New system recommendations to keep you busy during March Break

Subject: Systems | February 24, 2012 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: sweet spot, schooner, econobox, double stuff, corsair

The PC Perspective Hardware Leaderboard is not the only source for system build recommendations, The Tech Report has also just updated their system recommendations as well.  As there has not been much movement in the industry apart from graphics card updates many of the components remain the same, with a few exceptions.  There is a brand new page on the system guide which offers a unique philosophy on system building which leverages the broad spread of markets component companies offer now.  Corsair offers far more than just RAM now, which is how the Schooner system came to exist.  The majority of the components in this system are Corsair, which will give your system a very consistent look usually found only in boutique built machines.  Check out the whole article here.

TR_guide-shot.jpg

"Not much new hardware has come out since we published our last guide in December, but this edition is still choc-full of small, incremental changes and tweaks. We've also included a one-of-a-kind build specced out by our Editor-in-Chief."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

VIA Announces World's First Quad Core Mini-ITX Boards

Subject: Systems | February 23, 2012 - 12:26 PM |
Tagged: VIA, EPIA-M900, EPIA-M910, quadcore

Taipei, Taiwan--February 23, 2012 - VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, today announcedthe world's first quad core Mini-ITX boards featuring the latest VIA QuadCore E-Series processor. The VIA EPIA-M900 and VIA EPIA-M910 are the first two Mini-ITX boards to feature the 1.2GHz VIA QuadCore E-Series processor, offering enhanced multi-tasking and superb multimedia performance on the lowest quad core power budget for next generation embedded products.

The VIA QuadCore E-Series processor features a highly optimized, energy efficient multi-core architecture, which is natively 64-bit compatible and comes with a host of additional performance features including Adaptive Overclocking. To meet the low power demands of the embedded market, the VIA QuadCore E-Series processor offers industry-leading energy efficiency, with the VIA QuadCore E-Series 1.2+ GHz processor delivering a thermal design power (TDP) of only 27.5W. The distributed power of the VIA QuadCore E-Series processor makes it ideal for handling the most demanding HD video formats for immersive multi-display applications and environments.

"The VIA QuadCore E-Series processor delivers world class performance in the industry's leading power efficient package,"said Epan Wu, Head of the VIA Embedded Platform Division, VIA Technologies, Inc. "The high performance of the VIA QuadCore E-Series processor makes it the perfect platform for the creation of next generation digital signage displays and embedded projects."

VIA EPIA-M900VIA EPIA-M900
Measuring 17cm x 17cm the VIA EPIA-M900 Mini-ITX board features the choice of a 1.2GHz VIA QuadCore E-Series processor or a 1.6GHz dual core VIA Nano X2 E-Series processor.Paired with the VIA VX900 MSP, supporting up to 8GB of DDR3 system memory and featuring the VIA ChromotionHD 2.0 video processor, the VIA EPIA-M900 enables the creation of a wealth of innovative next generation digital signage, POS, Kiosk, ATM, home automation, healthcare and media client system design applications.

VIA Quad 1.jpg

Just click to grow!

Rear panel I/O includes a Gigabit LAN port, HDMI port, VGA port, four USB 2.0 ports, one COM port and three audio jacks. An onboard PCIe x16 slot (with effective speed up to PCIe x8) and one PCI slot is accompanied with pin headers providing one dual channel 24-bit LVDS support (including backlight control), an additional three COM ports, a further four USB 2.0 ports and one USB device port, LPC support, 2 Digital I/O, SPDIF out and an SMBus header.

For more information about the VIA EPIA-M900 Mini-ITX board, please visit: http://www.viaembedded.com/en/products/boards/productDetail.jsp?productLine=1&id=1550&tabs=1

VIA EPIA-M910VIA EPIA-M910
Paired with the VIA VX900 MSP, the VIA EPIA-M910 is available with a wide choice of VIA x86 processors, including the latest 1.2GHz VIA QuadCore E-Series processor, a 1.6GHz VIA Nano X2 dual core processor or a fanless 1.0GHz VIA Eden X2 dual core processor. Featuring one of the richest I/O sets available, the VIA EPIA-M910 is ideal for a wide range of embedded applications including ATM, kiosks, POS, digital signage, healthcare and digital media applications.

EPIA_2.jpg

Embiggen with a click

Rear panel I/O includes dual Gigabit LAN ports, PS/2 support, one HDMI port, a VGA port, two RS-232 5v/12v selectable COM ports, four USB 2.0 ports and audio jacks. On board pin headers provide 2 x 24-bit LVDS support (including backlight control), two SATA ports, an additional six COM ports, a further four USB ports, Digital I/O, and a PCIe x4 slot. The VIA EPIA-M910 is available with support for either ATX or DC-in power supplies.

