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It’s tough work to make up for lost ground , especially so in the blistering fast semiconductor business . Remember the pre-core 2 duo days when AMD was the king , since then they have lost the lead on desktop processors in the most dramatic fashion . Huge losses in the last two quarters has put the chip major into quite a slump . The recent ATI acquisition is yet to bear fruit, and the recently launched R600 graphics platform has been more or less a disappointment, industry experts are now expecting AMD to go fabless .
The positive side of the story is the upcoming launch of their new architecture ‘Barcelona’ about which I had written a while ago, and a series of dual and quad core desktop processors branded ‘Phenom’ . Alongside this there will be the successor to the quad FX enthusiast platform called FASNB which will use a new AMD chipset . FASNB will have a socket for one or two Phenom processors , DDR3 support and will be able to employ the power of a pair of the new R600 based GPU’s in crossfire .
Production AMD Barcelona’s are expected by late August . AMD may not be done yet .

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I have not been writing for a while .. almost a month now . I was down with typhoid and trying to make a presentable homepage for my my site www.ashwinrajiv.com , and The workshop has moved to www.ashwinrajiv.com/blog . Please do visit my site .

My feed has changed to http://feeds.feedburner.com/ashwinrajiv/workshop , Update your Blog Reader with this feed to continue reading my posts though I ll be mirroring my content here for a few months.

A special thank you to my friend Technayak for registering my domain with his lunarpages hosting account.

Intel has already announced that the 45nm Penryn family of CPU’s based on the Core Micro Architecture would be out later this year. keeping in line with  their “tick-tock” model of silicon and micro architecture, the company has also revealed some initial details about their brand new micro architecture codenamed ‘Nehalem’ which is expected to be out sometime in 2008 .

According to the Intel Website ” Nehalem is a truly dynamic- and design-scalable microarchitecture. It will deliver both performance on demand and optimal price/performance/energy efficiency for each platform.” The features include dynamically managed cores ,power , memory and interfaces, the new SSE4 and ATA instruction set architecture additions. the new System Architecture also includes a high performance integrated graphics engine for client platforms. The new chips will be manufactured on Intel’s new 32nm silicon process technology which will also make its initial appearance by mid 2008

From the day i have had a PC , i also have data which i just cannot dispose off , a very large collection of MP3’s and a humongous collection of movies and videos , which i have painstakingly organised and then burned on to CD’s and DVD,s . No matter how much disk space you have you always manage to fill it up , installation of a new game always results in some reorganisation , moving files around and deleting a few files to free up some space.

40 or 60 GB especially SCSI drives are now obsolete , no one buys them and they are available for throw away rates at sites like e-Bay etc , so the cheapest viable option for mass storage could be maybe an array  14 of such disks in a RAID configuration, this is an interesting project by Inventgeek which I happened to  stumble upon , for those of you who want to ramp up your storage for a low cost,  it makes an immensely interesting project , Yes I know RAID is slow and RAID is old , but it does’nt really matter with all those video and audio files which are are rarely used but we just cant part with them plus it has the WOW factor

Multicore – it is the most significant word in the CPU market today , Ever since Intel launched their Core2 Duo range of microprocessors , AMD’s competetive advantage has gone up in smoke , Intel’s processors seem better , cooler and deliver more bang for the buck , That probably explains the aggresive pricing by AMD to try and boost sales , Moreover Intel has already announced that quad core CPU’s will soon be joining the linup , for the uninitiated that means four cores on a single chip , Intel also has a large manufacturing advantage with thier 65nm fabrication process while until recently all AMD cpu’s were made on the 90nm fab process , this rules out a new quad core CPU from AMD anywhere until mid of 2007 becuase at 90nm a quad core chip will be just too big and would need an industrial strength cooling solution, it should be possible around mid 2007 when AMD announces thier new Microarchitecture

Till that day we have the AMD quad FX platform- two dual core AMD FX processors running on the same board , apparently AMD has also promised compatiability when the new quad core processors come out , which translates to 8 cores on a single board , jus thinking about is enough to give the most casual of enthusiasts goosebumps , the only board available at launch was the NVIDIA 680a which is quite surprising considering AMD’s recent aqqusition of ATI . check out this review of the quad FX platform and you ‘ll know what i am talking about

One more thing Quad FX has to offer is absolute eye candy .. just take a look at this rig (Yes those are two processor slots)

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A lot has been said about Vista and DirectX 10 over the last few months , and Microsoft has claimed that DX 10 is the future of computer graphics , in many ways this is quite true considering that DX 10 has been written anew right from scratch and addresses a lot of the problems that developers face while developing applications which use the DX9 API. The most substantial of these is lessening the object overhead,
what this means is that the API is using the CPU to achieve specific tasks before using the GPU for rendering ,this translates into the application calling the DX API which in turn calls the GPU drivers, thus every 3D application has a CPU overhead.. this is one of the main reasons for wanting a good processor when building a gaming rig.

Another remarkable improvement is the way vertex and pixel processing is handled by the GPU , the topic itself needs a lot of explanation and those interested can look at

http://www.nvidia.com/page/8800_tech_briefs.html

DX 10 includes a completely new shader model and two new HDR formats as well and has many features which lack in the DX9 API

The bottom line is that with DX10 computer graphics is going to change , it will be faster ,richer and more immersive and since DX10 will only be available with VISTA , like it or not- those interested in experiencing true next gen will have to go buy the OS .