Burning Bumps and Flaming Wafers

It’s the S|A weekly roundup

Intel launched a new chipset this week, and just like OCZ, they also launched a new series of SSDs. There were also quite a few graphics card and game performance reviews to look over despite the lack of new graphics to play with. But let’s get to what you really care about, the news and reviews!

Yaroslav Lyssenko of Xbitlabs reviewed the new 4.1 patch, which brings DX 11 to the extremely popular MMORPG, the World of Warcraft. Lyssenko asserts in his conclusion that the mythical noble prize for IT companies, should be given to Blizzard for their continued work on WoW. This article also demonstrates that DX 11 can be used to both increase graphical fidelity and performance over DX 9.0c. WoW is one of the few games who’s performance actually improved from moving to DX 11 like the community was promised back in ’09. I wonder if Crysis 2 will show the same pattern when its DX 11 patch comes out.

Legit Reviews Nathan Kirsch did an interesting browser comparison this week, when he tried to answer the simplest question; which browser is fastest under Windows 7. It’s Chrome 11, followed by Opera, and Firefox 4. I doubt that many of you were surprised by these findings, but the tests also showed that we’re in for another round of performance improvements, when the current betas and alphas go to stable releases.

Jennifer of Expreview had interesting Crossfire HD 6850 review in which she compared the scaling result she achieved at launch, to the results she got on this go around, and found a 15+ percent performance improvement. The fact that a pair of HD 6850’s are cheaper than a GTX 580 and perform better makes them an even more potent value proposition. It seems that drivers really do have the largest impact on the efficiency of multi-GPU scaling.

Intel leaked some interesting details about it’s upcoming Atom mirco-architectural refresh this week. Silvermont is the code name for the new core, and it’s set to see the light of day sometime in 2013. In related news oft-forgotten x86 chip designer VIA paper launched a QuadCore chip based off it’s previously paper launched Nano X2. Anand Lai Shimpi got a few really awesome photo’s of VIA’s Server farm of overclocked, and water-cooled, i5s and i7s. While VIA is producing some interesting products it seems relatively hard to find the latest ones at major retailers, unless you’re in China.

We also learned a bit more about Intel’s continuing plans for it’s Sandybridge based chips. It seems that Sandybridge-EX chips will not be clocked much higher than their smaller predecessors. It also appears that some Celeron branded Sandybridge parts are on their way to retailers. Am I the only one looking forward to these Socket LGA 2011 based parts? Because the more I hear about them, the better they sound.

Speaking of drivers, AMD released Catalyst 11.5 and the subsequent 11.5a hot-fix this week. The prevailing user sentiment about the drivers appears to be best summed up by commenter potatochobit,





Maybe you are.

A picture of an early Llano motherboard surfaced this week over at VR-Zone. It seems that things are looking quite good for a Llano launch next month. Perennial AMD slide leak source, Donanimhaber has yet again released more details in form of more benchmarks. Oddly enough, they show AMD’s new Llano parts with a significant lead over Intel’s Sandybridge based parts. Motherboard maker Biostar also promised to show off AMD’s upcoming 9xx, and A75, series motherboard at Computex at the end of the month. Llano and its ecosystem are looking less and less like vapor ware, and more and more like a very well done mid to low end computing platform. I guess Globalfoundries really did work out their yield problem.

Intel’s Z68 series motherboards launched to much fan fare this week. It seems that Z68 is a good chipset, as it rights the artificial wrongs of Intel’s old line up. The only problem seems to be the mixed reviews that Intel’s SSD caching feature are getting. Simply put, some think it’s a useful feature and others don’t. Whatever the case the next Intel motherboard launch will probably be in Q4.

Dan Stoltz of Legit Reviews had an excellent how to/article on unlocking an HD 6950 into an HD 6970. It seems that not only does the BIOS flashing unlock trick work on the reference HD 6950’s, but it also works on the 1 GB versions as well. If you’ve got to pick out a card on a $300 budget, the HD 6950 looks to be a whole lot of fun.

The tech and financial news sites have been ablaze for the last week, trying to confirm or deny or just get a word of opinion in on S|A’s “Apple dumps Intel from laptop lines” article. David Kanter of RWT seems to have laid out one of the more complete arguments as to why our dear Charlie is “misguided”. Unfortunately others were less kind. Sadly they don’t report news of their own but like to shoot the messenger on a slow news day.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.