Humble 505 Games Sale: Up to 90% Off

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2019 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: humble, games, deals, 505 games

Forget the pasta, bring some Italian goodness into your life another way this week with the 505 Games Sale over at the Humble Store. Take your pick of 16 games and a dozen DLCs from the Italian game publisher at up to 90% off.

505games-humble.jpg

Titles include Assetto Corsa, ABZÛ, Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons, and Virginia. All games activate via Steam. The sale is on now through Monday, February 25th at 10:00 a.m. PST. Check it out to save some money on some great games, and don't forget to check the Charity box during checkout to help support some worthy causes.

PC Perspective is a Humble Partner, so we earn a small commission if you purchase any games from this sale via our link. We appreciate your support but if you want to check out the sale without supporting us, just use this unaffilaited link here.

Source: Humble Store

European Speedrunner Assembly (ESA) Winter 2019 Begins

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2019 - 11:27 AM |
Tagged: esa, speedrun, charity

Another video game speedrun marathon has just begun. The European Speedrunner Assembly (ESA) Winter 2019 event started a few hours ago, at 7am EST, and will continue until the games are done, which should be Saturday evening. The last item on the schedule is a race of Cuphead between kalevan_herra, Kirthar, and TwoCPlus in the All Bosses, Regular, Legacy category, although there is a $1,000 donation incentive where kalevan_herra will do an extra solo run of All Bosses, Regular, Current Patch after the race.

esa-2019-logo.png

One interesting feature of ESA is that they tend to run two streams with separate games. While the second stream is not online for the whole marathon, it allows them to separate out some (not all) of the long runs so that the main stream can have a faster pace. The Stream 2 game with the fastest estimate (2 hours and 10 minutes) is Jade Empire on Tuesday at 4:30pm EST, and Stream 2 game with the longest estimate (10 hours and 45 minutes) is Final Fantasy X on Thursday at 7am EST.

ESA Winter 2019 benefits Save the Children.

Source: ESA Marathon

Rumor: Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti Will Use Smaller TU116 GPU

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2019 - 10:34 AM |
Tagged: turing, tu116, nvidia, gtx 1660 ti, 12nm

The rumor mill is churning out additional information on the alleged NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti graphics card as it gets closer to its purported release date later this month. Based on the same Turing architecture as the already launched RTX series (RTX 2080, RTX 2070, RTX 2060), the GTX 1660 Ti will reportedly use a smaller TU116 GPU (specifically TU116-400-A1) and 6GB of GDDR6 memory on a 192-bit memory bus. Spotted by VideoCardz, TU116 appears to be pin compatible with TU106 (the GPU used in RTX 2060) but the die itself is noticeably smaller suggesting that TU116 is a new GPU rather than a cut down TU106 GPU with hardware purposefully disabled or binned down due manufacturing defects.

NVIDIA-GTX-1660-Ti-PCB.jpg

A bare MSI GTX 1660 Ti Ventus XS graphics card courtesy VideoCardz.

Rumor has it that the GTX 1660 Ti will feature 1536 CUDA cores, 96 Texture Units, and an unknown number of ROPs (possibly 48 though as the memory bus is the same as RTX 2060 with its 192-bit bus). Clockspeeds will start at 1500 MHz and boost to 1770 MHz. The 6GB of GDDR6 will be clocked at 6000 MHz. VideoCardz showed off an alleged MSI GTX 1660 Ti graphics card with the cooler removed showing off the PCB and components. Interestingly, the PCB has six memory chips on board for the 6GB GDDR6 with spots and traces for two more chips. Don't get your hopes up for an 8GB card however, as it appears that NVIDIA is simply making things easier on AIB partners by using pin compatible GPUs allowing them to reuse boards for the higher end graphics card models for the GTX 1660 Ti. The PCB board number for the GTX 1660 Ti is PG161 and is similar to the board used with RTX 2060 (PG160).

Enthusiasts' favorite twitter leaker TUM_APISAK further stirs the rumor pot with a leaked screenshot showing the benchmark results of a GTX 1660 Ti graphics card in Final Fantasy XV with a 1440p High Quality preset. The GTX 1660 Ti allegedly scored 5,000 points putting it just above the GTX 1070 at 4,955 points and just under the 980 Ti's 5052 score. Compared to the other side, the GTX 1660 Ti appears to sit between a presumably overclocked RX Vega (4876) and a Radeon Vega II (5283).

NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti Benchmark Leak.png

@TUM_APISAK shows off a FF:XV benchmark run including results from an unspecified GTX 1660 Ti graphics card.

Other performance rumors suggest that the GTX 1660 Ti will offer up 5.44 TFLOPs. RT cores are apparently cut (or disabled) in this GPU, but it is not clear whether or not the Tensor cores are intact (rumors seem to say yes though).

Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti graphics cards based on the TU116 GPU will reportedly start at $279 [update: VideoCardz claims the pricing has been confirmed from information given to reviewers] and may well launch as soon as February 22nd (though they've already missed one rumored launch date on the 15th...). Assuming for a minute the performance factors are true, it is interesting to see the smaller TU116 GPU with fewer CUDA cores at least getting close to GTX 1070 performance. The GTX 1070 uses the 16nm GP104 GPU (7.2B transistors) with 1920 CUDA cores (1506 MHz), 120 texture units, 64 ROPs, and 8GB of memory on a 256-bit bus clocked at 8000 MHz. The GTX 1070 offers up to 5.7 TFLOPS. Looking at the progress over the past few generations, it is neat to see that as architectures improve, they are able to do more work with less (but better/faster) CUDA cores. I would guess that the GTX 1660 Ti will not best the GTX 1070 in all games and situations though as the GTX 1070 does have more ROPs and more total memory (though the GDDR6 memory on GTX 1660 Ti does offer more bandwidth than the 1070's GDDR5 despite the smaller bus). Pricing will be interesting in this regard as the rumored price starts at $279 for GTX 1660 Ti. The cheapest GTX 1070 I found online at time of publication was $300 with most cards going for closer to $330+. We may see price drops on the older GTX 1070 cards as a result. GTX 1060 cards are going for $200+ and RX 580 cards are sitting at $190+, RX 590 at $260+, and Vega 56 prices starting at $330 (and go crazy high heh) so the GTX 1660 Ti may also push down the prices of the highe end and higher priced models of those cards as well.

What are your thoughts on the latest rumors?

Related reading:

Source: TechPowerUp

Arm will be extending it's reach in the next few years

Subject: General Tech | February 15, 2019 - 12:28 PM |
Tagged: v8.1-M, arm, helium, cortex

Today ARM will reveal what it has up it's sleeves, with an announcement about their updated Armv8.1-M.  This will add M-Profile Vector Extension to the current model, which will give a boost to it's ability to process input locally, without needing to connect to the cloud for back up.  It will also include Low Overhead Branch Extensions which will optimize the performance of onboard memory.  These two improvements, along with the others which you can read about at The Registerr will make your IoT devices a little more powerful in a few years, once Armv8.1-M hits the market.

ArmHelium_Fig3.png

"This technology is expected to be the foundation of future beefy Arm Cortex-M CPU cores that chipmakers can license and stick in their components."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register

PC Perspective Podcast #532 - EVGA NU Audio, Radeon VII Pro Drivers, and DLSS

Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2019 - 05:30 PM |
Tagged: sound card, radeon viii, podcast, Nu Audio, hyperx, evga, encrypted storage, DLSS, battlefield V, audiophile

PC Perspective Podcast #532 - 2/13/2019

This week we take a look at a high-end audio card from EVGA, a USB flash drive with built-in hardware encryption, and new gaming mouse from HyperX, the latest NVIDIA and AMD driver updates, and GTX 1660 Ti rumors.

Subscribe to the PC Perspective Podcast

Check out previous podcast episodes: http://pcper.com/podcast

Show Topics
00:07:14 - Review: EVGA NU Audio Card
00:26:26 - Review: iStorage datAshur Pro Encrypted USB Drive
00:32:41 - Review: HyperX Pulsefire Core Gaming Mouse
00:36:40 - News: AMD Radeon Adrenalin 19.2.2 Driver Update
00:42:04 - News: AMD Pro Driver Support for Radeon VII
00:47:18 - News: NVIDIA DLSS Driver & Battlefield V
00:59:07 - News: Microsoft Wants You to Dump Internet Explorer
01:03:12 - News: GTX 1660 Ti Spec Rumors
01:15:53 - Picks of the Week

Picks of the Week
Jeremy: 3D-Printed Rubber Band Gun
Josh: Cheap 1TB SATA SSD
Jim: Top Gun
Sebastian: Top Secret!

Today's Podcast Hosts
Sebastian Peak
Josh Walrath
Jeremy Hellstrom
Jim Tanous

Skip Ahead? Skip Way Ahead. Windows 10 20H1 Test Build

Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2019 - 03:23 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

Microsoft has pushed a test build for Windows 10 20H1, which is scheduled to be publicly released around April 2020. For context, we are currently on Windows 10 18H2 and Windows 10 19H1 is expected to ship in a couple of months (~April 2019).

Microsoft still plans on shipping Windows 10 19H2 around October 2019.

microsoft-2019-insidernarwhal.png

This decision was met with snark from some of the more prominent reporters on Microsoft and Windows. One issue that was raised is how the rings will be handled going forward. Currently, there does not exist a branch that contains 19H2. It seems likely that “Skip Ahead” will never drop back to 19H2, especially since rolling back from a preview build is generally unsupported. Will Microsoft continue to have “Skip Ahead” be two builds out, “Fast” be one build out, “Slow” be at most one build out, and “Release Preview” be incremental on the current build? Or will “Skip Ahead” kind-of roll back to “Fast” once the latter catches up and they no longer need to have a feature that requires an abnormally long testing branch?

As for the changes? Not a whole lot. One that stands out is a seemingly innocuous “updating the name of the Windows Light them to be Windows (light)”. This sort-of suggests themes that will not be Windows. I could see some sort of interface or theming update taking an abnormally long time… although I somewhat doubt that is the mystery big feature.

On the other hand, it must be something that Microsoft wants actively tested. Whether that’s automated (via telemetry on a wide array of computers) or through direct feedback from their users will need to be seen.

Source: Microsoft

Get some deep Tensorflow lovin' instead of the cupidity which is the hallmark of today

Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2019 - 12:24 PM |
Tagged: tensorflow, google, Downtiration, deep learning, ai

Downtiration is not a word, but then again what you are about to hear isn't exactly a song either, though is closer to one than many of the insipid honey drenched hits you are likely to hear today.  A company by the name of Search Laboratory fed Google's Tenserflow software with 999 love songs and let it assemble the new benchmark for sentimental songbirds.  It is also a great example as to the current limitations of AI and Deep Learning, regardless of what the PR flacks would have you believe.

You can thank The Register for the next two irrecoverable minutes of your life.

"The song, entitled 'Downtiration Tender love' was created by media agency Search Laboratory and its "character-based Recurrent Neural Network," that uses Google's open-source machine learning software, TensorFlow loaded up with 999 snippets from the world's greatest love songs."

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Source: The Inquirer

It's an Epic post-apocalyptic GPU Exodus

Subject: General Tech | February 13, 2019 - 02:53 PM |
Tagged: Metro Exodus, gaming, nvidia, amd, DLSS, ray tracing

The Guru of 3D took over two dozen cards on the Metro, with a focus on the DX12 render path with DX-R support which does make the NVIDIA results a bit more interesting for now.  If you are looking to play at 1080p with every bell and whistle on, you can scrape by on a GTX 1080 or Vega 56 but you should really consider bumping that to an RTX 2070 or Vega 64.  For 1440p gamers the new Radeon VII is capable of providing a good experience but you are far better off with an RTX 2080 or better. 

At 4k, well, even the RTX 2080 Ti can barely make 50fps, with the rest of the pack reaching 40fps at best.  As to the effects of DLSS and ray tracing on the visual quality and overall performance? Read on to see for yourself.

metroexodus_2019_02_11_18_00_57_304.jpg

"A game title of discussion and debate, yes Metro Exodus for the PC is here, and we're going to put it to the test with close to 30 graphics cards in relation to framerates, frame times and CPU scaling."

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Source: Guru of 3D

Recalculating ... time to arrival infinite minutes

Subject: General Tech | February 13, 2019 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: gps, 10 bit, Future, oh no

You might have missed something in 1999, while everyone focused on the other Y2K bug, which was older GPS devices going haywire.  This was because the date is stored as a 10 bit character which means that 1024 weeks after the start of the epoch, the dates on your GPS device rolls back to 0 and it is no longer able to give positional data as it depends on knowing when, as well as where you are.

On April 6th, this will happen once again and far more people are bound to notice than when this previously occurred.  There are ways to ensure that devices do not suffer this bothersome 10 bit problem but with the lack of news coverage and general awareness not many have bothered.  Devices which adhere to the ICD-200/IS-GPS-200 specification will have no problems whatsoever; but many devices did not originally and when was the last time you saw a firmware update for the GPS in your car?

As The Register puts it, "if your gadget goes haywire in April, it's probably because of this. If it works as normal: brilliant, it's not affected."

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"Older satnavs and such devices won't be able to use America's Global Positioning System properly after April 6 unless they've been suitably updated or designed to handle a looming epoch rollover."

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Source: The Register

Mozilla & Ubisoft "Clever-Commit" Deep-Learning Code Review

Subject: General Tech | February 12, 2019 - 05:52 PM |
Tagged: Rust, mozilla, deep learning, c++

The basic premise of “deep learning” is that you process big pools of data to try and find “good” and/or “bad” patterns. After you build up a set of trained data, you can compare new data against it to accomplish some goal.

In this case, Mozilla is using it to scan commits to the Firefox codebase as a form of automated code review. The system was originally developed by Ubisoft as Commit Assistant, which they have been using as a form of code analysis. Mozilla has since partnered with them, and will contribute to its ability to scan C++, JavaScript, and Mozilla’s own Rust language.

Other vendors, such as Microsoft and their IntelliCode system, have been using deep learning to assist in software development. It’s an interesting premise that, along with unit tests, static code analysis, and so forth, should increase the quality of code.

Personally, I’m one of those people that regularly use static code analysis (if the platform has a good and affordable solution available). It’s good to follow strong design patterns, but it’s hard to recover from the “broken window theory” once you get a few hundred static code analysis warnings… or a few hundred compiler warnings. Apathy just sets in and I just end up ignoring everything from that feedback level, down. It pushes me to, if I can control a project from scratch, keep it clean of warnings and code analysis issues.

All that is to say – it’ll be interesting to see how Clever-Commit is adopted. Since it’s apparently on a per-commit basis, it shouldn’t be bogged down by past mistakes. I wonder if we can somehow add that theory to other forms of code analysis. I’m curious what sort of data we could gather by scanning from commit to commit… what that would bring in terms of a wholistic view of code quality for various projects.

And then… what will happen when deep learning starts generating code? Hmm.

Source: Ars Technica

A real PNG in the arse for Android users

Subject: General Tech | February 12, 2019 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: Android, pie, nougat, Oreo, security

Careful what pictures you open up on your Android device as you may find yourself regretting looking at that meme.  Among the 42 new vulnerabilities listed in Android's newest Security Bulletin is a rather nasty one which could use a special PNG image to execute arbitrary code on your phone.  Currently unpatched, it affects even the newest Android Pie version and once a fix is determined, who knows how long it will take to propagate to your provider and your specific model of phone.  In the mean time surf carefully and take a peek at Slashdot for links to the other vulnerabilities, including 10 other critical ones.

totallylegit.PNG

"While this certainly doesn't apply to all images, Google discovered that a maliciously crafted PNG image could be used to hijack a wide variety of Androids -- those running Android Nougat (7.0), Oreo (8.0), and even the latest Android OS Pie (9.0),"

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Source: Slashdot

Google Chrome 73 Getting Media Keys Support

Subject: General Tech | February 11, 2019 - 08:20 PM |
Tagged: media keys, google, chrome

While the desktop version of Google Chrome has just been updated to 72, the next version, 73, will allow websites to bind JavaScript events to media keys. This means that websites will be able to listen to those buttons and respond accordingly, even if Google Chrome is a background application. Some websites should support this immediately, because it was already available on mobile, although I am not sure which ones and how.

google-2019-media-keys.jpg

Image Credit: Google

The update should be useful to those of us who, for example, listen to YouTube playlists. I am curious what sort of controls Google will add to tune its behavior. For instance, I probably do not want to close every old YouTube tab that I have laying around just so I can use Spotify in peace.

The feature will be added to Chrome OS, macOS, and Windows. Linux users will need to wait a little bit for some reason.

Source: Google

Skilled mouse with own tools, willing to work for cheap ... contact Talon Elite Gaming Gear Combo

Subject: General Tech | February 11, 2019 - 02:57 PM |
Tagged: thermaltake, thermaltake esports, Talon Elite RGB Gaming Gear Combo, PMW3325, input, gaming mouse

Thermaltake has a impressive offer for anyone who needs a new or back up rodent and doesn't want to spend a lot of money.  The Talon Elite RGB Gaming Gear Combo is a mere $30 and offers a mouse with a PMW3325 sensor, Omron switches, RGBs and a half dozen buttons, plus they've included a mouse mat. 

It isn't the best mouse that TechPowerUp has used, but you can't complain too much about a few imperfections at that price. Check it out here.

title.jpg

"When it comes to mice, Tt eSPORTS is mostly known for their great prices. The Talon Elite RGB Gaming Gear Combo is no different as it offers mouse and mouse pad for below $30. The mouse features a PMW3325 optical sensor, main switches rated for 20 million clicks, and, of course, a lot of great-looking RGB effects."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: TechPowerUp

GTX 1660 Ti-tillation for your Monday

Subject: General Tech | February 11, 2019 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: leak, nvidia, gtx 1660 ti

Today we have seen a lot of action surrounding the soon to be released GTX 1660 Ti, which at one point many considered a fantasy created by strange minds and not an upcoming product at all.  Doubt has been removed with the leak of details and pictures of packaging, spotted by WCCFTech and others.

Thanks to the packaging we know the card will have 6 GB GDDR6 VRAM, DirectX 12 support, ANSEL support and Turing Shaders, though no mention of Ray Tracing appears.  The back of the card features DVI-D, HDMI, Display Port and the Virtual Link connector which was missing from some custom RTX series cards.  Check out the link for more models from third party vendors.

PALIT-GeForce-GTX-1660-Ti-Specs-1480x1354.jpg

"Featuring the same Turing GPU architecture, the new GeForce GTX graphics cards will exclude Ray Tracing but feature faster shading performance through the enhanced GPU design while utilizing the 12nm process node."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: WCCFTech

Dey turk er jurbs! Microsoft is now mocking itself?

Subject: General Tech | February 8, 2019 - 01:11 PM |
Tagged: Internet Explorer 11, office 2019, office 359, office 365, microsoft

Microsoft recently release Office 2019, along with a series of videos about why you shouldn't buy it, one of which you can see at Ars Technica if you don't want to watch them all.  It does make sense financially as you will pay for Office 359 forever, while Office 2019 is a one time purchase, but mocking your own product is a bold move.

That is not the only self inflicted mockery coming from Redmond today, as they now refer to IE 11 as "a compatibility solution" and not a web browser.  As their other browser, the one you use to install Chrome, will soon be Chromium based which the competition seems to approve of.  

Considering how hard Microsoft fought to ensure IE remained an integral part of Windows, this seems a major sea change for the company.

ur2NTO4.jpg

"In an unusual turn of events, Microsoft this week warned Windows users off from using its Internet Explorer and dissed its new Office 2019 suite in a series of videos that show it to be worse than the competition."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: Ars Technica

Skype adds an AI powered f stop-ish feature

Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2019 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, skype, Skype 8

If you liked the look of Sebastian's video on the Podcast, but lack the funds to order the camera he was using that let him adjust the aperture for that effect then Microsoft has good news for you.  They are bringing the AI powered background blurring effect they rolled out in Teams to Skype 8, which will be arriving the same time as the desktop version we are used to kicks the bucket.  While the move to UWP has not been well received by many, perhaps this indicates Microsoft will be focusing on improving the single remaining version of Skype.

The Inquirer reminds you why blurring your background can be a good idea, if you had forgotten about this video.

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"Said release is Skype version 8, the first to exclusively use the Universal Windows (tiled) standard at the expense of the more feature-rich desktop version, though Microsoft has confirmed that it will be adding more familiar features to the new edition."

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Source: The Inquirer

PC Perspective Podcast #531 - Radeon VII Review, New Logitech Headsets, and More!

Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2019 - 09:54 AM |
Tagged: Z390, W-3175X, tuf, scythe, radeon vii, podcast, owc, logitech, Katana 5, gaming headset, g935, g432, DLSS

PC Perspective Podcast #531 - 2/6/2019

Join us this week for a look at the AMD Radeon VII launch and benchmarks, a review of a new TUF Z390 board from ASUS, new gaming headsets from Logitech, and more!

Subscribe to the PC Perspective Podcast

Check out previous podcast episodes: http://pcper.com/podcast

Show Topics
00:01:09 - Review: AMD Radeon VII
00:32:20 - Review: ASUS TUF Z390 Motherboard
00:39:50 - Review: Logitech G935 & G432 Headsets
00:43:57 - Review: Scythe Katana 5 CPU Cooler
00:46:25 - Review: OWC USB-C 3.1 Drive Dock
00:50:18 - Sponsor: Molekule
00:53:01 - News: NVIDIA DLSS Driver Update
00:57:30 - News: ASRock DeskMini A300 Mini-STX PC
01:02:24 - News: Intel Xeon W-3175X Availability
01:07:26 - News: Liquid-Cooled DDR4 Memory
01:10:00 - News: Synology DS1819+ NAS
01:15:29 - News: Misbehaving Canadian Telcos
01:17:56 - Picks of the Week

This episode is brought to you by Molekule. Get $75 off your first order by using promo code PCPER at checkout.

Picks of the Week
Jim: Humble Paradox Bundle
Jeremy: Fanatical Ancestor Bundle
Josh: Samsung BAR Plus Flash Drive
Sebastian: Sony a6000 Mirrorless Camera

Today's Podcast Hosts
Sebastian Peak
Josh Walrath
Jeremy Hellstrom
Jim Tanous

A new Star Wars game? No not that one, the other one ...

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2019 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: Star Wars, Respawn, Jedi: Fallen Order, gaming, ea

There is a possibility that Jedi: Fallen Order will actually arrive this year, according to EA's Q3 2019 earnings announcement.  This is not the one code-named RagTag which Visceral was working on until they were eviscerated, (or that other one) as it is still looking for a long term relationship with another developer.  We know very little about Fallen Order and EA remained very tight lipped when Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN inquired for more details

EA also confirmed that there will be a new Need For Speed as well as another Plants vs. Zombies, but the future of Titanfall is still a mystery to all. 

starwars1313.jpg

"EA chief operating officer Blake Jorgensen muttered in yesterday’s numberblast that they are looking forward to delivering Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order in the autumn, “new Plants vs. Zombies and Need for Speed titles”, and supporting Titanfall’s new free-to-play battle royale spin-off Apex Legends ..."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Chrome browser is hungry!

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2019 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: chrome, google, Chromium Gerrit

Chrome developers are working to end one of the internet's long standing gags, that of Chrome munching every bit of RAM it can get it's hands on.  The Chromium Gerrit project is in very early days and we don't have much information on it all except that they are working to develop a version of Chrome which "sets budgets for certain resource types".  The idea being that when you stop interacting with a page or tab, Chrome will stop large scripts from running until you start using that tab again. 

In theory this should provide a way to reduce the amount of system resources an idle page gobbles up, and The Inquirer, among others, hopes this will be more effective that current add-ons designed to do this.  With Microsoft intending to move Edge to Chromium, this will benefit quite a few people if ever successfully implemented.

RAM.png

"Full details are held on an unreleased design document, and we're far too early for even the Canary channel users to be seeing it in the wild - it may never happen at all, though it's very much hoped that it will."

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Source: The Inquirer

ASRock Launches DeskMini A300 Barebones Mini-STX PC Supporting AMD CPUs

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2019 - 02:01 AM |
Tagged: SFF, ryzen, mini-stx, barebones, asrock, APU, amd, AM4

ASRock is launching a new small form factor barebones system later this month that incorporates what the company claims Is the first Mini STX motherboard for AMD’s Zen-based processors (primarily APUs) using the AM4 socket, a tiny case, and optional accessories. The DeskMini A300 and A300W are barebones PCs where you are responsible for adding your own CPU, RAM, and storage. Measuring 155 x 155 x 80mm (approximately 6.1” x 6.1” x 3.15”), the 1.92-liter PCs sit somewhere between an Intel NUC and a Mini ITX build. The DeskMini A300 case is all black with subtle rounded corners, a stylized front panel, and ample square mesh ventilation grills along the top, left side, and back. Up front sits two audio jacks (mic/headphone), one USB 3.1 Type-C, and one USB 3.1 Type-A (both USB 3.1 Gen 1 / 5Gbps) and two USB 2.0 ports can be added via an optional front panel add-on using a header on the motherboard. Around back ASRock’s A300M-STX motherboard offers up one USB 3.1 (5Gbps), one USB 2.0, one Gigabit Ethernet, and three display outputs (one each of HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort). There is also a DC-in jack for power with the kit using a 19V 120W power brick.

ASRock DeskMini A300 Barebones PC Mini STX AMD AM4 Ryzen.png

Inside the case the DeskMini A300 uses the ASRock A300M-STM motherboard with measures 5” x 5”. While not the first Mini STX motherboard for AMD processors (Mini STX is generally an Intel form factor), it is reportedly the first for newer AMD chips using the AM4 socket. The board supports up to 65W CPUs and will generally only be used with APUs that have their own integrated graphics as this motherboard lacks a PCI-E x16 slot for installing a dedicated GPU. Granted, an enthusiast might well be able to use a CPU only Ryzen processor and sacrifice a M.2 slot to add in a GPU but then you would need a bigger case and at that point it might be easier to just go Mini ITX (Note that some Mini STX motherboards do support external graphics via MXM slots but those mainly mobile focused GPUs can come at a hefty premium). In any event, the AM4 socket is paired with two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots (up to 2933 MHz), two Ultra M.2 2280 slots for NVMe storage, one M.2 Key E for wireless modules, and two SATA 3 6Gpbs ports (RAID 0 and 1 are supported). ASRock sells an optional 65W CPU cooler, but if you plan to add your own height is limited to 46mm.

Audio is handled by the Realtek ALC233 codec/chipset while networking is handled by the Realtek RTL8111H NIC for wired and the Intel AC-3168 Wi-Fi for wireless (on the A300W SKU).

The DeskMini A300 barebones PC is slated for release later this month starting at $119 which gets you a tiny SFF motherboard, case, and power supply. Tom’s Hardware was able to get a hands-on look at the case and motherboard at CES and took several photos of the kit. It is an interesting product utilizing Mini STX and is nice to see an AMD option in this middle ground form factor.

Looking at the photos, the second M.2 slot as well as the CMOS battery being on the underside of the motherboard may prove to be rather inconvenient (it’s not clear if that case has a motherboard cutout for those areas or not). Using vertical SO-DIMM slots shouldn’t be a problem airflow wise in this case though and should be a bit sturdier than the angled approaches long term. Storage and other I/O seems decent especially considering this system uses the lower-end A300 chipset.

Hopefully reviewers (and modders!) will be able to get their hands on the small form factor hardware soon. What are your thoughts?

Related:

Source: ASRock