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

Podcast #452 - Computex Special

Subject: General Tech | June 1, 2017 - 12:33 PM |
Tagged: x299, WD, VROC, video, Vega, toshiba, Threadripper, snapdragon 835, ryzen mobile, qnap, podcast, nvidia, msi, max-q, Killer xTend, Intel, evga, Core i9, asus, asrock, arm, amd, agesa, a75, A55

PC Perspective Podcast #452 - 01/01/17

Join us for talk about Computex 2017 and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison

Program length: 2:07:12
 
Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. Intel news
    2. AMD news
      1. 0:55:00 RX Vega pushed to end of July (SIGGRAPH), FE on June 27th
    3. NVIDIA news
    4. ARM news
    5. Storage news
    6. New notebooks
  3. Closing/outro

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

Plex Launches Live TV Feature, Works on NVIDIA SHIELD

Subject: General Tech | June 1, 2017 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: shield, plex server, plex, nvidia, live tv, dvr

We’re pretty big fans of Plex around the PC Perspective offices, using it for storing, accessing and sharing loads of local content to our phones, PCs, consoles and more. (If you haven’t read Jim’s amazing Plex setup story from a couple years ago, do so.) Back in September the company rolled out a beta feature called Plex DVR that was able to record live OTA (over the air) TV directly to your library. There was a very important catch though – you could not watch the content until AFTER the recording was complete, and you had no way to watch the OTA TV channels live.

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This changes today with the release of the Live TV upgrade! For Plex Pass subscribers, it’s built directly into the Plex Media Server and works with quite a few modern tuner devices including the HDHomeRun series, and many more from companies like Hauppauge, AVerMedia, and DVBLogic. These tuners connect to an OTA antenna to bring you live television through a network or USB connection, and now Plex will support them to showcase the live channels available in your area.

Limitations of Live TV viewing exist for now though – only Android TV and iOS devices support playback of LIVE content. Plex has promised us more, including Android devices and Apple TV, inside of 60 days.

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There are some pretty impressive features that go along with Live TV being available as part of your Plex Server. For starters, you will soon be able (iOS and Android TV only for today) watch TV on any Plex client, anywhere in the world, regardless of region or device. Want to catch the live baseball game while sitting at the airport on your iPhone? You can do it now, and the Plex Server handles video transcoding on the fly to make sure you get it at the bandwidth best suited for your situation.

For those new to the Plex DVR feature set, recorded shows and movies are integrated right into your library, with metadata added, making them a searchable and shareable part of your system. You can then watch those recorded shows anywhere in the world, on any device.

Plex Server support for Live TV is currently supported on Windows and Mac, supported NAS devices and Android TV. The most interesting option here is likely the NVIDIA SHIELD, a device that already supported server and client application. The SHIELD will be able host AND VIEW Live TV through Plex, again making it the preeminent cord cutting hub for modern consumers of content.

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For many cord cutters, combining the Live TV feature with expanded and improved DVR functionality (including overlapping recordings, whole season support, etc.) and the built-in library you may have with Plex already running, this is CLOSE to the Holy Grail. In my talks with Plex this week I implored them to look at integrating support for over-the-top services like Sling or DirecTV NOW, giving me (and many others) a single hub location for all of our cord cutting content.

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There are some eccentricities I would like to see worked out, including a more linear program guide display option, and faster "channel surfing", but the initial rollout seems solid from my 24 hours of testing.

I am actively working on a multi-part series exploring my own cord cutting experiences at home (taking into account family considerations) and it looks like Plex has found an even more prominent place in it.

Source: Plex

Computex 2017: Acer Predator Triton 700 Gaming Laptop with NVIDIA GeForce GTX Max-Q Design

Subject: Mobile | May 30, 2017 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: Triton 700, Predator, nvidia, notebook, max-q, laptop, GTX 1080, geforce, gaming, computex 2017, acer

Acer has introduced the Predator Triton 700 gaming laptop, which boasts a very thin and light design as it is built to NVIDIA's newly-announced Max-Q specifications. This allows the Triton to house a "standard-voltage" Intel Core i7 processor (overclockable, no less) and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 GPU.

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"The Predator Triton 700 utilizes Max-Q, NVIDIA’s innovative approach to designing the world’s thinnest, fastest, and quietest gaming laptops. Max-Q, an integral part of NASA’s mission to launch man into space, is defined as the point at which the aerodynamic stress on a rocket in atmospheric flight is maximized. Thus, the design of the rocket is precision-engineered around Max-Q. NVIDIA has applied a similar philosophy to designing gaming laptops, enabling Acer to build laptops that are thinner with more GPU performance of previous generation products."

Storage is just as impressive as the CPU/GPU tandem, with dual NVMe PCIe drives in RAID-0, just in case you would like to experience double to the speed of the fastest available type of solid-state storage (the benchmarks will probably be astonishing). Other specs include a 15.6 FHD display with NVIDIA G-SYNC, memory support for up to 32GB 2400 MHz DDR4, Killer DoubleShot Pro networking, and Thunderbolt 3.

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The design of the Predator Triton 700 is somewhat unusual for a laptop, with a mechanical keyboard that sits flush with the front edge of the palm rest, and a touch pad positioned above. But this is no ordinary touch pad, as Acer explains:

"A large Corning® Gorilla® Glass plate above the keyboard serves as a window into the notebook’s cooling system, showcasing the AeroBlade™ 3D Fan and five heat pipes, and also functions as a Precision Touchpad."

The Predator Triton 700 gaming laptop will be available beginning in August with an MSRP of $2999.

Source: Acer

Computex 2017: NVIDIA GeForce GTX Max-Q Design Notebooks are Thinner, Lighter

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | May 30, 2017 - 12:48 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, mobile, max-q design, max-q, GTX 1080, geforce

During CEO Jensen Huang’s keynote at Computex tonight, NVIDIA announced a new initiative called GeForce GTX with Max-Q Design, targeting the mobile gaming markets with a product that is lighter, thinner yet more powerful than previously available gaming notebooks.

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The idea behind this technology differentiation centers around gaming notebooks that have seen limited evolution over the last several years in form factor and design. The biggest stereotype of gaming notebooks today is that they must big, bulky and heavy to provide a competitive gaming experience when compared to desktop computers. NVIDIA is taking it upon itself to help drive innovation forward in this market, in some ways similar to how Intel created the Ultrabook.

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Using “typical” specifications from previous machines using a GeForce GTX 880M (admittedly a part that came out in early 2014), NVIDIA claims that Max-Q Designs will offer compelling gaming notebooks with half the weight, nearly a third of the thinness yet still see 3x the performance. Utilizing a GeForce GTX 1080 GP104 GPU, the team is focusing on four specific hardware data points to achieve this goal.

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First, NVIDIA is setting specifications of the GPUs in this design to run at their maximum efficiency point, allowing the notebook to get the best possible gaming performance from Pascal with the smallest amount of power draw. This is an obvious move and is likely something that has been occurring for a while, but further down the product stack. It’s also likely that NVIDIA is highly binning the GP104 parts to filter those that require the least amount of power to hit the performance target of Max-Q Designs.

Second, NVIDIA is depending on the use of GeForce Experience software to set in-game settings optimally for power consumption. Though details are light, this likely means running the game with frame rate limiting enabled, keeping gamers from running at refresh rates well above their screen’s refresh rate (static or G-Sync) which is an unnecessary power drain. It could also mean lower quality settings than we might normally associate with a GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card.

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Comparing a 3-year old notebook versus a Max-Q Design

The third and fourth points are heavily related: using the best possible cooling solutions and integrating the best available power regulators targeting efficiency. The former allows the GPU to be cooled quickly, and quietly (with a quoted sub-40 dbA goal), keeping the GTX 1080 at its peak efficiency curve. And putting the GPU in that state without inefficient power delivery hardware would be a waste, so NVIDIA is setting standards here too.

UPDATE: From the NVIDIA news release just posted on the company's website, we learned of a couple of new additions to Max-Q Design:

NVIDIA WhisperMode Technology
NVIDIA also introduced WhisperMode technology, which makes laptops run much quieter while gaming. WhisperMode intelligently paces the game's frame rate while simultaneously configuring the graphics settings for optimal power efficiency. This reduces the overall acoustic level for gaming laptops. Completely user adjustable and available for all Pascal GPU-based laptops, WhisperMode will be available soon through a GeForce Experience software update.

Availability
MaxQ-designed gaming laptops equipped with GeForce GTX 1080, 1070 and 1060 GPUs will be available starting June 27 from the world's leading laptop OEMs and system builders, including Acer, Aftershock, Alienware, ASUS, Clevo, Dream Machine, ECT, Gigabyte, Hasee, HP, LDLC, Lenovo, Machenike, Maingear, Mechrevo, MSI, Multicom, Origin PC, PC Specialist, Sager, Scan, Terrans Force, Tronic'5, and XoticPC. Features, pricing and availability may vary.

Jensen showed an upcoming ASUS Republic of Gamers notebook called Zephyrus that hit all of these targets – likely NVIDIA’s initial build partner. On it they demonstrated Project Cars 2, an impressive looking title for certain. No information was given on image quality settings, resolutions, frame rates, etc.

zephyrus.jpg

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus Max-Q Design Gaming Notebook

This design standard is impressive, and though I assume many gamers and OEMs will worry about having an outside party setting requirements for upcoming designs, I err on the side this being a necessary step. If you remember notebooks before the Intel Ultrabook push, they were stagnant and uninspiring. Intel’s somewhat forceful move to make OEMs innovate and compete in a new way changed the ecosystem at a fundamental level. It is very possible that GeForce GTX with Max-Q Design will do the same thing for gaming notebooks.

An initiative like this continues NVIDIA’s seeming goal of creating itself as the “PC brand”, competing more with Xbox and PlayStation than with Radeon. Jensen claimed that more than 10 million GeForce gaming notebooks were sold in the last year, exceeding the sales of Xbox hardware in the same time frame. He also called out the ASUS prototype notebook as having compute capability 60% higher than that of the PS4 Pro. It’s clear that NVIDIA wants to be more than just the add-in card leader, more than just the leader in computer graphics. Owning the ecosystem vertical gives them more control and power to drive the direction of software and hardware.

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The ASUS ROG Zephyrus Max-Q Design Gaming Notebook

So, does the Max-Q Design technology change anything? Considering the Razer Blade B5 is already under 18mm thin, the argument could be made that the market was already going down this path, and NVIDIA is simply jumping in to get credit for the move. Though Razer is a great partner for NVIDIA, they are likely irked that NVIDIA is going to push all OEMs to steal some of the thunder from this type of design that Razer started and evangelized.

That political discussion aside, Max-Q Design will bring new, better gaming notebook options to the market from many OEMs, lowering the price of entry for these flagship designs. NVIDIA did not mention anything about cost requirements or segments around Max-Q, so I do expect the first wave of these to be on the premium end of the scale. Over time, as cost cutting measures come into place, and the necessity of thinner, lighter gaming notebooks is well understood, Max-Q Designs could find itself in a wide range of price segments.

Source: NVIDIA

SoftBank Invests $4 Billion In NVIDIA, Becomes Fourth Largest Shareholder

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 27, 2017 - 12:18 AM |
Tagged: vision fund, softbank, nvidia, iot, HPC, ai

SoftBank, the Tokyo, Japan based Japanese telecom and internet technology company has reportedly quietly amassed a 4.9% stake in graphics chip giant NVIDIA. Bloomberg reports that SoftBank has carefully invested $4 billion into NVIDIA avoiding the need to get regulatory approval in the US by keeping its investment under 5% of the company. SoftBank has promised the current administration that it will invest $50 billion into US tech companies and it seems that NVIDIA is the first major part of that plan.

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NVIDIA's Tesla V100 GPU.

Led by Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son, SoftBank is not afraid to invest in technology companies it believes in with major past acquisitions and investments in companies like ARM Holdings, Sprint, Alibaba, and game company Supercell.

The $4 billion-dollar investment makes SoftBank the fourth largest shareholder in NVIDIA, which has seen the company’s stock rally from SoftBank’s purchases and vote of confidence. The (currently $93) $100 billion Vision Fund may also follow SoftBank’s lead in acquiring a stake in NVIDIA which is involved in graphics, HPC, AI, deep learning, and gaming.

Overall, this is good news for NVIDIA and its shareholders. I am curious what other plays SoftBank will make for US tech companies.

What are your thoughts on SoftBank investing heavily in NVIDIA?

EVGA's Hydro Copper waterblock for GTX 1080

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 26, 2017 - 03:56 PM |
Tagged: evga, Hydro Copper GTX 1080, water cooler, nvidia

EVGA's Hydro Copper GTX 1080 is purpose built to fix any GTX 1080 on the market with thermal pads for the memory and VRMs already attached with a tube of EVGA Frostbite thermal paste for the GPU.  The ports to connect into your watercooling loop are further apart than usual, something that TechPowerUp were initially skeptical about, once they tested the cooler those doubts soon disappeared though they had other concerns about the design. Check out the review for the full details on this coolers performance.

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"The EVGA Hydro Copper GTX 1080 is a full-cover waterblock that offers integrated lighting with no cable management needed, a six-port I/O port manifold, and an aluminum front cover for aesthetics and rigidity alike. It also aims to simplify installation by incorporating pre-installed thermal pads out of the box."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: TechPowerUp

New AI products will Crest Computex

Subject: General Tech | May 25, 2017 - 12:19 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, Intel, Lake Crest, Knights Crest

DigiTimes have heard about Intel's plans to reveal their next hardware devoted to AI functionality at Computex.  Lake Crest is their deep learning hardware to support a new generation of neural network based computing and Knights Crest is the result of Intel's $350m purchase of the deep learning company Nervana which will be based on the familiar Xeon and Xeon Phi families of processor. 

Jen-Hsun Huang, will deliver a keynote about NVIDIA's current AI projects along with their advancements in autonomous driving and deep learning, but we have not heard any juicy rumours about hardware announcements yet.  Love him or hate him, Jen-Hsun's keynotes are never a waste of time to listen to.

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"Nvidia and Intel are expected to unveil their latest plans on hardware platforms for artificial intelligence (AI) applications at Computex 2017, according to sources from the upstream supply chain."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

EK is releasing new GeForce GTX FE Full-Cover water blocks

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 23, 2017 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: ek cooling, pascal, nvidia, waterblock, GTX FE

The current series of EK Cooling waterblocks for Pascal based GPUs, up to and including the new Titan X are being replaced with a new family of coolers.  The new GTX FE water blocks will be compatible with the previous generation of backplates, so you can do a partial upgrade or keep an eye out for discounts on the previous generation.

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These new coolers will fit on any Founders Edition reference card, from GTX 1060's through to the Titan X, currently that count stands at 106 unique graphics cards so your card is likely to be compatible.  You can choose between four models, a plain design, one with acetal, one with nickel and one with both acetal and nickel, whichever one you choose it will still run you 109.95€/$125USD

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Full PR is below.

EK Water Blocks, the Slovenia-based premium computer liquid cooling gear manufacturer, is releasing several new EK-FC GeForce GTX FE water blocks that are compatible with multiple reference design Founders Edition NVIDIA® GeForce GTX 1060, 1070, 1080, 1080 Ti, Titan X Pascal and Titan Xp based graphics cards. All the water blocks feature recently introduced aesthetic terminal cover as well! FE blocks come as a replacement to current GeForce GTX 10x0 / TITAN X Series of water blocks.

All current GeForce GTX 10x0 / TITAN X Series of water blocks are going to be discontinued after the stock runs out and FE blocks come as a complete replacement. FE blocks are designed to fit all reference design Founders Edition NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060, 1070, 1080, 1080 Ti, Titan X Pascal and Titan Xp based graphics cards. The current compatibility list rounds up a total of 106 graphics cards that are on the market, but as always, we recommend that you refer to the EK Cooling Configurator for a precise compatibility match.

The new EK-FC GeForce GTX FE water blocks are also backward compatible with all EK-FC1080 GTX Backplates, EK-FC1080 GTX Ti Backplates, and EK-FC Titan X Pascal Backplates.

Availability and pricing
These water blocks are made in Slovenia, Europe and are available for purchase through EK Webshop and Partner Reseller Network. In the table below you can see manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) with VAT included.

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Meet the GT 1030

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 17, 2017 - 01:55 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, msi, gt 1030, gigabyte, evga. zotac

The GT 1030 quietly launched from a variety of vendors late yesterday amidst the tsunami of AMD announcements.  The low profile card is advertised as offering twice the performance of the iGPU found on Intel Core i5 processors and in many cases is passively cooled.  From the pricing of the cards available now, expect to pay around $75 to $85 for this new card.

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EVGA announced a giveaway of several GTX 1030s at the same time as they released the model names.  The card which is currently available retails for $75 and is clocked at 1290MHz base, 1544 MHz boost and has 384 CUDA Cores.  The 2GB of GDDR5 is clocked a hair over 6GHz and runs on a 64 bit bus providing a memory bandwidth of 48.06 GB/s.  Two of their three models offer HDMI + DVI-D out, the third has a pair of DVI-D connectors.

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Zotac's offering provides slightly lower clocks, a base of 1227MHz and boost of 1468MHz however the VRAM remains unchanged at 6GHz.  It pairs HDMI 2.0b with a DVI slot and comes with a low profile bracket if needed for an SFF build.

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MSI went all out and released a half dozen models, two of which you can see above.  The GT 1030 AERO ITX 2G OC is actively cooled which allows you to reach a 1265MHz base and 1518MHz boost clock.  The passively cooled GT 1030 2GH LP OCV1 runs at the same frequency and fits in a single slot externally, however you will need to leave space inside the system as the heatsink takes up an additional slot internally.  Both are fully compatible with the Afterburner Overclocking Utility and its features such as the Predator gameplay recording tool.

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Last but not least are a pair from Gigabyte, the GT 1030 Low Profile 2G and Silent Low Profile 2G cards.  The the cards both offer you two modes, in OC Mode the base clock is 1252MHz and boost clock 1506MHz while in Gaming Mode you will run at 1227MHz base and 1468MHz boost. 

Source: EVGA