Subject: Graphics Cards | October 2, 2014 - 04:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, GTX 970 GAMING 4G, factory overclocked
It is sadly out of stock on both NewEgg and Amazon right now but MSI's $350 GTX 970 GAMING 4G is an incredible buy and worth waiting for. The factory overclock already set up on this card is quite nice, a Core rated at 1140/1279MHz which [H]ard|OCP actually observed hit as high as 1366MHz until they overclocked it and hit 1542MHz before the 110% GPU power limitation ended their fun. It would seem that the card is capable of more, if only you were not prevented from feeding it more than that extra 10%. The card was already beating the 780 Ti and R8 290 before the overclock but you should read the full review to see what happened once they tested it at the full speed.
"The MSI GeForce GTX 970 GAMING 4G video card is making the GeForce GTX 780 and AMD Radeon R9 290 obsolete. This $349 video card puts up a fight and punches in a win at this price. The overclock alone is somewhat staggering. If you are about to spend money on a GPU, don't miss this one."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 SLI @ techPowerUp
- Asus GTX980 Strix OC 2 Kitguru
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980: The Best GPU For Linux Gamers @ Phoronix
- NVIDIA Starting To Sign/Validate GPU Firmware Images @ Phoronix
- NZXT Kraken G10 Liquid GPU Cooling Bracket @ Kitguru
- XFX R7 250E Review @ OCC
- XFX R7 250E Core Edition Review @ Neoseeker
Installation and Overview
While once a very popular way to cool your PC, the art of custom water loops tapered off in the early 2000s as the benefits of better cooling, and overclocking in general, met with diminished returns. In its place grew a host of companies offering closed loop system, individually sealed coolers for processors and even graphics cards that offered some of the benefits of standard water cooling (noise, performance) without the hassle of setting up a water cooling configuration manually.
A bit of a resurgence has occurred in the last year or two though where the art and styling provided by custom water loop cooling is starting to reassert itself into the PC enthusiast mindset. Some companies never left (EVGA being one of them), but it appears that many of the users are returning to it. Consider me part of that crowd.
During a live stream we held with EVGA's Jacob Freeman, the very first prototype of the EVGA Hydro Copper was shown and discussed. Lucky for us, I was able to coerce Jacob into leaving the water block with me for a few days to do some of our testing and see just how much capability we could pull out of the GM204 GPU and a GeForce GTX 980.
Our performance preview today will look at the water block itself, installation, performance and temperature control. Keep in mind that this is a very early prototype, the first one to make its way to US shores. There will definitely be some changes and updates (in both the hardware and the software support for overclocking) before final release in mid to late October. Should you consider this ~$150 Hydro Copper water block for your GTX 980?
Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2014 - 02:05 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: X99 Classified, X99, video, tlc, tegra k1, ssd, Samsung, podcast, nvidia, micron, M600, iphone 6, g-sync, freesync, evga, broadwell-u, Broadwell, arm, apple, amd, adaptive sync, a8, 840 evo, 840
PC Perspective Podcast #320 - 10/02/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the Micron M600 SSD, NVIDIA and Adaptive Sync, Windows 10 and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:27:21
Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2014 - 01:10 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: blackberry, passport, snapdragon 801
Inside the new Blackberry Passport is a quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 3GB RAM, 32GB internal storage, NFC, microUSB port and the impressive 4.5" 1440 x 1440 IPS touchscreen. This phone is squarely aimed at the business user who does not consider the lack of apps and comparably poor video and gaming performance to be a negative and is far more interested in being able to read a document without scrolling. Apart from the form factor the interface will be familiar to BB users, the Blackberry 10.3 OS has been available to users for a while now but the battery life will impress you as The Inquirer reports using the Passport for 2 days straight without charging, something the Z10 and Q10 are not capable of. Read more here or scroll down to see what else is up in the mobile world.
"THE BLACKBERRY PASSPORT is the Canadian phonemaker's comeback smartphone, and the firm is hoping the handset's "innovative" design will convince corporate buyers to ditch their Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy handsets."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- DOOGEE DAGGER DG550 Smartphone Review [GearBest] @ Madshrimps
- Sony Xperia T3 Smartphone Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Sony Xperia Z3 @ The Inquirer
- iPhone 6 vs Galaxy S5 @ The Inquirer
- MSI GT70 2PE Dominator Pro Laptop Review @ Hardware Secrets
Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2014 - 12:37 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Mbed OS, arm, iot, cortex-m, Mbed Device Server
ARM is serious about staking their turf in the Internet of Things, there will soon be an Mbed OS custom built for their Cortex-M lineup of processors which will pair with an Mbed Device Server to manage clients and process data. The main focus is on low power communications technology as one would expect, with support for Bluetooth Smart, 2G, 3G, LTE and CDMA cellular technologies, Thread, WiFi, and 802.15.4/6LoWPAN along with TLS/DTLS, CoAP, HTTP, MQTT and Lightweight M2M. The project is not new either, according to what ARM told The Inquirer the Mbed community already has over 70,000 developers actively participating or designing products on this platform and there is a long list of partners for Mbed listed in that article. The real focus in many minds is not so much on the current adoption of the Mbed OS, but in how much time will be spent on their second claim, security. There is a lot of doomsday scenarios being tossed around as the IoT starts to come of age, many are farcically incorrect but there are very real concerns as well.
"Called the Mbed IoT Device Platform, the software is primarily an operating system (OS) built around open standards that claims to "bring Internet protocols, security and standards-based manageability into one integrated tool" in order to save money and energy in making IoT devices."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft rolls out SMB rental tariffs for Microsoft Office 365 @ The Inquirer
- New Wintel platforms may impact 4Q14 PC demand @ DigiTimes
- Applied Micro: Get lost, PowerPC! We're flinging 64-bit ARM HeliX cores at robots next year @ The Register
- Meet AMD's pole-dancing 64-bit ARM chip: Hierofalcon wants to be in a mast near you @ The Register
- Windows 10: One for the suits, right Microsoft? Or so one THOUGHT @ The Register
- The Unpatchable Malware That Infects USBs Is Now on the Loose @ Wired
- Fight cancer and win a GTX Titan Black at Bjorn3d
Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2014 - 08:07 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Adobe, photoshop, cloud
The Creative Cloud subscription service from Adobe allows users to pay a monthly fee to have access to one or every available product. This ranges from Photoshop, to Illustrator, to After Effects, to Audition, to Dreamweaver. This one subscription follows you, via your Adobe account, through every platform... that they support. Currently, that's Mac and Windows.
To expand that, they are now experimenting with a streaming service, bringing Photoshop to Chrome.
How it works is simple: send Currently, it is limited to Google Chrome on Windows and ChromeOS. Also, the servers do not currently support GPU-acceleration, but Adobe has already announced plans for that in the future. I assume that when this is a consumer product, or shortly thereafter, it will be a fully-featured application. Who knows, maybe they will even bring the rest of their products there? "Streaming access to Photoshop with other products coming soon" ...
People may remember that I was very much against services like OnLive and Gaikai. These do the same thing as Adobe, but for video games. Being an outspoken (to the say least) supporter of art, I found this to be an unacceptable sacrifice for intrinsically valuable content. It is a terrible idea to allow a service to pull your content and replace it, especially for scholarly review in the future.
This is different. While I would always prefer a local application, and would be upset if they stopped offering those, I do not mind having a utility be served from a virtualized instance. If I was working on serious, trade-secret-level content, then I would want to avoid it. On the other hand, getting it to work in one web browser might encourage them to bring the service to all browsers.
From there, Linux and other platforms might just have a valid way to access Adobe's Suite.
Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2014 - 07:31 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: steelseries, siberia, siberia v3, prism, headphones, headset, gaming headset
My last headset was a SteelSeries Siberia V2 and it served me well. The headband was snug, in a good way, against my head and the ear cups were comfortable. Both the headphones and the microphone sounded great from my subjective listening. It died after about a year and a half, though (specifically its right speaker). Still, again, it served me well, especially considering how much usage they saw on any given day.
Now they announced a new family with four siblings, ranging from $60 up to $200 (USD).
Starting with the cheapest, the Siberia Raw Prism, we have a USB headset with a colorful glow. It has a microphone built into the left ear cup. Unlike the rest of the Siberia line (and the Siberia V2), the mic is not retractable. You cannot extend and position it in front of your mouth. It is USB-only for Windows, Mac, and PlayStation. This USB powers and controls the aforementioned "colorful glow" through their drivers, customizable to 16.8 million colors. It has a $59.99 MSRP.
The next level up is the true successor to the V2, the Siberia V3. The price jumps quite a bit, to $99.99 MSRP. Like the V2, it has a retractable microphone and a snug-fitting internal headband. Also like the V2, it has two 3.5mm plugs when used with the included three-ring 3.5mm to dual 3.5mm (one headphone, one mic) plug adapter. No USB support though, at least not without an external sound card.
Which brings us to the SteelSeries V3 Prism, with an MSRP of $139.99. Instead of 3.5mm, it uses USB. I mean, how else will you control the 16.8 million colors, like the Raw. Unlike the Raw, it is a series of dots rather than a thin, circular strip. It also has a better microphone than the regular V3 (more sensitive and a wider range in frequency response - although those metrics are pretty useless when they are not charted in a graph). Again, instead of 3.5mm jacks, it uses USB. Like the Raw, you cannot connect this to a 3.5mm device. For that, you need to go up to...
... The SteelSeries Siberia V4 Elite ($199.99 MSRP). Surprisingly, the microphone has a lower frequency response and sensitivity than the V3 Prism but, again, that does not mean that it is worse. Its speakers have a very high sensitivity, 120 dB, which likely means that they can get loud. The connector is detachable and comes with three ends: dual-3.5mm, three-ring 3.5mm, and a USB sound card. Also included, a 6-foot USB extension cable.
The headphones are now available at the SteelSeries store.
Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2014 - 05:32 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: zelda, 2d, fan-made, gaming
Hopefully this project will neither become abandoned, like a couple of attempts before it, nor shut down by Nintendo. The Legend of Zelda: OoT2D is an unofficial, fan-made game for the PC that takes the story and design of Ocarina of Time and builds it around A Link to the Past's artistic design. The most interesting part, for me, is how they will redesign the puzzles and dungeons into a different basis. I would like to compare all three games, Ocarina of Time, A Link to the Past, and the fan-made 2D OoT remake.
The team built their own engine for this game. To preserve the pixelation, you can use the escape key to select from one of four sizes that prevent art pixels from being spilled between physical ones, creating a blur. The UX is a bit counter-intuitive, but they offer a lot of the customization that PC gamers would love.
The game is not done yet, but a demo is provided. I tried it. It works.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 1, 2014 - 03:17 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Kickstarter, Firefox OS, web, chromecast
When Google released the Chromecast, it was a surprisingly clean solution for streaming video (my apologies if solutions existed before it). Just plug it into HDMI and connect to it with a PC or a mobile device to use the TV as monitor for content, and it is cheap. I figured that the open source community would like one of their own, but I did not think it was going to be done. Now there is a Kickstarter up, with FirefoxOS.
I constantly struggle with whether to discuss crowdfunding because, on the one hand, you never know if something will tank. On the other hand, is it really any less sketchy than pre-release information for computer hardware or video games (especially pre-release news for video games)?
In this case, I found out that it was promoted by Mozilla on their Hacks blog. It is based on a Rockchip 3066 SoC with 1GB RAM, 4GB of storage and 2.4 GHz Wireless-N. As stated earlier, it runs FirefoxOS which means that apps are websites. The SoC has a Mali-400 GPU that is capable of OpenGL ES 2.0, so it might even be able to support WebGL if the software and drivers are certified. Don't expect jaw-dropping 3D graphics, though. The GPU is rated at about 9 GFLOPs. For comparison, the Tegra K1 has a peak compute throughput of about 365 GFLOPs; alternatively, it is fairly close to later-model Intel GMA graphics (not Intel HD Graphics... GMA). Still, it might allow for some interesting 2D (or simplistic 3D) games.
Just a day-or-so in, it is already at over 150% funding.
Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2014 - 02:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, ancient space, letdown
It seems that Ancient Space is not quite living up to the hype surrounding the cast of Sci-Fi stars and Homeworld like appearance. From what Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN found the story was lacklustre even with recognizable voices and while the gameplay was enjoyable it was lacking that brilliance which made Homeworld so memorable. It is a beautiful game and it does actually have some new features like Captains which can be swapped to give different buffs to your ships but overall they were a bit let down. You can grab it on Steam but you might want to consider some of the Homeworld and Homeworld 2 mods to tide you over until the remastered versions are released.
If you do find a mod you like you might be able to talk one or more of the Fragging Frogs into playing a game with you, otherwise keep an eye on their Forum for the games they will be playing this week.
"That’s not to say Ancient Space is a terrible game: it’s actually not ever bad in any dramatic sense, it just doesn’t do anything particularly exciting. It’s disappointing. Beautiful, but disappointing. There’s your three word summary."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Survival Strategy: Total War – Attila Announced @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Metro Redux Review @ OCC
- Interview: Gearbox On Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- The Plague Spreads: Pathologic Remake Hits Funding Goal @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Wot I Think (So Far): Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Civilization Beyond Earth: 200 Turns On The Final Frontier @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: Systems | October 1, 2014 - 01:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: zotac, SFF, nano xs, MI521, Core i3 4030U
ZOTAC is releasing the new MI521 nano XS model using the Haswell Core i3 4030U with HD4400 graphics with support for mSATA SSDs and two DDR3 slots capable of handling up to 16GB of RAM. The two models listed below are the same, in one case you do not have to supply your own RAM and SSD, the other comes with only the processor inside. The branding is skewed more towards the multimedia capabilities but these could also function quite well for office work, with support for 4K workspaces and perhaps a little entertainment once you've polished off that Word doc.
HONG KONG – Oct. 1, 2014 – ZOTAC International, a global innovator and manufacturer of graphics cards and mini-PCs, today injects the palm-sized ZBOX nano XS chassis with a double dose of performance from a 4th Generation Intel Core i3 processor. The new ZOTAC ZBOX MI521 nano XS series delivers a dual-core punch and expansive connectivity in an extra small size for an excellent mini-PC experience.
“ZOTAC is a pioneer when it comes to packing as much performance as possible into the smallest form factor possible. Our latest ZBOX MI521 nano XS series takes that same formula and gives it more performance and connectivity to create a mini-PC that’s perfect for office productivity or multimedia tasks,” said Tony Wong, CEO, ZOTAC International.
New to the ZBOX MI521 nano XS series is a very efficient and capable Intel Core i3 4030U dual-core processor with Intel HD Graphics 4400. The new processor enables dual display capabilities on the ZBOX MI521 nano XS series with standard HDMI and mini-DisplayPort outputs for maximum work productivity.
A suite of Intel technologies including Clear Video HD, InTru 3D and Quick Sync Video transforms the ZBOX MI521 nano XS series into the perfect HTPC for high quality HD video playback, including CPU-intensive Hi10P formats. Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi technologies round out the ZBOX MI521 nano XS series features to provide compatibility with popular input devices and high-speed network connectivity to wireless home networks.
Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2014 - 01:09 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, maxwell, GTX 980, GTX 970, GM204, geforce, dx12, dsr
Move over Super Best Friends, the Dynamic Super Resolution Duo is here to slay the evil Jaggies! Ryan covered NVIDIA's new DSR in his review of the new Maxwell cards and how it can upsample a monitor with a resolution of 2560x1440 or lower to much higher resolutions using a process similar to supersampling but is in fact a 13-tap gaussian filter. That is important because supersampling would have some interesting challenges rendering 2560x1440 on a 1080p monitor. DSR gives you a much wider choice of resolutions as you can see in the Guild Wars screenshot below, allowing you to choose a variety of multipliers to your displays native resolution to give your game a much smoother look. The Tech Report has assembled a variety of screenshots from games with different DSR and AA settings which you can examine with your own eyeballs to see what you think.
"One of the more intriguing capabilities Nvidia introduced with the GeForce GTX 970 and 980 is a feature called Dynamic Super Resolution, or DSR, for short. Nvidia bills it as a means of getting 4K quality on a 2K display. How good is it? We take a look."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- There's more to Windows 10 than miscounting @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft WINDOWS 10: Seven ATE Nine. Or Eight did really @ The Register
- AMD demonstrates NFV tool using 64-bit ARM-based SoC codenamed 'Hierofalcon' @ The Inquirer
- Hong Kong Protesters Use Mesh Networks To Organize @ Slashdot
- Mozilla might add Tor encryption to its Firefox web browser @ The Inquirer
- Lenovo becomes the biggest x86 server provider in China as acquisition of IBM x86 server business completes, says IDC @ DigiTimes
- Supercomputers: The Next Generation – Cray puts burst buffer tech, Intel Haswell inside @ The Register
- Competition: Win One of Three BioStar Motherboards @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech | September 30, 2014 - 11:46 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 9, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, windows 10, windows, threshold, microsoft
The Windows event for the enterprise, which took place today in San Francisco, revealed the name of the upcoming OS. It is not Windows 9, or One Windows, or just Windows. It will be Windows 10. Other than the name, there is not really any new information from a feature or announcement standpoint (except the Command Prompt refresh that I actually will give a brief mention later). My interest comes from their mindset with this new OS -- what they are changing and what they seem to be sticking with.
If you would like Microsoft's commentary before reading mine, the keynote is embed above.
Okay, so one thing that was shown is "Continuum". If you have not seen its prototype at the end of the above video, it is currently a small notification that appears when a keyboard and mouse is attached (or detached). If a user accepts, this will flip the user interface between tablet and desktop experiences. Joe Belfiore was clear that the video clip was not yet in code, but represents their vision. In practice, it will have options for whether to ask the user or to automatically do some chosen behavior.
In a way, you could argue that it was necessary to go through Windows 8.x to get to this point. From the demonstrations, the interface looks sensible and a landing point for users on both Windows 7 and Windows 8 paths. That said, I was fine with the original Windows 8 interface, barring a few glitches, like disappearing icons and snapping sidebars on PCs with multiple monitors. I always considered the "modern" Windows interface to be... acceptable.
It was the Windows Store certification that kept me from upgrading, and Microsoft's current stance is confusing at the very least. Today's announcement included the quote, "Organizations will also be able to create a customized store, curating store experiences that can include their choice of Store apps alongside company-owned apps into a separate employee store experience." Similar discussion was brought up and immediately glossed over during the keynote.
Who does that even apply to? Would a hobbyist developer be able to set up a repository for friends and family? Or is this relegated to businesses, leaving consumers to accept nothing more than what Microsoft allows? The concern is that I do not want Microsoft (or anyone) telling me what I can and cannot create and install on my devices. Once you build censorship, the crazies will come. They usually do.
But onto more important things: Command Prompt had a major UX overhaul. Joe Belfiore admitted that it was mostly because most important changes were already leaked and reported on, and they wanted to surprise us with something. They sure did. You can now use typical keyboard shortcuts, shift to select, ctrl+c and ctrl+v to copy/paste, and so forth. The even allow a transparency option, which is common in other OSes to make its presence less jarring. Rather than covering over what you're doing, it makes it feel more like it overlays on top of it, especially for quick commands. At least, that is my opinion.
Tomorrow, October 1st, Microsoft will launch their "Windows Inside Program". This will give a very early glimpse at the OS for "most enthusiastic Windows fans" who are "comfortable running pre-release software that will be of variable quality". They "plan to share all the features (they) are experimenting with". They seem to actually want user feedback, a sharp contrast from their Windows 8 technical preview. My eye will on relaxing certification requirements, obviously.
Subject: Processors | September 30, 2014 - 06:02 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: arm, cortex, Cortex-A, cortex-m, 90 nm, 40 nm, 28 nm, 32 bit
Last week ARM announced the latest member of their Cortex-M series of embedded parts. The new Cortex-M7 design is a 32 bit processor designed to have good performance while achieving excellent power consumption. The M7 is a fully superscalar design with 6 pipeline stages. This product should not be confused with the Cortex-A series of products, as the M series is aimed directly at embedded markets.
This product is not necessarily meant for multi-media rich applications, so it will not find its way into a modern smart phone. Products that it is leveraged at would be products like the latest generation of smart watches. Industrial control applications, automotive computing, low power and low heat applications, and countless IoT (Internet of Things) products can utilize this architecture.
The designs are being offered on a variety of process nodes from 90 nm down to 28 nm. These choices are made by the licensee depending on the specifics of their application. In the most energy efficient state, ARM claims that these products can see multiple years of running non-stop on a small lithium battery.
This obviously is not the most interesting ARM based product that we have seen lately, but it addresses a very important market. What is perhaps most interesting about this release not only is the pretty dramatic increase in per clock performance from the previous generation of part, but also how robust the support is in terms of design tools, software ecosystem, and 3rd party support.
Cortex-M7 can also be utilized in areas where a more complex DSP has traditionally been used. In comparison to some common DSPs, the Cortex-M7 is competitive in terms of specialized workload performance. It also has the advantage of being much more flexible than a DSP in a general computing environment.
ARM just keeps on moving along with products that address many different computing markets. ARM’s high end Cortex-A series of parts powers the majority of smart phones and tablets while the Cortex-M series have sold in the billions addressing the embedded market. The Cortex-M7 is the latest member of that family and will find more than its fair share of products to be integrated into.
Subject: General Tech | September 30, 2014 - 02:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: K70 RGB, input, corsair, Cherry MX RGB red
There is a new type of Cherry MX switches on the market and they are what allow the Corsair K70 RGB to stand out in a light filled room; Cherry MX RGB switches feel like the original switches but with the clear plastic domes they have clear housings. Thanks to the Corsair Utility Engine software which comes with the keyboard you can choose from 16.8 million colours to enhance the look of your keyboard, or create macros to have colours change as you are using it. The Tech Report had great success in programming the keyboard considering that the manual is 142 pages long so expect a bit of a steep learning curve when you first start out playing with this keyboard. You can find their review as well as a video showing off some of their colour schemes right here.
"Corsair Gaming's K70 RGB keyboard has been hotly anticipated since its debut at CES earlier this year. Does it live up to the hype? We put the keyboard and its accompanying software to the test to find out"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Mechanical Keyboard @ eTeknix
- Ozone Strike Pro Cherry MX Red USB keyboard @ Kitguru
- CM Storm NovaTouch TKL Keyboard Review @ Legit Reviews
- Cooler Master NovaTouch TKL Keyboard @ Benchmark Reviews
- XTracGear Mouse Surfaces Review @ Neoseeker
- Attitude One Rapira Elite Gaming Mouse @ techPowerUp
- Attitude One Rapira Elite Laser Gaming Mouse @ NikKTech
- Gamdias HADES Extension laser gaming mouse @ Kitguru
- Attitude One Rapira One Gaming Mouse @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech | September 30, 2014 - 01:11 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: arm, internet of things, Si106x, 108x, Silicon Labs, Intel, quark
While the Internet of Things is growing at an incredible pace the chip manufacturers which are competing for this new market segment are running into problems when trying to design chips to add to appliances. There is a balance which needs to be found between processing power and energy savings, the goal is to design very inexpensive chips which can run on microWatts of power but still be incorporate networked communication and sensors. The new Cortex-M7 is a 32-bit processor which is directly competing with 8 and 16 bit microcontrollers which provide far less features but also consume far less power. Does a smart light bulb really need to have a 32bit chip in it or will a lower cost MCU provide everything that is needed for the light to function? Intel's Quark is in a similar position, the processing power it is capable of could be a huge overkill compared to what the IoT product actually needs. The Register has made a good observation in this article, perhaps the Cortex M0 paired with an M4 or M7 when the application requires the extra horsepower is a good way for ARM to go in. Meanwhile, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 600 has been adopted to run an OS to control robots so don't think this market is going to get any less confusing in the near future.
"The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing an estimated five times more quickly than the overall embedded processing market, so it's no wonder chip suppliers are flocking to fit out connected cars, home gateways, wearables and streetlights as quickly as they can."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft's Asimov System To Monitor Users' Machines In Real Time @ Slashdot
- ARM teams with 1248 to launch Hyperweave gateway to 'IoT-enable' enterprises @ The Inquirer
- ARMs head Moonshot bodies: HP pops Applied Micro, TI chips into carts @ The Register
- Third patch brings more admin Shellshock for the battered and Bashed @ The Register
- Mining Bitcoins with Pencil and Paper @ Hack a Day
- How to Organize Your Linux File System for Clutter-Free Folders @ Linux.com
- Alien Isolation Community Preview event @ Kitguru
Introduction and Features
Today we have a double header for your reading enjoyment. Not one, but two Platinum Series power supplies from Seasonic. The two latest additions to Seasonic’s flagship product line are the Platinum 1050W and Platinum 1200W PSUs. The power supplies feature tight voltage regulation (±1~2%), quiet operation (fanless mode), and high efficiency (80Plus Platinum certified). Both PSUs are fully modular and come backed by a 7-year warranty.
Seasonic is a well known and highly respected OEM that produces some of the best PC power supplies on the market today. In addition to supplying power supplies to many big-name companies who re-brand the units with their own name, Seasonic also sells a full line of power supplies under the Seasonic name. Both new power supplies feature an improved Hybrid Fan control circuit and upgraded copper conduction bars on the main PCB, which together help increase efficiency and performance.
Seasonic Platinum 1050W & 1200W Special Features
Ultra Tight Voltage Regulation Improved load voltage regulation keeps the voltage fluctuations on the 12V output within +2% and -0% (no negative tolerance), and on the 3.3V and 5V outputs between +1% and -1%, which (under 80 Plus load conditions) results in smooth and stable operation.
Seasonic Hybrid Silent Fan Control The industry first, advanced three-phased thermal control balances between silence and cooling. The Hybrid Silent Fan Control provides three operational stages: Fanless, Silent and Cooling Mode. In addition, a selector switch is provided to allow for manual selection between the Seasonic S2FC (fan control without Fanless Mode) or S3FC (fan control including Fanless Mode).
Reduced Cooling Fan Hysteresis is achieved by a new fan control IC, which optimizes how frequently the fan switches on and off. At 25°C ambient temperature the fan turns on when the load rises above 30% (±5%) and turns off when the load drops below 20% % (±5%). Due to this lag in response the fan switches on and off less frequently, which reduces power loss in Fanless and Silent Mode.
Dual Copper Conduction Bars on the power supply PCB help reduce impedance and minimize voltage drop, which further improves efficiency and performance.
80Plus Platinum The Platinum 1050W & 1200W power supplies are certified in accordance to the 80PLUS organization's Platinum standards, offering performance and energy savings with up to ≥92% efficiency and a true power factor of greater than 0.9 PF.
Full Modular Design (DC to DC) The Seasonic Platinum Series power supplies feature an integrated DC connector panel with onboard VRM (Voltage Regulator Module) that enables not only near perfect DC-to-DC conversion with reduction of current loss/impedance and increase of efficiency but also a fully modular DC cabling that enables maximum flexibility of integration and forward compatibility.
Seasonic Platinum Series 1050W & 1200W PSU Key Features:
• 80Plus Platinum certified super high efficiency
• Ultra tight voltage regulation
• Fully Modular Cable design with flat ribbon-style cables
• Seasonic DC Connector Panel with integrated VRMs
• DC to DC Converter design
• Hybrid Silent Fan Control (3 modes of operation: Fanless, Silent and Cooling)
• High-quality Sanyo Denki San Ace dual ball bearing fan with PWM
• Ultra-tight voltage regulation (+2% and -0% +12V rail)
• Dual copper conduction bars on PCB for improved efficiency and performance
• Supports multi-GPU technologies
• Conductive polymer aluminum solid capacitors
• High reliability 105°C Japanese made electrolytic capacitors
• ErP Lot 6 2013 compliant and Intel Haswell processor ready
• High current Gold plated terminals with Easy Swap connectors
• Active PFC (0.99 PF typical) with Universal AC input
• 7-Year manufacturer's warranty worldwide
Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 30, 2014 - 04:15 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Windows 8.1, hp, cheap tablet, cheap computer
Before I get into the devices, the $149 HP Stream 8 tablet and certain models of the HP Stream 13 laptop (the ones with an optional 4G modem) includes "free 4G for life" for customers in the USA. Reading in the fine print, the device company apparently signed a deal with T-Mobile for 200MB/mo of 4G service. Of course, 200MB will barely cover the Windows Update regimen of certain months, but you have WiFi for that. It is free, and free is good. I can guess that T-Mobile is crossing their fingers that dripping a drop of water on the tongues of the thirsty will convince them to go to the fountain.
If it works? Great. That is just about the most honest way that I have ever seen a telecom company attract new customers.
Back to these devices. Oh right, they're cheap. They are so cheap, they barely have any technical specifications. The $199.99 HP Stream 11 laptop has an 11-inch display. The $229.99 HP Stream 13 laptop has a 13-inch display and can be configured with an optional 4G modem. Both are passively cooled (more fanless PCs...) and run on a dual-core processor. Both provide a year of Office 365 Personal subscriptions. Both are available in blueish-purple or pinkish-purple.
The two tablets (7-inch Stream 7 and 8-inch Stream 8) are a similar story. They run an x86 processor with full Windows 8.1 and a year's subscription to Office 365. Somehow, the tablets are based on Intel quad-core CPUs (rather than the laptop's passively cooled dual-cores) despite being cheaper. Then again, they could be completely different architectures.
While HP is interested in, you know, selling product, I expect that Microsoft's generous licensing terms (see also the Toshiba alternative we reported earlier) is an attempt to push their cloud services. They know that cheaper device categories cannot bare as much royalties as a fully-featured laptop, and not having a presence at those prices is conceding it to Google -- and conceding that to Google is really giving up on cloud services for those customers. The simple solution? Don't forfeit those markets, just monetize with your own cloud service. I doubt that it will harm their higher-end devices.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | September 30, 2014 - 03:33 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: iris, Intel, core m, broadwell-y, broadwell-u, Broadwell
Intel's upcoming 14nm product line, Broadwell, is expected to have six categories of increasing performance. Broadwell-Y, later branded Core M, is part of the soldered BGA family at expected TDPs of 3.5 to 4.5W. Above this is Broadwell-U, which are also BGA packages, and thus require soldering by the system builder. VR-Zone China has a list of seemingly every 15W SKU in that category. 28W TDP "U" products are expected to be available in the following quarter, but are not listed.
Image Credit: VR-Zone
As for those 15W parts though, there are seventeen (17!) of them, ranging from Celeron to Core i7. While each product is dual-core, the ones that are Core i3 and up have Hyper-Threading, increasing the parallelism to four tasks simultaneously. In terms of cache, Celerons and Pentiums will have 2MB, Core i7s will have 4MB, and everything in between will have 3MB. Otherwise, the products vary on the clock frequency they were binned (bin-sorted) at, and the integrated graphics that they contain.
Image Credit: VR-Zone
These integrated iGPUs range from "Intel HD Graphics" on the Celerons and Pentiums, to "Intel Iris Graphics 6100" on one Core i7, two Core i5s, and one Core i3. The rest pretty much alternate between Intel HD Graphics 5500 and Intel HD Graphics 6000. Maximum frequency of any given iGPU can vary within the same product, but only by about 100 MHz at the most. The exact spread is below.
- Intel HD Graphics: 300 MHz base clock, 800 MHz at load.
- Intel HD Graphics 5500: 300 MHz base clock, 850-950 MHz at load (depending on SKU).
- Intel HD Graphics 6000: 300 MHz base clock, 1000 MHz at load.
- Intel Iris Graphics 6100: 300 MHz base clock, 1000-1100 MHz at load (depending on SKU).
Unfortunately, without the number of shader units to go along with the core clock, we cannot derive a FLOP value yet. This is a very important metric for increasing resolution and shader complexity, and it would provide a relatively fair metric to compare the new parts against previous offerings for higher resolutions and quality settings, especialy in DirectX 12 I would assume.
Image Credit: VR-Zone
Probably the most interesting part to me is that "Intel HD Graphics" without a number meant GT1 with Haswell. Starting with Broadwell, it has been upgraded to GT2 (apparently). As we can see from even the 4.5W Core M processors, Intel is taking graphics seriously. It is unclear whether their intention is to respect gaming's influence on device purchases, or if they are believing that generalized GPU compute will be "a thing" very soon.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 29, 2014 - 06:41 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: fanless, nuc, haswell
The Akasa Newton X is a fanless case for the NUC form factor that was announced in May and released a couple of months ago. Now, we are beginning to see system builders (albeit in Europe) integrate it in some higher-end devices. This one, from Atlast! Solutions, is built around the Intel Core i5-4250U, up to 1.5TB of SSD storage (512GB Crucial M550 mSATA + 1TB 840 EVO SATA), and up to 16GB of RAM. It can also be configured with up to two-antenna Wireless AC.
The Core i5-4250U is a dual-core (four threads) processor that is rated for 15W TDP. Its on-chip GPU is the Intel HD Graphics 5000 with a peak, theoretical compute throughput of 704 GFLOPS. This makes it a little under three-times the graphics performance of an Xbox 360. In terms of PC games, you are looking at Battlefield 4 or Titanfall on low at 1024x768 (or basically whatever your home server can do if used as a stream-to target).
Prices currently start at £449.00 for 4GB of RAM and 60GB of mSATA SSD, including VAT.
Thanks to FanlessTech for covering this story.