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Now that's a waterblock! Cooling ThreadRipper with Enermax's Liqtech AIOs

Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 6, 2017 - 03:16 PM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen, Threadripper, AIO, watercooler, enermax, Liqtech, TR4 240, TR4 360

As you can see in the picture, Enermax's Liqtech coolers are large enough to completely cover AMD's supersized new processors.  [H]ard|OCP found that the installation process "could not be much simpler", with great contact and an saw an even distribution of thermal compound when they checked.  As you might expect, the model numbers refer to the size of the radiator, the 240 sports a pair of 120mm fans while the 360 sports three for those systems which can accommodate the larger size.  The coolers were not able to keep a 1950X stable at 4GHz but kept the temperatures well below 80C at 3.9GHz; this along with the prices of $130 and $150 respectively show that these coolers are aimed at those on a budget who are not planning on overclocking.  You can see the full results here.

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"Enermax brings to us the first All-in-One coolers that are purpose-built for AMD's Ryzen Threadripper CPUs. We review both the Liqtech TR4 240 and the Liqtech TR4 360 using our overclocked 1950X Threadripper system and compare these to our XSPC RayStorm custom cooling loop. Yes, we are setting the bar high."

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

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Everyone panic, AIM is shutting down!

Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2017 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: aol, aim, ancient

You heard right, AOL Instant Messenger is actually still running and there are people still using it who will find this news distressing.  You have until December 15th to download any files you might have stored there, though your buddy list will not make it unless someone out there designs a third party tool.  We lost Geocities in 2009; what's next, MySpace? 

Pop over to Slashdot to make a few cracks or head here to reset your password if you actually remember your username.

get_new_aim_username.png

"However, AIM couldn't make the seamless transition to mobile, where most users rely on instant messaging services. Users will be able to manually download any images or files on AIM before the service shuts down. However, users won't be able to export or save their Buddy List, the group of contacts available on AIM."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

PCPer Mailbag #12 - 10/6/2017

Subject: Editorial | October 6, 2017 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: video, Ryan Shrout, pcper mailbag, pcper

It's Friday, which means it's time for PC Perspective's weekly mailbag, our video show where Ryan and team answer your questions about the tech industry, the latest and greatest hardware, the process of running a tech review website, and more!

Here's what you'll find on today's show:

00:32 - Where are the Ryzen X370 mATX motherboards?
02:41 - Testing air coolers vs. AIO water coolers?
05:35 - Consumers' right to know GPU memory manufacturer?
07:46 - Resolution vs. refresh rate?
09:11 - Guest hosts on the PCPer podcast?
10:31 - Why is VEGA a power hog?
12:06 - High Performance Windows power plan for low-end CPUs?
13:59 - What is asynchronous compute and why is AMD better at it?
16:51 - Why do game devs use NVIDIA SKDs when consoles run AMD?
19:00 - CPUs: soldered vs. TIM
20:12 - Ryan's parenting time management?

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel to make sure you never miss our weekly reviews and podcasts, and please consider supporting PC Perspective via Patreon to help us keep videos like our weekly mailbag coming!

Source: YouTube

Leaked Update Shows Intel Launching New 300-Series Chipsets In 2018

Subject: Motherboards | October 5, 2017 - 05:42 PM |
Tagged: Z390, Z370, Q370, Q360, leaks, Intel, H370, H310, coffee lake, chipsets, B360

Thanks to a leaked Intel Launch Update document we now know that Intel is planning to launch a slew of new 300-series chipsets early next year. Reportedly vetted by Gamer's Nexus, the leaked roadmap mentions H310, H370, and B360 on the consumer side, Q370 and Q360 for the business market. There is also a tease of a Z390 chipset that is set to replace Z370 as the high-end motherboard platform of choice.

Intel B360 H310 H370 chipsets in Q1 2018.jpg

As if things were not already confusing enough in the _370 chipset space (with Intel's Z370 and AMD's X370), Intel plans to add a H370 chipset to the mix which should be a bit cheaper and have less overclocking, PCI-E slots, and M.2 ports. Intel has also had to tweak the name for its B series chipset to B360 as well so as to not confuse itself with AMD's B350 chipset offering. Finally, there will be a H310 chipset for budget options. These three consumer chipsets are slated for launch in Q1 2018.

For its business customers, Intel plans to launch Q370 and Q360 chipsets in Q2 2018.

Finally, Intel is rumored to launch a Z390 chipset sometime in the second half of next year (2H 2018). According to Gamer's Nexus, industry sources have indicated that Z370 is more of a "stop gap" solution that Intel used to quickly roll out its Coffee Lake processors. Z370 is intended to only support Coffee Lake and while engineering boards were able to support Kaby Lake-R and Coffee Lake CPUs, this functionality has been disabled in firmware. Z370 based motherboards reportedly have tweaked PCB trace optimizations and power delivery needed to support the new processors. Z390 meanwhile will be the successor to Z370 in 2018 and will offically support the entire range of consumer level Coffee Lake processors as well as rumored 8 core (16 thread) processors of undetermined architecture (maybe 14nm++ Coffee Lake but would be a rather big but not unheard of die at ~176mm^2 so rumors also speculate that these 8 core parts could be based on 10nm Ice Lake instead).

Beyond the existence of these chipsets, the ILU did not go into details on the features they would offer or things like price points for motherboards based on them, naturally. As usual you should take these types of leaks with a teaspoon of salt, but it is interesting that Intel may be stepping up their game in rolling out new products faster and moving more cores to the mainstream chips--finally!

Also read:

Comcast Launches New Xfinity Instant TV Streaming Service

Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2017 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: xfinity, streaming tv, iptv, data caps, cord cutting, Comcast

Comcast is hoping to entice its internet only customers to add cable TV and its current cable TV customers to not fully cut the cord with its new Xfinity Instant TV. The new streaming TV service starts at $18 (plus those darn broadcast/TV fees Comcast loves so much) and will soon be available to all current Comcast broadband subscribers. The base package includes access to local broadcast channels, a video on demand library, and a cloud DVR with 20 hours of storage. Users can stream live and on demand TV and movies using the Xfinity Stream application on mobile devices and Rokus, the browser-based website on desktops, or TV Everywhere logins at the individual networks' websites or apps (e.g. HBO Go).

Xfinity Stream.png

For those looking for a bit more TV than what they can get over the air with an antenna, Comcast is offering three add-on packages for additional monthly fees as well as allowing users to add HBO and Starz for the standard rates ($15 for HBO). The tiers are laid out as follows:

Limited Basic (base package)

Popular broadcast channels (vary by market) including ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC, PBS, Telemundo, Unimas, Univision, C-SPAN, and other public, education, and government (PEG) channels.

  • Entertainment (+ $15/month):
    • A&E, AMC, Animal Planet, BET, Bravo, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, E!, Food Network, FX, FXX, Hallmark Channel, History, HGTV, Lifetime, OWN, SyFy, TBS, TNT, TV One, USA, and VHI
  • Kids and Family (+ $10/month):
    • Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, MTV, National Geographic Channel, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, NickToons, Universal Kids, TeenNick, and TLC
  • Sports and News (+ $30/month):
    • CNBC, CNN, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN News, ESPNU, Fox Business, Fox News, Fox Sports 1, Golf Channel, MSNBC, NBC Sports, NFL Network, and regional sports that vary on market

Comcast has broken its channels into three main add-on packages that allow potential cord cutters to pick and choose what they want to pay for (though it's not full a la carte yet). Those packages are a bit pricey though if you only want some of the channels in the package, particularly the Sports and News package at $30 a month (and likely having to also pay the Sports broadcast fee regular cable customers have to pay whether they watch sports or not) which would be better broken out as separate packages and even the sports package could have regional channels broken out to its own add-on.

In another interesting twist though, Comcast announced that its new Xfinity Instant TV service will not count against users' data caps giving the service a marked advantage over IPTV competitors like YouTube TV, Hulu Live, PlayStation Vue, and others. If you live in a capped market, Instant TV starts to look a bit better price wise if you are a heavy data user as you could avoid data cap overage charges as a result of TV viewing.

On the other hand caveats include a limited DVR (though you can watch On Demand usually the next day) that can only record two shows simultaneously and live TV is, for the most part, limited to your own in-home network. When you are outside of your home network you will be limited to on demand streaming and recordings depending on licensing rights.

I think Comcast is hoping that the new service will entice cable TV holdouts wanting cheaper bills to stay in some fashion as well as entice internet only users and users that have cut the cord already to use Instant TV as a sort of gateway drug to traditional cable. Since they ahve to pay the same TV fees (though no fees for boxes), they might as well upgrade to X1 for a bit more and get more channels and more DVR--or at least that's the idea. I'm not convinced that plan will work though with the current pricing though. I suppose we will just have to wait and see!

What are your thoughts on Xfinity Instant TV? If you are interested in the service, you can check availability in your market (and Internet only customers can get a free 30-day trial) at www.xfinity.com/instant-tv.

Meet EVGA's Z370 Series Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | October 5, 2017 - 02:39 PM |
Tagged: Z370, Intel, evga, coffee lake

EVGA offers a trio of boards to pour your Coffee into, the EVGA Z370 Classified K, Z370 FTW and an mATX Z370 Micro.  You can take a peek at the differences between the boards below, however there are quite a few things they all have in common.  The motherboard power connectors have been positioned to make it easier to work in confined spaces, on the mATX model they opted for a 90 degree angle with a cut out that should fit in even the tiniest of cases.  All will have at least a pair of Optane compatible M.2 ports, support for memory frequencies up to DDR4-4133MHz and perhaps even higher and reinforced PCIe and memory slots.

Take a look at the specifications below (click to zoom and enhance) as well as the highlighted features in the PR.

EVGA370.png

October 5th, 2017 - Introducing the EVGA Z370 motherboards, based on Intel's Z370 Express Chipset and 8th Gen. CPUs. These motherboards are built to take mainstream performance to the next level...and beyond. This lineup includes not only the most commonly used ports, slots, and components, but also many surprises. All EVGA Z370 boards include cable cutouts to make tight fits and cabling a concern of the past. These boards also feature metal-reinforced PCIe and DIMM slots, 2-Way SLI Support, multiple RGB headers*, M.2 slots, Intel or Killer Gigabit NICs, and switchable dual-BIOS. Your ears will appreciate Realtek's upgraded 7.1 Channel audio or Creative's Sound Core 3D Audio for superior listening and gaming performance. No EVGA motherboard series would be complete without overclocking support: the Z370 Classified K and Micro are both designed with an 8-Phase VCore design and an external clock gen. to provide more power and stability to your everyday life. Make an EVGA Z370 motherboard part of your next PC and find out just how powerful your system can be - starting from the core.

Features
Intel 8th Generation Core i7/i5/i3 Coffee Lake-S Processors - Discover the power of a 6 Core/12 Thread processor for the first time on an Intel Z-Series motherboard!

Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready - Accelerate your PC with Intel’s latest solutions for blistering fast boot times and increased performance for gaming and everyday tasks.

Reinforced PCIe and DIMM slots - Use today's latest, greatest...and heaviest graphics cards and memory and still have Peace of Mind Gaming.

Dual BIOS chips on all EVGA Z370 motherboards - Easily switch between BIOS configurations to use a custom BIOS, troubleshoot a problem, or fix a failed BIOS update!
Optimized power connector layout for cable management - All EVGA Z370 motherboards feature a new layout for some power connectors to avoid compatibility issues with cases and tight spaces.

Killer DoubleShot™ Pro* - Killer DoubleShot™ Pro helps you maintain your network performance while gaming or streaming, so you won't miss any part of the action.

Integrated HDMI 2.0* - The EVGA Z370 Classified K features an HDMI 2.0 port to allow 4K gaming or streaming at 60fps with supported Intel HD Graphics.

External Clock Generator** - The EVGA Z370 Classified K and Micro feature an external clock generator to improve overclocking stability and increase your overall performance.

 

Source: EVGA

Google Announces High-End Convertible Pixelbook Running Chrome OS

Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2017 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: pixelbook, google, convertible tablet, Chromebook, chrome os

Google is dipping its Chrome toes into high end Chromebook territory again with the launch of a new thin and light convertible tablet called the Google Pixelbook. The 12.3” notebook is constructed of premium aluminum and glass components and packs 8th Generation refreshed Kaby Lake CPUs, up to 16 GB of RAM, and up to 512 GB of solid state storage. The Pixelbook has a Yoga-style folding multi-touch display and measures less than half an inch think (10.3mm) and weighs a smidge over 2 pounds (1.1kg).

Pixelbook_Hero_US.width-1000.jpg

The Pixelbook has a classy two tone metal and glass design with straight lines and flat edges save for the front edge that has rounded corners. On the inside, the top half is dominated by a 12.3” touchscreen with a resolution of 2400x1600 (Google did not reveal the panel type but did note that it has enough brightness to be used outdoors), paired with a webcam. The display and Wi-Fi antenna area are covered with glass. The bottom half features a backlit keyboard and trackpad that uses almost all the available space of the 12.3” Chromebook.

Internally, the Pixelbook is powered by an Intel Kaby Lake (refresh) processor (in i5 or i7 SKUs), from 8 GB to 16 GB of RAM, and 128 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB of SSD storage depending on the model you purchase. Google has set up the Pixelbook so that it can automatically pair with a Pixel smartphone for tethered data on the go. The battery in the Pixelbook is rated for 10 hours and has a quick charge feature that offers up to 2 hours of usage on a 15-minute charge.

The display is multi-touch, and users can optionally purchase the new (Wacom developed) active electrostatic Pixelbook Pen for $99 and use the AI-powered handwriting recognition and Google Assistant functionality with the stylus. Google claims the pen has 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity and 60-degrees of angular recognition, and thanks to machine learning, 10ms response time.

Speaking of Google Assistant, the Pixelbook features a Google Assistant key on the keyboard where the Windows key normally resides. The pen can be used to highlight text and interact with the AI assistant as well.

The Google Pixelbook is available for pre-order now at the Google Web Store and Best Buy and will be up for purchase by October 31st. The base model with an i5, 8GB of RAM, and 128 GB of SSD storage is $999. Moving to 256 GB of storage gets you to $1199 and upgrading all the specs to an i7, 16 GB RAM, and 512 GB NVMe SSD pushes the price to $1699.

The high-end Chromebook is a bit of an odd market, but the primarily web application-based Chrome OS continues to inch towards being able to take advantage of the local processing power with the ability to run apps not only from the Chrome Web Store but also run Android applications and store and run more stuff (like media and document creation) when offline. No doubt the Pixelbook looks classy, but it is putting itself in the same territory as iPad Pros and Surface products (Surface Books and Surface Pro tablets) as well as most of the premium ultrabook and thin and light laptop and tablets running full versions of Windows.

What are your thoughts on the new Pixelbook? Would you buy one? 

Source: Google

ASUS ROG Launches Maximus X and Strix Z370 Series

Subject: Motherboards | October 5, 2017 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: coffee lake, Z370, ASUS ROG, maximus x, strix z370

We don't have any Z370 reviews for you just yet but we do have announcements about the boards from the manufacturers.  ASUS will be releasing two main families initially, the first comprised of the Maximus X Apex, Maximus X Hero, Maximus X Code and Maximus X Formula.  The second family will feature the full sized Strix Z370-E, Z370-F Gaming and Z370-H Gaming along with the mATX Strix Z370-G Gaming and Mini-ITX Strix Z370-I Gaming.

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All the boards, including the SFF models will have at least two NVMe SSD slots compatible with SSDs as well as Optane, Intel Gigabit Ethernet controllers and some will even offer MU-MIMO support.  You can get a breakdown of the features specific to each motherboard over at ASUS, as well as take a peek at the PR below.

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Fremont, CA (October 5, 2017) — The new Intel® 8th Generation Core™ processors are the best desktop CPUs for gaming on the market. With up to six cores and 12 threads, these Coffee Lake chips also have huge potential for enthusiasts and power users who do more with their PCs. Their exceptional performance, unmatched versatility, and considerable overclocking potential are a natural fit for Republic of Gamers (ROG), so we’ve developed a diverse collection of Z370 gaming motherboards for a range of priorities and budgets.

Our latest lineup reinforces ROG’s role as both a breeding ground for innovative features and a proving ground where we test the absolute limits of performance. It includes standouts like the Maximus X Apex, a hardcore gaming and overclocking board designed to break performance records; the Maximus X Hero, which blends leading performance with premium extras; the Maximus X Code that redefines the performance essentials for gamers and enthusiasts; and the Maximus X Formula, which is brimming with cutting-edge features fit for showcase PCs.

While the Maximus series covers the higher end of the spectrum, the Strix family opens the Republic of Gamers to a wider audience. It provides everything you need in a gaming motherboard but excludes some of our more indulgent extras to hit affordable price points. Full-sized ATX options include closely matched contenders for the sweet spot, the Strix Z370-E and Z370-F Gaming, and an unexpected retro revival, the Strix Z370-H Gaming. Smaller form factors are served by the mATX Strix Z370-G Gaming and Mini-ITX Strix Z370-I Gaming.

Defined by gamers, powered by innovation, discover the all-new ROG Z370 lineup at ASUS ROG.

Setting the Benchmark for Records
Lots of motherboard makers claim the best performance, but we’ve got the results to prove it. Much of the credit goes to the Apex, an overclocking savant purpose-built for taking new CPUs to the ragged edge at sub-zero temperatures. Apex boards were introduced earlier this year with the Maximus IX series, and they’ve already claimed multiple world records and top scores with Intel’s Z270 and X299 platforms. Now, our internal overclocking team has continued that streak with the new Maximus X Apex, setting the highest 8th Generation Core i7-8700K frequency record by reaching 7.3GHz on all 6-cores and 12-threads. In addition, the highest DDR4 memory frequency record with a top speed of 5529.2MHz. For the complete story on Z370 overclocking please visit our article at ASUS ROG.

 

Source: ASUS

Grab a cuppa, you may be looking at the Lake for a while

Subject: Processors | October 5, 2017 - 12:47 PM |
Tagged: Intel, core i5, coffee lake, 8600K, i5-7600K, ryzen 7

[H]ard|OCP had an opportunity to try a different Coffee Lake CPU than Ryan, who provided our initial results on the i7-8700K and Core i5-8400.  In this review, they took a Core i5-8600K and immediately overclocked the chip to 5GHz so they could directly compare Coffee Lake to a Kaby Lake i5-7600K clock for clock, if not for core.  The tests show both CPUs at 5GHz locked clocks, 3600MHz RAM clocks with the exact same timings of 18-19-19-39@2T; they do not show a major improvement in performance between the two chips although it is there.  What it does illustrate is that the performance increased you see on Coffee Lake are from higher clock speeds, which are a good thing.  There will be many who feel the lack of IPC improvement speaks poorly of the new chipset and incompatible socket and they do have a point.   There is fun for AMD fans in this review as well, the Ryzen 7 takes top spot even when running at a mere 4GHz, so start with this one and then take a gander through the rest.

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"If you were waiting for huge IPC gains out of the new Coffee Lake CPU from Intel, you might be waiting for a very long time. We take the Intel Coffee Lake Core i5-8600K CPU and match it up GHz to GHz with the Intel Core i5-7600K Kaby Lake processor. And we throw in a Ryzen 7 at 4GHz just for fun."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

iOS and Android have Edge? Lord!

Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2017 - 12:11 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, ios, edge, Android

Microsoft is adding an Edge-y experience to mobile devices not running the rarely seen Windows Mobile.  Android users who never heard of Arrow will now not know it as Microsoft Launcher; those who try will find a Chromium based browser which resembles Edge and knows a few of its tricks.  iOS users will be running Safari WebKit wrapped all the way to the Edge of their screens.  In both cases Edge will offer the same cross-system abilities as it does on PC, allowing you to immediately resume reading a document and sync apps from or to your mobile device.  That functionality does have prerequisites, you would need to be using a PC running Windows as one of your devices and it has to have the Fall Creators Update installed, which hasn't yet been pushed out.  If you haven't yet fallen asleep, you can continue on Ars Technica.

edge-launcher-ios-android-800x450.jpg

"As with Edge, the important part of the Launcher is the cross-device experience. Documents and photos has a "continue on PC" option that will open them up on a computer, making it easier to start working on the phone and then resume on a computer."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Ars Technica

Podcast #470 - Intel VROC, AMD TR RAID, Google Pixel 2, and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2017 - 10:39 AM |
Tagged: Zotac Zbox, Z370 Godlike, VROC, video, usb 3.2, Samsung Odyssey, ryzen, PS2000e, podcast, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 2, Pinnacle, msi, lumberyard, Intel, Grado, google, Glaive, cryorig h5 ultimate, corsair, Cooler Master Cosmos C700P, AWS, apple, amd, a11

PC Perspective Podcast #470 - 10/05/17

Join us for discussion on Intel VROC, AMD TR RAID, Google Pixel 2, 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, Jermey Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:41:19

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Allyn: 1:38:20 Want a big SATA SSD?
  4. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Source:
Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: Intel

Specifications and Summary

As seems to be the trend for processor reviews as of late, today marks the second in a two-part reveal of Intel’s Coffee Lake consumer platform. We essentially know all there is to know about the new mainstream and DIY PC processors from Intel, including specifications, platform requirements, and even pricing; all that is missing is performance. That is the story we get to tell you today in our review of the Core i7-8700K and Core i5-8400.

Coffee Lake is the second spoke of Intel's “8th generation” wheel that began with the Kaby Lake-R release featuring quad-core 15-watt notebook processors for the thin and light market. Though today’s release of the Coffee Lake-S series (the S is the designation for consumer desktop) doesn’t share the same code name, it does share the same microarchitecture, same ring bus design (no mesh here), and same underlying technology. They are both built on the Intel 14nm process technology.

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And much like Kaby Lake-R in the notebook front, Coffee Lake is here to raise the core count and performance profile of the mainstream Intel CPU playbook. When AMD first launched the Ryzen 7 series of processors that brought 8-cores and 16-threads of compute, it fundamentally shook the mainstream consumer markets. Intel was still on top in terms of IPC and core clock speeds, giving it the edge in single and lightly threaded workloads, but AMD had released a part with double the core and thread count and was able to dominate in most multi-threaded workloads compared to similar Intel offerings.

Much like Skylake-X before it, Coffee Lake had been on Intel’s roadmap from the beginning, but new pressure from a revived AMD meant bringing that technology to the forefront sooner rather than later in an effort stem any potential shifts in market share and maybe more importantly, mind share among investors, gamers, and builders. Coffee Lake, and the Core i7, Core i5, and Core i3 processors that will be a part of this 8000-series release, increase the core count across the board, and generally raise clock speeds too. Intel is hoping that by bumping its top mainstream CPU to 6-cores, and coupling that with better IPC and higher clocks, it can alleviate the advantages that AMD has with Ryzen.

But does it?

That’s what we are here to find out today. If you need a refresher on the build up to this release, we have the specifications and slight changes in the platform and design summarized for you below. Otherwise, feel free to jump on over to the benchmarks!

Continue reading our review of the Intel Core i7-8700K and Core i5-8400!!

Lenovo Announces Limited-Edition ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25

Subject: Mobile | October 5, 2017 - 08:30 AM |
Tagged: thinkpad 25, Thinkpad, t470, Lenovo

It's official! After several years of teasing, Lenovo today has finally unveiled the "Retro ThinkPad."

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Coinciding with the exact 25th anniversary of the release of the first ThinkPad model, the ThinkPad 700C, the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25 harkens back to some of the features that have made the ThinkPad brand special over the years.

06_Thinkpad_25_Hero_Birdseye_B_C_cover.png

Built on the same chassis as the current generation ThinkPad T470, the Anniversary Edition has been updated with some features ThinkPad fans have been yearning for. The IBM-era 7-row keyboard is back, along with the traditional blue accented enter key and the key switch design that helped make the ThinkPad known as the premier option for business users throughout the years.

14_THINKPAD_25_CloseUp_RGB ThinkPad Logo.png

The return of a retro-style RGB ThinkPad Logo is a nice additional detail for longtime ThinkPad fans.

We don't know about the complete specifications yet, but so far we know that the base configuration will feature an Intel i7-7500U CPU with an NVIDIA 940MX GPU and a 14-in 1080p matte touchscreen. 

As for pricing and availability, the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25 should be available today, October 5th, on Lenovo's web store for a price starting at $1899. We've been told there's a special deal available today only for the 25th anniversary, but we have no indication of how much that discount is right now.

$1899 is a high price for the specifications, especially compared to other machines in Lenovo's lineup like the T470, but this seems like it will be a low-volume special edition SKU produced for the most dedicated ThinkPad fans.

12_THINKPAD_25_CloseUp_ Anniversary Edition.png

We're still waiting to get some hands-on time with the device at the 25th-anniversary event, but we'll report back with more impressions on the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25!

Source: Lenovo

Western Digital Launches 14TB Enterprise Hard Drive for Big Data

Subject: Storage | October 5, 2017 - 01:37 AM |
Tagged: western digital, SMR, hgst, HelioSeal, big data, 14tb

Western Digital is raising the enterprise hard drive stakes once again with the announcement of a 14 TB 3.5” hard drive. The HGST branded Ultrastar Hs14 uses fourth generation HelioSeal and second generation host-managed SMR (shingled magnetic recording) to enable a 14 TB drive that is just as fast as its smaller capacity enterprise predecessors despite the impressive 1034 Gb/sq in areal density. Western Digital claims the new hard drive offers up 40% more capacity and twice the sequential write performance of its previous SMR drives.

HGST Ultrastar Hs14 SMR Hard Drive.jpg

The 3.5” SMR hard drive comes in SATA 6Gbps and SAS 12 Gbps flavors with both equipped with 512 MB cache, operating at 7200 RPM, and supporting maximum sustained transfer speeds of 233 MB/s. The enterprise drive is geared towards sequential writes and is intended to be the storage target for big data applications like Facebook, video streaming services, and research and financial workloads that generate absolutely massive amounts of raw data that needs to sit in archival storage but remain easily accessible (where tape is not as desirable). According to the data sheet (PDF), it is also aimed at bulk cloud storage and online backup as well as businesses storing compliance, audit, and regulatory records.

For those curious about Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR), Allyn shared some thoughts on the technology here.

Western Digital rates the drive at 550 TB/year and supports the Hs14 with a five year warranty. The drive is currently being sampled to a small number of OEMs with wider availability to follow.

Also read:

Source: HGST

Gigabyte Designs New X399 Designare EX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | October 5, 2017 - 12:35 AM |
Tagged: X399, tr4, Threadripper, gigabyte, designare EX

Gigabyte has introduced the X399 Designare EX, a decked out ATX motherboard with silver colored armor (including a large backplate) and a blue LED overlay over the PCH. The X399 motherboard is based on the same platform as the already launched Aorus X399 Gaming 7, but with a silver-metallic aesthetic and toned-down LEDs (though you can add RGB LED strips via headers.

The X399 Designare EX surrounds the Threadripper TR4 socket with eight DIMM slots and an eight phase VRM setup with server grade chokes that pulls power from a set of 8-pin and 4-pin 12V EPS connectors. The power phases are covered by heatsinks connected by a heatpipe with the heatsink sitting behind the rear I/O including a small fan for active cooling (which should help ensure some airflow for the VRMs if you are watercooling). Interestingly the IO plate for the rear IO is part of the motherboard rather than being a separate piece that comes in the box. A large backplate ensures the board will not warp over time even with large and heavy CPU coolers and graphics cards installed.

Gigabyte X399 Designare EX.jpg

The motherboard has five PCI-E x16 slots (x16/x8/x16/x8 for 4-way GPU configurations) and three M.2 slots with heatspreaders (two in between the PCI-E slots and one below the PCH heatsink). Storage also includes 8 SATA 6 Gbps ports (four from CPU, and four from chipset). USB includes two USB 3.1 Gen 2, 10 USB 3.1 Gen 1, and USB 2.0 ports via headers. On board chipsets include Intel-based 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, and two Gigabyte Ethernet (Intel i211AT) NICs. As for audio, the X399 Designare EX uses the Realtek ALC 1220 (120 dBA SNR) chipset paired with high end WIMA and Nichicon caps, Op Amps, and ground layer isolation. There are 9 temperature sensor headers and 8 fan headers for air or water gear.

Gigabyte has not yet released pricing or availability but I would expect it to be at least $430. Personally, I am a fan of the design of this board and it should at least look good in builds! As for stock performance, overclocking support, and CMOS battery placement we will have to wait for the reviews!

Source: Gigabyte

Intel Quad RAID-0 Optane Memory 32GB Bootable Without VROC Key!

Subject: Storage | October 4, 2017 - 09:24 PM |
Tagged: x299, VROC, skylake-x, RAID-0, Optane, Intel, bootable, boot

We've been playing around a bit with Intel VROC lately. This new tech lets you create a RAID of NVMe SSDs connected directly to newer Intel Skylake-X CPUs, without the assistance of any additional chipset or other RAID controlling hardware on the X299 platform. While the technology is not fully rolled out, we did manage to get it working and test a few different array types as a secondary volume. One of the pieces of conflicting info we had been trying to clear up was can you boot from a VROC array without the currently unobtanium VROC key...

VROC-booted-3.jpeg

Well, it seems that question has been answered with our own tinkering. While there was absolutely no indication in the BIOS that our Optane Memory quad RAID-0 was bootable (the array is configurable but does not appear in the bootable devices list), I'm sitting here looking at Windows installed directly to a VROC array!

Important relevant screenshots below:

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For the moment this will only work with Intel SSDs, but Intel's VROC FAQ states that 'selected third-party SSDs' will be supported, but is unclear if that includes bootability (future support changes would come as BIOS updates since they must be applied at the CPU level). We're still digging into VROC as well as AMD's RAID implementation. Much more to follow, so stay tuned!

Render Token Announces Render Token

Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2017 - 09:19 PM |
Tagged: render token, ethereum, 3D rendering

You know how people have been buying up GPUs to mine coin? A new company, Render Token, has just announced a service that works in a similar way, except that the output is rendered images. A better example would be something like Folding@Home, but the user is paid for the work that their computer performs. The CEO and the President, Jules Urbach and Alissa Grainger respectively, are co-founders of OTOY, which does GPU- and Cloud-accelerated rendering.

According to Jules Urbach at Unite Austin, they are apparently paying, deliberately, more than ethereum would give users for the same amount of processing power.

I am... torn on this issue. On the one hand, it’s a cool application of crowd-sourced work, and it helps utilize idle silicon scattered around the globe. On the other hand, I hope that this won’t kick GPU supply levels while they’re down. Sure, at least there’s some intrinsic value to the workload, but I can just see people sticking racks of caseless systems in their basement, while gamers keep browsing Amazon for something under four digits (excluding the cents) to appear in stock.

What do you all think? Does the workload usefulness dull the pain?

Source: Render Token

OTOY Discussed AI Denoising at Unite Austin

Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2017 - 08:59 PM |
Tagged: 3D rendering, otoy, Unity, deep learning

When raytracing images, sample count has a massive impact on both quality and rendering performance. This corresponds to the number of rays within a pixel that were cast, which, when averaged out over many, many rays, eventually matches what the pixel should be. Think of it this way: if your first ray bounces directly into a bright light, and the second ray bounces into the vacuum of space, should the color be white? Black? Half-grey? Who knows! However, if you send 1000 rays with some randomized pattern, then the average is probably a lot closer to what it should be (which depends on how big the light is, what it bounces off of, etc.).

At Unite Austin, which started today, OTOY showed off an “AI temporal denoiser” algorithm for raytraced footage. Typically, an artist chooses a sample rate that looks good enough to the end viewer. In this case, the artist only needs to choose enough samples that an AI can create a good-enough video for the end user. While I’m curious how much performance is required in the inferencing stage, I do know how much a drop in sample rate can affect render times, and it’s a lot.

Check out OTOY’s video, embed above.

Google Announces Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL Smartphones

Subject: Mobile | October 4, 2017 - 04:32 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, pOLED, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 2, pixel, phone, Oreo, google, DxOMark, Android 8, AMOLED

Google has announced the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones, the second-gen versions of the Nexus-replacement Pixel which launched last October. We looked at that first Pixel phone, which was the premier Android device at the time, and these new Pixel 2 devices hope to place Google at the top of the heap again (with stiff competition from Samsung, of course).

