Flash player not detected. Click here to install flash.
« 1 2 3 4 5 »
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction

** Edit **

The tool is now available for download from Samsung here. Another note is that they intend to release an ISO / DOS version of the tool at the end of the month (for Lunix and Mac users). We assume this would be a file system agnostic version of the tool, which would either update all flash or wipe the drive. We suspect it would be the former.

** End edit **

As some of you may have been tracking, there was an issue with Samsung 840 EVO SSDs where ‘stale’ data (data which had not been touched for some period of time after writing it) saw slower read speeds as time since written extended beyond a period of weeks or months. The rough effect was that the read speed of old data would begin to slow roughly one month after written, and after a few more months would eventually reach a speed of ~50-100 MB/sec, varying slightly with room temperature. Speeds would plateau at this low figure, and more importantly, even at this slow speed, no users reported lost data while this effect was taking place.

900x900px-LL-4985de76_2014-09-1720.18.26TestresultsforC_0.png

An example of file read speeds slowing relative to file age.

Since we first published on this, we have been coordinating with Samsung to learn the root causes of this issue, how they will be fixed, and we have most recently been testing a pre-release version of the fix for this issue. First let's look at the newest statement from Samsung:

Because of an error in the flash management software algorithm in the 840 EVO, a drop in performance occurs on data stored for a long period of time AND has been written only once. SSDs usually calibrate changes in the statuses of cells over time via the flash management software algorithm. Due to the error in the software algorithm, the 840 EVO performed read-retry processes aggressively, resulting in a drop in overall read performance. This only occurs if the data was kept in its initial cell without changing, and there are no symptoms of reduced read performance if the data was subsequently migrated from those cells or overwritten. In other words, as the SSD is used more and more over time, the performance decrease disappears naturally.  For those who want to solve the issue quickly, this software restores the read performance by rewriting the old data. The time taken to complete the procedure depends on the amount of data stored.

This partially confirms my initial theory in that the slow down was related to cell voltage drift over time. Here's what that looks like:

threshold shift.png

As you can see above, cell voltages will shift to the left over time. The above example is for MLC. TLC in the EVO will have not 4 but 8 divisions, meaning even smaller voltage shifts might cause the apparent flipping of bits when a read is attempted. An important point here is that all flash does this - the key is to correct for it, and that correction is what was not happening with the EVO. The correction is quite simple really. If the controller sees errors during reading, it follows a procedure that in part adapts to and adjusts for cell drift by adjusting the voltage thresholds for how the bits are interpreted. With the thresholds adapted properly, the SSD can then read at full speed and without the need for error correction. This process was broken in the EVO, and that adaptation was not taking place, forcing the controller to perform error correction on *all* data once those voltages had drifted near their default thresholds. This slowed the read speed tremendously. Below is a worst case example:

840 EVO 512 test hdtach-2-.png

We are happy to say that there is a fix, and while it won't be public until some time tomorrow now, we have been green lighted by Samsung to publish our findings.

Continue reading our look at the new Samsung 840 EVO performance restoration process!!

The GTX 980 can reach very impressive frequencies

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 14, 2014 - 06:49 PM |
Tagged: GTX 980, nvidia, overclocking

[H]ard|OCP has had more time to spend with their reference GTX 980 and have reached the best stable overclock they could on this board without moving to third party coolers or serious voltage mods.  At 1516MHz core and 8GHz VRAM on this reference card, retail models will of course offer different results; regardless it is not too shabby a result.  This overclock was not easy to reach and how they managed it and the lessons they learned along the way make for interesting reading.  The performance increases were noticeable, in most cases the overclocked card was beating the stock card by 25% and as this was a reference card the retail cards with enhanced coolers and the possibility of custom BIOS which disable NVIDIA's TDP/Power Limit settings you could see cards go even faster.  You can bet [H] and PCPer will both be revisting the overclocking potential of GTX 980s.

1412746309oHQVINIuLi_1_1.gif

"The new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 makes overclocking GPUs a ton of fun again. Its extremely high clock rates achieved when you turn the right dials and sliders result in real world gaming advantages. We will compare it to a GeForce GTX 780 Ti and Radeon R9 290X; all overclocked head-to-head."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Google Nexus 9 Powered by NVIDIA Tegra K1, Denver 64-bit SoC

Subject: Mobile | October 15, 2014 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: tegra k1, tegra, nvidia, nexus 9, Nexus, google, Denver

Along with the announcement of the Google Nexus 6 phone, Google is also announcing a new tablet, the Nexus 9. Sporting an 8.9-in IPS screen with a 2048x1536 resolution (4:3 standing strong!), a 6700 mAh battery as well as the new Android Lollipop operating system, perhaps the most interesting specification is that it is built around NVIDIA's Tegra K1 SoC. Specifically, the 64-bit version based on the dual-core custom built Denver design, marking that architectures first release in shipping product.

UPDATE: Amazon.com has the Google Nexus 9 up for pre-order in both 16GB and 32GB capacities!

nexus9-1.jpg

Tegra K1 using 64-bit Denver cores are unique in that it marks the first time NVIDIA has not used off-the-shelf cores from ARM in it's SoC designs. We also know, based on Tim's news post on PC Perspective in August, that the architecture is using a 7-way superscalar design and actually runs a custom instruction set that gets translated to ARMv8 in real-time. 

A software layer and 128MB cache enhance the Dynamic Code Optimization technology by allowing the processor to examine and optimize the ARM code, convert it to the custom instruction set, and further cache the converted microcode of frequently used applications in a cache (which can be bypassed for infrequently processed code). Using the wider execution engine and Dynamic Code Optimization (which is transparent to ARM developers and does not require updated applications), NVIDIA touts the dual Denver core Tegra K1 as being at least as powerful as the quad and octo-core packing competition.

nexus9-3.jpg

It is great news for NVIDIA that Google is using this version of the Tegra K1 (can we please just get a different name for this version of the chip) as it indicates Google's commitment to the architecture in Android going forward, opening doors for the parts integration with even more devices with other hardware vendors moving forward. 

nexus9-2.jpg

More than likely built by HTC, the Nexus 9 will ship in three different colors (black, white and beige) and has a lot of callbacks to the Nexus 7, one of if not THE most popular Android tablet on the market. The tablet has front-facing speakers which should make it good for headphone-free media consumption when necessary. You'll be able put the Nexus 9 into a working mode easily with a new magnetically attached keyboard dock, similar to the iPad accessories widely available.

The Nexus 9 weighs in at 425g (the iPad Air weighs 478g), will have 16GB and 32GB capacity options, going up for preorder on 10/17 and shipping by 11/03. Google will sell both a 32GB Wi-Fi and 32GB LTE model with the LTE version (as well as the Sand color) shipping "later this year." Pricing is set at $399 for the 16GB model, $479 for the 32GB model and $599 for the 32GB+LTE version. That is quite a price hike for LTE capability and the $80 gap between the 16GB and 32GB options is annoying as well.

 Screen  8.9" IPS LCD TFT 4:3 aspect ratio QXGA (2048x1536) 
 Size  153.68 mm x 228.25 mm x 7.95 mm  
 Weight  WiFi: 14.99 ounces (425g) LTE: 15.38 ounces (436g) 
 Camera  Rear Camera: 8MP, f/2.4, 29.2mm focal length (35mm equiv), Auto-focus, LED flash Front Camera: 1.6MP, f/2.4, 26.1mm focal length (35mm equiv), Fixed-focus, no flash 
 Audio  Front-facing stereo speakers, complete with HTC’s BoomSound™ technology
 Memory  16, 32 GB eMMC 4.51 storage (actual formatted capacity will be less)  
 CPU  NVIDIA Tegra K1 - 64 bit; Dual Denver CPUs @ 2.3 GHz 
 GPU  Kepler 192-core GPU 
 RAM  2GB LPDDR3
 Wireless  Broadcom 802.11ac 2x2 (MIMO)

 

 Network  Quad-band GSM, CDMA, Penta-band HSPA, 4G LTE
 Power**  6700 mAh Wifi Browsing: Up to 9.5 hours LTE Browsing: Up to 8.5 hours Video Playback: Up to 9.5 hours Wifi Standby: Up to 30 days LTE Standby: Up to 30 days
 Sensors  GNSS support for GPS, GLONASS, and Beidou Bosch gyroscope and accelerometer AKM magnetometer & hall effect sensor Capella ambient light sensor
 Ports & Connectors  Single micro-USB 2.0 for USB data/charging 3.5mm audio jack Dual front-facing speakers Dual microphones, top/bottom 
 OS  Android 5.0 Lollipop
Source: Google Nexus

Google Nexus 6 Phone / Phablet with 6-in 2560x1440 Screen, Android Lollipop

Subject: Mobile | October 15, 2014 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon 805, qualcomm, nexus 6, motorola, lollipop, android l, Android

The Android mobile market just got shifted again after three key announcements from Google today to refresh the Nexus family of products that have served as the flagships for Android devices for several years.

First up is the Nexus 6, a phone or phablet depending on your vocabulary preferences, a device with a 5.96-in screen with a resolution of 2560x1440 and a pixel density of 493 ppi. Built by Motorola and sharing a lot of physical design with the recently released Moto X update, the phone is sleek and attractive and will ship in both black and white color schemes.

nexus6-2.jpg

Other specifications include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processors running at up to 2.7 GHz and an Adreno 420 graphics core. Capacities of both 32GB and 64GB will be available.

The Nexus 6 and its 6-in screen makes it larger than the Galaxy Note 4, larger than the iPhone 6 Plus and basically anything else considered a "phone" on the market today. The resolution of the phone is also much higher than the iPhone 6 Plus (only 1920x1080) and this should give Google's flagship a big advantage in clarity and media consumption - as long as the new Android Lollipop lives up to its claims. 

nexus6-1.JPG

Camera features are updated as well to include an f2.0 lens with optical image stabilization and a 13MP resolution. Fast charging is becoming particularly important in modern phones and Google claims the Nexus 6 will be able to get 6 hours of use from only 15 minutes of charging and more than 24 hours use from a full charge. We'll see how that pans out of course.

nexus6-3.JPG

Google says that the Nexus 6 will ship in November with a pre-order in "late October". Expect an unlocked version on Google's Play Store while you can find on-contract versions at ALL US carriers including AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and even Verizon. On a side note, this marks the first time Verizon will carry a Nexus-branded phone since the Galaxy Nexus in December of 2011.

Be prepared to pay full price for this phone though. Google lists pricing for the 32GB model at $649 and for the 64GB model at $699.

Screen  5.96" 1440x2560 display (493 ppi) 16:9 aspect ratio
 Size  82.98mm x 159.26mm x 10.06mm
 Weight  6.49 ounces (184 grams)
 Camera  Rear Camera: 13MP, Dual LED ring flash Front Camera: 2MP @ 1.4 um pixel
 Audio  Stereo front facing speakers; 3.5mm headphone jack with 4 button headset compatibility 
 Memory  32GB, 64GB
 CPU  Qualcomm Snapdragon805 - Quad Core 2.7 GHz  
 GPU  Adreno 420
 RAM  3GB RAM
 Wireless  Broadcom 802.11ac 2x2 (MIMO)

 

 Network (+ Mobile Sku)  Americas SKU: GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz CDMA: Band Class: 0/1/10 WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/8 LTE: Bands: 2/3/4/5/7/12/13/17/25/26/29/41 CA DL: Bands: B2-B13, B2-B17, B2-29, B4-B5, B4-B13, B4-B17, B4-B29 Rest of World SKU: GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz CDMA: not supported WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/6/8/9/19 LTE: Bands: 1/3/5/7/8/9/19/20/28/41 CA DL: B3-B5, B3-B8
 Power**  3220 mAh Talk time: up to 24 hours  Standby time up to 300 hours Internet use time up to 8.5 hrs Wi-Fi, 7 hrs LTE Wireless charging built-in 
Turbo charger gives up to 6 hours of power in 1 minutes
 Sensors  Accelerometer, Gyro, Magnetometer, Prox, Ambient Light Sensor, Haptics, Hall effect, Barometer 
 Ports & Connectors  Micro USB Single nano SIM Power and Volume key on Right Hand Side of the device 3.5mm audio jack
 OS  Android 5.0 Lollipop
Source: Google Nexus

Apple Announces New Mac Minis with Haswell. What?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | October 17, 2014 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: Thunderbolt 2, thunderbolt, mac mini, mac, Intel, haswell, apple

I was not planning to report on Apple's announcement but, well, this just struck me as odd.

So Apple has relaunched the Mac Mini with fourth-generation Intel Core processors, after two years of waiting. It is the same height as the Intel NUC, but it also almost twice the length and twice the width (Apple's 20cm x 20cm versus the NUC's ~11cm x 11cm when the case is included). So, after waiting through the entire Haswell architecture launch cycle, right up until the imminent release of Broadwell, they are going with the soon-to-be outdated architecture, to update their two-year-old platform?

((Note: The editorial originally said "two-year-old architecture". I thought that Haswell launched about six months earlier than it did. The mistake was corrected.))

apple-macmini-hero.png

I wonder if, following the iTunes U2 deal, this device will come bundled with Limp Bizkit's "Nookie"...

The price has been reduced to $499, which is a welcome $100 price reduction especially for PC developers who want a Mac to test cross-platform applications on. It also has Thunderbolt 2. These are welcome additions. I just have two, related questions: why today and why Haswell?

The new Mac Mini started shipping yesterday. 15-watt Broadwell-U is expected to launch at CES in January with 28W parts anticipated a few months later, for the following quarter.

Source: Apple

FanlessTech Shows Gigantic, Unreleased Heatsinks

Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 19, 2014 - 04:52 PM |
Tagged: heatsink, fanless, air cooling

There are many interesting ways to pull heat away from a processor. You can submerge your device in mineral oil or even phase-change fluid (such as "Novec"). You can push cool fluid up to the thing that you are trying to remove heat from and then pump it away through a radiator. If using air, you can make use of vapor chambers and the convection current formed as devices heat up. The goal is to abuse one or more interesting material properties to store energy and move it somewhere else.

heatsinks-cebit_2012_ekl_everest_prototyp_2.jpg

Image Credit: HT4U.net

Or you can just have an obscene, gigantic mass of metal with more fins than the NHL. According to FanlessTech, these are three heatsinks that are not yet available (and may never be). Two of them have three towers, connected to the base by heat pipes, and the last one has four.

heatsinks-big-triple-2.jpg

Image Credit: ExtraHardware.cz

Personally, I would be a bit uncomfortable about buying a PC like that unless I needed absolutely silent or top air cooling performance. The amount that it hangs over RAM or nuzzles against add-in boards seems sketchy to me, especially if you need to swap a DIMM or two at some point, but I always use stock coolers at reference voltage and frequency so what do I know?

heatsinks-big-quad.jpg

Image Credit: PConline.com.cn

Yes, that would be a regular, ATX motherboard.

When will these prototypes become available? Who knows if they even will. Still, if you have a need for cooling solutions that are a little over-the-top, you might be able to get your hands on these some day. There's nothing wrong with adding more mass and surface area, rather than doing something fancy. It works, and it probably works really well.

Source: FanlessTech

AMD's anorexia, another 7% of its workforce has been dropped

Subject: General Tech | October 17, 2014 - 01:44 PM |
Tagged: amd

Sad news again from AMD as roughly 710 employees from across the globe will be getting severance packages for Christmas.  The cuts are likely to come from the Computing and Graphics division as they saw a 16% year-on-year decline in income.  The Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom division saw a 21% increase and were the reason AMD's total income only dropped 2% when compared to this quarter last year.  The news for the future is also not good, with The Inquirer reporting that AMD expects its revenues to slide another 10-16% per cent in the next quarter.  Perhaps that is part of the reason Lisa Su will take home a salary that is $150K less than what Rory Read was earning.

index.jpg

"Following a grim earnings report on Thursday, AMD has announced a restructuring plan that includes axing seven per cent of its workforce by the end of the year.

The plan will see AMD issuing layoff notices to about 710 employees worldwide, and is expected to cost the chipmaker $57m in severance payment."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register
Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

GeForce GTX 980M Performance Testing

When NVIDIA launched the GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 graphics cards last month, part of the discussion at our meetings also centered around the mobile variants of Maxwell. The NDA was a bit later though and Scott wrote up a short story announcing the release of the GTX 980M and the GTX 970M mobility GPUs. Both of these GPUs are based on the same GM204 design as the desktop cards, though as you should have come to expect by now, do so with lower specifications than the similarly-named desktop options. Take a look:

  GTX 980M GTX 970M
GTX 980
(Desktop)
GTX 970
(Desktop)
GTX 880M
(Laptop)
CUDA Cores 1536 1280 2048 1664 1536
Core (MHz) 1038 924 1126 1050 954
Perf. (TFLOP) 3.189 2.365 4.612 3.494 2.930
Memory Up to 4GB Up to 3GB 4GB 4GB 4GB/8GB
Memory Rate 2500 MHz 2500 MHz 7.0 (GT/s) 7.0 (GT/s) 2500 MHz
Memory Width 256-bit 192-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Architecture Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Kepler
Process Node 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
DirectX Version 12.0 12.0 12.0 12.0 11.0

Just like the desktop models, GTX 980M and GTX 970M are built on the 28nm process technology and are tweaked and built for power efficiency - one of the reasons the mobile release of this product is so interesting.

With a CUDA core count of 1536, the GTX 980M has 33% fewer shader cores than the desktop GTX 980, along with a slightly lower base clock speed. The result is a peak theoretical performance of 3.189 TFLOPs, compared to 4.6 TFLOPs on the GTX 980 desktop. In fact, that is only slightly higher than the GTX 880M based on Kepler, that clocks in with the same CUDA core count (1536) but a TFLOP capability of 2.9. Bear in mind that the GTX 880M is using a different architecture design than the GTX 980M; Maxwell's design advantages go beyond just CUDA core count and clock speed.

notebook1.jpg

The GTX 970M is even smaller, with a CUDA core count of 1280 and peak performance rated at 2.365 TFLOPs. Also notice that the memory bus width has shrunk from 256-bit to 192-bit for this part.

As is typically the case with mobile GPUs, the memory speed of the GTX 980M and GTX 970M is significantly lower than the desktop parts. While the GeForce GTX 980 and 970 that install in your desktop PC will have memory running at 7.0 GHz, the mobile versions will run at 5.0 GHz in order to conserve power.

From a feature set stand point though, the GTX 980M/970M are very much the same as the desktop parts that I looked at in September. You will have support for VXGI, NVIDIA's new custom global illumination technology, Multi-Frame AA and maybe most interestingly, Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR). DSR allows you to render a game at a higher resolution and then use a custom filter to down sample it back to your panel's native resolution. For mobile gamers that are using 1080p screens (as our test sample shipped with) this is a good way to utilize the power of your GPU for less power-hungry games, while getting a surprisingly good image at the same time.

Continue reading our review of the GeForce GTX 980M Mobile GPU!!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Kingwin

Introduction and Features

2-Cloning.jpg

EZ-Clone in Standalone disk-cloning mode

Kingwin’s new EZ-Clone (Model: USI-2535CLU3) is a HDD/SSD adapter that can be used as a standalone disk-cloning device or as an external hard drive adapter. When used in standalone mode, the self-powered EZ-Cone can quickly clone one SATA/IDE drive to a new SATA drive in minutes (IDE to SATA or SATA to SATA) without being connected to a PC.

3-Ext-adapter.jpg

EZ-Clone being used as an external drive adapter

When used as an external drive adapter the EZ-Clone provides connectors for attaching two SATA drives (SSD or HDD) and one IDE hard drive in 2.5” or 3.5” form factors. The EZ-Clone adapter connects to a PC using the high-speed USB 3.0 interface. When used as an external drive adapter, the user can access up to two external drives at the same time (two SATA drives or one SATA and one IDE drive).

Kingwin EZ-Clone Key Features: (from the Kingwin website)
•    EZ-Clone model: USI-2535CLU3
•    External USB 3.0 to dual-SATA & single-IDE clone adapter
•    Standalone disk duplicator with One-Touch Clone Button (no PC required)
•    Supports 2.5” and 3.5” IDE and SATA drives (HDD or SSD)
•    Compatible with SATA I/II/III (1.5/3.0/6.0 Gbps)
•    SATA Drive Hot-swap compatibility
•    Supports hard drives up to 3TB disk size
•    Dual output power supply with standard 4-pin and SATA power connectors
•    Up to 5 Gbps data transfer rate with USB 3.0 (also compatible with USB 2.0)
•    USB Plug-and-play capability
•    2 Drive LEDs (red) and four Clone Progress LEDs (blue)
•    Screw-less, easy to attach connectors
•    Windows and Mac OS compatible (no driver installation required)
•    1-Year Warranty from Kingwin
•    MSRP $39.99 USD ($33.99 from Amazon.com, Oct. 2014)

4-usi_2535clu3_2.jpg

Please continue reading our review of the Kingwin EZ-Clone HDD/SSD adapter!!!

You haven't forgotten about the PCPer Forums have you?

Subject: General Tech | October 17, 2014 - 07:42 PM |
Tagged: forums, friday

pcper-logo-380x150.png

It has been a while since we mentioned the PC Perspective Forums on the front page, except of course the Fragging Frogs who have been having a great time lately and have put together some amazing VLANs full of gaming, fun and hardware giveaways.  There is a lot more than that hidden behind the tab at the top of the page for you to discover.   For anyone who has read about the latest and greatest hardware on our news and reviews but who isn't quite certain about if the hardware is right for them, we have a variety of forums specifically targeting the various components that we talk about.  I don't just mean GPUs and Cases or Motherboards and Processors, there is a forum specifically devoted to overclocking in general and for specific components as well.  You can also comment on my current choices on the Hardware Leaderboard and get feedback on your own choice of components.

If you have a working machine but are looking for tips on how to deal with Steam on Linux or what Windows tweaks might help you out then you are covered and can join in with the gurus which hang out here.  If networking is more your thing, be it a small LAN or suggestions on strange errors you are seeing in a large network environment then check out this forum which also contains information on setting up and securing your network and the clients attached to it.  If you have some old kit you would love to trade off for different equipment or were hoping for a deal on some used components; well head on over to the Trading Post and browse through the offers.

On the other hand if you are looking to harness the power of your PC for something a little more altruistic than Bitcoin why not join the Folding Frogs in the hunt for new configurations proteins which could help cancer research or join the BOINC crew to chug SETI or any of the wide variety of projects available in that Distributed Computing network.  If fun and games is more to your liking right now then the Off Topic board is always hopping with humour; however if a nice argument is more your style then join in The Lightning Round!

Your comments on our posts are always appreciated but there is a lot more to discover on PC Perspective when you look behind the front page.

Unreal Engine 4.5 Recently Released

Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2014 - 11:20 PM |
Tagged: unreal engine 4, epic games

Epic Games released Unreal Engine 4.5 last Tuesday, and it is one of their largest releases since launch. While most point-releases occur on a four-to-six week schedule, this one took about nine weeks.

epic-ue45-RTDFSS.png

The headlining feature from the press release is Ray Traced Distance Field Soft Shadows. In the real world, lights have an actual size. A light bulb is not an infinitesimal point, it fills up your hand when you grab it (when it is off and cooled to roughly room temperature, of course). If a surface can see a light, it is lit by it. If the surface cannot see the light, it is not lit by it, which looks like it is covered in shadow. If a light is big enough that part of it lights a part of a surface, but part of it is blocked, you get "soft shadows".

Ray Traced Distance Field Soft Shadows is a dynamic effect, which means that it can update over time. This is very useful if, for instance, the object that is casting a shadow gets blown up by a rocket launcher or, less entertainingly, the sun sets. The effect is also particularly quick, with scenes rendering in just a couple of milliseconds (you get about 16ms to hit 60 FPS). This is faster than cascaded shadow maps (a method to generate shadows that is optimized for shadows near the camera) in benchmarks listed at Epic's documentation.

epic-ue45-sss.png

Unreal Engine 4.5 has also updated Subsurface Scattering. I am not exactly sure what is different, because Unreal Engine 4 had SSS for quite some time now, but they changed something. This technique is useful to create realistic skin, but is also very useful for oceans, ice, and wax.

Although Ray Traced Distance Field Soft Shadows and Screen-Space Subsurface Scattering are the most interesting feature to write about, I would consider C++ Hot Reload to be the most important feature of this version. To explain it, I will need to first describe how Unreal Engine 4 is designed. When you subscribe, you are given source code access to the engine on GitHub; alternatively, you can download the Unreal Engine Launcher, which allows you to manage canonical builds of Unreal Engine. When a version of the engine is run, it will open a project in Unreal Editor. These projects could be programmed either in C++ or Epic's flowchart-based scripting system, "Blueprints". Complete games could be made in Blueprints, and developers are encouraged to do so, but they are often used for simple objects (lights and elevators), modifications of complex objects, and rapid prototyping.

epic-ue45-hotreload.png

Rapid prototyping is the key part of my explanation. Remember how there is "engine code" that, when compiled, opens an editor to run "game code" for any given project? Despite the E3 2012 demo, many changes in a project's C++ source require the editor to be shut down and reloaded when game code is compiled. This led people to use Blueprints as a prototyping tool, not because of its logical, visual layout, but because you could manipulate objects several times in just a couple of minutes and without closing the editor. Now C++ is said to be a first-class citizen in this regard (unfortunately I have not had time to test this). As long as you are not modifying the engine's code, just the C++ code associated with your project, your changes should be possible while remaining in editor.

epic-ue45-umg.png

Also updated, and finally supported by default, is Unreal Motion Graphics (UMG). UMG is a UI platform that is built upon Slate, which itself is the main UI platform for Unreal Engine 4 (Unreal Editor, for instance, is created with Slate). Basically, it extends Slate and includes a Flash Professional-like editor for it, complete with styles, animations, and scaling for high-DPI devices.

Because I am not in the DirectX 12 private beta, I am unsure whether that branch has been updated. Microsoft has announced that it was based on Unreal Engine 4.4. They have not said anything publicly since, at least not regarding that.

Unreal Engine 4.5 is available now for subscribers through GitHub or the Unreal Engine Launcher.

Source: Epic Games

MSI Upgrades 27” All-in-One Gaming PC’s with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 900M

Subject: Systems | October 16, 2014 - 04:18 PM |
Tagged: all-in-one, msi, gtx 900m, AG270 2QC, AG270 2QE

Who says All-in-One PCs can't be high end machines?  MSI just updated their 27" lineup with some rather impressive components.  One definite benefit to these machines is the matte display, which has been updated with a new feature called Anti-Flicker which reduces the amount of blue light generated by the display.   The base model is $1800 so you are paying a premium for the form factor but you do get an impressive looking and fully functional system for that price.

unnamed1.jpg

City of Industry, Calif. – October 22, 2014 – MSI Computer Corp announces the availability of their lineup of 27-inch All-in-One gaming computers featuring NVIDIA GeForce GTX 900M graphics cards. MSI’s lineup of gaming AIOs are powered by Intel Core i7 processors, up to 16 GB DDR3L memory, Killer E2200 Game Networking, and MSI’s Super RAID technology.

MSI’s upgraded gaming AIOs feature NVIDIA GeForce GTX 900M GPUs, the world’s fastest and most powerful mobile gaming graphics card. NVIDIAs latest GPU packs the power of a high-end performance graphics card into the silhouette of a mobile unit through a Maxwell architecture that delivers up to 35% increase in 3DMark11 performance.

unnamed2.jpg

“Gamers crave performance and our new lineup of 27-inch gaming AIOs will leave them breathless,” says Andy Tung, CEO of MSI Pan America. “The outstanding combination of state-of-the-art components, including NVIDIA’s latest GPU, deliver the most immersive gaming experience available and is guaranteed to outperform any other unit on the market.”

MSI complements the GPU with other cutting-edge components, including Intel Core i7 processor and Super RAID technology for ultra-fast storage speed with dual mSATA SSD’s in RAID 0, Killer E2200 Game Networking for lighting fast and lag-free connectivity, and dual Yamaha speakers and amplifier for an incredible sound experience. Yamaha speakers feature a built-in full-range monomer and an independent subwoofer to create a 2-way speaker system that pumps out intense explosions, clear footsteps and piercing screams.

unnamed3.jpg

To ensure a smooth and enjoyable gaming experience, even in prolonged battle sessions, MSI equipped the AIOs with an anti-glare matte display with Anti-Flicker technology. MSI’s proprietary Anti-Flicker technology generates 75% less blue light by stabilizing the electrical current on the display, thus preventing flickering and decreasing eye fatigue.

Source: MSI

Another overview of the Win 10 Technical Preview

Subject: General Tech | October 20, 2014 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: windows 10

This time it is The Tech Report who are taking a look at Win10 and what it brings to the table and what it takes away.  As you can see from the screenshot below the Start Menu is mostly back, with a selection of large tiles already added to the side of the menu, though they are easily removable or can be replaced with non-Metro applications.  Since the contextual search still appears at the bottom of the Start Menu the search button on the taskbar seems unnecessary. The multiple desktops work as promised, with ways to easily switch between your workspaces, windows have been visually trimmed along the outside and drop shadows are back.  Check out the new command prompt and other changes in their three page article.

startmenu.jpg

"TR's Cyril Kowaliski has spent some time with the Windows 10 Technical Preview, and he's jotted down his thoughts about each of the major new features and changes. His conclusion? This has the potential to be the best Windows release since Windows 7."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Aerocool Launches Colorful and Practical Xpredator Cube Chassis

Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 15, 2014 - 12:49 AM |
Tagged: SFF case, SFF, mini ITX, micro ATX, aerocool

A Taiwanese company called Aerocool Advanced Technologies (with a US disivision known as Aerocool US) recently unboxed a cube-shaped computer case that is both colorful and practical. The new Xpredator Cube joins the existing Xpredator lineup as a small form factor (micro ATX or mini ITX) option that comes in Red, Black, Orange, White, and Green color options for $125.90.

Measuring 280x418x412mm, the Xpredator Cube has a futuristic design with lots of sharp angles. Large “shell like” adjustable vents align along the top of the case along with a storage compartment and the front Io panel. The front of the case is dominated by a large mesh intake vent with angled sides and a single 5.25” bay. The left side features a side panel window that shows off the top half of the case (motherboard area).

Aerocool Xpredator Cube Green SFF Chassis.png

Front IO on the Xpredator Cube includes two USB 3.0 ports, two audio jacks, a power button, and two fan speed dials for the built in fan controller (maximum of 15W per channel).

The aesthetics are welcome, but the internals are where the small form factor cube shines. The new Xpredator series case is divided into two main compartments. A horizontal divider holds the horizontally mounted removable motherboard tray. The tray matches the external color of the case while the rest of the case internals (minus the tool-less drive rails) is black. It features a CPU cutout and multiple rubber grommets to facilitate cable routing. The case has four exposed PCI slots that can support graphics cards up to 320mm in length (or 345mm with the front case fan removed). The case can accommodate tower coolers up to 187mm tall or an internally mounted water cooling radiator up to 280mm (sans optical drive). Alternatively, the case has two water cooling grommets to support a larger external radiator.

Aerocool Xpredator Cube White PC Case.jpg

Bundled cooling include a 200mm front intake fan (800 RPM, 53.4 CFM, 26.5dBA) and a single 140mm exhaust fan (1200 RPM, 5948 CFM, 27.6 dBA). From there, users can add up three additional 140mm fans. The top of the case has angled vents that can be opened or closed with a slider on the left edge.

The bottom half of the case has space for a vertically mounted power supply and a tool-less hard drive bay that can hold three 3.5” or 2.5” drives. The case has a vent on the right side of the case for the power supply fan along with a removable magnetic dust filter. In addition to the hard drive bay, users can fit two 2.5” solid state drives under the 5.25” bay.

Aerocool Xpredator Cube Red and Black SFF Chassis.png

Aerocool further includes rubber pads for the power supply and hard drives to reduce shock which is nice considering the LAN party readiness of this case.

The new case was not available for purchase at the time of writing, but it should be for sale soon with a MSRP of $125.90.

The Aerocool Xpredator Cube looks to be a nice looking, easy to build in case. I’m looking forward to the full reviews of course, but if it holds up to the specifications it should be a popular small form factor option! 

Source: Aerocool

Intel Announces Q3 2014: Mucho Dinero

Subject: Editorial | October 15, 2014 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: revenue, Results, quarterly, Q3, Intel, haswell, Broadwell, arm, amd, 22nm, 2014, 14nm

Yesterday Intel released their latest quarterly numbers, and they were pretty spectacular.  Some serious milestones were reached last quarter, much to the dismay of Intel’s competitors.  Not everything is good with the results, but the overall quarter was a record one for Intel.  The company reported revenues of $14.55 billion dollars with a net income of $3.31 billion.  This is the highest revenue for a quarter in the history of Intel.  This also is the first quarter in which Intel has shipped 100 million processors.

The death of the PC has obviously been overstated as the PC group had revenue of around $9 billion.  The Data Center group also had a very strong quarter with revenues in the $3.7 billion range.  These two groups lean heavily on Intel’s 22 nm TriGate process, which is still industry leading.  The latest Haswell based processors are around 10% of shipping units so far.  The ramp up for these products has been pretty impressive.  Intel’s newest group, the Internet of Things, has revenues that shrank by around 2% quarter over quarter, but it has grown by around 14% year over year.

Intel-Swimming-in-Money.jpg

Not all news is good news though.  Intel is trying desperately to get into the tablet and handheld markets, and so far has had little traction.  The group reported revenues in the $1 million range.  Unfortunately, that $1 million is offset by about $1 billion in losses.  This year has seen an overall loss for mobile in the $3 billion range.  While Intel arguably has the best and most efficient process for mobile processors, it is having a hard time breaking into this ARM dominated area.  There are many factors involved here.  First off there are more than a handful of strong competitors working directly against Intel to keep them out of the market.  Secondly x86 processors do not have the software library or support that ARM has in this very dynamic and fast growing section.  We also must consider that while Intel has the best overall process, x86 processors are really only now achieving parity in power/performance ratios.  Intel still is considered a newcomer in this market with their 3D graphics support.

Intel is quite happy to take this loss as long as they can achieve some kind of foothold in this market.  Mobile is the future, and while there will always be the need for a PC (who does heavy duty photo editing, video editing, and immersive gaming on a mobile platform?) the mobile market will be driving revenues from here on out.  Intel absolutely needs to have a presence here if they wish to be a leader at driving technologies in this very important market.  Intel is essentially giving away their chips to get into phones and tablets, and eventually this will pave the way towards a greater adoption.  There are still hurdles involved, especially on the software side, but Intel is working hard with developers and Google to make sure support is there.  Intel is likely bracing themselves for a new generation of 20 nm and 16 nm FinFET ARM based products that will start showing up in the next nine months.  The past several years has seen Intel push mobile up to high priority in terms of process technology.  Previously these low power, low cost parts were relegated to an N+1 process technology from Intel, but with the strong competition from ARM licensees and pure-play foundries Intel can no longer afford that.  We will likely see 14 nm mobile parts from Intel sooner as opposed to later.

Intel has certainly shored up a lot of their weaknesses over the past few years.  Their integrated 3D/GPU support has improved in leaps and bounds over the years, their IPC and power consumption with CPUs is certainly industry leading, and they continue to pound out impressive quarterly reports.  Intel is certainly firing on all cylinders at this time and the rest of the industry is struggling to keep up.  It will be interesting to see if Intel will keep up with this pace, and it will be imperative for the company to continue to push into mobile markets.  I have never counted Intel out as they have a strong workforce, a solid engineering culture, and some really amazingly smart people (except Francois… he is just slightly above average- he is a GT-R aficionado after all).

Next quarter appears to be more of the same.  Intel is expecting revenue in the $14.7 billion, plus or minus $500 million.  This continues along with the strong sales of PC and server parts for Intel that helps buoy them to these impressive results.  Net income and margins again look to appear similar to what this past quarter brought to the table.  We will see the introduction of the latest 14 nm Broadwell processors, which is an important step for Intel.  14 nm development and production has taken longer than people expected, and Intel has had to lean on their very mature 22 nm process longer than they wanted to.  This has allowed a few extra quarters for the pure-play foundries to try to catch up.  Samsung, TSMC, and GLOBALFOUNDRIES are all producing 20 nm products with a fast transition to 16/14 nm FinFET by early next year.  This is not to say that these 16/14nm FinFET products will be on par with Intel’s 14 nm process, but it at least gets them closer.  In the near term though, these changes will have very little effect on Intel and their product offerings over the next nine months.

Source: Intel

PCPer Live! Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Game Stream Powered by NVIDIA Part 2!

Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | October 20, 2014 - 12:01 PM |
Tagged: borderlands, borderlands: the pre-sequel, game stream, geforce, GTX 980, live, nvidia, pcper, video

UPDATE: It's time for ROUND 2!

I'm sure like the staff at PC Perspective, many of our readers have been obsessively playing the Borderlands games since the first release in 2009. Borderlands 2 arrived in 2012 and once again took hold of the PC gaming mindset. This week marks the release of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, which as the name suggests, takes place before the events of Borderlands 2. The Pre-Sequel has playable characters that were previously only known to the gamer as NPCs and that, coupled with the new low-gravity game play style, should entice nearly everyone that loves the first-person, loot-driven series to come back.

To celebrate the release, PC Perspective has partnered with NVIDIA to host a couple of live game streams that will feature some multi-player gaming fun as well some prizes to giveaway to the community. I will be joined once again by NVIDIA's Andrew Coonrad and Kris Rey to tackle the campaign in a cooperative style while taking a couple of stops to give away some hardware.

livelogo.jpg

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Game Stream Powered by NVIDIA Part 2

5pm PT / 8pm ET - October 21st

PC Perspective Live! Page

Need a reminder? Join our live mailing list!

Here are some of the prizes we have lined up for those of you that join us for the live stream:

Holy crap, that's a hell of a list!! How do you win? It's really simple: just tune in and watch the Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Game Stream Powered by NVIDIA! We'll explain the methods to enter live on the air and anyone can enter from anywhere in the world - no issues at all!

So stop by Tuesday night for some fun, some gaming and the chance to win some hardware!

global-landing-page-borderlands-presequal.jpg

2K_Borderlands_Pre-Sequel_AthenaToss_1stPerson.jpg

2K_Borderlands_Pre-Sequel_moonBandits.jpg

Podcast #322 - GTX 980 4-Way SLI, Samsung's EVO Performance Fix, Intel Earnings and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2014 - 01:16 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, nvidia, GTX 980, sli, 3-way sli, 4-way sli, amd, R9 290X, Samsung, 840 evo, Intel, corsair, HX1000i, gigabyte, Z97X-UD5H, Lenovo, yoga 3 pro, yoga tablet 2. nexus 9, tegra k1, Denver

PC Perspective Podcast #322 - 10/16/2014

Join us this week as we discuss GTX 980 4-Way SLI, Samsung's EVO Performance Fix, Intel Earnings and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Morry Tietelman

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

Samsung Announces 60GHz Wi-Fi (802.11ad)

Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2014 - 05:43 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, 802.11ad, wigig

Samsung Electronics, a member of the WiGig Alliance, has just announced an implementation that is capable of achieving 4.6 gigabit (575MB/s) speeds under the 802.11ad standard. Samsung claims that they have overcome "the barriers to commercialization" of wireless over 60GHz. This band has several disadvantages, including resonance with oxygen molecules (included under the blanket of "path loss" in the press release) and its opacity to many solid objects (referred to as "weak penetration properties" in the release).

WiGig_Alliance_Logo.jpg

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Some features that Samsung credits themselves with are beam-forming with less than four-tenths of a millisecond latency and the ability to track multiple devices simultaneously. Beam-forming in particular is said to help offset the mostly line-of-sight properties of earlier 60GHz prototypes. This allows the signal to be directed toward devices, typically by manipulating interference patterns to reduce the energy lost by transmitting to locations without a receiver and thus giving more energy to the locations that do.

Its usage as a product will mostly depend on how tolerant they are to non line-of-sight situations. This rate is comparable to a high-end SATA SSD. Samsung claims that it will be useful for their Smart Home and Internet of Things initiatives, similar to the Stanford and Berkeley announcement last month, but also mention it in terms of medical devices.

Source: Samsung

New Mount & Blade: Warband Expansion

Subject: General Tech | October 17, 2014 - 06:32 PM |
Tagged: taleworlds, mount & blade

While it seems odd, it makes more sense once you realize that TaleWorlds is not actually developing it. The company supports its mod community and, for the second time, decided to promote one into a full DLC. The previous mod was Napoleonic Wars, developed by Flying Squirrel Entertainment, which is now a full independent game studio.

taleworlds-VikingConquest_5.jpg

The expansion, Mount & Blade: Viking Conquest, is the commercialized and updated Brytenwalda mod. Being an external effort, I doubt that TaleWorlds diverted much resources away from Mount and Blade II: Bannerlords to release this expansion. As an added benefit, it might launch a new independent games company -- maybe even a virtual furniture and meatball franchise.

While the company has not announced online player counts yet, this engine is known for supporting hundreds of players. Napoleonic Wars regularly has servers with 200-player caps not including horses (although I have heard, but not seen, that people have pushed that up to 250). This could be very interesting for a Viking Age theme.

Source: TaleWorlds

Google is looking for a brand new band

Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2014 - 01:30 PM |
Tagged: wireless, google, FCC

Google seems to be investigating a new way to extend their reach as an ISP, over and above Google Fibre and WiFi in Starbucks.  They have applied to the FCC to test data communication on 1mm frequency waves between 5.8GHz and 24.2GHz frequency band as wll as 2mm waves from 71-76GHz and 81-86GHz.  The wireless spectrum available continues to shrink as carriers bid on the remaining unclaimed frequencies which can penetrate the electronic noise that permeates highly populated areas and so companies are exploring frequencies which were not used in the past.  From what The Inquirer was told, these particular frequencies could be capable of sending data at speeds of several gigabits per second bandwidth over short distances, that could really help reduce the cost of connecting new users to their fibre network as the last mile could be wireless, not wired.

images.jpg

"GOOGLE HAS FILED A REQUEST with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to test high-speed wireless spectrum at several locations in California."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer