News of the day (February 22, 2011)

 Windows 7 SP1 available!
  Posted on 1298407068 by Guillaume

Windows 7 SP1 is available!

Microsoft has made Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows 2008 Server R2 available. To update your machines, simply go to the Windows control panel, Windows Updates, and carry out a manual search for updates. The Windws 7 SP1 download will then come up as one of your options.

The x64 version weighs in at around 70 MB, with the 32-bit version 10 MB less

For those who want to use Service Pack 1 on future installations or multiple machines, Microsoft is offering SP1 downloads in different forms. For those who have to manage multiple architectures, a 1.953 GB ISO file is available. It includes the x86, x64 and IA64 (Itanium) versions. The x86 and x64 versions are also available for separate download (windows6.1-KB976932-X86.exe and windows6.1-KB976932-X64.exe, the 300 MB ‘Symbols’ files are reserved for systems developers), with the 32-bit version at 537 MB and 903 MB for the 64-bit version. The 64-bit file also enables deployment of updates on Windows 2008 Server R2. The standalone downloads are available on Microsoft’s site.

Count on around 70 MB for the x64 version, 10 MB less than the 32 bit version

Note that MSDN subscribers can also download new installation ISOs for Windows 7 where Service Pack 1 has already been integrated, making future installations even easier.

 MSI introduce the P67A-GD80
  Posted on 1298393838 by Guillaume

MSI has sent us the specifications of its forthcoming high-end P67 motherboard. Up until now MSI has settled for bringing out entry and mid-range models, culminating with the P67A-GD65.

This new model, the P67A-GD80, wasn’t announced with the P67 chipset B2 stepping and will only be available in the B3 stepping. Note that, like Asus, MSI will be putting very visible B3 stickers on all the cards in its range, so as to avoid any confusion in shops.

Looking at the specs, MSI is announcing three 16x PCI Express ports but with no detail on their cabling or the inclusion of an NF200 type bridge chip. This option would seem to have been excluded by MSI, who are saying that there’s SLI support on two of the cards and Crossfire on three. It looks likely that the third ‘16x’ PCI Express port is linked up at 4x by the P67 chipset (the two others being split into 8x supplied by the 16x controller integrated into Sandy Bridge processors).

For the rest, apart from the twelve-phase circuit, there’s a THX Tru Studio certified audio codec, two eSATA ports running with a Marvell 88SE9128 chip, two Firewire ports and ten USB 3.0 ports. The price for this model has been announced at 210 euros in Europe with availability coming mid-March, which seems relatively ambitious to us, even if it is probable that manufacturers will deliver the high-end B3 stepping cards first.

 Z68 and LGA 2011
  Posted on 1298389501 by Guillaume

VR-Zone (via Xfastest) have published another slide from the Intel roadmap which focusses on the Intel motherboard strategy.

First of all, two Z68 motherboard models have been announced for the first and second halves of the year. The second model, including two PCI Express 16x ports (cabled at 8x) with Crossfire support and SLI license for NVIDIA and AMD bi-GPU solutions.

LGA 2011, 4 memory channels and 8 DIMMs for the end of the year on desktop.

This slide also seems to confirm for the first time that Intel will opt for socket LGA2011 as the platform to replace the current socket 1366 high-end desktop platform. There was still some doubt as to the strategy that Intel would adopt for its high-end desktop plaform. According to our information, on the server side, Intel will in addition be introducing two distinct solutions for its Sandy Bridge-ENs at the end of the year: socket 1356 (2P, triple channel) and socket 2011 (2P, quad channel). The idea behind this segmentation (a practice that Intel has been employing more and more) being that Intel will be able to fine tune its offer better and eventually give better continuity when platforms are updated.

Note that according to SemiAccurate, the 4P (-EX) platforms will jump straight from Westmere-EX to Ivy Bridge-EX, something that is entirely credible if you think that the Westmere-EXs (4P+, 6-10 cores) are likely to be launched in the first half of this year.

 DDR3: Impact of channels & timings
  Posted on 1298329200 by Damien

What impact does memory currently have on performance? Has DDR3 changed the rules? We’ve checked that with a look at the four platforms currently in use !

> DDR3: Impact of channels & timings

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