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Nov 17, 2011

Intel Xeon E5 Server CPU Performance Detailed

With the desktop version of its Sandy Bridge-E processors out and about, Intel is now focusing its attention towards the server version of these chips, the Xeon E5, and has recently provided the press with a series of new details about these CPUs.

Intel's Xeon-E5 processors are supposed to replace the company's current Xeon 5000-series CPUs and judging by the data provided by Intel these should deliver an impressive jump in performance.

According to the Santa Clara chip maker, in synthetic benchmarks an eight-core Xeon E5 CPU running at 2.7GHz should be more than twice as powerful as an Xeon X5690 six-core chips that runs at 3.46GHz.

In real life scenarios, the performance difference between the two server parts won't be as high, but Intel still promises a minimum speed increase of 30%, while in some applications the Xeon E5 could prove to be up to 70% faster than its predecessor.

From the information leaked until now (some of which was published by ComputerBase), we know that the Xeon E5 range will be split into more than one CPU lines for single as well as multi-socket systems.

Intel's Xeon E5 chips will support between four and eight computing cores with TDPs ranging from 50W to 130W, and include all the technologies that come standard with the Sandy Bridge architecture such as support for the AVX instruction set.

Depending on the socket used, Xeon E3 processors can also pack a tri- or quad-channel memory controller, up to 20MB of Level 3 cache memory, 2 QPI links, 40 PCIe Gen3 lanes, and four DMI 2.0 lanes.

Intel is sampling this chips right now to a select number of cloud and HPC computer vendors, but mass availability isn't expected to be reached until the first quarter of next year.

IBM to Deploy 20 Pflops Blue Gene/Q Supercomputer at LLNL

IBM may soon take back the title of world's fastest supercomputer with an upcoming Blue Gene/Q machine that, when installed, should be able to deliver almost twice the performance of today's fastest HPC system.

The supercomputer, names “Sequoia,” is expected to be fully deployed in 2012 at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and should achieve 20 petaflops peak performance.

In addition to its impressive number crunching capabilities, IBM also expects its system to become one of the most power-efficient supercomputers in the world, churning out no less than 2 gigaflops per watt.

These advancements in energy efficiency and computing power were made possible by IBM's new PowerPC A2 processing architecture which adds 16 computing cores to each processor installed, compared to the four cores used in its previous machine, the Blue Gene/P.

Together with these 16 cores dedicated to providing the computing power of the CPU, IBM's chip also sports a special core allocated to operating system administrative functions and a redundant spare core.

Sequoia's performance is also improved thanks to a series of hardware-based speculative execution capabilities, meant to facilitate writing multi-threaded code for the machine, as well as to the introduction of hardware-based transactional memory.

“Completing computationally intensive projects for a wide variety of scientific applications that were previously unsolvable is not just possible - it is now probable,” said Brian Connors, VP of technical computing at IBM.

“IBM’s historic role in developing the supercomputers that provide the power behind critical applications across every industry has uniquely positioned us to provide reliable supercomputing at the highest level,” concluded the company's rep.

Right now, the fastest supercomputer in the world is the Japanese K-Computer installed at the Riken Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Kobe, Japan which is capable of delivering 10.51 petaflops.

The system is comprised of 864 racks including a total of 88,128 interconnected Fujitsu Sparc64 VIIIfx CPUs featuring eight cores and running at 2GHz.

Android 4.0-Based CyanogenMod 9 in a Few Months

Many of those who own devices running under Google's Android operating system have already tried a custom ROM on their devices, with those builds based on CyanogenMod being some of the most popular unofficial OS flavors installed on devices out there. 

The team behind CM seems set to bring along a new version of their custom software in a matter of months, at least this is what a recent tweet explains.

Moreover, they seem committed to delivering the new ROM with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich inside, something that should prove easily to accomplish, considering that the source code for the new OS flavor has been already released.

Currently, users can download and install CM 7.1 ROMs on their devices, which are based on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but no CM 8 software will be released, it seems.

Yeston Intros Custom Designed Radeon HD 6790

Yeston has just expanded its graphics card portfolio with another solution based on the Radeon HD 6790 design that was specially developed in order to provide users with a mainstream graphics solution at an attractive price point.

The Radeon HD 6790 is built on top of the Barts LE core, a cut-back version of the Barts XT and Pro GPUs used to power the Radeon HD 6870 and HD 6850 graphics cards.

Compared with these cores, Barts LE features only 800 stream processors, 40 texturing units and 16 ROP units, but retains the same 256-bit memory interface that connects the GPU to 1GB of GDDR5 video buffer.

The stock operating frequencies of the graphics card are set at 840MHz for the core and 1050MHz (4200MHz effective) for the memory.

As far as Yeston's solution is concerned, this works at the same frequencies as those set by AMD, but it packs an improved cooling system resembling MSI's Cyclone solutions, which the company states it provides better cooling efficiency compared to the reference design.

