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Manufacturer: PC Percpective

Overview

We’ve been tracking NVIDIA’s G-Sync for quite a while now. The comments section on Ryan’s initial article erupted with questions, and many of those were answered in a follow-on interview with NVIDIA’s Tom Petersen. The idea was radical – do away with the traditional fixed refresh rate and only send a new frame to the display when it has just completed rendering by the GPU. There are many benefits here, but the short version is that you get the low-latency benefit of V-SYNC OFF gaming combined with the image quality (lack of tearing) that you would see if V-SYNC was ON. Despite the many benefits, there are some potential disadvantages that come from attempting to drive an LCD panel at varying periods of time, as opposed to the fixed intervals that have been the norm for over a decade.

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As the first round of samples came to us for review, the current leader appeared to be the ASUS ROG Swift. A G-Sync 144 Hz display at 1440P was sure to appeal to gamers who wanted faster response than the 4K 60 Hz G-Sync alternative was capable of. Due to what seemed to be large consumer demand, it has taken some time to get these panels into the hands of consumers. As our Storage Editor, I decided it was time to upgrade my home system, placed a pre-order, and waited with anticipation of finally being able to shift from my trusty Dell 3007WFP-HC to a large panel that can handle >2x the FPS.

Fast forward to last week. My pair of ROG Swifts arrived, and some other folks I knew had also received theirs. Before I could set mine up and get some quality gaming time in, my bro FifthDread and his wife both noted a very obvious flicker on their Swifts within the first few minutes of hooking them up. They reported the flicker during game loading screens and mid-game during background content loading occurring in some RTS titles. Prior to hearing from them, the most I had seen were some conflicting and contradictory reports on various forums (not limed to the Swift, though that is the earliest panel and would therefore see the majority of early reports), but now we had something more solid to go on. That night I fired up my own Swift and immediately got to doing what I do best – trying to break things. We have reproduced the issue and intend to demonstrate it in a measurable way, mostly to put some actual data out there to go along with those trying to describe something that is borderline perceptible for mere fractions of a second.

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First a bit of misnomer correction / foundation laying:

  • The ‘Screen refresh rate’ option you see in Windows Display Properties is actually a carryover from the CRT days. In terms of an LCD, it is the maximum rate at which a frame is output to the display. It is not representative of the frequency at which the LCD panel itself is refreshed by the display logic.
  • LCD panel pixels are periodically updated by a scan, typically from top to bottom. Newer / higher quality panels repeat this process at a rate higher than 60 Hz in order to reduce the ‘rolling shutter’ effect seen when panning scenes or windows across the screen.
  • In order to engineer faster responding pixels, manufacturers must deal with the side effect of faster pixel decay between refreshes. This is a balanced by increasing the frequency of scanning out to the panel.
  • The effect we are going to cover here has nothing to do with motion blur, LightBoost, backlight PWM, LightBoost combined with G-Sync (not currently a thing, even though Blur Busters has theorized on how it could work, their method would not work with how G-Sync is actually implemented today).

With all of that out of the way, let’s tackle what folks out there may be seeing on their own variable refresh rate displays. Based on our testing so far, the flicker only presented at times when a game enters a 'stalled' state. These are periods where you would see a split-second freeze in the action, like during a background level load during game play in some titles. It also appears during some game level load screens, but as those are normally static scenes, they would have gone unnoticed on fixed refresh rate panels. Since we were absolutely able to see that something was happening, we wanted to be able to catch it in the act and measure it, so we rooted around the lab and put together some gear to do so. It’s not a perfect solution by any means, but we only needed to observe differences between the smooth gaming and the ‘stalled state’ where the flicker was readily observable. Once the solder dust settled, we fired up a game that we knew could instantaneously swing from a high FPS (144) to a stalled state (0 FPS) and back again. As it turns out, EVE Online does this exact thing while taking an in-game screen shot, so we used that for our initial testing. Here’s what the brightness of a small segment of the ROG Swift does during this very event:

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Measured panel section brightness over time during a 'stall' event. Click to enlarge.

The relatively small ripple to the left and right of center demonstrate the panel output at just under 144 FPS. Panel redraw is in sync with the frames coming from the GPU at this rate. The center section, however, represents what takes place when the input from the GPU suddenly drops to zero. In the above case, the game briefly stalled, then resumed a few frames at 144, then stalled again for a much longer period of time. Completely stopping the panel refresh would result in all TN pixels bleeding towards white, so G-Sync has a built-in failsafe to prevent this by forcing a redraw every ~33 msec. What you are seeing are the pixels intermittently bleeding towards white and periodically being pulled back down to the appropriate brightness by a scan. The low latency panel used in the ROG Swift does this all of the time, but it is less noticeable at 144, as you can see on the left and right edges of the graph. An additional thing that’s happening here is an apparent rise in average brightness during the event. We are still researching the cause of this on our end, but this brightness increase certainly helps to draw attention to the flicker event, making it even more perceptible to those who might have not otherwise noticed it.

Some of you might be wondering why this same effect is not seen when a game drops to 30 FPS (or even lower) during the course of normal game play. While the original G-Sync upgrade kit implementation simply waited until 33 msec had passed until forcing an additional redraw, this introduced judder from 25-30 FPS. Based on our observations and testing, it appears that NVIDIA has corrected this in the retail G-Sync panels with an algorithm that intelligently re-scans at even multiples of the input frame rate in order to keep the redraw rate relatively high, and therefore keeping flicker imperceptible – even at very low continuous frame rates.

A few final points before we go:

  • This is not limited to the ROG Swift. All variable refresh panels we have tested (including 4K) see this effect to a more or less degree than reported here. Again, this only occurs when games instantaneously drop to 0 FPS, and not when those games dip into low frame rates in a continuous fashion.
  • The effect is less perceptible (both visually and with recorded data) at lower maximum refresh rate settings.
  • The effect is not present at fixed refresh rates (G-Sync disabled or with non G-Sync panels).

This post was primarily meant as a status update and to serve as something for G-Sync users to point to when attempting to explain the flicker they are perceiving. We will continue researching, collecting data, and coordinating with NVIDIA on this issue, and will report back once we have more to discuss.

During the research and drafting of this piece, we reached out to and worked with NVIDIA to discuss this issue. Here is their statement:

"All LCD pixel values relax after refreshing. As a result, the brightness value that is set during the LCD’s scanline update slowly relaxes until the next refresh.

This means all LCDs have some slight variation in brightness. In this case, lower frequency refreshes will appear slightly brighter than high frequency refreshes by 1 – 2%.

When games are running normally (i.e., not waiting at a load screen, nor a screen capture) - users will never see this slight variation in brightness value. In the rare cases where frame rates can plummet to very low levels, there is a very slight brightness variation (barely perceptible to the human eye), which disappears when normal operation resumes."

So there you have it. It's basically down to the physics of how an LCD panel works at varying refresh rates. While I agree that it is a rare occurrence, there are some games that present this scenario more frequently (and noticeably) than others. If you've noticed this effect in some games more than others, let us know in the comments section below. 

(Editor's Note: We are continuing to work with NVIDIA on this issue and hope to find a way to alleviate the flickering with either a hardware or software change in the future.)

Awake Yet? Good! Optimizing Inverse Trig for AMD GPUs.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 2, 2014 - 03:11 AM |
Tagged: amd, GCN, dice, frostbite

Inverse trigonometric functions are difficult to compute. Their use is often avoided like the plague. If, however, the value is absolutely necessary, it will probably be solved by approximations or, if possible, replacing them with easier functions by clever use of trig identities.

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If you want to see how the experts approach this problem, then Sébastien Lagarde, a senior developer of the Frostbite engine at DICE, goes into detail with a blog post. By detail, I mean you will see some GPU assembly being stepped through by the end of it. What makes this particularly interesting is the diagrams at the end, showing what each method outputs as represented by the shading of a sphere.

If you are feeling brave, take a look.

Broken Age: Act 2 Delayed Until 2015

Subject: General Tech | December 2, 2014 - 02:45 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, gaming, Tim Schafer, broken age

Tim Schafer and the rest of Double Fine set up a Kickstarter in early 2012 to fund a classic, LucasArts-style adventure game. After being funded over eight-fold more than they intended, they allowed the production to balloon and fit their new budget. This resulted in Act 1 being released in 2014, over a year later than their original deadline, with the second half (Act 2) coming later – expected in late 2014. Within the last couple of days, they announced that the release date has slipped into “early next year” (2015).

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This is one of the problems that a Kickstarter can face. There is definitely an instinct to supercharge an over-funded product, which could lead to delays, hiccups, and other problems. On the other hand, the extra money, and the public knowledge regarding how much extra, can raise the expectations of your audience – they might feel cheated if you fail to over-deliver. Beyond this, I have been told that it is very common for budgets to inflate over the course of regular development, something that you cannot really account for in advanced crowd-funding. Again, this may be wrong – it was what I expected but, of course, hoaxes prey on that.

Since the Kickstarter launched, Ron Gilbert left the company. I pout.

Broken Age: Act 2 will be released in early 2015 and conclude the Broken Age story as a free upgrade for everyone who paid for Act 1. This is nice but, while I could see an argument for Act 1 customers needing to purchase Act 2 in the era of Telltale episodic content, it only makes sense for at least Kickstarter backers to get the whole game. I mean, it was announced as a single title; it would be a supremely bad move to promise a full game and deliver a half of one (torn at an awkward point in the narrative no-less) only to ransom the second half a year later.

Thankfully, it will be free, not just for them, but for everyone who owns Act 1.

Source: PC Gamer

NZXT's H440,now with Razer on the front

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 1, 2014 - 05:18 PM |
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.

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"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:

CASES & COOLING

The MSI GTX 980 GAMING 4G and its fancy new fan

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 1, 2014 - 02:52 PM |
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.

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"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."

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Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Remember Google Glass?

Subject: General Tech | December 1, 2014 - 12:59 PM |
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.

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"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:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register
Author:
Manufacturer: MSI

Card Overview

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.

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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.

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Continue reading our review of the MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming graphics card!!

ASUS Announces GeForce GTX 970 DirectCU Mini: More Mini-ITX Gaming Goodness

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 29, 2014 - 09:57 AM |
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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

Do not throw this keyboard; it will survive, the target may not

Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2014 - 04:12 PM |
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.

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"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:

Tech Talk

Source: Modders Inc

Free Windows apps, since calling them programs is not cool anymore

Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2014 - 12:50 PM |
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.

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"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:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Telltale's Game of Thrones Launches December 2nd

Subject: General Tech | November 28, 2014 - 04:27 AM |
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.

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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.

Source: PC Gamer

Windows 10 Will Support Many New Codecs Natively

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 10:20 PM |
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).

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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.

Source: PC Gamer

Uplay Black Friday Sale: Buy One, Get One Free

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 10:03 PM |
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).

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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
  • Watch_Dogs
  • 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.

Source: Ubisoft

Microsoft and Yahoo Want to Be Apple's Default Search

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 09:29 PM |
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?

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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.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Chooses IBM and NVIDIA for Two Supercomputers, Summit and Sierra

Subject: General Tech, Systems | November 27, 2014 - 08:53 PM |
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.

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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.

Source: Anandtech

Only 1920x1080 or better need apply

Subject: Mobile | November 27, 2014 - 05:35 PM |
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.

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"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."

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Mobile

Source: The Register

Well done virtual 7.1 surround from Corsair's H1500

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 04:01 PM |
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.

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"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."

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Audio Corner

Need extra storage space for Thanksgiving?

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 02:20 PM |
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.

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"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."

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Tech Talk

Torchlight Free on Arc Client

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 04:34 AM |
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.

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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.

Source: Arc

Windows 10 Could Actually Be Windows 10.0

Subject: General Tech | November 27, 2014 - 04:17 AM |
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.

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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.

Source: Ars Technica