We catch up with some our favorite IT and enthusiast component hardware makers at IDF

While much of the juicy material at the 2013 Intel Developer Forum (2013 IDF) was soaked in at Intel's keynotes and technical sessions, many hardware partners were showing their upcoming wares on the show floor.  We caught up with some top enthusiast brands and checked out what's in the pipeline.


OCZ Technology Group Inc. (OCZ) has consistently vied for the title of fastest solid state drives, with a broad product line spanning from budget SSDs to the high-end.  Fresh off a recent power supply family rollout, OCZ at IDF was primarily focused on its SSD product.

While a refresh of the premium Vector SSD family is expected late this year, for now the product mix was mostly the same as the lineup we saw at the 2013 CES in January.

An exception was AEON, a rare 3.5-inch form factor SSD.  We've seen hybrid hard disk and NAND drives in the past, but AEON offers a new twist, featuring a mixture of embedded NAND and DRAM for dramatically reduced latencies.  OCZ refers to the drive as "nonvolatile memory" (NVM), a kind of all-encompassing term for this hybrid drive.


While OCZ did not reveal pricing or the specific DRAM/NAND quantities onboard, it did show that the drive consists of four internally linked circuit boards with attached NAND/DRAM chips.

OCZ Aeon

OCZ is targeting the drives at High Frequency Transaction (HFT) applications.  HTF applications -- such as time critical data mining or stock trading/analysis -- typically require sub-100 microsecond (µs) response times.  OCZ's drive should be more than capable of that.  At past presentations it promised 10 µs responses and 140K IOPS [source].  Expect this drive to pack a high price tag, but given that time critical data mining is essentially like printing money if correctly applied to the aforementioned problems, we're guessing many will happily pay for this aggressive low-latency performance.

II. Gigabyte

Gigabyte Technology Comp., Ltd. (TPE:2376) showed off a mixture of chic mini-ITX PCs and its latest motherboards.

My personal favorite among its product lineup was the appropriately named "Iris" mini-PC, which fits in the palm of your hand and features gorgeous supercar-esque styling, with red and yellow trim colors.  The box supports various Haswell chips up to an Intel Corp. (INTC) Core i7 4770R (3.2 GHz (3.9 GHz turbo), quad-core, Iris Pro graphics).  There's support for up to two monitors, a single 2.5-inch internal hard drive/SSD, a pair of mini-PCI express slots, and external USB 3.0 ports galore.

Gigabyte Iris

It's pretty incredible what Haswell is allowing in terms of design factors, given its cool operation and drastically improved onboard graphics.

Gigabyte also highlighted its use of the Killer NIC chip from Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM) (see the little "K" lettered chip near center below).  You may recall that originally this startup debuted in PCI-express Ethernet card form factors and was met with much skepticism.

Fortunately Qualcomm took over via an acquisition and transformed Killer NIC's promising, but bulky/expensive technology into a tiny die, which can be attached to motherboards.  It's a pretty impressive transformation, to be certain.

Gigabyte - Killer NIC on motherboard

Rather than lock you in to the Killer NIC, though, Gigabyte generously offers an onboard Intel ethernet chip as well.  Enthusiasts can switch which ethernet chip is active, based on their preferences/personal needs.

Gigabyte Thunderbolt II

Many of Gigabyte’s new and upcoming boards also feature Thunderbolt II ports.  Backwards compatible with first-generation Thunderbolt cables, this new communication technology improves data throughput by merging the input and output channels into a bidirectional channel.  

While that won't necessarily be game changing when you're pushing a full load both directions, in the more common instance where you're pushing a load in one direction (e.g. pushing a large file to a Thunderbolt drive), this may nearly double your data throughput.

Gigabyte projector

Last, but not least, Gigabyte showed us a cute mini-projector, which is also a fully function mini-ITX PC.  Dubbed "Brix", this design requires an external mini-SATA drive as it has no internal hard drive, but it does preserve the pair of mini-PCI express slots from the Iris design.  It packs a lighter Haswell chip -- the Core i3 4010U (1.7 GHz, dual-core, Intel HD 4400 graphics).  In addition to its 75-lumen DLP projector, it features dual monitor outputs.

Brix will ship in Q4 2013 and be priced around $699 USD.  A price was not announced for the Iris boxes, which are also expected for Q4.

[All Images (c) Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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