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Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 16, 2011 - 02:41 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: llano, liveblog, fusion, APU, amd, AFDS
The AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2011 is set to begin at 11:30am ET / 8:30am PT and promises to bring some interesting and forward looking news about the future of AMD's APU technology. We are going to cover the keynotes LIVE right here throughout the week so if you want to know what is happening AS IT HAPPENS, stick around!!
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 15, 2011 - 09:14 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: opencl, amd, AFDS
If you are a developer of applications which requires more performance than a CPU alone can provide then you are probably having a gleeful week. Today Microsoft announced their competitor to OpenCL and we have a large write-up about that aspect of their keynote address. If you are currently an OpenCL developer you are not left out, however, as AMD has announced new tools designed to make your life easier too.
General Purpose GPU utilities: Because BINK won't satisfy this crowd.
(Logo trademark Apple Inc.)
AMD’s spectrum of enhanced tools includes:
- gDEBuger: An OpenCL and OpenGL debugger, profiler, and memory analyzer released as a plugin for Visual Studio.
- Parallel Path Analyzer (PPA): A tool designed to profile data transfers and kernel execution across your system.
- Global Memory for Accelerators (GMAC) API: Lets developers use multiple devices without needing to manage multiple data buffers in both the CPU and the GPU.
- Task Manager API: A framework to manage scheduling kernels across devices.
These tools and utilities should make the development of software easier and allow more developers to take the risk on the new technology. The GPU has already proven itself worthy of more and more important tasks and it is only a matter of time before it is finally ubiquitous enough that it is a default component as important as the CPU itself. As an ironic aside, that should spur the adoption of PC Gaming given how many people would have sufficient hardware.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 15, 2011 - 05:58 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: programming, microsoft, fusion, c++, amp, AFDS
During this morning's keynote at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit, Microsoft's Herb Sutter went on stage to discuss the problems and solutions involved around programming and developing for multi-processing systems and heterogeneous computing systems in particular. While the problems are definitely something we have discussed before at PC Perspective, the new solution that was showcased was significant.
C++ AMP (accelerated massive parallelism) was announced as a new extension to Visual Studio and the C++ programming language to help developers take advantage of the highly parallel and heterogeneous computing environments of today and the future. The new programming model uses C++ syntax and will be available in the next version of Visual Studio with "bits of it coming later this year." Sorry, no hard release date was given when probed.
Perhaps just as significant is the fact that Microsoft announced the C++ AMP standard would be an open specification and they are going to allow other compilers to integrated support for it. Unlike C# then, C++ AMP has a chance to be a new dominant standard in the programming world as the need for parallel computing expands. While OpenCL was the only option for developers that promised to allow easy utilization of ALL computing power in a computing device, C++ AMP gives users another option with the full weight of Microsoft behind it.
To demonstrate the capability of C++ AMP Microsoft showed a rigid body simulation program that ran on multiple computers and devices from a single executable file and was able to scale in performance from 3 GLOPS on the x86 cores of Llano to 650 GFLOPS on the combined APU power and to 830 GFLOPS with a pair of discrete Radeon HD 5800 GPUs. The same executable file was run on an AMD E-series APU powered tablet and ran at 16 GFLOPS with 16,000 particles. This is the promise of heterogeneous programming languages and is the gateway necessary for consumers and business to truly take advantage of the processors that AMD (and other companies) are building today.
If you want programs other than video transcoding apps to really push the promise of heterogeneous computing, then the announcement of C++ AMP is very, very big news.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Shows and Expos | June 14, 2011 - 08:06 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: vliw, trinity, llano, fusion, evergreen, cayman, amd, AFDS
Well that was an interesting twist... During a talk on the next generation of GPU technology at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit, one of the engineers was asked about Trinity, the next APU to be released in 2012 (and shown running today for the very first time). It was offered that Trinity in fact used a VLIW4 architecture rather than the VLIW5 design found in the just released Llano A-series APU.
A shader unit from the VLIW4-based Cayman architecture
That means that Trinity APUs will ship with Cayman-based GPU technology (6900 series) rather than the Evergreen (5000 series). While that doesn't tell us much in terms of performance simply because we have so many variables including shader counts and clocks, it does put to rest the rumor that Trinity was going to keep basically the same class of GPU technology that Llano had.
Trinity notebook shown for the first time today at AFDS. Inside is an APU with Cayman-class graphics.
AMD is definitely pushing the capabilities of APUs forward and if they can stay on schedule with Trinity, Intel might find the GPU portion of its Ivy Bridge architecture well behind again.
Subject: Editorial, Processors, Shows and Expos | June 14, 2011 - 05:09 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: nvidia, Intel, heterogeneous, fusion, arm, AFDS
Before the AMD Fusion Developer Summit started this week in Bellevue, WA the most controversial speaker on the agenda was Jem Davies, the VP of Technology at ARM. Why would AMD and ARM get together on a stage with dozens of media and hundreds of developers in attendance? There is no partnership between them in terms of hardware or software but would there be some kind of major announcement made about the two company's future together?
In that regard, the keynote was a bit of a letdown and if you thought there was going to be a merger between them or a new AMD APU being announced with an ARM processor in it, you left a bit disappointed. Instead we got a bit of background on ARM how the race of processing architectures has slowly dwindled to just x86 and ARM as well as a few jibes at the competition NOT named AMD.
As is usually the case, Davies described the state of processor technology with an emphasis on power efficiency and the importance of designing with that future in mind. One of the interesting points was shown in regard to the "bitter reality" of core-type performance and the projected DECREASE we will see from 2012 onward due to leakage concerns as we progress to 10nm and even 7nm technologies.
The idea of dark silicon "refers to the huge swaths of silicon transistors on future chips that will be underused because there is not enough power to utilize all the transistors at the same time" according to this article over at physorg.com. As the process technology gets smaller then the areas of dark silicon increase until the area of the die that can be utilized at any one time might hit as low as 10% in 2020. Because of this, the need to design chips with many task-specific heterogeneous portions is crucial and both AMD and ARM on that track.
Those companies not on that path today, NVIDIA specifically and Intel as well, were addressed on the below slide when discussing GPU computing. Davies pointed out that if a company has a financial interest in the immediate success of only CPU or GPU then benchmarks will be built and shown in a way to make it appear that THAT portion is the most important. We have seen this from both NVIDIA and Intel in the past couple of years while AMD has consistently stated they are going to be using the best processor for the job.
Amdahl's Law is used in parallel computing to predict the theoretical maximum speed up using multiple processors. Davies reiterated what we have been told for some time that if only 50% of your application can actually BE parallelized, then no matter how many processing cores you throw at it, it will only ever be 50% faster. The heterogeneous computing products of today and the future can address both the parallel computing and serial computing tasks with improvements in performance and efficiency and should result in better computing in the long run.
So while we didn't get the major announcement from ARM and AMD that we might have been expecting, the fact that ARM would come up and share a stage with AMD reiterates the message of the Fusion Developer Summit quite clearly: a combined and balanced approach to processing might not be the sexiest but it is very much the correct one for consumers.
Subject: Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 14, 2011 - 12:08 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: trinity, fusion, APU, AFDS
On stage during the opening keynote at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2011, Rick Bergman showed off a notebook that was being powered not by the recently released AMD Llano A-series APUs, but rather the Trinity core due in 2012.
Trinity is the desktop APU for next year that will combine Bulldozer-based x86 CPU cores with an updated DX11 GPU architecture built on the current 32nm process. Not much else is known about the chip yet but hopefully we'll get some more details this week at the show.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 11, 2011 - 02:28 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: john carmack, id, E3
John Carmack was and is one of the biggest faces in videogame engine development since Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake. He was at E3 to promote his company, iD Software’s, RAGE: their nearest upcoming release. While he was there, PCGamer managed to corner him for a 22 minute interview ranging from RAGE; to the current and future state of PC gaming; to the perceptive effect of input latency and how framerate affects it.
Look at how stable the framerate is!
- Texture resolution and memory limitations on consoles
- Higher end PCs being approximately 10-fold higher performance than the consoles
- Sandy Bridge is finally barely good enough for integrated graphics to be viable GPUs for games
- DirectX and OpenGL APIs hold the PC back, looking forward to new movements to access GPU better
- His interest focuses on the toolset to let the artists do more with less effort
- PC Gaming is still viable but a minority
- Input latency is longer than people expect, sometimes up to 100ms and beyond
- The exciting yet not necessarily crucial nature of newer rendering technologies
John Carmack always has interesting interviews from his very down to Earth and blunt tone. If you have a free half hour and want to hear one of the best game programmers in the world talk about his trade, this is definitely an interview for you.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 8, 2011 - 07:48 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: razer, E3
You may have noticed a slew of gaming-related news flooding from various cracks in the internet this week. E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is currently in progress in Los Angeles and much news spawned from its presence. PC Gamers are not left out of the expo, however, as companies like Razer announce their latest wares and technology. While a standard mouse is sufficient for most users there are some who desire extra sensitivity and extra buttons and those are precisely the customers for companies like Razer. Today, Razer announced that two of their upcoming mice would have two independent sensors, one optical and one laser, for enhanced tracking.
If they announce a five sensor Razer, The Onion won. (Image by Razer)
Razer listed a series of benefits to adding a second sensor to their next generation Mamba and Imperator mice:
- One sensor can calibrate the other to the surface you are using.
- The user will be able to determine how far away from the surface the mouse will stop tracking.
- Less latency tracking the surface you are operating on.
- Higher tracking precision.
While it is possible that you may appreciate those extra features on your mouse the largest factor in your gameplay will not be your hardware. The largest benefit I received switching from a three-button Microsoft mouse to a gaming mouse was the extra thumb buttons which I bound to an AutoHotkey script for single-button scrolling up and down large documents. (Available here if that's something you desire.) If these features speak to you however, check out Razer’s website.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 8, 2011 - 03:06 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Nintendo, E3, amd
Nintendo’s hardware manufacturers have been pretty stable for the last two generations of consoles. Following the NEC and SGI pairing of the Nintendo 64, Nintendo roped in the talents of IBM and AMD to create the hardware for the GameCube. With the transition to the Wii, AMD and IBM remained as the hardware producers for Nintendo’s console and with the announcement of the Wii U (the successor to the Wii) that will still remain true.
HOOOOOOOO Wii! (Image by Nintendo)
AMD published a press release to state that the Wii U will contain AMD Radeon HD graphics to power Nintendo’s first entry to the high definition club. AMD touted their experience in multiple display support during their Wii U press release which would be suitable for the LCD monitors embedded in their controllers. IBM also released a statement confirming that they are shipping multi-core 45nm parts for the Nintendo’s next-generation console but did not state any more details such as how many cores or their clock speed.
Nintendo is rarely ever vocal about the specifications of their consoles and this version is no different. For their entire press conference Nintendo did not even show the console itself opting to focus on the controller and software. Beyond the controller, the hardware looks to be comparable to Microsoft and Sony’s offering from the limited info and screen shots we have seen. More info should come up as we approach the Wii U’s launch in a little over a year.
Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2011 - 12:19 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: x101, ux01, notebook, laptop, computex, asus
ASUS had a lot of new and innovative products on display at Computex, but maybe none as interesting as these two notebooks. The UX21 was the flagship product for Intel's new "Ultrabook" category and while we have already posted about it earlier, I thought these new photos would be worth sharing.
The UX21 is an ultra-thin 1.7cm at its widest and weighs only 1.1 Kg fully loaded. It will include the ASUS "Instant On" technology, resuming the system in just 5 seconds and is claimed as the first notebooks with a SATA 6G SSD.
Sporting a new ULV Sandy Bridge Core i7 processor, this system won't skimp on performance either if it lives up to its claims.
More photos and information after the break!!
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2011 - 11:28 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: computex, thermaltake, frio, level 10, power strip
Thermaltake had its standard booth array of cases, coolers, keyboards, mice, headphones, etc but also had some new items to show us when we stopped by. The first was a new "Snow Edition" of the Level 10 GT chassis we reviewed back in April.
The case remains mostly unchanged with some USB 3.0 ports up front, 5 "EasySwap" HDD bays and room for some very long graphics cards. The white color is not paint but rather plastic injected so you won't have to worry about the paint scratching off.
Next up is the Frio GT CPU cooler - yes the above image is showing you a freaking CPU COOLER. It supports up to 300 watts of cooling and does so with an enormous amount of heatpipes, fins and airflow. This cooler will be available in Q4 and should cost you under $100.
Under the two big collections of fins you can see the heatpipes that move the energy from the CPU cores. Obviously you are going to need to check out your case and motherboard dimensions before picking up a cooler like this as I imagine there are going to be quite a few configurations that are incompatible.
Thermaltake is also going into the self-contained water cooling direction as well with the internally designed and built BigWater A80. Thermaltake claims this device will get better results than the competition by including some interesting airflow modifications. Expect this to be very price competitive and be available in Q3.
A big surprise at the booth was new USB-controlled power strip called the "Wireless USB Control Series". Besides offering some convenient USB outlets directly on the power strip, this surge protector also has a USB powered remote control that will turn on and off the "Energy Saver" ports with the push of a button.
The remote sits in a little stand on top of your desk so you can power offer your display, printer or other devices all at once and without reaching behind anything. For those of you that want to go green then this will allow you to do so for a modest cost of $30-40 later this year.
Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2011 - 10:42 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: x79, fusion, ECS, e-350, computex, 990fx
ECS, aka Elitegroup, had a large booth at Computex that focused more on its ODM aspects than consumer aspects, but there were still a couple of interesting designs to look at.
The board we spotted was the new A990FXM-A motherboard that is of course based on the latest 990FX chipset from AMD. Supporting the AM3+ processor socket and thus the pending AMD Bulldozer processors, the 990FX is going to be a long term product rather than a short term. One interesting addition to the board is found on the chipset heatsink that has a temperature reactive plastic on it that will turn from grey to orange-ish as the ambient case temperature increases. This could be a great feature to easily gauge the heat level inside a windowed case.
Also an interesting move, ECS has elongated the receptacle on the 8-pin CPU power connection to make it easier to plug in and to remove. If you have ever experienced a pinched finger or sliced finger nail from trying to reach down and unplug an ATX connector, you will see this as a nice addition.
ECS also had its X79 motherboard variant on display, showing the company's readiness for the pending Sandy Bridge-E release.
Also on the motherboard wall was the upcoming A75F-A with support for the AMD Llano Fusion-based processors that should be ready later in the summer.
Finally, a motherboard that we have just recently received for review purposes, the HDC-I is an AMD E-350 or E-240 Zacate platform mini-ITX form factor. This solution might be a great option for users looking to build an HTPC box so be sure you check out our full review coming shortly.
Subject: Cases and Cooling, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2011 - 12:15 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: performance series, p280, computex, antec
Upstairs at the Antec booth at Computex 2011, a new case sat awaiting our eyes and cameras called the Performance Series P280. A successor to the long-adored P180 case, the P280 will offer a host of tweaks and new features while maintaining a price point of about $130 on the street.
The fit and finish of the P280 should look familiar to anyone that has laid eyes on the P180. This time Antec has added two internal USB 3.0 ports in addition to a pair of USB 2.0 ports on the front panel.
The door on this case has the same over-swing as the P180 to completely fold away on the side if needed. There are three 5.25-in bays and a dual fan removable filter.
On the top of the case are pair of fans that use the newer rubber grommet style connection to lessen any kind of noise or rattle from them.
Both doors (and the top) of the P280 are lined with a very heavy compressed plastic that is used as a sound dampening device. Antec claims this is more effective than the foam insulation siding that many case vendors are currently using or that Antec uses on the P180.
Hit the "Read More" link for more photos and details on Antec's P280!!
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2011 - 11:59 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: windows 8, computex
There is a lot of buzz after the unveiling of Window 8 to a select few at Computex. VR-Zone has a nice series of pictures as well as about 20 minutes of video footage from the preview event. AnandTech focused on the ARM version and the new filesystem, while Engadget were content to delve even deeper into the ARM support offered by Win8. ExtremeTech was more interested in the browser side, examining IE10 and the future Java and HTML5 as well as looking at the touch interface abilities.
"VR-Zone was in attendance for this historic Windows 8 unveiling event to selected partners and press at W Hotel Taipei, COMPUTEX 2011. Microsoft showed off its new Windows 8 UI design and a few x86/ARM prototype devices from its partners."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Bulldozer delayed and not delayed @ SemiAccurate
- Qualcomm Uplinq 2011 Day One Keynote - Mobile is King @ AnandTech
- Texas Instruments announces a dual-core 1.8GHz OMAP4 system-on-chip @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft postpones IDP for 2 weeks to re-consult with chip players @ DigiTimes
- Creative Labs' Pure Wireless Modularity Event Coverage @ Tweaktown
- Computex 2011 - Shuttle PC @ TechwareLabs
- Computex Highlights - Day 2 @ Ninjalane
- G.Skill & ASUS Live Extreme Overclocking at Computex @ VR-Zone
- ZiiLABS demos JAGUAR 7 and JAGUAR 10 Honeycomb Tablets @ VR-Zone
- AMD E-450 APU Spotted At Computex @ VR-Zone
- Hardware firms are tight-lipped on Acer’s 'troublesome Microsoft' comments @ The Inquirer
- The crooks who created modern wiretapping law @ Ars Technica
- Wave of Trojans breaks over Android @ The Register
- A Chance to Win a Gigabyte GTX 560 Overclock @ Bjorn3D
- Memorial Day Giveaway @Hi Tech Legion
Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2011 - 05:13 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: X58, overclocking, gigabyte, computex
Releasing a motherboard based on the X58 chipset at this point might seem odd, but when you can offer a unique take on the overclocking market you might just find a niche. Gigabyte is hoping that is the case with the new X58A-OC model that is going to be priced very competively thanks in large part to the removal of many features.
The orange and black color scheme on the board is actually pretty unique while the layout is setup in a way for quad-GPUs - you are going to need that to break those overclocking records.
In the top right hand corner there are a host of overclocking specific features. The "4G" button will automatically overclock basically any Nehalem processor to something above 4.0 GHz while the Gear button will decrease the size of the increments available to the user on voltage to the processor. The ratio and frequency +/- buttons are going to be of great use for overclocking a system on the fly without having to go through the trouble of entering a BIOS. Don't forget you have your power and reset buttons and voltage monitoring leads here too.
Where Gigabyte saves a bit of money is with the non-overclocking features; things like eSATA and high-end audio are left out so that the even the classic external connection space is pretty bare.
You will also notice near the SATA data connections some SATA-style power connectors as well. These are used to supply extra voltage to the PCI Express connections for overclocking and pushing quad graphics cards.
Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2011 - 04:52 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: ssd, socket 2011, llano, intel ssd, gigabyte, computex, APU
We stopped by the Gigaybte booth during Computex 2011 this week and found a host of new motherboards that range from the mainstream to the ultra-extreme.
First up is the A75-UD4H that supports the new AMD FM1 socket and the upcoming AMD Llano processor. Even though the APU will have integrated graphics on die, the Gigabyte board support AMD Dual Graphics technology and CrossFire multi-GPU solutions in conjunction with 8 USB 3.0 ports.
The board will include output connections of VGA, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort along with size USB ports, four of which are USB 3.0.
The Z68XP-UD3 motherboard is one that will be offered in two different ways: one with an SSD and one without. The "iSSD" model will actually include an mSATA Intel 20GB SLC SSD and should come in at a cost of under $250. Considering the Larson Creek drive will cost you anywhere from $90-110 on its own, the combination of a Z68 motherboard and SSD is actually very price competitive. Plus, you get the convenience of having the SSD on the motherboard without it taking up a 3.5-in or 2.5-in drive bay.
For those that choose to get the lower cost board without the included Intel SSD you will be able to choose from several other newcomers to the mSATA form factor including Kingston and OCZ.
Of course we had to take a look at the Socket 2011 motherboard, the X79A-UD3 with support for the upcoming Intel Sandy Bridge-E processor. According to the slide information this will include a new version of the SSD caching technology called RSTe (Rapid Storage Technology Enterprise) with support for USB 3.0 and quad-channel DDR3 memory.
For those that haven't seen, here is a close up of the Socket 2011 in all its glory - that's a lot of pins!!
Subject: Processors, Shows and Expos | June 1, 2011 - 09:28 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: trinity, llano, fusion, computex, bulldozer, APU, amd
While talking up the new 900-series of chipset and the branding for the upcoming AMD Llano APU launch, AMD did surprise us by showing off a bit more of the future than typical. Rick Bergman, general manager of the AMD Product Group, pulled a Trinity-based APU out of his pocket to demonstrate the conviction of staying on a "one-APU-per-year" cycle in the years to come.
While it looks just like any other AMD processors from a distance, this Trinity APU is based on the Bulldozer x86 architecture (which will see the first release as a CPU only later this year) and combines some amount of SIMD-units (aka Radeon cores) for a CPU/GPU combo. This will be the part that succeeds Llano, due out in a few short days.
This roadmap shows the cadence of once a year will be the norm for AMD going forward and that AMD plans to introduce an APU for the tablet market sometime in 2012. It will be interesting to see how late to the game AMD is in this arena and if they can compete with what ARM is doing or even what Intel will be doing with Medfield.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | June 1, 2011 - 08:58 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: computex, asus, gputweak, overclocking, oc
While perusing the ASUS booth for notebooks and graphics cards and motherboards, we also spotted some new overclocking software that looked kind of interesting.
ASUS GPUTweak will ship with ASUS graphics cards starting later this year but they did indicate that it will be available as free download for users of ANY brand of graphics card; which is a nice way to gain some street cred. The software combines a monitoring application, overclocking application and custom version of GPU-Z in a single interface to allow users to really push their GPUs beyond stock settings.
Besides the semi-standard options of frequency (both GPU and memory), voltages and fan speeds, ASUS GPUTweak software will allow users of ASUS Matrix / ROG graphics cards to modify the timings on their GPU memory as well, something that is unique to its offerings.
The software will also allow you "burn" settings into your Matrix cards BIOS so that they will boot at the overclocked settings regardless of the any installed software or operating system. There is a Safety button on all Matrix cards to revert back to the original settings in case of an emergency...
It is nice to see ASUS jumping into the ring here with some competent software and I am curious to see how it will be welcomed after we have seen MSI's Afterburner application become such a hit with gamers.
Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | June 1, 2011 - 08:37 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: ssd, revodrive, ocz, hybrid, computex
OCZ is definitely pushing its SSD products to the consumer and it was no different when we stopped by the OCZ suite at Computex 2011. The most interesting devices came in the form of PCI Express based SSDs including the pending RevoDrive 3 model that upgrades the SSD controllers to SandForce 2200 models and gets some pretty hefty performance boosts because of it.
The RevoDrive 3 includes a pair of SF-2200 controllers and was rated at 900 MB/s read and 700 MB/s write using the PCIe x4 interface. The 240GB model is apparently only going to have a $599 price tag and it should be available in a matter of a short few weeks. The X2 model adds another module to the mix and doubles the controller count to four and improves performance to as high as 1500 MB/s read and 1200 MB/s write. Obviously these types of devices are only for those that REALLY need to push the envelope in storage performance.
Also, more good news: OCZ has implemented a newer firmware feature on the RevoDrive 3 (and other newer PCIe based models) that will enable support for features like TRIM natively. This is done by hiding the multiple controllers from the operating system and passing on / delegating the TRIM commands as needed. Allyn will have more on this when we get a sample later this month.
Another new PCIe-based SSD was the new Z-Drive R4 that fits more into the enterprise market with insanely high IOPS and performance.
OCZ actually showed a server running a pair of the R4 88 models that were able to achieve a 1 million IOPS rating on random 4K.
Another option for consumers was the new RevoDrive Hybrid that is exactly what it sounds like it is - a combination of a PCI Express SSD and a standard 2.5-in spindle based drive on a single unit. This will bring the performance benefits of not only an SSD but a PCIE SSD to consumers that want to have the appearance of a single large hard drive inside their system. It will use SandForce SF-2200 controllers and is rated at 575 MB/s read and 500 MB/s writes with several models planned for production. The SSD portion that acts as the cache will be available in either 60GB of 120GB capacities while the HDD will start at 500GB and go up from there. Pricing will apparently start at $400 for the 60GB/500GB version and will definitely be appealing for enthusiasts. Now everyone can get the advantages of hybrid storage without being locked into the Z68 chipset or even an Intel platform at all.
This implementation does not use any kind of Intel technology at all and instead is based on a firmware option from NVELO called Dataplex. Based on the marketing numbers we saw the implementation that OCZ has created with the PCIe-based SSD will outperform Intel's SATA-based SRT technology by a noticeable margin, at least in benchmarks. We can't wait to get our hands on one to see for ourselves.
Finally, OCZ is going to throw their hat into the ring with the mSATA offering called the Devena 2 that runs on a SandForce SF-2181/2141 controller. Expect to see this marketed as an option even for Intel SRT. It looks like the rest of 2011 will be very busy for Allyn and our storage test bed.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 1, 2011 - 07:57 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: computex, msi, pcie, x79, 990fx, z68
MSI had quite a showing at this year's Computex starting with a host of new motherboards based on the Z68 chipset. The most interesting of which was the new Z68A-GD80 (G3) that in addition to including all the features of the Sandy Bridge processor, SLI, CrossFire, Lucid Virtu and things like OC Genie II and Military Class Components II, is the first motherboard we have seen that integrates support for the PCI Express 3.0 specification.
MSI was able to do this by simply adhering to the already existing PCIe 3.0 specifications and claims the performance doubles from 8 GB/s up to 16 GB/s (for a x16 connection). Even though there are no PCIe 3.0 accessories or graphics cards on the market today, MSI has seen performance improvements when testing PCI Express based solid state drives like the OCZ Revo. We are eager to get this board in the hands of our storage guru and see what advantages it offers users today.
Next up is the new MSI 990FXA-GD80 motherboard based on AMD's latest 990FX chipset. We actually have one of these in the office and should have a review up shortly. With support for today's Phenom processors and tomorrow's Bulldozer-core based designs, I think the 990FX chipset will find its way into a lot of users machines.
Even further out into the future, we saw a glimpse of an MSI engineering sample for the pending Socket 2011 processors from Intel, the MSI X79A-GD65. Supporting the upcoming Sandy Bridge-E processor family and a new quad-channel memory controller, you can clearly see the 2011 socket is HUGE and requires the memory slots to be divided up on either side of it. A lot will change more than likely between now and this boards release but it is cool to see a preview of what is in store for us!
Finally, MSI did have another card in the Lightning series to show off, the N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition. This card has all the same engineering features of the previous Lightning models but adds in a couple of unique features called Smart Temp Sensor and Dust Removal.
The Smart Temp Sensor is actually a coating on the fan that changes from blue to white in appearance as the ambient temperature increases. If the inside of your chassis hits the 45C mark then the fans will be completely white and should give you an indication of system stability. My only concern is that even users with windows on their cases will have trouble seeing the fans on the graphics card cooler posted at a right angle.
The Dust Removal feature is more interesting in that it runs the fans on the Xtreme Edition in the reverse direction for the first 30 seconds of the power cycle and then return to the proper direction for cooling the heatsinks. The idea is that the 30 second reverse interval will help clear out dust from the heatsink and from the fan blades itself saving users in the long run.
Another interesting feature coming very soon to Android phone users is the ability to monitor and overclock your MSI graphics cards via an Afterburner app for your phone. This will be available this month or early in July for Android and *maybe* by the end of the year for iPhone.
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