CES 2017: NVIDIA Announces New SHIELD TV Media Streamer

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2017 - 04:25 AM |
Tagged: UHD, streaming box, SHIELD TV, nvidia, media server, hdr, gaming, controller, CES 2017, CES

NVIDIA has announced the newly redesigned SHIELD TV with the promise of higher performance and enhanced functionality from the Android-powered media streamer. In addition to the updated industrial design the new SHIELD TV ships with a game controller in addition to a remote, adding value to what NVIDIA is calling "the world's most advanced streamer".

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NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang on stage to introduce the new SHIELD TV

NVIDIA is citing "major improvements" to the new version of the SHIELD TV in the following areas:

Highest Performance, 4K HDR Media Streamer – SHIELD delivers the richest visual experience with support for 4K HDR and 3x the performance of any other streamer on the market. With Amazon Video in 4K HDR, SHIELD offers the largest, most open catalog of media in stunning 4K – also supporting Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movie and VUDU. YouTube’s flagship TV app will also be available for SHIELD in the coming months, delivering immersive, 360-degree viewing experiences.

Amazing Games – SHIELD stands alone among media streamers, with the widest range of gaming capabilities and richest assortment of game content. GeForce NOW has been upgraded with Pascal performance and will soon add Ubisoft’s catalog of hits, including Watch Dogs 2, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, For Honor and countless others. Upcoming native game releases include The Witness, Tomb Raider and Shadowgun Legends.

AI in the Home – SHIELD is the first streamer to announce support of Google Assistant, optimized for TV and 100% hands-free. Coming soon, SmartThings Hub technology integration will instantly turn SHIELD into a smart home hub that can connect to hundreds of smart home devices. NVIDIA SPOT, an AI mic accessory makes SHIELD the central backbone of the AI home, extending intelligent control throughout the house.

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NVIDIA has stated that the features announced for the new SHIELD TV will come to existing SHIELD devices via an over-the-air update this month; though the new hands-free commands will require the updated SHIELD controller (now bundled with the new SHIELD TV), which will be sold separately.

Pre-orders for the new SHIELD TV are now available with units shipping later in January. There will be two configurations, with the SHIELD TV media streamer, which includes a game controller and remote, priced at $199; and the SHIELD Pro home media server, which comes with a controller, remote with headset jack, and 500GB of on-board storage, priced at $299.

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Full press release after the break.

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!

Source: NVIDIA

Phison Announces UFS 2.1 NAND Controller - Death to eMMC!

Subject: Storage | December 22, 2016 - 09:03 PM |
Tagged: UFS 2.1, UFS, PS8313, PS8311, phison, nand, flash, controller

Following up on Micron's UFS 2.1 announcement, Phison has announced the launch of their own PS8311 UFS 2.1 controller:

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For those unaware, UFS 2.1 is a much-anticipated replacement for eMMC, which is the equivalent of trying to run your laptop OS off of an SD Card. Fortunately, eMMC only appears in budget systems, but the transition to UFS 2.1 should bring the storage performance bar up considerably in those systems.

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UFS Architecture Overview. Source: JEDEC

Devices following the Universal Flash Storage standard will enable less protocol overhead and more direct communication with the flash.

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Looking at an older roadmap, we see Phison was relatively on target with the PS8311, with a faster PS8313 scheduled for later in 2017.

Press blast after the break.

Source: Phison

Rivet Networks Announces Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet Controller

Subject: Networking | September 15, 2016 - 08:42 PM |
Tagged: Rivet Networks, NiC, networking, Killer Networking, Killer E2500, Ethernet, controller

Rivet Networks have announced the new Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet controller, and they are partnering with MSI and GIGABYTE to bring the new controller to consumer gaming motherboards.

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“The Killer E2500 delivers powerful networking technology to gamers and performance users, including significant new enhancements to its Advanced Stream Detect 2.0 Technology and the all new Killer Control Center. In addition to detecting and optimally prioritizing your games, video, and voice applications with Advanced Stream Detect 2.0 Technology, the Killer E2500 also detects and manages 500+ of the top global websites.”

The networking performance is said to be improved considerably with the new controller and software, with "Lag and Latency Reduction Technology":

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“Through its patented technology, Killer is able to get network packets to your applications and web browsers up to 25% faster than the competition during single application usage, and potentially by more than 10x faster when multitasking.”

As I quickly realized when reviewing the Killer Wireless-AC 1535 last year, the software is just as important as the hardware with a Killer adapter. For the new E2500, the Killer Control Center has been re-designed, to provide “users full control of all aspects of their system’s networking performance”.

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Rivet Networks describes the functionality of this Killer Control Center software, which allows users to control:

  • The priority of each application and popular website
  • The bandwidth used by each application and popular website
  • The Killer interface that each application is going over
  • The total bandwidth being used by system

I found that enabling the Killer Software bandwidth management to significantly affect latency when gaming (which you can see here, again revisiting the AC 1535 review), and Rivet Networks is confident that this new system will offer even better performance. We’ll know exactly how this new controller and software performs once we have one of the new motherboards featuring this E2500 controller onboard.

FMS 2015: Silicon Motion SM2260 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe Controller Spotted

Subject: Storage | August 14, 2015 - 08:44 PM |
Tagged: FMS 2015, silicon motion, SM2260, SM2256, SM2246EN, pcie, NVMe, ssd, controller

We’ve reviewed a few Silicon Motion SSDs in the past (Angelbird | Corsair Force LX | Crucial BX100), and I have always been impressed with their advances in SSD controller technology. Their SM2246EN SATA controller was launched two years ago, and strived to be a very efficient and performant unit. Based on our reviews that turned out to be true, and this allowed Silicon Motion to slide into the void left by SandForce, who repeatedly delayed their newer developments and forced the many companies who were sourcing their parts to look elsewhere.

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The many SSDs using Silicon Motion’s SM2246EN controller.

Silicon motion pushed this further with their SM2256, which we first saw at the 2014 Flash Memory Summit and later saw driving SLC/TLC hybrid flash at this past Consumer Electronics Show. While the SM2256 makes its way into more and more products, I was glad to see an important addition to their lineup at this year’s FMS:

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Finally we see Silicon Motion doing a PCIe controller! This is the SM2260, seen here in the M.2 form factor…

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…and here in SATA Express. While the latter will likely not be as popular due to the more limited PCIe lanes present in SATA Express, I’m sure we will see this controller appearing in many PCIe devices very soon. The stated performance figures may be a bit shy of currently comparing SSDs like the Intel SSD 750 and Samsung SM951, but with the recent introduction of Z170 motherboards and RST PCIe RAID, it is now easier to RAID a smaller capacity pair of these devices, increasing the performance of slower units. Further, the point of the SM2260 is likely to get a low cost NVMe PCIe SSD controller into the hands of SSD makers, which can only mean good things for those looking to make the move away from SATA.

I’ve included Silicon Motion’s FMS press blast after the break.

Microsoft Announces Xbox One Elite Controller for Windows 10

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 18, 2015 - 02:24 AM |
Tagged: xbox one, xbox, Steam Controller, microsoft, E3 2015, E3 15, E3, controller

And, of course, Xbox One... but I can assume who is the bulk of my audience.

Microsoft announced the Xbox One Elite Controller at E3, which includes support for Windows 10. This is part of their initiative to amend relations with the PC gaming industry. They seem to be going about it by focusing on the high-end gamer first. If not, then I wonder why they chose a $150 controller as a leading product.

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At that price, you could literally purchase three Steam Controllers from Valve instead of a single one of these, but whether you should... depends. In all honesty, I might end up purchasing both and doing a comparison between them over a variety of games. Of course, my primary input device is the mouse and keyboard for most games, but I occasionally add an early model Xbox 360 wired controller to the mix for Saint's Row, Grand Theft Auto, NASCAR 2003, and a few other titles.

The real disappointment is its D-Pad, though. It just cannot reliably send a single direction without sometimes accidentally sending others. This gets worse in games that are styled in the “8-bit” and “16-bit” era. I actually need to play most of those on a keyboard, which is a terrible experience. Valve's implementation looks interesting with the cross-shaped thumbpad, but Microsoft's new version has options: an old-fashioned cross as well as a nine-sectioned cup, called a “faceted D-pad”.

