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Video: What does a $3000 GPU look like? NVIDIA TITAN V Unboxing and Teardown!

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 12, 2017 - 07:51 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, titan, titan v, Volta, video, teardown, unboxing

NVIDIA launched the new Titan V graphics card last week, a $2999 part targeted not at gamers (thankfully) but instead at developers of machine learning applications. Based on the GV100 GPU and 12GB of HBM2 memory, the Titan V is an incredibly powerful graphics card. We have every intention of looking at the gaming performance of this card as a "preview" of potential consumer Volta cards that may come out next year. (This is identical to our stance of testing the Vega Frontier Edition cards.)

But for now, enjoy this unboxing and teardown video that takes apart the card to get a good glimpse of that GV100 GPU.

A couple of quick interesting notes:

  • This implementation has 25% of the memory and ROPs disabled, giving us 12GB of HBM2, a 3072-bit bus, and 96 ROPs.
  • Clock speeds in our testing look to be much higher than the base AND boost ratings.
  • So far, even though the price takes this out of the gaming segment completely, we are impressed with some of the gaming results we have found.
  • The cooler might LOOK the same, but it definitely is heavier than the cooler and build for the Titan Xp.
  • Champagne. It's champagne colored.
  • Double precision performance is insanely good, spanking the Titan Xp and Vega so far in many tests.
  • More soon!

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Source: NVIDIA

Intel Sheds More Light On Benefits of Nervana Neural Network Processor

Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 12, 2017 - 04:52 PM |
Tagged: training, nnp, nervana, Intel, flexpoint, deep learning, asic, artificial intelligence

Intel recently provided a few insights into its upcoming Nervana Neural Network Processor (NNP) on its blog. Built in partnership with deep learning startup Nervana Systems which Intel acquired last year for over $400 million, the AI-focused chip previously codenamed Lake Crest is built on a new architecture designed from the ground up to accelerate neural network training and AI modeling.

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The full details of the Intel NNP are still unknown, but it is a custom ASIC with a Tensor-based architecture placed on a multi-chip module (MCM) along with 32GB of HBM2 memory. The Nervana NNP supports optimized and power efficient Flexpoint math and interconnectivity is huge on this scalable platform. Each AI accelerator features 12 processing clusters (with an as-yet-unannounced number of "cores" or processing elements) paired with 12 proprietary inter-chip links that 20-times faster than PCI-E, four HBM2 memory controllers, a management-controller CPU, as well as standard SPI, I2C, GPIO, PCI-E x16, and DMA I/O. The processor is designed to be highly configurable and to meet both mode and data parallelism goals.

The processing elements are all software controlled and can communicate with each other using high speed bi-directional links at up to a terabit per second. Each processing element has more than 2MB of local memory and the Nervana NNP has 30MB in total of local memory. Memory accesses and data sharing is managed with QOS software which controls adjustable bandwidth over multiple virtual channels with multiple priorities per channel. Processing elements can talk to and send/receive data between each other and the HBM2 stacks locally as well as off die to processing elements and HBM2 on other NNP chips. The idea is to allow as much internal sharing as possible and to keep as much data stored and transformed in local data as possible in order to save precious HBM2 bandwidth (1TB/s) for pre-fetching upcoming tensors, reduce the number of hops and resulting latency by not having to go out to the HBM2 memory and back to transfer data between cores and/or processors, and to save power. This setup also helps Intel achieve an extremely parallel and scalable platform where multiple Nervana NNP Xeon co-processors on the same and remote boards effectively act as a massive singular compute unit!

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Intel's Flexpoint is also at the heart of the Nervana NNP and allegedly allows Intel to achieve similar results to FP32 with twice the memory bandwidth while being more power efficient than FP16. Flexpoint is used for the scalar math required for deep learning and uses fixed point 16-bit multiply and addition operations with a shared 5-bit exponent. Unlike FP16, Flexpoint uses all 16-bits of address space for the mantissa and passes the exponent in the instruction. The NNP architecture also features zero cycle transpose operations and optimizations for matrix multiplication and convolutions to optimize silicon usage.

Software control allows users to dial in the performance for their specific workloads, and since many of the math operations and data movement are known or expected in advance, users can keep data as close to the compute units working on that data as possible while minimizing HBM2 memory accesses and data movements across the die to prevent congestion and optimize power usage.

Intel is currently working with Facebook and hopes to have its deep learning products out early next year. The company may have axed Knights Hill, but it is far from giving up on this extremely lucrative market as it continues to push towards exascale computing and AI. Intel is pushing for a 100x increase in neural network performance by 2020 which is a tall order but Intel throwing its weight around in this ring is something that should give GPU makers pause as such an achievement could cut heavily into their GPGPU-powered entries into this market that is only just starting to heat up.

You won't be running Crysis or even Minecraft on this thing, but you might be using software on your phone for augmented reality or in your autonomous car that is running inference routines on a neural network that was trained on one of these chips soon enough! It's specialized and niche, but still very interesting.

Also read:

Source: Intel

Bungie learns a lesson similar to EA

Subject: General Tech | December 12, 2017 - 04:25 PM |
Tagged: Bungie, destiny 2

With the newest expansion to Destiny 2 came an unpleasant surprise for those who did not pay for the DLC, an inability to access parts of the game they previously had access to.  The Prestige level challenges were intended to scale with a player's power and with the new cap available it was no longer available for those who did not fork over cash for the DLC, as well there were several PvP modes that were also blocked.  They have since realized the error of their ways and both restored access and apologized; you can read that apology at [H]ard|OCP.

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"The Prestige Raid was a novel experience that players value, even if they don’t own Curse of Osiris, and it was a mistake to move that experience out of reach. Throughout the lifetime of the Destiny Franchise, Trials has always required that players owned the latest Expansion."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

VESA Introduces New Fully Open DisplayHDR Standard for LCD Displays

Subject: Displays | December 12, 2017 - 12:54 PM |
Tagged: vesa, lcd, hdr, display, 8-bit

Non-profit standards association VESA has put forth a new open standard called DisplayHDR for defining HDR specifications and performance for PC laptop and desktop LCDs. The new test specification, dubbed Display HDR 1.0, defines a transparent testing methodology and definitions along with specifying three tiers of HDR system performance that will identify displays as being certified for minimum, mid-range, and high-end HDR with their respective badges of DisplayHDR 400, DisplayHDR 600, and DisplayHDR 1000. Consumers will be able to easily identify which panels have HDR and how they stack up.

VESA DisplayHDR 1.0 Test Specification.jpg

The new HDR standard was devised by VESA with input from over two dozen of its member companies including major OEMs of displays, panels, graphics cards, CPUs, display drivers, and color calibration providers. DisplayHDR is reportedly a fully open and transparent standard with automated tools that end users can download and run to verify the results for themselves. The standard includes three peak luminance tests, two contrast measurement tests (native and local dimming), color testing and validation of BT.709 and DCI-P3 color gamuts, bit-depth requirement tests (see below), and HDR backlight response time measurements.

DisplayHDR 400 represents the minimum entry-level tier of HDR per the VESA specification and specifies that a LCD display must feature at least 400 nits brightness (both short, local bursts and full screen flashes), 8-bit color depth, HDR-10, and global dimming. VESA notes that many non-HDR displays that advertise as supporting 8-bit colors, it is actually a 6-bit panel that uses a dithering algorithm to achieve a simulated 8-bits. DisplayHDR specifies true 8-bit at a minimum, and for DisplayHDR 600 and DisplayHDR 1000 displays must achieve 10-bit depth using 8-bit panels combined with 2-bit dithering at a minimum.

Display and PC manufacturers have reportedly had their hands on the DisplayHDR test specification for some time now and are working on validating their displays so that they can offer products with the DisplayHDR logos. New product announcements and demonstrations are expected during CES 2018 next month with DisplayHDR compatible products showing up as early as Q1 2018. VESA notes that while DisplayHDR currently only targets LCDs, it hopes to extend the open standard to include OLED displays in the future.

I think this is a good thing as there is a lot of confusing and conflicting advertising out there when it comes to HDR. A vendor neutral specification and badge that can also be independently tested may be just what the display market needs to push HDR into the mainstream.

Source: VESA
Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

The flower, not the hormone

It was way back in December of 2014 that AMD and the Radeon group first started down the path of major driver updates on an annual cadence. The Catalyst Omega release marked the beginning of a recommitment to the needs of gamers (and now professionals) with more frequent, and more dramatic, software updates and improvements. Cognizant of the previous reputation the company had with drivers and software, often a distant second to the success that NVIDIA had created with it GeForce drivers, Radeon users were promised continuous increases.

And make no mistake, the team at AMD had an uphill battle. But with releases like Omega, Crimson, ReLive, and now Adrenalin, it’s clear that the leadership has received the message and put emphasis on the portion of its product that can have the most significant impact on experience.

AMD joins us at the PCPer offices to talk through all the new features and capabilities!

Named after the adrenalin rose, rather than the drug that flows through your body when being chased by feral cats, this latest major software release for Radeon users includes a host of new features and upgraded ones that should bring a fresh coat of paint to any existing GPU. Two big features will steal the show, the new Radeon Overlay and a mobile app called AMD Link. But expansions to ReLive, Wattman, Enhanced Sync, and Chill are equally compelling.

Let’s start with what I think will get the most attention and deservedly so, the Radeon Overlay. As the name would suggest, the overlay can be turned out through a hotkey in-game, and allows the gamer to access graphics card monitoring tools and many driver settings without leaving the game, having to alt-tab, or having to close the game to apply. By hitting Alt-R, a screen will show up on the right-hand side of the display, with the game continuing to run in the background. The user will be able to interact with the menu via mouse or keyboard, and then hit the same hotkey or Esc to return.

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Continue reading our look at the new AMD Radeon Softare Adrenalin Edition driver!!

HP Issues Security Patch For Keylogger Discovered In More than 460 Laptop Models

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 12, 2017 - 02:37 AM |
Tagged: synaptics, security patch, security, keylogger, hp, Cyber Security

HP has issued security patches for more than 460 models of the company's laptops and thin clients to address a hidden keylogger present in the Synaptics touchpad drivers. Discovered by security researcher Michael Myng while delving into the Synaptics Touchpad Software in an attempt to change the backlight behavior of the keyboard, the keylogger was reportedly built into the software stack to debug errors. While it shipped to customers disabled by default, an attacker that was able to achieve administrative privileges could change the appropriate registry value and enable keylogging to locally record all of the user's keystrokes without their knowledge. Further malicious code or local physical access could then be used to retrieve data for analysis of possible passwords, usernames, account numbers, and other personal information.

Keyloggers.jpg

Image courtesy Robbert van der Steeg via Flickr Creative Commons

HP claims in its security bulletin that at no time did it or Synaptics have access to customer data and that this security vulnerability is a "local loss of confidentiality" and should be acted upon as soon as possible by downloading the security patch for your laptop from HP or by running Windows Update.

According to the HP security bulletin, the vulnerability reportedly affects all Synaptics OEM partners including HP that have shipped systems with certain Synaptics Touchpad driver versions. In the case of HP this includes commercial / enterprise notebooks, tablets, thin clients, and mobile workstations from their G2, G4, G6, Elite X2, EliteBook, Thin Client, ProBook, Spectre Pro, Stream, X360, and ZBook Mobile Workstation series and consumer devices with Compaq, Beats, ENVY, OMEN, Pavilion, Spectre, Split, Stream, and even the 15" Star Wars Special Edition laptop!

While this is a serious security risk, there is no need to panic. You should apply the patch manually or through Windows Update as soon as possible, but so long as you have been and continue to follow security best practices (strong passwords, running anti-virus and anti-malware scans regularly, restricting physical access, and not running as administrator on your daily driver user account, ect) you should be safe as there are several steps that would need to be completed before an attacker could take advantage of this hidden keylogger, especially remotely. 

You can find the full list of affected laptops and their associated security patches on HP's support website. For a PGP signed version of the page you can email hp-security-alert@hp.com.

Source: BBC

Synaptics Unveils Clear ID In-Display Fingerprint Sensor Technology

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 12, 2017 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: synaptics, security, fingerprint sensor, fingerprint, biometrics

Synaptics, the California-based "human interface solution developer" founded in 1986, is no stranger to PC input and interface devices with more than 5 billion units shipped to OEM partners and a large patent portfolio. Today, the company is getting into the lucrative smartphone market in a big way with its Clear ID In-Display fingerprint sensor which sits just under and scans a user's fingerprint through a standard smartphone display (including glass overlay and screen protector).

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Current sensors sit in a fixed position at OEM discretion and activate only when needed. Future in-display sensors will target larger areas and eventually the entire display.

Synaptics has designed and positioned the FS9500 fingerprint sensor at smartphones with so-called Infinity Displays and seeks to address the problem of where and how to mount a biometrics sensor (or even a camera for that matter, but that's a different problem) on smartphones that are moving towards edge to edge displays with no physical button area or bezels to mount front facing sensors! Rather than requiring an unusual cut out display (like the iPhone X) or settling for larger bezels, Synaptics has instead opted to take advantage of the large display area by laminating the thin fingerprint senor module to the underside of the display and using the OLED display itself as the light source to illuminate the user's fingerprint so that the optimized CMOS image sensor can scan the fingerprint from the reflected light bounced through the gaps in between pixels.

Synaptics claims it is using "Quantum Matcher" and "PurePrint" machine learning technology to enhance security as well as to adapt to different external lighting environments (e.g. direct sunlight), and as a result its fingerprint sensor is able to work faster and in more situations than competing 3D facial recognition systems. Specifically, the company claims its fingerprint sensor is able to accurately read a user's fingerprint in 0.7 seconds versus 1.4 seconds for a facial recognition camera biometrics sensor. The Clear ID In-Display fingerprint sensor is rated at an approximate 99% spoof rejection rate thanks to the AI-powered PurePrint technology that discerns real fingerprints from fakes along with an on-board encryption module that establishes an encrypted connection from the biometrics sensor to the phone.

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With the biggest hurdle to the continued relevance of the fingerprint sensor on modern smartphones solved by placing it under the display itself, smartphone users are able to continue to enjoy the benefits of fingerprint biometrics versus the fancy new facial recognition systems (which are admittedly cool, but do seem a bit "gimmicky" to me) including being able to unlock the phone naturally by picking it up, not having to look directly at it before it will unlock, and being able to quickly unlock the phone even in bad lighting (too dark or too bright) situations.

If it works as well as they claim, it seems like a neat way to integrate a secure fingerprint reader. Fortunately, we should not have to wait long to see it in action with devices using the technology expected as soon as next year. Perhaps we will see more information or even product announcements and design wins at CES! (Also, how the heck is it almost CES already?? heh)

Interestingly, Synaptics is not the first company to attempt the under display fingerprint sensor, with Qualcomm showing off an "ultrasonic" sensor earlier this year and Samsung reportedly filing patents for a pressure sensitive in display sensor, but Synaptics may well be the first to actually deliver, and with a product that is faster and able to work with thicker "top stacks" (the distance between top of sensor and finger including the display, glass overlay, and screen protector) up to 1.5mm.

Source: Synaptics

Apple Confirms Acquisition of Shazam In Deal Worth $400 Million

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2017 - 06:46 PM |
Tagged: shazam, music streaming, augmented reality, apple music, apple

Apple has confirmed its plans to acquire the London-based company Shazam who is most well-known for its song recognition app for smartphones. The deal, which industry sources estimate to be worth a bit over $400 million, would see Shazam and its employees become part of Apple who has been in talks with Shazam for the past five months and exclusively dating for two.

TechCrunch quotes Apple in stating:

“We are thrilled that Shazam and its talented team will be joining Apple. Since the launch of the App Store, Shazam has consistently ranked as one of the most popular apps for iOS. Today, it’s used by hundreds of millions of people around the world, across multiple platforms. Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users. We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement.”

Currently, Shazam is available on a massive number of devices with apps for Android, iOS, Watch OS (Apple Watch), BlackBerry OS, Mac OS, and Windows machines equipped with a microphone. Its apps have been downloaded well over 1 billion times and its users have performed more than 30 billion song searches – "Shazams" – since its launch. The Shazam app allows users to identify songs by recording short clips which Shazam creates a time-frequency spectrograph with to compare to its database of known spectrographs of 11 million songs in an attempt to find a match. IT's not perfect, especially if you are in a loud bar or at home and the song you want to identify is in the background of a TV show with a lot of dialogue over it, but it works for the most part. Shazam has further updated its app through the years to incorporate social networking aspects, link YouTube videos of identified songs, provide links to Amazon Music and Apple Music to purchase the song, and display song lyrics and information on the music artist. The app development company Shazam has also branched out into marketing partnerships as well as image recognition and augmented reality projects which may have also piqued Apple's interest. 

Shazam Listening.jpg

Interestingly, Apple was not the only – or even the first – company to approach Shazam about a possible acquisition. Specifically, Snap (the company behind Snapchat) and Spotify were also interested in buying up the London-based developers. While the talks with Spotify fell through, Snap originally approached Shazam six months ago, beating Apple to the punch, but apparently neither company was able to muster up a stable-enough or sizeable enough offer. It is natural that these three companies would be interested in folding Shazam into their own business units since they already have partnerships in place with Shazam for various functionality and marketing reasons. Ars Technica notes that Shazam is used on the backend when asking Siri to identify a song, for example. Further, Spotify members with paid subscriptions could listen to full songs from within the Shazam app, and Shazam can be used within Snapchat to discover and share out songs.

With Apple winning the war for Shazam, I am curious what this will mean for the future of Apple Music as well as the future of the standalone Shazam apps (especially those on non-Apple platforms like the Android app and the song recognition functionality from within third party apps). Bringing Shazam in house is a smart move for Apple which is looking to advance its streaming music service. If anything, it will open the Play Store up for new apps to move in if Apple does pull Shazam inside its walled garden as an Apple exclusive offering.

What are your thoughts on the acquisition? Do you use Shazam?

Source: TechCrunch

Now that the 8700K is in stock occasionally, check out Gigabyte's Z370 offering

Subject: Motherboards | December 11, 2017 - 05:11 PM |
Tagged: Z370 Aorus Ultra Gaming, Z370, Intel, gigabyte, coffee lake

The Z370 for Coffee Lake may look the same as a Z270 for Kaby Lake but unfortunately that is not the case and your Kaby CPU is not going to work.  For those who did not upgrade during the previous generation and have been patiently awaiting the availability of Coffee Lake CPUs, [H]ard|OCP's review of the Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Ultra Gaming is worth checking out.  The board can be had for around $170 and currently includes a free PCIe WiFi card, for that price there are a lot of extras to be had.  The board is also able to offer the possibility of a decent overclock as well!

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"Intel’s launched yet another chipset, so for better or worse that means new motherboards for Intel’s mainstream market. We look at GIGABYTE’s Z370 Aorus Ultra Gaming to see if it’s worthy of a Coffee Lake CPU. And now that you can actually find the 8700K in stock, it is worth talking about."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Asus Reveals Specifications Of Snapdragon-Powered NovaGo Convertible Laptop

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 11, 2017 - 04:30 PM |
Tagged: Windows 10 S, snapdragon 835, qualcomm, NovaGo, asus

The Asus NovaGo was announced last week at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Tech Summit, and now the company is sharing additional specifications on one of the first Windows On Snapdragon devices. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 and running Windows 10 S, Asus is promising a convertible tablet with up to 22 hours of battery life capable of running most of your usual Windows applications (even non-Store / UWP apps so long as they are 32-bit and don’t require kernel mode drivers).

Asus NovaGo Snapdragon Laptop.png

Measuring 316 x 221.6 x 14.9mm, the Asus NovaGo TP370 is constructed of dark gray plastic (and some metal bits) and weighs in at just over 3.06 pounds (1.39 kg). The top half of the device is dominated by a 13.3” 1920 x 1080 LTPS “NanoEdge” display with 8.9mm bezels and also hosts the 720p webcam which isn’t great but does apparently support Windows Hello. The display offers 10-point multi-touch as well as stylus support in the form of the Asus Pen with 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity.

A 360° silver colored hinge connects the two halves of the PC and enables tablet and tent modes. The bottom half of the NovaGo holds most of the hardware of the device along with the external I/O ports. The NovaGo has a chiclet style keyboard with flat looking keys and the arrow keys nestled in the bottom right corner. The trackpad does appear to be fairly large though. There are two SonicMaster stereo speakers, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps) Type A ports, one HDMI video output, a audio combo jack, microSD card slot, Nano SIM slot, and DC power input (no USB Type-C charging here unfortunately).

Internal hardware centers around the 10nm Snapdragon 835 SoC and its X16 LTE modem. The Snapdragon 835 features eight Kryo 280 64-bit ARM cores clocked at up to 2.45 GHz, an Adreno 540 GPU at 710 MHz, Hexagonn 682 DSP, support for aptX audio and Aqstic audio codec, Spectra 180 ISP (which seems to be underutilized here with only a 1MP webcam in play), and platform security module. The SoC is paired with up to 8GB of RAM and 256 GB of UFS 2.0 flash storage (rated at up to 175 MB/s or 4000 Mbps).

The NovaGo has four antennas and supports Gigabit LTE (1 Gbps down, 150 Mbps up) and dual-band 802.11ac MU-MIMO Wi-Fi. Users can use a Nano SIM or eSIM (embedded SIM) functionality to connect to their wireless carriers with the eSIM able to be set up through the Windows Store by purchasing a data plan locally when traveling. A 52 watt-hour battery allegedly keeps the NovaGo running for up to 22 hours and sitting in connected standby for up to a month. Windows 10 S is bundled with the system, but power users can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free until September 2018.

Hexus.net reports that the NovaGo will be available in early spring 2018 and will hit the US, UK, Italy, France, China, and Taiwan first with other countries to follow later. There are several models at play with 4GB, 6GB, and 8GB of RAM as well as 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB of UFS 2.0 storage. The base model has a MSRP of $599 and the top end SKU has a MSRP of $799.

The pricing does seem to be on the more expensive side, but these devices are aimed at mobile professionals and businesses with expense accounts so it’s not that out of line, and if the build quality is there and the battery life gets close to the lofty promises I can see them catching on.

Also read:

Source: Asus

Roundup at the keyboard corral

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2017 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: input, keyboard, gaming keyboard, mechanical keyboard, wireless keyboard

Techspot have posted a comprehensive keyboard roundup, encompassing a wide variety of usage including, work, gaming, wireless, HTPC and budget categories.  The brands include Das Keyboard and Corsair but the majority of the categories are ruled by a veteran brand.  Logitech takes top spot in numerous categories, including the budget choice but also the wireless categories.  The review also offers runner ups, so drop by if you or someone on your list is in the market for a new keyboard.

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"Whether you are focused on productivity, or are looking for a gaming-centric keyboard, or something that can connect to multiple devices over Bluetooth, here are our favorite keyboards on every category."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Techspot

Fresh chips for your Monday

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2017 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: amd, Intel, ryzen 2, gemini lake, pentium silver, celeron, rumour, Zen+, Pinnacle Ridge

AMD and Intel both have new chips on the way according to what The Inquirer has gleaned, Intel's are available while AMD's are not yet released.   Starting with AMD, there is a bit of news about the expected release date of Ryzen 2, with Ryzen 7, Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 2000 expected to arrive in February.  AMD's Pinnacle Ridge architecture is expected to be an improved version of the original, as opposed to the completely new designs Intel has favoured lately, and will bring compatibility for higher clocked DDR4 as well as higher core frequencies.  This is still in the rumour stage but is not completely inconceivable.

Intel's new Gemini Lake processors are available now, to make purchasing a CPU even more confusing.  The Pentium Silver line are an upgrade to Apollo Lake, the previous Atom architecture and have no actual relation to the Kaby Lake based Pentium Gold line up.  The Celeron also uses Gemini Lake but has been a low cost mobile Atom processor for a while now, so informed shoppers will get what they expected. 

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"There's not a vast amount of extra information about what we can expect from Ryzen 2, but we reckon the chipset will be more of an evolution in performance rather than a massive power hike to annoy people who bought a Ryzen CPU earlier this year."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer
Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Corsair

Overview

While most hardware enthusiasts and gamers today are used to the idea of high-end mechanical keyboards, they might not be aware of the world of custom keycaps.

Just like the difference in key switches, hardcore mechanical keyboard enthusiasts often have many different types of keycaps made with different materials and manufacturing processes. Beyond just customizing the look of your keyboard, different keycaps can cause some noticeable differences in the typing experience.

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With the launch of their new PBT Double-shot keycap set, Corsair is aiming to bring this level of obsession more to the mainstream. I know that there are a lot of terms in that previous line, so let's take a closer look at what makes these keycaps different than the standard affair.

Continue reading about the new Corsair Gaming PBT Double-shot keycaps!

MechWarrior 5 Preview and Trailer from Mech_Con 2017

Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2017 - 07:14 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, Mechwarrior, mechwarrior 5

Last year, we covered the announcement of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. We noted that, because the game takes place in 3015, it would have a fairly-reduced equipment set compared to what we have seen in MechWarrior 3 and 4. Apparently that’s not entirely accurate, as a new batch of info has dropped during Mech_Con 2017 in Vancouver.

According to reports, like this one from Engadget, the game starts in 3015, but lasts about 35 in-game years.

But the game won’t really have a linear story, as seen in the previous entries. Rather than having the player run a scripted narrative, the intent is to let them build their own mercenary squad and do contracts for the Great Houses on their own terms (and with four-player co-op, although AI companions can be used if desired). I… don’t know how I feel about this. On the one hand, it could be an interesting, unique experience. On the other hand, I kind-of want a new, linear story in the Battletech universe.

Also, they mentioned that it will support user-created mods. Given that it's based on Unreal Engine 4, that should be a fairly large level of mod support. This will apparently include new missions, environments, and so forth.

It was also re-announced that MW5 will launch in 2018 – now more specifically: December.

Source: Engadget

The Khronos Group Releases SYCL 1.2.1

Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2017 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: Khronos, SYCL, sycl 1.2, sycl 1.2.1, opencl 1.2, opencl

The specification for SYCL 1.2.1, which is based on OpenCL 1.2, has been finalized and released on the Khronos website. The describe it as a major update over the previous standard, SYCL 1.2, and it is. Since May 2015, when SYCL 1.2 was finalized, The Khronos Group added features from C++11, C++14, and C++17, including the ISO C++17 Parallel Standard Template Library (STL).

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In other words, you can create C++17 Parallel STL applications with SYCL 1.2.1, single-source, that are able to offload to OpenCL 1.2 devices.

Beyond that, the specification changes also help machine learning. The Khronos Group mentions that Google’s TensorFlow supports SYCL, bringing the framework to OpenCL devices. They want to continue updating the specification in this area, along with Safety Critical applications, such as automotive. They also want to keep updating the standard with ISO C++ features. In other words? SYCL is being adopted, and they intend ongoing support to match.

You can read the press release at their website.

Jonsbo Launches Ribbed UMX5 Mid Tower Case With RGB LEDs

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 10, 2017 - 03:06 AM |
Tagged: tempered glass, RGB LED, RGB, mid tower, jonsbo, eatx, atx, aluminum case

Jonsbo, a Shenzhen based case manufacturer founded in 2010 has unleashed a new stylish flagship mid tower called the UMX5. The new case measures 507mm x 224mm x 485mm and is constructed of a steel frame wrapped in anodized aluminum-magnesium alloy and tempered glass. The new case has a ribbed design that runs vertically over the top and front panels. Jonsbo claims that the valleys have been sandblasted to dull their look while the 5.5mm tall wiredrawn peaks/ribs have been polished to enhance the contrast and catch the eye.

Jonsbo UMX5 Black.png

There is a gap of 3.5cm between the bottom of the main chamber of the case and the foot for ventilation and looks (it is under-lit with RGB LEDs of course). The back panel is fairly plain though they have opted for a honeycomb style fan grill for the included 120mm exhaust fan. The side panels steal the show with 5mm thick double sided tempered glass on both sides of the case to show off all of the internals (I am less sold on the idea of the right-side panel being glass as that means I would have to actually cable manage and not just hide it all behind the motherboard tray! Custom sleeved PSU cables that are the exact length needed are going to be essential to making builds in this case look good. The tempered glass does have a bit of a tint to it though so it's not the end fo the world.)

The front 1/3 or so of the left side panel is overlaid by a honeycomb pattern that can be illuminated by a RGB LED. Front I/O includes the usual two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, and two audio jacks as well as a button to change the LEDs color scheme or to turn them off completely.

Jonsbo UMX5 Silver_light blue.png

Users can set the case LEDs to color change mode where it will cycle through 264 colors, to a single color of red, green, blue, yellow, purple, pink, turquoise, or orange, to a (red only) breathing mode, or set to off.

The UMX5 is designed for ATX motherboards, but it can work with a small number of E-ATX models (305mm x 265mm maximum). Further, the UMX5 mid tower supports CPU coolers up to 166mm tall and graphics cards up to 325mm long. There are four 3.5” hard drive bays with red anodized aluminum sleds as well as room for two 2.5” drives behind the motherboard tray. The PSU sits vertically behind the motherboard tray and hidden towards the front of the case behind a glass cover along with the hard drives.

As far as cooling, there are fan mounting points in the top, bottom, and rear though Jonsbo only includes a single 120mm rear fan. Users can add up to two 120mm fans to the top and two 120mm fans to the bottom. If they are water cooling, they can use up to two 240mm radiators top and bottom and a single 120mm in the rear. If using a thick radiator, you can mount the bottom fans outside of the case in the 35mm ventilation chamber gap.

Jonsbo UMX5 Silver.png

Jonsbo’s UMX5 is a decent looking case that will come in either black (with red accents on the HDD trays and around the left side panel) or silver.

The case has an MSRP of 199.99 € (Euro) including 19% VAT (~$200 USD sans VAT). I can’t seem to find it available online anywhere quite yet, but it should hit Europe shortly. It’s not clear how long it will be (if ever) until it hits the US, however.

In general, I like the look of the case, though I wish the red drive trays and side panel could be swapped out for different colors. The silver UMX5 is a bit better in this respect as it does not have the red border on the left side panel (it’s all silver except the drive trays which are red), but the black UMX5 is stuck with the red border which is okay if you are also using red LEDs but just looks odd if you are going with any other color. Beyond that the case is on the pricier side of things, but if the build quality (and cable management) is truly there the modders and enthusiasts will come!

Source: Jonsbo

Toshiba Launches 14TB Helium Sealed PMR Hard Drives For Enterprise Customers

Subject: Storage | December 9, 2017 - 11:46 PM |
Tagged: PMR, toshiba, helium, Hard Drive, enterprise, cmr, cloud storage, 14tb

Toshiba recently took the wraps off of a new hard drive series aimed at the enterprise market. What makes the MG07ACA series interesting is that Toshiba is offering a 14 TB 3.5” drive without resorting to using Shingled Magnetic Recording. Instead, the new MG07ACA series uses standard recording methods (CMR) and nine ~1.556 TB PMR (perpendicular magnetic recording) platters in an helium filled hermetically sealed enclosure to hit 40% more capacity and up to 50% better power efficiency than the previous MG06ACA (10 TB) series. The new drives are also important because they represent the first foray into helium filled hard drives for Toshiba following the company pushing air breathing drives to the limit with its seven platter models.

Toshiba MG07ACA 14TB CMR hard drive.jpg

The new drives are standard 7200 RPM models with 256 MB of cache and a SATA 6 Gbps interface. The 14 TB model is able to hit 260 MB/s sustained transfer while the slightly lower areal density of the 12 TB model puts it at a 250 MB/s transfer speed maximum. They are able to hit 167 random 4K read IOPS and 70 random 4k write IOPS (which is fun to compare to even the slowest SSDs today, but these drives aren't for random workloads). Toshiba rates the drives at a fairly industry standard 550 TB per year workload and 2.5 million hours MTBF with a five year warranty. Toshiba is reportedly using its own laser welding technology to seal the drives and keep the helium contained. The MG07ACA drives are offered in emulated 512 (512e) and 4k native sectors with the 512e models featuring Toshiba Persistent Write Cache technology to prevent data loss in the event of power failure while the drives are executing read-modify-write operations. The power loss protection (PLP) is important for enterprise customers using these drives to upgrade the storage in their legacy software and hardware setups.

The MG07ACA series includes 14 TB 9-disk and 12 TB 8-disk drives. That’s a lot of platters in a single drive, but Toshiba claims that going this route with CMR / PMR reduces the total cost of ownership (TCO) for enterprise customers that are buying up high capacity drives for their cloud storage and big data storage needs. The drives are allegedly more power efficient and trusted in the enterprise market as opposed to the newer shingled drives. I suppose these drives are also useful as they can be drop in upgrades of lower capacity models.

John Rydning, Research Vice President for hard disk drives at IDC was quoted in the press release in saying:

"While enterprise server and storage customers realize that shingled magnetic recording (SMR) technology can improve HDD capacity, the adoption of SMR HDD products into server and storage systems is a transition that will take several years,"

Interestingly the drives offer 1.5 TB / platter in the 12 TB model and a bit more than 1.55 TB / platter in the 14 TB drive. With SMR technology hitting up to 1.75 TB / platter so far, using that could get a 14 TB drive with just 8 platters, but that is still fairly close that I suppose going with the longer track record of non shingled PMR and its reliability is more important to the enterprise customers.

In order to cram 9 platters into a standard 3.5" drive, Toshiba had to make the platters thinner and move to helium instead of air. Specifically, Toshiba is using 0.635mm Showa Denko (SDK) PMR platters that are a mere 1.58mm apart! The drives have Nidec motors on the top and bottom as well as environmental sensors and RVFF (Rotation Vibration Feed Forward) vibration compensation technology which is important when you have nine platters spinning at 7200 RPM in each drive and then hundreds of drives are placed in close proximity to each other in server racks and SANs. The move to helium and thinner platters is a big part of the power savings in this drive with the platters being easier to spin up and exhibiting less flutter moving through the much less dense helium versus air. Toshiba claims that the MG07ACA series uses up to 7.6 watts in normal operation and 4.6 watts at idle (0.32W/GB).

According to AnandTech, Toshiba will begin sampling the new hard drives later this month and will sell the drives to its large enterprise customers within the first half of next year. Once demand from the big data crowd has been met, Toshiba will being selling the drives through distributors which means enthusiasts will be able to get their hands on the drives through normal channels by the end of 2018. Exact pricing and availability have not been announced at this time.

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Source: Toshiba

AMD Partners With Qualcomm For Always Connected Ryzen Mobile PCs

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2017 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: amd, qualcomm, LTE, ryzen mobile, wireless

On the opening day of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Tech Summit, the company brought AMD on stage and announced a partnership that would see AMD use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon LTE modems alongside Ryzen Mobile SoCs to enable always connected Windows devices.

snapdragon lte modem.png

PC Perspective’s Ryan Shrout and Ken Addison attended the event and gleaned a few more details about the announcement. According to Ryan on the podcast, AMD plans to use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon LTE modems in Ryzen Mobile-powered laptops and tablets. While road warriors will be able to enjoy cellular connected AMD laptops, Ryan notes that these devices may not support the new “connected standby” standard where a Windows PC is able to keep the cellular connection and the PC in a very minimal power state to download notifications, emails, and other updates in the background while the PC is otherwise sleeping.

Reading this announcement piqued my interest though for the future of this partnership. While the first devices are likely to include the Qualcomm modem on the motherboard, in the future AMD may be allowed to integrate the modem into its mobile APUs which would help AMD to compete with Intel in this space. Qualcomm is a big player and could give AMD a strong and competitive wireless solution without AMD having to navigate the murky patent waters and huge R&D costs involved with coming up with its own in-house modems.

What are your thoughts on this Qualcomm and AMD partnership?

Also read:

Source: AMD

Acer Releases PE320QK Pro 4K IPS Display

Subject: Displays | December 9, 2017 - 03:19 PM |
Tagged: acer, ips, professional monitor

Acer announced their PE320QK professional display several months ago, but it is now available. Before we get too far into the specifications, and there are some things that need to be discussed about them, the MSRP is $1199.99 USD, but it’s apparently above that in practice. The third-party seller on Newegg, TELeasy, is currently sold out at a listed price of $1330.17.

acer-2017-peo-front-on.png

As for the specifications? Here’s where it gets interesting. First, the press release states that the PE320QK can do 130% of sRGB. This is nonsense. sRGB is a color space that you calibrate down into. You cannot cover more than it, because otherwise you wouldn’t be calibrated to it. Either your potential color space covers the whole gamut, or it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter what else it covers, just that it doesn’t miss anything inside the fenced-in area that the spec cares about. In fact, saying that it’s 130% makes me question whether it will end up less than 100% of the post-calibration gamut.

That’s not a concern that you want to have with a $1200 monitor.

The other issue is with the contrast ratio, although this is a number that every display manufacturer, especially TVs, screw with. It is listed as 100,000,000 : 1. Yeah… no. That number is meaningless. Again, it hasn’t meant anything for over a decade at this point, so I can’t really knock on Acer too much for this.

That said, the monitor is probably good. I just can’t quantify how and why from the information we’re given. I do like the light-hood flaps on the side, though.

Source: Acer

The Lenovo Explorer, bringing Clippy to VR

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2017 - 04:11 PM |
Tagged: Windows Mixed Reality, lenovo explorer, Lenovo

Lenovo's Explorer is their Windows mixed reality headset, allowing you to interact with your Windows desktop and a variety of software and games available from the Microsoft Store.  SteamVR support is in beta, currently run through an app available from Microsoft and for the most part Overclockers Club did not encounter any serious issues when accessing SteamVR.  The controllers offer an advantage over the competitors, along with the usual buttons you find on motion controllers you will also find a Windows button as well as a joystick on each controller.  The kit starts at $399, which is not off putting compared to the competition, though Lenovo and Microsoft still have some work to do before the experience is as polished as SteamVR.

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"For a general-use headset, the software is not particularly convincing, but give the environment some time, and this will probably improve. For a gaming headset, I am more than satisfied because even with how much is still marked as 'Beta,' so much works, works well, and is fun. This has been a very enjoyable experience for me and I hope it is one many will come to share in the future."

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