Insert Thirty-Six Supapipe Jokes Here

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | February 17, 2014 - 08:36 PM |
Tagged: passive cooling, cooling

Somewhere in the world, someone is developing a passively-cooled desktop made up of copper water pipes. Thirty-six (36) of them pass through what looks like an aluminum block attached to the socket LGA 1155 heatsink mount. As the copper pipes heat up, it passes to the air within it. Convection forces this to exhaust upward through the copper chimney and replaces it with cool air from below.

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All Images, Credit: "Monster", CoolEnjoy.net Forums

From the 3D prototype, it looks like two passively-cooled discrete GPUs are intended to fit just above the elbow in the chimney. Even from the rendering, it is clear that quite a lot of thought and effort has gone into this project. I cannot tell how they intend to access PCIe slots from up there, be it a larger motherboard or an extension adapter, but options probably exist.

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Initial testing with a Core i5-4440 (stock frequencies) show around 65 deg C at full CPU load. This should be in line with a typical air-based cooler.

Either way, this is the most impressive "SuperPipe" cooler that I have seen.

Your move, MSI.

Source: CoolEnjoy

A monster of a mouse, the Gila from Genius

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2014 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: gila, genius, GX, gaming mouse

Gaming mice have been changing over the past few years, no longer is having adjustable DPI enough to satisfy gamers, they want to be able to modify the X and Y axis independently and want huge amounts of programmable buttons.  The Gila from Genius is capable of both, indeed it can have 72 different mappings for the 10 buttons thanks to the 32K of onboard storage.  The MSRP is $65, if that is within your budget head over to Hi Tech Reviews to see their opinion of the mouse.

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"The Gila by Genius, a part of their GX Gaming line of PC gaming peripherals, is a mouse designed for MMO and RTS gaming. Genius, using the brand GX Gaming, has released the Gila gaming mouse which has eight additional buttons, adjustable weight, and adjustable DPI, from 200 up through 8200. "

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VMWare makes vCloud Connector free

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2014 - 12:21 PM |
Tagged: cloud, vmware, vcloud connector

Getting familiar with virtualization, especially VMWare's take on the technology is a wise decision for anyone planning on starting or continuing a career in IT.  Even if you never end up hosting your own cluster of VMs, being aware of what they are capable of will help you deal with vendors and salespeople.  It is now even easier to expand your knowledge of how multiple virtual machine clusters can communicate as VMWare has made their tool free to use.  This does assume you have VSphere and ESX based clusters but as that software is also available at no cost, that is not a tough prerequisite to meet.  Check out the links from The Register to see about creating your own interlinked cloud, or perhaps hooking into a friends.

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"VMware has released version 2.6 of its vCloud Connector tool, and dropped its price to $0. At current exchange rates that's £0 and $AUD0, for UK and Australian readers."

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Source: The Register

Google Chrome To Compile Javascript Off Main Thread

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2014 - 03:10 AM |
Tagged: web browser, Google Chrome, chromium

Google has announced that the latest beta for Chrome, their web browser, will compile Javascript in a background thread. In the current release version, scripts are converted to instructions, executed, monitored for performance, and swapped with a more optimized set of instructions that accomplishes the same tasks. Converting script into optimized instructions takes time. Doing it on a background thread frees up that computation time for something else.

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This stutter was 628 milliseconds, or about 38 consecutive frames at 60 FPS.

Image Credit: Chromium Project Blog

Web browsers are designed under the assumption that a single thread of instructions will weave through every task, one by one, until everything is done. At some point, since the early 1990s, computers have been give multiple cores (and some of those designs can have multiple threads shoved through at once). The problem is now that, since "Task A" was designed to occur before "Task B", doing them separately... can break stuff good.

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A simplified browser execution flowchart. Execution follows the arrow.

Image Credit: Mozilla

Background Javascript optimization will be most effective for mobile SoCs. These processors tend to have a lot of fairly slow cores; the exact opposite of what a web browser wants. Also, video games have many tasks which occur every frame. Freeing up time on the main thread gives these apps more time to be more complex - and with less stutter (if optimizing blocks execution... which it is trying to optimize). This might also allow browsers more time to try more aggressive optimization strategies.

In case you are wondering, Mozilla started to move compilation to a background thread as of Firefox 21. Firefox 29 will move the entire just-in-time (JIT) compilation process off the main thread. This is currently in their "Aurora" release channel. To the rest of the world: it's an alpha.

This optimization is currently available in Google Chrome Beta (33).

So When Exactly Will Microsoft Stop Selling Windows 7?

Subject: General Tech | February 16, 2014 - 10:39 PM |
Tagged: Windows 7

You cannot purchase a retail copy of Windows 7 at this point, officially. The last day of retail availability was October 30th, 2013. System builders can still include the operating system in their PCs, however, until October 31st, 2014.

Windows 7 Professional is the exception.

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The Windows lifecycle website claims that OEMs can include Professional in PCs until a to-be-announced date. That date will be at least one year after whenever they decide to announce it. As of February 16th, the date is still listed as "Not yet established".

I should note that Volume Licensing customers have downgrade rights and installation media available for the two versions prior to whatever is current. In short, they have their own timeline.

Basically, we know that preinstalled Windows 7 Professional availability is on a countdown timer. We know that timer is at least one year long. We do not know how much longer than a year it will be. We also do not know when the announcement will be made and thus, when the timer will start ticking.

The Ars Technica article claims that this Windows 7 Professional OEM extension is for business users. That said, a fair amount of those users are on volume licensing. Another possibility is that Microsoft wants to bridge the gap between Windows 7 and the rumored "Windows 9" for enthusiasts. "Threshold", as it is codenamed, is supposed to address users who are primarily in the desktop interface. Professional would give them devices to purchase until then, without the general public purchasing a cheap Windows 7 machine and intending to use it for a decade (potentially beyond Windows 7's EOL in 2020).

Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, and Ultimate will no longer be preinstalled in PCs on October 31st, 2014. Windows 7 Professional will be available for some unannounced time afterward.

Source: Microsoft

Toshiba Goes up to 5TB with Enterprise 3.5-inch HDDs

Subject: General Tech, Storage | February 16, 2014 - 03:37 AM |
Tagged: toshiba, hdd, 5TB

We may see an internal hard drive with up to 5TB of storage from Toshiba. This is an enterprise SKU but, either way, it is a step beyond the tyranny of 3TB models dotted with 4TB options at a higher price per gigabyte. For example, Newegg.com lists a 3TB Caviar Green at $114 with the 4TB version going for $164.

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You might just be, Toshiba. You might just be.

The push to 3TB was fairly difficult, due mostly to software limitations in addressing more than about 2.2TB per drive. 3TB was uncommon for internal storage, although external USB drives avoided the issue. And then came the flood. Back in 2011, disastrous flooding exploded prices of hard drives. The world was cut to a fraction of its production. With standard 2TB drives over doubling in price, the industry took forever to return. Ryan, at the time (October 2011), noted that the days of 2TB for $89 would be gone for a while; that is the exact price which Newegg lists, today. Even worse, we basically did not see 4TB until almost 2013.

It is a good step, though. I hope this reaches other companies and the consumer space in reasonable time. While I am dreaming, just maybe it could push down prices on existing models? I am looking at you, 4TB disks.

Toshiba's MG04 series drives will be available in both SAS and SATA models with sizes up to 5TB. Samples will begin to ship this month.

Source: Toshiba

A Few Quarters Can Be All That Motorola Needs

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | February 15, 2014 - 11:47 PM |
Tagged: motorola, Lenovo, acquisition

According to Bloomberg, Lenovo's CEO has recently made a claim in a phone interview that, "In a few quarters we can turn around the business [Motorola]". Google is currently in the process of selling a subset of Motorola to Lenovo for $2.9 billion USD. When it was first announced, I assumed the deal was based on Motorola's brand power and their relationship with wireless carriers around the world.

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Now, two weeks later, Lenovo outlines their plan. The company expects to push Motorola into China, emerging markets, and even existing ones. Lenovo's CEO, Yang Yuanqing, believes that customers will positively identify with the brand, especially in China. They are planning to relaunch the brand in China and become a stronger third-place competitor (globally).

The company also disclosed that approximately 3,500 employees would carry over with this acquisition.

Source: Bloomberg

AMD Radeon R9 290X Hits $900 on Newegg. Thanks *coin

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 14, 2014 - 06:02 PM |
Tagged: supply shortage, shortage, R9 290X, podcast, litecoin, dogecoin, bitcoin

UPDATE (Feb 14th, 11pm ET): As a commenter has pointed out below, suddenly, as if by magic, Newegg has lowered prices on the currently in stock R9 290X cards by $200.  That means you can currently find them for $699 - only $150 over the expected MSRP.  Does that change anything about what we said above or in the video?  Not really.  It only lowers the severity.

I am curious to know if this was done by Newegg voluntarily due to pressure from news stories such as these, lack of sales at $899 or with some nudging from AMD...

If you have been keeping up with our podcasts and reviews, you will know that AMD cards are great compute devices for their MSRP. This is something that cryptocurrency applies a value to. Run a sufficient amount of encryption tasks and you are rewarded with newly created tokens (or some fee from validated transactions). Some people seem to think that GPUs are more valuable for that purpose than their MSRP, so retailers raise prices and people still buy them.

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Currently, the cheapest R9 290X is being sold for $900. This is a 64% increase over AMD's intended $549 MSRP. They are not even the ones receiving this money!

This shortage also affects other products such as Corsair's 1200W power supply. Thankfully, only certain components are necessary for mining (mostly GPUs and a lot of power) so at least we are not seeing the shortage spread to RAM, CPUs, APUs, and so forth. We noted a mining kit on Newegg which was powered by a Sempron processor. This line of cheap and low-performance CPUs has not been updated since 2009.

We have kept up with GPU shortages, historically. We did semi-regular availability checks during the GeForce GTX 680 and 690 launch windows. The former was out of stock for over two months after its launch. Those also sometimes strayed from their MSRP, slightly.

Be sure to check out the clip (above) for a nice, 15-minute discussion.

Sounds like it is time for a roundup; headphone style

Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2014 - 03:28 PM |
Tagged: audio, roundup, headphones

The Inquirer has put together a list of the 14 best headphones released so far this year, including both on ear and over the ear styles.  You won't find a single Beats model in this roundup but you will hear about a wide range of best in class headphones from a wide variety of uses from the cheapest pair that still sounds good to the best ones for travelling.  Just don't buy the ones with frogs on them.

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"Long gone are the days when people felt too embarrassed to wear a hefty pair of cans on their heads in the fear that they'd be accused to trying to look like an Ibiza DJ wannabe. The hype about on-ear headphones has helped convince the masses that, "Actually, these clumsy looking music accessories are pretty cool," or, "Why shouldn't I wear them with pride on the Tube after forking out hundreds for them?""

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Source: The Inquirer

Sorry China, no Kabini for you

Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2014 - 02:43 PM |
Tagged: amd, Kabini

As you may have heard mention of on the podcast last night, AMD has a habit of crowding the lower end of the CPU and GPU markets with a wde variety of choices of product separated by very little money.  While this can lead some entry level PC buyers to a bit of confusion at first, having a wide variety of choices is a good thing for the consumer.  DigiTimes reported on an interesting decision made by AMD which bucks that trend, at least in China.  It would seem that instead of releasing Kabini there, AMD is depending on the deep price cuts they've applied to previous generations of APU to compete against Intel as those price cuts would make Kabini much less attractive in that market.  As a bonus we also received confirmation that Beema is still on schedule for the second half of this year.

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"AMD is expected to ship 300,000 Kabini processors in the first quarter of 2014, 1.2 million units in the first half, and 3.8-3.9 million units in the whole year, the sources indicated."

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Source: DigiTimes