Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 16, 2015 - 01:34 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: water cooling, SFF, Fiji, E3 2015, E3, dual fiji, amd
AMD revealed a new liquid cooled small form factor PC called Project Quantum during an E3 livestream today.
On the outside, an angled dual compartment aluminum case with rounded edges houses the processing hardware in the bottom and all the cooling components in the top part. AMD is using liquid cooling for the processor and graphics with the tubing running up the center column joining the two pieces together to a radiator or radiators. Red LEDs light up the center column while Radeon R9 branding sits in the bottom left corner.
While at first glance that Radeon R9 branding might be unassuming, it is actually referring to AMD's latest Fiji architecture. That's correct, Project Quantum is part of the Fiji product family and is, in fact, powered by two AMD Fiji-based graphics procesors!
Update: AMD has posted a behind-the-scenes video on the development of Project Quantum which you can watch below.
In the video, AMD reveals that they are using a modified ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac motherboard (thanks to djotter in the comments for pointing that out) which means that Project Quantum is using an Intel Haswell processor in addition to the two Fiji-based GPUs. AMD has removed all of the rear IO connectors save two USB 3.0 ports and an Ethernet jack. They have also moved the 8-pin CPU power connector to the back panel of the board next to the USB ports. My guess is that they did this for cable management and height restriction reasons within the bottom compartment. Specifically, from the CAD render shown in the video, it appears that the AMD graphics card sits horizontally on top of the motherboard which meant that at least some of the rear IO ports had to be removed or relocated.
Another bit of information from that AMD video is that Project Quantum is using what looks like an external power supply. The power brick connects to the system over a single cable to an internal board. This board provides power to a Pico PSU that is plugged into the ATX 24-pin connector on the motherboard and provides power to the AMD branded Solid State Drive (SSD) as well as the motherboard and CPU 8-pin connectors (which have both been modified to right angles for height and cable management reasons). The internal power board that connects to the socket at the back likely also powers the Radeon graphics card via PCI-E connectors, but it is difficult to tell from the photo (it is that red PCB towards the top of the photo).
Interestingly AMD has switched out the power and USB 3.0 headers with right angle models and removed the blue ASRock heatsinks covering the VRMs and PCH. AMD is instead using two large waterblocks to cool the components on the motherboard and graphics card. A large radiator and pump sit in the top compartment cooled by an 180mm Enermax Apollish fan. The 180mm radiator should result in quieter, or at least less annoying, fan noise since the large fan can spin slower while moving similar amounts of air as smaller fans paired with 120 or 140mm radiators. Using a single large radiator for both the CPU and GPU is an interesting choice here, and I think a correct one.
A rendering of the water loop layout on Project Quantum. Image from AMD with annotations by Aibohphobia.
It was actually djotter and Aibohphobia in the comments who spotted the Pico PSU and provided an example. (I did not notice that in the video initially, so thanks for pointing that out!) This power brick and tiny Pico PSU setup would certainly help to explain how AMD was able to make Project Quantum so thin (though an external PSU isn't necessarily a bad thing). The Pico PSU does suggest that the dual Fiji GPUs may be closer to lower end R9 Nanos than two high end Fury Xs (heh) or maybe some other yet unannounced cut-down Fiji chip entirely.
(End of update)
During the PC Gamer E3 Twitch stream, AMD CEO Lisa Su showed off Project Quantum, and Ken was able to snap a photo of the back panel.
Project Quantum has, from left to right, a single power input (see above), two analog audio jacks, two USB 3.0 ports, an Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet jack, four USB 2.0 ports, and a single horizontal PCI slot. A Radeon R9 graphics card is installed in this slot and features three DisplayPort and one HDMI 1.4 video outputs. We still do not know all the specs of this card, but is is Fiji-based and supports LiquidVR along with AMD's other features including FreeSync and Frame Rate Target Control.
(End Update 9:30PM)
Beyond that, we do not know many details on Project Quantum. From the other announcements around Fiji today, particularly the R9 Nano and R9 Fury X, this little machine is going to be a powerhouse with impressive power efficiency and performance per watt – especially for its size!
Of course, pricing and availability were not discussed at the event. Stay tuned to PC Perspective as we get more details closer to its official release!
Subject: General Tech | June 16, 2015 - 12:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: IBM, photonics
Almost a year ago IBM put $3 billion into research on developing and enhancing their existing photonics technology and putting it onto chips. The Register has heard of their recent success in creating an integrated silicon photonics transceiver chip with multiplexed wavelengths, allowing multiple signals to be sent simultaneously without interference allowing the incredibly high bandwidth. The example given to demonstrate what 100Gbps means is downloading an HD movie in 2 seconds, not too shabby at all. The demonstration model exists, a big first step in photonic technology but we won't see it mass produced for a while yet. This is a good first step in finally getting rid of copper and moving on to a new medium for data transfer.
"IBM last month claimed a breakthrough in photonics – the practice of using light pulses rather than electrons to quickly send signals in chips."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Carbon-60 and graphene for vertical transistors @ Nanotechweb
- Top 10 Linux and Android Hacker SBCs of 2015 @ Linux.com
- The Words That Indicate Malicious Domain URLs @ Slashdot
- Microsoft finally finishes its PowerPC emulator @ The Register
- Hackers serve password manager LastPass a slice of irony @ The Inquirer
- Prevent Failed Prints With A Filament Speed Sensor @ Hack a Day
Subject: General Tech | June 15, 2015 - 01:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: non-volatile RAM, Nantero, NRAM, STT-MRAM, RRAM, memristor, hp, Panasonic, toshiba
Non-volatile memory technology is now at a turning point where we find out which technology will be doomed to be BETAMAX and which will carry on to become the VHS equivalent; hopefully that analogy is not too accurate as VHS was not the better of the two. Allyn discussed the reasons why the market is looking for a new technology back in 2012 and his predictions that NAND still had some life in it have been proven over the past few years but we are seeing new limitations with the current technology.
In the past we have covered HP's Resistive RAM, also called a Memrisitor, which has been in development for many years but has finally appeared in some Panasonic microcomputers which control sensors. STT-MRAM, spin transfer torque magnetoresistive random access memory, is Toshiba's project and while we still haven't seen any product it has been in development for more than 3 years and news of prototypes should arrive soon. Lastly is NRAM, nano-RAM so named for the use of carbon based nanotubes in its design which is being developed by Nantero.
It is Nantero which is in the news today, having secured $31.5 million in funding this year, triple what they have seen in previous years according to the numbers The Inquirer has. This particular technology offers densities in the terabytes per chip, storage which requires no active power source once written to and data retention of over 1,000 years at 85 degrees Celsius. The speeds should match those expected from STT-RAM but at a fabrication price closer to the much lower cost RRAM; don't hold off buying your next SSD but do not think that market is going to get boring any time soon.
"It got $31.5m in an over-subscribed round to continue developing its nanotube-based non-volatile RAM (NRAM) semiconductor technology, which it says has DRAM read/write speed and is ultra-high density – think terabits."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- AMD's Next Generation Graphics Architecture; The Recipe for Success @ Hardware Canucks
- Linux Mint 17.1: Simplicity at Its Best @ Linux.com
- Microsoft, IBM and ARM back new centralised patent ownership database @ The Inquirer
- Bethesda Unveils New Doom Game, Announces Dishonored 2 @ Slashdot
- Windows Server 2003 end of life is less than a month away @ The Inquirer
- Hey kids, who wants to pwn a million BIOSes? @ The Register
- ISP Level 3 goes TITSUP after giganto traffic routing blunder @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2015 - 01:14 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: hbm, leak, fury x, amd, Fiji, radeon, 390x
The rumours are flying today, with some purportedly leaked performance results of AMD's upcoming Fiji XT based card, the Fury X. The leak at Videocardz shows the results of 3DMark's Firestrike Ultra and Extreme for an AMD Radeon Graphics Processor in single card configuration and Crossfire results for Extreme only. The results show a card that can keep up with the Titan X and by extension the new GTX 980 Ti as well. At 1440p resolution, the Firestrike Extreme benchmark, the new AMD card seems to lag slightly behind NVIDIA in single and dual GPU configurations, but not by much while in the Ultra test at 4K the AMD GPU pulls ahead, likely thanks to the new HBM-1 memory.
They also claim to have a source who has run the new GPU though the CompuBench suite which gives us more information about the general architecture. The tests show a card with 64 Compute Units, which translates into 4096 Stream Cores if it is designed similarly to current Radeons. The tests also confirm the 1050MHz core clock and more interestingly the 4GB of HBM-1 will be clocked at 500MHz memory clock with a 4096-bit bus, which is good news for those who like their resolutions as high as they can go. Nothing is confirmed yet but these numbers bode well for the new Radeon architecture if they are true.
(Image credit: VideoCardz.com)
Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2015 - 12:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Android, blackberry, google, rumour
Could this Reuters' story that Slashdot linked to possibly be correct? A phone with a physical keyboard using Blackberry hardware with an Android OS? The fact that you have been able to set up the Google Play store on BB10 devices for a while now is well known and lends credence to the rumour but it would represent a huge change for the long suffering smartphone company. Blackberry opened up BBM to all phones, which did not generate much interest and the company has also announced that it will make some of its proprietary security feature available to iOS, Android and Windows phones which makes their devices a little less unique. A slider style phone with a keyboard that is natively Android is interesting but just how likely is this to restore Blackberry as a player in this highly competitive market?
"BlackBerry is considering equipping an upcoming smartphone with Google Inc.'s Android software for the first time, an acknowledgement that its revamped line of devices has failed to win mass appeal, according to four sources familiar with the matter."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- AMD Fiji, HBM and product ‘rebadging’ @ Kitguru
- Windows 10: Microsoft offers devs a direct interface to anti-malware @ The Inquirer
- OpenSSL releases seven patches for seven vulns @ The Register
- Google's super-AI boffin, Bilderberg nobs, and a secret Austrian confab @ The Register
- 4 new twists that push the hacker attack on millions of US govt workers into WTF land @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2015 - 01:49 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: silent pc, mid-tower, computex 2015, computex, be quiet!, be quiet
Be Quiet unveiled the Silent Base 600 at Computex last week which is the company's second PC case. It is a smaller, quieter, and cheaper version of the existing Silent Base 800 while maintaining the same design and emphasis on noise reduction. Available in September, Be Quiet! is offering this mid tower case in both a side panel and windowed version at $99 and $115 respectively.
The Silent Base 600 is black with angled edges and a brushed metal front panel. It sits on four case feet that lift it up slightly to improve airflow. A panel on the front hides three 5.25" bays while the front IO sits along the top edge and two large vertical grilles act as front intakes. The side panel(s) have an adjustable height vent to increase or decrease airflow. A fan can be attached to the side panel (the window version of the case does not have vents) and users can adjust the intake around the edges of the vent to balance airflow and noise. Two Be Quiet! Pure Wings 2 fans come pre-installed (one 120mm in the rear and one 140mm front intake fan) and users can additionally install up to two 120/140mm fans up top, one 120mm side panel fan, one 140mm bottom mounted fan, and an extra 140mm front intake fan for a total of seven fans (or six if you opt for the windowed model). Be Quiet provides removable filters on all the intakes which is a nice touch.
Check out Gamer's Nexus for more photos from be quiet!'s Computex booth!
Front I/O on the Silent Base 600 includes two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, two audio jacks, and an integrated fan controller. Be Quiet! continues to emphasis noise reduction with the inclusion of sound dampening material in the side panels, rubber mounts for the tool-less drives, and rubber mounts for the included fans to reduce vibration noise.
The Silent Base 600 will be available in black, silver, and orange colors. The color options get you accents around the front grilles and rubber cable management grommets in your chosen color among other color tweaks.
Internally, the Silent Base 600 has room for ATX motherboards, bottom mounted power supplies (290mm max), CPU coolers up to 170mm tall, and up to 400mm long graphics cards. Storage is handled by three 5.25", three 3.5", and two 2.5" drive bays. Other features include three rubber grommets to support external water cooling radiators, grommets in the motherboard tray to help with cable management, an optional fan controller to control an additional three fans, and seven PCI expansion slots should you be so inclined.
In all, it looks like a good base for an extremely quiet PC though I would have liked to see 360mm radiator support so that I could finally upgrade my case and move my radiator inside (heh). I'm looking forward to the reviews and seeing how well the noise reduction tweaks work.
Jimmy Thang (from Maximum PC) was able to check out the new case at Computex 2015 and you can watch their video with Chris from be quiet! on YouTube.
What do you think about Be Quiet!'s new mid tower case?
Subject: General Tech | June 11, 2015 - 03:03 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: input, gaming mouse, mousepad, ozone, neon, boson
The Ozone Gaming Boson mousepad is not fancy, nor is it expensive at $10. It easily rolls up for travel as it is very slim and flexible, or it could be hand for someone who doesn't want a fancy mousepad but would like to protect their desks. The Neon mouse is the far more interesting part of the review at Techgage, as you can see in the picture it is perfectly symmetrical which makes it appropriate no matter which of your hands is dominant. Considering the right handed bias in most gaming mice it is nice to see a product which works for anyone and at $50 it is quite affordable. You can see how well it performs and get an idea of the software which allows you to customize your mouse in the full Techgage review.
"Ozone Gaming might be an unknown player in the gaming peripheral market, but there’s no doubt it’s a solutions provider with ambition. Today we take a look at two of its products, the Boson mousepad and the Neon gaming mouse. Read on for our review on this Ozone Gaming tag team."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Ozone Neon Precision Laser Mouse Review @ OCC
- Func MS-2 Gaming Mouse Review @ HiTech Legion
- Logitech MX Anywhere 2 Wireless Mobile Mouse Review @ Techgage
- Thermaltake POSEIDON Z FORGED Keyboard @ Benchmark Reviews
Subject: General Tech | June 11, 2015 - 01:18 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: security, vpn, hola, fud
If you are using the free VPN service from Hola you really need to find a different solution. Not only has it been plagued with security vulnerabilities, some of which they have addressed and some of which even they admit still exist, you will also unwittingly be providing exit nodes and bandwidth for anonymous surfers. To add insult to injury, those users pay $20/GB to Hola for use of your bandwidth and you will never see a penny of that. Hola's ILuminati service allows you to surf the net anonymously by directing their traffic over anyone using the free VPN, or as they refer to it an unblocking service, so not only is your bandwidth being used, you have no idea what traffic is actually exiting through your VPN.
That is pretty much the exact opposite of a private network and depending on what is being done and how well the traffic is monitored you could well find yourself embroiled in an investigation you had no idea you were opening yourself up to. Check out more on this story at The Register.
"Embattled "free" VPN provider Hola is facing criticism over its practice of turning its users into exit nodes in a paid-for anonymisation service which can easily be used for nefarious activities. Hola's software is also claimed to include "unpatchable" vulnerabilities allowing takeover of user machines."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft to Linux users: Explain yourself @ The Register
- A 16 Petaflop Cray: The key to fantastic summer barbecues @ The Register
- Mozilla to pay $10,000+ for 'novel' exploits in Firefox bug bounty overhaul @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | June 11, 2015 - 12:15 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Z97-Pro Gamer, video, valve, tonga, Steam Controller, Seiki Pro, seiki, r9 390x, podcast, MasterCase, hawaii, Fiji, coolermaster, computex, amd, 4k
PC Perspective Podcast #353 - 06/11/2015
Join us this week as we discuss the Seiki Pro 4k Display, More News from Computex, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:16:25
Subject: General Tech | June 11, 2015 - 04:00 AM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: stainless steel, racing wheel, racing pedals, racing h-gear shifter, logitech, leather, G920, G29, G27, force feedback, aluminum
PC peripherals are a fickle market for companies. Some products get replaced and updated in a very short period of time, while others remain relatively stable and the product line lasts for years. Logitech has laid claim to one of the longest serving products in the peripheral field with the G27 racing wheel. This product has proven to be a popular accessory for those wishing to race on a variety of platforms with a clutch, stick shift, and a force feedback wheel. For the time it was a rather expensive part that reached the $400 mark at introduction, but has eased down to the mid-$250US range. Five years is a long time for such a product, but the overall design and quality of the G27 has insured its place as one of the better buys of this decade.
The G29 has a unique layout of buttons, d-pad, and a 35 position rotary knob.
Time passes and all things must change. The G27 has lost some of its luster as compared to some of the latest products from Thrustmaster and Fanatec. We are now in the midst of a resurgence of racing titles from a variety of sources, some of which are emerging from relatively unknown developers and veteran studios alike. Assetto Corsa, Project Cars, DiRT Rally, and F1 2015 plus a variety of paid and F2P titles are vying for racer’s attention in this very verdant environment of software titles. We must also not forget the new marketplace opened up by the PS4 and Xbox One. Logitech, in their quest to gain the hearts and loyalties of gamers has renewed their push into this marketplace with a variety of Gaming products. Today we get our first look at the two latest entries from Logitech into the racing wheel world.
Today Logitech is announcing their latest two editions to the high end racing accessory market. The G29 has been leaked and covered, but the G920 is a new revelation to the world. The G29 is aimed at the PS3 and PS4 market and will be available for purchase in early July of this year. The G920 is the Xbox One and PC model that will be released this Fall. The models differ with their button layout, but they are both based on a lot of the same technology that powers the force feedback experience in modern racing games.
The pedals are not as colorful as the G27 (it had red accents), but it looks nearly identical to the older part. Stainless steel pedals plus a clutch.
The base unit features a dual motor design with helical gears rather than belt driven. The helical gears should result in less backlash as compared to a belt design which can stretch and distort the feeling of the wheel. The shaft of the wheel features solid stainless steel bearings so that wear and tear should be kept to a minimum. The shifters and pedals are also made of stainless steel so that these high-wear parts will work for years without issue.
The wheel itself is made of hand-stitched leather over a plastic and aluminum framing. The wheel also features a LED light rev indicator that reports to users when to shift at redline. The clamping system allows the wheel to be used on desks as well as driving stations through either a clamp or bolts. The three pedal stand is of a decent weight and of course features a clutch pedal that many competing products do not have.
The G920 is a bit more minimalist in terms of button layout. This wheel does not feature the rev/shift LEDs that the G29 has, and this is due to how the consoles address hardware. Apparently it is just not feasible for the XBox One to do this.
The G29 and G920 differ in their button layout, but both feature the three pedal set and paddle shift setup. As compared to competing products from Thrustmaster and Fanatec at this price point, there is no ability to swap out wheels with the base unit. For example both Thrustmaster and Fanatec offer a variety of wheels that can be interchanged with the hub with the gearing and force feedback hardware. Both of those companies have a great amount of flexibility with accessories that can be swapped in and out. This of course comes with a significant price. The competing Thrustmaster set has F1 and other wheels that cost anywhere from $150 to $250, while Fanatec will allow a user to customize their setup for the low, low price of $1,000US plus.
The G29 and G920 include the wheel and three pedal setup as stock at $399.99. If a user wants to include a 6-speed manual shifter, then it will cost an extra $59.99US. That particular product is configured as an H pattern shifter, but it is not included in the base package for the G29 or G920.
The G920 pedals are essentially identical to the G29 unit.
It is great to see the G29 available in an early July timeframe, but it is slightly disappointing that the G920 will not hit the market until this Fall. As a die-hard PC gamer it will be a few months before I can get hands on the G920 and put it through its paces. The racing wheel market is not overly large as most users rely on gamepads, joysticks, and keyboards for their racing needs. As such, we do not see refreshes on a regular basis as compared to keyboards, mice, and other devices. It is great to see Logitech addressing this market with new products that bring new features.
Edit: According to the Logitech website, the G29 CAN be used with a PC as long as the users has the Logitech Gaming software installed.