Subject: General Tech, Memory | April 8, 2014 - 02:03 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Hynix, ddr4
... I'll take two.
SK Hynix, one of the leading producers of RAM modules, announced a single stick of DDR4 with 128GB capacity. While this is intended for the server room, I hope that we will see workstation components attempt to be compatible in the near future. It is difficult to find a board that can support more than 64GB at all, let alone twice that, per stick.
As for the typical desktop users? Let's face it, this is overkill, eight times over, generously, per stick. Web browsers are beginning to ring up the memory usage as more and more tabs are loaded simultaneously but, otherwise, there is little use for it for them.
But for those of us who are not them, this could be awesome. It is still unclear how much memory a Haswell-EX motherboard, running on an Intel X99 chipset, will support. I can assume that this stick will not be compatible... but we can always hope, right?
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | April 8, 2014 - 01:11 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: BUILD 2014, microsoft, windows, winRT
A few days ago, I reported on the news from BUILD 2014 that Windows would see the return of the Start Menu and windowed apps. These features, which are not included with today's Windows 8.1 Update 1, will come in a later version. While I found these interface changes interesting, I reiterated that the user interface was not my concern: Windows Store certification was. I did leave room for a little hope, however, because Microsoft scheduled an announcement of changes. It was focused on enterprise customers, so I did not hold my breath.
And some things did change... but not enough for the non-enterprise user.
Microsoft is still hanging on to the curation of apps, except for "domain-joined" x86 Enterprise and x86 Pro PCs; RT devices and "not domain-joined" computers will only allow sideloaded apps with a key. This certificate (key) is not free for everyone. Of course, this does not have anything to do with native x86 applications. Thankfully, the prospect of WinRT APIs eventually replacing Win32, completely, seems less likely now. It could still be possible if Windows Store has a major surge in popularity but, as it stands right now, Microsoft seems to be spending less effort containing x86 for an eventual lobotomy.
If it does happen, it would be a concern for a variety of reasons:
Governments, foreign or domestic, who pressure Microsoft to ban encryption software.
Internet Explorer's Trident would have no competition to adopt new web standards.
Cannot create an app for just a friend or family member (unless it's a web app in IE).
When you build censorship, the crazies will come with demands to abuse it.
So I am still concerned about the future of Windows. I am still not willing to believe that Microsoft will support x86-exclusive applications until the end of time. If that happens, and sideloading is not publicly available, and web standards are forced into stagnation by a lack of alternative web browsers, then I can see bad times ahead. I will not really feel comfortable until a definitive pledge to allow users to control what can go on their device, even if Microsoft (or people with some form of authority over them) dislikes it, is made.
But I know that many disagree with me. What are your thoughts? Comment away!
Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2014 - 05:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: input, peripherals
The PC Perspective HWLB and The Tech Report's System Guide focus on the best internal components for your computer with the goal of guiding you to the best value for your dollar when you are constructing a new PC. Keyboards, mice and other peripherals are left out of our recommendations as for most people it is a personal decision as to whether they prefer expensive ergonomic devices or just a basic model. The Tech Report have changed that with their recent article which features their Staff Picks for the best peripherals of 2014. If you are having difficulty deciding which peripherals to attach to that new PC, why not drop by and check out their favourites?
"When we introduced our new System Guide format in February, we cut out peripherals in order to focus more closely on internal PC components. Our plan was to revisit keyboards, mice, displays, and such things in a separate guide, which we would be free to flesh out a little more and update as needed, independently of the already lengthy System Guide."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Qualcomm outs its 'highest performing' chips yet, the Snapdragon 810 and 808 @ The Inquirer
- AMD launches the Firepro W9100 professional OpenCL graphics card @ The Inquirer
- Intel CEO outlines new opportunities, investments and collaborations with China technology ecosystem @ DigiTimes
- NVIDIA Fermi/Kepler GPUs Are The Best Bet For Ubuntu 14.04 Nouveau @ Phoronix
- Your files held hostage by CryptoDefense? Don't pay up! The decryption key is on your hard drive @ The Register
- Microsoft: Hey, small biz devs – Windows Store apps are for you, too @ The Register
- Design for next generation reversible USB 3.1 cable is revealed @ The Inquirer
- LUXA2 P-MEGA 41600mAh World’s Largest Power Station @ eTeknix
- LUXA2 TX-200 Dual Wireless Qi Charging Station Review @ Legit Reviews
- ADATA PV100 Power Bank @ Benchmark Reviews
- Microsoft's Windows 8.1 updates also tweak Windows Server 2012 @ The Register
- Slashdot Asks: Will You Need the Windows XP Black Market?
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 7, 2014 - 09:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, geforce experience, directx 11
We knew that NVIDIA had an impending driver update providing DirectX 11 performance improvements. Launched today, 337.50 still claims significant performance increases over the previous 335.23 version. What was a surprise is GeForce Experience 2.0. This version allows both ShadowPlay and GameStream to operate on notebooks. It also allows ShadowPlay to record, and apparently stream to Twitch, your Windows desktop (but not on notebooks). It also enables Battery Boost, discussed previously.
Personally, I find desktop streaming is the headlining feature, although I rarely use laptops (and much less for gaming). This is especially useful for OpenGL, games which run in windowed mode, and if you want to occasionally screencast without paying for Camtasia or tinkering with CamStudio. If I were to make a critique, and of course I will, I would like the option to select which monitor gets recorded. Its current behavior records the primary monitor as far as I can tell.
I should also mention that, in my testing, "shadow recording" is not supported when not recording a fullscreen game. I'm guessing that NVIDIA believes their users would prefer to not record their desktops until manually started and likewise stopped. It seems like it had to have been a conscious decision. It does limit its usefulness in OpenGL or windowed games, however.
This driver also introduces GameStream for devices out of your home discussed in the SHIELD update.
This slide is SLi improvements, driver-to driver, for the GTX 770 and the 780 Ti.
As for the performance boost, NVIDIA claims up to 64% faster performance in configurations with one active GPU and up to 71% faster in SLI. It will obviously vary on a game-by-game and GPU-by-GPU basis. I do not have any benchmarks, besides a few examples provided by NVIDIA, to share. That said, it is a free driver. If you have a GeForce GPU, download it. It does complicate matters if you are deciding between AMD and NVIDIA, however.
Subject: General Tech, Displays | April 6, 2014 - 02:41 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: vesa, freesync, DisplayPort, amd
According to French website, hardware.fr, the VESA standards body has accepted AMD's proposal for FreeSync into an extension of the DisplayPort 1.2a standard. FreeSync is the standards-based answer to NVIDIA's G-Sync, a process for allowing the monitor to time itself according to its driving GPU. At CES 2014, AMD claimed that the technology was already in development to be used for mobile devices to save power (less frequent monitor refreshes).
By presenting image to the user only when the work is complete, you can avoid "tearing" and latency. The tearing will be eliminated because the graphics card does not change the image being drawn by the monitor as it is trying to display it. The latency is eliminated because it does not need to wait until the monitor is ready (up to one-over-the maximum refresh rate of the monitor). It should also save power by reducing its refresh rate on slower scenes, such as an idle desktop, but that is less of a concern when you are plugged into a wall.
What does this mean? Nothing yet, really, except that a gigantic standards body seems to approve.
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | April 4, 2014 - 06:59 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: vortex, mechanical keyboard
Carl Nelson of hardCOREware published a review of the Vortex KBT Race II mechanical keyboard. The quick summary is that he was impressed by several of its features but found that it was not as pleasant to type on, compared to other keyboards that he used - even with the same switch. It is a compact keyboard, slightly smaller than a Tenkeyless layout. The keycaps are laser-etched (which should give decent durability) with the same font as Windows 8. It is also backlit, the black model glows white and the white model glows green.
H...C...W... how subtle, Carl.
They keyboard itself is about $130 USD and comes in Cherry MX Red, Brown, or Blue. It supports 6-key rollover but he does not mention whether there are any other limitations. For instance, does the interface allow for 6 buttons to be pressed, but you are screwed if press shift, up, and right together? This was the case with my old Logitech G15v1 and it made for an impossible task to play The Scout with the arrow keys in TF2. On the other hand, if it was based on an NKRO keyboard with the limitations of the USB interface, that is not so bad. I just do not know.
To see a little more, check out the review at HCW.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | April 4, 2014 - 03:42 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: BUILD 2014, microsoft, .net
.NET has been very popular since its initial release. I saw it used frequently in applications, particularly when a simple form-like interface is required. It was easy to develop and accessible from several languages, such as C++, C#, and VB.NET. Enterprise application developers were particularly interested in it, especially with its managed security.
The framework drove an open source movement to write their own version, Mono, spearheaded by Novell. Some time later, the company Xamarin was created from the original Mono development team and maintains the project to this day. In fact, Miguel de Icaza was at Build 2014 discussing the initiative. He seems content with Microsoft's new Roslyn compiler and the working relationship between the two companies as a whole.
WinJS is released under the very permissive Apache 2.0 license. Other code, such as Windows Phone Toolkit, are released under other licenses, such as the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL). Pay attention to any given project's license. It would not be wise to assume. Still, it sounds like a good step.
Subject: General Tech | April 3, 2014 - 11:23 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: videocore iv, Raspberry Pi, open source, graphics drivers, bcm2835
The Raspberry Pi recently passed its second anniversary, but until now the open source software friendly hardware has had to rely on closed source drivers for graphics processing on the SoC's VideoCore IV GPU.This has now changed thanks to work by Raspberry Pi hacker Simon Hall who has ported over the open source graphics stack from Broadcom's recently open sourced BCM21553 SoC for cell phones to the BCM2835 SoC that powers the Raspberry Pi. In doing so, Mr. Hall has claimed the Raspberry Pi Foundation's $10,000 bounty by using the newly ported open source graphics driver to run Quake III Arena at 1080p (minimum of 20 FPS according to contest rules).
The ported open source driver is not quite as optimized as the closed source version that the Pi currently uses (which allegedly runs Quake III twice as fast), but it is an encouraging start and the base from which the community can flesh out and optimize. The open source graphics driver is likely to be rolled into future OS releases, but for adventurous users that want the open source driver now, Simon Hall has provided step-by-step instructions for getting the driver and using it to run Quake III on the Raspberry Pi blog. Be warned, it is an involved and time consuming process at the moment.
I would like to say congratulations to Simon Hall for the bounty award and thank him for his work in porting the driver to the Raspberry Pi's SoC!
Hopefully this graphics stack breathes new life into the Raspberry Pi and the community takes up the development mantle to improve upon the codebase and pursue new opportunities that the open source nature enables such as a port of Android running on the Pi.
Read more about the Raspberry Pi at PC Perspective.
Athlon and Pentium Live On
Over the past year or so, we have taken a look at a few budget gaming builds here at PC Perspective. One of our objectives with these build guides was to show people that PC gaming can be cost competitive with console gaming, and at a much higher quality.
However, we haven't stopped pursuing our goal of the perfect inexpensive gaming PC, which is still capable of maxing out image quality settings on today's top games at 1080p.
Today we take a look at two new systems, featuring some parts which have been suggested to us after our previous articles.
|AMD System||Intel System|
|Processor||AMD Athlon X4 760K - $85||Intel Pentium G3220 - $65|
|Cores / Threads||4 / 4||2 / 2|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte F2A55M-HD2 - $60||ASUS H81M-E - $60|
|Graphics||MSI R9 270 Gaming - $180||MSI R9 270 Gaming - $180|
|System Memory||Corsair 8GB DDR3-1600 (1x8GB) - $73||Corsair 8GB DDR3-1600 (1x8GB) - $73|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital 1TB Caviar Green - $60||Western Digital 1TB Caviar Green - $60|
|Power Supply||Cooler Master GX 450W - $50||Cooler Master GX 450W - $50|
|Case||Cooler Master N200 MicroATX - $50||Cooler Master N200 MicroATX - $50|
(Editor's note: If you don't already have a copy of Windows, and don't plan on using Linux or SteamOS, you'll need an OEM copy of Windows 8.1 - currently selling for $98.)
These are low prices for a gaming computer, and feature some parts which many of you might not know a lot about. Let's take a deeper look at the two different platforms which we built upon.
First up is the AMD Athlon X4 760K. While you may not have known the Athlon brand was still being used on current parts, they represent an interesting part of the market. On the FM2 socket, the 760K is essentially a high end Richland APU, with the graphics portion of the chip disabled.
What this means is that if you are going to pair your processor with a discrete GPU anyway, you can skip paying extra for the integrated GPU.
As for the motherboard, we went for an ultra inexpensive A55 option from Gigabyte, the GA-F2A55M-HD2. This board features the A55 chipset which launched with the Llano APUs in 2011. Because of this older chipset, the board does not feature USB 3.0 or SATA 6G capability, but since we are only concerned about gaming performance here, it makes a great bare bones option.
Subject: General Tech | April 3, 2014 - 03:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Braswell, Bay Trail, Intel, SoC, 14nm, idf
Intel's Atom has finally shaken the bad name that its progenitors have born as Bay Trail proves to be a great implementation of an SoC. At IDF we received a tantalizing glimpse at the next generation of SoC from Intel, the 14nm Braswell chip though little was said of their ultra low powered Cherry Trail SoC for tablets. Braswell is more than just a process shrink, Intel is working to increase their support of Chromebooks and Android by creating a 64-bit Android kernel that supports Android 4.4. This seems to have paid off as Kirk Skaugen mentioned to The Inquirer that Intel chips will be present in 20 soon to be released models, up from 4 currently.
"INTEL HAS REVEALED PLANS to launch Braswell, a more powerful successor to the Bay Trail system on a chip (SoC) line used in low-cost devices like Chromebooks and budget PCs."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel chip revenue declined in 2013 as worldwide total grew by five percent @ The Inquirer
- TSMC capacity booked to the end of 3Q14 @ DigiTimes
- What took you so long Apple? 26 remote exec bugs die in OS X Safari @ The Register
- MSI/Informatique OC Academy featuring HWinfo Pro OC Team @ Madshrimps
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