Acer Unveils Chromebook 13 Powered By NVIDIA Tegra K1 SoC

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | August 11, 2014 - 05:00 AM |
Tagged: webgl, tegra k1, nvidia, geforce, Chromebook, Bay Trail, acer

Today Acer unveiled a new Chromebook powered by an NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor. The aptly-named Chromebook 13 is 13-inch thin and light notebook running Google’s Chrome OS with up to 13 hours of battery life and three times the graphical performance of existing Chromebooks using Intel Bay Trail and Samsung Exynos processors.

Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311_AcerWP_app-02.jpg

The Chromebook 13 is 18mm thick and comes in a white plastic fanless chassis that hosts a 13.3” display, full size keyboard, trackpad, and HD webcam. The Chromebook 13 will be available with a 1366x768 or 1920x1080 resolution panel depending on the particular model (more on that below).

Beyond the usual laptop fixtures, external I/O includes two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI video output, a SD card reader, and a combo headphone/mic jack. Acer has placed one USB port on the left side along with the card reader and one USB port next to the HDMI port on the rear of the laptop. Personally, I welcome the HDMI port placement as it means connecting a second display will not result in a cable invading the mousing area should i wish to use a mouse (and it’s even south paw friendly Scott!).

The Chromebook 13 looks decent from the outside, but it is the internals where the device gets really interesting. Instead of going with an Intel Bay Trail (or even Celeron/Core i3), Acer has opted to team up with NVIDIA to deliver the world’s first NVIDIA-powered Chromebook.

Specifically, the Chromebook 13 uses a NVIDIA Tegra K1 SoC, up to 4GB RAM, and up to 32GB of flash storage. The K1 offers up four A15 CPU cores clocked at 2.1GHz, and a graphics unit with 192 Kepler-based CUDA cores. Acer rates the Chromebook 13 at 11 hours with the 1080p panel or 13 hours when equipped with the 1366x768 resolution display. Even being conservative, the Chromebook 13 looks to be the new leader in Chromebook battery life (with the previous leader claiming 11 hours).

acer chromebook 13 tegra k1 quad core multitasking benchmark.jpg

A graph comparing WebGL performance between the NVIDIA Tegra K1, Intel (Bay Trail) Celeron N2830, Samsung Exynos 5800, and Samsung Exynos 5250. Results courtesy NVIDIA.

The Tegra K1 is a powerful little chip, and it is nice to see NVIDIA get a design win here. NVIDIA claims that the Tegra K1, which is rated at 326 GFLOPS of compute performance, offers up to three times the graphics performance of the Bay Trail N2830 and Exynos 5800 SoCs. Additionally, the K1 reportedly uses slightly less power and delivers higher multi-tasking performance. I’m looking forward to seeing independent reviews in this laptop formfactor and hoping that the chip lives up to its promises.

The Chromebook 13 is currently up for pre-order and will be available in September starting at $279. The Tegra K1-powered laptop will hit the United States and Europe first, with other countries to follow. Initially, the Europe roll-out will include “UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, France, Germany, Russia, Italy, Spain, South Africa and Switzerland.”

Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311_closed 2.jpg

Acer is offering three consumer SKUs and one education SKU that will be exclusively offering through a re-seller. Please see the chart below for the specifications and pricing.

Acer Chromebook 13 Models System Memory (RAM) Storage (flash) Display Price MSRP
CB5-311-T9B0 2GB 16GB 1920 x 1080 $299.99
CB5-311-T1UU 4GB 32GB 1920 x 1080 $379.99
CB5-311-T7NN - Base Model 2GB 16GB 1366 x 768 $279.99
Educational SKU (Reseller Only) 4GB 16GB 1366 x 768 $329.99

Intel made some waves in the Chromebook market earlier this year with the announcement of several new Intel-powered Chrome devices and the addition of conflict-free Haswell Core i3 options. It seems that it is now time for the ARM(ed) response. I’m interested to see how NVIDIA’s newest model chip stacks up to the current and upcoming Intel x86 competition in terms of graphics power and battery usage.

As far as Chromebooks go, if the performance is at the point Acer and NVIDIA claim, this one definitely looks like a decent option considering the price. I think a head-to-head between the ASUS C200 (Bay Trail N2830, 2GB RAM, 16GB eMMC, and 1366x768 display at $249.99 MSRP) and Acer Chromebook 13 would be interesting as the real differentiator (beyond aesthetics) is the underlying SoC. I do wish there was a 4GB/16GB/1080p option in the Chromebook 13 lineup though considering the big price jump to get 4GB RAM (mostly as a result of the doubling of flash) in the $379.99 model at, say, $320 MSRP.

Read more about Chromebooks at PC Perspective!

Source: Acer

Only 1 more sleep to go before the Fragging Frog's VLAN #7

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2014 - 04:25 PM |
Tagged: VLAN party, kick ass, gaming, fragging frogs

If you haven't yet signed up in the official thread, stocked up on snacks and beverages and reserved all of the weekend for gaming then maybe this will excite you enough to change your plans.

By the way, Play Battlefield 4 Free for a Week. Origin Game Time is On!  It is a rather popular choice with the Frogs so if you don't have it that is no excuse!

You should also consider subscribing to TornTV where you can find a lot of Fragging Frog and PC Perspective action.   There will also be a live stream where you can show off your skills, or lack thereof, to the whole internet!

There is a GTX 760 in Gigabyte's Brix

Subject: Systems | August 8, 2014 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, gigabyte brix, brix, BXi5G-760

This particular Brix is a lot more powerful than most with an i5-4200H and what they refer to as a GeForce GTX 760 with 6GB of GDDR5.  The GTX 760 is not quite the same as the desktop version, with 1344 shaders as opposed to 1152 and a slightly lower clock at 967MHz Boost for the GPU and 1250MHz for the RAM.  The storage and RAM are left up to you, with the assumption that an SSD will be installed like it was in The Tech Report's review model.  The small system was capable of 1080p gaming at medium to high resolution which is rather impressive considering the heat constraints.

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"Gigabyte's Brix Gaming BXi5G-760 is a mini-PC on steroids, with a discrete Nvidia GPU and a dual-core Haswell CPU inside. Can it hang with traditional gaming PCs? We put it through some tough tests to find out."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

HGST refreshes it's Ultrastar Enterprise SSD line

Subject: Storage | August 8, 2014 - 11:16 AM |
Tagged: ultrastar, hgst, enterprise ssd, 20nm

HGST has refreshed their 12Gbit/s SAS series of Ultrastar SSDs with denser 20nm which has upped the read speeds though the writes do suffer somewhat.  As they are enterprise drives they have rather impressive lifespans, the 800GB is rated at 25 full drives writes/day for the length of the 5 year warranty.  They also offer encryption and erasure tools that are superior to enthusiast drives, along with a much higher price tag.  The Register also offers information on the new Ultrastar HDDs and a link to the spec sheets but as of yet we do not have any benchmarks.

hgst_ultrastar_ssds.jpg

"HGST has refreshed its Ultrastar enterprise SSD line, using denser 20nm NAND to replace the previous 25nm flash, doubling capacity, upping read performance but lowering write performance a tad in the process."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: The Register

AMD Branded SSDs good; Radeon R7 branded SSDs not so much

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2014 - 09:39 AM |
Tagged: ssd, radeon r7, confusing, amd, 19nm

In a branding move that has no possibility of causing confusion, AMD has announce the name of their new SSD line and it seems that the next Radeon R7 240 you buy might be a GPU or then again it might not be.  Brand confusion aside, the drives will use 19nm Toshiba NAND fabbed at SanDisk and are predicted to perform similar to other drives with the same NAND, reads of 550MBps and 530MBps write.  However as we well know the key to performance lies in the controller and the number of channels so it will be interesting to see the first benchmarks.  As The Inquirer points out this could lead to the release of AMD branded machines, containing AMD made APU, RAM, SSD and discrete GPU.

also_radeon.jpg

also Radeon

"The Radeon R7 range consisting of 120GB, 240GB and 480GB flavours and is designed to appeal to the gaming market, putting it in direct competition with Micron's Crucial range which expanded to include the MX100, which premiered earlier this year claiming 89 percent performance improvement over a standard hard drive."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

FMS 2014: Silicon Motion announces new SM2256 controller driving 1xnm TLC NAND

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | August 7, 2014 - 02:37 PM |
Tagged: ssd, SM2256, silicon motion, sata, FMS 2014, FMS

Silicon Motion has announced their SM2256 controller. We caught a glimpse of this new controller on the Flash Memory Summit show floor:

DSC04256.JPG

The big deal here is the fact that this controller is a complete drop-in solution that can drive multiple different types of flash, as seen below:

DSC04258.JPG

The SM2256 can drive all variants of TLC flash.

The controller itself looks to have decent specs, considering it is meant to drive 1xnm TLC flash. Just under 100k random 4k IOPS. Writes are understandably below the max saturation of SATA 6Gb/sec at 400MB/sec (writing to TLC is tricky!). There is also mention of Silicon Motion's NANDXtend Technology, which claims to add some extra ECC and DSP tech towards the end of increasing the ability to correct for bit errors in the flash (more likely as you venture into 8 bit per cell territory).

Press blast after the break:

FMS 2014: Phison announces new quad-core PS3110 SATA 6Gb/s SSD controller

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | August 7, 2014 - 02:25 PM |
Tagged: ssd, sata, PS5007, PS3110, phison, pcie, FMS 2014, FMS

At the Flash Memory Summit, Phison has updated their SSD controller lineup with a new quad-core SSD controller.

DSC04264.JPG

The PS3110 is capable of handling TLC as well as MLC flash, and the added horsepower lets it push as high as 100k IOPS.

DSC04260.JPG

Also seen was an upcoming PS5007 controller, capable of pushing PCIe 3.0 x4 SSDs at 300k IOPS and close to 3GB/sec sequential throughputs. While there were no actual devices on display of this new controller, we did spot the full specs:

DSC04263.JPG

Full press blast on the PS3110 appears after the break:

Source: Phison

FMS 2014: HGST Claims 3 Million IOPS and 1.5us Access Time SSD - updated with pics

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | August 7, 2014 - 11:17 AM |
Tagged: ssd, phase change memory, PCM, hgst, FMS 2014, FMS

According to an HGST press release, the company will bring an SSD based on phase change memory to the 2014 Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara, California. They claim that it will actually be at their booth, on the show floor, for two days (August 6th and 7th).

The device, which is not branded, connects via PCIe 2.0 x4. It is designed for speed. It is allegedly capable of 3 million IOPS, with just 1.5 microseconds required for a single access. For comparison, the 800GB Intel SSD DC P3700, recently reviewed by Allyn, had a dominating lead over the competitors that he tested. It was just shy of 250 thousand IOPS. This is, supposedly, about twelve times faster.

HGST_CompanyLogo.png

While it is based on a different technology than NAND, and thus not directly comparable, the PCM chips are apparently manufactured at 45nm. Regardless, that is significantly larger lithography than competing products. Intel is manufacturing their flash at 20nm, while Samsung managed to use a 30nm process for their recent V-NAND launch.

What does concern me is the capacity per chip. According to the press release, it is 1Gb per chip. That is about two orders of magnitude smaller than what NAND is pushing. That is, also, the only reference to capacity in the entire press release. It makes me wonder how small the total drive capacity will be, especially compared to RAM drives.

Of course, because it does not seem to be a marketed product yet, nothing about pricing or availability. It will almost definitely be aimed at the enterprise market, though (especially given HGST's track record).

*** Update from Allyn ***

I'm hijacking Scott's news post with photos of the actual PCM SSD, from the FMS show floor:

DSC04122.JPG

DSC04124.JPG

In case you all are wondering, yes, it does in fact work:

DSC04125.JPG

DSC04126.JPG

DSC04127.JPG

One of the advantages of PCM is that it is addressed at smaller sections as compared to typical flash memory. This means you can see ~700k *single sector* random IOPS at QD=1. You can only pull off that sort of figure with extremely low IO latency. They only showed this output at their display, but ramping up QD > 1 should reasonably lead to the 3 million figure claimed in their release.

Source: HGST

ASUS Republic of Gamers Announces the Crossblade Ranger

Subject: Motherboards | August 7, 2014 - 11:14 AM |
Tagged: SupremeFX 2014, LANGuard, KeyBot, GameFirst III, FM2+, crossblade ranger, ASUS ROG, asus, amd

ASUS Republic of Gamers have just released their first FM2+ board, the Crossblade Ranger which should be available for ~$160 in the next few days, a perfect base for the A10-7800 and A6-7400K which Josh just reviewed.  There is a host of features on this board, from an updated SupremeFX 2014 audio system to eliminate interference and adjust impedance to the LANGuard and GameFirst III networking enhancements.  KeyBot is also new, it allows you to program macros on any USB keyboard regardless of the capabilities of the keyboard itself.  Check out the full release for a breakdown of the features.

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Fremont, CA (6th August, 2014) - ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) today announced the Crossblade Ranger, the first AMD FM2+ motherboard to carry the revered ROG brand name, packed with game-boosting features for an AMD-based gaming powerhouse that is beyond compare. The Crossblade Ranger’s core benefits include the best gaming networking with Intel Gigabit Ethernet, the best gaming audio from SupremeFX 2014, the best gaming interface with KeyBot and the best gaming performance.

Best gaming networking
The Crossblade Ranger is fitted with state-of-the-art Intel Gigabit Ethernet that delivers better throughput and lower power consumption than competing solutions from other vendors.

The new motherboard’s networking capabilities additionally benefit from ROG-exclusive GameFirst III technology for optimal online gameplay. This advanced network-optimization software assigns top priority to game-data packets, allocating them more bandwidth to ensure the best online-gaming experience and clear, stutter-free online team-chat — all controlled with ROG’s usual intuitive flair.

These features are coupled with LANGuard Ethernet socket technology. LANGuard works by employing advanced filtering components with low impedance capacitors to reduce noise and improve throughput and also includes ESD and surge-protection to prevent damage from lightning strikes and static-electricity discharges.

Best gaming audio
Immersive audio is essential for gaming, so the Crossblade Ranger is engineered with SupremeFX 2014. At its core the SupremeFX 2014 solution uses PCB isolation techniques to minimize electromagnetic interference (EMI) and premium ELNA audio capacitors to provide precise 7.1 channel audio that’s on par with the best soundcards.

SupremeFX 2014 features dedicated hardware for features such as Sonic SenseAmp and Sonic SoundStage. Sonic SenseAmp automatically detects analog-audio front-panel (AAFP) headphone impedance and adjusts the amp gain to provide the best volume control range - taking the guesswork and hassle out of setting gain manually.

Sonic Soundstage is a hardware based solution that features preset audio profiles for a variety of gaming genres. First-person shooter (FPS), racing, combat and sports games presets are available via an onboard hardware switch or via the included (Windows) driver package. The benefit of including an onboard hardware switch is that the Sonic Soundstage presets can be applied without needing a driver – so works with any operating system. For Windows users, the presets are fully customizable via software, allowing one to tailor sound to personal preference.

SupremeFX 2014 also includes additional software features to provide a competitive gaming edge and improve immersion.

Designed for first-person shooters (FPS), Sonic Radar II displays a stealthy overlay that shows what opponents and teammates are up to. Players see the precise direction and origin of in-game sounds such as gunshots, footsteps and call-outs, enabling them to hone enemy-pinpointing skills.

Sonic Studio can be used to create virtual surround modes for stereo headsets, provides EQ controls to tune various parts of the audio spectrum and includes noise reduction algorithms for microphones – this all adds up to make SupremeFX 2014 the complete gaming audio solution.

Crossblade-Ranger-product-photo-2D.jpg

Best gaming interface
The Crossblade Ranger includes KeyBot, a clever tool that lets users instantly ‘upgrade’ an existing keyboard simply by attaching it to the dedicated USB socket.

Once connected, the KeyBot microprocessor is activated and the user is able to use their current keyboard to control multimedia playback, launch favorite applications or assign macros to specific keys —perfect for automating complicated in-game key sequences without the need for an expensive gaming keyboard.

Best gaming performance and experience
Being an ROG motherboard, the Crossblade Ranger is infused with core ROG DNA.

Overclocking Features
ROG’s Auto-Tuning technology enables the Crossblade Ranger to unleash the true power of AMD APUs with just few mouse clicks. Thanks to the TPU microprocessor (Turbo Processing Unit), the Auto-Tuning routine applies a CPU overclock without need to enter UEFI - perfect for users that are new to the platform.

For users that prefer manual control, the TPU microprocessor and bundled Turbo-V application allows real-time voltage adjustments within the Windows operating system to simplify the process of overclocking a system. Naturally, the ROG UEFI is also chock-full of overclocking functions that help squeeze every ounce of performance from the AMD FM2+ platform.

Fan Controls
To keep things cool and quiet, we’ve included five onboard fan headers – each with PWM (4-pin) or DC (3-pin) control. Extensive fan control options are available within UEFI or the automated Fan Xpert 3 calibration utility. Using either method, anyone can customize fan profiles in order to maximize cooling efficiency and eliminate unnecessary fan noise. The level of control on offer here sets a new standard for the FM2+ platform and completely negates the need for using a dedicated and expensive fan controller.

ROG Accessories
The Crossblade Ranger is also compatible with the ROG Front Base dual-bay gaming panel. The ROG Front Base enables one-click performance boosting, fan-controls, shielded front audio input/outputs, audio profile selection, volume control and real-time system monitoring to provide everything a gamer needs within a single unit.

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AVAILABILITY & PRICING
The ASUS ROG Crossblade Ranger lands with an MSRP of $159.99 and will be available at all major online retailers in August.

Source: ASUS

Podcast #312 - Thecus N2560 NAS, ASUS STRIX GTX 780, Flash Media Summit News and more

Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2014 - 10:37 AM |
Tagged: podcast, video, Thecus, n2560, asus, strix, strix 780, flash media summit, Samsung, tlc, vnand, Marvell, gtx 880, x99s sli plus

PC Perspective Podcast #312 - 08/07/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the Thecus N2560 NAS, ASUS STRIX GTX 780, Flash Media Summit News 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: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Scott Michaud, and Morry Tietelman

Program length: 1:00:33
 

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

 

AMD hits the peak of performance in gaming and productivity

Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2014 - 09:45 AM |
Tagged: HPC, amd, firepro, S9150, S9050, opencl

The new cooling on the 290X tends to have it at the top of the gaming charts and with the impending release of two new FirePro HPC cards AMD looks to take the productivity title away from the Tesla K40.  The higher end S9150 boasts 16GB GDDR5 memory with a 512-bit memory interface, 44 GCN compute units with 64 stream processors each there is a total of 2816 stream processors on board.  That equates to 5.07 TFLOPS peak single-precision  2.53 TFLOPS peak double-precision performance with theoretical memory bandwidth of 320GB per second.  AMD expects the S9150 to have support for OpenCL 2.0 drivers by the end of the year, which the lower priced and specced S9050 will not though both will support AMD Stream technology and OpenCL 1.2.  Check them out at The Register.

amd_firepro_s9150.jpg

"The company's new big gun is the FirePro S9150 card, which maxes out at a blistering 5.07 TFLOPS peak single-precision floating-point performance and 2.53 TFLOPS peak double-precision performance."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Wing Commander 3 Is "On the House" (Free).

Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2014 - 05:35 PM |
Tagged: origin, on the house, free, free games

Origin, with its On the House program, has been releasing games for free, to promote their distribution platform. This time, they dug deep in the back catalog and pulled out Wing Command 3: Heart of the Tiger. This DOS-era game is the last of the three focused on "The Confederation" versus "The Kilrathi". It was also the first to use "full motion video", headlined by Mark Hamill, rather than animated cutscenes. "On the House" makes it free forever, if you declare your interest before the promotion ends.

origin-wing-commander-on-house-not-sure-if.jpg

Not sure if free...
... or Fry from Futurama.

It is also available at Good Old Games, for $5.99, but it does go on sale from time to time. At the very least, it is probably worth picking it up on Origin and, if you like it, pick up the DRM-free version at GoG.com for safe archival.

And if you don't like it? Well, you're not out much, are you?

Source: Origin

Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E M Wireless Keyboard Is Unusual

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | August 6, 2014 - 05:18 PM |
Tagged: keyboard, travel keyboard, htpc keyboard

So, I am writing about a wireless, non-mechanical keyboard.

Mad Catz has made a weird keyboard layout. Honestly, it looks like something from a 1990's-era sci-fi video game. I could imagine "Lev Arris" pulling it out of his trench coat while discussing space pirates. It also includes mouse and media functionality, even when pairing with Android and iOS devices (it connects with Macs and PCs, too). It's also small.

mad-catz-strike-m.jpg

As stated earlier, its keys are not mechanical. They are, also, not membrane-dome. The keys are based on scissor-switches, common with laptop keyboards. While I do not know the specifics of this keyboard, I do not know of any scissor-switch keyboard with removable keys. This means that, if something gets stuck under a keycap, you cannot remove it (unless you intend to never put it back on). Again, Mad Catz could have done something special, but it is something to think about -- especially if you intend on using this keyboard in the living room while eating.

The keyboard has an adjustable, white backlight for the "main" keys. It is, also, $100. This is definitely a unique design, tailored for a living room (or hotel room) experience. It is not cheap, but interesting. I could see it being useful, especially if a user could use it for both their living room, and during travel.

Source: Mad Catz

Enermax goes big with the Liqtech 240 AIO cooler

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 6, 2014 - 04:19 PM |
Tagged: AIO, enermax, Liqtech 240

As you can see in the picture the radiator on the Enermax Liqtech 240 is not small, at 273mm x 27mm x 120mm you should ensure that it is compatible with your case or be willing to dig out the dremel to mod said enclosure.  The large fans run almost silently at lower temperatures and even when going full out this AIO cooler really does not produce a lot of noise.  As to its performance, [H]ard|OCP found it to be significantly better than the smaller 120 version though the price is higher than some of the competition however for some the quiet performance will be worth the price.  Check the full review here.

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"Enermax comes to us today with its Liqtech 240 AIO liquid cooling system for CPUs sporting healthy list of features including; copper cold plate with patented Shunt-Channel-Technology (SCT), seamless contact radiator fins, non-permeable flexible tubing, and a fan control system offering three cooling modes."

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

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

It's the Post-Post-PC Era! (I can do it, too! :3)

Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2014 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: best buy, tablets, convertible, laptop

Hubert Joly, CEO of Best Buy, talked with Re/code about the overall health of their company and various industry trends. The first question (at least in the order Re/code presented them) asked about the decline of the PC industry. He responded that PC sales are actually recovering, to some extent, but that Android tablets are, now, "crashing".

Best_Buy_Logo.png

His view is that laptops are adopting the successful bits of the tablet market, especially as a result of various two-in-one initiatives. He believes students, in particular, appreciate tablet/laptop hybrids. This is certainly what Intel has been hoping for, through its recent Ultrabook efforts. He hopes that innovation will be done at the high end, so consumers will not simply settle for the $300-tier.

He did back off on his "crashed" statement, regarding the tablet market, however. The growth of tablets, from the start, were amazing. However, like the argument with "good enough" PCs, there does not seem to be a compelling argument for users to move to the next device, at least not yet. Like PCs, devices are being replaced, just not driven from industry forces. Also, like smartphones, the market seems to have matured, slowing in growth.

Naturally, Joly believes that Best Buy will be around for years to come. I agree with his reasoning. He acknowledges the squeeze between online resellers and boutique shops, which puts Best Buy in an awkward middle niche when the goal of a big box store is to be not niche. My interpretation of his strategy is to, instead of being crushed, strive to overlap. Embrace what the customers want on either side while doing your thing in the middle.

It is still questionable whether it will work, but it seems like the right move.

Source: Re/code

Never give up on Deadly Shadows

Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2014 - 02:46 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Thief 3 Gold, mod

For those thieves with no patience, at least while in game, the Thief 3 Gold mod has hit 1.0 and is ready for you to try.  Gone are in map loading screens and in some cases the AI for the guards has been improved.  This will be rolled up into the Sneaky Upgrade in the near future and the team will continue working on upgrades like briefing missions and changing the win conditions on a certain mission.  Check out more at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN and get the game on Steam.

Don't forget to set your alarms for Saturday, the Seventh Fragging Frogs VLAN will be opening and fun and prizes shall spill out like pond water.

Thief_Deadly_Shadows_boxart.jpg

"A mod removing the mid-level loading from Thief: Deadly Shadows is a good thing. We cooed a bit at the Thief 3 Gold mod before in May when the first beta version arrived–coo!–so now that Version 1.0 is here we’re duty-bound to coo longer, more intensely. CoooOOo! Along with smooshing mission segments into single load-free levels, Gold makes a few other tweaks, including adjusting wonky guard paths and positions."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

FMS 2014: Marvell announces new 88SS1093 PCIe SSD controller

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | August 6, 2014 - 12:03 PM |
Tagged: ssd, pcie, NVMe, Marvell, FMS 2014, FMS, controller, 88SS1093

Marvell is notorious for being the first to bring a 6Gb/sec SATA controller to market, and they continue to do very well in that area. Their very capable 88SS9189 controller powers the Crucial MX100 and M550, as well as the ADATA SP920.

chip-shot-88SS1093.jpg

Today they have announced a newer controller, the 88SS1093. Despite the confusing numbering, the 88SS1093 has a PCIe 3.0 x4 host interface and will support the full NVMe protocol. The provided specs are on the light side, as performance of this controller will ultimately depend on the speed and parallelism of the attached flash, but its sure to be a decent performer. I suspect it would behave like their SATA part, only no longer bottlenecked by SATA 6Gb/sec speeds.

More to follow as I hope to see this controller in person on the exhibition hall (which opens to press in a few hours). Full press blast after the break.

*** Update ***

Apologies as there was no photo to be taken - Marvell had no booth at the exibition space at FMS.

Source: Marvell

Time to update your Gallium3D

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 6, 2014 - 10:34 AM |
Tagged: radeon, Gallium3D, catalyst 14.6 Beta, linux, ubuntu 14.04

The new Gallium3D is up against the open source Catalyst 14.6 Beta, running under Ubuntu 14.04 and both the 3.14 and 3.16 Linux kernels, giving Phoronix quite a bit of testing to do.  They have numerous cards in their test ranging from an HD 6770 to an R9 290 though unfortunately there are no Gallium3D results for the R9 290 as it will not function until the release of the Linux 3.17 kernel.  Overall the gap is closing, the 14.6 Beta still remains the best performer but the open source alternative is quickly closing the gap.

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"After last week running new Nouveau vs. NVIDIA proprietary Linux graphics benchmarks, here's the results when putting AMD's hardware on the test bench and running both their latest open and closed-source drivers. Up today are the results of using the latest Radeon Gallium3D graphics code and Linux kernel against the latest beta of the binary-only Catalyst driver."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Phoronix

MSI Shows X99S SLI Plus Motherboard on Twitter

Subject: Motherboards | August 5, 2014 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: msi, Intel, X99, x99s sli plus

Well, this just happened.

msix99s.jpg

So there you have it, the X99 chipset is a thing, the MSI X99S SLI Plus is a thing, and it looks damned sexy. 

 

 

msix99s2.jpg

I lightened up the photo some to show off more of the features as the black coloring on everything made it all hard to see. Revealed are a total of 8 DIMM slots (DDR4 we assume), four PCI Express x16 slots (though we don't know how many lanes each is connected to), 8 SATA ports, 1 SATA Express and some more goodies. What do you guys think? Stoked for the pending Haswell-E / X99 release?

Source: Twitter

FMS 2014: Samsung announces 3D TLC VNAND, Storage Intelligence initiative

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | August 5, 2014 - 01:19 PM |
Tagged: FMS, vnand, tlc, ssd, Samsung, FMS 2014, Flash Memory Summit

Just minutes ago at the Flash Memory Summit, Samsung announced the production of 32-layer TLC VNAND:

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This is the key to production of a soon-to-be-released 850 EVO, which should bring the excellent performance of the 850 Pro, with the reduced cost benefit we saw with the previous generation 840 EVO. Here's what the progression to 3D VNAND looks like:

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3D TLC VNAND will look identical to the right most image in the above slide, but the difference will be that the charge stored has more variability. Given that Samsung's VNAND tech has more volume to store electrons when compared to competing 2D planar flash technology, it's a safe bet that this new TLC will come with higher endurance ratings than those other technologies. There is much more information on Samsung's VNAND technology on page 1 of our 850 Pro review. Be sure to check that out if you haven't already!

Another announcement made was more of an initiative, but a very interesting one at that. SSDs are generally dumb when it comes to coordinating with the host - in that there is virtually no coordination. An SSD has no idea which pieces of files were meant to be grouped together, etc (top half of this slide):

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Stuff comes into the SSD and it puts it where it can based on its best guess as to how it should optimize those writes. What you'd want to have, ideally, is a more intelligent method of coordination between the host system and the SSD (more like the bottom half of the above slide). Samsung has been dabbling in the possibilities here and has seen some demonstrable gains to be made. In a system where they made the host software aware of the SSD flash space, and vice versa, they were able to significantly reduce write latency during high IOPS activity.

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The key is that if the host / host software has more control over where and how data is stored on the SSD, the end result is a much more optimized write pattern, which ultimately boosts overall throughput and IOPS. We are still in the experimentation stage on Storage Intelligence, with more to follow as standards are developed and the industry pushes forward.

It might be a while before we see Storage Intelligence go mainstream, but I'm definitely eager to see 3D TLC VNAND hit the market, and now we know it's coming! More to follow in the coming days as we continue our live coverage of the Flash Memory Summit!