No one needs more than three buttons on a mouse!

Subject: General Tech | May 17, 2011 - 06:45 PM |
Tagged: input, mouse, keyboard, thermaltake

It seems almost quaint for a mouse to sport only three buttons, MMORPG styled mice carry a dozen buttons or more.  However for Portal there really isn't much use for those extra buttons and as long as you are willing to assign weapons switching to the scroll wheel, three buttons will do you quite well in most FPS games.  The Thermaltake eSPORTS Azurues mouse is designed with that in mind, a very simple black mouse with three buttons and a 1600DPI switchable sensor.  If simplicity attracts you, drop by Hi Tech Reviews for a close up look.

HTL_azureus.jpg

"The Thermaltake Tt eSPORTS Azurues is a basic 3-button gaming mouse designed for FPS gamers. The Thermaltake Tt eSPORTS Azurues has a polling rate of 500Hz and a dpi switch at the bottom adjustable up to 1600 dpi. Like all Tt eSPORTS products that plug into a USB port, the Azurues gaming mouse has a braided and gold-plated USB connector as well as a convenient carrying case. The Tt eSPORTS Azurues does not require any software or drivers to use and is completely plug and play. For gamers that want a simple gaming mouse, the Thermaltake Tt eSPORTS Azurues is a high-performance alternative with just the right amount and combination of enthusiast features."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Crikey! Open source Android might be just a wee bit too open with your data

Subject: General Tech | May 17, 2011 - 01:23 PM |
Tagged: Android, security, clientlogin, impersonation, fud

Researchers at Germany's University of Ulm have discovered a vulnerabliity in Android's authentication protocol, known as ClientLogin which should protect your login credentials to apps like your contact list and your calendar.  It seems that while your request is encrypted, the response which includes your credentials is sent back in plain text, and those credentials remain valid for 2 weeks.  The new versions of Android have fixed this flaw but according to the story at The Register connections to Picassa still return in plain text.

 

android-fud.jpg

"The vast majority of devices running Google's Android operating system are vulnerable to attacks that allow adversaries to steal the digital credentials used to access calendars, contacts, and other sensitive data stored on the search giant's servers, university researchers have warned."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

HP discusses "Memristors", doesn't discuss better name

Subject: General Tech, Storage | May 17, 2011 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: memristor, hp

Not satisfied with resistors, capacitors, and inductors: scientists at HP are working on a new electrical element known as the memristor. A memristor functions as a resistor with the ability to change in resistance variable to the current placed on the element. What makes a memristor desirable for a company like HP is that the alterable resistence of the element can be used to store and more recently process data.

17-Memristor.png
Comes preloaded with Phantom of the Opera Browser.
Photo credits: R. Stanley Williams, HP Senior Fellow and Director of Information & Quantum Systems Lab; Michael J. Miller, PCMag
 
Memristors are noteworthy due to some intriguingly advantageous properties:
  • Switchable between on and off in a nanosecond
  • Capability to store up to 4 bits per ‘device’
  • Can process data on the device itself
  • Quite easy to manufacture for current chip factories 
Also noted is the statement that the multi-level nature of the memristor functions similar to how a human synapse functions. There are no shortages of technologies that claim to emulate human thought so my strong instinct is that this technology brings us no closer than any other technology. Regardless of whether this technology furthers AI development or whether it is hype; if the prospect of ridiculous speed and highly dense non-volatile storage pans true I have just two words: do want.
Source: PCMag

Build your own frickin laser beam; Shark catching instructions not included

Subject: General Tech | May 16, 2011 - 12:05 PM |
Tagged: laser, DIY, Altoids

Wired offers you several ways to build your own laser, some powerful enough to burn holes in paper and other flammables but all able to ruin the eyesight of anyone you point it at ... so bear that in mind.  They range from a build claiming you need no soldering for those less technical people who want a laser to one built in an Altoids tin.  The power of the laser varies depending on the build, some even use re-purposed DVD lasers as the light source.  Perhaps the most impressive build lacks wattage but being able to project vector graphics with lasers more than makes up for it.

