J. Dzhugashvili writes: Intel is readying a new line of Atom processors, code-named Bay Trail, based on a completely overhauled architecture and fabricated using 22-nm tri-gate transistors. At the Intel Developer Forum this week, journalists were able to benchmark pre-production Bay Trail tablets for the first time. The results are interesting. While current-gen Atoms struggle to keep up with the fastest ARM-based SoCs, Bay Trail is measurably faster in a host of benchmarks. Bay Trail even comes close to AMD's A4-5000 "Kabini" processor, a 15W notebook chip, in some scenarios. Meanwhile, power utilization numbers suggest that battery run times of eight hours or more are in the cards. The results bode well for the next round of Windows tablets—and for future, Intel-based Android tablets, too.
J. Dzhugashvili writes: As part of an art contest, a tech site recently asked readers to build anthropomorphic creations out of PC parts. The winner put together some pretty impressively intricate characters, including a Radeon samurai, a Linksys bowman, and a gunslinger made of heatsink and fan parts. The result is very cool to look at.
J. Dzhugashvili writes: Intel's next-generation Haswell processors launched on Saturday, and some of us are looking forward to an upgrade. Unfortunately, not all power supplies fully support the new chips. Haswell has a new, ultra-low-power sleep state that cuts energy consumption so much that it triggers the under-voltage protection of some PSUs, forcing a system reset. PSU manufacturers have been posting compatibility lists on their websites over the past few weeks, and now, those lists have been compiled into a single page for easy perusal. A good number of units from Antec, Cooler Master, Corsair, OCZ/PC Power & Cooling, Seasonic, Silverstone, Thermaltake, and XFX are apparently ready for Intel's new processors. However, certain units are still under validation or not compatible at all.
J. Dzhugashvili writes: Sony's freshly unveiled PlayStation 4 may offer PC-quality gaming, but the PC is, as always, one step ahead. Nvidia has just introduced the GeForce GTX Titan, a monstrous, thousand-dollar graphics card that features the world's fastest single GPU. The GK110 silicon inside the Titan is over 50% larger than AMD's fastest graphics chip, and it's backed by a whopping 6GB of memory. Performance isn't far behind that of today's quickest SLI and CrossFire configurations, either—in fact, the Titan can achieve lower frame latencies in games poorly optimized for certain multi-GPU setups. And since the Titan is a single card with only a single graphics chip, it draws less power and runs more quietly than multiple GPUs. The downside? The $999.99 asking price, which makes the Titan even more expensive than a pair of GeForce GTX 680s or Radeon HD 7970s. Performance per dollar calculations—even those that take frame latencies into account—show the Titan is a rather poor value.
J. Dzhugashvili writes: As Slashdot noted earlier this week, AMD has a new line of mid-range Radeon GPUs aimed at notebooks. The chips are based on the Graphics Core Next microarchitecture, and they're slated to show up in systems early next year. While the initial report was limited to specification details, the first review of the Radeon HD 8790M is now out, complete with benchmark data from the latest games. The 8790M is about 35% smaller than its 7690M predecessor but offers substantially better gaming performance across the board. Impressively, the new chip has similar power draw as the outgoing model under load, and its idle power consumption is slightly lower. Notebook makers should have no problems making the switch. However, it is worth noting that this new mobile GPU exhibits some of the same frame latency spikes observed on desktop Radeons, including in games that AMD itself has sponsored.
J. Dzhugashvili writes: Over the past few years, Corsair has earned a name for itself as a purveyor of nice high-end enthusiast cases. The company's entry into the budget market late last month raised some eyebrows, and now, the first reviews are starting to come out. Apparently, the Corsair Carbide Series 200R more than holds its own against the competition from Antec. The Corsair runs a little hotter, but it's quiet, and its innards are apparently much less frustrating to rummage around in, thanks to tool-less storage bays, big cut-outs in the motherboard tray for cable routing, and other amenities like dedicated bays for solid-state drives. The case looks pretty good, too, with a black paint job that even covers the inside. Considering you can get this thing for as little as $50 right now, it looks like a pretty solid deal.
J. Dzhugashvili writes: "Nvidia "The Way It's Meant To Be Played" splash screens are all over major PC games. AMD's developer relations program used to be a much lower-profile affair, but that's changed recently. New and upcoming games like Sleeping Dogs, Dishonored, Medal of Honor Warfighter, Far Cry 3, BioShock Infinite, and the Tomb Raider reboot are all part of AMD's Gaming Evolved program. As it turns out, that's because AMD's new executive team is more keen on gaming than their predecessors, and they've poured more money into the initiative. The result: closer relationships between AMD and game developers/publishers, better support for Radeon-specific features in new titles, and juicy game bundle offers."
J. Dzhugashvili writes: "Nvidia has filled the last hole in its GeForce 600 series lineup. The new GeForce GTX 650 Ti is launching today with pricing between $149 and $179, bridging the gap between the GTX 650 and the GTX 660. The first performance results are out, and they show how the newcomer stacks up against the competition—particularly AMD's Radeon HD 7850 1GB, which is available in the same price range. The data suggests the Radeon has a slight performance edge overall even over hot-clocked variants of the GTX 650 Ti. The Radeon's 1GB frame buffer can be a handicap in some games, though, at least compared to 2GB variants of the new Nvidia card."
J. Dzhugashvili writes: "Today at its Financial Analyst Day, AMD made statements that strongly suggest it plans to offer ARM-based chips alongside its x86 CPUs and APUs. According to coverage of the event, top executives including CEO Rory Read talked up an "ambidextrous" approach to instruction-set architectures. One executive went even further: "She said AMD will not be 'religious' about architectures and touted AMD's 'flexibility' as one of its key strategic advantages for the future." The roadmaps the execs showed focused on x86 offerings, but it seems AMD is overtly setting the stage for a collaboration with ARM."
J. Dzhugashvili writes: AMD has released a cheaper graphics card based on its new 28-nm Tahiti chip, and judging by the reviews around the web, it's pretty appealing. The verdicts at The Tech Report, Hot Hardware, and AnandTech are pretty much the same: the Radeon HD 7950 beats the more expensive GeForce GTX 580 from Nvidia, and certain variants of it even nip at the heels of the $549 Radeon HD 7970. As icing on the cake, 7950 cards seem to have sizeable overclocking headroom under the hood, as well. The only caveat is that this card may be overkill if you don't have a display with a resolution above 1920x1200—or a multi-monitor setup.
J. Dzhugashvili writes: We already know that delving inside the second, i.e. measuring frame times instead of frame rates, can provide some novel insights on multi-GPU performance. As it turns out, using the same technique shows unexpected things happening in Battlefield 3 with the latest mid-range GPUs, even when those are running in single-GPU mode. Nvidia cards seem to exhibit large and frequent frame latency spikes in some sections of the game. Although average frame rates hover close to 60 FPS, rapid frame latency oscillations occurring inside each second affect the illusion of motion, making the game feel slightly jumpy and not completely fluid. AMD Radeons exhibit a similar problem, but to a much lesser degree and not in the same levels of the game.
J. Dzhugashvili writes: Microsoft let out an interesting bit of news early this morning: Internet Explorer 10 won't support plug-ins in its Metro incarnation. That means no Flash support. Apparently, the only way to get Flash to run will be to toggle over to Windows 8's classic "desktop" mode and use IE10 in there. Justifying the move, Microsoft says not supporting plug-ins in the Metro version of IE10 "improves battery life as well as security, reliability, and privacy for consumers." Interesting... all of that sounds awfully familiar.
J. Dzhugashvili writes: At the Intel Developer Forum today, Intel announced that it has started shipping its new 710 Series solid-state drives to customers. These next-generation enterprise SSDs are meant to replace the X25-E series. Because they're saddled with 3Gbps SATA interfaces, they shouldn't break any performance records. However, they offer much higher capacities than the X25-E series ever did: 100GB, 200GB, and 300GB, which will set you back $649, $1289, and $1929, respectively. Intel reached these capacities using not single-level-cell flash memory, but a variant of its 25-nm multi-level-cell NAND flash tuned for endurance. Purportedly, a 300GB 710 Series drive can write up to 1.1 petabytes over its lifespan, compared to just 30TB for a consumer-level 320 Series drive of the same capacity. Users can increase endurance an additional 40-90% if they increase the overprovisioning percentage manually.
J. Dzhugashvili writes: We've seen some solid-state drives on PCI Express cards before, but OCZ's RevoDrive Hybrid may very well be the first solution to combine solid-state storage and a mechanical hard drive on a single PCI Express x4 card. Using Dataplex caching software from Nvelo, the RevoDrive Hybrid uses its solid-state component (a RAID 0 array of SandForce-based SSDs) as a cache for an onboard mechanical hard drive. The caching scheme is reportedly so effective that "a 5,400-RPM drive can be used without sacrificing much performance," according to The Tech Report's coverage. OCZ hasn't hashed out all of the details yet, but it expects the RevoDrive Hybrid to start at $350 this July. The base configuration should couple 60GB of solid-state storage with a 500GB mechanical drive.
J. Dzhugashvili writes: You might know Cayman as the graphics chip inside AMD's Radeon HD 6900-series graphics cards. Today, AMD announced that the new GPU has made its debut in the world of professional workstation graphics as part of new FirePro V7900 and V5900 cards. The new FirePros are priced at $999 and $599, respectively, and they both benefit from Cayman's much-increased geometry processing throughput. Also, the V7900 is the first $999 FirePro card to feature four display outputs, while the V5900 is the first $599 model with 2GB of RAM. AMD says the two cards should be available today in pre-built machines from the likes of HP and Dell.