Keep your tired lithium batteries on ice

Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2016 - 02:02 PM |
Tagged: battery

We know that heat and Lithium based batteries don't mix but there is more to worry about than catastrophic failure.  A post over at Hack a Day illustrates the consequences of heating a Lithium based battery with 1% or less charge, the complete and permanent death of the batteries ability to hold a charge.  There are some uses for these batteries in designs which can trap heat near to the battery and not properly transfer it out and it is apparently very important to keep those batteries at least moderately charged.  If you are making something which might expose the batteries to excess heat ensure you monitor the charge to prevent having to replace the batteries.  The complete discharge of a Lithium cell is never a good practice and this illustrates another reason to keep those batteries charged.

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"There’s a million ways to kill a battery, and lithium batteries are known not to like being completely discharged, but it looks like the combination of deep discharge and heat is entirely deadly. Now you know."

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Source: Hack a Day

Rumor: MLG "Assets" Sold to Activision Blizzard

Subject: General Tech | January 1, 2016 - 10:08 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, mlg, esports, blizzard, Activision

Update (10:10pm ET): Forgot to add "rumor" to title.

So I didn't expect this. According to eSports Observer, MLG has basically been liquidated to Activision Blizzard for $46 million USD. Neither company has confirmed the report. The source is a leaked letter that was allegedly sent to stockholders, many of whom, if the rumors are true, were not informed prior to the sale. That's kind-of crappy.

Major_League_Gaming_(logo).png

We will probably hear this story evolve, if true, over the next couple weeks. The organization was said to have been running on a substantial amount of debt, relative to the company's size, for quite some time. If the organization shuts down as it seems it will, then many investors will probably get next to nothing.

On the other hand, it is interesting to see what Activision Blizzard will do with their acquisition. The publisher holds several popular spectator titles, such as Call of Duty, StarCraft, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, World of Warcraft, and soon to be Overwatch. I doubt that the company would roll their games into their own eSport service, especially as they are growing closer to rival ESL, so I would have to expect that these “assets” will be used to support (or leverage control) over third-party broadcasters and/or leagues.

WebGL2 Is On Its Way

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2015 - 10:25 PM |
Tagged: webgl2, webgl, mozilla, firefox

The Khronos Group created WebGL to bring a GPU-accelerated platform to web browsers. With a few minor differences, it is basically JavaScript bindings for OpenGL ES 2.0. It also created a few standards in JavaScript itself to support things like raw buffers of data that could be assigned types in an unmanaged way. Basically every latest-version web browser supports it these days, and we're starting to see it used in interesting ways.

webgl2-2015-particles.jpg

The next step is WebGL2. OpenGL ES 3.0 adds a bunch of new features that are sorely needed for modern games and applications. For instance, it allows drawing to multiple render targets, which is very useful for virtual cameras in video games (although the original WebGL software could access this as an optional extension when supported). The addition of “Uniform Buffer Objects” is a better example. This allows you to store a bunch of data, like view transformation matrices, as a single buffer that can be bound to multiple applications, rather than binding them one at a time to every draw that needs them.

It's hard to describe, but demos speak a thousand words.

The news today is that Mozilla Nightly now ships with WebGL2 enabled by default. It was previously hidden, disabled by default, behind an option in the browser. This doesn't seem like a big deal, but one of the largest hurdles to WebGL2 is how the browsers actually implement it. The shading language in WebGL was simple enough that most browsers convert it to DirectX HLSL on Windows. This is said to have the added advantage of obfuscating the ability to write malicious code, since developers never directly writes what's executed. GLSL in OpenGL ES 3.0 is much more difficult. I'm not sure whether the browsers will begin to trust OpenGL ES 3.0 drivers directly, or if they finally updated the GLSL translator, but supported implementations means that something was fixed.

Unfortunately, OpenGL compute shaders are not supported in WebGL2. That said, the biggest hurdle is, again, to get WebGL2 working at all. From my talks with browser vendors over the last year or so, it sounds like features (including compute shaders) should start flying in easily once this hurdle is cleared. From there, GPGPU in a website should be much more straightforward.

