Author:
Manufacturer: PC Power & Cooling
Tagged:

Introduction and Features

PC Power & Cooling's Silencer 760W delivers clean, stable power with excellent efficiency at an affordable price. However, don't let the name mislead you; this PSU isn't what many users would consider silent

.Introduction
                   
The Silencer 760W sits in the middle of PC Power & Cooling’s Silencer series of high performance power supplies.  It can deliver up to 760W of clean, reliable power with excellent efficiency for mission critical workstations and high-end gaming systems.  The Silencer 760W incorporates all hard-wired cables and comes with four PCI-E connectors, NVIDIA SLI certification, is backed by a 7-year warranty, and typically sells for $129 USD.


(Courtesy the OCZ Technology Group)
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel
Tagged:

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Less than a month after the introduction of the 510 Series SSD, Intel has released the 320 Series. This is essentially a 'G3' X25-M, running at the usual SATA 3Gb/sec speeds. While it won't be as fast in a straight line as the 510 series, the 320 has the extremely nimble 10-channel controller under its belt. Check out our review to see how it fared against the competition, as well as against the other Intel models.

Introduction:   
 
Today we take a look at the third generation of Intel's native SSD controller solution. What started life as the X25-M series has now been dubbed the 320 Series. This falls in line with Intel's new naming scheme, where all SSD lines get some form of a 3-digit number. 3xx Series are SATA 3Gb/sec, while 5xx Series are 6Gb/sec.
 
The X25-M series got off to a shaky start in life, as the initial shipping version was plagued by some long-term fragmentation issues discovered by yours truly. The plague was short lived, thankfully, as Intel stepped up to the plate and corrected these problems in firmware. The second generation model was released without a hiccup, but the addition of TRIM support via firmware saw some problems as well. Those were eventually ironed out and all was good once again.
 
Last month we saw Intel launch the 510 Series. The unit did not live up to our expectations from an Intel controller - mostly because an Intel controller it was not. Just as they were blind sighted and rushed a 6Gb/sec motherboard solution to the market, Intel did the same with the 510, opting for a Marvell controller. Sure they worked some of their own firmware magic into it, but there is only so much you can squeeze out of a given piece of hardware. Their Sandy Bridge launch did not go so great either, as some of our readers are still getting their motherboards replaced with correctly functioning B3 versions.
 
The 320 Series boasts 25nm flash memory. PC Perspective got a first hand look at 25nm production early last year. We had been waiting for this memory to make an appearance in an Intel part, and our wait is finally over. To revisit what 25nm flash does for us, check out this pic:
 
 
 
From left: 130nm (128MB) in 2003, 90nm (512MB) in 2005, 50nm (1GB) in 2007,
34nm (4GB) in 2009, and finally 25nm (8GB) flash now being produced at IMFT.
To the far right is the now standard flash memory TSOP packaging.
 
A single die of 25nm flash holds a whopping 8GB. While multiple dies can be stacked inside each chip package, the more you stack, the greater chance a failed part will cause a TSOP to be considered bad during the production process. For this reason, larger die capacities and fewer dies per chip make things cheaper to produce all around. This should make for some competitive pricing as well.

 
 
Specifications:





An important note: the 320 series, while packaged and sold to consumers, is also rated for enterprise use. This is the first MLC based Intel SSD to make such a claim. The ratings above were for consumer applications. Here are the ratings for enterprise usage where the drive will see heavy random writes spread across 100% of the available drive capacity:
 
 
Intel is failing *way* conservative, assuming no use of TRIM and 100% of the drive full of 4k random writes. This would make many other SSD's choke completely, so I'm shocked to see Intel be brave enough to even provide such a rating. I hit our sample really hard for half a day and was not able to get IOPS to fall as far as their rating.

Packaging:
 
  
 
Our 320 series sample came in the standard OEM packaging with the new style of sticker. The retail packaging comes with a CD and 3.5" adapter bracket in the box.
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Asus
Tagged:

Enter Sandy Bridge

In desktops, concerns such as power efficiency are important, but usually aren’t potential deal-breakers. In laptops, the processor has a significant impact on the design of the laptop. There is a broad spectrum of performance, power efficiency and thermal efficiency, and these variables make the difference between a 1” thick ultraportable and a bulky 1.5” thick desktop replacement.

Desktop processors tend to catch the majority of the glory when new processor architectures debut. AMD’s recent decision to release Bobcat as its first APU was quite unusual; in most cases, laptops have to wait for new processor technology to filter down.  As a result, the performance story of laptop parts is often second-fiddle to that of its desktop cousins.

That’s a shame, really, because laptop processors are in many ways more interesting to examine. The variety of product on the laptop market is staggering. The performance gap between an Intel Atom and an Intel Core i7-QM quad-core is staggering – it’s hard to believe that they’re both the same type of product and are capable of running the same basic programs. 

The laptop space is also more rigorous than that of desktops. In desktops, concerns such as power efficiency are important, but usually aren’t potential deal-breakers. In laptops, the processor has a significant impact on the design of the laptop. There is a broad spectrum of performance, power efficiency and thermal efficiency, and these variables make the difference between a 1” thick ultraportable and a bulky 1.5” thick desktop replacement.

We already know from the desktop parts that Sandy Bridge is kind of a big deal. The new Intel processors absolutely destroyed their former cohorts and all competition from AMD in our earlier Sandy Bridge review.

Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA
Tagged:

1024 CUDA cores on a card

The "Top Secret" GTX 590 turns out to be both better and worse than the Radeon HD 6990 4GB depending on some vary particular use cases. In realm of $700 graphics cards, this is definitely something you want to pay attention to. But I am getting ahead of myself; let's first dive into the design on the GTX 590 and see what's under the hood.The High-End Battle Commences

Just a couple of weeks ago AMD released the Radeon HD 6990 4GB card, the first high-end dual-GPU graphics card we have seen released in quite a while it seems.  Before that, the Radeon HD 5970 had been sitting on the throne as the fastest single card for even longer - the GeForce GTX 295 was NVIDIA's last attempt at the crown.  Even before we got our hands on the HD 6990 though, we were told by various NVIDIA personnel to "wait what we have in store."  Well, we have done so and today we are here to review and discuss NVIDIA's entry into the dual-GPU realm for 2011, the GeForce GTX 590 3GB.

The "Top Secret" GTX 590 turns out to be both better and worse than the Radeon HD 6990 4GB depending on some vary particular use cases.  In realm of $700 graphics cards, this is definitely something you want to pay attention to.  But I am getting ahead of myself; let's first dive into the design on the GTX 590 and see what's under the hood.

Note: If you would like to check out our video comparison between the GeForce GTX 590 and the Radeon HD 6990 before moving on, please do!

Author:
Manufacturer: MSI
Tagged:

From the HD 5770 HAWK to Now

MSI hits the scene with their own version of the AMD HD 6950. This features the Twin Frozr II cooling solution and has a price point slightly above where most reference HD 6950s sit. When combined with MSI's Afterburner software, this card becomes an interesting tool in a gamer's arsenal. We find out how it runs when combined with the Catalyst 11.4 Preview Driver, which delivers some significant improvements in performance for the Cayman family of chips.Last year I reviewed the MSI HD 5770 HAWK video card, and I came away impressed by the engineering that MSI brought to the table.  The card was quiet, it was efficient, it didn’t build up any significant levels of heat, and it was pretty affordable as compared to a bone stock HD 5770 based on the reference design.  The board could also overclock.  It was a budget enthusiast board that wouldn’t empty the pocket, but still give a lot of DX11 bang for the buck.

Then on the other hand we had the MSI HD 5870 Lightning.  This was a card that had a lot of promise.  This particular card had a custom PCB design with high end power circuitry, quality components, and the TwinFrozr fan design.  All of this came to naught.  The board would not overclock any further than the reference HD 5870 that we had seen for some months before, and in fact the board appeared to pull a little bit more power at the same speeds as a reference board.  This was almost the exact polar opposite of the HD 5770 HAWK.

