We had a good chat with the guys at XFX
today, who showed us some upcoming products that we can expect to see over the coming months.
First off, you will have heard about our exclusive pictures of the 512MB GeForce 6800 Ultra
that we showed to you last week, and also XFX\'s announcement
, which confirmed that they are to be releasing their version of the same card towards the end of the month.
We found out some more information about this card today, and grabbed a picture of two of them running in SLI mode - not a bad set up, for close to £1400.
click to enlarge
The card will be clocked at 400/1100MHz for now, and have all of the features of a standard GeForce 6800 Ultra. There may
be a faster version released at a later date, with similar clocks to the XFX GeForce 6800 Ultra that we reviewed back in October - this will come with an increased cost, though - something that XFX are trying to avoid to a certain extent.
We managed to sneak a quick NFS: Underground 2 manual run through on the \'Scenic Ride\'
track - which proved quite an interesting experience. Unfortunately, we did not have the ability to force a resolution above 1024x768 on the monitor we used, but we maxxed out the settings - maximum in-game AA was selected, along with 16x Anisotropic Filtering.
As you can see, the 512MB doesn\'t even skip a beat when using the absolutely top-notch settings. It just doesn\'t move. It maxes out even the FX-55 that XFX have specced up the system with - whilst the rig might cost you a packet, it looks as if you\'re going to get unparalleled performance. Expect a full review very soon.
Secondly, on a slightly different note, XFX are moving away from specialising in just video cards in the near future - they will be releasing a selection of storage processing solutions powered by a company called NetCell
. NetCell are a relatively new company that develops intelligent, plug-and-play storage solutions for the professional content creator, small-to-medium sized business and also, most importantly, the consumer market.
They develop add-in cards that feature something that is known as a media storage processor. This processor is capable of controlling up to five Serial-ATA hard drives in many different RAID configurations, including RAID 3. Rather than the standard \'block\' striping that most typical RAID controllers use, the media storage processor uses a \'word\' stripe method that takes minimal amounts of time to build. In fact, NetCell claim that a RAID 3 array can be ready to install an OS on in less than 20 seconds.
The add-in cards are called Revolution Storage Processing boards and will be available on both PCI and PCI-Express x1 interconnects with either three or five SATA ports on the card. The 5-port card is capable of supporting up to 1.6TB of data storage with completely driverless installation of Windows XP, 2000 and 2003 server.
Interestingly, you can create RAID arrays using different sized disks and still gain great performance, and most importantly: a high level of protection. When fully loaded, NetCell claim that the card uses less than 2% CPU load, which is pretty good, considering that most typical
RAID controllers use 25-30% CPU load when heavily stressed.
We\'ll leave you with a picture of the Revolution Storage Processing Board that features a PCI-Express x1 connection and 128MB of local memory.
- Tim Smalley