Allyn isn't the only one with a Lapdog on his couch

Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2016 - 05:40 PM |
Tagged: RGB, mouse, lapdog, keyboard, gaming control center, couchmaster, Couch, corsair

The Tech Report would like to back Al up in saying that gaming on a TV from the comfort of your couch is not as weird as some would think.  In their case it was Star Wars Battlefront and Civilization V which were tested out, Battlefront as it is a console game often played on a TV and Civ5 as it is not a twitch game and the extra screen real estate is useful.  They also like the device although they might like a smaller version so that keyboards without a numpad did not leave as much room ... perhaps a PocketDog?  Check out their quick review if Al's review almost sold you on the idea.

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"Corsair's Lapdog keyboard tray is built to bridge the gap between the desk and the den by giving gamers a way to put a keyboard and mouse right on their laps. We invited the Lapdog into our living room to see whether it's a good boy."

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If you bought directly from Acer over the past year, double check your spam and email

Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2016 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: acer, security

North American customers of Acer who bought directly from them between May 12, 2015 and April 28, 2016 may have had their credit card numbers compromised.  Their less than secure customer database contained customer names, addresses, card numbers, and three-digit security verification codes all of which have been siphoned off at least once.  If this breach effected your account Acer will be sending a notification to you, you can see an example at The Register if you want to be sure you are receiving a valid notification.  For those who have seen fraudulent charges already this will be too late to mitigate their pain but anyone who used Acer's online shop during that time period would do well to get their cards changed.

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"Acer's insecure customer database spilled people's personal information – including full payment card numbers – into hackers' hands for more than a year."

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Source: The Register

Must have been a good Computex

Subject: General Tech | June 16, 2016 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: computex 2016, gx700, avalon, asus

The Tech Report must have been a little worn down by Computex, which is not uncommon as that week long show will take out even the heartiest of individuals.  Nevertheless they have managed to compose both themselves and a roundup article of everything they officially witnessed during the show.  They did pick up some unique photos such as the innards of the ASUS Avalon modular desktop PC as you can see below.  They also snapped a photo of the twin 330W power supplies required for the watercooled ASUS GX700 gaming laptop.  There are seven pages in total so grab a beverage and peruse at your leisure.

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"A couple weeks ago, we trekked all over Taipei to take in everything that Computex 2016 had to offer. Come with us and see the state of the PC in 2016, as interpreted by dozens of companies both small and large."

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Podcast #404 - Crucial MX300, E3 hardware news, GTX 1080 Shortages and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 16, 2016 - 11:43 AM |
Tagged: XPoint, xbox one, void, video, Strider, Silverstone, rx 480, rx 470, rx 460, podcast, PHAB2, Optane, MX300, Lenovo, GTX 1080, Egil, crucial, corsair, asus, arm

PC Perspective Podcast #404 - 06/16/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the new Crucial MX300 SSD, news on upcoming Xbox hardware changes, GTX 1080 shortages and more!

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

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Lenovo!

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Josh Walrath

Program length: 1:48:30
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. 0:39:00 Xbox E3 Hardware Discussion
    2. 0:49:50 GeForce GTX 1080 Shortages?
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Ryan: Trackr
    2. Allyn: Safely Remove USB devices (or figure out what’s stopping them)
  4. Closing/outro

Skyrim Special Edition Announced (now with 64 bits!)

Subject: General Tech | June 15, 2016 - 10:01 PM |
Tagged: skyrim, bethesda

On Sunday, Bethesda had their E3 2016 press conference, where they announced a bunch of content that are relevant to PC gamers. One of them was Skyrim: Special Edition. It hasn't been added to their website yet, but it updates The Elder Scrolls V with new assets, shaders, and effects. On the PC, it will be free to anyone who has purchased the base game and all of its expansions.

Even better: it is also compiled as a 64-bit application.

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One of the original Skyrim's limits, specifically for modders, was that it could only address a little over 3GB of system memory before crashing. Worse: RAM usage was interconnected with GPU memory usage, which further limits the number of assets you can actually load. While there are probably still plenty of ways for Skyrim to crash, especially when third-party content is injected, Skyrim: Special Edition will move the solid, 3GB wall.

DigitalFoundry also claims that the engine itself is updated to a newer branch itself, like what was used for Fallout 4. This makes sense, because several effects would be difficult to do on DirectX 9 (like volumetric god rays). Despite the newer engine version, Pete Hines of Bethesda said “basically, yes” when asked whether existing Skyrim mods would be compatible. This suggests that the internal API would be the same for at least the majority of cases. Interesting!

Skyrim: Special Edition will be available on October 28th.

Source: PCGamer
Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: ARM

ARM Releases Egil Specs

The final product that ARM showed us at that Austin event is the latest video processing unit that will be integrated into their Mali GPUs.  The Egil video processor is a next generation unit that will be appearing later this year with the latest products that utilize Mali GPUs up and down the spectrum.  It is not tied to the latest G71 GPU, but rather can be used with a multitude of current Mali products.

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Video is one of the biggest usage cases for modern SOCs in mobile devices.  People constantly stream and record video from their handhelds and tablets, and there are some real drawbacks in current video processor products from a variety of sources.  We have seen the amazing increase in pixel density on phones and tablets and the power draw to render video effectively on these products has gone up.  We have also seen the introduction of new codecs that require a serious amount of processing capabilities to decode.

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Egil is a scalable product that can go from one core to six.  A single core can display video from a variety of codecs at 1080P and up to 80 fps.  The six core solution can play back 4K video at 120 Hz.  This is assuming that the Egil processor is produced on a 16nm FF process or smaller and running at 800 MHz.  This provides a lot of flexibility with SOC manufacturers that allows them to adequately tailor their products for specific targets and markets.

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The cores themselves are fixed function blocks with dedicated controllers and control logic.  Previous video processors were more heavy on the decode aspects rather than encode.  Now that we have more pervasive streaming from mobile devices and cameras/optics that can support higher resolutions and bitrates, ARM has redesigned Egil to offer extensive encoding capabilities.  Not only does it add this capability, but it enhances it by not only decoding at 4K but being able to encode four 1080p30 streams at the same time.

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Egil will eventually find its way into other products such as TVs.  These custom SOCs will be even more important as 4K playback and media become more common plus potential new functionality that has yet to be implemented effectively on TVs.  For the time being we will likely see this in mobile first, with the initial products hitting the market in the second half of 2016.

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ARM is certainly on a roll this year with introducing new CPU, GPU, and now video processors.  We will start to see these products being introduced throughout the end of this year and into the next.  The company certainly has not been resting or letting potential competitors get the edge on them.  Their products are always focused on consuming low amounts of power, but the potential performance looks to satisfy even power hungry users in the mobile and appliance markets.  Egil is another solid looking member to the lineup that brings some impressive performance and codec support for both decoding and encoding.

New from the creator of X-COM; Phoenix Point

Subject: General Tech | June 15, 2016 - 02:19 PM |
Tagged: gaming, xcom, phoenix point

The turn based strategy and base management of X-COM will survive in Phoenix Point but from what was revealed by Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN you may not survive that long.  It is not just the mutated victims of the alien virus you need to be wary of but also your fellow surviving humans as there are several faction with very different and incompatible survival strategies.  The mutated enemies will not be broken down into distinct and repetitive races, instead they will evolve as you try to defeat them.  Sniper heavy tactics could result in aliens with reinforced front facing armour the next time you deal with them, use grenades and the next wave you face may be resistant to fire.  The game sounds very complex but it is not due for release until 2018 so there is plenty of time for them to make this game work.  Check out more by following the link.

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"One of the most exciting games in Los Angeles this week won’t be featured at press conferences or on the showfloor. Phoenix Point [official site] is the new tactical-strategy hybrid from Julian Gollop, the creator of the original X-COM, and we met yesterday to discuss its procedurally generated alien threats, simulated human factions and much more."

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A sneak peek at two RX 470 benchmarks

Subject: General Tech | June 15, 2016 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: rx 470, amd, leak, RX 480M

Sharp eyes over at The Guru of 3D spotted some information in a recent press release from AMD that might have been unintentionally released; performance numbers and mention of a AMD Radeon RX 480M.  These benchmarks are internal and so should be taken with a grain of salt but they do offer a glimpse at how the RX 470 will perform. The benchmarks were run on a system comprised of ab i7 5960X, 16GB memory and Radeon 16.20, showing better performance than a R9 270X on three games as well as Firestrike below.  Follow the link for the results they gleaned from the footnotes.

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"In the slide-deck that was released yesterday some benchmark numbers have been, well almost hidden. But they are there. I added them into two charts to check out.

Let me clearly state that the benchmarks have been performed by AMD so we cannot verify quality settings. The scores have been derived from the footnotes of the PDF"

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Source: Guru of 3D

Google's take on the quantum computer

Subject: General Tech | June 14, 2016 - 01:14 PM |
Tagged: google, quantum computing

 IBM, D-Wave and Google are the major players in quantum computing research, with each taking a different route towards developing a Universal Turing Machine using qubits; a machine that can perform all the computations of a traditional processor but at speeds exponentially faster.  Before the research discussed in this article at Nanotechweb, Google had focused on adiabatic solution which is essentially a quantum computer purpose built to solve a particular problem, not a machine capable of performing any data manipulation problem presented.  They have switched tactics have digitized their adiabatic quantum computer to allow for error correction and to allow for non-stoquastic interactions.  This should, in theory, allow for scalability thanks to the unique direction the research is taking.  The reading is rather heavy, especially if you follow the link to Nature but very interesting if you are curious about new methods of developing quantum computers.

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"Bringing together the best of two types of quantum computer for the first time, researchers at Google have created a prototype that combines the architecture of both a universal quantum computer and an analogue quantum computer."

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Source: Nanotechweb

No that is not a toolbox, it's Braven's BRV-XXL portable speaker

Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2016 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: braven, audio, BRV-XXL, Portable Audio

Braven's BRV-XXL is a wee bit bigger than your average portable speaker, 8.2kg (18lbs) and 514x210x241mm (20.25x8.25x9.5") and Techgage conducted some tests to see if it is worth carting around.  Part of that weight is the 15,600 mAh battery, giving 12 or more hours of play and happily charging phones as well.  As well there are four speakers and a subwoofer in the BRV-XXL, offering significantly more range and volume that a more petite portable speaker.  Read on to see if it sounded good enough to offset the encumbrance penalty.

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"Braven is no stranger to portable audio, but its latest creation might be its best yet. Can you really have it all in a portable speaker? Let’s find out if the Braven BRV-XXL can allow us to answer “yes”."

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Source: Techgage