Intel is now shipping the first processors optimized for its 22 nm 3-D transistors, which facilitate new, more powerful functionality at lower power targets. Quad- and dual-core models address a range of applications, from svelte convertible and detachable mobile form factors to potent desktop PCs.
The x86 architecture underlying these new chips is refined to improve per-clock performance. So, at the same frequency, everyday workloads finish faster, getting your system back to idle. Moreover, enhancements to the design's instruction support mean applications properly optimized for AVX2 get an even more substantial speed-up.
Beyond general-purpose performance, Intel put significant effort into augmenting this architecture's graphics muscle. Naturally, 3D games see a benefit, as do content creation apps optimized for Intel's Quick Sync decode/encode acceleration. But heterogeneous computing really comes into its own with this generation's Core processors, too.
For the uninitiated, heterogeneous computing describes a machine's ability to leverage the best hardware resources available for any task. In most cases, code is best-executed on the processor's x86 cores. However, there are a number of workloads able to utilize the graphics engine's highly parallelized nature to run quite a bit faster. APIs like OpenCL make it possible for developers to access the right subsystem, and Intel has extensive support for OpenCL in place, right out of the gate. To begin, its driver now allows optimized code to run on the x86 cores, the graphics execution units, or both. And an extensive development environment, including a brand new SDK for 2013, arms ISVs with the tools they need to actually write OpenCL-enabled software.
I have to say it. NAB didn't seem as glamorous this year. Maybe part of that had to do with trying to get to and from the convention center with a taxi cab strike happening...
In years past, there was always something that was leading edge - HD, 4K, DSLR, Adobe CS*.*, And LED lights (they are still too expensive so we are trying lower wattage to see if that cuts down the heat) just to name a few.
This year? Not so much.
Here is what I did see though, that intrigued me.
McAfee and the Channel: The deal with Intel and McAfee is done! Intel is now shipping the first of three different types of product offerings into the channel. We wondered what the response would be so we called a bunch of our readers and the response was overwhelming.
Amazingly, almost every reseller we contacted was interested in at least learning more about the product, something we seldom see beyond the latest "key products" like CPUs, graphics cards, etc.
Our review copies (it's all done electronically so we are just waiting for the key) are on the way so look for an update in the next week or so but McAfee has been on the market for a lot of years. It is a tried and trusted security product that consistantly won high praise, so we don't expect to see any challenges.
Asus VivoTab Smart ME400C: Asus has done a great job of gaining market share these past couple of years. One of the secrets to their success is the effort, energy, resources and money they put back into research and development of new product.
The VivoTab Smart ME400C is a good example. It’s an Intel Atom-based tablet with a sleeve that doubles as a stand and wireless Bluetooth keyboard option. By propping the tablet up with the sleeve and pairing it with the keyboard, users can access unlimited productivity. The 10.1” tablet, (1.27 lbs. and .51” thin) has a 178-degree viewing angle and comes loaded with Windows 8.
The tablet comes with 2GB of memory, 64GB of storage, a built-in camera and a battery life of up to 8.5 hours between charges. To learn more about Asus, click here.
Intel Xeon Phi: Intel's new HPC, GPU, Coprocessor, PCIe-based product, the Intel Xeon Phi is turning heads. The competition has taken notice. Nvidia sees it as validation of the GPU space and they are welcoming the competition. They say everyone they talked with at Supercomping believes Intel has validated the category and wants to do head to head testing.
The price looks to be below what is currently offered from the competition and customers are excited to test the product because of its relative ease of use. (Word on the street is that CUDA debugging is still not for the faint of heart. Google OpenMP to CUDA). Rumor has it that Xeon Phi runs faster on OpenMP without a recompile and Intel's compilers have been optimized to work with the Phi so performance should continue to improve.
Resellers have done well in the HPC market, competing head to head with the likes of HP and Dell both because of knowledge and time to market. Intel is smart. They're working hard with key HPC resellers to help develop new SKUs to take advantage of the technology. I'm looking forward to the Supercomputing show later this year, to see how well they did. Click to learn more.
Intel Desktop Motherboards: In case you missed it, Intel announced big changes in their desktop motherboard business. We had the opportunity multiple times to go behind the scenes to see how they took product from concept to completion and one thing really stands out. The people. They worked hard to bring rock solid product to market and did a great job doing it. Their attention to detail and concern for the end user was pretty cool. I look forward to meeting up with them in their new roles at the company.
Supermicro Battery Backup Power: One of Supermicro's strengths is its wide variety of product offerings and that includes their new Battery Backup Power. The PWS-1K03B-1R is a module contained in the same form factor as a Supermicro redundant AC power supply (76W x 360D x 40.4H mm).
"This module is hot-swappable and fits Supermicro's 1U/2U/3U/4U chassis providing high output power in 1200W/1min and 1000W/2.5 min options'" explains Supermicro's Doug Herz. "These can be implemented in 2 AC modules + 1 BBP Module, 1 AC + 2 BBP @ 2000W or 2 AC + 2 BBP @ 2000W configurations."
For Supermicro's 1U servers, the PWS-206B-1R (54.5W x 220D x 40H mm) provides BBP™ protection in 200W/5min and 100W/15min options.
LSI RAID/HBA: 12 Gb is just around the corner - probably sometime this summer and it carries some exciting storage options, including LSI's DataBolt technology. DataBolt will allow you to aggregate bandwidth from 6Gb/s and 3Gb/s end devices to a 12Gb/s data stream. That means saturating the PCIE 3.0 bus and backward compatibility with drives, both platter and SSDs.
In the meantime though, we are still impressed with the latest RAID offerings from LSI. It took a little longer than expected to get samples and by then, we had to wait a bit longer while we built up the new E-5 rendering machines but at the end, it was worth it.
One of the machines has the LSI SAS 9207-8e host bus adapter. It was perfect for hooking up an external 8 drive SAS box we use to keep video footage for current projects. One of us will start the project by loading everything up on a drive, dividing camera shots into different folders and collecting assets into even more folders. We rough cut the film into a story, then pull the drive and pass it off to animation.
The HBA makes it simple and it gives us a tremendous speed advantage over the USB product we used before we saw the light of day.
The machine we use for animation has its own LSI SAS 9207-8e host bus adapter with its own external 8 drive SAS box so sliding in the drive is simple, fast and effective. We also use an LSI MegaRAID SAS 9286CV-8e on the animation machine. We use four drives in an external box in a RAID 0 using 4 WD drives. (We'll switch over to Intel 3700 SSDs when our samples show up). It was easy to set up and it's fast. AfterAffects and Premiere rendering times are much quicker now so we can spend much more time on getting the project to the next level.
I'm glad we didn't wait. For more on LSI MegaRAID, click here.