AMD's Small Form Factor Project Quantum PC Is a Dual Fiji Powerhouse [Updated]

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 16, 2015 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: water cooling, SFF, Fiji, E3 2015, E3, dual fiji, amd

AMD revealed a new liquid cooled small form factor PC called Project Quantum during an E3 livestream today.

AMD Project Quantum with Dual Fiji.JPG

On the outside, an angled dual compartment aluminum case with rounded edges houses the processing hardware in the bottom and all the cooling components in the top part. AMD is using liquid cooling for the processor and graphics with the tubing running up the center column joining the two pieces together to a radiator or radiators. Red LEDs light up the center column while Radeon R9 branding sits in the bottom left corner. 

AMD Project Quantum.JPG

While at first glance that Radeon R9 branding might be unassuming, it is actually referring to AMD's latest Fiji architecture. That's correct, Project Quantum is part of the Fiji product family and is, in fact, powered by two AMD Fiji-based graphics procesors!

Update: AMD has posted a behind-the-scenes video on the development of Project Quantum which you can watch below.

In the video, AMD reveals that they are using a modified ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac motherboard (thanks to djotter in the comments for pointing that out) which means that Project Quantum is using an Intel Haswell processor in addition to the two Fiji-based GPUs. AMD has removed all of the rear IO connectors save two USB 3.0 ports and an Ethernet jack. They have also moved the 8-pin CPU power connector to the back panel of the board next to the USB ports. My guess is that they did this for cable management and height restriction reasons within the bottom compartment. Specifically, from the CAD render shown in the video, it appears that the AMD graphics card sits horizontally on top of the motherboard which meant that at least some of the rear IO ports had to be removed or relocated.

AMD Project Quantum PSU.jpg

Another bit of information from that AMD video is that Project Quantum is using what looks like an external power supply. The power brick connects to the system over a single cable to an internal board. This board provides power to a Pico PSU that is plugged into the ATX 24-pin connector on the motherboard and provides power to the AMD branded Solid State Drive (SSD) as well as the motherboard and CPU 8-pin connectors (which have both been modified to right angles for height and cable management reasons). The internal power board that connects to the socket at the back likely also powers the Radeon graphics card via PCI-E connectors, but it is difficult to tell from the photo (it is that red PCB towards the top of the photo).

AMD Radeon R9 Quantum Dual Fiji SFF Prototype.jpg

Interestingly AMD has switched out the power and USB 3.0 headers with right angle models and removed the blue ASRock heatsinks covering the VRMs and PCH. AMD is instead using two large waterblocks to cool the components on the motherboard and graphics card. A large radiator and pump sit in the top compartment cooled by an 180mm Enermax Apollish fan. The 180mm radiator should result in quieter, or at least less annoying, fan noise since the large fan can spin slower while moving similar amounts of air as smaller fans paired with 120 or 140mm radiators. Using a single large radiator for both the CPU and GPU is an interesting choice here, and I think a correct one.

AMD Project Quantum Waterblocks.jpg

A rendering of the water loop layout on Project Quantum. Image from AMD with annotations by Aibohphobia.

It was actually djotter and Aibohphobia in the comments who spotted the Pico PSU and provided an example. (I did not notice that in the video initially, so thanks for pointing that out!)  This power brick and tiny Pico PSU setup would certainly help to explain how AMD was able to make Project Quantum so thin (though an external PSU isn't necessarily a bad thing). The Pico PSU does suggest that the dual Fiji GPUs may be closer to lower end R9 Nanos than two high end Fury Xs (heh) or maybe some other yet unannounced cut-down Fiji chip entirely.

(End of update)

Update 9:30PM:

During the PC Gamer E3 Twitch stream, AMD CEO Lisa Su showed off Project Quantum, and Ken was able to snap a photo of the back panel.

AMD Project Quantum Rear IO.JPG

Project Quantum has, from left to right, a single power input (see above), two analog audio jacks, two USB 3.0 ports, an Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet jack, four USB 2.0 ports, and a single horizontal PCI slot. A Radeon R9 graphics card is installed in this slot and features three DisplayPort and one HDMI 1.4 video outputs. We still do not know all the specs of this card, but is is Fiji-based and supports LiquidVR along with AMD's other features including FreeSync and Frame Rate Target Control.

(End Update 9:30PM)

Beyond that, we do not know many details on Project Quantum. From the other announcements around Fiji today, particularly the R9 Nano and R9 Fury X, this little machine is going to be a powerhouse with impressive power efficiency and performance per watt – especially for its size!

Of course, pricing and availability were not discussed at the event. Stay tuned to PC Perspective as we get more details closer to its official release!

Source: AMD

100Gbps optical interconnects anyone?

Subject: General Tech | June 16, 2015 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: IBM, photonics

Almost a year ago IBM put $3 billion into research on developing and enhancing their existing photonics technology and putting it onto chips.  The Register has heard of their recent success in creating an integrated silicon photonics transceiver chip with multiplexed wavelengths, allowing multiple signals to be sent simultaneously without interference allowing the incredibly high bandwidth.  The example given to demonstrate what 100Gbps means is downloading an HD movie in 2 seconds, not too shabby at all.  The demonstration model exists, a big first step in photonic technology but we won't see it mass produced for a while yet.  This is a good first step in finally getting rid of copper and moving on to a new medium for data transfer.

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"IBM last month claimed a breakthrough in photonics – the practice of using light pulses rather than electrons to quickly send signals in chips."

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Source: The Register

NRAM research gets a financial boost

Subject: General Tech | June 15, 2015 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: non-volatile RAM, Nantero, NRAM, STT-MRAM, RRAM, memristor, hp, Panasonic, toshiba

Non-volatile memory technology is now at a turning point where we find out which technology will be doomed to be BETAMAX and which will carry on to become the VHS equivalent; hopefully that analogy is not too accurate as VHS was not the better of the two.  Allyn discussed the reasons why the market is looking for a new technology back in 2012 and his predictions that NAND still had some life in it have been proven over the past few years but we are seeing new limitations with the current technology.

In the past we have covered HP's Resistive RAM, also called a Memrisitor, which has been in development for many years but has finally appeared in some Panasonic microcomputers which control sensors.  STT-MRAM, spin transfer torque magnetoresistive random access memory, is Toshiba's project and while we still haven't seen any product it has been in development for more than 3 years and news of prototypes should arrive soon.  Lastly is NRAM, nano-RAM so named for the use of carbon based nanotubes in its design which is being developed by Nantero.

It is Nantero which is in the news today, having secured $31.5 million in funding this year, triple what they have seen in previous years according to the numbers The Inquirer has.  This particular technology offers densities in the terabytes per chip, storage which requires no active power source once written to and data retention of over 1,000 years at 85 degrees Celsius.  The speeds should match those expected from STT-RAM but at a fabrication price closer to the much lower cost RRAM; don't hold off buying your next SSD but do not think that market is going to get boring any time soon.

nram_chip.jpg

"It got $31.5m in an over-subscribed round to continue developing its nanotube-based non-volatile RAM (NRAM) semiconductor technology, which it says has DRAM read/write speed and is ultra-high density – think terabits."

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Source: Slashdot

A furious flurry of Fury X rumours

Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2015 - 01:14 PM |
Tagged: hbm, leak, fury x, amd, Fiji, radeon, 390x

The rumours are flying today, with some purportedly leaked performance results of AMD's upcoming Fiji XT based card, the Fury X.  The leak at Videocardz shows the results of 3DMark's Firestrike Ultra and Extreme for an AMD Radeon Graphics Processor in single card configuration and Crossfire results for Extreme only.  The results show a card that can keep up with the Titan X and by extension the new GTX 980 Ti as well.  At 1440p resolution, the Firestrike Extreme benchmark, the new AMD card seems to lag slightly behind NVIDIA in single and dual GPU configurations, but not by much while in the Ultra test at 4K the AMD GPU pulls ahead, likely thanks to the new HBM-1 memory.

R9-390X-8DFR_4.JPG

They also claim to have a source who has run the new GPU though the CompuBench suite which gives us more information about the general architecture.  The tests show a card with 64 Compute Units, which translates into 4096 Stream Cores if it is designed similarly to current Radeons.  The tests also confirm the 1050MHz core clock and more interestingly the 4GB of HBM-1 will be clocked at 500MHz memory clock with a 4096-bit bus, which is good news for those who like their resolutions as high as they can go.  Nothing is confirmed yet but these numbers bode well for the new Radeon architecture if they are true.

AMD-Radeon-Fury-X-3DMark-FireStrike.jpg

(Image credit: VideoCardz.com)

Source: Videocardz

Juicy Friday rumour; a mysterious Blackberry device running Android?

Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2015 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: Android, blackberry, google, rumour

Could this Reuters' story that Slashdot linked to possibly be correct?  A phone with a physical keyboard using Blackberry hardware with an Android OS?  The fact that you have been able to set up the Google Play store on BB10 devices for a while now is well known and lends credence to the rumour but it would represent a huge change for the long suffering smartphone company.  Blackberry opened up BBM to all phones, which did not generate much interest and the company has also announced that it will make some of its proprietary security feature available to iOS, Android and Windows phones which makes their devices a little less unique.  A slider style phone with a keyboard that is natively Android is interesting but just how likely is this to restore Blackberry as a player in this highly competitive market?

blackberry-curved-slider-970-80.jpg

"BlackBerry is considering equipping an upcoming smartphone with Google Inc.'s Android software for the first time, an acknowledgement that its revamped line of devices has failed to win mass appeal, according to four sources familiar with the matter."

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Source: Slashdot

Be Quiet! Silent Base 600 Coming In September

Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2015 - 01:49 AM |
Tagged: silent pc, mid-tower, computex 2015, computex, be quiet!, be quiet

Be Quiet unveiled the Silent Base 600 at Computex last week which is the company's second PC case. It is a smaller, quieter, and cheaper version of the existing Silent Base 800 while maintaining the same design and emphasis on noise reduction. Available in September, Be Quiet! is offering this mid tower case in both a side panel and windowed version at $99 and $115 respectively.

The Silent Base 600 is black with angled edges and a brushed metal front panel. It sits on four case feet that lift it up slightly to improve airflow. A panel on the front hides three 5.25" bays while the front IO sits along the top edge and two large vertical grilles act as front intakes. The side panel(s) have an adjustable height vent to increase or decrease airflow. A fan can be attached to the side panel (the window version of the case does not have vents) and users can adjust the intake around the edges of the vent to balance airflow and noise. Two Be Quiet! Pure Wings 2 fans come pre-installed (one 120mm in the rear and one 140mm front intake fan) and users can additionally install up to two 120/140mm fans up top, one 120mm side panel fan, one 140mm bottom mounted fan, and an extra 140mm front intake fan for a total of seven fans (or six if you opt for the windowed model). Be Quiet provides removable filters on all the intakes which is a nice touch.

be-quiet-silent base 600 black with side window.jpg

Check out Gamer's Nexus for more photos from be quiet!'s Computex booth!

Front I/O on the Silent Base 600 includes two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, two audio jacks, and an integrated fan controller. Be Quiet! continues to emphasis noise reduction with the inclusion of sound dampening material in the side panels, rubber mounts for the tool-less drives, and rubber mounts for the included fans to reduce vibration noise.

The Silent Base 600 will be available in black, silver, and orange colors. The color options get you accents around the front grilles and rubber cable management grommets in your chosen color among other color tweaks.

Internally, the Silent Base 600 has room for ATX motherboards, bottom mounted power supplies (290mm max), CPU coolers up to 170mm tall, and up to 400mm long graphics cards. Storage is handled by three 5.25", three 3.5", and two 2.5" drive bays. Other features include three rubber grommets to support external water cooling radiators, grommets in the motherboard tray to help with cable management, an optional fan controller to control an additional three fans, and seven PCI expansion slots should you be so inclined.

In all, it looks like a good base for an extremely quiet PC though I would have liked to see 360mm radiator support so that I could finally upgrade my case and move my radiator inside (heh). I'm looking forward to the reviews and seeing how well the noise reduction tweaks work.

Jimmy Thang (from Maximum PC) was able to check out the new case at Computex 2015 and you can watch their video with Chris from be quiet! on YouTube.

What do you think about Be Quiet!'s new mid tower case?

Ozone loves the lefties, check out the Neon and Boson

Subject: General Tech | June 11, 2015 - 03:03 PM |
Tagged: input, gaming mouse, mousepad, ozone, neon, boson

The Ozone Gaming Boson mousepad is not fancy, nor is it expensive at $10.  It easily rolls up for travel as it is very slim and flexible, or it could be hand for someone who doesn't want a fancy mousepad but would like to protect their desks.   The Neon mouse is the far more interesting part of the review at Techgage, as you can see in the picture it is perfectly symmetrical which makes it appropriate no matter which of your hands is dominant.  Considering the right handed bias in most gaming mice it is nice to see a product which works for anyone and at $50 it is quite affordable.   You can see how well it performs and get an idea of the software which allows you to customize your mouse in the full Techgage review.

Ozone-Gaming-Boson-Neon-Bundle-01-680x329.jpg

"Ozone Gaming might be an unknown player in the gaming peripheral market, but there’s no doubt it’s a solutions provider with ambition. Today we take a look at two of its products, the Boson mousepad and the Neon gaming mouse. Read on for our review on this Ozone Gaming tag team."

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Source: Techgage

Hold the phones there Hola, you are making a profit off of my bandwidth?

Subject: General Tech | June 11, 2015 - 01:18 PM |
Tagged: security, vpn, hola, fud

If you are using the free VPN service from Hola you really need to find a different solution.  Not only has it been plagued with security vulnerabilities, some of which they have addressed and some of which even they admit still exist, you will also unwittingly be providing exit nodes and bandwidth for anonymous surfers.  To add insult to injury, those users pay $20/GB to Hola for use of your bandwidth and you will never see a penny of that.  Hola's ILuminati service allows you to surf the net anonymously by directing their traffic over anyone using the free VPN, or as they refer to it an unblocking service, so not only is your bandwidth being used, you have no idea what traffic is actually exiting through your VPN. 

That is pretty much the exact opposite of a private network and depending on what is being done and how well the traffic is monitored you could well find yourself embroiled in an investigation you had no idea you were opening yourself up to.  Check out  more on this story at The Register.

original.jpg

"Embattled "free" VPN provider Hola is facing criticism over its practice of turning its users into exit nodes in a paid-for anonymisation service which can easily be used for nefarious activities. Hola's software is also claimed to include "unpatchable" vulnerabilities allowing takeover of user machines."

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Source: The Register

Podcast #353 - Seiki Pro 4k Display, More News from Computex, and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 11, 2015 - 12:15 PM |
Tagged: Z97-Pro Gamer, video, valve, tonga, Steam Controller, Seiki Pro, seiki, r9 390x, podcast, MasterCase, hawaii, Fiji, coolermaster, computex, amd, 4k

PC Perspective Podcast #353 - 06/11/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Seiki Pro 4k Display, More News from Computex, 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

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Logitech Announces the G29 and G920 Racing Wheels

Subject: General Tech | June 11, 2015 - 04:00 AM |
Tagged: stainless steel, racing wheel, racing pedals, racing h-gear shifter, logitech, leather, G920, G29, G27, force feedback, aluminum

PC peripherals are a fickle market for companies.  Some products get replaced and updated in a very short period of time, while others remain relatively stable and the product line lasts for years.  Logitech has laid claim to one of the longest serving products in the peripheral field with the G27 racing wheel.  This product has proven to be a popular accessory for those wishing to race on a variety of platforms with a clutch, stick shift, and a force feedback wheel.  For the time it was a rather expensive part that reached the $400 mark at introduction, but has eased down to the mid-$250US range.  Five years is a long time for such a product, but the overall design and quality of the G27 has insured its place as one of the better buys of this decade.

g26_wheel.jpg

The G29 has a unique layout of buttons, d-pad, and a 35 position rotary knob.

Time passes and all things must change.  The G27 has lost some of its luster as compared to some of the latest products from Thrustmaster and Fanatec.  We are now in the midst of a resurgence of racing titles from a variety of sources, some of which are emerging from relatively unknown developers and veteran studios alike.  Assetto Corsa, Project Cars, DiRT Rally, and F1 2015 plus a variety of paid and F2P titles are vying for racer’s attention in this very verdant environment of software titles.  We must also not forget the new marketplace opened up by the PS4 and Xbox One.  Logitech, in their quest to gain the hearts and loyalties of gamers has renewed their push into this marketplace with a variety of Gaming products.  Today we get our first look at the two latest entries from Logitech into the racing wheel world.

Today Logitech is announcing their latest two editions to the high end racing accessory market.  The G29 has been leaked and covered, but the G920 is a new revelation to the world.  The G29 is aimed at the PS3 and PS4 market and will be available for purchase in early July of this year.  The G920 is the Xbox One and PC model that will be released this Fall.  The models differ with their button layout, but they are both based on a lot of the same technology that powers the force feedback experience in modern racing games.

g29_pedal.jpg

The pedals are not as colorful as the G27 (it had red accents), but it looks nearly identical to the older part.  Stainless steel pedals plus a clutch.

The base unit features a dual motor design with helical gears rather than belt driven.  The helical gears should result in less backlash as compared to a belt design which can stretch and distort the feeling of the wheel.  The shaft of the wheel features solid stainless steel bearings so that wear and tear should be kept to a minimum.  The shifters and pedals are also made of stainless steel so that these high-wear parts will work for years without issue.

The wheel itself is made of hand-stitched leather over a plastic and aluminum framing.  The wheel also features a LED light rev indicator that reports to users when to shift at redline.  The clamping system allows the wheel to be used on desks as well as driving stations through either a clamp or bolts.  The three pedal stand is of a decent weight and of course features a clutch pedal that many competing products do not have.

g920_wheel.jpg

The G920 is a bit more minimalist in terms of button layout.  This wheel does not feature the rev/shift LEDs that the G29 has, and this is due to how the consoles address hardware.  Apparently it is just not feasible for the XBox One to do this.

The G29 and G920 differ in their button layout, but both feature the three pedal set and paddle shift setup.  As compared to competing products from Thrustmaster and Fanatec at this price point, there is no ability to swap out wheels with the base unit.  For example both Thrustmaster and Fanatec offer a variety of wheels that can be interchanged with the hub with the gearing and force feedback hardware.  Both of those companies have a great amount of flexibility with accessories that can be swapped in and out.  This of course comes with a significant price.  The competing Thrustmaster set has F1 and other wheels that cost anywhere from $150 to $250, while Fanatec will allow a user to customize their setup for the low, low price of $1,000US plus.

The G29 and G920 include the wheel and three pedal setup as stock at $399.99.  If a user wants to include a 6-speed manual shifter, then it will cost an extra $59.99US.  That particular product is configured as an H pattern shifter, but it is not included in the base package for the G29 or G920.

g920_pedal.jpg

The G920 pedals are essentially identical to the G29 unit.

It is great to see the G29 available in an early July timeframe, but it is slightly disappointing that the G920 will not hit the market until this Fall.  As a die-hard PC gamer it will be a few months before I can get hands on the G920 and put it through its paces.  The racing wheel market is not overly large as most users rely on gamepads, joysticks, and keyboards for their racing needs.  As such, we do not see refreshes on a regular basis as compared to keyboards, mice, and other devices.  It is great to see Logitech addressing this market with new products that bring new features.

Edit: According to the Logitech website, the G29 CAN be used with a PC as long as the users has the Logitech Gaming software installed.

Source: Logitech

Microsoft Releases Windows 10 Build 10130 ISOs

Subject: General Tech | June 11, 2015 - 12:53 AM |
Tagged: windows update, windows 10, microsoft, ISO

Microsoft pushed out the Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 10130 to Fast Ring users late last month, and now the company is releasing downloadable ISOs for the build. Microsoft is not yet ready to make this build available to Slow Ring users, but the company is making a special exception in releasing ISO files of the build (Microsoft usually only makes ISOs available after the build has been pushed to the Slow Ring). Specifically, the ISOs are being posted online in response to certain Fast Ring users getting a 0x80246017 error and not being able to upgrade using Windows Update.

Windows 10 with Start Menu Build 10074.jpg

Build 10130 will eventually come to the Slow Ring, but the company is still working on fixing several bugs including taskbar flyouts not working properly. For now we will have to wait.

However, if you are on the Fast Ring and are unable to use Windows Update, you can download the appropriate ISO for your language and system (32-bit or 64-bit), mount it, and apply the update by running the installer.

Download the Windows 10 Build 10130 ISO from the Windows Insider website.

Source: Microsoft

A week or so as a Witcher

Subject: General Tech | June 10, 2015 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: gaming, The Witcher 3, CD Projekt RED

Techgage has spent a while in the open world of The Witcher 3 and are ready to share their experiences.  The open world is very open, you will find yourself wandering into areas you are not ready for without warning and at 50 hours in the reviewer is still seeing the occasional tutorial pop-up so they are nowhere near finishing.  You may find yourself abandoning a quest to do other side quests in order to become powerful enough to survive the encounter with the boss at the end of the quest you originally intended to do.  That is the heart and soul of a truly open game, which CD Projekt RED seem to have mastered.  Check out their review right here.

Witcher-3-Wild-Hunt-Riding-Off-into-the-Distance_01-680x383.jpg

"This land is deep in darkness, words do little to describe the hell that has befallen. War, pillaging, oppression, greed, politics and scandals. We are beyond the petty battles of good and evil, for all have monsters living within. With the stench of deceit in the air, what this world needs, is a Witcher."

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Source: Techgage

Now that's a Surface you can get excited about

Subject: General Tech | June 10, 2015 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: surface hub, microsoft

The Microsoft Surface that we were promised ages ago is finally being released in the form of the Surface Hub.  Two models will be available for pre-order at the start of July, a $7000 55" model and a $20,000 84" version with a delivery date in September.  The screens can recognize up to 100 touchpoints and are also designed with a stylus in mind so you can use it as a whiteboard or to add comments to your media in real time.  The device sports infrared, imaging and depth sensors which can be used to add to your meetings.  The smaller model is powered by Intel's HD4600 while the larger model contains an NVIDIA Quadro K2200.  Check it out at The Inquirer.

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"MICROSOFT HAS ANNOUNCED that an 84in Surface device will go on sale next month at the bargain price of $20,000. Microsoft announced the Surface Hub 55in and 84in touchscreen all-in-one devices in January, and said today that they will be available to order from 1 July."

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Source: The Inquirer

Need a little high end audio? Check out HiFiMAN's EF100 DAC and Amp

Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2015 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: audio, hifiman, EF100, DAC, tube

Just the look of the EF100 DAC from HiFiMAN gives you the notion that this is not an entry level peice of audio equipment, it is aimed at those who desire near studio quality audio but who lack the means to rent studio time or buy professional level equipment.  The $500 price tag is steep but you get what you pay for, a tube driven amplifier with C-Media CM102s inside with two analogue inputs, a mini-jack and RCA inputs. If this sounds like something you might need in your life check out TechPowerUp's review right here.

ef100.jpg

"HiFiMAN has a reputation for producing great headphone amplifiers. Today, we take a look at their newest do-it-all headphone amplifier & DAC combo with an on-board T-amp. This all-encompassing device features a class A/B headphone amplifier with a tube input stage. Despite all its features, it sells for $499, which is quite impressive."

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Audio Corner

 

Source: techPowerUp

Do you like WINE?

Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2015 - 03:57 PM |
Tagged: wine, linux

There is a tool that will be familiar to regular Linux users but perhaps not to those who have yet to spend time with the open source OS which is called WINE.  It was originally developed to run a limited selection of Windows applications in Linux but has since grown to support 22419 applications as of today.  If you want to try Linux especially if you feel limited by the amount of Steam games supported then you should check out the tutorial at Linux.com.  The hardware requirements for Ubuntu and WINE are very low, this is a perfect opportunity to get some old hardware up and running and give Linux a shot, while still being able to use most of the Windows applications you are used to.

On the other hand if you are familiar with Linux, you knew all this already.

winehq_logo_glass_sm.png

"To overcome this weakness, a compatibility layer called WINE was created. The name originally stood for Wine Is Not an Emulator (because everyone mistook the tool for a Windows emulator). The name is now simply Wine."

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Source: Linux.com

Skype for Web Beta in the US and UK

Subject: General Tech | June 8, 2015 - 01:48 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, skype

If you are on the go and need to make a Skype call from a machine you cannot install software on and your mobile device is out of juice or just not big enough, there is a new beta you can try out in the US and UK.  Head over to Skype.com or web.skype.com and log into your account, install a plug-in for the supported browsers which are IE, Chrome, Safari and Firefox and make your call.  The beta will be coming to everyone soon, a good idea since most usage scenarios would likely involve travellers calling home and you can check out the link to the blog post at The Register.

In addition The Inquirer let us know that the Skype for Windows desktop client will be updated to include the real time translation tool for all users.  The release may possibly coincide with the upcoming release of Windows 10, whether that OS will be ready or not is a different question.

skype-translator-preview-540x334.jpg

"Microsoft has released a beta web browser version of Skype in the US and UK, which will apparently be rolled out worldwide within the next few weeks."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Microsoft Will Support OpenSSH In Windows PowerShell

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2015 - 08:35 PM |
Tagged: windows, remote management, powershell, openssh, mac os x, linux

Citing both leadership and corporate cultural changes within Microsoft, the PowerShell team – led by Team Group Software Engineering Manager Angel Calvo – excitedly announced support for OpenSSH earlier this week. Specifically, the team (finally, after the third such attempt) got the go-ahead from Microsoft's leadership and plans are underway to natively support OpenSSH in PowerShell as well as to contribute to the OpenBSD project on behalf of Microsoft.

Details are scarce, but this is great news for system administrators and a nice extra feature for enthusiasts that like to dabble in those "other" operating systems (which is to say, pretty much every OS except Windows) and remotely access them over a secure SSH connection to perform maintenance or transfer files.

PuTTY and PSCP from Windows to Linux Machine.jpg

Currently, Windows users need to use third party tools to support SSH clients and servers such as PuTTY (and PSCP) and Cygwin (not pictured).

Until now, users have had to rely on third party tools such as PuTTY, Filezilla, and Cygwin among others for their SSH, SCP, and SFTP needs. Accessing Linux machines using PuTTY is fairly straightforward, but going the other direction and trying to set it up so that you can access a Windows machine from a Linux machine over SSH could certainly be made easier and more stable. Native support for OpenSSH would mean both client and server support built into Windows and support for SSH, SFTP, and SCP protocols. 

From the MSDN blog and this twitter exchange, OpenSSH in Windows PowerShell is still in its infancy. It will not be launching with the rest of Windows 10 on July 29th, but with the level of customer interest hopefully pushing the refreshed Microsoft to make this a priority we may see it within the next year or two, and certainly before Windows 11!

Are you ready to get your native SSH on using PowerShell, or will you be sticking with your current third party implementations?

Source: Microsoft

Computex 2015: PowerColor Debuts Devil HDX Sound Card

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 6, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: sound card, powercolor, devil hdx, computex

PowerColor is best known as an add-in board (AIB) partner of AMD who has also branched out into cases and power supplies. This year, they have introduced a new product category: sound cards. The PowerColor Devil HDX connects via PCIe and can take up one or two slots, depending on whether the user wants to install its included (!!) daughterboard with analog (4 x 3.5mm) surround outputs and a microphone input. Without the daughterboard, the card has a quarter-inch headphone jack, two analog RCA jacks for stereo, an RCA SPDIF output, and an optical SPDIF output. The main card is covered in a full EMF shield, because it's inside a computer.

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The card includes switchable OP-AMPs, high quality capacitors, a Cmedia CM8888 audio processor, and a Wolfson WM8741 DAC. This configuration is capable of driving headphones with up to 600 Ohm impedance. The signal-to-noise ratio is a little better on the RCA jacks, because they're not amplified, but not by much. The RCA jacks are rated at 124 dB SNR, while the headphones are rated at 120 dB SNR with the supplied OP-AMPs. PowerColor wrote a driver interface, called “Xear”, which includes ASIO 2.2 support.

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The PowerColor Devil HDX doesn't have a release date but Tom's Hardware, who spoke with the company, said it should be “over the coming months”. They also said it will retail for $159, which is apparently $50 less than their competition.

Source: PowerColor

Valve Steam Controller Pre-order Is Dated... Twice.

Subject: General Tech, Systems | June 5, 2015 - 04:22 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam link, Steam Controller, steam

So, if a company says “a limited quantity of orders will be shipped on October 16th, weeks in advance of our official launch”... does that mean October 16th is its release date? What about its official launch date of November 10th? Also, why am I trying to make sense of time when the subject is Valve?

Either way, the new Steam Controller has been put up for pre-order and given a release date. The input device will sell for $50 USD, $59.99 CDN, or £40 GBP depending obviously on where you are. It also has a finalized design that is very similar to the Xbox layout, with thumbpads replacing the d-pad and right analog stick. Going to the device's Steam page will send you to a gaming retailer to make the pre-order (wat???). I get EB Games, because I'm Canadian, while Americans get GameStop, which is the same company anyway.

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Unlike previous Steam Controller designs, the left thumbpad is shaped like a cross, which I would like to see used as a d-pad because most PC controllers that I've used are either terrible at it, or are horrible at everything else. The video also uses the left thumbpad as a scroll mechanism, but I wonder what other functionality Valve allows because I have yet to find a single mouse driver that can do everything. For instance, Razer's is unable to record mouse scroll (up, down, left, or right) events in macros.

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The rear of the controller is very interesting. The main trigger is analog up to the end, which is a tactile switch. These can be bound to independent actions, although you will obviously need to have the maximum analog command play well with the click command. The given possibility is for first person shooters where you use the analog part to bring up your iron sights while you fire with the click. I could also imagine a racing game where the throttle is analog and clicking at the end activates a boost. There are also buttons in the grips for your ring and pink finger to activate. It also looks like there's shoulder buttons above the triggers, but I can't quite tell. This would basically yield six shoulder buttons, along with all of the face inputs, which is about the max that I could imagine.

The official launch is November 10th, but a pre-release run is shipping on October 16th. The Steam Link is supposedly also available at the same time for the same price, which is basically a streaming target for Steam on the TV.

Source: Valve

Windows 10 Build 10130 Coming to Slow Ring

Subject: General Tech | June 4, 2015 - 07:40 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows 10

Gabe Aul said on Twitter that Microsoft will release Windows 10 Build 10130 to members of the Insider Preview Slow Ring. He did not give a date, but noted that just one blocking fix is preventing the release. This build was released to Fast Ring users last week and had three known issues. Since then, two were patched via Windows Update, leaving just “Flyouts from Taskbar fail to fly out.” Presumably, this is the issue that they are hoping to fix before pushing the build to Slow.

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When the update is released to Slow Ring, it is accompanied by ISOs that can be used to clean-install a PC up to that point. While this delay is to force a segment of users to test the in-place upgrade functionality, I expect this also keeps enterprise evaluators on builds that are more polished. Installing Windows from an ISO might not convey the quality-difference of any two neighboring builds like selecting branches in Windows Update would subconsciously portray.

Microsoft seems to be at the merge and polish stage of Windows 10 development. Builds should start feeling more clean than new as the days roll forward toward July 29th. Major new features are probably going to be done in branches for later releases, similar to what we would consider “service packs”. That's just my assumptions, though.