We spent some time yesterday walking through the Technology Showcase at this year’s IDF, and as you may expect much of the buzz surrounds Sandy Bridge-E, its companion X79 chipset, and Ultrabooks. We stopped off to see what MSI, Kingston and Gigabyte specifically had on display on the show floor and also snapped off a few pictures of an Asus Ultrabook that was being shown off during one of our briefings.
First up we have some shots of the Asus UX21 Ultrabook. The all-aluminum Asus UX21 is just 0.66″ thick at its thickest point and weighs only 2.4lbs, yet the machine will be offered in configurations with up to a Core i7 processor, a SATA III SSD, and USB 3.0. The machine also features a 2-second resume from sleep and a glass trackpad. The pictures don’t accurately show just how thin this machine is. The shadows in the shots create an illusion that the UX21 is thicker than it really is. Using the machine for a few minutes proved to be a snappy, pleasant experience. The system was very responsive and navigating through apps was quick. The Windows Experience Index reported a CPU score of 6.6 and the systems had a SandForce-based SSD, so performance should not be an issue when these systems actually ship.
Next up we have a number of items from MSI’s display at the tech showcase. MSI was touting their PCI Express Gen 3 compatibility with current motherboards, showing off their slick-looking Click BIOS II UEFI setup utility, and also showcasing a few of their upcoming X79 based motherboards with a few cool accessories. On display were the MSI X79A-GD45 and X79A-GD65, which have similar aesthetics, but the GD65 sports an 8-DIMM slot configuration and an Intel NIC. Installed in one of the X79A-GD65 boards which was running inside a display case was an upcoming voice-controller MSI is working on. The small PCB was plugged into a PCIe x1 slot just to hold it in place, but it actually connects to the board through USB. Plug a mic into the controller and it can be used to turn your machine on and off using voice commands, launch applications, and also use MSI’s overclocking tools. Customizing commands will also be possible. MSI didn’t have a final price for the device just yet, but reps expect it to be affordable (think under $50) and may be bundled with some higher-end boards. MSI also had a drive-bay mountable accessory that brings USB ports, the OC Genie button and Bluetooth / Wi-Fi capabilities to a system. The design of the accessory shown here may change before the product actually ships, however.
Kingston also had some cool stuff on display. The company was showing off a couple of its recent SandForce-based Solid State Drives, including the new KC100, which is targeted at enterprise consumers. The drive features a different firmware than the one used in Kingston’s HyperX drive that enables more S.M.A.R.T., security, and reliability issues targeted at IT pros and enterprise customers.
Also in Kingston’s booth was a rep from PCAudioLabs showing off his tools on a system running with 16GB of Kingston RAM. The demo was meant to show the benefits from moving from 4GB to 16GB. With the additional RAM in the system, the pro audio tools installed on the test system were able to load many more instruments simultaneously, which reportedly eases composition and content creation. The demo was also meant to be somewhat of a segue to Intel’s upcoming X79 platform, which as we’ve mentioned, will offer 8 DIMM slots on some motherboards. With all of those slots loaded up with upcoming high-capacity RAM, 128GB desktop configurations are going to be possible.
We also stopped by Gigabyte’s booth to see what they had on display. No surprisingly, Gigabyte was showing off a number of X79-based motherboards. Gigabyte had the G1.Assassin 2 in their booth, along with the GA-X79-UD3, GA-X79-UD5, and GA-X79-UD7. As is the case with their current-gen motherboards, the UD3 will be targeted at enthusiasts on somewhat of a budget, the UD5 is a higher-end board and the UD7 is the top-end targeted at hardcore overclockers and enthusiasts. The UD7 also features a newer color scheme which eschews the blue and black of the other boards in favor of an orange and black color scheme. Also note, the UD7’s slot configuration will allow for quad-GPU setups, whereas the other boards can “only” do 3-way SLI or CrossFire. The UD5, however, will be Gigabyte’s 8 DIMM slot X79 board.
Stick around as our IDF coverage onslaught continues.
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