Subject: General Tech | February 8, 2014 - 07:26 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows xp, windows, microsoft
Windows XP will be end-of-life in just 59 days and Microsoft is concerned. They want to enlist their blog readers as tech support who encourages the upgrade to Windows 8.1 directly, or by the purchase of a new PC. Of course, they are not going to provide any incentive or discount. They just hope that a little peer pressure is all they need.
I will not beat someone up for being a dreamer, but...
The security nightmare is real, however. It is expected that attackers are hoarding vulnerabilities until after April 8th, when open security holes will remain without patch. Some customers will be allowed paid extra support, apparently at the price of $200 per PC for a year. Of course, this is common practice and can limit the number affected by the rumored malware apocalypse.
Then again, I expect that plenty of those machines are already ripe with infection.
Microsoft seems to be hoping that the exodus from Windows XP will land in Windows 8.1 and solve two problems at once. Windows 7 is still available in devices and resellers who stocked up on old installation media, both in spite of Microsoft (rather than endorsed).
For the rest of us, sit back and watch. I will make a crazy prediction and claim that, sometime between now and June, Microsoft should flinch in some way. It could be the re-introduction of Windows 7, some promotion or discount for retailers or system builders, or whatever.
I think they will be disappointed by April.
Subject: General Tech | February 8, 2014 - 02:08 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Razer Edge, razer
If you have spent the last year eyeing the Razer Edge 64GB and Edge Pro 256GB gaming tablets, now might be your time to pounce. Amazon is knocking $300 (30%) off of the 64GB version as well as $350 (24%) off of the 256GB one. This puts their prices at $700 and $1100, respectively.
The tablets have fairly decent internals, considering their price points. Both contain the comination of Intel HD4000 integrated graphics backed by an NVIDIA GT 640M LE discrete GPU (albeit the Pro version seems to have an extra gigabyte of vRAM). The Pro includes a dual-core Core i7 CPU, with hyper-threading, while the non-pro includes an i5. The Pro has 8GB of RAM, and the non-pro has 4GB. I probably would have little use for this device but, then again, I am a desktop guy.
The accessories, such as the gaming controller case and the docking station, unfortunately seem to remain at full price. Since they seem to be a sizable "point" of the Edge, that could slightly sour this price reduction.
Like most Amazon deals, it is anyone's guess when or if prices will go back up.
Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2014 - 02:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: seattle, Opteron A111, opteron, arm, amd
The Inquirer had a chance to hear more about the upcoming Opteron A111 which contains an ARM Cortex A57. We now know it runs at 2GHz, can address up to 128GB of RAM and has enough channels for 8 drives to be connected to it. While the chips will be able to operate in tandem with traditional x86 server chips the reduction in power needed and heat produced could mean Opteron based servers could be as small as a cellphone. We also know that they will be running on a specially flavoured version of Fedora, read on to see what else was revealed by Ian Drew.
"CHIP DESIGNER AMD has spilled some more details about its first ARM based server processor."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Just how solid is cloud storage in 2014 @ The Register
- Broken Age and the Kickstarter factor @ The Tech Report
- The Android Experiment: Wearables and satnav @ The Inquirer
- Omate TrueSmart Smartwatch Review @ Madshrimps
- Make a cool be quiet! wallpaper to win amazing hardware! @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2014 - 01:18 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: TSMC, IBM, GLOBALFOUNDRIES
Well this is something which I expect they will not sell to Lenovo...
IBM, one of the world's most advanced chip fabrication companies with the capability to manufacture on a 22nm node, is looking to sell this division. According to The Financial Times, via Ars Technica, the company selected Goldman Sachs to seek options. They are primarily looking for interested buyers but would also consider finding a business partner to offload the division into a joint venture.
The two initial candidates are GLOBALFOUNDRIES and TSMC.
Image Credit: IBM via ZDNet (Outside photographers are not allowed inside their fab lab).
IBM is not willing to get rid of its chip design ability. IBM creates many chips, often based on its own "Power Architecture". This trademark comes with their RISC-based instruction sets which rival ARM and x86. It forms the basis of the Xbox 360, the Cell processor found in the PS3 (and rarely elsewhere), and the last three Nintendo game consoles starting with the Gamecube.
Despite designing all of the above chips, only some were actually fabricated by IBM.
Personally, I am not sure how serious the earlier mentioned potential buyers are. It could have easily been someone who looked at the list of leading foundries and picked the top two. TSMC is not even a member of "the Common Platform" alliance, not to mention how small IBM is compared to them, so I cannot see much reason for TSMC to bother.
GLOBALFOUNDRIES is a different story, It would make sense for them to want that part of IBM (Josh notes they even share some resource centers). Still, the both of us wondered if they could afford the deal. ATIC, parent company of GLOBALFOUNDRIES, might be able to get the money from somewhere - but would they? They purchased Charter only just recently. Now, if they simply enter a partnership with IBM, that might be a different story than an outright purchase.
Fabrication is hard and expensive. Creating a foundry is about $10 billion, give or take a few billion depending on yield, and changing your equipment for new nodes or wafer sizes is not much cheaper. I can see IBM, a company that is increasing concerned with high profitability, wanting to let someone else deal with at least some of the volatility.
IBM has not commented on this rumor.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 7, 2014 - 03:54 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: sli, crossfire
I will not even call this a thinly-veiled rant. Linus admits it. To make a point, he assembled a $5000 PC running a pair of NVIDIA GeForce 780 Ti GPUs and another pair of AMD Radeon R9 290X graphics cards. While Bitcoin mining would likely utilize all four video cards well enough, games will not. Of course, he did not even mention the former application (thankfully).
Honestly, he's right. One of the reasons why I am excited about OpenCL (and its WebCL companion) is that it simply does not care about devices. Your host code manages the application but, when the jobs get dirty, it enlists help from an available accelerator by telling it to perform a kernel (think of it like function) and share the resulting chunk of memory.
This can be an AMD GPU. This can be an NVIDIA GPU. This can be an x86 CPU. This can be an FPGA. If the host has multiple, independent tasks, it can be several of the above (and in any combination). OpenCL really does not care.
Obviously, to be fair, AMD is very receptive to open platforms. NVIDIA is less-so, and they are honest about that, but they conform to standards when it benefits their users more than their proprietary ones. I know that point can be taken multiple ways, and several will be hotly debated, but I really cannot find the words to properly narrow it.
Despite the fragmentation in features, there is one thing to be proud of as a PC gamer. You may have different experiences depending on the components you purchase.
But, at least you will always have an experience.
Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2014 - 03:22 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Starcraft II, esports
Movie studios are beginning to take video game tournaments seriously. MLG secured an ad deal with Relativity to promote their movies across its channels. Lionsgate, a more scrappy company known mostly for Michael Moore films until they took a risk on The Hunger Games, decided to one-up them and sponsor a whole tournament.
Actually, about three tournaments.
The first tournament will be run by Twitch and commentated by Nathanias and by NASL's RotterdaM and MrBitter (NASL is the company responsible for broadcasting WCS America since Season 2, 2013). It will have a $7,000 prize pool to be split among its 16 competitors. The tournament will be called, "Twitch Ender's Game on Blu-ray Tournament". Catchy.
Just a couple of days later, MLG will host the aptly titled, "MLG GameOn Ender's Game on Blu-ray Tournament". Its casters will be Team ROOT's Destiny and Catz, which is quite odd because both are competitors in the first tournament run by Twitch. Its prize pool is not yet announced. Other notable players include Scarlett, MajOr, MaSa, and Hitman.
The third "tournament" is actually a showmatch between the winners of each previous tournament. The two contestants will play a series against one another for a 70/30 split of $10,000 dollars.
It makes sense. The cost of running a StarCraft II tournament, including the prize pool, is probably significantly lower than most other ad campaigns. It just takes a company to think outside the box enough to actually do it. Lionsgate, of all the major film studios, is essentially the underdog as we alluded to earlier. Let's see how effective it is.
The Twitch tournament is currently on now and will run until February 9th. The MLG half will begin on the 11th. The Championship showmatch will be streamed by Twitch on February 22nd.
Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2014 - 02:20 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: call of duty
Call of Duty games have been developed by two main teams: Infinity Ward and Treyarch. Fans of Intel will appreciate the Tick Tock schedule where each led the development of alternating games. A third company, Sledgehammer, helped out a bit with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 after Infinity Ward practically imploded.
Such things happen when executives are terminated and armed security guards occupy your office.
Activision's recent announcement now claims that Sledgehammer Games will create their own Call of Duty titles in an arrangement I can only describe as "Tick Tock Tuck" (my term, not theirs). My only hope is that we will see a fourth studio join this arrangement and become, according to the ordered set of vowels, "Tyck". Of course, if I learned anything from elementary school grammar, they will only sometimes release a game.
Yes, I know "w" is also sometimes a vowel.
Activision intends to keep Call of Duty titles on the same pipeline approach as always, just with a third stage. Part of this could be due to increased development costs as a larger computation budget demands extra art assets and effects. On a related note, some sites are pointing to the issues with Battlefield 4 (seriously, with all of the buggy DICE games in the last ten years, why pick on this one?) and claim that Activision could avoid those problems with a little extra polish time. On the other hand, extra time does not necessarily mean anything. Dedicating an extra team means a lot less than dedicating 50% more man-hours of development per game. Are they?
Speaking of which, how many more games does Call of Duty have left in it? With this setup, whenever sales actually begin to slump, they will have a third game in the pipe to eat development costs of. Sure, they could probably release it and have some recovery. This was the year that Call of Duty: Ghosts failed to outsell its predecessor. It does feel odd to seemingly expand, right now.
The next Call of Duty will probably be announced around E3 and released this holiday season.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | February 7, 2014 - 01:30 AM | Scott Michaud
There is actually a bit more to the title's pun than meets the eye. Amazon has just purchased Double Helix Games, the video game company which resulted from a merger between The Collective and Shiny Entertainment (or whatever was left of them). Their most recent title was Killer Instinct for the Xbox One.
The Amazon Cauldron gag, now extra Shiny.
Snarkiness aside, the obvious question is: "Amazon, why are you purchasing a game developer?"
While Amazon is stating that they are simply building innovative games for customers, the rumor mill believes it is more than that. Beyond having an Android-based marketplace, various sources are reporting that Amazon is expecting to develop a sub-$300 gaming console based on that platform. It certainly sounds reasonable. It would give Amazon's video and audio services a controlled set-top box as well as a portal to their Android Appstore. Beyond that, it would not require much extra research and development. It would be a sensible next step.
That said, Amazon has already been developing games for a little while. Their current portfolio could easily be classified as, "2D". The acquisition of Double Helix could simply be a play for games with a little more... depth. Yes, I should feel bad for that pun. No, I do not.
Finally, all 75 of the employees will keep their jobs, according to TechCrunch. Their paychecks will now have an Amazon logo on them, and that is about it. Don't you love it when you can report on a merger or acquisition and not feel bad about it?
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 6, 2014 - 08:54 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, radeon, R7 250X
The AMD Radeon R7 250X has been mentioned on a few different websites over the last day, one of which was tweeted by AMD Radeon Italia. The SKU, which bridges the gap between the R7 250 and the R7 260, is expected to have a graphics processor with 640 Stream Processors, 40 TMUs, and 16 ROPs. It should be a fairly silent launch, with 1GB and 2GB versions appearing soon for an expected price of around 90 Euros, including VAT.
Image Credit: Videocardz.com
The GPU is expected to be based on the 28nm Oland chip design.
While it may seem like a short, twenty Euro jump from the R7 250 to the R7 260, the single-precision FLOP performance actually doubles from around 800 GFLOPs to around 1550 GFLOPs. If that metric is indicative of overall performance, there is quite a large gap to place a product within.
We still do not know official availability, yet.
Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2014 - 04:21 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ssd, hdd, corsair
The Corsair Blog has been publishing several really interesting articles, lately. In January, they wrote an editorial which quantifies the benefits of modestly overclocking CPU, GPU, RAM, and all of the above. Their benchmarks showed which tests favored what type of component.
This time, they look at the benefits of SSDs. Their Neutron Series GTX 240GB SSD was compared against a 3TB WD Black HDD (which is decent drive). To get into the campaign, they measured an SSD requiring a little over two minutes while the HDD took a little over two-and-a-half minutes. Multiplayer was much more significant: an SSD made it in game in 42 seconds while the hard drive took 69 second. That is a whole 40% faster.
Most importantly, getting into the game a whole 27 seconds earlier gives you first pick at vehicles. The game keeps them briefly locked to allow users to connect but, as is usual for Battlefield games, there is still an advantage for people with fast hard drives. Battlefield 2 was the unspoken benefit of purchasing a Western Digital 10,000 RPM Raptor drive, way back in 2006. You joined in as soon as you loaded which could mean nearly half of a minute to get your vehicle and go.
Shhh. Don't tell anyone.
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