Subject: General Tech, Systems | February 20, 2013 - 06:53 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: sony, ps4
We're currently in the middle of Sony's Playstation announcement and right off the bat they discussed system specifications.
(Update 2: Press conference was over a few hours ago, and we now have an official press release.)
The Playstation 4, as it will be titled, is very similar to a mid-range gaming PC. When discussing with developers, they requested for Sony to stick with a typical x86-based architecture. Of course that does not stop Sony from describing it as a “Supercharged PC architecture”. Still, they do seem to have quite a decent amount of hardware in this box.
- 8-core x86 CPU
2 Teraflops GPU integrated on same
- I did not hear AMD mentioned, but it totally is.
- 8GB GDDR5 RAM (shared)
- Stereo Camera on the controller with a light bar, like the Wii, to judge distance to TV.
- Also touch sensor in the controller.
- (Update/correction: At least a ...) Spindle-based Hard Drive
While these specifications have been sufficiently leaked in the recent past, we have not been able to pin down exactly how much RAM is provided. We found the development kit contained 8GB of system memory. The problem is that development kits require more RAM than the system it pretends to be to account for development tools and unoptimized assets.
As it turns out, the system itself will contain 8GB of GDDR5 shared between the CPU and GPU, which is quite a lot. Developers will need to finally push the PC platform past the 4GB RAM+VRAM 32-bit barrier in order to keep up with the next generation consoles.
Most of our gaming limitations were due to art assets being limited by memory constraints. Thanks to the new Sony console, PC releases could finally be taken off the 512MB-long leash of Sony and Microsoft.
(Update 2, cont.: The press release has official tech specs as below but are "subject to change")
Single-Chip Custom Processor
CPU: x86-64 AMD "Jaguar", 8 cores
GPU: 1.84 Teraflops, AMD next-generation Radeon(tm)-based graphics engine
|Hard Disk Drive||Built-in|
|Optical Drive (Read-Only)||
BD 6x CAV
DVD 8x CAV
|I/O Ports||Super-Speed USB (USB3.0), AUX|
Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T)
IEE 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1 (EDR)
So clearly Sony was slightly rounding up when they claimed it was a 2 Teraflop GPU. Still, this looks to be a healthy computer.
We now have the official confirmation we needed that AMD Jaguar cores will power the PS4. Given AMD's big wins in the console platforms, I would wonder if game developers would be able to take some of the tricks they will learn in a few years and be able to start optimizing PC gamers for AMD CPUs.
GPUs too for that matter... this could mean a lot for AMD's PC gamers.
Subject: Systems | February 13, 2013 - 02:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: DIY, econobox, sweet spot, double stuff
The Tech Report has updated their System Guide for February and added in a new SFF build as well as instructional videos on building a PC for those just joining the enthusiast crowd. The four price points that they aim for are $600, $1,000, $1,500, and $3,000 and range from an EconoBox for basic usage up to the Double Stuff workstation and of course the new Mighty Mite system. Head on over to see what they've assembled and feel free to contrast it with our own Hardware Leaderboard.
"In the latest edition of the TR System Guide, we've tweaked our usual builds to incorporate newer components and price changes, making our recommended systems better than ever. We've also included a small-form-factor gaming build priced just under $1,000."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- HP Pavilion 20-b010z Review @ TechReviewSource
- Acer T232HL - Touch Comes to the Desktop @ AnandTech
- HP Envy 23 TouchSmart @ Hardware.info
- Intel’s Next Unit of Computing Review: Desktop of the Future or Another Nettop @ X-bit Labs
- Wired2Fire Diablo Predator System @ Kitguru
- Zotac's Zbox ID42 Plus nettop @ The Tech Report
Subject: Systems | February 12, 2013 - 02:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: htpc, Hauppauge, HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition
Now that capturing PC gaming is so easy to do, through either software or hardware, game walkthroughs and trick videos are commonplace on YouTube but the console gamers have not had that ability until recently. XSReviews recently took a look at the Hauppage HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition which is a device that sits on an HDMI connection between your console or PC and your display and is capable of either passing through or recording a 1080p signal. Unfortunately their testing did not go smoothly and even after updating the software they had issues recording or even playing at 1080p, however at 720p the device worked as advertised. If you are needing to record at full resolution you might want to wait for another patch as you might run into some of the same issues.
