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Hide yer wallets! Steam's Summer Sale kicks off tomorrow

Subject: General Tech | June 21, 2017 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: steam sale, gaming

Is that list of Steam games you own but haven't played getting a little shorter?  Well, there is a solution to that as the on of the most dangerous causes of impulse buying starts tomorrow.  Paypal let the cat out of the bag and Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN spotted it, along with the launch time for the UK, 6pm BST on 22 June.  The reason PayPal revealed the start of the sale is because they are offering a bit of a deal in the UK and possibly the rest of the world, if you buy more than £20 of games and pay for it with PayPal you get an extra £5 off.

Perhaps this is a good time to head out of town and spend the weekend somewhere without internet connectivity?

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"I assume you young people will be dragging your camping stools to the Steam storefront from 21 June, nursing a thermos of something nutritious and exchanging stories about the time you queued for something else with your fellow queuers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

An EPYC slide deck

Subject: General Tech | June 21, 2017 - 12:21 PM |
Tagged: EPYC, amd, instinct

[H]ard|OCP were at AMD's launch of the new EPYC family of server CPUs and captured the presentation and slide deck in a series of photos you can take a look at right here.  They cover the work being done with HP and Dell, as well as with internet service providers such as Microsoft's Azure platform and China's Baidu.  They even give you a look at some of the products which will be launched running on Supermicro platforms.  AMD is looking very attractive to server builders at the moment, a feeling you may already have garnered from reading Ryan's take on EPYC.

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"AMD held it official EPYC enterprise CPU launch today in Austin, TX. If you are not aware of EPYC, it is quite simply AMD's effort to get back into the datacenters that are now firmly held by Intel Xeon processors. What do you get when you take 4 Ryzen 7 CPUs and put those down on a single package with Infinity Fabric? You would be correct, its EPYC."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Behold the Palette

Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2017 - 04:05 PM |
Tagged: input, Palette, blame canada, MIDI

As you can see, the Palette is not your normal keyboard nor mouse. Instead is is a collection of buttons, dials and sliders which communicate via the MIDI standard and is intended to help you with programs like Adobe Premier Pro, Photoshop, or Capture One.  The Palette can be rearranged however you like, magnets hold it together to ensure that signal can travel between the blocks in whatever arrangement you prefer.  The core module, with the LCD screen, houses the USB connector to plug it into your system as well as the Atmel AT90USB1286 8-bit brains of the device.  You can connect up to 18 modules due to the power delivery limitations of USB, or 32 if you can provide additional power.  TechPowerUp found numerous uses for the device, drop to check it our and perhaps to be inspired.

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"Palette is a startup that aims to elevate the current standard of human-computer interaction. Their modular controllers based off the MIDI standard use a combination of buttons, dials, and sliders to lower workflow time for content creators. The PaletteApp driver helps with built-in support for over 15 popular programs from Adobe and others, and profile support enables quick changes in functionality for individual modules."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: TechPowerUp
Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

EPYC makes its move into the data center

Because we traditionally focus and feed on the excitement and build up surrounding consumer products, the AMD Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 launches were huge for us and our community. Finally seeing competition to Intel’s hold on the consumer market was welcome and necessary to move the industry forward, and we are already seeing the results of some of that with this week’s Core i9 release and pricing. AMD is, and deserves to be, proud of these accomplishments. But from a business standpoint, the impact of Ryzen on the bottom line will likely pale in comparison to how EPYC could fundamentally change the financial stability of AMD.

AMD EPYC is the server processor that takes aim at the Intel Xeon and its dominant status on the data center market. The enterprise field is a high margin, high profit area and while AMD once had significant share in this space with Opteron, that has essentially dropped to zero over the last 6+ years. AMD hopes to use the same tactic in the data center as they did on the consumer side to shock and awe the industry into taking notice; AMD is providing impressive new performance levels while undercutting the competition on pricing.

Introducing the AMD EPYC 7000 Series

Targeting the single and 2-socket systems that make up ~95% of the market for data centers and enterprise, AMD EPYC is smartly not trying to swing over its weight class. This offers an enormous opportunity for AMD to take market share from Intel with minimal risk.

epyc-13.jpg

Many of the specifications here have been slowly shared by AMD over time, including at the recent financial analyst day, but seeing it placed on a single slide like this puts everything in perspective. In a single socket design, servers will be able to integrate 32 cores with 64 threads, 8x DDR4 memory channels with up to 2TB of memory capacity per CPU, 128 PCI Express 3.0 lanes for connectivity, and more.

Worth noting on this slide, and was originally announced at the financial analyst day as well, is AMD’s intent to maintain socket compatibility going forward for the next two generations. Both Rome and Milan, based on 7nm technology, will be drop-in upgrades for customers buying into EPYC platforms today. That kind of commitment from AMD is crucial to regain the trust of a market that needs those reassurances.

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Here is the lineup as AMD is providing it for us today. The model numbers in the 7000 series use the second and third characters as a performance indicator (755x will be faster than 750x, for example) and the fourth character to indicate the generation of EPYC (here, the 1 indicates first gen). AMD has created four different core count divisions along with a few TDP options to help provide options for all types of potential customers. It is worth noting that though this table might seem a bit intimidating, it is drastically more efficient when compared to the Intel Xeon product line that exists today, or that will exist in the future.  AMD is offering immediate availability of the top five CPUs in this stack, with the bottom four due before the end of July.

Continue reading about the AMD EPYC data center processor!

Lightning strikes again, MSI's new GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 20, 2017 - 02:02 PM |
Tagged: msi, LIGHTNING Z, gtx 1080 ti, factory overclocked

MSI have expanded their Lightning line with a new GTX 1080 Ti GPU.  The Lightning line comes with three profiles, including one which bears the name of the family, which will set your GPU to a boost clock of 1721 MHz, 1607 MHz base.  The other two modes are Gaming, which runs at 1695 MHz boost, 1582 MHz base and a Silent mode running at 1582 MHz/1480MHz. 

lightning.jpg

This GPU shares the high end features appearing on many MSI cards, the TRI-FROZR cooler with TORX 2.0 fans and SuperPipes as well as Military Class 4 components and a 10-layer PCB with 14 power phases for the GPU and 3 for the memory.  What is somewhat new is the RGB infection, which can be controlled by MSI's Mystic Light app to create your own personalized light show.

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Check out the full PR below.

MSI is proud to officially announce the latest of its legendary LIGHTNING graphics cards. Built to be perfect, the new GeForce® GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z combines cutting edge new technology with proven features such as TRI-FROZR design with TORX 2.0 Fans, SuperPipe technology and Military Class 4 components. The GeForce® GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z is nothing short of an engineering masterpiece.

Unmatched Thermal Design
MSI Torx Fan 2.0MSI’s reputation in thermal design is well-known to be excellent. The improved TRI-FROZR design on the GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z utilizes two 10cm and one 9cm TORX 2.0 Fans combining the advantages of both traditional fan blade and dispersion fan blade, generating huge amounts of airflow while remaining virtually silent. Two 8mm SuperPipes transfer heat much faster to the fins, enabling up to a whopping 700W of heat dissipation.

Mystic Light Sync with Brilliant RGB Effect
MSI’s Mystic Light enables you tocustomize the RGB effects of your hardware to give your system a different look whenever you feel like it. Using the MSI Mystic Light software, you can even synchronize colors and effects of your graphics card, motherboard, case-fans and peripherals. Give yourself or the audience a show!

Dual BIOS and Enhanced Power Design
The special LN2 BIOS on the card provides extreme overclockers more capibility for overclocking records without special hardware modifications. By removing restrictions, the full potential of the graphics card is unlocked. The enhanced power design contains more power phases than other models to ensure plenty of power is available for record-breaking performance. LIGHTNING’s custom 10-layer PCB is fitted with 14 phases for GPU and 3 phases for Memory to ensure power delivery can handle the most extreme loads.

Military Class 4 Components
Equipped with Military Class 4 components, the MSI GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z is built to deliver the best quality and stability. The components have gone through rigorous testing by a third-party laboratory to satisfy the MIL-STD-810G standard. Featuring DrMOS 60A power phases, the highest rated available ensuring plenty of power. Hi-C CAP cores, Super Ferrite Choke, and Solid CAP, each aspect of the LIGHTNING Z ensures the best possible performance.

On-board and in control
With MSI's exclusive OC kits you're in complete control of the GTX 1080 Ti LIGHTNING Z. V-Check points allow you to accurately measure GPU, Memory and PLL voltages. Multiple Temp Monitor checks the real-time temperatures of the GPU, Memory and PLL while Quadruple Overvoltage allows you to overvolt those same components in order to achieve higher clock speeds.

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Source: MSI

That new battery is sick!

Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2017 - 01:38 PM |
Tagged: battery

Researchers from the University of Maryland have come up with an interesting new use for the tobacco mosaic virus; significantly increasing the surface area of electrodes.  The increase is quite impressive, a 3.6-fold improvement in areal capacitance over a planar equivalent due to the increased surface area created by the nickel oxide coated TMV.  Not only does this research offer improvements in supercapacitors it opens up a new area of research which could enhance a wide variety of electrically charged devices.  Drop by Nanotechweb for a look at the science behind this.

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"Scientists in the US have devised a microfabrication method that uses capillary channels in a photoresist to position nanorods of the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). The team used the quick and simple new approach to create a supercapacitor with nanostructured electrodes, and the method can be applied to construct many other microdevices requiring high surface areas."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Nanotechweb

AIDA64 Version 5.92 Released

Subject: Processors | June 19, 2017 - 11:48 PM |
Tagged: LGA2066, Intel X299, Intel Skylake-X, Intel Kaby Lake-X, FinalWire, aida64

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Courtesy of FinalWire

Today, FinalWire Ltd. announced the release of version 5.92 of their diagnostic and benchmarking tool, AIDA64. This new version updates their Extreme Edition, Engineer Edition, and Business Edition of the software, available here.

The latest version of AIDA64 has been optimized to work with Intel's newest processors, the Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processors, as well as the Intel X299 "Union Point" chipset. The benchmarks and performance tests housed within AIDA64 have been updated for the Intel X299 chipset and processor line to utilize Advanced Vector Extensions 2 (AVX2), Fused Multiply-Add (FMA) instructions, and AES-NI hardware acceleration integrated into the new line of Intel processors.

New features include:

  • AVX2 and FMA accelerated 64-bit benchmarks for Intel Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X CPUs
  • Improved support for AMD Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 processors
  • Support for Pertelian (RS232) external LCD device
  • Corsair K55 RGB LED keyboard support
  • Corsair Glaive RGB LED mouse support
  • 20 processor groups support
  • NVMe 1.3, WDDM 2.2 support
  • Advanced support for Areca RAID controllers
  • GPU details for AMD Radeon RX 500 Series
  • GPU details for nVIDIA GeForce GT 1030, GeForce MX150, Titan Xp

Software updates new to this release (since AIDA64 v5.00):

  • AVX and FMA accelerated FP32 and FP64 ray tracing benchmarks
  • Vulkan graphics accelerator diagnostics
  • RemoteSensor smartphone and tablet LCD integration
  • Logitech Arx Control smartphone and tablet LCD integration
  • Microsoft Windows 10 Creators Update support
  • Proper DPI scaling to better support high-resolution LCD and OLED displays
  • AVX and FMA accelerated 64-bit benchmarks for AMD A-Series Bristol Ridge and Carrizo APUs
  • AVX2 and FMA accelerated 64-bit benchmarks for AMD Ryzen Summit Ridge processors
  • AVX2 and FMA accelerated 64-bit benchmarks for Intel Broadwell, Kaby Lake and Skylake CPUs
  • AVX and SSE accelerated 64-bit benchmarks for AMD Nolan APU
  • Optimized 64-bit benchmarks for Intel Apollo Lake, Braswell and Cherry Trail processors
  • Preliminary support for AMD Zen APUs and Zen server processors
  • Preliminary support for Intel Gemini Lake SoC and Knights Mill HPC CPU
  • Improved support for Intel Cannonlake, Coffee Lake, Denverton CPUs
  • Advanced SMART disk health monitoring
  • Hot Keys to switch LCD pages, start or stop logging, show or hide SensorPanel
  • Corsair K65, K70, K95, Corsair Strafe, Logitech G13, G19, G19s, G910, Razer Chroma RGB LED keyboard support
  • Corsair, Logitech, Razer RGB LED mouse support
  • Corsair and Razer RGB LED mousepad support
  • AlphaCool Heatmaster II, Aquaduct, Aquaero, AquaStream XT, AquaStream Ultimate, Farbwerk, MPS, NZXT GRID+ V2, NZXT Kraken X52, PowerAdjust 2, PowerAdjust 3 sensor devices support
  • Improved Corsair Link sensor support
  • NZXT Kraken water cooling sensor support
  • Corsair AXi, Corsair HXi, Corsair RMi, Enermax Digifanless, Thermaltake DPS-G power supply unit sensor support
  • Support for EastRising ER-OLEDM032 (SSD1322), Gravitech, LCD Smartie Hardware, Leo Bodnar, Modding-FAQ, Noteu, Odospace, Saitek Pro Flight Instrument Panel, Saitek X52 Pro, UCSD LCD devices
  • Portrait mode support for AlphaCool and Samsung SPF LCDs
  • System certificates information
  • Support for LGA-1151 and Socket AM4 motherboards
  • Advanced support for Adaptec and Marvell RAID controllers
  • Autodetect information and SMART drive health monitoring for Intel and Samsung NVMe SSDs

About FinalWire

AIDA64 is developed by FinalWire Ltd., headquartered in Budapest, Hungary. The company’s founding members are veteran software developers who have worked together on programming system utilities for more than two decades. Currently, they have ten products in their portfolio, all based on the award-winning AIDA technology: AIDA64 Extreme, AIDA64 Engineer, AIDA64 Network Audit, AIDA64 Business and AIDA64 for Android,, iOS, Sailfish OS, Tizen, Ubuntu Touch and Windows Phone. For more information, visit www.aida64.com.

Windows Server Follows Trend of Two Updates per Year

Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2017 - 08:59 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows server

Microsoft seems to want to release feature updates for their software twice per year, once in the fall, and once in the spring. First, Office 365 announced that it would adopt a semi-annual schedule, targeting September and March, give or take a bit. The Windows team then announced that they would follow in Office’s footsteps.

Now, the Windows Server team has followed suit.

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It’s interesting, because Windows Server typically pushes out two major versions every four or five years: one with a number, and another with that same number alongside an R2 suffix. Each of these lines up with a consumer refresh of the NT kernel, although both Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003 R2 used the same kernel... because Windows XP lasted a while.

Sure, a lot of a name would normally be marketing, but it also gated the major features that Microsoft was able to add (because they wanted a single Windows release to interact with software fairly uniformly across its lifecycle for enterprise reasons). Now, with the whole company pushing the “as a service” model, even Windows Server will be on the feature release treadmill.

Source: Microsoft

Biostar's ITX Ryzen motherboard in action; the X370GTN

Subject: Motherboards | June 19, 2017 - 01:41 PM |
Tagged: itx, ryzen, biostar, Racing X370GTN, SFF

Barely the size of a Threadripper CPU, the Racing X370GTN ITX motherboard is a decent platform to build a Ryzen powered SFF system on.  Biostar kept the design fairly simple, to keep the costs down on this motherboard but don't worry, they did include RGB headers for 5050 RGB LED light strips and you can set up your personalized light show using the Racing GT utility.  Even with the compact design, Hardware Canucks were able to fully populate the two DIMM slots even with a Prolimatech Mega Shadow cooler installed, they did discover that users of AiO watercoolers will have to ensure to rotate the cooler to ensure the tubing does not block the closer DIMM however.  The M.2 slot has been relocated to the back of the motherboard due to the size constraints of the board which did not impact performance.  Pop by to take a look at this ~$110 motherboard if you are in the market for an ITX Ryzen system.

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"ITX motherboards have finally arrived for AMD's Ryzen and in this first review we look at Biostar's brand new Racing X370GTN. Can its diminutive size belie its true performance?"

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

 

New Entertainment System from Atari?!?

Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2017 - 12:59 PM |
Tagged: atari, nes, Jaguar

It has been over 20 years since Atari launched their Jaguar system, the last piece of hardware that company would make; until now perhaps.  There was a mysterious announcement and the launch of a website with little more information than a movie featuring rendered wood grain and plastic.  You can sign up at ataribox.com to become the first to know, if Nintendo decides to share more information.  It will be very interesting to see what components they have picked to run this new console, considering the high specifications of the new Xbawkx they will either need high end silicon or a much lower price to compete.  The video is down below and you can pop over to The Inquirer for more speculation if you so desire.

"The iconic company, which has had more lives than Garfield in a blender, is to release the Ataribox, which so far is shrouded in mystery, aside from the classic wood panelling that lovers of the 2300 and 2600 will know only too well."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer
Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: Intel

Specifications and Design

Intel is at an important crossroads for its consumer product lines. Long accused of ignoring the gaming and enthusiast markets, focusing instead on laptops and smartphones/tablets at the direct expense of the DIY user, Intel had raised prices and only shown limited ability to increase per-die performance over a fairly extended period. The release of the AMD Ryzen processor, along with the pending release of the Threadripper product line with up to 16 cores, has moved Intel into a higher gear; they are more prepared to increase features, performance, and lower prices now.

We have already talked about the majority of the specifications, pricing, and feature changes of the Core i9/Core i7 lineup with the Skylake-X designation, but it is worth including them here, again, in our review of the Core i9-7900X for reference purposes.

  Core i9-7980XE Core i9-7960X Core i9-7940X Core i9-7920X Core i9-7900X Core i7-7820X Core i7-7800X Core i7-7740X Core i5-7640X
Architecture Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Kaby Lake-X Kaby Lake-X
Process Tech 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+
Cores/Threads 18/36 16/32 14/28 12/24 10/20 8/16 6/12 4/8 4/4
Base Clock ? ? ? ? 3.3 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.5 GHz 4.3 GHz 4.0 GHz
Turbo Boost 2.0 ? ? ? ? 4.3 GHz 4.3 GHz 4.0 GHz 4.5 GHz 4.2 GHz
Turbo Boost Max 3.0 ? ? ? ? 4.5 GHz 4.5 GHz N/A N/A N/A
Cache 16.5MB (?) 16.5MB (?) 16.5MB (?) 16.5MB (?) 13.75MB 11MB 8.25MB 8MB 6MB
Memory Support ? ? ? ? DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666
Dual Channel
DDR4-2666 Dual Channel
PCIe Lanes ? ? ? ? 44 28 28 16 16
TDP 165 watts (?) 165 watts (?) 165 watts (?) 165 watts (?) 140 watts 140 watts 140 watts 112 watts 112 watts
Socket 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066
Price $1999 $1699 $1399 $1199 $999 $599 $389 $339 $242

There is a lot to take in here. The three most interesting points are that, one, Intel plans to one-up AMD Threadripper by offering an 18-core processor. Two, which is potentially more interesting, is that it also wants to change the perception of the X299-class platform by offering lower price, lower core count CPUs like the quad-core, non-HyperThreaded Core i5-7640X. Third, we also see the first ever branding of Core i9.

Intel only provided detailed specifications up to the Core i9-7900X, which is a 10-core / 20-thread processor that has a base clock of 3.3 GHz and a Turbo peak of 4.5 GHz (using the new Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0). It sports 13.75MB of cache thanks to an updated cache configuration, it includes 44 lanes of PCIe 3.0, an increase of 4 lanes over Broadwell-E, it has quad-channel DDR4 memory up to 2666 MHz and it has a 140 watt TDP. The new LGA2066 socket will be utilized. Pricing for this CPU is set at $999, which is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it is $700 less than the starting MSRP of the 10c/20t Core i7-6950X from one year ago; obviously a big plus. However, there is quite a ways UP the stack, with the 18c/36t Core i9-7980XE coming in at a cool $1999.

  Core i9-7900X Core i7-6950X Core i7-7700K
Architecture Skylake-X Broadwell-E Kaby Lake
Process Tech 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+
Cores/Threads 10/20 10/20 4/8
Base Clock 3.3 GHz 3.0 GHz 4.2 GHz
Turbo Boost 2.0 4.3 GHz 3.5 GHz 4.5 GHz
Turbo Boost Max 3.0 4.5 GHz 4.0 GHz N/A
Cache 13.75MB 25MB 8MB
Memory Support DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2400
Quad Channel
DDR4-2400
Dual Channel
PCIe Lanes 44 40 16
TDP 140 watts 140 watts 91 watts
Socket 2066 2011 1151
Price (Launch) $999 $1700 $339

The next CPU down the stack is compelling as well. The Core i7-7820X is the new 8-core / 16-thread HEDT option from Intel, with similar clock speeds to the 10-core above it (save the higher base clock). It has 11MB of L3 cache, 28-lanes of PCI Express (4 higher than Broadwell-E) but has a $599 price tag. Compared to the 8-core 6900K, that is ~$400 lower, while the new Skylake-X part iteration includes a 700 MHz clock speed advantage. That’s huge, and is a direct attack on the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X, which sells for $499 today and cut Intel off at the knees this March. In fact, the base clock of the Core i7-7820X is only 100 MHz lower than the maximum Turbo Boost clock of the Core i7-6900K!

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It is worth noting the performance gap between the 7820X and the 7900X. That $400 gap seems huge and out of place when compared to the deltas in the rest of the stack that never exceed $300 (and that is at the top two slots). Intel is clearly concerned about the Ryzen 7 1800X and making sure it has options to compete at that point (and below) but feels less threatened by the upcoming Threadripper CPUs. Pricing out the 10+ core CPUs today, without knowing what AMD is going to do for that, is a risk and could put Intel in the same position as it was in with the Ryzen 7 release.

Continue reading our review of the Intel Core i9-7900X Processor!

iFixit: Microsoft Surface Laptop Gets a Zero on Repairability

Subject: Systems | June 18, 2017 - 08:52 PM |
Tagged: ifixit, recycling, microsoft, surface laptop

It’s no surprise that many devices have been sacrificing user-serviceability in favor of small, light, and fast. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see device manufacturers forego even the ability to recycle them when they’re done, even if their components are theoretically made out of recyclable materials. (It doesn’t matter if it’s mostly metal and glass if they’re all glued together in a way that takes forever to separate.)

microsoft-2017-surfacelaptop-ifixitzero.png

In this case, the new Microsoft Surface Laptop gets a big zero from iFixit. For context, the iPad 3, which stirred a bit of controversy a few years ago, scored a two out of ten. Two major points that they made against it are “You can’t get inside without inflicting a lot of damage” and “The battery is difficult and dangerous to replace”. Yikes.

To be clear, sacrificing user-serviceability isn’t necessarily a bad thing (although I’d argue that recyclable components should always be installed in a recyclable way). As long as the user is aware that they are trading-off the ability to fix or upgrade the thing they purchase, then they can make the value decision for themselves.

And now potential customers know.

Source: iFixit

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson ReLive 17.6.2

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 18, 2017 - 07:33 AM |
Tagged: graphics drivers, amd

During E3, AMD released a new graphics driver, 17.6.2. It doesn’t list any general improvements, and just a single fixed issue: improved performance on DiRT 4 with 8xMSAA with the most recent game build. If you play this game, then you should consider updating your graphics driver.

amd-2016-crimson-relive-logo.png

If you aren't intending to play DiRT 4, and you're already on 17.6.1, then you could probably skip it. That said, if you have an issue, and it’s not listed in the Known Issues section, because those definitely aren’t fixed yet, then you can give it a try.

Source: AMD

IO Interactive (Hitman) Becomes Independent

Subject: General Tech | June 18, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, hitman

During the most recent SquareEnix financial earnings release (PDF) they announced that they would withdraw from IO Interactive, who makes the Hitman series of video games. Their most recent release, Hitman 2016, is one of our major benchmarks because it was one of the first titles to rework its engines for DirectX 12 (and it’s also a very pretty game). The previous game, Hitman: Absolution, was also featured on one of our live streams because it was an AMD Gaming Evolved / Never Settle title.

square-eidos-2015-hitman-stare.jpg

IO Interactive has followed-up with their own announcement. As of last Friday, they are now an independent studio, and they were able to negotiate both their management and the Hitman IP. “We are now open to opportunities with future collaborators and partners to help strengthen us as a studio and ensure that we can produce the best games possible for our community.” In other words, they don’t seem to have any publisher lined up, but the Hitman franchise should be enticing for many AAA-level companies.

Just a couple weeks earlier, IO Interactive also announced that new purchases of Hitman would automatically buy all episodes from the first season. Steam will, however, detect existing episodes and only bill you for the ones you’ve missed. They say that “these changes will help us lay the foundations for our future plans for HITMAN” but it’s unclear what they mean at this point.

Donate to the PC Perspective Mining Pool! A NiceHash How-to

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 17, 2017 - 09:23 PM |
Tagged: nicehash, mining, cryptocurrency

Over the last several weeks, we have been experimenting with the most recent GPU-shortage-inducing coin mining craze, with Ken's article as a jumping off point. On a recent podcast, I mentioned the idea of running a community coin mining group that would be used as a way for individuals to contribute to PC Perspective. I received several requests for the wallet and setup information to make this happen, so I thought it would be worth while to gather all the necessary links and info in a single location.

We have been running a Patreon campaign for a couple of years now on the site as a way to provide an avenue for those readers and viewers that find PC Perspective a useful resource to the community and directly contribute. It might be because you want to keep the PCPer staff stable, it could be because you use an ad blocker and are looking for a way to even things out, etc. But there are always some that don't have the ability or desire to sign up for a new service so contributing your empty GPU cycles is another option if you want to donate to the PCPer team.

How do you do it? Ken has created a step by step guide below - thanks for your support in this and all of our previous endeavors!

-Ryan


Donate to:

  • Bitcoin: 1HHhVWPRpCUst9bDYtLstMdD7o5SzANk1W
  • Ethereum: 0xa0294763261aa85eB5f1dA3Ca0f03E1B672EED87

For those of you who may be curious to try out this mining stuff on your personal computer, we would recommend looking into the NiceHash application.

nicehash-marketplace.jpg

For those of you who haven't read our previous article, NiceHash is a service that connects buyers of GPU mining power to sellers who have spare hardware that they are looking to put to use. 

As a warning, if you are planning to mine please be aware of your power consumption. To get a good idea of this, you can look up the TDP of your given graphics card, multiply that wattage by the hours you plan to mine, divide by 1000 to translate from watts to kilowatts, and multiply that by the rate you pay for electricity (this can be found on your power bill in cents per Kilowatt/Hour in the US). (So it's watts*hours*days/1000*kw/hr rate - Thanks CracklingIce)

Given the current rates of value for these cryptocurrencies, power is a small portion of the gross profit made by mining, but it is important to be aware of this before you are presented with a huge power bill that you weren't expecting.

First, download the latest version of the NiceHash miner application from their website.

After your download has finished, extract the ZIP file and load the NiceHashMiner.exe program.

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Once the application has been launched and you've accepted the terms of the EULA, the NiceHash Miner will start to download the appropriate mining applications for your given hardware.

Note: during this installation process, your antivirus program might detect malware. These miner executables that are being downloaded are safe, but many antivirius programs flag them as malware because if they are found on your PC without your permission they are a telltale sign of malicious software.

After the installation process is completed, you be brought to the main screen of the application.

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From here, choose the server location closest to you, add the Bitcoin address (in this case: 1HHhVWPRpCUst9bDYtLstMdD7o5SzANk1W), and choose a unique worker name (up to 7 characters long).

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From here, hit the benchmark button, select the devices you want to mine on (we would recommend GPUs only, CPUs don't earn very much), and hit the Start button.

Once the benchmarking is done, you'll be brought back to the main screen of the application where you can hit the Start button.

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Once you hit the start button, a command prompt window will launch where you can see the miner at work (this can be hidden from the NiceHash setting pane), and you can view the stats of your computer in the original NiceHash application window.

And that's it, your computer will now be mining towards the PCPER community pool!

Asus Cerberus V2 headset, perfect for obscure references

Subject: General Tech | June 16, 2017 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: gaming headset, cerebus, audio, asus

The ASUS Cerberus is a little different from other headsets, for instance it uses 53mm drivers and two microphones, a removable boom microphone and an in-line microphone pemanently attached.  For audiophiles, the headset has a 32 Ω impedance and 20-20,000 Hz frequency response and a somewhat muddy sound; for gamers it has very heavy bass which can make explosions quiet startling.  TechPowerUp were not in love with the audio performance but found the headset to be extremely comforatable so it can be perfect for those who prefer comfort over a beautiful audio space.

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"Asus Cerberus V2 is the successor to the company's bestselling headset. Now equipped with a stainless steel headband and the new "Essence drivers", it's supposed to be sturdier and better sounding. However, with its $75 price tag, it faces some stiff competition and doesn't necessarily come out as the victor."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: TechPowerUp

Wearable VR? The MSI VR ONE backpack system gets reviewed

Subject: General Tech | June 16, 2017 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: msi, VR One, htc vive, oculus rift

MSI states their VR One is the world’s lightest and thinnest backpack PC system with high performance, which makes sense considering the utter lack of competition in that area.  It may also claim to be the most expensive, as the price ranges from $1700 to $2300 in cost; [H]ard|OCP tested out the high end model in their recent review.  Inside is a Kaby Lake Core i7-7820HK, 16GB of 2166MHz DDR4, dual M.2 storage drives, and the mobile version of the GTX 1070; certainly enough to power a Rift or Vive.  The battery life is more impressive than you might expect, starting from 92% it lasted 1 hour and 37 and from 96% 1 hour and 41 minutes, with 2 hours required to recharge the battery over 95%.  It is an investment but being able to experience VR without tripping on cords is an attractive proposition.

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"The MSI VR ONE is quite simply a full PC that comes in the form of a backpack that allows you to connect your HTC Vive or Oculus Rift for a "wireless" VR experience. This VR ONE unit packs a GTX 1070 laptop GPU to hopefully supply us with the needed 90 frames per second performance required for a perfect Virtual Reality experience."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Intel Skylake-X and Skylake-SP Utilize Mesh Architecture for Intra-Chip Communication

Subject: Processors | June 15, 2017 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: xeon scalable, xeon, skylake-x, skylake-sp, skylake-ep, ring, mesh, Intel

Though we are just days away from the release of Intel’s Core i9 family based on Skylake-X, and a bit further away from the Xeon Scalable Processor launch using the same fundamental architecture, Intel is sharing a bit of information on how the insides of this processor tick. Literally. One of the most significant changes to the new processor design comes in the form of a new mesh interconnect architecture that handles the communications between the on-chip logical areas.

Since the days of Nehalem-EX, Intel has utilized a ring-bus architecture for processor design. The ring bus operated in a bi-directional, sequential method that cycled through various stops. At each stop, the control logic would determine if data was to be the collected to deposited with that module. These ring bus stops are located at memory controllers, CPU cores / caches, the PCI Express interface, memory controllers, LLCs, etc. This ring bus was fairly simple and easily expandable by simply adding more stops on the ring bus itself.

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However, over several generations, the ring bus has become quite large and unwieldly. Compare the ring bus from Nehalem above, to the one for last year’s Xeon E5 v5 platform.

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The spike in core counts and other modules caused a ballooning of the ring that eventually turned into multiple rings, complicating the design. As you increase the stops on the ring bus you also increase the physical latency of the messaging and data transfer, for which Intel compensated by increasing bandwidth and clock speed of this interface. The expense of that is power and efficiency.

For an on-die interconnect to remain relevant, it needs to be flexible in bandwidth scaling, reduce latency, and remain energy efficient. With 28-core Xeon processors imminent, and new IO capabilities coming along with it, the time for the ring bus in this space is over.

Starting with the HEDT and Xeon products released this year, Intel will be using a new on-chip design called a mesh that Intel promises will offer higher bandwidth, lower latency, and improved power efficiency. As the name implies, the mesh architecture is one in which each node relays messages through the network between source and destination. Though I cannot share many of the details on performance characteristics just yet, Intel did share the following diagram.

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As Intel indicates in its blog on the mesh announcements, this generic diagram “shows a representation of the mesh architecture where cores, on-chip cache banks, memory controllers, and I/O controllers are organized in rows and columns, with wires and switches connecting them at each intersection to allow for turns. By providing a more direct path than the prior ring architectures and many more pathways to eliminate bottlenecks, the mesh can operate at a lower frequency and voltage and can still deliver very high bandwidth and low latency. This results in improved performance and greater energy efficiency similar to a well-designed highway system that lets traffic flow at the optimal speed without congestion.”

The bi-directional mesh design allows a many-core design to offer lower node to node latency than the ring architecture could provide, and by adjusting the width of the interface, Intel can control bandwidth (and by relation frequency). Intel tells us that this can offer lower average latency without increasing power. Though it wasn’t specifically mentioned in this blog, the assumption is that because nothing is free, this has a slight die size cost to implement the more granular mesh network.

Using a mesh architecture offers a couple of capabilities and also requires a few changes to the cache design. By dividing up the IO interfaces (think multiple PCI Express banks, or memory channels), Intel can provide better average access times to each core by intelligently spacing the location of those modules. Intel will also be breaking up the LLC into different segments which will share a “stop” on the network with a processor core. Rather than the previous design of the ring bus where the entirety of the LLC was accessed through a single stop, the LLC will perform as a divided system. However, Intel assures us that performance variability is not a concern:

Negligible latency differences in accessing different cache banks allows software to treat the distributed cache banks as one large unified last level cache. As a result, application developers do not have to worry about variable latency in accessing different cache banks, nor do they need to optimize or recompile code to get a significant performance boosts out of their applications.

There is a lot to dissect when it comes to this new mesh architecture for Xeon Scalable and Core i9 processors, including its overall effect on the LLC cache performance and how it might affect system memory or PCI Express performance. In theory, the integration of a mesh network-style interface could drastically improve the average latency in all cases and increase maximum memory bandwidth by giving more cores access to the memory bus sooner. But, it is also possible this increases maximum latency in some fringe cases.

Further testing awaits for us to find out!

Source: Intel

Corsair's Crystal Series 570X, show off your temper

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 15, 2017 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: tempered glass, corsair, Crystal Series, 570x

It has been quite a while since Sebastian reviewed Corsair's Crystal Series 570X tempered glass case; so why not take another look?  Over at Techgage you can revist this case with a view.  They were impressed by the cooling included, three fans and a pre-installed fan hub for three more RGB fans as well as the air filter placements which help keep dust out of the case.  There is no equivalent feature to get fingerprints off of the glass front and sides so you will spend some time cleaning up your case.  Then again, if you are choosing a transparent enclosure, you likely spend a lot of time ensuring all your components are looking their best.

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"Corsair’s Crystal series is named as such because of its use of tempered glass, and as the top dog in the current lineup, the 570X sports that tempered glass on all four sides. Despite its delicate frame, the chassis proved great to build with, and as we found out, its beautiful aesthetics don’t hurt its cooling efficiency."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

 

Source: Techgage

CRTC briefly crawls out from under its rock, mutters about unlocked phones and scurries back under

Subject: General Tech | June 15, 2017 - 01:07 PM |
Tagged: blame canada, crtc, spineless

Canada's equivalent of the USA's FCC, managed to collect enough backbone to utter a statement about directing Canadian mobile carriers to unlock any of their phones without charging money for doing so.  The current going rate is around $50, a bit less if you trust that shady character in the alley. 

They also murmured something about how it was inappropriate to allow a child to simply reply yes back to a text from their provider to authorize international roaming charges over $100 a month or data overage fees at $50.  They politely inquired if the phone companies might consider following the CRTC's new suggestion that only the authorized account holder have approval, even if the teenager swears their parental unit totally said it was OK.

As is their wont, no mention of penalties was made nor did they seem to have acquired any teeth since last they pulled their heads out into the light.  You can read more at Slashdot or the CBC, depending on your preference of comments.

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"Canada's telecom regulator has announced that as of December 1st, 2017, all individual and small business wireless consumers will have the right to have their mobile devices unlocked free of charge upon request, while all newly purchased devices must be provided unlocked from that day forward."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot