AMD Announces Joint Venture with NFME

Subject: General Tech | April 30, 2016 - 04:33 AM |
Tagged: SoC, nfme, gpu, cpu, amd

Nantong Fujitsu Microelectronics Co., Ltd. (NFME) is a Chinese company that packages and tests integrated circuits. Recently, AMD has been working with China to reach that large market, especially given their ongoing cash concerns. This time, AMD sold 85% of its stake in two locations, AMD Penang, Malaysia and AMD Suzhou, Jiangsu, China, to NFME and formed a joint venture with them, called TF-AMD Microelectronics Sdn Bhd.

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I see two interesting aspects to this story.

First, AMD gets about $320 million USD in this transaction, after taxes and fees, and it also retains 15% of this venture. I am curious whether this will lead to a long-term source of income for AMD, even though the press release claims that this structure will be “cost neutral”. Either way, clearing a third of a billion dollars should help AMD to some extent. That equates to about two-to-three quarters of net-loss for the company, so it gives them about six-to-nine extra months of life on its own. That's not too bad if the transaction doesn't have any lasting consequences.

Second, NFME now has access to some interesting packaging and testing technologies. NFME's website claims that this allows them to handle dies up to 800mm2, substrates with up to 18 layers, and package sizes up to 75mm. These specifications sound like it pulls from their GPU experience, which could bring all of that effort and knowledge to completely different fields.

The press release states that 1,700 employees will be moved from AMD to this venture. They do not state whether any jobs are affected over and above this amount, though.

The VR chair is now a reality thanks to Praevidi

Subject: General Tech | April 29, 2016 - 09:00 PM |
Tagged: Praevidi, turris, vr chair

You are not alone if you are confused by what exactly a VR chair is, but The Tech Report can help.  Aaron Schradin created the Turris VR chair which essentially allows you to steer VR games with your butt.  By leaning forwards, backwards or to the sides you can make your in game avatar move, instead of needing something in your hands.  Swiveling is also mapped, which is more important than you might think; with your torso decoupled from your head movements you can look around while maintaining the same walking direction.  The Turris also doubles as a case, you can install your PC directly into the chair to clean up the overall look of your VR rig.  Check out the video and full review for a look at this interesting piece of technology.  There is no price nor release date yet but Aaron is aiming for Q4 for the first release.

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"Praevidi's Turris VR Chair lets players navigate seated VR experiences by shifting their bodies, an approach that decouples head- and torso-position tracking to create a potentially more immersive experience in VR environments. Join us as we explore this device and its implications for the future of VR control."

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Not just for the Beatles and Final Fantasy; the Kingston HyperX Cloud Revolver headset

Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2016 - 06:48 PM |
Tagged: audio, kingston hyper x, Cloud Revolver, gaming headset

50mm neodymium drivers have become standard issue on gaming headsets and the Kingston HyperX Cloud Revolver is no exception.  With a frequency range of 12Hz–28,000 Hz and impedance of 30 Ω this headset should work well with just about any device.  The steel and leather construction looks nice and will help these headphones resist being damaged while being stored for travel.  As to how they sound, Modders Inc rather liked this analogue headset, read more about it here.

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"The Kingston HyperX Cloud Revolver is the latest headset in Kingston's product family. Kingston's gaming headset line up has grown to four different models which feature both 3.5mm and USB connectivity."

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Source: Modders Inc

Podcast #397 - AMD Radeon Pro Duo, NZXT Manta, AMD's new deal with China, and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2016 - 05:50 PM |
Tagged: video, radeon pro duo, podcast, nzxt, nvidia, Manta, GTX 1080, GT 710, GP104, amd, Alpha 12

PC Perspective Podcast #397 - 04/28/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD Radeon Pro Duo, NZXT Manta, AMD's new deal with China, 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!!

Up close and personal with GP100

Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2016 - 05:47 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, GP100, pascal

The Tech Report takes you on a walk through NVIDIA's HPC products to show you just what is interesting about the Tesla P100 HPC which Jen-Hsun Huang introduced us to.  The background gives you an idea of how much has changed from their first forays into HPC to this new 16nm process, 610mm² chip with 56 SMs.  If you missed out on the presentation or wanted some more information about how they pulled off FP16 on natively FP32 hardware or how the cache of this chip was set up then click on over and read it for yourself.

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"Nvidia's GP100 "Pascal" GPU launched on the Tesla P100 HPC accelerator a couple weeks ago. Join us as we take an in-depth look at what we know about this next-generation graphics processor so far, and what it might mean for the consumer GeForces of the future."

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Microsoft Floods Features into Insider Preview Build 14328

Subject: General Tech | April 26, 2016 - 08:26 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

After the release of Windows 10 version 1511, Microsoft took a few months to refactor and otherwise update the deep-down chunks of their OS. After that was all settled, they started merging features from their many teams. For the last two builds, the amount of changes ramped way up, not all of which were announced at Build conference.

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These features have been merged without much bug-crushing, though. Microsoft knows this, and then talk about a “Bug Bash” event happening sometime this week. To get a feel for the state of this build's quality, though, you can check out WinBeta attempting to show off the new features. Note that some of the issues they were experiencing were actually in the known issues list, namely the crash attempting to pin Settings options, but the list is quite long.

A couple of new changes are interesting and surprising. First, long-time, multi-monitor users will like that the clock is now on all taskbars, not just the primary monitor. They acknowledge that this was driven by the gaming community, although they don't explicitly state that it's because our applications run in fullscreen mode so frequently (covering the main monitor clock). I don't exactly know why this slipped past the user experience people for so long, at least since the multi-monitor enhancements in Windows 8, but it did. It should be publicly available in July.

They will also allow desktop icons to have mini symbols (badges) attached to them. This could tell you how many unseen emails you have, whether your alarm is active, and probably many other features when it's in a publicly-accessible API. It's concerning that it's UWP-only, though. It shows that Microsoft wants to deprecate Win32 for new features, without migrating them into UWP containers, which further suggests that Microsoft intends to deprecate Win32 altogether. This is very concerning for several reasons, but I'm not going to reiterate them in this post.

The other cool feature, though, is a new interface to select between multiple sound cards. In my scenario, I have two main sound devices. When I listen to my headphones, I plug them into a USB sound card (technically a Blue Yeti). When I want to use speakers, I flip over to motherboard audio and turn on my sound system. This means that I need to go deep into the Sound preferences in the Control Panel, and it also means that some applications don't cleanly switch over (even locking up entirely). With this a front-and-center input menu of Windows 10, it should pressure developers to test whether their software can accept a sound device change on the fly, and fix accordingly.

So yeah -- those are the three features that spoke most to me. Again, the lack of innovation in native Win32 APIs is concerning. It reminds me of when browser vendors declared that certain new APIs would be artificially held back from non-secure HTTP contexts. In some cases, it makes sense -- an unsecure Web app accessing your webcam is a sign that they don't care about your privacy -- but it also means that software developers need to give up some level of their anonymity to acquire a certificate to access those features (unless offline sites are classified as secure in the user's browser, which Google Chrome does and others might too). Tangent aside, it feels like Microsoft is trying to apply the same level of pressure to push people away from bare Win32. That makes sense, they want to promote new platforms, but it also usually comes before the old one gets the guillotine.

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft announces Inky, no word on Blinky, Pinky nor Clyde

Subject: General Tech | April 26, 2016 - 04:58 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

If you are in the Windows Insider program you will have a chance to check out the new build 14328 of Windows 10, which reveals many of the new features which will arrive in the so called Anniversary edition.  Once again they have chosen to change the Start menu, something which has always been well received by users, though perhaps this time it will not be so bad as the idea of a customizable Rail which always displays the power button and icons the user selects may be useful. 

They have also added Ink Workspace, aka Inky, which will make using a stylus in Windows 10 much easier, for those with touchscreens or tablets and a desire to draw or write by hand.  There are also quite a few things which sound less welcome, such as default save folders which vary from app to app and some odd behaviour from Cortana.  Read more about the new features over at The Inquirer.

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"Microsoft has released Windows 10 build 14328 to "Windows Insider" previewers. The build is available for both PC and mobile, and is described by VP Gabe Aul as a "MAJOR build, packed with lots of new features and improvements"."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Fnatic Gear RUSH G1, keys aglow all Cherry Red

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2016 - 10:40 PM |
Tagged: input, fnatic gear, Rush G1, cherry mx red

The Fnatic Rush G1 features Cherry MX Red switches, with red backlighting that you can manually switch between three levels of brightness, a breathing mode and an off position for the old folks like myself.  For those who dislike the feel of a naked desk against your wrists  the inclusion of a wrist rest is a nice addition to the package.  The bundled Fnatic Rush Settings Software is somewhat limited compared to the competition, the five profiles are limited to ten macros apiece, if you need more than that you would have to use the Fn+Function key to switch between profiles on the fly which is not much help in the heat of a match.  Benchmark Reviews like more about this keyboard than they disliked, read through the review to see if you are in agreement.

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"The London-based company Fnatic currently offers four products: the Rush keyboard, the Flick mouse, and two types of mouse pad. Today Benchmark Reviews will look at the Fnatic Rush G1 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard equipped with Cherry MX Red switches."

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The RasPi gets better looking, or at least the camera does

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2016 - 06:24 PM |
Tagged: IMX219, Raspberry Pi

The camera kit for the Raspberry Pi has just received an update, both the IR and visible light modules will now ship with an 8MP sensor, a nice jump from the current 5MP module.  Even better for a system designed specifically for low cost solutions is the news that the price will remain unchanged and the new camera will cost you the same as the previous.  The Inquirer reports that one of the main reasons for the change is that the OmniVision OV5647 sensor previously used can no longer be sourced.  If you use your Raspberry Pi for applications requiring a camera, you should look at your current projects to see if the jump in resolution provide by the IMX219 sensor will benefit you.

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"Fortunately, we'd already struck up conversation with Sony's image sensor division, and in the nick of time we're able to announce the immediate availability of visible light and infrared cameras based on the Sony IMX219 8MP sensor at the same low price of $25.""

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Source: The Inquirer

Mirror's Edge Catalyst System Requirements Revealed

Subject: General Tech | April 22, 2016 - 11:31 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming

Before I begin, I should note that the release date for Mirror's Edge: Catalyst has been pushed back two weeks. It will now launch on June 7th in North America, and June 9th in Europe. DICE claims that the reason for this delay is to work on “Social Play,” which allows users to create their own time trial events, and to integrate feedback that they will receive from the Closed Beta. The beta starts the day after that reason was announced... so it can't logically be the whole truth.

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Anywho, the specifications.

First, Mirror's Edge Catalyst requires at least four “logical” cores. They list the minimum as the Intel Core i3-3250 or the AMD FX-6350. A dual-core, HyperThreaded processor should work, but it would need to be as fast as the i3-3250. EA does offer refunds through Origin, however, so, if you're interested but not quite sure, you could just try it and see.

Second, the GeForce GTX 650 Ti and the Radeon R9 270x are listed as the minimum GPUs, with the GeForce GTX 970 and the Radeon R9 280x (3GB) recommended. Especially on AMD's side, there really isn't a whole lot of difference between these parts. The R9 270x has 2.5 TeraFLOPs of performance, and the R9 280x has 3.5 TeraFLOPs. Over on NVIDIA's side, the GTX 650 Ti has about 1.5 TeraFLOPs of compute, while the GTX 970 goes up to 3.5 TeraFLOPs. They seem to be targeting about twice-the-PS4 for their benchmark of high-end performance, but it looks like they aren't willing to scale back too far to be smooth. This could be caused by one of three issues:

  • The gameplay requires a fairly high and consistent framerate
  • They didn't put a lot of effort in downscaling and/or
  • It can go lower and/or higher, but DICE/EA just doesn't want to officially support it

Third, despite being an open-world title, the game isn't too tough on hard drive space. It only requires about 25GB of space, which is about half of a typical, large title these days. That said, the art style also doesn't really require too many textures. Basically everything is colored by its lighting engine, because the environment is supposed to give a sterile feel.

Fourth, and more interesting, the game requires a heck of a lot of RAM. At a bare minimum, it requires 6GB of memory, which also means that it will not run on a 32-bit operating system. Their recommended RAM goes way up from there, requesting 16GB for that level of experience. Yes, RAM usage doesn't really correlate with assets, but that is almost the entire install size of the game, which (again) is 25GB. That's a lot, but it will hopefully cut down on the load times that people have been complaining about in the console pre-release builds. To be clear, I don't mind and it could be a very good thing, but it's definitely a noteworthy amount.

If you're interested, check out the various streams and videos that should be popping up. The full game arrives on the first full week of June.

Source: EA