CES 2014: ARM and Huawei Show First True 8-Core Smartphone

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 10:54 AM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2014, arm, Huawei, mediatek, 8 core

While clearly the need for an 8-core smartphone is still a debate, the enablement of hardware partners like Huawei, Mediatek and ARM are creating an ecosystem that enables the software developer to stretch their legs and innovate.  While wandering around CES we ran into the Huawei G750 smartphone, the first to be powered by a true 8-core (octa-core) processor.

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This phone likely isn't going to find its way to the US market but the design was solid and the user interface, as you would expect, was snappy and smooth.  This processor from Mediatek, the MT6592, has the ability to run all 8 Cortex-A7 cores at the same time when the needs arise.  Rather than go with the big.LITTLE design route Mediatek instead include 8 of the "little" cores in this design.

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Each core is capable of clocking in at 2.0 GHz (though this Huawei model seems to cap at 1.7 GHz) and MediaTek claims that this allows support for 4K high bit-rate H.264 video playback as well as H.265 and VP9 playback.  

The concern of a "core race" in the mobile market is definitely real though you have to be impressed by the drive for hardware vendors to improve capabilities.  Now we just need to be sure that the software ecosystem and the power management designs are keeping up.

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

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CES 2014: MSI Previews the Radeon R9 290X Lightning

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 10:40 AM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2014, msi, 290x, radeon, amd, Lightning, R9 290X

The MSI Lightning series of graphics cards continues to be one of the best high end enthusiast lines available as we have seen with our reviews of the MSI GeForce GTX 780 Lightning and the R7970 Lightning.  At CES this week in Las Vegas the company was showcasing the upcoming card in the series based on the latest AMD Hawaii GPU.

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The MSI R9 290X Lightning features an updated triple cooler design and heat pipe cooler that appears to be truly impressive.  If the weight of the card is any indication, this GPU should be running considerably cooler than most of the competition.  

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MSI has included a dual BIOS option, updated Military Class 4 components and hardware but be prepared to sacrifice three slots of your motherboard to this monster.  Power requirements are interesting with a pair of 8-pin power connectors and a single 6-pin connector, though the 6-pin is going to optional.

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The power of the card still comes from AMD's latest R9 290X Hawaii GPU, so you can be sure you'll have enough gaming power for just about any situation.  We implored MSI to make sure that the overclocks of this card, probably in the 1050-1100 MHz range, are maintained consistently through extended game play to avoid any awkward variance discussions. 

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CES 2014: Oculus Rift Prototype... Because Seeing Dots is a Symptom of NOT Throwing Up?

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2014 - 12:35 AM |
Tagged: Oculus, oculus rift, CES, CES 2014

Ryan awaited his Oculus Rift eagerly right from the time he placed his Kickstarter donation. He was able to use the device for a few minutes at QuakeCon and last year's CES but he wanted to game for longer sessions to get feel for it. As it turned out, a few minutes in to an Unreal Tournament 3-based demo, he felt the onset of motion sickness.

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Image Credit: Oculus via Ars Technica

The company was at this year's CES with a new prototype called "Crystal Cove". This version looks somewhat like a mocap suit on your face, with various white dots to be recognized by a camera. The thought seems to be that motion capture techniques are lower latency and maybe even more precise than the motion sensors alone. That, combined with the OLED screen's new policy of quickly presenting frames for only a couple of milliseconds, is supposed to make a world of difference in terms of blurriness and nausea.

There are still concerns with the Oculus as a shipping product, however. When your eyes are covered by screens you are subjecting yourself to sensory deprivation. It may be immersive but it does not replace the reality that your body exists within. The cat may be at your feet even if it is not in your virtual world. This will obviously be less of an issue when combined with the Omni treadmill (or similar device) because it keeps your body in a defined space.

Still, advances seem to happen even more quick than a yearly basis. What do you expect the state of Oculus will be at next year's CES?

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Source: Ars Technica

CES 2014: Kyle Orland (Ars Technica) Tries Steam Controller

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 11:21 PM |
Tagged: CES 2014, CES, valve, Steam Controller

Valve has garnered a lot of hype leading up to this CES. This event was the launch of Steam Machines from their OEM partners. The line-up for their keynote speech was intense, Ryan tweeting in the crowd a whole half of an hour before the speech. Finally, at 7:59 pm EST, Gabe begun to speak... and taking questions by 8:02. Included below is a dramatization of the event.

Yes, I know, "Simpsons did it..."

... South Park probably did it too.

As previously reported, thirteen OEM designs were presented and available to discuss their product. Steam controllers came up during the question period and brought out a pretty big detail: while Valve will be making the Steam Controller, other manufacturers will be allowed to make their own. Currently release date and expected price are still unknown.

Some journalists actually got their hands on the official Steam Controller and they, naturally, shared their thoughts. Kyle Orland of Ars Technica was one of them and his opinion was quite literally split down the middle. On the one hand, pun fully intended, aiming felt about as comfortable and effective as a mouse. On the other hand, movement in legacy mode was aggravating without any tactile feedback signaling where any of the eight directions (up, down, left, right, and the diagonals) start and end.

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Again, this opinion only stands for shooter-style games in "Legacy Mode". Developers can use the controller more effectively when they design their title for the actual API. Legacy mode maps controller input to mouse and keyboard events and signals.

He also had other comments (positive and negative) about the button layout and other aspects of the controller. It might be worth checking out if you keep in mind: it is early times and he only had a few minutes to base his opinion.

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Source: Ars Technica

CES 2014: Corsair Launches Graphite Series 760T and 730T Full Tower Gaming Cases

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | January 8, 2014 - 11:18 PM |
Tagged: graphite series, full tower, corsair, CES 2014, CES

In addition to the Mini-ITX Obsidian 250D, Corsair is launching two full tower gaming cases under its Graphite series. The Graphite 760T and 730T are full tower cases constructed of steel and aluminum that incorporate many enthusiast-friendly features. The 760T and 730T share the same form factor and general design including two hinged side panels, tool-less drive bays, and support for air and water cooling options. Note that the 730T has metal side panels while the 760T has two windowed side panels and adds a fan controller. Further, the 760T comes in two color options (black and arctic white) while the 730T is only available in black.

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The pair of full tower cases join the existing mid-tower 230T in the Graphite Series. The 760T and 730T are large 22.4" x 9.7" x 22.2" cases that offer up lots of cooling, expansion, storage, cable management, and motherboard support options. The case has a large mesh front panel that has two LED-lit AF140L 140mm  fans and three 5.25" drive bays. On the top edge of the case is the front IO panel which includes two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, two audio jacks, and power and reset buttons. The two side panels are hinged at the back and open using a handle at the front. The left side panel is transparent to show off your hardware while the opposite side panel is opaque. In all, the Graphite 760T and 730T are attractive cases with straight lines and roughly octagonal shape. The case is lifted above the ground using large case feet.

Internally, the case supports 9 PCI slots, three 5.25" drive bays, six 3.5" (or 2.5") hard drives in two modular (and removable) drive cages, four side-mounted 2.5" SSDs, seven cooling fans, ATX motherboards, and ATX power supplies. Users should have no problem fitting a beefy multi-GPU setup into the new Graphite cases.

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When it comes to cooling, the Graphite 760T and 730T support up to seven fans. Corsair includes two LED-lit AF140L 140mm fans in the front and a single AF140L fan in the rear that come pre-installed. From there users can add three 140mm or 120mm fans to the top and a single 120mm fan to the bottom of the case. Users that opt for water cooling can instead install a 360mm radiator in the top of the case and a 280mm radiator to the bottom of the case. The 760T includes a fan speed switch that switches between 12V and 7V power to control the speed (and noise) of the cooling fans. The cheaper 730T does not include this integrated fan controller, however.

Both the 760T and 730T will be available in February from Corsair's authorized distributors and will include a 2 year warranty. The Graphite 760T has an MSRP of $179.99 for the black version and $189.99 for the arctic white SKU. On the other hand, if you can live without windowed side panels, a fan controller, and only one color choice, the black Graphite 730T has an MSRP of $139.99.

Personally, I find it to be a neat looking case that I am considering for my next build assuming the reviews hold up on the build quality. What do you think about the newest entrants to Corsair's Graphite Series?

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Source: Corsair

CES 2014: ADATA shows new PCIe SSD and unique OTG flash drive

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 08:20 PM |
Tagged: PCIe SSD, OTG, CES 2014, CES, adata

ADATA will be rolling out their own PCIe SSD, this solution opting for the SF3700 controller due out later this year. Their demo produced the same 1.8 Gb/sec sequential read speed we saw over at Kingston earlier today:

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While the above solution is SF3700-equipped M.2 adapted to standard PCIe by a ustom PCB, ADATA was also showing an operational PCB which had the components direct mounted:

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Note the heat sink to help dissipate the heat produced by the SF3700. We hope the heat output will be optimized as development of this new controller progresses.

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We also saw a unique spin on the OTG-style USB flash drive we'd been seeing all around CES this year:

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Instead of having a common center containing the flash memory, they have made the center section into more of an adapter to bridge the super-small USB drive (right) across to the micro-USB port (left). An advantage of this format is that you could use the same adapter to bridge pretty much any standard USB flash drive over to an Android device.

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CES 2014: Plextor launches M6e PCIe SSD (and a sneak peek)

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 08:02 PM |
Tagged: plextor, PCIe SSD, M6e, CES 2014, CES

This morning Plextor launched their new M6e PCIe SSD. Their press blast appears after the break, but before you do so, check out the pics we grabbed earlier today:

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The M6e is essentially an interposer board that simply interfaces the Marvell controller / Toshiba flash M.2 PCIe SSD to a standard desktop class PCIe connector. This solution is slower than the upcoming SF3700 solution being implemented by Kingston and ADATA, but this product is shipping now, while the SF3700 will not be production ready for at least another six months time.

Full press blast appears below:

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CES 2014: Kingston shows PCIe SSD, comfy headsets, DDR4, and gaming seats

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 07:47 PM |
Tagged: SF3700, Predator, OTG, Need For Seat, kingston, CES 2014, CES

We swing by Kingston this morning to see what was cooking. Here we go:

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OTG compatible dual micro / standard USB drive that's physically a tiny bit smaller than the Corsair model we saw yesterday.

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This was probably the most comfortable headset I've ever put on. The padding is real leather wrapped over memory foam, and the arms are aluminum for durability. It really didn't feel like it was on at all, aside from the reduction in background noise from the room, assisted by the denser memory foam.

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Here is a reference Intel chassis populated with a whopping 384GB of DDR4-2133.

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This modules were populated with Hynix DDR4 modules.

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...and this staggering speed and capacity was able to be run by the reference board in multi-channel mode. That's a serious amount of RAM running at a serious speed. Speaking of things running at serious speeds:

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Here is the Kingston HyperX Predator, a PCIe SSD. The unreleased LSI SandForce SF3700 is capable of 1.8 GB/sec as it is a native PCIe implementation. The only catch is we will have to wait until mid-late 2014 for these to launch. Kingston is ready, but SandForce is not. Here is the 2.5" version of the same, demonstrating that the SF3700 is also capable of configuring for a SATA 6Gb/sec link:

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We also saw some cool looking "Need For Seat" office / gaming chairs. They were fairly comfortable, and the backs pivot nearly flat, just like the seats in your car:

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In addition to differing looks, each model has a different cushion layout, so I recommend trying to sit in the one you intend to buy prior to doing so.

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CES 2014: Firefox OS to Power Panasonic Smart TVs

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 01:18 AM |
Tagged: Panasonic, mozilla, Firefox OS, CES 2014, CES

Firefox OS is a thin Linux layer which immediately loads Gecko, the rendering engine behind Firefox and other Mozilla products, to handle everything else. The entire OS interface is developed in HTML5, CSS, Javascript, and other web standards. It suffices to say that it can handle web apps very easily (it is one).

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Panasonic and Mozilla have entered into a partnership, announced at CES, for future smart TVs to be powered by Firefox OS. This can be very useful for Panasonic. Provided they keep up with certifying new releases, performance should be about the only other barrier preventing their product from running the popular apps as they arise. It also lifts the burden away for developer support.

On the other hand, this could also be good for Firefox OS and the web itself. Mozilla is not a stupid organization and, while they certainly like their products adopted, I would not be surprised if they hope this effort brings content out to play. Netflix and other content providers who want to be on Panasonic's platform would need to support their flavor of Firefox OS. Netflix, in particular, has already made inroads with HTML5 albeit with certain encryption extensions.

Atwood's Law applies to televisions, too!

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Source: Panasonic

CES 2014: NVIDIA Shows Modified ASUS PQ321Q 4K Monitor with G-Sync

Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | January 8, 2014 - 01:01 AM |
Tagged: pq321q, PQ321, nvidia, gsync, g-sync, CES 2014, CES, asus, 4k

Just before CES Allyn showed you the process of modifying the ASUS VG248QE to support NVIDIA G-Sync variable refresh rate technology.  It wasn't the easiest mod we have ever done but even users without a lot of skill will be able to accomplish it.  

But at the NVIDIA booth at CES this year the company was truly showing off G-Sync technology to its fullest capability.  By taking the 3840x2160 ASUS PQ321Q monitor and modifying it with the same G-Sync module technology we were able to see variable refresh rate support in 4K glory.

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Obviously you can't see much from the photo above about the smoothness of the animation, but I can assure you that in person this looks incredible.  In fact, 4K might be the perfect resolution for G-Sync to shine as running games at that high of a resolution will definitely bring your system to its knees, dipping below that magical 60 Hz / FPS rate.  But when it does with this modified panel, you'll still get smooth game play and a a tear-free visual experience.

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The mod is actually using the same DIY kit that Allyn used in his story though it likely has a firmware update for compatibility.  Even with the interesting debate from AMD about the support for VRR in the upcoming DisplayPort 1.3 standard, it's impossible to not see the ASUS PQ321Q in 4K with G-Sync and instantly fall in love with PCs again.

Sorry - there are no plans to offer this upgrade kit for ASUS PQ321Q owners!

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