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May 15th, 2012

Apple scores the most headlines, but far more people in the world use Windows PCs than Macintoshes. 2011 brought speed increases for buyers of some new PC and Mac models, but progress by Intel was nearly canceled out by the flop of AMD’s so-called “Intel-killer” chip, nicknamed Bulldozer. Still, Intel helped the iMac achieve power rankings in Mac Pro territory with the latest, third-generation “Core-i” chips.

Ironically, now that a basic PC desktop computer rental can sport a high-end CPU – and since AMD is no competition – speed gains are no longer Intel’s “goal #1.” The newest Core i7, the fastest PC processor ever, is only marginally speedier than its predecessor. Even with two of its six cores turned off, it powers some iMacs past a Mac Pro rental in speed tests. That’s why Apple is reconsidering the future of its tower models (more in an upcoming blog).

What’s coming in 2012?

The modest progress in CPU power was widely expected, but so too were advances in graphics processors – and Android tablets were going to take over the world at $99, remember? For 2012, the following developments seem likely:

• CPUs will take a back seat to GPUs (Graphics Processor Units);

• Android tablet makers will finally field a worthy competitor to the  mighty iPad rental; and

• light, thin laptops from numerous makers – with SSDs (Solid State Drives)  – will try to knock off the “original Ultrabook,” the MacBook Air.

The CPU/GPU scene

There won’t be a big increase in core count or clock speed in 2012, with the former number maxing out at four (“quad-core”) and the latter at 3.5GHz (3.9 with Turbo). But potent integrated graphics means speedy encoding times, and images will get to plasma display rentals or other high-end monitors with greater speed, resolution and clarity.

Summarizing PC hardware trends for 2012, we expect to see:

• the race for the fastest PC chip to slow down, as Intel’s Core i7 outperforms the competition even with two of six cores turned off;

• graphics performance to make gains in 2012, meaning Apple Cinema Display rentals will look better, react faster, reproduce color more accurately and use less electricity; and

• the new Ultrabook form factor to pack desktop power into an under-two-pound, half-inch thick form factor. (If you want to see the future now, check out the Asus Zenbook. More on Ultrabooks in Part 2.)

At CRE, we serve experts in post-production who need render farms and other high-end gear, just as we serve marketing managers who need trade show convention rentals. If you know what you need, use our Quick Rental Quote form. But if you need help to overcome today’s bottlenecks – and prepare for tomorrow’s – then one call or e-mail puts you in touch with an expert Account Executive. Just let us know how can we help!

Watch for PC Progress in 2012, Part 2 on Thursday, May 17th.

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