Tag Archives: processor

Future of the Data Center


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The Microsoft Data Center Futures team built a prototype containing 100 dual-core Atom processors. They believe that data centers in the future will include many more low-power processors. This prototype is the first step in demonstrating their potential cost savings.

This little board is tiny, inexpensive, and powerful. This is definitely server-level stuff. Microsoft is running Server 2008 on these, along with other Microsoft applications. The devs have taken 50 of these boards, put them in a rack, and turned it into a server. The server is actually efficient and quiet, and can be plugged right into a regular power outlet!

This was done as an experiment, and it’s one that is working! There isn’t yet enough data to make a general statement, but none of the boards have failed yet. That is a good sign for the future, and shows the way things are going to go. Everyone wants parts to cost less, and everyone wants to save energy.

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What is Intel’s Core i7?

Geek!This is Kyle Allen’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Core i7 brings us Intel’s first true quad core processors, all four cores are now on a single die. Previously Intel’s Quad Core’s were essentially two dual core processors in one package. The current Core i7 line includes three Quad Core Processors, the 920 (2.66GHz), 940 (2.93GHz), and 965 Extreme Edition (3.2GHz). Currently priced at $294.99, $569.99, and $1029.99 respectively (Prices from Newegg).

The only Chipset that currently supports the Core i7 architecture is Intel’s own X58 express, offered by many manufacturers such as Intel, Asus, Gigabyte, Foxconn, EVGA, MSI, and Biostar. The X58 chipset supports ATI CrossFireX technology, Nvidia has even opened up SLI support for the X58 express chipset, although motherboard manufacturers must submit their motherboards to Nvidia for review. Core i7 brings many new technologies and even brings back some old. Intel has brought back Hyper Threading technology which allows each core to process two threads of information simultaneously, so each of the Core i7 processors have 8 threads and are seen as 8 Virtual Cores by the systems OS.

Core i7 isn’t just Intel’s new line of Processors it’s an entirely new, much improved architecture. Intel has replaced the Front Side Bus (FSB) with its new Quick Path Interconnect (QPI) which can achieve data transfer speeds as high as 25.6 GB/sec. Intel says QPI performance is 6.4 Gigatransfers/second on the 965 Extreme Edition and 4.8 Gigatransfers/second on the 940 or 920 CPUs, the resulting bandwidth is either 16 or 12GB/s respectively. Intel’s Core i7 bring us an integrated memory controller which offers improved performance due to increased bandwidth and lower latency. Core i7 processors now feature L1, L2, and Shared L3 Cache, 64K per core, 256K per core, and 8MB shared respectively. Core i7 only supports DDR3 and bring us fast triple channel memory, it is also recommended that memory is operated below 1.65V.

Core i7 also features advanced Power Management features, Power Gate allows individual cores to enter a sleep state while other cores are under load, the processors include integrated power controllers and a power control unit that actively monitor each cores power consumption, and voltages. Having integrated power controllers and a power control unit is important to the Core i7 architecture because it allows the CPU to transfer power from cores in sleep mode to cores under load in what Intel calls “Turbo Mode.” If one of the cores is being used heavily, it can use some of the power that would ordinarily be used for one of the other cores if it is not currently in use to essentially overclock individual cores. Lastly Core i7 introduces a new CPU socket the LGA 1366, a 1366 pin socket that functions similarly to the current LGA 775, but is slightly larger and the CPU cooler mounting holes are further apart.

What Should You Look for When Buying a New PC?

The other night, I posted a blog post from Dan, with his tips on how to find information. He sent me a second list, and it is definitely something you all should read through. Here are Dan’s tips for how to make sense of Windows computer specs when buying a new computer.

  • SIZE Decide what general dimensions you want and what personal preferences you have. Examples are: laptop or desktop?, screen size?, keyboard size?, physically large or small? It is important to have SOME idea of what you want because a store employee is going to try to sell you the most expensive computer they can.
  • RAM The more stuff your computer does at one time (internet+music+documents+email) the more RAM you’re going to need. Vista (which ships with all Windows PCs now) needs significantly more RAM than XP does, but most of the major manufacturers have added RAM to compensate. If you plan on pushing your multi-tasking ability to the limit (or if you’re going to game) you’re going to need 3 to 4 gigabytes. For a normal user- 2 gigabytes should meet your needs just fine.
  • HARD DRIVE The more pictures, video, and music you want on your computer, the more hard drive space you’ll need. The hard drives are getting really large to compensate for the increase in personal digital media creation. Keep in mind that it’s probably better to keep your valuable data in an external place anyway, so don’t get carried away. (100-200GB is a smaller size, 300-500+ is really large.)
  • PROCESSOR The processor controls almost all operations of your computer, so again, if you’re going to be pushing your computer a lot, get a faster one (2-3GHz). Vista needs 1GHz to run comfortably, but even most laptops have a faster one out of box.
  • Shop Around! There are a lot of brands of computers, at a lot of different prices, found in a bunch of different places. I’d recommend sniffing around a couple of big-box stores, then seeing if there’s anything in online stores that may match you better. A computer is a significant investment that should last you for a long time, so do your homework!
  • Video Cards If you plan of doing any gaming, make SURE you get a dedicated video card (usually ATI or Nvidia). If it doesn’t have a sticker for one of those on the case, then it’s an integrated graphics chipset. In most cases, it’s going to be significantly less powerful.
  • Getting Ripped Off If you go to a large store like Best Buy or Circuit City, be wary of all the ‘But there’s more!’ packages they try to throw at you. Be wary of the protection plans, but get it if you need it. DO NOT buy the security suite they try to shove down your throat, there are much better free alternatives for Windows security out there.

