CES 2013 Video: Gigabyte Shows 4K Display Support and Thin Mini-ITX Boards

Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Displays, Systems | January 9, 2013 - 09:38 PM |
Tagged: video, thunderbolt, thin itx, mini ITX, ces 2013, CES, 4k

One of our final stops at CES this year was to visit with our friends at Gigabyte to see what they had to show off.  Right off the bat we found an impressive 4K display configuration with four 1080p monitors.  Running off of Gigabyte's GA-Z77X-UP5TH dual-Thunderbolt motherboard, each of the ports was split using a Lenovo adapter, each connecting to a pair of the monitors on the quad-display stand.  The result is a stunning 3840x2160 display configuration running completely off of the Intel HD 4000 graphics and the Core i7 processor.

Colin also showed us Gigabyte's push into the world of DIY and OEM All-in-One designs with a couple of motherboards based on the thin mini-ITX standard.  These boards are the same X/Y dimensions with a lower Z-height and very specific layout rules so that enclosures, cooling and components can be standardized. 

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CES 2013: Valve Announces Steam Box Not Announced in '13

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2013 - 02:44 PM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2013, valve, Steam Box

CES opened with excitement from Xi3 Corporation and their announcement of the Piston. When Gabe Newell spoke with Kotaku at the VGAs he said that we would see Big Picture PCs this year. With word that Xi3 received funding from Valve some of us, including myself, wondered if this Piston was Valve’s “Nexus” Steam Box.

Ben Krasnow, hardware engineer at Valve, comments in the video below about whether we have seen Valve’s canonical Steam Box or if there are any planned announcements for 2013.

Thank you Ben.

There seems to be some discrepancies between statements from Krasnow and Valve Managing Director, Gabe Newell. The major deviation concerns whether the official Steam Box will be based on Linux or another operating system. When interviewed by The Verge, Gabe Newell claimed the official box will be based on Linux with no unclear terms:

We’ll come out with our own and we’ll sell it to consumers by ourselves. That’ll be a Linux box, [and] if you want to install Windows you can. We’re not going to make it hard. This is not some locked box by any stretch of the imagination.

Krasnow in an email discussion with Engadget was somewhat more timid in future plans. The Engadget article was published on the same day as the The Verge interview which makes neither position particularly out of date. His statement:

"The box might be linux-based, but it might not," he continued. "It's true that we are beta-testing Left for Dead 2 on Linux, and have also been public about Steam Big Picture Mode. We are also working on virtual and augmented reality hardware, and also have other hardware projects that have not been disclosed yet, but probably will be in 2013."

At the same point this might all become irrelevant very quickly. As reported yesterday, Gabe Newell in the very same interview seemed to strongly suggest that post-Kepler GPUs will bring virtualization to the consumer market. If that is the case, then the only barrier between Linux and Windows would be for a company to provide a user-friendly virtual machine. Having your host operating system as one or the other would not particularly matter if the user could run gaming applications from the other platform.

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Source: Engadget

SolidRun Launches CuBox Pro Miniature Desktop Computer

Subject: Systems | January 9, 2013 - 10:36 AM |
Tagged: ubuntu, solidrun, linux, desktop, cubox pro, cubox, computer

Israeli-startup SolidRun is launching an updated model of its CuBox mini PC called the CuBox Pro. The small desktop computer measures 2 x 2 x 2-inches and weighs a mere 91 grams. The CuBox Pro is not only small in size, it also sips a mere 3 watts at full load. It comes pre-loaded with Ubuntu Linux, but the CuBox Pro can be loaded with alternative operating systems by way of a microSD card. The hardware is nothing spectacular on the performance front, but it is capable of 1080p HD video playback. Interestingly, Youtube user rabeeh3000 reported that the CuBox Pro draws less than 2.5 Watts while playing a HD movie in XBMC.

SolidRun CuBox Pro.jpg

Speaking of hardware, the CuBox Pro is powered by a Marvell ARMADA 510 SoC clocked at 800 MHz. It is supported by 2GB of DDR3 memory, and internal storage is handled by a microSD card slot.

Rear IO on the CuBox Pro includes two USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI video output, one eSATA connector, one Gigabit Ethernet port, DC power jack, and a single S/PDIF audio output on the side of the case. Further, the CuBox Pro has an infrared receiver, which will enable remotes to be used with media center software.

SolidRun CuBox Pro Computer IO.jpg

The CuBox Pro is slated to be available sometime in January for $159. Alternatively, the original CuBox with 1GB of DDR3 is available for $139. Admittedly, it is a bit pricey considering there are cheaper options like the Raspberry Pi but you are getting a complete OEM system (whereas you would have to add an SD card, USB infrared receiver, and case to the price of the Pi).

You can find more information abou the CuBox computer on the SolidRun website

Source: Venture Beat

CES 2013: Razer Edge Back Again. Fiona Always Was Edgy.

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2013 - 02:58 AM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2013, razer

Last year Project Fiona was presented by Razer and we felt as awkward about it as it looked.

This is a new year and it looks like Razer took a bit of feedback from critics of yester-CES. The design itself looks quite similar than it did except that the controller-handles are now detachable. The Edge can operate in four different modes: tablet, keyboard, the controller-handles, and “home console” mode.

The Home Console mode allows you to dock your tablet and access it using 3 USB ports, HDMI, and 3.5mm audio in/out. You can use it as a desktop or as a home theatre PC. Also with Steam’s Big Picture Mode it sees the big picture as a potential Steam Box.

The technical specifications are slightly more solid than last year:

  • Intel Core i7 (2 core, 4 threads) @ 1.9GHz Turbo to 3.0GHz
  • Intel HD 4000/NVIDIA GT 640M LE
  • 8GB DDR3
  • 126/256GB SSD
  • Intel WLAN (B/G/N + Bluetooth 4.0)
  • 10.1” IPS 1366x768 10-point touchscreen
  • Windows 8

So what do you think? While I expect it will be out of my budget and I would probably just barely survive on 256GB due to recent 20-25GB games -- I think it looks pretty good.

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Source: Razer

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.

Gaben.jpg

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.

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Source: The Verge

CES 2013: ASUS Systems with No Two Alike

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2013 - 03:31 PM |
Tagged: ces 2013, CES, asus

ASUS has a lot of products to get through so there is no sense in waiting.

ASUS-Systems-1.jpg

The ASUS TAICHI is back in the news with a second model but only one capitalization: upper. As we said in the last article, the device uses two 11.6” 1080p touch displays on both sides of the lid to show mirrored or even unique information to the user and to people behind the laptop. With the lid closed the laptop will then also function as a tablet. The newer addition to the TAICHI family increases the screen size to 13.3”.

  • 11.6” 1080p or 13.3” (unlisted, probably also 1080p) IPS Dual touch-displays.
  • Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 or i7 processor
  • Intel HD 4000 GPU
  • USB 3.0
  • 4GB of RAM (11.6”, 13.3” unlisted)

ASUS-Systems-2.jpg

The ASUS Transformer AiO is an all-in-one computer with a dockable 18.4” tablet. The dock contains a full-featured desktop with the tablet containing a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra processor. The device uses both Windows 8 for the base station or Android 4.1 for the tablet. When the tablet is removed from its base it is still able to function in Windows 8 mode by communicating wirelessly with the base station.

  • 18.4” 1080p IPS display with 10-points of touch recognition
  • Intel Ivy Bridge processor

ASUS-Systems-3.jpg

The ASUS Transformer Book TX300CA runs in the same vein as the popular Android-based Transformer Prime: a tablet able to dock into a keyboard to function as a laptop. The TX300CA differs from its Prime counterpart by running full Windows 8 on an Intel processor. If you wanted a Transformer Prime but are too locked in to Windows then you might want to look at this.

  • Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor
  • Intel HD 4000 GPU
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • Both an SSD and a HDD
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB 3.0
  • Dual Cameras: “HD” (720p?) front-facing and 5MP rear-facing
  • 13” 1080p IPS multi-touch display

ASUS-Systems-4.jpg

The ASUS VivoTab Smart Tablet utilizes Clover Trail for a full Windows 8 experience. Unlike the prior models there is not a whole lot to discuss apart from its tech specs below!

  • Intel Clover Trail Atom Z2760 dual-core
  • 10.1” 1366x768 IPS LED 5-point touch display
  • 9.5 hour battery life
  • Dual Cameras: 2MP front-facing and 8MP rear-facing
  • NFC sensor

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Source: ASUS

CES 2013: Valve Talks Piston, Better Listen. Steam Box!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2013 - 02:06 PM |
Tagged: Xi3, valve, trinity, Steam Box, ces 2013, CES, amd

Going from a failed Kickstarter to Valve’s premier console? Sounds like a good anecdote to tell.

Valve has finally discussed the Steam Box in more concrete details. Get ready for some analysis; there are a bunch of hidden stories to be told. We will tell them.

Update for clarity: As discussed in IRC technically this was an Xi3 announcement that Valve will have at their booth but not an official Valve announcement. That said, Valve will have it at their booth and Valve funded Xi3.

Another Update for new information: Turns out this is not the Valve-official device. Ben Krasnow, Valve hardware engineer, made a statement that the official Steam Box is not planned to be announced in 2013. What we will see this year is 3rd Party implementations, and that should be it. News story to follow.

ValvePiston.jpg

Image by Engadget

As everyone is reporting, Valve hired out Xi3 Corporation to develop the Steam Box under the codename Piston. Xi3Corporation was founded in 2010 and revealed their first product at CES two years ago. In late September, Xi3 launched an unsuccessful Kickstarter to fund their latest designs: The X7A and the X3A.

The X7A Modular Computer is the most interesting as it seems to be what the Piston is based on. Regardless of the Kickstarter’s failure, Valve still reached out to Xi3 Corporation chequebook in hand. According to the Kickstarter page, the X7A has the following features:

  • 64-Bit Quad-Core x86 processor up to 3.2 GHz with 384 graphics shader cores.
    • My personal best guess is the AMD A10-4600M Trinity APU.
  • 8GB of DDR3 RAM
  • 1 TB of “Superfast” Solid State Memory
  • Four USB 3.0
  • Four USB 2.0
  • Four eSATAp
  • Gigabit E
  • 40Watt under load
  • “Under $1000” although that includes 1TB of SSD storage.
    • Also Valve could take a loss, because Steam has no problem with attach rate.

The key piece of information is the 40Watt declaration. According to Engadget who went hands-on with the Valve Piston, it too is rated for 40Watt under load. This means that it is quite likely for the core specifications of the Kickstarter to be very similar to the specifications of the Piston.

Benchmarks for the 7660G have the device running Far Cry 3 on low settings at around 34 FPS as well as Black Ops 2 running on Medium at 42 FPS. That said, with a specific hardware platform to target developers will be able to better optimize.

During the SpikeTV VGAs, Gabe Newell stated in an interview with Kotaku that third parties would also make “Steam Boxes”. They are expected to be available at some point in 2013.

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Source: Engadget

CES 2013 Video: ASUS Transformer All-in-One Merges Windows 8 and Android

Subject: Systems | January 8, 2013 - 01:29 AM |
Tagged: Transformer, ces 2013, CES, asus, all-in-one, AIO

There is a new category of computer coming out this year that revolves around tablets that are bigger than you might be comfortable with.  We saw the first example of this with the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon launched yesterday in the form of a 27-in AIO with a 2 hour battery life.  ASUS was demonstrating another one they are calling the Transformer AIO that actually goes a step further by combining standard Core processor technology in the base and Tegra 3 technology in the display. 

The AIO is an 18.4-in 1080p system with standard Intel Core i5 and Core i7 platforms running the full version of Windows 8.  However, the user can push a button on the side of the system to switch on the fly between Windows 8 and an Android system powered by NVIDIA's Tegra 3.  Even better, you can remove the display from the Transformer AIO (hence the name) and use it as a rather large tablet with 4-5 hours of battery life AND you can stream the Windows 8 system to it via wireless display technology.

It is a really slick system - check out the video below!

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CES 2013 Tidbits: PaperTab Tablet

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2013 - 03:54 PM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2013, PaperTab, Intel, Plastic Logic, Queen's University

It is not just the big companies who have a presence at CES. Sometimes there are smaller products that are worth looking into. For that, we have CES 2013 Tidbits.

human media lab, a center at Queen’s University which I should preface is my Alma Mater, brought their thin and flexible tablet to the trade show. Input is performed by touching its screen, manipulating the flexible chassis, touching tablets together, or arranging them on the desk.

Technically speaking, the tablet is based on a 10.7” high resolution flexible touchscreen developed by Plastic Logic. The logic behind the plastic is controlled by an Intel Core i5 Sandy Bridge processor although no other technical specs have been released.

The tablet was developed as a collaborative effort between human media lab and their partners, Intel and Plastic Logic. The crux of their user interface envisions tablets as a multi-monitor experience and then imagines what forms of interactions are possible as a result.

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CES 2013: ZOTAC Has a New ZBOX mini-PC

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2013 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: zotac, nuc, ces 2013, CES

Zotac-ZBOXbanner.jpg

If you were interested in the Intel NUC review from mid-December then you might be interested in its competitors.

ZOTAC has been making small form factor PCs for three years at this point. This, 3rd, iteration contains the NVIDIA GeForce GT 610 graphics cart with a 2nd Generation Intel Core processor. With the ZBOX you can stream video and other content using dual Gigabit Ethernet or dual external Wi-Fi antennas. Unlike Intel, ZOTAC is making a big deal about its cooling capabilities of its new chassis.

Zotac-ZBOX2.jpg

They will also be keeping their 2nd generation ZBOX chassis available, presumably for those who would be upset about a 7mm increase in size, with an Intel HD 4000 GPU. No discussion that I could find about price or release date however.

Press release after the break.

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Source: ZOTAC