CES Day 4 Podcast - 1/11/2012

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 11:04 AM |
Tagged: ultrabook, razer, podcast, nvidia, Intel, CES, amd

PC Perspective CES 2012 Day 4 - 1/11/12

Join us tonight as we talk about our final full day of CES 2012 - including yet more Ultrabooks, New products from Razer, and our closing thoughts on this years show.

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, Josh Walrath, Matt Smith and Allyn Malventano

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

 

Source:

Raspberry Pi's ARM Powered Linux Computer Enters Manufacturing

Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 08:15 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, computer, arm

The UK based charity behind the Raspberry Pi Linux computer, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, announced in a blog post that the two ARM 11 powered Linux computers have entered the manufacturing stage and are that much closer to going on sale. The two models, Raspberry Pi A and B, will be $35 and $25 respectively. The difference between the tow models is that the cheaper model A board has half the RAM at 128 MB and lacks an Ethernet port. Both models have an HDMI and analog RCA video output along with a USB port to attach a mouse and keyboard.

Raspberry Pi.jpg

The charity elaborated that while they tried to find a manufacturing partner in the UK, they ran into cost and logistical issues. Specifically, tax and import laws in the UK requires any electronic components to be subject to import tax, making importing components into the UK and manufacturing it from within an expensive proposition. The Raspberry Pi Foundation was able to find a manufacturing plant that could produce computers for them at or above break even prices; however, they would not be able to produce enough units to meet demand- only a few hundred instead of the estimated 10,000 units the charity wanted. Further, because the manufacturing plants could only produce a few hundred units a month the release date would be months away instead of the 3 to 4 week turnaround offered by Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturing plants.

In the end, the charity chose to produce the Raspberry Pi computers outside of the UK in order to keep costs down and meet the release and quantity expectations. They will then use the savings to invest in further research and development and expanding the organization.

Are you guys going to purchase the Raspberry Pi computer when it comes out?

Source: Raspberry Pi

Asus Shows Off New Networking and Audio Equipment At CES 2012

Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 05:34 AM |
Tagged: wireless router, motherboard, audio, asus

At CES 2012 this week, popular motherboard manufacturer Asus showed off quite a few products. Among the new products, the company is releasing a wireless gigabit router, wireless repeater and Ethernet bridge, a new motherboard, and the Republic of Gamers (ROG) Xonar Phoebus audio sound card set.

ASUS_RT-N66U_b.jpg

The two new wireless products are the Asus RT-N66U, which is a dual band Wireless N Gigabit router, and the Asus EA-N66 Wi-Fi Ethernet bridge. The RT-N66U is a dual band Wireless N router that promises up to 900 Mbps over Wi-Fi thanks to two simultaneous Wireless N streams of 450 Mbps maximum each. One stream is done at 2.4 GHz and on the other stream data is broadcast and received on the 5 GHz spectrum. Asus has bundled the router with 26 dbm Wi-Fi amplifiers to extend the network's range. Other hardware includes three Wi-Fi antennas on the rear of the device, a four port Gigabit Ethernet switch, WAN port, two USB ports, power button, power input, and reset button. The front and top of the router shows off a stylish black pattern, blue status LEDs, and the Asus RT-N66U "Dark Night" name/logo while the back/bottom of the router contain plenty of ventilation ports and a stand to hold the router vertical. On the software side of things, the router features QoS, or Quality of Service, traffic management that the company claims can address up to 300,000 data sessions, eight SSIDs (for setting up guest networks, for example), and the company's ASUSWRT firmware. Downloading files without needing a PC and remote management of USB devices are also features.

ASUS_EA-N66.jpg

The EA-N66 is a wireless Ethernet bridge and Wi-Fi access point. Under the hood of the rather (shall we say) stylized design, it is capable of using either the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz wireless spectrum in 450 Mbps bands. Asus claims that when the repeater is paired with their new router, "the EA-N66 gives gamers incredible network speeds and coverage for multi-player gaming sessions."

ASUS_Rampage IV Formula_ThunderFX.jpg

As Asus demonstrated for us at CES, their new Rampage IV Formula motherboard features a SupremeFX III sound card chip connected to the rear audio ports by traces on their own PCB layer. This "moat" of traces (that light up red, even!) being on a separate PCB layer helps to eliminate interference caused by the other electrical components on the board. Now, you get isolated sound without needing to take up a PCI-E slot. In the video below, Asus shows off the feature.

The Rampage IV motherboard also comes with a bundled headphone amplifier dubbed the ThunderFX. It provides up to 120 dB of amplification and can support up to 600 Ohm high end headphones. The amplifier is EMI shielded and with ENC support, the ThunderFX has dedicated channels for headphone audio and in-game voice chat. Further, the box is compatible with both PCs and game consoles (PS3 and Xbox 360), and enables regular PC gaming headsets to be used with the consoles. Last up, it has three audio presets for FPS, RTS, and Racing games.

ASUS_Xonar Phoebus.jpg

Asus is also showing off the Xonar Phoebus sound card and breakout box for gaming under the company's Republic of Gamers brand. The set includes a PCI-E sound card capable of driving 600 Ohm headphones and a SNR (signal to noise ratio) of 118 dB. The card itself is shielding using, according to Asus, "carefully selected materials and perfectly shielded" to block EMI (electromagnetic interference) and and isolate itself from other issues caused by the other components in the case. The other piece of hardware is the Xonar Phoebus control box that integrates array microphones to reduce environmental noise when using voice chat and VOIP calls by "up to 50 percent." It further allows volume control and has Dolby Home Theater V4 surround sound and the GX3.0 gaming engine to enhance headphone audio when gaming.

ASUS_Xonar_Phoebus_control box.jpg

More information can be found here. Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or availability.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Asus

Mozilla Considers Extended Support for Firefox: a Whole Year

Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 02:40 AM |
Tagged: mozilla, firefox

Just seven months after taking their firm stance against supporting back versions Mozilla is considering following a model similar to Ubuntu: every few major versions, flag one as being supported much longer than the rest and support it while innovating on your main versions. I still believe that supporting many enterprise customers is wasteful for a company like Mozila, but now that they have substantially more revenue as of their recent deal with Google I suppose it could help advertise Firefox outside of work as well.

Firefox-LTS.png

Firefox installments versus long running media franchise installments.

Yeah I was VERY conservative with Final Fantasy... I know.

John O’Duinn, current director of Release Engineering at Mozilla, wrote about the proposal in his personal blog last October and discussed attempts to compromise between long-term support and Mozilla’s current release plan. It is still quite early to tell what they will ultimately come up with and whether it will mend relations with their enterprise customers, but it looks as though Mozilla will not follow their original decision to focus on the present and future at the expense of those reliant on the past.

Source: Mozilla Wiki

Microsoft Rereleases Update to Improve Bulldozer... yeah.

Subject: General Tech, Processors | January 11, 2012 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: windows, processor, microsoft, cpu, bulldozer, amd

Let us take a little break from the CES news with a load of bull -- a download of Bulldozer. If you have an eerie sense of being in this situation before then you may in fact have a bad memory as it did in fact happen and it was only about a month ago. Microsoft released an update in mid-December to optimize their operating systems for AMD Bulldozer technology; that patch disappeared without any listed reason. As of today, we have access to both the patch as well as most of the reason for the delay in the first place.

amd_bulldozer_performance boost.jpg

You know: part of me wants to see a Bulldozer go 100MPH, and another part of me fears greatly.

The first order of business is to explain to those who have an AMD FX series, Opteron 4200 series, and/or an Opteron 6200 series processor how to increase their potential performance: KB 2646060 and KB 2645594 each contain a patch which will optimize Windows to the Bulldozer architecture for most users when both are applied.

It turns out that Microsoft pulled the Bulldozer update last month when discussions with AMD revealed that the patch would not provide the promised performance increases for most users. The problem specifically centers on the Core Parking feature within Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2: after the hotfix in December was applied, Core Parking would still interfere with Bulldozer’s design by attempting to save power and sleep cores that were unused without understanding that Bulldozer cores are not typical cores. With Core Parking disabled for Bulldozer-based CPUs either through this hotfix or by changing your performance profiles to “High Performance” from the often default “Balanced” you would allow Bulldozer to run as it actually desires to run. According to how these bulletins are worded, should you have been on “High Performance” profile back in December before the hotfix was pulled you would have experienced what should only have been available starting today.

These performance increases are not for every application, however. AMD has stated that applications which are more sparsely multithreaded would benefit most from the update.

Workloads that are moderately threaded have the potential for uplift. This could include virtualization, database, or transactional environments that are “bursty” – a mixture of light and heavy transactions, or legacy applications that are by nature not very threaded. The more heavily threaded the application, the less the likely the uplift.

