What's the big deal with BAPCo? Why Benchmarking Matters

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 21, 2011 - 02:36 PM |
Tagged: VIA, sysmark, nvidia, Intel, benchmark, bapco, amd

It seems that all the tech community is talking about today is BAPCo and its benchmarking suite called Sysmark.  A new version, 2012, was released just recently and yesterday we found out that AMD, NVIDIA and VIA have all dropped their support of the "Business Applications Performance Corporation".  Obviously those companies have a beef with the benchmark as it is, yet somehow one company stands behind the test: Intel.

Everyone you know of is posting about it.  My twitter feed "asplode" with comments like this:

AMD quits BAPCo, says SYSmark is nutso. Nvidia and VIA, they say, also.

AMD: Voting For Openness: In order to get a better understanding of AMD's press release earlier concerning BAPCO...

Ooh, BapCo drama.

Why Legit Reviews won't use the latest BAPCo benchmark:

Even PC Perspective posted on this drama yesterday afternoon saying: "The disputes centered mostly over the release of SYSmark 2012. For years various members have been complaining about various aspects of the product which they allege Intel strikes down and ignores while designing each version. One major complaint is the lack of reporting on the computer’s GPU performance which is quickly becoming beyond relevant to an actual system’s overall performance. With NVIDIA, AMD, and VIA gone from the consortium, Intel is pretty much left alone in the company: now officially."

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Obviously while cutting the grass this morning this is the topic swirling through my head; so thanks for that everyone.  My question is this: does it really matter and how is this any different than it has been for YEARS?  The cynical side of me says that AMD, NVIDIA and VIA all dropped out because each company's particular products aren't stacking up as well as Intel's when it comes to the total resulting score.  Intel makes the world's fastest CPUs, I don't think anyone with a brain will dispute that, and as such on benchmarks that test the CPU, they are going to have the edge.  

We recently reviewed the AMD Llano-based Sabine platform and in CPU-centric tests like SiSoft Sandra, TrueCrypt and 7zip the AMD APU is noticeably slower.  But AMD isn't sending out press releases and posting blogs about how these benchmarks don't show the true performance of a system as the end user will see.  And Intel isn't pondering why we used games like Far Cry 2 and Just Cause 2 to show the AMD APU dominating there. Why?  Because these tests are part of a suite of benchmarks we use to show the overall performance of a system.  They are tools which competent reviewers wield in order to explain to readers why certain hardware acts in a certain way in certain circumstances.  

Continue reading for more on this topic...

Source: PCPer

RAZER cuts the cord on their new Chimaera Gaming Headset

Subject: General Tech | June 21, 2011 - 11:59 AM |
Tagged: audio, wireless audio, headset, razer

RAZER's new headphones are wireless, with three rechargable AAA batteries which are easily accessible so that when they do finally stop holding a charge you can easily get at them to swap them for new ones.  The charging dock is quite well designed, actually giving you something more stylish than a nail to hang your headphones on when they are not in use as well as charging them.  When you are using them you will enjoy interference free quality audio, both sending and receiving, if the review at Mad Shrimps is anything to go by.  They liked this headset more than other wireless sets they have used in the past and compared them favourably to wired sets. 

MS_RazerChimaera.jpg

"The RAZER Chimaera Gaming Headset offers wireless connectivity for maximum liberty of movement, features large cups for confortable wear during long gaming sessions, a uni-directional microphone with a flexible mic boom and an easy to use charging dock."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: Mad Shrimps

You would think a Bulldozer would be easier to spot

Subject: General Tech | June 21, 2011 - 11:38 AM |
Tagged: opteron, interlagos, bulldozer, amd

It might just be that the ISC is the perfect place to show off their new chip or it may have been Intel's displaying of the 50 core Knights Corner silicon yesterday; whatever triggered it we finally get a look at AMD's Bulldozer.  A 1U server by Supermicro contained two 16-core Bulldozer chips though other vendors are claiming to be able to fit a 4 socket system in the same size case.  Those sweet talking wonks over at The Inquirer not only talked their way into getting a few photos of the system they were even allowed to fondle it, which revealed heatsinks that were cool enough to touch even when running POVRay which lends credence to the idea of 4 CPUs, or 64 cores, in a 1U box.  We are still looking at Q3 for a release of the new Opteron architecture, with no news at all as to AMD's plans to turn that architecture into an APU in a later generation of chips.

 

bulldozer-amd-170x275.jpg

What a little chutzpah gets you

"CHIP DESIGNER AMD chose the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) to finally demonstrate a working Bulldozer system.

At AMD's ISC stand one could find several 2U and 4U servers built with older Opteron chips, but it was a 1U pizza box server made by Supermicro that housed two 16-core Bulldozer chips running live demonstrations of POVRay. This is the first time that AMD has publicly displayed its next generation Opteron processor, codenamed Bulldozer."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Su ^u Sudo ^u Vsys: Fire that marketer

Subject: General Tech | June 21, 2011 - 03:33 AM |
Tagged: vsis, sudo, PlanetLab, linux

The Unix-based computer has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to enforcing permission levels upon their users. Back during the infancy of operating systems the idea of permissions did not compute with many of the platform developers. Today it is next to impossible to imagine a modern operating system without some sort of hierarchy of trust. Historically there were various methods of controlling access: first there was “su” which temporarily logged you in as another user; then there was “sudo” which let you just execute commands to another user rather than log in as them; now PlanetLab claims to have a better offering, called “Vsys”.

SUDOKU.png

SUDOKU

Vsys was created to allow finer control over what user is allowed what action. One feature is the ability to create extensions, scripts from executable files, to define what is permissible and what is not. It is apparently possible to permit certain combinations of commands but no other similar combinations. PlanetLab, the creator of Vsys, is a research network headquartered at Princeton University. From the wording of the article it appears as if Vsys was an internal tool developed for their researchers to have more specific access to what was necessary which they now released publicly. While it has been stated that Vsis will not replace sudo for the common user it should be useful for administrators of larger groups of users.

Just Delivered: Drobo FS 5-bay Network Storage

Subject: General Tech, Storage | June 20, 2011 - 09:06 PM |
Tagged: storage, raid, network attached storage, NAS, drobo

Just Delivered is a new section of PC Perspective where we share some of the goodies that pass through our labs that may or may not see a review, but are pretty cool none the less. 

When the time is right for dedicated network storage and you don't want to go through the hassle or complication of building your own FreeNAS or other type of device, one of the best options on the market according to our own Allyn Malventano is a Drobo. 

drobo1.jpg

For an upcoming review we just received a new Drobo FS, the network attached version of the Drobo lineup.  Available in both a standard and a "Pro" model, the former with 5 bays the latter with 8, they are about as idiot-proof and easy to setup as a NAS can be.

drobo2.jpg

The Drobo FS only has a single connectivity option: the Gigabit Ethernet port for connection to your primed-and-ready router.  Adding or swapping hard drives for larger models is super easy and the "BeyondRAID" technology makes it reliable as well as simple to use. 

drobo3.jpg

We are looking forward to putting the Drobo FS to the test in the coming days and reporting back to you on the performance, features and reliability of it.

Source: Drobo

BAPCo: BUPKIS? AMD, NVIDIA, and VIA exodus

Subject: General Tech, Processors | June 20, 2011 - 04:46 PM |
Tagged: VIA, sysmark, nvidia, bapco, amd

People like benchmarks. Benchmarks tell you which component to purchase while your mouse flutters between browser tabs of various Newegg or Amazon pages. Benchmarks let you see how awesome your PC is because often videogames will not for a couple of years. One benchmark you probably have not seen here in a very long time is Sysmark from the Business Applications Performance Corporation, known as BAPCo to its friends and well-wishers. There has been dispute over the political design of BAPCo and it eventually boiled over with AMD, NVIDIA, and VIA rolling off the sides of the pot.

BAPCO.png

Fixed that for you

The disputes centered mostly over the release of SYSmark 2012. For years various members have been complaining about various aspects of the product which they allege Intel strikes down and ignores while designing each version. One major complaint is the lack of reporting on the computer’s GPU performance which is quickly becoming beyond relevant to an actual system’s overall performance. With NVIDIA, AMD, and VIA gone from the consortium, Intel is pretty much left alone in the company: now officially.

Source: Semiaccurate

Larrabee rides again, almost ... meet Knights Corner the new Many Integrated Core design

Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2011 - 12:11 PM |
Tagged: Intel, mic, larrabee, knights corner, 50 GPGPU

Knights Corner is not exactly Larrabee but the idea behind both are very similar.  A large number of GPGPUs are integrated with a CPU, Intel is using a Xeon core now as opposed to a Pentium; with the GPGPUs hooked up in a similar method to Larrabee's ring of Pentium cores.  The design is proven as they have sold units of the previous generation Kights Ferry and offers a feature that a lot of programmers are going to appreciate; instead of needing to learn a new language like CUDA or OpenCL, standard x86 scalar code is used to program these chips.  This architecture is also expected to scale very well, for as ARM recently pointed out only specific multithreaded applications continue to scale well as more cores are added.   Drop by The Inquirer for more information.

KnightsFerry.jpg

They will likely be sold as PCIe card like the Knights Ferry card pictured above.

"CHIPMAKER Intel has announced its second generation hybrid core technology codenamed 'Knights Corner'.

Knights Corner is Intel's second chip in its Many Integrated Core (MIC) chip line and will feature Xeon X86 cores and more than 50 GPGPU cores loosely based on what was previously known as Larrabee. Knights Corner will be fabricated using Intel's 22nm tri-gate process node beginning in 2012, though the firm would not be drawn on the exact core count at this time."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

D-Link releases WiDi adapter

Subject: General Tech, Displays | June 20, 2011 - 04:03 AM |
Tagged: widi, D-Link

There are a lot of benefits of having a home theatre PC but still one major drawback: having the PC by the TV. Intel has worked hard to find a solution and released the specification under the name “WiDi”, a wireless display specification that lets you share your monitor with an HDTV attached to a wireless receiver box. D-Link has just recently launched their WiDi receiver in the US with Canada coming next month; will WiDi start picking up market share with more capable devices?

DHD-131_front.png

Why do network appliances these days look like pillows?

(Image from D-Link)

The D-Link MainStage (known as DHD-131 to its friends) has only a power cable to its name apart from your choice of video and audio connection to your TV or sound system. For choice of connection you have two video options and three audio options: on the video side you have HDMI for your high-resolution viewing and standard RCA for your standard definition devices; on the audio side you have optical audio or HDMI for surround and white and red RCA for stereo. Apart from a power button and a reset button that is the whole of this unit.

DHD-131_back.jpg

Plastic case with on/off butty. Baby got back shots.

(Image from D-Link)

One thing that typically holds back other implementations of WiDi that I have seen, and I assume this is no exception, is latency. The slight lag when controlling a media program or browsing a website is acceptable however it would really hold back the use of a PC as a console replacement unless the video card is directly connected to the TV which is a definite shame but to be expected given the bandwidths over WiFi that we are talking about. If you happen to be interested in this solution, however, it retails for just under 130$.

Source: HotHardware

US Pentagon To Test Cyber Warfare Tactics Using Internet Simulator

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 20, 2011 - 03:24 AM |
Tagged: simulator, networking, Internet, cyber warfare

Our world is the host to numerous physical acts of aggression every day, and until a few years ago those acts have remained in the (relatively) easily comprehensible physical world. However, the millions of connected servers and clients that overlay the numerous nations around the world have rapidly become host to what is known as “cyber warfare,” which amounts to subversion and attacks against another people or nation through electronic means-- by attacking its people or its electronic and Internet-based infrastructure.

While physical acts of aggression are easier to examine (and gather evidence) and attribute to the responsible parties, attacks on the Internet are generally the exact opposite. Thanks to the anonymity of the Internet, it is much more difficult to determine the originator of the attack. Further, the ethical debate of whether physical actions in the form of military action is appropriate in response to online attacks comes into question.

It seems as though the Pentagon is seeking the answers to the issues of attack attribution and appropriate retaliation methods through the usage of an Internet simulator dubbed the National Cyber Range. According to Computer World, two designs for the simulator are being constructed by Lockheed Martin with a $30.8 million USD grant and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory with a $24.7 million USD grant provided by DARPA.

The National Cyber Range is to be designed to mimic human behavior in response to various DefCon and InfoCon (Informational Operations Condition) levels. It will allow the Pentagon and authorized parties to study the effectiveness of war plan execution as it simulates offensive and defensive actions on the scale of nation-backed levels of cyber warfare. Once the final National Cyber Range design has been chosen by DARPA from the two competing projects (by Johns Hopkins and Lockheed Martin), the government would be able to construct a toolkit that would allow them to easily transfer and conduct cyber warfare testing from any facility.

 

Image cortesy Kurtis Scaletta via Flickr Creative Commons.

 

Sony gearing up for S1 and S2 tablets with ads

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 19, 2011 - 12:22 AM |
Tagged: tablet, sony, S2, S1

We are going to see quite a few Android-based tablets come out in the next few months as the flood gates open for tablet creators. We have been reporting on strong rumors have been pointing to Amazon stepping in the tablet space to extend their Kindle portfolio this fall. Amazon is generally very successful when they decide to step in the market, yet that did not deter Sony from preparing to dive in to the tablet space as well. Sony are preparing to launch a 9-inch tablet and a dual screen 5.5-inch tablet in the autumn and to build hype they have released a video ad campaign to build hype for that event.

This “Two Will” Pass

As you can tell from watching the video, it says little about the product except that they slide really quickly, absolutely love someone, cast ominous shadows, and can kill action figures with lightbulb mind bullets. Sony did mention that this is just the first episode of five so it is possible that their later videos may be more informative. However, if you just want to see what an Echochrome 2-esque city has to do with Android tablet then be sure to watch the next four commercials.

Source: Tom's Guide