CES 2013: Micron demos DDR4 DIMMs, announces 20nm Crucial M500 SSDs at $0.60/GB

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2013 - 11:12 AM |
Tagged: micron, crucial, ces 2013, CES

At the Micron/Crucial, we were shown an expansion to their DDR3 memory line, to include lower profile parts:

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These reduced height modules should make for easier installation into HTPC and other small form factor PCs and even 1U Servers.

Next we saw DDR4 running at its native 2133 MHz speed. Here is what the DDR4 DIMM looks like:

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Note the slight bulge at the center of the pin area. This is to make installation easier, as there is a considerable increase in pin count, which would have made installation more difficult if not for that design feature. Note the increased contact density in this pic:

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Last (and most certainly not least), Micron announced their next SSD Series, the M500. This line uses a newer Marvell controller with Micron engineered firmware, driving 20nm IMFT flash:

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All models will employ the enterprise feature of a capacitor bank used to store some reserve power. This helps to minimize any possible data loss should power be interrupted while data is being written:

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Micron told me they are planning a 1TB model, running *MLC* flash (not TLC), and they are shooting for a price point of $600. That's $0.60/GB! If this scales down at the lower capacity points, we should be in for some pretty nice price dips in Solid State Storage for 2013!

 

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CES 2013: Western Digital thin 5mm and 7mm hard drives now also come in hybrid SSHD!

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2013 - 10:03 PM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2013, western digital, wdc, sshd, hybrid, 5mm, 7mm

Today Western Digital showed me their new 5mm and 7mm mobile hard drives. These are very thin, intended for Ultrabooks, and come not only in the familiar Blue product line, but also in a new Solid State Hard Drive (SSHD). The new thin hybrid models are dubbed WD Black. The 5mm Blue and Black will be available in 500GB capacities:

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Adding another 500GB to reach a 1TB capacity point requires another platter, and therefore another 2mm, bringing the 1TB Blue and Black to 7mm:

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The WD Black SSHD will come with either 16 ot 24GB of flash memory cache (varying based on OEM configuration / request). More to follow on these once we can get some hours logged on their new models.

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Sapphire CES 2013: Mini-PCs are the Future

Subject: Shows and Expos | January 9, 2013 - 09:11 PM |
Tagged: Vapor X, sapphire, PCs, graphics, APU, amd

 

Sapphire was a quick trip with a few interesting things to show off.  At the moment we are in a quiet period with AMD and NVIDIA graphics releases.  While AMD has released a few of their mobile based 8000 series parts, we are still not expecting a major desktop refresh anytime soon.  This is somewhat bittersweet for the graphics partners.  On one hand they have more time to differentiate their products and create more value for their consumers.  On the other hand there is no major push with new technology that will help the bottom line.

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The company is not only involved with graphics, but has a long history of producing motherboards.  They offer products for both AMD and Intel, but their primary focus is to address the APU market.  FM2 is well fleshed out with Sapphire with A85X, A75, and A55 products.  Sapphire does find it slightly easier to compete in the AMD market than going against the biggies in the larger and potentially more lucrative Intel market.

The area where they are hoping to experience the most growth in is the micro PC market.  These are very small “desktop” style products based on mobile parts.  These are robust little units which do not ship with an OS or the ability to build in an optical device.  Due to Sapphire being such a strong AMD partner, they are primarily focusing on APUs in this market as well.

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The Edge VS8 is the top product for Sapphire in this market.  It is based on a mobile Trinity APU that is quad core enabled running at 1.6 GHz.  The graphics portion is the 7600G, which looks to feature the entire complement of GCN units but obviously clocked down to save on power.  The VS4 features Trinity but with a dual core processor running at 1.9 GHz.

The lower end Edge HD series is a slightly older unit, and the HD3 runs the last generation Llano processor.  They also feature an Intel based HD4 that runs the Celeron 897 processor.

These PCs are shipped without operating systems and can also be bought in a barebones state.  For example the VS8 comes standard with 4GB of memory and a 320 GB HD (spindle based).  By buying a barebones version a user can easily stack as much memory as possible in the machine as well as use a SSD to give that much more performance.

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Sapphire continues to offer their entire line of AMD based graphics cards and are really pushing their Vapor X technology.  Which leads us to our next product.  Sapphire will start introducing their CPU cooling designs to the market and will be using the Vapor-X technology.  Vapor chamber cooling will be coming to the CPU market very soon and at competitive prices.

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PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

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Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

We are Still Among the Living

The day after the official AMD presentation we were able to sit down with Leslie Sobon for a good hour and really dig into the products we are expecting throughout this next year.  AMD did not officially announce any products, but they revealed more details about products on their roadmaps.

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To say that AMD is in a somewhat precarious situation is an understatement.  This does not necessarily mean that they won’t survive for some years.  This was never mentioned to us by AMD, but we can assume that it is not in ATIC’s best interest to let AMD flounder too much.  AMD is still GLOBALFOUNDRIES largest customer, and ATIC believes that they can become a fabrication giant in the next few years.  So, while AMD is hitting some hard times, they will be around for some time to come in spite of their issues.

CPUs

Believe it or not, AMD is still a CPU company with some relevant producxts.  While Intel has the advantage in x86 performance and process technology, AMD has a distinct advantage in the integrated graphics portion.  While Trinity was a big step in the right direction in terms of performance and power consumption, it was not enough to boost their flagging marketshare.  Throughout the 2013 they are working on several products that will help to change their fortunes.

The first product that we will likely see is the Jaguar core based Kabini APUs.  These are the next generation, low power APUs which will replace the Brazos 2.0 products that we currently are seeing.  These quad core and dual core parts are manufactured by TSMC on their 28 nm process.  Kabini will be the first APU to include the new GCN architecture that we currently see in the HD 7700 series and above.  AMD will be breaking new ground in offering a true quad core part at price points unseen so far.

Click here to read the rest of our coverage of AMD at CES 2013

CES 2013: WonderMedia Dualcore PRIZM SoC

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2013 - 07:35 PM |
Tagged: WonderMedia, ces 2013, CES

WonderMedia, a subsidiary of VIA Technologies, designs low-cost ARM processors. Like many chip designers such as NVIDIA, they do not have their own fabrication capabilities. Still, companies such as TSMC are almost always happy to fulfill orders for interested parties.

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Vis-à-VIA

While the majority of CES hype is about the devices, they would literally be pretty dumb without logic behind them. WonderMedia is hoping to power your cheap tablets and set top boxes and in the process bring them up to Android 4.2. The System on a Chip (SoC) also supports Miracast in hopes to bring wireless display technologies down to an even cheaper price point.

The PRIZM WM8980 is currently available for sampling with mass production shipments in Q1 2013.

Check in after the break for the press release.

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Source: WonderMedia

CES 2013: Valve Announces Steam Box Not Announced in '13

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2013 - 02:44 PM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2013, valve, Steam Box

CES opened with excitement from Xi3 Corporation and their announcement of the Piston. When Gabe Newell spoke with Kotaku at the VGAs he said that we would see Big Picture PCs this year. With word that Xi3 received funding from Valve some of us, including myself, wondered if this Piston was Valve’s “Nexus” Steam Box.

Ben Krasnow, hardware engineer at Valve, comments in the video below about whether we have seen Valve’s canonical Steam Box or if there are any planned announcements for 2013.

Thank you Ben.

There seems to be some discrepancies between statements from Krasnow and Valve Managing Director, Gabe Newell. The major deviation concerns whether the official Steam Box will be based on Linux or another operating system. When interviewed by The Verge, Gabe Newell claimed the official box will be based on Linux with no unclear terms:

We’ll come out with our own and we’ll sell it to consumers by ourselves. That’ll be a Linux box, [and] if you want to install Windows you can. We’re not going to make it hard. This is not some locked box by any stretch of the imagination.

Krasnow in an email discussion with Engadget was somewhat more timid in future plans. The Engadget article was published on the same day as the The Verge interview which makes neither position particularly out of date. His statement:

"The box might be linux-based, but it might not," he continued. "It's true that we are beta-testing Left for Dead 2 on Linux, and have also been public about Steam Big Picture Mode. We are also working on virtual and augmented reality hardware, and also have other hardware projects that have not been disclosed yet, but probably will be in 2013."

At the same point this might all become irrelevant very quickly. As reported yesterday, Gabe Newell in the very same interview seemed to strongly suggest that post-Kepler GPUs will bring virtualization to the consumer market. If that is the case, then the only barrier between Linux and Windows would be for a company to provide a user-friendly virtual machine. Having your host operating system as one or the other would not particularly matter if the user could run gaming applications from the other platform.

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Source: Engadget

CES 2013 Video: NVIDIA GRID Cloud Gaming Technology

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2013 - 11:46 AM |
Tagged: video, nvidia, grid, cloud gaming, ces 2013, CES

Despite all the excitement about the NVIDIA Shield handheld gaming device at CES, the company was also heavily promoting its GRID Cloud Gaming Technology, marking another company that is promosing "game everywhere on everything".  NVIDIA's claims of lower latency thanks to rendering and encoding on the same GPU have really yet to be verified as the hands-on demos they had at the show were running on local servers (not exactly a real-world test...).

NVIDIA isn't planning on releasing a self-branded service to the public but instead wants to sell servers to ISPs and service providers to increase density (more games per server) and performance.  There are no current cloud gaming companies using GRID technology so it looks like we'll have to wait a bit longer to see it's true capabilities.

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

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CES 2013: Razer Edge Back Again. Fiona Always Was Edgy.

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2013 - 02:58 AM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2013, razer

Last year Project Fiona was presented by Razer and we felt as awkward about it as it looked.

This is a new year and it looks like Razer took a bit of feedback from critics of yester-CES. The design itself looks quite similar than it did except that the controller-handles are now detachable. The Edge can operate in four different modes: tablet, keyboard, the controller-handles, and “home console” mode.

The Home Console mode allows you to dock your tablet and access it using 3 USB ports, HDMI, and 3.5mm audio in/out. You can use it as a desktop or as a home theatre PC. Also with Steam’s Big Picture Mode it sees the big picture as a potential Steam Box.

The technical specifications are slightly more solid than last year:

  • Intel Core i7 (2 core, 4 threads) @ 1.9GHz Turbo to 3.0GHz
  • Intel HD 4000/NVIDIA GT 640M LE
  • 8GB DDR3
  • 126/256GB SSD
  • Intel WLAN (B/G/N + Bluetooth 4.0)
  • 10.1” IPS 1366x768 10-point touchscreen
  • Windows 8

So what do you think? While I expect it will be out of my budget and I would probably just barely survive on 256GB due to recent 20-25GB games -- I think it looks pretty good.

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Source: Razer

CES 2013: The Verge Interviews Gave Newell for Steam Box. Valve's Director Hints Post-Kepler GPUs Can Be Virtualized!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Networking, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2013 - 11:11 PM |
Tagged: valve, gaben, Gabe Newell, ces 2013, CES

So the internet has been in a roar about The Steam Box and it probably will eclipse Project Shield as topic of CES 2013. The Verge scored an interview to converse about the hardware future of the company and got more than he asked for.

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Now if only he would have discussed potential launch titles.

Wow! That *is* a beautiful knife collection.

The point which stuck with me most throughout the entire interview was directed at Valve’s opinion of gaming on connected screens. Gabe Newell responded,

The Steam Box will also be a server. Any PC can serve multiple monitors, so over time, the next-generation (post-Kepler) you can have one GPU that’s serving up eight simulateneous [sic] game calls. So you could have one PC and eight televisions and eight controllers and everybody getting great performance out of it. We’re used to having one monitor, or two monitors -- now we’re saying lets expand that a little bit.

This is pretty much confirmation, assuming no transcription errors on the part of The Verge, that Maxwell will support the virtualization features of GK110 and bring it mainstream. This also makes NVIDIA Grid make much more sense in the long term. Perhaps NVIDIA will provide some flavor of a Grid server for households directly?

The concept gets me particularly excited. One of the biggest wastes of money the tech industry has is purchasing redundant hardware. Consoles are a perfect example: not only is the system redundant to your other computational device which is usually at worst a $200 GPU away from a completely better experience, you pay for software to be reliant on that redundant platform which will eventually disappear along with said software. In fact, many have multiple redundant consoles because the list of software they desire is not localized to just one system so they need redundant redundancies. Oy!

A gaming server should help make the redundancy argument more obvious. If you need extra interfaces then you should only need to purchase the extra interfaces. Share the number crunching and only keep it up to date.

Also check out the rest of the interview over at The Verge. I decided just to cover a small point with potentially big ramifications.

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Source: The Verge

CES 2013: OCZ reworks product lines, releases PCIe-based Vector SSD

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2013 - 09:30 PM |
Tagged: vector PCIe, vector, ocz, ces 2013, CES

Today at CES, OCZ released the Vector PCIe SSD:

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This is essentially a RevoDrive, still using VCA 2.0 as the method of tying a pair of SSDs together, only in this case OCZ has ditched SandForce in favor of their new Indilinx parts lifted from their Vector Series. I witnessed the pre-release part turning in 160,000 4k random read IOPS and upwards of 1GB/sec sequential throughput.

OCZ was also showing a new iteration of their VXL enterprise caching software:

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The new software, dubbed LXL, is currently in beta testing. LXL is linux based and employs a caching driver to tie the SSD into the SAN or other local storage. The benefit is that there is also a user-land application and GUI that can 'tune' the caching driver based on default and custom scripts. This tuneability lets the administrator control what sort of data gets cached based on the expected workloads placed on the storage system. This prevents infrequently accessed data from pushing the speed-critical content out of the cache, and should prove more effective than typical caching drivers which are generally unintelligent on their own.

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