Almost on Target…

Another week, and another runner up...

sa logo 63x23 Almost on Target...This week was packed with hardware reviews, yet more slide leaks,  and an a couple of odd ball product launches. Things will probably start to quiet down in the next couple weeks as everyone gets ready to release their quarterly results. But whatever the case, the unicorns at S|A are acting mighty feisty.

Microsoft seems to be taking the initiative in the browser wars lately; this week it released an IE10 Preview and announced that IE9 would be the last browser to support Vista. Opera also put out a new beta, and Safari is rumored to have a do-not-track-mode in it’s upcoming release. Now if only OS competition was this rapid and fierce. It might be a nice change from the muffled moaning that OS updates have turned into.

Sapphire announced a pair of HD 58xx based graphics cards this week. The cards have a new cooling solution and sport a much lower price tag than their launch day MSRP. If you were looking for yet another exceptional, if antiquated, GPU to crowd the $100-$200 price range, it looks like you’ve found your winner.

Mike Chin over at SilentPCReview looked at HP’s new Proliant MircoServer. It seems that this bread boxed sized server, fills the same role a highend NAS would, and is relatively quiet. Most of you might find it entertaining to learn that this box runs of a 12 Watt dual-core Athlon Neo, fancy that.

Intel’s going through the motions in preparation for the releases of its atom based consumer electronic devices. Too bad that it’s already game over for atom. But maybe Intel can manage keep these devices on life support like Itanium. On second thought, let’s hope not.

A sore spot on AMD’s GPGPU initiative for the past few years has been the extremely popular distributed computing project Folding@home. Despite being the first manufacturer of GPU’s supported by F@H, Radeon cards lag far behind their Geforce counterparts in terms of performance in this application. Michael Hoeing of HardwareCanucks takes a look at the performance improvements the OpenCl based GPU3 clients have brought to AMD GPUs. It seems that even in-light of a doubling in performance on AMD’s hardware, the gap still hasn’t been closed with Nvidia’s line up.

Quite a few Intel roadmaps seem to be making their way around the Internet as of late. It would appear that things won’t get interesting for Intel’s highend segment until Q4 with Sandybridge-E. On the other hand, AMD’s Bulldozer only has to beat the I7-990X to take the crown. But that’s probably expecting too much from a company that’s attacking almost every segment of the market with new chips, inside of an 8 month period. You can’t win them all, and that goes both ways.

It seems April 19th will be a big day for the lowend GPU market with the 6450, the 6570, and the 6670 all hard launching. Digitimes seems to think that AMD’s HD 7xxx series chips is going into mass production in May. I think it’s fair to say that it will be a miracle if anyone’s 28nm is ready this early in the year. We hear that S|A is having better luck with their unicorn wrangling than anyone is with 28nm in April. Whether or not Digitimes is right, we probably won’t see the 7xxx series until September at the earliest.

In a semi-related news item; this week Cnet’s Martin LeMonica covered recent research into a number of different emerging solar energy generation technologies. One of the more interesting technologies discussed was catalyst-coated silicon nano wires, being used to split water into Hydrogen and Oxygen. This seems like a creative way to apply nanometer scale silicon manipulating techniques, to energy generation (or more likely transportation), rather than energy consumption.

David Kanter of RealWorldTech attempted to create a Gflop/s by 3Dmarks based performance indexing model for mobile GPUs. He managed to get the numbers to line up, in a semi-accurate sort of way, to show that Gflop/s within the same architecture can give you a pretty good estimate of the 3Dmark performance of a given part. As a side note, GPU scaling articles seem to be the new black this week.

Techreport’s Cyril Kowaliski got the drop on some new info from one of Intel’s videos on game development. It seems that Intel’s Ivy Bridge will offer Triple monitor support around the same time that Nvidia’s Kepler comes to market. Is this just Intel’s mammoth resources at work, or is Nvidia’s “midlife kicker” strategy only strong enough to maintain feature parity with Intel’s HD Graphics…

Here’s an article that touched on one of the decisions I had to make recently. Marko Nesovic of InsideHW tries to answer the question of whether to replace your aging HD 4850 with an HD 6850 or pick up another HD 4850 and go CrossfireX. I went with an HD 6850, just as this article suggests you do, but it seems that dual HD 4850′s wouldn’t have been a bad choice either.

Anti-Aliasing was the subject of a really delightful article by Don Woligroski on Tom’s Hardware. The article reconfirmed the prevailing wisdom that anything past 4x MSAA isn’t worth bothering with. It also looked at some odd ball techniques like Nvidia’s now defunct Quincunx Anti-Aliasing and AMD’s MLAA. It seems that AA is a relatively mature technology now, let’s just hope that the continuing innovation we’ve seen in the past continues well into the future. S|A

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 Almost on Target...
Thomas Ryan is based in Seattle, Washington. Thomas first began to appreciate the wonders of the semiconductor industry while doing research on his previous favorite hobby, PC gaming. Having co- purchased his first computer at the ripe old age of 11, with $150 and the help of Craigslist he's been buying and building computers ever since.