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Podcast #329 - Samsung 850 EVO, AMD Catalyst Omega, NZXT H440 Razer and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2014 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: z97, video, Samsung, podcast, plex, nzxt, Maximus VII Impact, h440 razer, h440, FM2+, crossblade ranger, catalyst omega, asus, amd, 850 EVO

PC Perspective Podcast #329 - 12/11/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the Samsung 850 EVO, AMD Catalyst Omega, NZXT H440 Razer 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, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

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

 

 

Samsung's 32-layer VNAND dissected by TechInsignts, analyzed by 3DInCities

Subject: General Tech, Storage | December 11, 2014 - 03:30 PM |
Tagged: vnand, TEM, SEM, Schiltron, Samsung, cross section, 3D VNAND

Since Samsung announced VNAND, we have been following its developments with great interest. You might have seen some of Andrew Walker's cool mock ups of what this new VNAND might look like:

AndyFig1.png

Once a technology is released to the public, the only thing stopping you from knowing how it works is the ability to look inside. With detailed imagery of 32-layer VNAND recently released by TechInsights, not only was Andy able to conduct a very thorough analysis at his blog, we are able to get some incredibly detailed looks at just what makes this new flash memory tick:

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Flash packaging, showing interconnect traces (which connect the outside of the package to the flash dies contained within).

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1x: The 3D VNAND die itself. We'll use this as a point of reference of the magnification levels moving forward.

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350x: This is the edge of the die, showing how the word (data) lines are connected to the individual layers.

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1,500x: There it is, all 32 layers in all of their vertical glory. The only thing more amazing about the technology at play to create such a complex 3D structure at such a small scale, is the technology used to slice it in half (some of the material is tungsten) and take such a detailed 'picture' of that cross section.

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30,000x: Finally, we have a top down slice of the channels themselves. This lets us get a good idea of the rough process node at play here. While the columns are 80nm in diameter, there are other features that are smaller, so the process itself still seemes to be in the ~40nm range.

Our focus is of course on the performance more than the extremeny low level bits, but it is definitely cool to see imagery of this new tech. For those curious, we encourage you to check out the detailed analysis done over at 3DInCities.

Time to upgrade your alarm clock?

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2014 - 02:56 PM |
Tagged: audio, bluetooth, clock

The Edifier Tick Tock Bluetooth alarm clock will remind the older readers of the windup alarm clocks of long ago but this one has a few new capabilities.  Apart from the digital display and 5 programmable alarms it is an FM radio with a pair of omnidirectional 4W speakers with a frequency response of 90Hz-20kHz.  That gives it much better sound quality than your average clock radio although the bass is poor, understandable considering the size of the drivers.  In addition to the FM you can input audio via an auxiliary input or pair it with a Bluetooth device so you can also fall asleep listening to the Tick Tock.  It is currently in stock on Amazon for $50 and might make a good gift.  Check the review at Madshrimps if you know someone who needs help with their sleeping patterns.

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"Do not be deceived by the mousy look of the retro Edifier Tick Tock Bluetooth retro alarm clock; thanks to the dual drivers, it is able to produce decent quality sound without distortions and at pretty high volumes. The bass is a little on the low side which is perfectly understandable but considering the overall size of the device, we cannot consider this as a negative point."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: MadShrimps

GLOBALFOUNDRIES is eyeing TSMC's Apple

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2014 - 12:50 PM |
Tagged: GLOBALFOUNDRIES

As best we know TSMC is the sole fabricator of Apple's A8 chips on 20nm process, but so far from what DigiTimes has been able to determine that is not the case for the upcoming A9 chips.  TSMC plans to keep pricing the same as they move to 14nm process tech but both Samsung and GLOBALFOUNDRIES are in a position where they could decide to drop their pricing in order to win business.  Qualcomm has already placed orders for its 14nm chips with TSMC and Samsung but it is possible that with the experience GLOBALFOUNDRIES has with the 14nm process thanks to business from AMD they may also be able to undercut TSMC's pricing, assuming their yields can stay up.

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"Globalfoundries is striving to be among the major contract chipmakers of Qualcomm and Apple, vying for 14nm chip orders from the two vendors, according to industry sources."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes
Author:
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: Asus

A Step Up for FM2+

I have been impressed by the Asus ROG boards for quite a few years now.  I believe my first encounter was with the Crosshair IV Formula, followed by the CH IV Extreme with that crazy Lucidlogix controller.  These were really outstanding boards at the time, even if one was completely overkill (and not terribly useful for multi-GPU via Lucidlogix).  Build quality, component selections, stability, and top notch features have defined these ROG products.  The Intel side is just as good, if not better, in that they have a wider selection of boards under the ROG flag.

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Asus has had a fairly large hole in their offerings that had not been addressed until fairly recently.  The latest AMD APUs based on FM1, FM2, and FM2+ did not have their own ROG member.  This was fixed in late summer of this year.  Asus released the interestingly named Crossblade Ranger FM2+ motherboard for the AMD APU market.

FM2+ motherboards are, as a rule, fairly inexpensive products.  The FM2+ infrastructure does not have to support processors with the 219 watt TDPs that AM3+ does, instead all of the FM2+ based products are 100 watts TDP and below.  There are many examples of barebones motherboards for FM2+ that are $80 and less.  We have a smattering of higher end motherboards from guys like Gigabyte and MSI, but these are hitting max prices of $110 to $120 US.  Asus is offering users in the FM2+ market something a little different from the rest.  Users who purchase an AMD APU will be getting much the same overall experience that the top end Intel based ROG customers if they decide to buy the Crossblade Ranger, but for a much lower price.

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The bundle is functional, but not overly impressive.

Click here to read the entire Asus Crossblade Ranger Review!

 

ECS Has A New Mini-PC on the Way, the LIVA X

Subject: Systems | December 10, 2014 - 03:03 PM |
Tagged: SoC, mini-pc, LIVA, Intel, ECS, Bay Trail

A new, more powerful ECS mini-PC has been reported by The Tech Report, and this latest iteration of the LIVA will be known as the "X".

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The LIVA X features a faster 2.25GHz dual-core CPU from its Bay Trail SoC, and maximum configurable memory has been doubled to 4GB. OS support has been revised as well, with Windows 7 supported - but only when using an mSATA SSD. The LIVA X still offers full Windows 8.1 support, along with beta Linux driver support as before.

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The LIVA X also offers one more USB 2.0 port than its predecessor, along with the same 32GB or 64GB eMMC storage onboard, Gigabit Ethernet, and included 802.11 wireless N card.

The LIVA proved to be a good value when we reviewed it, though it was underpowered for some desktop tasks. Adding another 2GB of memory as well as a slightly faster CPU will make this new version a very interesting product, depending on price. The new LIVA X hasn't shown up for sale just yet in the usual places, but the product page is up on the ECS site.

It's the End of the Line for TF2 fans

Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2014 - 02:41 PM |
Tagged: tf2, gaming, Source Filmmaker

If you have 15 minutes to spare then feast your eyeholes on this community made video introducing Team Fortress 2's End of the Line update.  As we have seen from previous contests using Valve's Source Filmmaker these movies are well worth watching, so check it out now or save it for later.  This movie also heralds the release of new hats, taunts and quite possibly a pyrotechnic rubber ducky.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN talked with the video's director, James McVinnie, about the development of this enjoyable little film which you can watch right here.

"I’ve been looking forward to Team Fortress 2’s End of the Line update for over a year, not because I’m in love with novelty virtual clothing but because it’s built around a community-made, fifteen-minute short film. It’s out now, you can watch it below, and if you do care for novelty clothes, a portion of the profits go to the creators who toiled away making the movie."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

The Intel-net of Things

Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2014 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: Intel, iot, cloudera, wind river

In October we saw the outlines of ARM's mBed OS which will be their Internet of Things offering and today Intel has revealed their own IoT Platform.  The Register had a chance to sit in on the presentation this morning as they described the infrastructure and the partners that are onboard with Intel's solution.  Intel did repeat their belief that their x86 Quark CPUs and other CPUs are every bit as power efficient as ARM while, carefully avoiding stating that they use the same amount of power.  Of far more interest are the security features inherent in Intel's new infrastructure, they will be leveraging both the McAfee technology they now own to embed security features directly into the silicon and the technology that came with their purchase of Wind River to secure the communication channels between the actual devices, aka Edge Devices, and their server infrastructure.  Expect to see more indepth information to be released in the near future but for now you can follow the links in The Register's story to catch up on what has been posted so far.

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"Announced in the past few minutes at a morning presentation in San Francisco, the platform will describe how to hook up gizmos on the edge – the sensors, the wearables, the street lights, the air-con units, and so on – to the backend systems (cough, cough, Cloudera) processing collected information."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: The Register

Free hat! The Clouds are opening up, time to put on Fedora 21

Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2014 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: linux, Fedora, Fedora 21, cloud

Fedora 21 has been released in three different flavours, each intended for a different usage scenario.  The Server version is designed for exactly what it sounds like while the new Cloud version has a modular kernel which is more friendly for being run on remote hardware and is likely to show up in Microsoft Azure's choice of image in their IaaS interface.  The Workstation version is the one that was examined at Linux.com and is likely to be the most common version installed by users.  Fedora has always been a choice for the brave as they tend to be on the cutting edge and while that does mean that they offer features unavailable on other flavours of Linux there can be the occasional bug or other obstacles.  Linux.com found only two so far, Nautilus aka Files stopped working and needed to be either reinstalled or preferably replaced with a better file manager.  The other was an unclear GUI during the updated installation process which is easily avoided once you have seen the screen more than once.  The positives far outnumber the negatives, this looks to be a great improvement on a solid OS and one which should retain its popularity with the software development crowd.  Read the article for the full list of included software and improvements.

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"Fedora is among the most respected Linux-based distributions. Known as a bleeding edge operating system it offers the latest technologies at the earliest stages. It’s also known for working with upstream projects instead of patching things downstream."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Linux.com
Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Plex

Plex Overview

If you’re a fan of digital video and music, you’ve likely heard the name “Plex” floating around. Plex (not to be confused with EVE Online’s in-game subscription commodity) is free media center software that lets users manage and stream a wide array of videos, audio files, and pictures to virtually any computer and a growing number of mobile devices and electronics. As a Plex user from the very beginning, I’ve seen the software change and evolve over the years into the versatile and powerful service it is today.

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My goal with this article twofold. First, as an avid Plex user, I’d like to introduce the software to users have yet to hear about or try it. Second, for those already using or experimenting with Plex, I hope that I can provide some “best practices” when it comes to configuring your servers, managing your media, or just using the software in general.

Before we dive into the technical aspects of Plex, let’s look at a brief overview of the software’s history and the main components that comprise the Plex ecosystem today.

History

Although now widely supported on a range of platforms, Plex was born in early 2008 as an OS X fork of the Xbox Media Center project (XBMC). Lovingly named “OSXBMC” (get it?) by its creators, the software was initially a simple media player for Mac, with roughly the same capabilities as the XBMC project from which it was derived. (Note: XBMC changed its name to “Kodi” in August, although you’ll still find plenty of people referring to the software by its original name).

A few months into the project, the OSXBMC team decided to change the name to “Plex” and things really started to take off for the nascent media software. Unlike the XBMC/Kodi community, which focused its efforts primarily on the playback client, the Plex team decided to bifurcate the project with two distinct components: a dedicated media server and a dedicated playback client.

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The dedicated media server made Plex unique among its media center peers. Once properly set up, it gave users with very little technical knowledge the ability to maintain a server that was capable of delivering their movies, TV shows, music, and pictures on demand throughout the house and, later, the world. We'll take a more detailed look at each of the Plex components next.

Plex Media Server

The “brains” behind the entire Plex ecosystem is Plex Media Server (PMS). This software, available for Windows, Linux, and OS X, manages your media database, metadata, and any necessary transcoding, which is one of its best features. Although far from error-free, the PMS encoding engine can convert virtually any video codec and container on the fly to a format requested by a client device. Want to play a high-bitrate 1080p MKV file with a 7.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack on your Roku? No problem; Plex will seamlessly transcode that high quality source file to the proper format for Roku, as well as your iPad, or your Galaxy S5, and many other devices, all without having to store multiple copies of your video files.

Continue reading our story on setting up the ultimate Plex media server!!

Street Fighter V Revealed: PC-PS4 Cross-Platform Multiplayer

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2014 - 10:47 PM |
Tagged: street fighter v, street fighter, pc gaming, gaming

Well this is something that people have been demanding for quite some time. Not only will Capcom's Street Fighter V be available on the PC and PS4, but multiplayer can be a mix-and-match between the two platforms. You will not need to coordinate a platform of choice ahead of time. Players on both of these platforms will be able to connect to one another.

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While Capcom has not released any further details, previous Street Fighter releases for the PC have supported local multiplayer when extra controllers are connected. The omission of Xbox One is definitely strange as well, given the exclusive agreement between Microsoft and Capcom for Dead Rising 3. Of course, different game, different contract, but it suggests a larger reason to avoid Xbox One. Two possible, not mutually exclusive reasons are: 1 - Sony paid them and/or 2 - Microsoft was too restrictive about cross platform play. In the past, Microsoft would only allow PC-Xbox cross-platform play if the PC title was branded as Games for Windows Live, which I do not think any game took advantage of (Update: Apparently I was wrong and Shadowrun actually launched cross-platform multiplayer before it was sunset). It also no longer exists.

Street Fighter V will be out... sometime... for PC and PS4.

Source: PC Gamer

Windows 10 Update Installer May Break with Office Installed

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2014 - 09:40 PM |
Tagged: windows, windows 10, patch, patch tuesday

These are the sorts of things that will happen in prerelease software. Gabriel Aul, leader of the Data and Fundamentals Team at Microsoft and blogger for the Windows Insider Program, announced on Twitter that today's Windows Update for Internet Explorer may not install if Office is also install. The workaround is, if the update fails, to uninstall Office, apply the update, and then reinstall Office. Unfortunately, I am not able to give my personal experience because I use LibreOffice (I did not want to purchase a commercial license of Office).

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I was not expecting to use this fail-bandaid image again, so soon.

If it wasn't an important security update, another option would be to wait for the next build. I know that, when I first installed Windows 10, I had a similar problem with a Defender update that continually failed. The install failure was fixed when I upgraded to Build 9860. The next version of Windows 10 is probably not too far away... … but this is a security update.

Hopefully this is one less thing to break when it hits full release next year.

Origin's Newest "On the House" Promotion Is SimCity 2000

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2014 - 04:46 PM |
Tagged: ea, origin, on the house, SimCity, simcity 2000

Origin, EA's digital distribution platform, occasionally runs a promotion that is called “On the House”. The best way to think of it is an abrupt, 100%-off sale. If you “purchase” the free game before they put a price tag back on it, then it is yours to keep. Today, the promotion has been applied to SimCity 2000. Log in to the Origin Store and add it to your catalog.

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EA is using money hacks...?

On a related topic, can you believe that SimCity 2000 is just a few months away from its 20th birthday? Some believe that it is the best of the series, although I have never played it. This is one of the many titles that I overlooked, jumping from the original SimCity (Super Nintendo, rented a few times) up to SimCity 3000: Unlimited, which I played until SimCity (2013) launched. Ironically, I received a free copy of SimCity 4 because of the launch issues, so I now have everything from SimCity 2000, onward.

SimCity 2000 is currently free, but will go back up to its regular price at any time.

Source: Origin

AMD Omega is no longer in Alpha

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 9, 2014 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: amd, catalyst, driver, omega

With AMD's new leader and restructuring comes a new type of driver update.  The Omega driver is intended to provide a large number of new features as well as performance updates once a year.  It does not replace the current cycle of Beta and WHQL driver updates and the next driver update will incorporate all of the changes from the Omega driver plus the new bug fixes or updates that the driver was released to address.

Many sites including The Tech Report have had at least a small amount of time to test the new driver and have not seen much in the way of installation issues, or unfortunately performance improvements on systems not using an AMD APU.  As more time for testing elapses and more reviews come out we may see improvements on low end systems but for now the higher end machines show little to no improvement on raw FPS rates.  Keep your eyes peeled for an update once we have had time to test the change on frame pacing results, which are far more important than just increasing your FPS. 

The main reason to be excited about this release, it is the long list of new features, from a DSR-like feature called Virtual Super Resolution which allows you to increase the resolution of your monitor although for now 4K super resolution is limited to the R285 as it is the only AMD Tonga card on the market at the moment.  Along with the release of the Omega driver comes news about Freesync displays, another feature enabled in the new driver and their availability; we have a release date of January or February with a 4K model arriving in March.

Check out the links to The Tech Report and below to read the full list of new features that this driver brings and don't forget to click on Ryan's article as well.

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"AMD has introduced what may be its biggest graphics driver release ever, with more than 20 new features, 400 bug fixes, and some miscellaneous performance improvements."

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

Graphics Cards

Seagate is still HAMRing away at improved HDD storage density

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2014 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: HAMR, Seagate, hdd, TDMR

Seagate has been talking about HAMR for many years now but is finally getting close to being able to provide a working product.  Currently they use perpendicular magnetic recording which should reach an areal density of 850/900Gbit/in2 in the coming year with a shingled version hitting 1Tbit/in2.  Shingled platters store data in slightly smaller and overlapping tracks reminiscent of a shingled roof.  In 2016 Seagate predicts the arrival of TDMR which will start at the same density as shingled PMR with an increase to 1.3Tbit/in2 when set up in a shingled format.  2017 is the tentative date for the arrival of the brand new technology and as of now Seagate is predicting an aureal density somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2Tbit/in2.  The performance will never match that of flash based drives but the cost per gigabyte will be far more attractive for those who have more of a need to store large amounts of data than to have high speed access.  Check out more at The Register.

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"We have better visibility into Seagate’s view of the ending of the current perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) era. The ending is delayed by narrowing the tracks so as to cram more of them on a platter. This is called two-dimensional magnetic recording (TDMR) and should arrive in 2016."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register
Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

New Features

There are smart people that work at AMD. A quick look at the company's products, including the APU lineup as well as the discrete GPU fields, clearly indicates a lineup of talent in engineering, design, marketing and business. It's not perfect of course, and very few companies can claim to be, but the strengths of AMD are there and easily discernible to those of us on the outside looking in with the correct vision.

Because AMD has smart people working hard to improve the company, they are also aware of its shortcomings. For many years now, the thorn of GPU software has been sticking in AMD's side, tarnishing the name of Radeon and the products it releases. Even though the Catalyst graphics driver has improved substantially year after year, the truth is that NVIDIA's driver team has been keeping ahead of AMD consistently in basically all regards: features, driver installation, driver stability, performance improvements over time.

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If knowing is half the battle, acting on that knowledge is at least another 49%. AMD is hoping to address driver concerns now and into the future with the release of the Catalyst Omega driver. This driver sets itself apart from previous releases in several different ways, starting with a host of new features, some incremental performance improvements and a drastically amped up testing and validation process.

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AMD considers this a "special edition" driver and is something that they plan to repeat on a yearly basis. That note in itself is an interesting point - is that often enough to really change the experience and perception of the Catalyst driver program going forward? Though AMD does include some specific numbers of tested cases for its validation of the Omega driver (441,000+ automated test runs, 11,000+ manual test runs) we don't have side by side data from NVIDIA to compare it to. If AMD is only doing a roundup of testing like this once a year, but NVIDIA does it more often, then AMD might soon find itself back in the same position it has been.

UPDATE: There has been some confusion based on this story that I want to correct. AMD informed us that it is still planning on releasing other drivers throughout the year that will address performance updates for specific games and bug fixes for applications and titles released between today and the pending update for the next "special edition." AMD is NOT saying that they will only have a driver drop once a year.

But before we worry about what's going to happen in the future, let's look into what AMD has changed and added to the new Catalyst Omega driver released today.

Continue reading our overview of the new AMD Catalyst Omega driver!!

A sighting of the rare joystick, the Speedlink Phantom Hawk

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2014 - 04:45 PM |
Tagged: Speedlink, Phantom Hawk, input, joystick

The common joystick has fallen out of fashion over the past few years but with the resurgence of space sims some gamers might be out looking to purchase one.  The mainstays are quite expensive but also high quality and perfect for sim games which are very unforgiving to sloppy stick handling.  Speedlink is offering the Phantom Hawk which is available for under $100 and certainly has an interesting look.  The joystick has some weight to it and there are suction cups underneath the body to keep it in place during hectic dogfights and there are enough buttons and both an 8-way hat and 4-way d-pad so you should be able to map most of your needed commands to the joystick.  If you play games which require exacting accuracy then eTeknix found that the dead zone and stiffness interfered with their accuracy but did enjoy playing Microsoft's Flight Sim with it.  Check out the full review to see what you think.

