Intel Racks up another IDF Keynote

Subject: General Tech | April 10, 2013 - 12:31 PM |
Tagged: Project Scorpio, Intel, idf 2013, idf, Avonton

Intel talked about their Project Scorpio at IDF, similar to HP's Project Moonshot which has just become available.  Instead of a new Atom server being a complete system installed in a rack there will be a housing into which self contained server modules can be added and will communicate with the other modules via fabric switch.  That way you can pick how many modules you need based on your usage and purchase only that many, with upgrades being as easy as sliding in another module and configuring it.  Lego for admins!

They also showed off information on the new Avonton Atom as well as some information on the next family of Xeon processors which you can read more about at The Tech Report.

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"Intel kicked off IDF Beijing with a keynote address that revealed a number of new server processors in the Atom and Xeon families. The chip maker also discussed its rack scale architecture, which aims to make next-generation servers more flexible and efficient through modular components."

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IDF: ZTE Shows Off New Geek Android Clover Trail+ Smartphone

Subject: Mobile | April 10, 2013 - 08:46 AM |
Tagged: zte, geek, Android, android 4.2, clover trail, Intel, idf, atom z2580

During the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing, China, ZTE showed off its new Geek phone. The Geek is a 5" smartphone running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and powered by a 32nm Intel Clover Trail+ processor.

The ZTE Geek is not quite ready for release, but the internals are now official. Specifications include a dual core Intel Atom Z2580 processor clocked at 2GHz (HyperThreading allows 4 total threads), an integrated SGX 544MP2 GPU clocked at 533MHz, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage. A 2300 mAh battery provides power for the device and can be recharged wirelessly in the ZTE Geek.

ZTE shows off Geek Android phone at IDF Beijing.jpg

Engadget goes hands-on with the ZTE Geek at IDF in Beijing, China.

On the outside, The ZTE Geek features a 5" capacitive multi-touch screen with a resolution of 1280x720 and Gorilla Glass protection. There is a 1MP fixed focus webcam above the display, and an 8MP camera with auto-focus and LED flash on the rear of the device.
The Geek smartphone is compatible with the following wireless connections:

  • GSM: 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
  • UMTS: 900 / 2100 MHz
  • WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n at 2.4GHz
    • DLNA, Wireles hotspot, Wi-Fi Direct, and Wi-Fi Display
  • Bluetooth 3.0 LE
  • GPS (AGPS)

It also offers up an accelerometer, proximity, ambient light, compass, and gyro sensors. Engadget reports that the device on display at IDF is merely a prototype, and the glossy white finish and chassis material is subject to change. Naturally, there is no word yet on pricing, or when it will be released. The smartphone will likely not see an initial US release, however (if past Atom-powered phones are any indication).

What do you think about the ZTE Geek's design and specs? Personally, I'm still pining for the Lenovo K900 (another Clover Trail+ powered smartphone) to see a US release heh.

Source: Engadget

Intel updates Thunderbolt

Subject: General Tech | April 9, 2013 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: Intel, thunderbolt, falcon ridge, DSL4510, DSL4410

As promised, the new Falcon Ridge Thunderbolt controller will be arriving soon, bringing improvements to Thunderbolt.  There will be two different updates supplied by Intel, the first is a doubling of bandwidth to 20Gbit/s which will significantly outpace eSATA and may help drive adoption of the new standard.  Less attractive for the consumer but interesting to businesses is a new revision of the current 10Gbit/s standard which will require less power to do the same job as the current controller.  The Inquirer also mentions that Intel is still looking to replace the copper with fibre optics, though what that will do to the already high price of Thunderbolt cables is unknown as of yet.

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"CHIPMAKER Intel has announced an update to its Thunderbolt bus boosting bandwidth to 20Gbit/s while introducing 10Gbit/s controllers with lower power consumption."

