling the slowdown from the energy pinch, Intel remains upbeat and expects no slowdown in global demand for personal computers.
Eweek quotes Intel Chairman, Craig Barrett, "We gave a relatively upbeat business forecast, saying that despite the economic problems in the United States our business is so international that we didn't see any slowdown in the PC market."
He also seemed to brush off the European Union’s recent antitrust charges saying that price reductions for microprocessors and computers have an "anti-inflationary nature". While prices are rising globally, prices for computers and processors have dropped which he calls a testimony to high competition in the sector.
On the high end of desktop processors where Intel currently dominates, it is more like a boxer keeping his opponent on the ropes. AMD currently doesn’t have anything to compete directly with Intel’s high end and Intel would like to keep it that way by slashing its prices and keeping AMD safely behind. Good for consumers right now, but without serious competition those prices will go up someday and there may be less reason for rapid innovation.
Barrett went on to say "It looks as the market is functioning as it should, because every year consumers are getting more for less. We continue to say that, please just look at the facts, don't just listen to a competitor complaint."
Last year the European Commission accused Intel of giving computer makers rebates to limit their use of rival AMD's chips or avoid them altogether. They issued additional charges against Intel earlier this month, saying Intel had paid a retailer off to avoid offering computers with chips made by AMD.
It certainly sounds like Intel will use any tool it can lay its hands on to stay ahead of AMD, and when you’re the size of Intel, what is a little economic downturn?
Microsoft, which is more often on the receiving side of patent infringement claims, now finds itself on the other side of the legal fence and is taking Primax Electronics to task.
Microsoft is upset over several patents on two different technologies used in computer mice. The first is U2, which allows a mouse to connect to both USB and PS/2 ports and then auto detects the port that is being used. The other, TiltWheel, adds additional cursor movement abilities via mouse tipping (not related to cow tipping).
CNet quotes Microsoft Deputy General Counsel Horacio Gutierrez as saying that they filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission against Primax Electronics only after "repeated attempts to engage in meaningful license terms over the past two years."
Microsoft is known to have an open policy with licensing its intellectual property. They license for years at a time and have more than 20 companies that are part of its hardware technology licensing program.
Microsoft does not sound like it is landing in the realm of Patent Troll here; they actually make the products and have other companies licensing the patents. What do you think? Is Microsoft being a Patent Troll or is it just guarding its intellectual property? Sound off below!
Intel can not only lay claim as the current king of chip technology, but its upcoming Nehalem microarchitecture looks poised to keep the silicon studs on top of the competition well into 2009. AMD has yet to threaten Intel's position ever since Conroe, and while the company remains confident under Dirk Meyer as the new head honcho, it's still playing catch up to Intel's 45nm technology.
The situation gets a little more competitive when switching from CPUs to GPUs, and according to Tomshardware, sources at both ATI and Nvidia are saying they will each have a 40nm GPU manufacturing process by the first half of 2009, possibly to be unveiled at next year's CeBit.
Assuming either company meets their target, the accomplishment will unseat Intel as the technological leader in terms of the smallest chip structures, even if only for a short time. The road won't stop at Nehalem and Intel is already busy developing 32nm CPUs, which many expect to be shown off in prototype form at the company's spring development forum in H1 2009. Volume shipments could come as early as Q3 next year.
Even so, if 40nm GPUs materialize as reported, it will mark the first time GPUs will overtake CPUS in terms of production nodes. That won't necessarily make it a better chip, but you can expect plenty of fanfare should Nvidia and/or ATI dethrone the silicon king.
We’ve been calling Intel’s next-generation CPU family code-named Nehalem a Penryn-killer because, sadly, AMD’s best and brightest have hardly been that. For those who haven’t sifted the sands of the Internet, and picked the brains of OEM’s and hardware vendors for every detail of Intel’s next-gen microarchitecture, here’s your quick primer on Nehalem that’ll make you big man on campus at the next geekfest.
How Many Cores?
Most Nehalem’s will be native quad-core with all four compute cores on the same physical die. Intel says that the design of Nehalem will also let the company build an eight-core version, codenamed Beckton, for servers. Intel also hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a multi-chip version so could perhaps see a double-die Beckton with 16 cores as well.
An improved version of HyperThreading will find its way into the core of Nehalem. This improved simultaneous multi-threading, or SMT, will let the OS see a quad-core chip as eight cores. Although some still debate its merit, the implementation of HT in the Pentium 4 generally added 15 percent more performance in multi-threaded applications.
We were beginning to wonder if Creative would ever update its X-Fi soundcard drives to work properly in Vista, and after the whole Daniel_K fiasco, we were about ready to throw in the towel. For those that stuck it out, Creative has finally released a new driver package that fixes the hardware Dolby Digital and DTS decoding in its X-Fi cards running under Vista. The company also added DVD Audio playback, a feature that previously went by the wayside when upgrading from XP to Vista.
The new driver also addresses a niggling bug that causes system crashes when switching to an unsupported sampling rate in the Audio Creation Mode while Dolby Digital Live is enabled.
All X-Fi soundcards except the Xtreme Audio version are supported with the driver update.
Capturing high definition video in the palm of your hand is about to get easier if Sanyo's DMX-HD800 can live up to its billing. The 8MP compact camera will come in gold, pink, and black and be capable of recording video in 720p (1280x720) using the AVC/H.264 video codec. Features include:
Drag and drop capable
HD videos and still pictures
Snap photos while filming without pausing the video
Face recognition (up to 12 faces)
Digital image stabilizer
In-camera video editing
Capturing quality videos from a handheld gadget always elicits skepticism, but Sanyo promises its three-dimensional digital noise reduction (3DDNR) filter will offer both clear videos and crisp photos. It was enough to impress AkihabaraNews, who claims the camera represents a "HUGE step forward in video quality" and described the change as "AMAZING" compared to Sanyo's previous model, the HD700.
While Dell stays busy jazzing up its Studio line of laptops and desktops with various color schemes, the OEM let loose another product but without all the fanfare. Available now is Dell's S2409 24-inch widescreen LCD panel, representing the company's first 16:9 aspect ratio display. That puts the screen resolution at 1920x1080 (as opposed to 1920x1200 for 16:10), matching the 1080p output of most high definition content including Blu-ray movies. Other notables include:
HDMI with HDCP
1000:1 contrast ratio
0.276 mm pixel pitch
5 ms response time (gray-to-gray)
16.7 million colors
The new display doesn't come with bells and whistles such as a USB hub or integrated speakers, but it does carry a relatively friendly price tag at $379 with 3-year warranty.
The net is no place for slowpokes and Netgear hopes to nudge home networks into 802.11n territory with its Wireless-N Upgrade Kit (WNEB3100). For MSRP $149 (cheaper online), the kit comes with Netgear's 5GHz Wireless-N HD Access Point (WNHDE111) and the company's RangeMax DualBand Wireless-N Adapter (WNDA3100). When plugged into an existing router or gateway, the kit gives surfers an easy upgrade path to a speedy dual-band Wireless-N network which any Wi-Fi compliant computer or device can then tap into.
“The Wireless-N Upgrade kit enables customers with existing gateways and routers from their ISPs to easily add the performance benefits of 5GHz Wireless-N to their networks by simply connecting the kit to their existing wireless equipment, eliminating the need to re-wire, reconfigure or replace any existing equipment,” explained Som Pal Choudhury, Senior Product Line Manager for Advanced Wireless at Netgear.
The Access Point can also serve duty as a standalone bridge for connecting game consoles, media receivers, and other similar devices, and supports a wireless 'ad-hoc' mode for multicast point-to-multi-point high definition video streaming and wireless LAN peer-to-peer gaming. And because it comes equipped with automatic Quality of Service (QOS), Netgear claims gaming and movie watching will be lag- and jitter-free.
We thought maybe Jointech's $99 mini laptop would be the first sub $100 notebook to make it big in the market, but Gartner analysts say that the prices of mini-notebooks are unlikely to drop to that magical price range for at least another three years. Analysts warn, though, that the focus of breaking the $100 barrier should be shifted to other issues related to mini-notebooks such as determining relevant hardware specifications and power requirements.
Annette Jump, research director at Gartner, believes that the declining prices of hardware along with the increased demand for the devices could potentially reduce prices by 10 to 15 percent in the next two to three years. Will this decline in prices be enough to break the $100 barrier? Jump believes that in order for mini-notebooks to be successful in the consumer and business realm, they should not be considered a computing device but rather a device to explore the Internet and a way for people to work, play, and communicate.
“We expect to see increased product innovation in the PC market during the next few years,” said Ms. Jump. “Mini-notebooks will create opportunities to reach many buyers across all regions, both in mature markets as additional devices, and in emerging markets as PCs.”