Sample AMD Bulldozer Chip OC’d to 4.63GHz

That’s quite a bit of “jigahertz”. So what we have under the spotlight is an engineering sample of Advanced Micro Devices’s very own FX-8130P (aka Zambezi) CPU, which is based on the Bulldozer architecture. An enthusiast from Czech Republic managed to push the 8-core chip to 4635.6MHz on air. There were blacked out screenshots, but possibly due to being an employee from an affiliated company or even AMD – we only know that the sample processor itself has 8 cores, 8MB of L3 cache, and takes DDR3-1866MHz, and is fabricated from a 32nm process.

Sadly there are no details on stock speeds, stepping, nor revision. What’s astonishing is that the overclocked managed to pull off Super Pi 1M in just 1.26s compared to an Intel i7 2600K that still took over 6 seconds while being clocked at 6.3GHz.

Crucial Extends the Ballistix series with Tactical and Elite Options

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything coming from them since March, but Crucial recently revamped their memory lineup with a completely new logo and heat spreader designs. Frequencies range from DD2-800MHz to DDR3-2133MHz with various densities for each module. Their Ballistix Tactical line is tailored for gamers and enthusiasts alike offering low latencies and faster speeds. Not only did they take reliability and performance into consideration, but also great style as well. The modules sport a signature black PCB and new heat spreaders with improved thermal dissipation.

On the other hand, we have the Ballistix Elite series aimed at extreme power users with the product spec’d for compatibility with the latest platforms. They also bear advanced timings and speeds, on-board thermal sensors, and gone through a brand new heat spreader treatment as well.

Expect these to hit shelves as early as September this year.

Need More Space (or Speed) on Your SSD? – Part 2 (Feature)

We’ll jump in right away after where we left off last time, and we’ll start off by discussing Power Settings (in Windows) that can affect the TRIM operation. By adjusting and ensuring that the drive does not turn off after a given amount of time, it allows the SSD’s idle garbage collection sequence to run even when you’re away. This can be done by:

  • Going to Control Panel and select Hardware and Sound (in Category view)
  • Click on the Power Options section heading (in green)
  • If you haven’t selected the High performance plan already then hit Show additional plans and select the bubble for it
  • Select Change plan settings for the High performance profile followed by Change advanced power settings
  • Expand the Hard disk drop-down menu and change the Turn off hard disk after to 0 minutes, which will show as Never
  • Click Apply then OK to save your changes

Disable Hibernation and Drive Indexing

This duo frees up space and can help with write performance at the same time. First off with disabling hibernation, you can gain the same storage space as the amount of RAM you have in your system. Reason is of the Hiberfil.sys hidden file on the root folder of the drive where the OS is installed and the Windows Kernel Power Manager reserves this file when you install the operating system. Not coincidentally, the size of this particular file is roughly the same as how much memory (or RAM) you have installed.

Since with a SSD you can power down and boot up with great speed, as a result you won’t have much of a performance gain by hibernating your system. To disable, you:

  • Type cmd in the Start menu Search textfield
  • Press and hold Ctrl + Shift + Enter or right clicking the cmd program to Run as Administrator
  • Key in powercfg -h off and hit Enter
  • An empty prompt should follow which is normal

Now we’ll cover Drive Indexing as response times on a SSD are quite fast already and won’t require contents of the drive to be indexed for quicker retrieval. Not only does this prevent unnecessarily writes to the drive meaning longer life, but also some help in terms of write performance as well. To do this:

  • Open Computer from the Start menu or if you have a desktop shortcut
  • Right-click the SSD and click Properties then un-check Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties

You will be greeted with a pop-up of how the attributes will be applied to the drive or drive and folders/files as well, it should be applied to everything rather than just the drive itself since that would just prevent indexing of future folders/files. Another pop-up that you may see is an error for applying attributes and you can simply hit Ignore All as this is normal.

Be sure to stay tuned for our third and final installment of our Need More Space (or Speed) on Your SSD? series.

AMD Phasing Out Phenom II X6 Series

According to news sources, the chip maker has plans to mark their entire Phenom II X6 processor line to EOL (end of life) by the fourth quarter of this year. This is a move to put the spotlight on the new FX series of CPUs based on Bulldozer. The Phenom II X6 1045T, 1055T and 1065T are the first chips marked for retirement, but can still be ordered until third quarter (2011).

Even though AMD won’t manufacturing these chips, however they will still honor any warranty claims that are still valid.

Ever Wondered How Hard Drives Worked?

Having SSDs as mainstream storage solutions is still far off these days, but having been around traditional magnetic hard drives all this time – have you actually wondered how they worked?

Well the “EngineerGuy”, Bill Hammock, posted a new video on YouTube and goes through in-depth how hard disk drives actually function. Honestly they are quite the engineering masterpiece. Make sure you hit up the video clip below.

Need More Space (or Speed) on Your SSD? – Part 1 (Feature)

As solid-state drives become more affordable, many of us are getting on board and using them for our systems. Whether it’s in a desktop or laptop, you’ll be seeing a substantial speed bump with faster load times and responsiveness all round. The main issue/weakness are the costs of SSDs and how the drives can get much more expensive as the capacity grows. This will gradually improve as time goes by with increased production volumes and general availability.

Most of us for obvious cost reasons will often opt for a lower capacity SSD to act as a boot drive, having said that you’ll have to be flexible with the space you have to work with. We’ll start out with the more basic tweaks that you can carry out to let you reclaim that much needed space and perhaps yield some gains in performance.

See if TRIM is Enabled

TRIM is an OS command that talks to the SSD telling which blocks of previously saved data are no longer required from deleted files. It then allows the drive to carry out garbage collection otherwise write performance can be negatively impacted. You can do this by:

  • Typing cmd in the Start menu Search textfield
  • Press and hold Ctrl + Shift + Enter or right clicking the cmd program to Run as Administrator
  • Key in fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify and hit Enter

A result of DisableDeleteNotify = 0 indicates that TRIM is enabled while 1 means that it is disabled.

Make Sure your SATA Controller is in AHCI Mode

This can be set through your motherboard’s BIOS/UEFI, and you may have to refer to the user manual on how to do this for your particular model. However your SATA controller may already be in AHCI (advanced host controller interface) mode, you can check by:

  • Opening Control Panel from the Start menu
  • Click the Hardware and Sound category (depending on your view)
  • Select Device Manager under Devices and Printers (there are many ways of doing this)
  • Spot an entry called IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers 
  • Expand it and see if one of the controllers list AHCI

If the AHCI controller is listed then your system configuration is set to AHCI, while is no particular controller is listed then it is not.

We’ll carry on next time with this mini-series with more complex tips towards the end, be sure to keep an eye out.

Early Benchmarks for AMD’s “Llano” Platform Surface

Apparently somebody got their hands on the AMD A8-3800 Quad-Core APU along with Gigabyte’s GA-A75-UD4H motherboard and they did exactly the right thing. Ran several benchmarks. Aside from the two feature parts, other parts used were 4GB (2x2GB) of GSKILL DDR3-1600 RAM, a standard 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 HDD, and note that the graphics is the on-board Radeon HD 6550D that’s on the same die.

What we found fairly darn impressive (for an integrated solution) were the benchmarks in the gaming department with these scores (at 1080p):

  • Street Fighter 4: 50.32 FPS
  • Hawx: 54 FPS (DX9) / 22 FPS (DX10)
  • Hawx 2: 46 FPS (DX9) / 34 FPS (DX11)
  • Resident Evil 5: 29.0 FPS (DX9) / 27.4 FPS (DX10)

A First Look at Windows 8’s Interface

Rumors and everything set aside, Microsoft recently demoed the upcoming version of Windows aka “Windows 8”. That’s the name that has been going around, but it appears they’re using it as a codename for the time being. The new interface is quite drastic and the company is building this version to be suitable from small to large touch screens and with the use of a keyboard/mouse or not. They say it will have more to showcase at their BUILD developer event from Sept. 13 to 16 in Anaheim, California – US.

NZXT’s Source 210 Chassis for the Budget Conscious Gamer

Most of time many of us would want to make the most of our dollar on performance for a new desktop build, and aesthetics don’t come as an high priority. You’ll probably want to pour more of your hard earned money to a beefier graphics card, get more RAM, and a throw in a SSD to boot. There goes your budget. NZXT totally understands when that happens and their new Source 210 can be a great option if you were to face a rather common situation like that. Breaking it down, the company is charging $40 for the Source 210 and an additional $10 Elite version.

The cases seems quite nice for an entry level product as it sports a textured aluminum panel in both black and white. On top of that there’s the standard cable management, coated interior (in both black or white), and a bottom mounted PSU compartment. As for cooling you can mount up to seven 120mm fans. You heard us right, seven. The Elite model also has USB 3.0 support, tool-less access, and a top 140mm fan for extra cooling.

MSI Shows Off New Innovations at Computex 2011 (Weekend Bonus)

First off, we’re all aware of MSI’s popular overclocking utility Afterburner right? It usually comes bundled free with every one of their video card purchases and allows the user to easily adjust clock speeds, voltages by simply dragging the slider or keying in the values. What if you aren’t at the computer to even do this? Well there’s an app for that.

Right now they only have it for Android with an iOS version in the works, but the company emphasizes that the app is something that provides access to all of Afterburner’s features without having to be tied up to the computer. So what’s the point? Say you’re in the middle of running an intensive benchmark and you start seeing artifacts, rather than stopping or quitting the run, you can simply start the app and adjust settings there. Much more efficient.

Applications for this neat mobile app are countless including monitoring while away from the PC, and MSI says it works with video cards by other vendors as well. Above all it’s absolutely free!

Next is something we’re quite fond of, and it’s a PC enthusiast’s nightmare. DUST. This is most evident in the graphics card as a lot can get built up in the heatsinks, and even if you were to go all out water cooling you’ll still find yourself using fans in some parts of your setup.

They company is rolling out a new feature dubbed “Dust Removal Tech” for all their new cards and what it is essentially having the video card have its fans spin in reverse for about 30 seconds when you start the computer. This allows dust to be drawn out of the part rather than to be accumulated by continually having the fans blow onto it.

Sadly there are some caveats to this system, as the dust will still be blown back into your PC and most people have the tendency to leave their desktops on 24/7.