Saturday, July 7, 2007

Sapphire Radeon HD 2600 XT 256MB GDDR4

Once again, Sapphire provided us with its Radeon HD 2600 XT 256MB GDDR4 for evaluation. This turned out to be a reference model that's probably indistinguishable from that of other brands except for the Sapphire decals. The card itself is longer than Radeon HD 2600 PRO, though like the other mainstream cards, it comes with a single slot cooler reminiscent of the ones found on the Radeon X1950 PRO.

As expected from one of ATI's biggest partners, Sapphire has quickly rolled out its lineup of mainstream Radeon HD graphics cards.

It's a Sapphire labeled reference Radeon HD 2600 XT 256MB GDDR4 using the default single slot cooler that's extremely quiet. No power connectors are required due to the relatively low power draw of around 45W.

The lower power draw of the 65nm core makes its point here, as the Sapphire Radeon HD 2600 XT does not require a Molex power connector, taking its juice directly through the PCIe interface. According to ATI, the power consumption of this card should be around 45W. The smaller and cooler core is also a factor for the ultra quiet cooling fan, which is something that we liked a lot. The memory chips are all passively cooled by the heatsink as this industrial looking piece of aluminum covered most of the red PCB.

Underneath the red translucent plastic shroud, the heatsink is an industrial looking design with none of the fancy colors you may find in other brands.

Native CrossFire is supported and Sapphire has also included the required bridge connector in its package.

Dual-link DVI outputs are found at the back. An included DVI-to-HDMI converter is included to enable users to hook this card to a HD display. HDCP support naturally is present.

The core runs at 800MHz, only 200MHz higher than the Radeon HD 2600 PRO but the memory does get a larger boost to 2200MHz DDR. Compare this against the maximum 1000MHz DDR on the PRO. Of course, with NVIDIA's GeForce 8600 GTS running with a 2000MHz DDR memory clock, ATI's numbers are not that much higher, especially with its GDDR4 memory. The number of stream processing units is the same for all the Radeon HD 2600 cards, topping out at 120 organized into groups of five each. CrossFire is supported, with interconnects at their usual places and Sapphire has included the bridge for that in its package. Other items that we found in our box include:

# 1 x DVI-to-HDMI adaptor
# 1 x DVI-to-VGA adaptor
# 1 x 9-pin mini-DIN to Component/S-Video dongle
# 1 x CrossFire bridge
# Driver CD
# User manual


Source from HardwareZone

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Super Talent Announces Low Latency DDR3

New 1600 MHz 7-7-7-18 DDR3 modules set record for lowest timings

Super Talent Technology this week released three new DDR3 memory kits – two dual-channel kits and one single module. The dual-channel DDR3 kits arrive clocked at 1600 MHZ with differing latencies. The Super Talent W1600UX2G7 dual-channel features 7-7-7-18 timings while requiring 1.8-volts of power. The kit features two 1GB modules and costs around $648.

Super Talent has a slightly cheaper 2x1GB kit with the W1600UX2G9. The W1600UX2G9 features slightly higher 9-9-9-21 timings and requires 1.8-volts of power. Super Talent prices the W1600UX2G9 modules slightly cheaper at around $598.

Lastly is the W1333UB2G8 single module. The W1333UB2G8 has a slightly lower speed rating at 1333 MHz. However, the W1333UB2G8 is a single 2GB module. Memory timings for the W1333UB2G8 slot in between the two dual-channel kits with 8-8-8-18 timings. The W1333UB2G8 modules still require 1.8-volts of power. Super Talent prices the 2GB W1333UB2G8 modules around $417.

All three-memory kits announced feature black heat spreaders to help dissipate heat. Expect the kits to show up at retailers in the coming weeks.

Source from dailytech

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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Sapphire Radeon HD 2600 PRO 256MB GDDR3 OC Edition

It's been less than a week since ATI's mainstream DirectX 10 cards, the Radeon HD 2400 and 2600 series were released into the wild (at least for reviewers) and sadly for the beleaguered company, the new products are unlikely to set any performance records in their respective segments. Although we have yet to get our hands on the top Radeon HD 2600 card, the XT, the reviews so far have shown it falling short of the NVIDIA's top mainstream contender, the GeForce 8600 GTS.

Realizing its precarious situation, ATI has moved to revise its recommended retail prices for the new cards. The Radeon HD 2600 XT was initially priced at US$199 in the presentations given by ATI during the May launch of the high-end Radeon HD 2900 XT but in the latest press release announcing the Radeon HD 2400 and 2600 series, that has been lowered significantly to US$149. Similarly, the other lesser models in the series have also undergone price cuts to make it more competitive against the corresponding NVIDIA counterpart. This strategy has been used before by ATI for its Radeon HD 2900 XT and for the case of these new mainstream cards, positions them on a slightly lower bracket in both performance and price to NVIDIA, hence dodging a potentially damaging, direct confrontation.

Since we have already seen the budget Radeon HD 2400 series in action with this review of the Radeon HD 2400 XT card, it is now time to take a closer look at the Radeon HD 2600 series. Unfortunately, our Radeon HD 2600 XT card came too late to be included in this article so we'll only have a Radeon HD 2600 PRO from Sapphire for our benchmarks. This is not the reference version as the core and memory clocks on the Sapphire have been raised, making this an overclocked card out-of-the-box that should be faster (and probably more costly) than the standard.

Like the Radeon HD 2400, the 2600 series is manufactured using the 65G+ process technology (basically 65nm process), allowing ATI to squeeze almost 400 million transistors onto a core (RV630) measuring roughly 14mm in width. The die shrink has also allowed for lower power consumption, with the Radeon HD 2600 rated at around 45W by ATI and despite its heavy transistor count (at least 100 million higher than NVIDIA's GeForce 8600 and 8500), temperatures should be relatively cool if our experience with the Radeon HD 2400 XT is any gauge.

The basic architecture found on the original R600 (Radeon HD 2900 XT) is retained for the most part, though as usual, the operational hardware units have been reduced in quantity for the lesser Radeon HD 2600. The number of stream processors have been more than halved, with the Radeon HD 2600 equipped with 120 compared to the 320 on the Radeon HD 2900. Unlike the Radeon HD 2400, the ring bus architecture remains on the 2600 but the main memory bus has also been reduced to 128 bits wide, putting it below older Radeon cards like the 256-bit memory bus of the Radeon X1950 series. The key features and the reasons behind the 'HD' in the Radeon HD 2600 series are all accounted for, including the Universal Video Decoder (UVD) hardware that is actually not found on the high-end Radeon HD 2900. A HD audio controller and HDCP support are other essential HD features on these cards. Below is a table listing some of the important specifications of the Radeon HD 2600 PRO and the existing competitors from both ATI and NVIDIA, both new and old.


Source from HardwareZone

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AMD Phenom X2 GE-Series Details Unveiled

AMD drops the Phenom X2 TDP to 45-watts

AMD plans to cut power consumption of its mainstream Phenom X2 processors with the Phenom X2 GE-series, according to the company’s latest roadmap. The Phenom X2 GE-series joins the Phenom X2 GS-series in late Q1’2008, after the Phenom X2 GS-series makes its debut. AMD has three Phenom X2 GS-series in the pipeline with launches beginning in Q4’2007 and more models added in Q1’2008.

The new Phenom X2 GE-series matches the recently released Athlon X2 BE-series in terms of thermal design power, or TDP, at 45-watts. AMD Phenom X2 GS-series processors have 65-watt and 89-watt TDP ratings.The low power Phenom X2 GE-series will have three models – the GE-6600, GE-6500 and GE-6400.

AMD’s Phenom X2 GE-6600 clocks in at 2.3 GHz, coincidentally, the Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 clocks in at 2.4 GHz. The middle of the Phenom X2 GE-series consists of the 2.1 GHz Phenom X2 GE-6500 while the 1.9 GHz Phenom X2 GE-6400 occupies the bottom of the lineup.

AMD Phenom X2 GE-series
Model Core Frequency L2 Cache L3 Cache HT3 Bus
GE-6600 2.3 GHz 2x512KB 2MB ~ 3200 MHz
GE-6500 2.1 GHz 2x512KB 2MB ~ 3200 MHz
GE-6400 1.9 GHz 2x512KB 2MB ~ 3200 MHz

All Phenom X2 GE-series processors share the same features. AMD equips the Phenom X2 GE-series with an HT3 bus with speeds equal to or in excess of 3.2 GHz. AMD has yet to set the official speeds of the HT3 bus on Phenom X2 GE-series processors. Phenom X2 GE-series processors are identical to the GS-series, in terms of cache configurations. The Phenom X2 GE-series feature 512KB of L2 cache per core and 2MB shared L3 cache.

Expect the AMD Phenom GE-series to drop into a Socket AM2+ platform in Q1’2008.

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Fujitsu Rolls Out 300GB Mobile HDD

Fujitsu's new drive features a 300GB storage capacity, but only a 4200RPM spindle speed

The mobile storage wars are on and all of the top hard drive manufacturers are looking to one-up each other. Fujitsu fired the latest shot yesterday with the introduction of its new 300GB external HDD.

The 2.5"-based drive features a SATA interface internally and a USB 2.0 interface for connecting to a notebook computer. The drive also features a 16-point omnidirectional shock mounting design to protect the drive for rough handling.

"We are proud to launch the world’s highest capacity 2.5" External HDD product into the marketplace at a time when consumers are demanding more storage, compact designs, and features that advance the level of data security," said Fujitsu's Lorne Wilson. "Fujitsu has almost forty years of experience in the hard disk drive industry, and we have successfully expanded our 2.5" HDD business over the last fourteen years. As a result of our focus and commitment to R&D, we have been able to leverage our expertise in this field to create an ideal solution for portable backup and storage solutions."

While Fujitsu may now hold the storage crown with its new drive, the spindle speed is a disappointing 4200RPM. The latest 250GB drives announced feature 5400RPM spindle speeds while 200GB units are spinning at 7200RPM.

The MSRP for Fujitsu's new drive is $229 and it will be available during the third quarter.

Source from dailytech

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AMD Prepares Phenom FX Lineup

AMD’s latest roadmap reveals model numbers for upcoming Phenom FX processors. Under the new naming scheme, the AMD Phenom FX lineup consists of the Phenom FX-80 and FX-90 series. AMD designates the Phenom FX-80 series for single processor systems while the FX-90 takes on 4x4 dual processor systems.

AMD plans to launch two Phenom FX-90 series processors in Q1 2008. The two Phenom FX processors carry the FX-91 and FX-90 names. The AMD Phenom FX-91 will have a clock-speed between 2.4-to-2.6 GHz and will sit on a 3.6 GHz HyperTransport 3.0 bus. The lower Phenom FX-90 will have a clock-speed between 2.2-to-2.4 GHz with a slower HT3 bus. AMD is unsure of the Phenom FX-90’s HT3 bus, but roadmaps indicate HT3 speeds excess of 3.2 GHz. The two Phenom FX-90 series will drop into Socket 1207+ motherboards.

AMD plans one Phenom FX processor for Socket AM2+ platforms. The AMD Phenom FX-80 is essentially the FX-90 for single-processor systems. The Phenom FX-80 will clock in between 2.2-to-2.4 GHz and have a HT3 bus speed in excess of 3.2 GHz. All Phenom FX processors share similar feature sets, with 512KB of L2 cache per core and a shared 2MB L3 cache. The TDP of Phenom FX processors are still to be determined.

Expect AMD to pull the wraps off the Phenom FX-90 series in Q1 2008 with its upcoming FASN8 socket 1207+ platform. AMD expects to launch the Phenom FX-80 earlier, in the November-to-December timeframe.

Source from dailytech

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Friday, June 29, 2007


If there was a purpose to all things in God's Green Earth, the AMD 690G chipset is all about entertainment. As the first consumer IGP chipset to support HD decoding through ATI's AVIVO technology and HDMI, the AMD 690G has been implemented in new generation HTPC ready motherboards such as the Sapphire Pure Innovation HDMI and ASUS M2A-VM HDMI. These boards deliver cost effectiveness and high performance entertainment value in a small package. In an effort to bring true bargain entertainment onto the table, MSI decided on a more minimalist approach for their version of the AMD 690G, the MSI K9AGM2-FIH motherboard.

MSI and the AMD 690G

Like all 690G motherboards, the MSI K9AGM2-FIH is built on a mATX PCB to better accommodate small form factor and HTPC chassis designs. Combining the AMD 690G Northbridge with the SB600 Southbridge, the K9AGM2-FIH has most of what the chipset has to offer. It supports all current AMD Socket AM2 processors, up to the latest dual core Athlon 64 X2s and a maximum configuration of 4GB of DDR2-800. However, do note that the board only has two DIMM slots instead of the usual four; so think twice before making your memory purchases. Two 1GB sticks and you will not be able to upgrade further, but one 2GB stick means no dual channel mode, which will affect graphics performance of the IGP as well.

Graphics-wise, the Radeon X1250 is a DirectX 9 part with ATI AVIVO technology for HD video decoding of MPEG2 and WMV formats, but not H.264. The board comes with a HDMI connector complete with HDCP compliance supporting all the way up to 1080p resolutions. Of course, the actual output performance will really depend on what you're playing because of the decoder limitations of the IGP, but then again, a PCIe x16 slot means that you can upgrade the board to a full proper graphics card at your whim.

The board's 8-channel audio is controlled by Realtek's ALC888 HD Audio CODEC and can be pumped through the usual analog output jacks or via the HDMI port.

Other features of the K9AGM2-FIH include one FireWire-400 (VIA VT6308P) port, one PCI Express Gigabit LAN (Realtek RTL8111b) port, ten USB 2.0, four SATA 3.0Gbps ports (RAID 0, 1, 0+1 supported), two PCI, one PCIe x1 and one PCIe x16 expansion slots.

Only the Essentials Please

Now, it may look like the MSI K9AGM2-FIH is a pretty well put together motherboard, but compared to the likes of say the Sapphire PURE Innovation HDMI or ASUS M2A-VM HDMI, the board lacks certain features that should have been a standard bundle for any entertainment motherboard. Other than the standard VGA and native HDMI output, MSI doesn't provide any other video connection options like the Sapphire or ASUS mentioned before. There are also no ready S/PDIF connectors onboard as well. These exclusions limit the board's connectivity functionality outside of HDMI.

The K9AGM2-FIH is a very straight forward install and forget board. There are no tweaks in its BIOS worth mentioning and zero overclocking options, which is expected. However, we were a little concerned about the amount of heat generated from the Northbridge with the small heatsink used by MSI. This never became a problem in our labs, but in a cramped HTPC casing, it may be a challenge to balance sufficient cooling with silent computing.

Final Thoughts

A quick check shows that the board going for and affordable US$75. The AMD 690G chipset, multi-channel HD Audio and HDMI connectivity guarantees that it will still be relevant in today's market for entry-level HD capable machines, but we would have liked higher consumer equipment integration with additional audio/visual connectors bundled with the board. That would have put it on the same playing field as the Sapphire PURE Innovation HDMI and ASUS M2A-VM HDMI. As it stands, the MSI K9AGM2-FIH is an average HD capable HTPC motherboard at best.

Product Specifications

* Chipset: AMD 690G + SB600
* CPU Support: AMD Socket AM2 processors (Athlon 64 FX, Athlon 64 X2, Athlon 64, Sempron)
* Memory Support: DDR2-800 up to 4GB
* VGA: ATI Radeon X1250 IGP with AVIVO, HDMI (w/ HDCP) and VGA Out, up to 1GB HyperMemory
* Expansion Slots: One PCIe x16, one PCIe x1, two PCI
* Storage: 4 x SATA 3.0Gbps, 1 x Ultra-ATA 133
* Audio: Realtek ALC888 7.1 CH HD Audio CODEC, HDMI Ready
* LAN: 1 x Gigabit LAN (Realtek RTL8111b)
* FireWire: 2 x FireWire-400 ports (VIA VT6308P)
* USB 2.0: 4 x rear, 6 x header

Source from Hardwarezone

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