ATI has just published Catalyst 8.3 which functions with all of this company’s GPUs/IGPs that support DirectX 9.0, 10 or 10.1.
Of course, the two main innovations are the introduction of Hybrid Graphics and CrossFireX technologies. Thanks to the latter, it is now possible to combine the power of 3 or 4 GPUs. So AMD’s graphic division can boast of being the first to feature a quad GPU, although there is still a ways to go before it’s entirely functional.
Indeed, if on the hardware side the CrossFireX proves to be rather flexible, in terms of software only DirectX 9 games are entirely supported at this time while of those developed with DirectX 10, only a few titles currently are. This is notably the case for Call of Juarez. As for those based on OpenGL, we will just have to be patient. Finally, CrossFireX is only possible with Windows Vista which has just had its first birthday.
There are other innovations in these drivers including official support of DirectX 10.1 (should be available in mid-March at the same time as the Service Pack 1), improved multi-screen management for CrossFire configurations and anti-aliasing support for the Unreal Engine 3.0 (in DirectX 9). Tessellation is finally integrated to drivers but it is reserved to the Radeon HD 3800 and only possible in DirectX 9. Moreover, HydraVision is now supported in Windows Vista.
Not being able to resist the opportunity at the CeBIT, ATI took advantage of the presence of the journalists to stress performance gains added with the evolution of CrossFire drivers since June.
These figures however should be put into perspective because in the case of Company of Heroes in DirectX 10 or World in Conflict in DirectX 9 for example, they did not benefit (or very little) from CrossFire (and therefore a second GPU) before October. So in short, in these conditions it’s not difficult to show significant gains even if there has been real improvements in some cases.
As for improvements with Catalyst 8.3, Company of Heroes (DirectX 10) can be up to 17% faster with Radeon HD 3800s (particularly in lower resolutions), Crysis (DirectX 10) up to 15% with all Radeon HDs, Lost Planet (DirectX 9) up to 36% and also with Radeons from previous generations, and Unreal Tournament 2004 up to 10% with CrossFire configurations equipped with Radeon HD 2400, HD 2600 or HD 3400s.
To this add the traditional number of bug fixes. This notably concerns Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Guitar Hero 3, Halo 2, Oblivion, Resident Evil 4, Splinter Cell Double Agent, World of Conflict and World of Warcraft.
All the details are found in the release notes and for the drivers, which are destined for 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows XP & Vista, it’s here!
At the CeBIT, a number of graphic card manufacturers are displaying at least one model that offers a DisplayPort connection, the norm that will replace DVI and HDMI. The main advantage compared to HDMI is that it doesn’t require a license for its use.
Zotac, for example, is presenting a GeForce 8800 GT equipped with this graphic port as well as different adaptors to DVI (hard or flexible) and HDMI.
At HIS’ booth, there is a rather particular card on display whose purpose is to reduce PC interference and which according to its creator improves your gaming experience. While for some time now we have noticed a lack of additional cards in PCI Express 1x format leaving these ports unused, HIS apparently has found a solution: fill them with cards that serve no purpose!
One thing is sure, HIS isn’t afraid of looking ridiculous!
Yesterday, Samsung launched its second 2" ½ hard drive, the Spinpoint MP2, which functions at a speed of 7200 rpm. It is equipped with two platters with a capacity as high as 250 GB versus 200 GB for the M1 introduced in April. Of course, we are still far from the 500 GB attained by some 2" ½ drives although these do not surpass 5400 rpm.
It has an SATA-II (3.0 Gbits/s) type interface, a cache of 16 MB and it supports Native Command Queuing. Destined for desktop replacement laptops, work stations and servers, performances should be interesting. No precise figures were given in this area or for power consumption which could be significant. The first samples, reserved for OEMs, will be delivered before the end of the month.
Samsung (again!!!) is using the CeBIT as a free consumer survey. Are you for or against higher definitions on the diagonal sizes you are familiar with? What about a 22 inch in 1920 x 1200 pixels? Or a 19 inch with 1.8 megapixels, in other words 1680 x 1050? Or even a 23 inch screen with a width of 2048 pixels?
The current success of the EEE PC from ASUSTeK combined with the upcoming arrival of Intel Atom processors couldn’t help attracting the interest of other manufacturers which are still looking for potential markets. It was in this context that Gigabyte presented the M528 at the CeBIT.
This MID is based on the Menlow platform. It has an Atom set at 800 MHz, 512 MB of RAM, 2 or 4 GB of flash for storage, a tactile screen with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, autonomy between 3 and 4 hours for a weight of around 300 grams. As for the OS, Gigabyte has opted for Linux Ubuntu Mobile. We will have to wait until the third quarter for the first models to arrive.
Besides ASUSTeK and Gigabyte, expect UMPCs and/or MIDs from MSI, Medion, Gecube, Elonex, E-Lead and Clevo amongst others. We can therefore logically hope that prices will be lower in the coming months.
At the CeBIT, Seagate has just announced that this month it would deliver the first of its 6th generation of Cheetah drives. You may recall, these are professional 15 000 rpm 3"1/2 drives from Seagate which first made an appearance in early 2000.
While for the 15K.5, there are versions planned with a Serial Attached SCSI or Fiber Channel interface, models supporting Ultra320 SCSI do not seem to be in the works. For capacity, it’s a question of 145, 300 and 450 GB. Equipped with 16 MB of cache, it offers interesting performances as its creator announces a transfer rate as high as 164 MB /s versus 125 MB /s for its predecessor.
As for power consumption, Seagate mentions a 61% improvement in terms of watt per GB in idle thanks to PowerTrim technology without any other precisions. Finally, MTBF is announced at 1.6 million hours while the warranty is still limited to 5 years.
The Optimus Maximus based on OLED keys is no longer a myth and will arrive this month in France with at least two distributers for the “mere” price of 1499 Euros for the complete version. In reality, the bill could be a bit lower because the basic kit, a "normal" keyboard with just a modified space bar, is at 369 Euros. You can then add 1 to 113 keys for 10 Euros a pièce for a maximum price of 1499 Euros everything included. The other very good news is that the Optimus Maximus, which we quickly tested at the French distributor’s stand, proved to be of much better quality than its three key version tested last year. Finishing touches are much nicer and more precise, keys respond better, contrast in images is greatly superior, and readability has been improved.
Here, it’s packed with new trends and innovations! The CeBIT is traditionally an event for the announcement of new technology and this 2008 edition is no certainly no exception. One manufacturer, however, has been particularly innovative: Samsung. The most interesting LCD news that stood out for us today would have to be the arrival of the first 22 inch equipped with a PVA panel. This monitor is the Samsung SyncMaster 2263PW :
The second major discovery is that there isn’t just one 22 inch LCD that will make up the T series but rather two. You may recall, this series has strong chances of dominating the 22 inch competition in the second half of the year given its very attractive characteristics. On the one side, there will be the T20P and on the other a T220HD, equipped with an TNT HD tuner, SCART, YUV, and video correction filters.
Number four: in April, BenQ will launch the V2400W, a superb 2 ms 24 inch with an HDMI input. It should "only" cost 549 Euros despite its exceptional finishing touches. Unfortunately, after a quick look at this product at BenQ’s stand, a severe defect immediately stood out:
Although it should be officially launched at the Computex in early June, the Intel P45 chipset which replaces the P35 already exists and is functional. For the moment, it’s only in the A0 version, but the final A2 should arrive in sample form starting at the end of March for motherboard production that will start in mid-April.
In itself, the P45 is just a minor evolution of the P35. There is still FSB1333; however, the change is made from DDR3-1066 to DDR3-1333 (in practice this setting already functions) and from 8 to 16 GB of memory. PCI Express 2 support is also present just like with the X38. Note that there will be a less expensive version, the P43, which will be limited to 8 GB of memory and PCI Express 1.0, suggesting simply a renamed P35. As for the ICH, no major changes with the ICH10 but it will have standard support of 6 SATA in AHCI, while the classic ICH9 only supports 4 SATA without AHCI (versus 6 in AHCI for a more expensive ICH9R). Of course, RAID will remain limited to the « R » version.
While waiting for a more complete line, Gigabyte will have only two models : the GA-P45-DS3R and GA-P45-DS4. The latter being more in the high end, it will integrate a heatpipe based cooling system as well as a 3rd PCI-E x16 slot.
For MSI, no less than five P45 motherboards were presented at their stand! The P45 Neo is a basic model in DDR2 while the P45 Neo3 adds a heatpipe based cooling system. Next comes the P45 Platinum with a DDR2 and DDR3 version (a combination of the two should arrive later), adding amongst other things two additional SATA (for a total of 8), a second PCI Express x16 port and new MOSFETS specific to MSI. This last component is called DrMos and is announced as being more efficient and heating up less. Finally, the P45 Diamond goes even further by integrating a PCI Express IDT bridge which allows having 3 graphic ports as well as no less than 13 SATA ports !
Finally, ASUSTeK presents three motherboards in its P5Q line based on the P45: the P5Q-E and P5Q Deluxe in DDR2, and the P5QC with a combined DDR2/3. The 4th P45 is the Maximus II Extreme which is equipped with Fusion Block type cooling and a Crosslinx system which enables a 3rd graphic port.
The nForce 790i SLI, planned for mid-March, was obviously present at the expo, notably by ASUSTeK, Gigabyte and MSI. ASUS will offer an Ultra version with its Striker II Extreme equipped with a Fusion Block or water cooling. On the other hand, it «only» has 3 PCI Express x16 ports where the Gigabyte and MSI have 4. By the way, on MSI’s P7N2 Diamond the 3rd and 4th ports are very close while they are well spaced out on the GA-790SLI-DQ6.
You may recall, the nForce 790i SLI adds native PCI-E 2 as well as DDR3 support. FSB1600 will be officially supported while for DDR3, it’s still officially a question of DDR3-1333. Gigabyte however mentions DDR3-1600 on the PCB of its motherboard and ASUSTeK goes even further with DDR3-2000 on its product sheet.