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.


3 Replies to “Looking Forward to 45nm”

  1. Haha … that’s funny.

    Have put the words “Asus P5E-VM HDMI” and “Silverstone SG-01” into google and your site was one of the sites coming up.

    I want to get an SG-01 and this Asus mATX board too … plus either the Wolfdale E8400 or the Yorkfield Q9450 (when available though) and for powersupply either the Silverstone ST50EF-Plus-SC (short cable) or the Corsair HX520W Modular, and a Western Digiatl 750GB or 1 TB hard drive (wished SSD came down in price much quicker).

    A few components still give me headache:
    1. the CPU cooler (Zalman CNPS 8700-NT ?)
    2. the Memory (2 x 2GB)
    3. the Graphics card (GeForce 8800 GT or 9600 GT ?)
    4. Monitor either Dell 2408WFP or Samsung ???

  2. Sounds like we have quite similar needs for our next computers. Let’s see if I can give you some ideas/opinions for the choices you’re still trying to decide on.

    1. Since you’re going to be limited in terms of height, the Zalman you mentioned is a pretty good choice. Silverstone also has its NT06-Lite, which is the original NT06, but without a fan to fit under the 80mm or so clearance of the PSU. Any PSU with a large fan on the bottom will act as an exhaust for the heatsink.


    2. With memory as cheap as it is, definitely grab 4GB of it.

    3. I’d probably stick with the 9600GT. In a small box like the SG01, you’ll want to keep an eye on power consumption – the 9600GT consumes quite a bit less than the 8800GT for nearly the same performance. It’ll make temperatures a bit more manageable.

    4. I presume (by the choice of components) that you’ll be gaming – the Dell 24″ panel has problems with inverse ghosting. If you’re not familiar with it, I suggest taking a look at HardForum’s display section. There’s a lot of discussion about it there. The Samsung 245T looks like a winner, although the price is a little on the high side, compared to other non-TN 24″ panels. But that’s the price you pay for a good product.

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