Subject: Editorial, General Tech | December 8, 2013 - 04:11 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: TSMC, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, broadcom
Josh Walrath titled the intro of his "Next Gen Graphics and Process Migration: 20nm and Beyond" editorial: "The Really Good Times are Over". Moore's Law predicts that, with each ~2 year generation, we will be able to double the transistor count of our integrated circuits. It does not, however, set a price.
A look into GlobalFoundries.
"Moore's Law is expensive" remarked Tom Kilroy during his Computex 2013 keynote. Intel spends about $12 billion USD in capital, every year, to keep the transistors coming. It shows. They are significantly ahead of their peers in terms of process technology. Intel is a very profitable company who can squirrel away justifications for these research and development expenses across numerous products and services.
The benefits of a process shrink are typically three-fold: increased performance, decreased power consumption, and lower cost per chip (as a single wafer is better utilized). Chairman and CTO of Broadcom, Henry Samueli, told reporters that manufacturing complexity is pushing chip developers into a situation where one of those three benefits must be sacrificed for the other two.
You are suddenly no longer searching for an overall better solution. You are searching for a more optimized solution in many respects but with inherent tradeoffs.
He expects GlobalFoundries and TSMC to catch up to Intel and "the cost curve should come back to normal". Still, he sees another wall coming up when we hit the 5nm point (you can count the width or height of these transistors, in atoms, using two hands) and even more problems beyond that.
Image Credit: IONAS
From my perspective: at some point, we will need to say goodbye to electronic integrated circuits. The theorists are already working on how we can develop integrated circuits using non-electronic materials. For instance, during the end of my Physics undergraduate degree, my thesis adviser was working on nonlinear optics within photonic crystals; waveguides which transmit optical frequency light rather than radio frequency electric waves. Of course I do not believe his research was on Optical Integrated Circuits, but that is not really the point.
Humanity is great at solving problems when backs are against walls. But, what problem will they try?
Power consumption? Cost? Performance?
Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2013 - 12:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
This Dell Inspiron 15 Dual-core 15.6" Laptop is at such a low price it almost counts as a stocking stuffer. The dual core Celeron 1017U @ 1.6GHz isn't going to top out the benchmark charts but should run rings around most tablets and the 4GB DDR3 memory and 320GB HDD will give it more flexibility. It runs Windows 8 64-bit and has an attractive list of I/O ports.
- Dell Inspiron 15 Dual-core 15.6" Laptop for $279.99 with Free Shipping (normally $379.99 - use coupon code: DMG5HG3LJW2JF9).
- XFX Core Edition Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card for$104.99 with Free Shipping(normally $199.99 - use coupon code: MASTERPASS).
- ViewSonic 27-Inch Screen LED-backlit Monitor (VX2770SMH-LED) for $224.99 with Free Shipping(normally $339.99 - use coupon code: GREENMD118).
- Dell 1210S DLP Projector for $325.00 (normally $369.00).
- Night Owl 4-Camera 500GB HDD DVR Surveillance System for $179.99 with free shipping(normally $269.99 - use coupon code: MASTERPASS).
- ThinkGeek Coupon: 25% off Orders of $40 or more
Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 10, 2013 - 02:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: enermax, iVektor, atx case
The Enermax iVektor is an ATX case with quite a few drive bays, all tool-less installation and space at the top of the case for a radiator if you prefer watercooling. Three 5.25" bays and seven 3.5" of which four can be converted to 2.5" for SSDs ought to give you enough space for storage and controllers. Up to six 120mm fans can be installed, that number drops to four if you install a 240mm radiator at the top of the case. [H]ard|OCP were impressed with both the thermal performance and low noise of the case as well as the with customization possible, earning this ~$80 case a Gold Award.
"Enermax has long been an enthusiast brand associated with some of the best computer power supplies made in the industry. Over the last couple of years it has also developed a very strong following in computer case arena with DIYers. Today we look at the iVektor case designed by Enermax and it looks to be a strong contender for your next build."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Enermax iVektor Casemod @ Hardware Asylum
- Cooler Master Cosmos SE Case Review @ Modders-Inc
- SilverStone Fortress FT04 @ Phoronix
- BitFenix Phenom Mini-ITX Case @ SPCR
- Chenbro SR30169 Mini-ITX Server Chassis @ SPCR
- Fractal Node 304 White Computer Case Review @ Madshrimps
- CaseLabs Mercury S5 Case Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Corsair Graphite Series 230T @ Kitguru
- Fractal Design Define XL R2 Computer Case @ NikKTech
- Corsair Graphite 230T Battleship Grey Mid Tower Case Review @ Legit Reviews
- BitFenix Prodigy M mATX Case @ Benchmark Reviews
- Aerocool GT-S Black Edition @ techPowerUp
- 120mm Water Cooler Round Up w/ Cooler Master, Scythe and Zalman @ Legit Reviews
- 120mm Water Cooler Round Up Part 2 - Looking Inside @ Legit Reviews
- Scythe Kaze Chrono @ Funky Kit
- Noctua NH-U14S Heatsink Review @ Frostytech
- Noctua NH-U14S @ [H]ard|OCP
- Scythe Mugen 4 @ [H]ard|OCP
Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2013 - 01:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: flying car, e-volo, octadecacopter
You may remember a video featuring an unholy combination of an excercise ball and a quadrocopter from a company called e-volo. Over the past two years they have made a lot of progress towards creating a real electric flying car by teaming up with a variety of companies each with their own technical specialties. The carbon fibre composite frame and props were developed by an established sail plane company while the fail safe ballistic parachute was designed by a German aviation company. Many other companies have tried developing everything in house which is likely why you don't see M400X's everywhere by now. As you can see by the design the VC200 is similar to a scaled up quadrocopter with brushless electric motors powering the 18 props; far more than are actually needed so that you will remain in the air even if some fail. Other safety features include a backup battery which can only be used to land and the aforementioned parachute which does not have to worry about rotor placements like on a traditional helicopter. You can see some of the development history at Hack a Day.
"The e-volo VC200 has made it’s maiden unmanned flight. Does the craft above look a bit familiar? We first reported on the e-volo team back in 2011. Things have been going great for the team since then. They’ve created an 18 motor (Octadecacopter?) prototype dubbed the VC200."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel Labs cooperates with Asustek to improve cloud computing storage @ DigiTimes
- Xbox One Headset 2.5 mm Plug Adapter @ Hack a Day
- Exploits no more! Firefox 26 blocks all Java plugins by default @ The Register
- How's it going, Microsoft users? Patching your PCs? You SHOULD be @ The Register
- Nvidia ShadowPlay Gameplay Recording Software @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech | December 6, 2013 - 01:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Today's Alienware 14 deal is for a 14" 1080p laptop with quite a bit inside of it's compact chassis. A core i7-4700MQ, 8GB DDR3-1600 and a 1GB GeForce GTX 750M offer decent performance and connectivity includes Bluetooth and a KillerNIC handling WiFi. Storage is a 750GB 7200RPM HDD and a DVD Burner you can upgrade to a BlueRay if you so desire. It comes with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit installed.
- Alienware 14 "Haswell" Core i7 1080p Gaming Laptop w/ GeForce GT 750M for $1,149.00 with Free Shipping (normally $3,499.99 - use coupon code: 1PBNCDBWQLQD95).
- Samsung UN40EH5300 40" 120Hz LED Smart HDTV + $125 Gift Card for$497.99 with Free Shipping(normally $529.99).
- ASUS GeForce GTX 760 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express Video Card + FREE Assassin Creed IV + Splinter Cell Game for $239.99 with Free Shipping(normally $269.99).
- TP-LINK TL-WN822N 300Mbps High Gain Wireless-N USB Adapter for $14.99 (normally $24.99).
- Acer G226HQLBbd 21.5" LED-backlight LCD Monitor for $99.99 with free shipping(normally $159.99).
- Seagate 1TB Solid State Hybrid 3.5" Desktop Drive for $79.99 with Free Shipping(normally $109.99).
Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 03:03 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: linux, valve, SteamOS, hsa foundation, hsa
Valve may very well produce one of the near future's most popular non-mobile, consumer, Linux distributions. SteamOS will be marketed for gaming PCs (some very compelling ones at that) starting next year. CES will definitely be interesting. With such a popular distribution, and as an existing member of the Khronos Group, it makes sense for Valve to join the Linux Foundation... and they just did.
It is still unknown to what extent Valve joined Linux (members are classified by level of contribution from Platinum to Silver) and we likely will not know until their list is updated. While they probably will not be hanging out with Intel and others in the platinum category, Silver is not the most noteworthy of statuses... alongside Barnes and Noble (likely because of the Nook) and Twitter.
Another addition is the HSA Foundation. AMD is already a Gold member (y'know... HSA's faja) and ARM is Silver so I cannot see HSA being much more than that. Still, Linux will be an important focus for the heterogeneous computing architectures to endorse: both in terms of back-end server optimization and customer-facing devices.
Of course I am not belittling any contribution. Still, there is that desire to see Valve lead the pack. Ultimately, though, it is not the size of the badge: it is how you wear it.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 5, 2013 - 03:17 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: linux, nvidia surround, eyefinity
Could four 1080p monitors be 4K on the cheap? Probably not... but keep reading.
Image Credit: Phoronix
Phoronix published an article for users interested in quad monitor gaming on Linux. Sure, you might think this is a bit excessive especially considering the bezel at the center of your screen. On the other hand, imagine you are playing a four player split-screen game. That would definitely get some attention. Each player would be able to tilt their screen out of the view of their opponents while only using a single computer.
In his 8-page editorial, Michael Larabel tests the official and popular open source drivers for both AMD and NVIDIA. The winner was NVIDIA's proprietary driver although the open source solution, Nouveau, seemed to fair the worst of the batch. This is the typical trade-off with NVIDIA. It was only just recent that The Green Giant opened up documentation for the other chefs in the kitchen... so these results may change soon.
If you are interested in gaming on Linux, give the article a read.
Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2013 - 12:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: interconnect, fibre optics, 32 Gbps, HPC
With new emphasis on building modular HPC machines from multitudes of low powered processors working in parallel interconnect technology needs to provide immense amounts of bandwidth. This is becoming much closer to reality as 32 Gbps channel is undergoing standardization and will likely be quickly accepted and certified. Products using this standard are still a year or more from market but will likely be quickly adopted by companies who depend on large arrays of VMs. According to the roadmap on The Register 64 Gbps is already starting development with 2016 as a possible goal for its standardization process to begin.
"The Association has let it be known that the “INCITS T11 standards committee has recently completed the Fibre Channel Physical Interface - sixth generation (FC-PI-6) industry standard for specifying 32 Gigabit per second (Gbps) Fibre Channel and will forward it to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for publication in the first quarter of 2014."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Apple, Microsoft, Google and others ask for less NSA snooping @ The Inquirer
- $40 Lens Hack Gives Your FLIR Higher Resolution @ Hack a Day
- AT&T strikes deal to offer LTE data roaming in Canada @ Engadget
- My best Oculus Rift experiences to date @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 01:57 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: mozilla, webgl
Tools for web developers are pretty astonishing these days. You are able to investigate the driving elements and objects as they are being executed within the browser -- and even modify them. This typically means that you can play around with the various functions and parameters while the app is loaded. You receive immediate feedback about your changes.
Web Standards continue to encompass 3D and other game-related tasks. As a result, developer tools are beginning to take advantage of their browser's managed architecture making it easier to tweak and debug content. In other words: you can poke your 3D scene as it is being rendered.
Now this is quite interesting. Basically all of the GPU's involvement in drawing a 3D scene comes down to two scripts (at least for WebGL 1.0): a vertex shader and a fragment shader. These are operations that run once for every vertex in a scene and once for every pixel an object in a scene occupies, respectively. Together they form a "program" which gives an object's geometry something tangible for users to see.
Here is an example of Unreal Engine 3 being modified at runtime.
The developer tools within Firefox 27 will allow you to modify these scripts at runtime and even turn specific draw calls on or off. This should vastly speed up the rate at which developers modify their effects especially when it comes to fine tuning specific variables such as the rate that waves flow in a water material.
Firefox 27 is expected to be the release version in early February; it is currently in the Aurora channel.
Subject: Storage | December 5, 2013 - 05:08 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: hgst, SAS, ssd, SSD800MM, enterprise ssd
For Enterprise level performance nothing beats SAS as it can sustain transfer speeds of up to 12Gbps if your storage media is fast enough. The partnership of Intel and HGST bring you just such a drive, rated at 700MB/s and 1150MB/s for sequential reads and writes and IOPS of 145K and 70K for random reads and writes respectively. If that isn't enough to make you jealous, The SSD Review also had a chance to test this SSD as part of an eight disk RAID.
"If you have been following The SSD Review in 2013, you are probably familiar with our coverage of 12Gbps SAS. Throughout the year we have covered HBAs, RAID Adapters, Enclosures and SSDs. We have been incredibly busy reviewing new products, but one product in particular has stood out. In all of our 12Gbps SAS reviews we have sung the praises of the HGST SSD800MM. Since the SSD800MM was more of a means to an end when reviewing the LSI SAS 9300-8e, we never really gave it its proper due. With this update, we wanted to put this SSD into perspective after nearly a year’s worth of 12Gbps SAS testing."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Toshiba PX02SS 12Gbps SAS Enterprise (400GB) @ SSD Review
- OCZ Vector 150 240GB @ Legion Hardware
- M.2 NGFF PCIe SSD Adapter @ SSD Review
- ioSwitch Raijin M.2 NGFF PCIe @ SSD Review
- VisionTek Data Fusion PCIe (480GB) @ SSD Review
- Western Digital RED 4TB Hard Drive Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Western Digital Red (WD40EFRX) 4 TB NAS Hard Disk Drive @ TechARP
- Synology DS1513+ Scalable NAS for SMB Review @ Madshrimps
- Western Digital My Cloud 2TB @ eTeknix
- Thecus N2560 NAS Server @ NikKTech
- Western Digital Black² Dual Drive Review – Two drives in one! @ TechwareLabs
- Western Digital Black² 1TB Dual Drive Review @ Hardware Canucks
- WD Black² Dual Drive @ Legion Hardware
- iStarUSA BPN-2535DE-SA SATA 6Gb/s Hot-Swap Cage @ NikKTech
- Lexar JumpDrive P10 32 GB USB 3.0 @ techPowerUp
- Buffalo LinkStation LS421DE Enclosure @ Kitguru
- ADATA HE720 500GB Slim External Hard Drive Review @HiTech Legion
- ADATA DashDrive HV620 External Hard Drive @ Benchmark Reviews
Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2013 - 12:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Dell's UltraSharp U2412M is a 16:10 format 1920x1200 24" IPS display with a response time of 6ms which makes it quite acceptable for gaming duties. The colour gamut is good enough for some professional work and is quite good for the asking price. It also comes with a 3 year warranty which might make it more attractive than ordering a display from Korea for anyone worried about dead pixels or other possible issues.
- Dell UltraSharp U2412M 24" 1920 x 1200 LED-backlit IPS LCD Monitor for $249.99 with Free Shipping (normally $369.99 - use coupon code: VRK785QMF?V1T4).
- Creative Fatal1ty Circumaural Gaming Headset for$24.99 with Free Shipping(normally $49.99).
- Western Digital 4TB Red IntelliPower SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive for $179.99 with Free Shipping(normally $219.99 - use coupon code: EMCWVWX49).
- Acer G226HQLBbd 21.5" LED-backlight LCD Monitor for $99.99(normally $219.99 - use coupon code: EMCWVXP87).
- Pinnacle MB10000+ 1000-Watt Audiophile 5.1 Speaker System for $299.99 with free shipping(normally $1,299.99).
- Samsung UN46EH5000 46" 1080p 120Hz LED HDTV for $597.99 with free shipping(normally $699.99).
- ThinkGeek Coupon: 50% off 12 Best-Selling Items(use coupon code: 10ONSALE).
Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 07:33 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: sony, Data Breach
Sony has detected "irregular activity" on their network and, as a precaution, have initiated password resets for several of their customers. Of course the great PlayStation hack is still fresh in our memory. Beyond the potential reference jokes, this time could be a sign that they learned their lesson.
My hands are still in head-crushing formation.
My gut feeling is that Sony has noticed odd traffic from attackers trying to use break into accounts using information compromised from other sources (such as the recent Adobe hack). I actually received a similar email from Blizzard, just a couple of weeks after the Adobe hack, urging me to reset my password. It does not surprise me that whoever has access to the blob (heck it is probably public by now) would be poking gaming services to extort or troll.
I will give Sony the benefit of the doubt (especially considering how probable it is) and say they have learned from their lesson. This is the same practice used by to good security firms: push the big red reset button whenever something looks fishy and keeps your affected customers informed.
Of course I could eat my words if it is found out that Sony knows of a gigantic problem behind the scenes -- but I doubt it. Congratulations on handling the situation properly, Sony, even if it does open you up to misinformed trolls.
Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 01:32 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: elder scrolls online
The Elder Scrolls Online is coming and one of the hooks of the franchise is its character customization. Hours can be spent preparing and building characters into whatever the player desires. Many factors can be tweaked to make the perfect archer, mage, or thief. Some versions even allow the player to be infected with vampirism or lycanthropy to become a vampire or a werewolf.
Bethesda has just released a video outlining various possible customizations. Yes, there will be quests to infect your character with the two aforementioned diseases. I am sure that is what you all really wanted to know.
Basically the levelling system is as follows: when you gain a level you gain a point to add to your stats and another point to add to your skills. Attribute (stats) points let you choose whether to increase your health, magika, or stamina. Skill points allow you to learn spells or abilities; using these skills pushes that skill further down its "line". You can then branch ("morph") that ability's skill tree out in some direction. The example given is a friendly restoration skill: at some point you will be allowed to choose whether to heal three (instead of one) allies or have it replenish some of your magika. A common mechanic but, now, one confirmed in the game.
The Elder Scrolls Online is expected to be released this spring for PC, Mac, PS4, and Xbox One.
Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2013 - 01:21 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Just look at that elegant flip-hinge design on the new Dell XPS 12 with it's 1080p touchscreen for use with Windows 8. It is powered by an i5-3317U, 4GB DDR3-1600 and a 128GB SSD which will be perfect for mobile usage. Plenty of wireless connectivity is available and if you wish you can upgrade to a more powerful model.
- Dell XPS 12 Core i5 Convertible 1080p Touchscreen Tablet w/ Windows 8 for $849.99 with Free Shipping (normally $1,199.99 - use coupon code: WD0RTDJWM4QC1F).
- Corsair Raptor M40 Wired Optical 4000 DPI Gaming Mouse for $35.99 with Free Shipping(normally $59.99).
- Symantec Norton 360 Version 2013 (3-PC DL) for $28.00 with Free Shipping(normally $59.99).
- Samsung S27C390H 27-Inch LED-Backlight LCD Monitor for $179.99(normally $219.99 - use coupon code: MASTERPASS).
- Kingston HyperX 3K 2.5" 240GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD for $143.99 with free shipping(normally $204.99 - use coupon code: MASTERPASS).
- VIZIO E320I-A0 32" 720p Smart LED HDTV for $288.00 with free shipping(normally $328.00).
- Star Wars Darth Vader USB Hub for $23.99 with free shipping(normally $34.99).
Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 03:59 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: GCC, Rust, mozilla
Rust is an interesting language in that it aims to be safe and concurrent. It was discussed frequently at Mozilla Summit back in early October both on its own and in terms of the experimental HTML5 rendering engine, Servo. From how it was describe to me from other attendees, it prides itself on its task-based architecture. Basically, your application is (or, at least, is often) set up like a bunch of tasks that get scheduled concurrently and pass messages to one another if they want to communicate. This concept allow for efficient multithreading because each task is inherently independent.
This may remind you of the experiments John Carmack did with Wolfenstein and Haskell.
Apparently at least one developer from the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) is also paying attention. Philip Herron has been working on the "gccrs" branch to create a GCC front-end for Mozilla's language.
We will need languages like Rust in the near future as processors continue to ramp up in thread count. Just look at the Xeon Phi story from last week: a bootable 288-thread standalone processor based on the Silvermont architecture. If you want this processor to be used efficiently then you better be light on the main thread otherwise your 6 TFLOPs (3 TFLOPs double-precision) will only be quick to behave like an Atom.
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