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Games

Submission + - PhysX API mired by poor optimization, x87 code (realworldtech.com)

EconolineCrush writes: Nvidia has long pushed its PhysX game physics middleware as a prime candidate for GPU acceleration. However, it seems that the company may have also taken steps to ensure that PhysX performs poorly when run on a modern CPU. Despite the fact that physics calculations lend themselves to parallel processing, games tend to implement PhysX with a single thread. PhysX also relies largely on x87 code rather than SSE instructions. The latter should run faster and make life easier for developers, and Nvidia has taken advantage of similar instructions with its console-specific PhysX implementations. But not on the PC, which smells like a willful attempt to hinder PhysX performance on anything but an Nvidia GPU.
Data Storage

Submission + - SSDs clash with hard drives in value comparison (techreport.com)

EconolineCrush writes: SSDs hardly offer compelling value on the cost-per-gigabyte scale. But what if one considers performance per dollar? This article takes a closer look at the value proposition offered by today's most common SSDs, mixing raw performance data with each drive's cost, both per gigabyte and as a component of a complete system. An even dozen SSD configurations are compared, and results from a collection of mechanical hard drives provides additional context. The data are laid out in detailed scatter plots that clearly illustrate the most favorable intersections of price and performance, and you might be surprised to see just how well the SSDs fare versus traditional hard drives. A few of the SSDs offer much better value than their solid-state competition, too.
AMD

Submission + - Build guide outlines cheap quad-, six-core PCs (techreport.com)

J. Dzhugashvili writes: Slapping together a lean, mean gaming machine has never been easier, especially with the trend of bargain-basement pricing in the CPU market. The latest edition of The Tech Report's build guide outlines a hexa-core gaming rig that costs only $850 to put together, not to mention a quad-core hot rod for $550. Both configurations have DirectX 11 graphics, bells and whistles like 6Gbps Serial ATA and USB 3.0, and quiet, highly efficient power supplies with equally discreet enclosures. Considering what you can get with careful component selection, a Phillips-head screwdriver, and some elbow grease, it's a wonder anyone still buys overpriced gaming PCs from Dell or HP.
Data Storage

Submission + - SandForce boosts capacity for desktop SSDs (techreport.com)

EconolineCrush writes: SandForce's SF-1200 is one of the most intriguing new flash controllers to hit the SSD market. Due to aggressive overprovisioning, the first wave of consumer-grade drives only squeezed 100GB of user capacity from 128GB of flash. SandForce has since dialed back the overprovisioning a little in its firmware, fueling a new batch of SSDs with more competitive 120GB capacities. As this review of Corsair's 120GB Force F120 illustrates, the increase in capacity has consequences for both longevity and performance. Desktop users looking for an SSD to house their OS and applications probably won't be fazed, but those contemplating the SF-1200 as a low-cost alternative to enterprise-class SSDs are probably better off with higher overprovisioning.
Data Storage

Submission + - Hybrid Seagate hard drive has performance issues (techreport.com)

EconolineCrush writes: The launch of Seagate's Momentus XT hard drive made news on Slashdot last week, and for good reason. While not the first hybrid hard drive on the market, the XT is the only one that sheds Windows' ReadyDrive scheme for an OS-independent approach Seagate calls Adaptive Memory. While early coverage of the XT was largely positive, more detailed analysis reveals a number of performance issues, including poor sequential read throughput and an apparent problem with command queuing. In a number of tests, the XT is actually slower than Seagate's year-old Momentus 7200.4, a drive that costs $40 less!
Intel

Submission + - Intel targets AMD with affordable unlocked CPUs (techreport.com) 3

EconolineCrush writes: For years, AMD has catered to gamers and enthusiasts with mid-range Black Edition processors whose unlocked multipliers make overclocking easy. Intel has traditionally reserved unlocked multipliers for its ultra-expensive Extreme CPUs, but it has now brought the feature to affordable models that compete directly with AMD's most popular processors. The Core i5-655K and Core i7-875K have two and four cores, respectively, and they're priced at just $216 and $342. It appears that both will easily hit speeds in excess of 4GHz with air cooling. Surprisingly, even at stock speeds, the i7-875K offers better performance and power efficiency per dollar than just about any other desktop CPU out there.
Data Storage

Submission + - USB 3.0 flash drive has internal RAID array (techreport.com)

EconolineCrush writes: Next-gen USB 3.0 ports are already common on mid-range and high-end motherboards, and they're slowly starting to trickle out into laptops. But what about drives that can take advantage of the faster interface? Super Talent's RAIDDrive is one of the first USB 3.0 flash drives on the market, and its internal RAID array is certainly capable of exploiting a SuperSpeed USB link. Unfortunately, the drive's body is so large that it blocks adjacent USB ports. The casing is also crafted from smudgetastic glossy plastic, which is a tough pill to swallow when faced with the prospect of paying $250 for a 32GB thumb drive.
Intel

Submission + - Intel announces low-voltage, 32-nm mobile CPUs (techreport.com)

EconolineCrush writes: Intel has announced a new line of Consumer Ultra-Low Voltage mobile CPUs designed for thin-and-light 10-13" notebooks. Fabricated on the same 32-nm process as the company's flagship Core i7-980X Extreme desktop chip, the new mobile line spans multiple models between budget Celeron and Pentium models and more expensive Core i3, i5, and i7 offerings. Intel claims a TDP of just 17W for the new CPUs, which is less than half the power draw of standard notebook chips. Systems based on the new CPUs are expected to arrive on the market starting early next month.
AMD

Submission + - Asus budget ultraportable notebook sold sans OS (techreport.com)

EconolineCrush writes: Tired of paying the Windows tax on notebooks? Asus' Eee PC 1201T budget ultraportable comes without a traditional operating system and sells for only $380. The 12" system has promising specifications, sporting an Athlon Neo processor, Radeon HD 3200 graphics, Bluetooth, and 802.11n Wi-Fi. It weighs just 3.2lbs with a 6-cell battery and can even handle light gaming duties. However, battery life in Ubuntu is considerably shorter than it is under Windows. Are there any better options for would-be laptop Linux users?
Data Storage

Submission + - SandForce SSD controller put to the test (techreport.com)

EconolineCrush writes: A solid-state drive's controller chip largely determines its destiny, and now there's a new one on the market in SandForce's SF-1200. The chip uses a secret blend of compression, deduplication, encryption, and RAID-like redundancy that promises to enable cheaper flash technologies and extend drive lifespans. And it's no slouch in the performance department, offering phenomenal random-write throughput. The only problems? A relatively high cost per gigabyte due to aggressive overprovisioning and an apparent issue with transfers that don't take advantage of command queuing. The controller looks promising overall, and its SF-1500 twin has some interesting potential for enterprise applications.
AMD

AMD Multi-Display Tech Has Problems, Potential 138

EconolineCrush writes "While AMD's Eyefinity multi-display gaming tech is undeniably impressive at first glance, digging deeper reveals key limitations. Some games work well, others not at all, and many are simply better suited to specific screen configurations. A three-way setup looks to be ideal from a compatibility perspective, and given current LCD prices, it's really not all that expensive. But would you take that over a single high-resolution display or a giant HDTV?"
Displays

Submission + - AMD multi-display tech has problems, potential (techreport.com) 2

EconolineCrush writes: While AMD's Eyefinity multi-display gaming tech is undeniably impressive at first glance, digging deeper reveals key limitations. Some games work well, others not at all, and many are simply better suited to specific screen configurations. A three-way setup looks to be ideal from a compatibility perspective, and given current LCD prices, it's really not all that expensive. But would you take one over a single high-resolution display or a giant HDTV?
Data Storage

Submission + - Intel's X25-V SSD a good value for boot drives (techreport.com)

EconolineCrush writes: The cost per gigabyte of solid-state drives has never been competitive with their mechanical brethren. However, even budget SSDs can deliver phenomenal value if you consider IOps per dollar. Intel's X25-V is a perfect example. The drive offers impressive throughput with both multi-tasking and multi-user loads. At 40GB, it's also big enough for a neat and tidy OS and applications drive. Sequential write speeds are a clear weakness, but combining a few drives in RAID can help on that front and yield even more performance elsewhere. At $115 a pop, why not?
AMD

Submission + - AMD undercuts Intel with six-core Phenom IIs (techreport.com) 1

EconolineCrush writes: As Slashdot readers are no doubt aware, Intel's latest "Gulftown" Core i7-980X is an absolute beast of a CPU. But its six cores don't come cheap; the 980X sells for over a grand, which is more than it would cost to build an entire system based on one of AMD's new six-core CPUs. The Phenom II X6 line starts at just $200 and includes a new Turbo capability that can opportunistically raise the clock speed of up to three cores when the others are idle. Although not as fast as the 980X, the the new X6s are quick enough to offer compelling value versus even like-priced Intel CPUs. And the kicker: the X6s will work in a good number of older Socket AM2+ and AM3 motherboards with only a BIOS update.
Intel

Submission + - Intel goes after ARM with new Atom Z600 series (techreport.com)

EconolineCrush writes: Despite fueling a netbook revolution, the Atom processor has always been destined for smaller devices. Intel's pint-sized platform moves firmly into tablet and smartphone territory with the new Atom Z600 series, whose power draw has been cut dramatically. This detailed look at the "Moorestown" platform explores the extensive power-saving measures Intel employed to bring about a claimed 50X reduction in idle power draw. The article also delves into improvements to the Atom's underlying system architecture, its integrated graphics component, and its x86 CPU core. x86 compatibility looks to be the new Atom's biggest asset over competing platforms, but it remains to be seen whether that will matter as much with tablets and smartphones as it has with netbooks.

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