"Imagine the original Deus Ex combined with the film Die Hard."

Subject: General Tech | January 20, 2016 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Kickstarter, consortium

That is a hell of a tagline which will be hard to live up to as trying to live up to the fond memories of the original Deus Ex while figuring out how to make Die Hard playable is not a trivial task.  The original ($2.99 on GoG right now) had mixed reviews, some loving the way you are dumped into an immersive story with no introduction and others frustrated by a lack of tutorial.  It was certainly different than your usual game in 2014.  The second game in the developers planned trilogy is Consortium: The Tower and seems to be more focused on being a single person stealth/action game than the team based experience of the first but the trailer does seem to have some of the same flavour as the first when it comes to the story and dialogue.  You don't often see a player choose to drop his weapons and then attempt to dialogue with the bad guys, except in cut scenes of which there will be none in this game.  Check out the trailer, read what the gang at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN had to say about it and see if you think it is worth tossing in on the Kickstarter campaign.

We could have talked about FarCry Primal but Ubisoft is too busy being themselves by  taking down trailers and generally making it hard to have nice things.

"As pitches go, Consortium: The Tower has a bloody good line up its sleeve. Like its predecessor, it’s a science fiction game set in a single environment. You can talk, fight or sneak your way past or through encounters, and many events will happen even if you’re not there to see or influence them."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Just fondle your mouse to log into Windows?

Subject: General Tech | January 20, 2016 - 12:19 PM |
Tagged: fingerprint, synaptics, ironveil, security

Synaptics, the company most likely responsible for the trackpad on your laptop has released a new product, a 4x10mm fingerprint sensor which goes by the name of IronVeil.  The idea behind the product is to incorporate it into peripherals and pair it with Windows Passport to allow you to log in by touching your mouse or keyboard, similar to the current generation of cellphones.  Synaptics also suggests it could be used in eSports to ensure that the person behind the mouse is indeed who they claim to be.  The Tech Report tried out a Thermaltake Black V2 mouse with the sensor embedded and talk about their experiences with the mouse as well as introduce you to the FIDO Alliance and some of the authentication process which occurs behind the scenes in their recent article.

One cannot help but point out that while passwords can be hashed and salted, the same cannot be said for fingerprints which leads us back to previously mentioned concerns about the security of the online storage databases these prints would be stored in.  The eternal battle of convenience versus security rages on.

Synaptics-IronVeil-Specs.png

"Synaptics' IronVeil is a tiny fingerprint sensor module that serves as the foundation for a variety of new authentication techniques for home and business users alike. We've spent a couple weeks with a pre-production IronVeil mouse, and we've explored how it might be used in practice."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

TSMC Allegedly Wants 5nm by 2020

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | January 19, 2016 - 11:38 PM |
Tagged: TSMC

Digitimes is reporting on statements that were allegedly made by TSMC co-CEO, Mark Liu. We are currently seeing 16nm parts come out of the foundry, which is expected to be used in the next generation of GPUs, replacing the long-running 28nm node that launched with the GeForce GTX 680. (It's still unannounced whether AMD and NVIDIA will use 14nm FinFET from Samsung or GlobalFoundries, or 16nm FinFET from TSMC.)

Update (Jan 20th, @4pm EST): Couple minor corrections. Radeon HD 7970 launched at 28nm first by a couple of months. I just remember NVIDIA getting swamped in delays because it was a new node, so that's probably why I thought of the GTX 680. Also, AMD announced during CES that they will use GlobalFoundries to fab their upcoming GPUs, which I apparently missed. We suspect that NVIDIA will use TSMC, and have assumed that for a while, but it hasn't been officially announced yet (if ever).

tsmc.jpg

According to their projections, which (again) are filtered through Digitimes, the foundry expects to have 7nm in the first half of 2018. They also expect to introduce extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography methods with 5nm in 2020. Given that Silicon in a solid has a lattice spacing of ~0.54nm at room temperature, 7nm transistors will consist of about 13 atoms, and 5nm transistors will have features containing about 9 atoms.

We continue the march toward the end of silicon lithography.

Even if the statement is correct, much can happen between then and now. It wouldn't be the first time that I've seen a major foundry believe that a node would be available, but end up having it delayed. I wouldn't hold my breath, but I might cross my fingers if my hands were free.

At the very least, we can assume that TSMC's roadmap is 16nm, 10nm, 7nm, and then 5nm.

Source: Digitimes

Samsung Mass Produces HBM2 Memory

Subject: Graphics Cards, Memory | January 19, 2016 - 11:01 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, HBM2, hbm

Samsung has just announced that they have begun mass production of 4GB HBM2 memory modules. When used on GPUs, four packages can provide 16GB of Video RAM with very high performance. They do this with a very wide data bus, which trade off frequency for transferring huge chunks. Samsung's offering is rated at 256 GB/s per package, which is twice what the Fury X could do with HBM1.

samsung-2016-4GB-HBM2-DRAM-structure_main.jpg

They also expect to mass produce 8GB HBM2 packages within this calendar year. I'm guessing that this means we'll see 32GB GPUs in the late-2016 or early-2017 time frame unless "within this year" means very, very soon (versus Q3/Q4). They will likely be for workstation or professional cards, but, in NVIDIA's case, those are usually based on architectures that are marketed to high-end gaming enthusiasts through some Titan offering. There's a lot of ways this could go, but a 32GB Titan seems like a bit much; I wouldn't expect that this affects the enthusiast gamer segment. It might mean that professionals looking to upgrade from the Kepler-based Tesla K-series might be waiting a little longer, maybe even GTC 2017. Alternatively, they might get new cards, just with a 16GB maximum until a refresh next year. There's not enough information to know one way or the other, but it's something to think about when more of it starts rolling in.

Samsung's HBM2 are compatible with ECC, although I believe that was also true for at least some HBM1 modules from SK Hynix.

Source: Samsung

ECS LIVA Adopts Its Own M.2 Port

Subject: Systems, Storage | January 19, 2016 - 09:44 PM |
Tagged: M.2 SATA, M.2, LIVA, ECS

Back in November, Sebastian reviewed the ECS LIVA X2. While the device always had an M.2 slot, its storage options were soldered eMMC chips with capacities of their 32GB or 64GB. They were also pretty slow, with 150MB/s reads and 40MB/s writes in his testing. To exceed that, you need to install your own M.2-based SSD, which was a bit of a difficult process.

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According to Links International, via FanlessTech, we are now seeing options that include M.2 SSDs without eMMC. In this case, they are using an Intel-based, 120GB drive. Its signal is M.2 SATA though, which is slower than M.2 PCIe, but a device with this performance characteristic will probably not care about that extra bump in performance. You probably couldn't do much high-bandwidth data crunching with the Braswell processor, and just about every other way on or off of the device is limited to less than or equal to a gigabit of bandwidth. You might be able to find a use case, but it's unlikely to affect anyone interested in this PC.

The jump from eMMC, on the other hand, might.

Take a break from Z170 with the BIOSTAR A68N-5200

Subject: Motherboards | January 19, 2016 - 07:27 PM |
Tagged: Kabini, biostar, amd, A68N-5200

We don't often think of Kabini based systems lately, focusing on systems of significantly more power but it is worth remembering that the low powered AMD processor and motherboard combo still exists.  The motherboard comes with an integrated A6-5200 with HD 8400 Graphics for a grand total of $68 leaving you short only a DIMM and storage device from having a fully functional system.  You will not be playing Crysis on this system but if you pick up a low cost GPU you would certainly be able to play online games and older titles, if you wanted to go that direction.  You could instead look at building a low powered, low cost system for Internet browsing and emailing for a friend or relative for very little cost, especially if you have an old disk lying around somewhere unused to install in the system.  It can also manage decent encoding performance for its price, check out the review at MadShrimps to see more.

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"The A68N-5200 board, by incorporating one A6-5200 Kabini-based APU, is bringing to the table even more raw performance when compared to its A4-5000, while the GPU component gets a 100Mhz boost. While the increased 3D performance is minimal versus the A4, other tasks which require CPU performance will get up to 25% performance boost."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

 

Source: MadShrimps

A big beautiful curvy MVA display with some omissions, the BenQ XR3501

Subject: Displays | January 19, 2016 - 04:44 PM |
Tagged: XR3501, mva, benq, 2560x1080, 144hz

Benq made some interesting design choices on the XR3501 which some will love and some will absolutely despise.  A 35" MVA panel at 144Hz is impressive to behold and one with "2000R Ultra Curve Technology"  is even more so as it is a significantly higher curve than most other monitors.  The 2000R is actually an industry standard and denotes the radius, in millimetres, of the circle this monitor would describe which in this case is 2 metres.  Most other curved monitors are 4000-4500R, as in 4 to 4.5 metres radius. 

On the other hand, the monitor does not have adaptive sync technology and the resolution of 2560x1080 will cause some disappointment, as may the ~$1000 price tag.  You can either check out Hardware Canucks' full review here or just scroll on in disgust.

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"Massive curved gaming monitors seem to be the flavor of the day and BenQ's XR3501 may be one of the most insane. It boasts a 35" curved MVA panel with a 144Hz refresh rate."

Here are some more Display articles from around the web:

Displays

Interested in transparent flexible memory?

Subject: General Tech | January 19, 2016 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: STT-MRAM, pcram, RRAM, memristor

With the rise of new memory technologies such as HBM for volatile memory and new applications for non-volatile memory there has been a lot of research on new types of memory.  In the past we have discussed such technologies as Spin Transfer Torque Magnetic (STT-MRAM), Phase Change(PCRAM), Ferroelectric (FeRAM), and Resistive RAM known alternatively as either RRAM or Memristors which are all being developed to push performance past the limits of the current materials used in manufacturing RAM.

These advances are not the only ones being worked on, for instance two groups in Korea are working on using indium zinc oxide (IZO) alongside nanowires and other transparent conducting oxides to create flexible ReRAM devices with 80% transparency.  This is perfect for usage in flexible displays and wearable devices which would benefit from being flexible. It could even create the case modders dream, transparent SSDs Read more about their research at Nanotechweb.

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"Alternative, non-volatile memory devices are in high demand as miniaturization brings the current state-of-the art silicon-based flash systems to their scaling limit. Now researchers in Korea have used indium zinc oxide (IZO) electrodes to produce non-volatile resistive memory (ReRAM) devices that are also transparent and flexible, offering benefits for applications in displays."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Nanotechweb

Report: NVIDIA Preparing GeForce GTX 980MX and 970MX Mobile GPUs

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 19, 2016 - 10:31 AM |
Tagged: rumor, report, nvidia, GTX 980MX, GTX 980M, GTX 970MX, GTX 970M, geforce

NVIDIA is reportedly preparing faster mobile GPUs based on Maxwell, with a GTX 980MX and 970MX on the way.

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The new GTX 980MX would sit between the GTX 980M and the laptop version of the full GTX 980, with 1664 CUDA cores (compared to 1536 with the 980M), 104 Texture Units (up from the 980M's 96), a 1048 MHz core clock, and up to 8 GB of GDDR5. Memory speed and bandwidth will reportedly be identical to the GTX 980M at 5000 MHz and 160 GB/s respectively, with both GPUs using a 256-bit memory bus.

The GTX 970MX represents a similar upgrade over the existing GTX 970M, with CUDA Core count increased from 1280 to 1408, Texture Units up from 80 to 88, and 8 additional raster devices available (56 vs. 48). Both the 970M and 970MX use 192-bit GDDR5 clocked at 5000 MHz, and available with the same 3 GB or 6 GB of frame buffer.

WCCFtech prepared a chart to demonstrate the differences between NVIDIA's mobile offerings:

Model GeForce GTX 980 Laptop Version GeForce GTX 980MX

GeForce GTX 980M

GeForce GTX 970MX GeForce GTX 970M GeForce GTX 965M

GeForce GTX 960M

Architecture

Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell
GPU GM204 GM204 GM204 GM204 GM204 GM204 GM107
CUDA Cores 2048 1664 1536 1408 1280 1024 640
Texture Units 128 104 96 88 80 64 40
Raster Devices 64 64 64 56 48 32 16
Clock Speed 1218 MHz 1048 MHz 1038 MHz 941 MHz 924 MHz 950 MHz 1097 MHz
Memory Bus 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 192-bit 192-bit 128-bit 128-bit
Frame Buffer 8 GB GDDR5 8/4 GB GDDR5 8/4 GB GDDR5 6/3 GB GDDR5 6/3 GB GDDR5 4 GB GDDR5 4 GB GDDR5
Memory Frequency 7008 MHz 5000 MHz 5000 MHz 5000 MHz 5000 MHz 5000 MHz 5000 MHz
Memory Bandwidth 224 GB/s 160 GB/s 160 GB/s 120 GB/s 120 GB/s 80 GB/s 80 GB/s
TDP ~150W 125W 125W 100W 100W 90W 75W

These new GPUs will reportedly be based on the same Maxwell GM204 core, and TDPs are apparently unchanged at 125W for the GTX 980MX, and 100W for the 970MX.

