Podcast #499 - Onyx Boox, BitFenix, and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 10, 2018 - 04:35 PM |
Tagged: podcast, velocity micro, qualcomm, Portal, Onyx Boox, nvidia, Netflix, microsoft, linux, K63, Intel, hyperx, google, evga, corsair, coolermaster, ChromeOS, bitfenix, arm, amd, 4k, video

PC Perspective Podcast #499 - 05/10/18

Join us this week for discussion on Onyx Boox, a slick BitFenix case, 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: Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Ken Addison,

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:01:13

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Picks of the Week:
    1. 0:47:40 Jeremy:Building a Ryzen on a budget eh?
    2. 0:50:10 Josh:I have issues.   We know
    3. 0:52:20 Allyn: System monitoring Gadgets. On Windows 10. Good ones.
  4. Closing/outro
 
Source:

Linux Mint Launching SFF MintBox Mini 2 and Mini 2 Pro PCs Running Linux Mint 19

Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2018 - 10:34 PM |
Tagged: SFF, linux mint, linux, j3455, Intel, fanless, atom, apollo lake

The Linux Mint development team recently announced the MintBox Mini 2 and MintBox Mini 2 Pro small form factor PCs which will ship with Linux Mint 19 this summer. The tiny passively cooled computers are based on Compulab’s Fitlet2 SFF barebones PC and comes in two flavors: the base Mini 2 with Intel Celeron J3455, 4GB DDR3L, and 64GB SATA SSD and the Mini 2 Pro with J3455 processor, 8GB RAM, and 120GB solid state drive. The MintBox Mini 2 PCs measure 4.4” x 3.3” x 1.3” and weighs approximately 12 ounces.

MintBox Mini 2 SFF Fanless PC.png

The SFF systems come in all black and feature a row of fins along the top of the case to assist in passively cooling the processor and other components (there is a heat transfer plate above the M.2 slot as well). The fins are larger than the previous MinitBox Mini and Compulab is rating the updated hardware at an improved temperature range of -40°C to 85°C. Enthusiasts will further be able to tweak the thermal throttle and thermal shutoff safeties.

The front of the MintBox Mini 2 features a Mint logo, two USB 3.0 ports, two audio jacks, a micro SD card slot, and two LEDs that are controlled by GPIO and can be user-programed. There are two WI-Fi antenna ports on the right side and around back there are two USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI 1.4, one mini DisplayPort 1.2, a proprietary COM port, power input jack, and two Intel i211 powered Gigabit Ethernet ports.

While the previous generation devices were AMD based, the MintBox Mini 2 and Mini 2 Pro are based around an Intel Celeron J3455 which is a 14nm Apollo Lake desktop processor with 10W TDP that features four cores clocked at 1.5 GHz base and up to 2.3 GHz boost with 2MB cache and HD Graphics 500. While the systems come configured with RAM and storage, users can swap that out for up to 16 GB of DDR3L (there is only one SO-DIMM slot) and a single SSD drive in the M.2 2260 slot (SATA 6 Gbps based). Wireless has been refreshed on the new models to include 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 which is a nice upgrade over the 802.11n wireless on the MintBox Mini and the 802.11ac+BT4.0 on the Mini Pro.

Linux Mint 19 MintBox Mini 2 Rear IO.png

Users can extend the functionality and add additional external I/O or even a 2.5” drive with FACET expansion cards (the 2.5” drive option also requires a different bottom cover that makes the PC taller). For example, there are FACET cards that can add an additional two Gigabit Ethernet ports with the ports coming out the left side of the PC or Power Over Ethernet (PoE) support which is reportedly in the works with a PoE FACET card slated for availability by the time the MintBox Mini 2 launches in June.

The compact and fan-less PC seems perfect for a router or IoT gateway as well as a handy tool for penetration testers and IT admins to troubleshoot and monitor networks. Its intended purpose is as a lower cost silent desktop or thin client for home users and Linux Mint fans.

The MintBox Mini 2 and MintBox Mini 2 Pro will be available in June pre-loaded with Linux Mint 19 for $299 and $349 respectively. The MintBox Mini 2 is based on the barebones Fitlet2 PC ($176) which comes sans memory or storage, so they do not seem like a bad deal especially considering a part of that premium you are paying for the MintBox is in the support and validation of compatibility with the Linux OS.

If you are curious about the state of the project and the hardware, the Mint developers have been answering questions and running benchmarks for people using an alpha build of the Mint OS in the comments section of this blog post.

Also read:

Source: Fanless Tech

Low budget gaming until the bitcoins go away

Subject: General Tech | January 24, 2018 - 02:36 PM |
Tagged: gaming, linux, nvidia, amd

With the current mining insanity driving GPU prices high enough it makes more financial sense to buy a gaming laptop or boutique system than to purchase a GPU on its own.  The alternative is to continue on with your current GPU, even if it is a bit long in the tooth.  Phoronix recently tested a battery of AMD and NVIDIA cards, focusing on older or less powerful models to see what kind of gaming performance they are capable of.  The switch to Linux makes sense as Microsoft is beginning to refuse to recognize older GPUs and blocking the installation of the older drivers they require.  You will have to turn down your graphics settings to reach playable FPS but there are titles out there you can still enjoy at 1080p.

image.php_.jpg

"A request came in this week to look at how low-end and older graphics cards are performing with current generation Linux games on OpenGL and Vulkan. With ten older/lower-end NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards, here is a look at their performance with a variety of native Linux games atop Ubuntu using the latest Radeon and NVIDIA drivers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Phoronix

Gaming in isolation, complete Meltdown or not?

Subject: Processors | January 8, 2018 - 07:24 PM |
Tagged: meltdown, security, linux, nvidia

Thanks to a wee tech conference going on, performing a wide gamut of testing of the effect of the Meltdown patch is taking some time.  Al has performed benchmarks focusing on the performance impact the patch has on your storage subsystem, which proved to be very minimal.  Phoronix are continuing their Linux testing, the latest of which focuses on the impact the patch has on NVIDIA GPUs, specifically the GTX 1060 and GTX 1080 Ti.  The performance delta they see falls within measurement error levels; in other words there is no measurable impact after the patch was installed.  For now it seems the most impact this patch has is for scientific applications and hosting providers which use select high I/O workloads and large amounts of virtual machines.  For now the cure to Meltdown is nowhere near as bad as what it protects against for most users ... pity the same cannot be said for Spectre.

image.php_.jpg

"Earlier this week when news was still emerging on the "Intel CPU bug" now known as Spectre and Meltdown I ran some Radeon gaming tests with the preliminary Linux kernel patches providing Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI) support. Contrary to the hysteria, the gaming performance was minimally impacted with those open-source Radeon driver tests while today are some tests using the latest NVIDIA driver paired with a KPTI-enabled kernel."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: Phoronix

Pardon the system interruption, more on the effects of the PTI patch

Subject: Processors | January 4, 2018 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: linux, spectre, meltdown, Intel

As the Linux patch for the Intel kernel issue is somewhat more mature than the Windows patch which was just pushed out, and because the patch may have more impact on hosting solutions than gaming machines, we turn to Phoronix for test results.  Their testing overview looks at both Intel and AMD, as the PTI patch can be installed on AMD systems and it is not a bad idea to do so.  The results are somewhat encouraging, CPUs with PCID (Process Context ID) such as Sandy Bridge and newer seem to see little effect from the patch, network performance seems unchanged and Xeon's see far less of an effect across the board than desktop machines.  That is not to say there is no impact whatsoever, in synthetic benchmarks which make frequent system calls or depend on optimized access to the kernel they did see slowdowns; thankfully those workloads are not common for enthusiast software.   Expect a lot more results from both Windows and Linux over the coming weeks.

image.php_.jpg

"2018 has been off to a busy start with all the testing around the Linux x86 PTI (Page Table Isolation) patches for this "Intel CPU bug" that potentially dates back to the Pentium days but has yet to be fully disclosed. Here is the latest."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Source: Phoronix

Dell Is Offering Laptops With Intel Management Engine (IME) Disabled

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2017 - 07:05 PM |
Tagged: system76, security, linux, Intel, IME, dell

Update 12-5-2017: Dell has provided a statement in response to the IME news which is as follows:

  • "Dell has offered a configuration option to disable the Intel vPro Management Engine (ME) on select commercial client platforms for a number of years (termed Intel vPro - ME inoperable, custom order on Dell.com). Some of our commercial customers have requested such an option from us, and in response, we have provided the service of disabling the Management Engine in the factory to meet their specific needs. As this SKU can also disable other system functionality it was not previously made available to the general public.
  • Recently, this option was inadvertently offered online as a configuration option for a couple of systems on Dell.com. Customers interested in purchasing this SKU should contact their sales representative as it is intended to be offered as a custom option for a select number of customers who specifically require this configuration."

(End of update.)

Niche system vendors System76 and Purism are now joined by Dell in offering laptops with Intel's Intel Management Engine (IME) blackbox disabled. The company, one of the largest laptop manfacturers, currently offers three higher-end laptops with the configuration option of "Intel vPro™ - ME Inoperable, Custom Order" where for around $20 Dell will disable IME. IME has come under fire recently due to a major vulnerability that affects many of its Core series processors and has had bugs dating back years.

IME is baked into Intel processors dating back to 2008 and operates at what is known as Ring -3 meaning that it has privileges well above that of software, drivers, OS kernel, and even UEFI. IME is an autonomous subsystem with its own processor running its own software that has full control over the computer and even has its own networking stack. Intel has obfuscated that closed source code and has made it notoriously difficult to enable while also claiming it is necessarly for the processor to hit full performance. Security researchers and companies like Google have committed to disabling it (there is a way to turn it off though Intel has not documented it). IME can be used alongside Intel AMT / vPro features (Ring -2+) for remote management, and since IME runs even when the system is off it makes it easy to roll out OS upgrades and re-image machines. Home users however do not need IME, but have traditionally been stuck with it anyway along with its security holes. (Note that AMD has its own platform management subsystem with the PSP though it has not drawn nearly the high profile reputation Intel has with the latest bugs and promised patches.)

Dell Disable IME.png

Specificlaly Dell is offering to disable IME for a small fee on the Latitude 14 Rugged laptop, Latitude 15 E5570, and Latitude 12 Rugged tablet which all run 6th Generation Core (6000 series and Core M) processors. Purism plans to sell PCs with IME disabled going forward and System76 has promised firmware updates for disabling IME on its PCs sold within the last few years. In reading about IME online, it seems that disabling IME is a tricky endevour with the potential to brick the system, but it can be done and the more documentation these vendors do the better for Linux, open source software, and security concious consumer proponents. For now you will have to pay a small fee to disable it but if you are worried about IME the peace of mind might be worth it. Also, with Dell now on board it shouldn't be long before other vendors start offering systems sans Intel Management Engine. Hopefully they are able to offer this IME disabled feature on models with the latest Intel processors as well for those that want it as the latest round of major bugs affected Skylake, Kaby Lake, and Coffee Lake CPUs.

What are your thoughts on this? Have your systems received an IME security patch? In any case, with the IME bugs, Mac OS High Sierra secuirty hole, and iOS encrypted backup loophole it has not been a good month for security!

Also read:

Source: Liliputing

A look at the latest Radeon graphics driver stack

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 29, 2017 - 03:20 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, vega 64, RX 580, microsoft, linux 4.15, linux, amd

With a new Linux kernel out, Phoronix revisited the performance of two of AMD's new cards running on that kernel as well as the current version of Windows 10.  GPU testing on Linux has gotten more interesting thanks to the upsurge in compatible games, this review encompasses the recent Deus Ex, Shadow of Mordor, F1 2017 and GRID Autosport.  The tests show there is still work to be done on the Mesa Radeon graphics driver stack as in all cases the performance lagged behind on Linux even though the hardware was exactly the same.

image.php_.jpg

"As we end out November, here is a fresh look at the current Windows 10 Pro Fall Creator's Update versus Ubuntu 17.10 with the latest Linux 4.15 kernel and Mesa 17.4-dev Radeon graphics driver stack as we see how various games compete under Windows 10 and Linux with these latest AMD drivers on the Radeon RX 580 and RX Vega 64 graphics cards."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Source: Phoronix

Intel Optane on Linux

Subject: Storage | November 24, 2017 - 04:59 PM |
Tagged: Optane, Intel, linux, 900P, Ubuntu 17.10

Phoronix installed an Optane 900P SSD into their AMD EPYC system to test the performance the new drive provides running under Ubuntu.  Their results were very similar to Al's, showing that this fairly expensive 280GB SSD can justify its premium price by leaving the competition in the dust.  The testing suite they used is quite different from the one here at PCPer but the proof that Optane gets along well with Linux is indisputable.

image.php_.jpg

"At the end of October Intel released the Optane 900P solid-state drive as their new ultra high-end performance SSD. Windows reviews have been positive, but what about using the Optane 900P on Linux? It's working well and delivers stunning NVMe SSD performance."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: Phoronix

EPYC Linux performance from AMD

Subject: Processors | September 18, 2017 - 05:13 PM |
Tagged: linux, EPYC 7601, EPYC

Phoronix have been hard at work testing out AMD's new server chip, specifically the 2.2/2.7/3.2GHz EPYC 7601 with 32 physical cores.  The frequency numbers now have a third member which is the top frequency all 32 cores can hit simultaneously, for this processor that would be 2.7GHz.  Benchmarking server processors is somewhat different from testing consumer CPUs, gaming performance is not as important as dealing with specific productivity applications.   Phoronix started their testing of EPYC, in both NUMA and non-NUMA configurations, comparing against several Xeon models and the performance delta is quite impressive, sometimes leaving even a system with dual Xeon Gold 6138's in the dust.  They also followed up with a look at how EPYC compares to Opteron, AMD's last server offerings.  The evolution is something to behold.

image.php_.jpg

"By now you have likely seen our initial AMD EPYC 7601 Linux benchmarks. If you haven't, check them out, EPYC does really deliver on being competitive with current Intel hardware in the highly threaded space. If you have been curious to see some power numbers on EPYC, here they are from the Tyan Transport SX TN70A-B8026 2U server. Making things more interesting are some comparison benchmarks showing how the AMD EPYC performance compares to AMD Opteron processors from about ten years ago."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: Phoronix

Benchmarking a beast of a box, a dual Xeon Scalable Gold Server

Subject: Systems | August 30, 2017 - 03:42 PM |
Tagged: linux, xeon, Xeon Gold 6138, dual cpu, LGA-3647, Intel

The core counts and amount of RAM on enthusiast systems is growing quickly, especially with Threadripper, but we won't be seeing a system quite like this one under our desks in the near future.  The server which Phoronix tested sports dual Xeon Gold 6138 for a total of 40 physical cores and 80 threads, with each CPU having 48GB of RAM for a total of 96GB of DDR4-2666.  Not only did Phoronix run this system through a variety of tests, they did so on eight different Linux distros.   Can any benchmark push this thing to its limits?  Was there a clear winner for the OS?  Find out in the full review.

image.php_.jpg

"While we routinely run various Linux distribution / operating system comparisons at Phoronix, they tend to be done on desktop class hardware and the occasional servers. This is our look at the most interesting enterprise-focused Linux distribution comparison to date as we see how Intel's Xeon Scalable platform compares on different GNU/Linux distributions when using the Tyan GT24E-B7106 paired with two Dual Xeon Gold 6138 processors."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

Source: Phoronix