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Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2014 - 12:45 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Octane, gaming mouse, gaming keyboard, cooler master
Building upon the Devastator combo, Cooler Master has unleashed a new and improved keyboard and mouse combo dubbed Octane. The Octane keyboard and mouse are aimed at PC gamers with customizable LED backlighting, anti ghosting, high DPI mouse sensors and other gaming friendly features. It is available now with a MSRP of $59.99.
Sold as a set, the Octane gaming bundle includes a USB keyboard with custom membrane keys and USB optical mouse. As is customary with gaming gear, the kit features lots of sharp edges and angles. The keyboard in particular is heavily stylized. Both devices can be independently assigned colored backlighting with seven colors to choose from (blue, red, green, purple, yellow, cyan, or white). The backighting can be further set to one of several modes including full backlight, pulse, or a breathing mode that gradually cycles through all available color options.
The keyboard is mainly constructed of ABS plastic and uses custom membrane keyswitches. It is a full QWERTY keyboard with a number pad on the right side, a Windows button lock switch, backlight control key, and six dedicated media playback keys along the top. The space bar is a unique triangle/wedge shape (wider on the right side) that differs from a standard keyboard, however. There is a short palm rest with a Cooler Master logo sitting in the center below the space bar. Cooler Master claims that the Octane keyboard supports 19-key anti-ghosting technology along with adjustable repeat rates.
The mouse included in the Octane set uses a AVAGO 3050 optical sensor that supports DPI settings from 500 to 3500. Users can adjust the DPI on the fly to one of four adjustable DPI levels. It is allegedly rated for 10 million clicks over its lifespan. Aside from the two main mouse buttons and the scroll wheel, the gaming mouse has two DPI buttons beneath the scroll wheel and two thumb buttons on the left side of the mouse.
The Octane bundle is an improvement over the Devastator series, at least on paper, though at increased cost. The hardware is shipping now, so reviews should be forthcoming from the usual suspects. The Octane mouse and keyboard bundle is available now with a 2 year warranty for $60 USD.
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 31, 2014 - 03:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: sli, nvidia, GTX 980
Just in case you need a reason to be insanely jealous of someone, [H]ard|OCP has just published an article covering what it is like to be living with two GTX 980's in SLI. The cards are driving three Dell U2410 24" 1920x1200 displays for a relatively odd resolution of 3600x1920 but apart from an issue with the GeForce Experience software suite the cards have no trouble displaying to all three monitors. In their testing of Borderlands games they definitely noticed when PhysX was turned on, though like others [H] wishes that PhysX would abandon its proprietary roots. When compared to the Radeon R9 290X CrossFire system the performance is very similar but when you look at heat, power and noise produced the 980's are the clear winner. Keep in mind a good 290X is just over $300 while the least expensive GTX 980 will run you over $550.
"What do you get when you take two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 video cards, configure those for SLI, and set those at your feet for four weeks? We give our thoughts and opinions about actually using these GPUs in our own system for four weeks with focus on performance, sound profile, and heat generated by these cards."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 SLI 4K @ [H]ard|OCP
- GeForce GTX 980 PCI-Express Scaling @ techPowerUp
- Inno3D GTX 980 'iChill Herculez X4 Air Boss Ultra' @ Kitguru
- NVIDIA's Linux Driver Can Deliver Better OpenGL Performance Than Windows 8.1 @ Phoronix
- 6-Way Ubuntu 14.10 Radeon Gallium3D vs. Catalyst Driver Comparison @ Phoronix
- Diamond Boost Radeon R9 270X Review @ OCC
- Sapphire R9 285 Dual-X OC Video Card Review @ TechwareLabs
- HIS Radeon R9 290X Hybrid IceQ 4GB - Liquid Cooled @ Legion Hardware
Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 31, 2014 - 01:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Deepcool, Gamer Storm Maelstrom 240, LCS, water cooling
The Gamer Storm Maelstrom 240 has a unique look with its LED and bright red fans but also hides a pump with a closed impeller which is intended to increase the performance at the same time as it reduces vibrations. As the name implies the radiator roughly 240mm in size, 274 x 120 x 27mm to be exact with 0.2mm high-density water micro channels. HiTech Legion tested it against a variety of coolers and found the performance to be similar to the competitions, though unfortunately at a much higher price point. However it was almost silent in operation and the fans could be run on low speed without effecting the performance so for those who have a strong desire for a silent system might be willing to pay the $106 MSRP.
"Deep Cool has done this with their first liquid CPU cooler, the Gamer Storm Maelstrom 240 AIO Liquid Cooling. Do we see the force of a Maelstrom being represented? You be the judge. They use a unique pump with closed impeller to offer more power, less vibration, and lower noise as a result."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- SilverStone SST-AR06 Low-profile CPU Cooler @ eTeknix
- Silverstone Fortress FT05 @ Benchmark Reviews
- BitFenix Shadow Mid-Tower @ eTeknix
- Fractal Design Core 3300 @ eTeknix
- Fractal Design Core 3300 @ techPowerUp
- Phanteks Enthoo Evolv Review: Kitguru TV
- Raijintek Arcadia Mid-Tower Chassis @ eTeknix
- DeepCool Steam Castle Micro ATX Chassis Review @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2014 - 12:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: internet2, software defined networking
The Internet2 Network is a project being run by universities to develop or modify TCP/IP for the next generation of connectivity and to take advantage of the benefits of fibre optic transportation. They are also developing monitoring and management tools better suited to handle the huge networks which are becoming commonplace to enable users and machines connected to them to better interface with each other. The Register talks about their newest research and development phase in this story, it seems that Universities have embraced the Cloud and Software Defined Networking in their development of the next generation of networking, likely to the dismay of Cisco. The CloudLab runs a total of 15,000 cores to support the various slices of Cloud that are being implemented, follow the links in the story to get more detailed information on the various projects that are underway.
"The SDN rollout uses the FlowSpace Firewall to slice up segments of connected campuses' 100 Gbps Internet2 connections into discrete slices whose resources are protected from other traffic on the network. That means the 40 attached nodes in America will be able to get their own OpenFlow slices on the network."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- How to Get the Experience You Need for Linux Certification @ Linux.com
- Digitimes Research: Skylake processor delay to weaken Windows 10 notebook demand
- Lenovo completes Motorola purchase for $2.9bn – $10bn less than Google paid for it @ The Register
- Hungary scraps internet tax plans in wake of mass protests @ The Inquirer
- Sony borks fanboi funboxes with dodgy PS4 update @ The Register
Subject: Mobile | October 30, 2014 - 11:40 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: motorola, Lenovo, finance, Android
Lenovo officially acquired Motorola Mobility from Google in a deal worth $2.91 billion (both cash and stock) today. Following the acquisition, Motorola will exist as a wholly owned subsidiary of Lenovo. Motorola will retain its headquarters in Chicago's Merchandise Mart along with satellite offices (including Silicon Valley) and approximately 3,500 employees. Note that Google will retain the majority of Motorola's patent portfolio along with the Advanced Technology and Projects research division.
Lenovo now owns the Motorola brand as well as the Moto and DROID trademarks. Lenovo expects to sell 100 million smartphones within the first year following the acquisition. These smartphones will allegedly continue to feature a stock Android experience with a focus of quick OS updates. Specifically, this Motorola blog post states:
"We will continue to focus on pure Android and fast upgrades, and remain committed to developing technology to solve real consumer problems. And we will continue to develop mobile devices that bring people unprecedented choice, value and quality." -
Lenovo has indicated that it plans to aggressively pursue selling Motorola devices in China, emerging markets, and even stateside. That last bit is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the buyout. Lenovo has been producing smartphones for a couple of years now, and while the mobile devices have held promise, they have yet to be made available in the US market. Now that Lenovo owns Motorola, the company has the branding power, experience, and carrier relationships to bring their devices stateside in a big way.
Google was not necessarily bad for Motorola but the potential conflicts of interest with other Android phone manufactures, I think, resulted in Google being much more reserved with Motorola when it came to producing new Android hardware. Now that Lenovo holds the future of Motorola, I think the company will be free to compete with new hardware running any manner of OS but especially Android. I'm interested to see where Motorola will go from here and the kinds of devices we'll see from the now Lenovo-owned company.
Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2014 - 07:04 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: online storage, encryption, cloud storage, bitcasa
Bitcasa recently announced that, as of November 15, 2014, the company is discontinuing its "Infinite Drive" and will no longer be offering unlimited cloud storage space. The company made its debut at the start of last year with an infinite storage product (Amazon S3 backend with custom applications and client side AES-256 convergent encryption). Since then, the company has grown to store more than 40 Petabytes of user data. Unfortunately, the unlimited storage space model was not sustainable despite heavily increased pricing several months ago.
According to Bitcasa, less than 0.5% of users stored more than 1TB while 0.1% of users used more than 10TB. The alleged lack of demand coupled with violations of the company's Acceptable Use Policy were the final nails in the infinite storage coffin.
There is a bright side to the announcement, however. Bitcasa has re-engineered the storage backend and is promising faster uploading, downloading, and streaming (over the web interface) of files. Users wishing to stick with Bitcasa will need to transfer files over to the new storage system by the November 15, 2014 deadline. After the deadline, all files that have not been transferred or downloaded will be deleted permanently.
Bitcasa has put together a FAQ that explains the situation and how it will affect each of the account tiers on their website.
Essentially, Bitcasa is shuttering the infinite storage tier completely. Users storing 10TB or less will be allowed to move to the Premium or Pro tiers. The Premium tier remains the same as the old plan at $10 per month for 1TB of storage. The Pro tier has been changed from 5TB for $49 per month to 10TB for $99 per month. Users storing over 10TB will need to reduce their stored files to fit within at most 10TB of space. Of course, users are not required to stay and are free to download their files and move to an alternative service. Finally, the free storage tier has been cut from 10GB to 5GB going forward.
Any existing accounts (so long as they within the lower storage allotments) will be grandfathered in (including pricing on paid tiers) and any"extra" storage space gathered from referrals will remain in effect.
|New Plans||Old Plans|
|Storage Tier||Storage Space||Pricing||Storage Space||
|Premium||1TB||$10/month ($99/year)||1TB||$10/month ($99/year)|
|Infinite||n/a||No longer offered||Unlimited||$99/month ($999/year)|
There are some snags in the transfer process to be aware of though. Past version history on files will not be preserved post transfer and any mirrored folders will have to be recreated. It is possible to move the mirrored folders after the transfer if you do not have access to the original PC(s), but you will have to recreate the mirrors using the applications when you want to keep them in sync again.
Also, Bitcasa notes that iTunes payments for Bitcasa storage will no longer be accepted and Facebook and Twitter logins will not be allowed (you will create new a new login during the transfer process). Finally, streaming to Plex is not currently working with the new storage system, but a fix is being worked on.
Upon receiving the email from Bitcasa yesterday, I logged in and completed the transfer. The process took about five minutes (including downloading my mirrored folders I no longer had access to on my home PC). My free account is grandfathered into the 10GB limit. When the service first came out, I tried it out for awhile and it was decent. At one point I even considered moving to the paid infinite tier, but at the new prices the amount of storage is no longer economical for personal use (>1TB). It is notable that Microsoft started offering unlimited (used to be 1TB) storage to Office 365 subscribers this week, and I wonder how long that will last and if they will run into many of the same problems Bitcasa did.
What do you think about this announcement? Will unlimited storage always be too good to be true (ie an unsustainable business model).
Subject: Mobile | October 30, 2014 - 03:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, GT80 Titan, mechanical keyboard, cherry mx brown, gaming laptop
The full details are still a little sparse but we do know one thing for sure, the MSI GT80 Titan will be the first gaming laptop with an integral mechanical keyboard, it also happens to be backlit. The laptop is an 18" model and though it may look large in the pictures MSI reports it will be 17% thinner and 22% lighter than similar machines. They have also incorporated the SteelSeries Engine with CloudSync to allow you to save and synchronize settings via SteelSeries cloud storage. Check out the full PR below.
City of Industry, Calif. – October 30, 2014 – MSI Computer Corp, a leading manufacturer of computer hardware products and solutions, unveils the GT80 Titan, the world’s first gaming laptop with a mechanical keyboard.
First of its kind, MSI’s GT80 Titan ushers the future of gaming by integrating a SteelSeries gaming keyboard with Cherry Brown MX switches into the 18-inch gaming beast. Mechanical keyboards provide superior tactile feedback, increases durability, and enhances overall gaming experience by eliminating key jamming even during the most heated battle sessions.
“Performance is key for gamers and the GT80 Titan will forever change the mobile gaming experience,” says Andy Tung, president of MSI Pan America. “We are proud to be at the forefront of the gaming evolution and will continue to provide solutions that deliver the most outstanding gaming experience in the world.”
MSI’s newest gaming laptop uses standard Cherry switches and a standard keycap with 27mm of thickness, nearly 5 times of traditional laptop keyboards. It is also the world’s slimmest and lightest 18-inch gaming laptop, measuring 17% thinner and 22% lighter than its closest competitor. To fully optimize the keyboard, the GT80 Titan features an enhanced SteelSeries Engine with CloudSync, allowing users to save and synchronize settings via SteelSeries cloud storage.
Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2014 - 02:59 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: x99 ws, Intel X99, Haswell-E, asrock
ASRock has a Work Station class board for Haswell-E with five PCIe 3.0 slots, support for up to 128GB of RAM which can be ECC if you install an appropriate processor and on the back are four of both USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, one eSATA ports, audio and a pair of LAN ports. They also included A-Tuning overclocking software which seems odd for a Work Station but proved to be very important as [H]ard|OCP could not get the system they built with this board to POST at default settings and had to change UEFI settings to get it to boot. Once it did start up the performance was solid and it was one of the better ASRock boards that [H] has reviewed though with a street price over $300 it is hard to recommend.
"ASRock comes to us with its "Work Station" version Haswell-E motherboard. This time our out-of-box experience with its X99 WS was as rock solid as it could be and did leave us with feelings of getting to work with a quality component. As you all know, we are much more interested in how it performs at high clocks while under stress."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASRock X99 Extreme11 @ The SSD Review
- ASUS X99-A Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC Motherboard Review @ Modders-Inc
- Asus Maximus Vii Hero Motherboard Review @ TechwareLabs
- MSI X99S Gaming 9 AC @ HardwareHeaven
- MSI X99S SLI PLUS On Linux @ Phoronix
- Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 5 @ eTeknix
Podcast #324 - Civilization: Beyond Earth, Consoles Performance Issues, Samsung SSD updates and more
Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2014 - 02:10 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: xbox one, video, steiger dynamics, ps4, podcast, nvidia, Mantle, LIVA, Intel, ECS, Broadwell-E, amd, Alienware 13
PC Perspective Podcast #324 - 10/30/2014
Join us this week as we discuss Civilization: Beyond Earth Performance, Consoles Performance Issues, Samsung SSD updates and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the 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
Program length: 1:38:13
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Allyn: Tweak your WMC channel guide
Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2014 - 01:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: iPad Air 2, apple
There were long lineups of people desperate to get their hands on the new iPad Air 2, regardless of the fact that the internals cost a mere $1 more than the initial model. To be fair that is not the best way to judge the quality of the upgrade, that should rely more on the screen quality ... which is exactly the same in all respects except for a new anti-reflective coating. Apple is also reducing their markup, from 45-61% down to a paltry 45-57% for this generation so at least that $1.00 extra in materials will not raise your purchase price overly. The internals such as the TSMC made A8X and camera match the iPhone 6 to a large extent making it a more powerful phablet than the original, so don't disparage it too much. You can read more on The Register if you are into fruit.
"New iPad Air 2 components cost Apple just one dollar more than the previous model, according to the teardown bods at IHS."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The TR Podcast 164: We get twitchy over Apples, Nexuses, and beefy games
- Hey - who wants 4.8 TERABYTES almost AS FAST AS MEMORY? @ The Register
- Drupal Warns Users of Mass, Automated Attacks On Critical Flaw @ Slashdot
- More Microsoft staffers shown the door in Round 3 of job cuts @ The Register
Subject: Mobile | October 29, 2014 - 09:08 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: yoga tablet 2, Windows 8.1, Lenovo, Bay Trail, atom z3745, atom
Lenovo made a new 13-inch Windows 8.1 tablet official today rounding out the company's Yoga Tablet 2 family. The aptly named Yoga Tablet 2 With Windows (13") combines the design and hardware features of the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro with the smaller 10-inch Yoga Tablet 2 (Android or Windows) siblings. This tablet lacks the Pico projector of the Pro model, but keeps the JBL audio hardware, QHD IPS display, and kickstand. It further adds a larger version of the Bluetooth AccuType keyboard seen on the 10-inch Yoga Tablet 2 Windows model. Aimed at productivity tasks, the Bay Trail-powered PC is equipped with additional memory and storage along with an ample 12,800 mAh battery rated at up to 15 hours of general usage (including video/audio playback and web browsing). It will be available for purchase next month for $699.
The Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows 13-Inch is a 2.27 pound (tablet only) PC featuring a 2560x1440 IPS display, JBL audio with a Wolfson Master Hi-Fi codec (two front facing 1.5W stereo speakers with a rear firing 5W subwoofer), 1.6MP webcam for video conferencing, and a bundled AccuType keyboard cover. External IO includes one micro HDMI video output, one micro USB port, and micro SD card slot, and an analog audio jack. The tablet and keyboard are all ebony black which sets it apart from the other mostly silver-clad Yoga Tablet 2s.
Internally, Lenovo has chosen the quad core Intel Atom (Bay Trail) Z3745 clocked at 1.86GHz, 4GB of LPDDR3 memory, and 64GB of internal storage that can be expanded upon by adding a micro SD card up to 64GB. There is no cellular data support, but the tablet does include dual band 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 radios. A large 12,800 mAh Lithium Polymer battery powers the tablet for up to 15 hours, according to Lenovo.
The tablet runs the full version of Windows 8.1 and comes with a one month trail of Office 365 (which recently started offering 'unlimited' cloud storage).
It will be available for purchase in November on Lenovo.com for $699.
I like the black design and the inclusion of a keyboard along with the usage of Windows 8.1 makes this a better choice for business users than the Android-running Yoga Tablet 2 Pro model. The specifications look pretty good for what it is, though I question how many Lenovo will sell at that price point. You can find older generation convertible tablets, even from Lenovo, running the faster Intel Core (Ivy Bridge and similar) chips in that price range not to mention regular laptops should you not need the hybrid/tablet nature. It is kind of in an odd middle ground between the budget Bay Trail devices and starter ultrabooks though the high resolution IPS display and audio do not hurt.
Do you think it has a place in the market and will you be picking one up?
*For reference, the 13" Yoga Tablet 2 Pro has an MSRP of $499 while the 10-inch Yoga Tablet 2 (Windows, with keyboard) has an MSRP of $399. The $200 or $300 premium (depending on the comparison) gets you (at least) a device with more memory and storage and potentially an added keyboard or a larger device.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | October 29, 2014 - 06:12 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ubisoft, assassin's creed
Ubisoft has integrated GameWorks into Assassin's Creed Unity, or at least parts of it. The main feature to be included is NVIDIA's Horizon Based Ambient Occlusion Plus (HBAO+), which is their implementation of Ambient Occlusion. This effect darkens areas that would otherwise be incorrectly lit with our current limitations of Global Illumination. Basically, it analyzes the scene's geometry to subtract some of the influence of "ambient light" in places where it is an unrealistic approximation (particularly in small crevices). This is especially useful for overcast scenes, where direct sunlight does not overwhelm the contribution of scatters and bounces.
The other features to be included are Temporal Anti-alising (TXAA), Percentage-Closer Soft Shadows (PCSS), and GeometryWorks Advanced Tessellation. TXAA and PCSS were both included in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, alongside the previously mentioned HBAO+, so it makes sense that Ubisoft continues to use what worked for them. GeometryWorks is a different story. NVIDIA seems to claim that it is like DirectX 11 tessellation, but is better suited for use alongside HBAO+ and PCSS.
Assassin's Creed Unity will be available on November 11th.
Subject: Processors | October 29, 2014 - 05:44 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, Haswell-E, Haswell-EX, Ivy Bridge-EX
Last February, Intel launched the Xeon E7 v2 line of CPUs. Based on the Ivy Bridge architecture, they replaced the original Xeon E7s, developed from Sandy Bridge, that were released in April 2011. Intel is now planning to release Haswell-EX in the second quarter of 2015. No specific SKUs are listed, this information describes the product family as a whole.
This is Ivy Bridge-EX. Haswell-EX will have 3 extra cores (and look a bit different).
To set the tone, these are not small chips. Using the previous generation as an example, Ivy Bridge-EX was over twice the size (surface area) of Ivy Bridge-E, and it contained over twice the number of transistors. While Ivy Bridge-EX was available with up to 15 physical cores per processor, double that with HyperThreading, Haswell-EX is increasing that to 18, or 36 simultaneous threads with HyperThreading. If that is not enough cores, then you can pick up an eight-socket motherboard and load it up with multiple of these.
Other than their gigantic size, these chips are fairly similar to the Xeon E5 processors that are based on Haswell-E. If you need eighteen cores per package, and can spare several thousand dollars per processor, you should be able to give someone your money in just a handful of months.
Subject: Storage | October 29, 2014 - 03:10 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: tlc, Samsung, firmware, 840
If you own a Samsung 840 SSD, it appears that after much repeated and vocal pressure, Samsung has acknowledged the slow down also affects your drive. We're not talking about the EVO or the Pro, this is the original pure TLC model that launched (the EVO is a TLC+SLC cache hybrid while the Pro is all MLC). Here's the quote from Samsung, via Computer Base:
Uns ist durch das Feedback, das uns erreicht hat, bekannt, dass es auch beim Zugriff auf bestimmte Daten bei Modellen der SSD 840 zu niedrigeren Leseleistungen als angegeben kommen kann.
Im Moment untersuchen unsere Produktexperten systematisch die betreffenden SSD-Modelle innerhalb verschiedener Systemumgebungen und arbeiten an einer schnellstmöglichen Lösung.
Aufgrund der unterschiedlichen Technologien sind die Modelle der PRO-Serie (840 PRO und 850 PRO) nicht betroffen.
What? You can't read German? Neither can we, but paraphrasing from the poor quality translation from several online tools, we deduce that Samsung has acknowledged the issue on the 840, and is working on a solution as quickly as possible. This is similar verbiage to the statement issued for the 840 EVO acknowledgement.
** Update **
Thanks to Zyhmet, who commented shortly after posting, here's a human translation:
Because of the feedback we got, we realized that, accessing specific data with units of SSD 840 could lead to lower reading performance.
For the moment our experts are systematically examining the SSD-units with different system environments and we are working on a solution as fast as possible.
Due to different technologies the PRO-series (840 PRO and 850 PRO) are not affected.
** End update **
Side note - of those who have used the 840 EVO Performance Restoration Tool, a few have reported an issue cropping up. The error manifests as a SMART data misreporting error:
What's odd about this error is that it was present on some of our pre-production test samples (firmware EXT0AB0Q), and was corrected once we updated those samples to the first retail build (EXT0BB0Q). The image above was an actual screen shot taken during our temperature-dependency testing of the slow down issue. While none of our samples had the issue return when updating all the way to the performance restored firmware, one of those updates did corrupt the Master File Table, rendering the majority of the SSD inaccessible. While we have seen no other reports of corrupted partitions, several users noticed the SMART reporting issue after updating. It's odd to see this sort of a regression with firmware updates, in that a bug fixed in the initial shipping firmware has returned (for some) in a subsequent update. If you've updated your 840 EVO with their Performance Restoration Tool, it may be a good time to check your SMART attributes. If you see the error above, please leave us a note in the comments.
Circling back to the slow down issue - given that it is present in two TLC-based SSDs from Samsung, one has to wonder if this issue exists in other Samsung TLC SSDs as well. Here's the list of potentials (thanks to an anonymous comment on a prior story):
- 840 EVO - 19nm TLC
- 840 - 21nm TLC
- PM841 - 21nm TLC
- PM851 - 21nm TLC (some SKUs)
- 845DC EVO - 19nm TLC
- PM843 - 21nm TLC
- PM853T - 21nm TLC
We have several questions out to Samsung on these issues, but to date they have not been answered. More to follow as we wait for an official (English) response.
Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2014 - 01:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, skyrim, frostfall
Last week RPS engaged in a bit of a theme, reviewing various survival games which is a genre which has really taken off this year. Perhaps the most interesting was this article describing life with mods that make Skyrim into a much colder place to live, with frostbite becoming a serious concern as well as weather effects which are far more than just eye candy. They also chose a mod which disables fast travel and removes dragons and the Dragonborn, instead playing a random outlaw out for an adventure. All told this makes for a very different game than the vanilla and for those really looking for a new experience there is a comprehensive list of survival mods in this post, check out the comments below as well if you want to start counting your calories.
If you prefer survival of the fittest in a multiplayer game, then drop the single player mods and check out what the Fragging Frogs are up to this week.
Drinking also has an effect.
"But more importantly, Meeko kept me warm in Skyrim’s deadly mountain passes. One of the mods I have installed is Frostfall, which gives the player a few extra things to worry about. Exposure can leave you freezing to death, while being wet means you succumb to the cold even faster. You have to keep yourself warm at fires and fill up on hot soups to keep your ‘exposure meter’ from dropping too low. Once, I tried to swim across a small, icy river and before I could get a fire going on the opposite shore I passed out from hypothermia. I woke up in a familiar inn, penniless, frostbitten and with this note in my pocket."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Sunset Overdrive @ The Inquirer
- Wot I Think: Pike And Shot @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Far Cry 4 Kyrat Trailers: Not A Great Holiday Destination @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- The Elitist, Part Three: Picking A Fight @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- No, Not Boo: The Humble InDIE Bundle @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: Systems | October 29, 2014 - 01:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: system build
The Tech Report have updated their system build recommendations for the latter part of 2014, with changes to their system components as well as a reluctant recommendation for Win 8.1 as Win7 is scheduled for EOL in the New Year. The Core i7-5960X did not make it as the i7-5930K reaches similar performance for just over half the price which also means that DDR4 has appeared for the first time, specifically the Crucial 16GB and 32GB DDR4-2133 kits. There is a lot of choice right now when it comes to GPUs; four under $150, five under $250 and four ranging from ~$300 to $630 ensuring that you can find one in your price range. Check out the full array of choices in their update.
Make sure to check out the recent updates on our Hardware Leaderboard as well.
"Join us for another System Guide update, this time with just about all the tools you need to build a holiday PC early. We've got Nvidia's new GeForce GTX 900-series graphics cards, one of AMD's recently discounted A-series APUs, and much more."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- PC Specialist Vortex 440 System @ eTeknix
- PCSpecialist Dominator A10 Review: Kitguru TV
- Chillblast Fusion Ares System @ Kitguru
- CyberPower PC FANG Battlebox-I 970 @ eTeknix
- Pivos XIOS XS Entertainment Center Review @ Madshrimps
Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2014 - 12:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: arm, microsoft, windows server
The Register does not specify which version this was, likely a recent but highly modified version, but Microsoft has demonstrated their Server OS running on ARM hardware. This will give them another inroad to low cost server builds which don't necessarily have Intel or AMD inside, as well as hedging their bets against Linux. Linux is already happily running on just about any hardware you could want, or will be soon and Microsoft is likely worried about losing share to the open source OS. It will be interesting to see what Microsoft can offer the price conscious shopper to convince them to spend the money on an OS license when Linux is free. The days when the older generations of techs who have grown up with large UNIX servers and through Microsoft replacing it are numbered and they have always been one of the obstacles for the growth of upstart young Linux. The Register also points to the possibility of it being an in house solution to keep the costs of maintaining Microsoft's Cloud applications.
"That's not a stunning feat: having developed Windows RT – a version of Windows 8 running on ARM chippery – Microsoft clearly has the know-how to get the job done. And it's not an indication that Microsoft intends to make Windows Server on ARM a product. It's just a test."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Windows 10 Gets a Package Manager For the Command Line @ Slashdot
- Microsoft shows off spanking Win 10 PCs, compute-tastic Azure @ The Register
- Microsoft Office for Android tipped to arrive in November @ The Inquirer
- Universal Translator @ MAKE:Blog
- Best travel gadgets 2014 @ The Inquirer
- Win an ASUS ROG Swift 144Hz G-Sync monitor @ KitGuru
Subject: Processors, Mobile | October 29, 2014 - 04:30 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: arm, mali-T800, mali
While some mobile SoC manufacturers have created their own graphics architectures, others license from ARM (and some even have a mixture of each within their product stack). There does not seem to be a specific push with this generation, rather just increases in the areas that make the most sense. Some comments tout increased energy efficiency, others higher performance, and even API support got a boost to OpenGL ES 3.1, which brings compute shaders to mobile graphics applications (without invoking OpenCL, etc.).
Three models are in the Mali-T800 series: the T820, the T830, and the T860. As you climb in the list, the products go from entry level to high-performance mobile. GPUs are often designed in modularized segments, which ARM calls cores. You see this frequently in desktop, discrete graphics cards where an entire product stack contains a handful of actual designs, but products are made by disabling whole modules. The T820 and T830 can scale between one to four "core" modules, each core containing four actual "shader cores", while the T860 can scale between one to sixteen "core" modules, each core with 16 "shader cores". Again "core modules" are groups that contain actual shader processors (and L2 cache, etc.). Cores in cores.
This is probably why NVIDIA calls them "Streaming Multiprocessors" that contain "CUDA Cores".
ARM does not (yet) provide an actual GFLOP rating for these processors, and it is up to manufacturers to some extent. It is normally a matter of multiplying the clock frequency by the number of ops per cycle and by the number of shader units available. I tried, but I assume my assumption of instructions per clock was off because the number I was getting did not match with known values from previous generations, so I assumed that I made a mistake. Also, again, ARM considers their performance figures to be conservative. Manufacturers should have no problem exceeding these, effortlessly.
As for a release timeline? Because these architectures are designed for manufacturers to implement, you should start seeing them within devices hitting retail in late 2015, early 2016.
Subject: General Tech | October 28, 2014 - 06:10 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, disney, lucasfilm
Lucasfilm games (think LucasArts) and Disney Interactive have recently been re-introducing their back catalog to the PC. Earlier this month, Disney unleashed its wrath upon Steam, including Epic Mickey 2, which was not available on the PC outside of a limited, Eastern Europe release. Today, they licensed (different) titles to GOG.com: three Star Wars titles and three point-and-click adventures.
As for the Star Wars titles? Two of them are X-Wing Special Edition and TIE Fighter Special Edition. Both titles include their 1994 and 1998 releases, as well as any applicable expansions. They, along with Sam & Max Hit the Road, have never been sold through digital distribution platforms, prior to today.
Honestly, I never had a chance to play X-Wing and TIE Fighter. I liked space combat games, but I pretty much just played Privateer 1 and 2 as well as some console games, like Star Fox and Rogue Squadron. I was a kid. I played a handful of games to death. I keep hearing that X-Wing and TIE Fighter were, supposedly, the best of the genre. I have no experience with them, though.
These titles are currently the top six best sellers on the service, pulling ahead of The Witcher 3 pre-order as I wrote this post. The press release claims that more titles are on the way "in the coming months".
In conjunction with Dell World, LiteOn has announced their new EP1 M.2 PCIe SSD:
Designed primarily for enterprise workloads and usage, the EP1 sports impressive specs for such a small device. Capacities are 480 and 960GB, random 4k IO is rated at 150k/44k (R/W), sequentials are as high as 1.5GB/sec, and max latencies are in the 30-40 us range (this spec is particularly important for enterprise OLTP / transactional database workloads). Given the enterprise specs, power loss protection is a given (and you can see the capacitors in the upper right of the above photo). Here are the full specs:
It should be noted that larger PCIe-based SSDs are rated for greater than the 1 drive write per day of the EP1, but they are also considerably larger (physically) when compared to the M.2 EP1. As an additional aside, the 960GB capacity is a bit longer than you might have seen so far in the M.2 form factor. While the 480GB model is a familiar 2280 (80mm long), the 960GB model follows the 22110 form factor (110mm long). The idle power consumption seems a bit high, but enterprise devices are typically tuned for instantaneous response over idle wattage.