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Fragging Frogs Virtual LAN party #12; Saturday March 5 10:00AM ET until the last Frog falls

Subject: General Tech | February 10, 2016 - 02:37 PM |
Tagged: VLAN party, gaming, fragging frogs

That's right folks, it is time for another Fragging Frogs VLAN with fun and prizes for all.  For those of you who have not participated in any of the last 11 this is a perfect time to get to know a great group of gamers over the day and maybe even tempt you to participate in the regular gaming sessions.

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The rules for joining and being eligible to win prizes are as follows:

  • You must be a registered member at the PCPer forums (register here)
  • You must have a minimum of 5 forum posts prior to the start of VLAN
  • You must post to this thread stating your intention to attend the VLAN event
  • You must meet the eligibility requirements (if any) of the individual sponsors below
  • Your shipping address must be in the Continental United States or Canada
  • Lastly, you must participate in the VLAN event by playing games with us and having fun!!

It would be appreciated if you reply to this thread to confirm attendance, it also contains valuable information on our Teamspeak server rules and connection details as well as links to the threads that let you share your Steam, Origin and other accounts with other Fragging Frogs. 

This thread here contains the information you need on patches and mods for the games we will be playing and gives you an idea of the standard assortment of games we play.  Feel free to suggest others as well.

There will be prizes and giveaways but remember that the main point of VLAN #12 is to have fun and get fragging!

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Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: PCPer Forums

EVGA Releases GeForce GTX 980 Ti VR Edition

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 10, 2016 - 05:59 PM |
Tagged: VR, vive vr, Oculus, evga, 980 Ti

You might wonder what makes a graphics card “designed for VR,” but this is actually quite interesting. Rather than plugging your headset into the back of your desktop, EVGA includes a 5.25” bay that provides 2x USB 3.0 ports and 1x HDMI 2.0 connection. The use case is that some users will want to easily connect and disconnect their VR devices, which, knowing a few indie VR developers, seems to be a part of their workflow. The same may be true of gamers, but I'm not sure.

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While the bay allows for everything, including the HDMI plug via an on-card port, to be connected internally, you will need a spare USB 3.0 header on your motherboard to hook it up. It would have been interesting to see whether EVGA could have attached a USB 3.0 controller on the add-in board, but that might have been impossible (or unpractical) given that the PCIe connector would need to be shared with the GPU (not to mention the complexity of also adding a USB 3.0 controller to the board). Also, I expect motherboards should have at least one. If not, you can find USB 3.0 add-in cards with internal headers.

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The card comes in two sub-versions, one with the NVIDIA-style blower cooler, and the other with EVGA's ACX 2.0+ cooler. I tend to prefer exposed fan GPUs because they're easier to blow air into after a few years, but you might have other methods to control dust.

Both are currently available for $699.99 on Newegg.com, while Amazon only lists the ACX2.0+ cooler version, and that's out of stock. It is also $699.99, though, so that should be what to expect.

Source: EVGA

ASUS Announces RP-AC68U AC1900 Wireless Repeater

Subject: Networking | February 9, 2016 - 11:24 AM |
Tagged: wireless repeater, wi-fi, signal repeater, RP-AC68U, router, dual-band, asus, ac1900

ASUS has announced a new high-end wireless repeater, and the RP-AC68U boasts dual-band wireless AC1900 speeds, and features 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports to add wired devices to the network.

ASUS-RP-AC68U-1.jpg

"ASUS RP-AC68U works by connecting wirelessly to an existing router and extending the Wi-Fi signal to areas of poor coverage, which are often a problem in large or multi-floor homes. With its blindingly-fast up to 1900Mbps combined speeds (600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band), RP-AC68U is the perfect companion for extending the coverage of the latest 802.11ac routers, but it can also be used with routers supporting any older Wi-Fi standards."

The boxy shape is a big contrast from the giant spider-like designs we've seen from recent high-end routers, and inside the enclosure there are a total of 3 transmit and 4 receive antennas to extend the range of your dual-band 802.11ac network.

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The RP-AC68U has five Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back, which ASUS says "allow users to convert any wired network devices to wireless operation", and there's a USB 3.0 port to allow additional devices to be added to the network. 

Specifications:

  • I/O ports:
    • 5 x Gigabit Ethernet LAN RJ45
    • 1 x USB 3.0 port
  • Antennas: 4 x Internal antennas (3 transmit, 4 receive)
  • Memory: 128MB Flash / 256MB RAM
  • Operating Frequency: Dual band 2.4GHz & 5GHz
  • Wi-Fi Data Rate*:
    • 802.11ac: up to 1300Mbps
    • 802.11n: Up to 600Mbps
    • 802.11a/g: Up to 54Mbps
    • 802.11b: Up to 11Mbps
    • *Quoted network speeds and bandwidth based on current IEEE specifications. Actual performance may be affected by network and service provider factors, interface type, and other conditions. Connected devices must be compatible for best results.
  • 802.11ac Specification:
    • MIMO: 3 x 4
    • 20/40/80MHz bandwidth
  • Buttons:
    • WPS button
    • Power button
    • Reset button
  • Encryption:
    • WPA/WPA2-PSK
    • WPA/WPA2-Enterprise
    • WPS support
  • Mode:
    • Repeater
    • Access Point
    • Media Bridge
  • Dimensions & weight: 178 x 106 x 106 mm; Weight: 870g

Pricing and availabilty were not announced. Full press release after the break.

Source: ASUS

Oculus Ready PC Pre-orders Announced, Include Rift Bundle

Subject: Systems | February 10, 2016 - 11:01 AM |
Tagged: VR, rift, preorder, Oculus, gaming pc

Oculus has announced an upcoming pre-order date for 'Oculus Ready PCs' from mainstream manufacturers, and these will be bundled with the Rift VR headset (and everything that comes with it).

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(Image credit: Oculus)

“Today we’re excited to introduce the first Oculus Ready PCs from ASUS, Alienware, and Dell! These PCs have been battle tested and certified by Oculus to deliver an incredible Rift experience. We’re also thrilled to announce that starting February 16 at 8am Pacific Time, you can pre-order Oculus Ready PC and Rift bundles from Best Buy, Amazon, and theMicrosoft Store, starting at $1499 USD for a limited time only.

All bundles include an Oculus-certified PC and everything that comes with Rift – the headset, sensor, remote, an Xbox One controller, EVE: Valkyrie Founder’s Pack, and Lucky’s Tale!

Pre-orders for Oculus Ready and Rift bundles will ship in limited quantities to select countries and regions from retail partners starting in April.”

So what kind of gaming system are you getting for $1499? Of the ‘Oculus Ready’ PCs, the baseline specs across the board are an Intel Core i5-6400 processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 GPU, along with 8 GB of system memory. This is in keeping with Oculus’ published specifications from last summer: “The recommended PC specification is an NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD 290, Intel i5-4590, and 8GB RAM."

Including the Rift VR bundle makes the price tag sound a lot nicer for what is otherwise a pretty basic gaming setup, as Rift costs $599 on its own. Still, is it worth $900 for a Core i5/GTX 970 gaming system? Factoring in a Windows license and all parts it's not a terrible value proposition, though most early adopters of this VR tech will likely not be starting completely from scratch.

A quick check on Amazon for the first system bundle listed shows “Currently Unavailable”, as pre-orders begin February 16 at 8:00am PST. You’ll be waiting even longer to have product in hand as the actual release date is April 23.

Source: Oculus

Microsoft Adds Third Ring to Insider Program

Subject: General Tech | February 10, 2016 - 03:03 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

The Windows 10 preview program had two settings: Fast and Slow. A third one has been added, called Release Preview, although it sounds a bit different from the other two. According to the blog post, which is supposed to be about a new build of Windows 10 Mobile, Release Preview will grant early access to updates on the current branch of Windows 10. They also call it “updates” instead of “builds”. Fast and Slow, as they have existed, provide builds for the next branch of Windows 10 at the time.

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When the public was on July release, Insider provided builds that ended up in the November update. When Windows 10 1511 was released, Insiders received builds on the “Redstone” branch, to be released at some point in the future. That is, apparently, not how Release Preview ring will work. They will receive 1511 updates early. They might receive the final Redstone-one build before general availability, but that is just speculation.

This might take some pressure off of Slow, which, during the Threshold-two timeframe, only received a single build, 10565, outside of the final 10586 one that was released to the public. Slow ended up being little more than a release candidate ring for the upcoming branch. If they push that to Release Preview, for the build that the public will see, then Slow might receive a few more steps on the upcoming branch, especially now that Fast are receiving more frequent updates. After all, users who are only interested in one or two builds per branch will probably be satisfied with pre-release updates and the final build early (again, if they release the final builds early on Release Preview, which is speculation).

Or Microsoft might just want a few more testers for Windows Update patches. Who knows?

Source: Microsoft

Unreal Editor for Unreal Engine 4 in VR

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | February 4, 2016 - 07:47 PM |
Tagged: GDC, gdc 2016, epic games, ue4, VR, vive vr

Epic Games released Unreal Engine 4 at GDC two years ago, and removed its subscription fee at the next year's show. This year, one of the things that they will show is Unreal Editor in VR with the HTC Vive. Using the system's motion controllers, you will be able to move objects and access UI panels in the virtual environment. They open the video declaring that this is not an experimental project.

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Without using this technology, it's hard to comment on its usability. It definitely looks interesting, and might be useful for VR experiences. You can see what your experience will look like as you create it, and you probably even save a bit of time in rapid iteration by not continuously wearing and removing the equipment. I wonder how precise it will be though, since the laser pointers and objects seemed to snap and jitter a bit. That said, it might be just as precise and, even still, it only really matters how it looks and behaves, and it shouldn't even prevent minor tweaks after the fact anyway.

Epic Games expects to discuss the release plans at the show.

Source: Epic Games

Monoprice Graphics Tablets Are Available

Subject: Displays | February 6, 2016 - 10:41 PM |
Tagged: monoprice, pen display, touch screen, drawing

A couple of CESes ago, Monoprice launched a couple of 22-inch pen displays to compete with the Wacom Cintiq 22HD. Shortly afterward, the products disappeared from their website and line-up, so I assumed, at the time, that they changed their mind or otherwise refocused.

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Turns out, it was only temporary. There are now two models on their product list, one for $499.99 and another for $599.99, although I have a feeling that the cheaper model might be discontinued. The only real, concrete difference that I can see is the $599.99 model uses “battery-free” pens, which I'm assuming is powered by induction from the display surface. The cheaper model is out-of-stock with an estimated availability of “TBD”. That one uses rechargeable pens. The $599.99 model also lists Linux drivers. The $599.99 version also has a slower response time (12ms vs 5ms) and higher viewing angles, although both are listed as IPS.

Whether or not the $499.99 model will become available again, the $599.99 one is still about a third of the price of the Wacom Cintiq 22HD. Also, unlike the Wacom, it supports Linux as mentioned above. They used to offer a pen display with a ten-finger capacitive touchscreen, which competes with the Wacom Cintiq 22HD Touch, but that has not been relaunched, at least not yet.

Source: Monoprice

MSI Releases GT72S G Tobii G-Sync Laptop with Eye-Tracking Technology

Subject: Systems, Mobile | February 9, 2016 - 10:16 AM |
Tagged: Tobii, notebook, msi, laptop, GT72S G Tobii, gaming laptop, g-sync, eye-tracking

MSI has released their GT72S G Tobii gaming notebook (first announced way back at Computex), which features NVIDIA G-Sync and eye-tracking technology that promises a more immersive gameplay experience.

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“The world’s most advanced gaming laptop, the GT72S G Tobii with eye-tracking technology immerses gamers into a hands-free dimension by allowing them to switch targets in a game, select objects on the floor or even automatically pause a game by simply focusing or looking away.  

Available immediately, MSI’s GT72S G Tobii will be bundled with Tom Clancy’s The Division and currently supports a variety of gaming titles, including Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Assassin’s Creed Rogue, ArmA III, Elite Dangerous and more.”

Ryan took a look at the laptop at CES, and the video is imbedded below:

So how does the eye-tracking work?

“By going through a 15-second set-up process, users can securely log into their computers using a personalized glance; highlight, select or delete items with one look; seamlessly zoom and center maps without scrolling; and even sift through Windows, folders and its applications without lifting a finger.”

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The notebook boasts some impressive specs, including:

  • Tobii Eye Tracking Technology
  • 17.3" Full HD 1920 x 1080 IPS display
  • 6th Generation Intel Core i7 6820HK (2.70 GHz)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M with 8 GB GDDR5
  • 32 GB Memory
  • 256 GB SSD (PCIe Gen3 x4)
  • 1 TB HDD
  • BD Burner
  • Killer Networking
  • Dimensions: 16.85" x 11.57" x 2.30"; 8.50 lbs

The GT72S G Tobii retails for $2599.99 and is now available with an exclusive launch at Newegg.com, and the laptop includes a free copy of Tom Clancy: The Division.

Source: MSI
Author:
Manufacturer: EVGA

Introduction and Features

Introduction

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(Courtesy of EVGA)

EVGA continues to expand their already huge PC power supply line with the introduction of the GQ series, which are aimed at price conscious consumers who want good value while still maintaining many of the performance features found in EVGA’s premium models. The GQ Series contains four models ranging from 650W up to 1000W: the EVGA 650 GQ, 750 GQ, 850 GQ and 1000 GQ. We will be taking a detailed look at the 750 GQ in this review.

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The GQ series power supplies are 80 Plus Gold certified for high efficiency and feature all modular cables, high-quality Japanese brand capacitors, and a quiet 135mm cooling fan with a fluid dynamic bearing. All GQ series power supplies are NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire Ready and are backed by a 5-year warranty.

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EVGA 750W GQ PSU Key Features:

•    Fully modular cables to reduce clutter and improve airflow
•    80 PLUS Gold certified, with up to 90%/92% efficiency (115VAC/240VAC)
•    100% Japanese brand capacitors ensure long-term reliability
•    Quiet 135mm Fluid Dynamic bearing fan for reliability and quiet operation
•    ECO Intelligent Thermal Control allows silent, fan-less operation at low power
•    NVIDIA SLI & AMD Crossfire Ready
•    Ready for 4th Generation Intel Core Processors (C6/C7 Idle Mode)
•    Compliant with ErP Lot 6 2013 Requirement
•    Active Power Factor correction (0.99) with Universal AC input
•    5-Year warranty and EVGA Customer Support

EVGA was founded in 1999 with headquarters in Brea, California. They continue to specialize in producing NVIDIA based graphics adapters and Intel based motherboards and keep expanding their PC power supply product line, which currently includes thirty-eight models ranging from the high-end 1,600W SuperNOVA T2 to the budget minded EVGA 400W power supply.

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(Courtesy of EVGA)

As you can see in the table above, EVGA currently offers seven different variations of 750W power supplies. Let’s get started with the review and see what makes this new 750W GQ model stand out from the rest.

Please continue reading our review of the EVGA 750W GQ PSU!!!

If you have a Trane thermostat you should update the firmware immediately

Subject: General Tech | February 9, 2016 - 01:30 PM |
Tagged: trane, iot, security

It is not a good sign when a security team refers to your smart thermostat as "a little malware store", especially when the flaws have been known for some time.  Indeed the original issue of hardcoded SSH passwords has been known since 2014 and the update took a year to be created.  Unfortunately most owners of a Trane Thermostat will not have upgraded their firmware, even if they knew about the update as it is not something which was installed remotely.  Instead you need to download the new firmware onto an SD card and manually install it on the thermostat.  Last month another update was released to address a remote code execution vulnerability in the ComfortLink II, which was not generally known until The Register posted about it today.  If you are using this device you should get an SD card handy and download the firmware.

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"In April 2015, one year after the first alert, Trane fixed the hardcoded password issue with a new release of the ComfortLink's firmware. Cisco then tipped off US CERT about the remaining issues. Trane eventually addressed the flaws in its code in January 2016, but didn't tell its customers that new firmware is available."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

A new Razer Black Widow Ultimate for 2016

Subject: General Tech | February 9, 2016 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: razer, input, gaming keyboard, black widow ultimate

Razer has been pushing out updates to their Black Widow lineup of gaming keyboards and this years model just arrived at Kitguru.  This year they are introducing a new type of mechanical switch for their keys, the model reviewed used their Green switches which click when depressed, there is a Razer Orange model for those who prefer to see their keyboard and not hear it.  This is not an RGB keyboard but you can set effects such as wave, ripple, starlight and reactive through the Razer software.  If you are looking for a new mechanical keyboard and want something a little different you should check out the full review.

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"The Razer Black Widow has become very popular over the years, often being touted as one of the finest gaming keyboards around. Today, we are looking at the brand new 2016 edition, using Razer’s own high specification mechanical switches – could this be the best option for gamers in 2016?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Kitguru

Havok Shuts Down Project Anarchy

Subject: General Tech | February 10, 2016 - 01:43 PM |
Tagged: Havok, project anarchy, game engine

Annnnnnd now we have one less game engine in the industry.

We posted yesterday about Amazon launching their Lumberyard engine, which is a fork of CryEngine that monetizes by strongly tying itself to Amazon Web Services. Later that day, I found out that Havok shut down their Project Anarchy engine, which was free for mobile development on iOS, Android, and Tizen. It had interesting technology for its supported platforms, when extend down to OpenGL ES 2.0, that combined Havok's middleware into an editor with component-based objects. While this setup is how Unity and Unreal Engine are structured, it's an artist-friendly method. Want something to interact with gravity and collision? Drag a Havok Rigid Body Physics component on it and save.

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That could not be a more blatant parody of Bubs if it tried, which it probably is.

I did not really know too much about the engine, but it was originally released back in 2013. They held a game development challenge in early 2014. The Project Anarchy Mobile Game Development Challenge had a $100,000 top prize, which was won by Cosmonautica from Chasing Carrots. The other two winners were a train simulator and a puzzle matching game.

Source: Havok

The BayTrail powered lASUSTOR AS5002T 2-Bay NAS

Subject: Systems, Storage | February 10, 2016 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: asustor, AS5002T, NAS, htpc, baytrail

Being in the market for a Plex server and running low on patience and spare hardware I have been sniffing around NAS servers, which is why you are now reading about the ASUSTOR AS5002T.  Missing Remote just picked this NAS up for review, powered by a dual core Celeron J1800 clocked at 2.4GHz instead of an ARM processor.  The reason that matters is the inclusion of Intel HD Graphics onboard for real time encoding when streaming to remote devices.  On the other hand it is not the most modern of processors and the AS5002T also showed some peculiarity with drive sizes.  The processor is not going to be able to push 4k over some interfaces but HDMI 1.4a, IR control capability and broad support for the usual selection of HTPC programs does make this NAS a good fit for many.  Read the full review to get a better idea of the capabilities of the ASUSTOR AS5002T.

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"The ASUSTOR AS5002T is the first Intel based network attached storage (NAS) device tested at Missing Remote. So, I was very curious to see how its dual-core 2.4GHz Celeron J1800 would stack up against the strong showing we’ve seen from ARM Cortex-A15 based systems recently."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Phanteks Announces Eclipse Series P400, P400S Enclosures

Subject: Cases and Cooling | February 9, 2016 - 09:06 AM |
Tagged: RGB, phanteks, mid-tower, enclosure, Eclipse Series, Eclipse P400S, Eclipse P400, case

Phanteks has announced a new enclosure series called ‘Eclipse’, which take the internal layout of the Enthoo lineup and packages it in a pair of affordable new enclosures; the P400 and P400S.

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“Without much effort, the P400 allows users to create a clean and beautiful system. Ambient RGB illumination adds character while the solid metal exterior gives the case a simple elegant design. The P400 is suitable for beginners and experienced system builders with all the extra features; the P400S comes with sound damping panels and a 3-speed fan controller to enhance acoustical performance.”

The internal layout of these enclosures will be familiar to you if you’ve seen the Enthoo series, with an open main chamber, a bottom partition for the PSU and hard drives, and all storage accessible from behind the system. There are a couple of notable differences between the Eclipse P400 and P400S, primarily the latter’s noise-reducing insulation and the addition of a 3-speed fan controller.

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Exploded view of Eclipse P400S

Side panel windows are available, with added style from the ambient RGB lighting on both models. The P400 and P400S are available in black, white, or grey, and the body panels are metal, which should contribute to a more premium feel.

Specifications:

  • Form Factor: Mid-tower
  • Materials: Steel chassis, steel exterior, ABS
  • Motherboard Support: ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX, E-ATX (up to 272mm wide, cannot use rubber grommets)
  • Expansion Slots: 7
  • Storage:
    • Internal 3.5” bays: 6x (2x trays included)
    • Internal 2.5” bays (dedicated): 2x (2x included)
  • Cooling:
    • 120 mm fan: Front, 3x (1 included); Top, 2x; Rear, 1x (1 included)
    • 140 mm fan: Front, 2x; Top, 2x
  • Front I/O: 2x USB 3.0, Mic, Headphone, Reset, LED control, 3-speed Fan controller (only available for P400S)
  • Side Window: Yes (also available with closed panel)
  • Soundproofing panels: (only available for P400S) Front/Top/Sides
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 210 x 465 x 470 mm (8.3 x 18.3 x 18.5 inches)

P400S-8z.jpg

No specific release date was announced, but full suggested pricing information is available:

  • Eclipse P400 (PH-EC416P) Black/Grey: $69.99 / White: $79.99
  • Eclipse P400S (PH-EC416PS) Black/Grey: $79.99 / White: $89.99
    • (P400S pricing identical for Silent Window and Silent Closed Panel versions)
Source: Phanteks

Microsoft Lets Anyone "Git" Their Deep Learning On With Open Source CNTK

Subject: General Tech | February 4, 2016 - 01:18 PM |
Tagged: open source, microsoft, machine learning, deep neural network, deep learning, cntk, azure

Microsoft has been using deep neural networks for awhile now to power its speech recognition technologies bundled into Windows and Skype to identify and follow commands and to translate speech respectively. This technology is part of Microsoft's Computational Network Toolkit. Last April, the company made this toolkit available to academic researchers on Codeplex, and it is now opening it up even more by moving the project to GitHub and placing it under an open source license.

Lead by chief speech and computer scientist Xuedong Huang, a team of Microsoft researchers built the Computational Network Toolkit (CNTK) to power all their speech related projects. The CNTK is a deep neural network for machine learning that is built to be fast and scalable across multiple systems, and more importantly, multiple GPUs which excel at these kinds of parallel processing workloads and algorithms. Microsoft heavily focused on scalability with CNTK and according to the company's own benchmarks (which is to say to be taken with a healthy dose of salt) while the major competing neural network tool kits offer similar performance running on a single GPU, when adding more than one graphics card CNTK is vastly more efficient with almost four times the performance of Google's TensorFlow and a bit more than 1.5-times Torch 7 and Caffe. Where CNTK gets a bit deep learning crazy is its ability to scale beyond a single system and easily tap into Microsoft's Azure GPU Lab to get access to numerous GPUs from their remote datacenters -- though its not free you don't need to purchase, store, and power the hardware locally and can ramp the number up and down based on how much GPU muscle you need. The example Microsoft provided showed two similarly spec'd Linux systems with four GPUs each running on Azure cloud hosting getting close to twice the performance of the 4 GPU system (75% increase). Microsoft claims that "CNTK can easily scale beyond 8 GPUs across multiple machines with superior distributed system performance."

cntk-speed-comparison.png

Using GPU-based Azure machines, Microsoft was able to increase the performance of Cortana's speech recognition by 10-times compared to the local systems they were previously using.

It is always cool to see GPU compute in practice and now that CNTK is available to everyone, I expect to see a lot of new uses for the toolkit beyond speech recognition. Moving to an open source license is certainly good PR, but I think it was actually done more for Microsoft's own benefit rather than users which isn't necessarily a bad thing since both get to benefit from it. I am really interested to see what researchers are able to do with a deep neural network that reportedly offers so much performance thanks to GPUs. I'm curious what new kinds of machine learning opportunities the extra speed will enable.

If you are interested, you can check out CNTK on GitHub!

Source: Microsoft