The Priv has been flushed

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2016 - 01:30 PM |
Tagged: Android, blackberry, Priv

Blackberry has abandoned the Priv, calling it somewhat of an expensive mistake not only because of the investment costs but also because it was priced well above what consumers are willing to pay for a phone.  They will be developing a new Android device which is intended to sell at $400, in line with the competitions prices.  This also seems to imply that the BB10 OS will no longer be actively developed at Blackberry although they have not stated that for the record.  They also haven't disclosed how many Priv's were sold but considering what they told The Register and others it is likely to be well below what they had hoped.  They aren't dead yet but they are certainly low on health.

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"BlackBerry's CEO has used an interview with United Arab Emirates outlet The National to announce plans to move the troubled mobe-maker's Android efforts downscale."

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Source: The Register

Oh, we like this; Edge will now pause some Flash content

Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2016 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: flash, microsoft, edge, windows 10

The new insider build of Windows 10 includes a new feature on Edge, similar to the one already found on Chrome, it will pause Flash assets on webpages which are not the main content.  This should mean far less annoying advertisements blaring from your speakers if you happen to visit an uncouth website which features that type of advertisement.  It is also a step in the right direction for security, considering Adobe has posted yet another critical update for a gaping security hole in Flash.  You can follow the links from Slashdot to grab the update if you wish, or delve into the morass of comments about this update.

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"Microsoft Edge will "intelligently auto-pause" Flash content that is "not central to the webpage." If you want to try this out now, you can take the feature for a spin with Windows 10 build 14316, which was recently made available to Windows Insiders"

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Source: Slashdot

You know you want it, Little Tikes kidBoard

Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2016 - 05:44 PM |
Tagged: Little Tikes, kidBoard, input

Look at that colour scheme, LEDs would just ruin the beautiful clash of blue, red and purple on the yellow background.  Clicky keys?  You bet this thing clicks, so much better than any mere Cherry MX keyboard.  It is also ruggedized, you could keep typing even when falling down stairs, you might feel bad by the time you hit the ground floor but this keyboard won't care. It may not survive a jamming though, so keep your milk and cookies or PBJ to the side when composing on this keyboard.  Drop Modders Inc a note to let them know they've done a top notch job with this review as well as with their sense of humour.

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"The Little Tikes kidBoard: the name says it all. An undisputed titan of computer peripherals, the engineers at Little Tikes have set the bar higher than ever with their newest release. The kidBoard incorporates an incredible combination of bleeding-edge software, phonics integration, and hardware mastery to create the next generation of gaming keyboards."

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Source: Modders Inc

IBM is feeling Powerful in the Core Wars, details on the Power9 architecture have arrived

Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2016 - 03:43 PM |
Tagged: GLOBALFOUNDRIES, IBM, power9

IBM's Power9 processor is scheduled to appear on the scene just over a year from now and finally we have some details about what it will be.  Firstly the core count is to be two higher than Intel, 24 cores and is optimized for use in two socket servers.  The chips are 14nm FinFETs fabbed by GLOBALFOUNDRIES which will be compatible with modern industry standards including DDR4, PCIe 4.0 and NVLink 2.0 so you can even take advantage of Jen-Hsun's latest products. 

The list of customers is quite impressive, Google has moved to Power8 already and described changing to the infrastructure as simple as flipping a switch,  the US Department of Energy will build their next HPCs using Power9 and Rackspace is currently working with Google to develop Power9 server blueprints for the Open Compute Project. 

Several Chinese companies will take advantage of those OpenPower blueprints to develop their own 'partner chips', Power8 and 9 architecture which will be using 10nm gates in 2018 to 2020.  This is somewhat amusing considering the shipping of Xeon processors to China has been banned by the US Government.  Check out more of the slides from IBM's presentation at The Register.

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"IBM's Power9 processor, due to arrive in the second half of next year, will have 24 cores, double that of today's Power8 chips, it emerged today.

Meanwhile, Google has gone public with its Power work – confirming it has ported many of its big-name web services to the architecture, and that rebuilding its stack for non-Intel gear is a simple switch flip."

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Source: The Register

Podcast #394 - Measuring VR Performance, NVIDIA's Pascal GP100, Bristol Ridge APUs and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2016 - 02:47 PM |
Tagged: VR, vive, video, tesla p100, steamvr, Spectre 13.3, rift, podcast, perfmon, pascal, Oculus, nvidia, htc, hp, GP100, Bristol Ridge, APU, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #394 - 04/07/2016

Join us this week as we discuss measuring VR Performance, NVIDIA's Pascal GP100, Bristol Ridge APUs 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!

This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Lenovo!

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

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

A can of Ashes; benchmarking the Singularity

Subject: General Tech | April 6, 2016 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: gaming, ashes of the singularity, dx12

Ashes of the Singularity comes with a canned benchmark which makes it easier to compare the performance delta between DX11 and DX12, though actual gameplay may differ in performance it does make things much easier.  [H]ard|OCP set the graphics to Crazy and tried out the two top cards from NVIDIA and AMD in both APIs and found some very interesting results.  The AMD cards performed well above expectation, the Fury X happily sitting at the top of the pack but the 390X was more impressive, matching the performance of the 980 Ti.  The AMD cards also increased in performed when running underDX12 compared to DX11, a feat the NVIDIA cards were not able to replicate. 

It is still early days for the new DirectX and we should expect to see performance changes as drivers and game engines are refined but for now if you are looking to play this new RTS AMD is the way to go.  Check out the full performance details as well as VRAM usage in [H]'s full review.

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"The new Ashes of the Singularity game has finally been released on the PC. This game supports DX11 and the new DX12 API with advanced features. In this Day 1 Benchmark Preview we will run a few cards through the in-game canned benchmark comparing DX11 versus DX12 performance and NVIDIA versus AMD performance."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Regular Surface, Large Surface are in stock, soon you will be able to order a Small from Microsoft

Subject: General Tech | April 6, 2016 - 12:16 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, surface phone

For those masochists who like to run Windows phones there is good news on the horizon, three Surface phones are due to arrive some time in 2017.  The market segmentation is different from the competition, instead of offering curved screens or a different size they will sell consumer, business and enthusiast models.  That is an interesting way to separate your products and with the amount that usual phone usage has changed an Enthusiast model actually makes sense for those who spend more time gaming and watching HD content on their phones than on their laptops.

The Inquirer has heard rumours that the phones will have a 5.5" QHD AMOLED screen, an Intel Atom CPU, 4GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of local storage, though one hopes the enthusiast model gets a little boost in specs.

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"MICROSOFT'S RUMOURED Surface Phone reportedly won't see the light of day until next year, but will arrive in three versions when it does."

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Source: The Inquirer

Check out the soundstage on this review

Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2016 - 05:35 PM |
Tagged: audio, Abyss 1266, Cavalli Liquid Gold, Hi-Fi HE1000, Luxman P700u, Audeze LCD 4, Chord Hugo TT, Stax 009, Blue Hawaii SE, headphone, amp

The least expensive pairing in this review will run you £5,194 and the most expensive doubles that, not the audio source and cables whose prices leave Monster green with envy.  Kitguru has taken on the high end of headphones and amps, leaving even those $1000 studio headsets far behind.  Each has their own usage, when you are spending this much on equipment they tend to be very specialized; usable in all scenarios but best served for what they were designed for.  Check out the review to laugh, cry or in some cases feel jealous of equipment you might actually want for some reason.

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"This article today is focused around the synergy between amplifier and headphone and the four setups I have chosen for this article are to my mind some of the best that money can buy. There is about £70,000 of equipment on test today."

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Source: KitGuru
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: HTC

Introduction and Background

Introduction

VR is rapidly gaining steam lately with the recent launch of several capable platforms. I’ve briefly sampled the various iterations of development kits and pre-release units coming through our office, and understanding how they tracked the headset position was relatively easy. Then we got to play with an HTC Vive, and things got a bit more interesting. The Vive is a ‘whole room’ VR experience. You’re not sitting at a desk with a game controller. Instead, you are holding a pair of controllers that behave more like extensions of yourself (once you get used to them, that is). Making all of this work took some extra pieces included with the kit, and the electronics technician in me was dying to know just what made this thing tick. I’d imagine other readers of this site might feel the same, so I thought it appropriate to do some digging and report my findings here.

Before diving straight into the HTC Vive, a brief history lesson of game system positional tracking is in order.

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I'll start with the Wii Remote controllers, which had a front mounted IR camera that ‘saw’ a pair of IR LED banks mounted in the ‘Sensor Bar’ – an ironic naming as the ‘sensor’ was actually in the Remotes. This setup lets you point a Wii Remote at the television and use it as a mouse. Due to the limited number of points in use, the system could not tell the Wii Remote location within the room. Instead, it could only get a vector relative to the Sensor Bar itself. Wii Remotes also contained accelerometers, but those were typically not used to assist in the accuracy of the pointing (but were used to determine if the remote was inverted, as the Sensor Bar had only two light sources).

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The Oculus Rift was essentially a reversing of the technology used in the old Nintendo Wii Remotes. The headset position and orientation are determined by a desk-mounted IR camera which ‘looks’ at IR LEDs mounted to the headset. The system dubbed ‘Constellation’, can decode the pattern (seen faintly in the above photo) and determine the headset position and orientation in space.

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Even the sides and rear of the headset have a specific LED pattern to help the camera lock on to someone looking away from it. If the IR camera sees the triangular pattern on the headset strap, it can conclude that the viewer us looking behind them.

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The HTC Vive takes a different approach here. Since it was launching with a headset and two controllers that would all need to be tracked in space simultaneously. The Wii Remote style idea would only work with a much larger grid of sensor bars (or QR codes) peppered all over the room, so that idea was out. The Rift’s constellation system might have a hard time identifying unique light patterns on multiple devices that could be far away and possibly occluding each other. So if having cameras on the headset and controllers is out, and having a camera on the desk is out, what’s left?

Read on for our in-depth look at the HTC Vive Lighthouse Tracking System

Behold, the spectrum of storage

Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2016 - 12:47 PM |
Tagged: NVMe, SAS, sata, PCIe SSD, low latency

The Register have put together a nice graphic and table displaying current storage technologies and how they relate to each other.  They constructed the graph to demonstrate the major boundaries in storage, between cache/memory, local storage and external storage and how these are going to move thanks to new technology.  NVMe-over-fabric will enable companies to utilize external storage at latencies lower than internal storage that still uses SATA or SAS, with only pure PCIe local storage outpacing its potential.  X-Point, assuming it lives up to the hype, will blur the line between local storage and memory/cache storage, offering latency previously only seen in system memory or on-die cache.

They also provide a table to give you some rough ideas how this translates between storage media, normalizing it a theoretical task which would take L1 cache 1 second to access, this can make it somewhat easier to comprehend for some than nanoseconds.

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"Two technology changes are starting to be applied and both could have massive latency reduction effects at the two main storage boundary points: between memory and storage on the one hand, and between internal and external, networked storage on the other."

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Source: The Register