Subject: Processors | February 6, 2016 - 09:00 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Skylake, overclocking, asrock, Intel, gskill
I recently came across a post at PC Gamer that looked at the extreme overclocking leaderboard of the Skylake-based Intel Core i7-6700K. Obviously, these competitions will probably never end as long as higher numbers are possible on parts that are interesting for one reason or another. Skylake is the new chip on the liquid nitrogen block. It cannot reach frequencies as high as its predecessors, but teams still compete to get as high as possible on that specific SKU.
The current world record for a single-threaded Intel Core i7-6700K is 7.02566 GHz, which is achieved with a voltage of 4.032V. For comparison, the i7-6700K is typically around 1.3V at load. This record was apparently set about a month ago, on January 11th.
This is obviously a huge increase, about three-fold more voltage for the extra 3 GHz. For comparison, the current world record over all known CPUs is the AMD FX-8370 with a clock of 8.72278 GHz. Many Pentium 4-era processors make up the top 15 places too, as those parts were designed for high clock rates with relatively low IPC.
The rest of the system used G.SKILL Ripjaws 4 DDR4 RAM, an ASRock Z170M OC Formula motherboard, and an Antec 1300W power supply. It used an NVIDIA GeForce GT 630 GPU, which offloaded graphics from the integrated chip, but otherwise interfered as little as possible. They also used Windows XP, because why not I guess? I assume that it does the least amount of work to boot, allowing a quicker verification, but that is only a guess.
Subject: General Tech | February 3, 2016 - 02:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: modding, gaming, fallout 4
[H]ard|OCP has put together a little guide on improving your Fallout 4 experience with the help of modders and the great people at Nexus Mods. They describe the basics on how to install mods as there are steps you need to follow to ensure your mods successfully apply, whether installed manually or with the Nexus Mod Manager tool. They explore several mods than greatly increase the size of textures, making them much better looking as well as adding weather and storms to the mix. As long as you meet the graphics memory requirements which they mention you should not see much performance degradation when using these mods. Soon Fallout 4 may be meeting or surpassing Skyrim's impressive mod community.
Of course immediately after [H] covered this topic Bethesda released a new patch which enables HBAO+ for all GPUs and extra debris effects specifically for NVIDIA GPUs.
"Fallout 4 has been out for several months and it is possible that you might find the image quality lacking overall. We take some of the most popular and highly downloaded image quality mods and find out how we can improve the environment in Fallout 4. We modify for visual improvements to give you more immersive gameplay."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Shadowrun: Hong Kong – Extended Edition Coming Soon @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Rise of the Tomb Raider: Performance Analysis @ techPowerUp
- Need For Speed: Most Wanted is On The House @ HEXUS
- Have You Played… Sacrifice? @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Long War Team Reveal XCOM 2’s Launch Day Mods @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Rise of the Tomb Raider PC Game @ Kitguru
- Battlefleet Gothic Does Galactic-Scale 40K In March @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Rocket League: Learning to Fly @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech | February 5, 2016 - 05:06 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: onedrive, microsoft, cloud storage
Remember the good old days when OneDrive moved from offering you 1TB of storage to an unlimited amount? That did not last too long, they changed their minds and dropped the paid service back to 1TB and the free version from 15GB to 5GB, with a chance to grandfather in the additional storage if you followed up with them.
A viewer recently encountered this for the first time and it seems appropriate to remind everyone about the change. If you have the paid service and are storing over 1TB you may have already heard from Microsoft but if not then consider this the warning that you have better trim down the amount of data you store on OneDrive as the changes are going to happen in the latter half of this year. The same goes for free users who have 15GB, or 30GB if you opted into the camera roll service, get the amount of files you have stored on OneDrive under 5GB or risk losing data you would rather keep. The standalone 100GB and 200GB plans will be reduced to 50GB, the price will remain at $1.99 per month.
The whole situation is reminiscent of a teacher in a classroom full of kids choosing to punish the entire class for the actions of a few individuals; in this case the tiny percentage which exceeded 75TB of usage. Make sure to clean up your OneDrive as soon as possible, this is not something you want to wait until the last minute to do.
"If you are using more than 5 GB of free storage, you will continue to have access to all files for at least 12 months after these changes go into effect in early 2016. In addition, you can redeem a free one-year Office 365 Personal subscription (credit card required), which includes 1 TB of OneDrive storage."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel Says Chips To Become Slower But More Energy Efficient @ Slashdot
- The USB Type-C Cable That Will Break Your Computer @ Hack a Day
- Mysterious 'Code 53' error is borking iPhones beyond repair @ The Inquirer
- Two Outstanding All-in-One Linux Servers @ Linux.com
- iOS flaw lets hackers thwart lock screen passcode on iPhones and iPads @ The InquirerE
- Ubuntu 6.06 To Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Performance Benchmarks: 10 Years Of Linux Performance @ Phoronix
- New AI chip from MIT gives Skynet a tenfold speed boost @ The Register
- Pebble punts out new firmware to watch you as you sleep @ The Register
- AUO starts shipping bezel-less Ultra HD TV panels in 1Q16 @ DigiTimes
- A Bot That Drives Robocallers Insane @ Slashdot
Subject: Cases and Cooling | February 5, 2016 - 06:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: swiftech, H320 X2, AIO, watercooling
The Swiftech H320 X2 is obviously designed for those who like to show off the insides of their system, parts of both the reservoir and waterblock are clear as is the piping and there are indeed LEDs on the cooler. It is larger than the previous generation, the radiator is 127 x 375 x 28mm with a 109ml reservoir, three Swiftech Helix 120mm PWM fans are installed to pull heat from the radiator. Modders Inc loved the fact that while this is an AiO cooler, it is designed with modding in mind as you can add in or switch out components which is a rarity in AiO watercoolers. The performance was also impressive, you can read about that and more in their full review.
"All-in-one (AIO) water cooling units have brought the performance and silence of water cooling to the masses with the simplicity of installing an air cooler. AIOs offer simple installation without the need to bleed the loop. Simply attach the hardware and power cables and you are all set."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Antec Kuhler H20 H1200 Pro & H600 Pro AIO Water Cooler @ eTeknix
- Fractal Design Define Nano S Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Corsair Carbide 400Q @ Benchmark Reviews
- NZXT Manta Mini-ITX Chassis @ eTeknix
- Noctua NH-D15S CPU Cooler @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | February 4, 2016 - 07:47 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: GDC, gdc 2016, epic games, ue4, VR, vive vr
Epic Games released Unreal Engine 4 at GDC two years ago, and removed its subscription fee at the next year's show. This year, one of the things that they will show is Unreal Editor in VR with the HTC Vive. Using the system's motion controllers, you will be able to move objects and access UI panels in the virtual environment. They open the video declaring that this is not an experimental project.
Without using this technology, it's hard to comment on its usability. It definitely looks interesting, and might be useful for VR experiences. You can see what your experience will look like as you create it, and you probably even save a bit of time in rapid iteration by not continuously wearing and removing the equipment. I wonder how precise it will be though, since the laser pointers and objects seemed to snap and jitter a bit. That said, it might be just as precise and, even still, it only really matters how it looks and behaves, and it shouldn't even prevent minor tweaks after the fact anyway.
Epic Games expects to discuss the release plans at the show.
Next on the list of companies which should know better is Malwarebytes, but it is not as bad as some say
Subject: General Tech | February 3, 2016 - 12:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: security, Malwarebytes
Considering the business that Malwarebytes is in you can expect to see a lot of negative press about a gaping security hole in the near future and while there is a vulnerability it is not as bad as many will make it out to be. The issue lies in that signature updates are done over HTTP and are unsigned, very bad practice but something which would be exploited on a single client connection as opposed to something you could use to create a wide spread infection. The Register links to the Google Project Zero entry which was released today as the vulnerability was first reported to Malwarebytes 90 days ago and has not been addressed on the client side.
The actual concern you should have is that the original bug report also found vulnerabilities on the server side. Malwarebytes did correct the server side issues almost immediately but neglected to follow through on the client side. It is good of them to patch and offer bug bounties but a complete follow through is necessary if you are a security software peddler who wants their reputation to stay intact.
"The antivirus firm says it has addressed server-side vulnerabilities that were reported by Google Project Zero researcher Tavis Ormandy in November. However, security holes remain in the client-side software that runs on people's Windows PCs."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Exascale project wants machine with TEN MEEELLION ARMS @ The Register
- Joysix, Six Degree of Freedom Mouse Made From Retractable Key Rings @ Hack a Day
- Intel, Qualcomm set up their WiGig 802.11ad devices on blind dates @ The Register
- MQTT: Building an Open Internet of Things @ Linux.com
- Build Your Swarm: Control Cockroaches for Under $30! @ Hack a Day
- Building Custom Appliances with SUSE Studio @ Linux.com
- Microsoft ships 6.0 million Surface tablets in 2015, say sources @ DigiTimes
- Ventec 3015+ Battery Pack/Wall Charger combo @ TechwareLabs
- Barracuda Networks Kills Copy & CudaDrive @ TechARP
- Auslogics Registry Cleaner Tutorial @ Hardware Secrets
- 2016 Samsung SUHD TV Models Revealed @ Tech ARP
Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2016 - 12:48 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ripjaws, RGB LED, mechanical keyboard, G.Skill, Cherry MX
Memory maker G.Skill recently announced a refresh of its mechanical keyboard line that tweaks the KM780 series and cuts $10 off of the MSRP pricing. The two new refreshed products are the Ripjaws KM780R RGB and KM780R MX.
