You've a date with Intel on the Ivy Bridge

Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2011 - 03:46 PM |
Tagged: Intel, Ivy Bridge, release

Z68, we hardly had time to know you and now you are leaving us; at least the 67 twins were around for a bit.  March will be mad for reviewers and tech junkies as Ivy Bridge is scheduled to arrive on the scene.  The updated chip moves to 22nm and will also be the first to feature Intel's Tri-Gate transistors which should keep the TDP of even the higher speed models of chip below current generation chips. DigiTimes also lists the models of motherboards that will arrive with the new chip, all half dozen of them.

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"Intel is expected to unveil its 22nm Ivy Bridge CPUs in March 2012 at the earliest, with initial offerings focusing on dual- and quad-core models, according to sources at motherboard makers.

The quad-code Ivy Bridge CPUs will have thermal design power (TDP) ratings of 45W, 65W and 77W, while the dual-core models will have TDP ratings of 35W and 55W, indicated the sources.

For the 7-series desktop CPUs, Intel will launch Z77 and Z75 chipsets to replace its Z68 and P67, and a H77 to replace H67. Additionally, Intel will also release Q77, Q75 and B75 chipsets for business models, replacing the Q67, Q65 and B65."

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Source: DigiTimes

Google Music Will Allow Users to Share Music With Friends

Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2011 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: store, music, mp3, itunes, Internet, google

Google seems to be slowly surrounding itself in our online lives, and their soon to be released Google Music Store is sure to ensnare users even more tightly (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing). The company’s music service has been in beta for a few months now and currently operates as a virtual music locker and allows users to upload their music collection to Google’s servers so that they can stream their music to computers and mobile devices. Unfortunately, the lack of a store required users to buy their music elsewhere and rip or download and then upload their music to Google Music which was kind of a pain. A store is on the way; however, so not all hope is lost. To make the upcoming music store exciting, the company hinted at a mysterious “twist” that would accompany the launch of the MP3 purchase and download service.

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According to Business Insider, a source who claims to be in the know has stated that the “twist” in the Google Music Store is not only a twist tie but is a huge space warping, planet sized twist that will allow users to share their purchased music with their friends and family. This is a huge leap into the current decade for the music industry, and is sure to be a popular feature for Google. Google is allegedly paying hefty upfront payment advances to the music industry for the rights to allow users to share music with others. It seems that streaming subscription services like Spotify and Zune have been successful in softening the outlook of the RIAA after all, at least to the point that allowing users to share their own music is something the music industry will at least consider for the right price (I apologize for the ire/tongue in cheek nature of this particular paragraph).

Unfortunately, the source was not able to detail exactly how this sharing service would work, but will likely involve the ability to share a link with a Google (+?) contact or over email that would then allow the recipient to stream the song for a limited amount of time (say 30 days?). Google being Google, the process may require or “suggest” that the user set up a Google Music account in order to listen to shared music, and thus get new users foot in the door and hopefully buy music to help Google overcome all the RIAA fees. In a further bit of bad news; while the large music labels are able to (bully) their way into charging for the rights to share music, smaller indie labels and independent artists will not be getting any piece of the Google money pie for sharing their music.

Have you gotten a chance to check out the Google Music beta yet? Personally, the sharing ability will be nice and will definitely push me into using the service a bit more than I do now, especially if I can coerce some of my friends away from Itunes so that we can share the new music we find with each other.

Battlefield 3 Will Be Standard Definition Without Hard Drive Install

Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2011 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: xbox, PC, gaming, ea, dice, bf3, battlefield 3

Battlefield 3 is nearing its October 25th release date and information about each platform's release is starting to pour in.  One notable piece of information concerns the optional hard drive install for the Xbox 360 version of Battlefield 3.  We reported earlier that the FPS would come on two DVDs for the Xbox 360, and a BF3 producer had been quoted in stating that the DVDs could be installed to the system to enable "optional high resolution textures."  At the time, I had assumed that the optional install would merely boost the (already) HD (high definition) image; however, according to Shack News the game will be only standard definition without the hard drive installation.

The PC will always have HD resolutions available, assuming your rig can handle it.

Executive producer Partick Bach explains that Battlefield 3 is based around a streaming texture engine where the terrain, textures, and content are all streamed in, and is a new way of doing things on the console (though not the gaming industry as a whole).  Unfortunately, it looks like the concern many gamers had in regards to the Xbox 360's DVD drive not being able to stream high quality textures fast enough have been realized.  Both the PC and the Playstation 3 on the other hand, are able to stream the necessary HD textures from the hard drive (PC) and Blu-Ray disc (PS3).

Mr. Bach further explains that because there are so many Xbox 360s with either no hard drives or (nearly useless) 4 GB drives, the company had to develop the Xbox version such that even a system with no hard drive could at least play the game, even at the expense of image quality.  "You could call it a 'standard-def' version for the 360 if you don't have a hard-drive."  What is still unclear is what exactly he means by standard definition.  Whether that means the game will be limited to a 480p resolution without the optional hard drive installation or high definition (720p+) resolutions with relatively lower resolution textures is not certain (though likely the later rather than the former, if I had to guess).

What this means for Xbox 360 gamers, in the end, is that the game will be quite a bit more expensive than previously thought if they want the full experience after factoring in the cost of an (outrageously priced) Microsoft hard drive.  Are you planning on buying the Xbox version?

Source: Shack News

How about a battery free RAMdrive? The Viking ArxCis-NV writes to flash if it loses power

Subject: General Tech | October 20, 2011 - 03:35 PM |
Tagged: Viking, ramdisk, DRAM to SLC, flash, super cap

Move over Fusion-io and RAMdisks with battery back up, Viking Technology has a surprise in store for you.  Their DDR3 ArxCis-NV works as a standard DIMM in your machine, making installation and compatibility a snap.  The difference is the super capacitor, available in a variety of sizes, which provides power long enough for the entire contents of the DIMM to be dumped to SLC flash for non-volatile storage in the case of a power outage or expected shut down.  Once power is restored the contents of the SLC flash is dumped back to the DIMM and once again your storage media is back to running at DDR3 speeds.  The slowest part of your storage will be the flash drive!  If that sounds like something you'd like to know more about head to The Register.

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"Viking Technology is a division of Sanmina-SCI, and its DDR3 ArxCis-NV is a DIMM that comes in 2, 4 and 8GB capacity points and operates at DRAM speed. It integrates into industry-standard x86 motherboards and functions in the host environment as a JEDEC standard DDR3 registered DIMM. If there is a power failure, or a host driven command, the ArxCis-NV will save all data in the DRAM to SLC (single-level cell) flash; upon power being restored, the data is written back to the DRAM ready for the system to access immediately following boot-up, provided there's sufficient operating system-level support for such a restore."

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Source: The Register

Giving Skyrim fans a tease

Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2011 - 05:02 PM |
Tagged: gaming, bethesda, elder scrolls, skyrim

For those anxiously awaiting the arrival of the next instalment of the Elder Scrolls, Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has something you might want to see.  Not one, not two, but three whole previews of the game as one of their lucky reviewers plays through a few hours of the game.  This latest instalment features our hapless previewer sneaking around in a cave full of bandits in the hopes of determining if that object he saw in the corner of the cave was indeed an anvil.  Did he succeed?  Read on to find out.

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"Last week, I played three hours of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, at my leisure and free to go and do whatever I could. I’m telling a series of anecdotes based on what I saw and did; here’s the first, here is the second and below is the cowardly third."

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Jon Peddie sees IGPs dying in the next year

Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2011 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: jon peddie, igp, egp, hgp

Jon Peddie refers to the SandyBridge family as EGPs, embedded graphics processors, and AMD's Llano series as HPGs, heterogeneous graphics processors, but whatever the label they may sound the death knell for IGPs. He does not see any sign that this new industry practice of including a usable GPU in their CPU having much effect on the discrete graphics card market, apart from the bumps when they were first introduced.  Compared to the IGPs of previous generations both Llano and Core i3 graphical capabilities are far beyond anything we have seen, but compared to the current generation of graphics cards they cannot stack up.  While it seems obvious that the discrete market will stay, not only because of the current generations power but also because of the faster evolution of the GPU compared to the CPU, one segment of the graphics card market will likely be disappearing.  NVIDIA and AMD have been fighting for the sub-$100 market, flooding that price point with a variety of cards that differ by as little as $5 between models.  Now that your new CPU will have the equivalent graphical processing power, why would someone toss money away on a low cost GPU?  Hopefully this does not mean a resurgence of GPUs that cost $1000+.

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"In 2011, with the full scale production of scalar X86CPUs with powerful multi-core, SIMD graphics processing elements, a true inflection point has occurred in the PC and related industries. And, as a result, the ubiquitous and stalwart IGP- integrated graphics processor, is fading out of existence. For several reasons, many people believed (and some hoped) the CPU and the GPU would never be integrated:

  • GPUs are characterized by a high level of complexity, with power and cooling demands, and dramatically different memory management needs.
  • GPU design cycles are faster than those of the CPU.
  • The GPU has grown in complexity compared to the CPU, exceeding the transistor count, and matching or exceeding the die size of the CPU.
  • The x86 has steadily increased in complexity, power consumption, and become multi-core."

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PhysX In Batman: Arkham City - A First Look

Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2011 - 03:55 PM |
Tagged: gaming, batman, arkham city, PhysX

"NVIDIA’s GeForce.com has posted the first footage from the PC version of Batman: Arkham City. Included are general shots of the game running on a GTX 560 and several side-by-side scenes showing the Hardware Accelerated PhysX effects enabled and disabled."

 

Keep an eye on the floor as that is where most of the paper fluttering and dust stomping action happens. You can also get a play by play of the action at GeForce.com, which points out what the CUDA cores are doing during the gameplay footage.  You'll have to wait until November 15th to try it for yourself.

Source: NVIDIA

The tragic comedy that is Bulldozer

Subject: General Tech | October 18, 2011 - 04:07 PM |
Tagged: bulldozer, amd

It is hard to know exactly what to say about Bulldozer.  It is not a complete fail for in multithreaded applications it sits in between the performance of the i5-2500 and i7-2600, which it was intended to.  Power consumption at idle has been improved but not at load which hurts, but not as much as the poor single threaded performance which is far worse than we had hoped.  SemiAccurate traced the long 5+ year history of the Bulldozer to see where AMD went astray from the dream that was.  The length of the story is certainly a part of it, 5 years is too long for silicon to languish especially when part of the delay was due to problems with the 45nm process.  Read on to hear about the struggles AMD underwent to get this chip to market as well as what corners were cut, or at least rounded, to get the chip on shelves.

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"The story of Bulldozer and why it does what it does, both good and bad, can be summed up as death by 1000 cuts. There isn’t really any high point to the architecture, nor are there any really low points. To make matters worse, there isn’t any obvious smoking gun as to why things ended up so, well, meh. What you can get now, what you should have been able to get, and what you will be able to get from this new architecture is a long and complex story. Lets get started."

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Source: SemiAccurate

Somebody bleached the R.A.T. 7 mouse!

Subject: General Tech | October 17, 2011 - 06:29 PM |
Tagged: input, Mad Catz, Cyborg R.A.T.7 Albino, gaming mouse

The Mad Catz Cyborg R.A.T.7 gaming mouse is already the strangest looking mouse on the market.  The amount of customization possible just for the physical layout of the mouse is incredible, this goes far beyond just adjusting weight and DPI, the entire mouse can be reshaped for your hand.  Not content with having only one type of these oddball devices, Mad Catz have created an albino version which will certainly stand out on any desk.  RealWorldLabs needs more than just a colour change before they recommend a mouse, they need to game with it as well.

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"With an lightning fast next gen 6400DPI twin-eye laser sensor, a more elegant white color (Apple fans) and the same impressive set of features as the original R.A.T.7 the latest Albino version is very close to being the ultimate gaming mouse to date aimed at the most hardcore of gamers."

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Not quite older than dirt; the microprocessor turns 40

Subject: General Tech | October 17, 2011 - 03:47 PM |
Tagged: microprocessor, history

Intel's 8080, 8086 and 8088 might ring a few bells for some readers, but how many remember the 4-bit 4004 that started it all 40 years ago.  SemiAccurate takes a quick trip down memory lane, recalling the VIC-20 which was powered by Motorola's 6500, the 16-bit TMS9900 that was inside the Texas Instruments 99/4(A) and other chips which have taken us from 740kHz to the multi-gigahertz chips of today. It isn't just speed that has improved, think of the 16 address values of the 4-bit processors and compare it to the 264 addresses available now (18,446,744,073,709,551,616).  It can be argued the F-14 Tomcat's Central Air Data Computer did beat the 4004 by a year, but as it was not publicly available and indeed classified until the late 90's it was never really in the competition.  The same would go doe calculators and industrial control units which were purpose built and not capable of general processing.

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"This fall it is exactly 40 years since the first microprocessor saw the day of light. Intel has of course provided us with a press kit that we will make good use of, but complement it with additional information."

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Source: SemiAccurate