64-bit Android is Down By the Bay

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | January 21, 2014 - 04:14 AM |
Tagged: x86, Intel, Android, 64-bit

Given how long it took Intel to release a good 64-bit architecture, dragged ear-first by AMD, it does seem a little odd for them to lead the tablet charge. ARM developers are still focusing on 32-bit architectures and current Windows 8.1 tablets tend to stick with 32-bit because of Connected Standby bugs. Both of these should be cleared up soon.

Also, 64-bit Android tablets should be available this spring based on Bay Trail.

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According to Peter Bright of Ars Technica, Android will be first to 64-bit on its x86 build while the ARM variant hovers at 32-bit for a little while longer. It would not surprise me if Intel's software engineers contributed heavily to this development (which is a good thing). I expect NVIDIA to do the same, if necessary, to ensure that Project Denver will launch successfully later this year.

The most interesting part about this is how the PC industry, a symbol of corporate survival of the fittest, typically stomps on siloed competitors but is now facing the ARM industry built on a similar Darwin-based logic. Both embrace openness apart from a few patented instruction sets. Who will win? Well, probably Web Standards, but that is neither here nor there.

Source: Ars Technica

Intel Reports 2013 Financial Results, Plans to Cut 5% of Workforce

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2014 - 12:49 AM |
Tagged: quarterly earnings, Intel, financial results, earnings

Intel has released financial results for the full year and fourth quarter of 2013. According to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, the company had a "solid fourth quarter." Although full year revenue and net income fell, there was a slight increase in Q4 net income and revenue YoY compared to Q4 2012.

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In 2013 Intel had $52.7 billion in total revenue along with $12.3 billion operating and $9.6 billion net income. Compared to the previous year (2012), Intel's revenue fell 1% while operating income and net income fell 13% and 16% respectively. Specifically of interest to the PC Perspective readers, the PC Client Group had 2013 revenue of $33.0 billion which was down 4% versus 2012.

  Quarterly Comparison   Yearly Comparison  
  Q4 2012 Q4 2013 YoY Change 2012 2013 YoY Change
Revenue $13.5 $13.8 +3% $52.7 $53.3 -1%
Operating Income $3.2 $3.5 +12% $12.3 $14.6 -16%
Net Income $2.5 $2.6 +6% $9.6 $11 -13%
Gross Margin 58% 62% +4 62.1% 59.5 -2.3

All $ figures are in billions (USD).

As far as the previous quarter (Q4 2013) alone, Intel made revenue of $13.8 billion which was a 3% increase versus the same quarter in 2012. Quarterly net income also increased 6% YoY to $2.6 billion.

Looking forward into 2014, Intel estimates revenue for the first quarter (Q1 2014) to be $12.8 billion. Unfortunately, Intel plans to cut approximately 5,000 jobs (specifically 5% of its workforce) in 2014 despite the "solid" company performance.

You can find more information in this Intel press release.

Source: Intel
Author:
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Various

The stars are aligned

One of the most frequent questions we get at PC Perspective is some derivative of "is now the time to buy or should I wait?"  If you listen to the PC Perspective Podcast or This Week in Computer Hardware you'll know that I usually err on the side of purchasing now. Why should you hold yourself back on the enjoyment of technology unless something DRAMATIC is just over the horizon.

This week I got another such email that prompted me to do some thinking.  After just returning from CES 2014 in Las Vegas, I think its fair to say that we didn't hear anything concrete about upcoming SSD plans that would really be considered monumental.  Sure, we saw plenty of PCIe SSDs as well as some M.2 options, but little for PC enthusiasts or even users that are looking to replace the hard drives in their PlayStation 4. Our team thinks that now is about as good of a time to buy an SSD as you will get.

And while you are always going to see price drops on commodity goods like flash storage, the prices on some of our favorite SSDs are at a low that we haven't witnessed without the rebates and flash deals of Black Friday / Cyber Monday.  Let's take a look at a few:

Note: It should go without saying that all of these price discussions are as of this writing and could change...

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Samsung 840 EVO 1TB SSD (Red: Amazon, Yellow: Newegg) - Graph courtesy HoverHound

The flagship SSD from the Samsung 840 EVO series SSDs, also the personal favorite of Allyn and most of the rest of the PC Perspective team, is near its all-time low in price at just $529 for a 1TB capacity.  That is a cost per GB of just $0.529; no rebates, no gimmicks.  

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Samsung 840 EVO 500GB SSD (Red: Amazon, Yellow: Newegg) - Graph courtesy HoverHound

Likely the most popularly purchased of the EVO series is the 500GB model that is currently selling on Amazon for $309, or $0.618/GB.  Obviously that is a higher mark than the 1TB hits but as you'll see in our tables below, in general, the higher capacity you purchase at the better value per GB you are going to find.  

There are other capacities of the Samsung 840 EVO starting at 120GB, going to 250GB, and even a 750GB, all are included in the pricing table below.  Depending on your budget and your need for the best perceived value, you can make a decision on your own.

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Let's not forget the other options on the market; Samsung may be the strongest player today but companies like Intel, OCZ and Corsair continue to have a strong presence.  The second best selling series of SSD during the holidays was the Intel 530 series of drives that utilize the LSI SandForce SF2281 controller.  How do they stack up price-wise?

Continue reading our analysis to determine if this is the best time to buy an SSD!!

Intel has some good news for GLOFO

Subject: General Tech | January 10, 2014 - 12:18 PM |
Tagged: UMC, SoFIA, Intel, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, atom, 28nm

GLOBALFOUNDRIES will be the primary supplier of Intel's 28nm baseband chips according to this unconfirmed report at DigiTimes.  It seems that Intel really is moving towards a new business model and will be outsourcing some of their upcoming chips to both GLOFO and UMC.  Their 28nm PolySiON process will be used to make the next generation of baseband transmitter chips and the new Atom SoC for cellphones and phablets will use TSMC's 28nm HKMG process.  The higher end Broxton SoCs will remain at Intel and use their FinFET process.  This is a big win for GLOFO and could mean the beginning of a lasting partnership with what was once an AMD asset.

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"Intel has contracted Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to manufacture its forthcoming Atom mobile processor series codenamed SoFIA, and also placed orders for entry-level baseband chips with Globalfoundries and United Microelectronics (UMC), according to industry sources."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

CES 2014: Intel Keynote with Their Dual OS and Edison

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2014 - 03:32 AM |
Tagged: Transformer Book Duet, Intel, CES 2014, CES, asus

Monday, the opening day of CES, was full of keynotes and announcements from Audi to Valve (Yahoo! was the day after). Okay, so that is probably not the complete alphabetical range, but keep reading regardless. The Intel speech had a few surprises including Gabe Newell re-announcing Steam Machines just a couple of hours after his own keynote.

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Possibly the most surprising to me was the "Dual OS platforms" announcement. Frankly, I am fine with using BlueStacks for whatever little Android use that my desktop experiences. I did see a demo of the ASUS Transformer Book Duet, however, which was able to switch between Android and Windows 8.1 with the touch of a button and about 3 seconds of black screen. It seems to be more than emulation and it is pretty clearly not rebooting.

To be clear, the following is speculation (and not even confident at that). I am hypothesizing... not reporting. Unfortunately, Intel (and ASUS) have been very silent on the actual implementation as far as I can tell. Since this is clearly branded as "Android and Windows can be friends", it would not surprise me if this was a baked solution for the two platforms and maybe even special hardware.

One possibility is that hardware or software loads both operating systems into memory or hibernation state. In this way, when the user signals their desire for a change, the former operating system is slept (or hibernated) and the processor is then pointed to the others memory space.

Video credit: PCMag

If the above is the case then I hope popular Linux distributions can get their hands on it. Rebooting is far too annoying for me to try out alternative operating systems and virtualization is also too problematic (at least for now). If I can just suspend and switch, especially with native performance on either end, then I will definitely be willing to play around. Honestly, how expensive are RAM and storage these days?

But, if it is user-accessible, then it would be a major consideration for a future upgrade.

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The other cute little announcement is Edison, a dual core PC in an SD card form factor. The hope is that this device will power wearable computing and make other devices smarter. It is based on 22nm silicon and even includes WiFi. One use case they presented was a bottle warmer which warms the milk before you even get your child.

Despite the late coverage, it was a very interesting keynote. Ars Technica still has their live blog published if you would like to skim through a play-by-play.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Ars Technica

Cooler Master Glacer 360L CPU Cooler

Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 7, 2014 - 11:35 PM |
Tagged: water cooling, Intel, Glacer 360L, cooler master, CES 2014, CES, amd

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Courtesy of Cooler Master

The Glacer 360L CPU cooler is the latest all-in-one cooler from Cooler Master. With a 3x120mm radiator and the ability to add new components into the existing cooling loop, this cooler is sure to make a splash.

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Courtesy of Cooler Master

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Courtesy of Cooler Master

The Glacer 360L CPU Cooler builds on the design of Cooler Master's previous generation all-in-one cooler, the Glacer 240L, with enhanced cooling surface area and the promise of expandability. This all-in-one cooler features a copper and brass based 3x120mm radiator and a powerful 3500 RPM pump, integrated into the CPU block housing. The CPU block itself is copper based to ensure the best heat transfer capabilities and minimize galvanic corrosion with the radiator. Additionally, Cooler Master has designed the Glacer 360L to be upgradeable, allowing for user addition of other cooling apparatus to the loop.

 

Cooler Master has not yet released pricing information or retail availability information for the Glacer 360L CPU cooler at this time. Please go here for additional information.

Additional information after the break.

 

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Corsair Hydro Series H105 Liquid CPU Cooler

Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 7, 2014 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: water cooling, Intel, Hydro Series, H105, corsair, CES 2014, CES, amd

The newest member of the Corsair Hydro Series ™ all-in-one liquid coolers is the H105 CPU liquid cooler.

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Courtesy of Corsair

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Courtesy of Corsair

The Hydro Series ™ H105 Liquid CPU Cooler features a dual-fan radiator capable of hosting up to four 120mm fans (two on the front and two on the back). The radiator has been redesigned compared with past models to enhance its cooling potential. Corsair increased the radiator thickness to 38mm (compared to the 25mm thickness on the H100), increasing the radiator's surface area for better heat dissipation potential compared with the 25mm models. Further, Corsair redesigned the CPU mounting block to make it entirely tool-free. The CPU block is a round copper base plate with an integrated pump and illuminated Corsair logo.

 

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Courtesy of Corsair

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Courtesy of Corsair

Corsair added a new level of customization to the H105 by including two additional color rings, allowing you to change the color ring along the top of the CPU water block to match your case theme. In addition to the base grey, Corsair includes red and blue rings for the top of the waterblock.

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Courtesy of Corsair

The Corsair Hydro Series ™ H105 Liquid CPU Cooler supports a variety of AMD and Intel CPUs and motherboards out of the box including the following: AM2, AM3, FM1, FM2, LGA 1156, 1155, 1150, 1366, and 2011.

The Corsair Hydro Series ™ H105 Liquid CPU Cooler will be available in January 2014 from all worldwide retailer partners for an MSRP for $119.99. The unit also comes with an impressive 5 year warranty.

Press release after the break.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Corsair

CES 2014: Gigabyte's New SFF BRIX Pro Comes With Iris Pro 5200 Graphics

Subject: General Tech, Systems | January 6, 2014 - 10:59 PM |
Tagged: SFF, iris pro, Intel, gigabyte, CES 2014, CES, brix pro, brix

Gigabyte is showing off a new small form factor BRIX-series PC at CES this week. This new BRIX Pro computer offers up desktop-level performance in a tiny form factor (approximately 4.2” width x 4.5” length x 2” height).

The BRIX Pro is available as a DIY kit that comes with a black or red chassis, choice of either Intel i7 4770R or Intel i5 4570R processor, mini PCI-E Wi-Fi card, and power adapter/cable. In addition to the CPU performance offered by the Haswell processor, the big news here is that the BRIX Pro ships with the processor-integrated Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200. This GPU is the high-end model that comes with 64MB of eDRAM. Considering how rare the Iris Pro GPU with embedded DRAM has been in desktop PCs, having it available in the BRIX platform is good news for enthusiasts!

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Gigabyte claims that the BRIX Pro is capable of 3D gaming and is compatible with content creation/production applications. Additionally, it can output 4K resolutions over HDMI thanks to the Iris Pro 5200 GPU (at least the desktop and video, most gaming is out at 4K).

From there, users can add their own memory, mSATA SSD, and 2.5” SATA III drive. There is a mPCIe slot as well, but it is used by the 802.11ac Wi-Fi + BT 4.0 card.

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Photo courtesy Allyn Malventano (PC Perspective).

External IO on the BRIX Pro includes two USB 3.0 ports and a combination analog headphone/digital S/PDIF jack on the front. On the back of the SFF PC, users have two USB 3.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet jack, one Mini DisplayPort output, one HDMI video output, a DC power input, and a Kensington lock.

Gigabyte has not revealed pricing or availability information, but it should be coming out sooner rather than later in 2014. When it does become available, there will be two models: the GB-BXi7-4770R and the GB-BXi5-4570R.

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Photo courtesy Allyn Malventano (PC Perspective).

The BRIX Pro looks to be a powerhouse for its size, though I am curious about the noise levels produced by the cooling fan needed to keep the high end processor cool. Overall though, the BRIX Pro looks to be a nice addition to the compact BRIX PC lineup, and I am looking forward to reviews of it. Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information as it becomes available. 

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Gigabyte

5,000 Pages of Intel Haswell Documentation for Linux

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 31, 2013 - 05:46 PM |
Tagged: linux, iris pro, iris, Intel, haswell

'Tis the season to be sharing and giving (unless you are Disney).

According to Phoronix, Intel has shipped (heh heh heh, "boatload") over 5,000 pages of documentation and technical specs for their Haswell iGPUs including the HD, Iris, and Iris Pro product lines. The intricacies of the 3D engine, GPGPU computation, and video acceleration are laid bare for the open source community. Video acceleration is something that is oft omit from the manuals of other companies.

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Phoronix believes that Intel is, and has been, the best GPU vendor for open-source drivers. AMD obviously supports their open-source community but Intel edges them out on speed. The Radeon HD 7000 series is just beginning to mature, according to their metric, and Hawaii is far behind that. For NVIDIA, the Nouveau driver is still developed primarily by reverse-engineering. That said, documentation was released a few months ago.

Of course all of these comparisons are only considering the open-source drivers.

NVIDIA prides itself on their proprietary driver offering and AMD pretty much offers both up for the user to chose between. Phoronix claims that Intel employs over two-dozen open-source Linux graphics developers but, of course, that is their only graphics driver for Linux. That is not a bad thing, of course, because a launch open-source GPU driver is really identical to what they would launch for a proprietary driver just without slapping the wrists of anyone who tries to tweak it. It does make sense for Intel, however, because community support will certainly do nothing but help their adoption.

If you would like to check out the documentation, it is available at Intel's 01.org.

Source: Phoronix

It really has been a busy year for CPU reviews

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2013 - 03:00 PM |
Tagged: 2013, amd, nvidia, Intel, arm, qualcomm

2013 has been an incredible year and when looking at The Inquirer's look back on the releases of this year it is hard to believe that all of these releases took place in 12 short months.  Haswell and Richland were the only two traditional CPU architecture updates for high powered desktop applications which stymied the enthusiasm of some gamers but the real star of 2013 was low powered silicon.  ARM has always held strong in this market and celebrated several major releases such as 28nm dual core Cortex A15s and Qualcomm's raising of the bar on mobile graphics with the dual-core and quad-core Snapdragon 400 chips but they lost market share to three newcomers to the low powered market.  NVIDIA's quad-core Tegra 4 SoC arrived with decent performance and graphics improvements compared to their previous generation and allowed the release of the Shield which has helped them become more than a GPU company that is also dipping its toes into the HPC market.   AMD announced the G series of SoCs for industrial applications with a TDP in the neighbourhood of 6W as well as Temash which will power next generation tablets and hybrid mobile devices but it was really Intel that shone brightest at the low end.  Bay Trail has completely reversed the perception of Atom from a product that is not really good at anything to an impressive low powered chip that provides impressive performance for small mobile devices and might find its self a role in the server room as well.  That only scratches the top layer of silicon, click over for more of the year in review.

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"While Intel and AMD battled out their ongoing war, Nvidia took the stage to announce its latest Tegra 4 system on a chip (SoC), a quad-core chip with a significant graphics boost. The firm did its best to play down the fact that its Tegra 4 has the same CPU core count as its previous-generation Tegra 3, and instead it focused on GPU performance, an area where the Tegra 3 was starting to look dated against newer chips from rivals such as Samsung."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register