If you're brand new to the DIY PC building scene, you may think Intel chipset-based motherboard owners have always been able to run multiple Nvidia videocards in SLI. You'd also be wrong. It was less than six months ago that Nvidia officially announced it was licensing its SLI technology to several top-tier motherboard makers for Intel's X58 chipset, in exchange for a fee. So we can't imagine anyone over at Nvidia doing cartwheels when end-users find a way to enable SLI on non-SLI certified boards with a relatively simple BIOS hack.
Citing an article in Taiwanese magazine PC Home Advance, TweakTown reports that not only is it possible, but it's been demonstrated on Gigabyte's EX58-UD4 motherboard. The magazine downloaded the latest F6 BIOS for a slightly different model, the EX58-UD4P, which comes with official SLI support, and slapped it on the less expensive non-SLI board.
Because the model numbers are different, the magazine noted the unsupported BIOS can't be installed using the built-in QFlash utility, and instead requires using the DOS-based SPIFLASH utility. Still a relatively easy hack considering no physical modifications to the board itself needs to be done.
It's unclear whether there were any undesirable side effects from using another board model's BIOS in place of the correct one. It's also unclear whether Nvidia will take measures to prevent this and future BIOS hacks from working with future driver releases.
With IBM having moved away from hardware in the past few years in lieu of focusing more on services business, it might seem odd that Big Blue would be interested in acquiring Sun Microsystems. But analysts say it's Sun's software that IBM really has its eye on.
"The technologies of greatest interest to IBM are Java and Solaris, and those are notably not hardware technologies," said David M. Smith, an analyst at Gartner.
According to The New York Times, the dollar amount being discussed comes close to $7 billion. That breaks down to about $10 per share, or twice Sun's closing price a day before news of the negotiations broke out. Immediately following, shares of Sun shot up just shy of 79 percent on Wednesday to close at $8.89.
Should the merger take place, IBM and Sun would account for about 65 percent of the market for server computers running Unix and 42 percent of the total server market. Citing "a person involved in the discussions," NYT reports an antitrust review would be forthcoming, with the issue being how regulators define the server market. When viewed by numbers of server computers sold, the playing field looks a lot more even, as IBM and Sun would only account for 18 percent of the market.
Giving Amazon's Kindle and Kindle 2 some competition in the eBook market, Fujitsu has at long last released its full-color eBook reader called FLEPia. Fujitsu had first shown off the FLEPia in concept form back in 2006 and has been drumming up interest with periodic glimpses ever since.
The FLEPia comes in both black and white unit colors and features an 8-inch XGA (1024 x 768) touchscreen capable of displaying 260,000 colors. Other specs include 802.11b/g WiFi connectivity, Bluetooth capability, embedded stereo speakers and a headphone connector, and an SD card memory card slot with support for up to 4GB, enough to hold 5,000 paper-based books 300-pages each.
Measuring less than a half an inch thick, Fujitsu says its FLEPia will last up to 40 continuous hours before having to be recharged. According to Fujitsu, the device doesn't require power to maintain a screen display because the color ePaper employed displays text and images by reflecting external light. The only time the FLEPia consumes power, says Fujitsu, is during re-draw, in which power consumption would be about 1/50 that of a standard notebook.
The Japanese version ships with Windows CE 5.0, giving end-users an internet browser, email, and other software.
The FLEPia starts shipping in Japan on April 20th for 99,750 Yen, which converts to a little over $1,000 USD.
Intel's crazy-popular Atom processor already dominates the netbook and nettop segments, but that might turn out to be only a glimpse of things to come. By the end of the year, look for Atom CPUs to have found a home in more than half of all entry-level desktops. What the Caesar?
Citing un-named industry sources in Taiwan, DigiTimes says Intel has had to adjust its target shipment ratio of single-core Atom 230 and dual-core Atom 330 processors as a percentage of total CPU shipments with nettops and entry-level desktops. And what an increase Intel puportely projects. According to the report, Intel expects Atom growth to increase from 4 percent (nettops) and 6 percent (desktops) in the first quarter to 10 percent and 52 percent, respectively, by the fourth quarter of 2009.
As a result, DigiTimes says Intel's 65nm dual-core Celeron E1000-series and 45nm single-core Celeron 200-series CPUs will account for less than a fifth of th shipment makeup by the end of the year.
If the projections hold true, both entry-level and mid-range desktop pricing is likely to go down.
According to Nvidia's Form 10-K filing for the fiscal year ended January 25, 2009, the graphics chip maker has spent $43.6 million to cover warranty and product replacement claims for GPUs suffering from a "weak die/packaging material set."
Nvidia had original set aside a one-time charge of $196 million when it was discovered some of its notebook graphics were failing at an "abnormal rate."
"The previous generation MCP and GPU products that are impacted were included in a number of notebook products that were shipped and sold in significant quantities," Nvidia said in the filing. "Certain notebook configurations of these MCP and GPU products are failing in the field at higher than normal rates. While we have not been able to determine a root cause for these failures, testing suggests a weak material set of die/package combination, system thermal management designs, and customer use patterns are contributing factors."
Given that only $43.6 million -- or 22 percent of the original amount -- has been spent so far, you can take this in one of two ways. Either the problem isn't as widespread as originally thought and the remaining $152.4 million will be more than enough to cover future claims, or there are a lot of mobile GPUs in the wild still to fail from the packaging defect.
In the past year and a half, solid state drives have come from nowhere to take their place as the Next Big Thing in storage, especially in notebooks. The MacBook Air and the Asus Eee PC and OLPC XO-1 (One Laptop Per Child) netbooks were among the first consumer notebooks to utilize solid state drives. While SSDs are still most popular in netbooks, they have begun appearing in more mainstream notebooks and even high-end desktops.
SSDs have much higher read speeds than traditional drives, and with no moving parts, they’re more durable. They’re not susceptible to magnetic interference or vibration, and they use less power and run much more quietly than standard magnetic hard drives. Best of all, they come in standard 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch formfactors with SATA connectors and emulate traditional drives, so they’re compatible with existing architecture. Unfortunately, they’re also orders of magnitude more expensive per megabyte, thus limiting widespread adoption, at least for now.
Although the fastest solid state drives use DRAM for storage (with a battery backup to preserve data), this White Paper will focus on flash-based SSDs—the variety most commonly found in consumer gear.
Just this past week MSI announced that they would begin shipping their CS120 Wind Nettop to the US, and introduced another new laptop, the VR430.
The CS120 Nettop will come complete with a 1.6GHz Atom 230 processor, GMA950 graphics, up to 2GB of RAM, a 160GB HDD, WiFi, a slot-loading DVD burner and enough ports to plug in all your goodies. Best of all, it’s all available for $319.99.
MSI’s latest introduction comes in the form of their 14.1-inch VR430 laptop. Underneath the hood of this bad boy you’ll find an AMD Turion X2 dual-core CPU, ATI Mobility Radeon HD3200 graphics processing, up to 4GB of RAM and it’ll all come to you on a 1,280 x 800 resolution screen. No word yet on pricing for this one, but we don’t suspect it’ll break the bank.
Motion's rugged new J3400 all-in-one tablet PC is being billed as "the ultimate computing tool" for anyone wo needs a "robust device" for both indoor and outdoor use. And it's hard to argue that claim, given that it comes equipped with two battery compartments for all-day battery life and a 12.1-inch widescreen outdoor display with Motion's View Anywhere technology.
"The J3400 was developed based on more than seven years of tablet PC experience, and feedback from customers across industries," said David Altounian, president and CEO, Motion Computing. "It is a mobile computing device with the capabilities our customers are demanding – a powerful processor with a compact rugged design that supports users who must be productive whether in the field or in the office."
From a hardware standpoint, the J3400 comes with an Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 (1.4GHz) or SU9300 (1.2GHz) Ultra-Low Voltage (ULV) processor, up to 4GB of RAM, shock-mounted 80/120GB HDD or 74GB SSD, 2MP camera, GPS, multi-card reader, Wi-Fi, and various other goodies.
Helped in part by its rubberized coating, Motion says its J3400 comes IP52 and MIL-STD-810F rated and is tested for real-world, field-ready conditions.
When it comes to software, free trials have become the norm and not the exception. The same doesn't apply to computer hardware, or at least it didn't before now.
EVGA has launched a Loaner Program in which participants can "test out the latest and greatest technology offered for two weeks right in your home." Once you sign up, EVGA says it will randomly select participants, who will then have two weeks to test and review the item(s) before shipping it all off to the next person selected by EVGA. There's no fee to join, however participants are responsible for shipping via UPS to the next tester.
Right now EVGA is offering two programs, one consisting of a Samsung 22-inch 120Hz LCD monitor and Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision glasses, and the other includes an EVGA X58 3X SLI Classified motherboard.
VIA has so far failed to make an impression with its diminutive Nano processor. But the netbook market is far too alluring for it to give up. VIA has launched a new chipset called the VIA VX855 MSP, which can decode full 1080p video, in a bid to stand out from the competition.
Besides its ability to decode 1080p video the VIA VX855 MSP boasts an impressive TDP of 2.3 Watts. The chipset also supports up to eight HD audio channels with a 192 kHz sampling rate. It has all the features of a contemporary chipset’s North and South bridges wedged into a 27mm x 27mm single chip package, which according to VIA occupies 46% less space compared to “competing twin-chip core logic implementations.”
And, of course, it supports Windows 7 among other major operating systems. Finally, there is support for the VIA Nano, C7 and Eden processors at FSB speeds ranging between 400 and 800 MHz. Nvidia has confirmed that its Ion 2 platform will support VIA’s Nano processor. So VX855 will meet its true nemesis by the end of 2009 when the Ion 2 platform debuts.