How about a little High Powered Computing?

Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2014 - 11:58 AM |
Tagged: HPC, ISS

The Register visited this years ISS and snapped some pictures of the hardware that was on display.  There were a lot of storage solutions being demonstrated like the Silent Brick Library from Fast LTA which offers an alternative to tape archives with the ability to can hold up to 60TB of uncompressed data with 12 bricks in a rack mounted device.  Samsung had a brief presentation on 3D V-NAND but did not reveal anything new about their new type of NAND.  AMD showed off their new W9100 FirePro and quite a few vendors, Intel included, are increasing their usage of watercooling in racks.  Click over to see the latest expensive HPC gear.

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"The International Supercomputer Show in Leipzig, Germany, was full of fascinating things at the high-end grunt front of the computing business. Here's what attracted this roving hack's eye."

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Source: The Register

Intel's Knights Landing (Xeon Phi, 2015) Details

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | July 2, 2014 - 12:55 AM |
Tagged: Intel, Xeon Phi, xeon, silvermont, 14nm

Anandtech has just published a large editorial detailing Intel's Knights Landing. Mostly, it is stuff that we already knew from previous announcements and leaks, such as one by VR-Zone from last November (which we reported on). Officially, few details were given back then, except that it would be available as either a PCIe-based add-in board or as a socketed, bootable, x86-compatible processor based on the Silvermont architecture. Its many cores, threads, and 512 bit registers are each pretty weak, compared to Haswell, for instance, but combine to about 3 TFLOPs of double precision performance.

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Not enough graphs. Could use another 256...

The best way to imagine it is running a PC with a modern, Silvermont-based Atom processor -- only with up to 288 processors listed in your Task Manager (72 actual cores with quad HyperThreading).

The main limitation of GPUs (and similar coprocessors), however, is memory bandwidth. GDDR5 is often the main bottleneck of compute performance and just about the first thing to be optimized. To compensate, Intel is packaging up-to 16GB of memory (stacked DRAM) on the chip, itself. This RAM is based on "Hybrid Memory Cube" (HMC), developed by Micron Technology, and supported by the Hybrid Memory Cube Consortium (HMCC). While the actual memory used in Knights Landing is derived from HMC, it uses a proprietary interface that is customized for Knights Landing. Its bandwidth is rated at around 500GB/s. For comparison, the NVIDIA GeForce Titan Black has 336.4GB/s of memory bandwidth.

Intel and Micron have worked together in the past. In 2006, the two companies formed "IM Flash" to produce the NAND flash for Intel and Crucial SSDs. Crucial is Micron's consumer-facing brand.

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So the vision for Knights Landing seems to be the bridge between CPU-like architectures and GPU-like ones. For compute tasks, GPUs edge out CPUs by crunching through bundles of similar tasks at the same time, across many (hundreds of, thousands of) computing units. The difference with (at least socketed) Xeon Phi processors is that, unlike most GPUs, Intel does not rely upon APIs, such as OpenCL, and drivers to translate a handful of functions into bundles of GPU-specific machine language. Instead, especially if the Xeon Phi is your system's main processor, it will run standard, x86-based software. The software will just run slowly, unless it is capable of vectorizing itself and splitting across multiple threads. Obviously, OpenCL (and other APIs) would make this parallelization easy, by their host/kernel design, but it is apparently not required.

It is a cool way that Intel arrives at the same goal, based on their background. Especially when you mix-and-match Xeons and Xeon Phis on the same computer, it is a push toward heterogeneous computing -- with a lot of specialized threads backing up a handful of strong ones. I just wonder if providing a more-direct method of programming will really help developers finally adopt massively parallel coding practices.

I mean, without even considering GPU compute, how efficient is most software at splitting into even two threads? Four threads? Eight threads? Can this help drive heterogeneous development? Or will this product simply try to appeal to those who are already considering it?

Source: Intel

Corsair's K70 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard offers a lot of feedback

Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2014 - 11:57 AM |
Tagged: input, Vengeance K70, K70 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, corsair, Corsair Vengeance

The Corsair Vengeance K70 not only has Cherry Red MX switches to give a smooth keypress up until the key has traversed fully but you can also set it up to flash that keys LED when the key has depressed fully.  The Tech Report tested the original Red version, Brown and Blue are now available for those who prefer a different feeling from tickling their keyboard.  The RGB model which is able to control the LED colour on each key separately will be available very soon if that feature appeals to you.  This may not be the newest model of keyboard but the overall styling, functionality, NKRO and adjustable polling rate help it remain at the top of it's niche market.

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"Corsair's Vengeance K70 keyboard is a masterful combination of Cherry MX mechanical switches, programmable backlighting, and distinctive industrial design. We get all touchy feely with one of the finest mechanical keyboards around."

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Don't trust your life to smartwatches quite yet

Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2014 - 11:17 AM |
Tagged: wearables

On a charity walk that went from one end of the Outer Hebrides to the other a variety of fitness trackers could not decide on  just how far a distance was travelled.  Indeed it quickly became quite obvious that there were discrepancies as at the two hour point in the walk the distance ranged from 5.5 to 9 miles.  There were spots with no cell signal during the trek but more often than not there was a decent signal but yet the errors were not properly corrected.  The Inquirer's experience illustrates that at this time you should not consider your smartwatch part of your emergency gear to be used with dead reckoning and a compass as you could be literally mislead.  For now these devices are fitness trackers for the city and even then you might want to double check those distances if you are on a mission to cover a certain amount of ground.

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"An example of some of the wearables present on the trek were the Galaxy Gear Fit, Fitbit Flex, Nike Fuelband, Jawbone Up24, Galaxy Gear 2 Neo and the Pebble watch."

