Moore's Law Is Fifty Years Old!

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | April 19, 2015 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: moores law, Intel

While he was the director of research and development at Fairchild Semiconductor, Gordon E. Moore predicted that the number of components in an integrated circuits would double every year. Later, this time-step would slow to every two years; you can occasionally hear people talk about eighteen months too, but I am not sure who derived that number. In a few years, he would go on to found Intel with Robert Noyce, where they spend tens of billions of dollars annually to keep up with the prophecy.

Intel-logo.png

It works out for the most part, but we have been running into physical issues over the last few years though. One major issue is that, with our process technology dipping into the single- and low double-digit nanometers, we are running out of physical atoms to manipulate. The distance between silicon atoms in a solid at room temperature is about 0.5nm; a 14nm product has features containing about 28 atoms, give or take a few in rounding error.

Josh has a good editorial that discusses this implication with a focus on GPUs.

It has been a good fifty years since the start of Moore's Law. Humanity has been developing plans for how to cope with the eventual end of silicon lithography process shrinks. We will probably transition to smaller atoms and molecules and later consider alternative technologies like photonic crystals, which routes light in the hundreds of terahertz through a series of waveguides that make up an integrated circuit. Another interesting thought: will these technologies fall in line with Moore's Law in some way?

Source: Tom Merritt

Google Chrome Team Commits to XP Throughout 2015

Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: windows xp, windows, microsoft, google, EoL, chrome

It has been a year since Microsoft cut off extended support for Windows XP including Internet Explorer security updates for the platform. Yeah, I know, it doesn't feel like it. Other browser vendors announced that they would continue to target the retired OS after Microsoft washed their hands of it. At the time, Google said they would give at least 12 months support, which brings us to yesterday.

Google_Chrome_icon_(2011).png

Now Google is extending their commitment to the end of the year. They did not say that it was a hard deadline for their customers, but they also did not add an “at least” qualifier this time. The browser vendor wants people to upgrade and admits that they cannot genuinely provide a secure experience if a known issue bites everyone at the OS level. You can keep training the guard at the door, but if your window falls out, mind the pun, then it is still dangerous to be inside.

Granted, we have not seen a major attack on XP over the last year. You would have to think that, even if the attacks are sophisticated, some of the victims would have noticed and reported it to someone. Still, I wonder how it keeps surviving, especially since I would have thought that at least one vulnerability in the last twelve Patch Tuesdays could be ported back to it.

Maybe it is too small of a target?

Source: Google

Microsoft Currently A/B Testing Virtual Desktop Behavior

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2015 - 05:21 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, virtual desktops, microsoft

Virtual Desktops is one of the largest interface changes for Windows 10. It is an organizational feature, which allows users to group relevant windows together. This puts them out of sight when you don't want them but also easily accessible when you do, and with the programs that you would want to use alongside them.

windows-10.png

Microsoft is wondering about one specific area though: should running applications be visible in other desktops? Some believe that a virtual desktop should only show icons for applications in the current context, and alt+tab should behave the same. It makes sense, because otherwise you're exposing the clutter in the taskbar and alt+tab, which are some of the most visible places. Others want everything to be visible at all times, or alt+tab-able to at all time. I guess this is to reduce the clutter on the desktop, without touching the clutter otherwise?

Microsoft has stated clearly that both cases will be user-selectable because there is enough usage on both sides. A user can have virtual desktops affect the taskbar or not, or alt-tab or not, independently. The question they are trying to solve right now is “What should the default be?”

If you are a Windows 10 Technical Preview user, and you care about the adoption of Virtual Desktops, Microsoft might push you into one or the other camp. Later, they will pop up a notification to ask your opinion once they feel you have used it long enough.

This is one area that your vote will influence Windows 10 in a very specific way.

Source: Microsoft

EA Shuts Down Four Free-to-Play Games. No Refunds.

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2015 - 04:08 PM |
Tagged: ea, free to play, battlefield

Battlefield Heroes, Battlefield Play4Free, Need for Speed World, and FIFA World are set to disappear in three months. According to the site for one of these games, Battlefield Heroes, that corresponds to Tuesday, July 14th, 2015. The other three might be plus or minus a little bit, but it sounds like it will be a simultaneous shutdown. Refunds will not be provided, even if you have premium credit remaining unspent on your account. I guess that means that you should burn whatever you have left over while the servers are still running; EA will not accept new accounts or payments though.

ea-BFP4F-thank-you-highlight_en.jpg

The announcement, made by Executive Vice President of EA Studios, Patrick Söderlund, assures players that other EA free-to-play titles are growing in player base and content. He uses Star Wars: The Old Republic as an example, which will receive updates over the year, including ones that build on its narrative.

But this is one of the problems with “free-to-play” and other genres with an authoritative online component: timed life. These titles are not going to be critiqued and celebrated in University courses over the upcoming decades and centuries. It is a difficult balance. On the one hand, it is interesting to create a universe that evolves and possibly mutates based on player interaction. Those experiences disappear though (and so does the money you tie into it). That doesn't mean “don't play them” -- just be aware what you're investing your time, money, and self-expression into.

Source: EA

Podcast #345 - MSI GS30 Shadow, Gigabyte X99-SOC, Skylake Leaks and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2015 - 02:36 PM |
Tagged: x99-soc, video, Skylake, Samsung, podcast, nvidia, msi, motorola, Moto E, Intel, GTAV, gs30, gigabyte, Broadwell, amd, 840 evo

PC Perspective Podcast #345 - 04/16/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the MSI GS30 Shadow, Gigabyte X99-SOC, Skylake Leaks 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!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Sebastian Peak

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

NVIDIA gives Nouveau the boot again

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2015 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, maxwell, Nouveau, open source

The initial benchmarks that Phoronix and other Linux tech sites ran on the new Maxwell cards from NVIDIA were using the proprietary binary drivers, the same as with all AMD cards.  Unlike AMD who have always released signed binary-only firmware blobs which could not be reverse engineered and modified for use, previous generations of NVIDIA cards did not require signed firmware images, only a lot of dev work.  Maxwell is locked down and the current open sourced Nouveau driver can now only be used to set up display outputs, it has no ability to use the card for hardware accelerated graphics.

NVIDIA states that the new requirement is to prevent shady characters from modifying slower cards to look like new Maxwell GPUs but Phoronix feels that they have gone overboard.  It is sad to see NVIDIA taking a step backwards in supporting the open source community, mimicking AMD's procedure of only offering binary-only firmware blobs though AMD is at least updating the blobs and open source driver relatively frequently.  That said, the new Maxwell cards do perform very well with the proprietary Linux driver so users should not feel they have to avoid NVIDA; unfortunately for developers the same is not true.

index.jpg

"While NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX 900 series is dominating for Linux gamers with excellent performance with their $1000+ GPU as well as great Linux OpenGL/OpenCL performance out of their lower-cost GPUs with excellent power efficiency, that's only when using the proprietary driver... NVIDIA's newer GTX 900 / Maxwell hardware is less open-source friendly than their previous generations of hardware. "

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Phoronix

Intel SSD 750 Series PCIe Compatibility Tested

Subject: General Tech, Storage | April 16, 2015 - 06:47 AM |
Tagged: uefi, SSD 750, PCI-E 3.0, NVMe, Intel, ACHI, 750 series

UPDATE: ASUS has pointed us towards a poll they are running to gauge what platforms people are most anxious for NVMe Boot support on. So if you have an ASUS board and are interested in buying an Intel SSD 750 Series, head to their poll to voice your opinion!

Last week, the Intel 750 Series SSD was unveiled the the public as the first consumer SSD to feature the NVMe or Non-Volatile Memory Express interface. NVMe was designed from the ground up for flash storage, and provides significant advantages in latency and potential top transfer rates over the aging AHCI standard. Check out our review of the Intel SSD 750 Series to find out why this is such an important step forward for storage technology.

IMG_2051.JPG

Even if you aren't necessarily concerned about the merits of a new storage interface, the throughput numbers from the 750 series are hard to ignore. With peak speeds over 2.5GB/s read and 1.5GB/s write, it's hard not to be interested in this new drive.

However, all this new speed doesn't come without a few complications. NVMe is an all-new standard which means it might not be supported on all platforms. Intel themselves only point to official support for Z97 and X99 chipsets. In order to get a better idea of the landscape of NVMe compatibility, I took it amongst myself to start testing the add-in card version of the 750 Series in just about every modern motherboard I could get my hands on at the office.

Continue reading our testiof Intel SSD 750 Series Compatiblity!!

Rumor: 2K Australia Shuts Down

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2015 - 12:04 AM |
Tagged: take-two, layoffs, 2k games, 2k australia

UPDATE (April 16th, 4:12pm EDT): Within an hour of publishing, IGN received a statement from 2K Games confirming the studio closure. Thanks to Penterax in the comments for the tip.

According to a tip sent to Kotaku Australia, and currently no other source, 2K Australia has been closed down. The studio is most recently known for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, but they have also contributed to all three BioShock titles and, when they were a formal division of Irrational Games, worked on SWAT 4 and Tribes: Vengeance. And yes, it is very tempting to call it “Police Quest: SWAT 4”.

2K-Australia-Logo.png

At the time of writing, we are still waiting on an official statement from 2K Australia or its parent companies, 2K Games and Take-Two Interactive. The source claims that all staff members will lose their jobs and the entire studio will be closed. There are also not too many alternatives in the continent. EA has a subsidiary that develops mobile titles, Firemonkeys Studios, which has about 60 employees. They are about 400 miles away from where 2K Australia was though. A Google Doc is being maintained with many prospects, although about half of the openings are in North America and New Zealand.

Latest Trillian Beta Fixes Windows 10 (Build 10041+)

Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2015 - 05:42 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, build 10041, build 10049, microsoft, trillian, cerulean studios

Since the release of Windows 10 Build 10041, Trillian, the instant messenger client, suffered some issues regarding window sizing (along with Firefox, Chrome, and a few other applications). Basically, the window would progressively shrink every time you type and the resize controls would hang about five pixels outside the window edge. Some windows would also “be open” but cannot be unminimized, requiring you to close them in the task bar and reopen them by double-clicking on the contact.

cerulean-studios-trillian-logo.jpg

Cerulean Studios has just released Trillian 5.6 Beta, along with its associated release notes, which seem to address both of these issues. I say seem because the latter issue (chat windows staying minimized forever) was intermittent, so I can't tell whether my testing is simply luck. That said, I tried to make it happen and I couldn't. Either way, the chat window shrinking bug was vastly more annoying.

Before this update, Trillian was just about useless on Windows 10. The only way to get it somewhat function was to maximize the window to a full monitor. Even snapping it to the left side of the screen would not prevent it from slowly shrinking itself.

I hope this news helps some of our readers as much as it helps me!

Source: Trillian

My that's a big world you have there, CD Projekt RED's new Witcher 3 trailer

Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2015 - 01:43 PM |
Tagged: gaming, The Witcher 3, CD Projekt RED

Every trailer of the Witcher 3 so far has made the game look larger and more complex and the latest trailer continues along that vein.  Some scenes will be familiar, such as a certain griffin's head but others are completely new, especially the in town scenes.  The voiceover implies a much greater breadth of choice in how you play the story than the binary elves or humans choice of Witcher 2 but we have been disappointed by other franchises in the past.  Hopefully this game will not disappoint, it has a very devoted team who are not afraid to include uncomfortable choices or nasty dialogue in the world they have created.  It will also be interesting to see how the size of the open world translates into interesting gameplay, especially once you have cleared an area and civilians move in to settle it.  Check out the trailer below and catch additional coverage at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN ... and maybe even here, you never know.

"Hi, you. That’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Watch this new trailer, it’ll explain.  This shiny new five-minute trailer’s a broad overview of the game, its basic premise, the lay of its land, a few japes, and the sort of larks you’ll get up to."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming