AMD is out and ARM is in for several major notebook vendors

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 22, 2011 - 04:05 PM |
Tagged: arm, amd, texas instruments, snapdragon, amazon, tegra

It is not just AMD which is forging a new relationship with ARM, which we saw evidence of during the AMD Fusion Developer Summit, several other manufacturers are making good on previous statements made while waiting for AMD, and are going to be selling ARM based notebooks.  These companies are not on the fringe of the market, these are major vendors like ASUS which are releasing quad-core ARM based notebooks which will use SnapDragon, Tegra or TI for the graphics portion.  DigiTimes has the scoop here, as well as news on a tablet which will be released by Amazon running an unspecified TI processor which we should see by August.

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"Several vendors, including Samsung Electronics, Toshiba, Acer and Asustek Computer, plan to develop ARM architecture notebooks, with products possibly to be launched as early as the end of 2011, according to industry sources.

The sources pointed out that ARM-based systems using Android were already launched under the smartbook name two years ago with Toshiba and Lenovo both launching products in the retail channel. However, due to weaker than expected demand, the related products were soon phased out of the market.

Since ARM's CPU has already been upgraded from single-core two years ago to quad-core with a significant increase in performance, while the platform's storage capacity has also seen significant improvements, and an enhanced user interface, ARM is already capable of launching notebook products that are able to run for a long period of time, and if the price is attractive, there is a great chance for the products to create a brand new market segment in the IT industry.

Asustek has already made plans to launch a 13-inch ARM-based notebook adopting Nvidia's processor with Android.

The sources pointed out that there are already several brand vendors reportedly set to launch ARM-based notebooks with prices lower than US$299 to compete for market share and the vendors' processor choices include Nvidia's Tegra, Qualcomm's Snapdragon and processors from Texas Instruments."

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Source: DigiTimes

Microsoft updates Skydrive, teases me personally

Subject: General Tech, Storage | June 22, 2011 - 02:26 AM |
Tagged: skydrive, microsoft

There are a number of reasons for which someone would desire to have their data accessible from the internet and there are a number of services that provide that capability in many different ways. If you are looking to collaborate on a small project with automatic syncing then you will probably find your way to Dropbox. If you are looking to access your music collection from your variety of devices then you will probably like Amazon or Google’s music lockers. Should you be looking to migrate a business to a really large online storage system then Amazon S3 might be worth hooking into. If you are a home user who wishes to store and share your photos, documents, and videos with friends and family then Microsoft recently updated their Skydrive service to help users like you; it should be available to you right now.

Why start the video from the desktop, Microsoft? A guy has feelings you know.

One feature I wished that Microsoft would have implemented to Skydrive at some point over the last few years is an easy method to map your Skydrive account to a drive letter on your computer. Sadly this feature is still not present in Skydrive. What are present are features to make Microsoft’s service look much more user friendly and much more like a native application. Their new photo browser looks quite a bit like their Windows Phone 7 tile interface with photos shown in their original aspect ratio fitting together like a puzzle. There is also a nice looking content browser that slides both pictures and videos across a viewing screen with thumbnails below for selection. With features like these with a focus on cross-browser support it is obvious that Microsoft is looking to be your family’s content hub and prevent Facebook from getting that much more powerful in this space.

What do you use, if anything, to share content with friends and family?

World's first 7-inch Android 3.2 tablet

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 21, 2011 - 10:58 PM |
Tagged: Huawei, CommunicAsia, Android 3.2

There seems to always be a trade show going on at some corner of the ellipsoid world particularly at this time of the year. Down in Singapore the CommunicAsia 2011 exhibition is on until the 24th and news is starting to trickle out about advancements in communication technology. If you were holding your breath until Android reached version 3.2 on devices you can almost finally exhale, if you are still conscious because you can at best hold your breath for like 8 minutes and Android products are not that quick to ship. Yet.

Seventh floor… going up… ... WHAMMY BAR!!!

Huawei announced on the 21st that they are releasing a 7-inch tablet based on Android’s 3.2 release. The tablet will feature a dual-core 1.2 GHz processor from Qualcomm but no mention of how much system RAM it will contain as it still allegedly depends on partners. The capacitive touchscreen will be IPS-based at a 217 PPI pixel density. After a little trigonometry: a 7-inch screen will have a resolution somewhere between 1280x720 and 1366x768 if its pixel density is 217 pixels per inch. The unit itself is capable of outputting 1080p to an external display through HDMI. There are currently no details towards a price, but Huawei stated that there are no plans for a Wifi-only version. The unit is expected to ship in the third quarter of this year.

Source: Engadget

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

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 21, 2011 - 06:36 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 - 03:59 PM |
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. 

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"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."

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Source: Mad Shrimps

You would think a Bulldozer would be easier to spot

Subject: General Tech | June 21, 2011 - 03:38 PM |
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.

 

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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."

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Source: The Inquirer

Su ^u Sudo ^u Vsys: Fire that marketer

Subject: General Tech | June 21, 2011 - 07:33 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”.

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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 21, 2011 - 01:06 AM |
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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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 - 08:46 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 - 04:11 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."

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Source: The Inquirer