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Dec 13, 2011

AMD Radeon HD 7900 ‘Tahiti’ Launch Set for January 9

Rumors regarding AMD’s launch of the next-generation Radeon HD 7900 graphics cards have been circulating around the Web for quite some time now, but all these were put to rest by a recent report that places the release of these GPUs on January 9.

This date was unveiled by the Donanim Haber website, which has received an invitation to AMD’s launch event for the HD 7900 series.

The invite doesn’t unveil any other info regarding the GPUs that are going to be announced by AMD, but from previous reports we know that the Radeon HD 7900 line will comprise two solutions, both of these based on the Tahiti core.

The faster of the two cards, the Radeon HD 7970, will use the full version of the Tahiti core, aka Tahiti XT, which is believed to include 32 Compute Units for a total of 2048 cores that operate at a 1GHz clock.

These will be linked via a 384-bit wide memory bus to 3GB of GDDR5 VRAM working in a quad data-rate mode at 1.37GHz (5.5GHz effective) in order to provide a whopping 264GB/s of memory bandwidth.

The HD 7950 on the other hand, which is based on the Tahiti Pro version of the AMD GPU, will drop two of the Compute Units of its older brother to provide its users with 30 CUs and 1920 streaming cores that operate at a lower 900MHz frequency.

The number of ROPs will also be decreased to 60, which will be paired with 120 texture units, as in AMD’s new architecture every CU connects to 2 ROPs and 4 TMUs.

As far as the memory controller included in this core is concerned, the information available is a bit sketchy as it hasn’t been revealed whether this is 384-bit or 256-bit wide, but we do know that the memory clock was decreased to 1.25GHz. 

No official info regarding pricing is available yet, but sources cited by BSN have revealed that these graphics cards should occupy the $349-449 price bracket once they arrive.

Nvidia GK104 GPU Specifications Presumably Revealed

Rumors regarding the next generation of 28nm graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia continue to arrive at a frantic pace and the latest to emerge cover Nvidia’s upcoming GK104 core that is presumably expected to arrive in Q1 2012.

The GPU, which will be built using TSMC’s 28nm process technology, has fallen under the scrutiny of the 3DCenter website which has come out with some preliminary specs for this graphics core.

According to this publication, the GK104 will feature between 640 and 768 streaming processors, 80 to 96 TMUs and either a 256-bit or a 384-bit memory interface linked to GDDR5 memory.

The graphics cards based on this GPU will come as replacements for the models in the popular GeForce GTX 560 product family, with performance being expected to slightly surpass that of the current GeForce GTX 580.

3DCenter’s speculations also note that in order to prepare the GK104 for a Q1 2012 launch, Nvidia had to settle with a hybrid between Fermi and Kepler, while the first parts based entirely on the new architecture won’t arrive until the introduction of the GK100 GPU.

Right now, it’s hard to tell how much of the info provided by 3DCenter is true since some of it comes to contradict an Nvidia roadmap that was leaked by 4Gamers a short while ago.

Furthermore, an Nvidia rep has said recently that the company’s Kepler GPUs are on track and that the Santa Clara CPU maker has already entered into the possession of the first chip samples based on this architecture.

“We are on track with our Kepler roadmap. We have 28nm silicon in house now. Our transition to 28nm is going better than 40nm, and yields are better than our original plan,” said Igor Stanek, Senior Product PR Manager at Nvidia.

Nvidia Kepler Is On Track, Samples Arrived In-House

Even though AMD will most certainly be the first graphics card maker to release a 28nm GPU, Nvidia hasn’t abandoned the fight and has recently disclosed that Kepler is on track and that they have already entered into the possession of the first 28nm chip samples.

“We are on track with our Kepler roadmap. We have 28nm silicon in house now,” said Igor Stanek, Senior Product PR Manager at Nvidia during an interview with the Fudzilla website.

“Our transition to 28nm is going better than 40nm, and yields are better than our original plan,” concluded the company’s rep without going into any details regarding Kepler’s roadmap.

However, over the course of the last few months, multiple Nvidia representatives have said that the first Kepler-based graphics cards aren’t expected to arrive until Q2 of 2012, so this is probably the timeline that Stanek is referring to.

Before Kepler arrives, the GPU maker is expected to release a series of die shrinks of Fermi built using TSMC's 28nm fabrication process. 

The first chips based on the Kepler architecture were taped out by Nvidia at the beginning of September. 

Kepler is the code name used by Nvidia to refer to its next-generation graphics processing unit architecture, which, just like AMD's Radeon HD 7000 GPUs, will be manufactured using TSMC's 28nm fabrication process.

The new graphics core is expected to be more flexible in terms of programmability than the current Fermi architecture.

In the second half of 2010, Nvidia promised that Kepler, and its successor Maxwell, will include virtual memory space (allowing both the CPU and the GPU to use a unified virtual memory) and pre-emption support, as well as a series of other technologies meant to improve the GPU's ability to process data without the help of the system's processor.

According to previous Nvidia estimates, these changes, combined with the new manufacturing process, should deliver 3 to 4 times the performance per Watt of the Fermi architecture in double-precision 64-bit floating point operations.

Team Group Has Memory to Offer Too, 8 GB Modules

We've been saying that RAM is cheap enough for super capacities to become mainstream and, sure enough, kits like the offer from G.Skill aren't all that users should take a look at. 

If you want a huge amount of RAM in your system, and don't mind lacking ECC, the 64 GB kit from G.Skill is probably the thing for you, assuming you have the cash for it. 

If your goals are a bit more tame, especially knowing that 8 GB are more than enough for any game nowadays, Team Group's Team Elite DDR3 might suit you better. 

Basically, Team Group launched both a U-DIMM and a SO-DIMM of 8 GB each. 

The bigger of the two (the former), for desktops, even has a heatspreader and is sold as part of 16 GB kits (8GB x 2). 

Team Group made sure the newcomers worked on 1.5V and will sell them with lifetime warranties, though the prices haven't been mentioned.

AMD’s Radeon HD 7970 Should Retail for €500 in Europe ($659 US)

With the launch of the Radeon HD 7900 series now imminent, the first rumors regarding the pricing of these graphics cards have just started to emerge.

Some of these come from the Donanim Haber website (so make sure to take them with a huge grain of salt) and focus on the European price of the Radeon HD 7970.

According to these rumors, this high-end AMD solution based on the Tahiti XT GPu will sell in Europe for a little over €500, which roughly translates into $659 US.

Of course that these are only rumors, so nothing is sure at this point, but we should find out soon enough as the Radeon HD 7900 launch seems to be set for January 9.

From what we have heard so far, the Radeon HD 7970 should pack 2048 streaming cores clocked at 1GHz, a 384-bit wide memory bus, and 3GB of GDDR5 VRAM working in a quad data-rate mode at 1.37GHz (5.5GHz effective).

EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti 2Win Doesn’t Work on Intel X79 Chipsets

Buying a $520 (394 EUR) graphics card and finding out that it doesn’t work on your $2000 PC is definitely a bummer, but this is exactly what happens if you try to pair together an EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti 2Win with an Intel X79 system.

Legit Reviews came across this problem when they tried to review EVGA’s creation on a platform powered by an Asus P9X79 Deluxe motherboard and an Intel Core i7-3960X processor.

The system would boot and go into Windows, but surprisingly SLI can’t be activated in the Nvidia driver as the option is simply missing, so you are left with a $520 graphics card that works at just half of its full potential.

The even sadder news is that nobody was aware of this issue, so Nvidia doesn’t have any plans to release a solution for this problem by the end of the year.

Until the problem is fixed, if you plan to buy a GTX 560 Ti 2Win for your X79 system you should better delay your decision or use the card in an Intel Z68 board as this combo works perfectly.

Nikon FT1 Lens Adapter Rivals Sony and Olympus

Since Sony and Olympus were kind enough to release legacy lens adapters, Nikon figured it wouldn't lag behind and launched one of its own, the FT1.

The need for such things appeared when makers of photo and video cameras began to launch mirrorless cameras.

Since people still felt they could use legacy lenses, adapters for them got invented.

The FT1 works with the Nikon J1 and Nikon V1 and supports almost all F-mount lenses.

AF-S lenses can even operate in tandem with the cameras' autofocus system, even if it isn't a perfect fit.

What that means is that the lenses suffer a crop effect (2.7x), which limits wide-angle shooting (50mm lenses take what seem to be 135mm equivalent telephotos for instance).

So far, the device is scheduled only for Japan availability, at a price of 23,310 yen (about $300 / 227.58 Euro). Sales will start on December 22.

BlackBerry OS 7.1 Leaks, Features Mobile Hotspot

Canadian mobile phone maker Research In Motion is working on the delivery of a new flavor of its BlackBerry 7 operating system, and a leaked version of the new platform is now available on the web. 

Among the notable enhancements that the new OS 7.1 brings along, we can count the inclusion of mobile hotspot features into the mix.

The leaked ROM is available for Torch 9810 devices, and can be found on various websites around, a recent article on The Verge notes.

One thing that users should take into consideration before hitting the download button is the fact that this is not an official release, and that there are certainly a series of issues that will emerge on devices.

The next version of RIM’s mobile OS, called BlackBerry 10, should arrive on devices with this feature inside as well.

G.Skill Outs 64GB DDR3 2400MHz Quad-Channel Memory Kit for LGA 2011 CPUs

G.Skill’s famous Ripjaws Z series of memory solutions has just received another member, a 64GB kit that is capable of reaching DDR3 2400MHz speeds in quad-channel mode when used together with Intel’s LGA 2011 processors based on the Sandy Bridge-E architecture.

The memory modules used in this kit sport G.Skill’s now traditional Ripjaws heat-spreaders which are designed to keep the temperatures of the memory chips installed inside under control even when overclocked.

The kit is comprised out of eight 8GB modules that deliver a total of 64GB of system memory, and these were designed to run at DDR3 2400MHz speeds using CL10 timings.

In order to make sure that the DDR3 sticks are capable of working at these high frequencies, G.Skill is testing every single module as well as the chips packed inside it.

According to the company, these go through a rigorous validation process to ensure the maximum stability, while maintaining a decent overclocking headroom.

The platform used for these tests is comprised out of an Asus Republic of Gamers (ROG)Rampage 4 Extreme motherboard and a Intel Core i7-3960K processor.

Sadly G.Skill hasn’t provided us with any information regarding the availability or the retail price of the 64GB Ripjaws Z high-performance memory kit.

However, these are expected to feature quite a high price premium over the current 64GB memory kit retailed by the company, which works at 1600MHz DDR3 and sells for $799.99 (roughly 606 EUR).

During IDF 2011, which took place at the start of September, Kingston also showcased a similar memory kit and back than said that pricing for this solution, once it becomes available, in estimated to drop between $1200 and $1500 (909 to 1,137 EUR), which is quite a steep price if you ask us.

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