This week marks a double whammy for PC I/O standards. With the USB Promotor Group announcing the final 1.0 version of the USB 3.0 standard, it has paved the way for the PCMCIA trade association to finalize its ExpressCard 2.0 standard, which it has done today.
"ExpressCard technology is closely tied to the PCI Express(r) and USB specifications, and the 2.0 release of our standard takes full advantage of recent advancements in both interface technologies," said Brad Saunders, chairman, PCMCIA. "Now that the new SuperSpeed USB specification is ready, PCMCIA can move forward to finalize the ExpressCard 2.0 release and make it available to members in early 2009."
Saunders went on to say that new products capable of taking advantage of the new standard will materialize in 2010. ExpressCard 2.0 gives the spec a considerable speed boost by supporting transfer rates up to 10 times faster than ExpressCard 1.2. The new 2.0 standard is also backwards compatible with products compliant with any previous standard.
Storage that uses flash memory is quite unlike the hard disk drives used to hold your computer’s data. The latter rely on speedy actuators to read and write information on spinning magnetic platters. SSDs use electrical charges to read and write the state of individual flash memory cells. An SSD’s flash memory is nonvolatile: Unlike your computer’s RAM, an SSD drive retains your data when you switch the power off. And since the handshake is electric, SSDs can access that data in a fraction of the time it takes a mechanical hard drive to do so.
Sounds ideal, right? Actually, the performance potential of SSDs needs to be weighed against some significant drawbacks. We’re going to outline the pros and cons of the technology and how it compares to traditional hard disk storage. We’re also going to put seven leading solid state drives to the test and let the benchmark numbers do the talking. At this stage in the storage race, an SSD is a big investment; we want to help you maximize your return.
According to a filing released Thursday, the Vista Capable program originally included support for the Windows Driver Display Model (WDDM) as part of the requirement for support of core Windows features. Although OEMs such as Dell, Sony, and Fujitsu all asked for waivers from the WDDM requirement for various computer models that used Intel chipsets with integrated graphics that could not run WDDM drivers, Microsoft refused all three companies' request for waivers because of the improvements in stability and features resulting from WDDM drivers.
However, when Intel came calling on Microsoft , it was a different story. After a series of email exchanges between Intel and Microsoft, Microsoft dropped the WDDM driver requirement, enabling Intel and its OEM partners to market systems with Intel 915 integrated graphics as being "Vista Capable" - even though their integrated graphics would never support Aero Glass or be supported by a WDDM driver.
To find out why some OEM vendors were pleased with Microsoft's relaxing of the WDDM rules, and some weren't, join us after the jump.
When it comes to AMD, the tech world is currently focused on the chip maker's Shanghai processors, which have started showing up at online resellers. Initially planned for a January 2009 release, AMD bumped up the launch of its first 45nm CPUs. But AMD isn't ahead of schedule across the board and the company's 45nm Fusion chip finds itself pushed back once again.
Initially planned for a 2009 release, AMD previously moved the tentative launch date to sometime in 2010 but has now canceled it altogether in its 45nm form. Instead, AMD's senior VP Randy Allen said the CPU/GPU combo won't materialize until 2011 in a 32nm version with the company's Llano core. Llano will sport four cores, 4MB of cache, DDR3 memory support, and an integrated GPU.
On a related note, AMD will actually start producing 32nm chips in 2010, but products won't start to hit the market in any quantity until 2011 starting with the Orochi core, another four-core chip but with 8MB of cache and aimed at the enthusiast desktop sector.
Concerned about the delay? Hit the jump and let us know.
The slowdown in the economy continues to trickle down into the technology sector and new warnings have been issued for both AMD and Intel.According to the marketing research firm IDC; "The supply chain is telling us that there is strong concern for demand decline." As a result IDC, and many other firms are cutting their processor growth forecast to around 2-5 percent for fiscal 2009.
This negative outlook on the global PC market had a crushing effect on the earnings forecasts of both companies. Investment bank Friedman Billings Ramsey has slashed its fourth-quarter earnings expectations for Intel to a meager 30 cents per share, down from a previous estimate of 36 cents. AMD also takes a hit jumping from a 19 cent per share loss to as much as 24 cents.Obviously the situation is much worse for AMD who continues to struggle to find its way out of the red, but both companies are facing challenges.
Wall Street analyst firm ThinkEquity predicts much of the weakness will come from softer corporate notebook demand. According to Avon Securities; "PC OEMs...are worried about having too much inventories if end-market demand comes in materially weaker than expectations this holiday season."
Are you holding back on your PC purchases amidst the economic uncertainty? Hit the jump and help us conduct our own informal survey.
RiData’s 64GB SSD uses an MLC design to pack more data onto its flash memory chips. We like how that makes the drive cheaper than the majority of SSDs on the market. What we don’t like is how the Ultra-S Plus illustrates the performance losses wrought by using this technology instead of a speedier SLC design.
The Ultra-S Plus was able to overtake the fastest hard drive we’ve tested—Western Digital’s Velociraptor—in two of our benchmarks: a random access read measurement and the overall PCMark Vantage score. Neither win came as a surprise. Because hard disk drives suffer lag while the drive arm moves to the proper location on the disk, flash memory consistently outperforms magnetic storage in random access read speeds. This helped in PCMark Vantage because the app’s eight individual benchmark traces favor read performance and random access reads.
It may have been little more than a cruel mistake, but Newegg certainly got our hopes up by showing Core i7 CPU’s for sale a whole three days before the official launch. The offending links and advertisements were quickly pulled from the site and now, little more than a handful of screenshots exist as evidence.
Core i7 is currently slated for launch on November 17thand it appears as though we’ll have to wait until then to place our orders. Normally, this incident wouldn’t classify as news, but the Newegg slip up does give us a pretty good idea of what the retail pricing will be on the three new SKU’s. The site was offering the 2.66GHz entry level part for $319.99, while the 2.93GHz and 3.2GHz models were priced at $599.99 and $1069.99 respectively. UK customers are seeing similar pricing and power users the world over are waiting with egger anticipation to embrace the new architecture.This isn’t surprising given that early benchmarks have the entry level Core i7’s mopping the floor with pricier, and higher clocked Core 2’s.
Super Talent’s 64GB SSD must be using the exact same hardware as RiData’s Ultra-S Plus 64GB. If not, then the similarities between these drives are an amazing coincidence. We recorded identical random access read times for both, an underwhelming .39 milliseconds. Both drives’ PCMark Vantage scores were within one-third of one percent of each other, and they varied by just two seconds in our uncompressed AVI file-creation test.
If these two MLC-based drives are indeed brothers in arms, then they’re the two drunken soldiers stumbling around at the rear of the SSD brigade. Like the RiData, the Super Talent’s performance is unacceptable, even given its low price. While the Super Talent drive overtakes our Western Digital Velociraptor in the real-world PCMark Vantage test, we’d be terrified to use this drive as the primary storage for our operating system. Its random access read scores are swift, but this drive’s random access write performance is atrocious: It was more than 7,000 percent slower than a Velociraptor in our tests!
At long last, the Dell Mini 12 is availableto order for those of us that inhabit North America.
While Dell won’t be shipping out the $549 netbook until December, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get your order in now if you want to be among the first to get one. Packing a 1.33GHz Atom processor, 1GB of memory and a 40GB hard drive, the Mini is looking to be a solid productivity machine, all factors taken into consideration.
The Mini 12 can upgrade to a 1.6GHz Atom processor and an 80GB hard drive, but you’ll end up spending a notably steep $758 for it.
Major notebook vendors like Dell and Apple are going to have a much easier time delivering those beautiful LED backlit screens in the near future, as the price of LEDs are projected to go down by 50%.
While the amount of notebooks that actually had LED backlighting in them was only 5-6% in the first three quarters of this year, that’s expected to shoot all the way up to 25% during this fourth quarter. Even still, it’s projected that up to 40% of notebooks will have LED backlighting in 2009.
At the current rate, it looks like LED backlighting will be standard sometime real soon. That’s a bright future that we look forward to.