For more information about the VIA EPIA-M910 Mini-ITX board, please visit: http://www.viaembedded.com/en/products/boards/productDetail.jsp?productLine=1&id=1810&tabs=1

For more information about VIA QuadCore E-Series processors, please visit: http://www.viaembedded.com/en/products/processors/productDetail.jsp?productLine=5&id=1830&tabs=1

Intel Inside. Thecus' Next-Gen NAS introduced: N4800, N2800

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Storage | February 20, 2012 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: Thecus, NAS

Home users are starting to look at Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices to serve their home media needs. Also popular are products which allow you to browse the internet and play media on your TV. Just announced by Thecus are two NAS devices which fit both roles and many others. The N2800 contains a built-in media card reader while the N4800 has a built in mini Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS), OLED status screen, and a second USB3.0 port.

thecus4800-2800.jpg

I hear they're a NASty bunch...

The obvious selling features of the two devices are the inclusion of HDMI output to enable the above roles as well as an updated 3rd Generation Intel Atom CPU D2700. The D2700 is a 2.13GHz Dual Core and hyper threaded Intel Atom processor manufactured at 32nm.

Check out the highlights of their press release below.

02/20/2012- As part of the Intel Embedded Alliance, Thecus has precedence and access to a multitude of Intel prototypes and the latest technologies. Working on those products for months now, Thecus is delighted to finally release its Vision Series.

The new N2800 and N4800 are going to be some of the first Intel(r) Atom(tm) D2700 based NAS! They will set the standard for what's best in the market to help you build a true multimedia center: USB 3.0, Dual Gigabit Ports, SD Card reader (N2800), Mini-UPS (N4800), etc.

And the most important feature is the HDMI output. With Thecus Local Display module, it's now possible to connect the NAS directly to a monitor and control it through USB mouse/keyboard. Playing HD movies, browsing the web, controlling the NAS... everything is now possible directly from your TV! Thanks to this feature, Thecus is now creating a new standard among the NAS industry.

About Thecus(r)

Thecus(r) Technology Corp. specializes in IP Storage Server and Network Video Recorder solutions. The company was established in 2004 with the mission to make technology that is as transparent as it is easy-to-use and products that are not only the best on the market, but are accessible to experts and novices alike. Combining a world-class R&D team highly experienced in storage hardware and software development with a keen customer focus, Thecus(r) stays close to the market to develop high-quality products to fulfill the storage and surveillance needs of today's world.

Source: Thecus

Wi-Fi on Rosepoint SoC die. Intel flexes before ARM wrestle.

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 20, 2012 - 01:50 AM |
Tagged: Rosepoint, ISSCC 2012, ISSCC, Intel

If there is one thing that Intel is good at, it is writing a really big check to go in a new direction right when absolutely needed. Intel has released press information on what should be expected from their presence at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference which is currently in progress until the 23rd. The headliner for Intel at this event is their Rosepoint System on a Chip (SoC) which looks to lower power consumption by rethinking the RF transceiver and including it on the die itself. While the research has been underway for over a decade at this point, pressure from ARM has pushed Intel to, once again, throw money at R&D until their problems go away.

Intel could have easily trolled us all and have named this SoC "Centrino".

Almost ten years ago, AMD had Intel in a very difficult position. Intel fought to keep clock-rates high until AMD changed their numbering scheme to give proper credit to their higher performance-per-clock components. Intel dominated, legally or otherwise, the lower end market with their Celeron line of processors.

AMD responded with series of well-timed attacks against Intel. AMD jabbed Intel in the face and punched them in the gut with the release of the Sempron processor line nearby filing for anti-trust against Intel to allow them to more easily sell their processors in mainstream PCs.

At around this time, Intel decided to entirely pivot their product direction and made plans to take their Netburst architecture behind the shed. AMD has yet to recover from the tidal wave which the Core architectures crashed upon them.

applebattery.jpg

Intel wishes to stop assaulting your battery indicator.

With the surge of ARM processors that have been fundamentally designed for lower power consumption than Intel’s x86-based competition, things look bleak for the expanding mobile market. Leave it to Intel to, once again, simply cut a gigantic check.

Intel is in the process of cutting power wherever possible in their mobile offerings. To remain competitive with ARM, Intel is not above outside-the-box solutions including the integration of more power-hungry components directly into the main processor. Similar to NVIDIA’s recent integration of touchscreen hardware into their Tegra 3 SoC, Intel will push the traditionally very power-hungry Wi-Fi transceivers into the SoC and supposedly eliminate all analog portions of the component in the process.

I am not too knowledgeable about Wi-Fi transceivers so I am not entirely sure how big of a jump Intel has made in their development, but it appears to be very significant. Intel is said to discuss this technology more closely during their talk on Tuesday morning titled, “A 20dBm 2.4GHz Digital Outphasing Transmitter for WLAN Application in 32nm CMOS.”

This paper is about a WiFi-compliant (802.11g/n) transmitter using Intel’s 32nm process and techniques leveraging Intel transistors to achieve record performance (power consumption per transmitted data better than state-of-the art). These techniques are expected to yield even better results when moved to Intel’s 22nm process and beyond.

What we do know is that the Rosepoint SoC will be manufactured at 32nm and is allegedly quite easy to scale down to smaller processes when necessary. Intel has also stated that while only Wi-Fi is currently supported, other frequencies including cellular bands could be developed in the future.

We will need to wait until later to see how this will affect the real world products, but either way -- this certainly is a testament to how much change a dollar can be broken into.

Source: Intel

HP dates NVIDIA on Valentine's Day. We get Z1 workstation.

Subject: General Tech, Systems | February 17, 2012 - 10:39 PM |
Tagged: workstation, nvidia, hp

Here is a story for the professional computer users out there.

Professionals have standards: be polite, be efficient, and have a multi-year plan to cram as much hardware into a small case as you can seat. NVIDIA and HP have obviously played too much Team Fortress -- or I did -- let us just all three of us have. The engineers have dispensed with the desktop tower and crammed everything in the monitor with their Z1 product series. While not original, it does hold a number of nice features.

HP-Z1.jpg

… But honestly, what the user really wants is for it to dispense Bonk!

As soon as I read the announcement I immediately jumped over to HP’s product page and confirmed the existence of external display connections. Sure enough, HP did not entirely botch this product and allows the connection of one extra monitor by display port. While being limited to just two monitors is a bit disappointing -- I currently have a three monitor setup -- if they were to introduce a workstation computer with just a single monitor it would have been product suicide. Thankfully they had enough sense.

The real flaunted feature of the Z1 workstation is its ease of upgrade. The included power supply is rated at 400W which to my knowledge is decent for a single-card workstation class computer. HP claims support for up to 2 internal 2.5-inch drives or a single 3.5-inch drive; unfortunately they do not clarify whether you can install all three drives, or if you must choose between the one larger versus the two smaller drives.

HP-z1-open.jpg

HP and NVIDIA go on a date -- they dress workstation classual.

The workstation is expected to start at $1899 when it ships sometime around April. Unfortunately HP’s technical specifications list an Intel Core i3 and Integrated HD 2000 GPU -- most likely to hide the price of the products with the components that you actually want. I guess you will need to wait a couple of months to find out what you will actually be paying.

Source: NVIDIA

New CyberpowerPC Zeus Desktop Series Feature Intel Core i7-3820 and AMD FX CPUs

Subject: Systems | February 15, 2012 - 01:08 PM |
Tagged: Cyberpower, Zeus Lighting, Zeus Thunder, sandy bridge-e, amd fx

BALDWIN PARK, CA (February 15, 2012) – CyberpowerPC Inc. www.CyberpowerPC.com, a manufacturer of custom gaming machines, today announced its Zeus series -- a powerful new line of desktop computers that offer the power of thunder with Intel’s new i7-3820 CPU; the speed of AMD’s lightning fast FX CPUs; the refined design of NZXT’s Switch 810 chassis, and legendary Advanced Hydro Liquid Cooling.

ZEUS_7.jpg

The initial Zeus rollout includes six models. The Zeus Thunder 1000, 2000, 3000 and MAX will all feature Intel’s latest CPUs, including the new 2nd Gen. Core i7-3820 Sandy Bridge-E quad-core CPU operating at 3.6GHz, a 10MB L3 cache and HyperThreading support. The Zeus Lightning series consists of the 1000 and 2000 models with the AMD FX series native 8-core desktop processor, which allows you to immerse yourself in the most advanced 3D games and achieve extreme mega-tasking with ease.

High definition gaming will be no myth because the Zeus series is outfitted with leading edge graphics from AMD and NVIDIA. They not only deliver excellent gaming performance but provide great versatility and speed in video transcoding. You can also harness the power of multiple video cards with your choice of CrossfireX or SLI graphics performance.

The CyberpowerPC Zeus series does not forget the memory and uses low-latency high capacity memory modules from top tier brands such as Kingston HyperX or Corsair Vengeance DDR3 memory. Solid state drives (SSDs) are also a standard feature with a choice of Intel, Corsair Kingston and OCZ models to provide super fast system response and quick loading times.

To become the supreme ruler of gaming as the Zeus name implies, you need an elegant and refined chassis to house your weapons. The CyberpowerPC Zeus series employs the NZXT Switch 810 full tower hybrid chassis. PC enthusiasts can easily modify this classy-white case for liquid cooling, silent performance, or extreme airflow. With a quick switch, the hybrid fins on the NZXT can open up to allow maximum air flow or close for enhanced sound reduction. The Switch 810 chassis is also loaded with front panel ports for enhanced connectivity, which includes dual USB 3.0 ports and an Integrated SD card reader convenient for on-the-fly file transfers.

Each Zeus gaming PC has the option of up to 10 120mm case fans for supreme cooling and is also “hydro-ready” for intricate water cooling solutions. CyberpowerPC’s Advanced Hydro Liquid Cooling can be added to any Zeus system to cool both the CPU and GPU(s). With the Advanced Hydro Liquid Cooling kit, you can opt for a 240mm or 360mm radiator for ultra cooling.

ZEUS_1.jpg

Base price of the Zeus Thunder series with Intel CPUs starts under $1329. Base price of AMD-based Zeus Lightning systems is $999.

All CyberpowerPC gaming systems are available worldwide and can be customized with a number of performance hardware and components such as Solid State Drives, Blu-Ray drives, gaming memory, gaming peripherals, business and productivity software, and more.

North American customers can configure their Zeus system at www.CyberpowerPC.com. In Europe CyberpowerPC Zeus systems can be custom configured at www.cyberpowerpc.co.uk.

Every system is meticulously built with precise cable routing to ensure optimal airflow and a clean aesthetic appearance. CyberpowerPC loads every system with Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium Operating System for an enhanced gaming and multimedia experience. All CyberpowerPC desktop gaming systems include an industry-best 3-year limited warranty.

Source: CyberPower

Asustek? Your Ultrabook orders are ah pulled.

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | February 15, 2012 - 02:02 AM |
Tagged: ultrabook, Pegatron, asustek, apple

Pegatron Technology, an independent spin-off company of Asustek, will apparently stop manufacturing ultrabooks for Asustek as early as the end of March. According to a Digitimes, Pegatron will give up ultrabook orders from Asustek due to pressure from their new partner, Apple. Apple has not been pleased by the competition that ultrabooks bring to their MacBook Air lineup of higher-end ultrathin laptops.

Asus-Ultrabook.jpg

Asus really needs to find their Zen...

Have you ever seen a teenager who fights with their parents and moves out with their boyfriend or girlfriend? You know how that usually ends up with a lot of grief and a giant cellphone bill? With Pegatron currently assembling iPhones for Apple we already got the latter portion of that prophecy. How much grief all parties will incur is still pending.

On the other hand, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes of ZDNet is also rebutting the entire story with claims that it does not make sense. He asserts that Apple cannot push its weight against manufacturing and design companies and risk burning bridges.

On the other other hand, it very much does fit Apple’s recent modus operandi with their treatment of Samsung, HTC, and Google. Apple is also willing to drop large vendors with little hesitation. Apple threatened to drop Intel last summer over power concerns. From my position it is more believable than what the ZDNet article lets on.

What do you believe? Has Apple gone and bucked the Pegasus?

Source: Digitimes

Raspberry Pi Foundation Clears Up Misunderstanding About Their ARM Linux Computers, Still Coming This Month

Subject: Systems | February 10, 2012 - 04:17 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, htpc, Education, arm

The folks over at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the organization behind the upcoming ARM powered Linux computer, are having a field day today as they have been flooded with emails from enthusiasts and press worried about the availability and pricing of the Raspberry Pi computer as it seems someone made inferrences that then got blown out of proportion in a typical "telephone game" spiral out of control fashion.

We here at PC Perspective are among the many people who are waiting eagerly to get our hands on the fairly powerful ARM powered computer, so naturally this post by Liz over at the official Raspberry Pi website helped up to take a deep breath and relax.  The little Raspberry Pi boards are still coming at the end of this month (February 2012), and they will be priced at or below the previously announced prices of $25 for the base model and $35 for the model with more RAM and Ethernet.

Raspberry Pi.jpg

The takeaway from the article is that your plans and/or your desire to get your hands on a Raspberry Pi just because (like me) even if you don't know what to do with it yet are safe.  The point of the ARM computers are to bring a low cost, but capable computing platform to the masses for education.  Yes, the non profit foundation still needs to make a profit; however, they aren't about to jack up the price just because they can.  Liz further stated that the prices of $25 and $35 will not change, unless they can make them cheaper.  "Price is such an important part of what we’re doing in trying to change the way people use computers that we’d be totally, totally mad to move the price point."  The caveat is that the casing (that will accompany a package aimed at education customers and includes educational software and an outer shell) may add a bit to the price; however, they are going to try not to keep the price the same.

While they have not given a specific date, they state in a rather direct way (even going so far as to bold the text to get the point across- heh) that "You will be able to buy a Raspberry Pi from the end of February, from this website."  The misunderstanding, they state, relates to a statement about a different SKU of the Raspberry Pi that is aimed at education and will have a few extra accessories and features including a case to house the board, written support material, and educational software.  This version will come later this year (approximately Q3 2012), and was mixed up with the initial release this month.

Are you ready to get your hands on a Raspberry Pi?

Source: Raspberry Pi

WOA! We wanted Windows 8 on ARM details. We got them.

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | February 9, 2012 - 09:36 PM |
Tagged: WOA, windows, arm

Microsoft has been ridiculously cagey about the discussion of Windows 8 on ARM. At last month’s CES trade show there was a disturbingly low amount of information. Available information about Windows on ARM was in abrupt demonstrations performed by Microsoft spokespeople or behind glass display cases.

Today Steven Sinofsky of Microsoft released quite a bit of information -- over 8500 words even if you exclude image captions and section titles -- about Windows on ARM (officially named “WOA”). Feel free to read for yourself at MSDN’s blog, or keep on reading for our brief summary.

WinARM.png

Actually most of the blog post is about building Windows 8 on ARM.

We reported that Windows on ARM has been classified as stable for approximately two weeks at this point.  Our questions about WOA availability were answered, and more: WOA is intended to be released simultaneously as Windows 8 for x86-64. WOA will also not be available standalone and you must purchase a device with it pre-installed.

