CES 2011: Visiting with Vendorsby Dustin Sklavos on January 7, 2011 12:50 AM EST
Kingston's showing was admittedly anemic compared to the other two companies they were showing with, Zalman and Zotac. Their big announcement seemed to be the HyperX Genesis memory, which now apparently will come in a gray edition (since it had always been blue), and the new heatspreaders no longer have the clips on the top. They also showed off a USB 3.0-connected SSD.
What Zalman and Zotac brought to the table was more interesting. Zalman's CNPS9500, 9700, and 10X were all solid coolers, and they announced their impending CNPS11X. The 11X is a strange beast; it essentially has two arrays of fins in a V-formation with the fan suspended between the other edges of each, creating an open pocket between the arrays. The heatpipes within the fin arrays are particularly remarkable: internally the heatpipes are actually uneven, increasing their surface area and improving heat transfer. Zalman stated the CNPS11X would be able to dissipate a staggering 350 watts of heat.
There's also a smaller CNPS7X (92mm fan) with the same V-shaped cooling arrangment, and an inexpensive tower that has a mounting bracket with adjustable mounting ring that will fit older socket 775 as well as socket 1155/1156. And not to miss out on the SSD fun, Zalman showed us a 2.5" external HDD/SSD enclosure; there will be USB2 and USB3 versions.
While Zotac mostly talked about how 2010 was their "coming out party," the new products they unveiled should surprise no one but excite everyone. Zotac has made a habit of producing Mini-ITX boards stuffed with every feature but the kitchen sink, and naturally they've updated their line with an H67-based board complete with PCI Express 2.0 x16, SATA 6Gbps, USB 3.0, and dual-band integrated wireless networking.
The other product that should've been expected but is nonetheless very compelling is their new ZBox. Externally it looks identical to the previous ZBox we reviewed, but internally it's a lot more exciting. Zotac traded up in a major way, swapping out the Atom and NG-ION combination for AMD's Fusion. The new ZBox sports a Zacate processor with dual 1.6GHz cores along with all of the connectivity as the previous version. We weren't able to find out if it supported HD audio bitstreaming, but as soon as we know we'll update and pass along that information. If it does, Fusion coupled with the integrated Blu-ray drive makes for a very compelling HTPC option.
Compared to some of the other vendors, A-Data was less flashy and more about the products and the data, which is fine by us. The usual memory kits were on display, but one of their big pushes is in flash drives, and that's being handled in two ways. First, they're producing flash drives in a broad variety of form factors and shapes, including some cute panda and skull-shaped drives along with NBA-licensed flash drives shaped like stout players with logos on the jerseys and even Disney-licensed drives shaped like Mickey's glove or with illustrations of Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
The other and likely more important change is the gradual transition of all of their flash drives to USB 3.0 moving forward. It's worth mentioning that even though neither Intel nor AMD support USB 3.0 natively in their chipsets, the standard is nonetheless gaining traction in a major way. The major motherboard vendors are all making it a point to integrate it into their products, and virtually all of the cases we've seen due for the marketplace feature USB 3.0 ports.
A-Data also announced a Marvell-based SATA 6Gbps SSD and were posting very impressive numbers with it, but they ran across something that we'll have to verify in our own testing: while the drive offered strong performance on AMD's SB850 southbridge, both the Marvell SATA 6Gbps motherboard controller and the P57's SATA 6Gbps posted significantly lower numbers--on the order of 30%-50% slower. We can't say for sure where the issue lies and will have to wait until these drives are in our hands. Testing Crucial's RealSSD C300 across the three different controllers produced similar results, but the P67 is relatively new (not to mention the pre-production drives being tested on it), so we'll have to take a wait-and-see approach.
Last but not least, A-Data will be debuting in the power supply market and coming out swinging with some very compelling products. All of their power supplies are 80 Plus Bronze certified and include a unique and nifty feature: a status LED that indicates the kind of load being placed on the power supply. If it's green everything is copasetic; at yellow it's starting to really work; and if it's at red it's being pushed too hard. When I asked if they were licensing their power supplies (similar to Corsair) they said they were actually manufacturing their own.
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flurazepam - Friday, January 7, 2011 - linkWould be nice to see a windowed panel option (i.e. post purchase) for the existing Corsair 600T cases.
Corsair Tech Marketing - Friday, January 14, 2011 - linkThose will be available soon...
Meaker10 - Friday, January 7, 2011 - linkI think that SSDs should have a new style of interface based of pci express lanes.
They should be able to plug straight into the motherboard with a single powered connector (possibly like mini-PCIe where it lies flat I suppose but have cable support for larger drives).
Maybe have 8-16 lanes fed to a controller chip with configurable lanes between each port say up to a maxmimum of 4 (for now).
Hrel - Friday, January 7, 2011 - linkSo... Why isn't anyone using fiber optics in computers yet? Intel has talked about it, ISP's are using it. Everyone knows its faster than anything out now and in a computer the length of cables doesn't need to be very long.
Get on it industry.
DanNeely - Friday, January 7, 2011 - linkOptical networking is still too expensive for the consumer market. Eg the cheapest gigabit PCIe fiber card on newegg is $200. Intel's described research that should lead to making optical connections on silicon significantly cheaper. Hopefully that will play out in the next few years; but it's not here yet.
Penti - Friday, January 7, 2011 - linkWhy do you need it though? We have 100GbE now over copper that is in the making. And 10GbE over copper is standard. Converting that to fiber in the switch or media converter is no problem. You can of course terminate directly into a computer if you like, but if your not running it as a router it's pointless. You use fiber optics for high-speed links or uplink/trunks in your networks and for long distances. Besides it's already used in data centers with fibre channel. Do the end user need to terminate to anything more then 1Gb ethernet over copper or multiple 1GbE? Or 10GbE over copper (or multiple bonded/trunked). Nope not even the servers need that. Well maybe if you need more then 4x10GbE in one server. But for access to the SAN there's a separate fibre channel card connected to a fibre channel switch with fiber optics. No reason to replace the Ethernet copper connection in the computer/server. Unless you need a length kilometers of cable and then fiber optics have always been the choice. Since long distances is rarely needed it don't make any sense to have fiber optics everywhere. OP actually nails it, the cables don't need to be long. If you can do 100GbE over 10 m of cable that's enough. 10 GbE handles the same distance as 1 GbE, 100 meters. Do you really need fiber optics the last meters? No. And for home use I think you prefer that you can use a cheap ethernet switch or router even if you have FTTH. It's not like it would go any faster.
softdrinkviking - Saturday, January 8, 2011 - linkintel is surely making progress on lightpeak, and it will eventually be cheap enough to make it into PCs.
this is way, way future, and by the time they figure it out, or at least at some point in the future, it may be necessary for something, hey.
also, i think it's really interesting to see what comes out of running fiber in PCs beacuse it's something new and you never know what advantages may come of it.
like how toslink cables have the pleasant side-effect of relieving horrible ground hiss in audio signals out of some PCs.
not saying that we NEED fiber in our computers, but most gadget or tech hobbyists are not really concerned with what we need. It's more of a "wow look at that, that's cool" kind of thing.
Penti - Monday, January 10, 2011 - linkWell this kind of things are driven by the professional side, and audio has gone back to copper with HDMI and DisplayPort any way. And S/PDIF over RCA isn't bad. You still have timing errors over toslink too.
We don't really use fiber because it's faster we use it because it's more practical. For connecting cities and countries that is. Intel has demonstrated you could even use it inside computers, but they also no they don't need it.
Lightpeak might be practical, but that's just one use of fiber optics. That don't mean we will rip out are CAT6 cables and use it for ethernet. Just means it will be used for some high-performance and consumer devices. How it advances in the data centers is something fully other thing though. It will be other standards there.
semo - Friday, January 7, 2011 - linkAny word on current memory fabrication? I remember Samsung was talking about 2xnm node RAM that was supposed to work at 1.35V.
BathroomFeeling - Friday, January 7, 2011 - linkAny word as to what that super secret Coolermaster thing "worth waiting for" is?