Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 1, 2014 - 05:18 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: razer, nzxt, h440
The NZXT H440 Razer Edition matches the layout and design of the regular H440 but now you can show off additional brand loyalty if you are into that sort of display. There is glowing Razer logo embedded in the front panel with clear plastic over top to protect it and give it a raised look. The interior is now much darker, which can make your LED lighting stand out more and does improve the looks of the cases interior. When all is said and done there is nothing about the case that has been improved over the base model; as Benchmark Reviews rightfully points out, you are paying $30 for looks if you chose this case and there will be those that do.
"Razer, creator of all things peripheral, has finally released their hotly anticipated entry into the chassis market. This is the NZXT H440 – Designed by Razer. With a completely new appearance featuring a matte black exterior and interior, four black NZXT fans, a large tinted window, and plenty of LED lighting, this chassis will be sure to make every Razer fan’s wish list, especially given that it retains the original H440 quality and simplicity."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- NZXT Source 340 Mid-Tower @ eTeknix
- NZXT S340 Case Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Quiet ATX Gamer, Fractal R5 Version @ Silent PC Review
- Reeven Ouranos RC-1401 Review @ OCC
- Enermax LIQMAX 120S @ techPowerUp
- Alpenföhn Brocken ECO @ eTeknix
- Reeven Okeanos RC-1402 Review @ OCC
- Noctua NH-D15 CPU Cooler Review @ Hardware Canucks
Subject: Graphics Cards | December 1, 2014 - 02:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, nvidia, GTX 980, GAMING 4G, factory overclocked, Twin Frozr V
MSI has updated their Twin Frozr V with Torx fans which are effective at moving a lot of air very quietly and 'S' shaped heatpipes which bear the name SuperSU. Connectivity is provided by dual-link DVI-I, HDMI and three DisplayPort plugs which ought to provide enough flexibility for anyone. It is clocked at 1216 - 1331MHz out of the box with GDDR5 running at 7GHz effective which [H]ard|OCP managed to increase to 1406 - 1533MHz and 7.16GHz on the memory which is rather impressive for a Maxwell chip with NVIDIA's power limits and shows just how much you can squeeze out of their new chip without needing to up the amount of juice you are providing it. The overclocked card upped the full system wattage to 378W which was much lower than the R9 290 they tested against and the GPU temperature went as high as 70C when pushed to the limit which again is lower than the 290 however NVIDIA's selling price is certainly higher than AMD's. Check out their full review here.
"The MSI GTX 980 GAMING 4G video card has a factory overclock and the new Twin Frozr V cooling system. We'll push it to its highest custom overclock and pit it against the ASUS ROG R9 290X MATRIX Platinum overclocker, and determine the gaming bang for your buck. May the best card win."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- NVIDIA Multi-Frame Sampled AA @ [H]ard|OCP
- OcUK GeForce GTX 970 'NVIDIA 970 Cooler Edition' @ Kitguru
- EVGA GTX 980 Classified Video Card Review @ Hardware Asylum
- EVGA GeForce GTX 970 FTW ACX 2.0 Review @ Hardware Canucks
- MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G Review @ Neoseeker
Subject: General Tech | December 1, 2014 - 12:59 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, google glass
Google Glass seems to have gone the way of Wave and Plus, most people have heard of it but no one seems to actively use it. Apart from some news stories about socially inept use of the device in public areas the buzz around Google Glass has died down and for most it is Oculus who have more compelling eye wear. Some time in the coming year there will be a second release of the Google Glass which dumps the Texas Instruments chip for an unspecified ultra low power Intel chip, or at least that is the rumour from The Register and other sites. This launch sounds to be aimed more at enterprise customers, hard to imaging how having your PowerPoint presentation beamed into your customers eyeballs will help your sales but that is the gist of the marketing. This product still seems to be more appropriate for those who work with their hands and could benefit from hands free overlays of schematics or details but who knows, maybe your next job interview will be with someone reading your Facebook page in real time as they conduct your interview.
"GOOGLE REPORTEDLY plans to release a new Intel-powered version of Google Glass in 2015, as interest in its first-generation wearable dies down."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Citrix clambers aboard GPU-powered app-delivery bandwagon @ The Register
- World's best threat detection pwned by HOBBIT @ The Register
- Top Cyber Monday SSD Deals 2014 @ The SSD Review
- VicoVation Marcus 1 1080p Full HD Car Camcorder GPS Pack Review @ NikKTech
- Tech ARP 2014 Mega Giveaway Contest
- KitGuru quarter of a million 'reviewer' giveaway @ Kitguru
It has been a couple of months since the release of the GeForce GTX 970 and the GM204 GPU that it is based on. After the initial wave of stock on day one, NVIDIA had admittedly struggled to keep these products available. Couple that with rampant concerns over coil whine from some non-reference designs, and you could see why we were a bit hesitant to focus and spend our time on retail GTX 970 reviews.
These issues appear to be settled for the most part. Finding GeForce GTX 970 cards is no longer a problem and users with coil whine are getting RMA replacements from NVIDIA's partners. Because of that, we feel much more comfortable reporting our results with the various retail cards that we have in house, and you'll see quite a few reviews coming from PC Perspective in the coming weeks.
But let's start with the MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GB Gaming card. Based on user reviews, this is one of the most popular retail cards. MSI's Gaming series of cards combines a custom cooler that typically runs quieter and more efficient than reference design, and it comes with a price tag that is within arms reach of the lower cost options as well.
The MSI GeForce GTX 970 4GB Gaming
MSI continues with its Dragon Army branding, and its associated black/red color scheme, which I think is appealing to a wide range of users. I'm sure NVIDIA would like to see a green or neutral color scheme, but hey, there are only so many colors to go around.
Subject: Graphics Cards | November 29, 2014 - 09:57 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: pcie, PCI Express, nvidia, mini-itx, GTX 970, graphics card, geforce, directcu mini, DirectCU, asus
ASUS has announced a tiny new addition to their GTX 970 family, and it will be their most powerful mini-ITX friendly card yet with a full GeForce GTX 970 GPU.
Image credit: ASUS
The ASUS 970 DirectCU Mini card will feature a modest factory overclock on the GTX 970 core running at 1088 MHz (stock 1050 MHz) with a 1228 MHz Boost Clock (stock 1178 MHz). Memory is not overclocked and remains at the stock 7 GHz speed.
The GTX 970 DirectCU Mini features a full backplate. Image credit: ASUS
The ASUS GTX 970 DirectCU Mini uses a single 8-pin PCIe power connector in place of the standard dual 6-pin configuration, which shouldn’t be a problem considering the 150W spec of the larger connector (and 145W NVIDIA spec of the 970).
Part of this complete mITX gaming breakfast. Image credit: ASUS
The tiny card offers a full array of display outputs including a pair of dual-link DVI connectors, HDMI 2.0, and DisplayPort 1.2. No word yet on pricing or availability, but the product page is up on the ASUS site.
Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2014 - 04:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: input, Cougar, 700K, Cherry MX
With a plastic body and brushed aluminium top the Cougar 700K weighs in at over a kilo and should handle the most ham fisted of users. You can choose your favourite flavour of Cherry MX switches, Red, Blue, Black or Brown and swap keys as you see fit and toggle between NKRO and standard USB 6KRO. The LED functionality is quite impressive, an onboard CORTEX-M0 and the included software allow you to customize your light show, swap key functionality and program macros which you can save into multiple profiles. Modders-Inc found the keyboard to be well designed, the software even more so but be aware that there is a drawback to liking this keyboard, it retails for $150.
"A product's function is not solely reliant on the designer but also shaped by the intended audience. Problem arises when there is a disconnect between intention, marketing and reception; the result being a product that is supposed to perform well at the intended task but comes up short due to false assumptions on what the intended audience needs."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Tesoro Tizona Elite Mechanical Gaming Keyboard & Numberpad @ eTeknix
- Logitech G910 ‘Orion Spark’ Mechanical Keyboard @ Kitguru
- CM Storm NovaTouch TKL Topre Switch Keyboard @ eTeknix
- Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. M Wireless Mobile & PC Keyboard @ eTeknix
- Func MS-2 Gaming Mouse Review @ Madshrimps
- FUNC MS-2 Gaming Mouse @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2014 - 12:50 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: windows, freeware
Over at The Register is a round up of a variety of freeware applications that many have found useful. Ad Aware, a program that not many have talked about since the competition picked up has made a reappearance and has stepped up their game somewhat although you will still find Malwarebytes product on this list. Classic Shell has been very popular since Windows went metrosexual as it restores much of the familiar interface that users are accustomed to and is likely to remain popular with the release of Windows 10. Duplicati is a great way to locally back up your files from the Cloud while Eraser can do the opposite for those wanting to make sure that deleted file stays deleted. They also include Notepad++ for those who actually do work on their machines, Process Explorer for those who work on the machines themselves and several others worth checking out if you are unfamiliar with the free software available for PC users.
"No matter if you're reinstalling Windows for the 47th time this fortnight or attempting to rid a new machine of bloatware in favour of something that's actually useful, the question remains: what alternative apps exist that don’t involve coughing up for obscene licensing fees?"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2014 - 04:27 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: telltale, game of thrones
Oh they're coming. The dragons are on their way. They're gonna be amazing. They'll be here soon. Actually, Telltale's Game of Thrones will be here on December 2nd. The game will be the first of a six-episode season, spanning the TV show's timeline from the end of Season 3 up to some point just before the start of Season 5.
According to the ESRB, they will keep their robes on at all times.
Of course, the most interesting part about this release, to me, is its M rating – specifically, one that makes zero reference to sexuality or sexual content. While the ESRB allows modest sexual content, with Duke Nukem Forever being just about the most extreme, permitted example, you would probably get nowhere near what is allowed on HBO into retail distribution, any console, and probably not even Steam. This would limit the game to a PC release that is distributed on their company website, GoG, and maybe Amazon. The same issue was faced, in some regions, with South Park: The Stick of Truth, where a handful of scenes were censored out of certain versions of the game because they were too graphic (one of which being an alien abduction).
That tangent out of the way, Game of Thrones will launch on December 2nd.
Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 10:20 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, windows, mkv, microsoft, hevc, h.265, flac
Native support for audio and video codecs is helpful for a platform. Software will be able to call upon the operating system's built-in functions, rather than integrating a solution. Of course, some will continue to roll their own, and that's fine, but it is obviously helpful for the foundation to have its own solution (especially in cases where licenses and royalties are required).
Windows 10 is expected to increase its platform support to include FLAC, MKV, and HEVC (h.265), and more may be coming. The tweet from Gabriel Aul suggests that this will be available starting in the next preview build, which will land in early 2015. Hopefully these additions include both encoding and decoding support, possibly allowing audio and video editors to take advantage of these formats.
The next build of Windows 10 Technical Preview is expected for early next year. The full OS is said to launch late that year.
Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 10:03 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ubisoft, black friday
Another quick Black Friday post, this one on Ubisoft's Uplay service. At least in Canada, if you purchase one title of a selected list, you will get a choice of one from a second list, for free. While the headliners are Ubisoft's first-party titles, there are a few from EA, Sega, Telltale, Deep Silver, Bethesda, WB Games, Capcom, Square Enix, and Kalypso to round out the “Buy” list (every free bundle game is from Ubisoft, though).
The list of “Buy” (full price) games are:
- Assassin's Creed: Unity (PC, Xbox One, PS4)
- Far Cry 4 (PC, 360, Xbox One, PS3 – Not PS4???)
- Dragon Age: Inquisition (PC)
- Alien Isolation (PC)
- Assassin's Creed: Rogue (360, PS3)
- Tales from the Borderlands (PC)
- Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris (PC)
- Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PC)
- The Evil Within (PC)
- Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse (PC)
- Wolfenstein: The New Order (PC)
- FIFA Soccer 15 (PC)
- The Sims 4 (PC)
- Football Manager 2015 (PC)
- Rocksmith (2014) (PC, 360, PS3 – Xbox One is listed by not available in the store???)
- Just Dance 2015 (360, Xbox One, PS3, Wii)
- Escape Dead Island (PC)
- Tropico 5 (PC)
- Shape Up (Xbox One)
- Metro: Redux Bundle (PC)
Purchasing one of the above allows you to get one of the following PC titles:
- Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
- South Park: The Stick of Truth
- Far Cry 3
- Assassin's Creed III: Deluxe Edition
- Splinter Cell: Blacklist
- Assassin's Creed: Freedom Cry
- Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD
- Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
- Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
- Anno 2070
- Might and Magic: Heroes VI (Complete)
- Rayman Legends
Of course, the first thing that pops into my mind is the AMD "Never Settle" promotion. It is interesting that game publishers are also considering a "build your own bundle" initiative, breaking from the "these two games are shrink-wrapped together" model that was previously dominant. Perhaps this will be something that Valve considers for one of their future promotions?
If you were considering paying full price for one of the first list of titles, than purchasing it through the Ubisoft store might get you an extra game for free. Personally, I've been considering Far Cry 4 and Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag has been given a lot of good publicity. The sale started on the American Thanksgiving season and runs until December 15th, so you have a little time to think.
Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 09:29 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: apple, safari, google, yahoo, bing, microsoft, mozilla
After Mozilla inked the deal with Yahoo, the eyes turned to Apple and its Safari browser. Currently, the default search engine is Google on both iOS and OSX, although Bing is the primary engine used for other functions, like Siri and Spotlight. Until early 2015, they are tied into a contract with Google for those two browsers, but who will get the new contract?
Apparently Yahoo and Microsoft have both approached the company for the position, and Apple is not ruling any of the three out. Probably the most interesting part is how Yahoo is genuinely taking the search business seriously. The deal with Mozilla is fairly long-term, and with Yahoo approaching Apple as well, it probably was not just charity on Mozilla's part because no-one else wanted to be Firefox's default. Yahoo would probably need some significant monetary backing for an Apple deal, which suggests the same for their deal with Mozilla.
If both Mozilla and Apple leave Google, it will take a significant chunk out of the search engine. Power users, like those who read this site, will likely be unaffected if they care, because of how low the barrier is to change the default search engine. On the other hand, even the most experienced user will often accept default settings until there is a reason to change. The winning party will need to have a good enough product to overcome that initial shock.
But the money will at least give them a chance when the decision comes into effect. That is, unless the barrier to changing default search engines is less than the barrier to changing default web browsers.
Google will always be default on Google Chrome.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | November 27, 2014 - 08:53 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, IBM, power9, Volta
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been interested in a successor for their Titan Supercomputer. Sponsored by the US Department of Energy, the new computer will be based on NVIDIA's Volta (GPU) and IBM's POWER9 (CPU) architectures. Its official name will be “Summit”, and it will have a little sibling, “Sierra”. Sierra, also based on Volta and POWER9, will be installed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Image Credit: NVIDIA
The main feature of these supercomputers is expected to be “NVLink”, which is said to allow unified memory between CPU and GPU. This means that, if you have a workload that alternates rapidly between serial and parallel tasks, that you can save the lag in transferring memory between each switch. One example of this would be a series of for-each loops on a large data set with a bit of logic, checks, and conditional branches between. Memory management is like a lag between each chunk of work, especially across two banks of memory attached by a slow bus.
Summit and Sierra are both built by IBM, while Titan, Oak Ridge's previous supercomputer, was developed by Cray. Not much is known about the specifics of Sierra, but Summit will be about 5x-10x faster (peak computational throughput) than its predecessor at less than a fifth of the nodes. Despite the fewer nodes, it will suck down more total power (~10MW, up from Titan's ~9MW).
These two supercomputers are worth $325 million USD (combined). They are expected to go online in 2017. According to Reuters, an additional $100 million USD will go toward research into "extreme" supercomputing.
Subject: Mobile | November 27, 2014 - 05:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: 1080p, Chillblast, Prestige i5-4200SH, dell, Inspiron 17 7000, hp, Beats Special Edition, Lenovo, Yoga 2 13, toshiba, Satellite S70-B-10U
Sick of the standard laptop screen resolution of 1366x768, especially on a laptop with a 17" screen? The Register has collected five laptops which have a 1080p resolution, several of which feature touchscreen capabilities for use with Win 8.1 and range in screen size up to 17.3". There is a variety of quality, the lower cost HP notebook does not feature an IPS display and so is not as sharp as some other models but then again it is not as expensive as the other models either. There is not much in the way of benchmarks but it is not too hard to estimate performance based on the components which are inside these laptops as they are common among the current generation of laptops. This review focuses on the screen, much like your eyes do.
"For the more discerning eye, that’s just not enough, and while we’ll be looking at the more expensive HiDPI laptops soon, full HD laptops are certainly more affordable these days, especially if you’re prepared to trade having a high-performance CPU or a speedy solid-state drive for a crisper, higher resolution image instead."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Silverstone Noble Breeze NB05 Notebook Cooler @ eTeknix
- Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 Tablet Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Nvidia Shield Tablet Android 5.0 Lollipop @ eTeknix
- What's MISSING on Amazon Fire Phone... and why it WON'T set the world alight @ The Register
- Hudl 2 @ The Inquirer
- Moto 360 smartwatch @ The Inquirer
- SuperTooth HD VOICE In-Car Speakerphone Review @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 04:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: audio, corsair, H1500, gaming headset, 7.1 headset
Corsair's H1500 Dolby 7.1 headset has a pair of 50mm drivers with a response of 20Hz to 20kHz which uses software to emulate 7.1 and 5.1 Dolby surround as well as simple 2.0 audio. The headset comes with software but not a dedicated soundcard which is why they were able to keep the price to $70. Benchmark Reviews used the headset in Battlefield 4 and found it quite useful in preventing enemies from sneaking up from behind them with a knife though the stiff padding and narrow head band did tire them out after a while. Music and movies also sounded great after a little tweaking of the equalizer and the noise cancellation feature on the microphone was effective at reducing background noise while speaking into the mic. Overall if you want a good set of surround headphones are on a bit of a budget the H1500 are worth adding to your short list of possible purchases.
"Longevity is very important in any industry. It is extremely likely that, when the longevity moniker is affixed to an organization's label, consumers can buy with confidence. Corsair is one of those labels that can has been doing it well since 1994 and in this industry, 20 years is a VERY long time. Whether you are buying a power supply or a gaming mouse, you know that if it wears the Corsair logo, it is a quality device that will withstand the test of time and perform brilliantly."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Corsair Gaming H1500 USB headset @ Kitguru
- Corsair H2100 Wireless 7.1 Gaming Headset @ Benchmark Reviews
- Noontec Zoro II HD Mobile Headphones @ eTeknix
- Creative Sound Blaster ROAR SR20A Bluetooth Portable Speaker Review @ NikKTech
- Ultimate Ears BOOM Wireless Bluetooth Speaker Review @ NikKTech
- LUXA2 Groovy Duo Wireless Speaker @ Benchmark Reviews
Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 02:20 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ssd, sale
The only thing better than a new SSD is one you picked up on sale and The SSD Review would like to help you with that. They have put together a list of SSD sales that have already kicked off, from the lovely price of $370 for a 960GB SanDisk Ultra II SSD which might not be the fastest on the market but is a great bargain to a Samsung 840 EVO 1TB at $360 for those who are willing to run the restoration tool to ensure they don't experience a slow down in performance. They also list M.2 drives for those wanting to use the new interface. They have their own Amazon affiliate code which I am sure they would appreciate you using but don't forget that PC Perspective does as well so please consider sharing the proceeds from your purchases ... or not, up to you.
"It's that time of the year again, when online retailers are dropping prices on products left and right. Over the past few days there have been some okay deals when it comes to SSDs in anticipation of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, today there are some very good deals on drives from all the big boys in the industry, mainly Samsung, SanDisk Crucial, and Intel."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The TR Podcast 166: Reader questions, Asus answers, and our mobile recs
- Windows 10 To Feature Native Support For MKV and FLAC @ Slashdot
- Lenovo reportedly to start producing wearable devices soon, says report @ DigiTimes
- NVIDIA GRID Review; Game Streaming Gets a Makeover @ Hardware Canucks
- BlackBerry will pay you $$$s to be its friend and dump that iPhone @ The Register
- UK boffins: We'll have an EMBIGGENED QUANTUM COMPUTER working in 5 YEARS @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 04:34 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ARC, torchlight
Okay so, before we begin, I have read a few comments regarding the Arc Client. I am not sure how much of it is gamers not wanting to install extra clients on their machines (see: Origin, Uplay, and so forth) or whether there is an actual, legitimate complaint against this one. Privacy concerns were mentioned a couple of times, but spoken in a vague and general tone. The service normally deals with free-to-play titles, like Star Trek: Online, Blacklight: Retribution, and APB: Reloaded.
Now on to the announcement: if claimed before November 30th, you can receive Torchlight for free; you may also purchase the sequel for $5. Both of these prices are a $15 reduction (the original is regularly $15 and Torchlight II is normally $20). By now, it is a little old, being released in late 2009, but it has a dedicated following. It was also available for free last year from GoG, which is obviously a better option. I mean, no offense to Arc, but it is really hard to beat free software that is also completely DRM-free.
Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 04:17 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows 10, windows 6.4
Windows Vista broke away from the NT 5.x version number that was shared between Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Since then, each major OS release from Microsoft has incremented the minor version by one: Windows 7 was 6.1, Windows 8 was 6.2, and Windows 8.1 was 6.3. The current Windows 10 previews register as Windows 6.4, but screenshots suggest that Microsoft is considering a bump to 10.0 before release.
Seriously, this time?
This leads to two discussions: “compatibility” and “why”.
First, because some applications query the Windows version number and adjust their behavior, there is some concern that 10.0 could lead to problems. For instance, if an installer checks that Windows' major version is 6, rather than at least 6, it could simply refuse to load (at least without compatibility mode). In fact, I remember Microsoft speaking about this issue back when Vista launched, saying that spoofing incorrect versions fixed (I believe) most problems. Peter Bright at Ars Technica notes that changes to application architecture, instituted with Windows 7, 8, and 8.1, makes this change more safe than when Vista bumped it to 6.x, for instance. Applications will be given an earlier version number unless they claim higher-level support in its manifest.
And then we get to the “Why”. There really isn't any reason to keep the version number in lockstep with the branding. It could be a sign that Microsoft is pushing for branding with this release, which makes sense. Windows 10, from a technical standpoint, is shaping up nicely (although I am still concerned about WinRT-based app sideloading). It would not surprise me if they would go this petty to further cement a good brand image.
It has become increasingly apparent that flash memory die shrinks have hit a bit of a brick wall in recent years. The issues faced by the standard 2D Planar NAND process were apparent very early on. This was no real secret - here's a slide seen at the 2009 Flash Memory Summit:
Despite this, most flash manufacturers pushed the envelope as far as they could within the limits of 2D process technology, balancing shrinks with reliability and performance. One of the largest flash manufacturers was Intel, having joined forces with Micron in a joint venture dubbed IMFT (Intel Micron Flash Technologies). Intel remained in lock-step with Micron all the way up to 20nm, but chose to hold back at the 16nm step, presumably in order to shift full focus towards alternative flash technologies. This was essentially confirmed late last week, with Intel's announcement of a shift to 3D NAND production.
Intel's press briefing seemed to focus more on cost efficiency than performance, and after reviewing the very few specs they released about this new flash, I believe we can do some theorizing as to the potential performance of this new flash memory. From the above illustration, you can see that Intel has chosen to go with the same sort of 3D technology used by Samsung - a 32 layer vertical stack of flash cells. This requires the use of an older / larger process technology, as it is too difficult to etch these holes at a 2x nm size. What keeps the die size reasonable is the fact that you get a 32x increase in bit density. Going off of a rough approximation from the above photo, imagine that 50nm die (8 Gbit), but with 32 vertical NAND layers. That would yield a 256 Gbit (32 GB) die within roughly the same footprint.
Representation of Samsung's 3D VNAND in 128Gbit and 86 Gbit variants.
20nm planar (2D) = yellow square, 16nm planar (2D) = blue square.
Image republished with permission from Schiltron Corporation.
It's likely a safe bet that IMFT flash will be going for a cost/GB far cheaper than the competing Samsung VNAND, and going with a relatively large 256 Gbit (vs. VNAND's 86 Gbit) per-die capacity is a smart move there, but let's not forget that there is a catch - write speed. Most NAND is very fast on reads, but limited on writes. Shifting from 2D to 3D NAND netted Samsung a 2x speed boost per die, and another effective 1.5x speed boost due to their choice to reduce per-die capacity from 128 Gbit to 86 Gbit. This effective speed boost came from the fact that a given VNAND SSD has 50% more dies to reach the same capacity as an SSD using 128 Gbit dies.
Now let's examine how Intel's choice of a 256 Gbit die impacts performance:
- Intel SSD 730 240GB = 16x128 Gbit 20nm dies
- 270 MB/sec writes and ~17 MB/sec/die
- Crucial MX100 128GB = 8x128Gbit 16nm dies
- 150 MB/sec writes and ~19 MB/sec/die
- Samsung 850 Pro 128GB = 12x86Gbit VNAND dies
- 470MB/sec writes and ~40 MB/sec/die
If we do some extrapolation based on the assumption that IMFT's move to 3D will net the same ~2x write speed improvement seen by Samsung, combined with their die capacity choice of 256Gbit, we get this:
- Future IMFT 128GB SSD = 4x256Gbit 3D dies
- 40 MB/sec/die x 4 dies = 160MB/sec
Even rounding up to 40 MB/sec/die, we can see that also doubling the die capacity effectively negates the performance improvement. While the IMFT flash equipped SSD will very likely be a lower cost product, it will (theoretically) see the same write speed limits seen in today's SSDs equipped with IMFT planar NAND. Now let's go one layer deeper on theoretical products and assume that Intel took the 18-channel NVMe controller from their P3700 Series and adopted it to a consumer PCIe SSD using this new 3D NAND. The larger die size limits the minimum capacity you can attain and still fully utilize their 18 channel controller, so with one die per channel, you end up with this product:
- Theoretical 18 channel IMFT PCIE 3D NAND SSD = 18x256Gbit 3D dies
- 40 MB/sec/die x 18 dies = 720 MB/sec
- 18x32GB (die capacity) = 576GB total capacity
Overprovisioning decisions aside, the above would be the lowest capacity product that could fully utilize the Intel PCIe controller. While the write performance is on the low side by PCIe SSD standards, the cost of such a product could easily be in the $0.50/GB range, or even less.
In summary, while we don't have any solid performance data, it appears that Intel's new 3D NAND is not likely to lead to a performance breakthrough in SSD speeds, but their choice on a more cost-effective per-die capacity for their new 3D NAND is likely to give them significant margins and the wiggle room to offer SSDs at a far lower cost/GB than we've seen in recent years. This may be the step that was needed to push SSD costs into a range that can truly compete with HDD technology.
Subject: General Tech | November 26, 2014 - 02:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: far cry 3, amd, nvidia, gaming
Far Cry 4 uses the same engine as the previous game, Dunia Engine 2, albeit updated and modified for the new features GPUs can handle, especially NVIDIA's Gameworks features. This gives you some idea of how your system will handle the game but for a definitive look at performance just check out this review at [H]ard|OCP. For their testing they used the GeForce 344.75 WHQL on their GTX 980 and 970 and the Catalyst 14.11.2 Beta for the R9 290X and 290. On the Ultra preset running at 1440p the performance differences between the AMD and NVIDIA cards were negligible, once they started testing the new features such as the enhanced godrays and AA options there were some significant differences which you should educate yourself about. It is worth noting that even two GTX 980s in SLI at 3600x1920 are not capable of handling 8x MSAA, thankfully SMAA is supported in the game.
"Far Cry 4 is here, and we take an early look at how current video cards stack up in performance, and which quality settings are graphically demanding. We will also look at some image quality comparisons and talk about the state of this game at launch. Will it measure up to Far Cry 3 in terms of graphic fidelity?"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Just blame Gabe for your credit card bill
- Hot Loot: Torchlight For Free @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- CCP Shut Down Vampire: TM – Bloodlines Fan Remake @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Wot I Think: Tales From The Borderlands Ep One @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Bioshock Through The Looking Glass @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Valve updates Steam key gift tradability rules @ HEXUS
- Wot I Think: Far Cry 4 @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Commander Ladystab: Another Shadow Of Mordor Outfit @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Gaming on the Grid with Nvidia's Shield Tablet @ The Tech Report
- Dragon Age Inquisition: Our chief weapons are... @ The Register
- Why Far Cry 2 Is Still The Best In The Series @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech | November 26, 2014 - 01:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gift guide, holiday guide
If you read through our holiday gift guide and still haven't found something for everyone then perhaps The Tech Report can help out. While there is some similarities such as the impressive ASUS ROG Swift and NVIDIA's Shield there are also other suggestions which might intrigue you. We did not delve into the mice and mechanical keyboards that were released this year and they offer a few more camera suggestions than our list not to mention the light bulb. Check it out to see if there is something else you left off your list.
"It's that time of year again. The big man to the north is making his list—and checking it twice—while shoppers to the south contemplate what to get for the beloved techies on their lists. Our staff has compiled a stack of suggestions based on our favorite PC hardware, mobile devices, and other gadgets."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- SanDisk vows: We'll have a 16TB SSD WHOPPER by 2016 @ The Register
- Google will kill Microsoft Silverlight in Chrome by disabling NPAPI plug-in @ The Inquirer
- Top 10 Linux Holiday Gifts for 2014 @ Linux.com
- TSMC to grab 40-50% of A9 chip orders @ DigiTimes
- Stop the IoT revolution! We need to figure out packet sizes first @ The Register