Dell Executive Projects Five-Year Growth in Gaming PCs

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2017 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, dell

DigiTimes published a couple of statements from Dell’s senior vice president of Consumer Product Marketing, Raymond Wah, regarding the company’s view on the PC gaming industry. We’ll start with the two quotes, below.

Electronic sports (e-sports) and VR (virtual reality) are main growth drivers for gaming PCs, Wah said, adding gaming is becoming e-sports and this is a global trend. Continual gaming content updates push hardware developers to upgrade the specifications of gaming PCs, Wah indicated. The number of e-sports fans will increases to 145 million in 2017.

In line with gaming PC marketing, Dell has sponsored e-sports events and cooperated with movie producers, Wah indicated. Dell has also begun to set up gaming PC retail outlets at Best Buy chain stores in the US and plans to set up 50 outlets in total.

The article also mentions that he expects that the demand for gaming PCs will continue for five years, unlike the rest of the PC market, which is projected to shrink. It goes on to add that the company is pushing gaming products under two brands now, both Alienware and their general public-focused Inspiron line.

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Many of our readers are probably comfortable assembling their own PCs, but getting OEMs involved adds the whole segment of users who would be comfortable sacrificing cost or performance to offload that hassle. That’s a positive note that I think is often lost on PC enthusiasts. Just because shaving out middle-people makes the transaction more efficient, doesn’t mean that there’s no valid reason to pay a big OEM, or even a small business, local computer store, to handle it.

If he’s right, the next five-plus years should be good for us, too.

Source: DigiTimes

Rocket League Free Weekend and Sale

Subject: General Tech | May 5, 2017 - 07:13 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming

Just a quick note for our readers: Rocket League is having a free weekend, accompanied by a 30%-off sale. If you haven’t played the game, Steam says that you currently have one day and twenty hours (and 45 minutes) left to download, install, and play the title.

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The 30%-off promotion applies equally to the base game, the four-pack, and the Game of the Year edition. Each of these deals outlives the free weekend by a day, so you can spend Sunday afternoon deciding whether rocket-powered car-soccer is worth your hard-earned cash.

The free weekend ends at 4PM EDT on Sunday, while the sale goes until 1PM EDT on Monday.

Source: Steam

CORSAIR Announces GLAIVE RGB Mouse

Subject: General Tech | May 5, 2017 - 06:48 PM |
Tagged: corsair, glaive rgb, gaming mouse

A new mouse, with Omron-based mechanical switches, has been announced by CORSAIR. The GLAIVE RGB is right-handed asymmetric, so lefties (like myself) who are looking for a left-handed or ambidextrous mouse will need to look elsewhere. For right-handed users, however, it includes three different thumb grips, giving it a few different feels, although they don’t state the specific styles that each is supposed to cater to (if you are very particularly about your hand position during gaming). You will want to check out reviews to find that sort of info out.

The switches are rated to 50,000,000 clicks.

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The sensor is created by PixArt, model PMW3367 that, according to CORSAIR, has been customized in some way. The DPI ranges between 100 and 16,000, with the specific values stored on the mouse, within its 8MB of memory. This storage also saves lighting effects and macros, which should mean that, unlike Razer Synapse, you won’t have your button bindings flip a handful of seconds after boot. There are six programmable buttons on the device and the mouse wheel is made of aluminum with a rubber grip.

The CORSAIR GLAIVE RGB is available now. It’s currently listed for $69.99 on Amazon.

Source: CORSAIR

Google doesn't seem to mind SilverPush and your phones surreptitious addiction to advertisments

Subject: General Tech | May 5, 2017 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: fud, silverpush, security

In 2015 we learned enough about SilverPush to worry security wonks about its ability to track your phone without your knowledge.  Several hundred apps available on the Google Play store have SilverPush and do not inform users that the apps utilize that software to track your whereabouts without your knowledge which would seem to be in direct contravention of Google's stated requirements.  That is more upsetting than the actual tracking.

SilverPush laden apps listen for tones broadcast at 18kHz to 20kHz which is inaudible to the vast majority of humanity.  When they receive that tone the app which has SilverPush sends out a signal which can be used to locate you, to track your progress through a store or to verify that you are watching a particular advertisement.  The creators of the software stopped development back in 2015 and have found this revelation rather confusing according to Ars Technica.

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"Almost a year after app developer SilverPush vowed to kill its privacy-threatening software that used inaudible sound embedded into TV commercials to covertly track phone users, the technology is more popular than ever, with more than 200 Android apps that have been downloaded millions of times from the official Google Play market, according to a recently published research paper."

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Source: Ars Technica

Contest: Win an ASUS GTX 1070 8GB or GTX 1050 Ti Dual-fan OC Card!

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 5, 2017 - 10:14 AM |
Tagged: gtx 1070, GTX 1050 Ti, giveaway, geforce, contest, asus

With spring filling us with happy thoughts, our friends at ASUS are gracing us with some hardware to giveaway - that's right, it's time for a contest!

Here's what's on the docket for our readers and fans:

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The ASUS Dual-fan line is a great option for gamers that want to balance performance and value and are quieter, cooler, and faster than reference specs. 

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How do you enter? Use the form below!

Win an ASUS GeForce® GTX 1070 8GB Dual-fan OC Edition!!

I do have to apologize - this contest is open to US and Canada (except Quebec) residents only. Sorry!

A HUGE THANKS goes to our partners at ASUS for supporting PC Perspective and our raders with this great contest! Good luck to everyone!

Blender 2.8 Progress: Viewport and Cycles

Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2017 - 09:20 PM |
Tagged: Blender

The Blender Foundation is currently working on two different branches of their popular 3D suite, Blender 2.79 and Blender 2.8. We have discussed the former quite a bit, which is expected to code freeze within the next month or so, but the latter has been making noteworthy progress all along, too. It is focused on workflow changes, which includes updating the viewport renderer, both for preview as well as fast rendering of scenes that don’t require full ray-traced quality.

In this case, Blender Developers has released a video showing off how Cycles and Viewport can be combined. While you can preview what Cycles will output in the viewport already, enabling that rendered shading mode disables UI elements, like the movement widget. They are now being combined, and the Blender Foundation is aiming to make it fast enough for practical use.

Preview builds of Blender 2.8 are available now, and the Blender Foundation wants users to play around with them. Be careful using it for critical projects, though, because save files might not be 100% compatible, forward or backward, above and beyond the obvious stability concerns.

The Qualcomm and Apple spat heats up

Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2017 - 12:59 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, apple, sueball

Qualcomm and Apple are already at loggerheads over the possible dirty trick played in the iPhone7 to ensure that Intel powered iPhone models performed the same as the ones with Qualcomm inside.  Slashdot and other sources have reported on a somewhat related feud taking place, which has lead Qualcomm to reach out to the US based ITC to block the import of iPhones into the US.  It seems that last month Apple decided not to pay Qualcomm royalties on their phone sales, which is owed due to core patents Qualcomm holds on mobile communications chips.  Apple's defence is the fact that Qualcomm gets a cut even in devices without a single Qualcomm component while Qualcomm points out the it is their patents which generate the fee, not their hardware.

It will be interesting in this current environment to see how the US based Qualcomm fares against Apple and their products, which are made in Asia.

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"Qualcomm is preparing to ask the International Trade Commission to stop the iPhone, which is built in Asia, from entering the country, threatening to block Apple's iconic product from the American market in advance of its anticipated new model this fall, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private."

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Source: Slashdot

The all new and improved version of the new and improved S.T.A.L.K.E.R.; the Lost Alpha gets a Directors Cut

Subject: General Tech | May 3, 2017 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: gaming, stalker, lost alpha, kick ass, directors cut

Many many moons ago, the lost Alpha version of S.T.A.L.K.E.R., which included vehicles and some rather interesting new fauna to chew on your innards was released to the world to allow them to revisit the Zone as it was originally imagined.  The released game was much smaller, as the habit developers have of initially overreaching the scope of their games is nothing new.  What is new is the Developer's Cut of the Lost Alpha which you can now get hold of to play, though the installation process is a little intricate as you can see from the instructions Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN have provided. 

The original Lost Alpha now incorporates game mechanics which were added in Call of Pripyat as well as updates to the engine and various other features.  If you have fond memories of the Zone, you should head back in to see what is new.

