Podcast #188 - Featuring David Hewlett - White Space Wireless, AMD and NVIDIA GPU roadmaps, Hard Drives with lasers and more!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 9, 2012 - 04:08 PM |
Tagged: wireless, whitespace, ssd, podcast, nvidia, mdt, intel 520, Intel, gpu, APU, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #188 - 02/09/2012

Join us this week as we talk about White Space Wireless, AMD and NVIDIA GPU roadmaps, Hard Drives with lasers 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!

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  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malvantano, and David Hewlett

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:44:27

Program Schedule:

  1. Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:01:30 Introduction with David
    1. Okay, seriously, how nerdy are you really?
    2. What kind of hardware systems and specs do you have?
    3. What games are you playing today?  
  6. 0:13:25 AMD Processor and GPU Roadmaps Through 2013
  7. 0:28:30 Galaxy MDT GeForce GT 520 Graphics Card Review
  8. 0:32:00 Intel 520 Series SSD Full Review - SandForce on Steroids?
  9. 0:43:00 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  10. 0:45:05 White Space Wireless Discussion
    1. Links for reference: - WikipediaUS Radio Spectrum Chart (2003), 
  11. 0:56:00 Increased Hard Drive Write Speed and Density - Using Frickin' Lasers
  12. 1:02:00 An academic collaboration leads to a GPU/CPU collaboration
  13. 1:07:25 AMD shows 18mm thin reference ultrathin notebook based on Trinity
  14. 1:11:05 Tablets / Ultrabooks in Schools
    1. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204369404577209142710109710.html
  15. 1:16:45 NVIDIA Kepler Graphics Cards Lineup Leak To Web
  16. 1:22:30 PC Perspective Office Tour - Feb 6th, 2012
  17. 1:26:40 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Just in time for Valentine's Day...
    2. Jeremy: Now that's how you make a contest!
    1. Josh: Just got one for the wife. For great justice.
    2. Allyn: ioSafe SoloPRO
    3. David: Samsung Flexible Displays
  18. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  19. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  20. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  21. Closing

Source:

Collision alert! ARM, AMD and Intel are all headed for the same market

Subject: General Tech | February 9, 2012 - 12:07 PM |
Tagged: arm, Intel, amd, atom, low power, cortex, Medfield, hondo

To revive an old buzzword some of you may have forgotten, ubiquitous computing is the current holy grail of the computing industry.  If AMD, Intel, ARM and to a lesser extent NVIDIA, can get the market to prefer one of their low power processors over the competitions there is a lot of money to be made in the mobile market.  The way that they are approaching the market is very different however.   In Intel's case they pride themselves on the general computation power of their upcoming Medfield processor though that comes at the cost of power consumption and less graphics capabilities.  AMD. like Intel, are trying to reduce the power consumption of their chips and though they lag behind in general CPU performance the graphics capabilities are generally considered superior.

Then there is ARM, which is striving to overcome its reputation of providing chips low in power, both electrically and computationally.  Their latest Cortex processors are certainly display a vast improvement in performance compared to previous generations.  The power consumption may have increased but not to the levels of consumption of the Intel and AMD chips.  Intel and AMD need to continue lowering their power consumption without sacrificing power while ARM needs to increase performance without impacting the power consumption before anyone can be considered a clear winner.  There is another consideration which DigiTimes points out; right now ARM is winning the price war which could be every bit as important as power consumption or computational power.

ubiquitous_img3.gif

"While Intel and AMD have been making efforts to develop low power processors for use in smartphones and tablet PCs, they cannot compete with solutions from ARM in terms of price, according to notebook makers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

Thank you Bethesda; how about some attributions Steam?

Subject: General Tech | February 8, 2012 - 02:50 PM |
Tagged: gaming, skyrim, elder scrolls, mod

Attention (PC) Skyrim fans, Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has some great news!

High Definition Textures have arrived for Skyrim via Steam.  The download is just over 3GB and contains .BSP files which is the file type Bethesda in general and Skyrim in particular store their textures.  This is rather handy as two mods which already add high definition textures do so via a new folder called Textures under your Skyrim folder.  This means that the mods do not interfere with the official HD download as far as crashing the game, however more investigation is needed to discover how the mods interact as far as texture rendering priorities as well as determining which gives you the best looking textures.

Just download it via Steam and ensure that you enable it via the Data Files option on your Skyrim launcher.  While you are clicking on that download you might notice a link to something called Steam Workshop.  This leads you to a section of Steam where you can download mods for Skyrim via Steam which can be applied to your game though it does not necessarily replace Nexus Mod Manager.  When you have clicked on the mod then the next time you launch Skyrim it will run a check and synchronize your game and the mod.  The mods can be enabled and disabled just like the HD textures via the Data Files portion of your Skyrim launcher.

The addition of official HD textures and supported mods is a brilliant move by Bethesda and Steam and the PC gaming community wholeheartedly thanks them for this wonderful addition to the game.  Many PC users initial experience with Skyrim was not positive, especially those using AMD graphics cards.  The patches to Skyrim and AMD's drivers have finally fixed most performance issues users experienced and with the addition of PC specific improvements and mods Bethesda may have gone a long way to wooing back those users who were initially unimpressed with the game.

Along with these additions does come a plea to Steam.  You may notice negative comments underneath the mods which you choose, such as "It should say "Stolen by: Manic Zombie" The uploader gave no credit to the author of this.".  This is very unfortunate for the brilliant mind that decided to model mudcrabs with a monocle and top hat as the number of users of this mod will soar but the modder themselves are doomed to obscurity.  It could be that Manic Zombie was indeed the original modder as the Japanese site links to a download on Skyrim Nexus that he posted.  If Steam is going to offer mods the modding community would greatly appreciate it if Steam researched the mod to ensure that the submitter is indeed the actual source of the mod or at least has the modders permissions.  The "Report" button is a great start but in order to help attract game modders to Steam, reassurance that they will get recognition for their mods would go a long way to bringing even more modders into the fold.

rimmod.jpg

"The long-awaited Skyrim Creation Kit is out, and it’s come with the rumoured High-Resolution Texture Pack all the kids wanted! The game’s also 33% off on Steam in the US and UK at the moment, if this is what you were waiting for."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

An academic collaboration leads to a GPU/CPU collaboration

Subject: General Tech | February 8, 2012 - 12:13 PM |
Tagged: gpgpu, l3 cache, APU

Over at North Carolina State University, students Yi Yang, Ping Xiang and Dr. Huiyang Zhou, along with Mike Mantor of Advanced Micro Devices have been working on a way to improve how efficiently the GPU and CPU work together.  Our current generations of APU/GPGPUs, Llano and Sandy Bridge, have united the two processing units on a single substrate but as of yet they cannot efficiently pass operations back and forth.  This project works to leverage the L3 cache of the CPU to give a high speed bridge between the two processors, allowing the CPU to pass highly parallel tasks to the GPU for more efficient processing and letting the CPU deal with the complex operations it was designed for.  

Along with that bridge comes a change in the way the L2 prefetch is utilized; increasing memory access at that level frees up more for the L3 to pass data between CPU and GPU thanks to a specially designed preexecution unit triggered by the GPU and running on the CPU which will enable synchronized memory fetch instructions.  The result has been impressive, in their tests they saw an average improvement of 21.4% in performance.

APU.jpg

"Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique that allows graphics processing units (GPUs) and central processing units (CPUs) on a single chip to collaborate – boosting processor performance by an average of more than 20 percent.

"Chip manufacturers are now creating processors that have a 'fused architecture,' meaning that they include CPUs and GPUs on a single chip,” says Dr. Huiyang Zhou, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering who co-authored a paper on the research. "This approach decreases manufacturing costs and makes computers more energy efficient. However, the CPU cores and GPU cores still work almost exclusively on separate functions. They rarely collaborate to execute any given program, so they aren’t as efficient as they could be. That's the issue we’re trying to resolve."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Increased Hard Drive Write Speed and Density - Using Frickin' Lasers

Subject: General Tech, Storage | February 8, 2012 - 11:34 AM |
Tagged: laser, hdd, Hard Disk

The big hoopla as of late has been wrapped around SSD's and flash memory technology, with constant die shrinks promising cheaper and faster solid state storage for your PC. Everyone seems to be slowly forgetting about good old HDD's, but spinning rust may have some life left after all.

A team of scientists formed iron and gadolinium into a series of alloy 'nanoislands'. These are basically isolated mini magnets. Each one carries a magnetic charge. Normally you would write to materials like this by hitting them with a much larger magnetic field (i.e. from your HDD write head). This team had a different trick up their sleeve - don't bother with the bigger magnet, just hit it with a burst of heat and get it to change state on its own.

1-physicistsre.jpg

Magnetic nanoislands getting hit by a frickin' laser.

Picture a sling shot, stretched out, and frozen in a block of ice. If you melt the ice, the rubber band will just snap back to its unstretched state and stay there. The same kind of thing happens when you heat a magnet - it becomes demagnetized. Now imagine if you could melt the ice, but flash freeze it while the rubber band has extended in the opposite direction. You've reversed the direction of the sling shot. Pull off the same trick with a magnet, and you can flip its poles. The trick is finding just the right length of time to heat the magnet and catch the 'flip' on the other end of its resonance. This team appears to have figured it out, and the magic number (for their material) is 60 femtoseconds. They can heep hitting the same spot repeatedly, and each time causes another flip in the poles.

laser_writes_hard_drive.jpg

Each pulse flips the bit.

To back this down into typical computer terms. A 1GHz CPU clock triggers every 1.00000 nanosecond, and 60 femtoseconds is 0.00006 nanoseconds. Ultrashort Pulse lasers have been around for a while. One was even used on my eyeballs a few years back. These pulses are so fast that the biggest issue would be getting information to the laser fast enough. The straight line theoretical speed of this technique ranges in the Terabytes per second, with densities limited by the capabilities of the nanotech used to create the islands.

To be clear, this isn't the first time heat or lasers has been used in magnetic media. TDK pioneered Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording tech years ago, but that tech is only heat *assisted*. This new breakthrough is writing, with heat, without the magnet at all. Now the only trick is figuring out how to read such a high density of tiny written bits. Since the laser writes much smaller than a magnetic head could accomplish, we might see a reversion back to optics for the reads.We're not sure how long before this technology appears on your desktop, but what we can say is that magnetic storage is not dead yet.

Source: Physorg.com

Day[9] of Reckoning International Stream Event

Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2012 - 06:39 PM |
Tagged: day9

Wait, it's not Funday Monday -- why is Sean "Day[9]" Plott dicking around? Should this not be the day where he teaches us to be a better gamer? For the release of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Day[9] and Felicia Day (henceforth referred to as Felicia Day[9]) are streaming the game for the internet to see. If you are considering purchasing the game, or you enjoy watching a videogame adventurer occasionally run around in his boxers -- tune on in.

day9amalur.jpg

Felicia Day[9] and friends fun-time variety show!

The event originally started as Day[9] streaming launch-day play. During his preparation, he asked a few people if they wanted to play with him. Currently there are about a dozen internet celebrities playing in several countries. 38 Studios, the developer of the game, also caught wind of the event and offered prizes for viewers such as game codes and a giant swag hammer.

Fair warning, language is not exactly for a general audience.

Source: Twitch.tv

Have HDD prices started to come back from the stratosphere?

Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2012 - 11:55 AM |
Tagged: hdd, thailand, flooding

TechSpot did some number crunching to develop the chart you can see below which tracks the price of HDDs from September, before the flooding in Thailand straight through to last week.  The spike upwards as stock and manufacturing capability was destroyed is easily noticeable but then the pattern starts to fragment.  The Green lines from Seagate and WD seem to have the most resiliency, being among the first to start decreasing in price and the only ones with a still declining price.  The large drives, such as the 3TB Barracuda not only declined to reduced their price but are actually getting more expensive.  The mobile side of the market is also covered though it does not seem as hard hit as their desktop cousins.  They didn't collect data on Enterprise drives, which are few and far between for anyone looking to grow their data centre, since it is the mobile and desktop HDDs which interest most readers.  Check out the numbers here.

TS_desktop-hard-drive-pricing.png

"The hard disk drive supply chain was hit hard late last year when a series of floods struck Thailand. The Asian country accounts for about a quarter of the world's hard drive production, but thousands of factories had to close shop for weeks as facilities were under water, in what is considered the world's fourth costliest natural disaster according to World Bank estimates. That's on top of the human cost of over 800 lives."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: TechSpot

ASUS Xonar Essence One, not all ears need apply

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2012 - 05:03 PM |
Tagged: audio, asus, Xonar Essence One

The Asus Xonar Essence One is an external soundcard and DAC designed specifically for use with high end earphones.  This is designed for use by people with very discerning ears, if you are not much of an audiophile or only use $50 headphones you will be missing out on the benefits Xonar Essence One offers.  If you are quite willing to discuss the merits of unbalanced and balanced outputs however this device is worth investigating.  The quality parts contributed to the premuim price of $600 but they also raised the audio quality enough for the ears of the Kitguru reviewer who highly recommends this for professional musicians and audiophiles.

KG_asus-xonar.png

"Today we are looking at the latest ‘audiophile’ grade Asus Xonar Essence One external soundcard and digital to analogue converter. The Essence series of products have targeted the enthusiast and audiophile user now for some time, using high grade components such as BurrBrown DAC chips. Today we analyse the latest Xonar Essence One from ASUS in a very challenging environment, paired up with a flagship, limited edition Valve/Tube CD player and award winning Audeze LCD2 headphones."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

Source: Kitguru

Cooler Master's expanding Storm now features the Xornet gaming mouse

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2012 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: input, gaming mouse, cooler master, CMStorm, xornet

The CMStorm Xornet attempts to give you the performance of a full sized gaming mouse in a form small enough to be easily portable.  It still features the 2000 DPI Storm Tactical Optical Sensor that its bigger relatives sport as well as programmable buttons.  Red & Blackness Mods had some trouble getting used to the shape of the mouse, it is smaller lengthwise but much taller than other mice in the CMStorm lineup.  If you find yourself on the road and in need of a gaming mouse, for $30 CoolerMaster might have the perfect solution.

RaB_xornet.jpg

"Corsair has recently entered the mouse/keyboard gaming peripherals market and decided to make a good impression. The M90 mouse features multiple programmable buttons for RTS/MMO gamers, contains an aluminum chassis for increased durability and comes with the Avago Technologies ADNS-9500 LaserStream Gaming Sensor."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

AMD drops a module and keeps its socket

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2012 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: amd, piledriver, Seoul, Abu Dhabi, fad

One of the many interesting bits of information AMD disseminated at this years FAD started some conjecture about possible problems with Piledriver.  It seems that somewhere along the line AMD dropped a module on the Seou chip bringing its core count down from 10 to 8.  Once the hue and cry died down a bit a theory propounded by SemiAccurate offered a sensible theory for the change.  It seems likely that AMD initially developed this family of chips with the belief that DDR4 would have made it to market by now, perhaps in compensation for the delay in adopting DDR3.  Unfortunately DDR4 is nowhere to be seen outside of testing laboratories which has had an effect on AMD's development plans.  Without new memory there is no extra memory bandwidth which will in turn starve the extra cores on the chip and likely slow the performance of all of the cores.  Instead AMD opted to trim out the extra cores and as a benefit they get to utilize their existing sockets as opposed to introducing another one. 

ddr4.jpg

"A lot of people are in a tizzy because AMD (NYSE:AMD) has changed the upcoming Seoul CPU from 10 to 8 cores. The general responses ranges from AMD incompetence to apocalypse, but all it really signals is a lack of technical understanding on their behalf.

The slide in question was the server roadmap we wrote up here. It introduces Piledriver cored Abu Dhabi and Seoul chips, successors to the Bulldozer based Interlagos and Valencia respectively. The base part has 4 modules/8 cores, and the bigger variant is two of those in a package. The big controversy is that they were supposed to be 5 module/10 core parts."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: SemiAccurate