A new version of Intel E5 for your server room; Broadwell Xeon E5-2600 v4

Subject: General Tech | April 1, 2016 - 05:55 PM |
Tagged: Xeon E5-2600 v4, Intel, Broadwell-EP

Yesterday, towards the end of the day, Intel announced the arrival of their newest Xeon chips, the v4 series of Xeon E5 CPUs.   As you would expect of server chips there is no GPU present however there are new features to improve your servers performance.  The new Broadwell-EP chips will have up to 22 cores and 44 threads, an impressive 55MB of cache on some models and support for DDR4-2400.  As far as raw performance goes, Intel advertises these chips as delivering about 5% instructions per second compared to Haswell and handles AVX instructions more efficiently, allowing cores not running these tasks to remain at full speed.  The Register has a great breakdown of the other new features which these Xeons can provide.

xeon_e5_v4_skus.jpg

"These chips follow up 2014’s Xeon E5 v3 parts, which used a 22nm process size and the Haswell micro-architecture. Intel shrunk Haswell to 14nm, and after some tinkering, codenamed the resulting design Broadwell."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

The Silent Base 800 may Be Quiet!, but the orange trim certainly isn't

Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 31, 2016 - 09:16 PM |
Tagged: be quiet!, Silent Base 800

Lee reviewed the Be Quiet! Silent Base 800 back on my birthday but since that feels like so long ago and since there are so many cases on the market it seems worth revisiting.  As this is the first time [H]ard|OCP has reviewed a case from this manufacturer, they are looking at it with fresh eyes instead of comparing it to the 600 model.  At 495x266x542mm (19.5x10.5x21.3") it is large enough to fit just about any component you might want and with seven slots it is great for multiple GPUs. [H] was impressed enough to grant a Gold Award to the 800, not just for the acoustical and thermal performance but also for the flexibility of the drive cages.  If you gave the case a pass previously, perhaps ponder a peek.

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"With a company name like be quiet!, you likely know what to somewhat expect. This German company strives to build some of the best designed computer chassis on the market. Its new Silent Base 800 series case certainly looks good on the outside. How does it perform when it comes to being cool and quiet?"

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

CASES & COOLING

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Pixel C Developer Discounts Have Expanded

Subject: Mobile | March 31, 2016 - 07:40 PM |
Tagged: google, pixel c

A few weeks ago, Google published preview builds of Android N, and they announced a developer discount page for the Pixel C. At the time, it was US-only and applied to the 64GB version, bringing it down to $450 USD. The website also seemed... broken... so I wasn't sure if Google were fixing it or whatever. A few people received discount codes on the first run, but the websites now say that they will email you within a few days with a promotional code.

google-2016-android-n-discount.png.jpg

The discount website has now been updated, and the terms have changed. The major difference is that it is now available in 13 countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States, of course. The discount is now a blanket 25% off a Pixel C tablet (just one, like before). I haven't received the promotion code yet, so I can't confirm that it applies to both 32GB and 64GB models, but ZDNet claims it does, and Android Police states that Google confirmed it to them. The discount still does not apply to the keyboard.

Google's Nexus line has been known to limit API access, specifically by not shipping OpenCL drivers and pushing developers toward their proprietary RenderScript instead. That said, it should be kept up to date with Google's latest OSes for longer than most devices. Also, Vulkan is being considered a Google-supported API, so, unless something weird happens, Pixel C should get those drivers, which should be sufficient for upcoming GPU compute and gaming tasks.

Source: Google

Adata's XPG SX930, JMicron on the outside, Micron on the inside

Subject: Storage | March 31, 2016 - 07:10 PM |
Tagged: adata, XPG SX930, JMF670H, mlc

Now that Adata's XPG SX930 240GB SSD has been out for a while it is worth revisiting for enthusiasts on a budget.  It is currently $80 on Amazon, short of Ryan's pricing goals as it is just over $0.33/GB but still an attractive price for a drive with JMicron's JMF670H controller.  Also worth noting is the lifespan of the drive, when The Tech Report reached out to ADATA they were told it was 280TB, more than enough for most users.  Check out their review to see how it performs as there are many drives only $30-40 more that have very impressive performance, such as the Trion and 850 EVO.

