Epic Intel vs Qualcomm Battle to the Death... WiFi Adapters...

Subject: General Tech, Networking | August 1, 2013 - 09:43 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, killer, Intel, 802.11n

Another BigFoot sighting...

PCWorld compared an Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 to a Qualcomm Killer Wireless-N 1202 using two distinct benchmarks. The first of the tests, a ping and jitter assessment written by Qualcomm, claimed a significant win (2ms vs Intel's 4-8ms) for Killer between laptop and router. The second test measured bandwidth where Qualcomm matched or sometimes doubled Intel's performance except in close range 5GHz scenarios; Intel won, in those cases, by about a factor of two.

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Of course, a difference of 2-to-6ms is low for online games. I would imagine those who are genuinely concerned about latency, especially during a LAN Party, would not settle for any form of wireless solution much less plan ahead for it. That could be just my perspective, however; I almost never consider Wi-Fi adapters because I will immediately hunt for an Ethernet jack.

That said, Qualcomm is apparently selling these adapters for prices very comparable to Intel. According to these benchmarks, grains of salt added to taste, Killer would not be a downgrade for a gaming device and should be considered if presented to you. The only time it clearly lost is high speed data transfers at 5GHz less than 10 feet away.

Seriously, Ethernet, keep one in your laptop bag. Magic.

If curious about a purchase, check out the benchmarks (or just skip 802.11n and look for 802.11ac or .11ad equipment); if curious for entertainment, check out Ryan's review of the original, wired, Killer NIC.

Source: PCWorld

Surface Pro Has Ethernet... Surface RT Does Not.

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Mobile | July 6, 2013 - 03:31 AM |
Tagged: windows rt, Surface RT, reverse-consolitis

It is a good thing that Windows RT is not always online, because you would be pretty screwed if you did not have access to a wireless network. To compensate for a lack of ethernet, users can typically plug in a USB to wired internet dongle; this is even possible with consoles such as the Wii. Microsoft makes one such accessory for their line of Surface tablets.

But just the Pro ones.

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Wow, if only my PC was as open as my console...

Paul Thurrott even tried a handful of third-party adapters to similar, depressing, results on both Windows RT RTM. While the ability to attach your device to a wired high-speed internet jack is niche nowadays, mostly for users of HD video conferencing and certain hotels, it highlights the gigantic problem with Windows RT and other consumer tablet OSes: there will be some things you wish that your device did that it simply will not be able to do.

I guess pack a travel router?

Computex 2013: ASUS Keynote -- Transformer Pad Infinity, FonePad Note, MEMO Pad HD7, VivoPC, Router RT-AC68U, Transformer Book Trio

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2013 - 04:20 AM |
Tagged: computex, asus

ASUS wants to kick off Computex with a barrage of product announcements. Seriously, there were 6 products announced in the span of 20 minutes with no two product from the same category. Devices range from tablets and convertibles to routers and mice.

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The company started off with the new Transformer Pad Infinity. This updates their line of separable hybrid laptop/tablets with NVIDIA Tegra 4.

Raw specifications:

  • NVIDIA Tegra 4 SoC
  • 2560x1600 10.1-inch display
  • USB 3.0, Bluetooth, 4K out via HDMI
  • 6MP (I think, could be 16MP) rear, 1.2 MP front cameras

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Up next was the FonePad Note. A page from Samsung's playbook, both in name and in functionality, the FonePad is a 6" phone with a stylus pen. Coming off our recent Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 story, this device will also be powered by an Intel Atom Z2560 SoC. These could be the start of many high-profile design wins for Intel.

Raw specifications:

  • Intel Atom Z2560 SoC
  • 2GB RAM
  • 6" 1080p SuperIPS+ display, thin border
  • 8MP rear, 1.2MP front cameras
  • Front-facing stereo speakers
  • Stylus Pen

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And then we get the MEMO Pad HD7. This 7-inch 1280x800 HD tablet is designed to be cheap. It will be available for $149 in 16GB capacity for America, and a smaller $129 8GB version for emerging markets.

Raw specifications:

  • ARM Cortex A7 quad-core SoC
  • 7-inch 1280x800 HD IPS display (10-point multitouch)
  • 5MP rear, 1.2MP front cameras
  • Bluetooth, GPS, stereo speakers
  • (starting at?) 16GB ($149) USA, 8GB ($129) emerging markets

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We briefly leave mobile devices to head towards a desktop computer. The VivoPC is designed to be easily upgraded, "Just lift the lid and replace the harddrive and memory". This is being positioned as a home theater PC running Windows 8. We currently have no further specifications.

Raw Specifications:

  • 802.11ac
  • It's got a lid?

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And of course, with the discussion of an 802.11ac device we clearly need to move on to routers. The ASUS Router RT-AC68U, while a slight bit literal of a name, is supposedly the first dual-band 802.11ac Router. I am not exactly sure what the second band would be, but I am only the messenger. Regardless, this router is apparently capable of performance up to 1.9 Gigabits per second.

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And then we cannot have all of these HTPC devices without an input method, can we? Enter the ASUS VivoMouse. This device allows you to more comfortably control your PC from your couch, as far as I can tell.

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Last, but with a bang, ASUS announced the Transformer Book Trio. As you can guess, the Trio name comes from its three form factors being wrapped up into a single product: it's a notebook, a tablet, and a desktop PC. Do not worry, I will not make an iPhone announcement keynote joke; that one has already been well overplayed.

The trick is that the Trio is actually two fully functional computers with one running Android and the other Window 8. Both devices are powered by an x86 Intel-based processor, however: the main PC runs a Core i7-4500U processor and the tablet runs an Atom Z2580.

A main selling feature is that, when base is separated from screen, both devices are simultaneously useable. If you attach the base to an external monitor it will function like a desktop PC.

Raw specifications:

  • Intel Core i7-4500U (base), Intel Atom Z2580 (tablet)
  • Full HD multitouch IPS display
  • Windows 8 (base), Android Jelly Bean (screen)
  • 1TB HDD (base), 64GB flash (screen)
  • Fully compatible with Google Play and Windows Stores

Well, that's it. We will probably have a bit more analysis coming up soon. But, for now, I need to get off of Taipei time.

Source: ASUS

New Quantenna QSR1000 Chip Will Power 802.11ac Devices, Delivers Up To 1.7Gbps Throughput

Subject: Networking | May 28, 2013 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: wi-fi, quantenna, qsr1000, mu-mimo, 802.11ac

Quantenna, has announced a new 802.11ac QSR1000 chip that is capable of delivering up to 1.7Gbps throughput. The new chip achieves the wireless throughput by supporting a combination of Multi-User MIMO, four spatial streams, 256-QAM modulation, and beamforming technology. More information on 802.11ac and the related technologies can be found here.

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The Quantenna chip is a competitor to Broadcom's offerings and it is intended for use in wireless routers, access points, Set Top Boxes (STB), and other consumer electronics gear. It is the first "wave 2" (second iteration of the 802.11ac specification) 802.11ac chip, and is the fastest so far. Quantenna was able to get a theoretical max of 435.2Mbps of throughput per spatial stream, which is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, client devices (computers, smartphones, tablets, et al) will also have to support the MU-MIMO technology and have the hardware to transmit and receive multiple streams to take full advantage of the 1.7Gbps max throughput.

There is no word on which upcoming wireless devices the Quantenna chip will be used in, but the company is making the new QSR1000 chip available to manufacturers as early as Q3 of this year. Actual routers and other gear using the chip and widely available to consumers will likely not hit the market until early next year, however.

Source: Quantenna

PowerCloud Systems Kickstarting New Skydog Router With Intuitive Management Software

Subject: Networking | April 15, 2013 - 02:28 AM |
Tagged: skydog, gigabit router, 5GHz wifi

A new piece of networking hardware from PowerCloud Systems recently emerged on popular crowd-funding site Kickstarter. Aimed at consumers, the Skydog router is paired with a web interface and mobile application that makes managing your home network extremely accessible.

The Skydog router hardware itself has already passed regulatory certifications, and the super early bird backers will each get one of 250 pre-production units. The router features five Gigabit Ethernet ports (one port is for the WAN), a USB port, and a dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi radio. The Wi-Fi radio can operate on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands simultaneously, and has a maximum rated throughput of 300Mbps per band. The router chassis measures 17 x 11 x 2.5cm and includes a number of blue indicator LEDs on the top-front edge. The USB port is not currently supported, but is there for future feature updates.

The Skydog Router and Accompanying Web and Mobile application for network management.jpg

Where Skydog differentiates itself from the crowd is in the software. After connecting the router to your modem and computers, you can log into the web interface. It will prompt you for either a Google or Skydog account, and then will reportedly automatically configure itself. The software supports Quality of Service (QoS) features that will allow you to prioritize certain traffic and/or to give bandwidth priority to certain users. The web interface will show you network statistics, connected devices, device signal strength, track and notify users of network issues (for example, the internet going down) via the Skydog mobile app, and track and restrict the websites users visit. Further, the administrator can set up schedules on a per-user basis. The schedules can restrict usage by approved time slices and by bandwidth limits. It will notify users when they are approaching the allotted time or bandwidth limit via the mobile app. Real time notifications include ISP connection issues, guests requesting access to the network, and the above-mentioned bandwidth limit notifications.

Skydog Router Web Interface.jpg

According to the Kickstarter FAQ, the Skydog Home Network (which consists of the router and management software) will cost approximately $149 for three years or $199 for five years without a monthly fee.  The wording suggests that a model with a lower hardware cost but monthly charge might also be available. The cloud service is a bit worrisome, and I'm not sure if I like the idea of essentially renting the router via monthly or yearly fees. This router is not going to be for everyone, but it does have some useful and inventive features for families. This would be a router that I could see the various ISPs offering up as a rental device and that I might set up for my friends or relatives with kids so that they could easily manage the network and restrict the kids access to certain times of the day and age appropriate sites.

With 29 days left in the Kickstarter, the project has 543 backers, and $51,905 pledged of the 75,000 goal. It certainly looks like it is going to be funded, and I hope that the Kickstarter leads to a successful retail product launch.

Source: Kickstarter

Qualcomm & MSI Announce Killer Z77 Motherboard.

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Motherboards | March 5, 2013 - 03:01 AM |
Tagged: qualcomm, msi, killer nic, Intel Z77

MSI says “JUST GAME!”... but... I must write up their announcement first...

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The computer components company would like us to “JUST GAME!” on their gaming motherboards, of course. This press release is for the MSI Killer Z77 gaming motherboard. The board supports the DDR3-3000, Creative Sound Blaster Cinema with Crystalizer, OC Genie II, and Military Class III initiatives.

But to call yourself Killer, you got some big shoes to fill.

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Yes MSI, we get it. Challenge accepted.

What makes it a “Killer” announcement is the addition of a Killer E2200 LAN chip from Qualcomm's Bigfoot Networks. We have a fair amount of experience with the gamer networking hardware company; Ryan wrote a review all the way back in 2006. Since then, the company found themselves scooped up by Qualcomm where they found their technology integrated into motherboards from various manufacturers. They have also dabbled into wireless technology.

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MSI proclaims with the E2200 LAN chip, their motherboard will have to use less space to house the chip when compared to the earlier Killer E2100. Also, for users running Windows 8, the E2200 was designed to support that operating system. Linux gamers? You too, but not until the second half of 2013.

If you want to see what the PR people have to say, check out Qualcomm's blog post.

Source: Qualcomm

CES 2013: The Verge Interviews Gave Newell for Steam Box. Valve's Director Hints Post-Kepler GPUs Can Be Virtualized!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Networking, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2013 - 11:11 PM |
Tagged: valve, gaben, Gabe Newell, ces 2013, CES

So the internet has been in a roar about The Steam Box and it probably will eclipse Project Shield as topic of CES 2013. The Verge scored an interview to converse about the hardware future of the company and got more than he asked for.

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Now if only he would have discussed potential launch titles.

Wow! That *is* a beautiful knife collection.

The point which stuck with me most throughout the entire interview was directed at Valve’s opinion of gaming on connected screens. Gabe Newell responded,

The Steam Box will also be a server. Any PC can serve multiple monitors, so over time, the next-generation (post-Kepler) you can have one GPU that’s serving up eight simulateneous [sic] game calls. So you could have one PC and eight televisions and eight controllers and everybody getting great performance out of it. We’re used to having one monitor, or two monitors -- now we’re saying lets expand that a little bit.

This is pretty much confirmation, assuming no transcription errors on the part of The Verge, that Maxwell will support the virtualization features of GK110 and bring it mainstream. This also makes NVIDIA Grid make much more sense in the long term. Perhaps NVIDIA will provide some flavor of a Grid server for households directly?

The concept gets me particularly excited. One of the biggest wastes of money the tech industry has is purchasing redundant hardware. Consoles are a perfect example: not only is the system redundant to your other computational device which is usually at worst a $200 GPU away from a completely better experience, you pay for software to be reliant on that redundant platform which will eventually disappear along with said software. In fact, many have multiple redundant consoles because the list of software they desire is not localized to just one system so they need redundant redundancies. Oy!

A gaming server should help make the redundancy argument more obvious. If you need extra interfaces then you should only need to purchase the extra interfaces. Share the number crunching and only keep it up to date.

Also check out the rest of the interview over at The Verge. I decided just to cover a small point with potentially big ramifications.

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: The Verge

CES 2013: Corsair Voyager Air Offers Wireless Mobile Storage and Home NAS Support

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Storage, Mobile | January 8, 2013 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: wi-fi, Voyager Air, NAS, mobile, corsair, CES

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The newest member member of the Corsair Voyager family of devices, the Voyager Air, drives Corsair's entry into the home networking arena with their all-in-one mobile drive and home NAS (network attached storage) solution.

