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David Fearon

Intel’s own superchilled test rig

Friday, August 6th, 2010

StevesRigThere’s been a healthy response to my render challenge posted last week, in which I pitted a Core i7 980X machine against my dual Xeon workstation and invited you lovely readers to run the same timed test that I was running.

Over 50 people have run it on their PCs so far, and posted the results. Bless the reader, known only as ‘N’ in his post, who ran it on his Atom netbook and achieved a blistering 1,935 seconds’ render time. That’s a mere 26 times slower than the Core i7 980X.

But now Intel has weighed in to the fight, and not surprisingly, it’s winning, thanks to a monster PC overclocked to nearly 5GHz.

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Core i7-980X PC versus eight-core Xeon workstation

Friday, July 30th, 2010

smallptoutput462

Having been writing about photo-realistic 3D graphics rendering for issue 192 of the magazine, I’ve been getting myself back up to speed with the state of 3D graphics and looking into the absolute best techniques for achieving realistic lighting. And along the way I’ve got a new insight into the sheer speed of the latest CPUs.

Turns out the best 3D rendering algorithm is a hugely intensive method known as path tracing, which is sort of like ray tracing’s dad. The theory behind the method actually pre-dates ray tracing, but it’s only now that PCs are getting fast enough for experimental dabbling at home.

The good part is that, while it needs a heck of a lot of computing power to do, path tracing is actually a fairly simple technique to implement.

But where to get a path-tracing application to play with?

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Asus E-Reader DR-950 review: first look at CeBIT

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

_MG_2536Sitting in plastic display holders in a corner of Asus’ huge stand here at CeBIT in Hannover, are two unassuming little eBook readers. From a distance they look just as generic as most of the other models on the market. Get closer though, and things start to look more interesting. Turn one on and it gets better still.

First, there’s the screen size. With a 9in e-ink display and relatively narrow bezel, it feels a lot more like a portable screen than a portable computer, unlike the Amazon Kindle. Once you switch it on you can immediately see it’s not just big – it’s high resolution too, at 1,024 x 768. That’s the highest resolution we’ve seen, with the rest of the competition at 800 x 600.

It wasn’t just me who was impressed. Our eBook expert Stuart Turton, who’s with me in Germany, couldn’t suppress a grin when he first tried to navigate his way around the interface.
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Asus Eee Keyboard review: first look at CeBIT

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

_MG_2535The much-anticipated Eee Keyboard – a PC, as you may have guessed, in a keyboard – will finally be shipping next month, according to Asus chairman Jonney Shih. He was contrite about the delays in a press conference here in Hannover: “We have to apologise a little bit… we’ll try to perfect it. We promise it won’t be further delayed – we think April time frame we’ll have mass production”

Despite not being fully finished, two demonstration units are running on Asus’ stand. We spent a while playing, in the company of a slightly nervous-looking Asus rep.
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Apple iPad: PC Pro’s first reactions

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

ipad_cropSo the wait is over, and the general reaction of the editorial team is undeniably one of very slight disappointment. The mock-ups floating around the web were generally of a device like a great big iPhone, and in the event we got… a great big iPhone.

Our slumped shoulders when it seemed there was no 3G are now square again – you will at least be able choose a 3G version. So essentially you can choose between a big iPod (no 3G) or a big iPhone (with 3G). And despite there being no mention of GPS capability during the launch event, we’re very much relieved to say the 3G versions will have it. (more…)

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The Nikon S1000pj projector camera: a gimmick with a future [updated]

Monday, October 5th, 2009

s1000pjA little while back, when the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj compact camera was announced, we discussed it on the PC Pro podcast. This, it must be said, was the day after the announcement of its existence and so we hadn’t seen one. But the big news was this camera, rather bizarrely we thought, had a projector in it.

The general consensus at the time was that it was probably, maybe, possibly a good idea in the long run, but a gimmick as it stood. We reckoned it was your typical early-adopter-only product.

Well, I’m eating our collective words now that I’ve spent the weekend playing with one. (more…)

The digital camera that makes babies happy

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Those clever camera manufacturers will stop at nothing to enhance our lives, and increase the already near-unbearable mirth of the everyday, by means of clever electronics. And so to London’s Imagination Gallery this afternoon, where Samsung was showing off its latest round of cameras. The most interesting of which sports not one screen, but quite literally double that number. Yes that’s right, two screens! One on the back (soooo last season) and one implausibly positioned (hold on to your seats) at the front. And look how happy it seems! (more…)

Those Intel wags!

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Perhaps it’s because it’s (relatively) early in the morning, but Intel appears to be making light of its €1 billion fine, levied for not playing fair with AMD. Or am I just reading too much into a feeble marketing line?

Posted in: Random

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The recession, as measured in Canon cams

Friday, May 1st, 2009

We’ve got awfully used to technology getting cheaper by the year over the past decade. But the party’s over. I got my hands on Canon’s newest EOS DSLR camera this week, in the form of the EOS 500D (we’ll have a full review next week).

It’s a nice enough addition to the legendary DSLR range that began with the 300D in 2004, but the price is flabbergasting. (more…)

All your computer are belong to us

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

To London’s Charlotte Street Hotel this morning, and the official UK launch event for Intel’s new Xeon 5500 series CPUs – the ones with that ever-so-fast Nehalem architecture in them. (No, it wasn’t a joke. Real things do happen on April 1st.)

It wasn’t the most surprising launch of a server processor ever, but server events aren’t usually renowned for thrills and spills.

Some interesting figures emerged though. They show in just two slides the market reality behind Sun being swallowed up by IBM a few weeks ago, and the sheer dominance of Intel when it comes to processors in everything from enterprise servers to netbooks. (more…)

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