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Getting burned by the Steam Controller

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2014 - 03:37 PM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Controller, gdc 14

At the Game Developers Conference last month The Tech Report had some one on one time with the Steam Controller and walked away with a less than positive impression.  It would seem that the learning curve for this device is rather steep, especially when they tried Portal 2.  Fine aiming, circle strafing and other tasks which come naturally to those used to a keyboard and mouse were quite difficult to accomplish on the new controller.  When asked, the Valve rep admitted it took them about 8 hours to familiarize themselves with the Steam Controller.  Is that too steep a learning curve or is it simply part of the fun of playing with a new type of console and controller?

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"Valve's Steam controller looks great on paper. It promises not just greater accuracy than conventional console gamepads, but also support for point-and-click titles that traditionally required a mouse and keyboard. There's a downside, though. As TR's Cyril Kowaliski learned first-hand, the Steam controller has a pretty steep learning curve—steep enough, perhaps, to put off some potential converts."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

NVIDIA GeForce Driver 337.50 Early Results are Impressive

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 11, 2014 - 03:30 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, dx11, driver, 337.50

When I spoke with NVIDIA after the announcement of DirectX 12 at GDC this past March, a lot of the discussion centered around a pending driver release that promised impressive performance advances with current DX11 hardware and DX11 games. 

What NVIDIA did want to focus on with us was the significant improvements that have been made on the efficiency and performance of DirectX 11.  When NVIDIA is questioned as to why they didn’t create their Mantle-like API if Microsoft was dragging its feet, they point to the vast improvements possible and made with existing APIs like DX11 and OpenGL. The idea is that rather than spend resources on creating a completely new API that needs to be integrated in a totally unique engine port (see Frostbite, CryEngine, etc.) NVIDIA has instead improved the performance, scaling, and predictability of DirectX 11.

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NVIDIA claims that these fixes are not game specific and will improve performance and efficiency for a lot of GeForce users. Even if that is the case, we will only really see these improvements surface in titles that have addressable CPU limits or very low end hardware, similar to how Mantle works today.

Lofty goals to be sure. This driver was released last week and I immediately wanted to test and verify many of these claims. However, a certain other graphics project kept me occupied most of the week and then a short jaunt to Dallas kept me from the task until yesterday. 

To be clear, I am planning to look at several more games and card configurations next week, but I thought it was worth sharing our first set of results. The test bed in use is the same as our standard GPU reviews.

Test System Setup
CPU Intel Core i7-3960X Sandy Bridge-E
Motherboard ASUS P9X79 Deluxe
Memory Corsair Dominator DDR3-1600 16GB
Hard Drive OCZ Agility 4 256GB SSD
Sound Card On-board
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 2GB
Graphics Drivers NVIDIA: 335.23 WHQL, 337.50 Beta
Power Supply Corsair AX1200i
Operating System Windows 8 Pro x64

The most interesting claims from NVIDIA were spikes as high as 70%+ in Total War: Rome II, so I decided to start there. 

First up, let's take a look at the GTX 780 Ti SLI results, the flagship gaming card from NVIDIA.

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TWRome2_2560x1440_PLOT.png

With this title, running at the Extreme preset, jumps from an average frame rate of 59 FPS to 88 FPS, an increase of 48%! Frame rate variance does increase a bit with the faster average frame rate but it stays within limits of smoothness, but barely.

Next up, the GeForce GTX 770 SLI results.

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TWRome2_2560x1440_PLOT.png

Results here are even more impressive as the pair of GeForce GTX 770 cards running in SLI jump from 29.5 average FPS to 51 FPS, an increase of 72%!! Even better, this occurs without any kind of frame rate variance increase and in fact, the blue line of the 337.50 driver is actually performing better in that perspective.

All of these tests were run with the latest patch on Total War: Rome II and I did specifically ask NVIDIA if there were any differences in the SLI profiles between these two drivers for this game. I was told absolutely not - this just happens to be the poster child example of changes NVIDIA has made with this DX11 efficiency push.

Of course, not all games are going to see performance improvements like this, or even improvements that are measurable at all. Just as we have seen with other driver enhancements over the years, different hardware configurations, image quality settings and even scenes used to test each game will shift the deltas considerably. I can tell you already that based on some results I have (but am holding for my story next week) performance improvements in other games are ranging from <5% up to 35%+. While those aren't reaching the 72% level we saw in Total War: Rome II above, these kinds of experience changes with driver updates are impressive to see.

Even though we are likely looking at the "best case" for NVIDIA's 337.50 driver changes with the Rome II results here, clearly there is merit behind what the company is pushing. We'll have more results next week!

Corsair Announces PC DOMINATION System Building and Tuning Competition

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2014 - 02:18 PM |
Tagged: corsair, contest

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Corsair is sponsoring PC DOMINATION, SPRING 2014, a system building and tuning competition for PC enthusiasts. PC Domination isn't a single contest, but more than ten separate challenges for system builders and tuners. It doesn't matter if you have a high-end or mid-range system. There's a contest for everyone to participate in! Participants will be competing to win a variety of Corsair’s top products including cases, coolers, gaming keyboards, memory, and more. The first 500 complete entries will get a FREE Corsair PC Domination T-shirt.

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CPU Competition
You can participate in the CPU tuning contest by submitting your HWBot and Cinebench benchmark scores. If you don't have the latest and greatest system, don't let that stop you from participating since there will be an award for whoever can do the most with the least. And, to keep things fun for everyone, we are not allowing sponsored professional overclockers to participate.

There are three contests:

  • Intel CPU (Air Cooling or All-In-One Cooling)
  • AMD CPU (Air Cooling or All-In-One Cooling)
  • Custom Loop Liquid Cooling (Intel and AMD)

GPU Competition
To participate in the GPU tuning competition, submit your 3DMark scores! Just like our CPU Tuning competition, go ahead and enter if you don't have the latest and greatest GPU as there will also be an award for whoever who can do the most with the least. It's what you can do with what you have that matters. Sponsored professional overclockers are not able to participate, sorry!

There are three contests:

  • NVIDIA GPU (Air Cooling Only)
  • AMD GPU (Air Cooling Only)
  • Custom Loop Liquid Cooling (NVIDIA and AMD)

System Build Competition

To enter this competition, just submit photos of a system you've built. This is your chance to show off every aspect of your machine, whether it's the color scheme, amazing cable management, or just your overall awesomeness in system building!

There are three contests:

  • Standard System Building (Retail Parts – No Modifications or Customizing)
  • Custom Cooling System (Custom Water Loops – No Chassis Customization)
  • Open System Building (Full Customization and Modification)

Source: Corsair
Subject: Memory
Manufacturer: Kingston

Ultra-Speed RAM, APU-Style

In our review of the Kingston HyperX Predator 2666MHz kit, we discovered what those knowledgeable about Intel memory scaling already knew: for most applications, and specifically games, there is no significant advantage to increases in memory speed past the current 1600MHz DDR3 standard.  But this was only half of the story. What about memory scaling with an AMD processor, and specifically an APU? To find out, we put AMD’s top APU, the A10-7850K, to the test!

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Ready for some APU memory testing!

The APU

AMD has created a compelling option with their APU lineup, and the inclusion of powerful integrated graphics allows for interesting build options with lower power and space requirements, and even make building tiny mini-ITX systems for gaming realistic. It’s this graphical prowess compared to any other onboard solution that creates an interesting value proposition for any gamer looking at a new low-cost build. The newest Kaveri APU’s are getting a lot of attention and they beg the question, is a discrete graphics card really needed for gaming at reasonable settings?

Continue reading our article on using high speed DDR3 memory with AMD APUs!!

AMD Kabini Chips Now Available At Retail

Subject: Processors | April 10, 2014 - 04:38 PM |
Tagged: sempron, Kabini, Athlon 5350, athlon, amd, AM1

AMD has officially announced its socketed Kabini chips and the AM1 platform. Information on the chips and motherboards have been slowly trickling out since CES, but now they are finally official and available for purchase at retail.

Specifically, AMD has launched four desktop Kabini processors under the Athlon and Sempron brands. In addition ASRock, ASUS, Biostar, ECS, Gigabyte, and MSI all have AM1 platform motherboards ready to accept the new AMD chips. The motherboards come in mini ITX and micro ATX form factors.

The AMD Athlon 5350 SoC Installed in the ASUS AM1I-A motherboard which was used in our full Kabini review.

All four of the AMD chips have 25W TDPs and integrated GPUs with 128 stream processors. The Kabini chips support four PCI-E 2.0 lanes, two SATA III 6 Gbps ports, two USB 3.0 ports, and eight USB 2.0 ports. Motherboard permitting, the Kabini GPU supports up to three display outputs (HDMI, DisplayPort, and VGA). The chips differ by CPU and GPU clockspeeds, core count, and DDR3 memory frequency support. On the low end, the $34 (MSRP) Sempron 2650 is a dual core part clocked at 1.45 GHz with a GPU clocked that 400 MHz that supports a maximum memory clockspeed of 1333 MHz. The top-end Athlon 5350 is a quad core processor clocked at 2.05 GHz with a GPU clocked at 600 MHz and supports DDR3 1600 MHz. This chips has a $59 MSRP. The desktop chips are similar to their mobile counterparts, with slight differences in clockspeed and (of course) price and the socketed implementation.

Processor TDP CPU L2 Cache GPU Maximum Memory Speed Price
Athlon 5350 25W 4 cores @ 2.05 GHz 2MB 128 SPs @ 600 MHz 1600 MHz $59
Athlon 5150 25W 4 cores @ 1.6 GHz 2MB 128 SPs @ 600 MHz 1600 MHz $49
Sempron 3850 25W 4 cores @ 1.3 GHz 2MB 128 SPs @ 450 MHz 1600 MHz $39
Sempron 2650 25W 2 cores @ 1.45 GHz 1MB 128 SPs @ 400 MHz 1333 MHz $34

The motherboards for the new Kabini processors will come in mini ITX and micro ATX. We previously covered AM1 platform boards from ASRock, Biostar, and MSI. In general, the boards offer up most of the standard IO and other functionality that enthusiasts are used to from existing AMD motherboards including multiple display outputs, networking, audio, and a plethora of USB ports on the rear IO panel and SATA ports, PCI Express slot(s), and two DDR3 DIMM slots internally. Interestingly, the boards are fairly bare and free from chipsets because the IO is included in the processor itself. This enables motherboards that are notably cheaper than, say, FM2+ and AM3 boards.

When AMD first launched the AM1 platform, the company stated that a combination of a Kabini chip and FS1b-socketed motherboard would add up to about $60. Now that the platform is official, retail prices are starting to pop up. With the Kabini processors and motherboards each ranging from around $30 to $60, AMD has technically hit that mark. Adding a hard drive, RAM, and enclosure will get you a baisc and complete system for less than $150.

AMD's Kabini chips are set to compete against Intel's Bay Trail-D processor which comes pre-soldered onto motherboards. The AM1 platform does look to be the slightly cheaper option that also gives users the choice of motherboard and the possibility of upgrading to soecketed Beema (Kabini's successor) SoCs.

If you are interested in desktop Kabini, be sure to check out our full review of the AMD Athlon 5350 at PC Perspective!

Source: Tech Report

AAEON's SoC is an impressive implementation of Bay Trail

Subject: Systems | April 10, 2014 - 02:57 PM |
Tagged: linux, mini-itx, AAEON, EMB-BT1, Bay Trail, SFF, htpc

You may not recognize the name AAEON but you will recognize its parent company, ASUS.  AAEON makes low power small form factor single board SoCs and with the introduction of Bay Trail they may become more common.  The EMB-BT1-A10-3825 sports a quad-core Atom E3845 @ 1.33GHz and Ivy Bridge era Intel HD graphics with support for up to 4GB of DDR3-1067.  It has a total TDP of 6W but unfortunately Phoronix's WattsUp meter was busy on another system so you will need to wait for an update on total power consumption.

The connectivity on this SoC is incredible, mSATA for an SSD, two SATA 6Gbps ports and two SATA-2 ports, dual gigabit LAN ports, a pair of USB 2.0 ports and a single 3.0 port, HDMI, VGA, COM, and audio jacks.  You could configure this as a small media server or as it supports dual displays it would serve wonderfully as an HTPC.

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"For those after a low-cost mini-ITX board for use within an HTPC, SOHO file server, or other low-power situations, AAEON has out an interesting board called the EMB-BT1, or more formally the AAEON EMB-BT1-A10-3825. This mini-ITX motherboard has onboard an Intel Atom E3825 "Bay Trail" SoC for delivering decent performance out of the six Watt SoC and having open-source-friendly graphics under Linux."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Source: Phoronix

Podcast #295 - AMD Radeon R9 295X2, AMD AM1 Socket SoCs, Building a 1080P Gaming PC for under $550 and more

Subject: General Tech | April 10, 2014 - 02:25 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, 295x2, AM1, Plextor M6e, nvidia, 337.50, GFE

PC Perspective Podcast #295 - 04/10/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD Radeon R9 295X2, AMD AM1 Socket SoCs, Building a 1080P Gaming PC for under $550 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!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

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

 
This podcast is brought to you by Coolermaster, and the CM Storm Pulse-R Gaming Headset!
 
