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Who's a pretty boy? Is it you Fallout?

Subject: General Tech | February 3, 2016 - 02:46 PM |
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.

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"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:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

That Depends on Whether They Need One

Ars Technica UK published an editorial called, Hey Valve: What's the point of Steam OS? The article does not actually pose the question in it's text -- it mostly rants about technical problems with a Zotac review unit -- but the headline is interesting none-the-less.

Here's my view of the situation.

steam-os.png

The Death of Media Center May Have Been...

There's two parts to this story, and both center around Windows 8. The first was addressed in an editorial that I wrote last May, titled The Death of Media Center & What Might Have Been. Microsoft wanted to expand the PC platform into the living room. Beyond the obvious support for movies, TV, and DVR, they also pushed PC gaming in a few subtle ways. The Games for Windows certification required games to be launchable by Media Center and support Xbox 360 peripherals, which pressures game developers to make PC games comfortable to play on a couch. They also created Tray and Play, which is an optional feature that allows PC games to be played from the disk while they installed in the background. Back in 2007, before Steam and other digital distribution services really took off, this eliminated install time, which was a major user experience problem with PC gaming (and a major hurdle for TV-connected PCs).

It also had a few nasty implications. Games for Windows Live tried to eliminate modding by requiring all content to be certified (or severely limiting the tools as seen in Halo 2 Vista). Microsoft was scared about the content that users could put into their games, especially since Hot Coffee (despite being locked, first-party content) occurred less than two years earlier. You could also argue that they were attempting to condition PC users to accept paid DLC.

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Regardless of whether it would have been positive or negative for the PC industry, the Media Center initiative launched with Windows Vista, which is another way of saying “exploded on the launch pad, leaving no survivors.” Windows 7 cleared the wreckage with a new team, who aimed for the stars with Windows 8. They ignored the potential of the living room PC, preferring devices and services (ie: Xbox) over an ecosystem provided by various OEMs.

If you look at the goals of Steam OS, they align pretty well with the original, Vista-era ambitions. Valve hopes to create a platform that hardware vendors could compete on. Devices, big or small, expensive or cheap, could fill all of the various needs that users have in the living room. Unfortunately, unlike Microsoft, they cannot be (natively) compatible with the catalog of Windows software.

This may seem like Valve is running toward a cliff, but keep reading.

What If Steam OS Competed with Windows Store?

Windows 8 did more than just abandon the vision of Windows Media Center. Driven by the popularity of the iOS App Store, Microsoft saw a way to end the public perception that Windows is hopelessly insecure. With the Windows Store, all software needs to be reviewed and certified by Microsoft. Software based on the Win32 API, which is all software for Windows 7 and earlier, was only allowed within the “Desktop App,” which was a second-class citizen and could be removed at any point.

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This potential made the PC software industry collectively crap themselves. Mozilla was particularly freaked out, because Windows Store demanded (at the time) that all web browsers become reskins of Internet Explorer. This means that Firefox would not be able to implement any new Web standards on Windows, because it can only present what Internet Explorer (Trident) draws. Mozilla's mission is to develop a strong, standards-based web browser that forces all others to interoperate or die.

Remember: “This website is best viewed with Internet Explorer”?

Executives from several PC gaming companies, including Valve, Blizzard, and Mojang, spoke out against Windows 8 at the time (along with browser vendors and so forth). Steam OS could be viewed as a fire escape for Valve if Microsoft decided to try its luck and kill, or further deprecate, Win32 support. In the mean time, Windows PCs could stream to it until Linux gained a sufficient catalog of software.

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

This is where Steam OS gets interesting. Its software library cannot compete against Windows with its full catalog of Win32 applications, at least not for a long time. On the other hand, if Microsoft continues to support Win32 as a first-class citizen, and they returned to the level of openness with software vendors that they had in the Windows XP era, then Valve doesn't really have a reason to care about Steam OS as anything more than a hobby anyway. Likewise, if doomsday happens and something like Windows RT ends up being the future of Windows, as many feared, then Steam OS wouldn't need to compete against Windows. Its only competition from Microsoft would be Windows Store apps and first-party software.

I would say that Valve might even have a better chance than Microsoft in that case.

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 |
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.

