Even Intel is feeling the pinch, to the tune of a billion dollars

Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2015 - 12:48 PM |
Tagged: Q1, Intel, earnings, billions

Earlier in the week came distressing news from many manufacturers of PC components and now Intel has made their financial state a little clearer.  The Register has posted the numbers, predicted earnings for Q1 of this year have dropped from USD13.7 billion +/- $500 million, down to USD12.8bn +/- $300 million.  Losing about a billion dollars in profit is going to hurt anyone, even the mighty Intel.  The drop in the PC market comes from a variety of sources but two of the most likely candidates are the lack of cash in consumers pockets to upgrade and a lack of competition driving an urge to upgrade.  Once many gamers would willing live on ramen noodles for a time so that they could afford the next GPU or CPU upgrade thanks to the impressive performance increases the next generation offered.  Now new releases tend to offer a small incremental performance increase and occasionally new features which are impressive but nowhere near what an upgrade 10 years ago offered.  Certainly part of the issue is the difficult of coaxing a bit more performance out of silicon and with the reduced competition it is less financially attractive to fund expensive and risky R&D projects than it is to work on small incremental increases in efficiency and performance.

Here's hoping for a change to this market in the coming years.

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"Intel has lowered its revenue forecast for the first quarter of its fiscal 2015 by nearly a billion dollars, citing a weaker than expected PC market."

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Source: The Register

Asus Launches Premium ROG G501 Gaming Laptop

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | March 13, 2015 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: haswell, GTX 960M, gaming laptop, g501, ASUS ROG, asus

Today Asus unveiled the Republic of Gamers (ROG) G501 gaming laptop. The G501 is a 4.54 pound 15.6” laptop that packs high end hardware into a thin aluminum shell.

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The ROG G501 features a dark gray 0.81” thick aluminum chassis with a brushed metal finish and red bezel accents. A 15.6” matte IPS display dominates the top half of the PC with a resolution of 3840x2160 (UHD). The lower half includes a red backlit keyboard (1.6mm key travel) with colored WASD keys and a number pad as well as a large trackpad.

External I/O on this gaming machine is extensive and includes:

  • 1 x Thunderbolt
  • 3 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x Audio combo jack
  • 1 x SD
  • 1 x 1.2MP webcam
  • Wi-Fi 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.0

Asus is using the latest mobile technology with the G501 including a 47W Intel Haswell Core i7-4720HQ (4c/8t) processor, NVIDIA GTX 960M (4GB) graphics card, up to 16GB of DDR3 memory, and an impressive 512GB PCI-E x4 solid state drive (rated at 1,400MB/s reads). The laptop also supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. Asus claims that its Hyper Cool technology will keep the system running cool by using copper heatpipes and giving the CPU and GPU their own heatsink and fan which can be independently controlled to maintain a balance of heat and noise. The laptop is powered by a 96Wh Lithium Polymer battery.

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This beastly gaming laptop will be available next month with an MSRP of $1,999 (with the configuration listed above). More information can be found at gseries.asus.com

In addition to the ROG G501, Asus’ GL551 and G751 series are also being refreshed to include NVIDIA’s new GTX 900 series graphics. The GL551JW will get the GTX 960M while the G751JL will use the GTX 965M.

Source: Asus

Podcast #340 - News from GDC 2015, FreeSync Release Date, Vulkan and Mantle, and more!

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2015 - 02:09 PM |
Tagged: western digital, vulkan, video, SSD 750, Re+, raptr, r9 390x, podcast, nvidia, Mantle, Intel, imagination, gtx 960, gsync, gdc 15, freesync, Broadwell, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #340 - 03/12/2015

Join us this week as we wrap up news from GDC 2015, FreeSync Release Date, Vulkan and Mantle, 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Paul Heimlich

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

 

Beware strange USB drives, they can be killers

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2015 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: usb, flash drive

It is not easy to kill something via USB as the plugs deal with all sorts of devices that are off spec but it can be done.  If you short ground and power the plug disables itself, TVS diodes prevent static electricity from damaging anything and excessive RF is bled off by the inline filtering beads.  That didn't stop this Hack a Day reader from figuring out a way to make a killer USB drive with a inverting DC-DC converter and capacitor bank.  The drive uses the power provided by the USB port to charge the capacitors to -110VDC which then discharges that to the data pins, enough to overcome the protection on the port and it repeats until the USB port is no longer capable of delivering power.  Considering many USB ports are integrated onto your CPU at this point, this is not a very nice thing to do; we present this as a warning and do not recommend this or similar projects be undertaken by our readers.

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"[Dark Purple] recently heard a story about how someone stole a flash drive from a passenger on the subway. The thief plugged the flash drive into his computer and discovered that instead of containing any valuable data, it completely fried his computer. The fake flash drive apparently contained circuitry designed to break whatever computer it was plugged into."

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Source: Hack a Day

Waiting for a date with USB 3.1?

Subject: General Tech | March 11, 2015 - 05:47 PM |
Tagged: usb 3.1, Superspeed+, Superspeed Plus, asus, Z97-A/USB 3.1

Not too long ago Al and Ryan had a chance to play with a prototype USB 3.1 enclosure from ASUS and an add-in card with a controller from ASMedia.  The Tech Report also received the prototype USB 3.1 enclosure with two mSATA drives running in RAID-0 mode but they happened to have an ASUS Z97-A/USB 3.1 motherboard which has a built in port and ASMedia controller.  Their CrystalDiskMark results showed a ~75% boost in sequential read and write performance with 4K random write speeds also vastly increased.  That is not the highlight of their review however; ASUS provided a list of upcoming USB 3.1 releases from multiple vendors so you can now get an idea when you might want to upgrade to a board with USB 3.1 on it.

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"Today, we're going to take our very first look at some USB 3.1 gear. Asus has supplied us with a drive enclosure and a matching motherboard, which will help us gauge the kinds of performance gains users can expect."

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More shiny zombies; Dying Light is brought to you by a similar engine to Dead Island

Subject: General Tech | March 11, 2015 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: gaming, zombies, dying light, Chrome Engine 6

Dead Island used Chrome Engine 5 and Dying Light will use the sixth version of this engine which should give you an idea of the look and scope of this game.  As for performance, look no further than this article from [H]ard|OCP which details the performance of the game on NVIDIA cards ranging from the GTX 750 Ti to the GTX 980 as well as Radeons from R9-285 through the 290X.  This engine proved to love VRAM, at 4K the GTX 980 and R9 290X stuttered at points and the three 2GB cards showed the same problems at 1080p.  It would seem that even though the 970 never used more than 3.6GB of VRAM the card performed better than either of AMD's top offerings.  Pity about the lack of multiple GPU support.

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"Dying Light is out on the PC and we are liking it. Today we evaluate performance on many video cards to find out what kind of gameplay experience to expect. We will also compare graphical settings and find out which ones are the most demanding and what level of video card you need for this game."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Hey Cortana, your father is 20 now! Hope you fare better than BOB

Subject: General Tech | March 11, 2015 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, fail, bob

For those who have seen the interface in the YouTube video before; we apologize for the mess you just made on your floor but the younger generations should be reminded of what has come before.  Microsoft Bob was released 20 years ago yesterday and most of it died very shortly afterwards as Windows 95 did not need a replacement GUI for the File Manager, the only way to interface with your Windows machine previously.  The saddest part is that File Manager grew up to become Windows Explorer while what remained of Bob were only seen when you encountered a machine that did not have the Search Buddy turned off.  You may recognize that giant waste of CPU cycles, Rover, as that Search Buddy but he also stalked you throughout the Bob GUI, though back then he would roll over if you scratched him.  You can find Bob and Win3.1 on the net in seconds but The Register was also nice enough to link to an .OVA file so you can relive one of the more painful memories of both Microsoft users and executives.  Let's hope Cortana doesn't suffer as horrible a fate as her predecessor.

"Tuesday, 10 March 2015, is a day of infamy, for on that day in 1995 Microsoft gave the world Bob, the “social interface” for Windows 3.x and 95."

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Source: The Register

It has been a rough quarter for the tech industry

Subject: General Tech | March 10, 2015 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: Q1, gigabyte, earnings, msi, TSMC, amd, Intel, nvidia

There is quite a bit of news on how various component manufacturers have fared at the beginning of 2015 and not much of it is good.  Gigabyte has seen revenues drop almost 20% compared to this time last year and a significantly higher overall drop and while MSI is up almost 4% when compared to this quarter in 2014, February saw a drop of over 25% and over the total year a drop of nearly 8%.  TSMC has taken a hit of 28% over this month though it is showing around 33% growth over the past year thanks to its many contract wins over the past few months.  Transcend, Lite-On and panel maker HannStar all also reported losses over this time as did overseas notebook designers such as Wistron, Compal and Inventec.

Intel is doing well though perhaps not as profitably as they would like, and we know that NVIDIA had a great 2014 but not primarily because of growth in the market but by poaching from another company which has been struggling but not as much as previous years.  The PC industry is far from dead but 2014 was not a kind year.

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"Gigabyte Technology has reported consolidated revenues of NT$3.216 billion (US$101.93million) for February 2015, representing a 39.31% drop on month and 26.75% drop on year.

The company has totaled NT$8.515 billion in year-to-date revenues, down 18.47% compared with the same time last year."

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Source: DigiTimes

The ROCCAT Tyon; this mouse is nubbed for your pleasure

Subject: General Tech | March 9, 2015 - 05:20 PM |
Tagged: input, gaming mouse, tyon, roccat

Counting the different mouse wheel directions and the Easy-Shift button alternate pressing you can program up to 32 different buttons on the Roccat Tyon mouse.  As even the mouse wheel can be programmed to function completely differently between scrolling directions, this should count as long as your game supports it.  Not only do you get a ridiculous amount of customization, the nub you see on top of the mouse can function just like the throttle slider on your joystick, an interesting feature considering the number of space sims launching in the near future.  Hardware Asylum really like the mouse though they did dock points for not being usable by sinister types, check out the full review and the software suite right here.

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"The Tyon has innovative buttons just where you expect them without becoming overwhelming. Maybe the best part is you don’t even notice them when you don’t want to use them."

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Meet Intel's low powered Broadwell based Xeon D

Subject: General Tech | March 9, 2015 - 12:23 PM |
Tagged: Xeon D, Intel, Broadwell, 14 nm trigate

Intel's new entry into the low powered server chip market will be called the Xeon D and will be 14-nm process with tri-gate transistors and a TDP ranging from ~25-45W.  The chip will use Broadwell cores with 64K of combined L1 cache and 256K of L2 per core as well as 1.5MB of a shared pool of 12MB of L3 cache, aka last level cache.  The chip itself will have 24 lanes of Gen3 PCIe as well as a pair of 10Gbps NICs and the I/O controller that shares space on the chip will add six SATA3 ports, another eight lanes of PCIe Gen2, and USB support.  The Tech Report only had frequencies for two chips, the 8 core Xeon D-1450 has a base clock of 2GHz, an all-core Turbo peak of 2.5GHz, and a single-core Turbo peak of 2.6GHz while the Xeon D-1520 hits 2.2GHz base frequency, 2.5GHz all-core Turbo, and a 2.6GHz single-core peak.  Check out more in the full review here.

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"The Xeon D is Intel's pre-emptive strike against upcoming ARM-based competition in the server market. Built on 14-nm process tech and fortified with Broadwell cores, this single-node processor looks like the future of the Xeon lineup."

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