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Look inside this Ryzen powered system from FiercePC

Subject: Systems | June 5, 2017 - 04:01 PM |
Tagged: FiercePC, Imperial Hive, amd, ryzen

The branding you see at the top of eTeknix's review of this system may not match your preferences, unless you really loved Blood Dragon, however the components probably will.  The front and side panels of the case are tempered glass so you can see the RGBs present on almost all of the components.  The system is powered by a Ryzen 1700 on an Aorus AX370-Gaming 5 motherboard with 16GB of Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2400 with graphics powered by a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.  Your OS and favourite games will sit on a 250GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2 NVME with a 2TB Seagate FireCuda Hybrid drive for extra storage.  Drop by to see more pictures as well as the system in action.

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"Are you ready to take your gaming to the next level? I’m sure many of you are! Today, we’ll be ticking off a few “firsts” here at eTeknix, as we review our first system from Fierce PC, as well as our first system review featuring the Ryzen 1700X, and first with a GTX 1080 Ti. What’s interesting is that we’ve already reviewed many of the individual components used in this system, so we know they’re pretty rocking, but never before together in this configuration."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

Source: eTeknix

WWDC 2017: Apple Updates MacBook line-up with Kaby Lake, Improved Graphics

Subject: Mobile | June 5, 2017 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: wwdc, radeon pro 560, radeon pro 550, radeon pro, macbook pro, MacBook Air, macbook, kaby lake, iris plus6540, iris plus 650, i7-7700hq, i5-7360U, i5-7267u, apple

Alongside other updates, Apple at its World Wide Developers Conference this morning announced some modest updates to the MacBook line of notebooks.

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Starting with the MacBook Pro, we see an across the board upgrade to Kaby Lake processors. As we saw on the desktop side with Kaby Lake, there aren't radical differences with these new processor,  however we do see a 200MHz bump across the line on clock speeds. Essentially these are the same relative chips in Intel's Kaby Lake processor lineup as Apple used in the Skylake generation.

  MacBook Pro 13" with Function Keys MacBook Pro 13" with Touch Bar MacBook Pro 15" with Touch Bar
MSRP $1,299+ $1,799+ $2,399+
Screen 13.3" 2560x1600 with DCI-P3 Color Gamut, 500-nits 13.3" 2560x1600 with DCI-P3 Color Gamut, 500-nits 15.4" 2880x1800 with DCI-P3 Color Gamut, 500-nits
CPU Core i5-7360U (2.3GHz up to 3.6GHz) Core i5-7267U (3.1GHz up to 3.5GHz) Core i7-7700HQ (2.8GHz up to 3.8GHz)
GPU Intel Iris Plus 640 Intel Iris Plus 650

AMD Radeon Pro 555 (2GB)

AMD Radeon Pro 560 (4GB)

RAM 8 or 16 GB DDR3-1866 (non-upgradeable) 8 or 16 GB DDR3-2133 (non-upgradeable) 16 GB DDR3-2133 (non-upgradeable)
Storage 128, 256, 512, or 1TB NVMe SSD (non-upgradable) 256, 512, or 1TB NVMe SSD (non-upgradable) 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB NVMe SSD (non-upgradable)
Connectivity 2 x Thunderbolt 3, headphone jack 4 x Thunderbolt 3, headphone jack 4 x Thunderbolt 3, headphone jack

Disappointingly, we do not see the rumored expandability to 32GB of RAM that many power users have been asking for.

Additionally, graphics are generationally upgraded to Intel's Iris Plus 640 and 650 on the 13" models with and without the touch bar respectively.

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The 15" MacBook Pro models see refreshed Polaris GPUs in the form of the Radeon Pro 555 and 560. It's worth nothing that the old entry level 15" MacBook Pro previously had the Radeon Pro 450 GPU, so the base configuration is now a more capable GPU even after you take away the expected improvements to the improved Polaris architecture seen in the RX 580.

In addition, the MacBook saw an upgrade to Kaby Lake processors. Apple also claimed that the onboard SSDs in this machine have seen a speed bump, but provided no real data on such claims.

Finally, the stalwart MacBook Air sees a processor speed bump. We aren't sure exactly what processor is in the new Air, but it seems to only have a 100MHz speed increase. Interestingly enough it still retains HD graphics 6000branding, which would lead us to believe this is still a Broadwell -based mobile processor.

These updated models are now available from Apple.

Source: Apple

A Hero has Ryzen; the new ASUS ROG Crosshair VI

Subject: Motherboards | June 5, 2017 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen, ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero, asus, x370

[H]ard|OCP have posted a review of ASUS new Ryzen board, the X370 ROG Crosshair VI Hero.  The board offers AMD users a lot of choices, three PCIe 3.0 16x slots and three PCIe 2.0 1x slots for daughter cards, eight SATA 6Gbps port as well as an M.2 slot for those who have embraced the new storage form factor.  On the back are an impressive dozen USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports, and two USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, one Type-A and one Type-C.  For testing they ran the DDR4 at 2133MHz during regular testing and at 2800MHz for overclocked testing, unfortunately it seems that we are returning to the days when you need to research RAM compatibility before you buy.  That is nothing we haven't seen before, it simply means you should do a little research before you set up your system.

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"It’s been years since we’ve reviewed an ASUS ROG offering that was designed for AMD CPUs. That’s not to say that those haven’t existed, those just weren’t worth a look as the AMD side of things has not been compelling for the better part of the last decade. Thanks to AMD Ryzen, we have a reason to take the ASUS Crosshair VI Hero for a test drive and tell you how it fared in the tumultuous sea of AM4 motherboards."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Honey, I shrunk the silicon

Subject: General Tech | June 5, 2017 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: IBM, global foundries, Samsung, 5nm, 3nm. eulv, GAAFET

Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography has been the hope for reducing process size below the current size but it had not been used to create a successful 5nm chip, until now.  IBM, Samsung and GLOBALFOUNDRIES have succeeded in producing a chip using IBM's gate-all-around transistors, which will be known as GAAFETs and will likely replace the current tri-gate FinFETs used today.  A GAAFET resembles a FinFET rotated 90 degrees so that the channels run horizontally, stacked three layers high with gates filling in the gaps, hence the name chosen. 

Density will go up, this process will fit 30 billion transistors in a 50mm2 chip, 50% more than the previous best commercial process and performance can be increased by 40% at the same power as our current chips or offer the same performance while consuming 75% less power.  Ars Technica delves into the technology required to make GAAFETs and more of the potential in their article.

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"IBM, working with Samsung and GlobalFoundries, has unveiled the world's first 5nm silicon chip. Beyond the usual power, performance, and density improvement from moving to smaller transistors, the 5nm IBM chip is notable for being one of the first to use horizontal gate-all-around (GAA) transistors, and the first real use of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Ars Technica
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction and First Impressions

The LIVA family of mini PCs has been refreshed regularly since its introduction in 2014, and the LIVA Z represents a change to sleek industrial design as well as the expected updates to the internal hardware.

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The LIVA Z we have for review today is powered by an Intel Apollo Lake SoC, and the product family includes SKUs with both Celeron and Pentium processors. Our review unit is the entry-level model with a Celeron N3350 processor, 4GB memory, and 32GB storage. Memory and storage support are improved compared to past LIVAs, as this is really more of a mini-PC kit like an Intel NUC, as the LIVA Z includes an M.2 slot (SATA 6.0 Gbps) for storage expansion, and a pair of SODIMM slots support up to 8 GB of DDR3L memory (a single 4GB SODIMM is installed by default).

The LIVA Z is a very small device, just a bit bigger than your typical set-top streaming box, and like all LIVAs it is fanless; making it totally silent in operation. This is important for many people in applications such as media consumption in a living room, and like previous LIVA models the Z includes a VESA mount for installation on the back of a TV or monitor. So how does it perform? We will find out!

Continue reading our review of the ECS LIVA Z fanless mini PC!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: The Khronos Group

An Data Format for Whole 3D Scenes

The Khronos Group has finalized the glTF 2.0 specification, and they recommend that interested parties integrate this 3D scene format into their content pipeline starting now. It’s ready.

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glTF is a format to deliver 3D content, especially full scenes, in a compact and quick-loading data structure. These features differentiate glTF from other 3D formats, like Autodesk’s FBX and even the Khronos Group’s Collada, which are more like intermediate formats between tools, such as 3D editing software (ex: Maya and Blender) and game engines. They don’t see a competing format for final scenes that are designed to be ingested directly, quick and small.

glTF 2.0 makes several important changes.

The previous version of glTF was based on a defined GLSL material, which limited how it could be used, although it did align with WebGL at the time (and that spurred some early adoption). The new version switches to Physically Based Rendering (PBR) workflows to define their materials, which has a few advantages.

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First, PBR can represent a wide range of materials with just a handful of parameters. Rather than dictating a specific shader, the data structure can just... structure the data. The industry has settled on two main workflows, metallic-roughness and specular-gloss, and glTF 2.0 supports them both. (Metallic-roughness is the core workflow, but specular-gloss is provided as an extension, and they can be used together in the same scene. Also, during the briefing, I noticed that transparency was not explicitly mentioned in the slide deck, but the Khronos Group confirmed that it is stored as the alpha channel of the base color, and thus supported.) Because the format is now based on existing workflows, the implementation can be programmed in OpenGL, Vulkan, DirectX, Metal, or even something like a software renderer. In fact, Microsoft was a specification editor on glTF 2.0, and they have publicly announced using the format in their upcoming products.

The original GLSL material, from glTF 1.0, is available as an extension (for backward compatibility).

A second advantage of PBR is that it is lighting-independent. When you define a PBR material for an object, it can be placed in any environment and it will behave as expected. Noticeable, albeit extreme examples of where this would have been useful are the outdoor scenes of Doom 3, and the indoor scenes of Battlefield 2. It also simplifies asset creation. Some applications, like Substance Painter and Quixel, have artists stencil materials onto their geometry, like gold, rusted iron, and scuffed plastic, and automatically generate the appropriate textures. It also aligns well with deferred rendering, see below, which performs lighting as a post-process step and thus skip pixels (fragments) that are overwritten.

