New Intel HD Graphics Driver Improves Game Performance

Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2013 - 12:13 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 - 11:06 AM |
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 - 07:59 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 - 01:17 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 - 05:51 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 - 09:55 AM |
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

That old hat again? Intel and Apple living together ...

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2013 - 10:27 AM |
Tagged: apple, Intel, rumour, running gag

Once again the old rumour has resurfaced and discussions of what will happen to the market if Apple chooses Intel to manufacture their mobile chips.  As we heard at the end of last year, Intel might be willing to fab ARM processors for iPhones if Apple is willing to move to x86 processors for other larger mobile products.  Today via The Register we heard more about the possibility of the two companies working together, though no real confirmation has yet been made.  This move makes sense for Intel who are not making revenue from the mobile market and even more sense for Apple who are in the midst of suing their current chip provider Samsung in multiple cases across the planet.

"Rumors are again swirling that Apple and Intel are in discussions about Chipzilla baking the chips Cupertino uses to power its iDevices.

"A source close to one of the companies says Intel and Apple executives have discussed the issue in the past year but no agreement has been reached," Reuters reported on Thursday."

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Source: The Register

Shuttle Will Launch Celeron-Powered DS47 SFF PC in April

Subject: Systems | March 5, 2013 - 01:16 AM |
Tagged: shuttle, SFF, PC, Intel, ds47, celeron

If various sources are to be believed, Shuttle will be launching a new small form factor PC in April called the DS47. The new PC will be powered by an Intel Celeron 847 processor and features a fan-less design.

 

shuttle_logo.jpg

The Shuttle DS47 measures 200mm x 29.5mm x 165mm and weighs in at 2.05 kg. The internals include a motherboard with UEFI BIOS, dual core Intel Celeron 847 processor clocked at 1.1 GHz (2MB cache, 18W TDP), HD 2000 processor graphics, up to 16GB of RAM via two DDR3 SO-DIMM slots, and a 2.5” HDD or SSD. The motherboard supports SATA 3 6Gbps, and there is space for a single laptop-sized internal drive. The system also includes a Mini-PCI-E slot for half-size cards and a mSATA port for an SSD.

For such a small PC, it packs quite a bit of port options. The Shuttle DS47 includes the following external IO:

  • 1 x SD card reader
  • 4 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 2 x Gigabit Ethernet jacks
  • 2 x RS232 connections
  • 1 x DVI
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 2.1 channel analog audio output

The DS47 has a nice feature set, and the dual Ethernet ports opens up the possible applications. Thanks to the DS47 opting for the Celeron over an Atom processor, it could easily operate as a file server, NAS, firewall, router, HTPC, or simply a low power desktop computer for example.

Pricing will be where the DS47 succeeds or fails as it aims to strike a balance between the Intel NUC and Atom-powered PCs. Unfortunately, there is no word on just how much this SFF PC will cost. It is rumored for an April launch, however so expect to see official pricing announced shortly.

Read more about small form factor systems at PC Perspective!

Source: FanlessTech

Podcast #239 - NVIDIA GTX TITAN, PlayStation 4 Hardware, SSD Endurance and more!

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2013 - 11:58 PM |
Tagged: titan, Tegra 4i, tegra 4, ssd, ps4, podcast, nvidia, Intel

PC Perspective Podcast #239 - 02/21/2013

Join us this week as we discuss NVIDIA GTX TITAN, PlayStation 4 Hardware, SSD Endurance and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 0:59:53

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:01:20 Crysis 3 Live Game Stream - Win Free Stuff!!
    2. 0:03:20 Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 FM2 Motherboard Review: Overkill for Trinity?
    3. 0:09:25 NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN Preview - GK110, GPU Boost 2.0, Overclocking and GPGPU
    4. 0:24:15 Taking an Accurate Look at SSD Write Endurance
  2. 0:27:20 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  3. News items of interest:
    1. 0:28:50 AMD wants to set the record straight on its future GPU strategy
    2. 0:36:05 A Crowd Funded Mini-ITX Case, the NCASE M1
    3. 0:38:30 Sony's Fourth Playstation (PS4) Specs Revealed
      1. Next Generation Consoles Likely Not Compatible
    4. 0:45:15 NVIDIA Releases Tegra 4i: Mini-Me!
  4. Closing:
    1. 0:49:00 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Ryan: Excel 2013.. or not.
      2. Jeremy: WobbleWorks $75 Pen-Sized 3D Printer on Kickstarter
      3. Josh: Sweet lookin Monitor... not without quirks
      4. Allyn: Gunnar
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  4. Closing/outro

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

Intel's embedded GPU might finally be 'good enough' according to JPR

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 19, 2013 - 10:38 AM |
Tagged: Q4 2012, NVIDA, jon peddie, Intel, amd

Jon Peddie Research have released their findings on the state of the discrete and integrated graphics market, not counting servers, smartphone nor ARM based systems.  While the overall PC market showed a negligible gain of 2.8% over the final quarter of 2012, discrete graphics sales saw a decline of 8.2%, which JPR attributes to a noticeable increase of purchases of systems with only an Intel or AMD embedded GPU.  When you break the quarter down by manufacturer the news is not good.  For AMD the last quarter did see an increase of less than 1% on desktop CPUs but declines of 19% in laptop CPU sales and 13.6% in discrete GPU sales.  Intel saw desktop CPU sales up 3% but lost over 6% on laptop sales with their overall decline compared to last quarter sitting at about 3%.  NVIDIA was hit the hardest at the end of 2012 with only their discrete GPU sales applying to this survey, a loss of 15% on the desktop and a loss of 18% on mobile GPUs lead to an overall decline of 16%.

Compared to the final quarter of 2011, AMD lost 29.4%, Intel 5% and NVIDIA 4.6%, reflecting the difficulty of making sales in the past year; the total discrete GPU market dropped almost 10% or about 3 million units.  Even with the companies making profits, in some cases significant profits, the entire GPU market is depressed with ARM based devices and smartphones starting to erode the market that is already shrinking thanks to Intel and AMD shipping CPUs with embedded GPUs that are good enough for many users needs.

JPRQ12013.png

"The news was disappointing for every one of the major players. AMD dropped 13.6%, Intel slipped the least, just 2.9%, and Nvidia declined the most with 16.7% quarter-to-quarter change, this coming on the heels of a spectacular third quarter. The overall PC market actually grew 2.8% quarter-to-quarter while the graphics market declined 8.2% reflecting a decline in double-attach. That may be attributed to Intel's improved embedded graphics, finally making "good enough" a true statement."

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