|Superhawk from P67 to Z68|
The Intel camp of the Compucon Desktop Stable consists of 4 system models. They are, from high to low performance, Superhawk Plus based on X58 chipset and 1366p CPU with discrete GPU, Superhawk based on P67 and 1155p with discrete GPU, Diamond Plus based on H61 and 1155p with integrated GPU, and Diamond based on G41 and 775p with integrated GPU. The distribution of features above shows that high end systems have discrete graphics, and that Intel has applied the new generation of technology called Sandy Bridge for 1155p CPU to mainstream computing. Whilst we were enjoying the logic of this distribution from a computer builder perspective and a well developed eco-system, we got hit on the head by an empty glass bottle whilst walking in the park one day recently. Someone must be crazy.
The empty bottle is Z68. What is it? It is a new design from Intel sitting between X58 and P67. What is Z68 intended to achieve? There are 2 new features. One is that it supports integrated graphics and/or discrete graphics. It does not support Dual Graphics as is the case with AMD. This sounds confusing and not readily comprehensible. If we add a discrete graphics card to the machine, we will have the option of connecting our LCD screen to either the port from the discrete card or integrated GPU and the consequences are slightly different. The arrangements are called d-mode and i-mode respectively. Install a software application called Lucid Logix Virtu and the benefits appear. The machine will know when to use which one of the graphics engines but will not combine the power of the 2 engines except for video trans-coding situations. Trans-coding is required when the source of a multimedia file has a different code to the application. The other new feature is for SSD caching which is similar to the concept introduced by Adaptec RAID controllers about 2 years ago. To enable this feature, the machine must have both SSD and HDD. Windows will start up faster and applications will launch and operate faster under this scenario.
Superhawk P67 is intended for power users. Would Z68 be a better platform for power users? Our judgement is negative and we decided to ignore Z68. Suddenly we found that the supply chain was depleted of P67 motherboards which were replaced with Z68. We asked Asustek for the background and were told that the market could not accommodate both P67 and Z68. Asustek expressed support of Compucon with P67 and we were pleased. Time flies and we have come to the point to replenish our stock of P67. There is nothing in Australia and New Zealand and as promised Asustek would be happy to ship P67 from Taipei to Auckland. Upon learning about the express freight cost and the long lead time for delivery, we felt the pain as if the head is hit by a bottle from the sky. The logistics issues are real and we do not have the economic power to change them. Having soothed the pain of the hit, we have decided to go with the flow and adopt Z68 as a replacement for P67. We apologise to our channel members for the news of keeping P67 for another 6 months as released earlier.
The base system price of Superhawk will drop slightly because it does not need a discrete graphics card and will use the GPU integrated with the CPU. There are 2 levels of integrated graphics for Sandy Bridge- HD2000 with 6 graphics cores and HD3000 with 12 graphics cores. If the CPU code has a K suffix, it has HD3000. It has a higher graphics performance than the base discrete EN201S graphics card. So there is a little saving here. However, if we need to add a discrete card, Z68 has charged for a slight premium.
We have a limited stock of Superhawk P67 and Superhawk Z68 will start sometime in September 2011 after it has gone through our Compucon system introduction testing process.