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Intel's Ivy Bridge: Core i7 3770K
Written by Michael Schuette   
Apr 23, 2012 at 01:23 AM

When Intel first introduced the tick-tock slogan, I couldn’t help thinking it sounded a bit like something from a Stephen King book – or maybe it was The Shining... and, whatever it was, it didn’t sound too appealing. But that was only the name, whereas the concept rang true from the very beginning. In short, the best way to bring new generations of CPU out into the market is to leverage existing and proven process nodes for new designs and, once all the bugs have been fixed and errata have been documented, move on to the next process node with only minor modifications and additional features that are “playing it safe”. Now of course, the obvious question is what came first? The chicken or the egg but and depending on whether you talk to Mark Bohr’s group who is in charge of the process nodes or some of the CPU designers, the answer will be different. Most of us will probably agree that the new design comes first and therefore that one should be the Tick whereas the new process would be the tock. And that’s where we are wrong because everybody can design a CPU but how many of us can successfully give birth to a new process node? But I digress…

Last Updated ( Apr 23, 2012 at 02:48 AM )
AMD "Llano" A8-3870K
Written by Michael Schuette   
Jan 13, 2012 at 06:00 PM

Times are tough in Austin, which might be the understatement of the year. With Bulldozer turning out to be more interesting than performing and Krishna/Wichita being cancelled because of yield and other issues, there is not much left to build on. Not even staff after the latest layoffs. Arguably, the hottest item AMD currently has to throw into the the x86 mix is the Llano design, which, any way you look at it, is a sweet performer at low cost for any application including casual gaming or OpenGL rendering. With quite a few of the new designs being cancelled, it is not surprising that AMD is targeting refreshes to keep the fire alive – or maybe just the embers glowing. One of those refreshes is the new flagship A8 processor dubbed A8-3870K for Socket FM1 boards. The "K-factor" stands for unlocked, a somewhat flattering homage to Intel’s SandyBridge processors but who cares, sometimes you just have to go with the flow instead of trying to head where no man has gone before. Maybe it is just a matter of a lot of the marketing folks at AMD being of the “more beautiful” gender, who knows? And who would care anyway?

Last Updated ( Apr 23, 2012 at 02:49 AM )
Intel Sandy Bridge Extreme Core i7 3960X-EE
Written by Michael Schuette   
Nov 24, 2011 at 08:02 AM

It used to be “War is the father of all things” and even if this is not a point of view that I personally subscribe to, the same motto still applies in a modified version, specifically: “competition fosters progress”. Of course, this begs the question what the father of all things is or even how to define progress. Merriam-Webster defines progress as:

  • a (1) : a royal journey marked by pomp and pageant
  •    (2) : a state procession
  • b : a tour or circuit made by an official (as a judge)
  • c (1): an expedition, journey, or march through a region
  •    (2) : a forward or onward movement (as to an objective or to a goal) : ADVANCE
  •    (3): gradual betterment; especially : the progressive development of humankind

    Quite honestly, I didn’t know what terms M-W would return but there are a number of choices that well describe what we are going to cover today and we’ll leave it to our readers to pick the most appropriate one.

    Regardless of what definition of progress is used to describe SandyBridge Extreme, it seems fair to say that if it hadn’t been for AMD’s Bulldozer as the latest secret weapon against the Intelfidels, the latest iteration of Intel’s desktop flagship would probably not have seen the light of the day. Sandy Bridge Extreme is finally an Extreme Edition that fully deserves the EE moniker in every respect, starting with the number of lands, the transistor count, the number of memory channels, the power density and, before we forget it, the performance. To make a short story even shorter, SNBe performance dwarfs everything we have ever seen. Attributes to the speed of this CPU range from abominable to ridiculous and scary but the same applies to the cooling requirements and power consumption. Or maybe not. Time to separate the facts from myth!

  • Last Updated ( Jan 13, 2012 at 11:38 AM )
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