News of the day (January 13, 2010)

 Imagination launch the PowerVR SGX545
  Posted on 1263394317 by Benoit

In parallel with traditional GPUs, chips built in to mobile devices continue to improve in terms of performance and functionality. Imagination, a major player on the market, has recently announced a new graphics chip: the PowerVR SGX545. This is a successor to the Power VR SGX535 that is used in the Apple iPhone 3GS. For the nostalgic among us, the Dreamcast was also equipped with a PowerVR (a Power VR2, aka CLX2)!

This new version of the chip is based on a programmable architecture that is compatible with DirectX9 and 10.1, OpenGL ES 2.x, OpenGL 3.x, OpenVG 1.x and OpenCL 1.x. With these APIs traditionally found in desktop applications, porting ought to be facilitated to a certain extent. According to Imagination, OpenCL compatability should enable the exploitation of all the power of the chip for usage such as image processing and video, physics in gaming, cryptography and so on.

The SGX545 can process up to 40 million polygons per second with a fillrate of 1 Gpixel per second (at 200 MHz). This is equivalent to a GeForce3 / GeForce 4 type chip, which, in terms of an MID, netbook, smartphone or other low resolution mobile device, is fairly comfortable.

Announced at the same time as the NVIDIA Tegra 2, this chip is already reported to have been licensed by one partner.

 TRIM now functional with Samsung SSDs
  Posted on 1263382995 by Benoit

Among the multitude of available controllers for SSDs, the Samsung controller is one of the better ones, with an attractive price/performance ratio. The Samsung controller is used notably in the OCZ Summits, the Corsair P series and the Kingston V+s.

Although the first two had already published firmware with TRIM compatibility, Samsung was not yet up to speed. Owners of the PB22-J could flash with the Corsair firmware (the two drives being identical) but at the their own risk. Now however weíve heard from French site, Comptoir du Hardware, that Samsung have also released a new firmware. The update does however require you to format your drive and we therefore strongly recommend a backup! PB22-J owners can download the precious file here.

 CES: Shuttle and the SPA for notebooks
  Posted on 1263351465 by Damien

Shuttle announced the unveiling of a great innovation in the world of notebooks at CES. An attempt, and not the first, to standardise motherboards for laptops, with the goal of helping small OEMs and motherboard stockists to put their own solutions into place. Shuttle has come up with the SPA (Shuttle PCB Assembly) for 13-inch to 17-inch laptops while Micro SPA has been designed for 10-inch to 15-inch machines.

Shuttle were showing examples of motherboards in this format in both AMD and Intel versions, with IGPs or entry-level GPUs. Here is an example of an SPA format card then a Micro SPA:

The connectors are in exactly the same place in each series, as is the cooling system that has also been standardised although there are several versions depending on whether thereís a GPU or not. Shuttle do not expect end users to be able to buy these motherboards directly and update their machines themselves. They do however hope that SPA system stockists will offer to put updates into place with a new cooling system where necessary.

Shuttle tell us that they have already received numerous orders and that they will be beginning deliveries shortly. It remains to be seen if there will be any attempt to redesign notebooks as this technology would be worthwhile if you want to conserve a quality shell but much less so for a standard entry-level cheapo plastic shell that quickly shows wear and tear. Otherwise the technology will no doubt only be useful to a handful of stockists.

 CES: the Vertex 2 SandForce
  Posted on 1263350153 by Damien

A whole range of Vertex 2 SSDs based on the very promising SandForce controller will soon be available from OCZ. The basic version, the Vertex 2, will be based on 34nm MLC memory and the SF-1200 version of the controller, limited to 9500 IOPS (4KB random) and will be available in 50, 100, 200 and 400 GBs. Up the range, the Vertex 2 Pro will be similar but equipped with the SF-1500 that can go up to 19000 IOPS at slightly higher speeds (280/270 MB/s reads/writes as against 270/260 MB/s). Lastly, the Vertex 2 Pro EX will use 50 nm SLC memory with the SF-1500. With identical speeds to the Vertex 2 Pro, they will be available at 50, 100 and 200 GB, the 400 GB version not possible here given the lower density of SLC memory.

 CES: SSD p88 at 1300 MB/s from OCZ
  Posted on 1263349341 by Damien

OCZ told us at CES that they are increasingly looking to attack the pro market, which is more profitable, with an SSD range that will be more oriented in this direction. They were showing the PCI Express x8 Z-Drive p88 which gives impressive reads of 1300 MB/s and writes of 1200 MB/s with 14000 IOPS random reads for 4KB blocks.

There are no less than four Indilinx controllers in raid for the MLC modules that fit into SODIMM slots. This gives more flexibility to OCZ in terms of responding to the demands of certain clients and also allows easy replacement of defective modules. The p88 will be available in 512 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB versions.

 CES: 1GHz HD 5870 from Gigabyte
  Posted on 1263348193 by Damien

Gigabyte were showing a series of customized Radeon HD 5800s at CES, all based on an identical PCB (some components may differ however). While the cooling system is similar, it isnít completely identical on the Radeon HD 5850 Overclock as on the two Radeon HD 5870s: the Ultra Durable and Super Overclock have an extra heatpipe. We donít yet know the clocks for the first two of these but the Radeon HD 5870 Super Overclock will be clocked at 1000 MHz (GPU) and 1300 MHz (GDDR5). In comparison with the stock model clocked at 850/1200 MHz, this corresponds to a 17% increase. The 8% increase in bandwidth is more modest.

Given that the Radeon HD 5870 is more limited by memory bandwidth than processing power in current games, itís a shame that the bandwidth hasnít gone up more. Lastly, note that Gigabyte has told us not to expect 2GB Radeon HD 5800 models in the immediate future.

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