Subject: General Tech | August 12, 2014 - 09:00 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, source engine, Source 2, DOTA 2
While it may not seem like it in North America, we are in a busy week for videogame development. GDC Europe, which stands for Game Developers Conference Europe, is just wrapping up to make room for Gamescom, which will take up the rest of the week. Valve will be there and people are reading tea leaves to find out why. SteamOS seems likely, but what about their next generation gaming engine, Source 2? Maybe it already happened?
Valve is the most secretive company with values of openness that I know. They are pretty good at preventing leaks from escaping their walls. Recently, Dota 2 was updated to receive new features and development tools for user-generated maps and gametypes. The tools currently require 64-bit Windows and a DirectX 11-compatible GPU.
Those don't sound like Source requirements...
And the editor doesn't look like Valve's old tools.
Video Credit: "Valve News Network".
Leaks also point to things like "tf_imported", "left4dead2_source2", and "left4dead2_imported". This is interesting. Valve is pushing Dota 2, their most popular, free-to-play game into Source 2. Also, because it is listed as "tf" rather than "tf2", like "dota" is not registered as "dota2" but "left4dead2" keeps its number, this might mean that the free-to-play Team Fortress 2 could be in a perpetual-development mode, like Dota 2. Eventually, it could be pushed to the new engine and given more content.
As for Left4Dead2? I am wondering if it is intended to be a product, rather than an internal (or external) Source 2 tech demo.
Was this what brought Valve to Gamescom, or will be be surprised by other announcements (or nothing at all)?
Subject: General Tech | August 12, 2014 - 01:07 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, haswell, tsx, errata
Transactional Synchronization Extensions, aka TSX, are a backwards compatible set of instructions which first appeared in some Haswell chips as a method to improve concurrency and multi-threadedness with as little work for the programmer as possible. It was intended to improve the scaling of multi-threaded apps running on multi-core processors and has not yet been widely adopted. The adoption has run into another hurdle, in some cases the use of TSX can cause critical software failures and as a result Intel will be disabling the instruction set via new BIOS/UEFI updates which will be pushed out soon. If your software uses the new instruction set and you wish it to continue to do so you should avoid updating your motherboard BIOS/UEFI and ask your users to do the same. You can read more about this bug/errata and other famous problems over at The Tech Report.
"The TSX instructions built into Intel's Haswell CPU cores haven't become widely used by everyday software just yet, but they promise to make certain types of multithreaded applications run much faster than they can today. Some of the savviest software developers are likely building TSX-enabled software right about now."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Nvidia claims Haswell-class performance for Denver CPU core
- Microsoft integrates Cortana into Windows Threshold @ The Inquirer
- AMD launches Firepro graphics updates for CAD workstations @ The Inquirer
- VicoVation Marcus 3 XHD 1296p Car Dash Camera Review @ NikKTech
- Ancient pager tech SMS: It works, it's fab, but wow, get a load of that incoming SPAM @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | August 11, 2014 - 06:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: VLAN party, pcper, kick ass, fragging frogs
Several rowboats worth of snacks, a couple of canoe-fulls of assorted beverages and boatloads of fun were had this weekend in the highly successful 7th Fragging Frogs VLAN; if you missed it there will be another chance some day but you really missed an epic event. There were over 120 Teamspeak connections in a variety of channels and an estimated peak of 78 active participants. Thanks to AMD there is a new game for the Frogs as well as Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare was a hit both to the players and to those watching iamApropos' live stream. We also gained some ARMA 2 fans which will not only appear again next VLAN but is also in danger of becoming a frequent activity for some members.
Once again there was quite a bit of valuable hardware and software given away, the list includes:
- AMD Fan Kit (headset, 16 GB USB drive, mouse)
- AMD Gaming Series RAM - 8 GB of 2133 Mhz
- MSI Military Class 4 A88XM-E35 FM2+ motherboard *and* A10-7850K APU
- AMD FX-8350 Processor
- XFX R9 290 Double D graphics card
- Several Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare Origin codes
AMD Red Team+
- Murdered Soul Suspect game codes
- Sniper Elite 3 game codes
Please stop by this thread to offer your thanks and support for all the hard work put into these events by Lenny, iamApropos, Spazster, Brandito, Cannonaire, AMD and the Frogs in general.
Subject: General Tech | August 11, 2014 - 01:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, seattle, hot chips
AMD has been showing off a reference Seattle-based server at Hot Chips and The Tech Report had an opportunity to see it. Eight 64-bit Cortex-A57 chips are set up in pairs, each pair sharing 1MB of L2 cache while the 8MB of L3 cache is accessible by all eight chips as well as the coprocessors, memory controller, and I/O subsystems. The system can address up to 128GB of DDR3 or DDR4, and you get support fot 8 SATA 6Gbps ports and 8 lanes of PCIe 3.0 to apportion between the slots. There is a secure System Control Processor, a partitioned Cortex-A5 core with its own ROM, RAM, and I/O to control power, boot and configuration control with support for TrustZone as well as a Cryptographic Coprocessor which accelerates all encryption processes as you might well expect. Read on for more information about AMD's unique new take on server technology.
"For some time now, the features of AMD's Seattle server processor have been painted in broad brush strokes. This morning, at the Hot Chips symposium, AMD is filling in most of the missing details. We were treated to an advance briefing last week, where AMD provided previously confidential information about Seattle's cache network, memory controller, I/O features, and coprocessors."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- AMD to release A68 chipsets in September, sources say @ DigiTimes
- Intel's Broadwell processor revealed @ The Tech Report
- Intel Broadwell Architecture Preview @ Legit Reviews
- 4 Generations Of The AMD APU: How Much Progress Has Been Made? @ eTeknix
- Intruder alert: Cyber thugs are using steganography to slip in malware badness @ The Register
- Hackers root Google's Nest thermostat in 15 seconds @ The Inquirer
- Struggling PC market to push Chromebook sales to 5.2 million in 2014 @ The Inquirer
- Sumo Omni Reloaded @ Phoronix
- Win 3x BioStar A68N-5000 Motherboards @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | August 11, 2014 - 08:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: webgl, tegra k1, nvidia, geforce, Chromebook, Bay Trail, acer
Today Acer unveiled a new Chromebook powered by an NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor. The aptly-named Chromebook 13 is 13-inch thin and light notebook running Google’s Chrome OS with up to 13 hours of battery life and three times the graphical performance of existing Chromebooks using Intel Bay Trail and Samsung Exynos processors.
The Chromebook 13 is 18mm thick and comes in a white plastic fanless chassis that hosts a 13.3” display, full size keyboard, trackpad, and HD webcam. The Chromebook 13 will be available with a 1366x768 or 1920x1080 resolution panel depending on the particular model (more on that below).
Beyond the usual laptop fixtures, external I/O includes two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI video output, a SD card reader, and a combo headphone/mic jack. Acer has placed one USB port on the left side along with the card reader and one USB port next to the HDMI port on the rear of the laptop. Personally, I welcome the HDMI port placement as it means connecting a second display will not result in a cable invading the mousing area should i wish to use a mouse (and it’s even south paw friendly Scott!).
The Chromebook 13 looks decent from the outside, but it is the internals where the device gets really interesting. Instead of going with an Intel Bay Trail (or even Celeron/Core i3), Acer has opted to team up with NVIDIA to deliver the world’s first NVIDIA-powered Chromebook.
Specifically, the Chromebook 13 uses a NVIDIA Tegra K1 SoC, up to 4GB RAM, and up to 32GB of flash storage. The K1 offers up four A15 CPU cores clocked at 2.1GHz, and a graphics unit with 192 Kepler-based CUDA cores. Acer rates the Chromebook 13 at 11 hours with the 1080p panel or 13 hours when equipped with the 1366x768 resolution display. Even being conservative, the Chromebook 13 looks to be the new leader in Chromebook battery life (with the previous leader claiming 11 hours).
A graph comparing WebGL performance between the NVIDIA Tegra K1, Intel (Bay Trail) Celeron N2830, Samsung Exynos 5800, and Samsung Exynos 5250. Results courtesy NVIDIA.
The Tegra K1 is a powerful little chip, and it is nice to see NVIDIA get a design win here. NVIDIA claims that the Tegra K1, which is rated at 326 GFLOPS of compute performance, offers up to three times the graphics performance of the Bay Trail N2830 and Exynos 5800 SoCs. Additionally, the K1 reportedly uses slightly less power and delivers higher multi-tasking performance. I’m looking forward to seeing independent reviews in this laptop formfactor and hoping that the chip lives up to its promises.
The Chromebook 13 is currently up for pre-order and will be available in September starting at $279. The Tegra K1-powered laptop will hit the United States and Europe first, with other countries to follow. Initially, the Europe roll-out will include “UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, France, Germany, Russia, Italy, Spain, South Africa and Switzerland.”
Acer is offering three consumer SKUs and one education SKU that will be exclusively offering through a re-seller. Please see the chart below for the specifications and pricing.
|Acer Chromebook 13 Models||System Memory (RAM)||Storage (flash)||Display||Price MSRP|
|CB5-311-T9B0||2GB||16GB||1920 x 1080||$299.99|
|CB5-311-T1UU||4GB||32GB||1920 x 1080||$379.99|
|CB5-311-T7NN - Base Model||2GB||16GB||1366 x 768||$279.99|
|Educational SKU (Reseller Only)||4GB||16GB||1366 x 768||$329.99|
Intel made some waves in the Chromebook market earlier this year with the announcement of several new Intel-powered Chrome devices and the addition of conflict-free Haswell Core i3 options. It seems that it is now time for the ARM(ed) response. I’m interested to see how NVIDIA’s newest model chip stacks up to the current and upcoming Intel x86 competition in terms of graphics power and battery usage.
As far as Chromebooks go, if the performance is at the point Acer and NVIDIA claim, this one definitely looks like a decent option considering the price. I think a head-to-head between the ASUS C200 (Bay Trail N2830, 2GB RAM, 16GB eMMC, and 1366x768 display at $249.99 MSRP) and Acer Chromebook 13 would be interesting as the real differentiator (beyond aesthetics) is the underlying SoC. I do wish there was a 4GB/16GB/1080p option in the Chromebook 13 lineup though considering the big price jump to get 4GB RAM (mostly as a result of the doubling of flash) in the $379.99 model at, say, $320 MSRP.
Read more about Chromebooks at PC Perspective!
Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2014 - 07:25 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: VLAN party, kick ass, gaming, fragging frogs
If you haven't yet signed up in the official thread, stocked up on snacks and beverages and reserved all of the weekend for gaming then maybe this will excite you enough to change your plans.
By the way, Play Battlefield 4 Free for a Week. Origin Game Time is On! It is a rather popular choice with the Frogs so if you don't have it that is no excuse!
You should also consider subscribing to TornTV where you can find a lot of Fragging Frog and PC Perspective action. There will also be a live stream where you can show off your skills, or lack thereof, to the whole internet!
Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2014 - 12:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ssd, radeon r7, confusing, amd, 19nm
In a branding move that has no possibility of causing confusion, AMD has announce the name of their new SSD line and it seems that the next Radeon R7 240 you buy might be a GPU or then again it might not be. Brand confusion aside, the drives will use 19nm Toshiba NAND fabbed at SanDisk and are predicted to perform similar to other drives with the same NAND, reads of 550MBps and 530MBps write. However as we well know the key to performance lies in the controller and the number of channels so it will be interesting to see the first benchmarks. As The Inquirer points out this could lead to the release of AMD branded machines, containing AMD made APU, RAM, SSD and discrete GPU.
"The Radeon R7 range consisting of 120GB, 240GB and 480GB flavours and is designed to appeal to the gaming market, putting it in direct competition with Micron's Crucial range which expanded to include the MX100, which premiered earlier this year claiming 89 percent performance improvement over a standard hard drive."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel's office of the future will be completely wireless @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft throws old versions of Internet Explorer under the bus @ The Register
- How to Image and Clone Hard Drives with Clonezilla @ Linux.com
- Supermicro adorns servers with bright and shiny ULLtraDIMMs @ The Register
- A Do-It-Yourself Air Conditioner with Evaporative Cooling 5 Gallon Bucket @ Hack a Day
Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | August 7, 2014 - 02:17 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ssd, phase change memory, PCM, hgst, FMS 2014, FMS
According to an HGST press release, the company will bring an SSD based on phase change memory to the 2014 Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara, California. They claim that it will actually be at their booth, on the show floor, for two days (August 6th and 7th).
The device, which is not branded, connects via PCIe 2.0 x4. It is designed for speed. It is allegedly capable of 3 million IOPS, with just 1.5 microseconds required for a single access. For comparison, the 800GB Intel SSD DC P3700, recently reviewed by Allyn, had a dominating lead over the competitors that he tested. It was just shy of 250 thousand IOPS. This is, supposedly, about twelve times faster.
While it is based on a different technology than NAND, and thus not directly comparable, the PCM chips are apparently manufactured at 45nm. Regardless, that is significantly larger lithography than competing products. Intel is manufacturing their flash at 20nm, while Samsung managed to use a 30nm process for their recent V-NAND launch.
What does concern me is the capacity per chip. According to the press release, it is 1Gb per chip. That is about two orders of magnitude smaller than what NAND is pushing. That is, also, the only reference to capacity in the entire press release. It makes me wonder how small the total drive capacity will be, especially compared to RAM drives.
Of course, because it does not seem to be a marketed product yet, nothing about pricing or availability. It will almost definitely be aimed at the enterprise market, though (especially given HGST's track record).
*** Update from Allyn ***
I'm hijacking Scott's news post with photos of the actual PCM SSD, from the FMS show floor:
In case you all are wondering, yes, it does in fact work:
One of the advantages of PCM is that it is addressed at smaller sections as compared to typical flash memory. This means you can see ~700k *single sector* random IOPS at QD=1. You can only pull off that sort of figure with extremely low IO latency. They only showed this output at their display, but ramping up QD > 1 should reasonably lead to the 3 million figure claimed in their release.
Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2014 - 01:37 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, Thecus, n2560, asus, strix, strix 780, flash media summit, Samsung, tlc, vnand, Marvell, gtx 880, x99s sli plus
PC Perspective Podcast #312 - 08/07/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the Thecus N2560 NAS, ASUS STRIX GTX 780, Flash Media Summit News and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Scott Michaud, and Morry Tietelman
Week in Review:
EVGA Contest Winner
User: Lt Dan 521
News items of interest:
Flash Memory Summit 2014
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Ryan: Soccer moms
Jeremy: Playing StarCraft On An ARM, natively!
Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2014 - 12:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: HPC, amd, firepro, S9150, S9050, opencl
The new cooling on the 290X tends to have it at the top of the gaming charts and with the impending release of two new FirePro HPC cards AMD looks to take the productivity title away from the Tesla K40. The higher end S9150 boasts 16GB GDDR5 memory with a 512-bit memory interface, 44 GCN compute units with 64 stream processors each there is a total of 2816 stream processors on board. That equates to 5.07 TFLOPS peak single-precision 2.53 TFLOPS peak double-precision performance with theoretical memory bandwidth of 320GB per second. AMD expects the S9150 to have support for OpenCL 2.0 drivers by the end of the year, which the lower priced and specced S9050 will not though both will support AMD Stream technology and OpenCL 1.2. Check them out at The Register.
"The company's new big gun is the FirePro S9150 card, which maxes out at a blistering 5.07 TFLOPS peak single-precision floating-point performance and 2.53 TFLOPS peak double-precision performance."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- How to Choose the Best Linux Desktop for You @ Linux.com
- nCrypted Cloud brings client side integration to Dropbox, Microsoft Onedrive @ The Inquirer
- IBM can't give away its chip business: report @ The Register
- Testing VR Limits with a Raspberry Pi @ Hack a Day
- Google Will Give a Search Edge To Websites That Use Encryption @ Slashdot
- OpenSSL receives nine post-Heartbleed critical bug fixes @ The Inquirer
- Now even Internet Explorer will throw lousy old Java into the abyss @ The Register
- Striker Capsule Task Light @ Benchmark Reviews
- Almost $1K worth of prizes up for grabs in our haiku contest @ The Tech Report
Get notified when we go live!