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News of the day

  • MSI ready for Gulftown
  • Toshiba: SSD with 32nm NAND Flash!
  • CES: 3D Vision Surround
  • CES: NVIDIA launch Tegra 2
  • CES: MSI Big Bang Fuzion
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     MSI ready for Gulftown
      Posted on 08/01/2010 at 14:37 by Benoit
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    While the Core i7 980X (alias Gulftown) will certainly use socket LGA 1366, compatibility with existing X58 motherboards hasn’t yet been confirmed by the manufacturers and we are only getting information little by little.

    After Asus, it’s now over to MSI to adapt BIOS’ for its cards to house the Intel hexa-core. The cards involved are the Eclipse Plus, Eclipse SLI, X58 Platinum SLI, X58 Platinum, X58 Pro, X58 Pro-E et X58M. Owners of these cards can already download the new BIOS’ though Gulftown itself won’t be out until March.

     Toshiba: SSD with 32nm NAND Flash!
      Posted on 08/01/2010 at 14:26 by Benoit - source: Toshiba
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    Just like for processors, fineness of engraving is an important component of an SSD. A lower engraving process allows you to reduce production costs and increase density of memory chips, giving higher capacities and performance while reducing the cost per gigabyte.

    Up till now Micron have been the only manufacturer to produce 34 nm NAND Flash, used in the celebrated Intel X-25M Postville. This is about to change, with Toshiba announcing a series of 32 nm SSDs!

    Toshiba have announced 7 models, the first of which are expected sometime between now and March, with mass availabiltiy between April and June. The range will be divided between “High Performance” or “HG” and standard “SG” models. They all support TRIM and read speeds have been announced at 250 MB/s and writes at 180 MB/s. Capacities go from 64 to 512 GB depending on the model, with an MTTF of 1 million hours.

    Toshiba is offering these SSDs in an impressive number of formats, going from the standard 2.5" case, 9.5 mm height model to the 1.8" case and 1.8" caseless or without an SATA interface and with a direct connection. Half-length 1.8" versions will also be available as well as mSATA (mini card format) versions. This range of formats should mean these SSDs can be used on all types of device, from desktop PCs to laptops and netbooks.

    No mention is made of the controller used or how much these new SSDs will cost. No doubt Toshiba’s arrival on the 32 nm NAND Flash memory market will dynamise an already very lively sector. 2010 is certainly set to be the year of the SSD!

     CES: 3D Vision Surround
      Posted on 08/01/2010 at 09:03 by Damien
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    To try and pull the rug from out under AMD, get a bit more attention for Fermi and make sure that 3D Vision isn’t competing with Eyefinity, NVIDIA has unveiled 3D Vision Surround. This development of 3D Vision, announced as compatible with Fermi or the GF100, allows the use of 3D stereoscopy across a grouping of 3 screens. This obviously implies that surround gaming will be supported in standard mode as well. The only unknown: will a single card be enough for the solution or will you need the outs of two cards? One thing is sure however, this mode will put a lot of demands on the card and will probably be more at ease with a multi-GPU solution.

    Note, still on Fermi, that Jen Hsun Huang confirmed that the GPU was now in production.

     CES: NVIDIA launch Tegra 2
      Posted on 08/01/2010 at 08:44 by Damien
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    NVIDIA CEO, Jen Hsun Huang, opened CES with the official announcement of the new SoC Tegra, or Tegra 2, without however using any product names or announcing detailed specs except on the CPU side (a dualcore ARM Cortex A9). We imagine that beyond these details it shares much with the current Tegra that’s used in the Zune HD. NVIDIA’s demos were relatively impressive when you think that a little SoC such as this new Tegra can do as much, if not more, than a PC could a few years ago!

    NVIDIA CEA, Jen Hsun Huang and the “new Tegra” platform.

    Tegra is an enormous potential market for NVIDIA who are presenting this product as a revolution, a one-of-a-kind. The market is nonetheless very competitive. Numerous opportunities exist ranging from smartphones to netbooks and multimedia players to tablets (the new “in” device that looks as if it’s finally going to take off this year). NVIDIA is counting on being part of it and is already showing off prototypes, without however saying whether they’re based on the current or the new Tegra. It remains to be seen when these products will materialise, Asus having told us for example that they were only at prototype stage and that the final product would take a different form.

    NVIDIA has also found an interesting application for Tegra with Audi, whose new interface uses a Tegra in a version adapted to extreme conditions. This system will first be introduced with the Audi A8 and will be rolled out across the other models to cover the whole range by 2010.

    NVIDIA’s advantage still lies in its graphics expertise, which has in particular made it possible for Epic to port unreal Engine 3 to Tegra architecture. In fact, Epic hasn’t committed resources only to support the Zune HD and has ported its engine for ARM architecture which is very widespread and set to become crucial in the video gaming sector. The good news is however that the Tegra graphics controller is supported. Others probably are as well but we imagine that NVIDIA is very competitive here. Note that if you’re interested you’ll soon be able to get a “new Tegra” development kit from NIVIDIA’s site – NVIDIA are of course hoping to multiply the number of applications designed for its SoC.

     CES: MSI Big Bang Fuzion
      Posted on 08/01/2010 at 08:03 by Damien
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    We’ve had the first motherboard with Lucid’s Hydra technology in our labs for a few weeks. Made by MSI, this ultra-high end motherboard, based on the P55 chipset, is identical to the Big Bang Trinity, except that the NVIDIA PCI Express NF200 switch is replaced by a Lucid Hydra 200 controller.

    To recap, the principal behind the Lucid technology is to use a software and hardware combination to make a multi-GPU without using AMD or NVIDIA drivers. In contrast to NVIDIA and AMD drivers, Lucid drivers don’t distribute images or bits of image to each of the GPUs but rather part of the rendering commands. No need to tell you that there are still a lot of unknowns here and that the approach is a good deal more complex. Lucid says however that the solution gives better performance in some cases and above all that it allows any combination of graphics cards you chose, including a GeForce with a Radeon. In our tests, while combining cards within the same range worked in many games, though with bugs from time to time, combining Radeons with GeForces didn’t work at all… except with 3Dmark and a handful of games with very simple rendering but which suffered from bugs in terms of quality and stability. So, though obviously certain review sites were convinced by an exclusive preview organised by Lucid, we shouldn’t get carried away: in practice it isn’t usable yet.

    MSI has chosen to launch its Big Bang Fuzion card at CES but we decided not to test it straight away as the technology didn’t yet seem to be up to the mark and we decided to wait for more advanced drivers that unfortunately arrived just when we were flying off to CES. According to MSI, who we interviewed at the show, the difference between the old and new drivers is like night and day. We’ll have a look when we get back.

    It remains to be seen how useful the system is in practice as if you’re going to shell out €400 on a motherboard, you’ll no doubt also want a high performance graphics card such as a Radeon HD 5800 rather than a couple of older generation cards. According to MSI, this won’t be a problem in terms of the positioning of the product whose goal is to offer a maximum of flexibility and position the MSI brand as a leader in terms of innovation and engineering. With this product and the rest of the Big Bang family, MSI want to show what its teams are capable of and try to create a higher end brand image. To depend on Lucid’s supply of dependable drivers seems a risky strategy!

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