Raptr's Top PC Games of February 2015

Subject: General Tech | March 31, 2015 - 06:43 PM |
Tagged: raptr, pc gaming

A little late this month, but there is yet another Top 20 PC Games of the month from Raptr. This one counts the amount of person-hours played per title over the month of February and presents them as a percent of their recorded total. This month finally shows some shake-up in the top five games, but not a lot. Still, this was the first time since November that we saw anything other than: League of Legends, World of Warcraft, DOTA 2, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and Smite -- in that order -- at the top of the list.

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Basically, Diablo III rose about a percent and a half to take the fifth-place spot from Smite. First through fourth maintain the exact same order as they have been in since October. In terms of percentage, League of Legends jumped back above 20% total usage and World of Warcraft dropped below 10% total time. Both Valve titles in the top five, DOTA 2 and CS:GO, saw an increase due to content patches.

There was a lot of shuffling in the bottom fifteen, but each have less total play time than the amount that WoW lost. Heroes of the Storm, a MOBA from Blizzard, joined the list at 1.09%. This launches them onto the list at lucky number thirteen. The only game to fall off the list was Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Don't worry, fans of DirectX 9, Star Wars: The Old Republic is still on the list.

Oh, and Dragon Age: Inquisition fell ten places, but caught itself at #19.

Source: Raptr

HUGE Contest and Giveaway - Put a little Green in your PC!

Subject: Editorial | March 31, 2015 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: video, pcper, hwc, hardware canucks, giveaway, contest

One of our favorite holidays is creeping up on us: St. Patrick's Day! What's better than an open excuses to skip work and down some beers? How about getting a boat load of free PC hardware as well?!?

That's right, PC Perspective and Hardware Canucks have teamed up with sponsors NVIDIA, EVGA, ASUS, Crucial and Phanteks to bring our readers and YouTube subscribers a a mega-epic prize pack you are going to have to see to believe!

Here is the total list:

  • Grand Prize
    • ASUS ROG Swift G-Sync Monitor
    • EVGA GTX 980 ACX 2.0
    • ASUS Maximus VII Hero
    • ASUS Strix Claw Mouse
    • ASUS Strix Tactic Pro KB
    • ASUS Strix Pro Headset
    • Crucial MX200 1TB SSD
    • Phanteks Enthoo Luxe Case
    • Phanteks PH-TC14S
    • 2 x Phanteks PH-F140MP
    • 2 x Phanteks PH-F140SP
  • 2nd Prize
    • EVGA GTX 960 ACX 2.0
    • ASUS Maximus VII Hero
    • ASUS Gladius Mouse
    • Crucial BX100 1TB SSD
    • Phanteks PH-TC12LS
    • 2 x Phanteks PH-F140MP
  • 3rd Prize
    • EVGA GTX 960 ACX 2.0
    • ASUS Gladius Mouse

We are hosting this contest on our YouTube channels, so here are the rules for entry:

  1. Subscribe to PCPer's YouTube channel
  2. Leave a comment on PCPer's contest video
  3. Subscribe to Hardware Canucks' YouTube channel
  4. Leave a comment on Hardware Canucks' contest video

Sorry, this is open only to US and Canada users; the cost and complexity of international shipping is just to drastic for this much hardware.

You have until March 30th to enter and we'll announce the winner on March 31st.

Good luck!!

Microsoft Releases Windows 10 Preview Build 10049

Subject: General Tech | March 31, 2015 - 04:47 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, build 10049

Less than two weeks after releasing the last preview build, 10041, Microsoft has pushed an update for users in the “Fast” ring. We have been asking for more rapid releases and we are beginning to get them. I spent quite a bit of Monday downloading, installing, and rebooting to install Build 10049. Now that I have used it for a bit, I can give my opinion.

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Before we get to what's new, I would like to get into what is fixed (and broken). First, apparently Visual Studio 2015 has some issues, particularly with deploying to external devices. On the other hand, my usage of Visual Studio 2013 seems fine and stable. Second, a bug is preventing Hyper-V from being enabled for users who want to create a virtual machine. If you upgrade to 10049 from a previous build, where Hyper-V has been activated, then “everything works fine” when you update.

One of the listed bugs for Build 10041 (the previous build) was that Windows Update would tell you to restart to complete updates even if nothing was installed, and that the messages could be “ignored safely”. I never had that happen in 10041, but have seen it this afternoon in 10049. No big deal.

As for fixed? When I upgraded to 10041, StarCraft II stopped working and apparently the bug extended to Borderlands 2 and The Pre-Sequel, League of Legends, and others. This has been fixed in 10049. I can play StarCraft II without problems. Yay! Also, many sections of the new Settings app crashed when I attempted to open them. This nuisance has been bugging me since one of the earlier builds from last year. It has mostly been fixed now. The only hiccup is “Apps & features”, which sometimes (but not always) crashes after the loading bar completes.

The main “feature” of this build is the introduction of Project Spartan. Now this is interesting. The browser itself feels a lot more smooth. I have been suspecting that Microsoft would include a DirectX 12 rendering path for Project Spartan, which would better explain the move to their “Edge” fork of Trident, but I have been unable to benchmark it. I have been trying to push sites with a lot of small draw calls, but it seems to be within the performance of a normal browser. One WebGL benchmark saw an increase of about 17% going between Internet Explorer 11 with Edge disabled and Project Spartan, but that is probably just more efficient rendering and JavaScript engines. So... nothing yet.

Apparently Cortana has been given some non-descript update. They might be referring to its integration with Spartan, which I have yet to test, but it is still unable to, for instance, set a timer or launch Photoshop.

It took me two installs to get it actually on my system, but it seems to be very stable for a pre-release operating system with a bunch of unfinished APIs and drivers. Looking good (but I'm still scared of Windows Dev Certification)!

Source: Microsoft

Hints of things to come from AMD

Subject: General Tech | March 31, 2015 - 12:18 PM |
Tagged: amd, skybridge, arm, HPC

The details are a little sparse but we now have hints of what AMD's plans are for next year and 2017. In 2016 we should see AMD chips with ARM cores, the Skybridge architecture which Josh described almost a year ago, which will be pin compatible allowing the same motherboard to run with either an ARM processor or an AMD64 depending on your requirements.  The GPU portion of their APUs will move forward on a two year cycle so we should not expect any big jumps in the next year but they are talking about an HPC capable part by 2019.  The final point that The Register translated covers that HPC part which is supposed to utilize a new memory architecture which will be nine times faster than existing GDDR5.

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"Consumer and commercial business lead Junji Hayashi told the PC Cluster Consortium workshop in Osaka that the 2016 release CPU cores (an ARMv8 and an AMD64) will get simultaneous multithreading support, to sit alongside the clustered multithreading of the company's Bulldozer processor families."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Nice rack! It would look better if you added a Noctua NH-U9S or NH-D9L

Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 30, 2015 - 07:32 PM |
Tagged: noctua, NH-U9S, NH-D9L, cpu cooler, air cooling

You might want to hold off reading this review as these coolers are very likely to grace our pages in the near future but if you can't wait then HiTech Legion is the place to go to check out these small coolers from Noctua.  The 125mm NH-U9S fits in 4U cases while the 110mm NH-D9L can fit in 3U spaces, making them perfect for not only rack mounted cases but also for SFF builds.   The weights are also smaller than usual, with the 92mm fan installed they weigh 618g and 531g respectively.  For small builds with processors with a moderate TDP these are certainly worth your consideration.

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"While Noctua’s new NH-U9S and NH-D9L were designed to comply with rack mount system standards, their low profile and horizontal airflow make them a natural choice for SFF and HTPC systems where CPU cooler space is limited. The Noctua NH-U9S meets 4U standards at 125mm tall, while the NH-D9L takes it a step further to meet the 110mm requirement of 3U standard."

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

CASES & COOLING

Gigabyte's Z97X Gaming 7, a decent motherboard all around

Subject: Motherboards | March 30, 2015 - 03:57 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Z97X Gaming 7, z97, Intel

The Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 7 motherboard offers a nice balance between price and performance, at $172 it is a bit pricey but when on sale for around the $150 mark it is a great deal.  The onboard audio provided by Realtek's ALC1150 produced very good sound and while the Qualcomm Killer NIC E2201 doesn't offer benefits over a more generic NIC there are those who prefer the software which comes with it.  The board overclocked very well for [H] manually, providing noticeable boosts with solid performance, however the EasyTune software provided them with some issues.  Check out the full review right here.

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"GIGABYTE's Z97X Gaming 7 promises solid overclocking and performance. The feature list for the Z97X Gaming 7 is long and includes gamer focused features like a dedicated audio amplifier, Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 support and more. We've had mixed results with the GIGABYTE lately, so the real question is; does it work?"

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Rumor: New NVIDIA SHIELD Portable Coming with Tegra X1

Subject: Mobile | March 30, 2015 - 03:43 PM |
Tagged: Tegra X1, tegra, shield portable, shield, portable, nvidia

UPDATE (3/31/15): Thanks to another tip we can confirm that the new SHIELD P2523 will have the Tegra X1 SoC in it. From this manifest document you'll see the Tegra T210 listed (the same part marketed as X1) as well as the code name "Loki." Remember that the first SHIELD Portable device was code named Thor. Oh, so clever, NVIDIA.

shield3.jpg

Based on a rumor posted by Brad over at Lilliputing, it appears we can expect an updated NVIDIA SHIELD Portable device sometime later in 2015. According to both the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi certification websites, a device going by the name "NVIDIA Shield Portable P2523" has been submitted. There isn't a lot of detail though:

  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac dual-band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Android 5.0
  • Firmware version 3.10.61

We definitely have a new device here as the initial SHIELD Portable did not includ 802.11ac support at all. And though no data is there to support it, you have to assume that NVIDIA would be using the new Tegra X1 processor in any new SHIELD devices coming out this year. I already previewd the new SHIELD console from GDC that utilizes that same SoC, but it might require a lower clocked, lower power version of the processor to help with heat and battery life on a portable unit.

shieldportable.JPG

There’s no information about the processor, screen, or other hardware. But if the new Shield portable is anything like the original, it’ll probably consist of what looks like an Xbox-style game controller with an attached 5 inch display which you can fold up to play games on the go.

And if it’s anything like the new NVIDIA Shield console, it could have a shiny new NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor to replace the aging Tegra 4 chip found in the original Shield Portable.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it also had a higher-resolution display, more memory, or other improvements.

Keep an eye out - NVIDIA may be making a push for even more SHIELD hardware this summer.

Source: Lilliputing

It seems Microsoft is not abandoning the Surface Pro series

Subject: General Tech | March 30, 2015 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: Surface Pro 3, microsoft

While the ARM based Surface model seemed likely to disappear there are many hints that the Surface Pro models powered by x86 processors are going nowhere and that even Windows RT will stick around.  More evidence came today from The Register who read through a Microsoft post and highlighted several updates to the UEFI in the Surface Pro 3 aimed at Enterprise users.  Some of the updates are minor but very useful, you can now set the boot device for the device in the UEFI instead of needing to physically push a button during boot.  One security feature which is key to the adoption of this device in the Enterprise is as being able to control what devices are functional on the Surface and with this update you can disable various connections as well as the USB ports.  The final feature, being able to make changes to the UEFI remotely has been enabled but the tool needed to do so is not yet available.

The device originally seemed doomed to failure but Microsoft has found a market for their tablet and we will be seeing new models soon.

Surface-Pro-3.jpg

"As explained in a blog post by Redmond's JC Hornbeck, the latest update to the Surface Pro 3's Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) adds new features for enterprise customers but only minor improvements for consumers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Renegade X Beta 4 Released with Trailer

Subject: General Tech | March 29, 2015 - 08:59 PM |
Tagged: renegade x, UE3, udk, unreal engine 3

If you are looking for a game to play, Totem Arts has released their fourth public beta for Renegade X. You have probably heard of the game by now but, if not, it is a third-person shooter that is in the style of Command & Conquer: Renegade. Each team has a base that provides weapons, vehicles, and upgrades in exchange for credits. Players then use this superiority to destroy each others bases (and each other directly of course).

The game is powered by Unreal Engine 3 through the UDK program. From what I can tell, they are using the February 2014 build, which is a little over a year old but relatively up-to-date technologically. Epic Games added most DirectX 11 functionality back in the March 2011 UDK beta release. It looks quite good too.

And it's free (not free-to-play). Check it out.

Source: Totem Arts

PCPer Live! Intel SSD Live Stream and Giveaway!

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | March 27, 2015 - 06:12 PM |
Tagged: video, sdd, live, Intel, giveaway, contest

Earlier this month we spotted a new and potentially very exciting SSD while looking through some PAX East coverage around the web. It appears to be a PCI Express based Intel SSD, likely based on the same technology as the P3700-series of NVMe drives released last June. And today, if you take a look at this Intel promotional landing page you'll see a timer and countdown that ends on April 2nd.

Sounds like something must be up, huh?

Well, in totally unrelated news, PC Perspective and Intel are partnering together for a live stream to discuss "SSD related topics" on April 2nd.

pcperlive.png

Intel SSD Live Stream and Giveaway

12pm PT / 3pm ET - April 2nd

PC Perspective Live! Page

Need a reminder? Join our live mailing list!

Joining us for the live event will be Intel's Bryn Pilney and Kei Kobayashi, making a follow up appearance after jumping on stage with us at Quakecon 2014. During the event we'll discuss some of the history of Intel's move into the SSD market, how consumers benefit from Intel development and technology and a certain new product that will be making an appearnce on that same day.

And of course, what's a live stream event without some hardware to give away?!? Here's what we have on the docket for those that attend:

  • 2 x Intel 180GB 530 Series SSDs
  • 2 x Intel 480GB 730 Series SSDs
  • 2 x Intel Unreleased SSDs (??)

ssd730.jpg

Huge thanks to Intel for supporting our viewers and readers with hardware to giveaway!

The event will take place Thursday, April 2nd at 3pm ET / 12pm PT at http://www.pcper.com/live. There you’ll be able to catch the live video stream as well as use our chat room to interact with the audience, asking questions for me and Intel to answer live. To win the prizes you will have to be watching the live stream, with exact details of the methodology for handing out the goods coming at the time of the event.

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If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and we'll look through them just before the start of the live stream. Of course you'll be able to tweet us questions @pcper and we'll be keeping an eye on the IRC chat as well for more inquiries. What do you want to know and hear from Intel?

So join us! Set your calendar for this coming Thursday at 3pm ET / 12pm PT and be here at PC Perspective to catch it. If you are a forgetful type of person, sign up for the PC Perspective Live mailing list that we use exclusively to notify users of upcoming live streaming events including these types of specials and our regular live podcast. I promise, no spam will be had!

Saved so much using Linux you can afford a Titan X?

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 27, 2015 - 04:02 PM |
Tagged: gtx titan x, linux, nvidia

Perhaps somewhere out there is a Linux user who wants a TITAN X and if there is they will like the results of Phoronix's testing.  The card works perfectly straight out of the box with the latest 346.47 driver as well as the 349.12 Beta; if you want to use Nouveau then don't buy this card.  The TITAN did not win any awards for power efficiency but for OpenCL tests, synthetic OpenGL benchmarks and Unigine on Linux it walked away a clear winner.  Phoronix, and many others, hope that AMD is working on an updated Linux driver to accompany the new 300 series of cards we will see soon to help them be more competitive on open source systems.

If you are sick of TITAN X reviews by now, just skip to their 22 GPU performance roundup of Metro Redux.

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"Last week NVIDIA unveiled the GeForce GTX TITAN X during their annual GPU Tech Conference. Of course, all of the major reviews at launch were under Windows and thus largely focused on the Direct3D performance. Now that our review sample arrived this week, I've spent the past few days hitting the TITAN X hard under Linux with various OpenGL and OpenCL workloads compared to other NVIDIA and AMD hardware on the binary Linux drivers."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: Phoronix

Learn a bit more about Knights Landing

Subject: General Tech | March 27, 2015 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: Xeon Phi, silvermont, knights landing, Intel

Today a bit more information about Intel's upcoming Knights Landing platform appeared at The Register.  The 60 core and 240 thread figure is quoted once again though now we know there is over 8 billion transistors on the chip, which does not include the 16 GB of near memory also present on the package.  The processor will support six memory channel, three each in two memory controllers on the die, with a total of 384 GB of far memory.  The terms near and far are new, representing onboard and external memory respectively.  There is a lot more information you can dig into by following the link on The Register to this long article posted at The Platform.

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"Intel has set some rumours to rest, giving a media and analyst briefing outlining details of its coming 60-plus core Knights Landing Xeon Phi chip."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Logitech MX Master Mouse Announced

Subject: General Tech | March 27, 2015 - 07:03 AM |
Tagged: mx master, mx, mouse, logitech

In the universe of computer mice, Logitech is one of the best known manufacturers. This one, the Logitech MX Master Wireless Mouse, is not part of their “G Series”. At a price of $99.99 USD, or $119.99 CAD, it is their most expensive offering in that class.

logitech-mx-master-top.jpg

The MX Master is a five button, right handed mouse. While that is not particularly exciting, one interesting feature is the horizontal scrolling tumbler on the thumb rest. The wheel on top scrolls up and down, while the one on the side can scroll left and right (or be reconfigured with Logitech's software). It is also a laser mouse that is capable of tracking on many types of surfaces, including thicker sheets of glass. It can be paired to three separate devices at once, either by Bluetooth or Logitech's proprietary receiver. Its rechargeable battery lasts about 40 days of 6 hour per day usage. Four minutes of charging yields about six hours of usage, and you can apparently even use the mouse while tethered.

The Logitech MX Master will be available in April for $99.99 USD.

Source: Logitech

Return of the Sharkoon; death to all other mice!

Subject: General Tech | March 26, 2015 - 03:55 PM |
Tagged: input, sharkoon, shark zone m20, gaming mouse

Sharkoon is back with a brightly coloured and reasonably priced gaming mouse, the Shark Zone M20.  It sports nine buttons including the DPI toggle which ranges between 400 - 3200 DPI and in the back is a compartment to hold the weights which ship with the mouse and allow you to customize it.  The yellow lights can be switched on or off and you can set up a pulsation effect if that is your style, but you are stuck with that one colour.  Kitguru found it to be a decent mouse, especially as they could purchase it for half the price of similar gaming mice from other companies.

big_Sharkzone_M20_04.jpg

"We look at quite a lot of gaming mice here at KitGuru, many of them sitting over the £50 mark. But what if you only have £25 to spend? Today we are taking a look at the Shark Zone M20 Gaming Mouse from Sharkoon, it boasts many of the same features found on high-end mice, could this be a hidden gem in the saturated peripherals market?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: KitGuru

Intel / Micron Announce 3D NAND Production with Industry's Highest Density: >10TB on a 2.5" SSD

Subject: Storage | March 26, 2015 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: storage, ssd, planar, nand, micron, M.2, Intel, imft, floating-gate, 3d nand

Intel and Micron are jointly announcing new 3D NAND technology that will radically increase solid-storage capacity going forward. The companies have indicated that moving to this technology will allow for the type of rapid increases in capacity that are consistent with Moore’s Law.

IMFT_Slide_1.png

The way Intel and Micron are approaching 3D NAND is very different from existing 3D technologies from Samsung and now Toshiba. The implementation of floating-gate technology and “unique design choices” has produced startling densities of 256 Gb MLC, and a whopping 384 Gb with TLC. The choice to base this new 3D NAND on floating-gate technology allows development with a well-known entity, and benefits from the knowledge base that Intel and Micron have working with this technology on planar NAND over their long partnership.

What does this mean for consumers? This new 3D NAND enables greater than 10TB capacity on a standard 2.5” SSD, and 3.5TB on M.2 form-factor drives. These capacities are possible with the industry’s highest density 3D NAND, as the >3.5TB M.2 capacity can be achieved with just 5 packages of 16 stacked dies with 384 Gb TLC.

vnand crop.png

A 3D NAND cross section from Allyn's Samsung 850 Pro review

While such high density might suggest reliance on ever-shrinking process technology (and the inherent loss of durability thus associated) Intel is likely using a larger process for this NAND. Though they would not comment on this, Intel could be using something roughly equivalent to 50nm flash with this new 3D NAND. In the past die shrinks have been used to increase capacity per die (and yields) such as IMFT's move to 20nm back in 2011, but with the ability to achieve greater capacity vertically using 3D cell technology a smaller process is not necessary to achieve greater density. Additionally, working with a larger process would allow for better endurance as, for example, 50nm MLC was on the order of 10,000 program/erase cycles. Samsung similarly moved to a larger process with with their initial 3D NAND, moving from their existing 20nm technology back to 30nm with 3D production.

IMFT_Slide_2.png

This announcement is also interesting considering Toshiba has just entered this space as well having announced 48-layer 128 Gb density 3D NAND, and like Samsung, they are moving away from floating-gate and using their own charge-trap implementation they are calling BiCS (Bit Cost Scaling). However with this Intel/Micron announcement the emphasis is on the ability to offer a 3x increase in capacity using the venerable floating-gate technology from planar NAND, which gives Intel / Micron an attractive position in the market - depending on price/performance of course. And while these very large capacity drives seem destined to be expensive at first, the cost structure is likely to be similar to current NAND. All of this remains to be seen, but this is indeed promising news for the future of flash storage as it will now scale up to (and beyond) spinning media capacity - unless 3D tech is implemented in hard drive production, that is.

IMFT_Slide_3.png

So when will Intel and Micron’s new technology enter the consumer market? It could be later this year as Intel and Micron have already begun sampling the new NAND to manufacturers. Manufacturing has started in Singapore, plus ground has also been broken at the IMFT fab in Utah to support production here in the United States.

Source: Intel

Podcast #342 - FreeSync Launch, Dell XPS 13, Super Fast DDR4 and more!

Subject: General Tech | March 26, 2015 - 01:51 PM |
Tagged: XPS 13, video, Vector 180, usb 3.1, supernova, Silverstone, quadro, podcast, ocz, nvidia, m6000, gsync, FT05, freesync, Fortress, evga, dell, ddr4-3400, ddr4, corsair, broadwell-u, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #342 - 03/25/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the launch of FreeSync, Dell XPS 13, Super Fast DDR4 and more!

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

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

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

Hosts:Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Sebastian Peak

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

 

What helium shortage? I have a bunch stored in my HGST drive

Subject: General Tech | March 26, 2015 - 12:32 PM |
Tagged: hgst, western digital, helium, hdd

The new generation of helium filled HDD from HGST take their longevity seriously, rating them at 2.5 million hours MTBF.  This generation also has 7 disks squeezed into the shell, with current capacities reaching 8TB and a shingled 10TB model currently being tested for release later this year.  The increased life and storage density are only part of the benefits that helium brings, 23% lower operating power and temperatures 4-5°C lower than traditional drives will also have an impact on data centre operating costs.  In their article The Register did ask how long the HelioSeal will keep the helium contained and while they did not get an exact figure, the 5 year warranty gives you a good idea of a lower limit.

myce-hgst.jpg

"HGST has announced second-generation helium drive tech after shipping a million gen-1 Helium drives and upping field reliability by 15 per cent."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Acer's Latest 15.6" Chromebook Powered By Core i5 (Broadwell-U) Processor

Subject: General Tech | March 26, 2015 - 01:34 AM |
Tagged: core i5, Chromebook, chrome os, broadwell-u, acer

Acer is adding an updated Chromebook to its education-focused C910 lineup. The new Acer C910-54M1 ups the hardware ante by incorporating a Broadwell-U based Intel Core i5 processor which will make this the fastest Chromebook on the market (for what that's worth). 

This new C910 remains aimed at schools and businesses with a sturdy frame, large (for a Chromebook) 15.6" (up to) 1080p display, and eight hours of battery life. Below the display sits an island style keyboard and a large trackpad. Except for the arrow keys, Acer was able to use "regular" sized keys and did not shrink the shift or backspace keys which can be annoying. A webcam and two large upward facing speakers are also present on the C910.

Acer C910 Broadwell-U Core i5 Powered Chrome OS Chromebook.jpg

External I/O includes:

  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x SD card reader

The port selection is about what one would expect from a Chromebook, but the inclusion of USB 3.0 is welcome for accessing external storage.

Internally, the C910 Chromebook is powered by a dual core (four threads with Hyper-Threading) Broadwell-U Core i5 5200U processor clocked at 2.2GHz base and up to 2.7GHz Turbo Boost with a 15W TDP and 3MB cache. This particular processor includes Intel HD Graphics 5500 clocked at up to 900 MHz. Other hardware includes 4GB DDR3 memory and a 32GB SSD. Wireless hardware includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. 

Acer's new Chromebook is big and powerful, but will the increased hardware provide a noticeably better Chrome OS experience? Intel (naturally) seems to think so with its push to get Core i3 processors into Chromebooks last year. The Broadwell-U Core i5 should be just as fast (maybe even a bit faster with smoother UX and graphics) while sipping power. The alleged eight hours of battery life is impressive as well considering. The downside, because of course there always is one, is pricing. The C910-54M1 will be available in April with a 1080p display for $500. 

At that price point, it is squarely in budget Windows notebook territory as well as high end convertible (e.g. Bay Trail) tablet territory. It will be interesting to see how it ends up doing compared to the other options which each have their own trade offs.

Are you interested in a Chromebook with a Core i5 processor?

Source: Maximum PC

Rumor: Intel Is Now Powering Both Surface and Surface Pro

Subject: Processors, Mobile | March 25, 2015 - 09:51 PM |
Tagged: Intel, core m, atom, surface, Surface 2, Windows 8.1, windows 10

The stack of Microsoft tablet devices had high-end Intel Core processors hovering over ARM SoCs, the two separated by a simple “Pro” label (and Windows 8.x versus Windows RT). While the Pro line has been kept reasonably up to date, the lower tier has been stagnant for a while. That is apparently going to change. WinBeta believes that a new, non-Pro Surface will be announced soon, at or before BUILD 2015. Unlike previous Surface models, it will be powered by an x86 processor from Intel, either an Atom or a Core M.

microsoft-surface2.jpg

This also means it will run Windows 8.1.

The article claims, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that Windows RT is dead. No. But still, the device should be eligible for a Windows 10 upgrade when it launches, unlike the RT-based Surfaces. Whether that is a surprise depends on the direction you view it from. I would find it silly for Microsoft to release a new Surface device, months before an OS update, but design it to be incompatible with it. On the other hand, it would be the first non-Pro Surface to do so. Either way, it was reported.

The “Surface 3”, whatever it will be called, is expected to be a fanless design. VR-Zone expects that it will be similar to the 10.6-inch, 1080p form factor of the Surface 2, but that seems to be their speculation. That is about all that we know thus far.

Source: WinBeta

Windows Apps Still Smell Like Windows RT

Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2015 - 06:23 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows 10, winRT, windows rt

Even though I am really liking the Windows 10 operating system from a technical standpoint, I did not mind Windows 8.x, as software, either. My concern was its promotion of the Windows Store for the exact same reasons that I dislike the iOS App Store. Simply put, for your application to even exist, Microsoft (or Apple) needs to certify you as a developer, which they can revoke at any time, and they need to green light your creations.

windows-10.png

This has a few benefits, especially for Microsoft. First and foremost, it gives them a killswitch for malicious software and their developers. Second, it gives them as much control over the platform as they want. If devices start flowing away from x86 to other instruction sets, like we almost saw a few years ago, then Windows can pick up and go with much less friction than the corner they painted themselves into with Win32.

This also means that developers need to play ball, even for terms that Microsoft is forced to apply because of pressure for specific governments. LGBT groups should be particularly concerned as other platforms are already banning apps that are designed for their members. Others could be concerned about encryption and adult art, even in Western nations. If Microsoft, or someone with authority over them, doesn't want your content to exist: it's gone (unless it can run in a web browser).

On the plus side, I don't see the rule where third-party browser engines are banned anymore. When Windows 8 launched, all browsers needed to be little more than a reskin of Internet Explorer.

Beyond censorship, if Microsoft does not offer a side-loading mechanism for consumers, you also might need to give Microsoft a cut of your sales. You don't even seem to be able to give your app to specific people. If you want to propose to your significant other via a clever app, there does not seem to be a method to share it outside of the Windows Store unless you set up their device as a Window developer ahead of time.

Why do I say all this today? Because Microsoft has branded Universal Apps as Windows apps, and their strategy seems to be completely unchanged in these key areas. What kept me from updating to Windows 8 was not its user interface. It was the same thing that brought me to develop in Web technologies and volunteer for Mozilla.

It was the developer certification and lack of side-loading for modern apps.

I get it. Microsoft is tired of being bullied with crap about how it is insecure and a pain for the general public. At the very least, they need a way for users to opt out, though. What they are doing with Windows 10 is very nice, and I would like to see it as my main operating system, but I need to prioritize alternative platforms if this one is heading in a very dark direction.

Win32 might be a legacy API, but the ability to write what I want should not be.

Source: Thurrott.com