insides.jpg

"Adata's XPG SX930 combines a JMicron controller and Micron MLC flash into an enthusiast-oriented 240GB SSD. We put it to the test to see whether it's worth its cost of admission."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Epic Games Releases Unreal Engine 4.11

Subject: General Tech | March 31, 2016 - 06:52 PM |
Tagged: epic games, unreal engine, unreal engine 4

It has been in preview since December, but Epic Games has finally released Unreal Engine 4.11 for developers to create awesome things with. This version focused on performance and the features that were added for Paragon, which entered early access two weeks ago. DirectX 12 is still considered experimental, and Vulkan is missing officially (although John Alcatraz has a tutorial to add it to Unreal Engine built from source), but the rendering back-end has received significant changes to accommodate the new graphics APIs in the future.

epicgames-2015-paragon-hair3.jpg

The three features that I'm most interested in, apart from free performance, are lighting channels, capsule shadows, and improved building of static light. Light channels are very difficult to implement in a deferred renderer, but Epic managed. This means that you can have dynamic lights only affect certain objects in the scene, either for performance, if enough lights are ignored to justify the cost of the channels themselves, or for special effects, like making a specific object stand out in a scene. They also added new shading models for eyes, hair, skin, and cloth, and added a bunch of interesting audio features.

Unreal Engine 4.11 is available now from Epic's Launcher. It's free to use, but Epic takes a royalty on certain revenues.

Source: Epic Games

Synology Launches Portable DS416slim 4-Bay 2.5" Drive NAS

Subject: Storage | March 31, 2016 - 06:03 PM |
Tagged: synology, SOHO, network storage, NAS, media streaming, DSM, ds416slim

Synology recently revealed a new small and lightweight NAS for home and small business users. The DS416slim is a small networked attached storage device that uses up to four 2.5" SATA drives to offer up to 8TB of storage that can be used for backups, media streaming, file synchronization, and offsite storage thanks to its dual core ARM processor and DiskStation Manager 6.0 operating system.

Synology DS416slim Portable NAS.jpg

This new NAS is fairly compact at 7.24" x 6.61" x 9.05" (18.4cm x 16.8cm x 23cm) and weighing just over one and a half pounds (700 grams). It is roughly rectangular with the front decked out in status LEDs and a single USB 3.0 port. The laptop-sized hard drives (up to 12.5mm so basically any 2.5" SATA drive will work) are loaded vertically into the unit using snap-in drive trays that slide into the back. The back panel also holds dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and a second USB 3.0 port.

Interestingly, the DS416slim supports link aggregation as well as failover and load balance modes depending on your settings. Using link aggregation to connect to a Windows PC, Synology rates transfer speeds at up to 177 MB/s reads and 77 MB/s writes. Using a single Gigabit link the NAS can hit read speeds up to 112.77 MB/s.

With all four drives installed, users can choose from all the usual RAID suspects including RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, and 10. Of course, single volumes and JBOD are also options with the total raw storage capacity being 8TB (4 x 2TB hard drives or solid state drives). A bottom-mounted removable 60mm fan module keeps the drives running cool and reportedly the Synology NAS has noise levels of 20.3 dBA.

Internally, the NAS is powered by a dual core Armada 385 processor clocked at 1.0 GHz with dedicated hardware encryption engine and 512 MB of DDR3 memory. The also recently released DSM 6.0 OS allows the NAS to be a backup destination for multiple PCs, a media server, file synchronization hub, and a source to sync files to all the various cloud storage providers for offsite backup. Synology's browser-accessed OS GUI also lets you add various services and features using downloadable applications to expand its out-of-the-box functionality (e.g. torrent box).

Synology DS416slim 4-bay NAS.jpg

The front and rear USB 3.0 ports can be used to easily transfer data to or from external hard drives to make offsite backups easy. The DS416slim is interesting in that its small size makes it a nice portable option for video editors, photographers, or other small business users that need on site access to lots of fast file storage at various job sites. The use of laptop hard drives means that storage is going to be a bit more expensive per GB and not quite as fast, but the drives are built a bit more robustly when it comes to moving them around versus your standard desktop drive. I do wonder about the reliability versus 3.5-inch drives over time, but the difference is likely marginal today and the lower power usage is much more suited to SOHO NAS duties. I would like to see this decked out with RAIDed SSDs though!

Synology rates the laptop-drive inspired NAS at 17.17W during disk access and 11.63W power usage while the drives are hibernating.

The Synology DS416slim comes with a 2 year warranty and with be avaialable early next month and retail (without drives) for around $290 (Amazon lists it at $289+shipping though once more units are available I would expect it to drop a smidge in price).

Source: Synology

The Status of Windows Phone

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 31, 2016 - 05:52 PM |
Tagged: BUILD, build 2016, microsoft, windows 10, windows phone

If you watched the opening keynote of Microsoft's Build conference, then you probably didn't see much Windows Phone (unless you were looking at your own). The Verge talked to Terry Myerson about this, and Microsoft confirmed that they are leading with non-Windows, 4-inch devices, and they want to “generate developer interest” on those platforms for this year.

PC World interpreted this conversation to say that Windows Phone is put on hold.

microsoft-2016-win10devices.jpg

That might be a little hasty, though. Microsoft is still building Windows 10 for Mobile. In fact, since Microsoft updated “Windows OneCore” and jumped build to 14xxx-level build numbers with Windows 10 build 14251, Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 PC are kept in lockstep. As far as I know, that is still the plan, and Windows Insiders should continue to receive these on compatible devices.

That said, Microsoft has basically admitted that Windows Phone would just be a distraction for developers this year. At the very least, they don't believe that the platform will be ready for them until next year's Build conference, which means that consumers will probably be even further down than that because there would be no applications for them. Yes, Windows Phone could be slowly shimmying out of the spotlight, but it could also be delayed until they make a good impression, and have the PC, Xbox, Hololens, and other ecosystems secure to lift it up.

Source: The Verge

Toshiba laptops are so hot right now

Subject: General Tech | March 31, 2016 - 05:29 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, recall, fire

Forget the concerns about fertility when using a laptop placed directly on your lap, having your lap catch fire is a bit more of a concern.  If you are using a Toshiba laptop right now, quickly flip it over and check if it is on fire, or if the serial number resembles G71Cxxxxxxxx.  If either of those conditions are true, please contact Toshiba customer support on this page, which also has a software utility you can run to see if you are affected by this recall.  According to The Register, some of these batteries may have been sold individually or as repair kit for Satellite, Portégé and Tecra models so you should check; better safe than on fire.

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"Toshiba is recalling the battery packs in 39 notebook models over fears they could be prone to catching fire."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Podcast #393 - HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, EVGA SC17 Notebook, UWP games and more!

Subject: General Tech | March 31, 2016 - 05:17 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, VR, htc vive, oculus rift, vive pre, evga, SC17, logitech, g900, phil spencer, uwp, asus, echelon, gtx 950, acer, Predator, z850

PC Perspective Podcast #393 - 03/31/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, EVGA SC17 Notebook, UWP games 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!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Josh Walrath

Program length: 1:37:33

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:45:10 This episode of PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Braintree. Even the best mobile app won’t work without the right payments API. That’s where the Braintree v.0 SDK comes in. One amazingly simple integration gives you every way to pay. Try out the sandbox and see for yourself at braintree­payments.com/pcper
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  5. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

EKWB Unveils Nickel Plated Monarch Ram Heatspreaders To Water Cool Your Memory

Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 31, 2016 - 01:40 AM |
Tagged: water cooling, overclocking, liquid cooling, EKWB

The guys over at the Tech Report spotted a rather shiny product coming out soon from EKWB. The company is adding a nickel plated memory heat-spreader kit can be used to replace your existing heatspreaders and hook into a RAM waterblock like EKWB's own Monarch X2 to allow you to liquid cool your memory and add it to your custom cooling loop.

EK-RAM-Monarch-Module_NI_fit_1600.jpg

These new modules are similar to the existing black modules, but have a nickel plated finish that is particularly shiny (see the photo below). Each kit includes the parts to replace the heatspreaders on two memory modules. Thermal pads are used to facilitate heat transfer from the memory chips to the CNC'ed aluminum heatsinks.

Users can then screw a memory waterblock (EKWB specifies the Monarch X2 Acetel/Nickel) to the top of the replaced memory heat-spreaders. Heat is then transferred from the heatsinks to the block and finally to the water loop.

EK-RAM-Monarch-Module_NI_fill_1600.jpg

The new Monarch modules are available now for $34.99. The Monarch X2 waterblock adapter is a further $38.99 if you want to water cool the DRAM. Note that the existing black anodized heatsinks are a bit cheaper at $29.99.

The heatsinks certainly look nice, and while I can see reasons to liquid cool them for aesthetics or to play around with extreme overclocking water cooling your memory using them will get expensive in short order considering you need to buy both kits for every two memory DIMMs (I hope you don't have X99 with all slots populated heh).

If you really want to cool all the things and add a bit of 'bling' to your system look no further!

Source: EKWB

Canonical’s First Ubuntu Tablet Available For Pre-Order

Subject: General Tech | March 30, 2016 - 10:16 PM |
Tagged: ubuntu, linux, mediatek, SoC, arm, tablet

Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system, is now offering up its first Ubuntu tablet with Spanish manufacturing partner BQ. The Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition is a 10-inch tablet powered by ARM and loaded with Ubuntu 15.04.

The tablet features an all black (or white) case with rounded edges and a matte back. Mobilegeeks managed to get hands on with the Android version of the Aquaris M10 which you can check out here. The internals are a bit different on the Ubuntu Edition, but the chassis and design remains the same. It measures 8.2mm thick and weighs in at 470 grams (1.03 pounds). The front is dominated by a 10.1” AHVA touchscreen display that comes in either 1280 x 800 or Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution depending on the model. A capacitive home button sits below along with two 0.7W speakers while a 5MP webcam is positioned above the display. There is an 8MP rear camera, and the sides hold Micro HDMI, Micro USB, Micro SD, and 3.5mm audio ports.

BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition Tablet PC.jpg

The Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition is powered by a quad core MediaTek SoC with Mali-T720MP2 graphics, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of eMMC storage (with approximately 10GB usable by end users) that can be expanded via Micro SD cards up to 64GB. The Full HD model uses the MediaTek MT8163A clocked at 1.5 GHz while the HD Aquaris M10 uses the slightly lower clocked MT8163B running at 1.3 GHz.

Wireless capabilities include 802.11n (dual band) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS. It is powered by a 7,280 mAh Li-Po battery. BQ has pre-loaded the tablet with Ubuntu 15.04 which users will likely want to update once drivers are ready as it is End-of-Life.

The Aquaris M10 is available for pre-order now, with expected ship dates in early April. The HD Ubuntu Edition tablet is listed at €259.90 ($295) while the Full HD version will run you €299.90 ($340). Currently, the Full HD tablet comes in black and the HD tablet is all white. Both models come with a screen protector and case as a pre-order bonus.

BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition Tablet.jpg

It is interesting to see an official Ubuntu tablet, but I wonder if this is too little, too late for the open source OS. Canonical is positioning this as a daily driver that can be a tablet when you want to be mobile, a PC when propped up with a case and paired with wireless keyboard and mouse, and a media streamer when connecting it to the big screen with HDMI. I would expect performance to improve over time once the community gets a hold of it and starts tweaking it though the hardware is going to be a limiting factor. I want a Linux tablet to succeed, and hopefully this will open the door for higher end models. I don’t see myself jumping on this particular one though at this price.

Are you excited for the Ubuntu Edition M10?

Source: Canonical

Raiding Tombs in DX12

Subject: General Tech | March 30, 2016 - 08:58 PM |
Tagged: dx12, rise of the tomb raider, gaming

DX12 API support has arrived for the new Lara Croft game, for those with the hardware and software to support it.  For AMD users that means Fury or 300 family cards, which offer DX12.0 support and for NVIDIA, 980 Ti and all other Maxwell GPUs which offers 12.1 as well as 12.0.  The difference in support is likely because of the game, not the hardware in this case.  [H]ard|OCP takes a look at how well the cards perform in both DX11 and DX12 and as it turns out the warning below is very accurate and perhaps you should wait for a few more driver updates and game patches before switching over to DX12.

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"Rise of the Tomb Raider has recently received a new patch which adds DX12 API support, in addition the patch adds NVIDIA VXAO Ambient Occlusion technology, however just under DX11. In this evaluation we will find out if DX12 is beneficial to the gameplay experience currently and how it impacts certain GPUs."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Acer Predator Z850 Gaming Projector, a real mobile monitor

Subject: Displays | March 30, 2016 - 08:10 PM |
Tagged: Predator Z850 Gaming Projector, acer

predtop.jpg

Yes, the resolution of the Predator Z850 Gaming Projector is only 1920 x 720 but that is a small sacrifice for what this projector is capable of.  The minimum throw of the projector is 18.5" (47 cm) or about the same distance as you are sitting from the monitor you are reading this on, if not shorter, and at that distance it projects a 120" screen.  That means you can set up a gaming session anywhere with power and a large display surface with ridiculous ease and since your laptop might not handle 4K gaming, it is not like you are missing out on that higher pixel count; leaving aside the fact that with a projector you are not dealing with pixels.

predback.jpg

There is an optional Wireless HD-Kit you can pick up if you have enough wires cluttering your home or bag already, or use the two HDMI or VGA ports available in addition to the usual sound inputs.  The projector is also DLP 3D ready if you are one of the few who enjoy that feature and it can also project in 1080p if you plan on watching movies.  The laser diode used in this projector provides a 100,000:1 contrast ratio and 3,000 lumens so even in bright lighting you will still see a great picture.  The diode does not create the same amount of heat as a bulb and so the unit can be packed up immediately without needing a cool off period and will last significantly longer, up to 30,000 hours according to the PR.  There is one bit of bad news though, the projector will cost you $5,000 which does put it out of range of most peoples budgets.

predside.jpg

You can see the full PR here.

Source: Acer

You can now source USB Type C cables safely, at least from Amazon

Subject: General Tech | March 30, 2016 - 05:39 PM |
Tagged: USB 3 Type-C, amazon

Yes, after much destruction of expensive hardware including the Pixel 2 belonging to Google researcher Benson Leung, you can now source the new USB cables much more safely.  Benson has been testing these cables for quite a while and has been trying to convince major suppliers such as Amazon to vet the cables they are selling, and to refuse to sell ones which are not up to spec.  According to what The Inquirer has heard this quest has finally been completed and Amazon will no longer sell 'any USB-C (or USB Type-C) cable or adapter product that is not compliant with standard specifications issued by USB Implementers Forum Inc'.  That would include cables that were being sold by the smartphone company OnePlus, whose cables would work only with their phones.

***OnePlus contacted us to clarify that as of January they've restocked their products with Type-C cables and adapters with 56kΩ resistors, which are fully compliant with the standard.***

It has taken far too long to do this and the killer cables are still out there at retail outlets and other online marketplaces, so exercise caution but Type-C is finally safe enough to think of using for charging and the other new capabilities it posesses.

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"Amazon has now stepped in to put a stop to the free-for-all on crappy cables. The retailer's list of prohibited electronics items now includes 'any USB-C (or USB Type-C) cable or adapter product that is not compliant with standard specifications issued by USB Implementers Forum Inc'."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Microsoft's Phil Spencer Discusses UWP Concerns at Build

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 30, 2016 - 05:14 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, uwp, microsoft, build 2016, BUILD

When a platform vendor puts up restrictions, it can be scary, and with good cause. Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform (UWP) is the successor of WinRT, which, in the Windows 8 era, forced web browsers to be reskins of Internet Explorer, forced developers to get both their software and themselves certified before publishing, and so forth. They still allowed the traditional, more open, Win32 API, but locked them into “the Desktop App”.

Naturally, UWP carries similar concerns, which some developers (like Tim Sweeney of Epic Games) voiced publicly. It's more permissive, but in a brittle way. We don't want Microsoft, or someone like a government who has authority over them, to flip a switch and prevent individuals from developing software, ban content that some stakeholder finds offensive (like art with LGBT characters in Russia, the Middle East, or even North America), or ban entire categories of software like encryption suites or third-party web browsers.

windows_8_logo-redux2.png

This is where we get to today's announcement.

Microsoft's Phil Spencer, essentially responding to Tim Sweeney's concerns, and the PC gaming community at large, announced changes to UWP to make it more open. I haven't had too much time to think about it, and some necessary details don't translate well to a keynote segment, but we'll relay what we know. First, they plan to open up VSync off, FreeSync, and G-Sync in May. I find this kind-of odd, since Windows 10 will not receive its significant update (“Anniversary Update”) until July, I'm not sure how they would deliver this. It seems a little big for a simple Windows Update patch. I mean, they have yet to even push new versions of their Edge web browser outside of Windows 10 builds.

The second change is more interesting. Microsoft announced, albeit without dedicating a solid release date or window, to allow modding and overlays in UWP applications. This means that software will be able to, somehow, enter into UWP's process, and users will be encouraged to, somehow, access the file system of UWP applications. Currently, you need to jump through severe hoops to access the contents of Windows Store applications.

They still did not address the issue of side-loading and developing software without a certificate. Granted, you can do both of those things in Windows 10, but in a way that seems like it could be easily removed in a future build, if UWP has enough momentum and whoever runs Microsoft at the time decides to. Remember, this would not be an insidious choice by malicious people. UWP is alluring to Microsoft because it could change the “Windows gets viruses” stigma that is associated with PCs. The problem is that it can be abused, or even unintentionally harm creators and potential users.

On the other hand, they are correcting some major issues. I'm just voicing concerns.

Source: Microsoft

AT&T Will Start Enforcing U-Verse Data Caps, Charging Extra For Unlimited Data

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | March 30, 2016 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: U-Verse, opinion, isp, Internet, FTTN, FTTH, editorial, data cap, AT%26T

AT&T U-Verse internet users will soon feel the pain of the company's old school DSL users in the form of enforced data caps and overage charges for exceeding new caps. In a blog post yesterday, AT&T announced plans to roll out new data usage caps for U-Verse users as well as a ('Comcastic') $30 per month option for unlimited data use.

Starting on May 23, 2016 AT&T U-Verse (VDSL2 and Gigapower/Fiber) customers will see an increase to their usage allowance based on their speed tier. Currently, U-Verse FTTN customer have a 250 GB cap regardless of speed tier while FTTH customers in its Gigapower markets have a higher 500 GB cap. These caps were soft caps and not enforced meaning that customers were not charged anything for going over them. That will soon change, and all U-Verse customers will be charged for going over their cap at a rate of $10 for every 50 GB over the cap. (e.g. Even if you use only 1 GB over the cap, you will still be charged the full $10 fee.).

ATTUverse2WireRG.jpg

The new U-Verse caps (also listed in the chart below) range from 300 GB for speeds up to 6 Mbps and 600 GB for everything up to its bonded pair 75 Mbps tier. At the top end, customers lucky enough to get fiber to the home and speed plans up to 1 Gbps will have a 1 TB cap.

Internet Tier New Data Caps Overage Charges
AT&T DSL (all speeds) 150 GB $10 per 50GB
AT&T U-Verse (768 Kbps – 6 Mbps) 300 GB $10 per 50GB
AT&T U-Verse (12 Mbps – 75Mbps) 600 GB $10 per 50GB
AT&T U-Verse FTTH (100 Mbps – 1 Gbps)  1 TB $10 per 50GB

Uverse customers that expect to use more than 500 GB over their data cap ($100 is the maximum overage charge) or that simply prefer not to worry about tracking their data usage can opt to pay an additional $30 monthly fee to be exempt from their data cap.

It's not all bad news though. General wisdom has always been that U-Verse customers subscribed to both internet and TV would be exempt from the caps even if AT&T started to enforce them. This is not changing. U-Verse customers subscribed to U-Verse TV (IPTV) or Direct TV on a double play package with U-Verse internet will officially be exempt from the cap and will get the $30/month unlimited data option for free.

AT&T DSL users continue to be left behind here as they will not receive an increase in their 150 GB data allowance, and from the wording of the blog post it appears that they will further be left out of the $30 per month unlimited data option (which would have actually been a very welcome change for them).

Karl Bode over at DSLReports adds a bit of interesting history in mentioning that originally AT&T stated that U-Verse users would not be subject to a hard data cap because of the improved network architecture and its "greater capacity" versus the old school CO-fed DSL lines. With the acquisition of Direct TV and the way that AT&T has been heavily pushing Direct TV and pushing customers away from its IPTV U-Verse TV service, it actually seems like a perfect time to not enforce data caps since customers going with its Direct TV satellite TV would free up a great deal of bandwidth on the VDSL2 wireline network for internet!

This recent move is very reminiscent of Comcast's as it "trials" data caps and overages in certain markets as well as having it's own extra monthly charge for unlimited data use. Considering the relatively miniscule cost to deliver this data versus the monthly service charges, these new unlimited options really seem more about seeking profit than any increased costs especially since customers have effectively had unlimited data this whole time and will soon be charged for the same service they've possibly been using for years. I will give AT&T some credit for implementing more realistic data caps and bumping everyone up based on speed tiers (something Comcast should adopt if they are set on having caps). Also, letting Internet+TV customers keep unlimited data is a good thing, even if it is only there to encourage people not to cut the cord.

The final bit of good news is that existing U-Verse customers will have approximately four months before they will be charged for going over their data caps. AT&T claims that they will only begin charging for overages on the third billing cycle, giving customers at least two 'free' months of overages. Users can opt to switch between unlimited and capped options at will, even in the middle of a billing cycle, and the company will send as many as seven email reminders at various data usage points as they approach the cap in the first two months as a warning to the overages.

This is a lot to take in, but there is still plenty of time to figure out how the changes will affect you. 

Are you a U-Verse or AT&T DSL user? What do you think about the new data caps for U-Verse users and the $30/month unlimited data option?

Source: AT&T

Asus Echelon GTX 950 Limited Edition In Arctic Camouflage Available Soon

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 30, 2016 - 06:58 AM |
Tagged: maxwell, gtx 950, GM206, asus

Asus is launching a new midrange gaming graphics card clad in arctic camouflage. The Echelon GTX 950 Limited Edition is a Maxwell-based card that will come factory overclocked and paired with Asus features normally reserved for their higher end cards.

This dual slot, dual fan graphics card features “auto-extreme technology” which is Asus marketing speak for high end capacitors, chokes, and other components. Further, the card uses a DirectCU II cooler that Asus claims offers 20% better cooling performance while being 3-times quieter than the NVIDIA reference cooler. Asus tweaked the shroud on this card to resemble a white and gray arctic camouflage design. There is also a reinforced backplate that continues the stealthy camo theme.

Asus Echelon GTX 950 Limited Edition.png

I/O on the Echelon GTX 950 Limited Edition includes:

  • 1 x DVI-D
  • 1 x DVI-I
  • 1 x HDMI 2.0
  • 1 x DisplayPort

The card supports NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology and the inclusion of an HDMI 2.0 port allows it to be used in a HTPC/gaming PC build for the living room though case selection would be limited since it’s a larger dual slot card.

Beneath the stealthy exterior, Asus conceals a GM206-derived GTX 950 GPU with 768 CUDA cores, 48 Texture Units, and 32 ROPs as well as 2GB of GDDR5 memory. Out of the box, users have two factory overclocks to choose from that Asus calls Gaming and Overclock modes. In gaming mode, the Echelon GTX 950 GPU is clocked at 1,140 MHz base and 1,329 MHz boost. Turing the card to OC Mode, clockspeeds are further increased to 1,165 MHz base and 1,355 MHz boost.

For reference, the, well, reference GTX 950 clockspeeds are 1,024 MHz base and 1,186 MHz boost.

Asus Echelon GTX 950 Limited Edition Artic Camo Backplate.png

Asus also ever-so-slightly overclocked the GDDR5 memory to 6,610 MHz which is unfortunately a mere 10MHz over reference. The memory sits on a 128-bit bus and while a factory overclock is nice to see, transfer speeds increases will be minimal at best.

