Erosion is inevitable, even in Redmond

Subject: General Tech | April 2, 2014 - 06:11 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, Build Conference, win 8.1

What was once called a Service Pack and is now referred to as 'Update 1' will be arriving soon for those few who currently run Windows 8.1.  The feature with the biggest potential to gain this OS market share is Enterprise mode with legacy support for IE11; allowing large corporations to chose Win 8.1 without having to redesign legacy applications and global intranets from scratch.  It's ability to run on 1GB of memory is also attractive to large industries who have no desire to upgrade the hardware on custom DOM machines nor legacy task specific servers.  The Inquirer also mentioned an intriguing feature referred to as a Start Menu and enhanced support for arcane peripherals such the keyboard and mouse.

images.jpg

"MICROSOFT PREVIEWED the long awaited return of the Start Menu in Windows 8.1 during a surprise announcement on Wednesday, alongside a major update for the software."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Canonical To Shut Down Ubuntu One Cloud Storage Service

Subject: General Tech | April 2, 2014 - 03:05 PM |
Tagged:

Canonical has announced that it is shutting down its Ubuntu One cloud storage service. Users will no longer be able to upload files to the cloud storage or purchase music from the Ubuntu One store. The service, which included both free and paid storage tiers, personal music streaming, and paid music downloads, will be formally shut down on June 1, 2014.

Ubuntu One is a cloud storage service that came bundled with the Ubuntu operating system starting with 10.04. Though there were clients for Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows, the service was primarily marketed to Ubuntu users and had the best client. Users could upload up to 5GB of personal files for free to the service, and a music streaming add-on allowed users to stream their uploaded music to other devices. Ubuntu One also offered up additional paid storage tiers and downloadable music in a paid store.

Ubuntu One.jpg

Canonical stated that the decision to shut down came from pressure from competing cloud storage providers that offer up more free storage and a desire to create a lean Canonical/Ubuntu that is focused on creating their idea of a convergent operating system that spans from mobile to desktops to servers. On the former, Canonical specifically stated that “if we offer a service, we want it to compete on a global scale, and for Ubuntu One to continue to do that would require more investment than we are willing to make.”

Ubuntu One will not be included in the upcoming Ubuntu 14.04 LTS operating system and the existing Ubuntu clients on older OS versions will be updated to reflect the shutdown. Users will not be able to add new files to the cloud service or purchase music from the store starting today.

Customers with active paid storage subscriptions will be issued refunds, and all users will have until July 31, 2014 to download their data. After July 31, all user data will be deleted, so if you have any important files stored there be sure to back them up as soon as possible.

Fortunately, it is not all bad news. Canonical will be open sourcing the Ubuntu One code. Note that the Ubuntu One Single Sign On and U1DB database services will continue to be maintained and are not part of the file services shutdown.

It is sad to see Ubuntu One being shuttered, but there are numerous (and better cross-platform) alternatives and I think the shutdown is ultimately the best course of action for a service that Canonical was not willing or able to fully invest attention and money into. Perhaps the open source community will find the code base useful for other projects.

Did you use the Ubuntu One cloud storage service?

Faster MinnowBoard Max With Lower $99 Price Coming In June 2014

Subject: General Tech | April 2, 2014 - 10:53 AM |
Tagged: minnowboard, linux, embedded, development, Bay Trail, atom e3825, atom e3815

MinnowBoard.org recently announced the MinnowBoard Max which is a new Intel-powered development board with improved specifications and a $100 lower price versus the original MinnowBoard. The MinnowBoard Max is an open source hardware and software development platform designed and built by CircuitCo with guidance from Intel. The MinnowBoard Max is intended to be used to develop new Bay Trail-powered products or as the brain of embedded equipment that interacts with custom I/O such as FGPAs and specialized sensors.

MinnowBoard Max.jpg

The MinnowBoard Max is slightly smaller than the original at 2.9” x 3.9” and features an improved Intel Atom processor. Rather than the single core Atom E640 at 1 GHz the original MinnowBoard used, the MinnowBoard Max uses one of two Bay Trail Atom E3800-series SoCs. The base $99 model uses a single core Atom E3815 clocked at 1.46GHz while the $129 model uses a dual core Atom E3825 clocked at 1.33 GHz. The SoC is paired with either 1GB or 2GB of system RAM on the $99 or $129 model respectively.

The MinnowBoard Max supports a wide range of I/O including:

  • 26-pin low speed expansion port
    • SPI, I2C, I2S Audio, 2 x UARTs (TTL-level), 8 x buffered GPIO (two supporting PWM), +5V, Ground
  • 60-pin high speed expansion port
    • 1 x PCI-E 2.0 (one lane), 1 x SATA 3Gbps, 1 x USB 2.0 host, I2C, GPIO, JTAG, +5V, Ground
  • 1 x USB 3.0 port
  • 1 x USB 2.0 port
  • 1 x HDMI port
  • 1 x Micro SD
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 x Serial Debug (via separately sold cable)
  • 1 x Micro USB 2.0

The small form factor board supports Linux and Android operating systems with pending support for the Yocto Project (which helps developers create their own Linux distribution). Intel’s Bay Trail is not open source, but the company has reportedly provided open source drivers for the HD Graphics processor-integrated GPU.

The MinnowBoard Max starts at $99 and is slated to start shipping towards the end of June 2014. MinnowBoar.org will also be releasing the hardware design files under a Creative Commons license shortly after that launch point. More information can be found on the MinnowBoard Max FAQ.

The open source MinnowBoard Max looks to be a respectable upgrade over the original, and the lower price should help to make the x86 architecture more attractive to developers of embedded systems especially in the wake of the proliferation of ARM-powered alternatives.

NitroWare Reviews Seagate Business 4-Bay NAS (16TB)

Subject: General Tech, Storage | April 2, 2014 - 02:27 AM |
Tagged: Seagate, NAS

Seagate released a network-attached storage (NAS) device intended for businesses with "up to 50 employees", called the Seagate Business 4-Bay 16TB NAS. Dominic Sharoo of NitroWare reviewed one and, obviously/hopefully, gave his opinion in the process. In short, while he liked the connectivity options, he shies away from a recommendation without a price cut and a firmware update (its built-in software is not compatible with Windows 8).

seagate_nas_box_angle.jpg

As for what it did well, he was pleased by its relatively compact chassis, USB 3.0 support, and the inclusion of dual gigabit Ethernet LAN ports. It is configurable in RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, or "JBOD" (just a bunch of drives). He also liked that, in his testing, the unit did not seem to require drives from a specific vendor. If you buy the unit already loaded with drives, they are formatted in RAID 5. For a four-bay NAS, that seems like a good default. It also uses a standard laptop power supply, which should make finding a replacement (or a spare) easy.

While the device is a mixed bag, check out his review if you are interested.

Source: NitroWare

GTC 2014: NVIDIA Launches Iray VCA Networked Rendering Appliance

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 1, 2014 - 04:42 PM |
Tagged: VCA, nvidia, GTC 2014

NVIDIA launched a new visual computing appliance called the Iray VCA at the GPU Technology Conference last week. This new piece of enterprise hardware uses full GK 110 graphics cards to accelerate the company’s Iray renderer which is used to create photo realistic models in various design programs.

NVIDIA IRAY VCA.jpg

The Iray VCA specifically is a licensed appliance (hardware + software) that combines NVIDIA hardware and software. On the hardware side of things, the Iray VCA is powered by eight graphics cards, dual processors (unspecified but likely Intel Xeons based on usage in last year’s GRID VCA), 256GB of system RAM, and a 2TB SSD. Networking hardware includes two 10GbE NICs, two 1GbE NICs, and one Infiniband connection. In total, the Iray VCA features 20 CPU cores and 23,040 CUDA cores. The GPUs used are based on the full GK110 die and are paired with 12GB of memory each.

Even better, it is a scalable solution such that companies can add additional Iray VCAs to the network. The appliances reportedly transparently accelerate the Iray accelerated renders done on designer’s workstations. NVIDIA reports that an Iray VCA is approximately 60-times faster than a Quadro K5000-powered workstation. Further, according to NVIDIA, 19 Iray VCAs working together amounts to 1 PetaFLOP of compute performance which is enough to render photo realistic simulations using 1 billion rays with up to hundreds of thousands of bounces.

DSC01431.JPG

The Iray VCA enables some rather impressive real time renders of 3D models with realistic physical properties and lighting. The models are light simulations that use ray tracing, global illumination and other techniques to show photo realistic models using up to billions of rays of light. NVIDIA is positioning the Iray VCA as an alternative to physical prototyping, allowing designers to put together virtual prototypes that can be iterated and changed at significantly less cost and time.

DSC01447.JPG

Iray itself is NVIDIA’s GPU-accelerated photo realistic renderer. The Iray technology is used in a number of design software packages. The Iray VCA is meant to further accelerate that Iray renderer by throwing massive amounts of parallel processing hardware at the resource intensive problem over the network (the Iray VCAs can be installed at a data center or kept on site). Initially the Iray VCA will support 3ds Max, Catia, Bunkspeed, and Maya, but NVIDIA is working on supporting all Iray accelerated software with the VCA hardware.

GTC 2014 IRAY VCA Renders Honda Car Interior In Real Time.jpg

The virtual prototypes can be sliced and examined and can even be placed in real world environments by importing HDR photos. Jen-Hsun Huang demonstrated this by placing Honda’s vehicle model on the GTC stage (virtually).

DSC01450.JPG

In fact, one of NVIDIA’s initial partners with the Iray VCA is Honda. Honda is currently beta testing a cluster of 25 Iray VCAs to refine styling designs for cars and their interiors based on initial artistic work. Honda Research and Development System Engineer Daisuke Ide was quoted by NVIDIA as stating that “Our TOPS tool, which uses NVIDIA Iray on our NVIDIA GPU cluster, enables us to evaluate our original design data as if it were real. This allows us to explore more designs so we can create better designs faster and more affordably.”

The Iray VCA (PDF) will be available this summer for $50,000. The sticker price includes the hardware, Iray license, and the first year of updates and maintenance. This is far from consumer technology, but it is interesting technology that may be used in the design process of your next car or other major purchase.

What do you think about the Iray VCA and NVIDIA's licensed hardware model?

A bright white tower from NZXT

Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 1, 2014 - 03:41 PM |
Tagged: water-cooling, nzxt, Mid-Tower Case, h440, fn v2

Lee had great things to say about the NZXT H440 when he reviewed this mid-sized white beast and for those seeking a second opinion, [H]ard|OCP is ready to provide.  They received the same model of case, which we are not allowed to call Stormtrooper White, testing the feasibility and performance of both single and dual 120 and 140mm self contained watercoolers.  The review will give you a good idea what you can expect to fit within this case, ensuring you don't end up purchasing a combination of components which simply will not fit inside the case. 

13950714965WLItlQlgs_5_19_l.jpg

"The NZXT H440 Mid Tower Case is a steel enclosure that is solidly built and not priced incredibly high. Its designers have focused on a very clean look inside and out without forgetting about all the actual needs and wants enthusiasts have when it comes to a new chassis. NZXT do not short you on quality fans to make sure you keep your cool either."

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

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

DX12; translated from marketing speak

Subject: General Tech | April 1, 2014 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: dx12

Nothing beats speculating on a product that hasn't been released yet; often it ends up being more fun than the release.  Currently DX12 is providing great fodder for enthusiasts, especially when the comparison to Mantle is broached in conversation.  The Tech Report is looking to pass some ammunition on to online prognosticators by fleshing out the debate with some history and a review of what was announced and what has been stated since.  One of their biggest secondary sources of information is Matt Sandy's Blog, as a DX Developer he is a knowledgeable source about the new API, in as far as he is allowed to speak on it.  Check out the three page post here for a good resource of what we know for now.

lead2.png

"We already covered the basics of DirectX 12 amid the GDC frenzy. Now that we've had time to study our notes from the show, we can delve into a little more detail about the new API's inception, the key ways in which it differs from DirectX 11, and what AMD and Nvidia think about it."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Another 4K Monitor Option: Samsung U28D590D 28-in Display for $699

Subject: Displays | March 31, 2014 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: deals, 4k, Samsung, u28d590d

Ever since CES we have been expecting an onslaught of 4K monitors to make their way to the market. Today Amazon.com listed the Samsung U28D590D for pre-order for the price of just $699. This is a 28-in display with a 3840x2160 resolution and support for 60 Hz refresh rates courtesy of the DisplayPort 1.2 connection.

samsung4k1.jpg

That's a hell of a deal for a 4K monitor, especially one capable of 60 Hz (likely through MST)! Worth noting is that the monitor is a TN panel so picture quality won't be as good as the IPS options still selling for over $2500, like the ASUS PQ321Q we reviewed previously.

samsung4k2.jpg

The panel has a pair of HDMI inputs but both are listed as only supporting 30 Hz 3840x2160 resolutions without any mention of using them both simultaneously.  

You can find the full specifications list on Samsung's website, and we are working to get a sample in for testing in the next two weeks!

Source: Amazon.com

GDC 2014: Shader-limited Optimization for AMD's GCN

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Shows and Expos | March 30, 2014 - 01:45 AM |
Tagged: gdc 14, GDC, GCN, amd

While Mantle and DirectX 12 are designed to reduce overhead and keep GPUs loaded, the conversation shifts when you are limited by shader throughput. Modern graphics processors are dominated by sometimes thousands of compute cores. Video drivers are complex packages of software. One of their many tasks is converting your scripts, known as shaders, into machine code for its hardware. If this machine code is efficient, it could mean drastically higher frame rates, especially at extreme resolutions and intense quality settings.

amd-gcn-unit.jpg

Emil Persson of Avalanche Studios, probably known best for the Just Cause franchise, published his slides and speech on optimizing shaders. His talk focuses on AMD's GCN architecture, due to its existence in both console and PC, while bringing up older GPUs for examples. Yes, he has many snippets of GPU assembly code.

AMD's GCN architecture is actually quite interesting, especially dissected as it was in the presentation. It is simpler than its ancestors and much more CPU-like, with resources mapped to memory (and caches of said memory) rather than "slots" (although drivers and APIs often pretend those relics still exist) and with how vectors are mostly treated as collections of scalars, and so forth. Tricks which attempt to combine instructions together into vectors, such as using dot products, can just put irrelevant restrictions on the compiler and optimizer... as it breaks down those vector operations into those very same component-by-component ops that you thought you were avoiding.

Basically, and it makes sense coming from GDC, this talk rarely glosses over points. It goes over execution speed of one individual op compared to another, at various precisions, and which to avoid (protip: integer divide). Also, fused multiply-add is awesome.

I know I learned.

As a final note, this returns to the discussions we had prior to the launch of the next generation consoles. Developers are learning how to make their shader code much more efficient on GCN and that could easily translate to leading PC titles. Especially with DirectX 12 and Mantle, which lightens the CPU-based bottlenecks, learning how to do more work per FLOP addresses the other side. Everyone was looking at Mantle as AMD's play for success through harnessing console mindshare (and in terms of Intel vs AMD, it might help). But honestly, I believe that it will be trends like this presentation which prove more significant... even if behind-the-scenes. Of course developers were always having these discussions, but now console developers will probably be talking about only one architecture - that is a lot of people talking about very few things.

This is not really reducing overhead; this is teaching people how to do more work with less, especially in situations (high resolutions with complex shaders) where the GPU is most relevant.

Creative's talented wireless speaker/micrphone/recharger beer can thing

Subject: General Tech | March 28, 2014 - 07:28 PM |
Tagged: audio, Creative, Sound Blaster AXX 200, wireless, speaker, microphone, battery charger

The Creative Sound Blaster AXX 200 is more that just a wireless speaker for your PC or smartphone, it is also a voice recorder, a hands free microphone for your smartphone and a battery charger.  The Bluetooth speaker function can be set to stereo or 7.1 channel surround and will accept a signal from up to 10' away.  The microphone feature has a similar range and can capture audio in a 360 degree area and [H]ard|OCP were also able to make a handsfree call using only the AXX 200.  The USB plugs make it into a charging station as well, handy considering how integrated it is with your phone.

13865803974MklFQZ5hQ_3_23.jpg

"With its unusual vertical, compact design, Creative's new flagship stereo speaker system features touch controls and a multitude of wired and wireless connectivity options for your mobile phone, tablet, Mac, and PC. Today, we will tell you if there is enough room in the "mix" for great sound as well."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Now Valve Doesn't Have Michael Abrash OR Jeri Ellsworth

Subject: General Tech, Displays | March 28, 2014 - 04:21 PM |
Tagged: VR, valve, Oculus, facebook

Today, Oculus VR issued a statement which claims that Michael Abrash has joined their ranks as Chief Scientist. Abrash was hired by Valve in 2011 where he led, and apparently came up with the idea for, their wearable computing initiatives. For a time, he and Jeri Ellsworth were conducting similar projects until she, and many others, were forced out of the company for undisclosed reasons (she was allowed to take her project with her which ultimately became CastAR). While I have yet to see an official announcement claim that Abrash has left Valve, I have serious doubts that he would be employed in both places for any reasonable period of time. With both gone, I wonder about Valve's wearable initaitive going forward.

Abrash at Steam Dev Days

This press statement comes just three days after Facebook announced "definitive" plans to acquire Oculus VR for an equivalent of $2 billion USD (it is twice the company Instragram was). Apparently, the financial stability of Facebook (... deep breath before continuing...) was the catalyst for this decision. VR research is expensive. Abrash is now comfortable working with them, gleefully expending R&D funds, advancing the project without sinking the ship.

And then there's Valve.

On last night's This Week in Computer Hardware (#260), Patrick Norton and I were discussing the Oculus VR acquisition. He claimed that he had serious doubts about whether Valve ever intended to ship a product. So far, the only product available that uses Valve's research is the Oculus Rift DK2. Honestly, while I have not really thought about it until now, it would not be surprising for Valve to contribute to the PC platform itself.

And, hey, at least someone is not afraid of Facebook's ownership.

Fancy a preview of the Samsung Galaxy S5?

Subject: General Tech | March 28, 2014 - 02:48 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy s5

Some lucky Aussies at The Register sweet talked their way into a Samsung Galaxy S5 and have put together a brief preview for your reading pleasure.  There are many new features you will someday be able to use, even if El Reg couldn't quite test them yet.   There is a battery saving mode which should help road warriors and a fingerprint sensor which is touted to work with NFC to turn your S5 into a replacement for your credit cards so you don't have to carry them with you.  There is more to see in the article, including the Galaxy Gear Neo smartwatch.

galaxy_s5_copper.jpg

"This time around Samsung is keen on its battery-saving mode, IP67 rating and, once again, fitness features. Samsung Australia personnel swore blind all of those features were designed for an “Aussie lifestyle”. Because down here we all go to the beach every day, a supposition only slightly less believable than the notion that an S5 design meeting considered how to optimise sales in a nation of 23 million."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Raidmax Cobra Power 500W; can an old PSU learn new tricks?

Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 27, 2014 - 04:53 PM |
Tagged: Raidmax, Cobra, RX-500AF-B, 500W, PSU

The new Raidmax Cobra Power 500W PSU is actually a 6 year old RX-500AF with a new paintball splattered colour scheme.  [H]ard|OCP felt that really showed when they looked at the power it delivers, a single 12V rail is our preference but the 384W max at 32A seems low compared to current 500W models on the market.  That lack of power as well as other features which performed to specifications less than expected lead them to advise people to stay away from this PSU even with the attractively low price you will not be getting a great unit.

1394380190w2ZhIpaLod_2_8_l.jpg

"We tread off the beaten PSU path today with a power supply from Raidmax that is part of the Cobra series. The RX-500AF-B unit sports 500 watts of "Haswell Ready" power, a Bronze efficiency rating, advertised stable voltages, a "strong single +12V rail for high-end system heavy load configuration," plus a paint ball stained exterior."

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

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Taking the A10-7850K out for a spin and leaving marks on the bench

Subject: Processors | March 27, 2014 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: Kaveri, APU, amd, A10-7850K

It is about time we took a look at AMD's new flagship processor, the A10-7850K Kaveri chip running at 3.7GHz or 4GHz at full boost with 4 Steamroller CPU cores and 8 Hawaii GPU cores.  While we are still shy on HSA benchmarks at the moment, HiTech Legion did have a chance to do some Mantle testing with the APU alone and paired with a discrete GPU which showed off some of the benefits on Mantle.  They also reached a decent overclock, a hair shy of 4.5GHz on air which is not too shabby for a processor that costs under $200.  Check out the full review here.

tech1.jpg

"AMD has launched their fourth generation of APU, codenamed “Kaveri”. Kaveri boasts increased processor power coupled with advanced Radeon graphics but there are other technologies, such as HSA, that balance memory loads via “compute” to both the CPU and GPU."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Podcast #293 - NVIDIA Titan-Z, ASUS ROG Poseidon 780, News from OculusVR and more!

Subject: General Tech | March 27, 2014 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: W9100, video, titan z, poseidon 780, podcast, Oculus, nvidia, GTC, GDC

PC Perspective Podcast #293 - 03/27/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the NVIDIA Titan-Z, ASUS ROG Poseidon 780, News from OculusVR and more!

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

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

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

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

 
This podcast is brought to you by Coolermaster, and the CM Storm Pulse-R Gaming Headset!
 
Program length: 1:19:03
  1. Week in Review:
    1. 0:10:45 Microsoft's DirectX 12 (Live Blog)
  2. 0:37:07 This podcast is brought to you by Coolermaster, and the CM Storm Pulse-R Gaming Headset
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Josh: Certainly not a Skype Connection to the Studio
  5. Closing/outro

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

 

Connecting Pascal's triangle with the Maxwell Equations

Subject: General Tech | March 27, 2014 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: pascal, nvlink, nvidia, maxwell, jen-hsun huang, GTC

Before we get to see Volta in action NVIDIA is taking a half step and releasing the Pascal architecture which will use Maxwell-like Streaming Multiprocessors and will introduce stacked or 3D memory which will reside on the same substrate as the GPU.  Jen-Hsun claimed this new type of memory will vastly increase the bandwidth available, provide two and a half times the capacity and be four times as energy efficient at the same time.  Along with the 3D memory announcement was the revealing of NVLink, an alternative interconnect which he claims will offer 5-12 times the bandwidth of PCIe and will be utilized by HPC systems.  From his announcement that NVLink will feature eight 20Gbps lanes per block or as NVIDIA is calling them, bricks, which The Tech Report used to make a quick calculation and came up with an aggregate bandwidth of a brick of around 20GB/s.  Read on to see what else was revealed.

pascal-scaling.jpg

"Today during his opening keynote at the Nvidia GPU Technology Conference, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang offered an update to Nvidia's GPU roadmap. The big reveal was about a GPU code-named Pascal, which will be a generation beyond the still-being-introduced Maxwell architecture in the firm's plans."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

AIDA64 Version 4.30 Released

Subject: General Tech | March 27, 2014 - 12:11 AM |
Tagged: hashing benchmarks, GPGPU performance, FinalWire, aida64

01-aida64-title.PNG

Courtesy of FinalWire

Today, FinalWire Ltd. announced the release of version 4.30 of their diagnostic and benchmarking tool, AIDA64. This new version updates their Extreme Edition and Business Edition of the software.

02-mantle-support.png

Courtesy of FinalWire

The latest version of AIDA64 has been updated to work with the latest versions of the Windows Desktop and Server-based OSes, Windows 8.1 Update 1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Update 1. Further, FinalWire integrated support for AMD's Mantle technology as well as support for Advanced Vector Extensions 2 (AVX2), Fused Multiply-Add (FMA) instructions, and AES-NI hardware acceleration integrated into the upcoming Intel Broadwell-based processor series.

New features include:

  • Microsoft Windows 8.1 Update 1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Update 1 support
  • OpenCL GPGPU SHA-1 hash benchmark
  • CUDA 6.0 support
  • Socket AM1 motherboards support
  • Improved support for Intel “Broadwell” CPU
  • Preliminary support for AMD “Carrizo” and “Toronto” APUs
  • Preliminary support for Intel “Skylake”, “Cherry Trail”, “Denverton” CPUs
  • Crucial M550 and Intel 730 SSD support
  • GPU details for AMD Radeon R7 265
  • GPU details for nVIDIA GeForce GTX 745, GeForce 800 Series

Software updates new to this release (since AIDA64 v4.00):

  • OpenCL GPGPU Benchmark Suite
  • AMD Mantle graphics accelerator diagnostics
  • Multi-threaded memory stress test with SSE, SSE2, AVX, AVX2, FMA, BMI and BMI2 acceleration
  • Optimized 64-bit benchmarks for AMD “Kaveri”, “Bald Eagle”, “Mullins”, “Beema” APUs
  • Optimized 64-bit benchmarks for Intel Atom C2000 “Avoton” and “Rangeley” SoC
  • Optimized 64-bit benchmarks for Intel “Bay Trail” desktop, mobile and tablet SoC
  • Full support for the upcoming Intel “Haswell Refresh” platform with Intel “Wildcat Point” PCH
  • Razer SwitchBlade LCD support
  • Preliminary support for Intel Quark X1000 “Clanton” SoC
  • Improved support for OpenCL 2.0
  • Support for VirtualBox v4.3 and VMware Workstation v10
  • OCZ Vector 150, OCZ Vertex 460, Samsung XP941 SSD support
  • GPU details for AMD Radeon R5, R7, R9 Series
  • GPU details for nVIDIA GeForce 700 Series
Source: FinalWire

GTC 2014: NVIDIA Awards Startup Map-D $100,000 In Early Stage Challenge

Subject: General Tech | March 26, 2014 - 08:49 PM |
Tagged: remote graphics, nvidia, GTC 2014, gpgpu, emerging companies summit, ecs 2014, cloud computing

NVIDIA started the Emerging Companies Summit six years ago, and since then the event has grown in size and scope to identify and support those technology companies tha leverage (or plan to leverage) GPGPU computing to deliver innovative products. The ECS continues to be a platform for new startups to showcase their work at the annual GPU Technology Conference. NVIDIA provides support in the form of legal, developmental, and co-marketing to the companies featured at ECS.

GTC 2014 ECS GPGPU Technologies.jpg

There was an interesting twist this year though in the form of the Early Start Challenge. This is a new aspect to ECS in addition to the ‘One to Watch’ award. I attended the Emerging Companies Summit again this year and managed to snag some photos and participate in the Early Start Challenge (disclosure: i voted for Audiostream TV).

GTC 2014 ECS Early Start Challenge Companies.jpg

The 12 Early Start Challenge contestants take the stage at once to await the vote tally.

During the challenge, 12 selected startup companies were each given eight minutes on stage to pitch their company and why their innovations were deserving of the $100,000 grand prize. The on stage time was divided into a four minute presentation and a four minute Q&A session with the panel of judges (this year the audience was not part of the Q&A session at ECS unlike last year due to time constraints).

After all 12 companies had their chance on stage, the panel of judges and the audience submitted their votes for the most innovative startup. The panel of judges included:

  • Scott Budman Business & Technology Reporter, NBC
  • Jeff Herbst Vice President of Business Development, NVIDIA
  • Jens Hortsmann Executive Producer & Managing Partner, Crestlight Venture Productions
  • Pat Moorhead President & Principal Analyst, Moor Insights & Strategy
  • Bill Reichert Managing Director, Garage Technology Ventures

The companies participating in the challenge include Okam Studio, MyCloud3D, Global Valuation, Brytlyt, Clarifai, Aerys, oMobio, ShiVa Technologies, IGI Technologies, Map-D, Scalable Graphics, and AudioStream TV. The companies are involved in machine learning, deep neural networks, computer vision, remote graphics, real time visualization, gaming, and big data analytics.

After all the votes were tallied, Map-D was revealed to be the winner and received a check for $100,000 from NVIDIA Vice President of Business Development Jeff Herbst.

Map-D Wins ECS Early Start Challenge.jpg

Jeff Herbst awarding Map-D's CEO with the Early Start Challenge grand prize check. From left to right: Scott Budman, Jeff Herbst, and Thomas Graham.

Map-D is a company that specializes in a scaleable in-memory GPU database that promises millisecond queries directly from GPU memory (with GPU memory bandwidth being the bottleneck) and very fast database inserts. The company is working with Facebook and PayPal to analyze data. In the case of Facebook, Map-D is being used to analyze status updates in real time to identify malicious behavior. The software can be scaled across eight NVIDIA Tesla cards to analyze a billion Twitter tweets in real time.

It is specialized software, but extremely useful within its niche. Hopefully the company puts the prize money to good use in furthering its GPGPU endeavors. Although there was only a single grand prize winner, I found all the presentations interesting and look forward to seeing where they go from here.

Read more about the Emerging Companies Summit (from last year) and keep track of new GTC 2014 articles by following the GTC 2014 tag @ PC Perspective.

Source: PC

AMD FirePro W9100 Announced: Doing Work in Hawaii.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 26, 2014 - 05:43 PM |
Tagged: amd, firepro, W9100

The AMD FirePro W9100 has been announced, bringing the Hawaii architecture to non-gaming markets. First seen in the Radeon R9 series of graphics cards, it has the capacity for 5 TeraFLOPs of single-precision (32-bit) performance and 2 TeraFLOPs of double-precision (64-bit). The card also has 16GB of GDDR5 memory to support it. From the raw numbers, this is slightly more capacity than either the Titan Black or Quadro K6000 in all categories. It will also support six 4K monitors (or three at 60Hz), per card. AMD supports up to four W9100 cards in a single system.

amd-firepro-w9100.jpg

Professional users can be looking for several things in their graphics cards: compute performance (either directly or through licensed software such as Photoshop, Premiere, Blender, Maya, and so forth), several high-resolution monitors (or digital signage units), and/or a lot of graphics performance. The W9100 is basically the top of the stack which covers all three of these requirements.

amd-firepro-w9100-2.jpg

AMD also announced a system branding initiative called, "AMD FirePro Ultra Workstation". They currently have five launch partners, Supermicro, Boxx, Tarox, Silverdraft, and Versatile Distribution Services, which will have workstations available under this program. The list of components for a "Recommend" certification is: two eight-core 2.6 GHz CPUs, 32GB of RAM, four PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, a 1500W Platinum PSU, and a case with nine expansion slots (to allow four W9100 GPUs along with one SSD or SDI interface card).

amd-firepro-w9100-3.jpg

Also, while the company has heavily discussed OpenCL in their slide deck, they have not mentioned specific versions. As such, I will assume that the FirePro W9100 supports OpenCL 1.2, like the R9-series, and not OpenCL 2.0 which was ratified back in November. This is still a higher conformance level than NVIDIA, which is at OpenCL 1.1.

Currently no word about pricing or availability.

Source: AMD

The Rift between Oculus, Kickstarter and you

Subject: General Tech | March 26, 2014 - 02:48 PM |
Tagged: oculus rift, Kickstarter, john carmack, facebook

You've heard by now that Facebook has purchased Oculus and you likely have an opinion on the matter.  There are quite a few issues this sale raises for the technologically inclined.  For the Kickstarter backers, the question of the propriety of Vulture Capitalists benefiting monetarily from a project which began in part because of their donation made on Kickstarter; which still did net them a device.  For those hoping that Oculus was going to be a project designed and lead by Palmer Luckey and involving John Carmack with little oversight or pressure from a company that wants an immediate return on their investment.  For some the simple involvment of Facebook is enough to sour the entire deal regardless of any other factors.

KitGuru offers some possible benefits that could come of this deal; Facebook cannot afford to slow development as competitors such as castAR will soon arrive, nor can they really push Carmack around without risking his involvement.  Before you start screaming take a moment to think about everything this deal involves and then express your opinion ... after all you don't get reality that is much more virtual than Facebook.

oculus.jpg

"I know guys. I know. I’m mad too. I’m sad, disappointed, even betrayed, but these are all things I’m feeling and I bet you are too. We’re having an emotional reaction to two companies worth multiple billions of dollars doing a business deal and though I can’t help but wish it hadn’t happened, I know that if I look at it logically, it makes sense for everyone."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: KitGuru