Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | August 22, 2013 - 10:31 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Futuremark, AnTuTu, benchmarking
VR-Zone tossed the bees nest in a paint shaker and received a fairly sedate outcome.
A little background information is required. AnTuTu, a mobile benchmark developed by AnTuTu Labs, has been accused of inaccurate scores and bias towards specific hardware. Leaked BayTrail-T benchmarks, surpassing our expectations of Intel's capabilities, were harshly refuted based on AnTuTu's credibility. More recently, certain Samsung GPUs have been allegedly recorded self-overclocking during that benchmark but not elsewhere.
Scene from Cloud Gate, latest Windows 3DMark.
Oliver Baltuch, president of Futuremark, accepted an interview with VR-Zone to discuss business and ethics in their marketplace. Futuremark is a direct competitor to AnTuTu and a household name in the benchmarking community. Being modest Fins, self-proclaimed, they did not wish to discuss whether AnTuTu was less honest than they are. Futuremark does disagree with AnTuTu's process, however, and has some suggestions for better results.
The design process for 3D Mark Android begun with 25 pages of specification proposal. Each vendor is given a chance to reply to that proposal and these responses are compared. Changes to the specification must be reviewed by a committee sitting between the financial department and the engineering department.
Baltuch made the point that all of their finances for the last five years, according to Finnish law, can be reviewed for about $7 USD. Despite being a private company, the law mandates no deals can be made in secret.
On the engineering side of things, drivers are approved only if they follow specific guidelines. Unapproved results will be removed from their website and leaderboards followed by a polite conversation with the manufacturer. Drivers are not allowed to identify their benchmarks intent on modifying settings due to that information.
Almost every benchmark they release gets negative responses from some upset vendor or vendors.
The relatively short interview is wrapped up with commentary on iOS benchmarks. Futuremark is nearing completion of their first benchmarking app. Apple disallows apps to exceed 60 frames per second, through vsync, which unnecessarily hinders benchmark scores. Working around this, Futuremark developed a method to render frames which are not displayed on screen to keep the processors from idling once at frame rate cap.
Ryan must love that idea...
This concept has, according to the interview, reached internal QA review and is expected to be released in a few weeks.
Futuremark develops benchmarks for x86 Windows, Windows RT, Android, and iOS. Scores are intended to scale linearly to their metrics and are designed to allow cross-platform performance comparisons.
Subject: General Tech, Storage, Mobile | August 20, 2013 - 06:41 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: exFAT, Samsung
But Linux distributions still cannot officially use it... sort of?
Samsung added support for exFAT on Linux, in kernel, with one of their tablets. At some point code was leaked on GitHub. At some other point the Software Freedom Conservancy determined certain GPL-dependent modifications were published in binary form alone. Eventually Samsung properly released their source code under the GNU General Public License (GPL).
I am still unclear about how Samsung was allowed to do so, however. Copyright was never the main concern with exFAT but rather the patents Microsoft holds over the file system. The GPL mandates that code it covers must come with a non-exclusive worldwide and royalty-free license for applicable patents except under certain conditions. I would be curious how this license was accomplished unless Microsoft granted Samsung a patent license prior to March 28, 2007 (or some loophole like that).
I understand how people might be sympathetic to Microsoft and others asserting software patents because they are a for-profit business but that does not apply everywhere. You need to be careful when you apply a license to something as upstream as a file system or a kernel as everything downstream relies upon your decision.
Just imagine if you were separated from the contents of your SDXC card because, somehow, this patent found its way into the portfolio of a troll firm?
Current implementations of the file system are in user space until Samsung's in-kernel module. The Software Freedom Conservancy praised Samsung -- not only for their source code contribution -- but also for how open and public their response was.
Introduction and Design
It seems like only yesterday (okay, last month) that we were testing the IdeaPad Yoga 11, which was certainly an interesting device. That’s primarily because of what it represents: namely, the slow merging of the tablet and notebook markets. You’ve probably heard people proclaiming the death of the PC as we know it. Not so fast—while it’s true that tablets have eaten into the sales of what were previously low-powered notebooks and now-extinct netbooks, there is still no way to replace the utility of a physical keyboard and the sensibility of a mouse cursor. Touch-centric devices are hard to beat when entertainment and education are the focus of a purchase, but as long as productivity matters, we aren’t likely to see traditional means of input and a range of connectivity options disappear anytime soon.
The IdeaPad Yoga 11 leaned so heavily in the direction of tablet design that it arguably was more tablet than notebook. That is, it featured a tablet-grade SOC (the nVidia Tegra 3) as opposed to a standard Intel or AMD CPU, an 11” display, and a phenomenal battery life that can only be compared to the likes of other ARM-based tablets. But, of course, with those allegiances come necessary concessions, not least of which is the inability to run x86 applications and the consequential half-baked experiment that is Windows RT.
Fortunately, there’s always room for compromise, and for those of us searching for something closer to a notebook than the original Yoga 11, we’re now afforded the option of the 11S. Apart from being nearly identical in terms of form factor, the $999 (as configured) Yoga 11S adopts a standard x86 chipset with Intel ULV CPUs, which allows it to run full-blown Windows 8. That positions it squarely in-between the larger x86 Yoga 13 and the ARM-based Yoga 11, which makes it an ideal candidate for someone hoping for the best of both worlds. But can it survive the transition, or do its compromises outstrip its gains?
Our Yoga 11S came equipped with a fairly standard configuration:
Unless you’re comparing to the Yoga 11’s specs, not much about this stands out. The Core i5-3339Y is the first thing that jumps out at you; in exchange for the nVidia Tegra 3 ARM-based SOC of the original Yoga 11, it’s a much more powerful chip with a 13W TDP and (thanks to its x86 architecture) the ability to run Windows 8 and standard Windows applications. Next on the list is the included 8 GB of DDR3 RAM—versus just 2 GB on the Yoga 11. Finally, there’s USB 3.0 and a much larger SSD (256 GB vs. 64 GB)—all valuable additions. One thing that hasn’t changed, meanwhile, is the battery size. Surely you’re wondering how this will affect the longevity of the notebook under typical usage. Patience; we’ll get to that in a bit! First, let’s talk about the general design of the notebook.
Subject: Mobile | August 19, 2013 - 11:59 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: kingston, MobileLite Wireless, wifi, wireless storage
Carting a large sized USB drive around is handy but Kingston has gone one step further with the MobileLite Wireless device which acts as a WiFi router for an attached USB drive or SD card. It sports a 1800mAh 3.7v battery which should allow for up to 5 hours of usage and up to 3 devices can connect at any time making it a nice WAP you can carry around with you. By not including any storage media Kingston kept the price down and with SD support you can store quite a bit in the device as long as you purchased a large SD card. The transfer rates that HiTech Legion were seeing were not incredible but would suffice for streaming video and certainly data.
"Kingston MobileLite Wireless is a flexible Wi-Fi storage device that is lightweight and portable. The MobileLite Wireless acts as a USB hub and a card reader when plugged in to a laptop or a desktop computer. When unplugged, the MobileLite Wireless can then be used as a wireless file server, allowing up to three simultaneous wireless device connections to access the data stored on both the USB port or the SD card reader slot when populated."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Toshiba Satellite C855D-S5104 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Acer C7 Chromebook (C710-2457) Review @ TechReviewSource
- Acer R7 Review: Something Different @ AnandTech
- DefenderPad Laptop Radiation and Heat Shield Review @ OCC
- CM Storm SF-17 Notebook Cooler Review @ HiTech Legion
- Cooler Master CM Storm SF-17 Gaming Laptop Cooler @ Modders-Inc
- Patriot Fuel+ Mobile Rechargeable Battery @ Funky Kit
- Neptor NP056K Mobile Battery Pack @ LanOC Reviews
- TITAN Taichi TP-15TC & TP-25TC 2-in-1 USB Charger Review @ OCC
- Kobo Arc Android Tablet eReader @ Benchmark Reviews
- ElitePad 900 accessories @ Hardware.info
- Huawei Ascend Mate @ The Inquirer
- Nokia Lumia 521: Quality Smartphone on an Extreme Budget @ AnandTech
- Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Sony Xperia Z @ The Inquirer
- LG Optimus G Pro Performance Review @ Legit Reviews
500GB on the go
Corsair seems to have its fingers in just about everything these days so why not mobile storage, right? The Voyager Air a multi-function device that Corsair calls as "portable wireless drive, home network drive, USB drive, and wireless hub." This battery powered device is meant to act as a mobile hard drive for users that need more storage on the go including PCs and Macs as well as iOS and Android users.
The Voyager Air can also act as a basic home NAS device with a Gigabit Ethernet connection on board for all the computers on your local network. And if you happen to have DLNA ready Blu-ray players or TVs nearby, they can access the video and audio stored on the Voyager Air as well.
Available in either red or black, with 500GB and 1TB capacities, the Voyager Air is slim and sleek, meant to be seen not hidden in a closet.
The front holds the power switch and WiFi on/off switch as well as back-lit icons to check for power, battery life and connection status.
Subject: Mobile | August 8, 2013 - 12:50 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: CM Storm SF-17, cooler master, laptop cooler
If you have a high powered gaming notebook you have probably learned not to put it directly on your lap while gaming. This somewhat limits the comfortable positions that you can use the notebook in and in some cases requires you to prop the notebook in an awkward position to ensure you don't overheat the machine. The new CM Storm SF-17 is a smart alternative to roasting your expensive machine with a 180mm fan to move hot air away from your machine. Check out what Overclockers Club thought of this notebook cooler in their full review.
"Cooler Master did a good job with the CM Storm SF-17 Gaming Notebook Cooler. Great build quality and looks that will definitely appeal to the those that like a rugged style make this cooler very unique. The fan speed control is a welcome feature that will enable users to bring down the generated noise to acceptable levels. And the four height adjustment settings provide some flexibility depending on your typing style. The anti-slip material used on this cooler is simply great; even at the highest setting the laptop did not move the slightest. Finally, the cable management integration is more efficient than what was available on other laptop coolers."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Acer Aspire S7 (2013) Review @ TechReviewSource
- Competition for the Microsoft Surface Pro: Acer Aspire P3, Lenovo Yoga 11s and Toshiba WT310 @ Hardware.info
- ASUS ROG G750 Budget Gaming Laptop @ TechwareLabs
- Toshiba Qosmio X75 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Apple AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule review: 802.11ac according to Apple @ Hardware.info
- EagleTech Neptor NP056K 5600mAh Battery Pack Review @ HiTech Legion
- Cooler Master Comforter Mini Review @ OCC
- ASUS MeMO Pad HD7 Review: $149 Nexus 7.1 Successor & Our First Look at MediaTek's MT8125 @ AnandTech
- Google Nexus 7 2nd Generation Tablet Review @ Legit Reviews
- Google Nexus 7 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini @ The Inquirer
- Samsung Galaxy S4 Smartphone Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom @ The Inquirer
- Gigabyte GSmart Maya M1 v2 Quad Mobile Phone Review @ Madshrimps
- Nokia Lumia 925 Review: Windows Phone at its best, but is it enough @ TechSpot
Subject: General Tech, Networking, Systems, Mobile | August 6, 2013 - 01:18 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Surface RT, microsoft
It has been a month, to the day, since I picked on Windows RT for being more locked down than a Nintendo console. Devices, including Microsoft's own Surface RT, did not allow USB to Ethernet dongles for wired internet access. Compared to the Wii, that is quite pathetic.
Certain users have been able to use adapters until apparently, according to Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft helped ensure they are broke as intended. They are also demanding hardware manufacturers, who otherwise could support the operating system, to withhold drivers from their customers.
If you were one of those people who managed to get an Ethernet dongle working with your ARM-based Surface RT, you've probably since discovered that it no longer works.
I did not see any confirmation of Microsoft disabling any drivers so, bare in mind, I might have just misunderstood the above quote. Apparently, though, the issue arises from Connected Standby conflicts with those dongles.
But that does not mean Microsoft will continue to prevent Ethernet dongles.
According to the same article from Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft is quietly working on a fix for the issue. They are currently working, along with hardware manufacturers, on creating devices which can support the instant-on, instant-off feature. The cynic in me, of course, wonders if Microsoft will be first to market with the, albeit rumored, corrected peripheral.
Personally, I feel that a consumer who purchases one of your devices should be allowed to install hardware understanding the tradeoff. It would not be too difficult to pop up a warning, "Your USB device is not compatible with Connected Standby; the feature will resume when your accessory is removed".
Just another advantage for truly personal PCs.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors, Mobile | August 3, 2013 - 04:21 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: qualcomm, Intel, mediatek, arm
MediaTek, do you even lift?
According to a Taiwan Media Roundtable transcript, discovered by IT World, Qualcomm has no interest, at least at the moment, in developing an octo-core processor. MediaTek, their competitor, recently unveiled an eight core ARM System on a Chip (SoC) which can be fully utilized. Most other mobile SoCs with eight cores function as a fast quad-core and a slower, but more efficient, quad-core processor with the most appropriate chosen for the task.
Anand Chandrasekher of Qualcomm believes it is desperation.
So, I go back to what I said: it's not about cores. When you can't engineer a product that meets the consumers' expectations, maybe that’s when you resort to simply throwing cores together. That is the equivalent of throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks. That's a dumb way to do it and I think our engineers aren't dumb.
The moderator, clearly amused by the reaction, requested a firm clarification that Qualcomm will not launch an octo-core product. A firm, but not clear, response was given, "We don't do dumb things". Of course they would not commit to swearing off eight cores for all eternity, at some point they may find core count to be their bottleneck, but that is not the case for the moment. They will also not discuss whether bumping the clock rate is the best option or whether they should focus on graphics performance. He is just assured that they are focused on the best experience for whatever scenario each product is designed to solve.
And he is assured that Intel, his former employer, still cannot catch them. As we have discussed in the past: Intel is a company that will spend tens of billions of dollars, year over year, to out-research you if they genuinely want to play in your market. Even with his experience at Intel, he continues to take them lightly.
We don't see any impact from any of Intel's claims on current or future products. I think the results from empirical testers on our products that are currently shipping in the marketplace is very clear, and across a range of reviewers from Anandtech to Engadget, Qualcomm Snapdragon devices are winning both on experience as well as battery life. What our competitors are claiming are empty promises and is not having an impact on us.
Qualcomm has a definite lead, at the moment, and may very well keep ahead through Bay Trail. AMD, too, kept a lead throughout the entire Athlon 64 generation and believed they could beat anything Intel could develop. They were complacent, much as Qualcomm sounds currently, and when Intel caught up AMD could not float above the sheer volume of money trying to drown them.
Then again, even if you are complacent, you may still be the best. Maybe Intel will never get a Conroe moment against ARM.
It has come to my attention that you are planning on producing and selling a device to be called “NVIDIA SHIELD.” It should be noted that even though it shares the same name, this device has no matching attributes of the super-hero comic-based security agency. Please adjust.
When SHIELD was previewed to the world at CES in January of this year, there were a hundred questions about the device. What would it cost? Would the build quality stand up to expectations? Would the Android operating system hold up as a dedicated gaming platform? After months of waiting a SHIELD unit finally arrived in our offices in early July, giving us plenty of time (I thought) to really get a feel for the device and its strengths and weakness. As it turned out though, it still seemed like an inadequate amount of time to really gauge this product. But I am going to take a stab at it, feature by feature.
NVIDIA SHIELD aims to be a mobile gaming platform based on Android with a flip out touch-screen interface, high quality console design integrated controller, and added features like PC game streaming and Miracast support.
Initial Unboxing and Overview of Product Video
At the heart of NVIDIA SHIELD is the brand new Tegra 4 SoC, NVIDIA’s latest entry into the world of mobile processors. Tegra 4 is a quad-core, ARM Cortex-A15 based SoC that includes a 5th A15 core built on lower power optimized process technology to run background and idle tasks using less power. This is very similar to what NVIDIA did with Tegra 3’s 4+1 technology, and how ARM is tackling the problem with big.LITTLE philosophy.
Subject: Mobile | July 29, 2013 - 01:05 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: phablet, asus, Fonepad
Running Android 4.1, aka Jelly Bean, the ASUS Phonepad has a 7" 1280 x 800 display and an Atom Z2420 or Z2460 processor paired with a PowerVR STX 540 for the GPU. While built in 3MP camera certainly makes this more like a phone Hardware Secrets found it uncomfortable to use as such but for short calls and random browsing they liked the performance and were impressed that for their usage it would only need to be charged every other day. Due to the size and the lack of support for 4G connections Hardware Secrets recommends that this device be treated as a tablet which happens to be able to make phone calls as opposed to being a phone replacement.
"Is the ASUS Fonepad a 7" tablet with cell phone functions or a cell phone with a 7" screen? Let's try to answer this question in this review."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- HTC One Mini @ The Inquirer
- Sony Xperia Tablet Z @ Hardware.info
- LG Optimus G Pro @ Hardware.info
- HTC One Mini hands-on @ The Inquirer
- iconBIT NETTAB Space Quad HD NT-0901S Tablet Review @ Madshrimps
- Alcatel One Touch Idol Ultra @ Hardware.info
- Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini @ Hardware.info
- DefenderPad Review: Protecting Your Junk From Laptop Radiation & Heat @ Legit Reviews
- PQI Air Card microSDHC Wi-Fi Adapter Review @ HiTech Legion
- Kingston MobileLite Wireless Reader Charger @ eTeknix
- RaidSonic ICY BOX IB-PBa7800 7800mAh Power Bank @ NikKTech
- Neptor 10000mAh Battery Pack Review @ HiTech Legion
- Cat B15 @ The Inquirer
- Survivor+Catalyst waterproof case for iPhone 5 @ Funky Kit
- Kingston MobileLite Wireless @ Funky Kit
- Acer Aspire P3-171-6820 Review @ TechReviewSource
- MSI GE40 Review: a Slim Gaming Notebook @ AnandTech
- Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S @ Legit Reviews
- Lenovo IdeaPad U310 Touch Review @ TechReviewSource
- Apple Macbook Air 2013 11in @ The Inquirer
- ASUS G750JX @ Hardware Secrets
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