Centaur Technology Extends Their Website Countdown...

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | September 9, 2014 - 08:38 PM |
Tagged: x86, VIA, centaur technologies

In early July, we reported on VIA's Centaur Technology division getting a new website. At the time, we anticipated that it would coincide with an announcement about Isaiah II, their rumored to be upcoming x86-based SoC (maybe even compatible with ARM, too).

Android-x86.png

Fifty-one days later, on August 31st, 2014, we came back at quarter-to-four EDT and let the website run its course, refreshing occasionally. 4 PM hit and... the counter stayed at 0 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes, and 0 seconds. Okay, I said. For about an hour, I refreshed occasionally because things could have happened on Labour Day weekend. I, then, came back late in the evening, and the day after. I next thought about it the week after, at which point the website was updated... with a timer that expires on September 30th, 2014.

Well... crap.

So by the end of the month, we may find out what Centaur is trying to announce. I am a little less confident in the breadth of the announcement, given that the company waited for the timer to lapse before correcting their mistake. I would expect that if their big announcement, like a new SoC, were to hold up the launch, the company would have known ahead of time. At the moment, it sounds like a typical website redesign which got delayed.

I will hopefully be pleasantly surprised come the end of the month.

One More Thing from Apple... the Apple Watch

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 9, 2014 - 05:51 PM |
Tagged: apple, smartwatch, ios

After Apple announced the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and Apple Pay, they unveiled their smart watch project: the Apple Watch. Technically, they actually announced three families, the Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Sport, and the Apple Watch Edition, with a combined total of 34 different models. They will launch early next year with a base price of $349. About half of the 34 models are a few millimeters smaller, 38mm vs 42mm, although both are unisex.

apple-watch-regular.jpg

Apple Watch

The main feature is its "Digital Crown". It is basically a mouse wheel which can be clicked as a Home button. This wheel can be adjusted to zoom in, adjust meters, and so forth (like a mouse wheel). Below the "Crown" is a Contacts button which, well, brings up your contacts. It has a touchscreen with force sensors, to differentiate between touch and press. The screen also provides haptic feedback for tactile sensations, which actually interests me (in terms of what developers learning what it can do if it is accessible).

apple-watch-sport.jpg

Apple Watch Sport

Each model charges with a magnetic attachment on the back, although battery life is not described. I would be surprised if it was anything less than a full, woken day, but it is possible that it will not stay awake as long as you are. We just do not know at this point. This is probably the best reason to wait for a review before purchasing, if you have any level of interest. That could easily be a deal breaker.

apple-watch-edition.jpg

Apple Watch Edition

The watches are all basically the same from a technological standpoint. Every model, besides the Apple Watch Sport, has a Sapphire-protected screen (the Sport uses "Ion-X glass" which we currently know nothing about). The bands are replaceable via a button latch on the back, allowing the strap to slide off of the face. The "Watch Edition" (that name...) is created from 18-karat gold. Specifically, "Each has a watch case crafted from 18-karat gold that our metallurgists have developed to be up to twice as hard as standard gold". Yes Apple, because gold is a soft metal... but I digress.

The Apple Watch will arrive in early 2015 and will start at $349. It is currently not certified by the FCC, although I am sure that the major tech blogs will announce when that happens. It requires iPhone 5 (or later).

Source: Apple

It's a roundup in your ear

Subject: General Tech | September 9, 2014 - 03:07 PM |
Tagged: audio, roundup, earbuds

For those who prefer to leave their circumaural headsets at home and travel with earbuds, sooner or later they sustain enough damage that you need to shop for a new pair.  The least expensive model that is easily available is a decent choice but for those with specific requirements there is a round up over at The Inquirer of what they feel the best earbuds currently on the market are.  From those who like to listen to audio while swimming to those who want their earbuds to look fancy or even glow in time with the music, this round up has them all.

sony-swimming-walkman-headphones-nwz-w273-540x334.JPG

"RATHER ANNOYINGLY, we find ourselves in the market for some new earphones more often than we'd probably care to admit, whether it's because we left our last pair on the bus, stood on them, put them in the wash by mistake, or because we've managed to dodge all of the above but we've had them for years, and the audio quality has declined over time, something that shouldn't really happen, but it does."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: The Inquirer

Ignore Intel and Apple; check out what's new at HP

Subject: General Tech | September 9, 2014 - 02:16 PM |
Tagged: hp, memristor, the machine

Over at The Register is a look at a completely different conference involving HP's CTO and his companies upcoming projects.  The most interesting by far is the news about memristors, the new type of memory which uses changes in local resistance to store data at a much faster pace than current technology, which has become viable as of this year and is expected to hit the market by 2016 with the technology hitting its stride by 2018.  He also sees the current software-defined fad as being exactly that, a fad, and that advances in the performance and power usage of technology will quickly eclipse it as a viable solution, also pointing out the incredibly low adoption rate amongst enterprise.  Check out the full list of his announcements here.

martinfinkmemristorhp.jpg

"Martin Fink, the company's chief technology officer, presented HP's views at an investor conference last week and analyst haus Stifel Nicolaus' Aaron Rakers noted down what he said."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

ASUS ZenBook UX305 Will Be Based on Core M (Broadwell)

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 9, 2014 - 01:49 AM |
Tagged: Intel, asus, core m, broadwell-y, Broadwell, 14nm, ultrabook

This will probably be the first of many notebooks announced that are based on Core M. These processors, which would otherwise be called Broadwell-Y, are the "flagship" CPUs to be created on Intel's 14nm, tri-gate fabrication process. The ASUS ZenBook UX305 is a 13-inch clamshell notebook with one of three displays: 1920x1200 IPS, 1920x1200 multi-touch IPS, or 3200x1800 multi-touch IPS. That is a lot of pixels to pack into such a small display.

asus-zenbook-ux305-twinhero.jpg

While the specific processor(s) are not listed, it will use Intel HD Graphics 5300 for its GPU. This is new with Broadwell, albeit their lowest tier. Then again, last generation's 5000 and 5100 were up in the 700-800 GFLOP range, which is fairly high (around medium quality settings for Battlefield 4 at 720p). Discrete graphics will not be an option. It will come with a choice between 4GB and 8GB of RAM. Customers can also choose between a 128GB SSD, or a 256GB SSD. It has a 45Wh battery.

Numerous connectivity options are available: 802.11 a, g, n, or ac; Bluetooth 4.0; three USB 3.0 ports; Micro HDMI (out); a 3.5mm headphone/mic combo jack; and a microSD card slot. It has a single, front-facing, 720p webcam.

In short, it is an Ultrabook. Pricing and availability are currently unannounced.

Source: ASUS

NVIDIA GM204 info is leaking

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 8, 2014 - 05:03 PM |
Tagged: leak, nvidia, GM204, GTX 980, GTX 980M, GTX 970, GTX 970M

Please keep in mind that this information has been assembled via research done by WCCF Tech and Videocardz off of 3DMark entries of unreleased GPUs; we won't get the official numbers until the middle of this month.  That said, rumours and guesswork about new hardware are a favourite past time of our readers so here is the information we've seen so far about the upcoming GM204 chip from NVIDIA.  On the desktop side is the GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970 which should both have 4GB of GDDR5 on a 256-bit bus with GPU clock speeds ranging from 1127 to 1190 MHz.  The performance that was shown on 3DMark has the GTX 980 beating the 780 Ti and R9 290X and the GTX 970 performing similarly to the plain GTX 780 and falling behind the 290X.  SLI scaling looks rather attractive with a pair of GTX 980 coming within a hair of the performance of the R9 295X2.

NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-980-and-GeForce-GTX-970-3DMark-Firestrike-Performance-635x599.png

On the mobile side things look bleak for AMD, the GTX 980M and GTX 970M surpass the current GTX 880M which in turn benchmarks far better than AMD's M290X chip.  Again the scaling in SLI systems will be impressive assuming that the leaks that you can see indepth here are accurate.  It won't be too much longer before we know one way or the other so you might want to keep your finger off of the Buy Button for a short while.

Source: WCCF Tech

MSI's overclocked R9 285 GAMING OC

Subject: General Tech | September 8, 2014 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: video, tonga, radeon, r9 285, gcn. gcn 1.1, freesync, factory overclocked, amd, 285

MSI's Radeon R9 285 GAMING OC does not yet show up for sale but with it's factory overclock may arrive at a slightly higher price than the MSRP of $250.  The RAM remains at the default 5.5 GHz but the GPU has been bumped up 55MHz to 973MHz out of the box and could likely be pushed higher as MSI has included the usual suspects on this card, Twin Frozr IV Advanced and Military Class 4 components.  In [H]ard|OCP's testing the card was well matched by the GTX 760, the HD 285 won more than it lost, but not always and not by much.  Compared to the HD 280 not only did the new Tonga card usually provide better performance but the additional feature the GPU supports, of which FreeSync is only one, make the HD 285 the clear winner in that contest.  Check their full review for benchmarks.

Ryan reviewed Sapphire's model here.

14093000799PAGjpZpS2_3_3_l.jpg

"AMD has launched the $249 AMD Radeon R9 285 video card. We dive into this somewhat confusing GPU. We compare it to the GeForce GTX 760 as well as an AMD Radeon R9 280. We'll discuss GCN differences in this new video card that may give it the edge with some feedback from AMD."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Intel's security on the silicon is starting to pay dividends

Subject: General Tech | September 8, 2014 - 12:52 PM |
Tagged: IBM, Intel, txt, mcafee

Intel have been diligently working on their Trusted Execution Technology to provide security on the actual silicon and with their purchaser of McAfee this technology has quickly improved over the past year.  IBM subsidiary Softlayer, who offer cloud storage, have announced that the will be implementing TXT along with the Intel Trusted Platform module to offer enhanced security on their servers.  This should make them attractive to government and law enforcement agencies which utilize clouds storage as well as businesses that need to keep their customers data secure.  They are not the first to consider TXT but are among the largest of vendors who are currently deploying servers that take advantage of the new security.  Check out more at The Register.

figure-2-component.png

"BIG BLUE IBM has announced that its Softlayer subsidiary will be the first cloud service to offer bare metal servers powered by Intel technology that provides monitoring and security down to the microchip level."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Intel Networking: XL710 Fortville 40 Gigabit Ethernet and VXLAN Acceleration

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Processors | September 8, 2014 - 12:29 PM |
Tagged: xeon e5-2600 v3, xeon e5, Intel

So, to coincide with their E5-2600 v3 launch, Intel is discussing virtualized LANs and new, high-speed PCIe-based, networking adapters. Xeons are typically used in servers and their networking add-in boards will often shame what you see on a consumer machine. One of these boards supports up to two 40GbE connections, configurable to four 10GbE, for all the bandwidth.

intel-40gb-nic-01.png

The Intel XL710 is their new network controller, which I am told is being manufactured at 28nm. It is supposedly more power efficient, as well. In their example, a previous dual 10-gigabit controller will consume 5.2W of power while a single 40-gigabit will consume 3.3W. In terms of a network adapter, that is a significant reduction, which is very important in a data center due to the number of machines and the required air conditioning.

As for the virtualized networking part of the announcement, Intel is heavily promoting Software-defined networking (SDN). Intel mentioned two techniques to help increase usable bandwidth and decrease CPU utilization, which is important at 40 gigabits.

intel-40gb-nic-3.jpg

Receive Side Scaling disabled

The first is "generic segmentation offload" for VXLAN (VXLAN GSO) that allows the host of any given connection to chunk data more efficiently to send out over a virtual network.

intel-40gb-nic-2.jpg

Generic Segmentation Offload disabled

The second is TCP L4 Receive Side Scaling (RSS), which splits traffic between multiple receive queues (and can be managed by multiple CPU threads). I am not a network admin and I will not claim to know how existing platforms manage traffic at this level. Still, Intel seems to claim that this NIC and CPU platform will result in higher effective bandwidth and better multi-core CPU utilization (that I expect will lead to lower power consumption).

intel-40gb-nic-4.jpg

Both enabled

If it works as advertised, it could be a win for customers who buy into the Intel ecosystem.

Source: Intel

Toshiba Encore Mini Is Windows 8.1 for $119.99

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 6, 2014 - 06:03 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, tablet, cheap tablet, cheap computer, x86, Windows 8.1

While you should only get a cheap PC if you have a need for one, Toshiba is selling a $120 tablet with Windows 8.1 and a quadcore, Intel Atom processor. It also includes a single year of Office 365 Personal, which contains Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access, an 1TB of OneDrive storage (normally $69 or twelve installments of $7/mo).

toshiba-encore-mini.jpg

While RAM has not been announced, it contains 16GB of storage, expandable with a microSDXC card of up to 128 GB. It is based on a 7-inch, 1024x600 multi-touch display. Of course, 16GB of internal storage is about as low as you can have Windows 8.1 be installed within. In fact, it is the minimum requirements for 32-bit (64-bit requires 20 GB). You will not be fitting too many applications on your main drive.

The tablet also has a front-facing webcam and a back-facing 2 megapixel camera for photos and video.

The Toshiba Encore Mini is available now for an MSRP of $119.99.

Source: Toshiba