Samsung adding AMD to their customers?

Subject: General Tech | December 22, 2015 - 02:07 PM |
Tagged: amd, Samsung, 14nm, rumour

The talk around the watercooler includes a rumour that AMD may use Samsung to produce at least some of their 14nm chips in the coming year.  If true this has been a huge year for Samsung who produce NVIDIA chips as well as recently picking up a contract with Apple to produce some of their A9 SoCs.  The rumour still includes GLOBALFOUNDRIES as a source for APUs and GPUs so this would make Samsung a second source for working silicon, which we can hope will alleviate some of AMD's difficulty in maintaining supplies of products.  This could also help fund Samsung's development of their 10nm FinFET node which the claim should be in production by the end of 2016.  As always, take the rumour for what it is but if you want to learn more about what is being said you can pop over to The Inquirer.

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"A report in South Korea's Electronic Times, which cited unknown sources, said that Samsung Electronics will start making new chips for AMD sometime next year."

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Source: The Inquirer

Bradbury would approve of HTTP Error Code 451

Subject: General Tech | December 21, 2015 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: censorship, error 451

After several years of debate, we will now have a new HTTP error specifically for sites that have been taken down due to court orders and other legal actions.  Error 451, of which you can see an example of here, will contain information on where the page is blocked, the law against which it transgressed and a link to the court case and other pertinent information such as when the court order expires.  451 Unavailable will keep a record of the sites which are blocked if you are curious about what sites are being blocked around the world.

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"The Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) has finally approved the new 451 status code for HTTP error messages involving web pages which have been repressed or removed for legal or political reasons. The initiative was proposed in 2013, and gained interest from various groups, such as Lumen (formerly Chilling Effects), who see the potential of the Bradbury-inspired code to help develop comprehensive indexes of censorship on the internet."

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Source: Slashdot

HTC Vive Headset and Controllers Allegedly Leaked

Subject: General Tech | December 18, 2015 - 04:26 PM |
Tagged: valve, htc, vive, vive vr

A grain of salt is needed for this one. Users on Reddit claim to have found a pair of renders, one of the headset and one of the controllers, for the HTC Vive VR system. They also have a screenshot of the page, although the first words you see are “This Is Real,” which are the most sketchy, ironic, and unfortunate words to be greeted with in a product leak.

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The current HTC Vive prototype looks like a rough version of this. There are some significant differences, though. My major concern is at the front of the headset. You can clearly see a front-facing camera as well as two nubs below it, one to the bottom-left, and one to the bottom-right. If those two nubs are also cameras, then that makes a bit more sense.

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If those two nubs are not cameras, then Valve would have downgraded from a two-camera system, in the original prototype, to a single camera. Valve has already claimed that the Vive will have front-facing cameras, plural, to track objects (like pets) for safety reasons. I can see them adding an extra camera, but I doubt that they would use just a single one. Two cameras allow more accurate depth tracking at low distances, which is when you risk... interacting... with the user. That sounds unlikely.

If it's three cameras? That makes sense.

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Kyle Orland of Ars Technica is using the original prototype during GDC 2015.
Image Credit: Ars Technica

The controllers are also interesting, but mostly from an aesthetic standpoint. The hexagonal plates, which apparently functioned as sensors, seem to have been changed into circular rings (if the hole goes all the way through). They retain their thumb trackpads, triggers, and a couple of buttons. It's unclear whether each controller is identical, or if there's a difference between the intended-left and intended-right models. Being a lefty, I hope not.

At roughly the same time, Cher Wang, the CEO of HTC, announced that the HTC Vive will be unveiled at CES (in January). It won't be available until around April, but we should know basically all there is to know about the system at next month's trade show. Given this timing, and that multiple users have been posting the leak seemingly independently, it sounds valid. The camera configuration, on the other hand, takes a bit away from that.

Source: Reddit

Podcast #379 - Snapdragon 820, AMD's GPUOpen, Thrustmaster T300 and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 17, 2015 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: video, Thrustmaster, T300, snapdragon 820, Skylake, qualcomm, podcast, logitech g, Intel, i3-6100, gpuopen, gameworks, arx control, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #379 - 12/17/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Snapdragon 820, AMD's GPUOpen, Thrustmaster T300 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
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  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano, and Sebastian Peak

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Some dense reading for your morning about N3XT and nanotube based processors

Subject: General Tech | December 17, 2015 - 12:35 PM |
Tagged: N3XT, nanotubes, TSV

The achillies heel of processing density is heat and how to radiate it away from the parts doing the work, which is why processors and memory tend to be very flat.  This has change, we have begun to see 3D VNAND become common on the marketplace thanks to reduced heat generation and a variety of arcane tricks some of which Al explained last year.  Processors offer a more significant challenge, the TDP is much larger than that of flash and hotspots are more common and have a much more drastic effect on performance.  They can also be more difficult to fabricate; there is quite a trick to baking the interior of the chip without overcooking the external layers

Stanford University is working on what they call Nano-Engineered Computing Systems Technology, or N3XT which is working on Through Silicon Vias for processors. If successful this would allow a similar structure to current 3D VNAND on a processor which would vastly increase processing density.  The lower temperatures required to fab carbon nanotube transistors may just be what the industry has needed.  Make sure your brain is turned on and read on at The Inquirer.

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"One way in which Stanford University is exploring this is by using carbon nanotube technology in high-rise chip architecture processes. Working alongside other universities, Stanford engineers have created this new technology, which it calls Nano-Engineered Computing Systems Technology, or N3XT."

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Source: The Inquirer

This One Takes It to 11! Windows 10 Insider Build 11082

Subject: General Tech | December 16, 2015 - 06:20 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

A new build is available for Windows 10 at the Insider Fast update level. This one is numbered 11082, and it is the first one on the “Redstone” track. Users will probably not notice any changes, beyond the bugs, because the modifications are all under-the-hood. They are working on the core of the operating system, called “OneCore,” to restructure it better for the wide variety of hardware that it's designed for.

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This raises the question: Why now? It's odd that they would release a public preview that seemingly adds nothing, just before the holidays when the engineers will be unavailable to fix it. That feels like replacing the first floor of a building from wood to maybe-not-quite-set concrete, then hopping on a plane for a few weeks. Of course, this is not a bad thing. This is what some Insiders want to experience, and those who don't can drop down to Slow (or leave Insider).

Also, Microsoft sort-of explained why they did this. First, they intend to get down to business on features and upgrades in January. Basically, they structured their work such that pre-Holiday tasks built the infrastructure for post-Holiday creations (as I mentioned in the first paragraph). Big development tasks are often done on branches of a canonical product that are merged when complete. Merging a branch back into the trunk is easier when the trunk is designed more modularly, etc. In that context, it makes sense to see how it reacts in a large sample of configurations just before you start pushing big feature payloads into it. The second explanation is that Microsoft intends to speed up Insider previews in general.

If you're interested, WinBeta has a video “walking through” the features, although they basically just read the announcement. They also checked to see whether Microsoft Edge changed to add extensions, and it didn't.

A list of known issues is also available in the Insider Hub app post. Basically, Language packs and "Features on Demand" will not install. File progress dialogues will not show (even though the actual copy / move / delete will work without issue). Finally, some default apps will be incorrectly reset.

It is available through Windows Update for Fast Insiders.

Source: Microsoft

Mountain climbing with an Oculus

Subject: General Tech | December 16, 2015 - 12:58 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Oculus, crytek, the climb

Crytek announced their designed for Oculus game yesterday, The Climb.  As you might infer from the title of the game you will be scaling cliffs and mountains using either an Xbox One controller or Oculus Touch with your Oculus to experience something that would not be anywhere near as interesting on a computer monitor.  The disembodied hands are a little disturbing, though perhaps not as much as the heights will be for those who suffer from vertigo, though perhaps this would be an interesting way to try to conquer your fears.  The video below shows off the graphics, though not as immersive as it would be in VR it still looks rather interesting.  Many developers are looking to space sims to be the killer app for Oculus, for instance EVE Valkyrie come as part of the pre-order bundle shipped with the first consumer model.

Crytek might have just found the other style of game to interest people in the Oculus, extreme sports could be very compelling with the new VR headset.

"The Climb invites thrill-seekers to experience the ultimate in extreme sports by going beyond the point of no return and scaling deadly cliff faces unaided. The game boasts hyper-realistic climbing locations from around the world, and players will discover the freedom of gaming with the Rift using either an Xbox One controller or Oculus Touch controllers as they soak up their awe-inspiring surroundings."

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Source: The Climb

You should upgrade to Win10 now ... or now ... or how about now ... maybe now ... now might be a good time ...

Subject: General Tech | December 16, 2015 - 12:16 PM |
Tagged: windows 10

You could do it now ... or tonight ... or maybe we will just do it for you while you are away because we are such nice people and we know you are really concerned about running the latest OS and security patches.

Yes that's right folks, if you have yet to take advantage of Microsoft's generosity they will soon be making you an offer that is impossible to refuse ... almost.  The nag screens have been updated to offer two obvious choices, Upgrade Now or Upgrade Tonight, with that little red x in the corner being the only way to turn down the offer.  By now you have probably had relatives reach out to you about this latest virus, or your friends explain how this proves Microsoft is out to eat your brainwaves or some such thing. 

What it does mean is that the average user is going to be rather miffed but will likely upgrade if they are not privy to the secret of the red x.  Those who don't use their computers often, or who will be away for the holidays will come home to a shiny new OS in the very near future as Windows 10 has reached Recommended Update status and will install itself on all Win7/8x systems not configured to defer updates.  The smell of desperation is in the air, the knowledgeable have already chosen to upgrade or to disable the nag screens while the unaware are about to encounter a surprise and we all know how well unexpected surprises are received lately.

Why Microsoft is so desperate to push this free upgrade out, even to with the risk of alienating their largest user base, barring corporations who they had to exempt, is somewhat of a mystery.  Then again, it is better than snatching the upgrade away before the originally announced year and billing full price on the next upgrade cycle.  Perhaps they are looking at Amazon's success with subscription based cloud services with a bit of jealousy?

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"We spoke to Microsoft about our concerns last month and were told that "the average user ... wants to make sure they've got the most secure and always up-to-date version of Windows, and the feedback we get is that people want that to be as simple and seamless as possible""

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Source: The Register

Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows Now Supports 7, 8.x

Subject: General Tech | December 16, 2015 - 07:20 AM |
Tagged: xbox one, Windows 8.1, windows 8, Windows 7, windows 10, microsoft

Last week, Microsoft announced that the Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows now supports Windows 7 and 8.x. Previously, the dongle would only work on Windows 10, which meant that other operating systems required Xbox One controllers to be wired.

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This does not mean that all functionality will be available on Windows 7 and 8.x, though. The Xbox Accessories app is required to manage profiles and update firmware without an Xbox One console. As far as I can tell, that will continue to be the case. If you have an Xbox One console, and don't mind managing the controllers there, then this wireless adapter might be for you. If you have don't have an Xbox One console, Windows 10, or an existing Xbox One controller, then you may want to reconsider getting an Xbox One controller at all. If you do, then you can turn it wireless, now even on Windows 7 and 8.x.

The Xbox One Wireless Adapter for Windows has been out for a couple of months.

Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Thrustmaster

Build Your Own Setup

Who would have thought that racing wheels would be so much fun?  I have mentioned this before, but until recently my experience with these products has been pretty limited.  I used a joystick for at least a decade after I started into PC racing, and then some five years ago I purchased a pretty basic FFB wheel with the Thrustmaster F430.  I was not entirely sure that a more expensive wheel would give me a better experience.  After having played DiRT Rally, a sim that leans heavily on wheels with a greater than 270 degrees of rotation, I knew that I was missing something.

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The packaging looks nice and conveys the information needed for the purchaser.

I purchased the Thrustmaster TX F458 wheel and my eyes were opened to the light.  The more expensive wheel with a 900 degree rotation made driving a much better experience for those titles that are more than arcade racers.  DiRT Rally became a totally different game and my understanding of the handling and physics was enhanced dramatically with the more advanced wheel.  This is not to mention how huge of a difference such a wheel is as compared to the products in the $50 to $100 range which offer no force feedback and rely on bungie cords to center the steering.

The TX wheel does have some limitations and a couple downsides.  The first is that it is limited to 900 degrees vs. other products that feature a full 1080 degrees.  It is compatible with PC and Xbox One.  It does not support the PS3 or PS4.  It comes with a two pedal stand as well as the Ferrari inspired wheel that is constructed entirely of plastic and a rubberized material on the wheel surface.  It is not a luxury item and I would not expect as such for $294 US.  It is also the least expensive “full” setup of the more professional line of dual pulley FFB servos.

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This is a diagram of the dual pulley system that makes the T300 as smooth as it is.

Over the past few years Thrustmaster has expanded their lineup to include higher end accessories for the wheel setups with three pedal stands (the T3PA and T3PA-Pro), a solid shifter (TH8A), as well as a variety of interchangeable wheels that fit the Thrustmaster Quick Release system (TX, T300, and T500).  These include leather wrapped wheels, a F1 inspired wheel, and finally a newly introduced Alcantara wheel that apparently feels fantastic.

It seems a waste to buy an entire set and then replace pieces with upgraded parts.  Obviously Thrustmaster figured this out and decided to start offering just the servo bases as standalone products and allow the user to pick and choose what type of pedals and wheels they want to use.  This also allows those who are more frugal to buy secondhand parts off eBay and other outlets.  Believe me, there are more than a few F458 wheels and 2 pedal sets out there for pretty good prices.  The T300 Servo Base is the second standalone offering from Thrustmaster with the Xbox One focused TX being the first.

Click to continue reading the Thrustmaster T300 Servo Base Review