ARM follows Intel and AMD's 64 bit lead

Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2011 - 11:57 AM |
Tagged: cortex, ARMv8, arm, 64bit

We've now some more detailed information on ARMs new 64 bit ARMv8 processor and its strengths and weaknesses.  For the most part it resembles the 64 bit architecture that Intel and AMD use, an extended 32 bit architecture with several hold overs.  Perhaps the most disappointing is that ARM has the same 48 bit limit to virtual address space that the competition has.  If ARM had managed to overcome the limitations of canonical form addresses, they would have something that neither Intel nor AMD could bring to the server room. ARM desperately needs somthing to offer that the competition cannot if they are to convince admins to move from a familiar architecture to a brand new ARM architecture; power savings probably won't be enough.  Drop by The Inquirer to read up on the improved exception levels and encryption acceleration of the new ARMv8 architecture.

arm_holdings_arm_v8.jpg

"At the ARM TechCon conference in Santa Clara on Thursday, the top brass at ARM Holdings, the company that controls the core designs and licenses them to a slew of chip makers for modification in smartphones, tablets, and other embedded devices, showed off the new ARMv8 architecture. It's an incremental improvement over the current v7 architecture, just like the 64-bit extensions to the original 32-bit x86 processors from Intel and AMD were."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Now you’re thinking with Portals not cumbersome mod tools

Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2011 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: valve, Portal 2, editor

Now do not get me wrong, I have no problems with complicated modding tools that give you nearly endless power over your creations: I just think this is cool. Valve has announced on their official Portal blog that they are soon releasing a simplified puzzle creator for their popular crate dating sim, “Portal 2”. Along with the new editor for the mod creators themselves, mod consumers will have an easier time acquiring the puzzles they desire through Valve’s Steam Cloud service. According to the screenshots released by Valve, the puzzle creator looks startlingly like something out of the Sims -- potentially introducing more people into videogame modifications as a whole.

map_editor_01.jpg

Be honest… how many of you will search the item repository for cake?

Image from Valve Software

This news comes on the heels of free DLC released for Portal 2’s co-op mode earlier this month. As a part of the Steam Cloud integration, community features will allow you to follow certain mod developers that you find make levels that speak to you (like the companion cube) and keep up to date with their works. Unfortunately, with Valve, the duration between announcement and release could be Half of your Life so there is no guarantee when we will see the tools and features. If only they could give us our personal Jonathan Coulton bundled with the editor.

Source: Valve

Firefox PDF Reader Nearing Completion, Optional Extension Available Now

Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2011 - 05:56 AM |
Tagged: software, pdf, open source, mozilla, firefox, browser

One of the most useful features in Google’s Chrome web browser is the built in PDF reader. It is a feature that I use almost every day, and although I keep an install of Firefox’s Aurora browser as a backup I have yet to return to using Firefox as my main browser since first checking out Chrome.

I’ve been wanting an integrated PDF reader in Firefox for some time now, and if this story is correct, Mozilla may be one step closer to delivering just that. According to the article, Mozilla has been developing a PDF viewer built using HTML 5 and Javascript technologies. Currently the open source project is called PDF.js, and the development team is working on integrating it into Firefox.

For now though, the team has released PDF.js as a browser extension for the open source browser. In addition to the extension download, the source code is available on GitHub for anyone to view and edit.

PDFjs.png

PDF.js displaying a Dell service manual in PDF format.

As it is now, the PDF.js add-on rather basic, but is definitely off to a good start. You are able to navigate by sections or page thumbnails accessible by a mouse-over pop-up menu on the left of the window. Along the top are buttons for previous and next page, navigating to a specific page, zooming in and out, downloading, printing, and searching the PDF document.

During some informal testing using a 94 page Dell service manual in PDF form, scrolling was smooth enough until hitting a new page upon which there was a bit of lag. Navigating to specific pages was rather quick, however.