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"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:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

AMD FirePro S-Series Introduces Hardware-Based GPU Virtualization

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 3, 2016 - 02:37 AM |
Tagged: virtual machines, virtual graphics, mxgpu, gpu virtualization, firepro, amd

AMD made an interesting enterprise announcement today with the introduction of new FirePro S-Series graphics cards that integrate hardware-based virtualization technology. The new FirePro S1750 and S1750 x2 are aimed at virtualized workstations, render farms, and cloud gaming platforms where each virtual machine has direct access to the graphics hardware.

The new graphics cards use a GCN-based Tonga GPU with 2,048 stream processors paired with 8GB of ECC GDDR5 memory on the single slot FirePro S1750. The dual slot FirePro S1750 x2, as the name suggests, is a dual GPU card that features a total of 4,096 shaders (2,048 per GPU) and 16 GB of ECC GDDR5 (8 GB per GPU). The S1750 has a TDP of 150W while the dual-GPU S1750 x2 variant is rated at 265W and either can be passively cooled.

AMD FirePro S1750 x2 Hardare-based virtualized GPU MxGPU.png

Where the graphics cards get niche is the inclusion of what AMD calls MxGPU (Multi-User GPU) technology which is derived from the SR-IOV (Single Root Input/Output Virtualization) PCI-Express standard. According to AMD, the new FirePro S-Series allows virtual machines direct access to the full range of GPU hardware (shaders, memory, ect.) and OpenCL 2.0 support on the software side. The S1750 supports up to 16 simultaneous users and the S1750 x2 tops out at 32 users. Each virtual machine is allocated an equal slice of the GPU, and as you add virtual machines the equal slices get smaller. AMD’s solution to that predicament is to add more GPUs to spread out the users and allocate each VM more hardware horsepower. It is worth noting that AMD has elected not to charge companies any per-user licensing fees for all these VMs the hardware supports which should make these cards more competitive.

The graphics cards use ECC memory to correct errors when dealing with very large numbers and calculations and every VM is reportedly protected and isolated such that one VM can not access any data of a different VM stored in graphics memory.

I am interested to see how these stack up compared to NVIDIA’s GRID and VGX GPU virtualization specialized graphics cards. The difference between the software versus hardware-based virtualization may not make much difference, but AMD’s approach may be every so slightly more efficient with the removal of layer between the virtual machine and hardware. We’ll have to wait and see, however.

Enterprise users will be able to pick up the new cards installed in systems from server manufacturers sometime in the first half of 2016. Pricing for the cards themselves appears to be $2,399 for the single GPU S1750 and $3,999 for the dual GPU S1750 x2.

Needless to say, this is all a bit more advanced (and expensive!) than the somewhat finicky 3D acceleration option desktop users can turn on in VMWare and VirtualBox! Are you experimenting with remote workstations and virtual machines for thin clients that can utilize GPU muscle? Does AMD’s MxGPU approach seem promising?

Source: AMD

Blender Foundation Releases Caminandes 3: Lamingos

Subject: General Tech | February 2, 2016 - 11:34 PM |
Tagged: Blender, open-source

The Blender Foundation guides development with a series of first-party short films, each of which are created with open-source software and released under a Creative Commons license. Despite their purpose, to promote open source software and highlight ways to improve Blender, they each have engaging traits that are uncommon in commercial films. Cosmos Laundromat opens with a fairly long shot of a sheep's attempt at hanging itself, while Sintel's ending will make you feel hollow when it reveals its meaning.

This short, Caminandes 3: Lamingos, above, is much lighter than Cosmos Laundromat or Sintel. It has more of the ironic, mischievous cartoon feel of Big Buck Bunny, their second Blender short film. It is about a Llama and a Penguin who are trying to eat some berries; unfortunately, they are both trying to eat the same ones.

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The two-and-a-half-minute short film can be downloaded and is free to use under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Its assets are also available, but only under a Blender Cloud subscription.

BitTorrent Talks Encryption, Improved Linux Support For Sync 2.3

Subject: General Tech | February 2, 2016 - 05:11 PM |
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.

BitTorrent Sync 2_3 Encrypted Folders.png

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?

Source: BitTorrent

The Wraith in action

Subject: Cases and Cooling | February 2, 2016 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: Wraith, fx 8370, amd

By now you should have memorized Josh's look at AMD's new processors and FM2+ motherboards, unfortunately the one thing we were missing was time to test the unit (which totally did arrive, sorry!)TechGage on the other hand did receive an FX 8370 Wraith and had a chance to do some quick tests with this new 95W cooler.  There was a slight hitch, the motherboard they used ran the fan at the full 3,000RPM so more audio tests do need to be run however the thermals show great potential as the FX 8370 never surpassed 57C.  This indicates with a properly controlled fan header you should be able to reduce the speed and noise generated without seeing troublesome CPU temperatures.

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"It’s not often that we’re treated to a CPU cooler update from AMD, so it was with great interest that we checked out its Wraith in action at last month’s CES. We’ve now been able to poke and prod the cooler over the past week in our lab, and cover everything important about it here. For good measure, we also tackle platform updates."

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

CASES & COOLING

Source: Techgage

EVGA Winter 2016 Prize Pack and Giveaway!!

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling | February 2, 2016 - 02:07 PM |
Tagged: Z170, PSU, power supply, motherboard, GTX 970, giveaway, ftw, evga, contest

For many of you reading this, the temperature outside has fallen to its deepest levels, making it hard to even bare the thought of going outdoors. What would help out a PC enthusiast and gamer in this situation? Some new hardware, delivered straight to your door, to install and assist in warming up your room, that's what!

PC Perspective has partnered up with EVGA to offer up three amazing prizes for our fans. They include a 750 G2 power supply (obviously with a 750 watt rating), a Z170 FTW motherboard and a GTX 970 SSC Gaming ACX 2.0+ graphics card. The total prize value is over $650 based on MSRPs!

All you have to do to enter is follow the easy steps in the form below. 

We want to thank EVGA for its support of PC Perspective in this contest and over the years. Here's to a great 2016 for everyone!

EVGA Winter 2016 Giveaway!!

 

Never heard of Skyrmions? One day you may have a drive full of them.

Subject: General Tech | February 2, 2016 - 01:36 PM |
Tagged: skyrmions

In the search for higher density data storage some rather arcane materials are being studied for their unique magnetic properties.  The latest research being conducted is with extremely thin multilayered films, in this specific case iridium-cobalt-platinum films.  These materials display the ability to create incredibly small magnetic features called skyrmions, an area where the magnetic field is rotated compared to the surrounding material and can be coerced to appear and disappear.  This is the essence of magnetic data storage, on a much smaller scale you see in current storage material.  There are certainly a lot of hurdles to overcome, the experiment described at Nanotechweb is the first to form skymirons at room temperature and they used an X-ray source as the write head.  It is still quite interesting to read about, even if we are a long way from seeing it considered for use in data storage.

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"Researchers in France, Switzerland, the UK and Germany say they have observed nanoscale chiral skyrmions at room temperature for the first time. Skyrmions, which are quasi-particle magnetic spin configurations with a whirling vortex-like structure, could be used to make ultrahigh-density data storage technologies and nanodigital electronic devices with greatly improved data transfer speeds and processing power."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Nanotechweb
Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

AMD Keeps Q1 Interesting

CES 2016 was not a watershed moment for AMD.  They showed off their line of current video cards and, perhaps more importantly, showed off working Polaris silicon, which will be their workhorse for 2016 in the graphics department.  They did not show off Zen, a next generation APU, or any AM4 motherboards.  The CPU and APU world was not presented in a way that was revolutionary.  What they did show off, however, hinted at the things to come to help keep AMD relevant in the desktop space.

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It was odd to see an announcement about the stock cooler that AMD was introducing, but when we learned more about it, the more important it was for AMD’s reputation moving forward.  The Wraith cooler is a new unit to help control the noise and temperatures of the latest AMD CPUs and select APUs.  This is a fairly beefy unit with a large, slow moving fan that produces very little noise.  This is a big change from the variable speed fans on previous coolers that could get rather noisy and leave temperatures that were higher in range than are comfortable.  There has been some derision aimed at AMD for providing “just a cooler” for their top end products, but it is a push that is making them more user and enthusiast friendly without breaking the bank.

Socket AM3+ is not dead yet.  Though we have been commenting on the health of the platform for some time, AMD and its partners work to improve and iterate upon these products to include technologies such as USB 3.1 and M.2 support.  While these chipsets are limited to PCI-E 2.0 speeds, the four lanes available to most M.2 controllers allows these boards to provide enough bandwidth to fully utilize the latest NVMe based M.2 drives available.  We likely will not see a faster refresh on AM3+, but we will see new SKUs utilizing the Wraith cooler as well as a price break for the processors that exist in this socket.

Click here to continue reading about AMD's latest offerings for Q1 2016!

If you thought the DDR4-3000 kit was excessive, meet Corsair's Vengeance LPX DDR4-4000

Subject: Memory | February 1, 2016 - 05:38 PM |
Tagged: ddr4-4000, corsair, Corsair Vengeance LPX

That is no typo, the 8GB Corsair Vengeance LPX kit which Hardware Canucks just reviewed is indeed 4000MHz effective at timings of 19-23-23-45.  The small size of the dual channel kit helps keep the MSRP to $225, affordable for what it is and not removing the purchase of a second kit from the realms of possibility.  However the question of performance remains, does a DDR4-4000 kit provide noticeable performance improvements or is it simply good for bragging rights for those few with a motherboard that can support it?  The results vary, especially when looking at memory timings and CPU overclocks compatible with the memory frequency however it was also clear that this memory could probably go faster ... if you had components that were capable of reaching those frequencies.

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"The Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-4000 is one of the fastest, highest performance memory kits around but with a capacity of just 8GB, will it be enough for today's applications? "

Here are some more Memory articles from around the web:

Memory

Your Cat6 cabling not behaving as you would expect? Turns out that is not a Fluke

Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2016 - 04:49 PM |
Tagged: fluke, fail, cat6

The difference between Cat5(e) and Cat 6 will not be obvious for home users but is certainly noticeable in large business deployments.  Cat5 and 5e are capable of providing 100MHz whereas Cat6 is rated to 250MHz, assuming it is installed to specifications.  In addition to the increased frequency, Cat6 is has much greater protection against crosstalk and system noise which is far more important to many sysadmins. 

Previously we benefited from the honour system in place, many Cat 5 cables actually met the Cat 5e specification but it seems that this is not the case with Cat 6.  Hack a Day has heard word through a cable provider that Fluke noticed that 80% of the Cat 6 tested with their equipment does not meet specification, in many cases it does not even meet Cat 5e specs.  Since a Fluke line tester capable of analyzing network cabling to this degree of accuracy costs north of $10,000 not all companies are going to have their networks fully tested for compliance.  This may be why you are seeing odd behaviour on your network.

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"So they did some research and purchased a Fluke certification tester for a measly 12,000 US dollars. While they were purchasing the device, they ran across an interesting tidbit in the fluke knowledge base. Fluke said that 80% of the consumer Cat 6 cables they tested didn’t begin to meet the Cat 6 specification."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Hack a Day
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Gigabyte

Introduction

NVMe was a great thing to happen to SSDs. The per-IO reduction in latency and CPU overhead was more than welcome, as PCIe SSDs were previously using the antiquated AHCI protocol, which was a carryover from the SATA HDD days. With NVMe came additional required support in Operating Systems and UEFI BIOS implementations. We did some crazy experiments with arrays of these new devices, but we were initially limited by the lack of native hardware-level RAID support to tie multiple PCIe devices together. The launch of the Z170 chipset saw a remedy to this, by including the ability to tie as many as three PCIe SSDs behind a chipset-configured array. The recent C600 server chipset also saw the addition of RSTe capability, expanding this functionality to enterprise devices like the Intel SSD P3608, which was actually a pair of SSDs on a single PCB.

Most Z170 motherboards have come with one or two M.2 slots, meaning that enthusiasts wanting to employ the 3x PCIe RAID made possible by this new chipset would have to get creative with the use of interposer / adapter boards (or use a combination of PCI and U.2 connected Intel SSD 750s). With the Samsung 950 Pro available, as well as the slew of other M.2 SSDs we saw at CES 2016, it’s safe to say that U.2 is going to push back into the enterprise sector, leaving M.2 as the choice for consumer motherboards moving forward. It was therefore only a matter of time before a triple-M.2 motherboard was launched, and that just recently happened - Behold the Gigabyte Z170X-SOC Force!

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This new motherboard sits at the high end of Gigabyte’s lineup, with a water-capable VRM cooler and other premium features. We will be passing this board onto Morry for a full review, but this piece will be focusing on one section in particular:

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I have to hand it to Gigabyte for this functional and elegant design choice. The space between the required four full length PCIe slots makes it look like it was chosen to fit M.2 SSDs in-between them. I should also note that it would be possible to use three U.2 adapters linked to three U.2 Intel SSD 750s, but native M.2 devices makes for a significantly more compact and consumer friendly package.

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With the test system set up, let’s get right into it, shall we?

Read on for our look at triple M.2 in action!

G.Skill Rolls Out Refreshed Mechanical Gaming Keyboards

Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2016 - 12:48 AM |
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.

GSkill KM780R-MX front.png

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.

GSkill KM780R-RGB.png

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

Source: G.Skill

Corsair Launches Faster Vengeance LPX DDR4 Memory Kits

Subject: Memory | January 31, 2016 - 10:00 PM |
Tagged: Vengeance LPX, ddr4, corsair

Earlier this month Corsair released new DDR4 memory kits under its Vengeance LPX brand. The kits come in 32 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB capacities and come bundled with a 40mm "Vengeance Airflow" RAM cooler.

Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 128GB.jpg

At the top end, the 128 GB kit comes with eight 16 GB modules clocked at 3,000 MHz and with CAS latencies of 16-18-18-36. At stock speeds it is running at 1.35 volts. Stepping down to the lower capacities gets you faster DIMMs. Corsair has the 64 GB (4 x 16 GB) kit clocked at 3,333 MHz and runs at the same voltage and CAS latencies. The 64 GB kit does come with either black or red heat spreaders as well. Lastly, the 4 x 8 GB (32 GB) Vengeance LPX kit runs off of the same 1.35 volts but is clocked at 3,600 MHz (16-19-19-39 rated latencies). It also comes in black and red SKUs.

The memory kits are available now and are currently priced a bit below their MSRPs at Newegg. The 32 GB kit is $340 and the 64 GB kit is $526. Finally, the 3,000 MHz 128 GB kit will set you back $982. These prices seem more competitive than the last time I looked at DDR4, and there certainly does seem tot be some room for overclocking (especially on that 128 GB kit) so long as the motherboard can handle it!

Source: Corsair

Java Browser Plug-in Soon Killed Off by Oracle

Subject: General Tech | January 30, 2016 - 07:05 PM |
Tagged: web browser, web, shockwave flash, shockwave director, oracle, Java

After decades of semi-ubiquitous usage, Oracle has announced plans to stop providing the Java plug-in for web browsers. It will still be available in the upcoming Java 9 platform, but classified as a deprecated feature.

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This has nothing to do with JavaScript, which is a scripting language that web browsers use. JavaScript is not a plug-in, and it's very secure in terms of the machine the browsers run on. Pretty much all exploits that we see either trick the user to download and run a program, have them disclose sensitive information (passwords, identity, etc.) to the wrong people, try to make the browser impossible to use until it is shut down and restarted, or launch a plug-in that is the actual problem. The joke is “Java is to JavaScript as Car is to Carpet” -- but that's not true: cars often have carpets.

Java, Shockwave Director, and Shockwave Flash filled in a huge gap in Web standards during the late 90s and early 2000s. Plug-ins were about the only way to access files, per-pixel 2D animation functions, and even access to 3D graphics hardware. Web browsers can do almost all of that now, albeit file input and output is limited to individual files, because you don't want every website to be able to read and write files (and site-specific data lockers with APIs like IndexedDB and Web Storage) on the user's hard drive without the user's explicit control.

As such, browsers are trying to kill off native plug-ins. This could be a problem for games like Battlefield 3 and 4, which (Update Jan 30th @ 7:51pm: Used to... it's apparently been a while. Thanks wileecyte in the comments.) require plug-ins to launch the native application, but the browser vendors have been expressing their desires for quite some time. Even companies that are heavily invested in plug-ins for their products, like Oracle, are finally giving up.

Source: Ars Technica

So That's Where Jim Keller Went To... Tesla Motors...

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | January 29, 2016 - 05:28 PM |
Tagged: tesla, tesla motors, amd, Jim Keller, apple

Jim Keller, a huge name in the semiconductor industry for his work at AMD and Apple, recently left AMD before the launch of the Zen architecture. This made us nervous, because when a big name leaves a company before a product launch, it could either be that their work is complete... or they're evacuating before a stink-bomb detonates and the whole room smells like rotten eggs.

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It turns out a third option is possible: Elon Musk offers you a job making autonomous vehicles. Jim Keller's job title at Tesla will be Vice President of Autopilot Hardware Engineering. I could see this position being enticing, to say the least, even if you are confident in your previous employer's upcoming product stack. It doesn't mean that AMD's Zen architecture will be either good or bad, but it nullifies the earlier predictions, when Jim Keller left AMD, at least until further notice.

We don't know who approached who, or when.

Another point of note: Tesla Motors currently uses NVIDIA Tegra SoCs in their cars, who are (obviously) competitors of Jim Keller's former employer, AMD. It sounds like Jim Keller is moving into a somewhat different role than he had at AMD and Apple, but it could be interesting if Tesla starts taking chip design in-house, to customize the chip to their specific needs, and take away responsibilities from NVIDIA.

The first time he was at AMD, he was the lead architecture of the Athlon 64 processor, and he co-authored x86-64. When he worked at Apple, he helped design the Apple A4 and A5 processors, which were the first two that Apple created in-house; the first three iPhone processors were Samsung SoCs.

PNY updates its XLR8 lineup with the CS2211 SSD

Subject: Storage | January 29, 2016 - 04:49 PM |
Tagged: pny, CS2211, CS1311, tlc, mlc, phison, xlr8

Over at the SSD Review you can check out PNY's newest SSDs, the TLC based CS1311 and the faster MLC based CS2211 which offers ECC RAM and extra data security features as well as a copy of Acronis.  Inside the CS2211 which is the drive featured in this review, you will find an 8-channel Phison PS3110-S10-X controller and 15nm Toshiba MLC, the cache is DDR3L-800, 256MB on the 240GB model and 512MB on the 480GB.  This replaces PNY's original Silicon Motion powered XLR8 and it improves upon performance as well as offering a 4 year warranty. Check out all the benchmarks right here.

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"Just last week we announced PNY's latest SSD products for the new year, the CS1311 and CS2211. It just so happens that today we have some in our hands for review."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Sharing is good ... until it starts eating your bandwidth

Subject: General Tech | January 29, 2016 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: security, isp, wifi

ISPs have stumbled onto a new money making venture, renting out your wireless internet connection to third parties so that those companies can provide public WiFi to their customers.  Sources told The Inquirer that some ISPs already do this without informing their customers and that it will likely be a common industry practice by 2017.  Theoretically you are allowed to opt out but since your ISP may not have told their users they are doing this; how would the average customer know to request this be turned off?

This raises several concerns, especially here in North America thanks to our pathetic internet services.  Most users have a data cap and the ISPs have little reason to spend resources to properly monitor who is using the bandwidth, their customers or random passersby.  As well the speeds of most customers are low enough that they may see degradation of their service if numerous passersby connect to their WiFi.  Putting the monetary concerns to the side there are also serious security concerns.  Once a user has access to your WiFi router they are most of the way into your network and services such as UPnP and unprotected ports leave you vulnerable to attack.

Change the password your provider put on the router and consider reaching out to them to find out if you have been unwillingly sharing your bandwidth already, or if you might be doing so in the near future.

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"Companies are going to be selling a lot more public Wi-Fi plans over the next few years and it's going to be home Wi-Fi users who'll be the backbone of the network, according to analysts from Juniper Research."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Gigabyte adds full GIMPS and Prime95 compatibility to Skylake processors

Subject: Motherboards | January 28, 2016 - 05:55 PM |
Tagged: update, Skylake, gigabyte, bug

Gigabyte has released UEFI updates today which will resolve the freezing issues on Skylake seen in certain circumstances of Prime95 and GIMPS processing.  Just head over to their download site and enter in your motherboards model and download the new UEFI, or BIOS if you prefer the old terminology.

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As a bonus you may receive the ability to use higher clocked RAM, see any stability issues fixed or better performance from integrated components such as LAN or SATA.  Their update process is easy with none of the stress that once accompanied updates via floppy disjs or masks and UV light.  We can neither confirm nor deny these updates will also resolve unwanted ear hair growth.

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Source: Gigabyte