Apple Announces New Mac Minis with Haswell. What?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | October 17, 2014 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: Thunderbolt 2, thunderbolt, mac mini, mac, Intel, haswell, apple

I was not planning to report on Apple's announcement but, well, this just struck me as odd.

So Apple has relaunched the Mac Mini with fourth-generation Intel Core processors, after two years of waiting. It is the same height as the Intel NUC, but it also almost twice the length and twice the width (Apple's 20cm x 20cm versus the NUC's ~11cm x 11cm when the case is included). So, after waiting through the entire Haswell architecture launch cycle, right up until the imminent release of Broadwell, they are going with the soon-to-be outdated architecture, to update their two-year-old platform?

((Note: The editorial originally said "two-year-old architecture". I thought that Haswell launched about six months earlier than it did. The mistake was corrected.))

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I wonder if, following the iTunes U2 deal, this device will come bundled with Limp Bizkit's "Nookie"...

The price has been reduced to $499, which is a welcome $100 price reduction especially for PC developers who want a Mac to test cross-platform applications on. It also has Thunderbolt 2. These are welcome additions. I just have two, related questions: why today and why Haswell?

The new Mac Mini started shipping yesterday. 15-watt Broadwell-U is expected to launch at CES in January with 28W parts anticipated a few months later, for the following quarter.

Source: Apple

Fancy a look at the MSI GS70 Stealth Pro?

Subject: Mobile | October 17, 2014 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: msi, GTX 970M, GS70 Stealth Pro, gaming laptop

Hardware Heaven just put up a quick overview of the new MSI GS70 Stealth Pro with the GTX 970M, i7-4710HQ, 16GB of DDR3-1600, a pair of Toshiba m.2 SSDs in RAID0 and a 1TB HDD.  The screen is 17.3" at 1920×1080 and for those using this as a desktop replacement the HDMI and two mini-DisplayPort connections will allow 4K or triple display setups.  It is less than 2cm thick but thanks to the all metal design it should not bend as much as certain other recently released mobile devices.  The benchmarks of a variety of games showed the i7-4710HQ to perform similarly to the i7-4800MQ but the real star was the 970M; check it out here.

To really delve deep into this new mobile GPU check out Ryan's review.

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"Last week NVIDIA launched their latest mobile GPU, based on their Maxwell architecture which powers the likes of their high end GTX 980. Today in our MSI GS70 Stealth Pro Review (GS70 2QE) we take a look at a laptop which uses the new GTX 970M in games such as Alien Isolation and The Enemy Within."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

AMD's anorexia, another 7% of its workforce has been dropped

Subject: General Tech | October 17, 2014 - 01:44 PM |
Tagged: amd

Sad news again from AMD as roughly 710 employees from across the globe will be getting severance packages for Christmas.  The cuts are likely to come from the Computing and Graphics division as they saw a 16% year-on-year decline in income.  The Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom division saw a 21% increase and were the reason AMD's total income only dropped 2% when compared to this quarter last year.  The news for the future is also not good, with The Inquirer reporting that AMD expects its revenues to slide another 10-16% per cent in the next quarter.  Perhaps that is part of the reason Lisa Su will take home a salary that is $150K less than what Rory Read was earning.

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"Following a grim earnings report on Thursday, AMD has announced a restructuring plan that includes axing seven per cent of its workforce by the end of the year.

The plan will see AMD issuing layoff notices to about 710 employees worldwide, and is expected to cost the chipmaker $57m in severance payment."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Did you know XFX makes enclosures too?

Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 16, 2014 - 06:48 PM |
Tagged: xfx, Series Bravo, Type-01

XFX has expanded into the enclosure market with a case priced to take on big names like Corsair and Thermaltake.  It is visually unique on the outside, especially with there watercooling grommets which are designed differently than you see on other cases.  The Type-01 is fairly large, 518 x 232 x 562mm (26.6 x 13 x 22.2") and can hold up to eleven 2.5/3.5" drives of which five can be reconfigure to only fit 2.5" drives which will increase the maximum allowable length of your GPU to 14" from a mere 12".  The Tech Report appreciated the design of the front power and reset buttons, as they are socketed you can remove the front panel without having wires still connecting it to the case.  There are many things to like about this case especially if you are using air cooling but there is one caveat, this case will not support 240mm radiators so be forewarned if that was your plan.  Check out the whole review to see the other features XFX added to this case.

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"The Type-01 Series Bravo Edition is XFX's first entry into the PC enclosure market. Priced at $129.99, this stylish enclosure faces some fierce competition, most notably from Corsair's Obsidian Series 450D. We've put the Bravo through its paces to see if it's a worthy contender."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

MSI Upgrades 27” All-in-One Gaming PC’s with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 900M

Subject: Systems | October 16, 2014 - 04:18 PM |
Tagged: all-in-one, msi, gtx 900m, AG270 2QC, AG270 2QE

Who says All-in-One PCs can't be high end machines?  MSI just updated their 27" lineup with some rather impressive components.  One definite benefit to these machines is the matte display, which has been updated with a new feature called Anti-Flicker which reduces the amount of blue light generated by the display.   The base model is $1800 so you are paying a premium for the form factor but you do get an impressive looking and fully functional system for that price.

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City of Industry, Calif. – October 22, 2014 – MSI Computer Corp announces the availability of their lineup of 27-inch All-in-One gaming computers featuring NVIDIA GeForce GTX 900M graphics cards. MSI’s lineup of gaming AIOs are powered by Intel Core i7 processors, up to 16 GB DDR3L memory, Killer E2200 Game Networking, and MSI’s Super RAID technology.

MSI’s upgraded gaming AIOs feature NVIDIA GeForce GTX 900M GPUs, the world’s fastest and most powerful mobile gaming graphics card. NVIDIAs latest GPU packs the power of a high-end performance graphics card into the silhouette of a mobile unit through a Maxwell architecture that delivers up to 35% increase in 3DMark11 performance.

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“Gamers crave performance and our new lineup of 27-inch gaming AIOs will leave them breathless,” says Andy Tung, CEO of MSI Pan America. “The outstanding combination of state-of-the-art components, including NVIDIA’s latest GPU, deliver the most immersive gaming experience available and is guaranteed to outperform any other unit on the market.”

MSI complements the GPU with other cutting-edge components, including Intel Core i7 processor and Super RAID technology for ultra-fast storage speed with dual mSATA SSD’s in RAID 0, Killer E2200 Game Networking for lighting fast and lag-free connectivity, and dual Yamaha speakers and amplifier for an incredible sound experience. Yamaha speakers feature a built-in full-range monomer and an independent subwoofer to create a 2-way speaker system that pumps out intense explosions, clear footsteps and piercing screams.

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To ensure a smooth and enjoyable gaming experience, even in prolonged battle sessions, MSI equipped the AIOs with an anti-glare matte display with Anti-Flicker technology. MSI’s proprietary Anti-Flicker technology generates 75% less blue light by stabilizing the electrical current on the display, thus preventing flickering and decreasing eye fatigue.

Source: MSI

Google is looking for a brand new band

Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2014 - 01:30 PM |
Tagged: wireless, google, FCC

Google seems to be investigating a new way to extend their reach as an ISP, over and above Google Fibre and WiFi in Starbucks.  They have applied to the FCC to test data communication on 1mm frequency waves between 5.8GHz and 24.2GHz frequency band as wll as 2mm waves from 71-76GHz and 81-86GHz.  The wireless spectrum available continues to shrink as carriers bid on the remaining unclaimed frequencies which can penetrate the electronic noise that permeates highly populated areas and so companies are exploring frequencies which were not used in the past.  From what The Inquirer was told, these particular frequencies could be capable of sending data at speeds of several gigabits per second bandwidth over short distances, that could really help reduce the cost of connecting new users to their fibre network as the last mile could be wireless, not wired.

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"GOOGLE HAS FILED A REQUEST with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to test high-speed wireless spectrum at several locations in California."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #322 - GTX 980 4-Way SLI, Samsung's EVO Performance Fix, Intel Earnings and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2014 - 01:16 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, nvidia, GTX 980, sli, 3-way sli, 4-way sli, amd, R9 290X, Samsung, 840 evo, Intel, corsair, HX1000i, gigabyte, Z97X-UD5H, Lenovo, yoga 3 pro, yoga tablet 2. nexus 9, tegra k1, Denver

PC Perspective Podcast #322 - 10/16/2014

Join us this week as we discuss GTX 980 4-Way SLI, Samsung's EVO Performance Fix, Intel Earnings 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, Josh Walrath, Morry Tietelman

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

 

Google Nexus 9 Powered by NVIDIA Tegra K1, Denver 64-bit SoC

Subject: Mobile | October 15, 2014 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: tegra k1, tegra, nvidia, nexus 9, Nexus, google, Denver

Along with the announcement of the Google Nexus 6 phone, Google is also announcing a new tablet, the Nexus 9. Sporting an 8.9-in IPS screen with a 2048x1536 resolution (4:3 standing strong!), a 6700 mAh battery as well as the new Android Lollipop operating system, perhaps the most interesting specification is that it is built around NVIDIA's Tegra K1 SoC. Specifically, the 64-bit version based on the dual-core custom built Denver design, marking that architectures first release in shipping product.

UPDATE: Amazon.com has the Google Nexus 9 up for pre-order in both 16GB and 32GB capacities!

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Tegra K1 using 64-bit Denver cores are unique in that it marks the first time NVIDIA has not used off-the-shelf cores from ARM in it's SoC designs. We also know, based on Tim's news post on PC Perspective in August, that the architecture is using a 7-way superscalar design and actually runs a custom instruction set that gets translated to ARMv8 in real-time. 

A software layer and 128MB cache enhance the Dynamic Code Optimization technology by allowing the processor to examine and optimize the ARM code, convert it to the custom instruction set, and further cache the converted microcode of frequently used applications in a cache (which can be bypassed for infrequently processed code). Using the wider execution engine and Dynamic Code Optimization (which is transparent to ARM developers and does not require updated applications), NVIDIA touts the dual Denver core Tegra K1 as being at least as powerful as the quad and octo-core packing competition.

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It is great news for NVIDIA that Google is using this version of the Tegra K1 (can we please just get a different name for this version of the chip) as it indicates Google's commitment to the architecture in Android going forward, opening doors for the parts integration with even more devices with other hardware vendors moving forward. 

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More than likely built by HTC, the Nexus 9 will ship in three different colors (black, white and beige) and has a lot of callbacks to the Nexus 7, one of if not THE most popular Android tablet on the market. The tablet has front-facing speakers which should make it good for headphone-free media consumption when necessary. You'll be able put the Nexus 9 into a working mode easily with a new magnetically attached keyboard dock, similar to the iPad accessories widely available.

The Nexus 9 weighs in at 425g (the iPad Air weighs 478g), will have 16GB and 32GB capacity options, going up for preorder on 10/17 and shipping by 11/03. Google will sell both a 32GB Wi-Fi and 32GB LTE model with the LTE version (as well as the Sand color) shipping "later this year." Pricing is set at $399 for the 16GB model, $479 for the 32GB model and $599 for the 32GB+LTE version. That is quite a price hike for LTE capability and the $80 gap between the 16GB and 32GB options is annoying as well.

 Screen  8.9" IPS LCD TFT 4:3 aspect ratio QXGA (2048x1536) 
 Size  153.68 mm x 228.25 mm x 7.95 mm  
 Weight  WiFi: 14.99 ounces (425g) LTE: 15.38 ounces (436g) 
 Camera  Rear Camera: 8MP, f/2.4, 29.2mm focal length (35mm equiv), Auto-focus, LED flash Front Camera: 1.6MP, f/2.4, 26.1mm focal length (35mm equiv), Fixed-focus, no flash 
 Audio  Front-facing stereo speakers, complete with HTC’s BoomSound™ technology
 Memory  16, 32 GB eMMC 4.51 storage (actual formatted capacity will be less)  
 CPU  NVIDIA Tegra K1 - 64 bit; Dual Denver CPUs @ 2.3 GHz 
 GPU  Kepler 192-core GPU 
 RAM  2GB LPDDR3
 Wireless  Broadcom 802.11ac 2x2 (MIMO)

 

 Network  Quad-band GSM, CDMA, Penta-band HSPA, 4G LTE
 Power**  6700 mAh Wifi Browsing: Up to 9.5 hours LTE Browsing: Up to 8.5 hours Video Playback: Up to 9.5 hours Wifi Standby: Up to 30 days LTE Standby: Up to 30 days
 Sensors  GNSS support for GPS, GLONASS, and Beidou Bosch gyroscope and accelerometer AKM magnetometer & hall effect sensor Capella ambient light sensor
 Ports & Connectors  Single micro-USB 2.0 for USB data/charging 3.5mm audio jack Dual front-facing speakers Dual microphones, top/bottom 
 OS  Android 5.0 Lollipop
Source: Google Nexus

Google Nexus 6 Phone / Phablet with 6-in 2560x1440 Screen, Android Lollipop

Subject: Mobile | October 15, 2014 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon 805, qualcomm, nexus 6, motorola, lollipop, android l, Android

The Android mobile market just got shifted again after three key announcements from Google today to refresh the Nexus family of products that have served as the flagships for Android devices for several years.

First up is the Nexus 6, a phone or phablet depending on your vocabulary preferences, a device with a 5.96-in screen with a resolution of 2560x1440 and a pixel density of 493 ppi. Built by Motorola and sharing a lot of physical design with the recently released Moto X update, the phone is sleek and attractive and will ship in both black and white color schemes.

nexus6-2.jpg

Other specifications include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processors running at up to 2.7 GHz and an Adreno 420 graphics core. Capacities of both 32GB and 64GB will be available.

The Nexus 6 and its 6-in screen makes it larger than the Galaxy Note 4, larger than the iPhone 6 Plus and basically anything else considered a "phone" on the market today. The resolution of the phone is also much higher than the iPhone 6 Plus (only 1920x1080) and this should give Google's flagship a big advantage in clarity and media consumption - as long as the new Android Lollipop lives up to its claims. 

nexus6-1.JPG

Camera features are updated as well to include an f2.0 lens with optical image stabilization and a 13MP resolution. Fast charging is becoming particularly important in modern phones and Google claims the Nexus 6 will be able to get 6 hours of use from only 15 minutes of charging and more than 24 hours use from a full charge. We'll see how that pans out of course.

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Google says that the Nexus 6 will ship in November with a pre-order in "late October". Expect an unlocked version on Google's Play Store while you can find on-contract versions at ALL US carriers including AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and even Verizon. On a side note, this marks the first time Verizon will carry a Nexus-branded phone since the Galaxy Nexus in December of 2011.

Be prepared to pay full price for this phone though. Google lists pricing for the 32GB model at $649 and for the 64GB model at $699.

Screen  5.96" 1440x2560 display (493 ppi) 16:9 aspect ratio
 Size  82.98mm x 159.26mm x 10.06mm
 Weight  6.49 ounces (184 grams)
 Camera  Rear Camera: 13MP, Dual LED ring flash Front Camera: 2MP @ 1.4 um pixel
 Audio  Stereo front facing speakers; 3.5mm headphone jack with 4 button headset compatibility 
 Memory  32GB, 64GB
 CPU  Qualcomm Snapdragon805 - Quad Core 2.7 GHz  
 GPU  Adreno 420
 RAM  3GB RAM
 Wireless  Broadcom 802.11ac 2x2 (MIMO)

 

 Network (+ Mobile Sku)  Americas SKU: GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz CDMA: Band Class: 0/1/10 WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/8 LTE: Bands: 2/3/4/5/7/12/13/17/25/26/29/41 CA DL: Bands: B2-B13, B2-B17, B2-29, B4-B5, B4-B13, B4-B17, B4-B29 Rest of World SKU: GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz CDMA: not supported WCDMA: Bands: 1/2/4/5/6/8/9/19 LTE: Bands: 1/3/5/7/8/9/19/20/28/41 CA DL: B3-B5, B3-B8
 Power**  3220 mAh Talk time: up to 24 hours  Standby time up to 300 hours Internet use time up to 8.5 hrs Wi-Fi, 7 hrs LTE Wireless charging built-in 
Turbo charger gives up to 6 hours of power in 1 minutes
 Sensors  Accelerometer, Gyro, Magnetometer, Prox, Ambient Light Sensor, Haptics, Hall effect, Barometer 
 Ports & Connectors  Micro USB Single nano SIM Power and Volume key on Right Hand Side of the device 3.5mm audio jack
 OS  Android 5.0 Lollipop
Source: Google Nexus

Intel Announces Q3 2014: Mucho Dinero

Subject: Editorial | October 15, 2014 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: revenue, Results, quarterly, Q3, Intel, haswell, Broadwell, arm, amd, 22nm, 2014, 14nm

Yesterday Intel released their latest quarterly numbers, and they were pretty spectacular.  Some serious milestones were reached last quarter, much to the dismay of Intel’s competitors.  Not everything is good with the results, but the overall quarter was a record one for Intel.  The company reported revenues of $14.55 billion dollars with a net income of $3.31 billion.  This is the highest revenue for a quarter in the history of Intel.  This also is the first quarter in which Intel has shipped 100 million processors.

The death of the PC has obviously been overstated as the PC group had revenue of around $9 billion.  The Data Center group also had a very strong quarter with revenues in the $3.7 billion range.  These two groups lean heavily on Intel’s 22 nm TriGate process, which is still industry leading.  The latest Haswell based processors are around 10% of shipping units so far.  The ramp up for these products has been pretty impressive.  Intel’s newest group, the Internet of Things, has revenues that shrank by around 2% quarter over quarter, but it has grown by around 14% year over year.

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Not all news is good news though.  Intel is trying desperately to get into the tablet and handheld markets, and so far has had little traction.  The group reported revenues in the $1 million range.  Unfortunately, that $1 million is offset by about $1 billion in losses.  This year has seen an overall loss for mobile in the $3 billion range.  While Intel arguably has the best and most efficient process for mobile processors, it is having a hard time breaking into this ARM dominated area.  There are many factors involved here.  First off there are more than a handful of strong competitors working directly against Intel to keep them out of the market.  Secondly x86 processors do not have the software library or support that ARM has in this very dynamic and fast growing section.  We also must consider that while Intel has the best overall process, x86 processors are really only now achieving parity in power/performance ratios.  Intel still is considered a newcomer in this market with their 3D graphics support.

Intel is quite happy to take this loss as long as they can achieve some kind of foothold in this market.  Mobile is the future, and while there will always be the need for a PC (who does heavy duty photo editing, video editing, and immersive gaming on a mobile platform?) the mobile market will be driving revenues from here on out.  Intel absolutely needs to have a presence here if they wish to be a leader at driving technologies in this very important market.  Intel is essentially giving away their chips to get into phones and tablets, and eventually this will pave the way towards a greater adoption.  There are still hurdles involved, especially on the software side, but Intel is working hard with developers and Google to make sure support is there.  Intel is likely bracing themselves for a new generation of 20 nm and 16 nm FinFET ARM based products that will start showing up in the next nine months.  The past several years has seen Intel push mobile up to high priority in terms of process technology.  Previously these low power, low cost parts were relegated to an N+1 process technology from Intel, but with the strong competition from ARM licensees and pure-play foundries Intel can no longer afford that.  We will likely see 14 nm mobile parts from Intel sooner as opposed to later.

Intel has certainly shored up a lot of their weaknesses over the past few years.  Their integrated 3D/GPU support has improved in leaps and bounds over the years, their IPC and power consumption with CPUs is certainly industry leading, and they continue to pound out impressive quarterly reports.  Intel is certainly firing on all cylinders at this time and the rest of the industry is struggling to keep up.  It will be interesting to see if Intel will keep up with this pace, and it will be imperative for the company to continue to push into mobile markets.  I have never counted Intel out as they have a strong workforce, a solid engineering culture, and some really amazingly smart people (except Francois… he is just slightly above average- he is a GT-R aficionado after all).

Next quarter appears to be more of the same.  Intel is expecting revenue in the $14.7 billion, plus or minus $500 million.  This continues along with the strong sales of PC and server parts for Intel that helps buoy them to these impressive results.  Net income and margins again look to appear similar to what this past quarter brought to the table.  We will see the introduction of the latest 14 nm Broadwell processors, which is an important step for Intel.  14 nm development and production has taken longer than people expected, and Intel has had to lean on their very mature 22 nm process longer than they wanted to.  This has allowed a few extra quarters for the pure-play foundries to try to catch up.  Samsung, TSMC, and GLOBALFOUNDRIES are all producing 20 nm products with a fast transition to 16/14 nm FinFET by early next year.  This is not to say that these 16/14nm FinFET products will be on par with Intel’s 14 nm process, but it at least gets them closer.  In the near term though, these changes will have very little effect on Intel and their product offerings over the next nine months.

Source: Intel

Aerocool Launches Colorful and Practical Xpredator Cube Chassis

Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 15, 2014 - 12:49 AM |
Tagged: SFF case, SFF, mini ITX, micro ATX, aerocool

A Taiwanese company called Aerocool Advanced Technologies (with a US disivision known as Aerocool US) recently unboxed a cube-shaped computer case that is both colorful and practical. The new Xpredator Cube joins the existing Xpredator lineup as a small form factor (micro ATX or mini ITX) option that comes in Red, Black, Orange, White, and Green color options for $125.90.

Measuring 280x418x412mm, the Xpredator Cube has a futuristic design with lots of sharp angles. Large “shell like” adjustable vents align along the top of the case along with a storage compartment and the front Io panel. The front of the case is dominated by a large mesh intake vent with angled sides and a single 5.25” bay. The left side features a side panel window that shows off the top half of the case (motherboard area).

Aerocool Xpredator Cube Green SFF Chassis.png

Front IO on the Xpredator Cube includes two USB 3.0 ports, two audio jacks, a power button, and two fan speed dials for the built in fan controller (maximum of 15W per channel).

The aesthetics are welcome, but the internals are where the small form factor cube shines. The new Xpredator series case is divided into two main compartments. A horizontal divider holds the horizontally mounted removable motherboard tray. The tray matches the external color of the case while the rest of the case internals (minus the tool-less drive rails) is black. It features a CPU cutout and multiple rubber grommets to facilitate cable routing. The case has four exposed PCI slots that can support graphics cards up to 320mm in length (or 345mm with the front case fan removed). The case can accommodate tower coolers up to 187mm tall or an internally mounted water cooling radiator up to 280mm (sans optical drive). Alternatively, the case has two water cooling grommets to support a larger external radiator.

Aerocool Xpredator Cube White PC Case.jpg

Bundled cooling include a 200mm front intake fan (800 RPM, 53.4 CFM, 26.5dBA) and a single 140mm exhaust fan (1200 RPM, 5948 CFM, 27.6 dBA). From there, users can add up three additional 140mm fans. The top of the case has angled vents that can be opened or closed with a slider on the left edge.

The bottom half of the case has space for a vertically mounted power supply and a tool-less hard drive bay that can hold three 3.5” or 2.5” drives. The case has a vent on the right side of the case for the power supply fan along with a removable magnetic dust filter. In addition to the hard drive bay, users can fit two 2.5” solid state drives under the 5.25” bay.

Aerocool Xpredator Cube Red and Black SFF Chassis.png

Aerocool further includes rubber pads for the power supply and hard drives to reduce shock which is nice considering the LAN party readiness of this case.

The new case was not available for purchase at the time of writing, but it should be for sale soon with a MSRP of $125.90.

The Aerocool Xpredator Cube looks to be a nice looking, easy to build in case. I’m looking forward to the full reviews of course, but if it holds up to the specifications it should be a popular small form factor option! 

Source: Aerocool

The GTX 980 can reach very impressive frequencies

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 14, 2014 - 06:49 PM |
Tagged: GTX 980, nvidia, overclocking

[H]ard|OCP has had more time to spend with their reference GTX 980 and have reached the best stable overclock they could on this board without moving to third party coolers or serious voltage mods.  At 1516MHz core and 8GHz VRAM on this reference card, retail models will of course offer different results; regardless it is not too shabby a result.  This overclock was not easy to reach and how they managed it and the lessons they learned along the way make for interesting reading.  The performance increases were noticeable, in most cases the overclocked card was beating the stock card by 25% and as this was a reference card the retail cards with enhanced coolers and the possibility of custom BIOS which disable NVIDIA's TDP/Power Limit settings you could see cards go even faster.  You can bet [H] and PCPer will both be revisting the overclocking potential of GTX 980s.

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"The new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 makes overclocking GPUs a ton of fun again. Its extremely high clock rates achieved when you turn the right dials and sliders result in real world gaming advantages. We will compare it to a GeForce GTX 780 Ti and Radeon R9 290X; all overclocked head-to-head."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Flustered over Win10's surveillance habits? Have you met Predix?

Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2014 - 06:28 PM |
Tagged: predix, Cisco, Intel, GM, verizon, Privacy, security

GM's Predix asset management platform has been used for a while now, after they came to the realization that they were in the top 20 of the largest software developers on the planet.  They found that by networking the machines in their factories as well as products that have been shipped to customers and are seeing active use that they could increase the efficiency of their factories and their products.  They were aiming for 1% increase, which when you consider the scale of these industries can equate to billions of dollars and in many cases they did see what they had hoped for.

Now Cisco and Intel have signed up to use the Predix platform for the same results, however they will be applying it to the Cloud and edge devices as well as the routers and switches Cisco specializes in.  This should at the very least enhance the ability to monitor network traffic, predict resource shortages and handle outages with a very good possibility of a small increase in performance and efficiency across the board.  This is good news to those who currently deal with the cloud but it is perhaps worth noting that you will be offering up your companies metrics to Predix and you should be aware of any possible security concerns that may raise because of that integration to another system.  You could however argue that once you have moved to the cloud that this is already happening.

img_predix_feature_big_data.jpg

"GE, Intel, Cisco, and Verizon have announced a big data deal to connect Predix — GE’s software platform — to machines, systems, and edge devices regardless of manufacturer."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Samsung Announces 60GHz Wi-Fi (802.11ad)

Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2014 - 05:43 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, 802.11ad, wigig

Samsung Electronics, a member of the WiGig Alliance, has just announced an implementation that is capable of achieving 4.6 gigabit (575MB/s) speeds under the 802.11ad standard. Samsung claims that they have overcome "the barriers to commercialization" of wireless over 60GHz. This band has several disadvantages, including resonance with oxygen molecules (included under the blanket of "path loss" in the press release) and its opacity to many solid objects (referred to as "weak penetration properties" in the release).

WiGig_Alliance_Logo.jpg

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Some features that Samsung credits themselves with are beam-forming with less than four-tenths of a millisecond latency and the ability to track multiple devices simultaneously. Beam-forming in particular is said to help offset the mostly line-of-sight properties of earlier 60GHz prototypes. This allows the signal to be directed toward devices, typically by manipulating interference patterns to reduce the energy lost by transmitting to locations without a receiver and thus giving more energy to the locations that do.

Its usage as a product will mostly depend on how tolerant they are to non line-of-sight situations. This rate is comparable to a high-end SATA SSD. Samsung claims that it will be useful for their Smart Home and Internet of Things initiatives, similar to the Stanford and Berkeley announcement last month, but also mention it in terms of medical devices.

Source: Samsung

Anandtech Teaches Some Physics

Subject: General Tech | October 13, 2014 - 11:57 PM |
Tagged: processors, microprocessor, FinFET, fab

Ah, Solid State Physics. Semiconductors are heavily based on this branch, because it explains the physical (mechanical, electrical, thermal, etc.) properties of solids based on how their atoms are organized. These properties lead into how transistors function, and why.

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Put it back, Allyn.

Anandtech has published a seven-page article that digs into physics and builds upon itself. It starts with a brief explanation of conductivity and what makes up the difference between a conductor, an insulator, and a semiconductor. It uses that to build a simple transistor. From there it explains logic gates, wafers, and lithography. It works up to FinFETs and then keeps going into the future. It is definitely not an article for beginners, but it can be progressed from start to finish given enough effort on the part of the reader.

While this was not mentioned in the article, at least not that I found, you can derive the number of atoms per "feature" by dividing its size by the lattice-distance of the material. For silicon, that is about half of a nanometer at room temperature. For instance, 14nm means that we are manufacturing features that are defined by less than 30 atoms (up to rounding error). The article speculates a bit about what will happen after the era of silicon. This is quite interesting to me, particularly since I did my undergraduate thesis (just an undergrad thesis) on photonic crystals, which route optical light across manufactured defects in an otherwise opaque solid to make an optical integrated circuit. It has the benefit of, with a mixture of red, orange, and maybe green lasers, being able to "go plaid".

If you are interested, be sure to read the article. It is a bit daunting, but much more manageable than most sources. Congratulations to Joshua Ho and anyone else who might have been involved.

Source: Anandtech

PCPer Live! Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Game Stream Powered by NVIDIA

Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | October 13, 2014 - 10:28 PM |
Tagged: video, pcper, nvidia, live, GTX 980, geforce, game stream, borderlands: the pre-sequel, borderlands

UPDATE: You missed this weeks live stream but you can watch the game play via this YouTube embed!!

I'm sure like the staff at PC Perspective, many of our readers have been obsessively playing the Borderlands games since the first release in 2009. Borderlands 2 arrived in 2012 and once again took hold of the PC gaming mindset. This week marks the release of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, which as the name suggests, takes place before the events of Borderlands 2. The Pre-Sequel has playable characters that were previously only known to the gamer as NPCs and that, coupled with the new low-gravity game play style, should entice nearly everyone that loves the first-person, loot-driven series to come back.

To celebrate the release, PC Perspective has partnered with NVIDIA to host a couple of live game streams that will feature some multi-player gaming fun as well some prizes to giveaway to the community. I will be joined by NVIDIA's Andrew Coonrad and Kris Rey to tackle the campaign in a cooperative style while taking a couple of stops to give away some hardware.

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Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Game Stream Powered by NVIDIA

5pm PT / 8pm ET - October 14th

PC Perspective Live! Page

Need a reminder? Join our live mailing list!

Here are some of the prizes we have lined up for those of you that join us for the live stream:

Holy crap, that's a hell of a list!! How do you win? It's really simple: just tune in and watch the Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Game Stream Powered by NVIDIA! We'll explain the methods to enter live on the air and anyone can enter from anywhere in the world - no issues at all!

So stop by Tuesday night for some fun, some gaming and the chance to win some hardware!

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ECS Launches L337 Gaming Z97I-Drone Mini ITX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | October 12, 2014 - 01:27 AM |
Tagged: z97, PCI-E 3.0, mini ITX, M.2, L337 Gaming, intel i218v, haswell, ECS

ECS recently introduced the mini ITX Z97I-DRONE under its L337 Gaming series. This new motherboard is aimed at gamers and overclockers looking to put together a high end small form factor system based around Intel’s Haswell processor and Z97 Express chipset.

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The Z97I-DRONE is a mini ITX form factor board measuring 170mm x 170mm. It is based around the Intel Z97 Express chipset and supports Haswell processors. ECS has integrated several features aimed at gamers including Sound Blaster Cinema 2 audio, PCI-E 3.0, and an Intel I218V NIC. Beyond that, the Z97I-DRONE also incorporates high end power management hardware that enables overclocking. ECS uses what it calls “Hybrid Power” technology on the new mini ITX board which entails a 5-phase PWM to manage stable power delivery to the processor and memory, dual MOSFETs (which are reportedly 90% power efficient), Nichicon Japanese capacitors, and Icy Chokes which ECS states are more stable and produces 13% less heat versus ferrite chokes.

The internal layout is unique, with the internal headers, PCH, and five SATA III ports placed along the top half of the motherboard and the LGA 1150 socket sitting in the bottom right corner. The right edge of the board hosts two dual channel DDR3 memory slots that support a maximum of 16GB clocked at 3000+ MHz when overclocked. The power management “Hybrid Power” hardware sits to the left of the processor socket. A single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot sits on the bottom edge of the board. Further, Morry will be ecstatic to know that the CMOS battery is vertically mounted on the opposite side of the GPU slot and sits directly to the left of the M.2 slot above the processor socket (to the right of the southbridge). The board has internal headers for two USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports. ECS is using a Realtek ALC1150 8-channel audio codec to drive the audio outputs and an Intel I218V Gigabit LAN NIC for networking.

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Rear IO on the mini ITX Z97I-DRONE consists of the following ports:

  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 3 x Video Outputs
    • 1 x DVI
    • 1 x DisplayPort
    • 1 x HDMI
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x RJ45 (Intel I218V)
  • 6 x Audio Outputs
    • 5 x Analog Audio
    • 1 x Optical S/PDIF

Pricing and availability have not yet been announced, but if you are interested in this board keep an eye on this ECS product page.

Also read: ECS 2014 Press Event: LIVE, LIVA, LEAD, L337 @ PC Perspective.

Source: ECS

Choose Your Own Windows 10 Update Cycle Adventure?

Subject: General Tech | October 11, 2014 - 04:11 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, windows, update

I cannot help but think of Adobe Creative Cloud when I read Peter Bright report on Windows 10's update schedule. Previously, we would have general security and stability updates for Windows with the occasional Service Pack to roll updates together and sometimes introduce new features. Now, users might be able to choose how quickly to apply these updates, opt-out of everything but security patches, and/or accept experimental features.

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I say "might" because this is not technically a Microsoft announcement. Windows 10 has a new user interface, along with a few registry entries, for users to choose update frequency and development branches. The company would not say whether the Windows Insider program would continue after release, but the assumption is that it would be around for enthusiasts and IT testers to prepare for (and influence) upcoming changes. Think of it like an OS equivalent to the prerelease versions of Chrome and Firefox.

The article also suggests that the version number could periodically increase and that this initiative would replace Service Packs.

And this is where it feels a lot like Creative Cloud. Rather than waiting for an 18-month release schedule, Adobe is able to push out features at their leisure. Initially, I expected that this would lead to stagnation, but I do not see many complaints about that. On the other hand, it also pushed Adobe's software into a subscription service, which is something that people have been anticipating (and fearing with some) for quite some time now. Alternatively, it could be setting up Microsoft to subsidize Windows with online services. Either way, it could make it harder for them to justify incrementing the major version number.

Source: Ars Technica

AMD Demonstrates ARM-Based NFV Solution Using Hierofalcon SoC

Subject: General Tech, Networking | October 11, 2014 - 01:42 AM |
Tagged: sdn, nfv, networking, Hierofalcon, arm, amd

AMD, in cooperation with Aricent and Mentor Graphics, recently demonstrated the first ARM-based Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) solution at ARM TechCon. The demonstration employed AMD's Embedded R-Series "Hierofalcon" SoC virtualizing a Mobile Packet Core running subscriber calls. The 64-bit ARM chip is now sampling to customers and will be generally available in the first half of next year (1H 2015). The AMD NFV Reference Solution is aimed at telecoms for use in communications network backbones where AMD believes an ARM solution will offer reduced costs (both initial and operational) and increased network bandwidth.

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The NFV demonstration of the Mobile Packet Core entailed virtualizing a Packet Data Network Gateway, Serving Gateway, Mobility Management Entity, and virtualized Wireless Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) applications. AMD further demonstrated live traffic migration between ARM-based Embedded-R and x86-based second generation R-Series APU solutions. NFV is related to, but independent of, software defined networking (SDN). Network Functions Virtualization is essentially the virtualizing of network appliances with specific functions and performing those functions virtually using generic servers. For example, NFV can virtualize firewalls, gateways, load balancers, intrusion detection, DNS, NAT, and caching functions. NFV virtualizes the upper networking layers (layers 4-7) and can allow virtual tunnels through a network that can then be assigned functions (such as those listed above) on a per-VM or per flow basis. NFV eliminates the need for specialized hardware appliances by virtualizing these functions on generic servers which have traditionally been exclusively x86 based. AMD is hoping to push ARM (and it's own ARM-based SoCs) into this market by touting even further capital expenditure and operational costs versus x86 (and, in turn, versus specialized hardware that serves the entire network whereas NFV can be more exactly provisioned).

It is an interesting take on a lucrative networking market which is dealing with 1.4 Zetabytes of global IP traffic per year. I'm interested to see if the telecoms and other enterprise network customers will bite and give AMD a slice of this pie on the low end and low power fronts.

AMD "Hierofalcon" Embedded R Series SoC

Hierofalcon is the code name for AMD's 64-bit SoC with ARM CPU cores intended for the embedded market. The SoC is a 15W to 30W chip featuring up to eight ARM Cortex-A57 CPU cores capable of hitting 2GHz, two 64-bit ECC capable DDR3 or DDR4 memory channels, 10Gb Ethernet, PCI-E 3.0, ARM TrustZone, and a cryptographic security co-processor.The TechCon demonstration was also used to launch the AMD NFV Reference Solution which is compliant with OpenDataPlane platform. The reference platform includes a networking software stack from Aricent and an Embedded Linux OS and software tools (Sourcery CodeBench) from Mentor Graphics. The OpenDataPlane demonstration featured the above mentioned Evolved Packet Core application on the Hierofalcon 64-bit ARM SoC. Additionally, the x86-based R-Series APU, OpenStack, and Data Plane Development Kit all make up the company's NFV reference solution. 

Source: AMD

Lenovo's New Yoga Tablet 2 Pro Packs In QHD Display, Pico Projector, and 8W JBL Audio

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 10, 2014 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: yoga tablet 2, tablet, qhd, lenovo yoga, Lenovo, ips display, intel atom, business

Yesterday, Lenovo revealed a barrage of products at an event in London including two new convertible laptops and new 8-inch and 10-inch tablets running Windows and Android. The final bit of new hardware to round out the new tablet lineup is the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro which is a larger version of the Yoga Tablet 2 with several tweaks specifically aimed at media consumption with focus on high quality audio and video.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro With Pico Projector and Improved Kickstand.jpg

The new tablet is a 13-inch tablet weighing 2.09 pounds and is 0.1-0.5” thick. Available in silver, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro shares a similar form factor with its smaller siblings including a 180-degree rotating kickstand with a cutout to allow hanging on a wall or the back of an airplane seat. The Pro model further adds a button on the side that pops out the kickstand which is not present on the non-Pro models.

The device is dominated by a large 13.3” QHD 2560x1440 IPS multi-touch display. The JBL audio is improved on the Pro model and includes two 1.5W front facing stereo speakers in addition to a rear 5W subwoofer. A 1.6MP webcam and 8MP rear camera with auto focus remains consistent with the Tablet 2 tablets. Lenovo has added a Pico projector exclusive to the Tablet 2 Pro that is capable of displaying a WVGA (854x480) resolution image up to 50” at between 40-50 lumens. External I/O includes a micro USB (OTG capable) port, 3.5mm audio jack, and one micro SD card slot.

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is powered by a quad core Intel Atom Z3745 clocked at 1.86 GHz with 2MB cache, 2GB RAM, and 32GB of internal storage (expandable by up to a 64GB micro SD card). Wireless radios include dual band 802.11 b/g/n and optional 4G (WCDMA 900/2100) which will not be available in the US. According to Lenovo, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro has a battery life of up to 15 hours.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro With Pico Projector.jpg

Curiously, the tablet is running Android 4.4 KitKat rather than Windows 8.1. As such, this is a high end tablet that likely will appeal to consumers wanting a quality media consumption device despite the exclusive (to the Pro) hardware bits that would otherwise appeal to business professionals wanting to create and deliver presentations (which was my first thought when seeing the hardware specifications). With that said, the display and audio are sure to please media enthusiasts. I have reached out to Lenovo for comment on the absence of Bluetooth support (mainly regarding keyboard support) in the documentation and will update the article if I receive a response.

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro will be available soon with an MSRP of $499. For comparison, the 10-inch Tablet 2 Android has an MSRP of $299. The $200 premium gets up a larger (and higher resolution) display, better potential audio, a projector, and a bit more internal storage space albeit at the cost of slightly shorter battery life.

Source: Lenovo