We will await any official announcement.

Source: WCCFtech

AMD High-End Polaris Expected for 2016

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 18, 2016 - 09:44 PM |
Tagged: Polaris, amd

When AMD announced their Polaris architecture at CES, it was focused on mid-range applications. Their example was an add-in board that could compete against an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950, 1080p60 medium settings in Battlefront, but do so at 39% less wattage than this 28nm, Maxwell chip. These Polaris chips are planned for a “mid 2016” launch.

amd-2016-polaris-blocks.jpg

Raja Koduri, Chief Architect for the Radeon Technologies Group, spoke with VentureBeat at the show. In his conversation, he mentioned two architectures, Polaris 10 and Polaris 11, in the context of a question about their 2016 product generation. In the “high level” space, they are seeing “the most revolutionary jump in performance so far.” This doesn't explicitly state that the high-end Polaris video card will launch in 2016. That said, when combined with the November announcement, covered by us as “AMD Plans Two GPUs in 2016,” it further supports this interpretation.

We still don't know much about what the actual performance of this high-end GPU will be, though. AMD was able to push 8 TeraFLOPs of compute throughput by creating a giant 28nm die and converting the memory subsystem to HBM, which supposedly requires less die complexity than a GDDR5 memory controller (according to a conference call last year that preceded Fury X). The two-generation jump will give them more complexity to work with, but that could be partially offset by a smaller die because of the potential differences in yields (and so forth).

Also, while the performance of the 8 TeraFLOP Fury X was roughly equivalent to NVIDIA's 5.6 TeraFLOP GeForce GTX 980 Ti, we still don't know why. AMD has redesigned a lot of their IP blocks with Polaris; you would expect that, if something unexpected was bottlenecking Fury X, the graphics manufacturer wouldn't overlook it the next chance that they are able to tweak it. This could have been graphics processing or something much more mundane. Either way, upcoming benchmarks will be interesting.

And it seems like that may be this year.

Source: VentureBeat

Patriot's Viper V560, a lot of mouse for not much money

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2016 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: input, patriot, viper v560, gaming mouse

Patriot's Viper V560 is a mere $50 but offers many of the same features as mice half again that price which leaves one wondering how they pulled it off.  The mouse has nine buttons, five profiles you can quickly switch between as well as swappable side grips and weights.  The Avago 9800 laser sensor can be switched between 800 to 8200 DPI, with four sensitivity presets you can customize.  It even has a tiltable wheel for those who are dexterous enough to take advantage of that feature. The software is impressive, Modders Inc liked the way that you could import and export macros via the .mf file format.  As far as negatives go, the red, green, blue, purple, and aqua LEDs associated with the various profiles could not be disabled and the mouse did not sit perfectly level on flat surfaces, perhaps in part because of the use of ceramic pads.  If those issues do not concern you, head on over for a look at the full review.

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"Patriot is a company known for its memory and mobile products, and has just recently started selling peripherals. The V560 is the first-ever mouse released under the Patriot Viper brand, and it continues the trend of excellent design set by its first-ever headset."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Modders Inc

Fractal Design Introduces Define Nano S Mini-ITX Enclosure

Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 18, 2016 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: small form factor, silent case, SFF, mini-itx, fractal design, enclosure, define s, define nano s, case

Fractal Design has introduced the Define Nano S enclosure; a new, mini-ITX version of their popular Define S mid-tower.

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The Fractal Design Define S was our pick for 2015 enclosure of the year (in our year-in-review podcast), and this new mini-ITX version retains the larger enclosure's design aesthetic - and its support for full-size components.

nano3.jpeg

"The Define Nano S is an ITX case that features compatibility with high end, full-size components, superior sound dampening, and an ATX-like layout."

Key features for the Define Nano S from Fractal Design:

  • A Define Series ITX case designed for silent computing with sound dampening and ModuVent™ technology
  • User-friendly construction with superior cable management and compatibility for full-size components
  • Flexible storage options with room for up to 4 drives
  • Accommodates a variety of radiator sizes and includes brackets for reservoir and pump mounting
  • Features two Dynamic Series fans — 1 GP-12 and 1 GP-14 — with an adapter included for motherboards with limited fan headers
  • Featuring an open interior allowing an unobstructed airflow path from the front of the case to the rear exhaust
  • Easy-to-clean filters on the top and bottom, spanning the PSU position, with the bottom filter ejecting from the front for easy-access.

nano2.jpeg

The Define Nano S offers a great deal of room for a mini-ITX enclosure (the Nano S is approximately 13.5 inches high, 8 inches wide, and 16.2 inches deep), with support for up to a 240/280 mm radiator on both top and front fan mounts, with 6 fan mounts overall (two of Fractal's Dynamic Series fans - 120 mm and 140 mm - are included). And an important detail; both the bottom and front fan mounts feature removable dust filters.

The enclosure offers the same "ModuVent" removable top vents, allowing more silent operation if the user doesn't need to use the upper fan mounts. There is sound dampening in place throughout, allowing for a quiet build. Storage mounts are behind the rear panel (as in the Define S) supporting two each 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch drives. GPUs up to 315 mm and CPU coolers up to 160 mm are supported along with ATX PSUs up to 160 mm deep.

nano4.jpeg

Pricing will be $64.99 for the standard version, and $69.99 for the version with a window. Availability is set for March 2016.

You can check out the full specs for this new enclosure after the break.

Make friends in six languages witih Skype

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2016 - 12:15 PM |
Tagged: slack, skype, transation

Useful real time translation, as opposed to the entertaining kind, has been a challenge for programmers for quite some time now, even professional real time translators working for the news or governments can get tongue tied.  That is what makes Microsoft's announcement about Skype translate so impressive, it can now translate Chinese Mandarin, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish on the fly.  If you have friends fluent in another language it would be worth testing the translations to see what level of quality they have reached as well as the voice which they hear.  The Inquirer also mentions integration with Slack, if you know of any businesses which actually use that IM and voice client. 

Phone a friend today and see if you can get Skype to throw a syntax error.

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"Redmond's also made it possible to integrate Skype and enterprise chat tool Slack, which perhaps means it's added hipster to the dialects with which Skype is comfortable."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

G.Skill Launches 128GB DDR4 3,000 MHz Memory Kit

Subject: Memory | January 18, 2016 - 01:45 AM |
Tagged: xmp, X99, Ripjaws V, G.Skill, ddr4

G.Skill is adding a new DDR4 memory kit to its Ripjaws V series aimed at the Intel X99 platform. The new kit is comprised of eight matching 16 GB DIMMs for a total of 128 GB. Supporting Intel's XMP 2.0 standard, it comes stock clocked at 3,000 MHz with CAS latencies of 14-14-14-34.

GSkill Ripjaws V Red.png

The DDR4 kit is rated at 1.35V and will feature red or black aluminum heat spreaders in line with the company's other products. G.Skill claims that this is the world's fastest 128 GB kit running at 1.35 volts, and looking around the Internet this appears to be true. Corsair does have a Vengeance LPX kit that matches it in clockspeeds, but it has higher timings (higher latency) than G.Skill's modules.

Eight 16GB DIMMs is a lot of memory to be sure, and it is not going to come cheap. It will surely come in handy though for high performance workstations that need all the memory they can get.

G.Skill will be releasing the new DDR4 kit towards the end of January. It has not yet revealed official pricing, but going off of pricing for it's 64GB kit and the 128GB competition, I would expect it to fall around $850 to $900 USD.

What would you do with 128GB of system memory? I know that I would make one heck of a RAM Disk out of it!

Source: G.Skill

Skylake and Later Will Be Withheld Windows 7 / 8.x Support

Subject: Processors | January 17, 2016 - 02:20 AM |
Tagged: Windows 8.1, Windows 7, windows 10, Skylake, microsoft, kaby lake, Intel, Bristol Ridge, amd

Microsoft has not been doing much to put out the fires in comment threads all over the internet. The latest flare-up involves hardware support with Windows 7 and 8.x. Currently unreleased architectures, such as Intel's Kaby Lake and AMD's Bristol Ridge, will only be supported on Windows 10. This is despite Windows 7 and Windows 8.x being supported until 2020 and 2023, respectively. Microsoft does not believe that they need to support older hardware, though.

windows-10-bandaid.png

This brings us to Skylake. These processors are out, but Microsoft considers them “transition” parts. Microsoft provided PC World with a list of devices that will be gjven Windows 7 and Windows 8.x drivers, which enable support until July 17, 2017. Beyond that date, only a handful of “most critical” updates will be provided until the official end of life.

I am not sure what the cut-off date for unsupported Skylake processors is, though; that is, Skylake processors that do not line up with Microsoft's list could be deprecated at any time. This is especially a problem for the ones that are potentially already sold.

As I hinted earlier, this will probably reinforce the opinion that Microsoft is doing something malicious with Windows 10. As Peter Bright of Ars Technica reports, Windows 10 does not exactly have an equivalent in the server space yet, which makes you wonder what that support cycle will be like. If they can continue to patch Skylake-based servers in Windows Server builds that are derived from Windows 7 and Windows 8.x, like Windows Server 2012 R2, then why are they unwilling to port those changes to the base operating system? If they will not patch current versions of Windows Server, because the Windows 10-derived version still isn't out yet, then what will happen with server farms, like Amazon Web Services, when Xeon v5s are suddenly incompatible with most Windows-based OS images? While this will, no doubt, be taken way out of context, there is room for legitimate commentary about this whole situation.

Of course, supporting new hardware on older operating systems can be difficult, and not just for Microsoft at that. Peter Bright also noted that Intel has a similar, spotty coverage of drivers, although that mostly applies to Windows Vista, which, while still in extended support for another year, doesn't have a significant base of users who are unwilling to switch. The point remains, though, that Microsoft could be doing a favor for their hardware vendor partners.

I'm not sure whether that would be less concerning, or more.

Whatever the reason, this seems like a very silly, stupid move on Microsoft's part, given the current landscape. Windows 10 can become a great operating system, but users need to decide that for themselves. When users are pushed, and an adequate reason is not provided, they will start to assume things. Chances are, it will not be in your favor. Some may put up with it, but others might continue to hold out on older platforms, maybe even including older hardware.

Other users may be able to get away with Windows 7 VMs on a Linux host.

Source: Ars Technica

GIGABYTE launches one new X170 and four X150 motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | January 15, 2016 - 05:24 PM |
Tagged: X170-Extreme ECC, X170, X150M-PRO ECC, X150M-PLUS WS, X150-PRO ECC, X150, gigabyte, GA-X150-PLUS WS

These five motherboards will be more at home powering a server than a high end gaming machine as they fully support Intel's Xeon E3-1200 v5 and other LGA 1151 processors, all but two offer ECC memory compatibility using Intel's C236 and C232 chipset.  That doesn't mean you shouldn't consider them for your next build as they should offer rock solid stability and hey, they're camouflaged!

X170-EXTREME ECC.png

Up first are the X170-EXTREME ECC and X150-PRO ECC, with the first PCIe 3.0 16x slot connected directly to the CPU socket, no detours for that data.  The boards support PCIe Gen.3 x4 NVMe M.2 natively and you can pick up a U.2 converter if that is what you need for your drives and Intel's USB 3.1 controller will give you performance on both the original flavour and Type-C USB ports.  The X170 Extreme comes with a Killer E2400 Gigabit NIC, along with all of the benefits provided by that chip.

x150ms.PNG

Up next are the X150M-PRO ECC, X150M-PLUS WS and X150-PLUS WS motherboards which are listed on Gigabyte's site.  The X150M-Pro is mATX but Gigabyte still managed two PCIe 16x slots, with one limited to 4x speeds and a pair of PCI slots along with an M.2, 6 SATA 6Gbps and a SEx connector.  The X150M Plus is very similar but sports a single PCIe 16x and a 4x no legacy connectors nor a SEx port.  Finally the full ATX GA-X150-PLUS WS which adds a pair of PCIe x1 slots in addition to two PCIe 16x slots, with one limited to 4x speeds and a pair of PCI slots.

Source: Gigabyte

Silicon Power Slim S55, a drive for systems on a diet

Subject: Storage | January 15, 2016 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: silicon power, Slim S55, 240gb, Phison PS3110-S10, tlc

At 7mm the Silicon Power Slim S55 is perfect for older ultraportables that need a drive upgrade, though they will certainly slip into a 2.5" bay in any system.  The drive uses the Phison PS3110-S10, found in a variety of drives which Al compared last summer.  The controller is paired with a 128MB cache of Nanya DDR3 and TLC NAND, which lowers the price to an impressive $65 for the 240GB model.  It also performs decently, eTeknix saw 556MB/s in ATTO and 530MB/s in CDM; you can check out more tests in their full review here.

SP_S55-Photo-pcb-top.jpg

"Silicon Power’s Slim series of solid state drives all come with a 7mm thickness, making them perfect for ultrabooks and similar portable computers that require this form factor. Traditional 2.5-inch mechanical drives mostly come with a 9.5mm thickness, ruling them out as an option. The Slim S55 SSD is the little brother in this series, but it doesn’t need to be ashamed of that."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: eTeknix

Intel still manages a profit in a tough year

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2016 - 12:55 PM |
Tagged: Intel, earnings

Even with the difficulties the PC market encountered over 2015 Intel still managed to make a good sized profit.  Compared to Q4 of 2014 their profits shrank a mere 1% down to $8.76bn,  a feat unequalled by other silicon slingers as the entire market shrunk by about 10%.  Their data centre group provided the most impressive results, a 5% increase in revenue likely spurred by the growth of hosting providers for the various Clouds which formed or grew over the past year.  The Inquirer also points out the release of the sixth generation of the Core family of processors certainly didn't hurt them either.

intel.jpg

"INTEL HAS POSTED strong quarterly profits in its fourth quarter earnings, revealing results that were higher than Wall Street was expecting despite a tough year for the PC market."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

EVGA Z170 Motherboards to Support BCLK Overclocking Non-K CPUs

Subject: Motherboards | January 14, 2016 - 08:04 PM |
Tagged: unlocked, overclocking, oc, LGA 1151, Intel K series, Intel, evga, bios, BCLK

An upcoming BIOS update for EVGA Z170 motherboards to allow BCLK overclocking on non-K Intel processors.

z170.jpg

The news came from EVGA Product Manager Jacob Freeman via Twitter this afternoon:

Update: The new BIOS 1.07 enabling non-K BLCK OC is now available from EVGA.

We have been following the story of BCLK overclocking of locked Skylake CPUs since early last month, when Techspot published benchmarks from an Intel Core i3-6100 clocked at 4.70 GHz - thanks to a pre-release ASRock BIOS. The BIOS has since been released, and other vendors are updating their Z170 motherboards to support these locked processors as well, the latest being EVGA.

It remains to be seen if Intel will have anything to say about their cheaper "locked" processors becoming more attractive to potential overclockers, as the unlocked K parts have provided a nice profit margin for the company. So far, board partners are moving forward seemingly unimpeded with the updates to remove the overclocking limitations, and that's great news for enthusiasts.

Source: Twitter

Fatal1ty lends his Firepower to this 750W PSU

Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 14, 2016 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: modular psu, firepower 750W, fatal1ty, 80 Plus Gold

Bear with us on this one as there is a long strange story behind the new PSU maker which calls themselves Firepower.  A long time ago was PSU maker that ruled the roost who called themselves PC Power & Cooling, charging a premium over the competition but being worth every penny.  As the markets changed PCP&P found themselves lagging and so an apparently successful company called OCZ purchased them wholesale and begat their own line of PSUs.  Sadly all was not as it seemed at OCZ, the deals they offered were indeed too good to be true and to survive they had to amputate some portions of themselves and sell them.  The PSU portion, including the patents, was sold in 2014 to a new company which called themselves Firepower Technology and so we come to the FirePower Fatal1ty 750W.

This PSU is rated as a 80 Plus Gold model with a 5 year warranty which speaks to the confidence of Firepower.  It uses a single 12V rail capable of delivering 62.5A and the modular cables include four 6+2 PCIe, six Molex , and eight SATA connectors, enough to power a dual GPU system. [H]ard|OCP cracked the PSU open and found it to be the same design as a SilverStone ST75F-GS V2 with a mix of components, none of which stood out as being top of the line.  In the end the design was good enough to pass every test [H] threw at it but with a relatively high price it did not come off with an award.

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"The Fatal1ty Series PSUs by Firepower Technology may seem to be something new in the world of computer power supplies, but really it is not. That said, Firepower is somewhat new in the PSU world, so let's see where they are headed right now."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP