Subject: General Tech, Mobile | August 5, 2011 - 06:00 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ultrabook.asus, Intel
Digitimes reported today that Intel will be meeting with its Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) partners in Taipei next week to discuss the Bill of Materials (BOM) that outlines the components to be used in Intel's Ultrabook notebook class. The goal of the meeting will be to tweak the Bill of Materials such that the initial selling price will be below $1,000 USD.
Intel has further broken up the Ultrabook category into two thickness classes of 18mm and 21mm. The 18mm reference designs, of which Intel has rendered five, have thus far omitted any optical drives. An example of the 18mm design can be seen in the upcoming Asus UX21 and UX31 ultrabooks. The proposed Bill of Materials for the 18mm ultrabooks is between $493 and $710 USD while the 21mm ultrabooks BOM is between $475 and $650 USD.
Beyond the Bill of Materials, the site notes that Intel is further planning to release next generation ultrabooks based on 22nm Ivy Bridge processors in 2012 and 22nm Haswell CPUs in 2013. These ultrabooks will come in sizes ranging from 11" to 17." The 11" to 13" models will have a thickness of 18mm while the 14" to 17" models will be of the 21mm variety.
Apple Insider notes that the push from Intel to keep the cost of materials and initial selling price for its ultrabooks below $1,000 may be due to the $999 entry level Macbook selling so well and Intel's desire to provide a competitive product that can match the thin-ness of the Mac notebooks and is priced to sell. Do you think Intel's ultrabooks will catch on with consumers, or will it be another niche and/or gimmick product?
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | August 5, 2011 - 07:44 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: steam, quakecon
A lot of news is blowing up about the exciting conference happening right now called Quakercon. For those of us not lucky enough to bask in the PepsiCo subsidiary that popularized Amish oatmeal delight there is another, smaller conference going on right now called “Quakecon”. Frankly, I think they’re ripping off our wonderful breakfast food company. Still, if you cannot check out Quakercon treating us to tonnes of steamed meals – why not check out Quakecon treating us to tonnes of Steam deals!
Yes I realize there is no such thing as Quakercon… … yet.
In the event that you are following Quakecon and for some reason do not own many iD or Bethesda games, there is a bundle that will roll you pretty much entirely up to date for just shy of $70. The Quakecon Pack 2011 contains the following:
- Quake III Arena
- Quake IV
- Wolfenstein 3D
- The Ultimate Doom
- Final DOOM
- DOOM II
- QUAKE II
- QUAKE II Mission Pack: The Reckoning
- QUAKE II Mission Pack: Ground Zero
- QUAKE III: Team Arena
- HeXen: Beyond Heretic
- HeXen: Deathkings of the Dark Citadel
- Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders
- Spear of Destiny
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein
- QUAKE Mission Pack 2: Dissolution of Eternity
- QUAKE Mission Pack 1: Scourge of Armagon
- DOOM 3
- HeXen II
- DOOM 3 Resurrection of Evil
- Master Levels for Doom II
- Commander Keen
- Rogue Warrior
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind® Game of the Year Edition
- Call of Cthulhu®: Dark Corners of the Earth
- Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition
- Fallout: New Vegas
- Hunted: The Demon’s Forge™
- Fallout New Vegas: Dead Money
- Fallout New Vegas: Honest Hearts
- Fallout New Vegas: Old World Blues
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion® Game of the Year Edition Deluxe
Subject: General Tech | August 4, 2011 - 06:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: fab 8
It has been a while since Al's successful break in at the Intel/Micron fab, which means that PCPer readers haven't had an inside look at a fab in a while. [H]ard|OCP has not only seen the ground where GLOBALFOUNDRIES will soon have a Fab 8, they just had a look at GLOBALFOUNDRIES' ITDC. Fab 8 is intended to be almost fully robotic, with not a single human hand, bunny suited or not, touching a wafer until it is complete. In order to make sure that the processes are implemented properly, the ITDC is intended to test the new wafer handling, management, delivery, and tracking systems; all before Fab 8 is fully constructed. You can catch the HD version of their video tour on YouTube.
