This week in PC hardware is all about AMD, crazy displays, massive hard drives and more. Here are some of the breaking hardware news from this week.
AMD processors have for a long time been over shadowed by Intel counterparts when it comes to sheer performance, so the company played it smart and offered products with industry best price-performance ratios instead. But according to recent reports of the company’s upcoming processors, codename ‘Zen’, AMD may not be playing second fiddle to Intel anymore.
AMD recently revealed some basic details about the new Zen architecture, unveiling that it will be capable of handling about 40% more instructions per clock compared to the existing Excavator cores. These new cores will be completely redesigned for high-performance computing, will come with a high core count and be multithreaded (finally!), will be highly power efficient, support DDR4 memory and come packaged in a new AM4 socket.
Last week, we talked about rumors of AMD’s upcoming Fiji XT being branded as the Fury X, and today, that bit of news gets unofficially official. Images of AMD flyers confirm the new branding as well as reveal new images of the graphics card itself.
In related news, a GFXBench validation of the AMD Fury revealed its core count, which is evidently 4096. To put that in perspective, AMD’s current flagship single-GPU card has a core count of 2816. Even though the Fury X was benchmarked using unfinished drivers, the card outperformed NVIDIA’s flagship, the Titan X, so it’s fair to say that performance will be even better with finished drivers.
On the slightly lower end of the scale, the first image of the reference design AMD Radeon R9 370 has been leaked ahead of time, courtesy of Alienware. Dell will offer the new card as well as the mobile version of the R9 390X in its refreshed desktop and notebook computers. The new graphics cards should be available later this month.
Speaking of the R9 390X, exclusive NVIDIA-turned-AMD board partner XFX has revealed its custom cooled R9 390X that is expected to launch later this month. We should be seeing more board partners reveal their own designs closer to launch.
Alright, enough AMD for now. Markets would stall without without competition, and it seems that the war between AMD and NVIDIA has taken a turn, the green team is now playing catchup as it successfully tapes out its next-generation ‘Pascal’ GP100 graphics architecture. Pascal will be a successor to the current Maxwell architecture due to arrive sometime in 2016. It will incorporate High Bandwidth Memory built into the GPU package, which is exactly what AMD has done in the Fury X due this month. According to 3DCenter.org, Pascal should make way for GPUs with up to 6000 CUDA cores and will be based on TSMCs upcoming 16nm fabrication process. We can’t wait to see how this new GPU performs in real world tests.
OK, that was enough of a break from AMD, let’s get back to them now. AMD recently introduced its FreeSync display technology to combat NVIDIA’s G-Sync. The technology basically syncs up a displays refresh rate with a GPU’s graphics output, therefore eliminating any sort of tearing, banding, or frame rate stuttering resulting in consistently smooth viewing experience. It does require special hardware to be built into the display itself though, and LG recently built FreeSync into a new 27” 4K display. This would satisfy all visual junkies; ultra-high resolution, ultra-smooth graphics, ultra-everything!
If you thought that was too much, Samsung unveiled its first “mirror and transparent OLED display panels”. Yahoo called it a display “straight out of the future”, and that seems pretty accurate. The display can be a regular TV, a full on mirror, or a transparent window. Yes, we’re talking about the exact same display that can be used in all these different modes, it’s pretty insane.
Applications include clothing retailers, where the display can be combined with Intel RealSense technology to let customers virtually try on clothes when the display is in mirror mode. The display isn’t ready for primetime just yet, so it will be a while till it hits the market.
In Other News
Western Digital subsidiary HGST unveiled the world’s first 10TB helium-filled hard disk drive. Ten terabytes. Ten! This is an enterprise-class drive designed for archive applications in servers and other storage systems. This capacity of storage of course comes with downsides. Losing 10TB of data at once, for instance, due to drive corruption can be very bad. So unless you’re an enterprise, that can afford to buy several of these drives, and mirror them for redundancy, then it doesn’t seem financially viable for consumers at this point in time.
In PSU news, Corsair unveils its first SFX power supply, a tiny form factor designed for slim and small form factor computers. However, you shouldn’t mistake their small size for their output. Corsairs new fully-modular SFX PSU is 600W, which is enough to power a PC with NVIDIA’s flagship Titan X GPU. Silverstone is also working on a 700W SFX power supply as well, so the capacity is only going up, which is great for gamers that like smaller, console-sized PCs that can be carried around easily.
That’s it for this week in hardware, let us know what you think of the hardware mentioned here, what you’re looking forward to, what hardware you’re planning on buying etc. Also, This Week in Hardware is a little experiment of ours, and we’d like your feedback. How do you think we can improve it, what should we do different, or do you simply not care for it? We want to know, so let us know! In the meantime, have a great weekend!