The Really Good Times are Over
We really do not realize how good we had it. Sure, we could apply that to budget surpluses and the time before the rise of global terrorism, but in this case I am talking about the predictable advancement of graphics due to both design expertise and improvements in process technology. Moore’s law has been exceptionally kind to graphics. We can look back and when we plot the course of these graphics companies, they have actually outstripped Moore in terms of transistor density from generation to generation. Most of this is due to better tools and the expertise gained in what is still a fairly new endeavor as compared to CPUs (the first true 3D accelerators were released in the 1993/94 timeframe).
The complexity of a modern 3D chip is truly mind-boggling. To get a good idea of where we came from, we must look back at the first generations of products that we could actually purchase. The original 3Dfx Voodoo Graphics was comprised of a raster chip and a texture chip, each contained approximately 1 million transistors (give or take) and were made on a then available .5 micron process (we shall call it 500 nm from here on out to give a sense of perspective with modern process technology). The chips were clocked between 47 and 50 MHz (though often could be clocked up to 57 MHz by going into the init file and putting in “SET SST_GRXCLK=57”… btw, SST stood for Sellers/Smith/Tarolli, the founders of 3Dfx). This revolutionary graphics card at the time could push out 47 to 50 megapixels and had 4 MB of VRAM and was released in the beginning of 1996.
My first 3D graphics card was the Orchid Righteous 3D. Voodoo Graphics was really the first successful consumer 3D graphics card. Yes, there were others before it, but Voodoo Graphics had the largest impact of them all.
In 1998 3Dfx released the Voodoo 2, and it was a significant jump in complexity from the original. These chips were fabricated on a 350 nm process. There were three chips to each card, one of which was the raster chip and the other two were texture chips. At the top end of the product stack was the 12 MB cards. The raster chip had 4 MB of VRAM available to it while each texture chip had 4 MB of VRAM for texture storage. Not only did this product double performance from the Voodoo Graphics, it was able to run in single card configurations at 800x600 (as compared to the max 640x480 of the Voodoo Graphics). This is the same time as when NVIDIA started to become a very aggressive competitor with the Riva TnT and ATI was about to ship the Rage 128.
Subject: General Tech | October 17, 2013 - 01:06 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, Broadwell, delay
Making changes to the CPU in a line of machines creates a much larger impact on a company than changing the GPU, as even if the socket remains the same there are often feature additions and other obstacles to overcome. DigiTimes points out that for vendors who are still rolling out new product lines based on Haswell the delay of Broadwell is good news as it gives them time to sell a few Haswell machines before the chip goes EOL. For consumers looking forward to the discounts on this generation of machine when the next generation is released this news is not as welcome but then again, vendors won't need to recover as much lost income as they would have if Broadwell was released according to its original schedule.
"Intel's decision to delay the mass shipment schedule of its 14nm Broadwell-based processors by one quarter from the end of 2013 is expected to buy brand vendors some time to finish their transition from Ivy Bridge to Haswell and allow them and Intel to readjust their steps in platform transitioning, according to sources from notebook players."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Early adopters struggle with Windows 8.1 update @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft saddles up for a ride on Sky Giraffe @ The Register
- Quark will not be enough for Intel to succeed in wearable or IoT markets @ DigiTimes
- Slip your SIM into a plastic sheath, WIPE international call charges @ The Register
- Rorschach test suggested as CAPTCHA replacement @ The Register
- iPin Mobile Laser Presenter for iPhone @ Funky Kit
- Papa's got a brand-new, undead-proof European carryall @ The Tech Report
Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2013 - 01:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, delay, Broadwell, 14nm
Sad news for those hoping to see Broadwell as Brian Krzanich confirmed that the delays we first heard about in June are still true and Broadwell will not be available until some time in 2014. This slowdown of their Tick Tick strategy has been caused by the high density of defects on wafers which is driving the yields down on these chips which not only leads to less profitability but also means that supplies will be too low to go to market with. He did give The Register some positive news, Intel is working on reducing the time it takes to implement changes to chips in production and within the next year they hope to be able to make changes to a chip three months before it is slated for release without negatively effecting yeilds.
"One of the biggest tasks that Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has set himself is reconfiguring Chipzilla so that it's quicker to build and deploy new products.
So it's a pity he has had to delay the rollout of 14-nanometer Broadwell processor chips until the first quarter of next year due to problems with quality control."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel slumps into mud despite lobbing Internet-of-Things, etc at buyers @ The Register
- How to Code Android Applications With Security In Mind @ Linux.com
- HGST pushes out bulk storage spinner with 5 power-sipping settings @ The Register
- Samsung's Green DDR4 data centre memory can save 45 terawatts per hour @ The Inquirer
- 35,000 vBulletin Sites Have Already Been Exploited By Week Old Hole @ Slashdot
- Building a Rail Gun @ Hack a Day
- Backup4all Professional and novaPDF Professional @ Computing on Demand
Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2013 - 12:37 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, msata, Intel, haswell, fujitsu, Bay Trail-T
Fujitsu recently launched several new mobile devices for business users running Intel's latest Haswell and Atom chips. The "All New In Touch" portfolio includes three new Lifebook notebooks and two Stylistic slate-style tablets. All of the new devices are 14" or smaller, have long battery life (according to Fujitsu), and will be available later this month.
Specifically, the lineup includes the following devices:
- Lifebook T734
- Lifebook T904
- Lifebook U904
- Stylistic Q584
- Stylistic Q704
The Lifebook T734, T904, and U904 are notebooks powered by Intel's Haswell processors. They come with Windows 8.1, DDR3 memory (up to 12GB on some models), several storage options, backlit keyboards, and high resolution displays. The 734 can be fitted with an optical drive or second battery pack. The 13.3" T904 has a 2560x1440 IGZO rotatable/convertible display with touch and pen support while the 14" U904 has a 3200x1800 IGZO display.
The Fujitsu Lifebook U904.
All of the notebooks come with Windows 8.1, touchscreens, and enterprise-friendly security features.
Beyond the touchscreen-enabled notebooks, Fujitsu is launching two new tablets under its STYLISTIC brand: the Q584 and Q704. The Q584 is a 10.1" tablet with 2560x1600 display, smart card shell, and dockable keyboard. It is semi-ruggedized and is dust and water proof. It is powered by an Intel Bay Trail-T (quad core) processor clocked at 2.4GHz and either a 64GB or 128GB mSATA SSD. Other features include a 2MP front and 8MP rear camera and Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and LTE radios.
The Fujitsu Stylistic Q584
The Stylistic Q704 steps the specifications up a bit to a 12.5" semi-ruggedized tablet powered by up to an Intel Haswell i7 vPro CPU, 8GB of LPDDR3 memory, and 256GB mSATA SSD. It has a 1920x1080 resolution display, 2MP front and 5MP rear cameras, and a smart card shell or dockable keyboard. Radios include Wi-Fi (dual band 802.11n), LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS.
The Stylistic tablets will come pre-loaded with Windows 8.1.
The entire Fujitsu lineup should be available later this month at various (not yet specified) price points. For business users, the new devices are worth a look (pending reviews that verify the battery life claims).
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems | October 10, 2013 - 06:59 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, nvidia, Intel, Steam Machine
This should be little-to-no surprise for the viewers of our podcast, as this story was discussed there, but Valve has confirmed AMD and Intel graphics are compatible with Steam Machines. Doug Lombardi of Valve commented by email to, apparently, multiple sources including Forbes and Maximum PC.
Last week, we posted some technical specs of our first wave of Steam Machine prototypes. Although the graphics hardware that we've selected for the first wave of prototypes is a variety of NVIDIA cards, that is not an indication that Steam Machines are NVIDIA-only. In 2014, there will be Steam Machines commercially available with graphics hardware made by AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel. Valve has worked closely together with all three of these companies on optimizing their hardware for SteamOS, and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future.
Ryan and the rest of the podcast crew found the whole situation, "Odd". They could not understand why AMD referred the press to Doug Lombardi rather than circulate a canned statement from him. It was also weird why NVIDIA had an exclusive on the beta program with AMD being commercially available in 2014.
As I have said in the initial post: for what seems to be deliberate non-committal to a specific hardware spec, why limit to a single graphics provider?
Subject: General Tech | October 10, 2013 - 03:01 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: video, SteamOS, Steam Machine, Steam Box, R9 290X, r9 270x, r7 260x, quark, podcast, Intel, ASYS G750JX-DB71, arduino
PC Perspective Podcast #272 - 10/10/2013
Join us this week as we discuss the Radeon R9 280X, R9 270X, R7 260X, Steam Machine Specs, and more!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
0:01:35 Batman: Arkham Winner and new contest!
Week in Review:
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Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Subject: General Tech | October 9, 2013 - 03:04 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Cilk Plus, Intel
There is a punny word for a smooth experience and, when it comes to Intel "Cilk Plus" integration into GCC, ironically unfit. Version 4.8 was finalized by its committee without Intel's library... and a response to their emails. Once the deadline passed, the next earliest inclusion was at some point in 2014.
Fast forward to now: the library has been approved for inclusion to the project.
According to Phoronix, Cilk Plus extends C and C++ with features for programming in multiple threads (and multiple cores). There are two main advantages: solving for-loops in multiple threads and calling functions as a separate thread. Intel claims the for-loop unrolling feature is not a naive implementation; it will schedule your loop's inner tasks using a divide-and-conquer method to reduce overhead in assigning what does what.
We must still wait until 2014 for its inclusion, however. GCC 4.9, the release which is expected to include Cilk Plus, should arrive at some point within the first half of that year.
Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2013 - 12:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: arduino, Intel, texas instruments, galileo, TRE
A telling quote to describe the Arduino community can be found in MAKE:Blog's talk with Intel CEO Brian Krzanich who relates a conversation with a developer who preferred to use Arduino boards for prototyping even when offered Intel boards for free. Today Intel has officially joined the Arduino team with the release of the Galileo which features a new 400MHz Intel Quark SoC with 256 MB of DRAM and Mini-PCIe slot, 100Mb Ethernet port, Micro SD slot, RS-232, and USB host and client ports for interfacing with the device. That puts it on even footing with the popular Raspberry Pi but with the ability to use Arduino shields and a mini-PCIe slot to open up some new possibilities which you will likely be reading about on Hack a Day after it is released.
That was not the only interesting bit of Arduino news out of the Maker Faire, Texas Instruments is also releasing the TRE which is essentially two Arduinos in one. The 1GHz Sitara AM335x processor is described as performing 100 times better than either the Arduino Leonardo or Uno and there is also a full AVR based Arduino present on the board to help process some tasks and to offer a more familiar environment to start playing with the Sitara from. According to The Inquirer you will be able to pick up a TRE sometime in the spring of next year.
"Krzanich’s own interest in Arduino was piqued when an outside developer told him about his product development project, and Krzanich asked him why he was using Arduino instead of an Intel board. Even when Kryzanich offered to make Intel products available to him at low cost or no cost, the developer said he valued the Maker community and the Arduino platform and he wasn’t willing to switch. Members of Krzanich’s team reached out to Massimo Banzi and they forged a partnership to develop the Galileo board and work together on future projects. Banzi said that he’s glad to have more resources and the scale of Intel to help the Arduino platform continue to develop new capabilities and reach new audiences."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Lies, damned lies and benchmarks @ The Inquirer
- In defence of defenestration: Microsoft MUST hurl Gates from the Windows @ The Register
- Cerberus circles BlackBerry as Canucks warn of more losses @ The Register
- Boffins offer ROUTER DEATHLIST for software-defined network builders @ The Register
- Asus RP-N53 Dual-Band Wireless N600 Range Extender @ eTeknix
- Beginners Guides: Repairing a Cracked / Broken Notebook LCD Screen @ PCSTATS
- Samsung Galaxy Gear Review @ TechReviewSource
- Rubber Band Blaster Shoots 10 Rounds a Second @ Hack a Day
Subject: Processors | October 1, 2013 - 02:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, atom, Bay Trail, Z3000, silvermont
Silvermont has a lot of work cut out for it to get out from the shadow of its poorly performing predecessors. The new Z3000 is much more than just a low powered chip, it is Intel's first SoC aimed at taking market share from ARM. It has been out for almost a month now and so it is worth rounding up a few of the reviews to remind you of Intel's plans in the low powered mobile market as well as the new modular server market. The Tech Report benchmarked this chip running both Win8.1 and Android OSes against a variety of products powered by ARM, Snapdragon and Tegra as well as against a Core-i3 and an A4-5000 from AMD. Check out the results in their full review.
"Intel has just pulled back the curtain on the Atom Z3000 series, based on the "Bay Trail" SoC. Equipped with the potent new "Silvermont" CPU architecture, this chip is intended to challenge ARM for supremacy in tablets and convertibles. We have a first look at its architecture and performance."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- Intel Atom Z3770 Bay Trail tablet review: Intels new tablet chip tested with Windows 8.1 and Android 4.2 @ Hardware.info
- Intel Atom Processor Z3770 Bay Trail First Look and Performance Testing @ Legit Reviews
- Overclocking The Ivy Bridge Extreme Core i7 4930K @ Ninjalane
- Intel Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition Review @ Techgage
- Intel Z87 and Haswell 24/7 OC Guide @ techPowerUp
- Intel i7-4930K & i7-4820K Ivy Bridge-E Review @ Hardware Canucks
- ntel Core i7 4960X Extreme Edition @ eTeknix
- Intel Ivy Bridge-E 4960X CPU Review (LN2 inside) @ Madshrimps
- Intel Core i7-4960X Ivy Bridge-E Processor Review @ Legit Reviews
- Intel Iris Pro 5200 graphics review: the end of mid-range GPUs @ Hardware.info
- Intel Xeon E5-2600 v2 review: Ivy Bridge-EP for servers @ Hardware.info
- Xeon E5-2600 v2 series brings Ivy Bridge-EP to servers, workstations @ The Tech Report
Subject: Systems | September 30, 2013 - 03:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: overclocking, nuc, Intel, d54250wyk
Perhaps your first thought upon seeing the new Haswell based NUC was something other than how to overclock it but when Legit Reviews got their hands on the D54250WYK they went straight to the BIOS to see what they could get out of this tiny system. Intel's Visual BIOS made it a snap with their Performance Dashboard page that allows you access to all the usual frequencies you need. Along the way they investigated RAM compatibility, both speed and size, but in the end they succeeded in getting 1866MHz RAM running full speed.
"We’ve spent pretty much all our free time this week using the Intel NUC Kit D54250WYK and if you couldn’t tell from our review, we love the new design and the Intel 4th Generation Core i5-4250U Haswell processor that powers it. In our review we showed you the general performance of the system running at stock speeds. The one question that we didn’t answer at that time is how it performs when overclocked. There aren’t too many things that you can overclock on the NUC since the CPU multiplier and bus speeds are locked down, but we can overclock the DDR3 memory. In the past overclocking the memory clock frequency has yielded some pretty good results for memory bandwidth limited applications and gaming benchmarks. Read on to see how the Intel NUC Kit D54250WYK performs with 1866MHz memory!"
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Intel NUC Kit D54250WYK Review @ Legit Reviews
- HP Envy Rove 20 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Shuttle Fanless Slim-PC DS47 @ techPowerUp
- MESH Elite G4 760SLi @ Kitguru
- 8Pack Releases Ultra High End Systems Range with OverclockersUK @ Kitguru
- CyberPower PC Zeus EVO Lightning 2000 SE System Review @ Ninjalane
- Acer Aspire AZ3-605-UR23 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Gigabyte Brix XM11-3337 @ Legion Hardware