David vs Goliath.. the battle continues.

I’m referring to no other than AMD and Intel.  AMD has held the processor crown from the latter part of 2005 through most of 2006.

Things are about to change, for the better.

As I previously stated, Intel is releasing their new Core 2 Duo (codenamed Conroe) processor on July 23rd.  I was skeptical as to how much of a performance increase could be expected until I read this article.  Conroe outperforms AMD’s best processor by up to 50%.


AMD is not hiding in a cave either, as they are planning significant price cuts on their X2 and Sempron processors on July 24.  AMD has already cut the prices (mid-June) on their AM2 Athlon 64 processors by up to 50% — most likely to persuade consumers into purchasing their CPU’s before July 23 😉

AMD also has another trick up its sleeve: reverse hyper-threading.  In Layman’s terms: reverse hyper-threading allows certain software titles to dynamically utilize the dual cores (eg. 2.8 GHz each) in a processor as a single logical processor (eg. 5.6 GHz).  All AM2 processors have support for reverse hyper-threading, but it won’t be active until Microsoft releases a new processor driver to activate the feature.? Being a software driver, it probably won’t work in Linux in the same manner that Intel’s HT implementation did.

After the Intel NDA’s expire on July 28th, we’ll see if AMD retains its crown in the CPU world 😉

Windows Vista Beta 2… Unveiled!

After days of waiting patiently, I finally decided to stay up until the wee early hours on a Friday evening to download Microsoft Vista Beta 2 at breakneck speeds.

Was it worth the wait? Well, I’d have to say, ‘No!’. In fact, 30 minutes after I’d installed it (to take a couple of pictures), I nuked it from my system. Read on to know why. (Yes, I actually took pictures — I wanted to test out the white balance on my camera.)

Let’s review the Vista installation.

The Vista installer features a clean interface, but hides most of the background tasks from the user. It’s too simple in my opinion. Advanced users, such as myself, prefer to see what’s happening ‘behind the scenes’. Anyways, a couple of mouse clicks later and I was on my way. I decided to install Vista on one of my cleanly formatted drives, a Western Digital Raptor 74 GB 10,000 RPM drive. The installation procedure took 20 minutes. Not bad. That includes the time the Vista installer took to copy the installation files from my 16x DVD-ROM to my primary hard drive (another identically configured Raptor).

Here’s the first screen you’ll see after installing Vista on your system (well, I opened the Device Manager — you’ll see why below):

Welcome to Vista

1. I was very disappointed that Vista did not include a driver for the legendary 3Com 3C905C PCI ethernet card. Notice the question mark beside the Ethernet Controller (click on the picture to have it maximize in your browser). Maybe, 3Com is to blame for not supplying newer drivers. If that is the case, I will be prompted to purchase Intel ethernet cards in the future.

2. My Envy24HT (VIA chipset) based sound board wasn’t detected either. Yes, another annoyance. No network connectivity + no sound = Useless Windows.

3. The user interface. Bravo. I have to hand it to Microsoft for the user interface — yet another thing that Microsoft copied from Apple (among other things).

Resource usage:

The process manager -- fresh install of Vista.

I guess Microsoft wasn’t joking about the minimum requirements. 512 MB of RAM just won’t cut it for Vista. Notice the amount of RAM in use in the image above. That’s a fresh, out-of-the-box install. Guess what happens when you install a virus scanner and other resource hogging programs? (Yes, you can tweak Windows to use less RAM, but most users can’t be bothered). Microsoft needs to make Vista more efficient — it’s a resource hog.

Now, let’s examine the disk space utilized by Vista:

Windows Vista disk space usage

38,181 files in 6,768 folders, occupying 7.54 GB of space. Windows Vista just dwarfed Windows XP by over 300%.

Bottom-line: I think it’s best to stick to Windows XP for the foreseeable future. According to a recent survey, 71% of respondents thought that Vista’s minimum requirements were a bit too excessive. After evaluating it first-hand, I tend to agree.


Microsoft Windows Imaging installer unveiled.? The article essentially provides some insight into why Microsoft went with the simple installation interface, and also the fast installation times.

Windows Vista: Customer Preview Program

Yesterday, Microsoft made Windows Vista Beta 2 available to the public through its new Customer Preview Program (CPP).

It’s an interesting initiative that deserves some merit, but I think Microsoft underestimated how many downloads they would receive following the initial announcement.

Let?s just say that Microsoft had to resort to sending out an announcement from their Switzerland headquarters regarding the availability of the beta today.

Let?s do some math.

100,000 users wanting to download a 3.2 GB ISO of Vista + several high-bandwidth Akamai content delivery servers all maxed out = Microsoft putting up a web page stating that they don?t have enough bandwidth available to serve the requests.

Maybe, Microsoft should have been smarter and set up a torrent to distribute the rather large ISOs.? Anyways, I’ll let you decide.

If you want to get in on the action, do the following (just be prepared to wait a very long time to download the beta):

1. Run the Upgrade Advisor to ensure your system can handle Vista.
2. Ensure you have a DVD writer installed.? Blank media helps 😉
3. A fast broadband Internet connection is a must.
4. Register to download the Windows Vista Beta 2 DVD ISO.

Have fun!

More Intel Price Cuts

Just when you thought it was safe to pick up an Intel CPU, there’s news of yet another price cut. Don’t get me wrong. Price cuts are good. Well, very good for consumers.

Personally, I’m waiting until Intel releases their new Conroe (aka Core 2 Duo) CPU before purchasing any new components for my desktop system. On the other hand, I may just delay my purchases until Windows Vista actually ships to OEMs. That would be good for two reasons: 1) first-hand reviews of the RTM version of Vista and 2) there will be more price cuts (I bet you saw this one coming).

Intel issued price cuts on four of their LGA775 chips this past Sunday. Another price cut is due on July 23rd, the tentative release date for the Core 2 Duo CPU. Hopefully, this gets the ball rolling for AMD price cuts.

From a price/performance perspective, I think most desktop users are better off going with an Intel dual core LGA775 CPU at this point in time, that is until AMD issues significant price cuts on their dual core X2 CPU’s.


Intel to cut prices on processors by up to 60%.