Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2011 - 04:52 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: ssd, socket 2011, llano, intel ssd, gigabyte, computex, APU
We stopped by the Gigaybte booth during Computex 2011 this week and found a host of new motherboards that range from the mainstream to the ultra-extreme.
First up is the A75-UD4H that supports the new AMD FM1 socket and the upcoming AMD Llano processor. Even though the APU will have integrated graphics on die, the Gigabyte board support AMD Dual Graphics technology and CrossFire multi-GPU solutions in conjunction with 8 USB 3.0 ports.
The board will include output connections of VGA, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort along with size USB ports, four of which are USB 3.0.
The Z68XP-UD3 motherboard is one that will be offered in two different ways: one with an SSD and one without. The "iSSD" model will actually include an mSATA Intel 20GB SLC SSD and should come in at a cost of under $250. Considering the Larson Creek drive will cost you anywhere from $90-110 on its own, the combination of a Z68 motherboard and SSD is actually very price competitive. Plus, you get the convenience of having the SSD on the motherboard without it taking up a 3.5-in or 2.5-in drive bay.
For those that choose to get the lower cost board without the included Intel SSD you will be able to choose from several other newcomers to the mSATA form factor including Kingston and OCZ.
Of course we had to take a look at the Socket 2011 motherboard, the X79A-UD3 with support for the upcoming Intel Sandy Bridge-E processor. According to the slide information this will include a new version of the SSD caching technology called RSTe (Rapid Storage Technology Enterprise) with support for USB 3.0 and quad-channel DDR3 memory.
For those that haven't seen, here is a close up of the Socket 2011 in all its glory - that's a lot of pins!!
Subject: Processors, Shows and Expos | June 1, 2011 - 09:28 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: trinity, llano, fusion, computex, bulldozer, APU, amd
While talking up the new 900-series of chipset and the branding for the upcoming AMD Llano APU launch, AMD did surprise us by showing off a bit more of the future than typical. Rick Bergman, general manager of the AMD Product Group, pulled a Trinity-based APU out of his pocket to demonstrate the conviction of staying on a "one-APU-per-year" cycle in the years to come.
While it looks just like any other AMD processors from a distance, this Trinity APU is based on the Bulldozer x86 architecture (which will see the first release as a CPU only later this year) and combines some amount of SIMD-units (aka Radeon cores) for a CPU/GPU combo. This will be the part that succeeds Llano, due out in a few short days.
This roadmap shows the cadence of once a year will be the norm for AMD going forward and that AMD plans to introduce an APU for the tablet market sometime in 2012. It will be interesting to see how late to the game AMD is in this arena and if they can compete with what ARM is doing or even what Intel will be doing with Medfield.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | June 1, 2011 - 08:58 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: computex, asus, gputweak, overclocking, oc
While perusing the ASUS booth for notebooks and graphics cards and motherboards, we also spotted some new overclocking software that looked kind of interesting.
ASUS GPUTweak will ship with ASUS graphics cards starting later this year but they did indicate that it will be available as free download for users of ANY brand of graphics card; which is a nice way to gain some street cred. The software combines a monitoring application, overclocking application and custom version of GPU-Z in a single interface to allow users to really push their GPUs beyond stock settings.
Besides the semi-standard options of frequency (both GPU and memory), voltages and fan speeds, ASUS GPUTweak software will allow users of ASUS Matrix / ROG graphics cards to modify the timings on their GPU memory as well, something that is unique to its offerings.
The software will also allow you "burn" settings into your Matrix cards BIOS so that they will boot at the overclocked settings regardless of the any installed software or operating system. There is a Safety button on all Matrix cards to revert back to the original settings in case of an emergency...
It is nice to see ASUS jumping into the ring here with some competent software and I am curious to see how it will be welcomed after we have seen MSI's Afterburner application become such a hit with gamers.
Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | June 1, 2011 - 08:37 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: ssd, revodrive, ocz, hybrid, computex
OCZ is definitely pushing its SSD products to the consumer and it was no different when we stopped by the OCZ suite at Computex 2011. The most interesting devices came in the form of PCI Express based SSDs including the pending RevoDrive 3 model that upgrades the SSD controllers to SandForce 2200 models and gets some pretty hefty performance boosts because of it.
The RevoDrive 3 includes a pair of SF-2200 controllers and was rated at 900 MB/s read and 700 MB/s write using the PCIe x4 interface. The 240GB model is apparently only going to have a $599 price tag and it should be available in a matter of a short few weeks. The X2 model adds another module to the mix and doubles the controller count to four and improves performance to as high as 1500 MB/s read and 1200 MB/s write. Obviously these types of devices are only for those that REALLY need to push the envelope in storage performance.
Also, more good news: OCZ has implemented a newer firmware feature on the RevoDrive 3 (and other newer PCIe based models) that will enable support for features like TRIM natively. This is done by hiding the multiple controllers from the operating system and passing on / delegating the TRIM commands as needed. Allyn will have more on this when we get a sample later this month.
Another new PCIe-based SSD was the new Z-Drive R4 that fits more into the enterprise market with insanely high IOPS and performance.
OCZ actually showed a server running a pair of the R4 88 models that were able to achieve a 1 million IOPS rating on random 4K.
Another option for consumers was the new RevoDrive Hybrid that is exactly what it sounds like it is - a combination of a PCI Express SSD and a standard 2.5-in spindle based drive on a single unit. This will bring the performance benefits of not only an SSD but a PCIE SSD to consumers that want to have the appearance of a single large hard drive inside their system. It will use SandForce SF-2200 controllers and is rated at 575 MB/s read and 500 MB/s writes with several models planned for production. The SSD portion that acts as the cache will be available in either 60GB of 120GB capacities while the HDD will start at 500GB and go up from there. Pricing will apparently start at $400 for the 60GB/500GB version and will definitely be appealing for enthusiasts. Now everyone can get the advantages of hybrid storage without being locked into the Z68 chipset or even an Intel platform at all.
This implementation does not use any kind of Intel technology at all and instead is based on a firmware option from NVELO called Dataplex. Based on the marketing numbers we saw the implementation that OCZ has created with the PCIe-based SSD will outperform Intel's SATA-based SRT technology by a noticeable margin, at least in benchmarks. We can't wait to get our hands on one to see for ourselves.
Finally, OCZ is going to throw their hat into the ring with the mSATA offering called the Devena 2 that runs on a SandForce SF-2181/2141 controller. Expect to see this marketed as an option even for Intel SRT. It looks like the rest of 2011 will be very busy for Allyn and our storage test bed.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 1, 2011 - 07:57 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: computex, msi, pcie, x79, 990fx, z68
MSI had quite a showing at this year's Computex starting with a host of new motherboards based on the Z68 chipset. The most interesting of which was the new Z68A-GD80 (G3) that in addition to including all the features of the Sandy Bridge processor, SLI, CrossFire, Lucid Virtu and things like OC Genie II and Military Class Components II, is the first motherboard we have seen that integrates support for the PCI Express 3.0 specification.
MSI was able to do this by simply adhering to the already existing PCIe 3.0 specifications and claims the performance doubles from 8 GB/s up to 16 GB/s (for a x16 connection). Even though there are no PCIe 3.0 accessories or graphics cards on the market today, MSI has seen performance improvements when testing PCI Express based solid state drives like the OCZ Revo. We are eager to get this board in the hands of our storage guru and see what advantages it offers users today.
Next up is the new MSI 990FXA-GD80 motherboard based on AMD's latest 990FX chipset. We actually have one of these in the office and should have a review up shortly. With support for today's Phenom processors and tomorrow's Bulldozer-core based designs, I think the 990FX chipset will find its way into a lot of users machines.
Even further out into the future, we saw a glimpse of an MSI engineering sample for the pending Socket 2011 processors from Intel, the MSI X79A-GD65. Supporting the upcoming Sandy Bridge-E processor family and a new quad-channel memory controller, you can clearly see the 2011 socket is HUGE and requires the memory slots to be divided up on either side of it. A lot will change more than likely between now and this boards release but it is cool to see a preview of what is in store for us!
Finally, MSI did have another card in the Lightning series to show off, the N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition. This card has all the same engineering features of the previous Lightning models but adds in a couple of unique features called Smart Temp Sensor and Dust Removal.
The Smart Temp Sensor is actually a coating on the fan that changes from blue to white in appearance as the ambient temperature increases. If the inside of your chassis hits the 45C mark then the fans will be completely white and should give you an indication of system stability. My only concern is that even users with windows on their cases will have trouble seeing the fans on the graphics card cooler posted at a right angle.
The Dust Removal feature is more interesting in that it runs the fans on the Xtreme Edition in the reverse direction for the first 30 seconds of the power cycle and then return to the proper direction for cooling the heatsinks. The idea is that the 30 second reverse interval will help clear out dust from the heatsink and from the fan blades itself saving users in the long run.
Another interesting feature coming very soon to Android phone users is the ability to monitor and overclock your MSI graphics cards via an Afterburner app for your phone. This will be available this month or early in July for Android and *maybe* by the end of the year for iPhone.
AMD and Virtual Vsync for Lucid Virtu
Lucid has grown from a small startup that we thought might have a chance to survive in the world of AMD and NVIDIA to a major player in the computing space. Its latest and most successful software architecture was released into the wild with the Z68 chipset as Lucid Virtu - software that enabled users to take advantage of both the performance of a discrete graphics card and the intriguing features of the integrated graphics of Intel's Sandy Bridge CPU.
While at Computex 2011 in Taiwan we met with the President of Lucid, Offir Remez, who was excited to discuss a few key new additions to the Virtu suite with the new version titled "Virtu Universal". The new addition is support for AMD platforms including current 890-based integrated graphics options as well the upcoming AMD Llano (and more) APU CPU/GPU combinations. It is hard to see a reason for Virtu on current AMD platforms like the 890 series as there are no compelling features on the integrated graphics on that front but with the pending release of Llano you can be sure that AMD is going to integrate some of its own interesting GP-GPU features that will compete with the QuickSync technology of Sandy Bridge among other things. To see Lucid offer support for AMD this early is a good sign for day-of availability on the platform later this year.
The second pillar of Lucid's announcement with Virtu Universal was the addition of support for the mobile space, directly competing with NVIDIA and AMD's own hardware-specific switchable graphics solutions. By far the most successful this far has been NVIDIA's Optimus which has filtered its way down basically into all major OEMs and in most of the major notebook releases that include both integrated and discrete graphics solutions. The benefit that Lucid offers is that it will work with BOTH Intel and AMD platforms simplifying the product stack quite a bit.
Read on for more information and some videos of Virtual Vsync in action!
Subject: Cases and Cooling, Shows and Expos | May 31, 2011 - 11:23 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: solo, PSU, high current gamer, computex, antec
While at Computex 2011 we stopped by the Antec booth to see what the company had on display for new gear going into the second half of 2011. While we of course saw Antec's line up of existing cases and power supplies, and of course the SoundScience audio options, there were a couple of new items on the floor as well.
First up was a visit with Joerg Theissen, formerly of Enermax, and a showing of the upcoming Antec High Current Gamer Plus series of power supplies. Available in a 550 watt, 650 watt and 750 watt version, the updated "Plus" series innovates by building in very high amperages in each of the various 12V rails; up to 40 amps on each! This allows the power supply to supply power to current and future graphics cards even with the smaller 550 watt PSU capacity.
The Plus series is also going with a modular system that gives the user a very flexible expansion capability. While the red and black outlets for cables fit with what most users will use, you can in fact install up to 10 HDD cables on the power supply should you need it. Antec's goal with the new High Current Gamer Plus is to make a unit that addresses both the high end performance segment customers are used to as well as lowering the price to a point where it can address a large majority of the DIY market overall.
The second new item was the Solo II chassis, a low cost design that actually includes some impressive features. Built on a combination of steel and aluminum, the Solo II is one of the first designs we have seen with built in support for the Slim ODD form factor, right out of the gate.
Inside the case you will see only a few HDD cages though for a small case it does offer support for even the largest graphics cards in this way. You will also see a cutout on the motherboard tray for rear access to the CPU the brackets as well as some other openings for improved cable management.
The front of the case opens up to reveal a pair of filtered intake fans and behind them the hard drive bays. The Solo II offers both your standard screw-less tray design as well as elastic suspension based HDD mounting options, similar to those seen in the LanBoy Air.
Even though this is going to be a low cost case (estimate $99-129), Antec has included some noise reduction material that is a form of highly compressed plastic that they claim works nearly as well as the foam substance used on the Antec P180. It is installed on both doors as well as the top of the Solo II.
Overall I have to say that the Solo II looks like a great chassis for users that don't need a gluttony of space and also have to work on a budget.
OCZ Achieves Performance Record Live At Computex, Over 1 Million 4K Write IOPS & 1.5 Million Read IOPS
Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | May 31, 2011 - 01:55 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: z-drive, PCIe SSD, ocz
TAIPEI, Taiwan - May 31, 2011 - OCZ Technology Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:OCZ), a leading provider of high-performance solid-state drives (SSDs) for computing devices and systems, announces the Company has set a new benchmark of 1 million 4K write IOPS with a Z-Drive R4 equipped 3U Colfax International Server based on a Supermicro platform, which features 7.2TB of MLC storage.
As the fastest performing single server solution on the market, this Z-Drive R4 equipped platform significantly accelerates demanding transactional workloads and reduces latency across a broad array of enterprise applications.
"The Z-Drive R4 enables our data center clients to maximize performance in the industry standard 4K file size, and this achievement with Colfax International demonstrates the raw performance benefits and latency reductions that OCZ PCIe SSDs can deliver over multi-terabyte device densities in a single 3U server," said Ryan Petersen, CEO of OCZ Technology Group. "We are proud to enable our clients to deliver servers and storage arrays which provide the highest performance, maximum capacity, and lowest latency available to data centers today."
"We have been working closely with OCZ to create a ready to deploy server solution with both exceptional performance and reliability, all within a compact and energy efficient footprint," said Gautam Shah, President and CEO of Colfax International. "OCZ's Z-Drive PCIe SSDs add considerable performance and we are thrilled to achieve this significant 4K Write IOPS benchmark, as well as making this industry leading total solution available to our enterprise clients."
This demonstration highlighted the Z-Drive R4's ability to offer industry-leading performance and efficiency for enterprise clients seeking the benefits of SSDs over hard drives. This total solution will be available for pre-order from Colfax International in multiple built-to-order configurations, and will ship in the coming weeks following the Computex event.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | May 31, 2011 - 11:59 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: computex, computex 2011, ocz, Intel, Ivy Bridge
You may have noticed with the new look to PC Perspective have come several new features, such as tags to group common topics together to make it easier to find them. The important tag right now is computex, which will group all of the news we have reported from Computex.
Ryan is not the only attendee of the conference, so in order to ensure you have enough information to keep you satiated over the day you can take a look at AnandTech's coverage as well. They spent time with OCZ, discussing the RevoDrive Hybrid, a standard 0.5/1TB platter based HDD and a Vertex 3 SSD on PCIe card, a form factor that Intel's SRT has made obsolete but is still interesting to see. The new PCIe based Z-Drive on the other hand can do very impressive things, the R4 88 has eight SF-2281 controllers in RAID 0! RevoDrives with TRIM support are also very nice to see. Intel talked about both the upcoming Ivy Bridge platform as well as their plans for USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt.
Stay tuned for more.
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- AMD is the fourth WARM, Windows 8 tablet partner @ SemiAccurate
- What's Killing Your Wi-Fi? @ Slashdot
- Is Fedora 15 Faster Than Ubuntu 11.04? @ Phoronix
- Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-WX9 Review @ TechReviewSource
- The TR Podcast 88: Exposing the midrange
- Apple drops secrecy, confirms iOS 5, iCloud on tap at WWDC 2011 @ Ars Technica
- Interview with Mark Doherty of Adobe @ t-break
- Bulldozer mobos from Asus and MSI: Sabertooth 990FX & 990FXA-GD80 @ The Tech Report
- The New Indilinx Everest SSD @ AnandTech
- A Quick Look at a 22nm Ivy Bridge Wafer @ AnandTech
Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | May 31, 2011 - 02:41 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: computex, asus, GTX 580, mars, matrix, ROG
While also announcing a set of new motherboard at Computex 2011, ASUS was also showcasing two new graphics cards in the Republic of Gamers line based on NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 580 GPU. The MATRIX GTX580 and MARS II cards will offer a unique take on performance and engineering that haven’t been seen in the enthusiast graphics markets before.
The MATRIX GTX580 will offer support for TweakIt, ProbeIt and SafeMode overclocking capabilities at the hardware level while the GPU Tweak software will allow the user to adjust setting and monitor the card in the OS. The card is built with a 19-phase construction (!!) which should offer very impressive power efficiency as well as stability during overclocking. The cooler on the MATRIX card also promises to be 20% improved on the NVIDIA reference design.
The MARS II goes a step further by including a PAIR of GTX 580 GPUs on a single PCB offering what will likely be the fastest graphics card on the planet. The same hardware features like TweakIt and ProbeIt as well as the GPU Tweak software and the 19-phase power construction.
It looks like if you want the fastest graphics solutions available ASUS will have you covered with either the MATRIX GTX580 or the MARS II, depending on your wallet capacity.