In our review of the GTX 950 which focused on the Asus Strix variant, Ryan found it be a good option for 1080p gamers wanting a bit more graphical prowess than the 750Ti for their games.

Maximum PC reports that camo-clad Echelon GTX 950 will be available at the end of the month. Pricing has not been released by Asus, but I would expect this card to come with an MSRP of around $180 USD.

Check out our review of the NVIDIA GTX 950: Maxwell for MOBAs

 

Source: Asus

The Tobii EyeX eye tracker can be much more than a gaming peripheral

Subject: General Tech | March 29, 2016 - 11:31 PM |
Tagged: input, Tobii, EyeX, eye tracking

The Tobii EyeX eye-tracking controller is a small USB 3.0 device which fastens to the bottom of your monitor, more or less permanently, to allow you to control some games and programs with your eyes.  The reviewer at The Tech Report discovered something unique about himself while conducting this review, while the five people he had try the EyeX the setup was flawless and easy, however his own eyes proved quite problematic.  An upgrade to his glasses seems to have mostly mitigated the issue, however it might be worth remembering if you pick one up and have issues during calibration. 

Once the EyeX was set up it worked in game, with some small issues which were not game breaking.  Of more interest is the final page of the review, combining the EyeX with the Gazespeaker software form a potent duo to help those who have difficulties communicating in other ways.  If you play games which benefit from eyetracking or know of someone who could benefit from Gazespeaker you should check out the full review.

eyex.jpg

"Tobii's EyeX eye-tracking controller promises to add more interactivity to some games by letting players take over certain in-game actions using nothing but the direction of their gaze. We spent some eyes-on time with the EyeX to see how it works."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Win 7 Pro is not Enterprise, which you should have probably known already

Subject: General Tech | March 29, 2016 - 05:57 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

As far as Updategate issues go, this one seems less a Microsoft problem and more of a consumer problem; however it does remain a serious problem.  For a while now Microsoft have stated that Enterprise Editions of Windows 7 will not be upgraded to Windows 10, nor should they see the nag screens we have all grown to know and despise.   The problem is that not every company uses Microsoft's Volume Licensing which is the only way to get the Enterprise Edition and even if they do they often customize the installation which can remove the Enterprise flag which prevents the upgrade prompts from appearing.

In practice what that means is businesses are now starting to see the upgrade nag screens, from doctors offices to roofing companies to large businesses which are not part of the volume licensing.  As The Inquirer spotted in one comment, this can be a huge problem as a bronchoscopy cart in a hospital which was needed immediately couldn't be used until Windows Update was finished with it.  It has also negatively effected Bootcamp setups or required a system password which no one had used for years.  Here we thought U2 giving away music for free was bad; expect to become as bored of this topic as you are of the nag screens over the coming months.

windows-7-enterprise-48.jpg

"Qualified computers and devices that are deployed in your organization and that are running Windows 7 Pro or Windows 8.1 Pro are eligible for the free Windows 10 upgrade offer and will be able to upgrade through Windows Update."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Realistic Landscapes in Unreal Engine 4

Subject: General Tech | March 29, 2016 - 05:55 PM |
Tagged: unreal engine, epic games, art by rens

This work was featured on Unreal Engine's GDC sizzle video as "Photogrammetry", but I've only just now found out where it came from. The creator, Rense de Boer, goes by the consistent online branding of Art by Rens. He worked at DICE from 2011 through 2014, working on the Battlefield franchise, and now he seems to be doing his own thing.

The environment work is stunning. The snow, slightly thawed and refrozen, covers the rocks and leaves in a way that looks absolutely real. Some of the rocks look partially moss-covered, with the plant seemingly breaking it down, and coming up through the cracks. There's only so many ways that I can describe it, but it's definitely worth a look. He targets four Titan-class video cards, but he's aiming for 4K.

epic-2016-artbyrens-leaves.jpg

He hasn't announced any product yet, so we're not really sure why he's doing it. He did receive a grant from Epic Games, though. I'm not sure exactly how much, just that $500,000 USD was split 30 ways, but not uniformly (some received more than others).

Source: Art by Rens