Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 11, 2013 - 05:58 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: frame pacing, frame rating, amd, southern islands, 4k, eyefinity, crossfire, microstutter
The frame pacing issue has been covered at our website for almost a year now. It stems from the original "microstutter" problem which dates back over a year before we could quantify it. We like to use the term "Frame Rating" to denote the testing methodology we now use for our GPU tests.
AMD fared worse at these tests than NVIDIA (although even they had some problems in certain configurations). They have dedicated a lot of man-hours to the problem resulting in a driver updates for certain scenarios. Crossfire while utilizing Eyefinity or 4K MST was one area they did not focus on. The issue has been addressed in Hawaii and AMD asserted that previous cards will get a software fix soon.
The good news is that we have just received word from AMD that they plan on releasing a beta driver for Southern Islands and earlier GPUs (AMD believes it should work for anything that's not "legacy"). As usual, until it ships anything could change, but it looks good for now.
The beta "frame pacing" driver addressing Crossfire with 4K and Eyefinity, for supported HD-series and Southern Islands-based Rx cards, is expected to be public sometime in January.
Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2013 - 05:10 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: video, ultrasharp, toshiba, R9 290X, r9 290, podcast, ocz, Kaveri, dell, amd, A10-7850K, A10-7700K, 4k
PC Perspective Podcast #279 - 12/04/2013
Join us this week as we discuss R9 290 Variance Issues, OCZ's Bankruptcy, Kaveri Leaks and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Scott Michaud
Subject: General Tech, Displays | December 2, 2013 - 02:20 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: dell, ultrasharp, UP2414Q, 4k
Dell Belize published an overview of the UltraSharp UP2414Q 24" 4K monitor. I must say, 3840x2160 in a 24" display would certainly look make text look "ultra sharp". The rest of the company still does not appear to be acknowledging its existence but I think this is a pretty safe rumor.
One of the selling points of Dell UltraSharp monitors is its color gamut. It is not too difficult to find a monitor with 100% sRGB coverage, but Adobe RGB is quite larger; the UP2414Q claims to be able to reproduce 99% of it. This means that, if properly calibrated, the monitor can reach "further colors" instead of approximating them. Specifically, 100% Adobe RGB is roughly the gamut possible with color printers.
Put into perspective: my Wacom Cintiq 22HD claims 72% coverage of Adobe RGB.
Image Credit: Wikipedia
Not much else is known about this display. It does not have a price. It does not have a release date. It does not even have an official announcement date. They do claim to calibrate the monitors before they leave the factory so that is some other information, I guess. It has four USB 3.0 ports and a 6-in-1 card reader.
But I can imagine the biggest omission for our audience is: there is no official announcement about refresh rates. Ian Cutress down at Anandtech assumes, based on the Dell UltraSharp 32" UP3214Q monitor, it will support 60Hz only using two DisplayPort 1.2a connectors in MST; otherwise, 4K will be limited to 30Hz.
I would be surprised if he is not correct.
A bit of a surprise
Okay, let's cut to the chase here: it's late, we are rushing to get our articles out, and I think you all would rather see our testing results NOW rather than LATER. The first thing you should do is read my review of the AMD Radeon R9 290X 4GB Hawaii graphics card which goes over the new architecture, new feature set, and performance in single card configurations.
Then, you should continue reading below to find out how the new XDMA, bridge-less CrossFire implementation actually works in both single panel and 4K (tiled) configurations.
A New CrossFire For a New Generation
CrossFire has caused a lot of problems for AMD in recent months (and a lot of problems for me as well). But, AMD continues to make strides in correcting the frame pacing issues associated with CrossFire configurations and the new R9 290X moves the bar forward.
Without the CrossFire bridge connector on the 290X, all of the CrossFire communication and data transfer occurs over the PCI Express bus that connects the cards to the entire system. AMD claims that this new XDMA interface was designed for Eyefinity and UltraHD resolutions (which were the subject of our most recent article on the subject). By accessing the memory of the GPU through PCIe AMD claims that it can alleviate the bandwidth and sync issues that were causing problems with Eyefinity and tiled 4K displays.
Even better, this updated version of CrossFire is said to compatible with the frame pacing updates to the Catalyst driver to improve multi-GPU performance experiences for end users.
When an extra R9 290X accidentally fell into my lap, I decided to take it for a spin. And if you have followed my graphics testing methodology in the past year then you'll understand the important of these tests.
Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2013 - 06:30 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: z87, Thunderbolt 2, sonnet, Intel, idf 2013, idf, gigabyte, asus, asrock, aja, 4k
Intel recently launched its next generation Thunderbolt 2 interface, and several devices using the new connection were shown off at the Intel Developer Forum. The major takeaway from Thunderbolt 2 is the increased bandwidth and benefits to video production houses working with large uncompressed media. Specifically, Thunderbolt 2 is a PCI-Express based external interface that sends both video output and data down a single cable. Upgrades over the original 10Gbps Thunderbolt standard include an updated to the DisplayPort 1.2 video standard and double the bandwidth to 20Gbps. Thanks to the increased bandwidth, Thunderbolt 2 enables simultaneous video output and video file transfer of 4K media. Video editors can watch and transfer 4K video to an DisplayPort-equipped monitor and external RAID array respectively.
Intel is kicking off the Thunderbolt 2 standard with the launch of its DSL5520 and DSL5320 Thunderbolt 2 controllers, which are already in the hands of device manufactures. In fact, there were quite a few bits of hardware being shown off at this years IDF that already support the new Thunderbolt 2 standard. Intel is expecting even more devices in 2014.
Professional video editing and workstation hardware with Thunderbolt 2
While consumer PC hardware will be supporting Thunderbolt 2, the new interface is most beneficial to professional users and IDF was the launch pad for several high end pieces of production gear. Sonnet launched the Echo Express III external PCI-E card chassis that allows users to hook up PCI-E cards to systems via Thunderbolt 2 (for example: video capture card or fast solid state storage). Also, AJA showed off a video/audio capture box called the IO 4K that supports daisy chaining other Thunderbolt 2 devices and acts as a video capture card capable of taking in 4K and UltraHD video sources as well as high end audio inputs. Finally, PROMISE Technology showed off its Pegasus2 RAID 5 enclosure and SANLink2 Thunderbolt 2 bridge device.
External boxes are not the only professional products with Thunderbolt 2 at IDF, however. The technology is also being integrated into workstations, including the Apple Mac Pro with six Thunderbolt 2 ports and HP’s new lineup of desktop workstations.
Z87 Motherboards With Thunderbolt 2
Thunderbolt 2 will also be used in consumer gear as well, including Z87 motherboards. Asus, AsRock, and Gigabyte all had motherboards on display that each featured two Thunderbolt 2 ports. The new interface will be available on the multiple boards from the manufacturers. German tech site ComputerBase.de posted several photos of Thunderbolt 2-equipped motherboards and gave a glimpse at the upcoming hardware.
The Asus Z87-Deluxe/Quad, an AsRock Z87 motherboard, and Gigabyte Z87X-UD5 TH spotted at IDF by ComputerBase.de.
Of note are the ASUS Z87-Deluxe/Quad, AsRock Extreme 11/ac, and Gigabyte Z87X-UD7 TH. All boards off LGA 1150 CPU sockets, four DDR3 DIMM slots, a slew of SATA 6Gbps ports, multiple PCI-E 3.0 x16 and x1 slots, and rich rear IO including two Thunderbolt 2 ports (naturally).
The AsRock Z87 Extreme 11/ac via ComputerBase.de.
The following chart breaks down the specifications. Unfortunately pricing and availability have not been announced for these boards, but expect to pay a premium for the high end gaming hardware and new Thunderbolt 2 controller. (The Asrock Extreme 11/ac in particular takes the word “high end” to the, well, extreme.)
|ASUS Z87-Deluxe/Quad||AsRock Extreme 11/ac||Gigabyte Z87X-UD7 TH|
|PCI-E 3.0 x16||3||4||5|
|PCI-E 3.0 x1||4||3||2|
|Audio||6 x analog, 1 x optical||5 x analog, 1 x optical||5 x analog, 1 x optical|
|Video out||1 x HDMI||1 x HDMI, 1 x DP||1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI|
|USB 3.0||6 (+4 USB 2.0)||6 (+2 USB 2.0)||6|
It is promising to see so many devices this early into Thunderbolt 2's launch, and the various high end motherboard using both Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3 gives consumers the best of both worlds and access to all manner of external peripherals. The bandwidth increase is certainly welcome, and I am interested to see what sorts of new devices it enables. For now, I think Thunderbolt 2 is going to be mainly a professional (or at least "pro-sumer") technology. With that siad, 4K capture and video output is already being worked on, and I am curious to see what other applications and technologies will really be able to push the new 20Gbps interface and what trickles down to the consumer space!
Are you excited about Thunderbolt 2? Let us know what you think of the IDF-launched products and the interface technology in general in the comments below!
Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2013 - 02:54 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, nuc, Intel, hd 5000, haswell, 4k
Intel has announced a new Haswell-powered NUC called the D54250WYK. The new barebones kit includes an Intel D54250WYB NUC motherboard with soldered processor in a small form factor case that measures 4.6″ x 4.4″ x 1.4″. The new NUC is faster, has new IO options, and reportedly fixes the overheating issues of previous NUC systems. The Haswell-powered NUC has a bit of competition with the recently launched Gigabyte BRIX system which also got an upgrade to Intel's latest consumer architecture.
The new NUC D54250WYK barebones kit.
The Intel NUC Kit D54250WYK uses a new 4.33" x 4.33" motherboard with a pre-soldered Intel Haswell Core i5-4250U processor. The system further supports two DDR3 SO-DIMM slots (up to 16GB of 1600MHz memory), a single SATA port, two mini PCI-E slots (one for mSATA SSDs and one half-height for Wi-Fi NICs), and a USB 2.0 header supporting to USB 2.0 ports. The Core i5-4250U CPU is a 22nm chip with a 15W TDP. It is a dual core part clocked at 1.3GHz base and 2.6GHz Turbo with HyperThreading, 3MB of cache, and HD 5000 processor graphics (200Mhz base and 1GHz Turbo).
The new NUC motherboard and Haswell processor.
While Intel has removed Thunderbolt support, external IO is still decent, with the following ports:
- 2 x USB 3.0 ports
- 2 x Analog audio jacks
- 1 x Infrared receiver
2 x Video outputs:
- 1 x Mini DisplayPort 1.2
- 1 x Mini HDMI 1.4
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 2 x USB 3.0
Notably, the Intel NUC Kit with i5-4250U CPU requires active cooling, but aftermarket cases offering passive cooling are likely in the works. Of course, users will be able to purchase the barebones D54250WYK kit or just the D54250WYB NUC motherboard and CPU that can be paired with a third party or custom built case. Like Gigabyte, Intel has not released specific pricing or availability, but expect the new Haswell-powered NUC to be coming soon as the system appears to be ready to go. Hopefully full reviews will be hitting the Internet soon!
Subject: Storage | September 13, 2013 - 04:23 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Thunderbolt 2, SANlink 2, raid, promise, 4k
Promise Technology has announced that it is launching new storage solutions with Intel's new Thunderbolt 2 interface. Shown off at IDF 2013, the storage products include the Pegasus 2 series and SANLink 2 Thunderbolt 2 to 8G Fiber Channel bridge. The Pegasus 2 series is a RAID 5 external storage array that connects to Windows or Mac machines using Thunderbolt 2. The SANLink 2 bridge product allows users to connect a PC using Thunderbolt 2 to Promise Technology's VTrak or VTrak A-Class shared SAN storage.
The storage products are aimed mainly at professional video editors that are working with 4K content. According to Promise Technology, the 20Gbps bi-directional Thunderbolt 2 connection enables video editors to simultaneously transfer and display 4K video content.
Promise Technology CEO James Lee was quoted as saying:
"With the industry now poised for the widespread adoption of 4K video, the Pegasus2 Series with Thunderbolt 2 technology will revolutionize how video creators are managing 4K workflows in addition to delivering unprecedented performance to artists and enthusiasts who love to create captivating content."
Both the Pegasus2 and SANLink2 products with Thunderbolt 2 will be available in Fall 2013 for so-far undisclosed prices. The full press blast is below, for more information.
Subject: General Tech | September 9, 2013 - 01:49 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, Panasonic, ifa 2013, 4k
At the IFA 2013 trade show in Berlin, Germany, Panasonic is showing off a prototype 20” tablet with 4K high resolution display called the ToughPad 4K UT-MB5. The tablet is aimed at professional users in sales and marketing as well as artists, architects, and engineers. The UT-MB5 will come in two models: standard and performance. The performance SKU features a faster Intel Core i5 vPro processor and NVIDIA discrete graphics versus the standard version.
The Panasonic ToughPad 4K UT-MB5 is a 20” tablet with a carbon fiber case that measures 12.5mm thick and weighs 2.35 kg (5.18 lbs) for the standard version. The performance version weighs slightly more at 2.7 kg (5.95 lbs). The front of the tablet is dominated by a 20” 4K IPS display with a resolution of 3840 x 2560 (230 PPI), aspect ratio of 15:10, and 176-degree viewing angles. Above the display is a 720p webcam. The UT-MB5 has USB 3.0, SD card, optical smart card, and headphone ports. Panasonic further offers a desktop cradle that allows users to use the tablet as a desktop system by connecting a wireless keyboard and mouse. The desktop dock also expands the IO options to include HDMI output and an Ethernet port. The tablet is ruggedized and rated to be able to withstand drops up to 76cm while turned on.
Internal hardware on the 20” ToughPad includes an unspecified Intel Core i5 vPro processor, discrete NVIDIA Geforce graphics, up to 8GB of RAM, a 128GB (standard) or 256GB (performance) SSD, and Windows 8.1 Pro. There are also wireless radios for 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Panasonic also provides an optional digitizer called the Electronic Touch Pen. The custom pen connects to the tablet using Bluetooth and uses an infrared camera that can reportedly identify every pixel on the high resolution display. The pen has 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity and can also report angle of tilt.
Panasonic rates the UT-MB5 tablet at around 2 hours of battery life off of a full charge. The company sees the device as a portable touchscreen rather than a mobile tablet, and at 20” and 5+ pounds it is more of a desktop replacement than a mobile device.
The Standard SKU will be available in November for GBP 3,335 (~$5,217) in Germany and Europe. There is no word on US availability yet, however. Panasonic has stated that the higher-end Performance UT-MB5's pricing and availability will be announced at a later date. In the meantime, users can check out the standard version at the IFA show in Berlin in Hall 5.2/101.
It looks like a neat device that should be a hit for professional artists, architects, engineers, and business users alike. It comes with a premium price tag but the display and accurate digitizer is likely worth it!
Subject: General Tech | September 8, 2013 - 05:19 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: HDMI 2.0, hdmi, 4k
3840 and 2160 are common numbers around this site or at least they have been over the last half year. You might be surprised to find we have been on the 4K bandwagon since 2011 when Ryan was given some time with the EIZO DuraVision FDH3601 at a vendor presentation. Sure, that $30,000 behemoth was designed for medical imaging and air traffic control stations, but it can run DiRT 3 like a champ. But, even now, 60Hz at those resolutions require at least two cables working in unison.
HDMI 2.0, recently announced, has been designed to achieve single-cable 4K at 60 progressive frames per second.
The specification maintains the same cable configuration as HDMI 1.4. Devices which support HDMI 2.0 can be connected, at full functionality, with standard "category 2" (marketing term "high speed") cables. Currently available "high speed" cables will not need to be replaced. The devices, on the other hand, must support the higher standard but that only makes sense because... well... why would you need the cable, otherwise?
HDMI 2.0 drives a higher frequency, 600MHz up from 340 MHz, to deliver substantially more bandwidth, 18Gbps up from 10.2Gbps, than HDMI 1.4. The extra bits can be used for 32 channel audio at 1536kHz sample rates as well as the aforementioned 2160p/60 video link.
A helpful feature for many home theater enthusiasts is "dynamic synchronization of video and audio streams". To my understand, this means that end-users will not need to fiddle with latency settings on their speaker systems as the devices will properly negotiate the delay themselves.
I have not been too much of a fan of HDMI licensing requirements and restrictions, but this release is definitely major version-worthy. The compliance test is expected in late 2013. The devices, however, are what most of us care about and, well, that depends on those manufacturers.
Subject: Storage | August 12, 2013 - 05:37 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ssd, partition, MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition, 4k
SSDs and modern OSes no longer use the old 512 byte LBA alignment, or at least they don't need to and in the case of SSDs offer larger disk size and faster performance. However many people are not aware of 4k alignment nor how to check if their SSD is aligned nor what to do even if they do know it is not aligned. Hardware.Info put together a short article on the steps to verify if your SSD is aligned as well as covering a free partitioning tool called MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition which will help you align your SSD as well as other tasks common to partitioning software. As with any major changes being made at this low a level, do realize that this could cause data loss, but aligning those sectors is a great IDEMA.
"When you copy the contents of a hard disk from a PC or laptop to an SSD you have to make sure that the placement of the partitions corresponds to the underlying hardware structure. The same is true for the latest generation of hard disks. Today we'll discuss what this so-called '4k alignment' really means and what you can do in order to prevent a decrease in performance."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- ULLtraDIMM: combining SSD and DRAM for the enterprise @ Hardware.info
- Seagate 600 SSD 240GB (ST240HM000) @ NikKTech
- Plextor M5 Pro 256 GB SSD @ techPowerUp
- SanDisk Extreme 2 240GB SSD Review @ Hardware Canucks
- SanDisk Extreme II Solid State Drive SDSSDXP @ Legion Hardware
- Seagate Laptop Thin SSHD 500GB @ NikKTech
- ASUS RAIDR Express 240GB PCI-Express SSD @ Hardware.info
- Silicon Power Blaze B20 USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ Madshrimps
- Corsair Voyager Air 500GB @ Legion Hardware
- WD My Passport Ultra 1TB Portable Hard Drive Review @ Techgage
- Patriot Tab 32GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive @ eTeknix
- Kingston DT Ultimate 3.0 G3 32GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive 2 Funky Kit
- Seagate Business Storage 2-bay 6TB @ Hardware.info
- Synology DS713+ @ techPowerUp
- Seagate NAS HDD 4TB Review @ Techgage
- QNAP TS-421 and TS-420 @ Legion Hardware
- Teratrend (SilverStone) TS231U 2 Bay USB3.0 RAID Enclosure @ eTeknix
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