Almost on Target

A few misses, a few hits, history will tell…

3D transistors? Bulldozer and Llano benchmarks? Upcoming motherboard leaks? And the highest clocked desktop quad core ever released? It must be May.

The 3.7Ghz Phenom II X4 980 BE launched this week, it seems that the chip is fairly competent, but if anything the power consumption and performance levels obtained by the 980 BE just remind us of the age of the Deneb chip. Llano and Bulldozer can’t come fast enough, but AMD has also announced some price cuts to keep it competitive for a bit longer.

More motherboards from Intel’s upcoming Z68 chipset popped up on the net this week, one from MSI, and a list of 11 upcoming motherboards from Gigabyte. Look for Z68 reviews sometime next week.

Also in the news this week was a number of leaks about AMD partners on their upcoming motherboards based on AMD’s upcoming 9 series chipsets. Sweclockers had one story with a picture of a upcoming ASUS board and then another story on the specifications of six upcoming ASUS boards. It seems that these 9 series motherboards are coming along nicely and that there will be quite a selection to choose from come June.

Opera seems to be taking a page from Chrome’s book this week by including a feature called Opera Next that automatically downloads the latest builds, much like Chrome Canary. Internet Explorer 9 got reviewed by Alan Stevens of BCW who found that IE9 was a very competent browser. He also noted that there is increasingly little to differentiate the big three browsers. Hmm… Let’s just agree to pick the shiniest one and go with that…

I’m just going to leave this here. But let’s hope governments don’t ban website linking.

As an administrative note the comments section on all of the articles here at S|A can best be described as lightly moderated. All of comments are spam filtered, which means that you will, if lucky, be pulled from the spam bin, think of it like winning the lottery.  The S|A staff also have to approve your first comment on any article, we call that spam reduction up front, but as long as you’re not a spammer or swear like a sailor you’ll get through. What this means in practical terms is that there may be a bit of a delay from the point at which you post a comment, and the point at which your comment appears below the article.

Kristian Vättö of Anandtech had an article detailing Intel’s upcoming Cedar Trail platform. It seems that we’ll only see two new Atom SKU’s initially and that the performance improvement over this years Atom’s will be modest. Isn’t Atom starting to get boring? Maybe thing will pick up in 2012 when it makes it on to Intel’s 22nm process. In a follow up article Vättö detailed Ivybridge and Intel’s Pantherpoint chipset line up. It’s chipset naming madness I tell you!

Tweaktown’s Shane Baxtor posted his Catalyst 11.4 WHQL driver analysis this week. It seems that AMD wasn’t lying to us when it promised substantial performance improvements. If you’ve been looking for the next big AMD driver update worth bothering with 11.4 is it.

Intel’s Sandybridge-E CPU’s have made it out into the wilds of eBay. It seems that these chips have eight cores, which is two more than the latest Intel roadmap promised. It seems that Intel is playing it safe and planning on maintaining its top dog position on the high-end.

OCZ launched its PCI-E based VeloDrive this week. With configurations of up to 1.2 TB and 4 SandForce controllers there is little more that you could want. OCZ also reported record revenue for Q1 this week, despite a slight loss OCZ expects to make up the lost ground in the coming quarters. Seagate on the other hand just announced its first terabyte per platter hard drives and Intel is now planning on moving the NAND on it’s SSD products from a TSOP package to a BGA package. SSD’s, and Terabytes, if only we could have both for under $100; maybe in 5 years.

The boys over at Donanimhaber leaked a bunch of slides from AMD this week. First we learned of AMD’s launch schedule for June, Jacob Hugosson’s interpretation is here and then we got to see some Llano and Bulldozer benchmarks from a rather plain looking slide. Is it that Donanimhaber has developed some really good sources from inside AMD’s marketing department?  But aside from that it also appears that AMD’s Llano and Bulldozer parts are competent enough to continue the competition in the desktop market. June will be a big month for AMD fans and hardware enthusiasts, look for the best coverage here. S|A

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Thomas Ryan is a freelance technology writer and photographer from Seattle, living in Austin. You can also find his work on SemiAccurate and PCWorld. He has a BA in Geography from the University of Washington with a minor in Urban Design and Planning and specializes in geospatial data science. If you have a hardware performance question or an interesting data set Thomas has you covered.