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Hardware News Archives

Razer Mice + Linux Update

As it has been almost a month since any Razer updates have been passed along, here are a few additional notes. Phoronix still has yet to hear back from Razer Inc on whether they plan to port their drivers to Linux, release specifications, or do anything else to help the Linux community. Phoronix still plans on assisting Linux-Gamers and their Lomoco project. While the project is focused on Logitech mice, Andreas Schneider had mentioned Razer mice support could be appended into the next major version (v2.0). Meanwhile, we are also working on getting support for the Razer Diamondback and Krait into the SourceForge RazerTool project -- at this point it only supports the Copperhead. After updating one of our Copperhead's to firmware version 6.17i, RazerTool had worked flawlessly under Fedora Core 5. Previously, there were problems due to firmware version 6.13. Once we have any additional Razer + Linux details to pass along, we will do so.
11 June 2006

Creative X-Fi on Linux

Creative Lab's open-source website has been updated with word that they are working on Linux drivers for their X-Fi lineup of high-end sound cards, which have been quite popular with Windows gamers. However, these closed-source Creative drivers will not be available for Linux until second quarter of 2007. These proprietary drivers will have full support for ALSA and OpenAL v1.1. EAX will also be supported by these closed Creative drivers. This announcement can be found here. No word yet when the open-source Advanced Linux Sound Architecture will support the Creative Labs X-Fi series.
2 June 2006

RazerTool - Razer *NIX

As Phoronix has been doing for a while now, we have been lobbying to hopefully have Razer Inc release the specifications to their mice, open-source their drivers, or create viable Linux drivers -- or practically anything to support the Linux community. While we have been tempted to start a community-driven project for this *NIX Razer support in GPL fashion, it seems that a SourceForge project has spawned that attempts to do just that. This project is dubbed RazerTool. Its initial release appears to have just occurred two days ago, and at this time it is only known to work with the Razer Copperhead with both a command-line interface and GTK client. Some of the features include the ability to switch profiles, alter DPI/Hz/buttons, and upgrade firmware -- among other things. In our shot with RazerTool v0.0.6 and GNU/Linux, the software had failed to communicate with the Copperhead device. Phoronix has been discussing with the leader behind lomoco (Logitech Mouse Control) project at Linux-Gamers, and support for the Razer mice may be integrated with lomoco v2.0. Still no word yet on the official outlook for Linux from Razer.
18 May 2006

Razer Linux Support Information

In the midst of our Razer Krait review, we had posed the question to Razer in regards to open-source drivers or mouse specifications. Whether or not Razer decides to open up their Windows display driver and software, or release any product specifications to allow for third party drivers and software to be built -- which would allow greater Linux support -- it will be interesting to see what occurs. To this point we have yet to hear an official response other than "internal discussion between departments". We can only hope that Razer will see Linux gamers as another viable market. As we had mentioned in the Razer Copperhead and Krait reviews, their gaming mice do work under Linux using the generic USB mouse drivers -- and they do truly perform great -- but they do lack the Razer-specific features that are available from the Windows drivers. The Razer hardware themselves have proved to be phenomenal time and time again from our various reviews of their product with using their products extensively. While official access to their specifications or driver source would be ideal, there is the option of developing an independent GPL project to allow these vendor-specific options -- similar to Linux-Gamers work with lomoco (Logitech Mouse Control) and based off of lmctl. If no official support is granted, Phoronix may be starting and supporting such a Razer Linux project in the coming months. In fact, we have already began to purchase additional Razer mice for development purposes. We have already posted a tidbit of information on the Copperhead and Krait. If anyone would be interested in working on a Razer project for Linux, feel free to contact Phoronix. Otherwise if you are a Linux Razer user or simply would like seeing this official support, feel free to voice your thoughts with Razer. Below are a few pieces of information in regards to the Razer Diamondback with Linux. cat /proc/bus/input/devices I: Bus=0003 Vendor=1532 Product=0002 Version=0100 N: Name="Razer Razer Diamondback Optical Mouse" P: Phys=usb-0000:00:03.0-1/input0 S: Sysfs=/class/input/input1 H: Handlers=mouse0 event1 B: EV=7 B: KEY=7f0000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 B: REL=103 lsusb -vv Bus 002 Device 002: ID 1532:0002 Device Descriptor: bLength 18 bDescriptorType 1 bcdUSB 2.00 bDeviceClass 0 (Defined at Interface level) bDeviceSubClass 0 bDeviceProtocol 0 bMaxPacketSize0 8 idVendor 0x1532 idProduct 0x0002 bcdDevice 1.00 iManufacturer 1 Razer iProduct 2 Razer Diamondback Optical Mouse iSerial 0 bNumConfigurations 1 Configuration Descriptor: bLength 9 bDescriptorType 2 wTotalLength 34 bNumInterfaces 1 bConfigurationValue 1 iConfiguration 0 bmAttributes 0xa0 Remote Wakeup MaxPower 100mA Interface Descriptor: bLength 9 bDescriptorType 4 bInterfaceNumber 0 bAlternateSetting 0 bNumEndpoints 1 bInterfaceClass 3 Human Interface Devices bInterfaceSubClass 1 Boot Interface Subclass bInterfaceProtocol 2 Mouse iInterface 0 HID Device Descriptor: bLength 9 bDescriptorType 33 bcdHID 1.10 bCountryCode 0 Not supported bNumDescriptors 1 bDescriptorType 34 Report wDescriptorLength 79 Report Descriptors: ** UNAVAILABLE ** Endpoint Descriptor: bLength 7 bDescriptorType 5 bEndpointAddress 0x81 EP 1 IN bmAttributes 3 Transfer Type Interrupt Synch Type None Usage Type Data wMaxPacketSize 0x0008 1x 8 bytes bInterval 10
12 May 2006

