Tuesday, January 29, 2013

AnandTech Article Channel

AnandTech Article Channel

AZZA Silentium Case Review: Knowing the Limits

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 08:01 PM PST

The desktop enclosure market has broken down pretty simply into three categories with only the rarest of outliers. Cases under $100 will either have good acoustics or good thermals, but never really both. Cases between $100 and $150 will typically find a balance. And if you're paying more than $150 for a case, it needs to deliver on both, full stop. The problem that sub-$100 silent cases often run into is that the measures taken to keep noise down result in substantially reduced airflow, and when you start really pushing the hardware (and thus the limits of the case's cooling), those measures actually serve to increase system noise beyond a garden variety case.

With all of that information in mind, AZZA's $99 Silentium is entering a perilous market. The Silentium is meant to compete with cases like the BitFenix Ghost and the NZXT H2, offering quiet computing at a competitive price point. The problem is that when you're at the top of the sub-$100 market, you risk having to compete with monsters like the Fractal Design Define R4 and the soon-to-be-released-on-American-shores Nanoxia Deep Silence 1. Does the Silentium carve out its own niche, or is it fighting an uphill battle?

The AnandTech Podcast: Episode 15

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 03:21 PM PST

We're back after CES and have a little bit of post-show wrap-up. We kick off this week's podcast with a discussion of Intel's near term challenges in the industry and Intel's decision to leave the desktop motherboard business. The Valvebox and the idea of a truly open console are next on the list of big topics for this week, although we also talk about Samsung's Exynos 5 Octa, the 3rd gen SandForce controller and Intel's newly announced Yolo smartphone. 

The AnandTech Podcast - Episode 15
featuring Anand Shimpi, Brian Klug & Dr. Ian Cutress

RSS - mp3m4a
Direct Links - mp3m4a

Total Time: 1 hour 19 minutes

Outline - hh:mm

Thoughts on Intel's Challenges - 00:00
Intel Leaving the Desktop Motherboard Business - 00:12
The Valvebox - 00:25
SandForce Gen 3 SSD Controllers - 00:54
Samsung Exynos 5 Octa - 00:55
The Yolo Phone - 01:10

As always, comments are welcome and appreciated. 

NVIDIA GeForce R313.95 Beta Drivers Available

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 10:50 AM PST

It seems ironic that after years of their monthly releases when AMD/ATI has now switched to a "when it's necessary" release schedule--something NVIDIA has been doing via official beta releases for a similar time--that the cadence of official releases from both AMD and NVIDIA seems unphased. In fact, as usual the holiday season only increased the pace of updates. The second half of 2012 and beginning of 2013 for instance gives us the following drivers:

Recent Driver Releases
NVIDIA Version Release Date AMD Version Release Date
313.95 Beta 28-Jan-2013 13.2 Beta (12.100.0) This Week
310.90 WHQL 5-Jan-2013 13.1 WHQL (9.012.0) 17-Jan-2013
310.70 WHQL 17-Dec-2012 12.11 Beta11 (9.010.8) 4-Dec-2012
310.70 Beta 4-Dec-2012 12.11 Beta7 (9.010.8) 12-Nov-2012
310.64 Beta 28-Nov-2012 12.10 WHQL (9.002.0) 23-Oct-2012
310.61 Beta 20-Nov-2012 12.9 Beta (9.001.0) 26-Sep-2012
310.54 Beta 12-Nov-2012 12.8 WHQL (8.982.0) 14-Sep-2012
310.33 Beta 23-Oct-2012 12.6 WHQL (8.980.0) 30-Jun-2012
306.97 WHQL 10-Oct-2012 12.7 Official Beta (8.981.2.1) 27-Jun-2012
306.23 WHQL 13-Sep-2012 12.7 Beta (8.981.2) 12-Jun-2012
306.02 Beta 27-Aug-2012 12.x (9.00) 12-Jun-2012
304.79 Beta 3-Jul-2012 12.x (8.980.0) 4-Jun-2012
304.48 Beta 18-Jun-2012 Win8 Release Preview (8.972.4) 2-Jun-2012

Note the increase in NVIDIA's releases as the holiday games came out, with two or three driver updates each month for the past four months. In contrast, AMD had five beta releases in June (which were all similar and mostly looked to fix bugs not addressed in the initial beta) along with a WHQL driver, the 12.8 WHQL in September along with another beta, 12.10 WHQL in October, the 12.11 beta in December, and now the 13.1 WHQL and 13.2 beta in January. Basically, we're looking at similar total number of readily available driver releases during the same seven months, but AMD had a lot of betas early in the cycle (many related to Enduro and WIndows 8 support).

NVIDIA's latest update primarily looks to address performance issues with Crysis 3, though there are a few other recent titles like Assassin's Creed III, Black Ops II, and Far Cry 3 that may also see performance improvements. NVIDIA's release notes claim improvements of up to 65% in Crysis 3 and 24% in Assassin's Creed III, though that's with the ultra-high-end GTX 690 desktop GPU so those with lower class GPUs should temper their expectations accordingly. Interestingly, we're still seeing potential performance improvements (albeit minor) in some older titles like Civilization V, DiRT 3, Far Cry 2, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. You can read the full release notes on NVIDIA's site, with the following downloads currently available (and yes, Windows XP is supported as well, but I figure few enough gamers are running that with high-end hardware that it's not worth the extra four links):

313.95 Desktop Beta 64-bit Windows Vista/7/8
313.95 DesktopBeta 32-bit Windows Vista/7/8
313.95 Notebook Beta 64-bit Windows Vista/7/8
313.95 Notebook Beta 32-bit Windows Vista/7/8

Thanks to reader SH SOTN for the heads up!

Intel's SSD 525: Bringing iSandForce to mSATA

Posted: 28 Jan 2013 07:30 AM PST

Today Intel is officially announcing what we've had in house since the end of last year: the Intel SSD 525. Based on SandForce's SF-2281 controller but using a special Intel validated (but SandForce developed) firmware, the 525 is an mSATA version of the 2.5" SATA Intel SSD 520 that launched last February. Unlike the Intel SSD 335, the 525 uses the same 25nm 2-bit MLC IMFT NAND as the 520, the only difference here is the form factor. 

Similar to the 520, Intel is claiming max sequential performance of 550/520 MBps (compressible reads/writes). Random IO specs are listed as up to 50K/80K for 4KB random reads/writes. 

The 525 features a 5-year warranty from Intel and will be available in capacities ranging from 30GB all the way up to 240GB. The 120GB and 180GB 525s are shipping today, with the rest of the models scheduled to be available later this quarter. Pricing is listed below:

Intel SSD 525 Launch Pricing
Capacity 30GB 60GB 90GB 120GB 180GB 240GB
RCP/MSRP $54 $104 $129 $149 $214 $279

Intel's suggested pricing is a bit higher than Crucial's mSATA m4, but street pricing is almost always lower than what we see in these press announcements. The range of capacities and granular size options will make the 525 good for everything from a very small boot drive (30GB) all the way up to a full fledged OS/apps drive at the higher capacities.

By the middle of the year we should see the arrival of the first NGFF (now known as M.2) form factor SSDs that should eventually supplant mSATA. It will take a little while for motherboards and OEM systems to implement M.2, so I expect that we'll continue to see mSATA used. I do hope for a quick transition to M.2 however, not only is the standard more flexible (e.g. longer cards can deliver even higher capacity drives) but it also supports PCIe as well as SATA as an interface.

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