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Nov 24, 2011

Intel Ivy Bridge Launch Schedule Reportedly Unveiled




In 2012, Intel is expected to release its first chips based on the upcoming 22nm Ivy Bridge architecture and recently a report has come to reveal that the initial launch of these chips will take place in April, with more CPUs arriving in Q2 and even Q3.

Previously, all we knew about the launch date of Ivy Bridge processors was that Intel wanted to go for the March/April timeframe, with some recent rumors claiming March is a more likely release date.

However, according to CPU-World, Intel will actually hold the launch event for these processors in April of 2012.

The initial release will cover the third-generation Core i5 and Core i7 desktop products, and Core i7 mobile chips, while the next CPU wave will include the Core i3s and Core i5 mobile microprocessors.

This launch will also take place in the second quarter of 2012, while desktop Pentium processors will follow in Q3 2012.

What’s interesting to note is that desktop and mobile Celerons will still be based on the older Sandy Bridge core, and will not switch to the 22nm process in 2012.

Ivy Bridge is the code name used for the 22nm die shrink of the current Sandy Bridge chips and features basically the same architecture, but with a few minor tweaks and improvements.

This includes a new on-die GPU that will come with full DirectX 11 support as well as with 30% more EUs than Sandy Bridge, in order to offer up to 60% faster performance that current Core CPUs according to Intel.

In addition, the processor cores have also received some minor tweaks as their AVX performance was slightly increased and Intel has updated the integrated PCI Express controller to the 3.0 standard.

In the mobile version of Ivy Bridge, all these improvements are paired with a configurable TDP design, which enables the CPU to greatly surpass its maximum thermal design power when additional cooling is provided (like when placed on a notebook cooling stand).

Together with the Ivy Bridge processors, Intel will also release the Z77, Z75, and H77 consumer PCH controllers, but the CPUs will also be compatible with the current LGA 1155 chipsets used for Sandy Bridge.


Intel 2GHz Ivy Bridge Quad-Core CPU Gets Benchmarked




With Sandy Bridge-E out and about, Intel is now focusing its efforts on its upcoming Ivy Bridge architecture and such a chip was recently put through a few benchmarks by a user on a Chinese hardware forum.

The chip in question was an engineering sample Ivy Bridge processor that included four computing cores clocked at 2GHz, 6MB of Level 3 cache and required 1.056V in order to operate (as reported by CPU-Z).

Its maximum TDP was set at a rather low 65W, compared with the 95W of Intel’s current quad-core standard voltage parts based on the Sandy Bridge architecture, but its most surprising feature was the B3 stepping that the core is based upon.

This is for the first time that we see this revision used in Intel’s engineering sample Ivy Bridge CPUs and suggests that the company is getting closer to the launch of these chips.

Furthermore, the presence of this new revision also means that the ES processor should provide a nice estimate for the performance that retail Ivy Bridge parts are capable of.

And the results don’t disappoint, as the Coolaler Forums, the source of this news, show the chip running a dual channel memory kit at 2133MHz with some impressive CL6 timings. This enabled it to reach 16GB/s read and 13GB/s write in the AIDA64 memory benchmark.

The maximum Turbo frequency of the Ivy Bridge processor was set at 2407.1MHz and the CPU was installed on a Gigabyte Z68X-UD7 motherboard with BIOS F9 and also on a Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3 motherboard with BIOS F5e, confirming its compatibility with the current LGA 1155 boards.

Ivy Bridge is the code name used for the 22nm die shrink of the current Sandy Bridge chips and features basically the same architecture, but with a few minor tweaks and improvements.

This includes a new on-die GPU that will come with full DirectX 11 support as well as with 30% more EUs than Sandy Bridge, in order to offer up to 60% faster performance that current Core CPUs according to Intel.



HP Tries to Breathe Life into Itanium by Combining It with Xeon




The entire confrontation between Oracle on one side and HP and Intel on the other has not waned, but HP is determined to keep the Itanium going. 

In comes project Odyssey, a new development roadmap that will somehow combine the Itanium platform with Intel Xeon processors.

Oracle already said that everything Itanium does can just as well be accomplished by the Xeon series of chips.

As such, this might as well be interpreted and HP half-agreeing to that.

Then again, this isn't the first and probably won't be the last hybrid technological project ever made.

“Clients have been asking us to expand the mission-critical experience that is delivered today with HP-UX on Integrity to an x86-based infrastructure,” said Martin Fink, senior vice president and general manager of business critical systems at HP.

“HP plans to transform the server landscape for mission-critical computing by using the flexibility of HP BladeSystem and bringing key HP technology innovations from Integrity and HP-UX to the x86 ecosystem. Unlike the competition, HP offers an open, integrated, single platform approach.”

HP intends to advance HP Integrity servers, HP NonStop systems and the HP-UX and OpenVMS operating systems.

Still, the one element that drew attention was the “DragonHawk” enclosures (HP Superdome 2 enclosure) which will let clients run mission-critical workloads on HP-UX on Intel Itanium-based blades at the same time with Microsoft Windows or Red Hat Enterprise Linux workloads.

