Amazon Lumberyard Game Engine (Beta) Announced

Subject: General Tech | February 9, 2016 - 05:11 PM |
Tagged: amazon, AWS, game engine

Another video game engine has entered the world, this time from Amazon. It is basically a fork of CryEngine that they purchased the rights to sub-license. Amazon states that their engine will diverge over time, as they modify it in-house for licensees and their internal game studio, Amazon Game Studios. It is licensed for free, with full source access, but it has a few restrictions.

amazon-2016-lumberyard.jpg

The market is currently dominated with a variety of offerings with different business models. Unreal Engine 4 is free to use, but takes a portion of revenue after some grace amount. CryEngine is available on a relatively cheap subscription, but has no royalty requirements. Unigine offers a few lump-sum options, starting at almost a grand-and-a-half. Unity has a few options, from a cut down free version, to a relatively expensive subscription, to lump-sum payments. Finally, at least for this list, Source 2 is completely free, with the only requirement that published games must be available on Steam at launch.

That last one, Source 2, is basically the business model that Amazon chose with their new Lumberyard engine. The difference is that, instead of requiring games to be published at a certain retailer, they require that games use Amazon Web Services for online interactions, like multiplayer and cloud, unless the developer maintains their own servers. I'm not exactly sure what that distinction ("If you own and operate your own private servers") allows, but I'd assume that Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud are big no-nos. On the other hand, single-player experiences and games with local multiplayer, assuming neither has “cloud” features, are completely free to make.

While it would be nice to have a purely open source offering that can compete with these proprietary engines, developers should be able to find a suitable option. Each seems to ask for something slightly different, and they are very permissive otherwise.

Source: Amazon

Speakers and heaphones and DABs, oh my!

Subject: General Tech | February 9, 2016 - 03:10 PM |
Tagged: portable speakers, OTONE, Inateck, headphones, Fugoo, audio

The Inquirer put together a list of their favourite audio products so far this year, perhaps the list will not match yours but perhaps there is a product named which you have not heard of yet.  From portable speakers to earbuds that wrap around your wrist when you are not using them they cover a variety of products.  Check out the list and see if any of these products are worthy of spending your hard earned money on.

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"THOUSANDS OF NEW audio products are released every year. Sometimes the big names are the best, but at other times there are hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Here's our guide to the headphones, speakers and other audio gems that will float our boat during 2016."

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Source: The Inquirer

A new Razer Black Widow Ultimate for 2016

Subject: General Tech | February 9, 2016 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: razer, input, gaming keyboard, black widow ultimate

Razer has been pushing out updates to their Black Widow lineup of gaming keyboards and this years model just arrived at Kitguru.  This year they are introducing a new type of mechanical switch for their keys, the model reviewed used their Green switches which click when depressed, there is a Razer Orange model for those who prefer to see their keyboard and not hear it.  This is not an RGB keyboard but you can set effects such as wave, ripple, starlight and reactive through the Razer software.  If you are looking for a new mechanical keyboard and want something a little different you should check out the full review.

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"The Razer Black Widow has become very popular over the years, often being touted as one of the finest gaming keyboards around. Today, we are looking at the brand new 2016 edition, using Razer’s own high specification mechanical switches – could this be the best option for gamers in 2016?"

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Source: Kitguru

Lian Li PC-M25: mATX Enclosure with 5 Hot-Swap HDD Bays

Subject: Cases and Cooling | February 9, 2016 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: small form-factor, SFF, PC-M25, micro tower, mATX, Lian Li, hot-swap, enclosure, case, aluminum case

The PC-M25 is Lian Li’s latest enclosure; a small micro-ATX tower with an emphasis on storage.

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“The PC-M25 includes a hot-swap HDD rack where users can conveniently install and remove up to five 3.5” drives with rubber suspension and without needing tools. The bottom HDD tray can mount an additional three 2.5” or two 3.5” drives. This makes a total of as many as seven 3.5” hard drives for advanced RAID storage applications.”

While a small form-factor design (all aluminum, of course), there is still room for a full system including long graphics cards and power supplies; though you’ll want a lower-profile CPU cooler as there is only 80 mm of clearance above the processor. Fans are included, with 140 mm intake and 120 mm exhaust pre-installed, though there is only a screen filter on the bottom intake (below the PSU).