Does Your Computer Need a Boost?

Dominec recently submitted an email to me, full of tips and tricks. Earlier, I posted his tips to create an iPhone ringtone yourself using iTunes, and your own music. He also sent in the following excellent tips for upgrading your PC.

Like it or not, that blazing fast piece of hardware you have in front of you will become obsolete in a few years. It won’t be able to run some of the newest applications, or run as fast as some of the newer hardware. This is the case for many people (including myself) who currently run on “less than favorable” hardware. So if you are looking to spruce up your computer a bit more, here are the top 5 things you should look at upgrading:

  1. Your monitor While it won’t speed up your computer, a new monitor will generally make your user experience a lot better. If you bought a computer over 4-5 years ago, you will likely have a CRT monitor. The colors are usually not as vivid, they drain a lot of power, and the resolution is terrible. A new monitor will allow you to view webpages better, allow for more of a multimedia experience, and even provide more functionality with some monitors containing USB ports, Card Readers and Optical drives. Additionally, if your response time is better (from CRT’s to LCD’s) you may even have the illusion that pages are loading smoother and faster.
  2. Your Hard Drive You can never have too much space, especially with the way technology is moving. That 40GB HDD you had 3 years ago just doesn’t compare to the type of storage you can get today. With more storage, you can hold more media files, run more applications, and even have the ability to dual boot your system. In addition, if you are able to buy a hard drive that spins at a faster rate (higher RPM), your data will load quicker, your OS will load quicker, and there won’t be as much lag with your system.
  3. The motherboard This applies especially to people who bought their computer directly from a manufacturer. Some old motherboards can’t support the new technology of today, such as more advanced PSU’s to cool your Dual-Core processors, and the faster DDR2 memory as opposed to standard DDR. Upgrading your motherboard is a very involved process, and not for everyone. If you are up to the challenge, it will improve every aspect of your computer. More USB ports, faster data transmission, support for more optical drives, more RAM, and faster processors are just some of the things to look forward to.
  4. Your RAM Often clichéd in the computer world is how much a RAM upgrade will do for your computer, especially for those thinking of running Vista (or any modern day OS). The best metaphor to compare this to is to think of your RAM as your desk. The more desk space you have, the more papers, office supplies, printers, and other hardware you can hold. With more RAM, you can have many programs open at once, call them into view quicker, and generally improve the speed of every application. The best thing about installing RAM is that it’s cheap, and easy for the novice computer user to do. It can turn an old computer with 256MB of RAM into a quick multitasking machine with a 1GB upgrade.
  5. The Processor If you plan to upgrade only one thing in your old computer, this would be it. The processor is what controls everything on the computer, so naturally, more power is never a bad thing. The best analogy here is a car. With a bigger engine, everything runs smoother and quicker. With a new processor, loading times will be shorter, pages will load faster, your computer will boot up and turn off faster… it really is something that will improve every aspect of your computer. Even for older computer that can’t support Dual-Core technology, you can buy extremely fast Pentium 4 chips for under $50. There is not a single part of your computer that will suffer, and all parts will thank you.

Quad Core Gaming


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – I had a question sent in about processors. The question is whether or not a game made for single processor systems would run on a Quad Core system, only use one processor, or not work at all?

If you have a multi-core computer, you can still play games designed for single-core computers. The games may not be as fast, or work quite as well. Likewise, if a game developer says that the latest game was designed for dual or quad-core systems… it WILL still run on a single core system. The number of processors you have won’t determine whether the game works or not. It will work. That could, however, determine how well it works. Let your Operating System manage the way the game is run. It will know what to do.

How many processors do you have in your computer? I did a quick poll in our chat room. A large percentage of those who voted state that they have single or duo-core processors. Nine people claim to have EIGHT processors. Are you guys sure about that??

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Processor Speeds


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http://live.pirillo.com/ -Eric left a voice mail for me, wondering why his processor speeds sometimes have a large variance. The good news is, this doesn’t mean the processor is failing.

Eric’s processor speed is 1.99GHz at times, and others it will be ‘down’ to 1.14GHz. This is actually normal, and nothing to worry about. If you’re using an Intel processor, then SpeedStep Technology is the result. Likewise, if you are using an AMD processor, then Cool’n’Quiet is the ‘culprit’.

Years ago, if you bought a computer with a let’s say 1GHz processor, that processor always worked at 1GHz. Now when you buy a processor, these third party applications I mentioned will automatically adjust the processor speed to match the state of your computer or laptop. This saves power and battery life. If you are running something with intense graphics, for instance, your processor will need to be running faster. When the computer is not doing much, or nothing at all, these applications will slow the processor down to save on power and/or battery.

If you do not have one of these apps and need them to help regulate your processor speeds, you can visit the Intel or AMD sites to obtain the proper one. Also, you can probably visit your pc manufacturer’s website to get them, as well.

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AMD AM2 FX-62 Processor

AMD AM2 FX-62 Processor.jpg

Here’s the AMD AM2 FX-62 Processor – not available in stores or PCs quite yet. I had an opportunity to play with it at WinHEC yesterday. Feels like a processor, man. Looks like a processor, too. The AMD representatives were quite kind to me, answering all the questions without all the ego that other companies seem to exude. AMD isn’t blogging yet, but some of their employees certainly have blogger-type personalities. Can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeve. A great amount of technology and hardware enthusiasts are totally in AMD’s camp. Intel has to play catch-up. One thing’s for sure – there’s an impending processor war coming, and the consumers will win. If you’d like a larger view, just click on the picture. We’ll be interviewing AMD for the show soon enough (as we’ve already given Intel a chance to share their spin).