Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2013 - 12:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: windows, microsoft, threshold, win 8.2
Two rumours about Microsoft are making the rounds right now, the first about the impending death of one their OSes is pretty easy to understand; there is no polite way to describe WinRT. The second is both more interesting and also harder to believe, Project Threshold could possibly see the return of a fully functional Start button to a newly updated desktop version called Windows 8.2 as apparently Service Packs are no longer cool. Project Threshold is bigger than just a button as the rumours have this updating Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox One with the possibility that WinRT gets rolled into the Windows Phone OS. While there are ways to modify Win 8.1 to allow a more classical interface it will be a big step forward in usability if it becomes native. You can follow the links at The Register to the source of these rumours.
"According to Winsupersite, Microsoft is planning the return of the Windows Start button under the codename "Threshold", and this will be the first time we'll see it in its original form since Windows 7."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- How to build a memcomputer @ Nanotechweb
- 'Leaked Intel roadmap' promises... er, gear that could die after 7 months @ The Register
- Qualcomm announces a gimmick-free 64-bit processor @ The Inquirer
- Futuremark 3DMark v1.2.250 Released @ NGOHQ
- CyanogenMod Integrates Text Message Encryption @ Slashdot
Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2013 - 12:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
This Dell Inspiron 15 Dual-core 15.6" Laptop is at such a low price it almost counts as a stocking stuffer. The dual core Celeron 1017U @ 1.6GHz isn't going to top out the benchmark charts but should run rings around most tablets and the 4GB DDR3 memory and 320GB HDD will give it more flexibility. It runs Windows 8 64-bit and has an attractive list of I/O ports.
- Dell Inspiron 15 Dual-core 15.6" Laptop for $279.99 with Free Shipping (normally $379.99 - use coupon code: DMG5HG3LJW2JF9).
- XFX Core Edition Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card for$104.99 with Free Shipping(normally $199.99 - use coupon code: MASTERPASS).
- ViewSonic 27-Inch Screen LED-backlit Monitor (VX2770SMH-LED) for $224.99 with Free Shipping(normally $339.99 - use coupon code: GREENMD118).
- Dell 1210S DLP Projector for $325.00 (normally $369.00).
- Night Owl 4-Camera 500GB HDD DVR Surveillance System for $179.99 with free shipping(normally $269.99 - use coupon code: MASTERPASS).
- ThinkGeek Coupon: 25% off Orders of $40 or more
Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2013 - 12:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: interconnect, fibre optics, 32 Gbps, HPC
With new emphasis on building modular HPC machines from multitudes of low powered processors working in parallel interconnect technology needs to provide immense amounts of bandwidth. This is becoming much closer to reality as 32 Gbps channel is undergoing standardization and will likely be quickly accepted and certified. Products using this standard are still a year or more from market but will likely be quickly adopted by companies who depend on large arrays of VMs. According to the roadmap on The Register 64 Gbps is already starting development with 2016 as a possible goal for its standardization process to begin.
"The Association has let it be known that the “INCITS T11 standards committee has recently completed the Fibre Channel Physical Interface - sixth generation (FC-PI-6) industry standard for specifying 32 Gigabit per second (Gbps) Fibre Channel and will forward it to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for publication in the first quarter of 2014."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Apple, Microsoft, Google and others ask for less NSA snooping @ The Inquirer
- $40 Lens Hack Gives Your FLIR Higher Resolution @ Hack a Day
- AT&T strikes deal to offer LTE data roaming in Canada @ Engadget
- My best Oculus Rift experiences to date @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 9, 2013 - 03:03 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: R9 290X, DirectCU II, asus
The AMD Radeon R9 290X is a very good graphics processor whose reference design is marred with a few famous design choices. AMD specs the GPU to run at a maximum of 95C, perpetually, and will push its frequency up to 1 GHz if it can stay at or under that temperature. Its cooler in the typical, "Quiet", default setting is generally unable to keep this frequency for more than a handful of minutes. This lead to countless discussions about what it means to be a default and what are the components actual specifications.
All along we note that custom designs from add-in board (AIB) partners could change everything.
ASUS seems to be first to tease their custom solution. This card, based on their DirectCU II design, uses two fans and multiple 10mm nickel plated heatpipes directly atop the processor. The two fans should be able to move more air at a slower rate of rotation and thus be more efficient per decibel. The heatsink itself might also be able to pull heat, quicker, altogether. I am hoping that ASUS provisioned the part to remain at a stable 1GHz under default settings or perhaps even more!
The real test for Hawaii will be when the wave of custom editions washes on shore. We know the processor is capable of some pretty amazing performance figures when it can really open up. This, and other partner boards, would make for possibly the most interesting AIB round-up we have ever had.
No word, yet, on pricing or availability.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | December 8, 2013 - 11:14 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows xp, Windows 7
Users of Windows 7, current and planned, have a few dates to remember. First, as of October 30th, Microsoft has stopped selling retail (boxed) packages of that operating system. Second, OEMs can continue to sell systems with Windows 7 preloaded for a year after that date (October 30th, 2014). Third, the operating system will receive typical updates until January 13th, 2015. Fourth, security fixes will be provided until January 14th, 2020. Oddly, Microsoft's website disagrees with Mary Jo Foley's timeline; I expect it might just be out of date.
Windows XP is creeping towards the oblivion as April slowly arrives. The 8th of that month marks the end of security updates and other forms of utter chaos for machines with a vibrant green Start button. With Microsoft essentially turning a blind eye to unpatched exploits, it will become progressively more unsafe to use XP except in well controlled (virtualized, firewalled, etc.) instances.
But, according to Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet, Microsoft will not sell them a retail copy of the Windows 7 any more (as of October 30th, 2013). The official Windows Product Lifecycle guide, however, still lists this date as "To be determined". Either Microsoft is very slow (updating their warning website after the date passes) or it was a much softer deadline than the editorial claims. Most of the Amazon product pages are for third party resellers, except for Windows 7 Pro Full, so it might just be clearing stock. Who knows.
OEMs will have a much easier time, however. Microsoft will continue allowing them to sell Windows 7 with new PCs for another year, until October 30th 2014. Again, this date is unlisted from the Windows Product Lifecycle guide.
It will all need to come to an end at some point though. Windows XP lost mainstream support back in April 14th, 2009; the same will come of Windows 7 in a little over a year: January 13th, 2015. That said, beyond new versions of Internet Explorer, Windows 7 has not been receiving too many updates as it stands. With DirectX now considered a core feature of Windows, the last couple of revisions are exclusive to the latest release. We still have Firefox and Chrome when they pull IE from our cold dead hands. I feel weird writing this...
The most devastating date, which XP users are about to face, is the end of extended support. Come January 14th, 2020, Microsoft will not longer provide security updates. Users of Windows 7 will need to be extra cautious and only deploy it in well controlled environments.
Like for me, if Microsoft continues going down the Windows Store path, a VM on a Linux machine.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | December 8, 2013 - 04:11 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: TSMC, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, broadcom
Josh Walrath titled the intro of his "Next Gen Graphics and Process Migration: 20nm and Beyond" editorial: "The Really Good Times are Over". Moore's Law predicts that, with each ~2 year generation, we will be able to double the transistor count of our integrated circuits. It does not, however, set a price.
A look into GlobalFoundries.
"Moore's Law is expensive" remarked Tom Kilroy during his Computex 2013 keynote. Intel spends about $12 billion USD in capital, every year, to keep the transistors coming. It shows. They are significantly ahead of their peers in terms of process technology. Intel is a very profitable company who can squirrel away justifications for these research and development expenses across numerous products and services.
The benefits of a process shrink are typically three-fold: increased performance, decreased power consumption, and lower cost per chip (as a single wafer is better utilized). Chairman and CTO of Broadcom, Henry Samueli, told reporters that manufacturing complexity is pushing chip developers into a situation where one of those three benefits must be sacrificed for the other two.
You are suddenly no longer searching for an overall better solution. You are searching for a more optimized solution in many respects but with inherent tradeoffs.
He expects GlobalFoundries and TSMC to catch up to Intel and "the cost curve should come back to normal". Still, he sees another wall coming up when we hit the 5nm point (you can count the width or height of these transistors, in atoms, using two hands) and even more problems beyond that.
Image Credit: IONAS
From my perspective: at some point, we will need to say goodbye to electronic integrated circuits. The theorists are already working on how we can develop integrated circuits using non-electronic materials. For instance, during the end of my Physics undergraduate degree, my thesis adviser was working on nonlinear optics within photonic crystals; waveguides which transmit optical frequency light rather than radio frequency electric waves. Of course I do not believe his research was on Optical Integrated Circuits, but that is not really the point.
Humanity is great at solving problems when backs are against walls. But, what problem will they try?
Power consumption? Cost? Performance?
Subject: General Tech, Systems | December 7, 2013 - 04:04 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: SteamOS, PiixL Jetpack
This is what an open ecosystem does best.
The Jetpack, by British PC developer Piixl, is a computer that can attach to the back of a TV. If your TV stands on its own, the Jetpack clings to the television's unused wall mount point. If you were intending to mount your TV on the wall, the PC can reside between the two. These are the user needs that can only be addressed by allowing organizations (large companies, small businesses, hobbyist groups, and individuals) to explore in the niches either to "scratch their own itch"or differentiate their product.
The computer is branded mostly for SteamOS but can also be installed with a full version of Windows or Linux (which you can then install a Steam Client on). It is looking more and more like Valve is successful in herding OEMs.
The internals of this computer are quite interesting. It looks like they are attaching a 2-wide videocard 90-degrees to a mini-ITX motherboard with the other components spaced out around those two parts. Their official media claims that they will support any GPU (I assume they are not considering ones with extra- thick coolers) which should make future upgrades easy.
I may never purchase a Steam machine but I am excited that they exist. The purpose for the PC ecosystem is that every user with any need can find or create a solution. That is why general purpose computation devices exist: perform whatever information storage or manipulation the user desires. I do not have many of the needs that these boxes satisfy... but some people do and there should be systems available for them.
The Verge claims that the Jetpack will be available in January. I can sense a theme for CES 2014.
Subject: General Tech | December 6, 2013 - 01:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Today's Alienware 14 deal is for a 14" 1080p laptop with quite a bit inside of it's compact chassis. A core i7-4700MQ, 8GB DDR3-1600 and a 1GB GeForce GTX 750M offer decent performance and connectivity includes Bluetooth and a KillerNIC handling WiFi. Storage is a 750GB 7200RPM HDD and a DVD Burner you can upgrade to a BlueRay if you so desire. It comes with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit installed.
- Alienware 14 "Haswell" Core i7 1080p Gaming Laptop w/ GeForce GT 750M for $1,149.00 with Free Shipping (normally $3,499.99 - use coupon code: 1PBNCDBWQLQD95).
- Samsung UN40EH5300 40" 120Hz LED Smart HDTV + $125 Gift Card for$497.99 with Free Shipping(normally $529.99).
- ASUS GeForce GTX 760 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express Video Card + FREE Assassin Creed IV + Splinter Cell Game for $239.99 with Free Shipping(normally $269.99).
- TP-LINK TL-WN822N 300Mbps High Gain Wireless-N USB Adapter for $14.99 (normally $24.99).
- Acer G226HQLBbd 21.5" LED-backlight LCD Monitor for $99.99 with free shipping(normally $159.99).
- Seagate 1TB Solid State Hybrid 3.5" Desktop Drive for $79.99 with Free Shipping(normally $109.99).
Subject: General Tech | December 6, 2013 - 12:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, R9 290X, leafblower
The Tech Report posted an statement from AMD about the variability that sites have seen when comparing retail 290X's to the press samples sent out to review sites. At this moment they are citing heat issues and the fact that the performance delta is lessened under Uber mode but will be investigating other possible causes. With the pending arrival of third party coolers we will be able to get a better sense of the possible contribution insufficient cooling has on these issues it is also possible that the golden sample theory is also at least partially correct. The big win for consumers is AMD's attitude adjustment and admission that there is an issue worth investigating; if they can get your R9 290X running faster you will be the one who wins after all.
"The range of performance differential is not expected to meaningfully change the user experience but we’ve taken note of recent reports that the degree of variability is higher than expected. Reasonably we would expect the variability to occur both above and below the performance of the press samples, however it appears that most reported performances are biased towards the low side."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- FTC Drops the Hammer On Maker of Location-Sharing Flashlight App @ Slashdot
- Apple Mac Pro could arrive on 16 December @ The Inquirer
- Google lets users slurp own Gmail, Calendar data @ The Register
- Internet Explorer 11 at it again, breaks Microsoft's own CRM software @ The Register
- Livescribe 3 Smartpen @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 6, 2013 - 04:13 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: asus, padfone, PadFone Mini
I will be entirely honest with you: every time I need to look up the PadFone to make sure I am not getting it confused with the FonePad.
An older model but it gets the point across.
The upcoming PadFone Mini is expected to be a phone of some size (probably smaller than the 5" Pad Fone Infinity) with a dock of some other unknown size. The phone was briefly mentioned in a China Times article back in September. There it was expected to have a 4-inch display on the handset and a 7-inch display on the tablet dock. According to Engadget's interpretation of the VR-Zone leak (who saw that coming?) that might have changed since then.
The device itself is expected to be based on the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC, run Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean), and have a handset resolution of 960x540. That is about all that we have even the slightest clue about at this point.
No word yet on whether this device will even be available in North America though. For that, we will probably need to wait until the actual announcement (or even later).
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