Also at Intel and Google's Chrome OS Event: Human Rights

Subject: General Tech, Processors | May 7, 2014 - 03:06 AM |
Tagged: conflict-free, Intel, Congo

The Intel and Google keynote speech closed out with a video and an announcement. Each Chrome OS device that they mentioned will be among the first to use Haswell and Bay Trail processors manufactured with conflict-free minerals. They are not abandoning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, rather they seem to be forcing their suppliers to adhere to human rights standards if they want to do business with Intel.

This initiative has apparently led to the creation of the "Conflict-Free Smelter Program" which is run by the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative. This industry body includes several other companies, such as AMD, Apple, Foxconn, IBM, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Pegatron, Qualcomm, every laptop manufacturer that I could think of, and over 150 others.

Intel has been discussing this for a little while, and taking positive steps toward this goal along the way. There really is not that many other ways to say it: reducing the suffering in the world is a great goal.

Source: Intel

NVIDIA GTX 780 Ti on Thunderbolt 2 by DIYers

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | May 7, 2014 - 02:26 AM |
Tagged: Thunderbolt 2, thunderbolt, nvidia, GeForce GTX 780 Ti

Externally-attached GPUs have been a topic for many years now. Numerous companies have tried, including AMD and Lucid, but no solution has ever been a widely known and available product. Even as interfaces increase in bandwidth and compatibility with internal buses, it has never been something that a laptop salesperson could suggest to users who want to dock into a high-performance station at home. At best, we are seeing it in weird "coin mining" racks to hang way more GPUs above a system than could physically mount on the motherboard.

Apparently that has not stopped the DIY community, according to chatter on Tech Inferno forums. While the above video does not really show the monitor, MacBook Pro, and GPU enclosure at the same time, let alone all wired together and on, it seems reasonable enough. The video claims to give the MacBook Pro (running Windows 8.1) access to a GeForce GTX 780 Ti with fairly high performance, despite the reduced bandwidth. Quite cool.

Check out the forum post for a few more details.

Source: Tech Inferno

Get Psyched! Bethesda Releases System Requirements For Wolfenstein: The New Order

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2014 - 10:04 PM |
Tagged: wolfenstein, pc gaming, gaming, core i7, 60fps

Bethesda recently published the system requirements for Wolfenstein: The New Order on its blog. The game, which is currently up for pre-order from Steam, is a next generation first person shooter for the PC and consoles (PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360). The system requirements below represent the hardware that PC gamers will need to run the game at a steady 60 FPS at 1080p.

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Gamers will need a PC with at least an Intel Core i7 or equivalent AMD processor, 4GB of system memory, and 50GB of free hard drive space running a 64-bit operating system. On the graphics front, users will need to be running a NVIDIA GeForce 460 or AMD Radeon HD 6850 graphics card or better. The game will further require a broadband internet connection and Steam activation. These hardware suggestions are what Bethesda believes is needed in order to run the game "as it was intended to be experienced" on the PC.

Console gamers have similar hard drive space requirements, but obviously will run the game at reduced graphical fidelity as they are limited to their respective fixed hardware.

More information on the system requirements for the various platforms can be found on the Bethesda blog.

Wolf3D Get Psyched Loading Screen.jpg

If your PC is up to the task of powering BJ Blazkowicz, it's time to get psyched! And In the meantime, why not enjoy some classic Wolfenstein 3D? 

Will you be picking up Wolfenstein: The New Order when it comes out.

Asus Introduces Bay Trail-Powered C200 and C300 Chromebooks

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2014 - 09:48 PM |
Tagged: asus, Chromebook, Bay Trail

Asus has launched two new chromebooks based around Intel's Bay Trail SoC and running Google's Chrome OS. The new models are the 11-inch Chromebook C200 and the 13-inch Chromebook C300. The new devices are clamshell-style laptops with hidden display hinges, a plastic cases with a matte finish to reduce fingerprint visibility, chiclet keyboards, and large trackpads supporting multi-touch guestures. Asus' new Chromebooks will be available in June starting at $249.99 for the base C200 laptop.

The Asus Chromebook C200 is an 11-inch laptop with an 11.6" display with a resolution of 1366x768, a 720p webcam, stereo speakers, chiclet keyboard, and a trackpad that is reportedly as large as those "normally found on a 14-inch laptop." External IO includes an SD card, HDMI port, a microphone/headphone audio combo jack, one USB 2.0 port, and one USB 3.0 port.

Asus Chromebook C200 11-inch laptop.jpg

The Asus Chromebook C200.

From there the Chromebook C300 takes that platform and places it in a larger 13" chassis. The display size is increased to 13.3" but maintains the same 1366x768 resolution. The other difference is in color palete: the C200 is silver and dark grey while the C300 is completely dark grey. The C200 weighs 2.5 pounds and is 0.8" thick while the C300 weighs 3.1 pounds and is slightly thicker at 0.9".

Asus Chromebook C200 and Chromebook C300 Specifications.png

Internally, the C200 and C300 feature a dual core Intel Celeron N2830 Bay Trail-M SoC clocked at 2.16 GHz (2.41 GHz Turbo Boost) with 1MB of cache, Intel HD Graphics, and a 7.5W TDP. In addition to the SoC, Asus is packing in 2GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC storage. Asus did not provide a mAh battery rating, but both Chromebooks reportedly last up to 10 hours of average usage before needing to be charged.

Asus Chromebook C300 13-inch laptop.jpg

The Asus Chromebook C300.

Storage can be extended via an SD card and by taking advantage of 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage which Asus provides free for two years. The upcoming Chromebooks support dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

Both the Chromebook C200 and Chromebook C300 will be available in the US at the end of next month starting at $249.99. The company has not yet released pricing for the larger C300, however.

Read more about Chromebooks at PC Perspective!

Source: Asus

MSI Ships GS70 Stealth Pro and GS60 Ghost Pro 3K Gaming Notebooks

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2014 - 03:39 PM |
Tagged: msi, GS60 Ghost Pro 3K, GS70 Stealth Pro, gtx 870m, ultrabook

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City of Industry, Calif. – May 6, 2014 – MSI Computer Corp, a leading manufacturer of computer hardware products and solutions, announces the immediate availability of the GS60 Ghost Pro 3K and the GS70 Stealth Pro gaming notebooks. Designed for the mobile gamer who demands a sexy and sleek design with performance capable of shredding any game settings, MSI’s newest gaming notebooks feature NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M graphics, 4th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, Killer Gaming Networking and Super RAID Technology.

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MSI’s Super RAID technology provides superior data processing and accessing speed by supporting multiple SSDs and increasing data read/write speeds. MSI’s GS70 Stealth Pro, equipped with the latest Super RAID 2 technology, combines the power of three mSATA SSDs, kicking up read speeds to over 1,500MB/s or three times faster than high performance single SSD notebooks and more than 15 times faster than conventional laptops with standard SATA hard drives.

Both the GS70 Stealth Pro and GS60 Ghost Pro 3K come equipped with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M graphics, the latest generation of graphic processors designed to deliver true PC gaming experience on the go. The GS60 Ghost Pro 3K is MSI’s lightest 15” notebook and the first 3K display notebook to utilize Mg-Li alloy, an ultra-light and sturdy material and delivers high performance gaming without the weight. The newly equipped 3K display fully embraces NVIDIA graphic capabilities and immerses gamers in an all new definition of HD gaming at resolutions of 2880x1620, for sharper and more stunning images.

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“The GS70 Stealth Pro and GS60 Ghost Pro 3K are the epitome of portable gaming notebooks,” says Andy Tung, President of MSI Pan America. “We’ve packed smoking speeds, deadly graphics and amazing customization power into featherlike notebooks that will withstand any challenges during the heat of battle.”

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MSI’s newest GS gaming notebooks feature an intelligently designed dual-fan cooling system that efficiently lowers system temperature even under the most strenuous gaming sessions. Dual cooling fans draw in air from vents at the top of the notebooks, circulates it through the motherboard and processor, and dissipates it via dual vents at a 45 degree angle that avoids the gamer’s hands when using a mouse. This proprietary cooling system ensures maximum airflow when compared to systems with air intakes on the bottom of the notebooks and creates a better and more enjoyable gaming experience.

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MSI’s GS70 Stealth Pro and GS60 Ghost Pro 3K are available starting at $1,999.99.

Source: MSI

Intel and Google Host Chrome OS Event, Announce New Products With Haswell i3 and Bay Trail SoCs

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2014 - 03:01 PM |
Tagged: Intel, haswell, Chromebox, Chromebook, Chromebase, chrome os, Bay Trail

Intel hosted an event on Chrome OS today where the company discussed its partnership with Google and announced new Chrome devices based on the company's latest generation Haswell and Bay Trail processors.

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Intel continues to work with Google to develop the Chromebook and the company sees potential for Chrome OS devices to expand to additional markets outside of consumer and education. Specifically, Intel and Google are pushing into the commercial markets by working with OEMs to put together devices aimed at corporate customers as productivity machines, video conferencing boxes, and drivers of customer kiosks and digital signage.

Intel and Google In Multi Year Partnership.png

In addition to the expansion to new markets, the existing consumer and education markets continue to grow with the use of Chromebooks in schools doubling versus last quarter with 10,000 schools now employing the Google-powered hardware. Consumers have also pushed Chromebooks to the top six of Amazon charts with the Acer C720 having 4.4 out of five stars and over a thousand customer reviews.

Intel and Chrome OS Partnership Growing to 20 New Device Designs.jpg

Chrome OS is not only expanding into other markets but to additional form factors in the form of Chrome Boxes and Chrome Bases which are small form factor desktop systems and All-In-One devices powered by Chrome OS respectively. The second half of this year will see the number of Chrome OS devices expand from four design choices by four OEMs to twenty design choices from at least nine OEMs.

Intel Offers Conflict Free Haswell and Bay Trail Processors.jpg

The upcoming Chrome OS devices will be powered by new processor options from Intel in the form of conflict-free Intel Haswell Core i3 CPUs and Intel Bay Trail SoCs. The Haswell Core i3 option is an upgrade over the Pentium and Celeron "Entry Level Haswell" parts and offer increased performance in offline computing tasks, app switching, and multi-tasking. The Bay Trail parts will enable passively cooled (fan-less) Chromebooks with around 8 hours (up to 11 hours+) of battery life while still offering up acceptable performance for watching videos or working with documents. Intel further claims that the Bay Trail powered Chromebooks will be thinner at less than 18mm and up to 15% lighter than existing models.

Intel Powered Acer Chromebook.jpg

An 11.6" Chromebook powered by an Intel Haswell Core i3 processor coming later this year.

Intel showed off several new Chrome OS products that will be coming later this year. The new Chromebooks include Haswell i3-powered laptops from Acer and Dell for $349, the Lenovo N20 Chrome and N20p Chrome powered by an Intel Celeron (Bay Trail) SoC, and the Intel Education Chromebook Reference Design which CTL will bring to market later this year. It was also revealed that the already-announced Lenovo ThinkPad Chromebook with its Yoga-style hinge will actually use a Bay Trail SoC.

The Intel Education Chromebook Reference Design is a platform designed by Intel that other OEMs can take, tweak, and bring to market. It is a clamshell-style laptop with a rotating camera and ruggedized chassis aimed at students.

Intel Education Chromebook Reference Design.jpg

Intel's reference platform is a ruggedized clamshell laptop aimed at students.

Laptops and tablets dominated the show, but the company did unveil a tiny new Chrome Box from HP (slated for availability in June) that can sit behind a computer display or be used to drive digital signage and customer kiosks.

HP Chromebox.jpg

Further, Intel demonstrated a new Chrome OS form factor with what it calls a "Chrome Base." The first Chrome Base is coming from LG later this month as a 21" All In One computer running Chrome OS for $349.

LG Chromebase Chrome OS All In One.jpg

Chrome OS in general is expanding from traditional clamshell laptops to larger screens and alternative form factors (desktop, tablet, convertible, et al), and when asked about the future of touch on Chrome OS and the overlap between Android and Chrome OS Caesar Sengupta, VP of Product Management at Google, explained that the company feels that touch is a key aspect in the computing experience and that Google is interested in supporting and improving touch on Chrome OS and evaluating customer use on alternative form factors. Further, Mr Sengupta stated that Google is focusing on Chromebooks, Chrome Boxes, and the new All In One Chrome Bases with physical keyboards for Chrome OS while Android is focused on mobile phones and touch-based tablets. As OEMs introduce more touch-friendly and acrobatic hinged Chrome devices, there is likely to be some overlap, but ultimately decisions affecting the directions of the two OSes will be based on customer demand.

Google also used the event to announce that within the next few weeks users will be able to play movies and TV shows offline using the Google Play Movies Chrome app.

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Overall, the event demonstrated that Chrome OS is growing at a healthy pace. Devices using the cloud-friendly operating system will be in 20 countries by the end of this year (versus 9 currently), and the new x86 processor options will enable a smoother user experience and faster application performance. I am genuinely interested to see where OEMs are able to take Chrome OS and what it is able to do as Google continues development of the software.

If you are interested, you can watch a recorded version of the live stream on the Intel website.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Chrome device news as the hardware gets closer to release.

Source: Intel

Building a SkyBridge in 64 bits, between ARM and x86

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2014 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: amd, arm, project skybridge, k12

The Register has put together an overview of what AMD discussed yesterday about the K12 processor and Project Skybridge.  The most impressive feat is Project SkyBridge; with the license AMD now has to develop ARMv8 architecture they will be creating pin compatible ARM and x86 SoCs, so you can choose which you want to drop in your server and can easily change your mind any time in the future.  The more traditional 64-bit x86 processors will be "Puma+" cores while the ARM SoCs will be 64-bit A57s, and will not only be fully HSA compliant but will be able to run Android.  They also delve into AMD's upcoming strategy to remain a valid contender in the silicon ring, read on to get a glimpse into Papermaster's brain.

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"AMD has announced that it will create pin-compatible 64-bit x86 and ARM SoCs in an effort it's calling "Project SkyBridge", and that it has licensed the ARMv8 architecture and will design its own home-grown ARM-based processors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Internet Explorer 11 Is a Good Browser

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2014 - 04:16 AM |
Tagged: Internet Explorer 11, IE11

According to Peter Bright of Ars Technica and their source, NetMarketshare, Internet Explorer 11 is steadily increasing in popularity. The browser is, now, more popular than both IE10 and IE9, combined. To put that into perspective, IE11, alone, is just a few percent shy of their entire Firefox usage numbers.

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Of course, these figures change wildly depending on who performs the measurement. Wikimedia, for instance, claims that only 18% of their users are browsing with IE (NetMarketshare says 58%). W3Counter also has a significantly higher volume of Safari users, almost triple, than anyone else. (Update: 5/6/2014 @ 1:18pm EDT -- That 18% figure probably does not include IE11. Actual IE figure, including IE11, is probably ~25%)

Still, Internet Explorer 11 is Microsoft doing things right. They are embracing web standards, including ones which are outside the realm of the W3C. Because of WebGL's potential impact for web apps, they have even accepted it, a Khronos Group standard, into their ecosystem. IE11 shows what Microsoft can do when they need to. They were being pushed around by Google Chrome and mobile app platforms and, in response, they made a really good browser. Hopefully its adoption weeds out old Internet Explorer versions and give us a healthy mix of truly standards-compliant browsers.

Maybe then, we can truly write just one frickin' website.

Source: Ars Technica

SanDisk Unveils 4TB SSDs... Because.

Subject: General Tech, Storage | May 6, 2014 - 03:46 AM |
Tagged: toshiba, ssd, sandisk, 4TB SSD

If you are an enterprise, SanDisk is getting a bit SAS-y with some pretty large SSDs. How large? 4TB. Not large enough? Why are you the way you are. Also, according to VR-Zone, 6TB and 8TB versions will follow, in 2015 (Update: 5/6/2014 @ 5:56pm EST -- VR-Zone might have meant "16TB"... as Tom's IT Pro claims to have heard from SanDisk). These drives will be produced with 19nm NAND, not utilizing the 15nm cells from their partnership with Toshiba. SanDisk claims their choice of 19nm was for reliability. Also, clearly, they are not suffering with density.

Speaking of reliability, the SanDisk warranty is rated in both time as well as the supported number of full drive writes per day. The Optimus MAX SSD is rated at one-to-three drive writes per day, or 4-12TB per day, over the course of its 5-year warranty.

4TB Optimus MAX SSDs are expected to launch "to select OEMs and through the channel" in Q3.

Source: SanDisk

PowerColor Teasing Dual GPU Graphics Card With Massive Air Cooler

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 6, 2014 - 03:36 AM |
Tagged: r9 295x2, powercolor, hawaii, dual gpu, devil 13

PowerColor has been teasing a new graphics card on its Facebook page. The photos show a macro shot of the Devil 13 logo along with captions hitting at the new card being a dual GPU monster including one caption referring the upcoming Devil 13 as a "dual beast."

PowerColor's previous Devil 13 branded graphics card was the Radeon HD 7990 Devil 13 which contained two HD 7970 "Tahiti" GPUs on one PCB. Coincidentally, AMD recently launched a new dual GPU reference design based around two R9 290x "Hawaii" GPUs called the R9 295x2. It is still rumor and speculation at this point, but the timing and leaked photos seem to point squarely at the upcoming Devil 13 card being the first air cooled custom R9 295x2!

PowerColor Dual Beast R9 295X2 Dual Hawaii GPU Air Cooled.jpg

Adding credence to the rumors, leaked photos have appeared online with a PCB backplate that appears to match the backplate shown in the official teaser photo. The leaked photos show an absolutely beastly triple slot graphics card that places two GPUs in CrossFire on a single custom PCB powered by four 8-pin PCI-E power connectors and cooled by a gargantuan HSF comprised of an aluminum fin stack and multiple large diameter copper heatpipes along with three fans. The cooler and PCB are reinforced with brackets and a metal backplate to help keep the air cooler in pace and the PCB from bending.