The PDF reader is off to a good start and I may have one more reason to switch back to Mozilla’s browser soon enough. What do you guys and gals think about built in PDF support, is it something you find useful during your daily browsing?  If you're interested in checking it out for yourself, the extension is available for download here.  Simply download this "pdf.js.xpi" file and install it (choose the Firefox or Aurora executable for installation if Windows does not assign the .xpi extension to Firefox automatically) using Firefox.  Now navigate to a PDF file on any webpage to have it automatically open using PDF.js.

Source: Geek.com

I heard you like Starcraft? Yeah, it Hyrules!

Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2011 - 02:33 AM |
Tagged: zelda, starcraft 2, starcraft, mod

So you may be aware by now that PC gamers often like to mess with their game and customize it as they desire. Sometimes you even see the magical situation where one game gets grafted into another like a turducken you can play with. You do not play with your food, do you? Regardless of your eating habits it is perfectly reasonable to play with a videogame in your videogame and could be reasonable in the near future to play some Zelda in your Starcraft.

Technically a turducken would be a Portal Gun inside Link to the Past inside Starcraft…

The mod appears to have made quite a bit of progress judging by three of their released videos. According to what I can tell: multiplayer is being worked upon, soldiers are related to zerglings by death, and chickens are no longer the most deadly beings of the land. Unfortunately, being that Link and the soldiers are the only units with attacks right now (so it would seem) it suffers from classic Starcraft 2 issues: Terran imba.

What do you think?

Source: Youtube

HP Reverses Plans to Spin Off Personal Systems Group

Subject: General Tech | October 28, 2011 - 05:58 PM |
Tagged: psg, PC, hp, business

A few months ago, there was talk coming from Hewlett-Packard regarding their Personal Systems Group, which is the OEM/PC Manufacturing aspect of the company. Management talked and seemed to decide that they would pull and IBM and sell off their PC division to become a services company. This plan was pushed by the (now) former CEO Leo Apotheker who came from a services background. The company stopped rolling out WebOS devices including the HP Touchpad, and was further considering getting rid of the whole PC division.

A surprising "whoops" emanated from HP today as the new CEO Meg Whitman reversed the previous plans to spin off the PC or Personal Systems Group division. According to Ars Technica, HP’s PSG isn’t going anywhere any time soon. The site quoted the new HP CEO in stating “it’s clear after our analysis that keeping PSG within HP is right for customers, and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees.” She believes keeping the Personal Systems Group makes HP stronger.

HP Logo.png

Not only is HP keeping the OEM aspects of the company alive, they are planning on expanding their current lineup in the mobile space with, and you guessed it, an ultrabook of all things! While this is likely much to the chagrin of our own Jeremy Hellstrom who would rather have 2 X79 motherboards duct taped together than an ultrabook, consumers and fans of a certain other fruit flavored slim form factor computer will likely appreciate some more competition in the ultrabook space to bring down prices a bit.

HP’s Executive Vice President over the PSG, Todd Bradley, has been quoted by several sites in a conference call yesterday as saying an HP Ultrabook is coming very soon. 

"We’re very focused on having a suite in that ultramobile space. And you’ll see that very soon."

-via Maximum PC

What do you think of this move? Does HP need a lesson in moderation in a time when they are either all on or all off on decisions (that are further flip flopping back and forth), or will jumping into the Ultrabook game be a good thing for the company?

Source: Ars Technica

Ultrabooks taking 1/4 of the mobile market? That's a lot of kool-aid to swallow

Subject: General Tech | October 28, 2011 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, Intel, market share

Everyone's current favourite kicking horse, the ultrabook, is poised to take over almost half of all consumer notebook sales by the end of 2012 ... at least according to what DigiTimes heard from Intel.  Even stranger is that instead of breaking out into laughter, the manufactures peg the likely market penetration at about 25%.   Currently there are models from Acer and ASUS which you can purchase for your very own, but don't go out looking for reviews of them.  You can find some quick previews and overviews but as far as performance testing you are not going to find the same information as is available for every other mobile form factor; take that as you will.

The Ultrabook is expensive, as SemiAccurate recently pointed out you can get better performance from a notebook half the price and almost the same size.  It also seems odd that a form factor specifically limited to only 50,000 units produced in the first run is going to take over the market.  Even with broader adoption from companies like Lenovo or Dell, the math does not seem to support a 25% share of the market, let alone 40% and requires you to completely ignore the willingness of the consumer to pay $1000+ for a mediocre laptop.  It is small and shiny though; never underestimate the draw of shinies!

