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Intel Officially Lifts the Veil On Ivy Bridge

crookedvulture Re:Review Roundup (200 comments)

The Tech Report has chimed in with its own review, which contains a unique look at gaming performance with the integrated graphics and discrete GPUs. There's also a dedicated overclocking article that looks at the experience on four different motherboards.

about 2 years ago

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DirectX 12 promises lower-level hardware access on multiple platforms

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about a month ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "Microsoft formally introduced its DirectX 12 API at the Game Developers Conference this morning. This next-gen programming interface will extend across multiple platforms, from PCs to consoles to mobile devices. Like AMD's Mantle API, it promises reduced CPU overhead and lower-level access to graphics hardware. But DirectX 12 won't be limited to one vendor's hardware. Intel, AMD, Nvidia, and Qualcomm have all pledged to support the API, which will apparently work on a lot of existing systems. Intel's Haswell CPUs are compatible with DirectX 12, as are multiple generations of existing AMD and Nvidia GPUs. A DirectX 12 update is also coming to the Xbox One. The first games to support the API won't arrive until the holiday season of 2015, though. A preview release is scheduled for this year."
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Intel's new desktop SSD is an overclocked server drive

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about 2 months ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "Most of Intel's recent desktop SSDs have followed a familiar formula. Combine off-the-shelf controller with next-gen NAND and firmware tweaks. Rinse. Repeat. The new 730 Series is different, though. It's based on Intel's latest datacenter SSD, which combines a proprietary controller with high-endurance NAND. In the 730 Series, these chips are clocked much higher than their usual speeds. The drive is fully validated to run at the boosted frequencies, and it's rated to endure at least 70GB of writes per day over five years. As one might expect, though, this hot-clocked server SSD is rather pricey for a desktop model. It's slated to sell for around $1/GB, which is close to double the cost of more affordable options. And the 730 Series isn't always faster than its cheaper competition. Although the drive boasts exceptional throughput with random I/O, its sequential transfer rates are nothing special."
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AMD's Kaveri APU debuts with GCN-based Radeon graphics

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about 3 months ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "AMD's next-generation Kaveri APU is now available for sale, and the first reviews have hit the web. The chip combines updated Steamroller CPU cores with integrated graphics based on the latest Radeon graphics cards. It's also infused with a dedicated TrueAudio DSP, a faster memory interface, and several features that fall under AMD's Heterogeneous System Architecture for mixed-mode computing. As expected, the APU's graphics performance is excellent; even the entry level, $119 A8-6700 is capable of playing Battlefield 4 at 1080p with medium detail settings. But the powerful GPU doesn't always translate to superior performance in OpenCL-accelerated applications, where comparable Intel chips are very competitive. Intel still has an advantage in power efficiency and raw CPU performance, too. Kaveri's CPU cores are certainly an improvement over the previous generation of Richland chips, but they can't match the per-thread throughput of Intel's rival Haswell CPU. In the end, Kaveri's appeal largely rests on whether the integrated graphics are fast enough for your needs. Serious gamers are better off with discrete GPUs, but more casual players can benefit from the extra Radeon horsepower. Eventually, HSA-enabled applications may benefit, as well."
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Retail Radeon R9 290X graphics cards slower than AMD's press samples

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about 4 months ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "AMD's recently introduced Radeon R9 290X is one of the fastest graphics cards around. However, the cards sent to reviewers differ somewhat from the retail units available for purchase. The press samples run at higher clock speeds and deliver better performance as a result. There's some variance in clock speeds between different press and retail cards, too. Part of the problem appears to be AMD's PowerTune mechanism, which dynamically adjusts GPU frequencies in response to temperature and power limits. AMD doesn't guarantee a base clock speed, saying only that the 290X runs at "up to 1GHz." Real-world clock speeds are a fair bit lower than that, and the retail cards suffer more than the press samples. Cooling seems to be a contributing factor. AMD issued a driver update that raises fan speeds, and that helps the performance of some retail cards. Retail units remain slower than the cards seeded to the press, though. Flashing retail cards with the press firmware raises clock speeds slightly, but it doesn't entirely close the gap, either. AMD hasn't explained why the retail cards are slower than expected, and it's possible the company cherry-picked the samples sent to the press. At the very least, it's clear that the 290X exhibits more card-to-card variance than we're used to seeing in a PC graphics product."
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AMD's mid-range Radeon R9 270 includes BF4 for $179

