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CES 2010, Wrap-Up: Zotac, OCZ, And SteelSeries

OCZ And The Wrap

OCZ Sees an SSD Future

OCZ originally won hearts and minds of gamers with its memory lineup, but OCZ’s marketing manager Jessica Luken suggested that the market for DRAM modules is getting, well, a little boring given existing limitations, like the voltage restrictions on memory controllers now integrated into Intel CPUs. She noted that there’s little room for innovation, and while the company will continue to offer performance modules, it probably won’t take part in the arms race beyond 2 GHz that seems to be going on with other memory vendors.

At the same time, she seemed quite animated about solid state drives, and OCZ is doing some interesting things with SSDs. Witness two products that exist at extreme ends of the spectrum: its recently-announced USB 3.0 external SSD and a PCI Express SSD card that’s both RAID-capable and expandable.

The USB 3.0 drive will ship in capacities up to 256GB. The PCI Express-based ZDrive 88-series offers expandability through an SO-DIMM-type card with flash on-board. The card is expandable up to two terabtyes, but that capacity will cost a pretty penny; it’s really aimed at professional and enterprise markets. The card also offers RAID support, and full support for TRIM with RAID.

OCZ is also readying a new performance SSDs for desktop PCs, the Vertex 2, which uses the highly-regarded SandForce controller. That drive should offer near-SLC performance in an MLC-based, 2.5-inch package.

On the power supply front, OCZ continues to reap the fruits of its acquisition of PC Power & Cooling. The latest Silencer PSUs, slated to ship soon, finally see PC Power & Cooling adopt slower-turning 140mm fans instead of the more traditional 80mm fans. The units will be available in capacities ranging up to 950W. While the larger fan is a departure from classic PC Power & Cooling designs, the new units are still based on a single-rail, high-current delivery philosophy. They’ll also be 80% 80 PLUS Silver-certified.

CES: A Great Show for PC Performance Geeks

Lost in all the hoopla of 3D on HDTV, more applets on consumer products, and the belief that the mid-sized tablet form factor will somehow become mainstream is the realization of how strong the PC still is.

There are times when I think the era where we build our own PCs is drawing to a close. If what I’ve seen at CES this week is any indication, the future of the DIY PC platform is stronger than ever. Innovative motherboards, SSDs, interesting cases, and new twists on cooling technologies and enclosures all tell the story of a robust future for PC performance geeks.

It’s also interesting to see peripherals connecting to PC in diverse ways. USB 3.0 is the obvious one, but it may not be the only external interconnect on the block. Intel’s Light Peak optical interconnect is starting to win support, though full implementation is a good 9-12 months away. I’m seeing more consumer electronic devices support DLNA, including HDTVs and AV receivers.

So CES is over for 2010. And while I’m looking forward to building new PCs, I’m thinking that this is the year I upgrade my AV receiver and my HDTV. And maybe, just maybe, this iPhone might make way for an Android phone, but I’m not so sure.

It’s a great time to be a tech geek.

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