Is there a Hardline of difference between AMD and NVIDIA?

Subject: General Tech | February 11, 2015 - 01:44 PM |
Tagged: gaming, ea, battlefield hardline

Battlefield Hardline is in public beta for those who have tired of Battlefield 4 and are looking for a new online Frostbite 3 shooter to play and [H]ard|OCP has run benchmarks to show you what kind of performance you can expect.  They gathered together three cards from the two companies, a GTX 980, 970 and 960 as well as an R9 290X DD, 290 and 285 with a mix of default and factory overclocked frequencies.  As of yet there is no Mantle support in the beta so both vendors are using DX11 in the tests, with the top four cards at 2560x1440 and the remaining two at 1080p, all set to 4X MSAA and Ultra settings except for the Dustbowl map.  The GTX 980 takes top spot but the most interesting results are the 290X and 970; the difference is so minuscule that they essentially perform at the same level and the same can be said of the pricing.  Also worthy of note is that in only one test did the cards use more than 3GB of RAM and never hit 3.5GB.

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"We hopped on the open public beta of Battlefield Hardline this past week and tested performance in all three maps with six video cards to find out how this game performs. We will talk about each map in the beta, and our experiences in terms of performance and gameplay experience so that you will know what to expect in the full game."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Another slice of Pi, this time it is saucier

Subject: General Tech | February 11, 2015 - 01:03 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, open source

We have seen the improved specs of the new Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, with a quad-core Cortex-A7 based Broadcom SoC running at 900MHz, 1GB RAM, a 40 pin I/O connector block and four USB 2.0 ports, with the rest of the inputs remaining the same as the previous models.  It will still charge at 2A but you will need an SD card of at least 4GB to fit on the OS, which you can buy preloaded or configure yourself if you so desire.  The Inquirer used the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark to test the speed of the new Raspberry and the results matched the advertised gains, 4452.1ms to completion on the new model as compared to 23692.7ms on the Raspberry Pi Model B+.  If you are working this devices predecessors on a project that would benefit from more power, or Windows 10 support, this will be a great investment for you.

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"SWELLING THE RANKS of fruity-themed computers, the Raspberry Pi 2 is an upgraded version of the popular single-board computer, sporting a new processor and double the memory of previous models."

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Source: The Inquirer

Oops! Incorrect AMD CPUs Allegedly Sold on Amazon

Subject: General Tech, Processors | February 11, 2015 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: amd, amazon

So allegedly Amazon UK sold some AMD A8-7600 APUs, but they actually shipped Athlon 64 X2 5200+ CPUs. Despite what you would think, it was actually “dispatched and sold” by Amazon UK itself, rather than a dishonest seller who has some explaining to do. For those affected, Amazon is apparently handling customer service well, as expected, and promptly replacing the parts. It does not seem to affect other regions, and the problem started just a short time ago.

amd-new.png

Unless you're Sebastian, these processors will not even fit in the motherboard socket. PC World has an interesting side-by-side comparison of the two pin configurations. They do not look alike at all. You should not have a hard time identifying the problem if you are careful enough to look before you insert, which is obviously something that you shouldn't have to do. Also, AMD refers customers to their authenticity support page for a few extra ways to be sure that the box that you got came from AMD.

What would be the most interesting part of this story is finding out what happened. Unfortunately, we probably will never know, unless it turns into a famous legal battle of some sort.

Source: Tech Report

NVIDIA Releases 347.52 Drivers and Brothers for GRID

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | February 11, 2015 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: shieldtuesday, shield, nvidia, gridtuesday, grid, graphics drivers, geforce, drivers

Update: Whoops! The title originally said "374.52", when it should be "347.52". My mistake. Thanks "Suddenly" in the comments!

Two things from NVIDIA this week, a new driver and a new game for the NVIDIA GRID. The new driver aligns with the release of Evolve, which came out on Tuesday from the original creators of Left4Dead. The graphics vendor also claims that it will help Assassin's Creed: Unity, Battlefield 4, Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Crew, and War Thunder. Several SLi profiles were also added for Alone in the Dark: Illumination, Black Desert, Dying Light, H1Z1, Heroes of the Storm, Saint's Row: Gat out of Hell, Total War: Attila, and Triad Wars.

