The GM204 Architecture
James Clerk Maxwell's equations are the foundation of our society's knowledge about optics and electrical circuits. It is a fitting tribute from NVIDIA to include Maxwell as a code name for a GPU architecture and NVIDIA hopes that features, performance, and efficiency that they have built into the GM204 GPU would be something Maxwell himself would be impressed by. Without giving away the surprise conclusion here in the lead, I can tell you that I have never seen a GPU perform as well as we have seen this week, all while changing the power efficiency discussion in as dramatic a fashion.
To be fair though, this isn't our first experience with the Maxwell architecture. With the release of the GeForce GTX 750 Ti and its GM107 GPU, NVIDIA put the industry on watch and let us all ponder if they could possibly bring such a design to a high end, enthusiast class market. The GTX 750 Ti brought a significantly lower power design to a market that desperately needed it, and we were even able to showcase that with some off-the-shelf PC upgrades, without the need for any kind of external power.
That was GM107 though; today's release is the GM204, indicating that not only are we seeing the larger cousin of the GTX 750 Ti but we also have at least some moderate GPU architecture and feature changes from the first run of Maxwell. The GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 are going to be taking on the best of the best products from the GeForce lineup as well as the AMD Radeon family of cards, with aggressive pricing and performance levels to match. And, for those that understand the technology at a fundamental level, you will likely be surprised by how much power it requires to achieve these goals. Toss in support for things like a new AA method, Dynamic Super Resolution, and even improved SLI performance and you can see why doing it all on the same process technology is impressive.
The NVIDIA Maxwell GM204 Architecture
The NVIDIA Maxwell GM204 graphics processor was built from the ground up with an emphasis on power efficiency. As it was stated many times during the technical sessions we attended last week, the architecture team learned quite a bit while developing the Kepler-based Tegra K1 SoC and much of that filtered its way into the larger, much more powerful product you see today. This product is fast and efficient, but it was all done while working on the same TSMC 28nm process technology used on the Kepler GTX 680 and even AMD's Radeon R9 series of products.
The fundamental structure of GM204 is setup like the GM107 product shipped as the GTX 750 Ti. There is an array of GPCs (Graphics Processing Clustsers), each comprised of multiple SMs (Streaming Multiprocessors, also called SMMs for this Maxwell derivative) and external memory controllers. The GM204 chip (the full implementation of which is found on the GTX 980), consists of 4 GPCs, 16 SMMs and four 64-bit memory controllers.
Investigating the issue
Over the past week or two, there have been growing rumblings from owners of Samsung 840 and 840 EVO SSDs. A few reports scattered across internet forums gradually snowballed into lengthy threads as more and more people took a longer look at their own TLC-based Samsung SSD's performance. I've spent the past week following these threads, and the past few days evaluating this issue on the 840 and 840 EVO samples we have here at PC Perspective. This post is meant to inform you of our current 'best guess' as to just what is happening with these drives, and just what you should do about it.
The issue at hand is an apparent slow down in the reading of 'stale' data on TLC-based Samsung SSDs. Allow me to demonstrate:
You might have seen what looks like similar issues before, but after much research and testing, I can say with some confidence that this is a completely different and unique issue. The old X25-M bug was the result of random writes to the drive over time, but the above result is from a drive that only ever saw a single large file write to a clean drive. The above drive was the very same 500GB 840 EVO sample used in our prior review. It did just fine in that review, and at afterwards I needed a quick temporary place to put a HDD image file and just happened to grab that EVO. The file was written to the drive in December of 2013, and if it wasn't already apparent from the above HDTach pass, it was 442GB in size. This brings on some questions:
- If random writes (i.e. flash fragmentation) are not causing the slow down, then what is?
- How long does it take for this slow down to manifest after a file is written?
Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | September 18, 2014 - 03:52 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, freesync, DisplayPort, adaptive sync
MStar, Novatek, and Realtek, three vendors of scaler units for use in displays, have announced support for AMD's FreeSync. Specifically, for the Q1'15 line of monitors, these partners will provide scaler chips that use DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync and, when paired with a compatible AMD GPU, will support FreeSync.
The press release claims that these scalar chips will either support 1080p and 1440p monitors that are up to 144Hz, or drive 4K displays that are up to 60Hz. While this is promising, at least compared to the selection at G-Sync's launch a year earlier, it does not mean that this variety of monitors will be available -- just that internal components will be available for interested display vendors. Also, it means that there are probably interested display vendors.
AMD and partners "intend to reveal" displays via a "media review program" in Q1. This is a little later than what we expected from Richard Huddy's "next month" statements, but it is possible that "Sampling" and "Media Review Program" are two different events. Even if it is "late", this is the sort of thing that is forgivable to me (missing a few months while relying on a standards body and several, independent companies).
Subject: Displays | September 18, 2014 - 02:59 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Acer XB270H, XB280HK, 4k, g-sync
The Acer XB280HK is a 28" 4K G-SYNC display which will launch next month at expected price of US$799 or $849.99CDN. The XB270H is a 27" 1080p display also with G-SYNC support and is currently available at $599USD or $649CDN. As both are rated with a 1ms response time it is likely these are backlit TN panels but with the recent advances in TN panels the viewing angles should be much better than the original generation.
SAN JOSE, Calif., Sept. 18, 2014 – Acer America is bringing its new XBO series gaming displays featuring NVIDIA G-SYNC technology to gaming enthusiasts in North America. This cutting-edge line delivers significant performance advantages that infuse gaming with incredibly smooth, realistic and responsive visuals, elevating game play to a new level of stunning realism.
The two XBO series display models for North America include the Acer XB280HK boasting a 28-inch 4K2K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) display with a @60Hz refresh rate and the Acer XB270H with a 27-inch screen and a maximum Full HD 1080p @ 144Hz resolution. Both models provide a quick 1ms response time, further enhancing in-game performance. They also feature revolutionary NVIDIA G-SYNC technology, comfortable ergonomics and excellent connectivity.
“We’re excited to bring these first-rate gaming displays to gamers in the United States and Canada,” said Ronald Lau, Acer America business manager. “The incredibly sharp and smooth images provided by NVIDIA G-SYNC technology are sure to thrill the most avid gamers. Combined with Acer’s highly flexibly ergonomic stand, non-glare ComfyView panel and low dimming technology, users are assured long hours of both comfortable and visually stunning game play.”
NVIDIA G-SYNC: Picture-Perfect Visuals
NVIDIA G-SYNC technology ensures that every frame rendered by the GPU is perfectly portrayed by synchronizing the monitor’s refresh rates to the GPU in a GeForce GTX-powered PC. This breakthrough technology eliminates screen tearing and minimizes display stutter and input lag to deliver a smooth, fast and breathtaking gaming experience on the hottest PC gaming titles. Scenes appear instantly, objects look visually sharp, and gameplay is more responsive to provide faster reaction times, giving gamers a competitive edge.
“NVIDIA G-SYNC technology dramatically improves the way gamers see their games, by delivering images that are fast, sharp and stutter-free,” said Tom Petersen, distinguished engineer at NVIDIA. “This is the way games were meant to be played, and gamers will absolutely love these new Acer XBO monitors.”
By making gaming as comfortable as possible, the XBO series monitors help extend game time with three Acer innovations. Acer flicker-less technology reduces eye strain via a stable power supply that eliminates screen flicker. Its low dimming technology provides users the ability to adjust brightness down to 15 percent in low-light environments and Acer ComfyView non-glare screen reduces reflection for clearer viewing, a significant benefit for gamers.
A flexible, multi-function ErgoStand extends a wide range of options for maximum comfort and viewing perspectives. For finding the best angle, the screen tilts from -5 to -35 degrees and the height can be raised by up to 5.9 inches. In addition, the base rotates 120 degrees from left to right for easy screen sharing during game play and collaboration with others. Plus, the screen pivots from horizontal to vertical to accommodate two entirely different gaming scenarios.
Both new XBO series monitors deliver wide viewing angles up to 170 degrees horizontal and up to 160 degrees vertical. The Acer XB280HK delivers 1.07 billion colors and the Acer XB270HL provides 16.7 million colors, while both offer a native contrast ratio of 1000:1, a 300 nits brightness and a 72 percent NTSC color saturation, a combination that delivers exceptionally vibrant, detailed and high-quality imagery.
The displays come with DisplayPort as well as high-speed USB 3.0 ports (1 up, 4 down) that are located on the side and down of screen for easily connecting a mouse, keyboard, gaming headset, joystick and other peripherals. One of the USB ports is equipped for battery charging.
EPEAT Gold registered, the highest level of EPEAT registration available, the displays meet all of EPEAT’s required criteria and at least 75 percent of EPEAT’s optional criteria. They’re also mercury-free and LED-backlit, which reduces energy costs by consuming less power than standard CCFL-backlit displays. ENERGY STAR 6.0 and TCO 6.0 qualified, they adhere to strict environmental, performance and ergonomic design standards.
Pricing and Availability
The Acer XB270H is available now at leading online retailers in the United States and Canada with a MSRP of US$599 and $649.99 CAD. The Acer XB280HK will be available next month at leading online retailers in the United States and Canada with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of US$799 and $849.99 CAD.
Acer displays are backed by professional, high-quality technical support and a three-year warranty. Acer’s online community at community.acer.com provides customers discussion forums, answers to frequently asked questions and the opportunity to share ideas for new and enhanced services and products.
Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 11:11 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: wow, smite, raptr, pc gaming, lol, DOTA 2, Counter-Strike
The PC gaming utility, Raptr, keeps track of per-game play time across each of their of their tracked titles. Because it is not locked to Valve, Blizzard, Riot Games, Mojang, and so forth, it compares games that are from different publishers and distribution platforms as long as the software is running. Around once each month, the company shares their findings and gives brief explanations for notable results. Again, these are not sales or download figures. This ranking is decided by the number of hours played.
First, League of Legends continued its reign as most played PC game; in fact, it widened its lead to over one-fifth of all recorded game time (20.55%). This increase was mostly attributed to the game's 4.15 update. Second place, with a significantly less 7.62%, is World of Warcraft. Raptr believes it passed DOTA 2 for two reasons: WoW gained players from their Mists of Pandaria 50%-off promotion and DOTA 2 deflated a little bit after the swell from The International tournament.
Counter-Strike: GO held steady in fourth place and
Smith Smite (Update 09/17/2014: Corrected typo), a free-to-play MOBA from Hi-Rez Studios, jumped five places to fifth place.
Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 12:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, game24
If you are in Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Mission Viejo (Ca.), Indianapolis, Shanghai or Stockholm you might want to see if you can get into GAME24, a 24-hour event celebrating PC gamers that kicks off on Thursday September 18th at 6PM PDT. If you can't make it in person it will be broadcast live on the internet at www.GAME24.nvidia.com.
- New products announcements from NVIDIA and game publishers
- A DOTA 2 Invitational tournament featuring professional teams including Evil Geniuses, Cloud 9, Team Tinker, and Alliance competing for a share of $15,000 in prizes.
- Mod24, the world’s first 24-hour livestreamed modding completion will also be held.
- Renowned modders Team Mongoose, BSMODS, and Team Kill Ninja will be at NVIDIA HQ in Santa Clara, California doing the onsite build. Viewers of the live stream will be the judges and three lucky winners will take home these one of a kind builds.
- Two world records will be broken!
Special guests will include
- Jay (no Silent Bob though)
- cos-play queen Chloe Dykstra
- (ex)MythBuster Grant Imahara
- Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter.
- also appearing will be Tiffany Smith, Zach Selwyn, Alison Haislip, Alex Albrecht, Kristin Adams, Chris Gore and Blair Butler.
More information about GAME24 and details on the many local events taking place on September 18 can be found at: www.GAME24.nvidia.com.
Subject: General Tech | September 18, 2014 - 10:59 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: windows 9, video, TSV, supernova, raptr, r9 390x, podcast, p3700, nvidia, Intel, idf, GTX 980, evga, ECS, ddr4, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #318 - 09/18/2014
Join us this week as we discuss GTX 980 and R9 390X Rumors, Storage News from IDF, ADATA SP610 SSDs 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: 1:33:48
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Allyn: Windows Server 2012 R2 Storage Spaces goodness (updated features)
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
It seems a lot of folks have been incorporating Silicon Motion's SM2246EN controller into their product lines. We first reviewed the Angelbird SSD wrk, but only in a 512GB capacity. We then reviewed a pair of Corsair Force LX's (256GB and 512GB). ADATA has joined the club with their new Premier SP610 product line, and today we are going to take a look at all available capacities of this new model:
It's fortunate that ADATA was able to sample us a full capacity spread, as this will let us evaluate all shipping SSD capacites that exist for the Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling | September 22, 2014 - 12:16 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: X99, video, maxwell, live, GTX 980, GTX 970, evga
EVGA has been a busy company recently. It has continued to innovate with new coolers for the recent GTX 980 and GTX 970 card releases, newer power supplies offer unique features and improved quality and power output, a new line of X99 chipset motherboards including a Micro ATX variant and hey, the company even released a line of high-performance mice this year! PC Perspective has covered basically all of these releases (and will continue to do so with pending GPU and MB reviews) but there is a lot that needs explaining.
To help out, an industry and community favorite will be stopping by from EVGA to the PC Perspective offices: Jacob Freeman. You might know him as @EVGA_JacobF on Twitter or have seen him on countless forums, but he will making an in-person appearance on Friday, September 26th on PC Perspective Live! We plan on discussing the brand new ACX 2.0 cooler on the Maxwell GPUs released last week, go over some of highlights of the new X99 motherboards and even touch on power supplies and the Torq mice line as well.
EVGA GTX 980/970, X99, PSU and Torq Live Stream featuring Jacob Freeman
3pm ET / 12pm PT - September 26th
EVGA has been a supporter of PC Perspective for a long time and we asked them to give back to our community during this live stream - and they have stepped up! Look at this prize list:
- 1 x EVGA GeForce GTX 980 SC
- 1 x EVGA GeForce GTX 970 SC ACX 2.0
- 1 x EVGA X99 Classified
- 1 x EVGA X99 FTW
- 1 x EVGA X99 SLI
- 1 x EVGA SuperNOVA 750 G2 PSU
- 4 x Torq Mice
How can you participate and win these awesome pieces of hardware? Just be here at 3pm ET / 12pm PT on http://www.pcper.com/live and we'll be announcing winners as we go for those that tune in. It really couldn't be more simple!
If you have questions you want to ask Jacob about EVGA, or any of its line of products, please leave them in the comments section below and we'll start compiling a list to address on the live stream Friday. Who knows, we may even save some prizes for some of our favorite questions!
To make sure you don't miss our live stream events, be sure you sign up for our spam-free PC Perspective Live! Mailing List. We email that group a couple hours before each event gets started.
Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2014 - 12:00 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: onedrive, microsoft
OneDrive has a base storage limit of 15GB for a free account. Microsoft, in promotion of a setting to automatically upload photos to their storage service, is offering an extra 15GB if you enable this feature before the end of the month. That is 30 total GBs! As of their September 10th blog post, they will also allow files of up to 10GB (!!) in size. That is a pretty big picture or movie.
Through this initiative, Microsoft hopes that more people will sign up for OneDrive and those with accounts will integrate it into their lives. Large storage capacities, mobile apps, applications for Windows and OSX, large file support, and affordable storage tiers definitely make a compelling platform, one that puts pressure on Google and Dropbox.
The question is whether you trust Microsoft with every photo or video that comes off of any given device. While some could find it compelling to have up to 30GB of extra storage for their cameraphone, without the need to manually sync, I could see others who want to be more selective.
You can enter this promotion before "the end of the month" (which is a little vague).
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 20, 2014 - 09:06 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: unreal engine 4, nvidia, microsoft, maxwell, DirectX 12, DirectX
Microsoft and NVIDIA has decided to release some information about DirectX 12 (and DirectX 11.3) alongside the launch of the Maxwell-based GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970 graphics cards. Mostly, they announced that Microsoft teamed up with Epic Games to bring DirectX 12 to Unreal Engine 4. They currently have two demos, Elemental and Infiltrator, that are up and running with DirectX 12.
Moreover, they have provided a form for developers who are interested in "early access" to apply for it. They continually discuss it in terms of Unreal Engine 4, but they do not explicitly say that other developers cannot apply. UE4 subscribers will get access to the Elemental demo in DX12, but it does not look like Infiltrator will be available.
DirectX 12 is expected to target games for Holiday 2015.
Subject: General Tech, Displays | September 20, 2014 - 10:55 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Oculus, VR, crescent bay, oculus connect
As they progress toward a consumer product, Oculus announced another prototype at their Oculus Connect developer conference. Dubbed Crescent Bay, the headset contains a new display, with a higher refresh rate and higher resolution, better optics, and 360-degree head tracking. It is also lighter and includes built-in speakers.
Of course, these features were not quantified with hard specifications.
Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus, stressed that this is not the consumer product yet. He claims that this is an increase over DK2 that is equivalent to the increase DK2 saw over the original Oculus Rift. It is not all about hardware, though. This company is engaged in hardware and software, video and audio. This should make sense considering their early acquisition of John Carmack and hundreds of other engineers. They, rightly, see themselves as a platform and, while they see game engines as necessary for VR, due to the ability to reposition the camera in milliseconds of notice, compared to film's never, they are not limiting themselves to just "games" (but yes they consider it a big part of it).
Honestly, months ago, I was sitting at my desk with its five monitors, each with bits of news posts, chats, reference material, and maybe a StarCraft tournament live stream, and Oculus was being discussed. I started to wonder if monitors, especially multiple displays, are just an approximation -- our current best effort -- of how to receive video cues from a PC. I could see a VR platform take on entertainment and even productivity with its infinite, virtual environments.
Currently, there is not even a hint about pricing and availability (as far as I found).
Subject: General Tech, Storage | September 21, 2014 - 05:41 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, kingston hyper x, kingston, endurance, corsair neutron gtx, corsair, 840 pro
Many drives have died over the last year and a bit. The Tech Report has been torturing SSDs with writes until they drop. Before a full petabyte of data was written, three of the six drives kicked the bucket. They are now at 1500TB of total writes and one of the three survivors, the 240GB Corsair Neutron GTX, dropped out. This was a bit surprising as it was reporting fairly high health when it entered "the petabyte club" aside from a dip in read speeds.
The two remaining drives are the Samsung 840 Pro (256GB) and Kingston HyperX 3K (240GB).
Two stand, one fell (Image Credit: Tech Report)
Between those two, the Samsung 840 Pro is given the nod as the Kingston drive lived through uncorrectable errors; meanwhile, the Samsung has yet to report any true errors (only reallocations). Since the test considers a failure to be a whole drive failure, though, the lashings will persist until the final drive gives out (or until Scott Wasson gives up in a glorious sledgehammer apocalypse -- could you imagine if one of them lasted a decade? :3).
Of course, with just one unit from each model, it is difficult to faithfully compare brands with this marathon. While each lasted a ridiculously long time, the worst of the bunch putting up with a whole 2800 full-drive writes, it would not be fair to determine an average lifespan for a given model with one data point each. It is good to suggest that your SSD probably did not die from a defrag run -- but it is still a complete waste of your time and you should never do it.
Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2014 - 09:25 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: windows 9, microsoft, leak
The Register has linked to two videos which purportedly capture Windows 9, or at least Build 9834, in action and revealing some not so new tricks. The first shows a feature which will be new to anyone who has never used Linux but will be old hat to anyone who has, multiple desktops. This feature will let you have separate switchable desktops which you can run different programs on, it is not a tool to create virtual machines on the fly but is handy if you need a full desktop for development and one for ... entertainment. The second video shows off the Start Menu, tiles and the much improved placement of the power off button.
"New videos of a "Windows 9" variant have emerged, and to this hack's eyes they look to have brought Windows up to speed with tricks that various desktop flavours of Unix have had for a decade or more."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- As three million comment on net neutrality, the FCC adjusts its plans @ The Inquirer
- Apple Watch to come with AMOLED panels from LG Display @ DigiTimes
- Red Hat releases RHEL 5.11, the last minor release of Linux distribution @ The Inquirer
- COMPRO TN1600P Cloud Network Camera Review @ NikKTech
- Win An Incredible Enermax “Ahead of the Game” Upgrade Bundle @ eTeknix
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 18, 2014 - 12:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: DirectCU II, asus, STRIX GTX 750 Ti OC, factory overclocked
The ASUS STRIX GTX 750 Ti OC sports the custom DirectCU II cooling system which not only improves the temperatures on the card but also reduces the noise produced by the fans. It comes out of the box with an overclocked GPU base clock 1124MHz and a boost clock of 1202MHz, with the 2GB of VRAM set to the stock speed of 5.4GHz; [H]ard|OCP managed to increase that to an impressive 1219/1297MHz and 6.0GHz even for the VRAM without increasing voltages. Unfortunately even with that overclock it lagged behind the Sapphire Radeon R9 270 Dual-X which happens to be about the same price at $170.
"Rounding out our look at ASUS' new STRIX technology we have another STRIX capable video card on our test bench today, this time based on the GTX 750 Ti GPU. We will take the ASUS STRIX GTX 750 Ti OC Edition and test it against an AMD Radeon R9 270 and AMD Radeon R9 265 to see what reigns supreme under $200."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- ASUS GTX750 Ti STRIX OC Edition @ Kitguru
- NZXT Kraken G10 Review @ OCC
- ASUS ROG R9 290X MATRIX Platinum @ [H]ard|OCP
- Radeon R9-285 @ HardwareHeaven
- Sapphire R9 285 2GB ITX Compact OC Edition @ eTeknix
- How Low Should You Go? ASUS Radeon R7 250X Graphics Card Review @ Techgage
- Sapphire ITX Compact R9 285 OC Review @ OCC
- XFX Radeon R9 285 DD @ Benchmark Reviews
NVIDIA GeForce 344.11 Driver and GeForce Experience 2.1.2 Released Alongside Maxwell-based GTX 980 and GTX 970
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 20, 2014 - 09:56 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, maxwell, graphics drivers, geforce experience
Update: There is also the 344.16 for the GTX 970 and GTX 980, resolving an issue specific to them.
When they release a new graphics card, especially in a new architecture, NVIDIA will have software ready to support it. First and most obvious, Maxwell comes with the GeForce 344.11 drivers - which is the first to support only Fermi and later GPUs. Mostly, the driver's purpose is supporting the new graphics cards and optimizing to Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, The Evil Within, F1 2014, and Alien: Isolation. It also supports multi-monitor G-Sync, which was previously impossible, even with three single-DisplayPort Kepler cards.
At the same time, NVIDIA launched a new GeForce Experience with more exciting features. First, and I feel least expected, it allows the SHIELD Wireless Controller to be connected to a PC, but only wired with its provided USB cable. This also means that you cannot use the controller without a GeForce graphics card.
If you have a GeForce GTX 900-series add-in board, you will be able to use Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR) and record in 4K video with ShadowPlay. Performance when recording on a PC in SLI mode has been improved also, apparently even for Kepler-based cards.
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | September 17, 2014 - 03:57 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows, mobile, microsoft, keyboard, ios, Android
Let me share a story. There was a time, around the first Surface launch, that I worked in an electronics retail store (and the several years prior -- but I digress). At around that time, Microsoft was airing ads with people dancing around, clicking keyboards to the Surface tablet with its magnetic click or snap. One day, a customer came in looking for the keyboard from the TV spots for their iPad. I thought about it for a few seconds and realized how terrible Microsoft's branding actually was.
Without already knowing the existence of their Windows 8 and RT tablets, which the ads were supposed to convey, it really did look like an accessory for an iPad.
Doing Microsoft's job for them, I explained the Surface Pro and Surface RT tablets along with its keyboard-cover accessories. Eventually, I told them that it was a Microsoft product for their own tablet brand and would not see an iPad release. The company felt threatened by these mobile, touch devices and was directly competing with them.
So Microsoft is announcing a keyboard for Windows, Android, and iOS. Sure, it is very different from the Type and Touch Covers; for instance, it does not attach to these devices magnetically. Microsoft has also been known to develop hardware, software, and services for competing platforms. While it is not unsurprising that Microsoft keyboards would work on competing devices, it does feel weird for their keyboard to have features that are specialized for these competing platforms.
There are three things interesting about this keyboard: it has a built-in stand, it has special keys for Android and iOS that are not present in Windows, and it has a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to 6 months. The peripheral pairs wirelessly with all of these devices through Bluetooth.
The Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard is coming soon for $79.95 (MSRP).
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | September 17, 2014 - 12:55 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, xbox, xbone, xbox one, controller, gamepad
A few months ago, Microsoft released 32- and 64-bit drivers for their Xbox One controller on Windows 7 and Windows 8. This was for wireless controllers attached by micro-USB to a PC. Now, Microsoft announced a new controller for Windows: the same controller, only bundled with the required cable. In fact, it can still connect wirelessly... to an Xbox One, not a PC.
The bundle will cost $59.95 (MSRP) and be available starting in November. As far as I can tell, the PC cannot update the Xbox One Controller's firmware; for that, you apparently need an Xbox One handy. It is possible that Microsoft will implement this, or already has and no-one is talking about it, but you might want to hold off until we know for a fact. One update adjusts analog stick sensitivity; this could be important, especially if you have multiple controllers at different patch levels. Yes, some PC games allow local multiplayer.
Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2014 - 09:34 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: win 8, dell, Samsung, LG, Lenovo, hp, touchscreen, IDC
The International Data Corporation's latest Worldwide Quarterly PC Monitor Tracker shows that there were a mere 32.5 million touchscreen monitors shipped in Q2 2014, which accounts for 0.4% of the discrete monitors sold. This may have been a direct influence on the pitiful market penetration of Win 8 in SMB and Enterprise, as the much touted touchscreen support was meaningless to their users interaction with computers. The mobile side is a bit better but not much; DisplaySearch pegs the percentage of laptops with a touchscreen sold in 2013 was about 11% with a predicted 40% share by 2017 which still falls short of representing half of the market. You can pop by The Register for a link to some of the findings.
"Market monitor IDC's latest word on monitors goes some way to explaining limp enthusiasm for Windows 8: people just aren't buying touch-screen monitors.
Windows 8's user interface was designed to work on mouse-driven and poke-enabled devices. It's racked up plenty of sales, but not much love."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- A Li-ion Battery Charging Guide @ Hack a Day
- Understanding and Using Systemd @ Linux.com
- New Video Series Teaches Kids About Linux @ Linux.com
- Michael Dell says Dell might use ARM chips in servers @ The Inquirer
- Asustek, Gigabyte unlikely to achieve motherboard shipment goals for 3Q14 @ DigiTimes
- Cloudflare creates keyless SSL encryption for better security @ The Inquirer
- Lumia rebrand begins: Nokia's new UK web home is Microsoft.com @ The Register
- TSMC confident of keeping global market share of over 80% for 28nm processes in 2015, says CFO @ DigiTimes
- Oracle's Larry Ellison quits as CEO – new bosses are Hurd'n'Catz @ The Register
- 4chan hoax leads idiots to microwave their iPhones @ The Inquirer
- Large-scale malvertising campaign hidden in online ads hits Last.fm @ The Inquirer
- Cryogenic Machining: Custom Rubber Parts @ Hack a Day
- Mio MiVue 568 Touch Dash Cam Review @ NikKTech
- A Tour Of The New Phoronix Office For Linux Benchmarking @ Phoronix
- Nvidia GAME24 event coverage @ Kitguru
- NVIDIA GAME24 Coverage @ OCC
- NikKTech & Tt eSPORTS Worldwide Giveaway
- Tech ARP 2014 Mega Giveaway Contest
Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2014 - 10:22 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: audio, input, corsair, K95 RGB, K70 RGB, K65 RGB, M65 RGB, H2100, H1500
Corsair is launching a new website focused on their gaming products, along with new products and a contest. The contest has a grand prize of a complete system while three runners up will get a set of Corsair peripherals including the ones announced below. Those colourful peripherals below include three different keyboards ranging from the largest with additional macro keys to the smallest with no numpad. There is a new mouse and a pair of headphones, with the H2100 offering wireless performance while the H1500 will still need an umbilical. Check the hole list after watching their lauch video.
Fremont, CA — September 22, 2014 — Corsair, a leader in PC hardware, today launched Corsair Gaming, a new division within the company dedicated to the elevation of PC gaming and the development of high-performance PC peripherals. Forged from Corsair’s engineering know-how and developed alongside eSports professionals and gaming enthusiasts, Corsair Gaming products are driven by a philosophy of performance, style, and comfort. Corsair Gaming’s first salvo is the immediate world wide release of the much-anticipated range of RGB keyboards and mice.
“For 20 years, Corsair has equipped gamers with high performance, precision hardware to build their dream PCs. Corsair Gaming now introduces new ways for PC gamers to optimize how they play,” said Andy Paul, Corsair President and CEO. “We’ve brought together our engineering expertise and our passion for gaming to build a line of products that delivers performance, customized for however you play.”
K95 RGB, K70 RGB, and K65 RGB Gaming Keyboards
With their color-customizable, 16.8 million color backlighting, the K95 RGB, K70 RGB, and K65 RGB are the headliners of the Corsair Gaming brand. All three keyboards use only German-made Cherry MX RGB mechanical key switches as part of an exclusive-to-launch partnership with Cherry.
Each key switch is built with the exacting precision of Cherry’s self-cleaning, corrosion-proof Gold-Crosspoint electrical contacts, and with over five billion sold, Cherry MX mechanical key switches are the premier choice of professional gamers and enthusiasts who demand uncompromising reliability and performance. Combined with Corsair Gaming’s distinctive aircraft-grade aluminum baseplate, Cherry MX RGB key switches deliver a professional-level gaming keyboard that ensures both consistency and accuracy with the touch of every key.
The K95, K70, and K65 RGB keyboards exhibit Corsair’s hallmark features: sleek design, ultra-precision components, and sturdy aircraft-grade aluminum construction that guarantee long-lasting performance.
Powerful Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) software enables the creation of unlimited lighting effects and macros, from solid colors that can highlight key groupings, to smooth gradients, dramatic waves and captivating ripple patterns. These customization options let gamers match their PC system lighting, find gaming keys faster, and provide critical visual feedback for executing in-game objectives.
Corsair Gaming understands that gamers demand choice when it comes to their hardware, so the K95, K70 and K65 RGBs cater to you every need – including size. All three support complete macro programmability on any key, with the K95 RGB offering an additional array of 18 dedicated macro keys and dedicated media-keys. In contrast, the compact 10-keyless K65 RGB removes the number pad and media keys for a desk-space-saving design, while the K70 RGB offers the standard keyboard layout and media keys that has already made its predecessor the choice for serious gamers.
- 100% German-made Cherry MX RGB mechanical Red, Blue or Brown key switches (K65 RGB available with Red key switches)
- 16.8 million multicolor per-key backlighting for virtually unlimited customization
- Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) enables users to create and customize their own lighting patterns, animations, and macros
- Aircraft-grade black anodized brushed aluminum for superior rigidity
- 100% anti-ghosting with full key rollover on USB
- Onboard memory stores performance and lighting settings
- Two-year warranty
- K95 RGB: $189.99 MSRP
- K70 RGB: $169.99 MSRP
- K65 RGB: $149.99 MSRP (available exclusively from Best Buy in the US, and other retailers worldwide)
M65 RGB Gaming Mice
The M65 RGB gaming mouse – available in black or white – continues Corsair Gaming’s focus on RGB color customization. This high-end gaming mouse goes beyond the industry standard with built-in three-zone 16.8 million color backlighting. Housed on a durable aluminum unibody chassis, the 8,200 DPI, gaming-grade laser sensor helps gamers make their mark, with a sniper button ensuring the most critical of shots stays on target. Charging the battlefield with a rubber-grip metal high-mass scroll wheel, eight programmable buttons, and adjustable weight turning zones, the M65 RGB mouse balances precise control and intelligent tracking with innate comfort and style.
- Three-zone backlighting with up to 16.8 million colors for virtually infinite customization
- Custom-tuned 8,200 DPI gaming-grade laser sensor for pixel-precise tracking
- High-capacity Omron switches rated for 20 million clicks for years of precise triggering
- Aircraft-grade aluminum baseplate for light weight and durability
- Adjustable weight system helps set the center of gravity to match play style
- Eight strategically placed buttons, including a dedicated sniper button with improved positioning
- On-the-fly DPI switching to instantly match mouse speed to gameplay demands
- Two-year warranty
- $69.99 MSRP
H2100 and H1500 Gaming Headsets
The Corsair Gaming H1500 and H2100 Headsets are part of Corsair’s new line of high-performance gaming equipment. Joining the K95, K70, and K65 RRB Keyboards and M65 RGB Mice, the H1500 and H2100 Headsets fully immerse gamers – and their ears – in battle. In both wired and wireless options, the Corsair Gaming Headsets offer Dolby 7.1 surround sound for accurate positional audio that captures the acoustic environment of every moment of gameplay. The H1500 keeps gameplay closer to the system, while the H2100 enables gamers to play for over 10 hours with up to 40 feet of unrestricted movement, combining epic audio and optimum comfort without the hassle of wires.
- Genuine Dolby 7.1 surround sound for complete immersion
- Micro-fiber wrapped memory foam earpads for comfortable gaming sessions
- Advanced unidirectional noise-cancelling microphone
- Oversized 50mm neodymium drivers for crystal clear audio
- H2100 headset offers wireless freedom up to 40 feet and over 10 hours per charge
- 2-year warranty
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