X-bit labs CeBIT 2006 Coverage: Day 1

The CeBIT 2006 show has just taken off on Hannover, Germany. The first day of the show brings us new GeForce 7600- and 7900-series graphics cards, eye-catching new memory modules from Corsair, striking products and models from Sapphire and the world’s first dual-core AMD Turion 64-based notebook! Join us to take a look around the show!

by Anton Shilov
03/10/2006 | 02:50 PM

CeBIT is the biggest information technology (IT) show on the planet that is being held in  Hannover, Germany. This year the show turns 20 years old, a milestone that marks an important idea behind this exhibition: CeBIT is for those, who want to use the technology, not only for those who would like to see it up and running, CeBIT is a fair for buyers and decision makers, not for simple admirers (even though there are a lot of them here), which is why CeBIT is still alive, unlike some others.

People all around the world come to meet business partners at CeBIT: according to BITKOM (the Berlin-based German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media), CeBIT 2005 met the high expectations of its exhibitors in every regard. Companies welcomed the show’s heightened international drawing power and were full of praise for the further increase in valuable business contacts. No matter whether you want to buy Sapphire’s Radeon X1900 XTX with ultimate performance in games for your retail outlet clients or Diebold’s latest cash machine with fingerprint recognition, you know the place where to come for negotiations!

“Nowhere else is it so easy to make international contacts and bring government representatives, investors and suppliers together at one table,” was the official BITKOM verdict at the end of the show in 2005.

Join X-bit labs for the tour at the show, as we bring you the hottest news and coverage right from the show floor!

Corsair Intros 1066MHz 1GB Modules

Corsair Memory is among the largest producers of memory modules for enthusiasts: it buys chips from companies like Samsung, Infineon, Micron and Elpida and has been on the market for over a decade.

This time Corsair shows off its latest achievement: 1GB DDR2 memory modules operating at 1066MHz (with CAS 5 latency settings) and expected to reach retail within weeks from now. While 1GHz speed-bin is not something new for the market, the new products from Corsair are still unique: all previous 1000MHz memory modules had 512MB capacities, whereas the new models are 1GB versions.

  

With the introduction of the latest games, such as F.E.A.R., 1GB of system memory is definitely not enough. It is evident that enthusiast-class PCs should have 2GB of memory, but the problem for memory makers is to provide those 2GB of RAM at the maximum speed.

The new Corsair XMS2-8500 solves both problems: it runs at 1066MHz and it has 1GB capacity for 2GB of system memory running at blazing speeds.

Corsair uses 800MHz memory chips that are overclockable to 1066MHz. According to the company, right now pretty a lot of chips with the 800MHz speed-bin are capable of working at much higher speeds, which is a good sign: high yield of chips at 800MHz means that shortly such products will get more affordable. As soon as JEDEC finalizes the final spec for DDR2 800MHz, we can expect official support for such memory modules from companies like AMD and Intel in their processors or chipsets.

Sapphire Likes HDMI Hot: Ignite Your Imagination

Sapphire Technology is the premium partner of graphics chip designer ATI Technologies, as it is affiliated with PC Partner, a large maker of graphics cards and mainboards for ATI and its allies. Sapphire is probably the largest producer of ATI Radeon-powered graphics cards on the planet, it has products designed for enthusiasts and performance-demanding users as well as for those who would like to have affordable solutions.

This year Sapphire has hired two models to attract attention to the booth, something in which they are quite successful:

… and also to ignite your imagination:

As usually, Sapphire demonstrates loads of its ATI-based products, including the new mainboard powered by the CrossFire Xpress 3200 chipset developed for the multi-GPU CrossFire technology operation.

  

The mainboard features advanced central processing unit (CPU) power supply circuitry and, as all Pure-series products, promises to allow maximum overclocking potential, something that those who buy systems to run a couple of the Radeon X1900 XT-series graphics cards may demand. The obvious drawback of the mainboard is that the only PCI slot is adjacent the main PCI Express x16 interface, which prevents installing a PCI add-in card when a graphics card with dual-slot cooling solution is used. This may negatively affect enthusiasts who would like to have the best of the best: the fastest tandem of graphics cards and the most advanced audio card, such as Creative Labs’ X-Fi.

Sapphire will market two versions of the CrossFire Xpress 3200 mainboards: one for about $200 with improved microprocessor power supply circuitry and FireWire as well as a “basic” mainboard for about $129 with typical CPU power supply circuitry and without IEEE1394 controller. Both are capable of running a pair of graphics cards in the CrossFire mode, hence, those who want to get a cost-effective CrossFire system will be able to do it, just like those who plan a high-performance solution with high overclocking potential.

Sapphire also displays its first graphics cards supporting HDMI interface based on the Radeon X1600 Pro graphics processing units (GPUs). The company says it has two incarnations of the boards: one is designed for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and another is made for retail market.

The one that is intended for OEMs has 64-bit memory access and external audio connector, whereas for the retail market Sapphire preps a product with 128-bit memory bus and without additional audio connector. The combination is not surprising, as it is usually OEMs who want to have cut-down performance, but maximum connectors and lowest price, whereas the retail market usually demands higher speed graphics cards.


Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro with HDMI connector for the retail market


Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro with HDMI connector for OEMs

Sapphire said that the graphics cards are HDCP-compatible, which means that those who intend to built a home theater personal computer (HTPC) that would play movies on Blu-ray and HD DVD discs may acquire such graphics cards in advance of the appropriate optical drives.

Nvidia Unveils New GeForce 7900- and 7600- Series Products

Nvidia Corp. used the world’s largest trade-show to unveil the refreshes to its already successful high-end and performance-mainstream product line. The new GeForce 7900-series is developed to substitute the well-known GeForce 7800-series graphics cards, whereas the GeForce 7600 family will eventually replace the GeForce 6600 breed of graphics cards.

The GeForce 7900 is a redesign of the GeForce 7800 graphics processing unit (GPU) that is manufactured using TSMC’s 90nm process technology with no significant architectural changes. The new GPUs have 24 pixel processors with 24 texture units, 16 render back ends (ROPs) and 8 vertex shader processors, just like the predecessors. However, unlike the 7800-series, the new chips have built-in dual dual-link DVI interfaces, which allows users to drive large liquid crystal displays (LCDs) without using specially designed graphics cards.

The new process technology as well as a redesign of the pixel processors allowed Nvidia to increase clock-speeds of the GeForce 7900-series substantially compared to the GeForce 7800 breed: the GeForce 7900 GT is clocked at 450MHz (comes equipped with 256MB of GDDR3 memory clocked at 1320MHz), whereas the 7900 GTX version operates at 650MHz (and has 512MB of 1600MHz memory onboard). The new chips code-named G71 utilize 279 million transistors, less than in the G70, something which decreases manufacturing costs and allows Nvidia to have very flexible pricing on the 7900-series.

Some makers of graphics cards have already announced pre-overclocked boards featuring the GeForce 7900 GTX. The cards should be available shortly from now.


EVGA’s pre-overlocked GeForce 7900 GTX

The GeForce 7600 GT product is brand-new design code-named G73 and expected to compete against ATI’s offerings in $200-range. The G73 is also made using 90nm process technology and has 178-million transistors, just insignificantly more compared to the GeForce 6600.

Nvidia hopes that the GeForce 7600 GT will become astonishingly successful: the new part has 12 pixel processors 5 vertex shader units and is clocked at 560MHz. Nvidia recommends its graphics cards partners to equip the 7600 GT models with 256MB of 1400MHz GDDR3 memory with 128-bit access. Given that Nvidia new product has 12 texture units compared to 4 in the Radeon X1600-series, the new part promises to substantially outpace the latter in today’s games and even without sacrificing performance in future titles, as both parts feature the equal number of pixel shader processors.

Nvidia Corp. has been pretty successful in the last couple of years with its products for enthusiasts. The new GPUs will probably maintain the success and will allow Nvidia to manufacture its chips at lower costs, which should improve profit margins for the company provided that the yield levels of the new chips are similar compared to the previous generation products.

Radeon X1800 for $249? That’s Realilty!

After lowering the prices on the Radeon X1900, X1800 and X1600-series graphics cards a week ago, ATI still had a significant gap in its Shader Model 3.0-supporting product line: the $200 - $300 segment did not have a single product. In an attempt to improve the situation ATI introduced the Radeon X1800 GTO that should retail for $249.

ATI Radeon X1800 GTO has 12 pixel shader processors and 8 vertex processors, a bit less compared to the Radeon X1800 XL that sports 16 and 8 pixel and vertex shader units respectively.

The new Radeon X1800 GTO has pretty unique product positioning: formally, Nvidia has only the GeForce 6800 GS, which the new model X1800 GTO promises to outperform, for $249, whereas the new GeForce 7600 GT will have maximum price of $229. As a result, ATI’s partners will have something in the range that is not flooded with products these days.

Nvidia will probably react somehow to the Radeon X1800 GTO, possibly, by decreasing the price of the GeForce 7800 GT or even by launching a totally new product, however, if ATI and its partners are quick enough and can produce large volumes of the Radeon X1800 GTO, they are likely to sell quite a lot of such cards in the coming weeks.

MSI Shows Off Dual-Core AMD Turion 64

For the first time ever Advanced Micro Devices has its own booth at CeBIT. Previously the company only rented special meeting rooms, but this year the firm decided to build its own booth in Hall 2, the one that people who enter using the main entrance see first. This emphasizes the tremendous success that the new processors from AMD have. The chips outperform competing products from Intel nearly across the board and people know that! The increments in market share and profit margins allow AMD to launch more aggressive marketing campaigns, a booth at CeBIT is a part of that.

But even despite of notable success, AMD is not publicly discussing products that are yet to come. However, it does not mean that the company does not have them: it has and it has them nearly ready to be shipped. Within several weeks from now AMD will release its dual-core mobile processor and at CeBIT we can find some notebooks equipped with the chip that no one wants to talk about.

MicroStar International is showcasing its new Mega Book S271 notebook with dual-core AMD Turion 64 processor. The company does not say it directly, but demos the product under “AMD new mobile technology” moniker.

 

The chip, in fact, has two cores and operates at 1.60GHz, according to Microsoft Windows’ control panel. The new processor does not consume a lot of energy and operates at 1.1V voltage, which allows it to be integrated into 12.1” notebook. The S271 machine also sports 802.11b/g Wi-Fi module, Bluetooth connectivity and Gigabit Ethernet. The laptop is based on the Radeon Xpress 200p chipset from ATI Technologies, which is pretty common for AMD-based notebooks.

 

Stay tuned with X-bit labs, because we have more interesting news and product views to share!