Razer Krait Linux Information

Of the products we have been tampering with for some time now in preparation for their Linux reviews has been the Razer Krait. Some of the features for the Razer Krait include optimizations for Real Time Strategy (RTS) and Massively Multiplayer Online Gaming (MMOG). Its engine is based upon the Razer Precision Infrared technology, and various other technologies that we will be discussing in its review soon. For any developers out there working on projects like lomoco for Linux mouse control with vendor specific options, we have a few pieces of information to share today. For our Razer Copperhead information, it is posted here. If any developers are interested in working on a Linux Razer mouse project, feel free to contact Phoronix. With normal usage, we have yet to experience any Linux compatibility problems thus far. cat /proc/bus/input/devices I: Bus=0003 Vendor=1532 Product=0003 Version=2310 N: Name="Razer Razer 1600dpi 3 button optical mouse" P: Phys=usb-0000:00:03.2-1/input0 S: Sysfs=/class/input/input1 H: Handlers=mouse0 event1 B: EV=7 B: KEY=7f0000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 B: REL=103 lsusb -vv Bus 003 Device 002: ID 1532:0003 Device Descriptor: bLength 18 bDescriptorType 1 bcdUSB 2.00 bDeviceClass 0 (Defined at Interface level) bDeviceSubClass 0 bDeviceProtocol 0 bMaxPacketSize0 8 idVendor 0x1532 idProduct 0x0003 bcdDevice 23.10 iManufacturer 1 Razer iProduct 2 Razer 1600dpi 3 button optical mouse iSerial 0 bNumConfigurations 1 Configuration Descriptor: bLength 9 bDescriptorType 2 wTotalLength 34 bNumInterfaces 1 bConfigurationValue 1 iConfiguration 3 HID-compliant mouse bmAttributes 0xa0 Remote Wakeup MaxPower 100mA Interface Descriptor: bLength 9 bDescriptorType 4 bInterfaceNumber 0 bAlternateSetting 0 bNumEndpoints 1 bInterfaceClass 3 Human Interface Devices bInterfaceSubClass 1 Boot Interface Subclass bInterfaceProtocol 2 Mouse iInterface 0 HID Device Descriptor: bLength 9 bDescriptorType 33 bcdHID 1.10 bCountryCode 0 Not supported bNumDescriptors 1 bDescriptorType 34 Report wDescriptorLength 79 Report Descriptors: ** UNAVAILABLE ** Endpoint Descriptor: bLength 7 bDescriptorType 5 bEndpointAddress 0x81 EP 1 IN bmAttributes 3 Transfer Type Interrupt Synch Type None Usage Type Data wMaxPacketSize 0x0008 1x 8 bytes bInterval 10
8 May 2006

When Computers Smoke

Last weekend Phoronix had covered The BoxHeads April 2006 LAN event, which had proved to be a success with the number of gaming participants, prizes, and overall atmosphere throughout the entire day. In the morning, however, there was a minor power situation. The power inside of the building managed to fluctuate quite a bit, which caused the demise of almost ten systems. The power supplies in the affected machines had largely blown capacitors and burnt PCBs. While The BoxHeads had proudly replaced all damaged components, today we have a few photos to share (which turned out surprisingly well). The two photographs below show the smoke that was simply pumping out of a single machine immediately after the problem had occurred. Additional images from the LAN are available inside the Phoronix article.
26 April 2006

OCZ GameXStream PSUs

OCZ Technology Group, a worldwide leader in innovative, ultra-high performance and high reliability memory and components, today announced the launch of the extremely powerful GameXStream Power Supplies—a new line of PSUs for performance-minded gamers. After their first power supply release in June 2004, OCZ has become known as a pioneer in high-performance PSUs for overclockers and gamers. With the release of the 600 and 700 watt GameXStreams, OCZ offers affordable power solutions that are among the most powerful power supply units on the market today. More on the GameXStream Power Supply LineHigh Efficiency is available at OCZ Technology.
26 April 2006

Compro VideoMate S350

Compro Technology, an innovative leading developer and manufacturer of PC multimedia products launched VideoMate S350, a powerful digital satellite TV tuner card with analog video/audio capture. It accompanies Philips 9-bit ADC chip, the state-of-the-art silicon digital TV tuner, Compro Picture Purifying Technology, and Power Up Technology to provide superior HDTV video quality reception on your PC. Not only watching free-to-air high quality DVB-S TV shows on your PC as a regular DVB-S card, accompanied by Compro’s exclusive Power Up Technology - it can automatically boot up your system from the Windows Shut Down (ACPI S5), Stand by (ACPI S3), or Hibernation (ACPI S4) mode and record your favorite shows, then ComproDTV 2 will automatically shutdown your system when recording is completed. Friendly Remote controlled power on/off - to enhance the home entertainment PC experience, users can power up and shutdown their PC with the bundled ergonomic design remote control. More information on the Compro Technology VideoMate S350.
25 April 2006

