Speaking of Passive Cooling: Tom's Hardware's GTX 750 Ti

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 2, 2014 - 05:20 PM |
Tagged: passive cooling, maxwell, gtx 750 ti

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti is fast but also power efficient, enough-so that Ryan found it a worthwhile upgrade for cheap desktops with cheap power supplies that were never intended for discrete graphics. Of course, this recommendation is about making the best of what you got; better options probably exist if you are building a PC (or getting one built by a friend or a computer store).

toms-passive-geforce-gtx-750-ti-cooling,O-U-423390-22.jpg

Image Credit: Tom's Hardware

Tom's Hardware went another route: make it fanless.

After wrecking a passively-cooled Radeon HD 7750, which is probably a crime in Texas, they clamped it on to the Maxwell-based GTX 750 Ti. While the cooler was designed for good airflow, they decided to leave it in a completely-enclosed case without fans. Under load, the card reached 80 C within about twenty minutes. The driver backed off performance slightly, 1-3% depending on your frame of reference, but was able to maintain that target temperature.

Now, if only it accepted SLi, this person might be happy.

CompuLab fit-PC4 Includes AMD SoC/APU... But Not Fans

Subject: General Tech, Systems | March 2, 2014 - 02:29 AM |
Tagged: Tamesh, Kabini, fit-PC4, compulab, amd

Passively cooled PCs are an interesting niche, often associated with the need for silence. Be it audio recording or home theater appliances, some situations are just not well suited to having a whirring fan.

fit-pc4-poster-900px.jpg

Recently announced is the fit-PC4 is a fanless system, fourth in its lineage. This time the system is using AMD for its CPU and GPU. Two models are available, separated into "Pro" and "Value". Its specifications are broken down into the table below.

  fit-PC4 Pro fit-PC4 Value
Processor AMD GX-420CA (25W TDP, Kabini) AMD A4-1250 APU (8W TDP, Temash)
-    CPU Quad-core (Jaguar-based) @ 2.0 GHz Dual-core (Jaguar-based) @ 1.0 GHz
-    GPU Radeon HD 8400E Radeon HD 8210
RAM Up to 16GB (2 DIMM)
Storage 2.5" HDD/SSD + mSATA + microSD
I/O
2x HDMI 1.4a (1920x1200 max) with CEC support
S/PDIF, line-out, mic-in (I assume 3.5mm)
2x Gigabit Ethernet
mini-PCIe slot for cellular modem
2x USB 3.0 and 6x USB 2.0
WiFi 802.11ac 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0 3.0 + HS
Dimensions 16cm x 19cm x 3.7cm 16cm x 16cm x 2.5cm
Price $380 $299

Interestingly, the company considers these devices "ruggedized" as well as fanless. As such, they have a 5-year warranty. It seems to be quite the feature-packed device with two HDMI 1.4 outlets, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and an available slot for a cellular modem. The Pro even has 802.11ac WiFi. I am not entirely sure the intended purpose of this device, but the company claims that the previous generation product was often purchased by video surveillance and digital signage customers. Interestingly, Windows 7 and Linux are the two choices for operating systems.

The fit-PC4 is available now in either a $299 (Value-Barebone) or $380 (Pro-Barebone) model.

Source: CompuLab

Corsair Blogs About... Oh Come On!

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | March 1, 2014 - 09:51 PM |
Tagged: corsair, mining

When mining some form of cryptographic coin, very few components in the system are utilized. A GPU is basically a self-contained massively parallel cruncher with its own memory and logic. The host system just needs to batch the tasks which leads to PCs with dirt-cheap CPUs, a very modest amount of RAM, and quite literally a half-dozen high-end graphics cards.

If you thought that gaming machines skew a little too much towards GPUs, you should see a mining rig with five R9 290X cards fed by a Sempron.

corsair-extender.jpg

As you can guess, since many GPUs are double-slot, it might be difficult to fit seven of them in a seven-slot motherboard with a limited number PCIe lanes. To get around this limitation, miners attach their graphics cards to extension cables. Thankfully (for them), mining does not pass a lot of data across the bus to the host system. Even a single PCIe fails to be a bottleneck, apparently.

Anyway, the Corsair blog created an open-air rack which hangs six graphics cards (five HD 7970s and a R9 290X) above a motherboard housing an Intel Celeron G1830. For air, a quartet of Corsair fans suck air upwards and around the graphics cards. For power, of course they use the Corsair AX1500i because why not mine with an arc welding torch. It apparently had more power capacity than the breaker they originally hooked it up to. Whoops.

corsair-side-fans.jpg

While ridiculous, I do hope to see systems with multiple (even mismatched) graphics processors as we move toward batches of general mathematics. PhysX was not entirely successful in teaching users that GPUs do not need to be in SLi or Crossfire configurations to load balance. It is just finding an appropriate way to split tasks without requiring a lot of bottlenecks in setting it up.

I might not mine coins, but I could see some benefit to having 35 TeraFLOPs across seven compute devices. I could also see Corsair wanting to sell me a power supply for said PC.

Source: Corsair

Raspberry Pi Foundation: $10,000 Reward for Quake III

Subject: General Tech, Systems | March 1, 2014 - 03:51 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a tiny and cheap (as in a starting price of ~$28) computer that was originally intended for educational purposes. It is built around a Broadcom BCM2835 SoC which itself is based on the ARM architecture. Its VideoCore IV 3D graphics processor relies upon a closed-source driver because, until yesterday, Broadcom had not provided documentation or code. Technically, the code they released is for a different SoC but both Broadcomm and the Raspberry Pi Foundation believe the tools are there to port it over.

And the foundation wants to drum up interest by offering a $10,000 bounty for Quake III running acceptably on the Pi with the ported open source drivers.

rasppie.jpg

If interested, you can look at Broadcom for the documentation and 3-clause BSD-licensed source code. You can also check out the Raspberry Pi Foundation for a blog post which mentions the competition (as well as their 2-year anniversary). GPU drivers are a good thing to be open-sourced. As I have been saying, the further "upstream" a piece of code is, the more it trickles down as a dependency for other software. The vocabulary that software needs to communicate with a hardware platform is quite high up there. Leaving those tools to society is a good thing for society.

Granted, it will probably not have a meaningful impact in this case... but there is a chance.

Amazon May Integrate Music Streaming Into Prime Subscription Service

Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2014 - 02:59 AM |
Tagged: prime instant video, prime, music streaming, amazon

Amazon has been exploring changes to its Prime subscription service, and while drone air delivery may be years out, a music streaming service is a realistic possibility. The company already offers video streaming via its Prime service in the form of a limited selection of its total Instant Video library that can be streamed for free with a yearly Prime subscription. on the music side of things specifically, Amazon already has a massive downloadable paid-for MP3 library with a browser-based (and a new PC application) digital locker and media player. 

Amazon Cloud Player.jpg

Amazon Cloud Player, a browser-based media player for purchased MP3 files.

In short, all of the pieces for a music streaming service are in place. Amazon has the e-commerce and programing experience, distribution medium, and gobs of cloud storage and processing power. Amazon simply needs the go-ahead from the labels in the form of licensing agreements which appear to be in progress according to Recode.

Amazon Prime Streaming.jpg

An Amazon-run music streaming service would face stiff competition from existing competitors such as Spotify, but if any company can come in and make it work at scale in a competitive market it is Amazon. Especially if Amazon is able to replicate music streaming and offline caching using mobile apps like Spotify offers without charging extra for the privilege. Music streaming seems to be a natural addition to its Prime Instant offering, and may just be the spoonful of sugar that makes a possible Prime subscription price increase easier to swallow.

Should Amazon and the music labels nail down a pricing agreement, I am interested to see what Amazon is able to offer in terms of user experience, applications, and library size.

Source: The Verge

Microsoft's Windows Store Growing Rapidly, Now At 4 Million Downloads Per Day

Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2014 - 02:16 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, Windows Store, appstore

Microsoft introduced its own application download repository with Windows 8 along with an SDK for developers to put together touch friendly applications around the formerly-Metro-No-Longer-Modern-Whatever-It-Is-Called-This-Month user interface. Dubbed the Windows Store, it would be the source of applications for Windows RT, Windows Phone, and Windows x86/64 alike.

Since the release of Windows 8 Consumer Preview in February 2012, users have been able to use the Windows Store application to search for and download both free and paid-for apps. The Windows Store is a curated marketplace with applications that must be certified for compatibility by Microsoft who takes a percentage of sale price (30% or less depending on number of downloads).

Microsoft Windows Store.png

At the end of last year, Microsoft had approximately 142,000 apps listed in the Store. Further, the company is seeing as many as 4 million application downloads per day from the Store. The 4 million downloads per day number was uncovered by Alex Wilhelm at TechCrunch, and is a 134.6% increase over the downloads/day number from October 2013. The breakdown of application type is pre-dominately free with paid applications acconting for less than half of the daily downloads (which makes sense).

At the current download rate, Microsoft could push as many as 1.46 billion app downloads a year. All things considered, the Windows Store is still dwarfed in downloads, number of apps, and popularity by the iOS, Google, and Mac app stores, but it is showing a surprising amount of growth lately. Hopefully this rise in popularity will beget more popularity from the cycle of developers getting interested in the Store and users getting new applications. (Ideally, as the Windows Store userbase grows, developers will have increased incentive to program new, or port existing, apps to Metro which should further bring in new users and so on).

Have you used the Windows Store to find new Start Screen apps?

Source: TechCrunch

Steam Family Sharing Is Now Available For All Users

Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2014 - 06:36 PM |
Tagged: steam, valve

Today, Valve announced that its Steam Family Sharing program is available for all users. This initiative allows Steam accounts to authorize devices to access their library on other accounts. The intention is for each family member to have their own account while being able to borrow games from one another. This can also extend to "their guests". It does not include titles which use third-party DRM, accounts, or subscriptions - Valve obviously does not have direct control over them.

steam-family.png

There are other rules and restrictions, of course, but the account and device limits are quite high: 5 accounts across 10 devices. This does not get around region locks and a game which is VAC-banned cannot be shared. Ultimately, be careful sharing your games with your kids if they are jerks.

To setup Family Library Sharing in the Steam Client, go to View > Settings > Family and start to authorize and manage other computers. Just do not allow Cheating Charlie. For more information, check out Valve's promotional site and FAQ.

Source: Valve

Supercharge your Chromebook

Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2014 - 02:39 PM |
Tagged: linux, Chromebook

If you have purchased the Acer C720 Chromebook because it was relatively quick and very inexpensive you have probably been happy with it but maybe you wish it could do more.  To do so you could follow these instructions to install either Ubuntu or Bohdi Linux.  The process is a little more complicated than installing the OS from a CD but they have provided step by step instructions on how to accomplish this process.  Bring new life to your Chromebook with just a bit of work.

hero.png

"Chromebooks are amazing little machines. They are a marvel of speed and simplicity. The Acer C720 Chromebook is certainly near the top of the list of Chromebooks to be purchased (next to the Chromebook Pixel, of course). It's speedy and it's inexpensive. But for some, the simplistic nature of the devices doesn't offer enough power or flexibility. For those who need more from this Acer platform, I have the answer – in fact, I have two answers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Linux.com

Antec Launches HCP-1300 Platinum Power Supply For Extreme Crypto Mining Rigs

Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2014 - 12:07 AM |
Tagged: power supply, HCP-1300, antec, 80 Plus Platinum

Antec has released a new high capacity HCP-1300 Platinum power supply fit for the highest-end workstations and cryptocurrency mining rigs. The 80 PLUS Platinum rated PSU is up to 94% efficient meaning less wasted electricity and more profit for miners running power hungry GPU farms. The HCP-1300 Platinum, as the name implies can deliver up to 1300W to the system, including 10 PCI-E power connectors.

Antec HCP Platinum 1300W Power Supply.jpg

The new PSU uses a fully modular design with a look towards the future. Antec is using 16-pin cable connectors for future modular cables as well as a 20+8 pin motherboard connector to accommodate future ATX motherboards that might require an additional four power pins over today's 20+4 pin boards. A 135mm fan keeps the internal components cool at high loads. Other enthusiast-friendly features include CircuitShield technology and an OC Link connector. The OC Link allows adventurous enthusiasts and miners to connect two HCP-1300 Platinum power supplies together and have them work in tandem to power a single ultra high end system (hopefully you miners attempting this are plugging the PSUs into dedicated AC circuits!).

This enthusiast PSU comes at a premium, however. In fact, the Antec HCP-1300 Platinum will set you back $312 for a single unit. On the bright side, it does come with a generous seven year warranty.

Will this beastly power supply be at the heart of your next Dream System?

Source: eTeknix

Podcast #289 - Origin PC EOS-17 SLX Gaming Laptop, Mining on a 750Ti, News from MWC and more!

Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2014 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: x240, video, tegra, podcast, origin, nvidia, MWC, litecoin, Lenovo, Intel, icera, eos 17 slx, dogecoin, bitcoin, atom, amd, 750ti

PC Perspective Podcast #289 - 02/27/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the Origin PC EOS-17 SLX Gaming Laptop, Mining on a 750Ti, News from MWC 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: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

 
This podcast is brought to you by Coolermaster, and the CM Storm Pulse-R Gaming Headset!
 
Program length: 1:17:30
  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:21:48 This podcast is brought to you by Coolermaster, and the CM Storm Pulse-R Gaming Headset
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
  5. Closing/outro

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!