Tag: Sandy Bridge

AMD boasts of big data SeaMicro SM15000

AMD has announced the SeaMicro SM15000 server – and it claims it’s the first to optimise the micro server for big data. 

The SM15000 uses Freedom Fabric Storage, which connects directly to huge disk arrays, meaning a single 10 rack unit system which, according to AMD, can support over five petabytes of low cost, easy install storage, which the company claims is ideal for big data applications such as Apache, Hadoop, and Cassandra, for both public and private cloud.

It’s available now, and supports Intel’s Sandy Bridge Xeon E3-1260L. In November, it will support AMD Opteron with the power core, as well as for Ivy Bridge and the Xeon E3-1265Lv2. AMD boasts that the fabric technology is a key “building block” for partners to work on highly energy efficient micro servers for customers.

By bringing Freedom Supercompute Fabric together with Freedom Fabric Storage, the Seamicro system lets data centres provide over five petabytes of storage with 64 servers in one, 17.5 inch tall 10 rack unit. When disks are interconnected with the fabric , they are then shared with all servers running on the system, a luxury usually afforded to more complex systems.

The microserver can provide up to 10 gigabits per second of bandwidth to eachCPU, and connect up to 1,408 solid state or hard drives using Fabric Storage. It delivers, AMD claims, up to 16 10 GbE uplinks, or up to 64 1GbE uplinks. AMD’s machine runs on off the shelf OS’ including Windows, Linux, Red Hat, VMware, and Citrix XenServer hypervisors. 

Because the SM15000 is available with 64 compute cards – each with a custom single socket octal-core 2.0/2.3/2.8 GHz Opteron processor based on Piledriver – it has a total of 512 cores per system, or 2,048 cores in a rack. An Opteron processor can run 64 gigabytes of DRAM, meaning one system can work with over four terabytes of DRAM, and over 16 terabytes of DRAM per rack. 

It also has 16 fabric extender slots, which can each connect to three different Fabric Storage arrays with different capacities. The FS 5084-L can support up to 84 SAS/SATA 3.5 inch or 2.5 inch drives in five rack units for up to 336 terabytes of capacity per array, and over five per system, for an ultra dense capacity optimised option. The FS 2012-L is capacity optimised, supporting up to 12 3.5 inch or 2.5 inch drives in two rack units, which is up to 48 terabytes of capacity per array, or up to 768 terabytes per system, while the FS 2024-S is performance optimised, supporting up to 24 2.5 inch drives in two rack units, for up to 24 terabytes of capacity per array, or 384 per system. 

It is generally available immediately in the US and some other international regions on Sandy Bridge, while Ivy Bridge and Opteron will appear in November.

Lenovo IdeaPad U300s review

Lenovo’s IdeaPad U300s is seemingly positioned somewhere between appealing to the consumer and businesses, with an attractive tapered front edge and metal lip running around the side of the chassis giving it a slimline ‘book’ appearance.

At a skinny 16mm the U300s has the razor-thin appeal of an ultrathin laptop, and the two tone dark metal chassis hits high in the prettiness stakes. It is eye-catching without being overly stylised like some Ultrabooks, and when shown to non-techy friends it received considerable praise for its initial looks, a prime requisite for a spot of Mac Book Air bashing.

At 1.32kg it is also a very light machine, though we found it hard to feel any substantial difference with the Folio 13, and Lenovo even provides a miniscule battery brick that is a thoughtful, and useful, touch.

Despite its weight, or lack of, the majority of the aluminium chassis feels strong, and holding it one-handed results in no problematic bending at the edge of the main body. The thin metal surrounding the screen is slightly flexible, however, and has an unnerving tendency to bounce back and forth for a second or two when opened and positioned into place.

Nevertheless it is sturdy overall, and users will be more than confident to throw it in a bag to bring outside without fretting that it will be crushed in by whatever is lurking around it.

As with the Folio 13, the 1366×768 screen is not remarkable, and we found that the brightness left a fair bit to be desired, sometimes making it slightly difficult to use in well-lit environments.   This appears to be a feature of many Ultrabooks, and the inconvenience was minimal.

The audio is decent enough for a laptop of this size, if slightly tinny and obscured by the main body.

The glass trackpad is spacious and a joy to use.  The left and right click buttons both have just enough resistance, as does the satisfying one touch click. The two finger scroll and pinch zoom were as good as any we have used, with even our clunky and uncoordinated digits moving around with ease and precision.  

The keyboard is generally easy to use, with enough give in the well-spaced keys to make for speedy typing. The positioning of the shrunken ‘enter’ and ‘backspace’ keys meant that mistakes were made occasionally when typing fast, though most will adjust to this, and did not present any significant problems.