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Specifications:

  • Model: PC-M25 A/ B
  • Case Type: Mini Tower Chassis
  • Color: Silver, Black
  • Material: Aluminum
  • M/B Type: Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
  • Expansion Slot: 4
  • Storage:
  • HDD rack: 3.5" HDD x5 (Hot-swap)
  • HDD tray: 2.5" HDD x3 or 3.5" HDD x2
  • System Fan (Front) 140mm Fan x1; System Fan (Top) 120mm Fan x1
  • I/O Ports: None
  • Maximum Compatibility
  • VGA Card length: 410mm
  • PSU length: 230mm 
  • CPU cooler height:80mm
  • PSU Type: ATX
  • Dimensions (W x H x D) 199 x 322 x 441 mm (7.83 x 12.68 x 17.36 in)
  • Net Weight: 3.74 kg (8.25 lbs)

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Storage options for the PC-M25

The PC-M25 will be available this month with an MSRP of $169.

Source: Lian Li

If you have a Trane thermostat you should update the firmware immediately

Subject: General Tech | February 9, 2016 - 01:30 PM |
Tagged: trane, iot, security

It is not a good sign when a security team refers to your smart thermostat as "a little malware store", especially when the flaws have been known for some time.  Indeed the original issue of hardcoded SSH passwords has been known since 2014 and the update took a year to be created.  Unfortunately most owners of a Trane Thermostat will not have upgraded their firmware, even if they knew about the update as it is not something which was installed remotely.  Instead you need to download the new firmware onto an SD card and manually install it on the thermostat.  Last month another update was released to address a remote code execution vulnerability in the ComfortLink II, which was not generally known until The Register posted about it today.  If you are using this device you should get an SD card handy and download the firmware.

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"In April 2015, one year after the first alert, Trane fixed the hardcoded password issue with a new release of the ComfortLink's firmware. Cisco then tipped off US CERT about the remaining issues. Trane eventually addressed the flaws in its code in January 2016, but didn't tell its customers that new firmware is available."

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Source: The Register

ASUS Announces RP-AC68U AC1900 Wireless Repeater

Subject: Networking | February 9, 2016 - 11:24 AM |
Tagged: wireless repeater, wi-fi, signal repeater, RP-AC68U, router, dual-band, asus, ac1900

ASUS has announced a new high-end wireless repeater, and the RP-AC68U boasts dual-band wireless AC1900 speeds, and features 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports to add wired devices to the network.

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"ASUS RP-AC68U works by connecting wirelessly to an existing router and extending the Wi-Fi signal to areas of poor coverage, which are often a problem in large or multi-floor homes. With its blindingly-fast up to 1900Mbps combined speeds (600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band), RP-AC68U is the perfect companion for extending the coverage of the latest 802.11ac routers, but it can also be used with routers supporting any older Wi-Fi standards."

The boxy shape is a big contrast from the giant spider-like designs we've seen from recent high-end routers, and inside the enclosure there are a total of 3 transmit and 4 receive antennas to extend the range of your dual-band 802.11ac network.

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The RP-AC68U has five Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back, which ASUS says "allow users to convert any wired network devices to wireless operation", and there's a USB 3.0 port to allow additional devices to be added to the network. 

Specifications:

  • I/O ports:
    • 5 x Gigabit Ethernet LAN RJ45
    • 1 x USB 3.0 port
  • Antennas: 4 x Internal antennas (3 transmit, 4 receive)
  • Memory: 128MB Flash / 256MB RAM
  • Operating Frequency: Dual band 2.4GHz & 5GHz
  • Wi-Fi Data Rate*:
    • 802.11ac: up to 1300Mbps
    • 802.11n: Up to 600Mbps
    • 802.11a/g: Up to 54Mbps
    • 802.11b: Up to 11Mbps
    • *Quoted network speeds and bandwidth based on current IEEE specifications. Actual performance may be affected by network and service provider factors, interface type, and other conditions. Connected devices must be compatible for best results.
  • 802.11ac Specification:
    • MIMO: 3 x 4
    • 20/40/80MHz bandwidth
  • Buttons:
    • WPS button
    • Power button
    • Reset button
  • Encryption:
    • WPA/WPA2-PSK
    • WPA/WPA2-Enterprise
    • WPS support
  • Mode:
    • Repeater
    • Access Point
    • Media Bridge
  • Dimensions & weight: 178 x 106 x 106 mm; Weight: 870g

Pricing and availabilty were not announced. Full press release after the break.