My intuition knowing this as well as the Core Parking issue is that once Windows finally wakes the Bulldozer core, your experience is maximal with the December patch; applications which only temporarily become multithreaded either do not wake the proper portions of the processor or wake the processor in time to be of maximum benefit.

It appears as if the removal of the hotfix last month was simply because AMD believed that while the patch was effective, it would not be correctly applied to the vast majority of customers without a second hotfix and thus give the appearance of little to no real benefits.

Source: AMD Blogs

LucidLogix Announces XLR8 Tech To Improve Embedded and SoC GPU Performance

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 11, 2012 - 03:48 AM |
Tagged: virtualization, tegra, Lucidlogix, gpu, gaming, game, embedded, CES2012, CES

Earlier today Lucid (LucidLogix), the company behind quite a few GPU virtualization technologies, announced yet another piece of GPU virtualization software. This time; however, instead of wrangling as much performance as possible from multi-GPU beasts, this technology- codenamed "XLR8"- is aimed at the mobile market of tablets, smartphones, and laptops with integrated graphics. Such products are powered by integrated GPUs in AMD's APUs and Intel's Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors, and by the GPUs in mobile SoCs (system on a chip) like Nvidia's Tegra and ARM's Mali graphics processors. XLR8 uses "unique CPU multithreading" to feed the mobile GPUs as efficiently as possible.

xlr8_tablet.png

According to Lucid, many of the PC graphics issues are magnified when it comes to embedded GPUS including visual tearing, pipeline inefficiencies, power management, and artifacting. Offir Remez, president of Lucid further stated that most of the big, popular PC games have playability issues on mobile platforms and on computers with integrated graphics. "If it's got a GPU, we can improve the end user experience."

The company further expanded that the XLR8 technology works by disabling unnecessary and redundant processes in addition to "unique multithreading" to improve system (gaming) responsiveness up to 200 percent. The XLR8 software monitors battery drain and power draw while shutting down background processes to increase CPU frame generation and minimizing redundant GPU rendering processes.

If this sounds a lot like marketing speak, it certainly does. On the other hand, Lucid has been able to push some useful virtualization technology into desktops, so maybe mobile platforms are just the next step for the company. The company is currently demonstrating the XLR8 software in private at CES and is being tested by hardware partners.  Mobile SoC are getting faster and more powerful, and on battery powered devices there is always room for efficiency improvements.  Once reviewers manage to get their hands on some actual hardware, and XLR8 is past the concept/testing stage you can bet that people will have a better understanding of what exactly XLR8 is capable of.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Reddit Planning Blackout To Protest SOPA

Subject: General Tech | January 11, 2012 - 02:57 AM |
Tagged: SOPA, reddit, protect ip, forum

Popular forum and social website discovery site Reddit is very much against SOPA. They fear that the ease to which the possible law could be abused to censor free speech and take down entire website solely based on allegations without needing to prove anything in court. We reported earlier that some websites were considering the "nuclear option" of protesting SOPA by shutting down their sites and displaying messages imploring users to contact their congressmen and beg them to stop SOPA and Protect IP (the Senate version of SOPA).

sobrave.png

Viva la Reddit! (Source: Reddit blog)

Well, it seems as if Reddit is joining the fight to stop SOPA and will be blacking out the Reddit website from 8 am to 8 pm EST on January 18th 2012. They state in their blog that the choice to blackout the website was a difficult one; however, it is a necessary measure to force people into action. "We feel focusing on a day of action is the best way we can amplify the voice of the community."

While Reddit is a popular website with a lot of fans, a good number of them are internet savvy enough to have likely already complained to their congressmen. Until a mainstream site with as much reach as Facebook joins the blackout campaign, I fear that money will continue to speak louder than the words of constituents. More information on the blackout can be found here.

Source: Reddit

CES 2012: Razer's Project Fiona -- PC Gaming tablet PC tablet

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2012 - 08:24 PM |
Tagged: razer, CES 2012, CES

If you believe our title to be awkward, please glance downward a little at the concept image. While I do not want to lash on Razer for trying something that no-one has it must be said that aesthetically the concept must be altered. Hardcore PC Gamers are a unique breed, but I expect that even the most bold of gamers would be shy at holding this around in public. Now that we are past the design, let us look at what Razer claims in terms of expected hardware.

razer-fiona.jpg

It looks like Razer is fitting a bit into Booth Category One.

Razer is being very careful about giving out too many specific details due to the concept nature of the device, but they suggested that they aim for the following:

  • Intel Core i7
  • 10.1” 1280x800 display
  • Full Screen interface supporting multi-touch “hybrid” for PC Gaming.
  • 3-axis gyro, magnetometer, accelerometer
  • Force feedback
  • Dolby 7.1 surround sound
  • Wifi b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0

You should notice a lack of information about the expected video card but the screen resolution paired with the CPU choice should slightly indicate their intent.

What do you think? What changes, if any, would you request before you hand over your wallet?

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: RazerZone

CES 2012: EVGA parties like it's socket 2011 in Viva Las Vegas. Dual-socket SR-X mobo, UV Plus+ 39 video out for USB3, PSUs

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2012 - 07:22 PM |
Tagged: evga, CES 2012, CES

There are most commonly three types of booths in CES: a display of one or more new and innovative products to hope to blaze their very own trail, a display of one or more intriguing iterations on existing product lines, or a display of some sort of pasta or alcoholic beverage. This year EVGA appears to fit mostly into the middle category; I hear they make good chips, however. The three major iterations this year quite possibly could not be more diverse: a new dual-socket Xeon motherboard, new power supplies, and an update to their UV Plus+ USB video adapter.

EVGA-logo.jpg

There’s something ironic about HDMI and DVI products by EVGA.

Dual-Socket 2011 SR-X Xeon motherboard

EVGA-mobo.jpg

Not to be outdone by their old pizza box-sized components, EVGA announced their new SR-X motherboard to bring a product like the SR-2 to socket 2011. This time around they retain their 12 DIMM slots update their PCI-E slots to the third generation with 4-way SLI possible. You can also expect 8 SAS/SATA ports to connect a large number of hard drives at 6Gbps to your computer. It is clear that EVGA has aimed this PC motherboard at enthusiasts who want what they want and have the credit to get it.

1500W, 1000W, 750W power supplies

EVGA-psu.jpg

EVGA has made a few power supplies in the past so why not add a few more products to their portfolio? Partially pictured above is the 1000W unit that can provide 82A over the 12V rail -- which should be useful to pair with a Quad-SLI SR-X rig; and if not, there’s the 1500W one with a stated “customizable number of 12V rails” whatever that actually means.

UV Plus+ 39 video out by USB 3.0

EVGA-UV.jpg

The general masses regularly ask for methods to connect their computers to their HDTV through their USB ports and are routinely shocked to find that it is not a simple cable solution. Ponder that, USB cannot do everything… or can it? EVGA updated their UV Plus+ 19 with their UV Plus+ 39 to add support for dual-monitor output and USB3.0 for higher bandwidth, though USB 2.0 is still supported. There is no word on whether the maximum resolution would be reduced in dual-monitor mode. If you are worried about graphics acceleration over a USB device, the driver created links to your real video card thus you still have access to your GPU for processing.

Now we just need to find out about their video cards.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: PCPer

You call that a steering wheel SteelSeries?

Subject: General Tech | January 10, 2012 - 04:16 PM |
Tagged: input, steering wheel, steelseries, Simraceway SRW-S1

One tends to think of a steering wheel as a fairly simplistic device, with perhaps a few controls on it that do not directly relate to steering a vehicle, but for the most part it simply allows you to steer.  SteelSeries obviously thinks differently as you can see on their Simraceway SRW-S1 below.  It seems to possess more buttons than a gamepad, with speakers and a camera built in and accelerometres to allow you to use it in mid air.  Legit Reviews had fun reviewing the wheel and driving around tracks and their shoulders are much broader after a few hours of gameplay as well.

LR_Simraceway_SRW-S1_4.jpg

"I have a been a real-world racing fan for all of my life, growing up in earshot distance from a famous dirt racetrack in Southern California. I’ve always enjoyed NASCAR and more recently have come to love Formula 1 and World Rally Championships so when SteelSeries announced a new peripheral – their first ever racing wheel – I was more than a little skeptical. A racing controller without pedals for less than $120?!? What does SteelSeries, a manufacturer who is best known for headsets and professional mice know about racing? At this point I was thinking that a good comparison for the SRW-S1 might be my kid’s Mario Kart Wii wheel..."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk