$50 Roku Streaming Stick Is A Google Chromecast Alternative

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2014 - 02:13 AM |
Tagged: streaming stick, roku, Netflix, media streaming, chromecast

Roku has launched a new Streaming Stick for HD TVs with HDMI inputs. The small USB flash drive-sized device is powered by USB and plugs into the HDMI input of your television. From there, users can access the Roku app store to get thousands of streaming media channels including television, movies, sports, and music. For example, users can access media from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, VUDU, Pandora, and Spotify.

The Roku Streaming Stick can pass up to 1080p video and 7.1 channel digital audio to the TV. It can be controlled via a physical remote or an Android or iOS smartphone application. Roku is using RF for the hardware remote and Wi-Fi direct for the smartphone-to-Streaming Stick connection, which means that line of sight is not necessary (which is important since most TV HDMI ports are recessed on the back panel). Speaking of wireless, the Streaming Stick pulls its media from a Wi-Fi network connection, with support for dual band 802.11 a/b/g/n networks (2.4GHz or 5GHz).

Roku Streaming Stick HDMI Version.jpg

Using the smartphone application, users can browse for and queue content. In general, the Roku stick can go out and fetch media on its own without a smartphone or computer intermediary passing the content. However, it does support limited “casting” functionality similar to Google’s Chromecast. In this mode, users, can pass YouTube, Netflix, and personal (on device) media over to the TV from the smartphone. Roku has stated that casting support for other media streams and casting from a PC is coming in the future.

Roku’s new Chromecast competitor is available for pre-order now for $49.99 with availability expected in April. The price is on the high side, but it does offer access to all of Roku’s channels, a physical remote for basic playback and navigation controls, is able to stream media on its own, and is also able to do media push functionality similar to the Chromecast (but in a more limited fashion at the moment). More devices and competition in this space is a good thing though!

Will you be picking up a Roku Streaming Stick or holding out for something else?

Source: Roku

It would seem tenkeyless is now a word thanks to the CM QuickFire Stealth

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2014 - 04:48 PM |
Tagged: input, cooler master, CM Storm QuickFire Stealth, mechanical keyboard

As you can see in the picture the word refers to the lack of a numpad, which trims down the size of the QuickFire Stealth, though the 2.1lbs weight may surprise you.  You can choose the Cherry switch colour of your choice, a nice touch for the typing purist and it comes with the standard Vengeance key removal tool for customizing your keyboard layout.  The USB cord is completely detachable making this a relatively portable device and it even has a USB to PS/2 adapter if you are that type of person.  Check out The Tech Report's full review here.

long.jpg

"With a tenkeyless design and "covert" lettering on the key caps, Cooler Master's QuickFire Stealth isn't your average mechanical keyboard. We take a closer look at how it differs from the masses."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Corsair's Vengeance 1400 Gaming Headset and other goodies

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2014 - 02:52 PM |
Tagged: M65 Gaming Mouse, K70 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, Corsair Vengeance, corsair, audio, 1400 Gaming Headset

Bjorn3D looks at some new members to Corsair's Vengeance family including a mouse, mechanical keyboard and the 1400 Gaming Headset.  This headset is refreshingly plain considering the bright colours most of the competition is currently using on their headsets.  The 50mm drivers imply decent bass response but unfortunately that was not the experience that Bjorn3D had with this headset, though overall sound was pleasantly clear.  For the $80 asking price you get what you would expect, decent headphones with little in the way of accessories or extras but perfect for gamers on a budget. 

Vengeance-1400-5-340x287.jpg

"Today we have a chance to look at a full gaming gear set from the team at Digital storm which is now a partner with Corsair, so the gear you see here today are all available as accessories to the high-end systems offerings from the team at Digital Storm. This package consists of the Corsair Vengeance M65 Gaming Mouse, the Corsair Vengeance K70 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard and the Corsair Vengeance 1400 Gaming Headset."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: Bjorn3D

TSMC scores a big win over Samsung

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2014 - 02:02 PM |
Tagged: apple, Samsung, TSMC, rumour

According to the inside information that The Inquirer acquired, the next generation of Apple's SoC will be fabbed by TSMC not Samsung.  The A8 will be a 64bit quad-core processor of unknown speed with a GPU described as a four-cluster configuration similar to the PowerVR G6430.  This is not terribly surprising considering the abusive relationship that Apple and Samsung have developed over the past few years and will certainly swell TSMC's coffers.  Even better TSMC will also pick up the manufacturing other parts of a variety of Apple devices, check the (rumoured) list out here.

index.jpg

"The next generation of Apple's custom system on a chip (SoC) for mobile devices will be manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) rather than Samsung, and so will several other chips to be used in the forthcoming iPhone 6, a report has claimed."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Razer Designs New Mechanical Switches

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | March 6, 2014 - 10:22 PM |
Tagged: razer, Cherry MX, cherry, mechanical keyboard

So Razer has a history of doing the unexpected. The peripheral manufacturer has branched out into other segments, including laptops, tablets, software, exercise equipment, and so forth. Their April Fools announcements are often hilarious but their real products sometimes feel as far-fetched, except that they release and apparently find an audience. If Project Christine comes out then it would be the best example, but Project Fiona and the Razer Blade seemed just as unlikely - and I've seen multiple Blades in the wild.

And yet it is their keyboard announcement which surprises me, today.

It turns out that Razer decided to design their own key switch modules, instead of ordering them off-the-shelf from ZF Electronics (Cherry). Razer will not manufacture these key modules, and they look enough like Cherry MX switches that I could guess who their third party manufacturer is, but they did push their own specifications. Razer claims that the main advantage is a higher actuation point, leading to less latency between when your finger starts moving, and when it has moved enough to activate the button.

Razer has developed two switches: "Green", which is their analogy of the Cherry MX Blue, and "Orange", which is analogous to the Cherry MX Brown. The former is clicky while the latter has a relatively silent bump.

The Green switches are available in the BlackWidow, BlackWidow Tournament, and BlackWidow (with the Orange switches in each Stealth variant). Some models will ship in late March with the rest shipping in April.

Source: Razer

A new way to recommend system builds

Subject: Systems | March 6, 2014 - 07:18 PM |
Tagged: DIY, system build

The Tech Report have re-imagined their system build for this update, with what they describe as being more focused on the individual components as opposed to the entire build.  While they still provide different levels of machines, the Budget, Sweet Spot and and High End they spend more time explaining why a particular component was chosen and in some cases offer you a choice of multiple components.  Now the pages are set up to describe the components for each build as opposed to each build having a separate page.  Check out their new format and see what you think.

4770k-in-socket.jpg

"We've reworked our famous TR System Guide with a new, component-centric format, which tells readers not just which components to choose, but also how to choose them."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Overclocking an R9 290X is easy; testing it not so much

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2014 - 04:21 PM |
Tagged: xfx, R9 290X, Double Dissipation Edition, amd, overclocking

Overclocking a video card is easier than it ever has been thanks to the various driver level tweaks and third party applications but testing the performance of overclocked cards just keeps getting harder.  Warm up times have become a vital part of testing thanks to both NVIDIA and AMD providing dynamic clock speeds based on load and temperature; doing only a few short benchmarks no longer provides an accurate assessment of performance.  This is why [H]ard|OCP has revisited the XFX R9 290X Double Dissipation Edition to see the effects of overclocking.  They tested both single card configurations and Crossfire with default voltage and after bumping the juice up a bit.  Check it all out right here.

1393271685gLxqNW5QLa_1_3_l.jpg

"We have already reviewed the XFX R9 290X DD. It is now time to see how far we can overclock the XFX R9 290X Double Dissipation Edition video card. We will be looking at single card performance advantages as well as CrossFire performance advantages by overclocking two XFX R9 290X video cards."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Podcast #290 - Intel SSD 730, ASUS Maximus VI Formula, DirectX 12 and more!

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2014 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: video, podcast, asus, amd, AM1, Maximus VI Formula, Intel, ssd, SSD 730, DirectX 12, GDC, coolermaster, CMStorm, R9 290X, Bay Trail

PC Perspective Podcast #290 - 03/06/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the Intel SSD 730, ASUS Maximus VI Formula, DirectX 12 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: 1:27:52
  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:41:43 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:
  5. Closing/outro

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

An android app you really should install

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2014 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: security, Android, antimalware, PUPs

Malwarebytes have recently updated their Android app to hunt down and slay PUPs, aka potentially unwanted programs or bloatware.  These are the apps which harvest an excessive amount of personal data without making it clear why they do so as well as those which use questionable tricks to present ads to the user even when they are not actively using those apps.  This is more than security, it will hunt down apps that drain the battery or simply demand more access that they reasonably should.  This could be somewhat of a concern for developers who's apps are flagged as PUPs but the user will get the choice to allow the app to continue to run as it has in the past.  Learn more at The Inquirer.

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"ANTI-MALWARE FIRM Malwarebytes has updated its free mobile security app to protect users from the rise of what it calls "Potentially Unwanted Programs" (PUPs) affecting Android users."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Biostar Launches AM1M AM1 Platform Motherboard Series

Subject: Motherboards | March 6, 2014 - 02:44 AM |
Tagged: mini ITX, micro ATX, Kabini, GCN, FS1B, biostar, AM1

Biostar has officially launched three new AM1 platform motherboards that support AMD's latest Kabini-based desktop SoC. The new Biostar hardware falls under the new AM1M series and includes the micro ATX AM1m-HP board and two mini ITX boards: the AM1MH and AM1ML.

Biostar AM1m-HP Micro ATX Kabini AM1 Platform Motherboard.jpg

All three boards feature a FS1B SoC socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, two SATA III 6Gbps ports, one PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot (running at x4 speeds), one PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot, Gigabit Ethernet, and 5.1 channel audio. The micro ATX AM1M-HP adds a legacy PCI slot to the mix. In an interesting twist, Biostar has oriented the memory horizontally above the FS1B socket rather than vertically and to the right of the socket.

Biostar AM1MH Mini ITX Kabini AM1 Platform Motherboard.jpg

Rear I/O on the AM1M-HP and AM1MH boards includes:

  • 2 x PS/2
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x VGA
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x RJ45 (GbE)
  • 3 x analog audio

The other mini ITX board (the AM1ML) has the same rear IO configuration minus the HDMI video output.

Biostar AM1ML Mini ITX Kabini AM1 Platform Motherboard.jpg

Biostar has not released pricing or availability information, but the boards should ship sometime in mid-April.

Also read: AMD Releases the AM1 Platform: Socketed Kabini APU

Source: Biostar

ASRock Unveils New AM1 Platform Motherboards For Socketed Kabini SoCs

Subject: Motherboards | March 6, 2014 - 01:33 AM |
Tagged: SoC, mini ITX, micro ATX, Kabini, FS1B, asrock, AM1

ASRock has joined the AM1 Platform fray with three of its own FS1B socketed motherboards: the AM1B-M, AM1B-ITX, and AM1H-ITX. The new motherboards come in Mini ITX and Micro ATX form factors that support all of Kabini’s I/O options including USB 3.0, SATA III, and PCI-E 2.0 connections.

ASRock AM1B-ITX(m).jpg

The two mini ITX motherboards (the AM1B-ITX and AM1H-ITX) feature a FS1B SoC socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, four SATA III 6Gbps ports, and a single PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot running at PCI-E 2.0 x4. ASRock is using two SATA III ports from the Kabini SoC and two SATA III ports from an ASMedia ASM1061 chipset. Both boards utilize the Realtek RTL8111GR NIC to provide gigabit Ethernet.

ASRock AM1H-ITX(m).jpg

The AM1H-ITX board builds upon the features of the AM1B-ITX by adding a mini PCI-E connector. While the AM1B-ITX uses a 5.1 channel Realtek ALC662 chipset, the AM1H-ITX uses a 7.1 channel ALC892 chipset that supports both analog and optical S/PDIF outputs.

Beyond the mini ITX boards, ASRock is launching the micro ATX AM1B-M. This board features the FS1B Kabini SoC socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots (16GB @ 1600MHz), two SATA III 6Gbps ports, a PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot (running at x4), and a PCI-E x1 slot. The board further offers Gigabit Ethernet and 5.1 channel audio. Noticeably absent is the additional ASMedia chipset that adds two SATA III ports.

ASRock AM1B-M(m).jpg

Additionally, the three boards have internal headers for extra USB ports and TPM security chips (the exact configuration of which depends on the specific board). The table below breaks down the basic differences between the boards.

  ASRock AM1B-M ASRock AM1B-ITX ASRock AM1H-ITX
Memory 2 x DDR3 (16GB @ 1600MHz) 2 x DDR3 (16GB @ 1600MHz) 2 x DDR3 (16GB @ 1600MHz)
Expansion Slots

1 x PCI-E 2.0 x16 (@ x 4)

1 x PC-E 2.0 x1 (@ x 1)

1 x PCI-E 2.0 x16 (@ x 4)

1 x PCI-E 2.0 x16

1 x mPCI-E

Storage 2 x SATA III

2 x SATA III from Kabini SoC

2 x SATA III from ASMedia ASM1061

2 x SATA III from Kabini SoC

2 x SATA III from ASMedia ASM1061

Networking Realtek RTL8111GR
Audio Realtek ALC662 Realtek ALC662 Realtek ALC892
Rear IO
  • 1 x PS/2
  • 1 x VGA
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x RJ45
  • 3 x analog audio
  • 1 x PS/2
  • 1 x Parallel
  • 1 x VGA
  • 1 x DVI
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x RJ45
  • 3 x analog audio
  • 1 x PS/2
  • 1 x VGA
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x DVI
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 3 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x RJ45
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF
  • 5 x analog audio

 

As with the other AMD hardware partners, ASRock has not released pricing or availability information. You can expect the micro ATX to be the cheapest of the bunch, with the two mini ITX boards commanding a slight premium for their reduced size and bolstered I/O options. The boards with four SATA III ports would make for great home server options by not requiring a PCI-E card to connect more than two SATA drives. The boards will support Athlon and Sempron branded AMD Kabini SoCs, and the combination of a board and SoC will cost approximately $60 according to AMD.

While the AM1 Platform is restricted to single channel memory (a Kabini memory controller limitation) versus Bay Trail's dual channel memory support, the AM1 Platform offers SATA 6Gbps and a GCN-based graphics part. Bay Trail may have a leg up in memory bandwidth and TDPs, socketed Kabini offers more storage bandwidth and graphics performance. I'm interested to see how the two platform stack up, and what the new boards are able to do.

Also read: AMD Releases the AM1 Platform: Socketed Kabini APU

Source: ASRock

ASUS Announces AM1M-A and AM1I-A for Socketed Kabini

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | March 5, 2014 - 11:53 PM |
Tagged: motherboards, Kabini, asus

AMD has just released Kabini as a socketed SoC with the AM1 platform. Not far behind is a few motherboards... because who wants a socketed APU without a socket? Chumps, that's who. Since no-one wants to be a chump, ASUS is getting ready to release two options in April. They are designed for low-power desktops and home theatre PCs.

asus-kabini-boards-am1m-am1i.jpg

The two boards are named the AM1M-A (Micro ATX) and the AM1I-A (Mini ITX). Otherwise, the two boards are very similar, but not identical. For instance, the Micro ATX version has two extra USB 3.0 ports while the Mini ITX has an extra COM header. The Micro ATX also has VD... by that, I mean a Realtek ALC887-VD sound card, where the Mini ITX has the ALC887 sound card without the suffix (I do not think there is a difference). The Micro ATX board also has a PCIe x16 slot (although it is electrically PCIe x4) to connect a larger-socketed add-in board (AIB) to it. As far as I can tell, they are basically the same, though.

Both motherboards will be available in April, but we do not yet have pricing information.

If interested, check out ASUS' press release after the break.

Source: ASUS

MSI Launches AM1I Mini ITX Motherboard For Socketed Kabini SoCs

Subject: Motherboards | March 5, 2014 - 11:35 PM |
Tagged: SoC, msi, mini ITX, Kabini, FS1B, AM1

MSI recently introduced its first motherboard based around AMD’s new AM1 platfrom called the AM1I. The new board uses the mini ITX form factor while supporting a Kabini SoC and all of its IO options including SATA III, USB 3, Gigabit Ethernet, and triple display outputs.

The AM1I sports a FS1B CPU socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots (a maximum of 32GB single channel memory at 1600MHz), two SATA III 6Gbps ports, a single PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot (electrically x4), and a single mPCI-E connector. The mini ITX AM1I motherboard further features a TPM connector, 7.1 channel Realtek ALC887 audio chipset, and a Realtek RTL8111G Gigabit Ethernet controller.

MSI AM1I Mini ITX Motherboard For AM1 Platform and Socketed Kabini SoCs.jpg

The AM1 Platform uses the FS1B socket and a new cooler mounting system (though the boards spotted at CES used a traditional FM2/AM3 HSF mount). So far, it appears the only heatsinks available will be those bundled with Kabini chips in retail boxes.

The rear I/O panel of the AM1I includes:

  • 2 x PS/2
  • 3 x Video outputs
    • 1 x HDMI
    • 1 x DVI
    • 1 x VGA
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x RJ45 (GbE)
  • 3 x analog audio outputs

MSI has not released exact pricing or availability, but expect the board to arrive sometime in mid-April for well under $40 (AMD has stated that the AM1 platform (FS1B motherboard plus a Kabini SoC) will cost around $60). Note that AM1 platform boards are extremely low cost because the IO is contained within the Kabini chip and not by on-motherboard chipsets.

Source: MSI

Microsoft, Along with AMD, Intel, NVIDIA, and Qualcomm, Will Announce DirectX 12 at GDC 2014

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 5, 2014 - 08:28 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, nvidia, microsoft, Intel, gdc 14, GDC, DirectX 12, amd

The announcement of DirectX 12 has been given a date and time via a blog post on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) blogs. On March 20th at 10:00am (I assume PDT), a few days into the 2014 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, the upcoming specification should be detailed for attendees. Apparently, four GPU manufacturers will also be involved with the announcement: AMD, Intel, NVIDIA, and Qualcomm.

microsoft-dx12-gdc-announce.jpg

As we reported last week, DirectX 12 is expected to target increased hardware control and decreased CPU overhead for added performance in "cutting-edge 3D graphics" applications. Really, this is the best time for it. Graphics processors are mostly settled into highly-efficient co-processors of parallel data, with some specialized logic for geometry and video tasks. A new specification can relax the needs of video drivers and thus keep the GPU (or GPUs, in Mantle's case) loaded and utilized.

But, to me, the most interesting part of this announcement is the nod to Qualcomm. Microsoft values DirectX as leverage over other x86 and ARM-based operating systems. With Qualcomm, clearly Microsoft believes that either Windows RT or Windows Phone will benefit from the API's next version. While it will probably make PC gamers nervous, mobile platforms will benefit most from reducing CPU overhead, especially if it can be spread out over multiple cores.

Honestly, that is fine by me. As long as Microsoft returns to treating the PC as a first-class citizen, I do not mind them helping mobile, too. We will definitely keep you up to date as we know more.

Source: MSDN Blogs

AMD just stole the mid-range performance Mantle in BF4

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2014 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: gaming, BF4, Mantle, amd

The new Mantle API has arrived for BF4, with quite a few other games waiting in the wings which will also take advantage of this DirectX competitor.  The results that [H]ard|OCP saw were not as impressive as what the marketing would have had you believe but it still offers an improvement over DirectX in some cases.  With high end hardware running at EyeFinity resolutions [H] did not see much improvement, the GTX 780 Ti took the performance crown.  However on a single monitor with a R9 290 or 280X they saw very significant performance increases which left both the GTX 780 and 770 lagging behind in performance.  Mantle will not yet allow mid range GPUs to act like high end cards but there is promise in this new API.

FBMantle.jpg

"AMD's Mantle API has been with us for just over a month now, and we have strapped a variety of video cards to the test bench to see what real world differences are being delivered to gamers within Battlefield 4. We will compare D3D11, Mantle, on various GPUs, looking at highest playable settings, frame times, and discuss our experiences."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

A wee little Linux bug

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2014 - 02:47 PM |
Tagged: linux, security

It would seem that there is a fairly problematic bug in the way that GnuTLS library applies encryption for many Linux users.  According to the story on The Inquirer this bug could allow an improperly setup certificate to be reported as valid and while your connection states it is secure it will not in fact be encrypted.  Red Hat has already issued a patch to solve this problem but the vulnerability would apply to any distro which uses the GnuTLS library.  It would be wise to follow the link from the story to locate a patch for your system before attackers start using it in the wild.

index.jpg

"THOUSANDS OF LINUX USERS might be vulnerable to hackers after it emerged that a significant certificate checking bug exists in a low level library.

The problem stems from the GnuTLS library that provides an API to enable SSL, TLS and DTLS encryption protocols, as used particularly by web servers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

AMD Radeon R9 290X shows up for $549 on Newegg. Is the worst behind us?

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 4, 2014 - 03:38 PM |
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, hawaii, amd, 290x

Yes, I know it is only one card.  And yes I know that this could sell out in the next 10 minutes and be nothing, but I was so interested, excited and curious about this that I wanted to put together a news post.  I just found a Radeon R9 290X card selling for $549 on Newegg.com.  That is the normal, regular, non-inflated, expected retail price.

WAT.

290xwat.jpg

You can get a Powercolor AXR9 290X with 4GB of memory for $549 right now, likely only if you hurry.  That same GPU on Amazon.com will cost you $676.  This same card at Newegg.com has been as high as $699:

290xwat2.jpg

Again - this is only one card on one site, but the implications are positive.  This is also a reference design card, rather than one of the superior offerings with a custom cooler.  After that single card, the next lowest price is $629, followed by a couple at $649 and then more at $699.  We are still waiting to hear from AMD on the issue, what its response is and if it can actually even do anything to fix it.  It seems plausible, but maybe not likely, that the draw of coin mining is reached a peak (and who can blame them) and the pricing of AMD GPUs could stabilize.  Maybe.  It's classified.

But for now, if you want an R9 290X, Newegg.com has at least one option that makes sense.

Microsoft wants you to browse the web ... on your walls

Subject: General Tech | March 4, 2014 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, surroundweb

Microsoft is working on a new way to display the web to you, projecting it onto your walls. They make use of Kinect to map your walls so that they can pick where to beam your content.  According to what Microsoft told The Inquirer, they can manage to project sites at 30 frames per second with up to 25 screens and up to a 1440x720 resolution.  They make a nod to security concerns, it seems that the information about what your room contains will not be sent back to the website you are viewing.

microsoft-surroundweb-research-540x334.jpg

"Called Surroundweb, the software is peddled by Microsoft as an "immersive room experience". However, as far as we can see, it's simply a means of projecting different parts of a web page on different surfaces around a room."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

OCZ launches Z-Drive 4500, now with Toshiba 19nm flash

Subject: Storage | March 4, 2014 - 09:51 AM |
Tagged: z-drive, toshiba, ocz

OCZ launched the original Z-Drive R4 back in 2011 (reviewed here). That unit proved OCZ's VCA 2.0 architecture could scale to very high IOPS under extremely heavy loads. With the recent changes, OCZ has been revamping their existing lines to include Toshiba flash - first with the Vector, then the Vertex, and today with the Z-Drive:

z-drive 4500-2.png

OCZ's VCA tech yields some impressive results. Here's some details:

z-drive 4500-4.png

...and here is where the Z-Drive falls in OCZ's enterprise lineup:

z-drive 4500-3.png

Pricing is as follows. Remember, these are enterprise units:

  • 800GB = $2944
  • 1.6TB = $4757
  • 3.2TB = $8166

Full press blast after the break:

Source: OCZ

AMD Launches Another Graphics Card: Radeon R9 280

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 4, 2014 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: radeon, r9 280, R9, hd 7950, amd

AMD continues to churn out its Radeon graphics card line. Out today, or so we are told, is the brand new Radeon R9 280! That's right kids, it's kind of like the R9 280X, but without the letter at the end.  In fact, do you know what it happens to be very similar to? The Radeon HD 7950. Check out the testing card we got in.

280-5.jpg

It's okay AMD, it's just a bit of humor...

Okay, let's put the jokes aside and talk about what we are really seeing here.  

The new Radeon R9 280 is the latest in the line of rebranding and reorganizing steps made by AMD with the move from the "HD" moniker to "R9/R7". As the image above would indicate, the specifications of the R9 280 are nearly 1:1 with that of the Radeon HD 7950 released in August of 2012 with Boost. We built a specification table below.

  Radeon R9 280X Radeon R9 280 Radeon R9 270X Radeon R9 270 Radeon R7 265
GPU Code name Tahiti Tahiti Pitcairn Pitcairn Pitcairn
GPU Cores 2048 1792 1280 1280 1024
Rated Clock 1000 MHz 933 MHz 1050 MHz 925 MHz 925 MHz
Texture Units 128 112 80 80 64
ROP Units 32 32 32 32 32
Memory 3GB 3GB 2GB 2GB 2GB
Memory Clock 6000 MHz 6000 MHz 5600 MHz 5600 MHz 5600 MHz
Memory Interface 384-bit 384-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 288 GB/s 288 GB/s 179 GB/s 179 GB/s 179 GB/s
TDP 250 watts 250 watts 180 watts 150 watts 150 watts
Peak Compute 4.10 TFLOPS 3.34 TFLOPS 2.69 TFLOPS 2.37 TFLOPS 1.89 TFLOPS
MSRP $299 $279 $199 $179 $149
Current Pricing $420 - Amazon ??? $259 - Amazon $229 - Amazon ???

If you are keeping track, AMD should just about be out of cards to drag over to the new naming scheme. The R9 280 has a slightly higher top boost clock than the Radeon HD 7950 did (933 MHz vs. 925 MHz) but otherwise looks very similar. Oh, and apparently the R9 280 will require a 6+8 pin PCIe power combination while the HD 7950 was only 6+6 pin. Despite that change, it is still built on the same Tahiti GPU that has been chugging long for years now.  

The Radeon R9 280 continues to support an assortment of AMD's graphics technologies including Mantle, PowerTune, CrossFire, Eyefinity, and included support for DX11.2. Note that because we are looking at an ASIC that has been around for a while, you will not find XDMA or TrueAudio support.

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The estimated MSRP of $279 is only $20 lower than the MSRP of the R9 280X, but you should take all pricing estimates from AMD with a grain of salt. The prices listed in the table above from Amazon.com were current as of March 3rd, and of course, we did see Newegg attempt get people to buy R9 290X cards for $900 recently. AMD did use some interesting language on the availability of the R9 280 in its emails to me.

The AMD Radeon R9 280 will become available at a starting SEP of $279USD the first week of March, with wider availability the second week of March. Following the exceptional demand for the entire R9 Series, we believe the introduction of the R9 280 will help ensure that every gamer who plans to purchase an R9 Series graphics card has an opportunity to do so.

I like what the intent is from AMD with this release - get more physical product in the channel to hopefully lower prices and enable more gamers to purchase the Radeon card they really want. However, until I see a swarm of parts on Newegg.com or Amazon.com at, or very close to, the MSRPs listed on the table above for an extended period, I think the effects of coin mining (and the rumors of GPU shortages) will continue to plague us. No one wants to see competition in the market and great options at reasonable prices for gamers more than us!

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AMD hasn't sent out any samples of the R9 280 as far as I know (at least we didn't get any) but the performance should be predictable based on its specifications relative to the R9 280X and the HD 7950 before it.  

Do you think the R9 280 will fix the pricing predicament that AMD finds itself in today, and if it does, are you going to buy one?