EconolineCrush writes: Intel's Xeon 5600 series is the latest batch of CPUs to tap the company's cutting-edge, 32-nano fabrication process. Code-named Westmere-EP, these new server and workstation CPUs add two cores and 4MB of cache per socket while remarkably staying within the same thermal envelopes as their predecessors. When pitted against the last Xeon generation, the new chips predictably offer better performance and power efficiency. Intel's power-optimized Willowbrook server motherboard may be even more impressive, as it enables a dozen-core Xeon L5640 system to consume just 66W at idle.
J. Dzhugashvili writes: A member of the Tech Report forums reports that his iPad's charging cord literally melted in the middle of the night, and the iPad it was connected to became searing hot—hot enough that the user dropped it and caused some damage. Melted charger cables and searing-hot (or combusting) batteries are nothing new, and they've led to mass battery recalls in the past. After getting in touch with Apple, however, the user was simply told he was responsible for damaging the device by dropping it, and that the iPad was out of warranty for having jailbroken software installed.
EconolineCrush writes: Apple might have an answer for the iPhone 4's antenna issues, but a potential problem with the iPad could be tougher to fix. At least one user's iPad nearly combusted while the device was plugged in, melting the charging cable in the process. Similar problems prompted mass notebook battery recalls a few years ago, although this seems to be the only case of iPad-related melting reported thus far. Have any Slashdot users observed similar behavior with their iPads?
J. Dzhugashvili writes: If you read Slashdot, odds are you already know about WiGig and the 7Gbps wireless networking it promises. The people at Atheros and Wilocity are now working on an interesting application for the spec: wireless PCI Express. In a nutshell, wPCIe enables a PCI Express switch with local and remote components linked by a 60GHz connection. The first applications, which will start sampling next year, will let you connect your laptop to a base station with all kinds of storage controllers, networking controllers, and yes, an external graphics processor. wPCIe works transparently to the operating system, which only sees additional devices connected over PCI Express. And as icing on the cake, wPCie controllers will lets you connect to standard Wi-Fi networks, too.
EconolineCrush writes: Bargain-priced nettops have intriguing potential, but you usually have to accept the manufacturer's default configuration. Not so with Zotac's Zbox HD-ID11, which is available as a barebones affair sans hard drive, memory, and operating system. The Zbox comes with a dual-core Atom CPU, an Ion GPU with HD video and Flash acceleration, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and even Gigabit Ethernet. Although Wi-Fi reception is a little flakey, the system runs nice and quiet and handles HTPC duties and light gaming with aplomb. The Zbox also plays well with XBMC Live, making it easy to roll your own home-theater PC without paying the Windows tax, which counts for a lot given the nettop's $220 street price. This could be the ultimate budget HTPC for savvy DIY types.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.