The TR Podcast 56: Intel’s ups and downs, ultraportable madness, and Avatar

The Tech Report Podcast Date: December 20, 2009

Time: 1:28:00

Hosted by Jordan Drake

Co-hosts: Scott Wasson, Cyril Kowaliski, and special guest Rob Williams

Download: MP3 (63.4MB) | M4A (86.5MB)

Subscribe: RSS | iTunes

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Sponsored by MSI. Be sure to check out our review of the MSI P55-GD65 motherboard, which earned TR’s Recommended award.

Show notes

After kicking off this episode with a review of James Cameron’s Avatar, the gang welcomes Rob Williams of TechGage, who fills in for TR’s venerable chipset and storage expert Geoff Gasior this week. Cyril then follows up on last episode’s GPU shortage discussion, giving us the latest on the availability of AMD’s Radeon HD 5850 and 5870 graphics cards.

Later, in a round of ultraportable stories, Scott shares his experiences with GPU-accelerated Flash video, installing Windows 7 on his Samsung NC20, and using Acer’s Aspire Timeline 1810TZ ultraportable. A listener question subsequently prompts several Intel-related stories, including updates about the Larrabee graphics processor, the Federal Trade Commission’s recent lawsuit, and the upcoming 32-nm Clarkdale, Arrandale, and Gulftown CPUs.

Send in listener mail, and we’ll answer on the podcast. –

Listener mail (1:03:21):

Larabee as a software platform? – from Cassidy (ssidbroadcast) – (0:55:13):

“Hey Guys – Apparently Larabee is being “downgraded” to a software platform?* Sounds like a major setback for Intel. Could we hear your guy’s take on this?”

Tech discussion:

    Cyril’s Avatar review (0:02:37)- Read more

    Jordan’s Avatar review (0:14:34)

    Availability check: Radeon HD 5850, 5870 drought ends (0:19:06)- Read more

    GPU acceleration comes to Flash video (0:28:27)- Read more

    Installing Windows 7 on a Samsung N20 (0:39:41)- Read more

    Eee PC 1201N shows up at Newegg (0:43:34)- Read more

    Scott’s podcast exclusive review of the Acer Aspire 1810TZ (0:48:43)

    Intel confirms January 7 launch for Clarkdale, Arrandale (1:03:45)- Read more

    First Gulftown CPU may be branded Core i7-980X (1:06:31)- Read more

    Pineview Atoms on their way (1:12:05)

    FTC sues Intel over antitrust violations (1:17:22)- Read more

That’s all, folks! We’ll see you on the next episode.

Comments closed
    • hellstrider
    • 10 years ago

    Good podcast… I agree with you guys. Lets all blame NVIDIA for a current pricing mess. That’s right, NVIDIA. They haven’t dropped prices of GTX 285 one bit, the cheapest one is over $370 on Newegg. So why would a retailer sell a better card (5850) for $100 less?!? They would be right to sell them at $370 and 5850s would still have the better price/performance ratio.

    If you ask me 5850 is still a good deal at $320 or so. If Nvidia would have dropped the prices of their high end cards to match the current performance ratios, ATI would have been able to sell 5850s at the MSPR of $269 all day long.

    • clone
    • 10 years ago

    would it require an excessive amount of work to run the Tech Report Podcast in a seperate window when launched?

    it’s just a minor gripe but I usually surf while listening and over the course of an hour long + episode after opening and closing windows and bouncing around I may accidentally click on a link of interest from the page the podcast is sourced from and suddenly I have to start over and find my spot in order to listen to the rest of the show……. NPR and This American Life amongst many broadcast their shows by opening a seperate app once you click to launch the episode…… just an idea, nothing serious just trying to help.

    • danny e.
    • 10 years ago

    silverlight > flash

      • DrDillyBar
      • 10 years ago

      maybe. not sure yet.

        • Meadows
        • 10 years ago

        What do you mean? Flash is worse than anything.

        • odizzido
        • 10 years ago

        If silverlight actually manages to be worse than flash I will be very impressed. That is no small feat.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 10 years ago


      • DrDillyBar
      • 10 years ago


        • _Sigma
        • 10 years ago

        I laughed so hard

    • NarwhaleAu
    • 10 years ago

    Another great podcast guys – appreciate your work.

    • Freon
    • 10 years ago

    Yeah looks like the 5770 and 58×0 cards are hitting their stride. Actually available, and best performance for the price since the 48×0 stock has dried up. Think I’ll hold off for a few more months, though. 5770 doesn’t seem like it is worth $170 to replace my 4850 since it is good ‘nough.

    Hoping to see Avatar over the holiday.

    • imtheunknown176
    • 10 years ago

    I didn’t like the low light, digitally filmed scenes in Public Enemies. I thought they looked too noisy, like a film shot on a cheap camera with too high of an ISO setting.

    • _Sigma
    • 10 years ago

    Great podcast as usual. Just going to jump and and say something though.

    Environmentalism does not imply that you don’t eat meat, etc. I’m a grad student in Physical Geography (modeling of Earth systems), I care about the environment and do my best to live in a sustainable fashion, but damn, I like my steak.

      • glynor
      • 10 years ago

      Agreed. I thought that comment was a little odd.

      Caring about the environment does not mean you are a PETA activist. In fact, they don’t really have much to do with one another.

        • jdrake
        • 10 years ago

        Yeah… I realize that came off a little weird… long days of audio editing don’t lend themselves well to movie reviews:-)

        I guess I’m basically trying to say that while watching the film – I became way more of an environmentalist than I am in real life.

        Also – they make a big deal in the film about killing the animals for food… which is why I referenced eating meat.

    • Thorburn
    • 10 years ago

    The integrated graphics comments are a little out-dated in my opinion. These days the majority of games do at least WORK on Intel’s integrated graphics.
    Even in X4500HD’s life cycle there have been vast improvements in driver performance and compatibility. GMA HD is a big step up in performance.

      • NarwhaleAu
      • 10 years ago

      If by “work” you mean “Big Fish Games work”, then I wholeheartedly agree.

        • Skrying
        • 10 years ago

        I don’t know… I’ve played WoW, HL2, Portal, WC3, Torchlight and a few others on my laptop (with the X3100). HL2 and Portal (and WoW to a degree) were miserable but they worked.

          • Thorburn
          • 10 years ago

          Having over the past month or so tested the top 25 selling full priced and top 25 budget titles there were from memory only 2 or 3 that either DIDN’T WORK at all or showed major rendering issues.

          My personal laptop is X3100, which at this point is almost 3 generations old in Intel integrated graphics terms, and used to use it to play WoW round a friend house. X4500 represents a step up above that, and GMA HD makes a big improvement again.

          We’ll see that when the Clarksdale reviews hit 🙂

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 10 years ago

    Thanks guys. Yeah I’m kinda confused how a piece of hardware can be changed into a “software platform.” Like, is intel trying to push a new API onto game devs? I think they already have their hands full with Direct X and OpenGL ES…

      • djgandy
      • 10 years ago

      Well I think it means that software houses, most likely ones that make games or are doing computational based work, will be able to get hold of larrabee and start developing with it.

      Personally I think Intel are having issues with the software, and this is probably from a 3D API standards perspective. You’d be surprised how much legacy junk you need to support that has since been deprecated in favour of better methods. All that stuff accumulates in the driver over the years, and Intel are starting from scratch. If you want compliance stickers on your product, (which you do) you’ll need to support it.

      Now if you release the product to more developers as a software platform, they can get to grips with the product but it will still be used as if it was a beta. There will probably be NDA’s and such too. It will widen the exposure of the product, but the product will not be seen as final. If Intel are having software issues, having more people working with the product should help them nail down bugs.

      Also they may have their own extensions such as a texture compression algorithm that works best with their hardware. They’ll need developer support for the hardware to use it and get the performance gain.

      So I guess the overall idea could be this. Rather than having Larrabee’s sit around doing nothing while the driver team fixes API support. Send it out to people in a half working state and try and gain some intial feedback and support for the product.

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