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Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2014 - 03:08 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, BF4, Mantle, amd
The new Mantle API has arrived for BF4, with quite a few other games waiting in the wings which will also take advantage of this DirectX competitor. The results that [H]ard|OCP saw were not as impressive as what the marketing would have had you believe but it still offers an improvement over DirectX in some cases. With high end hardware running at EyeFinity resolutions [H] did not see much improvement, the GTX 780 Ti took the performance crown. However on a single monitor with a R9 290 or 280X they saw very significant performance increases which left both the GTX 780 and 770 lagging behind in performance. Mantle will not yet allow mid range GPUs to act like high end cards but there is promise in this new API.
"AMD's Mantle API has been with us for just over a month now, and we have strapped a variety of video cards to the test bench to see what real world differences are being delivered to gamers within Battlefield 4. We will compare D3D11, Mantle, on various GPUs, looking at highest playable settings, frame times, and discuss our experiences."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Hands On - Wolfenstein: The New Order @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Battling with Blizzard's new WoW expansion and Diablo revamp @ The Register
- Wot I Think: Strider @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Beta tasting: The Elder Scrolls Online preview @ The Register
- Thief Video Card Performance Preview @ [H]ard|OCP
- Wot I Think: Thief @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- OnLive Lives Again: New Feature Syncs With Steam Games @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Gabe Newell Dishes On Source 2, HL3 VR, More In AMA @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch PlayStation 3 @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2014 - 02:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: linux, security
It would seem that there is a fairly problematic bug in the way that GnuTLS library applies encryption for many Linux users. According to the story on The Inquirer this bug could allow an improperly setup certificate to be reported as valid and while your connection states it is secure it will not in fact be encrypted. Red Hat has already issued a patch to solve this problem but the vulnerability would apply to any distro which uses the GnuTLS library. It would be wise to follow the link from the story to locate a patch for your system before attackers start using it in the wild.
"THOUSANDS OF LINUX USERS might be vulnerable to hackers after it emerged that a significant certificate checking bug exists in a low level library.
The problem stems from the GnuTLS library that provides an API to enable SSL, TLS and DTLS encryption protocols, as used particularly by web servers."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft's Attempt To Convert Users From Windows XP Backfires @ Slashdot
- How to Install the LTSI-3.10 Kernel on Raspberry Pi and MinnowBoard @ Linux.com
- HTC One 2 release date, specs, rumours and price @ The Inquirer
- New 4G router pitched at biz bods sick to death of titsup networks @ The Register
- ASUS USB-AC56 & PCE-AC68 Dual-Band Wireless AC Adapters Review @HiTech Legion
Subject: General Tech | March 4, 2014 - 03:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, surroundweb
Microsoft is working on a new way to display the web to you, projecting it onto your walls. They make use of Kinect to map your walls so that they can pick where to beam your content. According to what Microsoft told The Inquirer, they can manage to project sites at 30 frames per second with up to 25 screens and up to a 1440x720 resolution. They make a nod to security concerns, it seems that the information about what your room contains will not be sent back to the website you are viewing.
"Called Surroundweb, the software is peddled by Microsoft as an "immersive room experience". However, as far as we can see, it's simply a means of projecting different parts of a web page on different surfaces around a room."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft adds nag screens as Windows XP End of Life looms Chris Merriman @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft integrates Skype with Outlook.com @ The Inquirer
- How to Use htaccess to Run Multiple Drupal 7 Websites on Your Cheapo Hosting Account @ Linux.com
- Radeon Gallium3D Performance Gets Close To Catalyst On Ubuntu 14.04 @ Phoronix
- In spinning rust we TRUST: HGST slips out screamingly fast ... HDD @ The Register
- New Attack Hijacks DNS Traffic From 300,000 Routers @ Slashdot
- Exclusive interview with Tobias Brinkman from OCZ @ Kitguru
- Antec USA & EU Joint Giveaway @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | March 2, 2014 - 10:34 PM | Scott Michaud
According to Kara Swisher at Re/code, two of Microsoft's Executive Vice Presidents are leaving the company. Tony Bates, EVP of Business Development and Evangelism, and Tami Reller, EVP of Marketing, are expected to have their departure announced to the public on Tuesday. Tony Bates joined the company during the Skype acquisition in 2011, while Tami Reller has been with Microsoft since it acquired Great Plains Software in 2001. While Bates is expected to depart immediately, Reller is expected to remain for a while and "help with the transition".
Video Credit: Dilbert Youtube Channel
Seeing the Microsoft reorganization, it should be quite obvious how expensive they can become. They are struggling to find a path for their products that their customers actually want to go down. At the same time, people seem to be flying in every direction. I just wonder if these are the final movements.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 2, 2014 - 05:20 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: passive cooling, maxwell, gtx 750 ti
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti is fast but also power efficient, enough-so that Ryan found it a worthwhile upgrade for cheap desktops with cheap power supplies that were never intended for discrete graphics. Of course, this recommendation is about making the best of what you got; better options probably exist if you are building a PC (or getting one built by a friend or a computer store).
Image Credit: Tom's Hardware
Tom's Hardware went another route: make it fanless.
After wrecking a passively-cooled Radeon HD 7750, which is probably a crime in Texas, they clamped it on to the Maxwell-based GTX 750 Ti. While the cooler was designed for good airflow, they decided to leave it in a completely-enclosed case without fans. Under load, the card reached 80 C within about twenty minutes. The driver backed off performance slightly, 1-3% depending on your frame of reference, but was able to maintain that target temperature.
Now, if only it accepted SLi, this person might be happy.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | March 2, 2014 - 02:29 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Tamesh, Kabini, fit-PC4, compulab, amd
Passively cooled PCs are an interesting niche, often associated with the need for silence. Be it audio recording or home theater appliances, some situations are just not well suited to having a whirring fan.
Recently announced is the fit-PC4 is a fanless system, fourth in its lineage. This time the system is using AMD for its CPU and GPU. Two models are available, separated into "Pro" and "Value". Its specifications are broken down into the table below.
|fit-PC4 Pro||fit-PC4 Value|
|Processor||AMD GX-420CA (25W TDP, Kabini)||AMD A4-1250 APU (8W TDP, Temash)|
|- CPU||Quad-core (Jaguar-based) @ 2.0 GHz||Dual-core (Jaguar-based) @ 1.0 GHz|
|- GPU||Radeon HD 8400E||Radeon HD 8210|
|RAM||Up to 16GB (2 DIMM)|
|Storage||2.5" HDD/SSD + mSATA + microSD|
2x HDMI 1.4a (1920x1200 max) with CEC support
S/PDIF, line-out, mic-in (I assume 3.5mm)
2x Gigabit Ethernet
mini-PCIe slot for cellular modem
2x USB 3.0 and 6x USB 2.0
|Bluetooth||4.0||3.0 + HS|
|Dimensions||16cm x 19cm x 3.7cm||16cm x 16cm x 2.5cm|
Interestingly, the company considers these devices "ruggedized" as well as fanless. As such, they have a 5-year warranty. It seems to be quite the feature-packed device with two HDMI 1.4 outlets, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and an available slot for a cellular modem. The Pro even has 802.11ac WiFi. I am not entirely sure the intended purpose of this device, but the company claims that the previous generation product was often purchased by video surveillance and digital signage customers. Interestingly, Windows 7 and Linux are the two choices for operating systems.
The fit-PC4 is available now in either a $299 (Value-Barebone) or $380 (Pro-Barebone) model.
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | March 1, 2014 - 09:51 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: corsair, mining
When mining some form of cryptographic coin, very few components in the system are utilized. A GPU is basically a self-contained massively parallel cruncher with its own memory and logic. The host system just needs to batch the tasks which leads to PCs with dirt-cheap CPUs, a very modest amount of RAM, and quite literally a half-dozen high-end graphics cards.
If you thought that gaming machines skew a little too much towards GPUs, you should see a mining rig with five R9 290X cards fed by a Sempron.
As you can guess, since many GPUs are double-slot, it might be difficult to fit seven of them in a seven-slot motherboard with a limited number PCIe lanes. To get around this limitation, miners attach their graphics cards to extension cables. Thankfully (for them), mining does not pass a lot of data across the bus to the host system. Even a single PCIe fails to be a bottleneck, apparently.
Anyway, the Corsair blog created an open-air rack which hangs six graphics cards (five HD 7970s and a R9 290X) above a motherboard housing an Intel Celeron G1830. For air, a quartet of Corsair fans suck air upwards and around the graphics cards. For power, of course they use the Corsair AX1500i because why not mine with an arc welding torch. It apparently had more power capacity than the breaker they originally hooked it up to. Whoops.
While ridiculous, I do hope to see systems with multiple (even mismatched) graphics processors as we move toward batches of general mathematics. PhysX was not entirely successful in teaching users that GPUs do not need to be in SLi or Crossfire configurations to load balance. It is just finding an appropriate way to split tasks without requiring a lot of bottlenecks in setting it up.
I might not mine coins, but I could see some benefit to having 35 TeraFLOPs across seven compute devices. I could also see Corsair wanting to sell me a power supply for said PC.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | March 1, 2014 - 03:51 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi is a tiny and cheap (as in a starting price of ~$28) computer that was originally intended for educational purposes. It is built around a Broadcom BCM2835 SoC which itself is based on the ARM architecture. Its VideoCore IV 3D graphics processor relies upon a closed-source driver because, until yesterday, Broadcom had not provided documentation or code. Technically, the code they released is for a different SoC but both Broadcomm and the Raspberry Pi Foundation believe the tools are there to port it over.
And the foundation wants to drum up interest by offering a $10,000 bounty for Quake III running acceptably on the Pi with the ported open source drivers.
If interested, you can look at Broadcom for the documentation and 3-clause BSD-licensed source code. You can also check out the Raspberry Pi Foundation for a blog post which mentions the competition (as well as their 2-year anniversary). GPU drivers are a good thing to be open-sourced. As I have been saying, the further "upstream" a piece of code is, the more it trickles down as a dependency for other software. The vocabulary that software needs to communicate with a hardware platform is quite high up there. Leaving those tools to society is a good thing for society.
Granted, it will probably not have a meaningful impact in this case... but there is a chance.
Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2014 - 02:59 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: prime instant video, prime, music streaming, amazon
Amazon has been exploring changes to its Prime subscription service, and while drone air delivery may be years out, a music streaming service is a realistic possibility. The company already offers video streaming via its Prime service in the form of a limited selection of its total Instant Video library that can be streamed for free with a yearly Prime subscription. on the music side of things specifically, Amazon already has a massive downloadable paid-for MP3 library with a browser-based (and a new PC application) digital locker and media player.
Amazon Cloud Player, a browser-based media player for purchased MP3 files.
In short, all of the pieces for a music streaming service are in place. Amazon has the e-commerce and programing experience, distribution medium, and gobs of cloud storage and processing power. Amazon simply needs the go-ahead from the labels in the form of licensing agreements which appear to be in progress according to Recode.
An Amazon-run music streaming service would face stiff competition from existing competitors such as Spotify, but if any company can come in and make it work at scale in a competitive market it is Amazon. Especially if Amazon is able to replicate music streaming and offline caching using mobile apps like Spotify offers without charging extra for the privilege. Music streaming seems to be a natural addition to its Prime Instant offering, and may just be the spoonful of sugar that makes a possible Prime subscription price increase easier to swallow.
Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2014 - 02:16 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: microsoft, Windows Store, appstore
Microsoft introduced its own application download repository with Windows 8 along with an SDK for developers to put together touch friendly applications around the formerly-Metro-No-Longer-Modern-Whatever-It-Is-Called-This-Month user interface. Dubbed the Windows Store, it would be the source of applications for Windows RT, Windows Phone, and Windows x86/64 alike.
Since the release of Windows 8 Consumer Preview in February 2012, users have been able to use the Windows Store application to search for and download both free and paid-for apps. The Windows Store is a curated marketplace with applications that must be certified for compatibility by Microsoft who takes a percentage of sale price (30% or less depending on number of downloads).
At the end of last year, Microsoft had approximately 142,000 apps listed in the Store. Further, the company is seeing as many as 4 million application downloads per day from the Store. The 4 million downloads per day number was uncovered by Alex Wilhelm at TechCrunch, and is a 134.6% increase over the downloads/day number from October 2013. The breakdown of application type is pre-dominately free with paid applications acconting for less than half of the daily downloads (which makes sense).
At the current download rate, Microsoft could push as many as 1.46 billion app downloads a year. All things considered, the Windows Store is still dwarfed in downloads, number of apps, and popularity by the iOS, Google, and Mac app stores, but it is showing a surprising amount of growth lately. Hopefully this rise in popularity will beget more popularity from the cycle of developers getting interested in the Store and users getting new applications. (Ideally, as the Windows Store userbase grows, developers will have increased incentive to program new, or port existing, apps
to Metro which should further bring in new users and so on).
Have you used the Windows Store to find new Start Screen apps?
Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2014 - 06:36 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: steam, valve
Today, Valve announced that its Steam Family Sharing program is available for all users. This initiative allows Steam accounts to authorize devices to access their library on other accounts. The intention is for each family member to have their own account while being able to borrow games from one another. This can also extend to "their guests". It does not include titles which use third-party DRM, accounts, or subscriptions - Valve obviously does not have direct control over them.
There are other rules and restrictions, of course, but the account and device limits are quite high: 5 accounts across 10 devices. This does not get around region locks and a game which is VAC-banned cannot be shared. Ultimately, be careful sharing your games with your kids if they are jerks.
To setup Family Library Sharing in the Steam Client, go to View > Settings > Family and start to authorize and manage other computers. Just do not allow Cheating Charlie. For more information, check out Valve's promotional site and FAQ.
Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2014 - 02:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: linux, Chromebook
If you have purchased the Acer C720 Chromebook because it was relatively quick and very inexpensive you have probably been happy with it but maybe you wish it could do more. To do so you could follow these instructions to install either Ubuntu or Bohdi Linux. The process is a little more complicated than installing the OS from a CD but they have provided step by step instructions on how to accomplish this process. Bring new life to your Chromebook with just a bit of work.
"Chromebooks are amazing little machines. They are a marvel of speed and simplicity. The Acer C720 Chromebook is certainly near the top of the list of Chromebooks to be purchased (next to the Chromebook Pixel, of course). It's speedy and it's inexpensive. But for some, the simplistic nature of the devices doesn't offer enough power or flexibility. For those who need more from this Acer platform, I have the answer – in fact, I have two answers."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Your CIO is now a venture capitalist and you work at their startup @ The Register
- Exclusive interview with Peter Hirschfeld from Wavemaster @ Kitguru
- 10 amazingly stupid things the 'experts' will try to tell you about Microsoft @ ZDNet
Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2014 - 12:07 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: power supply, HCP-1300, antec, 80 Plus Platinum
Antec has released a new high capacity HCP-1300 Platinum power supply fit for the highest-end workstations and cryptocurrency mining rigs. The 80 PLUS Platinum rated PSU is up to 94% efficient meaning less wasted electricity and more profit for miners running power hungry GPU farms. The HCP-1300 Platinum, as the name implies can deliver up to 1300W to the system, including 10 PCI-E power connectors.
The new PSU uses a fully modular design with a look towards the future. Antec is using 16-pin cable connectors for future modular cables as well as a 20+8 pin motherboard connector to accommodate future ATX motherboards that might require an additional four power pins over today's 20+4 pin boards. A 135mm fan keeps the internal components cool at high loads. Other enthusiast-friendly features include CircuitShield technology and an OC Link connector. The OC Link allows adventurous enthusiasts and miners to connect two HCP-1300 Platinum power supplies together and have them work in tandem to power a single ultra high end system (hopefully you miners attempting this are plugging the PSUs into dedicated AC circuits!).
This enthusiast PSU comes at a premium, however. In fact, the Antec HCP-1300 Platinum will set you back $312 for a single unit. On the bright side, it does come with a generous seven year warranty.
Will this beastly power supply be at the heart of your next Dream System?
Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2014 - 03:48 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: x240, video, tegra, podcast, origin, nvidia, MWC, litecoin, Lenovo, Intel, icera, eos 17 slx, dogecoin, bitcoin, atom, amd, 750ti
PC Perspective Podcast #289 - 02/27/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the Origin PC EOS-17 SLX Gaming Laptop, Mining on a 750Ti, News from MWC and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the 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
Week in Review:
0:21:48 This podcast is brought to you by Coolermaster, and the CM Storm Pulse-R Gaming Headset
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2014 - 11:37 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: euv, photolithography, Intel, TSMC, DSA
A recent test at TSMC proved their experimental extreme UV lithography process is a little too extreme after a misaligned laser caused serious internal damage to their prototype. This is rather sad news for TSMC as EUV has been touted as the best way to reduce the chip making process below 10nm. Intel has been hedging their bets about EUV, they have invested heavily in the development of the technology but recently have teamed up with ASML Holdings and Arkema to work on directed self assembly, where the chips are convinced to form out of solution on a molecular basis. We are not quite talking Von Neumann machines but it is certainly within the same realm of thought. Other researchers are working on electron etching; forsaking light and its comparatively large wavelength for much smaller etching tools. You can read more about how companies such as Intel are trying to keep Moore's law alive at The Register.
"A recent test of the next-generation chip-etching technology known as extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) has come a cropper at chip-baking giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC)."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- AMD Press Talks Up Major Open-Source Linux Driver Features, But Fails @ Phoronix
- Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S specs comparison @ The Inquirer
- 'Black Phone': This handset will SELF-DESTRUCT in 30 seconds @ The Register
- Microsoft's Office 2013 Service Pack 1 slips out with fixes, features @ The Register
- Mantle no more? GDC sessions point to the next DirectX @ The Tech Report
- BlackBerry brings back call, end keys, touchpad to Q20 keyboard cutie @ The Register
- Google makes it easy for Gmail users to dump newsletters @ The Inquirer
- Taste-O-Vision Is Now A Thing @ Hack a Day
- The TR Podcast 150: From Mantle to Maxwell, and beyond
Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2014 - 02:19 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: toughpower gold, thermaltake, power supply, 80 Plus Gold
Thermaltake has launched three new power supplies under its Toughpower Gold series. The new models come in 550W, 650W, and 750W capacities and offer up a semi-modular design and 80 PLUS Gold efficiency ratings.
The new power supplies are rated at 87% to 92% efficient depending on the load and fall under the 80 PLUS Gold designation. Additionally, the PSUs offer a single rail design to deliver stable power to graphics cards and the processor. A semi-modular design has the 24 pin and 8 pin motherboard power connectors permanently attached and connection points for a variety of additional power cables. Thermaltake has gone for a flat cable design which should mean the cables are easier to route and hide behind the motherboard tray. Other features include high quality Japanese capacitors and a reportedly quiet 140mm fan that hits 18dB under typical loads.
The 550W offers two 8-pin PCI-E power connectors while the top end 750W version supports up to four 8-pin PCI-E power connectors meaning it can easily power CrossFire and SLI multi-GPU setups.
You can find more information on the Toughpower Gold power supplies on their respective product pages.
Unfortunately, pricing and exact availability has not yet been released.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | February 26, 2014 - 09:20 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: x360, Windows 8.1, tablet, hp, convertible tablet, convertible, Bay Trail
At MWC 2014, HP showed off an interesting convertible laptop similar in form factor to Lenovo's Yoga lineup. The HP X360 is a Bay Trail-powered laptop running Windows 8.1 that brings the 360-degree hinged hybrid laptop/tablet form factor to an affordable $460 price point. The red plastic and brushed aluminum PC is available for purchase now and will begin shipping in early March.
HP's new X360 tablet measures 12.12” x 8.46” x 0.86” and weighs in at a portable 3.08 pounds. It is noticeably larger than other Bay Trail tablets like the ASUS T100 and Dell Venue series, but it also has an integrated keyboard and trackpad attached via a permanently attached double hinge to the 11.6” LED-backlit touchscreen with a resolution of 1366x768. The chassis is a glossy red plastic while the keyboard cover and palm rest use a brushed aluminum surface that surrounds a large gesture compatible touchpad and a chiclet-style keyboard that appears to be well spaced for an 11.6” machine (excluding the arrow keys which are bunched up in the bottom-right corner in order to allow full sized shift and enter keys). A silver chassis version is also in the works, but will not be available until later this year.
The HP X360 features external I/O more akin to a traditional laptop than a tablet with the following connectivity options.
- 1 x USB 3.0
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x RJ45 (10/100 Ethernet)
- 1 x headphone/mic combo jack
- 1 x SD card slot
- 1 x SIM card slot
Internally, the HP X360 uses an Intel Pentium N3520 processor, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios, and a 2 cell Lithium Ion battery rated for up to four and a half hours of use. HP has further packed its tablet with Beats Audio technology. Interestingly, the Pentium N3520 CPU is a quad core chip based on Intel's Bay Trail (Atom) architecture which uses Silvermont cores and Intel HD graphics. The CPU is clocked at 2.166 GHz base and 2.42 GHz Turbo with 2MB of cache.
The X360 can be used as a laptop or a tablet in several configurations by swinging the display around appropriately. It is very similar to Lenovo's Yoga system, though HP is using a slightly different hinge design.
The real advantage of the HP X360 is its price. At a starting price of $389 for the 4GB model, the X360 is much cheaper than the (admittedly more powerful) Yoga alternatives while still being a capable machine for note taking and media consumption. It lies in a middle ground between Bay Trail-powered tablets and Haswell-powered laptops. For an $80 premium over the ASUS T100, users get a more traditional convertible PC with more storage (albeit slower mechanical storage) and a faster clocked processor.
Personally, I'm tempted and have been debating between this and the T100 as a second portable machine to replace my aging Dell XT with comparably abysmal battery life (heh).
You can find more information on the new X360 (HP Pavilion 11t-n000 x360 PC) on this HP product page.
Subject: General Tech | February 26, 2014 - 03:45 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: snapdragon 801, Samsung, qualcomm, galaxy s5, adreno 330
Samsung officially unveiled the Galaxy S5 smartphone at Mobile World Congress earlier this week. Packing evolutionary updates over the S4, the new flagship handset will be available in 150 countries on April 11th for an undisclosed price (expect it to cost around $800 unlocked with unsubsidized versions available from the major carriers).
The Galaxy S5 is slightly bulkier than its predecessor at 142 x 72.5 x 8.1mm and 145 grams. Despite this, the general look and feel of the smartphone remains unchanged, with rounded edges, a front dominated by a massive 5.1” 1080p Super AMOLED display (along with a 2MP webccam and a fingerprint reader) and a leather-esque texturized backplate hosting a 16MP rear camera. The device uses a covered micro USB 3.0 port and a gasket between the back cover and internals to achieve dustproof and water resistant ratings. The physical size upgrade is accompanyied by new color options (blue, white, gold, or black), updated internals, improved cameras, software tweaks, and a new fingerprint reader.
Connectivity includes a headphone jack, micro USB 3.0 port, and a slew of wireless radios including NFC, Category 4 LTE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and a IR transmitter.
Internally, the Samsung Galaxy S5 packs a respectable bit of hardware. Notably, Samsung decided to use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor over its own Exynos 5 Octa chip in the US (an upcoming variant of which may be used in some markets, but not the US version). This SoC is a quad core clocked at 2.5GHz with Adreno 330 graphics clocked at 578MHz. For comparison, the US Galaxy S4 used a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 SoC clocked at 1.89GHz with Adreno 320 graphics. Note that international versions will use an upcoming variant of the Exynos 5 Octa 5422 versus the Exynos 5 5410 in the Galaxy S4.
That boils down to a clockspeed bump in CPU and graphics for the North American Galaxy S5 and a clockspeed (GPU and CPU) bump and the ability to utilize all eight big.LITTLE cores simultaneously instead of only the four Cortex-A15 or four Cortex-A7 cores at a time as in the S4. Nothing mind blowing, but the new phone will see at least a slight performance boost as a result of the incremental upgrade.
Beyond the core SoC, the Galaxy S5 features 2GB of RAM, either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, and support for up to 128GB of expandable microSD card storage. A slightly more capacious 2,800 mAh battery powers the smartphone.
|Galaxy S5||Galaxy S4|
|Display||5.1" 1080p Super AMOLED||5" 1080p Super AMOLED|
|Processor (SoC) - US version||Snapdragon 801 @ 2.5GHz||Snapdragon 600 @ 1.9GHz or Snapdragon 800 @ 2.3GHz in later models|
|Processor (SoC) - International version||Exynos 5 Octa 5422||Exynos 5 Octa 5410|
|Graphics (SoC integrated) - US version||Adreno 330||Adreno 320|
|Storage||16GB or 32GB + 128GB SD||16GB or 32GB + 64GB SD|
|Dimensions||142 x 72.5 x 8.1mm||136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm|
|Weight||145 grams||130 grams|
The Galaxy S5 will come with the Android 4.4.2 KitKat operating system and a toned-down TouchWiz user interface. Samsung has scaled back the TouchWiz UI and pre-installed applications with the S5 which is a welcome change in the right direction. Further, the camera application now allows selective focus that can be adjusted after the shot has been taken as well as other photo modes that have been made more obvious and easier to access than on the S4. Speaking of cameras, the front-facing camera is a mere 2MP, but the rear camera (with LED flash) is an impressive 16MP model capable of recording UHD video and HDR video and stills.
The Galaxy S5 is now official, and I have been letting the specifications sink in. It is true that the smartphone is at best an evolutionary upgrade over the S4 rather than the revolutionary flagship some might have been expecting. However, I argue that the S5 is a fine device that features just enough useful tweaks over its predecessor to make it a worthwhile purchase. If you were unable to wait out the S5 and recently picked up an S4 for a good price, it will be difficult to justify an upgrade to the new flagship, but if you are coming in fresh from an even older smartphone now that your contract is up for renewal or looking to add a new line it looks to be a solid high performance Android phone.
What do you think, will you be picking up the Galaxy S5 or going with something else?
Subject: General Tech | February 25, 2014 - 08:33 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: oculus rift, Oculus
The current Oculus Rift development kit will being to sell out, region-by-region, as their current inventory depletes. This is because "certain components" which they require are no longer available nor will they be produced. They claim to be looking for alternate suppliers but do not know how long that will take. In case you are wondering, they will be floating a stash of units to fulfill replacement requests (RMAs).
As of five days ago, they currently have stock in the following regions:
- United States
- European Union
- South Korea
Of course, there is now speculation that Oculus is preparing to launch a new development kit revision. It is obvious that something new is in the works, especially since they presented a prototype at this year's CES, less than two months ago. The cynical way to take this is that they are looking to deplete their stock before releasing a new unit. The other direction is that they were intending to sell the first kit for a little while longer but one or two parts became difficult to acquire. Either way, unless finding a replacement source is easy enough and they do resume production of the original kit, we might be seeing a refresh at some point.
The question is then, "How long will that take?"
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 25, 2014 - 03:43 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: titanfall, ssd
UPDATE (Feb 26th): Our readers pointed out in the comments, although I have yet to test it, that you can change Origin's install-to directory before installing a game to have them on a separate hard drive as the rest. Not as easy as Steam's method, but apparently works for games like this that you want somewhere else. I figured it would forget games in the old directory, but apparently not.
Well, okay. Titanfall will require a significant amount of hard drive space when it is released in two weeks. Receiving the game digitally will push 21GB of content through your modem and unpack to 48GB. Apparently, the next generation has arrived.
Honestly, I am not upset over this. Yes, this basically ignores customers who install their games to their SSDs. Origin, at the moment, forces all games to be installed in a single directory (albeit that can be anywhere) unlike Steam, which allows games to be individually sent to multiple folders. It would be a good idea to keep those customers in mind... but not at the expense of the game itself. Like always, both "high-end" and "unoptimized" titles have high minimum specifications; we decide which one applies by considering how effectively the performance is used.
That is something that we will need to find out when it launches on March 11th.
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