Broadcom BCM4306 + FC5

Back during COMDEX Las Vegas in 2002, Broadcom had shipped the industry's first 54Mb/s 2.4GHz wireless LAN solution, which was named the BCM4306. This 802.11g/b BCM4306 solution was accompanied by the BCM4309 dual-band, BCM2050, and BCM4702. While we haven't had much in the way of problems with some Linux distributions -- specifically Debian-based distros -- some others haven't faired quite as well with out-of-the-box support. The Broadcom BCM4306 solution that we have been using is PCI based and came from Minitar with a model number of MN54GPC. With a bit of tweaking, we have had no troubles getting the Minitar MN54GPC (BCM4306) working with Fedora Core 5 and the 2.6.16-1.2080_FC5 kernel. lspci -v 03:04.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4306 802.11b/g Wireless LAN Controller Subsystem: Micro-Star International Co., Ltd. Unknown device 6825 Flags: bus master, fast devsel, latency 32, IRQ 19 Memory at fb028000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=8K] Capabilities: [40] Power Management version 2 While the Broadcom BCM4306 Linux support isn't comparable to the magnificent open-source capabilities with the Atheros 802.11g Chipsets and the use of MadWifi, the BCM4306 does have some Linux drivers available. The open-source Broadcom 43xx Linux driver is quite experimental as Broadcom has yet to publicly release the specifications for their WiFi chips. We had attempted to use these BC43XX drivers with the Minitar MN54GPC, however, the module would fail to work in our tests. We had used the bcm43xx-fwcutter RPM from the official Fedora 5 Extras repository, and had extracted the card's firmware out of the Windows wireless drivers. In fact, we had tried cutting multiple Windows drivers to attain the firmware but in all instances in combination with the Linux BCM43XX drivers, the card had failed to work. Below is an example of the bcm43xx-fwcutter at work. bcm43xx-fwcutter -w /lib/firmware ~/Desktop/bcmwl5a/bcmwl5.sys bcm43xx-fwcutter can cut the firmware out of /root/Desktop/bcmwl5a/bcmwl5.sys filename : bcmwl5.sys version : 3.40.25.3 MD5 : 5e58a3148b98c9f356cde6049435cb21 extracting bcm43xx_microcode2.fw ... extracting bcm43xx_microcode4.fw ... extracting bcm43xx_microcode5.fw ... *****: Sorry, it's not posible to extract "bcm43xx_microcode11.fw". *****: Extracting firmware from an old driver is bad. Choose a more recent one. *****: Luckily bcm43xx driver doesn't include microcode11 uploads at the moment.*****: But this can be added in the future... extracting bcm43xx_pcm4.fw ... extracting bcm43xx_pcm5.fw ... extracting bcm43xx_initval01.fw ... extracting bcm43xx_initval02.fw ... extracting bcm43xx_initval03.fw ... extracting bcm43xx_initval04.fw ... extracting bcm43xx_initval05.fw ... extracting bcm43xx_initval06.fw ... extracting bcm43xx_initval07.fw ... extracting bcm43xx_initval08.fw ... extracting bcm43xx_initval09.fw ... extracting bcm43xx_initval10.fw ... The alternate option (which ultimately worked) was using ndiswrapper. After building ndiswrapper on Fedora Core 5, we simply had installed the Windows Broadcom display drivers (bcmwl5/bcmwl5a) following by creating a network-script entry for wlan0, and then loading the ndiswrapper module. With those steps (among a few other tweaks) accomplished, the Minitar MN54GPC (BCM4306) had no problems running under Fedora Core 5 with the 2.6.16 kernel. One little issue that we had faced though, was while running NetworkManager, we had experienced some connection issues with one of our wireless networks. ndiswrapper -i bcmwl5.inf ndiswrapper -l Installed drivers: bcmwl5 driver installed bcmwl5a driver installed, hardware present ndiswrapper -v utils version: 1.8 driver version: 1.13 vermagic: 2.6.16-1.2080_FC5 686 REGPARM 4KSTACKS gcc-4.1 cat /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-wlan0 DEVICE=wlan0 BOOTPROTO=dhcp ONBOOT=yes TYPE=Wireless NETMASK= DHCP_HOSTNAME= IPADDR= DOMAIN= HWADDR= ESSID=phoronix CHANNEL=1 MODE=Auto RATE=Auto USERCTL=no IPV6INIT=no PEERDNS=yes With a bit of tweaking, it certainly wasn't difficult to get the Broadcom BCM4306 802.11g device working with Fedora Core 5 using ndiswrapper. ifconfig wlan0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:0C:76:71:4D:89 inet addr:192.168.0.123 Bcast:192.168.0.255 Mask:255.255.255.0 inet6 addr: fe80::20c:76ff:fe71:4d89/64 Scope:Link UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST MTU:1500 Metric:1 RX packets:3490 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0 TX packets:4691 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0 collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000 RX bytes:271196 (264.8 KiB) TX bytes:4223349 (4.0 MiB) Interrupt:19 Memory:fb028000-fb02a000 iwconfig wlan0 IEEE 802.11g ESSID:"phoronix" Nickname:"phortest" Mode:Auto Frequency:2.437 GHz Access Point: 00:11:95:BC:10:CF Bit Rate=24 Mb/s Tx-Power:25 dBm RTS thr=2347 B Fragment thr=2346 B Encryption key:off Power Management:off Link Quality:100/100 Signal level:-73 dBm Noise level:-256 dBm Rx invalid nwid:0 Rx invalid crypt:0 Rx invalid frag:0 Tx excessive retries:0 Invalid misc:0 Missed beacon:0
16 April 2006

HP Deskjet 5940xi + Linux

While this product will not be featured in a Phoronix review, we simply wanted to pass along a few additional details about Hewlett-Packard's Deskjet 5940xi printer under Linux. Some of the features for the HP Deskjet 5940xi include borderless 8.4 x 11-inch printing, optional six-ink printing, ink-backup mode, picture bridge support, and auto-off power savings. When it came time to install the 5940xi printer, we had attached it to a Fedora Core 5 system with the 2.6.16-1.2080_FC5 kernel and GNOME v2.14. Turning the system on, Linux had detected an attached printer and we simply selected the appropriate printer and driver from the list. After that, the system was set to go with all of its printing needs. Printing everything from photographs to documents, the print quality was satisfactory and in all of the testing we had ran across no problems when it came to the Linux setup. If any Linux users happen to come across any Hewlett-Packard Deskjet 5940xi issues, feel free to contact us.
15 April 2006

Antec Performance One P180

Among Antec's many popular chassis and power supply products is the P180. On top of the P180 in the Performance One series is the P150 and P160W. The Antec P180 will be featured in an upcoming Phoronix review, but in the meantime we have a few images to share today. Some of the P180 features include TAC compliant, power supply isolation chamber, extensive cooling system, and a double hinge door design. More information on the P180 is available at Antec's website.
11 April 2006

Kensington MicroSaver

For those in the market for a lock supportive of Kensington's lock, the Kensington MicroSaver computer security cable may be the perfect candidate. On top of the Kensington lifetime warranty, they also have a guaranteed notebook replacement warranty. In other words, if your laptop is properly secured and is ever stolen, Kensington will replace it. The product's slim lock barrel is designed for low-profile notebook computers (but is compatible with any Kensington lock whether it be an LCD monitor or projector) and offers a patented T-bar locking mechanism and super-strong cable. The cable is composed of steel and Kevlar fiber with stainless steel braiding. Kensington's anti-theft warranty is limited on a $1,500 USD reimbursement. Information on the Kensington MicroSaver is available here.
11 April 2006

NVIDIA SoundStorm 2

Back in September of last year we at Phoronix first broke news that NVIDIA's infamous SoundStorm Technology may make a comeback in an article we had entitled SoundStorm 2: SoundStorm Strikes Back? In the article we mentioned the likelihood that SoundStorm would likely be revamped and make a comeback, while repeatedly NVIDIA had told the public that such a technology was dead. In that article we mentioned -- We can almost say with certainty within the next six months or so NVIDIA will be unveiling new high-end audio solutions for its products. Whether it will rejuvenate the original SoundStorm or be redesigned in its entirety, only time will tell if an audio re-birth is imminent on NVIDIA's internal roadmap. Well, a little over six months later, we have now started to see additional details emerge about this NVIDIA APU comeback. Scott Wasson of The Tech Report has reported that coming out of Sony's presentation at GDC (Game Developers Conference 2006) that the PlayStation 3 may be powered by such a NVIDIA audio technology. The presentation states 8 Ch. Audio and among the features being discussed is true hardware DSPs and 3D positional audio capabilities. While we have a few additional inklings as to what the NVIDIA "SoundStorm 2" shall hold, we shall save them for another date in the near future :) One thing we will say though, is that this new audio technology will not be limited to the Sony PlayStation 3. Of course, our original SoundStorm 2: SoundStorm Strikes Back? article is still available for public viewing here.
30 March 2006

Logisys Merger

We have received an announcement from Logisys Corporation that they have merged with A-Top Technology. This merger will consist of the same management team from both companies, however, all contacts should now be made to Logisys operations for either company's assets. Logisys has been producing PC gaming and modding accessories for a few years now and A-Top has been popular with enthusiasts for a few of its gaming cases. More information will soon be made available to the general public at Logisys Computer.
27 March 2006

Dual GPU Cooler

While Dual GPU graphics cards are not widely available at this time, with NVIDIA pushing for Quad SLI, and other manufacturers had been experimenting with Dual GPU solutions for quite some time -- with one of the manufacturers that often rings a bell in recent years for starting the Dual GPU push being XGI Technology and their Volari V8 Duo. However, preparing to launch what will be one of the first Dual GPU designed coolers is Sytrin. As we share at Phoronix time and time again, Sytrin has delivered such products as the Nextherm ICS-8200 (air-conditioned ATX chassis), Nextherm PSU460, and most recently the KuFormula VF1 Series. As we had shared in our world preview of the Sytrin KuFormula VF1 Plus, its performance abilities was utterly amazing and the best we have seen when it came to air GPU coolers. However, Sytrin is not going to stop with the KuFormula VF1 as they are already in the midst of making the VF1 compatible with Dual GPU solutions! While Sytrin's concept still appears to be under development, let alone reaching the US market, we have obtained some information from our friends at Sytrin, and are able to share this information with you today. The Sytrin KuFormula VF1 heatsink itself is designed to be universal with all ATI Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce GPUs, and it ships with a wealth of accessories to properly mount the heatsink in any configuration. However, Sytrin is hoping to make it possible to mount two of these heatsinks on a single PCB. The KuFormula VF1 Plus ships with a cross-flow fan, however, this same setup would not work with Dual GPU cards due to the fan being attached to the expansion slot area. Sytrin is producing a new frame for the VF1 model to mount a 120mm case fan and will be compatible with these dual GPU cards. In the pictures below, we have a few views of the standard KuFormula VF1 unit as well as a engineering mock-up piece for which they plan for the application of Dual GPUs. One item to keep in mind, however, is the weight of both these heatsinks. More information to come soon, and keep in mind, this new Dual GPU model is still in DEVELOPMENT stages.
26 March 2006

ASUS Product Launch

ASUSTek has also extended their product selection this morning in the form of the new GeForce 7900GTX G71, as well as a few motherboards. The products launching include -- P5B Deluxe, M2N32-SLI Deluxe, N4L-VM DH, EN7900GTX, EN7600GT SILENT, EAX1300PRO SILENT. The ASUS P5B Deluxe uses Intel's Broadwater Chipset (P965 + ICH8R) and boasts a wealth of other features. Meanwhile, the ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe is their first AMD Socket AM2 motherboard, and utilizes the NVIDIA C51D + MCP55P Chipset. The N4L-VM DH serves as ASUS' first Core Duo product with Intel's Viiv platform. Onto the graphics cards, the two new NVIDIA products use these newly launched GPUs. More information on this latest product launch is available at the corporate website.
9 March 2006

Razer Barracuda IAS

Yet some more releases this afternoon from Germany's 2006 CeBIT expo. In Razer's attempt to create a gamer following (and thus far they have been quite successful), they have branched out even further from their initial mouse and mouse surface products. Today Razer is introducing the Razer BarracudaT IAS Integrated Audio System. More information available at Razer. Hannover (Germany), CeBIT 9 March 2006— Razer, the world’s leading brand in professional computer gaming peripherals is proud to launch the Razer Barracuda Integrated Audio System (IAS) comprising of the Razer Barracuda AC-1 Gaming Audio Card and Razer Barracuda HP-1 Gaming Headphones at CeBIT in Germany. Designed and engineered from ground up by the Razer engineering team, the Razer Barracuda AC-1 and HP-1 are integrated as a single, pure gaming audio system — the Razer Barracuda IAS is the world’s first integrated audio system built specifically for gaming. Powered by Razer Fidelity, the Razer Barracuda IAS delivers optimized audio signals directly from the computer game to the gamer, creating the most realistic gaming environment possible. The Razer Barracuda IAS also features proprietary Razer audio technologies including the patent pending Razer Enhanced Sonic Perception (ESP) architecture and Razer’s 3D (720°) Positional Gaming Audio Engine. Razer believes that audio solutions today fall short of demanding gaming requirements as most existing soundcards and headphones are built for music playback and then repackaged as a gaming soundcard or headphone. Pre-requisites for gamers such as accurate positional audio and expanded dynamic soundstages are poorly integrated into the current audio solutions, often as an afterthought. Audio card software drivers are repeatedly built over legacy code that was designed for music playback, resulting in bloatware that slows down computer systems and compromises overall audio quality during fast paced gaming sessions. Enlisting the help of top audio experts, designers, engineers, audiophiles and pro-gamers, Razer re-engineered audio hardware chipsets to remove unnecessary hardware components, optimized and upgraded the essential audio components as well as streamlined drivers to specifically focus on gaming applications. Over thirty top pro-gamers worldwide were tasked to stress test and critique the Razer Barracuda IAS in the course of its development. Based on their various comments and contributions, voluminous lines of code were thrown out, circuit diagrams redesigned and components selected to provide top notch gaming audio performance. Razer’s President, Robert “Razerguy” Krakoff says: “Audio cards that were built for listening to music have been repackaged as ‘gaming soundcards’ to take advantage of the burgeoning gaming market…Razer is the world’s first company to focus on designing and engineering an audio solution from ground up. We didn’t bother focusing on either the soundcard or the headphones but developed the Razer Barracuda IAS as a single audio system to create the world’s best gaming audio.” Razer Barracuda AC-1 Gaming Audio Card The Razer Barracuda AC-1 Gaming Audio Card features a 7.1 channel output, 24 bit audio technology and unprecedented 117dB SNR (output). The 117bB Signal to Noise Ratio (output) specification clearly outperforms all current soundcards in the market that only perform up to an average of 105dB. The Razer Barracuda AC-1 Gaming Audio Card is the world’s first gaming audio card that performs up to a 117dB SNR. Gaming-specific positional audio, Powered by Razer Fidelity, allows gamers to take advantage of an expanded dynamic soundstage for gaming tuned frequencies with Razer ESP (Enhanced Sonic Perception). The in-built audio chip processes and optimizes audio signals from games to provide the ultimate positional gaming audio experience through the Razer 3D (720°) Positional Gaming Audio Engine. The Passive EMI shield minimizes electromagnetic interference (EMI) by preventing unwanted interference from graphics cards and other electrical devices that may affect the gaming audio performance. The Razer Barracuda AC-1 Gaming Audio Card also features optimized proprietary software drivers to provide for the prioritization of enhanced gaming audio signals while leaving as small a memory footprint as possible. Razer HD-DAI (High Definition—Dedicated Audio Interface) further optimizes the Razer Barracuda IAS gaming audio experience by allowing for a proprietary connection for optimized signal transmission when used with the Razer Barracuda HP-1 Gaming Headphones. Razer Barracuda HP-1 Gaming Headphones The Razer Barracuda HP-1 Gaming Headphones uses 99% oxygen-free copper cable for gaming audio signal purity. The Razer Barracuda HP-1 Gaming Headphones also provides for eight discrete audio drivers for optimal positional audio without compromising the gamer’s comfort when using the headset. With some of the best components selected for the ultra-sensitive speaker drivers, the Razer Barracuda HP-1 Gaming Headphones delivers pinpoint positional accuracy essential for gaming. The Razer Barracuda HP-1’s built-in microphone is designed specifically for in-game communications—featuring a short shaft for enhanced comfort and audio pickup, the microphone also features advanced noise cancellation capabilities ideal for frenzied in-game correspondence. Powered with Razer Fidelity, the Razer Barracuda HP-1 may be used with all soundcards; however, using it with the Razer Barracuda AC-1 gaming soundcard is strongly recommended as it delivers the best gaming audio experience in the world today.
9 March 2006

