CeBIT 2007 Coverage: Part 5

In this episode of our CeBIT 2007 coverage we examine chipsets and mainboards for future Intel’s 45nm microprocessors, reveal Asustek’s wireless HDMI technology, take a look at a galore of HD DVD-equipped devices, check out a new speaker system from Razer and have a look at Intel’s next-generation server platform for processors with 1600MHz bus.

by Anton Shilov
03/23/2007 | 04:49 PM

High Definition Unwired: Wireless HDMI Components Revealed

Introduced four years ago, high definition multimedia interface (HDMI) is currently available on the vast majority of advanced audio/video consumer electronics shipping today and is looming into the market of personal computers (PCs) as well, which proves that developers of the technology could create a very robust and forward-looking interconnection. But one thing they have missed: people nowadays want no wires.

 

Clearly, at some point in future the HDMI consortium will ratify wireless HDMI standard so to get rid of the wires, but currently if a TV is in the living room while an HDMI-equipped PC is in another one, either it is necessary to use really long cables or to relocate the computer closer to the TV to connect the two devices. This year the things are going to change, as Asustek Computer and Philips plan to release their wireless HDMI adapters, which should allow consumers to wirelessly transmit data that would typically go through HDMI cables.

Asustek Computer, originally a maker of computer hardware which has been consistently penetrating the consumer electronics market for about half of a decade now, demonstrated at CeBIT its WL-HDMI5000 product that consists of a transmitter and a receiver capable of transferring and receiving video in 480i, 480p, 720i, 720p, 1080i, 1080p resolutions along with stereo audio. Since Asus does not declare 5.1-/7.1-channel Dolby/DTS audio support, but sticks to stereo only, there seems to be a limitation on the audio side, but since the vast majority of 5.1/7.1 audio systems can convert stereo to multi-channel audio, there should not be a lot of problems with that.


Asus WL-HDMI5000 specifications. Click to enlarge

Asus does not reveal a lot of technical information regarding the WL-HDMI5000, but claims that it has exceptionally low packet error rate (10^-8 or 0.000001%) compared to that of wireless local area network technologies (8% to 10% in certain conditions) and uses frequencies not yet certified by regulation bodies, which means that either the company uses a proprietary wireless technology, or it modified 802.11g/n to work at different frequencies and transfer excessive packets of data to achieve minimal PER possible.


Asus WL-HDMI5000 transmitter. Click to enlarge

In any case, data transfer rate of the wireless HDMI technology should be pretty high, as every second of 1080p video encoded using H.264 codec @ 11Mb/s bit-rate with 2-channel stereo audio takes up about 1.4MBs, meaning that at higher bit-rates about 2.8MBs – 3.6MBs of data need to be transferred every second, which requires 28.8Mb/s transfer rate at least.


Asus WL-HDMI5000 receiver. Click to enlarge

Some may argue that Asustek’s WL-HDMI5000’s transmitter and receiver are pretty large, but that seems to be a technology limitation: receiver and transmitter boards inside consumer electronics are also pretty big.

Currently Asustek is negotiating with regulatory organizations across the world regarding the frequencies used by the device, which is projected to be available later during the year.

The Future is Now: Mainboard Makers Get Ready for Intel’s 45nm Chips, 3-Series Chipsets

It has become a good tradition for Advanced Micro Devices and Intel Corp. to alter infrastructures for high-end and performance-mainstream generation chips every twelve to eighteen months. The shifts of the infrastructures are logical, as the leading makers of central processing units (CPUs) speed up processor system bus (PSB) clock-speeds, improve memory controllers or add new capabilities that require new core-logic sets.

This year Intel plans to unveil new processors made using 45nm process technology as well as new CPUs with 1333MHz PSB with appropriate chipsets, whereas AMD plans to introduce high-speed Hyper-Transport 3.0 bus along with processors in AM2+ form-factor. Since the latter will fit into already existing AM2 mainboards, there was no real need for mainboard makers to demonstrate next-gen motherboards that do not generally differ from the already available ones. Intel, in contrast, plans to unveil a new series of core-logic sets that will support a range of new features, including the following:

The 3-series chipset family will consist of seven members – X38, P35, Q35, Q33, G35, G33 and G31 – and will be the broadest lineup of Intel’s core-logic sets for desktop processors ever announced.

The premium chipset, the X38, will be available only in Q3 and will support both 1333MHz PSB and PC3-10600 memory in addition to a variety of multi-GPU configurations along with performance auto-tuning. Core-logic sets for performance-mainstream and mainstream markets – P35, G35, G33, Q35 and Q33 – will be available in Q2 and mainboard makers are ready to show actual products on their base even now.

Abit


Abit IP35 Pro. Click to enlarge

Asustek Computer


Asus P35 WS. Click to enlarge

Biostar

Biostar TP35D3-A7 Deluxe.
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Biostar TP35D2-A7.
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Biostar G33-D2 775. Click to enlarge

Foxconn

Foxconn Intel G33 + ICH9R.
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Foxconn Intel Q35 + ICH9DO.
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Gigabyte Technology

Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3P. Click to enlarge

Gigabyte GA-P35-DQ6. Click to enlarge

Gigabyte GA-P35T-DS3. Click to enlarge

Gigabyte GA-P35-DS4. Click to enlarge

Microstar Internatonal

MSI P35 Platinum. Click to enlarge

MSI P35 Platinum D3. Click to enlarge

MSI G33 Platinum. Click to enlarge

High Definition on The Go and on The Ride: Toshiba Shows HD DVD Notebooks, Car Video

The format war between the Blu-ray disc (BD) and HD DVD is far from over with the game industry – thanks to PlayStation 3 – on the side of BD and the computer industry – thanks to several computer makers and relatively affordable HD DVD drives from Toshiba – on the side of HD DVD.

