Subject: Systems | September 26, 2012 - 09:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: synergy, maingear, Ivy Bridge, gtx 680, cablecard, AIO
Custom PC manufacturer Maingear took the wraps off of its latest all in one computer today, and it features some impressive specifications for an AiO system. As the release of Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system approaches, Maingear is gearing up support by introducing a system with desktop specifications and a large 24” touchscreen display with the new Alpha 24 Super Stock.
On the outside, the matte black Alpha 24 all in one has a prominent 24” glossy touchscreen display running at 1920x1080 resolution. Above the screen is a webcam. There are ports along the left side of the bezel and ventilation slits for the HSF on the back.
What makes the Alpha 24 interesting is all the hardware that the company has managed to pack inside the monitor-sized form factor. Internally, you will find a mini-ITX motherboard with Intel Core i7 3770K Ivy Bridge processor, and up to 16GB of DDR3 laptop RAM, 256GB Crucial M4 mSATA SSD, 3TB mechanical hard drive, and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 graphics card (GTX 650 and GTX 670 GPUs are also options). The Alpha 24 also features 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, with an optional Bigfoot Killer Wireless add-on card. Not bad at all for an all in one system!
Maingear is further pushing the multimedia and home theater PC aspects of the Alpha 24. An internal DVD or Blu-ray optical drive can be added, for example. Also interesting is the inclusion of an optional CableCARD tuner that will allow the Alpha 24 to tune into encrypted cable TV stations and act as a DVR using software like Windows Media Center. Unforunately, details on the specific tuner they are offering were not given in the press release. The Alpha 24 can also act as a monitor for external video sources connected over HDMI, such as a game console or another computer.
Maingear did not skimp on the I/O either for the claimed “no compromises” Alpha 24. Internal expansion slots include two mini PCI-E and one PCI-E x16 slot (for the GPU). External connectivity options include three USB 2.0 ports, a SD card reader, mic in/audio out jacks, and space for a single slim optical disc drive along the right edge of the display. Ports along the left edge of the display include the graphics card's video outputs – 1x DVI, 1x HDMI, 2x DisplayPort – two S-Video connectors, power jack, Gigabit LAN, HDMI output, two USB 2.0, two USB 3.0, optical audio output, and analog audio jack. The back of the Alpha 24 hosts a VGA and HDMI input along with antenna connectors.
Also, the internals are user serviceable and things like the GPU can easily be upgraded, according to the company – allowing for future upgrading to keep the system relevant. Maingear CEO Wallace Santos stated the following in the company's press release.
“In this day and age, there shouldn’t be a reason anyone would need to compromise for an all-in-one performance PC. Other all-in-one PC solutions pale in comparison to the ALPHA 24 and can be summed up with just a few words: 1080p gaming set to Ultra, maxed anti-aliasing and tessellation.”
Currently, the Alpha 24 has an MSRP starting at $1,349 for the base model. It will ship with Windows 7 x64, however it should be available pre-loaded with Windows 8 later next month following the Windows 8 release.
All in all, the Maingear Alpha 24 looks like a decent computer for the price, though you are paying a bit of a premium for the all in one form factor versus going with a traditional desktop – and building a PC yourself by following the PC Perspective Hardware Leaderboard. So long as the reviews come back stating that build quality is good, it is definitely an interesting machine if you are limited to OEM options and don’t want a tower sitting under your desk – the CableCARD tuner option is also a nice touch.
You can find more photos of the Alpha 24 over at the Maingear website.
What do you think about this system, enough future upgrade-ability to sway you away from a traditional tower PC?
Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2012 - 12:27 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: widi 3.5, widi, miracast, Ivy Bridge, Intel
Intel has been developing its WiDi wireless display technology for a few years now, and with Sandy Bridge and WiDi 2.x Intel had a workable platform for streaming video – despite it not being as reliable or as responsive as running a video cable. Today, Intel announced an update to its WiDi specification that brings the technology up to version 3.5 and makes it better than ever.
WiDi is a wireless transmission technology pre-loaded on mobile devices such as ultrabooks and other Intel CPU powered laptops like the Lenovo S series shown off at IFA 2012. Devices that have either a Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge Intel processor will be eligible for the 3.5 update and will see several improvements.
The most important update is a reduction in latency. Intel has managed to get WiDi latency down to 250ms on Sandy Bridge, and an impressive 60ms for computers running Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors. At 60ms, the user interaction with the OS is going to become noticeably more responsive. Thanks to this latency reduction, Intel is announcing support for not only running its WiDi software on Windows 8, but the operating system’s touchscreen interface as well. While using a touchscreen with a WiDi display might have felt less-than-responsive with older WiDi implementations, by bringing the latency down to sub-100ms levels, the action of touching UI elements and getting feedback in the form of display output should be fairly fluid.
Some other big changes with the latest WiDi update include support for streaming 3D video and compatibility with the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Miracast wireless display technology/standard. The Santa Clara-based company made it clear that it does not want to fight the Wi-Fi Alliance over which implementation of wireless display should be the 'industry standard.' Intel has stated that it wants to complement Miracast rather than compete with it. The company’s WiDi equipped devices with the 3.5 update will happily stream to Miracast certified receivers. The only potential issue is that Intel does not guarantee latency when using Miracast receivers. In that respect, Intel sees WiDi as being Miracast + its additional feature set on top that provides some additional functionality and certification beyond the base standard. There was no mention of AMD’s proposed wireless display technology, however.
Intel has further reduced battery consumption when using WiDi, and when using WiDi 3.5 users should see some incremental battery life improvements versus the previous generation. CPU utilization while streaming video has also been reduced to less than 10% on both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge Intel CPUs.
The final major additions to WiDi 3.5 are on the receiver end of things. Thanks to Miracast support, WiDi-equipped computers will be able to stream to a wide variety of devices in addition to using Intel WiDi dongles. And while previous generation WiDi receivers were around $80, this time around receivers should be a bit cheaper. In the late 2012 to early 2013 time frame, new WiDi 3.5 receivers will be available for purchase. A new Neo TV box will cost $69.99 while a more traditional WiDi dongle from Netgear will retail for $59.99.
Some interesting new capabilities of the receiver units include the ability for dongles to be powered by the USB port on the TV (rather than needing a wall power adapter). Also, WiDi 3.5 will support USB ports located on the receivers (pending hardware manufacturer implementation) that will allow you to keep HID class USB devices plugged into the receiver. Those input devices (keyboard, mouse, track pad, game pad, basically anything that is classed as a Human Interface Device under the USB standard) will then control your WiDi connected computer over the same wireless link that is streaming video to your TV.
And, of course, WiDi 3.5 continues to support streaming 1080p video, HDCP2 encrypted streams (Blu-ray), DVDs, and 5.1 surround sound.
The WiDi 3.5 software update is already in the hands of OEMs, and a public download of the update should be available to Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge computer users sometime in October. The updated WiDi computers running 3.5 will be able to stream to Miracast or Intel’s own WiDi receivers. However, if you want the improved WiDi receiver(s) with USB ports, you will have to wait until early 2013 at the latest to get your hands on the hardware.
Also, you can watch a live demonstration of WiDi working on an ASUS Z77 motherboard in the video below.
Subject: Processors | September 18, 2012 - 01:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: sandy bridge, Ivy Bridge, Intel
iXBT Labs wanted to see how the two most current generations of Intel processors compare when running identical tasks. To put the processors under maximum load they used Linpack and Furmark as well as looking at video playback. In the case of the Furmark and Linpack+Furmark tests it might have been nice to see a power versus performance metric, as better performance on the benchmarks could make a slightly less power hungry CPU even more attractive. However the video playback is a great example of what you can expect in the way of power draw as no one wants a faster processor to play their movie back at an increased speed, a 2 hour movie should take 2 hours to play. That makes the second metric a little more valuable for those on battery power. Take a quick peek at their 2 page article here.
"We measured consumed power and energy consumption of four configurations based on the same testbed and four different CPUs belonging to two platforms: Intel Core i7-2700K (Sandy Bridge) and Intel Core i7-3770K (Ivy Bridge), Intel Core i5-2400 (Sandy Bridge) and Intel Core i5-3450 (Ivy Bridge)."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- Intel Core i5 3470 @ Phoronix
- Ivy Bridge and changing the Thermal Interface Material @ eTeknix
- Intel Core Generations Comparison @ iXBT Labs
- Workstation & Server CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Desktop CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2012 - 12:16 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ssd, small form factor, SFF, nuc, Ivy Bridge, Intel, htpc
Earlier this year, Intel showed off a small motherboard and processor combination that piqued the interest of many enthusiasts and attendees. The rather oddly named Next Unit of Computing (NUC) PC was originally intended to power digital signage, kiosks, and embedded systems (car PC anyone?). However, in response to the interest shown by enthusiasts, the x86 chip giant has decided to bring the super-small form factor computers to retail.
The Next Unit of Computing PC’s main attraction is its small size: the motherboard is tiny, measuring a mere 4” x 4.” For reference, the mini-ITX standard is a 6.7” x 6.7” motherboard, and VIA’s Pico-ITX form factor boards measure 3.9” x 2.7.” In that respect, the NUC is not the smallest PC that you can build, but it will be the fastest – and by a significant margin thanks to the bundled Ivy Bridge CPU.
While i3 and i5 editions were allegedly designed, currently Intel is only bringing the i3 to the retail market. Specifically, the CPU powering the NUC will be an Intel Core i3-3217U Ivy Bridge processor, and it will be soldered onto the motherboard. That particular CPU is a 1.8GHz dual core/four thread part with 3MB cache, and Intel HD 4000 graphics (there is no Turbo Boost functionality). Not bad for a small form factor PC!
Image credit: PC Pro.
The boards will have two SO-DIMM slots for RAM, an mSATA port for an SSD, and a mini-PCIe slot for a Wi-FI card. Intel is making two versions of the NUC motherboard that will differ only in IO. One motherboard will have 3 USB 2.0 ports, 1 HDMI output, and 1 Thunderbolt port. The other board will have 3 USB 2.0 ports, 2 HDMI outputs, and one Gigabit Ethernet jack. Intel believes that the Thunderbolt-equipped model will be more popular with consumers while the Gigabit-Ethernet and dual HDMI model will be used more by businesses.
Intel is reportedly sourcing several chassis designs for its custom form factor motherboard (there are at least two cases at present), and you will be able to build out a barebones system with one of the custom cases, integrated heatsink, and power supply. Additionally, when spec'ed out with the Intel i3-3217U CPU, 4GB of RAM, Wi-Fi card, and a 40GB Intel SSD, the company expects the entire NUC computer to cost around $399 in the US. The parts will be available for purchase in October, according to Engadget.
Hopefully, we will see OEMs take this form factor and make something cool with it. It's not clear which specific OEMs will be first to bring pre-built systems to market but they should be coming in the future.
Personally, I’m a big fan of small form factor computers, and despite the odd “NUC” name I’m excited to see where Intel takes this platform. If you were looking for a small but powerful computer to drive your next project, it might be worth keeping an eye on the NUC. What do you think of this sub $400, approximately 5” (with case) PC?
Subject: Processors | September 4, 2012 - 10:46 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sandy bridge, Ivy Bridge, Intel, core i3, 35w
Back in March of this year, Intel launched a slew of third generation Core Ivy Bridge processors. At the high end sat the Core i7-3770K with 4 cores, hyperthreading, 3.5 GHz clockspeed (3.9 GHz Turbo Boost), 8 MB L3 cache, and a 77W TDP for $332. The lineup went down in features – and price – from there all the way to the Core i5-3330S. The 3330S had four cores, 6 MB of L3 cache, a 65W TDP, and a clockspeed of 2.7 GHz (3.2 GHz Turbo Boost). Further, just about every CPU that was not a K, S, or T edition came equipped with the older HD 2500 integrated processor graphics. While the list comprised 18 new processors, the lower-end Core i3 Ivy Bridge CPUs were noticeably absent.
Fortunately, FanlessTech has managed to get ahold of pricing and specifications for five of those lower cost Intel chips. The new additions to Intel's lineup include three Ivy Bridge processors and two Sandy Bridge CPUs. Specifically, we have the i3-3240T, i3-3220T, Pentium G2100T, Pentium G645T, and Pentium G550T. All of those parts have a TDP of 35W and are priced very affordably.
|Model||Cores / Threads||Clockspeed||L3 Cache||TDP||Launch Price ($USD)|
|i3-3240T||Ivy Bridge||2/4||2.90 GHz||3MB||35W||$138|
|i3-3220T||Ivy Bridge||2/4||2.80 GHz||3MB||35W||$117|
|Pentium G2100T||Ivy Bridge||2/2||2.60 GHz||3MB||35W||$75|
|Pentium G645T||Sandy Bridge||2/2||2.50 GHz||3MB||35W||$64|
|Pentium G550T||Sandy Bridge||2/2||2.20 GHz||2MB||35W||$42|
The Core i3-3240T and i3-3220T are dual core Ivy Bridge processors build on a 22nm process, and are priced at just over $100. The cheapest Ivy Bridge CPU is actually the Pentium G2100T at $75 so the barrier to entry for Intel’s latest chips is much lower than it was a few months ago. Intel’s second generation Core architecture is still alive and kicking as well with the Pentium G645T and G550T at $64 and $42 respectively.
Two specifications are still unkown: Turbo Boost clockspeeds (if any) and which version of processor graphics these chips will feature. On the graphics front, I think HD 2500 is a safe bet but Intel may throw everyone a curve ball and pack the higher-end processor graphics into the low end units – which are arguably the (computers) that need the better GPU the most.
Granted, these lower cost processors are not going to give you near the performance of the i7-3770K that we recently reviewed, but they are still important for low power and budget desktops. Bringing the power efficiency improvements of Ivy Bridge down to under $100 is definitely a good thing.
As far as availability, you can find some of the new low TDP processors at online retailers now (such as the Core i3-3220T), but others are not for sale yet. While I do not have any exact dates, they should be available shortly.
How would you put these low TDP dual cores to work?
Subject: Mobile | September 3, 2012 - 03:06 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ultrabook, s405, s400, s300, Lenovo, laptop, Ivy Bridge, core i5, budget, amd, a8
Tablets and ultrabooks have stolen the IFA 2012 show, but the hardware – while nice to look at – is not for everyone, especially for the price. It seems that Lenovo has the budget showings covered by announcing three budget laptops that offer up some decent specifications.
Lenovo has added three new laptops to its Ideapad S series, and the specifications of the new models are vastly improved versus the current netbook-class S-series models. The new additions are the S300, S400, and S405, and all three are packing the latest generation processors from Intel and AMD respectively.
All three of the laptops feature a display resolution of 1366x768, full QWERTY keyboard, trackpad with gesture support, 720p webcam, and a "tactile metal finish" for the laptop lid that comes in silver, pink, or red colors. External ports include an SD card slot, two USB 2.0 ports, a headphone jack, and power jack on the right side and a USB 3.0 port, HDMI output, Ethernet jack, and recovery button on the left. They are all expected to provide around four hours of battery life, and the laptops weigh in at 3.97 pounds and are 0.86" thick. All three models will come with Windows 7, but will eligible for the $14.99 upgrade to Windows 8 Pro.
According to the press release, all three models will have cotton candy pink, red, and silver-gray lid color options in a "tactile" metal finish, though only the S300 has been spotted in the wild with the pink lid.
The S300 has a 13.3" screen while the S400 and S405 have 14" screens, but they share the same chassis, which means that the S300 will have a slightly bigger bezel but otherwise will be the same as the higher-end models on the outside.
On the inside, the S300 is powered by an Intel ultra low voltage (ULV) Core i3 or Core i5 "Ivy Bridge" processor, a 500GB mechanical hard drive, up to 4GB of RAM, and optional AMD Radeon 7450M graphics. Other features include Intel's WiDi (wireless display) technology, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and stereo speakers powered by Dolby Advanced Audio v2.
The S400 follows that exact same pattern: Intel ULV Core i3/i5 Ivy Bridge CPU, up to 500GB spinning platter hard drive, 4GB of RAM, optional AMD Radeon 7450M GPU, WiDi, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, stereo speakers and WiDi support. The differences include a larger 14" LED backlit display (at that same 1366x768 resolution, unfortunately) and an optional 32GB SSD.
The S400 comes in two different lid color options: a black interior and red lid, or a black interior with silver lid.
The S405 breaks the mold by replacing the Intel Ivy Bridge processor for an AMD A8 Trinity APU. It can also have up to 1TB of mechanical hard drive storage, 4GB of RAM, and optional AMD Radeon 7450M. Alternatively, it can be upgraded to a 32GB SSD. It features the same LED backlit 14" display and red/black or silver/black color scheme as the S400. The WiDi option does not appear to be included with the Ideapad S405 (which would make sense), but otherwise it is essentially the S400 without the Intel CPU/iGPU.
All three notebooks will be available later this month in the US, and the starting price is $499. The new Lenovo Ideapads make up a nice middle ground between expensive thin-and-light ultrabooks and low cost tablet+keyboard combinations. The quality of the keyboard and trackpad are really going to make or break the new S-series notebooks, because if they manage to pull off a good typing experience these could be some decent travel companions for people that need a productivity machine with a bit of "oomph" thanks to the Intel i5 or AMD Trinity APU. On the other hand, if the keyboard is crappy, the middle ground budget notebooks will really miss the entire point and road warriors will need to look elsewhere. Be on the lookout for reviews on these S-series Lenovo notebooks, as they look interesting for the money (if you are in the position of looking for a budget workhorse machine/one that would not be as terrible to lose on a trip, et al).
What do you think about the new budget Lenovo laptops?
Subject: Processors | August 20, 2012 - 04:07 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: linux, Ivy Bridge, Intel, i5-3470, hd 2500
The new Ivy Bridge processors introduced a new member of Intel's graphics processor called the HD 2500, which has received less than positive reviews as the previous HD 3000 outperforms it. However those tests were for Windows applications and games, whereas the testing at Phoronix specifically pertains to the performance under Linux. They compare the i5-2400S, i5-2500K, i5-3470, and i7-3770K together in a series of benchmarks to not only test the performance but also their compatibility with Linux. It seems that perhaps the performance of the HD3000 and HD2500 are much closer in Linux than they were running under Windows, though both still lose out to the HD4000.
"Since the launch of Intel's Ivy Bridge processors earlier this year there have been many benchmarks of the Intel Core i7 3770K with its integrated HD 4000 graphics and then more recently have been Linux testing of the Intel Core i7 3517UE from the CompuLab Intense-PC and Intel Core i7-3615QM as found on the Apple Retina MacBook Pro. The newest Intel Ivy Bridge chip to play with at Phoronix is the Intel Core i5 3470, which bears an Intel HD 2500 graphics core. In this article are benchmarks of the Intel HD 2500 Ivy Bridge graphics with the open-source Intel Linux graphics driver stack."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- Intel Ivy Bridge: GCC 4.8 vs. LLVM/Clang 3.2 SVN @ Phoronix
- Intel Core i7-3820 Processor Review (10M Cache, 3.60 GHz) @ TechwareLabs
- Desktop CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Mobile CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- AMD Athlon II X4 641, Athlon II X4 651 @ iXBT Labs
Subject: General Tech | July 18, 2012 - 03:15 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Ivy Bridge, pci 3.0, gaming
[H]ard|OCP has some bad news for current or expecting Ivy Bridge users; that whole PCIe 3.0 thing is not going to make your games run faster. It is not unexpected that a newly introduced technology has little to no impact when first released but since this was an update to a basic piece of architecture there were hopes that we would see an effect. During their testing only two games showed any improvement and those could be attributed to the Ivy Bridge processor its self and not PCIe 3.0. There are other reasons to upgrade to Ivy Bridge but if your main drive is to take advantage of a PCIe 3.0 compliant GPU, CPU and motherboard then you might want to hold off. PCIe SSDs on the other hand should show some differences when contrasted with the previous architecture.
"Wondering about upgrading to the new Ivy Bridge CPU and PCI Express 3.0 platform? Curious to know if you'll be gaining or losing performance? We compare single, dual-GPU, triple-GPU, single, and multiple display configurations on Ivy Bridge PCIe 3.0 and Sandy Bridge on PCIe 2.0 platforms."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Dark Age of Camelot dev bringing back Ultima IV as Ultima Forever @ Ars Technica
- OnLive Cloud Gaming Console Review @ eTeknix
- EA confirms Battlefield 4 beta for autumn 2013 @ HEXUS
- Valve confirms Steam for Ubuntu on new Linux Blog @ Hexus
- Resident Evil: Chronicles HD Collection PS3 Review @ eTeknix
- Dungeon Twister @ Kitguru
- Bellator: MMA Onslaught (PSN) @ Kitguru
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of Gigabyte
PC gaming is alive and well and hardware vendors are working to create unique features in their product lines to entice this niche audience. Gigabyte has always had a soft spot for gamers who want the best components for their LAN rigs so they can own their friends in any game genre they choose to play. Gigabyte has broadened their product line to include performance gaming mice, keyboards, and PC cases. They also have a line of "G1-Killer" motherboards that Gigabyte claims is designed with 3D gaming in mind. One of their latest boards in the G1-Killer series is the G1.Sniper M3, and just happen to have a sample that we are reviewing today.
Courtesy of Gigabyte
The G1.Sniper M3 was designed into a micro ATX form factor that sports Intel's latest Z77 Express chipset and supports the third generation of Intel's LGA 1155 "Ivy Bridge" processors. It is challenging to pack enough performance features and overclocking options onto a micro ATX footprint, but Gigabyte's G1.Sniper M3 has broken the code in this department. This $180 board includes a digital power phase design with auto voltage compensation, dual UEFI BIOS, and an onboard Creative Sound Core3D quad-core audio processor for rich, high-definition audio.
Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2012 - 01:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, opengl, opencl, linux, Ivy Bridge
Intel really seems to have taken the general criticism about the lack of Linux support during the initial release of Sandy Bridge to heart and made sure not to repeat the mistake with Ivy Bridge. Phoronix have spent the last two months exhaustively testing the performance of the i7-3770K and today offer some general observations about the chip and Intel's support of open source. Much of it is good news, like the performance of the OpenGL driver as well as its support for OpenGL 4.0 but some is not so good such as the fact that AMD's OpenCL for the CPU works better than Intel's implementation with neither running on the GPU yet. Check out the other findings in the article.
"It has been 66 days since Intel formally introduced their Ivy Bridge processors as the 2012 successor to Sandy Bridge. My views on Intel Ivy Bridge (specifically the Core i7 3770K model) back on launch-day were very positive in terms of the Linux compatibility, CPU performance, and the HD 4000 graphics capabilities. Since then I've conducted dozens of additional tests looking at the Core i7 Ivy Bridge on Linux in different areas from comparative benchmarks to Microsoft Windows, trying to run BSD operating systems on the latest hardware, looking at the virtualization performance, compiler tuning, etc. Here is a recap of this additional Ivy Bridge testing that has happened over the past two months of near constant benchmarking."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Penetration testing with the Raspberry Pi @ Hack a Day
- ARM, HP and Hynix join the Hybrid Memory Cube party @ The Inquirer
- Intel lets you manipulate encrypted data @ SemiAccurate
- Apple Tax Part II: iMac vs. Windows All-in-Ones @ Techspot