Computex Items

So far, there’s three items of note:

1) Duallies Show Up. I think we’ve said enough about that the last two days. 🙂

2) ATI Introduces Its Version of SLI It’s called Crossfire. That’s an interesting choice of word. It implies war, but this is an area where even the most vicious virtual killer would rather have peace.

nVidia and ATI may love the idea of making you buy one of “their” mobos (with chipsets from either themselves or their friends), but what about the customer? You know they’re going to want hermaphrodite motherboards that can handle either. Is it technically doable? If it is, would ATI/nVidia allow such a beast to be born?

The real question, though, is whether any of them are worth the money. So far, the answer seems to be no.

3) More PCIe Lanes Coming nVidia is supposed to be working on something called “SLI2.” The main purpose behind this is to do provide more broadband for SLI designs than is currently possible.

Current PCI-E designs have only 20 or a few more PCI-E lanes. When you consider that a PCI-E 16X video slot chews up 16 of those 20 or so lanes, you can see that you can’t have “full” SLI without more lanes.

However, SLI is not the only reason why you want more lanes. Unlike its ancestor PCI, PCI-E offers the potential to “dial your own bandwidth” at speeds much, much faster than any other peripheral device. This makes new types of devices feasible.

Yes, that will require different (even better, flexible) slots, but you have to have the lanes for any new slots to work.

For instance, these physics engines we’ll be seeing in a while ought to eventually need a lot of bandwidth exceeding that of a 1X PCI-E lane.

Perhaps more importantly in the long run, solid state drives are greatly handicapped by lack of bandwidth. You lose much of the advantage of memory drives when you have for a hard drive bus to deliver, especially if it has to deliver a lot. A multiple-lane PCI-E channel would minimize the problem.

4) The Mini Mac, PC Style AOpen has introduced the first real desktop motherboard for Dothan.

It works off an Intel 915/ICH6 board, which means goodies like dual-channel RAM and other modern conveniences. Not sure how much good they’ll do the Dothan, but for those who like quiet, it’s something to keep an eye on.

Perhaps of more interest is AOpen’s “Mini Mac” box, the XC Cube MZ855. This is where AOpen would like you to put their new Dothan motherboard. Here’s some more pictures of it

Before Little Stevie starts suing, it’s really isn’t a Mini Mac clone (unless Apple has patented rectangular boxes). For one thing, it’s a lot bigger than the Mini Mac (roughly 12 inches long, 8 inches wide, and 4 inches high, compared to the Mini Mac’s, 6.5 X 6.5 X 2.)). For another, it should be a good deal more powerful.

What makes the AOpen box significant is that most future mainstream home theatre boxes will probably look much like this one, if not in exact looks, in general dimensions and capacities. Bigger, but more capable and standard-following than the MiniMac.

Pretty much the same difference as you find between PCs and Macs in general.


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