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" You might remember Dezowave reluctantly released 2014’s unfinished (but still great) version after scamps leaked a rough development build. Now they’ve launched what they’re calling the Developer’s Cut of Lost Alpha, fixing bugs and making it even bigger. Have a look."

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Vega's specs grow less vague

Subject: General Tech | May 3, 2017 - 01:00 PM |
Tagged: rumour, amd, VGA, DRM

DRM finally did something good for us; revealing detailed information on AMD's new GPU.  In this case the DRM is a portion of the Linux kernel which interfaces with the GPU and some inquisitive minds dug through the code to find details on Vega, which will be supported by this new version of DRM.

This is still in the realms of rumour, but the source is very good as AMD would not likely enter the wrong specifications into this update.  According to the specs which wccftech compiled from the code, Vega features 64 compute units, each containing 64 GCN stream processors, the 4096 SPs will be split into four Shader Engines.  A little math, based on the stated performance figures of 12.5 TFLOLPS for FP32 and 25 TFLOPS for FP16 operations, the GPU should clock above 1.5GHz.  There were no details on the memory frequency though as it uses HBM2 we know it will have a 2048-bit interface which could lead to some interesting performance numbers.

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"Thanks to the latest Linux graphics driver update submitted by AMD we now have detailed specifications of the upcoming Radeon RX Vega GPU. The DRM, Direct Rendering Manager, update to Linux was issued yesterday and it’s the first update to date that adds comprehensive Vega feature support to Linux. No doubt in preparation for Vega’s launch which is expected to take place at the end of the month."

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Source: wccftech

Microsoft Announces Windows 10 S for Education

Subject: General Tech | May 2, 2017 - 10:16 AM |
Tagged: Windows 10 S, windows 10, windows, OS, operating system, microsoft, Education

Microsoft has introduced a new version of Windows 10 today during their education event, with low-cost education-specific laptops (starting at $189) to feature Windows 10 S, a lightweight edition of the OS for education.

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During the presentation it was revealed that the only way to install applications that are not found within the Windows store on Windows 10 S would be to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. The installation and configuration saves to a USB key that saves the state of the student’s laptop, so that any laptop in the school can be used by the student after inserting their USB key, which reconfigures the OS to the last state used with that key.

Microsoft demonstrated the speed of their streamlined version of the OS with a first boot, which took around 10 seconds on a new machine due to the stripped-down features and limited pre-installed applications. Windows 10 S will be available free to all schools on their current "genuine Window Pro PCs", and free subscriptions to Microsoft Office 365 and Minecraft: Education Edition were also announced.

Windows 10 S will arrive this summer, and while a future on low-cost consumer devices for a Windows Store-only version of the OS seems likely, Windows 10 S seems geared specifically for the education sector for now.

Source: Microsoft

The $100 Pinebook; usable as a laptop?

Subject: General Tech | May 1, 2017 - 01:54 PM |
Tagged: pinebook, arm, Cortex A53. ubuntu

Pinebooks are built around the same ARM Cortex A53 that the kickstarted Pine board utilized, but instead of being a Raspberry like board, it is a built to order laptop.  The 11.6" model is $89 and the 14" model will cost you $99.  The screen is 1366×768, it comes with a 640x480 camera as well as a pair of USB ports, audio, miniSD and miniHDMI connectors.  Hack a Day ordered one and found that in some ways this is still a work in progress as there are issues with some of the outputs which may soon be addressed in an update to the Ubuntu MATE 16.04 OS it runs.  Still a laptop for less than $100 is impressive and might be worth tinkering with, take a more detailed look here.

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"The Pine A64 was a 64-bit Quad-Core Single Board Computer which was kickstarted at the tail end of 2015 for delivery in the middle of 2016. Costing just $15, and hailed as a “Raspberry Pi killer,” the board raised $1.7 million from 36,000 backers. It shipped to its backers to almost universally poor reviews."

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Source: Hack a Day

Is iFi Audio the best choice for a name, let alone a tiny DAC?

Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2017 - 02:19 PM |
Tagged: audio, DAC, iFi Audio, nano iDSD LE

As you can see from the comparative size of the RCA jacks, the iFi Audio nano iDSD LE is a very small DAC, especially as they have squeezed a 1000 mAh battery inside for portable usage.  Don't let the tiny package fool you, the device supports a wide variety of signals including PCM from 44.1 to 384 kHz/16-32 bit, DSD 2.8, 3.1, 5.6 and 6.2 MHz/1 bit, DXD 352.8, 384 kHz/24 bit.  TechPowerUp reviewed the DAC with both HiFiMAN Edition S headphones and Sennheiser IE-800s in ear headphones, take a look right here.

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"iFi Audio's nano iDSD LE is a little DAC/amp with big ambitions. It packs all the knowledge from the bigger DAC/amps in iFi's huge portofolio of products into a small package. Despite being small, it still features RCA line-outs, a very respectable headphone amplification circuit, and a 1000 mAh battery."

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Source: TechPowerUp

Intel gives their Atom C2000 a longer half life

Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2017 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: c2000, atom, Intel, Avoton

Intel have released a new C0 stepping of their Avoton based Atom C2000 series, which have been dying off at an alarming rate thanks to a flaw in the chip's low pin count bus clock outputs.  The chips are found in the Synology DS1815+ series as well as in Cisco routers, Dell servers and a variety of other products; the flaw in the LPC clock bus would cause them to enter a state in which a reboot would be fatal.  Intel has offered a patch for the motherboards of devices using these chips for a while and have now released new versions of these chips which do not suffer from the same problem.  

The Register accumulated a longer list of devices that could be at risk and technical details on the nature of the flaw here.

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"Intel finally has reworked its flawed Atom C2000 chips, which have been failing at a greater-than-expected rate for about a year and a half."

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Source: The Register

HyperX's Pulsefire, KISS in action

Subject: General Tech | April 27, 2017 - 02:55 PM |
Tagged: input, hyperx, pulsefire, gaming mouse, pixart, PMW3310

HyperX's Pulsefire is a mouse, plain and simple.  It does not glow, nor can you remove or add peices to it, it is just a large, functional $50 gaming mouse with a Pixart PMW3310 optical sensor. The Tech Report tested it out, contrasting it to the Logitech G302 which the reviewer uses on a regular basis.  Take a look if you are shopping for a mouse, and only a mouse, not programmable macro, weight enhanced and sensor swapping input device of doom.

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"HyperX is making a foray into yet-unexplored gaming peripheral territory today with its Pulsefire gaming mouse, a simple and software-free rodent. We put this mouse to the mat to see whether HyperX's keep-it-simple approach plays well with gaming mice."

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Slow down there pardner, maybe wait for Microsoft to push out the Creators Edition

Subject: General Tech | April 27, 2017 - 02:11 PM |
Tagged: creators update, microsoft, windows 10

It is a lesson which is learned anew by every wave of new adopters, installing something brand new can lead to unexpected problems.  In this particular case it is the Windows 10 Creators Update, some of those who have manually updated are now in a Vista-like driver conundrum.  There is a method behind Microsoft's madness, they are pushing out the updates to systems they have vetted first and slowly expanding their scope as issues come to light and are resolved, more or less.  If you are doing a fresh install you may end up with several devices which are not functioning properly, if you are manually updating you may find yourself without a working machine.  Patience can be a virtue, especially when it comes to Windows 10.  The Inquirer has some rather pointed commentary here.

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"IF YOU'RE as excited as Microsoft are about the Creators Update to Windows 10, we've got some bad news. The company is warning people not to jump the gun and install it themselves, despite having made the disc image available to download."

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Source: The Inquirer

The next generation of id tech might make Ryzen shine

Subject: General Tech | April 26, 2017 - 05:47 PM |
Tagged: id software, amd, ryzen, robert duffy

Over at HEXUS you can sit back and watch a video of Robert Duffy from id Software discuss the potential of AMD's Ryzen processors in the next generation of game engines, with some hints about Vega.  He is confident that the team at id will be able to utilize the large core counts of Ryzen processors to enable great performance in 4K and even 8K with the new engine.  He specifically mentioned "framerate improvements, improved realism, and improved AI in games - all from the extra cores and threads available.

They were not able to tease any secret information from him, but the video is worth watching for both those interested in Ryzen or looking for information on what is next from id Software.

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"AMD has published a video interview with id Software's CTO (Chief Technical Officer), Robert Duffy. Unsurprisingly the interview talks up the capabilities and potential of AMD Ryzen tech in gaming engines, and in particular in the next generation id tech currently in development."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: HEXUS

Could Vega be just around the corner?

Subject: General Tech | April 26, 2017 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: amd, Vega, rumours

A Facebook post from AMD Poland has started rumours flying around the interwebs as the implication is we will see it arrive this quarter; though perhaps taking a Facebook post as a verified source may lead to disappointment.  However, there is a bit more evidence than just the post which Digital Trends has displayed, we have seen CompuBench results of a mysterious AMD GPU which is very likely to be Vega.  It will have 64 compute units which translates into 4096 stream processors unless something very strange is going on.  The benchmarks also list two frequencies 1GHz and 1.2GHz which indicates computing performance of 8.2 TFLOPS and 9.8 TFLOPS respectively which puts it in the neighbourhood of the GTX 1080's 8.9 TFLOPS.  That will not necessarily directly translate into gaming performance but does indicate that AMD has a nice surprise in store for us. 

Don't forget to add a bit of salt to your rumour consumption and keep your eyes peeled for more information.

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"Of course, it’s entirely possible that someone at AMD Poland spoke out of turn, and so this information should be considered unverified at this point. But there’s other information that seems to confirm an imminent release, such as a Vega GPU showing in CompuBench benchmark results — something that usually happens shortly before a new component is released."

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Photonic computing is extremely cool right now

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2017 - 12:45 PM |
Tagged: photonics, nanowires

Confining light in a small enough space to fit on a chip is not an easy task.  Infrared wavelengths tend to be many times larger than the desired width of the nanowires that the light is transmitted over.  The researchers in this story from Nanotechweb were working on a way to transmit a 1342 nm IR signal over a 100nm nanowire and came up with a successful solution.  By placing their nanowire in a silicon photonic crystal which has periodic holes that can slow or trap light they have been able to transmit data over that nanowire at speeds of up to 10 billion bits per second.  There is a catch though, the continuous-wave lasing which they use creates an impressive amount of heat, which at such small sizes will create serious interference.  Currently they are running their tests at temperatures as low as 4 Kelvin to prevent heat from interfering; it will be a while before we see room temperature applications but they are getting ever closer.

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"They have shown that a photonic crystal/nanowire hybrid can sustain telecom-band lasing stable enough to transmit a high-frequency data signal, and believe that the platform’s advantages for component integration could enable them to build an on-chip photonic network."

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Source: Nanotechweb

Snapdragon for Windows 10; in time for Christmas?

Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2017 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, snapdragon 835, qualcomm

Qualcomm have provided an updated estimate for when we might expect to see Windows 10 running on Snapdragon 835 devices, moving it very close to the end of the second half of 2017.  Having a product launch in December is risky if Qualcomm had hoped to see sales for the holiday season, especially for a type of product we have not seen since Microsoft released ARM powered Surface devices.  It is possible that the price may be attractive enough to entice some users into purchasing the devices but we likely won't see much action until the beginning of 2018.  The Register could not glean any more information beyond the updated release date from the call, we are still somewhat in the dark as to what Snapdragon powered Win 10 devices we will see.

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"But in last week's Q2 2017 earnings call, CEO Steve Mollenkopf said “Our Snapdragon 835 is expanding into Mobile PC designs running Windows 10, which are scheduled to launch in the fourth calendar quarter this year.”

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Source: The Register

Microsoft Plans to Throttle Background Processes

Subject: General Tech | April 23, 2017 - 08:02 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

Pre-release builds of the next major update to Windows 10, planned for the September time frame, give or take, introduce a new power management feature. Starting with Intel’s sixth-generation Core processors, with support for other vendors planned in the coming months, Windows 10 will be able to prevent background apps from forcing high-power states. This will keep the CPU at a voltage and frequency that gets more work done per watt, even if it takes a little longer, which should result in longer battery life.

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There will be (and currently is) an override available for end-users, as well as an API for developers to suggest which processes can be throttled, and under what circumstances. This entire feature will also be disabled when the device is plugged in. I wonder if we’ll see that characteristic change a little in Windows Server, though, since it might be useful for data centers to throttle some maintenance tasks to cut down on the power and cooling bills for their many, many machines. Currently, it’s designed for battery life.

You can play around with this feature in the new Insider build, but, again, not while plugged in.

Source: Microsoft