CES 2015: MediaTek MT2601 Low-Power SoC for Wearables

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2015 - 08:04 PM |
Tagged: smartwatch, mt2601, mediatek, ces 2015, CES

When you start getting into the wearables market, even mobile SoCs can be somewhat big and power-hungry. As such, we are seeing more innovation in processors that satisfy these lower classes (which could just be us paying more attention). The MediaTek MT2601 is one such device, which combines a pair of ARM Cortex-A7 cores (1.2 GHz) with an ARM Mali 400MP GPU (intended frequency unknown) on a package PCB that is less than 480mm2. (Edit @ 9:48PM -- they seem to mean the SoC and other chips, like the Bluetooth module)

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MediaTek's release does not list fab nodes, but PDAdb.net claims that it is designed for 28nm.

Of course, these chips are designed to be low cost, low power, and whatever performance can be squeezed out of those two requirements, so it might not be the most interesting SoC that we can talk about. Still, battery life has been a major hindrance to smart watches and other small, niche devices. It will be interesting to see new-generation devices that use these components.

Heck, if I had more time, I might even want to hack around with these directly.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

How much power do you need to become one of The Crew

Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2015 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: gaming, the crew, 60fps

If you want to jump into the new massively multiplayer racing game called The Crew you are going to need to accept either 30fps or with a bit of tweaking 60fps, that is the hard limit and that 4k 144Hz monitor you just bought will be quietly crying as you play.  In a way that does not matter as neither the GTX 980 or R9 290X could handle maximum graphical settings at 4k resolution with AntiAliasing enabled.  SLI and Crossfire do both work and will allow you to max out your framerate to the 60fps ceiling but is unnecessary for anyone who is gaming at a resolution below 4k.  NVIDIA is the better choice for those who want to play this game, you will benefit from several of their new features including FXAA which [H]ard|OCP witnessed providing a much less costly solution than 4x MSAA

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"The Crew is a new racing game that takes place in a massively multiplayer open-world environment like no other game. It supports some NVIDIA GameWorks technologies, and we will see how it performs on no less than eight different video card combinations to gauge real world gaming performance across the board."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Get Office on your Android

Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2015 - 01:09 PM |
Tagged: android 4.0, Android 5.0, arm, microsoft

The closed beta for the Office Suite is over and now anyone with an ARM powered Android device running versions 4.x or 5.x can install the non-pared down version Office for Android though you want to make sure your device is between 7" to 10".  This is somewhat sad news as it deflates the dreams of those hoping to use NVIDIA's Shield as a desktop replacement and also excludes the new and more powerful Bay Trail tablets.  Office on Android is still in beta so this is not a final product and the support for processors may expand as the we approach release, with no firm date for the final release there is reason to expect support could expand to Bay Trail at the least.  There is also no price although as The Inquirer points out, the iPad version is free to use.

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"MICROSOFT HAS ANNOUNCED the expansion of its beta programme for Android tablet versions of its Office productivity suite."

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Source: The Inquirer

CES 2015 Podcast Day 3 - FreeSync Impressions, Broadwell NUCs, Intel Compute Stick, Storage News and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2015 - 03:15 AM |
Tagged: video, CES, ROG Swift, podcast, pg27aq, patriot, nvidia, nuc, Intel, g-sync, freesync, dp1.2a +, Corsais, Computer Stick, Broadwell, asus, amd, adata, adaptive sync

CES 2015 Podcast Day 3 - 01/06/15

CES is almost over for us, but we have plenty to talk about. Join us for our FreeSync Impressions, Broadwell NUCs, Intel Compute Stick, Storage News and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Ken Addison

Program length: 57:31

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Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

Internet Archive Adds Thousands of In-Browser DOS Games

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2015 - 09:24 PM |
Tagged: javascript, dos, pc gaming

Well would you look at that. Archive.org has been working hard to preserve as much art and expression as possible, including some things that you would think are blocked by copyright holders. In this latest initiative, they have included DOS-era games in a JavaScript-based editor. Yeah, most of what I tried are pretty much unplayable, but it's a gigantic catalog none-the-less (over 2000 titles).

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It has some titles like: Aladdin, Duke Nukem 3D, Bust-A-Move, Battle Chess, and Oregon Trail. Some of them, like Bust-A-Move and Aladdin, are not playable for me on either Chrome or Firefox due to low frame rate.

If you have a good PC, feel free to give them a try.

