Flash player not detected. Click here to install flash.
« 1 2 3 4 5 »

Final Fantasy XIII, XIII-2, and Lightning Returns Comes to PC

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2014 - 02:50 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, final fantasy xv, final fantasy xiii, final fantasy

Square Enix is "very interested" in the PC platform. They acknowledge that the Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII Steam re-releases were quite popular. These titles were originally released on the PC in 1998 and 2000, respectively. They are now interested enough to bring the three titles in the Final Fantasy XIII universe to Steam that were Xbox 360 and PS3 exclusives. Also, the first title is launching for $16, $14.39 on pre-order, so they are not even gouging us with a full-price tag.

square-final-fantasy-xiii.jpg

The first title will be available in two and a half weeks (October 9th). The other two are expected to roll out by Spring 2015. Also, Final Fantasy IV was released on September 17th. They are actually releasing them faster than most people can probably play them. The flood gates are open. In their Final Fantasy XIII news post, PC Gamer muses about the rest of the franchise reaching the PC, such as FFX and FFX-2. It would make sense. I mean, they released (or are working on) seven remakes, not even counting the two MMOs. That is already a large chunk of the main franchise.

Personally, I wonder if this is testing the waters for Final Fantasy XV.

Final Fantasy XIII is being released on October 9th for about $15, give or take a dollar.

Source: PC Gamer

Acer has a Switch you would actually want

Subject: Mobile | September 16, 2014 - 12:26 PM |
Tagged: acer, inspire switch 12, core m, 5Y10a

The Inquirer had a chance for some hands on time with the new Acer Aspire Switch 12 convertible tablet and keyboard.  It is powered by the new Core M 5Y10a at 1Ghz, which does not require a fan and has 4GB of RAM and runs Win8.  The screen specifications were not listed but their eyeballs suggest the screen is a full 1080p which is a great improvement from the usual 1366x768 on these convertible devices.  They were not overly impressed by the quality of the keyboard or the process to attach or remove it from the screen but the sacrifice in aesthetics does help to keep the device very light and thin when the keyboard dock is attached. You can see their preview here, hopefully a full review will appear soon.

acer-aspire-switch-12-hands-on-front-540x334.JPG

"The Aspire Switch 12 is the successor to the Taiwanese firm's previous affordable multi-mode device, the Aspire Switch 10. It boasts a slimmer design thanks to Intel's new 14nm fanless processor, has a 12.5in display and features five alternative viewing modes."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: The Inquirer

Corsair Unleashes Corsair Gaming RGB Keyboards, RGB Mice, and Headsets

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2014 - 10:22 AM |
Tagged: audio, input, corsair, K95 RGB, K70 RGB, K65 RGB, M65 RGB, H2100, H1500

Corsair is launching a new website focused on their gaming products, along with new products and a contest.  The contest has a grand prize of a complete system while three runners up will get a set of Corsair peripherals including the ones announced below.  Those colourful peripherals below include three different keyboards ranging from the largest with additional macro keys to the smallest with no numpad.  There is a new mouse and a pair of headphones, with the H2100 offering wireless performance while the H1500 will still need an umbilical.  Check the hole list after watching their lauch video.

Fremont, CA — September 22, 2014 — Corsair, a leader in PC hardware, today launched Corsair Gaming, a new division within the company dedicated to the elevation of PC gaming and the development of high-performance PC peripherals. Forged from Corsair’s engineering know-how and developed alongside eSports professionals and gaming enthusiasts, Corsair Gaming products are driven by a philosophy of performance, style, and comfort. Corsair Gaming’s first salvo is the immediate world wide release of the much-anticipated range of RGB keyboards and mice.

“For 20 years, Corsair has equipped gamers with high performance, precision hardware to build their dream PCs. Corsair Gaming now introduces new ways for PC gamers to optimize how they play,” said Andy Paul, Corsair President and CEO. “We’ve brought together our engineering expertise and our passion for gaming to build a line of products that delivers performance, customized for however you play.”

unnamed.png

K95 RGB, K70 RGB, and K65 RGB Gaming Keyboards
With their color-customizable, 16.8 million color backlighting, the K95 RGB, K70 RGB, and K65 RGB are the headliners of the Corsair Gaming brand. All three keyboards use only German-made Cherry MX RGB mechanical key switches as part of an exclusive-to-launch partnership with Cherry.

Each key switch is built with the exacting precision of Cherry’s self-cleaning, corrosion-proof Gold-Crosspoint electrical contacts, and with over five billion sold, Cherry MX mechanical key switches are the premier choice of professional gamers and enthusiasts who demand uncompromising reliability and performance. Combined with Corsair Gaming’s distinctive aircraft-grade aluminum baseplate, Cherry MX RGB key switches deliver a professional-level gaming keyboard that ensures both consistency and accuracy with the touch of every key.

The K95, K70, and K65 RGB keyboards exhibit Corsair’s hallmark features: sleek design, ultra-precision components, and sturdy aircraft-grade aluminum construction that guarantee long-lasting performance.

Powerful Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) software enables the creation of unlimited lighting effects and macros, from solid colors that can highlight key groupings, to smooth gradients, dramatic waves and captivating ripple patterns. These customization options let gamers match their PC system lighting, find gaming keys faster, and provide critical visual feedback for executing in-game objectives.

Corsair Gaming understands that gamers demand choice when it comes to their hardware, so the K95, K70 and K65 RGBs cater to you every need – including size. All three support complete macro programmability on any key, with the K95 RGB offering an additional array of 18 dedicated macro keys and dedicated media-keys. In contrast, the compact 10-keyless K65 RGB removes the number pad and media keys for a desk-space-saving design, while the K70 RGB offers the standard keyboard layout and media keys that has already made its predecessor the choice for serious gamers.

  • 100% German-made Cherry MX RGB mechanical Red, Blue or Brown key switches (K65 RGB available with Red key switches)
  • 16.8 million multicolor per-key backlighting for virtually unlimited customization
  • Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) enables users to create and customize their own lighting patterns, animations, and macros
  • Aircraft-grade black anodized brushed aluminum for superior rigidity
  • 100% anti-ghosting with full key rollover on USB
  • Onboard memory stores performance and lighting settings
  • Two-year warranty
  • K95 RGB: $189.99 MSRP
  • K70 RGB: $169.99 MSRP
  • K65 RGB: $149.99 MSRP (available exclusively from Best Buy in the US, and other retailers worldwide)

mos.png

M65 RGB Gaming Mice
The M65 RGB gaming mouse – available in black or white – continues Corsair Gaming’s focus on RGB color customization. This high-end gaming mouse goes beyond the industry standard with built-in three-zone 16.8 million color backlighting. Housed on a durable aluminum unibody chassis, the 8,200 DPI, gaming-grade laser sensor helps gamers make their mark, with a sniper button ensuring the most critical of shots stays on target. Charging the battlefield with a rubber-grip metal high-mass scroll wheel, eight programmable buttons, and adjustable weight turning zones, the M65 RGB mouse balances precise control and intelligent tracking with innate comfort and style.

  • Three-zone backlighting with up to 16.8 million colors for virtually infinite customization
  • Custom-tuned 8,200 DPI gaming-grade laser sensor for pixel-precise tracking
  • High-capacity Omron switches rated for 20 million clicks for years of precise triggering
  • Aircraft-grade aluminum baseplate for light weight and durability
  • Adjustable weight system helps set the center of gravity to match play style
  • Eight strategically placed buttons, including a dedicated sniper button with improved positioning
  • On-the-fly DPI switching to instantly match mouse speed to gameplay demands
  • Two-year warranty
  • $69.99 MSRP

hed.png

H2100 and H1500 Gaming Headsets
The Corsair Gaming H1500 and H2100 Headsets are part of Corsair’s new line of high-performance gaming equipment. Joining the K95, K70, and K65 RRB Keyboards and M65 RGB Mice, the H1500 and H2100 Headsets fully immerse gamers – and their ears – in battle. In both wired and wireless options, the Corsair Gaming Headsets offer Dolby 7.1 surround sound for accurate positional audio that captures the acoustic environment of every moment of gameplay. The H1500 keeps gameplay closer to the system, while the H2100 enables gamers to play for over 10 hours with up to 40 feet of unrestricted movement, combining epic audio and optimum comfort without the hassle of wires.

  • Genuine Dolby 7.1 surround sound for complete immersion
  • Micro-fiber wrapped memory foam earpads for comfortable gaming sessions
  • Advanced unidirectional noise-cancelling microphone
  • Oversized 50mm neodymium drivers for crystal clear audio
  • H2100 headset offers wireless freedom up to 40 feet and over 10 hours per charge
  • 2-year warranty
  • $79.99-$99.99

Source: Corsair

Event on September 30th "For Windows and the Enterprise"

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 08:01 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows 9, threshold

In two weeks, Microsoft will be holding an event to communicate where Windows is going. It is expected that a public technical preview will launch either at the show, or immediately thereafter. The invitation reads, "Join us to hear about what's next for Windows and the enterprise." This seems to mean that the next version of their desktop OS, probably called Windows 9, will have a strong focus on enterprise features. Contrast this with Windows 8, which I feel comfortable saying wanted to win consumers away from iOS and Android tablets.

Microsoft-windows9invite.0.0_standard_800.0.png

Image Credit: The Verge

Virtual desktops and the Start Menu's return were strong signs, too.

Pretty much the only announcement that they could make to get me excited would be sideloading for all versions (which would also remove developer certificate requirements for those apps). I know that it is seductive from a "gatekeeper against malware" point of view, but it decimates the whole reason for having a computer. The Windows Store requirements are just too terrible. No third-party browser engines? C'mon. Microsoft has expressed their continued support of these regulations at Build, but I can hope for a surprise. Seriously Microsoft, give users the option to install what they want, regardless of the API used.

Two weeks until we know. We might even have access by then.

Source: The Verge

Logitech G910 Orion Spark RGB Mechanical Keyboard Announced for November at $179.99

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | September 17, 2014 - 01:04 AM |
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, logitech, g910 orion spark rgb, g910

The newly announced Logitech G910 Orion Spark RGB mechanical keyboard is based on their own mechanical switch, developed in partnership with Omron, dubbed "Romer-G". It supports 16.8 million colors in the backlight under each individual key. Logitech will provide software to control this lighting and an SDK for developers to integrate custom functionality into their game. It includes nine macro buttons with three profiles.

Logitech-G910_OrionSpark_TOP_OnWhite-reduced.jpg

The Romer-G switch is (at least currently) exclusive to this keyboard. It is designed with a very small actuation point, 1.5mm from the top of the key. This means that you finger will need to travel less distance, and thus take less time, before the action is registered. From a feeling standpoint, they have a soft spring and a tactile bump at the point of actuation, but no click. Logitech did not comment on whether the G910 contains o-rings to further dampen the sound.

The switches are designed for high durability as well, with an expected lifespan of 70 million keystrokes (compared to 50 million advertised by Cherry and 60 million for Razer). That said, mechanical switches are designed to be put in industrial and medical devices and left unmaintained for decades, so I am not sure how practical that advantage will be.

Their partner, Omron, also collaborates with Logitech on mechanical switches for mice.

The Logitech G910 Orion Spark RGB in planned to be released this November for $179.99.

Source: Logitech G

Google+ Not Required for Google Accounts Anymore

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2014 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: google, google+

I cannot help but feel like this is a step on the eventual phasing-out of Google's most recent attempt at a standalone social network, Google+. Until just recently, the company was doing all that they could to force it into each of their services; now, they give you a "no thanks" option when creating a Google account (for GMail, Google Docs, and so forth).

google-plus-integration.jpeg

Image Credit: Marketing Land

Marketing Land claims to disagree. They expect that Google will "continue making subtle changes to the service" such as enhancements to Hangouts and Hangouts on Air, or even spinning out Google+ Photos. The thing is, these initiatives will not mean that they are supporting Google+; rather, it says that they are supporting the parts of it that worked. The article did not even mention actual Google+, the social network, as something that Google might consider updating -- just Hangouts and other sub-products.

This all depends on what you consider "Google" to be. Not having a profile on a message-sharing service does not really change much, despite how it feels. The real point should be reducing the barrier-to-entry for cross-promotion. A unified login helps in reducing effort to acquire new users without any real risk. Forcing users into your ecosystem could help, if it does not shove them away.

And Google seems to care even less about keeping users in their eco-system with a limited communication and microblogging platform.

The EVGA X99 Classified is expensive and impressive

Subject: Motherboards | September 19, 2014 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: evga, X99, X99 Classified

The EVGA X99 Classified is definitely a premium board as it carries a $400 price tag and Legit Reviews took a look at it to see if it was worth the price.  It certainly comes with a lot of extras including 2-way, 3-way and 4-way SLI Bridges in addition to an assortment of other cables and headers.  As is implied this board can support 4 way SLI or CrossFire with it's five PCIe x16 slots as well as a 4x slot.  It bears two M.2 ports, one a type 2 and one type 3 as well as an onboard Creative Sound Core3D codex.  The overclocking potential is good, Legit hit Core i7-5960X at 4.5GHz at only 1.33V and they highly recommend it to anyone that can afford it.

evga-x99-classified-layout-2-645x468.jpg

"EVGA has been known as some of the best components out there for some time now. Today I have the opportunity to look at the flagship motherboard from their Intel X99 product stack. The EVGA X99 Classified motherboard (151-HE-E999-KR) is hitting the shelves with a retail price of only $399.99! The EVGA X99 Classified isn’t geared for the casual overclockers, it’s built for those that want to push the Intel core i7-5960X to the extreme speeds using liquid nitrogen and other sub-ambient cooling methods. Read on to see how this board performs!"

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Micron launches M600 SATA SSD with innovative SLC/MLC Dynamic Write Acceleration

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | September 16, 2014 - 11:29 AM |
Tagged: ssd, slc, sata, mlc, micron, M600, crucial

You may already be familiar with the Micron Crucial M550 line of SSDs (if not, familiarize yourself with our full capacity roundup here). Today Micron is pushing their tech further by releasing a new M600 line. The M600's are the first full lineup from Micron to use their 16nm flash (previously only in their MX100 line). Aside from the die shrink, Micron has addressed the glaring issue we noted in our M550 review - that issue being the sharp falloff in write speeds in lower capacities of that line. Their solution is rather innovative, to say the least.

Recall the Samsung 840 EVO's 'TurboWrite' cache, which gave that drive a burst of write speed during short sustained write periods. The 840 EVO accomplished this by each TLC die having a small SLC section of flash memory. All data written passed through this cache, and once full (a few GB, varying with drive capacity), write speed slowed to TLC levels until the host system stopped writing for long enough for the SSD to flush the cached data from SLC to TLC.

high_res_M600D_form_factors_1.jpg

The Micron M600 SSD in 2.5" SATA, MSATA, and M.2 form factors.

Micron flips the 'typical' concept of caching methods on its head. It does employ two different types of flash writing (SLC and MLC), but the first big difference is that the SLC is not really cache at all - not in the traditional sense, at least. The M600 controller, coupled with some changes made to Micron's 16nm flash, is able to dynamically change the mode of each flash memory die *on the fly*. For example, the M600 can place most of the individual 16GB (MLC) dies into SLC mode when the SSD is empty. This halves the capacity of each die, but with the added benefit of much faster and more power efficient writes. This means the M600 would really perform more like an SLC-only SSD so long as it was kept less than half full.

M600-1.png

As you fill the SSD towards (and beyond) half capacity, the controller incrementally clears the SLC-written data, moving that data onto dies configured to MLC mode. Once empty, the SLC die is switched over to MLC mode, effectively clearing more flash area for the increasing amount of user data to be stored on the SSD. This process repeats over time as the drive is filled, meaning you will see less SLC area available for accelerated writing (see chart above). Writing to the SLC area is also advantageous in mobile devices, as those writes not only occur more quickly, they consume less power in the process:

M600-2.png

For those worst case / power user scenarios, here is a graph of what a sustained sequential write to the entire drive area would look like:

M600-3.png

Realize this is not typical usage, but if it happened, you would see SLC speeds for the first ~45% of the drive, followed by MLC speeds for another 10%. After the 65% point, the drive is forced to initiate the process of clearing SLC and flipping dies over to MLC, doing so while the host write is still in progress, and therefore resulting in the relatively slow write speed (~50 MB/sec) seen above. Realize that in normal use (i.e. not filling the entire drive at full speed in one go), garbage collection would be able to rearrange data in the background during idle time, meaning write speeds should be near full SLC speed for the majority of the time. Even with the SSD nearly full, there should be at least a few GB of SLC-mode flash available for short bursts of SLC speed writes.

This caching has enabled some increased specs over the prior generation models:

M600-4.png

M600-5.png

Note the differences in write speeds, particularly in the lower capacity models. The 128GB M550 was limited to 190MB/sec, while the M600 can write at 400MB/sec in SLC mode (which is where it should sit most of the time).

We'll be testing the M600 shortly and will come back with a full evaluation of the SSD as a whole and more specifically how it handles this new tech under real usage scenarios.

Full press blast after the break.

Source: Micron

NVIDIA's Maxwell offers smart performance

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 19, 2014 - 11:17 AM |
Tagged: vr direct, video, nvidia, mfaa, maxwell, GTX 980, GTX 970, GM204, geforce, dx12, dsr

The answer to the two most important questions are as follows, the GTX 980 will cost you around $560 compared to the $500 for an R9 290X and the GTX 970 an attractive $330 compared to $380 for an R9 290.  Availability is hard to predict but the cards will be shipping soon and you can pre-order your choice of card by following the links on the last page of Ryan's review.  Among all the new features that have been added to this new GPU one of the most impressive is the power draw, as you can see in [H]ard|OCP's review this card pulls 100W less than the 290X at full load although it did run warmer than the 290X Double Dissipation card which [H] compared it to, something that may change with a 980 bearing a custom cooler.  Follow those links to see the benchmarking results of this card, both synthetic and in game.