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"It doesn’t take long to realise that if you want to get to grips with a realistic flight stick, you need to spend a fair amount of money. This is why I’ve chosen to put a budget friendly model through its paces, the Speedlink Phantom Hawk. It’s relatively cheap, with prices around £25 from most retailers, so I’m not expecting industry leading performance here. I am however eager to find out just how good it really is, despite its low price tag."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: eTeknix

A little 3D TLC from Samsung, the new 850 EVO

Subject: Storage | December 8, 2014 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: 3d nand, tlc, 256 bit aes, 850 EVO, raid, RAPID, Samsung, sata, ssd

Not only does Samsung's new 850 EVO family introduce us to three dimensional triple level cell NAND, it also incorporates an SLC cache to boost write speeds.  The Tech Report received the 250GB and 1TB models to test, with a spotlight on how they fared against the 840 Pro and 840 Evo.  Their testing shows that the new way of creating NAND has helped mitigate the reduction in speed which accompanied the first generation of TLC drives.  There is no question that the SLC write cache also helps as long as it has space available but this new technology does come with a price, expect $500 for the 1TB and $150 for for the 250GB model.  The 5 year warranty is a nice touch for those who have reliability concerns.

Make sure to ready through Al's review as well, along with single drive benchmarks you can see how these drives perform in RAID.

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"Samsung's long-awaited 850 EVO SSD employs three-dimensional NAND with three bits per cell. It augments that TLC storage with an SLC write cache, and it has a higher endurance rating and longer warranty than most MLC drives. We've taken a closer look to see how it holds up against the competition."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Intel is investing in mobile chips

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2014 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: Intel, smartphones, iot, billions

Intel has pulled out some spare change to upgrade its plant in Chengdu, in what analysts are predicting will be focused on Intel's ultra-mobile chips.  It certainly comes at an interesting time for the market, Google and Microsoft have both had recent unpleasantness with the Chinese government while Qualcomm, a direct mobile market competitor, is about to fork over what could be a record breaking settlement to Chinese anti-trust investigators.  This could make talent from Qualcomm available for Intel to hire as well as giving them even more of a financial advantage.  It marks a change in the recent trend of Intel to invest heavily in their US assets and reinforces their desire to make headway in the current ultramobile market and the burgeoning Internet of Things.  Check out the links at The Register for a bit more background on the state of this market.

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"Chipzilla has decided to take another run at the mobile chip market, announcing plans to spin as much as US$1.6 billion in the direction of its Chengdu plant in China to achieve its aims."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Mid last year, Samsung introduced the 840 EVO. This was their evolutionary step from the 840 Pro, which had launched a year prior. While the Pro was a performance MLC SSD, the EVO was TLC, and for most typical proved just as speedy. The reason for this was Samsung’s inclusion of a small SLC cache on each TLC die. Dubbed TurboWrite, this write-back cache gave the EVO the best write performance of any TLC-based SSD on the market. Samsung had also introduced a DRAM cache based RAPID mode - included with their Magician value added software solution. The EVO was among the top selling SSDs since its launch, despite a small hiccup quickly corrected by Samsung.

Fast forward to June of this year where we saw the 850 Pro. Having tested the waters with 24-layer 3D VNAND, Samsung revises this design, increasing the layer count to 32 and reducing the die capacity from 128Gbit to 86Gbit. The smaller die capacity enables a 50% performance gain, stacked on top of the 100% write speed gain accomplished by the reduced cross talk of the 3D VNAND architecture. These changes did great things for the performance of the 850 Pro, especially in the lower capacities. While competing 120/128GB SSDs were typically limited to 150 MB/sec write speeds, the 128GB 850 Pro cruises along at over 3x that speed, nearly saturating the SATA interface. The performance might have been great, but so was the cost - 850 Pro’s have stuck around $0.70/GB since their launch, forcing budget conscious upgraders to seek competing solutions. What we needed was an 850 EVO, and now I can happily say here it is:

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As the 840 EVO was a pretty big deal, I believe the 850 EVO has an equal chance of success, so instead of going for a capacity roundup, this first piece will cover the 120GB and 500GB capacities. A surprising number of our readers run a pair of smaller capacity 840 EVOs in a RAID, so we will be testing a matched pair of 850 EVOs in RAID-0. To demonstrate the transparent performance boosting of RAPID, I’ll also run both capacities through our full test suite with RAPID mode enabled. There is lots of testing to get through, so let’s get cracking!

Read on for the full review!