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PBR Deferred Buffers in Unreal Engine 4 Sun Temple.
Lighting is applied to these completed buffers, not every fragment.

glTF 2.0 also improves support for complex animations by adding morph targets. Most 3D animations, beyond just moving, rotating, and scaling whole objects, are based on skeletal animations. This method works by binding vertexes to bones, and moving, rotating, and scaling a hierarchy of joints. This works well for humans, animals, hinges, and other collections of joints and sockets, and it was already supported in glTF 1.0. Morph targets, on the other hand, allow the artist to directly control individual vertices between defined states. This is often demonstrated with a facial animation, interpolating between smiles and frowns, but, in an actual game, this is often approximated with skeletal animations (for performance reasons). Regardless, glTF 2.0 now supports morph targets, too, letting the artists make the choice that best suits their content.

Speaking of performance, the Khronos Group is also promoting “enhanced performance” as a benefit of glTF 2.0. I asked whether they have anything to elaborate on, and they responded with a little story. While glTF 1.0 validators were being created, one of the engineers compiled a list of design choices that would lead to minor performance issues. The fixes for these were originally supposed to be embodied in a glTF 1.1 specification, but PBR workflows and Microsoft’s request to abstract the format away from GLSL lead to glTF 2.0, which is where the performance optimization finally ended up. Basically, there wasn’t just one or two changes that made a big impact; it was the result of many tiny changes that add up.

Also, the binary version of glTF is now a core feature in glTF 2.0.

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The slide looks at the potential future of glTF, after 2.0.

Looking forward, the Khronos Group has a few items on their glTF roadmap. These did not make glTF 2.0, but they are current topics for future versions. One potential addition is mesh compression, via the Google Draco team, to further decrease file size of 3D geometry. Another roadmap entry is progressive geometry streaming, via Fraunhofer SRC, which should speed up runtime performance.

Yet another roadmap entry is “Unified Compression Texture Format for Transmission”, specifically Basis by Binomial, for texture compression that remains as small as possible on the GPU. Graphics processors can only natively operate on a handful of formats, like DXT and ASTC, so textures need to be converted when they are loaded by an engine. Often, when a texture is loaded at runtime (rather than imported by the editor) it will be decompressed and left in that state on the GPU. Some engines, like Unity, have a runtime compress method that converts textures to DXT, but the developer needs to explicitly call it and the documentation says it’s lower quality than the algorithm used by the editor (although I haven’t tested this). Suffices to say, having a format that can circumvent all of that would be nice.

Again, if you’re interested in adding glTF 2.0 to your content pipeline, then get started. It’s ready. Microsoft is doing it, too.

Computex 2017: Phanteks Puts the Tower in Tower Style Cases With SFF Evolv Shift and Shift X

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 4, 2017 - 11:04 AM |
Tagged: water cooling, SFX-L, SFF, phanteks, mini ITX, htpc, evolv shift x, evolv shift

Phanteks Project 217 prototype case is finally official and will be known as the Evolv Shift and Evolv Shift X. Both are small form factor cases that feature a unique tower design that has the approximate footprint of a large graphics card, but manages to fit quite a bit of hardware inside by building up rather than out. The skyscraper style cases measure 6.7” wide and 10.63” deep. The Evplv Shift is the shorter of the two at 18.9” tall while the Evolv Shift X is 25.9”. The Mini ITX cases are constructed from a powder coated steel frame, aluminum cover panels, and tempered glass side panels.

Phanteks Evolv Shift and Evolv Shift X.png

HardwareCanucks shot video of the new SFF cases!

The Evolv Shift and Shift X both have black aluminum insides and a silver aluminum front panel. There are fam vents around the edges of the front panel and two USB 3.0 ports tucked away on the side. The top of the case covers the motherboard I/O and has a cutout in the back for routing the I/O cables out of the case - on the Shift X this piece is also aluminum but on the Shift it is plastic to cut costs. The two tempered glass side panels and front and back panels are held on by thumbscrews to allow for easy removal to work on the build. Being able to take all four sides off should make to easier to build in the small space.

Other case features include removable case feet that enables you to lay the case horizontally on one of its two sides (so you can show off the CPU side or GPU side), dust filters up front, and separation of the two front fans and compartments so that one can be an intake and the other exhaust if you wish. For such a small case there is quite a njt of cable management going o with rubber grommets and horizontal cable tracks (with a magnetic door for easy access) to hid away your cables and pass them from the PSU compartment to the motherboard compartment). Interestingly the GPU is mounted vertically and the bracket can be rotated and adjusted left and right so that you can choose to see the back of the graphics card or (finally!!) the front of the card with the artwork -- that’s right a case that lets you see and show off the stickers and cooler of your graphics card! (hehe, it has always irked me they put the artwork on the part of thr GPU you usually never see once it's in the case.)

Internally, the case is divided into two main areas with the power supply on bottom along with room for water cooling pumps and reservoirs and the motherboard, processor, and graphics cards stacked on top of the PSU area. The Evolv Shift and Evolv Shift X both support small form factor power supplies (SFX and SFX-L), Mini ITX motherboards, and even large graphics card thanks to the riser cable and vertical mounting. The larger Shift X can also hold ATX PSUs with the caveat that you have to give up the PSU shroud.

Cooling support includes air and water coolers with up to three 120mm or 140mm fans up front and one 120mm or 140mm fan in the bottom. The case will come with two 140mm fans out of the box.

As far as storage is concerned the case had room for two 2.5” drives and either one 3.5” drive on the Shift or two 3.5” drives on the Shift X.

Oh, and there is also an included RGB controller if you want to add a bit of bling to your dual windowed skyscraper PC.

The Evolv Shift and Evolv Shift X are coming later this year for $110 and $160 respectively.

These look to be very unique cases that will look good on a desk or even in the living room as a home theater PC. I am looking forward to the reviews on these as I am curious how well the case can keep high end components cool and how easy they are to build a system in.

Computex 2017: BitFenix Shows Off Affordable Mid-Tower With RGB and Tempered Glass

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 3, 2017 - 11:16 PM |
Tagged: computex, bitfenix, mid tower, E-ATX Case, RGB LED, gaming, tempered glass

BitFenix had several new PC cases on display at its Computex booth, but the one that caught my eye was the sub-$100 Enso mid-tower that has some premium features including a large tempered glass side panel, RGB LED and fan controllers, removable filters, and various cable management features. The BitFenix Enso has a clean design that out of the box limits the RGB to a nice looking front panel while allowing enthusiasts to go crazy with aftermarket LED strips and LED fans if they wish.

BitFenix Enso Mid-Tower.jpg

The BitFenix Enso mid-tower (Image credit: KitGuru)

The new Enso chassis measures 8.2" x 19.2" x 14.4" (209 x 487 x 442mm).and is clad in all black with clean lines and edges that strikes a balance between boxy and gaudy (heh). The front is a smooth panel that slightly angles out (no external drive support here) with RGB LEDs in all four corners. The front I/O is up top with two USB 3.0, two audio, and power and reset buttons. The left side is almost entirely comprised of a tempered glass side panel that is held on by black thumbscrews.

The top has a mesh grill with support for two 120mm fans along with a removable magnetic fan filter. There is also room for a 120mm fan in the back and two 120mm fans up front (where there is also a removable filter that pulls out from the left side of the front panel). There is not enough room up top for a water cooling radiator up top, but there is plenty of room for up to a 240mm radiator in the front.

The bottom of the case has a compartment for the bottom mounted up to 220mm power supply (which also has a removable dust filter) and two 3.5” drives along with space to hide excess cables. This area is covered by a simple black shroud that should make cable management easier.

Dropping support for external drive bays and extra 3.5” bays, BitFenix is able to support E-ATX motherboards, long graphics cards (up to 320mm, their demo used an Asus Strix GTX 1080), and water cooling radiators in a compact mid-tower case. BitFenix states it is possible to mount a 360mm radiator in the front, but it the specifications suggest if you would be limited to two fans with matching vents.

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Lots of tie downs and space to hide cables! (Image credit: Bitwit Kyle)

The right side panel is blank, and removing it reveals the back of the motherboard tray. There is room for three 2.5” SSDs with one behind the motherboard and two behind the front fans. The motherboard tray has a large CPU cutout, lots of spots to tie up cables, and rubber grommets for passing cables through to the motherboard and graphics card. Having move of the components sitting behind the motherboard tray means that making a clean looking build will be a bit easier (no drive power cables to hide).

The front panel RGB LEDs are “addressable” which is to say that they can be controlled via the controller at the back or via software where BitFenix is working with Asus to allow its RGB LEDs to be controlled with its Aurora software. There is also a fan controller that looks to accept PWM and control 3-pin fans from that signal. The case is also compatible with LED fans and LEDs strips (the BitFenix demo used strips from Asus that could be controlled with the Asus software). As far as the front panel, you can choose a color or activate a gentle pulsing color change mode that cycles through the colors of the rainbow.

BitFenix Enso Showcase.png

(Image credit: Bitwit Kyle)

Out of the box, the BitFenix Enso will have the front panel LEDs and controllers, but users will need to purchase fans and/or LED strips separately. This is not necessarily bad news though because it allows enthusiasts to pick the fans and LEDs they want (or don’t want), and it also allows the case to hit the budget sub-$100 market with lots of nice DIY-friendly features.

According to a BitFenix representative, the BitFenix Enso will arrive around the end of Q3 2017 or towards the beginning of Q4 with an MSRP of $79.

It looks like an impressive budget case, and if they can hit that $79 target it should be a great value that will let you show off your DIY build without breaking the bank! From the videos at Computex, I am really liking the design as well. What are your thoughts?