"You ever heard the numbers thrown around about how many wafers will be produced by a fab? GlobalFoundries is telling us Fab 8 will build processors using up to 60,000 wafers a month when it is under full production. Have you ever wondered how all those wafers get to where they need to be? We show you how that happens."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft offers $200,000 to fix Windows' memory vulnerabilities @ The Inquirer
- The history of computer storage (slideshow) @ ExtremeTech
- DOS, Backdoor, and Easter Egg Found In Siemens S7 @ Slashdot
- Technology way out in the wild @ The Tech Report
- Twitter-control botnet mines Bitcoins @ The Register
- Skype decides to use VP8 for its video calling @ The Inquirer
- AMD Llano processor shipments reach 1.3-1.5 million units in July @ DigiTimes
- TP-LINK TL-WR1043ND Wireless N Gigabit Router Review @ ThinkComputers
- Nikon Coolpix P300 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Fujifilm Finepix T190/T200 Camera Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Win Steelseries 5h v2 MOH and Siberia v2 iPod @ XSReviews
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 4, 2011 - 06:14 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: peddie, market share, gpu
TIBURON, CA-August 4, 2011—Jon Peddie Research (JPR), the industry's research and consulting firm for graphics and multimedia, announced estimated graphics chip shipments and suppliers’ market share for Q2’11.
Shipments during the second quarter of 2011 did not behave according to past years with regard to seasonality, and was higher on a year-to-year comparison for the quarter. 2011 is shaping up to be an anomalous year as businesses take their own path to recovery.
Normally, the second quarter of the year is a slower business quarter in the graphics industry (and in the PC industry as a whole). This year, Q2’11 did not conform to the normal seasonal cycle. Instead, sales were up significantly compared to previous years. The growth in Q2 comes as a welcome change, if not a bit worrying—is it inventory building for back to school and the holiday season, or channel stuffing?
Our forecast for the coming years has been modified since the last report, and is less aggressive on both desktops and notebooks—tablets have changed the nature of the PC market. Our findings include Desktops, Notebooks (and Netbooks), and PC-based commercial (i.e., POS) and industrial/scientific and embedded; and do not include handhelds (i.e., mobile phones), x86 Servers or ARM-based Tablets (i.e. iPad and Android-based Tablets), Smartbooks, or Servers.
The quarter in general
- In Q2’11, Intel celebrated its sixth quarter of Embedded Processor Graphics CPU (EPG, a multi-chip design that combined a graphics processor and CPU in the same package) shipments, and enjoyed a 21% average growth in Desktops and Notebooks.
- AMD and Nvidia lost in overall market share, while Intel grew compared to last quarter.
- Year to year this quarter Intel had tremendous market share growth (14.7%), AMD had a loss of 14.2%, and Nvidia slipped 18.4% in the overall market partially due to the company withdrawing from the integrated segments.
- The Q2’11 change in total shipments from last quarter increased 6.3%, significantly above the ten-year average of 3.5%, and raising concerns about an inventory buildup.
- Netbooks contributed to notebook growth a bit,however, iPads and Android tablets have probably cannibalized some netbook sales.
- Over 84 million PCs shipped worldwide in Q2’11, an increase of 2.4% compared to Q1’11, (based on an average of reports from Dataquest, IDC, and HSI) causing speculation that the 6.3% up-swing in graphics could be an inventory buildup and have a negative impact on Q3 or Q4.
- AMD’s HPU quarter-to-quarter growth has been extraordinary at an average of 80% for desktop and notebook, and Intel’s EPG growth was significant at an average of 41%. This is a clear showing of the industry’s affirmation of the value of CPUs with embedded graphics and is in line with our forecasts. The major, and logical, impact is on older IGPs, and some on low-end add-in boards (AIBS).
Graphics chips (GPUs) and chips with graphics (IGPs, HPUs, and EPGs) are a leading indicator for the PC market. At least one and often two GPUs are present in every PC shipped. It can take the form of a discrete chip, a GPU integrated in the chipset, or embedded in the CPU. The average has grown from 115% in 2001 to almost 160% GPUs per PC.
Since the crash of 2009, combined with the introduction and influence of ARM-based Tablets, the PC market has deviated from historical trends. Until the segment for Tablets is clearly defined the fluctuations in the market data is likely to continue. The disruptions probably won’t settle down for a while as Tablets find their place in the market and agreement can be reached on to include them in the PC market analysis, or to not include them.
Market shares shifted for the big three, and put pressure on the smaller three, and they showed a decrease in shipments as indicated in Table 1 (units are in millions.)
Intel continues to be the overall market share leader in Q2’11, elevated by Core i5 EPG CPUs, Sandy Bridge, and Pineview Atom sales for Netbooks. AMD gained market share quarter-to quarter and Nvidia lost share. Nvidia is exiting the integrated graphics segments and shifting focus to discrete GPUs. The company showed significant discrete market share gain (30% qtr-qtr) due to they say strong connect with new Intel Sandybridge notebooks. Ironically Nvidia enjoyed some serendipitous sales of IGPs in Q2. AMD share dropped 7.3 points.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 4, 2011 - 01:24 AM | Scott Michaud
Just recently we looked at a Tom’s Hardware review of CPU architecture since about 2005. While the performance of the CPU itself was not covered in the review, that was entirely not the purpose of the article; the problem investigated was whether there was a lot of innovation with the architectures themselves or whether companies were just ramping up the clock rate and adding more cores to get their performance. Implied in the article’s findings was the extent to which Intel was relying on a higher clock rate to even be comparable to AMD at the time, and even if they were being comparable is debatable. At some point AMD decided to change their tactics and stop ranking their processors by clock rate due to the huge disparity between Intel’s performance and their own at any given clock. This drew some flak in the forums but ended up sticking as even Intel dropped the Gigahertz moniker.
I owned a Core 2 Duo E6600 MHz! It’s so fast they needed to count in hex!
Scott, not me but another Scott, accused AMD back in 2001 of confusing users about the actual clock rate of their products. That post was crushed by video gaming’s most popular astrophysicist: yes, exactly. That didn’t stop the debate about whether that is an ethical thing to do, whether Intel’s ethics are any better, or whether they’re hypocrites. Regardless, the soapbox was eventually put away and everyone went back to their lives.
Subject: General Tech | August 3, 2011 - 06:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: steam, gaming
Could it be? Is there an actual explanation as to why every single Steam game you ever bought just has to install DirectX, even though you just installed it for that last game you bought and the one before that and the one before ...
Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has the explanation as to what is going on, though it is up to you to decide if it is reasonable or not. Gone are the days of one DX fits all games, instead each of the currently used versions of DX, as in DX9, DX10 and DX11 depending on your software and hardware have many sub-versions. In DX9's case, there are over 40 versions of a D3D helper library called D3DX and that number grows in DX10 and DX11 and that is before you toss in 32bit versus 64bit OS versions.
Doesn't it make you happier to know the reason why you are stuck watching that stupid progress bar slowly grow instead of being able to play the game you just bought?
"Oh God, not again – can’t I just play the damned thing? WHY? [Stomp, stomp, stomp."] This is a sound surely as familiar to the residents of the Brunswick area of Brighton as are the constant squawks of seagulls fighting over the contents of their recycling boxes. This is a sound I make, or at least variations upon it, every single time I first run a game I have downloaded via Steam. This time, I always think. This time it won’t ask me to install DirectX again first. Surely the 1023rd time’s the charm. That dream will likely never come to pass. However, at least we now know why – Valve have explained this particularly modern annoyance."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Hard Reset: PC exclusive, single-player only, new engine, OMG @ Ars Technica
- Preview of id Software's Rage @ Slashdot
- Diablo 3 will let you buy and sell items for real-world cash @ Ars Technica
- Preorder Battlefield 3 with Origin, get early beta access @ Ars Technica
- Limbo @ HEXUS
- Borderlands 2 Is Really Real, Due 2012 @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Titanic Quest: Crate Speak About Grim Dawn @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Dead Island - PC, Xbox 360, PS3 @ HEXUS
- Call of Juarez: The Cartel PlayStation 3 @ Tweaktown
Subject: General Tech | August 3, 2011 - 06:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ultrabook, Intel
Look at that UX21 there, isn't it gorgeous? Only 1.1kg of brushed aluminium, fully kitted out with a new style lithium battery, is only 1.7cm thick and it has ASUS' Instant On technology which will boot you to desktop in 5 seconds. It was shown off as the shining example of what Intel's Ultrabook could be at this years CES and everyone who saw it loved it. It seemed that Intel was going to go straight to the core of Apple's ultra light market, not that their processors aren't already in Apple's MacBooks but it is nice to keep the PC partners happy as well.
DigiTimes has heard from a few manufacturers and are ready to add a large lead weight to the Ultrabook, the same weight that dragged down the CULV; namely price. When competing with Apple, the number one thing you need to do is beat them on price. You might be able to match their quality of design, or match them on the size of the notebook or even on the weight but the problem is that Apple was there first. Consumers know Apple's ultramobile platforms and have been using them for years, so if a newcomer tries stealing market share from Apple the only thing they cannot match is Apple's prices. The manufacturers that DigiTimes talked to placed the cost of the components they need to include to meet Intel's specfications are ~$1000, which is the market price of a lower end MacBook Air. Since businesses tend to like to make a bit of profit, as does everyone else in the supply chain, the cost of even a low end Ultrabook will be higher than an equivalent MacBook. Unless Intel is willing to drop prices, the Ultrabook will likely do even worse than the CULV, since at least the CULV had a mobile power user niche to crawl into and hide.