This improvement is possible since it packs dual direct contact heatpipes which push the heat generated by the GPU into an aluminum heatsink chilled by a 80mm PWM controlled fan.

Moving to the back of the card, we find that Yeston has added a full set of video outputs, including a pair of dual-link DVI-D connectors, an HDMI port and a DisplayPort video output.

Users who are still stuck with a D-Sub only monitor can use one of the two DVI ports thanks to the included adapter.

The card is available for now in China with pricing set at the equivalent of $125 (about 97 EUR) according to TechPowerUp, but we don't know if Yeston's creation will also arrive in other parts of the world.

Opteron 6200 CPUs Get New Motherboard and Barebone from Tyan

Tyan, a company well renowned for its high-quality and high-performance server and workstation motherboards, has announced the introduction of a new G34 dual-socket motherboard, which is compatible with AMD's latest 6200-series Opteron Bulldozer processors.

Dubbed the S8236-IL, the motherboard is based on the AMD SR5690 chipset and supports a maximum of two 16-core Opteron 6200 series processors.

These are linked together via four HyperTransport links capable of transferring up to 6.4 GT/s.

Tyan's latest motherboard creation also pairs each of the two CPUs installed with no less than eight DIMM slots, enabling users to install as much as 256GB of DDR3 memory inside the system.

In addition, the board also features three PCI Express x16 Gen 2 slots, as well as three Gigabit Ethernet ports thanks to Intel's 82574L and 82576EB NICs.

Storage is handled by both the integrated AMD SP5100 south bridge and a hardware LSI SAS2008 controller, the combo providing a total of 12 6Gbit SAS ports and two SATA 3Gbps ports.

The motherboard can be monitored thanks to an AST2050 BMC chip that provides IMPI 2.0 support.

Together with the mainboard, Tyan also launched the GT24-B8236-IL barebone which comes in the 1U form factor and can include up to dual redundant 450W power supplies as well as this new motherboard.

The system supports four hot-swappable 3.5-inch hard disks, and is cooled by six 40mm fans that are automatically controlled by thermal sensors to save power and reduce noise.

“In conjunction with advanced technology from AMD, Tyan's platform delivers all the benefits of AMD Opteron 6200 and 4200 Series processors,” said Albert Mu, vice president of MiTAC International Corporation’s Tyan Business Unit.

“Tyan offers a full array of AMD Opteron processor based platforms that meet customers’ critical requirements and achieve their business goals from varied industries in a cost-effective and power-efficient way.”

Both the barebone and the motherboard are available right now through Tyan distributors worldwide at an yet undisclosed price point.

Sapphire Develops Low Profile Radeon HD 6670 for HTPC Use

Since HTPC users are always on the lookout for new graphics cards that can deliver both quiet operation and a low profile, Sapphire has thought that it's just about time to introduce such a solution into the market and came out with the Sapphire HD 6670 Low Profile.

The resulting card is one of the most compact HD 6670 solutions that we have seen to date as it takes up just a single slot inside the system case while carrying a half-height PCB.

Cooling for the whole card is provided by a single low diameter fan placed all the way in the back of the HD 6670 Low Profile.

Like most other graphics cards built for HTPC duties, Sapphire's latest creation is also equipped with both a standard and a low profile back plate.

The rest of the card's specs include an AMD Turks GPU with 480 stream processors, 24 texture units and 8 ROP units that are linked to the installed video buffer via a 128-bit wide memory bus.

The memory used by Sapphire is GDDR5 and is clocked at 1GHz (4GHz GDDR5 data rate), while the GPU has an operating frequency of 800MHz.

These values correspond to AMD's recommended frequencies for the Radeon HD 6670, so Sapphire's latest creation will surly be able to surpass most other low-profile HD 6670 graphics cards that come factory underclocked.

The rest of the HD 6670 Low Profile specs are nothing out of the ordinary as the graphics card features the usual VGA, dual-link DVI-D and HDMI video outputs, but a DisplayPort connector is sadly missing.

Unfortunately, Sapphire hasn't provided us with any information regarding the release date or the price of the HD 6670 Low Profile but we're expecting it to be listed at about $80 (about 60 EUR) when it hits retailer shelves.

Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook Beefed-Up with Core i7 CPU and 240GB SSD

No to be outdone by its competitors, Acer has now unveiled a new version of its Aspire S3 Ultrabook that increases the ultra-thin's performance significantly thanks to an Intel Core i7 processors and a 240GB SSD drive.

The new version of the Acer Ultrabook should already be available for purchase from several retailers including Amazon, NewEgg, TigerDirect and BestBuy.com, who will sell it for $1299 (961.5 EUR).

This is quite a departure from the $899 Core i5 version of the Aspire S3 announced just the last month, but the 1.7GHz Core i7-2637M should offer slightly better performance that the 1.6GHz Core i5-2467M fitted in the cheaper version of the ultra-thin.

In this new Aspire S3 version, the Intel CPU is paired together with the same 4GB of system memory as before, but the regular hard drive and SSD combo has now been replaced by a roomy 240GB SSD.

On the connectivity front things are just as interesting as the Aspire S3 comes with a full set of features including 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0+HSR as well as an HDMI port and a pair of USB 2.0 connectors.

The rest of the features list includes a 1.3 Megapixel webcam, an SD card reader, a single headset jack and a 13.3-inch display with a native resolution of 1366x768 pixels, all packed inside a 13mm (about 0.5-inch) thin chassis.

Of course that if you want to spend a little less you can always go for the Core i5 model that comes with a hybrid storage solution and retails for $899 (roughly 665.5 EUR).

However, before making up you mind be sure to check out the Toshiba Portege Z835 and the recently unveiled Folio 13 from HP as both of these offer some pretty nice specs, including a backlit keyboard, for about the same price.

Asus Transformer Prime Up for Pre-Order On Amazon Germany, Keyboard Dock Included

After becoming available for pre-order on the Website of a less known German retailer, Asus' Nvidia Tegra 3 powered Transformer Prime was now featured on Amazon.de which also carries the tablet's accompanying keyboard dock.

Amazon Germany added to its website two Transformer Prime bundles that include the 32GB version of the tablet and the keyboard dock for EUR 599 ($809 US), as well as the 64GB model that retails for the same price but without the dock.

The tablets are available in both Silver and Gold and users also have the option of picking up the keyboard dock (also available in the two colors mentioned above) as a standalone accessory for EUR 149.00, or roughly $201 US.

Before getting too excited about this news, we have to mention that Amazon doesn't provide its customers with a shipping date for the Transformer Prime, so we don't know if these will arrive in time for making it under your Christmas tree this year.

In addition to the Transformer Prime and its keyboard dock, Amazon.de also lists a series of “smart covers” for the Asus tablet.

These are available in different colors and according to Netbook News are selling for EUR 39.00 each (roughly $52 US).

As many of you already know, Asus' latest creation is built around an Nvidia Kal-El chip and 10.1-inch screen and is housed inside a sleek chassis measuring only 8.3mm (0.33 inches) in thickness designed to mimic the aspect of the company's Zenbook laptops.

The basic model comes with 32GB of storage space, which can be upgraded via a microSD slot, but users also have the option of going for a beefier 64GB model and the 10-inch IPS+ display has a native resolution of 1280 x 800.

The rest of the features list includes an GPS, a gyroscope, SonicMaster audio, a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera as well as an 8MP rear snapper with an f/2.4 lens, a back-illuminated CMOS sensor and 1080p video recording capabilities.

Initially, Asus' Transformer Prime will be run the Honeycomb 3.2 version of the Android operating system, but later in December the Taiwanese company will introduce an update to Ice Cream Sandwich.

KFA2 Nvidia GTX 570 Can Drive Four Displays Simultaneously

KFA2 continues to expand its lineup of Nvidia GeForce solutions with multi-display support as the company has just announced a new GTX 570 graphics card which can drive up to four displays simultaneously.

KFA2 was able to overcome the limitations imposed by Nvidia's hardware by using a third-party IDT VMM1400 controller, a chip that is usually found in multi-display hub devices.

Going for a quick look, KFA2's latest creation seems to resemble the company's previous GeForce GTX 570 design as it uses the same same custom cooling solution, but which was now painted black together with the PCB for a more aggressive look.

However, unlike the other GTX 570 model in KFA2 lineup, the MDT version comes with a dual-link DVI output, a mini-HDMI port and three other DVI-D connectors, which can support up to four monitors simultaneously, double than Nvidia's reference design.

Three of the displays attached to the card can be combined to form a single surface (for multi-monitor gaming or productivity) with a resolution of 5760x1080 pixels.

Another new feature included by KFA2 in the GTX 570 MDT X4 is the so called KFA2 HT-Engine, which is a dedicated chip that can monitor the graphics card's power consumption and modify its voltage settings while also coming with a Dual BIOS feature.

“One GTX 570 – four monitors, 1080p surround gaming, Extreme over-clocked edition with a black PCB and a black matt finished quad heat-pipe cooler – say no more” said Graham Brown, European Marketing Manager.

Sadly, KFA2 hasn't provided us with any details regarding the clock speeds or the pricing of the GTX 570 MDT X4, but the card should become available later this month throughout Europe.

The GeForce GTX 570 is based on Nvidia's GF110 GPU and it packs 480 stream processors, 60 texture units, 40 ROP units and a 320-bit wide memory bus that is usually connected to 1.25GB of GDDR5 video buffer.

Nvidia's default operating frequencies are rated at 732MHz for the GPU and 950MHz (3800MHz data rate) for the memory.

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