Systems builders have been living high on the hog when it comes to memory, and why shouldn't they be when considering how far RAM prices have fallen in the past year. Even builds with basics tasks in mind can be found rocking with 4GB or RAM, which at one time would have been a costly proposition.
We won't go so far as to say these good times are coming to end, but prices are heading back up it seems. According to Robert W. Baird and Company, Inc., fully tested DDR2 spot prices are up between 1 and 3 percent. NAND Flash contract pricing is up even more to the tune of 7 to 30 percent. Meanwhile, memory companies' attempts to cut back production have resulted in a 22 percent worldwide DRAM production since September.
In other memory related news, Robert W. Baird and Company says ProMOS, Elpida, and PSC must resubmit plans for DRAM bailout funds. Candidates selected to receive bailout funds aren't expected to finalized until later this month.
If you're building from scratch, chances are you've been eyeballing Intel's newly minted Core i7 platform (as you should be). But the decision isn't so cut and dry when your budget doesn't allow for a new motherboard and kit of triple channel RAM. For those of you sitting pretty on an LGA 775 platform and in need of a processor upgrade, Intel has announced a handful of price cuts affecting its Core 2 Quad, Core 2 Duo, Pentium Dual Core, Celeron, and Xeon chips, as well as announced several new lower wattage Core 2 Quads, which drop the TDP from 95W to 65W.
Among those with the new lower TDP rating are the Q9650 (3.0GHz, 12MB), Q9550 (2.83GHz, 12MB), and Q8200 (2.33GHz, 4MB). However, these new revisions won't come cheap, commanding an $82, $107, and $103 premium respectively over their 95W counterparts with newly lowered prices.
New processor models include the E7500 (2.93GHz, 3MB, 1066MH) and E5400 (2.80GHz, 2MB, 800MHz), priced at $133 and $84 respectively in thousand-unit trays.
Following Intel's P55 chipset, which is expected to launch sometime late this summer, Intel will release four more mainstream chipsets in the first quarter of 2010. These include the H57, P57, Q57, and H55.
DigiTimes says the higher end H57, P57, and Q57 chipsets will boast support for a revamped version of Intel's Turbo Memory technology currently codenamed Braidwood. This will help with boot times by moving frequently accessed data away from the hard drive and over to Flash memory. The memory chips will also sport a dedicated NVRAM controller for SSD-like read and write speeds, Fudzilla says.
All chipsets will support up to 14 USB 2.0 ports (save for the H55, which checks in with 12), up to 6 SATA ports, and up to 8 PCI-E x1 ports (H55 again being the exception with 6 PCI-E x1 ports).
If you've ever wondered why user reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, it's because of incidents like this. Amazon operates a site called Mechanical Turk, which Amazon describes as "a marketplace for work that requires human intelligence." Thousands of low paying tasks are available for registered users to complete, such as transcribing audio, identifying objects in a photo or video, and other chores humans are still better at than computers. But it was never intended as an outlet for companies to solicit positive user reviews, and that's what a Belkin employee was caught doing.
According to an ad posted on the site, Michael Bayard, Business Development Representative at Belkin, offered to pay users 65 cents for each positive 5/5 review they posted, instructing them to "write as if you own the product and are using it." The ad even asks users to look for negative reviews and mark them as "not helpful."
It didn't take long for Belkin to catch wind of the situation and offer a statement denying knowledge of what was going on.
"It was with great surprise and dismay when we discovered that one of our employees may have posted a number of queries on the Amazon Mechanical Turk website inviting users to post positive reviews of Belkin products in exchange for payment," wrote Mark Reynoso, Belkin President. "Belkin does not participate in, nor does it endorse, unethical practices like this."
Reynoso goes on to say that this is an isolated incident and has worked with Amazon to remove all associated postings.
Having trouble seeing what all the fuss is about after buying a new HDTV? Better get your eyes checked, says Vision Express. According to a study by the UK optometry chain, as many as one-third of adults and children are in need of glasses, contact lenses, or a stronger prescription in order to take advantage of the higher resolutions offered by high definition displays.
"Even a marginally short-sighted person sitting on a sofa watching an HD broadcast may not see the full benefits in enhanced image quality," said Phillip Hyde, head of professional services as Vision Express. "If you're investing in HDTV, you ought to have your eyes checked to make sure you get the full benefit."
So there you have it. The next time some killjoy disses your new Blu-ray player and swank new 52" LCD TV, you can confidently accuse them needing to see an eye doctor.
MSI has been pretty active on the ultra portable PC front, and seems eager to pioneer in an otherwise uninspiring category of computers. After launching the first hybrid storage netbooks a few weeks back, they are now set to debut the first dual core Atom 330 enabled HTPC. The new MSI NetTop D130 will sport 2GB of DDR2 memory and comes standard with a built in DVD burner and 7.1 channel surround sound.
MSI is marketing this as an alternative to stand alone DVD players and are quick to emphasize how easy it is to hook up to modern LCD or Plasma displays. With a peek power consumption of around 35w, it’s defiantly an appealing package. We will have to hold out on passing a verdict however until we see a price and get to play with one in the lab. Currently it is expected to retail in the $200-$300 dollar range but unfortunately MSI has not finalized the pricing.
Circuit City announced on Friday that it will close all of its remaining 567 US stores. As a direct result of the retail chain's closure 34,000 people have been rendered jobless.The company had been in talks with a few potential buyers for quite sometime. In fact, the parleys reportedly went beyond midnight Thursday. However, as the discussions bore no fruits Circuit City was left with no other choice but to liquidate itself. Circuit City is currently offering discounts of up to 30% - which might be revised later - as part of its liquidation sale. Cnet’s Brooke Crothers’ described the situation inside the Circuit City store he visited as chaotic.
Every year around late December or early January the internet is bombarded with the top “whatever and such and such” of 2008. Here at Maximum PC we stopped to reflect on our favorite gaming moments, and even cracked the lid on the best of open source; but we never took the time to focus on the hilarious technological flops of the year now past. Luckily however, Tom’s Hardware has put together a fairly comprehensive list. Some of which we can agree with, others perhaps worthy of debate. The list includes:
1.) HD DVD 2.) Nvidia’s Mobile GeForce 8400M and 8600M 3.) iPhone Killers 4.) Windows Vista 5.) Mobile Television 6.) OLED Displays 7.) Phenom X3 8.) The Microsoft Yahoo Proposed Merger 9.) GPGPU 10.) Sony Ericsson XPeria X1 11.) HybridPower: Pseudo-Green 12.) Sony Batteries 13.) Fiber Optics 14.) Non-HD DTT 15.) GTA IV For PC
I’m sure we have more then a few readers that will jump to the defense of some of these items such as Windows Vista and perhaps OLED or Fiber, but it’s hard to argue with the bulk of it.
What do you think should be added or subtracted from the list?
When Windows Vista launched back in January of 2007, incompatibility was a term that was synonymous with the new OS. Things have clearly improved since then, but almost everyone has at least one or two applications that simply refuse to run, and probably will never see an updated version. The problem for Microsoft grows even larger when you look at businesses that often have very custom mission critical applications that tend to be rather fussy about their operating environment. For these businesses, Vista was simply not an option. The use of virtualization as a solution to incompatibility is nothing new. Unfortunately in most cases it is an overkill approach that requires multiple OS licenses, and a beefy enough rig to support both the guest and host environments.
Those in search of a better solution are overjoyed by the launch of Microsoft's Enterprise Desktop Virtualization Beta, also known as MED-V. The release was announced on the official MDOP blog where Senior Product Manager Ran Oelgiesser seemed enthusiastic about the future of embedded virtualization. “For those of us on the MED-V product team, our primary goal was to deliver an enterprise virtualization solution for the compatibility challenges that IT teams have with some of their line-of-business applications, during the upgrade to new operating systems (like Windows Vista). With MED-V 1.0, you can easily create, deliver and centrally manage virtual Windows XP or 2000 environments (based on Microsoft Virtual PC 2007), and help your users to run legacy applications on their Windows Vista desktops”. MED-V is slated to leave beta in Q2 2009.
With the Windows 7 launch on the horizon, is this too little too late?
Nothing against the NPD Group, but if it’d like to stare us straight in the eyes (as opposed to peering directly into our upturned nostrils), it might want to consider duct-taping a few new tools onto its measuring stick – at least, as far as PC gaming is concerned.
The NPD Group recently released its 2008 PC game sales totals, wherein it concluded that our favorite platform is barely puttering along behind consoles’ gold-paved success parade, claiming that PC game sales are down 14% from 2008.
However, to be frank, they’re wrong. This is, of course, because NPD doesn’t take into account sales of digitally downloaded games, microtransactions, or the all-important subscription fee – that is to say, the rippling base of PC gaming’s food pyramid. The group has taken a few tentative steps into this arena with a quarterly subscription tracker, but its results are not factored into these 2008 totals.
Hopefully, NPD will continue to build off the base it’s formed with the aforementioned subscription tracker – otherwise, its descent into total obsolescence (even where consoles are concerned) will be less like a rollercoaster and more like Richard Garriott after they turn the gravity back on.
Fortunately, while this first run doesn’t look so hot, next week’s figures will be more in-depth. Here’s hoping this decidedly negative knee-jerk reaction finds itself looking foolish before too long.