From the chipset through the firmware and drivers, the work is optimized to be great for WOA. Partners are working hard on creative industrial designs and form factors that will include more than tablets. These are all under development today.

[…]

The PC will come with the OS preinstalled, and all drivers and supporting software. WOA will not be available as a software-only distribution, so you never have to worry about which DVD to install and if it will work on a particular PC.

Applications written for Windows on ARM can only be distributed through Windows Update or the Windows Store. Being an advocate of the open PC I find this quite unnerving as it quickly creates situations where art becomes at the mercy of the platform owner similar to what is seen on the consoles. That said, it also seems to suggest that Microsoft is not intending WOA to be fill all the roles of a typical PC.

Win8office.png

Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote will be available for WOA as Office 15. The typical file explorer and desktop will also be available for WOA. Mouse and keyboard support is also available for Windows on ARM. These will all be available within Office so the user can control there their files will be stored.

Windows 8 for x86-64 will be released as an open Beta at the end of the month. Microsoft will also release, by invite only, devices for developers. The intent of course is to give developers time to create applications for WOA. You should not expect those devices to be any more than development tools designed to prevent day-one apps from being developed in a single day.

Source: MSDN Blogs

AVADirect First To Offer X79 Gaming Notebook, The Future of Desktop Replacements

Subject: Systems | February 6, 2012 - 11:25 AM |
Tagged: ava

AVADirect, a leading provider of custom notebooks, is the first to offer Clevo's P270WM mobile gaming notebook.

The future is here, and AVADirect is readily expanding its offerings with hardware to prepare for it. For those who need ultimate performance on the go, AVADirect can feed your need for mobile speed with the Clevo P270WM. Based off of the Intel X79 chipset and Sandy Bridge-E processors, end-users can expect performance increases as much as 35-50 percent while keeping current and ahead of the curve for their much needed productivity, efficiency, and entertainment. Promising new features give the Clevo P270WM a name and reputation that is surely to leave a lasting impression for those who have it at their fingertips. The industry rookie, relative to age rather than experience, has no limits to its depth of functionality.

The P270WM's design shapes the ground we stand on by creating new standards for mobile desktop replacements. The revolutionary X79-fueled P270WM, being the successor of the world renowned Clevo X7200, supports all of the functionality provided by its older brother. Three 9.5 inch hard drives, with optional RAID, two USB 3.0 ports, SLI support, HD LED screen, HDMI 1.4a support, and the recently re-designed express card slot for third-party expansion are still key features of the newly offered Clevo P270WM Gaming Notebook.

P270WM-banner.jpg

The Nvidia GTX 580M 2GB comes standard in the Clevo P270WM and offers SLI support for gaming duality. The GPU offers 384 CUDA cores, or 768 when in SLI. Furthermore, the victor of desktop replacements offers the Quadro 5010M 4GB for the elitist AutoCAD or developing engineer. Combined with the support of Quad-channel DDR3 SODIMM RAM and speeds up to 1866Mhz, creating a configuration suitable for your tasks is as simple as a few clicks on AVADirect's website. The board features a total of four SODIMM slots expandable up to 32GB. The P270WM includes full 3D support, which has never been provided in a desktop replacement until now. End-users will more importantly be interested in the first-ever backlit keyboard integrated in the P270WM notebook. Clevo has not received outstanding remarks in the past for their lack of aesthetically pleasing designs, but a backlit keyboard changes everything enthusiasts have grown to know about Clevo's design.

AVADirect will begin to accept pre-orders for the X79 high-end gaming notebook as of today. The base price starts at around $3000.00 and will feature the Intel core i7 3930K, GTX 580M 2B, 4GB of DDR3 RAM at 1333Mhz, 750GB 7200RPM hard disk, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit.

Customize your own here.

Source: AVADirect

Putting Bulldozer to the proper use; how well does it serve?

Subject: Systems | February 1, 2012 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: amd, interlagos, bulldozer, supermicro, opteron 6200

Over at The Inquirer you can take a look at the performance of the Opteron 6274 as a server chip, as opposed to the desktop benchmarks that have made up the bulk of Bulldozer reviews on the web.  SuperMicro has assembled a server containing a dual-socket Opteron 6274 for a total of 32 cores and 64GB of ECC DDR3-1333 RAM across eight channels running on 64-bit Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.  While the machine was quite powerful it still has difficulty keeping up with Intel, for instance its performance on CineBench was about the same as provided by an X5680 Westmere Xeon which is not Intel's best silicon. On the plus side, the scaling for multithreaded applications was quite good.

Inq_interlinside-580x358.png

"IS BULLDOZER better in a workstation than a desktop? Let's see if it can be.

AMD's Bulldozer chip, while eagerly awaited, didn't really have a stellar debut as a mainstream - or high end, for that matter - desktop processor, still having a way to go before seriously challenging the incumbent Intel. The core, cache and memory performance all need a bit more power, although recent news such as Microsoft Windows' kernel patches do seem to help a little bit towards extracting more oomph from the unusual 'two integer units sharing one floating-point' approach."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

Source: The Inquirer

Raspberry Pi Linux Computer Will Have Fast GPU For The Price

Subject: General Tech, Systems | January 26, 2012 - 11:45 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, htpc, hd, gpu, broadcom

As reported earlier, the Raspberry Pi is a small computer intended to run Linux and is made to be portable and able to be powered by USB. The small board is based on the Broadcom BCM2835 chipset, which includes an ARM 11 CPU and a dual core VideoCore IV graphics card co processor. The Raspberry Pi further includes connections for HDMI, component output, and USB ports. The higher tier $35 model will further feature an Ethernet jack and twice the RAM (512 MB).

Raspberry Pi.jpg

The Raspberry Pi will soon be available for sale and if the company behind the device- The Raspberry Pi Foundation- is to be believed, the GPU in the little Linux computer will pack quite a punch for its size (and cost). In a recent Digital Foundry interview with Raspberry Pi Executive Director Eben Upton reported on by Eurogamer, Upton made several claims about the Raspberry Pi’s graphics capabilities. He explained that the Broadcom BCM2835’s VideoCore IV GPU is a tile mode architecture that has been configured with an emphasis on shader performance. Upton said “it does very well on compute-intensive benchmarks, and should double iPhone 4S performance across a range of content."

The comparison to the iPhone 4S relates to his further claims that the Raspberry Pi GPU is the best on the market and can best both the iPhone 4S’s PowerVR (Imagination Technologies) based graphics and even the mighty Tegra 2 in fill rate performance. Rather large claims for sure; however, we do have some independent indication that his claims may not be wholly inflated. The coders behind XBMC, open source media center software that allows users to play a variety of media formats, have demonstrated their XBMC software running on the Raspberry Pi. They showed the Raspberry Pi playing a 1080p blu ray movie at a smooth frame rate thanks to the Broadcom GPU being capable of 1080p 30 FPS H.264 hardware accelerated decoding. You can see the Raspberry Pi in action in the video below.

The little Raspberry Pi is starting to look quite promising for HTPC (and even light gaming) use, especially for the price!  At $25 and $35 respectively, the Raspberry Pi should see quite the following in the modding, enthusiast, and education community.

Source: Eurogamer

SilverStone's tiny HTPC enclosure can hide full sized components

Subject: Systems | January 24, 2012 - 04:03 PM |
Tagged: htpc, Silverstone, SST-GD06B

Some HTPC builders envision their machine handling more than just media streaming; why not play WoW or KOTOR on your TV?  This can lead to some frustration if they chose an HTPC case that aesthetically fits their living room but cannot physically fit the components they need to drive the machine.  SilverStone has met their desire with the SST-GD06B, which resembles a stereo component yet at 17.3" (W) x 5.9" (H) x 13.4" (D) it is big enough to give you a lot more choice in the components you can utilize.  For instance it will take an ATX PSU of up to 5.9" in length, five internal drives and a CPU cooler of up to 120mm if you leave out the optical drive.  You can have up to 5 expansion cards in the case, with four of those slots able to accept a card up to 11" in length.  The only real fault that Benchmark Reviews found was the lack of IR support and a bundled remote control.

BMR_SST-GD06B_Angle.JPG

"With these smaller cases, space is always an issue. This is becoming increasingly critical as high definition content becomes ubiquitous. Not only do we want to view our new content in more pixels than our brain can even process, but we want to upscale the old content, or view it in 3D, and do it upside down, right side up and inside out. While you're at it give me dish, cable, recording, streaming, email, gaming and the kitchen sink. Oh...and it needs to fit in a single box on my entertainment system. Well, SilverStone is at least trying to provide the box, the rest is up to you. They've expanded on past models to fit even more powerful toys inside your HTPC. Read on to see how model SST-GD06B crams the performance you demand and puts it on your shelf."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

Alienware X51 Desktop -- Console Sized PC, $700 and up.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems | January 18, 2012 - 07:25 PM |
Tagged: GTX 555, GT 545, dell, alienware

Alienware has been long known for two things: having interesting case designs, and being prohibitively expensive. For the last five years or so, Alienware has been a subsidiary of Dell to displace their gaming XPS product line into a non-gaming higher-end line. They have recently announced their X51 product line as Jeremy noted earlier, but what does that mean for someone interested in PC Gaming?

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Like how it looks? Dude, you’re getting a Dell!

Jeremy’s post went through the range of base models and their associated prices. The main product page listed the features of the higher-end base unit along with two other points: the chassis can be vertically or horizontally mounted; and you can upgrade your core components easily. While the latter statement is great to make, it should also be noted that with a maximum 330W power supply, your upgrade options -- while potentially easy -- are quite limited.

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The choice in video cards is split between the GeForce GT 545 and the GeForce GTX 555: these are both OEM-only GPUs and thus benchmarks are at this time difficult to find. The GT 545 contains 144 CUDA cores clocked at 870/1740 MHz with the memory clocked at 1998 MHz. Should you opt for the higher-end GTX 555, your GPU contains exactly twice the CUDA cores (288) clocked slightly slower at 776/1553 MHz and a slightly lower memory clock of 1914 MHz.

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Dude, you regretting a Dell?

