Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | February 9, 2012 - 09:36 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: WOA, windows, arm
Microsoft has been ridiculously cagey about the discussion of Windows 8 on ARM. At last month’s CES trade show there was a disturbingly low amount of information. Available information about Windows on ARM was in abrupt demonstrations performed by Microsoft spokespeople or behind glass display cases.
Today Steven Sinofsky of Microsoft released quite a bit of information -- over 8500 words even if you exclude image captions and section titles -- about Windows on ARM (officially named “WOA”). Feel free to read for yourself at MSDN’s blog, or keep on reading for our brief summary.
Actually most of the blog post is about building Windows 8 on ARM.
We reported that Windows on ARM has been classified as stable for approximately two weeks at this point. Our questions about WOA availability were answered, and more: WOA is intended to be released simultaneously as Windows 8 for x86-64. WOA will also not be available standalone and you must purchase a device with it pre-installed.
From the chipset through the firmware and drivers, the work is optimized to be great for WOA. Partners are working hard on creative industrial designs and form factors that will include more than tablets. These are all under development today.
The PC will come with the OS preinstalled, and all drivers and supporting software. WOA will not be available as a software-only distribution, so you never have to worry about which DVD to install and if it will work on a particular PC.
Applications written for Windows on ARM can only be distributed through Windows Update or the Windows Store. Being an advocate of the open PC I find this quite unnerving as it quickly creates situations where art becomes at the mercy of the platform owner similar to what is seen on the consoles. That said, it also seems to suggest that Microsoft is not intending WOA to be fill all the roles of a typical PC.
Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote will be available for WOA as Office 15. The typical file explorer and desktop will also be available for WOA. Mouse and keyboard support is also available for Windows on ARM. These will all be available within Office so the user can control there their files will be stored.
Windows 8 for x86-64 will be released as an open Beta at the end of the month. Microsoft will also release, by invite only, devices for developers. The intent of course is to give developers time to create applications for WOA. You should not expect those devices to be any more than development tools designed to prevent day-one apps from being developed in a single day.
Subject: Systems | February 6, 2012 - 11:25 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
AVADirect, a leading provider of custom notebooks, is the first to offer Clevo's P270WM mobile gaming notebook.
The future is here, and AVADirect is readily expanding its offerings with hardware to prepare for it. For those who need ultimate performance on the go, AVADirect can feed your need for mobile speed with the Clevo P270WM. Based off of the Intel X79 chipset and Sandy Bridge-E processors, end-users can expect performance increases as much as 35-50 percent while keeping current and ahead of the curve for their much needed productivity, efficiency, and entertainment. Promising new features give the Clevo P270WM a name and reputation that is surely to leave a lasting impression for those who have it at their fingertips. The industry rookie, relative to age rather than experience, has no limits to its depth of functionality.
The P270WM's design shapes the ground we stand on by creating new standards for mobile desktop replacements. The revolutionary X79-fueled P270WM, being the successor of the world renowned Clevo X7200, supports all of the functionality provided by its older brother. Three 9.5 inch hard drives, with optional RAID, two USB 3.0 ports, SLI support, HD LED screen, HDMI 1.4a support, and the recently re-designed express card slot for third-party expansion are still key features of the newly offered Clevo P270WM Gaming Notebook.
The Nvidia GTX 580M 2GB comes standard in the Clevo P270WM and offers SLI support for gaming duality. The GPU offers 384 CUDA cores, or 768 when in SLI. Furthermore, the victor of desktop replacements offers the Quadro 5010M 4GB for the elitist AutoCAD or developing engineer. Combined with the support of Quad-channel DDR3 SODIMM RAM and speeds up to 1866Mhz, creating a configuration suitable for your tasks is as simple as a few clicks on AVADirect's website. The board features a total of four SODIMM slots expandable up to 32GB. The P270WM includes full 3D support, which has never been provided in a desktop replacement until now. End-users will more importantly be interested in the first-ever backlit keyboard integrated in the P270WM notebook. Clevo has not received outstanding remarks in the past for their lack of aesthetically pleasing designs, but a backlit keyboard changes everything enthusiasts have grown to know about Clevo's design.
AVADirect will begin to accept pre-orders for the X79 high-end gaming notebook as of today. The base price starts at around $3000.00 and will feature the Intel core i7 3930K, GTX 580M 2B, 4GB of DDR3 RAM at 1333Mhz, 750GB 7200RPM hard disk, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit.
Subject: Systems | February 1, 2012 - 04:10 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, interlagos, bulldozer, supermicro, opteron 6200
Over at The Inquirer you can take a look at the performance of the Opteron 6274 as a server chip, as opposed to the desktop benchmarks that have made up the bulk of Bulldozer reviews on the web. SuperMicro has assembled a server containing a dual-socket Opteron 6274 for a total of 32 cores and 64GB of ECC DDR3-1333 RAM across eight channels running on 64-bit Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. While the machine was quite powerful it still has difficulty keeping up with Intel, for instance its performance on CineBench was about the same as provided by an X5680 Westmere Xeon which is not Intel's best silicon. On the plus side, the scaling for multithreaded applications was quite good.
"IS BULLDOZER better in a workstation than a desktop? Let's see if it can be.
AMD's Bulldozer chip, while eagerly awaited, didn't really have a stellar debut as a mainstream - or high end, for that matter - desktop processor, still having a way to go before seriously challenging the incumbent Intel. The core, cache and memory performance all need a bit more power, although recent news such as Microsoft Windows' kernel patches do seem to help a little bit towards extracting more oomph from the unusual 'two integer units sharing one floating-point' approach."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Alienware X51 Launch Details @ Hardware Heaven
- ZOTAC ZBOX AD04 Plus AMD Fusion Mini PC Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Sony Z Series @ Kitguru
- Ultimate SFF Lanparty Machine: Intel Xeon E5 (SNB-EP 8C/16T) on an ASUS Rampage IV GENE @ VR-Zone
Subject: General Tech, Systems | January 26, 2012 - 11:45 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, htpc, hd, gpu, broadcom
As reported earlier, the Raspberry Pi is a small computer intended to run Linux and is made to be portable and able to be powered by USB. The small board is based on the Broadcom BCM2835 chipset, which includes an ARM 11 CPU and a dual core VideoCore IV graphics card co processor. The Raspberry Pi further includes connections for HDMI, component output, and USB ports. The higher tier $35 model will further feature an Ethernet jack and twice the RAM (512 MB).
The Raspberry Pi will soon be available for sale and if the company behind the device- The Raspberry Pi Foundation- is to be believed, the GPU in the little Linux computer will pack quite a punch for its size (and cost). In a recent Digital Foundry interview with Raspberry Pi Executive Director Eben Upton reported on by Eurogamer, Upton made several claims about the Raspberry Pi’s graphics capabilities. He explained that the Broadcom BCM2835’s VideoCore IV GPU is a tile mode architecture that has been configured with an emphasis on shader performance. Upton said “it does very well on compute-intensive benchmarks, and should double iPhone 4S performance across a range of content."
The comparison to the iPhone 4S relates to his further claims that the Raspberry Pi GPU is the best on the market and can best both the iPhone 4S’s PowerVR (Imagination Technologies) based graphics and even the mighty Tegra 2 in fill rate performance. Rather large claims for sure; however, we do have some independent indication that his claims may not be wholly inflated. The coders behind XBMC, open source media center software that allows users to play a variety of media formats, have demonstrated their XBMC software running on the Raspberry Pi. They showed the Raspberry Pi playing a 1080p blu ray movie at a smooth frame rate thanks to the Broadcom GPU being capable of 1080p 30 FPS H.264 hardware accelerated decoding. You can see the Raspberry Pi in action in the video below.
The little Raspberry Pi is starting to look quite promising for HTPC (and even light gaming) use, especially for the price! At $25 and $35 respectively, the Raspberry Pi should see quite the following in the modding, enthusiast, and education community.
