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Subject: General Tech | July 24, 2014 - 02:28 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: battlefield, battlefield hardline
Yeah, I will admit it, the title is a joke. EA can annualize Battlefield as much as they like (as long as quality does not drop). The point is that Battlefield: Hardline has been delayed until early 2015. It is only a few extra months, which haters can still it to be a yearly release schedule, but it will not be under your tree, at least not this year.
Apparently, release dates are not hard lines...
DICE (not Visceral??) made the announcement on their Battlefield blog. Three areas will be worked on with the free time: Multiplayer "Innovation", Single Player Story "Depth", and Stability. I could remember a time, prior to ubiquitous internet access, that "stability" was a certification requirement, not a stretch goal. That was also a time that some platform owners could push you out of their first-party release windows to increase their own sales. I guess, give and take?
Battlefield: Hardline is now set for a launch in early 2015. That should be one less distraction from your Grand Theft Auto V PC experience.
Subject: Motherboards | July 24, 2014 - 12:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: biostar, z97, Hi-Fi Z97WE
BioStar's Hi-Fi Z97WE is so named for the EMI shield over the Realtek ALC892 audio codec though on the board The Tech Report tested it was less than effective at blocking noise from interfering with the headphone out when the GPU was under heavy load. On the other hand the Digital S/PDIF audio out is rare to see on a lower priced motherboard and will be attractive to some users, even with the lack of digital encoding. The two PCIe 16x slots can handle dual GPUs at 8x speeds but perhaps the most attractive feature is the M.2 slot for an SSD to be inserted. Check out how well it overclocks and the overall stability of this $124 motherboard in the full review.
"Biostar's latest Haswell motherboard sells for only $125, but it's specced like pricier alternatives. You get an overclocking-friendly Z97 chipset, PCIe slots primed for multi-GPU configs, an M.2 slot for next-gen SSDs, and upgraded audio hardware. We spent some quality time with the Hi-Fi Z97WE to see what it's really like, and you might be surprised by what we learned."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASUS Maximus VII Gene micro-ATX @ [H]ard|OCP
- Gigabyte Z97-D3H Motherboard Review @ Modders-Inc
- ASUS Z97I-PLUS mini-ITX Motherboard Review @ Techgage
- MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC @ eTeknix
- ASUS Maximus VII GENE Z97 Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC Motherboard Review @HiTech Legion
- Asus Maximus VII Ranger & Hero Motherboard @ Kitguru
- ASUS Z97 Gryphon Armor Edition @ eTeknix
- Gigabyte Z97X-GAMING G1 WIFI-BK (Intel LGA 1150) @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte Z97X-SOC FORCE Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- ASUS Z97-A @ X-bit Labs
- ASRock FM2A88X Extreme6+ @ Benchmark Reviews
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 24, 2014 - 11:32 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, microsoft, netbook, Bay Trail
According to DigiTimes we may see a resurgence of netbooks, this time powered by Bay Trail which will make them far more usable than the original generation. There are three postulated tiers, the $200-250 range of 10.1-15.6" models and $250-400 or $400-600 in 11.6-17.3" which will make them larger in size than the original generation which failed to attract many consumers. They are currently scheduled to ship with Bay Trail-M with future models likely to have Braswell inside in a mix of transformer style 2 in 1's with touchscreens and more traditional laptop designs. You can expect to see a maximum thickness of 25mm and a mix of HDD and SSD storage on these and we can only hope that the estimated pricing is more accurate than the pricing on Ultrabooks turned out to be.
"For the US$199-249 notebooks, Intel and Microsoft's specification preferences are 10.1- to 15.6-inch clamshell non-touchscreen models using Intel's Bay Trail-M series processors or upcoming Braswell-based processors, which are set to release in the second quarter of 2015."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- GOG.com Announces Linux Support @ Slashdot
- FCC Reminds ISPs That They Can Be Fined For Lacking Transparency @ Slashdot
- Apple to become largest client for TSMC, say sources @ DigiTimes
- Oracle releases its 'unbreakable' homebrew Oracle Linux 7 @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft: We're making ONE TRUE WINDOWS to rule us all @ The Register
- FRIKKIN' LASERS could REPLACE fibre-optic comms cables @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | July 24, 2014 - 09:58 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, nvidia, shield, shield tablet, tegra, tegra k1, WD, red, 6tb red, 4tb red pro, A88X-G45 Gaming, xiaomi, maxwell, amd, Intel
PC Perspective Podcast #310 - 07/24/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet, WD 6TB Red and 4TB Red Pro HDDs and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
Subject: Storage | July 23, 2014 - 03:21 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, Red Pro, red, 6tb, 4TB
Western Digital has extended its Red line with 5 and 6TB models, sporting 1.2TB per platter. Performance is expected to be slightly improved over the older / smaller capacities of the Red. The upgraded line will use an improved 'NASware 3.0' firmware, which makes improvements to Western Digital's software based vibration compensation. These improvements mean WD can now support up to 8 Reds in a single chassis (up from 5 with NASware 2.0).
Also announced was the new Red Pro line, available in capacities up to 4TB. The Red Pro is just as it sounds - a 'Pro' version of the Red. This model borrows more features from WD's enterprise line, making it very similar to an SE series HDD. Imagine a Red, but at 7200RPM and more aggressive seek times. The Red Pro also borrows the enterprise-grade 5-year warranty and is supported in chassis up to 16 bays, thanks to built-in hardware vibration compensation. When all is said and done, the Red Pro is basically a WD SE with firmware tweaked for NAS workloads.
We typically have our WD reviews post right at the NDA. On this piece, we opted to hold back as we've been working with Western Digital on some abnormal performance results we saw with the 6TB Red. Below are the results seen in Iometer. Note that the 6TB Red failed to demonstrate the expected 'ramp up' seen with other drives. HDDs normally show increased performance as Queue Depth increases. This is because the HDD controller is able to see multiple pending requests and optimize its access pattern. The more commands in the queue (higher QD), the more the HDD can optimize the pattern, and therefore the higher resulting IOPS seen.
As you can see above, the 6TB Red appears to behave as if NCQ is disabled. Some might argue (in reviews that have already published) that the drive still performs well, but the plain truth of the matter is that a HDD effectively operating without NCQ removes the drives ability to scale when multiple commands are issued. Any test issuing more than one command simultaneously will see a lesser result as compared to a properly configured drive, so things like streaming multiple videos or several users actively simultaneously accessing a NAS will see a negative impact on performance.
The 4TB Red Pro did not demonstrate the issues noted above, and Western Digital has just issued this statement in response to our feedback. Here it is:
WD has learned that initial production units of WD Red 5* and 6 TB drives perform below our expectations in random-read benchmark tests when measured with specific testing software. We have found a configuration setting to be causing these particular test results, for which we are developing a firmware update to correct the configuration setting. In the intended application -- multi-drive NAS systems -- the drives have performed to our high expectations in WD’s labs and by our system partners; users will experience normal WD Red performance.
WD is committed to providing optimally performing storage products, designed for intended applications, and we will have a firmware update available through the WD Red Product Customer Service support line as it becomes available.
*Limited quantities of 5 TB have shipped with the earlier configuration setting.
We have decided to publish the full article covering both new drives, including the 6TB Red in its (currently shipping) misconfigured form. It will go live once I add the necessary verbiage explaining the misconfiguration seen on the 5TB and 6TB Red.
Stay tuned for that piece later tonight (**EDIT** our review is now live **EDIT**), as well as a follow-on piece to be published as soon as we have the updated firmware from Western Digital.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Shows and Expos | July 23, 2014 - 01:43 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: workshop, video, streaming, quakecon, prizes, live, giveaways
UPDATE: The event is over, but the video is embeded below if you want to see the presentations! Thanks again to everyone that attended and all of our sponsors!
It is that time of year again: another installment of the PC Perspective Hardware Workshop! Once again we will be presenting on the main stage at Quakecon 2014 being held in Dallas, TX July 17-20th.
Main Stage - Quakecon 2014
Saturday, July 19th, 12:00pm CT
Our thanks go out to the organizers of Quakecon for allowing us and our partners to put together a show that we are proud of every year. We love giving back to the community of enthusiasts and gamers that drive us to do what we do! Get ready for 2 hours of prizes, games and raffles and the chances are pretty good that you'll take something out with you - really, they are pretty good!
Our primary partners at the event are those that threw in for our ability to host the workshop at Quakecon and for the hundreds of shirts we have ready to toss out! Our thanks to NVIDIA, Seasonic and Logitech!!
If you can't make it to the workshop - don't worry! You can still watch the workshop live on our live page as we stream it over one of several online services. Just remember this URL: http://pcper.com/live and you will find your way!
PC Perspective LIVE Podcast and Meetup
We are planning on hosting any fans that want to watch us record our weekly PC Perspective Podcast (http://pcper.com/podcast) on Wednesday or Thursday evening in our meeting room at the Hilton Anatole. I don't yet know exactly WHEN or WHERE the location will be, but I will update this page accordingly on Wednesday July 16th when we get the data. You might also consider following me on Twitter for updates on that status as well.
After the recording, we'll hop over the hotel bar for a couple drinks and hang out. We have room for at leaast 50-60 people to join us in the room but we'll still be recording if just ONE of you shows up. :)
Prize List (will continue to grow!)
Subject: General Tech | July 23, 2014 - 10:40 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xiaomi, snapdragon 801, smartphone, mobile, LTE, Android 4.4.2
Yesterday, Xiaomi revealed a powerful smartphone called the Mi4 that looks to give the unlocked OnePlus One a run for its money. The new smartphone is launching first in China with an international version coming in the future.
The Xiaomi Mi4 features a 5" 1080p IPS LCD display, 13MP rear camera, and 8MP webcam. A metal band surrounds the outside edges of the phone while a stainless steel frame adds rigidity and protection for the internal hardware. The other bits of the case are plastic, however likely due to weight and signal reception concerns. There is a removable back cover that is available in several different designs and colors. The Mi4 is slightly bulkier than its predecessor at 0.35-inches thick and 149 grams.
Internally, the Mi4 uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC with four Krait 400 CPU cores clocked at 2.5GHz and an Adreno 330 GPU. Further, the smartphone features 3GB of RAM and either 16GB or 64GB of internal storage. It is powered by a 3,080 mAh battery which should provide ample battery life. Wireless connectivity includes dual band 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, 3G, and LTE. The WCDMA version of the smartphone will be available first with a CDMA version coming next month, and a 4G LTE capable device coming in September.
The smartphone runs Android 4.4.2 with a highly customized MIUI5 user interface. An updated version of the UI, called MIUI6 is reportedly coming in August, but it is unclear how soon Mi4 users can expect an upgrade.
The Xiaomi Mi4 will be available on July 29 for 1,999 Yuan ($322 USD) for the 16GB version and 2,499 Yuan ($403) for the 64GB version. Initially, it will be 3G only, but a 4G LTE capable version of the smartphone is coming in September (presumably for the same price). Even further out, an unlocked international version is said to be available for purchase in the future.
In all, the Mi4 looks to be a decent phone with enough design tweaks and hardware oomph to give existing high end smartphones a run for their money. You do sacrifice micro SD card support and stock Android, but if you can live with that and are in the target market (or can wait for an international version) it is worth keeping an eye on!
Subject: General Tech | July 23, 2014 - 10:08 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: dropbox, data privacy, encryption
Dropbox has faced many questions about the privacy of the data held on their service after modified links were shown to successfully connect to private portions of accounts as well as their ability to hand over all your content in readable form to authorities. While for many the lack of encryption is not much of a concern, businesses cannot afford to be so lax with potentially valuable client data stored on Dropbox. This use of Dropbox by businesses is far more common than you may think and may expand with the announcement of Dropbox for Business and the expanded services available for this new service.
For those with security concerns about storing unencrypted data on Dropbox it would seem that the recommendation is to use third party client side encryption software. That does mean that the new search features will not work as Dropbox will be unable to index files as they pointed out to The Inquirer and other media. Dropbox does have a decent reputation for protecting the data they store but for those intending to store proprietary data on the cloud the balance between ease of use and privacy should be considered before moving to any cloud storage provider.
"DROPBOX HAS DEFENDED its record on privacy following allegations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that it is "hostile to privacy"."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- THUD! WD plonks down SIX TERABYTE 'consumer NAS' fatboy @ The Register
- Experts gathered round corpse of PC market: It's ALIVE! Alive, we tell you @ The Register
- DIY Conductive Paint For All Your Wearable Needs @ Hack a Day
Subject: Processors | July 22, 2014 - 01:15 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: linux, Pentium G3258, ubuntu 14.10
Phoronix tested out the 20th Anniversary Pentium CPU on Ubuntu 14.10 and right off the bat were impressed as they managed a perfectly stable overclock of 4.4GHz on air. Using Linux 3.16 and Mesa 10.2 they had no issues with the performance of the onboard GPU though the performance lagged behind the fast GPU present on the Haswell chips they tested against. When they benchmarked the CPU the lack of Advanced Vector Extensions and the fact that it is a dual core CPU showed in the results but when you consider the difference in price for a G3258's compared to a 4770K it fares quite well. Stay tuned for their next set of benchmarks which will compare the G3258 to AMD's current offerings.
"Up for review today on Phoronix is the Pentium G3258, the new processor Intel put out in celebration of their Pentium brand turning 20 years old. This new Pentium G3258 processor costs under $100 USD and comes unlocked for offering quite a bit overclocking potential while this Pentium CPU can be used by current Intel 8 and 9 Series Chipsets. Here's our first benchmarks of the Intel Pentium G3258 using Ubuntu Linux."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- Intel Core i7 4790K – Haswell gets a refresh @ Bjorn3D
- Haswell Devils Canyon Performance @ Hardware Asylum
- AMD Athlon 5350 and Gigabyte GA-AM1M-S2H @ Benchmark Reviews
- AMD FX-9590 & FX-9370 Review @ OCC
Subject: Storage | July 22, 2014 - 01:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, ssd, Pro 2500, enterprise, encryption, mcafee
Intel has not offered many products which take advantage of their takeover of McAfee, now known as Intel Security but today's release of the Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series changes that. This family of SSDs will work with McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator to allow the automatic implementation of hardware-based 256-bit encryption on these drives in a similar manner to what Endpoint Encryption has done in the past. Since it sits on the hardware Intel claims no impact to the speed is caused by the on the fly encryption. If you use Intel Setup and Configuration Software with vPro you can even monitor the health of deployed drives. Check out Intel's page here and the PR below.
SANTA CLARA, Calif., July 22, 2014 – Intel Corporation today announced an addition to the Intel® Solid-State Drive (SSD) Professional Family: the Intel® SSD Pro 2500 Series. This new business-class SSD delivers lower total cost of ownership, security and manageability features, and blazing-fast SSD performance demanded by today’s business users.
Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series offers IT departments peace of mind with advanced security features and capabilities designed for businesses ranging from small companies through large IT-managed enterprises. Security and remote manageability features, combined with lower annual failure rates than hard disk drives (HDDs), help to reduce the need for resource-intensive deskside visits.
Managing data security is critical for businesses and a challenge for IT leaders. Data breaches, often a result of lost or stolen PCs, can cost a business nearly $50,000 in lost productivity, replacement, data recovery and legal costs.1 To help businesses mitigate the threat of such costly breaches, the Intel Pro 2500 Series SSDs are self-encrypting drives (SED) utilizing hardware-based 256-bit encryption to protect data without a loss of performance. Additionally, the new Intel drives feature the Trusted Computing Group’s OPAL 2.0* standard and are Microsoft eDrive* capable. These policy-based controls help to prevent data breaches and support crypto erase to repurpose the drive for reuse.
“The need to protect assets, keep an eye on the bottom line and ensure employees have the best tools is a challenge for IT departments,” said Rob Crooke, Intel corporate vice president and general manager of the Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group. “The Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series is a well-rounded solution to help balance those often competing needs. Adding the Pro 2500 Series to the Intel SSD Professional Family delivers a powerful storage solution to help businesses of all sizes meet their critical IT needs.”
“The Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series is the second-generation OPAL-based client storage solution that helps IT departments protect their users’ data and also provides valuable features to reduce operational costs,” stated Candace Worley, senior vice president and general manager, Endpoint Security, McAfee*, part of Intel Security. “The Pro 2500 Series is a perfect companion to our data protection solutions, managed by McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator*, all working in concert to provide IT departments with data security, management and control, wherever their endpoints may be.”
In an environment with Intel® vPro™ Technology, with Intel® Setup and Configuration Software and leading security software, the Pro 2500 Series drives can be managed remotely allowing IT to monitor and report drive health as well as track assets and remedy faults. This remote manageability enforces IT policies to help prevent mishaps and simultaneously provides a great user experience. Embedded and Internet of Things applications can also take advantage of the remote manageability features to help limit the number of IT professionals needed to oversee devices. To assist in protecting user data and lower the total cost of ownership, applications such as ATMs and remote digital signage can be updated, monitored and managed remotely.
“Corporations of every size are facing the growing challenge of protecting sensitive data and ensuring compliance with a litany of data protection laws and regulations,” said Bill Solms, president and CEO of Wave Systems*. “The Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series offers a sound foundation for any data security program, incorporating hardware-level encryption without impacting drive performance. Wave’s on-premise and cloud-based management software complements the Intel SSD Pro 2500 by offering remote drive provisioning, automated password recovery and secure audit logs to document that encryption was in place should a laptop become lost or stolen.”
The Intel SSD Professional Family is part of the Intel® Stable Image Platform Program, including a 15-month availability of the components and drivers for compatibility and stability across a qualified IT image. This helps minimize IT qualification and deployment times. The Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series also features five advance power modes helping to balance performance and power to enable a longer battery life and provide a better mobile experience.
The Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series will be available in both 2.5-inch and M.2 form factors and in capacities ranging from 120GB to 480GB. The Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series is backed by a 5-year limited warranty and features a world-class annualized failure rate (AFR) well below 1 percent. The AFRs of other SSDs and HDDs can reach as high as 5 percent or more in mobile environments.
Subject: General Tech | July 22, 2014 - 10:58 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: twitch, tegra k1, tegra, shield tablet, shield controller, shield, nvidia, grid, gamestream
Shame on you if you skipped Ryan's review of the new Shield, for those that have and are looking for a second opinion you can check out The Tech Report and other links below the fold. To quickly recap the controller is now optional but you can connect up to 4 simultaneously for group gaming, the built in 8" IPS display is capable of 1920x1200 and you can output video to an external monitor at 1080p. The 192 shader processors on the Tegra K1 SoC inside should have no problems with fast paced action at these resolutions and at launch there are almost a dozen games optimized for the K1. The focus on gaming performance is obvious but the inclusion of DirectStylus 2 for those who want to use the tablet for creating art adds an interesting extra feature to this tablet, especially if it will work with NVIDIA's ShadowPlay streaming technology as live broadcasts of artists drawing has become quite popular in some crowds. It will be very interesting to see this tablet compete against consoles and the soon to arrive Steamboxes.
"Just under a year since the release of the Shield Portable, Nvidia has announced a second member of the Shield family. As expected, it's the Shield Tablet, an Android slate with an emphasis on gaming. Like the Shield Portable before it, the Shield Tablet will sell direct from Nvidia, not from a partner company. The Shield Tablet extends Nvidia's Android gaming focus to a new form factor, making it one of the first tablets anywhere with a fairly pure gaming mission."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Tegra K1 Gaming is Near: NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet & Controller Preview @ Techgage
- NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet Preview @ Hardware Canucks
- Nvidia officially reveals the Shield tablet @ Kitguru
- A newer kind of web tracking is almost impossible to stop @ engadget
- Handheld device allows anyone to instantly test drinks for date rape drugs @ ExtremeTech
- Intel announces 'self encrypting' solid state drives to fight data breaches @ The Inquirer
- GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work? @ The Register
- Asus RP-AC52 Wireless Range Extender review @ Bjorn3D
Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2014 - 02:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: turtle beach, gaming headset, Ear Force Z SEVEN, audio
At some time in the very near future, if this naming trend does not reverse itself, the wraparound portion of headphones will have to be enlarged to be able to display the entire brand name legibly. The latest lengthy moniker is the Turtle Beach Ear Force Z SEVEN Gaming Headset with removable unidirectional microphone and Audio Control Unit. The mic is self explanatory but the ACU is an external sound card with voice morphing and headphone equalizer presets and has outputs for PC, Mac and Xbox; it is not a booster amp. Overall Legit Reviews found this headset to be a great generalist but not as good for specific usage such as taking advantage of positional in a game. Read on to see if they peak your interest.
"Turtle Beach is perhaps a name better known amongst console gamers since you can easily find their Ear Force lineup of headsets somewhere close to where the boxed console games are in certain stores. Most Turtle Beach Ear Force headsets are compatible with computers or any electronic device with a 3.5 mm jack nonetheless because most gamers or even most people make due with one set of headphones for all their devices. The Turtle Beach Z SEVEN we have for review is actually part of a much larger family of SEVEN headsets. Read on to find out more about it!"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Tt eSPORTS SYBARIS Wired And Wireless Gaming Headset Review @ NikKTech
- Superlux HD668B Headphones @ Benchmark Reviews
- Roccat Syva High Performance In-Ear Headset @ eTeknix
- LUXA2 GroovyW Bluetooth Speaker with Wireless Charging Station Review @ NikKTech
- Cowin Cutebeat BT Vibration Speaker @ Kitguru
- Creative Sound BlasterAxx Axx 200 Intelligent Wireless Sound System Review @ NikKTech
Subject: Systems | July 21, 2014 - 12:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: shuttle, htpc, SFF, DS81, barebones
The Shuttle DS81 ships with an H81 motherboard, an external 90 W power adapter and the 190 x 165 x 43mm case of course. That means you have your choice of installed Linux or Windows and any combination of 65W or lower Haswell processor, memory and storage device to add to the ~$200 enclosure. For outputs it provides HDMI and two DisplayPorts which means it can theoretically support 4K video, a pair of both USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports and two LAN ports as WiFi is optional. While it has only headphone out for audio, the onboard codec is capable of outputting digital sound through DP or HDMI which would be the preference of many users. Check out MadShrimps full review here.
"The Slim PC chassis from been reincarnated in the shape of the DS81 which supports the latest Haswell processors with a TDP up to 65W and supports 4K video output thanks to the DirectX 11.1 IGP. The DS81 chassis features a 1.3-liter slim design with a thickness of only 43mm, so it is suitable for many commercial applications; a VESA mount is also included as a bundle in order to mount the device behind the monitor."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Shuttle Fanless Slim-PC DS437T @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte BRIX Pro Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Amazon Fire TV: A Nice Device For Internet Video Streaming @ Phoronix
- Amazon Fire TV vs Google Chromecast @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2014 - 11:12 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: win 8.1, microsoft
Windows 8 and 8.1, non-update 1 version, are already essentially EoL with only limited support offered those rare businesses which deployed the new version of Windows. If the rumours that The Inquirer have been hearing are correct then
Service Pack Update 2 will be arrive on August 12th and herald the end of Windows 8.1 updates a mere two years after release. Win 8.1 U2 will probably be with us for a while, the release of Win 9 is rumoured to be about 12 months away still and the Metro version is likely to appear on mobile devices for a while now. It is extremely unlikely that the Start Menu will be included in this update but for those who are running Win 8.1 U1 it is worth considering turning off Automatic Updates if you are worried about encountering boot issues similar to what happened during the initial push of 8.1 U1.
"MICROSOFT WILL RELEASE the second and final update for Windows 8.1 as part of Patch Tuesday in August, rumours have claimed."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash @ The Register
- Spot Welder; Don’t Buy It, Build It @ Hack a Day
- Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers @ The Register
- Netgear R7000 Router & EX6200 Extender Review @ Hardware Canucks
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 20, 2014 - 12:41 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: shield tablet, shield 2, shield, nvidia
In Europe, NVIDIA set up a simple, official page. Its title is "THE ULTIMATE IS COMING | NVIDIA". On it are the words, "The Ultimate Is Coming" as well as a countdown to 9 AM EDT on Tuesday, July 22nd. At the same time, North Americans get "Ultimate Quest", a text adventure game which ends on -- surprise -- Tuesday with a giveaway of "something big" for the first players who finish.
Allegedly leaked slide - Not Official!
All images credit: Videocardz (and they have more).
What is it? It is very likely the rumored SHIELD tablet, especially considering Videocardz has convincing slides which are definitely made in NVIDIA's style. What made SHIELD so unique was its controller form factor (and NVIDIA's software support). According to the slides, the controller will now be a wireless accessory to the base tablet. What will come standard is a stylus, the "DirectStylus 2 with 3D Paint". This seems like an odd addition, unless they have already planned use cases.
Allegedly leaked slide - Not Official!
As for the tablet? The slides claim Tegra K1, 2GB of RAM, 1920x1200 display, 5MP (HDR) front and rear cameras, and a MicroSD card slot. Previously, leaks suggested a 640x480 front-facing camera, which did not make sense to me. With the original SHIELD lacking a camera, it seemed very odd to relaunch with a bad one. 5MP, especially if it is a good sensor, is much more reasonable (especially for the front-facing one).
Allegedly leaked slide - Not Official!
The leaks also suggest interesting price points, especially for such a powerful tablet. These details can change at a moment's notice, though, so I won't really acknowledge it (apart from embedding the slide below). They do seem to be targeting the end of the month for North America, or middle August for Europe, which is a very quick launch. Then again, it is ready enough to be a prize for a contest which ends on Tuesday.
Allegedly leaked slide - Not Official!
I except we will see how much of this, if anything, holds up on Tuesday.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | July 19, 2014 - 02:13 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: quakecon 2014, quakecon, id, crytek
Tiago Sousa was "Lead R&D Graphics Engineer" at Crytek, according to his now defunct Twitter account, "@CRYTEK_TIAGO". According to his new Twitter account, "@idSoftwareTiago", he will be joining id Software to help with DOOM and idTech 6.
A little less DOOM and gloom.
I find this more interesting because idTech 5 has not exactly seen much usage, outside of RAGE. Wolfenstein: The New Order was also released on the technology, two months ago. There is one other game planned -- and that is it. Sure, RAGE is almost three years old and the engine was first revealed in 2007, making it seven-year-old technology, basically. Still, that is a significant investment to see basically no return on, especially considering that its sales figures were not too impressive (Steam and other digital delivery services excluded).
Happy to announce i'll be helping the amazingly talented id Software team with Doom and idTech 6. Very excited :)
— Tiago Sousa (@idSoftwareTiago) July 18, 2014
I also cannot tell if this looks positive for id, after mixed comments from current and former employees (or people who claim to be), or bad for Crytek. The latter company was rumored to be hurting for cash since 2011 and saw the departure of many employees. I expect that there will be more to this story in the coming months and years.
Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2014 - 01:12 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, espn, DOTA 2, DOTA
eSports? Did someone say sports? ESPN is there. DOTA 2 is one of the most popular PC Games, #2 in Raptr's listing, and currently the most played Valve game (by more than a factor of two over Counter-Strike: GO). The International 2014 is their fourth multi-million dollar tournament. This year's prize pool of almost $11 million USD.
And ESPN is broadcasting it on TV through their ESPN3 channel. On Sunday, the second-last day of the tournament, ESPN2 will air "Live from The International" at 11:30 PM EDT (UTC-4). This will have match highlights, discussion, interviews with players, and an interview with Gabe Newell. The tournament will host its grand finals the next day, on ESPN3.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | July 19, 2014 - 12:29 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, maxwell, mobile gpu, mobile graphics
Apparently, some hardware sites got their hands on an NVIDIA driver listing with several new product codes. They claim thirteen N16(P/E) chips are listed (although I count twelve (??)). While I do not have much knowledge of NVIDIA's internal product structure, the GeForce GTX 880M, based on Kepler, is apparently listed as N15E.
Things have changed a lot since this presentation.
These new parts will allegedly be based on the second-generation Maxwell architecture. Also, the source believes that these new GPUs will in the GeForce GTX 800-series, possibly with the MX suffix that was last seen in October 2012 with the GeForce GTX 680MX. Of course, being a long-time PC gamer, the MX suffix does not exactly ring positive with my memory. It used to be the Ti-line that you wanted, and the MX-line that you could afford. But who am I kidding? None of that is relevant these days. Get off my lawn.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | July 19, 2014 - 12:05 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Xeon Phi, xeon, Intel, avx-512, avx
It is difficult to know what is actually new information in this Intel blog post, but it is interesting none-the-less. Its topic is the AVX-512 extension to x86, designed for Xeon and Xeon Phi processors and co-processors. Basically, last year, Intel announced "Foundation", the minimum support level for AVX-512, as well as Conflict Detection, Exponential and Reciprocal, and Prefetch, which are optional. This, earlier blog post was very much focused on Xeon Phi, but it acknowledged that the instructions will make their way to standard, CPU-like Xeons at around the same time.
This year's blog post brings in a bit more information, especially for common Xeons. While all AVX-512-supporting processors (and co-processors) will support "AVX-512 Foundation", the instruction set extensions are a bit more scattered.
|Conflict Detection Instructions||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Exponential and Reciprocal Instructions||No||Yes||Yes|
|Byte and Word Instructions||Yes||No||No|
|Doubleword and Quadword Instructions||Yes||No||No|
|Vector Length Extensions||Yes||No||No|
Source: Intel AVX-512 Blog Post (and my understanding thereof).
So why do we care? Simply put: speed. Vectorization, the purpose of AVX-512, has similar benefits to multiple cores. It is not as flexible as having multiple, unique, independent cores, but it is easier to implement (and works just fine with having multiple cores, too). For an example: imagine that you have to multiply two colors together. The direct way to do it is multiply red with red, green with green, blue with blue, and alpha with alpha. AMD's 3DNow! and, later, Intel's SSE included instructions to multiply two, four-component vectors together. This reduces four similar instructions into a single operating between wider registers.
Smart compilers (and programmers, although that is becoming less common as compilers are pretty good, especially when they are not fighting developers) are able to pack seemingly unrelated data together, too, if they undergo similar instructions. AVX-512 allows for sixteen 32-bit pieces of data to be worked on at the same time. If your pixel only has four, single-precision RGBA data values, but you are looping through 2 million pixels, do four pixels at a time (16 components).
For the record, I basically just described "SIMD" (single instruction, multiple data) as a whole.
This theory is part of how GPUs became so powerful at certain tasks. They are capable of pushing a lot of data because they can exploit similarities. If your task is full of similar problems, they can just churn through tonnes of data. CPUs have been doing these tricks, too, just without compromising what they do well.
Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2014 - 08:37 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: quarterly earnings, GCN, financial results, APU, amd
Today, AMD posted financial results for its second quarter of 2014. The company posted quarterly revenue of $1.44 billion, operating income of $63 million, and ultimately a net loss of $36 million (or $0.05 loss per share). The results are an improvement over both the previous quarter and a marked improvement over the same quarter last year.
The chart below compares the second quarter results to the previous quarter (Q1'14) and the same quarter last year (Q2'13). AMD saw increased revenue and operating income, but a higher net loss versus last quarter. Unfortunately, AMD is still saddled with a great deal of debt, which actually increased from 2.14 billion in Q1 2014 to $2.21 billion at the end of the second quarter.
|Q2 2014||Q1 2014||Q2 2014||Q2 2013|
|Revenue||$1.44 Billion||$1.40 Billion||$1.44 Billion||$1.16 Billion|
|Operating Income||$63 Million||$49 Million||$63 Million||($29 Million)|
|Net Profit/(Loss)||($36 Million)||($20 Million)||($36 Million)||($74 Million)|
The Computing Solutions division saw increased revenue of 1% over last quarter, but revenue fell 20% year over year due to fewer chips being sold.
On the bright side, the Graphics and Visual Solutions group saw quarterly revenue increase by 5% over last quarter and 141% YoY. The massive YoY increase is due, in part, to AMD's Semi-Custom Business unit and the SoCs that have come out of there (including the chips used in the latest gaming consoles).
Further, the company is currently sourcing 50% of its wafers from Global Foundries.
“Our transformation strategy is on track and we expect to deliver full year non-GAAP profitability and year-over-year revenue growth. We continue to strengthen our business model and shape AMD into a more agile company offering differentiated solutions for a diverse set of markets.”
-AMD CEO Rory Reed
AMD expects to see third quarter revenue increase by 2% (plus or minus 3%). Following next quarter, AMD will begin production of its Seattle ARM processors. Perhaps even more interesting will be 2016 when AMD is slated to introduce new x86 and GCN processors on a 20nm process.
The company is working towards being more efficient and profitable, and the end-of-year results will be interesting to see.
Also read: AMD Restructures. Lisa Su Is Now COO @ PC Perspective
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