Source: Tech City

ASUS Shows Off Flagship ROG Zenith Extreme X399 Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | June 3, 2017 - 08:09 PM |
Tagged: X399, tr4, Threadripper, computex, ASUS ROG, asus, amd

Asus is showing off its flagship motherboard for the AMD X399 Threadripper platform at Computex this week, and it is quite the RGB laden beast. The Asus Republic of Gamers Zenith Extreme measures 12” x 10.9” and is powered by a 24-pin ATX, two 8-pin EPS12V, and a molex connector for extra PCI-E power. The power is conditioned by an 8+2 power phase for the CPU and both banks of DDR4 memory. Overclocking should not be an issue, and even appears to be encouraged with the inclusion of usual array of various ROG overclocking features (LN2 and overclocking buttons, an OLED readout, on board start and reset buttons, ect)

Asus X399 ROG Zenith Extreme.jpg

The top half of the board is dominated by the massive TR4 socket and the eight DIMM slots that surround it (128GB maximum). Above the CPU sits the power phases under a small aluminum heat spreader that has a heat pipe to connect it to the heasink above the rear IO connectors. The bottom half of the board holds four PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (x16/x8/x16/x8), one PCI-E 3.0 x1 slot, one PCI-E 3.0 x4 slot, one M.2 slot under the X399 chipset heatsink, one U.2 connector, and six SATA 6Gbps ports. There is also a riser board by the rightmost DIMM slot that reportedly holds two M.2 22110 connectors.

Networking support includes Intel I211-AT Gigabit Ethernet, ROG 10 Gigabit Ethernet, and 802.11AD Wi-Fi. Further, the Zenith Extreme features SupremeFX audio (S1220 codec and ESS901BQ2C DAQ). Fans of RGB will be happy to see Asus is using RGB LEDs on the I/O and chipset heatsinks as well as a configurable OLED display on the I/O heatsink.

Rear I/O includes two USB 2.0, 12 USB 3.1 Gen 1, two USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps, one Type-A and one Type-C), and six audio ports. There are also external antenna connectors for the built-in Wi-Fi.

This is one monster of a motherboard, and it should allow users to take full advantage of AMD’s Threadripper processor. Unfortunately, there is no word on exact pricing or availability beyond that it is expected sometime in August following the estimated launch date of Threadripper.

Computex 2017: Lian-Li Launching AIO Liquid Coolers With Raw Copper Radiators

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 3, 2017 - 06:01 PM |
Tagged: water cooling, Lian-Li, LCS, copper radiator, copper, computex, cinsys, AIO

Guru3D made an interesting find at Lian-Li's Computex booth this year where they managed to take photos of a new all in one (AIO) liquid cooler that sports an all copper loop. Specifically, the company was showing off a new Lian-Li branded liquid cooler from Cinsys with a 240mm radiator. The "X-R240 Expandable water cooling heat radiating system" features a raw copper radiator surrounded by a metal shroud (reportedly aluminum) that houses 120mm fan mounts and a pump, large removable tubing, and a thin nickel plated copper CPU water block.

Lian-Li 240mm AIO Copper Cooler.jpg

Lian-Li X-R240 expandable water cooler. (Image credit: Guru3D)

Looking at the photos from Guru3D, the Lian-Li X-R240 AIO certainly looks classy and should perform fairly well with the copper block and copper radiator (which is nice to see in an AIO where aluminum is common). The large tubing appears to be fairly long enabling the radiator to be placed up to or in the front of a mid-tower case, though I am curious how flexible it will be in a smaller case in tight quarters (if I am remembering my watercooling correctly, the larger diameter should mean it will be less likely to kink though). Further, it looks like the tubing is removable and users will be able to expand the loop to add additional blocks and/or radiators which is nice though you should be careful to avoid adding non-copper (aluminum/silver/ect) components to the Lian-Li loop. Angled and/or swivel barbs on the CPU blocks would have been nice as well since the straight barbs on the thin CPU block could make installation more difficult.

The raw copper is a nice aesthetic touch, though once it is installed in your case and sitting behind fans it is going to be hard to see and Guru3D does note that over time the copper will oxidize and discolor. Still, it might be useful for modders to get that steam punk look and feel. Thankfully it looks like there is plastic (and maybe foam) separating the copper radiator from the aluminum shell/shroud though it's less of an issue since the outside of the radiator isn't going to be submerged in water (hopefully!).

The company will reportedly be releasing other models beyond the 240mm shown at Computex presumably by the same OEM (Cinsys). A 360mm radiator and some GPU blocks would be nice to see! Hopefully Morry or Sebastian can get one in for testing soon!

What are your thoughts on Lian-Li using raw copper? Do you prefer plated copper?

Source: Guru3D

ASRock's Fatal1ty X370 Gaming-ITX/ac Mini ITX Motherboard for Ryzen Coming Soon

Subject: Motherboards | June 3, 2017 - 02:50 PM |
Tagged: SFF, ryzen, mini ITX, computex, asrock, amd, AM4

ASRock officially announced the Fatal1ty X370 Gaming-ITX/ac Mini ITXmotherboard at Computex. With the AMD AM4 socket and X370 chipset, the motherboard is ready for a Ryzen processor or Bristol Ridge APU (though at this point, it might be prudent to wait for Raven Ridge).

ASRock Fatal1ty X370 Gaming ITXac.jpg

The new motherboard is powered by a 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connector that drives a digital eight phase VRM setup. The AM4 CPU socket is surrounded by two DDR4 DIMM slots, a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, and four SATA 6Gbps ports. There is also one Ultra M.2 (PCI-E 3.0 x4) slot for solid state drives. ASRock includes 7.1 channel (Realtek ALC 1220) audio along with Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet. There is also support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.3 with two external antenna connectors on the back panel.

Speaking of rear I/O, the Fatal1ty X370 Gaming-ITX/ac includes:

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x HDMI
  • 3 x USB 3.0 Type-A
  • 1 x USB 3.0 Type-C
  • 5 x Analog audio
  • 1 x S/PDIF
  • 2 x Wi-Fi antennas

Small form factor enthusiasts have been waiting for this board for awhile since it was first teased. Fortunately, they will not have long to wait with several websites reporting from Computex that the new Mini ITX motherboard will be available within the month for around $160 MSRP. (There is reportedly also going to be a B350-based variant which may come in a bit cheaper.)

I am looking forward to the reviews on this one! Are you planning a SFF Ryzen build?

Also read:

Source: ASRock

ASUS Republic of Gamers Announces Strix X370-F Gaming and Strix B350-F Gaming

Subject: Motherboards | June 2, 2017 - 06:20 PM |
Tagged: x370, Strix X370-F Gaming, Strix B350-F Gaming, ryzen, b350, asus, amd

ASUS just announced two new members of their Strix motherboard series for AMD's Ryzen, the Strix X370-F Gaming and Strix B350-F Gaming.

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The boards offer similar features, they support up to 64GB of DDR4-3200 in their four DIMM slots and offer ROG SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC S1220A with two headphone jacks.  You will find four USB 3.1 ports on the back panels along with HDMI 1.4b and DP 1.2 out and an Intel I211-AT powered gigabit NIC.  Storage options do vary, both have an M.2 slot however the X370 has twice as many SATA ports, eight to the B350's four. 

370.jpg

The Strix X370-F Gaming

Depending on which model you choose you could have up to three PCIe 3.0 16x slots, one capped at 8x along with support for Crossfire and SLI.  The slots are branded as SafeSlots which are made using an injection molding process that integrates metal framing to support todays monstrous GPUs. 

Those who want their system to stand out can take advantage of the AURA Sync RGB lighting and 3D printer friendly heat shields to make their build unique.  You can compare the boards directly at ASUS and check out the PR just below.

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The Strix B350-F Gaming

Fremont, CA (June 2, 2017) -- — Since its release back in April, AMD’s Ryzen platform has quickly established itself as a viable option, delivering exemplary performance for daily computing and gaming. ASUS was ready for the early unveil, releasing an array of motherboards for value-packed PCs to models geared for high-end rigs. However, pressing demand for Ryzen-based systems shows a need for more options in the middle of the ASUS product stack. So today, we’re bolstering our portfolio with two new AM4 motherboards aimed squarely at gamers who wish to utilize Ryzen performance in their next PC build.

Based on the latest AMD X370 and B350 chipsets, the ATX-sized Strix X370-F and Strix B350-F include all the core ROG enhancements that make system setup a breeze, while offering performance that stands out from the crowd. To read more about these motherboards, please visit ASUS ROG. ROG B350-F Motherboard

AVAILABILITY
ASUS ROG Strix X370-F Gaming and Strix B350-F Gaming Motherboards will be available in early June at leading resellers in North America.

 

Source: ASUS

NVIDIA SHIELD TV Update 5.2 adds TV Tuners, NAS write capability

Subject: General Tech | June 2, 2017 - 04:55 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, shield, SHIELD TV, plex, plex pass

Yesterday I posted a news blurb about the update to Plex that brought Live TV viewing and an enhanced DVR capability to the widely used and very popular media software package. In that story I mentioned that the NVIDIA SHIELD (and all Android TV systems) were among the first of the roll out, capable of both serving Live TV but also streaming and viewing it. Yes, the NVIDIA SHIELD continues to be one of the most interesting parts of the cord cutting economy, with a balance of hardware performance, software improvements, and cost.

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Along with the Plex software update, NVIDIA has its own update pushing out starting yesterday, Experience Upgrade 5.2, starting with the SHIELD Preview Program members. This update brings a couple of important changes that make the Plex Live TV rollout much more interesting. First, the SHIELD now has support for a wider array of TV tuners, including direct attached USB TV tuners. Here is the updated list of supported hardware:

  • HDHomeRun Network Tuners:
    • Connect – Dual tuner, Base model
    • Extend – Dual tuner, Converts MPEG2 to H.264 for lower bandwidth and size requirements
    • Prime – Requires cable subscription and a CableCARD
  • Hauppauge Dual USB Tuners:
    • WinTV-dual HD 1595 (NTSC) – US/Canada
    • WinTV-dual HD 1590 (DVB-T/T2) – UK/EU
  • Single USB Tuners – Not recommended due to single tuner capability
    • AVerMedia AVerTV Volar Hybrid Q (H837) for US/Canada

NVIDIA claims there are more tuners on the way soon, so we’ll keep an eye out on the updates.

The second update allows SHIELD to write to network attached storage devices (NAS). Previously, the Android TV box could only mount them as read-only partitions, even in Plex, making them useless for recording live TV via the Plex DVR. With the 5.2 release you can now direct write to NAS hardware, allowing the SHIELD to store copies of recorded TV shows and movies in a location that makes sense. If you have a non-hard drive SHIELD unit, this is a great feature, and even if you have the 500GB model, this easily expands usable storage with hardware you may already own.

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Also as a part of the update are more general tweaks and improvements including “network storage directory and connectivity enhancements, Wi-Fi performance improvements, and experience enhancements for SHIELD remote and SHIELD controller.”

NVIDIA is celebrating the release of this Plex update by offering a 6-month Plex Pass subscription as a part of the deal if you buy a new SHIELD TV. That’s a $30 value, but a Plex Pass is a requirement to take advantage of Live TV. For users that already own the SHIELD, you’ll have to shell out the $5/mo for the premium Plex offering (worth it for sure in my view) to try out the live TV feature.

Source: NVIDIA

Computex 2017: ASRock Launching H110 Pro BTC+ Motherboard With 13 PCI-E Slots

Subject: General Tech | June 2, 2017 - 04:02 PM |
Tagged: asrock, H110, Skylake, bitcoin, cryptocurrency, mining, storj, computex, computex 2017

ASRock showed off an upcoming motherboard at Computex that features 13 PCI-Express slots and is aimed squarely at crypto currency miners. The new H110 Pro BTC+ is an ATX board based on Intel’s H110 chipset and LGA 1151 socket (Skylake CPUs). The board is dominated by 12 PCI-E x1 slots and a single PCI-E x16 slot (I suppose for mounting a SAS card and Burst mining or running Storj heh), but it also has slots for two DDR4 DIMMs, a single M.2 port, and four SATA ports. The board also supports Intel Gigabit Ethernet, ELNA audio, USB 3.0 and DVI and HDMI video outputs for the Intel iGPU.

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The upcoming board is powered by a 24 pin ATX, 8 pin EPS, and two Molex connectors for the PCI-E slots. The H110 Pro BTC+ appears to have a decent power phase setup for an H110 motherboard as well. ASRock showed off the motherboard running eight GPUs on Windows at Computex, though with Linux it is possible go beyond that and run all 13 GPUs. The H110 chipset does mean that miners would need to spend money on a newer CPU and DDR4 memory, but they would save money by buying fewer motherboards and/or port multipliers.

Exact specifications along with pricing and availability are still unknown, but expect the mining crowd to jump on this so if you are interested in it be sure to set up email alerts for when it will become available so that you can get in before the miners make it go out of stock everywhere like the RX 580s! (heh)

Source: ASRock

51 flavours of Radeon to choose from

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 2, 2017 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: amd, radeon, linux

When Phoronix does a performance round up they do not mess around.  Their latest look at the performance of AMD cards on Linux stretches all the way back to the HD 2900XT and encompasses almost every single GPU released between that part and the RX 580, with a pair of Firepro cards and the Fury included as well.  For comparative performance numbers you will see 28 NVIDIA cards on these charts, which makes the charts some of the longest you have seen.  Drop by to check out the state of AMD performance on Linux in a variety of games as well as synthetic benchmarks.

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"It's that time of the year where we see how the open-source AMD Linux graphics driver stack is working on past and present hardware in a large GPU comparison with various OpenGL games and workloads. This year we go from the new Radeon RX 580 all the way back to the Radeon HD 2900XT, looking at how the mature Radeon DRM kernel driver and R600 Gallium3D driver is working for aging ATI/AMD graphics hardware. In total there were 51 graphics cards tested for this comparison of Radeon cards as well as NVIDIA GeForce hardware for reference."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

 

Source: Phoronix

Windows 10, the Snapdragon 835 and its X16 LTE buddy

Subject: General Tech | June 2, 2017 - 12:54 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, snapdragon 835, x16 LTE

The Register has heard the names of the three vendors that Qualcomm will tap to produce Win10 machines running on their chips.  The winners are as expected, Lenovo, HP and ASUS will be licensed to sell these mysterious low powered and extremely mobile devices.  Unfortunately that is pretty much all we know, there were no dates nor models announced by Qualcomm or its new partners.  We can certainly speculate that these devices will be as thin as the battery will allow, the cooling solution for a Snapdragon can be extremely compact, assume that you will not see any wired NICs as the RJ-45 jack would be thicker than the device.  We should be able to assume their will be a headphone jack at least.

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"The chipmaker says the three vendors will be making PCs that will sport its Snapdragon 835 SoC (system-on-chip) and its X16 LTE chipset for wireless broadband connectivity. Qualcomm says all of the models will be fanless and will offer all-day battery life."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Introduction, How PCM Works, Reading, Writing, and Tweaks

I’ve seen a bit of flawed logic floating around related to discussions about 3D XPoint technology. Some are directly comparing the cost per die to NAND flash (you can’t - 3D XPoint likely has fewer fab steps than NAND - especially when compared with 3D NAND). Others are repeating a bunch of terminology and element names without taking the time to actually explain how it works, and far too many folks out there can't even pronounce it correctly (it's spoken 'cross-point'). My plan is to address as much of the confusion as I can with this article, and I hope you walk away understanding how XPoint and its underlying technologies (most likely) work. While we do not have absolute confirmation of the precise material compositions, there is a significant amount of evidence pointing to one particular set of technologies. With Optane Memory now out in the wild and purchasable by folks wielding electron microscopes and mass spectrometers, I have seen enough additional information come across to assume XPoint is, in fact, PCM based.

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XPoint memory. Note the shape of the cell/selector structure. This will be significant later.

While we were initially told at the XPoint announcement event Q&A that the technology was not phase change based, there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and it is likely that Intel did not want to let the cat out of the bag too early. The funny thing about that is that both Intel and Micron were briefing on PCM-based memory developments five years earlier, and nearly everything about those briefings lines up perfectly with what appears to have ended up in the XPoint that we have today.

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Some die-level performance characteristics of various memory types. source

The above figures were sourced from a 2011 paper and may be a bit dated, but they do a good job putting some actual numbers with the die-level performance of the various solid state memory technologies. We can also see where the ~1000x speed and ~1000x endurance comparisons with XPoint to NAND Flash came from. Now, of course, those performance characteristics do not directly translate to the performance of a complete SSD package containing those dies. Controller overhead and management must take their respective cuts, as is shown with the performance of the first generation XPoint SSD we saw come out of Intel:

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The ‘bridging the gap’ Latency Percentile graph from our Intel SSD DC P4800X review.
(The P4800X comes in at 10us above).

There have been a few very vocal folks out there chanting 'not good enough', without the basic understanding that the first publicly available iteration of a new technology never represents its ultimate performance capabilities. It took NAND flash decades to make it into usable SSDs, and another decade before climbing to the performance levels we enjoy today. Time will tell if this holds true for XPoint, but given Micron's demos and our own observed performance of Intel's P4800X and Optane Memory SSDs, I'd argue that it is most certainly off to a good start!

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A 3D XPoint die, submitted for your viewing pleasure (click for larger version).

You want to know how this stuff works, right? Read on to find out!

Imagination PowerVR Ray Tracing with UE4 & Vulkan Demo

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | June 2, 2017 - 02:23 AM |
Tagged: Imagination Technologies, PowerVR, ray tracing, ue4, vulkan

Imagination Technologies has published another video that demonstrates ray tracing with their PowerVR Wizard GPU. The test system, today, is a development card that is running on Ubuntu, and powering Unreal Engine 4. Specifically, it is using UE4’s Vulkan renderer.

The demo highlights two major advantages of ray traced images. The first is that, rather than applying a baked cubemap with screen-space reflections to simulate metallic objects, this demo calculates reflections with secondary rays. From there, it’s just a matter of hooking up the gathered information into the parameters that the shader requires and doing the calculations.

The second advantage is that it can do arbitrary lens effects, like distortion and equirectangular, 360 projections. Rasterization, which projects 3D world coordinates into 2D coordinates on a screen, assumes that edges are still straight, and that causes problems as FoV gets very large, especially full circle. Imagination Technologies acknowledges that workarounds exist, like breaking up the render into six faces of a cube, but the best approximation is casting a ray per pixel and seeing what it hits.

The demo was originally for GDC 2017, back in February, but the videos have just been released.

OneLogin Reports Breach in Security

Subject: General Tech | June 2, 2017 - 01:50 AM |
Tagged: onelogin, security

If you use OneLogin to manage your passwords, then you will want to check your email, which I’m assuming is they way they’ll contact customers, and see if they have any advice. (Although, now that the attack is public, be careful of spoof emails.) The password management company was recently accessed by a malicious entity, and data was copied. OneLogin claims that they encrypt sensitive data, however they also state that it’s possible the intruder also gained access to the ability to decrypt it, but they also may not have.

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The attack occurred on their US-based Amazon Web Services (AWS) instance. Apparently, OneLogin noticed several servers being created without authorization, so they considered those API keys compromised and shut down the servers.

There’s not much else to report at the moment. Check out the OneLogin blog to see what they find out as they find it out.

Source: OneLogin

Computex 2017: Be Quiet Launches Two SFX-L Power Supplies

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 1, 2017 - 10:38 PM |
Tagged: SFX-L, SFF, High Power, computex, be quiet!, 80+ gold

German PSU maker be quiet! Had several new power supplies on display at Computex. Perhaps the most interesting for small form factor enthusiasts are the two new SFX-L power supplies. The aptly named SFX-L-500W and SFX-L-600W are fully modular 80+ Gold rated power supplies that are not much bigger than the 120mm temperature controlled fan that cools it.

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SFFNetwork examined the new PSUs at Computex.

According to AnandTech, be quiet! Is using High Power as the OEM for these power supplies rather than its usual partner FSP. The High Power platform offers up a single 12V rail design that supports multi GPU setups with the inclusion of 4 PCI-E power connectors. At least on the 600W variant (not sure on the 500W) the PSU is rated at 50A on the 12-volt rail, which is nice to see. The fan does not support spinning down to zero when under light load, but it does spin down to lower RPMs and has a temperature controlled fan curve that be quiet! claims is sufficient for even noise sensitive applications like HTPCs (hopefully Lee gets his hands on these soon and can confirm the advertised specs).

Both of the new small form factor (SFF) power supplies come with a three-year warranty which seems to be pretty standard for power supplies these days though five would be nice to see especially when they are going to be going into tiny cases with less airflow than the traditional ATX desktop. Speaking of ATX, the SFX-L PSUs come with an adapter that will allow you to install the SFF unit into a standard ATX power supply mount should you want to use it in a larger case.

The 500W and 600W PSUs have US MSRPs of $109 and $129 respectively.                                  

Source: SFF Network