Acer's two new XBO series gaming displays; G-SYNC on both, 4k on one

Subject: Displays | September 18, 2014 - 05:59 PM |
Tagged: Acer XB270H, XB280HK, 4k, g-sync

The Acer XB280HK is a 28" 4K G-SYNC display which will launch next month at expected price of US$799 or $849.99CDN.  The XB270H is a 27" 1080p display also with G-SYNC support and is currently available at $599USD or $649CDN.  As both are rated with a 1ms response time it is likely these are backlit TN panels but with the recent advances in TN panels the viewing angles should be much better than the original generation.

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SAN JOSE, Calif., Sept. 18, 2014 – Acer America is bringing its new XBO series gaming displays featuring NVIDIA G-SYNC technology to gaming enthusiasts in North America. This cutting-edge line delivers significant performance advantages that infuse gaming with incredibly smooth, realistic and responsive visuals, elevating game play to a new level of stunning realism.

The two XBO series display models for North America include the Acer XB280HK boasting a 28-inch 4K2K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) display with a @60Hz refresh rate and the Acer XB270H with a 27-inch screen and a maximum Full HD 1080p @ 144Hz resolution. Both models provide a quick 1ms response time, further enhancing in-game performance. They also feature revolutionary NVIDIA G-SYNC technology, comfortable ergonomics and excellent connectivity.

“We’re excited to bring these first-rate gaming displays to gamers in the United States and Canada,” said Ronald Lau, Acer America business manager. “The incredibly sharp and smooth images provided by NVIDIA G-SYNC technology are sure to thrill the most avid gamers. Combined with Acer’s highly flexibly ergonomic stand, non-glare ComfyView panel and low dimming technology, users are assured long hours of both comfortable and visually stunning game play.”  

NVIDIA G-SYNC: Picture-Perfect Visuals
NVIDIA G-SYNC technology ensures that every frame rendered by the GPU is perfectly portrayed by synchronizing the monitor’s refresh rates to the GPU in a GeForce GTX-powered PC. This breakthrough technology eliminates screen tearing and minimizes display stutter and input lag to deliver a smooth, fast and breathtaking gaming experience on the hottest PC gaming titles. Scenes appear instantly, objects look visually sharp, and gameplay is more responsive to provide faster reaction times, giving gamers a competitive edge.

“NVIDIA G-SYNC technology dramatically improves the way gamers see their games, by delivering images that are fast, sharp and stutter-free,” said Tom Petersen, distinguished engineer at NVIDIA. “This is the way games were meant to be played, and gamers will absolutely love these new Acer XBO monitors.”

Comfortable Ergonomics
By making gaming as comfortable as possible, the XBO series monitors help extend game time with three Acer innovations. Acer flicker-less technology reduces eye strain via a stable power supply that eliminates screen flicker. Its low dimming technology provides users the ability to adjust brightness down to 15 percent in low-light environments and Acer ComfyView non-glare screen reduces reflection for clearer viewing, a significant benefit for gamers.

A flexible, multi-function ErgoStand extends a wide range of options for maximum comfort and viewing perspectives. For finding the best angle, the screen tilts from -5 to -35 degrees and the height can be raised by up to 5.9 inches. In addition, the base rotates 120 degrees from left to right for easy screen sharing during game play and collaboration with others. Plus, the screen pivots from horizontal to vertical to accommodate two entirely different gaming scenarios.

Both new XBO series monitors deliver wide viewing angles up to 170 degrees horizontal and up to 160 degrees vertical. The Acer XB280HK delivers 1.07 billion colors and the Acer XB270HL provides 16.7 million colors, while both offer a native contrast ratio of 1000:1, a 300 nits brightness and a 72 percent NTSC color saturation, a combination that delivers exceptionally vibrant, detailed and high-quality imagery.

Superb Connectivity
The displays come with DisplayPort as well as high-speed USB 3.0 ports (1 up, 4 down) that are located on the side and down of screen for easily connecting a mouse, keyboard, gaming headset, joystick and other peripherals. One of the USB ports is equipped for battery charging.  

Eco-Friendly Design
EPEAT Gold registered, the highest level of EPEAT registration available, the displays meet all of EPEAT’s required criteria and at least 75 percent of EPEAT’s optional criteria. They’re also mercury-free and LED-backlit, which reduces energy costs by consuming less power than standard CCFL-backlit displays. ENERGY STAR 6.0 and TCO 6.0 qualified, they adhere to strict environmental, performance and ergonomic design standards.

Pricing and Availability
The Acer XB270H is available now at leading online retailers in the United States and Canada with a MSRP of US$599 and $649.99 CAD. The Acer XB280HK will be available next month at leading online retailers in the United States and Canada with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of US$799 and $849.99 CAD.

Acer displays are backed by professional, high-quality technical support and a three-year warranty. Acer’s online community at community.acer.com provides customers discussion forums, answers to frequently asked questions and the opportunity to share ideas for new and enhanced services and products.

Source: Acer

Can a heavily overclocked ASUS STRIX GTX 750 Ti OC beat an R9 270?

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 18, 2014 - 03:56 PM |
Tagged: DirectCU II, asus, STRIX GTX 750 Ti OC, factory overclocked

The ASUS STRIX GTX 750 Ti OC sports the custom DirectCU II cooling system which not only improves the temperatures on the card but also reduces the noise produced by the fans.  It comes out of the box with an overclocked  GPU base clock 1124MHz and a boost clock of 1202MHz, with the 2GB of VRAM set to the stock speed of 5.4GHz; [H]ard|OCP managed to increase that to an impressive 1219/1297MHz and 6.0GHz even for the VRAM without increasing voltages.  Unfortunately even with that overclock it lagged behind the Sapphire Radeon R9 270 Dual-X which happens to be about the same price at $170.

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"Rounding out our look at ASUS' new STRIX technology we have another STRIX capable video card on our test bench today, this time based on the GTX 750 Ti GPU. We will take the ASUS STRIX GTX 750 Ti OC Edition and test it against an AMD Radeon R9 270 and AMD Radeon R9 265 to see what reigns supreme under $200."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Podcast #318 - GTX 980 and R9 390X Rumors, Storage News from IDF, ADATA SP610 SSDs and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 18, 2014 - 01:59 PM |
Tagged: windows 9, video, TSV, supernova, raptr, r9 390x, podcast, p3700, nvidia, Intel, idf, GTX 980, evga, ECS, ddr4, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #318 - 09/18/2014

Join us this week as we discuss GTX 980 and R9 390X Rumors, Storage News from IDF, ADATA SP610 SSDs and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

Upward mobility for both Linux and Windows

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 18, 2014 - 01:11 PM |
Tagged: Red Hat, microsoft, Feedhenry

Red Hat just acquired Feedhenry for around €63.5 million to enhance their ability to support mobile apps.  Feedhenry designs mobile apps on both the client and server side which run on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, QNX and HTML5 as well as integration with apps from companies such as Salesforce, SAP and Oracle.  This purchase could help Red Hat become an attractive alternative for companies wishing to serve apps across all platforms and increased usage of Openshift and Openstack.  The Inquirer also posted news on a extension to the price discount on Microsoft's licensing for mobile developers.  They are still offering lifetime accounts for Dev Center for $19.99 for individuals and $99.99 for businesses, which compares favourably to the one time Android fee of $25 and even better against Apple's $99 per year.  If they could just get their phones to play nicely with O365 this could well increase their market share for mobile phones.

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"RED HAT HAS ACQUIRED Feedhenry, a designer of mobile apps for the enterprise market. The company sees the acquisition as a key driver to offer cross-platform support for its existing software products, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux Openstack 7, which it released earlier this year."

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Source: The Inquirer

ECS "Design Your Own LIVA" Competition Is Almost Over!

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 18, 2014 - 02:27 AM |
Tagged: LIVA, ECS, case mods, case mod contest

ECS USA is holding a competition for North American users to design mods for the LIVA mini PC kit. The contest consists of three phases and round one, whose winners will advance to the second phase, ends on September 30th. If you want to enter in the contest, you will need to submit your first phase entry before then to be eligible for the second phase. Check out Morry's post for a second opinion.

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What are the phases?

Round 1 (Ends September 30th): You will need to publish the "soft copy" of your design draft to Facebook. This will consist of six illustrations: Front, Rear, Left Side, Right Side, Top, and 45-degree 3D illustration. See the image below for an example. The top ten participants, based on Facebook likes, will be provided with a white LIVA mini PC kit to modify in Round 2.

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Round 2 (Ends October 31st): The winners of Round 1 will, using the provided LIVA kits and your design draft, implement their customizations. Photographs of these modified cases will be sent to ECS (I assume by Facebook) for a team of judges to rank them first, second, third, or runner-up.

Round 3 (November 7th): Sit back, relax, and wait for the judges to select winners. The Champion will receive $1000 USD for their trouble, second place will get $500 USD, and third will get $300 USD. The honorable mentions will get various swags.

The contest is open to residents of the USA and Canada. Do it fast! It's less than two weeks and, as I understand it, the later you enter, the less time you will have to accumulate Facebook likes.

Source: ECS

Microsoft's Universal Mobile Keyboard Is Coming Soon

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | September 17, 2014 - 06:57 PM |
Tagged: windows, mobile, microsoft, keyboard, ios, Android

Let me share a story. There was a time, around the first Surface launch, that I worked in an electronics retail store (and the several years prior -- but I digress). At around that time, Microsoft was airing ads with people dancing around, clicking keyboards to the Surface tablet with its magnetic click or snap. One day, a customer came in looking for the keyboard from the TV spots for their iPad. I thought about it for a few seconds and realized how terrible Microsoft's branding actually was.

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Without already knowing the existence of their Windows 8 and RT tablets, which the ads were supposed to convey, it really did look like an accessory for an iPad.

Doing Microsoft's job for them, I explained the Surface Pro and Surface RT tablets along with its keyboard-cover accessories. Eventually, I told them that it was a Microsoft product for their own tablet brand and would not see an iPad release. The company felt threatened by these mobile, touch devices and was directly competing with them.

...

So Microsoft is announcing a keyboard for Windows, Android, and iOS. Sure, it is very different from the Type and Touch Covers; for instance, it does not attach to these devices magnetically. Microsoft has also been known to develop hardware, software, and services for competing platforms. While it is not unsurprising that Microsoft keyboards would work on competing devices, it does feel weird for their keyboard to have features that are specialized for these competing platforms.

There are three things interesting about this keyboard: it has a built-in stand, it has special keys for Android and iOS that are not present in Windows, and it has a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to 6 months. The peripheral pairs wirelessly with all of these devices through Bluetooth.

The Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard is coming soon for $79.95 (MSRP).

Source: Microsoft

Android One sub-$100 Phones for Overseas Announced

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 17, 2014 - 05:03 PM |
Tagged: google, Android, android one

In much the same way as FirefoxOS is targeting foreign markets with low-cost phones, with the Intex Cloud Fx as the extreme example, Google is pushing for the overseas markets with Android One. Based on Android 4.4 and updated as new versions launch, for up to two years at least, the devices will not be old and outdated.

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In terms of hardware, the platform is said to feature front and rear cameras, a quad-core processor, a microSD card slot, and dual SIM slots. Google has several partners involved with the initiative: Acer, Airtel, Alcatel, ASUS, HTC, Intex, Karbonn, LAVA, Lenovo, MediaTek, Cromax, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Spice, and Xolo. Besides a baseline standard, and a bit of marketing, there does not seem to be much to the platform itself.

Of course, delivering a quality standard, at an affordable price, to places which normally cannot obtain smartphones at all is noteworthy.

Source: Google

Microsoft Announces Wired Xbox One Controller for Windows

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | September 17, 2014 - 03:55 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, xbox, xbone, xbox one, controller, gamepad

A few months ago, Microsoft released 32- and 64-bit drivers for their Xbox One controller on Windows 7 and Windows 8. This was for wireless controllers attached by micro-USB to a PC. Now, Microsoft announced a new controller for Windows: the same controller, only bundled with the required cable. In fact, it can still connect wirelessly... to an Xbox One, not a PC.

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The bundle will cost $59.95 (MSRP) and be available starting in November. As far as I can tell, the PC cannot update the Xbox One Controller's firmware; for that, you apparently need an Xbox One handy. It is possible that Microsoft will implement this, or already has and no-one is talking about it, but you might want to hold off until we know for a fact. One update adjusts analog stick sensitivity; this could be important, especially if you have multiple controllers at different patch levels. Yes, some PC games allow local multiplayer.

Corsair's quiet HX1000i PSU could be with you for a long time

Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 17, 2014 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: PSU, corsair, HXi Series, HX1000i, kilowatt, 80 Plus Platinum, Corsair Link

Before even delving into the specifications there are two very attractive features about the Corsair HX1000i modular PSU, it has an 80 Plus Platinum rating and a 7 year warranty.  The 12V rail is capable of delivering 999.6W @ 83.3A and once a small bug in Corsair Link is solved you can actually program the PSU to either provide a single 12V rail or multiple rails.  With eight 6+2 PCIe power connectors you can power even the most demanding of video cards and the dozen SATA power connectors also make it perfect for those with a storage fetish.  At $230 it is not that expensive for a PSU of this power and one of TechPowerUp's favourite things about the PSU was the quiet performance even under load.  Check out the review to get the full picture.

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"Corsair just introduced the new HXi series, comprised of members with Platinum efficiency and full compatibility with the Corsair Link software. Today, we will take a look at the second-strongest unit of the line with 1 kW capacity, ideal for a power-hungry system with up to four VGAs."

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Source: techPowerUp

Can't wait for Homeworld? Ancient Space drops in a week!

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2014 - 02:29 PM |
Tagged: gaming, ancient space, space sim, rts

On September 23rd a new space strategy game by the name of Ancient Space will drop, giving those of us impatiently awaiting the Homeworld Remasters release something to tide us over.  One particularly interesting feature of the game is the voice acting which will include Ron Glass from Firefly, Dina Meyer from Starship Troopers and other series, Aaron Douglas from Battlestar Galactica and several other names immediately recognizable to Sci-Fi fans.  The trailer below shows off some of the gameplay which also looks to be as impressive as the cast.   Hopefully this will be as enjoyable for the story as it is for the gameplay.  You can follow the links from Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for more information.

The Fragging Frogs have been up to quite a bit lately, which you would have completely missed had you not the wisdom to have already joined the best gaming group on the web.  For those few who have yet to join up, once you've checked out the previous link there is a new thread to help introduce yourself and your collection of games to the group.  Try it, you just might like it!

"I feel like I’ve written about quite a few space RTSs in recent times, but none of them are releasing quite as soon or look quite as promising as Ancient Space. The latest trailer thankfully does more than show up Adam’s lack of sci-fi TV knowledge with its voice cast. It’s actual game footage, UI and all, and interspersed with comments from the developers about how the ship customisation and campaign systems will work."

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Fancy a pair of Windows 9 videos?

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2014 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: windows 9, microsoft, leak

The Register has linked to two videos which purportedly capture Windows 9, or at least Build 9834, in action and revealing some not so new tricks.  The first shows a feature which will be new to anyone who has never used Linux but will be old hat to anyone who has, multiple desktops.  This feature will let you have separate switchable desktops which you can run different programs on, it is not a tool to create virtual machines on the fly but is handy if you need a full desktop for development and one for ... entertainment.  The second video shows off the Start Menu, tiles and the much improved placement of the power off button.

"New videos of a "Windows 9" variant have emerged, and to this hack's eyes they look to have brought Windows up to speed with tricks that various desktop flavours of Unix have had for a decade or more."

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Source: The Register

Logitech G910 Orion Spark RGB Mechanical Keyboard Announced for November at $179.99

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | September 17, 2014 - 04:04 AM |
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, logitech, g910 orion spark rgb, g910

The newly announced Logitech G910 Orion Spark RGB mechanical keyboard is based on their own mechanical switch, developed in partnership with Omron, dubbed "Romer-G". It supports 16.8 million colors in the backlight under each individual key. Logitech will provide software to control this lighting and an SDK for developers to integrate custom functionality into their game. It includes nine macro buttons with three profiles.

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The Romer-G switch is (at least currently) exclusive to this keyboard. It is designed with a very small actuation point, 1.5mm from the top of the key. This means that you finger will need to travel less distance, and thus take less time, before the action is registered. From a feeling standpoint, they have a soft spring and a tactile bump at the point of actuation, but no click. Logitech did not comment on whether the G910 contains o-rings to further dampen the sound.

The switches are designed for high durability as well, with an expected lifespan of 70 million keystrokes (compared to 50 million advertised by Cherry and 60 million for Razer). That said, mechanical switches are designed to be put in industrial and medical devices and left unmaintained for decades, so I am not sure how practical that advantage will be.

Their partner, Omron, also collaborates with Logitech on mechanical switches for mice.

The Logitech G910 Orion Spark RGB in planned to be released this November for $179.99.

Source: Logitech G

Event on September 30th "For Windows and the Enterprise"

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 11:01 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows 9, threshold

In two weeks, Microsoft will be holding an event to communicate where Windows is going. It is expected that a public technical preview will launch either at the show, or immediately thereafter. The invitation reads, "Join us to hear about what's next for Windows and the enterprise." This seems to mean that the next version of their desktop OS, probably called Windows 9, will have a strong focus on enterprise features. Contrast this with Windows 8, which I feel comfortable saying wanted to win consumers away from iOS and Android tablets.

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Image Credit: The Verge

Virtual desktops and the Start Menu's return were strong signs, too.

Pretty much the only announcement that they could make to get me excited would be sideloading for all versions (which would also remove developer certificate requirements for those apps). I know that it is seductive from a "gatekeeper against malware" point of view, but it decimates the whole reason for having a computer. The Windows Store requirements are just too terrible. No third-party browser engines? C'mon. Microsoft has expressed their continued support of these regulations at Build, but I can hope for a surprise. Seriously Microsoft, give users the option to install what they want, regardless of the API used.

Two weeks until we know. We might even have access by then.

Source: The Verge

NVIDIA Game24 Is Coming in Three Days—And Promises to be a Star-Studded Event!

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, game24

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If you are in Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Mission Viejo (Ca.), Indianapolis, Shanghai or Stockholm you might want to see if you can get into GAME24, a 24-hour event celebrating PC gamers that kicks off on Thursday September 18th at 6PM PDT.  If you can't make it in person it will be broadcast live on the internet at www.GAME24.nvidia.com.

Highlights include:

  • New products announcements from NVIDIA and game publishers
  • A DOTA 2 Invitational tournament featuring professional teams including Evil Geniuses, Cloud 9, Team Tinker, and Alliance competing for a share of $15,000 in prizes.
  • Mod24, the world’s first 24-hour livestreamed modding completion will also be held.
  • Renowned modders Team Mongoose, BSMODS, and Team Kill Ninja will be at NVIDIA HQ in Santa Clara, California doing the onsite build.  Viewers of the live stream will be the judges and three lucky winners will take home these one of a kind builds.
  • Two world records will be broken!

Special guests will include

  • Jay (no Silent Bob though)
  • cos-play queen Chloe Dykstra
  • (ex)MythBuster Grant Imahara
  • Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter.
  • also appearing will be Tiffany Smith, Zach Selwyn, Alison Haislip, Alex Albrecht, Kristin Adams, Chris Gore and Blair Butler.

More information about GAME24 and details on the many local events taking place on September 18 can be found at:  www.GAME24.nvidia.com.

 

Source: NVIDIA

Acer has a Switch you would actually want

Subject: Mobile | September 16, 2014 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: acer, inspire switch 12, core m, 5Y10a

The Inquirer had a chance for some hands on time with the new Acer Aspire Switch 12 convertible tablet and keyboard.  It is powered by the new Core M 5Y10a at 1Ghz, which does not require a fan and has 4GB of RAM and runs Win8.  The screen specifications were not listed but their eyeballs suggest the screen is a full 1080p which is a great improvement from the usual 1366x768 on these convertible devices.  They were not overly impressed by the quality of the keyboard or the process to attach or remove it from the screen but the sacrifice in aesthetics does help to keep the device very light and thin when the keyboard dock is attached. You can see their preview here, hopefully a full review will appear soon.

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"The Aspire Switch 12 is the successor to the Taiwanese firm's previous affordable multi-mode device, the Aspire Switch 10. It boasts a slimmer design thanks to Intel's new 14nm fanless processor, has a 12.5in display and features five alternative viewing modes."

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Source: The Inquirer

Flexible FinFETs are feasible

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: FinFET, flexible

We've seen a few examples of OLEDs being used to create flexible displays but they are much slower than their unbending silicon rivals.  With conductive ink and thread it is possible to make wearable technology but again the silicon components remain solid and immobile.  Researchers in Saudi Arabia have been working on flexible technology which retains the speed of silicon transistors but is able to flex up to 0.5 mm which may sound large until you remember the size of a transistor.  They have created these FinFETs by putting a thin layer of a polymer on top of the material they will be etching the transistors into and gently removing the polymer once the process has completed.  This results in a FinFET which retains the power saving and performance attributes common to the 3D transistor but with the ability to bend.  This won't be marketed for a while yet but in the mean time read all about it on Nanotechweb.

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"Researchers at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudia Arabia are continuing with their experiments to transform traditional rigid electronic wafers made from silicon into mechanically flexible and transparent ones."

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Source: Nanotechweb

Micron launches M600 SATA SSD with innovative SLC/MLC Dynamic Write Acceleration

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | September 16, 2014 - 02:29 PM |
Tagged: ssd, slc, sata, mlc, micron, M600, crucial

You may already be familiar with the Micron Crucial M550 line of SSDs (if not, familiarize yourself with our full capacity roundup here). Today Micron is pushing their tech further by releasing a new M600 line. The M600's are the first full lineup from Micron to use their 16nm flash (previously only in their MX100 line). Aside from the die shrink, Micron has addressed the glaring issue we noted in our M550 review - that issue being the sharp falloff in write speeds in lower capacities of that line. Their solution is rather innovative, to say the least.

Recall the Samsung 840 EVO's 'TurboWrite' cache, which gave that drive a burst of write speed during short sustained write periods. The 840 EVO accomplished this by each TLC die having a small SLC section of flash memory. All data written passed through this cache, and once full (a few GB, varying with drive capacity), write speed slowed to TLC levels until the host system stopped writing for long enough for the SSD to flush the cached data from SLC to TLC.

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The Micron M600 SSD in 2.5" SATA, MSATA, and M.2 form factors.

Micron flips the 'typical' concept of caching methods on its head. It does employ two different types of flash writing (SLC and MLC), but the first big difference is that the SLC is not really cache at all - not in the traditional sense, at least. The M600 controller, coupled with some changes made to Micron's 16nm flash, is able to dynamically change the mode of each flash memory die *on the fly*. For example, the M600 can place most of the individual 16GB (MLC) dies into SLC mode when the SSD is empty. This halves the capacity of each die, but with the added benefit of much faster and more power efficient writes. This means the M600 would really perform more like an SLC-only SSD so long as it was kept less than half full.

M600-1.png

As you fill the SSD towards (and beyond) half capacity, the controller incrementally clears the SLC-written data, moving that data onto dies configured to MLC mode. Once empty, the SLC die is switched over to MLC mode, effectively clearing more flash area for the increasing amount of user data to be stored on the SSD. This process repeats over time as the drive is filled, meaning you will see less SLC area available for accelerated writing (see chart above). Writing to the SLC area is also advantageous in mobile devices, as those writes not only occur more quickly, they consume less power in the process:

M600-2.png

For those worst case / power user scenarios, here is a graph of what a sustained sequential write to the entire drive area would look like:

M600-3.png

Realize this is not typical usage, but if it happened, you would see SLC speeds for the first ~45% of the drive, followed by MLC speeds for another 10%. After the 65% point, the drive is forced to initiate the process of clearing SLC and flipping dies over to MLC, doing so while the host write is still in progress, and therefore resulting in the relatively slow write speed (~50 MB/sec) seen above. Realize that in normal use (i.e. not filling the entire drive at full speed in one go), garbage collection would be able to rearrange data in the background during idle time, meaning write speeds should be near full SLC speed for the majority of the time. Even with the SSD nearly full, there should be at least a few GB of SLC-mode flash available for short bursts of SLC speed writes.

This caching has enabled some increased specs over the prior generation models:

M600-4.png

M600-5.png

Note the differences in write speeds, particularly in the lower capacity models. The 128GB M550 was limited to 190MB/sec, while the M600 can write at 400MB/sec in SLC mode (which is where it should sit most of the time).

We'll be testing the M600 shortly and will come back with a full evaluation of the SSD as a whole and more specifically how it handles this new tech under real usage scenarios.

Full press blast after the break.

Source: Micron

Raptr's Top PC Games of August 2014

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2014 - 02:11 PM |
Tagged: wow, smite, raptr, pc gaming, lol, DOTA 2, Counter-Strike

The PC gaming utility, Raptr, keeps track of per-game play time across each of their of their tracked titles. Because it is not locked to Valve, Blizzard, Riot Games, Mojang, and so forth, it compares games that are from different publishers and distribution platforms as long as the software is running. Around once each month, the company shares their findings and gives brief explanations for notable results. Again, these are not sales or download figures. This ranking is decided by the number of hours played.

raptr-most-august-2014.png

Note: Diablo III is erroneously listed as losing a rank.
In July, Minecraft was #5 and Diablo III was #6

First, League of Legends continued its reign as most played PC game; in fact, it widened its lead to over one-fifth of all recorded game time (20.55%). This increase was mostly attributed to the game's 4.15 update. Second place, with a significantly less 7.62%, is World of Warcraft. Raptr believes it passed DOTA 2 for two reasons: WoW gained players from their Mists of Pandaria 50%-off promotion and DOTA 2 deflated a little bit after the swell from The International tournament.

Counter-Strike: GO held steady in fourth place and Smith Smite (Update 09/17/2014: Corrected typo), a free-to-play MOBA from Hi-Rez Studios, jumped five places to fifth place.

Source: Raptr

IDF 2014 Storage Roundup - RAM and NVMe and IOPS! Oh my!

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | September 16, 2014 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: ram, NVMe, IOPS, idf 2014, idf, ddr4, DDR

The Intel Developer Forum was last week, and there were many things to be seen for sure. Mixed in with all of the wearable and miniature technology news, there was a sprinkling of storage goodness. Kicking off the show, we saw new cold storage announcements from both HGST and Western Digital, but that was about it for HDD news, as the growing trend these days is with solid state storage technologies. I'll start with RAM:

First up was ADATA, who were showing off 64GB DDR3 (!) DIMMs:

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Next up were various manufacturers pushing DDR4 technology quite far. First was SK Hynix's TSV 128GB DIMMs (covered in much greater depth last week):

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Next up is Kingston, who were showing a server chassis equipped with 256GB of DDR4:

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If you look closer at the stats, you'll note there is more RAM in this system than flash:

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Next up is IDT, who were showing off their LRDIMM technology:

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This technology adds special data buffers to the DIMM modules, enabling significantly higher amounts of installed RAM into a single system, with a 1-2 step de-rating of clock speeds as you take capacities to the far extremes. The above server has 768GB of DDR4 installed and running!:

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Moving onto flash memory type stuff, Scott covered Intel's new 40 Gbit Ethernet technology last week. At IDF, Intel had a demo showing off some of the potential of these new faster links:

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This demo used a custom network stack that allowed a P3700 in a local system to be matched in IOPS by an identical P3700 *being accessed over the network*. Both local and networked storage turned in the same 450k IOPS, with the remote link adding only 8ms of latency. Here's a close-up of one of the SFF-8639 (2.5" PCIe 3.0 x4) SSDs and the 40 Gbit network card above it (low speed fans were installed in these demo systems to keep some air flowing across the cards):

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Stepping up the IOPS a bit further, Microsoft was showing off the capabilities of their 'Inbox AHCI driver', shown here driving a pair of P3700's at a total of 1.5 million IOPS:

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...for those who want to get their hands on this 'Inbox driver', guess what? You already have it! "Inbox" is Microsoft's way of saying the driver is 'in the box', meaning it comes with Windows 8. Bear in bind you may get better performance with manufacturer specific drivers, but it's still a decent showing for a default driver.

Now for even more IOPS:

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Yes, you are reading that correctly. That screen is showing a system running over 11 million IOPS. Think it's RAM? Wrong. This is flash memory pulling those numbers. Remember the 2.5" P3700 from a few pics back? How about 24 of them:

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The above photo shows three 2U systems (bottom), which are all connected to a single 2U flash memory chassis (top). The top chassis supports three submodules, each with eight SFF-8639 SSDs. The system, assembled by Newisys, demonstrates just how much high speed flash you can fit within an 8U space. The main reason for connecting three systems to one flash chassis is because it takes those three systems to process the full IOPS capability of 24 low latency NVMe SSDs (that's 96 total lanes of PCIe 3.0!)!

So there you have it, IDF storage tech in a nutshell. More to come as we follow these emerging technologies to their maturity.

More NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Leaked Details

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 15, 2014 - 08:02 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, GTX 980

Details and photographs of the GeForce GTX 980 are leaking on various forums and websites. Based on the Maxwell architecture, it is supposed to be faster and more efficient than Kepler while being manufactured on an identical, 28nm fab process. While we were uncertain before, it now looks like the GTX 980 will be its formal name, as seen in leaked photographs, below.

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Image Credit: Videocardz

As expected, the cooler is a continuation of NVIDIA's reference cooler, as seen on recent high-end graphics cards (such as the GeForce Titan). Again, this is not a surprise. The interesting part is that it is rated for about 250W whereas Maxwell is rumored to draw 180W. While the reference card has two six-pin PCIe power connectors, I am curious to see if the excess cooling will lead to interesting overclocks. That is not even mentioning what the AIB partners can do.

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Image Credit: Videocardz

Beyond its over-engineering for Maxwell's TDP, it also includes a back plate.

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Image Credit: Chip Hell via Videocards

Its display connectors have been hotly anticipated. As you can see above, the GTX 980 has five outputs: three DisplayPort, one HDMI, and one DVI. Which version of HDMI? Which version of DisplayPort? No clue at the moment. There has been some speculation regarding HDMI 2.0, and the DisplayPort 1.3 standard was just released to the public today, but I would be pleasantly surprised if even one of these made it in.

Check out Videocardz for a little bit more.

Source: Videocardz