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On the same day, NVIDIA released Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons on GRID, bringing the number of available games up to 37. This game came out in August 2013 and received a lot of critical praise. Its control style is unique, using dual-thumbstick gamepads to simultaneously control both characters. More importantly, despite being short, the game is said to have an excellent story, even achieving Game of the Year (2013) for TotalBiscuit based on its narrative, which is not something that he praises often.

I'd comment on the game, but I've yet to get the time to play it. Apparently it is only a couple hours long, so maybe I can fit it in somewhere.

Also, they apparently are now calling this “#SHIELDTuesday” rather than “#GRIDTuesday”. I assume this rebranding is because people may not know that GRID exists, but they would certainly know if they purchased an Android-based gaming device for a couple hundred dollars or more. We could read into this and make some assumptions about GRID adoption rates versus SHIELD purchases, or even purchases of the hardware itself versus their projections, but it would be pure speculation.

Both announcements were made available on Tuesday, for their respective products.

Source: NVIDIA

Shining a little light on Windows as a service

Subject: General Tech | February 10, 2015 - 02:11 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, rumour

We may see Windows 10 RTM as early as June of this year on new machines and likely as an upgrade option to those running Windows 7 or 8, with the trademarking of Windows 365 lending credence to this rumour.  The Register had a chance to try and parse the most mysterious part of this new OS, the Windows-as-a-service model and what that will mean for users.  Microsoft has explained that when a user buys a device with Windows 10 they will "continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device – at no additional charge."  Unfortunately it is not clear what is meant by the 'supported lifetime' nor what happens when that time expires; it is likely that a subscription will need to be renewed or that you will have to get a new device.  It is also unclear how this model will work for serial upgraders, in the past you could simply re-license your installation of Windows a finite time before needing to contact Microsoft to ask them to activate your license again.

What we do know for sure for the Enterprise version is that will be several Long Term Servicing contracts, which provide security and critical updates for a 5 year mainstream contract followed by a 5 year extended support contract.  There will also be a Current Branch for Business which will receive updates via Windows Update or WSUS after patches have been distributed to consumers and fully tested.  To be able to use Windows 10 a company must maintain a subscription for Software Assurance as opposed to being limited to the nebulous "supported lifetime" of their machines.

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"Windows chief Terry Myerson proclaimed the advent of Windows-as-a-service at an event last month. But what does that mean? A more recent post from Enterprise and Security Directory Jim Alkove offers some clues."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft Filed for "Windows 365" Trademark in Late January. Jeremy Prepares to File for Windows 340 through 364?

Subject: General Tech, Systems | February 10, 2015 - 12:55 AM |
Tagged: windows 365, windows 10, windows, office 365, microsoft

While it is trivial for a large corporation to file for a trademark, there are fairly strict guidelines with how they are used (or, more accurately, not-used). Because trademarks can be forever, the law outlines numerous procedures that can classify them as abandoned, which lets Coca Cola be a known, legitimate source of Coca Cola for as long as Coca Cola makes Coca Cola, while preventing businesses from being created that do nothing but license names.

Patents! I'm looking at you!

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So the news is that Microsoft filed for the trademark, “Windows 365”. Knowing their trademark on Office 365, people are assuming that this will lead to a subscription version of Windows. The trademark filing is then compared to the statements made by Terry Myerson about Windows as a Service and the free upgrade from Windows 7 and Windows 8.x for a year. You can see where this is headed.

But I have another idea. Perhaps this is intended to lead into their not-yet-disclosed enterprise licensing arrangement for Windows 10 (and related services)? Despite its consumer sound, Office 365 seems to have a fairly large adoption rate with business and education customers. As an example, which is not statistically relevant but is still interesting, the local public school board where I live has licensed a non-commercial, 5-PC license for every staff and student in their organization. This concept has a lot of potential for those customers.

If, of course, they give us a per-device and system builder license option, too.

Source: USPTO

New BitTorrent Sync Beta Build Allows Updates From Sync 1.4

Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2015 - 11:44 PM |
Tagged: folder sync, file syncing, bittorrent sync, bittorrent, backup

The team at BitTorrent Labs has released a new Sync beta build that incorporates all of the planned Sync Pro features and allows users to update from the stable Sync 1.4 build while importing all of their folders. The latest build, version 2.0.51, is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs as well as Android (Sync 2.0.34) and Kindle Fire mobile devices. Users can grab the download from this Sync forum thread.

Sync 2.0.51 was deployed to test the upgrade and folder import path from 1.4. Unfortunately, the new build is not compatible with any previous Sync 2.0 (alpha) builds so users that are already testing will have to start from scratch whereas if you are just now jumping in as a tester you can keep your folders set up as is.

The latest Sync beta turns on all of the Sync Pro features (image from Sync blog).

I was able to successfully update to the new build on my main PC and Android smartphone. Unfortunately, I can not go into many details regarding my experience as testers have been asked to not talk publicly about the builds until further along in development. You are welcome to try it out for yourself though.

Sync 1.4 (left) users can upgrade to the new Sync 2.0.51 beta (right) and import their folders.

The public forum thread does mention that the new build includes a trial of Sync Pro features including a private identity that allows you to easily link all of your devices together and a selective syncronization feature that uses placeholder files and allows you to choose which files you want to download for offline access on a per device basis (a feature that caused controversy for Microsoft over OneDrive removing placeholder files in Windows 10). A new permissions engine is also in effect and you are able to change permissions after the fact now without generating a new link.

In all, Sync is still in development and they have some neat features in the works that will make it more competitive with other file syncing services.

If you are interested in following the development progress or testing it yourself, you can sign up for the mailing list and follow the various forum threads on the BitTorrent website.

Source: BitTorrent

Are you the Type that wants to C USB 3.1 in action?

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2015 - 01:03 PM |
Tagged: usb 3.1, usb type-c

The speed difference between USB 3.1 and 3.0 is not quite as significant as the difference between 2.0 and 3.0, it only doubles the speed to 10Gbps but it offers other advantages as well.  For instance no longer will you need to flip your device three times to plug it in, the backwards compatible Type C connector will fit in either orientation which is seemingly a small thing until you spend a lot of time reaching under desks trying to plug peripherals in.  Kitguru tested the speed of two Intel 730 SSDs in RAID 0 on the MSI X99A Gaming 9 ACK which has USB 3.1 provided by the ASMedia ASM1142 chipset. The test results came close to the theoretical maximum, easily beating USB 3.0.   Check out the full review here.

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"And that's where USB 3.1 comes in. A 10Gbps link speed, up to 100W of power delivery, and upcoming widespread application of a new Type-C connector are some of the key features that the new version will usher in."

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Source: Kitguru

Podcast #335 - Mobile G-Sync, GTX 970 SLI, a Broadwell Brix and more!

Subject: General Tech | February 5, 2015 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, g-sync, GTX 970, gigabyte, brix s, broadwell-u, Intel, nuc, arm, Cortex-A72, mediatek, amd, Godavari, Raspberry Pi, windows 10

PC Perspective Podcast #335 - 02/05/2015

Join us this week as we discuss Mobile G-Sync, GTX 970 SLI, a Broadwell Brix 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!!

 

To the great dismay of dozens Windows RT finally passes on (not WinRT)

Subject: General Tech | February 5, 2015 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: winRT, microsoft

Microsoft has quietly smothered the last WinRT device on the market, spelling the end of the ARM powered version of Windows.  The non-Pro versions of the Surface attracted sellers with a very low price but then repulsed them with the performance and lack of support for basic applications.  The Lumia 2520 was perhaps a better implementation of WinRT but again was not very successful against the competition.  The Surface Pro 2 will continue to be produced and sold but its red haired stepchild has been show the door.   Microsoft did confirm with The Register that this does not mean the end of Windows on ARM by any means, Win10 will be found on many devices in the coming year including ARM powered ones.

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"The software giant confirmed on Wednesday to The Register that it has stopped manufacturing the Nokia Lumia 2520, a 10.1-inch Windows RT tablet with a quad-core ARM processor, an HD display, and 4G LTE wireless connectivity."

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Source: The Register

When is Civilizations not Civilizations? When you are on starships!

Subject: General Tech | February 4, 2015 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: gaming, sid meier, starships, civilization

The video posted at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN does not show gameplay until the 30 minute mark but may still interest you before that so try not to immediately skip until the launch screen.  Once you do, you will see that Starships does borrow from Beyond Earth, with the idea of Affinities granting specific bonuses based on the leader you chose but then it immediately changes.  Starships of varying sizes and components become your troops, maps become dynamic with the addition of asteroids on the field which move, interfering with your weaponry as well as your movement and solar systems replace cities.  The way you end your turn has also changed, instead of a limited amount of moves and attacks your ships have a crew which tires as you use the ship and let you choose to keep going with penalties due to the fatigue of your crew or send them on shore leave to end their usefulness for that turn.  Check out the video to see what you think of this new face to Sid Meier.

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"Meier also tackles the thorny question “how do you put maps in space?” and clarifies that people who call themselves ‘marauders’ don’t tend to be terribly friendly.

The Starships footage kicks off at around the 30 minute mark, but the more patient view can enjoy a whole 50 minutes of Sidchat."

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It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood, unless you are a patent troll ...

Subject: General Tech | February 4, 2015 - 02:04 PM |
Tagged: patents, legal, IEEE

Ah the sweet irony in the statement from IP Watchdog which states that the decision which "reduces the possibility that a patent holder that has made an IEEE RAND Commitment could hold up implementers of a standard and obtain higher prices" somehow represents a "threat to American-led innovation".   The IEEE requested this update to prevent cases such as this one which demanded $2000 per location for any business with a wireless router from ever reaching the courts.  Unless you feel that the companies whose business model is to sue people based on exploiting loopholes in existing patent agreements in which case you probably do not agree this is for the best.  You can read more over at The Register if the legal document from the DOJ is not up your alley.

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"The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has okayed new IEEE standards licensing rules designed to end some of the seemingly-endless lawsuits over standards-essential patents - and the trolls aren't happy."

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Source: The Register

Razer Blade Gaming Laptop Refreshed for 2015

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | February 3, 2015 - 05:35 PM |
Tagged: razer blade, razer, nvidia, Intel, GTX 970M

When the Razer Blade launched, it took a classy design and filled it with high-end gaming components. Its competitors in the gaming space were often desktop replacements, which were powerful but not comfortable, every-day laptops. The Blade also came with a $2800 (at the time) price-tag, and that stunted a lot of reviews. It has been refreshed a few times since then, including today.

Razer-Blade-2015-front.jpg

The New Razer Blade QHD+ has a 14-inch 3200x1800 display, with multi-touch and an LED backlight. The panel is IGZO, which is a competitor to IPS for screens with a high number of pixels per inch (such as the 4K PQ321Q from ASUS). This is housed in a milled aluminum chassis that is about 7/10th of an inch thick.

Its power brick is rated at 150W, which is surprisingly high for a laptop. I am wondering how much of that electricity is headroom for fast-charging (versus higher performance when not on battery). Most power adapters for common laptops that I've seen are between 60W and 95W. In a small, yet meticulously designed chassis, I would have to assume that thermal headroom of either the heatsinks or the components themselves would be the limiting factor.

Razer-Blade-2015-side.jpg

On the topic of specifications, they are expectedly high-end.

The GPU was upgraded to the GeForce GTX 970M with 3GB of VRAM (up from a 3GB 870M) and the CPU is now a Core i7-4720HQ (up from a Core i7-4702HQ). The system memory also got doubled, to 16GB (up from 8GB). It also has 3 USB 3.0 ports, HDMI 1.4a out, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, and (of course) a high-end, backlit keyboard. Razer offers a choice in M.2 SSD capacity: 128GB for $2199.99, 256GB for $2399.99, or 512GB for $2699.99. This is kind-of expensive for solid state memory, $1.56/GB for the jump to 256GB and $1.17/GB to go from there to 512GB.

The New Razer Blade Gaming Laptop is available now at Razerzone.com in the US, Canada, Singapore, and Hong Kong. It will arrive at Microsoft Stores in the USA on February 16th. China, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, UAE, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Russia can purchase it on Razerzone.com in March. Prices start (as stated above) at $2199.99.

Source: Razer

No shiny new Microsoft server OS this year

Subject: General Tech | February 3, 2015 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, server, operating system, sccm

There will be no Server 2015 release but sometime later in the year a preview version will be released for those wishing to have a peek at the new OS.  We will see an update to SCCM arrive at roughly the same time as Windows 10 is released which will add support for managing Win10 machines and images and will allow a lot of sysadmins to sleep easier at night.  The expected new features for the new server OS include the Docker image file format and containerization allowing you to run multiple programs on the same machine which are completely separated from each other and will be new to the Windows environment.  Check out a short list of other features and a link to a more indepth look at the new containerization features expected from the new server OS at The Register.

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"While it's looking like the final version of Windows 10 for client PCs could ship before the end of the year, it seems data center admins needn't hold their breaths. Microsoft confirmed on Friday that the next version of Windows Server won't arrive until 2016."

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Source: The Register

Windows 10 Will Run on the Raspberry Pi 2 - and the OS Is Free for IoT Developers

Subject: General Tech | February 2, 2015 - 10:40 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, Raspberry Pi, microsoft, iot, developers

Microsoft has announced that a version of Windows 10 will not only run on the Raspberry Pi 2, but that the OS will be available free of charge to members of its IoT (Internet of Things) developer program.

Win10_RP2.png

Microsoft made this announcement on their Dev Center website:

We’re excited to announce that we are expanding our Windows Developer Program for IoT by delivering a version of Windows 10 that supports Raspberry Pi 2. This release of Windows 10 will be free for the Maker community through the Windows Developer Program for IoT.

Windows 10 is the first step to an era of more personal computing. This vision framed our work on Windows 10, where we are moving Windows to a world that is more mobile, natural and grounded in trust. With the Windows for IoT developer program we're bringing our leading development tools, services and ecosystem to the Raspberry Pi community!

We see the Maker community as an amazing source of innovation for smart, connected devices that represent the very foundation for the next wave of computing, and we’re excited to be a part of this community.

We are excited about our partnership with the Raspberry Pi Foundation and delivering a version of Windows 10 that supports Raspberry Pi 2, and we will be sharing more details about our Windows 10 plans for IoT in the coming months.

The Raspberry Pi 2 is currently selling for $35, and runs a 900MHz quad-core ARMv7 processor with 1GB of RAM. They offer their own statement on the linked page as well:

For the last six months we've been working closely with Microsoft to bring the forthcoming Windows 10 to Raspberry Pi 2. Microsoft will have much more to share over the coming months. The Raspberry Pi 2-compatible version of Windows 10 will be available free of charge to makers.

Though Microsoft has effectively killed WinRT after revealing that it would not be upgraded to Windows 10, the support for the ARM-powered Pi demonstrates that the upcoming version of Windows still has more than just potential to run on ARM devices. This only makes sense considering the strategy of unifying Windows with a single version, and it is possible that the fork available for the Pi is more akin to mobile than to the desktop variant. Either way it sounds like it's worth the $35 to find out!

Source: Microsoft

Because Reinstalling the OS Is Quicker than Decrapifying

Subject: General Tech | February 2, 2015 - 03:19 AM |
Tagged: windows, OEM, microsoft, crapware

Advertising is a powerful business model, and is there any better medium than demos that are directly embedded inside your users' systems? Yes. Yes there are. That is actually a terrible idea. Why would you do that? Oh. Right. Money. You know what? Fine. If it lowers the cost of commodity devices, then it is not entirely horrendous. Advanced users should have some method of opting-out, though.

Sure enough, Microsoft might have made that possible.

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Paul Thurrott has compiled a little article that describes what you need to do to get clean installation media for your device. The procedure is fairly simple for Windows 8.1, although the Digital River download links for Windows 7 are good to know. The post is really more of a checklist to make sure you have your ducks in a row before attempting. Probably the most important advice (besides BACK UP!) is, especially if this is your only internet-capable device, make sure you have functioning network drivers. Also, if you have Windows 8.1 with Bing... sorry, you're stuck. Also, sorry in general.

Otherwise? Congratulations! You're now an enthusiast. Actually enjoy Windows.

Source: Thurrott.com

Here There Be Dragons (and "Four Horsemen")

Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2015 - 11:56 PM |
Tagged: x-plane, programming, development

“The Hacks of Life” is a blog from some developers at Laminar Research, which created the X-Plane franchise. Ben Supnik, the company's graphics lead, wrote an interesting and fairly lengthy blog post about optimizing for software performance, and it applies to more than just games.

optimization.jpg

In software development, the typical concept is: “write it, then profile it and fix what needs it”. This comes from the fear that developers will spend the majority of their time fixing the wrong problems. A profiler can tell you the chunks of code that hogs resources when you experience stutter, hitches, or hangs. They can also tell you how much of your overall performance is being used by specific parts of your application. These places have the most room for optimization, which allows you to budget more time for them. If you squeeze even a 100x performance increase out of code that runs for a tiny fraction of a millisecond per frame, then you spent all that time recovering at most a tiny fraction of a millisecond. All of that time could have been spent even doubling the performance of an 8ms effect, saving you 4 whole milliseconds per frame, which is the difference between 50 FPS and 60 FPS.

What I get from Ben's post is that, while not all of your code needs to run well, you cannot skip the design phase. The profiler can end up being an excuse to charge blindly into development. In a construction analogy, there is a difference between creating blueprints for your entire life, and building a house without any plans -- but that's okay, we can cut holes in the drywall if we need more windows and doors.

It's an interesting post, and is the eventual result of mantras being taken too literally.

MediaTek MT6753 64-bit Eight-Core SoC Announced

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | February 1, 2015 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: mt6753, mediatek

We do not talk about MediaTek's higher-end products too often. Part of that is because they use stock architectures, ARM's Cortex CPU, ARM's Mali GPU, and Imagination Technologies' PowerVR GPU, rather than designing their own CPU and/or GPU portion. Likewise, their design wins are also not covered too much on this site, such as the new Amazon Fire HD tablets, for their own reasons. They still make some interesting chips, though.

mediatek-soc-roadmap-2015.jpg

Image Credit: A Weibo user via GSM-Arena

The MediaTek MT6753 is a true eight-core, 64-bit ARM SoC. Its press release makes the rest of its details... confusing. The release claims that it is clocked at 1.5 GHz and contains an ARM Mali-T720 GPU that is capable of OpenGL ES 3.0 and OpenCL 1.2. The ARM Mali-T720 is actually capable of OpenGL ES 3.1 and OpenCL 1.1. This leads some sites to report that the MT6753 actually contains a Mali-T760, which is newer and can utilize OpenGL ES 3.1 and OpenCL 1.2 (it is also used in the MT6752 that was released several months ago). Other sites report what MediaTek claims.

GSM-Arena, one site that claims the (more-sensible) Mali-T760, also claims that the Cortex CPU cores can be clocked up to 1.7 GHz. This might not be inaccurate either, because it could be intended to run at ~1.3 to 1.5 GHz with a 1.7 GHz peak for vendors that want to take it to eleven. Alternatively, they could be wrong and it could peak at 1.5 GHz. We don't know, and MediaTek should be more clear about these important details.

Everyone seems to agree on the chip's networking capability, though. It will directly support LTE protocols for both China and western markets. This is expected to make them more competitive against Qualcomm, which might lead to more interesting designs.

Devices containing the MT6753 are expected to ship next quarter.

Source: MediaTek

Aorus enters the keyboard battle armed with the Thunder K7

Subject: General Tech | January 30, 2015 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: input, aoris, thunder k7, mechanical keyboard, cherry mx red

Aorus is expanding the mechanical keyboard market with their Thunder K7 which uses Cherry MX Red switches and has a removable numpad which you can attach to the left or right of the board, or completely separated from the main board if you so desire.  The 20 keys on the numpad can all be programmed with macros, to help you copy and paste the UbiSoft game keys given away during our podcasts.  The brightness of the keyboards backlighting can be adjusted with the wheel located at the top of the keyboard and the numpad as well.  Modders-Inc found themselves liking this board, you can read about it right here.

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"What do you look for in a keyboard? Do you look for items such as mechanical switches, dedicated macro keys, and LED backlighting? Do you want silent keys or loud keys? There are plenty of keyboards on the market with more features than you can shake a stick at. Some are useful, while others are gimmicky."

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Source: Modders Inc

ASRock Adds VisionX 471D To Small Form Factor PC Lineup

Subject: General Tech, Systems | January 30, 2015 - 03:03 AM |
Tagged: visionx, SFF, radeon, m270x, haswell, asrock, amd

ASRock has unleashed an update to its small form factor VisionX series. The new VisionX 471D adds a faster Haswell processor and dedicated Radeon mobile graphics to the mini PC.

ASRock VisionX 471D SFF Mini PC.jpg

The 7.9” x 7.9” x 2.8” PC chassis comes in black or silver with rounded corners. External I/O is quite expansive with a DVD optical drive, two audio jacks, one USB 3.0 port, one MHSL* port (MHL compatible port that carries both data and video), and a SD card reader on the front. Further, the back of the PC holds the following ports:

  • Audio:
    • 5 x Analog audio jacks
    • 1 x Optical audio out
  • Video:
    • 1 x DVI
    • 1 x HDMI
  • Networking:
    • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet jack
    • 802.11ac (2 antennas)
  • Storage/Peripherals:
    • 5 x USB 3.0
    • 1 x USB 2.0
    • 1 x eSATA

ASRock has gone with the Intel Core i7-4712MQ processor. This is a 37W Haswell quad core (with eight threads) clocked at up to 3.3GHz. Graphics are handled by the AMD Radeon R9 M270X which is a mobile “Venus” GCN-based GPU with 1GB of memory. The 28nm GPU with 640 cores, 40 TMUs, and 16 ROPs is clocked at 725 MHz base and up to 775 MHz boost. The PC further supports two SO-DIMMS, two 2.5” drives, one mSATA connector, and the above-mentioned DVD drive (DL-8A4SH-01 comes pre-installed).

ASRock VisionX 471D Rear IO.jpg

The VisionX 471D is a “barebones” system where you will have to provide your own OS but does come with bundled storage and memory. Specifically, for $999, the SFF computer comes with 8GB of DDR3 memory, a 2TB mechanical hard drive, and a 256GB mSATA SSD (the ASint SSDMSK256G-M1 using a JMF667 controller and 64GB 20nm IMFT NAND). This leaves room for one additional 2.5” drive for expansion. Although it comes without an operating system, it does ship with a Windows Media Center compatible remote.

This latest addition to the VisionX series succeeds the 420D and features a faster processor. At the time of this writing, the PC is not available for purchase, but it is in the hands of reviewers (such as this review from AnandTech) and will be coming soon to retailers for $999 USD.

The price is on the steep side especially compared to some other recent tiny PCs, but you are getting a top end mobile Haswell chip and good I/O for a small system with enough hardware to possibly be "enough" PC for many people (or at least a second PC or a HTPC in the living room).

Source: ASRock