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Gamescom 2016: Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord Video

Subject: General Tech | August 19, 2016 - 01:40 AM |
Tagged: mount & blade ii, taleworlds

Mount & Blade is a quite popular franchise in some circles. It is based around a fairly simple, but difficult to master combat system, which mixes melee, blocking, and ranged attacks. They are balanced by reload time (and sometimes accuracy) to make all methods viable. A 100 vs 100 battle, including cavalry and other special units, is quite unique. It is also a popular mod platform, although Warband's engine can be a little temperamental.

As such, there's quite a bit of interest for the upcoming Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord. The Siege game mode involves an attacking wave beating down a fortress, trying to open as many attack paths as possible, and eventually overrunning the defenders. The above video is from the defending perspective. It seems like it, mechanically, changed significantly from Warband, particularly the Napoleonic Wars DLC that I'm used to. In that mod, attackers spawn infinitely until a time limit is reached. This version apparently focuses on single-life AI armies, which Warband had as Commander Battles.

Hmm. Still no release date, though.

Samsung and SK Hynix Discuss The Future of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) At Hot Chips 28

Subject: Memory | August 25, 2016 - 02:39 AM |
Tagged: TSV, SK Hynix, Samsung, hot chips, hbm3, hbm

Samsung and SK Hynix were in attendance at the Hot Chips Symposium in Cupertino, California to (among other things) talk about the future of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM). In fact, the companies are working on two new HBM products: HBM3 and an as-yet-unbranded "low cost HBM." HBM3 will replace HBM2 at the high end and is aimed at the HPC and "prosumer" markets while the low cost HBM technology lowers the barrier to entry and is intended to be used in mainstream consumer products.

As currently planned, HBM3 (Samsung refers to its implementation as Extreme HBM) features double the density per layer and at least double the bandwidth of the current HBM2 (which so far is only used in NVIDIA's planned Tesla P100). Specifically, the new memory technology offers up 16Gb (~2GB) per layer and as many as eight (or more) layers can be stacked together using TSVs into a single chip. So far we have seen GPUs use four HBM chips on a single package, and if that holds true with HBM3 and interposer size limits, we may well see future graphics cards with 64GB of memory! Considering the HBM2-based Tesla will have 16 and AMD's HBM-based Fury X cards had 4GB, HBM3 is a sizable jump!

Capacity is not the only benefit though. HBM3 doubles the bandwidth versus HBM2 with 512GB/s (or more) of peak bandwidth per stack! In the theoretical example of a graphics card with 64GB of HBM3 (four stacks), that would be in the range of 2 TB/s of theoretical maximum peak bandwidth! Real world may be less, but still that is many terabytes per second of bandwidth which is exciting because it opens a lot of possibilities for gaming especially as developers push graphics further towards photo realism and resolutions keep increasing. HBM3 should be plenty for awhile as far as keeping the GPU fed with data on the consumer and gaming side of things though I'm sure the HPC market will still crave more bandwidth.

Samsung further claims that HBM3 will operate at similar (~500MHz) clocks to HBM2, but will use "much less" core voltage (HBM2 is 1.2V).

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Stacked HBM memory on an interposer surrounding a processor. Upcoming HBM technologies will allow memory stacks with double the number of layers.

HBM3 is perhaps the most interesting technologically; however, the "low cost HBM" is exciting in that it will enable HBM to be used in the systems and graphics cards most people purchase. There were less details available on this new lower cost variant, but Samsung did share a few specifics. The low cost HBM will offer up to 200GB/s per stack of peak bandwidth while being much cheaper to produce than current HBM2. In order to reduce the cost of production, their is no buffer die or ECC support and the number of Through Silicon Vias (TSV) connections have been reduced. In order to compensate for the lower number of TSVs, the pin speed has been increased to 3Gbps (versus 2Gbps on HBM2). Interestingly, Samsung would like for low cost HBM to support traditional silicon as well as potentially cheaper organic interposers. According to NVIDIA, TSV formation is the most expensive part of interposer fabrication, so making reductions there (and somewhat making up for it in increased per-connection speeds) makes sense when it comes to a cost-conscious product. It is unclear whether organic interposers will win out here, but it is nice to seem them get a mention and is an alternative worth looking into.

Both high bandwidth and low latency memory technologies are still years away and the designs are subject to change, but so far they are both plans are looking rather promising. I am intrigued by the possibilities and hope to see new products take advantage of the increased performance (and in the latter case lower cost). On the graphics front, HBM3 is way too far out to see a Vega release, but it may come just in time for AMD to incorporate it into its high end Navi GPUs, and by 2020 the battle between GDDR and HBM in the mainstream should be heating up.

What are your thoughts on the proposed HBM technologies?

Source: Ars Technica

ASUS tossed everything they could find onto the Rampage V Extreme 10

Subject: Motherboards | August 25, 2016 - 02:39 PM |
Tagged: ROG, rampage v edition 10, asus

Remember in the 90's when all the cool people had lights glowing from underneath their cars?  Now your motherboard can do the same thing, but with extra colour choices and even different effects!  Leaving the RGB disease alone for now, the features on the motherboard are impressive, dual USB 3.1 Type-C ports, support for both M.2 and the Dublin version of storage, PCIe lane switches and even a mulligan button to let you retry a failed POST before having to reset your overclocking settings.  The SupremeFX Hi-Fi audio codec on the board supports proper headphone thanks to the fan controller-like expansion which requires a 6 pin PCI-Express power connector to run; it even comes with coasters. 

That is more than enough about the features, to see how well it performs you can pop by [H]ard|OCP.

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"ASUS celebrates the 10th anniversary of its Republic of Gamers brand in style with the new Rampage V Extreme 10! To properly commemorate its decade of innovation, this motherboard needs to be nothing short of the best motherboard ASUS has ever built and a worthy successor to the Rampage name. "

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Honey I shrunk the PSU, 700W of SFX-L sized power from Silverstone

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 24, 2016 - 06:43 PM |
Tagged: SX700-LPT, small form factor, SFX, 80 Plus Platinum, modular psu

Do you recall the new long playing version of the SFX PSU form factor; specifically Lee's review of the SilverStone SFX-L 700W PSU?  Perhaps you have forgotten about the new form factor of PSU that offers similar cooling to a full ATX PSU but takes up a lot less room.  Not to fret, [H]ard|OCP is here to remind you with a fresh review of the PSU.  Their tests revealed the same strengths as Lee's, perhaps not outstanding but certainly a very good choice for a PSU.   They did dock more points for the lack of an included adapter for ATX mounting, they are available but it does seem worth mentioning SilverStone's oversight.

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"SilverStone has a new take on small form factor power supplies it is calling "SFX-L." This new form factor extends the standard SFX size by 30mm allowing SilverStone to install a quieter 120mm fan than the usual higher speed and noisier 80mm and 92mm fans. How does all this work out?"

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Podcast #414 - AMD Zen Architecture Details, Lightning Headphones, AMD GPU Market Share and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2016 - 10:51 AM |
Tagged: Zen, video, seasonic, Polaris, podcast, Omen, nvidia, market share, Lightning, hp, gtx 1060 3gb, gpu, brix, Audeze, asus, architecture, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #414 - 08/25/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the newly released architecture details of AMD Zen, Audeze headphones, AMD market share gains 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!

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

Program length: 1:37:15
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  4. Closing/outro

Creatively testing GPUs with Google's Tilt Brush

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 23, 2016 - 01:43 PM |
Tagged: amd, nvidia, Tilt Brush, VR

[H]ard|OCP continues their foray into testing VR applications, this time moving away from games to try out the rather impressive Tilt Brush VR drawing application from Google.  If you have yet to see this software in action it is rather incredible, although you do still require an artist's talent and practical skills to create true 3D masterpieces. 

Artisic merit may not be [H]'s strong suite but testing how well a GPU can power VR applications certainly lies within their bailiwick.  Once again they tested five NVIDIA GPUs and a pair of AMD's for dropped frames and reprojection caused by a drop in FPS.

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"We are changing gears a bit with our VR Performance coverage and looking at an application that is not as GPU-intensive as those we have looked at in the recent past. Google's Tilt Brush is a virtual reality application that makes use of the HTC Vive head mounted display and its motion controllers to allow you to paint in 3D space."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Lian Li Releases 550W and 750W SFX-L Power Supplies

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 19, 2016 - 04:15 PM |
Tagged: Lian Li, SFX, SFX-L, power supply, PSU, small form-factor, 550W, 750w, PE-550, PE-750

Announced back in April, Lian Li has now released a pair of SFX-L power supplies for small form-factor systems with the PE-550 and PE-750. The pair offer fully-modular designs with flat, ribbon-style cables, and carry 80 Plus Gold and Platinum certifications.

pe750.jpg

The PE-750 power supply

"The PE-550 is 80Plus Gold-rated for a maximum 89.5% efficiency; the PE-750 is 80Plus Platinum-rated for a maximum 92% efficiency. Both use a near-silent 120mm smart fan and minimize noise by operating fanlessly when output power is below 30%. Both PSUs use a single 12V rail design for the best possible stability under heavy system load, matched with myriad protection features to ensure reliable operation."

pe550.jpg

The PE-550 power supply

For more information and full specs, the product page for the 550W PE-550 is here, and the 750W PE-750 page is here. The PE-550 and PE-750 retail for $115 and $169 respectively, and both are available now.

Source: Lian Li

Qualcomm and OSIsoft Announce Snapdragon-Powered Smart Ballpark

Subject: General Tech | August 24, 2016 - 04:15 PM |
Tagged: utilities, SoC, snapdragon, Smart Ballpark, San Diego, qualcomm, Padres, OSIsoft, iot, industrial, baseball

Ever wonder how efficiently a major venue operates when it's only full of fans on game days? It turns out they don't operate all that efficiently, and the overhead is very expensive. This is where Qualcomm and OSIsoft step in, collaborating on a new “Smart Ballpark” project for San Diego's Petco Park.

Ballpark_1.jpg

“The San Diego Padres are utilizing edge intelligence gateways, powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, to collect data from critical infrastructure systems and stream it in real-time to OSIsoft’s PI System in order to monitor utilities, improve operating efficiencies and drive sustainability across the team’s entire Petco Park ballpark.”

With usage monitoring for utilities (electrical and gas energy, potable and non-potable water) the Padres - San Diego’s Major League Baseball team that calls Petco Park home - see the potential to save more than 25% in the next five years.

“The edge intelligence gateways, using Snapdragon processors, connect to sensors and legacy systems throughout the ballpark using a broad range of communication methods, including wired and wireless technologies, analog and digital inputs and multiple communication protocols. These edge intelligence gateways acquire, store and stream data in real-time to the OSIsoft PI System which then presents the data to the Padres’ facilities managers using OSIsoft’s Visualization Suite and analytics, providing the operations team with deep situational awareness of everything happening in the venue.”

Diagram_Updated (002).png

This is a mammoth implementation of IoT (Internet of Things), with OSIsoft’s PI system a major player on the industrial side. Qualcomm naturally needs no introduction, as the smartphone SoC maker found in so many devices across virtually all brands. Qualcomm has also worked on improving mobile data performance in large venues such as ballparks, with products like the X16 modem (expected in products starting in the second half of 2016) offering improved connections via carrier and link aggregation, and use of unlicensed spectrum.

Full press release after the break:

Source: Qualcomm

Mozilla Publishes WebVR 1.0 to Nightly Releases

Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2016 - 05:36 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, webvr, Oculus

Earlier this month, the W3C published an Editor's Draft for WebVR 1.0. The specification has not yet been ratified, but the proposal is backed by engineers from Mozilla and Google. It enables the use of VR headsets in the web browser, including all the security required, such as isolating input to a single tab (in case you need to input a password while the HMD is on your face).

