Ultrabooks! More dramatic than a Shark attack…

Good enough for a movie.

Flaming WaferThere was a little bit of everything going on this week. There were new drivers for some, new rumors for others, and new products for a few more. But enough of me babbling on, let’s get to the linking!

It appears that Global Foundries is poaching some of TSMC’s business. Fuad Abazovic reported the possibility of upcoming graphics chips and bobcat based APU’s coming from Global Foundries rather than TSMC, the perennial producer of the two. This mirrors what many have been hearing from their sources for some time. It will be extremely interesting to compare graphics chips coming from each of the suppliers; If that is what ends up happening. But AMD probably won’t dual source the same SKUs from different suppliers to avoid quality control issues. We’ll just have to wait and see how this one plays out.

Quite a few different sites have been reporting a rumor that AMD is going ship its high-end CPUs with water cooling solutions akin to Corsair’s H50 or H70 products. A number of people have taken issue with the idea for reasons ranging from an increase in price, to reviews showing these liquid cooling solutions are out classed by high-end air based solutions. Let’s all be honest though, any attempt to improve upon the stock AMD cooler is a step in the right direction. I think the last time they had a decent stock cooler was back in 2008; but that had more to do with the thermal profile of the original Phenoms, rather than a desire by AMD to give everyone respectable cooling solutions.

Lenovo raised the quality bar for Llano based laptops quite a bit this week with the launch of the Thinkpad E525 and E425 models. The former is a 15” laptop and the latter is a 14” model. Both sport the features that you’d expect from you standard ThinkPads with the Llano twist. If you were waiting for the business version of Llano, it’s arrived.

Dell also launched a couple of new Intel powered notebooks recently. These new products, the 14z and 13z, sport your standard 2nd Generation Core-Isomethingmeaningless processors; but what really makes them interesting is their weight, which is about a pound, and their sub-one-inch thickness. Not too shabby for a fully powered notebook.

David Kanter over at RTW put together an excellent article that looks into graphics architecture of Intel’s Sandybridge series of chips. Not only does he look at the theoretical and practical advantages of the new architecture over the previous one. But he compares it with AMD’s Llano and points out some short comings of both Intel’s approach and AMD’s approach. If you’ve ever wanted to know how Sandy Bridges GPU stacks up against the competition in the purest sense possible, look no further than this article.

I don’t know if anyone keeps tabs on Intel’s Youtube channel, but I drop by occasionally to check in and see what one of most effective marketing departments in the world is creating to maintain their brand’s, relatively high, level of awareness. When I got there I found this little gem (scroll down past the banner video). It’s a marketing video that’s trying to sell the concept of “Ultrabooks” to the consumer; and boy does it use the most ridiculously over the top music I’ve ever heard. I swear Intel’s marketing department would show no shame in billing Knights Ferry as the greatest bacon grilling / HPC device ever created, oh, and they might sample some music from Pirates of the Caribbean. I mean come on guys, there’s a line between inspirational, and over the top. Especially when what you’re trying to sell is a MacBook Air, in black.

Nvidia released a new driver this week. It improves 3D Vision support on a number of products and brought support for SLI on certain AMD 9 series motherboards. That not a bad list of improvements. So if your PC is sporting something green make sure to grab them.

Seagate recently announced that it had shipped its millionth drive from its Monentus XT line of storage solutions. These drives combine traditional hard drive technology with flash memory that acts like a cache for the rest of the drive. Initially the Monentus XT series of drives were seen as an interesting idea, but they needed, and still need, a significant investment to fine tune them and fully expose the performance potential of the solution. Let’s hope that Seagate is hard at work on a refresh of this line.

Everybody hit the deck! The Counter-Strike franchise is coming back with a title called Global Offensive. Many of you will probably remember the original Counter-Strike mod for Half-Life, and its more mainstream successors, being some of the most popular online games to date. In any case, it will be interesting to see if Valve chooses to update the graphics of the Source Engine which is getting rather long in the tooth compared to some more modern engines like the Frostbite or Unreal Engine’s. I for one would like to see at least some, DirectX 11, or OpenGL 4.x support.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.