Computex 2014: WD Shows SATA Express-based PCIe HDD

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2014 - 03:37 AM |
Tagged: computex, computex 2014, WD, ssd, pcie, SATA Express, hdd

SATA Express is an interface to either connect a hard drive to PCIe lanes, or up to two drives via SATA. Obviously, PCIe bandwidth over a cable connection is the real draw. To use the full speed, however, the drive needs to be able to communicate over PCIe. Currently, the standard uses two PCI Express 2.0 lanes (1 GB/s).

WD-SATAe-demo.jpg

Now that Z97 and H97 have launched, WD is set to show off the technology at Computex. The above image is apparently of a dual-drive product, containing 4TB of rotating media and 128GB of SSD memory. I am immediately reminded of the Western Digital Black2 dual drive which Allyn reviewed last November. That product crammed a 120GB SSD into a 2.5" 1TB HDD, which appeared to the system as two separate drives. The drive has "Technology Demonstration" written in red font right on it, but it could be a good representation of what the company is thinking about.

WD also asserts that their prototype uses standard AHCI drivers, for OS compatibility.

If you want to see this product in action, then -- well -- you kind-of need to be at Computex. At some point, you might be able to see it in your own PC. When? How much? No pricing and availability, again, because it is a tech demo.

Source: WD

Computex 2014: ASUS Announces ROG G20 Compact Gaming Desktop and ROG GR8 Gaming Console PC

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2014 - 12:46 AM |
Tagged: ROG, gaming pc, computex 2014, computex, asus

Gaming PCs are often misunderstood. Many of our viewers will probably build their own from their personal selection of parts. If you would like to have someone else handle it, then an oft dismissed option is going through a system builder. If you find an option that is in your budget and has the performance you desire, then it is perfectly acceptable to buy it.

ASUS has just announced two offerings, branded Republic of Gamers (ROG), for you to consider.

ASUS_ROG_G20_Compact_Gaming_Desktop_PC.jpg

The ROG G20 Gaming Desktop can be customized with options which range up to an Intel Core i7 with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780. It is designed to be quiet, with expected noise at around 23-25 dbA (it is unclear whether this is measured idle or under load). While it has two fans, it also uses "natural convection" cooling, a process which uses the excess heat to make hot air rise, which is replaced by cool air that cools the components.

Yup, the PC cools itself with the air motion caused by its own heat.

After customizations, the ROG G20 Gaming Desktop is expected to retail for $800-$1700, depending on what options the user selects, and be available in late Q3, for North Americans.

ASUS_ROG_GR8_Gaming_Console_PC.jpg

The other PC is the ROG GR8 Gaming Desktop. This device will include an Intel Core i7 and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti. Despite its form factor, a side panel allows user access to RAM and storage. It has Gigabit Ethernet and built-in 802.11ac wireless. While it obviously has HDMI outputs, it also includes DisplayPort.

ASUS does not currently have an expected price range, but it will also be available Q3, for North Americans.

Source: ASUS

Computex 2014: Acer XB280HK Is 28-inch 4K with G-Sync

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2014 - 03:27 PM |
Tagged: XB280HK, g-sync, computex 2014, computex, acer, 4k

Speaking of G-Sync monitors, Acer has announced a 4K monitor ahead of Computex with NVIDIA's adaptive refresh rate technology. While they do not ever say that it is 60Hz, I believe that it is. It also seems to be based on a TN panel. It, being G-Sync, connects with DisplayPort 1.2 and also includes four USB 3.0 ports. It, however, does not seem to support the competing AMD's FreeSync, integrated into VESA's DisplayPort 1.2a standard.

gsync-logo.jpg

We do not currently have an image of the monitor

4K could be where we really start seeing benefits for G-Sync. At that resolution, it is very difficult to get a system, regardless of how many GPUs are inside it, which can play the most modern of games without dipping below 60 FPS. Once you miss your 16.67 millisecond window, your game starts hitching between images living 33.33ms and 16.67ms, when each frame is supposed to be presented at a constant rate.

As for pricing and availability: Q2 (early May to end of July). That's all we know.

For more Computex 2014 coverage, please check out our feed!

Source: Acer

Computex 2014: ASUS PG278Q Is G-Sync and 144Hz at 1440p

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2014 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: g-sync, displays, display, computex 2014, computex, asus, 2560x1440, 144hz, 1440p

NVIDIA's G-Sync allows video cards to time the refresh rate of monitors. This is an advantage because the GPU knows when a frame is actually ready to be displayed to the user. The initial batch of announcements were each 1080p monitors, which are least likely to dip down into the 30-60Hz gap where G-Sync is noticeable.

asus-pg278q.jpg

Today at Computex, ASUS has announced a 27", 2560x1440, 144Hz G-Sync display. This higher resolution is starting to reach the point where faster graphics cards struggle to maintain 60 FPS. Not only that, but it is one of the first 1440p panels that you can get which supports high (over 100Hz) refresh rates, officially. Others exist, but "rare" is an understatement.

Its response rate is 1ms (GTG) which, unfortunately, suggests a TN panel. This might be a deal-breaker for some, but if you are looking for a G-Sync, 1440p, and high refresh rate panel, then it might be an acceptable compromise.

The ASUS PG278Q is available in Q2, which ASUS seems to define as the beginning of May to the end of July, for $799 USD. Unfortunately for AMD fans, the panel does not seem to support FreeSync, recently added to DisplayPort 1.2a. FreeSync, of course, is the competitor to G-Sync that AMD proposed to the VESA standards body.

For more Computex 2014 coverage, please check out our feed!

Source: ASUS

Computex 2014: Corsair's Cherry MX RGB Keyboards Launch

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2014 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: computex, Computer 2014

Cherry MX RGB key switches were teased since December but not yet made into a product. They generated interest by integrating red, green, and blue LEDs that, together, are capable of glowing any one of 16 million colors. Each key can even glow its own color and brightness independently, allowing users to color certain zones, with animation, if desired. Corsair had a year of exclusivity over this switch with their line of keyboards which they have done nothing with, so far.

Today, they announce that MX RGB switches will be available in four models:

  • K70 RGB Red, available in late July ($169.99 MSRP)
  • K70 RGB Blue, available in late August ($169.99 MSRP)
  • K70 RGB Brown, available in late August ($169.99 MSRP)
  • K95 RGB Red, available in late August ($189.99 MSRP)

If you happen to have wanted Cherry MX Blue or Brown, you will be looking at the K70 because the K95 RGB will only be available in Cherry MX RGB Red. Of course, that could change in future announcements but, even still, the main difference is the 18 macro keys. Honestly, though I have had several keyboards which offer these, I have never used mine. Then again, I also do not play MMOs or MOBAs so judge for yourself whether the extra keys are deal breakers.

VENG_K95_RGB_K_US_top.png

Corsair Vengeance K95 RGB

As usual, Corsair puts a lot of thought into their keyboards. Each one is based on an NKRO matrix which provides "100% anti-ghosting" (rant: more precisely, the keyboard is built well enough that it physically cannot ghost to require anti-ghosting). Even their first generation design aced my grueling test, where I spam the equivalent of several hundred words per minute as input and compare it to what the keyboard believes.

VENG_K70_RGB_K_US_top.png

Corsair Vengeance K70 RGB

Also announced, the M65 RGB Gaming Mouse. RGB LED lighting on a mouse is not as novel, but it will match your keyboard. That will be available late August for $69.99 MSRP.

All devices will come with a two (2) year warranty, which definitely gives confidence to someone considering peripherals in this price point.

For more Computex 2014 coverage, please check out our feed!

Source: Corsair

Computex 2014: Corsair's Flash Voyager GTX USB

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2014 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: usb 3.0, thumb drive, ssd, flash drive, corsair, computex 2014, computex

The Flash Voyager GTX is Corsair's attempt to be an SSD over USB 3.0. Differentiating itself from a standard USB flash drive, the Voyager GTX includes TRIM support, S.M.A.R.T. monitoring, and interfaces with USB Attached SCSI. It also comes in two, SSD-sized capacities, 128GB ($119.99) and 256GB ($199.99). These drives are rated at 450MB/s read and 350MB/s write.

FVGTX_open.png

This pricing structure puts the Voyager GTX against the Samsung 840 Pro, which is an interesting comparison to make. Both drives are backed by a five (5) year warranty and, while the 840 Pro has higher read bandwidth, the write speeds are fairly comparable. IOPS and write durability is not listed for the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX but, even if they are marginally behind, this has the advantage of USB.

Benchmarking should be interesting for this. I would be curious if this could lead to portable OS installations and abrupt boosts to Steam library sizes, both with SSD-like speeds.

The Corsair Flash Voyager GTX USB 3.0 drives will be available in July. The 128GB version has an MSRP of $119.99, while the 256GB is listed at $199.99.

For more Computex 2014 coverage, please check out our feed!

Source: Corsair

NAB 2014: Elgato Thunderbolt Dock Announced

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | April 8, 2014 - 07:07 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, NAB 14, NAB, Elgato

Hmm, this is more Thunderbolt than I think we heard all year. Is there like, a video production event going on right now? No matter, because news is news (and so are product announcements). The Elgato Thunderbolt Dock connects to Thunderbolt, go figure, and provides three USB 3.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, one HDMI 1.4 output, one 3.5mm headphone jack, and one 3.5mm microphone jack. It also has a second Thunderbolt port to daisy chain with other devices, which is a common trait in Thunderbolt devices. It will retail for $229.95.

Yup, it is a Thunderbolt accessory.

Why does it seem like every Mac user in commercials have a studio apartment???

It makes sense to see devices like this. Thunderbolt is really an extension of PCIe which allows anything that was once an add-in board to be connected externally, albeit with significantly reduced bandwidth compared to PCIe 3.0 16x. This looks very clean, tidy, and much more desirable than crawling under the desk and swapping wires and thumb drives in the darkness behind your PC.

I would like to see some benchmarks on this device, however. Clearly, the sum of these outputs should be higher than the bandwidth allowed by Thunderbolt (especially if daisy-chaining another Thunderbolt device). I wonder how efficient it will be at keeping high quality signals when several devices are connected and running simultaneously.

The Elgato Thunderbolt Dock is available now for computers with a Thunderbolt port and either Mac OSX 10.9 or Windows 8.1. I guess us Windows 7 fans need to get used to the dust bunnies behind our PCs for a little longer...

Source: Elgato

NAB 2014: Intel Iris Pro Support in Adobe Creative Cloud (CC)

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Shows and Expos | April 8, 2014 - 03:43 PM |
Tagged: Intel, NAB, NAB 14, iris pro, Adobe, premiere pro, Adobe CC

When Adobe started to GPU-accelerate their applications beyond OpenGL, it started with NVIDIA and its CUDA platform. After some period of time, they started to integrate OpenCL support and bring AMD into the fold. At first, it was limited to a couple of Apple laptops but has since expanded to include several GPUs on both OSX and Windows. Since then, Adobe switched to a subscription-based release system and has published updates on a more rapid schedule. The next update of Adobe Premiere Pro CC will bring OpenCL to Intel Iris Pro iGPUs.

Intel-IrisPro-Adobe-Masking.jpg

Of course, they specifically mentioned Adobe Premiere Pro CC which suggests that Photoshop CC users might be coming later. The press release does suggest that the update will affect both Mac and Windows versions of Adobe Premiere Pro CC, however, so at least platforms will not be divided. Well, that is, if you find a Windows machine with Iris Pro graphics. They do exist...

A release date has not been announced for this software upgrade.

Source: Intel

NAB 2014: Thunderbolt Networking Announced for Windows

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Systems, Shows and Expos | April 8, 2014 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: NAB, NAB 14, Thunderbolt 2, thunderbolt

Video professionals are still interested in Thunderbolt in probably much the same way as Firewire needed to be pried from their cold, dead hands. It is a very high bandwidth connector, useful for sending and receiving 4K video. Also, it was originally exclusive to Apple so you can guess which industries were first-adopters. Intel has focused their Thunderbolt announcements on the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show. This year, Thunderbolt Networking will be available for Windows via a driver. This will allow any combination of Macs and Windows PCs to be paired together by a 10 Gigabit network.

Intel-Thunderbolt2-Networking.jpg

Of course, this is not going to be something that you can plug into a router. This is a point-to-point network for sharing files between two devices... really fast. Perhaps one use case would be a workstation with a Mac and a Windows PC on a KVM switch. If both are connected with Thunderbolt 2, they could share the same storage pool.

While this feature already exists on Apple devices, the PC driver will be available... "soon".

Source: Intel

BUILD 2014: Windows Sideloading Changes Announced

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | April 8, 2014 - 01:11 AM |
Tagged: BUILD 2014, microsoft, windows, winRT

A few days ago, I reported on the news from BUILD 2014 that Windows would see the return of the Start Menu and windowed apps. These features, which are not included with today's Windows 8.1 Update 1, will come in a later version. While I found these interface changes interesting, I reiterated that the user interface was not my concern: Windows Store certification was. I did leave room for a little hope, however, because Microsoft scheduled an announcement of changes. It was focused on enterprise customers, so I did not hold my breath.

And some things did change... but not enough for the non-enterprise user.

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Microsoft is still hanging on to the curation of apps, except for "domain-joined" x86 Enterprise and x86 Pro PCs; RT devices and "not domain-joined" computers will only allow sideloaded apps with a key. This certificate (key) is not free for everyone. Of course, this does not have anything to do with native x86 applications. Thankfully, the prospect of WinRT APIs eventually replacing Win32, completely, seems less likely now. It could still be possible if Windows Store has a major surge in popularity but, as it stands right now, Microsoft seems to be spending less effort containing x86 for an eventual lobotomy.

If it does happen, it would be a concern for a variety of reasons:

  1. Governments, foreign or domestic, who pressure Microsoft to ban encryption software.

  2. Internet Explorer's Trident would have no competition to adopt new web standards.

  3. Cannot create an app for just a friend or family member (unless it's a web app in IE).

  4. When you build censorship, the crazies will come with demands to abuse it.

So I am still concerned about the future of Windows. I am still not willing to believe that Microsoft will support x86-exclusive applications until the end of time. If that happens, and sideloading is not publicly available, and web standards are forced into stagnation by a lack of alternative web browsers, then I can see bad times ahead. I will not really feel comfortable until a definitive pledge to allow users to control what can go on their device, even if Microsoft (or people with some form of authority over them) dislikes it, is made.

But I know that many disagree with me. What are your thoughts? Comment away!

Source: ZDNet