Source: ASUS

MSI Releases GT72S G Tobii G-Sync Laptop with Eye-Tracking Technology

Subject: Systems, Mobile | February 9, 2016 - 10:16 AM |
Tagged: Tobii, notebook, msi, laptop, GT72S G Tobii, gaming laptop, g-sync, eye-tracking

MSI has released their GT72S G Tobii gaming notebook (first announced way back at Computex), which features NVIDIA G-Sync and eye-tracking technology that promises a more immersive gameplay experience.

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“The world’s most advanced gaming laptop, the GT72S G Tobii with eye-tracking technology immerses gamers into a hands-free dimension by allowing them to switch targets in a game, select objects on the floor or even automatically pause a game by simply focusing or looking away.  

Available immediately, MSI’s GT72S G Tobii will be bundled with Tom Clancy’s The Division and currently supports a variety of gaming titles, including Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Assassin’s Creed Rogue, ArmA III, Elite Dangerous and more.”

Ryan took a look at the laptop at CES, and the video is imbedded below:

So how does the eye-tracking work?

“By going through a 15-second set-up process, users can securely log into their computers using a personalized glance; highlight, select or delete items with one look; seamlessly zoom and center maps without scrolling; and even sift through Windows, folders and its applications without lifting a finger.”

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The notebook boasts some impressive specs, including:

  • Tobii Eye Tracking Technology
  • 17.3" Full HD 1920 x 1080 IPS display
  • 6th Generation Intel Core i7 6820HK (2.70 GHz)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M with 8 GB GDDR5
  • 32 GB Memory
  • 256 GB SSD (PCIe Gen3 x4)
  • 1 TB HDD
  • BD Burner
  • Killer Networking
  • Dimensions: 16.85" x 11.57" x 2.30"; 8.50 lbs

The GT72S G Tobii retails for $2599.99 and is now available with an exclusive launch at Newegg.com, and the laptop includes a free copy of Tom Clancy: The Division.

Source: MSI

Phanteks Announces Eclipse Series P400, P400S Enclosures

Subject: Cases and Cooling | February 9, 2016 - 09:06 AM |
Tagged: RGB, phanteks, mid-tower, enclosure, Eclipse Series, Eclipse P400S, Eclipse P400, case

Phanteks has announced a new enclosure series called ‘Eclipse’, which take the internal layout of the Enthoo lineup and packages it in a pair of affordable new enclosures; the P400 and P400S.

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“Without much effort, the P400 allows users to create a clean and beautiful system. Ambient RGB illumination adds character while the solid metal exterior gives the case a simple elegant design. The P400 is suitable for beginners and experienced system builders with all the extra features; the P400S comes with sound damping panels and a 3-speed fan controller to enhance acoustical performance.”

The internal layout of these enclosures will be familiar to you if you’ve seen the Enthoo series, with an open main chamber, a bottom partition for the PSU and hard drives, and all storage accessible from behind the system. There are a couple of notable differences between the Eclipse P400 and P400S, primarily the latter’s noise-reducing insulation and the addition of a 3-speed fan controller.

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Exploded view of Eclipse P400S

Side panel windows are available, with added style from the ambient RGB lighting on both models. The P400 and P400S are available in black, white, or grey, and the body panels are metal, which should contribute to a more premium feel.

Specifications:

  • Form Factor: Mid-tower
  • Materials: Steel chassis, steel exterior, ABS
  • Motherboard Support: ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX, E-ATX (up to 272mm wide, cannot use rubber grommets)
  • Expansion Slots: 7
  • Storage:
    • Internal 3.5” bays: 6x (2x trays included)
    • Internal 2.5” bays (dedicated): 2x (2x included)
  • Cooling:
    • 120 mm fan: Front, 3x (1 included); Top, 2x; Rear, 1x (1 included)
    • 140 mm fan: Front, 2x; Top, 2x
  • Front I/O: 2x USB 3.0, Mic, Headphone, Reset, LED control, 3-speed Fan controller (only available for P400S)
  • Side Window: Yes (also available with closed panel)
  • Soundproofing panels: (only available for P400S) Front/Top/Sides
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 210 x 465 x 470 mm (8.3 x 18.3 x 18.5 inches)

