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Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Another Maxwell Iteration

The mainstream end of the graphics card market is about to get a bit more complicated with today’s introduction of the GeForce GTX 950. Based on a slightly cut down GM206 chip, the same used in the GeForce GTX 960 that was released almost 8 months ago, the new GTX 950 will fill a gap in the product stack for NVIDIA, resting right at $160-170 MSRP. Until today that next-down spot from the GTX 960 was filled by the GeForce GTX 750 Ti, the very first iteration of Maxwell (we usually call it Maxwell 1) that came out in February of 2014!

Even though that is a long time to go without refreshing the GTX x50 part of the lineup, NVIDIA was likely hesitant to do so based on the overwhelming success of the GM107 for mainstream gaming. It was low cost, incredibly efficient and didn’t require any external power to run. That led us down the path of upgrading OEM PCs with GTX 750 Ti, an article and video that still gets hundreds of views and dozens of comments a week.

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The GTX 950 has some pretty big shoes to fill. I can tell you right now that it uses more power than the GTX 750 Ti, and it requires a 6-pin power connector, but it does so while increasing gaming performance dramatically. The primary competition from AMD is the Radeon R7 370, a Pitcairn GPU that is long in the tooth and missing many of the features that Maxwell provides.

And NVIDIA is taking a secondary angle with the GTX 950 launch –targeting the MOBA players (DOTA 2 in particular) directly and aggressively. With the success of this style of game over the last several years, and the impressive $18M+ purse for the largest DOTA 2 tournament just behind us, there isn’t a better area of PC gaming to be going after today. But are the tweaks and changes to the card and software really going to make a difference for MOBA gamers or is it just marketing fluff?

Let’s dive into everything GeForce GTX 950!

Continue reading our review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950 2GB Graphics Card!!

IDF 2015: OCZ RevoDrive 400 PCIe NVMe Spotted in HHHL and M.2 Packaging

Subject: Storage | August 19, 2015 - 09:41 PM |
Tagged: IDF 2015, ocz, revodrive, RevoDrive 400, M.2, HHHL, pcie, NVMe, ssd

While roaming around at IDF, Ryan spotted a couple of new OCZ parts that were strangely absent from Flash Memory Summit:

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You are looking at what is basically a Toshiba NVMe PCIe controller and flash, tuned for consumer applications and packaged/branded by OCZ. The only specific we know about it is that the scheduled release is in the November time frame. No specifics on performance yet but it should easily surpass any SATA SSD, but might fall short of the quad-controller-RAID RevoDrive 350 in sequentials.

As far as NVMe PCIe SSDs go, I'm happy to see more and more appearing on the market from every possible direction. It can only mean good things as it will push motherboard makers to perfect their UEFI boot compatibility sooner rather than later.

More to come on the RevoDrive 400 as November is just around the corner!

IDF 2015: Updated: Kingston NVMe PCIe Prototype Shown With New Phison E7 Controller

Subject: Storage | August 19, 2015 - 09:26 PM |
Tagged: ssd, pcie, NVMe, kingston, IDF 2015

**Edit** There was some speculation about which controller was in this SSD. It has since been solved. Here's a shot of the top of the PCB:

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Now lets compare that with a shot I caught at FMS 2015 last week:

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...from the Phison booth. I hadn't wirtten up my Phison post yet but this new Kingston SSD is most certainly going to be using the Phison E7 controller. Here's the placard stating some high level specs:

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***end edit***

We saw a draft copy of Kingston’s HyperX Predator at CES 2014. That demo unit was equipped with a SandForce 3700 series controller, but since SandForce never came through on that part, Kingston had to switch gears and introduce the HyperX Predator with a Marvell 88SS9293 controller. The Marvell part was very capable, and the HyperX Predator turned out to be an attractive and performant PCIe SSD. The one catch was that Marvell’s controller was only an AHCI part, while newer NVMe-based SSDs were quickly pushing the Predator down in our performance results.

Kingston’s solution is a newer generation PCIe SSD, this time equipped with NVMe:

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We have very little additional information about this new part, though we can tell from the above image that the flash was provided by Toshiba (toggle mode). They also had Iometer running:

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We were not sure of the exact workload being run, but those results are in line with the specs we saw listed on Silicon Motion’s SM2260, seen last week at Flash Memory Summit.