In terms of Alienware-specific perks, Alienware has developed the “Alienware Command Center”; this application allows you to customize the lighting on your chassis as well as control programs and tweak your system. While a nice value-addition, it is obviously more gimmicky than practical; but really, isn’t that a large portion of why you are purchasing an Alienware computer? At least they look to be decent gimmicks. The price also does not appear to be too high compared to what you are getting from what I can tell. You would obviously be in a better position to assemble a desktop yourself and probably even commission your local small business computer store to do it for you, but the Alienware’s price does not appear to be in a distant galaxy.

So what do you think?

Source: Alienware

Introducing the Alienware X51 - Let Your Hero Out

Subject: Systems | January 18, 2012 - 12:35 PM |
Tagged: X51, dell, alienware

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(edit: the models were corrected)

The base model is $700 and features:

  • 2nd Gen Intel Core i3-2120 3MB 3.3GHz, 4GB DDR 1333Mhz Dual Channel memory
  • 1GB GDDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GT 545 video card with 280W PSU
  • Slot-loading Dual Layer DVD Burner
  • Integrated Wireless LAN card (standard)

The high end model is priced at $1149 and features:

  • 2nd Gen Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB 1333Mhz Dual Channel memory
  • 1GB GDDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 555 video card with 330W PSU
  • Slot-loading Dual Layer DVD burner
  • Integrated Wireless LAN card (standard)

You can go bigger than that with the X51 so if you are looking to buy a boutique PC check out Alienware's X51.

Also, check out Scott's complimentary article to this one.

Source: Alienware

A passively cooled pre-built HTPC from Arctic

Subject: Systems | January 13, 2012 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: htpc, passive cooling, arctic, MC001-BD

Arctic (not Cooling) is a company which currently offers five different Atom powered HTPCs, one of which Overclockers Online got their hands on. The MC001-BD has a 1.6Ghz Atom D525, an HD5430 GPU, 4GB DDR3, 500GB HDD and a 4x Blu-Ray drive; what it does not have is a TV Tuner which will cost you an extra $30 to include.  It is also not running Windows MCE, instead you get a full installation of Windows 7 Home Premium.  Although this machine will suffer if you attempt to run general productivity software it is powerful enough for perfect HD media playback and the strictly passive cooling will allow you to unobtrusively place this machine with the rest of your A/V equipment.

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"There haven’t been very many products in the market that has truly fired me up and got me as excited as the MC001-BD. Many companies have tried to make HTPC that are compact and quiet but I usually find that I can do better for less. The MC001-BD is probably the first where I wouldn’t be able to do that. With over ten years experience in system cooling they were able to engineer an Entertainment Center that was both compact and passively cooled."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

HTPC

 

AMD Countering Ultrabooks With Ultrathin Notebooks

Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 12, 2012 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: CES, ultrathin, trinity, piledriver, PC, notebook, low power, amd, 17 watt

Intel is the driving force behind the Ultrabook platform, a category of thin and light notebooks that are ideally less than $1,000 USD and deliver solid mobile performance and battery life. AMD is still playing catch up in CPU performance; however, they have been moderately successful with their Llano APU parts due to the better integrated GPU versus Intel's graphics processor. With Trinity, the successor to Llano, AMD is claiming up to 25% faster CPU performance and a 50% increase in graphics processor performance, and all while sipping half the power of current Llano chips.

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The 17 watt TDP Trinity die.

It seems that AMD has seen the Ultrabook boom that Intel is experiencing and wants a piece of the action. Thanks to the Trinity performance improvements and power sipping TDPs, AMD is confident that it can design and market thin and light notebooks of their own. They plan to market their notebooks as "Ultrathins." Exact hardware specifications of the Ultrathins are not known. We do know that they will be powered by dual and quad core 17 watt TDP versions of the AMD Trinity APU, which you can read more about here. The company is planning for its Ultrathins to start at $500 USD, a few hundred less than the lowest cost Ultrabooks from Intel. Beyond that, we can only speculate. Fortunately, we may not have to wait long for more information as AMD plans to reveal more information about their Ultrathin strategy next month at their financial analyst meeting, according to Ars.

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A Trinity powered laptop at CES

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Ars Technica

Fancy a tiny Cortex A9 and Tegra 2 system? CompuLabs Trim-Slice isn't a bad choice.

Subject: Systems | January 9, 2012 - 04:03 PM |
Tagged: arm, cortex-a9, Tegra 2, compulab, thin-slice, nettop

If you need only moderate processing power and need a small footprint then CompuLab might just have the system for you.  Their Trim-Slice nettop is powered by NVIDIA's Tegra 2 a 1GHZ dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 and 1GB of DDR2 RAM, with a SATA HDD.  It has four USB 2.0 ports, WiFi and a wired NIC, two HDMI ports and a S/PDIF in port, which ought to handle what you need from this system.  It comes with Ubuntu 11.04 for ARMv7, which Phoronix points out is obsolete and recommends updating to a newer version.   The system is comparable to Atom based machines in performance and in price, a basic 1GB system is $213USD while the model Phoronix reviewed would cost you about $100 more.  Read on to see how it did in the benchmarks.

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"The Trim-Slice from CompuLab is a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 nettop based on the NVIDIA Tegra 2 platform. In this article are our first Ubuntu benchmarks of this low power, fan-less desktop with comparative figures to Intel's older platforms and the OMAP4660-based dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 PandaBoard ES."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

Source: Phoronix

ZOTAC announces a Trio of New ZBOX mini-PCs

Subject: Systems, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2012 - 12:29 PM |
Tagged: zotac, z-box, zbox id80, zbox id81, zbox ad04

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 ZOTAC is pleased to kick off CES with a trio of new ZBOX mini-PCs powered by Intel Celeron 857, Intel Atom D2700 and AMD E-450 processors and APUs in the ZBOX ID81, ID80 and AD04 series.

ZOTAC ZBOX ID81 series

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  • Intel Celeron Processor 857 (1.2 GHz, dual-core) (SandyBridge)
  • Intel HD Graphics HDMI & DVI outputs
  • 2 x DDR3-1333 SO-DIMM slots (up to 16GB)
  • Support 1 x 2.5-inch SATA HDD/SSD (SATA 6.0 Gb/s)

ZBOX ID81 Plus

  • 2GB DDR3 320GB
  • 5400RPM HDD

ZOTAC ZBOX ID80 series

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  • Intel Atom D2700 (2.13 GHz, dual-core) (CedarTrail)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M HDMI & DVI outputs
  • 2 x DDR3-1066 SO-DIMM slots (up to 4GB)
  • Support 1 x 2.5-inch SATA HDD/SSD (SATA 3.0 Gb/s)

ZBOX ID80 Plus

  • 2GB DDR3 320GB
  • 5400RPM HDD

ZOTAC ZBOX AD04 series

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  • AMD E-450 APU platform (1.65 GHz, dual-core)
  • AMD Radeon HD 6320 GPU w/ TurboCore technology
  • HDMI & DisplayPort outputs
  • 2 x DDR3-1333 SO-DIMM slots (up to 8GB)
  • Support 1 x 2.5-inch SATA HDD/SSD (SATA 6.0 Gb/s)

ZBOX AD04 Plus

  • 2GB DDR3 320GB
  • 5400RPM HDD
  • 2 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports
  • 4 x High-Speed USB 2.0 ports (2 on back panel, 1 on front, 1 on top)
  • Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n WiFi & Bluetooth 3.0 technologies
  • Bundled MCE-compatible remote w/ USB IR receiver
  • Bundled VESA75/100 mount

 

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Zotac

New Lenovo IdeaPad and IdeaCentre Products Hit CES

Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 8, 2012 - 08:59 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, Ideapad, ideacentre, CES

As reported earlier, Lenovo has announced a number of new ThinkPad products for the upcoming year. But that is only a drop in the bucket compared to the tsunami of IdeaPad and IdeaCenter consumer PCs on the way from the company.

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Let’s start with the most premium, the Lenovo U series. It will be updated by the U310 and U410 models with Intel Core processors and optional SSD storage. The larger U410 will include GeForce 610M discrete graphics, as well. The smaller U310 weighs just 3.74 pounds and measures .7 inches thick, while the U410 is a slightly chunkier 4.18 pounds and .83 inches thick. Price start at a surprisingly low $699.

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On the opposite side of pricing we have the new S200 and S206, two netbooks – er, I mean, “mini-laptops.”  They feature the now popular 11.6” display size, are only .81 inches thick and weight 2.8 pounds. You’ll have your pick of Intel Atom or AMD Fusion processors, as well as your pick of color options like Cotton-Candy Pink, Crimson Red, and Electric Blue. You’ll have to shell out only $349 to grab a basic model.

Also updated is the vastness of Lenovo’s mainstream laptop offerings. The Z580/480/380 has been re-designed to accommodate newer hardware, such as optional GT640M graphics. The Y480/Y580 also have been updated to include support for new optional GTX 660M graphics and luxury features like a backlit keyboard (on the Y580). Last – and most certainly least – Lenovo is expanding the G series to include the G480/580/780. These are “essential” laptops, which means “budget” in Lenovo’s vocabulary.  The Z series starts at $599, the Y series at $899, and the G series at $399.

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If you’re interested in All-in-One computers, Lenovo has plenty that may be of interest you this CES. The company has unveiled updates to its high-performance AIOs in the form of the B540 and B340, which have 23” and 21.5” touchscreens respectively. Both of these have built-in TV tuners and now, unlike with previous models, it’s possible to watch TV through these systems without turning on the PC itself. Both have Intel processors, full HD displays, and the B540 will feature optional GT 650M graphics. These high-end AIOs start at $699.

Lower on the totem pole we have the traditional desktop PCs. Lenovo is offering two new options in this aging market. One is the performance-oriented K430 (starting at $599), which includes Intel processors and can be upgraded with Nvidia SLI or ATI CrossFireX dual-graphics solutions for hardcore gamers. The other is the Lenovo H520s, a simple slim system designed for the average home user that is remarkable only because of its low price of $499.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Lenovo