"On PC, it’s pretty easy to record footage of your games. Whether you’re using streaming software like XSplit or recording directly to your hard drive with Fraps, getting your gameplay out there is fairly well understood.
For consoles, it’s much harder – with a locked down environment devoid of third party applications, you can’t just download a program off the ‘net and start recording. Instead, you’ll need some physical hardware to do the job.
Enter the Hauppage HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition. This small cuboid is designed to make recording and even streaming your gameplay incredibly simple – just hook up a few wires and, if the back of the box is to be believed, you’ll be away.
In this review, we’ll put that to the test as we enter the exciting world of console recording and streaming!"
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Dune HD TV-303D Universal FullHD Network Media Player Review @ NikKTech
- Sapphire EDGE HD4 Mini PC @ Kitguru
- Antennas Direct ClearStream Micron-R HDTV High Gain Indoor Antenna Review @ ModSynergy
- Fractal Design Node 605 HTPC Chassis @ Tweaktown
- Cubitek Mini Cube ITX Case Review @ Pro-Clockers
- Silverstonetek Grandia GD07 HTPC Enclosure @ Metku.net
- Netgear NeoTV MAX HD Streaming Player Review @ Legit Reviews
Subject: General Tech, Memory, Systems | February 10, 2013 - 03:44 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: NVDIMM, micron, IMFT NAND, imft
So a RAM chip, a NAND module, and an “ultracapacitor” walk into stick...
This week Micron released a press blast for technology called, “NVDIMM”. The goal is to create memory modules which perform as quickly as DRAM but can persist without power. At this point you could probably guess the acronym: Nonvolatile Dual In-line Memory Module. It has been around for a few years now, but it is in the news now so let's chat about it.
I often like to play the game, “Was this named by an engineer or a marketer?” You can typically tell who was responsible for naming something by gauging how literally it breaks down into a simple meaning versus not having any apparent meaning at all. A good example of an engineer name is UHF, which breaks down into ultra-high frequency because it's higher than VHF, very-high frequency. A good example of a marketing name would be something like “Centrino”, which sounds like the biggest little penny-slot machine in the world. I would quite comfortable guessing that NVDIMM was named by an engineer.
This is AgigA Tech's module, who provides the capacitors for Micron and their NVDIMMs.
The actual makeup of NVDIMMs is quite sensible: DIMMs are fast but die when the power goes out. You could prevent the power from going out but it takes quite a lot of battery life to keep a computer online for extended periods of time. NAND Flash is quite slow, relative to DIMMs, in normal operation but can persist without power for very long periods of time. Also, modern-day capacitors are efficient and durable enough to keep DIMMs powered for long enough to be copied to flash memory.
As such, if the power goes out: memory is dumped to flash on the same chip. When power is restored, DIMMs get reloaded and continue on their merry way.
According to the Micron press release, the first NVDIMM was demonstrated last November at SC12. That module contained twice as much NAND as it did DIMM memory: 8GB of Flash for 4GB of RAM. Micron did not specify why they required having that much extra Flash memory although my gut instinct is to compensate for write wearing problems. A two-fold increase to offset NAND that had just one too many write operations seems like quite a lot compared to consumer drives. That said, SSDs do not have to weather half of their whole capacity being written to each time the computer shuts down.
Who knows, double-provisioning might even be too little in practice.
Subject: Systems | February 6, 2013 - 10:55 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xbmc 12, SFF, openelec 3.0, htpc, arctic
Arctic has released a small form factor PC that comes pre-installed with the recently-released XBMC 12 media center software. The Arctic MC001-XBMC is available in the United States and Europe. It measures 161 x 40 x 266mm with the PC attached to the stand. The MC001-XBMC comes in black or white and should fit easily into your AV rack.
The HTPC can be used to playback a variety of music and video file formats and can also be used as a network attached storage (NAS) device. On the software side of things, it comes pre-loaded with XBMC 12 “Frodo” and Openelec 3.0. It can act as a media center and television PVR.
The HTPC is powered by a dual core Intel Atom D525 processor clocked at 1.8GHz, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5430 with 512MB of GDDR3 memory, 2GB DDR3 1333MHz system memory, and a 1TB laptop hard drive (5400 RPM). Networking is handled by a Gigabit Ethernet controller and a 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi radio.
The front of the system includes an IR receiver, two USB 3.0 ports, two audio jacks (headphone/mic), and a card reader. The back of the MC001-XBMC features the following IO options.
- 6 x analog audio jacks
- 1 x S/PDIF optical audio output
- 1 x VGA
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x RJ45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
- 5 x USB 2.0
- 1 x DVB-T connector for the ATSC tuner
- 1 x DC power jack (19V, 60W)
The XBMC 12 UI is a Windows Media Center alternative, and while setting up TV recording features requires additional software and is more difficult to setup it is otherwise a decent media center experience. Users can control the HTPC using the included infrared remote or via apps on Android or iOS smartphones.
The MC001-XBMC comes with a two year warranty and has an MSRP of $229 US or EUR 199. It is no speed demon by any means, but the SFF system is plenty of hardware to playback up to 1080p video files.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | February 5, 2013 - 05:10 PM | Scott Michaud
Dell, dude, you're getting a Dell!
So it is official that Dell is going private. Michael Dell, CEO, as well as: Silver Lake, MSD Capital, several banks, and Dell itself will buy back stocks from investors 25% above the January 11th trading price. The whole deal would be worth $24.4 billion USD.
Going private allows the company to make big shifts in their business without answering to investors on a quarterly basis. We can see how being a publicly traded company seems to hinder businesses after they grow beyond what a cash infusion can assist. Even Apple finds it necessary to keep an absolutely gigantic pile of cash to play with, only recently paying dividends to investors.
Also contributing to the buyback, as heavily reported, is a $2 billion USD loan from Microsoft. While it sounds like a lot in isolation, it is only just over 8% of the whole deal. All you really can pull is that it seems like Microsoft supports Dell in their decision and is putting their money where their intentions are.
Subject: Systems | February 3, 2013 - 09:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mintbox, mint, linux, fitpc3, compulab
The MintBox is a small form factor, fanless computer released in summer 2012. It was developed in collaboration between CompuLab and the Linux Mint project. At launch, the base model retailed for $476, but CompuLab has cut the price by almost $100 to kick off 2013.
The MintBox basic is powered by a dual core AMD G-T40N APU clocked at 1.0 GHz, 4GB of RAM, an APU-integrated Radeon G290 GPU, and 250GB hard drive. The system has a aluminum chassis that acts as a heatsink. It is essentially CompuLab’s fitPC3 case with a few custom tweaks to add the Linux Mint logo. Further, it comes pre-loaded with the Linux Mint 13 operating system. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 radios are included as well as two mini-PCIe cards and one mSATA connector (for an SSD).
The front of the MintBox has four USB 2.0 ports surrounding the Mint logo. The rear of the MintBox includes the following connectivity options:
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x DisplayPort
- 1 x S/PDIF
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x eSATA
- 1 x RS232 serial port
- 2 x external Wi-Fi antennas .
In many respects, the MintBox resembles a typical home wireless router, but it is actually a full PC. Before shipping and any applicatable taxes, the MintBox Basic is $379. Reportedly, 10% of the proceeds will go towards the Linux Mint project to assist with development of the open source operating system. While the hardware itself is not new, Mint and CompuLab are offering up a healthy discount which may bring it more in line with Intel’s NUC systems. It may not be as fast, but it will cost less and is pre-configured unlike the DIY NUC.
Have you been looking to get a small form factor system? What do you think about a fanless box running Linux Mint for your next PC?
Subject: Systems | January 28, 2013 - 07:20 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nuc, Intel, DC3217IYE
The new Intel NUC DC3217IYE is a tiny little system with a Core i3-3217U on a QS77 Express chipset with a pair of HDMI ports, three USB 2.0 ports, WiFi, ethernet and a mini PCIe slot that can handle mSATA, which is good as there is no internal storage apart from that. Once you have purchased the NUC, all you need to do is install an mSATA drive and RAM and you have a fully functional system. The inclusion of a Core i3 processor helps make the performance of the NUC significantly better than what it would be with an Atom and while the HD4000 is good for some applications it is not a strong gamer. X-bit Labs likes the idea of the NUC but questions the $300 price it will command.
"Intel decided to give it a shot in the ultra-compact desktop systems market. And they immediately came up with a unique product: a miniature system case only 12x11x4 cm in size based on Core i3 processor. It boasts a truly impressive combination of features, but does it make practical sense to give us a large desktop box in favor of a tiny guy like that?"
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- The Hardware.Info 2013 PC Buyer's Guide
- Dell XPS One 27 Touch Review @ TechReviewSource
- Toshiba Satellite LX835-D3380 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Apple iMac 27 inch 2012 review: Mac XL @ Hardware.info
- Samsung Series 7 All-in-one PC 700A3D @ Hardware.info
- OcUK Titan 8350a King Cobra MK2 @ Kitguru
Subject: Systems | January 23, 2013 - 05:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: htpc, ceton, my media center, win8, Metro
Ceton's My Media Center is a replacement interface for Windows Media Center's UI, allowing you to control functions on a device separate from the display which is connected to your WMC. That means that any device running the Metro interface of Win8, which is any flavour of Win8, can be set up to connect to your HTPC and allow you to control WMC even if you are out of the house and it won't interfere with anyone who happens to be using it at the time. The Companion software is loaded onto both the HTPC and the secondary device and with a little configuration, which Missing Remote details here, you will be in full control of WMC from anywhere.
"Earlier today a new Windows 8 "Metro" version of Ceton's suite of applications for managing Windows Media Center joined the existing lineup of Andriod, Windows Phone and iOS companion apps priced at $4.99. As part of this effort they were rebranded from "Ceton Companion Apps" to "My Media Center". All the great functionality for browsing recordings, managing series and scheduling, and browsing the guide is still there, but this time Windows 8 tablet and desktop "Metro" users can also join the party. We had a chance to take an early spin through the updated UI, let's dig in."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- ASRock VisionX 321B Ivy Bridge HTPC @ Tweaktown
- Fractal Design Node 304 Mini-ITX Case @ Kitguru
- Sony Vegas Pro 12: A Quick Look at a New Standard in Video Editing @ Legit Reviews
- AVerMedia RECentral Live Gamer HD Capture Card @ eTeknix
- Sling Media Slingbox 500 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Asus O!Play Mini Plus Smart TV Set-Top Box Review @ eTeknix
Subject: Systems | January 16, 2013 - 12:30 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: VIA, pico-itx, embedded system, cortex a8, arm
VIA has launched a new small form factor PC for embedded applications and powered by ARM hardware. The ARMOS-800 is ruggedized and low power. It features a fanless design with an aluminum chassis that can operate between -40 and 80 degrees Celsius.
Internal hardware includes a pico-ITX motherboard, and Freescale ARM Cortex A8 processor clocked at 800MHz. It also has two integrated GPUs capable of dual display outputs. Other specifications include 1GB DDR3 SDRAM, 4GB eMMC internal storage, and a microSD card slot.
IO options on the ARMOS-800 include a COM port, DIO port, CAN port, and three audio jacks (line in, line out, and mic in). Rear IO includes one VGA, one HDMI, one Ethernet jack (10/100), three USB 2.0 ports, and an optional VNT9271 Wi-Fi card attached via an internal USB header.
The ARMOS-800 PC uses an average of 3.14W during normal operation. It can officially support Android 2.3 or Embedded Linux 2.6. The PC measures 15 x 4.6 x 10.8 centimeters. The ARMOS-800 is available now. You can find more information on the VIA product page.
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