PowerColor Devil 13 Dual GPU Air Cooled Graphics Card 4 8-pin PCIe.jpg

If the rumors hold true, PowerColor will be unveiling the first air cooled dual GPU R9 295X2 graphics card which is an impressive feat of engineering! Using four 8-pin PCI-E power connectors definitely suggests that aftermarket overclocking is encouraged and supported even if PowerColor does not end up factory overclocking their dual GPU beast.

For reference, the stock AMD R9 295X2 features two full Hawaii GPUs with 5,632 stream processors clocked at up to 1018 MHz interfaced with 8GB of total GDDR5 memory over a 512-bit bus (each GPU has 4GB of memory and a 512-bit bus). AMD rates this configuration at 11.5 TFLOPS of single precision performance. The reference R9 295X2 has a 500W TDP and uses two 8-pin PCI-E power connectors.

Please excuse me while I wipe the drool off of my keyboard...

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more details on the mysterious dual GPU Devil 13 from PowerColor!

In the meantime, check out our full review of the R9 295X2 (and the Hawaii architecture) and what happens when you put two R9 295X2s in Quad CrossFire into a single system for 4K gaming goodness!

Source: PowerColor

Intel Leaks: Skylake and 100-Series Chipsets Expected 2015

Subject: General Tech, Processors | May 6, 2014 - 03:19 AM |
Tagged: Skylake, Intel, Broadwell

VR-Zone is returning to their "leak everything Intel has" gig with a few light details about Skylake, the architecture after Broadwell, and its accompanying 100-Series chipset. The main detail is that Skylake, despite Broadwell and its delays, is still expected for 2015. This sort of makes sense, because this architecture runs on the same 14nm fabrication process as Broadwell, but it is surprising nonetheless. Intel could have slowed down its entire release cycle to compensate for how difficult it is to make smaller transistors and keep a steady "Tick-Tock".

Or maybe they hope that the process shrink after Skylake, Cannonlake at 10nm, will be on schedule?

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Image Credit: VR-Zone

The second major detail is the available sockets. A couple of years ago, there was a fear that Intel would drop LGA sockets, starting with Broadwell, and switch entirely to the non-replaceable BGA soldered-to-the-motherboard format. Intel has later decided to support LGA with Broadwell and that will continue with Skylake.

This leads us to the third major detail - product categories. There will be four of them in the consumer range: H (BGA) for regular notebooks, Y (BGA) for desktops and all-in-ones, U (BGA) for ultrabooks, and S (LGA) for standard desktop computers. The slide lists a few more details which I believe signify core count and GPU version. If so, the lineup of Skylake processors would be the following:

  • (BGA) Quad Core Skylake-H with GT2 Graphics
  • (BGA) Quad Core Skylake-H with GT4e Graphics, the successor to Iris Pro.
  • (BGA) Dual Core Skylake-Y with GT2 Graphics
  • (BGA) Dual Core Skylake-U with GT2 Graphics
  • (BGA) Dual Core Skylake-U with GT3e Iris Pro Graphics
  • (LGA) Quad Core Skylake-S with GT2 Graphics
  • (LGA) Dual Core Skylake-S with GT2 Graphics
  • (LGA) Quad Core Skylake-S with GT4e Graphics, the successor to Iris Pro.

The inclusion of an enthusiast, LGA SKU with GT4e graphics is promising, especially for us. We, of course, continue to want products that we can, you know, buy and put into our desktops at will. It will certainly be interesting to see how these GPUs perform and it could lead to some healthy SteamOS builds.

There's a lot of information here. Expect us to chew on this over the next little while.

Source: VR-Zone

Lenovo Launches Two New 11-Inch Chromebooks

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 6, 2014 - 02:48 AM |
Tagged: Lenovo, Chromebook, celeron, Intel

Today, Lenovo announced its first set of Chromebooks aimed at consumers. The N20 Chrome and N20p Chrome Chromebooks join the existing ThinkPad branded Chromebooks which targeted the education sector. The new N20 series devices are 11.6” laptops weighing less than 3.1 pounds powered by an Intel Celeron chip and running Google’s Chrome OS.

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The base N20 Chrome is a traditional laptop sans touchscreen or Yoga-style acrobatics.

Both the N20 Chrome and N20p Chrome sport an 11.6” display with a resolution of 1366x768, a 1 megapixel webcam, stereo speakers, AccuType keyboards, and large trackpads. Further, the Chromebooks have two USB ports, one HDMI output, a SD card slot, and an audio mic/headphone combo jack. Wireless connectivity includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.2.

The N20 Chrome has a traditional laptop clamshell design while the N20p Chrome features a 300° hinge that allows the display to flip around into tent mode as well as the traditional laptop mode. Further, the N20p Chrome adds a 10-point multi-touch digitizer to the 11.6” display. The N20 Chrome weighs 2.8 lbs (1.3 kg) whereas the N20p Chrome weighs 3.1 lbs (1.4 kg) because of the added hinge and digitizer. Both models come in Graphite Grey with silver accents.

Internally, Lenovo has gone with an unspecified Intel Celeron processor (with Intel integrated graphics), up to 4GB of DDR3L memory, and up to 16GB of eMMC storage (expandable via SD card). Lenovo is pairing the device with up to 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage as well. Lenovo claims up to 8 hours of battery life which bodes well for students and office workers on the go.

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The N20p Chrome with its 11.6" 10-point multi-touch display and 300° hinge.

The N20 Chrome will be available in July for $279 while the N20p Chrome is coming in August with an MSRP of $329. Lenovo’s first take at consumer Chromebooks looks to have all the right pieces. The company should have a very successful product on its hands so long as the keyboards and overall build quality hold up to reviews.

Read more about Chromebooks @ PC Perspective!

Source: Lenovo

Get Speedy Portable Storage With mSATA to USB 3.0 Enclosures

Subject: Storage | May 6, 2014 - 01:32 AM |
Tagged: usb 3.0, ssd, portable storage, msata

VisionTek recently released a new storage product dubbed the mSATA mini USB 3.0 Bus-Powered SSD Enclosure (900696). Despite the name, VisionTek has an interesting product on its hands as it not only enables speedy portable storage (assuming you have hardware with USB 3.0 ports of course), but allows users to put any mSATA SSDs that would otherwise be gathering dust in a drawer to good use! Essentially, it is a small metal enclosure that accepts a mSATA SSD and interfaces it with a PC over USB 3.0.

Visiontek mSATA SSD USB 3.0 Enclosure.jpg

The mSATA USB 3.0 enclosure measures 2.88" x 1.63" x 0.51" and is constructed of aluminum with a textured titanium color (for aesthetics) and rounded edges. Users can install any mSATA SSD up to 50mm in length. A third generation ASMedia ASM1153E controller then performs the conversion from the drive's SATA I, II, or III interface to USB 3.0. Naturally, you are going to take a performance hit due to the added latency and interface conversion introduced by the ASMedia controller versus directly attaching the drive to a motherboard's mSATA slot. Fortunately, the hit to performance is fairly minimal when dealing with large file transfers and sequential read and write performance.

According to Legit Reviews, their Kingston 120GB (SATA 3 6 Gbps) mSATA solid state drive saw sequential read and write speeds of 271 MB/s and 160 MB/s respectively when connected to a motherboard slot. When installed in the USB 3.0 enclosure, speeds dropped to 250 MB/s sequential reads and 158 MB/s sequential writes. Further, a large 71GB 4K video file transfer averaged out to 151 MB/s. The exact speeds will vary with the specific drive users install, but the thing to note is that the performance hit should be minimal (at least the performance relating to dealing with file copies, random access will take a larger hit) despite adding the USB 3.0 interface to the equation. 

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The VisionTek drive is available now with a three year warranty for $30.72 from Amazon, which is a tempting price for fast portable storage especially if you already have a mSATA drive laying around! Notably, it seems that VisionTek is not the only manufacturer sourcing these boards, as MyDigitalSSD has a simlar drive with an MSRP of $24.99.

If you are interested in putting together your own SSD-powered portable drive, check out the full review linked above.

Now, if I can only encourage Allyn to recycle some of his mSATA drives...

Source: Tech Report

Mozilla Makes Suggestions to the FCC about Net Neutrality

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 5, 2014 - 08:08 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, net neutrality

Recently, the FCC has been moving to give up Net Neutrality. Mozilla, being dedicated to the free (as in speech) and open internet, has offered a simple compromise. Their proposal is that the FCC classifies internet service providers (ISPs) as common carriers on the server side, forcing restrictions on them to prevent discrimination of traffic to customers, while allowing them to be "information services" to consumers.

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In other words, force ISPs to allow services to have unrestricted access to consumers, without flipping unnecessary tables with content distribution (TV, etc.) services. Like all possibilities so far, it could have some consequences, however.

"Net Neutrality" is a hot issue lately. Simply put, the internet gives society an affordable method of sharing information. How much is "just information" is catching numerous industries off guard, including ones which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) participate in (such as TV and Movie distribution), and that leads to serious tensions.

On the one hand, these companies want to protect their existing business models. They want consumers to continue to select their cable and satellite TV packages, on-demand videos, and other services at controlled profit margins and without the stress and uncertainty of competing.

On the other hand, if the world changes, they want to be the winner in that new reality. Yikes.

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A... bad... photograph of Mozilla's "UP" anti-datamining proposal.

Mozilla's proposal is very typical of them. They tend to propose compromises which divides an issue such that both sides get the majority of their needs. Another good example is "UP", or User Personalization, which tries to cut down on data mining by giving a method for the browser to tell websites what they actually want to know (and let the user tell the browser how much to tell them). The user would compromise, giving the amount of information they find acceptable, so the website would compromise and take only what they need (rather than developing methods to grab anything and everything they can). It feels like a similar thing is happening here. This proposal gives users what they want, freedom to choose services without restriction, without tossing ISPs into "Title II" common carrier altogether.

Of course, this probably comes with a few caveats...

The first issue that pops in my mind is, "What is a service?". I see this causing problems for peer-to-peer applications (including BitTorrent Sync and Crashplan, excluding Crashplan Central). Neither endpoint would necessarily be classified as "a server", or at least convince a non-technical lawmaker that is the case, and thus ISPs would not need to apply common carrier restrictions to them. This could be a serious issue for WebRTC. Even worse, companies like Google and Netflix would have no incentive to help fight those battles -- they're legally protected. It would have to be defined, very clearly, what makes "a server".

Every method will get messy for someone. Still, the discussion is being made.

Source: Mozilla

The sweet sound of Silverstone's Op-Amps

Subject: General Tech | May 5, 2014 - 06:45 PM |
Tagged: DAC, op-amps, Silverstone, EB01–E DAC, audio

If you go out and buy a high end pair of headphones and plug them into your onboard audio you are essentially doing the same thing as buying a 4K monitor and plugging it into onboard video; sure it will work but you certainly won't get the full experience.  For audiophiles a Digital Analog Converter, specifically a headphone amp is required to actually hear what your earphones are capable of.  Using the XMOS XS1 TQ128 USB decoder, a TI PCM1798 Digital/Analog Converter and the famous TI NE5532 Op-Amps the specifications of this headphone amp are quite impressive as is output impedence of less than 1 ohm on a connection rated to handle up to a 600 ohm load.  If you recognize any of those components then head to Benchmark Reviews for the full article.

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"The Silverstone EB01–E DAC is the companion product in both form and function to the SilverStone EB-03 headphone amplifier. Together, these two components make up the current SilverStone Ensemble Series audiophile grade audio components."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

GeForce Experience 2.0.1 Update Released

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 5, 2014 - 05:03 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, geforce experience, shield

NVIDIA has released version 2.0.1 of GeForce Experience. This update does not bring many new features, hence why it is a third-level increment to the version number, but is probably worthwhile to download regardless. Its headlining feature is security enhancements with OpenSSL under remote GameStream on SHIELD. The update also claims to improve streaming quality and reduce audio latency.

nvidia-shield-gamestream-02.jpg

While they do not seem to elaborate, I assume this is meant to fix Heartbleed, which is an exploit that allows an attacker to receive a small snapshot of active memory. If that is that case, it is unclear whether the SHIELD, the host PC during a game session, or both endpoints are affected.

The new GeForce Experience is available at the NVIDIA website. If it is running, it will also ask you to update it, of course.

Source: NVIDIA

AMD is ARMed for ambidextrous computing

Subject: General Tech | May 5, 2014 - 03:46 PM |
Tagged: amd, arm, seattle

While you are awaiting Josh's take on the announcements from AMD this morning you can get a brief tease at The Tech Report, who will also likely be updating their information as the presentation progresses.  You can read about the chip bearing the code-name K12 here, though there is no in depth information as of yet.  You can also check out the stats on a server powered by ARM Cortex-A57 CPU also known as the Opteron A1100 or Seattle.  Keep your eyes peeled for more information on our front page.

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"At a press event just now, AMD offered an update on its "ambidextrous" strategy for CPUs and SoCs. There's lots of juicy detail here, but the big headline news is that the company is working on two new-from-scratch CPU core designs, one that's compatible with the 64-bit ARMv8 instruction set ISA and another that is an x86 replacement for Bulldozer and its descendants."

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Tech Talk

 

Epic Games Teases Unreal Tournament Announcement

Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2014 - 04:14 AM |
Tagged: Unreal Tournament, unreal engine 4, unreal, ue4

Unreal Tournament will make a comeback. This Thursday, on the official UnrealEngine Twitch.tv channel, Epic Games will make some announcement about the future of the franchise. The only other concrete information that we have is in the original tweet from Paul Meegan, their vice president of product development for about a year and a half.

 

 

So, Unreal Engine 4 dev community and Epic. That could mean any number of things but it sure seems to suggest that the community will have an active hand in its development. As our readers know, UE4's licensing structure has transitioned from an undisclosed, large fee upfront and a percentage of revenue to a small monthly subscription (and five percent of revenue). Full source code is provided to these licensees.

Perhaps the game is not, itself, the product?

Or maybe it is. Who knows. I just get an... off... feeling from the structure of this preannouncement (and that is not a bad thing). It is set to occur on the stream where they record Unreal Engine training videos. They explicitly mention "UE4 Dev Community + Epic". Why the community so front and center?

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According to Edge, Epic is currently working on three titles: Fortnite, an unannounced mobile game, and an unannounced "high-end next generation title". The mobile title is currently in pre-production and will not be "formally announced for some time". This, of course, leaves one of two possibilities: it is the "high-end next generation title" or Epic is not counting it as an official title, for some reason.

Going a little further, Fortnite is said to be PC exclusive. If Unreal Tournament is their high-end next generation title, it will either be their only offering on the next generation consoles, or they do not have a planned offering on a next generation console.

As fun as it is to speculate, I should be clear that this is entirely speculation. We will know more when Epic makes their announcement, Thursday at 2PM EDT.

Lenovo Preparing To Launch New ThinkPad 10 Windows 8.1 Tablet

Subject: Mobile | May 2, 2014 - 10:34 PM |
Tagged: Windows 8.1, thinkpad tablet, thinkpad 10, Lenovo, Intel, Bay Trail

Details on a new 10-inch tablet from Lenovo emerged following a product page being posted on the Lenovo Australia site prior to an official announcement. The page was quickly taken down, but not before German technology site TabTech snagged all of the details and photos of the new ThinkPad branded mobile.

The leaked ThinkPad 10 joins the existing ThinkPad 8 tablet which was first shown off at CES 2014 earlier this year. The business-focused device runs x86 hardware and the full version of Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system. The ThinkPad 10 sports rounded edges, a hefty bezel, (and if it follows the ThinkPad 8) a machine cut aluminum back panel with ThinkPad branding. The front of the device hosts a 10-inch display with a resolution of 1920x1200, a 2MP webcam, and Windows button. The top corner of the tablet hosts an 8MP rear camera with LED flash. Exact dimensions and weight are still unknown.

Lenovo ThinkPad 10 Windows 8.1 Tablet.jpg

Internally, Lenovo is using a quad core Bay Trail SoC clocked at 1.6 GHz, up to 4GB of RAM, and up to 128GB of internal storage. If the ThinkPad 8 is any indication, the base models should start with 2GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a Wi-Fi chip. From there, users will be able to choose versions of the ThinkPad 10 with more memory, more storage, LTE cellular data connections, and stylus options.

Additionally, the ThinkPad 10 will support basic covers, basic docks that allow it to be used in tent mode, keyboard docks, and keyboard cases. Unfortunately, the keyboard dock does not appear to latch onto the tablet, and once docked the screen cannot be rotated further like with devices like the Transformer T100 and upcoming Aspire Switch 10. With that said, from the information available so far, I am interested in the ThinkPad 10 from a mobile productivity standpoint (I have been on the fence on getting a T100 for months now, heh). If Lenovo can maintain ThinkPad quality in this tablet and the keyboard options, I will definitely be considering it. 

Lenovo ThinkPad 10 WIndows 8.1 Tablet And Keyboard Dock.jpg

With the ThinkPad 8 starting at $399 for the WiFi-only model with 2GB RAM and 64GB storage, users can expect the ThinkPad 10 to start at least $499. Unfortunately, as with most product launches and leaks, official pricing and availability are still unknown.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more details on the ThinkPad 10. In the meantime, check out our video of the ThinkPad 8 to get an idea of the aesthetics and performance of the upcoming Windows 8.1 tablet!

Source: Hexus.net

Time for another Fragging Fest!

Subject: General Tech | May 2, 2014 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: gaming, vlan, kick ass, fun, fragging frogs

Tomorrow is the 6th official PC Perspective and Fragging Frogs Virtual LAN party, kicking off at 10AM EDT on Saturday May 3.  You will find all the pertinent info on this thread in the Forums, such as how to Friend players on Steam or Origin, the Teamspeak server information and a list of the games we are likely to play as well as the patches and mods you will need.

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Some reps from AMD will once again be joining us to give away prizes to those on the TeamSpeak server which you will need to log into in order to have a chance to win.  Battlefeild 4 is a definite and you can be sure there will be some UT2004 being played as well.  As well you are likely to get a chance to take a shot at the PC Perspective staff who will be showing up at various points during the day.  There is also a high likelihood some of the games will be livestreamed

Come join us and have a blast!