Computex 2014 kicks off June 3: Seven trends to expect at the year's biggest PC event


Computex 2014, the annual technology extravaganza held in Taipei, Taiwan, is just around the corner, June 3 to be more precise. But we are sure that you will be seeing a lot of announcements a day earlier as is standard. Unlike the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which takes place in January, what's showcased at Computex most likely makes it to retail markets within months.

 

Computex has a special place in our hearts as this is one technology expo where computer components get most of the limelight. For a change, you will be hearing more about motherboards and processors than say smartphones or tablets. In an age where everyone says the PC is dead, it feels good to see events such as Computex to prove the doomsayers wrong. So what can we expect to see in this edition of Computex?

 

Intel's new CPUs
Intel has already given an indication that it will be launching its Devil's Canyon CPU in Computex in its Game Developer Conference event earlier this year. The new processors are expected to be based on the same 22nm Haswell architecture, but will sport an improved feature set. These processors along with the 9-series chipset based motherboards released earlier in May, will be an ideal upgrade path for someone with a 3-5 year old machine.

 

Computex 2014 kicks off June 3: Seven trends to expect at the years biggest PC event

Intel's Devil's Canyon CPU will be released at Computex

 

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has already promised that Intel 5th-gen Core processors - Broadwell processors - will be ready in time for the holidays. The Broadwell line up represents the ‘tick’ in Intel’s tick-tock cadence which means that we will only see a die-shrink from 22nm on the 4th gen Haswell to 14nm on the 5th gen Broadwell.

 

Keeping that in mind it wouldn't be a stretch to predict that Intel will have some Broadwell-based systems on display at Computex. We are expecting a next-gen Ultrabook running the Broadwell chip, probably showcasing Iris Pro graphics at its best.

 

DDR4 memory
In its Game Developer Conference press event, Intel announced its first 8-core Haswell-E desktop processor which will support the new Intel X99 chipset and will also be the first desktop platform to support upcoming DDR4 memory.
ADATA's DDR4 memory module lineup will most likely be seen at Computex

ADATA's DDR4 memory module lineup will most likely be seen at Computex

 

ADATA had already showcased the DDR4 SDRAM modules at Intel Developer Forum 2013 in San Francisco, targetting server and render farm applications. ADATA has recently released pictures of its XPG memory module which will have upto 16GB of memory with a 2133MHz frequency rating and a voltage rating of 1.2V. Crucial is expected to ship DDR4 memory modules in the third quarter for gamers and desktop users as well. So we will definitely be seeing memory companies showcasing their DDR4 RAM modules.

 

M.2 SSDs and SATA Express drives
We have already reviewed the Z97 boards from ASUS and Gigabyte and two things that stand out are the M.2 port and the SATA Express ports. At the time of reviewing the boards, we could not try out these two ports, as devices which will run on these ports are not easily available. Hopefully, that will not be the case at Computex this year, as we will be seeing a lot of M.2 SSDs from companies such as Samsung, Intel, Plextor and so on.
With most Z97 boards expected to come with M.2 ports, the time is ripe to see a lot of M.2 SSDs this year

With most Z97 boards expected to come with M.2 ports, the time is ripe to see a lot of M.2 SSDs this year

 

SATA Express drives will be another area we are expecting to see some action in. With the Intel Z97 boards becoming mainstream by the time Broadwell chips launch, the eco-system of SATA Express drives should hopefully be ready. There should hopefully be some companies showing off their SATA Express drives at Computex. In fact, Marvell recently announced its newest PCIe SSD controller for companies looking at making SATA Express SSDs which will completely utilise the theoretical 1GB/s bandwidth. We wouldn't be surprised if there are more players coming out with their own PCIe SSD controllers at Computex.

 

Intel Moorefield and Merrifield products
While Intel will be bullish on desktop hardware at Computex, back in February this year at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Intel had announced two 64-bit chips in its Atom line of processors. The new chips included the 22nm dual-core Z3460 / Z3480 and quad-core Z3560 / Z3580 SoCs code-named Merrifield and Moorefield respectively. Products based on the Merrifield line are expected to launch in second quarter of this year. So Computex should hopefully see some phones and tablets with these Intel SoCs.

 

The Intel Atom Z3480 is clocked at 2.13GHz whereas the Atom Z3460 is clocked at 1.6GHz. Both these SoCs will have a dual-core processors. It will be seen in devices in the second quarter this year. It features support for up to 4GB of LPDDR RAM running at 533MHz, support for Android 4.4.2 KitKat and a dedicated video signal processor. The Intel Atom Z3480/Z3460 will also sport Imagination Technology’s PowerVR Series 6 GPU with quad-cluster 3D graphics. This SoC will be paired with Intel’s XMM 7160LTE platform.

 

The Intel Atom Z3560 and Z3580, or Moorefield SoCs, are clocked at 1.8GHz and 2.3GHz respectively. Both SoCs will have a quad-core processor and they will be seen on mobile devices in the second half of the year. It will come with Intel’s second generation LTE platform which was also announced today – the XMM 7260.
PCs are still alive and well
If Intel's press events over the last couple of months are any indication to go by, the PC/desktop category is far from dead. According to Digitimes, Dell will most likely be showcasing new All-in-Ones at Computex. Companies such as ZOTAC and Gigabyte are aggressive in the mini-PC segment whereby you get a complete PC in a tiny form factor. Be it the ZOTAC ZBOX or Gigabyte Brix, we are most likely going to see refined versions of the same. ZOTAC recently announced the ZBOX Sphere and last year, we had seen Gigabyte Brix2 running on a Haswell chip. Hopefully, there will be more announcements from these companies.
ZOTAC ZBOX Sphere bears a striking resemblance to the now discontinued Nexus Q, but is a proper PC

ZOTAC ZBOX Sphere bears a striking resemblance to the now discontinued Nexus Q, but is a proper PC

 

Another thing worth looking forward to is ChromeboxesWe have already seen Chromebox PCs from HP and ASUS, but will there be more at Computex? We'll find out soon enough

 

Hybrid love
Microsoft recently announced the third generation Surface - the Surface Pro 3 - targetting it as a laptop replacement. So it is quite obvious that we will be seeing a lot of announcements in the 2-in-1's and hybrid devices segment. ASUS has already released two trailers for what it's calling The Next Incredible Thinga sure-shot hybrid device. Microsoft has already lowered its Windows 8 licensing fees for manufacturers, so that should be motivation enough for laptop makers to come out with interesting hybrid devices.

 

 

The @MicrosoftOEM account also tweeted about new Windows devices which you should look forward to at Computex. Its OEM partners such as Toshiba, Dell, HP and others are sure to come up with some new hybrid devices.

 

Wearables

SiMEye Smart Glass is convenient to be operated by either gesture or touchpad functions

SiMEye Smart Glass is convenient to be operated by either gesture or touchpad functions

PC player Acer announced its foray into the smart watch segment with the Liquid Leap earlier this month. The device will be bundled with company’s 5-inch Liquid Jade, its 5-inch HD resolution smartphone. A lot of smaller Chinese and Taiwanese players are expected to showcase their wearable devices at Computex this year. ChipSip SiMEye Smart Glass, a Google Glass inspired wearable device, has already won Best Choice of Computex Taipei 2014 award. Last year, Intel had announced the Quark family of ultra-low power processors targetted at wearables. Will Computex be the location for its debut device? Let's hope so. But we will definitely be seeing a lot happening with the wearable devices category.

 

Stay tuned to Tech2 for all the latest news on Computex 2014 next week, as we look at everything that will be in markets this year. It's a good time to be a PC lover.