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Subject: Mobile | April 21, 2016 - 10:56 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: windows 10, tablet, switch alpha 12, liquid cooling, convertible tablet, acer, 2-in-1
Acer has unveiled their latest detachable 2-in-1 tablet/laptop with the Switch Alpha 12, and this device features some impressive specs - not the least of which is a liquid-cooling loop for the CPU.
According to Acer, the Switch Alpha 12 "is the industry’s first fanless 2-in-1 notebook to use a 6th Generation Intel Core i7, Core i5 or Core i3 processor," and these Intel offerings power a 12-inch 2160x1440 resolution IPS display.
Acer offers this video to showcase the device's features, including the water cooling loop:
Storage will range from 128GB - 512GB, with memory available in either 4GB or 8GB capacities. The magnetically attached keyboard offers full-sized keys with 1.4mm travel, and a full touchpad, and overall battery life is said to be 8 hours. The unit is 11.5 x 7.93 x 0.62 inches, and weighs 2.76 pounds (with keyboard connected).
The CPU cooling loop (Image taken from Acer promo video)
As to pricing and availability, Acer states that the "Switch Alpha 12 will be available in North America in June starting at $599".
Subject: Processors | April 21, 2016 - 10:02 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: amd, Zen, China, chinese, licensing
As part of its earnings release today, it was announced that AMD has partnered with a combination of public and private Chinese companies to license its high-end server architecture and products. The Chinese company is called THATIC, Tianjin Haiguang Advanced Technology Investment Co. Ltd., and it will license x86 designs and SoC technology providing all the tools needed to make a server platform including CPUs, interconnects and controllers.
This move is important and intriguing in several ways. First, for AMD, this could be a step to get the company and its products some traction and growth after falling well behind Intel's Xeon platforms in the server space. Increasing the market share of AMD technology, in nearly any capacity, is a move the company needs to have any chance to return to profitability. For the Chinese government, it finally will get access to the x86 architecture, though not in the form of its own license.
By licensing the x86 designs to THATIC, AMD could create an entire host of competitors for itself as well as for Intel, which won't help Intel's in-roads into the Chinese markets for enterprise tech. Intel does not license out x86 technology at all, deciding instead to keep it completely in-house in hopes of being the single provider of processors for devices from the cloud to the smartphone.
The first products built by THATIC will likely use the upcoming Zen architecture, due out in early 2017. AMD creates an interesting space for itself with this partnership - the company will sell its own Zen-based chips that could compete with the custom designs the Chinese organization builds. It's possible that a non-compete of sales based on region is part of the arrangement.
Out of the gate, AMD expects to make $293 million from the deal as part of the joint-venture and also will make money based on royalties. That's great news for a company just posted another net loss for Q1 2016.
Subject: General Tech | April 21, 2016 - 09:14 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: RapidFire, K70 RGB, K70, K65 RGB, corsair, Cherry MX Speed, cherry
Corsair announced three new keyboards, the K70 RGB RAPIDFIRE, K65 RGB RAPIDFIRE and K70 RAPIDFIRE all of which use Cherry's new MX Speed switches which have an actuation distance of 1.2 millimeters and and activation force of 45 cN(centinewtons, or 45.887229584 gram force).
All three keyboards have a brushed aluminium shell, the two RGB models are capable of producing almost any colour on the spectrum with the remaining model featuring red backlighting. All three are compatible with CUE LINK, you can synchronize the LEDs of your Corsair keyboard, mouse and headset to compliment each other and perhaps as a distraction tactic during LAN parties. 100% Anti-ghosting and full key rollover over USB mean even in the heat of battle your death will not be caused by a keypress not registering. Touch typists should also enjoy benefits when using the new keyboards, a light touch is all that is required for the keyboard to register a character, though the tiny amount of travel required may take some getting used to. Many will be please to note that these keyboards do ship with a wrist rest.
They are available as of today, MSRPs are $169.99 for the K70 RGB RAPIDFIRE, $139.99 for the K65 RGB RAPIDFIRE and $129.99 for the K70 RAPIDFIRE.
