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Current state of PC hardware:

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AMD owns ATI.

AMD cpu’s give more cores and hertz and more value as well as more upgrade-ability but perform less per hertz than Intel’s and run hotter. But on processes with a lot of integer core usage, AMD wins out.

Intel’s quads compete with AMD’s six cores. Their duals compete with AMD triple cores. Further, their memory allocation is better and thus anything with high extension usage (photoshop, rendering, etc) or anything that uses a large amount of data (ripping, converting) is better with Intel

AMD/ATI released the DX11 series graphics far before Nvidia. Their cards are cooler and slightly more expensive. They are releasing a new series starting in October that should retake the performance crown.

Nvidia is behind with DX11, but fermi (400 series), while much hotter, outperforms ATI at the same price points. The reason they are behind is GPGPU. GPGPU is using the gpu as a general processing core. You can compile C and Fortran code to run on a Fermi chip now. For the consumer this hasn’t made much difference, but it probably will in the future.

Future: Intel will go from Nehalem to Sandy Bridge. The core technology isn’t changing that much nor is the naming scheme. But it should run even cooler. However, they are updating their sockets again and you will have to buy a new mobo to use a new CPU. Also they continue to upgrade their atom line but an out of order processor doesn’t seem likely next year.\

AMD is going to release bulldozer which is a complete from scratch core design. Its unique in a lot of ways and there is still a lot of speculation out on how it will perform. It should push desktop processors to 8 ‘cores’ but core has a little different definition. They are also releasing Bobcat which should compete with atom but offer much more performance for a slight increase in wattage. Also they are releasing fusion which is a CPU and GPU on one chip. They call it an APU and it is partially an answer to Nvidia’s GPGPU.

Nvidia is still not well known. Its said they are expanding into ARM Cpu’s for tablets, but its unlikely to see them in netbooks.

Hard-drive:

Standard disks are at a little bit of a holding point right now, not because of technology, but BIOS is most people’s computer will not let them recognize 3TB drives. But toshiba has made some breakthroughs and there is a new coalition between the others to push the technology to 10TB drives. But until BIOS gets updated, advancement has stopped.

The big new thing is solid state drives. Instead of a spinning disk, SSD’s use flash. Per GB they are much more expensive, but also much quicker and use much less energy and should last longer/ be more reliable. Many are using SSD’s as boot drives and standard disk as data storage.

Memory: Pretty much everyone is on DDR3 right now with atom still lagging a little bit. DDR3 speed are still increasing and DDR3 should be around until about 2013.

Optical Drives: Pretty much on their way out. While people keep DVD’s around, its increasingly for legacy support. Blu-ray for data has not picked up as flash drives and external hard-drives are very common.

Screens: CRT is dead. LCD is very common. What makers call LED screens (which are lcd screens which use led to backlight them) are starting to become more common on the desktop, pretty common on the laptop. LED/LCD is thinner, lighter, more reliable and uses less energy. OLED (which actually uses led’s to make the picture) are started to be available, but are very expensive right now. Screen resolution is slowly advancing, but at a slower pace than many would like.

Input devices: nothing new.

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