Intel Confirms Haswell-E, 8-core Extreme Edition with DDR4 Memory

Subject: Processors | March 19, 2014 - 08:00 PM |
Tagged: X99, Intel, Haswell-E, gdc 14, GDC, ddr4

While talking with press at GDC in San Francisco today, Intel is pulling out all the stops to assure enthusiasts and gamers that they haven't been forgotten!  Since the initial release of the first Extreme Edition processor in 2003 (Pentium 4), Intel has moved from 1.7 million transistors to over 1.8 BILLION (Ivy Bride-E). Today Intel officially confirms that Haswell-E is coming!

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Details are light, but we know now that this latest incarnation of the Extreme Edition processor will be an 8-core design, running on a new Intel X99 chipset and will be the first to support DDR4 memory technology.  I think most of us are going to be very curious about the changes, both in pricing and performance, that the new memory technology will bring to the table for enthusiast and workstation users.

Timing is only listed as the second half of 2014, so we are going to be (impatiently) waiting along with you for more details.

Though based only on leaks that we found last week, the X99 chipset and Haswell-E will continue to have 40 lanes of PCI Express but increases the amount of SATA 6G ports from two to ten (!!) and USB 3.0 ports to six.  

GDC 14: Intel Ready Mode offers low power, always connected desktops

Subject: Processors, Systems | March 19, 2014 - 08:00 PM |
Tagged: ready mode, Intel, gdc 14, GDC

Intel Ready Mode is a new technology that looks to offer some of the features of connected standby for desktop and all-in-one PCs while using new power states of the Haswell architecture to keep power consumption incredibly low.  By combining a 4th Generation Core processor from Intel, a properly implemented motherboard and platform with new Intel or OEM software, users can access the data on their system or push data to their system without "waking up" the machine.

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This feature is partially enabled by the C7 state added to the Haswell architecture with the 4th Generation Core processors but could require motherboard and platform providers to update implementations to properly support the incredibly low idle power consumption.  

To be clear, this is not a desktop implementation of Microsoft Instant Go (Connected Standby) but instead is a unique and more flexible implementation.  While MS Instant Go only works on Windows 8 and with Metro applications, Intel Ready Mode will work with Windows 7 and Windows 8 and actually keeps the machine awake and active, just at a very low power level.  This allows users to not only make sure their software is always up to date and ready when they want to use the PC but enabled access to a remote PC from a remote location - all while in this low power state.

How low?  Well Intel has a note on its slide that mentions Fujitsu launched a feature called Low Power Active Mode in 2013 that was able to hit 5 watts when leveraging the Intel guidelines. You can essentially consider this an incredibly low power "awake" state for Intel PCs.

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Intel offers up some suggested usage models for Ready Mode and I will be interested to see what OEMs integrate support for this technology and if DIY users will be able to take advantage of it as well. Lenovo, ASUS, Acer, ECS, HP and Fujitsu are supporting it this year.

Ubuntu powered Nexus 4

Subject: Mobile | March 19, 2014 - 06:27 PM |
Tagged: nexus 4, Ubuntu Mobile

We have yet to see the launch of the purpose built Ubuntu smartphones but that didn't stop The Inquirer from getting a preview of the new Ubuntu Mobile OS.  By installing the current version of the OS on a Nexus 4 they got a chance to see and use the new mobile OS.  Similar in design to the version we have seen previously on tablets it will likely feel a bit odd to those used to a multi-window OS like Android though the interface wall allow customization.  There will indeed be a Canonical App store but the open nature of Ubuntu will allow third-party stores to be set up, over and above supporting third-party apps.  Check out the hands on review here.

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"CANONICAL ANNOUNCED earlier this year that the first Ubuntu smartphones will be made by BQ and Meizu. That created a wave of interest in how the open source Linux operating system (OS) distribution will look and work on a smartphone or tablet."

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Mobile

Source: The Inquirer

Corsair Expands PC Case Line with a Trio of Carbide Series SPEC Gaming Case

Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 19, 2014 - 05:31 PM |
Tagged: SPEC gaming case, corsair

Fremont, California —March 18, 2014 — Corsair, a designer and supplier of high-performance components to the PC hardware market, today announced the Carbide SeriesTM SPEC range of gaming PC cases in three models: the SPEC-01, SPEC-02, and SPEC-03. Characterized by aggressive styling, modern features, superior air cooling, and expandability, the SPEC range offers everything gamers need from a case and nothing they don’t.

All three SPEC cases have been designed with PC gamers in mind, stripping out the unnecessary and leaving a lean and mean looking chassis that delivers great cooling and makes PC building quick and easy. The cases boast modern features such as USB 3.0 ports, native SSD mounts, and extensive cable-routing options, as well as a huge side panel window to show off the hardware inside. The black-painted interior is optimized to direct unobstructed airflow to the PC’s hottest components, with a front-mounted LED fan providing ample cooling. Tool-free drive bays and removable dust filters add to SPEC’s wide array of high-end features.

There’s plenty of room to expand inside too, with support for even the longest graphics cards, front fan mounts for dual 140mm and 120mm fans, and seven expansion slots. Whatever version of SPEC gamers choose, they will have a case with the flexibility to handle years of upgrades.

“Entry level cases are usually antiquated, old designs. Some still have room for floppy drives,” said George Makris, Product Manager at Corsair. “With the addition of the Carbide Series SPEC to our line, gamers can now get a case with modern features and great styling combined with superior cooling and expandability at a fantastic price.”

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Carbide Series SPEC Specifications

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Pricing, Availability, and Warranty

The SPEC-01 case has a suggested retail price of $49.99 USD and the SPEC-02 and SPEC-03 cases have suggested retail prices of $59.99 USD. The cases will be available in April from Corsair’s worldwide network of authorized distributors and resellers. All are backed with a limited 2-year warranty and Corsair customer service and technical support.

Source: Corsair

GDC 14: CRYENGINE To Support Mantle, AMD Gets Another Endorsement

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 19, 2014 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: Mantle, gdc 14, GDC, crytek, CRYENGINE

While I do not have too many details otherwise, Crytek and AMD have announced that mainline CRYENGINE will support the Mantle graphics API. CRYENGINE, by Crytek, now sits alongside Frostbite, by Dice, and Nitrous, by Oxide Games, as engines which support that alternative to DirectX and OpenGL. This comes little more than a week after their announcement of native Linux support with their popular engine.

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The tape has separate draw calls!

Crytek has been "evaluating" the API for quite some time now, showing interest back at the AMD Developer Summit. Since then, they have apparently made a clear decision on it. It is also not the first time that CRYENGINE has been publicly introduced to Mantle, with Chris Robert's Star Citizen, also powered by the 4th Generation CRYENGINE, having announced support for the graphics API. Of course, there is a large gap between having a licensee do legwork to include an API and having the engine developer provide you supported builds (that would be like saying UnrealEngine 3 supports the original Wii).

Hopefully we will learn more as GDC continues.

Editor's (Ryan) Take:

As the week at GDC has gone on, AMD continues to push forward with Mantle and calls Crytek's implementation of the low level API "a huge endorsement" of the company's direction and vision for the future. Many, including myself, have considered that the pending announcement of DX12 would be a major set back for Mantle but AMD claims that is "short sited" and as more developers come into the Mantle ecosystem it is proof AMD is doing the "right thing."  

Here at GDC, AMD told us they have expanded the number of beta Mantle members dramatically with plenty more applications (dozens) in waiting.  Obviously this could put a lot of strain on AMD for Mantle support and maintenance but representatives assure us that the major work of building out documentation and development tools is nearly 100% behind them.

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If stories like this one over at Semiaccurate are true, and that Microsoft's DirectX 12 will be nearly identical to AMD Mantle, then it makes sense that developers serious about new gaming engines can get a leg up on projects by learning Mantle today. Applying that knowledge to the DX12 API upon its release could speed up development and improve implementation efficiency. From what I am hearing from the few developers willing to even mention DX12, Mantle is much further along in its release (late beta) than DX12 is (early alpha).

AMD indeed was talking with and sharing the development of Mantle with Microsoft "every step of the way" and AMD has stated on several occasions that there were two outcomes with Mantle; it either becomes or inspires a new industry standard in game development. Even if DX12 is more or less a carbon copy of Mantle, forcing NVIDIA to implement that API style with DX12's release, AMD could potentially have the advantage of gaming performance and support between now and Microsoft's DirectX release.  That could be as much as a full calendar year from reports we are getting at GDC.  

You can go Homeworld again; Gearbox has some great news

Subject: General Tech | March 19, 2014 - 04:15 PM |
Tagged: Homeworld, Homeworld 2, kick ass, Homeworld Remastered, gearbox

If you never had the chance to play Homeworld and Homeworld 2 then there is some good news you should hear; if you did play them then the news is even better!   Gearbox is not just re-releasing the two games they have redone the cinematics, models, textures and effects, plus support for up to 4K resolution.  The news at Rock, Paper SHOTGUN makes it sound like some content from mods might be included as well as revamped multiplayer.  Maybe they will up the quality to the point where some later levels chug just as hard as they did when you first sat down in front of your mothership.

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"We learned last year that Gearbox were planning to re-release the enormously loved Homeworld games. Having plucked the license from the THQ jumble sale, apparently because their Chief Creative Officer Brian Martel has maximum love for the series, they made clear their intentions to release an HD version of the first two games. They’re upping their terminology now, from “HD” to “Remastered“."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Ray Tracing is back? That's Wizard!

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 19, 2014 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: Imagination Technologies, gdc 14, wizard, ray tracing

The Tech Report visited Imagination Technologies' booth at GDC where they were showing off a new processor, the Wizard GPU.  It is based on the PowerVR Series6XT Rogue graphics processor which is specifically designed to accelerate ray tracing performance, a topic we haven't heard much about lately.  They describe the performance as capable of processing 300 million rays and 100 million dynamic triangles per second which translates to 7 to 10 rays per pixel at 720p and 30Hz or 3 to 5 rays a pixel at 1080p and 30Hz.  That is not bad, though Imagination Technologies estimates movies display at a rate of 16 to 32 rays per pixel so it may be a while before we see a Ray Tracing slider under Advanced Graphics Options.

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"When we visited Imagination Technologies at CES, they were showing off some intriguing hardware that augments their GPUs in order to accelerate ray-traced rendering. Ray tracing is a well-known and high-quality form of rendering that relies on the physical simulation of light rays bouncing around in a scene. Although it's been used in movies and in static scene creation, ray tracing has generally been too computationally intensive to be practical for real-time graphics and gaming. However, Imagination Tech is looking to bring ray-tracing to real-time graphics—in the mobile GPU space, no less—with its new family of Wizard GPUs."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

GDC 14: WebCL 1.0 Specification is Released by Khronos

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 19, 2014 - 09:03 AM |
Tagged: WebCL, gdc 14, GDC

The Khronos Group has just ratified the standard for WebCL 1.0. The API is expected to provide a massive performance boost to web applications which are dominated by expensive functions which can be offloaded to parallel processors, such as GPUs and multi-core CPUs. Its definition also allows WebCL to communicate and share buffers between it and WebGL with an extension.

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Frequent readers of the site might remember that I have a particular interest in WebCL. Based on OpenCL, it allows web apps to obtain a list of every available compute device and target it for workloads. I have personally executed tasks on an NVIDIA GeForce 670 discrete GPU and other jobs on my Intel HD 4000 iGPU, at the same time, using the WebCL prototype from Tomi Aarnio of Nokia Research. The same is true for users with multiple discrete GPUs installed in their system (even if they are not compatible with Crossfire, SLi, or are from different vendors altogether). This could be very useful for physics, AI, lighting, and other game middleware packages.

Still, browser adoption might be rocky for quite some time. Google, Mozilla, and Opera Software were each involved in the working draft. This leaves both Apple and Microsoft notably absent. Even then, I am not sure how much interest exists within Google, Mozilla, and Opera to take it from a specification to a working feature in their browsers. Some individuals have expressed more faith in WebGL compute shaders than WebCL.

Of course, that can change with just a single "killer app", library, or middleware.

I do expect some resistance from the platform holders, however. Even Google has been pushing back on OpenCL support in Android, in favor of their "Renderscript" abstraction. The performance of a graphics processor is also significant leverage for a native app. There is little, otherwise, that cannot be accomplished with Web standards except a web browser itself (and there is even some non-serious projects for that). If Microsoft can support WebGL, however, there is always hope.

The specification is available at the Khronos website.

Source: Khronos

GDC 14: EGL 1.5 Specification Released by Khronos

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 19, 2014 - 09:02 AM |
Tagged: OpenGL ES, opengl, opencl, gdc 14, GDC, EGL

The Khronos Group has also released their ratified specification for EGL 1.5. This API is at the center of data and event management between other Khronos APIs. This version increases security, interoperability between APIs, and support for many operating systems, including Android and 64-bit Linux.

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The headline on the list of changes is the move that EGLImage objects makes, from the realm of extension into EGL 1.5's core functionality, giving developers a reliable method of transferring textures and renderbuffers between graphics contexts and APIs. Second on the list is the increased security around creating a graphics context, primarily designed for WebGL applications which any arbitrary website can become. Further down the list is the EGLSync object which allows further partnership between OpenGL (and OpenGL ES) and OpenCL. The GPU may not need CPU involvement when scheduling between tasks on both APIs.

During the call, the representative also wanted to mention that developers have asked them to bring EGL back to Windows. While it has not happened yet, they have announced that it is a current target.

The EGL 1.5 spec is available at the Khronos website.

Source: Khronos

GDC 14: SYCL 1.2 Provisional Spec Released by Khronos

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 19, 2014 - 09:01 AM |
Tagged: SYCL, opencl, gdc 14, GDC

To gather community feedback, the provisional specification for SYCL 1.2 has been released by The Khronos Group. SYCL extends itself upon OpenCL with the C++11 standard. This technology is built on another Khronos platform, SPIR, which allows the OpenCL C programming language to be mapped onto LLVM, with its hundreds of compatible languages (and Khronos is careful to note that they intend for anyone to make their own compatible alternative langauge).

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In short, SPIR allows many languages which can compile into LLVM to take advantage of OpenCL. SYCL is the specification for creating C++11 libraries and compilers through SPIR.

As stated earlier, Khronos wants anyone to make their own compatible language:

While SYCL is one possible solution for developers, the OpenCL group encourages innovation in programming models for heterogeneous systems, either by building on top of the SPIR™ low-level intermediate representation, leveraging C++ programming techniques through SYCL, using the open source CLU libraries for prototyping, or by developing their own techniques.

SYCL 1.2 supports OpenCL 1.2 and they intend to develop it alongside OpenCL. Future releases are expected to support the latest OpenCL 2.0 specification and keep up with future developments.

The SYCL 1.2 provisional spec is available at the Khronos website.

Source: Khronos

Samsung 840 EVO 1TB SSD for $469, 750GB for $388

Subject: General Tech, Storage | March 18, 2014 - 06:58 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, ocz, Intel, corsair

Back in January I wrote a short editorial that asked the question: "Is now the time to buy an SSD?" At that time we were looking at a combination of price drops with a lack of upcoming hardware releases. Since that published we have seen the release of the Intel 730 Series SSDs and even the new Crucial M550.  While those are interesting drives to be sure (review pending on the M550), they aren't changing our opinions on the currently available, and incredibly cheap, solid state options.

While looking for some new hardware for the office, I found that the 1TB Samsung 840 EVO is now at an all time low $469!  That is one of the faster SSDs on the market, and one of Allyn's favorites, for $0.469/GB!!  I have included an updated table below with some of the most popular SSDs and their prices.  

Series Capacity Cost/GB Price
Samsung 840 EVO 120 GB $0.69/GB $83 - Amazon
  250 GB $0.55/GB $139 - Amazon
  500 GB $0.51/GB $259 - Amazon
  750 GB $0.51/GB $388 - Amazon
  1000 GB $0.46/GB $469 - Amazon
Samsung 840 Pro 128 GB $0.92/GB $119 - Amazon
  256 GB $0.77/GB $199 - Amazon
  512 GB $0.74/GB $413 - Amazon
Intel 530 Series 120 GB $0.91/GB $89 - Amazon
  180 GB $0.80/GB $144 - Amazon
  240 GB $0.62/GB $149 - Amazon
  480 GB $0.87/GB $419 - Amazon
Crucial M500 Series 120 GB $0.57/GB $69 - Amazon
  240 GB $0.49/GB $119 - Amazon
  480 GB $0.47/GB $229 - Amazon
  960 GB $0.45/GB $439 - Amazon

The biggest price drops were seen in the higher capacity drives including, the Samsung 840 EVO 1TB and 750GB models, the Intel 530 Series 480GB drive and even the Crucial M500 960GB and 480GB drives.  Numerically the best value is with the 960GB Crucial M500 drive at $0.45/GB but it is followed very closely by that 1TB Samsung 840 EVO.  

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As of now, the Intel 730 Series of SSDs is available for sale on Amazon.com but their price per GB comparisons don't really match that of the EVO or M500.  They are great drives, just read Allyn's review to see the proof of that, but they are targeted at the very performance conscious.  The Crucial M550 is brand new, and looks interesting; expect us to dive more into that line very soon.

For me personally, grabbing a 750GB SSD is incredibly enticing and I think I'll find a handful in my cart to update our older 180GB SSD test beds.

Just Delivered: MSI Radeon R9 290X Lightning

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 18, 2014 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, msi, just delivered, amd, 290x lightning, 290x

While Ryan may be en route to the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco right now, work must go on at the PC Perspective office. As it happens my arrival at the office today was greeted by a massively exciting graphics card, the MSI Radeon R9 290X Lightning.

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While we first got our hands on a prerelease version of this card at CES earlier this year, we can now put the Lightning edition through its paces.

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To go along with this massive graphics card comes a massive box. Just like the GTX 780 Lightning, MSI paid extra detail to the packaging to create a more premium-feeling experience than your standard reference design card.

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Comparing the 290X Lightning to the AMD reference design, it is clear how much engineering went into this card - the heatpipe and fins alone are as thick as the entire reference card. This, combined with a redesigned PCB and improved power management should ensure that you never fall victim to the GPU clock variance issues of the reference design cards, and give you one of the best overclocking experiences possible from the Hawaii GPU.

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While I haven't had a chance to start benchmarking yet, I put it on the testbed and figured I would give a little preview of what you can expect from this card out of the box.

Stay tuned for more coverage of the MSI Radeon R9 290X Lightning and our full review, coming soon on PC Perspective!

Source: MSI

OCZ Partners With AMD at GDC to Showcase Solid-State Supercharged Systems for Gaming Professionals

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 18, 2014 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: gdc 14, amd, ocz, Vector 150

If you make it to the Game Developers Conference this year make sure to pay a visit to the AMD booth where you can get a look at OCZ's Vector 150 drives in action.  They aim to show that these drives are not only good for the gamer, they are good for the game designer as well.

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OCZ Vector 150 SSDs on Display at AMD Booth #1024, March 17-21 in San Francisco, CA

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SAN JOSE, CA - March 17, 2014 - OCZ Storage Solutions - a Toshiba Group Company and leading provider of high-performance solid state drives (SSDs) for computing devices and systems, today announced its partnership with AMD to showcase the power of high performance technology at the Game Developer Conference (GDC) March 17-21 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA. AMD's demo systems will feature best-in-class Vector 150 Series solid state drives demonstrating how developers can enhance productivity and efficiency in their work.

"We are excited to partner with AMD for the upcoming Game Developers Conference to support the fast growing interactive game development industry," said Alex Mei, CMO for OCZ Storage Solutions. "OCZ is dedicated to delivering premium solid state storage solutions that are not only a useful tool for developers, but also meet the unique demands of enthusiasts and gamers on all levels."

"Our presence at the 2014 Game Developer Conference will feature a number of high-performance gaming systems running 24/7 in harsh conditions," said Darren McPhee, director of product marketing, Graphics Business Unit, AMD. "We knew that OCZ Vector SSDs were uniquely ready to meet the reliability requirements of our gaming installations. Between the high performance graphics of AMD Radeon™ GPUs and the fast load times of OCZ Vector SSDs, visitors to AMD's booth in the South Hall are in for a great gaming experience!"

GDC is the world's largest game industry event, attracting over 23,000 professionals including programmers, artists, producers, designers, audio professionals, business decision-makers, and other digital gaming industry authorities. OCZ's premium Vector 150 Series, designed for workstation users along with bleeding-edge enthusiasts, will be in AMD systems that promote improved CPU and GPU performance, enhanced rendering, speed, and overall system performance. Professional developer applications demand peak transfer speeds and ultra-high performance; OCZ SSDs offer 100 times faster access to data, quicker boot ups, faster file transfers, and a more responsive computing experience than hard drives.

GDC enables OCZ to team up with valued industries partners like AMD to reaffirm the Company's commitment to the gaming segment, and promote the use of flash storage for both developers and the gamers themselves.

Phanteks makes watercooling easier with the Enthoo Primo

Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 17, 2014 - 04:43 PM |
Tagged: phanteks, Enthoo Primo Ultimate Chassis, full tower

With watercooling becoming more and more common some manufactures are trying to make it easier by designing cases which are set up to accommodate radiators. Phanteks' Enthoo Primo Ultimate is a pefect example as it ships with a bracket to help you install a radiator with up to two 140mm fans.  Pet owners will love the filtres set up on all intake ports on this case including ones on the bottom which are very easily accessible.  [H]ard|OCP were very impressed with this case; even more so when you consider this is Phanteks' first foray into this part of the cooling market.

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"Phanteks is known for its wide variety of fans, but is broadening its brush stroke by now building its own computer cases. The Enthoo Primo Ultimate Chassis is a full tower computer case that promises the "Ultimate Water Cooling Solution," as well as removable filters, and a thermally isolated PSU location."

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

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

OCZ is still putting out; revisit the Vertex 460

Subject: Storage | March 17, 2014 - 02:46 PM |
Tagged: vertex 460, ssd, sata, ocz, Indilinx Barefoot, 19nm

If you had any questions left after Al's review of the new OCZ Vertex 460 series then you can take another look at it today.  This tiny 7mm drive is perfect for Ultrabooks and other slim devices as well as fitting into any system that wants a boost to storage speeds.  The 240GB model that Hardware Canucks reviewed sports two 256MB DDR3-1333 DIMMs for cache to keep the Barefoot 3 M10 controller working full out transferring data between the 19nm NAND storage.  Those of you who have not yet upgraded to a SATA 6Gbps controller may be especially interested in the SATA II performance which is covered in the full review.

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"OCZ has begun a major turn-around and the Vertex 460 is meant to be their price / performance leader. With a barefoot controller and 19nm MLC NAND, it certainly has what it takes. "

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

The internet may be getting a little more international

Subject: General Tech | March 17, 2014 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: Internet, icann, iana, ntia

The root DNS of the internet has been run by National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a division of of the US Government though in truth they contracted out this responsibility to the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and their Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.   This will not really change much in the way that the root DNS has handled but is more a handover of official responsibility as the US Government hands off it's past role as overseer of the internet.  If ICANN and IANA are unfamiliar to you then pop over to The Register for a very brief overview of what they actually do.

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"The US Department of Commerce is ready to leave the keys to the internet's worldwide DNS system in the hands of non-profit net overseer ICANN."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

GDC 14: OpenGL ES 3.1 Spec Released by Khronos Group

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 17, 2014 - 09:01 AM |
Tagged: OpenGL ES, opengl, Khronos, gdc 14, GDC

Today, day one of Game Developers Conference 2014, the Khronos Group has officially released the 3.1 specification for OpenGL ES. The main new feature, brought over from OpenGL 4, is the addition of compute shaders. This opens GPGPU functionality to mobile and embedded devices for applications developed in OpenGL ES, especially if the developer does not want to add OpenCL.

The update is backward-compatible with OpenGL ES 2.0 and 3.0 applications, allowing developers to add features, as available, for their existing apps. On the device side, most functionality is expected to be a driver update (in the majority of cases).

opengl-es-logo.png

OpenGL ES, standing for OpenGL for Embedded Systems but is rarely branded as such, delivers what they consider the most important features from the graphics library to the majority of devices. The Khronos Group has been working toward merging ES with the "full" graphics library over time. The last release, OpenGL ES 3.0, was focused on becoming a direct subset of OpenGL 4.3. This release expands upon the feature-space it occupies.

OpenGL ES also forms the basis for WebGL. The current draft of WebGL 2.0 uses OpenGL ES 3.0 although that was not discussed today. I have heard murmurs (not from Khronos) about some parties pushing for compute shaders in that specification, which this announcement puts us closer to.

The new specification also adds other features, such as the ability to issue a draw without CPU intervention. You could imagine a particle simulation, for instance, that wants to draw the result after its compute shader terminates. Shading is also less rigid, where vertex and fragment shaders do not need to be explicitly linked into a program before they are used. I inquired about the possibility that compute devices could be targetted (for devices with two GPUs) and possibly load balanced, in a similar method to WebCL but no confirmation or denial was provided (although he did mention that it would be interesting for apps that fall somewhere in the middle of OpenGL ES and OpenCL).

The OpenGL ES 3.1 spec is available at the Khronos website.

Source: Khronos

An SSD Supercomputer?

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2014 - 10:27 PM |
Tagged: supercomputer, solid state drive, NSF, flash memory

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We know that SSD's help any system perform better by reducing the storage bottlenecks we all experienced from hard disk drives. But how far can flash storage go in increasing performance if money is no object?? Enter the multi-million dollar world of supercomputers. Historically supercomputers have relied on the addition of more CPU cores to increase performance, but two new system projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) will try a different approach: obscene amounts of high-speed flash storage!

The news comes as the NSF is requesting a cool $7 billion in research money for 2015, and construction has apparently already begun on two new storage-centered supercomputers. Memory and high-speed flash storage arrays will be loaded on the Wrangler supercomputer at Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), and the Comet supercomputer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC).

Check out the crazy numbers from the TACC's Wrangler: a combination of 120 servers, each with Haswell-based Xeon CPU's, and a total of 10 petabytes (10,000TB!) of high performance flash data storage. The NSF says the supercomputer will have 3,000 processing cores dedicated to data analysis, with flash storage layers for analytics. The Wrangler supercomputer's bandwidth is said to be 1TB/s, with 275 million IOPS! By comparison, the Comet supercomputer will have “only” 1,024 Xeon CPU cores, with a 7 petabyte high-speed flash storage array. (Come on, guys... That’s like, wayyy less bytes.)

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Supercomputer under construction…probably (Image credit CBS/Paramount)

The supercomputers are part of the NSF's “Extreme Digital” (XD) research program, and their current priorities are "relevant to the problems faced in computing today”. Hmm, kind of makes you want to run a big muilti-SSD deathwish RAID, huh?

March Madness: Join the PC Perspective Bracket Challenge!!

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2014 - 05:48 PM |
Tagged: march madness, contest

Well, it was a heart breaking game for my University of Kentucky Wildcats, but I'm looking forward to the NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament all the more!  In the past we have run PC Perspective bracket competitions and I had a couple of requests to do the same for 2014.

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If you are interested in joining the gang at PC Perspective for this years March Madness bracket challenge all you have to do is visit our CBSSports.com page and register an account.  You can then make your selections and see how well you predict the college basketball landscape for the tournament.

  • Visit http://www.cbssports.com/fantasy/universal
  • Select "Mayhem" as the sport
  • Input "pcper2014" as the league abbreviation
  • Password: "gobigblue"
  • Sign up for a spot!
  • Pick your bracket after the selection show tonight!
  • Win some stuff!

For the winners we are going to offer up some extra hardware we have here at the office BUT I haven't put together the list just yet.  I'm going to be asking the other editors what we have not being used and I'll update this post as soon as we come up with a final answer.

For now though, sign up, have fun and good luck!!

(Yes, you can enter from ANYWHERE in the world for this!)

Source: CBS Sports

Mozilla Dumps "Metro" Version of Firefox

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | March 16, 2014 - 03:27 AM |
Tagged: windows, mozilla, microsoft, Metro

If you use the Firefox browser on a PC, you are probably using its "Desktop" application. They also had a version for "Modern" Windows 8.x that could be used from the Start Screen. You probably did not use it because fewer than 1000 people per day did. This is more than four orders of magnitude smaller than the number of users for Desktop's pre-release builds.

Yup, less than one-thousandth.

22-mozilla-2.jpg

Jonathan Nightingale, VP of Firefox, stated that Mozilla would not be willing to release the product without committing to its future development and support. There was not enough interest to take on that burden and it was not forecast to have a big uptake in adoption, either.

From what we can see, it's pretty flat.

The code will continue to exist in the organization's Mercurial repository. If "Modern" Windows gets a massive influx of interest, they could return to what they had. It should also be noted that there never was a version of Firefox for Windows RT. Microsoft will not allow third-party rendering engines as a part of their Windows Store certification requirements (everything must be based on Trident, the core of Internet Explorer). That said, this is also true of iOS and Firefox Junior exists with these limitations. It's not truly Firefox, little more than a re-skinned Safari (as permitted by Apple), but it exists. I have heard talks about Firefox Junior for Windows RT, Internet Explorer reskinned by Mozilla, but not to any detail. The organization is very attached to its own technology because, if whoever made the engine does not support new features or lags in JavaScript performance, the re-skins have nothing to leverage it.

Paul Thurrott of WinSupersite does not blame Mozilla for killing "Metro" Firefox. He acknowledges that they gave it a shot and did not see enough pre-release interest to warrant a product. He places some of the blame on Microsoft for the limitations it places on browsers (especially on Windows RT). In my opinion, this is just a symptom of the larger problem of Windows post-7. Hopefully, Microsoft can correct these problems and do so in a way that benefits their users (and society as a whole).

Source: Mozilla