If you're a Google Chrome user, you'll be delighted to know that Chrome 18 is now available. The release focuses mostly on bringing a bunch of graphical enhancements to the browser, including GPU acceleration, which your CPU processor will likely thank you for by way of faster performance. You can grab the new release now.
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The perpetual war for supremacy between AMD and Nvidia constantly leaves enthusiasts dodging shrapnel: When you want the best video card you can afford, why buy one now instead of waiting for the better one the competing chipset designer will undoubtedly release in a few months? This leaves reviewers in a tough spot, too, as we're constantly proclaiming that nearly every new card is the fastest ever. But because you can only live in the world you live in, we're obliged to go there. So, here goes once again: The just-released AMD Radeon HD 7970 ($549 list) is the latest fastest and most feature-rich single-GPU card ever, surpassing our previous Editors' Choice winner, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 580.
Though we have little doubt that Nvidia will yank back that title with its next generation of cards, the 7970 is an impressive achievement for the moment. (It's rumored to become widely available by early January of 2012.) The inaugural member of the Southern Islands family, it utilizes a fresh architecture AMD refers to as "Graphics Core Next." Based on a new 28nm process technology and utilizing more than 4.3 billion transistors, Graphics Core Next uses a revised instruction set architecture, gives each compute unit the ability to simultaneously execute instructions from multiple kernels, and delivers an increased number of instructions per clock cycle per square millimeter of GPU space. The result, so AMD claims, is "designed for high utilization, high throughput, and multitasking."
We caught up with Pat Moorhead of AMD and had a chat with him about the new Turion X2 chipsets and the new Hybrid Graphics technology, which allows dynamic switching between integrated and discrete graphics cards, with no restart required. The technology promises better battery life and enhanced rendering performance (although, unfortunately, not necessarily at the same time).
Stay tuned for more news from Computex 2008.
We take a close look at AMD‘s recently announced “Puma” notebook platform. Puma is a tightly-knit system for notebook suppliers comprising of the chipset, CPU, GPU and wireless chipset. Similar in some ways to their Spider desktop platform, Puma takes it to the next level by allowing for a hybrid integrated and discreet graphics solution. While Intel has something similar, AMD is apparently the first to offer a dynamically switchable system, allowing your notebook to automatically switch to integrated graphics when it detects you’ve gone on battery, or to allow you to switch manually. I asked if they plan on making it automatic, based on load, which they seemed to think was a pretty great idea and relatively easy to achieve as well. What’s more, despite the fact that the integrated and discreet GPUs are chips of differing abilities and specs, they’re still able to operate in Crossfire/hybrid mode, providing an extra boost in power and achieving some very impressive framerates.
AMD shows us their reference bench system and two other identically-configured systems, the only difference between them an Intel versus AMD integrated graphics chipset. (And CPU, naturally.) With a price difference of around $25 to AMD’s favor, the AMD integrated chip actually performs considerably better in their demo, grain of salt included. The reference system shows off their hybrid processing and lets us see what framerates we might be able to hit on an entry- to mid-level hybrid Puma system.
Puma also brings about something that’s been announced with Intel as well—the ability to deactivate CPU cores and speeds, instead of just stepping down speed. This, coupled with an intelligent HD decoder will bring about several hours of additional battery life.
We take a few moments with AMD‘s Rick Bergman, General Manager of the Graphics Processing Group, about their new Spider platform—a three-tiered computing system that helps tie together and ensure compatibility between the chipset, CPU and GPU. We talk about what sort of benefits this means to the enthusiast-class consumer. We also dive into the nitty-gritty with the new Radeon, currently codenamed the R870—a dual chip design that has two separate GPU units with an internal Crossfire link and Alternate-Frame Rendering to tie them together. I also ask about some of the design challenges realized in smashing two cards together and getting an efficient, workable result. The design is impressive and the ability to link two of these cards together will come to mean a great deal of graphics processing power in the near future.
The card will be available late January and can be powered in a typical system by a 500 watt power supply; ATI has cut their power requirements for similarly powered cards in half, without sacrificing any performance.
I think I was ten when my father and I bought our first PC at a computer show around 1992. We pieced it together from parts from each vendor who had the best deal on a given peripheral. I remember looking down at the video card selections at each vendor booth, seeing the DiamondMM (Diamond Multimedia) cards at the top of the list. Diamond, at the time, had the best performing video cards in the market, the Stealth 24 VLB just preceding the top of the line Viper P9000. This scheme carried on for years with the Stealth series featuring mainly less expensive S3 series chipsets including the Virge and Savage4 while the Viper carried exclusively high end nVidia Riva chips. They also added in the Monster3D which made use of 3DFX Voodoo line. This trend continued until 1999 when Diamond merged with S3 Graphics, and all of the ensuing cards released carried the unimpressive S3 Savage2000 line of GPU’s. These cards were a market failure, and the Diamond name disappeared from the video card market.
In 2003, Best Data purchased what was left of Diamond MM creating the current iteration of Diamond Multimedia as an independent division of Best Data. They used the newly created division to market products such as video cards, tv-tuner cards, sound cards and various connectivity devices in true DiamondMM fashion. The new video cards now carry exclusively ATI series chips.
HardOCP has put together a nice review of the Diamond Viper X1600 PRO 512 MB PCI-Express which is Diamond’s current mid-high end line, second only to the flagship Viper X1900 line of products. Be sure to check out www.diamondmm.com to see details on the new DiamondMM line of products.
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