Anyone who has recently put together a DDR2-based system would have found themselves jumping for joy when pricing out system memory. Kits that commanded a premium less than two years ago can now be had for under $100, and that's before any applicable mail-in-rebates. Even name-brand 4GB kits are insanely affordable, and the days of having to spend several hundred dollars on newer DDR3 modules are gone, at least now.
The low pricing structure has been that way for some time now, and while system builders couldn't be happier about it, the mood is decidely different among DRAM manufacturers. Both Elpida Memory and Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation (PSC) have said they plan to cut production, just as other manufacturers have done, but so far it has done little to correct the oversupply problem the DRAM industry faces. And according to A-DATA chairman Simon Chen, improvement is only likely to come if a memory chip maker decides to leave the market. Chen went on to say that 2008 has been the worst year for DRAM in the past 15 years.
Eventually the market will bounce back. If you're in the market for RAM, consider buying sooner than later and enjoy the rock bottom pricing while it still exists. And hey, if you know of a good deal on memory, hit the jump and let us know!
It can be argued that AMD didn't start to build an enthusiast following until the Barton days. Back then, the company's efficient processors not only held their own in performance, but destroyed Intel when it came to the bang/buck factor, both in regards to processor pricing and the overall platform (you could pick up a high end AMD motherboard for under $200). Ever since Intel finally responded with its Core 2 architecture, AMD has had a tougher time competing on the performance front, forcing AMD to slash prices, and that's what happening again. In addition to price cuts, AMD is also expanding its tri-core line.
The newly announced Phenom X3 8450e comes clocked at 2.1GHz and the Phenom X2 8250e putters at 1.9GHz. Both processors sport 512KB of L2 cache and 2MB of L3 cache, and both also come rated with a 65W TDP, compared to 95W for AMD's standard Phenom tri-core line. No pricing information has yet been announced for either model.
On the higher end, AMD's Phenom X3 8750 Black Edition will bring an unlocked multiplier to the table and cruise along at 2.4GHz. It will come with the same amount of L2 and L3 cache as the 8450e and 8250e processors, but rated at the aforementioned 95W TDP. Pricing has been set to $134 for bulk orders.
So what about the price cuts? AMD will drop it's X3 8450 (without the 'e' designation) down to $104 and X3 8650 down to $119, both in bulk.
If rumors prove correct, AMD plans to keep busy this month. The company is said to be adding to its ATI HD 4000 lineup with a pair of mid-range HD 4600 series videocards, and an entry level 4500 series GPU.
According to reports, the HD 4650 will be based on ATI's RV730 core with 512MB GDDR2 memory. On the slightly higher end, the HD 4670 will come in two flavors, one sporting 512MB of GDDR3 and one with 1GB of GDDR3. Pricing for the new cards are expected to be between $70 to $90.
On the lower end, the HD 4550 will make a debut in late September with a price tag between $45 to $55. A 256MB version will cost $15 less, and in mid-October, the HD 4350 with 256MB of GDDR2 memory will complete AMD's flurry of new low and mid-range videocards.
Down but not out, AMD may be gearing up to turn its fortunes around in early 2009. The optimism comes courtesy of Chinese-language website HKEPC, which claims to have the skinny on 10 new AMD processors expected to be released during the next three quarters. And where is HKEPC getting their information? Un-named motherboard makers, of course.
According to the report, AMD will begin production of two versions of what it has code named Deneb later this year. One version of Deneb boasting clockspeeds between 2.6GHz to 3.0GHz will have a thermal envelop of 125W, while another version, clocked between 2.4GHz and 2.8GHz, will come rated at 95W. The latter is expected in Q1 2009.
AMD's Propus processors will have smaller amounts of cache than their Deneb brethren, and those carrying the EE designation will consume just 45W. HKEPC says to AMD will start producing Propus parts in the Q1 and Q2 of 2009.
Let's start with the good news. Intel's new SSDs aren't just fast, they appear to be stupid-fast. The chip maker claims read speeds up to 250MB per second and write speeds up to 70MB per second, along with an 85ms read latency. And while Maximum PC has yet to put these numbers to the test, initial reports (BAM, POW) at least look promising.
Now the bad news. While Intel might be helping SSD technology regain its reputation for speed, the company's also pushing SSDs right back into stratosphere pricing tiers at a time when vendors are making a push for higher price/GB ratios. Intel announced its 80GB version will cost $595 (available now), and that's in 1,000 quantities - yikes! The 160GB model will debut later this year for an unspecified amount, but it's probably safe to assume it will command over $1,000.
Anyone think the additional speed is worth the pricing premium?
It appears AMD will tag upcoming Phenom processors with the FX nomenclature the company has used in the past. You might recall AMD's Athlon FX line sported both higher clockspeeds and an unlocked multiplier while carrying a premium price tag.
Not much is known about the upcoming Phenom FX line, but it's believed the new processors will be basaed on the Deneb FX core with four processing engines, shared L3 cache, and built on a 45nm process. TomsHardware reports the Phenom FX line will make a debut in mid-2009 on AMD's new AM3 socket platform. Whether or not AM2 platform owners will be left out in the cold remains to be seen, but AMD has previously stated that AM3 processors will work in AM2 sockets.
Pricing has yet to be revealed, and traditionally AMD's FX CPUs have held the upper end of the pricing spectrum. But at the same time, even AMD's current 'Black Edition' processors, which also boast an unlocked multiplier, don't break the bank. The company's flagship Phenom 9950 Black Edition commands less than $200 on Newegg.
AMD, the one company in a position to give Intel a run for its money, has seen just how hard it is to keep up. Ever since Intel woke up from its Netburst slumber, the mostly two-man CPU market has been dominated by Intel and its Core 2 architecture, and that doesn't look to change any time soon. Is there room for another contender?
Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Computing Technology are talking about a new microprocessor they hope will make major headway in China by 2010. Backed by government funding, the chip was developed by more than 200 researchers.
"Twenty years ago in China, we didn't support R&D for microprocessors," said Zhiewi Xu, deputy director of ICT. "The decision makers and IT community have come to realize that CPUs are important."
China knows its getting a late start, but this isn't brand new territory for ICT. The group first began designing a single-core chip back in 2001, with Godson-1, China's first general purpose CPU, making a debut one year later. Now in its third iteration, engineers have added 200 additional instructions to Godson-3 to simulate a x86 chip, which will allow it to run more software than either of its predecessors.
It's worth noting that China's goal with the new processor isn't to take down Intel, a Herculean task by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, Tom Halfhill, an analyst at research firm In-Stat and Maximum PC magazine columnist, points out that "China wants to be independent. They don't want to be dependent on outside countries for critical technologies like microprocessors, which are, nowadays, a fundamental commodity."
On September 15th, Intel is expected to unveil its Xeon 7400 series Dunnington processor. What makes the server chip so special is it will be the first six-core processor, and likely the last Penryn to make a debut before the Nehalem microarchitecture takes over starting with the Core i7.
In another first, Dunnington will be the first Intel chip to sport a monolithic design, meaning all six cores will come on one slice of silicon. By contrast, the Core 2 Quad and four-core Xeon processors to date integrate two dual-core chips in a single package.
In addition to having six cores, the server market hopes to get big performance gains from the large 16MB of shared L3 cache. According to Intel senior vice president Pat Gelsinger, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell will have product announcements related to the Xeon 7400 series in September.
For the AMD faithful not quite ready to step up to quad-core processing, AMD this week will start adding to its triple-core lineup. The new processors are based on AMD's Toliman core.
Phenom X3 8750 (2.5GHz, 95W)
Phenom X3 8550 (2.2GHz, 95W)
Phenom X3 8450e (2.1GHz, 65W)
Note the 'e' designation in the last processor, which will represent AMD's new lower wattage CPUs. The X3 8450e will be the first 65W tri-core out of the gates, followed by the Phenom X3 8250e (1.9GHz, 65W).
Astute readers might also notice that the Phenom X3 8750 is incorrectly clocked at 2.5GHz instead of 2.4GHz. That's not a typo, and according to TomsHardware, AMD plans to bump up the clockspeed by 100MHz. Not only that, but THW says the flagship tri-core CPU will sport an unlocked multiplier. Oddly enough, the site also reports AMD will release a Phenom X3 8850 clocked at 2.5GHz this October, with an unlocked version to follow in December. Go figure.
Has the time come to say goodbye to Abit? According to Hexus.net, the Taiwanese technology company and one-time enthusiast favorite will exit the motherboard market at the end of 2008.
"HEXUS.channel has confirmed this as fact from sources close to South East Asian distributors," the news and review site writes. "all of which will be notified by their Abit sales contacts from today onwards."
This isn't the first time Abit has been rumored to shut down or leave motherboards behind. Faced with bankruptcy, Abit was acquired by Taiwanese manufacturer Universal Scientific International (USI) back in May of 2006, and rumors this past year of Abit's demise swirled so strongly that the company issued a public denial.
Old school enthusiasts might recall Abit as one of the premier motherboard makers geared towards overclockers, a reputation which arguably took a hit when the company inked a deal to sell Fatal1ty branded products just months before the acquisition. For fans both old and new, Hexus reports Abill will honor RMAs and warranties for three years subsequently.