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Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 1, 2014 - 03:17 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Kickstarter, Firefox OS, web, chromecast
When Google released the Chromecast, it was a surprisingly clean solution for streaming video (my apologies if solutions existed before it). Just plug it into HDMI and connect to it with a PC or a mobile device to use the TV as monitor for content, and it is cheap. I figured that the open source community would like one of their own, but I did not think it was going to be done. Now there is a Kickstarter up, with FirefoxOS.
I constantly struggle with whether to discuss crowdfunding because, on the one hand, you never know if something will tank. On the other hand, is it really any less sketchy than pre-release information for computer hardware or video games (especially pre-release news for video games)?
In this case, I found out that it was promoted by Mozilla on their Hacks blog. It is based on a Rockchip 3066 SoC with 1GB RAM, 4GB of storage and 2.4 GHz Wireless-N. As stated earlier, it runs FirefoxOS which means that apps are websites. The SoC has a Mali-400 GPU that is capable of OpenGL ES 2.0, so it might even be able to support WebGL if the software and drivers are certified. Don't expect jaw-dropping 3D graphics, though. The GPU is rated at about 9 GFLOPs. For comparison, the Tegra K1 has a peak compute throughput of about 365 GFLOPs; alternatively, it is fairly close to later-model Intel GMA graphics (not Intel HD Graphics... GMA). Still, it might allow for some interesting 2D (or simplistic 3D) games.
Just a day-or-so in, it is already at over 150% funding.
Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2014 - 02:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, ancient space, letdown
It seems that Ancient Space is not quite living up to the hype surrounding the cast of Sci-Fi stars and Homeworld like appearance. From what Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN found the story was lacklustre even with recognizable voices and while the gameplay was enjoyable it was lacking that brilliance which made Homeworld so memorable. It is a beautiful game and it does actually have some new features like Captains which can be swapped to give different buffs to your ships but overall they were a bit let down. You can grab it on Steam but you might want to consider some of the Homeworld and Homeworld 2 mods to tide you over until the remastered versions are released.
If you do find a mod you like you might be able to talk one or more of the Fragging Frogs into playing a game with you, otherwise keep an eye on their Forum for the games they will be playing this week.
"That’s not to say Ancient Space is a terrible game: it’s actually not ever bad in any dramatic sense, it just doesn’t do anything particularly exciting. It’s disappointing. Beautiful, but disappointing. There’s your three word summary."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Survival Strategy: Total War – Attila Announced @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Metro Redux Review @ OCC
- Interview: Gearbox On Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- The Plague Spreads: Pathologic Remake Hits Funding Goal @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Wot I Think (So Far): Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Civilization Beyond Earth: 200 Turns On The Final Frontier @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: Systems | October 1, 2014 - 01:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: zotac, SFF, nano xs, MI521, Core i3 4030U
ZOTAC is releasing the new MI521 nano XS model using the Haswell Core i3 4030U with HD4400 graphics with support for mSATA SSDs and two DDR3 slots capable of handling up to 16GB of RAM. The two models listed below are the same, in one case you do not have to supply your own RAM and SSD, the other comes with only the processor inside. The branding is skewed more towards the multimedia capabilities but these could also function quite well for office work, with support for 4K workspaces and perhaps a little entertainment once you've polished off that Word doc.
HONG KONG – Oct. 1, 2014 – ZOTAC International, a global innovator and manufacturer of graphics cards and mini-PCs, today injects the palm-sized ZBOX nano XS chassis with a double dose of performance from a 4th Generation Intel Core i3 processor. The new ZOTAC ZBOX MI521 nano XS series delivers a dual-core punch and expansive connectivity in an extra small size for an excellent mini-PC experience.
“ZOTAC is a pioneer when it comes to packing as much performance as possible into the smallest form factor possible. Our latest ZBOX MI521 nano XS series takes that same formula and gives it more performance and connectivity to create a mini-PC that’s perfect for office productivity or multimedia tasks,” said Tony Wong, CEO, ZOTAC International.
New to the ZBOX MI521 nano XS series is a very efficient and capable Intel Core i3 4030U dual-core processor with Intel HD Graphics 4400. The new processor enables dual display capabilities on the ZBOX MI521 nano XS series with standard HDMI and mini-DisplayPort outputs for maximum work productivity.
A suite of Intel technologies including Clear Video HD, InTru 3D and Quick Sync Video transforms the ZBOX MI521 nano XS series into the perfect HTPC for high quality HD video playback, including CPU-intensive Hi10P formats. Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi technologies round out the ZBOX MI521 nano XS series features to provide compatibility with popular input devices and high-speed network connectivity to wireless home networks.
Subject: General Tech | October 1, 2014 - 01:09 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, maxwell, GTX 980, GTX 970, GM204, geforce, dx12, dsr
Move over Super Best Friends, the Dynamic Super Resolution Duo is here to slay the evil Jaggies! Ryan covered NVIDIA's new DSR in his review of the new Maxwell cards and how it can upsample a monitor with a resolution of 2560x1440 or lower to much higher resolutions using a process similar to supersampling but is in fact a 13-tap gaussian filter. That is important because supersampling would have some interesting challenges rendering 2560x1440 on a 1080p monitor. DSR gives you a much wider choice of resolutions as you can see in the Guild Wars screenshot below, allowing you to choose a variety of multipliers to your displays native resolution to give your game a much smoother look. The Tech Report has assembled a variety of screenshots from games with different DSR and AA settings which you can examine with your own eyeballs to see what you think.
"One of the more intriguing capabilities Nvidia introduced with the GeForce GTX 970 and 980 is a feature called Dynamic Super Resolution, or DSR, for short. Nvidia bills it as a means of getting 4K quality on a 2K display. How good is it? We take a look."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- There's more to Windows 10 than miscounting @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft WINDOWS 10: Seven ATE Nine. Or Eight did really @ The Register
- AMD demonstrates NFV tool using 64-bit ARM-based SoC codenamed 'Hierofalcon' @ The Inquirer
- Hong Kong Protesters Use Mesh Networks To Organize @ Slashdot
- Mozilla might add Tor encryption to its Firefox web browser @ The Inquirer
- Lenovo becomes the biggest x86 server provider in China as acquisition of IBM x86 server business completes, says IDC @ DigiTimes
- Supercomputers: The Next Generation – Cray puts burst buffer tech, Intel Haswell inside @ The Register
- Competition: Win One of Three BioStar Motherboards @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech | September 30, 2014 - 11:46 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 9, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, windows 10, windows, threshold, microsoft
The Windows event for the enterprise, which took place today in San Francisco, revealed the name of the upcoming OS. It is not Windows 9, or One Windows, or just Windows. It will be Windows 10. Other than the name, there is not really any new information from a feature or announcement standpoint (except the Command Prompt refresh that I actually will give a brief mention later). My interest comes from their mindset with this new OS -- what they are changing and what they seem to be sticking with.
If you would like Microsoft's commentary before reading mine, the keynote is embed above.
Okay, so one thing that was shown is "Continuum". If you have not seen its prototype at the end of the above video, it is currently a small notification that appears when a keyboard and mouse is attached (or detached). If a user accepts, this will flip the user interface between tablet and desktop experiences. Joe Belfiore was clear that the video clip was not yet in code, but represents their vision. In practice, it will have options for whether to ask the user or to automatically do some chosen behavior.
In a way, you could argue that it was necessary to go through Windows 8.x to get to this point. From the demonstrations, the interface looks sensible and a landing point for users on both Windows 7 and Windows 8 paths. That said, I was fine with the original Windows 8 interface, barring a few glitches, like disappearing icons and snapping sidebars on PCs with multiple monitors. I always considered the "modern" Windows interface to be... acceptable.
It was the Windows Store certification that kept me from upgrading, and Microsoft's current stance is confusing at the very least. Today's announcement included the quote, "Organizations will also be able to create a customized store, curating store experiences that can include their choice of Store apps alongside company-owned apps into a separate employee store experience." Similar discussion was brought up and immediately glossed over during the keynote.
Who does that even apply to? Would a hobbyist developer be able to set up a repository for friends and family? Or is this relegated to businesses, leaving consumers to accept nothing more than what Microsoft allows? The concern is that I do not want Microsoft (or anyone) telling me what I can and cannot create and install on my devices. Once you build censorship, the crazies will come. They usually do.
But onto more important things: Command Prompt had a major UX overhaul. Joe Belfiore admitted that it was mostly because most important changes were already leaked and reported on, and they wanted to surprise us with something. They sure did. You can now use typical keyboard shortcuts, shift to select, ctrl+c and ctrl+v to copy/paste, and so forth. The even allow a transparency option, which is common in other OSes to make its presence less jarring. Rather than covering over what you're doing, it makes it feel more like it overlays on top of it, especially for quick commands. At least, that is my opinion.
Tomorrow, October 1st, Microsoft will launch their "Windows Inside Program". This will give a very early glimpse at the OS for "most enthusiastic Windows fans" who are "comfortable running pre-release software that will be of variable quality". They "plan to share all the features (they) are experimenting with". They seem to actually want user feedback, a sharp contrast from their Windows 8 technical preview. My eye will on relaxing certification requirements, obviously.
Subject: Processors | September 30, 2014 - 06:02 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: arm, cortex, Cortex-A, cortex-m, 90 nm, 40 nm, 28 nm, 32 bit
Last week ARM announced the latest member of their Cortex-M series of embedded parts. The new Cortex-M7 design is a 32 bit processor designed to have good performance while achieving excellent power consumption. The M7 is a fully superscalar design with 6 pipeline stages. This product should not be confused with the Cortex-A series of products, as the M series is aimed directly at embedded markets.
This product is not necessarily meant for multi-media rich applications, so it will not find its way into a modern smart phone. Products that it is leveraged at would be products like the latest generation of smart watches. Industrial control applications, automotive computing, low power and low heat applications, and countless IoT (Internet of Things) products can utilize this architecture.
The designs are being offered on a variety of process nodes from 90 nm down to 28 nm. These choices are made by the licensee depending on the specifics of their application. In the most energy efficient state, ARM claims that these products can see multiple years of running non-stop on a small lithium battery.
This obviously is not the most interesting ARM based product that we have seen lately, but it addresses a very important market. What is perhaps most interesting about this release not only is the pretty dramatic increase in per clock performance from the previous generation of part, but also how robust the support is in terms of design tools, software ecosystem, and 3rd party support.
Cortex-M7 can also be utilized in areas where a more complex DSP has traditionally been used. In comparison to some common DSPs, the Cortex-M7 is competitive in terms of specialized workload performance. It also has the advantage of being much more flexible than a DSP in a general computing environment.
ARM just keeps on moving along with products that address many different computing markets. ARM’s high end Cortex-A series of parts powers the majority of smart phones and tablets while the Cortex-M series have sold in the billions addressing the embedded market. The Cortex-M7 is the latest member of that family and will find more than its fair share of products to be integrated into.
Subject: General Tech | September 30, 2014 - 02:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: K70 RGB, input, corsair, Cherry MX RGB red
There is a new type of Cherry MX switches on the market and they are what allow the Corsair K70 RGB to stand out in a light filled room; Cherry MX RGB switches feel like the original switches but with the clear plastic domes they have clear housings. Thanks to the Corsair Utility Engine software which comes with the keyboard you can choose from 16.8 million colours to enhance the look of your keyboard, or create macros to have colours change as you are using it. The Tech Report had great success in programming the keyboard considering that the manual is 142 pages long so expect a bit of a steep learning curve when you first start out playing with this keyboard. You can find their review as well as a video showing off some of their colour schemes right here.
"Corsair Gaming's K70 RGB keyboard has been hotly anticipated since its debut at CES earlier this year. Does it live up to the hype? We put the keyboard and its accompanying software to the test to find out"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Mechanical Keyboard @ eTeknix
- Ozone Strike Pro Cherry MX Red USB keyboard @ Kitguru
- CM Storm NovaTouch TKL Keyboard Review @ Legit Reviews
- Cooler Master NovaTouch TKL Keyboard @ Benchmark Reviews
- XTracGear Mouse Surfaces Review @ Neoseeker
- Attitude One Rapira Elite Gaming Mouse @ techPowerUp
- Attitude One Rapira Elite Laser Gaming Mouse @ NikKTech
- Gamdias HADES Extension laser gaming mouse @ Kitguru
- Attitude One Rapira One Gaming Mouse @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech | September 30, 2014 - 01:11 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: arm, internet of things, Si106x, 108x, Silicon Labs, Intel, quark
While the Internet of Things is growing at an incredible pace the chip manufacturers which are competing for this new market segment are running into problems when trying to design chips to add to appliances. There is a balance which needs to be found between processing power and energy savings, the goal is to design very inexpensive chips which can run on microWatts of power but still be incorporate networked communication and sensors. The new Cortex-M7 is a 32-bit processor which is directly competing with 8 and 16 bit microcontrollers which provide far less features but also consume far less power. Does a smart light bulb really need to have a 32bit chip in it or will a lower cost MCU provide everything that is needed for the light to function? Intel's Quark is in a similar position, the processing power it is capable of could be a huge overkill compared to what the IoT product actually needs. The Register has made a good observation in this article, perhaps the Cortex M0 paired with an M4 or M7 when the application requires the extra horsepower is a good way for ARM to go in. Meanwhile, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 600 has been adopted to run an OS to control robots so don't think this market is going to get any less confusing in the near future.
"The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing an estimated five times more quickly than the overall embedded processing market, so it's no wonder chip suppliers are flocking to fit out connected cars, home gateways, wearables and streetlights as quickly as they can."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft's Asimov System To Monitor Users' Machines In Real Time @ Slashdot
- ARM teams with 1248 to launch Hyperweave gateway to 'IoT-enable' enterprises @ The Inquirer
- ARMs head Moonshot bodies: HP pops Applied Micro, TI chips into carts @ The Register
- Third patch brings more admin Shellshock for the battered and Bashed @ The Register
- Mining Bitcoins with Pencil and Paper @ Hack a Day
- How to Organize Your Linux File System for Clutter-Free Folders @ Linux.com
- Alien Isolation Community Preview event @ Kitguru
Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 30, 2014 - 04:15 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Windows 8.1, hp, cheap tablet, cheap computer
Before I get into the devices, the $149 HP Stream 8 tablet and certain models of the HP Stream 13 laptop (the ones with an optional 4G modem) includes "free 4G for life" for customers in the USA. Reading in the fine print, the device company apparently signed a deal with T-Mobile for 200MB/mo of 4G service. Of course, 200MB will barely cover the Windows Update regimen of certain months, but you have WiFi for that. It is free, and free is good. I can guess that T-Mobile is crossing their fingers that dripping a drop of water on the tongues of the thirsty will convince them to go to the fountain.
If it works? Great. That is just about the most honest way that I have ever seen a telecom company attract new customers.
Back to these devices. Oh right, they're cheap. They are so cheap, they barely have any technical specifications. The $199.99 HP Stream 11 laptop has an 11-inch display. The $229.99 HP Stream 13 laptop has a 13-inch display and can be configured with an optional 4G modem. Both are passively cooled (more fanless PCs...) and run on a dual-core processor. Both provide a year of Office 365 Personal subscriptions. Both are available in blueish-purple or pinkish-purple.
The two tablets (7-inch Stream 7 and 8-inch Stream 8) are a similar story. They run an x86 processor with full Windows 8.1 and a year's subscription to Office 365. Somehow, the tablets are based on Intel quad-core CPUs (rather than the laptop's passively cooled dual-cores) despite being cheaper. Then again, they could be completely different architectures.
While HP is interested in, you know, selling product, I expect that Microsoft's generous licensing terms (see also the Toshiba alternative we reported earlier) is an attempt to push their cloud services. They know that cheaper device categories cannot bare as much royalties as a fully-featured laptop, and not having a presence at those prices is conceding it to Google -- and conceding that to Google is really giving up on cloud services for those customers. The simple solution? Don't forfeit those markets, just monetize with your own cloud service. I doubt that it will harm their higher-end devices.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | September 30, 2014 - 03:33 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: iris, Intel, core m, broadwell-y, broadwell-u, Broadwell
Intel's upcoming 14nm product line, Broadwell, is expected to have six categories of increasing performance. Broadwell-Y, later branded Core M, is part of the soldered BGA family at expected TDPs of 3.5 to 4.5W. Above this is Broadwell-U, which are also BGA packages, and thus require soldering by the system builder. VR-Zone China has a list of seemingly every 15W SKU in that category. 28W TDP "U" products are expected to be available in the following quarter, but are not listed.
Image Credit: VR-Zone
As for those 15W parts though, there are seventeen (17!) of them, ranging from Celeron to Core i7. While each product is dual-core, the ones that are Core i3 and up have Hyper-Threading, increasing the parallelism to four tasks simultaneously. In terms of cache, Celerons and Pentiums will have 2MB, Core i7s will have 4MB, and everything in between will have 3MB. Otherwise, the products vary on the clock frequency they were binned (bin-sorted) at, and the integrated graphics that they contain.
Image Credit: VR-Zone
These integrated iGPUs range from "Intel HD Graphics" on the Celerons and Pentiums, to "Intel Iris Graphics 6100" on one Core i7, two Core i5s, and one Core i3. The rest pretty much alternate between Intel HD Graphics 5500 and Intel HD Graphics 6000. Maximum frequency of any given iGPU can vary within the same product, but only by about 100 MHz at the most. The exact spread is below.
- Intel HD Graphics: 300 MHz base clock, 800 MHz at load.
- Intel HD Graphics 5500: 300 MHz base clock, 850-950 MHz at load (depending on SKU).
- Intel HD Graphics 6000: 300 MHz base clock, 1000 MHz at load.
- Intel Iris Graphics 6100: 300 MHz base clock, 1000-1100 MHz at load (depending on SKU).
Unfortunately, without the number of shader units to go along with the core clock, we cannot derive a FLOP value yet. This is a very important metric for increasing resolution and shader complexity, and it would provide a relatively fair metric to compare the new parts against previous offerings for higher resolutions and quality settings, especialy in DirectX 12 I would assume.
Image Credit: VR-Zone
Probably the most interesting part to me is that "Intel HD Graphics" without a number meant GT1 with Haswell. Starting with Broadwell, it has been upgraded to GT2 (apparently). As we can see from even the 4.5W Core M processors, Intel is taking graphics seriously. It is unclear whether their intention is to respect gaming's influence on device purchases, or if they are believing that generalized GPU compute will be "a thing" very soon.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 29, 2014 - 06:41 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: fanless, nuc, haswell
The Akasa Newton X is a fanless case for the NUC form factor that was announced in May and released a couple of months ago. Now, we are beginning to see system builders (albeit in Europe) integrate it in some higher-end devices. This one, from Atlast! Solutions, is built around the Intel Core i5-4250U, up to 1.5TB of SSD storage (512GB Crucial M550 mSATA + 1TB 840 EVO SATA), and up to 16GB of RAM. It can also be configured with up to two-antenna Wireless AC.
The Core i5-4250U is a dual-core (four threads) processor that is rated for 15W TDP. Its on-chip GPU is the Intel HD Graphics 5000 with a peak, theoretical compute throughput of 704 GFLOPS. This makes it a little under three-times the graphics performance of an Xbox 360. In terms of PC games, you are looking at Battlefield 4 or Titanfall on low at 1024x768 (or basically whatever your home server can do if used as a stream-to target).
Prices currently start at £449.00 for 4GB of RAM and 60GB of mSATA SSD, including VAT.
Thanks to FanlessTech for covering this story.
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 29, 2014 - 05:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: whql, radeon, Catalyst 14.9, amd
The full release notes are available here or take a look at the highlights below.
The latest version of the AMD Catalyst Software Suite, AMD Catalyst 14.9 is designed to support the following Microsoft Windows platforms:
Highlights of AMD Catalyst 14.9 Windows Driver
- Support for the AMD Radeon R9 280
- Performance improvements (comparing AMD Catalyst 14.9 vs. AMD Catalyst 14.4)
- 3DMark Sky Diver improvements
- AMD A4 6300 – improves up to 4%
- Enables AMD Dual Graphics / AMD CrossFire support
- 3DMark Fire Strike
- AMD Radeon R9 290 Series - improves up to 5% in Performance Preset
- AMD Radeon R9 290 Series / R9 270 Series - improves up to 4% in Entry and Performance Preset
- BioShock Infinite
- AMD Radeon R9 290 Series – 1920x1080 - improves up to 5%
- Company of Heroes 2
- AMD Radeon R9 290 Series - improves up to 8%
- Crysis 3
- AMD Radeon R9 290 Series / R9 270 Series – improves up to 10%
- Grid Auto Sport
- AMD CrossFire profile
- Murdered Soul Suspect
- AMD Radeon R9 290X (2560x1440, 4x MSAA, 16x AF) – improves up to 50%
- AMD Radeon R9 290 Series / R9 270 Series – improves up to 6%
- CrossFire configurations improve scaling up to 75%
- Plants vs. Zombies (Direct3D performance improvements)
- AMD Radeon R9 290X - 1920x1080 Ultra – improves up to 11%
- AMD Radeon R9290X - 2560x1600 Ultra – improves up to 15%
- AMD Radeon R9290X CrossFire configuration (3840x2160 Ultra) - 92% scaling
- Batman Arkham Origins:
- AMD Radeon R9 290X (4x MSAA) – improves up to 20%
- CrossFire configurations see up to a 70% gain in scaling
- Power Xpress profile Performance improvements to improve smoothness of application
- Performance improves up to 30% on the AMD Radeon R9 and R7 Series of products for both single GPU and Multi-GPU configurations
- Tomb Raider
- AMD Radeon R9 290 Series – improves up to 5%
- Watch Dogs
- AMD Radeon R9 290 Series / R9 270 Series – improves up to 9%
- AMD CrossFire – Frame pacing improvement
- Improved CrossFire performance – up to 20%
- Assassin's Creed IV
- Improves CrossFire scaling (3840x2160 High Settings) up to 93% (CrossFire scaling improvement of 25% compared to AMD Catalyst 14.4)
- Improves performance for single GPU and Multi-GPU configurations
- Star Craft II
- AMD Radeon R9 290X (2560x1440, AA, 16x AF) – improves up to 20%
- 3DMark Sky Diver improvements
AMD Eyefinity enhancements
- Mixed Resolution Support
- A new architecture providing brand new capabilities
- Display groups can be created with monitors of different resolution (including difference sizes and shapes)
- Users have a choice of how surface is created over the display group
- Fill – legacy mode, best for identical monitors
- Fit – create the Eyefinity surface using best available rectangular area with attached displays
- Expand – create a virtual Eyefinity surface using desktops as viewports onto the surface
- Eyefinity Display Alignment
- Enables control over alignment between adjacent monitors
- One-Click Setup Driver detects layout of extended desktop
- Can create Eyefinity display group using this layout in one click!
- New user controls for video color and display settings
- Greater control over Video Color Management:
- Controls have been expanded from a single slider for controlling Boost and Hue to per color axis
- Color depth control for Digital Flat Panels (available on supported HDMI and DP displays)
- Allows users to select different color depths per resolution and display
AMD Mantle enhancements
- Mantle now supports AMD Mobile products with Enduro technology
- Battlefield 4: AMD Radeon HD 8970M (1366x768; high settings) – 21% gain
- Thief: AMD Radeon HD 8970M (1920x1080; high settings) – 14% gain
- Star Swarm: AMD Radeon HD 8970M (1920x1080; medium settings) – 274% gain
- Enables support for Multi-GPU configurations with Thief (requires the latest Thief update)
- AMD AM1 JPEG decoding acceleration
- JPEG decoding acceleration was first enabled on the A10 APU Series in AMD Catalyst 14.1 beta, and has now been extended to the AMD AM1 Platform
- Provides fast JPEG decompression Provides Power Efficiency for JPEG decompression
- 60Hz SST flickering has been identified as an issue with non-standard display timings exhibited by the AOC U2868PQU panel on certain AMD Radeon graphics cards. A software workaround has been implemented in the AMD Catalyst 14.9 driver to resolve the display timing issues with this display
- Users seeing flickering issues in 60Hz SST mode are further encouraged to obtain newer display firmware from their monitor vendor that will resolve flickering at its origin.
- Users are additionally advised to utilize DisplayPort-certified cables to ensure the integrity of the DisplayPort data connection.
- 4K panel flickering issues found on the AMD Radeon R9 290 Series and AMD Radeon HD 7800
- Series Screen tearing observed on AMD CrossFire systems with Eyefinity portrait display configurations
- Instability issues for Grid Autosport when running in 2x1 or 1x2 Eyefinity configurations
- Geometry corruption in State of Decay
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 29, 2014 - 03:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: noctua, water
The colours of the Noctua Industrial PPC family of fans are familiar but these 8 fans have some serious tricks up their sleeves. While most fans focus on the amount of air they can move and how quietly they can manage that feat these fans are also rated on how harsh the conditions can be while they can maintain full functionality. For instance the IP67 fans will operate perfectly even when submerged in water to a depth of 1m and provide complete protection against dust if used in air. While it is unlikely your computer will function when submerged there are builds which could take advantage of the ability to move water around. Generally these fans are intended for use cooling systems that reside in industrial plants and other harsh conditions but it is nice to know you can pick up fans specifically designed to operate in very dusty or wet environments. Check out the review at Modders Inc if the idea of having a ruggedized cooling system appeals to you.
"The Noctua Industrial PPC line packaging is similarly Spartan like the new Noctua Redux line, packed without extras such as adapters, splitters and alternate mounting options but comes with a 4-piece screw mounting kit."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Noctua iPPC and redux Fan Roundup @ Neoseeker
- Lepa LV12 CPU Cooler Review @ HiTech Legion
- Silverstone AR06 Cooler @ HardwareHeaven
- Scythe Mugen Max Review @ OCC
- Thermaltake NiC L32 Non-Interference CPU Cooler Review @ NikKTech
- Phanteks Enthoo Luxe Full Tower Computer Case Review @ Modders-Inc
- SilentiumPC Aquarius X90 Pure Black @ techPowerUp
- BitFenix Pandora @ techPowerUp
- Corsair Carbide Air 240 mATX Case Review @ Legit Reviews
- Another SPCR recommended article update - Case Basic & Recommendations
- Raijintek Agos Mid-Tower @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2014 - 02:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gigabyte, Z97X G1 Gaming GT, z97
Calling the GIGABYTE G1 Gaming GT Z97 motherboard trimmed down is a bit of an exaggeration, all that was removed was Bluetooth, WiFi and and Creative's Sound Core3D codec. It still features AMP-UP audio with swappable OP-AMPs, a E2200 KillerNIC, high quality caps, four PCIe 3.0 16x slots thanks to a PLEX chip as well as an impressive array of SATA and USB ports. At $270 it will cost you a somewhat less than choosing a new Haswell-E system and the performance in most cases will be very comparable, especially if you desire high quality audio. However not all was good once [H]ard|OCP started testing the board, while there were no insurmountable issues their overall experiences with setting up the board make this particular model difficult to recommend; read the reasons why in their full review.
"GIGABYTE’s G1 Gaming GT looks to be a stripped version of the Z97X Gaming G1 WiFi-BK. Like other offerings in the G1 family the G1 Gaming GT is a premium part representing the pinnacle of what GIGABYTE design and innovation can and should offer. We have high expectations for the G1 Gaming GT."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASUS Z97-Deluxe @ X-bit Labs
- Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- ASUS Rampage V Extreme @ HardwareHeaven
- MSI Z97 XPOWER AC Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- MSI Z97S SLI PLUS @ eTeknix
- MSI X99S Gaming 7 @ Kitguru
- ASUS X99 Deluxe Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- BIOSTAR A68N-5000 Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- MSI 970 Gaming @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 29, 2014 - 01:21 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: survey, components
The Tech Report have compiled the data from their survey of readers machines and the data is now posted in this article. You can see how your build compares to the major trends that they observed, from the number and type of monitors that you use to the amount of RAM you have installed. The most interesting page covers the odd facts which were revealed such as the overwhelming predominance of ATX boards and cases that are being used despite the fact that 75% of respondents having only a single card installed in their systems. It is also interesting to note a mere 10% of those responding use more than one GPU. Check out the findings here.
"Typical PC enthusiasts may spend more on their PCs than you might think—and by the looks of it, their taste for high-end hardware isn't just limited to core components. Those are two of the main takeaways from the TR Hardware Survey 2014, in which we invited readers to answer 26 questions about their PCs. Around 4,000 of you participated over a period of about a week and a half, and the results paint an enlightening picture of current trends in the hobbyist PC realm. "
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Cloudflare rolls out free universal SSL encryption to all users @ The Inquirer
- Ineffective Shellshock fix means hackers are still exploiting vulnerability @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft to release new inexpensive notebook solution; unlikely to receive full support from vendors @ DigiTimes
- Android smartphone vendors speeding up migration to 64-bit architecture @ DigiTimes
- BlackBerry slowly pulls out of power dive into toilet @ The Register
- HP offers 64-bit ARM processors for Moonshot servers @ The Inquirer
- Nvidia: We will focus on G-Sync, not Adaptive-Sync @ Kitguru
- Vendors stop developing touchscreen notebooks @ DigiTimes
- Unchanging Unicorn: Don't be disappointed with Ubuntu 14.10, be happy @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2014 - 03:41 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Realsense 3D, realsense, kinect, Intel
RealSense is Intel's 3D camera initiative for bringing face recognition, gesture control, speech input, and augmented reality to the PC. Its closest analogy would be Microsoft's Kinect for Windows. The technology has been presented at Intel keynotes for a while now, embodied in the "Intel Perceptual Computing SDK 2013" under its "Perceptual Computing" initiative.
Since August 31st, that has been removed from their site and replaced with the Intel RealSense SDK. While the software is free, you will probably need compatible hardware to do anything useful. None is available yet, but the "Intel RealSense Developer Kit" hardware (not to be confused with the "Intel RealSense SDK", which is software) is available for reservation at Intel's website. The camera is manufactured by Creative Labs and will cost $99. They are also very clear that this is a developer tool, and forbid it from being used in "mission critical applications". Basically, don't trust your life on it, or the lives and health of any other(s) or anything.
The developer kit will be available for many regions: the US, Canada, much of Europe, Brazil, India, China, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Russia, Israel, and Singapore.
Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2014 - 02:59 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: assassin's creed, pc gaming, ubisoft
Ubisoft's upcoming Assassin's Creed: Rogue is currently only announced for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but it might see a PC release, too. This is particularly weird because Rogue is scheduled to launch, for the two aforementioned consoles, on the same day as Assassin's Creed: Unity is scheduled for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Unless they are planning a delayed PC launch, PC gamers might receive two games, in the same franchise, on the same day.
I would have to expect that its PC release would need to be staggered though, right? I mean, how would they market two similar games at the same time? In particular, how would they market two fairly long, similar games at the same time? I mean, thanks Ubisoft, but it just seems like an unnecessary risk of market cannibalization.
About that evidence, though. PC Gamer apparently found reference to the title in the Brazillian software ratings board and the title was mentioned on one of Ubisoft's Uplay page for the PC. Those are pretty good pieces of evidence, although we need to take their word on it, which is implicitly trusting screenshots from NeoGAF. Also, PC Gamer really needs to link to the exact thread at NeoGAF because it was buried under the first several pages by the time I got there.
Assassin's Creed: Unity launches on November 11th, 2014 (not the 14th). Rogue -- maybe?
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | September 29, 2014 - 01:53 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: apple, a8, a7, Imagination Technologies, PowerVR
First, Chipworks released a dieshot of the new Apple A8 SoC (stored at archive.org). It is based on the 20nm fabrication process from TSMC, which they allegedly bought the entire capacity for. From there, a bit of a debate arose regarding what each group of transistors represented. All sources claim that it is based around a dual-core CPU, but the GPU is a bit polarizing.
Image Credit: Chipworks via Ars Technica
Most sources, including Chipworks, Ars Technica, Anandtech, and so forth believe that it is a quad-core graphics processor from Imagination Technologies. Specifically, they expect that it is the GX6450 from the PowerVR Series 6XT. This is a narrow upgrade over the G6430 found in the Apple A7 processor, which is in line with the initial benchmarks that we saw (and not in line with the 50% GPU performance increase that Apple claims). For programmability, the GX6450 is equivalent to a DirectX 10-level feature set, unless it was extended by Apple, which I doubt.
Image Source: DailyTech
DailyTech has their own theory, suggesting that it is a GX6650 that is horizontally-aligned. From my observation, their "Cluster 2" and "Cluster 5" do not look identical at all to the other four, so I doubt their claims. I expect that they heard Apple's 50% claims, expected six GPU cores as the rumors originally indicated, and saw cores that were not there.
Which brings us back to the question of, "So what is the 50% increase in performance that Apple claims?" Unless they had a significant increase in clock rate, I still wonder if Apple is claiming that their increase in graphics performance will come from the Metal API even though it is not exclusive to new hardware.
But from everything we saw so far, it is just a handful of percent better.
Subject: General Tech | September 28, 2014 - 08:30 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: mount & blade, taleworlds, mount & blade ii, bannerlord, pc gaming
The Mount & Blade franchise is enjoyed among a relatively small, dedicated group of fans. One leading reason for this uptake is the large base of third-party content from its modding community. One mod, Mount & Musket, led to the creation of a game studio, Flying Squirrel Entertainment, when the mod was picked up into an official expansion, Mount & Blade: Warband: Napoleonic Wars. Sometimes taxonomy can be proper but a little bit excessive.
Developer, TaleWorlds, builds games atop their own, proprietary engine and designs it with modders in mind. They are currently in development of Mount & Blade II: Bannerlords, a prequel to Mount & Blade: Warband. In the video, below, they explain that every feature in the video is available for third-parties. This includes painting layers of materials and foliage, generating terrain by height-maps, and tessellation.
Hopefully they also add "connect to IP"...
While the game was first announced two years ago, it is still in a "when it's done" phase. The publisher is still unknown. Paradox Interactive was attached to the first three games, and Napoleonic Wars, but are not involved with Bannerlord, according to a Reddit AMA from last year. As popular as it is, at least for what it is, TaleWorlds could even be self-publishing to digital distribution platforms like Steam, Desura, GoG, and others, but that is just speculation.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling | September 28, 2014 - 12:25 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: X99, video, maxwell, live, GTX 980, GTX 970, evga
UPDATE: If you missed the live stream with myself and Jacob, you can catch the entire event in the video below. You won't want to miss out on seeing the first ever GTX 980 water block as well as announcements on new Torq mice!
EVGA has been a busy company recently. It has continued to innovate with new coolers for the recent GTX 980 and GTX 970 card releases, newer power supplies offer unique features and improved quality and power output, a new line of X99 chipset motherboards including a Micro ATX variant and hey, the company even released a line of high-performance mice this year! PC Perspective has covered basically all of these releases (and will continue to do so with pending GPU and MB reviews) but there is a lot that needs explaining.
To help out, an industry and community favorite will be stopping by from EVGA to the PC Perspective offices: Jacob Freeman. You might know him as @EVGA_JacobF on Twitter or have seen him on countless forums, but he will making an in-person appearance on Friday, September 26th on PC Perspective Live! We plan on discussing the brand new ACX 2.0 cooler on the Maxwell GPUs released last week, go over some of highlights of the new X99 motherboards and even touch on power supplies and the Torq mice line as well.
EVGA GTX 980/970, X99, PSU and Torq Live Stream featuring Jacob Freeman
3pm ET / 12pm PT - September 26th
EVGA has been a supporter of PC Perspective for a long time and we asked them to give back to our community during this live stream - and they have stepped up! Look at this prize list:
- 1 x EVGA GeForce GTX 980 SC
- 1 x EVGA GeForce GTX 970 SC ACX 2.0
- 1 x EVGA X99 Classified
- 1 x EVGA X99 FTW
- 1 x EVGA X99 SLI
- 1 x EVGA SuperNOVA 750 G2 PSU
- 4 x Torq Mice
How can you participate and win these awesome pieces of hardware? Just be here at 3pm ET / 12pm PT on http://www.pcper.com/live and we'll be announcing winners as we go for those that tune in. It really couldn't be more simple!
If you have questions you want to ask Jacob about EVGA, or any of its line of products, please leave them in the comments section below and we'll start compiling a list to address on the live stream Friday. Who knows, we may even save some prizes for some of our favorite questions!
To make sure you don't miss our live stream events, be sure you sign up for our spam-free PC Perspective Live! Mailing List. We email that group a couple hours before each event gets started.