P400S-8z.jpg

No specific release date was announced, but full suggested pricing information is available:

  • Eclipse P400 (PH-EC416P) Black/Grey: $69.99 / White: $79.99
  • Eclipse P400S (PH-EC416PS) Black/Grey: $79.99 / White: $89.99
    • (P400S pricing identical for Silent Window and Silent Closed Panel versions)
Source: Phanteks

ASUS Announces ROG Horus GK2000 Mechanical Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | February 8, 2016 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: ROG, Republic of Gamers, mechanical keyboard, GK2000, cherry mx red, asus

ASUS has announced a new mechanical keyboard from their Republic of Gamers division, and the Horus GK2000 sports an aluminum upper body, with Cherry MX Red switches under the ABS keycaps.

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The keyboard is a standard 104 key layout, with an additional 5 macro keys to the left, and wheels for volume and backlight control on the right side. It features 1000 Hz polling rate and offers a 2x USB 2.0 hub and 3.5 mm audio passthrough. As mentioned above key switching is handled by Cherry's MX Red, a linear switch which provides a lower actuation force than the MX Black.

In addition to the angular styling and large detachable palmrest, the GK2000 also offers adjustable (red) lighting to further enhance its appearance. We've seen quite a bit of the black/red color scheme for products targeting the gaming segment, and in this case it compliments the design of the company's ROG Swift monitors and other gaming products.

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Specifications:

  • Interface: USB 2.0 (1000Hz) with NKRO (can be disabled)
  • Layout: Standard 104 + 5 macro keys (left) + ROG key (right) + volume and backlight wheels (right)
  • Keyboard switches: Mechanical Cherry MX Red 45 g, 2 mm actuation, 4 mm travel
  • Volume knob: Infinite wheel switch (scroll to increase/decrease backlight)
  • USB hub: 2x USB 2.0
  • Audio pass-through: 1x audio, 1x mic
  • OS support: Windows XP/ Windows Vista /Windows 7/ Windows 8/ Windows 8.1/ Windows 10 32/64 bit
  • Approx. dimensions: 52.65 x 17 x 4.9 cm
  • Palm rest: 47.2 x 8.3 x 2.4 cm
  • Cable: 180 cm braided cable
  • Keycaps: ABS with UV grip coating
  • Materials: 3 mm brushed aluminum, 3 mm sandblasted aluminum, ABS underside 
  • Weight: 1700 g

No pricing or availability information accompanied the announcement.

Source: ASUS

MSI GS72 Stealth Pro Details Released

Subject: Systems | February 6, 2016 - 11:30 PM |
Tagged: msi, gs72, gaming laptop, laptop

This laptop was announced at CES, but barely. They have now released full specifications, including options, which are actually quite interesting. The 4K panel, in particular, has a color gamut that fully covers AdobeRGB (100%). This means that, if the hardware and software are properly calibrated, it is compatible with the color spaces that both video and print professionals tend to target. The latter is quite difficult, because magazine publishers actually have a large palette. Even the Wacom Cintiq 22HD only covers around 72% AdobeRGB.

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Outside of this, the laptop has one processor choice: a Skylake-based Intel Core i7-6700HQ backed with up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM. There are three choices in GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M, 965M, and 970M. This could be disappointing for those hoping for desktop-class performance, although the 970M is pretty close to a GTX 680. It should handle games like Just Cause 3 and Rainbow Six Siege at around 50-60 FPS in 1080p mode. Basically, you are going to be dropping the 4K resolution down to about 1080p in games, but it's also a laptop and 4K in professional applications is quite nice. It also uses M.2 SSDs with PCIe 3.0 x4 bandwidth that communicates in the NVMe standard. They didn't say which one, or how large, but they claim read speeds of about 2.2GB/s.

They did not state pricing or availability. Its headlining feature is thickness -- just 1.99cm for a 17-inch display. This explains the GPU, but also suggests a premium price.

Source: MSI

Monoprice Graphics Tablets Are Available

Subject: Displays | February 6, 2016 - 10:41 PM |
Tagged: monoprice, pen display, touch screen, drawing

A couple of CESes ago, Monoprice launched a couple of 22-inch pen displays to compete with the Wacom Cintiq 22HD. Shortly afterward, the products disappeared from their website and line-up, so I assumed, at the time, that they changed their mind or otherwise refocused.

monoprice-2016-pen-display-22.jpg

Turns out, it was only temporary. There are now two models on their product list, one for $499.99 and another for $599.99, although I have a feeling that the cheaper model might be discontinued. The only real, concrete difference that I can see is the $599.99 model uses “battery-free” pens, which I'm assuming is powered by induction from the display surface. The cheaper model is out-of-stock with an estimated availability of “TBD”. That one uses rechargeable pens. The $599.99 model also lists Linux drivers. The $599.99 version also has a slower response time (12ms vs 5ms) and higher viewing angles, although both are listed as IPS.

Whether or not the $499.99 model will become available again, the $599.99 one is still about a third of the price of the Wacom Cintiq 22HD. Also, unlike the Wacom, it supports Linux as mentioned above. They used to offer a pen display with a ten-finger capacitive touchscreen, which competes with the Wacom Cintiq 22HD Touch, but that has not been relaunched, at least not yet.

Source: Monoprice

Extreme Overclocking of Skylake (7.02566 GHz)

Subject: Processors | February 6, 2016 - 09:00 PM |
Tagged: Skylake, overclocking, asrock, Intel, gskill

I recently came across a post at PC Gamer that looked at the extreme overclocking leaderboard of the Skylake-based Intel Core i7-6700K. Obviously, these competitions will probably never end as long as higher numbers are possible on parts that are interesting for one reason or another. Skylake is the new chip on the liquid nitrogen block. It cannot reach frequencies as high as its predecessors, but teams still compete to get as high as possible on that specific SKU.

overclock-2016-skylake6700k7ghz.jpg

The current world record for a single-threaded Intel Core i7-6700K is 7.02566 GHz, which is achieved with a voltage of 4.032V. For comparison, the i7-6700K is typically around 1.3V at load. This record was apparently set about a month ago, on January 11th.

This is obviously a huge increase, about three-fold more voltage for the extra 3 GHz. For comparison, the current world record over all known CPUs is the AMD FX-8370 with a clock of 8.72278 GHz. Many Pentium 4-era processors make up the top 15 places too, as those parts were designed for high clock rates with relatively low IPC.

The rest of the system used G.SKILL Ripjaws 4 DDR4 RAM, an ASRock Z170M OC Formula motherboard, and an Antec 1300W power supply. It used an NVIDIA GeForce GT 630 GPU, which offloaded graphics from the integrated chip, but otherwise interfered as little as possible. They also used Windows XP, because why not I guess? I assume that it does the least amount of work to boot, allowing a quicker verification, but that is only a guess.

Source: HWBot

Swiftech's H320 X2, bigger, better and ready for your personal touches

Subject: Cases and Cooling | February 5, 2016 - 06:44 PM |
Tagged: swiftech, H320 X2, AIO, watercooling

The Swiftech H320 X2 is obviously designed for those who like to show off the insides of their system, parts of both the reservoir and waterblock are clear as is the piping and there are indeed LEDs on the cooler.  It is larger than the previous generation, the radiator is 127 x 375 x 28mm with a 109ml reservoir, three Swiftech Helix 120mm PWM fans are installed to pull heat from the radiator.  Modders Inc loved the fact that while this is an AiO cooler, it is designed with modding in mind as you can add in or switch out components which is a rarity in AiO watercoolers.  The performance was also impressive, you can read about that and more in their full review.

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"All-in-one (AIO) water cooling units have brought the performance and silence of water cooling to the masses with the simplicity of installing an air cooler. AIOs offer simple installation without the need to bleed the loop. Simply attach the hardware and power cables and you are all set."

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Source: Modders Inc

A friendly reminder about your OneDrive storage amount

Subject: General Tech | February 5, 2016 - 05:06 PM |
Tagged: onedrive, microsoft, cloud storage

Remember the good old days when OneDrive moved from offering you 1TB of storage to an unlimited amount?  That did not last too long, they changed their minds and dropped the paid service back to 1TB and the free version from 15GB to 5GB, with a chance to grandfather in the additional storage if you followed up with them.

A viewer recently encountered this for the first time and it seems appropriate to remind everyone about the change.  If you have the paid service and are storing over 1TB you may have already heard from Microsoft but if not then consider this the warning that you have better trim down the amount of data you store on OneDrive as the changes are going to happen in the latter half of this year.  The same goes for free users who have 15GB, or 30GB if you opted into the camera roll service, get the amount of files you have stored on OneDrive under 5GB or risk losing data you would rather keep.  The standalone 100GB and 200GB plans will be reduced to 50GB, the price will remain at $1.99 per month.

The whole situation is reminiscent of a teacher in a classroom full of kids choosing to punish the entire class for the actions of a few individuals; in this case the tiny percentage which exceeded 75TB of usage.  Make sure to clean up your OneDrive as soon as possible, this is not something you want to wait until the last minute to do.

OneDrive-Logo_large.png

"If you are using more than 5 GB of free storage, you will continue to have access to all files for at least 12 months after these changes go into effect in early 2016. In addition, you can redeem a free one-year Office 365 Personal subscription (credit card required), which includes 1 TB of OneDrive storage."

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Source: OneDrive

ASRock Releases BIOS to Disable Non-K Skylake Overclocking

Subject: Processors | February 5, 2016 - 11:44 AM |
Tagged: Intel, Skylake, overclocking, cpu, Non-K, BCLK, bios, SKY OC, asrock, Z170

ASRock's latest batch of motherboard BIOS updates remove the SKY OS function, which permitted overclocking of non-K Intel processors via BCLK (baseclock).

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The news comes amid speculation that Intel had pressured motherboard vendors to remove such functionality. Intel's unlocked K parts (i5-6600K, i7-6700K) will once again be the only options for Skylake overclocking on Z170 on ASRock boards (assuming prior BIOS versions are no longer available), and with no Pentium G3258 this generation Intel is no longer a budget friendly option for enthusiasts looking to push their CPU past factory specs.

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(Image credit: Hexus.net)

It sounds like now would be a good time to archive that SKY OS enabled BIOS update file if you've downloaded it - or simply refrain from this BIOS update. What remains to be seen of course is whether other vendors will follow suit and disable BCLK overclocking of non-K processors. This had become a popular feature on a number of Z170 motherboards on the market, but ASRock may have been in too weak a position to battle Intel on this issue.

Source: Hexus

Unreal Editor for Unreal Engine 4 in VR

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | February 4, 2016 - 07:47 PM |
Tagged: GDC, gdc 2016, epic games, ue4, VR, vive vr

Epic Games released Unreal Engine 4 at GDC two years ago, and removed its subscription fee at the next year's show. This year, one of the things that they will show is Unreal Editor in VR with the HTC Vive. Using the system's motion controllers, you will be able to move objects and access UI panels in the virtual environment. They open the video declaring that this is not an experimental project.

epicgames-2016-tim-vr.jpg

Without using this technology, it's hard to comment on its usability. It definitely looks interesting, and might be useful for VR experiences. You can see what your experience will look like as you create it, and you probably even save a bit of time in rapid iteration by not continuously wearing and removing the equipment. I wonder how precise it will be though, since the laser pointers and objects seemed to snap and jitter a bit. That said, it might be just as precise and, even still, it only really matters how it looks and behaves, and it shouldn't even prevent minor tweaks after the fact anyway.

Epic Games expects to discuss the release plans at the show.

Source: Epic Games

Mods like memory; the Gainward GTX 960 Phantom 4GB

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 4, 2016 - 05:51 PM |
Tagged: gainward, GTX 960 Phantom 4GB. gtx 960, NVIDA, 4GB

If you don't have a lot of cash on hand for games or hardware, a 4k adaptive sync monitor with two $600 GPUs and a collection of $80 AAA titles simply isn't on your radar.  That doesn't mean you have to toss in your love of gaming for occasional free to play gaming sessions; you just have to adapt.  A prime example are those die hard Skyrim fans who have modded the game to oblivion over the past few years, with many other games and communities that may not be new but are still thriving.  Chances are that you are playing at 1080p so a high powered GPU is not needed, however mods that upscale textures and many others do love huge tracts of RAM. 

So for those outside of North America looking for a card they can afford after a bit of penny pinching, check out Legion Hardware's review of the 4GB version of the Gainward GTX 960 Phantom.  It won't break any benchmarking records but it will let you play the games you love and even new games as their prices inevitably decrease over time.

Image_03S.jpg

Today we are checking out Gainward’s premier GeForce GTX 960 graphics card, the Phantom 4GB. Equipped with twice the memory buffer of standard cards, it is designed for extreme 1080p gaming. Therefore it will be interesting to see how the Phantom 4GB compares to a 2GB GTX 960..."

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Are you going to phish or cut clickbait?

Subject: General Tech | February 4, 2016 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: security, google

Remember the thrill of finding the actual download button for the software you need, hidden on a webpage featuring at least four other large download buttons leading to unrelated and generally nasty software?  Well those horrible people at Google want to take that joy away from you!  Instead of practicing your skills at slapping the monkey, shooting the duck or pretending you are on an online version of Let's Make a Deal trying to pick the right download button to reveal the prize you want, they will present you with a bright red warning screen. 

For some reason those hacks over at The Inquirer think it is a good idea to take away the hours of time spent with your family, and all the interesting things that "just appeared" on their machines.

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"Google is still chipping away at creating a secure online experience and has just unearthed a new element for safe browsing that stops click-happy idiots doing click-stupid things."

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Source: The Inquirer

Microsoft Lets Anyone "Git" Their Deep Learning On With Open Source CNTK

Subject: General Tech | February 4, 2016 - 01:18 PM |
Tagged: open source, microsoft, machine learning, deep neural network, deep learning, cntk, azure

Microsoft has been using deep neural networks for awhile now to power its speech recognition technologies bundled into Windows and Skype to identify and follow commands and to translate speech respectively. This technology is part of Microsoft's Computational Network Toolkit. Last April, the company made this toolkit available to academic researchers on Codeplex, and it is now opening it up even more by moving the project to GitHub and placing it under an open source license.

Lead by chief speech and computer scientist Xuedong Huang, a team of Microsoft researchers built the Computational Network Toolkit (CNTK) to power all their speech related projects. The CNTK is a deep neural network for machine learning that is built to be fast and scalable across multiple systems, and more importantly, multiple GPUs which excel at these kinds of parallel processing workloads and algorithms. Microsoft heavily focused on scalability with CNTK and according to the company's own benchmarks (which is to say to be taken with a healthy dose of salt) while the major competing neural network tool kits offer similar performance running on a single GPU, when adding more than one graphics card CNTK is vastly more efficient with almost four times the performance of Google's TensorFlow and a bit more than 1.5-times Torch 7 and Caffe. Where CNTK gets a bit deep learning crazy is its ability to scale beyond a single system and easily tap into Microsoft's Azure GPU Lab to get access to numerous GPUs from their remote datacenters -- though its not free you don't need to purchase, store, and power the hardware locally and can ramp the number up and down based on how much GPU muscle you need. The example Microsoft provided showed two similarly spec'd Linux systems with four GPUs each running on Azure cloud hosting getting close to twice the performance of the 4 GPU system (75% increase). Microsoft claims that "CNTK can easily scale beyond 8 GPUs across multiple machines with superior distributed system performance."

cntk-speed-comparison.png

Using GPU-based Azure machines, Microsoft was able to increase the performance of Cortana's speech recognition by 10-times compared to the local systems they were previously using.

It is always cool to see GPU compute in practice and now that CNTK is available to everyone, I expect to see a lot of new uses for the toolkit beyond speech recognition. Moving to an open source license is certainly good PR, but I think it was actually done more for Microsoft's own benefit rather than users which isn't necessarily a bad thing since both get to benefit from it. I am really interested to see what researchers are able to do with a deep neural network that reportedly offers so much performance thanks to GPUs. I'm curious what new kinds of machine learning opportunities the extra speed will enable.

If you are interested, you can check out CNTK on GitHub!

Source: Microsoft

Podcast #385 - Rise of the Tomb Raider Performance, 3x NVMe M.2 RAID-0, AMD Q1 Offerings

Subject: General Tech | February 4, 2016 - 11:53 AM |
Tagged: video, Trion 150, tesla, steam os, Samsung, rise of the tomb raider, podcast, ocz, NVMe, Jim Keller, amd, 950 PRO

PC Perspective Podcast #385 - 02/04/2016

Join us this week as we discuss Rise of the Tomb Raider performance, a triple RAID-0 NVMe array and more!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

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