Xenon Flashes Make a Case for a Raspberry Pi 2 Case

Subject: General Tech, Systems | February 12, 2015 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: raspberry pi 2, Raspberry Pi

It did not take long to find a problem with the Raspberry Pi 2. As it turns out, the Pi 2 contains a power regulator chip that is susceptible to bright sources of light. The light will force electrons to move when a metal is struck by enough photons with the correct, per-photon energy, which is its frequency/color, and that will be perceived as a voltage (because it actually does cause a voltage).

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In the Raspberry Pi 2, this manifests as a voltage drop and the device immediately powers down. This was first discovered by Peter Onion on the Raspberry Pi forums while he was taking photographs of his Raspberry Pi 2. He noticed that each time he snapped a photo, the Pi would shut down. Liz Upton of the Raspberry Pi Foundation promptly confirmed the issue and wrote a long blog post explaining what actually happens. She borrows Peter's joke from the forum thread, that the Pi 2 is camera shy, and explains that “everyday light sources” will not cause this to happen. She then explains the photoelectric effect, the role of the above pictured U16 chip, and the issue itself.

I definitely appreciate Liz Upton and the Raspberry Pi Foundation, founded on the premise of education, taking the time to explain their bugs from an educational standpoint. That said, it is easy to lose sight of your goal when you have a product to defend, and I am glad that it did not get in the way.

A final note: this will not damage the Pi 2, just cause it to crash and power down. The only real problem is that shutting down your device mid-task will crash your task. If that is a write to the SD card, that will likely corrupt that write.

Tom's Hardware Tests USB 3.1 on MSI's X99A Gaming 9 ACK

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Storage | February 11, 2015 - 09:59 PM |
Tagged: usb 3.1, usb, msi, asmedia

UPDATE: Not to be self-serving, but we have our own story online now looking at the performance of early USB 3.1 hardware on PC Perspective as well! Be sure to check that out!

USB 3.0, for storage, is fast. If you are using an external, spindle-based hard drive, it will perform basically as fast as an internal sibling would. Apart from my two SSDs, I do not even have an internal drive anymore. You can safely install games to external hard drives now.

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But with USB 3.1, the spec doubled to 10 Gbps, which matches the first generation Thunderbolt connector. A couple of weeks ago, Tom's Hardware put it to the test with an ASMedia USB3.1 to SATA 6 Gbps developer board. Sure enough, when you are raiding a pair of Intel 730 SSDs, you can achieve over 700 MB/s read/write in CrystalDiskMark.

About the most interesting part of Tom's Hardware testing is their CPU usage benchmark. While USB 3.0 on Intel's controller choked a CPU thread, USB 3.1 on ASMedia's controller did not even reach half of a thread's maximum (the CPU in question is a Core i7-5930K Haswell-E at 3.5 GHz).

So until we get flash drives that are constrained by USB 3.0's fairly high ceiling, we might be able to have reduced CPU usage.

Cherry JD-0400EU Mouse and Keyboard Are Encrypted

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | February 11, 2015 - 09:36 PM |
Tagged: cherry, AES, aes-128, wireless mouse, wireless keyboard, logitech

When we report on Cherry Corp, it is usually about their mechanical switches that are the basis (until just recently) of most mechanical keyboards. They also make full keyboards, including non-mechanical varieties, although they are usually designed for enterprise customers. This one is likely intended for that audience.

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Simply put, The Cherry JD-0400EU is a wireless keyboard and mouse combo that encrypts all traffic with 128-bit AES encryption. If you are wondering why no-one else thought to do this? They did. Even Logitech has a whole line-up of 128-bit AES-encrypted mouse and keyboard combos. This is not even a feature that is only filled by niche companies.

Still, making sure people know that your wireless peripheral is encrypted will probably let you access a whole new audience of government, enterprise, and health care customers. The keyboard itself is based on scissor-switches, which are those non-removable keys that you find on many laptops. They are not high-performance, but they can be quite thin and low-profile. The switch mechanism under the scissor struts is membrane-based.

Pricing and availability are not yet listed.

Source: Cherry

Free Intel Edison Meetup in Phoenix, AZ, February 19th, 2015

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Systems | February 11, 2015 - 09:07 PM |
Tagged: Intel, edison, meetup

This is just a quick note for a small subset of our audience. If any of our developer-minded readers are in the Phoenix, Arizona region on February 19th, Intel will be hosting a meetup at UAT (the University of Advancing Technology). The processor vendor will perform a technical presentation about the Edison Internet-of-Things (IoT) developer kit. Shortly after the presentation, the group will move to Aunt Chilada's for a social event.

