The Top Hardware Products of 2008 in Review

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The Top Hardware Products of 2008 in Review

by Scott Ferguson

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Lenovo ThinkPad X300

The sleek but expensive ThinkPad X300 came to market in February 2008 and Lenovo included a number of cleverly engineered features to keep this ThinkPad compact, lightweight and thin. The use of only a solid-state drive with the ThinkPad X300 is notable.

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Apple MacBook Air

When Apple creates, the industry listens. The Apple MacBook Air arrived at about the same time as the Lenovo ThinkPad X300, and the Air showed Apple's ability to tap into a whole new market for ultrathin, ultraportable notebooks.

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Intel Atom Processor for Netbooks and Nettops

With the Atom processor, Intel looked to carve out a whole new market of laptops that would be low-cost and portable but still have some of the features and functions of a regular notebook. By the end of the year, netbooks and their ultraportable cousins had given the PC industry a needed boost.

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Intel Core i7 Processor Built with the Nehalem Microarchitecture

The Intel Core i7 is the first Intel processor created using the new "Nehalem" microarchitecture, which will boost performance by using a design that integrates the memory controller into the CPU. Intel will use the Nehalem architecture for the next two years before switching to new chip design technology.

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AMD 45-Nm Opteron Processor

After failing to bring its previous 65-nanometer Opteron processor out on time, Advanced Micro Devices brought out its 45-nm Opteron processor—formerly "Shanghai"—early and with significant OEM support. This processor is expected to help AMD compete against newer Intel processors and the current crop of Xeon chips.

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Asus Eee PC

While nearly every other vendor offers some type of low-cost, ultraportable notebook, the Asus Eee PC remains the standard, and other PC vendors continue to chase the success Asustek Computer has had. Recently Asus began showing off the Eee PC S101, which offers an Intel Atom processor and an SSD.

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Dell Inspiron Mini 12

This ultraportable laptop is helping to blur the lines between the original netbook concept and a more traditional notebook. The Dell Mini 12 offers an Intel Atom processor but a much larger, 12.1-inch display, and costs more than a netbook.

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IBM iDataPlex Array

With the iDataPlex, IBM began offering an x86-based system that could address the needs of Web 2.0 application, cloud computing, SAAS (software as a service) and high-performance computing. While smaller companies such as Verari Systems and Rackable Systems offered similar configurations, the iDataPlex seems to have validated the market for these types of server systems.

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Nvidia Tesla and AMD FireStream General-Purpose GPUs

In HPC, Nvidia and AMD are both turning to their graphics technology to create new types of general-purpose GPUs with hundreds of streaming processing cores that can solve problems in parallel. Nvidia brought out its Tesla 10 GPGPU and AMD released several versions of its FireStream GPGPU.

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IBM Roadrunner

While the average IT department can't run out and buy the IBM Roadrunner supercomputer—the only one is housed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico—this high-performance computer system was the first of its kind to break the petaflop barrier, achieving 1 quadrillion calculations per second. With Roadrunner, IBM opened a new chapter of HPC.