AMD will be cracking the Linux Catalyst wide open over the next year

Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2014 - 12:28 PM |
Tagged: amd, linux, unified driver, pirate islands

AMD had some news at the 2014 X.Org Developer's Conference that concerns their strategy when it comes to providing open source drivers for Linux.  To start off with the bad news, the new unified driver was prototyped on a not yet released Linux kernel and Sea Islands GPUs and will only work on the next generation of graphics cards, the Pirate Islands.  That is not a terrible thing as backwards compatibility can be a Kong sized monkey on the back of a driver and a fresh start allows the incorporation of features that might be skipped if legacy support is a main focus.  Only a small portion of the driver blob will be proprietary, the majority will be based on Catalyst but will be fully open source and editable.  This means users of the X.Org Server or even just those playing with new versions of the Linux kernel will no longer have to wait for a new Catalyst to be released nor will those playing with OpenGL.  Dive in deeper at Phoronix.

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"Alex Deucher of AMD has taken the floor at XDC2014, which got underway today in France to provide an update on the company's new unified open-source driver strategy. Compared to what I originally reported earlier in the year when breaking the news, there's some notable changes but overall this is an exciting endeavor for AMD Linux customers with the open and closed source AMD GPU drivers going to share the same (open-source) Linux kernel driver."

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Source: Phoronix

AMD's mobile APU update, Carrizo-L for Christmas, full Carrizo for the new year

Subject: General Tech | October 7, 2014 - 12:57 PM |
Tagged: mobile apu, Excavator, Carrizo-L, carrizo, amd, 28nm

Kaveri, Beema and Mullins are on their way out to be replaced by the Excavator based Carrizo family towards the end of the year.  We can hope they will appear in products in time for Christmas as the low power Carrizo-L, rumoured to be around 12-35W TDP, will arrive.  In the new year the more powerful Carrizo, speculated at 45-65W TDP, will be available.  It is unclear how long the delay will be between availability to system builders and the products appearing on the market.  The chips will support DDR3, contain a GPU based on GCN 3.0 and stacked on-package memory which will be accessible by Through Silicon Via to act as a sort of L3 cache for HSA applications.  DigiTimes also mentions it will run Win8 and Win10 as well as SLED.

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"AMD is planning to announce next-generation Carrizo APUs in March 2015 to replace its existing Kaveri APUs for the mainstream performance notebook segment and will release Carrizo-L APUs for the entry-level notebook segment in December 2014 at the earliest to challenge Intel's Pentium and Celeron processors, according to sources from notebook players."

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Source: DigiTimes

AIDA64 Version 4.70 Released

Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2014 - 11:50 PM |
Tagged: FinalWire, aida64

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Courtesy of FinalWire

Today, FinalWire Ltd. announced the release of version 4.70 of their diagnostic and benchmarking tool, AIDA64. This new version updates their Extreme Edition, Engineer Edition, and Business Edition of the software.

The latest version of AIDA64 has been updated to work with the latest LCD and VFD screen-based devices as well as several of the newest SSD devices on the market. FinalWire also integrated support for CUDA 6.5, Mantle, and OpenGL 4.5 for testing with the newest AMD and NVIDIA graphics accelerators.

New features include:

  • Support for new LCD and VFD devices: Acer Idea 500, Adafruit, Aquaero, AX206, BWCT, CH424, Crystalfontz, ct-Mausekino, Cwlinux, Dangerous Prototypes HD44780, Futaba DM-140GINK, Futaba MDM166A, GLCD2USB, IkaLogic, LCDInfo USB13700, LCDInfo USBD480, LPT, Matrix Orbital LK RS232, Matrix Orbital GLK RS232, Odroid-Show, Phidget, picoLCD, POS, Pyramid, Roccat Valo, Samsung SPF, SoundGraph iMon LCD, SpikenzieLabs MPTH, Sure Electronics, Trefon, USB2LCD+, Wallbraun LUI, Yoctopuce
  • Microsoft Windows 10 Technical Preview and Windows Server 2015 Technical Preview support
  • Advanced support for Razer SwitchBlade UI LCD
  • Support for LGA2011-v3 motherboards
  • CUDA 6.5, OpenGL 4.5 support
  • AData SP610, AData SP910, Corsair Force LX, Corsair Neutron, Corsair Neutron GTX, OCZ Arc 100, Seagate 600, SanDisk Extreme Pro, SanDisk X300s SSD support
  • GPU details for AMD Radeon R9 285
  • GPU details for nVIDIA GeForce 900 Series

Software updates new to this release (since AIDA64 v4.00):

  • Microsoft Windows 8.1 Update 1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Update 1 support
  • OpenCL GPGPU Benchmark Suite
  • AMD Mantle graphics accelerator diagnostics
  • Multi-threaded memory stress test with SSE, SSE2, AVX, AVX2, FMA, BMI and BMI2 acceleration
  • Optimized 64-bit benchmarks for AMD “Kaveri”, “Bald Eagle”, “Mullins”, “Beema” APUs
  • Optimized 64-bit benchmarks for Intel Atom C2000 “Avoton” and “Rangeley” SoC
  • Optimized 64-bit benchmarks for Intel “Bay Trail” desktop, mobile and tablet SoC
  • Full support for the upcoming Intel “Haswell Refresh” platform with Intel “Wildcat Point” PCH
  • Support for new LCD and VFD devices: Abacom (ExpertProfi), AlphaCool, Digital Devices, LCD2USB, Mad Catz Venom, Matrix Orbital LK, Matrix Orbital GLK, Matrix Orbital GX, nMedia Pro-LCD, Pertelian X2040, SDC Megtron, SoundGraph iMon VFD, VL System LIS, VL System LIS 2
  • Improved support for Intel “Broadwell” CPU
  • Preliminary support for AMD “Carrizo” and “Toronto” APUs
  • Preliminary support for Intel Quark X1000 “Clanton” SoC
  • Preliminary support for Intel “Skylake”, “Cherry Trail”, “Denverton” CPUs
  • Improved support for Intel “Haswell-E” CPU and DDR4 memory modules
  • Support for DDR4 XMP 2.0 memory profiles
  • Intel H97 and Z97 chipset based motherboards support
  • SMTP SSL support
  • Improved handling of XSL files
  • Revamped Direct3D Compute Shader devices enumeration
  • CUDA 6.0, OpenGL ES 3.1 support
  • Improved support for OpenCL 2.0
  • Support for VirtualBox v4.3 and VMware Workstation v10
  • A-Data SP920, Crucial M550, Intel 730, OCZ Vector 150, OCZ Vertex 460, Plextor M6M, Plextor M6S, Samsung 845DC Evo, Samsung 850 Pro, Samsung XP941 SSD support
  • GPU details for AMD Radeon R5, R7, R9 Series
  • GPU details for nVIDIA GeForce 700 and 800 Series

About FinalWire

FinalWire is the global leader in the development of diagnostic and network management software products for Windows based computers. The company's founding members are veteran software developers who have worked together on programming system utilities for almost two decades. For more information, visit www.aida64.com

Source: FinalWire

Hewlett-Packard (HP) Splits Into Two Companies

Subject: General Tech, Systems | October 6, 2014 - 07:27 PM |
Tagged: restructure, layoffs, hp inc, hp, hewlett-packard enterprise

HP's restructure initiative has been ongoing for years, leading to tens of thousands of layoffs. This occurred in several phases, with low-margin businesses grouped alongside highly profitable ones. Originally, HP considered spinning off PC devices but later paired it with its highly profitable printing products.

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Today, HP announced plans to split into two companies: HP Inc., the aforementioned PC and printing division, and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, which will handle servers, networking, and other infrastructure as well as enterprise software and services. Shareholders will receive stock in both companies in an "intended to be tax-free" transaction. Obviously, that may vary by jurisdiction.

The reasons are fairly straight-forward. Print and PC are not heavily growing markets, especially not compared to their enterprise division. These two companies are roughly equal in size, so separating them highlights each side's strengths and weaknesses, and allows new investors to bet on one without giving money to the other. While Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is expected to be the higher-growth company, HP Inc. is expected to get into 3D printing as a consumer service. It will also inherit the logo, likely because it is something that consumers still identify with.

Current CEO, Meg Whitman, will be CEO of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and Chair of HP Inc.

The "transaction" for shareholders is expected by the end of FY15. It will also align with the loss of 5000 jobs, resulting in 55,000 layoffs since Whitman joined the company. I have yet to hear anything about where these cuts will occur.

Source: HP

ARM and TSMC are headed for 10nm

Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2014 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: arm, TSMC, 10nm, FinFET, armv8-a

ARM and TSMC are moving ahead at an impressive pace, now predicting 10nm FinFET designs taping out possibly in the fourth quarter of 2015.  That could even be possible considering how quickly they incorporated FinFET to move from 20nm SoC to 16nm.  The  the ARMv8-A processor architecture will have a few less transistors than a high end CPU which does help their process adoption move more quickly than AMD or Intel but with AMD partnering up with ARM there is the possibility of seeing this new ARM architecture in AMD chips in the not too distant future.  As DigiTimes points out, there are many benefits that have come from this partnership between ARM and TSMC.

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"ARM and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) have announced a new multi-year agreement that will deliver ARMv8-A processor IP optimized for TSMC 10nm FinFET process technology. Because of the success in scaling from 20nm SoC to 16nm FinFET, ARM and TSMC have decided to collaborate again for 10FinFET."

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Source: DigiTimes

Mozilla Approves Plans for 64-Bit Firefox on Windows

Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2014 - 03:45 AM |
Tagged: windows, mozilla, firefox, 64-bit

If you had a reason, Mozilla has been compiling Firefox Nightly as a 64-bit application for Windows over the last several months. It is not a build that is designed for the general public; in fact, I believe it is basically only available to make sure that they did not horribly break anything during some arbitrary commit. That might change relatively soon, though.

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According to Mozilla's "internal", albeit completely public wiki, the non-profit organization is currently planning to release an official, 64-bit version of Firefox 37. Of course, all targets in Firefox are flexible and, ultimately, it is only done when it is done. If everything goes to schedule, that should be March 31st.

The main advantage is for high-performance applications (although there are some arguments for security, too). One example is if you open numerous tabs, to get Firefox's memory usage up, then attempt to load a Web applications like BananaBread. Last I tried, it will simply not load (unless you clean up memory usage somehow, like restarting the browser). It will run out of memory and just give up. You can see how this would be difficult for higher-end games, video editing utilities, and so forth. This will not be the case when 64-bit comes around.

If you are looking to develop a web app, be sure to check out the 64-bit Firefox Nightly builds. Unless plans change, it looks like you will have even more customers soon. This is unless, of course, you are targeting Mac OSX and Linux, which already have 64-bit binaries available. Also, why are you targeting specific operating systems with a website?

Source: Mozilla

New Amazon Kindle Fire HDX Features Cameras and Optional Keyboard

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 4, 2014 - 11:43 PM |
Tagged:

Amazon launched a bevy of new tablets and eReaders late last month. An updated Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 will be available October 21st and replaces last year’s model as the flagship Kindle tablet.

Measuring 8.9” and weighing 13.2 ounces (13.7oz for the 4G model), the upcoming HDX 8.9” tablet retains the same form factor as its predecessor. The mobile device does pack in internal hardware improvements, updated software features, and an optional bluetooth Fire Keyboard accessory. The tablet features an 8.9” 2560x1600 (339 PPI) display, Dobly Atmos audio, an 8MP rear camera, and a 720p front-facing webcam. Amazon is using what it calls “Dynamic Light Control” which alters the display’s color temperature to match ambient light along with a dynamic backlighting.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX.jpg

With that said, the major changes between the previous model and the new Fire HDX 8.9 lie in updated internal hardware and Amazon’s latest operating system and UI features. Specifically, Amazon has upgraded to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 SoC and a faster (802.11ac) Wi-Fi radio. Last year’s tablet used the Snapdragon 800 clocked at 2.2GHz with an Adreno 330 GPU. The new HDX 8.9’s Snapdragon 805 is clocked at 2.5GHz and features an Adreno 420 GPU. Both tablets feature 2GB RAM and 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB internal storage options. Amazon claims up to 12 hours of battery life when reading, browsing the web, and watching videos.

The new tablet with ship with Amazon’s latest Fire OS operating system known as Fire OS 4.0 “Sangria.” Sangria is a custom fork of Android 4.4 KitKat that features Amazon’s custom user interface in addition to ASAP predictive pre-loading, Smart Suspend technology, Family Library media sharing, device profiles, and Mayday help/support.

The Fire Keyboard is a 7oz, 4.8mm thin Bluetooth keyboard that can attach magnetically to the optional Origami tablet case. The keyboard features 74 keys (including shortcut and search keys), a small trackpad, Bluetooth 3.0, and a lithium ion battery that has a claimed battery life of two months of active usage. It has an MSRP of $59.99 and will begin shipping October 21.The Origami case is another optional accessory that can hold and protect both the keyboard and tablet. It will be available in black, blue, and red leather for $69.99 from Amazon.

Amazon Fire Keyboard.jpg

The new Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is up for pre-order now but will officially be available on October 21st. Pricing and SKU data is listed in the table below. Needless to say, this is an overall minor upgrade over last year's model and it is not something existing HDX 8.9" users are likely excited about. However, on its own, the new model has decent specifications and if you are looking into a new Kindle Fire tablet, it is worth considering, especially if you plan to take advantage of the faster processor for activities such as gaming in addition to reading books and watching movies.

Pricing Information for Amazon's New Kindle Fire HDX 8.9" Tablet

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX Tablet Pricing.jpg

Will you be picking up the latest Fire OS flagship?

Source: Amazon

Cherry Trail, Nolan and Amur coming soon

Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2014 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged: amd, Intel, Cherry Trail, Nolan, Amur

As usual neither AMD nor Intel had any comments to pass onto DigiTimes about processors they have yet to release but the chances are that this story is fairly accurate.  In March we should start hearing more about Cherry Trail, Intel's 64-bit ultramobile CPU designed for the next generation of tablets.  AMD will be working on two chips, Nolan which we know very little about apart from the fact that it will be used in tablets and a new chip called Amur.  Amur is an HSA chip designed specifically for use in devices running Android and Linux and incorporates ARM architecture, specifically the Cortex A57.  That puts it in the Seattle family which Josh went into detail about in his article here which will make it a rather interesting product.

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"Intel's Cherry Trail CPUs will enter mass production in March 2015. Intel is also preparing the Atom Z3000 processor for the 64-bit tablet market. As for 4G chips, Intel is set to use SoFIA-series processors for the tablet market, the sources said."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: DigiTimes

"The Fourth Annual Saxxy Awards" Are Awarded

Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2014 - 02:11 AM |
Tagged: valve, source engine, contest, awards

Once each year, Valve hosts a competition, called The Saxxy Awards, to find the best Team Fortress 2 animation. It is named after Saxton Hale, a character from the game's irrelevant (but amazingly well developed) lore that is best known for being an eccentric action hero and executive of a fictional corporation. Its goal is to promote the use of Source Filmmaker and the rest of Valve's user-generated content tools.

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This year's overall winner as Animation vs Animator, embed below, where The Scout makes a movie where he torments The Heavy (who responds in kind). The video is likely a reference to the oppositely-named classic series of Flash animations where a stick figure in Flash Professional fights against its creator. Four videos were nominated in each of the four categories, short, action, comedy, and drama, each with its own winner.

Be sure to check them out if you want something to watch for a few minutes, or sixteen somethings.

Source: Valve

Podcast #320 - Micron M600 SSD, NVIDIA and Adaptive Sync, Windows 10 and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2014 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: X99 Classified, X99, video, tlc, tegra k1, ssd, Samsung, podcast, nvidia, micron, M600, iphone 6, g-sync, freesync, evga, broadwell-u, Broadwell, arm, apple, amd, adaptive sync, a8, 840 evo, 840

PC Perspective Podcast #320 - 10/02/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the Micron M600 SSD, NVIDIA and Adaptive Sync, Windows 10 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!

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

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