The new keyboards use an aluminum plate/base, Cherry MX switches, and a black anodized finish on the frame. The KM780R MX is backlit by red LEDs while the KM780R RGB can have custom per-key backlighting. Both feature a full QWERTY layout plus number pad as well as media playback keys, a LED volume level display, and six macro keys (three on-board key profiles). There is also USB and analog audio pass-through ports.
G.Skill is offering the new gaming keyboards in several models depending on your choice of key switch. Specifically, users can choose from Cherry MX blue, brown, or red switches. Connecting via USB, they employ anti-ghosting and full N-key rollover tech as well.
The every so slightly cheaper KM780R series does away with its predecessors bundled extra gaming key caps and key removal tool. The KM780R MX has an MSRP of $120 while the KM780R RGB model has an MSRP of $159.99 (Note that the brown and red variants are actually $140 on Amazon right now, but the Cherry MX blue version is not on sale.)
While I have not used them, the original models from last year appear to have garnered quite a bit of praise in reviews (particularly from AnandTech). It seems like G.Skill has not changed much and the R variants are more of the same for a bit less, and that's probably a good thing. I'm looking forward to seeing full reviews though, of course.
Have you tried the memory giant's other products before?
Also read: Mechanical Keyboard Switches Explained and Compared by Scott Michaud @ PC Perspective
Subject: General Tech | February 4, 2016 - 01:18 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: open source, microsoft, machine learning, deep neural network, deep learning, cntk, azure
Microsoft has been using deep neural networks for awhile now to power its speech recognition technologies bundled into Windows and Skype to identify and follow commands and to translate speech respectively. This technology is part of Microsoft's Computational Network Toolkit. Last April, the company made this toolkit available to academic researchers on Codeplex, and it is now opening it up even more by moving the project to GitHub and placing it under an open source license.
Lead by chief speech and computer scientist Xuedong Huang, a team of Microsoft researchers built the Computational Network Toolkit (CNTK) to power all their speech related projects. The CNTK is a deep neural network for machine learning that is built to be fast and scalable across multiple systems, and more importantly, multiple GPUs which excel at these kinds of parallel processing workloads and algorithms. Microsoft heavily focused on scalability with CNTK and according to the company's own benchmarks (which is to say to be taken with a healthy dose of salt) while the major competing neural network tool kits offer similar performance running on a single GPU, when adding more than one graphics card CNTK is vastly more efficient with almost four times the performance of Google's TensorFlow and a bit more than 1.5-times Torch 7 and Caffe. Where CNTK gets a bit deep learning crazy is its ability to scale beyond a single system and easily tap into Microsoft's Azure GPU Lab to get access to numerous GPUs from their remote datacenters -- though its not free you don't need to purchase, store, and power the hardware locally and can ramp the number up and down based on how much GPU muscle you need. The example Microsoft provided showed two similarly spec'd Linux systems with four GPUs each running on Azure cloud hosting getting close to twice the performance of the 4 GPU system (75% increase). Microsoft claims that "CNTK can easily scale beyond 8 GPUs across multiple machines with superior distributed system performance."
Using GPU-based Azure machines, Microsoft was able to increase the performance of Cortana's speech recognition by 10-times compared to the local systems they were previously using.
It is always cool to see GPU compute in practice and now that CNTK is available to everyone, I expect to see a lot of new uses for the toolkit beyond speech recognition. Moving to an open source license is certainly good PR, but I think it was actually done more for Microsoft's own benefit rather than users which isn't necessarily a bad thing since both get to benefit from it. I am really interested to see what researchers are able to do with a deep neural network that reportedly offers so much performance thanks to GPUs. I'm curious what new kinds of machine learning opportunities the extra speed will enable.
If you are interested, you can check out CNTK on GitHub!
Subject: General Tech | February 2, 2016 - 05:11 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: file syncing, encryption, bittorrent sync, bittorrent
BitTorrent continues to support its file sharing and syncing application with the recent release of Sync 2.3.1. The 2.3.x update contains a number of bug fixes for stability, but the important news is the added support for encrypted folders and finally allowing selective file syncing on Linux systems. Additionally, the company put out a short brief on the information they collect and how they are securing your files synced by Sync which is available as a PDF.
Sync 2.3 allows Windows users to run Sync as a service and Android users can move data to and from an SD card from within the app so long as they are running at least Android 5.0 or newer. Linux users also get a bit of love with support for selective file syncing (where you can choose which specific files to download locally and which to keep on the remote peers) though it appears that BitTorrent has limited this feature to its paid Sync Pro tier which is in line with other platforms. According to BitTorrent Inc. among the performance and bug fixes, the biggest UI change is a redesigned process for adding new folders.
On the security and privacy front, BitTorrent claims that it employs several security measures to keep your data safe. First though, the company allegedly only collects benign data including the program version, add folder errors, the amount of data transferred (directly and via relay server), number of peers, and share link and tracker statistics as well as few more things you can see in the brief linked above. All the data that they collect is reportedly sent in the clear so that users can verify what they are collecting on them.
To secure your files, BitTorrent uses SSL and AES-128 encryption to transfer files. In the case of Advanced folders, it generates a X.509 certificate (each folder is given it's own certificate) using a certificate authority and then uses a certificate chain to control user access and file modification permissions as well as a mechanism to revoke access. In the case of encrypted folders, Sync generates storage and session keys with the session keys complying with perfect forwards secrecy standards such that future session keys being cracked does not compromise past sessions. When using the encrypted folders option (which is useful when using a VPS as an off-site backup or to any machine that you do not fully own and control for that matter), data from your local machines is encrypted before being sent to the remote machine using AES 128 bit encryption (I wish they had gone with at least AES-256, but it's something). The data is then sent over SSL. Thus, the data on the remote machine is never in an unencrypted state which is a good thing for having a secure off-site backup. The encrypted folder can still be used as part of the mesh to speed up syncing among your machines, as well, while remaining secure.
I think the encrypted folders are a good addition to Sync, though the encryption bit-ness could be improved (a weak VPS' processor doesn't need to decrypt the data anyway so CPU time needed for the beefier algorithm should not matter...). In past coverage users have mentioned issues when syncing folders that they encrypted themselves before adding to Sync where the data could get corrupted when the peers became confused on changes made and what to sync. Hopefully this will help avoid that though they do still need to work on fixing user chosen pre-sync encryption. I am still using Sync to backup my photos and sync documents between my laptop and desktop and it works well for that sans the storage limits imposed by One Drive (and the uncertainty of my once-promised 25GB of free storage).
What do you think of the changes, and is their security good enough?
Subject: Displays | February 6, 2016 - 10:41 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: monoprice, pen display, touch screen, drawing
A couple of CESes ago, Monoprice launched a couple of 22-inch pen displays to compete with the Wacom Cintiq 22HD. Shortly afterward, the products disappeared from their website and line-up, so I assumed, at the time, that they changed their mind or otherwise refocused.
Turns out, it was only temporary. There are now two models on their product list, one for $499.99 and another for $599.99, although I have a feeling that the cheaper model might be discontinued. The only real, concrete difference that I can see is the $599.99 model uses “battery-free” pens, which I'm assuming is powered by induction from the display surface. The cheaper model is out-of-stock with an estimated availability of “TBD”. That one uses rechargeable pens. The $599.99 model also lists Linux drivers. The $599.99 version also has a slower response time (12ms vs 5ms) and higher viewing angles, although both are listed as IPS.
Whether or not the $499.99 model will become available again, the $599.99 one is still about a third of the price of the Wacom Cintiq 22HD. Also, unlike the Wacom, it supports Linux as mentioned above. They used to offer a pen display with a ten-finger capacitive touchscreen, which competes with the Wacom Cintiq 22HD Touch, but that has not been relaunched, at least not yet.
Subject: Systems | February 6, 2016 - 11:30 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: msi, gs72, gaming laptop, laptop
This laptop was announced at CES, but barely. They have now released full specifications, including options, which are actually quite interesting. The 4K panel, in particular, has a color gamut that fully covers AdobeRGB (100%). This means that, if the hardware and software are properly calibrated, it is compatible with the color spaces that both video and print professionals tend to target. The latter is quite difficult, because magazine publishers actually have a large palette. Even the Wacom Cintiq 22HD only covers around 72% AdobeRGB.
Outside of this, the laptop has one processor choice: a Skylake-based Intel Core i7-6700HQ backed with up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM. There are three choices in GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M, 965M, and 970M. This could be disappointing for those hoping for desktop-class performance, although the 970M is pretty close to a GTX 680. It should handle games like Just Cause 3 and Rainbow Six Siege at around 50-60 FPS in 1080p mode. Basically, you are going to be dropping the 4K resolution down to about 1080p in games, but it's also a laptop and 4K in professional applications is quite nice. It also uses M.2 SSDs with PCIe 3.0 x4 bandwidth that communicates in the NVMe standard. They didn't say which one, or how large, but they claim read speeds of about 2.2GB/s.
They did not state pricing or availability. Its headlining feature is thickness -- just 1.99cm for a 17-inch display. This explains the GPU, but also suggests a premium price.
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