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PCPer Live! LogitechG Showcase, Q&A and Giveaway!

Subject: General Tech | May 26, 2015 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: video, pcper live, logitechg, logitech, live, giveaway, contest

UPDATE: Did you miss our live stream yesterday? Sorry to hear that! But the good news is that you can still watch the showcase and hear the questions (and answers) on the LogitechG product line. Enjoy!

If you haven't looked up what LogitechG has done lately, you are missing out on some of the most interesting and innovative gaming accessories in the market. My reconnection with the Logitech brand started in July of last year when they sent over the G402 Hyperion Fury gaming mouse, a device with a pair of sensors capable of tracking speeds as high as 28.4 mph - seriously!

Since then the team has been releasing new products and updated software that shows a dedication and drive to the enthusiast and gaming markets. The company's Intelligent Illumination system, that allows game developers to change the colors and brightness of the G910 Orion Spark based on what is happening in the game. Is your health critical? Then maybe you want the keyboard lights to pulse bright red? Or maybe when you jump into a flying vehicle you would like to illuminate the appropriate control keys?  All of this is possible.

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Besides the cool technology they have to show off, the truth is that Chris, the LogitechG peripheral guru that will be joining me, knows almost everything about keyboards and mice and headsets (oh my!). If you have a question about a specific LogitechG product, or about mice and keyboard technologies in general, this is the guy to ask and the outlet to do it.

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LogitechG Showcase, Q&A and Giveaway!!

12pm PT / 3pm ET - May 27th

PC Perspective Live! Page

Need a reminder? Join our live mailing list!

And of course, what would a live stream like this be without some giveaways? Logitech is going to supply hardware to give out during the live stream so you are going to want to be in attendance for sure! But to help build up some excitement, we are going to be giving away combinations of the G402 Hyperion Fury mouse and G440 mousing pad every weekday between now and the live stream! To sign up for the daily giveaways, use the form below. And for a chance to win a whole lot more gaming hardware, make sure you tune in on May 27th at 3pm ET / 12pm PT!!

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LogitechG Live Stream Promotional Giveaway!

If you have questions for Chris from Logitech, about mice, keyboards, switches, RGB illumination, tracking technologies - anything - let us know in the comments!

Rumor: Intel Core i7-6700K (Skylake-S) Benchmarks Leaked

Subject: Processors | May 28, 2015 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: Intel, Skylake, skylake-s, haswell, devil's canyon

For a while, it was unclear whether we would see Broadwell on the desktop. With the recently leaked benchmarks of the Intel Core i7-6700K, it seems all-but-certain that Intel will skip it and go straight to Skylake. Compared to Devil's Canyon, the Haswell-based Core i7-4790K, the Skylake-S Core i7-6700K has the same base clock (4.0 GHz) and same full-processor Turbo clock (4.2 GHz). Pretty much every improvement that you see is pure performance per clock (IPC).

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Image Credit: CPU Monkey

In multi-threaded applications, the Core i7-6700K tends to get about a 9% increase while, when a single core is being loaded, it tends to get about a 4% increase. Part of this might be the slightly lower single-core Turbo clock, which is said to be 4.2 GHz instead of 4.4 GHz. There might also be some increased efficiency with HyperThreading or cache access -- I don't know -- but it would be interesting to see.

I should note that we know nothing about the GPU. In fact, CPU Monkey fails to list a GPU at all. Intel has expressed interest in bringing Iris Pro-class graphics to the high-end mainstream desktop processors. For someone who is interested in GPU compute, especially with Explicit Unlinked MultiAdapter in DirectX 12 upcoming, it would be nice to see GPUs be ubiquitous and always enabled. It is expected to have the new GT4e graphics with 72 compute units and either 64 or 128MB of eDRAM. If clocks are equivalent, this could translate well over a teraflop (~1.2 TFLOPs) of compute performance in addition to discrete graphics. In discrete graphics, that would be nearly equivalent to an NVIDIA GTX 560 Ti.

We are expecting to see the Core i7-6700K launch in Q3 of this year. We'll see.

Source: CPU Monkey

Rumor: Entire Upcoming AMD Radeon 300-Series to Be Rebrands of Existing 200-Series?

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 26, 2015 - 05:29 PM |
Tagged: rumors, leaks, Hawaii XT, Fiji, amd radeon

This sounds like disappointing news, but it might be a little misleading as well. First of all the report, another from the folks at VideoCardz, details information about these upcoming GPUs from a leaked driver.

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Here’s the list VideoCardz came up with (200-series name on the right):

  • AMD6658.1 AMD Radeon(TM) R7 360 Graphics Bonaire XTX [Radeon R7 260X]
  • AMD67B0.1 AMD Radeon R9 300 Series Hawaii XT [Radeon R9 290X]
  • AMD67B1.1 AMD Radeon R9 300 Series Hawaii PRO [Radeon R9 290]
  • AMD6810.1 AMD Radeon(TM) R7 370 Graphics Curacao XT [Radeon R9 270X]
  • AMD6810.2 AMD Radeon (TM) R7 300 Series Curacao XT [Radeon R9 270X]
  • AMD6811.1 AMD Radeon (TM) R7 300 Series Curacao PRO [Radeon R9 270/370]
  • AMD6939.1 AMD Radeon R9 300 Series Tonga PRO [Radeon R9 285]

VideoCardz further comments on this list:

“FIJI was not included in this driver release. Radeon R9 Hawaii is neither shown as R9 380 nor as R9 390. Right now it’s just R9 300, just like R9 285-rebrand. Both Hawaii cards will get a small bump in clock speeds and most importantly 8GB memory.”

And this is where the news might be misleading, as the “300-series” naming may very well not include a new GPU due to AMD shifting to a new scheme for their upcoming flagship, just as NVIDIA has used the “TITAN” and “TITAN X” names for flagship cards. If the rumored AMD Fiji card (which was recently pictured) is the all-new GPU featuring HBM memory that we’ve all been waiting for, expect iterations of this new card to follow as the technology trickles down to the more affordable segment.

Podcast Pieces: A Discussion about HBM (High Bandwidth Memory) coming for AMD Fiji

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 23, 2015 - 09:46 AM |
Tagged: video, hbm, high bandwidth memory, amd, Fiji

During this week's podcast, Josh and the team went through an in-depth discussion of the new memory technology that AMD will be using on the upcoming Fiji GPU, HBM (high bandwidth memory). In case you don't regularly listen to our amazing PC Perspective Podcast, we have cut out the portion that focuses on HBM so that everyone can be educated on what this new technology will offer for coming GPUs.

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Enjoy! Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel for more videos like this!

Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

SHIELD Specifications

Announced just this past June at last year’s Google I/O event, Android TV is a platform developed by Google, running Android 5.0 and higher, that aims to create an interactive experience for the TV. This platform can be built into a TV directly as well as into set-top style boxes, like the NVIDIA SHIELD we are looking at today. The idea is to bring the breadth of apps and content to the TV through the Android operating system in a way that is both convenient and intuitive.

NVIDIA announced SHIELD back in March at GDC as the first product to use the company’s latest Tegra processor, the X1. This SoC combines an 8-core big.LITTLE ARM processor design with a 256-core implementation of the NVIDIA Maxwell GPU architecture, providing GPU performance previously unseen in an Android device. I have already spent some time with the NVIDIA SHIELD at various events and the promise was clearly there to make it a leading option for Android TV adoption, but obviously there were questions to be answered.

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Today’s article will focus on my early impressions with the NVIDIA SHIELD, having used it both in the office and at home for a handful of days. As you’ll see during the discussion there are still some things to be ironed out, some functionality that needs to be added before SHIELD and Android TV can really be called a must-buy product. But I do think it will get there.

And though this review will focus on the NVIDIA SHIELD, it’s impossible not to marry the success of SHIELD with the success of Google’s Android TV. The dominant use case for SHIELD is as a media playback device, with the gaming functionality as a really cool side project for enthusiasts and gamers looking for another outlet. For SHIELD to succeed, Google needs to prove that Android TV can improve over other integrated smart TV platforms as well as other set-top box platforms like Boxee, Roku and even the upcoming Apple TV refresh.

But first, let’s get an overview of the NVIDIA SHIELD device, pricing and specifications, before diving into my experiences with the platform as a whole.

Continue reading our review of the new NVIDIA SHIELD with Android TV!!

Author:
Manufacturer: Sapphire

Big Things, Small Packages

Sapphire isn’t a brand we have covered in a while, so it is nice to see a new and interesting product drop on our door.  Sapphire was a relative unknown until around the release of the Radeon 9700 Pro days.  This was around the time when ATI decided that they did not want to be so vertically integrated, so allowed other companies to start buying their chips and making their own cards.  This was done to provide a bit of stability for ATI pricing, as they didn’t have to worry about a volatile component market that could cause their margins to plummet.  By selling just the chips to partners, ATI could more adequately control margins on their own product while allowing their partners to make their own deals and component choices for the finished card.

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ATI had very limited graphics card production of their own, so they often would farm out production to second sources.  One of these sources ended up turning into Sapphire.  When ATI finally allowed other partners to produce and brand their own ATI based products, Sapphire already had a leg up on the competition by being a large producer already of ATI products.  They soon controlled a good portion of the marketplace by their contacts, pricing, and close relationship with ATI.

Since this time ATI has been bought up by AMD and they no longer produce any ATI branded cards.  Going vertical when it come to producing their own chips and video cards was obviously a bad idea, we can look back at 3dfx and their attempt at vertical integration and how that ended for the company.  AMD obviously produces an initial reference version of their cards and coolers, but allows their partners to sell the “sticker” version and then develop their own designs.  This has worked very well for both NVIDIA and AMD, and it has allowed their partners to further differentiate their product from the competition.

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Sapphire usually does a bang up job on packaging the graphics card. Oh look, a mousepad!

Sapphire is not as big of a player as they used to be, but they are still one of the primary partners of AMD.  It would not surprise me in the least if they still produced the reference designs for AMD and then distributed those products to other partners.  Sapphire is known for building a very good quality card and their cooling solutions have been well received as well.  The company does have some stiff competition from the likes of Asus, MSI, and others for this particular market.  Unlike those two particular companies, Sapphire obviously does not make any NVIDIA based boards.  This has been a blessing and a curse, depending on what the cycle is looking like between AMD and NVIDIA and who has dominance in any particular marketplace.

Click here to read the entire Sapphire R9 285 ITX OC Review!

Rumor: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Specifications Leaked

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 26, 2015 - 05:03 PM |
Tagged: rumors, nvidia, leaks, GTX 980 Ti, gpu, gm200

Who doesn’t love rumor and speculation about unreleased products? (Other than the manufacturers of such products, of course.) Today VideoCardz is reporting via HardwareBattle a GPUZ screenshot reportedly showing specs for an NIVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti.

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Image credit: HardwareBattle via VideoCardz.com

First off, the HardwareBattle logo conveniently obscures the hardware ID (as well as ROP/TMU counts). What is visible is the 2816 shader count, which places it between the GTX 980 (2048) and TITAN X (3072). The 6 GB of GDDR5 memory has a 384-bit interface and 7 Gbps speed, so bandwidth should be the same 336 GB/s as the TITAN X. As far as core clocks on this GPU (which seems likely to be a cut-down GM200), they are identical to those of the TITAN X as well with 1000 MHz Base and 1076 MHz Boost clocks shown in the screenshot.

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Image credit: VideoCardz.com

We await any official announcement, but from the frequency of the leaks it seems we won’t have to wait too long.

Just Delivered: Lenovo Lavie-Z Lightweight Laptop

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 22, 2015 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, Lenovo, lavie-z, Intel, i7-5500U, Broadwell

After seeing it at CES this January, one our most anticipated products became the Lenovo Lavie-Z laptop. Born out of a partnership between NEC and Lenovo, the Lavie-Z promises to be the world's lightest laptop.

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Our old-school postage scale doesn't have the accuracy to reach the 1.87lb that Lenovo clocks the Lavie-Z in at

Even after using the machine breiefly at CES, it is difficult to put into words what picking up a sub-2lb laptop is really like. Even after using the machine off and on today, it still feels like it's not a real machine. Lenovo and NEC have been able to accomplish this weight shedding through the use of a Lithium-Magnisum composite for the external housing of the machine, which seems durable, yet is incredibly light.

 

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This may be a lightweight machine, but the specifications aren't compromised over other ultrabooks. The Lavie-Z is only listed in one configuration on Lenovo's site currently, but it's a high end one. A Broadwell Intel i7-5500U dual core processor, 8GB of RAM, a 2560x1440 IGZO display, 256GB SATA M.2 Samsung SSD, and Intel 802.11AC wireless make up this machine. At $1500 for this configuration, there doesn't seem to be much of a markup over other i7-equipped ultrabooks.

We'll of course put the Lavie-Z through our normal paces including performance and battery life, and we certainly hope they live up to the striking first impressions of this laptop.

Stay tuned for our full review in the coming weeks!

Rumor: Only Xeon-based Skylake CPUs Getting AVX-512

Subject: Processors | May 27, 2015 - 09:45 PM |
Tagged: xeon, Skylake, Intel, Cannonlake, avx-512

AVX-512 is an instruction set that expands the CPU registers from 256-bit to 512-bit. It comes with a core specification, AVX-512 Foundation, and several extensions that can be added where it makes sense. For instance, AVX-512 Exponential and Reciprocal Instructions (ERI) help solve transcendental problems, which occur in geometry and are useful for GPU-style architectures. As such, it appears in Knights Landing but not anywhere else.

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Image Credit: Bits and Chips

Today's rumor is that Skylake, the successor to Broadwell, will not include any AVX-512 support in its consumer parts. According to the lineup, Xeons based on Skylake will support AVX-512 Foundation, Conflict Detection Instructions, Vector Length Extensions, Byte and Word Instructions, and Double and Quadword Instructions. Fused Multiply and Add for 52-bit Integers and Vector Byte Manipulation Instructions will not arrive until Cannonlake shrinks everything down to 10nm.

The main advantage of larger registers is speed. When you can fit 512 bits of data in a memory bank and operate upon it at once, you are able to do several, linked calculations together. AVX-512 has the capability to operate on sixteen 32-bit values at the same time, which is obviously sixteen times the compute performance compared with doing just one at a time... if all sixteen undergo the same operation. This is especially useful for games, media, and other, vector-based workloads (like science).

This also makes me question whether the entire Cannonlake product stack will support AVX-512. While vectorization is a cheap way to get performance for suitable workloads, it does take up a large amount of transistors (wider memory, extra instructions, etc.). Hopefully Intel will be able to afford the cost with the next die shrink.

Think twice before selling that old Android phone

Subject: General Tech | May 25, 2015 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: Android, Samsung, htc, Nexus

It seems that the factory reset for Android 4.3 and below is flawed, in that researchers were able to recover data from wiped phones.  Two University of Cambridge scientists tested 21 phones from Samsung, HTC, Nexus and 2 other unspecifed vendors all running versions of Android ranging from 2.3 to 4.3 and were able to recover data from a supposedly wiped phone.  They did not test newer versions and so are unsure if the problem has been rectified nor did Google respond to The Register when they inquired.  The researchers had a success rate of 80% for recovering tokens for Google and Facebook and could even recover encryption keys, although the keys were still password protected they could be brute forced.  Make sure to encrypt your phone with a long password before you wipe it and sell it, give it away or toss it out!

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"Half a billion Android phones could have data recovered and Google accounts compromised thanks to flaws in the default wiping feature, University of Cambridge scientists Laurent Simon and Ross Anderson have claimed."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

$170 for 16GB of very overclockable DDR4-2666

Subject: Memory | May 26, 2015 - 06:22 PM |
Tagged: ddr4-2666, G.Skill, Ripjaws 4

The price may still sting a bit but honestly, it is only about a small premium over many 16GB DDR3 kits so the pricing on DDR4 is getting much better.  G.Skill's 16GB DDR4-2666 quad channel kit has timings of 15-15-15-35 and are fully XMP compliant so getting them out of the clamshell packaging may be the hardest step in installing them.  Of course many readers here, just like at Bjorn3D, are not going to be satisfied with the default settings which brings us to the overclocking results.  3048MHz @ 16-16-16-37 was perfectly stable in their testing at 1.35V and for those who don't mind the long term effects of upping the voltage to 1.4V there is more headroom left. 

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"G.Skill has been churning out enthusiast memory that overclocks like nothing else we’ve ever seen. Pop a set of Ripjaws 4 into your dream machine and settle into the BIOS for an overclocking experience like you’ve never had!"

Here are some more Memory articles from around the web:

Memory

Source: Bjorn3D

Lenovo Tech World: Z41/Z51 and ideapad 100 announced

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | May 27, 2015 - 12:27 AM |
Tagged: z51, z41, tech world, r9 m375, r9 m360, Lenovo, ideapad 100, amd

Today at their Tech World event in Beijing, Lenovo is taking the opportunity to announce some new mainstream notebook options.

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First off, we have simply the Lenovo Z41 and Z51. The 14-inch Z41 and 15.6-inch Z51 aim to refresh the previous Z40 and Z50 with Broadwell CPUs as well as new AMD discrete GPU options.

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Lenovo is using the Broadwell-U class of CPUs here as you would find in ultra books, so don't expect a CPU powerhouse, but for productivity style tasks these machines should hit the sweet spot of Price vs Performance with a starting price of $549 for the base Z51.

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Paired with the new AMD R9-M360 (Z41) or M375 (Z51) these notebooks should also be able to play mainstream titles on the integrated 1080p display while coming in just over $800. 

The Lenovo Z51 and Z41 are available on Lenovo's site now.

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Lenovo also announced a low-cost entry into the ideapad line utilizing Intel's BayTrail-M processors. The ideapad 100 is available in both 14-inch and 15-inch variants and seems to be aimed at the low-cost Chromebook market. 

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Starting at $249, the ideapad 100 seems like it will be a good option for users looking for a secondary option for basic web browsing and office tasks. 

 

Stay tuned for more from Lenovo's Tech World Event this week!

 

Source: Lenovo

New server chips from Intel on the way

Subject: General Tech | May 27, 2015 - 12:27 PM |
Tagged: Purley, Intel, Skylake, Cannonlake, Grantley, Romley, knights landing

The Register has obtained a slide describing the next families of Xeon processor to be released by Intel, the Purley platform which includes Skylake.  There are some interesting new developments, including on die interface for either 10Gb/sec Ethernet or 100Gb/sec Omni-Path fabrics which interested the participants at the HPC conference the slides were shown at.  They also mentioned a brand new memory architecture which is described as offering four times the capacity and 500 times the speed than current NAND, all at a lower price per chip which is likely to be somewhat of an exaggeration on their part.  There were also new Phi chips, including the long awaited Knights Landing and workstation chips for use outside the server room.

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"A presentation given at a conference on high-performance computing (HPC) in Poland earlier this month appears to have yielded new insight into Intel's Xeon server chip roadmap.

A set of slides spotted by our sister site The Platform indicates that Chipzilla is moving toward a new server platform called "Purley" that will debut in 2017 or later."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Blizzard Releases Overwatch Gameplay Video Ahead of E3

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | May 27, 2015 - 08:33 PM |
Tagged: overwatch, E3 2015, E3, blizzard

Various companies have begun teasing what we might see at this year's E3 expo. Blizzard has not historically had a big presence at the event, though. With the size and scope of Blizzcon, the company usually saves it announcements for then. In fact, I cannot think of a single, non-trivial thing that Blizzard did at E3 since the expo downsized after E3 2006.

This year, on the other hand, Blizzard will be present at AMD and PC Gamer's E3 show. The recent Overwatch previews could be leading up to this event, which takes place three weeks from yesterday. The recent video that I embed above, Tracer, is pretty interesting too. It shows how useful a light assault player could be if they don't obey the space-time continuum. The last two-thirds of the video show off an impressive kill streak.

Again, expect more E3 coverage leading up to the Expo on June 16th.

Source: Blizzard

Podcast #351 - More AMD Fiji Leaks, Rumors on GTX 980 Ti and a great $99 portable DAC!

Subject: Editorial | May 28, 2015 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: X99, video, sapphire, r9 285, podcast, nvidia, GTX 980 Ti, gigabyte, Fiji, DAC, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #351 - 05/28/2015

Join us this week as we discuss AMD Fiji Leaks, rumors on GTX 980 Ti, a great $99 portable DAC, 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Sebastian Peak

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

Driving Force meets the G-series; Logitech’s Driving Force G29 leaked

Subject: General Tech | May 25, 2015 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: steering wheel, logitech, leak, input, Driving Force G29

A leak of Logitech's new wheel for gamers has shown up, designed to be compatible with the PS4 but also of interest to PC gamers who have picked up one or more of the recently released driving games.  It looks to be based on the Driving Force GT and in the leaked pictures is a box for a shifter which could be good news for those who already own Logitech pedals and shifters as the are likely compatible with the new wheel.  If your steering wheel is getting a bit beat up hold off on picking up a new one as the G29 could be out very soon.

Speaking of Logitech, don't forget to tune in on May 27th at 3pm ET / 12pm PT for a chance to learn about their new products and win a whole bunch of hardware, and use the form on this post for a chance to win a LogitechG G402 Mouse + G440 Mouse Pad every day until the live stream!

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"The pictures first surfaced on Maxconsole.com, along with a copy of a certificate of approval, written in what appears to be Russian. There’s nothing to determine a launch date for the G29, but sometime during 2015 would be a reasonable expectation – people, including myself, have been vexing for a decent yet affordable setup for the Playstation 4 for some time now."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: NAG Online

Lenovo Tech World: REACHit Announced with Cortana

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | May 27, 2015 - 10:00 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, reachit, microsoft, Lenovo, cortana

Yesterday during briefings at Lenovo’s North Campus just outside of Beijing, the Contextual Computing group took the opportunity to discuss their unique integration of a technology called REACHit with Cortana on Windows 10.

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REACHit is an indexing program that Lenovo has developed which is aimed at helping users find their documents among many different services and contexts. Once you authenticate REACHit with your accounts such as Dropbox, Box.net, Google Drive, or your local computers, Lenovo makes an index of the files which you keep there to help you more easily locate what you are looking for.

The most unique feature of REACHit comes in how you issue a search query. Lenovo has developed multiple contexts which they think will be useful in locating files, such as File Type, File Actions, Location, Calendar Events, and time frames. They are indexing the files you give them access to for these specific prompts, and hoping to present them in a more useful fashion.

One of the examples we were walked through involved the prompt, “Where is the presentation I was working on at Starbucks last week?”. In this case, Lenovo is looking at the file types (PPT), whether or not a file was Saved/Opened, the geolocation which this occurred at, and the time frame at which these operations took place.

We didn’t see a live demo of these searches working, and haven’t had hands-on time with the software yet so it’s hard to say if Lenovo has succeeded at their goal, but the technology seems like an interesting solution to a common problem.

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There are also security concerns about giving Lenovo access to all of your files, and letting them build an index your metadata. We have been told there is encryption being handled on Lenovo’s server side, but they couldn’t get into any further details about this.

REACHit at this point is purely integrated with Microsoft’s Cortana in Windows 10, and there is no other option for running a search or external API access. Lenovo expects REACHit to be available at the Windows 10 launch for Lenovo machines only, and is currently opening sign-ups for the private beta at Cortanareachit.com

Source: Lenovo

ASRock Launches New Braswell-Based "Beebox" Fanless PC

Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 26, 2015 - 01:18 AM |
Tagged: SFF, nuc, Intel, fanless, Cherry Trail, Braswell, asrock

Earlier this month, ASRock showed off a tiny fanless computer it is calling the Beebox. Powered by an Intel Braswell SoC, the new small form factor Beebox offers up a decent selection of I/O ports and general desktop performance while sipping power. The Beebox is approximately the size of Intel's NUC measuring 118.5mm x 110mm x 46mm x  (4.67" x 4.33" x 1.81" -- WxDxH) and will come in three color options: black, gold, and white.

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This compact PC has a fairly extensive set of ports on tap. The front panel includes a headphone jack, infrared port, one standard USB 3.0 port, and a USB 3.0 Type-C port which supports 5V/3A charging. The rear panel hosts the power jack, two HDMI outputs, one DisplayPort output, two USB 3.0 ports, a Realtek-powered Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Kensington lock slot. Not bad for a small form factor PC.

ASRock will be offering the Beebox in three configuration options including a barebones kit, a version with 32 GB internal storage, 2 GB of RAM, and Windows 10, and a Beebox SKU with 128 GB of internal storage and 4 GB of RAM (and no OS pre-installed). Each of the SKUs are powered by the same Intel Celeron N3000 Braswell SoC. From there, users can add a single 2.5" SATA drive and a Mini PCI-E card (although this slot is occupied by the included 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless module). The system uses two DDR3L SO-DIMMs and supports a maximum of 8 GB DDR3L at 1600 MHz.

The aspect that made the Beebox stand out to me was the inclusion of the Braswell-based Celeron N3000 processor. This 4W 14nm part features two Airmont CPU cores clocked at 1.04 GHz base and 2.08 GHz turbo paired with 2MB L2 cache and a Gen 8 Intel GPU clocked at up to 600 MHz. This is a desktop variant of the Cherry Trail chips being used in tablets, but it is the lowest TDP Braswell chip currently at a mere 4 watts. ASRock likely went with this chip to ensure they could passively cool it and still keep temperatures in check. As FanlessTech notes, the chassis ASRock is using leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to heat dissipation compared to other fanless cases on the market.

We will have to wait for reviews to see how well the Beebox and its Braswell processor perform, but so long as ASRock is able to keep thermals in check, the little PC should offer acceptable performance for general desktop tasks (browsing the internet, checking email, watching streaming videos, etc). Cherry Trail (and keep in mind Braswell is a higher power chip based on the same architectures) is promising noticeable improvements to graphics and at least slight improvements to CPU performance. According to ASRock, the Beebox is going to be priced aggressively at "very low" price points which should make it a good compromise between older Bay Trail-D systems and newer (and more expensive) Broadwell and Haswell systems.

The Beebox is slated for late June availability, with exact pricing to be announced at that time.

Source: Ars Technica

Fab Wars 10 nm; may the FinFET be with you

Subject: General Tech | May 26, 2015 - 12:27 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, Samsung, 10 nm FinFET

The race to 10nm FinFET production is still tight with TSMC expected to tape out their first parts towards the end of the year and Samsung today revealing a similar time line according to The Inquirer.  Samsung has also confirmed they will be starting construction on a new plant in South Korea in 2017, which is a good move for the company considering their loss of the chip contract for the new iPhone to TSMC.  With Samsung going almost full out on their 14nm FinFET lines for the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge Apple had concerns that Samsung would not be able to keep up with demand and unfortunately GLOBALFOUNDRIES could not take advantage either as their yields are, to put it politely, lacking. 

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"SAMSUNG HAS REVEALED that it will soon begin production of its 10nm FinFET node, and that the chip will be in full production by the end of 2016."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Calyx

Introduction: Improving Portable Sound

The Calyx PaT is very small USB DAC and headphone amp that can be used with PCs and mobile devices, offering the possibility of better sound from just about any digital source. So how does it sound? Let’s find out!

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The PaT is a very interesting little device, to be sure. It rather resembles a large domino and weighs less than 1 ounce thanks to an ultra-light aluminum construction. It requires no battery or power source other than its micro USB connection, yet it provides sufficient power (0.8 V output) for in-ear monitors and efficient headphones through its 3.5mm headphone jack. Inside is a proprietary mix of DAC and amplifier circuitry, and like other products produced by Calyx, a Korean company with little presence in the United States, there is the promise of a dedication to great sound. Did Calyx pull it off with the diminutive PaT?

Improving Portable Sound

Outboard DACs and headphone amplifiers for computers and mobile devices are nothing new, with recent products like AudioQuest’s Dragonfly a prime example in the portable USB DAC market (though it offers no mobile support). When I first heard about the PaT during CES it was still in the prototype stage, but I was interested because of the Calyx name if nothing else, as I already owned the Calyx M DAP and had been quite honestly blown away by the sound.

So what need might I have for the interestingly-named PaT (pronounced "paat", meaning "bean" in reference to the small size), which is itself a DAC that requires another device to play music files? It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to speak with Calyx president Seungmok Yi during CES (via video chat as I couldn’t attend the show) that I started realize that this could be a compelling product, not just for the $99 price tag - a bargain for an audiophile product - but because of how versatile the PaT can be. You don't have to identify as an "audiophile" to appreciate the clearer and more detailed sound of a good DAC, especially when so many of us simply haven't heard one (especially on mobile devices).

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Continue reading our review of the Calyx PaT USB DAC and headphone amp!!