14110637240cPED1snfp_5_15_l.jpg

"Today NVIDIA launches its newest Maxwell GPU. There will be two new GPUs, the GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970. These next generation GPUs usher in new features and performance that move the gaming industry forward. We discuss new features, architecture, and evaluate the gameplay performance against the competition."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

ASUS Announces STRIX GTX 980 and STRIX GTX 970

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 19, 2014 - 01:57 PM |
Tagged: asus, strix, STRIX GTX 970, STRIX GTX 980, maxwell

The ASUS STRIX series comes with a custom DirectCU II cooler that is capable of running at 0dB when not under full load, in fact you can choose the temperature at which the fans activate using the included GPU Tweak application.  The factory overclock is modest but thanks to that cooler and the 10-phase power you will be able to push the card even further. The best news is the price, you get all of these extras for almost the same price as the reference cards are selling at!

unnamed.jpg

Fremont, CA (19th September, 2014) - ASUS today announced the STRIX GTX 980 and STRIX GTX 970, all-new gaming graphics cards packed with exclusive ASUS technologies, including DirectCU II and GPU Tweak for cooler, quieter and faster performance. The STRIX GTX 980 and STRIX GTX 970 are factory-overclocked at 1279MHz and 1253MHz respectively and are fitted with 4GB of high-speed GDDR5 video memory operating at speeds up to 7010MHz for the best gameplay experience.

Play League of Legends and StarCraft in silence!
The STRIX GTX 980 and STRIX GTX 970 both come with the ASUS-exclusive DirectCU II cooling technology. With a 10mm a heatpipe to transport heat away from the GPU core, operating temperatures are 30% cooler and 3X quieter than reference designs. Efficient cooling and lower operating temperatures allow STRIX graphics cards to incorporate an intelligent fan-stop mode that can handle games such as League of Legends1 and StarCraft1 passively, making both cards ideal for gamers that prefer high-performance, low-noise PCs.

burger.jpg

Improved stability and reliability with Digi+ VRM technology
STRIX GTX 980 and STRIX GTX 970 graphics cards include Digi+ VRM technology. This 10-phase power design in the STRIX GTX 980 and 6-phase design in the STRIX GTX 970 uses a digital voltage regulator to reduce power noise by 30% and enhance energy efficiency by 15% – increasing long term stability and reliability. The STRIX GTX 970 is designed to use a single 8-pin power connecter for clean and easy cable management.

Real-time monitoring and control with GPU Tweak software
The STRIX GTX 980 and STRIX GTX 970 come with GPU Tweak, an exclusive ASUS tool that enables users to squeeze the very best performance from their graphics card. GPU Tweak provides the ability to finely control GPU speeds, voltages and video memory clock speeds in real time, so overclocking is easy and can be carried out with high confidence.

GPU Tweak also includes a streaming tool that lets users share on-screen action over the internet in real time, meaning others can watch live as games are played. It is even possible to add a title to the streaming window along with scrolling text, pictures and webcam images.

AVAILABILITY & PRICING
ASUS STRIX GTX 980 and GTX 970 graphics cards will be available at ASUS authorized resellers and distributors starting on September 19, 2014. Suggested US MSRP pricing is $559 for the STRIX GTX 980 and $339 for the STRIX GTX 970.

Source: ASUS

Grand Theft Auto V on PC Has First Person Mode???

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2014 - 05:59 PM |
Tagged: GTA5

gta5-lossantos.jpg

So... uh... this might happen. Apparently, there was a Google Cache posting of a Rockstar Games support page which claimed several new features for Grand Theft Auto V on the PC.

A brand new first person mode for vehicles that shows the interior of the vehicle, including working speedometers, tachometers, dash lights, and more

(...)

A brand new first person mode while on foot

The most weird part is that it was listed in a part of the page, unfortunately deleted from Google Cache, that seemed to list PC-exclusive features. That is, not exclusive to the re-release for PS4, Xbox One, and PC -- just exclusive to the PC. This is, of course, going by memory. I could have misread it the first time, before it was deleted.

Also, since no-one seems to have seen the page outside of Google Cache, it could have (somehow) been a faked injection. I can confirm that it existed on Google Cache from a Rockstar-owned URL, though. I've never heard of that happening before, but PC Gamer seems to have heard of it.

Hey, if that list was the reason for the delay, I'll take it, Rockstar. I don't approve of the other platforms getting an inferior experience without a technical reason, being a PC gamer for so long makes me empathetic, but maybe it will come to them. Often PC versions were cut down and delayed out of fear of development costs and piracy. Maybe, in this case, they took that time to make a better product. That would be novel.

Grand Theft Auto V for the PC is coming on January 27th, 2014 2015.

Source: PC Gamer

ECS "Design Your Own LIVA" Competition Is Almost Over!

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 17, 2014 - 11:27 PM |
Tagged: LIVA, ECS, case mods, case mod contest

ECS USA is holding a competition for North American users to design mods for the LIVA mini PC kit. The contest consists of three phases and round one, whose winners will advance to the second phase, ends on September 30th. If you want to enter in the contest, you will need to submit your first phase entry before then to be eligible for the second phase. Check out Morry's post for a second opinion.

ECS-Liva-Logo.png

What are the phases?

Round 1 (Ends September 30th): You will need to publish the "soft copy" of your design draft to Facebook. This will consist of six illustrations: Front, Rear, Left Side, Right Side, Top, and 45-degree 3D illustration. See the image below for an example. The top ten participants, based on Facebook likes, will be provided with a white LIVA mini PC kit to modify in Round 2.

ECS-LIVA-design-spec.png

Round 2 (Ends October 31st): The winners of Round 1 will, using the provided LIVA kits and your design draft, implement their customizations. Photographs of these modified cases will be sent to ECS (I assume by Facebook) for a team of judges to rank them first, second, third, or runner-up.

Round 3 (November 7th): Sit back, relax, and wait for the judges to select winners. The Champion will receive $1000 USD for their trouble, second place will get $500 USD, and third will get $300 USD. The honorable mentions will get various swags.

The contest is open to residents of the USA and Canada. Do it fast! It's less than two weeks and, as I understand it, the later you enter, the less time you will have to accumulate Facebook likes.

Source: ECS

IDF 2014 Storage Roundup - RAM and NVMe and IOPS! Oh my!

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | September 16, 2014 - 09:49 AM |
Tagged: ram, NVMe, IOPS, idf 2014, idf, ddr4, DDR

The Intel Developer Forum was last week, and there were many things to be seen for sure. Mixed in with all of the wearable and miniature technology news, there was a sprinkling of storage goodness. Kicking off the show, we saw new cold storage announcements from both HGST and Western Digital, but that was about it for HDD news, as the growing trend these days is with solid state storage technologies. I'll start with RAM:

First up was ADATA, who were showing off 64GB DDR3 (!) DIMMs:

DSC05446.JPG

Next up were various manufacturers pushing DDR4 technology quite far. First was SK Hynix's TSV 128GB DIMMs (covered in much greater depth last week):

DSC05415.JPG

Next up is Kingston, who were showing a server chassis equipped with 256GB of DDR4:

DSC05460.JPG

If you look closer at the stats, you'll note there is more RAM in this system than flash:

DSC05462.JPG

Next up is IDT, who were showing off their LRDIMM technology:

DSC05454.JPG

This technology adds special data buffers to the DIMM modules, enabling significantly higher amounts of installed RAM into a single system, with a 1-2 step de-rating of clock speeds as you take capacities to the far extremes. The above server has 768GB of DDR4 installed and running!:

DSC05455.JPG

Moving onto flash memory type stuff, Scott covered Intel's new 40 Gbit Ethernet technology last week. At IDF, Intel had a demo showing off some of the potential of these new faster links:

DSC05430.JPG

This demo used a custom network stack that allowed a P3700 in a local system to be matched in IOPS by an identical P3700 *being accessed over the network*. Both local and networked storage turned in the same 450k IOPS, with the remote link adding only 8ms of latency. Here's a close-up of one of the SFF-8639 (2.5" PCIe 3.0 x4) SSDs and the 40 Gbit network card above it (low speed fans were installed in these demo systems to keep some air flowing across the cards):

DSC05438.JPG

Stepping up the IOPS a bit further, Microsoft was showing off the capabilities of their 'Inbox AHCI driver', shown here driving a pair of P3700's at a total of 1.5 million IOPS:

DSC05445.JPG

...for those who want to get their hands on this 'Inbox driver', guess what? You already have it! "Inbox" is Microsoft's way of saying the driver is 'in the box', meaning it comes with Windows 8. Bear in bind you may get better performance with manufacturer specific drivers, but it's still a decent showing for a default driver.

Now for even more IOPS:

DSC05441.JPG

Yes, you are reading that correctly. That screen is showing a system running over 11 million IOPS. Think it's RAM? Wrong. This is flash memory pulling those numbers. Remember the 2.5" P3700 from a few pics back? How about 24 of them:

DSC05443.JPG

The above photo shows three 2U systems (bottom), which are all connected to a single 2U flash memory chassis (top). The top chassis supports three submodules, each with eight SFF-8639 SSDs. The system, assembled by Newisys, demonstrates just how much high speed flash you can fit within an 8U space. The main reason for connecting three systems to one flash chassis is because it takes those three systems to process the full IOPS capability of 24 low latency NVMe SSDs (that's 96 total lanes of PCIe 3.0!)!

So there you have it, IDF storage tech in a nutshell. More to come as we follow these emerging technologies to their maturity.

Flexible FinFETs are feasible

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 11:38 AM |
Tagged: FinFET, flexible

We've seen a few examples of OLEDs being used to create flexible displays but they are much slower than their unbending silicon rivals.  With conductive ink and thread it is possible to make wearable technology but again the silicon components remain solid and immobile.  Researchers in Saudi Arabia have been working on flexible technology which retains the speed of silicon transistors but is able to flex up to 0.5 mm which may sound large until you remember the size of a transistor.  They have created these FinFETs by putting a thin layer of a polymer on top of the material they will be etching the transistors into and gently removing the polymer once the process has completed.  This results in a FinFET which retains the power saving and performance attributes common to the 3D transistor but with the ability to bend.  This won't be marketed for a while yet but in the mean time read all about it on Nanotechweb.

pic1.jpg

"Researchers at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudia Arabia are continuing with their experiments to transform traditional rigid electronic wafers made from silicon into mechanically flexible and transparent ones."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Nanotechweb

Tickle the keys on Cooler Master's new gaming board

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2014 - 11:02 AM |
Tagged: input, cooler master, NovaTouch TKL, gaming keyboard, topre

Cooler Master’s NovaTouch TKL using something called Hybrid Capacitive switches, which you can see illustrated below.  These Topre keys use electric capacitance changes to register a keystroke as opposed to the mechanical actuation on Cherry MX switches but retain a similar feeling thanks to the spring used to return the key to it's initial position as opposed to relying on the rubber dome.  TechGage compared this keyboard favourably to the Logitech G710+ with CHERRY MX brown switches which they had used previously, a lack of clicking noises and motion that felt better to them overall garnered this keyboard a recommendation.  However as the keyboard will be released at $200, you should probably try it yourself before investing in it.

cm_novatouch_tkl_topre_key.jpg

"Cooler Master’s no stranger to peripherals; when mechanical switches became the hottest thing overnight, it wasted no time getting into the lab to make sure it created products people yearned for. The company’s just-released NovaTouch TKL highlights that goal, with its “Hybrid Capacitive” switch – one that really, really surprised us."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Techgage

Android One sub-$100 Phones for Overseas Announced

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 17, 2014 - 02:03 PM |
Tagged: google, Android, android one

In much the same way as FirefoxOS is targeting foreign markets with low-cost phones, with the Intex Cloud Fx as the extreme example, Google is pushing for the overseas markets with Android One. Based on Android 4.4 and updated as new versions launch, for up to two years at least, the devices will not be old and outdated.

google-android-one-explode.jpg

In terms of hardware, the platform is said to feature front and rear cameras, a quad-core processor, a microSD card slot, and dual SIM slots. Google has several partners involved with the initiative: Acer, Airtel, Alcatel, ASUS, HTC, Intex, Karbonn, LAVA, Lenovo, MediaTek, Cromax, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Spice, and Xolo. Besides a baseline standard, and a bit of marketing, there does not seem to be much to the platform itself.

Of course, delivering a quality standard, at an affordable price, to places which normally cannot obtain smartphones at all is noteworthy.

Source: Google

Want Haswell-EP Xeons Without Expensive DDR4 Memory?

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Processors | September 20, 2014 - 03:51 PM |
Tagged: xeon, Haswell-EP, ddr4, ddr3, Intel

Well this is interesting and, while not new, is news to me.

ram.jpg

The upper-tier Haswell processors ushered DDR4 into the desktops for enthusiasts and servers, but DIMMs are quite expensive and incompatible with the DDR3 sticks that your organization might have been stocking up on. Despite the memory controller being placed on the processor, ASRock has a few motherboards which claim DDR3 support. ASRock, responding to Anandtech's inquiry, confirmed that this is not an error and Intel will launch three SKUs, one eight-core, one ten-core, and one twelve-core, with a DDR3-supporting memory controller.

The three models are:

  E5-2629 v3 E5-2649 v3 E5-2669 v3
Cores (Threads) 8 (16) 10 (20) 12 (24)
Clock Rate 2.4 GHz 2.3 GHz 2.3 Ghz
L3 Cache 20MB 25MB 30MB
TDP 85W 105W 120W

The processors, themselves, might not be cheap or easily attainable, though. There are rumors that Intel will require customers purchase at least a minimum amount. It might not be worth buying these processors unless you have a significant server farm (or similar situation).

Source: Anandtech
Manufacturer: Noctua

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

02-noctua_nh_d15_5.jpg

Courtesy of Noctua

Noctua is a well known player in the CPU cooling business with their focus on high quality solutions that don't kill your eardrums. The NH-D15 cooler is their current flagship product, building upon the design of their much loved NH-D14 cooler for an even higher performance product offering. The NH-D15 is composed of dual cooling towers, threaded through by six heat pipes. The heat pipes and copper base are all nickel-plated, giving the unit the signature Noctua look. We put the NH-D15 up against other high-performance solutions to best gage its cooling abilities. High performance comes at a cost with the NH-D15 being no exception at a $99.99 MSRP.

03-noctua_nh_d15_1.jpg

Courtesy of Noctua

04-noctua_nh_d15_3.jpg

Courtesy of Noctua

05-noctua_nh_d15_4.jpg

Courtesy of Noctua

The NH-D15 incorporates everything that Noctua has learned in designing its NH-D14 and U-series coolers, coming up with an extreme performance product that maintains almost universal motherboard compatibility. The cooler features twin 150mm wide cooling towers with airflow provided by dual NF-A15 150mm, 1500RPM fans. The heat transfers from the copper base plate to the aluminum radiator towers via six copper heat pipes. The copper base and heat pipes are all nickel-plated, providing scratch and corrosion resistance without affecting thermal transfer capabilities. To ensure optimal acoustics, the NH-A15 fans have rubber corner guards on all four corners to minimize fan vibration and vibration transfer to the radiator. The CPU base plate is seamless and polished to a mirror finish, ensuring an optimal mating surface.

Continue reading our review of the Noctua NH-D15 CPU air cooler!

Micron's M600 SSD, SLC in the front MLC in the back

Subject: Storage | September 18, 2014 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: micron, M600, SLC. MLC, DWA

Micron's M600 SSD has a new trick up its sleeve, called dynamic write acceleration which is somewhat similar to the HDDs with an NAND cache to accelerate the speed frequently accessed data can be read but with a brand new trick.  In this case SLC NAND acts as the cache for MLC NAND but it does so dynamically, the NAND can switch from SLC to MLC and back depending on the amount of usage.  There is a cost, the SLC storage capacity is 50% lower than MLC so the larger the cache the lower the total amount of storage is available.  As well the endurance rating is also higher than previous drives, not because of better NAND but because of new trim techniques being used.  This is not yet a retail product so The Tech Report does not have benchmarks but this goes to show you there are plenty more tricks we can teach SSDs.

drives.jpg

"Micron's new M600 SSD can flip its NAND cells between SLC and MLC modes on the fly, enabling a dynamic write cache that scales with the drive's unused capacity. We've outlined how this dynamic write acceleration is supposed to impact performance, power consumption, and endurance."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Can't wait for Homeworld? Ancient Space drops in a week!

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2014 - 11:29 AM |
Tagged: gaming, ancient space, space sim, rts

On September 23rd a new space strategy game by the name of Ancient Space will drop, giving those of us impatiently awaiting the Homeworld Remasters release something to tide us over.  One particularly interesting feature of the game is the voice acting which will include Ron Glass from Firefly, Dina Meyer from Starship Troopers and other series, Aaron Douglas from Battlestar Galactica and several other names immediately recognizable to Sci-Fi fans.  The trailer below shows off some of the gameplay which also looks to be as impressive as the cast.   Hopefully this will be as enjoyable for the story as it is for the gameplay.  You can follow the links from Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for more information.

The Fragging Frogs have been up to quite a bit lately, which you would have completely missed had you not the wisdom to have already joined the best gaming group on the web.  For those few who have yet to join up, once you've checked out the previous link there is a new thread to help introduce yourself and your collection of games to the group.  Try it, you just might like it!

"I feel like I’ve written about quite a few space RTSs in recent times, but none of them are releasing quite as soon or look quite as promising as Ancient Space. The latest trailer thankfully does more than show up Adam’s lack of sci-fi TV knowledge with its voice cast. It’s actual game footage, UI and all, and interspersed with comments from the developers about how the ship customisation and campaign systems will work."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming