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ASUS 20th Anniversary Gold Edition GTX 980 Ti Announced

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 26, 2015 - 09:42 PM |
Tagged: asus, 980 Ti

As most of our readers are well aware, the graphics market is dominated by two GPU vendors, both of which sell chips and reference designs to add-in board partners. ASUS is one of the oldest add-in board partners. According to their anniversary website, ASUS even produced a card that was based on the S3 ViRGE/DX graphics chipset all the way back in 1996.


To celebrate their 20th anniversary, although they don't exactly state when they start counting, ASUS has released a few high-end versions of Maxwell-based graphics cards. This one is the ASUS 20th Anniversary Gold Edition GTX 980 Ti. It comes with a base clock speed of 1266 MHz, which boosts up to 1367 MHz as needed. This is quite high, considering the reference card is clocked at 1000 MHz and boosts to 1189 MHz, although overclocking the 980 Ti is not too difficult to begin with. Ryan got up to 1465 MHz with a reference card. The Gold Edition GTX 980 Ti might go even higher with its enhanced cooling and power delivery, and it's designed for liquid nitrogen if you're that type of enthusiast.


Speaking of liquid nitrogen features, the card advertises a “Memory Defroster” feature that looks rather extreme. I can't say that I've ever seen a graphics card get covered in a visible layer of ice, but I've also never attached it to a reservoir of liquid with a temperature that's easier to write in Kelvin than Celcius.

Is this a legit problem? Or does this seem like “anti-dust shield” to everyone else too?

The ASUS 20th Anniversary Gold Edition GTX 980 Ti ships this month.

Source: ASUS

Shame about the name but power over WiFi would be nice

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2015 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: poWiFi, wireless power, iot

It is going to take some work as it is not currently that impressive but the experiment at Cornell University shows that power over WiFi is not impossible.  The experiment was not all that impressive, they charged a Jawbone headset @ 2.3mA and after 2.5 hours which they managed to charge the battery to 41% over a distance of 5-7cm.  Those results are poor compared to Qi and other wireless charging solutions on the market but are promising.  The power is transmitted by a wireless router that can also send and receive data so for wireless cameras and other low powered devices which transmit data this could be quite useful.  You can read the research paper by following the links from Hack a Day.


"There have been a few reports of power over WiFi (PoWiFi) on the intertubes lately. If this is a real thing it’s definitely going to blow all of the IoT fanboys skirts up (sorry to the rest of you *buzzword* fanboys, the IoT kids flash-mobbed the scene and they mean business)."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Hack a Day

MSI & Thermaltake Make Motherboard-Specific Water Block

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 29, 2015 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: thermaltake, msi, CPU Water Block, cooler

Normally a water block presses against the CPU heatspreader, but this one is a bit different. MSI and Thermaltake decided to team up and make a motherboard-specific cooler that pulls heat away from the CPU and the motherboard's VRM MOSFETs. This way, water chills both the CPU and its power delivery, which could be a bottleneck when overclocking.


Specifically, the Thermaltake Pacific M3 motherboard water block is designed to be used with the MSI Z170A Gaming M5 motherboard. This is a Skylake / DDR4 platform with USB 3.1 and SATA Express.

Note that this is not a closed-loop cooler. It is designed to be embedded in a custom cooling loop, which means that the user (or a small business computer store that maintains their PC) is responsible for routing water and preventing leaks. That said, users who are looking for a high-quality cooler for their power delivery system should expect a little commitment to their build (and a little risk).

Also, since the product is designed for a specific motherboard, the user shouldn't expect to keep it hanging around from build to build. You will almost definitely use it while you have it and leave it when you move on. On the other hand, you shouldn't worry about it covering your RAM or anything -- you can be reasonably assured that it's built for your setup. (That is, unless you buy the wrong motherboard or something... d'oh!)

Source: Thermaltake

Giving the R9 Nano some breathing space

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 25, 2015 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: radeon, r9 nano, mini ITX, amd, obsidian 250d, corsair

When Ryan tested out how the R9 Nano performs in tiny cases he chose the Cooler Master Elite 110, the Raijintek Metis, the Lian Li PC-Q33BL and their PC-Q30X.  The card did slow down somewhat because of a lack of airflow in the case but that was quickly remedied with a drill press and we saw vast improvements in the in-game frequencies.  [H]ard|OCP performed a similar experiment with the Cooler Master Elite 110 as well and found similar results.

They are now back at it again, this time testing in a Corsair Obsidian Series 250D Mini ITX case, which is large enough to accommodate a full sized GPU and provide improved airflow.  They tested the Nano against a GTX 980 Ti and a R9 Fury X as they cost a similar amount to the tiny little Nano.  They tested the cards at both 1440p and 4K resolutions and as you might reasonably expect the Nano fell behind, especially at 4K.  If you have a case which can fit a full sized GPU then the Nano does not make sense to purchase, however in cases in which the larger cards will not fit then the Nano's performance is unmatched.


"Our second installment covering our AMD Radeon R9 Nano in a Small Form Factor chassis is finally done. We will upgrade the case to a Corsair Obsidian Series 250D Mini ITX PC Case and compare the R9 Nano to price competitive video cards that can be installed. We game at 1440p and 4K for the ultimate small form factor experience."

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

Graphics Cards


Source: [H]ard|OCP

Lenovo and Razer Announce Partnership for New Gaming PCs

Subject: Systems | November 27, 2015 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: y-series, razer, Lenovo, gaming pc, gaming desktop

Lenovo has partnered with Razer for co-branded Razer Edition computers, which will be special versions of Lenovo’s Y series gaming systems. Lenovo says the first device will be officially announced at CES, with a prototype on display at DreamHack Winter 2015 in Sweden.


The prototype Razer Edition desktop (featuring Skittles-inspired ground effects)

These upcoming products will clearly add some style (and color) to Lenovo's gaming computers, and while thus far only this desktop concept has been shown the Y-series from Lenovo includes gaming laptops as well, which presumably will receive the Razer treatment going forward. It is notable that the concept incorporates multiple colors with its lighting effects (which should be customizable) considering Razer is known for a black and green color scheme.

"PC gaming today offers a rich and immersive experience – thanks in part to cutting-edge graphics performance, superior processing power, and peripherals designed specifically for gaming. Lenovo will employ its system design and engineering expertise, while Razer will enhance the immersive experience for gamers. All forthcoming Lenovo Razer Edition products will be co-branded and reflect the edgy Lenovo Y series look and feel with iconic Razer elements like customizable Chroma lighting effects."


The details as far as specs and configuration options for the desktop shown are not known, and this seems to be primarily a new branding/style for the Y-series line. More might be known after DreamHack, the event which calls itself "the world's largest digital festival", which runs November 26 - 29 in Jönköping, in the south of Sweden.

Source: Lenovo

LG Invests $1.6 Billion in $8.7 Billion OLED Factory

Subject: Displays | November 28, 2015 - 05:27 PM |
Tagged: LG, lg display, oled

LG Display announced that they are investing $1.6 Billion USD to build an OLED panel factory in Paju, South Korea. This initial cost will cover the building, the “foundations” of the clean rooms, and basic infrastructure such as water and power. Construction will begin immediately. The plant is expected to cost $8.7 Billion USD by the time it starts producing displays, which the company anticipates for early 2018. It will produce panels for smart watches, cars, and even large TVs.


The shift from LCD to OLED has been anticipated for a while, but it seems like the former technology just kept remaining viable. It kept ahead of plasma technology, despite LCD being considered inferior in terms of contrast and maintainability by some, and outlived it. SED threatened to crush it, but never really became available because Canon basically misunderstood patent licensing terms from a Texas-based nanotech company. Mobile devices helped push LED panels away from TN technology and into IPS-like panels, which closed the gap between LCD and early OLED.

LCD would eventually need to reach its maximum viable potential though, and heightened availability of OLED could do it. Hopefully the technology makes it to consumer desktop panels relatively soon. Display manufacturers have been experimenting with higher refresh rates, better displays, and higher resolution recently, but adding OLED to the mix should push the industry toward focusing on contrast and color reproduction even more heavily.

Source: LG Display

Rumor About Samsung's Upcoming Flagship Phone

Subject: Mobile | November 28, 2015 - 09:05 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, s7, galaxy

The follow-up to the Samsung Galaxy S6 is already being rumored, which people are obviously calling the Galaxy S7. The last two phones were unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, which takes place in late February / early March. Information coming out in November is a bit... early. Some sites believe that Samsung will announce the phone in January, but who knows? Some of the rumors are interesting, though.


The one that catches my attention is the potential inclusion of a microSD card slot. External storage is rare these days, with Google removing it from their Nexus line and severely limiting what apps can do with the contents. That said, Android 6.0, recently released for a few devices, made further changes to increase its capabilities. You can now use SD cards as internal storage, but only if you agree to format and encrypt the storage to use only on that device. While the recent batch of Nexus phones don't include a microSD card slot, the changes might be enough to sway third-party manufacturers to include a slot.

As a developer, it would certainly be nice, especially if you intend to develop software that uses an SD card. Makes sense, right? Purchasing a developer phone that has all the features you might want to target?

Speaking of developer phones, the upcoming device should have a top-of-the-line processor in it. Reports are split between the Snapdragon 820 and the Exynos 8890. If it's the latter, availability is expected Q1 2016; the former started sampling a few months ago and was launched on November 11th. As such, SoC availability should be ready if Samsung intends to launch the phone early, regardless of the chosen chip, but that's probably not the limiting factor. It is also entirely possible that Samsung could include different processors for different markets. Qualcomm was absent from the Galaxy S6 line, but the S5 had some sub-models using Qualcomm processors and others Samsung's own implementation.

Either way, they are fast processors that support OpenGL ES 3.1 + AEP at the very least. The Adreno 530 is rated for about 550 GFLOPs, which is a tiny bit faster than a GeForce 9800 GT, although with Vulkan-level feature support (provided correct drivers). Thankfully Google has been more friendly to Khronos-based standards, and Samsung even more so.

When will we know for sure? Don't know. How much will it cost? Don't know. What will it be officially called? Don't know, but anything other than Galaxy S7 would be surprising. Would it make sense for Samsung to shake up the date and other long-running details? Well, the Galaxy S6 launch was lackluster, so this would be the most likely time for them to be squirrely. We'll see.

Source: PCMag

Raspberry Pi Zero Released for $5

Subject: Systems | November 26, 2015 - 04:51 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, raspberry pi zero

The Raspberry Pi Zero is a new version that lowers the cost of gigahertz-class computing devices to just $5. It is based on a 1.0 GHz ARM11 core from Broadcom that is about 40% faster than the original Raspberry Pi. It also has 512MB of RAM, which is a lot for embedded or hobbyist applications. In fact, it doubles the original Raspberry Pi Model A (and is on part with the Model B). Storage is handled by a microSD card slot, as is the case with every previous Raspberry Pi except the Compute Module.


They also offer an alternative to the $5 price tag. If you pick up the print edition of MagPi magazine #40, which is the Christmas 2015 issue, you will receive a free Raspberry Pi Zero. The Raspberry Pi Foundation says that they printed 10,000 copies of this magazine. This is probably much more interesting than a CD-ROM demo of Battlezone II.

Due to high demand, I'm not sure when you can expect to get one though.

Source: Raspberry Pi

Samsung Announces Mass Production of 128GB DDR4 Sticks

Subject: Memory | November 26, 2015 - 05:23 PM |
Tagged: TSV, Samsung, enterprise, ddr4

You may remember Allyn's article about TSV memory back from IDF 2014. Through this process, Samsung and others are able to stack dies of memory onto a single package, which can increase density and bandwidth. This is done by punching holes through the dies and connecting them down to the PCB. The first analogy that comes to mind is an elevator shaft, but I'm not sure how accurate that is.


Anyway, Samsung has been applying it to enterprise-class DDR4 memory, which leads to impressive capacities. 64GB sticks, individual sticks, were introduced in 2014. This year, that capacity doubles to 128GB. The chips are fabricated at 20nm and each contain 8Gb (1GB) per layer. Each stick contains 36 packages of four chips.

At the end of their press release, Samsung also mentioned that they intend to expand their TSV technology into “HBM and consumer products.”

Source: Samsung