Monday, November 24, 2008

The esoteric word of computer gamers

Enter the YoYotech Fi7epower MLK1610 a desktop supercomputer built by a small British company. The oddly named computer is nearly twice as fast as the next most powerful PC in the world.


The Fi7epower is the first computer to be built around a new Intel microprocessor, the Core i7 - hence the ridiculous name.

The i7 chip consists of four central processing units, or cores, working together. But it also supports “hyperthreading”: each core can, in effect, do two things at once, creating a virtual eight-core processor. Add a number of other advanced facilities, such as the ability to access the fastest type of memory directly rather than being routed through the motherboard, and you have a lump of silicon with the potential to shatter PC performance records.

On the motherboard sits 9GB of the fastest type of Ram and a powerful graphics card, the Radeon HD4870 X2. The Fi7epower comes with a terabyte (1,000GB) of hard-disk memory, but the operating software — the optimised, 64-bit version of Windows Vista — lives on a second, 80GB solid-state drive. This consists purely of electronic memory, so it doesn’t need to be spun up to speed or read by clumsy drive-heads. The result is a start-up time of mere seconds.

No satisfied with its native speed, YoYotech then “overclocked" the i7. By varying the voltage of the processor’s power they managed to coax the operating speed from the Intel-recommended 3.2GHz to 3.73GHz — any higher and the computer crashed. The team also housed the components in a Cooler Master case with three huge fans feeding in cold air.

So who is all this processing power aimed at? Gamers - who else. These people will pay big money for the ability to increase frame rates by even a fraction, which means the gaming market is bucking the prevailing trend in business computing, where the emphasis is on light, mobile machines. They are also bucking the trend of many consumers who want a full working PC for less that £400.

“We’ve taken dozens of orders,” says Charanjit Kohli, YoYotech’s managing director who will start shipping the machines in a few weeks’ time. “Amazingly, customers are asking us to add even more memory and a second graphics card.”

Will I be ordering one? I don't think so - it wouldn't match the decor of my room.

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