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Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: The Khronos Group

Maybe Good that Valve Called their API OpenVR?

The Khronos Group has just announced their VR initiative, which is in the early, call for participation stage. The goal is to produce an API that can be targeted by drivers from each vendor, so that applications can write once and target all compatible devices. The current list of participants are: Epic Games, Google, Oculus VR, Razer, Valve, AMD, ARM, Intel, NVIDIA, VeriSilicon, Sensics, and Tobii. The point of this announcement is to get even more companies involved, before it matures.

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Image Credit: The Khronos Group, modified

Valve, in particular, has donated their OpenVR API to Khronos Group. I assume that this will provide the starting point for the initiative, similar to how AMD donated Mantle to found Vulkan, which overcomes the decision paralysis of a blank canvas. Also, especially for VR, I doubt these decisions would significantly affect individual implementations. If it does, though, now would be the time for them to propose edits.

In terms of time-frame, it’s early enough that the project scope hasn’t even been defined, so schedules can vary. They do claim that, based on past experiences, about 18 months is “often typical”.

That’s about it for the announcement; on to my analysis.

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Image Credit: The Khronos Group

First, it’s good that The Khronos Group are the ones taking this on. Not only do they have the weight to influence the industry, especially with most of these companies having already collaborated on other projects, like OpenGL, OpenCL, and Vulkan, but their standards tend to embrace extensions. This allows Oculus, Valve, and others to add special functionality that can be picked up by applications, but still be compatible at a base level with the rest of the ecosystem. To be clear, the announcement said nothing about extensions, but it would definitely make sense for VR, which can vary with interface methods, eye-tracking, player tracking, and so forth.

If extensions end up being a thing, this controlled competition allows the standard as a whole to evolve. If an extension ends up being popular, that guides development of multi-vendor extensions, which eventually may be absorbed into the core specification. On the other hand, The Khronos Group might decide that, for VR specifically, the core functionality is small and stable enough that extensions would be unnecessary. Who knows at this point.

Second, The Khronos Group stated that Razer joined for this initiative specifically. A few days ago, we posted news and assumed that they wanted to have input into an existing initiative, like Vulkan. While they still might, their main intentions are to contribute to this VR platform.

Third, there are a few interesting omissions from the list of companies.

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Microsoft, who recently announced a VR ecosystem for Windows 10 (along with the possibly-applicable HoloLens of course), and is a member of the Khronos Group, isn’t part of the initiative, at least not yet. This makes sense from a historical standpoint, as Microsoft tends to assert control over APIs from the ground up. They are, or I should say were, fairly reluctant to collaborate, unless absolutely necessary. This has changed recently, starting with their participation with the W3C, because good God I hope web browsers conform to a standard, but also their recent membership with the Khronos Group, hiring ex-Mozilla employees, and so forth. Microsoft has been lauding how they embrace openness lately, but not in this way yet.

Speaking of Mozilla, that non-profit organization has been partnered with Google on WebVR for a few years now. While Google is a member of this announcement, it seems to be mostly based around their Daydream initiative. The lack of WebVR involvement with whatever API comes out of this initiative is a bit disappointing, but, again, it’s early days. I hope to see Mozilla and the web browser side of Google jump in and participate, especially if video game engines continue to experiment with cross-compiling to Web standards.

It's also surprising to not see Qualcomm's name on this list. The dominant mobile SoC vendor is a part of many Khronos-based groups including Vulkan, OpenCL, and others, so it's odd to have this omission here. It is early, so there isn't any reason to have concern over a split, but Qualcomm's strides into VR with development kits, platform advancements and other initiatives have picked up in recent months and I imagine it will have input on what this standard becomes.

And that’s all that I can think of at the moment. If you have any interests or concerns, be sure to drop a line in the comments. Registration is not required.

What exactly is QNAP's NASbook for?

Subject: Storage | November 29, 2016 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: nasbook, NAS, qnap, TBS-453A

Network Attached Storage is nothing new, but a NASbook certainly is.  When you think of a NAS device you might picture a box with at least two network connections and limited controls on the device with a web based GUI.  QNAP have created something very different in the TBS-453A, a NAS in a notebook-like form factor with a lot of extra functionality.  You will find two HDMI v2.0 ports, two 3.5mm microphone jacks and an audio line out as well as a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports and three gigabit switch ports as it can function as a router, along with a total of four USB 3.0 ports and a single USB 2.0 port.   Unfortunately it lacks 10GbE ports which it would benefit from as it hides inside it four M.2 SATA 6Gbps SSDs which can easily overwhelm a gigabit connection, especially if multiple clients are accessing data simultaneously.

Curious what it is capable of and how well it performs?  Check out Nikktech's review.

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"Although we all like the concept behind the new TBS-453A NASbook by QNAP quite honestly it feels ahead of its time mainly due to the current pricing of M.2 SSDs and lack of one or more 10GbE ports."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: Nikktech
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: AUKEY

Introduction and First Impressions

Aukey, a prominent seller of mobile accessories on Amazon, has an interesting product for PC enthusiasts: an RGB mechanical gaming keyboard for $59.99. The price is definitely right, but is it any good? We’ll take a look!

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“The AUKEY KM-G3 mechanical keyboard takes the gaming experience to a new level. Tactile, responsive mechanical keys put you in control for an outstanding typing or gaming experience. The KM-G3 offers preloaded multi-color RGB backlit lighting effects and patterns. Ideal for FPS, CF, COD, LOL and Racing games - Just use the Function key to easily switch between gaming presets.”

The KM-G3 keyboard is a standard 104-key design, using blue switches (presumably a generic switch as no brand is listed), and there is RGB lighting which can be cycled between various colors and patterns, or switched off if desired. Aukey is also offering a 2-year warranty on the keyboard, which should help allay any fear about a purchase.

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Continue reading our review of the AUKEY KM-G3 RGB mechanical gaming keyboard!

The X99 Designaire EX, as expensive as the name implies

Subject: Motherboards | December 5, 2016 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Intel X99, designare EX

Gigabyte's Designare EX is even more full of extras and add-ins than the non-EX model, featuring everything but an easily accessible CMOS battery.  Ten SATA ports, although only six are RAID capable, one U.2 and a pair of M.2 ports are available and there is an Avago PEX8747 assuming to help your CPU provide enough PCIe lanes for everything.  The USB Type-C port on the back is Thunderbolt 3 rated and there is a DisplayPort input on the back panel so you can use your graphics card to provide output for that Thunderbolt connection.  The Tech Report loved the look of the board but ran into some hurdles when using and tweaking it, check out the full review for details.

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"Broadwell-E CPUs brought a new wave of X99 motherboards to go with them at price points both high and low. The GA-X99-Designare EX shows what's possible when Gigabyte's motherboard designers get to pull out all the stops. We put this board to the test to see what it's like to live the high life."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 376.19 Drivers (and Two Contests)

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 6, 2016 - 07:05 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, nvidia, graphics drivers, giveaways, giveaway

Alongside the release of the Oculus Touch controllers from Oculus VR, and the fifty-or-so games that launched with it, NVIDIA has published another graphics driver. The GeForce Game Ready 376.19 WHQL drivers also resolve one of two SLI issues in No Man’s Sky (the other bug, which involves temporal anti-aliasing, is still being worked on) and also fixes two issues with G-Sync for laptops.

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Since it affects a few of our readers: the Folding@Home bug is not yet fixed, but it’s now classified as a top-priority bug, though. Personally, I’m guessing that it will be fixed soon, now that there’s a little down-time before and after the holidays, after and before the game release rushes. Otherwise, it seems pretty stable and smooth for me. One user is complaining about Windows 10 UI freezes and crashes, starting with 376.09, but it’s otherwise relatively quiet.

As for the contests

NVIDIA is hosting two giveaways: one on their social media sites (Twitter and Facebook) and the other on GeForce Experience. The first contest runs from Tuesday to Friday, where they are giving away a GTX 1080, game codes, and one grand prize of a custom PC, accessorized with an Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch. The other contest runs until December 30th, where NVIDIA will give away a bundle of Oculus Rift, Oculus Touch Controllers, and a GTX 1070 to ten people, at random, who log in to GeForce Experience.

Check out their blog post for details on how to enter, as well as get the new driver (if GeForce Experience hasn’t already started begging).

Source: NVIDIA

T'is the season to write gift guides, tra la la la la ...

Subject: General Tech | December 1, 2016 - 02:24 PM |
Tagged: gift guide, holiday gift guide

Ryan has started cracking the whip but we haven't quite assembled our picks for the Christmas season so for now you can check out what the gang at The Tech Report has on offer.  As you might expect, the HTC Vive appears but you might not have suspected that a pressure cooker and sous-vide machine are on their list.  There is a lot more in the way of recommendations, from a CPU delidder to a projector or a 55" 4K TV with HDR if you are more of a traditionalist.  Hide your credit cards and check out the whole list.

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"The TR staff knows just how hard it can be to find the right gift to please the nerd in your life, so we've compiled a list of the items we've used and enjoyed over the past year. If you're stuck on what to buy for your favorite techie this holiday season, maybe we can help."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

WD and HGST Refresh Enterprise SSDs to Include 8TB, Push HDDs to 12TB and Beyond

Subject: Storage | December 6, 2016 - 08:58 AM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, ultrastar, ssd, SS200, SN200, SAS, NVMe, hgst, helium, He8, He6, He12, He10, He, hdd, 12TB, 10TB

Since their acquisition of SanDisk and recent wrapping up of a long-time integration with HGST's Helium tech, Western Digital took the lid off of a round of product updates this morning.

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First up is a second generation of HGST-branded SSD products - the Ultrastar SN200. These enterprise SSDs boast impressive specs, pushing random reads beyond 1 million IOPS, coming in 8TB capacity, and if you opt for the HHHL PCIe 3.0 x8 SN260, 6.2GB/s maximum throughput.

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Moving into SAS SSDs, the SS200 uses a 12Gbit link to achieve 1.8 GB/s and 250,000 random read IOPS. Write specs dip to 37,000 random as this is a 1 DWPD endurance class product. These are also available in up to 8TB capacities.

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Last but certainly not least are preliminary specs for the He12, which boast particularly impressive low QD random write performance and a notable bump in Watts/TB despite the addition of an eighth platter to achieve the 12TB capacity. Note that this is not an archive class product and is meant for continuous random access.

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There is also a 14TB model in the lineup, but that is an archive class model that is essentially the He12 with Shingled Magnetic Recording enabled.

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Not bad HDD progress considering we were just discussing 10TB SMR this time last year. We'll be confirming the performance of these as samples arrive for testing.

Press blast appears after the break.

Source: HGST

Shhh, no input lag, only Dream Machines' DM Pro S

Subject: General Tech | December 1, 2016 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: gaming mouse, input, dream machines, DM Pro S

The Dream Machines DM1 PRO S gaming mouse uses a Pixart PMW 3360 optical sensor, not one commonly utilized in the market.  The DPI of the sensor can be toggled in set increments from 400 up to 12000, with the colour of the light under the logo indicating your current setting; the lack of software precludes manipulation of those presets.  The overall design of the mouse looks ambidextrous, however there are only thumb buttons on the left side of the mouse.  TechPowerUp were very impressed with the performance of the new sensor, as to the rest of the features you will just have to pop over and read them yourself.

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"A few months ago, we reviewed the Dream Machines DM1 PRO, and Dream Machines is now back with the DM1 PRO S. This version has an updated sensor, has been slimmed down to be even lighter, and has a rather nice glossy finish. Improvements, which could be a game changer."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: TechPowerUp