It won't be long before single-core processors will seem as antiquated as single-speed CD-ROM drives, and the case could be made that we're already there. Dual- and quad-core processors rule the landscape, and while Intel's upcoming Core i7 has enthusiasts frothing at the mouth, the chip maker may have something even more mouth watering in the very near future.
If the latest rumor turns out to be true, expect a replacement architecture for Nehalem in 2010 which will double the number of cores per die to eight. Codenamed Sandy Bridge, alleged leaked slides suggest the new architecture will also support hyperthreading, giving the eight-core chip a generous 16 threads to work with. Also look for 16MB of L3 cache to find its way onto the chip.
But for all the hardware goodness, it's the software that may end up playing the biggest role in performance improvements. Intel will reportedly introduce a new instruction set called Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) that will eventually supersede SSE. AVX will double the size of instructions to 256 bits and will be capable of performing up to four calculations in a single instruction.
With over a year to go before the supposed new architecture makes a debut, will developers be ready by then to take advantage of the additional cores and new instruction set?
Four years is an eternity in the computer world, but it doesn't take a crystal ball to predict that Linux will continue making headway against Microsoft's close-source Windows OS. Between Vista needing gimmicks to convert the skeptics (Mojave), to increasingly user-friendly versions of Ubuntu, Microsoft may find itself in a grudge match with the open-source community by 2012. But what can we expect out of a Linux distro in 48 months? InformationWeek attempts to answer that question with a mix of bold predictions and some much needed feature enhancements. Let's take a look at some of the highlights.
Three Basic Usage Modes
Linux has traditionally been free for most users, but in-store boxed copies complete with a price tag have started popping up, and IW says this trend will "at least gain nominal momentum." Free to use variants won't be disappearing anytime soon, and IW sees free distributions that contain no components with patent encumbrances or other issues picking up steam.
While Linux hardware is already present in a plethora of devices, look for it to become a brand name four years down the road, pushed in large part by the continued popularity of the Netbook market.
Bye-Bye Command Line!
One of the biggest roadblocks preventing Linux from marching into the mainstream market is ease-of-use. The days of typing in commands died with DOS, but on a Linux distro, even some basic configurations might require the user to fire up the Terminal. Of course, there are legions of Linux-ites that prefer it this way, the same ones who not so affectionately refer to Ubuntu as Noobuntu.
Catch all the predictions here, then tell us your Linux predictions below!
Indilinx has completed the development of their Barefoot (IDX22) high-performing solid state drive controller with 90nm process technology which shows an impressive fastest read speed of 230MB/s and supports a capacity of up to 512GB with multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash. Indilinx claims “phenomenal performance at a competitive price”.
Barefoot supports native SATA 2.0 interface and provides maximum read and write speed of 230MB/s, 170MB/s with SLC NAND flash, and 200MB/s, 160MB/s with MLC NAND, respectively. It uses Indilinx’s unique architecture and technology, including independently operating 4 channels and external DRAM buffer and it enhances stability and reliability by using two types of hardware error-correcting code (ECC).
Those improvements are coming by leaps and bounds in SSDs. It's not clear if this will be competing with Intel’s controller directly. No mention if this is targeted at portable or stationary (or both) PC market.
Talk about a generational leap forward. The SSD revolution has barely begun, but while others are busy focusing on incremental capacity bumps nowhere near the size of the largest HDD, BitMicro says it can now make SSDs with a ginormous 6.5TB capacity.
According to TG Daily, the company made the claim at the Siggraph trade show held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The rep went on to say that the custom drives can have up to 55,000 input/output instructions per second (IOPS) with sustained (not burst) transfers of up to 230 MB/s. In other words, not only would this wonder drive thoroughly trounce today's SSDs in terms of capacity, but it would be faster too.
The drives would also be physically bigger, with the loose-lipped rep saying the custom SSDs would be about two to three times higher than a regular drive.
Anyone think we'll see 1TB SSDs before long, let alone 6.5TB models?
Electronista says that Intel is planning a super fast 160GB Solid State Drive. They report that Intel's flash memory marketing head Troy Winslow says the Z-P140 was just a prelude to a series of bigger announcements to come before the end of the year. Winslow goes on to say that there will be a series of 1.8- and 2.5-inch drives for ultraportables that will hold between 80GB and 160GB. They should also outperform the 100 megabytes per second reading speed of the Samsung Flash SSD.
Solid State is really making inroads this year and as may predicted, they have invaded laptops first. Perhaps by 2010 they will be the default choice for enthusiast builds in desktops. Their read speeds are faster than traditional hard drives and their capacities have reached a useful level. Winslow points out that Intel’s experience with building quick interconnects between processors and chipsets helps them make improved memory controllers for the SSD drives.
When they hit the same price point and capacity as Western Digital’s Velociraptor drives and they do something about the pokey write speeds, count me in. They aren’t quite ready for mainstream, but they certainly do look like the future.
Since Blu-ray won out on the high-definition format war over Toshiba’s HD DVD, high definition on disc has just languished. Blu-ray’s victory has been a hollow one with few people rushing out to replace their trusty old DVD players and DVD collections. The initial assumption that it was the format war that kept adoption of the new standard slow. It turned out to be customers being perfectly happy with standard DVD quality.
Toshiba has been considering it’s next move and has decided DVD is good enough and is jumping on the "upconverting" DVD player bandwagon. They are releasing the XD-E500 DVD player that they says does more than previous models to improve the look of DVDs on high-definition TVs. At a MSRP of $149.99 it is twice as much as regular "upconverting" players, but it is less than half the price of a Blu-ray player.
An Associated Press report said that the XDE player produced a noticeable sharpening of the image over a standard, $70 up-scaling model on side-by-side LCD HDTVs. Toshiba didn't demonstrate the XDE against a Blu-ray or HD DVD player, however. Toshiba did stress that it's not meant to compete with Blu-ray.
Toshiba is playing up to Blu-ray’s marketing weakness, they can’t seem to convince users that there is enough of a difference in between regular Blu-ray and Standard DVD to warrant the expense of upgrading. The appearance of “upconverting” DVD players is only going to further hinder Blu-ray adoption. It might be an inevitability that someday we will have to upgrade. The big question is who will hold out the longest, Blu-ray’s high prices or consumers not wanting to pay those high prices and holding on to standard DVD? Who do you think will win out? My money is on the consumers.
Vista almost seems to be an anathema, for about 3/4th of the enterprises are so unequivocal in their dislike for Vista that they don’t even intend to adopt the OS three years down the line. Around 28% envisage a move to the OS anywhere between late 2008 and 2010. Half of those surveyed are not fazed by the end of XP’s retail sales and OEM distribution.
Lesson for Microsoft: The Mojave Experiment hasn’t been able to fool incredulous enterprises and it's time that MS devoted more time to addressing Vista’s glaring performance issues. Address their grievances, the tide will surely turn.
Maximum PC readers know not to expect much from a notebook equipped with Intel Integrated graphics, but where do we draw the line? This is the answer Intel attempted to provide on its blog in response to concerns over poor performance of the Centrino 2, G45 based graphics chipset. Intel spokesmen Aaron Brezenski attempted to down play the results of the AMD demonstration pitting a Turion X2 vs. a Centrino 2 in a head to head blue ray and gaming playback competition.The AMD Pavilion dv5z features a RadeonHD 3200 and clearly outperformed the Intel Pavillion dv5t. The Intel based system locked the processor utilization at a steady 100% during video playback while the AMD based system hummed along normally with Windows Defender actively running background scans.
Sony Pictures Image Works organized an event at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles to pay homage to the recently deceased visual effects virtuoso Stan Winston. Several big names from the film fraternity including film director James Cameroon, Shane Mahan, John Nelson, and actor Matt Winston (Stan Winston’s son) were in attendance and took a stroll down memory lane to remember the legend.
Winston was ahead of his time and etched his indelible footprints on visual effects. The event witnessed an outpouring of amusing anecdotes and veneration from the speakers who had known him. His protégé Shane Mahan, who worked with him during Terminator 2, announced that he and partners from Winston Studios are forming a new studio, Legacy Studio, as a mark of respect for Winston.
Winston worked on movies like Terminator and Jurassic Park that are remembered for their groundbreaking special effects as they set the bar higher for future movies. Cutting-edge is an adjective generally used to describe special effects but perhaps it was this avant-garde vfx legend who best justified its use.
What would you do with a multi billion dollar war chest? Well if your Microsoft, you try and buy up the largest search engine you can afford. But ever since Microsoft failed to convince the stubborn Jerry Yang to sell Yahoo, investors have been scratching their heads wondering, what will Microsoft do with all that money? A potential answer emerged last week in the San Francisco Chronicle with the news that Microsoft may spend as much as $20 billion to buy back its own shares within the next three months. Analysts believe this to be in response to its lagging share price which went from a 52 week high of $37.50 to as low as $24.87 by shareholders who worried Microsoft was overpaying for Yahoo. Investors may also be concerned that if buying Yahoo was plan a, plan b is something they should genuinely be worried about. Buying back shares should help push Microsoft’s stock price back up, and buy a bit of good will with shareholders. Tim Allen, analyst and portfolio manager at Wentworth, Hauser and Violich expressed relief that Microsoft was “not going to do something crazy”. The hope is that by reducing the number of shares in the market, earnings per share will increase and stock value will climb as a result. This doesn’t always happen, but is a pretty safe bet with a company like Microsoft that has a steady income stream. Microsoft shares closed down on Friday at $27.81.