"While Intel is positioning ultrabook as a set of specifications to enable partners to design notebooks imitating MacBook Air, ultrabooks may encounter the same frustrations as CULV notebooks did if prices are not lower than those of the Air, according to sources from Taiwan-based supply chain makers.
The sources pointed out that Intel's ultrabook concept is not a brand new innovation, but a design to allow first-tier notebook players to quickly catch up with Apple's advances in the ultra-thin segment and help the notebook industry recover from the impact of tablet PCs.
Intel has been hosting conferences with the upstream notebook supply chain about its ultrabook since the second quarter and is providing suggestions and assistance in designing related components and methods for reducing costs. Ultrabooks will feature a similar design as MacBook Air and adopt li-polymer batteries, which will completely remove the device's capability of exchanging the battery, to significantly reduce weight, while the machine will adopt metal chassis for heat dissipation and a solid state drive (SSD).
In addition, all the components will be soldered on to the machine's PCB to save space and reduce weight, but the new methods will completely change the existing notebook production process of combining several modules together.
The sources pointed out that the new MacBook Airs are priced at about US$999-1,599 with rather strong demand in the US; however, designing an ultrabook based on Intel's technical suggestions will still be unable to reduce the machine's price level to lower than the MacBook Air's unless Intel is willing to reduce its prices, which already account for one-third of the total cost. If Intel does reduce its prices there is a chance for vendors to provide pricing below US$1,000."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Apple II+ retrocomputing with an FPGA @ ExtremeTech
- IE users are stupid report was faked @ The Inquirer
- Zero day bug threatens many WordPress sites @ The Register
- Google Patches 30 Chrome Bugs, Adds Instant Pages @ Slashdot
- Elpida starts producing 25nm DRAM chips @ The Inquirer
- IBM To Unveil Secure Open Wireless At Black Hat @ Slashdot
- Intel Sandy Bridge Speeds Up On Linux 3.1 Kernel @ Phoronix
- Compro IP70 Network camera @ Bjorn3D
- Real World Labs And Antec Joint Contest
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | August 3, 2011 - 05:21 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SoC, qualcomm, PC, mobile, gaming, console
Mobile gaming has seen a relatively sharp rise in popularity in recent years thanks to the rise of powerful smartphones and personal media players like the iPod Touch and its accompanying App Store. Mobile networks, powerful System On A Chips (SoC) that are capable of 3D graphics, lighting, and physics, and a large catalog of easy to download and play games have created an environment where people actually want to play games on their mobile devices. Many people now indulge themselves in quick Angry Birds sessions while in long lines, on work breaks, or wherever they have time when out and about.
One area where mobile devices have not caught on; however, is at home. Mobile devices face stiff competition from game consoles and the PC. That competition has not stopped numerous manufacturers from trying to implement an all-in-one mobile console that was portable and easy to plug into a larger display when at home. Everything from cheap controllers with logic inside that allows them to play old arcade games to smart phones with HDMI outputs costing hundreds of dollars have passed through the hands of consumers; however, the mobile console has yet to overcome the sheer mind share of consumers who prefer dedicated game consoles and their PCs.
According to Anandtech, Qualcomm, a popular manufacturer of ARM SoC for smart phones has announced its plans to pursue that vision of an integrated, mobile console. They claim that the increased power provided by next generation SoC technology will allow tablets and smartphones to deliver graphics that are better than those of current dedicated game consoles like the PS3 and Xbox 360. Due to Sony and Microsoft wanting to extend the lives of consoles well into the future, mobile technology may well surpass it. The company "is committed to delivering both the hardware and the software support needed to bring developers to these mobile platforms," according to Anandtech.
Qualcomm wants to bring portable consoles to the masses powered by their SoCs and backed by their software. The tablets and smartphones would be able to connect to displays using HDMI or wireless technology in addition to supporting controllers (or acting as a controller itself). Further, the games library will be the culmination of software from all platforms and will rival the graphical prowess of the current consoles. Qualcomm hopes that a large library and capable hardware will be enough to entice consumers to the idea of a portable console becoming their all-in-one gaming device.