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about 5 months ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "This season's recent string of graphics card launches continues with the Radeon R9 270. AMD's latest mid-range contender has a $179 asking price, and it comes with a free copy of Battlefield 4. It's also fast enough to play the game at 1080p resolution with ultra details. Like the bulk of AMD's new Radeons, the 270 isn't based on a new chip; it's just another spin on the Pitcairn GPU behind last year's Radeon HD 7870, this time with a tighter power envelope. But the new Radeon still delivers a smoother gaming experience than equivalent the GeForce, with lower frame latencies and higher FPS averages. And, unlike AMD's latest Hawaii-based Radeon R9 290 and 290X, the R9 270 is no louder than the competition. Speaking of rivals, the similarly priced GeForce GTX 660 has been around for more than a year. Nvidia may counter with an update of its own, just like it did with the GeForce GTX 780 Ti. The back and forth battle between the two graphics giants continues to deliver great value for gamers. As the next-gen consoles approach, it feels increasingly like PC gamers have it better than ever."
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AMD's Radeon R9 290 delivers 290X performance for $150 less

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about 5 months ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "The back and forth battle for PC graphics supremacy is quite a thing to behold. Last week, Nvidia cut GeForce prices in response to the arrival of AMD's latest Radeons. That move caused AMD to rejigger its plans for the new Radeon R9 290, which debuted today with a higher default fan speed and faster performance than originally planned. This $399 card offers almost identical performance to AMD's flagship R9 290X for $150 less. Indeed, it's often faster than Nvidia's $1000 GeForce Titan. But the 290 also consumes a lot more power, and its fan spins up to 49 decibels under load. Fortunately, the acoustic profile isn't too grating. Radeon R9 290 isn't the only new graphics card due this week, either. Nvidia is scheduled to unveil its GeForce GTX 780 Ti on November 7, and that card could further upset the balance at the high end of the GPU market. As AMD and Nvidia trade blows, PC gamers seem to be the ones who benefit."
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AMD's new Radeons revisit old silicon, enable dormant features

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about 6 months ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "The first reviews of AMD's Radeon R7 and R9 graphics cards have hit the web, revealing cards based on the same GPU technology used in the existing HD 7000 series. The R9 280X is basically a tweaked variant of the Radeon HD 7970 GHz priced at $300 instead of $400, while the R9 270X is a revised version of the Radeon HD 7870 for $200. Thanks largely to lower prices, the R9 models compare favorably to rival GeForce offerings, even if there's nothing exciting going on at the chip level. There's more intrigue with the Radeon R7 260X, which shares the same GPU silicon as the HD 7790 for only $140. Turns out that graphics chip has some secret functionality that's been exposed by the R7 260X, including advanced shaders, simplified multimonitor support, and a TrueAudio DSP block dedicated to audio processing. AMD's current drivers support the shaders and multimonitor mojo in the 7790 right now, and a future update promises to unlock the DSP. The R7 260X isn't nearly as appealing as the R9 cards, though. It's slower overall than not only GeForce 650 Ti Boost cards from Nvidia, but also AMD's own Radeon HD 7850 1GB. We're still waiting on the Radeon R9 290X, which will be the first graphics card based on AMD's next-gen Hawaii GPU."
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SSHDs debut on the desktop with mixed results