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Source: The Inquirer

Intel Shows DSL4510/4410 and Falcon Ridge 20 Gbps Thunderbolt at NAB

Subject: General Tech, Storage | April 8, 2013 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, nab 13, Intel, falcon ridge, DSL4510, cactus ridge

Way back in July of 2012 Tim Verry wrote a news story on PC Perspective discussing the upcoming Falcon Ridge and Cactus Ridge Thunderbolt controllers, due out in 2014 and 2013 respectively.  It appears this is coming to fruition at the NAB Show 2013 this week in Las Vegas, with two new variants of Thunderbolt on display by Intel.

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Cactus Ridge, now known as the DSL4510 and 4410 controllers will add support for DisplayPort 1.2 when connected to native DisplayPort displays while also improving power management and lowering the implementation costs for hardware designers. 

Maybe more exciting is the prototype of next-generation silicon for Thunderbolt, code named Falcon Ridge, that runs at 20 Gbps, double that of current Thunderbolt implementations.  Intel promises that this will enable 4K video file transfer and display simultaneously.  As expected, production will start in late 2013 with ramping in 2014.

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Thunderbolt's integration into the consumer market has been slower than expected but professionals are seeing more and more uses for this kind of extreme bandwidth as the video production pipeline prepares for large scale 4K distribution.  We are using Thunderbolt internally at PC Perspective for our Frame Rating capture based graphics testing running at nearly 800 MB/s we have been happy with the results. 

Source: Intel

New Intel HD Graphics Driver Improves Game Performance

Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2013 - 03:13 PM |
Tagged: Ivy Bridge, intel hd, Intel, hd 4000, hd 2500

Intel recently released an updated graphics driver for Ivy Bridge processors sporting either HD 4000 or HD 2500 GPUs. The new 15.31.3.3071 (or 15.31.3.64.3071 for those running a 64-bit OS) driver features several under-the-hood optimizations to reduce CPU overhead and improve the driver architecture itself.

Intel Logo.jpg

The driver architecture improvements have also led to improved game performance. Intel claims up to 10% better performance in StarCraft II, Batman: Arkham City, and World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (among others).

The chip giant also notes that the new driver supports OpenCL 1.2 for GPGPU calculations. The graphics driver update is only for Ivy Bridge hardware, and is compatible with Ivy Bridge hardware and both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Windows 8. If you are running Intel's Driver Update Utility, you should get the new driver automatically.

Otherwise, you can grab the new driver from the following link, depending on your OS.

Unfortunately, these drivers are generic Intel HD graphics drivers. If your OEM computer is running Windows with an OEM-customized version of Intel's drivers, you are out of luck. You will need to wait for your OEM to update its driver package in order to take advantage of the performance improvements.

Source: Intel

Haswell, we have a problem. USB 3.0 woes may lead to delays

Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2013 - 02:06 PM |
Tagged: haswell, Intel, usb 3.0, oops

Hardware.Info has recently had confirmation of the rumours we have heard about Intel's USB 3.0 chipset in Haswell; the problem exists and it will cause delays.  Many readers may find this remeniscent of the issues with the Marvell 88SE9123 SATA controller from back in the days of P55 boards.  This time however the issue has been caught before a single board was sold and while it is upsetting that we will be waiting even longer for Haswell perhaps it is better to get a working product late.  It could be quite annoying to lose all your peripherals every time your machine goes into S3.  Follow the links from their post for more details.

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"Intel now officially admits there is a problem with USB 3.0 in Haswell products, and that solving the issue will affect delivery times of various products"

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Intel Will Allegedly Release Three Ivy Bridge-E Processors Later This Year

Subject: General Tech | April 2, 2013 - 10:59 AM |
Tagged: lga 2011, Ivy Bridge-E, Intel, 22nm

Many enthusiasts have been eagerly awaiting the next generation of Intel processors to use LGA 2011, which is supposed to be Ivy Bridge-E. Especially after seeing rumors of a 10 core Xeon E5-2600 V2  Ivy Bridge-EP CPU, I think many users expected at least an eight core Ivy Bridge-E part.

