Other Technologies and Final Thoughts
At the Abit booth, Fatal1ty was showing other products as well as making an announcement or two about new deals they have signed.
Above is the inside of a new case produced by Zalman to be branded after the Fatal1ty line of products and probably used in their custom system eventually as well. You can see that this case is designed for mass storage with the six drive bays that lie in the bottom and on the side door of the case. The side door swings open, away from the front the case for easy access to the components and has a gloss shine along the outside of it.
Zalman also had two cooling fans on display for the Fatal1ty crew; the one above is a heatsink for your LGA775 or socket 939 processors, while the one below is a VGA cooler.
Even the packaging for the new Fatal1ty coolers gets the branding done very heavily.
Also at the show, Creative Labs announced a new line of sound cards aimed at gamers that will also carry the Fatal1ty name to them. It looks like the Fatal1ty group has been very busy and may turn out to be more successful than many had predicted.
TVs and More
Of course CES is about more than just PC components, but what did I see that raised my pulse a bit? How about this 102′ plasma TV from Samsung?
In retrospect, I wish I had gotten a picture with someone standing next to it so you actually see the size in relation to some thing else. Just keep in mind that 102′ is eight and half feet diagonally from one end to the other.
Speaking of TVs, ATI was showcasing a wide array of televisions that used their Xilleon technology to display clear and crisp images.
And finally, how could anyone cover CES and not show the controversial Phantom console? It was recently named to Wired Magazines Vaporware list, so will we ever see it?
This year’s CES show was impressive enough that I think we’ll see even more PC-related companies take the dive and join in next year’s show. Without a Comdex to go to, CES looks to be the United States’ last chance to have a great technology convention.
We saw some good and some bad trends at CES this year. The PCI Express adoption is increasing, though perhaps slower than anticipated by Intel. On the Intel side, the 925X/E and 915 chipsets are dominating the field and for AMD, the nForce4 series is doing so as well. VIA seems to be having problems with their K8T890 chipset, either on the design side or in the delivery side, but either way, that spells bad news for a usually strong competitor in the chipset market. The SLI support from Asus, MSI and Gigabyte is proceeding, though I was originally told I’d have three boards by Christmas, it’s January and I have only two. The 2nd tier manufacturers are having to come up with unique ideas to sell their boards to a fairly small market (ala DFI’s NF4 Ultra board). With EVGA announcing that they are going to start selling motherboards based around NVIDIA’s chipsets, both AMD and Intel, the market for motherboards should be much more exciting in 2005 than it was in 2004.
On the video side of things, we are still seeing the bane of the GPU business haunting us to this day: lack of chip availability. Both ATI and NVIDIA have the problem, and both are trying to at least be perceived as doing better than the other guy. ATI has a second chance with their X850 and X800XL cards; if they can get them to the market by the end of this month, the appearance of a paper launch may be swept under the rug. Otherwise, ATI’s reputation may continue to fall. NVIDIA needs to get their PCI Express based 6800 cards out the door quickly to avoid the same fate that ATI has in front of them. With the big SLI push that came in November, the fact that you still have problems finding anything but 6600-level cards for sale sure puts a damper on the technology. I know for a fact that users are tired of reading about technologies being released that they can’t buy, and both NVIDIA and ATI need to step up to the plate to deliver for them.
If you were looking for new PCI Express cards to hit the retail shelves, it would seem that the next GPU refresh is going to occur before the current generation of cards in PCI Express format is at the distribution level. We are currently expecting the next cards from both manufacturers to hit before the summer months, so that leaves the impression that chip availability from both vendors will be short until late February to March. Here’s to hoping that’s not the case.
So, while this year’s CES convention wasn’t all bad news, a large portion of it was for PC enthusiasts. PC Perspective will keep digging to get you that latest information on all facets of the industry including reviews and part supplies, so keep reading for more information. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback!