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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Gaming

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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Tech Talk

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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Tech Talk

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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Audio Corner

Source: Techgage

You can HaaS Surface; Microsoft now considers it a service

Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2016 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, surface

Microsoft now offers the perfect thing to run software you don't really own on; you can run your rented OS and applications on a rented Surface Book, Surface Pro 4 or Surface 3.  As per the usual industry practice they don't refer to it as renting, but rather Hardware as a Service.  The plans are available as 18, 24 or 30 month memberships, with a "Complete for Business Extended Service Plan with Accidental Damage Protection" which sounds rather impressive as it claims to cover high velocity impacts and coffee disasters.  The Register has more information on the deal here.

The default Surface Book will run you $109/month @ 18 months or $80/month if you sign up for 30, or $1500 to buy it outright.  Interesting idea, fad or a money grab that will make Adobe green with jealousy?

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"First Microsoft turned Office into software-as-a-service. It's currently transforming Windows into Windows-as-a-service. And now it's decided that its Surface Pro typoslab should become Surface-as-a-service, to help businesses buy more of the hybrid machines."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft's guide on how not to to win friends and influence people

Subject: General Tech | June 10, 2016 - 03:47 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, pc sales

IDC is predicting a drop in PC sales this year and put the majority of the blame on Microsoft and it's new OS.  The free upgrade has not driven PC sales higher as HP and others predicted in either the consumer or business market segments.  That is not the whole picture of course, as there are also economic factors involved as exemplified by a similar drop in sales of phones and tablets.  You can follow the link from The Inquirer for a more indepth look at this drop and the causes for it from IDC and Gartner.

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"That's according to forecasts by analyst outfit IDC, which claims that PC shipments will fall by 7.3 per cent year on year, around with growth in the market now forecast at two per cent below its earlier predictions for 2016."

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Source: The Inquirer

Basemark Releases Basemark Web 3.0 with WebGL 2.0

Subject: General Tech | June 10, 2016 - 01:50 AM |
Tagged: Basemark, webgl, webgl2

Basemark has just released Basemark Web 3.0, which includes WebGL 2.0 tests for supporting browsers. No browsers support the standard by default yet, although it can be enabled on Firefox and Chrome with a command-line flag.

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WebGL 1.0 has become ubiquitous, but it is based on quite an old version of OpenGL. OpenGL ES 2.0 was specified all the way back in March 2007. While it simplified development by forcing everyone down a programmable shader pipeline, it has quite a few limitations. OpenGL ES 3.0 remedied many of these, such as allowing multiple render targets and texture compression. OpenGL ES 3.1 added compute shaders, which brings us pretty much to today. In fact, Vulkan targets OpenGL ES 3.1 hardware (should the hardware vendor provide a driver).

WebGL targeted OpenGL ES 2.0. WebGL 2 targets OpenGL ES 3.0.

Of course, this means that the WebGL 2.0 base standard does not support compute shaders, which is a bit of a drag. It's something that they really want to incorporate, though, but they still can't seem to decide whether it will align with a new version of WebGL (such as WebGL 2.1) or be incorporated in a multi-vendor extension.

So where are we today?

Well, WebGL 2.0 is still a little ways off from being everywhere. As we mentioned, only Firefox and Chrome support the standard, although WebKit is working on it, too. Microsoft has WebGL 2.0 listed as “Under Consideration” with a “Roadmap Priority” of Medium, “Development is likely for a future release.” One major hold up was its shader support. Again, OpenGL ES 3.0 shaders are much more complex than OpenGL ES 2.0 ones, and many WebGL browsers convert OpenGL ES 2.0 shaders to HLSL for DirectX on Windows. This circumvents lackluster graphics drivers, and it adds an extra, huge layer of complexity for someone who wants to write malware. It's not sufficient to know of a driver bug with a specific shader string -- you need to trick the transpiler into outputting it, too.

But, again, we're slowly inching our way there.

Source: Basemark

A pretty pair of peripherals from Corsair; the K65 RGB and M65 Pro RGGB

Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2016 - 04:39 PM |
Tagged: input, corsair, K65 RGB, M65 PRO RGB, gaming mouse, mechanical keyboard, Cherry MX

If you love lights and are searching for a new mouse and keyboard, perhaps ones that would fit on your lap, then drop by Benchmark Reviews for a look at the Corsair M65 PRO RGB Mouse and Corsair K65 RGB RAPIDFIRE Keyboard.  Both of these peripherals are made of aluminium and use CUE LINK to power their light shows, the keyboard able to show off a bit more than the mouse which has only 8 keys.  These devices both scored highly, take a peek at the review to see if you want to get your hands on them.

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"Instead of the laser sensor seen in the previous model, Corsair has included the PixArt PMW3360 optical sensor with a maximum DPI of 12000. There is also a weight system for adjusting the weight and a dedicated sniper button, which can be assigned to serve various functions."

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Podcast #403 - Fractal Define S, Corsair Lapdog, Pascal dropping 3+4 way SLI game support, EVGA SLI HB's, and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2016 - 02:21 PM |
Tagged: Wit.nes, video, technology, SSD 750 M.2, sli, podcast, GTX 1080, gtx 1070, GP104 laptop, Fractal Nano S, fan speed fix, EVGA SLI HB, Corsair SF

PC Perspective Podcast #403 - 06/09/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the Fractal Define S, Corsair Lapdog, Pascal dropping 3+4 way SLI game support, EVGA SLI HB's, 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:  Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:19:54
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
      1. This is actually in the Mirror’s Edge Driver!
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Sebastian: Clean install Windows 8.1 or Windows 10
  4. Closing/outro