Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo
Tagged: X1, Thinkpad, Lenovo, Intel

Introduction and Design

thinkpadx1-1.jpg

Achieving smaller, thinner profiles is a long-standing goal of laptop manufacturers, but there’s been a particular obsession with ultra-thin laptops ever since Apple introduced the MacBook Air by taking it out of a manila envelope. Since then, tablets and smartphones have only increased the appeal of thin laptops. Consumers are becoming used to the idea of their electronics tightening their waistlines, and there’s no sign that this trend will stop.

The manufacturer response to this demand has been a lackluster. Laptops like the Dell Adamo came and went, but didn’t seem to put much dent in the market. That wasn’t terribly surprising, because making a laptop thin is expensive, and the Windows laptop brands generally struggle to bring in customers for products priced over $1000. 

One of the most successful responses to the Air was arguably Lenovo’s ThinkPad X series. The X series had always been thin-and-light, but was never targeted towards the average consumer. Still, these laptops – particularly the X301, which had a display size similar to the MacBook Air – seemed reasonable competition. Then Lenovo pulled the plug on the X301, leaving a 13 inch thin-and-light shaped hole in the roster. Today’s we’re looking at the plug for that hole.

Continue on and read our full review of the Lenovo X1 notebook...

PC Perspective Podcast #159 - AMD Llano Notebook Platform, AMD Fusion platform architecture, X79 Rumors, the deal about BAPCo and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 23, 2011 - 11:39 AM |
Tagged: x79, podcast, nvidia, llano, Intel, fusion, APU, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #159 - 6/23/2011

This week we talk about the AMD Llano Notebook Platform, AMD Fusion platform architecture, X79 Rumors, the deal about BAPCo 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 Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:27:10

Program Schedule:

 

  1. 0:00:30 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. 0:01:50 AMD A-Series Llano APU Sabine Notebook Platform Review
  6. 0:05:00 AMD Fusion System Architecture Overview - Southern Isle GPUs and Beyond
  7. 0:33:24 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  8. 0:34:00 AFDS11: AMD Demonstrates Trinity Powered Notebook
    1. AFDS11: Upcoming Trinity APU will use VLIW4 / Cayman Architecture
  9. 0:35:45 AFDS11: ARM Talks Dark Silicon and Computing Bias at Fusion Summit
  10. 0:41:30 AFDS11: Microsoft Announces C++ AMP, Competitor to OpenCL
  11. 0:45:45 New Rumor Indicates X79 Chipset Will Support Both 1366 and 2011 Sockets
  12. 0:49:49 Microsoft is probably laughing as AMD speculates the unlikelihood of Intel buying NVIDIA
  13. 0:54:45 Larrabee rides again, almost ... meet Knights Corner the new Many Integrated Core design
    1. Intel Hopes For Exaflop Capable Supercomputers Within 10 Years
  14. 0:58:35 What's the big deal with BAPCo? Why Benchmarking Matters
  15. 1:05:20 Crysis 2: Cry Harder (with DX11 and High Res textures)
  16. 1:06:00 *Allyn Show and Tell*
  17. 1:12:45 Quakecon Reminder - http://www.quakecon.org/
  18. 1:13:17 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: https://www.findbigmail.com/
    2. Jeremy: How to Encrypt Your Dropbox Files, at Least until Dropbox Wakes the F* up
    3. Josh: nice combo!  http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.654093.24-176-144
    4. Allyn: Lytro
  19. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  20. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  21. 1:25:45 Closing

Source:

One H61 iCafe motherboard please; hold the cream

Subject: Motherboards | June 22, 2011 - 11:51 AM |
Tagged: h61, sandy bridge, Intel

Overshadowed by the release of the high end X68 boards was the release of the Intel H61 Express chipset, the polar opposite of the enthusiast board.  The board is a full sized ATX instead of the mATX you might expect though you only get 4 + 1 phase power which does keep the production costs down.  You are also limited to DDR3-1333 though SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0 are available as well as a selection of audio and video out on the back panel and even a UEFI BIOS.  Think Computers rather liked the budget ASRock H61iCafe Intel H61 motherboard; check it out for yourself.

TC_asrock_h61icafe.jpg

"With Intel’s introduction of its second generation Core processors the main chipsets you have been hearing about and we have been covering are the P67, H67 and Z68. These chipsets are the mainstream and enthusiasts chipsets that give you everything you would ever want on a motherboard, but what if you are trying to save money? Or just build a simple machine? ASRock has you covered with the H61iCafe motherboard. This board is of course based on the Intel H61 Express Chipset. This board features USB 3.0 connectivity, Graphical UEFI BIOS, and support for Intel’s second generation processors. Let’s check it out!"

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

What's the big deal with BAPCo? Why Benchmarking Matters

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 21, 2011 - 11:36 AM |
Tagged: VIA, sysmark, nvidia, Intel, benchmark, bapco, amd

It seems that all the tech community is talking about today is BAPCo and its benchmarking suite called Sysmark.  A new version, 2012, was released just recently and yesterday we found out that AMD, NVIDIA and VIA have all dropped their support of the "Business Applications Performance Corporation".  Obviously those companies have a beef with the benchmark as it is, yet somehow one company stands behind the test: Intel.

Everyone you know of is posting about it.  My twitter feed "asplode" with comments like this:

AMD quits BAPCo, says SYSmark is nutso. Nvidia and VIA, they say, also.

AMD: Voting For Openness: In order to get a better understanding of AMD's press release earlier concerning BAPCO...

Ooh, BapCo drama.

Why Legit Reviews won't use the latest BAPCo benchmark:

Even PC Perspective posted on this drama yesterday afternoon saying: "The disputes centered mostly over the release of SYSmark 2012. For years various members have been complaining about various aspects of the product which they allege Intel strikes down and ignores while designing each version. One major complaint is the lack of reporting on the computer’s GPU performance which is quickly becoming beyond relevant to an actual system’s overall performance. With NVIDIA, AMD, and VIA gone from the consortium, Intel is pretty much left alone in the company: now officially."

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Obviously while cutting the grass this morning this is the topic swirling through my head; so thanks for that everyone.  My question is this: does it really matter and how is this any different than it has been for YEARS?  The cynical side of me says that AMD, NVIDIA and VIA all dropped out because each company's particular products aren't stacking up as well as Intel's when it comes to the total resulting score.  Intel makes the world's fastest CPUs, I don't think anyone with a brain will dispute that, and as such on benchmarks that test the CPU, they are going to have the edge.  

We recently reviewed the AMD Llano-based Sabine platform and in CPU-centric tests like SiSoft Sandra, TrueCrypt and 7zip the AMD APU is noticeably slower.  But AMD isn't sending out press releases and posting blogs about how these benchmarks don't show the true performance of a system as the end user will see.  And Intel isn't pondering why we used games like Far Cry 2 and Just Cause 2 to show the AMD APU dominating there. Why?  Because these tests are part of a suite of benchmarks we use to show the overall performance of a system.  They are tools which competent reviewers wield in order to explain to readers why certain hardware acts in a certain way in certain circumstances.  

Continue reading for more on this topic...

Source: PCPer

Intel Hopes For Exaflop Capable Supercomputers Within 10 Years

Subject: Systems | June 21, 2011 - 12:52 AM |
Tagged: supercomputing, mic, larrabee, knights corner, Intel

Silicon Graphics International and Intel recently announced plans to reach exascale levels of computational power within ten years. Exascale computing amounts to computers that are capable of delivering 1,000+ petaflops (One exaflop is 1000 petaflops) of computational horsepower to process quintillions of calculations. To put that in perspective, today’s supercomputers are just now breaking into the level of single-digit petaflop performance, with the fastest supercomputer delivering 8.16 petaflops. It is capable of this thanks to many thousands of eight core CPUs, whereas other top 500 supercomputers are starting to utilize a CPU and GPU combination in order to achieve petaflop performance.

The Aubrey Isle Silicon Inside Knights Corner

This partnering of Central Processing Unit (CPU) and GPU (or other accelerator) allows high performance supercomputers to achieve much higher performance than with CPUs alone. Intel CPUs power close to 80% of the top 500 Supercomputers; however, they have begun to realize that specialized accelerators are able to speed up highly parallel computing tasks. Specifically, Intel plans to combine Xeon processors with successors to their Knights Corner Many Integrated Core accelerator to reach exascale performance levels when combined with other data transfer and inter-core communication advancements. Knights Corner is an upcoming successor to the Knights Ferry and Larrabee processors.

Computer World quotes Eng Lim Goh, the CTO of SGI, in stating that “Accelerators such as graphics processors (GPUs) are currently being used with CPUs to execute more calculations per second. While some accelerators achieve desired results, many are not satisfied with the performance related to the time and cost spent porting applications to work with accelerators.”

Knights corner will be able to run x86 based software and features 50 cores based on a 22nm manufacturing process.  Each core will run four threads at 1.2 GHz, have 8 MB of cache, and will be supported by 512 bit vector processing units.  It’s predecessor, Knights Ferry is based on 32 45nm cores and eight contained in a Xeon server and are capable of 7.4 teraflops. Their MIC chip is aimed directly at NVIDIA’s CUDA and AMD’s OpenCL graphics processors, and is claimed to offer performance in addition to ease of use as they are capable of running traditional x86 based software.

It looks like the CPU-only supercomputers will be seeing more competition from GPU and MIC accelerated supercomputers, and will eventually be replaced at the exascale level. AMD and NVIDIA are betting heavily on their OpenCL and CUDA programmable graphics cards while Intel is going with a chip capable of running less specialized but widely used x86 programmable chips.  It remains to be seen which platform will be victorious; however, the increased competition should hasten the advancement of high performance computing power.  You can read more about Intel’s plan for Many Integrated Core accelerated supercomputing here.

Intel Updates ULV Lineup With Four New 17W Processors

Subject: Processors | June 20, 2011 - 09:51 PM |
Tagged: ulv, sandy bridge, Intel, cpu, celeron

According to Maximum PC, Intel recently revamped its official price list by adding four new ULV (ultra-low-voltage chips generally found in ultraportable notebooks) processors. The new additions feature three Sandy Bridge based chips and one Intel Celeron processor. The three new Sandy Bridge ULV CPUs include the dual core hyperthreaded Core i5 2557M with 3 MB cache running at 1.7 GHz, Core i7 2637M with 4 MB cache running at 1.7GHz, and the Core i7 2677M at 1.8 GHz with 4 MB cache. Utilizing Turbo Boost, the chips are able to reach 2.7 GHz, 2.8 GHz, and 2.9 GHz respectively. Further, the new Celeron ULV is the dual core Celeron 847 processor with 2 MB cache running at 1.1 GHZ.

 

The Core i5 2557M carries a pricetag of $250, while the Core i7 2637M goes for $289, and the Core i7 2677M has an MSRP of $317. You can see the entire price list here.  The new Sandy Bridge based ULV processors are able to Turbo Boost from between 1.0 and 1.1 GHz depending on model, which should provide plenty of power for mobile devices while sipping battery power with a TDP (themal design power) of only 17 watts.

Source: Maximum PC

Does Intel's SRT need an Intel SSD to work properly?

Subject: Storage | June 20, 2011 - 09:25 AM |
Tagged: ssd, srt, Intel, kingston, cache

It is a common question with the release of the Z68 series of boards, as people wonder if they really need to shell out the money for an Intel SSD in order to take advantage of Intel Smart Response Technology, which lets you use an SSD of 60GB or less as a cache drive.  Techgage took it upon themselves to investigate and compared the performance improvements to a HDD when using an Intel 20GB 311 SATA II SSD and a Kingston 64GB SDnow 100V+ SATA II SSD.  As happens all to often lately the answer is not clear cut; the best cache drive depends heavily on the file sizes you commonly deal with.

TG_SRT.jpg

"When we tested out Intel's 'Smart Response Technology' last month, we liked what we saw. But at $110 for a 20GB SLC SSD, we wondered if a larger, more cost-effective option could still make the best use of the technology. With that, we're pitting Kingston's SSDNow V+100 64GB drive, at $150, against Intel's, to see if we retain SRT's effectiveness."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: Techgage

Larrabee rides again, almost ... meet Knights Corner the new Many Integrated Core design

Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2011 - 09:11 AM |
Tagged: Intel, mic, larrabee, knights corner, 50 GPGPU

Knights Corner is not exactly Larrabee but the idea behind both are very similar.  A large number of GPGPUs are integrated with a CPU, Intel is using a Xeon core now as opposed to a Pentium; with the GPGPUs hooked up in a similar method to Larrabee's ring of Pentium cores.  The design is proven as they have sold units of the previous generation Kights Ferry and offers a feature that a lot of programmers are going to appreciate; instead of needing to learn a new language like CUDA or OpenCL, standard x86 scalar code is used to program these chips.  This architecture is also expected to scale very well, for as ARM recently pointed out only specific multithreaded applications continue to scale well as more cores are added.   Drop by The Inquirer for more information.

KnightsFerry.jpg

They will likely be sold as PCIe card like the Knights Ferry card pictured above.

"CHIPMAKER Intel has announced its second generation hybrid core technology codenamed 'Knights Corner'.

Knights Corner is Intel's second chip in its Many Integrated Core (MIC) chip line and will feature Xeon X86 cores and more than 50 GPGPU cores loosely based on what was previously known as Larrabee. Knights Corner will be fabricated using Intel's 22nm tri-gate process node beginning in 2012, though the firm would not be drawn on the exact core count at this time."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Intel Enterprise SSDs Specifications

Subject: General Tech, Storage | June 16, 2011 - 12:02 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Intel, enterprise

Intel is currently in the process of releasing their 2011 lineup of solid state hard drives. A lot of news and products came out regarding their consumer 300-series and enthusiast 500-series line however it has been pretty silent regarding their enterprise 700-series products. That has changed recently with the release of specifications as a result of Anandtech’s coverage of the German hardware website ComputerBase.de.

11-intel.png

And how does it compare to OCZ?

Intel will be releasing two enterprise SSDs: the SATA 3 Gbps based 710 SSD codename Lyndonville and the PCI express 2.0 based 720 SSD codename Ramsdale. The SATA based 710 will feature 25nm MLC-HET flash at capacities of 100, 200, and 300 GB. The 710 will have read and write speeds of 270/210 MB/s with 35,000/3300 read and write IOPS at 4KB and a 64MB cache. The PCIe based 720 will feature 34nm SLC flash at capacities of 200 and 400 GB. The 720 will be substantially faster than the 710 with read and write speeds of 2200/1800 MB/s with 180,000/56,000 read and write IOPS at 4KB and a 512MB cache. On the security front the 710 will be encrypted with 128 bit AES encryption where the 720 will be encrypted with 256 bit AES.

While there has been no hint toward pricing of these drives Intel is still expected to make a second quarter release date for their SATA based 710 SSD. If you are looking for a PCI express SSD you will need to be a bit more patient as they are still expected to be released in the fourth quarter. It will be interesting to see how the Intel vs OCZ fight will play out in 2012 for dominance in the PCIe-based SSD space.

Source: Anandtech

Microsoft is probably laughing as AMD speculates the unlikelihood of Intel buying NVIDIA

Subject: General Tech | June 16, 2011 - 09:57 AM |
Tagged: amd, Intel, nvidia

In some sort of bizarre voyeuristic hardware love/hate triangle AMD, Intel and NVIDIA are all semi-intertwined and being observed by Microsoft. Speaking with The Inquirer the VP of product and platform marketing at AMD, Leslie Sobon, stated that there was no chance that Intel would attempt to purchase NVIDIA as AMD did with ATI.  AMD's purchase was less about the rights to the Radeon series as it was taking possession of the intellectual property that ATI owned after a decade of creating GPUs and lead directly to the APUs that AMD has recently released which will likely become their main product.  Intel already has a working architecture that combines GPU and CPU and doesn't need to purchase another company's IP in order to develop that type of product. 

There is another reason for purchasing NVIDIA though, which has very little to do with their discreet graphics card IP and everything to do with Tegra and Fermi which are two specialized products which so far Intel doesn't have an answer for.  A vastly improved and shrunken Atom might be able to push Tegra off of mobile platforms and perhaps specialized SandyBridge CPUs could accelerate computation like the Fermi products do but so far there are no solid leads, only speculation.

If you learn more from your failures than your successes then Intel knows a lot about graphics.

microsoft.jpg

"CHIP DESIGNER AMD believes that it is on a divergent path from Intel thanks to its accelerated processor unit (APU) and that Intel buying Nvidia "would never happen"."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer