AMD To Release FreeSync Ready Driver on March 19th

Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | March 5, 2015 - 11:46 AM |
Tagged: freesync, amd

Hey everyone, we just got a quick note from AMD with an update on the FreeSync technology rollout we have been expecting since CES in January (and honestly, even before that). Here is the specific quote:

AMD is very excited that monitors compatible with AMD FreeSync™ technology are now available in select regions in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa). We know gamers are excited to bring home an incredibly smooth and tearing-free PC gaming experience powered by AMD Radeon™ GPUs and AMD A-Series APUs. We’re pleased to announce that a compatible AMD Catalyst™ graphics driver to enable AMD FreeSync™ technology for single-GPU configurations will be publicly available on AMD.com starting March 19, 2015. Support for AMD CrossFire™ configurations will be available the following month in April 2015.

A couple of interesting things: first, it appears that FreeSync monitors are already shipping in the EMEA regions and that is the cause for this news blast to the media. If you are buying a monitor with a FreeSync logo on it and can't use the technology, that is clearly a bit frustrating. You have just another two weeks to wait for the software to enabled your display's variable refresh rate.

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That also might be a clue as to when you can expect review embargoes and/or the release of FreeSync monitors in North America. The end is in sight!

Logitech Launches G303 Daedalus Apex Gaming Mouse

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2015 - 04:00 AM |
Tagged: pmw3366, mouse, logitech g, logitech, g303

Here at the tail end of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, gaming accessory powerhouse Logitech is launching a new mouse in the family of G-series products, the G303 Daedalus Apex. That’s a hell of a name for a mouse to be sure, but the feature set and technology included in this $60 gadget will get some attention from PC gamers and enthusiasts.

Based on the same basic housing and design as the Logitech G302, the G303 is an incredibly lightweight mouse targeted at the gaming community that has such a metric in mind. It includes the same button and spring combinations as the G302, a metal-spring tensioning system, as well as RGB lighting that can be customized with 16.8 million colors.

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The most important new feature of the G303 though is its upgraded optical sensor. Using the Logitech PMW3366, the same sensor found in the Logitech G502, the G303 brings the same level of accuracy and performance to a lighter weight mouse. The technical feature set of the sensor are impressive:

  Logitech PMW3366 Sensor
Sensor Features Exclusive Clock Tuning Technology
Delta Zero™ Technology
Zero Smoothing
Zero Filtering
No Pixel Rounding
No Pixel Doubling
Sensor Surface Tuning
Tracking Resolution: 200 – 12,000 dpi
Max. acceleration: >40G
Max. speed: >300 ips
Responsiveness USB data format: 16 bits/axis
USB report rate: 1000 Hz (1ms)
Microprocessor: 32-bit ARM

Obviously a 12,000 DPI rate is a bit much for any user to really utilize but the capability of the PMW3366 allows it as an option. Other features directly target the gaming market, like Zero Smoothing that guarantees no lag or latency in mousing due to comparisons of sensor data. Clock Tuning is based on Logitech’s inclusion of a crystal that maintains speed and acceleration characteristics despite traditional degradation of these traits over time or due to part-to-part variance. Each G303 should feel the same and the performance should be identical from day one through year one.

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The G303, along with the G502, that utilizes the PMW3366 sensor, can take advantage of Surface Tuning – the ability for the mouse to tune itself to the texture of the plane it’s being used on. By enabling the feature in Logitech’s software then moving the mouse in a series of figure eights, surface-to-surface experiences should be similar.

G303 Daedalus Apex also has advanced Surface Tuning technology as an integral feature of the PMW3366 sensor. Surface Tuning is a technology used to tune mouse parameters to match a surface. Most gaming mice that have “surface tuning” optimize only for lift-off distance by adjusting LED intensity, which can sacrifice maximum speed. G303 Daedalus Apex optimizes the sensor dynamic range to match the properties of your mouse surface for maximum high-speed performance in addition to lower lift-off distance.

The same build quality and software infrastructure that sit behind the G302 and the rest of the Logitech G gaming mice follow to the G303 Daedalus Apex. Buttons rated at 20 million clicks, metal spring tensioning system, intuitive software to manage the DPI presets and 6 programmable buttons along with easy customization of the RGB lighting system create a total package that is beyond the $59 MSRP. As a direct comparison, the G302 will continue to sell for $49 using the older sensor controller while the G502 runs at $69 leaving plenty (maybe too many) options for gamers.

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Logitech sent me at G303 and G502 for testing late last week and I am planning a short story on my experiences. It will be hard to beat the G402 for sheer speed (remember our video review trying to break the accelerometer) but a direct comparison is forthcoming.

Source: Logitech

GDC 15: New Syber Steam Machines Coming This Fall From CyberPowerPC

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2015 - 12:17 AM |
Tagged: syber, CyberPowerPC, steam os, gaming, gdc 15, gdc 2015

Syber, a new division of CyberPowerPC, announced plans to launch a slew of Steam OS-powered living room PCs this fall. There are six Steam Machines planned in all, with prototypes being shown off at the Games Developer Conference (GDC) this week.

Steam_Product_Setting_02.png

So far, CyberPowerPC has revealed the Syber Steam Machine-E, Syber Steam Machine-P, and Syber Steam Machine-K. At the low end sits the Steam Machine-E with an unspecified quad core AMD processor and NVIDIA GTX graphics card starting at $449. For $100 more, you can step up to the Steam Machine-P with a dual core Intel Pentium G3258 CPU clocked at 3.2GHz and an AMD Radeon R9 270X. Finally, the Steam Machine-K sits at the high end with an Intel Core i5-4690K processor and a NVIDIA Geforce GTX 970.

Syber also hinted at an exclusive orange clad Steam Machine through CyberPowerPC for $1,399.

Steam_Product_Setting_0112.png

Of course, these are merely starting prices and users will be able to further customize them when ordering. This is CyberPowerPC’s second stab at breaking into the living room with the SteamOS partnership. Interestingly, they have managed to shave a bit off the cost of the lowest end model and added several more tiers compared to the initial series launched at last year’s CES.

Source: Syber

New Fanless Shuttle DS57U PC Powered By Broadwell

Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 4, 2015 - 11:24 PM |
Tagged: shuttle, SFF, fanless, core i7-5500u, Broadwell

The Shuttle DS57U is a new small form factor fanless PC packing Intel’s latest Broadwell processor. The Shuttle 1.3L chassis (7.9" x 6.5" x 1.5") is all black and sits vetically on raised feet. Vents run along the top of the case and the vertical design along with a large heatsink lets them offer a fanless design.

Shuttle DS57U SFF PC Angled.jpg

External I/O includes:

  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x RS232
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 2 x Analog audio
  • 1 x SD card reader
  • 2 x Gigabit Ethernet (Intel i211 and i218LM)

The PC can be attached to the back of a monitor stand or to the wall using its VESA mounting holes.

Internally, the Shuttle DS57U comes with up to an Intel Core i7 5500U processor which is a 15W dual core part with Hyper Threading clocked at 2.4GHz base and 3GHz max turbo, 4MB cache, and Intel 5500 graphics clocked at up to 950MHz. It is a barebones PC which means that users have to add their own storage, memory, and operating system. Users can add two laptop DDR3 SODIMMs (16GB max), a single 2.5” drive, and a two Mini PCI-e devices (an 802.11n wireless module comes pre-installed in the half-height slot).

Shuttle DS57U SFF PC Internals.jpg

The Shuttle DS57U would make for a silent home PC, media server, or an extremely overpowered home router (heh). Its feature set also makes the DS57U suited for commercial and industrial applications. The fanless Broadwell PC is available now in Europe for 192 euros (approximately $220 USD). There is no word on when it will hit this side of the pond, but its introduction is a promising start to other fanless Broadwell systems hitting the market.

Source: Shuttle

GDC 15: Intel and Raptr Partner for PC Gaming Optimization Software

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 4, 2015 - 09:26 PM |
Tagged: GDC, gdc 15, Intel, raptr, GFE, geforce experience

One of NVIDIA's biggest achievements in the past two years has been the creation and improvement of GeForce Experience. The program started with one goal: to help PC gamers optimize game settings to match their hardware and make sure they are getting the top quality settings the hardware can handle and thus the best gaming experience. AMD followed suit shortly after with a partnership with Raptr, a company that crowd-sources data to achieve the same goal: great optimal game settings for all users of AMD hardware.

Today Intel is announcing a partnership with Raptr as well, bringing the same great feature set of Raptr to users of machines with Intel HD Graphics systems. High-end users might chuckle at the news but I actually think this feature is going to be more important for those gamers that utilize integrated graphics. Where GPU horsepower is at premium, compared to discrete graphics cards, using the in-game settings to get all available performance will likely result in the most improvement in experience of all the three major vendors.

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Raptr will continue to include game streaming capability and it will also alert the users to when updated Intel graphics drivers are available - a very welcome change to how Intel distributes them.

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Intel announced a partnership to deliver an even better gaming experience on Intel Graphics. Raptr, a leading PC gaming utility now available on Intel Graphics for the first time, delivers one-button customized optimizations that improve performance on existing hardware and the games being played, even older games. With just a little tweaking of their PC settings a user may be able to dial up the frame rate and details or even play a game they didn’t think possible.

The Raptr software scans the user’s PC and compares a given game’s performance across tens of millions of other gamers’ PCs, finding and applying the best settings for their Raptr Record system. And Raptr’s gameplay recording tools leverage the video encoding in Intel® Quick Sync technology to record and stream gameplay with virtually no impact on system performance. Driver updates are a snap too, more on Raptr for Intel available here.

Hopefully we'll see this application pre-installed on notebooks going forward (can't believe I'm saying that) but I'd like to see as many PC gamers as possible, even casual ones, get access to the best gaming experience their hardware can provide.

GDC 15: Intel Demos Socketed, LGA1150 Broadwell CPU with Iris Pro Graphics

Subject: Processors | March 4, 2015 - 09:07 PM |
Tagged: GDC, gdc 15, Intel, Broadwell, iris pro, LGA1150, core i7

Consumer have been asking for it since the first time Intel announced it, but Iris Pro graphics is finally finding its way to the desktop, socketed market. Shown powering one of Dell's new 5K displays, this processor shipping in "mid-2015", is going to be configured with a 65 watt TDP and will be unlocked for overclockers to tweak. Intel first disclosed these plans way back in May of 2014 so we are going to be approaching the 12-month mark for availability.

iris1.jpg

It doesn't look special, but this system has the first desktop Iris Pro processor

In a new disclosure at GDC, Intel showed the first 5th Generation Core LGA-socketed CPU with Intel® Iris™ Pro graphics. This 65 watt unlocked desktop processor, available mid-2015, will bring new levels of performance and power efficiency to Mini PCs and desktop All-In-Ones. Since 2006 the 3D performance of Intel Graphics has increased nearly 100 fold (Intel 3DMark06 measurements) and powerful form factors from Acer, Medion and Intel’s own NUCs are becoming available with 5th Generation Intel Core processors with Intel Iris Graphics.

iris2.jpg

Under that little heatsink...

Details of this new CPU offering, including clock speed and graphics performance, are still unknown but Intel claims we will have this part in our hands in the near future. This isn't targeted to overtake consumers with mid-range discrete graphics systems but instead will bring users interested in a SFF or low power system with both home theater features and improved gaming capability. Our testing with Iris Pro graphics in notebooks has proven that the gaming performance gains can be substantial, but often the battery life demands have limited implementations from OEMs. With a desktop part, we might actually be able to see the full capability of an integrated GPU with embedded memory.

GDC 15: Intel shows 3DMark API Overhead Test at Work

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | March 4, 2015 - 08:46 PM |
Tagged: GDC, gdc 15, API, dx12, DirectX 12, dx11, Mantle, 3dmark, Futuremark

It's probably not a surprise to most that Futuremark is working on a new version of 3DMark around the release of DirectX 12. What might be new for you is that this version will include an API overhead test, used to evaluate a hardware configuration's ability to affect performance in Mantle, DX11 and DX12 APIs.

3dmark1.jpg

While we don't have any results quite yet (those are pending and should be very soon), Intel was showing the feature test running at an event at GDC tonight. In what looks like a simple cityscape being rendered over and over, the goal is to see how many draw calls, or how fast the CPU can react to a game engine, the API and hardware can be.

The test was being showcased on an Intel-powered notebook using a 5th Generation Core processor, code named Broadwell. Obviously this points to the upcoming support for DX12 (though obviously not Mantle) that Intel's integrated GPUs will provide.

It should be very interesting to see how much of an advantage DX12 offers over DX11, even on Intel's wide ranges of consumer and enthusiast processors.

GDC 15: PhysX Is Now Shared Source to UE4 Developers

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | March 4, 2015 - 05:52 PM |
Tagged: GDC, gdc 15, nvidia, epic games, ue4, unreal engine 4, PhysX, apex

NVIDIA and Epic Games have just announced that Unreal Engine 4 developers can view and modify the source of PhysX. This also includes the source for APEX, which is NVIDIA's cloth and destruction library. It does not include any of the other libraries that are under the GameWorks banner, but Unreal Engine 4 does not use them anyway.

epic-ue4-nvidia-physx.jpg

This might even mean that good developers can write their own support for third-party platforms, like OpenCL. That would probably be a painful process, but it should be possible now. Of course, that support would only extend to their personal title, and anyone who they share their branch with.

If you are having trouble finding it, you will need to switch to a branch that has been updated to PhysX 3.3.3 with source, which is currently just “Master”. “Promoted” and earlier seem to be back at PhysX 3.3.2, which is still binary-only. It will probably take a few months to trickle down to an official release. If you are still unable to find it, even though you are on the “Master” branch, the path to NVIDIA's source code is: “Unreal Engine/Engine/Source/ThirdParty/PhysX/”. From there you can check out the various subdirectories for PhysX and APEX.

NVIDIA will be monitoring pull requests sent to that area of Unreal Engine. Enhancements might make it back upstream to PhysX proper, which would then be included in future versions of Unreal Engine and anywhere else that PhysX is used.

In other news, Unreal Engine 4 is now free of its subscription. The only time Epic will ask for money is when you ship a game and royalties are due. This is currently 5% of gross revenue, with the first $3000 (per product, per calendar quarter) exempt. This means that you can make legitimately free (no price, no ads, no subscription, no microtransactions, no Skylander figurines, etc.) game in UE4 for free now!

Source: Epic Games

GDC 15: Valve Shows Off $50 Steam Link Game Streaming Box

Subject: General Tech | March 4, 2015 - 04:31 PM |
Tagged: GDC, valve, streaming box, Steam Box, steam, pc game streaming, gaming, gdc 2015

Valve has slowly but surely been working on its living room gaming initiative. Despite the slow progress (read: Valve time), Steam Machines are still a thing and a new bit of hardware called the “Steam Link” will allow you to stream all of your Steam content from your computers and Steam Machines to your TV over a local network. Slated for a November launch, the Steam Link is a $49.99 box that can be paired with a Steam Controller for another $49.99.

Steam Link Angled.jpg

Valve has revealed little about the internals or specific features of the Steam Link. We do know that it can tap into Valve’s Steam In-Home Streaming technology to stream your PC games to your TV and output it at 1080p 60Hz (no word on specific latency numbers but the wired connection is promising). The box is tiny, looking to be less than half of a NUC (and much shorter) with sharp angles and one rounded corner hosting the Steam logo. Two USB ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a HDMI output, and an AC power jack sit on the rear of the device with a third USB port located on the left side of the Steam Link.

Steam Link Budget Streaming Box.jpg

In all, the Steam Link looks like a promising device so long as Valve can get it out the door in time, especially with so many competing streaming technologies hitting the market. I’m looking forward to more details and getting my hands one later this year.

Pushing the GTX 980 to the limits; the ASUS ROG Poseidon

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 4, 2015 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: asus, ROG Poseidon GTX 980, GTX 980, factory overclocked

On the box the ASUS ROG Poseidon GTX 980 Platinum states a base of 1178MHz and a boost clock of 1279MHz but in testing [H]ard|OCP saw the card sitting at 1328MHz in game while on air cooling.  They then proceeded to hook up a Koolance Exos-2 V2 and pushed the card to 1580MHz in game, though the RAM would only increase by 1.1GHz to 8.1GHz.  As you would expect this had a noticeable impact on the performance and while it might not compete with the just announced Titan X at $640 it is also far less expensive though still $200 more than the Sapphire Vapor-X 290X it was tested against and $90 more than the 8GB version of that card.  If you have the budget this GTX 980 is the fastest single GPU card on the planet right now.

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"The highest overclocked GeForce GTX 980 based video card just landed. If the ASUS ROG Poseidon GTX 980 Platinum video card with a hybrid air and liquid cooling system doesn't impress you, we are not sure what will when it comes to GPU. We push the Poseidon clocks and pit it against the AMD Radeon R9 290X for an ultimate showdown."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

The old is new is old again, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

Subject: General Tech | March 4, 2015 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: gaming, wolfenstein, the old blood

B.J. Blazkowicz is back ... in time?  There was apparently a recent reboot of the venerable Wolfenstein series far more popular than the mediocre 2009 reboot which was set in a modern times, albeit a parallel history in which the Nazi's won.  The Old Blood was just announced, set presumably in the same timeline as The New Order, set in 1946 and is an assault by our hero on Castle Wolfenstein to try to prevent the Nazis from winning the war.  If it is indeed a prequel then we already know the ending, with B.J. suffering a massive head wound and going into a coma; perhaps while bending over to pick up the Spear of Destiny?  Check out the trailer at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.

wolf1.jpg

"Bethesda have just announced a Wolfenstein: The New Order stand-alone prequel, which is wonderful news. Going by the subtitle The Old Blood, it’s set in 1946 as the Nazis are on the brink of winning World War II."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

GDC 15: NVIDIA Shows TITAN X at Epic Games Keynote

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 4, 2015 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: titan x, nvidia, maxwell, gtx, geforce, gdc 15, GDC

For those of you worried that GDC would sneak by without any new information for NVIDIA's GeForce fans, Jen-Hsun Huang surprised everyone by showing up at the Epic Games' keynote with Tim Sweeny to hijack it.

The result: the first showing of the upcoming GeForce TITAN X based on the upcoming Maxwell GM200 GPU.

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JHH stated that it would have a 12GB frame buffer and was built using 8 billion transistors! There wasn't much more information than that, but I was promised that the details would be revealed sooner rather than later.

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Any guesses on performance or price?

titanx1.jpg

titanx4.jpg

Jen-Hsun signs the world's first TITAN X for Tim Sweeney.

Kite Demo running on TITAN X

UPDATE: I ran into the TITAN X again at the NVIDIA booth and was able to confirm a couple more things. First, the GPU will only require a 6+8-pin power connections, indicating that NVIDIA is still pushing power efficiency with GM200.

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Also, as you would expect, the TITAN X will support 3-way and 4-way SLI, or at very least has the SLI bridges to support it.

titanx6.jpg

Nano, Nano, Nano, Nano, Nano, Nano, Nano, Nano ... Server!

Subject: General Tech | March 4, 2015 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: nano server, microsoft, server 2016, rumour

In a recent leak from Microsoft that The Inquirer is reporting on describes Windows Server 2016 as offering "a new headless deployment option for Windows Server".  Your next generation of servers may live in containers inside CloudOS infrastructure and you will use Windows Server Core to access Powershell to remotely interface with your server.  There are some downsides to this model, data which is required to be stored in a specific geographical location will not be able to take advantage of this and you will lose the ability to run a fax server.  Governments and other organizations may be forking over money to Microsoft to support older versions of Windows server now or in the future if the idea of a server that you can actually sit in front of is being discouraged.  As with all leaks you should take this with a grain of salt but this is certainly in line with what Microsoft's new business model seems to be.

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"MICROSOFT IS PLANNING a 'Nano Server', according to the latest leaks from notorious Microsoft mole WZor."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

BitTorrent Sync 2.0 Available Now For PC, NAS, and Mobile With Pro Version For $39.95/year

Subject: General Tech | March 4, 2015 - 02:29 AM |
Tagged: sync 2.0, folder sync, file sharing, bittorrent sync, bittorrent, backup

BitTorrent Sync has officially taken the beta tag off and launched Sync 2.0. Sync 2.0 is the latest iteration of the company’s file and folder synchronization application. It uses certificate-based security and the torrent protocol to securely share files an folders with no file size or transfer limits. Sync 2.0 is available for PCs as well as NAS and mobile devices and it can be used to roll your own cloud storage.

Sync 2.0 Main.png

Sync 2.0 contains numerous bug fixes and three major new features over Sync 1.4 (which I detailed here and includes selective sync, ownership and permission controls, and private identities). Additionally, the question of how BitTorrent will monetize Sync has been answered with the introduction of a paid Sync Pro subscription service that grants access to all the new Sync features.

BitTorrent continues to offer a free version that Sync 1.4.3 users can upgrade to in order to take advantage of the bug fixes with one big caveat. The free version of Sync 2.0 is limited to synchronizing 10 folders (no file/folder size or transfer limits). This is a irksome step backwards from the previous version that in my opinion is unwarranted (Sync Pro unlocks a slew of useful features), but apparently BitTorrent believes it needs to do this to encourage enough people to ante up for the paid version to support the project.

Users can download Sync 2.0 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Free BSD from GetSync.com while mobile users can pick the Sync app up from their app store of choice (it should be live today). BitTorrent now supports Sync on Network Attached Storage devices from Asustor, Drobo, Netgear, Overland SnapServer, QNAP, Seagate, and Synology. You can grab the appropriate NAS build from this page.

Downloads of Sync 2.0 include a 30-day trial of Sync Pro. Sync Pro will cost $39.95 per user per year (on unlimited devices) with volume licensing available for large organizations and teams.

I have been using Sync since the original alpha and have found it to be invaluable in keeping all my files in sync and my smartphone pictures backed up (especially with the number of times my S5 has needed replacing heh). I am still deciding whether or not I will purchase the yearly Pro subscription (The 10 folder limit does not affect me (yet anyway)), but the new features are compelling as the linked devices and selective sync would be welcome. The ownership and permissions stuff is great for collaboration and sharing with others, but that’s not something I’m using it for right now.

What are your thoughts on Sync 2.0 and the new subscription model? Now that I am allowed to talk about it, do you have any questions?

Source: BitTorrent

GDC 15: ZOTAC Announces the SN970 Steam Machine - Powered by a GTX 970M and Intel Skylake CPU

Subject: Systems | March 4, 2015 - 12:11 AM |
Tagged: Skylake, zotac, valve, SteamOS, Steam Machine, steam, gdc 2015, gdc 15, GDC, GTX 970M

Favor a steamier TV gaming experience? ZOTAC has announced a new Steam Machine on the eve of Valve’s presentation at GDC on Wednesday.

SN970-03.jpg

The SN970 presumably gets its name from the GTX 970M mobile GPU within, and this does the heavy lifting along with an unspecified 6th-generation Intel (Skylake) CPU. The massive amount of HDMI outputs (there are 4 HDMI 2.0 ports!) is pretty impressive for a small device like this, and dual Gigabit Ethernet ports are a premium feature as well.

SN970-05.jpg

There's a lot going on back here - the rear I/O of the ZOTAC SN970

Here's the rundown of features and specs from ZOTAC:

Key Features

  • SteamOS preloaded
  • NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 970M MXM graphics
  • 4 x HDMI 2.0, supports 4K UHD @ 60Hz

Specifications

  • 6th Gen Intel Processor
  • NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 970M 3GB GDDR5
  • 8GB DDR3 SODIMM
  • 64GB M.2 SSD
  • 1 x HDMI in
  • 2D/3D NVIDIA Surround
  • Dual Gigabit Ethernet
  • 4 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x 2.5” 1TB HDD
  • 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Mic-In, Stereo Out
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC Card Reader

The release for this new Steam Box isn't specified, but we will be doubtless be hearing more from Valve and their partners tomorrow so stay tuned!

Source: ZOTAC

GDC 15: Native versions of Doom 3, Crysis 3 running on Android, Tegra X1

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | March 3, 2015 - 10:43 PM |
Tagged: Tegra X1, tegra, nvidia, gdc 15, GDC, Doom 3, Crysis 3

Impressively, NVIDIA just showed the new SHIELD powered by Tegra X1 running a version of both Doom 3 and Crysis 3 running natively on Android! The games were running at impressive quality and performance levels.

I have included some videos of these games being played on the SHIELD, but don't judge the visual quality of the game with these videos. They were recorded with a Panasonic GH2 off a 4K TV in a dimly lit room.

Doom 3 is quoted to run at full 1920x1080 and 60 FPS while Crysis 3 is much earlier in its development. Both games looked amazing considering we are talking about a system that has a total power draw of only 15 watts!

While these are just examples of the power that Tegra X1 can offer, it's important to note that this type of application is the exception, not the rule, for Android gaming. Just as we see with Half-Life 2 and Portal NVIDIA did most of the leg work to get this version of Doom 3 up and running. Crysis 3 is more of an effort from Crytek explicitly - hopefully this port is as gorgeous as this first look played.

GDC 15: NVIDIA Announces SHIELD, Tegra X1 Powered Set-top with Android TV

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | March 3, 2015 - 10:21 PM |
Tagged: Tegra X1, tegra, shield, gdc 15, GDC, android tv

NVIDIA just announced a new member of its family of hardware devices: SHIELD. Just SHIELD. Powered by NVIDIA's latest 8-core, Maxwell GPU Tegra X1 SoC, SHIELD will run Android TV and act as a game playing, multimedia watching, GRID streaming set-top box.

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Odd naming scheme aside, the SHIELD looks to be an impressive little device, sitting on your home theater or desk, bringing a ton of connectivity and performance to your TV. Running Android TV means the SHIELD will have access to the entire library of Google Play media including music, movie and apps. SHIELD supports 4K video playback at 60 Hz thanks to an HDMI 2.0 connection and fully supports H.265/HEVC decode thanks to Tegra X1 processor.

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Speaking of the Tegra X1, the SHIELD will include the power of 256 Maxwell architecture CUDA cores and will easily provide the best Android gaming performance of any tablet or set-top box on the market. This means gaming, and lots of it, will be possible on SHIELD. Remember our many discussions about Tegra-specific gaming ports from the past? That trend will continue and more developers are realizing the power that NVIDIA is putting into this tiny chip.

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In the box you'll get the SHIELD set-top unit and a SHIELD Controller, the same released with the SHIELD Tablet last year. A smaller remote controller that looks similar to the one used with the Kindle Fire TV will cost a little extra as will the stand that sets the SHIELD upright.

Pricing on the new SHIELD set-top will be $199, shipping in May.

Meet Silicon Motion's new flash agnostic controller

Subject: Storage | March 3, 2015 - 06:16 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, SM2256, slc, silicon motion

You may remember the Silicon Motion SM2256 SSD controller that Al reported on during CES this year, even if you do not you should be interested in a controller which can work with 1x/1y/1z nm TLC NAND from any manufacturer on the market.  The SSD Review managed to get a prototype which uses the new SM2256 controller, Samsung’s 19nm TLC planar NAND flash and a Hynix 440Mhz 256MB DDR3 DRAM chip.  In benchmarking they saw 548MB/s sequential reads and 484MB/s writes, with 4K slowing down to 38MB/s for read and 110MB/s for write.  Check out the rest of the review here as well as keeping your eyes peeled for our first review of the new controller.

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"Controllers are the heart and soul of every SSD. Without one, an SSD would be a useless PCB with some components slapped on it. It is responsible for everything from garbage collection and wear leveling to error correction and hardware encryption. In simple terms, all these operations can be quite complicated to implement as well as expensive to develop."

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GDC 15: Khronos Acknowledges Mantle's Start of Vulkan

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | March 3, 2015 - 03:37 PM |
Tagged: vulkan, Mantle, Khronos, glnext, gdc 15, GDC, amd

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Neil Trevett, the current president of Khronos Group and a vice president at NVIDIA, made an on-the-record statement to acknowledge the start of the Vulkan API. The quote came to me via Ryan, but I think it is a copy-paste of an email, so it should be verbatim.

Many companies have made great contributions to Vulkan, including AMD who contributed Mantle. Being able to start with the Mantle design definitely helped us get rolling quickly – but there has been a lot of design iteration, not the least making sure that Vulkan can run across many different GPU architectures. Vulkan is definitely a working group design now.

So in short, the Vulkan API was definitely started with Mantle and grew from there as more stakeholders added their opinion. Vulkan is obviously different than Mantle in significant ways now, such as its use of SPIR-V for its shading language (rather than HLSL). To see a bit more information, check out our article on the announcement.

Update: AMD has released a statement independently, but related to Mantle's role in Vulkan

A taste of the new Pi

Subject: General Tech | March 3, 2015 - 03:01 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi 2 Model B

Linux.com have just released benchmarks of the new Raspberry Pi 2 Model B with its improved processor and RAM.  Benchmarking a Pi is always interesting as you must find applications which are reasonable for this device to use, with webserver software being a decent choice to compare to ODroid-U2, Radxa and the Beaglebone Black.  openSSL 1.0.1e,DES and AES cbc mode ciphering and Blowfish were all tested with the Pi performing slowly but improved from the previous generation and certainly decent for a $35 piece of hardware.  In addition both a full KDE desktop and KDE/Openbox were successfully installed with Openbox the recommended choice.  Get all the results right here.

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"Released in February, the Raspberry Pi Model 2 B is an update to the original board that brings quad cores for six times the performance of the original, 1 gigabyte of RAM for twice the memory, and still maintains backwards compatibility. The many CPU cores are brought about by moving from the BCM2835 SoC to the BCM2836 SoC in the Raspberry Pi 2."

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Source: Linux.com