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That leads into the main design of Microsoft's controller: customization. Two switches on the back of the controller allow the range of trigger motion to be limited on the fly. This is designed for games like Grand Theft Auto, where the player wants precise control over throttle and brake, but would prefer to rapidly max-out the trigger as fast as possible when shooting a weapon. With this controller, you flip the switch when you leave the car and, what normally would be some fraction of its range, would be considered “bottoming out” and it would apparently even physically stop the trigger from pushing in further. According to the website, the threshold is user-customizable. I did not use it personally because I wasn't at E3.

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Like Valve's controller, it has optional rear paddles near the grips. They are stainless steel apparently, and can be used to compensate for weird button combinations by mapping them to fingers that normally just clutch the device itself. In Valve's version, there is just two while Microsoft's allows for up to four. Microsoft also allows you to detach them, rather than just disable them.

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This is when we get to software customization. Valve claims that the Steam Controller can be bound to many events across mouse, keyboard, and gamepad buttons and axises. Microsoft, on the other hand, seems to be keeping within the range of buttons found on a standard Xbox One controller. This is concerning to me because it means that extended inputs will be redundant, which is fine for an Xbox One game but could be annoying for a PC title that has many independent, simpler commands. This might be a limitation of XINPUT, which supposedly cannot address more than 10 buttons. I thought I remembered that limit being extended, but that seems to be true even in the MSDN documentation. Even still, the driver could address the extra functions as a secondary virtual device (keyboards, etc.) but Microsoft doesn't seem to want to. As a final note, Valve also allows the end of both triggers to be considered a clicky button, while Microsoft just recognizes it as a bottomed-out axis.

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The Xbox One Elite Controller will ship in October for $149.99. A wireless adapter for the PC will not be required if you use the included USB Micro cable, but add that to the price if you want it wireless. Add batteries on top of that, because it takes AA. They include a pair of disposable AA, but that is obviously not a permanent solution.

GDC 15: Microsoft Announces Wireless Xbox Dongle for PC. Controller Refresh Rumored for E3?

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 6, 2015 - 08:57 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, xbox, microsoft, gdc 15, GDC, controller

During his keynote speech, Phil Spencer of Microsoft announced a wireless adapter for PC. It can apparently be used to connect any wireless Xbox One peripheral on Windows 10. If you watch the presentation, the statement occurred at about 36 minutes and 30 seconds in. It was just a brief acknowledgement of its existence this year.

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This is the Xbox 360 wireless accessory adapter. Image Credit: Wikipedia
Hopefully the new one will be a stick that pairs via software (vs. the cord and button).

A similar device existed for the Xbox 360, pictured above, and I used it heavily with controller-friendly games (until the adapter died abruptly). I was not a fan of the directional pad, of course, but the rest of the controller suited the games that I play without a mouse and keyboard. I also used the adapter with the Xbox 360 wireless headset, which was surprisingly good (especially at removing speaker noise).

On the same day, Neowin acquired a leak that claims the company is looking to create a new Xbox One controller. They expect that, if the project doesn't get killed internally, we will see the new controller at E3 2015 in June. The design is supposed to focus on first person shooters and driving titles, but nothing else is known about it. We'll see.

GDC 15: Valve's $49.99 Steam Controller Coming In November

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2015 - 06:54 AM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Controller, peripheral, gdc 2015, gdc 15, gaming, controller

Valve has given the elusive (vaporous? heh, I'll leave the good puns to Scott) Steam Controller a release date and several refinements to the design. Slated for a November 2015 launch, the Steam Controller will ship with most of the Steam Machines offered by OEMs. Users will also be able to purchase controllers directly from Valve (via Steam) for $49.99.

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The final controller features a curved design with lots of rounded edges (no sharp angles here), large handles and dual circular programmable trackpads. The four button d-pad has been replaced by an analog stick while the four A, B, X, and Y buttons sit where a second thumb stick traditionally resides.

A circular Steam button and two smaller buttons finish out the face controls.

The two large (and despite my impressions from photos apparently ergonomic) handles each host two dual stage (analog and/or digital) triggers on the top and a button on the underside of the controller.

The Steam Controller is powered by two replaceable AA batteries and is wireless.

Users will be able to create and save custom configurations to their Steam profiles as well as share those custom settings with other Steam users. This should make adoption a bit easier since you will be able to jump into games with a recommended configuration that other users report works well. Or at least it will be a better starting point for your own custom settings rather than being thrown to the wolves with a new and unfamiliar controller. I think it is going to take practice to get good at this even with the jumpstart on suggested configurations though.

It will be available in November (Steam Store page link) for $49.99 which is just cheap enough that I will likely pick one up just to try it out and see what the hype is about. If it is as comfortable as some writers (who have gotten hands on time with them at GDC) are claiming, I’m willing to give it a shot now that it includes a thumb stick (I think I need to be eased into this dual trackpad setup).

Engadget has several more photos from the GDC show floor that are worth checking out.

What do you think about the final Steam Controller?

Source: Valve

Microsoft Announces Wired Xbox One Controller for Windows

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | September 17, 2014 - 07:55 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, xbox, xbone, xbox one, controller, gamepad

A few months ago, Microsoft released 32- and 64-bit drivers for their Xbox One controller on Windows 7 and Windows 8. This was for wireless controllers attached by micro-USB to a PC. Now, Microsoft announced a new controller for Windows: the same controller, only bundled with the required cable. In fact, it can still connect wirelessly... to an Xbox One, not a PC.

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The bundle will cost $59.95 (MSRP) and be available starting in November. As far as I can tell, the PC cannot update the Xbox One Controller's firmware; for that, you apparently need an Xbox One handy. It is possible that Microsoft will implement this, or already has and no-one is talking about it, but you might want to hold off until we know for a fact. One update adjusts analog stick sensitivity; this could be important, especially if you have multiple controllers at different patch levels. Yes, some PC games allow local multiplayer.

What is your favourite summer rodent?

Subject: General Tech | August 26, 2014 - 09:22 PM |
Tagged: usb, peripherals, input, gaming mouse, gaming keyboard, controller

The Tech Report delves into their favourite peripherals available on the market in this article, covering displays, keyboards, mice and all the other goodies you can attach to your PC.  The brand new G-SYNC 1440p monitor from ASUS of course makes an appearance but there is much more covered than just your display.  A half dozen wired keyboards and three wireless ones made the grade along with a similar number of mice and even controllers are ranked to give you an informed choice about the current market.  They even delve into external audio and storage options so if you have a few unused USB ports head on over and see if you can't find something to fill them

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"In this second edition of the peripheral staff picks, we've reworked the display section with the latest 4K and G-Sync monitors in mind. We've also updated the other sections to account for price fluctuations, changes in product availability, and findings from our latest round of reviews. The result should be, we hope, a more informative and up-to-date resource for your back-to-school shopping needs."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

FMS 2014: Marvell announces new 88SS1093 PCIe SSD controller

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | August 6, 2014 - 07:03 PM |
Tagged: ssd, pcie, NVMe, Marvell, FMS 2014, FMS, controller, 88SS1093

Marvell is notorious for being the first to bring a 6Gb/sec SATA controller to market, and they continue to do very well in that area. Their very capable 88SS9189 controller powers the Crucial MX100 and M550, as well as the ADATA SP920.

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Today they have announced a newer controller, the 88SS1093. Despite the confusing numbering, the 88SS1093 has a PCIe 3.0 x4 host interface and will support the full NVMe protocol. The provided specs are on the light side, as performance of this controller will ultimately depend on the speed and parallelism of the attached flash, but its sure to be a decent performer. I suspect it would behave like their SATA part, only no longer bottlenecked by SATA 6Gb/sec speeds.

More to follow as I hope to see this controller in person on the exhibition hall (which opens to press in a few hours). Full press blast after the break.

*** Update ***

Apologies as there was no photo to be taken - Marvell had no booth at the exibition space at FMS.

Source: Marvell