CeBIT 2007 Coverage: Part 1

CeBIT exhibition has kicked off in Hannover, Germany as usual and while a number of companies decided not to make their public appearance on the show floor we still have something to tell you about. Today we are going to show you Nvidia’s first DirectX 10 graphics cards for the mainstream market, samples of DDR3 memory with some thoughts about it, pictures of Art Lebedev’s Maximus, as well as take a close look at Sapphire’s dual-GPU graphics board.

by Anton Shilov
03/18/2007 | 07:00 AM

CeBIT 2007 is not the CeBIT that everybody is used to. Several months before the event its organizer Deutsche Messe said that it would lose ?5 million on the show which was several months away. There are rumours on the showfloor that CeBIT is going to become a business to business show next year and even this year Deutsche Messe advertises CeBIT in the centre of the city as the best venue for making business.

 

The reason for such situation is plain and simple: a lot of companies are unwilling to have booths at the show because the vast majority of end-users coming are teenagers with beer, cigarettes and the wish to get something for free. Last year Sony decided not to participate in CeBIT, this year Nvidia decided not to have a booth at all, while Intel moved its booth from an posh Hall 1 to Hall 21 located a hundred meters away from the main entrance to the show.

Exhibitors themselves also do not release exactly new products at the show, as they wish to announce strategically. For instance, Nvidia already has the code-named G84 and G86 GPUs at hands and, it seems, in production. But it does not allow its partners to display the boards (even though we’ve managed to get a picture of them) based on the new graphics processing units, as end-users would stop to buy GeForce 7-series. Advanced Micro Devices graphics product group ATI also has the R600, as some sources claim, ready, but the R600 seems to be nowhere to be found at the show, just like its 65nm derivatives, which are supposed to hit the market in several weeks.

So Near and So Far: DDR3 Memory Modules on Display

A number of memory module manufacturers, including Corsair, Patriot and Super Talent, are showing off their DDR3 memory modules which are expected to hit the market sometime later this year. While OCZ does not demo DDR3 memory modules, it says that it can release them commercially in late April with 800MHz and 1066MHz clock-speeds. The alarming fact is that mainboard manufacturers do not show off DDR3-based mainboards up and running.

There is no official information concerning the launch date of Intel Bearlake chipsets and motherboards. However, the launch of Intel’s new flagship chipset is supposed to be aligned with the release of the company’s new Core 2-series processors for 1333MHz processor system bus (PSB), which are expected to be released in the Q3 2007.

Usually, companies need to unveil fully-functional products in early June in order to be able to win contracts for the back-to-school season. However, to be able to officially release something at Computex, you need to be in position to show it several months before, at CeBIT. Back in 2004 there were loads of systems with DDR2 and PCI Express inside at the Hannover exhibition. The issue with DDR3 and Bearlake chipsets is that there are basically no systems running DDR3 memory at the show, which means that commercial launch may either be scheduled at late Q3, or is not supposed to be really massive.

Still, OCZ believes that the DDR3 ramp up will take less time compared to DDR2, as the fundamental infrastructure for the new type of memory is available already (e.g., since layouts for DDR2 and DDR3 are similar, mainboard makers do not need to spend additional time and funds designing new PCBs).

Obviously, computer enthusiasts and overclockers will love the speeds and performance of DDR3 running at 1333MHz, 1800MHz, 2000MHz late this year, but the vast majority of consumers will compare DDR3 against DDR2 in terms of price, but the price is not something that is going to be low, just like latency settings…

The Jaws: OCZ Demos a Way to Control a PC Using Your Brain… or Jaws

OCZ Technology, a company that ships memory modules and power supplies, has been targeting gamers and computer enthusiasts for years now. But only this year the company decided to release a product clearly aimed at gamers.

At CeBIT 2007 OCZ demonstrates a device that can control processes in a videogame based on the movements of face muscles. To shoot, you need to move your jaws, to strafe, you need to close an eye. It seems that the technology is exciting, but only for occasional gamers since it’s not a good idea sitting near a PC closing your eyes and making moves like you were chewing a bubble gum…

Still, the device is pretty easy to set up and it works pretty well. It is projected to be launched in Q4 for the sub-$300 price.

10:1: MSI Shows Off Nvidia’s Mainstream DirectX 10 Graphics Offerings

The company which was the first to publicly say that it demonstrates the GeForce 6800 behind the closed doors at CeBIT 2004 is here again: MSI demonstrates graphics cards based on the G84 and G86 graphics processors from Nvidia Corp. at the exhibition.

No questions asked, no benchmarks ran, but the boards are here and they are demonstrated to show off MSI’s ability to ship Nvidia GeForce 8-based mainstream DirectX 10 graphics processors.

Nvidia allows its partners to manufacture mainstream-class graphics boards and does not provide them already made boards for reselling, like it does with the high-end of its product portfolio. Given that an add-in card partner is capable of displaying the products already made by it, it means that Nvidia by now has the chips in production and it is capable to unveil them in mid-April or early May to ramp up the revenue share of DX 10 parts up, just like its management promised several weeks ago.

Quantity Matters: Sapphire Demos Dual-GPU Graphics Card

Sapphire Technology continues to show off its dual-GPU Radeon X1950 Pro graphics card at CeBIT show. The exception between today’s demonstration and the demo at Consumer Electronics show back in January is that this time the company is close enough to ship the finished product.

Officials for the company say that Sapphire will the dual-GPU board sometime in April, 2007 at a price-point that is close to two Radeon X1950 Pro graphics boards. Unfortunately for Sapphire and, hopefully, fortunately for ATI/AMD, the next-generation code-named ATI R600 graphics processing unit is going to be released commercially either in April or May. The R600 will inevitably steal attention from Sapphire’s dual-GPU graphics board as it supports DirectX 10 and is supposed to have performance higher than today’s high-end offerings.

Sapphire spokespersons claim that since the R600 will be priced at significantly higher price-points compared to the dual-GPU Radeon X1950 Pro, the latter will still be in demand, as its performance is supposed to be higher compared to the Radeon X1950 XTX. However, there are already GeForce 8800 GTX and GTS models that are sold at decent price points and the vast majority of end-users would prefer to have a single-chip offering rather than a dual one.

Render Worth a Thousand of Words: Art Lebedev Shows Off Pictures of Maximus

Artemiy Lebedev’s studio is continuing to ramp up the interest towards its computer peripherals using a small booth inside a hall that is crowded with such items as coolers, keyboards, computer cases, speakers and other kind of peripherals.

The booth of Art Lebedev is easy to pass by: it is designed in pretty humble styles of the leading design studio in Russia. Despite expectations, the Art Lebedev studio and its chief Artemy Lebedev show off… the final renders of the keyboard that is expected to be available in the later part of 2007.

“You said that you were showing off the Optimus keyboard here…” I asked him.

“We are showing the pictures,” he calmly responded.

The Maximus is the name that the design studio uses to refer to the product known as the Optimus 103. Perhaps, the keyboard that was among the top vaporware products in 2006 according to Wired magazine will be released in late 2007, but right now Art Lebedev has nothing to show apart from its mini-three keypad and a strangely designed mouse.