Portable consoles are similar to tablets and 3D television in that there is a major push for it every few years, a few devices come out, and then it dies off to be reborn again a few years later. Whether Qualcomm is able to pull off the plans for a portable console remains to be seen; however, the device is bound to catch on at some point. At the very least, this is certainly not the last time we will hear about the portable console. You can see more of Qualcomms plans here.
What do you believe is holding back the portable console from catching on with consumers? Is it a good idea in the first place?
As Superman fans well know, Kal-El is faster than a speeding bullet, and NVIDIA’s new Tegra 3 Kal-El chip is no different. We reported on a demonstration of the Kal-El chip running games with dynamic lighting and realistic cloth physics earlier this year, and it is certainly an impressive mobile chip.
Speaking of “impressive,” Asus’ chairman Jonney Shih was quoted by Forbes recently in stating that the upcoming Transformer 2 device would be “impressive.” While Shih was not able to share any details about the device in question, he did mention that Asus will be unveiling new tablets before the end of this year. With the NVIDIA Kal-El chip set to launch this month, the timing is certainly favorable for a quad core Transformer 2.
The Transformer 1, will the second iteration have even more oomph?
Of all the Android tablets, the Transformer has been one of the most well recieved; therefore, it seems likely that Asus would pursue another iteration of the device. Whether that device will be powered by the Tegra 3 chip is still uncertain, however. Do you think the rumor of a quad core Transformer is likely, or is this something that is "too good to be true?"
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors | August 3, 2011 - 06:11 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Netburst, architecture
It is common knowledge that computing power consistently improves throughout time as dies shrink to smaller processes, clock rates increase, and the processor can do more and more things in parallel. One thing that people might not consider: how fast is the actual architecture itself? Think of the problem of computing in terms of a factory. You can increase the speed of the conveyor belt and you can add more assembly lines, but just how fast are the workers? There are many ways to increase the efficiency of a CPU: from tweaking the most common or adding new instruction sets to allow the task itself to be simplified; to playing with the pipeline size for proper balance between constantly loading the CPU with upcoming instructions and needing to dump and reload the pipe when you go the wrong way down an IF/ELSE statement. Tom’s Hardware wondered this and tested a variety of processors since 2005 with their settings modified such that they could only use one core and only be clocked at 3 GHz. Can you guess which architecture failed the most miserably?
Pfft, who says you ONLY need a calculator?
(Image from Intel)
Netburst architecture was designed to get very large clock rates at the expensive of heat -- and performance. At the time, the race between Intel and its competitors was clock rate: the higher the clock the better it was for marketers despite a 1.3 GHz Athlon wrecking a 3.2 GHz Celeron in actual performance. If you are in the mood for a little chuckle, this marketing strategy was all destroyed when AMD decided to name their processors “Athlon XP 3200+” and so forth rather than by their actual clock rate. One of the major reasons that Netburst was so terrible was branch prediction. Branch prediction is a strategy you can use to speed up a processor: when you reach a conditional jump from one chunk of code to another, such as “if this is true do that, otherwise do this”, you do not know for sure what will come next. Pipelining is a method of loading multiple commands into a processor to keep it constantly working. Branch prediction says: “I think I’ll go down this branch” and loads the pipeline assuming that is true; if you are wrong, you need to dump the pipeline and correct your mistake. One way that Pentium Netburst kept high clock rates was by having a ridiculously huge pipeline, 2-4x larger than the first generation of Core 2 parts which replaced it; unfortunately the Pentium 4 branch prediction was terrible keeping the processor stuck needing to dump its pipeline perpetually.
The sum of all tests... at least time-based ones.
(Image from Tom's Hardware)
Now that we excavated Intel’s skeletons to air them out it is time to bury them again and look at the more recent results. On the AMD side of things, it looks as though there has not been too much innovation on the efficiency side of things only now getting within range of the architecture efficiency that Intel had back in 2007 with their first introduction of Core 2. Obviously efficiency per core per clock means little in the real world as it tells you neither about raw performance of a part nor how power efficient it is. Still, it is interesting to see how big of a leap Intel made away from their turkey of an architecture theory known as Netburst and model the future around the Pentium 3 and Pentium M architectures. Lastly, despite the lead, it is interesting to note exactly how much work went into the Sandy Bridge architecture. Intel, despite an already large lead and focus outside of the x86 mindset, still tightened up their x86 architecture by a very visible margin. It might not be as dramatic as their abandonment of Pentium 4, but is still laudable in its own right.