If you can't beat 'em, join 'em; Intel goes Sandforce

Subject: Storage | February 6, 2012 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: ssd, SF-2281 controller, sandforce, Intel, 520 Cherryville, 25nm

While the Intel 320 Series did hold the top spot for quite a while it has been a while since Intel refreshed their SSD line and has fallen behind new controllers in performance.  As of today that changes for the 520 Cherryville series has arrived and it is using none other than SandForce's SF-2281 controller.  Using such a popular controller leaves Intel with a bit of a problem, how do they stand out in such a crowded market?  One way that they have chosen is their home made 25nm synchronous NAND flash; Intel designs and fabs their own which gives them the opportunity to ensure the best flash chips make it into their drives.  The other way they've chosen to differentiate themselves is with a 5-year warranty for owners of this new drive.  Read how they did performance-wise at The Tech Report or else head straight to Al's review right here.

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"Intel's newest solid-state drive pairs a SandForce controller with custom firmware and 25-nm NAND. We've tested the 60 and 240GB models to see how they fare against more than two dozen SSDs, hybrids, and mechanical drives."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging

 

Introduction

Today we take a look at Intel's newest 6Gb/sec SATA SSD - the 520 Series. This is the second non-Intel controller to appear in one of their products. The first was the Marvell controller, which appeared in the 510 Series last March. This time around, Intel has gone with SandForce. This should leave at least one SATA 6Gb/sec model to be released. Taylorsville is the code name for the next SATA 6Gb/sec native-Intel controller, which has been on their roadmap since mid-2010 but has yet to actually materialize. While Taylorsville development continues, Intel has stop-gapped the 6Gb/sec slot with the 510 and now the 520 Series. Intel seemingly worked wonders with the stock Marvell firmware, and while the Marvell controller was much improved over stock, it still lagged far behind other higher performing SATA 6Gb/sec solutions. The SandForce was one of the much more capable controllers eating the 510's lunch, but how much further could Intel improve upon the SandForce firmware?

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I guess a good question to answer up front is - What took them so long?!?! The answer is a bit complicated. Intel has actually been working on getting the 520 out the door for over a year now. They had to start with the same base SandForce firmware but accomplish two things for their version to be successful:

  • Optimize to perform better than other equivalent SandForce models (from competitors).
  • Pass Intel's stringent validation testing.

They didn't say so directly, but I can only imagine Intel's process was plagued by multiple 'back to the drawing board' moments. Trying to one-up competition like OCZ can't be easy as they've been tweaking SandForce firmware since the very beginning. There's also those nasty bugs that would cause random BSOD's or even permanently brick the drive. Such failures have no place in an Intel SSD. Intel's upper limit for each SSD line is a 0.75% annual failure rate, and we've seen SandForce SSD's failing at a higher rate than that this past year.

With each tweak made, Intel would have to once again pass their drives through another round of full validation testing. This is no small task for Intel. As an example: It took Intel just a couple of weeks to recreate and correct the long-term performance issue I discovered back in 2009, but despite mountingpressure, they could not release the updated firmware until it had successfully passed their validation a full three months later. Intel takes this testing very seriously, and that's what leads people to trust their reliability.

Read on for the full review!

 

Podcast #187 - Our thoughts on Ultrabooks, the Radeon HD 7950, ASUS DirectCU GTX cards, and more!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 2, 2012 - 03:11 PM |
Tagged: ssd, sandforce, radeon, podcast, patriot, nvidia, Intel, gtx, arm, amd, 7950

PC Perspective Podcast #187 - 02/02/2012

Join us this week as we talk about our thoughts on Ultrabooks, the Radeon HD 7950, ASUS DirectCU GTX cards, 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, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 58:02

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:40 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:01:20 Ultrabooks: Intel Knows What's Good For You
  6. 0:08:30 Patriot Pyro and Wildfire SSD Review - IMFT Async vs. Toshiba Toggle-mode Flash
  7. 0:14:20 AMD Radeon HD 7950 3GB Graphics Card Review
  8. 0:25:50 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  9. 0:26:38 Asus DirectCU II Roundup: ENGTX560, ENGTX570, and ENGTX580 Review
  10. 0:40:35 Raspberry Pi Linux Computer Will Have Fast GPU For The Price
  11. 0:44:20 If you thought Intel did well wait until you see ARM
  12. 0:47:00 AMD 7700 and 7800 Release Dates Leak To Web
  13. 0:51:20 Live Blog: AMD Financial Analyst Day
  14. 0:52:20 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Radeon HD 7950 Cards
    2. Jeremy: I'm giddy as a schoolgirl, albeit a very mercenary one
    1. Josh: And it is on sale! $770 off!
    2. Allyn: Corsair Force 3 - very good pricing.
  15. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  16. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  17. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  18. Closing

Source:

If 7 new Sandy Bridge processors arrive and Intel says nothing, does anyone know they exist?

Subject: General Tech | January 31, 2012 - 03:13 PM |
Tagged: core i5, core i3, celeron, sandy bridge, Intel

With absolutely no fanfare, Intel has released seven new Sandy Bridge processors of which two lack a graphics core.  Three quad-core Core i5 arrived, the Core i5-2550K is a normal chip running at 3.4GHz, while the i5-2380P and i5-2450P lack GPU cores; all are rated at a 95W TDP however so don't expect power savings from those two chips.  On the low powered end the dual core Celeron B720 and single core B815 will both sport TDPs of 35W and for mobile users the Celeron 797 and 867 will both have a TDP of 17W.  The Inquirer picked up this information from Intel's newly release price list; one which does not feature a single drop in the price of a CPU.

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"CHIPMAKER Intel has quietly released seven Sandy Bridge processors, with two of the chips not having built-in graphics cores.

Intel's Sandy Bridge range is already packed but that didn't stop Chipzilla from releasing seven chips, three of which are branded as Core i5 and two featuring a new 'P' suffix. According to our man at Intel the suffix denotes chips that do not come with Intel's integrated graphics core."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Intel Adds Seven New Sandy Bridge Processors To Their Lineup

Subject: Processors | January 31, 2012 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: sandy bridge, Quick Sync, P-series, Intel, i5-2550K

According to this article over at Anandtech, Intel has rather quietly launched seven new processors based on their Sandy Bridge architecture. The most interesting aspect about the new CPUs is not new features or more performance. Rather, it is the lack of features that caught my attention as three of the new additions will not have a functional graphics core.

The three processors without useable IGPs have a "P" moniker in there names which has been stated by VR-Zone to mean that they do not have a graphics core. On the positive side of things, the processors are a bit cheaper than their counterparts with functional GPUs. Such a SKU would compliment P67 motherboards that would not allow users to use the Quick Sync technology with a discrete card present anyway.

Pseries.png

The new processors include three Core i5 Sandy Bridge desktop processors and four mobile Celeron chips. On the desktop side of things, we have the new i5-2550K quad core CPU with 6 MB of cache running at 3.4 GHz and a $225 tray price while the i5 2500K MSRP remains at $216 and runs at 3.30 GHz. VR-Zone further reported that this new "K" model would be unlocked but was also one of the three processors that would not have a functional graphics core. Moving down the performance line, the i5 2450P is a quad core part running at 3.2 GHz for $195 and provides a $10 cheaper alternative to the current multiplier locked i5 2500. Last up is the i5 2450P, which will be the IGP-less alternative to the i5 2400 at $184. This part is also a quad core; however, it is only clocked at 3.1 GHz and will sell for $177.

The new Intel Celeron chips are all mobile parts and include two standard voltage and two ultra low voltage (ULV) processors. The Celeron M B815 is a dual core chip running at 1.6 GHz for $86 and the Celeron M B720 is a single core CPU running at 1.7 GHz for $70. The ULV processors are the Celeron M ULV 867 and ULV 797. The ULV 867 is a dual core part at 1.3 GHz for $134 while the ULV 797 is a single core part running at 1.4 GHz for $107.

Are you still running a P67 motherboard interested in eschewing Intel's Quick Sync in a Z68 board for a bit more stock performance and a cheaper price? I think that these new "P" series chips will be something that OEMs will like though I think enthusiast interest will depend on what kind of overclocking headroom they end up having as they aren't all that much cheaper than their current graphics core packing counterparts.

Source: Anandtech

A 71 CPU 2011 round up (the year, not the socket)

Subject: Processors | January 30, 2012 - 04:51 PM |
Tagged: Intel, amd, sandybridge, llano, bulldozer, Sandy Bridge E

If you are looking for a quick way to contrast the processors that were released this year then iXBT Labs has a review for you.  They've added their CPU/APU reviews for the past year together and compiled some rather lengthy charts which reflect the comparative performance of a few older chips as well as the majority of chips released this year.  Both Intel and AMD desktop and server chips are included, mobile users will need to look elsewhere to compare chips designed specifically for laptops.  Their benchmarks range from 3D modelling to 3D gaming as well as compression, office suites and raster graphics processing so no matter what purpose you will be putting these chips to you should be able to get an idea what chips to be on the look out for.

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Told you it was big, visit iXBT Labs if you want the readable version.

"The year 2011 has ended, so it's high time to sum up the results and see the general picture. If you're looking to upgrade, we hope this will make choosing a processor easier."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Source: iXBT Labs

Intel pays good money for bad software

Subject: General Tech | January 27, 2012 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: RealPlayer, Intel, patents

The idea that RealPlayer lives on to this day may not sit well with some techs who remember the times where the product degenerated into a virus that would some times let you play movies.  However, not only were they still in business yesterday, Intel paid them $120 million to acquire the rights to 90 patents and 170 patent applications as well as a codec which seems to have been their main project focus recently.  There must be some value there, it might look like Intel occasionally tosses money around but that is deceiving as Intel did not become as profitable as it is through inauspicious purchases.  According to the story at The Register, this deal is not the death knell for RealNetworks, they retain rights to some patents and seem to be looking forward to working with Intel in the future.  It will be interesting to see if this cash can help RealNetworks regain at least part of what used to be a large share of the online video codec market.

RealPlayer.png

"In the latest maneuver of the tech industry's ongoing patent wars, Intel has struck a $120m deal with RealNetworks to purchase 190 patents and 170 patent applications, along with what both companies define as "next-generation video codec software"."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Podcast #186 - Gigabyte GTX 580 Super OC, Intel and AMD Results, Kepler Rumors and more!

Subject: Editorial | January 26, 2012 - 05:10 PM |
Tagged: video, podcast, kepler, Intel, HD 7970, GTX 580, gigabyte, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #186 - 01/26/2012

Join us this week as we talk about a Gigabyte GTX 580 Super Overclock card, how much money Intel and AMD made (or didn't make), Kepler rumors, HD 7970 stock 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, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:02:56

Program Schedule:

  1. Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. Puget Systems Genesis I Sandy Bridge-E Workstation Review
  6. Gigabyte GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB Super Overclock - Last Hurrah for Fermi
  7. Intel Reports Massive Q4 and Yearly Earnings
  8. AMD Announces Q4 2011 Results
  9. Are AMD's Southern Islands about to be swamped by a Kepler tidal wave?
  10. LaCie's Little Big Disk now comes in Thunderbolt
  11. AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB Cards In Stock - For Now
  12. AMD Catalyst 12.1 and AMD Catalyst 12.2 Preview drivers
  13. Email from Scott
  14. Email from Branden
  15. Email from abouechot an Intel SRT "hack"
  16. Voicemail about memory qualification on X79
  17. Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: MAINGEAR EPIC T1000 Thermal Cooling Solution
    2. Jeremy: Remember MakerBot and RepRap?  Well, 3D printing keeps getting better
    1. Josh: I love memory.
    2. Allyn: Logitech c920 WIIIDE SCREEEEN
  18. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  19. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  20. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  21. Closing

Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer:
Tagged: ultrabook, Intel, CES

Introduction, Thin Is Flimsy

ultrabooked1.jpg

If there was anything that can be pointed to as “the” thing CES was about, it’s the ultrabook. These thin and portable laptops were presented by Intel with all the finesse of a sledgehammer. Intel’s message is clear. Ultrabooks are here, and you’re going to like them.

Such a highly coordinated effort on the part of Intel is unusual. Sure, they’ve pushed industry standards before. But the company’s efforts have usually been focused on a specific technology, like USB. The last time Intel put serious effort into trying to change how system builders constructed their systems was when Intel pushed for the BTX form factor. 

BTX was an attempt to address problems the company was having with its Pentium 4 processors, which tended to consume a lot of power and therefor run hot. The push for the ultrabook is also an attempt in address a (perceived) problem. In this case the issue at hand is portability, both in in terms physical system size and battery endurance. 

Intel announced some interesting new smartphone and tablet reference designs at CES 2012. These are signs that the company is making headway in this area. But the products based on those reference designs aren’t out yet, and it will probably take a few years for Intel to gain significant market share even if it does manage to offer x86 processors that can beat ARM in smartphones and tablets. In the meantime, Intel needs to provide slim, responsive and portable systems that can distract consumers from tablets.

So we have the ultrabook. 

Continue reading out editorial on Ultrabook and the pros and cons associated with their push into the market!!

Intel is thinking even bigger and likely leveraging their McAfee assets

Subject: General Tech | January 24, 2012 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: Intel, QLogic, purchase, Infiniband, HPC

Intel blew tiny $125 million piece of their record breaking quarterly income to purchase QLogic's InfiniBand business, which gives them access to a networking technology significantly faster than Ethernet.  InfiniBand is what is referred to as a switched fabric technology which allows multiple switches to connect to multiple hosts or data stores as opposed to the more point to point single broadcast which current ethernet based networks use.

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That may look familiar to some, but not as a network technology; it matches the communications architecture behind PCIe and SATA.  As we have seen, the speed difference between parallel connections and serial is quite impressive and InfiniBand's fastest implementation is currently capable of transferring 25 Gbit/s per lane.  That is significantly faster than the 1Gbit/s per lane PCIe 3.0 can provide which is why some current implementations of InfiniBand are used in High Performance Computing (HPC) applications.  InfiniBand also offers incredibly low latency of between 100 to 200 nanoseconds, depending on the implementation.

IB-Roadmap072611.gif

Getting a hold of this interconnect technology gives Intel a huge boost in their capabilities of creating high performance networking technologies.  They have been looking for a way to grow in that area and push out Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) manufactures from the market, replacing those chips with low power Xeons or future Intel chips.  This would open up an entirely new market for Intel, who could see their already impressive growth increase significantly.  Intel could become even more attractive to customers by taking advantage of the benefits of owning McAfee by placing virus/malware protection directly onto their switches.   We have already seen evidence of one project along these lines at IDF 2011 when they announced the DeepSAFE project which is software that operates below the OS level, providing what they refer to as "hardware-assisted" security.  With that OS-agnostic approach it would be possible to run the security software on a network switch or on an HPC interconnect. That could give Intel not only the fastest interconnect technology but also the most secure.

When discussing this with The Inquirer, Intel's representative Kirk Skaugen stated that this purchase will help Intel design and produce an exaflop level supercomputer by 2018.  It is unlikely that this is Intel's only goal, with the purchase of Fulcrum Microsystems this summer, a company which designs ASICs for Ethernet switches and routers that run at 10Gbit and 40Gbit, they are well on their way to designing network switches for HPC applications.  The Register ponders what this could mean for companies which have used InfiniBand technology in their products.  Will they be snatched up by a networking company like Cisco, could AMD pick them up and provide competition in this industry or will they consider offering themselves to Intel the best alternative?  We will be keeping an eye on this as it will not only develop into the next generation of networking technology but could also drive the successor to PCIe.

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"The high-performance networking market just got a whole lot more interesting, with Intel shelling out $125m to acquire the InfiniBand switch and adapter product lines from upstart QLogic.

Intel has made no secret that it wants to bolster its Data Center and Connected Systems business by getting network equipment providers to use Xeon processors inside of their networking gear – that Intel division posted $10.1bn in revenues in 2011, and the company wants to break $20bn in the next five years."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register