CES 2016: Razer Blade Stealth Has External GPU Dock

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2016 - 12:59 AM |
Tagged: razer, CES 2016, CES, blade stealth, blade

I've been seeing a handful of Razer laptops in my day-to-day life. They are known to pay attention to details, including the precise shade of green that their USB ports are colored. This seems to translate well to designing ultrabooks. Once again, they announced a new line of Razer Blade PCs. The headlining feature is the Razer Core external graphics enclosure, but I'm more interested in the display.

razer-2016-ces-bladestealth.png

First, the graphics. Instead of integrating a discrete, mobile GPU, Razer is using the Intel HD 520 graphics on their chosen Core i7-6500U Skylake processor. This is not a powerhouse. It can barely play Rainbow Six: Siege and Star Wars Battlefront on low settings. It is power efficient though, and it will handle just about any professional, media, or light gaming task you throw at it. If you want to use it for high-performance graphics, then you will need to connect their optional Razer Core GPU dock by Thunderbolt 3. Pricing and availability are not yet available for that, which can be a deal-breaker quite easily. The other problem is that the Skylake processor is dual-core (four threads). Even with a good GPU, some games might be riding the line on the CPU side. It allows you to dock whatever graphics card you like, though. It's worth considering once we get the rest of the details.

razer-2016-ces-coregpudock.png

But back to the laptop. As I mentioned before, the screen is possibly more interesting than the graphics situation. The panel is based on IGZO technology, which fights with IPS in terms of picture quality. You have two choices in resolution: 2560x1440 with 70% Adobe RGB, or 4K with 100% Adobe RGB. That doesn't seem like much, but Adobe RGB is actually a very wide color space, designed to cover both video and print color spaces. Even the professional grade Dell monitors do not claim 100% Adobe RGB, although they've come within 3% for years now. Having full coverage of Adobe RGB could be very appealing to professionals, especially magazine publishers and similar jobs.

The Razer Blade Stealth is available now, starting at $999.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Razer

CES 2016: Samsung Announces 850 EVO-based Portable SSD T3 - Updated

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2016 - 12:15 AM |
Tagged: T3, ssd, Samsung, portable, msata, CES 2016, CES, 850 EVO

We got our first look at the Samsung T1 SSD at CES 2015. The concept was simple - Make a very compact external portable encrypted drive, and make it fast. Based on a 3D VNAND equipped mSATA 850 EVO and using an ASMedia USB to SATA bridge, the T1 had no issue saturating the SATA side of the link and was capable of well over 400 MB/s over a USB 3.0 link.

This year Samsung is teasing the next iteration on this product:

T3_007_Dynamaic_Silver_resize.png

Dubbed the T3 (T2 doesn't translate well in some other languages), the T3 has some notable changes / updates / upgrades over the T1 of last year:

  • Type-C connector on the device end of the cable (we assume the included cable will link to Standard A for compatibility). The T1 used micro-B.
  • Metal case / housing. T1 was all plastic.
  • Capacities up to 2TB. T1 was limited to 1TB.

Full press blast / additional details / specs appear after the break. Look out for a review of this one just as soon as we can get our hands on one!

*Update* I got my hands on one at a Samsung press dinner. Here it is next to the older T1. The T3 is a tiny bit larger and thicker, but the difference is hardly noticeable as the T1 was very thin and light as it was. Here's a pic:

image.jpeg

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

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Source: Samsung

Microsoft Announces ReCore Will Be Released on PC

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2016 - 12:05 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, xbox, recore

ReCore was first announced at the last E3 as an Xbox One exclusive, but Microsoft has recently announced that it will arrive on Windows, too. It is being developed by Comcept and Armature Studio for Microsoft Game Studios. Comcept was founded by Keiji Inafune, producer of Mega Man, Dead Rising, and Lost Planet. Armature Studio was founded by three members of Retro Studios, who made the Metroid Prime franchise. It was supposed to launch in the next couple of months, but it has been pushed to later this year.

microsoft-2016-recore-game.jpg

It's still unclear what the game even is though, which is odd considering its relatively close release date. It is listed as an action-adventure title, and the developer claims that both Metroid and Zelda have influenced its direction. There also seems to be an element of “robotic cores” that can be moved from skeleton to skeleton, bringing its AI with it. Lastly, the Game Info site highlights a robotic companion element. Neither of those two points seem to fit in a Zelda nor a Metroid framework, which revolve around puzzle solving and re-exploring areas with upgraded abilities, respectively. There's something missing, and it will likely be revealed at E3 in June.

We'll see. It could be a bust, but at least we will have the option to try it.

Valve Reviews CS:GO Match-Fixing Bans and Upholds Them

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2016 - 10:03 PM |
Tagged: valve, CS:GO, esports

About a year ago, Valve blocked several players from participating in their sponsored tournaments when the players were believed to be match fixing. This is the practice of arranging outcomes in events and tournaments. This is often accompanied by betting on the pre-arranged winners, but it could also be used to shift around positions in seed brackets by having one or more member intentionally lose winnable games. This is bad all-around, but can even be illegal (due to the implications of fraud and so forth).

valve-nope.jpg

Since then, the game developer has reviewed their earlier decision, and they decided to make it permanent. They did not state how many players were involved, although PC Gamer knows of 21. These individuals will never be allowed to compete at any Valve-sponsored tournaments, and other organizers will be able to extend those bans to their events, too.

A similar incident happened in the Korean StarCraft II scene. In that situation, a dozen individuals were arrested and detained by Korean law enforcement, charged for betting (or enabling third-parties to bet) on predetermined outcomes. This has been an ongoing problem.

Source: Valve

CES 2016: NVIDIA talks SHIELD Updates and VR-Ready Systems

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2016 - 09:39 PM |
Tagged: vr ready, VR, virtual reality, video, Oculus, nvidia, htc, geforce, CES 2016, CES

Other than the in-depth discussion from NVIDIA on the Drive PX 2 and its push into autonomous driving, NVIDIA didn't have much other news to report. We stopped by the suite and got a few updates on SHIELD and the company's VR Ready program to certify systems that meet minimum recommended specifications for a solid VR experience.

For the SHIELD,  NVIDIA is bringing Android 6.0 Marshmallow to the device, with new features like shared storage and the ability to customize the home screen of the Android TV interface. Nothing earth shattering and all of it is part of the 6.0 rollout. 

The VR Ready program from NVIDIA will validate notebooks, systems and graphics cards that have the amount of horsepower to meet the minimum performance levels for a good VR experience. At this point, the specs essentially match up with what Oculus has put forth: a GTX 970 or better on the desktop and a GTX 980 (full, not 980M) on mobile. 

Other than that, Ken and I took in some of the more recent VR demos including Epic's Bullet Train on the final Oculus Rift and Google's Tilt Brush on the latest iteration of the HTC Vive. Those were both incredibly impressive though the Everest demo that simulates a portion of the mountain climb was the one that really made me feel like I was somewhere else.

Check out the video above for more impressions!

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: NVIDIA

CES 2016: ASUS Announces MB169C+ USB Type-C Monitor

Subject: Displays, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2016 - 08:53 PM |
Tagged: usb monitor, usb 3.0, mb169c+, CES 2016, CES, asus

I somehow missed the ASUS MB168B+ USB 3.0 monitor. It is a 15.6-inch, 1080p, TN display that connects to the PC by a single USB 3.0 cord. This provides both power and video, so you can have multiple monitors on the go without struggling to find a wall outlet. At the very least, you can reduce it to just the one charging your laptop.

asus-2016-MB169C+.png

This was upgraded at CES to the MB169C+. It has a few differences. First, it uses an IPS display instead of the MB168B+'s TN panel. This should provide better color and viewing angles. It also switches from a USB 3.0 Type-A connector to a USB 3.0 Type-C one, which is starting to arrive in smaller laptops and tablets (which have to be running Windows for this device). The display is 8.5mm thick and weighs 1.76 lbs.

Pricing and availability vary by region.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: ASUS

CES 2016: ASUS Announces MG Line of 4K Monitors

Subject: Displays, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2016 - 08:20 PM |
Tagged: asus, CES, CES 2016, mg28uq, mg24uq, vrr, freesync, adaptive sync

Two 4K monitors were announced by ASUS at the show. Both use VESA Adaptive-Sync for variable refresh rate (VRR) gaming, which means they are compatible with AMD FreeSync, but not NVIDIA G-Sync. If you want to use the latter VRR standard, then you would be more interested in the ROG Swift PG348Q monitor that was announced in September. There was talk that Intel would be implementing a VRR format VESA Adaptive-Sync in a future GPU.

asus-2016-mg24uq.jpg

ASUS MG24UQ

If you're still here, then you either don't care about variable refresh, or you are looking for an AMD-compatible one. The first one is the 24-inch MG24UQ. It is based on an IPS panel, which are used for vibrant, precise colors and wide viewing angles. They tend to be a little slower than traditional “gaming” panels, but that is so low for the last couple of years that IPS is considered a pure upgrade. The second monitor, the 28-inch MG28UQ, is not IPS, though.

asus-2016-mg28uq.jpg

ASUS MG28UQ

Again, no pricing or availability yet as it varies by region.

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Source: ASUS

CES 2016: RIOTORO Launches with Prism CR1280 Case

Subject: Cases and Cooling, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2016 - 07:15 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2016, riotoro, RGB LED

Some former employees of Corsair and NVIDIA founded a new company, called RIOTORO. All they state is that they develop “innovative PC components,” so it's difficult to gauge where the intend to go in the future. Their website also lists gaming mice and keyboards. They started with a test market in Latin America, but now they feel they are ready to take on the US market.

riotoro-2016-Prism-CR1280-Front_Green.png

Their first product, the Prism CR1280, is a PC case with 256-color RGB LED lighting. Color and fan speed can be controlled by the front panel, which should mean that you don't need yet another driver panel running to change little details on your system. The case itself has the ability to mount a 360mm radiator (or up to three 120mm radiators) on the top, and an additional 240mm radiator in the front, and yet another 120mm radiator in the rear.

The RIOTORO Prism CR1280 will be available in February for $139.99. It comes with a two year warranty.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

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Source: RIOTORO

CES 2016: ASUS Announces ROG GT51 Gaming Desktop

Subject: Systems, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2016 - 06:34 PM |
Tagged: asus, gaming desktop, CES, CES 2016, ROG, rog gt51

While many of our readers that are interested in high-end desktop PCs will typically assemble their own, a handful might like to get someone else to deal with the assembly and support. That's perfectly valid. You will typically spend a little more, especially if you value your free time as free labor, but that might be worth it for some.

asus-2016-GT51 side.png

The ASUS ROG GT51 gaming desktop PC will be one such option. It places itself at the high end, to say the least. It has the Skylake-based Intel Core i7-6700K paired with “up to” a pair of NVIDIA GeForce TITAN X graphics cards. ASUS, like their individual components, support overclocking on the device with their tuning software. The machine also has a USB 3.1 Type-C port, which is highly sought after, even in the DIY motherboard space.

Again, no pricing or availability. I expect the top-of-the-line version will be pretty expensive though, especially with two TITAN X GPUs. It also might be a bit much, since the video cards have been out for almost a year and Pascal might arrive at any time. It might be worth it if they offer other options, like the 980 Ti, depending on your specific needs.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

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Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: ASUS

CES 2016: ASUS Announces XG Station 2 External Graphics

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2016 - 04:47 PM |
Tagged: external graphics, CES 2016, CES, asus

While external graphics has been a thing for quite some time, it was rarely an available thing. Several companies, such as AMD, Lucid, and others, announced products that were never sold. ASUS had their XG Station for Windows Vista that allowed laptops to plug into a GeForce 8600 GT, which was only available in Australia. Only now are we beginning to see options from Alienware, MSI, and even Microsoft that are widely available.

asus-2016-ROG XG2_front.jpg

ASUS is jumping back in, too. Not much is known about the XG Station 2, except that it is “specially designed for ASUS laptops and graphics cards.” This sounds like it is using a proprietary connector, similar to Alienware and MSI, to connect to ASUS laptops. Also saying it's specifically for ASUS graphics cards is a bit confusing, though. If it is an open PCIe slot, I'm not sure why or how it would be limited to ASUS cards. If the graphics cards are pre-installed, then we don't know the list of potential GPUs.

Either way, ASUS states that the dock can be disconnected without shutting down the PC. I'm interested to see how the GPU is supposed to be unplugged, as Alienware's option can only be done when the system is off, and Microsoft's Surface Book has a software detach with a hardware latch. The connector will also charge the laptop, which is an interesting add-in.

Pricing and availability varies, like the other ASUS announcements, by region.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

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Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: ASUS

CES 2016: ASUS Announces XG-D2008 10-Gigabit Switch

Subject: Networking | January 5, 2016 - 03:56 PM |
Tagged: asus, 10 Gbps Ethernet, CES, CES 2016

Our readers have been asking about 10-Gigabit Ethernet devices for several years. It was a common question whenever we have a live stream with motherboard vendors. 10GbE is still quite rare. Gigabit Ethernet is good enough for basically any consumer application short of communicating with network-attached, high-end SSDs. It has several applications for businesses of course, such as connecting web servers to one or more internet connections, or tying compute devices together into a cluster.

asus-2016-XG-D2008.jpg

ASUS has just announced a 10-Gigabit Ethernet switch, although it has limited usage (according to its product photo). The device has ten ports, but only two are 10-Gigabit Ethernet. This means that you are not gaining any 10-Gigabit devices, because you could have just connected devices 9 and 10 together without the switch. What this provides is the ability to append eight, 1-Gigabit Ethernet devices onto two devices that each have a single, 10-Gigabit Ethernet port, while letting those two connect together.

So 9 and 10 can still communicate at 10-Gigabit Ethernet, while seeing 1 through 8 as Gigabit devices, all on a single 10-Gigabit Ethernet port. I'm not sure whether the 10GbE ports, 9 and 10, can talk to multiple of the other eight, Gigabit Ethernet ports at a combined rate that is higher than gigabit.

No word yet on pricing or availability, because it might vary by region. They also don't seem to have a website up for this product at the moment, but the product will be on display at the show.

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Source: ASUS

CES 2016: Linksys EA9500 MAX-STREAM AC5400 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router

Subject: Networking | January 5, 2016 - 10:40 AM |
Tagged: tri-band, mu-mimo, linksys, EA9500, CES 2016, CES, AC5400, 802.11ac Wave 2

Linksys has announced their new flagship 4x4 MU-MIMO wireless router, and the EA9500 offers tri-band Wi-Fi with dual 5 GHz (simultanious) plus 2.4 GHz bands, 8 Gigabit Ethernet ports, and 8x adjustable antennas.

linksys-li-EA9500-1.jpg

"Designed as a dual-purpose home office and entertainment Wi-Fi router, the MAX-STREAM AC5400 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router (EA9500) delivers Wi-Fi to multiple users on multiple devices at the same time and same speed. Now you can experience lag-free videoconferencing or file transfers in your home office upstairs while the rest of the family is streaming 4K or HD media, surfing the web, and playing online games simultaneously.

Efficient MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output) technology treats each of your devices as if each has its own dedicated router, ensuring everyone can enjoy Wi-Fi without interruption or buffering. The router is simple to set up so you can bring your workspace online in three easy steps."

linksys-li-EA9500-3.jpg

  • Key Features:
    • Tri-Band (5 GHz + 5GHz + 2.4 GHz) 
    • 4x4 AC, MU-MIMO
    • Advanced Security
    • USB 3.0 Port
    • Dual-Core CPU
    • Beamforming Technology
    • 8 Adjustable Antennas
    • Smart Wi-Fi
  • Specifications:
    • Wi-Fi Technology: AC5400 MU-MIMO Tri-band Gigabit, 1000+2165+2165 Mbps 
    • Network Standards: 802.11b, 802.11a/g, 802.11n, 802.11ac
    • Wi-Fi Speed: AC5400 (N1000 + AC2615 + AC2615)
    • Wi-Fi Bands: 2.4 and 5 GHz (2x) (simultaneous tri-band)
    • Wi-Fi Range: Very Large Household
    • Ports: 1x Gigabit WAN, 8x Gigabit LAN, 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
    • Antennas: 8x external adjustable antennas
    • Processor: 1.4 GHz dual-core
    • Wireless Encryption: 64/128-bit WEP, WPA2 Personal, WPA2 Enterprise
    • Security Features: WPA/WPA2, 128 bit AES link encryption, FCC class B
    • Operation Modes: Wireless Router, Access Point, Wired Bridge, Wireless Bridge
    • Storage File System Support: FAT, NTFS, HSF+
    • Dimensions (LxWxH): 10.41 x 12.53 x 2.62 inches (without antennas)
    • Weight: 3.8 lbs

The EA9500 MAX-STREAM AC5400 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router will carry a $399.99 MSRP, with availability planned for April 2016.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Linksys

CES 2016: Be Quiet Cases and Cooling

Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 5, 2016 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: Silent Base 800, Shadow Rock LP, CES 2016, CES, be quiet

We visited the Be Quiet suite at CES 2016 and took a look at their current enclosure, cooler, and power supply offerings, but there were some new things to see as the company readies its 2016 lineup.

DSC_0056.jpg

First we looked at the Silent Base 800 enclosure, which will soon be available in red trim, or a green trim version (red pictured). While we have reviewed the Silent Base 600 enclosure, the Silent Base 800 (though built on the same internal chassis) offers additional noise reduction features. Air is drawn through the sides of the front panel and cycled behind the front intake fans, preventing audible fan noise as much as possible, and there is noise dampening material in place throughout.

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The PSU lineup is essentially unchanged for 2016, though Be Quiet is revising the cabling on their power supplies to add "stealth" black - which means that no longer will you see the multi-colored wires anywhere on the cable. This will help provide a much nicer looking build without the use of cable extensions or custom PSU cables.

DSC_0057.jpg

The cooler lineup is likewise unchanged (at least to this point), though availability of some of the coolers such as the Shadow Rock LP (which is manufactured in Taiwan rather than China) should be improving soon.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

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Source: Be Quiet

CES 2016 Podcast Day 1 - Lenovo, NVIDIA Press Conference, new AMD GPUs and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2016 - 04:40 AM |
Tagged: podcast, video, CES, CES 2016, Lenovo, Thinkpad, x1 carbon, x1 yoga, nvidia, pascal, amd, Polaris, FinFET, 14nm

CES 2016 Podcast Day 1 - 01/05/16

CES is just beginning. Join us for announcements from Lenovo, NVIDIA Press Conference, new AMD GPUs and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, Ken Addison and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:11:05

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

CES 2016: Logitech G Proteus Spectrum Gaming Mouse

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2016 - 04:00 AM |
Tagged: RGB LED, Proteus Spectrum, Proteus Core, pmw3366, logitech g, logitech, gaming mouse, CES 2016, CES

Logitech has announced a new mouse based on the popular G502 Proteus Core, and the new G502 Proteus Spectrum gaming mouse offers customizable RGB lighting.

g502_cyan.jpeg

"By adding RGB customizable lighting the Logitech G502 Proteus Core, the world’s best selling gaming mouse just got even better. The Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum still retains the world’s best DPI sensor, advanced surface and weight tuning, but now gives you even more features to elevate your game and style."

The mouse uses the highly regarded PMW3366 optical sensor which provides a range of 200 - 12,000 DPI "with zero sensor acceleration, zero smoothing or filtering and zero pixel rounding" according to Logitech.

g502_top.jpeg

The lighting effects are controlled with the Logitech Gaming Software (LGS) application, with 16.8 million possible colors and different selectable patterns (breathe, cycle). The weight and center of balance can be customized as well via five 3.6 g weights in the mouse, and 11 programmable buttons allow further customization via LGS.

g502_yellow.jpeg

The G502 Proteus Spectrum should be available in the U.S. and Europe beginning this month, with an MSRP of $79.99.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

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Source: Logitech G

CES 2016: Fasetto Teases Link SSD Storage Platform

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2016 - 01:39 AM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2016, Fasetto, Link, wifi, NAS, ssd, Samsung, vnand, 802.11ac

Fasetto is a company previously known as one of those cross-platform file-sharing web apps, but I was shocked to see them with a space at CES Unveiled. Companies without physical products tend to fall flat at this type of venue, but as I walked past, boy was I mistaken!

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To give the size a bit of perspective here, that's a business card sitting in front of the 'Link', which only measures 1.9x1.9x0.9" and weighs just under 4 ounces. That's a belt clip to the right of it. Ok, now that we have the tiny size and low weight described, what has Fasetto packed into that space?

  • Aluminum + ABS construction
  • Waterproof to 45 feet (and it floats!)
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • 802.11AC dual band WiFi (reportedly 4x4)
  • 4GB RAM
  • Quad core ARM CPU
  • 9-axis compass/accelerometer/gyro
  • 1350 mAh Li battery
  • Wireless charging (Chi style)
  • Up to 2TB SSD

For a portable storage device, that is just an absolutely outstanding spec sheet! The Link is going to run an OS designed specifically for this device, and will have plugin support (simple add-on apps that can access the accelerometer and log movement, for example).

The BIG deal with this device is of course the ability to act as a portable wireless storage device. In that respect it can handle 20 simultaneous devices, stream to seven simultaneously, and can also do the expected functions like wireless internet pass-through. Claimed standby power is two weeks and active streaming is rated at up to 8 hours. Even more interesting is that I was told the internal storage will be Samsung 48-layer VNAND borrowed from their T3 (which explains why the Fasetto Link will not be available until late 2016). This is sure to be a hit with photographers, as WiFi compatible cameras should be able to stream photos to the Link as the photos are being taken, eliminating the need to offload cameras at the end of a shoot.

We will definitely be working with Fasetto to help shake out any bugs prior to the release of this little gem. I suspect it might just be the most groundbreaking storage product that we see come out of this CES.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2016: NVIDIA Launches DRIVE PX 2 With Dual Pascal GPUs Driving A Deep Neural Network

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2016 - 01:17 AM |
Tagged: tegra, pascal, nvidia, driveworks, drive px 2, deep neural network, deep learning, autonomous car

NVIDIA is using the Consumer Electronics Show to launch the Drive PX 2 which is the latest bit of hardware aimed at autonomous vehicles. Several NVIDIA products combine to create the company's self-driving "end to end solution" including DIGITS, DriveWorks, and the Drive PX 2 hardware to train, optimize, and run the neural network software that will allegedly be the brains of future self-driving cars (or so NVIDIA hopes).

NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 Self Driving Car Supercomputer.jpg

The Drive PX 2 hardware is the successor to the Tegra-powered Drive PX released last year. The Drive PX 2 represents a major computational power jump with 12 CPU cores and two discrete "Pascal"-based GPUs! NVIDIA has not revealed the full specifications yet, but they have made certain details available. There are two Tegra SoCs along with two GPUs that are liquid cooled. The liquid cooling consists of a large metal block with copper tubing winding through it and then passing into what looks to be external connectors that attach to a completed cooling loop (an exterior radiator, pump, and reservoir).

There are a total of 12 CPU cores including eight ARM Cortex A57 cores and four "Denver" cores. The discrete graphics are based on the 16nm FinFET process and will use the company's upcoming Pascal architecture. The total package will draw a maximum of 250 watts and will offer up to 8 TFLOPS of computational horsepower and 24 trillion "deep learning operations per second." That last number relates to the number of special deep learning instructions the hardware can process per second which, if anything, sounds like an impressive amount of power when it comes to making connections and analyzing data to try to classify it. Drive PX 2 is, according to NVIDIA, 10 times faster than it's predecessor at running these specialized instructions and has nearly 4 times the computational horsepower when it comes to TLOPS.

Similar to the original Drive PX, the driving AI platform can accept and process the inputs of up to 12 video cameras. It can also handle LiDAR, RADAR, and ultrasonic sensors. NVIDIA compared the Drive PX 2 to the TITAN X in its ability to process 2,800 images per second versus the consumer graphics card's 450 AlexNet images which while possibly not the best comparison does make it look promising.

NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 DRIVEWORKS.jpg

Neural networks and machine learning are at the core of what makes autonomous vehicles possible along with hardware powerful enough to take in a multitude of sensor data and process it fast enough. The software side of things includes the DriveWorks development kit which includes specialized instructions and a neural network that can detect objects based on sensor input(s), identify and classify them, determine the positions of objects relative to the vehicle, and calculate the most efficient path to the destination.

Specifically, in the press release NVIDIA stated:

"This complex work is facilitated by NVIDIA DriveWorks™, a suite of software tools, libraries and modules that accelerates development and testing of autonomous vehicles. DriveWorks enables sensor calibration, acquisition of surround data, synchronization, recording and then processing streams of sensor data through a complex pipeline of algorithms running on all of the DRIVE PX 2's specialized and general-purpose processors. Software modules are included for every aspect of the autonomous driving pipeline, from object detection, classification and segmentation to map localization and path planning."

DIGITS is the platform used to train the neural network that is then used by the Drive PX 2 hardware. The software is purportedly improving in both accuracy and training time with NVIDIA achieving a 96% accuracy rating at identifying traffic signs based on the traffic sign database from Ruhr University Bochum after a training session lasting only 4 hours as opposed to training times of days or even weeks.

NVIDIA claims that the initial Drive PX has been picked up by over 50 development teams (automakers, universities, software developers, et al) interested in autonomous vehicles. Early access to development hardware is expected to be towards the middle of the year with general availability of final hardware in Q4 2016.

The new Drive PX 2 is getting a serious hardware boost with the inclusion of two dedicated graphics processors (the Drive PX was based around two Tegra X1 SoCs), and that should allow automakers to really push what's possible in real time and push the self-driving car a bit closer to reality and final (self) drive-able products. I'm excited to see that vision come to fruition and am looking forward to seeing what this improved hardware will enable in the auto industry!

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Source: NVIDIA

CES 2016: Activision Blizzard Confirms MLG Purchase

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2016 - 11:44 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, mlg, esports, blizzard, Activision

On New Year's Day, rumors flew about MLG being purchased by Activision Blizzard for $46 million USD. At the time, the vast majority of available information discussed how this would affect shareholders, particularly those with lower-class stock in the eSport company. (As it turns out, very poorly.) I wondered why Activision Blizzard would want MLG's assets, especially considering their heavy involvement with ESL, afreecaTV, and others.

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According to a press release from Activision Blizzard themselves, they intend to “create the ESPN of esports.” The Activision Blizzard Media Networks division will be led by the former CEO of ESPN, Steve Bornstein, and the co-founder of MLG, Mike Sepso. The other co-founder of MLG, Sundance DiGiovanni, will remain at MLG. It was previously rumored, during the investor's leak, that he was replaced by the former CFO of MLG, Greg Chisholm. While I expect that some shuffling has occurred, DiGiovanni will apparently remain in a management role at MLG. Granted, it could be equivalent to Hideo Kojima's “holiday” last October, but that would just be silly.

As far as I can tell, other broadcasters have not commented on what this means to them.

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CES 2016: Lenovo Announces ideapad Y900 Gaming Laptop

Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 4, 2016 - 07:00 PM |
Tagged: Y900, Lenovo, ips, Intel Core i7, GTX 980M, gaming notebook, gaming laptop, CES 2016, CES

Lenovo has announced the Y900, a dedicated gaming machine which features the current high-end mobile CPUs and GPUs, as well as configurable overclocking.

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Exact overclocking numbers are not yet available, but this will be controlled through software to allow users to select a higher performance level. The system can be configured with up to a quad-core 6th gen Intel Core i7 processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M, and up to a massive 64 GB of DD4 memory - though with 4 SoDIMM slots it will be easy to upgrade the memory later. Storage options include PCIe SSDs (1 slot) and traditional SATA 6.0 Gb/s drives, and there is also USB 3.1 Type-C as well as HDMI 2.0 among the I/O.

Specifications from Lenovo:

  • Up to Intel 6th Gen Quad Core i7 overclockable CPU
  • 17.3” 16:9 FHD (1920x1080) IPS Anti-glare
  • NVIDIA GTX-980M 4G/8G GDDR5 PCI-Express discrete graphics
  • Up to 64GB DDR4 memory (4 x SO-DIMM)
  • Up to 512GB SSD PCIe (RAID 0), Up to 1TB HDD SATA 3
  • Camera: 720p with internal digital array microphones
  • 2 x 2.0w JBL speakers and 3.0w subwoofer w/ Dolby Home Theater
  • Battery: Up to 5 hours (Li-Polymer, 6 cell, 90Wh)
  • Ports: 3 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0 w/always on charging, 1 x USB Type C (supports USB 3.1, Display Port, Thunderbolt), Audio Jack, Mic Jack, HDMI 2.0, 4-in-1 card
  • reader, SPDIF, Display Port)
  • Mechanical keyboard with programmable color backlighting
  • Colorful highlighted touchpad
  • Windows 10 Home
  • Dimensions: 425.4mm x 15.2mm x < 35.9mm

ideapad Y900 2.jpg

The Y900 gaming laptop starts at $1999 and will be available beginning in June of this year.

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Source: Lenovo

CES 2016: Lenovo Announces Yoga 900S Convertible Notebook

Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 4, 2016 - 07:00 PM |
Tagged: Yoga 900S, yoga, Lenovo, CES 2016, CES, carbon fiber

Lenovo has announced the Yoga 900S convertible notebook featuring a partial carbon fiber construction, resulting in an incredibly thin and light notebook.

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"Built from carbon fiber, the YOGA 900S is the world's thinnest convertible laptop at 0.5-inches, 2.2lbs."

Here are some of the specifications from Lenovo:

  • 12.5-inch display, up to 2560x1440
  • 10-point touchscreen with Active Pen Support and WRITEit
  • Intel 2nd Intel Core m7 CPU
  • Up to 8GB LPDDR3 memory
  • Up to 512GB PCIe SSD storage
  • Integrated Intel HD graphics
  • Stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium
  • Ports: 1 x USB 3.0 Type A, 1 x USB 3.0 with Video-out Type C, DC-in with USB 2.0 function, Audio Combo Jack
  • Wireless: Intel 2 x 2 802.11 A/C + Bluetooth 4.0
  • Up to 10.5 hrs. local video playback
  • Windows 10 Home

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The Yoga 900S starts at $1099 and will be available in March 2016.

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Source: Lenovo