Articles & Editorials: Rogue Leader’s Hardware Guide – February 2004

Once again, here is the latest version of Rogue Leader’s Hardware Guide. Let’s get to the action!

Not much is new in the processor field since the last time I wrote a hardware guide, but exciting things are coming. Intel has decided to throw its hand in the 64-bit bandwagon by offering a server-side processor supporting 64- and 32-bit extensions beginning next quarter. Although this is specific to commercial processors, the lack of a consumer level 64-bit Operating System from Microsoft means that 64-bit processing won’t realize it’s full potential for some time anyways. Still, for those looking to purchase a new computer or upgrade an existing one, prices are very cheap for new processors.

In video cards, ATI continues to reign supreme with the Radeon 9800XT, although Nvidia is poised to strike at the throne next month following the release of their next-generation video card, code-named NV40. Stay tuned for more news when that is announced in March.

In other exciting news, PCI Express is poised to make its debut this year, hoping to completely replace traditional PCI and AGP slots by the end of the year. The advantage to this system is the scalability. The 1x speed runs at a maximum speed of 250 MB/s. Speed then multiplies from here, running to a maximum of 32x, effectively a maximum of 8 GB/s. AGP is being replaced by the 16x bus in this new system, doubling the amount of bandwidth available from the current AGP 8x standard. It also allows for all devices to be controlled by a single chipset bridge, rather than several different chips on the board. PCI Express will be making its debut with the launch of the new P4 chipset next quarter.

PCI Express is already being featured by Nvidia, which has announced PCI Express versions of the GeforceFX and Geforce 4 MX, and will undoubtedly be featured in NV40. ATI has yet to announce products to use this technology, but are planning to in the near future.

In RAM news, DDR2 is set to make it’s debut, promising higher capacity and faster I/O cycles meaning more speed for gamers.

So what does all this mean for we gamers? It’s going to be an exciting summer. While we should be outside enjoying the sun, we’ll be working our behinds off trying to save up money for an upgrade with all this new technology available to us to make our games run faster, look better, and push the limits of gaming. Intel and AMD and Nvidia and ATI are headed into the ring for a summer of speed battles, and the winners will be us.

For the latest hardware news, be sure to check Tom’s Hardware Guide and AnandTech for the latest. As always, feel free to post questions or comments in this thread on our forums. Unfortunately my PC is down (the downside to a liquid-cooled PC is having to wait a week to get replacement parts if a pump fails ) so I don’t have access to my account right now, but leave a message on that thread and I’ll do my best to get back to you. Happy gaming, all!

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