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Sep 11, 2012

Intel Takes AMD Example and Plans Server Interconnect Technology

A completely integrated way of interconnecting servers, blades and the communication adapters seems the next major step in the server world. Initially, this was done mostly on supercomputers and very large server setups that required a certain specification to be fulfilled.

AMD’s SeaMicro has already developed the Freedom Fabric technology that consists in dedicated chips that offer a fully integrated way to interconnect the server boards. The Freedom Fabric interconnect from AMD offers an impressive 1.28 Tb/s bandwidth which translates into 1.25 GB/s. Intel’s vice president of the Architecture Group, Mr. Raj Hazra said that the new interconnect technology practically will virtualize the I/O and will tie together storage and networking in data centers, Fudzilla reports. The technology is still far away from being implemented, but Intel will not use separate chips like AMD’s Freedom Fabric is implemented right now.

Intel’s plan is to directly integrate this into the Xeon server processors and this will not happen in the following year. The projected bandwidth is desired to be around 100 GB/s and that’s a whole lot faster than what AMD has right now. The major difference is in the fact that the concept is quite differently implemented. Linking the storage and networking inside a server through a 100 GB/s bandwidth link is something out of this world, but we think it will become a little bit clearer once Intel decides on the broad lines of the implementation.

Right now the company is accepting the fact that this technology is necessary and that R & D funds must be allocated in this direction. One other impressive advantage Mr. Raj Hazra mentions is the fact that all the added transistors will only add a few watts of power draw to the Xeon CPU.

AMD Freedom Fabric Interconnect Implementation
Image credits to brightsideofnews

Samsung Shooting an Anti-Apple Commercial

In the Apple vs. Samsung war, some would say that the customer is the winner, but we don’t believe that to be true. Both companies have the financial resources to publicize a media fight while a price war is something unimaginable.

We’re not saying that a price war is desirable, but playing tag with “mine is rounder than yours” is not really what technology enthusiasts were envisioning as the definition of the term competition. In our opinion, we thought that democracy and capitalism was all about competition and the freedom the competitors have to take something and make it better. Apple argued some time ago that Samsung’s workers studied the iPhone in the development process for the Korean-made smartphones and that screen icons had rounded corners. Never mind how pathetic and undemocratic such an arguments is, the question is if a company is or is it not allowed to study the competitor’s products and take something round and make it rounder. The competitor should be free to make it bigger, rounder, thinner, lighter etc.

We don’t believe Jaguar should sue Skoda for making cars with rounded shapes and thus we don’t believe Apple should be allowed to do the same. The customer ultimately loses as the comparison is not feature- and specifications-based, but it is PR-based. One other dramatic way in which the customer’s interests are clearly being hurt is complete banning of a product on a market, like HTC One X was temporarily banned despite being superior to Apple’s iPhone in several ways. While we completely disagree with Apple’s tactics, we can’t condone Samsung’s new anti-Apple commercial that’s being shot in Los Angeles right now, The Verge reports.

The Korean company’s tablets have clear advantages over Apple’s iPad while Apple’s product has its own distinctive and well-designed features. An informed buyer will certainly make the right choice and that’s ultimately the point, to allow the buyer to make an informed choice and not mislead him with false advertising like LG did with its IPS7 monitors. Moreover, Samsung’s Galaxy S3 smartphone is clearly superior to Apple’s iPhone 4 in almost every aspect so there’s no need for such information / disinformation campaigns. SGS3 sales talk for themselves and thus Samsung should protect the patents that it currently holds and protect its right to sell compliant devices anywhere in the world, but refrain from such tactics. Samsung’s upcoming 11” quad-core tablet will also apparently be superior to Apple’s current version of iPad so there’s really no need for such an elaborate PR stunt. This is a sure way to get the lawyers rich.

Samsung's New anti-Apple Comercial Campaign
Images credits to The Verge

Pentax K-5 II and K-5 IIs DSLR Cameras

Where the Q10 camera is small and relatively affordable, insofar as products sold for several hundred dollars can be called such, the K-5 II & K-5 IIs don't even try to pass themselves off as anything of the sort.

Priced well beyond the $1,000 / 1000 Euro mark, even not counting the lenses, they are overall better at everything. That includes image quality, zooming, autofocus and, most importantly, withstanding less than stellar conditions.

Both cameras are reasonably resistant to cold, dust and bad weather, and what is particularly interesting is the DR II (Dust Removal II) mechanism, which induces ultrasonic vibration to shake dust off the CMOS sensor. Like the Pentax Q10, the K-5 II and K-5 IIs DSLR cameras will ship starting October 2012. Go here to read all the information on them.

Pentax K-5 camera
Image credits to Pentax

Incoming Intel Mobile Pentium “Ivy Bridge” CPUs

We reported here and here about Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processors that the company is introducing now, but the CPU giant is also getting ready with new Pentium-branded mobile chips, featuring the same architecture.

The company is moving the Ivy Bridge architecture in the mainstream line, but the cheapest alternatives will still be Sandy Bridge-based. Intel is now getting ready with new mobile Ivy Bridge processors that bare the Pentium brand, CPU-World reports. We’re talking about the Pentium 2117U CPU that is an Ivy Bridge dual-core chip with no HT technology. Running at 1.8 GHz, it will fit inside the same 17 watts TDP that the Sandy Bridge Pentium 987 has, but the SB part is 300 MHz slower. It features HD graphics, 2 MB level 3 cache and fits on a 1023 BGA socket. The second Ivy Bridge Pentium Intel plans to launch later this autumn is the Pentium 2020M that has a 35 watts TDP, the same “HD graphics” integrated graphics processing unit (iGPU) and needs a G2 socket.

Unlike the Pentium 2117U, this one actually manages no frequency advantage over the Sandy Bridge-based counterpart, the Pentium B980. The only advantage the user will see are the small performance improvements that Ivy Bridge brings over Sandy Bridge as the Pentium 2020M has the same frequency and TDP as its predecessor. Not many details are known about these two Pentium processors, but we can definitely say that we’re glad Intel leaves Sandy Bridge behind. On the other hand, it is quite disappointing that the low power consumption advantage that Ivy Bridge brings is not obvious.

We’re wondering how come the Pentium 2020M has such a “high” TDP despite being a 22nm chip with the same characteristics as a 32nm processor.

Intel Pentium logo
Image credits to Intel

Intel New Ivy Bridge Pentiums Compared with Sandy Bridge Counterparts
Image credits to CPU-World

AMD FirePro Get RealD BlueLine Technology, to Become Better at 3D

The event known as Intel Developer Forum kicked off today, so naturally, Advanced Micro Devices made some press announcements meant to move people's attention from that.

The launch of the SeaMicro SM15000 server is the main AMD event of the day, but the partnership with RealD isn't something minor either. As it turns out, the AMD FirePro line of professional graphics adapters will start benefiting from RealD's BlueLine technology. The video cards already have all they need to send 3D feeds to projectors, TVs, monitors, etc., but there is still the matter of control and ease of use. RealD's BlueLine technology enables just that: control over the DLP projector, the 3D software and the graphics card, all from a single software control panel. The Firepro V5900 already features BlueLine, and all AMD FirePro GCN (Graphics Core Next) models will receive the functionality over the coming months.

"AMD and RealD are responding to the expanding stereo 3D market, which has grown exponentially over the past several years," said David Cummings, senior director and general manager, Professional Graphics, AMD. "Whether you're working through computer-aided design (CAD) workflows, building CGI effects in movie studios or simply taking in a movie at the local theater, viewers will now experience improved stereo 3D video powered by AMD FirePro graphics and RealD. Together, we will deliver a more enjoyable and realistic 3D experience, while providing IT managers with an unmatched, turnkey stereo 3D solution." BlueLine is a right- and left-eye frame identifier technology for stereoscopic 3D images, one that, among other things, will prevent 3D images from being displayed backwards.

The new partnership is bound to net AMD more clients among corporations, educational institutions and the media and entertainment industry. After all, studio projection rooms, university theaters/classroom and in-room video display rooms can all benefit from a centralized control interface.

AMD and RealD partner for BlueLine support on FirePro
Image credits to AMD

EVGA Z77 FTW Overclocking Mainboard with 300% More Gold Content

Today traditional Nvidia video card manufacturing partner, American company EVGA, is launching its top overclocking mainboard, targeting socket 1155 enthusiasts. The new device features an impressive 300% more gold content in the CPU socket assembly.

The official name of the new product is EVGA Z77 FTW and while we don’t clearly know what that gold is doing exactly, we can definitely say that there’s less than a tenth gram in there. The mainboard is completely overclocking oriented and it comes with several original EVGA features such as Vdroop Control, Dummy OC, E-LEET Tuning Support, EZ Voltage read points, onboard clear CMOS, power and reset buttons and triple BIOS support.

It can use up to 32 GB of DDR3-2133 memory and it has six SATA3 connectors. Two of the SATA3 ports are of eSATA type and all have support for RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10. There are six PCIe x16 slots and a single PCIe x1 slot present, but the number of PCIe lanes depend on the mounted CPU. The mainboard is currently available for $310 (242 EUR).

A quick unbox and look at some of the more unique features of the EVGA Z77 FTW motherboard! Stay tuned for Part 2 to cover overclocking and performance!
Video credits to EVGAonthetube

World First 28nm DDR4 Memory Controller

Californian electronic design automation software and engineering services company Cadence Design Systems has just announced the world’s first DDR4 memory controller manufactured in 28nm technology.

The chip has already been manufactured and tested in TSMC’s 28nm (28HPM and 28HP) process technologies. "We are excited to be the first to offer silicon-proven DDR4 memory controller and PHY IP that will enable our customers to exceed performance and power requirements in their next generation SoCs with reduced risk," said Marc Greenberg, director of product marketing, SoC realization group at Cadence Design Systems. DDR4 technology will have 50% higher frequency than the currently available DDR3 and will also require less than 60% the transmission energy required per bit. This basically translates into a 40% power consumption reduction going from DDR3 to DDR4, but this is not the only advantage. The 50% increased frequency will also help the bandwidth grow, but any addition in frequency comes with improved latencies.

DDR4 controllers will support double the memory capacity when compared with standard DDR3 controllers. The DDR4 PHY presented by Cadence Design Systems comes with data rates that were tested and shown to exceed the initial DDR-2400 draft specifications. Cadence Design Systems has also demonstrated working interoperability with current DDR3 and DDR3L standards. A low-power, all-digital mobile PHY implementation was also tested in TSMC’s 28HPM technology and this one brings data rates that exceed the official specifications for DDR3-1600 and DDR3-1866 standards. HPM is short for “high performance for mobile applications” and this is TSMC’s power optimized 28nm manufacturing process with emphasis on performance.

This design also exceeds the maximum data rates specified for the low-power LPDDR2 standard, thus enabling manufacturers to integrate power-efficient memory technologies in next-generation mobile designs. The hardware market is not moving too fast for the DDR4 standard and 2013 will still be a DDR3 year, but the new standard is surely going to take off in early 2014.

Samsung 16 GB DDR4 RDIMM Memory Module
Image credits to Samsung

Gigabyte GB-TCD Thin Mini-ITX Desktop PC

Gigabyte is launching yet another nettop powered by Intel’s low-power and low-performing Atom processor. As the semiconductor giant has established the EOL for the D2700, the best Gigabyte can do is the Atom D2550 processor.

The new Gigabyte GB-TCD thin mini-ITX desktop PC is built around Intel’s N10 chipset and comes with a single SO-DIMM slot supporting up to 4GB of DDR3-1333 memory. Graphics is handled by one of Intel’s most basic controllers, the extremely low performing GMA X3650. Gigabit LAN is handled by Realtek’s RTL8111E PHY and sound is provided by Realtek’s ALC887-VD2+ALC105-VE. There is one 2.5” storage bay available along with a SATA 2 connector and a Mini-PCIe slot along with an additional mSATA slot.

The mSATA connector is very welcomed as a small SSD would do wonders for the otherwise modest performing system. There are four USB 2.0 ports on the front along with a 4 in 1 card reader while the back side comes with another four USB 2.0 connectors, one HDMI-out, one SPDIF-out, a VGA port and three audio jacks. Pricing has not yet been announced.

Gigabyte GB-TCD Thin Mini-ITX Desktop PC
Images credits to Gigabyte

SeaMicro SM15000 Server, Based on Opteron or Xeon CPUs - Intel Inside AMD

After seeing Advanced Micro Devices and Intel so firmly opposed to each other, it is slightly surreal to witness the appearance of a product which, though made by one of them, is fully ready to accept and use the resources of the other.

A system capable of using hardware from a rival company is not unheard of, but that doesn't make the AMD SeaMicro SM15000 any less surprising, although we suppose this was bound to happen. AMD did buy SeaMicro for this very purpose after all. Rather than a CPU, or some other piece of hardware usable in servers, the SeaMicro SM15000 is a full-fledged server that supports not only AMD Opteron processors, but Intel Xeon “Ivy Bridge” units as well. Noteworthy about the micro server is the patented Freedom Fabric, which provides “the highest” performance-per-watt (micro servers are, after all, supposed to be dense and hyper-efficient systems), compute density, storage density, and bandwidth-per-unit.

One of the configurations is a server with 64 Piledriver-based AMD Opteron 8-core chips (2.0/2.3/2.8 GHz), which means 512 cores. Since each processor handles 64GB of RAM, that makes for over four terabytes of memory. A second configuration involves 64 Ivy Bridge Intel Xeon E3- E3-1265Lv2 quad-core CPUs (2.5/3.1 GHz). That makes 256 cores. With 32 GB of RAM per CPU, the top memory becomes two terabytes, give or take. Whichever setup customers choose, they will be allowed to have petabytes of maximum storage, depending on which of three different Freedom Fabric Storage arrays is selected (each system is made of ten racks).

In fact, not only can there be up to 64 SATA SSDs or HDDs operational in the system, but so can 64 compute cards (up to 512 cores and 10 Gb bandwidth to each processor) and 16 ten-gigabit Ethernet links / 64 one-gigabit uplinks. Add to that the massive disk arrays comprising the Freedom Fabric (up to 1,408 SSDs/HDDs) and the AMD SeaMicro SM15000 is powerful indeed. AMD will have the Opteron- and Ivy Bridge-based SeaMicro SM15000 configurations up for order in November. In the meantime, clients can get models equipped with Xeon E3-1260L (“Sandy Bridge”). All we have left to say is that the Sunnyvale, California-based company is making good on its word to enable extreme scale computing, just like the US government asked.

AMD SeaMicro SM15000
Image credits to SeaMicro

AMD SeaMicro Freedom Fabric
Image credits to SeaMicro

Unlock 720p Video Recording on Google Nexus 7

The famous Google Nexus 7 tablet manufactured by Taiwanese mainboard maker ASUS already has video recording capabilities, but only 480p recording has been available up until now.

Skilled and curious users over at XDA Forums have managed to unlock the 720p video recording capability in ASUS’ bestselling tablet, and now all Next 7 owners can enjoy the higher resolution just by applying the same tweaks, XDA-Developers forum reports. The video above also shows just how different and how much better the 720p mode is when compared with the standard 480p recording.

We recommend you all try this, but we caution any readers that there are no guarantees with this mod and you might end up messing up your software settings. On the other hand, if the instructions don’t seem beyond your skill level, you should definitely activate the tweak.

The audio sucks, but that's probably just a few tweaks away. It's definitely 720p.

Refer to this video to see it compared to 480p:

Video credits to TheBeastUponTheLolz

Intel Crystalwell Technology Uses a Wide Memory Bus

Haswell’s GT3 integrated graphics processing unit (iGPU) and, for those who don’t remember our spring report, we must say that Crystallwell technology is the so-called L4 cache that the new processor will come with.

The company clearly needs some sort of memory buffer for its iGPU, as this is the best way to ensure a performance increase besides increasing the number of shader units or the clock frequency. In the case of GPUs, the graphics memory BUS width is the greatest performance bottleneck and hardware experts from Semiaccurate.com believe that Crystawell technology is a wide memory BUS design attempting to solve that issue, SemiAccurate reports.

It is very complicated to use eDRAM in such a manner and a big quantity of off-die SRAM is definitely out of the question. The likely design will apparently look like a 512-bit-wide DRAM BUS that, in a low-power 1066 MHz implementation, will actually offer the same bandwidth as a 128-bit GDDR5 buffer running at a high 4GHz effective frequency.

Microsoft XBox360 GPU with Off-Die eDRAM Sitting on the same chip
Image credits to Arstechnica

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