Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2015 - 01:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb, DIY
Bask in the glory that is this hacked together 33 port USB charger, created in the Netherlands as a workaround to connet the charges to the three rounded prongs used in Schuko sockets common in Europe. This would of course work with NEMA plugs, just line the welding rods up appropriately and connect your USB chargers up to it. Keep in mind that they use 220-240V whereas we use 110-120V so your total workable amount of plugs will vary. If you are considering building your own version of this massive USB charger, you might want to seriously consider installing some sort of circuit breaker in addition to the non-conductive cowling unless you are a fan of dead devices and house fires. Check Hack a Day for other projects from this event and others around the world.
"The Hack42 hackerspace in Arnhem, The Netherlands had collected a large number of TP-Link 5V USB chargers – but all of them had the North American NEMA plug (flat, 2 pin) which wouldn’t fit the Schuko sockets prevalent in The Netherlands. [Simon “MacSimski” Claessen] decided to whip out his giant soldering iron and use it to solder two long pieces of welding filler metal rods to 33 of the chargers, effectively wiring them up in parallel."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Crypto experts slam government encryption backdoor demands @ The Inquirer
- We tried using Windows 10 for real work and ... oh, the HORRORS @ The Register
- Nokia purchase with massive layoffs ahead of Windows 10 @ The Inquirer
- Adobe, Windows, Flash KILLER! Adobe Flash, Windows zero-day vulns leak from Hacking Team raid @ The Register
- The sad song Samsung's sung: SEVENTH quarterly fail in a row @ The Register
- AMD vs. NVIDIA Price Comparison Table – July/2015 @ Hardware Secrets
Logitech Focuses in on Gaming
Logitech has been around seemingly forever. The Swiss based company is ubiquitous in the peripherals market, providing products ranging from keyboards and mice, to speakers and headsets. There is not much that the company does not offer when it comes to PC peripherals. Their 3 button mice back in the day were considered cutting edge that also happened to be semi-programmable. Since that time we have seen them go from ball mice, to optical mice, to the latest laser based products that offer a tremendous amount of precision.
Gaming has become one of the bigger movers for Logitech, and they have revamped their entire lineup as well as added a few new products to hopefully cash in on the popularity of modern gaming. To further address this market Logitech has designed and marketed a new batch of gaming headsets. These promise to be moderately priced, but high quality products that bear the Logitech name. We go from the very basic up to the top 7.1 wireless products. Originally these covered a pretty significant price range, but lately the discounts have been extremely deep. The lowest end gaming headset is at $40US while the 7.1 wireless model comes in around $90 US.
I am looking at two models today that span the lowest end to the 2nd highest. The first headset is the G230 analog set. The second is the G35 wired 7.1 USB with Dolby Headphone technology. I have never been a fan of wireless headphones, but the G35 should be a fairly good approximation of the performance of that part.
My goal is to look at these two wired units and see what Logitech can offer at these two very affordable price points.
Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging
Lexar is Micron’s brand covering SD Cards, microSD Cards, USB flash drives, and card readers. Their card readers are known for being able to push high in the various speed grades, typically allowing transfers (for capable SD cards) much faster than what a typical built-in laptop or PC SD card reader is capable of. Today we will take a look at the Lexar ‘Professional Workflow’ line of flash memory connectivity options from Lexar.
This is essentially a four-bay hub device that can accept various card readers or other types of devices (a USB flash storage device as opposed to just a reader, for example). The available readers range from SD to CF to Professional Grade CFast cards capable of over 500 MB/sec.
We will be looking at the following items today:
- Professional Workflow HR2
- Four-bay Thunderbolt™ 2/USB 3.0 reader and storage drive hub
- Professional Workflow UR1
- Three-slot microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-I USB 3.0 reader
- Professional Workflow SR1
- SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-I USB 3.0 reader
- Professional Workflow CFR1
- CompactFlash® USB 3.0 reader
- Professional Workflow DD256
- 256GB USB 3.0 Storage Drive
Note that since we were sampled these items, Lexar has begun shipping a newer version of the SR1. The SR2 is a SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II USB 3.0 reader. Since we had no UHS-II SD cards available to test, this difference would not impact any of our testing speed results. There is also an HR1 model which has only USB 3.0 support and no Thunderbolt, coming in at a significantly lower cost when compared with the HR2 (more on that later).
One hub to rule them all!
Inateck sent along a small group of connectivity devices for us to evaluate. One such item was their HB7003 7 port USB 3.0 hub:
This is a fairly standard powered USB hub with one exception - high speed charging. Thanks to an included 36W power adapter and support for Battery Charging Specification 1.2, the HB7003 can charge devices at up to 1.5 Amps at 5 Volts. This is not to be confused with 'Quick Charging', which uses a newer specification and more unique hardware.
- L/W/H: 6.06" x 1.97" x 0.83"
- Ports: 7
- Speed: USB 3.0 5Gbps (backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1)
- Windows Vista / OSX 10.8.4 and newer supported without drivers
Densely packed brown box. Exactly how such a product should be packaged.
Power adapter (~6 foot cord), ~4.5 foot USB 3.0 cord, instruction manual, and the hub itself.
Some quick charging tests revealed that the HB7003 had no issue exceeding 1.0 Amp charging rates, but fell slightly short of a full 1.5A charge rate due to the output voltage falling a little below the full 5V. Some voltage droop is common with this sort of device, but it did have some effect. In one example, an iPad Air drew 1.3A (13% short of a full 1.5A). Not a bad charging rate considering, but if you are expecting a fast charge of something like an iPad, its dedicated 2.1A charger is obviously the better way to go.
Performance and Usability:
As you can see above, even though the port layout is on a horizontal plane, Inateck has spaced the ports enough that most devices should be able to sit side by side. Some wider devices may take up an extra port, but with seven to work with, the majority of users should have enough available ports even if one or two devices overlap an adjacent port. In the above configuration, we had no issue saturating the throughput to each connected device. I also stepped up to a Samsung USB T1 which also negotiated at the expected USB 3.0 speeds.
Pricing and Availability
- $34.99 (Amazon)
Inateck is selling it these direct from their Amazon store (link above).
- Clean design 7-port USB 3.0 hub.
- Port spacing sufficient for most devices without interference.
- 1.5A per port charging.
- Low cost.
- 'Wall wart' power adapter may block additional power strip outlets.
At just $35, the Inateck HB7003 is a good quality 7-port USB 3.0 hub. All ports can charge devices at up to 1.5A while connecting them to the host at data rates up to 5 Gbps. The only gripe I had was that the hub was a bit on the light weight side and as a result it easily slid around on the desk when the attached cords were disturbed, but some travelers might see light weight as a bonus. Overall this is a simple, no frills USB 3.0 hub that gets the job done nicely.
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
The other day we took a look at the ICY DOCK ToughArmor MB996SP-6SB and ICYBento MB559U3S-1S. Today we'll move onto a couple of larger products in their lineup:
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Today we're taking a quick look at a pair of drive enclosures sent to us by ICY DOCK.
To the left is the ToughArmor MB996SP-6SB, which is a 5.25" bay hot swap chassis capable of mounting 6 2.5" SATA devices. To the right is the ICYBento MB559U3S-1S, which is a UASP external 3.5" HDD enclosure connectable by either USB 3.0 or eSATA.
We did note that the spec sheet and manual included SATA power to molex adapters, but we found no such adapters in the box. We may have received old stock, as the web site appears more up to date than the paper manual we received.
**update** ICYDock reached out and let me know that all shipping boxes of this part should come with a pair of molex to SATA power cables. Our sample came from their techs and they must have forgot to put those cables back into our box.
Both items were well packaged with no shipping damage noted.
Subject: Motherboards | March 25, 2015 - 08:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: usb 3.1, usb, msi, amd, am3+, 10Gbps
Last week, MSI launched a slew of new USB 3.1 equipped motherboards. Today, the company is releasing more details on one of the AMD-based products: the MSI 970A SLI Krait Edition. This upcoming motherboard is geared towards gamers using AMD FX (AM3+) processors and supports multi-GPU setups (both SLI and CrossFire). The 970A SLI Krait Edition has a black and white color scheme with rich expansion options and large aluminum heatsinks over the VRMs and northbridge.
The AM3+ processor socket sits to the left of four DDR3 memory slots. Six expansion slots take up the majority of the lower half of the board and include two PCI-E x16, two PCI-E x1, and two PCI slots. Six SATA ports occupy the bottom-right corner with four at 90-degree angles. MSI is using its latest “Military Class 4” capacitors and other hardware along with gold audio traces connecting the rear IO audio jacks to the onboard sound chip.
Speaking of rear IO, you will find the following ports on the 970A SLI Krait Edition.
- 2 x PS/2
- 6 x USB 2.0
- 2 x USB 3.1
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 6 x Analog Audio
The main feature that MSI is pushing with this new board is the addition of two USB 3.1 (Type A) ports to the AMD platform. This is the first AM3+ motherboard to support the faster standard – up to 10 Gbps using an Asmedia ASM1352R controller – while also being backwards compatible with older USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 devices.
MSI has not yet released pricing or availability, but expect it to launch soon for less than $100.
Few specifications have been released about this board so far, as well as no timetable for the launch. It is a finished product and should be out "soon" as Tim mentioned.
There are a few things we can gather from the photo of the board. The audio solution is not nearly as robust as we saw with the 970 Gaming motherboard. I doubt it will have the headphone amplification, and the filtering is going to be less due to fewer caps used. The audio is still physically isolated on the PCB, but it has not received the same focus as what we saw on 970 Gaming.
It looks like it is a full 8+2 power phase implementation, as it is taking up more space on the board than the 6+2 unit on the 970 Gaming did. This should allow for a greater selection of CPUs to be used, as well as potentially greater overclocking ability. It does not feature a separate SATA controller, so all 6 SATA ports on the board are handled by the SB950. There are no external e-SATA ports, which really is not a big deal as those are rarely used.
This looks to be a nice addition to the fading AM3+ market. For those holding onto their AMD builds and wish to upgrade, this looks to be an inexpensive option with next generation connectivity. MSI looks to have paid the licensing fee necessary to support SLI, plus they utilize the same AMD 970 chipset on the 970 Gaming that is not supposed to be able to split the 1 x 16X PEG connection to 2 x 8X slots. Some interesting design and chippery are required to that.
Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2015 - 01:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb, flash drive
It is not easy to kill something via USB as the plugs deal with all sorts of devices that are off spec but it can be done. If you short ground and power the plug disables itself, TVS diodes prevent static electricity from damaging anything and excessive RF is bled off by the inline filtering beads. That didn't stop this Hack a Day reader from figuring out a way to make a killer USB drive with a inverting DC-DC converter and capacitor bank. The drive uses the power provided by the USB port to charge the capacitors to -110VDC which then discharges that to the data pins, enough to overcome the protection on the port and it repeats until the USB port is no longer capable of delivering power. Considering many USB ports are integrated onto your CPU at this point, this is not a very nice thing to do; we present this as a warning and do not recommend this or similar projects be undertaken by our readers.
"[Dark Purple] recently heard a story about how someone stole a flash drive from a passenger on the subway. The thief plugged the flash drive into his computer and discovered that instead of containing any valuable data, it completely fried his computer. The fake flash drive apparently contained circuitry designed to break whatever computer it was plugged into."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel: Windows XP upgrade slowdown hits Q1 cash flow @ The Inquirer
- Panda antivirus labels itself as malware, then borks EVERYTHING @ The Register
- Infiniband Association adds control freakery to Volume 1 spec @ The Register
- Hardware Asylum Podcast - Gigabyte Big XTU Challenge and Smart Watches
- TRENDnet TV-IP310PI Outdoor 3 MP PoE Day/Night Network Camera Review @ NikKTech
- Life, the interview and everything: A chat with Douglas Adams @ The Register
- El Reg chefs whip up Post-Pub Noshographic
- Tech ARP 2015 Mega Giveaway
Followers of PC Perspective have likely seen a pair of stories previewing the upcoming performance and features of USB 3.1. First we got our hands on the MSI X99A Gaming 9 ACK motherboard and were able to run through our very first hands-on testing with USB 3.1 hardware. The motherboard had built-in USB 3.1 support and a device that was configured with a RAID-0 of Intel SSD 730 Series drives.
We followed that up with a look at the ASUS USB 3.1 implementation that included a PCIe add-on card and a dual-drive mSATA device also in RAID-0. This configuration was interesting because we can theoretically install this $40 product into any system with a free PCI Express slot.
Performance was astounding for incredibly early implementations, reaching as high as 835 MB/s!
In that last article I theorized that it would be some time before we got our hands on retail USB 3.1 hardware but it appears I wasn't giving the industry enough credit. ASUS passed us a list of incoming devices along with release schedules. There are 27 devices scheduled to be released before the end of April and ~35 by the middle of the year.
It's a daunting table to look at, so be prepared!
The product categories are mostly dominated by the likes of the a USB 3.1 to 2.5-in adapter; that would be useful but you aren't going to top out the performance of the USB 3.1 with a single 2.5-in SATA device. Iomaster has one listed as a "USB 3.1 to MSATA & M2 SSD enclosure" which could be more interesting - does it accept PCI Express M.2 SSDs?
Minerva Innovation has a couple of interesting options, all listed with pairs of mSATA or M.2 ports, two with Type-C connections. What we don't know based on this data is if it supports PCIe M.2 SSDs or SATA only and if it supports RAID-0.
A couple more list dual SATA ports which might indicate that we are going to see multiple hard drives / SSDs over a single USB 3.1 connection but without RAID support. That could be another way to utilize the bandwidth of USB 3.1 in a similar way to how we planned to use Thunderbolt daisy chaining.
We don't have pricing yet, but I don't think USB 3.1 accessories will be significantly more expensive than what USB 3.0 devices sell for. So, does this list of accessories make you more excited to upgrade your system for USB 3.1?
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Storage | February 11, 2015 - 09:59 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: usb 3.1, usb, msi, asmedia
USB 3.0, for storage, is fast. If you are using an external, spindle-based hard drive, it will perform basically as fast as an internal sibling would. Apart from my two SSDs, I do not even have an internal drive anymore. You can safely install games to external hard drives now.
But with USB 3.1, the spec doubled to 10 Gbps, which matches the first generation Thunderbolt connector. A couple of weeks ago, Tom's Hardware put it to the test with an ASMedia USB3.1 to SATA 6 Gbps developer board. Sure enough, when you are raiding a pair of Intel 730 SSDs, you can achieve over 700 MB/s read/write in CrystalDiskMark.
About the most interesting part of Tom's Hardware testing is their CPU usage benchmark. While USB 3.0 on Intel's controller choked a CPU thread, USB 3.1 on ASMedia's controller did not even reach half of a thread's maximum (the CPU in question is a Core i7-5930K Haswell-E at 3.5 GHz).
So until we get flash drives that are constrained by USB 3.0's fairly high ceiling, we might be able to have reduced CPU usage.