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Nov 27, 2011

First Intel 8-Core Sandy Bridge-EP Benchmarks Make Appearance

Now that Intel has launched its first desktop processors based on the high-performance Sandy Bridge-E architecture, the chip maker is racing to get out the Xeon version of these CPUs and the first benchmarks showing the performance of such an 8-core SKU have recently made their way to the Web.

The chip is question is actually an engineering sample processor based on the Sandy Bridge-EP core and its performance was put to the test in both 3DMark 11 and CineBench R11.5.

In both of these benchmarks, the Intel eight-core CPU managed to outperform its desktop counterpart by quite a large margin, as the graphs put together by HardwareLuxx go to show.

From what we can tell, the ES processor used for these tests has a base frequency of 3.11GHz and Hyper-Threading seems to be working, but we don’t know if Turbo Core was enabled.

Intel’s eight-core Sandy Bridge-EP processors will be released into the Xeon E5 CPU line and according to a recent report will be based on a new stepping of this core that resolves the VT-d bug present in the current revision of the CPU.

Besides the eight computing cores, Intel's Xeon E5 CPUs 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.

To accommodate all the new hardware logic, the thermal envelope of the CPU was raised from 130W in the current Sandy Bridge-E desktop CPUs to 150W.

Right now we don’t know when Intel will start selling these eight-core processors, but the chip maker said recently that it has already starting sampling Xeon E5 chips to select number of cloud and HPC computer vendors, with mass availability expected in Q1 of 2012.

Web Apps Can Modify the Firefox Context Menu via HTML5

HTML5 goes beyond just the <video>, <audio> or the <canvas> tags. And there's more to it than just the big technical features, drag and drop, filesystem support. What makes it really useful are the little things.

For example, HTML5 context menus which enable a web app to request that the browser add one or more custom entries to the right-click menu.

However, as with many other HTML5 specifications, most browsers don't support custom context menus.

In fact, Mozilla is the only one to add support and this just happened in the recently launched Firefox 8. At this time, Firefox is the only browser to support the feature.

"You may not know it, but the HTML5 specifications go beyond what we put in the pages and also define how parts of the browser should become available to developers with HTML, CSS and JavaScript," Mozilla's HTML5 evangelist Chris Heilmann wrote.

"One of these parts of the specs are context menus, or 'right click menus.' Using HTML5 and a menu element you can add new options to these without having to write a browser add-on," he said.

Since this is such a new feature, you're probably not going to encounter it on the web any time soon. But if you're running Firefox 8 or a newer version, you can check out the demo page Mozilla has set up to see the functionality in action.

And, if you're a developer, Mozilla is also providing all of the code necessary to create your own custom menus. Since this is a standard HTML feature, actually creating menu entries is quite simple.

As for why you'd want custom context menu entries, the possibilities are endless.

Just imagine all of the things you can do with a context menu in a desktop app and then remember how many times you right-clicked in a web app, like Grooveshark, expecting to see a context menu relevant to the item you selected. Of course, there's also the risk that the feature will be abused.

Intel Xeon E5-1600 and E5-2600 Won’t Show Up Until March 2012 – Report

We all knew that Intel is having troubles with implementing SAS in its next-generation server platform code named Romley, but we would have never guessed that it would take the chip maker as long as March to resolve these issues.

Of course that without its chipsets being ready, Intel also can’t release the Xeon processors using it, so these too are delayed.

According to DigiTimes, both the Xeon E5-2600 and E5-1600 series CPUs and the C600 chipsets will make their official debut in the first week of March 2012, which is a full quarter later that what Intel said initially.

The good news however is that the problems are gradually being resolved, so when the end product ships there shouldn’t be any more issues to be resolved, which is always a good thing in the server industry.

Atom N2100 Cedar Trail-M CPU Outside of Intel's Roadmap

Whatever plans Intel had made for the Atom series of central processing units, they didn't include a certain Atom N2x00 chip, but the web is nothing if not observant.

While this is not the first time Intel creates a processor without planning for it too far in advance, the chip some think will be called Atom N2100 might gather quite the following.

This is because it is intended as a cost-sensitive option, which means it will be even cheaper than the Cedarview and Cedar Trail products, which already went through their own price cuts.

As a single-core CPU, the item will probably have 512 KB cache memory and a clock speed of around 1.86 GHz or so.

Keep in mind that no specs were provided, though, and that all these numbers are pure speculation, based on what Intel has on the market right now and what it did in the past.

28nm NVIDIA GPU Roadmap Revealed

Leaks and rumors about what NVIDIA has in store have not been absent, but one has finally arisen that provides the exact plans of the company in regards to the 28nm manufacturing process. 

28nm is the technology that both Advanced Micro Devices and NVIDIA rely on for their new series of graphics processing units (GPUs).

This report has now shown precisely how NVIDIA plans to have its Kepler advance.

The high-end chip will have a smaller die than the massive Fermi and will bear the name GK104.

With 384-bit memory support, it can churn out 2 TFLOPS (30% more than GTX 580) and will be ready by the middle of next year.

Unfortunately, the prowess comes at the price of a high power consumption, 250W, which makes one wonder how much energy the GK110, a dual GX104, will need (will appear soon after).

Much sooner than GK104 will arrive the GK107, the first model as it were, which is a notebook part, with a memory interface of 128 bits and PCI Express 2 support (other GK chips have PCI Express Generation 3 support).

The GK106 will come second, a mid-range GPU, featuring 256-bit memory. Along with the GX107, it will show up at some point during the second quarter of 2012.

So far, the Santa Clara company seems to have similar designs as AMD, but the similarities end at the end of 2012 / early 2013, when NVIDIA will again launch a GPU with a massive die: GX112, with 512-bit memory.

So far, things sound optimistic, but there is always a catch and, in this case, it is TSMC that might cause disruptions to this plan, as well as AMD's own.

Many fear that the nightmare behind the 40nm low chip yields, which hit both companies very hard last year, will repeat with 28nm.  

The first signs are already showing in fact, as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company is already experiencing a high demand while producing only 20,000 units per month.

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