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Intel to Ship FPGA-Accelerated Xeons in Early 2016

Subject: Processors | November 20, 2015 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: xeon, Intel, FPGA

UPDATE (Nov 26th, 3:30pm ET): A few readers have mentioned that FPGAs take much less than hours to reprogram. I even received an email last night that claims FPGAs can be reprogrammed in "well under a second." This differs from the sources I've read when I was reading up on their OpenCL capabilities (for potential evolutions of projects) back in ~2013. That said, multiple sources, including one who claim to have personal experience with FPGAs, say that it's not the case. Also, I've never used an FPGA myself -- again, I was just researching them to see where some GPU-based projects could go.

Designing integrated circuits, as I've said a few times, is basically a game. You have a blank canvas that you can etch complexity into. The amount of “complexity” depends on your fabrication process, how big your chip is, the intended power, and so forth. Performance depends on how you use the complexity to compute actual tasks. If you know something special about your workload, you can optimize your circuit to do more with less. CPUs are designed to do basically anything, while GPUs assume similar tasks can be run together. If you will only ever run a single program, you can even bake some or all of its source code into hardware called an “application-specific integrated circuit” (ASIC), which is often used for video decoding, rasterizing geometry, and so forth.


This is an old Atom back when Intel was partnered with Altera for custom chips.

FPGAs are circuits that can be baked into a specific application, but can also be reprogrammed later. Changing tasks requires a significant amount of time (sometimes hours) but it is easier than reconfiguring an ASIC, which involves removing it from your system, throwing it in the trash, and printing a new one. FPGAs are not quite as efficient as a dedicated ASIC, but it's about as close as you can get without translating the actual source code directly into a circuit.

Intel, after purchasing FPGA manufacturer, Altera, will integrate their technology into Xeons in Q1 2016. This will be useful to offload specific tasks that dominate a server's total workload. According to PC World, they will be integrated as a two-chip package, where both the CPU and FPGA can access the same cache. I'm not sure what form of heterogeneous memory architecture that Intel is using, but this would be a great example of a part that could benefit from in-place acceleration. You could imagine a simple function being baked into the FPGA to, I don't know, process large videos in very specific ways without expensive copies.

Again, this is not a consumer product, and may never be. Reprogramming an FPGA can take hours, and I can't think of too many situations where consumers will trade off hours of time to switch tasks with high performance. Then again, it just takes one person to think of a great application for it to take off.

Source: PCWorld

ASUS updates the TUF line of motherboards with the ASUS Sabertooth Z170 Mark 1

Subject: Motherboards | November 20, 2015 - 02:51 PM |
Tagged: asus, TUF SABERTOOTH Z170, LGA 1151

It has been a while since we saw a new Sabertooth motherboard from the other side of ASUS, The Ultimate Force, up for review but [H]ard|OCP has remedied that with the new Z170 member of this line of products.  It bears the same Thermal Armour design as previous models, adding a small fan that doesn't quite fit in with the overall design of the motherboard.  As well you will notice an absence of a visible CMOS battery, it is indeed buried under the armour.  [H]ard|OCP were less than impressed with the memory subsystem, the board is rated for DDR4 2400MHz DIMMs maximum and no higher.  On the other hand the incredible stability of this board and the amount of features available on this relatively inexpensive Z170 board did garner a Gold Award.  Read the full review to understand the benefits and drawbacks of this motherboard.


"In our opinion ASUS’ TUF series motherboards target the sweet spot in regard to features, price, and performance. TUF motherboards give you more features than most mid-range motherboards but lack certain features found on the high end. The Sabertooth Z170 Mark 1 is the flagship part of the current TUF series."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:


Source: [H]ard|OCP

Should you fear SilverPush?

Subject: General Tech | November 20, 2015 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: security, silverpush, fud

SilverPush has been around for a while but was recently reverse-engineered so that it could be investigated by anyone with an interest in their phones security.  It is software that is often bundled in advertisements or streamed media that takes advantage of your phones the far greater range of audio sensitivity and the fact that you can communicate information via audio signals.  This could allow an app to communicate with your phone without your knowledge, to collect data from your phone or even to provide contextual ads on your phone.

