Building a capable PC has turned into a stupid-cheap affair as components continue to fall in price. This is helped in large part by slumping DRAM pricing, which has yet to recover no matter how much DRAM makers would like it to. And it doesn't look like it will happen anytime soon.
According to Frank Huang, chairman of Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation (PSC), memory chip prices will continue to sag so long as the economy struggles, and isn't expected to start an upward swing until at least the second half 2009. Huang pointed out that DRAM prices have already dropped close to cost, forcing manufacturers to cut production. But despite a 20 percent production decrease by the end of the year, the effects on the market won't be seen until December, which will fall well shy of a rebound in DRAM pricing.
Take advantage of the low prices while you can, but if Huang's assessment proves correct, you needn't feel rushed.
Nvidia owners with an SLI setup who have dreamed of running multiple monitors have been left in the cold for quite some time now. Stretching your real estate out onto a second monitor forced GeForce owners to disable SLI and reconfigure settings from scratch each time. This could take up several minutes and in some extreme cases, even a reboot. ATI owners on the other hand have had the ability to run crossfire on multi monitors for quite some time now and even Nvidia’s Quadro lineup has a fix in place. The day of reckoning is at hand however for GeForce owners and the wait for a fix may soon be over. According to leaked drivers which were previewed by VR-Zone an update from Nvidia may put the issue to bed once and for all. Screen shots and even a download link to the driver shows SLI multi monitor support in action.
Version 180.10 which Nvidia dubs “Big Bang II” could be rolling out soon and these drivers show that significant progress has been made on the issue. The site currently only offers the 64 bit version and this “leaked” copy features a few limitations which are important to know. Currently only clone mode is available for the second monitor, and 3D applications will match the resolutions on both displays regardless of compatibility. Additionally, these features come with roughly a 5% performance hit acording to 3DMark. Additional program specific conflicts are also being discussed in forums, and Nvidia (understandably) isn’t saying much.
The company has not confirmed the authenticity of these drivers or given any official release date on “Big Bang II”. The suggested launch date of September has obviously come and gone and ForceWare version 178.24 debuted just last week. Since driver releases are traditionally a minimum of one month apart, I highly doubt we will see anything new before late November or sometime in December at the earliest.
On the desktop front, quad-core processors continue to drop in price and it might not be long before dual-core chips get cast aside in the same manner single-core CPUs have been. But in the mobile world, it's another story. Dual-core computing is still where it's at and that doesn't appear to be changing in the next few months.
Citing un-named sources among mother makers, DigiTimes says Intel plans to launch five low wattage processors intended for notebooks on December 28, and only one of them is a quad-core chip. Intel's Core 2 Duo T9800 (2.93GHz, 6MB, 35W) , P9600 (2.66GHz, 6MB, 25W), T9550 (2.66GHz, 6MB, 35W), and T8700 (2.53GHz, 3MB, 25W) are set to debut to at $530, $348, $316, and $241 respectively in thousand-unit trays. Intel will also release a Core 2 Quad Q9000 (2GHz, 6MB, 45W) for $348 (also in thousand-unit trays).
At least one other processor will see a price reduction as a result of the new chips. The P8600 - Intel's current flagship Core 2 Duo CPU - will drop from $241 to $209 in January of 2009.
Nvidia's latest videocard release takes aim at the graphics professional rather than the hardcore gamer with its new Quadro CX GPU. The new card comes just in time for those planning on jumping onto Adobe's Creative Suite 4, as the Quadro CX has been designed with the suite in mind, which Nvidia claims will give uses the "ability to create rich, stunning content in a faster, smoother, and more interactive way."
The Quadro CX comes with 1.5GB of GDDR3 memory on a 384-bit memory interface capable of 76.8GB/sec of memory bandwidth. Dual Link DVI comes standard, as well as support for OpenGL 2.1, Shader Model 4.0, and DirectX 10.
The customized GPU allows Photoshop CS4 to offload real-time image rotation, zooming, and panning, as well as instantaneous view changes. But such goodies won't come cheap. MSRP has been set to $2000. Ouch!
The wait is almost over for anyone who has been anticipating Intel's upcoming processor lineup based on the Nehalem architecture. Citing un-named "industry sources," TGDaily says the new processors will launch on November 17, a little over one month from now. That won't be a paper launch either, as Intel CEO Paul Otellini said during the company's Q3 quarter conference call that Core i7 processors have already begun shipping.
While nothing is yet official, rumors regarding the three desktop processors expected to make the initial Core i7 debut remain unchanged from earlier speculation. These include the Core i7-965XE clocked at 3.2GHz, Core i7-940 clocked at 2.93GHz, and Core i7-920 clocked at 2.66GHz. According to those same sources, pricing in thousand tray quantities will be set at $999, $562, and $284 for the 965XE, 940, and 920 respectively.
Also coinciding with the desktop parts, Intel is expected to release high-performance server chips codenamed Nehalem-EP.
Noticeably late to the solid state storage (SSD) party is Seagate, who earlier said it would offer its first SSDs sometime in 2008. As the year is quickly coming to an end, the company has now pushed its entry into 2009.
"Our history is based on rotating magnetic media," Seagate's senior manager of market development Rich Vignes told Cnet. "But as solid-state comes online, we're embracing this new media type."
Not everyone would agree that Seagate is "embracing" the increasingly popular storage medium. While several companies have made a push to get SSDs into the mainstream market, Seagate's late entry will focus solely on the enterprise market with consumer drivers to be sold "later." So far the company has not yet announced announced plans to manufacturer NAND flash memory by itself like many of it competitors are doing. Instead, Seagate has kept the focus of its flash business to hybrid (flash/HDD) hard drives.
Citing industry sources, DigiTimes reports Asus will soon add a motherboard line to what's quickly becoming a very crowded Eee series. Details remain nonexistent at this point, but if it happens, we could find ourselves on the brink of a new fad, specifically the DIY nettop market.
In other Eee news, Asus' upcoming Eee Top (formerly known as the Eee Monitor), an all-in-one PC, is coming in 16-inch and 19-inch versions with the cost of entry starting at $450, according to DigiTimes. If earlier reports hold true, the touchscreen device will come powered with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, 160GB of hard drive space, a webcam, and various ports all riding on Windows XP.
Asus also addressed reports that its Eee Box systems were shipping with a virus. The company said an internal investigation revealed the virus most likely got onto systems through a USB key that's used for testing and inspection, further clarifying that the rogue file is only launched on models intended for the Japan market. The investigation remains open.
It would take three hands with all digits intact to match the number of buttons on SteelSeries' new World of Warcraft MMO mouse. That's right - 15 programmable buttons grace the rodent's funky cyborgish exterior, and each one of them was designed in conjunction with Blizzard specifically with WoW addicts in mind.
The new mouse level's up its macros skillset by affording macros up to 160 characters long, with over 130 predefined commands for drag-and-drop macro creation in place. But you might find yourself spending the majority of your time grinding away at the light scheme. The world's first WoW mouse boasts no less than 16 million illumination choices with 3 intensity and pulsation levels.
Dedicated MMO players can preorder the mouse now for $99.99, with shipping slated for November 13, 2008.
Update: Press release and another image after the jump!
Last week we updated our Budget Badass to reflect the current price drops and made some improvements in hardware. This week we are shifting our focus to the power user. Shifting our focus also means shifting our cost up, but a higher budget means better hardware and faster performance. We've made a couple of adjustments to the video card and CPU as well as adding a second hard drive while taking your suggestions into consideration. While the final cost of this build exceeds a little past the $2500 mark, we believe the extra performance gain is well worth it. Keep in mind this is a Power User's PC, where our main focus is on utilizing the power of the processor through multitasking and multimedia programs. Read on to see our new setup for this Power User beast.
AMD earlier this week announced plans to split into separate design and manufacturing companies. As part of the split, AMD will retain 44.4 percent ownership in the spinoff of its manufacturing plant - temporarily called The Foundry - with the Abu Dhabi government-formed Advanced Technology Investment Company owning the rest.
Just hours after the announcement was made, Intel said it was investigating whether or not the new company violates a chip licensing agreement it has with AMD. Under terms of the original agreement, AMD has been allowed to use Intel's x86 chip instruction set in exchange for paying Intel a royalty. According to AMD, nothing has changed that would invalidate the cross-licensing.
"We are completely confident the structure of this transaction takes into account our cross-license agreements," Phil Hughes, and AMD spokesman, wrote in an email. "Rest assured - we plan to continue respecting Intel's intellectual property rights, just as we expect them to respect ours."
Not all financial experts agree with AMD's assessment. Hans Mosesmann, a financial analyst with Raymond James, believes AMD probably is violating the cross-license agreement, but doesn't necessarily believe Intel would turn it into a legal matter. Instead, Mosesmann writes that Intel may choose to use it as leverage to "entice AMD to drop the anti-trust suits against Intel in return for this altruistic gesture."