AMD was actively showing off its dual-core products at WinHEC, but it didn't have much else on display. The company did, however, have a recent product placement map that showed the Athlon 64 X2 coexisting with the current model lineup, wedged between the Athlon 64 FX and Athlon 64. AMD wants to keep the Athlon 64 FX as a flagship product targeted at gamers seeking the best single-threaded performance.
Curiously, AMD's Turion 64 was virtually absent from the show and occupied a mere two pages of the company's 50-page presentation.
Speaking with ATI about Windows x64 brought somewhat disappointing news. Although ATI will be releasing Catalyst 64-bit drivers at the same time as 32-bit drivers, only R3xx and newer cards will be supported. ATI believes that those with older cards are less likely to have an x64-capable system, so they won't be supported.
Aside from its 64-bit drivers, ATI also discussed Catalyst Control Center. CCC is being tweaked to lower memory usage, and will eventually replace the older driver control panel.
NVIDIA didn’t have a booth this year, but we were able to meet with them to discuss x64 driver plans. Interestingly, 32- and 64-bit ForceWare drivers share 95% of their code, allowing NVIDIA's x64 drivers to support graphics cards all the way down to the ancient TNT2. SLI users will have to wait a few months, though. Windows x64 SLI support for GeForce and Quadro products will arrive mid-summer in the ForceWare 75 drivers. Like ATI, NVIDIA expects its 64-bit drivers to be released at the same time as their 32-bit counterparts.
Samsung was showing off its upcoming mobile hybrid hard drives, which combine NAND flash memory with standard rotating platters. The new hybrid hard drive is being designed for Longhorn in cooperation with Microsoft, and will apparently lower boot times for mobile devices. Currently in the prototype stage, demo drives have 128MB of OneNAND flash memory as a write and boot buffer with a claimed read speed of 100MB/s.
The Samsung drive uses a hybrid write mode that keeps the mechanical drive spun down while data is written to the OneNAND buffer. When the buffer is full, the drive spins up and the contents of the flash buffer are emptied onto the disk. Samsung says this design offers lower drive temperatures and power consumption, better resistance to shock or impact damage, and faster boot times. However, integrating OneNAND flash memory will cost extra. Samsung hopes the benefits will outweigh the drive's higher price.
Although the technology is interesting, don't expect hybrid disk drives to arrive before Longhorn. The drives are designed for Longhorn and require proper OS and driver support. Samsung didn't comment on whether a desktop version of the drive is in the works, either.