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Podcast #467 - NVIDIA WhisperMode, HyperX Keyboard, iPhone 8/X, and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2017 - 12:01 PM |
Tagged: whispermode, video, shadow rock 2, Seasonic FOCUS, Samsung, podcast, nvidia, nuc, MX Ergo, macchina, logitech, iphone x, iphone 8, Intel, hyperx, GTX 1070Ti, Dawson Canyon, Cites: Skylines, BeQuiet, ASUS ZenFone 4 Max, apple, 7nm, 11nm

PC Perspective Podcast #467 - 09/13/17

Join us for discussion on  NVIDIA WhisperMode, HyperX Mechanical Keyboards, iPhone 8/X and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:27:20

Podcast topics of discussion: 
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 1:12:20 Ryan: Logitech MX Ergo
    2. 1:17:15 Jeremy: Macchina is shipping
    3. 1:22:45 Allyn: Alternative black air cooler? (be quiet Shadow Rock 2)
    4. 1:23:45 Alex: Cities: Skylines
  4. Closing/outro
 

Source:

Toshiba Negotiating With Bain Capital For Sale of Its NAND Manufacturing Arm

Subject: General Tech, Storage | September 14, 2017 - 10:32 AM |
Tagged: western digital, toshiba, nand, flash memory, bain capital

Toshiba remains in a financial crisis in the aftermath of massive losses in its Westinghouse US Nuclear power division and has been attempting to sell off its still very much profitable NAND flash manufacturing business to compensate and right the company to avoid being delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Unfortunately for Toshiba it has now missed three target dates for selling off the business. Not for lack of suitors, but primarily because of legal issues resulting from anti-trust concerns as well as legal battles brought by Western Digital  – who Toshiba is in a joint venture with for flash manufacturing in Japan – to attempt to prevent the sale.

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Jumping to the present, Toshiba has decided to proceed with the negotiations with an investment group led by Bain Capital despite disappointment (and more legal objections) from Western Digital who tried to block similar negotiations back in June. On Wednesday, it was revealed that Toshiba had signed a “memorandum of understanding” and is engaging in private talks to negotiate the sale with an investment group led by Bain Capital and including SK Hynix (who is allegedly only providing financing at this point and not going after a stake in the business to try to avoid further delaying the sale from increased anti-trust red tape), Apple, Dell, Seagate, and two Japanese government controlled entities known as Innovation Network Corp and Development Bank of Japan (again, Bain Capital is offering them the chance to invest post any WD concessions and legal battles in the business to improve chances of the sale going through). As the preferred (by Toshiba) buyer, the Bain Capital-lead group deal is reportedly worth nearly 2.4 trillion Yen ($22 billion USD) including $1.8 billion earmarked for infrastructure. The company expects come to an agreement in late September and is hoping that it will be able to finalize the sale by March so that it can avoid reporting negative net worth and risking being de-listed from the Tokyo Stock Exchange and being cut off from a huge swath of public investors and capital.

Due to the negotiations being private, details are not readily available yet. It is not clear whether Toshiba will be able to pull it off or what the implications will be for the market if it does. (With Toshiba being the world’s second largest flash memory supplier, whoever ends up acquiring the company is going to have a lot of influence on the market and flash technology R&D.) It certainly seems Toshiba’s battle to right itself is going to continue into next year and Western Digital is not going to make it easy. The US-based WD stated:

“We are disappointed that Toshiba would take this action. Our goal has been — and remains — to reach a mutually beneficial outcome that satisfies the needs of Toshiba and its stakeholders.”

A California court has reportedly ordered Toshiba to give Western Digital two weeks’ notice of any deal with the consortium and its two previous arbitration requests through ICC are still pending resolution. Barrons reports that Toshiba may convince WDC to allow the sale if it gives its joint venture partner enough concessions such as an assured long term NAND supply contract and agreed participation in joint Fab projects that would protect SanDisk's contractual rights. Other interested parties for the sale include Foxconn and Western Digital itself. Perhaps SoftBank or the $100 Billion Vision Fund will come in and scoop it up as well.

[Opinions follow heh] I am interested to see how it all will eventually shake out. It remains less than ideal to see Toshiba must sell it off and have the market possibly lose a big flash memory player as the market share power gets more consolidated if it does get picked up by an existing memory manufacturer (see: hard drives, flash memory seems to be going through the same consolidation of companies from lots of little players into fewer bigger ones). I am not certain on the deal specifics as far as ownership and control of TMC and any cash only vs equity splits but with Japanese investors as part of all three bidding / competing consortiums it seems at least part of the business (if only money from it if not voting power) will remain rooted in Japan even if not under the Toshiba brand.

Also read:

 

Source: Tech Report

Colorful Reveals Custom Eight Slot Motherboard For Cryptocurrency Miners

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | September 14, 2017 - 02:13 AM |
Tagged: password cracking, mining, gpgpu, cryptocurrency, colorful, ai

Colorful recently unveiled an interesting bare-bones motherboard focused on cryptocurrency miners and other GPU heavy workloads with its main feature being eight double spaced PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots. The non-standard form factor Colorful C.B250A-BTC PLUS V20 motherboard measures 485mm x 195mm (approx. 19.1 x 7.7 inches) and offers a no-frills setup that is ready for miners to attach to open racks. The motherboard is based on Intel’s LGA 1151 socket and B250 chipset.

Colorful C_B250A-BTC PLUS Mining 8 slot motherboard.jpg

The majority of the board is taken up by eight PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots where the top slot is wired directly to the CPU and is electrically x16 while the rest are wired to the B250 chipset and are x1 slots. There are 16(!) PCI-E power connectors (eight 6-pin and eight 8-pin) for providing power to the GPU and two 4-pin ATX power connectors for powering the CPU and single SO-DIMM slot through what looks to be six power phases. Notably, there is no 24-pin power connector on this board to make it easier to use multiple power supplies and share motherboards between power supplies (though it’s not clear how Colorful plans to control turning all these power supplies on/off at the same time). Beyond the PCI-E slots there is not much to this motherboard. Internal I/O includes the 1151 socket for Skylake and Kaby Lake CPUs, a single DDR4 SO-DIMM slot, one SATA port, one M.2 slot, and six fan headers. Around back are two USB ports, one HDMI video output, and a single gigabit ethernet port.

The board is a no-frills design that should be quite appealing for miners but also as an easy way to jump into GPGPU projects (AI research, rendering, machine learning, password cracking, etc.). The 2-slot spacing allows air cooled (hopefully blower style) cards to be installed without needing to find and test quality PCI-E riser cables. There is no word on pricing yet, and while it should be on the cheaper side based on the features and hardware it’s packing as it’s a custom design aimed at mining it may actually come out at a hefty premium for the convenience it offers them. On the bright side, it might have decent resale value to factor into the ROI calculations for the other non-mining applications I mentioned (a mean password cracking rig!). A neat board in any case, and as I mentioned previously it is interesting to see the new designs and configurations the mining craze has enticed manufacturers into exploring.

Also read:

Source: TechPowerUp

Intel Releases Dawson Canyon NUCs With 15W Kaby Lake CPUs

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 13, 2017 - 07:29 PM |
Tagged: SFF, nuc, kaby lake, Intel

Following last year’s Baby Canyon NUC kits, Intel is launching its Dawson Canyon NUCs powered by 15W Kaby Lake processors. Despite Dawson Canyon sounding more dramatic than Baby Canyon (which sounds more like a creek), the new NUCs are lower powered and ditch Iris Graphics and USB 3.1 Type C.

Specifically, Intel is launching six new models that will come in three flavors: barebones board, slim case kit, and a taller kit with room for a 2.5” drive. Each type of NUC kit will come with either a Core i3 or Core i5 processor. Dawson Canyon further supports Intel RST (Rapid Storage Technology) and Optane memory.

Intel Dawson Canyon.jpg

Processor options include the Core i3 7100U (2.4 GHz) and Core i5 7300U (2.6 GHz base, 3.5 GHz boost) which are both dual core processors with HyperThreading, 3 MB cache, Intel HD Graphics 620 GPUs, and 15W TDPs.

Internal I/O includes two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots, two M.2 slots (one full length (80mm) and one 30mm slot for Wi-Fi adapters such as the included Intel 8265 with is included in the kits with cases but not the bare board kits.), one SATA port, and headers for serial, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 ports.

External I/O consists of four USB 3.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and two HDMI outputs (one protected UHD).

Dawson Canyon NUCs will be available towards the end of the year (Q4’17) with pricing yet to be released. For the fanless, ahem, fans Fanless Tech reports that Simply NUC will be offering NUCs with custom fanless cases. These are likely to be cheaper than Baby Canyon and be popular with businesses wanting monitor mounted thin clients or low power workstations for office users that just need to run productivity applications.

Source: FanlessTech

Blender Foundation Releases Blender 2.79

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2017 - 07:03 PM |
Tagged: Blender, amd

The latest version of Blender, 2.79, makes a few significant changes, especially for users with AMD GPUs. Their main rendering engine, Cycles, has now reached feature-parity on OpenCL and CUDA. While those with NVIDIA GPUs will keep using the latter compute API, users of recent AMD GPUs can now (on Windows and Linux -- macOS requires a driver update) harness their graphics cards for higher performance.

blender-2017-cyclesdenoise.png

10 samples is actually very low. I'm usually in the 100-1000 range.

For the rest of us, there are four improvements that I would consider major. First, Cycles now has a denoise filter, which reduces speckles and thus should let you get away with fewer samples. Second, Filmic Color Management is now included by default, which can represent a much wider dynamic range. This was available as a user mod for a while, but you needed to manually install it. Third is a shadow catcher object for Cycles, which lets you render off translucent shadows onto dummy objects and composite them later (in Photoshop, After Effects, or Blender’s video editor).

Fourth, and most interesting to me, is their new PBR shader. I’ve done PBR materials in Cycles before, and it’s a bit of a pain to set up. If I don’t copy/paste from an existing material, it takes about 15-20 minutes of my time to wire together diffuse nodes, glossy nodes, Fresnel nodes, and so forth such that I can attach metal, bump, and so forth to it. Now? Just drag in one node and hook up the correct textures and colors, like the ones that are generated in Substance or Quixxel.

As always, Blender is free, so have fun.

Threadripping on MSI's new GAMING PRO CARBON AC

Subject: Motherboards | September 13, 2017 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: amd, msi, X399, Threadripper, GAMING PRO CARBON AC

MSI have added a GAMING PRO CARBON AC motherboard to their X399 offerings for AMD's ThreadRipper.  The exceptional socket makes the ATX board look a little disproportionate compared to previous members of this motherboard family but there is still a lot of space on the board.  There are four PCIe Express x16 Gen 3 slots along with two 1x slots, three M.2 ports and an impressive array of USB ports including two USB 3.1 Gen. 2 Type-C ports, a single USB 3.1 Gen. 3 Type-A and nine USB 3.1 Gen.1 Type-A ports.  The Guru of 3D provides benchmarks and overclocking results in their full review.

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"Let's check out another Ryzen Threadripper motherboard. We review the one from MSI as they have released their X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC. The board is stylish, comes with very subtle LED effects and obviously offers everything you need from quadruple x16 PCI-Express slots, triple M2 SSD slots, quad-channel memory and some really supreme AC WIFI."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: Guru of 3D

The Fallout: New Vegas prequel mod may soon arrive as Fallout: New California

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2017 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: gaming, mod, fallout, Fallout: New California, fallout: new vegas

This mod has been eight years in the making but we may soon see it released for us all to enjoy.  The New Vegas mod will put you into the wilds of the NCR after being rather abruptly ejected from your home in Vault 18.  This will be a nice experience for those who found Fallout 4 to have strayed a bit far from the games roots, especially in the dialogue.  Head over to Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for a video showing off the mod and giving you a look into how your adventure will start.

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"Vault 18 is at the heart of the California Wasteland high in the San Bernardino Mountains, and its legendary Wasteland Scouts have managed to keep its secrets safe for decades despite the wars raging beyond the great door. In their old age, their adventures have created a new generation to take their place… if their rebellious adopted kids survive the threat brewing within their own ranks."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

So, about that D‑Link DIR 850L wireless AC1200 you might be using ...

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2017 - 03:03 PM |
Tagged: DIR 850L wireless AC1200, ac1200, D-Link, router, security

If you have a D-Link DIR 850L wireless router or know anyone that does, you should unplug it without delay.  The Register posted a link to the recently released findings of security researcher Pierre Kim, who originally contacted D-Link in February about the flaws only to see a single patch released since then.  The vulnerabilities are rather severe, ranging from a lack of verification for firmware images, through stored default private keys to an actual buit in backdoor.  The router is not compatible with DD-WRT so you cannot resolve the issue through that method; it should be treated as a brick until D-Link resolves these issues in an update.

DIR850L1664x936FRONT.png

"A security researcher has shamed D‑Link by publicly disclosing 10 serious, as-yet unpatched vulnerabilities in a line of consumer-grade routers without notifying the vendor first."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

A wild GTX 1070 Ti appears?

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 13, 2017 - 02:47 PM |
Tagged: rumour, nvidia, gtx 1070 ti

Take a gander at this picture below as possible proof of the existence of an unreleased GTX 1070 Ti.

slack-imgs.com_.jpg

The picture comes from My Drivers, who also posted untranslated commentary about the card here.  The text describes a card with 2304 CUDA cores, falling between the GTX 1080's 2560 and the 1920 present in the GTX 1070.  We do not have any insight into the memory clock on the card, nor if it is GDDR5 or GDDR5x but it should also fall between the two existing cards. 

That's all the info we have for now on this card, hopefully we can find one before the miners do as this card is likely to be very popular with that segment.

 

Source: My Drivers
Author:
Manufacturer: Seasonic

Introduction and Features

Introduction

Seasonic’s new FOCUS Plus family of power supplies currently includes two different series ranging from 550W up to 850W output capacity with either Platinum or Gold efficiency certification. Earlier this year we looked at the FOCUS Plus Gold (FX) 650W power supply and found it to be an excellent new addition to Seasonic’s lineup. In this review we will be taking a detailed look at the Seasonic FOCUS Plus Platinum (PX) 550W power supply. And to insure that reviewers are not being sent hand-picked golden samples, Seasonic once again arranged to have our sample delivered straight from Newegg.com inventory.

2-Logo.jpg

The Seasonic FOCUS Plus Platinum series includes four models: 550W, 650W, 750W, and 850W. In addition to 80 Plus Platinum certification, the FOCUS Plus (PX) series features a small footprint chassis (140mm deep), all modular cables, high quality components, and comes backed by a 10-year warranty.

•    FOCUS Plus Platinum (PX) 550W: $99.90 USD
•    FOCUS Plus Platinum (PX) 650W: $109.90 USD
•    FOCUS Plus Platinum (PX) 750W: $119.90 USD
•    FOCUS Plus Platinum (PX) 850W: $139.90 USD

3-Diag-cables.jpg

Seasonic FOCUS Plus 550W Platinum (PX) PSU Key Features:

•    550W Continuous DC output at up to 50°C
•    80 PLUS Platinum certified for high efficiency
•    Small footprint: chassis measures just 140mm (5.5”) deep
•    Tight voltage regulation ±3% (3.3V, 5V, and 12V)
•    Fully-modular cables
•    DC-to-DC Voltage converters
•    Single +12V output
•    Multi-GPU Technology support
•    Quiet 120mm Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB) cooling fan
•    Seasonic Hybrid Silent Fan Control
•    Active Power Factor correction with Universal AC input (100 to 240 VAC)
•    Safety protections: OPP, OVP, UVP, OCP, OTP and SCP
•    10-Year warranty

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Here is what Seasonic has to say about their new FOCUS Plus 550W Platinum PSU:

The fully modular, 80 PLUS® Platinum rated FOCUS+ Platinum 550 watt unit is based on the DC to DC Converter Design and its electric performance characteristics are impressive with their tight voltage regulation. These power supplies use high temperature Japanese capacitors to ensure stability under extreme conditions. Besides its stability and remarkable output characteristics, this unit has the highest power density in its class. Silence enthusiasts will appreciate the Seasonic Hybrid Silent Fan Control system that is the industry’s first three-phased advanced thermal control to achieve optimal balance between silence and cooling.

Due to its small form factor the FOCUS PLUS power supply is a great solution for those who want to build smaller systems and care about the airy arrangement inside their computer case. The fully modular cables are easy to install, save space inside the computer case and provide ample customization and upgrading possibilities at the same time. This mid power range power supply is not only small, but mean too. It boasts the highest power density in its class and it also has remarkable stability and output characteristics during operation.

Please continue reading our review of the FOCUS+ 550W Platinum PSU!!!

AMD Radeon Technologies Group Raja Koduri Goes on Sabbatical

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 13, 2017 - 01:36 AM |
Tagged: rtg, raja koduri, radeon technologies group, radeon, amd

Radeon Technologies Group SVP and Chief Architect Raja Koduri is taking sabbatical from AMD as of today, with a target return date in December. As first reported by our friends at Fudzilla (and also Tweaktown), and that I was able to confirm through AMD this evening, one of our favorite people in the graphics industry will be stepping aside for the time being. AMD CEO Lisa Su will be taking over the Radeon Technologies Group in the interim.

Raja is a great personality and innovator in the graphics market and I was able to interview him during the Polaris roll out last year. He was candid, open to ideas, and clearly cared about the gamers and PC gaming market. It was only in September of 2015 that he returned to AMD as the leader of the newly created Radeon Technologies Group, a division of AMD rededicated to graphics leadership.

raja.jpg

AMD Radeon Technologies Group SVP, Raja Koduri

The easy response to this news, and the most common reaction, will be to assume that Raja was pushed out and will not return due to the state of the Radeon division after the launch of Vega. But in truth, despite it having issues with efficiency and performance that we noted in our reviews, AMD has had no issue selling the Vega cards its made. The professional markets are competitive again and AMD's entrance into the enterprise compute space opens up a wide array of new opportunity for AMD architectures.

Nor has it had issues selling Radeon RX 400 or RX 500 products either. Whether you consider that good planning by Raja and his team or just the luck of the cryptocurrency market, it really doesn't matter. The Radeon group has provided value to the company and to shareholders. 

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The Radeon Vega family of graphics cards

As with most things in life, the truth is likely more complex than we can decipher from a single note or message. I was able to get my hands on the letter sent from Raja to his team, which I have provided below:

RTG Team,

You haven’t heard from me collectively in a while – a symptom not only of the whirlwind of launching Vega, but simply of the huge number of demands on my time since the formation of RTG. Looking back over this short period, it is an impressive view. We have delivered 6 straight quarters of double-digit growth in graphics, culminating in the launch of Vega and being back in high-performance. What we have done with Vega is unparalleled. We entered the high-end gaming, professional workstation and machine intelligence markets with Vega in a very short period of time. The demand for Vega (and Polaris!) is fantastic, and overall momentum for our graphics is strong.

Incredibly, we as AMD also managed to spectacularly re-enter the high-performance CPU segments this year. We are all exceptionally proud of Ryzen, Epyc and Threadripper. The computing world is not the same anymore and the whole world is cheering for AMD. Congratulations and thanks to those of you in RTG who helped see these products through. The market for high-performance computing is on an explosive growth trajectory driven by machine intelligence, visual cloud, blockchain and other exciting new workloads. Our vision of immersive and instinctive computing is within grasp. As we enter 2018, I will be shifting my focus more toward architecting and realizing this vision and rebalancing my operational responsibilities.

At the beginning of the year I warned that Vega would be hard. At the time, some folks didn’t believe me. Now many of you understand what I said. Vega was indeed hard on many, and my sincere heartfelt thanks to all of you who endured the Vega journey with me. Vega was personally hard on me as well and I used up a lot of family credits during this journey. I have decided to take a time-off in Q4 to spend time with my family. I have been contemplating this for a while now and there was never a good time to do this. Lisa and I agreed that Q4 is better than 2018, before the next wave of product excitement. Lisa will be acting as the leader of RTG during by absence. My sincere thanks to Lisa and rest of AET for supporting me in this decision and agreeing to take on additional workload during my absence.

I am looking to start my time-off on Sept 25th and return in December.

Thank you, all of you, for your unwavering focus, dedication and support over these past months, and for helping us to build something incredible. We are not done yet, and keep the momentum going!

Regards, Raja

Straight from the man himself, the intention and reason for the leave appears to be to catch up on family responsibility. As someone who has often traded work-related travel for home-based committments in future months, I understand this completely.

I have no doubt that Raja takes this leave with some reluctance. He built this team himself (for the most part) and my conversations with AMD employees always mention respect and appreciation for what he has been able to do. He loves the industry, he loves the technology, he loves the fans. That doesn't mean he can't or won't leave or be forced out if comes down to it, but it does give me hope that the potential for his return after the sabbatical is better than most other news outlets and pundits might lead us to believe.

For the interim, I have a lot of faith in Lisa Su to handle RTG. She has led AMD out of the CPU doldrums and into competitiveness for the first time in a decade. Any additional knowledge, experience, or input she can can gleam from her time as the lead at the Radeon Technologies Group can only be a benefit to AMD in the long run. 

Source: Fudzilla

Apple Announces iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X

Subject: Mobile | September 12, 2017 - 07:09 PM |
Tagged:

Apple today announced the successors to the iPhone 7 (and another, more impressive device), and this time the company has decided to forgo the “S” branding of an incremental update as the new phones are simply the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. Though receiving the expected annual updates (SoC, camera, etc.) the phones still have largely similar designs and are offered with the same screen sizes (4.7 and 5.5 inches) and resolutions of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. So what exactly is new?

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

The new iPhone 8 design, which sports a glass back for the first time since the iPhone 4/4S, allowing Apple to add Qi wireless charging to the iPhone 8/8 Plus, has a new SoC under the hood. Both sizes feature the new 6-core Apple A11 Bionic processor, which combines two high-performance and four "efficiency" CPU cores along with Apple's Neural Engine and M11 motion coprocessor.

iPhone 8.jpg

The iPhone 8 Plus (image credit: Apple)

During the announcement much was made of camera advancements with the iPhone 8 Plus specifically, with its dual camera system now sporting optical image stabilization for both wide-angle and telephoto cameras - although Samsung was able to beat Apple to the punch with the Note8 announcement last month, with dual-OIS a major feature of the Note8’s rear camera system.

iPhone X

The biggest announcement was saved for last, with an homage to the Steve Jobs Columbo-inspired "one more thing" from CEO Tim Cook at the end of the keynote presentation. The iPhone X (pronounced ten, as this is the Roman numeral - though I imagine just as many people will say “ex” as they did when Apple used this for their OS) will occupy a new premium iPhone space for Apple, segmenting the iPhone in a way they never did in the first ten years.

iPhone X.jpg

The iPhone X (image credit: Apple)

The 5.8-inch display is OLED, and from Apple's remarks on this it could be inferred that we are going to see the first RGB-stripe OLED display on a phone, rather than the PenTile matrix subpixel layout common to existing AMOLED displays (here's hoping).

“The beautiful 5.8-inch Super Retina display is the first OLED panel that rises to the standards of iPhone, with stunning colors, true blacks, a million-to-one contrast ratio and wide color support with the best system-wide color management in a smartphone. The HDR display supports Dolby Vision and HDR10, which together make photo and video content look even more amazing. The addition of True Tone dynamically adjusts the white balance of the display to match the surrounding light for a more natural, paper-like viewing experience.”

iPhone X Front.jpg

The top of the display houses the TrueDepth camera system (image credit: Apple)

iPhone X is a striking design, though far less impressive than it might have been if Samsung had not released the Galaxy S8 - with its beautiful edge-to-edge display - beforehand. A (nearly) full-body OLED front display (featuring what Apple is calling "Super Retina HD" resolution) on the iPhone X is interrupted by an upper area occupied by a cluster of cameras and other devices required to make the new FaceID system function, which creates an odd protrusion into the screen that is especially cumbersome when the device is in its horizontal position (as a result full-screen videos do not use the full width of the display, either).

In what this editor considers a concession masquerading as progress, FaceID likely replaces an in-display fingerprint sensor which neither Apple nor Samsung have been able to successfully implement. For their part Samsung slapped a clunky sensor on the rear of their GS8/GS8+, next to the camera sensor (which for some users will be eternally smeared as a result). Apple decided against implementing a rear fingerprint sensor, leaving only a facial recognition tech for biometrically securing the device. This is fine as long as iPhone X users are fine with appearing to take a selfie every time they want to unlock their phone, and the technology (which does work in the dark thanks to IR) seems impressive.

Specs for this new iPhone X include (view the rest from Apple here):

  • SoC: A11 Bionic with Neural engine and embedded M11 motion coprocessor
  • Display: 5.8-inch OLED, 2436x1125 resolution (458 ppi), HDR, True Tone, P3 color
  • Rear Cameras: 12MP wide-angle and telephoto, optical zoom, dual OIS, quad-LED True Tone flash, Portrait mode, Portrait Lighting (beta)
  • Front Camera: 7MP TrueDepth camera, Portrait mode, Portrait Lighting (beta)
  • Face ID: Enabled by TrueDepth camera for facial recognition

The battery "lasts up to 2 hours longer than iPhone 7", but actual capacity was not announced for the iPhone X.

iPhone X Back.jpg

The dual rear cameras on the iPhone X are in a vertical orientation (image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are priced starting at $699 and $799 for a 64GB model. The iPhone X starts at $999 for 64GB. Pricing for the iPhone 8, which rose $50 from last year's iPhone 7 launch, provides double the base storage capacity to justify the increase. As to the iPhone X, its $999 price tag seems rather shocking at first glance, though Samsung's Note8 is over $900 as well. Needless to say, installment plans will be very popular with this new flagship iPhone.

Source: Apple

Free Champions Pack for Quake Champions for free with AMD GPUs and CPUs

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 12, 2017 - 03:12 PM |
Tagged: Vega, ryzen 7, ryzen 5, ryzen, RX 580, RX 570, RX 560, ruby, repetition, quake champions, amd

Remember Ruby, that animated heroine ATI used in tech demos many years back?  She has returned recently and is now playable in Quake Champions for those who claim their free key.  In addition to appearing in the game, she is also the centre of attention in this announcement from AMD.

QCRuby-SocialBanners-1200x630_V1A.png

If you purchase a new Ryzen 5 or 7 APU, or a RX 560, 570 or 580 you can now claim the Champions pack for Quake Champions for free.  The Champions pack will retail for $40 and add access to all current and future characters to your game, including a custom Ruby skin for Nyx.  If you purchased one of these products after August 22nd you are eligible to claim your key over at AMDRewards.  The contest will run until October 29th or until the keys run out.

 

Source: AMD

Threadripper cooler on an AM4 socket? Yes, you can!

Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 12, 2017 - 02:57 PM |
Tagged: amd, Threadripper, ryzen 7, AM4, XSPC RayStorm

The question is if installing the XSPC RayStorm Threadripper waterblock on an AM4 actually improves your systems thermals.  [H]ard|OCP tested out the difficulty of the installation process and the performance of the cooler on a Ryzen 7 1700X overclocked to 4GHz.  The mounting worked exactly as advertised, mating perfectly with the AM4 processor; the performance on the other hand demonstrates the advantage of using coolers specifically designed for your processor.

1505231178a1xznfj1vf_1_4_l.jpg

"If you could mount your Threadripper custom cooling waterblock on your socket AM4 Ryzen 7 CPU, wouldn't you? Of course the answer is yes. However, the results turned out a bit different than we thought those might."

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

CASES & COOLING

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Fool me once, shame on me ... Chrome gives Symantec the cold shoulder

Subject: General Tech | September 12, 2017 - 02:29 PM |
Tagged: chrome, symantec, security

The original issue dates back two years ago, when a serious security issue was discovered effecting all Norton and Symantec products which allowed an attacker to easily infect your Windows kernel without any user interaction.  Following that revelation were a round of firings at Symantec which were intended to reassure customers and security experts which were somewhat successful, until earlier this year.  In January it was discovered that Symantec provided digital certificates to verify the authenticity of several questionable sites, including ones never authorized by ICANN.  This has been enough for Google; Chrome will no longer trust older Symantec certs in version 66 and will not trust any as of version 70.  The Inquirer provides a full timeline here.

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"The decision to remove Symantec certificates came as a result of the discovery of a dodgy certificate in 2015, leading to a fuller investigation that brought forward more issues with security at the beginning of this year."

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Source: The Inquirer

Apple 2017 iPhone Keynote from the PC Perspective - 12:45pm ET / 9:45am PT

Subject: Mobile | September 12, 2017 - 10:01 AM |
Tagged: live, video, apple, keynote, iphone, iphone x, iphone 8

Today we are going to re-broadcast and talk over the Apple keynote, giving you some perspective on the new announcements from a more technical standpoint. We will look into the new CPU and GPU architectures as much as Apple will allow us, and we have a diverse crowd of Apple and Android users to discuss and dissect the new features that the iPhones, Apple TV, Apple Watches, etc. might provide.

We will have the live chat open to take questions and comments as we go! (You can find the live chat over on our PCPer Live! page right here.)

Join us at 12:45pm ET / 9:45am PT!

Source: PCPer Live!

Philips Launching 49" 32:9 492P8 Ultra-wide Monitor Next Year

Subject: Displays | September 11, 2017 - 11:38 PM |
Tagged: va, ultrawide, productivity, philips, business, 32:9, 1080p gaming

Philips recently revealed a massive 49” ultra-wide monitor slated for release in the second half of next year. The so-called Philips 492P8 takes the bigger is better approach with its 32:9 aspect ratio ultra-wide monitor based on the same VA (vertical alignment) panel as Samsung’s more expensive (and feature-full) CH90 QLED. With a planned MSRP of $1,077, Philips has cut a few features in its model namely support for AMD’s FreeSync 2 and Samsung’s QLED backlighting. It Is not yet clear whether or not the monitor will retain the same 144Hz refresh rate and high dynamic range (HDR).

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The 49-inch diagonal monitor features a 3840 x 1080 resolution and a 1800R curvature. The 492P8 is rated at a maximum brightness of 600 cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 5,000:1. The monitor is based on a VA panel which is a compromise between the fast response times and refresh rates of TN and the colors and viewing angles of IPS (and PLS) with strong contrast, good viewing angles, decent refresh rates (response times can be an issue in gaming as far as possible motion blur), and the ability to crank up the brightness. With the axing of FreeSync 2 support, this may not be the best option for gamers wanting an ultra-wide, but this monitor is sure to find a place in the corporate world with lots of side-by-side windows open in brightly lit office environments. Depending on reviews it could also be good for flight sims, 4X games, and other gaming as well.

The monitor features DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA, and USB Type-C display inputs (one each) as well as (using the USB Type-C port to connect to a PC) a two port USB 3.0 hub, one Ethernet jack, and two 3.5mm audio jacks (one headphone and one microphone).

The Philips 492P8 32:9 VA monitor is slated for a Q2 2018 release with a MSRP of $1,077 (C899). OF course, there is plenty of time for specifications and pricing to change between now and then, but it seems Philips is aiming for a budget option under $1100.

I would have liked to see more vertical resolution (I mean, why not at least 1200p? heh) but you can’t have everything, especially for cheap. What do you think about the 32:9 aspect ratio? Also, would you put a 49" ~34 pound monitor on your desk?

Also read: Samsung Announces FreeSync 2 HDR Displays, includes C49HG90 49-in UltraWide!

Source: PC Gamer

Samsung Announces 11nm LPP and 7nm LPP Processes

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2017 - 05:27 PM |
Tagged: Vega, TSMC, Samsung, ryzen, Intel, euv, 8nm, 7nm, 14nm, 11nm, 10nm

Process technology is extremely complex today, and getting more and more complex by the minute.  The billions of dollars invested in each process node essentially insures that it will have to be used for years to come to get back that investment.  It not only needs to get back that investment, but provide more funds to start R&D on the next series of nodes that will come down the line.  It has only been a couple of years since the introduction of multiple 14nm processes from Intel and Samsung, as well as the 16nm node from TMSC.  We are already moving towards an introduction of 10nm parts from these manufacturers in bulk starting next year.  So have these manufacturers gotten their money worth out of their current processes?
 
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Kinam Kim, President of Samsung Electronics’ Semiconductor Business, discloses the latest process advances from his division.
 
Part of that answer somes in the form of Samsung's latest product.  Samsung is announcing the availability of a new 11nm FinFET process that looks to be a pretty extensive optimization of the company's 14nm FF.  The new process promises 15% better performance and 10% chip area reduction at the same power consumption as the older 14nm FF.  The idea here is to further improve upon their 14nm process all the while retaining the economics of it.  This process exists separately from the latest 10nm LPP which can be considered a full jump from the previous 14nm.  11nm LPP will be primarily aimed at midrange and high end products, but will not reach the full scaling and performance of the 10nm LPP product.
 
This "little steps" philosophy has been around for ages, as AMD utilized it for most of their existence when they owned their own Fabs.  Other companies have done the same by including small improvements over the lifetime of the process so that the final product is signficantly better in terms of yield, transistor switching speed, and thermal dissipation.  Samsung looks to be doing this with their 11nm process by providing all those little steps of improvement from 14nm.
 
The second part of the announcement is that Samsung has announced their 7nm process using EUV.  Samsung had previously announced their 8nm process, but it still relies upon multi-patterning immersion litho.  Samsung has been testing their 250 watt EUV source with fairly good results.  The company is quoted as to processing over 200,000 wafers since 2014 and has achieved an 80% yeild on 256 Mb SRAM.  This is somewhat impressive, but still not ready for primetime.  SRAM features highly consistent structures and is typically one of the first complex chips tested on a new process.
 
Samsung is offering orders now of its 11nm line and it will be very interesting to see who jumps on board.  I would not expect AMD to transfer their designs to 11nm, as a tremendous amount of reworking and validating are required. Instead we will see AMD going for the 10nm node with their Zen 2 based products while continuing to produce Ryzen, Vega, and Polaris at 14nm. Those that will be taking advantage of 11nm will probably be groups pushing out smaller products, especially for the midrange and high end cell phone SOCs.
 
10nm LPP is expected in early 2018, 8nm LPP in 2019, and finally Samsung hopes for 7nm to be available in 2020.
Source: Samsung

Grado's new GH2 Heritage Limited Edition headphones

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2017 - 03:29 PM |
Tagged: Grado, GH2 Heritage, audio

We have mentioned Grado headsets often hear, and one model graces the ears of Josh during podcasts.  They are more expensive than most of the models you see reviewed, however they are also of much higher quality and each headset is hand made, something you will never get from Beats.  The Grado GH2 Heritage Limited Edition headphones sport Cocobolo wood around the outside of the open design ear cups with their new 'red' drivers inside.  You will also receive a number of soft pads for the headphones which not only allow you to increase your comfort, they are also billed as modifying the various elements of your audio.  Head over to Kitguru for a listen to what they thought of this headset.

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"Today’s Grado GH2 Heritage are a limited edition headphone, and they join an exclusive list of Grado limited run production headphones such as the ‘John Mayer’ and ‘Billy Joel’ headphones, made in very limited edition runs."

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Source: Kitguru

AORUS would like you grab a Coffee and take a guess

Subject: Motherboards | September 11, 2017 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, aorus, Z370, Intel, coffee lake

Obviously this is neither raven nor writing desk, instead it is confirmation we will see a new Z370 motherboard arrive soon, October 5th being the expected end of term.  While the picture below is from AORUS' official Twitter feed; in this rare case the social media platform is a reliable source, there have also been a few leaks about AORUS' Z370 lineup.

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The models include the Aorus Z370 Gaming K3, Z370 Gaming 3, Z370 Gaming 5, Z370 Gaming 7 and Z370 Ultra Gaming with no Gaming 9 model announced as of yet.  You can expect quad channel memory support as well as at least two M.2 ports and support for Intel Optane on these ATX boards when they arrive for sale.

 

Source: Twitter