Tuesday, December 21, 2010

CPU’s Year-Sized Review of The Best in Tech

We’ve come a long way since the first issue of CPU. In 2001, Chief Fruit Man Steve Jobs was trying to convince the world it needed to listen to music on an iPod. Intel’s flagship desktop CPU was a Pentium 4; AMD’s counterpart was an Athlon XP. Forget about multicore computing, unless you wanted to operate a system with each hand. Double-data rate SDRAM was finding its way into enthusiasts’ machines, and a little GPU called Radeon had been challenging Nvidia’s GeForce for about a year. Speaking of challengers, Microsoft jumped into the videogame console business, introducing its Xbox to face off against the mighty PlayStation 2, with Nintendo’s GameCube seemingly left to eat the table scraps.

Online, it’s a similar story. People were Googling, to be sure, but they were also Asking and Lycos. . . ing. No one was Facebooking, tweeting, or YouTube-ing. A healthy chunk of folks were still dialing-up the Internet. So, nine years later, how we doin’? Nowadays, it’s iPod iconoclasts who are working at least as hard to persuade you not to buy an iSomething. “More cores” is 2001’s “more gigahertz.” Both Intel and AMD have solidly embraced DDR3, and it won’t be too long before they’ll embrace DDR4. This year, we saw Nvidia finally introduce Fermi, its answer to AMD’s Cypress. Microsoft and Sony, four years after the Wii, leveled the motion-sensitive playing field with Move and Kinect, respectively, as the casual gamer became too big to ignore.

Although all the big names in silicon gave us plenty to talk about (such as multiple hexa-core processors and a 3-billion-transistor GPU architecture, for starters), some of the top tech storylines developed online. Google decided that picking fights against other tech companies wasn’t a big enough challenge and took on the People’s Republic of China itself, announcing it would no longer filter its search results for Google.cn. And Google didn’t stop with China, either, when a number of countries raised concerns after discovering Google’s fleet of Street View cars harvested—inadvertently or not—data from a number of private Wi-Fi networks. The Net Neutrality movement saw its efforts throttled, when the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the FCC had no authority to regulate Comcast’s activity. Facebook became the most popular Web site in the world. It also became a movie and an email address.

Mobile and gaming had big years, too. The iPad had people talking tablets, and The Steve told us we were holding our phones the wrong way. Android gained ground without, interestingly enough, a lot of help from the much-hyped yet woefully undersold Nexus One (you might remember it as the Googlephone); don’t hold your breath for a Nexus Two. The videogame industry continued to state its case as mainstream entertainment, with more than 20 titles shipping 1 million units in 2010 (saying nothing of this year’s late additions, Call of Duty: Black Ops and World of Warcraft: Cataclysm). And, for the first time, it also stated its case to the Supreme Court in Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association, a case involving the legality of banning the sale of certain violent videogames to minors.

But all of this, really, is periphery. You’re here to hear about the best hardware and software of 2010. Rest assured, we have that—pages of that. We have the best processors, motherboards, graphics cards, LCDs, printers, media apps, and more. So, if you somehow discovered how to hibernate for the last 12 months, fear not. We’ll fill you in on what you missed. And in “Best Of The Next” on page 72, we declare our predictions for the best loot of 2011, just in case you’re debating whether you should slip into another yearlong slumber.

So, as we put 2010 in our rearview, get ready to kick off another wild decade in tech. A lot can change in a little time.

Source of Information : Computer Power User (CPU) January 2011

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