Intel NUC BIOS Update Fixes Debian Booting

Subject: General Tech, Systems | February 12, 2014 - 08:25 PM |
Tagged: ubuntu, SteamOS, nuc, Intel, debian

Two days ago, Intel added a new BIOS for the NUC to their download center. Its main update addresses a problem with booting some operating systems, such as SteamOS. Ars Technica published an editorial a couple of weeks ago about using the Haswell-based NUC with four Linux distributions. It basically comes down to the NUC not seeing a bootloader file that Debian-based OSes leave in their own branded folder. The BIOS was available less than two weeks later.

intel-nuc.jpg

The update also addresses (PDF) fan speed control, a bug with disk encryption passwords, a couple of BIOS settings, and a system hang with certain USB thumb drives.

If you have a NUC and want to make it a SteamOS (or Ubuntu, etc.) device, this should fix your woes. I mean, there was already a workaround involving four terminal commands but it is that much easier nonetheless. It is available now at Intel's store.

Source: Intel

Podcast #286 - AMD Mantle, Battlefield 4 Performance, Chromeboxes and more!

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2014 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, Mantle, r9 290, 290x, battlefield 4, Chromebox, Chromebook, t440s, nvidia, Intel

PC Perspective Podcast #286 - 02/06/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the release of AMD Mantle, Battlefield 4 Performance, Chromeboxes and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

 
Program length: 1:03:08
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Jeremy: The Cyberith Virtualizer would be nice to go with that Oculus Rift you should buy me
  4. Closing/outro

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

 

SBSA reaches an ARM into the server room

Subject: General Tech | February 5, 2014 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: arm, OCP, open source, Intel, amd, seattle, opteron

The Inquirer had a chance to talk to Lakshmi Mandyam, the director of Server Systems and Ecosystems at ARM, about their plans for the server room.  ARM and their SBSA team have joined forces with Microsoft's Open Technology initiative which is key to AMD's adoption of ARM architecture in their new Opteron series.  These projects will offer several key benefits to customers, the open source nature will allow customization in the server room for those customers with specific needs and the know how to implement them and the nature of ARM processors can bring energy bills down.  This could also be great news for smaller businesses that require a proper server, they will be able to build that server out of a number of inexpensive ARM based processors instead of having to spend the price of the currently available x86/64 CPUs from Intel and AMD.

arm_holdings_arm_v8.jpg

"CHIP DESIGNER ARM announced at the Open Compute Project (OCP) Summit last week that servers based on its architecture have taken a step forward with the arrival of ARM v8-A based 64bit servers, known as the Server Base System Architecture (SBSA) specification."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Video Perspective: Free to Play Games on the A10-7850K vs. Intel Core i3 + GeForce GT 630

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | January 31, 2014 - 04:36 PM |
Tagged: 7850k, A10-7850K, amd, APU, gt 630, Intel, nvidia, video

As a follow up to our first video posted earlier in the week that looked at the A10-7850K and the GT 630 from NVIDIA in five standard games, this time we compare the A10-7850K APU against the same combination of the Intel and NVIDIA hardware in five of 2013's top free to play games.

UPDATE: I've had some questions about WHICH of the GT 630 SKUs were used in this testing.  Our GT 630 was this EVGA model that is based on 96 CUDA cores and a 128-bit DDR3 memory interface.  You can see a comparison of the three current GT 630 options on NVIDIA's website here.

If you are looking for more information on AMD's Kaveri APUs you should check out my review of the A8-7600 part as well our testing of Dual Graphics with the A8-7600 and a Radeon R7 250 card.

Video Perspective: 2013 Games on the A10-7850K vs. Intel Core i3 + GeForce GT 630

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | January 29, 2014 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: video, nvidia, Intel, gt 630, APU, amd, A10-7850K, 7850k

The most interesting aspect of the new Kaveri-based APUs from AMD, in particularly the A10-7850K part, is how it improves mainstream gaming performance.  AMD has always stated that these APUs shake up the need for low-cost discrete graphics and when we got the new APU in the office we did a couple of quick tests to see how much validity there to that claim.

In this short video we compare the A10-7850K APU against a combination of the Intel Core i3-4330 and GeForce GT 630 discrete graphics card in five of 2013's top PC releases.  I think you'll find the results pretty interesting.

UPDATE: I've had some questions about WHICH of the GT 630 SKUs were used in this testing.  Our GT 630 was this EVGA model that is based on 96 CUDA cores and a 128-bit DDR3 memory interface.  You can see a comparison of the three current GT 630 options on NVIDIA's website here.

If you are looking for more information on AMD's Kaveri APUs you should check out my review of the A8-7600 part as well our testing of Dual Graphics with the A8-7600 and a Radeon R7 250 card.

More fuel for the rumours that Intel is abandoning smartphones

Subject: General Tech | January 28, 2014 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: Intel, smartphones, edison

As part of their keynote address at CES 2014 Intel introduced Edison, a dual core x86 machine the size of an SD card.  This chip will be used not for powering smartphones but for wearable technology as well as for the so called 'Internet of Things'.   As it is WiFi enabled it can be accessed wirelessly to allow fridges to order food or as in the provided example, start a baby bottle warming before you arrive with your hungry child.  With this new focus and the poor performance of Intel's smartphones overseas the rumours that DigiTimes are reporting on seem to be probable.  Their deal with Lenovo to provide phones has ended and while they do have a current relationship with Asustek, that could end as soon as 2015.  The chances of North Americans getting hold of a phone with Intel Inside seem to be diminishing.

intel-edison.jpg

"A rumor circulating in the upstream supply chain in Taiwan has Intel reportedly questioning whether it should quit the smartphone market in 2015 if it continues to see weak performance in its handset business in 2014, according to sources from the upstream supply chain, though Intel has not yet commented on the rumor."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

MSI Launching J1800I Mini ITX Motherboard With Intel Bay Trail-D Processor

Subject: Motherboards | January 22, 2014 - 08:55 PM |
Tagged: msi, mini ITX, J1800I, Intel, celeron, Bay Trail-D, Bay Trail

MSI is preparing to release a new Mini ITX motherboard that comes with a pre-installed Intel bay Trail-D processor. The new motherboard is the MSI J1800I and will be available for around $100 USD.

The Mini ITX form factor board features two DDR3 1333MHz SO-DIMM slots, two SATA III 6Gbps ports, and a single PCI-E x1 expansion slot. The aspect that sets this mini ITX board apart is the inclusion of a dual core Intel Celeron J1800 processor clocked at 2.4GHz. This CPU is a Bay Trail-D based on the Silvermont (Atom) micro-architecture. The chip has a 10W TDP and is passively cooled by a bundled aluminum heatsink.

MSI J1800I Bay Trail-D Mini ITX Motherboard.png

IO options on the MSI J1800I motherboard include:

  • 2 x PS/2
  • 1 x VGA
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x DVI
  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x GbE
  • 3 x Audio

The board could make for a small home server or media box in the living room. The Bay Trail-D processor carries Intel's "Celeron" branding, but is is effectively an OoOE Atom chip. The motherboard+CPU combo should retail for just under $100 and be available soon. More information can be found on this MSI product page.

Source: MSI

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.

Intel-logo.svg_.png

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.

Intel Logo.jpg

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...

ssd-evo1tb.jpg

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.  

ssd-evo500gb.jpg

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.

ssd-evo.jpg

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!!