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Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 17, 2014 - 04:54 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: battlefield, medal of honor, ea
Last year, we got Battlefield 4. The year before? Medal of Honor: Warfighter. The year before? Battlefield 3. The year before? Medal of Honor (Reboot). We will not be getting a new Medal of Honor this year, because Danger Close was shut down in June 2013. Danger Close developed the two recent Medal of Honor titles and, as EA Los Angeles, many of the previous Medal of Honor titles and many RTS games (Command and Conquer, Red Alert, Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth).
Many of their employees are now working at DICE LA.
So, when a new Medal of Honor title should be released, we get Battlefield: Hardline. A person with decent pattern recognition might believe that Battlefield, or its spinoffs, would fill the gap left by Medal of Honor. Not so, according to Patrick Söderlund, Executive VP of EA Studios. As was the case at E3, where both studios (DICE and Visceral) repetitively claimed that Battlefield: Hardline was the product (literally) of a fluke encounter and pent-up excitement for cops and robbers.
Of course, they do not close the door for annualized Battlefield releases, either. They just say that it is not their plan to have that be "the way it's going to be forever and ever". Honestly, for all the hatred that annualized releases get, the problem is not the frequency. If EA can bring out a Battlefield title every year, and one that is continually a good game, then power to them. The problem is that, with an annual release cycle, it is hard to get success-after-success, especially when fatigue is an opposing, and (more importantly) ever-increasing force.
It is the hard, but lucrative road.
Subject: General Tech | June 17, 2014 - 04:26 PM | Scott Michaud
TF2, the free-to-play dress-up game with a remarkably deep combat mechanic, is less than an hour away from announcing something. It, currently, is a countdown timer above a mock TV test pattern above an old-timey military control panel. That is all we know at the moment. We'll update when we find out what is going to happen. Personally, I expect that we will see a video and likely details about a large update.
Apparently it is called "Love & War". It is a 15 minute video with an actual plotline. It seems to align with an update for between-team actions, like conga lines and square dancing. Also, there are few interesting achievements for doing those actions.
The real highlight has to be the video though. I've embedded it above. Take a quarter of an hour out of your time. It seems pretty hilarious.
Subject: Storage | June 17, 2014 - 03:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: plextor, Plextor M6e, M.2, PCIe SSD
The Plextor M6e M.2 SSD Series comes in 128, 256 and 512GB models and for those lacking a M.2 slot you can opt for the model below which ships with a PCIe 2.0 adapter for an additional $60. One caveat that Legit Reviews offers immediately is that for many models of motherboards you must manually enable the M.2 slot in the UEFI, otherwise your drive may not be detected. Once enabled properly and benchmarked the performance was found to be in line with the advertised speeds of 770MB/s sequential read and 580MB/s sequential write speeds for the 256GB version. It would seem that the SATA 6Gbs limitation can indeed be overcome but of course that was not enough for the crew at Legit Reviews, they picked up a second M6e and RAIDed them to reach 1408MB/s read and 1098MB/s write!
"Are you wanting to get beyond 550MB/s without having to do a RAID setup? Are you willing to try a new interface? Meet the Plextor M6e Series of PCI Express SSDs! Plextor is leading the charge for native PCIe SSDs and has come up with the first readily-available M.2 PCIe SSD on the consumer market. Other drives like the Samsung XP941 series have been around much longer, but they are OEM only and aren’t really meant for end users. Plextor has stepped up to the plate with a drive that had end user firmware updates, an impressive 5-year warranty and mouth watering speeds."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Crucial MX100 256GB SSD @ Custom PC Review
- Kingston SSDNow E100 200GB Solid-State Drive Review @ NikKTech
- SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD Review - Wicked Speed & 10 Year Warranty @ The SSD Review
- Crucial MX100 512GB @ eTeknix
- KingFast F8 240GB SSD Review @ Madshrimps
- Crucial MX100 @ The SSD Review
- Crucial M550 @ X-bit Reviews
- Samsung 840 Pro @ Benchmark Reviews
- Seagate Surveillance 3TB SATA III HDD Review @ NikKTech
- Thecus N2560 Network Attached Storage (NAS) Review @HiTech Legion
- The eTeknix Guide To Building Your Own NAS System For Under $220
- SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-II Memory Card @ The SSD Review
- ADATA Premier Pro SDXC UHS-1 U3 Card @ The SSD Review
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | June 17, 2014 - 03:39 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nzxt, razer, cases, steel
There does not seem to be much difference between the newly announced Special Edition H440, "Designed by Razer", and the original. The announcement claims: a custom paint design, LED lighting, a tinted window, and more. The design includes four fans (3x 120mm and 1x 140mm) and supports water cooling radiators up to 360mm.
By the specifications, nothing is different, functionally. That said, when you are dealing with a company who will budget out hundreds of thousands of dollars in research and development for a USB port color, it is entirely possible that a few screws might have moved slightly, and so forth. Then again, the images on the product pages seem fairly identical. Speaking of Razer's expensive USB ports, it looks like the USB 3.0 ports are that shade of green. Call it, "Extending their return on investment"?
Annnnd of course, no pricing or availability. That is, apart from: "Coming Soon".
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 17, 2014 - 12:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB, DirectCU II, silent, factory overclocked
The new ASUS STRIX series, which currently has only one member, is a custom built card designed for silent operation by not spinning up the fans until the GPU hits 65C. They've also doubled the RAM for the first model, the GTX 780 OC 6GB which should help with 4k gaming as well as putting a 52MHz overclock on the GPU out of the box. [H]ard|OCP had a chance to try out this new card and test it against the R9 290X and a standard GTX 780. Considering the price premium of $100 on this card it needs to do significantly better than the base GTX 780 and in line with the R9 290X which indeed it does do out of the box.
Of course the first thing you do with a silent card is attempt to overclock it until it screams which of course [H] did and managed to get GPU up to 1.215GHz on air which offered noticeable improvements. Stay tuned for 4k and SLI results in the near future.
"We take the new ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card and push it to its limits while overclocking. We will compare performance overclocked with a GeForce GTX 780 Ti, AMD Radeon R9 290X and find out what gameplay improvements overclocking allows. This card isn't just silent, its got overclocking prowess too."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- ASUS GTX 780 Ti Matrix Platinum Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Inno3D GeForce GTX 780 Ti iChill DHS 3072MB @ Kitguru
- 35-Way NVIDIA/AMD Proprietary Linux Graphics Driver Comparison @ Phoronix
- Let’s Do Some Math: AMD Radeon R9 295X2 2x4GB @ X-bit Labs
- HIS R9 290X iPower IceQ X² Turbo & R9 290 iPower IceQ X² OC @ Legion Hardware
- MSI R9 280 Gaming v PNY GTX760 XLR8 @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | June 17, 2014 - 10:59 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: kingston, pny, ssdnow v300, optima
There is a wee bit of outrage in the community over the internals of Kingston's SSDNow V300 and PNY's Optima SSDs. In both cases the internals being sold at the moment do not match the internals that were originally benchmarked and people are outraged that the same product with a different model number has changed internals. The two drives are marketed towards value conscious purchasers and represent two different cases of modifications; Kingston with a flash change and PNY with a controller change.
The complaints against PNY are a little odd, it would seem that the 4-channel SMI 2246en controller was swapped for an 8-channel LSI SandForce SF-2281 with no price change and the only way you can be upset by that is because of a ridiculous level of brand loyalty. On the other hand Kingston has switched from Synchronous to Asynchronous NAND flash memory which does have a noticeable impact on performance and the stamina of the flash and also happens to be less expensive to manufacture. If Kingston had left the price as it was originally and specified the use of Synchronous Flash in the V300 series then you would have a good argument that they had intentionally mislead customers. The reality is that the type of flash was not specified and the price of a 120GB SSDNow V300 has halved since its release which makes this more of a slightly shady product refresh. It is not the best way to update your product line but considering the specifics of this particular case it really does not show intent to deceive.
If you really want something to be upset about then consider the example provided by The SSD Review; ASUS's swapping out of the SSD in their ZenBook with utterly no warning or price change. Now that is Bait and Switch!
"It seems that the world of technology has stopped with allegations that some SSD companies are pulling the old ‘bait and switch’ routine in their SSDs by switching off components that many had recognized through initial SSD reviews. We have read several reports and forums, most of which simply repeat the original information, and finally have decided to clarify things just a bit from our perspective. Get ready though as many may not like our viewpoint; it goes against the grain somewhat."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Micron, SK Hynix interested in investing in Taiwan SSD controller IC designers, say Taiwan makers @ DigiTimes
- Hey, VMware. You've got competition – from a Belgian upstart @ The Register
- Microsoft unveils developer channel for Internet Explorer @ The Inquirer
- In-app purchases are killing the gaming industry, says Mikko Hypponen @ The Inquirer
- How to Anonymize Everything You Do Online @ Wired
- Google's About to Ruin YouTube by Squeezing Indie Labels @ Gizmodo
Subject: Editorial, Storage | June 17, 2014 - 06:56 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: sandisk, fusion-io, buyout
Fusion-io was once a behemoth of flash memory storage. Back when SSDs were having a hard time saturating SATA 3Gb/sec, Fusion-io was making fire breathing PCIe SSDs full of SLC flash and pushing relatively insane IOPS and throughput figures. Their innovations were a good formula at the time. They made the controller a very simple device, basically just a simple bridge from the PCIe bus to the flash memory. This meant that most of the actual work was done in the driver. This meant that Fusion-io SSDs were able to leverage the CPU and memory of the host system to achieve very high performance.
Fusion-io ioDrive 160 creams the competition back in 2010.
Being the king of IOPS back in the early days of flash memory storage, Fusion-io was able to charge a premium for their products. In a 2010 review, I priced their 160GB SSD at about $40/GB. In the years since, while flash memory prices (and therefore SSD products) have steadily dropped in price while achieving higher and higher performance figures, Fusion-io products have mostly remained static in price. All of this time, the various iterations of the ioDrive continued to bank on the original model of a simple controller and the bulk of the work taking place in the driver. This actually carries a few distinct disadvantages, in that the host system has to spent a relatively large amount of CPU and memory resources towards handling the Fusion-io devices. While this enables higher performance, it leaves less resources available to actually do stuff with the data. This ends up adding to the build cost of a system, as more CPU cores and memory must be thrown at the chassis handling the storage. In more demanding cases, additional systems would need to be added to the rack space in order to handle the additional storage overhead in addition to the other required workloads. Lastly, the hefty driver means Fusion-io devices are not bootable, despite early promises to the contrary. This isn't necessarily a deal breaker for enterprise use, but it does require system builders to add an additional storage device (from a different vendor) to handle OS duties.
In 2014, the other guys are making faster stuff. Note this chart is 4x the scale of the 2010 chart.
Lets fast forward to present times. Just over a week ago, Fusion-io announced their new 'Atomic' line of SSDs. The announcement seemed to fall flat, and did little to save the continuous decline of their stock price. I suspect this was because despite new leadership, these new products are just another iteration of the same resource consuming formula. Another reason for the luke warm reception might have been the fact that Intel launched their P3700 series a few days prior. The P3700 is a native PCIe SSD that employs the new NVM Express communication standard. This open standard was developed specifically for flash memory communication, and it allows more direct access to flash in a manner that significantly reduces the overhead required to perform high data throughputs and very high IO's per second. NVMe is a very small driver stack with native support built into modern operating systems, and is basically the polar opposite of the model Fusion-io has relied on for years now.
Intel's use of NVMe enables very efficient access to flash memory with minimal CPU overhead.
Fusion-io's announcement claimed "The Atomic Series of ioMemory delivers the highest transaction rate per gigabyte for everything from read intensive workflows to mixed workloads.". Let's see how this stacks up against the Intel P3700 - an SSD that launched the same week:
|Model||Fusion-io PX600||Intel P3700|
|Interface / Flash type||PCIe 2.0 x8 / 20nm MLC||PCIe 3.0 x4 / 20nm MLC|
|Read BW (GB/sec)||2.7||2.7||2.7||2.7||2.7||2.8||2.8||2.8|
|Write BW (GB/sec)||1.5||1.7||2.2||2.1||1.2||1.9||1.9||1.9|
|4k random read IOPS||196,000||235,000||330,000||276,000||450,000||460,000||450,000||450,000|
|4k random write IOPS||320,000||370,000||375,000||375,000||75,000||90,000||150,000||175,000|
|4k 70/30 R/W IOPS||Unlisted||150,000||200,000||240,000||250,000|
|Endurance / TB||12.0||12.3||12.3||12.3||18.3||18.3||18.3||18.3|
|Warranty||5 years||5 years|
We are comparing flagship to flagship (in a given form factor) here. Starting from the top, the Intel P3700 is available in generally smaller capacities than the Fusion-io PX600. Both use 20nm flash, but the P3700 uses half the data lanes at twice the throughput. Regarding Fusion-io's 'transaction rate per GB' point, well, it's mostly debunked by the Intel P3700, which has excellent random read performance all the way down to its smallest 400GB capacity point. The seemingly unreal write specs seen from the PX600 are, well, actually unreal. Flash memory writes take longer than reads, so the only logical explanation for the inversion we see here is that Fusion-io's driver is passing those random writes through RAM first. Writing to RAM might be quicker, but you can't sustain it indefinitely, and it consumes more host system resources in the process. Moving further down the chart, we see Intel coming in with a ~50% higher endurance rating when compared to the Fusion-io. The warranties may be of equal duration, but the Intel drive is (on paper / stated warranty) guaranteed to outlast the Fusion-io part when used in a heavy write environment.
For pricing, Intel launched the P3700 at a competitive $3/GB. Pricing data for Fusion-io is not available, as they are behind a bit of a 'quote wall', and no pricing at all was included with the Atomic product launch press materials. Let's take a conservative guess and assume the new line is half the cost/GB of their previous long-standing flagship, the Octal. One vendor lists pricing directly at $124,995 for 10.24TB ($12.21/GB) and $99,995 for 5.12TB ($19.53/GB), both of which require minumum support contracts as an additional cost. Half of $12/GB is still more than twice the $3/GB figure from Intel.
My theory as to why SanDisk is going for Fusion-io?
- A poor track record since the Fusion-io IPO have driven the stock price way down, making it prime for a buyout.
- SanDisk is one of the few remaining flash memory companies that does not own their own high end controller tech.
- Recent Fusion-io product launch overshadowed by much larger (Intel) company launching a competing superior product at a lower cost/GB.
So yeah, the buyout seemed inevitable. The question that remains is what will SanDisk do with them once they've bought them? Merging the two will mean that Fusion-io can include 'in house' flash and (hopefully) offer their products at a lower cost/GB, but that can only succeed if the SanDisk flash performs adequately. Assuming it does, there's still the issue of relatively high costs when compared to freshly competing products from Intel and others. Last but not least is the ioDrive driver model, which grows incresingly dated while the rest of the industry adopts NVMe.
Subject: General Tech, Storage | June 16, 2014 - 10:38 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ssd, Samsung 840, Samsung, kingston hyper x, kingston, endurance, corsair neutron gtx, corsair
In The Tech Report's ongoing SSD endurance challenge, three SSDs are soldiering forward. We have reached the thousand-terabyte mark, which is at least five times more than any of the survivors are rated for. These survivors: The Corsair Neutron GTX, the Samsung 840 Pro, and the Kingston HyperX 3K. Technically, the HyperX was able to reach 1PB of written data with performing only 716TB of actual writes, due to compression.
Image Credit: The Tech Report
Of course, each of the drives are less-than prestine. The Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB was slowly decreasing in its "life" attribute since the beginning, claiming to be somewhere between 75% and 80% with a fairly linear decline. If this trend continues, the drive will reach "zero" at around 4-5PB of writes. That said, its read speed has substantially dropped from the time between 900TB and 1000TB of total writes, from 500MB/s to just under 400MB/s. Also, this "life" could drop substantially if the drive encounters reallocated sectors (which this model has apparently yet to do).
The other two drives are a similar, remarkably successful story.
The Kingston HyperX drive is reporting itself to be substantially worse off, within the last 10% of its life. That said, even though it claims to be pining for the fjords, it is still working and has only reported a couple of reallocated sectors, those occurring in the last 100TB of writes.
The Samsung 840 Pro seems to still be going strong, although it had more zero or "a couple" of reallocated sectors -- every hundred terabytes yields about 500 reallocations.
As always, this is just our brief discussion of what The Tech Report found out. Be sure to check out their full article for many more benchmarks, tests, and conclusions.
Subject: General Tech | June 16, 2014 - 01:18 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: input, evga, gaming mouse, TORQ X10
We first saw the EVGA TORQ X10 at CES and recently one arrived at Scott's doorstep so we will have a full review in the near future. If you can't wait to see what this mouse is capable of you can check this review at Hardware Canucks even if you cannot buy the mouse until towards the end of this month. Not only can you adjust the weight of this mouse, the hand rests can be raised and lowered to ensure it fits perfectly in your palm. If you are wondering why this model is more expensive, it is because it has a carbon fibre shell as opposed to ordinary plastic.
"The TORQ X10 may be EVGA's first gaming mouse but its design, feature set and excellent build quality competes with some of the best peripherals available today."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Coolermaster Devastator Mouse & Keyboard @ eTeknix
- Corsair Raptor M45 @ eTeknix
- CM Storm QuickFire Rapid-i Keyboard Review @ Modders-Inc
- iRocks Rock Series K10 Gaming Keyboard @ eTeknix
- GAMDIAS HERMES GKB2010 Black Mechanical Gaming Keyboard @ Benchmark Reviews
- Corsair Raptor K40 gaming keyboard @ Kitguru
- Genius Imperator Pro Illuminated Keyboard Review @ Modders-Inc
Subject: General Tech | June 16, 2014 - 12:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: 3d printing, Printeer
Kids these days get all the cool toys, not just G.I. Joe's with missiles that actually fire and portable gaming devices capable of more colours than light and dark green. Mission Street Manufacturing's Printeer is a way to get kids interested in 3D printing and creating their own masterpieces, though at an estimated $550 it will likely be limited to schools and clubs as opposed to having their own printer. The interface is a drawing program on an iPad, something that will be quite familiar to most children but now they will have the opportunity to print out their creations. The printer is transparent as you can see from the picture at Engadget which allows these young makers to watch their creation made right in front of their eyes, a great way to get them excited about making things and a lot more fun than ShrinkyDinks!
"If Mission Street Manufacturing's Printeer hits its crowdfunding goal, though, children will have a 3D printer they can truly call their own. All you need to create a plastic masterpiece with Printeer is an iPad and a basic ability to draw. There's no scary-looking CAD programs or other intermediary tools."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Bitcoin Security Endangered By Powerful Mining Pool @ Slashdot
- NCA warns 'thousands' still at risk from Gameover Zeus and Cryptolocker malware @ The Inquirer
- Yet another reason to skip commercials: Microsoft ad TURNS ON your Xbox One @ The Register
Subject: General Tech, Storage, Mobile | June 15, 2014 - 10:54 PM | Scott Michaud
CFast is a standard, based on the merging of CompactFlash with SATA, for memory cards to have SSD-like performance. It has been around for a while, CFast 2.0 having been released in Q4 2012, but with very limited adoption. You could count the number of camera models which use it on a single hand. Still, ADATA is entering that market with a lineup of memory cards, with quite a bit of variety.
The ADATA ISC3E will come in SLC (one stored bit per memory cell) and MLC (two stored bits per memory cell) models. Capacities will range from 4GB to 64GB (SLC) or 4GB to 128GB (MLC). Speeds are fairly low, compared to modern SSDs. SLC is rated at 165 MB/s read and 170 MB/s write, while MLC can read at 435 MB/s and write at 120 MB/s. They support ECC and S.M.A.R.T.
Of course, this is kind-of interesting in terms of its small, removable form factor. Beyond that, it seems to be a few years back in terms of SSD technology. For the high resolution (or high frame rate) camera use case, read and write speeds really do not matter, except when you transfer your media off of your device (which the MLC version is clearly better suited for). Otherwise, as long as your write speed is consistently above what the camera can output, going bigger will be wasted overhead. ADATA suggests using these CFast 2.0 cards in POS terminals and kiosks but, at that point, would you really need small and removable memory?
ADATA has not released pricing and availability.
Subject: General Tech | June 14, 2014 - 11:19 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: thief, steam sale, steam, splinter cell blacklist
Update: Uh, apparently GOG's DRM-Free Summer Sale (note: everything on GOG is DRM-Free) has not yet ended. Those deals are definitely worth your time to check out.
While I missed writing about GOG's Summer Sale (okay, at the time of this publishing, theres a few hours left), I can at least alert our readers about these two deals. Splinter Cell: Blacklist, released late last summer, is almost two-thirds off at $10.19 USD (normally $29.99). Also on sale is Thief, released in late February, for about half price at $14.99 USD (normally $29.99). If you purchased these games and wanted a little more content to them, each title's downloadable content is on sale for an equivalent markdown.
While not as unforgiving as Splinter Cell: Conviction, a UPLAY account is required to activate Blacklist. You do not, however, need to be continuously logged in to it in order to play its single player mode. I believe that Thief, on the other hand, just uses Steam for its DRM.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 14, 2014 - 10:51 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: x86, SteamOS, Steam Machine, Steam Controller, steam, mobile, handheld, E3 14, E3
To be doubly clear, if the title was not explicit enough, this announcement is not made by Valve. This company is called, "SteamBoy Machine team". If not a hoax, this is one of the many Steam Machines which are expected to come out of the SteamOS initiative. Rather than taking the platform to a desktop or home theater PC (HTPC) form-factor, this company wants to target the handheld PC gaming market.
If it comes out, that is a clever use of SteamOS. I can see Big Picture Mode being just as useful on a small screen as it is on a TV, especially with its large font and controller navigation. The teasers suggest that it will use the haptic feedback-based touchpads which Valve are expected to base the Steam Controller on. It will also include a 5-inch touchscreen.
The Escapist got into contact with the team and received a few more specs:
- Quad-Core CPU (x86)
- 4GB RAM
- 32GB built-in storage
Even if this company does not make good on their expectations, companies will now be considering portable SteamOS devices. This is the sort of outside-the-box thinking that Valve was pushing for when they wanted to create an open platform. Each party will struggle to win in their personal goals, yet they can also rely on the crowd (other companies or individuals) to keep up in areas where they do not want an edge.
Philosophy aside, the company is targeting 2015 with a "Standard Edition" supporting WiFi and 3G. It would make sense to have a WiFi-only model, but who knows.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 13, 2014 - 08:31 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: enclosure, computex 2014, computex, cases, bitfenix pandora, bitfenix atlas, bitfenix aegis, bitfenix
Yes, Computex is over - and in its wake we’re still left with a ton of new product announcements. Three of these come from BitFenix, who unveiled new enclosures at their booth in Taipei last week.
The first is the BitFenix Atlas, which has incorporated some interesting design features including what they are calling “swappable chambers” and a “test-mode motherboard tray”. (Could this be an open test-bench feature?)
The design is very interesting (a bit along the lines of the Corsair Carbide Air 540), and the extra width allows for no less than ten 3.5” hard drive bays behind the motherboard tray! The Atlas also has six 2.5” bays for SSDs, and features a full array of dust filters and nifty RGB lighting.
Next we’ll look at the Aegis, a sleek minitower enclosure.
The Aegis supports micro-ATX and mini-ITX motherboards and features water cooling support and a built in fan controller. In addition to 240/280mm radiator support on the top, the Aegis also boasts 360mm radiator support up front.
Finally we have the Pandora, which in addition to streaming music (as I’ve been informed) is also apparently a PC case that looks like part of a stormtrooper’s armor.
Besides protecting imperial troops from rebel attacks, the Pandora offers a stylish take on a mini-ITX tower design and offers support for full-size ATX power supplies and (presumably) liquid cooling via two pairs of 120mm fan mounts.
No specifics on pricing or availability from BitFenix on these three new enclosures just yet, but expect them this year as they are part of the 2014 BitFenix catalog.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Chipsets | June 13, 2014 - 03:45 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: x86, restructure, gpu, arm, APU, amd
According to VR-Zone, AMD has reworked their business, last Thursday, sorting each of their projects into two divisions and moving some executives around. The company is now segmented into the "Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom Business Group", and the "Computing and Graphics Business Group". The company used to be divided between "Computing Solutions", which handled CPUs, APUs, chipsets, and so forth, "Graphics and Visual Solutions", which is best known for GPUs but also contains console royalties, and "All Other", which was... everything else.
Lisa Su, former general manger of global business, has moved up to Chief Operating Officer (COO), along with other changes.
This restructure makes sense for a couple of reasons. First, it pairs some unprofitable ventures with other, highly profitable ones. AMD's graphics division has been steadily adding profitability to the company while its CPU division has been mostly losing money. Secondly, "All Other" is about a nebulous as a name can get. Instead of having three unbalanced divisions, one of which makes no sense to someone glancing at AMD's quarterly earnings reports, they should now have two, roughly equal segments.
At the very least, it should look better to an uninformed investor. Someone who does not know the company might look at the sheet and assume that, if AMD divested from everything except graphics, that the company would be profitable. If, you know, they did not know that console contracts came into their graphics division because their compute division had x86 APUs, and so forth. This setup is now more aligned to customers, not products.
Subject: Mobile | June 13, 2014 - 12:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: thermaltake, Massive TM, laptop cooler
The Thermaltake Massive TM is more than just a laptop cooler with a pair of 120mm fans to keep your temperatures in line, it can also track the temperature of your laptop as well. The cooler is USB powered but does offer USB pass through so you do not end up down one plug when you are using the Massive TM. HiTech Legion's testing showed an average drop in temperature of around 4C, if that is worth $40 to you then pick one up.
"The Thermaltake Massive TM is a 17” laptop and notebook cooler that comes with a little extra. The Massive TM by Thermaltake uses 4 temperature sensors that can each be repositioned to track temps on different parts of your laptop."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Fujitsu Lifebook T904 @ The Inquirer
- Nokia Lumia 630 @ The Inquirer
- iOCEAN X8 octa-core Smartphone Review @ Madshrimps
- Moto E @ The Inquirer
- LG G3 @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2014 - 10:46 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: OpenVR, oculus rift, DIY
Owning an Oculus Rift is enough to make your gamer friends turn green with envy but what if it was an open sauce Rift you built yourself? The specs for this build specifies
two one 5.6″ 1280×800 LCDs which will give you resolution on par with the Facebook owned version and the casing is 3D printed which offers you a chance to personalize your own model. The steps for setting up the hardware are available by following the link from Hack a Day as well as a link to the source code on GitHub. The price is right and you not only get a working VR headset you get the credit for building it as well!
"The Oculus Rift is a really cool piece of kit, but with its future held in the grasp of Facebook, who knows what it’ll become now. So why not just build your own? When the Oculus first came out [Ahmet] was instantly intrigued — he began researching virtual reality and the experience offered by the Oculus — but curiosity alone wasn’t enough for the $300 price tag."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- How to Rescue a Non-booting GRUB 2 on Linux @ Linux.com
- Firefox 31 beta brings Firefox OS apps to Android @ The Inquirer
- AMD announces new business and personnel alignments @ DigiTimes
- Intel prepared for emerging industries, says company president Renee Jame @ DigiTimes
- Kids hack Canadian ATM during LUNCH HOUR @ The Register
- Intel prods PC market's corpse, corpse shouts 'I'M NOT DEAD!' @ The Register
- Car titans WON'T STEAL our tech, says Musk: DAMNIT, I'll GIVE IT to 'em @ The Register
Subject: Systems | June 12, 2014 - 04:13 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: zotac, SFF, htpc, Sphere OI520
Inside this unique casing you will find a Core i5 4200U, up to 16GB of DDR3 and room for an mSATA and a 2.5" drive; but not a GPU. The onboard HD4400 can output to HDMI or DisplayPort and in addition to the connections you can see below there is indeed 802.11ac and Bluetooth for wireless connectivity. The power supply is external so there is only one rather quiet fan to be found inside the ball, perfect for HTPC usage as you won't be very impressed by its ability to game. Check out Bjorn3D's full review and the reason they expect this will be available for well under $1000.
"There was a time when a computer in most cases consisted of a big beige box that you certainly did not want to show off or which took up a lot of space on your desk. Those days are gone and today we have a lot more variety both how computer looks and how big they are. Zotac is a company that for quite some time have been pumping out smaller mini-PC’s under their ZBox brand and today we are taking a look at their new round ZBox Sphere OI520."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- ECS LIVA Mini PC Kit @ techPowerUp
- CyberPower Achilles Pro System @ Kitguru
- TR's May 2014 System Guide
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 12, 2014 - 03:17 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: overclocking, nvidia, gtx titan z, geforce
Earlier this week I posted a review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Z graphics card, a dual-GPU Kepler GK110 part that currently sells for $3000. If you missed that article you should read it first and catch up but the basic summary was that, for PC gamers, it's slower and twice the price of AMD's Radeon R9 295X2.
During that article though I mentioned that the Titan Z had more variable clock speeds than any other GeForce card I had tested. At the time I didn't go any further than that since the performance of the card already pointed out the deficit it had going up against the R9 295X2. However, several readers asked me to dive into overclocking with the Titan Z and with that came the need to show clock speed changes.
My overclocking was done through EVGA's PrecisionX software and we measured clock speeds with GPU-Z. The first step in overclocking an NVIDIA GPU is to simply move up the Power Target sliders and see what happens. This tells the card that it is allowed to consume more power than it would normally be allowed to, and then thanks to GPU Boost technology, the clock speed should scale up naturally.
Click to Enlarge
And that is exactly what happened. I ran through 30 minutes of looped testing with Metro: Last Light at stock settings, with the Power Target at 112%, with the Power Target at 120% (the maximum setting) and then again with the Power Target at 120% and the GPU clock offset set to +75 MHz.
That 75 MHz offset was the highest setting we could get to run stable on the Titan Z, which brings the Base clock up to 781 MHz and the Boost clock to 951 MHz. Though, as you'll see in our frequency graphs below the card was still reaching well above that.
Click to Enlarge
This graph shows clock rates of the GK110 GPUs on the Titan Z over the course of 25 minutes of looped Metro: Last Light gaming. The green line is the stock performance of the card without any changes to the power settings or clock speeds. While it starts out well enough, hitting clock rates of around 1000 MHz, it quickly dives and by 300 seconds of gaming we are often going at or under the 800 MHz mark. That pattern is consistent throughout the entire tested time and we have an average clock speed of 894 MHz.
Next up is the blue line, generated by simply moving the power target from 100% to 112%, giving the GPUs a little more thermal headroom to play with. The results are impressive, with a much more consistent clock speed. The yellow line, for the power target at 120%, is even better with a tighter band of clock rates and with a higher average clock.
Finally, the red line represents the 120% power target with a +75 MHz offset in PrecisionX. There we see a clock speed consistency matching the yellow line but offset up a bit, as we have been taught to expect with NVIDIA's recent GPUs.
Click to Enlarge
The result of all this data comes together in the bar graph here that lists the average clock rates over the entire 25 minute test runs. At stock settings, the Titan Z was able to hit 894 MHz, just over the "typical" boost clock advertised by NVIDIA of 876 MHz. That's good news for NVIDIA! Even though there is a lot more clock speed variance than I would like to see with the Titan Z, the clock speeds are within the expectations set by NVIDIA out the gate.
Bumping up that power target though will help out gamers that do invest in the Titan Z quite a bit. Just going to 112% results in an average clock speed of 993 MHz, a 100 MHz jump worth about 11% overall. When we push that power target up even further, and overclock the frequency offset a bit, we actually get an average clock rate of 1074 MHz, 20% faster than the stock settings. This does mean that our Titan Z is pulling more power and generating more noise (quite a bit more actually) with fan speeds going from around 2000 to 2700 RPM.
At both 2560x1440 and 3840x2160, in the Metro: Last Light benchmark we ran, the added performance of the Titan Z does put it at the same level of the Radeon R9 295X2. Of course, it goes without saying that we could also overclock the 295X2 a bit further to improve ITS performance, but this is an exercise in education.
Does it change my stance or recommendation for the Titan Z? Not really; I still think it is overpriced compared to the performance you get from AMD's offerings and from NVIDIA's own lower priced GTX cards. However, it does lead me to believe that the Titan Z could have been fixed and could have offered at least performance on par with the R9 295X2 had NVIDIA been willing to break PCIe power specs and increase noise.
UPDATE (6/13/14): Some of our readers seem to be pretty confused about things so I felt the need to post an update to the main story here. One commenter below mentioned that I was one of "many reviewers that pounded the R290X for the 'throttling issue' on reference coolers" and thinks I am going easy on NVIDIA with this story. However, there is one major difference that he seems to overlook: the NVIDIA results here are well within the rated specs.
When I published one of our stories looking at clock speed variance of the Hawaii GPU in the form of the R9 290X and R9 290, our results showed that clock speed of these cards were dropping well below the rated clock speed of 1000 MHz. Instead I saw clock speeds that reached as low as 747 MHz and stayed near the 800 MHz mark. The problem with that was in how AMD advertised and sold the cards, using only the phrase "up to 1.0 GHz" in its marketing. I recommended that AMD begin selling the cards with a rated base clock and a typical boost clock instead only labeling with the, at the time, totally incomplete "up to" rating. In fact, here is the exact quote from this story: "AMD needs to define a "base" clock and a "typical" clock that users can expect." Ta da.
The GeForce GTX Titan Z though, as we look at the results above, is rated and advertised with a base clock of 705 MHz and a boost clock of 876 MHz. The clock speed comparison graph at the top of the story shows the green line (the card at stock) never hitting that 705 MHz base clock while averaging 894 MHz. That average is ABOVE the rated boost clock of the card. So even though the GPU is changing between frequencies more often than I would like, the clock speeds are within the bounds set by NVIDIA. That was clearly NOT THE CASE when AMD launched the R9 290X and R9 290. If NVIDIA had sold the Titan Z with only the specification of "up to 1006 MHz" or something like then the same complaint would be made. But it is not.
The card isn't "throttling" at all, in fact, as someone specifies below. That term insinuates that it is going below a rated performance rating. It is acting in accordance with the GPU Boost technology that NVIDIA designed.
Some users seem concerned about temperature: the Titan Z will hit 80-83C in my testing, both stock and overclocked, and simply scales the fan speed to compensate accordingly. Yes, overclocked, the Titan Z gets quite a bit louder but I don't have sound level tests to show that. It's louder than the R9 295X2 for sure but definitely not as loud as the R9 290 in its original, reference state.
Finally, some of you seem concerned that I was restrticted by NVIDIA on what we could test and talk about on the Titan Z. Surprise, surprise, NVIDIA didn't send us this card to test at all! In fact, they were kind of miffed when I did the whole review and didn't get into showing CUDA benchmarks. So, there's that.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 12, 2014 - 12:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: bequiet!, purewings 2, shadow rock 2, air cooling
The 120mm BeQuiet PureWings 2 that comes on the Shadow Rock 2 heatsink has a unique look with ripples on all the blades and can be mounted on any side of the cooler which could be handy for those with tall DIMM heatspreaders. The heatsink weighs in just over a 1.1 kg and measures 159x122x149mm (6.25x4.8x5.8") with the fan attached which could be a tight squeeze in some systems. FrostyTech hooked it up to their testbed and found it to be a very quiet cooler, especially on the low fan setting and relatively decent performance. It is unlikely to show up on a top 10 list as it offers only reasonable performance and is quite expensive.
"In this review Frostytech is checking out the boxy BeQuiet's Shadow Rock 2 heatsink which stands 159mm tall and weighs in at 1120grams. This heatsink has a footprint of 122x122mm without a fan, 122x149mm with the supplied 1600-800rpm, 120mm PWM fan installed."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Noctua NH-D15 Review @ OCC
- Cooltek ITX30 Low-Profile CPU Cooler Review @ NikKTech
- Xigmatek Midgard III Review @ OCC
- Updated NZXT Kraken X40 Liquid Cooler Review @ Frostytech
- Zalman Reserator 3 Max Dual Ultimate Liquid CPU Cooler Review @ Legit Reviews
- Fractal Design ARC XL water cooled system build @ Hardwareoverclock
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