Corsair makes direct contact

CeBIT 2010 Heat sinks, flash and SSDs

Corsair LogoCORSAIR HAS SOME new toys at CeBIT along the usual lines of flash, memory and power supplies. Nothing was revolutionary, but all were updated in some useful ways.

Corsair Voyager GTR

Yellow means GTR

The brightest bit in the Corsair booth was the Flash Voyager GTR, a searing yellow flash stick. It comes in traditional Corsair Voyager coke-bottle shape and a new flat and angular version. Both are said to be ultrafast quad-channel USB2 memory sticks, the 128GB model is the one with the new shape.

Corsair claims that the GTR will do 34+MBps and is the fastest USB2 drive out there. Unfortunately, when you make such claims at a conference, reality has a way of pulling out a large fish and slapping you in the face with it, even if you were not aware of the fish wielding agent a few halls away. At CeBIT, SuperTalent was demoing the Express drive running at 43MBps read when plugged into a USB2 port, and three times that on USB3.

While the GTR comes in higher capacity, 128G, and definitely looks cooler, but I can’t see USB2 drives being appealing to the enthusiast any more. The speed doesn’t warrant a high performance moniker either, so until Corsair has a USB3 variant, color me unimpressed.

That brings us to the second USB stick that Corsair has, and this one is tantalizingly close to awesome. It is called the Padlock 2, and if the name doesn’t tip you off, it is an encrypted/secure drive. While there are tons of these on the market, Corsair steps out by putting a 10 key pinpad on the drive itself, FSCKing brilliant!

Padlock 2

Corsair Padlock 2 drive

No, really, it is a great idea. Plug it in, and the drive is not recognized until you type in your password. Nothing stored on the PC, nothing stored on the stick or in a file, it is hardware, and there is no back door to get around the encryption. Sort of.

The one thing that some would consider a flaw is a very common mistake in the security field, if the key is lost, you can format the drive and start over. All the data is gone, but the drive is still useful, so it has value if stolen. If the drive was a paperweight without the key, that would make it useless to any thieves whether they were after the data or after the stick itself.

Corsair’s response is that petty thieves generally aren’t smart enough to know the difference between a useless drive and a good one, so they will steal it anyway. This is absolutely true, and while it denies you the somewhat cathartic “I spit in your eye from the grave” vengeance when the thieves realize they have a very expensive dead drive, the feature should be there.

There are two things that Corsair needs to do on the next generation Padlock, USB3 and have an option to lock out formatting. The USB3 is obvious, USB2 drives are so 2009 that it hurts, but the more important one is make security actually secure. Padlock 3 need to have an option to lock out formatting without the pin, even if it is not on by default. If Corsair does this in 64GB or more capacities, Padlock 3 would unquestionably be my flash drive of choice.

Getting back to what they do best, high performance DRAM, there are now three colors of Dominator memory, green, blue and the old standby red. Green has the AMD BEMP profiles on the DIMM, blue has Intel XMP profiles, and red looks by far the best. Based on that alone, you should buy the red Dominators and learn how to OC, you will be better off for it.

As a side rant, Intel and AMD really need to stop being stupid and combine their OCing profiles. Before when it was Nvidia versus the world. Nvidia milked the OEMs and users while the AMD and Intel pissing match kept the competition distracted.

Nvidia is now out of the chipset game, and there is no need for competing standards. It still hurts users, slows sales, and does nothing more than a solid multi-vendor standard would. AMD and Intel should stop behaving like petulant children, and think of their core enthusiasts.

Corsair A50 and A70

A50 in front, A70 in back

If you are looking for a neat heatsink and fan, take a look at the new Corsair A50 and A70. Both use what are called ‘direct contact’ heat pipes because the heat pipes are on the the bottom of the slug that sits on top of the CPU. This design takes away one thermal barrier and makes them very efficient. The A50 has three heat pipes while the A70 has four and a second fan. Both should do a good job of cooling anything but the most extreme overclocks.

As an aside, SemiAccurate asked a few cooling experts why everyone doesn’t have a direct contact HSF on the market, and the answer was that they are hard to make. The heatpipes are pressed into the block, and there is a lot of room for things to go wrong. You can damage the heat pipes or end up with one or two not sitting flush with the aluminum slab.

While those kinds of problems translate into higher costs to manufacture, once made the direct contact HSFs are likely better than the ‘old way’. It looks like Corsair has figured out the problems with manufacturing, and that is a good thing. Expect the A50 and A70 in about six weeks,

Last up are the Corsair SSDs, the Reactor and Nova. They are both new versions of the old SSDs with mild updates. The Reactor uses a Sandforce controller and comes in 60GB and 120GB capacities, while the Nova is an Indilinx and has 64GB and 128GB capacities. Both are a bit cheaper and faster than their last generation brethren, so it is a win-win.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate