The Reorganization After Microsoft's Reorganization

Subject: General Tech | March 2, 2014 - 10:34 PM |
Tagged: microsoft

According to Kara Swisher at Re/code, two of Microsoft's Executive Vice Presidents are leaving the company. Tony Bates, EVP of Business Development and Evangelism, and Tami Reller, EVP of Marketing, are expected to have their departure announced to the public on Tuesday. Tony Bates joined the company during the Skype acquisition in 2011, while Tami Reller has been with Microsoft since it acquired Great Plains Software in 2001. While Bates is expected to depart immediately, Reller is expected to remain for a while and "help with the transition".

Video Credit: Dilbert Youtube Channel

Seeing the Microsoft reorganization, it should be quite obvious how expensive they can become. They are struggling to find a path for their products that their customers actually want to go down. At the same time, people seem to be flying in every direction. I just wonder if these are the final movements.

Source: Re/code

Speaking of Passive Cooling: Tom's Hardware's GTX 750 Ti

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 2, 2014 - 05:20 PM |
Tagged: passive cooling, maxwell, gtx 750 ti

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti is fast but also power efficient, enough-so that Ryan found it a worthwhile upgrade for cheap desktops with cheap power supplies that were never intended for discrete graphics. Of course, this recommendation is about making the best of what you got; better options probably exist if you are building a PC (or getting one built by a friend or a computer store).

toms-passive-geforce-gtx-750-ti-cooling,O-U-423390-22.jpg

Image Credit: Tom's Hardware

Tom's Hardware went another route: make it fanless.

After wrecking a passively-cooled Radeon HD 7750, which is probably a crime in Texas, they clamped it on to the Maxwell-based GTX 750 Ti. While the cooler was designed for good airflow, they decided to leave it in a completely-enclosed case without fans. Under load, the card reached 80 C within about twenty minutes. The driver backed off performance slightly, 1-3% depending on your frame of reference, but was able to maintain that target temperature.

Now, if only it accepted SLi, this person might be happy.

Sapphire Launches Low Profile R7 240 GPU For HTPCs

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 2, 2014 - 03:14 AM |
Tagged: sapphire, R7 240, htpc, SFF, low profile, steam os

Sapphire is preparing a new low profile Radeon R7 240 graphics card for home theater PCs and small form factor desktop builds. The new graphics card is a single slot design that uses a small heatsink with fan cooler that is shorter than the low profile PCI bracket for assured compatibility with even extremely cramped cases.

The Sapphire R7 240 card pairs a 28nm AMD GCN-based GPU with 2GB of DDR3 memory. There are two HDMI 1.4a display outputs that each support 4K 4096 x 2160 resolutions. Specifically, this particular iteration of the Radeon R7 240 has 320 stream processors clocked at 730 MHz base and 780 MHz boost along with 2GB DDR3 memory clocked at 900 MHz on a 128-bit bus. The card further has 20 TMUs and 8 ROPs. The card has a power sipping 30W TDP.

Sapphire Radeon R7 240 Low Profile Graphics Card for SFF Desktops and HTPCs.jpg

This low profile R7 240 is a sub-$100 part that can easily power a home theater PC or Steam OS streaming endpoint. Actually, the R7 240 itself can deliver playable gaming frame rates with low quality settings and lowered resolutions delivering at least 30 average FPS in modern titles like Bioshock Infinite and BF4 according to this review. Another use case would be to add the card to an existing AMD APU-based system in Hybrid CrossFire (which has seen Frame Pacing fixes!) for a bit more gaming horsepower under a strict budget.

The card occupies a tight space where it is only viable in specific situations constrained by a tight budget, physical size, and the requirement to buy a card new and not an older (single and faster, not Hybrid CrossFire) generation card on the used market. Still, it is nice to have options and this will be one such new budget alternative. Exact pricing is not yet available, but it should be hitting store shelves soon. For an idea on pricing, the full height Sapphire R7 240 retails for around $70, so expect the new low profile variant to be around that price if at a slight premium.

CompuLab fit-PC4 Includes AMD SoC/APU... But Not Fans

Subject: General Tech, Systems | March 2, 2014 - 02:29 AM |
Tagged: Tamesh, Kabini, fit-PC4, compulab, amd

Passively cooled PCs are an interesting niche, often associated with the need for silence. Be it audio recording or home theater appliances, some situations are just not well suited to having a whirring fan.

fit-pc4-poster-900px.jpg

Recently announced is the fit-PC4 is a fanless system, fourth in its lineage. This time the system is using AMD for its CPU and GPU. Two models are available, separated into "Pro" and "Value". Its specifications are broken down into the table below.

  fit-PC4 Pro fit-PC4 Value
Processor AMD GX-420CA (25W TDP, Kabini) AMD A4-1250 APU (8W TDP, Temash)
-    CPU Quad-core (Jaguar-based) @ 2.0 GHz Dual-core (Jaguar-based) @ 1.0 GHz
-    GPU Radeon HD 8400E Radeon HD 8210
RAM Up to 16GB (2 DIMM)
Storage 2.5" HDD/SSD + mSATA + microSD
I/O
2x HDMI 1.4a (1920x1200 max) with CEC support
S/PDIF, line-out, mic-in (I assume 3.5mm)
2x Gigabit Ethernet
mini-PCIe slot for cellular modem
2x USB 3.0 and 6x USB 2.0
WiFi 802.11ac 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0 3.0 + HS
Dimensions 16cm x 19cm x 3.7cm 16cm x 16cm x 2.5cm
Price $380 $299

Interestingly, the company considers these devices "ruggedized" as well as fanless. As such, they have a 5-year warranty. It seems to be quite the feature-packed device with two HDMI 1.4 outlets, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and an available slot for a cellular modem. The Pro even has 802.11ac WiFi. I am not entirely sure the intended purpose of this device, but the company claims that the previous generation product was often purchased by video surveillance and digital signage customers. Interestingly, Windows 7 and Linux are the two choices for operating systems.

The fit-PC4 is available now in either a $299 (Value-Barebone) or $380 (Pro-Barebone) model.

Source: CompuLab

Samsung Galaxy S5 Coming To Sprint MVNOs In Q2 2014

Subject: Mobile | March 2, 2014 - 12:21 AM |
Tagged: virgin mobile, Sprint, Samsung, mvno, galaxy s5, boost mobile

Samsung officially launched the Galaxy S5 at MWC last month, with tweaked software and slightly improved hardware specifications. The new smartphone will launch in 150 countries, including the US, on April 11th. Unfortunately, Samsung did not disclose the exact pricing and carriers that will offer the device at launch. Naturally, the big US carriers will all get the latest flagship at some point this year, but beyond that it is hard to say who will pick it up and who will pass. With that said, at least two MVNOs are confirmed to be offering up the Galaxy S5 later this year.

Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile are MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) that run pre-paid cell phone plans without contracts that run hardware on Sprint's cellular network. The two carriers announced on their respective Facebook pages that the Galaxy S5 is officially coming to their network in the second quarter of this year. Both companies are remaining silent on the pricing of the smartphone though, with a Virgin Mobile representative stating that the company did not have pricing information yet.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Coming to Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile Sprint MVNOs.jpg

Users can expect to pay nearly full price for the Galaxy S5 as the pre-paid carriers do not subsidize the price over a multi-year contract. I would expect the phone to go for around $800, however. While it may seem counter-intuitive to pay upwards of $800 out of pocket only to run it on a cheap MVNO, there are still cost savings to be realized so long as you are not upgrading every year. More options are always nice, and seeing a flagship smartphone coming to MVNOs so soon after launch is a welcome change. Here's hoping more MVNOs jump on board, especially those using alternative networks for pre-paid customers living in areas with poor Sprint coverage.

Source: Engadget

Corsair Blogs About... Oh Come On!

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | March 1, 2014 - 09:51 PM |
Tagged: corsair, mining

When mining some form of cryptographic coin, very few components in the system are utilized. A GPU is basically a self-contained massively parallel cruncher with its own memory and logic. The host system just needs to batch the tasks which leads to PCs with dirt-cheap CPUs, a very modest amount of RAM, and quite literally a half-dozen high-end graphics cards.

If you thought that gaming machines skew a little too much towards GPUs, you should see a mining rig with five R9 290X cards fed by a Sempron.

corsair-extender.jpg

As you can guess, since many GPUs are double-slot, it might be difficult to fit seven of them in a seven-slot motherboard with a limited number PCIe lanes. To get around this limitation, miners attach their graphics cards to extension cables. Thankfully (for them), mining does not pass a lot of data across the bus to the host system. Even a single PCIe fails to be a bottleneck, apparently.

Anyway, the Corsair blog created an open-air rack which hangs six graphics cards (five HD 7970s and a R9 290X) above a motherboard housing an Intel Celeron G1830. For air, a quartet of Corsair fans suck air upwards and around the graphics cards. For power, of course they use the Corsair AX1500i because why not mine with an arc welding torch. It apparently had more power capacity than the breaker they originally hooked it up to. Whoops.

corsair-side-fans.jpg

While ridiculous, I do hope to see systems with multiple (even mismatched) graphics processors as we move toward batches of general mathematics. PhysX was not entirely successful in teaching users that GPUs do not need to be in SLi or Crossfire configurations to load balance. It is just finding an appropriate way to split tasks without requiring a lot of bottlenecks in setting it up.

I might not mine coins, but I could see some benefit to having 35 TeraFLOPs across seven compute devices. I could also see Corsair wanting to sell me a power supply for said PC.

Source: Corsair

Raspberry Pi Foundation: $10,000 Reward for Quake III

Subject: General Tech, Systems | March 1, 2014 - 03:51 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a tiny and cheap (as in a starting price of ~$28) computer that was originally intended for educational purposes. It is built around a Broadcom BCM2835 SoC which itself is based on the ARM architecture. Its VideoCore IV 3D graphics processor relies upon a closed-source driver because, until yesterday, Broadcom had not provided documentation or code. Technically, the code they released is for a different SoC but both Broadcomm and the Raspberry Pi Foundation believe the tools are there to port it over.

And the foundation wants to drum up interest by offering a $10,000 bounty for Quake III running acceptably on the Pi with the ported open source drivers.

rasppie.jpg

If interested, you can look at Broadcom for the documentation and 3-clause BSD-licensed source code. You can also check out the Raspberry Pi Foundation for a blog post which mentions the competition (as well as their 2-year anniversary). GPU drivers are a good thing to be open-sourced. As I have been saying, the further "upstream" a piece of code is, the more it trickles down as a dependency for other software. The vocabulary that software needs to communicate with a hardware platform is quite high up there. Leaving those tools to society is a good thing for society.

Granted, it will probably not have a meaningful impact in this case... but there is a chance.

Amazon May Integrate Music Streaming Into Prime Subscription Service

Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2014 - 02:59 AM |
Tagged: prime instant video, prime, music streaming, amazon

Amazon has been exploring changes to its Prime subscription service, and while drone air delivery may be years out, a music streaming service is a realistic possibility. The company already offers video streaming via its Prime service in the form of a limited selection of its total Instant Video library that can be streamed for free with a yearly Prime subscription. on the music side of things specifically, Amazon already has a massive downloadable paid-for MP3 library with a browser-based (and a new PC application) digital locker and media player. 

Amazon Cloud Player.jpg

Amazon Cloud Player, a browser-based media player for purchased MP3 files.

In short, all of the pieces for a music streaming service are in place. Amazon has the e-commerce and programing experience, distribution medium, and gobs of cloud storage and processing power. Amazon simply needs the go-ahead from the labels in the form of licensing agreements which appear to be in progress according to Recode.

Amazon Prime Streaming.jpg

An Amazon-run music streaming service would face stiff competition from existing competitors such as Spotify, but if any company can come in and make it work at scale in a competitive market it is Amazon. Especially if Amazon is able to replicate music streaming and offline caching using mobile apps like Spotify offers without charging extra for the privilege. Music streaming seems to be a natural addition to its Prime Instant offering, and may just be the spoonful of sugar that makes a possible Prime subscription price increase easier to swallow.

Should Amazon and the music labels nail down a pricing agreement, I am interested to see what Amazon is able to offer in terms of user experience, applications, and library size.

Source: The Verge

Microsoft's Windows Store Growing Rapidly, Now At 4 Million Downloads Per Day

Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2014 - 02:16 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, Windows Store, appstore

Microsoft introduced its own application download repository with Windows 8 along with an SDK for developers to put together touch friendly applications around the formerly-Metro-No-Longer-Modern-Whatever-It-Is-Called-This-Month user interface. Dubbed the Windows Store, it would be the source of applications for Windows RT, Windows Phone, and Windows x86/64 alike.

Since the release of Windows 8 Consumer Preview in February 2012, users have been able to use the Windows Store application to search for and download both free and paid-for apps. The Windows Store is a curated marketplace with applications that must be certified for compatibility by Microsoft who takes a percentage of sale price (30% or less depending on number of downloads).

Microsoft Windows Store.png

At the end of last year, Microsoft had approximately 142,000 apps listed in the Store. Further, the company is seeing as many as 4 million application downloads per day from the Store. The 4 million downloads per day number was uncovered by Alex Wilhelm at TechCrunch, and is a 134.6% increase over the downloads/day number from October 2013. The breakdown of application type is pre-dominately free with paid applications acconting for less than half of the daily downloads (which makes sense).

At the current download rate, Microsoft could push as many as 1.46 billion app downloads a year. All things considered, the Windows Store is still dwarfed in downloads, number of apps, and popularity by the iOS, Google, and Mac app stores, but it is showing a surprising amount of growth lately. Hopefully this rise in popularity will beget more popularity from the cycle of developers getting interested in the Store and users getting new applications. (Ideally, as the Windows Store userbase grows, developers will have increased incentive to program new, or port existing, apps to Metro which should further bring in new users and so on).

Have you used the Windows Store to find new Start Screen apps?

Source: TechCrunch

Steam Family Sharing Is Now Available For All Users

Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2014 - 06:36 PM |
Tagged: steam, valve

Today, Valve announced that its Steam Family Sharing program is available for all users. This initiative allows Steam accounts to authorize devices to access their library on other accounts. The intention is for each family member to have their own account while being able to borrow games from one another. This can also extend to "their guests". It does not include titles which use third-party DRM, accounts, or subscriptions - Valve obviously does not have direct control over them.

steam-family.png

There are other rules and restrictions, of course, but the account and device limits are quite high: 5 accounts across 10 devices. This does not get around region locks and a game which is VAC-banned cannot be shared. Ultimately, be careful sharing your games with your kids if they are jerks.

To setup Family Library Sharing in the Steam Client, go to View > Settings > Family and start to authorize and manage other computers. Just do not allow Cheating Charlie. For more information, check out Valve's promotional site and FAQ.

Source: Valve

Supercharge your Chromebook

Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2014 - 02:39 PM |
Tagged: linux, Chromebook

If you have purchased the Acer C720 Chromebook because it was relatively quick and very inexpensive you have probably been happy with it but maybe you wish it could do more.  To do so you could follow these instructions to install either Ubuntu or Bohdi Linux.  The process is a little more complicated than installing the OS from a CD but they have provided step by step instructions on how to accomplish this process.  Bring new life to your Chromebook with just a bit of work.

hero.png

"Chromebooks are amazing little machines. They are a marvel of speed and simplicity. The Acer C720 Chromebook is certainly near the top of the list of Chromebooks to be purchased (next to the Chromebook Pixel, of course). It's speedy and it's inexpensive. But for some, the simplistic nature of the devices doesn't offer enough power or flexibility. For those who need more from this Acer platform, I have the answer – in fact, I have two answers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Linux.com

MSI Intros Trio Of Low-Cost FM2+ Motherboards Using A58 Chipset

Subject: Motherboards | February 28, 2014 - 01:23 AM |
Tagged: msi, A58, Kaveri, FM2+, micro ATX, atx

MSI has launched three new low cost FM2+ motherboards based around AMD's budget A58 chipset. The new boards include an ATX form factor MSI A58-G41 PC Mate and two micro ATX boards: the A58M-E35 and the A58M-E33. The boards are compatible with AMD's Richland, Trinity, and Kaveri APUs and support PCI-E 3.0. The cost savings come from using the A58 chipset which drops support for SATA III 6Gpbs and USB 3.0. The boards further have smaller heatsinks and fewer overclocking features. Despite the restrictions, the new MSI A58 FM2+ motherboards still incorporate MSI's OC Genie 4, Click BIOS 4, and Command Center technologies along with the company's Military Class 4 hardware components.

MSI A58-G41 FM2+ Motherboard.png

The MSI A58-G41 PC Mate is an ATX form factor board with an FM2+ CPU socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, six SATA II 3Gbps ports, two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, two PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots, and three legacy PCI expansion slots. Rear IO on this board includes two PS/2 ports, six USB 2.0 ports, a single Gigabit LAN port, three analog audio jacks, and three video outputs (HDMI, VGA, and DVI).

MSI A58M-E35 FM2+ AMD Motherboard.png

The Micro ATX A58M-E35 also has an FM2+ socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, and six SATA II ports, but the expansion slot layout is scaled down. There is a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, one PCI-E 3.0 x1 slot, and one PCI slot. Rear IO on this board is identical to the A58-G41 board above (six USB 2.0, two PS/2, one GbE port, three audio, and three video outputs).

MSI A58M-E33.png

Finally, MSI's lowest-end A58M-E33 is a Micro ATX board similar in layout to the A58-E35, but with fewer port options. The expansion slot and memory slot configuration stays the same as the E35, but there are two fewer SATA II ports (four total) and two fewer USB 2.0 ports on the rear IO panel. Speaking of I/O, the board is similar to the E35 except that it lacks a DVI video output and two USB 2.0 ports.

MSI has not yet released exact pricing, but expect these boards to be well under $100, and the two micro ATX variants to be closer to the $50 mark based on prices of the higher-end A78 and A88 chipset-based motherboards. All three will be available for purchase later this year.

Source: MSI

Antec Launches HCP-1300 Platinum Power Supply For Extreme Crypto Mining Rigs

Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2014 - 12:07 AM |
Tagged: power supply, HCP-1300, antec, 80 Plus Platinum

Antec has released a new high capacity HCP-1300 Platinum power supply fit for the highest-end workstations and cryptocurrency mining rigs. The 80 PLUS Platinum rated PSU is up to 94% efficient meaning less wasted electricity and more profit for miners running power hungry GPU farms. The HCP-1300 Platinum, as the name implies can deliver up to 1300W to the system, including 10 PCI-E power connectors.

Antec HCP Platinum 1300W Power Supply.jpg

The new PSU uses a fully modular design with a look towards the future. Antec is using 16-pin cable connectors for future modular cables as well as a 20+8 pin motherboard connector to accommodate future ATX motherboards that might require an additional four power pins over today's 20+4 pin boards. A 135mm fan keeps the internal components cool at high loads. Other enthusiast-friendly features include CircuitShield technology and an OC Link connector. The OC Link allows adventurous enthusiasts and miners to connect two HCP-1300 Platinum power supplies together and have them work in tandem to power a single ultra high end system (hopefully you miners attempting this are plugging the PSUs into dedicated AC circuits!).

This enthusiast PSU comes at a premium, however. In fact, the Antec HCP-1300 Platinum will set you back $312 for a single unit. On the bright side, it does come with a generous seven year warranty.

Will this beastly power supply be at the heart of your next Dream System?

Source: eTeknix

Podcast #289 - Origin PC EOS-17 SLX Gaming Laptop, Mining on a 750Ti, News from MWC and more!

Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2014 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: x240, video, tegra, podcast, origin, nvidia, MWC, litecoin, Lenovo, Intel, icera, eos 17 slx, dogecoin, bitcoin, atom, amd, 750ti

PC Perspective Podcast #289 - 02/27/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the Origin PC EOS-17 SLX Gaming Laptop, Mining on a 750Ti, News from MWC 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: 1:17:30
  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:21:48 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!!

Overclocked SSDs are fast but also power hungry

Subject: Storage | February 27, 2014 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: SSD 730, ssd, Intel, Overclocked

Today marks the release of the first overclocked SSD to hit the market, the Intel 730 which is based on the SSD DC S3500 and SSD DC S3700 series for data centers.  As these were drives specifically crafted for the datacenter they were both more expensive than consumer models and were optimized for completely different uses.  The new Intel 730 drive is overclocked, the NAND functions at 600MHz compared to the DC's 400MHz and the cache RAM speed is jumped up to 100MHz from 83MHz.  The Tech Report discovered that extra frequency comes at a price, the wattage consumed by this drive is significantly higher than just about any other SSD they have reviewed, no wonder Intel labels this as specifically for desktops.

Make sure to check out Allyn's fresh off the presses review of this drive and don't let his temperature readings shock you too much.

DSC00083.JPG

"Intel's new 730 Series desktop SSD is rather unique. It's based on the company's datacenter drives, it has an extra flash die onboard, and the controller and NAND are both clocked well beyond their usual speeds. We take a closer look."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

TSMC's ultraviolet lithography was a little too extreme

Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2014 - 11:37 AM |
Tagged: euv, photolithography, Intel, TSMC, DSA

A recent test at TSMC proved their experimental extreme UV lithography process is a little too extreme after a misaligned laser caused serious internal damage to their prototype.  This is rather sad news for TSMC as EUV has been touted as the best way to reduce the chip making process below 10nm.  Intel has been hedging their bets about EUV, they have invested heavily in the development of the technology but recently have teamed up with ASML Holdings and Arkema to work on directed self assembly, where the chips are convinced to form out of solution on a molecular basis.  We are not quite talking Von Neumann machines but it is certainly within the same realm of thought.  Other researchers are working on electron etching; forsaking light and its comparatively large wavelength for much smaller etching tools.  You can read more about how companies such as Intel are trying to keep Moore's law alive at The Register.

article_img.jpg

"A recent test of the next-generation chip-etching technology known as extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) has come a cropper at chip-baking giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC)."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Thermaltake Launches Modular Toughpower Gold Series Power Supplies

Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2014 - 02:19 AM |
Tagged: toughpower gold, thermaltake, power supply, 80 Plus Gold

Thermaltake has launched three new power supplies under its Toughpower Gold series. The new models come in 550W, 650W, and 750W capacities and offer up a semi-modular design and 80 PLUS Gold efficiency ratings.

Thermaltake Toughpower Gold 750W Power Supply.jpg

The new power supplies are rated at 87% to 92% efficient depending on the load and fall under the 80 PLUS Gold designation. Additionally, the PSUs offer a single rail design to deliver stable power to graphics cards and the processor. A semi-modular design has the 24 pin and 8 pin motherboard power connectors permanently attached and connection points for a variety of additional power cables. Thermaltake has gone for a flat cable design which should mean the cables are easier to route and hide behind the motherboard tray. Other features include high quality Japanese capacitors and a reportedly quiet 140mm fan that hits 18dB under typical loads.

The 550W offers two 8-pin PCI-E power connectors while the top end 750W version supports up to four 8-pin PCI-E power connectors meaning it can easily power CrossFire and SLI multi-GPU setups.

You can find more information on the Toughpower Gold power supplies on their respective product pages.

Unfortunately, pricing and exact availability has not yet been released.

Samsung Releases 8-Core and 6-Core 32-Bit Exynos 5 SoCs

Subject: Processors | February 26, 2014 - 11:46 PM |
Tagged: SoC, Samsung, exynos 5, big.little, arm, 28nm

Samsung recently announced two new 32-bit Exynos 5 processors with the eight core Exynos 5 Octa 5422 and six core Exynos 5 Hexa 5260. Both SoCs utilize a combination of ARM Cortex-A7 and Cortex-A15 CPU cores along with ARM's Mali graphics. Unlike the previous Exynos 5 chips, the upcoming processors utilize a big.LITTLE configuration variant called big.LITTLE MP that allows all CPU cores to be used simultaneously. Samsung continues to use a 28nm process node, and the SoCs should be available for use in smartphones and tablets immediately.

The Samsung Exynos 5 Octa 5422 offers up eight CPU cores and an ARM Mali T628 MP6 GPU. The CPU configuration consists of four Cortex-A15 cores clocked at 2.1GHz and four Cortex-A7 cores clocked at 1.5GHz. Devices using this chip will be able to tap up to all eight cores at the same time for demanding workloads, allowing the device to complete the computations and return to a lower-power or sleep state sooner. Devices using previous generation Exynos chips were faced with an either-or scenario when it came to using the A15 or A7 groups of cores, but the big.LITTLE MP configuration opens up new possibilites.

Samsung Exynos 5 Hexa 5260.jpg

While the Octa 5422 occupies the new high end for the lineup, the Exynos 5 Hexa 5260 is a new midrange chip that is the first six core Exynos product. This chip uses an as-yet-unnamed ARM Mali GPU along with six ARM cores. The configuration on this SoC is four low power Cortex-A7 cores clocked at 1.3GHz paired with two Cortex-A15 cores clocked at 1.7GHz. Devices can use all six cores at a time or more selectively. The Hexa 5260 offers up two higher powered cores for single threaded performance along with four power sipping cores for running background tasks and parallel workloads.

The new chips offer up access to more cores for more performance at the cost of higher power draw. While the additional cores may seem like overkill for checking email and surfing the web, the additional power can enable things like onboard voice recognition, machine vision, faster photo filtering and editing, and other parallel-friendly tasks. Notably, the GPU should be able to assist with some of this parallel processing, but GPGPU is still relatively new whereas developers have had much more time to familiarize themselves with and optimize applications for multiple CPU threads. Yes, the increasing number of cores lends itself well to marketing, but that does not preclude them from having real world performance benefits and application possibilities. As such, I'm interested to see what these chips can do and what developers are able to wring out of them.

Source: Ars Technica

HP Launches Bay Trail-Powered X360 Convertible Laptop

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | February 26, 2014 - 09:20 PM |
Tagged: x360, Windows 8.1, tablet, hp, convertible tablet, convertible, Bay Trail

At MWC 2014, HP showed off an interesting convertible laptop similar in form factor to Lenovo's Yoga lineup. The HP X360 is a Bay Trail-powered laptop running Windows 8.1 that brings the 360-degree hinged hybrid laptop/tablet form factor to an affordable $460 price point. The red plastic and brushed aluminum PC is available for purchase now and will begin shipping in early March.

HP X360 Angled.png

HP's new X360 tablet measures 12.12” x 8.46” x 0.86” and weighs in at a portable 3.08 pounds. It is noticeably larger than other Bay Trail tablets like the ASUS T100 and Dell Venue series, but it also has an integrated keyboard and trackpad attached via a permanently attached double hinge to the 11.6” LED-backlit touchscreen with a resolution of 1366x768. The chassis is a glossy red plastic while the keyboard cover and palm rest use a brushed aluminum surface that surrounds a large gesture compatible touchpad and a chiclet-style keyboard that appears to be well spaced for an 11.6” machine (excluding the arrow keys which are bunched up in the bottom-right corner in order to allow full sized shift and enter keys). A silver chassis version is also in the works, but will not be available until later this year.

HP X360 Back Panel.png

The HP X360 features external I/O more akin to a traditional laptop than a tablet with the following connectivity options.

  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x RJ45 (10/100 Ethernet)
  • 1 x headphone/mic combo jack
  • 1 x SD card slot
  • 1 x SIM card slot

Internally, the HP X360 uses an Intel Pentium N3520 processor, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios, and a 2 cell Lithium Ion battery rated for up to four and a half hours of use. HP has further packed its tablet with Beats Audio technology. Interestingly, the Pentium N3520 CPU is a quad core chip based on Intel's Bay Trail (Atom) architecture which uses Silvermont cores and Intel HD graphics. The CPU is clocked at 2.166 GHz base and 2.42 GHz Turbo with 2MB of cache.

The X360 can be used as a laptop or a tablet in several configurations by swinging the display around appropriately. It is very similar to Lenovo's Yoga system, though HP is using a slightly different hinge design.

HP X360 Tablet Mode.png

The real advantage of the HP X360 is its price. At a starting price of $389 for the 4GB model, the X360 is much cheaper than the (admittedly more powerful) Yoga alternatives while still being a capable machine for note taking and media consumption. It lies in a middle ground between Bay Trail-powered tablets and Haswell-powered laptops. For an $80 premium over the ASUS T100, users get a more traditional convertible PC with more storage (albeit slower mechanical storage) and a faster clocked processor.

Personally, I'm tempted and have been debating between this and the T100 as a second portable machine to replace my aging Dell XT with comparably abysmal battery life (heh).

You can find more information on the new X360 (HP Pavilion 11t-n000 x360 PC) on this HP product page.

Source: HP

Video Perspective: Gaming on an Overclocked AMD A10-7850K APU

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | February 26, 2014 - 07:18 PM |
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Overclocking the memory and GPU clock speeds on an AMD APU can greatly improve gaming performance - it is known.  With the new AMD A10-7850K in hand I decided to do a quick test and see how much we could improve average frame rates for mainstream gamers with only some minor tweaking of the motherboard BIOS.  

Using some high-end G.Skill RipJaws DDR3-2400 memory, we were able to push memory speeds on the Kaveri APU up to 2400 MHz, a 50% increase over the stock 1600 MHz rate.  We also increased the clock speed on the GPU portion of the A10-7850K from 720 MHz to 1028 MHz, a 42% boost.  Interestingly, as you'll see in the video below, the memory speed had a MUCH more dramatic impact on our average frame rates in-game.  

In the three games we tested for this video, GRID 2, Bioshock Infinite and Battlefield 4, total performance gain ranged from 26% to 38%.  Clearly that can make the AMD Kaveri APU an even more potent gaming platform if you are willing to shell out for the high speed memory.

  Stock GPU OC Memory OC Total OC Avg FPS Change
Battlefield 4
1920x1080
Medium
22.4 FPS 23.7 FPS 28.2 FPS 29.1 FPS +29%
GRID 2
1920x1080
High + 2xAA
33.5 FPS 36.3 FPS 41.1 FPS 42.3 FPS +26%
Bioshock Infinite
1920x1080
Low
30.1 FPS 30.9 FPS 40.2 FPS 41.8 FPS +38%