The product I am looking at today is an interesting hybrid from MSI.  MSI has taken the stock HD 6950 reference PCB, populated it with slightly higher rated components (though not up to their “Military Class” standards), and put on the Twin Frozr II cooling solution.  This is more in line with the reference version of the HD 6950, but the addition of better cooling and advanced fan profiles gives it a boost above the reference, without going into the stratified air of producing another “Lightning” type of product.  This has allowed MSI to get a differentiated product out in fairly short order, and still give consumers something extra to potentially make their buying decision on.

Author:
Manufacturer: Silverstone
Tagged:

Introduction and Features

If you are in the market for a solid SFX form factor power supply for a Micro ATX Media Center or Home Theater PC that will support a high-end graphic card, the SilverStone ST45SF deserves a very close look!

Introduction
                   
SilverStone has a well earned reputation among PC enthusiasts for providing a full line of high quality enclosures, power supplies, cooling components, and accessories.  SilverStone recently added a new 450W power supply in the SFX form factor to their PSU line up.  The SFX form factor is frequently found in Micro ATX Media Center PCs and Home Theater PCs.

SilverStone SFX ST45SF PSU

Here is what SilverStone has to say about the ST45SF: "After successfully revolutionizing both HTPC and SFF market segments with innovative chassis designs, SilverStone engineers continue their push for advancement in these categories by releasing a true upgrade-worthy small form factor power supply, the ST45SF. This SFX unit is compatible not only with chassis that use SFX power supplies but also in smaller ATX chassis with the included adapter bracket. Despite its small size, the ST45SF has features that one would expect from an elite ATX power supply such as 80 PLUS Bronze level of efficiency, temperature controlled fan, 50°C temperature rating, and reliability for 24/7 operation. Enthusiasts oriented features are also present with single +12V rail and 8pin/6pin PCI-E connectors to fully support multi-GPU systems. For SFF users and SilverStone, the ST45SF is more than just an upgrade, it is an important milestone for the DIY desktop computer."

SilverStone ST45SF Main Features:
•    Supports standard SFX form factor and ATX (via included bracket)
•    450W continuous power output at 50°C and rated for 24/7 operation
•    80 PLUS Bronze level efficiency (82%~85% efficiency at 20%-100% load)
•    Class-leading single +12V rail with 36A capacity
•    Silent running 80mm fan (18dBA minimum)
•    Single PCI-E 8-pin and dual PCI-E 6-pin connectors
•    Active PFC

Author:
Manufacturer: AMD
Tagged:

What all that extra power gets you

Just a couple of weeks back AMD released the new Radeon HD 6990 4GB graphics card to world and it was easily crowned the king of the GPU world. With performance that beat out AMD's own Radeon HD 5970 and walked past the single GPU based GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB from NVIDIA, the HD 6990 offered the most performance in the smallest space you could buy - and for a hefty $699 MSRP.The Leftovers

Just a couple of weeks back AMD released the new Radeon HD 6990 4GB graphics card to world and it was easily crowned the king of the GPU world.  With performance that beat out AMD's own Radeon HD 5970 and walked past the single GPU based GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB from NVIDIA, the HD 6990 offered the most performance in the smallest space you could buy - and for a hefty $699 MSRP.  (Note that they are selling for more than that as of today...)

One of the interesting features of the card was a unique hardware switch on the top of the card that is used to switch between standard clock rates of 830 MHz and a 375 watt power rating and a higher voltage, higher clock rate along with the ability to breach the 375 watt limit set by the PCI Express standard. 

Along with the move from 830 MHz core clock to a 880 MHz core clock (which by itself wouldn't really be notable), the HD 6990 cards move from a voltage of 1.175v stock to a slightly improved 1.2v for additional overclocking headroom.  In conjunction with this, the PowerTune implementation (which uses hardware to limit maximum power consumption levels) gets tweaked to allow for more power consumption.  This is good news for overclockers again.

Here is my quote from the original HD 6990 story:

When you move that BIOS switch on the HD 6990 from the standard setting to the overclocked setting, you aren't just changing the clock speed of the GPU but you are also changing the default settings for PowerTune.  Instead of a target load power consumption of about 375 watts, the overclocked card will be able to target as high as 450 watts using some updated and improved circuitry on the board.  It is worth nothing though that AMD is forced to make this 450 watt option an "overclocked" setting because it does exceeded the power draw of the PCI Express slot and associated connectors and would cause a fit for vendors attempt to selling systems using the HD 6990 to consumers.  Enthusiasts that buy this card themselves though will have that option and we are glad that AMD continues to support readers like ours by enabling this type of thing.

Unfortunately, because of some time constraints, we didn't get to play around with this overclocked setting originally but today, we rectify that situation. 

In our story today you will see a collection of benchmarks, all run at the 2560x1600 resolution that actually stresses the HD 6990, comparing the default 830/1200 speeds to the automatically overclocked settings of 880/1250 that result from flipping that overclocking switch.  Though I realize that not many users have 30-in displays with 2560x1600 screens, the higher pixel count should also represent performance scaling and changes on multi-display Eyefinity configurations. 

After those tests, you will see our experiences with additional overclocking attempts through AMD's Overdrive software in the Catalyst Control Center.

Our testing configuration was the same as all of our recent GPU articles:

  • Testing Configuration
  • ASUS P6X58D Premium Motherboard
  • Intel Core i7-965 @ 3.33 GHz Processor
  • 3 x 2GB Corsair DDR3-1333 MHz Memory
  • Western Digital VelociRaptor 600GB HDD
  • Corsair Professional Series 1200w PSU

 

 
Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Asus
Tagged:

The Relative Lack of SLI on AMD

Several years back we were introduced to the Lucid Hydra technology, and it seemed like an impressive multi-GPU implementation which could leverage the power of different video card combinations to improve performance over that of one card. Quite a few years have passed, and we have a handful of motherboards now supporting this technology. We take a look at the technology now implemented on the AMD side, and how it performs when using both AMD and NVIDIA based video cards.The first we heard of Lucid was a few years back when they showcased working silicon running multiple video cards together.  Whether these were NVIDIA or ATI/AMD cards, Lucid had a way of allowing them to render a scene in a unique way, then composite the results to create a near seamless experience.  It took some time before the first products hit the streets, and there is also quite a bit of controversy behind the actual implementation.

The primary rendering mode for both SLI and CrossFire is alternate frame rendering.  Basically this allows each video card to process alternating frames, which theoretically can double performance.  We have never seen true linear scaling in such situations, but it is not unheard of to reach 85% scaling or slightly more with the latest video cards on fast systems.  Lucid does things a bit differently.

Block diagram of the Lucid Hydra chip and how it connects to the system.

Author:
Manufacturer: MSI
Tagged:

Another Fermi debuts

It is the inevitable march of technology - we see a new GPU released at the high-end of the price spectrum and some subset of it will find its way to the low-end. The slow drizzle of cards in this series started with the 580 and 570, based on the same Fermi architecture as the GTX 400 cards (with some improvements in efficiency), continued with the GTX 560 Ti in January and with the GTX 550 Ti that we are seeing today.Introduction

It is the inevitable march of technology - we see a new GPU released at the high-end of the price spectrum and some subset of it will find its way to the low-end.  It could be merely days apart, or it could be months, as we see here with the GTX 580 release coming way back in November of 2010.  The slow drizzle of cards in this series started with the 580 and 570, based on the same Fermi architecture as the GTX 400 cards (with some improvements in efficiency), continued with the GTX 560 Ti in January and with the GTX 550 Ti that we are seeing today.

But does this new low cost option from NVIDIA stack up well against competition from AMD or from their own previous designs?  Let's first find out the basic specifications of the GPU and dive into the benchmarks.

The GeForce GTX 550 Ti GPU

The GeForce GTX 550 Ti (previously dubbed GF116) continues with the trend NVIDIA has perfected of taking large GPUs and shrinking them down to fit into different price segments, in this case the ~$150 mark.  While the GTX 580 is a beast of silicon with 512 shader cores and a 384-bit memory bus to keep it fed, the GTX 560 Ti was shrunk to 384 cores and a more manageable 256-bit memory bus.

The new GTX 550 Ti GPU will feature half as many cores at 192 with a matching 192-bit memory bus.  You might remember that the GTS 450 card (that was resting in a similar price point) also came with 192 shader processors but only a 128-bit memory interface with its 1GB of GDDR5 memory.  This time around the added width and high clock speeds will give the GTX 550 Ti a much improved memory system.

In terms of pure memory bandwidth, the GTX 550 Ti will provide 70% more than the previous generation which is always good news for gamers on a budget; the memory runs at 1025 MHz in the reference designs compared to the 900 MHz of the GTS 450. 

Speaking of those reference specifications, here they are.  At 900 MHz core clock, the GTX 550 Ti will without a doubt be faster than the GTS 450 (that ran at 783 MHz) - but if there was any other outcome we would be completely perplexed.  The real questions is how it is will fare against other similarly priced components that exist today. 

The 116 watt power consumption of the GTX 550 Ti comes in at 10 watts higher than what the reference GTS 450 cards were rated at.

NVIDIA is confident that the performance edge that the GTX 550 Ti offers will make it the new best option for gamers looking for a ~$150 graphics card.  Above you can see the performance improvements that are associated with the clock increases from the GTS 450 to the GTX 550 as well as those associated with the 192-bit memory bus interface. 
 
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Toshiba
Tagged:

Introduction and Specifications

The processor inside the Toshiba Satellite C655 is just one reason why this laptop is interesting. The other is the laptop’s size. Yes, laptops with 15.6” displays are the most common sold today, but Intel has made sure to keep Atom processors out of them. The company has been understandably guarded about the idea of placing such an inexpensive part into the most popular category of laptops.

Netbooks have been solid Intel territory since their rise to popularity in 2008. Intel won the category virtually by default; AMD had no alternative to offer. Even AMD’s most power efficient models have never been capable of providing battery life comparable to Atom. The debut of the Nile platform late last year finally gave AMD the ability to compete in the ultraportable market, but that was a long way from the power efficiency Atom could provide. AMD needed a new architecture, one made with power efficiency as a primary goal.

Now, after much anticipation and some delays, AMD has delivered. The new Fusion processors, which combine the CPU and GPU into a single processor architecture known as an APU, are filtering into production laptops. With them comes opportunity. AMD is rolling out low-end, power efficient components first, which means Atom finally has a competitor. Intel has done very little to update the performance and functionality of Atom since its introduction because there was no reason to make changes. With no competition from AMD, and the margins on Atom products small, Intel has had little incentive to substantially revise or improve the processor. AMD’s E-240 APU may finally spark a battle that has been absent for far too long.

The processor inside the Toshiba Satellite C655 is just one reason why this laptop is interesting. The other is the laptop’s size. Yes, laptops with 15.6” displays are the most common sold today, but Intel has made sure to keep Atom processors out of them. The company has been understandably guarded about the idea of placing such an inexpensive part into the most popular category of laptops. If consumers suddenly decided that an Atom was really all they needed (which I think is unlikely, but a possibility) Intel’s entire mobile processor business could be throw into a blender.

The Satellite 655 is simultaneously one of the least and most unique laptops on the market. Let’s see what (besides the APU) makes it tick.

Nothing here is surprising besides the processor and the price. While it is not unusual for 15.6” laptops to sell for $349, laptops that sell below $450 are usually stripped models, clearance products, or loss-leaders that stores hope can be attached to profit-fat extended warranties and peripherals. The Satellite C655 has an MSRP of $349, however – it would not be surprising to see this laptop sell for $325 or even $300 after a few months on the market.

Inexpensive pricing doesn’t excuse poor quality, however; the Toshiba Satellite C655 needs to be pleasant to use even if it is inexpensive. This is a place where many netbooks stumble, and even 15.6” bargain laptops sometimes have hidden flaws. Can the Satellite C655 cut costs without cutting into your experience?

 
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Apple
Tagged:

Introduction and Features

After Apple released their new line of Macbook Pros on Feb. 24, many users thought Apple would do a basic performance bump of the system's hardware and send it out the door to consumers. They predictably included Intel's latest Sandy Bridge processors, which integrates an HD Graphics 3000 processor with the CPU, but they also became the first company to adopt Intel's new Thunderbolt technology. The combination of Sandy Bridge and Thunderbolt is just the tip of the iceberg for this year's Macbook Pro lineup. We ordered one of their entry level 13" models to see firsthand how these new capabilities boost system performance and usability.

Apple brings Sandy Bridge, Thunderbolt technologies to MacBook Pros


Courtesy of Apple

After Apple released their new line of Macbook Pros on Feb. 24, many users thought Apple would do a basic performance bump of the system's hardware and send it out the door to consumers. They predictably included Intel's latest Sandy Bridge processors, which integrates an HD Graphics 3000 processor with the CPU, but they also became the first company to adopt Intel's new Thunderbolt technology. The combination of Sandy Bridge and Thunderbolt is just the tip of the iceberg for this year's Macbook Pro lineup. We ordered one of their entry level 13" models to see firsthand how these new capabilities boost system performance and usability.

 


Courtesy of Apple

The 13" model we configured for our review includes a 13.3" glossy widescreen LED display that natively runs at 1280x800. We also kept everything else standard like the 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with 3MB shared L3 cache and 4GBs of DDR3-1333 system memory, but we upgraded the hard drive to a 500GB, 5,400 RPM SATA model. We also chose to stick with the Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 384MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared memory to keep the cost down below $1,300. 

 


Courtesy of Apple

As of Mar. 5, Apple had five basic Macbook Pro configurations that consumers could purchase from their website. Their entry-level 13" model starts at $1,199 while the 15" model starts at $1,799 because of the included Intel Core i7 2GHz quad-core processor and AMD Radeon HD 6490M 256B graphics card. The high-end 17" model only comes in one configuration that starts at $2,499, but it uses an Intel Core i7 2.4GHz quad-core CPU and an AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 1GB of DDR5 memory. Overall, these five configurations help users with a wide range of needs and professional backgrounds.

 

Apple Macbook Pro 13" Features

Up to 2x Faster Processors
With all-new quad-core and dual-core processors, the new MacBook Pro isn’t just faster. It’s phenomenal.

Up to 3x Faster Graphics
The 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro feature discrete AMD Radeon graphics for stunning visuals.

Ultrafast Thunderbolt I/O
New input/output technology lets you connect high-speed peripherals and high-resolution displays.

FaceTime HD Camera
Now when you make video calls with FaceTime, your friends will see you three times more clearly than before.

Multi-Touch Trackpad
The spacious Multi-Touch trackpad lets you use gestures to control and interact with what’s on your screen.

Long-Lasting Battery
Even with faster processors and graphics, the new MacBook Pro lasts an amazing 7 hours on a single charge.

 

 

 

Author:
Manufacturer: AMD
Tagged:

Antilles Architecture and Design

The AMD Radeon HD 6990 4GB card has been known by the media and even gamers since the first announcements from the Cayman launch last year but finally today we are able to discuss the technology behind it and the gaming performance it will provide users willing to shell out the $700 it will take to acquire. Stop in and see if your mortgage is worth this graphics card!

"Look at the size of that thing!"
-Wedge Antilles, in reference to the first Death Star

Graphics card that are this well endowed don't come along very often; the last was the Radeon HD 5970 from AMD back in November of 2009.  In a world where power efficiency is touted as a key feature it has become almost a stigma to have an add-in card in your system that might pull 350-400 watts of power.  Considering we were just writing about a complete AMD Fusion platform that used 34 watts IN TOTAL under load, it is an easy task to put killer gaming products like the HD 6990 in an unfair and unreasonable light. 

But we aren't those people.  Do most people need a $700, 400 watt graphics card?  Nope.  Do they want it though?  Yup.  And we are here to show it to you.

A new take on the dual-GPU design

Both AMD and NVIDIA have written this story before: take one of your top level GPUs and double them up on a single PCB or card design to plug into a single PCI Express slot and get maximum performance.  CrossFire (or SLI) in a single slot - lots to like about that. 

The current GPU lineup paints an interesting picture with the Fermi-based GTX 500 series from NVIDIA and the oddly segregated AMD HD 6800 and HD 6900 series of cards.  Cayman, the redesigned architecture AMD released as the HD 6970 and HD 6950, brings a lot of changes to the Evergreen design used in previous cards.  It has done fairly well in the market though it didn't improve the landscape for AMD discrete graphics as much as many had thought it would and NVIDIA's graphics chips have remained very relevant. 

With the rumors swirling about a new dual-GPU option from AMD there was some discussion on whether it would be an HD 6800 / Evergreen based design or an HD 6900 / Cayman contraption.  Let's just get that mystery out of the way:

With the VLIW4 microarchitecture we absolutely are seeing a dual Cayman card and with a surprisingly high clock speed of 830 MHz out of the gate with lots of headroom for the overclocker in all of us.  There are 1536 stream processors per GPU for a total of 3072 and a raw computing power of more than 5 TeraFLOPs.   This is analogous to the HD 6970 GPU that shares the 1536 shader count but runs at a clock rate of 880 MHz.

The memory architecture runs a bit slower as well at 5.0 Gbps (versus the 5.5 Gbps on the HD 6970) but we are still getting a full 2GB per GPU for a grand-spanking-total of 4GB on this single card.  Load power on the board is rated at "<375 watts" and just barely makes the budget for PCI Express based solutions with the provided dual 8-pin power connectors. 

You might remember that AMD introduced a dual-BIOS switch with the HD 6900 cards as well that would allow users to easily revert back to the original BIOS and settings should their overclocking attempts take a turn for the worse.  For this card though, they are taking a slightly different approach by having the switch pull duties as an overclocking option directly, pushing up the clock frequency from 830 MHz to 880 MHz.  That might not seem like that dramatic of a change (and it isn't) but more noticeable is the change in voltage on the GPUs (going from 1.12v to 1.175v) and what that does to the power consumption and PowerTune options on the card for further tweaking.  More on that below.
 
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Motorola
Tagged:

Introduction and Honeycomb Overview

Early this year Google teased the next version of their mobile device operating system, Android 3.0 (codenamed Honeycomb). Now we finally have our hands on the first Honeycomb device, the Motorola Xoom. Read on to see how much the face of Android has changed.

While the Motorola Xoom may not be the first tablet that has been released with Android, it marks a major shift in the paradigm of mobile computing. Tracing back the history of Android, Google seems to release new software platforms with a specific hardware partner. While the original G1 phone was developed by HTC, Google decided to launch Android 2.0 (Eclair, known as 2.1 on other phones) with Motorola and their original Droid product. The success of the Motorola Droid is a hallmark moment for Motorola, who had been slowly dying after the massive success of their RAZR phone years ago.

With 2.2 and 2.3, Google decided to partner with hardware partners to develop what they considered the ideal platform. From this we got the HTC built Nexus One, and Samsung built Nexus S. Both of which have been heralded as phenomenal devices.

This brings us to Google’s newest and most ambitious mobile operating system yet, Android 3.0 (Honeycomb). Once again, Google has partnered here with great hardware companies, giving us a Motorola built device, powered by the NVIDIA Tegra 2 ARM SoC.

One of the things that veteran Android users will notice right away when looking at a Xoom in action is the lack of the standard Home, Menu, Back, and Search buttons of Android devices of the past. This is actually due to a Google decision, and not one on Motorola’s part. In Honeycomb, the way you navigate through the operating system has been reworked, and these buttons integrated into the UI, instead of the device itself. This allows Google greater flexibility in displaying these navigational items when needed, and flexibility to change their appearance or function down the road in later revisions of Android.

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: General
Tagged:

Introduction and Specifications

Luxury. Premium. Exclusive. These are words rarely associated with laptops, particularly PC laptops. While Apple happily reaps in profits from the MacBook Pro, most other laptop manufacturers have a difficult time selling high-end laptops. The U260 is Lenovo’s attempt at a stylish flagship that will stick in the minds of buyers. Indeed, if you visit the IdeaPad main page, you’ll find that the U series is the only line of IdeaPad laptops described as “stylish” in the bite-sized popup descriptions.

 

Luxury. Premium. Exclusive. These are words rarely associated with laptops, particularly PC laptops. While Apple happily reaps in profits from the MacBook Pro, most other laptop manufacturers have a difficult time selling high-end laptops. Some companies, such as HP, have simply resorted to emulating Apple’s successful formula (with the Envy line) while others, such as Sony, seem to have made peace with their small portion of the laptop market. ASUS’s recent Bamboo line, which we recently reviewed in the form of the U33JC, proved to be the best recent attempt at a luxury laptop by any PC laptop vendor. But it was essentially a diamond in the rough, and it has few peers.

The U260 is Lenovo’s attempt at a stylish flagship that will stick in the minds of buyers. Indeed, if you visit the IdeaPad main page, you’ll find that the U series is the only line of IdeaPad laptops described as “stylish” in the bite-sized popup descriptions.

Before we go into the design details, however, let’s take a look at the guts of this slim machine.

Author:
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI
Tagged:

The AMD Fusion Processors Arrive

The MSI E350IA-E45 mini-ITX motherboard is the first system to hit our test bench that integrates the AMD E-350 Fusion APU into a desktop-ready configuration. By combining great performance per watt with features like SATA 6.0 Gb/s and USB 3.0, the MSI motherboard would make a great contender for a new low cost home theater build. Does it stand out at all from the reference platform we saw last year though?Introduction

I have been looking forward to retail availability of the AMD Fusion APU based platforms since I first got hands on time with them back at GDC in 2010.  Since then I have gone to AMD's offices once or twice to sit down with marketing, engineers, designers and the hardware itself to really put it to the test and to get AMD's take on the platform, it's stance in the market and the company's goals against Intel.

Last November I was able to actually benchmark and test a reference system at AMD's Austin campus to get a preview of how the performance of Fusion-enabled notebooks and desktops panned out and the initial results were intriguing. 

 Unfortunately, our testing was done on the device you see above - hardly indicative of what end users will see in the market in either desktop or notebook form.  While the performance results were great to see as we were still a ways off from the official product release, I knew that getting retail motherboards like the MSI option we are testing today, were critical to put a final stamp on the both this series of APUs and the Fusion philosophy at AMD completely.

Also, we did have a short preview of a Toshiba C655D 15.6-in notebook last month with a full review pending using a single-core iteration of the platform.  Check that out if you are interested before continuing on with this review below.
 

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel
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Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Today we take a look at the newly released Intel 510 Series SSD. This is Intel's first SATA 6Gb/sec offering. They chose to go with a non-Intel branded controller, which took us by surprise to say the least. Can Intel's SSD gurus transform a previously competing controller into something that can compete with their previous 10-channel monsters?

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Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: General
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One of our Sandy Bridge complaints

Lucid first showed up its Virtu software virtualization for GPUs at CES in January but they are now finally ready to give us some hands on testing time. Virtu promises to marry the integrated graphics features of the Sandy Bridge Intel processor graphics to the performance of discrete solutions from NVIDIA and AMD.

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Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Intel
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Out is Light, in is Copper

Yup, you read that right: Intel Light Peak is no more and it has been replaced by the official branding of Intel Thunderbolt Technology. Love it or hate it, that is what we are going to be using for the future and now it's time to get down to the nitty-gritty about what it does and what it can do.

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: OCZ Technology
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Introduction and Specifications

Another week, and another Vertex 3 release from OCZ! This time we take a look at the consumer oriented model, with more usable space and a promise of comparable performance. How will this new model really stack up against the enterprise-grade workhorse?

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Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD
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AMD at the ISSCC 2011

AMD has provided further details on the Bulldozer architecture at the ISSCC 2011 conference. These include an overall view of each module and some of the physical characteristics, a redesign of the schedulers and integer execution units, and a comprehensive look at power saving features that allow the Bulldozer core to exist in moderate power and TDP ranges. We cover the highlights of the submitted papers and make some guesses at what the final product will look like.