Subject: General Tech, Networking | January 15, 2014 - 02:27 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, SteamOS, pc game streaming
In-Home Streaming could be the feature most likely to kick-off SteamOS adoption. This functionality brings existing PCs to televisions without requiring the user to actually bring the box to their living room. Likewise, to justify purchasing a SteamOS behemoth, it seems likely to me that Valve will allow streaming back to Steam client from Steam Machines.
Video Credit: Devin Watson (Youtube)
Obviously the catalog of Windows games is the most obvious usage for In-Home Streaming but, in some years, maintaining just one high-end computer might dominate.
We will soon find out more about how it works. Valve has just allowed the first wave of development partners (and apparently many others) to the In-Home Streaming closed beta. Youtube videos are already beginning to leak out, or not-leak out depending on the NDA if one exists, which show it in action. The video, embedded above, is of a Lenovo T410 with an Intel Core i5 and integrated graphics streaming DayZ over Wireless-G. It looks pretty good at, they claim, without any noticeable lag.
The floodgates are open. Now, we wait with our umbrellas.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Networking, Processors, Mobile | October 19, 2013 - 01:45 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SoC, p5600, MIPS, imagination
Imagination Technologies, a company known for its PowerVR graphics IP, has unleashed its first Warrior P-series MIPS CPU core. The new MIPS core is called the P5600 and is a 32-bit core based on the MIPS Release 5 ISA (Instruction Set Architecture).
The P5600 CPU core can perform 128-bit SIMD computations, provide hardware accelerated virtualization, and access up to a 1TB of memory via virtual addressing. While the MIPS 5 ISA provides for 64-bit calculations, the P5600 core is 32-bit only and does not include the extra 64-bit portions of the ISA.
The MIPS P5600 core can scale up to 2GHz in clockspeed when used in chips built on TSMC's 28nm HPM manufacturing process (according to Imagination Technologies). Further, the Warrior P5600 core can be used in processors and SoCs. As many as six CPU cores can be combined and managed by a coherence manager and given access to up to 8MB of shared L2 cache. Imagination Technologies is aiming processors containing the P5600 cores at mobile devices, networking appliances (routers, hardware firewalls, switches, et al), and micro-servers.
A configuration of multiple P5600 cores with L2 cache.
I first saw a story on the P5600 over at the Tech Report, and found it interesting that Imagination Technologies was developing a MIPS processor aimed at mobile devices. It does make sense to see a MIPS CPU from the company as it owns the MIPS intellectual property. Also, a CPU core is a logical step for a company with a large graphics IP and GPU portfolio. Developing its own MIPS CPU core would allow it to put together an SoC with its own CPU and GPU components. With that said, I found it interesting that the P5600 CPU core was being aimed at the mobile space, where ARM processors currently dominate. ARM is working to increase performance while Intel is working to bring its powerhouse x86 architecture to the ultra low power mobile space. Needless to say, it is a highly competitive market and Imagination Technologies new CPU core is sure to have a difficult time establishing itself in that space of consumer smartphone and tablet SoCs. Fortunately, mobile chips are not the only processors Imagination Technologies is aiming the P5600 at. It is also offering up the MIPS Series 5 compatible core for use in processors powering networking equipment and very low power servers and business appliances where the MIPS architecture is more commonplace.
In any event, I'm interested to see what else IT has in store for its MIPS IP and where the Warrior series goes from here!
More information on the MIPS 5600 core can be found here.
Subject: General Tech, Networking, Systems, Mobile | August 6, 2013 - 04:18 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Surface RT, microsoft
It has been a month, to the day, since I picked on Windows RT for being more locked down than a Nintendo console. Devices, including Microsoft's own Surface RT, did not allow USB to Ethernet dongles for wired internet access. Compared to the Wii, that is quite pathetic.
Certain users have been able to use adapters until apparently, according to Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft helped ensure they are broke as intended. They are also demanding hardware manufacturers, who otherwise could support the operating system, to withhold drivers from their customers.
If you were one of those people who managed to get an Ethernet dongle working with your ARM-based Surface RT, you've probably since discovered that it no longer works.
I did not see any confirmation of Microsoft disabling any drivers so, bare in mind, I might have just misunderstood the above quote. Apparently, though, the issue arises from Connected Standby conflicts with those dongles.
But that does not mean Microsoft will continue to prevent Ethernet dongles.
According to the same article from Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft is quietly working on a fix for the issue. They are currently working, along with hardware manufacturers, on creating devices which can support the instant-on, instant-off feature. The cynic in me, of course, wonders if Microsoft will be first to market with the, albeit rumored, corrected peripheral.
Personally, I feel that a consumer who purchases one of your devices should be allowed to install hardware understanding the tradeoff. It would not be too difficult to pop up a warning, "Your USB device is not compatible with Connected Standby; the feature will resume when your accessory is removed".
Just another advantage for truly personal PCs.
Subject: General Tech, Networking | August 1, 2013 - 09:43 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: qualcomm, killer, Intel, 802.11n
Another BigFoot sighting...
PCWorld compared an Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 to a Qualcomm Killer Wireless-N 1202 using two distinct benchmarks. The first of the tests, a ping and jitter assessment written by Qualcomm, claimed a significant win (2ms vs Intel's 4-8ms) for Killer between laptop and router. The second test measured bandwidth where Qualcomm matched or sometimes doubled Intel's performance except in close range 5GHz scenarios; Intel won, in those cases, by about a factor of two.
Of course, a difference of 2-to-6ms is low for online games. I would imagine those who are genuinely concerned about latency, especially during a LAN Party, would not settle for any form of wireless solution much less plan ahead for it. That could be just my perspective, however; I almost never consider Wi-Fi adapters because I will immediately hunt for an Ethernet jack.
That said, Qualcomm is apparently selling these adapters for prices very comparable to Intel. According to these benchmarks, grains of salt added to taste, Killer would not be a downgrade for a gaming device and should be considered if presented to you. The only time it clearly lost is high speed data transfers at 5GHz less than 10 feet away.
Seriously, Ethernet, keep one in your laptop bag. Magic.
If curious about a purchase, check out the benchmarks (or just skip 802.11n and look for 802.11ac or .11ad equipment); if curious for entertainment, check out Ryan's review of the original, wired, Killer NIC.
Subject: General Tech, Networking, Mobile | July 6, 2013 - 03:31 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows rt, Surface RT, reverse-consolitis
It is a good thing that Windows RT is not always online, because you would be pretty screwed if you did not have access to a wireless network. To compensate for a lack of ethernet, users can typically plug in a USB to wired internet dongle; this is even possible with consoles such as the Wii. Microsoft makes one such accessory for their line of Surface tablets.
Wow, if only my PC was as open as my console...
Paul Thurrott even tried a handful of third-party adapters to similar, depressing, results on both Windows RT RTM. While the ability to attach your device to a wired high-speed internet jack is niche nowadays, mostly for users of HD video conferencing and certain hotels, it highlights the gigantic problem with Windows RT and other consumer tablet OSes: there will be some things you wish that your device did that it simply will not be able to do.
Computex 2013: ASUS Keynote -- Transformer Pad Infinity, FonePad Note, MEMO Pad HD7, VivoPC, Router RT-AC68U, Transformer Book Trio
Subject: General Tech, Networking, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2013 - 04:20 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: computex, asus
ASUS wants to kick off Computex with a barrage of product announcements. Seriously, there were 6 products announced in the span of 20 minutes with no two product from the same category. Devices range from tablets and convertibles to routers and mice.
The company started off with the new Transformer Pad Infinity. This updates their line of separable hybrid laptop/tablets with NVIDIA Tegra 4.
- NVIDIA Tegra 4 SoC
- 2560x1600 10.1-inch display
- USB 3.0, Bluetooth, 4K out via HDMI
- 6MP (I think, could be 16MP) rear, 1.2 MP front cameras
Up next was the FonePad Note. A page from Samsung's playbook, both in name and in functionality, the FonePad is a 6" phone with a stylus pen. Coming off our recent Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 story, this device will also be powered by an Intel Atom Z2560 SoC. These could be the start of many high-profile design wins for Intel.
- Intel Atom Z2560 SoC
- 2GB RAM
- 6" 1080p SuperIPS+ display, thin border
- 8MP rear, 1.2MP front cameras
- Front-facing stereo speakers
- Stylus Pen
And then we get the MEMO Pad HD7. This 7-inch 1280x800 HD tablet is designed to be cheap. It will be available for $149 in 16GB capacity for America, and a smaller $129 8GB version for emerging markets.
- ARM Cortex A7 quad-core SoC
- 7-inch 1280x800 HD IPS display (10-point multitouch)
- 5MP rear, 1.2MP front cameras
- Bluetooth, GPS, stereo speakers
- (starting at?) 16GB ($149) USA, 8GB ($129) emerging markets
We briefly leave mobile devices to head towards a desktop computer. The VivoPC is designed to be easily upgraded, "Just lift the lid and replace the harddrive and memory". This is being positioned as a home theater PC running Windows 8. We currently have no further specifications.
- It's got a lid?
And of course, with the discussion of an 802.11ac device we clearly need to move on to routers. The ASUS Router RT-AC68U, while a slight bit literal of a name, is supposedly the first dual-band 802.11ac Router. I am not exactly sure what the second band would be, but I am only the messenger. Regardless, this router is apparently capable of performance up to 1.9 Gigabits per second.
And then we cannot have all of these HTPC devices without an input method, can we? Enter the ASUS VivoMouse. This device allows you to more comfortably control your PC from your couch, as far as I can tell.
Last, but with a bang, ASUS announced the Transformer Book Trio. As you can guess, the Trio name comes from its three form factors being wrapped up into a single product: it's a notebook, a tablet, and a desktop PC. Do not worry, I will not make an iPhone announcement keynote joke; that one has already been well overplayed.
The trick is that the Trio is actually two fully functional computers with one running Android and the other Window 8. Both devices are powered by an x86 Intel-based processor, however: the main PC runs a Core i7-4500U processor and the tablet runs an Atom Z2580.
A main selling feature is that, when base is separated from screen, both devices are simultaneously useable. If you attach the base to an external monitor it will function like a desktop PC.
- Intel Core i7-4500U (base), Intel Atom Z2580 (tablet)
- Full HD multitouch IPS display
- Windows 8 (base), Android Jelly Bean (screen)
- 1TB HDD (base), 64GB flash (screen)
- Fully compatible with Google Play and Windows Stores
Well, that's it. We will probably have a bit more analysis coming up soon. But, for now, I need to get off of Taipei time.
Subject: Networking | May 28, 2013 - 03:21 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wi-fi, quantenna, qsr1000, mu-mimo, 802.11ac
Quantenna, has announced a new 802.11ac QSR1000 chip that is capable of delivering up to 1.7Gbps throughput. The new chip achieves the wireless throughput by supporting a combination of Multi-User MIMO, four spatial streams, 256-QAM modulation, and beamforming technology. More information on 802.11ac and the related technologies can be found here.
The Quantenna chip is a competitor to Broadcom's offerings and it is intended for use in wireless routers, access points, Set Top Boxes (STB), and other consumer electronics gear. It is the first "wave 2" (second iteration of the 802.11ac specification) 802.11ac chip, and is the fastest so far. Quantenna was able to get a theoretical max of 435.2Mbps of throughput per spatial stream, which is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, client devices (computers, smartphones, tablets, et al) will also have to support the MU-MIMO technology and have the hardware to transmit and receive multiple streams to take full advantage of the 1.7Gbps max throughput.
There is no word on which upcoming wireless devices the Quantenna chip will be used in, but the company is making the new QSR1000 chip available to manufacturers as early as Q3 of this year. Actual routers and other gear using the chip and widely available to consumers will likely not hit the market until early next year, however.
Subject: Networking | April 15, 2013 - 02:28 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: skydog, gigabit router, 5GHz wifi
A new piece of networking hardware from PowerCloud Systems recently emerged on popular crowd-funding site Kickstarter. Aimed at consumers, the Skydog router is paired with a web interface and mobile application that makes managing your home network extremely accessible.
The Skydog router hardware itself has already passed regulatory certifications, and the super early bird backers will each get one of 250 pre-production units. The router features five Gigabit Ethernet ports (one port is for the WAN), a USB port, and a dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi radio. The Wi-Fi radio can operate on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands simultaneously, and has a maximum rated throughput of 300Mbps per band. The router chassis measures 17 x 11 x 2.5cm and includes a number of blue indicator LEDs on the top-front edge. The USB port is not currently supported, but is there for future feature updates.
Where Skydog differentiates itself from the crowd is in the software. After connecting the router to your modem and computers, you can log into the web interface. It will prompt you for either a Google or Skydog account, and then will reportedly automatically configure itself. The software supports Quality of Service (QoS) features that will allow you to prioritize certain traffic and/or to give bandwidth priority to certain users. The web interface will show you network statistics, connected devices, device signal strength, track and notify users of network issues (for example, the internet going down) via the Skydog mobile app, and track and restrict the websites users visit. Further, the administrator can set up schedules on a per-user basis. The schedules can restrict usage by approved time slices and by bandwidth limits. It will notify users when they are approaching the allotted time or bandwidth limit via the mobile app. Real time notifications include ISP connection issues, guests requesting access to the network, and the above-mentioned bandwidth limit notifications.
According to the Kickstarter FAQ, the Skydog Home Network (which consists of the router and management software) will cost approximately $149 for three years or $199 for five years without a monthly fee. The wording suggests that a model with a lower hardware cost but monthly charge might also be available. The cloud service is a bit worrisome, and I'm not sure if I like the idea of essentially renting the router via monthly or yearly fees. This router is not going to be for everyone, but it does have some useful and inventive features for families. This would be a router that I could see the various ISPs offering up as a rental device and that I might set up for my friends or relatives with kids so that they could easily manage the network and restrict the kids access to certain times of the day and age appropriate sites.
With 29 days left in the Kickstarter, the project has 543 backers, and $51,905 pledged of the 75,000 goal. It certainly looks like it is going to be funded, and I hope that the Kickstarter leads to a successful retail product launch.
Subject: General Tech, Networking, Motherboards | March 5, 2013 - 03:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: qualcomm, msi, killer nic, Intel Z77
MSI says “JUST GAME!”... but... I must write up their announcement first...
The computer components company would like us to “JUST GAME!” on their gaming motherboards, of course. This press release is for the MSI Killer Z77 gaming motherboard. The board supports the DDR3-3000, Creative Sound Blaster Cinema with Crystalizer, OC Genie II, and Military Class III initiatives.
But to call yourself Killer, you got some big shoes to fill.
Yes MSI, we get it. Challenge accepted.
What makes it a “Killer” announcement is the addition of a Killer E2200 LAN chip from Qualcomm's Bigfoot Networks. We have a fair amount of experience with the gamer networking hardware company; Ryan wrote a review all the way back in 2006. Since then, the company found themselves scooped up by Qualcomm where they found their technology integrated into motherboards from various manufacturers. They have also dabbled into wireless technology.
MSI proclaims with the E2200 LAN chip, their motherboard will have to use less space to house the chip when compared to the earlier Killer E2100. Also, for users running Windows 8, the E2200 was designed to support that operating system. Linux gamers? You too, but not until the second half of 2013.
If you want to see what the PR people have to say, check out Qualcomm's blog post.
CES 2013: The Verge Interviews Gave Newell for Steam Box. Valve's Director Hints Post-Kepler GPUs Can Be Virtualized!
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Networking, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2013 - 11:11 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, gaben, Gabe Newell, ces 2013, CES
So the internet has been in a roar about The Steam Box and it probably will eclipse Project Shield as topic of CES 2013. The Verge scored an interview to converse about the hardware future of the company and got more than he asked for.
Now if only he would have discussed potential launch titles.
Wow! That *is* a beautiful knife collection.
The point which stuck with me most throughout the entire interview was directed at Valve’s opinion of gaming on connected screens. Gabe Newell responded,
The Steam Box will also be a server. Any PC can serve multiple monitors, so over time, the next-generation (post-Kepler) you can have one GPU that’s serving up eight simulateneous [sic] game calls. So you could have one PC and eight televisions and eight controllers and everybody getting great performance out of it. We’re used to having one monitor, or two monitors -- now we’re saying lets expand that a little bit.
This is pretty much confirmation, assuming no transcription errors on the part of The Verge, that Maxwell will support the virtualization features of GK110 and bring it mainstream. This also makes NVIDIA Grid make much more sense in the long term. Perhaps NVIDIA will provide some flavor of a Grid server for households directly?
The concept gets me particularly excited. One of the biggest wastes of money the tech industry has is purchasing redundant hardware. Consoles are a perfect example: not only is the system redundant to your other computational device which is usually at worst a $200 GPU away from a completely better experience, you pay for software to be reliant on that redundant platform which will eventually disappear along with said software. In fact, many have multiple redundant consoles because the list of software they desire is not localized to just one system so they need redundant redundancies. Oy!
A gaming server should help make the redundancy argument more obvious. If you need extra interfaces then you should only need to purchase the extra interfaces. Share the number crunching and only keep it up to date.
Also check out the rest of the interview over at The Verge. I decided just to cover a small point with potentially big ramifications.
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