NIMH_shiny.jpg

"While Intel aims to increase the proportion of ultrabooks among global shipments of consumer notebooks to 40% by fourth-quarter 2012, the proportion is estimated to only reach 20-25% based on current market conditions, according to sources from Taiwan-based notebook supply chain makers.

The sources pointed out that most suppliers are aggressively developing components for ultrabooks, but actual order volumes have so far been below their expectations. Although the suppliers all understand that ultrabook are still testing the water, weakening growth of the traditional notebook market and dropping profits have prompted them to put great hopes on the success of ultrabooks.

As for Intel's 40% goal, the sources pointed out that Apple's MacBook Air will become a strong threshold for ultrabooks since there is not yet a single product can outmatch the MacBook Air in terms of performance and price."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

Podcast #176 - X79 Motherboard Leaks, the Arrival of Ultrabooks, Lots of Gaming Talk, Viewer Questions and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2011 - 06:08 PM |
Tagged: x79, podcast, Intel, gaming, bf3

PC Perspective Podcast #176 - 10/27/2011

Join us this week as we talk about X79 Motherboard Leaks, the Arrival of Ultrabooks, Lots of Gaming Talk, Viewer Questions 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!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and sometimes Ryan Shrout

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 0:54:50

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:40 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:01:52 X79's from EVGA, four from Gigabyte and three from ASUS with Ivy Bridge still on time
  6. 0:08:00 Ultrabooks arrive to great indifference
  7. 0:13:01 ASUS N55 Core i7 15.6-in Notebook Review: Can One Laptop Do It All?
  8. 0:18:50 1050W Corsair HX1050 
  9. 0:23:20 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  10. 0:24:30 Bite me console boy
  11. 0:29:00 (Now playing live on) Arkham System Limits
  12. 0:31:48 BF3 system info and Fraggin' Frogs platoon with our own server
  13. 0:34:04 Skyrim system recommendations too ... please note DX9
  14. 0:35:30 Email from Corey about safe GPU temps
  15. 0:38:45 Email from Jon about what he NEEDS to play
  16. 0:44:05 Email from Thane from South Africa
  17. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  18. 0:44:30 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Ryan: Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Upgrade Cable USB 3.0 - STAE104
      2. Jeremy: Ha! Someone else's Ipad 2
      3. Josh: Since BD sorta fell down... Phenom II X6 1090T- watch for the sales
      4. Allyn: Ryan
  19. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  20. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  21. Closing

Source:

Hard Drive Prices Spike on Thailand Flooding

Subject: General Tech, Storage | October 27, 2011 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: wdc, shortage, Seagate, Samsung, hitachi, hdd, Hard Drive

Chances are good you have heard about the recent flooding in Thailand - as Yahoo puts it: "The country's worst flooding in half a century, caused in part by unusually heavy monsoon rain, has killed 373 people since mid-July and disrupted the lives of nearly 2.5 million."  Obviously this is a horrific disaster and we feel for the people affected by it.

But there is a tech angle to the story that has been showing up in many of our discussions as late and is the impact this disaster has had on the production of spindle-based hard drives.  Looking for a 2TB hard drive today on Newegg.com this is what I found:

price01.png

Prices for hard drives have sky rocketed in the last week or so due to the pending shortage of them across the world.  Many of the top manufacturers have facilities based in Thailand for production as well as partners that are responsible for supplying companies like Western Digital, Seagate, Samsung and Hitachi with the parts they need to produce platter-based drives. 

While we used to talk about finding 2TB hard drives in the $89 price range, the best prices we could find on comparable units today start at $129; and this is for the slower units.  Western Digital Caviar Black drives are starting at unit prices of $229 now!

price02.png

Pricing graph from Pricegrabber.com for Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB

If you are careful and shop around, you can still find drives like this for the $149 price point at sellers like Amazon are bit slower to update their prices.  (Scratch that, after publication this was already at $199!)  But don't just blindly purchase drives at this point - do your research!

WD drives aren't the only ones affected.  When doing a search for a Seagate 2TB drive, these were our results:

price03.png

When asked for comment, a representative of one of the affected manufacturers expressed concern for the people of Thailand first, but when pressed, said:

"The entire hard drive business is affected. Two of our factories are inundated with water, which supports 60% of our output. But a ton of suppliers that the entire industry uses are also flooded so we are all impacted."

While looking over at WD's press center we found this comment from John Coyne, President and CEO:

In mid-October, to protect our employees and our equipment and facilities, we temporarily suspended production at our two factories in Thailand, which have been inundated by floodwater. In addition, many of our component suppliers have been impacted, leaving material for hard drive production considerably constrained. We are working with suppliers to assess the extent of their impact and help devise short- and long-term solutions. This is a complex and dynamic challenge that will require extensive rebuilding for the Thai people and government, and present unprecedented obstacles to the hard drive industry for multiple quarters.

Obviously with a majority of the facilities affected we can only expect these prices hikes to increase and to linger.  That fact that Coyne specifically notes "multiple quarters" indicates that users likely won't see a return to the pricing we were used to until at least mid-2012.  With competition from solid-state drives heating up, this could be bad timing for companies dependent on spindle drives as the driving revenue source: comparing a $300 SSD to a $90 standard drive is a much different decision than that same $300 SSD and a $240 standard drive of high capacity. 

According to this report from Xbit labs, the industry has "two to four weeks" of hard drive inventory available.  The author claims that this points to the situation not being so dire, but with the WD's CEO stating the effects will be seen for "multiple quarters", I am guessing we will see a major buy-up of inventory from system builders like HP and Dell that will cause drive shortages much more quickly than anticipated.  

PC Perspective will keep tracking the effects on driving pricing and if any player in the business has other input they want to offer us.  Stay tuned!

A tiny little wireless keyboard and trackpad for your Bluetooth devices

Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2011 - 12:57 PM |
Tagged: input, keyboard, mobile, touchpad, chill innovation

The tiny Chill Innovation KB-1BT Bluetooth Micro Keyboard is 155mm x 61mm x 12mm (6.1" x 2.4" x 0.5") so you obviously can't expect full sized keys especially with the 31mm2 (1.2"2) trackpad on the side.  What you can expect is to hook up the keyboard wirelessly to any device that can manage Bluetooth, the USB connection is to recharge the keyboard. MektuMods enjoyed using the device but question its value, the model they reviewed was 70 Euros (~$100USD) to purchase.

MM_bundle.jpg

"There are several keyboard/mouse bundles available these days. The new KB-1BT combines these two items into a single package. This is something that one could imagine using while watching movies via HTPC or writing a document with an iPad. So, is it worth your money? Let us find out..."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: MektuMods

Intel watches sadly from a window as HP goes out ARM in ARM with Caxeda

Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2011 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: arm, hp, servers, Calexda, MIPS, Godson

There have been many discussions as of late on the eventual arrival of ARM in the server room, with AMD and Intel suffering the losses.  A company called Calexda has made the possibility into reality with their own custom designed ARM chips. They figure on cramming 120 of the processors into a 2U box with incredibly low power draw; in the neighbourhood of a 90% reduction.  AMD's customers may stay with an architecture that they know, however Intel stands to lose power conscious customers if Calexda can provide performance and compatibility.  SemiAccurate also touches on Lenovo's investigation of building servers based on a MIPS design called Godson.

CalxedaX2.jpg

"According to a report from Bloomberg News Service HP (NYSE:HPQ) will start manufacturing servers based on the ARM architecture in a sharp departure from its previous Intel-only design philosophy.

The processors for the HP servers will come from the startup Caxeda, which is partly owned by ARM. Caxeda is planning a quadcore processor based on the ARM Cortex-A9 design."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: SemiAccurate

Google Updates Chrome With Streamlined New Tab Page

Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2011 - 12:33 AM |
Tagged: Internet, google, chrome, browser

Google has been playing around with the "new tab" page in the beta and development builds of Chrome to streamline the interface, and the company has recently rolled one such update into the latest stable release of the popular browser.

