Springtime graphics round up

Subject: General Tech | March 18, 2011 - 04:06 PM |

InsideHW gathered together a large number of video cards, broke them into four different price ranges and went benchmark crazy.  For this particular round up they were more concerned about GPU power as opposed to contrasting the different features that AMD and NVIDIA have incorporated into their cards.   As well, instead of complicating their results with multi card setups, they focused on how the cards compared when used singly.  Take a look to see how they fell on the performance scale in the full review.


"If you were attentive during the past few months, you’re bound to have noticed just how many new graphics card models have been presented in the past few months. To say that the market situation is confusing would be an understatement, since not only have there been plenty of new models making their appearance on the market, but an entire graphics card generation has shifted. Besides, NVIDIA seems to have made a full recovery and got back into the game as an entirely respectable competitor…"

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Source: InsideHW

AMD's new releases, 11 Llano parts by the end of the year

Subject: General Tech | March 18, 2011 - 03:51 PM |

You still have a few months of waiting before you will be able to get hold of AMD's new CPUs but there will be 11 new processors by the end of the year.  A mix of Llano and Zacate APUs will be released along with notebooks by a variety of vendors, based on the new quad core APU with an HD 6550 onboard.  DigiTimes didn't have a break down of the exact models and speeds that are coming but you can be sure that more information will be posted once it is released by AMD.


AMD will launch six Llano-series APUs for desktops in third-quarter 2011 and another five models in the fourth, in an apparent effort to take on Intel's Sandy Bridge CPUs, according to industry sources.

AMD will unveil its 32nm A-series Llano APUs at Computex Taipei 2011 to be held in June and the models to be launched in the third quarter will include A8-3550 and A6-3450, while the five models to be available in the fourth quarter will include A8-3560 and A4-3360.

Additionally, AMD will also release three E-series (Zacate) APUs, including dual-core E-300, E-450 and E2-3250, in the third quarter.

AMD has also announced that a total of 24 notebooks based on its C- and E-series APU have been rolled out by ODMs, including Clevo, Coby, Compal Electronics, Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS), Hasee, Micro-Star International (MSI) and Shuttle, and are available in the market now."


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Source: Digitimes

Intel's tools in the coming battle for server room dominance against ARM and AMD

Subject: General Tech | March 17, 2011 - 11:36 AM |

Intel has been dominating the high end of servers with Itanium and Xeon but the days when energy efficiency can be sacrificed in the name of processing power are coming to a close.  AMD has been working away at Intel's market share with Opteron, perhaps less powerful for some applications but also lower powered than Intel's top of the line products.  That is changing, especially as ARM is now putting out dual core processors that can handle tasks once reserved for chips made by AMD and Intel.  Intel has responded with the idea of Atom powered servers as well as lower powered Xeons, while AMD has Bulldozer and other products around the corner.  Thanks to DigiTimes we now have a rough roadmap of Intel's plans for the server room in the near future.


"Intel has disclosed its roadmap for low-power processors for the emerging micro server category including a new server processor based on the Intel Atom processor microarchitecture targeted for 2012.

Micro servers share infrastructure resources and are ideal for workloads where many low-power, dense servers may be more efficient than fewer, more robust servers. Intel will deliver four new processors for the category that span 45W high performance to sub-10W, all with server features including 64-bit, Intel Virtualization Technology and Error-Correcting Code (ECC).

Customers are already planning designs based on these processors, including Intel Xeon E3-1260L and E3-1220L processors in production now, Intel said."


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Source: Digitimes

Auzentech updates their impressive X-Meridian 7.1

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2011 - 01:23 PM |

Wrapped around a C-Media CMI8788 Oxygen HD PCI Audio Processor and still using a PCI slot to avoid the use of a bridge chip to allow a PCIe version the new Auzentech X-Meridian 7.1 2G looks to improve the already impressive performance of the original.  It is just as powerful and tweakable as the original, though they did shave the headphone amplifier off, so [H]ard|OCP has no qualms recommending this card for anyone who needs to update an older soundcard.  They do caution that the difference between this card and the previous generation from Auzentech, or indeed from almost any manufacturer, is so slight that users of modern C-Media 8788 cards don't need to upgrade.

"Auzentech promises to deliver the second generation high performance PCI audio card that will let you know the difference between audio that sounds great and audio that sounds perfect. We put Auzentech's new card to the test."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

What do you need to play Dragon Age II properly?

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2011 - 12:36 PM |

TechSpot downloaded the high resolution texture pack and applied it to the new, fully DX11 sequel to Dragon Age.  They take a close look at the visual differences between the various quality modes available in the setting screen so you can determine if it is even worth cranking up the settings.  They show that CPU speed has little to do with performance, although newer architectures perform superior to older models.  Take a look at the full review to see an impressive performance from the new HD6990.


"Given our ability to fit out PCs with vastly superior hardware, it pays off when playing Dragon Age II. Right off the bat BioWare released a free high-resolution texture pack download designed exclusively for the PC version. Just as important, the game exclusively supports DirectX 11 on the PC providing cutting edge rendering features such as tessellation, additional dynamic lighting, depth of field and ambient occlusion (SSAO). When compared to DX9 we can confirm that Dragon Age II looks considerably better using the more advanced renderer. "

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Source: Tech Spot

The future of self defending chips, McAfee inside Intel ... inside

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2011 - 12:03 PM |

The Register listened in to a conference call involving Wall Street analysts, Renée James, an Intel SVP and GM of the Software and Services Group, as well as Dave DeWalt, president of McAfee now a subsidiary of Intel.  There was good news for employees, apparently of the 20 software companies Intel has purchased recently over 90% of the original employees are still holding the same jobs.  Intel's James went on to discuss how they see integrating malware defences directly onto the chips they make, especially mobile platforms that currently lack good protection from a growing malware threat.  Look for embedded virus and malware production in Atom, Core, and Xeon chips as well as Wind River's embedded operating systems.

"Chip maker and now software player Intel tried on Tuesday to explain the finer points of its $7.7bn acquisition of security software maker McAfee, which closed at the end of February after jumping some European Commission regulatory hurdles."

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Source: The Register
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Asus

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.

A trio of keyboards from a name you've never heard

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2011 - 06:28 PM |

Koribo is apparently a new company that wants to change the way you interact with your computer, or rather your HTPC. To that end three keyboards were introduced, the Leira, Vivar and Mini which are all wireless and intended not for the gamer but for those who prefer passive entertainment.  Whether you prefer a touchpad or trackball in addition to your keyboard or if you want a keyboard that approaches the size of a remote control you can see how well they work in Neoseeker's roundup.

"We're taking a look at a trio of keyboards from Koribo, a relatively unheard of name in the input devices market. Their Leira, Vivar and Mini keyboards feature built-in solutions for mouse control ranging from touchpads to trackballs, and are designed for the HTPC and media center markets. One of them even works with the Xbox 360. Hit the link to see what we made of these distinctly shaped keyboard/mouse devices in our latest review:"

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Source: Neoseeker

Make your own big screen out of random small ones with the Junkyard Jumbotron

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2011 - 11:14 AM |

Over at MAKE:Blog you can get a look at a project out of MIT called the Junkyard Jumbotron.  Simply assemble your group of internet connected displays be they smartphones or laptops and assemble them into the grouping you want, and displayed visit a unique URL generated for you by the project that will display a QR code on each device.  Take a picture and fire it off to the project and your image or stream will be displayed over the devices as if they were one big, oddly shaped monitor.

"Rick Borovoy of MIT Media Lab’s Civic Media Project developed the Junkyard Jumbotron, which makes it easy to turn a bunch of small computer displays into one big one. Setting it up is as simple as opening a web browser on each device, loading their website, and taking a photo of the arrangement. After that, their software figures out which screen is where, and starts streaming data to each device’s screen directly over the web."

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Source: Hack a Day

The effect of the Japanese quake on your tech addiction

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2011 - 11:54 AM |

Digitimes has put together a concise look at the effect the quake in Japan and the following tsunamis have had on the various fabrication plants located near the epicentre.  The plants affected are not necessarily producers of final products, they are more fabricators of parts, albeit very important parts such as RAM chips.  Most companies have had their assets survive more or less intact, in many cases it is the damage to the ports and runways that will prevent new raw materials from arriving at the plants for processing. 

SemiAccurate reports that Elpida's two plants are unharmed and The Inquirer reports that Toshiba's plants shut down briefly and lost some wafers to damage; they also mention shutdowns at Philips and Sony plants.

"Market research firm IHS iSuppli has given its commentary and analysis on how significant the Japan earthquake could impact the global electronics production.

Japan in 2010 accounted for 13.9% of all global electronic equipment factory revenues, according to a preliminary IHS iSuppli estimate. This includes manufacturing of all electronic equipment, including computers, consumer electronics devices and communications gear. Japan produced US$216.6 billion worth of electronic equipment in 2010, compared to US$1.6 billion worldwide.

Japan also accounted for 16.5% of global consumer electronics equipment factory revenues in 2010, IHS said. The country represented 10.2% of worldwide data processing revenue in 2010.

In 2010, Japanese suppliers accounted for more than one fifth of global semiconductor production, IHS noted. Companies headquartered in Japan generated US$63.3 billion in microchip revenues in 2010, representing 20.8% of the worldwide market. While not all of this actual production is located in Japan a large percentage is produced in manufacturing facilities in Japan.

The major impact on Japan's semiconductor production is not likely to be direct damage to production facilities, but disruption to the supply chain, IHS indicated. Suppliers are likely to encounter difficulties in getting raw materials supplied and distributed and shipping products out. This is likely to cause some disruption in semiconductor supplies from Japan during the next two weeks, IHS believes.

DRAM manufacturing in Japan accounts for 10% of the worldwide supply based on wafer production, IHS said. The two major DRAM fabs in Japan, operated by US based-Micron and Japan's Elpida, have not been directly affected. As for NAND flash, Japanese companies mainly Toshiba account for 35% of global chip production in terms of revenues, IHS added.

Japanese headquartered companies in 2010 ranked number three in semiconductor production among the world's major chip manufacturing regions, according to IHS. The Asia-Pacific region outside of Japan was number one, the Americas ranked number two and Europe/Middle East/Africa was fourth. Of the 300 semiconductor suppliers tracked worldwide by IHS, 39 are based in Japan.

Japan in 2010 accounted for 6.2% of the world's US$86.3 billion in global production of large-sized LCD panels in 2010, that is, panels 10-inches and larger in the diagonal dimension, IHS said. Japan also accounts for 14% of LCD TV panel production. The country is home to many higher-generation fabs, including the world's only 10G LCD fab operated by Sharp. The Sharp fab has not been directly impacted by the quake, given the remote location of the fab. Only one large LCD fab may be in the zone of peripheral impact by the quake.

The more important impact may be on Japan's production of components for LCD panels, IHS expressed concerns. Japan accounts for a very high share of components uses in LCD panels and LCD-based products, including glass, color filters, polarizers, cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs)."


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Source: Digitimes