Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
The Z77X-UP7 board represents a new approach to the motherboard game for GIGABYTE - no holds barred. The board combines a larger than normal form factor with high-end digital power circuitry to build a product that packs a punch while not skimping on features. We welcomed the challenge that this board presented, putting it through the normal suite of benchmark and functionality tests to see how well it stacked up. The GIGABYTE Z77X-UP7's performance and features come with a price, as all flagship products do, with its $399.99 price tag still a hefty sum.
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
To power the Z77X-UP7, GIGABYTE used a 32+3+2 power phase design with every heat producing chip covered by a highly effective heat pipe cooling solution. GIGABYTE integrated the following features into the Z77X-UP7's design: SATA 2, SATA 3, and mSATA ports; support for 4 different networking types including an Intel GigE NIC, an Atheros GigE NIC, an Atheros dual-port 802.11n adapter, and an Atheros Bluetooth adapter; enough PCI-Express x16 slots for true quad-card support; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 11, 2012 - 03:48 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: virtualization, tegra, Lucidlogix, gpu, gaming, game, embedded, CES2012, CES
Earlier today Lucid (LucidLogix), the company behind quite a few GPU virtualization technologies, announced yet another piece of GPU virtualization software. This time; however, instead of wrangling as much performance as possible from multi-GPU beasts, this technology- codenamed "XLR8"- is aimed at the mobile market of tablets, smartphones, and laptops with integrated graphics. Such products are powered by integrated GPUs in AMD's APUs and Intel's Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors, and by the GPUs in mobile SoCs (system on a chip) like Nvidia's Tegra and ARM's Mali graphics processors. XLR8 uses "unique CPU multithreading" to feed the mobile GPUs as efficiently as possible.
According to Lucid, many of the PC graphics issues are magnified when it comes to embedded GPUS including visual tearing, pipeline inefficiencies, power management, and artifacting. Offir Remez, president of Lucid further stated that most of the big, popular PC games have playability issues on mobile platforms and on computers with integrated graphics. "If it's got a GPU, we can improve the end user experience."
The company further expanded that the XLR8 technology works by disabling unnecessary and redundant processes in addition to "unique multithreading" to improve system (gaming) responsiveness up to 200 percent. The XLR8 software monitors battery drain and power draw while shutting down background processes to increase CPU frame generation and minimizing redundant GPU rendering processes.
If this sounds a lot like marketing speak, it certainly does. On the other hand, Lucid has been able to push some useful virtualization technology into desktops, so maybe mobile platforms are just the next step for the company. The company is currently demonstrating the XLR8 software in private at CES and is being tested by hardware partners. Mobile SoC are getting faster and more powerful, and on battery powered devices there is always room for efficiency improvements. Once reviewers manage to get their hands on some actual hardware, and XLR8 is past the concept/testing stage you can bet that people will have a better understanding of what exactly XLR8 is capable of.
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Introduction and Features
Courtesy of MSI
Micro-Star International, better known as MSI, has been busy little bees in 2011 to fend off fierce competition from ASUS, Gigabyte and other motherboard vendors. This year's launch of the Z68 chipset from Intel combined the capabilities and features from the H67 and P67 chipsets, and MSI capitalized on this when they joined forces with LucidLogix to include their Virtu technology in their latest Z68A-GD80 motherboard. Lucid's Virtu tech provides users with switchable graphics, which allows users to enjoy both graphics power of integrated GPU and discrete GPU.
Courtesy of MSI
MSI also used the Z68A-GD80 as their first motherboard to support PCI Express 3.0, which boosts 32GB/s of transfer bandwidth and makes this mobo a bit more future proof for users looking for their next hardware upgrade. MSI also upgraded their BIOS system to ClickBIOS II, which provides a consistent user interface both in the UEFI BIOS and in Windows. Users can control their system settings directly from Windows and the GUI also supports touchscreen controls.
Subject: Motherboards | May 6, 2011 - 10:18 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: z68, switchable desktop graphics, Lucidlogix, gigabyte
Gigabyte, maker of quality motherboards that are recommended by many enthusiasts for DIY builds, has today announced a long term partnership with Lucidlogix to bring switchable graphics to its Z68 desktop chip set based motherboards.
While notebook users have enjoyed switchable graphics technology like Nvidia's Optimus and AMD's Switchable Graphics for some time, desktop users have not had a widely available solution. DIY (do it yourself) builds have been even further from a workable solution. Today; however, Gigabyte has stepped up to the plate to offer OEMs and enthusiast builders the opportunity to use switchable graphics by using the Lucidlogix Virtu technology.
So far, Gigabyte has announced three motherboard models that will ship with Lucidlogix’s Virtu technology; the Z68X-UD3H-B3, Z68A-D3H-B3, Z68MX-UD2H-B3, and Z68MA-D2H-B3 specifically. These motherboards support both Virtu and Intel’s LGA 1155 “Sandy Bridge” processors, which include an integrated GPU that Intel dubs “processor graphics.”
While these Intel processor graphics’ gaming capabilities are extremely limited, they do very well running Windows 7’s Aero desktop while sipping power. Dedicated graphics cards on the other hand, tend to draw relatively large amounts of power even at idle. Until now, enthusiasts have had to choose between low power machines that are unable to run the latest games or gaming machines that remain power hungry in everyday non-gaming usage.
What Ludiclogix’s Virtu technology promises for Gigabyte customers is the best of both worlds. By allowing enthusiasts to use both a powerful dedicated graphics card for gaming and a low power card for everyday use, better control, efficiency, and choices become available.
The way in which this switchable graphics technology works is that Lucidlogix presents a sort of virtualized graphics card to the operating system. There is then a bit of logic that determines which graphics card will process the various Direct X API calls. When only using the Aero desktop and IntelMedia processor graphics instructions, the dedicated card can be in a low power state while the integrated GPU handles the workload. When running games or when activated by a user (or their profile settings), the virtualized card passed the dedicated card instructions to process that are then routed out the Sandy Bridge video output connection. This allows enthusiasts the best of both power draw and performance worlds that mobile users have enjoyed for some time.
Another important benefit of the Virtu technology is that it will allow enthusiasts to use programs that benefit from Intel's Quick Sync technology. Programs optimized with Intel Quick Sync in mind use fixed function transistors in the processor graphics of Sandy Bridge CPUs to hardware accelerate such task as video transcoding. GPU accelerated software such as this is able to generate higher quality encodes at a faster frame rate (using Intel's Quick Sync) than both current Nvidia and AMD graphics cards. According to Anandtech, when converting The Dark Night from a 12mbps 1080p x264 source video to a 1.5mbps 480p video optimized for the Ipod Touch, the Sandy Bridge's GPU was able to achieve 264.8 frames per second, which results in Quick Sync being "almost 4x faster than the Radeon HD 6970 and twice as fast as everything else." PC Perspective also found marked improvements in transcoding time using Quick Sync to convert a 450mb Cannon 7D's video file to an ipad optimized format. In PC Perspective's testing, they saw a 5.2x faster transcode time using Quick Sync versus without (no gpu acceleration). Until now enthusiasts with high end graphics were unable to use the graphics processor in Sandy Bridge CPUs as it automatically disables itself when it detects that a discrete graphics card is present in the system.
The only drawback for high end gamers lies in issues with setting up multi-monitor rigs as the Virtu technology outputs over the motherboard’s single video output instead of, say, a dedicated card’s traditional multiple video outputs. For single screen gamers; however, Gigabyte motherboards with Virtu technology will be a boon.