Program length: 1:22:06
 
  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:51:18 This podcast is brought to you by Coolermaster, and the CM Storm Pulse-R Gaming Headset!
  3. News items of interest:
    1. 1:03:10 NAB News
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Jeremy: Move over mineral oil, 3M's Novec
    2. Allyn: For those with too many tabs in Chrome - OneTab
  5. Closing/outro

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

 

 

Raspberry Pi Compute Module Will Work With Custom PCBs

Subject: General Tech | April 10, 2014 - 01:55 PM |
Tagged: videocore iv, Raspberry Pi, bcm2835, arm

Although the Raspberry Pi's original purpose was as an educational tool, many enthusiasts have used the (mostly) open source hardware at the heart of home automation, robotics projects, and other embedded systems. In light of this success, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has unveiled the Raspberry Pi Compute Module, a miniaturized version of the Raspberry Pi sans IO ports that fits onto a single SO-DIMM module. The Compute Module houses the BCM2835 SoC, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of flash memory and can be paired with custom designed PCBs.

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The Raspberry Pi Compute Module. Note that the pin out is entirely different from a memory module, so don't try plugging this into your laptop!

The Compute Module will initially be released along with an open source breakout board called the Compute Module IO Board. The IO Board is intended to be an example to get users started and to help them along the path of designing their own customized PCB. The IO Board has a SO-DIMM connector that the Compute Module plugs into. It further offers up two serial camera ports, two serial display ports, two banks of 2x30 GPIO pinouts, a micro USB port for power, one full-size USB port, and one HDMI output. The Raspberry Pi Foundation will be releasing full documentation and schematics for both the Compute Module and IO Board over the next few weeks.

Using the Compute Module and a custom PCB, the embedded system can be smaller and lighter than then traditional Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi Compute Module IO Board.jpeg

The Compute Module IO Board (left) with the Compute Module installed (right).

The Raspberry Pi Compute Module and IO Board will be available as a bundle (the "Compute Module Development Kit") from Element14 and RS in June. Shortly after the development kit launch, customers will be able to purchase the compute module itself for $30 each in batches of 100 or slightly more for smaller orders.

More information can be found on the Raspberry Pi blog. Here's hoping the industrial / embedded market successes will help fuel additional educational endeavours and new Raspberry Pis versions in the future.

Your date with the Haswell refresh has been postponed

Subject: General Tech | April 10, 2014 - 01:14 PM |
Tagged: Intel, haswell, i7-4790

If you have been anxiously awaiting the release of the new Core i7-4790 and 9-series of chipsets from Intel, you are going to be waiting a bit longer.  DigiTimes is reporting that the negative feedback from vendors has convinced them to delay releasing the new chip and chipset for another month.  This is likely due to the number of current generation Haswell chips, motherboards and systems stuck in the channel thanks that vendors are hoping will sell thanks to the EoL of WinXP.  The numbers from Gartner support their theory, the long downwards trend of PC sales has leveled off in the last quarter.  We can only hope that there will be discounts and sales towards the end of the month to help clean out the channel for the release of the new generation of Haswell processors.

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"Intel is set to launch its new Haswell Refresh processors and 9-series chipsets for desktops in early May, postponing the CPU giant's original schedule from April, according to sources from motherboard players."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Shave another couple of watts off your Kabini system

Subject: Memory | April 9, 2014 - 06:54 PM |
Tagged: kingston, kingston hyper x, Genesis LoVo, 16GB, ddr3-1600

If you were impressed by the low wattage required to run the AMD AM1 Athlon 5350 and are thinking of building a low power system along the lines of the one Josh used in his review Kingston has a product to help you lower that total system voltage a little more.  HyperX Genesis LoVo uses only a mere 1.35V to power the 16GB DDR3-1600 CL9 kit and their low profile helps if you are building a small sized system.  Performance at stock speeds is quite decent, with the possibility of overclocking to add more speed if you desire but these DIMMs are more about power savings than raw power.  Check out the full review at Funky Kit.

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"Even though higher clocked RAM is great for overclocking and gaming for most computer users, memory at lower clocks is good enough for the general tasks they perform daily. For those users, memory speed is usually less important than capacity so today we wish to present something more regular in the memory's world what is Kingston HyperX Genesis LoVo 16GB DDR3-1600 CL9. As probably some readers already noticed, we can't really call it regular memory as Kingston specified it to run at low voltage of 1.35V ... and it's green like most eco-friendly products."

Here are some more Memory articles from around the web:

Memory

Source: Funky Kit

Unleash Ubuntu with the ASUS Zenbook; or vice versa

Subject: Mobile | April 9, 2014 - 05:23 PM |
Tagged: linux, asus, zenbook, UX301LA-DH71T, ubuntu 14.04, ubuntu, haswell

There is a lot to like about this particular 13.3" ASUS Zenbook, perhaps the most noticeable is the IPS display with a 2560 x 1440 resolution and a capacitive display capable of tracking 10 contact points.  There is another reason to fall in love with this notebook, it can run Ubuntu with all of the features enabled without any extra work required.  The specifications under the hood are rather impressive as well, a Core-i7 4558U with Intel Iris Graphics 5100, 8GB of DDR3-1600 and two 128GB SSDs capable of supporting RAID.  Those of you looking for a powerful notebook which does not require Windows to run properly would be wise to read this review at Phoronix.

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"As I wrote about at the beginning of March, I bought the ASUS Zenbook UX301LA-DH71T Haswell-based ultrabook to replace an Apple Retina MacBook Pro as my main system. I've been using this latest Zenbook with Intel Iris Graphics and dual SSDs for several weeks now as my main system and have taken it on four business trips so far and it's been running great. Paired with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, the ASUS Zenbook UX301LA makes a rather nice lightweight yet powerful Linux system."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: Phoronix

Congratulations, your SHIELD has been upgraded to the next level

Subject: General Tech | April 9, 2014 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: gaming, nvidia, shield

If you own NVIDIA's SHIELD then you may have noticed an over the air upgrade notification recently which you should take advantage of.  Legit Reviews have assembled a look at the features you get from this upgrade, from broader access to GameStream from both your SHIELD and from any PC with a modern NVIDIA GPU to a new OS, KitKat 4.4.2.  Check out how well NVIDIA implemented these updates in the full article.

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"The NVIDIA SHIELD is potentially the next evolution of mobile gaming. The SHIELD in a nutshell is a blend of mobile android devices, PC gaming, and console gaming. When the NVIDIA SHIELD first came out last year, it was carrying a price tag of $299, eventually that dropped to $249 and that remains the current price for the SHIELD. Though for right now through the end of April NVIDIA has lowered the price to $199 to celebrate the latest and greatest over the air update that we announced last week here."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Google has an offer you might not refuse

Subject: General Tech | April 9, 2014 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: google, winxp, Chromebook

Google has an offer for businesses that it hopes will be attractive enough to get them to abandon Windows complete instead of upgrading from WinXP to a new version of a Microsoft OS.  They are offering businesses $100 off any managed Chromebook or other ChromeOS device and $200 if it will be running VMWare Desktop as a Service.  For those who have to go through major upgrades and software re-writes this might be a reasonable alternative since these companies are less than pleased at the EOL of WinXP and now have an opportunity to try or at least test an alternative OS.  It is unlikely that Windows will go the way of "tamagotchis and parachute pants" Google's Amit Singh is quoted as saying by The Inquirer but the demise of WinXP offers a unique opportunity for change to many businesses which has previously been economically unfeasable.

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"GOOGLE HAS BEEN QUICK to jump on the demise of Windows XP, and is looking to persuade businesses still running the operating system to buy Google Chromebooks instead."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer
Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

AMD Brings Kabini to the Desktop

Perhaps we are performing a study of opposites?  Yesterday Ryan posted his R9 295X2 review, which covers the 500 watt, dual GPU monster that will be retailing for $1499.  A card that is meant for only the extreme enthusiast who has plenty of room in their case, plenty of knowledge about their power supply, and plenty of electricity and air conditioning to keep this monster at bay.  The product that I am reviewing could not be any more different.  Inexpensive, cool running, power efficient, and can be fit pretty much anywhere.  These products can almost be viewed as polar opposites.

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The interesting thing of course is that it shows how flexible AMD’s GCN architecture is.  GCN can efficiently and effectively power the highest performing product in AMD’s graphics portfolio, as well as their lowest power offerings in the APU market.  The performance scales very linearly when it comes to adding in more GCN compute cores.

The product that I am of course referring to are the latest Athlon and Sempron APUs that are based on the Kabini architecture which fuses Jaguar x86 cores with GCN compute cores.  These APUs were announced last month, but we did not have the chance at the time to test them.  Since then these products have popped up in a couple of places around the world, but this is the first time that reviewers have officially received product from AMD and their partners.

Click to read the entire review on AMD's AM1 Platform!

Seagate Packs 6TB Into 3.5" 7200 RPM Enterprise Capacity Hard Drive

Subject: Storage | April 8, 2014 - 11:22 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, sata 6Gbs, SAS, Hard Drive, enterprise, 6tb

Seagate's latest enterprise class hard drive offers up to 6TB of space in a 3.5" form factor. The Enterprise Capacity series drive comes in both SATA III 6Gbps and 12Gbps SAS interfaces. Seagate was able to achieve an impressive 1,000 Gb/inch or about 1.25 TB per platter with the drive's five total platters adding up to the 6TB capacity. Perhaps even more impressively, Seagate was able to offer up a 6TB, five platter, 7,200 RPM drive without using helium.

The 6TB Enterprise Capacity hard drive comes with a 128MB DRAM cache. It is rated at 216 MB/s for sequential transfer speeds and an average latency of 4.16 milliseconds. The drive also supports 256-bit AES encryption and an instant secure erase function which overwrites data multiple times. Seagate further claims the drive is rated for 24/7 workloads at 550TB/year with a MTBF of 1.4 million hours. The drive comes with a five year warranty.

Seagate Enterprise Capacity 6TB Hard Drive.jpg

The drive will come in several variants depending on the storage interface. LaCie has already committed to using the new drives in its dual bay external storage products. Seagate has not released pricing on the new 6TB drive, but stated that it would price the drive at the same $/GB as last year's 4TB model. Expect the price to be around $650 MSRP before contract and bulk order deals.

It is a neat drive for sure, and I hope that the technology trickles down to the consumer space quickly, as 4TB has been the maximum single drive capacity for far too long!

For now, the drive will be used in the datacenter, production house, and security/surveillance markets (particularly in the datacenter market where rack space is at a premium).

Source: Tech Report

Noctua NH-D15 CPU Cooler Announced

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | April 8, 2014 - 08:44 PM |
Tagged: cpu cooler, NH-D15, noctua

Known primarily for large and quiet CPU coolers, Noctua is not shy to attach a pair of 140mm fans to a chunk of metal. The NH-D15, announced today, can cool just about any current, mainstream or enthusiast CPU from AMD or Intel. It attaches to the CPU with a copper plate, which is connected to several copper heatpipes, which leads into two towers of aluminum fins. It is plated with nickel to prevent corrosion (I am not sure about the bottom).

As is common for these types of heat sinks, they are daunting to look at. Of course, that is not a bad thing, unless you have a very small case, but it might make you look at your stock fan differently. Noctua is claiming that their two fans spin at a maximum of 1500 RPM and a minimum of 300 RPM. This leads to a listed maximum noise value of 24.6 dBA, around the background noise of a quiet rural area at night.

The NH-D15 will be available mid-April for just shy of $100 USD.

Source: Noctua

Qualcomm Reveals New Flagship Snapdragon 808 and 810 64-Bit SoCs Coming In 2015

Subject: Mobile | April 8, 2014 - 07:47 PM |
Tagged: SoC, snapdragon, qualcomm, LTE, ARMv8, adreno, 64-bit

Qualcomm has announced two new flagship 64-bit SoCs with the Snapdragon 808 and Snapdragon 810. The new chips will begin sampling later this year and should start showing up in high end smartphones towards the second half of 2015. The new 800-series parts join the previously announced mid-range Snapdragon 610 and 615 which are also 64-bit ARMv8 parts.

The Snapdragon 810 is Qualcomm's new flagship processor. The chip features four ARM Cortex A57 cores and four Cortex A53 cores in a big.LITTLE configuration, an Adreno 430 GPU, and support for Category 6 LTE (up to 300 Mbps downloads) and LPDDR4 memory. This flagship part uses the 64-bit ARMv8 ISA. The new Adreno 430 GPU integrated in the SoC is reportedly 30% faster than the Adreno 420 GPU in the Snapdragon 805 processor.

Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC.jpg

In addition to the flagship part, Qualcomm is also releasing the Snapdragon 808 which pairs two Cortex A57 CPU cores and four Cortex A53 CPU cores in a big.LITTLE configuration with an Adreno 418 (approximately 20% faster than the popular Adreno 320) GPU. This chip supports LPDDR3 memory and Qualcomm's new Category 6 LTE modem.

Both the 808 and 810 have Adreno GPUs which support OpenGL ES 3.1. The new chips support a slew of wireless I/O including Categrory 6 LTE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, and NFC.

Qualcomm is reportedly planning to produce these SoCs on a 20nm process. For reference, the mid-range 64-bit Snapdragon 610 and 615 use a 28nm LP manufacturing process. The new 20nm process (presumably from TSMC) should enable improved battery life and clockspeed headroom on the flagship parts. Exactly how big the mentioned gains will be will depend on the specific manufacturing process, with smaller gains from a bulk/planar process shrink or greater improvements coming from more advanced methods such as FD-SOI if the new chip on a 20nm process is the same transistor count as one on a 28nm process (which is being used in existing chips).

The 808 and 810 parts are the new high-end 64-bit chips which will effectively supplant the 32-bit Snapdragon 805 which is a marginal update over the Snapdragon 800. The naming conventions and product lineups are getting a bit crazy here, but suffice it to say that the 808 and 810 are the effective successors to the 800 while the 805 is a stop-gap upgrade while Qualcomm moves to 64-bit ARMv8 and secures manufacturing for the new chips which should be slightly faster CPU-wise, notably faster GPU-wise and more capable with the faster cellular modem support and 64-bit ISA support.

For those wondering, the press release also states that the company is still working on development of its custom 64-bit Krait CPU architecture. However, it does not appear that 64-bit Krait will be ready by the first half of 2015, which is why Qualcomm has opted to use ARM's Cortex A57 and A53 cores in its upcoming flagship 808 and 810 SoCs.

Source: Qualcomm

NAB 2014: Elgato Thunderbolt Dock Announced

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | April 8, 2014 - 07:07 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, NAB 14, NAB, Elgato

Hmm, this is more Thunderbolt than I think we heard all year. Is there like, a video production event going on right now? No matter, because news is news (and so are product announcements). The Elgato Thunderbolt Dock connects to Thunderbolt, go figure, and provides three USB 3.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, one HDMI 1.4 output, one 3.5mm headphone jack, and one 3.5mm microphone jack. It also has a second Thunderbolt port to daisy chain with other devices, which is a common trait in Thunderbolt devices. It will retail for $229.95.

Yup, it is a Thunderbolt accessory.

Why does it seem like every Mac user in commercials have a studio apartment???

It makes sense to see devices like this. Thunderbolt is really an extension of PCIe which allows anything that was once an add-in board to be connected externally, albeit with significantly reduced bandwidth compared to PCIe 3.0 16x. This looks very clean, tidy, and much more desirable than crawling under the desk and swapping wires and thumb drives in the darkness behind your PC.

I would like to see some benchmarks on this device, however. Clearly, the sum of these outputs should be higher than the bandwidth allowed by Thunderbolt (especially if daisy-chaining another Thunderbolt device). I wonder how efficient it will be at keeping high quality signals when several devices are connected and running simultaneously.

The Elgato Thunderbolt Dock is available now for computers with a Thunderbolt port and either Mac OSX 10.9 or Windows 8.1. I guess us Windows 7 fans need to get used to the dust bunnies behind our PCs for a little longer...

Source: Elgato

Lenovo Launches New Tab A7-50, A8, and A10 Android Tablets

Subject: Mobile | April 8, 2014 - 07:01 PM |
Tagged: tablet, tab a8, tab a7-50, tab a10, mtk 8121, mediatek, Lenovo, android 4.2

Today, Lenovo announced a refreshed lineup of its A-series tablets including the A7-50, A8, and A10. The new tablets take a common hardware platform and scale it from a 7-inch tablet to a 10-inch tablet with optional keyboard. All three tablets run the Android 4.2 operating system and will be available in May.

Lenovo A7 7-inch Android Tablet.jpg

The Lenovo TAB A7-50 Android 4.2 tablet.

The new Lenovo TAB A-series is powered by a quad core MediaTek 8121 SoC clocked at 1.3 GHz paired with 1GB of LP-DDR2 memory and 16GB of internal flash storage. Users can add an additional 32GB of storage with a micro SD card. Networking is handled by an 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 radio along with an optional SIM card slot on certain models (cellular functionality not available in the North American market). The tablets come with IPS touchscreens with a resolution of 1280 x 800. Lenovo includes a 2MP webcam and a 5MP rear facing camera on all three A-series tablets. The A10 further adds stereo speakers and compatibility with a keyboard dock.

Lenovo rates all three tablets at eight hours of battery life.

Lenovo A8 8-inch Android Tablet.jpg

The Lenovo TAB A8 tablet.

Beyond the Lenovo TAB A10 being available with a Bluetooth keyboard dock, the only major differences between the new three A-series tablets are physical dimensions, screen size, and weight. The Lenovo TAB A7-50 measures 198x121.2x9.9mm and weighs 0.70 lbs. The TAB A8 meanwhile measures 217x136x8.9mm and weighs slightly more at 0.79 lbs. Finally, the TAB A10 measures 264x176.5x8.9mm and weighs 1.2 lbs.

The Lenovo TAB A10 with its Bluetooth keyboard dock.

The 7-inch Lenovo Tab A7-50 has an MSRP of $129 while the 8-Inch Tab A8 has an MSRP of $179. The 10.1-inch Tab A10 has a base price of $249 and is also available as a tablet and keyboard bundle for $299.

What do you think about Lenovo's new A-series lineup? On one hand, you have three size options at competitive prices, but on the other you only have a single option as far as internal specifications and screen resolution no matter the screen size. If you can live with the MTK 8121 and 1GB of RAM, they could be a viable option.

Read more about Lenovo tablets such as the Yoga 8 and Yoga 10 at PC Perspective.

Source: Lenovo

AMD Selects Asetek to Liquid Cool The World’s Fastest Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 8, 2014 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: asetek, amd, r9 295x2

If you wondered where the custom cooler for the impressively powerful AMD Radeon R9 295X2 came from then wonder no more.  The cooler was designed specifically for this card by Asetek, a veteran in cooling computer components with water.  You should keep that in mind the next time you think about picking up a third party watercooler!

GPU_LC.jpg

Asetek, the world’s leading supplier of computer liquid cooling solutions, today announced that its liquid cooling technology will be used to cool AMD’s latest flagship graphics card. The new AMD Radeon R9 295X2 is the world’s fastest graphics card. Boasting 8 gigabytes of memory and over 11 teraflops of computing power, the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 graphics card is the undisputed graphics performance champion.

“Today’s high-end graphic cards pack insane amounts of power into a very small area and removing that heat is no small task. Utilizing our liquid cooling for graphics cards unlocks new opportunities for performance and low noise,” said André Sloth Eriksen, Founder and CEO of Asetek. “The fact that AMD has chosen Asetek liquid cooling for their reference cooling design is a testament to the reliability and performance of our technology.”

The AMD Radeon R9 295X2 is the first graphics card reference design ever to ship with an advanced closed-loop water cooling system. The Asetek-developed liquid cooling system on the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 graphics card delivers significant benefits for the performance-hungry enthusiast, hardcore gamer or Bitcoin miner. Users will appreciate the unobtrusive noise, low GPU and component temperatures, and blistering performance - right out of the box.

“As the most powerful graphics card offered to date, we knew we needed an outstanding custom cooling solution for the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 graphics card,” said Matt Skynner, corporate vice president and general manager, Graphics Business Unit, AMD. “Asetek’s liquid cooling embodies the efficient performance, reliability and reputation we were seeking in a partner. As GPUs become more powerful, the benefits of collaborating with Asetek and integrating our world-class technologies are clear.”

The AMD Radeon R9 295X2 graphics card utilizes Asetek’s proven, maintenance free, factory sealed liquid cooling technology to cool the two powerful GPUs. This liquid cooling design ensures continuous stability even under full load. The card is easy to install and fits in most computer cases on the market today. With more than 1.5 million units in the field today, Asetek liquid cooling provides worry free operation to gamers and PC enthusiasts alike.

Source: Asetek