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Reading material to go along with the GTX 960 live stream

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 22, 2015 - 01:44 PM |
Tagged: video, nvidia, msi gaming 2g, maxwell, gtx 960, GM206, geforce

Did Ryan somehow miss a benchmark that is important to you?  Perhaps [H]ard|OCP's coverage of the MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 2G will capture that certain something.  MSI runs their 960 at a base of 1216MHz with the boost clock hitting 1279MHz, slightly slower than the ASUS STRIX at 1291 MHz and 1317 MHz.  At the time this was posted the cards were available on Amazon for $210, that is obviously going to change so keep an eye out.  As [H] states in their conclusions, it is a good value but not the great value which the GTX 970 offered at release, check out their full review here or one of the many down below.

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"NVIDIA is today launching a GPU aimed at the "sweet spot" of the video card market. With an unexpectedly low MSRP, we find out if the new GeForce GTX 960 has what it takes to compete with the competition. The MSI GTX 960 GAMING reviewed here today is a retail card you will be able to purchase. No reference card in this review."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Now that is small form factor, a PC in a mouse

Subject: General Tech | January 22, 2015 - 12:42 PM |
Tagged: DIY, mod, mouse-box

Inside the red and black striped body of this mouse is a quad-core ARM Cortex processor of unknown pedigree running at 1.4GHz and 128GB of flash storage; no information on how much RAM might be available.  It has inbuilt WiFi, a pair of USB 3.0 ports and a single micro-HDMI port for output and it will charge wirelessly when placed on a pad via Qi or a similar solution.  As well the regular mouse input the Mouse-Box will also have an accelerometer and gyroscope, perhaps a revival of the 3D interface mice which appeared and quickly disappeared a few years back.  Check out the video at The Register to see the team's pitch and a way to get in contact with them.

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"The specs aren't going to excite gamers, but Polish developer Przemysław Strzelczyk and his team have built a decent working computer into a Mouse."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Podcast #333 - ASUS Rampage V Extreme, Samsung T1 Portable SSD, Windows 10 and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 22, 2015 - 11:39 AM |
Tagged: podcast, video, asus, Rampage V Extreme, Samsung, T1, 850 EVO, ECS, liva x, amazon echo, amd, carrizo, windows 10, raptr

PC Perspective Podcast #333 - 01/22/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the ASUS Rampage V Extreme, Samsung T1 Portable SSD, Windows 10 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

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

A new GPU, a familiar problem

Editor's Note: Don't forget to join us today for a live streaming event featuring Ryan Shrout and NVIDIA's Tom Petersen to discuss the new GeForce GTX 960. It will be live at 1pm ET / 10am PT and will include ten (10!) GTX 960 prizes for participants! You can find it all at http://www.pcper.com/live

There are no secrets anymore. Calling today's release of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 a surprise would be like calling another Avenger's movie unexpected. If you didn't just assume it was coming chances are the dozens of leaks of slides and performance would get your attention. So here it is, today's the day, NVIDIA finally upgrades the mainstream segment that was being fed by the GTX 760 for more than a year and half. But does the brand new GTX 960 based on Maxwell move the needle?

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But as you'll soon see, the GeForce GTX 960 is a bit of an odd duck in terms of new GPU releases. As we have seen several times in the last year or two with a stagnant process technology landscape, the new cards aren't going be wildly better performing than the current cards from either NVIDIA for AMD. In fact, there are some interesting comparisons to make that may surprise fans of both parties.

The good news is that Maxwell and the GM206 GPU will price out starting at $199 including overclocked models at that level. But to understand what makes it different than the GM204 part we first need to dive a bit into the GM206 GPU and how it matches up with NVIDIA's "small" GPU strategy of the past few years.

The GM206 GPU - Generational Complexity

First and foremost, the GTX 960 is based on the exact same Maxwell architecture as the GTX 970 and GTX 980. The power efficiency, the improved memory bus compression and new features all make their way into the smaller version of Maxwell selling for $199 as of today. If you missed the discussion on those new features including MFAA, Dynamic Super Resolution, VXGI you should read that page of our original GTX 980 and GTX 970 story from last September for a bit of context; these are important aspects of Maxwell and the new GM206.

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NVIDIA's GM206 is essentially half of the full GM204 GPU that you find on the GTX 980. That includes 1024 CUDA cores, 64 texture units and 32 ROPs for processing, a 128-bit memory bus and 2GB of graphics memory. This results in half of the memory bandwidth at 112 GB/s and half of the peak compute capability at 2.30 TFLOPS.

Continue reading our review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 2GB Graphics Card!!

Manufacturer: Microsoft

Introducing Windows 10 (Again)

I did not exactly make too many unsafe predictions, but let's recap the Windows 10 Consumer announcement anyway. The briefing was a bit on the slow side, at least if you are used to E3 keynotes, but it contained a fair amount of useful information. Some of the things discussed are future-oriented, but some will arrive soon. So let's get right into it.

Price and Upgrade Options

Microsoft has not announced an official price for Windows 10, if the intent is to install it on a new PC. If you are attempting to upgrade a machine that currently runs Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, then that will be a free upgrade if done within the first year. Windows Phone 8.1 users are also eligible for a no-cost upgrade to Windows 10 if done in the first year.

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Quote Terry Myerson of Microsoft, “Once a device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will be keeping it current for the supported lifetime of the device.” This is not elaborated on, but it seems like a weird statement given what we have traditionally expected from Windows. One possible explanation is that Microsoft intends for Windows to be a subscription service going forward, which would be the most obvious extension of “Windows as a Service”. On the other hand, they could be going for the per-device revenue option with Bing, Windows Store, and other initiatives being long tail. If so, I am a bit confused about what constitutes a new device for systems that are regularly upgraded, like what our readers are typically interested in. All of that will eventually be made clear, but not yet.

A New Build for Windows 10

Late in the keynote, Microsoft announced the availability of new preview builds for Windows 10. This time, users of Windows Phone 8.1 will also be able to see the work in progress. PC “Insiders” will get access to their build “in the next week” and phones will get access “in Feburary”. Ars Technica seems to believe that this is scheduled for Sunday, February 1st, which is a really weird time to release a build but their source might be right.

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We don't know exactly what will be in it, though. In my predictions, I guessed that a DirectX 12 SDK might be available (or at least some demos) in the next build. That has not been mentioned, which probably would have been if it were true. I expect the next possibility (if we're not surprised in the next one-to-ten days when the build drops) is Game Developers Conference (GDC 2015), which starts on March 2nd.

The New Web Browser: Project Spartan

My guess was that Spartan would be based on DirectX 12. Joe Belfiore said that it is using a new, standards-compliant rendering engine and basically nothing more. The event focused on specific features. The first is note taking, which basically turns the web browser into a telestrator that can also accept keyboard comment blocks. The second is a reading mode that alters content into a Microsoft Word-like column. The third is “reading lists”, which is basically a “read it later” feature that does offline caching. The fourth is Adobe PDF support, which works with the other features of Spartan such as note taking and reading lists.

Which Transitions Into Cortana

The fifth feature of Spartan is Cortana integration, which will provide auto-suggestions based on the information that the assistant software has. The example they provided was auto-suggesting the website for his wife's flight. Surprisingly, when you attempt to control a Spartan, Cortana does not say “There's two of us in here now, remember?” You know, in an attempt to let you know she's service that's integrated into the browser.

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Otherwise, it's an interesting demo. I might even end up using it when it comes out, but these sorts of things do not really interest me too much. We have been at the point where, for my usage, the operating system is really not in the way anymore. It feels like there is very little friction between me and getting what I want done, done. Of course, people felt that way about rotary phones until touch-tone came out, and I keep an open mind to better methods. It's just hard to get me excited about voice-activated digital assistants.

Gaming Features

As I stated before, DirectX 12 was mentioned but a release date was not confirmed. What they did mention was a bit of relative performance. DirectX 12 supposedly uses about half of the power consumption of DirectX 11, which is particularly great for mobile applications. It can also handle scenes with many more objects. A FutureMark demo was displayed, with the DirectX 11 version alongside a DirectX 12 version. The models seem fairly simple, but the DirectX 12 version appears to running at over 100 FPS when the DirectX 11 version outright fails.

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Other gaming features were mentioned. First, Windows 10 will allow shadow recording the last 30 seconds of footage from any game. You might think that NVIDIA would be upset about that, and they might be, but that is significantly less time than ShadowPlay or other recording methods. Second, Xbox One will be able to stream gameplay to any PC in your house. I expect this is the opposite direction than what people hope for, rather wishing for high-quality PC footage to be easily streamed to TVs with a simple interface. It will probably serve a purpose for some use case, though.

In Summary

Well that was a pretty long event, clocking in at almost two-and-a-half hours. The end had a surprise announcement of an augmented reality (not virtual reality) headset, called the “HoloLens”, which is developed by the Kinect team. I am deliberately not elaborating on it because I was not at the event and I have not tried it. I will say that the most interesting part about it, for me, is the Skype integration, because that probably hints at Microsoft's intentions with the product.

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For the rest of us, it touched on a number of interesting features but, like the Enterprise event, did not really dive in. It would have been nice to get some technical details about DirectX 12, but that obviously does not cater to the intended audience. Unless an upcoming build soft-launches a DirectX 12 preview (or Spartan) so that we can do our own discovery, we will probably need to wait until GDC and/or BUILD to find out more.

Until then, you could watch the on-demand version at Microsoft's website.

Battlefleet Gothic could be a real thing very soon!

Subject: General Tech | January 21, 2015 - 04:47 PM |
Tagged: gaming, warhammer 40k, exterminatus, battlefleet gothic

That's right, Eldar and their tissue paper clad ships will be going up against the city sized ships of the Imperium, Abaddon the Despoiler's Black Legion and even the cobbled together Orc vessels which have grown large enough to deserve the name Battlekrooser.  The single player and possibly the two player co-op missions will be Imperium only while multiplayer will allow you to choose to control filthy Xenos fleets.  In both cases the ships and crew will accumulate experience and upgrade skills or weaponry but only if they survive battle and do not get executed for not following orders.  Exterminatus will be present in the game as well as boarding parties, with the latter being restricted to scuttling ships.  The game will be based on it's tabletop forefather but will not be enslaved to it, map movement is expected to be turn based but the battles will be in real time, at a pace which matches the ponderous size of these ships.  Check out the excitement at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.

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"The news that an adaptation of Games Workshop’s Battlefleet Gothic was in development made for happy reading last week but solid facts were thin on the ground. We knew that the game would be real-time rather than turn-based, which was cause for concern in some quarters, and that four factions would be available."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Chromecast meets Linux

Subject: General Tech | January 21, 2015 - 02:01 PM |
Tagged: linux, chromecast, DIY, stream

Linux.com has put together a quick tutorial on how to stream content to Chromecast from a machine running Linux, giving you an incredibly inexpensive and effective way to stream your own capture media.  With the use of a Samba group in openSUSE you can send data to the Chromecast dongle attached to your TV, something that was not initially possible with Chromecast.  The author took this a step further, showing you how to set up your Android devices to stream to Chromecast as well.  Learn how to here.

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"Chromecast is one of the most used devices in my household. After using it for over a year now, I believe there is no longer a market for the so-called 'smart TV'. Inexpensive devices like Chromecast can turn any HDMI-enabled TV into a smart TV with immense possibilities to expand its features."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Linux.com

Windows 10 Consumer Briefing Predictions

Subject: General Tech | January 20, 2015 - 09:45 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, windows, spartan, microsoft, dx12, DirectX 12, DirectX, cortana

Microsoft will hold a briefing tomorrow (Wednesday, January 21st at 12pm EST/5pm UTC) about “The Next Chapter” of Windows 10. This has been described as the Consumer keynote, mirroring the original one that was supposedly intended for the enterprise. Otherwise, there are few official comments regarding the event, but there are also things that we can speculate on.

