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Subject: General Tech | October 22, 2014 - 03:51 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Mizar, input, gaming mouse, cooler master
The Cooler Master Mizar gaming mouse has a nice understated appearance with a 7 buttons and high end Avago ADNS 9800 sensor capable of 1000 Hz/1ms. That mix of design and technology let Cooler Master retail the mouse at a reasonable price without trimming out the functionality that really matters. It does not ship with a copy of the software, which is a good thing as it will be outdated as soon as it is packaged, but there is a CM utility available for download to program your mouse buttons including macros and profiles. Check out how it performs in game in Benchmark Reviews full article here.
"For some odd reason Cooler Master seems to be releasing products everyday, whether it’s a new case or a new peripheral, their product line has been increasing exponentially in the past few years. What is not odd is the fact that many of Cooler Master products Benchmark Reviews has come across end up highly appraised. Today we are looking at one of two pointing devices Cooler Master has released this month."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- MadCatz R.A.T. TE @ eTeknix
- COUGAR 700M Aluminum Gaming Mouse Review @ Madshrimps
- Func MS-2 Mouse @ HardwareHeaven
- HyperX Skyn Mouse Pad Review @HiTech Legion
- Cougar 700M Mouse and Cougar Speed Mat @ Kitguru
- Aorus Thunder K7 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review @HiTech Legion
Subject: General Tech | October 22, 2014 - 01:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, borderlands: the pre-sequel
As you may have noticed, Ryan and the gang from NVIDIA have been playing Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and giving out lots of prizes to viewers. That is certainly enough to make anyone think positively about the newest installment of Gearbox's series, but how is the game its self? Several familiar characters make an appearance, albeit in slightly different roles than either of the previous games nor do gravity or oxygen remain as they were. Does the zany dialogue and cartoony graphics provide as much fun as the other games or has the series already reached its peak? As usual Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN have thoughts on that topic to share with you.
"It’s a little tricky to avoid feeling that a review of The Pre-Sequel (!) is superfluous. Surely everyone in the world has had a taste of Borderlands at this point, and have made their minds up about it? This is very much more of that same formula, with zaniness turned up to… What’s that, Steve? You’ve never played a Borderlands game? Wow."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- To The Moon! Borderlands: Pre-Sequel Preview-Review @ Techgage
- F.E.A.R. Online Is Free-To-Play On Steam @ [H]ard|OCP
- Wot I Think: Legend Of Grimrock 2 @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Civ: Beyond Earth’s Intro Recreates Science Victory @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Lights off, nappies on! It's Alien: Isolation and The Evil Within @ The Register
- In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream - Alien: Isolation Review @ Techgage
- Wot I Think – Styx: Master Of Shadows @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Review @ OCC
- Sleeping Dogs 2-Years Later Review @ OCC
- Civilization: Beyond Earth Linux and Mac release dates confirmed @ HEXUS
- Tunnel Vision: Alien Eyes Sore Jubilation @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Back In Flashblack: Jagged Alliance Again @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech | October 22, 2014 - 12:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: windows 10, assimilate
Now calling number 9860; you may proceed directly to download or use the automated Update system to receive your newest installment of the Win 10 Tech Preview. Do be warned that your installation size will increase as this download is as large as the original you received to begin your Windows 10 Experience. Those who have never touched a Windows phone previously should not be alarmed by the Action Center which will pop over top of any work you are doing whenever one of your social media feeds receives any sort of update, this is its intended effect and you should embrace it.
You now have the option of joining the Insiders Fast ring of updates, this is highly recommended for those who prefer to enjoy the new features Microsoft will be incorporating without warning and before these wonderful new developments can be sullied by the anti-TIFKAM masses found online. The Register did not report how many Canaries died to bring you this technical preview but any sacrifices would not have been in vain. Please touch here to launch IE to visit their post on mobile and desktop devices.
"Less than three weeks after it debuted the Windows 10 Technical Preview, Microsoft has shipped a comprehensive update to the pre-release OS that brings substantial changes, including some new features borrowed from Windows Phone."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- IBM and Microsoft will collaborate to compete in the cloud @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft and Dell’s cloud in a box: Instant Azure for the data centre @ The Register
- Microsoft warns of PowerPoint zero-day bug affecting nearly all Windows users @ The Inquirer
- Genius DVR-FHD568 Vehicle Recorder @ Benchmark Reviews
Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2014 - 01:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: hoverboard, hendo
Arx Pax Labs, Inc. have a brilliant marketer and an interesting product in development; one year before the exact date a certain Marty McFly travelled foward to in time they have announced the Hendo hoverboard Kickstarter project. Their current products use a patented tech which they refer to as Magnetic Field Architecture to create a field which allows their devices hover when over a non-ferrous metallic surface. This does have some drawbacks, namely the limited amount of areas in which the device will function, as well as creating difficulties steering but the tech does work and will continue to be developed to provide more functionality. For $10,000 you could get your hands on one of the 10 working prototypes though a more attractive price point and a less limited product supply is at the $300 mark which will get you the Whitebox Dev kit, which is literally a floating white box for you to use and take apart. There are lower priced tiers which will allow you to have a 5 minute ride on one as well.
Engadget tried it out and the current model can solidly support up to 300lbs, the next generation is expected to handle 500lbs. There are far more uses for this technology than the hoverboard though perhaps not quite as fun. Delivery companies could implement hover pallets like you see in many sci-fi programs and conveyor belts might be a thing of the past. It might even be possible to temporarily raise a properly configured building off of the ground during an earthquake with enough of these devices installed in the foundation. Check out their Kickstarter's comment section for more information and links to other sites that have had a chance to try out the hoverboard.
"A KICKSTARTER PROJECT is offering investors the chance to own a hoverboard a bit like the one in Back to the Future 2 for just $10,000."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Doctor Who and the Dalek: 10-year-old tests BBC programming game @ The Register
- Samsung ships its first 20nm 8Gbit DDR4 memory chips for servers @ The Inquirer
- Solid State Tesla Coil Plays Music @ Hack a Day
- Rumor: Lenovo In Talks To Buy BlackBerry @ Slashdot
- Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch @ The Register
- Lenovo to set up secondary brand for mobile devices @ DigiTimes
- Whisper tracks its users. So we tracked down its LA office. This is what happened next @ The Register
- Vivi wins MSI MOA 2014 Grand Final @ Madshrimps
Subject: General Tech | October 20, 2014 - 10:14 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: raptr, pc gaming
Raptr, a PC gaming utility, tracks the time spent within each game and aggregates that data across its user base. Its actual purpose is for game recording, adjusting quality settings for your machine's performance, community engagement, and so forth. Still, it is allowed to collect that data, so it does, and it shows fairly interesting trends of game popularity. Note that these figures represent percentage of total game play, by hour.
Before we get into the numbers, a quick reference about statistics. It may be counter-intuitive, but you can get a pretty accurate result from a relatively small amount of data. Ars Technica's "Steam Gauge" polled 100,000 random Steam accounts, including hidden ones by poking at generated IDs, and came up with fairly accurate sales figures, confirmed by a few indie developers.
Where you can run into difficulties is if your random sample has some non-randomness, outside of your intended bounds. For instance, if you want to see trends involving PC gamers then it is logical to limit your survey to PC gamers, but you can run into systematic error if the study is voluntary, self-reporting, or has some other bias. Sometimes you cannot control these biases for your experiment, so multiple, different experiments may be necessary to dial in on a causation.
In this case, it seems like Raptr's study is an honest representation of the typical Raptr user. Tens of millions of samples is enough to crush random error. The only question that I can think of is whether Raptr users represent a sample space that you care about. If you want to know about the average gamer, including console, casual, and mobile, then maybe not. The average PC gamer? Definitely closer, but it should be compared to other studies in case there is disproportionate representation of some group. Interesting none-the-less? Of course.
So, that aside, the top three PC games of this poll stayed exactly where they are:
- League of Legends
- World of Warcraft
- DOTA 2
World of Warcraft and DOTA 2 held steady, but League of Legends increased its lead by over 14% (relative to second place). 22.54% of all play time that is recorded by Raptr is done in League of Legends. Diablo III jumped up to 5.23% of total due to the launch of a new "season", which encourages players to create new characters and compete for placement and loot. Basically, it attempts to recreate the feeling at launch where enthusiasts attempt to be the first to reach the level cap, and so forth.
The recently launched The Sims 4 found its way to #16. It launched on September 2nd, so it had basically a full month to collect usage time (including the launch surge). Raptr expects that it will slip off the list for October, and that makes sense for me.
Subject: General Tech | October 20, 2014 - 12:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: windows 10
This time it is The Tech Report who are taking a look at Win10 and what it brings to the table and what it takes away. As you can see from the screenshot below the Start Menu is mostly back, with a selection of large tiles already added to the side of the menu, though they are easily removable or can be replaced with non-Metro applications. Since the contextual search still appears at the bottom of the Start Menu the search button on the taskbar seems unnecessary. The multiple desktops work as promised, with ways to easily switch between your workspaces, windows have been visually trimmed along the outside and drop shadows are back. Check out the new command prompt and other changes in their three page article.
"TR's Cyril Kowaliski has spent some time with the Windows 10 Technical Preview, and he's jotted down his thoughts about each of the major new features and changes. His conclusion? This has the potential to be the best Windows release since Windows 7."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- IBM will pay $1.5bn to get rid of its chip-making unit @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft Gearing Up To Release a Smartwatch of Its Own @ Slashdot
- US government fines Intel's Wind River over crypto exports @ The Register
- Spotify is Powered by Linux and Open Source @ Linux.com
- Think Before You Measure – Old Test Gear and Why It Is Awesome @ Hack a Day
- Using the Wrong Screw: A Painful Lesson in iPhone Repair @ Hack a Day
- Tech ARP 2014 Mega Giveaway Contest @ Tech ARP
- NikKTech & COUGAR Worldwide Giveaway
Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2014 - 11:20 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: unreal engine 4, epic games
Epic Games released Unreal Engine 4.5 last Tuesday, and it is one of their largest releases since launch. While most point-releases occur on a four-to-six week schedule, this one took about nine weeks.
The headlining feature from the press release is Ray Traced Distance Field Soft Shadows. In the real world, lights have an actual size. A light bulb is not an infinitesimal point, it fills up your hand when you grab it (when it is off and cooled to roughly room temperature, of course). If a surface can see a light, it is lit by it. If the surface cannot see the light, it is not lit by it, which looks like it is covered in shadow. If a light is big enough that part of it lights a part of a surface, but part of it is blocked, you get "soft shadows".
Ray Traced Distance Field Soft Shadows is a dynamic effect, which means that it can update over time. This is very useful if, for instance, the object that is casting a shadow gets blown up by a rocket launcher or, less entertainingly, the sun sets. The effect is also particularly quick, with scenes rendering in just a couple of milliseconds (you get about 16ms to hit 60 FPS). This is faster than cascaded shadow maps (a method to generate shadows that is optimized for shadows near the camera) in benchmarks listed at Epic's documentation.
Unreal Engine 4.5 has also updated Subsurface Scattering. I am not exactly sure what is different, because Unreal Engine 4 had SSS for quite some time now, but they changed something. This technique is useful to create realistic skin, but is also very useful for oceans, ice, and wax.
Although Ray Traced Distance Field Soft Shadows and Screen-Space Subsurface Scattering are the most interesting feature to write about, I would consider C++ Hot Reload to be the most important feature of this version. To explain it, I will need to first describe how Unreal Engine 4 is designed. When you subscribe, you are given source code access to the engine on GitHub; alternatively, you can download the Unreal Engine Launcher, which allows you to manage canonical builds of Unreal Engine. When a version of the engine is run, it will open a project in Unreal Editor. These projects could be programmed either in C++ or Epic's flowchart-based scripting system, "Blueprints". Complete games could be made in Blueprints, and developers are encouraged to do so, but they are often used for simple objects (lights and elevators), modifications of complex objects, and rapid prototyping.
Rapid prototyping is the key part of my explanation. Remember how there is "engine code" that, when compiled, opens an editor to run "game code" for any given project? Despite the E3 2012 demo, many changes in a project's C++ source require the editor to be shut down and reloaded when game code is compiled. This led people to use Blueprints as a prototyping tool, not because of its logical, visual layout, but because you could manipulate objects several times in just a couple of minutes and without closing the editor. Now C++ is said to be a first-class citizen in this regard (unfortunately I have not had time to test this). As long as you are not modifying the engine's code, just the C++ code associated with your project, your changes should be possible while remaining in editor.
Also updated, and finally supported by default, is Unreal Motion Graphics (UMG). UMG is a UI platform that is built upon Slate, which itself is the main UI platform for Unreal Engine 4 (Unreal Editor, for instance, is created with Slate). Basically, it extends Slate and includes a Flash Professional-like editor for it, complete with styles, animations, and scaling for high-DPI devices.
Because I am not in the DirectX 12 private beta, I am unsure whether that branch has been updated. Microsoft has announced that it was based on Unreal Engine 4.4. They have not said anything publicly since, at least not regarding that.
Unreal Engine 4.5 is available now for subscribers through GitHub or the Unreal Engine Launcher.
Subject: General Tech | October 17, 2014 - 07:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: forums, friday
It has been a while since we mentioned the PC Perspective Forums on the front page, except of course the Fragging Frogs who have been having a great time lately and have put together some amazing VLANs full of gaming, fun and hardware giveaways. There is a lot more than that hidden behind the tab at the top of the page for you to discover. For anyone who has read about the latest and greatest hardware on our news and reviews but who isn't quite certain about if the hardware is right for them, we have a variety of forums specifically targeting the various components that we talk about. I don't just mean GPUs and Cases or Motherboards and Processors, there is a forum specifically devoted to overclocking in general and for specific components as well. You can also comment on my current choices on the Hardware Leaderboard and get feedback on your own choice of components.
If you have a working machine but are looking for tips on how to deal with Steam on Linux or what Windows tweaks might help you out then you are covered and can join in with the gurus which hang out here. If networking is more your thing, be it a small LAN or suggestions on strange errors you are seeing in a large network environment then check out this forum which also contains information on setting up and securing your network and the clients attached to it. If you have some old kit you would love to trade off for different equipment or were hoping for a deal on some used components; well head on over to the Trading Post and browse through the offers.
On the other hand if you are looking to harness the power of your PC for something a little more altruistic than Bitcoin why not join the Folding Frogs in the hunt for new configurations proteins which could help cancer research or join the BOINC crew to chug SETI or any of the wide variety of projects available in that Distributed Computing network. If fun and games is more to your liking right now then the Off Topic board is always hopping with humour; however if a nice argument is more your style then join in The Lightning Round!
Your comments on our posts are always appreciated but there is a lot more to discover on PC Perspective when you look behind the front page.
Subject: General Tech | October 17, 2014 - 06:32 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: taleworlds, mount & blade
While it seems odd, it makes more sense once you realize that TaleWorlds is not actually developing it. The company supports its mod community and, for the second time, decided to promote one into a full DLC. The previous mod was Napoleonic Wars, developed by Flying Squirrel Entertainment, which is now a full independent game studio.
The expansion, Mount & Blade: Viking Conquest, is the commercialized and updated Brytenwalda mod. Being an external effort, I doubt that TaleWorlds diverted much resources away from Mount and Blade II: Bannerlords to release this expansion. As an added benefit, it might launch a new independent games company -- maybe even a virtual furniture and meatball franchise.
While the company has not announced online player counts yet, this engine is known for supporting hundreds of players. Napoleonic Wars regularly has servers with 200-player caps not including horses (although I have heard, but not seen, that people have pushed that up to 250). This could be very interesting for a Viking Age theme.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | October 17, 2014 - 03:22 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Thunderbolt 2, thunderbolt, mac mini, mac, Intel, haswell, apple
I was not planning to report on Apple's announcement but, well, this just struck me as odd.
So Apple has relaunched the Mac Mini with fourth-generation Intel Core processors, after two years of waiting. It is the same height as the Intel NUC, but it also almost twice the length and twice the width (Apple's 20cm x 20cm versus the NUC's ~11cm x 11cm when the case is included). So, after waiting through the entire Haswell architecture launch cycle, right up until the imminent release of Broadwell, they are going with the soon-to-be outdated architecture, to update their two-year-old platform?
((Note: The editorial originally said "two-year-old architecture". I thought that Haswell launched about six months earlier than it did. The mistake was corrected.))
I wonder if, following the iTunes U2 deal, this device will come bundled with Limp Bizkit's "Nookie"...
The price has been reduced to $499, which is a welcome $100 price reduction especially for PC developers who want a Mac to test cross-platform applications on. It also has Thunderbolt 2. These are welcome additions. I just have two, related questions: why today and why Haswell?
The new Mac Mini started shipping yesterday. 15-watt Broadwell-U is expected to launch at CES in January with 28W parts anticipated a few months later, for the following quarter.
Subject: General Tech | October 17, 2014 - 01:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Sad news again from AMD as roughly 710 employees from across the globe will be getting severance packages for Christmas. The cuts are likely to come from the Computing and Graphics division as they saw a 16% year-on-year decline in income. The Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom division saw a 21% increase and were the reason AMD's total income only dropped 2% when compared to this quarter last year. The news for the future is also not good, with The Inquirer reporting that AMD expects its revenues to slide another 10-16% per cent in the next quarter. Perhaps that is part of the reason Lisa Su will take home a salary that is $150K less than what Rory Read was earning.
"Following a grim earnings report on Thursday, AMD has announced a restructuring plan that includes axing seven per cent of its workforce by the end of the year.
The plan will see AMD issuing layoff notices to about 710 employees worldwide, and is expected to cost the chipmaker $57m in severance payment."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- TSMC to start production of 16nm process products in 2Q15 @ DigiTimes
- The New TrueCrypt - VeraCrypt Or CipherShed @ TechARP
- IBM announces Internet of Things cloud services @ The Inquirer
- iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 pre-orders go live at the Apple Store @ The Inquirer
- Devolo dLAN 500 WiFi Network Kit Review @ NikKTech
- Linksys SE4008 @ HardwareHeaven
- Introducing the F*Watch, a Fully Open Electronic Watch @ Hack a Day
Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2014 - 01:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: wireless, google, FCC
Google seems to be investigating a new way to extend their reach as an ISP, over and above Google Fibre and WiFi in Starbucks. They have applied to the FCC to test data communication on 1mm frequency waves between 5.8GHz and 24.2GHz frequency band as wll as 2mm waves from 71-76GHz and 81-86GHz. The wireless spectrum available continues to shrink as carriers bid on the remaining unclaimed frequencies which can penetrate the electronic noise that permeates highly populated areas and so companies are exploring frequencies which were not used in the past. From what The Inquirer was told, these particular frequencies could be capable of sending data at speeds of several gigabits per second bandwidth over short distances, that could really help reduce the cost of connecting new users to their fibre network as the last mile could be wireless, not wired.
"GOOGLE HAS FILED A REQUEST with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to test high-speed wireless spectrum at several locations in California."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Nexus 6 vs Nexus 5 specs comparison @ The Inquirer
- Android 5.0 Lollipop dominates this week's Google updates @ The Inquirer
- Sway: Microsoft's new Office app doesn't have an Undo function @ The Register
- Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First @ The Register
- CONNECTEDEVICE COOKOO 2 Watch Review @ Madshrimps
- Rollei CarDVR-120 GPS 1296p Car Camera Review @ NikKTech
- Linux Kernel Developer Work Spaces, Unplugged (Video): John Linville @ Linux.com
Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2014 - 01:16 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, nvidia, GTX 980, sli, 3-way sli, 4-way sli, amd, R9 290X, Samsung, 840 evo, Intel, corsair, HX1000i, gigabyte, Z97X-UD5H, Lenovo, yoga 3 pro, yoga tablet 2. nexus 9, tegra k1, Denver
PC Perspective Podcast #322 - 10/16/2014
Join us this week as we discuss GTX 980 4-Way SLI, Samsung's EVO Performance Fix, Intel Earnings 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, Josh Walrath, Morry Tietelman
Program length: 1:26:16
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
0:46:25 You Missed It! PCPer Live! Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Game Stream Powered by NVIDIA
0:48:20 Trio of Lenovo News
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Ryan: Sonos BOOST
Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2014 - 06:28 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: predix, Cisco, Intel, GM, verizon, Privacy, security
GM's Predix asset management platform has been used for a while now, after they came to the realization that they were in the top 20 of the largest software developers on the planet. They found that by networking the machines in their factories as well as products that have been shipped to customers and are seeing active use that they could increase the efficiency of their factories and their products. They were aiming for 1% increase, which when you consider the scale of these industries can equate to billions of dollars and in many cases they did see what they had hoped for.
Now Cisco and Intel have signed up to use the Predix platform for the same results, however they will be applying it to the Cloud and edge devices as well as the routers and switches Cisco specializes in. This should at the very least enhance the ability to monitor network traffic, predict resource shortages and handle outages with a very good possibility of a small increase in performance and efficiency across the board. This is good news to those who currently deal with the cloud but it is perhaps worth noting that you will be offering up your companies metrics to Predix and you should be aware of any possible security concerns that may raise because of that integration to another system. You could however argue that once you have moved to the cloud that this is already happening.
"GE, Intel, Cisco, and Verizon have announced a big data deal to connect Predix — GE’s software platform — to machines, systems, and edge devices regardless of manufacturer."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Flexible FinFETs work at high temperatures @ Nanotechweb
- Firefox 33 Arrives With OpenH264 Support @ Slashdot
- Intel 'underestimates error bounds by 1.3 QUINTILLION' @ The Register
- Linux Foundation announces Dronecode alliance for open source Drone ware @ The Inquirer
- NETGEAR AC750 WiFi Extender @ HardwareHeaven
- Apotop Wi-Copy @ Phoronix
Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2014 - 05:43 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Samsung, 802.11ad, wigig
Samsung Electronics, a member of the WiGig Alliance, has just announced an implementation that is capable of achieving 4.6 gigabit (575MB/s) speeds under the 802.11ad standard. Samsung claims that they have overcome "the barriers to commercialization" of wireless over 60GHz. This band has several disadvantages, including resonance with oxygen molecules (included under the blanket of "path loss" in the press release) and its opacity to many solid objects (referred to as "weak penetration properties" in the release).
Image Credit: Wikipedia
Some features that Samsung credits themselves with are beam-forming with less than four-tenths of a millisecond latency and the ability to track multiple devices simultaneously. Beam-forming in particular is said to help offset the mostly line-of-sight properties of earlier 60GHz prototypes. This allows the signal to be directed toward devices, typically by manipulating interference patterns to reduce the energy lost by transmitting to locations without a receiver and thus giving more energy to the locations that do.
Its usage as a product will mostly depend on how tolerant they are to non line-of-sight situations. This rate is comparable to a high-end SATA SSD. Samsung claims that it will be useful for their Smart Home and Internet of Things initiatives, similar to the Stanford and Berkeley announcement last month, but also mention it in terms of medical devices.
Subject: General Tech | October 13, 2014 - 11:57 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: processors, microprocessor, FinFET, fab
Ah, Solid State Physics. Semiconductors are heavily based on this branch, because it explains the physical (mechanical, electrical, thermal, etc.) properties of solids based on how their atoms are organized. These properties lead into how transistors function, and why.
Put it back, Allyn.
Anandtech has published a seven-page article that digs into physics and builds upon itself. It starts with a brief explanation of conductivity and what makes up the difference between a conductor, an insulator, and a semiconductor. It uses that to build a simple transistor. From there it explains logic gates, wafers, and lithography. It works up to FinFETs and then keeps going into the future. It is definitely not an article for beginners, but it can be progressed from start to finish given enough effort on the part of the reader.
While this was not mentioned in the article, at least not that I found, you can derive the number of atoms per "feature" by dividing its size by the lattice-distance of the material. For silicon, that is about half of a nanometer at room temperature. For instance, 14nm means that we are manufacturing features that are defined by less than 30 atoms (up to rounding error). The article speculates a bit about what will happen after the era of silicon. This is quite interesting to me, particularly since I did my undergraduate thesis (just an undergrad thesis) on photonic crystals, which route optical light across manufactured defects in an otherwise opaque solid to make an optical integrated circuit. It has the benefit of, with a mixture of red, orange, and maybe green lasers, being able to "go plaid".
If you are interested, be sure to read the article. It is a bit daunting, but much more manageable than most sources. Congratulations to Joshua Ho and anyone else who might have been involved.
Subject: General Tech | October 11, 2014 - 04:11 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, windows, update
I cannot help but think of Adobe Creative Cloud when I read Peter Bright report on Windows 10's update schedule. Previously, we would have general security and stability updates for Windows with the occasional Service Pack to roll updates together and sometimes introduce new features. Now, users might be able to choose how quickly to apply these updates, opt-out of everything but security patches, and/or accept experimental features.
I say "might" because this is not technically a Microsoft announcement. Windows 10 has a new user interface, along with a few registry entries, for users to choose update frequency and development branches. The company would not say whether the Windows Insider program would continue after release, but the assumption is that it would be around for enthusiasts and IT testers to prepare for (and influence) upcoming changes. Think of it like an OS equivalent to the prerelease versions of Chrome and Firefox.
The article also suggests that the version number could periodically increase and that this initiative would replace Service Packs.
And this is where it feels a lot like Creative Cloud. Rather than waiting for an 18-month release schedule, Adobe is able to push out features at their leisure. Initially, I expected that this would lead to stagnation, but I do not see many complaints about that. On the other hand, it also pushed Adobe's software into a subscription service, which is something that people have been anticipating (and fearing with some) for quite some time now. Alternatively, it could be setting up Microsoft to subsidize Windows with online services. Either way, it could make it harder for them to justify incrementing the major version number.
Subject: General Tech, Networking | October 11, 2014 - 01:42 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sdn, nfv, networking, Hierofalcon, arm, amd
AMD, in cooperation with Aricent and Mentor Graphics, recently demonstrated the first ARM-based Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) solution at ARM TechCon. The demonstration employed AMD's Embedded R-Series "Hierofalcon" SoC virtualizing a Mobile Packet Core running subscriber calls. The 64-bit ARM chip is now sampling to customers and will be generally available in the first half of next year (1H 2015). The AMD NFV Reference Solution is aimed at telecoms for use in communications network backbones where AMD believes an ARM solution will offer reduced costs (both initial and operational) and increased network bandwidth.
The NFV demonstration of the Mobile Packet Core entailed virtualizing a Packet Data Network Gateway, Serving Gateway, Mobility Management Entity, and virtualized Wireless Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) applications. AMD further demonstrated live traffic migration between ARM-based Embedded-R and x86-based second generation R-Series APU solutions. NFV is related to, but independent of, software defined networking (SDN). Network Functions Virtualization is essentially the virtualizing of network appliances with specific functions and performing those functions virtually using generic servers. For example, NFV can virtualize firewalls, gateways, load balancers, intrusion detection, DNS, NAT, and caching functions. NFV virtualizes the upper networking layers (layers 4-7) and can allow virtual tunnels through a network that can then be assigned functions (such as those listed above) on a per-VM or per flow basis. NFV eliminates the need for specialized hardware appliances by virtualizing these functions on generic servers which have traditionally been exclusively x86 based. AMD is hoping to push ARM (and it's own ARM-based SoCs) into this market by touting even further capital expenditure and operational costs versus x86 (and, in turn, versus specialized hardware that serves the entire network whereas NFV can be more exactly provisioned).
It is an interesting take on a lucrative networking market which is dealing with 1.4 Zetabytes of global IP traffic per year. I'm interested to see if the telecoms and other enterprise network customers will bite and give AMD a slice of this pie on the low end and low power fronts.
AMD "Hierofalcon" Embedded R Series SoC
Hierofalcon is the code name for AMD's 64-bit SoC with ARM CPU cores intended for the embedded market. The SoC is a 15W to 30W chip featuring up to eight ARM Cortex-A57 CPU cores capable of hitting 2GHz, two 64-bit ECC capable DDR3 or DDR4 memory channels, 10Gb Ethernet, PCI-E 3.0, ARM TrustZone, and a cryptographic security co-processor.The TechCon demonstration was also used to launch the AMD NFV Reference Solution which is compliant with OpenDataPlane platform. The reference platform includes a networking software stack from Aricent and an Embedded Linux OS and software tools (Sourcery CodeBench) from Mentor Graphics. The OpenDataPlane demonstration featured the above mentioned Evolved Packet Core application on the Hierofalcon 64-bit ARM SoC. Additionally, the x86-based R-Series APU, OpenStack, and Data Plane Development Kit all make up the company's NFV reference solution.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 10, 2014 - 03:58 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: yoga tablet 2, tablet, qhd, lenovo yoga, Lenovo, ips display, intel atom, business
Yesterday, Lenovo revealed a barrage of products at an event in London including two new convertible laptops and new 8-inch and 10-inch tablets running Windows and Android. The final bit of new hardware to round out the new tablet lineup is the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro which is a larger version of the Yoga Tablet 2 with several tweaks specifically aimed at media consumption with focus on high quality audio and video.
The new tablet is a 13-inch tablet weighing 2.09 pounds and is 0.1-0.5” thick. Available in silver, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro shares a similar form factor with its smaller siblings including a 180-degree rotating kickstand with a cutout to allow hanging on a wall or the back of an airplane seat. The Pro model further adds a button on the side that pops out the kickstand which is not present on the non-Pro models.
The device is dominated by a large 13.3” QHD 2560x1440 IPS multi-touch display. The JBL audio is improved on the Pro model and includes two 1.5W front facing stereo speakers in addition to a rear 5W subwoofer. A 1.6MP webcam and 8MP rear camera with auto focus remains consistent with the Tablet 2 tablets. Lenovo has added a Pico projector exclusive to the Tablet 2 Pro that is capable of displaying a WVGA (854x480) resolution image up to 50” at between 40-50 lumens. External I/O includes a micro USB (OTG capable) port, 3.5mm audio jack, and one micro SD card slot.
The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is powered by a quad core Intel Atom Z3745 clocked at 1.86 GHz with 2MB cache, 2GB RAM, and 32GB of internal storage (expandable by up to a 64GB micro SD card). Wireless radios include dual band 802.11 b/g/n and optional 4G (WCDMA 900/2100) which will not be available in the US. According to Lenovo, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro has a battery life of up to 15 hours.
Curiously, the tablet is running Android 4.4 KitKat rather than Windows 8.1. As such, this is a high end tablet that likely will appeal to consumers wanting a quality media consumption device despite the exclusive (to the Pro) hardware bits that would otherwise appeal to business professionals wanting to create and deliver presentations (which was my first thought when seeing the hardware specifications). With that said, the display and audio are sure to please media enthusiasts. I have reached out to Lenovo for comment on the absence of Bluetooth support (mainly regarding keyboard support) in the documentation and will update the article if I receive a response.
The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro will be available soon with an MSRP of $499. For comparison, the 10-inch Tablet 2 Android has an MSRP of $299. The $200 premium gets up a larger (and higher resolution) display, better potential audio, a projector, and a bit more internal storage space albeit at the cost of slightly shorter battery life.
Subject: General Tech | October 10, 2014 - 01:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: topre, NovaTouch TKL, mechanical keyboard, cooler master, Cherry MX
That is not a typo, the NovaTouch TKL is currently selling for $240 on Amazon, and you don't even get a numpad. However if you are a keyboard aficionado, which obviously some people are, the mix of Topre switches and Cherry MX caps may just take your fingers to typing nirvana. The latter was certainly the conclusion at The Tech Report who found the Topre Cherry MX mix to be uniquely satisfying and preferred it to the other expensive keyboards they have tried recently. If you are looking for something special to type on and don't have a tendency to drink near your computer then you should check out the review, if you are more prone to spillage you might want to give this one a miss.
CoolerMaster would like to point out that the MSRP for the NovaTouch TKL is actually $199 USD and you can occaisonally find it for a bit less. Also to be fair, The Tech Report is not kidding when they describe the $200 keyboard market as crowded ... there are a lot of $200 keyboards, just none on my desk.
"This $200 keyboard from Cooler Master features genuine Topre switches modified to fit Cherry MX key caps. Is it a good mix? We investigate."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- CM Storm NovaTouch TKL Premium Keyboard Review @ Modders-Inc
- Tesoro Lobera and Gandiva @ HardwareHeaven
- Tesoro Lobera Supreme Mechanical Gaming Keyboard @ eTeknix
- Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review @ Legit Reviews
- Corsair Gaming Vengeance K70 RGB @ Kitguru
- ROCCAT TALK FX @ Bechmark Reviews
- Roccat Tyon Mouse @ HardwareHeaven
- COUGAR 700M Gaming Mouse Review @ NikKTech
- Cougar 700M Gaming Mouse @ Benchmark Reviews
- GAMDIAS ZEUS Laser Gaming Mouse @ Tech ARP
- Zowie FK1 @ HardwareHeaven
- Aorus Thunder M7 Gaming Mouse @ eTeknix