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about 6 months ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "Seagate's solid-state hybrid drives have finally made it to the desktop. The latest generation of SSHDs debuted with a 2.5" notebook model that was ultimately hampered by its slow 5,400-RPM spindle speed. The Desktop SSHD has the same 8GB flash payload and Adaptive Memory caching scheme. However, it's equipped with 2TB of much faster 7,200-RPM mechanical storage. The onboard flash produces boot and load times only a little bit slower than those of full-blown SSDs. It also delivers quicker response times than traditional hard drives. That said, the relatively small cache is overwhelmed by some benchmarks, and its mechanical sidekick isn't as fast as the best traditional hard drives. The price premium is a little high, too: an extra $30 for the 1TB model and $40 for the 2TB variant, which is nearly enough to buy a separate 32GB SSD. Seagate's software-independent caching system works with any operating system and hardware platform, so it definitely has some appeal. But dual-drive setups are probably the better solution for most desktop users."
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Nvidia unveils its own 7" Tegra Note tablet

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about 6 months ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "Nvidia has already produced a gaming handheld based on its quad-core Tegra 4 SoC. Today, the company announced plans to build a 7" Tegra Note tablet that uses the same chip. Rather than selling the tablet itself, Nvidia will make the device available through parters like EVGA and PNY. Asking price: $199. That seems a little steep given the Tegra Note's 1280x800 display resolution, which delivers a much lower PPI than the 1080p panel in the latest Nexus 7. But the Tegra Note does have some perks, including front-facing speakers, Micro HDMI output, microSD expansion, and an optional stylus. The tablet also boasts a fancy camera that taps into the Tegra chip's photography engine. Nvidia promises to keep the device updated with the latest versions of Android, too. You can expect to see the Tegra Note for sale worldwide in the next few months."
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First Bay Trail convertible to start at $349

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about 7 months ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "Bay Trail has its first convertible design win. Intel's newest SoC will be available in Asus' Transformer Book T100, which combines a 10.1" Windows 8.1 tablet with a keyboard dock that includes a gesture-friendly touchpad and USB 3.0 connectivity. The tablet is powered by an Atom Z3740 processor with quad cores clocked at up to 1.8GHz—600MHz slower than the Z3770 chip benchmarked by the press. The screen has a relatively low 1366x768 resolution, but at least the IPS panel delivers wide viewing angles. Asus clearly intends the T100 to be an entry level device; the 32GB version is slated to sell for just $349, and the 64GB one will cost only 50 bucks more. Those prices include the keyboard dock and a copy of Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013. They also bring Windows 8 convertibles down to truly budget territory, completing the collision between tablets and netbooks."
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Seagate's Shingled Magnetic Recording tech boosts HDD capacities

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about 7 months ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "Seagate has begun shipping hard drives based on a new technology dubbed Shingled Magnetic Recording. SMR, as it's called, preserves the perpendicular bit orientation of current HDDs but changes the way that tracks are organized. Instead of laying out the tracks individually, SMR stacks them on top of each other in a staggered fashion that resembles the shingles on a roof. Although this overlap enables higher bit densities, it comes with a penalty. Rewrites compromise the data on the following track, which must be read and rewritten, which in turn compromises the data on the following track, and so on. SMR distributes the layered tracks in narrow bands to mitigate the performance penalty associated with rewrites. The makeup of those bands will vary based on the drive's intended application. We should see the first examples of SMR next year, when Seagate intends to introduce a 5GB drive with 1.25TB per platter. Traditional hard drives top out at 4TB and 1TB per platter right now."
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Intel's next-gen Atom C2000 CPUs destined for micro servers, ARM showdown

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about 7 months ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "Intel has revealed the first server-grade processors based on its next-generation Atom platform. The Atom C2000 series is derived from the Avoton and Rangeley SoCs, which feature eight CPU cores based on the Silvermont architecture. The chips are fabbed on Intel's 22-nm "tri-gate" process and have a dual-channel DDR3 memory interface, 16 lanes of PCI Express 2.0, and four Gigabit Ethernet connectors built in. Rangely, which is designed to power networking hardware, also sports dedicated logic to crunch encryption algorithms. There are 13 chips in the Atom C2000 series, including lower-power variants with two and four cores. Thanks to those Silvermont cores, the chips all support the x86 ISA and 64-bit memory addressing. Expect Intel to make a lot of noise about the Atom's x86 compatibility as it stakes out its claim in the micro-server space ahead of ARM-based chips based on the Cortex-A57."
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Entry-level Samsung 840 EVO SSD combines TLC NAND with SLC cache

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about 9 months ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "Samsung is the biggest NAND producer is the world, making it particularly well positioned to produce solid-state drives. The firm's latest 840 EVO SSD is a perfect example of why. The EVO combines high-density TLC NAND with an SLC write cache that mitigates some of the performance pitfalls associated with three-bit flash memory. Heavy, write-intensive workloads can saturate the cache, knocking the 840 EVO down a peg, but the drive offers solid all-around performance for consumer access patterns. Its second-generation TLC NAND appears to be robust enough for the long haul, too. Samsung says the flash should endure 2,500 write/erase cycles, which is more than sufficient to survive for years in typical client environments. The high-density flash is key to the EVO's budget appeal; the drive serves up to a terabyte of storage for as little as $0.63 per gig. Despite the entry-level pricing, the EVO still boasts robust encryption support and slick management and data migration software. Beware of the 120 and 250GB models, though. They have substantially lower sustained write speeds than the higher-capacity variants."
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New GeForce highlights performance parity between AMD and Nvidia

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about 10 months ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "Nvidia released the GeForce GTX 760 today. The $250 card is an updated spin on an existing GPU, so it doesn't raise the bar dramatically. In fact, the GTX 760 achieves rough performance parity with the Radeon HD 7950 Boost, which costs just a little bit more. The situation is similar at around $400, where the contest between the GeForce GTX 770 and Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition is a toss-up overall. These price/performance scatter plots paint the picture clearly. AMD has largely resolved its previous frame latency issues with new drivers, making the battle between GeForce and Radeon more about extras than performance. Nvidia offers software to optimize game settings and record gameplay sessions, while AMD includes download codes for recent games. You really can't go wrong either way. Even the $250 cards have little problem running the latest games with all the eye candy turned up at the 2560x1440 resolution typical of 27" monitors."
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Intel removes "free" overclocking from standard Haswell CPUs

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about 10 months ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "With its Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors, Intel allowed standard Core i5 and i7 CPUs to be overclocked by up to 400MHz using Turbo multipliers. Reaching for higher speeds required pricier K-series chips, but everyone got access to a little "free" clock headroom. Haswell isn't quite so accommodating. Intel has disabled limited multiplier control for non-K CPUs, effectively limiting overclocking to the Core i7-4770K and i5-4670K. Those chips cost $20-30 more than their standard counterparts, and surprisingly, they're missing a few features. The K-series parts lack the support for transactional memory extensions and VT-d device virtualization included with standard Haswell CPUs. PC enthusiasts now have to choose between overclocking and support for certain features even when purchasing premium Intel processors. AMD also has overclocking-friendly K-series parts, but it offers more models at lower prices, and it doesn't remove features available on standard CPUs."
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GeForce GTX 780 graphics card uses de-tuned Titan GPU

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about a year ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "Nvidia's GK110 graphics chip is a 7.1-billion-transistor monster. It powers the firm's compute-focused Tesla K20 and its ultra-high-end GeForce GTX Titan graphics card. Today, a de-tuned version of the chip makes its debut in the GeForce GTX 780. This new card has three of GK110's 15 SMX units disabled, allowing Nvidia to use GPU silicon that didn't make the grade for its Titan and Tesla products. The GTX 780 also scales back GK110's support for double-precision FP math, which is important for compute applications but unnecessary for games. Speaking of which, the GTX 780 nearly matches the gaming performance of the thousand-dollar GTX Titan. It's quieter under load and costs a staggering 35% less, too. The $650 asking price is still incredibly steep, but this is just the first member of the GeForce 700 series. Nvidia is expected to fill out the family with less expensive cards."
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HGST intros world's first 1.5TB notebook drive

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about a year ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "For years, three-platter notebook hard drives have been too thick to actually fit into most notebook drive bays. HGST's Travelstar 5K1500 is different; it squeezes three platters into a notebook-friendly 9.5-mm casing. Shrinking the drive's circuit board and internal mechanics allowed HGST to cram in the extra platter. Thanks to the additional disc, the Travelstar boasts 1.5TB of storage—50% more capacity than its 9.5-mm peers. The platters spin at only 5,400 RPM, so this isn't a high-performance model. To make up for the slower rotational speed, notebook makers are expected to combine the 5K1500 with separate caching SSDs."
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WD explains its software-based SSHD tech

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about a year ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "Seagate and Toshiba both offer hybrid hard drives that manage their built-in flash caches entirely in firmware. WD has taken a different approach with its Black SSHD, which instead uses driver software to govern its NAND cache. The driver works with the operating system to determine what to store in the flash. Unfortunately, it's Windows-only. You can choose between two drivers, though. WD has developed one of its own, and Intel will offer a separate driver attached to its upcoming Haswell platform. While WD remains tight-lipped on the speed of the Black's mechanical portion, it's confirmed that the flash is provided by a customized SanDisk iSSD embedded on the drive. The iSSD and mechanical drive connect to each other and to the host system through a Serial ATA bridge chip, making the SSHD look more like a highly integrated dual-drive solution than a single, standalone device. With Intel supporting this approach, the next generation of hybrid drives appears destined to be software-based."
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Intel details Silvermont microarchitecture for next-gen Atoms

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about a year ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "Since their debut five years ago, Intel's low-power Atom microprocessors have relied on the same basic CPU core. That changes with the next generation, which will employ an all-new Silvermont microarchitecture built using a customized version of Intel's tri-gate, 22-nm fabrication process. Silvermont ditches the in-order design of previous Atoms in favor of an out-of-order approach based on a dual-core module equipped with 1MB of shared L2 cache. The design boasts improved power sharing between the CPU and integrated graphics, allowing the CPU cores to scale up to higher speeds depending on system load and platform thermals. Individual cores can be shut down completely to provide additional clock headroom or to conserve power. Intel claims Silvermont doubles the single-threaded performance of its Saltwell predecessor at the same power level, and that dual-core variants have lower peak power draw and higher performance than quad-core ARM SoCs. Silvermont also marks the Atom's adoption of the "tick-tock" update cadence that guides the development of Intel's Core processors. The successor to Silvermont will be built on 14-nm process tech, and an updated microarchitecture is due after that."
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Haswell integrated graphics promise 2-3X performance boost

crookedvulture crookedvulture writes  |  about a year ago

crookedvulture (1866146) writes "Intel has revealed fresh details about the integrated graphics in upcoming Haswell processors. The fastest variants of the built-in GPU will be known as Iris and Iris Pro graphics, with the latter boasting embedded DRAM. Unlike Ivy Bridge, which reserves its fastest GPU implementations for mobile parts, the Haswell family will include R-series desktop chips with the full-fat GPU. These processors are likely bound for all-in-one systems, and they'll purportedly offer close to three times the graphics performance of their predecessors. Intel says notebook users can look forward to a smaller 2X boost, while 15-17W ultrabook CPUs benefit from an increase closer to 1.5X. Haswell's integrated graphics has other perks aside from better performance, including faster Quick Sync video transcoding, MJPEG acceleration, and support for 4K resolutions. The new IGP will support DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 4.0, and OpenCL 1.2, as well."
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