Pixel 2 XL.jpg

The Google Pixel 2 XL (image credit: Google)

The Pixel 2 arrives in a standard version with a 5-inch 1920x1080 AMOLED display, and an XL version with a new 6-inch pOLED display with 2880x1440 resolution. Both phones are powered by the 8-core Snapdragon 835 and feature 4GB of RAM and the option of either 64GB or 128GB of storage (no card slot on either phone).

While the design of the Pixel 2 is largely unchanged compared to last year, with large bezels above and below the display, the Pixel 2 XL comes closer to the ever-popular “all screen” look with its smaller top/bottom bezels.

Pixel 2.jpg

The Google Pixel 2 (image credit: Google)

Both phones offer dual front-facing stereo speakers as well, unlike iPhones which have to combine an earpiece speaker and bottom-firing speaker for their stereo effect. The battery capacities are a little different than last year with both Pixel 2 phones, with a 2700 mAh battery (down from 2770 mAh) in the Pixel 2, and a 3520 mAh battery (up from 3450 mAh) in the Pixel 2 XL.

It’s all about camera

Once again, Google is proclaiming the Pixel 2 camera as the best in the industry, and again this is based on testing from DxOMark which has it ranked #1 overall among smartphones. with an incredible 98 out of a possible 100 in their scoring system.

DxOMark.jpg

Image credit: DxOMark

Both sizes of Pixel 2 offer a single 12.2 MP rear camera (sorry, no dual cameras here) with 1.4μm pixels, laser + dual pixel phase detection autofocus, OIS, and a f/1.8 aperture. Fans of simulated lens bokeh have no fear, as Google’s dual-pixel sensor design is said to allow for better portrait-style photos than the original Pixel. Video of up to 4k (but only at 30 FPS) is supported, and an 8 MP f/2.4 camera handles front-facing duties.

More on those new displays

Google has improved the display technology with the Pixel 2, as both versions now offer wide color gamut support (95% DCI-P3 coverage from the Pixel 2, and a full 100% DCI-P3 from the Pixel 2 XL). The displays are now ‘always on’, a handy feature that makes sense from a power standpoint when working with AMOLED panels (and hard to give up once you’ve grown accustomed to it as I did with the Galaxy S8+). Last but not least, covering these new displays is Corning Gorilla Glass 5, which is the most drop-resistant version to date (and is also found on the Galaxy S8/S8+ among other phones).

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A comparison of LCD and OLED technologies (image credit: Android Authority)

The Pixel 2 XL’s “pOLED” display designation suggests a polymer OLED panel, which has the advantage of being much thinner than traditional glass OLED substrates. (Read more about AMOLED vs. P-OLED here.)

The Pixel 2 phones ship with the new Android 8.0 Oreo, with the promise of “minimum” 3 years of OS and security updates. Vanilla Google phone owners (previously Nexus) have enjoyed being the first to new OS updates, and that should still be the case with these new devices. And if you are coming over from another platform - say, Apple, for instance - a “quick switch” adapter is in every box to help transfer data quickly between phones.

Pixel 2 Switch.jpg

The Quick Switch Adapter in action (image credit: Google)

Google is offering the (unlocked) phone for sale directly from their website, and have partnered with Verizon as the exclusive mobile carrier as they did with the original Pixel. The price? $649 gets you the 5-inch Pixel 2 with 64GB of storage, or double that to 128GB for $100 more. The Pixel 2 XL is available for $849 for the 64GB capacity, with the same $100 premium for a 128GB version. There are also four color options this year, with the whimsical naming fully intact from the previous generation: Just Black, Clearly White, Kinda Blue, and Black & White.

Oh, and one more thing: the 3.5 mm headphone jack is gone.

Source: Google

The vintage Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is back!

Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2017 - 02:06 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Star Wars, Star Wars Battlefront 2, gamespy

We lost access to the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 back in 2014 when Gamespy's servers were shut down but thanks to a dedicated group of fans and support from Disney the game is once again playable. There are some issues currently, from servers not responding to deadly lag but there is a team working to resolve the issues.  From the trailer released earlier this week, linked below, we can see that the new version about to be released is nowhere near as disappointing as the reboot of 2015.  There will be far more maps, vehicle and heroes in the new game but we have yet to see if it will match the fun that was the original.  Hopefully it will, but it won't match the current price of $4 on GoG.

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"Battlefront 2's online relaunch doesn't seem to be going entirely smoothly for everyone, though. The game's Steam forums are currently clogged with threads such as Online is back but I can t [sic] play it, Can't join any servers, Multiplayer crashing and Insane server lag."

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Source: Ars Technica