Intel and AMD Settle for $1.25B

Intel settles the AMD antitrust and patent lawsuits, with a $1.25 billion payment, stemming from all the way back in 2005. I’m interested to hear how both sides spin this during their conference call this morning, and whether Intel actually takes the blame, or simply decides not to pursue some of the business practices they’ve used in the past, but still deems them legitimate.

That bit is very important, as this settlement doesn’t make the ongoing investigations by the EU as well as the New York Attorney’s Office go away.

Performance for Photography

I came down to the United States without my desktop, only my Dell XPS M1330, which is going on 2.5 years. Since purchasing it, I’ve done some upgrades to keep it performing at an acceptable level. The original floppy keyboard was replaced with a firmer version, the RAM was upgraded to 4GB and perhaps the key, the Hitachi 120GB hard drive was swapped out for a Patriot Warp 32GB SSD, and then a Kingston 128GB SSD.

I always thought it would be games that would be the thing that forced upgrades down the road. Quite unexpectedly, it turns out that photographic work brought my computer to its knees far before any games did (which I really don’t play anymore).

Intel’s Lynnfield launch gave me the perfect opportunity to get some great performance at a much lower price than the Bloomfield i7’s. For under $500, I put together an i5 750, 2x2GB DDR3, Radeon 4350, GigaByte mATX P55 board, and an Antec NSK1380 case. I repurposed the Kingston 128GB SSD for the desktop build, and stuck the old 120GB hard drive back in the M1330. For $500, I now have a substantially more suitable platform for photo editing. Next up will be to get another 4GB of RAM. Photoshop and Capture NX2 take up a heck of a lot of memory.

To take advantage of all that power, I picked up Scott Kelby’s Photoshop CS3 book for photographers. I’ve dabbled with Photoshop here and there, but never truly learned any formal techniques. Getting great out of camera photos is a wonderful thing, but I have to admit, most of my shots need some form of post-processing help. I’ve already tried a couple things from the book (very effective tips), and I now have one image post processed on the new computer with some new techniques. This photo is from a few weeks ago.

Upon further reflection

Intel’s EU Troubles and Centrino 2 Delayed

Due to some issues with the integrated graphics versions of the new Montevina chipset as well as FCC testing of the wireless cards, Intel’s Centrino 2 platform will be launching more than a month later than expected. The launch has now been pushed out to mid-July to early-August. Fortunately, products will be on the market for the back-to-school buying season.

In an unrelated, but also negative note for Intel, unnamed sources have let slip that the EU has reached some sort of decision in their investigation of Intel. The report noted that Intel could be fined up to 10% of its annual revenues ($4.1B) and be forced to end its advertising and rebate deals with customers. The EU has since come out and denied that a decision has been reached.

Looking Forward to 45nm

Some big, but expected news came out of Intel at this year’s CES. The official roll-out of most of the 45nm product line marks a fairly fundamental change in semiconductor technology. Instead of using a traditional metal, silicon dioxide, semiconductor gate stack, they’ve switched from silicon dioxide to a hafnium-based material. With the dielectric layer becoming so thin that leakage current was playing a big role in power consumption, a new material was used to isolate the two conductors. The reduced power consumption makes it an even better choice for mobile situations. I’m also very excited about it because it fits perfectly with some computer plans I have for the upcoming year.

I’ve realized that with my nomadic student life that a big tower desktop PC is just a little too hard to carry around. Weighing 50lbs+ all in, the Antec P180B case that houses my computer is a beast. With co-op and university alternating semesters, I’m finding it a hassle to move, and every bit of weight and size reduction helps. As a result, I’m planning on shrinking my desktop down to a Small Form Factor (SFF) PC.

For a time, I considered going with a Shuttle SFF, but I realized the large price premium wasn’t worth the small decrease in size and reduced upgradability compared with building my own SFF around a microATX board. Fortunately, there are some half-decent mATX motherboards available. One qualm I’ve had in the past with mATX boards was their low-end nature and lack of overclocking features. I’ve been waiting for a good mATX board with lots of overclocking potential, and a couple companies have delivered in the past year or so. Most recently, and most exciting is the ASUS P5E-VM HDMI, which is based on the Intel G35 chipset. In addition to solid performance and a good amount of features, overclocking has been quite good, with FSB overclocks reaching 450-500MHz.

So the plan for the computer is to get an ASUS P5E-VM HDMI motherboard and a Wolfdale or Yorkfield (haven’t decided yet – it will depend on how the retail samples overclock), combine them with my existing 8800GT and 4GB RAM inside a Silverstone Sugo SG-01 Evolution mATX cube case. The case is somewhere around 6-7lbs as opposed to the 35-40lbs of the Antec P180B. Overall, we’re looking at weight savings of more than 30lbs.

Once I have the computer taken care of, I need to focus on storage. With the new 24″ LCD, I’m finding the standard definition media just isn’t cutting it anymore. Plus, I’m running out of space on my internal 320G and external 500GB hard drives. I’ve been using an external hard drive because every once in a while I’ll go home with my laptop and bring my media with me. However, I also don’t want to carry around multiple external hard drives once I run out of room with the current 500GB. Therefore in the interests of convenience and data redundancy, I plan on building a small network-attached storage box as well with a few 500GB or 750GB drives in a simple box, such as the Antec NSK1380. I already have the microATX motherboard and an adequate Pentium E2160 to go along with it.

I’m eagerly looking forward to that right time to buy all this new hardware. I’ve seen some talk of retail box Wolfdales popping up already, but none in North America. I’ll also be on the lookout for a nice mid-range Penryn to give my M1330 a jolt of performance and battery life.