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September 3, 2013

Intel Unleashes Ivy Bridge-E Extreme Desktop Chips

Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge-E

If you've already transitioned to a post-PC world, just know that you'll be missing out on the most powerful, blazing fast, crank-it-up-to-11 desktop processor Intel has ever released.

The chip giant unveiled its first lineup of "Ivy Bridge-E" products on Tuesday, including the Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition processor, a six-core, 12-threaded monster with 15MB of L3 cache, four channels of DDR3-1866 memory support with an integrated memory controller, 40 lanes of PCIe 3.0 allowing for up to four discrete graphics cards, and a 3.6GHz base clock which revs up to 4.0GHz in Turbo mode.

The star of Intel's new Core i7 LGA-2011 HEDT processor family will be priced at $999, with two more unlocked, 22-nanometer Ivy Bridge-E chips joining it for a Sept. 10 release date. The other two processors being rolled out next Tuesday are the six-core Core i7 4930K (3.4GHz base clock/3.9Ghz Turbo, 12MB cache, $555) and quad-core Core i7 4820K (3.7GHz/3.9GHz, 10MB cache, $310).

Both of those CPUs also support four DIMMs of DDR3-1866 memory and feature Intel's Hyper-Threading and Smart Cache technologies.

Meanwhile, the power bill you'll rack up with any of Intel's latest, greatest Core i7 parts isn't small potatoes—the TDP for all three new processors is 130 watts. To keep those CPUs running smoothly, there are plenty of performance desktop cooling solutions on the market—Intel is naturally shilling its own sub-$100 Liquid Cooling TS13X system with both fan-circulated air and pump-circulated propylene glycol for the job.



August 2, 2013

Report: Apple Acquires Chipmaker Passif

Apple logo

Apple has reportedly purchased Passif Semiconductor, which makes low-power wireless communications chips.

Former Wall Street Journal tech reporter Jessica Lessin, who first reported the deal, cited sources briefed on the purchase, and added that Passif's technology could be used for health-monitoring and wearable fitness devices that need extra-long-lasting batteries.

Further details have not been revealed, though the report pointed to the deal taking place in "recent months." Apple did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment, but a company spokeswoman told Lessin that "Apple buys small technology companies from time to time."

Passif, founded by then-University of California, Berkeley PhD students Ben Cook and Axel Berny, creates technology which includes a radio that runs on a low-energy version of Bluetooth, dubbed Bluetooth Smart. The system lets users, for example, pair an Android phone or tablet with a low-power device like the Fitbit One or Jawbone UP.



June 12, 2013

AMD Unleashes 5GHz, 8-Core Desktop Monster

AMD Logo

Advanced Micro Devices hit the ground running at E3 in Los Angeles on Tuesday, lifting the curtain on an eight-core desktop CPU with an out-of-the-box, gut-busting clock of 5GHz.

AMD's FX-9590 becomes the most powerful processor in the company's FX family of CPUs. It will initially be sold in gaming and multimedia desktop PCs through AMD's system integrator partners, though the chip maker appeared to leave the door open for a standalone "Black Edition" being made available at some point.

"At E3 this week, AMD demonstrated why it is at the core of gaming. The new FX 5GHz processor is an emphatic performance statement to the most demanding gamers seeking ultra-high resolution experiences including AMD Eyefinity technology. This is another proud innovation for AMD in delivering the world's first commercially available 5GHz processor," Bernd Lienhard, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD's Client Products Division, said in a statement.

AMD also introduced the slightly slower but still ripping FX-9370, another eight-core that hits 4.7GHz with the chip maker's Turbo Core 3.0 clock-throttling technology engaged.

Both new chips utilize AMD's latest CPU core architecture formerly code named Piledriver.



June 1, 2013

Intel Introduces Fourth-Generation Core Processors

Intel Logo

In anticipation of next week's Computex trade show in Taiwan, Intel today introduced its new 4th-generation Core processors for desktop and laptop PCs.

These 4th-generation Core processors (formerly known as Haswell) will gradually replace last year's 3rd-generation Core processors (formerly known as Ivy Bridge) in many of the same system setups and configurations. In addition to existing form factors and chassis, the new 4th-generation processors are expected to find their way into new and innovative systems announced at Computex.

Intel's 4th-generation processors are being built on a new 22nm manufacturing process, which was introduced with the 3rd-generation Core processor. If you're counting, this is the "tock" to Ivy Bridge's "tick" on Intel's tick-tock marketing strategy. "Tock" refers to a new microarchitecture and "Tick" means a die (manufacturing) shrink.

Like previous Ivy Bridge (i3/i5/i7-3xxx) processors, the new Haswell processors will come with an i3, i5, or i7 brand number followed by a four to five digit model number starting with the number 4. For example, the new quad-core desktop processors will include the Core i7-4470K high-end processor and the i5-4570T midrange processor. The new desktop processors will fit into motherboards with the new LGA-1150 socket. Mobile processors will likewise use a similar naming scheme with the i3/i5/i7 brand followed by a five- to six-digit model number. The new processors feature new Intel HD Graphics, Iris Graphics, and Iris Pro Graphics. Iris Graphics and Iris Pro Graphics will give users increased levels of performance on 3D apps like games and professional workstation programs.



May 21, 2013

AMD Hits Game Console Trifecta With Xbox One

AMD Logo

It's been an open secret for quite some time, but now it's official—Advanced Micro Devices has hit the trifecta with the selection of its chips for all three of the major eighth-generation game consoles, including Microsoft's upcoming Xbox One.

The Xbox One and Sony's upcoming PlayStation 4 will both feature customized AMD accelerated processor units (APUs) integrating the chip maker's forthcoming Jaguar-class CPU cores and Radeon graphics, as well as a memory controller, video decoder, and other functionality. The Nintendo Wii U, released last November, relies on an IBM PowerPC 750 CPU but also incorporates an AMD-designed GPU.

Specs had already been revealed for the PlayStation 4, and obviously also for the Wii U, so Tuesday's Xbox One reveal by Microsoft made AMD's trifecta official.

"AMD is very excited to be working with Microsoft on their next-generation Xbox One. The Microsoft Xbox One leverages a single-chip, semi-custom AMD APU, with custom components co-developed with Microsoft designed to enable unique attributes of the system Microsoft is bringing to market," Saeid Moshkelani, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD's Semi-Custom Business Unit, said in a statement.



July 20, 2012

AMD Ekes Out a Profit in Rough Q2

AMD Logo

Advanced Micro Devices managed a $46 million profit in a rough second quarter that saw revenue decrease by double digits both sequentially and year -over-year, the company reported Thursday.

AMD had earlier warned that sales would be down for the quarter and revenue of $1.41 billion was a 10 percent decline from the $1.57 billion the company pulled in for the same quarter a year ago, when it posted profits of $105 million. The chip maker had sales of $1.59 billion in the first quarter of 2012 but that period was marked by a loss of $580 million.

"Overall weakness in the global economy, softer consumer spending, and lower channel demand for our desktop processors in China and Europe made the closing weeks of the quarter challenging. We are taking definitive steps to improve our performance and correct the issues within our control as we expect headwinds will continue in the third quarter as the industry sets a new baseline," AMD president and CEO Rory Read said in a statement.

"We remain optimistic about our core businesses as well as future opportunities with our competitively differentiated next-generation Accelerated Processor Units (APUs). Our recently launched Trinity APU continues to gain traction with customers. We are committed to driving profitable growth," he added.

In the second quarter, AMD introduced its both its Trinity chips for ultrathin laptops, which succeed the first-generation Llano APUs, and mainstream notebook processors code named Brazos 2.0, securing design wins from Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Samsung, Toshiba, Asus, Acer, and other computer manufacturers.



July 17, 2012

Another Decent, Unspectacular Quarter for Intel

Intel Logo

The operative word for Intel these days is "flat." The chip giant on Tuesday reported small sequential gains in sales and profits for the second quarter of 2012, but the kind of sustained quarterly growth that marked the pre-recession heyday of the PC industry now seems a distant memory.

Intel reported second-quarter revenue of $13.5 billion, up 5 percent from the previous quarter, net income of $2.8 billion, up 3 percent, and an EPS of 54 cents, up 2 percent.

But quarterly profits were down by about $100 million year-over-year, EPS was flat, and extending the numbers to the past six months paints an even more worrying picture—Intel had a better overall first half in 2011 than in 2012.

Intel president and chief executive Paul Otellini presented a conservative outlook on the company's third-quarter prospects, but said the maturation of the chip maker's ultrabook initiative and the pending release of Microsoft's next-gen Windows 8 operating system could help close out 2012 with a bang.

"The second quarter was highlighted by solid execution with continued strength in the data center and multiple product introductions in ultrabooks and smartphones. As we enter the third quarter, our growth will be slower than we anticipated due to a more challenging macroeconomic environment," he said.

"With a rich mix of ultrabook and Intel-based tablet and phone introductions in the second half, combined with the long-term investments we're making in our product and manufacturing areas, we are well positioned for this year and beyond."



April 30, 2012

Dell Unveils Ivy Bridge-Powered Alienware Gaming Laptops

Dell Alienware M18x Ivy Bridge

Dell on Monday released three new high-performance Alienware gaming laptops powered by Intel's third-generation Core processors, also known as Ivy Bridge. The new lineup includes 14-, 17.3-, and 18.4-inch notebooks featuring the latest mobile graphics from Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices.

Along with the introduction of the new Alienware M14x, M17x, and M18x laptops, Dell announced a collaboration with Electronic Arts to implement Dell's AlienFX software and lighting control system in Battlefield 3, the computer maker said in a statement. Gamers playing Battlefield 3 on an Alienware rig will also have access to an exclusive Alienware Arena dog tag in the first-person shooter.

"Our customers want the most immersive gaming experience possible, and we've taken the all-powerful M14x, M17x, and M18x laptops and made them even better, delivering the latest technologies for almost every need," Alienware general manager Frank Azor said. "We've always offered the latest technology for the best gaming experience possible, and our enhanced lineup will let you 'pwn' any competitor and provide the sensory experience that we know you crave."

The Alienware M14x starts at $1,099, the M17x is priced at $1,499, and the M18x carries a price tag of $1,999. All three laptops are currently available for order on Dell.com and Alienware.com.



April 26, 2012

Samsung Unveils New Chip, Will Power Next Galaxy Device

Samsung Exynos 4 Quad

Samsung today unveiled the Exynos 4 Quad chip, which will power its next Galaxy device.

The ARM Cortex A9-based, 1.4-GHz processor provides double the processing power of its predecessor, the 45nm process-based Exynos 4 Dual, while consuming 20 percent less power.

"To improve power efficiency, Samsung adopted hot-plug functionality to support on-off switching for each core as well as the per-core dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS), which offers a dramatic reduction in power consumption by adapting different levels of voltage and frequency when changing workloads," Samsung said.

The company also promised enhanced multi-tasking performance, and said the Exynos 4 Quad is "well-suited" for heavy-load applications like 3D games, video editing, and calculation-intensive simulation.

Multi-core processing allows users to complete more tasks in a shorter period of time. "For example, a task such as streaming video can run on one core while the other cores update applications in the background, connecting to the web and scanning virus-check simultaneously," Samsung said.

The chip's full HD 30 frame per second video hardware codec engine will allow high resolution 1080p video recording and playback.



April 23, 2012

Intel Ships Third-Generation Core (Ivy Bridge) Processors

NDA Review: Intel Core i7 3770K

Today is the launch date for Intel's new "Ivy Bridge" CPUs, officially known as the company's "third-generation Core" processors. Essentially a die shrink of the current "Sandy Bridge," 32-nm second-generation Core chips, Ivy Bridge represents the first implementation of Intel's 22nm manufacturing process. This means that the newer processors will perform as well or better than today's models, with lower power requirements and better cooling.

Within Intel's marketing jargon, Ivy Bridge is the latest "tick," or die shrink, on its "tick-tock" release schedule. (The previous "tock," a new microarchitecture, occurred last year with the release of Sandy Bridge.) What this shows is that Intel is continuing to move forward, making PC processors that are both more capable and more efficient.

The new processors come in both full- and low-power desktop models, as well as mobile models. All told, Intel is releasing at least 20 different Core i7 and i5 models with TDP (Thermal Design Power) ratings from 35 watts up to 77 watts. If you remember that the previous-generation processors had TDP ratings from 35 to 95 watts (not counting 130 watts for the Extreme Edition parts), you can see that the Intel Core processor line is becoming more efficient and easier to cool.