- My friend ffanatic has gotten two faulty Radeon X800 Pro video cards. The first one immediately shorted out (audible pop) when the machine was turned out. The second one gets power from the AGP slot, because the fan runs, but the card insists that it’s not plugged in (it is). It’s somewhat aggravating, so now he’s going to get the less expensive but hopefully less problematic 9800 Pro, which, if he feels like it, he can easily and quickly mod into the 9800XT with a simple BIOS reflashing.
- Microsoft keeps pushing their release dates back. SP2 is set to be released in August, finally. I have to wonder, though, since even the latest Release Candidate build has some issues. When installed, it gives BSOD, if it installs, and also creates a bug with mouse drivers. Also, the 64-bit operating systems that they promised in the first half of 2004 (to utilize AMD’s new 64-bit processors) have been further delayed from their new December 2004 release to a March 2005 release. This goes for both x86_64 OSs and Windows 2003 SP1. I despise this decision, because the longer it takes for a final release of XP/2k3 x86_64 to arrive, the longer it will be before we see widespread driver and software support. Currently, the big problems facing beta testers and enthustiasts are a lack of drivers and a lack of functional security software (antivirus, firewall). Most manufacturers won’t bother until the OS is out of beta.
- Linux fans were quick to tout that different flavours of Linux already sported support for the x86_64 instruction set and drivers. If only this were really true. Currently, there are four distributions that have x86_64 support:
- Mandrake 10 (requires paid membership
- SuSe 9.1 (requires Professional edition purchase)
- Gentoo 2004.1 (requires in-depth knowledge of Linux)
- Fedora Core 1/2/3 (buggy, difficult to use)
And that’s it. Not exactly widespread.
- DDR2 memory has been making some headway into new system, as has PCI-Express. The new chipsets from Intel use exclusively DDR2 and PCI-Express, in an attempt to phase out the older AGP bus and regular DDR memory, which is approaching its limits in terms of clock speed.
There are issues in both technologies, however. DDR2, in return for higher clockspeeds (800MHz by the end of the year, I’m told), has much higher latencies (4-4-4-8 for a relatively unimpressive clock speed), which at this point negates any benefit of its increased clock speed. While Intel has adopted DD2 with a vigour (the standard was approved in January 2004), it’s archnemesis AMD might simply wait for the adoption of DDR3, which is already being used in some video cards.
PCI-Express, while it has no flaws, per se, wasn’t really needed yet, in a technical sense. The interval from AGP 4x to 8x lead to maybe a 10% increase in performance. Obviously, there are expandability benefits to PCI-Express, but few cards for it, so its aggressive adoption by Intel leaves adopters of their new chipsets stuck buying an expensive X800 or 6800, or waiting for PCI-E revisions older models to hit the market.