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DigitalLife Photo-Showcase, AMD 4x4 and More
Date: Oct 15, 2006
Author: Dave Altavilla
Show Opener, Carmen Electra and The Blue Tooth Sig?


This year's DigitalLife show in New York City seemed to be just a bit more festive, a bit more "real-deal", or perhaps we should just say a bit more well-attended from both an exhibitor and audience perspective?  In fact, since Ziff Davis picked up the gig, it has turned out to be like a mini-CES here on the east coast. There was also a big focus on gaming and entertainment this year, perhaps picking up where the dilapidated and now defunct E3 left off.

As always, there were sights to see and excitement in the air.  Or was that just Carmen Electra?  Mmmm...Carmen -- Fetching as ever.  Sort of like the effect she has on most men, turning them into rabid dogs. Perhaps that's where the term "fetching" originated when speaking about the fairer sex. Fetching, as in, "here boy, fetch" (pant, pant).  Ahh, but we digress, there were many other exhibits to take in, though Carmen beseeched us to hang with her, flanked on either side like the techno-studs we truly are.  "Sorry sweets, we have business to attend to -- people to meet, technology to immerse ourselves in, business plans to pick apart like surgeons or coroners", depending on whom we were talking to.  Right-right, the show must go on.  All apologies Carmen, we'll see if we can squeeze you in for a decaf moca latte later after we meet with a few important folks.  Ta-ta for now honey!  It's show time.

Blue Tooth SIG (Special Interest Group):

Our first encounter of the non-Carmen kind came in the form of a small USB key drive containing product highlights of technology partners of the Blue Tooth SIG, like Nokia showing off their new cellular bling, the E61 -- 3G Wireless, WiFi and of course BT enabled smartphone. 

The E61 could very well give CrackBerries and Treos a solid case of indigestion.

Mot's IHF1000 hands free car kit is a pretty swank multi-function device that pairs with BT enabled phones, dials by name, number or little-black-book hottie coefficient rating. 

OK we made that last one up but it's got Blue Tooth goodness and a ton of features that will keep you on the road so you don't have to talk on the phone, drink a double espresso and drive with your knee.  Don't say you've never done that either. 

Regardless, we were in search of heavy gear and the DL extravaganza came packin'...

Voodoo-HP, NVIDIA, Crucial, Mac, Wii and PS3


HP Voodoo PC:

At our first stop we were greeted by the good folks at HP showing off their latest wares including a fully decked out Voodoo OMEN Core 2 Duo-based rig.  But where was Rahul?


"Imagine the possibilities" if you were acquired?  Mr. Sood certainly let his imagination run wild and we're sure a dream came true here and there too.  Yes, that's the HP logo and things are progressing well for the Voodoo assimilation, so we're told.  Hopefully they'll be able to maintain all the many good things that make their end product so impressive to the true-blue enthusiast segment.



NVIDIA's booth was decked out with a ton of mobile and notebook gear underscoring the company's recent announcement of the GeForce Go 7900 GS and GeForce Go 7950 GTX product lines. 


That's a little Dark Messiah action on an Alienware Aurora m9700 with dual GeForce Go 7900GS MXM cards under its hood.  NVIDIA Product Manager Rick Allen deals out a bit of pain and F.E.A.R on a new Dell XPS M1710 notebook to the far right.  Both machines were running at 1920X1200 and with a little 2X AA smoothing the pixels, things were crispy clean and frame-rates buttery smooth.


Crucial, Mac And Nintendo Wii:

At the left is Crucial's booth with an "Install As Many Memory Modules As You Can" contest going on.  Please. We could do this with our eyes closed, one hand tied behind our backs and without even a ground strap.  Probably why they wouldn't let us enter the contest.  The nerve!



At the upper-right is a MacBook Pro running, you guessed it, Windows Vista.  It's like hell froze over, pigs flew and the Red Sox beat the Yankees to move on and win the World Series.  Oh wait, that really did happen.

Finally, Nintendo's Wii system was vulcanized in a plexiglass case never to be poked or prodded by any of the greasy-fingered audience.  As an aside, Sony had their PS3 up and running on a wide-screen as well.  The graphics quite frankly were a big yawn in the one Basketball game that was being played.  Xbox 360 owners won't be jonesing too much there we don't think.

ATI, AMD 4x4, Ageia, Alienware and The Wrap-up


The Doublemint Twins - AMD and ATI

ATI gave us a briefing behind closed doors about their next generation mid-range products and we'll be sharing full disclosure with you on these in the next few days actually.  ATI officials were also very confident in their upcoming next gen DX10 capable GPU.  With rumors and details of NVIDIA's G80 running rampant, they seemed undaunted.  Cool. 

ATI Triple-head Display

AMD 4X4 Rig

AMD 4X4 100% Load Multitasking

One system that caught our eye was ATI's triple-headed setup running three independent desktops on each with different apps in motion as well.

Besides all of the Intel fan-fare at the show around Core 2, which came as expected, AMD was busy briefing the press (in private sessions) on their 4X4 platform technology, affectionately dubbed "The Quad Father".  The center shot above shows a 4X4 configured system running with a pair of 2.6GHz dual core Athlon 64 FX-70s (although this was not officially confirmed).  Word has is that we might see cores up to 3GHz, with the FX-72 running at 2.8GHz and the FX-74 being the top-shelf behemoth model.  On the wide screen above, AMD has two instances of City of Heroes running, two HD video streams playing, including the Battlefield 2142 trailer, and a video conversion going on all at the same time.  As you can see all four cores are pegged at 100%, but we navigated around windows with all this running and things were pretty snappy with some resources still available. 

What's really going to be interesting in our opinion, is how 4X4 scales performance-wise versus Kentsfield.  Recall that Kentsfield is essentially a pair of Core 2 Duo cores on one substrate sharing a single 1066MHz front side bus. Conversely, 4X4 is a pair of dual core Athlon 64 X2 processors each with their own dedicated Hypertransport link.  That's a dedicated, bi-directional serial link for each core.  We would suspect that the 4X4, though the platform will most likely be more costly, will also probably scale more efficiently.  We'll have to see when we get our test system in the lab shortly.


Still swinging for the fences, Ageia was show-casing a game called "Stoked Rider" that had a fairly impressive particle system for snow and was even more impressive to see in action.

Another note-worthy sighting at the Ageia booth, was their new PCI Express version PhysX card.  These cards will be of the PCIe X1 variety and might give you a reason to actually use those spare slots on your new motherboard.  Incidentally, the board doesn't have a bridge chip of any kind on it.  So it seems as though Ageia's PhysX engine has a native PCI Express interface on die.  They'll need it.  Those boards need to be priced competitively.  Honestly, we think the company is ripe for an acquisition but for now they're definitely still gaining traction with developers and OEM partners.


Then of course there was Alienware, probably one of the most well-attended booth areas at the show, with Hollywood celebs, a LAN gaming area and also an Alienware AMD Quad Father based system of their own on display.


Alienware was running the same quad-core stress test that we saw in the AMD suite, but their Aurora Quad Father system was impressive and super-sexy as per usual. Another sublime and svelte offering from Alienware was their DHS A Home Theater PC (middle shot, top row).  HDCP-ready with integrated NVIDIA graphics and an Athlon 64 X2 dual core under the hood, this sleek little number has RAID-ability and will blend in with the rest of your A/V components nicely.  Finally, yes that's Jason Mewes from the movie "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back".  God helps us, they'll let any sort of riff-raff in this place.

That about wraps-up our quick little tour of duty at this year's DigitalLife show in NYC.  We'd like to encourage more major OEMs to offer a presence in this relatively new, up-coming high tech consumer-oriented venue. Hey, it's in New York.  You can't go wrong there.  The Big Apple, city of all cities, home of Robert Dinero and the Gotti family.  Come to the show, or they just might bring it to you, capiche? 

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