PC2-8500 Reaches Market

Our friends at Corsair have passed along word that they will be releasing the world's fastest DDR2 and DDR1 this year at the CeBIT event. The press release in its entirety can be viewed here. The new DDR2 XMS2 is designed to run at PC2-8500 speeds! Or rather, DDR2-1066MHz while the new XMS modules are TWINX2048-4400PRO. The DDR1 kit will use Infineon C-rev RAM and is timed at CL3 with 1T command rate. At this time, the new DDR2-1066MHz is only available in 1GB (2 x 512MB) kits. We'll likely be receiving these modules at our testing labs soon, and will deliver our results shortly there after. More coverage to come from CeBIT 2006, which runs from March 9 to the 15th in Hannover, Germany. Fremont, CA (March 6, 2006) – Corsair Memory, the worldwide leader in design and manufacture of high performance memory, today launched the world’s fastest DDR2 and DDR1 memory solutions for the Intel and the AMD platforms. Rated at scorching fast 1066MHz, the new TWIN2X1024-8500 from Corsair delivers the highest memory frequency currently available to Intel users. Simultaneously, the new TWINX2048-4400PRO takes the lead with its rated 550MHz speed to unleash maximum performance on the AMD platform.
6 March 2006

XGI Technology Updates

Rumors have been flying around the Internet early this month in regards to a possible takeover of XGI Technology by ATI Technologies. Initial reports had stated that ATI would acquire XGI on March 03, 2006, however, that date has since passed and we have seen no public word on this matter or official comments. If you will recall, last year there were also speculations of a possible ATI + XGI merger, but those moves were downplayed by the industry and that it would be unlikely if it ever went through. However, it seems as if this possible acquisition is the real McCoy and is likely to proceed. Rumor has it that ATI is in need of some fresh thinking and innovations after NVIDIA had acquired ULi Electronics earlier this year. While ATI was successful in their March 1, 2006 launch of the ATI Xpress 3200 a.k.a. RD580, a Chipset manufacturer take over would be ideal for their expected needs but they have seemed to settle for XGI. One of XGI's current public assets include their premiere PCI Express x16 part that was launched this past November -- the XGI Volari 8300. The Volari XP10 is their alternative PCI Express part. Alternatively, they also offer the Volari V3XT, V8 Duo, and alternative AGP 8x components and then their Z7 solution for servers and thin clients. One of the products discussed here at Phoronix on multiple occasions has been the Volari 8600XT, which is expected to compete with NVIDIA's 6600GT and ATI's X700, however, this product has yet to be released. In addition, XGI has absolutely no direct competition for the NVIDIA GeForce 7 series or the ATI X1000 series. Recently XGI Technology has seemed to be focusing more on the multimedia environment as well as servers and thin clients rather than the gaming and enthusiast market. XGI Technology had begun their operations in June of 2003 as a spin-off of SiS (Silicon Integrated Systems). For additional reference to some of these XGI products we have our Volari 8300 (XG47) Preview, as well as two interviews with XGI officials regarding various matters (including Linux) -- here and here. In late 2005 we also delivered exclusive news of XGI Technology targeting open-source display drivers that would be licensed under the GNU General Public License. In this article we presented all of the non-confidential information at the time in regards to this matter. Since last year, we had routinely helped XGI in the quest to opening up their Linux, and even Windows, display drivers in hopes of speeding the development process due to below-average experiences that its users face. In fact, it was not until recently that X.Org v6.8.2 was supported as well as the Linux 2.6 kernel. However, there continues to be a great deal of problems with XGI Linux drivers when it comes down to game compatibility, any sort of control panel, and distribution support. In fact, XGI's driver release notes have not been adequately maintained since November 01, 2004. XGI Technology had released its 2D source-code to the general public outside of a Non-Disclosure Agreement; however, there was no 3D support to be seen at that time. While many widely criticize the ATI Linux display drivers for the Radeon series, the XGI Volari Linux drivers are in worse condition. From the XGI OSS article published last year, it was certainly welcomed by the Linux community even if the Volari series are slower than the GeForce and Radeon candidates. After assisting XGI last year, on December 30, 2005 we were told by XGI that we should here an official ruling in regards to their open-source status the first week of 2006; however, to this point we have not heard back from XGI. Whether this high-level meeting has still been postponed (we are aware of the meeting being delayed at least twice in December) or they have ulterior motives for not distributing this information, we do not know at this time. Browsing the XGI Technology website, on this page we had found the following information: With XGI's open source policy, you have your own freedom to decide what you want to design, what you want to make, in the way you want to do. Please contact XGI representative about our Open Source Policy. This statement certainly seems revealing that XGI is officially going to open up their drivers under a GNU GPL-like license (as we had originally anticipated) or that they have already done so. The Volari Linux drivers available from the XGI website are the latest of v1.04.13 with a release date of January 02, 2006, which supports the 2.6 kernel and 3D functionality. No 3D source-code can be found in this release while the Windows Reactor R1.09.68 is the latest at this time. Under XGI's secured development area there is also no mention of these open-source drivers. We continually contact XGI in hopes of finding out more information in regards to their software intentions, and will pass along additional non-NDA information upon receiving it. The V5XE product page also states: Supporting the latest DirectX 9.0 and OpenGL 1.5 specification and flexible source code release strategy, Volari V5XE will be the candidate for your niche 3D applications. While no media blitz is underway by XGI in regards to these newly founded open-source policies, we do believe at this time under the information we have seen that they are finalizing their driver source-code for public release. What is not known at this time, however, is if the ATI and XGI acquisition is indeed progressing whether ATI will have an influence on this policy. In past unofficial conversations with an ATI Linux developer, he was not too enlightened by XGI's open-source display driver efforts that we had shared, and doubted it would create community developers and ultimately a larger user base. There was, however, an ATI discussion in regards to a server strategy. Could XGI be ATI's future server department? With XGI's current server and embedded products, XGI could theoretically serve quite well as the server branch for ATI. Speaking of which, an official from the server-oriented Tyan had also told Phoronix "XGI being a new player holds a lot of promise through their current and upcoming product line, and I think they are the only competition to ATI at this point". While this may be a bit of forward thinking, this corporate strategy could spawn improved drivers for both of the companies. We will certainly pass along additional public information on these matters upon receiving them and are working on tapping extra information from our contacts. The second week of the month does generally serve as ATI's monthly software ritual, and this week is looking to be no different but could be accompanied by additional an XGI acquisition. The Volari Gamers fan-site has also linked to general information about the set acquisition and a forum topic saying their farewells to this Taiwan-based company.
5 March 2006

539 Hardware news articles published on Phoronix.
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