Sandeep Venugopal’s Weblog

August 11, 2008

Intel Larrabee, own graphic chip line!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 7:39 pm
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Intel has unveiled details of the chip that will spearhead its move into computer graphics. It has revealed blueprints for the Larrabee chip that is scheduled to first appear in finished products in late 2009 or early 2010. Larrabee will be a stand-alone graphics processor unlike the onboard chips it produces for many PC makers. The move will bring Intel into direct competition with graphics specialists Nvidia and the ATI division of AMD. Intel is aiming to put Larrabee into graphics cards for PCs that help show games and video in very high detail. Like existing graphics chips from Nvidia and ATI, Larrabee is expected to have many separate processing cores onboard.

So far Intel has not said how many processing cores Larrabee will have onboard at launch or in subsequent generations. Future Nvidia and ATI graphics chips are expected to be made up of several hundred cores. While Intel will initially target the PC graphics card market, it expects the raw computer power in the chip to help with oil and gas exploration, medical imaging and financial services in the future. Many scientists and researchers already use coupled graphics cards as a desktop supercomputer that helps them carry out simulations far faster and cheaper than on a larger dedicated machine. Intel said it would release more details about Larrabee at the upcoming Siggraph computer graphics conference due to be held in Los Angeles from 12-15 August.

Source: BBC,  Martin

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July 26, 2008

Intel announces high-end CPU price cuts! Yipeee!

Intel announced prices for some of its latest, most powerful chips that might disappoint digital gaming enthusiasts because they’re more expensive than reports had speculated. The latest Intel processors for gamers, the Intel Core 2 Extreme Quad-Core processors for desktop PCs that run at 3.2GHz will cost US$1,499 each in lots of 1000 processors, with a slightly different version for $1,399. Another version of the chip that runs at 3.0GHz will cost $999 in the same amounts, according to Intel’s latest price list. Gamer blogs and some news reports had speculated the new 3.2GHz Core 2 Extreme Quad-Core might come out priced at around $999, far less than Intel actually announced.

Each of the new chips comes with four calculating engines on board for more realistic 3D images and ultra-fast gaming speeds, according to Intel. Several gaming PCs have already been designed around the chip family, including Velocity Micro’s Raptor Signature Edition for around $5,995, which will ship next month and Gateway’s FX541XG for around $2,707.99, which starts shipping this week. The Core 2 Extreme Quad-Core chips had been code-named Bloomfield. A price war with rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) over the past few years has helped push microprocessor prices generally lower. Microprocessors made for laptop PCs have held up better in price because the laptop PC market has been growing at a breakneck pace.

Source: PC World, Martin

July 20, 2008

Intel’s profit rises by 25%, notebooks help!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 8:37 pm
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Intel Corp said on Tuesday quarterly net income rose 25 percent, helped by strong sales of microprocessors used in notebook computers, and gave a revenue forecast that topped expectations. The world’s biggest chipmaker also reported an improved gross margin for the second quarter, but it was slightly below the midpoint of its own forecast range due to price pressures. For the current quarter, Intel said it expects revenue of $10.0 billion to $10.6 billion, compared with the average analyst forecast of $10.0 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.

Intel has been benefiting from brisk sales of notebook PCs, which are on track to outpace sales of desktop PCs this year. On Monday, Intel rolled out the latest generation of its Centrino wireless chip after a delay of several months. Shares of Intel ticked higher following the results, after gaining 1.2 percent in regular Nasdaq trading. “I like the revenue outlook and the gross margin outlook,” said Doug Freedman, an analyst with American Technology Research. “The only slight negative is the spending level on marketing and general administration is slightly higher.”

Source: Reuters, Martin

July 5, 2008

AMD introduces quadcore Phenom for desktops! Sweet!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 9:10 pm
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On Tuesday, AMD announced a new version of its flagship “Black” Phenom X4, as well as two energy-efficient versions of the Phenom X4 chip. However, the AMD Phenom X4 9950 Black Edition does not command a flagship price: AMD is charging a suggested retail price of just $235 for the 2.6-GHz chip. AMD also released the AMD Phenom X4 9350e, a 2.0-GHz processor for $195; and the AMD Phenom X4 9150e, a 1.8-GHz version for $175. All three chips are manufactured on AMD’s 65-nm process, contain 2 Mbytes of a shard level 3 cache and include 512 Kbytes of level-2 cache per core.

AMD’s new Black processor consumes 140 watts at maximum, an increase over the 9850, which consumes 125 watts. However, the chip also ships with AMD’s OverDrive software with clock multiplier control, allowing users to scale down the performance to save power, or dial it up for more performance. At Computex, Asus released a list of boards that could accept the new 140-watt Black chips. The energy-efficient Phenom X4s, on the other hand, consume no more than 65 watts in total. All of AMD’s current chips are built with 65-nanometer transistors. Processors with 45-nanometer technology are expected this year. Starting late last year, Intel moved its product line to 45 nanometers, which means more transistors on a chip to deliver better power-to-performance ratios.

Source: Martin

June 8, 2008

AMD introduces Puma, laptop solution!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 10:23 pm
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For the next few months, the big battleground is likely to be in notebook computer platforms, where both companies have new offerings, many of which are being rolled out at this week’s Computex show in Taiwan. AMD today formally introduced its new notebook platform, which has been referred to under the code-name of Puma, though officially it’s just the next generation notebook platform. The CPU is the Turion X2 Ultra chip (formerly code-named “Griffin”), which basically is two K8 cores (the same cores used in the Athlon processors) with some interesting new features: independent dynamic cores let the chip set different power levels for each core and the integrated “north bridge” chip, power optimized HyperTransport 3; a a mobile-optimized memory controller designed for DDR-800 memory.

The heart of the platform is the new 7-series chipset with support for the ATI Mobility Radeon 3000 family of graphics and Wi-Fi support from a third-party chipset (such as Atheros, Broadcom, or Marvell). The graphics come in several flavors. Most distinctive is the HD 3000 integrated graphics solution, which includes support for Avivo HD (for better hardware-assistend HD decode). AMD believes this will far outperform Intel’s integrated graphics. AMD says this solution will offer three times the 3D performance, 5 times the HD quality, and 40% faster wireless than Intel’s solution. I’m a bit skeptical on some of these numbers, but the proof will be in the final notebooks.

Source: PC World, InfoWeek, Martin

June 2, 2008

nVidia released Tegra, chip for small gadgets! Sweet!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 5:42 pm
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Nvidia Corp on Sunday announced a processor line-up it believes will power a new class of fast, small devices with long battery life that can surf the full Internet, play high-end games and display high-definition video. The graphics chipmaker is calling the Tegra 600 and Tegra 650 processors “computers on a chip” for highly portable, visual devices, and it is aiming squarely at a market also targeted by No. 1 chipmaker Intel Corp. Nvidia hopes the Tegra chips, which also include its previously announced application processor APX2500 used in smartphones and handsets, will go into a broad array of computing devices. But it’s aiming first for an emerging category called mobile Internet devices, or MIDs.

Intel was among the first to start bandying about the term, and its Atom family of chips is targeted at MIDs. But Intel and Nvidia both say people are still unsure exactly what a MID is. Mike Rayfield, general manager of Nvidia’s mobile business, said MIDs have screens of four to 12 inches in diameter and may have a touch-screen or keyboard, a connection for a game controller or a wireless high-speed Internet connection. Nvidia says it is more than a dumbed-down notebook PC or super-portable notebook with keyboards suited more for the hands of Smurfs than humans. He said prices for MIDs with Tegra would range from $200 to $250 and be on store shelves by the holiday shopping season.

Source: Reuters, Martin

January 30, 2008

Asus hopes upcoming Eee desktops are Eeequally Eeenticing!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 10:08 pm
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Asus’ ultraportable Eee has been a tremendous success for the company since it launched last October. Although not without its flaws, the device has proven extremely popular. As we first reported back in November, Asus is looking to take advantage of the Eee’s popularity by launching additional Eee-affiliated product lines.As DigiTimes reports, Asus has released additional information on these upcoming products and what markets they’ll be targeted at. The E-DT desktop will become the second Eee-branded product to hit the market, and should launch in April or May. The system will be based around a Celeron processor, but Asus plans to transition the E-DT to a Diamondville core and the 945GC chipset later this year. Price range on the system should be in the $200-300 range.

Next up, there’s the E-Monitor. Set to debut in September, the all-in-one system will be built around 19-21″ screens and ship with a built-in TV tuner. The E-Monitor will be built on Intel’s Shelton’08 platform and presumably offer equivalent performance to an E-DT, but with the added benefit of a built-in monitor. Asus expects to sell the unit for $499 and cutely notes just how much cheaper this is than the equivalent price of an iMac ($1,199-2,299) or an XPS One ($1,499-2,399).

Lastly, there’s the E-TV. As the name suggests, Asus is merging some aspect of the Eee into its 42″ LCD displays. Exactly what functionality the company is referring to is unknown. Asus could theoretically embed an Eee directly into the television and ship the device with a keyboard+mouse, but the whole “use your TV as your web browser/computer” concept has never caught on well.

Asus’ decision to base both the E-DT and the E-Monitor on Intel’s Shelton platform may impact the attractiveness of both products. The Shelton’08 standard describes a system built around a 1.6GHz single-core Diamondville processor, a 533MHz FSB, single-channel DDR2, a solid-state USB/PATA drive, and an 802.11g WiFi module. That particular set of components makes a lot of sense for a UMPC/MID device, but it’s difficult to imagine such a system would drive a compelling desktop experience, even when running a relatively lightweight Linux distribution. Asus hasn’t committed to using the entire Shelton’08 platform in the E-DT desktop, but these systems will still be built on the relatively lightweight Diamondville core.

VIA’s new Isaiah CPU could make the fight over low-priced hardware quite interesting. As we recently discussed, Isaiah represents a major leap in CPU performance and could potentially garner significant wins in the ultra-low-end desktop market if it delivers better performance than Intel’s Diamondville. As for Asus, their new products have “wait and see” stamped all over them, as it’s not clear if the company has found the right balance between performance, price, and features consumers actually want.

Source: Ars Technica

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