The performance growth of AMD GPUs on Linux

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2011 - 12:51 PM |
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Phoronix set out to benchmark the changes to Ubuntu and the Linux kernel as it relates to graphical performance using AMD GPUs, specifically the ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 128MB.  The review tracks the changes from Ubuntu 9.4 to 11.4 and the 2.6.28 to 2.6.38 kernels as well as a variety of graphics drivers, both MESA and Gallium 3D.    Check out what they found in the full article.

"The open-source ATI/AMD Radeon Linux driver stack has made a lot of improvements in recent times with their Gallium3D drivers becoming mature across all generations and support for new features (such as DRI2 page-flipping) landing in the mainline code and beginning to make its way to users. The time required to bring up support for new generations has also been reduced greatly and with the Radeon HD 8000 series there should be a turning point for their open-source strategy. In this article, we are providing an updated look at the course of the open-source driver's performance for the past two years."

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Source: Phoronix

Travel back in time 52 years on this date and you can prevent COBOL

Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2011 - 06:24 PM |
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When PC Perspective Forum members get asked their opinions on powerful machines they tend to aim for the ultimate gaming machine.  That is not always the best choice for people looking at rendering machines and other tasks, as you can see here.  That type of machine belongs on a completely different battlefield and while the players will be familiar the particular needs can be very different and no less interesting than building a gaming machine.  Just ask the Folding Folks and the frogs in the BOINC forums about building servers, the Overclocking Forum is a place to go great info for the gamer; if you do take their advice you should drop by the Cases and Cooling forum as you will need some serious cooling. 

No matter what you use the computer for, an LCD three way is always sexy, just image our faces blown up that large as you watch the latest PC Perspective Podcast.

Roccat Alumic, an anodized aluminium ice rink for your mouse

Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2011 - 01:42 PM |
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While there is something to be said for the style of a leather mouse pad, but with use the edges will begin to curl up and the relatively light weight means that the pad can move around the desk on occasion.  So how about a double sided, 331x272mm aluminium mouse rink with four non-slip rubber feet, one at each corner. It won't be sliding on your desk thanks to the weight and Hardware Heaven felt it was large enough that you don't need to worry about falling off.

"Every good mouse needs a good surface to achieve optimal performance and todays review product is Roccats attempt at creating an ideal companion for high performance mice. So lets take a look at what the Roccat Alumic has to offer..."

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Lucid's Virtu gets validated

Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2011 - 12:04 PM |
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We have been talking about Lucid for quite a while, first with the bridge chip that allowed mixed vendor multi-GPU SLIFire/CrosSLI setups to work and more recently about their Virtu software that would allow a PC with SandyBridge and a discreet GPU to switch between the two on the fly depending on which was best suited for the task.  Today they received some very good news, as their virtualization software has completed the validation process and has been deemed perfectly compatible with the Radeon HD6000 family.  Check The Inquirer for more.

 

"SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Lucid has announced that its Virtu GPU virtualisation software has been validated to run on Intel's Sandy Bridge chips and AMD's Radeon HD6000 series GPUs."

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Source: The Inquirer

MSI's 890FXA-GD65, a study in the proper way to make a budget board

Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2011 - 05:32 PM |
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Many companies that aim to hit the sub-$150 market take a hacksaw to an existing board layout and pare off enough expensive components to keep the price down.  MSI took a different approach with the 890FXA-GD70, designing the board from scratch with the trimmed down features while still keeping important ones such as their Military Class components.  What they ended up with was not only a board Josh liked, it was one he could even afford to buy for himself!

"MSI has created a fine board. It certainly appears to have had a real teething process, but now the BIOS support has caught up and we are seeing a very fast and mature product on the marketplace. The current price makes this one of the more exciting AM3 motherboard out there, especially for the budget enthusiast. MSI has scored nicely with the 890FXA-GD65."

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Good news for Linux cheats, Gnome 3 is here

Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2011 - 12:10 PM |
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If you tend to use Linux through a GUI and only use the command line to supplement your usage and are pretty sure the web was not meant to be viewed in text only with Lynx then a brand new desktop for Linux is good news.  Gnome has hit version 3, with a few new features and some serious streamlining, some good and some strange.  For instance re-sizing windows with your scroll wheel is interesting, removing the minimize and maximize buttons are odd. 

Overall Ars Technica was impressed, liking it more than KDE in some cases.

 

"The developers behind the GNOME project have announced the official release of GNOME 3.0, a significant redesign of the open source desktop environment. The update introduces a new desktop shell that offers a streamlined window management workflow and a more modern look and feel. The new version also represents a major architectural overhaul, with many important enhancements to the GNOME platform's technical underpinnings."

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Source: Ars Technica

... but we didn't have early access to the game; Dragon Age II version

Subject: General Tech | April 6, 2011 - 12:41 PM |
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When [H]ard|OCP first tested out NVIDIA's GPUs on Dragon Age II, they lost handily to the AMD Radeon equivalent irrespective of the price disparity.  NVIDIA has rolled out a beta driver that [H] got hold of to test and see if NVIDIA's claims that they couldn't perfect the performance because they didn't have access to early versions of the game.  While the driver did up performance noticeably; by 30% in some cases and often pushing a hair above the competition it did not help the pricing disparity.  For some though, an extra 6% performance is worth $25.

 

"After the disappointing showing in our Dragon Age 2 Gameplay Performance Review, NVIDIA has responded with a new BETA driver that claims to alleviate the game-crippling performance problems that its customers were experiencing. We evaluate performance improvements and again compare to AMD's."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

10 cores soon behind your server room door, the new Xeons are coming

Subject: General Tech | April 6, 2011 - 11:35 AM |
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Not exciting news to most enthusiasts except when they are at their day jobs, Intel has announced the new Xeon family of processors.  This is a big family with lots of 32nm cousins, the branches being the E7-8800 E7-4800 and the E7-2800.  The most powerful members of the family will be the the 10 10-core E7-8800 series, of which the top three models all top out at 2.4GHz with a TDP of 130 watts.  That series has cousins like the 10-core low-voltage E7-8867L at 2.13GHz with a TDP of 105 watts, or an octo-core E7-8837 that hits 2.67GHz with a TDP of 130 watts.  You will also see Xeon E3-1200 family aimed for low cost server builders but with many advantages over the previous generation.   DigiTimes even has information on the pricing, "The Xeon processor E7-8800/4800/2800 families range in price from US$774 to US$4,616 in quantities of 1,000. The Xeon processor E3-1200 family ranges in price from US$189 to US$612 in quantities of 1,000."

"Based on Intel's leading 32nm process technology, the new Intel Xeon processors have up to 10 cores with Intel Hyper-Threading Technology, and deliver up to 40% greater performance than the Intel Xeon 7500 series processor. Concurrently, a new energy-saving feature reduces the power draw of idle portions of the chip. Beginning today, more than 35 systems based on the Intel Xeon processor E7 family are expected to ship from manufacturers around the world."

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Source: Digitimes

Why would Google buy a defunct Canadian phone system maker?

Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2011 - 11:43 AM |
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It's the patents ...

Nortel was a major player in the telecommunications market, especially in researching new products and standards.  Even if you don't recognize the name you have seen a NorStar Meridian phone in person or on TV, but you don't see too much of them anymore.  After taking a big hit during the dot bomb and another after some accounting malpractices were discovered, Nortel took a dive that it, and many Canadian's pension plans, never recovered from. 

So why is Google offering $900 million for it's decaying corpse?  That particular body owns in the neighbourhood of 6,000 patents and patent applications covering basic parts of wired and wireless data and voice networking, as well as internet, service provider, and semiconductor technologies.  The Register is quick to point out that the 37 current lawsuits against Android have made Google wise to the idea that patent holders don't tend to sue themselves.

"Google has bid $900m for Nortel's patent portfolio, saying it hopes to use the portfolio to deter lawsuits against not only Google but also partners and open-source developers working on projects such as Android and Chrome."

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Source: The Register

Aperion Verus Forte; for those who still appreciate a wall of sound

Subject: General Tech | April 4, 2011 - 01:28 PM |
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If you are a fan of tiny speakers that unobtrusively fill the room with audio then the Aperion Verus Forte series of speakers is probably not for you.  If on the other hand you prefer a miniature wall of sound with speakers that are unashamed to make their presence known visually and aurally then click on over to Digital Trends.  With five parts, a pair of 30 lbs towers at 35" x 6" x 8.25, a single centre channel of 6.2" x 19" x 8" weighing in at 15 lbs and a pair of satellites of 9" x 5 x 5.7" and a relatively small 6.5 lbs.  If those aren't big enough Aperion also sells a Grand series.

"A few months ago internet-direct speaker maker Aperion Audio announced a new family of products dubbed Verus. The Verus line-up features higher quality drivers, more elegantly styled cabinets and more advanced engineering than their Intimus series cousins and, according to Aperion, a more authentic and true-to-life sound experience. Currently, the Verus offerings are comprised of the larger, full-sized “Grand” speakers along with the more recently released, and compact, Forte series. In this review, we take a listen to the Verus Forte towers, center channel and satellites and consider their value in contrast with their competition as well as Aperion’s own Intimus line."

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