Subject: General Tech | May 13, 2014 - 12:40 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: opengl, Intel, amd, nividia, graphics drivers
If you have ever wondered what happened to OpenGL games which used to be common then there is a good post to read over on Slashdot. A developer paints an honest and somewhat depressing picture of what it takes to write working OpenGL code in this day and age. In his mind the blame lies squarely on the driver teams at the three major graphics vendors, with different issues with each of them. While officially referred to as Vendors A, B and C anyone even slightly familiar with the market will figure out exactly which companies are being referred to. While this is a topic worthy of ranting comments be aware that this refers specifically to the OpenGL driver, not the DirectX or Mantle drivers and each company has it's own way of making programmers lives difficult, none are without blame.
"Rich Geldreich (game/graphics programmer) has made a blog post on the quality of different OpenGL Drivers. Using anonymous titles (Vendor A: Nvidia; Vendor B: AMD; Vendor C: Intel), he plots the landscape of game development using OpenGL. Vendor A, jovially known as 'Graphics Mafia' concentrates heavily on performance but won't share its specifications, thus blocking any open source driver implementations as much as possible. Vendor B has the most flaky drivers. They have good technical know-how on OpenGL but due to an extremely small team (money woes), they have shoddy drivers. Vendor C is extremely rich."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Qualcomm plans to shift 20nm orders from TSMC to Samsung or Globalfoundries, say sources @ DigiTimes
- NSA is accused of sneaking backdoors into hardware exports @ The Inquirer
- Mozilla axes HATED ads-in-Firefox tab ... but they won't stay dead for long @ The Register
- The Illusion of Overclocking Support @ Hardware Asylum
- WIN Awesome i5 4690 CYBERPOWER Z97 PC @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech, Processors | May 7, 2014 - 03:06 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: conflict-free, Intel, Congo
The Intel and Google keynote speech closed out with a video and an announcement. Each Chrome OS device that they mentioned will be among the first to use Haswell and Bay Trail processors manufactured with conflict-free minerals. They are not abandoning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, rather they seem to be forcing their suppliers to adhere to human rights standards if they want to do business with Intel.
This initiative has apparently led to the creation of the "Conflict-Free Smelter Program" which is run by the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative. This industry body includes several other companies, such as AMD, Apple, Foxconn, IBM, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Pegatron, Qualcomm, every laptop manufacturer that I could think of, and over 150 others.
Intel has been discussing this for a little while, and taking positive steps toward this goal along the way. There really is not that many other ways to say it: reducing the suffering in the world is a great goal.
Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2014 - 03:01 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Intel, haswell, Chromebox, Chromebook, Chromebase, chrome os, Bay Trail
Intel hosted an event on Chrome OS today where the company discussed its partnership with Google and announced new Chrome devices based on the company's latest generation Haswell and Bay Trail processors.
Intel continues to work with Google to develop the Chromebook and the company sees potential for Chrome OS devices to expand to additional markets outside of consumer and education. Specifically, Intel and Google are pushing into the commercial markets by working with OEMs to put together devices aimed at corporate customers as productivity machines, video conferencing boxes, and drivers of customer kiosks and digital signage.
In addition to the expansion to new markets, the existing consumer and education markets continue to grow with the use of Chromebooks in schools doubling versus last quarter with 10,000 schools now employing the Google-powered hardware. Consumers have also pushed Chromebooks to the top six of Amazon charts with the Acer C720 having 4.4 out of five stars and over a thousand customer reviews.
Chrome OS is not only expanding into other markets but to additional form factors in the form of Chrome Boxes and Chrome Bases which are small form factor desktop systems and All-In-One devices powered by Chrome OS respectively. The second half of this year will see the number of Chrome OS devices expand from four design choices by four OEMs to twenty design choices from at least nine OEMs.
The upcoming Chrome OS devices will be powered by new processor options from Intel in the form of conflict-free Intel Haswell Core i3 CPUs and Intel Bay Trail SoCs. The Haswell Core i3 option is an upgrade over the Pentium and Celeron "Entry Level Haswell" parts and offer increased performance in offline computing tasks, app switching, and multi-tasking. The Bay Trail parts will enable passively cooled (fan-less) Chromebooks with around 8 hours (up to 11 hours+) of battery life while still offering up acceptable performance for watching videos or working with documents. Intel further claims that the Bay Trail powered Chromebooks will be thinner at less than 18mm and up to 15% lighter than existing models.
An 11.6" Chromebook powered by an Intel Haswell Core i3 processor coming later this year.
Intel showed off several new Chrome OS products that will be coming later this year. The new Chromebooks include Haswell i3-powered laptops from Acer and Dell for $349, the Lenovo N20 Chrome and N20p Chrome powered by an Intel Celeron (Bay Trail) SoC, and the Intel Education Chromebook Reference Design which CTL will bring to market later this year. It was also revealed that the already-announced Lenovo ThinkPad Chromebook with its Yoga-style hinge will actually use a Bay Trail SoC.
The Intel Education Chromebook Reference Design is a platform designed by Intel that other OEMs can take, tweak, and bring to market. It is a clamshell-style laptop with a rotating camera and ruggedized chassis aimed at students.
Intel's reference platform is a ruggedized clamshell laptop aimed at students.
Laptops and tablets dominated the show, but the company did unveil a tiny new Chrome Box from HP (slated for availability in June) that can sit behind a computer display or be used to drive digital signage and customer kiosks.
Further, Intel demonstrated a new Chrome OS form factor with what it calls a "Chrome Base." The first Chrome Base is coming from LG later this month as a 21" All In One computer running Chrome OS for $349.
Chrome OS in general is expanding from traditional clamshell laptops to larger screens and alternative form factors (desktop, tablet, convertible, et al), and when asked about the future of touch on Chrome OS and the overlap between Android and Chrome OS Caesar Sengupta, VP of Product Management at Google, explained that the company feels that touch is a key aspect in the computing experience and that Google is interested in supporting and improving touch on Chrome OS and evaluating customer use on alternative form factors. Further, Mr Sengupta stated that Google is focusing on Chromebooks, Chrome Boxes, and the new All In One Chrome Bases with physical keyboards for Chrome OS while Android is focused on mobile phones and touch-based tablets. As OEMs introduce more touch-friendly and acrobatic hinged Chrome devices, there is likely to be some overlap, but ultimately decisions affecting the directions of the two OSes will be based on customer demand.
Google also used the event to announce that within the next few weeks users will be able to play movies and TV shows offline using the Google Play Movies Chrome app.
Overall, the event demonstrated that Chrome OS is growing at a healthy pace. Devices using the cloud-friendly operating system will be in 20 countries by the end of this year (versus 9 currently), and the new x86 processor options will enable a smoother user experience and faster application performance. I am genuinely interested to see where OEMs are able to take Chrome OS and what it is able to do as Google continues development of the software.
If you are interested, you can watch a recorded version of the live stream on the Intel website.
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Chrome device news as the hardware gets closer to release.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | May 6, 2014 - 03:19 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Skylake, Intel, Broadwell
VR-Zone is returning to their "leak everything Intel has" gig with a few light details about Skylake, the architecture after Broadwell, and its accompanying 100-Series chipset. The main detail is that Skylake, despite Broadwell and its delays, is still expected for 2015. This sort of makes sense, because this architecture runs on the same 14nm fabrication process as Broadwell, but it is surprising nonetheless. Intel could have slowed down its entire release cycle to compensate for how difficult it is to make smaller transistors and keep a steady "Tick-Tock".
Or maybe they hope that the process shrink after Skylake, Cannonlake at 10nm, will be on schedule?
Image Credit: VR-Zone
The second major detail is the available sockets. A couple of years ago, there was a fear that Intel would drop LGA sockets, starting with Broadwell, and switch entirely to the non-replaceable BGA soldered-to-the-motherboard format. Intel has later decided to support LGA with Broadwell and that will continue with Skylake.
This leads us to the third major detail - product categories. There will be four of them in the consumer range: H (BGA) for regular notebooks, Y (BGA) for desktops and all-in-ones, U (BGA) for ultrabooks, and S (LGA) for standard desktop computers. The slide lists a few more details which I believe signify core count and GPU version. If so, the lineup of Skylake processors would be the following:
- (BGA) Quad Core Skylake-H with GT2 Graphics
- (BGA) Quad Core Skylake-H with GT4e Graphics, the successor to Iris Pro.
- (BGA) Dual Core Skylake-Y with GT2 Graphics
- (BGA) Dual Core Skylake-U with GT2 Graphics
- (BGA) Dual Core Skylake-U with GT3e Iris Pro Graphics
- (LGA) Quad Core Skylake-S with GT2 Graphics
- (LGA) Dual Core Skylake-S with GT2 Graphics
- (LGA) Quad Core Skylake-S with GT4e Graphics, the successor to Iris Pro.
The inclusion of an enthusiast, LGA SKU with GT4e graphics is promising, especially for us. We, of course, continue to want products that we can, you know, buy and put into our desktops at will. It will certainly be interesting to see how these GPUs perform and it could lead to some healthy SteamOS builds.
There's a lot of information here. Expect us to chew on this over the next little while.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 6, 2014 - 02:48 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Lenovo, Chromebook, celeron, Intel
Today, Lenovo announced its first set of Chromebooks aimed at consumers. The N20 Chrome and N20p Chrome Chromebooks join the existing ThinkPad branded Chromebooks which targeted the education sector. The new N20 series devices are 11.6” laptops weighing less than 3.1 pounds powered by an Intel Celeron chip and running Google’s Chrome OS.
The base N20 Chrome is a traditional laptop sans touchscreen or Yoga-style acrobatics.
Both the N20 Chrome and N20p Chrome sport an 11.6” display with a resolution of 1366x768, a 1 megapixel webcam, stereo speakers, AccuType keyboards, and large trackpads. Further, the Chromebooks have two USB ports, one HDMI output, a SD card slot, and an audio mic/headphone combo jack. Wireless connectivity includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.2.
The N20 Chrome has a traditional laptop clamshell design while the N20p Chrome features a 300° hinge that allows the display to flip around into tent mode as well as the traditional laptop mode. Further, the N20p Chrome adds a 10-point multi-touch digitizer to the 11.6” display. The N20 Chrome weighs 2.8 lbs (1.3 kg) whereas the N20p Chrome weighs 3.1 lbs (1.4 kg) because of the added hinge and digitizer. Both models come in Graphite Grey with silver accents.
Internally, Lenovo has gone with an unspecified Intel Celeron processor (with Intel integrated graphics), up to 4GB of DDR3L memory, and up to 16GB of eMMC storage (expandable via SD card). Lenovo is pairing the device with up to 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage as well. Lenovo claims up to 8 hours of battery life which bodes well for students and office workers on the go.
The N20p Chrome with its 11.6" 10-point multi-touch display and 300° hinge.
The N20 Chrome will be available in July for $279 while the N20p Chrome is coming in August with an MSRP of $329. Lenovo’s first take at consumer Chromebooks looks to have all the right pieces. The company should have a very successful product on its hands so long as the keyboards and overall build quality hold up to reviews.
Read more about Chromebooks @ PC Perspective!
Subject: Mobile | May 2, 2014 - 10:34 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Windows 8.1, thinkpad tablet, thinkpad 10, Lenovo, Intel, Bay Trail
Details on a new 10-inch tablet from Lenovo emerged following a product page being posted on the Lenovo Australia site prior to an official announcement. The page was quickly taken down, but not before German technology site TabTech snagged all of the details and photos of the new ThinkPad branded mobile.
The leaked ThinkPad 10 joins the existing ThinkPad 8 tablet which was first shown off at CES 2014 earlier this year. The business-focused device runs x86 hardware and the full version of Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system. The ThinkPad 10 sports rounded edges, a hefty bezel, (and if it follows the ThinkPad 8) a machine cut aluminum back panel with ThinkPad branding. The front of the device hosts a 10-inch display with a resolution of 1920x1200, a 2MP webcam, and Windows button. The top corner of the tablet hosts an 8MP rear camera with LED flash. Exact dimensions and weight are still unknown.
Internally, Lenovo is using a quad core Bay Trail SoC clocked at 1.6 GHz, up to 4GB of RAM, and up to 128GB of internal storage. If the ThinkPad 8 is any indication, the base models should start with 2GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a Wi-Fi chip. From there, users will be able to choose versions of the ThinkPad 10 with more memory, more storage, LTE cellular data connections, and stylus options.
Additionally, the ThinkPad 10 will support basic covers, basic docks that allow it to be used in tent mode, keyboard docks, and keyboard cases. Unfortunately, the keyboard dock does not appear to latch onto the tablet, and once docked the screen cannot be rotated further like with devices like the Transformer T100 and upcoming Aspire Switch 10. With that said, from the information available so far, I am interested in the ThinkPad 10 from a mobile productivity standpoint (I have been on the fence on getting a T100 for months now, heh). If Lenovo can maintain ThinkPad quality in this tablet and the keyboard options, I will definitely be considering it.
With the ThinkPad 8 starting at $399 for the WiFi-only model with 2GB RAM and 64GB storage, users can expect the ThinkPad 10 to start at least $499. Unfortunately, as with most product launches and leaks, official pricing and availability are still unknown.
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more details on the ThinkPad 10. In the meantime, check out our video of the ThinkPad 8 to get an idea of the aesthetics and performance of the upcoming Windows 8.1 tablet!
Subject: Mobile | May 2, 2014 - 12:06 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, Intel, Clover Trail+, atom z2560, Android
Acer is introducing a new 7-inch tablet due for release in June. The upcoming Iconia One 7 is an Intel-powered tablet running Google's Android 4.2 operating system. It is a budget device that cuts corners on the operating system and hardware so that it can reach a starting price of $129.99.
The Iconia One 7 tablet will be available in black, blue, red, pink, and white, and features a 7-inch IPS display with a 16:10 resolution of 1280x800, a 5 megapixel rear camera, and a 0.3 megapixel webcam. The tablet has rounded corners and edges (especially on the back panel).
Internally, Acer has chosen to use a dual core SoC based on Intel's previous generation Clover Trail+ architecture (2-wide, in order cores that support Hyper Threading). The chip features two CPU cores clocked at 1.6 GHz, 1 MB of cache, and a PowerVR SGX544 GPU. THe chip is paired with 1GB of system RAM and either 8GB or 16GB of internal flash storage. The internal storage can be expanded with up to a 32GB microSD card. The tablet is powered by a 3,700 mAh battery.
The tablet hardware is reportedly compatible with Android 4.4, but Acer has yet to outline an upgrade path.
Acer has obviously cut corners here, both on the hardware and software. However, these sacrifices have allowed the company to offer up a tablet at a base price of $129.99. It will not be the fastest device, but it should be a good-enough web browsing and reading tablet for those that prefer the portable 7-inch form factor. (Personally, I would have liked to see a Bay Trail-powered variant at a slightly higher price point.) The Iconia One 7 will be available in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East by the middle of this month and will hit US shores in June.
Podcast #298 - Next Generation Intel Motherboards, Crossfire R9 295x2s, Corsair AX1500i Power Supply, and more!
Subject: General Tech | May 1, 2014 - 12:35 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: video, r9 295x2, podcast, nvidia, Next Generation, Intel, corsair, AX1500i, amd, 295x2
PC Perspective Podcast #298 - 05/01/2014
Join us this week as we discuss Next Generation Intel Motherboards, Crossfire R9 295x2s, Corsair AX1500i Power Supply, 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: Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano, and Morry Tietelman
there is a video, and it will be streamed
Week in Review:
0:40:00 Noctua NH-U14S CPU Cooler Review
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Subject: Processors, Mobile | April 30, 2014 - 07:06 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Intel, clover trail, Bay Trail, arm, Android
While we are still waiting for those mysterious Intel Bay Trail based Android tablets to find their way into our hands, we met with ARM today to discuss quite few varying topics. One of them centered around the cost of binary translation - the requirement to convert application code compiled for one architecture and running it after conversion on a different architecture. In this case, running native ARMv7 Android applications on an x86 platform like Bay Trail from Intel.
Based on results presented by ARM, so take everything here in that light, more than 50% of the top 250 applications in the Android Play Store require binary translation to run. 23-30% have been compiled to x86 natively, 20-21% run through Dalvik and the rest have more severe compatibility concerns. That paints a picture of the current state of Android apps and the environment in which Intel is working while attempting to release Android tablets this spring.
Performance of these binary translated applications will be lower than they would be natively, as you would expect, but to what degree? These results, again gathered by ARM, show a 20-40% performance drop in games like Riptide GP2 and Minecraft while also increasing "jank" - a measure of smoothness and stutter found with variances in frame rates. These are applications that exist in a native mode but were tricked into running through binary conversion as well. The insinuation is that we can now forecast what the performance penalty is for applications that don't have a natively compiled version and are forced to run in translation mode.
The result of this is lower battery life as it requires the CPU to draw more power to keep the experience close to nominal. While gaming on battery, which most people do with items like the Galaxy Tab 3 used for testing, a 20-35% decrease in game time will hurt Intel's ability to stand up to the best ARM designs on the market.
Other downsides to this binary translation include longer load times for applications, lower frame rates and longer execution time. Of course, the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 is based on Intel's Atom Z2560 SoC, a somewhat older Clover Trail+ design. That is the most modern currently available Android platform from Intel as we are still awaiting Bay Trail units. This also explains why ARM did not do any direct performance comparisons to any devices from its partners. All of these results were comparing Intel in its two execution modes: native and translated.
Without a platform based on Bay Trail to look at and test, we of course have to use the results that ARM presented as a placeholder at best. It is possible that Intel's performance is high enough with Silvermont that it makes up for these binary translation headaches for as long as necessary to see x86 more ubiquitous. And in fairness, we have seen many demonstrations from Intel directly that show the advantage of performance and power efficiency going in the other direction - in Intel's favor. This kind of debate requires some more in-person analysis with hardware in our hands soon and with a larger collection of popular applications.
More from our visit with ARM soon!
With the release of the next generation desktop board line imminent, we wanted to give you a taste of the new ASUS offerings. ASUS offers support for current and next generation Intel Haswell processors as well as support for SATA 3 and next generation SATA storage solutions with their next generation boards.
ASUS sought to perfect their designs with the new board lines, building off the successess from the Intel Z87-based boards and improving them for better performance and usability. All board lines feature an updated UEFI BIOS with more GUI-driven interfaces and wizards, particularly aimed at those users who don't want to muck around in the Advanced mode settings. Additionally, all board lines feature updated heat sink designs and aesthetics to further differentiate them from their Z87 counterparts. ASUS also enhanced their AI Suite software with 5-Way Optimization functionality, instead of the 4-Way Optimization functionality integrated into the last generation of AI Suite. 5-Way Optimization functionality integrates TPU (Turbo Processing Unit), EPU (Energy Processing Unit), DIGI+ Power Control, Fan XPert 3, and Turbo App into a single cohesive entity.
ASUS will continue to market the next generation boards across their standard four board lines:
- Channel series motherboards
- Republic of Gamers series motherboards
- TUF series motherboards
- Workstation series motherboards
Channel series banner
The Channel series boards include all board designs aimed at mainstream consumers and system builders.
ROG series banner
The ROG (Republic of Gamers) series boards are geared more towards enthusiast and gamer users, featuring a black and red color scheme for eye-catching appeal. The boards also feature innovative designs and integrated components that differentiate them from the other lines.