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Subject: General Tech | August 12, 2015 - 01:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ubuntu, smartphone, HPSA+, Aquaris E4.5, Aquaris E5 HD
The new Ubuntu powered Aquaris E4.5 and the Aquaris E5 HD are now available but thanks to North America's carriers not supporting HPSA+ properly, or in many cases at all, the best you could hope for on this side of the pond is a 2G connection. They chips inside the phones are quad-core ARM Cortex A7's running at 1.3GHz with Mali 400 graphics. The E5 has a 5" screen with a resolutions of 720 x 1280, the 4.5 is 4.5" in size with a 540 x 960 resolution. Overall the specs are not awe inspiring and the prices of roughly $190 and $220 seem a bit high but are certainly lower than what you would pay for a new Samsung or Apple product without a contract. If you are interested then follow the links from The Register to order one.
"In a Tuesday blog post, Ubuntu maker Canonical said that BQ, its Spanish hardware partner, has opened a new online store where customers around the world can order the Aquaris E4.5 and the Aquaris E5 HD, the two current Ubuntu models."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Power10 ... 2020 ... 10nm – suddenly IBM snaps awake, scribbles notes @ The Register
- Thunderstrike2 Details Revealed @ Slashdot
- Intel left a fascinating security flaw in its chips for 16 years – here's how to exploit it @ The Register
- How To Unlock Windows 10 God Mode @ [H]ard|OCP
- Firefox 40 wants to replace Microsoft Edge as your default Windows 10 browser @ The Inquirer
- Why, When, and How To Use a Virtual Machine @ Linux.com
- Windows Server 2003 and the industry refresh that never was @ The Register
- Lenovo Installed Software On Laptops That Persisted After Complete Wipes @ Slashdot
- Hackaday Prize Entry: A Civilization Starter Kit
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | August 12, 2015 - 07:30 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: snapdragon 820, snapdragon, siggraph 2015, Siggraph, qualcomm, adreno 530, adreno
Despite the success of the Snapdragon 805 and even the 808, Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 810 SoC had a tumultuous lifespan. Rumors and stories about the chip and an inability to run in phone form factors without overheating and/or draining battery life were rampant, despite the company’s insistence that the problem was fixed with a very quick second revision of the part. There are very few devices that used the 810 and instead we saw more of the flagship smartphones uses the slightly cut back SD 808 or the SD 805.
Today at Siggraph Qualcomm starts the reveal of a new flagship SoC, Snapdragon 820. As the event coinciding with launch is a graphics-specific show, QC is focusing on a high level overview of the graphics portion of the Snapdragon 820, the updated Adreno 5xx architecture and associated designs and a new camera image signal processor (ISP) aiming to improve quality of photos and recording on our mobile devices.
A modern SoC from Qualcomm features many different processors working in tandem to impact the user experience on the device. While the only details we are getting today focus around the Adreno 530 GPU and Spectra ISP, other segments like connectivity (wireless), DSP, video processing and digital signal processing are important parts of the computing story. And we are well aware that Qualcomm is readying its own 64-bit processor architecture for the Kryo CPU rather than implementing the off-the-shelf cores from ARM used in the 810.
We also know that Qualcomm is targeting a “leading edge” FinFET process technology for SD 820 and though we haven’t been able to confirm anything, it looks very like that this chip will be built on the Samsung 14nm line that also built the Exynos 7420.
But over half of the processing on the upcoming Snapdragon 820 fill focus on visual processing, from graphics to gaming to UI animations to image capture and video output, this chip’s die will be dominated by high performance visuals.
Qualcomm’s lists of target goals for SD 820 visuals reads as you would expect: wanting perfection in every area. Wouldn’t we all love a phone or tablet that takes perfect photos each time, always focusing on the right things (or everything) with exceptional low light performance? Though a lesser known problem for consumers, having accurate color reproduction from capture, through processing and to the display would be a big advantage. And of course, we all want graphics performance that impresses and a user interface that is smooth and reliable while enabling NEW experience that we haven’t even thought of in the mobile form factor. Qualcomm thinks that Snapdragon 820 will be able to deliver on all of that.
Subject: Storage | August 11, 2015 - 08:40 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: toshiba, ssd, FMS 2015, flash, BiCS, Archive, Archival, 3d
We occasionally throw around the '3-bit MLC' (Multi Level Cell) term in place of 'TLC' (Triple Level Cell) when talking about flash memory. Those terms are interchangeable, but some feel it is misleading as the former still contains the term MLC. At Toshiba's keynote today, they showed us why the former is important:
Photo source: Sam Chen of Custom PC Review
That's right - QLC (Quadruple Level Cell), which is also 4-bit MLC, has been mentioned by Toshiba. As you can see at the right of that slide, storing four bits in a single flash cell means there are *sixteen* very narrow voltage ranges representing the stored data. That is a very hard thing to do, and even harder to do with high performance (programming/writing would take a relatively long time as the circuitry nudges the voltages to such a precise level). This is why Toshiba pitched this flash as a low cost solution for archival purposes. You wouldn't want to use this type of flash in a device that was written constantly, since the channel materials wearing out would have a much more significant effect on endurance. Suiting this flash to be written only a few times would keep it in a 'newer' state that would be effective for solid state data archiving.
The 1x / 0.5x / 6x figures appearing in the slide are meant to compare relative endurance to Toshiba's own planar 15nm flash. The figures suggest that Toshiba's BiCS 3D flash is efficient enough to go to QLC (4-bit) levels and still maintain a higher margin than their current MLC (2-bit) 2D flash.
More to follow as we continue our Flash Memory Summit coverage!
Subject: Processors | August 11, 2015 - 06:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: skylake-u, Intel
Fanless Tech just posted slides of Skylake-U the ultraportable version of Skylake, all of which have an impressively low TDP of 15W which can be reduced to either 10W or in some cases all the way down to 7.5W. As they have done previously all are BGA socketed which means you will not be able to upgraded nor are you likely to see them in desktops, not necessarily a bad thing for this segment of the mobile market but certainly worth noting.
There will be two i7 models and two i5 along with a single i3 version, the top models of which, the Core i7-6600U and Core i5-6300U sport a slightly increased frequency and support for vPro. Those two models, along with the i7-6500U and i5-6200U will have the Intel HD graphics 520 with frequencies of 300/1050 for the i7's and 300/1000 for the i5 and i3 chips
Along with the Core models will come a single Pentium chip, the 4405U and a pair of Celerons, the 3955U and 3855U. They will have HD510 graphics, clocks of 300/950 or 300/900 for the Celerons and you will see slight reductions in PCIe and storage subsystems on teh 4405U and 3855U. The naming scheme is less confusing that some previous generations, a boon for those with family or friends looking for a new laptop who are perhaps not quite as obsessed with processors as we are.
Subject: Storage | August 11, 2015 - 04:59 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Samsung, vnand, 48-layer, tlc, 16TB, FMS 2015
I get these emails and comments all the time - "I want a larger capacity SSD". Ok, here ya go:
Samsung's earlier 48-layer VNAND announcement was exciting, but we already knew about it going into the keynote. What we did not know was that Samsung was going to blew the doors off of their keynote when they dropped this little gem. It's not just the largest capacity SSD, as this thing is more dense than any HDD's available today as well. That's 16TB of 48-layer TLC VNAND packed into a 2.5" form factor SAS-connected SSD.
...now what do you do once you have such a high density device? Well, you figure out how many you can cram into a 2U chassis of course!
Yup, that's 48 of those new SSDs, making for a capacity of 768TB in a 2U chassis. Samsung described this as a "JBOF" (Just a Bunch Of Flash), so processing the 2 million IOPS this array is capable of will have to be left to the connected system.
No word on pricing, but I'd think we are in 'mortgage the house' territory if you want to put this into your home PC.
There is more to follow from Flash Memory Summit, but for now I've got to run to another meeting!
FMS 2015: *UPDATED* Samsung Adds Layers to its 3D VNAND, Doubling Capacity While Reducing Power Consumption
Subject: Storage | August 11, 2015 - 04:39 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: vnand, tlc, Samsung, FMS 2015, 48-layer, 32GB, 32-layer, 256Gbit
FMS 2015: Samsung Adds Layers to its 3D VNAND, Doubling Capacity While Reducing Power Consumption
Samsung recently added 2TB capacity parts to their 850 EVO SATA SSDs, but today’s announcement may double that. Today at Flash Memory Summit, Samsung has announced a new iteration on their 3D VNAND technology.
Cross section of Samsung 32-layer VNAND. (TechInsights)
The announcement is a new TLC 3D VNAND (the type present in the 850 EVO Series). The new parts consist of an updated die with the following improvements:
- 48 layer VNAND - up from 32 layers of the previous generation
- 256Gbit (32GB) capacity - up from 128Gbit (16GB) capacity of 32-layer VNAND
- 30% reduction in power consumption over 32-layer VNAND
Samsung’s new 48-layer VNAND.
I suspected Samsung would go this route in order to compete with the recent announcements from Intel/Micron and SanDisk. Larger die capacities may not be the best thing for keeping performance high in smaller capacity SSDs (a higher number of smaller capacity dies helps there), but it is definitely a good capability to have since higher capacity per die translates to more efficient flash die production.
The Samsung keynote is at noon today (Pacific), and I will update this piece with any photos relevant to the announcement after that keynote.
I just got out of the Samsung keynote. There were some additional slides with data relevant to this post:
This image simply shows the additional vertical stacking, but adds that Samsung has this new flash in production right now.
The new higher capacity dies enable 1.4x greater density per wafer (realize that this does not mean more dies per wafer, as the image incorrectly suggests).
The power consumption improvements (right) were in the press release, however the speed improvements (left) were not. A 2x improvement in per-die speeds means that Samsung should not see a performance hit if they migrate their existing 128Gbit TLC VNAND SSDs over to these new 256Gbit parts. Speaking of which...
Not only is this new VNAND being produced *this month*, Samsung is retrofitting their 850 EVO line with the new parts. Again, we expect no performance delta but will likely retest these new versions just to double check for any outliers.
There was some more great info from the keynote, but that will appear in another post later today.
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 11, 2015 - 02:54 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: rumour, nvidia, gtx 950
Rumours of the impending release of a GTX 950 and perhaps even a GTX 950 Ti continue to spread, most recently at Videocardz who have developed a reputation for this kind of report. Little is known at this time, the specifications are still unspecified but they have found a page showing a ASUS STRIX GTX 950, with 2GB of memory and a DirectCUII cooler. The prices shown are unlikely to represent the actual retail price, even in Finland where the capture is from.
Also spotted is a PNY GTX 950 retail box which shows us little in the way of details, the power plug is facing away from the camera so we are still unsure how many power plugs will be need./ Videocardz also reiterates their belief from the first leak that the card will 75% of a GM206 Maxwell graphics processor, with 768 CUDA cores and a 128-bit interface.
Subject: Mobile | August 11, 2015 - 01:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: smartphones, Moto G, galaxy s6, LG G4, iphone 6, HTC One M9, blackphone
The Inquirer has taken a look back at the past years smartphone releases with an eye towards providing a resource to help you compare them. So far there are 11 phones in their round up, including the somewhat maligned Blackphone which was intended to be completely secure but turned out to be a little less invulnerable than advertised. An overview of each phone is provided covering basic statistics such as screen size and resolution and often the processor inside. As you would expect they also include a link to their reviews of the phone and they plan on updating the article as new phones are released.
"THE SMARTPHONE MARKET is becoming increasingly competitive, make it harder and harder for buyers to choose which handset is right for them."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Testing Motorola's Moto G third-gen mobe: Is it still king of the hill? @ The Register
- Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 @ Kitguru
- PCSpecialist Lafité Ultrabook @ Kitguru
- Lenovo ThinkPad YOGA 15 Laptop @ Kitguru
- Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition @ The Inquirer
- Tegra On The Small Screen: NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Review @ Techgage
Subject: General Tech | August 11, 2015 - 12:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: windows 10, iot, raspberry pi 2
The slimmed down version of Windows 10 for devices such as the Raspberry Pi 2 has arrived and it is royalty free for makers, available right here. The Register describes some problems with the current version, mostly incompatibility with certain peripherals but also include occasional video crashes or networking issues. Seeing as how this particular incarnation of the OS is designed for creative minds tinkering on custom hardware the issues are not unexpected nor should you consider it proof the OS is not usable if you plan on tinkering with it. You will need a full PC for development with Windows 10 and Visual Studio 2015 to start using the slimmed down Windows 10, nothing new but certainly worth noting. Check out more on the Universal Windows Platform and Windows 10 for the IoT at The Register.
"Microsoft has shipped the public release of Windows 10 IoT Core, the pared-down version of Windows 10 for embedded devices, including the Intel MinnowBoard Max and the Raspberry Pi 2."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The TR Podcast 183: Diving into Skylake with David Kanter
- Tilted nanomagnets could make good memory chips @ Nanotechweb
- TSMC says 16nm ramp on schedule @ DigiTimes
- Samsung starts mass producing 256Gb V-NAND to rival Intel and SanDisk @ The Inquirer
- Windows 10 cluster update puts some users into a reboot loop @ The Inquirer
- Foxconn to build 1,500-acre, US$5billion complex in India @ The Register
- Google's new parent Alphabet owns abc.xyz – and, yup, there's already an abc.wtf @ The Register
- BlackBerry Denies QNX Was To Blame In Jeep Cherokee Hack @ Slashdot
- Susan Sheridan, voice of Hitchhiker's Trillian, dies aged 68 @ The Register
- Tech ARP 2015 Mega Giveaway #5 : Mi 10400 mAh Power Banks
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 10, 2015 - 06:14 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: overclocking, overclock, open source, nvidia, MSI Afterburner, API
An author called "2PKAQWTUQM2Q7DJG" (likely not a real name) has published a fascinating little article today on his/her Wordpress blog entitled, "Overclocking Tools for NVIDIA GPUs Suck. I Made My Own". What it contains is a full account of the process of creating an overclocking tool beyond the constraints of common utilities such as MSI Afterburner.
By probing MSI's OC utility using Ollydbg (an x86 "assembler level analysing debugger") the author was able to track down how Afterburner was working.
“nvapi.dll” definitely gets loaded here using LoadLibrary/GetModuleHandle. We’re on the right track. Now where exactly is that lib used? ... That’s simple, with the program running and the realtime graph disabled (it polls NvAPI constantly adding noise to the mass of API calls). we place a memory breakpoint on the .Text memory segment of the NVapi.dll inside MSI Afterburner’s process... Then we set the sliders in the MSI tool to get some negligible GPU underclock and hit the “apply” button. It breaks inside NvAPI… magic!
After further explaining the process and his/her source code for an overclocking utility, the user goes on to show the finished product in the form of a command line utility.
There is a link to the finished version of this utility at the end of the article, as well as the entire process with all source code. It makes for an interesting read (even for the painfully inept at programming, such as myself), and the provided link to download this mysterious overclocking utility (disguised as a JPG image file, no less) makes it both tempting and a little dubious. Does this really allow overclocking any NVIDIA GPU, including mobile? What could be the harm in trying?? In all seriousness however since some of what was seemingly uncovered in the article is no doubt proprietary, how long will this information be available?
It would probably be wise to follow the link to the Wordpress page ASAP!
Subject: Systems | August 10, 2015 - 03:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Celeron 3205U, DS57U, shuttle, SFF
Madshrimps have just wrapped up testing the Intel Celeron 3205U powered Shuttle DS57U, a SFF system which can be mounted to the back of a monitor with VESA or placed beside your monitor in the included stand. The presence of two serial ports, WOL and resume after power outage mean this little system could also be used in industrial or POS duties. It is worth noting that this system only supports 1.35V SODIMMs, make sure to choose the proper RAM to avoid disappointment. Check out the full review here; if you like the case but not the CPU there are i3, i5 and even an i7 model for you to consider.
"Shuttle has built the DS57U inside a proven chassis, which takes quite little space and succeeds to cool the internal components without the need of extra fans; one of the case laterals is acting like a huge heatsink and in this case it only remains warm even when the system is stressed to the max."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Wired2Fire Diablo Reactor Gaming PC @ Kitguru
- ZOTAC ZBOX Nano CI540 Plus Review @ Bjorn3d
- OCUK Evolution Wrath System @ Kitguru
- KitGuru Complete Guide to PC Workstations - Part 3
Subject: Storage | August 10, 2015 - 03:07 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: adata, XPG SX930, JMF670H
ADATA's new XPG SX930 series is aimed at enthusiasts on a budget, the 120GB is about $65, the 240GB at $110 and the 480GB at $200. The SSDs use the JMicron JMF670H controller, not one we have seen before and they also have a pseudo SLC cache which grows with the size of the drive from 4GB to 8GB to 16GB for the 480GB model. The SSD Review tested out all three drives and found that the advertised speeds of 550MB/s read and 460MB/s write were more or less accurate and the drives did fairly well in their other tests as well. If you need more speedy storage and are on a budget you should check out their full review.
"ADATA has memory products for all sections of the market, from consumer to industrial. As of late they have released a new consumer SSD, the XPG SX930. It is marketed towards the gamer and overclocker crowd at a pretty competitive price point."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- SK hynix Canvas SC300 512GB SSD @ Kitguru
- Samsung 850 EVO 2TB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- MyDigitalSSD 240GB SATA m.2 SSD @ Benchmark Reviews
- Silicon Power Blaze B50 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ NikKTech
- QNAP TS-453mini NAS Review @ Madshrimps
- Seagate Enterprise Capacity 2.5 HDD V3 2TB SATA III Review @ NikKTech
- Silicon Power Armor A65 1TB USB 3.0 Hard Disk @ eTeknix
- Seagate Backup Plus Slim @ HardwareHeaven
- Synology DiskStation DS1515 @ Legion Hardware
- QNAP TS-453 Mini 4-Bay Stylish and Quiet Vertical NAS @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech | August 10, 2015 - 12:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: windows 10, oops, microsoft
Microsoft promised that Windows 10 would not be pushed out to computers on a Domain, or at least allow you to block the update; a claim which has turned out to be slightly less than accurate. If you are running a Windows 7 Domain which still relies Microsoft update as opposed to WSUS you may have noticed some serious traffic spikes this morning. That is because some, perhaps all, of your computers are slurping down the 3GB Windows 10 update. Check the Register for links to Microsoft and consider blocking Microsoft Update on your firewall until this has been sorted, unless you like a slow network and living dangerously.
"The problem is affecting domain-attached Windows 7 PCs not signed up to Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) for patches and updates, but looking for a Microsoft update instead."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- How To Stop Windows 10 From Automatically Rebooting Itself @ TechARP
- A Linux User's Review Of Microsoft Windows 10 @ Phoronix
- A close shave: How to destroy your hard drives without burning down the data centre @ The Register
- Making The Most of Skype on Linux @ Linux.com
- Khronos Debuts OpenGL ES 3.2 & New GL Extensions, But No Vulkan This Week @ Phoronix
- Hacking the Amazon Dash Button to Record Whatever You Want @ Hack a Day
- The internet has suffered deeply from Adobe web font withdrawal @ The Inquirer
- Hack a garage and the car inside with a child's toy and a few chips @ The Register
- Build an Easy and Cheap Tabletop Spray Booth @ MAKE:Blog
- Hardware Asylum Podcast - EVGA GTX 980TI Classified and MSI X99A Godlike
- "Pixels" DMCA Takedown Even Worse Than We Thought @ Slashdot
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 10, 2015 - 09:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: vulkan, spir, siggraph 2015, Siggraph, opengl sc, OpenGL ES, opengl, opencl, Khronos
When the Khronos Group announced Vulkan at GDC, they mentioned that the API is coming this year, and that this date is intended to under promise and over deliver. Recently, fans were hoping that it would be published at SIGGRAPH, which officially begun yesterday. Unfortunately, Vulkan has not released. It does hold a significant chunk of the news, however. Also, it's not like DirectX 12 is holding a commanding lead at the moment. The headers were public only for a few months, and the code samples are less than two weeks old.
The organization made announcements for six products today: OpenGL, OpenGL ES, OpenGL SC, OpenCL, SPIR, and, as mentioned, Vulkan. They wanted to make their commitment clear, to all of their standards. Vulkan is urgent, but some developers will still want the framework of OpenGL. Bind what you need to the context, then issue a draw and, if you do it wrong, the driver will often clean up the mess for you anyway. The briefing was structure to be evident that it is still in their mind, which is likely why they made sure three OpenGL logos greeted me in their slide deck as early as possible. They are also taking and closely examining feedback about who wants to use Vulkan or OpenGL, and why.
As for Vulkan, confirmed platforms have been announced. Vendors have committed to drivers on Windows 7, 8, 10, Linux, including Steam OS, and Tizen (OSX and iOS are absent, though). Beyond all of that, Google will accept Vulkan on Android. This is a big deal, as Google, despite its open nature, has been avoiding several Khronos Group standards. For instance, Nexus phones and tablets do not have OpenCL drivers, although Google isn't stopping third parties from rolling it into their devices, like Samsung and NVIDIA. Direct support of Vulkan should help cross-platform development as well as, and more importantly, target the multi-core, relatively slow threaded processors of those devices. This could even be of significant use for web browsers, especially in sites with a lot of simple 2D effects. Google is also contributing support from their drawElements Quality Program (dEQP), which is a conformance test suite that they bought back in 2014. They are going to expand it to Vulkan, so that developers will have more consistency between devices -- a big win for Android.
While we're not done with Vulkan, one of the biggest announcements is OpenGL ES 3.2 and it fits here nicely. At around the time that OpenGL ES 3.1 brought Compute Shaders to the embedded platform, Google launched the Android Extension Pack (AEP). This absorbed OpenGL ES 3.1 and added Tessellation, Geometry Shaders, and ASTC texture compression to it. It was also more tension between Google and cross-platform developers, feeling like Google was trying to pull its developers away from Khronos Group. Today, OpenGL ES 3.2 was announced and includes each of the AEP features, plus a few more (like “enhanced” blending). Better yet, Google will support it directly.
Next up are the desktop standards, before we finish with a resurrected embedded standard.
OpenGL has a few new extensions added. One interesting one is the ability to assign locations to multi-samples within a pixel. There is a whole list of sub-pixel layouts, such as rotated grid and Poisson disc. Apparently this extension allows developers to choose it, as certain algorithms work better or worse for certain geometries and structures. There were probably vendor-specific extensions for a while, but now it's a ratified one. Another extension allows “streamlined sparse textures”, which helps manage data where the number of unpopulated entries outweighs the number of populated ones.
OpenCL 2.0 was given a refresh, too. It contains a few bug fixes and clarifications that will help it be adopted. C++ headers were also released, although I cannot comment much on it. I do not know the state that OpenCL 2.0 was in before now.
And this is when we make our way back to Vulkan.
SPIR-V, the code that runs on the GPU (or other offloading device, including the other cores of a CPU) in OpenCL and Vulkan is seeing a lot of community support. Projects are under way to allow developers to write GPU code in several interesting languages: Python, .NET (C#), Rust, Haskell, and many more. The slide lists nine that Khronos Group knows about, but those four are pretty interesting. Again, this is saying that you can write code in the aforementioned languages and have it run directly on a GPU. Curiously missing is HLSL, and the President of Khronos Group agreed that it would be a useful language. The ability to cross-compile HLSL into SPIR-V means that shader code written for DirectX 9, 10, 11, and 12 could be compiled for Vulkan. He expects that it won't take long for a project to start, and might already be happening somewhere outside his Google abilities. Regardless, those who are afraid to program in the C-like GLSL and HLSL shading languages might find C# and Python to be a bit more their speed, and they seem to be happening through SPIR-V.
As mentioned, we'll end on something completely different.
For several years, the OpenGL SC has been on hiatus. This group defines standards for graphics (and soon GPU compute) in “safety critical” applications. For the longest time, this meant aircraft. The dozens of planes (which I assume meant dozens of models of planes) that adopted this technology were fine with a fixed-function pipeline. It has been about ten years since OpenGL SC 1.0 launched, which was based on OpenGL ES 1.0. SC 2.0 is planned to launch in 2016, which will be based on the much more modern OpenGL ES 2 and ES 3 APIs that allow pixel and vertex shaders. The Khronos Group is asking for participation to direct SC 2.0, as well as a future graphics and compute API that is potentially based on Vulkan.
The devices that this platform intends to target are: aircraft (again), automobiles, drones, and robots. There are a lot of ways that GPUs can help these devices, but they need a good API to certify against. It needs to withstand more than an Ouya, because crashes could be much more literal.
Subject: Processors | August 8, 2015 - 05:55 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Skylake, Intel, delid, CPU die, cpu, Core i7-6700K
PC Watch, a Japanese computer hardware website, acquired at least one Skylake i7-6700K and removed the heatspreader. With access to the bare die, they took some photos and tested a few thermal compound replacements, which quantifies how good (or bad) Intel's default thermal grease is. As evidenced by the launch of Ivy Bridge and, later, Devil's Canyon, the choice of thermal interface between the die and the lid can make a fairly large difference in temperatures and overclocking.
Image Credit: PC Watch
They chose the vice method for the same reason that Morry chose this method in his i7-4770k delid article last year. This basically uses a slight amount of torque and external pressure or shock to pop the lid off the processor. Despite how it looks, this is considered to be less traumatic than using a razer blade to cut the seal, because human hands are not the most precise instruments and a slight miss could damage the PCB. PC Watch, apparently, needed to use a wrench to get enough torque on the vice, which is transferred to the processor as pressure.
Image Credit: PC Watch
Of course, Intel could always offer enthusiasts with choices in thermal compounds before they put the lid on, which would be safest. How about that, Intel?
Image Credit: PC Watch
With the lid off, PC Watch mentioned that the thermal compound seems to be roughly the same as Devil's Canyon, which is quite good. They also noticed that the PCB is significantly more thin than Haswell, dropping in thickness from about 1.1mm to about 0.8mm. For some benchmarks, they tested it with the stock interface, an aftermarket solution called Prolimatech PK-3, and a liquid metal alloy called Coollaboratory Liquid Pro.
Image Credit: PC Watch
At 4.0 GHz, PK-3 dropped the temperature by about 4 degrees Celsius, while Liquid Metal knocked it down 16 degrees. At 4.6 GHz, PK-3 continued to give a delta of about 4 degrees, while Liquid Metal widened its gap to 20 degrees. It reduced an 88 C temperature to 68 C!
Image Credit: PC Watch
There are obviously limitations to how practical this is. If you were concerned about thermal wear on your die, you probably wouldn't forcibly remove its heatspreader from its PCB to acquire it. That would be like performing surgery on yourself to remove your own appendix, which wasn't inflamed, just in case. Also, from an overclocking standpoint, heat doesn't scale with frequency. Twenty degrees is a huge gap, but even a hundred MHz could eat it up, depending on your die.
It's still interesting for those who try, though.
Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2015 - 01:31 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: fud, security, Intel, amd, x86, SMM
The SSM security hole that Christopher Domas has demonstrated (pdf) is worrying but don't panic, it requires your system to be compromised before you are vulnerable. That said, once you have access to the SMM you can do anything you feel like to the computer up to and including ensuring you can reinfect the machine even after a complete format or UEFI update. The flaw was proven on Intel x86 machines but is likely to apply to AMD processors as well as they were using the same architecture around the turn of the millennium and thankfully the issue has been mitigated in recent processors. Intel will be releasing patches for effected CPUs, although not all the processors can be patched and we have yet to hear from AMD. You can get an over view of the issue by following the link at Slashdot and speculate on if this flaw was a mistake or inserted there on purpose in our comment section.
"Security researcher Christopher Domas has demonstrated a method of installing a rootkit in a PC's firmware that exploits a feature built into every x86 chip manufactured since 1997. The rootkit infects the processor's System Management Mode, and could be used to wipe the UEFI or even to re-infect the OS after a clean install. Protection features like Secure Boot wouldnt help, because they too rely on the SMM to be secure."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Millions of Android devices pwned in single text attack ... again @ The Inquirer
- Mozilla Issues Fix For Firefox Zero-Day Bug @ Slashdot
- Microsoft plays down playing fast and loose with Windows 10 privacy @ The Inquirer
- Ransacked US OPM wins Pwnie Award for 'Most EPIC Fail' @ The Register
- Hacking Team brewed potent iOS poison for non-jailbroken iThings @ The Register
- Tesla Model S Has Been Hacked @ Slashdot
- Asus EA-AC87 4×4 wireless bridge @ Kitguru
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 7, 2015 - 10:46 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: sdk, Oculus, nvidia, direct driver mode, amd
In an email sent out by Oculus this morning, the company has revealed some interesting details about the upcoming release of the Oculus SDK 0.7 on August 20th. The most interesting change is the introduction of Direct Driver Mode, developed in tandem with both AMD and NVIDIA.
This new version of the SDK will remove the simplistic "Extended Mode" that many users and developers implemented for a quick and dirty way of getting the Rift development kits up and running. However, that implementation had the downside of additional latency, something that Oculus is trying to eliminate completely.
Here is what Oculus wrote about the "Direct Driver Mode" in its email to developers:
Direct Driver Mode is the most robust and reliable solution for interfacing with the Rift to date. Rather than inserting VR functionality between the OS and the graphics driver, headset awareness is added directly to the driver. As a result, Direct Driver Mode avoids many of the latency challenges of Extended Mode and also significantly reduces the number of conflicts between the Oculus SDK and third party applications. Note that Direct Driver Mode requires new drivers from NVIDIA and AMD, particularly for Kepler (GTX 645 or better) and GCN (HD 7730 or better) architectures, respectively.
We have heard NVIDIA and AMD talk about the benefits of direct driver implementations for VR headsets for along time. NVIDIA calls its software implementation GameWorks VR and AMD calls its software support LiquidVR. Both aim to do the same thing - give more direct access to the headset hardware to the developer while offering new ways for faster and lower latency rendering to games.
Both companies have unique features to offer as well, including NVIDIA and it's multi-res shading technology. Check out our interview with NVIDIA on the topic below:
NVIDIA's Tom Petersen came to our offices to talk about GameWorks VR
Other notes in the email include a tentative scheduled release of November for the 1.0 version of the Oculus SDK. But until that version releases, Oculus is only guaranteeing that each new runtime will support the previous version of the SDK. So, when SDK 0.8 is released, you can only guarantee support for it and 0.7. When 0.9 comes out, game developers will need make sure they are at least on SDK 0.8 otherwise they risk incompatibility. Things will be tough for developers in this short window of time, but Oculus claims its necessary to "allow them to more rapidly evolve the software architecture and API." After SDK 1.0 hits, future SDK releases will continue to support 1.0.
Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2015 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, DOTA 2
MOBAs tend to be focus on gameplay mechanics with three to five players per team. The concept is that a handful of players will need to balance between the various attack paths, and a limited amount of cooperation is possible before you start leaving zones uncovered. It also means that one problematic player can tank an entire team.
This will not change in the official DOTA 2 game, but Valve is expanding the limit for custom games. At The International 5, Valve announced that those games can support up to 24 players. The first public game was a 10 vs 10 match at the end of the fourth day of the tournament. While I don't play DOTA 2, it sounds like Custom Games in DOTA 2 Reborn are a lot like StarCraft Arcade, where users can create mods like dungeon crawlers and even objective-based games. In this case, an increased player limit would be very useful. I am not sure whether it works for the base game, though -- maybe it works better?
This patch launches next week.
Subject: Storage | August 6, 2015 - 06:37 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: SSD 750, ssd, pcie, NVMe, Intel
A new 800GB SKU of the Intel SSD 750 Series of PCIe SSDs was hinted at with the Skylake launch press materials, and it appears to have been a reality:
They may not be on the shelves yet, but appearing on ARK is a pretty good indicator that these are coming soon. We don't have pricing yet, but I would suspect a cost/GB closer to the 1.2TB model than to the 400GB model, which should come in at around $700. Performance sees a slight hit for the 800GB model, likely since this is an 'uneven' number of dies for the design of the SSD DC P3500 line it was based on.
Which would you prefer - a single 800GB or a pair of 400GB SSD 750's in a RAID (now that it is possible)?
Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2015 - 06:18 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, wow, blizzard
Shortly after Blizzard has released their financial results, they announced “Legion”, a new expansion pack for World of Warcraft. They are arriving more rapidly than they have in the past. The amount of time between Mists of Pandaria's release and Warlords of Draenor's announcement is a little more than a year and a month. A year later, Warlords of Draenor was released and now, nine months later, Legion was announced. I expect that the stream of content is to either stimulate subscriptions or, less likely, finish the narrative before the game fades out.
Image via PC Gamer
Before we get to the expansion, we'll briefly mention those financial results. In May, Blizzard reported that, while Warlords of Draenor pushed the subscription count to over 10 million, it fell back down to about 7.1 million by the end of the quarter. This is a loss of about 29%. This quarter saw another loss of about 1.5 million subscribers, from 7.1 million to 5.6 million. This is a loss of about 27%. This is a fairly steady, exponential loss of a little more than 25% every 3 months, which is fairly quick. This also means that Draenor was enough to offset about six months. Not much more to say about that -- I just find it interesting.
As for Legion, it will be a fairly sizable boost in content. The level cap has been increased to 110, which will hopefully include new skills and armor leading up to it. A new class, Demon Hunter, has also been added. You will not need to level them up from 1, and they will be capable as either DPS or tank. Of course, new raids will be included. Blizzard seems to have wanted to highlight dungeons, however. The way it was described to PC Gamer makes it sound like they want them to be more interesting as set pieces, with story and an interesting environment.
No pricing or availability information, but we'll probably hear a lot at Blizzcon.