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Podcast #414 - AMD Zen Architecture Details, Lightning Headphones, AMD GPU Market Share and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2016 - 10:51 AM |
Tagged: Zen, video, seasonic, Polaris, podcast, Omen, nvidia, market share, Lightning, hp, gtx 1060 3gb, gpu, brix, Audeze, asus, architecture, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #414 - 08/25/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the newly released architecture details of AMD Zen, Audeze headphones, AMD market share gains and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath and Jeremy Hellstrom

Program length: 1:37:15
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  4. Closing/outro

Battlefield 1 Beta is out, as is the GeForce 372.70 driver

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 30, 2016 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, GeForce 372.70, driver

NVIDIA continues with their Game Ready driver program, releasing the GeForce 372.70 driver, hand crafted in the new world by artisanal engineers to bring enhanced support to World of Warcraft: Legion, Battlefield 1: Open Beta, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and Quantum Break.  There is not much to see in the release notes, although you can now enjoy Deus Ex in glorious 3D vision assuming you have the monitor and glasses.

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If you are testing the new Battlefield you should consider updating, one would suppose the bug reports submitted using this driver will be more beneficial to the developers than an older release.  You know the drill, grab them from GeForce.com or NVIDIA.com.

Source: NVIDIA

Qualcomm Releases the Snapdragon 821 Mobile Processor

Subject: Processors, Mobile | August 31, 2016 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: SoC, Snapdragon 821, snapdragon, SD821, qualcomm, processor, mobile, adreno

Qualcomm has officially launched the Snapdragon 821 SoC, an upgraded successor to the existing Snapdragon 820 found in such phones as the Samsung Galaxy S7.

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"With Snapdragon 820 already powering many of the premier flagship Android smartphones today, Snapdragon 821 is now poised to become the processor of choice for leading smartphones and devices for this year’s holiday season. Qualcomm Technologies’ engineers have improved Snapdragon 821 in three key areas to ensure Snapdragon 821 maintains the level of industry leadership introduced by its predecessor."

Specifications were previously revealed when the Snapdragon 821 was announced in July, with a 10% increase on the CPU clocks (2.4 GHz, up from the previous 2.2 GHz max frequency). The Adreno 530 GPU clock increases 5%, to 650 MHz from 624 MHz. In addition to improved performance from CPU and GPU clock speed increases, the SD821 is said to offer lower power consumption (estimated at 5% compared to the SD820), and offers new functionality including improved auto-focus capability.

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From Qualcomm:

Enhanced overall user experience:

The Snapdragon 821 has been specifically tuned to support a more responsive user experience when compared with the 820, including:

  • Shorter boot times: Snapdragon 821 powered devices can boot up to 10 percent faster.
  • Faster application launch times: Snapdragon 821 can reduce app load times by up to 10 percent.
  • Smoother, more responsive user interactions: UI optimizations and performance enhancements designed to allow users to enjoy smoother scrolling and more responsive browsing performance.

Improved performance and power consumption:

  • CPU speeds increase: As we previously announced, the 821 features Qualcomm Kryo CPU speeds up to 2.4GHz, representing an up to 10 percent improvement in performance over Snapdragon 820.
  • GPU speeds increase: The Qualcomm Adreno GPU received a 5 percent speed increase over Snapdragon 820.
  • Power savings: The 821 is engineered to deliver an incremental 5 percent power savings when comparing standard use case models. This power savings can extend battery life and support OEMs interested in reducing battery size for slimmer phones.

New features and functionality:

  • Snapdragon 821 introduces several new features and capabilities, offering OEMs new options to create more immersive and engaging user experiences, including support for:
  • Snapdragon VR SDK (Software Development Kit): Offers developers a superior mobile VR toolset, provides compatibility with the Google Daydream platform, and access to Snapdragon 821’s powerful heterogeneous architecture. Snapdragon VR SDK supports a superior level of visual and audio quality and more immersive virtual reality and gaming experiences in a mobile environment.
  • Dual PD (PDAF): Offers significantly faster image autofocus speeds under a wide variety of conditions when compared to single PDAF solutions.
  • Extended Laser Auto-Focus Ranging: Extends the visible focusing range, improving laser focal accuracy over Snapdragon 820.
  • Android Nougat OS: Snapdragon 821 (as well as the 820) will support the latest Android operating system when available, offering new features, expanded compatibility, and additional security compared to prior Android versions.

Qualcomm says the ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe is the first phone to use this new Snapdragon 821 SoC while other OEMs will be working on designs implementing the upgraded SoC.

Source: Qualcomm

Lenovo Announces Yoga Book 2-in-1 Tablet with Halo Keyboard and Create Pad

Subject: Systems, Mobile | August 31, 2016 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: Yoga Book, windows, wacom, notebook, Lenovo, Halo Keyboard, Create Pad, Android

Lenovo has unveiled the Yoga Book, a 2-in-1 design with a unique touch-based lower half below a conventional 1920x1200 IPS touch display. Lenovo is calling the Yoga Book "the world’s thinnest and lightest 2-in-1", with a 9.6mm thickness and weight of 1.52 pounds.

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This lower section is a hybrid design, combining Lenovo's "Halo Keyboard" virtual keyboard with a surface called "Create Pad"; allowing the lower half to be used for pen writing (with handwriting recognition) and drawing. The "Real Pen" (which is a dual-use ink pen and stylus) offers 2,048 pressure levels and 100-degree angle detection, according to Lenovo, and promises a precise experience when writing and creating artwork.

"The Halo Keyboard re-imagines the possibilities of a modern keyboard, while providing the technology platform for all other standout Yoga Book productivity-driven features, such as the Create Pad and Real Pen. It appears to the user as a full, backlit virtual keyboard with shortcut keys for a typing experience that matches that of a physical keyboard, easily overcoming the challenges of typing on a tablet screen."

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"The lack of physical keys also allows the Halo Keyboard’s flush surface to house the Create Pad. For the artists and free hand note-takers, the Create Pad converts into a virtual notepad that instantly digitizes everything from doodles and to-do lists to web page annotations and on-screen notes, using the Real Pen and our Note Saver app."

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The Yoga Book is available in both Android and Windows versions, with the Android version offering a custom interface called "Book UI". As to hardware, both versions are powered by an Intel Atom x5-Z8550 processor (quad-Core, up to 2.4 GHz) with 4GB of LPDDR3 memory and 64GB of onboard storage (expandable via microSD cards up to 128GB in size).

What about pricing? This might be surprising for a high-concept device like this, as Lenovo has chosen to compete in the $500 tablet space. The Android-powered Yoga Book starts at $499, with the Yoga Book with Windows at $549. Both will be available starting in October.

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Full press release after the break.

Source: Lenovo

Samsung's 256GB Samsung EVO Plus MicroSD card, for your 4K recording pleasure

Subject: Storage | August 29, 2016 - 04:37 PM |
Tagged: microSD, Samsung, evo plus, U3, UHS-I

A while back Al broke down the specifications of SD cards and what each class meant and the proper usage for them.  The top class is U3 and it offers transfer speeds high enough to support recording 4K video on your devices and that happens to be the rating on the new 256GB Samsung EVO Plus MicroSD.  Legion Hardware just tested this MicroSD card and it now holds the title of best performing SD card they have tested.  The performance does come at a premium, the MSRP of the card is $250 and even with a 10 year warranty this is still an expensive purchase.  If you need the ability to record 4K video immediately this is the fast solution available but if you are still in the planning stages, remember that there is a new standard, UFS, which is due to hit the market soon and impact pricing of older products.

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"Running out of storage on your smartphone, tablet or 4K video camera? Well the good news is SD cards have never been more affordable and crucially offered such huge storage capacities. In fact, Samsung recently announced the availability of a 256GB version of their popular EVO Plus MicroSD card series"

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

From now on you will refer to this mouse as Master! Cooler Master's new mouse

Subject: General Tech | August 30, 2016 - 02:43 PM |
Tagged: cooler master, MasterMouse Pro L, ambidextrous

Rejoice computer users as you will no longer be a slave to chirality thanks to your new rodent overlord, Cooler Master's MasterMouse Pro L!  This mouse is properly ambidextrous, both sides of the mouse have the same buttons and fancy RGB lighting and the DPI button is equally inconvenient for everyone as it is located on the bottom of the mouse.  For hardware it uses a Avago PMW-3360 IR optical sensor which can be set up to a sensitivity of 12,000 DPI.  The mouse also comes with two swapable shells for the top of the mouse and CM plans on releasing the specifications so you can print your own if you so desire.

It is currently $60 on NewEgg, you can see more information on the mouse and software over at KitGuru.

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"Today, we are taking a look at the Cooler Master ‘MasterMouse Pro L’, a true ambidextrous mouse with modular covers for the body and side grips, allowing users to make physical changes to the mouse to better suit them."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Kitguru

Return of the Revenge of the Attack of the USB Type-C cable, Part 2

Subject: General Tech | August 31, 2016 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: usb type-c, anker

The good news is that Google researcher Benson Leung has some help in his quest to rid the world of bad USB Type-C cords, the bad news is that he still needs it.  Another intrepid investigator who goes by the moniker Nathan K discovered that the Anker PowerLine USB-C cable model A8185011 is a danger to your electronics.  The labelling states 5A, 100W and yet testing shows 3A, 60W which would not be so bad except that the wire allows Rp pulldown to be doubled.  This leads to a very hot charger as 5V Vconn voltages end up where they really should not be.  Anker has recalled these cords so you should not see them for sale anymore but you might want to double check any you currently own.

Drop by The Register for info and a link to Nathan's Google+ post, which includes the testing data.

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"Peripherals builder Anker has issued a recall after researchers found that one of its USB-C cables could potentially cause serious damage to connected hardware."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Faster WiFi is great but ... MegaMIMO 2.0; really?

Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2016 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: MegaMIMO 2.0, wireless router, wifi, mu-mimo

Multi-In Multi-Out routers are a wonderful thing, not only are the routers far more tentacular than before, the technology also make our unwired lives better as Sebastian explained.  The only thing that could make it better is a bandwidth boost, which is what these researchers at MIT have been working on.  In an experiment involving laptop bearing Roombas they showed a increase of 330% in transfer speeds thanks to synchronized phases allowing multiple signals to be sent on the same frequency.  Pop on over to Slashdot to learn more about their research.

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"Scientists at MIT claim to have created a new wireless technology that can triple Wi-Fi data speeds while also doubling the range of the signal. Dubbed MegaMIMO 2.0, the system will shortly enter commercialization and could ease the strain on our increasingly crowded wireless networks."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

A closer look at Adam Jensen's beauty treatments

Subject: General Tech | August 31, 2016 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: deus ex: mankind divided, nvidia, amd

It was not just Adam Jensen's cyberware that was updated since 2012, we have also seen new computer hardware and software features added to our gaming machines.  [H]ard|OCP fired up the new Deus Ex to test a long list of features including tessellation, subsurface scattering, cloth physics, ambient occlusion, contact hardening shadows, parallax occlusion mapping, volumetric lighting, screenspace reflections, and chromatic aberration.  They chose the three new NVIDIA cards as well as the two AMD cards.  As of yet there is no DX12 support but a patch is planned but there are still some interesting findings; this game loves huge tracts of  VRAM and they also found that the default AA setting may not be your best choice.

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"Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is released, we take a look at performance and image quality. We will compare performance between GTX 1080, GTX 1070, GTX 1060, Radeon RX 480, and Radeon RX 470. We will also look at image quality and talk about our experiences with each video card and what is playable in DE:MD."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Testing the community developed RADV driver against AMDGPU-PRO

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 31, 2016 - 05:38 PM |
Tagged: amd, radeon, open source, linux, RADV, graphics driver

As of yet, AMD has not delivered the open-source Radeon Vulkan driver originally slated to arrive early this year, instead relying on their current proprietary driver.  That has not stopped a team of plucky programmers from creating RADV, utilizing the existing AMDGPU LLVM compiler back-end and Intel's work with Mesa NIR intermediate representation to pass to LLVM IR.  You won't get Gallium3D support, ironically RADV is too close to the metal for that to work.

Phoronix just wrapped up testing of the new driver, looking at performance for The Talos Principal and DOTA 2, contrasting the open source driver with the closed source AMDGPU-PRO.  RADV is not quite 4k ready but at lower resolutions it proves very competitive.

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"With word coming out last week that the RADV open-source Vulkan driver can now render Dota 2 correctly, I've been running some tests the past few days of this RADV Vulkan driver compared to AMD's official (but currently closed-source) Vulkan driver bundled with the AMDGPU-PRO Vulkan driver."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

 

Source: Phoronix

If you don't Ottoman-tically update your drivers, Radeon 16.8.3 has just arrived

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 31, 2016 - 06:09 PM |
Tagged: radeon 16.8.3, crimson, amd

Similar to the release yesterday from NVIDIA, AMD's Crimson 16.8.3 hotfix has been timed for release with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and the Battlefield 1 Beta.  This particular update will add Crossfire profiles for both games and also fixes an unfortunate bug from the previous release which occasionally caused a static, albeit colourful screen over top of your game.  Unfortunately, the Gaming Evolved overlay launch problem still exists, as does the workaround. 

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If you do plan on submitting bug reports whilst trying out the new Battlefield, please do head on over and upgrade so the devs are not working on issues which are already resolved.

Source: AMD

NVIDIA Announces a Fallout 4 Mod

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 31, 2016 - 07:50 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, gameworks, fallout 4, pc gaming

Vault 1080, which is a terrible pun by the way, is a free mod of Fallout 4 that is developed by NVIDIA Lightspeed Studios. It is designed to show off GameWorks technologies, such as volumetric lighting and HBAO+, more heavily than Bethesda did with the base game. They claim that the content lasts more than an hour, which is pretty decent for a free expansion.

It will launch on the first day of PAX West: September 2nd.

If you're wondering why NVIDIA has a game development studio, they are mostly responsible for bringing content from the PC to their Shield devices, such as Half-Life 2 and Portal. They also created NVIDIA's VR Funhouse demo, which was also release for free to show off GameWorks (such as NVIDIA Flow and VRWorks Audio) for the HTC Vive. Basically, they develop games (and now game content) to make NVIDIA's hardware more appealing.

Source: NVIDIA