Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 27, 2014 - 04:22 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, linux, amd
GPU drivers have been a hot and sensitive topic at the site, especially recently, probably spurred on by the announcements of Mantle and DirectX 12. These two announcements admit and illuminate (like a Christmas tree) the limitations of APIs on gaming performance. Both AMD and NVIDIA have their recent successes and failures on their respective fronts. This will not deal with that, though. This is a straight round-up of new GPUs running the latest drivers... in Linux.
In all, NVIDIA tends to have better performance with its 700-series parts than equivalently-priced R7 or R9 products from AMD, especially in low-performance Source Engine titles such as Team Fortress 2. Sure, even the R7 260X was almost at 120 FPS, but the R9 290 was neck-and-neck with the GeForce GTX 760. The GeForce GTX 770, about $50 cheaper than the R9 290, had a healthy 10% lead over it.
In Unigine Heaven, however, the AMD R9 290 passed the NVIDIA GTX 770 by a small margin, coming right in line with it's aforementioned $50-bigger price tag. In that situation, where performance became non-trivial, AMD caught up (but did not beat). Also, third-party driver support is more embraced by AMD than NVIDIA. On the other hand, NVIDIA's proprietary drivers are demonstrably better, even if you would argue that the specific cases are trivial because of overkill.
And then there's Unvanquished, where AMD's R9 290 did not achieve triple-digit FPS scores despite the $250 GTX 760 getting 110 FPS.
Update: As pointed out in the comments, some games perform significantly better on the $130 R7 260X than the $175 GTX 750 Ti (HL2: Lost Coast, TF2, OpenArena, Unigine Sanctuary). Some other games are the opposite, with the 750 Ti holding a sizable lead over the R7 260X (Unigine Heaven and Unvanquished). Again, Linux performance is a grab bag between vendors.
There's a lot of things to consider, especially if you are getting into Linux gaming. I expect that it will be a hot topic, soon, as it picks up... ... Steam.
Subject: Processors | April 14, 2014 - 03:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Kabini, linux, Athlon 5350, Athlon 5150, Sempron 3850, Semprov 2650, amd, athlon, sempron
An easy way to trim the cost of a lower end system is to skip Windows and install Linux, along with picking a less expensive AMD chip to power your system. AMD has recently gifted us with new Kabini based Sempron and Athlon chips, the most expensive of which is available for less that $70. For testing Phoronix used Ubuntu 14.04, the 3.14 kernel and Mesa 10.2 along with the Radeon 7.3.99 driver. You will be glad to know that there were no compatibility problems with Linux whatsoever, all CPUs performed more or less as expected as you can see for yourself in the full review.
"It's been a busy past few days since AMD launched their "AM1" Socketed Kabini APUs. After the initial Athlon 5350 Linux review on launch-day, I did some tests involving a faster kernel and newer Mesa code along with some reference DDR3 memory scaling benchmarks for these APUs with Jaguar processor cores. Since then the Athlon 5150 and Sempron 3850/2650 APUs arrived."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
Subject: Systems | April 10, 2014 - 02:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: linux, mini-itx, AAEON, EMB-BT1, Bay Trail, SFF, htpc
You may not recognize the name AAEON but you will recognize its parent company, ASUS. AAEON makes low power small form factor single board SoCs and with the introduction of Bay Trail they may become more common. The EMB-BT1-A10-3825 sports a quad-core Atom E3845 @ 1.33GHz and Ivy Bridge era Intel HD graphics with support for up to 4GB of DDR3-1067. It has a total TDP of 6W but unfortunately Phoronix's WattsUp meter was busy on another system so you will need to wait for an update on total power consumption.
The connectivity on this SoC is incredible, mSATA for an SSD, two SATA 6Gbps ports and two SATA-2 ports, dual gigabit LAN ports, a pair of USB 2.0 ports and a single 3.0 port, HDMI, VGA, COM, and audio jacks. You could configure this as a small media server or as it supports dual displays it would serve wonderfully as an HTPC.
"For those after a low-cost mini-ITX board for use within an HTPC, SOHO file server, or other low-power situations, AAEON has out an interesting board called the EMB-BT1, or more formally the AAEON EMB-BT1-A10-3825. This mini-ITX motherboard has onboard an Intel Atom E3825 "Bay Trail" SoC for delivering decent performance out of the six Watt SoC and having open-source-friendly graphics under Linux."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
Subject: Mobile | April 9, 2014 - 05:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: linux, asus, zenbook, UX301LA-DH71T, ubuntu 14.04, ubuntu, haswell
There is a lot to like about this particular 13.3" ASUS Zenbook, perhaps the most noticeable is the IPS display with a 2560 x 1440 resolution and a capacitive display capable of tracking 10 contact points. There is another reason to fall in love with this notebook, it can run Ubuntu with all of the features enabled without any extra work required. The specifications under the hood are rather impressive as well, a Core-i7 4558U with Intel Iris Graphics 5100, 8GB of DDR3-1600 and two 128GB SSDs capable of supporting RAID. Those of you looking for a powerful notebook which does not require Windows to run properly would be wise to read this review at Phoronix.
"As I wrote about at the beginning of March, I bought the ASUS Zenbook UX301LA-DH71T Haswell-based ultrabook to replace an Apple Retina MacBook Pro as my main system. I've been using this latest Zenbook with Intel Iris Graphics and dual SSDs for several weeks now as my main system and have taken it on four business trips so far and it's been running great. Paired with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, the ASUS Zenbook UX301LA makes a rather nice lightweight yet powerful Linux system."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Dell XPS 15 9530 @ Kitguru
- Enermax DreamBass AeroOdio CP006 Cooling Pad Review @HiTech Legion
- Silverstone NB04 Notebook Cooler @ eTeknix
- Acer Iconia B1 Tablet Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Pivos MANA 2200 mAh Battery Pack Review @ Bjorn3D
- Pivos Mana 5200mAh Battery Pack @ Bjorn3D
- Silverstone SST-PB03 AA Emergency Battery Pack @ eTeknix
- Gumstick Smartphone Stand Review @ Bjorn3d
- Samsung Galaxy S5 @ The Inquirer
- HTC One M8 vs iPhone 5S specs comparison @ The Inquirer
- Acer Liquid S2 @ The Inquirer
- iOCEAN X7S 8-core Smartphone Review @ Madshrimps
Subject: General Tech | April 2, 2014 - 10:53 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: minnowboard, linux, embedded, development, Bay Trail, atom e3825, atom e3815
MinnowBoard.org recently announced the MinnowBoard Max which is a new Intel-powered development board with improved specifications and a $100 lower price versus the original MinnowBoard. The MinnowBoard Max is an open source hardware and software development platform designed and built by CircuitCo with guidance from Intel. The MinnowBoard Max is intended to be used to develop new Bay Trail-powered products or as the brain of embedded equipment that interacts with custom I/O such as FGPAs and specialized sensors.
The MinnowBoard Max is slightly smaller than the original at 2.9” x 3.9” and features an improved Intel Atom processor. Rather than the single core Atom E640 at 1 GHz the original MinnowBoard used, the MinnowBoard Max uses one of two Bay Trail Atom E3800-series SoCs. The base $99 model uses a single core Atom E3815 clocked at 1.46GHz while the $129 model uses a dual core Atom E3825 clocked at 1.33 GHz. The SoC is paired with either 1GB or 2GB of system RAM on the $99 or $129 model respectively.
The MinnowBoard Max supports a wide range of I/O including:
- 26-pin low speed expansion port
- SPI, I2C, I2S Audio, 2 x UARTs (TTL-level), 8 x buffered GPIO (two supporting PWM), +5V, Ground
- 60-pin high speed expansion port
- 1 x PCI-E 2.0 (one lane), 1 x SATA 3Gbps, 1 x USB 2.0 host, I2C, GPIO, JTAG, +5V, Ground
- 1 x USB 3.0 port
- 1 x USB 2.0 port
- 1 x HDMI port
- 1 x Micro SD
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 1 x Serial Debug (via separately sold cable)
- 1 x Micro USB 2.0
The small form factor board supports Linux and Android operating systems with pending support for the Yocto Project (which helps developers create their own Linux distribution). Intel’s Bay Trail is not open source, but the company has reportedly provided open source drivers for the HD Graphics processor-integrated GPU.
The MinnowBoard Max starts at $99 and is slated to start shipping towards the end of June 2014. MinnowBoar.org will also be releasing the hardware design files under a Creative Commons license shortly after that launch point. More information can be found on the MinnowBoard Max FAQ.
The open source MinnowBoard Max looks to be a respectable upgrade over the original, and the lower price should help to make the x86 architecture more attractive to developers of embedded systems especially in the wake of the proliferation of ARM-powered alternatives.
Subject: General Tech | March 11, 2014 - 03:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Bandwidthd, Speedometer, Nethogs, Darkstat, iperf, networking, linux
Over at Linux.com is a look at five network monitoring tools that will really help you determine not only what is utilizing your network but also its overall health. Bandwidthd is a tool for web hosts and LAN admins which tallies up incoming and outgoing bandwidth usage and can present it in a variety of time frames, from usage per day to usage per year. Nethogs tracks usage per process and Darkstat tracks total usage but comes with an embedded HTTP server which makes it fairly self contained. Speedometer is fairly self explanatory and to understand iperf you should read the write up here as it is a powerful tool for investigating the quality of your network.
"In this roundup of Linux network testing utilities we use Bandwidthd, Speedometer, Nethogs, Darkstat, and iperf to track bandwidth usage, speed, find network hogs, and test performance."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Graphene-copper interconnects are cool @ nanotechweb
- Intel and pals whip out 1.6Tbit/s cable: Come on baby, light my fibre @ The Register
- TSMC sole supplier of Apple's A8? NO WAY, says Samsung, US TOO @ The Register
- TSMC 20nm wafer production delayed temporarily, but will not affect shipments @ DigiTimes
- ARM to see pricing advantages against Intel in micro-server industry @ DigiTimes
Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2014 - 02:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: linux, security
It would seem that there is a fairly problematic bug in the way that GnuTLS library applies encryption for many Linux users. According to the story on The Inquirer this bug could allow an improperly setup certificate to be reported as valid and while your connection states it is secure it will not in fact be encrypted. Red Hat has already issued a patch to solve this problem but the vulnerability would apply to any distro which uses the GnuTLS library. It would be wise to follow the link from the story to locate a patch for your system before attackers start using it in the wild.
"THOUSANDS OF LINUX USERS might be vulnerable to hackers after it emerged that a significant certificate checking bug exists in a low level library.
The problem stems from the GnuTLS library that provides an API to enable SSL, TLS and DTLS encryption protocols, as used particularly by web servers."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft's Attempt To Convert Users From Windows XP Backfires @ Slashdot
- How to Install the LTSI-3.10 Kernel on Raspberry Pi and MinnowBoard @ Linux.com
- HTC One 2 release date, specs, rumours and price @ The Inquirer
- New 4G router pitched at biz bods sick to death of titsup networks @ The Register
- ASUS USB-AC56 & PCE-AC68 Dual-Band Wireless AC Adapters Review @HiTech Legion
Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2014 - 02:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: linux, Chromebook
If you have purchased the Acer C720 Chromebook because it was relatively quick and very inexpensive you have probably been happy with it but maybe you wish it could do more. To do so you could follow these instructions to install either Ubuntu or Bohdi Linux. The process is a little more complicated than installing the OS from a CD but they have provided step by step instructions on how to accomplish this process. Bring new life to your Chromebook with just a bit of work.
"Chromebooks are amazing little machines. They are a marvel of speed and simplicity. The Acer C720 Chromebook is certainly near the top of the list of Chromebooks to be purchased (next to the Chromebook Pixel, of course). It's speedy and it's inexpensive. But for some, the simplistic nature of the devices doesn't offer enough power or flexibility. For those who need more from this Acer platform, I have the answer – in fact, I have two answers."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Your CIO is now a venture capitalist and you work at their startup @ The Register
- Exclusive interview with Peter Hirschfeld from Wavemaster @ Kitguru
- 10 amazingly stupid things the 'experts' will try to tell you about Microsoft @ ZDNet
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 25, 2014 - 03:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ddr3, Kaveri, A10 7850K, amd, linux
You don't often see performance scaling as clean as what Phoronix saw when testing the effect of memory speed on AMD's A10-7850K. Pick any result and you can clearly see a smooth increase in performance from DDR3-800 to DDR3-2400. The only time that increase seems to decline slightly is between DDR3-2133 and 2400MHz, with some tests showing little to no increase between those two speeds. Some tests do still show an improvement, for certain workloads on Linux the extra money is worth it but in other cases you can save a few dollars and limit yourself to the slightly cheaper DDR3-2133. Check out the full review here.
"Earlier in the week I published benchmarks showing AMD Kaveri's DDR3-800MHz through DDR3-2133MHz system memory performance. Those results showed this latest-generation AMD APU craving -- and being able to take advantage of -- high memory frequencies. Many were curious how DDR3-2400MHz would fair with Kaveri so here's some benchmarks as we test out Kingston's HyperX Beast 8GB DDR3-2400MHz memory kit."
Here are some more Memory articles from around the web:
- DDR3-800MHz To DDR3-2133MHz Memory Testing With AMD's Kaveri @ Phoronix
- G.SKILL Ripjaws 8GB 2133MHz DDR3L SO-DIMM Memory Kit Review @ Legit Reviews
- Patriot Viper 3 16GB 2400MHz Memory Kit @ eTeknix
- Team Group Vulcan 8GB 2400MHz C10 Memory Kit @ eTeknix
- Patriot Viper 8GB DDR3-2133 C11 (Low Profile) Memory @ Funky Kit
- G.SKILL Ripjaws 1866MHz 8GB DDR3L SO-DIMM Memory Kit Review @ Legit Reviews
Subject: General Tech | February 24, 2014 - 10:22 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, SFF, mintbox, linux, ipc2, haswell, compulab
CompuLab, the company behind the MintBox, launched its small form factor Intense PC 2 last month in four SKUs using Intel's latest Haswell processors. The systems are now available for purchase starting at $388 for the base model. The Intense PC 2 shares a similar form factor to the existing Intense PC and MintBox systems (resembling a consumer router), but features new hardware and IO options.
The Intense PC 2 measures 6.3” x 7.4”x 1.57” and has an aluminum chassis that acts as a passive heatsink for the internal components. The case is dark gray with a finned top surface. The front of the system can be customized with FACE modules that offer different IO options. However, by default the Intense PC 2 has two USB 3.0 ports and three indicator LEDs on the front and the following IO ports on the rear:
- 2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports (Intel NICs)
- 2 x HDMI video outputs
- 1 x DisplayPort video output
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 3 x RS232
- 3 x (2 x analog, 1 x digital S/PDIF)
- 1 x SIM card slot
- 2 x antenna connectors
The FACE modules can expand connectivity to include VGA ouptuts, video capture inputs, additional networking, and additional USB ports (among other options).
Internally, the Intense PC 2 has a small motherboard that comes with an Intel Celeron, i3, i5, or i7 Haswell processor, up to 16GB of DDR3L 1600 MHz memory (two slots), a single mSATA port, and a single mPCIE port (the mSATA port is a combo mSATA/mPCIe port). An 802.11ac+Bluetooth 4.0 radio is included as part of the package. The 15W TDP CPU can be passively cooled, and at the high end you can get up to an Intel Core i7 4600U with HD 4400 graphics. The dual core (plus hyperthreading) chip can turbo up to 3.3 GHz. The table below from the CompuLab specification sheet (PDF) details the hardware layouts of the various IPC2 SKUs.
The Intense PC 2 is aimed at desktop users as well as the industrial sector. The passively cooled mini PC can be easily used as a desktop, home server, router+802.11ac access point, HTPC, or Steambox (streaming endpoint mainly), for example. It is also capable of driving signage and large 4K displays for adversiting and other tasks.
The Intense PC is available in four base SKUs ranging in price from $388 to $902. Adding an SSD and/or pre-installed OS add to that base price. CompuLab offers a 5 year warranty on the SFF system.