Meanwhile, Oculus Touch Won't Arrive Until 2H16

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2015 - 07:49 PM |
Tagged: Oculus, oculus rift, oculus touch, vive vr

Valve and Oculus are targeting roughly the same window to release the consumer editions of their respective VR equipment. While technical information will likely wait until next week, we are hearing about delays ahead of CES. In the Vive's case, they couldn't afford to wait until the show, because it was supposed to launch in Holiday 2015. That has been revised to April.

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But this is about Oculus. Their headset is still expected to arrive on time, which is enough for many experiences. The Xbox One controller is supposedly the default for this platform. This puts them out of the running for motion-control software, as seen on the Vive, though. Oculus is developing their own, called the Oculus Touch. They said they were launching without it and that it is optional. We now know that this will be in the second half of the year, which could be as early as the “few months after the Rift” as we were told, or as late as a year from now.

We're already hearing concerns about incompatibility between the two systems, since it will lead to some level of platform-exclusivity. Lead time could help a platform gain ground, unless consumers outright refuse to buy in to any of them in case it ends up being the Betamax or HD-DVD. I'm not sure what we, as consumers, can do to prevent any of these negative outcomes, but it's something we need to be mindful of, especially throughout 2016.

Source: Oculus

Final Fantasy IX PC Version Confirmed (for Japan)

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2015 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: square enix, pc gaming, final fantasy

Back in September, SquareEnix announced that Final Fantasy V was coming to the PC. I took the opportunity to list all the main-line Final Fantasy titles, sorted by generation, and classified them as having a PC release (or not). The odd one out was Final Fantasy IX. It belongs in the set of three original PlayStation titles, but, unlike VII and VIII, was not given a PC release at the time. I was worried that SquareEnix might not go through the trouble for just a single game.

square-2015-ff9-logo.jpg

Apparently, they are doing a version for PCs and Smartphones. It looks somewhat similar to the handheld remake of Final Fantasy III, although that is similar to the PlayStation graphics. It is possible that it will not make it to a worldwide release, but, since the website is fully translated into English, you would expect that the game would be localized, too. If the game is localized, there's very little reason to block it off geographically.

They only have system requirements for iOS. They will probably list Windows system requirements at a later date, which I assume the disable “System” button refers to. Android 4.1 is required for that platform, but they don't say anything about hardware. Regardless, I doubt that this will require much.

Source: Square Enix

FCC Approves the Vive VR "Base station"

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2015 - 03:00 PM |
Tagged: htc, valve, vive, vive vr

This bit of news is a little more pleasant for Valve. According to Engadget, the HTC Vive has passed FCC approval. HTC recently announced that the product would launch in April, slipping from its original launch date, Holiday 2015, by a few months. This was due to a “very, very big technological breakthrough” that was in no way elaborated on.

valve-2015-htc-vive-fcclaser.png

The linked FCC report calls the device the “HTC Base station.” This likely refers to the Lighthouse laser tracking system that are monitored by light sensors on the headset and controllers. The public notice includes the FCC warning label, which mentions that the device is a Class 1 laser system. There are five classifications of lasers, from Class 1 through Class 4 (with Class 3 split into Class 3a and Class 3b). Class 1 means that the laser is completely incapable of producing harmful radiation. Class 4 can cause fires. Since HTC's device is Class 1, this means that either the laser's intensity is too low to cause damage, even with sustained viewing, or the laser never produces a harmful amount of radiation in a way that could be viewed under normal operation. For instance, a laser printer is a “Class 1” laser, because everything occurs within the device. Laser pointers, on the other hand, are typically Class 2.

This raises an interesting question about how the lasers are used. They are clearly emitted into open space, because the sensors are on the visor. This suggests that the lasers are either very low power, or the beam is manipulated in such a way that it cannot be pointed into someone's eye for a meaningful amount of time. How? No idea.

HTC and Valve are expected to fully unveil the product at CES. PC Perspective will be at the event, and we'll probably have more information at that time.

Source: Engadget

Podcast #381 - Picks of the Year, the EK Predator 240, ASUS MG278Q FreeSync and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2015 - 01:57 PM |
Tagged: video, Skylake, Silverstone, predator 240, podcast, picks of the year, mg278q, Intel, g-sync, freesync, EKWB, Broadwell, asus

PC Perspective Podcast #381 - 12/31/2015

Join us this week as we discuss our Picks of the Year, the EK Predator 240, ASUS MG278Q FreeSync and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, Morry Tietelman, and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 2:13:30

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. PC Perspective Hardware Picks of the Year
    1. 0:48:30 Graphics Card of 2015
    2. 1:00:40 CPU of 2015
    3. 1:06:55 Storage of 2015
    4. 1:11:15 Case of 2015
    5. 1:20:50 Motherboard of 2015
    6. 1:29:20 Price Drop of 2015
    7. 1:38:30 Mobile Device of 2015
    8. 1:45:50 Best Trend of 2015
    9. 1:57:40 Worst Trend of 2015
  4. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Rumor: Polaris Is the next AMD Radeon Core Architecture

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 31, 2015 - 01:41 PM |
Tagged: rumor, report, radeon, Polaris, graphics card, gpu, GCN, amd

A report claims that Polaris will succeed GCN (Graphics Core Next) as the next AMD Radeon GPU core, which will power the 400-series graphics cards.

AMD-Polaris.jpg

Image via VideoCardz.com

As these rumors go, this is about as convoluted as it gets. VideoCardz has published the story, sourced from WCCFtech, who was reporting on a post with supposedly leaked slides at HardwareBattle. The primary slide in question has since been pulled, and appears below:

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Image via HWBattle.com

Of course the name does nothing to provide architectural information on this presumptive GCN replacement, and a new core for the 400-series GPUs was expected anyway after the 300-series was largely a rebranded 200-series (that's a lot of series). Let's hope actual details emerge soon, but for now we can speculate on mysterious tweets from certain interested parties:

 

Source: VideoCardz

Valve Comments on Christmas Security Issues

Subject: General Tech | December 30, 2015 - 11:48 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam, security, Privacy

On Christmas Day, Valve had a few hours of problems. Their servers were being overloaded by malicious traffic. The best analogy that I could provide would be a bad organization who sent a thousand people to Walmart, to do nothing but stand in the check-out line and ask the cashier about the time. This clogs up the infrastructure, preventing legitimate customers from making their transactions. This was often done after demanding a ransom. Don't pay? Your servers get clogged at the worst time.

steam-family.png

A little too much sharing...

There are two ways to counter-act a DDoS attack: add hardware or make your site more efficient.

When a website is requested, the server generates the page and sends it to the customer. This process is typically slow, especially for complicated sites that pull data from one or more database(s). It then feeds this data to partners to send to customers. Some pages, like the Steam Store's front page, are mostly the same for anyone who views it (from the same geographic region). Some pages, like your order confirmation page, are individual. You can save server performance by generating the pages only when they change, and giving them to relevant users from the closest delivery server.

Someone, during a 20-fold spike in traffic relative to the typical Steam Sale volume, accidentally started saving (caching) pages with private information and delivering them to random users. This includes things like order confirmation and contact information pages for whatever logged-in account generated them. This is pretty terrible for privacy. Again, it does not allow users to interact with the profiles of other users, just see the results that other users generated.

But this is still quite bad.

Users complained, especially on Twitter, that Valve should have shut down their website immediately. From my position, I agree, especially since attempting to make a purchase tells the web server to pull the most sensitive information (billing address, etc.) from the database. I don't particularly know why Valve didn't, but I cannot see that from the outside.

It's probably a simple mistake to make, especially since Valve seems to blame a third-party for the configuration issue. On the other hand, that also meant that Valve structured their website such that sensitive information is in the hands of third-parties to properly cache. That might have been necessary, depending on their browser compatibility requirements, but I would hope that it's something Valve restructures in the future. (For instance, have the caching server store the site's framework, and fill in the individual's data with a JavaScript request to another, uncached server.)

But again, I don't work there. I don't know the details.

Source: Valve

Google Switching to OpenJDK in Android N

Subject: Mobile | December 30, 2015 - 11:09 PM |
Tagged: Android, oracle, google, Java, openjdk

The Android ecosystem was built atop a Java-like framework, although a native development kit was added later. Oracle, current owner of the Java copyrights and trademarks, was not too happy with this. The two companies, Google and Oracle, were in a legal battle for the last three-and-a-half years. The courts have not ruled overwhelmingly in favor of either side.

OpenJDK_logo.png

Google is now replacing their implementation with one that is derived from OpenJDK. Officially, this is so Google has more say in how the language evolves. This would also circumvent all legal issues, because OpenJDK is supported by Oracle, but Google is not commenting on that advantage. They are in an ongoing legal battle, so that is not surprising. It wouldn't immunize them from damages that are ruled for existing products. Changing now only limits the number of products that infringe, if it is eventually ruled illegal, and remove an awkward gap where nothing is legal until a fix is implemented.

From a performance and feature standpoint, the two JDKs are supposedly equivalent nowadays.

Source: VentureBeat

ASUS Announces ROG Maximus VIII Formula Motherboard with EK Hybrid Liquid Cooling

Subject: Motherboards | December 30, 2015 - 04:06 PM |
Tagged: Z170, water cooling, water block, Maximus VIII Formula, EKWB, ek, crosschill, ATX motherboard, ASUS ROG, asus

ASUS ROG has announced the Maximus VIII Formula, a premium ATX motherboard with integrated EK hybrid liquid cooling which allows users to choose liquid or air cooling for the board's hottest components.

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"The latest ROG Z170 motherboard now comes with the exclusive CrossChill EK hybrid cooling block! ROG teamed up with the guys at EK to create a high-conductivity channel, so you will be ready for liquid-cooling goodness right out-of-the-box. Don’t worry if you don’t intend to upgrade to liquid-cooling straight away, because this also runs on air cooling. Why spend more money on a third-party waterblock when it’s already built-in and looks this good?"

In addition to the integrated water cooling support the Maximus VIII Formula includes the usual bells and whistles we've come to expect from these ROG motherboards, including advanced overclocking support and premium audio, and the Formula also offers RGB headers and lighting controls and "ROG Armor". There is also advanced storage support from both M.2 and U.2 connectors, and provides advanced wireless via built-in 2x2 802.11ac with an external antenna included.

Maximus-VIII-Formula_Crosschill-EK-s.jpg

Specifications from ASUS:

  • Processor: LGA1151 socket for 6th-generation Intel Core i7 / i5 / i3 / Pentium / Celeron processors
  • Chipset: Intel Z170 Express
  • Memory: 4x DIMMs, up to a maximum of 64GB, DDR4 3733 (OC), Intel Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
  • Expansion slots: 
    • 2x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (single at x16, dual at x8/x8 mode)
    • 1x PCIe 3.0 x16 slot (maximum at x4 mode)
    • 3x PCIe 2.0 x1 slots
  • Graphics (Integrated Intel HD Graphics processor):
    • DisplayPort 1.2 with maximum resolution of 4096 x 2034 at 60Hz
    • HDMI with maximum resolution of 4096 x 2160 at 24Hz
    • Intel InTru 3D / Quick Sync Video / Clear Video HD Technology / Insider
  • Multi-GPU: Two-way/quad-GPU NVIDIA® SLI and AMD three-way/quad-GPU CrossFireX technology
  • Storage:
    • 1x U.2 (supports PCIe 3.0 x4 NVM Express storage)
    • 1x M.2 Socket 3 with M Key, supports 2242/2260/2280/22110 devices
    • 2x SATA Express
    • 8x SATA 6.0 Gbps (4 shared with SATA Express)
  • Networking/LAN: 
    • Intel I219-V Gigabit LAN and ASUS LANGuard
    • Integrated 2×2 dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi with external antenna included
  • USB: 
    • 2x USB 3.1 (1x Type-A; 1x Type-C)
    • 10x USB 3.0 ports (6 on back panel, 4 mid-board)
    • 4x USB 2.0 ports (mid-board)
  • Audio: ROG SupremeFX 2015 8-channel high-definition audio
    • ESS ES9023P high-definition DAC
    • 2V RMS Headphone Amp into (32-600 ohms)
    • SupremeFX shielding technology
    • Sonic SenseAmp
    • Jack-detection, multi-streaming, front-panel mic jack-retasking
    • Optical S/PDIF-out port on back panel
  • Dimensions / form factor: ATX, 12.0 x 9.6in (30.5 x 24.4cm)

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Pricing and availabilty were not announced. Full press release after the break.

Source: ASUS ROG

Rantopad and Gateron, a switch from your usual mechanical keyboard provider

Subject: General Tech | December 30, 2015 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged: cherry mx rgb, Gateron Black, Gateron Blue, K70 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, rantopad, Rantopad MXX

Gateron is yet another company to join the mechanical switch crowd and appears on the Rantopad MXX gaming keyboard.  The keyboard is tenkeyless and designed tore let you remove keys as you see fit thought it does not seem to come with additional keys to customize the board.  As you might expect it is backlit, there will soon be a Cherry MX RGB model for those who want more than just a single colour of light to display.  MadShrimps provides a full review of this $80 mechanical keyboard here, for those interested.

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"Despite the fact that the Rantopad MXX does not feature software for additional configuration purposes, we were quite impressed with the build quality of the keyboard, while the compact (TKL) size and space-grade aluminum cover give the product a professional look. MXX does come for now with Gateron Black or Blue switches (and aluminum covers in blue or dark grey), but in the future we will also see white and red variants introduced and a much wider switch selection, including Cherry MX RGB switches."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: MadShrimps

Transcend to run MLC Flash in SLC Mode for 'SuperMLC' Speed Boost

Subject: Storage | December 30, 2015 - 02:21 PM |
Tagged: transcend, slc, mlc, ssd, flash, SuperMLC

Last year we saw Micron toy with the idea of dynamically flipping flash memory dies between SLC and MLC modes. Ok paper, it sounded like a great idea - get the speed of SLC flash while the SSD is up to 50% full, then start shifting dies over to MLC mode to get the higher capacity. This tech did not exist until the ability to flip dies between modes existed, which was not until shortly before the M600 SSDs were introduced. Realize this is different than other types of mixed mode flash, like that on the Samsung 'EVO' models, which have a small SLC segment present on each TLC die. That static partitioning kept those types of solutions more consistent in performance than the M600 was when we first evaluated its performance.

slc-mlc.png

What if we borrowed the idea of keeping the flash mode static, but just keeping to the faster mode? Transcend has announced it will be doing just that in the coming year. These will be SSDs equipped with MLC flash, but that flash will be configured to operate in SLC mode full time. This will enable ~4x write speeds and higher endurance ~30,000 write cycles compared to ~5-10k P/E cycle figures of the same flash operating in MLC mode. This performance and endurance boost comes at a cost, as these SSDs will consume twice the flash memory for the equivalent MLC model capacity. We predict this type of substitution for standard SLC flash will be a continuing trend since SLC flash production volume is insignificant compared to MLC. This trick gets you most of the way to SLC performance and endurance for (in the current market) less cost/GB of a straight SLC SSD.

Upcoming Transcend models to include SuperMLC technology:

  • SSD510K - 2.5”
  • MSA510 - mSATA
  • HSD510 - half slim
  • MTS460 & MTS860 - M.2

Source: Transcend

UNIGINE 2 Earth Demo (Video)

Subject: General Tech | December 30, 2015 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: UNIGINE, unigine 2

Apparently something is coming in 2016, but I don't know what that is. All I can see at the moment is a highly-detailed rendering of Earth, which UNIGINE classifies as a research and development project. The first couple of views are pretty impressive although, despite begging in the comments for a flight simulator with this technology, it looks like this content only works in an as viewed from space context.

That said, it ends up scaling down to the planet's surface, that would be highly entertaining.

Even still, the technology required to convert from recorded, public data into a rendered sphere is impressive. The “procedural data refinement” that converts various masks into clusters of human-made lighting, and so forth, look shiny and believable. This could be highly useful for space games and cinematics at the very least.

unigine-2-space.jpg

The engine itself is impressive. The original UNIGINE was a staple of DirectX 11 benchmarks for years. It made use of tessellation in one of the most compelling, stylized ways we've seen to date. Unfortunately, they seem to be sticking with their large (but not too large) up-front licensing cost business model. This stands against the free with royalty trend of modern engines today, such as CryEngine, Unity, and Unreal. Hopefully it delivers enough revenue to keep them running.

UNIGINE 2.1 was just released in November.

Fallout 4 can get confused if you aren't a gun toting yahoo

Subject: General Tech | December 30, 2015 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: fallout 4, bug, gaming

The Fallout series has never been pacifistic, the isometric originals could allow you to become a drug addicted slave trader however they did not used to be so linear as Fallout 4 seems to be.  An inventive gamer decided to try to play the new Fallout without killing a soul and has accomplished that goal after much effort and a few bugs.  While it is certainly a blast to roam the wastelands slaughtering all those who get in your way, this article at Kotaku illustrates the problems you can face when playing a game differently than the developers expected you to.  The usual, and sadly inevitable game bugs aside, there are quite a few new ones that arise when you get creative with your playthrough.  As any DM worth their salt knows, you can never account for everything your players will do and flexibility is a must.  One hopes that devs at Bethesda read through this article and expand their creativity as a result.

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"Fallout 4 expects you to commit murder. While you can occasionally avoid killing others, the wasteland is ruthless and demands violence. That’s how Bethesda intended the game to be played, anyway—but clever players are finding ways around it."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Kotaku

Sigh ... your Windows 10 device is probably only as secure as Microsoft's database

Subject: General Tech | December 29, 2015 - 02:13 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, security

If your Windows 10 machine uses your Microsoft account as the login then your system's recovery key now resides on a Microsoft database in the cloud.  That recovery key is used in the file system encryption present on Windows 10 systems.  The backup is good news for people who find themselves with computer problems and need access to the key from a different machine, however this is also a huge security concern as your key could be stolen or demanded from Microsoft.  Follow the link from the Slashdot article to find out how to delete that back up recovery key and consider using a domain or workgroup style account as opposed to a Microsoft account to log into your machine.

advanced-boot-options.png

"The fact that new Windows devices require users to backup their recovery key on Microsoft's servers is remarkably similar to a key escrow system, but with an important difference. Users can choose to delete recovery keys from their Microsoft accounts – something that people never had the option to do with the Clipper chip system. But they can only delete it after they've already uploaded it to the cloud.....As soon as your recovery key leaves your computer, you have no way of knowing its fate."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

AData sets a new benchmark for low cost SSDs with their Premier SP550 line

Subject: Storage | December 29, 2015 - 01:48 PM |
Tagged: Premier SP550 240GB, adata, SM2256

At a current price of $67 the AData Premier SP550 240GB is one of the least expensive SSDs on the planet.  One has to wonder what kind of quality one would get at such a steep discount which is one of the reasons Hardware Canucks published this review of the drive.  The controller is Silicon Motion's talented SM225 which can interface with 1x/1y/1z nm TLC NAND from any manufacturer on the market, in this case 16nm SK Hynix 128Gbit TLC NAND.   As to performance, read speeds are very competitive at least until the 256MB DDR3-1600 cache fills at which point the speed does decrease, unfortunately read speeds are strangely slow even for TLC.  The three year, 90 TB written warranty is not spectacular but should give you at least some confidence in the reliability of the drive.  At the price you do make some sacrifices, but what a nice price.

top_sm.jpg

"With a price of just $80 and performance numbers that -on paper at least- look extremely competitive, is the AData Premier SP550 the budget SSD to get?"

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Big on size, the Carbide Series 600Q is also quietly unassuming

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 29, 2015 - 01:27 PM |
Tagged: corsair, Carbide Series 600Q, Carbide 600Q, eatx

Corsair may have been aiming for minimalist noise and style but certainly not minimalist size, at 454x260x535mm (18x10x21") this case will handle the largest of coolers, motherboards or GPUs with space to spare.  It contains a pair of 5.25" bays, three dedicated 2.5" bays and two 3.5/2.5" bays along with eight expansion slots and a pair of both USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports.  Watercoolers will love this case, with multiple locations available for your radiator to be installed as well as numerous grommets to keep cables out of the way, aircoolers will be able to install up to 6 fans.  [H]ard|OCP gave this $150 case a Gold Award, check out the full story here.

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"Minimalist style" and "minimalist noise," is how Corsair describes its new Carbide Series 600Q computer chassis. While some might prefer a case that looks like it was designed by Voltron, Corsair goes the opposite direction with the 600Q and is looking to check all the boxes that make a chassis desirable; easy to use, quiet, and cool."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Tessellation Support Expands for Intel's Open Linux Driver

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 29, 2015 - 07:05 AM |
Tagged: opengl, mesa, linux, Intel

The open-source driver for Intel is known to be a little behind on Linux. Because Intel does not provide as much support as they should, the driver still does not support OpenGL 4.0, although that is changing. One large chunk of that API is support for tessellation, which comes from DirectX 11, and recent patches are adding it for supported hardware. Proprietary drivers exist, at least for some platforms, but they have their own issues.

intel-2015-linux-driver-mesa.png

According to the Phoronix article, once the driver succeeds in supporting OpenGL 4.0, it will not be too long to open the path to 4.2. Tessellation is a huge hurdle, partially because it involves adding two whole shading stages to the rendering pipeline. Broadwell GPUs were recently added, but a patch that was committed yesterday will expand that to Ivy Bridge and Haswell. On Windows, Intel is far ahead -- pushing OpenGL 4.4 for Skylake-based graphics, although that platform only has proprietary drivers. AMD and NVIDIA are up to OpenGL 4.5, which is the latest version.

While all of this is happening, Valve is working on an open-source Vulkan driver for Intel on Linux. This API will be released adjacent to OpenGL, and is built for high-performance graphics and compute. (Note that OpenCL is more sophisticated than Vulkan "1.0" will be on the compute side of things.) As nice as it would be to get high-end OpenGL support, especially for developers who want a more simplified structure to communicate to GPUs with, Vulkan will probably be the API that matters most for high-end video games. But again, that only applies to games that are developed for it.

Source: Phoronix

Photonic IC Created by University of Colorado Boulder

Subject: Processors | December 28, 2015 - 09:03 PM |
Tagged: optical, photonics

A typical integrated circuit pushes electrical voltage across pathways, with transistors and stuff modifying it. When you interpret those voltages as mathematical values and logical instructions, then congratulations, you have created a processor, memory, and so forth. You don't need to use electricity for this. In fact, the history of Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace was their attempts to perform computation on mechanical state.

ucolorado-2015-opticalic.jpg

Image Credit: University of Colorado
Chip contains optical (left) and electric (top and right) circuits.

One possible follow-up is photonic integrated circuits. This routes light through optical waveguides, rather than typical electric traces. The prototype made by University of Colorado Boulder (and UC Berkeley) seem to use photonics just to communicate, and an electrical IC for the computation. The advantage is high bandwidth, high density, and low power.

This sort of technology was being investigated for several years. My undergraduate thesis for Physics involved computing light transfer through defects in a photonic crystal, using it to create 2D waveguides. With all the talk of silicon fabrication coming to its limits, as 14nm transistors are typically made of around two-dozen atoms, this could be a new direction to innovate.

And honestly, wouldn't you want to overclock your PC to 400+ THz? Make it go plaid for ludicrous speed. (Yes, this paragraph is a joke.)