Unfortunately, if a slide posted by VR-Zone China is any indication, LGA 2011 users will not be getting an eight core processor any time soon. The slide suggests that Intel will release three new Ivy Bridge-E CPUs in the third quarter of this year (Q3'13). However, the top-end part is merely a six core CPU with slight improvements over the existing Sandy Bridge-E 3960X chip.

Ivy Bridge-E Lineup.jpg

Specifically, the slide alleges that the initial Intel release will include the Core i7 4820, Core i7 4930K, and the Core i7 4960X. An Ivy Bridge-E equivalent to the SB-E 3970X is noticeably absent from the lineup along with several of the other rumored (higher core count) chips.

Rumored Ivy Bridge-E chips:

  Clockspeed Core Count L3 Cache Manufacturing Process TDP
Core i7 4960X 3.6GHz (4GHz Turbo) 6 15MB 22nm 130W
Core i7 4930K 3.4GHz (3.9GHz Turbo) 6 12MB 22 130W
Core i7 4820K 3.7GHz (3.9GHz Turbo) 4 10MB 22 130W

Existing Sandy Bridge-E equivalents:

  Clockspeed Core Count L3 Cache Manufacturing Process TDP
Core i7 3960X 3.3GHz (3.9GHz Turbo) 6 15MB 32nm 130W
Core i7 3930K 3.2GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) 6 12MB 32nm 130W
Core i7 3820 3.6GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) 4 10MB 32nm 130W

All of the chips allegedly have 130W TDPs, 40 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, support for quad-channel DDR3-1866 memory, and are built on Intel's 22nm manufacturing process. The low end i7 4820 is a quad core chip clocked at 3.7 GHz base and 3.9 GHz turbo with 10MB L3 cache. The i7 4930K is an unlocked six core part with 12MB L3 cache and clockspeeds of 3.4 GHz base and 3.9 GHz turbo. Finally, the Core i7 4960X is rumored to be the highest-end chip Intel will release (at least, initially). It is also a six core part clocked at 3.6 GHz base and 4 GHz turbo. It has 15MB of L3 cache. These chips are the Ivy Bridge-E equivalents to the 3820, 3930K, and 3960X chips respectively. The new processors feature higher clockspeeds, and are based on 22nm 3D transistor technology instead of SB-E's 32nm manufacturing process. It seems that Intel has extended unlocking to the lower-tier LGA 2011 chip, as it is listed as the Core i7 4820K. Having an unlocked multiplier is nice to see at the low end (the low end of the enthusiast platform, anyway). Curiously, the TDP ratings are the same, however. That suggests that the move to 22nm did not net Intel much TDP headroom, and the higher clocks are bringing them up to similar TDP numbers. At least the TDP ratings are not higher than SB-E, such that you motherboard and HSF should have no problems accepting an IVB-E CPU upgrade (with a BIOS update, of course).

It will be interesting to see how the new Ivy Bridge-E chips stack up, especially considering Intel may also be unveiling the consumer-grade Haswell processor this year. On one hand, Ivy Bridge-E offers up a CPU upgrade path for existing systems, but on the other hand pricing and the performance of Haswell (and lack of higher core count Ivy Bridge-E chips like previous rumors suggested) may see enthusiasts instead opt for a motherboard+CPU overhaul instead of simply recycling the LGA 2011/X79 motherboard. At this point, if this new slide holds true it appears that Ivy Bridge E/LGA 2011 will become even more of a niche solely for workstations that need the extra PCI-E lanes and quad channel memory. I say this as someone running a Lynnfield system who is itching for an upgrade and torn on going for the enthusiast platform or waiting for Haswell.

What do you think about the rumored Ivy Bridge-E chips, are they what you expected? Do you think they will be worth a CPU upgrade for your LGA 2011-based system or are you leaning towards Haswell?

Read more about Ivy Bride-E at PC Perspective, including: Ivy Bridge-E after Haswell: I think I've gone cross-eyed.

Impactics Launches Passive D1NU NUC Chassis In Europe

Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 31, 2013 - 04:17 AM |
Tagged: nuc, Intel, impactics, europe, d1nu

Impactics is the latest company to launch its own small form factor case for Intel's Next Unit of Computing (NUC) platform. More heatsink than chassis, the new D1NU chassis sandwiches an Intel NUC motherboard and other internals between two aluminum fin heatsinks. The D1NU measures 170 x 114 x 67mm and weighs 1380g.

D1NU-S_gallery_01.jpg

The D1NU supports Intel's D33217GKE and DCP847SKE motherboards. The motherboard and other components are attached to a solid piece of precision milled 99.99% electrolytic copper (220g), and then to an aluminum heatsink. 

D1NU_gallery_03.jpg

The case seals the components between a top and bottom heatsink and then a 4mm aluminum front bezel and a rear chromium steel bezel with EM shield. The D1NU case/heatsink supports a 25W TDP, and has an MSRP of 99 euros. The front bezel hosts a power button with blue LED and space for a single USB port. The rear of the case can support the outputs of either Intel's Golden Lake or Ski Lake boards. A VESA mount is also in the works. The D1NU comes in silver or black.

D1NU-B_gallery_02.jpg

According to Fanless Tech, the passive NUC case is now available in Europe for €100 Euros from Case King or £87 pounds from Systo.co.uk. No word yet on whether it will show up on this side of the pond, but (although it is a bit pricey) it is certainly a cool NUC heatsink/case (heh)!

Source: Impactics

GDC 13: Intel announces PixelSync and InstantAccess

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 27, 2013 - 08:51 PM |
Tagged: Intel, GDC 13, GDC

GDC 2013 is where the industry comes together to talk about the technology itself. Intel was there, and of course the big blue just had to unveil developments to help them in the PC gaming space. Two new major rendering extensions and updated developer tools debut. And, if you are not a developer, encode your movies with handbrake quicker!

Intel-logo.svg_.png

First up is PixelSync, a DirectX extension for Intel HD Graphics. PixelSync is designed to be used with smoke, hair, and other effects which require blending translucent geometry. With this extension, objects do not need to be sorted before compositing.

Next up is InstantAccess. This DirectX extension allows CPU and integrated GPUs to access the same physical memory. What interests me most about InstantAccess is the ability for developers to write GPU-based applications which can quickly access the same memory as its CPU counterpart. Should the integrated GPU be visible alongside discrete GPUs, this could allow the integrated graphics to help offload GPGPU tasks such as physics while the CPU and discrete GPU handle the more important tasks.

Also updated is their Graphics Performance Analyzers toolset. If you are interested in performance optimization on your software, be sure to check those out.

And for the more general public... Handbrake is now set up to take advantage of Quick Sync Video. Given the popularity of Handbrake, this is quite a big deal for anyone wishing to transcode video using popular and free encoders.

Source: Intel

Intel's inventory undergoes some shrinkage

Subject: Motherboards | March 19, 2013 - 12:55 PM |
Tagged: Intel, qualcomm

The slowdown of PC sales has finally even impacted Intel's supply chain as they reduce the number of chips stocked in inventory.  Even after these years of domination over AMD on the desktop Intel has not been reducing their supplies of chips as they were still selling them at a brisk pace.  It is obvious that has changed over the past year as the lowering sales of PCs and laptops finally lead to Intel reducing the number of chips they have on hand.  They were not the only ones to make this move, with AMD and others also reducing their stocks somewhat.  One area The Register did not report on is GPUs, with the short lifespan of a GPU the stocks of new silicon are also goign to be quite reduced and you should see more discounts on lower end GPUs as resellers try to offload them.  As we have seen before people are still buying electronics, just smaller, more portable devices; Qualcomm's available stock has had to increase by 24% over the same time period.

Q_SD.jpg

"Bean counter iSuppli reckons the major manufacturers acted swiftly to prevent expensive backlogs of baked silicon forming: the average number of days between producing inventory and selling it declined five per cent. The value of the inventory piles also fell five per cent, or $600m, from Q3 to Q4 of 2012, we're told."

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Source: The Register