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Graphics

Submission + - Nvidia's DX11 GF100 graphics processor detailed (techreport.com)

J. Dzhugashvili writes: While it's played up the general-purpose computing prowess of its next-gen GPU architecture, Nvidia has talked little about Fermi's graphics capabilities—so much so that some accuse Nvidia of turning its back on PC gaming. Not so, says The Tech Report in a detailed architectural overview of GF100, the first Fermi-based consumer graphics processor. Alongside a wealth of technical information, the article includes enlightening estimates and direct comparisons with AMD's Radeon HD 5870. The GF100 will be up to twice as fast as the GeForce GTX 285, the author reckons, but the gap with the Radeon HD 5870 should be "a bit more slender." Still, Nvidia may have the fastest consumer GPU ever on its hands—and far from forsaking games, Fermi has been built as a graphics processor first and foremost.
Intel

Submission + - Intel caught cheating in 3DMark benchmark (techreport.com) 3

EconolineCrush writes: 3DMark Vantage developer Futuremark has clear guidelines for what sort of driver optimizations are permitted with its graphics benchmark. Intel's current Windows 7 drivers appear to be in direct violation, offloading the graphics workload onto the CPU to artificially inflate scores for the company's integrated graphics chipsets. The Tech Report lays out the evidence, along with Intel's response, and illustrates that 3DMark scores don't necessarily track with game performance, anyway.
Intel

Submission + - $199 Intel Core i5 packs punch at bargain price (techreport.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: Today, Intel is bringing its quad-core, eight-thread 'Nehalem' architecture to the mainstream with three new processors: the Core i5-750, Core i7-860, and Core i7-870. These CPUs start at just $199, and they fit inside new motherboards featuring Intel's also-new P55 Express chipset. (P55 boards should be quite affordable, too, with prices starting below $150.) For the low-down on the new hardware, you should check out The Tech Report, which has published thorough reviews of the new Lynnfield chips, the P55 chipset, and three different P55 motherboards designed to accommodate them. The results are surprising: despite the lower CPU and platform prices, Lynnfield can match or outdo the original Core i7-900 series, not to mention older Core 2 Quads and (unfortunately for AMD) the fastest Phenom IIs. More surprising still, Lynnfield systems have extremely low idle power utilization, well below that of even current dual-core CPUs.
Windows

Submission + - Windows 7: Should desktop users buy into the hype? (techreport.com) 4

J. Dzhugashvili writes: We've all seen blog posts hyping up Windows 7, often with cut-and-pasted MS screenshots and feature descriptions. But what's it like to sit down and use the operating system on a desktop PC? Do new features deserve the hype? Do they work as advertised? The folks at The Tech Report have been using the final version of Windows 7 since shortly after its release to manufacturing, and they've posted an article that tries to answer those questions. A number of improvements, like the updated Backup and Restore functionality and Remote Desktop Direct3D support, have slipped through the blogosphere's radar. On the flip side, those who migrate from Vista shouldn't expect flawless compatibility or performance from the new additions. HomeGroup, for instance, interfaces in bizarre ways with the regular File Sharing interface, and Device Stage doesn't do much yet. The article also breaks down the different Windows 7 editions and explains why Home Premium now looks like a better choice for most users.
AMD

Submission + - AMD's Phenom II 965: 3.4GHz, 140 Watts, $245 (techreport.com)

AnInkle writes: At a time when power consumption is a top concern and most applications are rarely constrained by the CPU, AMD bolsters it's lineup by releasing a new top-end 140-watt TDP rated processor. The Phenom II X4 965 clocks in at 3.4GHz and debuts at about the same price as Intel's Core 2 Quad Q9550, indicating it's not intended to steal the performance crown. Nevertheless, this processor could further enhance AMD's competitiveness across the middle of the market, where even most performance-minded shoppers make their selections. Check out The Tech Report's benchmarks and analysis for the scoop, including a careful look at total system power use and those oh-so-much-fun scatter graphs, which illustrate the value proposition among 21 processors from both teams.
Portables

Submission + - 11.6" netbooks face off

Dr. Damage writes: Netbooks have grown from tiny curiosities with 7" screens into surprisingly well-rounded little computers. The latest step? 11.6" displays with 1366x768 resolution and near-full-sized keyboards, believe it or not. Two such systems are available now for under $400 at U.S. retailers: an Aspire One at Walmart and the Gateway LT3103 at Best Buy. The Gateway packs an Athlon 64 processor and Radeon graphics, amazingly enough. The Tech Report bought them both and has compared them head to head in some depth, choosing a clear winner between the two.
Data Storage

Submission + - Five years of PC storage performance compared

theraindog writes: PC storage has come a long way in the last few years. Perpendicular recording tech has fueled climbing capacities, 10k-RPM spindle speeds have migrated from SCSI to Serial ATA, Native Command Queuing has made mechanical drives smarter, and a burgeoning SSD market looks set to fundamentally change the industry. The Tech Report has taken a look back at the last four and a half years of PC storage solutions, probing the capacity and performance of a whopping 70 different notebook and desktop hard drives, SSDs, and exotic RAM disks. There's a lot of test data to digest, but the overall trends are easy to spot, potentially foretelling the future of PC storage.
Intel

Submission + - Desktop CPU round-up spans 26 processors

theraindog writes: The number of different CPU models available from AMD and Intel is daunting to say the least. The Tech Report's latest CPU review makes some sense of the mess, exploring the performance and power consumption characteristics of more than two dozen desktop processors between the $999 Core i7-975 and more affordable sub-$100 chips. TR also highlights the value proposition offered by each CPU on its own and as a part of the total cost of a system. The resulting scatter plots nicely illustrate which CPUs deliver the best performance per dollar.
AMD

Submission + - AMD's six-core Istanbul Opterons reviewed

EconolineCrush writes: AMD's latest "Istanbul" Opterons add two cores per socket, for a grand total of six. Despite the extra cores, these new chips reside within the same power envelope as existing quad-core Opterons, and they're drop-in compatible with current systems. The Tech Report has an in-depth review of the new chips, comparing their performance and power efficiency with that of Intel's Nehalem-based Xeons. Istanbul fares surprisingly well, particularly when one considers its performance-power ratio with highly parallelized workloads.
AMD

Submission + - AMD: 40W quad Opterons today, 16 cores coming

J. Dzhugashvili writes: AMD has been busy. Early this morning, the chipmaker introduced a pair of quad-core Opteron processors with 40W power envelopes. The chips purportedly deliver 63% better performance per watt than older 65nm Opterons clocked at the same 2.1GHz and 2.3GHz speeds. AMD followed up with three major announcements during a press briefing this afternoon: six-core "Istanbul" Opterons will launch in June (several months ahead of schedule), and 12-core "Magny-Cours" successors with quad-channel DDR3 memory will also come out earlier than planned—in the first quarter of next year. Finally, AMD is cooking up 32nm, 16-core Opterons based on its next-gen Bulldozer architecture for a 2011 debut.
Graphics

Submission + - $700 may be all you need to spend on a gaming PC (techreport.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The recession is hitting hard, but this doesn't have to be a bad time for PC gamers. On the contrary: hardware has gotten cheap enough that you can build a surprisingly powerful gaming desktop for surprisingly little. The Tech Report's latest system guide is a prime example. The fourth page details a $689 configuration that has a triple-core AMD Phenom II, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 260 (with 216 SPs), four gigs of RAM, and an accompaniment of fast, quiet, and high-quality components (including an 80%-efficient PSU). The result? A PC that lets you play every current game at 1920x1200--usually with a healthy dose of antialiasing--which should be enough for the vast majority of gamers out there.
AMD

Submission + - Phenom IIs, Core i7-920 win out in value analysis (techreport.com)

An anonymous reader writes: We've all seen processor benchmarks, but how do today's enthusiast CPUs look when you account for performance per dollar? Using a smorgasboard of charts, scatter plots, and performance tests, The Tech Report attempted to single out the highest-value offerings out of 16 popular Intel and AMD processors. The results might surprise you: AMD's 45nm Phenom IIs (both triple- and quad-core) prove to be strikingly competitive with Intel's Core 2 Quads. And, on the high end, Intel's $266 Core i7-920 turns out to be a compelling step up despite the higher costs of Core i7 platforms in general.
Intel

Submission + - Intel threatens to revoke AMD's x86 license

theraindog writes: AMD's former manufacturing division opened for business last week as GlobalFoundries, but the spin-off may run afoul of AMD's 2001 cross-licensing agreement with Intel. Indeed, Intel has formally accused AMD of violating the agreement, and threatened to terminate the company's licenses in 60 days if a resolution is not found. Intel contends that GlobalFoundries is not a subsidiary of AMD, and thus is not covered by the licensing agreement. AMD has fired back, insisting that it has done nothing wrong, and that Intel's threat constitutes a violation of the deal. At stake is not only AMD's ability to build processors that use Intel's x86 technology, but also Intel's ability to use AMD's x86-64 tech in its CPUs.
Intel

Submission + - Intel's kid-friendly tablet netbook turns heads (techreport.com)

J. Dzhugashvili writes: The first two generations of Intel's Classmate PC were little more than glorified netbooks, but the latest model looks to turn the platform on its head... literally. Featuring an 8.9" swiveling touch screen, a rugged design, and a variety of education-centric applications, the new Convertible Classmate PC aims to revolutionize the way children learn—and steal the One Laptop Per Child project's thunder in the process. The Tech Report's in-depth review of the Convertible Classmate PC concludes, "[this] might very well be the ideal netbook for kids. Adults who are simply looking for a durable, ultra-portable tablet may find the system interesting, as well." Indeed, unlike with the OLPC XO-1, you can cough up the $500 and buy a Convertible Classmate PC for your personal use (or your kid's) right now.
Data Storage

Submission + - Four X25-E Extreme SSDs combined in hardware RAID

theraindog writes: "Intel's X25-E Extreme SSD is easily the fastest flash drive on the market, and contrary to what one might expect, it actually delivers compelling value if you're looking at performance per dollar rather than gigabytes. That, combined with a rackmount-friendly 2.5" form factor and low power consumption make the drive particularly appealing for enterprise RAID. So just how fast are four of them in a striped array hanging off a hardware RAID controller? The Tech Report finds out, with mixed but at times staggeringly impressive results."

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