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The presentation will take place in the theatre (there is only one as far as I can tell) at 6:30pm. Admission is free and there will be 10 Intel Edison kits to be raffled. Food and beverages will be provided by Intel (at Aunt Chilada's restaurant).

Source: Intel

Google I/O 2015 Dated. Also: Sharks Left Eggs?

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | February 11, 2015 - 08:26 PM |
Tagged: google io 2015, google io, google

Or is that Left Shark Eggs? Yup, pay attention near the end of the post for an Easter Egg.

Every year, Google hosts their I/O developer conference, which often involves the launching of new hardware and services. This year, it will take place on May 28th and May 29th. Registration to register will open on March 17th at noon ET and it will end on the 19th. If you do not get in, many keynotes and sessions will be broadcast over the internet... because it's Google.

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Note how I said “Registration to register”? That was not a typo. You are putting your name into a randomizer that will select candidates to actually register and purchase their tickets. Last year, tickets sold out in less than an hour. Apparently Google believes that it is better for the tickets to go to the luckiest individuals, rather than the best F5ers.

Now onto that aforementioned Easter Egg. A recent meme is “Left Shark” and “Right Shark”, which came to life from Katy Perry's Superbowl Half-Time show. The invitation page for Google I/O has a Chrome Experiment that plays music in the browser via WebAudio, with WebGL-based string and oscilloscope effects. For the Easter Egg, open up the developer console with F12 and type “experiment.consoleDance()”. This runs a JavaScript function that paints Left Shark dancing away in your developer console, realized with glorious ASCII art. I am not sure if Microsoft's Christian Heilmann (formerly of Mozilla) found this, or was just the first person that I personally saw talk about it. Either way, his video is embed above.

I hope this made your day as bright as mine. Basically, I HOPE I RUINED YOUR DAY TOO!

Source: Google

Is there a Hardline of difference between AMD and NVIDIA?

Subject: General Tech | February 11, 2015 - 01:44 PM |
Tagged: gaming, ea, battlefield hardline

Battlefield Hardline is in public beta for those who have tired of Battlefield 4 and are looking for a new online Frostbite 3 shooter to play and [H]ard|OCP has run benchmarks to show you what kind of performance you can expect.  They gathered together three cards from the two companies, a GTX 980, 970 and 960 as well as an R9 290X DD, 290 and 285 with a mix of default and factory overclocked frequencies.  As of yet there is no Mantle support in the beta so both vendors are using DX11 in the tests, with the top four cards at 2560x1440 and the remaining two at 1080p, all set to 4X MSAA and Ultra settings except for the Dustbowl map.  The GTX 980 takes top spot but the most interesting results are the 290X and 970; the difference is so minuscule that they essentially perform at the same level and the same can be said of the pricing.  Also worthy of note is that in only one test did the cards use more than 3GB of RAM and never hit 3.5GB.

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"We hopped on the open public beta of Battlefield Hardline this past week and tested performance in all three maps with six video cards to find out how this game performs. We will talk about each map in the beta, and our experiences in terms of performance and gameplay experience so that you will know what to expect in the full game."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Another slice of Pi, this time it is saucier

Subject: General Tech | February 11, 2015 - 01:03 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, open source

We have seen the improved specs of the new Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, with a quad-core Cortex-A7 based Broadcom SoC running at 900MHz, 1GB RAM, a 40 pin I/O connector block and four USB 2.0 ports, with the rest of the inputs remaining the same as the previous models.  It will still charge at 2A but you will need an SD card of at least 4GB to fit on the OS, which you can buy preloaded or configure yourself if you so desire.  The Inquirer used the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark to test the speed of the new Raspberry and the results matched the advertised gains, 4452.1ms to completion on the new model as compared to 23692.7ms on the Raspberry Pi Model B+.  If you are working this devices predecessors on a project that would benefit from more power, or Windows 10 support, this will be a great investment for you.

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"SWELLING THE RANKS of fruity-themed computers, the Raspberry Pi 2 is an upgraded version of the popular single-board computer, sporting a new processor and double the memory of previous models."