Subject: Systems | January 24, 2012 - 04:03 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: htpc, Silverstone, SST-GD06B
Some HTPC builders envision their machine handling more than just media streaming; why not play WoW or KOTOR on your TV? This can lead to some frustration if they chose an HTPC case that aesthetically fits their living room but cannot physically fit the components they need to drive the machine. SilverStone has met their desire with the SST-GD06B, which resembles a stereo component yet at 17.3" (W) x 5.9" (H) x 13.4" (D) it is big enough to give you a lot more choice in the components you can utilize. For instance it will take an ATX PSU of up to 5.9" in length, five internal drives and a CPU cooler of up to 120mm if you leave out the optical drive. You can have up to 5 expansion cards in the case, with four of those slots able to accept a card up to 11" in length. The only real fault that Benchmark Reviews found was the lack of IR support and a bundled remote control.
"With these smaller cases, space is always an issue. This is becoming increasingly critical as high definition content becomes ubiquitous. Not only do we want to view our new content in more pixels than our brain can even process, but we want to upscale the old content, or view it in 3D, and do it upside down, right side up and inside out. While you're at it give me dish, cable, recording, streaming, email, gaming and the kitchen sink. Oh...and it needs to fit in a single box on my entertainment system. Well, SilverStone is at least trying to provide the box, the rest is up to you. They've expanded on past models to fit even more powerful toys inside your HTPC. Read on to see how model SST-GD06B crams the performance you demand and puts it on your shelf."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Soundgraph iMON Smartbay @ techPowerUp
- A.C.Ryan VEOLO Smart Android Hub Review @ Real World Labs
- Pivos AIOS HD Media Player Review @MissingRemote
- ASUS O!Play Mini Plus MediaPlayer @ Guru of 3D
Configuration and Exterior
Puget Systems has slowly grown to be one of our favorite system builders for those looking to buy rather than build their own PC. Using off-the-shelf components might seem like a negative but in our mind mixing an upgrade path with small niche features like noise dampening material and a great overall customer buying experience really hit the spot. For the Sandy Bridge-E launch late in 2011 Puget wanted to send over something just a bit different than normal - a workstation class computer.
The result is the Genesis I based on the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition processor from Intel, the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe motherboard, 32GB of memory and 250GB Intel 510 SSD.
Puget Systems Build Process
One of my favorite things about the Puget Systems system purchase process is the customer service you get. The website isn't anything unusual but is completely functional for even novice users. Despite my knowledge of hardware I actually appreciate the fact that Puget does NOT inundate buyers with a selection of 30 motherboards and even the graphics card options are limited to a handful of selected "best choice" by the staff.
We have previously taken a look at Serenity and Deluge systems from Puget and have been impressed with the build quality and attention to detail they apply. Each build is continually updated throughout the process and communicated to the buyer via emails with a site portal for photos of your specific rig and even including thermal images of the PC running under load and idle. It is nice touches like this that really show the company cares about its customers and wants to them to feel attached to the process.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems | January 18, 2012 - 07:25 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: GTX 555, GT 545, dell, alienware
Alienware has been long known for two things: having interesting case designs, and being prohibitively expensive. For the last five years or so, Alienware has been a subsidiary of Dell to displace their gaming XPS product line into a non-gaming higher-end line. They have recently announced their X51 product line as Jeremy noted earlier, but what does that mean for someone interested in PC Gaming?
Like how it looks? Dude, you’re getting a Dell!
Jeremy’s post went through the range of base models and their associated prices. The main product page listed the features of the higher-end base unit along with two other points: the chassis can be vertically or horizontally mounted; and you can upgrade your core components easily. While the latter statement is great to make, it should also be noted that with a maximum 330W power supply, your upgrade options -- while potentially easy -- are quite limited.
The choice in video cards is split between the GeForce GT 545 and the GeForce GTX 555: these are both OEM-only GPUs and thus benchmarks are at this time difficult to find. The GT 545 contains 144 CUDA cores clocked at 870/1740 MHz with the memory clocked at 1998 MHz. Should you opt for the higher-end GTX 555, your GPU contains exactly twice the CUDA cores (288) clocked slightly slower at 776/1553 MHz and a slightly lower memory clock of 1914 MHz.
Dude, you regretting a Dell?
In terms of Alienware-specific perks, Alienware has developed the “Alienware Command Center”; this application allows you to customize the lighting on your chassis as well as control programs and tweak your system. While a nice value-addition, it is obviously more gimmicky than practical; but really, isn’t that a large portion of why you are purchasing an Alienware computer? At least they look to be decent gimmicks. The price also does not appear to be too high compared to what you are getting from what I can tell. You would obviously be in a better position to assemble a desktop yourself and probably even commission your local small business computer store to do it for you, but the Alienware’s price does not appear to be in a distant galaxy.
So what do you think?
Subject: Systems | January 18, 2012 - 12:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: X51, dell, alienware
(edit: the models were corrected)
The base model is $700 and features:
- 2nd Gen Intel Core i3-2120 3MB 3.3GHz, 4GB DDR 1333Mhz Dual Channel memory
- 1GB GDDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GT 545 video card with 280W PSU
- Slot-loading Dual Layer DVD Burner
- Integrated Wireless LAN card (standard)
The high end model is priced at $1149 and features:
- 2nd Gen Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB 1333Mhz Dual Channel memory
- 1GB GDDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 555 video card with 330W PSU
- Slot-loading Dual Layer DVD burner
- Integrated Wireless LAN card (standard)
You can go bigger than that with the X51 so if you are looking to buy a boutique PC check out Alienware's X51.
Also, check out Scott's complimentary article to this one.
Subject: Systems | January 13, 2012 - 02:40 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: htpc, passive cooling, arctic, MC001-BD
Arctic (not Cooling) is a company which currently offers five different Atom powered HTPCs, one of which Overclockers Online got their hands on. The MC001-BD has a 1.6Ghz Atom D525, an HD5430 GPU, 4GB DDR3, 500GB HDD and a 4x Blu-Ray drive; what it does not have is a TV Tuner which will cost you an extra $30 to include. It is also not running Windows MCE, instead you get a full installation of Windows 7 Home Premium. Although this machine will suffer if you attempt to run general productivity software it is powerful enough for perfect HD media playback and the strictly passive cooling will allow you to unobtrusively place this machine with the rest of your A/V equipment.
"There haven’t been very many products in the market that has truly fired me up and got me as excited as the MC001-BD. Many companies have tried to make HTPC that are compact and quiet but I usually find that I can do better for less. The MC001-BD is probably the first where I wouldn’t be able to do that. With over ten years experience in system cooling they were able to engineer an Entertainment Center that was both compact and passively cooled."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Asus O!Play Mini HD Media Player Review @ Tweaknews
- Western Digital TV Live Media Player @ XSReviews
- Eminent EM 7280 RT3 HD media player 320GB @ XSReviews
- PowerColor JustSling @ techPowerUp
- SilverStone Grandia DG06 HTPC Chassis @ MissingRemote
Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 12, 2012 - 06:21 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: CES, ultrathin, trinity, piledriver, PC, notebook, low power, amd, 17 watt
Intel is the driving force behind the Ultrabook platform, a category of thin and light notebooks that are ideally less than $1,000 USD and deliver solid mobile performance and battery life. AMD is still playing catch up in CPU performance; however, they have been moderately successful with their Llano APU parts due to the better integrated GPU versus Intel's graphics processor. With Trinity, the successor to Llano, AMD is claiming up to 25% faster CPU performance and a 50% increase in graphics processor performance, and all while sipping half the power of current Llano chips.
The 17 watt TDP Trinity die.
It seems that AMD has seen the Ultrabook boom that Intel is experiencing and wants a piece of the action. Thanks to the Trinity performance improvements and power sipping TDPs, AMD is confident that it can design and market thin and light notebooks of their own. They plan to market their notebooks as "Ultrathins." Exact hardware specifications of the Ultrathins are not known. We do know that they will be powered by dual and quad core 17 watt TDP versions of the AMD Trinity APU, which you can read more about here. The company is planning for its Ultrathins to start at $500 USD, a few hundred less than the lowest cost Ultrabooks from Intel. Beyond that, we can only speculate. Fortunately, we may not have to wait long for more information as AMD plans to reveal more information about their Ultrathin strategy next month at their financial analyst meeting, according to Ars.
A Trinity powered laptop at CES
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
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