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Newsletter 5-6-2009


As We've mentioned in a previous newsletter, there is a new type of Xeon processor available known as Gainestown. Harpertown's are still available and won't be going away anytime soon, but the newest thing is the Gainestown. What's so special about it? It's the new Core i7 chip in a server format, meaning, that it is meant for dual socket 1366. If you want to use this Xeon, you must use a Supermicro X8D based motherboard (X8 meaning the newest & the D meaning dual socket), and ECCREG DDR3 memory. The chips themselves are Xeon E55XX based and are different in what they support.

Here is a quick reference:

Gainestown Xeon E5502 - dual core, no hyperthreading, runs the memory at 800Mhz

Gainestown Xeon E5504 - quad core, no hyperthreading, runs the memory at 800Mhz

Gainestown Xeon E5520 - quad core, hyperthreaded, runs the memory at 1066Mhz


Other numerical permutations are variations on clock speed. Overall, this new generation server architecture is much faster than the previous Harpertown based generation. There is a definitive server refresh cycle, and customers with older dual Irwindale xeon based servers are due for server replacements. These new Gainestown based platforms will ensure an additional 5 years of efficient computing. We don't expect to discontinue Harpertowns for at least another 6-9 months. Both generations will be available for a time due to cost considerations.

There is a brand new class of workstation video cards available! Price is comparable to the previous generation, but performance is much higher. The bigger difference is that video memory is greater, allowing a larger size frame buffer. What I mean by that - people can mess with much larger images and still have smooth performance. Another nice feature is something known as ACE, or application configuration engine. Regardless of what app your engineer/scientist customer is using (Maya, 3dsmax, Solidworks, AutoCAD, etc) - the video card will automagically reconfigure itself to optimize its performance for the app that they are using. ATI´s FirePro and FireGL cards have had this for a while, and nVidia has finally gotten it right. Why are we using Quadro´s over ATI? Quadro´s have better performance on more apps (not all), and have superior driver support... and we have FAE access in case anything goes horridly wrong.

Also, be advised that the 9800GTX+ video card is gone forever. The replacement model is the GTS 250, which is 99.9% identical. In the mobile world, the 9800M GTX is also gone, replaced by the mobile GTX 280. In the desktop world, the GTX 280 is gone, and replaced by the GTX 295. There is a new ATI card out known as the Radeon HD 4770, and I project this to be a hot card - I will have it added to TV shortly. Two of these in crossfire will destroy most configurations, even though it is considered to be a mid range card. For the budget conscious customer, I highly advise using this card. There is no nvidia equivalent at this time.

See you next time!

Visionman Team