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More HD 7770 Leaks: Pictures, Plus 3DMark Benchmarks

Not quite two weeks ago, we reported on leaked pictures of AMD's upcoming Radeon HD 7770 mid-range graphics card based on the new Southern Islands architecture and listed its basic specs. Well, the leaks keep coming and bigpao007 of ChipHell has leaked more pictures with some benchmarks to go with them. The test setup consisted of an Ivy Bridge ES CPU – Core i5-3550K at 3.3Ghz and Z77 chipset-based motherboard. The driver used was the AMD Catalyst 8.940 RC2, giving the following 3DMark benchmark results:

HDD Vendors Want Long-Term Contracts with PC Makers

Well, it seems that the flooding in Thailand has done a lot more than destroy lives, wreck a few factories and cause HDD prices to shoot up. There appears to be a lot of opportunities for changing the terms of business too - to less favourable ones for customers of hard disc drives. First, we had the severe and unwelcome warranty reductions and now we have HDD manufacturers trying to lock branded PC makers into expensive long-term contracts, according to Digitimes. Some PC makers buy hard disk drives on a quarterly basis, at a fixed price, but now that prices have shot up and supplies restricted, HDD manufacturers are trying to coerce them into signing one year contracts at current high prices. However, it looks like it might not be such a good deal for PC makers, because the recovery in supply is continuing, with a full recovery potentially not so far away, which will of course make those prices plummet again. As it is, HDD shipments are projected to be around 140 million units in the first quarter of 2012, while the same quarter last year was 170-180 million units - so the fall isn't really that hugely less than before anyway and should become less severe as 2012 wears on.

One does get the impression that the HDD manufacturers are playing up the difficulty of restoring production volumes in order to give them a better bargaining hand. There's also the fact that recovering from the disaster is hugely expensive for them, so HDD makers will want to charge more to recoup those costs faster, motivating them to use tactics like these.

Christmas Special: The PC Technology of 2011

Welcome to the TechPowerUp 2011 PC technology Christmas special. We hope that you will enjoy reading it while tucking into your turkey, Christmas presents and a little too much wine... In this article, we go through the technology of 2011 that has had the most significance, the most impact and was generally the most talked about. It's not necessarily the best tech of 2011 which is the most significant though, since lemons can be just as significant as the ground-breakers in how they fail to deliver - and the backlash that goes with it.

January: Intel Sandy Bridge i5 & i7

Released on January 9th, the new Intel Core i5 & i7 processors were based on Intel's second generation Core architecture built on a 32 nm production process (HEXUS review). They included an IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor) physically on the same piece of silicon along with HyperThreading. These new dual and quad core processors soundly beat all previous generations of Intel processors in terms of processing performance, heat, power use, features and left AMD in the dust. Therefore, Intel badly needed some competition from AMD and unless you have been living under a rock, you will know how that turned out in October with the launch of Bulldozer. Sandy Bridge was a sound win and is generally considered to be the only architecture worth considering at this point. The i5-2500K is currently at the sweet spot of price/performance. It comes at a stock speed of 3.3 GHz, but typically overclocks to an amazing 4.5 - 5 GHz with a decent air cooler and without too much difficulty in getting there. Models in the budget i3 range were released at various times later. See this Wikipedia article for details.

New Radeon Pictures Leaked: HD 7770

First pictures of AMD's mainstream card, HD 7770, have now been leaked online. This card is the first major upgrade to the HD 5770 in two years, since the HD 6770 was just a rebrand. It features the Cape Verde GPU, which replaces the Juniper GPU used in the HD 5770/HD 6770. The card looks somewhat different, with a large fan sitting on top of the GPU, blowing directly onto it and the card's length is the same as the HD 5770, at around 8.25 inches.

WD Slashes HDD Warranties By A Third – But You Can Buy Them Back

Way back in 2008, we reported that Seagate was lowering warranties of its hard disk drives from 5 years to 3. This trend quickly spread throughout the HDD industry and unsurprisingly, wasn't something that customers were too happy about. Now, Western Digital is lowering the warranty on some of its HDD lines from 3 years to a mere 2, with the affected lines being the Caviar Blue, Caviar Green and Scorpio Blue. Lines not affected are the Caviar Black, Scorpio Black, A/V drives and externals. Also, as the stock feeds through the channel, there will be a transition period where the same model in a store will have either a 2 or 3 year warranty, depending on its serial number, which can be checked on WD's support site. It will be interesting to see if retailers will clearly differentiate to customers which drives have which warranty, as it might be rather convenient for them not to.

Channel partners have received a letter from SelectWD about this:

HDD Shortage To Go On And On And On

The recent Thailand floods appear to be taking a bigger toll than expected, with the effects of the shortages to be felt all the way into 2013, according to market research firm IDC. This isn't helped by the fact that the largest manufacturer of HDDs, Western Digital, was hit the hardest. As the situation is so volatile, companies such as HP, Dell & Lenovo are keeping watch on the market daily and are even sometimes having to accept drives of a lower spec if they are to ship some systems at all. As expected, the retail purchaser of hard disk drives comes bottom of the allocation list. IDCs John Rydning said in a statement: "I think the most painful period will occur now through February of next year. We expect the situation will improve, but it won't feel as if things are back to normal until 2013". There's more detail and analysis over at Network World.

Ivy Bridge Official Benchmarks – Markedly Better Performance Than Sandy Bridge

Previous preliminary reports have suggested that the forthcoming Ivy Bridge CPUs will have single threaded performance on par with the existing Sandy Bridge CPUs and will mainly deliver improvements to power consumption and integrated graphics - nothing for PC enthusiasts to get excited about. However, in leaked documents sent to partners, Intel have now revealed official performance figures for IB and they look rather good. They've produced a raft of benchmarks, which reveal improvements such as 56% in ArcSoft Media Expresso, 25% in Excel 2010 and a 199% gain in the 3D Mark Vantage GPU benchmark. Unfortunately, they haven't released any benchmarks based on high performance 3D games, but it's probably safe to say that they will be similarly improved. Now, on to the benchmarks, which compare their new 3.4 GHz i7-3770 (4 cores + HT) with the current 3.4 GHz i7-2600, also with 4 cores + HT:

NVIDIA GeForce 290.36 Beta Drivers Released

The latest beta drivers and the first in the 290 series have been released by NVIDIA today, supporting all graphics cards since the venerable 6-series. Their main new feature are official support for enabling ambient occlusion settings in the control panel separately for specific games and enabling NVIDIA Surround on the new X79 SLI-certified motherboards. Ambient occlusion (AO) is settable for uber-popular games The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. So, what does AO do? We'll let Andrew Burns of NVIDIA explain:
If you're unfamiliar with Ambient Occlusion, it is most easily described as a way to make in-game shadowing more realistic, and therefore better.
What he doesn't say of course, is how it kills your frame rate, especially on lower end hardware. Anyway, there's all the usual goodies in this release: 3D Vision game profiles for games such as MW3, Diablo 3 & LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 (yes really). There's a HD audio update and nine fixes too, including one for random flickering of the Windows boot logo as it's loading or fading away and a fix for the mouse cursor flickering and shaking in games such as Crysis 2 & Deus Ex when SLI is enabled when using 3DTV Play. The NVIDIA product release page is here and they have a snazzy-looking driver selector here. The release notes follow.

Raspberry Pi: the Upcoming $25 1080p-Capable ARM-Based Hobby Computer

Yes, you heard that right, when completed, the Raspberry Pi foundation will be selling a credit card sized computer running Linux that can plug into your television and play H.264 1080p30 videos. Raspberry Pi is the somewhat cheekily-named UK registered charity which has been set up to design and build a very low cost computer that is targeted for use in computer science lessons in schools, to "put the fun back into learning computing." Why, was it ever not fun?! However, such a simple and cheap general purpose gadget has the potential for many other uses than the classroom, as the world is full of inventive tech-minded people that can tinker with something like this and build innovative projects with them, perhaps by using several of these together.

The product will come in two configurations, a $25 Model A with 128 MB SDRAM & $35 Model B with 256 MB SDRAM and both will come with the same 700 MHz Broadcom BCM2835 media processor featuring an ARM11 (ARM1176JZF-S) core, Broadcom GPU core, DSP core and support for Package-on-Package (PoP) RAM. We expect that in this day and age, most people will go for the 256 MB model, which is still a very small amount of RAM. For those that want to get the most out if this device, the website - www.raspberrypi.org - has a forum and a wiki with tons of technical details on the device, including benchmarks and links to many other news stories & blogs about the product. There's even a shop, although at the moment, it's only selling keyboard stickers of the foundation's logo.

Small, High Resolution Windows Laptops Coming In 2012 - Thanks To Apple

Love 'em or hate 'em, Apple has a habit of trend setting. When Apple released their original iPad, it had a meager low resolution 1024 x 768 resolution display which was scoffed at by many, yet it didn't stop it from being a runaway success. And the iPad 2 didn't improve on it, either – perhaps surprisingly, since the original formula worked so well. However, in early 2012 Apple plans to introduce its new Retina display equipped next generation iPads, offering a very high 2048 x 1536 resolution. On the 9.7" screen of an iPad, this would make the pixels all but invisible to anyone, except for those with the sharpest of 20-20 vision, giving the screen superb clarity and wow factor. These will be incorporated into its next generation iPads, which is expected to push the PC notebook market to use higher resolution displays too in order to remain competitive.

The Teeny-Tiny DIY PC That Fits In The Palm Of Your Hand

Do you want a really small PC that fits in the palm of your hand? Well, if you do, then VIA Technology have got you covered with their new ARTiGO A1150. As you can see from the pictures, it has a high 'cuteness' factor, due to its diminutive size of just 5.7" x 3.9" x 2". For processing, it sports a 64-bit VIA 1.0 GHz dual core Eden X2 CPU and a VX900H media system processor supporting the latest HD video codecs including H.264, VC-1 and MPEG-2/4 at up to 1080p. Interfaces include HDMI and VGA ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, five USB ports including one USB device port, three audio jacks with optional wireless IEEE 802.11 b/g/n and SD card reader modules.

Target uses include the usual home/office environments, use as a super space-saving desktop PC, a home server, media streaming and surveillance applications. Of course, the real question is what kind of performance can one expect out if it, given that it's targeted at the desktop PC market, so one hopes that it can run Windows 7 at a decent performance level. Oddly, the VIA press release doesn't say anything about the RAM, so it's not clear how much can be fitted, which type and what speed grades are supported.

DisplayLink Chip Powers Japan’s First USB 3.0 Graphics Adapter from I-O DATA

DisplayLink, the leading provider of technology for virtual and USB-connected computing, and I-O DATA DEVICE (www.iodata.com) today announced the availability of the I-O DATA USB-RGB3/D USB 3.0 to DVI display adapter. Incorporating the DisplayLink DL-3100 chip for connectivity and virtual graphics, it is the first USB 3.0 enabled display adapter to ship in Japan.

"And this is as true in Japan as any other technology-embracing market."

Featuring the robust DisplayLink 3.0 video compression and support for resolutions up to 2048 x 1152, including 1080p, even the newest notebooks, netbooks and PCs can enjoy the benefits of multi-screen computing. And with the throughput of SuperSpeed USB 3.0, those monitors will display high-performance, full-screen HD video, 3D games, rich 2D graphics and multi-channel audio.

Commodore 64 Replica: The Ultimate PC Enthusiast Retro PC Gets An Upgrade

The original 8-bit Commodore 64 computer was very popular in the early 1980s, but the original company eventually closed down in the 1990s, having launched their 16-bit Amiga range in the meantime as the C64s successor. For a while now, replica C64 models, packed with the latest PC technology, have been made by Commodore USA, a different company that has purchased the original Commodore brand.

Since last summer, they have been selling a replica for $999 powered by an Intel CPU. This PC, called the C64x Ultimate (model number: C64x-UL) included a dual core Atom D525, NVIDIA Ion 2 graphics, 4 GB RAM and a 1 TB hard drive. A barebones version is available for $349 without a motherboard, just the keyboard and case, allowing the customer to add their own hardware into the retro box. However, Commodore USA has now upgraded their offering with a considerably more powerful CPU. This version is the C64x Extreme (model number: C64x-EX) which includes a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7-2720QM CPU, mini-ITX motherboard and PSU, 8 GB DDR3 RAM, DVD writer (slot loading) 2 TB 7200 RPM HDD, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The back panel has the following ports: legacy PS/2, USB 2.0 x5 (one eSATA combo) USB 3.0 x2, Ethernet and three audio jacks. Video connectivity is looked after by HDMI, DVI-D and VGA outputs.

Thailand Floods: HDD Prices To Remain Extortionately High As Supplies Get Tighter

The recent dreadful flooding in Thailand has forced the closure of several hard drive factories. The immediate concerns of course, are for the health and wellbeing of the people living and working in the area. The wider concern is the severe restriction in hard drive manufacturing capacity. Already, prices have doubled or tripled, depending on the exact model affected. The biggest HD manufacturer, Western Digital, has been hit the hardest, as IDC predicts that up to 75% of its production will be shut down. This means, that the big corporate HDD customers, those like HP and Dell, who build computer systems in large volumes, will get whatever inventory is available to fully satisfy their needs. Whatever is left is then sold on to the retail channel, for ordinary consumers to buy. IDC believes that hard disk production will reach pre-flood levels by around March, but that HDD levels by then will be very low. The prices should go through the roof then, in the meantime. As expected, this will also increase the prices of complete systems, as such a price hike is too much to absorb fully.Source: Network World

AMD Catalyst 11.10 Version 3 Preview Driver

The driver updates for Rage and the upcoming Battlefield 3 are coming thick and fast now, with every full and preview releases - great news for fans of these games. Note that the BF3 improvements are specified for the beta release, but should also apply to the release version and more will of course follow. Other improvements include Eyefinity 5x1 display implementation on Radeon 6000 & 5000 cards, along with CrossfireX interface enhancements. See the full rundown after the jump!

Hanns-G Intros New 23.6-inch Full HD Monitor

Hanns-G released HK241DPB, its latest 23.6-inch monitor. The display continues to use CCFL illumination, but has a high DCR of 80,000:1. It features a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, 300 cd/m² brightness, 5 ms response time, apart from the high DCR. Display connectivity includes D-Sub and DVI, there is no HDMI, but DVI is still an HDCP-capable connection. 1.5W stereo speakers wrap up things with this display, which is priced at US $179.99.

Source: TechConnect Magazine

R&D: TDK Uses Lasers To Double Hard Disc Capacity, Helping Save HDs From Extinction

Here’s a development that will bring joy to those that prefer to hear mechanical noises from their hard discs instead of the inky silence of the new solid state drives. The current perpendicular magnetic recording technology used in today’s hard discs are due to hit a brick wall within a couple of generations or so. This will finally give SSDs the chance to make mechanical drives obsolete once and for all when their capacities increase and the prices drop. To get around this, TDK intend to use lasers coupled with a high coercivity material to achieve this capacity improvement. The coercivity value of a material is a measure of how difficult it is to magnetize ie how strong the magnetizing field needs to be. A material with low coercivity, is easy to magnetize, but it can also lose its magnetic imprint (north and south domains) easily, especially with densely packed data and is easy to erase with stray magnetic fields and to some extent, physical shock. Conversely a material with a high coercivity value can be damned hard to magnetize, but will keep its magnetic imprint much more stably and crucially for data storage, can retain much smaller magnetic domains, giving rise to greatly increased storage capacity for all that ever increasing avalanche of crucial data, such as music files, dodgy videos and humungous video game installs.

