The fastest RC cars in the world

Saturday, August 26, 2006

AMD and Intel dual-core prices falling

From TomsHardware:
They did this last Friday, too: Prices for AMD dual-core processors are taking another pre-weekend dip, according to the latest data from PriceGrabber, with the Athlon 64 X2 5000+ falling the furthest since Monday: down $47 (13.1%) to $313. The trouble for AMD is, Intel prices are continuing to fall at the high end.

In our latest CPU price/performance chart, Intel Core 2 Extreme prices have fallen $71 since Monday, down 6.0% to an average of $1,111. Core 2 Duo prices are following nicely, with the E6400 price down 3.6% over Monday to $238, and the E6300 price down 4.9% to an all-time low of $194.

On our estimated CPU price/performance scale, the Athlon 64 X2 5000+ extends its lead as AMD's best price/performer overall, with a plot point that falls nearest to the bottom right corner of the chart. At an average street price of $313, a hypothetical Intel processor with a performance index score of 2.72 would sell for $478.84, assuming all Intel processors were averaged out along the curve.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Video: Self-Parking Lexus LS 460 L

Here's how it works.

1. You drive past a parking spot at 12 mph or less. The four rear and six front sonar sensors detect the cars, and the gap between them.

2. Putting the car into reverse activates the wide angle backup camera. There's a little button on the bottom of the screen that looks like a car parking. Hit it. If the spot is more than 6 and a half feet longer than the car itself, the car enters Advanced Parking Guidance System mode. This is where the magic happens.

3. Crawl backwards, keeping your foot on the brake. If you touch the gas, or the wheel, the mode shuts itself off. Make sure to stay under 2.5 mph, or it'll shut off, too. The wheel, as you can see from the video above, spins itself like its being ghost driven. The sonar system is constantly measuring distance, beeping with more urgency as you get closer to obstacles.

4. When you're in the spot, the computer will announce that parking is complete.

Carbon Fiber Boat Stabs Through Waves

From Gizmodo:
The Earthrace boat isn't some Greenpeace sponsored, treehugging tug. No! It's a treehugging, carbon/Kevlar-hulled, 1080-Horsepower, 78 foot speedboat with a sharp bow meant to harpoon waves. Apparently, submarining through the crests of waves is a lot more efficient than going up and over them. And, as Wired reported, the boat ran a section of its circumnavigation off biofuel processed from the captain's ass fat. Really.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Absolutely sick. Need 2000 hp to go to the store?

There are some misguided folks out there who think that big displacement and technology are somehow mutually exclusive. And then there's Tom Nelson of Nelson Racing Engines. His Project F Bomb engine (a twin-turbo 408 cubic inch small-block Chevy that threw down an evil 1480 HP and 1440 lb-ft) recently graced the cover of Hot Rod magazine, and he has plenty of other fine examples showing his ability to build huge power via forced induction.

The video above shows what happens when 522 cubes of big-block Chevy are subjected to 10 PSI or so of boost and stuffed into a classic Pontiac LeMans. We're going to warn our readers that a bit of rowdy driving occurs past the half-way point, so if you're easy upset by hot-testing a rev limiter on public streets, it's probably best to skip to the next post. On the other hand, if you want to see what happens when 1000 HP is applied in 3rd gear at 20 MPH, by all means roll the clip and prepare to receive some goose bumps. Polite words fail to accurately describe such a diabolic creation. Note, too, just how mild mannered this thing is when driving at sane speeds.

Of course, the best feature about such a setup is its adjustability. It can be knocked down to a mere 1000 HP or so for taking trips to the grocery store on pump gas, and then cranked up towards 2000 HP on racing fuel - if, indeed, the rest of your car (and your guardian angel) can handle that sort of power.

[Source: Nelson Racing Engines; a hat tip to JV]


It boasts 12.9 litres (780ci) of bespoke big block American V8 fed by a pair of the biggest Holley carburettors you have ever seen creates 1,100bhp at 7,000rpm with a stonking 1,299lb-ft of torque to propel a car weighing just 1,000kg.

Video: A flock of birds ingested in airplane engine

Video footage has been released of an Airbus A330-200 beloging to Swedish charter carrier Novair suffering a birdstrike last week.

A passenger onboard the A330 was filming the right hand wing on climb-out from Sarafovo airport near the Black Sea resort of Burgas in Bulgaria last Friday en route to Stockholm Arlanda when the aircraft flew through a flock of storks. Several of the birds were ingested into the engine, as the video from Swedish newspaper Expressen shows.

The aircraft continued its flight and landed safely with only minor damage to the wing.

First on-chip cooling system?

From ZDnet:
Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) have developed a cooling device small enough to fit on a computer chip. This tiny ion pump uses an electrical charge 'rather than liquid or fans to create a cooling air jet right at the surface of the chip.' This research project looks so promising that even a company like Intel has been involved in it. But if there is a working prototype today, don't expect to work with a silent computer anytime soon. But read more…

Apparently, the idea is not new, but it's the first time that it has been physically demonstrated.
"With this pump, we are able to integrate the entire cooling system right onto a chip," said Alexander Mamishev, associate professor of electrical engineering [at UW] and principal investigator on the project. "That allows for cooling in applications and spaces where it just wasn't realistic to do before." The micro-pump also represents the first time that anyone has built a working device at this scale that uses this method, Mamishev added.
Here are two infrared images showing how the new UW micro-pump cools a heated surface. On the top image, the air pump is off, while it is on in the bottom image. (Credit: University of Washington)
But how this pump works? Here are some details given by UW — but remember that Intel is working on it, so don't expect thorough explanations.

The device utilizes an electrical field to accelerate air to speeds previously possible only with the use of traditional blowers. Trial runs showed that the prototype device significantly cooled an actively heated surface on just 0.6 watts of power.

The prototype cooling chip contains two basic components: an emitter and a collector. The emitter has a tip radius of about 1 micron – so small that up to 300 tips could fit across a human hair. The tip creates air ions, electrically charged particles that are propelled in an electric field to the collector surface. As the ions travel from tip to collector, they create an air jet that blows across the chip, taking heat with it. The volume of the airflow can be controlled by varying the voltage between the emitter and collector.
Some of this research work has been shown at the 9th AIAA/ASME Joint Thermophysics and Heat Transfer Conference, which was held in June 2006 in San Francisco. The paper presented there was named "Coupled-physics modeling of electrostatic fluid accelerators for forced convection cooling," and is available in the Conference Proceedings for $850 ($750 for AIAA members). Oooch!

Anyway, you can keep your habits of opening your laptops and desktops to clean the dust around the fans for several years. According to the researchers, several challenges remain before their device can be used by semiconductor companies.

Sources: University of Washington news release, via EurekAlert!, August 23, 2006; and various web sites.

Commodore brand reappears on high-end PCs

From The Inquirer:
IF YOU remember Commodore 64 that means you are not a teenager any more. We certainly spent a piece of our life playing with that machine in the dawn of PC gaming.

Now, the Commodore brand sits on a range of high-end PCs equipped with Nvidia's 7950 GX2 card and an AMD FX 60. Commodore is now a Dutch company and is testing the waters to see is there a market for such a PC with this legendary brand on it.

The company picked a nice looking case packed some high-end hardware to beef up ye olde Commodore logo.

We we're able to try out the the old games on the beast. µ

ATI leads Nvidia in GPU price/performance across the board

From TomsHardware:
In the first test results compiled using Tom's Hardware Guide tests of relative graphics card performance, and average sale prices sampled yesterday by PriceGrabber, ATI-brand graphics cards led Nvidia across the board, with a few noteworthy exceptions. In our new projected price/performance curve for GPUs, ATI takes the lead in both the value and premium segments.

Using the same premise as our tests for dual-core CPU price performance in past weeks, we projected exponential price/performance best-fit curves for all GPUs whose cards Tom's Hardware Guide has tested over the past two years, for both Nvidia and ATI brands. TG Daily then averaged the prices for multiple models of graphics cards using these same GPUs, from manufacturers including Asus, BFG, XFX, PNY, and MSI.

For the new performance index, we chose a 128 MB Nvidia GeForce 5900 to serve as the "1.0" factor. So for example, a GeForce 7950 GX2 with an index score of 17.97 performs almost 18 times better than the 5900, which launched in mid-2003. Although the 7950 GX2 has the best overall performance score, ATI's Radeon X1900 XTX sells for $370.75, which is 26.5% less than what we project a hypothetical Nvidia card would sell for ($504.58) if Nvidia were to make one whose performance score was also 15.23. The 7950 GX2 sells for $575.14 on average.

Despite that, Nvidia's 256 MB GeForce 7900 GT may be the price/performance leader among all graphics cards currently available, with an index score of 15.10 and an average price of $287.69.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Most anti-Google article I've read

So Justin Martin of FSB Magazine doesn't really like Google. He says there is a love hate relationship with small businesses and Google, but it seems all evidence is to the contrary in this article.

Allan Keiter awoke one recent morning to the scary news that his Atlanta company's website was nearly impossible to find on a Google search. His site helps consumers compare cellular calling plans.

Until that morning, the site had often ranked in the top-ten nonpaid results for search terms such as "free cell phones" and "family plans." And like thousands of other businesses, Keiter's company relied on free Google searches to drive customers its way.

"Google is going to bleed away a lot of our sales," software developer Mike Landis, near his office in Asheville, N.C.

Keiter had fallen victim to what's known as the dreaded Google dance: sudden, seismic shifts in search results that occur whenever Google's engineers decide, without warning or explanation, to tweak the software algorithms that determine how the mighty search engine processes keywords.

It's like owning a shop on a busy street corner where all the pedestrians suddenly and mysteriously vanish.

In the months after he fell prey to the Google dance, Keiter saw his revenues plunge some 20%. When he contacted Google for an explanation he was simply told that the algorithm was secret sauce. "There was nothing I could do," he says. "They make changes in their ivory tower, and it ripples through to the little guy."
I think small businesses relying on just one search engine for traffic is a bad idea. Here is some Google love:

Thanks to Google, many startups have reached profitable niche markets at little cost. Take Shark Diver, a San Francisco adventure-travel company that Patric Douglas founded in 2000. Shark Diver ( arranges tours to tropical locales worldwide where shark fans can frolic underwater with their favorite predators.

Douglas, 38, estimates that at most, 100,000 people in the U.S. possess the requisites for this pursuit: diving experience and a crazy streak. By bidding on search terms such as "cage diving" in Google auctions, he has been able to zero in on his target market. Shark Diver is now a profitable business with 20 employees and about $1 million in annual revenues, according to Douglas.

His thoughts on Google? "They're gods. Back in the day, there's no way I could have drilled down to a niche this small."

More established businesses have been able to slash their marketing budgets by switching to search-term advertising. Ray Allen, 64, quit the cutthroat New York City advertising industry to start American Meadows (, a wildflower-seed company based in Williston, Vt.

Ten years ago Allen was spending $300,000 a year on magazine ads and print catalogs to generate about $1 million in annual revenues. Today he spends just $120,000 a year (mostly with Google, but also with Yahoo's (Charts) competing pay-per-click ad service) to generate more than $2 million in revenues. "This is a total revolution," crows Allen.
So hey, Google does good, huh? Not according to this article when they talk to a small book publisher:
Google's recent move to assemble a vast digital library of books is viewed as a threat by much of the global publishing industry. Google decided to forgo the usual process of obtaining permissions from thousands of book companies.

Google stresses that any publisher can keep its books from being digitized simply by sending a list of titles to Google. But that's not good enough for Lynne Rienner, whose Boulder-based book publishing company is 22 years old, has 20 employees, and books less than $5 million a year in sales.

"Google is trying to turn the copyright laws on their head," she says. "Why should I have to let Google know which books they can't copy? They should be seeking permission from me regarding which books they can copy."

Rather than compiling a list of her company's 1,200 titles ("a waste of my staff's time"), Rienner fired off an angry letter to CEO Schmidt. Google responded with a letter agreeing not to copy any of her books. Rienner is unmollified. She worries that she will be cut out of some future digital moneymaking opportunity. "Books are my unique content," she says. "I'm sure the smart people at Google are busy dreaming up all kinds of ways to make money off them."
What most makes this article irritating is the book publishers. Do they not know that billions of people have access to the internet and can therefore search for the most obscure book that would otherwise never be found. Say I wanted to find a book on Purple headed dinosaurs in Cretaceous and Jurassic periods. And there is only one book on that subject. Lets say the publisher of said book didn't want it cataloged into Google's library, would the user find the book? Nope.

What this small publisher needs to realize is that her sales would most likely increase by a significant amount. But all she is worried about is her books being copied illegally and Google making money off her books.

ATI throws down Radeon X1950 series with GDDR4

X1950XTXX1950XTXX1950XTXTomsHardware ran some quick tests:
ATI claims that the X1950 XTX can beat competing dual-GPU solutions by using just one processor. Tom's Hardware had the chance to send an initial X1950 XTX card through our test parcours and found that the ATI card prevailed over Nvidia's cards in six out of ten relevant benchmarks. However, the card achieved this result mainly in low screen resolutions and was able to win only one benchmark in an "extreme HD resolution" of 2560x1600 pixel.

For some users, it may not be the performance of the X1950 XTX that may be especially appealing, as Nvidia's GX2 offers superior performance on large screens. Instead, ATI's cards could be viewed as the better deal at a suggested retail price of about $450 - which is about $100 below the average retail price of Nvidia's Geforce 7950 GX2 cards.


We would have liked to have more time with the cards than we had, but will come back with more reviews. This preliminary look into the single-card operations bodes very well for the red company from up north. At $449 the Radeon X1950XTX is a very nice buy. If you plan an upgrade in the near future, this new addition sweetens the deal.

If you are looking for more for a bit less, the Radeon X1900XT 256 is right up your alley. At a suggested retail price of $279, these look to be a good buy for those who seek a solid gaming card for a less-than-astronomical price.
Extremetech has a full test:
At the end of the day, the worth of the Radeon X1950 XTX comes down to this: Does the improved memory bandwidth you get from GDDR4 really make a difference if you don't change anything else about the card? Unfortunately, the answer is no. In most games, at high resolutions like 1600x1200 with 4x antialiasing and 8x anisotropic filtering applied, the speed goes up by a modest 5% to 8% over the Radeon X1900 XTX. If that's all you get from an almost 30% increase in memory bandwidth, color us unimpressed.

Though the relative speed boost of the new X1950 XTX card is minor, it's still quite an impressive card. It's faster in most games than any other single graphics card, edging out the overclocked XFX GeForce 7900 GTX by a hair. ATI tells us the MSRP will be $449 for both the regular X1950 XTX and the CrossFire Edition card (finally, they're killing the price premium on the CrossFire model). If that's the case, it will cost about the same as most of the non-overclocked GeForce 7900 GTX cards, and about $70 more than the Radeon X1900 XTX.

The performance king of the hill is still the GeForce 7950 GX2, which of course we would expect from a single-slot SLI solution. The GX2 is significantly faster in many games, but it's also significantly more expensive, around $550 to $600. That $100 to $150 difference just about puts it in a totally different price class. If you watch for sales, though, you may be able to find a 7950 GX2 card approaching the $500 price point.

If we were looking for a really fast high-end graphics card, would we pay the extra money for the X1950 XTX? Probably not. The new cooling solution on the X1950 XTX is definitely a bit less annoying, but the recent price drops of the X1900 XTX combined with the relatively small performance increase in the X1950 XTX make the X1900 XTX a better deal. If the X1950 XTX falls in price a little bit, it will be the preferred model.

Unfortunately, we didn't have time to do a thorough, high-resolution test of both ATI and Nvidia's high-end dual graphics configurations. It could be that at extremely high resolutions, ATI's improved memory bandwidth makes a big difference. The company even claims they can beat Nvidia's Quad SLI—a claim we find hard to believe. We'll test that and let you know how it shakes out in the near future.

So when would you be able to buy one? ATI originally planned to launch today (August 23rd) with availability guaranteed by September 4, though retailers could sell cards as soon as they got them. It turns out that there were some supply hiccups with the GDDR4 memory, and the release situation has changed a bit. Today is still the official "launch," but retailers have been told to hold product and make it available everywhere on September 14. ATI tells us to expect a "flood of availability" on that date, and that's a promise they'll have to make good on.


At $450, the initial launch price of the Radeon X1950 XTX is pretty aggressive. If the usual rate of video card price decay holds true, it will be a really nice card to pick up when it drops below $400. In fact, it would be a great deal now if price decay on the X1900 XTX cards hadn't pushed those down to the $379 mark, making them a better bargain (18% cheaper for a 5% to 8% drop in performance). Though this is a very good graphics card, in the current competitive landscape, there are two better options: The "money is no object" customer is best served by the wicked-fast GeForce 7950 GX2, and the "wants the best value for a high-end card" customer should pick up a Radeon X1900 XTX.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

3-D Pac-Man Prank

Dvorak: Google's Free Municipal Wi-Fi May Start Revolution

From Foxnews:

Google has been toying with the idea of implementing free municipal Wi-Fi.

I've always believed that it began as a whim, but became a subtle threat aimed at the major carriers who are saber-rattling over tiered service, threatening to charge Google (GOOG) more for its supposed free ride on their networks.

This, of course, is ludicrous, since there is no free ride for anyone.

Anyway, somewhere along the line, the concept of Net neutrality emerged. This new concept got Congressional attention soon after Google suggested that it could use a Wi-Fi mesh to light up the city of Mountain View, Calif., and then San Francisco for free.

Now to prove that it can do this, Google actually has lit up Mountain View. Anyone driving through the town can pull off the road and do e-mail for free.

It cost Google a million dollars to pull this stunt off, but that's chicken feed for Google — a fact we cannot overlook.

But here is the killer. What if suddenly — from this experiment — Google discovers that localized service combined with localized search and local advertising (specific to the target community, aka Mountain View) can not only pay for the system but provide a new profit center? What happens if that turns out to be an unintended consequence?

If the numbers work out, we're talking about a new gold rush. And Google wouldn't be the only player. Microsoft (MSFT) would have to do this, and so would Ask and Yahoo! (YHOO).

After that — and this is very possible with 802.11n — there is no reason Google couldn't offer an IPTV package and cut out the cable companies, too.

You need only 30 Mbps to do it, and that includes HDTV service. 802.11n, when fully finalized, will deliver 300 to 600 Mbps.

This expansion of services is entirely possible and doable. And it all stems from the phone companies and cable companies arrogantly shooting off their collective mouths about tiered services, along with their cavalier failure to give the American public what it needs — universal and cheap high-speed access.

Now they have to contend with being beaten at their own game. Good luck.
I completely agree with Dvorak on this one. What Google needs to do is give everyone free access to their services, then charge for premium content once users are there. Cable and Telcos will be up a creek without a paddle. This quote sums up exactly how and why this will work:

Many may have forgotten that in the late 90's hundreds of miles of fibre was laid only to end up as "dark fibre" (un used fibre due to the lack of finance/backing to connect to the end user).

Google for the last two years has been slowly buying up the rights to allot of this dark fibre leading to allot of speculation as to why.

Then Google starts building super nodes that fit into a large shipping container.

Now we have Google offering free Wifi on a small experimental basis.

Next year Wimax routers and chip sets hit the consumer market offering 75Mb/s both way speeds and up to 8Km of range from the base station.

If you not seeing the game plan now your blind.

Google is going to do the biggest smack-down within the next three years ever seen and the Telco's will be sitting there going "er what just happened".

The free wifi is actually part of the game plan, google is just waiting for a better technology to finalise the game and with the advent of Wimax next year its going to be check mate and game.

Highway regulators: Car 'black boxes' can't be secret

Proponents of black boxes in autos say the devices promote safe driving. This General Motors sensing and diagnostic module--part of a car's airbag system--is one type of black box.
Road Safety International's $280 RS-1000 black box is designed to help teen drivers stay out of trouble. The box connects to a car's onboard electronic system and measures the car's speed, as well as its cornering and braking forces. The device emits a noise tone if the driver goes out of bounds.
Vetronix makes a $2,500 tool that can download data from General Motors' and Ford Motors' black-box-equipped cars. Critics of the devices say people's privacy rights could be violated in the absence of regulations governing how the data can be used.
Manufacturers are increasingly turning to high technology to differentiate their products in the hypercompetitive auto market. General Motors' Corvette is among the models that come equipped with a black box.

From Cnet:
The government will not require recorders in autos but said on Monday that carmakers must tell consumers when technology that tracks speed, braking and other measurements is in the new vehicles they buy.

Kevin Mitnick Web site hacked

From ZDnet:
Instead of the usual description of Kevin Mitnick, his consulting services and books, the famed hacker's Web site on Sunday displayed a vulgar message.

Online vandals, apparently operating from Pakistan, broke into the computer hosting Mitnick's Web site on Sunday and replaced his front page with one of their own. As a result, four Web addresses belonging to Mitnick, including and, displayed an explicit message on Mitnick and hacking.

Mitnick's name is synonymous with "notorious hacker" for many. He was caught by the FBI in 1995 after a well-publicized pursuit and spent five years behind bars for wire and computer fraud. Today he is a consultant, has written two books, and spends much of his time on the road at speaking engagements.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 invades AMD territory on price/performance chart

From TomsHardware:
The latest round of seasonal CPU charts updates from Tom's Hardware Guide reveals what we expected, now that we've had a chance to test Intel's Core 2 Duo E6400 dual-core CPU: At $247 average selling price, according to today's figures from PriceGrabber, it could be the most powerful CPU you can buy today for the fewest least until figures from the E6300 are tallied.

The Summer CPU charts enabled us to make seasonal adjustments to our performance indices, along with replacing performance estimates with across-the-board real-world figures for Unreal Tournament IV and older processors. The new figures give the E6400 a performance index score of 2.74, meaning that in the five categories of tests we've accounted for - applications, gaming, synthetic processing, audio encoding, and video encoding - the THG test system with the E6400 CPU delivered an average of 274% the performance of an old single-core Pentium 4 2 GHz CPU, which currently sells for about $77 on average.

The E6400 is the lowest-priced CPU that THG has tested whose price falls below our projected AMD price/performance curve. Given the assessed performance of all known AMD dual-core desktop processors, a hypothetical AMD processor whose performance index score was also 2.74, would sell for $537.17. And as our new-format chart shows, the nearest real-world competitor to the E6400 is AMD's Athlon 64 X2 5000+, whose index score is 2.72 but which sells for $360.

SanDisk unveils 8GB music player

From Cnet:
On Monday, flash storage specialist SanDisk cut prices across its e200 line of digital-music players and introduced a new high-end model, the e280.

Priced at $249.99, the e280 has storage capacity of 8GB, or roughly 2,000 songs. At the low end of the line, the 2GB e250 now costs $139.99. The e200 models have a 1.8-inch screen and feature a digital FM tuner and voice recorder.

SanDisk, which holds the second-largest market share in digital-music players behind Apple, introduce a $249.99 MP3 player, the Sansa e280, with 8GB of storage capacity.

That is enough to hold about 2,000 songs, which is double the capacity of the similarly priced iPod Nano, Apple's best-selling digital-music player, the report said.

SanDisk also is cutting prices on its other music players, including existing 2GB, 4GB and 8Gb models, by almost 30 percent. The low-end 2GB Sansa e250 now costs $139.99.
I wonder if this is able to compete with the Ipod Nano. Since this is 8GB and is the same price as the 4GB nano, this should be awesome, right? Not according to this reviewer who has played with the SanDisk unit:
I would've bought a SanDisk, but they don't support AAC, and the scroll wheel is just too small, and it sticks out too far, making the buttons difficult to press. Yeah, I bought a nano 4 gigger.

Farecast launches for 55 US cities

From Techcrunch:
Seattle startup Farecast is taking their airfare prediction technology nation wide today, flights departing from 55 US cities are now available for price history, predictions and buy/wait recommendations. The site also offers RSS feeds for automatically tracking fares and predictions over time.

Farecast received $8.5 million in funding from Greylock Partners, Madrona Venture Group and WRF Capital. Development and testing of the site has taken 3 years. The site was named by Time Magazine as one of the 50 coolest sites on the web this year. It’s a real crowd pleaser and I’m sure many people will be interested in trying their services out now that they’ve extended their reach.

Updated price/performance chart reflects single-day AMD price drop

From TomsHardware:
Besides an obvious size advantage to the new chart, here's what we're doing differently now: Gone are the fishing-line-looking marks connecting the different product lines, which some of you said were making the chart more difficult to read, especially with the addition of the Pentium EE series to the mix. In their place are labels which point to the current price/performance plot points for each dual-core processor we've tested.

All you need to remember are two colors: Intel is blue, AMD is green. All the current plot points are dark; all the plot points for the past (in this case, one month ago) are light. Intel's points are squares; AMD's are triangles. Only the current-day plot points are labeled, but to find the one-month-old plot point for the same processor, look for the lighter-colored point that rests along the same vertical line as the dark point. For example, the dark blue box in the upper right corner represents Intel's Core 2 Extreme X6800, with an index score of 3.51 and an average price for today of $1,195. Directly below it on the same vertical line is a brighter blue box that represents the Core 2 Extreme's price one month ago ($1,072), when pre-orders were being taken.

The only two lines remaining on the new chart are the trendlines - the curves themselves, which are exponential best-fit curves whose points most closely approximate the actual prices. As the prices change from day to day, so do the performance curves. You can clearly see which processors fall way off these curves - AMD's FX series, and Intel's Extreme Edition dual-cores with hyperthreading. We've heard from some of you that either or both series should be removed from our estimates, and we're taking your advice under consideration. But we also heard earlier from others who have said, as long as we're testing the FX series, we should also be including the EE series.

The two curves clearly carve out Intel's and AMD's respective leadership territories on this map. Currently, they intersect at about $480 and about 2.65 on the index. To the lower left of that point is AMD territory, where anything below that price will generally yield better performance per dollar from AMD than Intel. But in recent days, Intel's Pentium D 820 has been challenging the AMD curve at about $115 - a theoretical AMD equivalent would sell for $90.71. Meanwhile, prices for Intel's popular Pentium D 805 have plunged to $93, according to PriceGrabber, although Tom's Hardware Guide has yet to test the 805 for performance.

What are the best performance values on the market today? There are two divisions right now: AMD has the low-price market, while Intel has secured the high ground and is aiming for the middle ground. While the lowest-end AMD dual-core processors have the highest price/performance value on the low end, both Intel Core 2 Duo processors show exceptional value. The reason: Perhaps AMD's best price-performer today is the Athlon 64 X2 5000+. At $360 and an index score of 2.57, it sits more than 21% below the Intel curve. But for just $24 more, you can buy a Core 2 Duo E6600 with an index score of 2.91 which is like getting an extra 34% of a Pentium 4 2 GHz at just 30% the extra price.

Tom's Hardware Guide provides us with the performance data we use for our estimates. Intel has yet to make Core 2 Duo E6400 and E6300 units available for testing. When they do, we admit you could see the Intel price/performance curve taper down a little bit, with E6300 prices currently at $218 - very price-competitive even with the Pentium D 950 at $236.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Shuttle develops XPC-based car information system

From Digitimes:
Taiwan-based small-form-factor (SFF) PC specialist Shuttle appeared at the first standalone CarTronics show this weekend at the Taipei World Trade Center (TWTC), introducing its new R&D project, which targets the car-electronics market. This year, the company plans to invest about US$2 million in developments of car-use information systems based on its well-known XPC concept, according to Ken Huang, Shuttle vice president of systems development.

Shuttle's contribution to this year's CarTronics is represented by a luxurious Mercedes S-Class sedan equipped with a prototype of the XPC-based car-use information system. Placed between two rear seats, Shuttle's XPC SN21G5 mini PC performs as a key part of the system that functions as a platform for applications, such as GPS-based navigation, voice control and entertainment services. It also enables communications via Skype, MSN and other software, using 3G wireless modem technology, and in the future, Shuttle's car PCs will support WiMax, Huang said.

The prototype at CarTronics includes AMD's Athlon 64 3700+ CPU, 1GB of DDR DRAM and a non-standard power supply unit to support 12V DC power supply in vehicles. It runs on the Windows XP Professional operating system (OS), with the SP2 service pack and voice recognition engine installed, but later on, Shuttle's car-use PCs will utilize the upcoming Windows Vista OS, according to Huang. In addition to the mini PC, the system includes three LCD monitors (two in front of back-seat passengers and one as a part of driver's dashboard) and four webcams. Its audio subsystem consists of two subwoofers, thirteen speakers and four microphones. Input devices are represented by two keyboards, which are mounted into driver and front-passenger visors, and one trackball. Optional units can be added using USB ports of the mini PC, while a printer, as displayed at the show, can be placed in the rear cargo area.

Shuttle's partner to showcase the car-PC concept at CarTronics is Taiwan-based Alsolox, which is focused on car-security solutions. According to Huang, the two companies recently started working together on the project. He added that Shuttle will likely begin more actively promoting its car-PC solutions by the fourth quarter of this year, targeting car dealers in Taiwan at the initial stage. Then, the company will approach car vendors and expand the business to overseas markets. According to Huang, Shuttle currently expects that car-PC solutions may start generating sales next year.