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ASRock Launches New Braswell-Based "Beebox" Fanless PC

Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 26, 2015 - 01:18 AM |
Tagged: SFF, nuc, Intel, fanless, Cherry Trail, Braswell, asrock

Earlier this month, ASRock showed off a tiny fanless computer it is calling the Beebox. Powered by an Intel Braswell SoC, the new small form factor Beebox offers up a decent selection of I/O ports and general desktop performance while sipping power. The Beebox is approximately the size of Intel's NUC measuring 118.5mm x 110mm x 46mm x  (4.67" x 4.33" x 1.81" -- WxDxH) and will come in three color options: black, gold, and white.

ASRock Beebox Fanless Braswell NUC PC_Cherry Trail.png

This compact PC has a fairly extensive set of ports on tap. The front panel includes a headphone jack, infrared port, one standard USB 3.0 port, and a USB 3.0 Type-C port which supports 5V/3A charging. The rear panel hosts the power jack, two HDMI outputs, one DisplayPort output, two USB 3.0 ports, a Realtek-powered Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Kensington lock slot. Not bad for a small form factor PC.

ASRock will be offering the Beebox in three configuration options including a barebones kit, a version with 32 GB internal storage, 2 GB of RAM, and Windows 10, and a Beebox SKU with 128 GB of internal storage and 4 GB of RAM (and no OS pre-installed). Each of the SKUs are powered by the same Intel Celeron N3000 Braswell SoC. From there, users can add a single 2.5" SATA drive and a Mini PCI-E card (although this slot is occupied by the included 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless module). The system uses two DDR3L SO-DIMMs and supports a maximum of 8 GB DDR3L at 1600 MHz.

The aspect that made the Beebox stand out to me was the inclusion of the Braswell-based Celeron N3000 processor. This 4W 14nm part features two Airmont CPU cores clocked at 1.04 GHz base and 2.08 GHz turbo paired with 2MB L2 cache and a Gen 8 Intel GPU clocked at up to 600 MHz. This is a desktop variant of the Cherry Trail chips being used in tablets, but it is the lowest TDP Braswell chip currently at a mere 4 watts. ASRock likely went with this chip to ensure they could passively cool it and still keep temperatures in check. As FanlessTech notes, the chassis ASRock is using leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to heat dissipation compared to other fanless cases on the market.

We will have to wait for reviews to see how well the Beebox and its Braswell processor perform, but so long as ASRock is able to keep thermals in check, the little PC should offer acceptable performance for general desktop tasks (browsing the internet, checking email, watching streaming videos, etc). Cherry Trail (and keep in mind Braswell is a higher power chip based on the same architectures) is promising noticeable improvements to graphics and at least slight improvements to CPU performance. According to ASRock, the Beebox is going to be priced aggressively at "very low" price points which should make it a good compromise between older Bay Trail-D systems and newer (and more expensive) Broadwell and Haswell systems.

The Beebox is slated for late June availability, with exact pricing to be announced at that time.

Source: Ars Technica

A tiny little Broadwell powered PC; the Shuttle Fanless Slim-PC DS57U

Subject: Systems | May 26, 2015 - 02:37 PM |
Tagged: shuttle, SFF, fanless, Broadwell, DS57U, Celeron 3205U

The Shuttle DS57U is powered by a dual core Celeron 3205U running at 1.5GHz and a nice and cool 15W TDP.  The system supports up to 16GB of DDR3 at 1.35 V, no 1.5V DIMM that TechPowerUp tried would work and for add-in cards you have a single full sized mini-PCIE slot and a half sized mini-PCIE slot which is already occupied by a WLAN card.  The system does have only one SATA 6Gbps port so external storage may be necessary, thankfully there are a pair of USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports.  This model is available for $250 currently, if you decide you need more power there are several versions going all the way up to the DS57U7 powered by an i7-5500U.  If you are looking for an inexpensive SFF barebones system, Shuttle is not a bad choice overall and the DS57U is worthy of consideration.

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"The Shuttle DS57U is a slim barebone PC that only needs RAM and a HDD or, even better, an SSD to boot. It comes with an Intel dual-core Celeron processor (Broadwell) and features lots of I/O ports, which make it suitable for a wide range of applications."

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Source: techPowerUp

Running an EXT4 RAID on the Linux 4.0 kernel? Better spray for bugs!

Subject: General Tech | May 21, 2015 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: linux, EXT4, raid, bug

On Tuesday a bug was discovered to have been introduced to Linux 4.0 kernel when a fix was added to deal with RAIDs where the chunksize not a power of 2, a problem present since Linux 3.14-rc1.  This fix has been causing corruption on RAIDs and the file system on that RAID, making many an unhappy Arch Linux user.  Only users of rolling release flavours will be effected, distros with scheduled updates like RHEL or Ubuntu are not effected at this time.  The good news is that as of today there is a fix available if you wish to apply it, as well as defining the fix which caused the issue.  Check out both at Phoronix.

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"A few days ago we reported on an EXT4 file-system corruption issue being discovered within the stable Linux 4.0 kernel series. The good news is the issue has been uncovered and a patch is available, but it could still be a few days before it starts getting sent out in stable updates."

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Source: Phoronix
Author:
Manufacturer: Sapphire

Big Things, Small Packages

Sapphire isn’t a brand we have covered in a while, so it is nice to see a new and interesting product drop on our door.  Sapphire was a relative unknown until around the release of the Radeon 9700 Pro days.  This was around the time when ATI decided that they did not want to be so vertically integrated, so allowed other companies to start buying their chips and making their own cards.  This was done to provide a bit of stability for ATI pricing, as they didn’t have to worry about a volatile component market that could cause their margins to plummet.  By selling just the chips to partners, ATI could more adequately control margins on their own product while allowing their partners to make their own deals and component choices for the finished card.

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ATI had very limited graphics card production of their own, so they often would farm out production to second sources.  One of these sources ended up turning into Sapphire.  When ATI finally allowed other partners to produce and brand their own ATI based products, Sapphire already had a leg up on the competition by being a large producer already of ATI products.  They soon controlled a good portion of the marketplace by their contacts, pricing, and close relationship with ATI.

Since this time ATI has been bought up by AMD and they no longer produce any ATI branded cards.  Going vertical when it come to producing their own chips and video cards was obviously a bad idea, we can look back at 3dfx and their attempt at vertical integration and how that ended for the company.  AMD obviously produces an initial reference version of their cards and coolers, but allows their partners to sell the “sticker” version and then develop their own designs.  This has worked very well for both NVIDIA and AMD, and it has allowed their partners to further differentiate their product from the competition.

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Sapphire usually does a bang up job on packaging the graphics card. Oh look, a mousepad!

Sapphire is not as big of a player as they used to be, but they are still one of the primary partners of AMD.  It would not surprise me in the least if they still produced the reference designs for AMD and then distributed those products to other partners.  Sapphire is known for building a very good quality card and their cooling solutions have been well received as well.  The company does have some stiff competition from the likes of Asus, MSI, and others for this particular market.  Unlike those two particular companies, Sapphire obviously does not make any NVIDIA based boards.  This has been a blessing and a curse, depending on what the cycle is looking like between AMD and NVIDIA and who has dominance in any particular marketplace.

Click here to read the entire Sapphire R9 285 ITX OC Review!

New server chips from Intel on the way

Subject: General Tech | May 27, 2015 - 12:27 PM |
Tagged: Purley, Intel, Skylake, Cannonlake, Grantley, Romley, knights landing

The Register has obtained a slide describing the next families of Xeon processor to be released by Intel, the Purley platform which includes Skylake.  There are some interesting new developments, including on die interface for either 10Gb/sec Ethernet or 100Gb/sec Omni-Path fabrics which interested the participants at the HPC conference the slides were shown at.  They also mentioned a brand new memory architecture which is described as offering four times the capacity and 500 times the speed than current NAND, all at a lower price per chip which is likely to be somewhat of an exaggeration on their part.  There were also new Phi chips, including the long awaited Knights Landing and workstation chips for use outside the server room.

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"A presentation given at a conference on high-performance computing (HPC) in Poland earlier this month appears to have yielded new insight into Intel's Xeon server chip roadmap.

A set of slides spotted by our sister site The Platform indicates that Chipzilla is moving toward a new server platform called "Purley" that will debut in 2017 or later."

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Source: The Register

Checking out the high end model of the Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi

Subject: Mobile | May 25, 2015 - 01:27 PM |
Tagged: asus, transformer book, T300 Chi

The ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi comes in a number of models, with the base mode running just under $700.  The Tech Report had a chance to review the higher end model which is more expensive and harder to find.  This particular model sports a 2.9GHz Broadwell based Core M 5Y71, 8GB DDR3-1600 and an internal 128GB internal SanDisk iSSD.  The 12.5" IPS 2560x1440 screen is common to all models, as is WiFi connectivity and Windows 8.1, 64-bit.  The keyboard portion of this Transformer Book is more of a screen stand than a dock as it uses Bluetooth to connect to the tablet as opposed to a physical interface, magnets keep the tablet in place when you are docked.  Check out how well it performs in The Tech Report's full review.

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"Asus' Transformer Book T300 Chi combines Intel's Core M processor with a 12.5" high-PPI display. The tablet half of this detachable 2-in-1 is thinner than the iPad Air, and it's backed by a keyboard dock that attaches with neodymium magnets. Read on to see what the T300 Chi is like as a tablet and notebook."

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