The quarrel between HP and Oracle dates back months and started when Oracle said it would stop developing new software for the Intel Itanium platform, which, it mentioned, is outdated and artificially kept alive because HP has been paying Intel to do so.

HP basically admitted to that but, then again, the contract it has with Intel isn't actually illegal either. In the end, this is just a conflict of interests with a lot of customers caught in the middle.

Intel Says HP's Recent Move Won't Harm Itanium




Yet again, the Intel Itanium server platform is making the news, this time because Intel is speaking on the implications of HP's recent announcement. 

As we mentioned here, HP decided to more or less combine the power of Xeon chips with what Itanium can bring to the table.

In other words, the Odyssey will include systems that make use of both platforms at once.

We're not going to go into too much detail about the project, since we have already covered that separately.

Suffice it to say, some people, Oracle in particular, have all they need to call this another hint that Itanium just doesn't cut it anymore, not on its own at least.

After all, Oracle stopped developing software for Itanium a while ago and has been saying that Intel and HP are keeping it alive artificially, despite it supposedly being outdated.

Intel might just expect this newest move on HP's part to draw comments in Oracle's favor, so it took a preemptive action.

“Customers buy Itanium-based systems for its support of resilient Unix operating systems, along with the combination of scalable enterprise performance and exceptional system reliability that is important to their mission critical needs,” said Radoslaw Walczyk, a spokesman for Intel.

“To date, Itanium platforms from our partners like HP have truly delivered the mission critical uptime, resiliency, scalability and overall capabilities that customers require – from the Superdome 2 platform architecture, to the HP-UX operating environment and the breadth of HP-UX based applications for the most demanding environments. We are very happy with HP announcement as it will provide more flexibility and choice for our customers.”

In other words, this isn't supposed to threaten 'pure' Itanium installments and Intel will continue to develop the processors for years.

"We remain to be equally committed to the Itanium and Xeon platforms, both of which represent our portfolio approach to bring open, standards-based computing to the mission critical computing market segment," Walczyk said.

Nvidia’s Upcoming GTX 560 Ti 448 Cores Smiles for the Camera




On November 29, Nvidia is expected to launch a new graphics card based on the company’s GF110 core that will be known as the GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 Cores and recently the first picture of such a solution built by Zotac was leaked on the Web.

The card, which was spotted by Fudzilla, uses Zotac’s now traditional Black and yellow color scheme as well as what appears to be the same cooling solution installed in most of the company’s GTX 560 Ti models.

This time however, behind that shroud lies Nvidia’s upcoming GTX 560 Ti 448 Cores GPU that is actually based on the same GF110 core as the one used for the more powerful GTX 580 and GTX 570.

In the case of the Nvidia GTX 560 Ti 448 Cores however one of the 15 streaming modules included in this GPU were disabled.

The rest of the graphics core includes 56 texture units, 40 ROP units and a 320-bit memory bus connected to 1.25GB of video buffer, just as is the case with the GeForce GTX 570.

The card's operating frequencies will also mimic those of its older brother as it will work at 732MHz, while the GDDR5 video buffer is clocked at 950MHz (3.80GHz effective).

Together with the increased performance offered by the new graphics core, the power consumption of the card has also grown since the GTX 560 Ti 448 uses the same 0.950V to 1.100V voltage range as the GTX 570.

Other features of the Nvidia GTX 560 Ti (448 Core) include support for 3-way SLI, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs.

As mentioned just a bit earlier, the GTX 560 Ti 448 Cores will be officially launched on November 29, and its recommended price is expected to be on par with that of the original GTX 560 Ti.

Performance wise, a graph that was published on Nvidia’s GeForce website just a little more than week ago revealed that the GTX 560 Ti 448 Core should be almost as fast as the GTX 570.


Windows 8 Pre-Beta Supports Custom Images for Metro Background




When made available for the world, the Windows 8 Developer Preview lacked one feature that users were certainly keen on having available for them, namely customization of the Metro background. 

While you can easily change the theme or background of the desktop, with Windows 7 themes supported in the new desktop client, you find yourself stuck when it comes to making a similar move with the Metro background as well. 

That happens in the Developer Preview, but is bound to change when the first beta release of Windows 8 arrives, and the first steps in this direction have been made starting with the pre-beta release of Windows 8, it seems. 

In the new builds of the client, one can change the background in Metro, though it appears that the use of custom images was not yet implemented. 

There are eight pre-defined backgrounds available to choose from, though setting a custom image as the background might prove more than difficult to achieve. 

There is no support for usual .png images, for example, but only for 8-Bit photos. Furthermore, there is way to actually convert an image to 8-bits and then use it as a background, simply because the system will automatically convert its color to match the metro color of one’s choice. 

Basically, regardless the selected image, you will get a green colored one when selecting green as the default Metro color, and so forth. 

Unlike the Developer Preview, which stores backgrounds in a shsxs.dll file, the pre-beta builds of Windows 8 store them in an imageres.dll file, winunleaked.tk explains.

However, it’s unclear whether this applies only to the pre-beta version of the platform, or the beta release will also include it. 

One way or the other, since we’re still many months away from the actual Windows 8 release, we should expect for these aspects to be addressed in due time. After all, we are fond of being able to personalize our computers in every possible way we want it. 

Those who would like to get a taste of the Windows 8 Developer Preview will find it available on here.




Intel to Continue Shipping LGA 775 CPUs in 2012




Even though Intel has retired most of its processors using the LGA 755 socket in order to make room in its lineup for newer Sandy Bridge CPUs, the chip maker will still continue to ship such parts throughout the next year.

According to Fudzilla, Intel’s LGA 775 lineup will include at least a dozen processors that use this socket, including the 1.8GHz single-core Celeron 430, which was introduced in the second quarter of 2007 and is based on the now ancient Yonah-1024 architecture.

Furthermore, Intel will continue to ship this CPU into all of its 65nm glory at least until Q3 2012.

Other chips that will also be shipping in the third quarter of 2012 are the Pentium E6800, E6700, and E5800 as well as Celeron E3500 and E3400, all based on the Wolfdale-3M architecture and manufactured using the 45nm node.

The LGA 775 socket (also known as Socket T) is one of Intel's longest lived sockets as it was introduced in 2004 together with the company's Prescott-based Pentium 4 processors.

Throughout its life, the socket has housed a wide series of processor architectures, ranging from the initial Pentium 4 Prescott to the high-end Core 2 Quad processors based on the Penryn and Wolfdale cores.

This socket was also used by the Conroe-based processors, the architecture that managed to bring Intel's performance crown back from AMD in 2006.

One they will be finally retired, Intel’s LGA 775 processors are expected to be replaced by new parts based on the company’s recent Sandy Bridge architecture that already includes an impressive number of CPUs ranging from the high-performance Core parts to the Celeron line.

The Sandy Bridge architecture is also used by the more recent mobile Intel processors and by a series of CPUs for embedded applications.

Sapphire Pairs the Radeon HD 6850 with 2GB of VRAM




Sapphire, one of AMD’s closest graphics card partners, has just announced earlier today the introduction of a new version of its Radeon HD 6850 model that has gained 2GB of video memory in order to make the card better suited for high-resolution gaming.

Outside of this change, Sapphire’s solution has remained pretty much unchanged from its predecessor aside from the added support for the DisplayPort 1.2 standard.

Thanks to this, the card can drive up to three monitors simultaneously with the aid of an appropriate hub.

As most of you have surely noticed, the cooling system was also left unaltered and it relies on a single large diameter fan that expels the heat produced by the card back in the system’s case.

As far as the operating clocks of the core and memory are concerned these match AMD’s reference frequencies for the HD 6850 as the GPU is run at 775MHz, while the memory works at 1GHz (4GHz effective).

Like most other solutions based on the Radeon HD 6850 design, Sapphire's creation is equipped with two DVI (one DVI-D and one DVI-I), one HDMI and also with a single DisplayPort connectors.

However, owners of older monitors with VGA inputs can still use this solution thanks to a supplied DVI-to-VGA dongle.

No information regarding the pricing or the released date of the Sapphire HD 6850 2GB graphics card was supplied by the manufacturer, so it remains to be seen just how much will Sapphire ask for the extra 1GB of memory.

The Radeon HD 6850 is based on AMD's Barts Pro core and it packs 960 stream processors, 48 texturing units, 32 ROP units, and a 256-bit memory bus usually connected to 1GB of GDDR5 memory.

Fujifilm XS-1 Bridge Camera with 26x Zoom to Arrive in February 2012




Fujifilm’s has just announced that its X-Series of digital cameras will receive a new member in 2012, dubbed the X-S1, which according to the company represents a new breed of bridge camera with 26x optical zoom.

The Fujinon lens installed is X-S1’s most valuable asset since it offers an impressive 24-624mm range (35mm equivalent) while it can also open up to f/2.8 when used at wide-angle settings.

In addition, this even sports a Super Macro Mode that enables users to focus down to just 1cm for frame-filling close-up images.

On the inside, Fujifilm’s latest creation packs the same 12-megapixel EXR CMOS 2/3-inch sensor installed in the X10 which should deliver good image quality, although it won’t be able to match that of the APS-C sensor installed in the X100 and many DSLRs.

This sensor can also be sued for capturing movies in Full HD resolution (1920x1080) with stereo sound at 30 frames-per-second.

The content captured can be then viewed on the tiltable three-inch rear LCD screen with a resolution of 460,000 pixels, which also features a special Daylight mode that automatically increases the brightness of the screen.

An electronic viewfinder (EVF) featuring 1.44 million pixels is also included for those of you who prefer to take pictures in the more traditional way.

The rest of the features list includes a full range of conventional shooting functions (program/aperture-priority/shutter-priority/manual), user adjustable color levels, RAW format shooting, an Auto ISO mode, 10 frames-per-second continuous shooting, 360° motion panorama mode and a battery providing up to 500 shots per charge.

Due to be launched in February 2012 in the UK, the X-S1 digital camera will have an estimated selling price of £699, which translates into a rather hefty 1,087 US (811.8 EUR).

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