However as you can see from the list of apps which The Register links to, there is not much likelihood that you have an app which has SilverPush enabled installed on your phone and that is the real key.  If you do not have an app which is listening for audio signals on those frequencies then you will not suffer the effects of SilverPush.  The moral of the story is that your phones security starts with you, if you download random free apps and allow them full access to your phone then you should not be surprised by this sort of thing.


"SilverPush's software kit can be baked into apps, and is designed to pick up near-ultrasonic sounds embedded in, say, a TV, radio or web browser advert. These signals, in the range of 18kHz to 19.95kHz, are too high pitched for most humans to hear, but can be decoded by software."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Podcast #376 - Intel Speed Shift, CPU Coolers from Noctua and DEEPCOOL, Broadwell-E Rumors, and more!

Subject: General Tech | November 19, 2015 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, noctua, Deepcool, Gamer Storm Gabriel, Intel, speed shift, amd, R9, fury x, trixx, Broadwell-E, kaby lake, nvidia, shield tablet k1, knights landing, asus, chromebit

PC Perspective Podcast #376 - 11/19/2015

Join us this week as we discuss Intel Speed Shift, CPU Coolers from Noctua and DEEPCOOL, Broadwell-E Rumors, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:19:22

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:32:10 This episode of PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Braintree. Even the best mobile app won’t work without the right payments API. That’s where the Braintree v.0 SDK comes in. One amazingly simple integration gives you every way to pay. Try out the sandbox and see for yourself at braintree­payments.com/pcper
  3. News item of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
  5. Closing/outro

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

The R9 380X arrives

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 19, 2015 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: asus, strix, Radeon R9 380X, tonga

The full serving of Tonga in the AMD Radeon R9 380X has 32 compute units, 2048 stream processors, 32 ROPs and 128 texture units which compares favourably to the 23CUs, 1792 stream processors, 32 ROPs and 112 texture units of the existing R9 380.  Memory bandwidth and amount is unchanged, 182GB/sec of memory bandwidth at the stock speed of 5.7GHz effective and the GPU clock remains around 970MHz as well.  The MSRP is to be $230 for the base model.

With the specifications out of the way, the next question to answer is how it fares against the direct competition, the GTX 960 and 970.  That is where this review from [H]ard|OCP comes in, with a look at the ASUS STRIX R9 380X DirectCU II OC, running 1030MHz default and 1050MHz at the push of a button.  Their tests at 1440p were a little disappointing, the card did not perform well until advanced graphics settings were reduced but at 1080p they saw great performance with all the bells and whistles turned up.  The pricing will be key to this product, if sellers can keep it at or below MSRP it is a better deal than the GTX 970 but if the prices creep closer then the 970 is the better value.


"AMD has let loose the new AMD Radeon R9 380X GPU, today we evaluate the ASUS STRIX R9 380X OC video card and find out how it compares to a 4GB GeForce GTX 960 and GeForce GTX 970 for a wide picture of where performance lies at 1440p or where it does not at 1440p considering your viewpoint."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Manufacturer: EVGA

Introduction and Features


EVGA recently introduced three new Platinum certified power supplies in their popular SuperNOVA line, the 650P2, 750P2 and 850P2. All three power supplies are 80 Plus Platinum certified for high efficiency and feature all modular cables, high-quality Japanese brand capacitors, and a quiet 140mm cooling fan (with the ability to operate in silent, fan-less mode at low to mid power levels). And in addition to delivering excellent performance with quiet operation, these new power supplies are backed by a 10-year warranty!


EVGA was founded in 1999 with headquarters in Brea, California. They continue to specialize in producing NVIDIA based graphics adapters and Intel based motherboards and keep expanding their PC power supply product line, which currently includes thirty-four models ranging from the high-end 1,600W SuperNOVA T2 to the budget minded EVGA 400W power supply.


In this review we will be taking a detailed look at both the EVGA SuperNOVA 650P2 and 750P2 power supplies. It’s nice when we receive two slightly different units in the same product series to look for consistency during testing.

Here is what EVGA has to say about the new SuperNOVA P2 Platinum PSUs: “The unbeatable performance of the EVGA SuperNOVA P2 power supply line is now available in 850, 750 and 650 watt versions. Based on the award winning P2 power supplies, these units feature 80 Plus Platinum rated efficiency, and clean, continuous power to every component. The ECO Control Fan system offers fan modes to provide absolutely zero fan noise during low to medium load operations. Backed by an award winning 10 year warranty, and 100% Japanese capacitor design, the EVGA SuperNOVA 850, 750 and 650 P2 power supplies offer unbeatable performance and value."


EVGA SuperNOVA 650W P2 and 750W P2 PSU Key Features:

•    Fully modular cables to reduce clutter and improve airflow
•    80 PLUS Platinum certified, with up to 92% efficiency
•    LLC Resonant circuit design for high efficiency
•    Tight voltage regulation, stable power with low AC ripple and noise
•    Highest quality Japanese brand capacitors ensure long-term reliability
•    Quiet 140mm Double ball bearing fan for reliability and quiet operation
•    ECO Intelligent Thermal Control allows silent, fan-less operation at low power
•    NVIDIA SLI & AMD Crossfire Ready
•    Compliance with ErP Lot 6 2013 Requirement
•    Active Power Factor correction (0.99) with Universal AC input
•    Complete Protections: OVP, UVP, OPP, OCP and SCP
•    10-Year warranty and EVGA Customer Support

Please continue reading our review of the EVGA SuperNOVA 650/750 P2 PSUs!!!

Two new SDKs aimed at VR performance join NVIDIA's GameWorks

Subject: General Tech | November 19, 2015 - 12:22 PM |
Tagged: gameworks vr, designworks vr, virtual reality, NVIDA, sdk

There is something about this phrase which describes a feature of NVIDIA's newly announced VR SLI that excites the kid in me "multiple GPUs can be assigned a specific eye to dramatically accelerate stereo rendering".  Maybe you can't afford two GPUs per eye but the fact that it would work if you could manage it is rather impressive.  NVIDIA has announced new SDKs specifically aimed at VR design and performance, GameWorks VR and DesignWorks VR.  Epic has announced that Unreal Engine 4.3 will support these new tools and you can grab them from NVIDIA's developer website right now if you so desire.  You can read more about specific features and optimizations these SDKs will provide at this article on The Inquirer.


"The company said at the release of version 1.0 of GameWorks VR and DesignWorks VR that the SDKs will solve the power-guzzling problems associated with complex, immersive VR graphics processing."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk


Source: The Inquirer

NVIDIA Re-Releases SHIELD Tablet as K1 - Cuts Price to $199

Subject: Mobile | November 18, 2015 - 06:41 PM |
Tagged: tegra k1, tablet, shield tablet k1, shield controller, shield, nvidia, gaming tablet, Android

NVIDIA has released their updated version of the SHIELD tablet with a new name, but very little has changed other than the name (now the SHIELD tablet K1) and the price - now $100 less expensive at $199.99.


The SHIELD tablet K1 (pictured case and controller are not included)

Under the hood the 8-inch Android-powered tablet is identical to its predecessor, with the quad-core Tegra K1 processor with its 192 CUDA core GPU powering the gaming action on the 1920x1200 display. The controller is still a separate $59.99 purchase, but of course this is not required to use the tablet.

Here are full specs from NVIDIA:

  • Processor: NVIDIA Tegra K1 192 core Kepler GPU (2.2 GHz ARM Cortex A15 CPU with 2 GB RAM)
  • Display: 8-inch 1920x1200 multi-touch full-HD display
  • Audio: Front-facing stereo speakers with built-in microphone
  • Storage: 16 GB
  • Wireless: 802.11n 2x2 MIMO 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0 LE, GPS/GLONASS
  • I/O: Mini-HDMI output, Micro-USB 2.0, MicroSD slot, 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack with microphone support
  • Motion Sensors: 3-axis gyro, 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis compass
  • Cameras: Front, 5MP HDR; Back, 5MP auto-focus HDR
  • Battery: 19.75 Watt Hours
  • Dimensions: Weight, 12.6 oz (356 g); H x W x D: 8.8 in (221 mm) x 5.0 in (126 mm) x 0.36 in (9.2 mm)
  • Operating System: Android Lollipop
  • Gaming Features: SHIELD controller compatible, GeForce NOW cloud gaming service, Console Mode, NVIDIA ShadowPlay
  • Included Apps: Google Play, NVIDIA SHIELD Hub, Fallout Shelter, NVIDIA Dabbler, Squid, Twitch


This update really comes down to price, as NVIDIA is being more aggressive about the adoption of their gaming tablet with the new MSRP. This doesn't come without some concessions, however, as the SHIELD tablet K1 ships without any accessories (no USB cable or charger). It's a move remienscent of Nintendo with the "New 3DS XL", which also shipped without a charger, and the standard micro-USB connection should be readily at hand for most of the target audience.

The question of course must be, is this now a more compelling product at $199? It does make the controller seem a bit more affordable considering the bundle will now run $260 - $40 below the previous tablet-only price. Time will tell (and of course you can let us know in the comments below!).

NVIDIA is selling the SHIELD tablet K1 directly from their web store, and it's already on Amazon for the same $199.99 price.

Source: NVIDIA

Logitech's Artemis Spectrum headset; 7.1 audiophile quality?

Subject: General Tech | November 18, 2015 - 05:28 PM |
Tagged: logitech, G633 Artemis Spectrum, 7.1 headset

Logitech talks big about their G633 Artemis Spectrum gaming headsets, with audiophile-like quality and seven adjustable audio channels along with the good old .1 bass channel.  They do have a history of producing quality audio products and so Techgage set out to determine how well Logitech did on these headsets.  The software allows you, among other things, to choose between DTS Headphone X and Dolby Surround modes, with each channels volume being adjustable in Dolby mode; effectively from what Techgage could hear when gaming.  In the end the $149.99 MSRP and audio quality nowhere near the levels an audiophile would want prevented Techgage from loving the G633 but for atmospheric gaming these are a decent choice for the well off gamer.


"When Logitech announced its Artemis Spectrum gaming headsets, it said that they would deliver “audiophile-like” sound. Now, that’s a lofty promise. The company sent us the wired version, the G633, for us to review. Does it live up to its divine name and ambitious promises, or does it fall short, leaving us mere mortals still hunting for a god-like audio experience?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: Techgage

Hard West is here; get your eldritch western fix

Subject: General Tech | November 18, 2015 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: hard west, Unity, gaming

If you backed the Kickstarter then you have had a chance to watch Hard West evolve from a single silent map to the recent update which added significant content and changed the beginning of the game significantly.  You are a dead gunslinger, brought back to an undead state in a western setting which incorporates not only natives and townsfolk but dark supernatural creatures and powers as well.  The game plays like the recent XCOM releases, with a similar turn style and cover system but also incorporates unique features such as the ability to ricochet bullets of some items on the map to shoot around corners and a shadow system designed to give you hints about who might be standing around a corner.

Nighttime changes the game dramatically and the optional permanent injury system is the exact opposite of the recent Warhammer games, severely injured members your posse will suffer negatives in the short term but possibly gaining strength once their wounds have fully healed.  You can see what Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN thought of the game here or just pick it up on Steam for $22.

"“Wild West XCOM” is about as good an elevator pitch as you could wish for. After a short delay, as of today we can find out whether Hard West can possibly live up to its glorious high concept. I played an earlier build a few weeks back – some thoughts, plus a launch trailer, below."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:


AMD R9 Fury X Voltage and HBM Unlocked with Sapphire TriXX 5.2.1

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 18, 2015 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: Sapphire TriXX, R9 Fury X, overclocking, hbm, amd

The new version (5.2.1) of Sapphire's TriXX overclocking utility has been released, and it finally unlocks voltage and HBM overclocking for AMD's R9 Fury X.


(Image credit: Sapphire)

Previously the voltage of the R9 Fury X core was not adjustable, leaving what would seem to be quite a bit of untapped headroom for the cards which shipped with a powerful liquid-cooling solution rated for 500 watts of thermal dissipation. This should allow for much better results than what Ryan was able to achieve when he attempted overclocking for our review of the R9 Fury X in June (without the benefit of voltage adjustments):

"My net result: a clock speed of 1155 MHz rather than 1050 MHz, an increase of 10%. That's a decent overclock for a first attempt with a brand new card and new architecture, but from the way that AMD had built up the "500 watt cooler" and the "375 watts available power" from the dual 8-pin power connectors, I was honestly expecting quite a bit more. Hopefully we'll see some community adjustments, like voltage modifications, that we can mess around with later..."


(Image credit: Sapphire)

Will TriXX v5.2.1 unleash the full potential of the Fury X? We will have to wait for some overclocked benchmark numbers, but having the ability can only be a good thing for enthusiasts.

Source: WCCFtech

Meet the Boltzmann Initiative, AMD's answer to HPC

Subject: General Tech | November 18, 2015 - 12:35 PM |
Tagged: amd, firepro, boltzmann, HPC, hsa

AMD has announced the Boltzmann Initiative to compete against Intel and NVIDIA in the HPC market this week at SC15.  It is not a physical product but rather new a way to unite the processing power of HSA compliant AMD APUs and FirePro GPUs.  They have announced several new projects including the Heterogeneous Compute Compiler (HCC) and Heterogeneous-compute Interface for Portability (HIP) for CUDA based apps which can automatically convert CUDA code into C++.  They also announced a headless Linux driver and HSA runtime infrastructure interface for managing clusters which utilizes their InfiniBand fabric interconnect to interface system memory directly to GPU memory as well as adding P2P GPU support and numerous other enhancements.   Check out more at DigiTimes.


"The Boltzmann Initiative leverages HSA's ability to harness both central processing units (CPU) and AMD FirePro graphics processing units (GPU) for maximum compute efficiency through software."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

AOC Introduces 24-inch 4K PLS Monitor with HDMI 2.0

Subject: Displays | November 18, 2015 - 10:04 AM |
Tagged: U2477PWQ, PLS, monitor, HDMI 2.0, AOC, 4k monitor, 24-inch display

AOC has announced a new, compact 4K display with a PLS panel, and the U2477PWQ also features HDMI 2.0 input.


With a PLS panel providing a full 178/178 viewing angle the U2477PWQ looks like an attractive alternative to TN designs, if similarly priced. The 16.7 million colors specified indicate the use of an 8-bit panel/processing, so this won't offer the same level of color gradation as a 10-bit IPS (or PLS) panel, though likely not an issue unless this is intended for serious color work. As far as the ergonomics are concerned, the display stand offers full hight/pivot/tilt functionality, and there is also a standard 100 mm VESA mount on the back.

Specifications from AOC:

  • Monitor Size: 23.6 Inch
  • Resolution: 3840x2160@60Hz
  • Response time: 4 ms
  • Panel Type: PLS
  • Viewing Angle: 178/178
  • Colors: 16.7 Million
  • Brightness: 300 cd/m2 (type)
  • Contrast Ratio: 1000:1
  • Dynamic Contrast Ratio: 50M:1
  • HDCP: Compatible    
  • Input: DVI, HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort, D-Sub    
  • Ergonomics: Pivot, Swivel, Tilt -5/+23; Height Adjustment 130mm
  • Other Features:    FlickerFree, Vesa Wallmount 100x100, i-Menu, e-Saver, Screen+
  • Power Source: 100 - 240V 50/60Hz
  • Power Consumption: On 34W; Standby 0.5W; Off: 0.3W


This new display is listed on AOC's European site here, and it appears that the U2477PWQ is not yet available in the United States.

Source: FlatpanelsHD

Intel Launches Knights Landing-based Xeon Phi AIBs

Subject: Processors | November 18, 2015 - 07:34 AM |
Tagged: Xeon Phi, knights landing, Intel

The add-in board version of the Xeon Phi has just launched, which Intel aims at supercomputing audiences. They also announced that this product will be available as a socketed processor that is embedded in, as PC World states, “a limited number of workstations” by the first half of next year. The interesting part about these processors is that they combine a GPU-like architecture with the x86 instruction set.

intel-2015-KNL die.jpg

Image Credit: Intel (Developer Zone)

In the case of next year's socketed Knights Landing CPUs, you can even boot your OS with it (and no other processor installed). It will probably be a little like running a 72-core Atom-based netbook.

To make it a little more clear, Knights Landing is a 72-core, 512-bit processor. You might wonder how that can compete against a modern GPU, which has thousands of cores, but those are not really cores in the CPU sense. GPUs crunch massive amounts of calculations by essentially tying several cores together, and doing other tricks to minimize die area per effective instruction. NVIDIA ties 32 instructions together and pushes them down the silicon. As long as they don't diverge, you can get 32 independent computations for very little die area. AMD packs 64 together.

Knight's Landing does the same. The 512-bit registers can hold 16 single-precision (32-bit) values and operate on them simultaneously.

16 times 72 is 1152. All of a sudden, we're in shader-count territory. This is one of the reasons why they can achieve such high performance with “only” 72 cores, compared to the “thousands” that are present on GPUs. They're actually on a similar scale, just counted differently.

Update: (November 18th @ 1:51 pm EST) I just realized that, while I kept saying "one of the reasons", I never elaborated on the other points. Knights Landing also has four threads per core. So that "72 core" is actually "288 thread", with 512-bit registers that can perform sixteen 32-bit SIMD instructions simultaneously. While hyperthreading is not known to be 100% efficient, you could consider Knights Landing to be a GPU with 4608 shader units. Again, it's not the best way to count it, but it could sort-of work.

So in terms of raw performance, Knights Landing can crunch about 8 TeraFLOPs of single-precision performance or around 3 TeraFLOPs of double-precision, 64-bit performance. This is around 30% faster than the Titan X in single precision, and around twice the performance of Titan Black in double precision. NVIDIA basically removed the FP64 compute units from Maxwell / Titan X, so Knight's Landing is about 16x faster, but that's not really a fair comparison. NVIDIA recommends Kepler for double-precision workloads.

So interestingly, Knights Landing would be a top-tier graphics card (in terms of shading performance) if it was compatible with typical graphics APIs. Of course, it's not, and it will be priced way higher than, for instance, the AMD Radeon Fury X. Knight's Landing isn't available on Intel ARK yet, but previous models are in the $2000 - $4000 range.

Source: PC World

Asus Chromebit CS10 Runs Google's Chrome OS Anywhere for $85

Subject: General Tech | November 18, 2015 - 12:47 AM |
Tagged: SFF, hdmi stick, hdmi, chromebit, chrome os, asus, arm

Small form factor PCs are big this year, and Google is about to get into the game with its own HDMI dongle PC running Chrome OS. Google has partnered with Asus to release the Chromebit CS10 which is now avaialble for $85.

Asus Chromebit Mini PC.png

The small stick PC weighs 75 grams (2.6 ounces) and will come in black, orange, and eventually blue colors. The Chromebit is about the size of a flash drive with an HDMI port on one end, DC power input on one side, and a single USB 2.0 port on the other end. A removeable cap protects the HDMI output. It is small enough that you can toss it into a bag or tuck it behind a monitor or kiosk permanently. Asus includes an AC power adapter (18W, 1.5 amps) and a flexible HDMI connector (or a short extension cable depending on the region) along with velco stickers in the box.

The Chromebit CS10 is powered by a quad core Rockchip 3288-C SoC featuring four ARM Cortex A17 CPU cores and a Mali T624 GPU. The SoC is paired with 2GB of LPDDR3 memory and 16GB of eMMC storage. Connectivity includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 radios along with the USB 2.0 port. Users can hook up a bluetooth keyboard and mouse and use the USB port for extra storage, or hook up even more devices using a USB hub.

So far, reviews are positive and generally state that (for example) while the Rockchip ARM processor is no racehorse, it is good enough for basic web browsing, media streaming, and document editing.

Of course, the Chromebit runs the Chrome web browser, but it also can run any of the apps from the Chrome Web Store including Netflix, Office, and any number of free games. Asus is aiming the Chromebit at digital signage, kiosk, thin clients for schools, and for on-the-go travelers.

The Chromebit CS10 is available soon (it is listed as out of stock on Newegg and has not shown up on Amazon or other sites yet) for $85 in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Taiwan. Business customers can further purchase the ability to use the Chromebit in a locked down single-app kiosk mode for $24 per user, per year from CDW.

Also read:

Source: Asus

Microsoft Updates Privacy Statement (via Ed Bott of ZDNet)

Subject: General Tech | November 17, 2015 - 08:55 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, Privacy, microsoft

UPDATE (Nov 19th, 12pm EST): Ed Bott emailed me to clarify a few points. First, PINs for BitLocker are not required and will not be backed up to OneDrive. I knew that PINs were not required, but I was trying to say "would there be a way that a user could use BitLocker without giving all the necessary bits to OneDrive". Apparently, using PINs is one of those ways. He also claims that you can manage your own keys by changing them and storing them locally.

He also commented on the HIPAA remark. He claims that Windows 10 is HIPAA compliant, and the reason why it was not included in the statement is because the question wasn't asked. Again, if applicable, check with your vendors and other support.

Okay so one of the major concerns with Windows 10 is how it handles your private data. I gave my thoughts on the topic a couple of weeks ago, which was a bit critical of Microsoft. I said that there are definite concerns that should be disclosed, but it is not enough of a concern to stop using it and switch to Linux or something. At least, not yet.


Image Credit: Wikipedia

Since then, Ed Bott of ZDNet discussed Microsoft's new privacy policy, which clarifies a few points. It looks like he ran the two versions of the EULA through a text-difference tool to highlight all changes, and took a few screenshots of key moments.

The foremost change is that Microsoft specified that only OneDrive, Outlook, and Skype files and content, private or public, are subject to disclosure to law enforcement. The previous wording looked like it applied to all files on Windows 10. Full access to all files sounds like something the law enforcement would want, but Windows 10 does not provide it.

Another change involves BitLocker. Recovery keys are synchronized to OneDrive “to allow recovery on personal devices”. I am not sure if this also includes PINs, for devices configured to use those, but it would be crappy if it did. Regardless, the privacy statement now says “Microsoft doesn't use your individual recovery keys for any purpose.” This raises two concerns: Why did they specify “Microsoft” and why did they qualify “recovery keys” with “individual”? My assumption is that this is just an awkward trait of the English language, but it could exempt sending batches of keys to third parties, such as governments, especially if it counts as a OneDrive personal file. Again, it is probably just an awkward wording though.

A final point for me is that Telemetry, when set to “Basic”, satisfies FINRA, SEC, and FTC regulations. Oddly they don't specify HIPAA, but you probably shouldn't be listening to tech reporters (yes including me) for advice about securing health insurance and patient data. You should have more reliable channels for that sort of inquiry.

Source: ZDNet

Infringe Trademarks in Style with UE4 Community Demos

Subject: General Tech | November 17, 2015 - 06:40 PM |
Tagged: ue4, Nintendo, maker, hobbyist

Okay this is just cool (albeit a little old news).

YouTube user CryZENx made a few tech demos that star classic video game characters, with modern, Unreal Engine 4-powered graphics. Samus has a glossy, metallic suit of armor. Goku launches bright Kamehameha blasts, as well as punches, kicks, and spins with his power pole, all while his tail wags and whips around behind him.

It is also one of the first demos that I've seen use NVIDIA FleX. One level has two spout of clear blue water. One flows over a pile of rigid bodies and splits in the corner of the world, and the other flows through two water wheels, which shape the spout before it blobs on the ground.


As always, be careful running what you download from the internet. That said, it doesn't trigger a permission escalation (UAC) or anything, so chances are that it is just a typical project cooked through Unreal Engine 4. Nintendo and others might be a bit upset at their trademarks being used, but it's a non-commercial tech demo for a hobbyist game developer.

They would be better off hiring them.

LG L15G Sunrise TracFone is $9.82 at Walmart

Subject: Mobile | November 17, 2015 - 06:01 PM |
Tagged: LG, tracfone, walmart

Don't expect much.

This $9.82 phone runs Android 4.4 KitKat with a 1.2 GHz, dual-core processor, which is backed by 512 MB of RAM. It has 4GB of internal storage, which LG advertises as having “up to 1.15 GB usable”. It is also listed as having about 7 hours of talk time, with almost 10 days of standby (although that is probably with next to nothing running). These components power a phone with a 3.8-inch, 480x320 display. It is not compatible with LTE, but it does have WiFi and 3G.


That said, the person writing this article is currently using an LG Optimus One from 2010, which runs Android 2.2 and doesn't even have enough on-device storage to install and use Firefox for Android. (My phone has ~60MB usable with basically nothing installed and a couple of built-in apps uninstalled.) So, for someone like me, this phone would actually be a step up and usable for something more than just phone calls.

... not much more, but maybe $10 worth of more?

Source: Walmart

When you need fast portable storage, the Kingston HyperX Savage Flash Drive

Subject: Storage | November 17, 2015 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: kingston, hyper x savage, thumb drive, usb 3.1

Kingston has added a USB drive to their HyperX lineup, the Savage flash drive which connects via USB 3.1, albeit not with the new Type-C connector.  That standard theoretically allows faster transfers than the previous 3.0 standard, Kingston quotes 350MB/s read and 250MB/s write as the maximum speeds this drive is capable of.  Overclocker's Club tested the 128GB model, there are also 64GB and 256GB models available.  Their testing showed that the drive is capable of hitting those speeds in some scenarios and certainly performed faster than the Patriot drive they compared it against.  The speed does come at a premium, the 128GB model is $130 on Amazon.


"After running the HyperX Savage USB 3.1 drive through the test suite, it's hard not to like this drive. The quote on Kingston's web site is a performance rating of up to 350MB/s read and 250MB/s write. In a couple of tests, it surely got there covering both ends of the rating. However, in some tests it struggled to reach the rated 250MB/s write rating. Overall though, this has to be the highest performing flash drive I have tested to date."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:


Asus' Upcoming RT-AC5300 Router Is A Massive Tri-Band Router

Subject: Networking | November 17, 2015 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: nitroQAM, mu-mimo, gigabit router, broadcom, asuswrt, asus, 802.11ac

Asus has officially launched the RT-AC5300, a massive replicator tri-band wireless router. The new router is fenced in by eight large antennas that allow the device to support 4 x 4 MU-MIMO wireless on two 5 GHz and one 2.4 GHz bands.


The menacing high-end wireless router supports the latest wired and wireless consumer networking technologies and runs the AsusWRT firmware. The RT-AC5300 is clad in black with red accents. The top of the router is mesh to facilitate cooling. In addition to the eight antennas, there are five gigabit Ethernet ports (up to two ports can be configured as WAN ports), a USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, and physical buttons for WPS, Wi-Fi, and LED on/off.

Powered by a Broadcom chipset, the router supports 802.11ac as well as older N/G/B Wi-Fi standards. Using NitroQAM technology, the two 5 GHz bands each support up to 2,167 Mbps speeds while the 2.4 GHz band tops out at 1,000 Mbps. This is a boost over the usual 1,734 Mbps for 5 GHz and 600 Mbps for 2.4 GHz wireless bandwidth numbers. Asus claims that the router can run all three bands simultaneously along with beamforming to improve the signal to devices by focusing the signal. Note that the combined advertised "5334 Mbps" of the router includes all three bands but a single device would max out at the 2,167 Mbps theoretical maximum of a single band. The router is capable of automatically figuring out and using the optimal band to communicate with each device based on its capabilities and signal strength.

When it comes to wired connections, the router has four 1 Gbps LAN ports. It also supports 802.3ad link aggregation which allows using two of the gigabit ports to create a single 2 Gbps link to supported devices like network attached storage (NAS) and workstations.

Asus is using ASUSWRT firmware along with AiRadar beamforming, AiProtect security, and a subscription to WTFast GPN which is a service aimed at gamers that reportedly delivers decreased pings and lower latency connections to game servers.

Pricing and availability have not been announced, but CNET is reporting an expected price of $400 USD.

To say that this router is overkill for most is an understatement, but it is packed with features and is ready to stream a Stargate SG-1 marathon to all your devices!

Source: Asus