The end may be nigh for the Zune. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer came up with a measured reply – equal parts of realism and escapism – when queried about the Zune’s future by BusinessWeek editor Stephen Adler at the McGraw-Hill media conference in New York. Though Ballmer reiterated Microsoft’s commitment to the platform, he admitted that the company will not be pouring a lot of money into it.
He said that Zune is both a device and a service. “And the future may be the software/ecosystem on other devices,” Ballmer went on to add. This is being read as a veiled hint at Zune’s impending demise as a hardware platform; Zune may be reduced to an iTunes-like service for other hardware platforms.
Hoping to upend Apple’s Mac Pro cart, Dell said its new Precision 7500 dual Nehalem Xeon workstations will pack up to six times the amount of RAM and at higher speeds than are available with today’s hottest Apple machines.
Users can get to the 192GB mark by stuffing 12 16GB DIMMs into the Precision T7500’s chassis. Dell said the RAM speeds are also increased thanks to support for DDR3/1333. The Precision will use registered ECC RAM for high density configurations. The new chips will also mark the end of FB-DIMM in the dual processor Xeon lineup.
FB-DIMM’s, which use a small and wickedly hot memory controller on each DIMM to buffer the signals, have long been dinged for massive thermal issues and latency penalties. Dell officials said people’s feelings on FB-DIMM aside, it did get the previous generation of CPUs to the RAM densities people needed. One of the primary justifications for FB-DIMM was the density issue on DDR2 but Dell officials said the 192GB mark for DDR3 was not a major technical hurdle in itself. Keeping it cool and keeping acoustics acceptable was a problem, but Dell said it has it under control.
Bandwidth and compute performance of the dual Nehalems leave the previous design in the dust, Dell said. Like the Core i7, the top-end Nehalem Xeons will feature 8MB of L3 cache, 6.4GT/s QPIs, and support Turbo Mode and Hyper-Threading. The Xeon’s will also support something called Direct Cache Access which lets single-threaded applications subsume all of the available shared L3 cache when it’s not being used by other threads.
After seven years of stealth development at Rearden Labs (a startup incubator), OnLive today unveiled itself as a new game service to deliver on-demand games. Basically, instead of running your games on a PC or console at home, you connect your HDTV to a small MicroConsole which receives compressed video from a remote server that actually renders and processes your games. The immediate benefits of the service is its low entry cost, since you don't have to build a high-end gaming PC or invest $500 on a next-gen gaming console. Games purchased with OnLive are activated on remote servers and the only data that is streamed to you is gameplay video and audio. You never have to download software, patches, or handle physical media. Think of it as video-on-demand but for games.
We met with OnLive's founders at Rearden Labs last week to get a sneak preview of the service, try out some games, and grill the developers about how OnLive actually works.
Think streaming video is impractical for gaming? You might be surprised...
Ack! Your smokin' fast Core 2 Quad processor and other Intel chips may suffer from what security experts call "CPU cache poisoning." Sounds nasty, and according to Joanna Rutkowska who discovered the security flaw, it is.
"In this paper we have described practical exploitation of the CPU cache poisoning," Joanna Rutkowska and Rafal Wojtczuk wrote in an abstract paper (PDF). "This is the third attack on SMM (system management mode) memory our team has found within the last 10 months, affecting Intel-based systems. It seems that the current state of firmware security, even in case of such reputable vendors as Intel, is quite unsatisfying."
Rutkowska and Wojtczuk go one to discuss proof of concept codes for arbitrary SMM code execution, which could (theoretically) lead to abuses of the super-privileged SMM mode and embedding SMM rookits. Doing so would (again theoretically) give hackers control over the affected PC. Worse yet, according to Jamey Heary, a consulting systems engineer for Cisco Systems, the hack would be "virtually undetectable."
So what does Intel have to say? "We are working with these researchers. We take this research and all reports seriously. Currently as far as we know, there are no known exploits in the wild," Intel spokesman George Alfs said in a written statement.
Get the full scoop here, then hit the jump and tell us what you think.
Zeebo, backed by Qualcomm, announced a new device it's calling the "fourth video game console." But don't worry if you're a console collector, the Zeebo console probably won't ever see the light of day in the U.S. and is instead being targeted at middle-class buyers in emerging markets.
Referring to the middle-class consumers of the so-called BRIC nations -- Brazil, Russia, India, and China -- Zeebo Chief Executive John Rizzo said "A console for these markets has got to be affordable."
To keep costs down and cut back on rampant piracy, the Zeebo will not use a disc or other fixed media, and instead employs a Qualcomm chipset to allow gamers to connect wirelessly to purchase and download games. The onboard flash memory can store about 50 games, Rizzo said.
Other specs include an ARM 11 / QDSP-5 running at 528MHz, 128MB of DDR memory, VGA (640 x 480) output, three USB 2.0 ports, and an SD card slot.
The Zeebo console will first be available in Brazil for $199, with pricing expected to drop to $150 within the year.
There’s a lot to be excited about when you consider the features Windows Home Server offers out of the box—primarily, automated backup of all your desktop and mobile machines and media streaming to every room in your house. HP builds on this goodness with a second-generation WHS product that boasts both improved hardware and a supercharged features list.
When we reviewed HP’s first foray into the world of Windows Home Server last year, we were optimistic about the future of the platform but a bit underwhelmed by the performance of the little box. Since then, the Home Server software has gone through some teething pains, including a horrific bug that corrupted users’ files (since corrected with the first Service Pack for the Home Server software).
OCZ has been on a mission to undercut the competition in the peripheral gaming market and has released a pair of gaming mice this week towards that goal. The company says its new Behemoth and Eclipse mice are "built with the hardcore gamer in mind" looking for an inexpensive gaming solution.
"OCZ continues to break barriers in the cost for performance arena by offering high performance gaming products that deliver exceptional features, ergonomics, and performance at an aggressive price," commented Ryan Edwards, Director of Product Management for OCZ. "The new Behemoth and Eclipse gaming mice are no exception, offering world-class performance designed to provide the discerning gamer and enthusiast with a superior hands-on control experience whether playing first person shooters or getting creative with design applications."
Both the Eclipse and Behemoth come with a 2-way scrolling wheel, adjustable weight (up to 18g on the Eclipse and 24g on the Behemoth), 4-way changing LED display, black rubberized coating for a no-slip grip, 60IPS tracking speed, and 50G acceleration. The compact-style Eclipse sports an adjustable DPI up to 2400, whereas the larger Behemoth ramps up to 3200.
Bigfoot, the company behind the uber expensive Killer line of network interface cards (NIC), expands its lineup this week with the Killer Xeno Pro and Ultra cards. Both cards run on the PCI-E interface and purportedly offer better throughput than the company's earlier models. But the biggest selling point for the Xeno series is the integrated audio for hardware-accelerated voice-chat.
"Killer Xeno's voice-chat acceleration technology addresses the most requested gamer feature, and will enable the millions of online gamers worldwide who utilize these chat services to enjoy a 'hiccup-free' voice experience while playing the latest generation of online games," Bigfoot wrote in a press release (PDF). "Bigfoot, in providing voice-chat, has partnered with companies supporting leading products such as TeamSpeak and Vivox as well as utilizing the popular open-source application Mumble."
The Xeno Pro comes with 128MB of onboard RAM, while the Xeno Ultra upgrades to 256MB, while also adding a customizable onboard LED status display for caller ID, network statistics, game information, and customized messages. Otherwise, the two cards are share the same spec sheet, including an upgraded NPU, hardware bandwidth control, and a hardware firewall.
The Xeno Pro will be available in April for $130 from both Alienware and EVGA. The Xeno Ultra will be available in May for $180 on retail shelves.
The internet has been rife with rumors of an Apple netbook. Another unconfirmed report has joined this unabated procession of rumors. According to a report on the website of Smarthouse, a prominent technology publication from down under, Apple has a functioning netbook prototype.
The magazine’s source at LG, Korea also claimed that the netbook will be produced in Taiwan and will feature a LG OLED screen. But our abstruse friends at Engadget have pointed out that the author of this particular Smarthouse report, David Richards, has a history of fanning rumors bereft of any logic. So do take this with a pinch of salt.
Time for another price and parts guide! The $1000 parts guide we posted earlier this month garnered much discussion and debate among readers, so we wanted to a better job explaining our choices in this edition. Compared to the pricey decked-out systems from OEM builders like Falcon and Digital Storm, $1500 is still technically in the "budget" range. But for many people, that's still a lot of money to spend on a PC. We catered this build for gamers, and anchored our picks on the GPU and CPU, while judiciously choosing the other parts and brands to fit into our budget limits. The results were pleasantly surprising, and recent price cuts and rebates across the board really helped. Of course, your own configuration may vary wildly from ours depending your own needs, priorities, or brand allegiances, but we think this is an awesome configuration for something building a new gaming PC.
Read on for our parts and price list, and contribute your thoughts and personal configs!