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Source: The Inquirer
Manufacturer: EVGA

Introduction, Hardware, and Subjective Feel

This review comes before the end of the pre-order period. The reason why I targeted that deadline is because the pre-order perks are quite significant. First, either version of the mouse is listed for about $50 off of its MSRP (which is half price for the plastic version). EVGA also throws in a mouse pad for registering your purchase. The plastic mouse is $49.99 during its pre-order period ($99.99 MSRP) and its carbon fiber alternative is $79.99 ($129.99 MSRP). EVGA has supplied us with the plastic version for review.

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Being left-handed really puts a damper on my choice of gaming mice. If the peripheral is designed to contain thumb buttons, it needs to either be symmetric (because a right hand's thumb buttons would be controlled by my pinky or ring finger) or be an ergonomic, curved mouse which comes in a special version for lefties that is mirrored horizontally (which is an obvious risk, especially when the market of left-handed gamers is further split by those who learned to force themselves to use right-handed mice).

Please read on to see my thoughts on the EVGA Torq X10

Hey Forum Members! Any interest in a free XFX R9 280 thanks to AMD?

Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2014 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: amd, giveaway, xfx, r9 280, fragging frogs

That's right!  If you have posted to the PC Perspective Forums at least 5 times before June 25, 2014 you are eligible to enter the raffle to win an XFX R9 280!  Lenny and the Fragging Frogs have been given a gift from Warsam71 and AMD which will be given away to a lucky Forum member as a show of appreciation for the great community you have all helped build!  Each member can only get one entry (no bribes!) and in order for your entry to count you have to post a picture of your current rig to this thread right here.

The draw will be held July 11th so get snapping and post to the thread for your chance to win!

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"In appreciation of our existing forum members we are giving away a FREE XFX R9 280 Radeon Graphics Card !! (courtesy of Warsam71 and our friends at AMD)."

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Podcast #306 - Budget PC Shootout, the Coolermaster Elite 110, AMD GameWorks competitor

Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2014 - 11:36 AM |
Tagged: xeon, video, seiki, podcast, nvidia, msi, Intel, HDMI 2.0, gt70 2pe, gt70, gameworks, FX-9590, displayport 1.3, coolermaster, amd, 4k

PC Perspective Podcast #306 - 06/26/2014

Join us this week as we discuss our Budget PC Shootout, the Coolermaster Elite 110, an AMD GameWorks competitor 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
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

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

Program length: 1:19:12

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

 

Watch_Dogs; who watches the optimized code?

Subject: General Tech | June 25, 2014 - 01:38 PM |
Tagged: gaming, watch_dogs, ubisoft, excuses

Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN have posted UbiSoft's reasoning behind the disabled graphics options on Watch_Dogs in this article.  The explanation they chose is a little bit disingenuous as performance issues are likely not the main reason the so called "E3 enhancements" were removed, though their point about Bokeh sometimes creating issues in seeing the environment around is well founded.  After all how can you have a long distance gun battle against distant blurry figures?  The more likely reasoning revolves around a standard practice for AAA games when showing off a demo at a show like E3, they polished the engine specifically for that specific in game demo.  By cherry picking one or more scenes and spending extra programming time to make it as pretty as possible they raise buzz about their unreleased game and hope to accrue extra pre-orders.  Unfortunately this rather dishonest practice has become a tradition for shows like E3, but on the plus side gives modders extra things to play with!

If you would rather watch frogs; or even better join them, make sure to check up on what they are doing tonight and Friday.

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"Good thing: Watch_Dogs on PC can look nearly as good as the (in)famous 2012 E3 demo that started at all, and it’s not even that hard to do thanks to some hidden graphics files that modders dug up. Bad thing: they were hidden. That certainly doesn’t look good. Ubisoft has an explanation, though."

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What could go wrong? Rooting Google's Nest

Subject: General Tech | June 25, 2014 - 10:07 AM |
Tagged: google, nest

If you have been holding off on purchasing Google's Nest thermostat because you didn't like the app that controls it or just were not overly interested in a thermostat that trys to learn your schedule; would you be more interested if you could root it?  All it takes is physical access to the thermostat and a minute with it plugged into a USB port on a computer.  Not only will this give you complete control over the hardware inside, you can also install an SSH server with a reverse SSH connection to bypass firewalls.  It will be interesting to see how these rooted Nest's can interact with other pieces of hardware released by Google with the "Works with Nest" branding.  Check out how to do this for yourself at Hack a Day.

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"A few months ago, Google bought a $3.2 billion dollar thermostat in the hopes it would pave the way for smart devices in every home. The Nest thermostat itself is actually pretty cool – it’s running Linux with a reasonably capable CPU, and adds WiFi to the mix for some potentially cool applications. It can also be rooted in under a minute."

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Source: Hack a Day

Would you trade your Macbook for a Surface 3 for $650?

Subject: General Tech | June 24, 2014 - 11:38 AM |
Tagged: Surface Pro 3, microsoft, MacBook Air

In it's latest attempt to not look desperate when offering the latest Surface for sale Microsoft will offer up to $650 off a Surface 3 if you trade in your Macbook Air.  The top end model of Surface 3 will have a Intel Core i7 processor and 512GB internal storage and cost you around $1950.  There are less expensive models available though it is possible that will reduce the amount of money you receive for the Macbook Air that you trade in.  Also according to The Inquirer this is not an online deal, you must be able to show up at a Microsoft Store in person to claim the trade in.   Will this be enough to help drive sales of Microsoft's hardware or will this incarnation of the Surface or shall it languish on store shelves like the previous generations?

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"Yes, you read that right. Microsoft has launched a trade-in programme at its US stores, where it offers customers up to $650 for their Macbook Air, which can be put towards a Surface Pro 3."

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Source: The Inquirer