News of the day (April 5, 2011)

 A re-writable 100 GB Blu-ray
  Posted on 1301993386 by Marc

Panasonic is the first to launch a BD-RE XL, namely a re-writable Blu-ray disc, the LM-BE100J. With a capacity of 100 GB, this triple layer media will be sold at 10000 yens, or around Ä100 VAT included. At this price, itís clearly destined for specific pro usage.

Announced in June 2010, the Blu-ray Disc XL (BDXL) has capacities of 100 to 128 GB depending on whether it has three or four layers, with R (writable) and RE (rewritable) 100 GB versions and the 4-layer version being limited to R. Sharp was the first to launch a BD-R XL in July 2010. You must of course have a BD-RE XL writer to be able to use this media, something that is still pretty rare.

 Virtu on Intel H67 and Z68 motherboards
  Posted on 1301992311 by Marc

LucidLogix has just announced that Intel has chosen to include the Virtu software in some of its H67 Express and Z68 Express motherboard bundles. To recap, this solution designed for Sandy Bridge allows you to connect the screen to the motherboard graphics out and switch from the IGP to an additional GPU on the fly depending on load.

The first results obtained are not yet fully optimised as Virtu takes between 5 and 10% off the performance of the additional GPU, an inevitable cost given that the rendering carried out by the IGP frame buffer has to be recopied before display of the rendering, without any increase in at idle energy consumption on the discrete GPU alone without Virtu. What this solution brings, then, is access to Quick Sync for encoding without however being limited to the IGP in gaming.

 Core i7-995X, the last LGA 1366 CPU
  Posted on 1301990575 by Marc

Before launching its LGA 2011 platform built around the X79 Express chipset at the end of the year, Intel looks set to launch a final LGA 1366 Gulftown type processor. The Core i7-995X will have six cores engraved at 32nm and will be clocked at 3.60 GHz by default (3.86 GHz in Turbo), against 3.46 GHz for the current Core i7-990X.

In terms of pricing, donít hold your breath for anything under $999, while the TDP should still be 130 watts. Given that the Core i7-980X and 990X have an unlocked multiplier and get up to this clock without too much difficulty, the real value of this final LGA1366 CPU will of course be very limited.

 1st deliveries of the Vertex 3
  Posted on 1301989878 by Marc

The much anticipated OCZ Vertex 3s are starting to arrive in stores in 120 and 240 GB versions. Quantities are however limited and generally being absorbed by pre-orders in spite of pricing in the region of Ä250 for the 120 GB version and Ä500 for the 240 GB version.

This SSD is the first SSD to come onto the market using the SandForce SF-2281, which is combined with 25nm IMFT MLC Flash here. This new generation controller gives sequential read and write speeds of over 500 MB/s, as long as, for writes, itís working with highly compressible data.

Here are the figures given by OCZ in terms of performance for the 120, 240 and 480 GB models:

- Reads: 550, 550 and 530 MB/s
- Writes: 500, 520 and 450 MB/s
- Random reads: 20K, 40K and 50K IOPS
- Random writes: 60K, 60K and 40K IOPS

All these figures were obtained with highly compressible data, the most favourable for the SandForce architecture. With actual files, the figures will be lower, especially in writes, but these first figures do nevertheless show quite significant differences in terms of random read perforamnce, with the 120 GB version doing a lot worse than the others here.

Note however that these figures were obtained with 32 simultaneous accesses and the gap isnít likely to be as big with fewer simultaneous accesses (closer to real usage patterns). The 480 GB version however gives lower performance in random reads. It will be interesting to see what the difference is with data that canít be compressed.

 Hynix produces its first DDR4 modules
  Posted on 1301988567 by Marc

3 months after Samsung, itís over to Hynix to announce its first DDR4 chips. Engraved at 3xnm, these 256 MB chips are used on a bar of 2 GB sticks of ECC-SODIMM.

These are DDR4-2400 chips, while Samsung has produced just DDR4-2133. DDR4 memory should officially go up to DDR4-3200, which is double the bandwidth of DDR3-1600. At this speed, Hynix has kept voltage at 1.2v, which will be the DDR4 standard.

Of course, DDR4 is only just showing the first signs of life and the JEDEC standard will only be finalised in the second half of this year. Hynix is moreover saying that it plans to begin production in high volumes in over a year, in the second half of 2012! According to iSuppli, DDR4 should represent 5% of the DRAM market come 2013, and 50% in 2015, against 71% for DDR3 memory in 2012 and 49% in 2014.

 16 AM3+ motherboards from Gigabyte
  Posted on 1301987215 by Marc

While ASUS and MSI recently announced the introduction of support for AM3+ CPUs on their current AM3 motherboards simply by updating the biosí, Gigabyte is offering support via the release of new revisions of its current motherboards. Revision 3.1 motherboards thus have a black AM3+ socket as opposed to a white AM3 socket for previous revisions. Revisions of 16 cards are listed:

- GA-890FXA-UD5 (Rev 3.1) / AMD 890FX+SB850
- GA-890GPA-UD3H (Rev 3.1) / AMD 890GX+SB850
- GA-880GA-UD3H (Rev 3.1) /AMD 880G+SB850
- GA-880GMA-USB3 (Rev 3.1) / AMD 880G+SB850
- GA-880G-USB3 (Rev 3.1) / AMD 880G+SB710
- GA-880GM-USB3 (Rev 3.1) / AMD 880G+SB710
- GA-880GM-USB3L (Rev 3.1) / AMD 880G+SB710
- GA-870A-UD3 (Rev 3.1) / AMD 870+SB850
- GA-870-UD3P (Rev 3.1) / AMD 870+SB850
- GA-870A-USB3 (Rev 3.1) / AMD 870+SB850
- GA-870A-USB3L (Rev 3.1) / AMD 870+SB850
- GA-MA770T-UD3P (Rev 3.1) / AMD 770+SB710
- GA-MA770T-UD3 (Rev 3.1) / AMD 770+SB710
- GA-770T-D3L (Rev 3.1) / AMD 770+SB710
- GA-780T-USB3 (Rev 3.1) / AMD 760G+SB710
- GA-78LMT-S2P (Rev 3.1) / AMD 760G+SB710

As you can see, Gigabyte seems to like the old AMD chipsets and has taken things back to the 760G, which dates from 2009! As socket AM3+ is backwards compatible AM3, AM3 CPUs are of course supported by these motherboards, in contrast to the CPUs designed for AM3+ which in theory couldnít be inserted in an AM3 board because of an additional pin. This theory was however upset by the recent ASUS and MSI announcements which indicate that in fact the additional AM3+ pin isnít used.

It really is in AMDís interests to clarify this situation and itís difficult to see why they arenít giving answers to what seems a pretty simple questionÖ

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