Chrome_New New Tab Interface.png

The new tab page is the page that you are presented with when first firing up Chrome or hitting the new tab button(s).  The new interface is much more streamlined than the old one, and has rearranged several items.  The old interface showed everything all on one canvas; however, the updated new tab page has separated the most visited tabs from the Chrome Apps which now have their own page.  Users are able to navigate between the most visited tabs page and applications page by clicking on the tabs at the bottom of the screen or moving the mouse to the side of the browser window and using the arrows that appear upon mouse-over.

Chrome_Compare.png

Further, where the recently visited/closed web pages horizontal list resided below the most visited tabs on the old interface, in the new interface Google has decided to hide the recently used list.  It can now be accessed by clicking on a menu item in the bottom right corner of the browser window.

Chrome_Recently Closed.png

Google has also made it a bit easier to organize applications.  You can now click and drag applications around to organize them.  When clicking and holding an application, a new recycle bin option appears in the lower right corner of the window that will allow you to remove applications.  Removing is now a matter of clicking and dragging items into the "Remove from Chrome" area.  This remove / uninstall feature is also available when clicking and holding on the most visited tabs on the tabs page.  Finally, the various icons have been given a slight makeover and now are presented with a shiny mouse-over effect.

Google has provided a quick video overview of the interface changes.

Personally, after playing around with the new interface for a few hours now I prefer it to the old way of doing things as it allows for larger "most visited" icons due to having a greater percentage of the Chrome window area available to it (as opposed to the old interface where it was a bit crowded and things tended to fight to attention).  Further, I rarely use the applications, so having them hidden away in their own section is okay with me.  It definitely seems to have been (at least slightly) by tablets and touch interfaces; however, unlike Netflix's recent tablet inspired redesign i actually like the improvements Google has made.  What are your thoughts on the improvements?

Source: Google

For those looking at the internet and not Battlefield 3

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2011 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: gaming, battlefield 3, tweaks

For those of you who already know if their machine can get the most out of Battlefield 3; you probably aren't reading this post as you are playing right now.  For those of you who have yet succumb to EA's new client and installed BF3 or for those who haven't the time to fully tweak the settings to get the most graphical goodness out of the newest instalment to the Battlefield series, [H]ard|OCP has done quite a bit of work pegging down what performance you can expect.  GTX 580s against HD 6970s in both single and multiple card configurations against themselves as well as against each other in single player and they delve into multiplayer settings as well as commenting on the out of game server browser and what it brings to your non-BF3 experience.

H_BF3_Graphics.jpg

"Battlefield 3 just landed to excited gamers everywhere today. We've got a preview of performance in single player mode and a look at multiplayer mode. If you are going to be playing this game today, or this week, you will want to give this a read for a preview of what performance to expect."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Bulldozing through Linux benchmarks

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2011 - 12:15 PM |
Tagged: amd, bulldozer, FX 8150, linux

With the lacklustre performance we saw from AMD's new Bulldozer CPUs on Windows except in seriously multi-threaded applications; it is with a hopeful heart that Phoronix tests the performance of the FX-8150 under Ubuntu 11.04.  There are a lot of benchmarks to go through, from general performance to specific AMD-centric tests to those focusing specifically on multi-threaded performance and even a look at the bundled watercooler.  Read through the benchmarks they've run themselves as well as user submitted test and then realize that this is only the first of a series of articles they are working on ... so for now they hold judgment on AMD's newest product.

phoronix_8150.jpg

"Two weeks ago AMD introduced the Bulldozer FX-Series CPUs to much excitement, although many were letdown by the initial results, and it was months after showing the first Linux benchmarks of an AMD Dual-Interlagos pre-production system. In the days that followed I delivered some initial AMD FX-4100 Linux benchmarks when securing remote access to a low-end Bulldozer system running Ubuntu 11.04 (and there were also some Linux benchmarks from independent Phoronix readers), but then last week a Bulldozer kit arrived from AMD. The centerpiece of this kit is an eight-core AMD FX-8150 CPU, which is now being used to conduct a plethora of AMD Bulldozer benchmarks on Linux."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Source: Phoronix

A milquetoast reception to the next generation of GPUs

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2011 - 11:56 AM |
Tagged: gpu, amd, nvidia, southern islands, kepler, TSMC, 28nm

While most enthusiasts are living up to the name as far as the build up to the coming GPU refreshes from both AMD and NVIDIA is concerned, the manufacturers are quite the opposite.  There are several probable reasons for this attitude, not least of which are the number of HD 6570s and GTS 450s that are still in their stock.  Remember those cards from back in the spring of this year, which were the high end of a huge range of GPUs from both companies spanning $20 to either side of $100?  Think that with the current generation of Llano and SandyBridge that any knowledgeable person is going to purchase one, let alone when you consider how close the release of next generation of APUs is?  The two major players in the discrete GPU market not only updated the top end of their cards quickly over the past several quarters there was a widening of the market which saw current generation cards available from ~$75 to ~$750 with some segments separated by as little as $10.  That translates to huge inventories at the manufacturer level which they then have to convince resellers and retailers to purchase for stock to sell to the consumer and many of those cards are still sitting there collecting dust.  No wonder these same companies are leery of purchasing more stock before finding a way to recover some profit from the stock they have now.

To make things even worse there exist doubts about the 28nm process from TSMC, which DigiTimes discusses here.  While AMD is still claiming delivery of HD7000 family cards before the coming year, the troubles that NVIDIA seems to be having with the same process concerns those who need to be able to buy large volumes of chips in order to turn a profit selling graphics cards.  Even worse is the realization that the first cards NVIDIA will be releasing are simply a die shrink, without architectural changes.  When two companies go to the same source for the same thing and one reports getting apple cider and the other apple vinegar, you really have to start to wonder what is really going on. 

ryans_stacked.jpg

"While Nvidia and AMD are poised to use Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC's) 28nm technology to produce the GPUs Kepler and Southern Islands respectively, most Taiwan-based graphics card makers hold a conservative attitude about the new GPUs with some makers cautiously watching the market status before making any further decisions, according to industry sources.

Compared to the makers' eagerness for the previous-generation GPUs, graphics card makers are rather conservative about the upcoming 28nm chips due to concerns such as TSMC's weak 40nm process yield rate issues may re-occur in its 28nm process and weakening demand for graphics cards and lower-than-expected gross margins."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

HP Testing Windows 8 Developer Preview on Touchpad Tablets

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 25, 2011 - 10:17 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, webOS, touchpad, tablet, slate, hp

The HP Touchpad was tablet that ran HP's WebOS mobile operating system.  It was also a tablet with an extremely short lifespan, one that was ended long before its time according to the sentiments of many enthusiasts.  The tablet's demise was a casualty of the company's former CEO Léo Apotheker getting rid of HP's PC division, and it started going for fire sale prices only a few weeks after its initial release.

There may yet be hope for the tablet, however.  According to Fox News, an HP employee has told them that a team within the company is playing around with the (not so) dead HP Touchpad tablets by replacing the WebOS operating system with Windows 8 Developer Preview.

hp_win8.png

It seems as though the idea of a Windows powered slate may be something that HP is willing to try out.  Although slates nor convertible tablets have never really caught on (at least in the US) due to Windows not being the most touch friendly interface, with the rise in popularity of tablets and Microsoft beginning to put a bit more care into a touch friendly UI, HP may be weighing the odds of a Windows 8 powered slate computer.  If; however, HP goes ahead with the previous plans to ditch the PC division, the idea of a HP Touchpad reincarnation may be moot anyway.

If the souce turns out to be true; however, there may be hope for a new HP Touchpad in the future sans WebOS.  Do you think HP will go ahead with the plan to follow in the footsteps of IBM, or will it give its PC division and(/or) touchpad tablet line a second chance?

Source: Fox News

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC System Requirements Revealed

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2011 - 06:19 PM |
Tagged: skyrim, PC, gaming

Although most of you are busy blasting away at Battlefield 3, there are likely quite a few that are also interested in the RPG genre, and in that vein Kotaku has recently gotten their hands on and released the minimum and recommended system requirements for the upcoming Elder Scrolls: Skyrim PC game.  Keep in mind when looking at the recommended system requirements, that they are for running the game at "High" graphics settings and not "Ultra" which will require more powerful specifications.

Skyrim_elf.jpg

Source: Gameinformer

The minimum system requirements for Skyrim are as follows:

CPU (Processor) Dual Core @ 2.0 GHz
GPU (Graphics Card) DirectX 9c compatible w/ 512MB RAM
RAM (System Memory) 2GB
OS (Operating System) Windows XP, Vista, or 7 (32 or 64 bit)

 

Those are fairly tame, and most computers around today should be able to at least run the game, with some concessions.  The recommended system requirements bump things up a bit for those that prefer shinier graphics in their RPGs.

CPU (Processor) Quad Core Intel or AMD
GPU (Graphics Card) DirectX 9 compatible w/ 1GB RAM
  AMD 4890 or Nvidia GTX 260 or higher
RAM (System Memory) 4GB
Sound Card DirectX compatible
OS (Operating System) Windows XP or 7

 

Interestingly (though not surprisingly to some), Windows Vista doesn't make the list for recommended specs, which may or may not be a mistake.  As you can see, even the recommended specifications aren't too high, at least compared to other (more demanding) new releases this year.  Is your PC ready for Skyrim?

Source: Kotaku

"We do not see the PC as the leading platform for games," my sweet patootie

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2011 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, jon peddie

When the senior gaming analyst from Jon Peddie Research notices that smartphone and tablet gaming is resulting in a direct increase in gaming on laptops and desktops you really have to wonder where Carmack formed his belief that the days of PC gaming are kaput.  As well a growing trend in Asia where you can go to a boutique style PC store, purchase your components and build your machine in store with the assistance of employees there is obviously a growing market of PC gamers.  DigiTimes does point out that the actual estimated growth for PC gaming hardware did shrink from $22 billion to $19 billion, but any industry seeing 11% growth in market is not dying.  From the sounds of JPR's research, mobile gaming grows the PC gaming market, not the console market.

NOT.png

"Jon Peddie Research (JPR) has announced its latest figures on the PC gaming hardware market for the second half of 2011 and forecast to 2014.

In 2011, over 250 million game capable home and personal use PCs will ship. To get a sense of perspective, only 220 million PS3, the Wii, and Xbox 360 consoles have shipped since the era of the modern console began in 2005.

PC gaming hardware will grow at a rate of 11% through 2014. However, the ongoing economic recession is having its effect on even the gaming market. Taking the reality into consideration, JPR has reduced its 2011 global PC Gaming hardware market estimate to US$19 billion from US$22 billion.

Nevertheless PC gaming activity (as opposed to sales) has increased in 2011 as evidenced by ongoing game sales and online activity. JPR has raised estimates of the number of people playing PC games from their previous forecast by 3% for 2011. With a base of about a half billion people who regularly engage in PC gaming, gaming is an attractive market for hardware manufacturers, many of whom consider gamers in their product design and marketing."

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Source: DigiTimes

Not 2.1 nor 5.1, these headsets go to 7.1

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2011 - 12:09 AM |
Tagged: gaming headset, audio, 7.1 headset

With 7.1 sound came the idea that you could control the vertical as well as the horizontal.  This was usually achieved with a setup that included not only an above average amount of speakers but also a knowledge of the space you were filling with sound and an obnoxious amount of money spent on a stereo system.  Is it possibly true that you can reproduce the same feeling with an $85 pair of USB headphones?   OCC says maybe ... but you won't be disappointed by the sound when you are gaming and you might just develop an edge.

OCC_roccat.jpg

"Now that I have made it obvious why you need a headset let me introduce the one up for review. ROCCAT has had a lot of new products released for US purchase recently after being founded in Germany back in 2007. One of its newest products available over at Newegg.com is the ROCCAT Kulo Virtual 7.1 Gaming Headset. The key here is the "virtual" tag in the product name. As it turns out, the 7.1 is a function of a stereo output rerouted through an included USB sound card. Thus it is not true 7.1 quality but perhaps it is still a great headset. Let’s take a gander at how the Kulo Headset looks and also listen to the beauty that comes from those earmuffs."

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Don't worry AMD fans, there's an ultrabook clone coming soon

Subject: General Tech | October 24, 2011 - 06:43 PM |
Tagged: amd, ultrabook, Deccan, Kerala

Not to be deterred by the issues that Intel has run into trying to out Macbook Apple, AMD will also be jumping on a notebook similar to the Ultrabook.  The successors to Brazos will be competing against Ivy Bridge and Haswell, so hopefully the statement that DigiTimes makes about vastly improved performance and power usage reduction are true.  AMD is also lookign to refresh the chips they've designed for use in tablets which you should be able to get your hands on before the end of the year, if GLOBALFOUNDRIES can produce enough chips.

acer-amd-tablet.jpg

"AMD has made plans for ultrabook-like products for the next two years – in 2012, AMD will launch the Deccan platform to replace Brazos and will launch Kerala in 2013.

Since AMD's share in the global CPU market has been around 20% in recent years while the company has about 10% share in the global notebook CPU market, AMD is preparing plans for ultra-thin notebooks hoping to raise its share in the notebook CPU market.

In June 2012, AMD is set to launch Deccan, featuring Krishna and Wichita-based APUs and will upgrade to Kerala featuring Kabini-based APUs. With the upgrades, the overall performance and power consumption of AMD's platforms are expected to see an extraordinary improvement, allowing AMD to compete against Intel's Ivy Bridge platform in 2012 and Haswell platform in 2013.

For the traditional notebook market, AMD has already launched its Llano-based Sabine platform to replace Danube, but due to Globalfoundries' weak 32nm yield rates and production issues, supplies of Llano APUs has been limited, which should impact AMD's future plans for the notebook market. However, within AMD's latest plans, the company is set to launch the Comal platform, featuring Trinity-based APUs, for 2012 and will upgrade to the Indus platform in 2013 using Kaveri-based APUs.

As for the tablet PC market, AMD will push the Brazos platform with Windows operating system to target the enterprise market in 2011. In the second quarter of 2012, AMD will launch the Brazos T platform that features Hondo APUs and in 2013 will release the Samara platform, which features a similar architecture as its ultra-thin platform."

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Source: DigiTimes

Ubuntu Extends Long Term Release Support Time

Subject: General Tech | October 22, 2011 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: ubuntu 12.04, ubuntu, support, LTS

Canonical, the makers of Ubuntu, has announced that they are extending the support of LTS (long term support) releases to five years. Currently, the LTS releases of Ubuntu are supported for up to three years on desktops.

The new support time-line will start with the fourth long term support (LTS) release which will be Ubuntu 12.04. The 12.04 release is slated to debut in April 2012; therefore, support for the operating system would continue until April of 2017. That should be more than enough time for desktop users to find updated software or jump to another release if they don’t want to update to the latest Ubuntu release at that time.

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Canonical's proposed release schedule.

Further, the support schedule is broken down into two periods. For the first two years of the operating system’s lifetime, the OS will receive regular hardware updates via point releases. After that two year period, the remaining three years will be relegated to maintenance and security updates. One interesting thing about the LTS release support schedule lies in the fact that after the two years of hardware support updates, it will be time for the next LTS release (Ubuntu 14.04 in this case) thanks to the way the releases are staggered. This would enable businesses to update straight from the end of one LTS release to the next and maintain current with hardware updates as well as extending support even further.

The overlapping support schedule and extended support time-line are said to be the result of Canonical wishing to make enterprise customers happy. The Ubuntu Engineering Director, Rick Spencer, stated that although Ubuntu has traditionally been known for quick updates and keeping up with the latest applications and hardware, the “ability to plan for the longer term is vital.” OEMs are also likely to appreciate the longer support schedule as well in that they will be able to offer software to customers that is good for five years instead of three.

What are your thoughts on the LTS Ubuntu releases?

Source: Canonical