Day 1 - IntroductionIntroduction
Today marked the beginning of Computex 2003, the second largest IT expo in the world which is held annually in Taipei on the South East Asian island of Taiwan. In total 1,241 exhibitors are in attendance at a total of 2,419 booths.The show was originally set to go ahead on its regular date in June, but due to serious SARS fears in the Asian region at the time, the organizers decided to postpone the event for the safety of Computex goers. About two weeks later, it was announced that Computex would take place in September and here we are now at the show in the busy and exciting city of Taipei.Yesterday we gave you a look a bit of a look at the Taipei city make over for the expo, today we visited XGI Technology, TwinMOS, EPoX, Power Color and Chaintech. As like previous years, it was a busy day but interesting all the same. Let's get the show on the road
, as they say!
Day 1 - XGI TechnologyXGI Technology
Our first stop off for the day was at the Grand Hyatt on the 11th floor where we visited XGI Technology, a two month old graphics chip maker spun off SiS, another relatively large Taiwanese chipset manufacturer. XGI is initially hoping to directly take on nVidia and ATi on all product levels with their DX9 compatible Volari series which cater for Enthusiast with Volari Duo, High-End with Volari V8 and V8 Ultra, Mainstream with Volari V5 Ultra and V5 and Mobile with ZP5.
The full range of graphics chips will become available in November in quantity through its growing add-in partners which currently include Power Color and Gigabyte. Right now XGI are still working on beta 2 silicon and perfecting their drivers for optimal performance and compatibility. Pricing is expected to match nVidia and ATi on all levels, ranging from $99 US to $499 US.
We were given the opportunity to run a stock standard 3DMark 2003 test with the Volari Duo, which is in the simplest terms, is a dual GPU Volari V8 Ultra linked by a 16GB/s bus with 256MB of DDR-2 memory (128MB dedicated to each GPU) which will most likely be very power hungry. Before you jump up and down like we almost did, XGI learnt off nVidia's mistakes with the GeForce FX 5800 Ultra and designed the IC in a way which allows for add-in partners to either use a maximum of 512MB DDR or DDR-2 memory based on their memory clock speed requirements and supply of DDR-2 memory, which is still only in the early phases. With DDR memory, the memory core is designed to run around 375MHz (750MHz DDR) and with DDR-2 memory around 500MHz (1GHz DDR) with the GPU running at 350MHz.
Like we posted in the news today, the results were quite pleasing for such an early product. The Volari Duo scored 5,370 under 3DMark 2003 consistently which is a tad slower than GeForce FX 5900 Ultra and Radeon 9800 Pro - We were told that the high-end Volari V8 Ultra is scoring in the 3k range with the mainstream Volari V5 Ultra in the 2k range. As XGI drivers mature, we expect performance to increase to levels close to nVidia and ATI.
To finish off I wanted to mention an interesting comment from XGI about their dual GPU system. You may expect performance to be blisteringly fast but as XGI explained to us, it is cheaper to produce a dual GPU system since it becomes very expensive to produce such a complex GPU on the allocated die space which according to XGI will become common place among GPU makers soon as technologies continue to advance.
Day 1 - TwinMOS and EPoXTwinMOS
TwinMOS were showing off their full range of memory products as well as wireless LAN products which they are starting to dabble in.At their booth we were firstly shown their new Twister DDR-500 high performance memory for enthusiasts. TwinMOS has only recently decided to enter the high performance memory market to compete with such companies as Corsair and OCZ. TwinMOS still intend on producing their mainstream and value memory but with a fairly big push towards the enthusiast side of things as the market slowly demands more of it.
The new Twister product is an example of this which is pictured above. Using a new packaging technology designed on the T-SOP system, the die and wafer of the memory module are no longer packaged in a ceramic package but rather directly cooled with heatsinks. This will allow a greater heat transfer rate since the ceramic barrier has been removed and the die is making direct contact with a passively cooled surface. TwinMOS are not the first to use this style of technology; we have also recently received modules from Geil which use the same process. As DDR-2 emerges, we are likely to see more and more of this type of thing happening.It remains to be seen just how much this technology will improve overclocking (if any), but you would think it would at least offer something or it would make the hours of R & D pointless.EPoX
Next in line after traveling on the free shuttle bus from Hall 1 was our friends at EPoX in Hall 2, the motherboard hall
, who were showing of their range of Intel and AMD based motherboards as well as their new small form factor systems.On the AMD side of things, EPoX had a display Athlon 64 system on display which was based on VIA K8T800 chipset as well as Athlon XP motherboards:
And on the Intel side of things, we saw a whole range of VIA based Intel Pentium 4 motherboards as well as current Intel based chipset products such as 875P, 865PE and the new Single Channel version of the Springdale, 848P. The most interesting Intel motherboard EPoX had on display would have to be their VIA PT880 which is a Dual Channel version of the PT800:
It was a pleasant surprise to see that EPoX has decided to enter the rapidly growing small form factor market with their new line of "Mini Me" computers with one AGP slot and one PCI slot as well as a total of 8 USB ports, LAN and 5.1 sound, etc. The units we saw were based on the Intel 865G chipset and are similar in size to Shuttle's popular XPC units. Differentiating from Shuttle though, EPoX include a fairly large and quality blue LCD display which shows such system information as CPU clock speed, memory amount, screen resolution and volume level, etc.
The extra nice thing about these units is the fact that you can play AM and FM radio without the need of powering on the system. This is a trend I am sure we will see more and more of as time passes.
EPoX designed the "Mini Me" in a way which allows you to hide the CDROM drive which makes things look a little bit nicer. However, the down side is you won't be able to use slot loading drives with this system because of the nature of the setup. The following two shots show the insides of the system and the EPoX method of dissipating CPU heat from the system to the outside world:
Enough time had been spent with EPoX and it was time to meet with Power Color.
Day 1 - Power ColorPower Color
Power Color was our next visit and they were showing their range of ATI cards from the 9200 all the way up to their 9800 Pro. When we asked to see their Radeon 9800 XT, one rep smiled and said they were not allowed to, confirming that the product exists and is near if in fact Power Color has a card based on the GPU floating around in NDA heaven somewhere.
Power Color has decided to extend their range of products to include motherboards based on chipsets from all Taiwanese manufacturers. For starters, we have a shot of their VIA PT800 based V800A/CD with their famous red PCB which all their VGA line follow.
Next up is a shot of their A300M/DLV based ATI IGP9000 based motherboard for the Pentium 4 which offers Dual Channel DDR support:
Then we have a shot of their Intel 865PE based Micro-ATX with a twist. This motherboard features an expansion port which allows two extra PCI slots and a Silicon Image SATA controller to be added as an option. This is the first motherboard we have seen to use this unique design:
So there you have it, we have another entrant to the motherboard market. It will be interesting to see how Power Color goes.
Day 1 - ChaintechChaintech
Our good friends at Chaintech were showing off their massive range of impressive looking motherboards, graphics cards, desktop in shape of notebook and so forth.First off in the motherboard department we see their Athlon 64 motherboard based on the nVidia nForce3 150 chipset:
This motherboard is one of Chaintech's first to include their new RadEX technology which uses heat pipe technology to expel heat from hottest part of the system - the CPU - which is fairly similar to what ABIT have done with their onboard OTES cooling system. By removing heat from this part of the motherboard, Chaintech claim that it can reduce temperatures by up to 30% which should assist you when you are trying to get as much out of your system.Below you will find a couple photos of the RadEX technology:
Moving away from motherboards we meet with Chaintech's truly impressive line of nVidia based graphics cards. It's seriously amazing to see the type of graphics cards we have at our mercy today compared to boring green PCBs from only 4 or 5 years ago. Where will be in another 4 or 5 years? That question does deserve real thought.I'll let the pictures doing the talking:
Simply lovely!Next in line at the Chaintech booth for some camera bashing was Chaintech's new deceiving desktop computers which are in the exact same shape as a regular notebook. Chaintech told us they will not be putting these products into retail themselves but selling them to system integrators who will re-badge them and sell them as their own.
The nature of this product is similar to ECS' line of I-Buddie products but they are by no means designed to be portable. This become obvious when we realized that the system can only be powered by mains power, no battery in sight and there are no plans to add one.That's it for Day 1, c u 2morrow!