CES 2014: SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive at Storage Visions

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2014 - 10:04 PM |
Tagged: wireless, sandisk, flash, CES 2014, CES

While at Storage Visions I checked out the new SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive. This is a flash drive capable as also doubling as a wireless network storage device - and it can do so under it's own power for 3-4 hours.

I really like the idea of such a device. Need several people to access the stuff on your drive? Click one button and you can! It charges off of the same USB connection used to connect it locally (i.e. the 'old school' way). Here's a closer view:

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CES 2014: A quick word with Samsung on SSD Magician, Firmware Updates, and Full Drive Encryption

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2014 - 09:38 PM |
Tagged: SSD Magician, Samsung, CES 2014, CES

While at Storage Visions, I had a quick word with Chris Geiser of Samsung. Over the past few weeks there have been updates to 840 (PRO / EVO) SSD Firmware as well as to their SSD Magician software. These updates enable increased performance as well as full drive encryption (with no performance loss whatsoever). Check out the video below for full details:

So long story short, if you own these drives, consider updating your Magician Software, SSD firmware, and start protecting your data with full drive encryption. As always with any firmware upgrade, even though Samsung updates are non-destructive, it's a good idea to back up first regardless.

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CES 2014: Lenovo All-In-Ones

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2014 - 07:00 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, CES 2014, CES, all-in-one

Apple was famous for cramming as much PC hardware into a monitor as possible. At first, when the monitor was CRT-based, it looked weird. As monitors thinned, the computers became more classy. Leave it to the PC industry to fight over the smallest of details in order to get an edge over their competition. Several companies have been trying out various permutations of that idea and they sometimes hone in on one or more niches. Lenovo has four of these all-in-one PCs: the Horizon II, the N308, the A740, and the C560 Touch.

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The Lenovo Horizon II is up first. We reviewed the original Horizon and Ryan enjoyed it for the 2 hours of battery life he was able to surf the web on. He found the tabletop design very fun to play Monopoly with friends on. Its performance was not too bad either (although Battlefield 3 and Bioshock Infinite are no-gos). The Horizon II gives the option of a resolution boost from 1080p to 1440p and, if you are not feeling particularly attached to your money: options for a Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a GeForce GTX 840A.

Maybe Battlefield is now... on the table... snicker snicker.

The Aura interface has been updated to version 2.0 and it interacts with phones via NFC. Speaking of mobile, the battery life is now expected to reach 4 hours per charge which would double what Ryan experienced if accurate. The Horizon II is also thinner and lighter with a weight of just 15.4 lbs which is over 3 lbs more light than the 18.95 lbs of the original Horizon.

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The Lenovo N308 is a step in a different direction. This Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 device includes an NVIDIA Tegra quad core processor with 2 GB of RAM. It has up to 3 hours of battery life and is a slightly more portable 19.5 inches (1600x900). It is still 10 lbs, though. It also has a gravity sensor which is great if you are playing a motion control game on this thing. No option for a wrist strap which is a blessing and a curse, I guess, when you're slinging around a 20-inch tablet? I think this is one of those things that will make more sense in person. Prices start at $449.

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The Lenovo A740 is more like a typical all-in-one computer. Monitor, stand, up to a Core i7 processor, up to a GeForce GTX 800 series GPU, 1TB HDD. The 27-inch display has a 1440p resolution and 10-finger touch sensor. The stand can also dip significantly which allows for 100 degrees of tilt. Prices start at $1499.

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Last, but not least, is the C560 Touch All-in-One PC. Starting at $549, it is Lenovo's budget all-in-one. It has a 23-inch 1080p touchscreen albeit one that can only track 5 fingers (which is still probably more than enough). You can give it up to 8 GB of memory and 2 TB of storage. All of this can be driven by a Haswell processor up to a Core i7 and an NVIDIA GeForce 705A 1GB GPU. The system is loaded with Windows 8.1. Nothing special with the stand. It stands up straight and looks interesting.

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Source: Lenovo

CES 2014: Lenovo ThinkPad and ThinkVision Products

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2014 - 07:00 PM |
Tagged: Thinkpad, Lenovo, CES 2014, CES

The professional line of products from Lenovo includes: a 28-inch 4K display, another 28-inch 4K display which moonlights as an Android tablet, a proper tablet powered by Bay Trail, and a laptop which might crack a smile from fans of the Optimus keyboard. If any of these devices gets your attention then you might be glad to know that each of them is under $1300 base price.

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I don't want to believe that it's just a badly Photoshopped "simulated image"... but...

First up is the ThinkVision Pro2840m 4K Display which is a professional-grade 28-inch 3840x2160 monitor for $799. The image gets me excited for the thin bezel although a separate press deck (seen below) shows a visibly different monitor, with the same model number, having a more-standard border. Cross your fingers and hope that it looks more like the above image than the one below. I find it doubtful, however, but I digress either way.

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... it is probably a significantly larger bezel.

Lenovo does not mention the panel type but they advertise a 5ms response time and a 1000:1 contrast ratio. It has a 10bit color depth and a 72% color gamut which I am hoping refers to Adobe RGB which puts it roughly on par with my Wacom Cintiq 22HD. It could be 72% sRGB coverage, though, which would be problematic (especially for a professional panel).

Note that contrast ratio claims are messed with constantly. Most of these million-to-one claims are measured at separate times and often in separate environments. There have been tales of "black measurements" being taken in laboratory-controlled dark rooms with the panels off and white values recorded directly against the backlight. Static contrast ratios, measured with a black and white checkerboard pattern, are often not too far away from 1000:1. Plasma and OLED panels can get significantly better, however.

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Up next is the ThinkVision 28 Smart 4K Display. While it is also a 28-inch 3840x2160 monitor, it also has an integrated NVIDIA Tegra processor. This is basically a 28-inch Android 4.4 (KitKat) tablet, which can also be your computer monitor, for $1199.

Lenovo carefully wrote Latest Nvidia Tegra processor and ThinkVision 28 is expected to launch in July. This would be a year after the Tegra 4 launch and right around the rumored launch window of Logan (Q2 2014). This could be a launch-window release for the next Tegra. If so, this would be Android powered by Kepler.

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On the topic of tablets: the ThinkPad 8. Lenovo's idea of an 8.3-inch 1080p business tablet is one powered by Bay Trail for x86 support backed by up to 8 GB of RAM. Because it support x86, it is preloaded with Windows 8.1 and Microsoft Office. You can choose between 32, 64, and 128 GB of SSD storage and then later insert a MicroSD card for more storage. Prices are expected to start at $399.

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Lastly: The ThinkPad X1 Carbon. This 14-inch Ultrabook has voice and gesture control along with a programmable touch strip. The touch strip is quite interesting: it is a long, narrow, and apparently flexible LCD touchscreen. As programs open and close, its hotkeys will change accordingly. They do not say whether the user can control these or whether they are using baked profiles but, regardless, it is an interesting step.

The laptop itself has up to 8 GB of RAM, up to 512 GB of SSD storage, Haswell-based processors, and up to a 2560x1440 IPS display. Only Wireless-N is possible but it also integrates NFC for some reason. The battery allows for 8 hours on a single charge and, in under an hour of being plugged in, it is full again. Its GPU is the built-in GT3 which is Intel HD 5000 graphics. Prices start at $1299 (although one slide says $1199).

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Source: Lenovo

CES 2014: Lenovo Convertables, Tablets, and Laptops (Part 2) Y40 & Y50 Touch (with optional 4K), Z40 & Z50

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2014 - 07:00 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, GeForce 800M, CES 2014, CES, 4k

For the lover of a more conventional clamshell laptop, Lenovo has four models announced at CES. They do not need a special hinge to avoid the ho-hum. Some of these models have options for GeForce 800-series mobile and Radeon M200-series graphics. Some have options of 802.11ac (and others have it standard). One of the four even includes an option for a 4K panel.

Did I get your attention? Read on.

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The Lenovo Y40 and Y50 are their gaming class notebooks with relatively high-performance components. The aesthetic is sort-of flat edges and bevels which looks pretty crisp. The dimensions and weight "start at" under an inch thick and 5.3lbs. Options will be available up to 16 GB of RAM and a 1TB hybrid hard drive with 8 GB of SSD caching. It also appears as if 802.11ac wireless comes standard. You have a choice between 14-inch and 15.6-inch Full HD screens or, for the Y50, you can bump the resolution up to 3840x2160 for some mobile 4K.

The Y50 can be powered by as much as an Intel Core i7-4702HQ processor and an NVIDIA GTX 860M 2GB GPU. This graphics solution is currently unannounced but rumors (just rumors) claim it will have about 1.4 TeraFLOPs of performance from 960 shading units. This puts it a little bit behind the Xbox One in terms of peak shader performance however it is also laptop graphics. If the rumors hold true it should be just slightly behind a GeForce 650 Ti. Perhaps we will learn more as CES continues.

Prices start at around $500.

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The Lenovo Z40 and Z50, on the other hand, are their more mainstream laptops. Still, they are capable of upgrades up to an Intel Core i7 with GeForce 800-series graphics. They can include up to 16 GB of RAM and up to a 1TB HDD (with extra options for 8GB SSD caching). The laptop comes default with 802.11 b/g/n but can be upgraded to 802.11ac if desired. They come standard with a 1080p touchscreen display.

More interestingly, prices start at just under $400 (although clearly with less RAM, CPU, and GPU than the up to listings). Lenovo claims you can have "up to Windows 8.1" which makes me wonder if Windows 7 options will be available. That could be interesting if true.

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Source: Lenovo

CES 2014: Lenovo Convertables, Tablets, and Laptops (Part 1) MIIX 2 10 & 11, Yoga 2 11 & 13, Flex 14D & 15D

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2014 - 07:00 PM |
Tagged: Yoga 2, MIIX, Lenovo, Flex, CES 2014, CES

On the third of January, Lenovo unveiled the line-up of smartphones which they will present at CES. The company is best known for PCs, however, and they obviously have plenty of those at the show as well. This post will cover three unconventional laptop announcements which borrow a little bit of design from the tablet universe.

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The Lenovo MIIX 2 10 is a 10.1-inch detachable computer which integrates an Intel Atom quad core processor. This model does not list its RAM options but I expect 2 GB (although 4 GB is possible). Since it uses an Intel Atom processor, it includes Windows 8.1 (and not Windows RT like those based on ARM SoCs). Lenovo claims 8-hour "All-day" battery life. Prices start at $499.

The MIIX 2 11 is a similar detachable computer with an 11.6-inch 1080p screen. More than just the screen size changes, however, as its processor gets a significant boost up to a Core i5 1.6 GHz backed by 8 GB of RAM. SSD capacities will range from 64 GB up to 256 GB. The price for this one starts a few hundred dollars north of the 10-inch model at $799 and up.

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The Lenovo Yoga 2 is also available in 11 and 13-inch models. The Yoga is known for its hinge between the screen and the body (and, specifically, its wide range of options). You will be able to use it as a standard clamshell notebook or flip it around and use the keyboard as a stand for the touchscreen. If you want to go all the way, you can also open the hinge so that the back of the monitor touches the back of the keyboard and use it as a standard tablet. The two models vary significantly in specifications above and beyond the size of the screen.

The Yoga 2 11 is built around an 11.6-inch 1366x768 IPS touchscreen and includes an Intel Bay Trail processor. Because it is an x86-based processor, it will run Windows 8.1. Again, Lenovo does not mention the RAM choices available for the Bay Trail version. Storage will be available in either a 500GB hard drive with 16GB of SSD caching or, in some areas, potentially a 256GB SSD. It will have up to 8 hours of battery life. Prices should start in the mid-$500s USD.

The Yoga 2 13 is built around a 13.3-inch 1080p IPS touchscreen. The processor is a Haswell-based Core i5 backed by up to 8 GB of RAM. Storage will be either a 500GB hard drive with 16 GB of SSD caching or, in some areas, a 256GB SSD. Unlike the 11-inch, the 13-inch model will also include a backlit keyboard. It will have up to 8 hours of battery life. Prices for the 13-inch model start at $999.

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The Lenovo Flex is like a Yoga that did not do as much Yoga as the Yoga. They cannot bend entirely backwards to become a tablet but they can flip 300 degrees to become a stand-up tablet. They can also be used as a standard touchscreen laptop in clamshell mode.

The Flex 14D is a 14-inch 1366x768 touchscreen with up to 8GB of RAM and an AMD APU up to an A6-5200. Lenovo also claims that you will be able to choose up to an HD 8570 GPU (which might be discrete). For storage, you will have the choice between a 1 TB HDD or a 500 GB SSHD with 16 GB of SSD caching. You can also opt for a backlit keyboard. Lenovo claims up to 9 hours of battery life and, of course, full Windows 8.1.

The Flex 15D, unlike the trend from the Yoga and MIIX series, is very similar to the 14D. The main difference is the 15.6" touchscreen with the same resolution (1366x768). Prices for this line start at under $500 USD and range up to about $800 USD.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

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Source: Lenovo

CES 2014: Gigabyte Hosting Extreme Overclocking Event

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Shows and Expos | January 3, 2014 - 11:28 PM |
Tagged: overclocking, gigabyte, CES 2014, CES, brix

Gigabyte will be hosting the 2014 CES Extreme Overclocking Event in Las Vegas next week. The event will see overclocking talent such as Hicookie and Dinos22 (and other overclockers from around the world) attempt to break world overclocking records on the company's Z87X-OC motherboards The event is sponsored by Gigabyte, Intel, G.Skill, and Enermax who will respectively provide Haswell Core i7 processors, DDR3 memory modules, and power supplies.

CES 2014 Gigabyte Extreme Overclocking Event.jpg

If you are headed to CES or live in the area, the event will be held on January 6th from 2pm to 7pm at the Caesar's Palace Convention Center in the Octavius Ballroom (rooms five and six). The address is as follows:

Caesar’s Palace Convention Center

Octavius Ballroom 5 & 6

3570 Las Vegas Boulevard

Las Vegas, NV 89109

Attendees can expect to see overclocking competitions, attempts at world records, and a large showcase of Gigabyte products which will be on display. Food and refreshments will be available as well.

As mentioned, in addition to overclocking, Gigabyte will be showing off its latest motherboards and compact BRIX computers. Motherboards include the Z87X-OC, Z87X-UD7-TH, G1.Sniper, and Mini ITX F2A88XN-WiFi. On the mini PC front, Gigabyte is showing off the BRIX Pro (Intel i7 4770R with Iris Pro Graphics 5200) and BRIX Projector (75 lumen LED backlit projector and stereo speakers) machines.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more CES 2014 news as it develops.

Will you be attending the 2014 CES Extreme Overclocking event?

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Gigabyte

CES 2014: Lenovo Smartphones - Vibe Z, A859, S930, S650

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 2, 2014 - 08:01 AM |
Tagged: Vibe Z, S930, S650, Lenovo, CES 2014, CES, A859

Lenovo is the leading PC manufacturer worldwide. They have been doing things consistently right in that industry and it shows with year-over-year growth in an otherwise global decline. At the same time, they have been attempting to carve their segment in the smartphone industry. They will bring four models to this year's CES ranging in price from $200 up to $550. Each phone is expected to be available this year.

The Vibe Z is their first LTE phone and the highest performance of all the models the will bring to CES this year. The phone itself weights slightly less than a third of a pound and is also slightly less than a third of an inch thick. The 5.5-inch full HD screen (400 PPI) is, of course, based on IPS technology which is common to phones because of the wide viewing angles they encourage.

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Lenovo Vibe Z

Lenovo calls a 5.5-inch 400 PPI screen, "20/20 Vision Display". Of course that overlooks several assumptions and unknown variables in much the same way as Apple's "Retina" moniker does. 400 PPI is great but does not directly relate to human vision.

The Vibe Z (starting at $549) will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC backed with 2 GB of RAM. Up to 16 GB of persistent storage will be included. It will include two cameras: a wide-angle 5 MP front camera and a 13 MP rear camera with a maximum aperture of f1.8. This is a wide ratio which should significantly assist low light performance when depth of field blur is not a problem (or when it is desired for a soft background effect). The phone will use Android 4.3 and Google Play.

Interestingly, the phone will also integrate 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0. There should be plenty of bandwidth to stream HD videos from media servers around the house.

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Lenovo S930

The S930 (starting at $319) and the S650 (starting at $229) will be based on Android 4.2 and feature a quad core 1.3 GHz SoC from MediaTek (likely MT6582) backed by 1 GB of RAM. Both will contain dual SIM card slots and an 8 MP rear camera. They are less than a millimeter more thick than the Vibe Z. Both contain 8 GB of storage.

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Lenovo S650

The S930 and S650 diverge from there. The S930 has a 6-inch 720p screen and two speakers with Dolby Digital Plus. The S650 has a 4.7-inch screen at a resolution of 960x540 and no mention of speakers (although it probably has one). The S650 also has a microSDHC storage slot allowing for up to 32 GB of expansion.

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Lenovo A859

The last phone is the A859 (starting at $219). This 5-inch 720p phone is a slightly larger than the others. It also contains a 1.3 GHz SoC from MediaTek and 1 GB of RAM. It has 8 GB of internal storage which can be expanded by up to 32 GB with a microSDHC card. It will be powered by Android 4.2.2.

Expect to see more from Lenovo as CES coverage continues.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Lenovo

It's Internet Explorer Tan (Not Ten) & I Don't Understand It.

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | November 7, 2013 - 03:56 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, IE11, AFA 2013

Marketing decisions at Microsoft can be... different. If you include internal videos, you might see Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer in a Volkswagon parody ad. They abandon a Sun workstation on the side of a road with trash. I guess electronics recycling was not a thing back then.

The large white characters over the big monster at the end, "つづく", means "[to] be continued".

Expect more of these (perhaps at Anime Festival Asia?)

Internet Explorer Tan mixes the weirdness of Microsoft with the peculiarity of Anime culture. Inori Aizawa (藍澤 祈) is the semi-personification of Internet Explorer. The character describes herself as slow, clumsy, and awkward when she was younger. She stars in a two-minute cartoon created, apparently internally, by Microsoft Singapore. They snuck in more than a few subtle references.

For a bit of humor, her first name (, given names follow family names in Japanese) is romanized to Inori (祈り) as above. That word means "prayer" (and without the suffix, "praying" apparently). Again, this was created internally by Microsoft.

And, you know what? I believe that a well maintained Internet Explorer, if Microsoft can successfully focus on devices and services, will be their grace. Trident (IE's rendering engine) caught up to the standards-compliant ones and, if they continue to push the pack forward, can sell devices on its great experience. The other browsers need Internet Explorer to keep them innovating just as much as IE needs them.

It makes me smile. That could be my brain stuck in a bootloop, but it makes me smile. Almost every frame I look at has a reference to something. Still don't really understand it though.

Source: Microsoft

(The Verge) Valve's Steam Machine and Steam Controller

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | November 4, 2013 - 03:36 PM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Machine, steam os, CES 2014

I guess The Verge, with its Steam Machine photos, prove all three next-gen consoles (trollolol) are designed to look like home theater devices. Of course you will never be able to purchase a Steam Machine from Valve but, since they are releasing their CAD files, I am sure at least one Steam Machine will be exactly to reference spec.

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Image Source: The Verge

And, for the record, I think the reference enclosure is classy. Living room appliances suit a lot better than kitchen ones.

On a serious note: pictures of the internals. The beta Steam Machines will contain full desktop components aligned in such a way that each has its own sector to breathe from. The hottest parts intake and exhaust as far away from one another as possible. This makes the chassis relatively wide and short: a video card's length, in depth; about 3 expansion slots, tall; and about 3 PCIe cards height, wide. The actual measurements are 12" x 12" x 3" (W x D x H).

Steam-Machine-Open.jpg

Photo Credit: The Verge

This is mostly possible because the GeForce Titan GPU is mounted upside-down and parallel with the motherboard. I have never experienced a 90-degree PCIe extension slot but, according to Josh Walrath, this is a common accessory in servers (especially 1U and 2U racks). The Titan intakes downward into a relatively unoccupied section of the case and exhausts out the back.

The Verge also had some things to say about the Steam Controller. The design motivations are interesting but I will leave that discussion to the original article (this news post will be long enough when I'm done with it). There are two points that I would like to bring up, though:

The first is a clarification of the original Steam Controller announcement: Valve will produce and sell Steam Controller on its own. This was originally a big question mark as it could water down how "reference" Valve's controller actually is. With Valve taking all-the-reins, the hardware looks more set in stone.

Will Valve still allow OEMs to learn from their design? Who knows.

The second is also interesting.

What Valve left out of the Steam Controller is almost as intriguing as what went in. Though Valve co-founder Gabe Newell told us that the company wanted to put biometric sensors into game controllers, the team discovered that hands weren't a good source of biofeedback since they were always moving around. However, the team hinted to me — strongly — that an unannounced future VR headset might measure your body's reaction to games at the earlobe. Such a device could know when you’re scared or excited, for instance, and adjust the experience to match.

Seeing Google, Valve, and possibly Apple all approach content delivery, mobile, home theater, and wearable computing... simultaneously... felt like there was a heavy link between them. This only supports that gut feeling. I believe this is the first step in a long portfolio integrating each of these seemingly unrelated technologies together. We should really watch how these companies develop these technologies: especially in relation to their other products.

Stay tuned for CES 2014 in early January. This will be the stage for Valve's hardware and software partners to unbutton their lips and spill their guts. I'm sure Josh and Ryan will have no problems cleaning it all up.

Source: The Verge

ARM TechCon 2013 Will Showcase the Internet of Things

Subject: Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | October 26, 2013 - 11:13 AM |
Tagged: techcon, iot, internet of things, arm

This year at the Santa Clara Convention Center ARM will host TechCon, a gathering of partners, customers, and engineers with the goal of collaboration and connection.  While I will attending as an outside observer to see what this collection of innovators is creating, there will be sessions and tracks for chip designers, system implementation engineers and software developers.

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Areas of interest will include consumer products, enterprise products and of course, the Internet of Things, the latest terminology for a completely connected infrastructure of devices.  ARM has designed tracks for interested parties in chip design, data security, mobile, networking, server, software and quite a few more. 

Of direct interest to PC Perspective and our readers will be the continued release of information about the Cortex-A12, the upcoming mainstream processor core from ARM that will address the smartphone and tablet markets.  We will also get some time with ARM engineers to talk about the coming migration of the market to 64-bit.  Because of the release of the Apple A7 SoC that integrated 64-bit and ARMv8 architecture earlier this year, it is definitely going to be the most extensively discussed topic. If you have specific questions you'd like us to bring to the folks at ARM, as well as its partners, please leave me a note in the comments below and I'll be sure it is addressed!

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I am also hearing some rumblings of a new ARM developed Mali graphics product that will increase efficiency and support newer graphics APIs as well. 

Even if you cannot attend the event in Santa Clara, you should definitely pay attention for the news and products that are announced and shown at ARM TechCon as they are going to be a critical part of the mobile ecosystem in the near, and distant, future.  As a first time attendee myself, I am incredibly excited about what we'll find and learn next week!

Mozilla Summit 2013, Day 3: Toronto Office Tour and Games!

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | October 7, 2013 - 11:55 PM |
Tagged: Mozilla Summit 2013, mozilla

Summit 2013 came to an end on Sunday after a few closing keynotes, breakout sessions, a tour of the Mozilla Toronto campus, and interpretive dancing of what the fox says. Do not worry, Mozillians in our audience, I will only interpretively illustrate the interpretive dance with a totally unironic Shockwave Flash screenshot.

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Real smooth moves, indeed.

On the topic of Flash demos, the first session I attended included an extended preview of Shumway. As discussed in Day 2, the project intends to keep Flash content alive after the platform fades. A few demos were shown to attendees including a signification portion of the HomestarRunner email, "Your Friends", where Strong Bad harms the entire cast except himself and The Poopsmith (and other off-cast or yet-to-be-introduced characters, of course). The video played just about perfectly.

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BananaBread OF DOOM!

"Bananabread" was also modified into a special demo showing live textures from video elements. The game even projected a separate game of Doom against the wall of the level. This can, of course, be used for non-gaming projects as well; projects have been developed to use shader effects on web camera video for GPU-accelerated post-processing tasks.

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The closing ceremonies followed the breakout sessions and mostly thanked their community. A few "Mozillians" were voted by their peers for their popular influence and were recognized with signed posters and, in one case, a paid trip to any Mozilla campus in the world. Plus, people were hugged by a fox; a picture is worth a thousand words.

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The last event of the day, at least the last one relevant to a computer hardware website, was a tour of the Mozilla Toronto campus. The office is structured in departments around a central kitchen, restroom, and discussion area. They attempt to have a sort-of Canadian cottage feel with a couple of Adirondack chairs and a wood-beam ceiling. There is also a group of desks called "Benoits St." because, well, it just so happens everyone who works in that section is named Benoit.

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Community Room with its reconfigurable tables and musical corner.

Thus ends the coverage of Mozilla Summit 2013, Toronto.

Source: Mozilla

Mozilla Summit 2013, Day 2: APCs and Servos in a Flash

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | October 6, 2013 - 01:14 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, Mozilla Summit 2013

The second day of Mozilla Summit 2013 kicked off with three more keynote speeches, a technology fair, and two blocks of panels. After two days and about two dozen demos, several extremely experimental, I am surprised to only see one legitimate demo fail attempting to connect two 3D browser games in multiplayer over WebRTC… and that seemed to be the fault of a stray automatic Windows Update on the host PC.

Okay technically another demo “failed” because an audience member asked, from the crowd, to browse a Mozilla Labs browser prototype, Servo, to an arbitrary website which required HTTPS and causing the engine to nope. I do not count that one.

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Speaking of Servo, the HTML rendering engine ended the “Near Term Strategy and the Products we Build” keynote with an announcement of its full score to ACID1. The engine, developed in Mozilla’s own RUST language, is a sandbox for crazy ideas such as, “What would happen if you allow Javascript to execute in its own thread when it would normally be blocked by Gecko?” Basically any promising task to parallelize is being explored (they openly solicit community insights) in making the web browser better suited for the current and upcoming multi- and many-core devices out there. Samsung is also involved on the project, which makes sense for their mobile products.

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Also discussed is Shumway, a Javascript rendering engine for Flash content. Candy Crush Saga was presented as an example of a game, entirely reliant on Flash, playing without the plugin installed in a similar way to how WINE allows Windows applications within Linux. Shumway has been known for a while but is becoming quite effective in its performance. What happens to content after Flash becomes deprecated (be it 3 years, 10 years, or 100 years) has been a concern of mine with videos such as HomestarRunner holding cultural relevance despite not updating in almost 3 years.

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Lastly, we saw a demo of the APC Paper which is expected to lead Firefox OS into the desktop market. It is actually a little smaller than I expected from the pictures.

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One more day before everyone heads home. So far not much has happened but I will keep you updated as things occur.

Source: Mozilla

Mozilla Summit 2013, Day 1: Unreal Engine and UP

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | October 5, 2013 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, Mozilla Summit 2013

I have volunteered with Mozilla starting about a month after I read the Windows Store certification requirements (prior to that I was ramping up development of modern apps). I am currently attending, due to that volunteer work, Mozilla Summit in Toronto. The first day, Friday, has been filled with keynotes including some partially-new announcements.

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Mozilla has a number of branded elevator doors, signs, and carpets covering the hotel to promote the event for the attendees. Unfortunately, my hotel room was not in the tower this elevator serviced. Also unfortunate, I did not realize that until I was on said elevator at in the 27th floor. Moving between the first and 27th floors took all of about 5 seconds; popping my ears took longer. To be fair I was given correct directions by the hotel staff I just did not realize that the building was, in fact, multiple buildings and so my interpretation was off.

On to the important stuff: explosions! The second keynote contained high performance 3D browser games and, albeit less kablooieie, site personalization.

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The latter we have talked about before. Mozilla is implementing interface elements in the browser for users to share demographic information with websites. They understand that advertising is how the web works and does not want it outright dead. They do believe (at least some) advertisers mine too much data from their users because they need to mine some data from their users. One-on-one conversation with a couple Mozilla staff somewhat confirms my suspicions that the initiative is to remove the temptation for just a little more data with homegrown solutions. This seems to be their last idea, however, given the discussion at the panel.

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The former was an Unreal Engine demo on stage during the “Envisioned Future State” keynote. The presenter had several multi-kills with a rocket launcher. I should note the entire demo ran off of the file protocol so no internet connection was required. This was quite literally Unreal Tournament 3 running native to Firefox.

Well, I think that is it for today! A lot of information was released but I believe these were the top-two most interesting points.

Source: Mozilla

Kingston HyperX Holds Global DotA 2, Overclocking Competitions Leading Up to CES 2014

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | October 3, 2013 - 01:41 PM |
Tagged: kingston hyper x, kingston, DOTA 2, competition

Fountain Valley, CA – October 3, 2013 − Kingston Technology Company Inc., the independent world leader in memory products, will soon begin two global competitions to further show its support and commitment to the eSports and the enthusiast community. The HyperX DotA 2 League features 16 of the world’s top professional DotA 2 gaming teams battling for a large cash prize. On October 7, HyperX will begin an open global overclocking competition. The finals for both competitions will be held during 2014 International CES® in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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The HyperX DotA 2 League tournament begins later this month with 16 teams competing for a total of $50,000 (USD) in prize money. An additional $40,000 will be offered to cover flight and hotel for the top four teams that advance to battle each other in Las Vegas for the championship. Each match is a best-of-three maps and all matches will be broadcast live so fans can follow the progress of their favorite team. The format and complete competition details can be found here.

Working together with HWBOT, the premier informational website for overclockers and performance enthusiasts, contestants will compete to post the highest benchmarks for Maximum Memory Frequency, Super PI and Intel® XTU. Beginning October 7, there will be an open online qualifying competition lasting four weeks. Winners will be determined weekly with the five final contestants competing in January 2014 during CES. For the finals, components will be supplied by Kingston and its partners: ASUS, Cooler Master and Intel®. Complete rules can be found here.

“The HyperX 2013 DotA 2 tournament will be epic as the best professional gaming teams in the world battle each other and fans will be able to watch every minute live online,” said Annie Leung, HyperX global strategic marketing manager, Kingston. “We are also very excited to hold an overclocking competition globally to see how far HyperX memory can be pushed. Both events will be fun and exciting for gamers and enthusiasts.”

Please visit the Kingston HyperX Website for more information.

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Kingston is celebrating 25 years in the memory industry. The company was founded on October 17, 1987, and has grown to become the largest third-party memory manufacturer in the world. The 25th anniversary video can be found here along with more information, including a timeline of Kingston's history. In addition, HyperX memory is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The first HyperX high-performance memory module was released in November 2002.

Source: Kingston

AMD GPU Lineup Announced: R9 and R7 Series

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | September 25, 2013 - 05:23 PM |
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, R9, R7, GPU14, amd

The next generation of AMD graphics processors are being announced this afternoon. They carefully mentioned this event is not a launch. We do not yet know, although I hope we will learn today, when you can give them your money.

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When you can, you will have five products to choose from:

  • R7 250
  • R7 260X
  • R9 270X
  • R9 280X
  • R9 290X

AMD only provides 3D Mark Fire Strike scores for performance. I assume they are using the final score, and not the "graphics score" although they were unclear.

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The R7 250 is the low end card of the group with 1GB of GDDR5. Performance, according to 3DMark scores (>2000 on Fire Strike), is expected to be about two-thirds of what an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti can deliver. Then again, that card retails for about ~$130 USD. The R7 250 has an expected retail value of less than < $89 USD. This is a pretty decent offering which can probably play Battlefield 3 at 1080p if you play with the graphics quality settings somewhere around "medium". This is just my estimate, of course.

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The R7 260X is the next level up. The RAM has been double over the R7 250 to 2GB of GDDR5 and its 3DMark score almost doubled, too (> 3700 on Fire Strike). This puts it almost smack dab atop the Radeon HD 6970. The R7 260X is about $20-30 USD cheaper than the HD 6970. The R7 is expected to retail for $139. Good price cut while keeping up to date on architecture.

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The R9 270X is the low end of the high end parts. With 2GB of GDDR5 and a 3DMark Fire Strike score of >5500, this is aimed at the GeForce 670. The R7 270X will retail for around ~$199 which is about $120 USD cheaper than NVIDIA's offering.

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The R9 280X should be pretty close to the 7970 GHz Edition. It will be about ~$90 cheaper with an expected retail value of $299. It also has a bump in frame buffer over the lower-tier R9 270X, containing 3GB of GDDR5.

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Not a lot is known about the top end, R9 290X, except that it will be the first gaming GPU to cross 5 TeraFLOPs of compute performance. To put that into comparison, the GeForce Titan has a theoretical maximum of 4.5 TeraFLOPs.

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If you are interested in the R9 290X and Battlefield 4, you will be able to pre-order a limited edition package containing both products. Pre-orders open "from select partners" October 3rd. For how much? Who knows.

We will keep you informed as we are informed. Also, the announcement is still going on, so tune in!

Source: AMD

JavaOne 2013: GPU Is Coming Whether You Know It or Not

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | September 23, 2013 - 09:38 PM |
Tagged: JavaOne, JavaOne 2013, gpgpu

Are the enterprise users still here? Oh, hey!

GPU acceleration throws a group of many similar calculations at thousands of simple cores. Their architecture makes it very cheap and power efficient for the amount of work they achieve. Gamers, obviously, enjoy the efficiency at tasks such as calculating pixels on a screen or modifying thousands of vertex positions. This technology has evolved more generally than graphics. Enterprise and research applications have been taking notice over the years.

GPU discussion, specifically, starts around 16 minutes.

Java, a friend of scientific and "big-data" developers, is also evolving in a few directions including "offload".

IBM's CTO of Java, John Duimovich, discussed a few experiments they created when optimizing the platform to use new hardware. Sorting arrays, a common task, saw between a 2-fold and 48-fold increase of performance. Including the latency of moving data and initializing GPU code, a 32,000-entry array took less than 1.5ms to sort, compared to about 3ms on the CPU. The sample code was programmed in CUDA.

The goal of these tests is, as far as I can tell, to (eventually) automatically use specialized hardware for Java's many built-in libraries. The pitch is free performance. Of course there is only so much you can get for free. Still, optimizing the few usual suspects is an obvious advantage, especially if it just translates average calls to existing better-suited libraries.

Hopefully they choose to support more than just CUDA whenever they take it beyond experimentation. The OpenPOWER Consortium, responsible for many of these changes, currently consists of IBM, Mellanox, TYAN, Google, and NVIDIA.

Source: JavaOne

Gabe Newell LinuxCon Keynote. Announcement Next Week.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | September 16, 2013 - 09:15 PM |
Tagged: Steam Box, LinuxCon, Gabe Newell

Valve Software, as demonstrated a couple of days ago, still believe in Linux as the future of gaming platforms. Gabe Newell discussed this situation at LinuxCon, this morning, which was streamed live over the internet (and I transcribed after the teaser break at the bottom of the article). Someone decided to rip the stream, not the best quality but good enough, and put it on Youtube. I found it and embed it below. Enjoy!

Gabe Newell highlights, from the seventh minute straight through to the end, why proprietary platforms look successful and how they (sooner-or-later) fail by their own design. Simply put, you can control what is on it. Software you do not like, or even their updates, can be stuck in certification or even excluded from the platform entirely. You can limit malicious software, at least to some extent, or even competing products.

Ultimately, however, you limit yourself by not feeding in to the competition of the crowd.

If you wanted to get your cartridge made you bought it, you know, FOB in Tokyo. If you had a competitive product, miraculously, your ROMs didn't show up until, you know, 3 months after the platform holder's product had entered market and stuff like that. And that was really where the dominant models for what was happening in gaming ((came from)).

But, not too surprisingly, open systems were advancing faster than the proprietary systems had. There used to be these completely de novo graphics solutions for gaming consoles and they've all been replaced by PC-derived hardware. The openness of the PC as a hardware standard meant that the rate of innovation was way faster. So even though, you would think, that the console guys would have a huge incentive to invest in it, they were unable to be competitive.

Microsoft attempts to exert control over their platform with modern Windows which is met by a year-over-year regression in PC sales; at the same time, PC gaming is the industry hotbed of innovation and it is booming as a result. In a time of declining sales in PC hardware, Steam saw a 76% growth (unclear but it sounds like revenue) from last year.

Valve really believes the industry will shift toward a model with little divide between creator and consumer. The community has been "an order of magnitude" more productive than the actual staff of Team Fortress 2.

Does Valve want to compete with that?

This will only happen with open platforms. Even the consoles, with systems sold under parts and labor costs to exert control, have learned to embrace the indie developer. The next gen consoles market indie developers, prior to launch, seemingly more than the industry behemoths and that includes their own titles. They open their platforms a little bit but it might still not be enough to hold off the slow and steady advance of PC gaming be it through Windows, Linux, or even web standards.

Speaking of which, Linux and web standards are oft criticized because they are fragmented. Gabe Newell, intentionally or unintentionally, claimed proprietary platforms are more fragmented. Open platforms have multiple bodies push and pull the blob but it all tends to flow in the same direction. Proprietary platforms have lean bodies with control over where they can go, just many of them. You have a dominant and a few competing platforms for each sector: phones and tablets, consoles, desktops, and so forth.

He noted each has a web browser and, because the web is an open standard, is the most unified experience across devices of multiple sectors. Open fragmentation is small compared to the gaps between proprietary silos across sectors. ((As a side note: Windows RT is also designed to be one platform for all platforms but, as we have been saying for a while, you would prefer an open alternative to all RT all the time... and, according to the second and third paragraphs of this editorial, it will probably suffer from all of the same problems inherent to proprietary platforms anyway.))

Everybody just sort of automatically assumes that the internet is going to work regardless of wherever they are. There may be pluses or minuses of their specific environment but nobody says, "Oh I'm in an airplane now, I'm going to use a completely different method of accessing data across a network". We think that should be more broadly true as well. That you don't think of touch input or game controllers or living rooms as being things which require a completely different way for users to interact or acquire assets or developers to program or deliver to those targets.

Obviously if that is the direction you are going in, Linux is the most obvious basis for that and none of the proprietary, closed platforms are going to be able to provide that form of grand unification between mobile, living room, and desktop.

Next week we're going to be rolling out more information about how we get there and what are the hardware opportunities that we see for bringing Linux into the living room and potentially pointing further down the road to how we can get it even more unified in mobile.

Well, we will certainly be looking forward to next week.

Personally, for almost two years I found it weird how Google, Valve, and Apple (if the longstanding rumors were true) were each pushing for wearable computing, Steam Box/Apple TV/Google TV, and content distribution at the same time. I would not be surprised, in the slightest, for Valve to add media functionality to Steam and Big Picture and secure a spot in the iTunes and Play Store market.

As for how wearables fit in? I could never quite figure that out but it always felt suspicious.

Read on for our transcript of the keynote speech. Bare with us, it is a little bit rough.

Source: LinuxCon

Intel Developer Forum (IDF) 2013 Keynote Live Blog Day 2

Subject: Processors, Shows and Expos | September 10, 2013 - 02:47 PM |
Tagged: idf, idf 2013, Intel, keynote, live blog

We are preparing for the second day of keynotes at IDF so sign up below to get a reminder for our live blog! After the first keynote saw the introduction of Intel Quark SoCs, showcases of the first 14nm Broadwell processor and a 22nm LTE smartphone, day 2 could be even more exciting!

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The event starts at 9am PT / 12pm ET on Wednesday the 11th!

 

 

 

IDF 2013: Announcing Quark SoCs that are even smaller than Atom

Subject: Processors, Shows and Expos | September 10, 2013 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: quark, Intel, idf 2013, idf

In a very interesting and surprising announcement at the first Intel Developer Forum keynote this morning, Intel's new CEO Brian Krzanich showed the first samples of Quark, a new SoC design that will enter into smaller devices that even Atom can reach.

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Quark is the family name for the new line of SoCs that are open, synthesizable and support with industry standard software.  An open SoC is simply one that will allow third-party IP integration with the processor cores while a synthesizable one can be moved and migrated to other production facilities as well.  This opens up Intel to take Quark outside of its own fabrication facilities (though Krzanich said they would prefer not during Q&A) and allow partners to more easily integrate their own silicon with the Quark DNA.  Intel had previously announced that Atom would be able to integrate with third-party IP but that seems to have been put on the back burner in favor of this.

Quark will not be an open core design in the same way that ARM's core can be, but instead Intel is opening up the interface fabric for direct connection to computing resources. 

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The Quark SoC is square in the middle

Krzanich showed off the chip on stage that is 1/5 the size of Atom and 1/10 the power levels of Atom (though I am not sure if we are referring to Clover Trail or Bay Trail for the comparison).  That puts it in a class of products that only ARM-based designs have been able to reach until now and Intel displayed both reference systems and wearable designs. 

UPDATE: Intel later clarified with me that the "1/5 size, 1/10 power" is for a Quark core against an Atom core at 22nm.  It doesn't refer to the entire SoC package.

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Intel hasn't yet told us what microarchitecture Quark is based on but if I were a betting man I would posit that it is related to the Silvermont designs we are looking at on Bay Trail but with a cut down feature set.  Using any other existing design from Intel would result in higher than desired power consumption and die size levels but it could also be another ground up architecture as well.

I'll be poking around IDF for more information on Quark going forward but for now, it appears that Intel is firmly planting itself on a collision course with ARM and Qualcomm. 

UPDATE 1: I did get some more information from Intel on the Quark SoC.  It will be the first product based on the 14nm manufacturing process and is a 32-bit, single core, single thread chip based on a "Pentium ISA compatible CPU core."  This confirms that it is an x86 processor though not exactly what CPU core it is based on.  More soon!