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Courtesy of Corsair

The Voyager Air is as versatile as it is sleek, with support for the following hiding beneath its stylish hood:

 

  • Up to 1TB capacity drive
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Wi-Fi (802.11n/b/g), GigE Ethernet, and USB 3.0 support built-in
  • Wireless hub support for shared internet support via passthrough technology

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Courtesy of Corsair

The Voyager Air comes in a variety of colors as well, more than enough to match anyone's sense of style. According to Corsair, the Voyager Air units should be accessible at an electronics retailer near you in a 500GB model for $179.99 MRSP and a 1TB model for $219.99 MSRP.

Press release after the break.

 

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Brace Yourself: The PC Perspective CES 2013 Coverage is Coming!

Subject: Graphics Cards, Networking, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling, Processors, Systems, Storage, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2013 - 10:47 AM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2013, pcper

It's that time of year - the staff at PC Perspective is loaded up and either already here in Las Vegas, on their way to Las Vegas or studiously sitting at their desk at home - for the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show!  I know you are on our site looking for all the latest computer hardware news from the show and we will have it.  The best place to keep checking is our CES landing page at http://pcper.com/ces.  The home page will work too. 

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We'll have stories covering companies like, Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte, Zotac, Sapphire, Galaxy, EVGA, Lucid, OCZ, Western Digital, Corsair and many many more that I don't feel like listing here.  It all starts Sunday with CES Unveiled and then the NVIDIA Press Conference where they will announce...something.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the PC Perspective Podcast as we will be bringing you daily podcasts wrapping up each day.  We are also going to try to LIVE stream them on our PC Perspective Live! page but times and bandwidth will vary.

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Qualcomm announces "Streamboost" to give your Home Network some Brains

Subject: Networking | January 4, 2013 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: streamboost, qualcomm, qos, D-Link, ces 2013, alienware

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With CES right around the corner, we’re about to be buried in a deluge of announcements from consumer electronics vendors.  Since I was not able to get out to CES in person this year, Qualcomm offered to give me a sneak peek at their new “Streamboost” technology they’ve just announced and will be showing at CES.  I got to spend some time on the phone with Ciera Jammal, their PR rep and Michael Cubbage, Director of Business Development in their networking unit.  For those of you that may not recognize Michael’s name, he was one of the co-founders of Bigfoot Networks that brought us their “Killer Gaming” line of Ethernet and wireless products.  Acquired by Qualcomm in the fall of 2011, the merged Bigfoot and Qualcomm teams have now released “Streamboost”.

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So, what is Streamboost you ask?  Simply put, it’s an innovative Quality of Service engine that’s much, much more than what’s available for consumer QoS today.  QoS on most current consumer products only looks at what ports traffic is flowing across and prioritizes the traffic based on a simple list of what ports should be given priority at the expense of traffic on lower priority ports.  There’s no analysis of what the actual traffic is and in cases where different types of traffic flows over the same port (port 80 for example) it doesn’t offer any benefit at all.  The Streamboost engine on the other hand, will actually inspect the packets in real time, determining not only what port the traffic is using, but what the traffic actually is.  So for example, Streamboost will be able actually be able to tell that one stream is 1080p YouTube video while another is Standard Definition Netflix traffic, even though they are both on port 80, and give both streams the bandwidth they need. 

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Once the engine determines what type of data is moving through the connection, it will give that connection the bandwidth it needs to run optimally, but no more.  The “no more” piece is important because it frees up bandwidth for other applications and connections.  If there is not enough bandwidth available for the “Optimal” setting, it will then drop back and make every effort to give the connection what’s been determined to be the “Minimum acceptable” bandwidth needed for that type of traffic.

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How does Streamboost know what bandwidth is Optimal and what bandwidth is Minimum?  Well, Qualcomm has studied various types of traffic ranging from YouTube to Netflix to Call of Duty to torrents, and they’ve come up with the Optimal and Minimum bandwidth values for all types of traffic.  This data will be included in a “Detection and Policy Table” on the router that the Streamboost engine will reference.  My first thoughts when I heard this was that it sounded great, but what happens when that table gets out of date?  Qualcomm has thought of that as well and Streamboost includes an opt-in, cloud based service that will keep your router’s table up to date.  Not only that, but if the router encounters a new type of traffic not in its table, it will capture a few packets and send them up to the cloud (anonymized of course) to be analyzed and added to future table updates.  Your router should actually perform better as it’s table is updated and will be better after a year than it was on Day 1.  However, if you’re not interested in being part of the “Opt In crowd”, the engine can also be manually updated at any time.

The UI looks great and will let you drill down into your bandwidth use either by application or device.  Speaking of devices, Streamboost can detect the various types of devices on your network and lets you prioritize based on those criteria as well.

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D-Link and Alienware are the first two partners onboard with Streamboost and will be showing routers with the technology at CES as well as releasing them this spring.  All in all, after speaking to Qualcomm, I think I’m going to hold off my planned router upgrade until I can get my hands on a new router with Streamboost built in.

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Click here for the full press release!

Source: Qualcomm