At CeBIT 2007 Toshiba demonstrated numerous mobile computers featuring HD DVD drives, an HD DVD player for living rooms from a not really well-known manufacturer as well as a car audio/video HD DVD player from Alpine, a maker of advanced car electronics, along with a special 11” screen that can be used in cars and which is claimed to feature a high-def resolution.


Alpine car HD DVD player. Click to enlarge

The Alpine HD DVD player along with appropriate display are especially remarkable, as currently cars use DVD technology and with HD DVD inside not only for watching movies, but for audio as well, the format will indisputably get an advantage over Blu-ray. Perhaps, Panasonic and Pioneer are also preparing car audio systems with BDs, but so far neither of the firms talked about them publicly.


Venturer SHD7000 HD DVD player. Click to enlarge

The SHD7000 player for living rooms from Venturer company was also a bit of a surprise, as this is the first HD DVD player from a not very popular maker of consumer electronics. Probably, this was supposed to be a signal by Toshiba that HD DVD is following the footprints of DVD and will quickly become adopted by numerous Chinese manufacturers who will then flood the world with HD DVD players for $50 - $100 per unit.

In addition to presenting a game console, a car audio/video system and a potentially low-cost HD DVD player, Toshiba also showcased laptops from nine manufacturers that feature HD DVDs. Some of those systems, nevertheless, may come either with competing Blu-ray, for example Asus demonstrated its W1J with a BD drive in its own booth.

HP Pavilion dv9000t. Click to enlarge

Samsung M55. Click to enlarge

Asustek W1J. Click to enlarge

Toshiba Qosmio G30-177. Click to enlarge

Targa Traveller 1577 x2. Click to enlarge

Rock Xtreme ctx pro. Click to enlarge

Prestigio Avanti 1770W. Click to enlarge

Gateway NX860 XL. Click to enlarge

Acer Ferrari 5000. Click to enlarge

Look at the Sounds: Audio System from Razer

Razer, a gamers-oriented company known for its mice and keyboards, has been expanding its products lineup to better address its target market and attract additional attention to its brand. At the world’s biggest tradeshow in Hannover, Germany, the company, which is under constant attack from such giants as Logitech, demonstrated its Mako, a 2.1 audio system.

The first thing that can be said about Mako is its design. There are a lot of audio devices with fairly weird style, this one, however, has no analogues: there are hardly any more satellites with speakers directed downwards and probably you would never think this was a sound system, unless you were told.

According to Razer, each of Mako’s 50W RMS x2 satellites have their own amplifier and feature THX ground plane and slot speaker technologies. THX company and Razer claim that those techniques were developed in collaboration with the aim to improve overall sound quality and deliver better surround sound on a 2.1 system.


Razer Mako

The aforementioned technologies place the tweeter very close to the surface, facing downward, and use a very thin slot at the base of the speaker to distribute sound. According to the developers, this downward firing design and slot speaker feature uses the surface to its advantage to increase sound output and deliver smooth and even response regardless of the frequency. But a concern about the satellites is that they are relatively small and may not perform exceptionally well with maxed mid frequencies.

Razer Mako’s 200W subwoofer uses the same design as satellites and is also supposed to spread the bass in all directions.

The wired remote controller of Mako, just like similar devices from Razer’s competitors, features volume and bass regulators along with mini-jack for headphones. In addition, the design of the unit is definitely neat.

Pricing and availability of Razer Mako were not touched upon during CeBIT 2007.

First Encounter: Supermicro Displays Intel Xeon Mainboards with 1600MHz Bus, PCI Express 2.0

Intel Corp. has already announced that later during the year the company would release Intel Xeon processors with 1600MHz processor system bus (PSB) as well as server chips made using 45nm process technology. Unfortunately, until now the details concerning the new core-logic were under the wraps, but thanks to Supermicro we now know some details about Intel Seaburg chipset.

Apparently, apart from 1600MHz dual independent processor system bus and support for dual-core and quad-core Intel Xeon processors, Seaburg family of core-logic sets will feature PCI Express 2.0 bus and up to 128GB of FB-DIMM memory.

During CeBIT 2007 Supermicro unveiled two new mainboards based on Intel’s code-named Seaburg chipset for severs (X7DW3+) and workstations (X7DWA-N), which both can support two Intel Xeon code-named Harpertown (45nm) processors with 1600MHz PSB and 128GB or 64GB of FB-DIMM memory.


Supermicro X7DWA-N. Click to enlarge

The workstation-oriented X7DWA-N powered by Seaburg chipset supports two PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots for two graphics cards in multi-GPU SLI mode, has built-in multi-channel audio, PCI and PCI-X 133/100 slots for further expandability. The product may be used for building a high-performance workstation with 64GBs of memory, or even a server, as it features built-in graphics adapter by ATI Technologies.


Supermicro X7DW3+. Click to enlarge

The server-oriented X7DW3+ supports two Intel Xeon processors, up to 128GB of FB-DIMM memory, Serial-Attached SCSI, PCI Express x8/x4 as well as PCI-X 133/100 slots for expansion as well as built-in ES1000 graphics adapter from ATI.

Neither of the mainboards have been officially introduced, however, it is known that Intel plans to reveal its Seaburg chipsets and Harpertown processors in the second half of the year.