Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2014 - 02:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: win 8.1, microsoft
Windows 8 and 8.1, non-update 1 version, are already essentially EoL with only limited support offered those rare businesses which deployed the new version of Windows. If the rumours that The Inquirer have been hearing are correct then
Service Pack Update 2 will be arrive on August 12th and herald the end of Windows 8.1 updates a mere two years after release. Win 8.1 U2 will probably be with us for a while, the release of Win 9 is rumoured to be about 12 months away still and the Metro version is likely to appear on mobile devices for a while now. It is extremely unlikely that the Start Menu will be included in this update but for those who are running Win 8.1 U1 it is worth considering turning off Automatic Updates if you are worried about encountering boot issues similar to what happened during the initial push of 8.1 U1.
"MICROSOFT WILL RELEASE the second and final update for Windows 8.1 as part of Patch Tuesday in August, rumours have claimed."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash @ The Register
- Spot Welder; Don’t Buy It, Build It @ Hack a Day
- Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers @ The Register
- Netgear R7000 Router & EX6200 Extender Review @ Hardware Canucks
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 20, 2014 - 03:41 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: shield tablet, shield 2, shield, nvidia
In Europe, NVIDIA set up a simple, official page. Its title is "THE ULTIMATE IS COMING | NVIDIA". On it are the words, "The Ultimate Is Coming" as well as a countdown to 9 AM EDT on Tuesday, July 22nd. At the same time, North Americans get "Ultimate Quest", a text adventure game which ends on -- surprise -- Tuesday with a giveaway of "something big" for the first players who finish.
Allegedly leaked slide - Not Official!
All images credit: Videocardz (and they have more).
What is it? It is very likely the rumored SHIELD tablet, especially considering Videocardz has convincing slides which are definitely made in NVIDIA's style. What made SHIELD so unique was its controller form factor (and NVIDIA's software support). According to the slides, the controller will now be a wireless accessory to the base tablet. What will come standard is a stylus, the "DirectStylus 2 with 3D Paint". This seems like an odd addition, unless they have already planned use cases.
Allegedly leaked slide - Not Official!
As for the tablet? The slides claim Tegra K1, 2GB of RAM, 1920x1200 display, 5MP (HDR) front and rear cameras, and a MicroSD card slot. Previously, leaks suggested a 640x480 front-facing camera, which did not make sense to me. With the original SHIELD lacking a camera, it seemed very odd to relaunch with a bad one. 5MP, especially if it is a good sensor, is much more reasonable (especially for the front-facing one).
Allegedly leaked slide - Not Official!
The leaks also suggest interesting price points, especially for such a powerful tablet. These details can change at a moment's notice, though, so I won't really acknowledge it (apart from embedding the slide below). They do seem to be targeting the end of the month for North America, or middle August for Europe, which is a very quick launch. Then again, it is ready enough to be a prize for a contest which ends on Tuesday.
Allegedly leaked slide - Not Official!
I except we will see how much of this, if anything, holds up on Tuesday.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | July 19, 2014 - 05:13 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: quakecon 2014, quakecon, id, crytek
Tiago Sousa was "Lead R&D Graphics Engineer" at Crytek, according to his now defunct Twitter account, "@CRYTEK_TIAGO". According to his new Twitter account, "@idSoftwareTiago", he will be joining id Software to help with DOOM and idTech 6.
A little less DOOM and gloom.
I find this more interesting because idTech 5 has not exactly seen much usage, outside of RAGE. Wolfenstein: The New Order was also released on the technology, two months ago. There is one other game planned -- and that is it. Sure, RAGE is almost three years old and the engine was first revealed in 2007, making it seven-year-old technology, basically. Still, that is a significant investment to see basically no return on, especially considering that its sales figures were not too impressive (Steam and other digital delivery services excluded).
Happy to announce i'll be helping the amazingly talented id Software team with Doom and idTech 6. Very excited :)
— Tiago Sousa (@idSoftwareTiago) July 18, 2014
I also cannot tell if this looks positive for id, after mixed comments from current and former employees (or people who claim to be), or bad for Crytek. The latter company was rumored to be hurting for cash since 2011 and saw the departure of many employees. I expect that there will be more to this story in the coming months and years.
Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2014 - 04:12 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, espn, DOTA 2, DOTA
eSports? Did someone say sports? ESPN is there. DOTA 2 is one of the most popular PC Games, #2 in Raptr's listing, and currently the most played Valve game (by more than a factor of two over Counter-Strike: GO). The International 2014 is their fourth multi-million dollar tournament. This year's prize pool of almost $11 million USD.
And ESPN is broadcasting it on TV through their ESPN3 channel. On Sunday, the second-last day of the tournament, ESPN2 will air "Live from The International" at 11:30 PM EDT (UTC-4). This will have match highlights, discussion, interviews with players, and an interview with Gabe Newell. The tournament will host its grand finals the next day, on ESPN3.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | July 19, 2014 - 03:29 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, maxwell, mobile gpu, mobile graphics
Apparently, some hardware sites got their hands on an NVIDIA driver listing with several new product codes. They claim thirteen N16(P/E) chips are listed (although I count twelve (??)). While I do not have much knowledge of NVIDIA's internal product structure, the GeForce GTX 880M, based on Kepler, is apparently listed as N15E.
Things have changed a lot since this presentation.
These new parts will allegedly be based on the second-generation Maxwell architecture. Also, the source believes that these new GPUs will in the GeForce GTX 800-series, possibly with the MX suffix that was last seen in October 2012 with the GeForce GTX 680MX. Of course, being a long-time PC gamer, the MX suffix does not exactly ring positive with my memory. It used to be the Ti-line that you wanted, and the MX-line that you could afford. But who am I kidding? None of that is relevant these days. Get off my lawn.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | July 19, 2014 - 03:05 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Xeon Phi, xeon, Intel, avx-512, avx
It is difficult to know what is actually new information in this Intel blog post, but it is interesting none-the-less. Its topic is the AVX-512 extension to x86, designed for Xeon and Xeon Phi processors and co-processors. Basically, last year, Intel announced "Foundation", the minimum support level for AVX-512, as well as Conflict Detection, Exponential and Reciprocal, and Prefetch, which are optional. This, earlier blog post was very much focused on Xeon Phi, but it acknowledged that the instructions will make their way to standard, CPU-like Xeons at around the same time.
This year's blog post brings in a bit more information, especially for common Xeons. While all AVX-512-supporting processors (and co-processors) will support "AVX-512 Foundation", the instruction set extensions are a bit more scattered.
|Conflict Detection Instructions||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Exponential and Reciprocal Instructions||No||Yes||Yes|
|Byte and Word Instructions||Yes||No||No|
|Doubleword and Quadword Instructions||Yes||No||No|
|Vector Length Extensions||Yes||No||No|
Source: Intel AVX-512 Blog Post (and my understanding thereof).
So why do we care? Simply put: speed. Vectorization, the purpose of AVX-512, has similar benefits to multiple cores. It is not as flexible as having multiple, unique, independent cores, but it is easier to implement (and works just fine with having multiple cores, too). For an example: imagine that you have to multiply two colors together. The direct way to do it is multiply red with red, green with green, blue with blue, and alpha with alpha. AMD's 3DNow! and, later, Intel's SSE included instructions to multiply two, four-component vectors together. This reduces four similar instructions into a single operating between wider registers.
Smart compilers (and programmers, although that is becoming less common as compilers are pretty good, especially when they are not fighting developers) are able to pack seemingly unrelated data together, too, if they undergo similar instructions. AVX-512 allows for sixteen 32-bit pieces of data to be worked on at the same time. If your pixel only has four, single-precision RGBA data values, but you are looping through 2 million pixels, do four pixels at a time (16 components).
For the record, I basically just described "SIMD" (single instruction, multiple data) as a whole.
This theory is part of how GPUs became so powerful at certain tasks. They are capable of pushing a lot of data because they can exploit similarities. If your task is full of similar problems, they can just churn through tonnes of data. CPUs have been doing these tricks, too, just without compromising what they do well.
Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2014 - 11:37 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: quarterly earnings, GCN, financial results, APU, amd
Today, AMD posted financial results for its second quarter of 2014. The company posted quarterly revenue of $1.44 billion, operating income of $63 million, and ultimately a net loss of $36 million (or $0.05 loss per share). The results are an improvement over both the previous quarter and a marked improvement over the same quarter last year.
The chart below compares the second quarter results to the previous quarter (Q1'14) and the same quarter last year (Q2'13). AMD saw increased revenue and operating income, but a higher net loss versus last quarter. Unfortunately, AMD is still saddled with a great deal of debt, which actually increased from 2.14 billion in Q1 2014 to $2.21 billion at the end of the second quarter.
|Q2 2014||Q1 2014||Q2 2014||Q2 2013|
|Revenue||$1.44 Billion||$1.40 Billion||$1.44 Billion||$1.16 Billion|
|Operating Income||$63 Million||$49 Million||$63 Million||($29 Million)|
|Net Profit/(Loss)||($36 Million)||($20 Million)||($36 Million)||($74 Million)|
The Computing Solutions division saw increased revenue of 1% over last quarter, but revenue fell 20% year over year due to fewer chips being sold.
On the bright side, the Graphics and Visual Solutions group saw quarterly revenue increase by 5% over last quarter and 141% YoY. The massive YoY increase is due, in part, to AMD's Semi-Custom Business unit and the SoCs that have come out of there (including the chips used in the latest gaming consoles).
Further, the company is currently sourcing 50% of its wafers from Global Foundries.
“Our transformation strategy is on track and we expect to deliver full year non-GAAP profitability and year-over-year revenue growth. We continue to strengthen our business model and shape AMD into a more agile company offering differentiated solutions for a diverse set of markets.”
-AMD CEO Rory Reed
AMD expects to see third quarter revenue increase by 2% (plus or minus 3%). Following next quarter, AMD will begin production of its Seattle ARM processors. Perhaps even more interesting will be 2016 when AMD is slated to introduce new x86 and GCN processors on a 20nm process.
The company is working towards being more efficient and profitable, and the end-of-year results will be interesting to see.
Also read: AMD Restructures. Lisa Su Is Now COO @ PC Perspective
Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2014 - 05:16 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: open-source, open source, fbx, epic games, Blender
Blender, probably the most popular, open source 3D creation suite (sorry Wings!), was given a healthy donation of $13,500 USD by Epic Games. According to the tweet from Ton Roosendaal, Chairman of the Blender Foundation, this is intended to support FBX development, which is becoming the industry standard method of importing and exporting 3D models, skeletons, animations, and so forth. It is also for "epic-game-style navigation controls" (not sure what this is -- Unreal Editor-style controls maybe??)
EpicGames donates 10k euro (13.5k usd) to Blender Development Fund. Is support for more FBX work + epic-game-style nagivation controls. #b3d
— Ton Roosendaal (@tonroosendaal) July 5, 2014
FBX support would definitely be a welcome area of development. It exists, but not at the level of other 3D applications, because those could link directly to Autodesk's library. The format is owned by Autodesk after they acquired Kaydara in 2006. Its closed-source SDK was put under a license that was incompatible with Blender and its public documentation was non-existent. Since then, the Blender community has been working on reverse-engineered support. They have come a long way, the exporting from Blender and importing into Unreal Engine 4 is apparently reasonable, today. Of course, with Epic's focus on the indie developer, $13,500 seems like a good investment to help it continue.
Beyond its status as the default import format into Unreal Engine 4.x, FBX is also standard in many different modeling applications. While it is fairly easy to move around most base, polygonal geometry (and UVs to properly apply materials to them) from suite to suite, the same cannot be said for animation data, and so forth. FBX was designed to be a single pipeline for all of that.
Hopefully, Blender can become a first-class citizen.
Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2014 - 03:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: zip drive, powerpc, IBM, apple
Ah, sweet nostalgia. It seems like only a short while ago that Apple was saved by IBM, and Motorola, granting access to the PowerPC chips which were near the top of the field back in 1991. The Motorola 68K was falling behind the Pentium MMX chips in PCs and Apple needed some way to compete in the market and the 200-MHz 603e PowerPC was the answer. Now history is repeating itself with a partnership between IBM and Apple to bring iPhone apps to the enterprise, with apps specifically for enterprise environments as well as updates to existing apps to make them more enterprise friendly. Read up on your history, or refresh your memories of times gone by as well as what this partnership will bring in the future on Slashdot.
"Apple and IBM, which just announced partnership to bring iOS and cloud services to enterprises, have helped each other before. IBM played a key role in turning the Macintosh into a successful hardware platform at a point when it — and the company itself — were struggling. Nearly 25 years ago, IBM was a part of an alliance that gave Apple access to PowerPC chips for Macintosh systems that were competitive, if not better performing in some benchmarks, than the processors Intel was producing at the time for Windows PCs."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Imagination launches a tiny GPU for the next generation of wearable technology @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft announces 18,000 job cuts with Nokia to bear the brunt @ The Inquirer
- Gust catches Amazon's skirt, reveals glimpse of 'Netflix for books' @ The Register
- Price cuts, new features coming for Office 365 small biz customers @ The Register
- Nanoxia EU Joint Giveaway @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2014 - 12:54 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Z97-WS, video, quakecon 2014, quakecon, podcast, flash voyager gtx, corsair, asus, 760T
PC Perspective Podcast #309 - 07/17/2014
Join us live from Quakecon 2014 as we talk about the ASUS Z97-WS, Corsair Flasy Voyager GTX and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Morry Tietelman
Week in Review:
0:06:00 ASUS Z97-WS Motherboard Review
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