Subject: General Tech | April 21, 2016 - 07:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Sure whoever modded their eVic-VTC Mini Box Mod e-cigarette to play Flappy Bird is in the headlines now, but what about the fact that DOOM has been run on both an ATM and a Canon printer? There is also the mad genius who managed to get Windows 95 running on a Nintendo 3DS for reasons best left unexplored. Someone even went so far as to install Windows XP on an Android Wear watch, simultaneously useless and amazing at the same time. Top 10 lists are a bit overdone but this one at The Inquirer might cheer you up a bit after all the sad news today.
"This got The INQUIRER team talking, and we soon found ourselves reminiscing about our favourite 'things made to run on things they shouldn't run on' stories. Yeah, we know, we're an exciting bunch."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- How Apple's early VR experiments accidentally led to RSS @ The Register
- AMD plans release of Polaris GPUs, Zen CPUs to boost sales in 2H16 @ DigiTimes
- HTC 10: Is this the Droid you're looking for? @ The Register
Subject: Processors | April 21, 2016 - 06:44 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: restructure, Intel
Earlier this week Intel announced a major restructuring that will result in the loss of 12,000 jobs over the next several weeks, an amount equal to approximately 11% of the company's workforce. I've been sitting on the news for a while, trying to decide what I could add to the hundreds of reports on it and honestly, I haven't come to any definitive conclusion. But here it goes.
It's obviously worth noting the humanitarian part of this announcement - 12,000 people will be losing their job. I feel for them and wish them luck finding employment quickly. It sucks to see anyone lose their job, and maybe more so with a company that is still so profitable and innovative.
The reasons for the restructuring are obviously complex, but the major concern is the shift in focus towards IoT (Internet of Things) and cloud infrastructure as the primary growth drivers.
The data center and Internet of Things (IoT) businesses are Intel’s primary growth engines, with memory and field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) accelerating these opportunities – fueling a virtuous cycle of growth for the company. These growth businesses delivered $2.2 billion in revenue growth last year, and made up 40 percent of revenue and the majority of operating profit, which largely offset the decline in the PC market segment.
That last line is the one that might be the most concerning for enthusiasts and builders that read PC Perspective. The decline of the PC market has been a constant hum in the back of minds for the better part of 10 years. Everyone from graphics card vendors to motherboard manufacturers and any other product that depends on the consumer PC to be relevant, has been worried about what will happen as the PC continues in a southward spiral.
But it's important to point out that Intel has done this before, has taken the stance that the consumer PC is bad business. Remember the netbook craze and the rise of the Atom product line? When computers were "fast enough" for people to open up a browser and get to their email? At that point Intel had clearly pushed the enthusiast and high performance computing market to back burner. This also occurred when management pushed Intel into the mobile space, competing directly with the likes of Qualcomm in a market that it didn't quite have the product portfolio to do so.
Then something happened - PC gaming proved to be a growth segment after all. Intel started to realize that high end components mattered and they made attempts to recapture the market's mind share (as it never lost the market share). That is where the unlocked processors in notebooks and "anniversary edition" CPUs were born, in the labs of Intel where gamers and enthusiasts mattered. Hell the entire creation of the Devil's Canyon platform was predicated on the idea that the enthusiast community mattered.
I thought we were moving in the right direction. But it appears we have another setback. Intel is going to downplay the value and importance of the market that literally defines and decides what every other consumer buys. Enthusiasts are the trend setters, the educators and the influencers. When families and friends and co-workers ask for suggestions for new phones, tablets and notebooks, they ask us.
Maybe Intel is just in another cycle, another loop about the fate of the PC and what it means. Did tablets and the iPad kill off the notebook? Did mobile games on your iPhone keep users from flocking to PC games? Have the PS4 or Xbox One destroyed the market for PC-based gaming and VR? No.
The potential worry now is that one of these times, as Intel feigns disinterest in the PC, it may stick.
Subject: General Tech | April 21, 2016 - 05:37 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, msi, Intel, Playstation, ps4, neo, ps4k, phanteks, idf, Optane, XPoint, western digital, nvidia, GTX 1080
PC Perspective Podcast #396 - 04/21/2016
Join us this week as we discuss MSI Gaming Notebooks, Intel Layoffs, the PlayStation Neo and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Lenovo!
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:41:44
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 21, 2016 - 12:37 PM | Sebastian Peak
Zotac has released a new variant of the low-power NVIDIA GeForce GT 710, and while this wouldn't normally be news this card has a very important distinction: its PCI-E x1 interface.
With a single-slot design, low-profile ready (with a pair of brackets included), and that PCI-E x1 interface, this card can go places where GPUs have never been able to go (AFAIK). Granted, you won't be doing much gaming on a GT 710, which features 192 CUDA cores and 1GB of DDR3 memory, but this card does provide support for up to 3 monitors via DVI, HDMI, and VGA outputs.
A PCI-E x1 GPU would certainly provide some interesting options for ultra-compact systems such as those based on thin mini-ITX, which does not offer a full-length PCI Express slot; or for adding additional monitor support for business machines that only offer a single PCI-E x16 slot, but have a x1 slot available.
Specifications from Zotac:
- GPU: GeForce GT 710
- CUDA cores: 192
- Video Memory: 1GB DDR3
- Memory Bus: 64-bit
- Engine Clock: 954 MHz
- Memory Clock: 1600 MHz
- PCI Express: PCI-E x1
- Display Outputs: DL-DVI, VGA, HDMI
- HDCP Support: Yes
- Multi Display Capability: 3
- Recommended Power Supply: 300W
- Power Consumption: 25W
- Power Input: N/A
- API Support: DirectX 12 (feature level 11_0), OpenGL 4.5
- Cooling: Passive
- Slot Size: Single Slot
- SLI: N/A
- Supported OS: Windows 10 / 8 / 7 / Vista / XP
- Card Length: 146.05mm x 111.15mm
- Accessories: 2x Low profile bracket I/O brackets, Driver Disk, User Manual
The card, which is listed with the model ZT-71304-20L, has not yet appeared on any U.S. sites for purchase (that I can find, anyway), so we will have to wait to see where pricing will be.
Subject: Storage | April 20, 2016 - 09:40 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: owc, apple, PCIe SSD, Aura, 1TB, mlc
It has been a while since we heard from OWC, over a year since Al saw their offerings at Storage Vision, so it is interesting to see a new PCIe SSD from them. Their days of Sandforce are over, two SMI 2246 XT 4-channel controllers are paired with a Marvell 9230 RAID controller which allows the four unbranded 256GB MLC flash chips to act as a 1TB RAID 0 drive. The SSD Reviews found the Macbook Air upgrade drive to run slightly slower than the original 256GB SSD but with quadruple the storage the slight slow down is offset by the extra space. Check out the Aura drive if you have a Mac in need of upgrade, or if you are simply interested in a tiny 1TB SSD.
"Because of its limited storage capacity and Apples horrendous cost for upgrades, it was very close to being replaced, at least until OWC contacted me a week ago asking if we might like to review their latest 1TB Aura PCIe SSD replacement for mid-2013 and later MacBooks."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- PNY CS2211 XLR8 240GB @ eTeknix
- Kingston DataTraveler Micro 3.1 128GB USB 3.1 Gen 1 Flash Drive Review @ NikKTech
- Synology DiskStation DS216+ NAS @ Modders-Inc
- Kingston DataTraveler 2000 32GB Encrypted USB Drive Review @ OCC
Subject: General Tech | April 20, 2016 - 07:14 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: hitman 2016, gaming, dx12, asynchronous compute, ashes of the singularity
DX12 is very new and with these two games utilizing it, Hitman 2016 and Ashes of the Singularity, it is difficult to get a good sample of results to see exactly what the new API will offer. [H]ard|OCP have been working with both of these games to determine the performance differences between DX11 and DX12 and to find where the bottlenecks, if any, are. With Ashes they tried limiting the CPU, one set of tests at 1.2GHz and the second at 4.5GHz which showed how well DX12 lived up to the touted benefits of reduced CPU usage. They also tested with older GPUs on a 4.5GHz CPU to see if the new API does indeed help out older GPUs. They also delve somewhat into the confusion surrounding AMD's Asynchronous ace in the hole.
For Hitman they contrasted various GPUs from both AMD and NVIDIA while leaving the CPU alone for the testing. This review emphasizes the performance delta between DX11 and DX12 on the same GPUs, and unfortunately also addresses some stability issues which DX12 has brought with it. Read through the review to see what results they gathered so far but do not consider this the final word since both NVIDIA and AMD's GPUs could barely manage 10 minutes of DX12 gaming before completely locking up.
We still have a lot more investigation to perform before we can define the strengths and weaknesses of DX12.
"Hitman (2016) supports the new DirectX 12 API. We will take this game and find out if DX12 is faster than DX11 and what it may offer in this game and if it allows a better gameplay experience. We will also compare Himan performance between several video cards to find what is playable and how AMD vs. NV GPUs compare."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Battlezone 98 Redux Brings Back FPS-RTS Fun @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Total Warcraft: Hammers Offers Zone News, I Think @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Ashes of the Singularity Review @ OCC
- XCOM Beyond Earth: Shock Tactics @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Mafia III will be released on 7th October on PC, PS4 and Xbox One @ HEXUS
- Ratchet & Clank @ Polygon
- Vroomshakalaka! Rocket League Hoops Mode Next Week @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Quick Look: Banner Saga 2 @ Giant Bomb
Subject: General Tech | April 20, 2016 - 06:03 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: jonney shih, asus
There are some fairly solid rumours that Jonney Shih, Chairman of ASUS, will be stepping down soon, with ASUS co-founder Ted Hsu likely to take the reigns. He has been chair of ASUS for 23 years and has overseen some very large changes in the industry. He is widely know for the ASUS Eee PC Project, which has changed the mobile computing world from larger notebooks to the netbooks and ultraportables which have become ubiquitous. His presentations have always been both informative and entertaining, hopefully his retirement is not immediate and we will still see him around for a few years yet.
We at PC Perspective would rate his performance as head of ASUS as 9.99 out of 10.
"Asustek Computer will have co-founder Ted Hsu, currently vice chairman for ODM Pegatron, return to become chief strategy officer, triggering speculation that Asustek chairman Jonney Shih is going to retire and let Hsu succeed him."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel literally decimates workforce: 12,000 will be axed, CFO shifts to sales @ The Register
- Oof! Acer suffers 25 per cent hit to PC sales in turbulent Q1 @ The Register
- Canonical delivers Ubuntu 16.04 LTS with OpenStack Mitaka @ The Inquirer
- Sony’s PlayStation 4.5 Is Rumored To Be Twice As Fast As The Original – What Could We Expect? @ Techgage
- Google Admits That Google.com Is Partially Dangerous @ Slashdot
Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 20, 2016 - 02:20 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: standing desk, Lian Li, enclosure, DK-04, desk enclosure, case, aluminum
Lian Li has officially announced their standing desk shown at CES 2016, and the DK-04 offers variable (powered) height adjustment.
The DK-04 in standing position
"Standing desks aren’t just fashionable, they’re proven to be beneficial and healthy in multiple ways. Lian Li sought to design a new computer desk chassis in this spirit. Users can configure up to four different height settings, from 67.5cm to 116cm, for the desk to automatically adjust to at the press of a button. The DK-04 can serve as a standing desk for work and switch to a sit-down gaming desk in an instant!"
The DK-04 lowered to sitting position
I had a chance to check out the DK-04 in person at this year's CES, and it was an impressive piece of hardware. My first question? How much will it cost, of course! Lian Li didn't have an answer for me back in January, but official pricing was included in today's annoucement.
The cost? MSRP is $1499, and the DK-04 will be available on May 10, 2016.
If you've priced ergonomic office furniture the $1499 price tag won't seem quite so shocking, especially for a powered sit/stand design made entirely from aluminum (don't forget this is also a PC enclosure).
The DK-04 is also a full-sized PC enclosure under the glass top
Of course, in the world of PC components it's obviously going to require a specific use-case to justify an enclosure that costs as much as a fairly high-end gaming PC.
Subject: General Tech | April 20, 2016 - 12:55 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: gdq, pc gaming
It's still a few months out, but the schedule for Summer Games Done Quick 2016 has been posted to their official website. SGDQ 2016 is almost a solid week of speedruns, starting on Sunday, July 3rd at noon and ending some time after the midnight between Saturday, July 9th and Sunday, July 10th. Games Done Quick, itself, is a charity event, which generated over a million dollars of donations in four out of its last five occurences. It occurs about twice each year, plus an extra one for special events (such as the 2011 earthquake in Japan and TwitchCon 2015).
They usually have a fair amount of PC titles in their mix. While the schedule doesn't state the chosen platform, Elder Scrolls II, III, and V will be run back-to-back-to-back, followed by Fallout 3 and Fallout 4. That all takes place after a block of Quake, Hexen, System Shock, Deus Ex, Star Wars: Dark Forces, Serious Sam, and other titles. Curiously, Super Mario 64 is missing, except for a 50-star run of Super Mario 64 DS, which is usually their big event. They will have a TAS block, though, which uses a computer to submit controller input at a much higher precision than a human would be capable of, leading to interesting glitches, like injecting an IRC client into Pokémon.
It's a fun spectacle, and it's for a good cause. SGDQ 2016 will benefit Doctors Without Borders.
Subject: Storage | April 19, 2016 - 09:00 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: SSL, remote access, NAS, DroboAccess, drobo, B810n, 5N
We are currently testing a round of Drobos here at PC Perspective, and Drobo recently rolled out a new feature that I thought would be better written up as a quick news post. This is a remote access feature that applies to the NAS-style models, specifically the 5N and B810n, and leverages the Drobo Apps capabilities of these devices. If you are a current 5N or B810n owner, you can update your Dashboard application and firmware to unlock this newly announced ‘DroboAccess’ feature.
DroboAccess falls under the ‘myDrobo’ category of Drobo Apps. These are apps developed and supported by Drobo (as opposed to coming from a third party). With Drobo more involved in the end-to-end aspect of this process, they were able to work some additional magic into their implementation:
After a Drobo owner registers their device, they can install any/all of the supported apps (DroboAccess, Koken, and Wordpress). Upon registering, each app prompts for a public URL (a subdomain of .mydrobo.com). Drobo handles the behind-the-scenes registration of a 2k SSL certificate which is installed in the chain, which means that any browser access to the new subdomain is over an SSL (HTTPS) end-to-end encrypted connection. Drobo has set up a relay server that manages incoming internet connections to the 5N or B810n. Home NAT routers are not an issue as the device running the app maintains an outbound link to the same relay server. This eliminates any custom router configurations / port forwarding necessary on the user-side of things, and that free SSL cert keeps prying eyes out of the data coming across the wire. I stepped through this process myself and it was about as simple and seamless as it could possibly be. Once set up, I could browse to (chosen subdomain).mydrobo.com from any internet-connected browser and see the files on the B810n:
The interface is similar to what you’d see from other remote access apps (Dropbox, etc). There is also an iPhone and Android app available, but Drobo has chosen to charge $0.99 for this app - an odd choice given the vast majority of remote file access companion apps are free downloads. I spent some time with the iOS app and while functional, I found it a bit clunky in its current form. As an example, sending a photo to DroboAccess from the iOS Share Menu gave an ‘Upload to’ prompt with no ability to choose a destination folder (images were simply dumped in the root, which is *not* mountable on the local network - only subdirectories of root are mountable on the LAN). This means that you would have to log into the Drobo via web browser to access those uploads and move them to shares so they would be visible to local SMB-connected machines.
In testing browser access, I discovered a few more issues:
- The data throughput rate appears to be capped at 8 Mbps by the myDrobo relay server.
- Downloading files >2GB failed silently, resulting in a 0-byte file placed on the host.
…so while things are a bit rough around the edges right now, the setup was quick and painless, which was Drobos initial goal for this feature roll out. We’ve fed back our findings thus far, and I suspect the other parts should receive more polish and tweaking over the coming weeks. I’ve include Drobo’s press blast for DroboAccess after the break.
Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2016 - 05:54 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: input, Kailh, Kaliber Gaming Mechlite, IOGear, mechanical keyboard
IOGear have joined the mechanical keyboard market with the Kaliber Gaming Mechlite, opting for Kailh Blue switches as opposed to the Cherry MX switches which have dominated the market. The plain black look will appeal to some, for others the blue LED backlighting with adjustable light levels will be more attractive. The lighting is controlled via a switch as opposed to software, something which may lessen the attractiveness of the board to potential buyers, as will the lack of a bundled wrist rest. Currently it sells for $70 on Amazon, relatively competitive for a backlit mechanical keyboard. Neoseeker has published their impressions of the keyboard if it piques your interest.
"The Kaliber Gaming Mechlite has a blue LED backlight with adjustable brightness levels in 7 different patterns. It has 5 programmable macro keys supporting up to 32 characters each, anti-ghosting keys with full N-key rollover, a Windows key lockout, laser cut keys and braided USB connector cable."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Tt eSPORTS Poseidon Z RGB Keyboard @ techPowerUp
- OZONE Strike Battle Mechanical Compact Gaming Keyboard Review @ NikKTech
- Cooler Master Devastator II Keyboard+Mouse Combo @ Modders-Inc
- Mionix Castor Optical Gaming Mouse @ eTeknix
- Corsair Gaming M65 Pro RGB Optical Mouse @ eTeknix
- G.Skill's Ripjaws MX780 gaming mouse @ The Tech Report
Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2016 - 04:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: flexible transistors, quantum dots
Flexible transistors have been made in the lab before but the process to deposit semiconductors on a flexible substrate required a vacuum to evaporate all but the desired portions of the layers laid on that substrate. This new technique utilizes the same materials for insulators and semiconductors but the process uses inks and a photoresist mask to ensure the correct placement of a layer of conductive silver nanocrystals for the gate. Over top opf the later of silver a layer of aluminium-oxide is added as the insulator, then cadmium-selenide quantum dots for the semiconductor channel and then another layer of silver nanocrystals and indium nanocrystals for the drain. This is baked as you would normally treat transistors to dope the semiconductor channel and you end up with working FETs on a flexible substrate. Check out more details on the process at Nanotechweb.
"A high-quality, flexible transistor, made entirely from colloidal nanocrystals, has been developed by a team in the US. By sequentially depositing their components in the form of nanocrystal "inks," the researchers could make transistors using standard industrial methods, without the need for high-temperature, high-vacuum specialist equipment."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- MIT boffins build AI bot that spots '85 per cent' of hacker invasions @ The Register
- Nvidia's Maxwell-powered Quadro M2000 GPU can drive four 4K displays @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft's pretty-but-dim Edge browser will have support for VP9 and Opus @ The Inquirer
- Seagate launches LaCie 12big offering 96TB on a desktop @ The Inquirer
- TSMC to launch 7nm trial production in 1H17 @ DigiTimes
- Super Thin Display Makes Your Skin Your Screen @ Hack a Day
- Canon 1D X Mark II First Look @ Tech ARP
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | April 19, 2016 - 03:21 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: sony, ps4, Playstation, neo, giant bomb, APU, amd
Based on a new report coming from Giant Bomb, Sony is set to release a new console this year with upgraded processing power and a focus on 4K capabilities, code named NEO. We have been hearing for several weeks that both Microsoft and Sony were planning partial generation upgrades but it appears that details for Sony's update have started leaking out in greater detail, if you believe the reports.
Giant Bomb isn't known for tossing around speculation and tends to only report details it can safely confirm. Austin Walker says "multiple sources have confirmed for us details of the project, which is internally referred to as the NEO."
The current PlayStation 4 APU
Image source: iFixIt.com
There are plenty of interesting details in the story, including Sony's determination to not split the user base with multiple consoles by forcing developers to have a mode for the "base" PS4 and one for NEO. But most interesting to us is the possible hardware upgrade.
The NEO will feature a higher clock speed than the original PS4, an improved GPU, and higher bandwidth on the memory. The documents we've received note that the HDD in the NEO is the same as that in the original PlayStation 4, but it's not clear if that means in terms of capacity or connection speed.
Games running in NEO mode will be able to use the hardware upgrades (and an additional 512 MiB in the memory budget) to offer increased and more stable frame rate and higher visual fidelity, at least when those games run at 1080p on HDTVs. The NEO will also support 4K image output, but games themselves are not required to be 4K native.
Giant Bomb even has details on the architectural changes.
|Shipping PS4||PS4 "NEO"|
|CPU||8 Jaguar Cores @ 1.6 GHz||8 Jaguar Cores @ 2.1 GHz|
|GPU||AMD GCN, 18 CUs @ 800 MHz||AMD GCN+, 36 CUs @ 911 MHz|
|Stream Processors||1152 SPs ~ HD 7870 equiv.||2304 SPs ~ R9 390 equiv.|
|Memory||8GB GDDR5 @ 176 GB/s||8GB GDDR5 @ 218 GB/s|
(We actually did a full video teardown of the PS4 on launch day!)
If the Compute Unit count is right from the GB report, then the PS4 NEO system will have 2,304 stream processors running at 911 MHz, giving it performance nearing that of a consumer Radeon R9 390 graphics card. The R9 390 has 2,560 SPs running at around 1.0 GHz, so while the NEO would be slower, it would be a substantial upgrade over the current PS4 hardware and the Xbox One. Memory bandwidth on NEO is still much lower than a desktop add-in card (218 GB/s vs 384 GB/s).
Could Sony's NEO platform rival the R9 390?
If the NEO hardware is based on Grenada / Hawaii GPU design, there are some interesting questions to ask. With the push into 4K that we expect with the upgraded PlayStation, it would be painful if the GPU didn't natively support HDMI 2.0 (4K @ 60 Hz). With the modularity of current semi-custom APU designs it is likely that AMD could swap out the display controller on NEO with one that can support HDMI 2.0 even though no consumer shipping graphics cards in the 300-series does so.
It is also POSSIBLE that NEO is based on the upcoming AMD Polaris GPU architecture, which supports HDR and HDMI 2.0 natively. That would be a much more impressive feat for both Sony and AMD, as we have yet to see Polaris released in any consumer GPU. Couple that with the variables of 14/16nm FinFET process production and you have a complicated production pipe that would need significant monitoring. It would potentially lower cost on the build side and lower power consumption for the NEO device, but I would be surprised if Sony wanted to take a chance on the first generation of tech from AMD / Samsung / Global Foundries.
However, if you look at recent rumors swirling about the June announcement of the Radeon R9 480 using the Polaris architecture, it is said to have 2,304 stream processors, perfectly matching the NEO specs above.
New features of the AMD Polaris architecture due this summer
There is a lot Sony and game developers could do with roughly twice the GPU compute capability on a console like NEO. This could make the PlayStation VR a much more comparable platform to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive though the necessity to work with the original PS4 platform might hinder the upgrade path.
The other obvious use is to upgrade the image quality and/or rendering resolution of current games and games in development or just to improve the frame rate, an area that many current generation consoles seem to have been slipping on.
In the documents we’ve received, Sony offers suggestions for reaching 4K/UltraHD resolutions for NEO mode game builds, but they're also giving developers a degree of freedom with how to approach this. 4K TV owners should expect the NEO to upscale games to fit the format, but one place Sony is unwilling to bend is on frame rate. Throughout the documents, Sony repeatedly reminds developers that the frame rate of games in NEO Mode must meet or exceed the frame rate of the game on the original PS4 system.
There is still plenty to read in the Giant Bomb report, and I suggest you head over and do so. If you thought the summer was going to be interesting solely because of new GPU releases from AMD and NVIDIA, it appears that Sony and Microsoft have their own agenda as well.
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 19, 2016 - 03:08 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: rumor, report, nvidia, leak, GTX 1080, graphics card, gpu, geforce
Another reported photo of an upcoming GTX 1080 graphics card has appeared online, this time via a post on Baidu.
(Image credit: VR-Zone, via Baidu)
The image is typically low-resolution and features the slightly soft focus we've come to expect from alleged leaks. This doesn't mean it's not legitimate, and this isn't the first time we have seen this design. This image also appears to only be the cooler, without an actual graphics card board underneath.
We have reported on the upcoming GPU rumored to be named "GTX 1080" in the recent past, and while no official announcement has been made it seems safe to assume that a successor to the current 900-series GPUs is forthcoming.
Subject: Storage | April 19, 2016 - 12:00 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Xe, western digital, wdc, WD, se, RE, Media Cache, hgst, HelioSeal, gold, 8TB
Western Digital rolled out their Se / Re / Xe branding back in mid-2013. Since that time, a lot has changed in the rapidly evolving enterprise storage industry. SSDs are encroaching into more of the data center rack space out there, and the need for small capacity 10k and 15k RPM drives is dropping substantially in favor of more power efficient (in power and capacity per dollar), larger spinning disks.
With these winds of change comes today’s announcement from Western Digital:
The new Gold lineup appears to be a merging of old and new product lines. The 6TB and below Re series are essentially being absorbed under the new Gold label, but 6TB will no longer be the top capacity offered to WD enterprise customers. A new 8TB capacity will be offered in the form of a HelioSeal drive. The 8TB model will share more parts with the HGST He8 than WD’s previously released 8TB Red, including HGST’s Media Cache architecture, which should yield a nice boost to sustained random write performance over drives lacking this technology.
The press release does not state this, but I suspect WD will be phasing out their Se and Xe product lines over the coming months in favor of Helium-filled drives of the 5400 (Red) and 7200 (Gold) RPM variety. Fewer lines to manage should help them tighten things up a bit and reduce costs even further over time.
We’ll be reviewing the new 8TB Gold just as soon as samples arrive for testing, so stay tuned!
Full press blast appears after the break.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 18, 2016 - 07:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: zalman, neo, Z9 Neo
Neo is a popular appellation for computer hardware, from PSUs to motherboards and today another case from Zalman. The Z9 Neo is a mid-tower case which can hold heatsinks under 200mm tall and GPUs of up to 420mm, perfect for the majority of builds. The PSU mounts at the bottom and there is a dust filter to protect it, unfortunately one which slides to the rear, making it somewhat difficult to get at. The case comes with five 120mm fans included, a nice bonus for those looking to be ready to run as soon as possible. Benchmark Reviews also determined it to be friendly for watercooling if that happens to be your preference.
"Unlike it’s predecessors in the Z-series line, the Z9 Neo comes with a full length front panel door. Now if your old school, as I am, you probably shutter at the mere mention of a computer case having a door. But over the years, especially with the rise in digital mediums and digital distribution, I find myself using 5.25″ drives less and less."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Raidmax Monster II Midi Tower Review @ NikKTech
- NZXT Manta Chassis @ Kitguru
- Silverstone AR07 & AR08 @ eTeknix
- DeepCool CAPTAIN 240 White Liquid CPU Cooler Review @ NikKTech
Subject: Systems | April 18, 2016 - 05:55 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: watercooling, FiercePC, Core i7 6700K, GTX 970, carbide 400c
The components chosen for this prebuilt system are an odd mix, the 6700K is paired with a GTX 970, though the rest of the components make sense, with 16GB of DDR4 memory, a 250GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD and a 2TB HDD. These are all installed in a Corsair 400C and the CPU is cooled with an Alphacool NexXos XP3 Light water block, NexXos ST3 radiator; it is the only component which is watercooled. Kitguru found the enclosure to be impressively quiet and the performance matched their expectations but they also felt that both the GPU and SSD should have been upgraded.
"The FiercePC Imperial Stormer is a gaming PC that squeezes a custom-built water-cooling loop and some very nifty lighting effects into a rather svelte Corsair Chassis. This enables a mighty 4.7GHz overclock for the Intel Core i7-6700K, which coupled with a GeForce GTX 970 – delivers some very good performance results."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- MSI C236A Workstation @ Phoronix
- MSI Vortex G65 6QF @ Kitguru
- Computer Upgrades: A Data-Based Perspective @ Benchmark Reviews