Tuesday, October 5, 2010

3rd generation SSD specs revealed

It's been a while since remarkable news around silent computers so it was nice to find something worth reading (and sharing). Development of SSD (solid-state drive) is taking a huge steps towards lower price and better performance, I hope this will soon lead into a situation where all HDD's (hard disk drive) are replaced by them - and we can forget one quite annoying noise source. I have nothing to add to Anandtechs nice review (exept the basic fact that SSD is silent because it doesn't contain any moving parts), please read: Intel's 3rd generation SSD
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Internet_Explorer_9_beta_1 vs Mozilla_Firefox_4_beta_6

I ran a browser performance test for normal 1080p video playback with
  • Internet Explorer 9 beta1
  • Mozilla Firefox 4 beta6
  • Google Chrome 6.1
Reason for this test:
Internet Explorer 9 and Mozilla Firefox 4 represent new hardware acceleration. These versions are in beta state and already available for public (free download for both). Google is adding this feature to its browser Chrome too, it should be up on version 7 (Current version is 6.1 and 7 beta is not yet there). At this point it's good to check if the new feature have any affect on normal 2D playback which is much more used in browsers than 3D rendering features. This balance might turn later, but normal 2D videos will still be played in future too.
Test Setup is a low power system with just enough juice for HD playback:
E8400 @1,8GHz @0,8V, 4Gb DDR2 @800MHz, Nvidia G210 passive
Internet Explorer 9 beta 1 with Adobe Flash player version 10,2,161,22
Mozilla Firefox 4 beta6 with Adobe Flash player version 10,1,82,76
Google Chrome 6.1 with Adobe Flash player version 10,1,82,76
Player Hardware acceleration: on
Youtube test video: Dark Night Trailer 1080p in popup-window
Everest ultimate: measuring CPU, GPU, GPU MEM, Video engine

RESULTS IE9 beta1 FF4 beta6 Chrome 6.1
Visual look (subjective valuation) freezing smooth smooth
Average fps 17,7 20,0 20,4
Dropped frames 12 0 0
CPU core1 usage 25%-35% 45-55% 35-52%
CPU core2 usage 65%-75% 45-55% 27-45%
GPU usage (max value) 35% 20% 27%
GPU MEM usage (max value) 44% 27% 27%
Video engine usage (max value) 35% 31% 34%

Notes for results:
  • IE seems to use a lot of GPU resources and only other core of a dual processor. Where does all this power go? Not to best possible playback, frames were freezed every second when there was action on screen.
  • FF is using dual core CPU with a balanced load for both cores. GPU isn't stressed a lot. This has some value for users with passive cooled graphic card.
  • Chrome isn't using much of CPU, it seems to target it's load more on GPU. Good for those who have slower processors and decent graphic cards.
Firefox gives CPU a steady load during two minutes HD 1080p playback.
In this average chart IE seems to load CPU a bit more in the middle of the video.

Chrome keeps up its repurtation as a fast browser, the video also started to play faster. New features of Firefox 4 and Internet Explorer 9 does not help them in normal video playback - performance difference between these two was there before and is there still - Firefox has got the lead against IE, but the gap has become smaller compared to earlier versions.




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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How to build silent or quiet computer

I have had few email requests for setting up a HowTo -page for
  • building a silent or quiet computer
  • silencing your existing computer
I decided to take the job and a new pages are just waiting for my activity. A tab is already up there in my blog (see? "HowTo") and it'll be updated during this project. I'll be writing instructions about detecting noise sources inside your computer and how to silence them with simple modding so that they will get quieter. To begin my job, first I'd like to ask you what kind of HowTo -page would serve you best in silencing your PC. Please copy these questions and paste them into comment box to help me setup the instruction pages the best possible way. Remove any answers as you prefer and send your comment.

Copypaste following and send as comment:

A) In general, more: practical / theoretical
B) Practical instructions as: plain text / photos / videos
C) Theory and base data as: plain text / tab.data / graph.charts

D) Instructions to be: all in one page / list of topics to choose from
E) Instructions as: simple step by step / lot of options / with hints
F) Images and videos: included in text / linked to new windows

G) Links to: manufacturers page / review pages / shopping pages
H) Links to: forums / other blogs / online support pages
I)  Links to: Other tutorials / manuals / (your choice)

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Monday, September 13, 2010

GeForce GTS 450 passive cooled GPU from Sparkle

GeForce GTS 450 Passive Cooling version
from SPARKLE, model number

I wrote about ATI Radeon HD5770 passively cooled graphic card from Gigabyte just few days ago, so it's only fair to have an article of its competitor too. GTS 450 was introduced 13.9.2010, and several manufacturers introduced their own versions in the very same day. This graphic card is on the market today with a variety of clock speeds, voltage levels and cooling solutions. Only fanless GTS 450 was introduced by Sparkle

In tests for fan cooled GTS 450 cards, idle temperatures of only 30-36 degrees have been measured. Low temperature is promising and it seems like passive cooling is clearly possible for GTS 450. Power consumption at idle stage is not officially told, but it's supposed to be <16W. In idle state  power consumption of a reference card beats HD5770 by couple of watts.

At load power consumption is quite high for a passively cooled card. Nvidia is providing a TDP value of 106W, notifying that this a a "real world number" and for example furmark (100% load test) can exceed this. Between reference cards measured load consumptions are close to those measured with  ATI Radeon HD5770, so these cards should emit equal amount of heat in their maximum use.  However, HD5770 gives us better results in performance, so it's obvious that it's full power is not yet needed when GTS 450 is running at its max. However, temperatures at full load (Furmark test) for GTS 450 have been well under 70C, which is another promise for passive cooling possibility. Decent airflow in the case is still important.

Conclusion: We need to see a passively cooled version of both cards tested side by side before we can tell which card is actually better for passively cooled systems. Before that you can try to get an idea with following basic data:

NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450 Radeon HD 5770
GPU Engine Specs:

CUDA Cores 192 -
Stream Processors - 800
Graphics Clock (MHz) 789 MHz 850 MHz
Processor Clock (MHz) 1576 MHz 850 MHz

Memory Specs:

Memory Clock (MHz) 3760 effective 4800 effective
Standard Memory Config 1 GB GDDR5 1 GB GDDR5
Memory Interface Width 128-bit 128-bit
Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec) ~60.0 83.2

Feature Support:

Multi GPU support 2-Way NVIDIA SLI®-ready ATI CrossFireX™
3D Ready yes yes
Microsoft DirectX 11 11
OpenGL 4.0 5.0
Bus Support PCI-E 2.0 x 16 PCI-E 2.1 x 16
Certified for Windows 7 yes yes

Display Support:

HDMI resolution 1080p dual-stream 1080p dual-stream
Maximum Digital Resolution 2560x1600 2560x1600
Maximum VGA Resolution 2048x1536 2048x1536
Standard Display Connectors Mini HDMI Mini HDMI

Two Dual Link DVI Two Dual Link DVI
Multi Monitor yes yes
HDCP yes yes
HDMI 1.3 (1.4a*) 1.3
Supported video formats ? H.264, VC-1, and MPEG-2

Audio Support:

Audio Input for HDMI Internal Internal
Channels via HDMI 7.1 7.1
Supported formats AC-3, AAC, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD AC-3, AAC, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD

Power Specs:

Idle Graphics Card Power (W) <16 W** 18 W
Maximum Graphics Card Power (W) 106 W 108 W

* Support for HDMI 1.4a including GPU accelerated Blu-ray 3D support, x.v.Color, HDMI Deep Color, and 7.1 digital surround sound will be added in a Release 260 driver.

** Estimation

I hope to soon find a test where these cards are standing against each other. Until that I give my recommendation for Sparkle GTS 450 Passive Cooling version too (previously given to the other card).




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Thursday, September 9, 2010

SEO Google Instant and Analytics

Today United States webmasters and SEO & AdWords people will be using Google analytics like hell, studying how Google Instant is affecting their impressions, search terms and PPC's. Those who deal with AdWords and AdSense will have a long day... I'm glad I live in a country where it's not yet introduced since I can study the affects (hopefully for long) before Google instant gets here. My first impression is that this will help SEO people so much... You test with few letters and Google is actually giving you a perfect list of words and sentences that you should use in SEO. You drop those words into text and you'll be up in the organic search result from the start of typing. You're only dropped of if they were really not looking for you... But your customer got some visibility for their brand again. You can start advertising media visibility for your customers in a great new way, but since you eventually want to be on the list when consumer is happy with his/her search terms, you study the sentences what google is suggesting and you use those as whole. Too easy, it's a polished way up in organic results. This will bring up so much new people into the SEO marketing, especially young people who are ready to use hours of studying suggested words and sentences. There will be a book or two with a topic "Google's words and sentences" soon. And ranks get a whole new value... Rank 5-10 is nothing now. Used to be 10-15%, drops down to 0% if Google Instant is really showing only 3-4 search results all the time.

In bidding at AdWords things get difficult for a while. Google's suggested words will have a great price against those words you never see while typing. Customers are not ready to pay for pure visibility any more, amount of impressions gets too high and ROI drops radically. They want clicks now. Best copywriters who get familiar with Google's suggestion engine will have a lot of work - you better hire them soon before others do.

I'm so interested about this huge search change that starts today. For simple people the Instant service will be a nagetive experience - flashing topics and descriptions and Ads while they are simply trying to find the keys from their keyboard. Most of them will turn it off, but I've already heard that it doesn't affect on Googles suggestions! For those who are familiar with Google search this will be an adventure. They are seeing so much interesting bullshit that they might click themselves anywhere - they were looking for a hotel but they forgot the whole idea of nice weekend when they saw this great link to hot models page. For professionals this will be noncence first, they are so used to write their own search terms that they don't matter what Google is suggesting for them. They are the men who travel their own paths. So who will benefit this? Google, SEO-people and companies using money for PPC + organic SEO. Consumers? No, they think they do but actually they have a collar on them and market holds the leash. It's been that way already but this big pulls (of leash) are not made often. Keep on promising them faster and better search results, they'll buy it.

(If they don't, Bing will be very very happy...)


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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Development of Intel processors clock speed per watt

Today it's more difficult to count performance per watt of a processor because of wide variety of integrated chips in different processor families. From all Intel's processor families I'd like to pick up just a couple to show what I mean:
Intel® Atom™ Processor Z500 was introduced at Q2'08. It runs with max TDP of 0,65W with a clock speed of 800MHz. It's a single core processor without any extras (EIST support is included for even less power consumption). Performance against power consumption is tremendous 1231 GHz/Watt with direct calculation.
Intel® Core™ i7 Mobile Processor i7-660UE is a modern slim CPU developed for ultra thin products. Of course it can be the heart of any system builds, and I'm considering it for my recommendation list of power efficient CPU's for HTPC. It was introduced at Q3'10 (just a while ago) and it represents a full featured multimedia CPU. Same direct calculation gives to it 267 GHz/Watt (to reach that I've used turbo speed of 2,4GHz, which is additionally doubled because of two cores). True performance per watt, however, is a way bigger than what Atom Z500 has, since this 18W max TDP processor carries an army of chips along . There's memory handling, integrated HD-graphics etc... read more from Intel's product page.

Following chart show only a simple max GHz/max TDP, but since the chart includes 550 processors for both mobile devices, desktop pc's and servers, it still tells us something about the speed of development towards energy efficient performance. Curve still lies a lot due that the latest models include more and better chips - those chips consume power that doesn't show up in clock speed. Counting that along - the development is actually even faster.

Simple development of performance per watt of all Intel processors manufactured between 2002-2010(Q3). Click image for larger view.
- Red dots are max TDP values.
- Grey dots
are a calculated value of max GHz/max TDP. In the calculations amount of cores has been used as a multiplier for clock speed. If a processor has TBT the clock speed is calculated with max Turbo speed suggested by Intel.
- All information for calculations are from Intel's product page. Charts is cutted to show max 250 GHz/W, there are several processors that gives more. Those processors are, however, included in the curves.

Conclusion: Variety of max TDP has always been wide and seems to go on getting wider in the future too. Selecting a suitable, most energy efficient processor for anyone's personal needs get's difficult because of this, but on the other hand it's possible to find just the right one with some study and maybe professional help. I hope that people think about their true needs in advance, in that way you don't buy a computer which consumes power which isn't used for anything. Pure GHz maximum for a single core was reached years ago, but more and more cores are been used together for more calculation power. This shows in ongoing development of GHz/Watt but please do not stare to that nomber too much. In a single processor it's a mostly useless number telling only simple calculation speed of the processor, and today computers are used for totally different jobs than for computing. With larger amount of data together it tell's us that maximum lvl lies far away in the future, so we could keep on changing our processors for better and better in the following years too.

Opinion: We must think what is enough for us. A football game may reach more and more realistic level on your screen, but when does it reach the level of reality what you get when you go to a real football field? I also remember what boom Tetris was just few years ago - and you could play it with 3bit graphics (8 colours) and 20x10 resolution. I must admit that watching movies with HD quality is something I value. Is it going to be even more enjoyable with 3D and 19800 x 10800 pixels? Does the reality level reach what we see in a theater play with real people on stage?

max TDP (maximum Thermal Desing Power) is a maximum amount of wattage that processor can handle. Never reached in normal use of computers.
GHz = Ticking speed for each core in a processor. 1 GHz = 1 000 000 000 calculations in one second.
TBT = Intel Turbo Boos Technology

If you are interested of your own processors performance, or if you're looking for CPU for your needs, leave a comment. If this subject shows more interest in general, I might calculate some more nice curves within certain TDP levels and same amount of chips included.




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Monday, September 6, 2010

fanless GPU Gigabyte Radeon HD5770 SC 1Gb

I recommend this GPU - Gigabyte Radeon HD 5770 SC - for quiet computers and for quiet gaming computers with decent airflow in the case. For a basic HTPC setup this graphic card would be an overkill, you can reach desired level of HD rendering with a much cheaper and cooler GPU or onboard graphics. This one is a middle range performance level graphic card. So far it's also the only passively cooled version of ATI Radeon HD5770 in the market.

My recommendation is based on this review by Funkykit. Gamers are propably most interested of page 5-6 (test results). Size of the cooling unit is huge and it's working well according to review. Huge size of the heatsink might cause fitting issues in some ATX-cases. Idle temp of the GPU in their test rig was 40C and they managed to reach only 52C during DirectX 11 gaming. +12C is really nothing compared to the level of performance of this graphic card. This can't be only cooling performance here, due to my experience I can say without testing that power consumption of this card must be in quite decent level. About the temperature I've seen GPU's going over 100C still running nicely. However I recommend to keep case fans spinningwith this GPU, 50C isn't a temperature that you want inside your whole case. And furmark was not yet used in this test (which is ok, furmark's  heavy loads for GPU for long period of time have nothing to do with normal use)

I found only one price tag with quick browsing: Gigabyte Radeon HD 5770 Silent Cell 1Gb for $149 CAD ($145 USD). Please comment if you find more stores. I also have interest for some tested power consumption levels, they might be a bit lower than the version with active cooling. If you find a link to a review, please comment.

Link to Gigabyte's product page


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