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Source: The Inquirer

Oops! Incorrect AMD CPUs Allegedly Sold on Amazon

Subject: General Tech, Processors | February 11, 2015 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: amd, amazon

So allegedly Amazon UK sold some AMD A8-7600 APUs, but they actually shipped Athlon 64 X2 5200+ CPUs. Despite what you would think, it was actually “dispatched and sold” by Amazon UK itself, rather than a dishonest seller who has some explaining to do. For those affected, Amazon is apparently handling customer service well, as expected, and promptly replacing the parts. It does not seem to affect other regions, and the problem started just a short time ago.

amd-new.png

Unless you're Sebastian, these processors will not even fit in the motherboard socket. PC World has an interesting side-by-side comparison of the two pin configurations. They do not look alike at all. You should not have a hard time identifying the problem if you are careful enough to look before you insert, which is obviously something that you shouldn't have to do. Also, AMD refers customers to their authenticity support page for a few extra ways to be sure that the box that you got came from AMD.

What would be the most interesting part of this story is finding out what happened. Unfortunately, we probably will never know, unless it turns into a famous legal battle of some sort.

Source: Tech Report

NVIDIA Releases 347.52 Drivers and Brothers for GRID

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | February 11, 2015 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: shieldtuesday, shield, nvidia, gridtuesday, grid, graphics drivers, geforce, drivers

Update: Whoops! The title originally said "374.52", when it should be "347.52". My mistake. Thanks "Suddenly" in the comments!

Two things from NVIDIA this week, a new driver and a new game for the NVIDIA GRID. The new driver aligns with the release of Evolve, which came out on Tuesday from the original creators of Left4Dead. The graphics vendor also claims that it will help Assassin's Creed: Unity, Battlefield 4, Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Crew, and War Thunder. Several SLi profiles were also added for Alone in the Dark: Illumination, Black Desert, Dying Light, H1Z1, Heroes of the Storm, Saint's Row: Gat out of Hell, Total War: Attila, and Triad Wars.

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On the same day, NVIDIA released Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons on GRID, bringing the number of available games up to 37. This game came out in August 2013 and received a lot of critical praise. Its control style is unique, using dual-thumbstick gamepads to simultaneously control both characters. More importantly, despite being short, the game is said to have an excellent story, even achieving Game of the Year (2013) for TotalBiscuit based on its narrative, which is not something that he praises often.

I'd comment on the game, but I've yet to get the time to play it. Apparently it is only a couple hours long, so maybe I can fit it in somewhere.

Also, they apparently are now calling this “#SHIELDTuesday” rather than “#GRIDTuesday”. I assume this rebranding is because people may not know that GRID exists, but they would certainly know if they purchased an Android-based gaming device for a couple hundred dollars or more. We could read into this and make some assumptions about GRID adoption rates versus SHIELD purchases, or even purchases of the hardware itself versus their projections, but it would be pure speculation.

Both announcements were made available on Tuesday, for their respective products.

Source: NVIDIA

Shining a little light on Windows as a service

Subject: General Tech | February 10, 2015 - 02:11 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, rumour

We may see Windows 10 RTM as early as June of this year on new machines and likely as an upgrade option to those running Windows 7 or 8, with the trademarking of Windows 365 lending credence to this rumour.  The Register had a chance to try and parse the most mysterious part of this new OS, the Windows-as-a-service model and what that will mean for users.  Microsoft has explained that when a user buys a device with Windows 10 they will "continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device – at no additional charge."  Unfortunately it is not clear what is meant by the 'supported lifetime' nor what happens when that time expires; it is likely that a subscription will need to be renewed or that you will have to get a new device.  It is also unclear how this model will work for serial upgraders, in the past you could simply re-license your installation of Windows a finite time before needing to contact Microsoft to ask them to activate your license again.

What we do know for sure for the Enterprise version is that will be several Long Term Servicing contracts, which provide security and critical updates for a 5 year mainstream contract followed by a 5 year extended support contract.  There will also be a Current Branch for Business which will receive updates via Windows Update or WSUS after patches have been distributed to consumers and fully tested.  To be able to use Windows 10 a company must maintain a subscription for Software Assurance as opposed to being limited to the nebulous "supported lifetime" of their machines.

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"Windows chief Terry Myerson proclaimed the advent of Windows-as-a-service at an event last month. But what does that mean? A more recent post from Enterprise and Security Directory Jim Alkove offers some clues."

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Source: The Register