Creative's talented wireless speaker/micrphone/recharger beer can thing

Subject: General Tech | March 28, 2014 - 07:28 PM |
Tagged: audio, Creative, Sound Blaster AXX 200, wireless, speaker, microphone, battery charger

The Creative Sound Blaster AXX 200 is more that just a wireless speaker for your PC or smartphone, it is also a voice recorder, a hands free microphone for your smartphone and a battery charger.  The Bluetooth speaker function can be set to stereo or 7.1 channel surround and will accept a signal from up to 10' away.  The microphone feature has a similar range and can capture audio in a 360 degree area and [H]ard|OCP were also able to make a handsfree call using only the AXX 200.  The USB plugs make it into a charging station as well, handy considering how integrated it is with your phone.

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"With its unusual vertical, compact design, Creative's new flagship stereo speaker system features touch controls and a multitude of wired and wireless connectivity options for your mobile phone, tablet, Mac, and PC. Today, we will tell you if there is enough room in the "mix" for great sound as well."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Now Valve Doesn't Have Michael Abrash OR Jeri Ellsworth

Subject: General Tech, Displays | March 28, 2014 - 04:21 PM |
Tagged: VR, valve, Oculus, facebook

Today, Oculus VR issued a statement which claims that Michael Abrash has joined their ranks as Chief Scientist. Abrash was hired by Valve in 2011 where he led, and apparently came up with the idea for, their wearable computing initiatives. For a time, he and Jeri Ellsworth were conducting similar projects until she, and many others, were forced out of the company for undisclosed reasons (she was allowed to take her project with her which ultimately became CastAR). While I have yet to see an official announcement claim that Abrash has left Valve, I have serious doubts that he would be employed in both places for any reasonable period of time. With both gone, I wonder about Valve's wearable initaitive going forward.

Abrash at Steam Dev Days

This press statement comes just three days after Facebook announced "definitive" plans to acquire Oculus VR for an equivalent of $2 billion USD (it is twice the company Instragram was). Apparently, the financial stability of Facebook (... deep breath before continuing...) was the catalyst for this decision. VR research is expensive. Abrash is now comfortable working with them, gleefully expending R&D funds, advancing the project without sinking the ship.

And then there's Valve.

On last night's This Week in Computer Hardware (#260), Patrick Norton and I were discussing the Oculus VR acquisition. He claimed that he had serious doubts about whether Valve ever intended to ship a product. So far, the only product available that uses Valve's research is the Oculus Rift DK2. Honestly, while I have not really thought about it until now, it would not be surprising for Valve to contribute to the PC platform itself.

And, hey, at least someone is not afraid of Facebook's ownership.

Fancy a preview of the Samsung Galaxy S5?

Subject: General Tech | March 28, 2014 - 02:48 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy s5

Some lucky Aussies at The Register sweet talked their way into a Samsung Galaxy S5 and have put together a brief preview for your reading pleasure.  There are many new features you will someday be able to use, even if El Reg couldn't quite test them yet.   There is a battery saving mode which should help road warriors and a fingerprint sensor which is touted to work with NFC to turn your S5 into a replacement for your credit cards so you don't have to carry them with you.  There is more to see in the article, including the Galaxy Gear Neo smartwatch.

galaxy_s5_copper.jpg

"This time around Samsung is keen on its battery-saving mode, IP67 rating and, once again, fitness features. Samsung Australia personnel swore blind all of those features were designed for an “Aussie lifestyle”. Because down here we all go to the beach every day, a supposition only slightly less believable than the notion that an S5 design meeting considered how to optimise sales in a nation of 23 million."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Podcast #293 - NVIDIA Titan-Z, ASUS ROG Poseidon 780, News from OculusVR and more!

Subject: General Tech | March 27, 2014 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: W9100, video, titan z, poseidon 780, podcast, Oculus, nvidia, GTC, GDC

PC Perspective Podcast #293 - 03/27/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the NVIDIA Titan-Z, ASUS ROG Poseidon 780, News from OculusVR 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

 
This podcast is brought to you by Coolermaster, and the CM Storm Pulse-R Gaming Headset!
 
Program length: 1:19:03
  1. Week in Review:
    1. 0:10:45 Microsoft's DirectX 12 (Live Blog)
  2. 0:37:07 This podcast is brought to you by Coolermaster, and the CM Storm Pulse-R Gaming Headset
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Josh: Certainly not a Skype Connection to the Studio
  5. Closing/outro

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

 

Connecting Pascal's triangle with the Maxwell Equations

Subject: General Tech | March 27, 2014 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: pascal, nvlink, nvidia, maxwell, jen-hsun huang, GTC

Before we get to see Volta in action NVIDIA is taking a half step and releasing the Pascal architecture which will use Maxwell-like Streaming Multiprocessors and will introduce stacked or 3D memory which will reside on the same substrate as the GPU.  Jen-Hsun claimed this new type of memory will vastly increase the bandwidth available, provide two and a half times the capacity and be four times as energy efficient at the same time.  Along with the 3D memory announcement was the revealing of NVLink, an alternative interconnect which he claims will offer 5-12 times the bandwidth of PCIe and will be utilized by HPC systems.  From his announcement that NVLink will feature eight 20Gbps lanes per block or as NVIDIA is calling them, bricks, which The Tech Report used to make a quick calculation and came up with an aggregate bandwidth of a brick of around 20GB/s.  Read on to see what else was revealed.

pascal-scaling.jpg

"Today during his opening keynote at the Nvidia GPU Technology Conference, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang offered an update to Nvidia's GPU roadmap. The big reveal was about a GPU code-named Pascal, which will be a generation beyond the still-being-introduced Maxwell architecture in the firm's plans."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

AIDA64 Version 4.30 Released

Subject: General Tech | March 27, 2014 - 12:11 AM |
Tagged: hashing benchmarks, GPGPU performance, FinalWire, aida64

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Courtesy of FinalWire

Today, FinalWire Ltd. announced the release of version 4.30 of their diagnostic and benchmarking tool, AIDA64. This new version updates their Extreme Edition and Business Edition of the software.

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Courtesy of FinalWire

The latest version of AIDA64 has been updated to work with the latest versions of the Windows Desktop and Server-based OSes, Windows 8.1 Update 1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Update 1. Further, FinalWire integrated support for AMD's Mantle technology as well as support for Advanced Vector Extensions 2 (AVX2), Fused Multiply-Add (FMA) instructions, and AES-NI hardware acceleration integrated into the upcoming Intel Broadwell-based processor series.

New features include:

  • Microsoft Windows 8.1 Update 1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Update 1 support
  • OpenCL GPGPU SHA-1 hash benchmark
  • CUDA 6.0 support
  • Socket AM1 motherboards support
  • Improved support for Intel “Broadwell” CPU
  • Preliminary support for AMD “Carrizo” and “Toronto” APUs
  • Preliminary support for Intel “Skylake”, “Cherry Trail”, “Denverton” CPUs
  • Crucial M550 and Intel 730 SSD support
  • GPU details for AMD Radeon R7 265
  • GPU details for nVIDIA GeForce GTX 745, GeForce 800 Series

Software updates new to this release (since AIDA64 v4.00):

  • OpenCL GPGPU Benchmark Suite
  • AMD Mantle graphics accelerator diagnostics
  • Multi-threaded memory stress test with SSE, SSE2, AVX, AVX2, FMA, BMI and BMI2 acceleration
  • Optimized 64-bit benchmarks for AMD “Kaveri”, “Bald Eagle”, “Mullins”, “Beema” APUs
  • Optimized 64-bit benchmarks for Intel Atom C2000 “Avoton” and “Rangeley” SoC
  • Optimized 64-bit benchmarks for Intel “Bay Trail” desktop, mobile and tablet SoC
  • Full support for the upcoming Intel “Haswell Refresh” platform with Intel “Wildcat Point” PCH
  • Razer SwitchBlade LCD support
  • Preliminary support for Intel Quark X1000 “Clanton” SoC
  • Improved support for OpenCL 2.0
  • Support for VirtualBox v4.3 and VMware Workstation v10
  • OCZ Vector 150, OCZ Vertex 460, Samsung XP941 SSD support
  • GPU details for AMD Radeon R5, R7, R9 Series
  • GPU details for nVIDIA GeForce 700 Series
Source: FinalWire

GTC 2014: NVIDIA Awards Startup Map-D $100,000 In Early Stage Challenge

Subject: General Tech | March 26, 2014 - 08:49 PM |
Tagged: remote graphics, nvidia, GTC 2014, gpgpu, emerging companies summit, ecs 2014, cloud computing

NVIDIA started the Emerging Companies Summit six years ago, and since then the event has grown in size and scope to identify and support those technology companies tha leverage (or plan to leverage) GPGPU computing to deliver innovative products. The ECS continues to be a platform for new startups to showcase their work at the annual GPU Technology Conference. NVIDIA provides support in the form of legal, developmental, and co-marketing to the companies featured at ECS.

GTC 2014 ECS GPGPU Technologies.jpg

There was an interesting twist this year though in the form of the Early Start Challenge. This is a new aspect to ECS in addition to the ‘One to Watch’ award. I attended the Emerging Companies Summit again this year and managed to snag some photos and participate in the Early Start Challenge (disclosure: i voted for Audiostream TV).

GTC 2014 ECS Early Start Challenge Companies.jpg

The 12 Early Start Challenge contestants take the stage at once to await the vote tally.

During the challenge, 12 selected startup companies were each given eight minutes on stage to pitch their company and why their innovations were deserving of the $100,000 grand prize. The on stage time was divided into a four minute presentation and a four minute Q&A session with the panel of judges (this year the audience was not part of the Q&A session at ECS unlike last year due to time constraints).

After all 12 companies had their chance on stage, the panel of judges and the audience submitted their votes for the most innovative startup. The panel of judges included:

  • Scott Budman Business & Technology Reporter, NBC
  • Jeff Herbst Vice President of Business Development, NVIDIA
  • Jens Hortsmann Executive Producer & Managing Partner, Crestlight Venture Productions
  • Pat Moorhead President & Principal Analyst, Moor Insights & Strategy
  • Bill Reichert Managing Director, Garage Technology Ventures

The companies participating in the challenge include Okam Studio, MyCloud3D, Global Valuation, Brytlyt, Clarifai, Aerys, oMobio, ShiVa Technologies, IGI Technologies, Map-D, Scalable Graphics, and AudioStream TV. The companies are involved in machine learning, deep neural networks, computer vision, remote graphics, real time visualization, gaming, and big data analytics.

After all the votes were tallied, Map-D was revealed to be the winner and received a check for $100,000 from NVIDIA Vice President of Business Development Jeff Herbst.

Map-D Wins ECS Early Start Challenge.jpg

Jeff Herbst awarding Map-D's CEO with the Early Start Challenge grand prize check. From left to right: Scott Budman, Jeff Herbst, and Thomas Graham.

Map-D is a company that specializes in a scaleable in-memory GPU database that promises millisecond queries directly from GPU memory (with GPU memory bandwidth being the bottleneck) and very fast database inserts. The company is working with Facebook and PayPal to analyze data. In the case of Facebook, Map-D is being used to analyze status updates in real time to identify malicious behavior. The software can be scaled across eight NVIDIA Tesla cards to analyze a billion Twitter tweets in real time.

It is specialized software, but extremely useful within its niche. Hopefully the company puts the prize money to good use in furthering its GPGPU endeavors. Although there was only a single grand prize winner, I found all the presentations interesting and look forward to seeing where they go from here.

Read more about the Emerging Companies Summit (from last year) and keep track of new GTC 2014 articles by following the GTC 2014 tag @ PC Perspective.

Source: PC

AMD FirePro W9100 Announced: Doing Work in Hawaii.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 26, 2014 - 05:43 PM |
Tagged: amd, firepro, W9100

The AMD FirePro W9100 has been announced, bringing the Hawaii architecture to non-gaming markets. First seen in the Radeon R9 series of graphics cards, it has the capacity for 5 TeraFLOPs of single-precision (32-bit) performance and 2 TeraFLOPs of double-precision (64-bit). The card also has 16GB of GDDR5 memory to support it. From the raw numbers, this is slightly more capacity than either the Titan Black or Quadro K6000 in all categories. It will also support six 4K monitors (or three at 60Hz), per card. AMD supports up to four W9100 cards in a single system.

amd-firepro-w9100.jpg

Professional users can be looking for several things in their graphics cards: compute performance (either directly or through licensed software such as Photoshop, Premiere, Blender, Maya, and so forth), several high-resolution monitors (or digital signage units), and/or a lot of graphics performance. The W9100 is basically the top of the stack which covers all three of these requirements.

amd-firepro-w9100-2.jpg

AMD also announced a system branding initiative called, "AMD FirePro Ultra Workstation". They currently have five launch partners, Supermicro, Boxx, Tarox, Silverdraft, and Versatile Distribution Services, which will have workstations available under this program. The list of components for a "Recommend" certification is: two eight-core 2.6 GHz CPUs, 32GB of RAM, four PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, a 1500W Platinum PSU, and a case with nine expansion slots (to allow four W9100 GPUs along with one SSD or SDI interface card).

amd-firepro-w9100-3.jpg

Also, while the company has heavily discussed OpenCL in their slide deck, they have not mentioned specific versions. As such, I will assume that the FirePro W9100 supports OpenCL 1.2, like the R9-series, and not OpenCL 2.0 which was ratified back in November. This is still a higher conformance level than NVIDIA, which is at OpenCL 1.1.

Currently no word about pricing or availability.

Source: AMD

The Rift between Oculus, Kickstarter and you

Subject: General Tech | March 26, 2014 - 02:48 PM |
Tagged: oculus rift, Kickstarter, john carmack, facebook

You've heard by now that Facebook has purchased Oculus and you likely have an opinion on the matter.  There are quite a few issues this sale raises for the technologically inclined.  For the Kickstarter backers, the question of the propriety of Vulture Capitalists benefiting monetarily from a project which began in part because of their donation made on Kickstarter; which still did net them a device.  For those hoping that Oculus was going to be a project designed and lead by Palmer Luckey and involving John Carmack with little oversight or pressure from a company that wants an immediate return on their investment.  For some the simple involvment of Facebook is enough to sour the entire deal regardless of any other factors.

KitGuru offers some possible benefits that could come of this deal; Facebook cannot afford to slow development as competitors such as castAR will soon arrive, nor can they really push Carmack around without risking his involvement.  Before you start screaming take a moment to think about everything this deal involves and then express your opinion ... after all you don't get reality that is much more virtual than Facebook.

oculus.jpg

"I know guys. I know. I’m mad too. I’m sad, disappointed, even betrayed, but these are all things I’m feeling and I bet you are too. We’re having an emotional reaction to two companies worth multiple billions of dollars doing a business deal and though I can’t help but wish it hadn’t happened, I know that if I look at it logically, it makes sense for everyone."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: KitGuru

NVIDIA Launches Jetson TK1 Mobile CUDA Development Platform

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | March 25, 2014 - 09:34 PM |
Tagged: GTC 2014, tegra k1, nvidia, CUDA, kepler, jetson tk1, development

NVIDIA recently unified its desktop and mobile GPU lineups by moving to a Kepler-based GPU in its latest Tegra K1 mobile SoC. The move to the Kepler architecture has simplified development and enabled the CUDA programming model to run on mobile devices. One of the main points of the opening keynote earlier today was ‘CUDA everywhere,’ and NVIDIA has officially accomplished that goal by having CUDA compatible hardware from servers to desktops to tablets and embedded devices.

Speaking of embedded devices, NVIDIA showed off a new development board called the Jetson TK1. This tiny new board features a NVIDIA Tegra K1 SoC at its heart along with 2GB RAM and 16GB eMMC storage. The Jetson TK1 supports a plethora of IO options including an internal expansion port (GPIO compatible), SATA, one half-mini PCI-e slot, serial, USB 3.0, micro USB, Gigabit Ethernet, analog audio, and HDMI video outputs.

NVIDIA Jetson TK1 Mobile CUDA Development Board.jpg

Of course the Tegra K1 part is a quad core (4+1) ARM CPU and a Kepler-based GPU with 192 CUDA cores. The SoC is rated at 326 GFLOPS which enables some interesting compute workloads including machine vision.

Computer Vision On NVIDIA CUDA.jpg

In fact, Audi has been utilizing the Jetson TK1 development board to power its self-driving prototype car (more on that soon). Other intended uses for the new development board include robotics, medical devices, security systems, and perhaps low power compute clusters (such as an improved Pedraforca system).It can also be used as a simple desktop platform for testing and developing mobile applications for other Tegra K1 powered devices, of course.

NVIDIA VisionWorks GTC 2014.jpg

Beyond the hardware, the Jetson TK1 comes with the CUDA toolkit, OpenGL 4.4 driver, and NVIDIA VisionWorks SDK which includes programming libraries and sample code for getting machine vision applications running on the Tegra K1 SoC.

The Jetson TK1 is available for pre-order now at $192 and is slated to begin shipping in April. Interested developers can find more information on the NVIDIA developer website.

 

GTC 2014: NVIDIA Shows Off New Dual GK110 GPU GTX TITAN Z Graphics Card

Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2014 - 05:46 PM |
Tagged: gtx titan z, gtx titan, GTC 2014, CUDA

During the opening keynote, NVIDIA showed off several pieces of hardware that will be available soon. On the desktop and workstation side of things, researchers (and consumers chasing the ultra high end) have the new GTX Titan Z to look forward to. This new graphics card is a dual GK110 GPU monster that offers up 8 TeraFLOPS of number crunching performance for an equally impressive $2,999 price tag.

DSC01411.JPG

Specifically, the GTX TITAN Z is a triple slot graphics card that marries two full GK110 (big Kepler) GPUs for a total of 5,760 CUDA cores, 448 TMUs, and 96 ROPs with 12GB of GDDR5 memory on a 384-bit bus (6GB on a 384-bit bus per GPU). NVIDIA has yet to release clockspeeds, but the two GPUs will run at the same clocks with a dynamic power balancing feature. Four the truly adventurous, it appears possible to SLI two GTX Titan Z cards using the single SLI connector. Display outputs include two DVI, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort connector.

NVIDIA is cooling the card using a single fan and two vapor chambers. Air is drawn inwards and exhausted out of the front exhaust vents.

DSC01415.JPG

In short, the GTX Titan Z is NVIDIA's new number crunching king and should find its way into servers and workstations running big data analytics and simulations. Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing someone slap two of them into a gaming PC and watching the screen catch on fire (not really).

What do you think about the newest dual GPU flagship?

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for further GTC 2014 coverage!

NVIDIA SHIELD: New Features and Promotional Price Cut

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | March 25, 2014 - 03:01 PM |
Tagged: shield, nvidia

The SHIELD from NVIDIA is getting a software update which advances GameStream, TegraZone, and the Android OS, itself, to KitKat. Personally, the GameStream enhancements seem most notable as it now allows users to access their home PC's gaming content outside of the home, as if it were a cloud server (but some other parts were interesting, too). Also, from now until the end of April, NVIDIA has temporarily cut the price down to $199.

nvidia-shield-gamestream-01.jpg

Going into more detail: GameStream, now out of Beta, will stream games which are rendered on your gaming PC to your SHIELD. Typically, we have seen this through "cloud" services, such as OnLive and GaiKai, which allow access to a set of games that run on their servers (with varying license models). The fear with these services is the lack of ownership, but the advantage is that the slave device just needs enough power to decode an HD video stream.

nvidia-shield-gamestream-02.jpg

In NVIDIA's case, the user owns both server (their standard NVIDIA-powered gaming PC, which can now be a laptop) and target device (the SHIELD). This technology was once limited to your own network (which definitely has its uses, especially for the SHIELD as a home theater device) but now can also be exposed over the internet. For this technology, NVIDIA recommends 5 megabit upload and download speeds - which is still a lot of upload bandwidth, even for 2014. In terms of performance, NVIDIA believes that it should live up to expectations set by their GRID. I do not have any experience with this, but others on the conference call took it as good news.

As for content, NVIDIA has expanded the number of supported titles to over a hundred, including new entries: Assassin's Creed IV, Batman: Arkham Origins, Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Daylight, Titanfall, and Dark Souls II. They also claim that users can add other apps which are not officially supported, Halo 2: Vista was mentioned as an example, for streaming. FPS and Bitrate can now be set by the user. A bluetooth mouse and keyboard can also be paired to SHIELD for that input type through GameStream.

nvidia-shield-checkbox.jpg

Yeah, I don't like checkbox comparisons either. It's just a summary.

A new TegraZone was also briefly mentioned. Its main upgrade was apparently its library interface. There has also been a number of PC titles ported to Android recently, such as Mount and Blade: Warband.

The update is available now and the $199 promotion will last until the end of April.

Source: NVIDIA

Valve Ports Portal To NVIDIA Shield Gaming Handheld

Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2014 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: undefined

During the opening keynote of NVIDIA's GTC 2014 conference, company CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced that Valve had ported the ever-popular "Portal" game to the NVIDIA SHIELD handheld gaming platform.

The game appeared to run smoothly on the portable device, and is a worthy addition to the catalog of local games that can be run on the SHIELD.

DSC01456.JPG

Additionally, while the cake may still be a lie, portable gaming systems apparently are not as Jen-Hsun Huang revealed that all GTC attendees will be getting a free SHIELD.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information on all the opening keynote announcements and their implications for the future of computing!

GPU Technology Conference 2014 resources:

Keep up with GTC 2014 throughout the week by following the NVIDIA blog (blogs.nvidia.com) and the GTC tag on PC Perspective!

Ruinous Text Format; watch those attachments!

Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2014 - 12:59 PM |
Tagged: rtf, microsoft, outlook, word, fud

Users of Microsoft Word 2003 to the current version on PC or the 2011 version for Mac, which means any version of Outlook or other Microsoft application in which Word is the default text editor may want to avoid RTF attachments for the next while.  There is an exploit in the wild which could allow a nefariously modified RTF file to give an attacker access to the machine which it was opened on at the same level as the user.  This does mean that those who follow the advice of most Windows admins and do not log in to an administrator level account for day to day work need not worry overly but those who ignore the advice may find themselves compromised.  As The Register points out, just previewing the attachment in Outlook is enough to trigger a possible infection.

computer-virus_thumb.jpg

"Microsoft has warned its Word software is vulnerable to a newly discovered dangerous bug – which is being exploited right now in "limited, targeted attacks" in the wild. There is no patch available at this time."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

For when you need a keyboard that stands out

Subject: General Tech | March 24, 2014 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: input, ducky, Cherry MX

If you are not satisfied with a plain keyboard that doesn't stand out in a crowd and also care about the quality of the board then the Ducky Shine 3 is a keyboard you should be aware of.  Your choice of Cherry MX switches to ensure a proper mechanical feel to your key presses and an array of LED lights will make this keyboard stand out from across the room.  As you can see from the picture, this isn't just backlit keys, a glowing snake on the space bar and lights on every key make this board rather unique.  If flashy keyboards are your thing, check out Benchmark Reviews article here.

unnamed.png

"The Ducky Shine Series, arguably one of the best mechanical keyboards on the market, has released the Ducky Shine 3 DK9008S3. Often referred to as the YOTS or “Year of the Snake”, the 2013 Shine 3 is the offshoot descendant of the 2012 Year of the Dragon Shine 2 DK9087 (a tenkeyless version in the shine series). This model, like it’s predecessor, comes with a wide array of switch options including Cherry MX Black, Blue, Brown, and Red, and a wide array of LED color options including: Blue, Red, Green, White, Magenta, and Orange."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

GDC wasn't just about DirectX; OpenGL was also a hot topic

Subject: General Tech | March 24, 2014 - 12:26 PM |
Tagged: opengl, nvidia, gdc 14, GDC, amd, Intel

DX12 and its Mantle-like qualities garnered the most interest from gamers at GDC but an odd trio of companies were also pushing a different API.  OpenGL has been around for over 20 years and has waged a long war against Direct3D, a war which may be intensifying again.  Representatives from Intel, AMD and NVIDIA all took to the stage to praise the new OpenGL standard, suggesting that with a tweaked implementation of OpenGL developers could expect to see performance increases between 7 to 15 times.  The Inquirer has embedded an hour long video in their story, check it out to learn more.

slide-1-638.jpg

"CHIP DESIGNERS AMD, Intel and Nvidia teamed up to tout the advantages of the OpenGL multi-platform application programming interface (API) at this year's Game Developers Conference (GDC)."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

GDC 14: NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel Discuss OpenGL Speed-ups

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 22, 2014 - 01:41 AM |
Tagged: opengl, nvidia, Intel, gdc 14, GDC, amd

So, for all the discussion about DirectX 12, the three main desktop GPU vendors, NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel, want to tell OpenGL developers how to tune their applications. Using OpenGL 4.2 and a few cross-vendor extensions, because OpenGL is all about its extensions, a handful of known tricks can reduce driver overhead up to ten-fold and increase performance up to fifteen-fold. The talk is very graphics developer-centric, but it basically describes a series of tricks known to accomplish feats similar to what Mantle and DirectX 12 suggest.

opengl_logo.jpg

The 130-slide presentation is broken into a few sections, each GPU vendor getting a decent chunk of time. On occasion, they would mention which implementation fairs better with one function call. The main point that they wanted to drive home (since they clearly repeated the slide three times with three different fonts) is that none of this requires a new API. Everything exists and can be implemented right now. The real trick is to know how to not poke the graphics library in the wrong way.

The page also hosts a keynote from the recent Steam Dev Days.

That said, an advantage that I expect from DirectX 12 and Mantle is reduced driver complexity. Since the processors have settled into standards, I expect that drivers will not need to do as much unless the library demands it for legacy reasons. I am not sure how extending OpenGL will affect that benefit, as opposed to just isolating the legacy and building on a solid foundation, but I wonder if these extensions could be just as easy to maintain and optimize. Maybe it is.

Either way, the performance figures do not lie.

Source: NVIDIA

Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 (DK2) Are $350, Expected July

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Shows and Expos | March 22, 2014 - 01:04 AM |
Tagged: oculus rift, Oculus, gdc 14, GDC

Last month, we published a news piece stating that Oculus Rift production has been suspended as "certain components" were unavailable. At the time, the company said they are looking for alternate suppliers but do not know how long that will take. The speculation was that the company was simply readying a new version and did not want to cannibalize their sales.

This week, they announced a new version which is available for pre-order and expected to ship in July.

DK2, as it is called, integrates a pair of 960x1080 OLED displays (correction, March 22nd @ 3:15pm: It is technically a single 1080p display that is divided per eye) for higher resolution and lower persistence. Citing Valve's VR research, they claim that the low persistence will reduce motion blur as your eye blends neighboring frames together. In this design, it flickers the image for a short period before going black, and does this at a high enough rate keep your eye fed with light. The higher resolution also prevents the "screen door effect" complained about by the first release. Like their "Crystal Cove" prototype, it also uses an external camera to reduce latency in detecting your movement. All of these should combine to less motion sickness.

I would expect that VR has a long road ahead of it before it becomes a commercial product for the general population, though. There are many legitimate concerns about leaving your users trapped in a sensory deprivation apparatus when Kinect could not even go a couple of days without someone pretending to play volleyball and wrecking their TV with ceiling fan fragments. Still, this company seems to be doing it intelligently: keep afloat on developers and lead users as you work through your prototypes. It is cool, even if it will get significantly better, and people will support its research while getting the best at the time.

DK2 is available for pre-order for $350 and is expected to ship in July.

Source: Oculus

NVIDIA GPUs pre-Fermi Are End of Life After 340.xx Drivers

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 22, 2014 - 12:43 AM |
Tagged: nvidia

NVIDIA's Release 340.xx GPU drivers for Windows will be the last to contain "enhancements and optimizations" for users with video cards based on architectures before Fermi. While NVIDIA will provided some extended support for 340.xx (and earlier) drivers until April 1st, 2016, they will not be able to install Release 343.xx (or later) drivers. Release 343 will only support Fermi, Kepler, and Maxwell-based GPUs.

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The company has a large table on their CustHelp website filled with product models that are pining for the fjords. In short, if the model is 400-series or higher (except the GeForce 405) then it is still fully supported. If you do have the GeForce 405, or anything 300-series and prior, then GeForce Release 340.xx drivers will be the end of the line for you.

As for speculation, Fermi was the first modern GPU architecture for NVIDIA. It transitioned to standards-based (IEEE 754, etc.) data structures, introduced L1 and L2 cache, and so forth. From our DirectX 12 live blog, we also noticed that the new graphics API will, likewise, begin support at Fermi. It feels to me that NVIDIA, like Microsoft, wants to shed the transition period and work on developing a platform built around that baseline.

Source: NVIDIA

How scary is the internet of things?

Subject: General Tech | March 21, 2014 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: internet of things

Call it ubiquitous computing, the internet of things or whichever moniker you prefer but what you are describing remains the same, the network of internet enabled sensors, identifiers and broadcasters which now surround us.  For many this is not something they think about but for the technologically inclined it is a topic of much interest with many concerns to address of which the prime suspect is privacy.  The Inquirer has been hosting discussions on this topic and the possibilities that are created by the massive growth of the internet of things.  Check out the debate on how this will impact privacy here.

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"THE INTERNET OF THINGS is a term that has been around for about 15 years, with its origins in barcodes and radio frequency identity (RFID) tags, and evolving via near-field communications (NFC) and QR codes. But it's the rise of smart devices and wearable technology, which has only started to take off in the past few years, that will see the Internet of Things come into its own."

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Source: The Inquirer