Subject: Graphics Cards | June 7, 2012 - 02:40 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: video, sapphire, radeon 7770, passive cooling, graphics card, gpu, computex
Not to be left out of the Computex news, graphics card manufacturer Sapphire Technology unveiled a passively cooled AMD Radeon 7770 graphics card running at reference clock speeds. Following the release of the company’s factory overclocked Vapor-X 7770, the new Sapphire HD 7770 Ultimate 1GB card is the first to sport a passive cooler – other vendors are going in the opposite direction by using custom (active) coolers to push up reference clockspeeds for factory overclocked cards.
What makes the sapphire card neat is that the company did not have to underclock the GPU or memory in order to make a passive cooler feasible. With this card, you will get a silent GPU with the same specs and speeds as the reference 7770 we recently reviewed. The card looks to take up about two PCI expansion slots and utilizes a horizontal stack of vertically aligned (if that makes sense?) aluminum fins connected to the GPU via four heatpipes. Because of the cooler, the card is about 25% longer than a reference card, so keep that in mind if you are considering this for a HTPC build using a tiny case.
Beyond the cooler, which is arguably the most important aspect of the card, the Saphhire 7770 Ultimate 1GB is nearly identical to AMD’s reference design. The only major change is that Sapphire had to move the GDDR5 memory chips to the opposite (top, when installed in the case) side of the PCB in order to accommodate the cooler. With that said, the video outputs on the graphics card are a small improvement over the reference design with an additional DVI port (thanks to not needing a full fan grill in the second PCI slot) bringing the total to two DVI ports, one full size HDMI, and one full size DisplayPort. Otherwise, the GPU is stock, running at 1GHz while the 1GB of GDDR5 memory is likely running at 1125 MHz (stock speeds). The Cape Verde-based graphics card contains 640 stream processors, 1.5 billion transistors, 1.28 Teraflops of compute performance, and a Texture fill rate of 40 giga-transfers per second (GT/s). The full specifications of the 7770 GPU core can be found in our review.
The MSRP of reference AMD HD 7770 cards is $159 but expect the Sapphire card to come in a bit above that number thanks to the custom cooler. You can find more photos of the passively cooled Sapphire GPU over at AnandTech who managed to snag some good shots of the card at the company’s Computex booth.
In case you missed it, our video review of the HD 7770 card is embedded below in which we show off the (7770 and 7750) card also show off several custom 7770 designs from MSI, XFX, and others. It should bring you up to speed on what the 7770 is and where it stands in terms of performance with other cards from AMD and NVIDIA.
Subject: Mobile | June 7, 2012 - 01:54 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wireless, gaming laptop, gaming, computex, ASUS ROG, asus, 802.11ac, 5GHz wifi
Earlier today we posted a couple of teaser photos showing off some of ASUS’ upcoming products. One of the devices was a gaming laptop called the ASUS G75. Engadget has managed to get their hands on some more information regarding a variant of the G75 – the G75VW. According to the site, the gaming laptop is rocking an Intel Ivy Bridge processor, GeForce GTX 670M, and DDR3 memory (known because of the CPU used). That hardware is then powering a 1080p display, which the GTX 670M should have no problem driving but is a bit depressing to see on a high end laptop of this size (approximately 17”). The real kicker though is in the wireless card that it is allegedly packing: an 802.11ac card.
The ASUS G75 gaming laptop
Engadget states that although the information sheet next to the laptop at ASUS’ Computex booth did not list any 802.11ac compatibility, wireless chip maker Broadcom (manufacturer of chips that are used in many wireless routers and NICs) has stated that it does in fact have an 802.11ac NIC in it. Senior Vice President Michael Hurlston told members of the press at Computex 2012 that the ASUS G75VW is the “World’s first 5G Wi-Fi laptop.” He further stated that the computer would be arriving in the hands of consumers “very shortly.”
Interesting stuff, and although the “5G Wi-Fi” – so called because it is the fifth generation of consumer grade Wi-Fi (though not the 5th gen if you count all iterations of the wireless 802.11 standards) – is not yet official and set in stone, it is very close and I would not be surprised to see the technology in a laptop like this particular ASUS at this point in the game.
And to think that I just got done upgrading my network to Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n about two months ago! Even so, I’m excited for the upcoming standard because I want to test its usefulness in getting live TV from my CableCARD tuner to the living room and Katy’s wireless laptop without stuttering – something even wireless N with MIMO can’t do with devices in the same room. So far, the only thing stable enough has been wired Cat5e Ethernet (both 100Mbps and 1000Mbps hardware seem to work without issues). And because it’s proving difficult to get a wired connection from the router to the TV (Xbox 360 used as Windows Media Extender), I’m ready to try out some 802.11ac stuff to see if it can really deliver on the increased bandwidth!
Subject: Motherboards | June 6, 2012 - 08:12 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zeus, wolverine, power phase, motherboard, dual gpu, concept, computex, asus
ASUS has a history of showing off crazy high-end concept motherboards that are not likely to come to market but may help influence future motherboard products by getting the creative sparks of innovation flowing in engineers’ minds.
At this year’s Computex 2012, Asus showed off two concept motherboards that it is calling Zeus and Wolverine. While Zeus tackles Thunderbolt and integrated GPUs, Wolverine approaches the problem of getting clean power to the CPU by pushing the limits of the number of power phases that can be integrated into ATX-sized motherboards.
You will notice on the Zeus motherboard that the bottom of the board holds a bank of two 8 pin and two six pin power connectors. The two eight pin connectors are labeled VGA 1 and VGA 2 while the two six pin connectors are labeled VGA 3 and VGA 4 respectively. At first this seems like a regular X79 chipset (socket 2011) based motherboard with giant heatsinks for overclockers. After doing a double take (at least I did), you will notice that the board has no PCI-E connectors!
Instead, the board has a large heatsink, and under that heatsink are two GPUs in CrossFire configuration. Tech Power Up believes that the GPUs being used are two AMD 7800 “Pitcairn” series mobile graphics cards in CrossFire configuration. While the desktop variants are fairly low power, they would need active cooling or a larger heatsink, which I think is what lead them to consider that ASUS may be using mobile-class cards. Reportedly, ASUS did not create this board to suggest GPU integration, but to show off dual Thunderbolt ports on an X79 motherboard.
Connectivity on the board includes a socket 2011 CPU, eight DDR3 DIMM slots, ten SATA connectors, (and on the rear IO panel) a WiFi radio, eight USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt ports, Gigabit LAN, 7.1 channel analog audio output, optical audio output, HDMI output, DisplayPort output, and two eSATA ports.
As far as the dual GPU integration goes, however... I don’t expect we’ll be seeing a move in the industry like this any time soon, at least not on high-end Enthusiast boards (though I could see an argument for small form factor (SFF) budget gaming systems from OEMs). Dedicated graphics card technology moves at such a rapid pace compared to motherboards that it is just not feasible to market a feature like this to enthusiasts. While they may keep the same motherboard for years, those same users will likely upgrade their graphics cards at least once to stay current. Further, with the cost of these high-end motherboards already approaching exorbitant, adding integrated GPUs that don’t mesh well with the purpose of a high end system pushes the cost higher and demand to a point that these boards just don’t seem realistic.
While Zeus was more of a powerhouse with a twist (albeit one that isn’t really feasible to market), the other motherboard – Wolverine – is a “because we can” board but one that could have an impact on the industry today. ASUS has taken its Digi+ digital power to the extreme by packing as many power phases as it could into an ATX form factor motherboard. In total, they managed to place 40 power phases onto the PCB – notice how the CPU socket had to be shifted to the right to make room!
Other features on the board include eight SATA connectors, four DIMM slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, LGA 1155 socket, and three PCI 3.0 x1 slots. On the rear the board features four USB 2.0 ports, six USB 3.0 ports, a WiFi radio, Gigabit LAN, BIOS buttons, optical audio output, 7.1 channel analog audio output, and what looks like two eSATA ports.
Granted, I’m not suggesting that we will be seeing motherboards coming out with 40+ power phases anytime soon. I can see this influencing future designs, however. Even heavy overclockers (water and air cooling levels) don’t really /need/ 40 power phases but we could start seeing vendors put out boards with half of that and still have it be a big improvement.
What do you think of the two new ASUS concept motherboards? You can see more images of the boards over at AnandTech's gallery. Do you think they are on the right track? If not what areas do you think motherboard manufacturers need to improve?
Subject: Motherboards | June 6, 2012 - 06:04 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Z77, msi, motherboard, mini-itx, Intel, htpc, computex
MSI is showing off a lot of motherboards at Computex 2012. One in particular that stuck out to me was a mini ITX motherboard that sported Ivy Bridge compatibility, four SATA ports (2 which are SATA 6Gbps), and PCI-E 3.0 compliant making it perfect for an high performance HTPC build. The motherboard in question is the MSI Z77IA-E53 and as the name suggests it is based around Intel’s Z77 chipset.
The mini-ITX form factor motherboard sports MSI’s ClickBIOS II UEFI BIOS and its OC Genie II technology as well as THX TruStudio Pro audio. Other features include an LGA 1155 socket for Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge (Core i7, i5, i3, Pentium or Celeron) processors, two DDR3 DIMM slots (up to 16GB of 2800MHz), and a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot at the very bottom of the motherboard.
On the back of the board, the Z77IA-E53 features HDMI and VGA video outputs, two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, Gigabit LAN, PS/2 port, optical audio outpu, three 3.5mm jacks for analog audio output, and WiFi and Bluetooth radios.
Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or availability.
Subject: Processors | June 6, 2012 - 05:08 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: Zacate, Hudson-M3L, FCH, E2-1800, E2-1200, computex, brazos 2.0, brazos, Bobcat, amd
Today AMD is officially releasing their Brazos 2.0 parts. This is a case of good news/bad news for the company. The good news is that they have an updated product that is based on their very successful Brazos 1.0 platform and that particular part has sold over 30 million units and is included in some 160 designs. The bad news is that AMD did not improve the product dramatically over what we previously had.
While Brazos will not beat these Intel offerings in pure performance, they do match up nicely in terms of price and battery life.
It is well known that AMD cancelled their original Bobcat 2.0 28 nm parts last fall (Krishna and Wichita), and instead worked on improving the fabrication of the current Brazos APUs. Little is known as to why those original 28 nm parts were cancelled, but perhaps the overriding reason is that there simply would not be enough 28 nm production through the first three quarters of 2012 to enable AMD to adequately meet demand on these parts (all the while sacrificing higher margin GPU wafer orders on the 28 nm node). We also must consider that AMD could have been counting on GLOBALFOUNDRIES to have their flavor of 28 nm HKMG process up and running, which of course at this time it is not.
These new Brazos 2.0 chips are still manufactured on TSMC’s 40 nm process, but that particular process is very mature at this time. This has allowed AMD and TSMC to squeeze every last drop of performance and efficiency out of the aging 40 nm node, and in so doing has allowed AMD a bit more headroom when it comes to the Zacate APUs that Brazos 2.0 is based off of. The two new processors are the E2-1800 and the E2-1200.
The E2-1800 is a dual core Bobcat CPU featuring an APU with 80 stream units based on the older HD 5000 series of parts. AMD has renamed the GPU to the HD 7340, though it has little in common with the GCN (Graphics Core Next) based HD 7000 graphics units. AMD increased the core CPU speed from the E-450 by 50 MHz and the GPU portion by 80 MHz. This gives the E2-1800 a core clockspeed of 1.7 GHz and the graphics runs at a brisk 680 MHz. This continues to be an 18 watt TDP part and the die size is the same 75 mm squared.
Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2012 - 01:08 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: computex, computex 2012, nvidia, corsair, asrock
The Tech Report have been every bit as busy as Ryan, trying to get in as much of Computex as possible and post the sights to the web. They dropped by Broadcom's booth to see new ARM based SoCs which will be used in the next generation of 802.11ac routers, taking wireless beyond gigabit speeds, with USB 3.0 added on for easy media distribution. They snapped a few pictures of the ASRock motherboards we saw earlier this week, including the dual Thunderbolt Z77 Extreme which features a DisplayPort in port to allow you to use a Thunderbolt display without needing Lucid's Virtu to translate. They also saw Corsair's surprise new SSD controller from Link_A_Media Devices (LAMD), which will provide SATA 6Gbps and can use either ONFI or Toggle DDR NAND. NVIDIA was showing off the new GT 640 which will use a 28nm Kepler chip sport 384 shader ALUs and cost under $100 and should bring a bit more power to low end machines, though don't expect a huge jump from the previous GTS450
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Computex 2012 Day 1 - Hit the floor sleepy @ Ninjalane
- Computex: Zalman prepares T1 chassis for affordable victory @ Kitguru
- SilverStone unveils the Raven RV04 and Fortress FT04 @ Kitguru
- Techies beg world to join the 1% on IPv6 launch day @ The Register
- Trend in mobile computing: Q&A with Intel's Gregory Bryant @ DigiTimes
- Samsung takes a seat with Intel and IBM at the Linux Foundation @ The Inquirer
- Windows Phone 8 launches on 20 June @ The Inquirer
- Ubuntu 12.10 Sets To Make ARM Even Stronger @ Phoronix
Subject: Motherboards | June 5, 2012 - 08:40 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: X79S-UP5 WiFi, x79, socket 2011, Intel, gigabyte, computex
Although Ivy Bridge is the new hotness, socket 2011 is still the company’s top-end enthusiast and workstation platform. And to to be forgotten, Gigabyte dedicated some space at its Computex booth to show off a new high-end X79 socket 2011 motherboard. The Gigabyte GA-X79S-UP5 WiFi is a EATX motherboard with a 2011 socket that is surrounded by heatpipes and VRM heatsinks (we recently reviewed the X79-UD5) The board further supports eight DDR3 DIMM slots, eight SAS connectors, six SATA ports, four PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (up to 3 way SLI/CrossFireX), one PCI-E 3.0 x1 slot, and one legacy PCI slot at the bottom of the motherboard. It also has internal connectors for front panel audio, SPDIF, Firewire (1394), TPM, one USB 3.0, two USB 2.0 headers, and four fan headers (one of which is for the CPU).
Integrated Gigabyte technology includes the company’s all-digital and “3D Power,” dual UEFI BIOSes, 8 phase VRM, Gigabyte Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi card, 110dB SNR (signal-to-noise ration) HD audio, and 3X USB power and On/Off Charge to charge iPads and tablets even when the computer is powered down. Quad channel memory and socket 2011 processors give CAD engineers, video editors, and other 3D modelers the most performance possible out of a single socket workstation system.
Rear IO for the X79S-UP5 WiFi board includes a PS/2 port, four USB 2.0 ports, a firewire port, UEFI BIOS reset and overclock profile buttons, four USB 3.0 ports, two eSATA ports, a USB/eSATA combo port, Gigabit LAN, optical audio output, and five analog audio outputs.
In short, this is a motherboard that Gigabyte has packed to the brim with features for enthusiasts. Below you will find several high-resolution images of the new socket 2011 motherboard. If your internet connection is ready, dive right in!
Gigabyte GA-X79S-UP5 WiFi Motherboard Images
Even considering my bias of my favorite color being blue, the board looks really nice, especially the heatsink designs which really make the board stand out.
CPU socket area:
Here we can see the 2011 socket, VRMs, and DDR3 DIMM slots.
More photos after the break!
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | June 5, 2012 - 08:04 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thunderbolt, motherboard, gigabyte, ga-z77x-up5 th, computex
Intel’s 10Gbps copper-based Thunderbolt technology is big at this year’s Computex show, and Gigabyte was not shy about showing off their Thunderbolt hardware. Not to be outdone by the Intel booth, Gigabyte had on display a Thunderbolt motherboard and no less than 13 pieces of Thunderbolt hardware!
The motherboard in question is Gigabyte’s GA-Z77X-UP5 TH which is an ATX form factor board that supports Intel Ivy Bridge processors, dual UEFI BIOS technology, SLI and CrossFireX multi-GPU setups, four DDR3 DIMM slots, six SATA 6Gbps ports, three PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, and a single legacy PCI slot. It also, of course, features a Thunderbolt port.
The list of Thunderbolt-enabled peripherals was impressive – they only seemed to be missing Thunderbolt docks. The full list of devices is available in the table below, but Gigabyte had the Apple Thunderbolt display, several Thunderbolt external hard drives, a Thunderbolt SSD, Thunderbolt-equipped RAIDed NAS boxes from several vendors, and the active Thunderbolt cables themselves (from Sumitomo Electric).
|Blackmagic design||UltraStudio 3D||Video editing|
|Blackmagic design||Intensity Extreme||Video editing|
|LaCie||eSATA Hub Thunderbolt||Hub|
|Promise Technology, Inc||Pegasus R6||Storage|
|Seagate||GoFlex ThunderBolt Adapter||HDD Adapter|
|Seagate||GoFlex Desk ThunderBolt Adapter||HDD Adapter|
|Sonnos||Sonnet ECHO ExpressCard||ExpressCard|
|Sumitomo Electric||Thunderbolt Cable||Cable|
|Western Digital||My Book Thunderbolt Drive||Storage|
Although Thunderbolt is going to be a niche connection (mostly due to expense of cables and components vs the “good enough” and much cheaper USB 3.0 standard) for the foreseeable future, Computex 2012 is trying its best to drive home the idea that Thunderbolt is not going away. There are definitely more Thunderbolt devices than I had originally predicted to show up at the show in Taipei.
Subject: Motherboards | June 5, 2012 - 06:40 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: trinity, msi, htpc, fm2, computex, amd
Located at Booth L0810 in Nangang Hall 4F, MSI is showing off a tong of new hardware. One of the interesting displays is a wall of new motherboards based on AMD’s desktop Trinity APUs. Using the company’s Hybrid Digital Power design, the FM2 socket-based motherboards come in three sizes: EATX, ATX, and mini-ITX to meet various project needs.
MSI's Trinity display at Computex 2012. Source: MSI
The smallest of the bunch is the MSI A85IA-E53 motherboard, which is designed for HTPC use. Based on AMD’s A75 chipset, the mini-ITX board features an AMD FM2 socket in the middle, with two DDR3 DIMM slots (a maximum of 16GB of memory) below, a single PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot to the left, and four SATA 6Gbps ports to the right of the FM2 socket.
Rear IO on the board includes a combo PS/2 port, optical audio (TOSLink) output, VGA and HDMI video outputs, three eSATA ports, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit LAN port, and analog audio out via three 3.5mm jacks. The motherboard also features integrated WiFi and Bluetooth radios. Built with the company’s military class III components, the A85IA-E53 comes packed with the ClickBIOS II, OC Genie II, and support for HD7000 series graphics cards.
MSI has two mid-sized ATX form factor motherboards with the the MSI A55M-P33 (F2) and MSI A85MA-35. The former is intended for traditional desktop use cases while the latter is rather shallow in depth and is meant to be used in living room HTPCs.
MSI A55M-P33 (F2)
The MSI A55M-P33 (F2) is the company’s budget desktop motherboard. It supports OC Genie II and ClickBIOS II technologies as well as AMD Dual Graphics which allows the pairing of a Trinity APU integrated graphics card and discrete AMD GPU. In adition to the FM2 socket, the board features two DDR3 DIMM slots (maximum of 16GB of 1866MHz memory), four SATA 3Gbps ports, one PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot, one PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot, and one legacy PCI slot.
This motherboard is actually based on the AMD A55 chipset which explains the lack of 6Gbps ports and USB 3.0 support. The company describes the board as the “value choice” for those upgrading to a new Trinity-based system. Rear IO on the A55M-P33 (F2) includes eight USB 2.0 ports, six 3.5mm jacks for analog audio output, Gigabit Ethernet, and DVI and VGA display outputs.
The second ATX motherboard is the MSI A85MA-E35. This motherboard has been designed wider and shallower than traditional desktop ATX boards so that it can fit into slim HTPC cases (that usually have more room longways than height-wise as they need to be able to fit into AV racks and other short spaces). It is essentially the mATX A85IA-E53’s big brother as it takes the AMD A75 chipset and takes advantage of the larger PCB area to add additional functionality. The motherboard features MSI’s OC Genie II and ClickBIOS II technology and AMD’s Dual Graphics support for pairing a dedicated GPU with the Trinity APU’s graphics portion.
The board is rather spaced out as the PCB is stretched out to keep things as shallow as possible. It does feature two DDR3 DIMM slots (maximum of 16GB 1866MHz RAM), the AMD FM2 processor socket, one PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot, two PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots, and one legacy PCI slot. The only motheboard component with a heatsink attached is the southbridge, which is powering six SATA ports, at least four of which are 6Gbps (MSI only lists four 6Gbps ports in the documentation, seen above and to the right of the board [TechPowerUp indicates that all six are 6Gbps, however]). Rear IO includes four USB 3.0 ports, six analog audio out jacks, Gigabit LAN, and what is likely a PS/2 port and optical audio output.
Finally, the FM2 motherboard to rule them all (or at least the company’s AMD lineup) is the MSI A85XA-G65. The board comes packed with MSI technology including Military Class III components, OC Genie II, ClickBIOS II, Hybrid Design Power, THX TruStuio Pro, AMD Dual Graphics (APU+discrete card), AMD CrossFire, NVIDIA SLI, and AMD Eyefinity.
In other words, MSI has bolted just about everything it could to this board. They confidently labeled the motherboard as the board for enthusiasts to use to push Trinity overclocks as far as possible. The first thing I noticed about the image (seen below) of the A85XA-G65 was the massive heatsinks on the VRMs and southbridge – did I mention they were huge? In addition to the well-cooled VRMs, the motherboard features four DDR3 DIMM slots (max of 32GB 1866MHz RAM), two PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots, three PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots, and two legacy PCI slots towards the bottom of the board. To the right is the southbridge (with relatively large heatsink) powering eight SATA 6Gbps ports.
The A85XA-G65 supports DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, and VGA video outputs. Beyond that, rear IO includes a combo PS/2 port, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit LAN, six 3.5mm jacks for multi-channel analog audio outputs, and an optical audio output. If you want to push desktop Trinity to the max, this board definitely seems like a good place to start.
MSI has definitely come out in full force with a slew of AMD Trinity motherboards. The HTPC ones, and the mini-ITX one in particular, interest me. The beastly A85XA-G65 is also pretty neat for overclocking potential. Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Computex 2012 coverage! What do you guys want to see from the show? You can see a few more photos after the break.
Subject: General Tech | June 5, 2012 - 01:37 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, computex, benchmarking, 3dmark
Popular benchmarking software company Futuremark has announced on their website a new version of their 3DMark application for Windows 8 benchmarking. While not available for download (yet), the application can be used to benchmark the performance of Windows 8 machines. Currently the company is calling the software "3DMark for Windows 8" which breaks the traditional numbered naming scheme.
Not much is known about the particulars yet, but we were able to snag some screenshots from their site which may or may not be publicly available any more. Take a look below the break (there are quite a few). More information should be coming shortly as Computex 2012 marches on.
I will miss the rocket powered airship and big guy with the minigun, but I suppose these benchmarks will be fun to watch as well.