64838967v3_240x240_F.jpg

"Even though lasers are as common as dirt now, appearing in everything from DVD players to supermarket scanners to computer mice, there's still a certain appeal to a beam of coherent, monochromatic light. Especially if it's dangerously powerful.

So it's no surprise that people can't resist playing with lasers, building their own, customizing them and, of course, setting stuff on fire with them."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Wired

Sony relaunches much of the PSN, other services oncoming

Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2011 - 04:29 PM |
Tagged: security, PSN

Some of you may have heard of a recent computer break-in to Sony Computer Entertainment involving some total theft of personal information and uniformly increased grades of University final exams. Approximately three weeks and a few missed deadlines later: portions of the PSN are finally back online and awaiting the eager college students who are finished with their finals to scratch the itch on all the games they missed in the outage. Just kidding, they are going to play Call of Duty again. 

15-Kaz.jpg
“… and then Kevin Butler crushed their heads.” (Quote accuracy disputed.)
 
Sony uploaded a video to Youtube on May 14th announcing that access has been regained to the following services:
  • Sign in for PSN and Qriocity
  • Online gameplay for PS3 and PSP
  • Music Unlimited (if you are a current subscriber) for PS3 and PC
  • Access to Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, and MLB from PS3
  • Friends list, chat, trophy comparison, and PlayStation Home 
Gamers returning to their PlayStation are required to change their account passwords prior to reconnecting to the PlaysStation Network and, as reported by PCMag, install a firmware update for their console. It has been a long and hard journey for fans of Sony’s console but it appears as if tangible progress has been made. Go forth, play Portal 2 Co-op, give Atlas a big hug, and let them eat cake. It has been a harsh famine.
Source: PCMag

Epic Games updates indie developers with May 2011 UDK

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Mobile | May 13, 2011 - 10:34 PM |
Tagged: udk, ios, game

Indie videogame developers have a great challenge keeping up with the industry. Technology is advancing quickly, the skills required to output games with the quality of the greatest developers keep diversifying, and the time required to detail each part keeps exploding. Though it is highly unlike that the next Call of Duty will come from a single person there are tool developers aiming to decrease the burden for projects of all sizes.

14-UDK.png

Do you think that was an onomatopoeia said by indie devs?

Epic Games released UDK in November 2009 to help developers make their own 3D PC games without needing to develop their own engine and associated toolset or needing to pay a hefty license fee up front. Since then, Epic has added support for iOS development to allow developers to create games for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. New versions have come out on an approximately monthly basis and May is no different.

This release is incrementally better than previous builds with a few usability tweaks like grouping objects and modifying them together, the ability to copy and paste vertex coloring, and performance importing art assets. As usual a few dozen documentation pages were updated to reflect changes in the game engine. While UDK does not remove the pain of making a good game, it does soften the blow a lot, which is all we got thus far.

Source: UDK

Tidbits from NVIDIA's Q1 conference call

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | May 13, 2011 - 06:49 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, conference call

NVIDIA made their quarterly conference call on May 12th which consisted of financial results up to May 1st and questions from financial analysts and investors. NVIDIA chief executive officer Jen-Hsun Huang projected that future revenue from the GPU market would be “flattish”, revenue from the professional market would be “flattish”, and revenue from the consumer market would be “uppish”. Huang did mention that he believes that the GPU market will grow in the future as GPUs become ever more prevalent.

13-1.jpg

How's the green giant doing this quarter? Read on for details.

For the professional market, NVIDIA discussed their intention to continue providing proof-of-concept applications to show the benefit of GPU acceleration which they hope will spur development of GPU accelerated code. Huang repetitively mentioned that the professional market desires abilities like simultaneous simulation and visualization and that a 10% code-rewrite would increase performance 500-1000%, but current uptake is not as fast as they would like. NVIDIA also hinted that GPUs will be pushed in the server space in the upcoming future but did not clarify on what that could be. NVIDIA could simply be stating that Tesla will continue to be a focus for them; they also could be hinting towards applications similar to what we have seen in recent open sourced projects.

For consumers, Huang made note of their presence in the Android market with their support of Honeycomb 3.1 and the upcoming Icecream Sandwich. Questions were posed about the lackluster sales of Tegra tablets but Huang responded stating that the first generation of tablets were deceptively undesirable due to cost of 3G service. He went on to say that the second wave of tablets will be cheaper and more available in retail stores with Wi-Fi only models more accessible to consumers.

13-2.jpg

nVihhhhhhhhhdia. (Image by Google)

The bulk of the conference call was centered on nVidia’s purchase of Icera though not a lot of details were released being that the purchase is yet to be finalized. The main points of note is that as of yet, while NVIDIA could integrate Icera’s modems onto their Tegra mobile processors, they have no intention of doing so. They also stated they currently have no intention of jumping into the other mobile chip markets such as GPS and near-field communications due to the lesser significance and greater number of competitors.

13-3.jpg

I think the new owners like the color on the logo.

The last point of note from the conference call was that they expect that Project Denver, NVIDIA’s ARM-based processor, to be about 2 generations away from accessible. They noted that they cannot comment for Microsoft but they do reiterate their support for Windows 8 and its introduction of the ARM architecture. The general theme throughout the call was that NVIDIA was confident in their position as a player in the industry. If each of their projects works out as they plan, it could be a very well justified attitude.

Source: NVIDIA

Did you know there are 17 year olds who've never seen Johnny Carson live on TV?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 13, 2011 - 06:31 PM |
Tagged: sorry, PC Perspective Forums, friday

After a few weeks hiatus from the Friday Forum Post, as work has been trying to kill me the past few Fridays, we return you to your regularly scheduled link fest.

In the Tech Talk Forum you can peruse a variety of topics, from decent printers to electric screwdrivers.  The Networking & Security folks are researching suspicious problems on a modem while the Hardware Leaderboard Forum is attracting suggestions from readers as well as comments about the Leaderboards its self.  Suggestions for PC builds is not the only user generated content on the Forums, though some posts are longer than others.

If you want to see how you rate against others, there is now a thread in the Overclocking Forum to post your PCMark 7 scores.  Try it out and see if you should be giving pointers or keeping an eye out for hints you can apply, assuming your GPU will cooperate

Even if you have been ridiculously busy that is no reason to neglect the Trading Post, where not only do you get a chance to pick up great kit at even better prices from your fellow PCPers there is the Great Give and Take thread to consider ... or for a completely different kind of give and take, The Lightning Round is still blowing up a storm that you can jump right into!

GeForce.com Previews the NVIDIA GTX 560

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 13, 2011 - 05:30 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, GTX560, graphics

 

GTX560.png

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 is due to release on May 17th.  As the release date approaches, vast speculation and rumors have flooded the Internet.  GeForce.com has stepped up to preview what the card looks like and how it fairs in three soon to be released PC games versus the 9800GT at the popular 1080p resolution.  GeForce chose the 9800 GT for comparison because they found the card to be one of the most popular used on Steam.  As games are becoming more advanced graphically and 1080p monitors are becoming more popular, they wanted to compare what the GTX 560 is capable of versus a card that many people are familiar with.

While they were unable to share exact hardware specifications and performance numbers (due to NDA), they were able to show what graphics detail settings the card was able to run at 1080p and at least 35 frames per second.  The stated "Optimal Playable Settings" for the GTX 560 were then compared to the 9800 GT in three games.  These three soon to be released games were each chosen because of their ability to showcase what high resolution, high PhysX detail, and Nvidia Surround looked like.  The GTX 560 was able to handle all three of those features with ease, whereas the older but popular 9800 GT ran into issues playing games with those features smoothly.  The system configuration they used to test both cards is as follows:

Motherboard ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution
CPU Intel Core i7 2600K @ 3.4GHz
RAM 8GB DDR3 1333MHz, 9-9-9-24
Operating System Windows 7 x64

 

The first game they showcased was Duke Nukem Forever.  GeForce states that Duke Nukem will support both NVIDIA 3D and PhysX.  The graphics details they were able to achieve with Duke Nukem Forever are:

Resolution 1920x1080
Texture Detail Medium
Shadow Detail Medium
Shadows World & Characters
Motion Blur On
AA Off
Film Grain On
Post Special Effects On
Stereoscopic 3D On

The GTX 560 managed to pull off at least 35fps.  Conversely, the game was not playable at these settings with the 9800 GT.  Specifically, the 3D feature was not practical with the 9800 GT.

Alice:  Madness Returns was the second game GeForce showed off.  One interesting aspect of Alice is the useage of PhysX.  The graphics quality is much improved by the graphics textures and particles added by PhysX, as you can see in the comparison screenshot below.

 

The GTX 560 managed to run the game at the following setttings:

Resolution  1920x1080
AA  On
PhysX  High
Post Processing  On
Dynamic Shadows  On
Motion Blur On

The 9800 GT that they compared the GTX 560 to was a "slide show" by comparison.  The demands of PhysX were especially responsible for the reduced performance.  The 9800 GT simply was not capable of processing both high resolution graphics and the high PhysX calculations.  The GTX 560 was; however, capable of running the game at maxed out settings (at 1080p).

GeForce finally showcased the GTX 560 running Dragon Seige III.  In this test, they utilized 3 monitors in an NVIDIA Surround configuration.  The graphical settings that they were able to get out of the GTX 560 included:

Resolution 5760x1080
Motion Blur On
Shadow Quality Insane
Texture Quality High
Shader Quality High
Visual Effects Quality High
AF On
MSAA 8x

 

Their results are as follows:

"On these settings, which were near maximum aside from anti-aliasing which tops off at 16x, the average framerate was again consistently smooth and playable. Here, the ultra-wide experience allowed us to immerse ourselves into some deep dungeon crawling. Unfortunately for the 9800 GT, the GPU in SLI does not support NVIDIA Surround, making it impossible to play at the 5760x1080 resolution. "

 

The GeForce GTX 560 is reported to be positioned between the Geforce 460 and 560Ti on the NVIDIA side, and the 6870 and 6950 (1GB) on the AMD side.  When it comes to 1080p resolution, so far it has been a toss up for many DIY enthusiasts between buying the AMD 6950 (2GB) and the NVIDIA GTX 560Ti for maximum performance.  If GeForce's preview holds true for other games, the GTX 560 may well provide an another option for enthusiasts after the bang for the buck price and performance at 1080p resolutions.

As for speculation and rumors on the graphics card's hardware, there have been many floating around the Internet.  For example, Tech Connect states that the GTX 560 will feature 336 CUDA cores, 56 Texture Units, and 1GB of GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit bus.  Further, Tech Connect maintains that the card is rumored to be priced at approximately $200.  From Nvidia's statement that the graphics card will be positioned between the GTX 460 and the GTX 560Ti in terms of performance, the GPU will likely be clocked somewhere between the 675Mhz of the GTX 460 and the 820Mhz of the GTX 560Ti, with the RAM being slightly lower than the GTX 560Ti's 4008Mhz.  

Unfortunately, (until the NDA is lifted) only NVIDIA can tell us what the real specifications of the GTX 560 will be, and they are not talking.  You can; however, find further details as well as a video of the soon to be released card in action over at GeForce.com, and PC Perspective will have a review up with benchmarks gallore and the official hardware specifications as soon as the NDA is lifted on May 17th.

Will the GTX 560 power your next gaming rig?

Source: GeForce

Netflix Instant Streaming Now Available For Select Android Phones

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 13, 2011 - 12:05 PM |
Tagged: Netflix, Internet, Android

It has been a long time coming; however, Netflix Instant Streaming is finally coming to a select number of Android powered smart phones. Engadget has the scoop, stating that

“Netflix explains that while the app is currently limited to phones with ‘requisite playback support,’ it anticipates that many of the ‘technical challenges will be resolved in the coming months,’and that it will be able to ‘provide a Netflix application that will work on a large majority of Android phones.’”

The following phones will be able to use the streaming feature of the Netflix application: HTC Incredible, Nexus One, Evo 4G, G2, and Samsung Nexus S.

netflixstreaming.jpg

While Nitdroid users and owners of older Android phones are currently out of luck, this move by Netflix is a good sign that Netflix on the open source operating system is possible, and can work well.

If you own one of the supported Android phones, you can download the application from the Android Market today!

Source: Engadget

What's new in the Windows 7 targeted PCMark?

Subject: General Tech | May 13, 2011 - 11:28 AM |
Tagged: pcmark, benchmarking, win7

Well, for one thing the advanced tests have all been renamed to Entertainment, Creativity, Productivity, Computation and Storage replacing the older benchmark names.  There will be three flavours, from the already widely available free edition, a $30 Advanced version and the $1000 Professional, with the $30 version being almost the same as the free version barring the lack of advertisements.  Techgage is happy that the benchmark takes less time than the previous version as the extra time will add up after a few thousand run throughs.

TG_pcmark_7_score_thumb.jpg

"Futuremark has launched the latest version of its popular PC benchmarking tool, PCMark, and as its "7" name suggests, it's designed exclusively for use with Windows 7. A couple of notable changes were made to both the test organization of the program, and also its pricing schemes. Join us as we take a quick look to see what's been added or refined."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Techgage

Chromebook Follow-Up: Subscription Plan Pricing For Launch Models

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 12, 2011 - 09:32 PM |
Tagged: subscription, mobile, Chromebook

Maximum PC recently reported details regarding just what the Google Chromebook subscription will cost for the various models and what each subscription entails. While you can read about the Chromebook and the various subscriptions in this previous article, specific pricing for the subscriptions for each of the launch models are detailed below:

  Enterprise (monthly) Education (monthly)

Consumer (no subscription)

Acer Chromebook (WiFi) $28 $20 $349
Acer Chromebook (3G) $31 $23 $TBA
Samsung Series 5 (WiFi) $30 $20 $429
Samsung Series 5 (3G) $33 $23 $499

 

Futher details that were clairified regarded mobile data and minumum orders.  Each subscription will include 100MB of 3G data with those Chromebooks that have 3G hardware.  Also, in order to recieve a subscription contract, both businesses and schools must order a minimum of 10 devices.

Just as with cell phone plans, there are early termination fees for those schools and/or businesses that wish to back out of their contracts.  Google has stated that the early termination fee will be equal to the remainder of their contract.  For example, if a small business has twenty users and five months left on their contract, in order to get out of said contract, the business would need to pay $2800 if their users all had the base Acer WiFi model.  

Needless to say, it would be smarter to just ride out the contract (if possible for the institution), because at least then the business would still retain support for the devices versus buying out the contract for the same amount of money and losing all support for their devices.  It will be interesting to see if Google will hold businesses and schools to this ETF or if they will renege and change their policy to appear more enticing to the market.

Source: Maximum PC

Piracy costs the industry $59 Billlion, BSA reports

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 12, 2011 - 07:40 PM |
Tagged: piracy, bsa

Piracy is a sore spot for the entire intellectual property production industry. The infinitely reproducible nature of information creates real challenges for collecting revenue particularly if taken from the mindset of a time where content was much more difficult to copy and theft had to occur for content to be in someone else’s possession.

Slightly NSFW, and Monty Python wouldn't have it any other way.

The Business Software Alliance released last year’s report on software piracy through 2010 and found that piracy has reached the highest level yet. Their report, based on a survey of 15,000 business and consumer PCs (servers were excluded from this survey), claimed that the difference between sales and estimated total dollar value of installed software was $59 Billion.

The sharp increase in piracy shows just how impossible it is to survive in the current mindset of acquiring content for free. Piracy affects content creators both big and small. Analysts fear that a continued mindset of acquiring content for free will devaluate the amount spent on content.

The biggest hurdle towards tackling piracy is confusion between revenue and control. Control is a resource that is not free and implicitly paid for by potential market share. A business model that limits your market without increasingly monetizing the control you gain with that model is a total loss. An unfortunate consequence of this confusion is that lost revenue as attributed to a lack of control rather than a superabundance of it. As Gabe Newell discussed with Tippecanoe Valley High School, businesses need to experiment with their business models because theory cannot necessarily be grafted to any given situation. If you are not seeing what you are expecting, it might be because your expectations are incorrect and you should test the market to determine what you should expect.

Source: PCMag

MSI Gearing Up For Large Computex Release

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | May 12, 2011 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: tablet, notebook, msi, computex

VR-Zone reports that MSI is gearing up for a large Computex showing, and will unveil 5 new mobile products to it's existing platforms. 

Computex_Secondary.jpg

Among the rumored launches are two tablets and three notebooks.  On the tablet side of things, both a Tegra 2 and AMD Brazos powered tablet are in the works.  The WindPad 100A will be powered by a Tegra 2 SoC and will run Android 2.3 in lieu of Honeycomb due to rumored hardware compatibilities.  The AMD Brazos platform brings AMD's fusion processor and graphics to the mobile space.  The WindPad 110W, the follow up to the Intel Atom powered 100W, will utilize the Brazos SoC running Windows 7.

As far as notebooks, the gaming lineup, C series, and X series will all see a refresh.  The GT683 will be a 15" gaming notebook.  The CX480 will update the C series with a rumored 14" form factor.  Finally, MSI's thin and light notebook lineup will receive the X460.

VR-Zone further states that "MSI is also said to be losing interest in netbooks due to declining demand and is refocusing on its notebook products as the company is expecting a 10 to 15 percent growth in notebook shipments this year, not taking tablets into account."

Source: VR-Zone

OCZ Unviels New Talos SAS 6Gbps SSDs

Subject: General Tech, Storage | May 12, 2011 - 04:59 PM |
Tagged: ssd, SAS, ocz, enterprise

 

Talos_new_angle.jpg

 

OCZ Technology, a leading provider of Solid State Drives, today announced a new line of enterprise drives. The new Serial Attached SCSI SSDs differ from other enterprise offerings by using multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash memory instead of the faster single-level cell chips. Further, OCZ has included it's proprietary VCA (Virtualized Controller Architecture) technology, which provides enterprise customers with TRIM, SMART monitoring, native command queuing (NCQ), tagged command queuing (TCQ), power fail management, and wear-leveling.

Promising up to 64,000 4K IOPS and optimized specifically for enterprise level storage applications, the MLC based Talos drives deliver "advanced application performance, all the necessary enterprise features, and substantial power savings, at a better total cost of ownership." Further, the new Talos drives represent the highest capacity SAS 6Gbps drives available today.

The new drives will be available in both 3.5" and 2.5" form factors, and range from 200 GB to 960GB. They will soon be available to small-to-medium business (SMB) as well as enterprise customers through OCZ's business-to-business channel.

New Version Of Popular PCMark Benchmarking Suite Released For Windows 7

Subject: General Tech | May 12, 2011 - 03:32 PM |
Tagged: Windows 7, SSD test, performance testing, PCMark 7, Futuremark, benchmark

When it comes to hardware testing, PCMark is a widely known and tested benchmarking suite. Developer Futuremark has now deployed PCMark 7 for WIndows 7 alongside PCMark05 for XP and PCMark Vantage for Vista users.

PCMark7_logo_onBlack_large.jpg

Designed to test a wide range of hardware from low cost notebooks to high performance gaming systems, PCMark utilizes numerous subsystem tests to provide a final composite score for the computer which can then be accurately compared to other users’ scores.

In the same manner as its predecessor PCMark Vantage, PCMark 7 uses traces of actual Windows’ programs to score a system based on actual usage scenarios. For example, the benchmark suite’s storage tests have been designed to allow both home and business users the ability to compare benchmark scores across systems and upgrades (of the same system). Whether using a solid state drive or a mechanical hard drive, PCMark 7 uses recordings of actions in well known Windows applications, including “Microsoft Word, Windows Live Photo Gallery, Windows Live Movie Maker, Windows Media Center, Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer, Windows Defender (Security Essentials) and even World of Warcraft” to replicate how someone would use the computer in a real world situation. The reasoning behind the use of program traces versus pure synthetic testing is the reliability and benefits of real world comparison. Especially when comparing benchmark scores between a base and upgraded system, synthetic benchmarking can show the potential performance increases; however, program traces can more closely showcase the real world performance increases.

With three versions of the benchmarking suite, there is a version to fit various needs and budgets. The Basic Version, Advanced Version ($39.95), and Professional Version ($995.00) offer increased control over the process. Each can be purchased or downloaded from PCMark.com.

"A benchmark is a highly complex and sophisticated piece of software, yet PCMark 7 is easy to use and requires no specialist knowledge or set up," said Jani Joki, Director of PC Products and Services at Futuremark. "Better yet, PCMark 7 Basic Edition is available as a free download so all PC users can benefit from this industrial strength PC test."

PCMark7_3Dbox.jpg

Will you be using PCMark 7 in your next benchmarking run?

Source: Futuremark

Podcast #154 - Intel Z68 Chipset release, Intel SRT SSD caching technogy, OCZ Agility 3 and Solid 3 and more!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 12, 2011 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: z68, ssd, srt, solid, smart response technology, smart response, podcast, ocz, Intel, agility

PC Perspective Podcast #154 - 5/12/2011

This week we talk about the Intel Z68 Chipset release, Intel SRT SSD caching technogy, the OCZ Agility 3 and Solid 3, Viewer Questions 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: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:15:39

Program Schedule:

Source:

Google Announces the Chromebook, Students To Receive $20 Per Month Subscription

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 12, 2011 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: mobile, laptop, Chromebook

First there was the laptop. Then the notebook. The netbook is the most recent addition to mobile devices with hardware keyboards. That is, until today. Google has officially launched a new cloud OS based mobile device dubbed the ChromeBook.

Samsung_Chromebook.jpg

As a netbook with an operating system that amounts to little more than a web browser, the device purports to not only match the functionality of a "normal" netbook, but surpass it thanks to file storage residing in the cloud, automatic updates to the OS, virtually unlimited applications, and an eight second boot time.

Google further states that the device is capable of all the promises feats while remaining secure. Security is accomplished by several independent strategies. The OS splits up system settings and user settings, and each ChromeBook allows only one "owner" per device. The owner is able to allow other users to log in to the device as well, whether it is with their Google account or as a guest. Guest Mode does not sync or cache data, and all system settings are kept out of the session, including network configuration. Each process is sandboxed in an effort to reduce the likely hood of cross-process attacks. Further, the browser and plugin processes are not given direct kernel interface access. Toolchain hardening seeks to limit exploit reliability and success. The file system has several restrictions, including a read-only root partition, tmpfs-based /tmp, and User home directories that can not have executable files.

Further, ChromeBooks utilize a secure automatic update system and Verified Boot that seeks to eliminate attacks tampering with the underlying code. All updates are downloaded over SSL, and are required to pass various integrity checks. The version number of updates is not allowed to regress, meaning that only updates with a version number higher than those already installed on the system are allowed to install. Further, on the next boot-up, the updates undergo a further integrity check in the form of what Google calls "Verified Boot."

According to Google, Verified Boot "provides a means of getting cryptographic assurances that the Linux kernel, non-volatile system memory, and the partition table are untampered with when the system starts up." The process depends on a "chain of trust" which is created using custom read-only firmware rather than a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) device. The read-only firmware checks the integrity of the writable firmware, and if it passes then the writable firmware is used to check the integrity of the next component in the boot up process. While Verified Boot does not protect against dedicated attackers, it does allow a safe recovery option when re-installing as well as detecting changes made by a successful run-time attack and files or write-able firmware changes made by an attacker with a bootable USB drive.

In future iterations of the OS, Google is pursuing driver sandboxing as well as implementing a secure method for auto-logins. Further, Google states that they are interested in pursuing biometric security if they are able to ensure their authentication software is secure when using low cost hardware. Also on the agenda is implementing a "single signon" system that would allow users to log into third party sites using credentials generated by their Google account.

Acer_ChromeBook.jpg

Hardware running Chrome OS is not new, however. Google's CR-48 notebook has been in the wild for months, allowing thousands of users the chance to try out the new operating system and its accompanying hardware. Both Acer (11.6", $349) and Samsung (12.1", $429 wifi only) have stepped up to the plate and are offering ChromeBooks at launch. What is new; however, is the way in which users are able to purchase the hardware. While consumers will still be able to purchase a ChromeBook from retailers, Google has announced a new subscription option for school and business users. The new subscription service would allow students to receive a ChromeBook for $20 a month, while business users would pay $28 a month.  In order to get the subscription price schools and businesses must enter into a three year contract.  The subscription price includes the "hardware, operating system, updates and cloud-based management" along with online, email, and telephone support directly from Google. The monthly subscription further includes regular hardware refreshes.

It is apparent that Google sees its largest market for ChromeBooks as being large businesses and schools, which can then manage a fleet of ChromeBooks for their users for a much lower cost versus maintaining hundreds of traditional computers. While large IT departments are likely to see the cost benefits, It remains to be seen how consumers will react to this subscription based model. Subscriptions have become more prevalent, with the majority of the US using cell phones with monthly contracts. On the other hand, users --students especially-- are used to buying a computer outright. Will the lure of low cost subscription ChromeBooks be enough to break consumers' traditional thoughts on purchasing computers?  Will students accept remotely administrated computers in exchange for a low cost subscription?

Source: Google

Are you nuts to switch to the Narwhal? Check out Ubuntu 11.04

Subject: General Tech | May 12, 2011 - 11:54 AM |
Tagged: Unity, Ubuntu 11.04, ubuntu, OS, natty narwhal, linux, gnome

Natty Narwhal, officially called Ubuntu 11.04, has arrived on the scene and it brings some changes to the way you will look at Linux.  It was designed to be the first desktop version to dump the Gnome GUI in favour of the Unity interface that has been previously used on netbook and other lower powered machines.  The design its self is fairly minimalistic as you would expect from what it was first implemented as, but not to the point where you won't recognize the familiar dock style interface common to OS X and Win 7.  Ars Technica takes you through a thorough look at the newest Linux and the pluses and minuses of the new GUI.

 

"Ubuntu 11.04, codenamed Natty Narwhal, rose from the depths last week. The update brings a number of significant new features to the Linux-based operating system. It includes a much-improved refresh of the Unity shell and a number of other significant improvements throughout the application stack.

This is the first version of Ubuntu to ship with Unity on the desktop. Due to the far-reaching nature of the changes that accompany the transition to a new desktop shell, this review will focus almost entirely on Unity and how it impacts the Ubuntu user experience. We will also look at how Unity compares with GNOME 3.0 and the classic GNOME experience."

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Source: Ars Technica

Sandy B's Little Sister: New Celeron Details

Subject: General Tech, Processors | May 12, 2011 - 12:34 AM |
Tagged: sandy bridge, celeron

Intel has made a splash with their Sandy Bridge parts; for being in the middle-range they keep up with the higher end of the prior generation in many applications. We have heard rumors of new Atom-level parts from Intel deviating from their on-chip GPU structure that Sandy Bridge promotes. What about the next level? What about Celeron.

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I'm guessing less than an i7.

Details were posted to CPU-World about Intel’s upcoming Sandy Bridge-based Celeron processors. There are three variants listed each supporting Intel’s on-chip GPU. The G440 is a single core part clocked at 1.6 GHz with a 650 MHz GPU where the G530 and G540 are both dual core parts clocked at 2.4 GHz and 2.5 GHz respectively and both with an 850 MHz GPU. The dual core parts have a 2MB L3 cache though the article is inconsistent on whether the single core part has 1 or 2 MB of L3 cache though we will assume 1 MB due to the wording of the article. While the GPU performance differs between the single core and dual core parts both will Turbo Boost to a maximum of 1GHz as need arises.

Functionally the chips will only contain the bare minimum of Sandy Bridge core features like 64-bit and virtualization support. There are still currently no further details on launch date and pricing. But if you are waiting to upgrade your lower end devices rest assured that Sandy B is there for you; at some point, at least.
 

Source: CPU-World