Source: Archive.org

CES 2015: Calyx Audio PaT USB DAC and Headphone Amp for PC and Mobile

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2015 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: mobile, headphone amplifier, DAP, DAC, ces 2015, CES, audiophile, audio

For the audio enthusiasts at CES this year Calyx Audio (Korean maker of audiophile-grade audio components) has a new prototype to show along with last year's Calyx M music player, and for an audiophile product the pricing is very aggressive.

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Render of the Calyx PaT (dimensions in mm)

The PaT is a similar product in some ways as Calyx Audio's existing $199 USB DAC called the "Coffee", but this unit will be much smaller and will cost half as much at $99. And the reduction in price and size is only half of the story as the PaT also works with mobile devices as an outboard DAC/headphone amp. Apple iPhones and iPads will be supported, and Android devices with USB audio-out support as well (probably via USB OTG).

The PaT supports up to 16-bit, 48kHz files (AIF, M4A, PCM, OGG, and MP3) and will also control track playback and volume via hardware control buttons on the unit. The PaT requires no external power or battery, taking what little juice it needs directly from the connection to your mobile device. As for amplification, in typical Calyx fashion even this miniature board is using a discrete class A/B headphone amplifier. Since the PaT relies only on the power passed through the USB connection it is only capable of outputting 0.8 V, which by comparison is slightly lower than an iPhone 5 which outputs about 0.9 - 1.0 V.

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The tiny prototype PaT in action

The PaT may be just a working board at this point, but the company has scheduled the release for February 2015, when the devices will be available in various colors of thin aluminum enclosures.

In the world of computer audio much more attention has been focused lately on advancements in sound, with special shielding and isolation on motherboards, special gold-plated USB ports for DACs, and customizable op-amps a trend. While the market for dedicated sound cards isn't what it once was, high-end PCI-E and USB cards from Creative (Sound Blaster) and ASUS (Xonar) are still widely available. Most of these products are for desktop users, but there is a growing number of portable devices that allow mobile users to experience great sound, too. For myself, great sound means faithful reproduction of 2-channel music, and it's nice to see attention paid to that area without the added effects of digital signal processing (DSP). Calyx seems interested only in engineering products that play back music as close to the source as possible, and I can't argue with that!

The Calyx PaT is scheduled to launch in February for $99, but like most high-end audio components it will take a little research to track it down. The USA distributor of the Calyx brand has a website with product and contact information here.

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Source: Calyx

CES 2015: Razer OSVR Dev Kit, Forge TV Android Gaming Streamer, and Nabu X Fitness Band

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2015 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged: OCVR, VR, virtual reality, razer, google tv, fitness band, ces 2015, CES, nabu x, Forge TV, Android 5.0, lollipop

Razer, maker of gaming peripherals and components, has some announcements today that are a big departure from their previous products.

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First we have the announcement of an open VR standard, the Open-Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) ecosystem. Razer is contributing to this with the OSVR Hacker Dev Kit, "a virtual reality device and open-source software that enables programming for any variety of VR technology". The kit will be shipping in June for $199. There's a lot more information about this new VR platform on the Razer's OSVR page.

Next we have Forge TV, an Android gaming device for the living room that Razer says is "powered by a quad-core processor and gaming-grade graphics", which doesn't sound like your usual streamer.

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Essentially a high-powered tablet in a box, the Razer Forge TV has impressive specs for an Android device:

  • OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 - Quad-Core Krait 450 CPU (2.5GHz per core), Adreno 420 GPU, 2GB RAM
  • Storage: 16GB
  • Connectivity: Wireless 802.11ac 2X2, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.1 + HS
  • Ports: HDMI 1.4, USB 3.0
  • Dimensions: 105mm X 105mm X 17mm

There is a product page up for the Forge TV on Razer's site, but no word on pricing or availability yet.

Finally we have Razer's entry into the popular fitness wearable market, the Nabu X.

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This is compatible with Android and iOS devices and promises "5 to 7 days" battery life per charge. More info from Razer here.

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Source: Razer

It's the most chaotic time of the year

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2015 - 12:53 PM |
Tagged: ces 2015

In the frantic race from one casino to another and from one vendor to another coverage varies between sites depending on who they can meet up with and this is why it is worth taking a peek at The Tech Report's coverage.  They had a chance to look at a variety of monitors such as HP's 4k and 5k offerings, ASUS' 4k and 120Hz displays, Acer's 1440p 144Hz G-Sync display and hope to have a chance to look at the five vendors who will be bringing Freesync to the market.  NVIDIA showed them the Tegra X1 which we reported on earlier as well as their plans to integrate the new processors into carsThermaltake showed them the Pacific RL240 which is a DIY watercooling kit which is rather snazzy when installed and should outperform the AIO coolers which have flooded the market.  Lenovo, ASUS, Acer and other companies showed off mobile devices and more so take a peek at their coverage and come back here soon as there is much more in store.

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"This year's CES has barely begun, but we've already got a cornucopia of news from the show:"

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CES 2015: Corsair USB Flash Drives - Voyager Slider X1, Voyager Slider X2, Voyager GS, and Voyager GTX

Subject: General Tech, Storage | January 6, 2015 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: voyager, usb 3.0, flash voyager gtx, corsair, ces 2015, CES

Corsair has just announced sixteen (!!) USB 3.0 flash drives, across four product lines. The Corsair Flash Voyager Slider X1 is the cheapest per gigabyte and supports read speeds of up to 130MB/s. The Corsair Flash Voyager Slider X2 increases the cost per gigabyte by about 25 to 33 percent (depending on the capacity) and boosts maximum read speeds to about 200MB/s.

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The next pair of product lines are even more high-end. Once again, the cost per gigabyte increases with the Corsair Flash Voyager GS, which has maximum read speeds of about 260MB/s and maximum write speeds of 105MB/s. Finally, the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX is the top model, with read speeds of up to 450MB/s and write speeds up to 200MB/s. The Voyager GTX contains an on-device SSD controller, as did the 2014 model that Allyn reviewed earlier this year.

The product details are as follows (all prices are MSRP in US dollars):

Corsair Flash Voyager Slider X1: 16GB – 256GB at $15 - $150 (0.93 $/GB – 0.59 $/GB)
Corsair Flash Voyager Slider X2: 16GB – 256GB at $20 - $190 (1.25 $/GB – 0.74 $/GB)
Corsair Flash Voyager GS: 64GB – 512 GB at $90 - $400 (1.41 $/GB – 0.78 $/GB)
Corsair Flash Voyager GTX: 128GB & 256GB at $130 & $250 (1.01 $/GB & 0.98 $/GB)

Each of these flash drives are backed by a five year warranty and are available immediately.

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Source: Corsair

CES 2015: TP-LINK AV1200 3-Port Gigabit Powerline Adapter

Subject: General Tech, Networking | January 6, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: tp-link, powerline networking, networking, ces 2015, CES

Powerline networks are not the most popular, especially with advancements in wireless technology, but they are still being actively developed. TP-LINK specifically mentions a few use cases: going through cement or certain soundproof walls, going across metal beams and studs, and going further than is practical under FCC broadcast power limits.

Today at CES, TP-LINK has announced the TL-PA8030 AV1200 Gigabit Powerline networking adapter. This product differentiates itself from previous offerings with “HomePlug AV2 MIMO”, which is an acronym that is normally applied to wireless technology with multiple antennas. It is basically the same thing in this case, because the adapter uses all three prongs.

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Basically, how electrical sockets work is that you have two main prongs, one of which has an alternating voltage applied to it that averages out to about ~115V RMS over a cycle (relative to the other prong). When that wire is connected to a second one, at whatever is considered “neutral” voltage, it creates an electrical current with that drop (or rise) in voltage. A third plug, which is held at the ground's voltage, takes away any excess buildup from friction, wires that are shorted to the case, and so forth.

For this product, this means that one connection will be on the same circuit as a high-voltage, 60Hz signal, and the other will be mixed with ground noise. Keep in mind, the alternative to powerline networking is broadcasting on unregulated, wireless spectrum, so humanity is not afraid to send a signal through some nasty noise. Still, it is good to stop and think about what these engineers have been able to accomplish: broadcasting two signals, down two really nasty (and in different ways) circuits, and combine them for increased performance with multiple devices.

This out of the way, the specifications themselves are brief: it is three Gigabit (1.2 Gbps total) network connections that communicate through A/C plugs. It is backwards compatible with older TP-LINK HomePlug AV adapters (AV1000, AV600, AV500, AV200, and of course other AV1200s).

No pricing information, but TP-LINK is targeting Q3 2015 for this AV1200.

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Source: TP-LINK