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Here is what I expect to see:

A New Build for Windows 10

Maybe it will not be released on the same day as the speech, but it cannot really be too far behind. We are about two-thirds through January and December was skipped, so it must be happening soon. When 9879 was released, Microsoft said that it would be the last build of 2014 and that “We'll have something new to share with you early in 2015”. Whatever that is (or those things are) will probably be discussed at the event, which means that the build is probably not too far behind it.

DirectX 12

When the graphics API was announced, they specifically said the following (see our recap for the second slide that was posted at 10:48am PST):

  • Targeting Holiday 2015 games
  • Preview release coming later this year
  • Don't want to wait that long? Early access!

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The preview release later in 2014 did not happen, but the early access did. As such, I am guessing that the date slipped to either the next Windows 10 build, or maybe a build or two after. Whenever it happens specifically, I am guessing that it will be mentioned at this event and available for developers soon (and not just a hand-picked group of Early Access members). Sure, it could wait until Build 2015 in April, but the original slide sounds like they were targeting the end of 2014.

Also, the DirectX 12 Twitter Account just retweeted the live stream and Phil Spencer will be there.

'Spartan' Browser (Maybe with DirectX 12 Support?)

Speaking of DirectX 12, its goal is to utilize GPU shader cores as efficiently as possible, reducing the time it holds up the CPU and balancing its load across multiple cores. This leads to power efficiency and the ability to load many more tasks on the GPU.

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Image Credit: cnBeta.com via TheVerge

These are all things that a web browser vendor would love! Web standards are inherently difficult to multi-thread, because they are designed as sets of stages which build upon other stages. DirectX 12 could probably help immensely, at least with the drawing stage. Web content tends to be fairly simple, but there can be a lot of it, especially for complex Canvas animations (and especially for mobile devices).

It was also recently rumored that Trident, the rendering engine behind Internet Explorer and the not-quite-confirmed Spartan browser, was forked into two maintained versions. The expectation is that this was for compatibility reasons, where the new version can be developed to W3C (and other) standards without worrying about legacy, Internet Explorer-based compatibility cruft. If porting a DirectX 11 applications to DirectX 12 will be annoying, I can see why Microsoft chose to draw the compatibility line just behind that initiative. And honestly, how many people care about rendering, power, and multi-core performance increases for IE8-designed, and therefore desktop-based, web applications?

Continuum, Cortana, and Other Changes

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Again, this is what Microsoft considers a Consumer event. As such, it would make sense for them to describe an ideal consumer device, which probably includes two-in-ones. Cortana should also be discussed as well, which is intended to bring value to the users and probably lead them to Bing services. Leaks have also suggested that they are preparing a dark theme.

Am I right? We'll see tomorrow.

Source: Microsoft

A happy medium between noise and cooling, Cooler Master's Hyper D92

Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 20, 2015 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: Hyper D92, cooler master

The Cooler Master Hyper D92 does count as compact with dimensions of 5.7 x 3.3 x 4.9", at 448g it is lighter than many coolers on the market and with 53.4mm of clearance over your DIMM slots it should not interfere with most RAM.  The reduction in size does have an effect on the heatsinks ability to disperse heat but The Tech Report's testing shows better performance than the stock Intel heatsink when cooling an i5-4690K and at a lower noise level.  The performance is not up to snuff for overclockers nor are the stock fans quiet enough at full speed for those wanting a near silent build but for those looking for a good compromise between those two scenarios at a decent price it is well worth considering the Hyper D92

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"The Hyper D92 is a compact tower-style cooler with dual 92-mm fans. We tested its performance on stock-clocked and overclocked CPUs to see how it stacks up."

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

CASES & COOLING

Need a consulting gig and know AD and Exchange?

Subject: General Tech | January 20, 2015 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: server 2003, microsoft, EoL, migration

There are over eight million active servers running Server 2003 according to the stats The Register has seen and who knows how many Server 2000 installs still kicking around but as of the 14th of July extended support for Server 2003 ends and no longer will security patches or support be available.  The difficulty of prying WinXP out of users hands will be nothing compared to convincing stakeholders to part with money to upgrade to a new version of Server, be it hosted onsite or via Azure and O365.  There will be some companies wise enough to find leverage to start the migration soon but there will also be many who will not see the cost benefit until their system fails or even worse, a breach occurs.  If you have any knowledge of newer versions of ActiveDirectory, Exchange or Azure and O365 you should update your resume as there will be people looking for help migrating in the near future.

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"A channel-wide migration skills shortage is a real danger this summer as stragglers strain available resources by making an eleventh hour dash to flee Windows Server 2003, distributor veterans are warning."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Today Samsung has lifted the review embargo on their new Portable SSD T1. This represents Samsung's first portable SSD, and aims to serve as another way to make their super speedy VNAND available. We first saw the Samsung T1 at CES, and I've been evaluating the performance if this little drive for the past week:

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We'll dive more into the details as this review progresses.

Specifications:

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Packaging:

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The T1 comes well packaged, with a small instruction manual and a flat style short USB 3.0 cable. The drive itself is very light - ours weighed in right at 1 ounce.

Continue reading our review of the Samsung Portable SSD T1 500GB unit!

Upgrade your car with an SSD?

Subject: Storage | January 19, 2015 - 05:05 PM |
Tagged: super talent, DuraDrive AT7, ssd, SM2246EN

If you have an entertainment system in your car, why not go whole hog and upgrade it with a specially designed Super Talent DuraDrive AT7 SSD.  Unfortunately you will be hard pressed to find one as they will generally be sold directly to the auto manufacturers but The SSD Review's look at it is interesting because it is the first look at Silicon Motion's new SM2246EN 6Gbps 4 channel controller.  The ATTO results when connected to an X99 motherboard were impressive, peaking at 554MB/s read and 446MB/s write.  It will be interesting to see which manufacturers install this in their vehicles and what usage scenarios would require this kind of throughput.

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"Every now and then, we are fortunate to have SSDs reach our bench that one might not normally find within every day PC systems or servers. Our review today of the Super Talent DuraDrive AT7 SSD is just that; a SSD fully intended for the automobile industry, and more specifically In-vehicle Infotainment Systems."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Waiting for Windows Wednesday

Subject: General Tech | January 19, 2015 - 12:57 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, release

We should be finally hearing the pricetag which will be associated with Windows 10 this Wednesday as Microsoft has been sending out invites for an unveiling this week.  Many have already tried the unfinished version via the Windows Insider Programme and it has received a much warmer welcome that the previous version.  The Inquirer posits this could be in part because of a realization that consumers now have a choice in operating systems and are now far less likely to feel that they have to go with Microsoft or Apple.  From Chromebooks to flavours of Linux wrapped in a GUI and installer that Windows users feel comfortable with there is a change in the market and the biggest competitor to a new Windows is not necessarily an older version of the OS.  This has driven Microsoft to listen to customer feedback and not hand out changes to the OS that they feel customers should want but instead bring back familiar features which were removed and perhaps completely rethink their pricing.  You can check out The Inquirer's musical take on what to expect right here.

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"WEDNESDAY is arguably the most important day in Microsoft's recent history. We're primed and ready for what is expected to be the consumer launch of Windows 10, easily the most pivotal release in its 30 years as the world's predominant operating system."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Rampage V Extreme is ASUS' premier product for their ROG (Republic of Gamers) line of Intel X99-based motherboards. The board offers support for all Intel LGA2011-3 based processors paired with DDR4 memory operating in up to a quad channel configuration. Given the feature-packed nature and premium ROG board-branding, the board's $499.99 MSRP does not come at that much of a surprise.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS designed the Rampage V Extreme to handle anything an enthusiast could throw its way, integrating an 8-phase digital power system into is Extreme Engine Digi+ IV to power the board. Extreme Engine Digi+ IV combines ASUS' custom designed Digi+ EPU chipset, IR (International Rectifier) PowIRStage MOSFETs, MicroFine Alloy chokes, and 10k Black Metallic capacitors for unrivaled power delivery capabilities. ASUS also bundles their OC Panel device for on-the-fly overclocking and board monitoring, as well as SupremeFX 2014 audio solution for flawless audio.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Rampage V Extreme motherboard!

Report: AMD Carrizo APU Benchmarks Show 2x the Performance of Kaveri, 3x Intel Iris Pro

Subject: Processors | January 18, 2015 - 05:16 PM |
Tagged: SoC, rumor, processor, leak, iris pro, Intel, graphics, cpu, carrizo, APU, amd

A new report of leaked benchmarks paints a very interesting picture of the upcoming AMD Carrizo mobile APU.

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Image credit: SiSoftware

Announced as strictly mobile parts, Carrizo is based on the next generation Excavator core and features what AMD is calling one of their biggest ever jumps in efficiency. Now alleged leaked benchmarks are showing significant performance gains as well, with numbers that should elevate the IGP dominance of AMD's APUs.

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Image credit: WCCFtech

WCCFtech explains the performance shown in this SiSoft Sandra leak in their post:

"The A10 7850K scores around 270 Mpix/s while Intel’s HD5200 Iris Pro scores a more modest 200 Mpix/s. Carriso scores here over 600 Mpix/s which suggests that Carrizo is more than twice as fast as Kaveri and three times faster than Iris Pro. To put this into perspective this is what an R7 265 graphics card scores, a card that offers the same graphics performance inside the Playstation 4."

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While the idea of desktop APUs with greatly improved graphics and higher efficency is tantalizing, AMD has made it clear that these will be mobile-only parts at launch. When asked by Anandtech, AMD had this to say about the possibility of a desktop variant:

“With regards to your specific question, we expect Carrizo will be seen in BGA form factor desktops designs from our OEM partners. The Carrizo project was focused on thermally constrained form factors, which is where you'll see the big differences in performance and other experiences that consumers value.”

The new mobile APU will be manufactured with the same 28nm process as Kaveri, with power consumption up to 35W for the Carrizo down to a maximum of 15W for the ultra-mobile Carrizo-L parts.

Source: WCCFtech

Intel's 5.5-inch Socketed Motherboard is 28% Smaller than Mini-ITX

Subject: Motherboards | January 17, 2015 - 05:22 PM |
Tagged: SFF, nuc, motherboard, mini-itx, Intel

Bay Trail-M has been at the heart of several interesting micro-PC products in the past few months, but the limitations of the SoC have thus far kept these ultra-low power devices from becoming serious PC contenders. New products with AMD APUs look promising, and we will see how they perform once they become available. Meanwhile, Intel might be changing the mini-PC landcape soon with a new motherboard form-factor.

 

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Intel's 5.5" motherboard (Image credit: SemiAccurate)

It doesn't have a name but the 5.5" square board looks like a smaller version of a thin mini-ITX design, with flush mounted DIMM slots and support for M.2 SSD storage. SemiAccurate is reporting that "it will support up to 16GB of DDR3L, an M.2 SSD and 2.5″ HD, 4x USB 3.0, 2x HDMI, GbE, audio, and Wi-Fi". A mini-ITX board on the other hand, though slightly larger at 6.7" x 6.7", has the advantage of supporting full-size GPUs (except the thin-mini variant). But when size and power consumption are the primary concern the lack of PCIe expansion is less important, and this sub-ITX board offers socketed CPU support rather than a soldered BGA solution, permitting customization and potentially offering a more desktop-like upgrade path.

No word on availability of the prototype board from Intel, which the report said was seen at this year's CES. It would make sense that Intel has learned from their experience with the NUC and created a smaller form-factor, but it remains to be seen whether such a product will enter the retail channel or become an OEM part.

Source: SemiAccurate

CompuLab Fitlet PC Lineup Is Small and Fanless

Subject: General Tech, Systems | January 16, 2015 - 11:21 PM |
Tagged: nuc, fitlet-x, fitlet-i, fitlet-b, fitlet, compulab, APU, amd

The Israeli PC manufacturer, CompuLab Ltd., has announced three lines of small, fanless systems. They will be smaller than the NUC and run AMD APUs, from the E1 to the A4, which CompuLab claims are more powerful than NUCs of comparable prices. They can be configured with either Windows (7, 8, or 10) or Linux Mint. They are officially classified as Industrial PCs, and the 5-year warranty reinforces that association, but others might also be interested.

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CompuLab Fitlet-b

Let's start in the middle with the Fitlet-i. With a TDP of 4.5W, it is powered by an AMD A4-6400T APU at 1.0 GHz (1.6 GHz boost). It can be configured with up to 8GB of DDR3 memory.

The other features of the Fitlet-i are:

  • Two 3.5mm stereo audio jacks (one in, one out)
  • One S/PDIF port
  • Four USB 2.0 ports
  • Two USB 3.0 ports
  • Two HDMI 1.4 ports
  • Two Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • 802.11ac (clarified Jan 17th: built in, with external antennas I believe)
  • One microSD card slot
  • One eSATA port, rated at 6Gbps
  • One serial port (because industrial)
  • One mSATA socket (low profile)
  • One mini-PCIe socket (high profile, half or full size)

The Fitlet-X is similar to the above, except that it has four Gigabit Ethernet ports (instead of two), but it loses one USB 2.0 port (three total), has its Wireless downgraded to a USB 802.11n dongle, and it has no eSATA port. The extra pair of Gigabit Ethernet adapters is not the only perk though, as it has their “FACET card” interface, which provides 3 lanes of PCIe (if you want to take a risk on the interface).

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CompuLab Fitlet-i

That leaves us with the Fitlet-b, which is the base model. Its TDP is slightly lower, 3.95W, and is powered by an AMD E1-6200T APU at 1.0 GHz (1.4 GHz boost). It has just one Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports, three USB 2.0 ports, the USB 802.11n dongle, and just a full-size mSATA (low profile) expansion for storage. It does have both HDMI 1.4a outputs though.

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CompuLab Fitlet-X

The Fitlet will be available in February, starting at $129 for the Fitlet-b barebone, via Amazon for North America and Europe. It will also be available directly from CompuLab and resellers for the rest of the world.

Source: CompuLab

Graphics Developers: Help Name Next Generation OpenGL

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | January 16, 2015 - 10:37 PM |
Tagged: Khronos, opengl, OpenGL ES, webgl, OpenGL Next

The Khornos Group probably wants some advice from graphics developers because they ultimately want to market to them, as the future platform's success depends on their applications. If you develop games or other software (web browsers?) then you can give your feedback. If not, then it's probably best to leave responses to its target demographic.

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As for the questions themselves, first and foremost they ask if you are (or were) an active software developer. From there, they ask you to score your opinion on OpenGL, OpenGL ES, and WebGL. They then ask whether you value “Open” or “GL” in the title. They then ask you whether you feel like OpenGL, OpenGL ES, and WebGL are related APIs. They ask how you learn about the Khronos APIs. Finally, they directly ask you for name suggestions and any final commentary.

Now it is time to (metaphorically) read tea leaves. The survey seems written primarily to establish whether developers consider OpenGL, OpenGL ES, and WebGL as related libraries, and to gauge their overall interest in each. If you look at the way OpenGL ES has been developing, it has slowly brought mobile graphics into a subset of desktop GPU features. It is basically an on-ramp to full OpenGL.

We expect that, like Mantle and DirectX 12, the next OpenGL initiative will be designed around efficiently loading massively parallel processors, with a little bit of fixed-function hardware for common tasks, like rasterizing triangles into fragments. The name survey might be implying that the Next Generation OpenGL Initiative is intended to be a unified platform, for high-end, mobile, and even web. Again, modern graphics APIs are based on loading massively parallel processors as directly as possible.

If you are a graphics developer, the Khronos Group is asking for your feedback via their survey.

CES 2015: Monoprice Announcements

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Shows and Expos | January 16, 2015 - 06:59 PM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2015, monoprice, ips, 4k, 120hz, mechanical keyboard, touch screen, drawing

So CES has ended over a week ago, but somehow we missed Monoprice. While they are known for cheap cables that are also good and reliable, the retailer has been pushing out some interesting, self-branded products. At this year's CES, they advertised a multi-touch pen display, a cheap 4K 60Hz monitor, a 30-inch IPS panel that is guaranteed to work at 120Hz 1600p (16:10), and an RGB-backlit mechanical keyboard.

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First up is their 22-inch multi-touch pen display. Not too long ago, I noticed that they had a 22-inch pen display without a touch screen, similar to my Wacom Cintiq 22HD, for under $600. Of course, this got me looking at its product page because that is significantly cheaper than what I paid for mine -- like, several times cheaper. In that page was a warning that it was not suitable for multi-monitor setups, and suggested that users clone it (rather than extending their desktop). Yikes. Okay. That's problematic.

Well now it no longer has that warning, and neither does their new, higher-end version with built-in multi-touch. Hopefully this means that they sorted out their driver (or configuration) issues under Windows.

The display itself is a 22-inch, 1080p, IPS panel with 16.7 million colors (so not 10-bit). It has a 5ms response time, which is good for IPS, but no listing of sRGB or AdobeRGB coverage. This could be problematic for someone looking to use it for professional applications, but being an IPS display it might be okay.

The current price is $550 for the pen-input monitor, and $750 for the pen or 10-point touch model. Both are also compatible with 75mm x 75mm VESA wall mounts, because the writing's on the wall or some pun like that.

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Also launched is a 28-inch 4K display for $449. They do not state the panel technology, but with a reduced vertical viewing angle, which is bad, and a 1ms response time, which is good, it pretty much must be TN. It is a bit sad that it is not IPS, IGZO, PLS, or another high-end panel type, but it is also $449.

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Image Credit: Anandtech

Keeping on the topic of displays, Anandtech was shown a 30-inch, 1600p panel that is guaranteed to run at 120Hz. While we are starting to see a few high refresh rate IPS panels pop up this year, it was the domain of display overclockers before then. Enthusiasts would purchase monitors that were shipped directly from smaller South Korean manufacturers (who typically purchase lesser-binned panels from LG, and so forth) and cross their fingers when they give it a higher refresh rate. This one is guaranteed by Monoprice to run at 120Hz, but it does not yet have pricing and availability.

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Image Credit: Anandtech

Lastly, Anandtech also saw a mechanical keyboard with programmable RGB backlighting. It uses Kailh RGB switches, which are based on the Cherry MX design after the patents expired. Again, no pricing or availability on this one.

Source: Monoprice

Video Perspective: Amazon Echo Overview

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2015 - 06:05 PM |
Tagged: video, echo, amazon

Late last year Amazon announced the pending release of the Echo, a standalone device that would sit in your home or office and listen to voice commands and respond in a Siri-like or Google Now-like fashion. The first Amazon Echo units have shipped and I received one of them, opening it up and putting it to use for a few days this week.

At its core, the Echo is a collection of microphones and speakers, connected to the internet through Wi-Fi. Using the keyword of “Alexa” (or you can change it to “Amazon”) you stir Echo from its slumber to respond to requests for information, streaming­ music and lists or timers. Voice recognition is fantastic and the speed at which Echo responds to voice commands is impressive, moving along at a quicker pace than either Google’s or Apple’s options.

Users that have uploaded their music collection to Amazon’s cloud library will be able to access that music through the 2.5-in subwoofer and 2.0-in tweeter, both of which add up to surprisingly good audio performance for such a small device. Amazon Prime users will have access to the company’s collection of including streaming music as well, though that collection is notably smaller than something like Spotify. Music from Amazon’s digital music store is the one item you can purchase solely through voice commands.

Adding things to a shopping list, asking for fact-based information and telling lame jokes all happen efficiently. But the drawback to the Echo is its lack of knowledge about the rest of my life. The device has no ability to know about my next calendar appointment, my incoming emails, my estimated drive time to the work. Google does though, and I can’t help but think that a Google iteration of this exact item would be a better solution.

Check out the video below to see Amazon Echo in action and determine if this device deserves a spot in your home.