We’ll keep track of the development of this new part and hope to see it in a more disclosed form at CES 2016. Kingston's IDF 2015 press blast appears after the break.

Source: Kingston

Intel (Allegedly) Plans DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync

Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | August 19, 2015 - 08:03 PM |
Tagged: Intel, freesync, DisplayPort, adaptive sync

DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync is a VESA standard, pushed by AMD, that allows input signals to control when a monitor refreshes. A normal monitor redraws on a defined interval because old CRT monitors needed to scan with an electron gun, and this took time. LCDs never needed to, but they did. This process meant that the monitor was drawing a frame whether it was ready or not, which led to tearing, stutter, and other nasty effects if the GPU couldn't keep up. With Adaptive-Sync, GPUs don't “miss the train” -- the train leaves when they board.

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Intel has, according to The Tech Report, decided to support Adaptive-Sync -- but not necessarily in their current product line. David Blythe of Intel would not comment on specific dates or release windows, just that it is in their plans. This makes sense for Intel because it allows their customers to push settings higher while maintaining a smooth experience, which matters a lot for users of integrated graphics.

While “AMD FreeSync” is a stack of technologies, VESA DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync should be all that is required on the monitor side. This should mean that Intel has access to all of AMD's adaptive refresh monitors, although the driver and GPU circuitry would need to be their burden. G-Sync monitors (at least those with NVIDIA-design modules -- this is currently all of them except for one laptop I think) would be off limits, though.

Interesting Breakdown of OLD Computer Graphics

Subject: General Tech | August 19, 2015 - 07:07 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming

While just the first episode has been released, The iBook Guy is creating a series of videos that explains the limitations of “oldschool” graphics. When you have just a handful of kilobytes of RAM, it is impossible to even store a full-quality frame buffer that the TV requires, which means that something will need to be thrown away.

The first video talks about adding color to frames with tiling and sprites. Using just ~1K of RAM, software developers were able to define background colors on a tile-by-tile basis. This allowed “black and white” to be an arbitrary “foreground and background” combination, which could even vary from one tile to the next as long as each tile only used two colors. This concept is expanded on to allow four colors per tile at a slight reduction in resolution. The video then goes into sprites, and how they are used for movable actors atop the tiles.

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Image Credit: The iBook Guy

I don't know when Part 2 will be published, but it seems like they release about once per week.

Mod Tools for The Witcher 3 Released

Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2015 - 08:44 PM |
Tagged: The Witcher 3, CD Projekt RED

As CD Projekt Red promised before the game launched, The Witcher 3 received mod tools last week. This was done in partnership with Nexus Mods, allowing users to install and configure user content using the Nexus Mod Manager. Note that this only applies to mods that were created with the official mod kit, not any arbitrary mod that has been created since release.

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CD Projekt Red has also provided four simple samples (serves you right for trying to read my news posts aloud) as a tutorial. “Witcher The Slav” retextures “Geralt's starting outfit”. “Fabulous Roach” modifies the meshes and textures that make up Geralt's horse. “Petard sWitcher”, and the more mundanely named Custom Equipment Sets Mod, each introduces game scripting concepts.

Go forth and mod.

Source: CD Projekt

Microsoft Publishes Build 10525 to Fast Ring Insiders

Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2015 - 08:24 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

Almost exactly a month ago, Windows 10 Build 10240 was released to both Fast and Slow. This build served as the milestone for an everyperson's operating system, and it gave OEMs something to validate drivers and software against. According to BuildFeed, the first known branches at that build number were compiled on July 9th.

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Today, Windows Insiders on the Fast ring will receive Build 10525 when they next perform a Windows Update. This build was first compiled last week on August 12th, and it represents the first published milestone of the TH2 branch. It contains two new (advertised) features: extra color options for Windows UI elements and improvements to Windows 10 memory management.

I'll talk about Memory Manager first.

As Windows 10 builds were released, there was one where I noticed the System process begun to use a significant amount of RAM -- a whole gigabyte or two. I figured that this was a memory leak that would be fixed in a later build, so I put up with it. Some time later, I noticed that its usage would actually go up and down as I open or close applications. It was also never “fixed” before release.

It turns out that it was an intended feature.

When operating systems decide that a chunk of memory is unlikely to be used, they tend to push them to the hard drive. This could be an application that has been minimized for a while, or portions that were displaced by a big, RAM-hungry program. You will often see this when you switch programs. Sometimes, there's a program that's already open, albeit minimized, but it still takes a few seconds to pop up. This behavior is often because it was pushed out of system memory and Windows (or Mac, Linux, and so forth) wasn't prepared to abruptly fetch it again.

Now, system memory is big and cheap, and Windows is being installed on devices with small banks of flash storage and relatively fast processors. Microsoft now believes that it makes sense to cram old chunks of memory into a container, which resides in RAM, that is compressed (as opposed to just dumping it onto permanent storage). This occurs in the system process, which explains why it tends to inflate when you're doing a lot of things at once.

Build 10525 tweaks this feature a bit in undescribed ways. I could imagine that Microsoft cut development in the public branches to make it robust for Windows 10's launch. They now have an opportunity to point Insiders to the less tested branches.

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I think this is interesting, and could make a lot of sense if they successfully manage data into their most efficient storage locations. I do notice that System tends to get large even when a lot of RAM is still available. For instance, I have 55% of my memory unallocated at this point, but System is about 1.2 GB large. There could be very good reasons for this, which might be something that my operating system would know better than I, but it might also be a sign that it's slightly over-aggressive. Maybe my system could benefit from a big, contiguous chunk of available memory, or maybe my PC is being unreasonably taxed. Who knows.

The other major feature is color management. While the three displayed toggles are available in 10240, the user is apparently now able to adjust more colors. Without installing 10525, I cannot figure out what those changes are, but Microsoft asserts that they're there.

If you register as a Windows Insider Fast Ring user, you can now receive 10525.

Source: Microsoft
Author:
Manufacturer: Intel

Core and Interconnect

The Skylake architecture is Intel’s first to get a full release on the desktop in more than two years. While that might not seem like a long time in the grand scheme of technology, for our readers and viewers that is a noticeable change and shift from recent history that Intel has created with the tick-tock model of releases. Yes, Broadwell was released last year and was solid product, but Intel focused almost exclusively on the mobile platforms (notebooks and tablets) with it. Skylake will be much more ubiquitous and much more quickly than even Haswell.

Skylake represents Intel’s most scalable architecture to date. I don’t mean only frequency scaling, though that is an important part of this design, but rather in terms of market segment scaling. Thanks to brilliant engineering and design from Intel’s Israeli group Intel will be launching Skylake designs ranging from 4.5 watt TDP Core M solutions all the way up to the 91 watt desktop processors that we have already reviewed in the Core i7-6700K. That’s a range that we really haven’t seen before and in the past Intel has depended on the Atom architecture to make up ground on the lowest power platforms. While I don’t know for sure if Atom is finally trending towards the dodo once Skylake’s reign is fully implemented, it does make me wonder how much life is left there.

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Scalability also refers to the package size – something that ensures that the designs the engineers created can actually be built and run in the platform segments they are targeting. Starting with the desktop designs for LGA platforms (DIY market) that fits on a 1400 mm2 design on the 91 watt TDP implementation Intel is scaling all the way down to 330 mm2 in a BGA1515 package for the 4.5 watt TDP designs. Only with a total product size like that can you hope to get Skylake in a form factor like the Compute Stick – which is exactly what Intel is doing. And note that the smaller packages require the inclusion of the platform IO chip as well, something that H- and S-series CPUs can depend on the motherboard to integrate.

Finally, scalability will also include performance scaling. Clearly the 4.5 watt part will not offer the user the same performance with the same goals as the 91 watt Core i7-6700K. The screen resolution, attached accessories and target applications allow Intel to be selective about how much power they require for each series of Skylake CPUs.

Core Microarchitecture

The fundamental design theory in Skylake is very similar to what exists today in Broadwell and Haswell with a handful of significant and hundreds of minor change that make Skylake a large step ahead of previous designs.

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This slide from Julius Mandelblat, Intel Senior Principle Engineer, shows a higher level overview of the entirety of the consumer integration of Skylake. You can see that Intel’s goals included a bigger and wider core design, higher frequency, improved right architecture and fabric design and more options for eDRAM integration. Readers of PC Perspective will already know that Skylake supports both DDR3L and DDR4 memory technologies but the inclusion of the camera ISP is new information for us.

Continue reading our overview of the Intel Skylake microarchitecture!!

It has been a while since we saw a new XFX PSU

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 18, 2015 - 03:31 PM |
Tagged: modular psu, xfx, XTR series, 550W

The XFX XTR 550W uses the Seasonic G-Series platform, a very popular choice for PSU sellers recently, with few tweaks to the overall design.  The PSU is cooled by a 135mm fan and comes with two modified 8-pin PCIe connectors, six Molex connectors, and eight SATA connectors, all of which are modular.  [H]ard|OCP strapped it into their torture room and fired it up for testing; the results of which, along with the reasonable pricing, resulted in this PSU picking up a Silver Award.  Check out the specifics right here.

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"XFX comes to us today with its new XTR series power supply weighing in at 550 watts. XFX is promoting "Super Efficiency and Quality Components," "Extreme Heat Tested Capacitors," and a "True Wattage Guarantee" that touts full power at above 50C operating temperatures. Sounds exactly like our kind of PSU!"

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

CASES & COOLING

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

IDF 2015: Intel Launches Optane Technology - XPoint for Everyone!

Subject: Storage | August 18, 2015 - 02:20 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, ssd, Optane, Intel, IDF 2015

Just three weeks ago, we reported 3D XPoint Technology. This was a 2-layer stack of non-volatile memory that couples the data retention of NAND flash memory with speeds much closer to that of DRAM.

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The big question at that time was less about the tech and more about its practical applications. Ryan is out covering IDF, and he just saw the first publically announced application by Intel:

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Intel Optane Technology is Intel’s term for how they are going to incorporate XPoint memory dies into the devices we use today. They intend to start with datacenter storage and work their way down to ultrabooks, which means that XPoint must come in at a cost/GB closer to NAND than to DRAM. For those asking specific performance figures after our earlier announcement, here are a couple of performance comparisons between an SSD DC P3700 and a prototype SSD using XPoint:

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At QD=8, the XPoint equipped prototype comes in at 5x the performance of the P3700. The bigger question is how about QD=1 performance, as XPoint is supposed to be far less latent than NAND?

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Yes, you read that correctly, that’s 76k IOPS at QD=1. That means only issuing the SSD one command at a time, waiting for a reply, and only then issuing another command. Basically the worst case for SSD performance, as no commands are stacked up in the queue to enable parallelism to kick in and increase overall throughput. For comparison, SATA SSDs have a hard time maintaining that figure at their maximum queue depths of 32.

Exciting to see a follow-on announcement so quickly after the announcement of the technology itself, but remember that Intel did state ‘2016’ for these to start appearing, so don’t put off that SSD 750 purchase just yet.

More to follow as we continue our coverage of IDF 2015!

Tt eSPORTS updated BLACK V2 Gaming Mouse

Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2015 - 02:18 PM |
Tagged: input, gaming mouse, thermaltake esports, black v2

The new Black V2 has the high quality OMRON switches common to gaming mice and has been upgraded to use an AVAGO laser sensor which allows you to increment your sensitivity in 100DPI increments up to 5700 DPI.  It sports 7 programmable buttons all of which can be set to send macros, a total of 35 programmable macros across 5 profiles using the included software.  The LEDs which illuminate the logo and indicate the current DPI sensitivity level can be turned on or off and apparently will change depending on how fast you are clicking if you enable Battle Mode.  Five 4.5g weights allow you to modify how the mouse feels in your hand, not a bad set of features for a mouse under $60Check out Mad Shrimps' full review to see what they thought of the Black V2.

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"During our time with the Black V2, the product seemed quite responsive and comfortable, while the extra buttons can be accessed easily when in-game. The mouse was tested in multiple game genres and here we could count League of Legends, Echo of Soul, The Talos Principle, Serious Sam BFE but also GTA V; thanks to the new AVAGO sensor, the experience was accurate and if we feel that the default DPI steps are not for us in the current game, we can easily reconfigure them from the supplied application."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Mad Shrimps

Move over Twinkies and cockroaches; meet the unkillable cookie

Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2015 - 01:11 PM |
Tagged: super cookie, security

Congratulations, if you use Verizon, AT&T, Bell Canada, Bharti Airtel, Cricket, Telefonica de Espantilde;a, Viettel Peru S.a.c., Vodafone NL or Vodafone Spain as your provider your browsing is being tracked and there is nothing you can do about it.  These providers have assigned your device a unique token which the provider injects into every HTTP request your device makes, the cookie is actually external to your device and so you have no way to remove it.  You will see targeted ads based on your browsing no matter how many times you remove cookies or even factory reset your phone.  Verizon has now made it an opt-out feature and The Register has been told that AT&T no longer injects the 'super cookie' into headers but based on businesses recent behaviour it is probably because they have found a better way to track you.

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"At least nine telcos around the world are using so-called super-cookies to secretly monitor citizens' online behavior, according to a new study."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Lian Li and ASUS ROG Create Mini-ITX Gaming Enclosure

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 18, 2015 - 12:26 PM |
Tagged: Lian Li, ASUS ROG, mini-itx, enclosure, case, gaming

Lian Li has announced a new mini-ITX enclosure featuring ASUS ROG branding, and this compact gaming case supports full size power supplies and larger liquid coolers, though not everything will fit inside this tiny enclosure.

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There are more than a couple of similarities to the NCASE M1, that crowdfunded mini-ITX enclosure that Lian Li built for NCASE, but the PC-Q17 doesn’t support dual-width liquid coolers the same way. Part of this has to do with the side window in this new case, essential to show off your diminutive gaming rig. So where does that 240mm radiator fit?

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Not everyone will like having the cooler outside of the enclosure, but it’s nice that the case offers this functionality without having to modify it should you desire this level of CPU (or in the case of an AMD Fury X, GPU) cooling. For many a smaller air cooler could suffice, and as we can see from this build photo it does look very nice housing a complete system.

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As usual no pricing or availability information accompanies this announcement.

Source: TechPowerUp

Western Digital Launches 5TB and 6TB Black and Red Pro

Subject: Storage | August 18, 2015 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, Red Pro, hdd, Black, 6tb

It's been a while since Western Digital updated their Black series of HDDs, with their 4TB release taking place over two years ago. I'm happy to say that for those looking for a massive HDD suited for holding that enormous games folder too large to fit on your SSD, your wait is finally over, as today WD has updated the Black line to include 5TB and 6TB capacity units.

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The Black series introduced that nifty dual stage actuator technology nearly five years ago, and has added a few more bells and whistles along the way. These new models include a 128MB cache and run on dual-core processors.

Along with that news also comes an update to their Red Pro series, which was also limited to 4TB in capacity when they launched last year. Red Pro models will now also include 5TB and 6TB units, so those wanting the most performance and lowest response time from their NAS can now also enjoy that performance at a 50% gain in capacity.

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The new 6TB Red Pro also includes a 128MB cache and can peak at 214MB/sec (at the start of the disk). Also included in these is WD's NASware 3.0 firmware, which is specifically tuned to enable packs of these operating in packs while minimizing the effects of vibration on performance.

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The 5TB Black comes in at $264 while the 6TB comes in at $294. The Red Pro's come at only an additional $5 over the Black, respectively (small price to pay for better compatibility with larger arrays). Both the Red Pro and Black carry a 5-year warranty.

Press blasts for the 5/6TB Black and Red Pro appear after the break.

It wouldn't hurt to take another look at the ASUS MG279Q

Subject: Displays | August 17, 2015 - 05:07 PM |
Tagged: video, monitor, mg279q, lcd, ips, freesync, display, asus, 90Hz, 2560x1440, 144hz, 1440p

The response to Al's review of the ASUS MG279Q was, to be polite, somewhat energetic.  While not much was learned a lot of opinions were voiced and occasionally they were even on topic.  The Tech Report, not dissuaded by the response just posted a 10 minute video offering their thoughts on the new Freesync technology in general and this monitor specifically.  The Closed Caption feature offers some rather amusing translations of what is being said but you should pay attention to what is actually being said as the video offers a good overview of what FreeSync is.

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"Asus' MG279Q is a 27" FreeSync monitor with a 144Hz, 2560x1440 IPS panel for an appealing price. Our own Gyromancer, Nathan Wasson, has spent some quality time with the MG279Q, and he's collected his impressions in video form."

Here are some more Display articles from around the web:

Displays

Author:
Manufacturer: Stardock

Benchmark Overview

I knew that the move to DirectX 12 was going to be a big shift for the industry. Since the introduction of the AMD Mantle API along with the Hawaii GPU architecture we have been inundated with game developers and hardware vendors talking about the potential benefits of lower level APIs, which give more direct access to GPU hardware and enable more flexible threading for CPUs to game developers and game engines. The results, we were told, would mean that your current hardware would be able to take you further and future games and applications would be able to fundamentally change how they are built to enhance gaming experiences tremendously.

I knew that the reader interest in DX12 was outstripping my expectations when I did a live blog of the official DX12 unveil by Microsoft at GDC. In a format that consisted simply of my text commentary and photos of the slides that were being shown (no video at all), we had more than 25,000 live readers that stayed engaged the whole time. Comments and questions flew into the event – more than me or my staff could possible handle in real time. It turned out that gamers were indeed very much interested in what DirectX 12 might offer them with the release of Windows 10.

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Today we are taking a look at the first real world gaming benchmark that utilized DX12. Back in March I was able to do some early testing with an API-specific test that evaluates the overhead implications of DX12, DX11 and even AMD Mantle from Futuremark and 3DMark. This first look at DX12 was interesting and painted an amazing picture about the potential benefits of the new API from Microsoft, but it wasn’t built on a real game engine. In our Ashes of the Singularity benchmark testing today, we finally get an early look at what a real implementation of DX12 looks like.

And as you might expect, not only are the results interesting, but there is a significant amount of created controversy about what those results actually tell us. AMD has one story, NVIDIA another and Stardock and the Nitrous engine developers, yet another. It’s all incredibly intriguing.

Continue reading our analysis of the Ashes of the Singularity DX12 benchmark!!

Author:
Manufacturer: Intel

It comes after 8, but before 10

As the week of Intel’s Developer Forum (IDF) begins, you can expect to see a lot of information about Intel’s 6th Generation Core architecture, codenamed Skylake, finally revealed. When I posted my review of the Core i7-6700K, the first product based on that architecture to be released in any capacity, I was surprised that Intel was willing to ship product without the normal amount of background information for media and developers. Rather than give us the details and then ship product, which has happened for essentially every consumer product release I have been a part of, Intel did the reverse: ship a consumer friendly CPU and then promise to tell us how it all works later in the month at IDF.

Today I came across a document posted on Intel’s website that dives into very specific detail on the new Gen9 graphics and compute architecture of Skylake. Details on the Core architecture changes are not present, and instead we are given details on how the traditional GPU portion of the SoC has changed. To be clear: I haven’t had any formal briefing from Intel on this topic or anything surrounding the architecture of Skylake or the new Gen9 graphics system but I wanted to share the details we found available. I am sure we’ll learn more this week as IDF progresses so I will update this story where necessary.

What Intel calls Processor Graphics is what we used to call simply integrated graphics for the longest time. The purpose and role of processor graphics has changed drastically over the years and it is now not only responsible for 3D graphics rendering but compute, media and display capabilities of the Intel Skylake SoC (when discrete add-in graphics is not used). The architecture document used to source this story focuses on Gen9 graphics, the compute architecture utilized in the latest Skylake CPUs. The Intel HD Graphics 530 on the Core i7-6700K / Core i5-6600K is the first product released and announced using Gen9 graphics and is also the first to adopt Intel’s new 3-digit naming scheme.

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This die shot of the Core i7-6700K shows the increased size and prominence of the Gen9 graphics in the overall SoC design. Containing four traditional x86 CPU cores and 1 “slice” implementation of Gen9 graphics (with three visible sub-slices we’ll describe below), this is not likely to be the highest performing iteration of the latest Intel HD Graphics technology.

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Like the Intel processors before it, the Skylake design utilizes a ring bus architecture to connect the different components of the SoC. This bi-directional interconnect has a 32-byte wide data bus and connects to multiple “agents” on the CPU. Each individual CPU core is considered its own agent while the Gen9 compute architecture is considered one complete agent. The system agent bundles the DRAM memory, the display controller, PCI Express and other I/O interface that communicate with the rest of the PC. Any off-chip memory requests and transactions occur through this bus while on-chip data transfers tend to be handled differently.

Continue reading our look at the new Gen9 graphics and compute architecture on Skylake!!

How many new machines shipped with Windows 10?

Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2015 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, sales

With the humorously tight margin between the release of the Windows RTM and the release date for the rest of the world it is not surprising that new laptops and desktops were not available with Windows 10 installed.  All that changed the next week when there were actual machines available of which some were even purchased.  According to the information given to The Register there were 150 machines sold in Europe and while they did not have exact numbers for the North American market it is not going to be significantly different.  It looks like the new OS is not bringing the large surge in PC sales that companies were hoping for immediately, perhaps as more systems become available with new hardware we will start to see the increase.

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"No PCs pre-loaded with Windows 10 made their way into distributors’ warehouses in the week before launch of the OS – but by golly, they did in seven days after the 'big event'."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Overall GPU Shipments Down from Last Year, PC Industry Drops 10%

Subject: Graphics Cards, Systems | August 17, 2015 - 11:00 AM |
Tagged: NPD, gpu, discrete gpu, graphics, marketshare, PC industry

News from NPD Research today shows a sharp decline in discrete graphics shipments from all major vendors. Not great news for the PC industry, but not all that surprising, either.

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These numbers don’t indicate a lack of discrete GPU interest in the PC enthusiast community of course, but certainly show how the mainstream market has changed. OEM laptop and (more recently) desktop makers predominantly use processor graphics from Intel and AMD APUs, though the decrease of over 7% for Intel GPUs suggests a decline in PC shipments overall.

Here are the highlights, quoted directly from NPD Research:

  • AMD's overall unit shipments decreased -25.82% quarter-to-quarter, Intel's total shipments decreased -7.39% from last quarter, and Nvidia's decreased -16.19%.
  • The attach rate of GPUs (includes integrated and discrete GPUs) to PCs for the quarter was 137% which was down -10.82% from last quarter, and 26.43% of PCs had discrete GPUs, which is down -4.15%.
  • The overall PC market decreased -4.05% quarter-to-quarter, and decreased -10.40% year-to-year.
  • Desktop graphics add-in boards (AIBs) that use discrete GPUs decreased -16.81% from last quarter.

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An overall decrease of 10.4 % year-to-year indicates what I'll call the continuing evolution of the PC (rather than a decline, per se), and shows how many have come to depend on smartphones for the basic computing tasks (email, web browsing) that once required a PC. Tablets didn’t replace the PC in the way that was predicted only 5 years ago, and it’s almost become essential to pair a PC with a smartphone for a complete personal computing experience (sorry, tablets – we just don’t NEED you as much).

I would guess anyone reading this on a PC enthusiast site is not only using a PC, but probably one with discrete graphics, too. Or maybe you exclusively view our site on a tablet or smartphone? I for one won’t stop buying PC components until they just aren’t available anymore, and that dark day is probably still many years off.

Source: NPD Research

FMS 2015: Silicon Motion SM2260 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe Controller Spotted

Subject: Storage | August 14, 2015 - 04:44 PM |
Tagged: FMS 2015, silicon motion, SM2260, SM2256, SM2246EN, pcie, NVMe, ssd, controller

We’ve reviewed a few Silicon Motion SSDs in the past (Angelbird | Corsair Force LX | Crucial BX100), and I have always been impressed with their advances in SSD controller technology. Their SM2246EN SATA controller was launched two years ago, and strived to be a very efficient and performant unit. Based on our reviews that turned out to be true, and this allowed Silicon Motion to slide into the void left by SandForce, who repeatedly delayed their newer developments and forced the many companies who were sourcing their parts to look elsewhere.

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The many SSDs using Silicon Motion’s SM2246EN controller.

Silicon motion pushed this further with their SM2256, which we first saw at the 2014 Flash Memory Summit and later saw driving SLC/TLC hybrid flash at this past Consumer Electronics Show. While the SM2256 makes its way into more and more products, I was glad to see an important addition to their lineup at this year’s FMS:

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Finally we see Silicon Motion doing a PCIe controller! This is the SM2260, seen here in the M.2 form factor…

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…and here in SATA Express. While the latter will likely not be as popular due to the more limited PCIe lanes present in SATA Express, I’m sure we will see this controller appearing in many PCIe devices very soon. The stated performance figures may be a bit shy of currently comparing SSDs like the Intel SSD 750 and Samsung SM951, but with the recent introduction of Z170 motherboards and RST PCIe RAID, it is now easier to RAID a smaller capacity pair of these devices, increasing the performance of slower units. Further, the point of the SM2260 is likely to get a low cost NVMe PCIe SSD controller into the hands of SSD makers, which can only mean good things for those looking to make the move away from SATA.

I’ve included Silicon Motion’s FMS press blast after the break.