Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 13, 2011 - 05:30 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nvidia, GTX560, graphics
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 is due to release on May 17th. As the release date approaches, vast speculation and rumors have flooded the Internet. GeForce.com has stepped up to preview what the card looks like and how it fairs in three soon to be released PC games versus the 9800GT at the popular 1080p resolution. GeForce chose the 9800 GT for comparison because they found the card to be one of the most popular used on Steam. As games are becoming more advanced graphically and 1080p monitors are becoming more popular, they wanted to compare what the GTX 560 is capable of versus a card that many people are familiar with.
While they were unable to share exact hardware specifications and performance numbers (due to NDA), they were able to show what graphics detail settings the card was able to run at 1080p and at least 35 frames per second. The stated "Optimal Playable Settings" for the GTX 560 were then compared to the 9800 GT in three games. These three soon to be released games were each chosen because of their ability to showcase what high resolution, high PhysX detail, and Nvidia Surround looked like. The GTX 560 was able to handle all three of those features with ease, whereas the older but popular 9800 GT ran into issues playing games with those features smoothly. The system configuration they used to test both cards is as follows:
|Motherboard||ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution|
|CPU||Intel Core i7 2600K @ 3.4GHz|
|RAM||8GB DDR3 1333MHz, 9-9-9-24|
|Operating System||Windows 7 x64|
The first game they showcased was Duke Nukem Forever. GeForce states that Duke Nukem will support both NVIDIA 3D and PhysX. The graphics details they were able to achieve with Duke Nukem Forever are:
|Shadows||World & Characters|
|Post Special Effects||On|
The GTX 560 managed to pull off at least 35fps. Conversely, the game was not playable at these settings with the 9800 GT. Specifically, the 3D feature was not practical with the 9800 GT.
Alice: Madness Returns was the second game GeForce showed off. One interesting aspect of Alice is the useage of PhysX. The graphics quality is much improved by the graphics textures and particles added by PhysX, as you can see in the comparison screenshot below.
The GTX 560 managed to run the game at the following setttings:
The 9800 GT that they compared the GTX 560 to was a "slide show" by comparison. The demands of PhysX were especially responsible for the reduced performance. The 9800 GT simply was not capable of processing both high resolution graphics and the high PhysX calculations. The GTX 560 was; however, capable of running the game at maxed out settings (at 1080p).
GeForce finally showcased the GTX 560 running Dragon Seige III. In this test, they utilized 3 monitors in an NVIDIA Surround configuration. The graphical settings that they were able to get out of the GTX 560 included:
|Visual Effects Quality||High|
Their results are as follows:
"On these settings, which were near maximum aside from anti-aliasing which tops off at 16x, the average framerate was again consistently smooth and playable. Here, the ultra-wide experience allowed us to immerse ourselves into some deep dungeon crawling. Unfortunately for the 9800 GT, the GPU in SLI does not support NVIDIA Surround, making it impossible to play at the 5760x1080 resolution. "
The GeForce GTX 560 is reported to be positioned between the Geforce 460 and 560Ti on the NVIDIA side, and the 6870 and 6950 (1GB) on the AMD side. When it comes to 1080p resolution, so far it has been a toss up for many DIY enthusiasts between buying the AMD 6950 (2GB) and the NVIDIA GTX 560Ti for maximum performance. If GeForce's preview holds true for other games, the GTX 560 may well provide an another option for enthusiasts after the bang for the buck price and performance at 1080p resolutions.
As for speculation and rumors on the graphics card's hardware, there have been many floating around the Internet. For example, Tech Connect states that the GTX 560 will feature 336 CUDA cores, 56 Texture Units, and 1GB of GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit bus. Further, Tech Connect maintains that the card is rumored to be priced at approximately $200. From Nvidia's statement that the graphics card will be positioned between the GTX 460 and the GTX 560Ti in terms of performance, the GPU will likely be clocked somewhere between the 675Mhz of the GTX 460 and the 820Mhz of the GTX 560Ti, with the RAM being slightly lower than the GTX 560Ti's 4008Mhz.
Unfortunately, (until the NDA is lifted) only NVIDIA can tell us what the real specifications of the GTX 560 will be, and they are not talking. You can; however, find further details as well as a video of the soon to be released card in action over at GeForce.com, and PC Perspective will have a review up with benchmarks gallore and the official hardware specifications as soon as the NDA is lifted on May 17th.
Will the GTX 560 power your next gaming rig?
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 13, 2011 - 12:05 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Netflix, Internet, Android
It has been a long time coming; however, Netflix Instant Streaming is finally coming to a select number of Android powered smart phones. Engadget has the scoop, stating that
“Netflix explains that while the app is currently limited to phones with ‘requisite playback support,’ it anticipates that many of the ‘technical challenges will be resolved in the coming months,’and that it will be able to ‘provide a Netflix application that will work on a large majority of Android phones.’”
The following phones will be able to use the streaming feature of the Netflix application: HTC Incredible, Nexus One, Evo 4G, G2, and Samsung Nexus S.
While Nitdroid users and owners of older Android phones are currently out of luck, this move by Netflix is a good sign that Netflix on the open source operating system is possible, and can work well.
If you own one of the supported Android phones, you can download the application from the Android Market today!
Subject: General Tech | May 13, 2011 - 11:28 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: pcmark, benchmarking, win7
Well, for one thing the advanced tests have all been renamed to Entertainment, Creativity, Productivity, Computation and Storage replacing the older benchmark names. There will be three flavours, from the already widely available free edition, a $30 Advanced version and the $1000 Professional, with the $30 version being almost the same as the free version barring the lack of advertisements. Techgage is happy that the benchmark takes less time than the previous version as the extra time will add up after a few thousand run throughs.
"Futuremark has launched the latest version of its popular PC benchmarking tool, PCMark, and as its "7" name suggests, it's designed exclusively for use with Windows 7. A couple of notable changes were made to both the test organization of the program, and also its pricing schemes. Join us as we take a quick look to see what's been added or refined."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Call Interception Demonstrated On New Cisco Phones @ Slashdot
- Five Clever Ways To Make Dropbox More Useful @ TechSpot
- ASUS RT-N56U Dual-band Gigabit Wireless-N Router Review @ ThinkComputers
- Windows 7 malware is camouflaged using unicode filename trickery @ The Inquirer
- Nuovoyance and Samsung demo ultra-high resolution touchscreens @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 12, 2011 - 09:32 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: subscription, mobile, Chromebook
Maximum PC recently reported details regarding just what the Google Chromebook subscription will cost for the various models and what each subscription entails. While you can read about the Chromebook and the various subscriptions in this previous article, specific pricing for the subscriptions for each of the launch models are detailed below:
|Enterprise (monthly)||Education (monthly)||
Consumer (no subscription)
|Acer Chromebook (WiFi)||$28||$20||$349|
|Acer Chromebook (3G)||$31||$23||$TBA|
|Samsung Series 5 (WiFi)||$30||$20||$429|
|Samsung Series 5 (3G)||$33||$23||$499|
Futher details that were clairified regarded mobile data and minumum orders. Each subscription will include 100MB of 3G data with those Chromebooks that have 3G hardware. Also, in order to recieve a subscription contract, both businesses and schools must order a minimum of 10 devices.
Just as with cell phone plans, there are early termination fees for those schools and/or businesses that wish to back out of their contracts. Google has stated that the early termination fee will be equal to the remainder of their contract. For example, if a small business has twenty users and five months left on their contract, in order to get out of said contract, the business would need to pay $2800 if their users all had the base Acer WiFi model.
Needless to say, it would be smarter to just ride out the contract (if possible for the institution), because at least then the business would still retain support for the devices versus buying out the contract for the same amount of money and losing all support for their devices. It will be interesting to see if Google will hold businesses and schools to this ETF or if they will renege and change their policy to appear more enticing to the market.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 12, 2011 - 07:40 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: piracy, bsa
Piracy is a sore spot for the entire intellectual property production industry. The infinitely reproducible nature of information creates real challenges for collecting revenue particularly if taken from the mindset of a time where content was much more difficult to copy and theft had to occur for content to be in someone else’s possession.
Slightly NSFW, and Monty Python wouldn't have it any other way.
The Business Software Alliance released last year’s report on software piracy through 2010 and found that piracy has reached the highest level yet. Their report, based on a survey of 15,000 business and consumer PCs (servers were excluded from this survey), claimed that the difference between sales and estimated total dollar value of installed software was $59 Billion.
The sharp increase in piracy shows just how impossible it is to survive in the current mindset of acquiring content for free. Piracy affects content creators both big and small. Analysts fear that a continued mindset of acquiring content for free will devaluate the amount spent on content.
The biggest hurdle towards tackling piracy is confusion between revenue and control. Control is a resource that is not free and implicitly paid for by potential market share. A business model that limits your market without increasingly monetizing the control you gain with that model is a total loss. An unfortunate consequence of this confusion is that lost revenue as attributed to a lack of control rather than a superabundance of it. As Gabe Newell discussed with Tippecanoe Valley High School, businesses need to experiment with their business models because theory cannot necessarily be grafted to any given situation. If you are not seeing what you are expecting, it might be because your expectations are incorrect and you should test the market to determine what you should expect.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | May 12, 2011 - 05:00 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, notebook, msi, computex
VR-Zone reports that MSI is gearing up for a large Computex showing, and will unveil 5 new mobile products to it's existing platforms.
Among the rumored launches are two tablets and three notebooks. On the tablet side of things, both a Tegra 2 and AMD Brazos powered tablet are in the works. The WindPad 100A will be powered by a Tegra 2 SoC and will run Android 2.3 in lieu of Honeycomb due to rumored hardware compatibilities. The AMD Brazos platform brings AMD's fusion processor and graphics to the mobile space. The WindPad 110W, the follow up to the Intel Atom powered 100W, will utilize the Brazos SoC running Windows 7.
As far as notebooks, the gaming lineup, C series, and X series will all see a refresh. The GT683 will be a 15" gaming notebook. The CX480 will update the C series with a rumored 14" form factor. Finally, MSI's thin and light notebook lineup will receive the X460.
VR-Zone further states that "MSI is also said to be losing interest in netbooks due to declining demand and is refocusing on its notebook products as the company is expecting a 10 to 15 percent growth in notebook shipments this year, not taking tablets into account."
Subject: General Tech, Storage | May 12, 2011 - 04:59 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ssd, SAS, ocz, enterprise
OCZ Technology, a leading provider of Solid State Drives, today announced a new line of enterprise drives. The new Serial Attached SCSI SSDs differ from other enterprise offerings by using multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash memory instead of the faster single-level cell chips. Further, OCZ has included it's proprietary VCA (Virtualized Controller Architecture) technology, which provides enterprise customers with TRIM, SMART monitoring, native command queuing (NCQ), tagged command queuing (TCQ), power fail management, and wear-leveling.
Promising up to 64,000 4K IOPS and optimized specifically for enterprise level storage applications, the MLC based Talos drives deliver "advanced application performance, all the necessary enterprise features, and substantial power savings, at a better total cost of ownership." Further, the new Talos drives represent the highest capacity SAS 6Gbps drives available today.
The new drives will be available in both 3.5" and 2.5" form factors, and range from 200 GB to 960GB. They will soon be available to small-to-medium business (SMB) as well as enterprise customers through OCZ's business-to-business channel.
Subject: General Tech | May 12, 2011 - 03:32 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Windows 7, SSD test, performance testing, PCMark 7, Futuremark, benchmark
When it comes to hardware testing, PCMark is a widely known and tested benchmarking suite. Developer Futuremark has now deployed PCMark 7 for WIndows 7 alongside PCMark05 for XP and PCMark Vantage for Vista users.
Designed to test a wide range of hardware from low cost notebooks to high performance gaming systems, PCMark utilizes numerous subsystem tests to provide a final composite score for the computer which can then be accurately compared to other users’ scores.
In the same manner as its predecessor PCMark Vantage, PCMark 7 uses traces of actual Windows’ programs to score a system based on actual usage scenarios. For example, the benchmark suite’s storage tests have been designed to allow both home and business users the ability to compare benchmark scores across systems and upgrades (of the same system). Whether using a solid state drive or a mechanical hard drive, PCMark 7 uses recordings of actions in well known Windows applications, including “Microsoft Word, Windows Live Photo Gallery, Windows Live Movie Maker, Windows Media Center, Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer, Windows Defender (Security Essentials) and even World of Warcraft” to replicate how someone would use the computer in a real world situation. The reasoning behind the use of program traces versus pure synthetic testing is the reliability and benefits of real world comparison. Especially when comparing benchmark scores between a base and upgraded system, synthetic benchmarking can show the potential performance increases; however, program traces can more closely showcase the real world performance increases.
With three versions of the benchmarking suite, there is a version to fit various needs and budgets. The Basic Version, Advanced Version ($39.95), and Professional Version ($995.00) offer increased control over the process. Each can be purchased or downloaded from PCMark.com.
"A benchmark is a highly complex and sophisticated piece of software, yet PCMark 7 is easy to use and requires no specialist knowledge or set up," said Jani Joki, Director of PC Products and Services at Futuremark. "Better yet, PCMark 7 Basic Edition is available as a free download so all PC users can benefit from this industrial strength PC test."
Will you be using PCMark 7 in your next benchmarking run?
Podcast #154 - Intel Z68 Chipset release, Intel SRT SSD caching technogy, OCZ Agility 3 and Solid 3 and more!
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 12, 2011 - 02:30 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: z68, ssd, srt, solid, smart response technology, smart response, podcast, ocz, Intel, agility
PC Perspective Podcast #154 - 5/12/2011
This week we talk about the Intel Z68 Chipset release, Intel SRT SSD caching technogy, the OCZ Agility 3 and Solid 3, Viewer Questions and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano
This Podcast is brought to you by MSI
Program length: 1:15:39
- 0:00:39 Introduction
- 1-888-38-PCPER or email@example.com
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- 0:02:10 Intel Z68 Chipset Review: dGPU and iGPU living together, SSD Caching and Overclocking
- 0:09:40 Intel Smart Response Technology: SSD Caching on Z68 Tested
- 0:30:40 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI
, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
- 0:31:24 Gigabyte Launches World's First Z68 Motherboards With Support for mSATA Intel SLC SSDs and Smart Response Tech
- 0:36:50 Discrete Graphics Card Shipments See Slight Increase Versus Previous Quarter
- 0:40:18 OCZ Technology Announces the Agility 3 and Solid 3 SATA III Solid State Drives
- 0:43:17 Intel Atom Processors Will Not Use Intel Graphics, PowerVR GPUs Planned
- 0:46:59 Rumors point to Apple moving to ARM processors for future notebooks
- 0:53:30 Email from TK about server memory
- 0:58:24 Email from Ralph about SRT and SSD sizes
- 1:01:26 Email from Jesse about hyperthreading
- 1:06:04 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- 1:14:55 Closing
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 12, 2011 - 01:52 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mobile, laptop, Chromebook
First there was the laptop. Then the notebook. The netbook is the most recent addition to mobile devices with hardware keyboards. That is, until today. Google has officially launched a new cloud OS based mobile device dubbed the ChromeBook.
As a netbook with an operating system that amounts to little more than a web browser, the device purports to not only match the functionality of a "normal" netbook, but surpass it thanks to file storage residing in the cloud, automatic updates to the OS, virtually unlimited applications, and an eight second boot time.
Google further states that the device is capable of all the promises feats while remaining secure. Security is accomplished by several independent strategies. The OS splits up system settings and user settings, and each ChromeBook allows only one "owner" per device. The owner is able to allow other users to log in to the device as well, whether it is with their Google account or as a guest. Guest Mode does not sync or cache data, and all system settings are kept out of the session, including network configuration. Each process is sandboxed in an effort to reduce the likely hood of cross-process attacks. Further, the browser and plugin processes are not given direct kernel interface access. Toolchain hardening seeks to limit exploit reliability and success. The file system has several restrictions, including a read-only root partition, tmpfs-based /tmp, and User home directories that can not have executable files.
Further, ChromeBooks utilize a secure automatic update system and Verified Boot that seeks to eliminate attacks tampering with the underlying code. All updates are downloaded over SSL, and are required to pass various integrity checks. The version number of updates is not allowed to regress, meaning that only updates with a version number higher than those already installed on the system are allowed to install. Further, on the next boot-up, the updates undergo a further integrity check in the form of what Google calls "Verified Boot."
According to Google, Verified Boot "provides a means of getting cryptographic assurances that the Linux kernel, non-volatile system memory, and the partition table are untampered with when the system starts up." The process depends on a "chain of trust" which is created using custom read-only firmware rather than a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) device. The read-only firmware checks the integrity of the writable firmware, and if it passes then the writable firmware is used to check the integrity of the next component in the boot up process. While Verified Boot does not protect against dedicated attackers, it does allow a safe recovery option when re-installing as well as detecting changes made by a successful run-time attack and files or write-able firmware changes made by an attacker with a bootable USB drive.
In future iterations of the OS, Google is pursuing driver sandboxing as well as implementing a secure method for auto-logins. Further, Google states that they are interested in pursuing biometric security if they are able to ensure their authentication software is secure when using low cost hardware. Also on the agenda is implementing a "single signon" system that would allow users to log into third party sites using credentials generated by their Google account.
Hardware running Chrome OS is not new, however. Google's CR-48 notebook has been in the wild for months, allowing thousands of users the chance to try out the new operating system and its accompanying hardware. Both Acer (11.6", $349) and Samsung (12.1", $429 wifi only) have stepped up to the plate and are offering ChromeBooks at launch. What is new; however, is the way in which users are able to purchase the hardware. While consumers will still be able to purchase a ChromeBook from retailers, Google has announced a new subscription option for school and business users. The new subscription service would allow students to receive a ChromeBook for $20 a month, while business users would pay $28 a month. In order to get the subscription price schools and businesses must enter into a three year contract. The subscription price includes the "hardware, operating system, updates and cloud-based management" along with online, email, and telephone support directly from Google. The monthly subscription further includes regular hardware refreshes.
It is apparent that Google sees its largest market for ChromeBooks as being large businesses and schools, which can then manage a fleet of ChromeBooks for their users for a much lower cost versus maintaining hundreds of traditional computers. While large IT departments are likely to see the cost benefits, It remains to be seen how consumers will react to this subscription based model. Subscriptions have become more prevalent, with the majority of the US using cell phones with monthly contracts. On the other hand, users --students especially-- are used to buying a computer outright. Will the lure of low cost subscription ChromeBooks be enough to break consumers' traditional thoughts on purchasing computers? Will students accept remotely administrated computers in exchange for a low cost subscription?