IDF 2013: Products With 20Gbps Thunderbolt 2 Appear At IDF 2013

Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2013 - 03:30 PM |
Tagged: z87, Thunderbolt 2, sonnet, Intel, idf 2013, idf, gigabyte, asus, asrock, aja, 4k

Intel recently launched its next generation Thunderbolt 2 interface, and several devices using the new connection were shown off at the Intel Developer Forum. The major takeaway from Thunderbolt 2 is the increased bandwidth and benefits to video production houses working with large uncompressed media. Specifically, Thunderbolt 2 is a PCI-Express based external interface that sends both video output and data down a single cable. Upgrades over the original 10Gbps Thunderbolt standard include an updated to the DisplayPort 1.2 video standard and double the bandwidth to 20Gbps. Thanks to the increased bandwidth, Thunderbolt 2 enables simultaneous video output and video file transfer of 4K media. Video editors can watch and transfer 4K video to an DisplayPort-equipped monitor and external RAID array respectively.

Thunderbolt 2.jpg

Intel is kicking off the Thunderbolt 2 standard with the launch of its DSL5520 and DSL5320 Thunderbolt 2 controllers, which are already in the hands of device manufactures. In fact, there were quite a few bits of hardware being shown off at this years IDF that already support the new Thunderbolt 2 standard. Intel is expecting even more devices in 2014.

Intel Thunderbolt 2 Connectivity.jpg

Professional video editing and workstation hardware with Thunderbolt 2

While consumer PC hardware will be supporting Thunderbolt 2, the new interface is most beneficial to professional users and IDF was the launch pad for several high end pieces of production gear. Sonnet launched the Echo Express III external PCI-E card chassis that allows users to hook up PCI-E cards to systems via Thunderbolt 2 (for example: video capture card or fast solid state storage). Also, AJA showed off a video/audio capture box called the IO 4K that supports daisy chaining other Thunderbolt 2 devices and acts as a video capture card capable of taking in 4K and UltraHD video sources as well as high end audio inputs. Finally, PROMISE Technology showed off its Pegasus2 RAID 5 enclosure and SANLink2 Thunderbolt 2 bridge device.

Sonnet Echo Express III-D and Echo Express III-R PCI-E Card External Chassis.jpg

External boxes are not the only professional products with Thunderbolt 2 at IDF, however. The technology is also being integrated into workstations, including the Apple Mac Pro with six Thunderbolt 2 ports and HP’s new lineup of desktop workstations.

Z87 Motherboards With Thunderbolt 2

Thunderbolt 2 will also be used in consumer gear as well, including Z87 motherboards. Asus, AsRock, and Gigabyte all had motherboards on display that each featured two Thunderbolt 2 ports. The new interface will be available on the multiple boards from the manufacturers. German tech site ComputerBase.de posted several photos of Thunderbolt 2-equipped motherboards and gave a glimpse at the upcoming hardware.

New Motherboards With Thunderbolt 2 From Asus, Asrock, and Gigabyte.jpg

The Asus Z87-Deluxe/Quad, an AsRock Z87 motherboard, and Gigabyte Z87X-UD5 TH spotted at IDF by ComputerBase.de.

Of note are the ASUS Z87-Deluxe/Quad, AsRock Extreme 11/ac, and Gigabyte Z87X-UD7 TH. All boards off LGA 1150 CPU sockets, four DDR3 DIMM slots, a slew of SATA 6Gbps ports, multiple PCI-E 3.0 x16 and x1 slots, and rich rear IO including two Thunderbolt 2 ports (naturally).

AsRock Z87 Extreme 11ac Motherboard with Thunderbolt 2.jpg

The AsRock Z87 Extreme 11/ac via ComputerBase.de.

The following chart breaks down the specifications. Unfortunately pricing and availability have not been announced for these boards, but expect to pay a premium for the high end gaming hardware and new Thunderbolt 2 controller. (The Asrock Extreme 11/ac in particular takes the word “high end” to the, well, extreme.)

  ASUS Z87-Deluxe/Quad AsRock Extreme 11/ac Gigabyte Z87X-UD7 TH
SATA 6Gbps 10 10 10
PCI-E 3.0 x16 3 4 5
PCI-E 3.0 x1 4 3 2
mPCI-E n/a 3 1
Rear IO: --------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
PS/2 n/a 1 1
Audio 6 x analog, 1 x optical 5 x analog, 1 x optical 5 x analog, 1 x optical
Thunderbolt 2 2 2 2
GbE 2 2 1
Video out 1 x HDMI 1 x HDMI, 1 x DP 1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI
USB 3.0 6 (+4 USB 2.0) 6 (+2 USB 2.0) 6
eSATA n/a 1 n/a

It is promising to see so many devices this early into Thunderbolt 2's launch, and the various high end motherboard using both Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3 gives consumers the best of both worlds and access to all manner of external peripherals. The bandwidth increase is certainly welcome, and I am interested to see what sorts of new devices it enables. For now, I think Thunderbolt 2 is going to be mainly a professional (or at least "pro-sumer") technology. With that siad, 4K capture and video output is already being worked on, and I am curious to see what other applications and technologies will really be able to push the new 20Gbps interface and what trickles down to the consumer space!

Are you excited about Thunderbolt 2? Let us know what you think of the IDF-launched products and the interface technology in general in the comments below!

Source: Intel

IDF 2013: ASUS Announces Transformer T100 powered by Bay Trail

Subject: Mobile | September 11, 2013 - 05:36 PM |
Tagged: transformer t100, idf 2013, Bay Trail, atom z3740, asus

Last week at IFA 2013 I wrote about a new ASUS Transformer device called the Trio that combined a Haswell processor and Atom Z2760 Clover Trail CPU for a very interesting 3-scenario unit.  It is definitely an interesting product worth reading about, but ASUS took some time tonight to announce another new Transformer Book: the T100.

t100-1.jpg

The Transformer Book T100 is a 10.1-in ultraportable that can be used as either a standard notebook or as a stand alone tablet; exactly how previous Transformers have functioned.  The design is sleek and light weight: 2.4 pounds for both sections and only 1.2 pounds in tablet only form. 

t100-3.jpg

Powering the T100 is the brand new Intel Atom Z3740 quad-core SoC (max burst rate of 1.8 GHz) based on the Bay Trail platform and Silvermont architecture.  Earlier today we published our review of the Bay Trail processor and the performance improvements over Clover Trail are impressive and noticeable.  Energy efficiency is also improved and ASUS claims that the T100 will get more than 11 hours of battery life. 

t100specs.jpg

The screen is an IPS panel with a resolution of 1366x768.  It runs Windows 8.1 and includes USB 3.0 for accessories and external storage. 

t100-2.jpg

The ASUS Transformer T100 will sell for $349 with 32GB of storage and $399 with 64GB.  For the kind of performance levels and platform flexibility we see with Bay Trail, the sub-$350 price point is very impressive.  Will Android tablets start to take a hit with these low priced Windows options?

Being announced today along with the T100, the ASUS Transformer Book T300 is a larger version of the T100 but powered by Intel's 4th Generation Core processors, Haswell.  The ultra-low voltage processor is the Core i5-4200U or 4500U, both of which are new dual-core variants with 15 watt TDPs.  The 13.3-in screen has a 1920x1080 resolution while the hardware can include storage up to 256GB and DDR3 memory up to 8GB. 

t300specs.jpg

With a weight of 2.4 pounds when docked and 1.8 pounds in tablet form, the T300 is still able to muster a solid 8 hours of battery life. 

I am going to have some hands on time with these notebooks / tablets very soon so stay tuned for more info!!

You can read the full press release below!

ASUS ROG Rampage IV Black Edition Motherboard Claims 5 Overclocking World Records

Subject: Motherboards | September 11, 2013 - 04:44 PM |
Tagged: asus, rampage iv black edition, ASUS ROG, overclocking

Fremont, CA (September 11, 2013) - ASUS today announced that the Republic of Gamers Rampage IV Black Edition motherboard has achieved five world records in 3DMark 11, 3DMark Fire Strike, Cinebench, and CPU-Z Memory benchmarks the OC Main Event San Francisco, co-hosted by ASUS and Corsair, sponsored by Intel. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Intel Extreme Edition, pro-overclockers from around the world gathered with ROG team members Shamino, Raja, and coolice. The team was able to establish five world records using the newly-announced Rampage IV Black Edition Motherboard, Intel 4th Generation Core i7 Extreme Edition Processors and Corsair Dominator Platinum Memory in both 2D and 3D configurations.

ROG Overclocking: Five Major World Records!
Furthering its commitment to the pro-overclocking community, ASUS invited world-class overclockers 8 Pack, Gunslinger, Rbuass, Dumo and Fugger to join forces with ROG team members and engineers Shamino, Raja and coolice. Each brought their unique professional experience, working together to push the Intel Core i7-4960X processors and NVIDIA GeForce TITAN graphics cards to their limits.

image01.jpg

Shamino, Rbuass, 8 Pack and Gunslinger focused on the demanding 4-way SLI 3DMark 11 and Fire Strike benchmarks. On 3DMark 11, the team posted scores of 38,231 marks and 38,227 marks in 4-Way SLI on Entry and Performance presets respectively. On 3DMark Fire Strike, a score of 31,998 marks was achieved.

Using the 2D hardware configuration, the team was able to post a score of 17.55 points on 6-core Cinebench, a category record for the Intel Core i7-4960X. Lastly, the team achieved a memory overclock of 3900 MHz using Corsair Dominator Platinum memory, an unprecedented speed for quad-channel memory configurations.

"We are proud that previous ASUS X79 motherboards have dominated overclocking rankings by breaking 26 world records since the chipset launch," said Jackie Hsu, ASUS Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Worldwide Sales, Open Platform Business Group. "The accomplishments we demonstrated here at the OC Main Event San Francisco are a testament to what is achievable by combining world-class R&D with incredible talents from the enthusiast community.”

Xavier Laurent, Director of Product Marketing for Corsair adds "As a company that creates products by enthusiasts for enthusiasts, collaborating with like-minded partners ASUS and Intel to break world benchmarking records using Corsair Dominator Platinum and Vengeance Pro memory was a natural fit. The success of the OC Main Event San Francisco demonstrates the continued strength of the enthusiast community and validates our commitment to this portion of the ecosystem."

Rampage-IV-Black-Edition-1-723x1000.jpg

I for one welcome our new overclocking overlord

Source: ASUS

ASUS Announces X79 Rampage IV Black Edition at OC Main Event

Subject: Motherboards | September 10, 2013 - 06:15 PM |
Tagged: x79, rampage iv black edition, asus

Tonight at the OC Main Event sponsored by ASUS, Intel and Corsair, a new X79 motherboard was announced.  The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition is being called "bullet proof" by some ASUS personnel I spoke with and should be one of the (if not THE) best X79 platform for Ivy Bridge-E processors available.

black1.jpg

ASUS takes a lot of pride in its motherboard development and they claim to have put 5x as many hours into developing the intricacies of things like memory traces compared to previous X79 offerings.  Over 500 engineering samples of the Black Edition were made prior to finalization and more than 10,000 man hours were put into the design.

black2.jpg

The Rampage IV Black Edition combines features of the Formula series with those of the Extreme boards to really make the ultimate flagship offering.  Things the advanced audio layout for gamers as well as the perfected overclocking capability will make this motherboard impressive, but also pretty damned expensive. 

I was told that unlike the previous Black Edition this motherboard is not a limited edition and will run until the market demands otherwise.

black3.jpg

Keep an eye out for news from the OC Main Event as ASUS has some plans for these overclocking records...

ASUS' Direct CU II works well with GTX 780s

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 5, 2013 - 01:04 PM |
Tagged: asus, GTX 780 DC II OC, DirectCU II, gtx 780

With 3GB of memory ASUS' GeForce GTX 780 DirectCU II OC card strays from the pack in terms of features and design.  With new and improved DirectCU II cooling on the card, high quality chokes and 10 phase power you should be able to push far ahead of the factory overclock of 889MHz with a boost of 941MHz.  You can use [H]ard|OCP's result of 1093-1145MHz core and 6.158GHz memory as a goal to try to reach, as long as you are willing to put the power sliders all the way to the right.  Check out how it performs in their full review.

H_780CU2.jpg

"ASUS revamped the DirectCU II cooling system and visual style, providing a full non-reference video card with the ASUS GeForce GTX 780 DiretCU II OC. New is the hybrid CoolTech fan providing improved airflow, and a 10mm heat pipe. We will see how this video card performs against several GPUs."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

IFA 2013: ASUS Zenbook UX301 and UX302 Sleek Glass

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | September 4, 2013 - 09:11 AM |
Tagged: zenbook, ifa 2013, asus

How about some Ultrabooks? We got Ultrabooks. Thin, light, and metal brushed with their characteristic circular pattern. They are proud of that design, proud enough to cover it, the top of the lid, with a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 to protect it from scratches and gouges. It feels a little absurd to say, but covering metal in glass for increased durability seems to make sense and could help your premium laptop look new for longer.

ZenbookUX301.jpg

These 13.3-inch laptops come in two resolutions: 1920x1080 Full HD is the lower offering, with 2560x1440 for higher-end tastes. Both monitors are IPS-based with 10-point multi-touch capabilities.

The raw specifications for the UX301 are:

  • Intel Core i5-4200U or i7-4500U or i7-4558U
  • 4GB or 8GB DDR3L
  • Intel HD 5100 Graphics
  • SATA 3 SSD (up to 512GB RAID0)
  • 13.3-inch 2560 x 1440 WQHD or 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS multitouch
  • 802.11ac (dual-band), Bluetooth 4.0
  • Mini DisplayPort, Micro-HDMI 1.4
  • 2x USB3.0, 3.5mm headphone/mic, SD card reader
  • Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro

Zenbook UX302.jpg

For the UX302:

  • Intel Core i5-4200U or i7-4500U
  • 4GB DDR3L
  • Intel HD 4400 or NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M (2GB)
  • Up to a 750GB HDD with 16 GB SSD cache
  • 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS multitouch
  • 802.11ac (dual-band), Bluetooth 4.0
  • Mini Displayport, HDMI 1.4
  • 3x USB 3.0, 3.5mm headphone/mic, SD card reader
  • Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro

The UX301 seems to be the more-premium device with obviously higher specs, at least for options, despite being almost 2mm thinner (15.5mm vs 17.2 for the UX302) and a quarter of a pound lighter (1.38kg vs 1.5 kg for the UX302). Both models are listed as a 50W battery, which I assume means 50Wh since watts are not a unit of electrical storage, but I am not entirely sure.

No information about pricing and availability has been released.

Press release after the break.

Source: ASUS

IFA 2013: ASUS Transformer Pad TF701T Tegra 4 Powered

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | September 4, 2013 - 08:34 AM |
Tagged: TF701T, ifa 2013, asus

Among the ASUS announcements is their new Transformer Pad TF701T. Being a Transformer Pad, the TF701T is an Android Tablet which can be used alone or docked in a keyboard for extra battery life and USB 3.0 support -- or, of course, for a keyboard. The touch display is IPS-based, 10.1", and with a native resolution of 2560x1600.

TF701T.jpg

The other raw specifications include:

  • NVIDIA Tegra 4 T40X quad-core SoC.
  • 2GB DDR3L RAM
  • WiFi B/G/N (dual-band) with Miracast support
  • Bluetooth 3.0+EDR
  • Speaker with ASUS "SonicMaster" technology
  • 32GB and 64GB options
  • MicroSDXC port on tablet if you need more storage.
  • SDXC port on the dock if you need even more storage or, of course, to load pictures from a camera
  • USB 3.0 (on dock).
  • 3.5mm headphone/microphone jack.

I find it somewhat interesting that ASUS listed the Tegra 4 "T40X". It seems odd to declare a specific model if, unless I completely missed something, Tegra 4 is not announced to be binned in to multiple SKUs. This might suggest Tegra 4 will have more options than simply, "Get Tegra 4 or wait for Tegra 4i with the built-in Icera modem". Then again, it could be another case of over-description. Either way, it is something we will watch closely and report further on.

Pricing and availability information has not yet been released.

Press release after the break.

Source: ASUS

IFA 2013: ASUS X102BA Ultraportable Powered by AMD Temash A4-1200

Subject: Processors, Mobile | September 4, 2013 - 08:32 AM |
Tagged: Temash, ifa 2013, asus, APU, amd, a4-1200

The hits just keep coming from ASUS this morning with the announcement of a new ultraportable notebook with the ambiguous name of X102BA. Though the name might not be catchy the device itself is more interesting because of the hardware that is powering it, specifically an AMD Temash A4-1200 APU. 

x1021.jpg

This marks one of the few highly visible systems being powered by the AMD Temash architecture and I will be very curious to its reception.  The APU itself is a dual-core part that runs at 1.0 GHz with integrated Radeon HD 8180 graphics that is more than enough for a modest Windows 8 working environment.  There is a quad-core variant of Temash available but ASUS decided to go with the dual-core option.  If you need more information on the new architecture that AMD created for Kabini and Temash (based on Jaguar CPU cores and GCN GPU cores) then you should see our coverage from their announcement back in May.

The rest of the specifications are a bit more tame, including a 1366x768 10.1-in 10-point multi-touch screen, USB 3.0, 802.11n WIFI, bundled Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 and a touted 2-second resume time. 

x1022.jpg

Even though the battery life is only listed at 5 hours, the 2.4 pound weight makes the X102BA a very portable machine.  Plus you can get it in Hot Pink!

Click here to see the full ASUS X102BA press release!!

Source: ASUS

IFA 2013: ASUS Announces Transformer Book Trio with Haswell + Atom

Subject: Mobile | September 4, 2013 - 08:30 AM |
Tagged: z2760, transformer book trio, Transformer, ifa 2013, haswell, atom, asus

You want to hear about maybe the craziest device announcement you'll see all year?  ASUS just unveiled the Transformer Book Trio, a device they are dubbing a "three-in-one" that combines hardware from the Haswell architecture and an Atom Z2760 SoC to offer up a tablet, notebook and even a DESKTOP experience.

trio1.jpg

The Transformer Book Trio is a detachable ultraportable notebook at a glance with a top portion that can be removed and becomes an 11.6-in, 1920x1080 IPS multi-touch screen based Android tablet powered by the Intel Atom Z2760 dual-core Clover Trail platform.  It includes 64GB of on-board flash storage.

When the display is docked to the keyboard the Trio can switch instantly between a Windows 8 and Android environment by pressing a single key.  Data is even shared between the two units via the tablet's 64GB of flash storage. 

trio2.jpg

Here is where things get even more interesting: when detached, the base station of the Transformer Book Trio is not simply dead weight.  As quoted from the ASUS press release below: "With an external display connected via Mini DisplayPort or Micro-HDMI, the PC Station can be used as a self-contained desktop PC featuring Windows 8, which means two people, in two different places, can use the Transformer Book Trio at the same time."

trio3.jpg

Crazy right??  There are more details and specifications below, after the break!  I have already inquired about pricing and availability and I'll post more information as soon as I have it!

Read the full press release on the new ASUS Transformer Book Trio!!

Source: ASUS

Core i7-4960X Ivy Bridge-E Overclocking Update: ASUS P9X79 Pro Results

Subject: Motherboards, Processors | September 3, 2013 - 03:19 PM |
Tagged: x79, P9X79 PRO, Ivy Bridge-E, Intel, i7-4960X, asus

If you read our Intel Core i7-4960X Ivy Bridge-E review posted earlier today, you likely saw our overclocking results.  After publication I got contacted by ASUS asking why we didn't attempt to overclock our CPU sample with one of their updated motherboards.  In truth we were unable to get any of the pre-release UEFI firmware updates to apply to our P9X79 Pro or Rampage IV Extreme motherboards. 

asusoc3.jpg

Move on to this afternoon and we were finally able to patch up the v1.02 of the P9X79 Pro and tossed in the same Core i7-4960X sample we used in our initial story.  What were the results?

asusoc1.jpg

Click to Enlarge

As you can see above we were able to overclock the processor to 4.413 GHz at UEFI set voltage of only 1.40v.  Previously we were only reaching a 4.3 GHz overclock and even had to up the voltage a bit higher.

I was hoping that I would be able to reach the 45x multiplier but alas it wasn't meant to be.  I will keep messing with our 4960X to see how much further can push it.