Letting the enthusiast down is one thing AMD, disappointing a major partner is another

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2012 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: amd, cray, interlagos

Many consumers have been annoyed with AMD this year, from the enthusiast on the bleeding edge trying to track down the elusive HD6990 to the bargain conscious market looking for  a Llano based system.  It certainly hurt AMDs bottom line to have product shortages and it has alienated customers to the point where they may not consider AMD parts in the future.  The shortages also ensured that AMD will miss an entire generation of laptops and pre-built PCs since assemblers like Dell and HP needed a guaranteed solid supply of chips before they would consider selling a product line based on those chips. 

The Register reported on even worse news for AMD this morning, it seems that Cray will miss their targeted revenue for Q4 2011 and it seems to be AMDs fault.  The delay of the Interlagos based APUs which Cray was basing its new line of high powered clusters on.  This is not the first time that this has happened, Cray has been burned by Opteron delays before.  In response Cray is designing a new cluster architecture that will be able to interconnect Intel and AMD chips over PCIe 3.0 lanes.  

These Cray machines that are being delayed have another problem as well.  Not only do they depend on the delayed Opterons they are also planned to incorporate NVIDIA's Kepler HPC cards which are suffering from a serious case of the delays as well.  Seems like it is a bad quarter to be Cray.

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"Cray is going to miss its revenue targets for the fourth quarter, the company warned Wall Street this morning before the markets opened, and it has pointed its finger (without naming names) directly at its main processor supplier, Advanced Micro Devices, as the cause of the miss."

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Source: The Register

Cool WebGL-based map website. I won't Nokia for it.

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2012 - 12:29 AM |
Tagged: webgl, nokia

WebGL is a web standard which attempts to bring the capacities of OpenGL to websites; I will refer to web applications as websites because that is what they are. There were a few WebGL experiments to demonstrate 3D capabilities as well as concepts for sites such as search engines. There is concern over providing that level of functionality to an application, such as a web browser, whose purpose is to routinely accept data from untrusted sources. Microsoft specifically has been outspoken over WebGL which leads to questions about their motives: a harshly learned lesson from ActiveX; or fears that developers will adopt an OpenGL-based standard? Regardless of Microsoft’s intentions, their newfound cellphone partner, Nokia, has just released a 3D mapping system developed in WebGL.

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There needs to be a decoder ring for cellphone company drama.

While obviously not an alternative to Google Maps, Nokia’s “Maps 3D WebGL” is quite aesthetically pleasing. Buildings are rendered with quite high detail and perform quite smoothly if you are in one of the zones mapped with 3D building data. You are free to orbit and view the scene from any direction by turning the compass near the bottom of the screen. All in all it is a cool website to show off what the future could encompass when GPUs are allowed to be used for mainstream purposes. Have fun.

Source: Nokia

Velocity Micro Announces Products To Be Shown At CES

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Mobile | January 5, 2012 - 08:18 PM |
Tagged: CES, velocity micro, usb, storage, projector, peripheral, CES 2012

Velocity Micro, a boutique PC builder just couldn't wait until CES 2012 to show off some of their new products it seems, as a recent web page with some punchy font seeks to get consumers excited about their new tablets, projector, and USB optical/external hard drive combination.

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First off, Velocity Micro plans to debut two Android tablets dubbed the Cruz Tablet T507 and T510. Both tablets run the Android 4.0 mobile operating system, and are powered by Cortex A8 processors running at 1.2 GHz. Further, the tablets feature ARM Mali GPUs at 400 MHz, 8 GB of internal storage, 512 MB of RAM, HDMI out, a front facing camera, flash support, and access to the Amazon Appstore. The differences between the T507 and T510 tablets lie in the screen size and lack of rear camera on the T510. The T507 tablet has a 7" capacitive touch screen and has an MSRP of $150 (according to Engadget) while the T510 has a 9.7" capacitive touch screen.

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Next up is an external USB hard drive that also features an optical drive and USB hub. Dubbed the VMUltra Drive, the all in one external drive has a DVD-R/RW optical drive, 500 GB 2.5" SATA Hard Drive, SD Card Reader, and 3 USB 2.0 Ports. Pretty nifty, and if the price is right I may be interested in this myself for my work laptop that lacks optical drive and is running low on storage space (heh).

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Lastly, Velocity Micro is going to debut the Shine Projector. Supporting an "HD" resolution of 1280x768 pixels, the Shine weighs in at 9 ounces. It features a 300 Lumens (160 ANSI Lumens) brightness, 2,000:1 contrast ratio, a one year warranty, and a mini-HDMI input. Also, it's a glossy Ferrari red, sporty.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more CES Pre-CES coverage!

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

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

A new look at Powerline Ethernet from Sitecom

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2012 - 11:32 AM |
Tagged: Sitecom, powerline ethernet, ethernet over mains

It has been over three years since Ryan took a look at ethernet over mains, or powerline ethernet so it seems about time to revisit that technology.   Wireless technology looks nice but comes with a variety of problems such as security and signal interference as well as really not being all that fast in many cases.  Powerline ethernet attempts to bring the best of both worlds together by using wires which already exist hidden in your walls to also transfer the data.  Since there are very few wirelessly powered TVs, HTPCs or desktop PCs you obviously already have access to a wall wart.  Guru 3D tried the current generation Sitecom Powerline Ethernet system which claims a 500Mbps raw top speed and offers encryption capabilities if you are worried about the power company spying on you.  Their testing showed performance varying from about 100Mbps in the best scenario to 35Mbps when the adapters were on separate fuse lines and kitchen appliances were present on those fuse lines.  So while your microwave might steal some bandwidth from you, surfing the web is still going to be fine.

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"The Sitecom Powerline Ethernet adapters allow you to use your mains electricity circuit to transfer data, this way you can extend your network to wherever you have a free plug socket. The product we test today comes from Sitecom, their 500 Mbps plus Homeplug.

The kit provides a connection of up to 500Mbits/sec. Divide that by 8 bits and you'd in theory would be able to see transfer speeds of 62.5 Megabyte per second. In practice, however we tested the maximum net data rate is much MUCH lower, 60~100 Mbits/sec - still that is faster than Wi-Fi and sufficient enough or streaming high-definition video from say your PC with network shares to, for instance, your HTPC."

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Source: Guru3D

Are all USB 3.0 hubs made the same?

Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2012 - 03:54 PM |
Tagged: input, usb 3.0, usb hub, Rosewill RHB-610, SYBA SY-HUB20090

With USB 3.0 finally becoming commonplace on motherboards and mobile devices as well as peripherals, it was inevitable for USB 3.0 hubs to start to arrive on the market.  That raises two immediate questions; is it as fast as a plug located on a motherboard and is there a difference in performance between manufacturers.  RealWorldLabs looks to answer those questions by using two 4-port hubs, Rosewill's RHB-610 and SYBA's SY-HUB20090 along with a Gigabyte G1 Assassin motherboard.  It seems that with one device connected via the hub, the performance is about 90% of the direct connection to the motherboard which seems a small price to pay to not have to crawl behind your PC to swap USB 3.0 devices, unfortunately the short cables on these hubs still will have you bending over a bit to deal with them.

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"If you're looking to buy a USB 3.0 compatible hub and you're worried about performance and quality issues then this comparison between two of the most famous 4-port USB 3.0 hubs currently in the market should easily answer some if not all your questions."

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Some of us have fond memories of turn based games

Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2012 - 01:44 PM |
Tagged: gaming, jagged alliance

Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN were lucky enough to get their hands on Jagged Alliance - Back in Business, a game that was on its way to surpassing Duke Nukem Forever's record for longest game in development.  The new incarnation of the beloved turn based squad combat game is, as many fans are aware, in real time with a pause button to allow you to issue commands.  On the other hand it seems that the game is exactly like JA2 in that RPS recognized every tree, fence hole and building from JA2 ... and those who played it through multiple times will likely recognize them too.  One of the biggest changes, at least for the version they played with, is the lack of fog of war; when you hit a map you can see every single enemy and their moves, even without line of site.  As it turns out the enemy AI is even dumber than you thought.  Check out the full preview here.

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"I’ve been playing an early version of Jagged Alliance – Back In Action, the upcoming remake of one of my most beloved games. I keep my copy of Jagged Alliance 2 atop a giant stack of Soldier of Fortune magazines, which stands between an ashtray containing a smouldering over-sized cigar, some satellite surveillance photos of a dictator’s villa, a few scattered dogtags (some with bulletholes through them) and a pile of empty shell casings. I don’t know why I keep a lot of that stuff but I guess it reminds me how much of a man I am. Can Back In Action do the same?"

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Intel giveth to the server room and taketh from the desktop

Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2012 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: Intel, cpu, core i3, core i5, core i7

As reported yesterday, there are quite a few new server chips arriving in 2012 but today the news is not so happy for bargain shoppers who were not planning on picking up an Ivy Bridge based system.  Intel will no longer be shipping out Core i5-661 & 660, Core i3-530, Pentium E5700 or Celeron E3500s and will stop producing them by the summer.  On the Sandybridge side six Core i7 models are being cut as are six Core i5 models.  As well the Pentium G960, Pentium E6600/E550 and Celeron E3300 will see their line end in the summer of 2012.  While this does make space for the new desktop processors Intel is releasing soon it means anyone planning on building a lower cost system with these parts should consider doing so soon.  DigiTimes lists all the models slated for retirement here.

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"To pave the way for the upcoming launch of 22nm Ivy Bridge processors in April 2012, Intel has notified its hardware partners of its schedule for stopping the supply or production of over 25 existing desktop CPU models, according to industry sources in Taiwan."

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Source: DigiTimes

Intel moves on the server room with 40 processors due for release

Subject: General Tech | January 3, 2012 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: Intel, server, cpu, Romley, Ivy Bridge-H2, xeon e3, xeon e5

The server room will be getting an update over the next year thanks to Intel releasing numerous CPU models based on different architectures.  First up comes Romley with a total of seven 8-core Xeons, a half dozen 6-core Xeons including both the E5-1660 and 1650 as well as the E5-2640 and relatives, five 4-core Xeons and a single dual core CPU.  That will take us until close to summer.  By then Intel will be working on eleven different Ivy Bridge-H2 series CPUs including the Xeon E3-1290v2 as well as seven more higher end processors including Xeon E5-2470, which will take us towards the end of 2012.

In addition to the regular lineup, DigiTimes also lists four low power Xeons which will arrive in 2012 including the 8-core Xeon E5-2650L.

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"Intel is set to launch 40 new processors including those for its upcoming Romley platform, in the first half of 2012 with the company to release 20 models each quarter, according to sources from server players."

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Source: DigiTimes

Proposed Internet Blackout Seeks To Convince Congress To Drop SOPA

Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2012 - 06:24 PM |
Tagged: terrible idea, tech, SOPA, Internet, bill

Let me say right off the bat, that personally I'm very much against the idea of SOPA due to how easily the system could be abused and the degree to which innovation would be stiffed all in the name of "stopping piracy." Fortunately, I'm not the only one against the Stopping Online Piracy Act, and many of the opponents include Internet giants Google, Facebook, Ebay, and Twitter.

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While money being paid to congressmen may speak louder than a few tech enthusiasts writing to voice their opposition, when no one is able to perform Google searches, update their Twitter, or check their Facebook you can bet that the thousands of Americans are going to go nuts and is surely to get the attention of the everyday-person.  And when those same sites show their users who to blame, people are going to react.  (Seriously, have you been around someone when their internet has gone out for a day and they haven't been able to get on Facebook!?).  According to CNET, various top Internet sites have an ace up their sleeve and are prepared to blackout their sites such that visitors will be greeted with censorship logos naming SOPA and the government for the lack of user content and users' social networking fix.

"When the home pages of Google.com, Amazon.com, Facebook.com, and their Internet allies simultaneously turn black with anti-censorship warnings that ask users to contact politicians about a vote in the U.S. Congress the next day on SOPA, you'll know they're finally serious" says Declan McCullagh.

If SOPA passes, there will effectively be no internet, so maybe it is time to institute some MAD (mutually assured destruction) by encouraging sites to go with, as Mr. McCullagh puts it, their nuclear option and motivate people to let Congress know just how bad of an idea SOPA is.  After all, if SOPA passes how would you get your YouTube laughs, or even more importantly your PCPer fix!?  Have you called your Congressmen yet (nudge, nudge)?

Source: CNET

Finally a trip to the Southern Isles; AMD's new HD 7970

Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2012 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: tahiti, HD 7970, 28nm, southern islands

With 2,048 stream processors, 3GB of GDDR5 memory, and DVI,  HDMI and a pair of mini-Displayport outputs the new HD 7970 can support six displays and might even have the power to do it well.  Internal reviews, which are to be taken with your daily allowance of NaCl, suggest a 70-90% jump in performance when compared to the previous generation of AMD GPUs.  This all comes at a cost however, with a ~$700 price tag being predicted for the base model and unfortunately that is likely what you will get.  Even though AMD opened up the specifications for their manufacturers, allowing them to set whatever clock speeds and cooling solutions they desired it seems that most companies opted to go with the reference model, at least for now.   The other cost is power; the new 28nm process allows extremely low powered idling but as the card requires both an 8 pin and a 6 pin PCIe power connector you can be assured the card will use a lot of power when going full out, especially if you utilize the automatic 33% overclock that is enabled by the Powertune application mentioned by The Inquirer in their article.

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"CHIP DESIGNER AMD has released the Radeon HD 7970 based on its Tahiti GPU chip.

AMD's Radeon HD 7970 is the first graphics board design based on its 28nm Southern Islands Tahiti GPU. The chip, which AMD claims has 4.3bn transistors, has been significantly changed from the previous Northern Islands generation Cayman Radeon HD 6970, has more on-chip cache and the firm claims it has greater overclocking headroom."

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Source: The Inquirer