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From new chips to super-fast storage and amazing connectivity improvements, the future of computing was unveiled at Computex.
Behold, the future
Sure, most of the big news coming out of Computex revolves around the flood of fresh PCs, laptops, and hybrids. But if you peer beyond the peek into holiday lineups you can catch a glimpse of something even more portentous: The very future of computing.
A small army of companies unveiled a slew of futuristic hardware at Computex 2014—not full-blown devices, but components and chips and connectors that help those full-blown devices become all the more powerful. This year's show saw the announcement of blazing-fast enthusiast CPUs from AMD and Intel alike, better-than-ever SSDs and next-gen routers, a full SSD shoved into an itty-bitty flash drive, great news for 4K displays, and a whole lot more. Buckle up.
Intel's Devil's Canyon enthusiast processors
Intel kicked off the component party with the introduction of Devil's Canyon. These all-new unlocked, quad-core Core processors that are just begging to be overclocked, and Intel's even introduced a "Next-Generation Polymer Thermal Interface Material" to help with just that. Not that the chips are slouches out of the box: The Core i7-4790K is Intel's first chip with a 4GHz base clock, and that can leap to 4.4GHz in times of need. The new Core i5-4690K, meanwhile, boasts 3.5GHz and 3.9GHz base and turbo clocks, respectively.
Intel also announced the Pentium G3258, an unlocked Pentium processor.
Broadwell and Core M mobile chips
Intel's next-gen Broadwell chips may be suffering delays, but the company expects its powerful, yet power-sipping processors to start appearing in laptops and tablets by the end of the y. I, and it manages to be slimmer than the iPad Air while still feeling faster than a full-fledged PC.
We snagged an exclusive first look at the Broadwell tablet. Intel also announced a new line of mobile Core M processors, which mashes up the PC-focused Core architecture with tablet-ready energy efficiency.
Kaveri, AMD's first enthusiast-class mobile APUs
AMD didn't sit around on its thumbs while Intel was announcing all these cool new chips, of course. On Wednesday, the company launched Kaveri, its first enthusiast-class mobile APUs. (APUs feature powerful Radeon integrated graphics that work in close concert with Kaveri's Steamroller CPU cores.) AMD claims these chips can go toe-to-toe with Intel's Core i7 Haswell chips, and even slapped the enthusiast-focused FX branding on the most powerful of these puppies.
While none quite hits 4GHz—these are mobile processors—the Turbo Boost feature in Kaveri cranks clock speeds up by nearly a full 1GHz when more power is needed.
Asus RT-AC3200 router
You want speed? Asus'll give you speed. And, uh, lots of antennas.
The six antennas protruding from the Asus RT-AC3200 gives it an Iron Throne-esque aesthetic, but it's what's under the hood that matters here. The router sports the latest blazing-fast 802.11ac and 802.11n TurboQAM technologies to deliver speeds up to 1.3Gbps per device. and Asus stuffed the RT-AC3200 with all sorts of software to supercharge Wi-Fi connections even more: Beamforming, tri-band MIMO, SmartConnect, and adaptive quality of service bandwidth management all appear on the router's spec list.
SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD
SanDisk's new Extreme Pro SSDs are fast, hitting sequential read speeds up to 550MBps and sequential write speeds up to 520MBps, with the help of some DRAM-powered cache technology. SanDisk's new Extreme Pro SSDs are big, with 240-, 480-, and 960GB capacities planned. But most eye-catchingly, SanDisk's new Extreme Pro SSDs are durable—so much so that the company's offering a downright ridonkulous 10-year warranty with these enthusiast-class drives.
Corsair's Voyager Extreme GTX SSD-on-a-stick
Speaking of ridonkulous, Corsair's Voyager Extreme GTX may look like an everyday flash drive, but inside beats the heart of an honest-to-goodness SSD, with 450MBps read and 350MBps write times, up to 256GB of storage space, and full support for storage-optimization technologies like TRIM, USB Attached SCSI, and SMART monitoring technology to keep an eye on the drive's health. Who needs internal storage when you can carry something like this around in your pocket?
Crucial's Ballistix Elite DDR4 memory
It's finally coming. The next-generation of RAM is due with Intel's Haswell-E enthusiast processors later this year—or, more specifically, its new X99 chipset—and memory makers are ready to hit the ground running. This week, Crucial announced its Ballistix Elite DDR4 memory modules, with twice the bandwidth and up to 40 percent power savings over today's DDR3 modules. (This being enthusiast RAM, the Ballistix Elite modules will also feature fancy custom heat spreaders nonetheless.) The first modules will ship at a whopping 2666MHz and 3000MHz, according to AnandTech.
Look for Crucial's DD4 to hit the streets in August in 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB kits, and don't be surprised if plenty of other memory makers announce competing DDR4 kits in the coming weeks.
Cheaper-than-ever 4K displays
Technology naturally becomes cheaper over time, but Intel's working directly with display makers to drive down the cost of 4K monitors and all-in-ones pronto. The company's partnering with ViewSonic, MSI, TPV, and others to hopefully bring the cost of 4K monitors to a mere—cough, cough—$400 by the end of the year, and 4K AIOs down to sub-$1000 price points. Who knows? If the bet pays off, maybe the long-promised 4K revolution will finally catch a spark.
Intel wasn't the only company showing off 4K-pushing tech at Computex: DisplayLink and IO Data announced the first universal 4K graphics adapter, with a USB 3.0 connector at one end, a DisplayPort connector at the other, and plenty of technical trickery going on under the hood.
One cable to rule them all...
But think beyond DisplayPort. The Video Electronics Standards Association announced DockPort, the next generation DisplayPort successor, at Computex 2014. What's the big deal? If the name didn't tip you off already, DockPort will augment DisplayPort's graphical prowess with the ability to transfer both power and USB data, merging three sets of wires into a single uber-cable.
...or NO cables to rule them all
If you want to really think far beyond DisplayPort, follow Intel's lead: It wants your next PC to have no wires whatsoever. At Computex, Intel's Kirk Skaugen detailed and demoed new wireless charging, docking, display and data transfer technologies that the company is working on in conjunction with a wide array of industry partners. Skylake, the Intel chip scheduled to ship after the upcoming Broadwell processors, will include full support for various technologies—like WiGig and A4WP wireless charging—designed to make that dream a reality by 2016.
But wait, there's more!
That's all we have for this slideshow, but we're only scratching the surface of the vast sea of electronics announced at Computex 2014. Check out PCWorld's Computex category for all sorts of additional goodies, and tune in tomorrow for our list of the most intriguing PCs, tablets, hybrids, and more coming out of Taipei.