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All posts tagged "intel"

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Performance Of Intel Core i5 3470: HD 2500 Graphics Tested

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 11:00 AM

"Intel's Core i5-3470 is a good base for a system equipped with a discrete GPU. You don't get the heavily threaded performance of the quad-core, eight-thread Core i7 but you're also saving nearly $100. For a gaming machine or anything else that's not going to be doing a lot of thread heavy work (e.g. non-QuickSync video transcode, offline 3D rendering, etc...) the 3470 is definitely good enough."

Many of our readers are interested in detailed specifications and performance analyses of CPUs and GPUs. There are few better than AnandTech to conduct a through analysis, as they have done for this new Intel Core i5 chip. Their conclusion? It will work fine for you if your computing requirements are limited to activities like video transcoding, but if you are a game player you will need to look at some of their other chips to get satisfactory performance.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Understanding The Differences Between Core i5 And i7

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 06:30 AM,281...,2404674,00.asp

"Discounting Core i3 (mainly found in budget systems) and AMD processors (another article entirely), the difference between Intel Core i5 and Core i7 can seem daunting, especially when the prices seem so close together once they're in completed systems. We break down the differences for you."

Have you ever wanted a summary of the differences between these two processor families? If so, a recent PC Magazine article may help. While both processors are infinitely capable, there are some benefits to the Core i7 family in certain circumstances. The article compares the processors along the lines of price and marketing, performance, cache, turbo boost, hyper-threading, and integrated graphics. It is not a deep-dive by any means, but it is a nice summary.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hardwarecanucks Examines Intel's Sandy Bridge-E Core i7-3960X CPU

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:39 AM

"The flagship Core i7-3690X Extreme Edition is a 32nm six-core/twelve-thread processor with a 3.3Ghz default clock, but which never ever dips below 3.6GHz and tops out at 3.9GHz in single and dual-threaded workloads. Accompanying these six cores is 15MB of L3 cache, the most of any desktop processor, and a new beefed up memory controller that features a quad-channel DDR3-1600 interface which is theoretically capable of 51.2GB/s of bandwidth."

A Sandy Bridge 6 core CPU starting at 3.3 Ghz sounds impressively fast, but I am not sure many are willing to shell out the $990 list for it. I suppose it is only for the most hardcore users (or those whose work heavily depends on fast encoding of videos); for the rest of us, a nicely overclocked i5-2500K will do quite well for many things.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Q&A With Intel Canada on Sandy Bridge's QuickSync Feature

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 09:00 AM

Intel's second generation Core i-series processors, referred to by us geeks as "Sandy Bridge CPUs", brought with them a significant boost in overall processing power. What really got me curious though was Intel's QuickSync technology. Intel has a page on their Web site that talks about this technology, but I wanted to dig deeper so I reached out to Intel Canada and Joe Ellis, Market Development Manager for Intel Canada, responded.

DHT: A key feature in the second generation of Intel Core processors, known as Sandy Bridge CPUs in the tech circles, is the inclusion of an on-chip graphics processor. One of the benefits of this integration is Intel's Quick Sync video technology. Can you describe what Quick Sync technology is and how it works? Why is it better that a straight CPU-based video encode?

ELLIS: "Intel Quick Sync Video has often been described as "hardware acceleration" technology built into 2nd Gen Intel Core processors. This is partially correct. Traditional hardware acceleration has been enabled through software optimizations for general-purpose CPU resources otherwise shared with multiple PC functions. This approach was widely adopted with the first MMX instruction set in 1995, and resulted in much faster multimedia rendering and playback times - though often at the expense of other computing functions waiting for those same computing resources. Subsequent Intel CPU generations introduced ever more powerful instructions and architectural advancements to accelerate a variety of parallel tasks, but always using processor resources common to every task." Read more...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Want to Upgrade your Processor? There's an App For That!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 08:00 AM

"Intel is now offering to upgrade your Core i3-2312M, Core i3-2102, or Pentium G622 processor using software. Just download a program, buy an “upgrade card” from your local supermarket, enter your magic code, and voila: a 15-20% performance boost (CPU frequency bump), and in the case of the i3-2312M you can even unlock more cache."

It looks like Intel's old Intel Pentium G6951 project for software based upgrading was enough of a success that Intel is at it again. Certain low end CPUs will be locked to a more restrictive performance level in order to sell for a lower price. The practice is similar to an industry method called "binning" but with an official, hopefully warranty supported method of unleashing better power. The biggest problem I see with this system is that it only affects certain CPUs, so there could be plenty of sales which end up with a useless upgrade card. With lots of different model computers out there, purchase choices are difficult enough as it is. People more serious about hardware will easily avoid these CPUs, though some might in hopes of doing their own unauthorized upgrades. Reality probably means that this attempt at software upgrading will not pan out though.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The New Intel Z68 Chipset Reviewed

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 11:00 AM

"Architecturally Intel's Z68 chipset is no different than the H67. It supports video output from any Sandy Bridge CPU and has the same number of USB, SATA and PCIe lanes. What the Z68 chipset adds however is full overclocking support for CPU, memory and integrated graphics giving you the choice to do pretty much anything you'd want."

Premium motherboards come with lots of nice bells and whistles. From overclocking (Overclocking is an OK feature now?) to hardware acceleration. I find Intel's Smart Response Technology interesting though, which sounds a lot like a souped up ReadyBoost. I also have to wonder whether someone who is interested in a high end motherboard such as this would be skimping on their storage options. I would most likely already be using a SSD as my system/application drive and use high capacity HDDs for media.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Intel's "Ivy Bridge" Gives Moore's Law a Lifeline

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 11:00 PM

"SANTA CLARA, Calif., May 4, 2011 - Intel Corporation today announced a significant breakthrough in the evolution of the transistor, the microscopic building block of modern electronics. For the first time since the invention of silicon transistors over 50 years ago, transistors using a three-dimensional structure will be put into high-volume manufacturing. Intel will introduce a revolutionary 3-D transistor design called Tri-Gate, first disclosed by Intel in 2002, into high-volume manufacturing at the 22-nanometer (nm) node in an Intel chip codenamed "Ivy Bridge." A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter."

"Moore's Law is a forecast for the pace of silicon technology development that states that roughly every 2 years transistor density will double, while increasing functionality and performance and decreasing costs. It has become the basic business model for the semiconductor industry for more than 40 years." So, how does Intel ensure that Moore's Law continues to be valid? Move into a third dimension. 22-nanometers, or 22 billionths of a meter - an amazing technical accomplishment. So, just to give us an idea of how small these technologies have become, Intel states that "more than 6 million 22nm Tri-Gate transistors could fit in the period at the end of this sentence." Production availability is scheduled for the end of 2011. Do we live in interesting times, or what?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

SSDs Getting Twice The Punch!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 04:00 PM

"Intel and Micron plan to further shrink NAND circuitry, doubling the density of their flash chips and further reducing the cost of solid state drive (SSD) storage. IM Flash Technologies (IMFT), Intel and Micron's joint venture, released 25 nanometer (nm) circuitry a little over a year ago. In the next few weeks, IMFT plans to annouce 20nm NAND flash chip production."

Behind all that technical jargon, you should find one very important bit of information: SSDs are going to get cheaper! Well, I hope they will at least. They could always just double the capacity and maintain the same price, still keeping SSDs out of complate mainstream acceptance. Also, if their claims are to be believed, the shrinking of manufacturers for SSDs at this scale could mean higher prices. Only time will tell.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Intel 320 SSD Review

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 10:30 PM

"When Intel first launched its X25-M SSD in 2008, the chip-maker helped start a new era of high-performance solid state drives with reasonable prices. However, in the last three years, Intel has only updated its mainstream SSD once, while facing stiff competition from over a dozen other players. In fact, in our most recent SSD round-up, Intel's 120GB X25-M drive trailed drives from Samsung, OCZ, and Crucial by a wide margin. Now here comes the new Intel SSD 320 ($529 for 300GB, starting at $89 for 40GB), which promises not only blazing performance but offers strong encryption."

Nice to see that high performance SSD drive prices are finally dropping (but slowly). With high performance and 128-bit AES hardware encryption (requiring a password for use), the drive is fast, but doesn't support the new SATA 6Gb/sec interface, topping out at 3Gb/sec. Intel's product line ranges in size from 40 to 600 GB, at prices from $89 to $1,069 before any discounts. Performance on various benchmarks ranged from 'middle-of-the-pack' to 'near-the-top,' depending on the test. I do like the fact that hardware encryption is standard 'out of the box.'

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gaming on a Budget: A Review of Low Cost CPUs

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 05:00 PM,2859.html

"Indeed, game performance is what this article is all about. Up until now, AMD's Phenom II X4 and Athlon II X3/X4 processors have vigorously defended their status as value-packed engines in inexpensive gaming systems using sub-$200 price tags. Between June of last year and now, we've seen AMD add a couple hundred megahertz to each price point. Yes, we like more performance without a corresponding rate-hike. But the company is competing with architectural updates that make a far more profound impact on performance."

It looks like AMD might have some challenges ahead of itself. With the release of Sandy Bridge, Intel has some low cost CPUs that appear to compete fairly well against AMD's budget options. This just happens to coincide with AMD now being able to offer a comparable, if not better product to Intel's Atom line of CPUs. Fortunately, there is time and room for AMD to fashion a counter-attack and all the while, it serves to keep PC gaming alive for those with limited funds.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Evertyhing You Wanted to Know About Thunderbolt

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

Simply put, Thunderbolt's a familiar-looking port, a brand-new chip, and a cord, which allows devices to pipe two data streams simultaneously -- in both directions -- over a single cable at up to 10 gigabits per second to start, primarily using PCI Express x4 for data and DisplayPort for video.

The announcement of Thunderbolt instantly reminded me about the old Firewire vs. USB battle. If you have read the comments or even the press release about Thunderbolt, you have probably seen how people are comparing Thunderbolt to Firewire, and the battle is now between USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt. There are certainly a lot of parallels but I do not know if there is a clear winner, or even if there will be one that dominates the other.

Thunderbolt definitely has more impressive specifications but will that be enough? USB has a far larger install base and is likely to remain much cheaper to implement for various peripherals. Does my mouse really need a 10Gbps lane? Will a Thunderbolt based keyboard cost more than a USB one? I personally suspect that the two will live together, with USB remaining the dominant connection type, with Thunderbolt serving the more demanding uses like external video cards, displays and hard drives. What do you think? Is Thunderbolt the future? Or do we all live in a USB world?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Intel's Lightpeak Technology is now Dubbed Thunderbolt

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 02:10 PM

"Intel Corporation today announced the availability of ThunderboltTM technology, a new high-speed PC connection technology that brings together high-speed data transfer and high-definition (HD) display on to a single cable. Running at 10Gbps, Thunderbolt technology can transfer a full-length HD movie in less than 30 seconds. This Intel-developed technology is coming to market through a technical collaboration with Apple, and is available first on Apple's new line of MacBook Pro laptop computers."

One of the key technologies revealed today in Apple's line of refreshed Macbook Pros is Thunderbolt. I knew it was based on Lightpeak, but when I saw Apple calling it Thunderbolt I was concerned it was going to be an Apple-only term, and we were about to enter into an era where every laptop OEM would have their own term for the technology: "No, no, this isn't Thunderbolt, it's ULTRABOLT!" Turns out that's not the case: Thunderbolt is the new name for Lightpeak, and it will be used by all the OEMs. That's good news. What do you think about the name? It's an unusual name for a technology when compared to the likes of USB 3.0 and SATA; it's more in line with Firewire. Regardless, Thunderbolt is here to stay and offers some compelling features (more on that later).

Friday, February 11, 2011

Did Intel's QuickSync Technology Kill CUDA/APP?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 03:00 PM,2833-5.html

Take a look at that image above. It's from an article on Tom's Hardware that talks about how Intel's QuickSync technology - which is part of the Sandy Bridge platform - stacks up against GPU acceleration from NVIDIA's CUDA and AMD's APP (formerly Stream) technologies. The numbers above are simply shocking: GPU acceleration using CUDA or APP gives an almost 2x performance increase in HD video trascoding...yet, amazingly, Intel's QuickSync manages to get the same job done 5x faster than CUDA or APP. And let's be clear about something: it's able to do that with an integrated GPU that's part of the overall CPU, not with a beefy, power-sucking, loud graphics card that costs $300+. Read more...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Intel Wants to Sell You This Bridge

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:30 PM

"Fret not, to-be Sandy Bridge buyer -- it looks as if the laptop delays won't be as severe as expected. According to Intel, it's working hard (read: coercing) with OEMs to keep Sandy Bridge laptops flowing from the factory, and apparently, that involves a pinky swear that partners won't utilize the four affected ports. "

In case you have not heard, Intel admitted to a flaw in its 6 Series Chipset which supports Sandy Bridge. Over time, some of the computers using the 6 Series could see a degredation of performance over its 3Gb/s SATA ports. So, a recall is born and manufacturers eager to sell some high performance love are forced to wait. Or are they? Laptops usually only come with two SATA devices built into them, and the 6 Series Chipset does have two ports (the 6Gb/s SATA ports) which work as advertised. So instead of tossing all these hardware, why not make use of it?

I have seen many complaints and people swearing off buying these laptops, considering them broken from the start, but I have to wonder how many regular users would be affected by such a choice. Yes, there are laptops that come with eSATA, but most people I know still opt to use a network, or USB to handle their external storage needs. Considering the potential waste (even the effort to recycle a laptop motherboard is costly) resulting from this recall, it sounds like a fair compromise.

What do you think? Is Intel making lemonade, or lemons?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Intel Identifies Serious Chipset Error on Sandy Bridge Support Chip, Halts Shipment

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 12:00 PM

"This morning, Intel announced it had detected a serious error in one of the support chips that ships with its 2nd Generation Core Series CPUs (aka Sandy Bridge), and has stopped shipment of the affected chipsets while it manufactures new versions of the chip for shipment to customers in late February. The company expects full volume recovery in April and, accordingly adjusted its revenue projections lower by about $300 million. Due to the delays in shipping the chipset, OEMs may also choose to delay shipping some or all of the their new Sandy Bridge notebooks, though none of the notebook vendors has commented yet."

Given the incredibly complexity of the technology we use today, it's somewhat surprising problems don't happen more often - but Intel is certainly doing the right thing in jumping on this issue before it impacts the wider public. It seems the lessons they learned from the Pentium floating point bug back in the '90s haven't been forgotten.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New And Improved X25-M For Your Solid State Pleasure

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:30 PM

"While Intel is sampling 25nm MLC NAND today it's unclear whether or not we'll see drives available this year. I've heard that there's still a lot of tuning that needs to be done on the 25nm process before we get to production quality NAND. The third generation drives will be available somewhere in the Q4 2010 - Q1 2011 timeframe in capacities ranging from 40GB (X25-V) all the way up to 600GB."

Wait, did they say 600GB SSD? Is it true that SSDs might just start reaching similar capacities as traditional hard drives? Yes, you can get hard drives that hit 2TB, but for most people, they usually end up with something around 320-500GB with a new computer. One still expects a premium for SSD, but with these larger capacities, and hopefully, increased popularity, we might see some economies of scale going on and making an SSD a more standard purchase for a computer. Even if these new fangled SSDs become more cost effective, I would probably stick with traditional hard drives for storage or archival purposes. At least until 600GB becomes 2TB.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Boxee's Switch from Nividia's Tegra to Intel CE4100

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 02:05 PM

"The Boxee Box announced at the 2010 CES was based on the Tegra 2. In a post made on my personal blog right after the CES announcement, I had expressed my reservations on how it would be foolhardy to expect the same sort of performance from an app-processor based device as what one would expect from a dedicated media streamer or HTPC. Just as suspected, Boxee had to replace Tegra 2 with a much more powerful SoC. After evaluating many solutions, Boxee and D-Link decided to choose the Atom based Intel CE4100 for the Boxee Box."

A great article on the Boxee Box and how the switch from NVIDIA's Tegra 2 chip to the Intel CE4100 will enable the Boxee Box to really deliver on a high-quality experience in terms of hardware-assisted playback of HD video content. Will the software measure up? My Magic 8 Ball says "It's looking likely". Let's hope that's the case!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Yes, That Software Really Can Upgrade Your CPU

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 AM

"Hold onto your hyperthreaded horses, because this is liable to whip up an angry mob -- Intel's asking customers to pay extra if they want the full power of their store-bought silicon. An eagle-eyed Engadget reader was surfing the Best Buy shelves when he noticed this $50 card -- and sure enough, Intel websites confirm -- that lets you download software to unlock extra threads and cache on the new Pentium G6951 processor."

I am of two minds about this whole concept. On the surface, I can see why a lot of people are upset over this, many promising that AMD will now be their CPU of choice. On the other hand, it does make business sense, and for the typical consumer, especially one on a budget. I guess I have to side with Intel on this one. I cannot see how it would affect the hardcore geek, who would either avoid this CPU altogether, or buy one and "upgrade" it through various means. For your everyman, it means that they can get something on budget, and later, when they have more money they can simply "upgrade" their CPU without having to pay an expert to open up your computer and swap CPUs or the more likely option, just buy a new computer when the old one is too slow, spending way more money than is needed. I just wish that the upgrade they performed was more substantial than what it does with a bit more cache and hyper-threading. I personally do not see myself ever buying a CPU based on this concept, but know some who could benefit. Anyone else?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Intel's Sandy Bridge To Somewhere

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 12:00 PM

"That's all going to change starting next year. This time it's the masses that get the upgrade first. While Nehalem launched with expensive motherboards and expensive processors, the next tock in Intel's architecture cadence is aimed right at the middle of the market. This time, the ultra high end users will have to wait - if you want affordable quad-core, if you want the successor to Lynnfield, Sandy Bridge is it."

The huge force that is Intel continues moving along at a steady pace. While AMD is fighting back with its Bobcat and Bulldozer chips, Intel's Sandy Bridge seems to be a continuation of moves first seen with the Core i3 and i5 processors. Processing power is increasing, as expected, but the integrated graphics are what have caught my eye. While integrated graphics offered low power consumption and great 3D performance at a great price, its 3D capabilities were laughable at best. While Sandy Bridge will not be toppling the discrete GPU market, it is edging into the lower end and that means that the lowest bar for computing will offer something worthwhile. Programs like Google Earth will run even more smoothly, and 3D accelerated browsers are right around the corner. We might be watching the next push in computing fads!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Intel Speaks on Smart TV

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 04:00 PM

Pretty interesting stuff; I watched the video and heard some good ideas for how to improve TV, and certainly doing an ethnographic study of how people watch TV is extremely important, but I can't help but feel a little pessimistic about the reality of how the TV industry works. Every big TV manufacturer out there — Samsung, Toshiba, LG, take your pick — has different ideas about how they can differentiate their products, and there's little incentive for them to cooperate with each other and unify around a single TV platform even, if that's exactly what would be best for consumers. We'll see what the next 12 months brings...

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