AMD’s graphics division, the former ATI Technologies, loves a good surprise. The company has been a perennial also-ran in the graphics performance arena, but every now and then, it one-ups the competition in a big way. That happened back in 2002, with the launch of the original Radeon 9700, which stole the performance lead from archrival Nvidia. It happened again last year, with the Radeon HD 4800 series. The 4850, 4870, and 4890 weren’t always faster than the competition, but they were small, efficient chips that forced Nvidia into a price war that was good for users but bad for Nvidia’s bottom line.
Now AMD’s doing it again, putting some serious hurt on the competition with the first GPU to support Microsoft’s upcoming DirectX 11 API. AMD’s also been paying close attention to the emerging market for non-gaming apps accelerated by GPUs, such as video transcoding and digital photography, fully supporting DirectCompute 11 and OpenCL standards for general purpose computing on graphics cards.
This new chip is no shrinking violet in the numbers department. Every number associated with the new Radeon 5800 series is staggering: 2.15 billion transistors, 2.7 trillion floating-point operations a second, more than 20 gigapixels per second throughput, 1,600 shader units. Other numbers impress because of their smallness. One example: The idle power is a scant 27W— lower than many entry level GPUs.
Given the sheer scale and ambition of this GPU, does it deliver in the performance realm? And will it deliver at a price normal humans can afford? Let’s find out.
According to Samsung president Oh-Hyn Kwon, the memory maker has decided to ramp up production of DDR3 chips and put an end to the DDR3 shortage.
A DDR3 shortage is news to us, but Kwon said that the supply of DDR3 chips has tightened in recent times, which he blames on a faster-than-expected pickup in demand. To alleviate the potential problem, Samsung will allocate more capacity to DDR3 output, with most of the focus moving towards 40nm.
How this all will affect pricing remains anyone's guess. According to Kwon, industry players won't even known what kind of pricing trend to expect until after late November, but he did add that DRAM pricing has returned to "reasonable" levels.
For some time now Apple has stolen all the thunder when it comes to the idea of a tablet – but it appears that we’ve been looking in the wrong place. In a very real announcement, Microsoft has revealed their Courier tablet concept, and it looks absolutely divine.
The Courier (which can be seen in conceptual video form here), is reportedly in the late stages of development and despite its appearance, is a tablet, not a booklet. The 7-inch screens will support multitouch, writing, flicking, and drawing with a stylus or your fingers. A hinge that houses an iPhone-style home button, which you can use to bookmark pages, connects them both. The back cover will sport a three megpixel camera, and the lights that display status (wireless signal, battery life, etc.) will line up on the bottom.
No word yet on pricing or availability, but there’ll be plenty of news to come in the next few days.
Techies are too often tempted by the lure of new technology, leaving perfectly good hardware drifting in the wake of compulsive upgrading. And while we love getting new gadgets as much as the next geek, we also like how a new purchase gives us the opportunity to take apart and tinker with our older gear in the Lab. Whether it’s by soldering circuit boards or loading open-source firmware, we pride ourselves on being able to stretch the lifespan of older electronics by performing undocumented (and sometimes warranty-breaking) hardware hacks.
The projects we’ve included here range from relatively safe software tweaks to more challenging technical exercises. You’ll learn how to bend USB connections to your will and imbue home routers and digital cameras with robust new features. We’ve also taken some inspiration from projects we’ve seen online, including building a blue laser gun and making a digital picture frame you can mount on the wall of your office. These hacks will help you showcase your craftiness and give you a better understanding of how your electronics work. And the best part is that your old hardware will be faster, cooler, and more awesome afterward.
It's been kind of quiet over at Samsung lately, and we now know why. The eggheads behind the scenes have been readying a slew of mobile technologies, not the least of which is a pair of 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 processors, which the S5PC110 and S5PV210, the company announced at the sixth annual Samsung Mobile Solutions Forum held at the Westin Taipei Hotel.
"More and more, user generated content currently accessed via the PC will be spread to mobile devices," said Dr. Kwang Hyun Kim, senior VP, strategic marketing team, Samsung. "PC-level performance with lower power consumption will become mainstream requirements for advanced mobile devices. Samsung developed S5PC110 and S5PV210 application processors to satisfy these conflicting requirements to enable a new level of user experience not previously possible."
Built around a 45nm Low Power fabrication processor, Samsung says both new chips will pave the way for longer battery life for mobile devices running on standard size batteries. On the performance side, the two CPUs will also come equipped with 32KB data and 32KB instruction caches, as well as 512KB L2 cache. All this in addition to a built-in 3D graphics engine and an integrated 1080p full HD codec engine - phew!
Samsung also announced a 5-megapixel system-on-chip (SoC) image sensor for high-end mobile phones, the world's first mobile display driver IC with embedded touch screen control, ramped up production of the company's proprietary OneDRAM fusion memory for handsets, and production of a new non-volatile memory technology called PRAM (phase change random access memory) that promises high-performance and low power consumption.
The SATA International Organization (SATA-IO) is planning to introduce the latest SATA connector at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF). The new platform, named mini-SATA (mSATA), is roughly the size of a business card and is similar in size to the PCI Express Controller.
Primarily aimed at manufacturers, the mSATA connector was designed for smaller storage solutions, such as 32 to 64GB and meant to supplement primary storage. The folks at SATA-IO anticipate that the new module will allow systems makers to provide more creative storage solutions such as dedicated OS or application drives.
Toshiba and SanDisk also announced they would be debuting mSATA modules in various storage sizes at their booths at IDF. Overall, the new platform will create smaller netbooks and mobile products and "Smaller is always better,” says Steve Duplessi, tech analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group.
Backwards Compatility with AM3 is the Big Surprise
Eat that Gulftown: AMD officials have not only confirmed that it will release a hexa-core processor next year – but it will be backwards compatible with existing AM3 and AM2+ motherboards.
Although heavily reported as a rumor that an AMD six-core was coming to consumer desktops, the company had not confirmed rumors. That is until Monday, when AMD officials told Maximum PC that the chip was a done deal.
“We are all about platform longevity and long-lived upgrade paths,” and AMD spokesman said in a sideways ding at its competitor Intel which has a penchant for requiring new sockets for its CPUs. Intel currently has three different socket infrastructures on its desktop computers – all incompatible. The confirmation also comes one day before Intel’s three-day IDF conference which usually blots out all news from competitors for days.
We’re finally out of the woods. After nearly a year in which the Intel X-25M was virtually the only solid state drive on the market not to suffer from severe latency during sustained random writes, the past few months have brought us sweet relief in the form of new SSDs with stutter-less memory controllers from such manufacturers as Samsung and Indilinx. This month, we tested the 128GB Patriot Torqx, which uses an Indilinx “Barefoot” memory controller and 64MB DRAM write cache to end the stuttering problem once and for all.
Right out of the box, Patriot impresses with the thoughtful inclusion of a 3.5-inch tray adapter for its 2.5-inch drive. It’s just a simple sheet of pot metal with screw holes and rail mounts, but it’s appreciated. The drive enclosure itself is all brushed-metal—black on top, silver on the bottom—and screws into the adapter easily.
In the small form factor graphics market, Nvidia’s Ion has been stealing the headlines lately, but it turns out VIA might be gearing up to give them a run for their money. Built on a new standard known as “Pico-ITXe”, the company has released their EPIA-P710, which claims to be capable of full 1080p video playback using nothing more than passive cooling. Of course we were skeptical at first, but they have finally backed up their claims by posting a short clip on YouTube showing the board in action.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this new part is how full featured it is given the size. It sports 3 USB 2.0 ports, has both SATA and IDE, as well as Gigabit Ethernet support. As you might expect, the current build is pared up with a VIA C7 1.0 GHz processor, but apparently this is still more than enough to handle anything the VX855 Media System Processor can’t handle video wise.
After HP acquired high-end PC maker Voodoo, everyone expected to see a lot of their products coming out of HP. That didn’t happen. Dell has kept the Alienware brand highly visible, and they were acquired around the same time. Voodoo’s Rahul Sood has posted an update to his blog to tell everyone just what happened to the venerable maker of really expensive PCs.
According to Sood, Voodoo still exists, and the long silence was something of a transitional period to get the company completely integrated with HP. “Voodoo, as you all know, was to be integrated into the larger business units so we could take some of our ideas and products to a much larger audience,” Sood wrote in his blog.
Indeed, the HP Envy 13 and 15 are good examples of the effects Voodoo has had on HP. Sood explained that the “Voodoo DNA” branding was removed from the laptops because Voodoo didn’t technically design them, HP did. He pointed out that HPs designs have changed dramatically in the last 3 years largely because of Voodoo. The Voodoo founder said the company was changing from a manufacturer, into “something beyond”. The take away seems to be that you’ll probably see some Voodoo branding in the future, but their main goal is to advance HP products as a whole.