Innovation and Anticipation

by Derek Wilson on December 31, 2008 9:00 PM EST
What did you think was the most interesting, innovative and exciting developments we talked about in 2008?

If I had to pick something that actually shipped this year, it would be Intel's SSD drives. Those things are the new hotness. Still a bit pricy, and still a bit small, but two of these in RAID 0 can saturate a SATA controller. Consistent latency even in random accesses, no need to defrag, and significantly reduced fear of mechanical failure are great things indeed. The improved responsiveness of the system is quite nice and definitely noticeable when moving back to mechanical drives.

If we don't restrict it to things that are available, but only that we have seen ... well there are some really cool things out there. Having watched stereoscopic movies at IDF and seen stereoscopic games at NVISION, I suspect we all might start wearing glasses more often. Hmm ... I wonder if polarized contact lenses are a good idea. Probably not.

One of the innovations I really want to get my hands on is Lucid's Hydra technology. They claim near linear scaling with multiple GPUs regardless of the game. We sort of have our doubts, as do AMD and NVIDIA. But wouldn't it be cool if they could actually pull it off? A vendor independent multiGPU motherboard that scales better than both CrossFire and SLI in all cases? That'd be very cool.

2008 was quite a year in graphics with new architectures from both AMD and NVIDIA. The unexpected success by AMD with RV770 was quite impressive and really threw NVIDIA's pricing for a loop. Which is great for the consumer. With high performance graphics cards available at good prices, pervasive DX10 hardware, and OpenGL 3.0, OpenCL 1.0, and DX11 in the pipe for the next year or so, it is a good time to be into computer graphics. It's taken a while but we are seeing PC games that surpass console games, and we expect the gap to widen quite a bit in 2009. 

Here's to technology, and happy new year. Let us know what you think is the coolest stuff that happened in 2008 and what you are looking forward to in 2009 
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  • has407 - Thursday, January 8, 2009 - link

    Or, Intel rediscovers simplicity with in-order execution and a very low TDP. Put a bunch of those together on the same silicon with optimized shared logic (e.g., a high speed barrel), and you'd have... an X86-based contender suitable to take on a SPARC T1/T2/Tx?

    Maybe not for everyone, but Intel can't be blind to the potential for heavy duty enterprise multithreaded and virtualized workloads (Sun certainly wasn't). As the original Banias/Core architecture caused a fundamental shift in thinking, and came to dominate--although ridiculed by many as a niche player at the time--Atom may be the most important thing since then.
  • Holly - Wednesday, January 7, 2009 - link

    1. SSD; with hope of getting prices to affordable level and capacity to be enough for average user (so about 250GB). Hopefully performance of these drives will make manufacturers of integrated controllers to show some progress, maybe include some cache etc. as well same like separate controllers do. Make pure hardware solutions, not the semi-software wannabe as it is now. As well I hope SSDs grow out of newborn illnesses.
    2. Core i7 - for creating more developer nightmares with threading :-)
    3. Lucid Hydra;; I am still not convinced that what they claim to do is even doable without massive (talking about tens gigabits per second) gfx memory transfers between the cards
    4. nVidia 9300/9400 for being first gfx/chipset truly capable and reasonable for HTPC
  • gipper - Tuesday, January 6, 2009 - link

    I'm going to go the other direction. While these power hungry monsters (i.e., video cards and processors) you guys talk about are great for the high end, they don't do much for a guy with a family and an XBOX 360 (or PS3, whatever your persuassion).

    1. HTPC components like the lower end 4xxx Radeons and the Nvidia 9300/9400 motherboards. All of these set top boxes could easily be replaced by a competent PC, but no one wants a jet taking off in their family room.

    2. 6+ hour notebooks. I used to carry a Dell 8200 through the airport and all because its dual 8 cell batteries would give me 5.5-6hrs of battery life on site with a client. It weighed over 10lbs total. The 15" 1800x1200 screen was nice for the real estate though.

    Now, I have a EEE pc 1000H. It's every bit as fast as my old pentium4 Dell, doesn't get nearly as hot, and weighs about 1/4 of what the old dell does. Plus, it gets 6-8hrs of battery depending on WIFI usage. I love it. I'll definitely upgrade when I can get a YYYYx768 or higher resolution screen with this kind of battery life, but for now, it's a blessing.

    So, while you guys go to the high end, I'll go to the lower end based on products that meet my needs. I geek out over the high end stuff too, no doubt, but I buy things that make my life simpler or easier.
  • andrewkfromaz - Tuesday, January 6, 2009 - link

    I'll go with simplicity as well. Cloud-based computing has made the netbook, MacBook Air, and Google's Android platform possible, while making file management for the average consumer much simpler. Instead of worrying about losing a flash drive in my backpack or in a lab, someday I'll be able to access everything I own digitally (including, hopefully, the software to manipulate it) with a simple login from any computer. I think storage on laptops is nearing its peak, and we're going to see an emphasis on laptops with cell-phone data access built in take off as consumers demand constant access to remotely stored data and applications.
  • gipper - Tuesday, January 6, 2009 - link

    You're absolutely correct.

    So to my list, I should add Windows Home Server Power Pack 1 (all bugs fixed).

    central file repository - check
    central FTP site = check
    remote computer access - sketchy, but fully available on pro version os's
    automatic file backup - check
    automatic system images - check
  • sxr7171 - Sunday, January 11, 2009 - link

    I agree with you on the Windows Home Server but that came out last year as in 2007. I have one and recommend it to anyone.
  • bigsal - Tuesday, January 6, 2009 - link

    Try to attach drive to another computer and access data. Before you try this place the bad drive in a freezer overnight. If drive is not to far gone you may get access to it for a few minutes. I have had some success with this method, but be quick. Good luck.
  • Visual - Monday, January 5, 2009 - link

    I agree that SSD tech is a good pick for this year...
    But why Intel? They were late to join the market segment overall, they were unavailable until very recently, long after being announced, and they are still absurdly expensive.
    If we are to talk about SSDs, I think we can not ignore OCZ and their contribution to the field. I think their drives deserve to be pointed out, not Intel.
    The problems that are associated with them aren't as bad as Anandtech made people believe, and this is another reason I think Anandtech owes more to OCZ... they are hurting their reputation unfairly. I still haven't tried the drives myself so can't speak from experience, but from reading around the net AT's claim that the JMicron controller in the drives is faulty are controversial at best. The more I read, the more it seems that it is just a matter of too small write buffers, a problem that can be negated by a suitable IO controller card... And by some reports may even be limited to certain intel controllers. More investigating of the topic is welcome.

    P.S.: Another interesting technology that got its first commercial run this year was the initial attempt at brain-computer interfaces, incidentally again first brought to market by OCZ with its NIA. I am starting to love this company.
  • Frallan - Tuesday, January 6, 2009 - link

    [quote]...but from reading around the net AT's claim that the JMicron controller in the drives is faulty are controversial at best. The more I read, the more it seems that it is just a matter of too small write buffers, a problem that can be negated by a suitable IO controller card...[/quote]

    A controller card???

    Since when should i have to put a controllercard between my I/O and the Hard drive? I agree if U happen to have 9-10 hard drives as many of my pals but Im on a Laptop and I dount think i have a PCI-slot anywhere to put another controller in.
  • apanloco - Monday, January 5, 2009 - link

    For me the most interesting news was about Nvidia 9300/9400 and most of all the ION platform.

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