AMD Releases Catalyst 11.9 WHQL

Here's the latest Radeon Catalyst driver suite for all you Radeon graphics card fans! It has one major new feature:
Enables AMD HD 3D technology support on DisplayPort panels, such as the Samsung 750 and 950 series 3D displays
which sounds very cool and is begging to be reviewed and benchmarked, plus quite a few fixes:

ZOTAC Readies New Monster GeForce GTX 580 Graphics Card

Known for coming up with innovative new high-end non-reference graphics cards for overclocking, ZOTAC is treating the GeForce GTX 580 GPU to a strong VRM and cooling to aim to be every overclocker's desire. To begin with, the card uses a strong 18-phase VRM to power the GTX 580. Power is drawn from two 8-pin power connectors, and is conditioned by the VRM that occupies a large part of the PCB including the rear portion and a top portion that's protruding above the full-height limit. The VRM uses high-grade MOSFETs, server-class capacitors, and proadlizers to condition power. The source notes that the VRM can handle up to 500W load.

To cool the beast, there are two heatsinks, first is the component heatsink that is spread across the length of the card, cooling VRM and memory; and the primary heatsink, which is a massive aluminum fin array to which heat is fed by six 6 mm thick heat pipes. The heatsink is ventilated by two 120 mm fans. The card is overclocked out of the box, with the core running at 850 MHz, 1700 MHz CUDA cores, and 1100 MHz (4.40 GHz effective) memory. Display connectivity includes two DVI and one each of HDMI and DisplayPort. You can use two connectors at a time. There's no info on pricing and availability, though ZOTAC is known for releasing such specialty products in Asian markets only.

Source: mydrivers.com

Wortmann Intros Terra LED 2450W Full-HD Monitor

German computer major Wortmann introduced Terra LED 2450W, which is a 24-inch, LED-backlit LCD display with full-HD (1920 x 1080) resolution. The LED 2450W makes use of a thin bezel and overall thickness. It also uses a flat, passive base, with the display inputs located at the back of the panel, against a trend of LED-backlit monitors with display inputs located at the base. The panel uses a piano-black bezel finish, while the panel is non-reflective matte.

Resolution aside, the panel features maximum brightness of 250 cd/m², "stellar" dynamic contrast ratio of 15,000,000:1; and response time of 5 ms. The display takes input from DVI and D-Sub, and audio from 3.5 mm stereo jack for its tiny stereo speakers. To keep the display thin, Wortmann decided to use an external power brick instead of internal SMPS. Backed by a 3-year warranty, the Wortmann Terra LED 2450W is priced at €209.

NEC Display Solutions Improves 23-inch MultiSync EA Series Model

NEC Display Solutions of America, a leading provider of commercial LCD display and projector solutions, announced today the 23-inch MultiSync EA232WMi, a 16:9 model designed for corporate, financial, healthcare, engineering, CAD and other professional applications.

Replacing the popular MultiSync EA231WMi, the new MultiSync EA232WMi maintains an IPS panel for superior color, viewing angles and image quality. Additionally, it adds LED-backlit technology, which provides more energy efficiency and less power consumption, heat and carbon dioxide emissions. The display's ambient light sensor and ECO Mode can further help save energy and prolong product life.

BenQ Intros 27-inch Display with VA Panel and LED-Backlit

BenQ announced a new 27-inch LED-backlit LCD monitor, the EW2730V. It makes use of a vertical-alignment (VA) panel with LED-backlit illumination, giving viewing angles of 178/178 degrees. It offers full-HD resolution (1920 x 1080), with a contrast ratio (static) of 3,000:1. VA panels are said to offer better color reproduction compared to TN-film panels. The monitor looks to be very slim, with a piano-black bezel and a brushed metal stand that has the display connectivity. Unfortunately that the biggest picture on the web, of this mysterious display.

Planar Unveils 3D Vision Ready Desktop Monitor

Planar announced its latest 3D display suited for home entertainment, the NVIDIA 3D Vision certified Planar SA2311W. It is a 23" widescreen with full-HD (1920 x 1080) resolution, and 120 Hz refresh rate, to compliment that, it has a rated response time of 2 ms. Display input options include DVI, D-Sub, and HDMI. Its stand allows height and tilt adjustments. Backed by a 3-year warranty, the SA2311W is priced at $449, and will be available for order soon.

Source: HotHardware
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