Our first day on the Computex show floor saw a whole pile of SSDs, some innovative use of ATI graphics and one of the craziest cases we have ever seen
Computex 2010 has already surprised us by the lack of the obvious. While many are talking up the tablet PC concept, very few companies have actual products to show off.
The two major announcements, ASUS' EEE Pad and MSI's 'Wind Pad' (the actual name is still to be confirmed) are both Wintel solutions, based upon Intel's Atom processor.
The march of Android
The problem is that while ASUS is using an embedded variant of Windows 7, the software is still overkill for the simpler usage patterns expected from Tablets. This means that a lot of the industry is expected to unite behind Google's Android operating system, and there currently just aren't any such products around - as NVIDIA's CEO Jen-Sen Huang stated during his press conference, these products are coming and should start to appear in the US fall timeframe.
The real star of the show
With tablets a non-issue, it seems that the real star of Computex this year is the Solid State Drive. Stand in the middle of the gigantic Nangang exhibition hall and you are guaranteed to see someone hawking flash based media wherever you turn.
The problem with everyone doing SSDs is that there are only a handful of ways to differentiate one's product. Performance is almost entirely down to the choice of controller used in the drive (Sandforce = Good), while pricing and capacity is determined by the flash manufacturers.
It is unlikely that everyone getting onboard SSDs will lead to cheaper product, and we get a sneaking suspicion that the sudden influx of manufacturers into the market will ultimately lead to aquisitions of controller manufacturers in an attempt by established manufacturers to solidify their position in the market.
|AData's SSD which pairs the normal SATA ports on the rear with a USB 3 connection on the side.|
There were some products that stood out from the crowd though. While a seemingly simple addition to the SSD, the combination SATA/USB3 drive shown to us by ADATA in Gigabyte's USB 3 room was impressive. This blurring of the line between SSD and portable drives like USB sticks is only going to increase, as available bandwidth allows for high performance over both SATA 6G B/s and USB 3.
3D push gets serious
What has also suprised us is that the push into 3D seems pretty serious. We saw ASUS announce several models of PCs that support NVIDIA's 3D Vision technology.
The show has many stands that have 3D Vision running, but one of the most surprising products was actually a 3D all in one system from MSI. This system uses a similar active shutter glass technology to NVIDIA's but runs on an ATI graphics chip. This is the first product we have seen that has paired 3D with ATI's hardware, and demonstrates that this isn't just something that NVIDIA can do.
|MSI's GUS is an external graphics card, designed to connect via Expresscard to notebook PCs.|
MSI was also showing off GUS (Graphics Upgrade Solution). This is an external video card designed for laptops. It connects via an Expresscard interface, so is operating natively via PCI-Express, which allows for the best possible performance. Unfortunately Expresscard is only a single-lane solution, so GUS doesn't use high end graphics cards, but the demo of Street Fighter 4 showed pretty decent graphical performance from a laptop.
|The Pitstop T1 is this year's crazy concept case from Lian-Li. We checked, and yes, the company does actually plan this to be a shipping product, not just a concept.|
As the day came to a close we swung by the Lian-Li stand to check out its annual concept case. This is somewhat of a tradition, and this year the company has taken things in a completely new direction. Its Computex concept is a Mini-ITX form factor that looks like a giant metal spider. It is not a case per se, more a mount for a PC. The motherboard sits on top of the body, power supply mounts at the rear and there is room for a slim optical drive and 2.5in hard drive or SSD under the main motherboard platform. While fairly impractical, it is one of the more eye catching products that we have seen on the show floor.
More from Computex 2010
Computex 2010: Nvidia hails Tesellation and 3D as future
Photos: Cutting-edge parts for your PC, from Computex 2010
Computex 2010: Intel reveals new Atom chips