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Nov 16, 2011

Intel X79 Boards Are Compatible with 2012 Ivy Bridge-E CPUs Says Report




Introduced just at the beginning of this week together with Intel's first Sandy Bridge-E desktop processors, the X79 chipset is expected to be compatible with the chip maker's 2012 high-performance CPUs based on the Ivy Bridge-E architecture.

This information was provided by a user from the Chinese XFastest forum, who posted what appears to be an Intel slide which details the socket compatibility of the company's X79 chipset for LGA 2011 motherboards.

According to this slide, users who buy an X79 Express powered board will still have a use for this after the release of the Ivy Bridge-E processors, which is expected to take place next year.

While the slide doesn't go into details, it does list the current Intel DX79SI motherboard, which leads us to believe that the changes between the two platforms will be kept to a minimum enabling board makers to support Ivy Bridge-E via a simple BIOS update.

Little is known at this point in time about Ivy Bridge-E processors apart from the fact that these will be built on Intel's advanced 22nm process node, and that they will presumably use the LGA 2011 socket.

The chips are also expected to bring some of the new features Intel plans to introduce in Ivy Bridge to the enthusiast space, like support for the AVX2 instruction set.

Sadly, the core count of the processors and their clock speeds are unknown, and will most probably be finalized at a later point in time.

According to the same Chinese website cited above, the first Ivy Bridge-E processors are expected to arrive in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The Intel X79 Express PCH was designed to support LGA 2011 processors and it includes native support for a pair of SATA 6Gbps ports, four SATA 3Gbps ports and also carries an additional 8 lane PCI Express controller.


Intel Answers Our Questions, Knights Corner Demystified




Intel made the official announcement of the Knights Corner parallel processing accelerator but some things weren't perfectly clear, so we reached out to Intel, who were able, and willing, to answer a few of our questions.

To offer some context, Knights Corner is Intel's answer to the NVIDIA Tesla and all other GPU computing modules spreading across the HPC (high-performance computing) market.

It claims to have a much higher performance than the strongest such PCI Express GPU-based adapter, in fact (1 TFLOPs or more compared to 665 GFLOPS).

To that end, we e-mailed an Intel representative with some questions.

The first thing we requested was for some clarity to be shed on the form factor of the product and its implications.

The Knights Corner, KNC for short, from the press photos is a chip instead of a PCI Express accelerator, which could mean that it might need special hardware.

As such, we asked if it will be sold as part of PCI Express adapters like GPU compute accelerators or in other guises. The company representative said, in a way, yes to both.

"No. KNC will not require any special platforms/motherboards. It will use industry standard PCI Express form factor. It will not change how supercomputers are built. The key advantages of KNC are: breakthrough performance (1TFLOPS+), easy programming model (ability to use same code and same programming techniques as for programming Xeon chips – no need to learn/use any proprietary language).

"There may be some confusion as the name Knights Corner is used both for chip and the board. And actually Knights Corner will be available as a PCI Express card however we are evaluating offering other form factors as well."

The representative elaborated on the competition with GPGPU, saying that, in addition to performance, Knights Corner has another advantage, namely familiarity.

"We believe it will be a much more competitive solution than GPGPU as it will save time and resources on not forcing people to learn any new programming models but using the code they already have and language/programming models they are most familiar with."

Now all that is left is to see how things go and if NVIDIA is quick enough to make a new and better GPU device in a timely fashion.

Intel 7-Series Ivy Bridge Chipsets Get Detailed




In the first quarter of 2012, Intel will unveil its next-generation Core-series processors based on the Ivy Bridge architecture and together with these chips, the company will also release a new range of chipsets which have just been detailed in a series of leaked slides.

Together with the Ivy Bridge CPUs, Intel's 7-series motherboard chipsets will form the Maho Bay desktop platform, and the chip maker plans to split this PCH range into two different groups.

The first of these will target the consumer market and includes three platform controller hubs (PCHs) dubbed Z77, Z75 and H77, which feature similar specifications apart from some minor changes.

The most feature rich chipset of the three, the Z77, will packs four USB 3.0 ports, two SATA 6Gbps, four SATA 3Gbps connectors and can split the 16 PCI Express lanes available from the CPU into a pair of x8 lanes or into an x8 + x4 + x4 configuration.

The two other PCH controllers in the consumer series will also receive support for SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0, but won't provide the same PCI Express lane flexibility, while the H77 will also drop overclocking support.

On the enterprise side of the fence, Intel's 7-series chipset lineup will be comprised out of three solutions, the Q77, Q75 and B75, all of these featuring support for Ivy Bridge integrated graphics and a legacy PCI slot.

Support for version 11 of the Intel Rapid Storage Technology will be available in both of these chipset series.

In addition to the details regarding these PCH controllers, the Intel documents published by XFastest also unveil some information regarding the Ivy Bridge processors.

These seem to confirm that Ivy Bridge CPUs will be released into the Core 3000-series and that they will feature DirectX 11 integrated graphics and support for up to three displays.




AMD Opteron 6200 and 4200 CPUs Arrive in Penguin Computing Servers




Penguin Computing has just announced that AMD's recently launched Opteron 6200 and 4200 server processors based on the Bulldozer architecture are now available in the company's Altus systems and were also used in an early HPC cluster deployed at the University of Delaware.

The Altus servers are available in various configurations containing between one and four AMD Opteron processors paired with as much as 32 DIMMs in order to provide a maximum of 512GB of system memory.

No matter the Opteron processor chosen, Penguin Computing has both 1U and 2U rackable Altus servers on offer, the taller units also coming with support for up to eight HDD or SSD storage drives.

The cluster deployed at University of Delaware is comprised of 200 compute servers, mainly Altus 1800i and Altus 1804 machines, interconnected through a QDR InfiniBand fabric.

This configuration enables the system to deliver a theoretical peak performance of 49.3 TFLOPs and has an aggregate memory capacity of 13.5TB.

"IT departments are increasingly under pressure to do more with less,” says Charles Wuischpard, CEO Penguin Computing.

“A server platform that combines the latest AMD performance and efficiency-enhancing technologies with proven Linux expertise and support is what customers such as University of Delaware are looking for.

"This new generation of AMD Opteron processors offers interesting new features and a great core density. Penguin's customers in the High Performance and Enterprise Computing space will greatly benefit from this new processor architecture," concluded the company's rep.

AMD's newly launched Opteron processors can feature as much as 16 computing cores, an integrated quad channel DDR3 memory controller supporting clock speeds up to 1866MHz and also pack support for the Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) instruction set.

Symbian Carla and Donna to Follow Symbian Belle Soon




Nokia is still committed to providing a better experience to those users who own devices running under the latest flavors of the Symbian mobile operating system. 

Following the release of Symbian^3 last year and that of Symbian Anna and Symbian Belle earlier in 2011, the Finnish mobile phone maker is set to launch new flavor of the platform, to provide users with new features on their devices.

Reportedly, the handset vendor will soon bring to phones two new versions of the mobile platform, namely Symbian Carla and Symbian Donna.

A leaked screenshot that emerged over at Symbian Latino is responsible for bringing this info to the web, though it is a blurry one and not all details on it are as clear as one might have wanted them to be.

According to the news site, the soon to be here Symbian Carla platform release will arrive on devices with a new flavor of the browser, namely 8.0, but it remains to be seen what the new browser flavor is all about.

Apparently, Nokia will also include support for Dolby surround sound, along with a new widget and better NFC connectivity.

The new OS upgrade will also come with other enhancements, but specific info on other improvements that it might include have not emerged so far.

And there is also Symbian Donna, which should arrive on shelves with support for dual-core application processors, suggesting that Nokia might actually consider launching such Symbian devices soon.

Nokia did say a while ago that 2012 might bring along Symbian on dual-core application processors, and it seems that things are indeed sliding in this direction.

However, nothing has been officially announced on the matter for the time being, and things might turn out differently in the end, so stay tuned to learn more on this as soon as more info becomes available.


Sparkle Calibre X550 and X560 Graphics Cards Now Bundled with 3D Glasses




Sparkle has just announced that its Calibre X560 and X550 graphics cards based on Nvidia's GeForce GTX 560 and GTX 550 designs come now in a special version that is bundled together with a pair of 3D glasses built by AP.

The bundle will be available in limited quantities and the 3D glasses included are not active shutter glasses as most of us would expect from an Nvidia-based solution, but rather polarized glasses.

Both the Calibre X550 and X560 use cooling solutions custom designed by Sparkle in order to deliver improved cooling and overclocking performance.

In the case of the Calibre X560 this relies on two 8mm thick copper heatpipes to draw the heat away from the GPU and into an aluminum fin array covered by two 9cm ball bearing fans.

According to the Taiwanese company, this approach should deliver 7% lower temperatures than the cooling design used for the GeForce GTX 560 Ti reference board, while it also allowed the outfit to increase the frequencies of the card over those recommended by Nvidia.

Sparkle's GTX 550 Ti creation features a similar design with that of the company's X560 graphics card, but its cooling has been simplified a bit as the GF116 core utilized produces less heat than the GTX 560 Ti.

These changes however haven't stopped Sparkle from increasing the operating frequencies of the card over's Nvidia reference values, which enabled the X550 Ti DF to surpass the stock GTX 550 Ti by 12% in 3DMark 11, according to the company's internal tests.

Sparkle's two Caliber graphics cards include 1GB of video buffer and are equipped with a pair of dual-link DVI video outputs and a mini-HDMI port.

Sadly, the Taiwanese company hasn't provided us with any information regarding the price of these two solutions.

Netlist Develops 32GB RDIMM Memory Module with Planar-X Technology




Netlist keeps expanding the capacity of its HyperCloud series of RDIMM memory and recently announced that it has developed a new DDR3 module that has reached a whopping 32GB in capacity.

The memory module uses the standard 4Gb DRAM that is found in other high capacity DDR3 memory solutions, but packs no less than 72 such chips on a single PCB.

In order to achieve this feat, Netlist put to work two of its proprietary technologies, Planar-X which was used for packaging the chips on the printed circuit board and its patented rank multiplication technology.

Rank multiplication allows for the four individual physical ranks of chips to the hidden from the memory controller hub, making it believe regular 2 vRanks memory is used.

In next-gen dual-socket servers, this memory could allow OEMs and other system designers to include up to 768GB of DDR3, making such modules ideal for virtualization and other applications that require vast amounts of memory.

The Netlist 32GB RIMM memory module is JEDEC compliant, plug into standard server memory slots, and delivers 1333MT/s of performance while requiring 1.35 or 1.5 Volts to operate.

"By delivering the industry's first 32GB 2vR RDIMM, we are able to offer our customers unprecedented memory capacity with efficient economics associated with widely available DRAM components," said Steve McClure, vice president of worldwide sales and marketing, Netlist.

"The processing of large data sets at high CPU speeds requires large amounts of dynamic memory to avoid costly disk drive wait times.

“With the new 32GB HyperCloud, our OEM customers can maximize server utilization and application performance which translate into differentiated value for their products," concluded the company's rep.

Netlist is showcasing its 32GB Virtual Dual Rank HyperCloud Planar-X RDIMM memory at SC11, but the company hasn't revealed any information regarding the release date or the price of this DDR3 module.

Windows 8 Loaded on Nokia Tablet in June 2012




Windows 8 will certainly look great on tablet PCs when they become available for purchase in 2012 (in fact, it already appears to be great on the Samsung tablet that was showcased earlier this year) especially with a larger number of vendors committing to the launch of such devices. 

One of them appears to be Nokia, a company that has just put up for sale its first device running under Windows Phone, and which reportedly confirmed plans to launch a Windows 8 tablet PC as well next year.

In a recent interview with LesEchos, Nokia France head, Paul Amsellem, confirmed that the company was working on a tablet PC that would run under Windows 8 when made available for purchase in June next year.

No specific details on the device itself have been delivered, but the mentioning along was good enough to fire up a series of rumors on the matter.

Based on Amsellem's sayings, some concluded that Windows 8 might be officially released in mid-2012, though no specific confirmation on this has emerged so far.

Nokia is certainly the most important partner that Microsoft has at the moment on the mobile space, considering the fact that the Finnish giant is committed to bring to shelves only smartphons running under Windows Phone in a few years' time.

Their agreement on the mobile space extends beyond the simple licensing of Windows Phone for being loaded on the handset vendor's smartphones, and the release of a tablet PC seems only a natural step in the evolution of their relation.

The touch-optimized client will be powering tablets and other devices from a wider range of vendors, that's for sure.

Ballmer himself confirmed not too long ago that the Windows 8 platform would be loaded on a wider array of devices than before, including there everything from desktop PCs to tablets and phones.

Update: BGR reports that, when asked about the said tablet, Nokia responded the following: "We haven’t announced any plans anywhere in the world at this point regarding a potential tablet strategy."

Nokia Official Confirms Higher-End Windows Phone Devices [Update]




Following the release of Nokia Lumia 800 and Nokia Lumia 710 with Windows Phone on board, Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia is gearing up for the release of a new set of handsets based on Microsoft's platform, and some of them will be even better spec'd than existing devices. 

In a recent interview with French newspaper LesEchos, Paul Amsellem, head of Nokia France, confirmed that there will be more powerful Nokia Windows Phones set to hit the market soon.

According to him, Nokia Lumia 800 can be compared to a BWM 5 series car, and the company is gearing up for the release of handsets that would fall into the 7 Series lineup too, as well as some in the 3 Series.

Nokia has lost the battle at the high-end of the market a few years ago, yet the company seems determined to make a comeback, and Microsoft's Windows Phone could prove of great help in this direction.

Nokia N9 and Lumia 800 marked only the beginning of new, appealing product releases from the company, and future devices, such as the long-rumored Nokia 900, should add some new flavor into the mix.

It also makes perfect sense for the company to focus both on the release of high-end smartphones, as well as on launching less powerful ones at lower price tags.

Microsoft is also providing a helpful hand in this direction, by applying changes to the well-known chassis specs for Windows Phone devices.

The latest of these changes involved making cameras on handsets an optional feature, for example.

Thus, handset vendors around the world will be able to easily come up with new devices that are based on the Windows Phone platform but sport less capabilities and more affordable price tags.

Nokia is one of the companies expected to make such a move, although the company hasn't delivered specific details on the matter until now.

Update: Nokia officially stated that, while it has already confirmed plans to move past the Lumia portfolio, no specific announcements on the upcoming handsets have ben made as of yet.

"The Nokia Lumia 800 represents the ‘flagship’ of our current portfolio – and we haven’t revealed what else may be in store in the future for the Lumia portfolio," the company told BGR.



Gigabyte's Dual UEFI BIOS Looks Stunning




Q4 has brought a nice breakthrough in the world of PC BIOS: the eye-candy UEFI version, a very neat 3D GUI which seems to fill the gap between the unexperienced user and the – until now – rather abstract, and even scary BIOS screen.

The new 3D BIOS from Gigabyte can run in two modes: the 3D and the Advanced mode, each boasting killer looks and improved functionality. While the 3D mode displays a picture of the actual motherboard you're working with, it also highlights the devices whose settings you're about to tweak.

The Advanced mode sports the traditional list look, but with far better graphics than the old black/ blue and yellow/white scheme.

Even more, the dual BIOS architecture brings two different ROMs sporting the second chip as a backup/ recovery unit for seamless and uninterrupted productivity. As for support, the new UEFI BIOS will work on the new X79 chipset motherboards.

Check the video below and see for yourselves how nice Gigabyte's 3D BIOS looks. And by all means, feel free to comment on the other new BIOS UIs and even bring forth some neat screenshots or movies!

Mach Xtreme 16 GB RAM Kit Doesn't Bash Wallets




Mach Xtreme didn't actually outright say what it was, but it promises that the price of the Urban Series Quad-Channel DDR3 memory kit will not be too hard on one's life savings. 

Intel's Sandy Bridge-E processors have appeared and, with them, X79 motherboards with high aims for memory.

Mach Xtreme is adding its name to the list of companies that unleashed a quad-channel DDR3 kit for these platforms.

Not that there is anything shocking about this development, of course.

After all, the high-grade Intel chips demand matching RAM to back them up, being enthusiast parts meant for overclocking.

Mach Xtreme decided to, in a way, repeat what it did back in August instead of gunning for the greatest performance and capacity heights.

As such, rather than making some expensive, super-capacious or fast kit like Kingston or G.Skill, it created the Urban Series Quad-Channel DDR3.

The name might not suggest it, but this is, the company claims, the sort of thing that enthusiasts need at an attractive price.

In other words, it strives to meet the requirements of those who need to keep some budget concerns in mind.

The total capacity is of 16 GB, achieved from four modules of 4 GB each, all of which work on a voltage of 1.5 V and at a frequency of 1,333 MHz.

Not exactly the 2,000MHz+ clock speeds of the more ambitious products but, then again, not everyone is going to try and break world records in benchmarks and, at 16 GB capacity, even 1,333 MHz will be more than enough for smoothly running multiple operations at once, even games or other memory intensive graphics programs.

Mach Xtreme's modules are RoHS, CE and FCC-certified and 100% hand-tested for quality assurance.

Finally, they come with lightweight, Japanese heatsinks and are backed by a lifetime warranty.

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