Mozilla_Firefox_logo_2013.png

Firefox Nightly, as of August 16th, now supports the draft 1.0 specification.

The browser currently supports Oculus CV1 and DK2 on Windows. It does not work with DK1, although Oculus provided backers of that KickStarter with a CV1 anyway, and it does not (yet) support the HTC Vive. It also only deals with the headset itself, not any motion controllers. I guess, if your application requires this functionality, you will need to keep working on native applications for a little while longer.

Source: Mozilla

Faster WiFi is great but ... MegaMIMO 2.0; really?

Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2016 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: MegaMIMO 2.0, wireless router, wifi, mu-mimo

Multi-In Multi-Out routers are a wonderful thing, not only are the routers far more tentacular than before, the technology also make our unwired lives better as Sebastian explained.  The only thing that could make it better is a bandwidth boost, which is what these researchers at MIT have been working on.  In an experiment involving laptop bearing Roombas they showed a increase of 330% in transfer speeds thanks to synchronized phases allowing multiple signals to be sent on the same frequency.  Pop on over to Slashdot to learn more about their research.

mu_mimo_slide.jpg

"Scientists at MIT claim to have created a new wireless technology that can triple Wi-Fi data speeds while also doubling the range of the signal. Dubbed MegaMIMO 2.0, the system will shortly enter commercialization and could ease the strain on our increasingly crowded wireless networks."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

Intel Revises All SSD Product Lines - 3D NAND Everywhere!

Subject: Storage | August 25, 2016 - 06:26 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Pro 6000p, Intel, imft, E 6000p, E 5420s, DC S3520, DC P3520, 600p, 3d nand

Intel announced the production of 3D NAND a little over a year ago, and we've now seen production ramp up to the point where they are infusing it into nearly every nook and cranny of their SSD product lines.

ssd-3d-nand-composite-form-factor-16x9.png.rendition.intel_.web_.720.405.png

The most relevant part for our readers will be a long overdue M.2 2280 SSD. These will kick off with the 600p:

ch-1.jpg

An overseas forum member over at chiphell got their hands on a 600p and ran some quick tests. From their photo (above), we can confirm the controller is not from Intel, but rather from Silicon Motion. The NAND is naturally from Intel, as is likely their controller firmware implementation, as these parts go through the same lengthy validation process as their other products.

Intel is going for the budget consumer play here. The flash will be running in TLC mode, likely with an SLC cache. Specs are respectable - 1.8GB/s reads, 560MB/s writes, random read 155k, random write 128k (4KB QD=32). By respectable specs I mean in light of the pricing:

600p-6000p pricing.png

Wow! These prices are ranging from $0.55/GB at 128GB all the way down to $0.35/GB for the 1TB part.

You might have noticed the Pro 6000p in that list. Those are nearly identical to the 600p save some additional firmware / software tweaks to support IT infrastructure remote secure erase.

Intel also refreshed their DataCenter (DC) lineup. The SSD DC S3520 (SATA) and P3520 (PCIe/NVMe) were also introduced as a refresh, also using Intel's 3D NAND. We published our exclusive review of the Intel SSD DC P3520 earlier today, so check there for full details on that enterprise front. Before we move on, a brief moment of silence for the P3320 - soft-launched in April, but discontinued before it shipped. We hardly knew ye.

Lastly, Intel introduced a few additional products meant for the embedded / IoT sector. The SSD E 6000p is an M.2 PCIe part similar to the first pair of products mentioned in this article, while the SSD E 5420s comes in 2.5" and M.2 SATA flavors. The differentiator on these 'E' parts is enhanced AES 256 crypto.

Most of these products will be available 'next week', but the 600p 360GB (to be added) and 1TB capacities will ship in Q4.

Abbreviated press blast appears after the break.

Source: Intel