The rounded keys suit the lines of machine, but the lack of backlighting on the keyboard is a missed trick both in terms of functionality and general aesthetics.

One drawback with the U300s is perhaps in terms of connectivity, as it is far from generous in this department.  While a full sized HDMI on an ultrathin device rather than a mini port saves on faffing around with adaptors, with two USBs (one being the newer USB 3.0) and no Ethernet, connectivity is basic. What is even more glaringly absent is the space for an SD card. While external hard drives and cloud storage offer some alternatives to the 128GB SSD, many will find an SD card upgrade essential.

The SSD itself is fantastic, and the boot up times are as speedy as Intel has claimed the Ultrabooks would be, switching from sleep mode to full use in a flash, and zooming through a restart.

This is one of the main benefits of Ultrabooks aside from their portability, and go a long way to rivalling tablets for carrying around and instant use.

In terms of performance, the spec varies little from the Folio 13 – and indeed many other Ultrabooks – with 4GB DDR3 RAM and a 1.6GHz i5-2478 Sandy Bridge Intel chip, meaning that the U300s rumbled through most tasks without blinking.  For a small and light device this is impressive, and makes netbooks look almost laughable.

Of course an Ultrabook is not the place to play newer games with graphics at full tilt HD 3000 or no, but gaming on reasonably new titles without major tweaks was possible, and there is little the average user will require that the U300s cannot provide without stuttering. HD video playback through an LCD TV caused no hiccups either.

Similarly, multitasking was a cinch, with the U300s not batting an eyelid even battling a ridiculous amount of web tabs open at once, as well as a number of programs open simultaneously. One slight problem that was evident at times was a tendency to start overheating when the processor is working harder, though this was relatively rare.   

Battery life on the machine was again impressive, and we managed to eke out close to six hours with moderate day to day usage and even more with the settings turned down and minimal usage.

The benefits of such longer battery on a device this small and powerful are hard to understate.

HP Folio 13 review

The HP Folio 13 is aimed more at the business rather than consumer market, and consequently is less flashy than some of the other Ultrabooks that have emerged so far.  That it is not to say it isn’t attractive itself – far from it in fact.

The Folio 13’s charms may be more subtle than other Ultrabooks, but on closer inspection it is clear that it is remarkably well designed, achieving the crucial ‘wow’ factor that would have formed part of Intel’s brief in an understated way.

The silver brushed metal chassis surrounds the matching blacks on the chiclet keyboard, screen bezel and trackpad making for a cohesive, sleek finish.

Switch on the keyboard backlight and few would disagree that HP has succeeded in building a rather gorgeous machine that gives a classy edge to a business-use laptop.   

While the Folio is not the lightest of Ultrabooks, at just less than 1.5 Kg it is still very easy to throw into a bag and carry around without wearing your shoulder out.

At 18mm it is middling in terms of thinness and forgoes the tapered edges of the Mac Book Air and some other ultrathins. The flipside of this means that it is reassuringly robust, with the screen moving sturdily into place when opened.  With barely a hint of flex at any point of the chassis this gives the feel of a premium laptop, as you would expect.

Getting to grips with using the Folio 13 is relatively hassle-free. The beautifully weighted tiled keyboard is a joy to use for extensive typing, while the rubberised plastic coating stops digits from sliding around.  The page up and page down keys feel somewhat crammed in to fit the keyboard’s confines, but just take a few moments to get used to.

The touchpad is a success on the whole, with the multitouch scrolling easy to use, though there is a slight stiffness in the left and right clicks. The pinch zoom is over sensitive at times, with a slightly misjudged pincer movement resulting in zooming in and out almost reminiscent of the dizzying staircase scene in Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

The audio on the Folio is impressive considering the size of the machine.  The bass might be scant but the front facing Dolby Advanced Audio speaker bar is crystal clear, surprisingly loud and overall a fantastically well designed and delivered addition to the machine.  

The 13.3 inch screen is decent if unremarkable, 1366 x 768 as the rough standard for most of the initial flock of Ultrabooks.  The glossy screen can at times be difficult in terms of glare, but mostly it caused little problems, and has very good brightness levels.

Loitering around the side of the machine is enough connectivity to make the case for business use. HP have supplied two USBs, one of which is USB 3.0, as well as a full sized HDMI port and Ethernet connection.  These mean that the Folio 13 is ideally suited to BYOD fans.

Furthermore there is an SD card slot, very useful from the perspective of business use by professionals, and almost essential in terms of giving expansion options over the 128GB solid state drive.

Using an SSD in the place of the more traditional hard disk drives found in notebooks obviously means a significant drop in capacity, but from a business use perspective this is not massively important, and in an era of cloud storage it is less of a problem than we first expected. For those who are intent on storing large amounts of media an external hard drive is a worthwhile investment, considering the impressively cheap storage options available even at terabyte sizes.

In terms of performance the Folio 13 has the standard Intel spec of a Core i5-2467 processor, in this case Sandy Bridge, and along with 4GB of DDR3 RAM means that the Folio 13 can deal with just about everything you would expect from an ultraportable.

The Folio is by no means aimed at gaming, but still manages to support games from the past couple of years running at a fairly impressive rate with Intel’s HD3000 graphics, and even new titles with most of the graphic features turned down a bit.

Multitasking is rarely a problem, and HD video does not tax the machine, running smoothly when hooked up to a larger screen.

The battery life is another area where the Folio 13 really excels, and we were suitably impressed by the usage – approaching seven hours that could be wrung from the machine with low settings and light usage.  A more realistic figure for the general mix of web browsing, word processing, intermittent Spotify or YouTube use still gave a thoroughly decent life of around five hours plus.

This is an example of the real usefulness of the Folio 13.  The peace of mind that comes from not having to find the nearest plug to fill up the battery every couple of hours can really not be overstated, particularly for business use.   

Indeed, the usual jolt of fear when the battery icon approaches vanishes when you get used to battery life that has a fair crack at running all day, and this makes for a truly ‘ultraportable’ device.

Micron's ReaSSD plays it safe, too safe

Legit Reviews has the Micron RealSSD P400e 200GB Enterprise SATA III SSD on the test bench. SSDs have become more and more reliable and durable, but in this case it costs you 52GB out of 256GB the drive carries in total. It’s a steep price to pay for provisioning, we think, but you can never cut corners on data security, now can you?

Tom’s Hardware has updated its regular System Builder Marathon feature, for March 2012. It now includes all the updated components for the $650 “budget” and $1250 “enthusiast” categories, with the inclusion of AMD’s Radeon HD 7970 and some affordable SSD boot drives.

OC Workbench has a go at Kingston’s HyperX 4x2GB DDR3-2400 CL11 DIMMs. These carry dual XMP profiles for that kick in the backside, but are programmed for JEDEC’s DDR3-1333 standard. Tested on an X79 motherboard (Biostar TPower X79) to take advantage of the quad-channel insanity,

Madshrimps.be has a review of Mad Catz’ Cyborg MMO 7 gaming mouse. Of course it targets MMO players, and with a lot of customisation going on through the software side of things, you can really turn this mouse into your best in-game friend.

Hardware Canucks has a Gigabyte GA-X79-UD5 motherboard for Sandy Bridge-E processors. It’s reasonably priced, says HC, at $300 and it does a decent job at overclocking. In fact, the motherboard is all ‘decent enough’, without a particular outstanding feature.

Xbit Labs has an MSI Big Bang Xpower II motherboard in the lab. Big Bang motherboards pack a ton of features, and in this case it takes up quite a lot of real-estate. It targets the extreme overclocker and does so quite well, but the size of it all makes it a really difficult item to pick up without starting a whole box over.

iPad 2012, as it’ll surely get labelled by Apple Care, gets the Techspot eye and better yet a direct comparison to the iPad 2. The Retina Display and overall performance is impressive, says Shawn, but those who were expecting a top to bottom reinventing of the device will be disappointed.

Hardware Secrets takes a look at 3R System’s AK6-600M power supply. 3R is a Korean speciality case manufacturer that has moved into power supplies. The AK6 is a modular power supply with a peak wattage of 700W. Despite the cheap price it does carry some decent features.

Lucid enables high-end gaming on low-end systems

The inventors of the groundbreaking, albeit deceased, mixed-brand multiGPU chip, Hydra Engine, have decided to break the mould once again and enable high-end gaming on low-end graphics cards.

Lucid Logix has over time become a 100 percent software-driven company, releasing several new software apps specifically targeting the optimisation of Intel GPU performance. Virtu technology, for one, is implemented by some motherboard manufacturers and aimed at combining the best features of Intel’s Sandy Bridge GPU with discrete GPUs.

Now the company has launched DynamiX. With this utility the company claims it can get some serious gaming going on, on your Intel HD 2000-based graphics core. This is actually aimed at enabling gaming on mainstream notebooks without having to resort to discrete graphics from Nvidia or AMD. Dynamix is a software utility that gives a computer with Intel HD 2000-class graphics the ability to adjust the in-game graphics settings on the fly by setting a framerate threshold. If the frames fall, the software kicks in and scales back in-game detail, smoothing out your framerate immediately.

“With DynamiX, a single embedded GPU is all you will need to enjoy your favorite high-performance titles on most new notebooks without reducing display resolution or minimizing game performance settings,” said Offir Remez, Lucid co-founder and president.

As there is no such thing as a free lunch, the software has been cut-down for demo purposes and will only work with Bethesda Studios’ high-fantasy romp The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Lucid will later charge an as-of-yet undetermined fee for the full software but pricing, we believe, will depend on consumer reactions and the supported game list, which, according to the company, will grow over time. Remez added, “We are offering this free trial beta version as a proof-of-concept, while working to provide DynamiX for more games. Try it and tell us what you think!”

We think Bethesda and Intel couldn’t be happier, right now.

You can get the details and software – free of charge for a limited time – so snap to it. Head over here.

Intel builds on Sandy Bridge and the promised land

More than 40 percent of Intel’s business is based on the Sandy Bridge chip and the outfit has spent more than $9.4 billion in the Promised Land.

Intel general manager Maxine Fassberg told journalists visiting the Fab 28 in Kiryat Gat that the Sandy Bridge processor, which was developed in Israel, accounts for 40 percent of the chip giant’s revenue.

She said that Intel Israel’s exports totalled $22.4 billion in 1999-2011,” said Fassberg. The company’s exports totaled $2.2 billion in 2011.

Globes reported that Intel Israel made $628 million in reciprocal procurements from Israeli companies and estimates its contribution to the Israeli economy at $4.1 billion.

According to Israel 21, Fassberg claimed that it was thanks to Intel’s Israel’s operations that there were 230 new companies in Israel which were not there until Chipzilla spread its magnificent paws. Under the angelic wings of Chipzilla, these 230 each employ about 250 people.

Fassberg said that a lot of people wondered why the Israeli government was spending a fortune trying to keep Intel in the country, and she thought the answers were in those sorts of figures.

Fassberg added that Intel Israel currently has 7,800 employees and will hire another 600 employees in 2012.

The press conference also mentioned Intel’s Ivy Bridge processor which is being made in Kiryat Gat. There are two manufacturies worldwide to assemble the new technology.

Although the event was Intel flag waving in Israel, the company is also understood to be buttering up the Irish. The Irish government is also dead keen to provide sweeteners to have Intel set up additional fabs in the Emerald Isle. 

AMD dons white coat for HSA processing breakthrough

AMD has unveiled a CPU-GPU integration technique that it reckons could boost processing power by over 20 percent.

The method does not involve buckets of liquid nitrogen and waving goodbye to your PC warranty.  Alongside engineers at North Carolina State University, AMD has increased processing speeds without overclocking, instead finding a way to more intelligently assign workloads between the CPU and GPU.

It is not the first example of CPUs and GPUs getting crammed onto a single chip. AMD has already been doing so with its Llano processors, while Intel’s also fitted the graphics processor onto its main chip with Sandy Bridge.

It appears that AMD is looking one step ahead and has produced a system that involves much more closely working processing units. It appears to be linked to the Heterogeneous Systems Architecture plan stretching out to 2014.

Even though the CPU and GPU are already housed on the same chip, Dr. Huiyang Zhou, the author of a NCSU paper on the chip design, reckons that there is still woefully little interaction between the two.  Zhou says it has been the aim of the research to resolve this problem.

With CPUs doing the brain work, and GPUs generally providing the processing muscle, Zhou and AMD have been working on more intelligent workload assigning.  This means allowing GPUs to execute computational functions, with the CPUs pre-fetching the necessary data from off-chip memory.

Both CPUs and GPUs can pick up data from off chip memory just as niftily, but GPUs are much quicker at ploughing through it all. Basically, AMD and Zhou reckon they increase speed and efficiency by letting CPUs and GPUs get stuck into their specialist roles.

In preliminary tests this has worked to an impressive effect.   According to Zhou, the approach allowed processor performance to improve by an average of 21.4 percent.

Intel may have a seemingly unassailable lead over its competitor, but if AMD is about to bring these increases to bear any time soon then it will certainly give Intel more of a run for its money.

TechEye has approached AMD about commercialisation of chips using this technique.  We’ll let you know just as soon as we hear back from Intel too.


Intel intros graphics core-free Sandy Bridge

Intel has officially introduced its graphics core-less Sandy Bridge processors by launching three new Core i5 SKUs. Mobile Celeron processors have also tipped up, adding some extra graphics oomph to a very lightweight line-up.

Both Intel and AMD partake in this time-honoured tradition of scavenging the pile of defective silicon looking for parts to sell as a “new” CPU. In this case, Intel has dug up three desktop processors from the Sandy Bridge pile and called them the Core i5-2550K, i5-2450P and i5-2380P. Simply put, these processors have disabled graphics cores.

The 2550K (unlocked 3.4GHz, 1MB L2, 6MB L3, 4 cores/4 threads) has a small 100Hz speed bump, compared to the 2500K, but with the graphics core is disabled. However, it does seem to make a very good gaming chip. A likewise-clocked 2600K will run you around £100 extra for the privilege of hyper threading and 2MB extra of L2 cache. You might consider picking up a 2550K instead of the 2600K and invest the difference in a graphics card. After all, there aren’t many games out there taking full advantage of four cores, much less the four extra threads in the 2600K.

In similar fashion you can also find a Core i5 2450P (3.2GHz, 1MB L2, 6MB L3, 4 cores/4 threads) which Intel is listing at $195 for 1K unit trays, or the 2380P (3.1GHz, 1MB L2, 6MB L3, 4 cores/4 threads) which is $18 cheaper.

Intel is also reinforcing its mobile line-up with lightweight Celerons, and by lightweight we mean bantam weight.

These CPUs, four of them, are: Mobile Celeron B815 (1.6 GHz, 512KB L2, 2MB L3, two cores, $86), B720 (1.7GHz, 512KB L2, 1MB L3, two cores, $70), and ultra-low voltage 867 (512KB L2, 2MB L3, 2 cores, $134) and 797 (1.4GHz, 512KB L2, 1MB L3, single core, $107).

You won’t get much bang for your buck on these, except perhaps on the B815 where Intel thought it proper to increase the Turbo frequency of the graphics core by 100MHz to 1050MHz.

Intel culls 25 desktop CPUs

Intel has taken a softball bat to 25 desktop CPUs in a product cull designed to allow its new 22nm Ivy Bridge processors to evolve in that biological niche.

Ivy Bridge will be out in April and before that happens, Intel wants to kill off all those dinosaur chips that would compete in the ecosystem and step on its new evolutionary chips.

Intel has already slowed the production of the Core i5-661/660, Core i3-530, Pentium E5700 and Celeron E3500, and will stop making them in the second quarter.

By the middle of next year there will be no more Core i7-960/950/930/870/880S/870S, Core i5-2300/680/670, Core Duo E7500/E7600, Pentium G960, E6600/E550 and Celeron E3300 seen in the wild. And if Sir David Attenborough went looking for a Core i7-875K/860S, Core i5-760/750S/655K and Celeron 450/430 after February, he probably would find it tough even in the Amazon rainforest which is a hothouse for evolutionary dead ends to survive.

Intel’s new CPU platform is Maho Bay, which is famous for its turtles, and will include the Ivy Bridge CPU and Panther Point chipset.

Gigabyte has said early motherboard samples will be on show at both CES and CeBit.

It looks like it will be completely compatible with existing socket LGA 1155 motherboards for Sandy Bridge CPUs, which is probably why Intel will need to cull off the older chips. 

Intel is the strongest it has ever been

Beancounters working for Gartner say that Chipzilla has its highest-ever market share of all time.

By adding up the numbers and dividing by its collective shoe size, Gartner said that the outfit had a record 16.9 percent of worldwide semiconductor sales.

The best that Intel ever managed was in the heady days of 1998 when it held 16.3 percent.

It is also Chipzilla’s 20th year as the king of the global semiconductor market, which is a pretty long time at the top.

It all seems odd that Intel told the world and its dog last week that it was going to lose a billion dollars due to the disrupted hard drive and PC supply chain spurred from the Thailand floods.

Intel’s Jon Carvill told CRN that much of the company’s growth this year could be attributed to its PC unit. This will seem odd as most analysts insist that no one is buying PCs now that Steve Jobs has brought the game changing tablet into the world.

Intel’s competition is Samsung which has 9.7 percent of the semiconductor market share, with its revenue growth rising slightly above the industry average. Ironically Samsung is doing so well because it makes the A5 processor being used to power Apple iPhone 4S and the iPad 2 tablet.

Texas Instruments is the next with a four percent market share, while Toshiba followed on Samsung’s heels with 3.9 percent.

Gartner said that worldwide semiconductor revenue as a whole grew 0.9 percent from 2010, reaching $302 billion in 2011.

Stephan Ohr, semiconductor research director at Gartner said that the Industry did well in the early part of the year, in many cases thanks to the backlog from a good 2010.

He said that uncertainty about the state of the macroeconomy set in at the midpoint of the year and consumers stopped buying. Governments stopped buying as they got themselves into debt. Equipment inventories began to build as the year progressed, with resulting ripples throughout the semiconductor industry, Ohr added.