Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Intel's IGP evolution: Ticking and tocking its way to the mainstream

I can still remember the day when I came across the term "bottleneck" for the first time! It was not that long ago- I was stuck with my Pentium IV powered PC which won't run most of my favourite games of that time. Back then I was just a clueless student and thought my CPU was the culprit. But that was not the case as one of my better 'informed' friends rightfully indicated toward my iGPU (Integrated Graphics Processing Unit) which happened to be the lackluster (even by the standards of that time) Intel Extreme graphics. Even though my CPU wasn't the best in class, it still could run those games but my inbuilt graphics was the limiting factor or "bottleneck" as the term implies. Of-course I could've bypassed the whole scenario by simply switching to a separate video card or dGPU (Discrete Graphics Processing Unit) but that would require more space, more power, more hustle and surely more spending which I couldn't afford. This pretty much was the story with most systems back then and while the integrated graphics parts were sufficient to drive the 2D desktop components and images, 3D workloads were beyond both their purpose and capacity. Since then a lot of things have changed in the world of personal computing, but it is only recently that the IGP performance of mainstream PC's has reached a level which is more or less acceptable not only in terms of general computing but also gaming. Today, we'll have a quick look at how Intel's graphics solutions have evolved over time.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

New Cedar Trail Netbooks: Not quite the upgrade you wanted


After Intel announced the Cedar Trail line-up as a much needed update to its low power Atom CPU back in 2011, it was just a matter of time before the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) started to ship new Netbooks and Nettops based on these new chips. And that's exactly the case as there are reports of new Netbooks/Eee PCs from around the web. ASUS has always been among the forerunners when it comes to this segment with its fast product launch and consistent updates, so no wonder there to see them offering some of these Netbooks. We also expect the other usual suspects like Acer, MSI and Samsung to follow soon. These look like fine little PCs and I'm sure the OEMs will do their part to make these even more attractive. But what intrigues me is the new Cedar Trail Atom CPU that seats right in the heart of these Netbooks. Let's take a closer look.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Microsoft offers coloful redesigns: (and) It's not Win8 we're talking about!

Keeping up with the spirit of Holi, I was looking for something that has, well, lots of vibrant color and a bit of grandeur to it. Luckily enough the tech-world is ripe with such devices and it only took a little bit of searching to discover that it's not just the Windows 8 developer team from Microsoft that has been working hard recently! Yes, Microsoft has a hardware team too and those guys are equally competent when it comes to delivering quality products, namely Mice, Keyboards and Webcams. These peripherals from MS tend to have good build quality and ergonomics and also represent good value for money. Actually its Arc and Touch

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Radeon HD 7870 and 7850: Pitcairn is the new performance-mainstream GPU

As you've already guessed, AMD's graphics division wasn't going to sit idly with just its flagship Radeons (HD 7970/HD 7950) being released. In order to capture the whole market one needs cater a full range of products. That's exactly what AMD has done this time around with a flurry of new product launches. First out was the Cape Verde based Radeon HD 7770, followed by HD 7750. These two GPUs are targeted toward the mid range-performance segment with a focus on power and thermal efficiency. Reviews have already shown that Cape-Verde based GPUs are, while built on the same efficient and powerful GCN (Graphics Core Next) architecture, not a direct successor to the existing Radeon HD 6870/6850 line-up. Mainly in terms of shader performance and memory bandwidth as the Cape-Verde design only gets 10 GCN CUs (Computing Units) which equates to 640 SPs (Stream Processors) and a 128-bit memory interface. So it was clear that AMD needs to address the apparent performance gap between its flagship Tahiti based GPUs (HD 79xx) and Cape Verde (HD 77xx) based ones. So enters Pitcairn with 1280 SPs and a 256 bit wide memory bus- to claim the performance-mainstream crown. We'll try to analyze how this new GPU from AMD fares in its endeavor.