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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.

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:

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
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