Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 10:41 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: virtualization, radeon, onlive, gaming, cloud gaming, ciinow, amd
In the wake of OnLive going bankrupt and selling itself to new investors, a new cloud gaming company has emerged called CiiNOW. The company was founded in 2010 and now has 24 employees. It has managed to raise more than $13 million USD, but with a new investment from new chip designer AMD CiiNow is ready to go public with its software. Interestingly, instead of starting its own cloud gaming service, CiiNow is positioning itself as a Middleware company by selling its virtualization and gaming software to other companies. Those business customers would then use CiiNow’s software to start their own cloud gaming services.
In the deal with AMD, CiiNOW will recommend AMD Radeon graphics cards to customers as well as supporting them on its software platform. According to CiiNow, its virtualized platform is able to run on any data center or cloud computing platform’s hardware. While OnLive generally required specialized servers where the graphics card was dedicated to providing games to one (or a small number of) user(s), CiiNow claims to be able to provide up to eight 720p HD streams per server blade, and up to 272 HD streams per traditional server rack. On the user side of things, CiiNow has stated that gamers would need at least a Mbps internet connection in order to play the streamed games effectively. Company CEO Ron Haberman was quoted by Venture Beat in stating the following:
“One of the big issues with cloud gaming is that no one likes to talk about costs, we are more economical because we virtualize any hardware that fits underneath our software.”
While the company has not gone into details about how the virtualization software works on off-the-shelf servers, they claim that it is an extremely scalable solution that can support rapidly growing numbers of end users without dramatically increasing hardware costs. It's impossible to say how well cloud gaming services based on this technology will work without more details or a hands on, but it is nice to see someone else take up the mantle from OnLive – especially with competitor Gaikai being bought out by Sony. CiiNow wants its technology to be used to deliver AAA titles to gamers over the Internet, so I'm interested in how they are going to pull that off using varying hardware with CiiNow's software layer running on top (specifically, the performance they will be able to get out of the hardware and how it will be sliced up between clients/gamers).
The company has said that games will not need to be ported to the virtualized software to work, only a DRM free copy from the publisher needs to be provided to load it onto the platform. Further, the cloud gaming provider using CiiNow's software will be able to support game pads and other controllers to interact with the streamed games. CiiNow does not list specific latency numbers on its site, but claims that it is using a low latency H.264 video stream to send the gameplay down to users. It remains to be seen whether or not it will be able to match or exceed NVIDIA's GRID technology in that respect, however.
There are still a lot of questions about how CiiNOW's software will work, and whether it will advance cloud gaming in general. Fortunately, you should be able to get some answers soon as the company's software is now available to the public, and we should start to see some new cloud gaming providers popping up based on the virtualization technology. Reportedly, the company has completed several trial runs in Europe and has potential customers in the US, Korea, and Australia. CiiNow claims that it could take around two months from when a customer orders equipment before its cloud gaming service can go live, so the first fruits of CiiNow's labor might emerge by the end of this year.
There is a preview of a cloud gaming service up on CiiNOW's website, but no partners with plans to launch gaming services have been publicly announced yet.
In the video below, CiiNOW CEO Ron Haberman introduces the company's new cloud gaming platform.
Continue reading for my speculation and brief thoughts on cloud gaming. Feel free to join the comment discussion (no registration required).
Subject: Motherboards | September 10, 2012 - 09:29 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mini-itx, htpc, fusion, biostar, APU, amd, a68i-350 deluxe, a68
While Intel has gotten a lot of Mini-ITX love lately, AMD is not out of the game yet. Motherboard manufacturer Biostar recently launched an AMD Fusion APU powered Mini-ITX motherboard that would make for a nice little HTPC. The A68I-350 Deluxe is based around some of the latest technologies including support for DDR3, PCI-E 3.0, and USB 3.0 standards.
The A68I-350 Deluxe motherboard measures 17 cm x 17 cm and comes with a bundled dual core AMD Fusion 350D APU. A heatsink and passive cooling for the south bridge are also provided in the package. The graphics card, memory, storage and other accessories are up to you, however. The Mini-ITX board features two DDR3 DIMM slots that support a maximum of 16 GB. Located in the lower right-hand corner are three SATA 3 6Gbps ports. Below that is a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot for a graphics card or other peripheral. Additional internal IO includes:
- 1 x printer header
- 2 x USB 2.0 header
- 1 X front panel audio
- 1 X front panel header (hdd, power, reset, ect)
- 1 x S/PDIF-OUT header
- 1 x CPU fan header
- 1 x system fan header
- 1 x serial header
According to Biostar, the motherboard also uses all solid capacitors to improve longevity.
Rear IO on the board is not quite as extensive as some of the other offerings available, but is still fairly good for the price. It features two PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse, one HDMI out, one VGA output, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, one Ethernet port (Realtek RTL8111F Gigabit controller), and three audio output jacks (Realtek ALC662 6-channel HD audio).
The AMD APU that comes with the A68I-350 Deluxe features Radeon 6310 graphics, which are not the fastest but will still provide plenty of oomph for watching videos on the big screen. While it has not yet shown up at online retailers like Amazon and Newegg yet, it is reportedly already shipping and will have an MSRP of € 66 (euros) or approximately $84 USD. Considering the Intel options that have recently surfaced are going for $100+ easily, this Biostar motherboard should provide a nice budget option for your next HTPC or small form factor PC build!
You can find more information on the A68I-350 Deluxe over at the Biostar website.
Subject: General Tech | September 6, 2012 - 02:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vishera, trinity, Steamroller, piledriver, hot chips, bulldozer, amd, Abu Dhabi
You've seen the slides everywhere and read through what Josh could observe and predict from those slides but at the end of Hot Chips will still know little more about the core everyone is waiting for. The slides show a core little changed from Bulldozer, which is exactly what we've been expecting as AMD has always described Steamroller as a refined Bulldozer design, improving the existing architecture as opposed to a complete redesign. SemiAccurate did pull out one little gem which might mean good news for both AMD and consumers which pertains to the high density libraries slide. The 30% decrease in size and power consumption seems to have been implemented by simply using the high density libraries that AMD uses for GPUs. As this library already exists, AMD didn't need to spend money to develop it, they essentially managed this 30% improvement with a button press, as SemiAccurate put it. This could well mean that Steamroller will either come out at a comparatively low price or will give AMD higher profit margins ... or a mix of both.
"With that in mind, the HDL slide was rather interesting. AMD is claiming that if you rebuild Bulldozer with an HDL library, the resulting chip has a 30% decrease in size and power use. To AMD at least, this is worth a full shrink, but we only buy that claim if it is 30% smaller and 30% less power hungry, not 30% in aggregate. That said, it is a massive gain with just a button press.
AMD should be applauded, or it would have been, but during the keynote, the one thing that kept going through my mind was, “Why didn’t they do this 5 years ago?”. If you can get 30% from changing out a library to the ones you build your GPUs with, didn’t someone test this out before you decided on layout tools?"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The best and worst of IFA 2012 @ The Inquirer
- US energy lab's pump-happy petaflopper goes green @ The Register
- Quantum Teleportation Sends Information 143 Kilometers @ Slashdot
- Finger-free Kinect coming to fondlesome Windows 8 @ The Register
- VIA suffers close to 15% on-month drop in August revenues @ DigiTimes
- Micron expresses interest in partnering with TSMC @ DigiTimes
- An Argument Against Expensive Solid State Drives @ Benchmark Reviews
- Interview: 2Dawn Games on its upcoming shooter 'Ravaged' and life as an indie studio @ TechSpot
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 3, 2012 - 07:16 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: powercolor pcs+, powercolor, gpu boost, amd, 7950 with boost, 7950
Earlier this month AMD announced that it was upgrading the Radeon HD 7950 graphics card to run at higher clockspeeds and with boost capability. The PowerTune with Boost technology uses digital temperature estimation and dynamic voltage control to increase the GPU core clockspeed above the base clockspeed in most applications.
Using a new BIOS, manufacturers would be able to refresh their existing lineups to enable PowerTune with Boost and higher clockspeeds. Original graphics cards along with the refreshed boost-capable GPUs will be sold in parallel (the original 7950s are not being phased out completely yet). And in a somewhat similar situation to unlockable 6950 reference cards, users could attempt to flash the new boost-capable BIOS to their original HD 7950s – though it is not guaranteed to work (and that's where the OEM certification becomes useful).
AMD Add In Board (AIB) partner PowerColor (who recently launched the Devil 13 7990) has released its second Radeon HD 7950 graphics card with boost in the form of its custom – and factory overclocked – PCS+ graphics card. The original PCS+ and new "Boost State" graphics card will be sold simultaneously, and (fortunately) you will be able to tell them apart by the red Boost State sticker on the box and the new "Boost State" labeling tacked onto the product name at online retailers. The new PowerColor PCS+ HD7950 3GB GDDR5 Boost State graphics card steps up the factory overclock to 900 MHz base while keeping the same PCS+ cooler and PCB design. The triple-slot design incorporates a cooler with dual 92mm fans and three 8mm heatpipes connected to an aluminum fin array. The PCB hosts the 7950 GPU, 3GB of GDDR5 RAM clocked at 1250 MHz, 6+2+1 power phase, digital PWM circuitry, and ferrite core chokes. A dual BIOS switch and two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors are also present. Video outputs include two mini-DisplayPorts, one HDMI, and one DVI.
Those specifications remain unchanged, and the new graphics card is essentially a PCS+ HD7950 that has been certified to run with the updated BIOS at the new GPU clockspeeds (and with boost). It may be possible to flash an original PCS+ 7950 with the updated BIOS and get the same performance as the new card but there are, obviously, no guarantees. However, because of the dual BIOS switch the risk of permanent damage is minimal (though the warranty would likely be void).
There is no word on pricing or when exactly you will be able to buy the new "Boost State" cards, but they should start showing up at retailers soon. Expect pricing to be a bit above the original PCS+ GPU's (approx.) $330 retail price.
Subject: Mobile | September 3, 2012 - 03:06 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ultrabook, s405, s400, s300, Lenovo, laptop, Ivy Bridge, core i5, budget, amd, a8
Tablets and ultrabooks have stolen the IFA 2012 show, but the hardware – while nice to look at – is not for everyone, especially for the price. It seems that Lenovo has the budget showings covered by announcing three budget laptops that offer up some decent specifications.
Lenovo has added three new laptops to its Ideapad S series, and the specifications of the new models are vastly improved versus the current netbook-class S-series models. The new additions are the S300, S400, and S405, and all three are packing the latest generation processors from Intel and AMD respectively.
All three of the laptops feature a display resolution of 1366x768, full QWERTY keyboard, trackpad with gesture support, 720p webcam, and a "tactile metal finish" for the laptop lid that comes in silver, pink, or red colors. External ports include an SD card slot, two USB 2.0 ports, a headphone jack, and power jack on the right side and a USB 3.0 port, HDMI output, Ethernet jack, and recovery button on the left. They are all expected to provide around four hours of battery life, and the laptops weigh in at 3.97 pounds and are 0.86" thick. All three models will come with Windows 7, but will eligible for the $14.99 upgrade to Windows 8 Pro.
According to the press release, all three models will have cotton candy pink, red, and silver-gray lid color options in a "tactile" metal finish, though only the S300 has been spotted in the wild with the pink lid.
The S300 has a 13.3" screen while the S400 and S405 have 14" screens, but they share the same chassis, which means that the S300 will have a slightly bigger bezel but otherwise will be the same as the higher-end models on the outside.
On the inside, the S300 is powered by an Intel ultra low voltage (ULV) Core i3 or Core i5 "Ivy Bridge" processor, a 500GB mechanical hard drive, up to 4GB of RAM, and optional AMD Radeon 7450M graphics. Other features include Intel's WiDi (wireless display) technology, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and stereo speakers powered by Dolby Advanced Audio v2.
The S400 follows that exact same pattern: Intel ULV Core i3/i5 Ivy Bridge CPU, up to 500GB spinning platter hard drive, 4GB of RAM, optional AMD Radeon 7450M GPU, WiDi, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, stereo speakers and WiDi support. The differences include a larger 14" LED backlit display (at that same 1366x768 resolution, unfortunately) and an optional 32GB SSD.
The S400 comes in two different lid color options: a black interior and red lid, or a black interior with silver lid.
The S405 breaks the mold by replacing the Intel Ivy Bridge processor for an AMD A8 Trinity APU. It can also have up to 1TB of mechanical hard drive storage, 4GB of RAM, and optional AMD Radeon 7450M. Alternatively, it can be upgraded to a 32GB SSD. It features the same LED backlit 14" display and red/black or silver/black color scheme as the S400. The WiDi option does not appear to be included with the Ideapad S405 (which would make sense), but otherwise it is essentially the S400 without the Intel CPU/iGPU.
All three notebooks will be available later this month in the US, and the starting price is $499. The new Lenovo Ideapads make up a nice middle ground between expensive thin-and-light ultrabooks and low cost tablet+keyboard combinations. The quality of the keyboard and trackpad are really going to make or break the new S-series notebooks, because if they manage to pull off a good typing experience these could be some decent travel companions for people that need a productivity machine with a bit of "oomph" thanks to the Intel i5 or AMD Trinity APU. On the other hand, if the keyboard is crappy, the middle ground budget notebooks will really miss the entire point and road warriors will need to look elsewhere. Be on the lookout for reviews on these S-series Lenovo notebooks, as they look interesting for the money (if you are in the position of looking for a budget workhorse machine/one that would not be as terrible to lose on a trip, et al).
What do you think about the new budget Lenovo laptops?
Subject: Systems | August 31, 2012 - 02:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: trinity, SFF, htpc, Arctic MC101, amd, a10-4600m
There is a lot to like about the Arctic MC101 HTPC, from the brushed aluminium exterior to the Trinity based quad core A10-4600M and HD7660M graphics core that comes with the A10. Bjorn3D thought it was rather strange that the system ships without a remote control but thankfully it does have an IR sensor so a Windows Media Centre type remote will work perfectly. Connectivity is quite good, USB 3.0, combo USB 2.0/eSATA port, a headphone jack and a 4-in-1 memory card reader, along the front and sides. The back panel has even more, TV antenna, an audio out port, a line-in jack, SPDIF audio out, 4 USB 2.0 ports, two more USB 3.0 ports, HDMI-out and an ethernet port. At ~$750 it will set you back a bit to purchase and after reading Bjorn3D's review you may be willing to spend it.
"Arctic’s latest home entertainment system user an AMD A10-4600M APU, bringing a powerful combination of CPU and GPU in a tiny little box. Packed with WiFi, TV Tuner, 8GB RAM, and 1TB of storage, the MC101 brings us plenty of power for our media needs and is also able to deliver decent gaming performance."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Arctic MC101-A10 Home Entertainment Centre @ Kitguru
- Mede8er MED1000X3D review - 3D media player without Android @ Hardware.info
- 128-inch silver screen for your viewing room @ Hack a Day
- Pivos XIOS DS Media Play! Android Media Player @ Tweaktown
Subject: General Tech | August 30, 2012 - 04:22 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: zotac, Steamroller, ssd, revodrive, podcast, ocz, msi, MARS III, Intel, galaxy, evga, asus, arm, ARES II, amd, 7990, 690, 660ti
PC Perspective Podcast #216 - 08/30/2012
Join us this week as we talk about our GTX 660Ti Roundup, AMD Steamroller Details, Multi GPU Graphics Card Rumors and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom and Allyn Malvantano
Program length: 1:01:56
- PCPer moving to pcper.com/live
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
Podcast topics of discussion:
- Week in Reviews:
- 0:29:45 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
News items of interest:
- 0:30:25 EVGA 1500 watt power supply
- 0:34:30 Powercolor HD 7990 Devil 13 graphics card
- 0:37:26 AMD releases FX-4130 and lowers prices
- 0:39:24 Synology refreshes DiskStation
- 0:40:50 ASUS MARS III GTX 680 - dreamers only
- 0:43:17 EVGA Mini ITX Z77 motherboard
- 0:45:15 NVIDIA shows Unreal Engine 3 on Tegra 3
- 1-888-38-PCPER or email@example.com
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
Subject: General Tech | August 29, 2012 - 06:25 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: xfx, Intel, hd 7950, gaming, amd
The Tech Report wanted to explore the effect that modern CPUs have on your gaming experience and so they took an XFX Radeon HD 7950 Double Dissipation 3GB with Catalyst 12.3 drivers and paired it with a variety of builds. In order to cover the wide variety of processors available today, they built systems on five different motherboards with 8 different AMD chips and 11 different Intel processors. Then, not only did they test the performance of these various systems while gaming, they also replicated some tests with a video transcoding task in the background to test their multitasking abilities. You can skip to the end of the review and check out the price versus performance graphs but with all the work they put into it you should read the whole article.
"We bring our signature latency-focused game testing methods to bear on the latest crop of desktop CPUs. In the process, we learn a some things and shatter a few popular myths."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Valve Finds Value In Open-Source Drivers; L4D2 Running On Mesa @ Phoronix
- Sleeping Dogs (PC) Review @ Techgage
- Ocs Must Die 2 @ XSReviews
- Guild Wars 2 (PC) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Gamings Finest Moments Horror @ eTeknix
- Spec Ops Lead Hits Out At “Tacked On” Multiplayer @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Enemy Yours: Watch An Hour Of The XCOM Remake @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- A Tad Unusual? Otherland Enters Beta @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Win a copy of Damage Inc.: Pacific Squadron WWII @ Hexus
- Sleeping Dogs Xbox 360 @ Tweaktown
- CrazyQuest for iOS - A Fun, Quirky Retro RPG Experience @ Techgage
Ah, the end of August. School is about to start. American college football is about to get underway. Hot Chips is now in full swing. I guess the end of August caters to all sorts of people. For the people who are most interested in Hot Chips, the amount of information on next generation CPU architectures is something to really look forward to. AMD is taking this opportunity to give us a few tantalizing bits of information about their next generation Steamroller core which will be introduced with the codenamed “Kaveri” APU due out in 2013.
AMD is seemingly on the brink of releasing the latest architectural update with Vishera. This is a Piledriver+ based CPU that will find its way into AM3+ sockets. On the server side it is expected that the Abu Dhabi processors will also be released in a late September timeframe. Trinity was the first example of a Piledriver based product, and it showed markedly improved thermals as compared to previous Bulldozer based products, and featured a nice little bump in IPC in both single and multi-threaded applications. Vishera and Abu Dhabi look to be Piledriver+, which essentially means that there are a few more tweaks in the design that *should* allow it to go faster per clock than Trinity. There have been a few performance leaks so far, but nothing that has been concrete (or has shown final production-ready silicon).
Until that time when Vishera and its ilk are released, AMD is teasing us with some Steamroller information. This presentation is featured at Hotchips today (August 28). It is a very general overview of improvements, but very few details about how AMD is achieving increased performance with this next gen architecture are given. So with that, I will dive into what information we have.
Subject: General Tech | August 28, 2012 - 01:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: virtualization, Seoul, seamicro, opteron, Delhi, amd, Abu Dhabi
AMD recently compared the cost per virtual machine of two eight-core 2.9GHz Xeon E5-2690 processors with 256GB in each node against servers with two 16-core 2.7GHz Opteron 6284SE and only 128GB per node. Hyperthreading was enabled on the Intel machines so each box presented 64 threads to the VMmark test you can see below. AMD is hoping to highlight the difference in pricing, while they may perform about 25% slower than an Intel based server, they cost 30% less to purchase, which in racks costing $10,000 or more will add up to some significant savings. As well The Register talks about the future of AMD's servers, we know that the Abu Dhabi Opteron 6300s for two-socket and four-socket machines, the Seoul Opteron 4300s for two-socket and single-socket machines, and the Delhi Opteron 3300s for single-socket boxes will arrive staggered throughout this year and next, offering some new hope for AMD's processing power. They also touch on Seamicro and the interconnect technology AMD purchased which could see next generation Opterons working with FirePro cards to really start to offer something new from AMD which could be a big jump in performance compared to their current server offerings.
"It is not as much fun to be in the server part of Advanced Micro Devices these days, with Intel surging in the server racket and expanding out to switching and storage with its Xeon processors and Intel more or less counting the substantial innovations that AMD's engineers crafted for the Opterons a decade ago. The good news if you like a good fight is that there is a whole new management and engineering team at AMD now, and they not only understand that AMD has to do some serious innovating, but they are itching for the fight."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Disable Java NOW, users told, as 0-day exploit hits web @ The Register
- Kingston launches enterprise SSDNow E100 drives @ The Inquirer
- AMD launches four TFLOPS Firepro S9000 accelerator @ The Inquirer
- Soft robots given veins the let them change their stripes @ Hack a Day
- Follow Our Live Coverage from LinuxCon and CloudOpen @ Linux.com
- Win The New iPad! @ eTeknix