Of course you know, this means war. Clover Trail supposedly can't run Linux

Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2012 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: Medfield, linux, Intel, fud, clover trail

Clover Trail is Intel's next Atom, the chip which refuses to die, representing an evolution of Medfield and the x86 instruction set.  That didn't stop Intel from making a bizarre statement that Linux will not run on Clover Trail, even though it ran fine on Medfield and is an OS for x86 architecture chips.  It is more accurate to say that some features of Clover Trail will not currently work under Linux, specifically the new power states introduced in the new Atom. Until the Linux kernel catches up to the new technology the new C and P states which can turn off the clock on the chip while still enabling 'instant on' will be unavailable which is a far cry from not being able to run on the chip at all.  Thanks to The Register for immediately stomping on that FUD.

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"SAN FRANCISCO: CHIPMAKER Intel has confirmed that it will not provide support for Linux on its Clover Trail Atom chip.

Intel's Clover Trail Atom processor can be seen in various nondescript laptops around IDF and the firm provided a lot of architectural details on the chip, confirming details such as dual-core and a number of power states. However Intel said Clover Trail "is a Windows 8 chip" and that "the chip cannot run Linux"."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Podcast #218 - Gigabyte Z77X-UD7, Apple A6 SoC, Thunderbolt GPU Tech from Lucid, and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2012 - 04:53 PM |
Tagged: z77x-ud7, z77n-wifi, WD, thunderbolt, SoC, podcast, lucid, idf 2012, Hybrid Drive, haswell, gpu, gigabyte, arm, a6

PC Perspective Podcast #218 - 09/13/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the Gigabyte Z77X-UD7, Apple A6 SoC, Thunderbolt GPU Tech from Lucid, 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, Allyn Malvantano and Scott Michaud

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:01:33

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:02:50 Live Recap: Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 & Z77N-Wifi Preview
    2. 0:11:11 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review
    3. 0:16:20 Apple A6 SOC: Cortex A15 Hits the Market
    4. 0:21:30 IDF 2012: Intel Haswell Architecture Revealed
      1. Intel Haswell CPUs as low as 10W TDP
  2. 0:28:05 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  3. News items of interest:
    1. 0:28:45 IDF 2012: Lucid External GPUs?
    2. 0:32:05 IDF 2012: Intel Dives in to Oil!
    3. 0:35:45 IDF 2012: Western Digital Hybrid Hard Drives - 5mm 500GB
    4. 0:38:00 AMD Steamroller -- Shrunk Die Without a Die Shrink?
    5. 0:39:50 Firefox OS Interface: Sept 6, 2012.
    6. 0:42:30 CiiNow Sounds Like Wii... also AMD Investment.
    7. 0:47:15 Valve Big Picture Mode for Steam
  4. Closing:
    1. 0:50:36 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Jeremy: SLI\CrossFire PSU for dirt cheap, NewEgg not quite so good
      2. Josh: Not terrible. Hopefully it actually works for the S3
      3. Allyn: WD MyBook VelociRaptor Duo
      4. Scott: Back to school? For the love of God, laser printers.
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  4. Closing/outro

 

Windows 8 can go diskless

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2012 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: win8, cloud, microsoft, Windows to Go, kingston, super talent

Installing Windows from a USB drive is old hat to many, both consumers and professionals, but booting to Windows from an external drive would be a new trick.  Windows 8 has been designed with this type of usage in mind, which is unsurprising considering how much talk there is about the cloud.  A proper implementation of this would mean that low cost computers, shipped without a hard drive, could be readily sold.  Both Kingston and Super Talent have designed USB 3.0 devices which will have "Windows to Go" on them; fully able to boot to a full installation of Win8 on Intel powered machines.  Unfortunately there is a problem with WinPE installations on ARM based devices, as that method requires a wired network connection which may mean ARM devices would have to be sold with a USB to ethernet dongle in order to allow for booting.  Once the machine is booted and the wireless drivers load then the ARM devices could be unplugged.  Check out the hurdles Microsoft had to pass in order to make this work at The Register.

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"Such devices, Niehaus said, will have to be certified to run Windows to Go for two reasons, one of which is that in Microsoft's tests external storage ran dangerously hot.

The second reason is that external drives can't be partitioned in the ways Windows 8 requires, thanks to its use of BIOS-replacement Unified Extensible Firmware Interface(UEFI) that is an important contributor to the new OS' faster boot times. Niehaus explained that UEFI means Windows 8 needs four partitions in a disk. One is for recovery purposes, a second for the system, while UEFI uses a third invisible partition of 128MB to help it go about its work. The fourth partition holds the OS and user data."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Intel Dives in to Oil!

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Processors, Systems, Shows and Expos | September 12, 2012 - 09:34 PM |
Tagged: mineral oil, Intel

Intel has been dunking servers in oil for the last year and found the practice to be both safe and effective. Ironically it has been almost a year since we played around with mineral oil cooling – and when we did – we did not want to upgrade or fix anything. Intel agrees.

Intel inside, slick mess outside.

Often cooling a computer with a radiant that is not air focuses on cooling a handful of specific components and leaving the rest exposed to air. Gigabyte in their recent live presentation showed how the company reduced waste heat on the motherboard as it delivers power to the CPU as the latter likely receives more cooling than the former. With mineral oil you are able to more efficiently cool the entire system by immersing it in a better coolant than air.

aquarium.jpg

This still makes Ken wake up in a cold sweat… is what we convince ourselves.

After a full year of testing servers, Intel has decided that oil immersion cooling should be utilized by more server hosts to cut costs over traditional air conditioning. In their test they used heat sinks which were designed for air and dunked them pretty much unmodified into the mineral oil dielectric. Apart from the mess of it – Intel engineers always carried cleaning cloths just in case – Intel seems to only sing praise for results of their study.

Of course Intel could not help but promote their upcoming Phi platform which you may know as the ancestor of Larabee.

Now the real question is whether Intel just wanted to shamelessly plug themselves – or whether they are looking so closely at alternative cooling solutions as a result of their upcoming Phi platform. Will we eventually see heat dissipation concerns rear their heads with the new platform? Could Intel either be sitting on or throttling Phi because they are waiting for a new heat dissipation paradigm?

Could be interesting.

Lucid to Let You Plug in to Boost Your Laptop GPU?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | September 12, 2012 - 07:20 PM |
Tagged: lucid, external graphics

Lucid looks to utilize Thunderbolt and its PCIe-format interface with external video cards. Their ideal future would allow for customers to purchase Ultrabook or other laptop device to bring around town. Upon reaching home the user could sit the laptop on their desk; plug in a high-end video card for performance; and surround their Ultrabook in other monitors.

While there are situations for acceleration hardware to be inside the device that is not necessary.

There have been numerous attempts in the past to provide a dockable graphics accelerator. ASUS, AMD, Vidock, as well as many others have attempted this feat but all had drawbacks and/or difficulty getting to market. Just prior to Intel Developer Forum, Laptop Magazine was given a demonstration from Lucid with their own attempt.

How about some Thunderbolt?

Mobile GPUs are really the only thing keeping a good laptop from being a gaming machine.

There’s good need for desktop CPUs with lots of RAM – but these days, not to game.

I have been excited each time a product manufacturer claims to have a non-proprietary method to accelerate laptop graphics. Laptops are appealing for so many purposes and it is frustrating to have devices come so close but fall so short of being a reasonable gaming machine.

The demo that Lucid showed off ran 3DMark 06 on an Intel HD 4000 with an external AMD Radeon HD 6700. On integrated graphics the gaming performance hovered just south of 30 FPS. With the Radeon HD 6700 – as expected – performance greatly increased to almost 90 FPS.

It should be much more compelling for a PC store to say “For somewhere near the price of a console, you could dock your laptop which you already own into this box when you want to game and instantly have all PC gaming and Home Theatre PC benefits.”

And it should have happened a long time ago.

Chris Roberts is making something new for space jockeys

Subject: General Tech | September 12, 2012 - 05:44 PM |
Tagged: wing commander, gaming

If the name Chris Roberts doesn't immediately fill your mind with fond memories, you obviously never watched the credits of a Wing Commander game.  He was the creator of the Wing Commander universe and the cut scenes featuring real actors instead of CGI.  He has announced that he is working on something, though the actual details are fairly slim.  We know it will be a space sim, but whether it will take place in the Wing Commander universe, if it will be mission based or open like Freelancer or if he is planning on unveiling something completely new is unknown.  Either way it is a win for space sim fans and gamers who appreciate the quality of story line and extras that he is famous for.  Check out Rock,. Paper, SHOTGUN for links to his new site.

In the mean time, if you haven't tried the full conversion FreeSpace 2 mod Wing Commander Saga yet you can occupy yourself until we know a bit more.

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"This is something of an announcement of an announcement but it does contain information relevant to simulated spacefarers everywhere. Gather them together before the screen and allow them to gaze on the website for Roberts Space Industries. Here’s one of the things it says on the site."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

IDF kicks into full swing

Subject: General Tech | September 12, 2012 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged: Intel, idf 2012, haswell

The real news today is coming out of San Francisco, not Cupertino, as that is where the Intel Developer Forum is being held.  If you missed Ryan's Live Blog yesterday you can catch some of what you missed over at Legit Reviews, with pictures of some of the slides and products which were revealed during the keynote address, up to and including a Core i7 powered Coke machine.  This machine has a 46" 1080p screen. WiFi, a QR Code reader, camera and microphone ... as well as a coin slot and dispenser so you can actually get a can of Coke.  It seems Intel wants to redefine the way people gather around the watercooler to chat.  They did not state if it could play Crysis.

Catch all our coverage under the IDF 2012 tag.

LR_coke-machine.jpg

"Intel showed a slide that said Haswell will have uncompromised performance, all day use and greater than 10 days of connected standby. This all adds up to a mainstream notebook that has a connected standby power that is 20x better than we what we had in 2011 with the ‘Sandy Bridge’ architecture. The slide also said that Intel is targeting 2013 to launch Haswell, which supports the rumored Q2 2013 launch time frame..."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Valve Announces First Greenlight Approved Games

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 05:12 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam, pc gaming, greenlight, gaming

Valve announced today that ten of the games submitted to its Greenlight service have been approved. Each of the titles are in various states of development, and will be released on Steam once they are complete. While Valve encountered a minor hiccup when it instituted a $100 (one time per developer) submission fee that goes to the Child’s Play charity to combat an increasing number of joke/spam submissions, it has been overall a very successful program for the company. A number of developers have submitted their games and the community has taken to service and deciding which games are interesting enough to be sold on the Steam Store.

steam_greenlight.jpg

The first titles to successfully be green-lit are listed below.

Personally, I'm most excited about Black Mesa and Project Zomboid coming to Steam. In the news post on Steam website, Anna Sweet stated that “the Steam community rallied around these titles and made them the clear choice for the first set of titles to launch out of Greenlight.” I am now now eagerly awaiting the Black Mesa download in particular. What about you, did any of the games you voted for make the cut this time around?

Source: Valve

Frictional Games Doesn't Have Too Much Friction over Piracy

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: Amnesia, piracy, DRM

Frictional Games, the developers behind the Penumbra and Amnesia franchises, commented on the two years since the release of The Dark Descent through their company blog. Frictional has finally released the development budget for Amnesia which rings in at just $360,000 USD which is less than a tenth of their revenue. They also have not even thought about piracy in over a year: they are paid in sales not piracy figures – and paid they have been.

It is so nice when common sense prevails.

As I have discussed in my “Video Games Do Not Want to Be Art?” column, there are some developer-publishers who find their content intrinsically valuable and aim for long-term steady sales. Frictional Games appears to be one of those companies. Amnesia: The Dark Descent is possibly the most terrifying game in existence without compromising on their highly engaging story.

They also have not even thought about – let alone get frightened of – piracy in over a year.

amnesia.jpg

Or maybe after making Amnesia these Swedes are not scared by anything lurking in shadows.

There is room for both blockbuster titles as well as enduring content with intrinsic value. Over the course of the last two years Amnesia has sold just shy of 1.4 million units. Amnesia currently – 2 years after its release – sees a steady 10,000 units sold each month excluding bumps in sales due to discounts. This revenue is over ten-fold larger than the $360,000 development budget.

The developer kept the topic of piracy brief with a simple statement:

It has been over a year since we even thought about piracy. With sales as good as above we cannot really see this as an issue worth more than two lines in this post, so screw it.

That is literally all that has been written about piracy.

Whenever I discuss piracy I feel the need to preface my statements with, “The solution is not to condone piracy.” I do not condone piracy nor has Frictional Games. If you wish to acquire a game – pay for it. If you do not wish to acquire a game – ignore it. Still, from the developer or publisher’s point of view, do not concern yourselves with piracy figures. Piracy figures are horrifically inaccurate and – most importantly – not a measurement that pays you one way or the other.

Worry about what will increase your sales – such as adding mod tools or design to sell your product indefinitely – because that will be what puts the roof over your head.

If you lose customers because of your paranoia – companies like Frictional will be there. Good on them.

SeaMicro's new servers might have Intel Inside but the rest is all AMD

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: seamicro, amd, Intel, xeon, piledriver, smug

To think that only 3 years ago we finally saw the end of the legal battle between Intel and AMD over the x86 patent makes today's news bring a smile to those with a certain sense of humour.  Some of SeaMicro's new servers will be powered by Intel's Xeon line of processors, meaning that an AMD owned company will be offering Intel Inside.  As AMD purchased SeaMicro for their "Freedom" 3D mesh/torus interconnect technology as opposed to an attempt to push Intel out of that particular make of server, this move makes perfect sense as AMD's bottom line will benefit from every sale of an Intel based SeaMicro server.  It also opens up the choices available to the market as you will be able to purchase Piledriver based SeaMicro servers using the same interconnect technology.

From The Register we get more information on the Piledriver processors we will see in these servers, they will have eight cores and would come in three speeds; 2GHz, 2.3GHz, and 2.8GHz.  They also infer that with this design you could have 512 cores and 4TB of memory in a 10U chassis which is enough to make any SETI@Home or Folding@Home team member drool with jealousy.  On the Intel side they will use the 2.5GHz quad core Xeon E3-1265L v2  which means you would only have a mere 256 cores in a similar 10U chassis.  DigiTimes also picked up on this story with more details on the insides of the servers, both Intel and AMD.

ElReg_amd_seamicro_opteron_node.jpg

"SeaMicro is not longer an independent company, but you would not have guessed that if you were dropped in from outer space to attend the launch of the new SM15000 microserver in San Francisco on Monday afternoon. Advanced Micro Devices may own SeaMicro, but the company went out of its way to support the latest "Ivy Bridge" Xeon E3-1200 v2 processor from rival Intel as well as its own forthcoming "Piledriver" Opteron processor as new compute nodes in a new SeaMicro chassis."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Live Blog: Intel Developer Forum (IDF) 2012 Keynotes

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors | September 11, 2012 - 11:52 AM |
Tagged: Intel, idf, idf 2012, keynote

The Intel Developer Forum is one of the best places in the world to get information and insight on the future of technology directly from those that creat it.  Join me as I live blog (Wi-Fi connection dependent as always!) the keynotes from all three days at http://pcper.com/live!!

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Be sure to stop by our PC Perspective Live page at 9am PT on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday!!

CiiNow Engineering Open Cloud Gaming Platform With AMD Radeon Graphics Hardware

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 10:41 AM |
Tagged: virtualization, radeon, onlive, gaming, cloud gaming, ciinow, amd

In the wake of OnLive going bankrupt and selling itself to new investors, a new cloud gaming company has emerged called CiiNOW. The company was founded in 2010 and now has 24 employees. It has managed to raise more than $13 million USD, but with a new investment from new chip designer AMD CiiNow is ready to go public with its software. Interestingly, instead of starting its own cloud gaming service, CiiNow is positioning itself as a Middleware company by selling its virtualization and gaming software to other companies. Those business customers would then use CiiNow’s software to start their own cloud gaming services.

Ciinow website.jpg

In the deal with AMD, CiiNOW will recommend AMD Radeon graphics cards to customers as well as supporting them on its software platform. According to CiiNow, its virtualized platform is able to run on any data center or cloud computing platform’s hardware. While OnLive generally required specialized servers where the graphics card was dedicated to providing games to one (or a small number of) user(s), CiiNow claims to be able to provide up to eight 720p HD streams per server blade, and up to 272 HD streams per traditional server rack. On the user side of things, CiiNow has stated that gamers would need at least a Mbps internet connection in order to play the streamed games effectively. Company CEO Ron Haberman was quoted by Venture Beat in stating the following:

“One of the big issues with cloud gaming is that no one likes to talk about costs, we are more economical because we virtualize any hardware that fits underneath our software.”

Ciinow_how it works.jpg

While the company has not gone into details about how the virtualization software works on off-the-shelf servers, they claim that it is an extremely scalable solution that can support rapidly growing numbers of end users without dramatically increasing hardware costs. It's impossible to say how well cloud gaming services based on this technology will work without more details or a hands on, but it is nice to see someone else take up the mantle from OnLive – especially with competitor Gaikai being bought out by Sony. CiiNow wants its technology to be used to deliver AAA titles to gamers over the Internet, so I'm interested in how they are going to pull that off using varying hardware with CiiNow's software layer running on top (specifically, the performance they will be able to get out of the hardware and how it will be sliced up between clients/gamers).

The company has said that games will not need to be ported to the virtualized software to work, only a DRM free copy from the publisher needs to be provided to load it onto the platform. Further, the cloud gaming provider using CiiNow's software will be able to support game pads and other controllers to interact with the streamed games. CiiNow does not list specific latency numbers on its site, but claims that it is using a low latency H.264 video stream to send the gameplay down to users. It remains to be seen whether or not it will be able to match or exceed NVIDIA's GRID technology in that respect, however.

There are still a lot of questions about how CiiNOW's software will work, and whether it will advance cloud gaming in general. Fortunately, you should be able to get some answers soon as the company's software is now available to the public, and we should start to see some new cloud gaming providers popping up based on the virtualization technology. Reportedly, the company has completed several trial runs in Europe and has potential customers in the US, Korea, and Australia. CiiNow claims that it could take around two months from when a customer orders equipment before its cloud gaming service can go live, so the first fruits of CiiNow's labor might emerge by the end of this year.

There is a preview of a cloud gaming service up on CiiNOW's website, but no partners with plans to launch gaming services have been publicly announced yet. 

In the video below, CiiNOW CEO Ron Haberman introduces the company's new cloud gaming platform.

Continue reading for my speculation and brief thoughts on cloud gaming. Feel free to join the comment discussion (no registration required).

Source: Venture Beat

Valve Releases Big Picture Mode Beta for Steam

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 09:48 AM |
Tagged: valve, steambox, steam, big picture mode

Valve's popular Steam client has been a PC platform since its inception, but the company is slowing moving to the living room. The first step in that transition is a living room TV-friendly user interface because, as Ryan noted in a recent editorial, the traditional Steam client (especially the text) is not optimized for viewing from far away or on high resolution displays.

Enter the long-rumored and awaited Big Picture Mode. The new user interface is designed to be comfortably used from the couch in the living room, and controllable by keyboard/mouse or a game controller. It has been a long time coming, but is finally official, and available to the public as part of a beta Steam update.

Steam Big Picture Mode_Main Screen.jpg

Still very much a beta product, the Big Picture Mode allows you to do just about everything you can with the "normal" Steam client from your couch (or PC even, if you are into full screen apps). You have access to the Store, your games Library, friends list, downloads, settings, and the Steam browser among other features.

The Store is just what you would expect, a way for you to browse and purchase new games. The interface is sort-of like the Xbox UI in that you scroll through items horizontally rather than vertically like the PS3's cross media bar. The same games that are featured in the slider on the main page are displayed by default on the main Big Picture Mode's Store page.

Steam Big Picture Mode_Store Page.jpg

From there you can also access the New Releases, Special Offers, Genres, and other categories to drill down to the games you want. As an example, if you move down from the featured games and select Genres you get the following screen that allows you see all the games in a specific genre.

Steam Big Picture Mode_Genres.jpg

Once you drill down to an individual game, you are presented with the details page that takes some of the elements from the traditional client and makes them easier to read from further away.

Steam Big Picture Mode_Game Details.jpg

There does not appear to be an option to purchase titles from within Big Picture Mode yet, but I would not be surprised to see it by the time the feature comes out of beta status.

Beyond the store, you can access your own game library, including a list of recently played games and your entire library on a separate page.

Steam Big Picture Mode_recently played games.jpg

Recently played Steam games. Saints Row: The Third is always fun.

Steam Big Picture Mode_All Games.jpg

Your entire games library, most of which I have yet to play...

From there, you can start up your games and get to playing! Alternatively, you can monitor downloads, access your friends list, and browse the web. The friends list shows images of your friends with text underneath with their Steam usernames. You scroll left to right to highlight them, and can interact just as you normally would.

Steam Big Picture Mode_Friends List.jpg

Speaking of friends lists, be sure to join our PC Perspective Steam Group!

The downloads section can be accessed by navigating to the top left corner and selecting the icon to the right of your name. In the downloads screen, you can resume and pause ongoing downloads just like the normal steam client. For some reason, Witcher is stuck in a ever-paused update no matter how many times I hit resume (in the normal client). And Big Picture Mode seems to suffer from the same issue...

Steam Big Picture Mode_Downloads.jpg

The web browser is an improvement over the one in the normal Steam client's overlay in speed and the large mouse cursor should help you navigate around with a controller as easily as possible. I don't foresee web browsing being painless as most sites simply are not designed to work from far away and with controller input, but it seems serviceable for the few times you would need to check something on the web without leaving the Steam client on your living room PC.

Steam Big Picture Mode_Browser.jpg

Continue reading to see more Big Picture Mode screenshots!

Source: Valve

Firefox OS Interface as of September 6, 2012

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 10, 2012 - 09:02 PM |
Tagged: firefox, Firefox OS

Mozilla has released a demonstration of their mobile operating system, Firefox OS. As much as I like Mozilla and their influence on the PC industry I cannot see much reason for this operating system to exist as it stands right now.

We have reported earlier in the year on Mozilla’s push into the mobile and app store market.

Just last week as of the time of this writing we have been given a video walkthrough of current builds for Firefox OS. This is obviously a very early build of the operating system and we have no idea what the developers have planned for the platform in the future. The only position I can speak from is what I can see right now – and that is what I will do.

There’s also the whole issue of tablets…

The operating system as it currently stands looks like it could very well be a custom skin of Android. It is clear that Mozilla has put a substantial amount of work into the backend just because of how complex a mobile operating system fundamentally is. The interface could be little more than placeholder used to develop the fundamentals.

If not then it is somewhat disappointing to me. Mozilla has always had innovative hooks such as tabs or extensions to disrupt incumbent products. Apart from its legally open nature I do not really see anything yet that would differentiate the platform from its peers. Simply put, it looks like Android – and not even the most recent Android.

Hopefully we will begin to see some of the disruptive force Mozilla is known for as this operating system begins to mature. There just has to be a hook somewhere for it to gain any ground especially when it is this late to the game.

Source: Youtube

It's not a tempest in a teacup; it is a Storm in your earcup

Subject: General Tech | September 10, 2012 - 05:52 PM |
Tagged: audio, coolermaster, CM Storm, gaming headset, CoolerMaster Storm Sirus, Storm Ceres, Storm Sonuz

Cooler Master's Storm series of headsets have only been around for a few short years but in that time they have greatly expanded their product lineup.  Hi Tech Legion is talking a look at at few of the current models, including the $40 Ceres 400, the $70 Storm Sonuz and the $88 Storm Sirus 5.1.  Each headset has its own characteristics, with different sized drivers, impedance and sensitivities in each of the models which is good for those who know what they are looking for, from the surround of the Sirius to the large bass loving drivers of the Sonuz. See which one took top spot in HTL's ears here.

HTL_2.jpg

"The CM Storm Ceres 400 is a stereo gaming headset carrying an MSRP of $39.99. The Ceres 400 is equipped with 40mm drivers for competitive performance and an integrated noise-canceling microphone for clear chat communication over heavy online firefights. The CM Storm Sonuz on the other hand has a pair of massive 53mm drivers for pulse pounding, bass heavy action and a detachable microphone for ergonomic flexibility retailing for $69.99. Representing the top tier in CM Storm's lineup is the Sirus headset which features true 5.1 surround capability through four independent drivers for the front, center, rear and sub as well as a bundled USB external audio processor which Cooler Master dubs the tactical mixing console, processing independent channels and provides desktop control functions at users' disposal mid-game. All three CM Storm headsets come with a two year warranty and are available worldwide."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Western Digital Hybrid Hard Drives: 5mm 500GB Sampling

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Storage | September 10, 2012 - 05:50 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, ssd caching, ssd, Hard Drive

Western Digital has been sampling 5mm-thin 2.5” hard drives designed for Ultrabooks. They have currently announced partnerships with Acer and ASUS to include these drives in future ultrathin laptops. Western Digital has currently only listed capacities of 500GB for the spindle portion of the drive but no word how much MLC flash will be included to cache most used files. The product will be discussed during the company’s investor day on the 13th of this month.

At this stage SSDs are pretty much the missing link to a fast and responsive computer.

Prices have dropped to under one dollar per gigabyte ($1/GB) a few months ago with some models reaching 70c/GB – and those are the good ones too. The massive drop in price is still about an order of magnitude more expensive than spindle hard drives and consumers are using whatever space they can get. Several solutions exist to balance the speed of SSDs with the storage effectiveness of HDDs.

One solution is to include both in a single drive and keep the most used data in the SSD cache. Western Digital has just released samples of 5mm-thin hybrid hard drives for OEMs to put in extremely thin laptops.

I wonder if they're feeling chip-er...

Users who purchase laptops often have the mistaken assumption that a faster processor directly leads to increased response. That is certainly the case when comparing an Intel Atom to an i5 – but an i3 will probably spend just as much time idle and awaiting instructions from the hard drive as an i5 would.

Western Digital has not broken the SSD market despite their long success with spindle storage. It makes sense that Western Digital will push into the market with the starting point from which they are most comfortable. Western Digital has been shipping SSDs for over two-and-a-half years at this point but never really gained any traction.

It looks like Western Digital is realizing that they need to mix SSDs with what they know best and do something innovative to get a unique hook in the market – buying just a little more time.

The drive which has been announced today will contain a storage capacity of 500GB with an undisclosed amount of MLC NAND flash memory caching the most used data. The hook to differentiate themselves from other hybrid hard drives is its size: 5mm compared to the more common 9.5mm.

The Ultrabook market could be a lucrative wave to ride for the time being and give them even more capital to invest future SSDs. Hopefully they will not wait for solid state storage to creep up on them twice. Fool you once…

Western Digital is expected to discuss and showcase this product more at their Western Digital Investor Day on this Thursday, September 13th, 2012.

You won't be able to blame TSMC or GF for any shortage of Win8 devices

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 10, 2012 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: surface, win8, winRT, touch screen

DigiTimes foresees supply problems with Windows 8 mobile devices but for once it is not the fault of the CPU/GPU manufacturers.  Instead it is the feature which makes Win8 on mobile devices so much more attractive that previous versions of Microsoft's mobile OS, the Achilles heel could be the touchscreen manufacturers.  Shipping millions of new touchscreen laptops and tablets could lead to availability problems with the industry already spread among so many current touchscreen products.  Even if the supply holds up there are also concerns about demand as a touchscreen device will cost more than an equivalent laptop without a touchscreen, something that DigiTimes' sources are concerned about.

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"Windows 8-based notebook shipments are expected to start increasing in September as the launch date of the operating system approaches, but because most orders are scheduled for shipping in September and October, sources from the upstream supply chain are concerned that related supply chain players will face great challenges in terms of capacity management and production smoothness."

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Source: DigiTimes

Amazon Announces Four New Kindle Fire Tablets

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 10, 2012 - 06:24 AM |
Tagged: tablet, kindle fire hd, kindle fire, kindle, amazon

Amazon announced four new Kindle Fire tablets at a live event yesterday. Now that I’ve had time to let it all sink in, it is time to run through and compare the new offerings! Included in the new lineup are two 7” models and two 8.9” models. Further, the tablets with the new internals are differentiated with Kindle Fire HD branding whereas the updated model keeps the traditional Kindle Fire name.

7” Kindle Fire Tablets:

1. Updated Kindle Fire 7"

During the event in Santa Monica, California Amazon announced an update to the existing Kindle Fire and introduced a new “HD” version. The original Kindle Fire (which we reviewed here) packed a dual core 1GHz ARM processor, 512 MB of RAM, and 8 GB of storage. It weighed in at 14.5 ounces and was .45” thick. That hardware cost $199.

The new (updated) 7” Kindle Fire

The updated model keeps the 7” display but has a 1.2GHz OMAP 4430 processor (that Amazon claims is 40% faster), 1GB of RAM, battery life improvements, and in a surprising twist will actually cost less than the original Fire at $159. Software has also been improved for the new Kindle Fire but it is not clear if the first-generation model will also be getting an update. Once reviews start coming out, it should be more apparent what exactly has been changed (Amazon mostly focused on hardware at the event). You can expect it to be a customized version of Android that looks nothing like the stock experience, however. The updated Kindle Fire will be available September 14th for $159.

2. Kindle Fire HD 7"

The Kindle Fire HD is where the hardware starts to get interesting as the specifications have been improvement greatly versus the original $199 Kindle Fire. The new tablet measures 7.6 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches and weighs 13.9 ounces. The front of the tablet features an HD webcam and a 7" display with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. Interestingly, the 10 point multitouch panel is laminated onto the display itself, which Amazon claims reduces glare by cutting down on air gaps. Powering the tablet is a OMAP 4460 SoC featuring a dual core processor running at 1.2 GHz, 1 GB of RAM, and 16 GB or 32 GB of internal storage, and stereo speakers. Connectivity options include dual band 2.4/5 GHz Wi-Fi with two hardware antennas, HDMI, and a Bluetooth radio.

The 7" Kindle Fire HD will be available September 14th. The 16 GB model will cost $199 while the 32 GB model is $249. 

8.9” Kindle Fire HD Tablets:

The 8.9-inch tablet is a new form factor for Amazon, and an interesting one at that. The tablet is sits nicely between the 7" tablets like the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 and larger 10"+ tablets like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and iPad. It remains to be seen whether it will be successful for Amazon, but at only 20 ounces it's still fairly portable. Specific measurements are as follows: 9.45 x 6.5 x 0.35 inches. There is just a single tablet model in the 8.9" form factor, but there are two options based on that. Specifically, you will need to choose between a Wi-Fi only tablet and a tablet that can connect to both Wi-Fi and 4G cellular networks.

The 8.9" Kindle Fire HD features an 8.9" display with resolution of 1920x1200. Further, like the 7" model, the 10 point multitouch panel is laminated onto the display itself to reduce glare. Above the display is an HD webcam. Connectivity options on the base Wi-Fi only model include HDMI, Bluetooth, and dual band (2.4/5GHz) 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi with dual antennas. The 4G version further adds a cellular modem. 

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Internally, the Kindle Fire HD is powered by a Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 SoC running at 1.5 GHz and 1GB of RAM. Internal storage is either 16 GB or 32 GB for the Wi-Fi model and 32 GB or 64 GB in the 4G Kindle Fire HD. Any amazon purchased content can be stored on your Amazon Cloud Drive as well.

Both the Wi-Fi and 4G tablets will be available on November 20th, and are available for pre-order now.

The Wi-Fi model will cost $299 for 16 GB or $369 for 32 GB.

The 4G model gets a bit more complicated, thanks to the cellular modem. In basic terms, the 32 GB version will cost $499 and the 64 GB version will cost $599. With purchase, you get a $10 Amazon Appstore credit and 20 GB of Amazon Cloud Drive storage. On the data plan front, for $50 a year, Amazon will provide you with 250 MB per month of data usage over the cellular connection. It's not much, but it is still a pretty good deal if you are around Wi-Fi most of the time and/or plan to only use the Fire to read books and listen to music on. The bad news is that if you do happen to go over that 250 MB limit, you'll be subject to AT&T's going rate for the next tier of data. IE, expect to pay about $30 if you go over (ouch!).

On TWICH, Ryan brought up the Kindle Fire HD and mentioned the big price difference between the 4G and Wi-Fi only model. You are looking at about $250 extra from the 4G model, and the addition of the cellular radio definitely does not cost Amazon that much per tablet to integrate. One likely reason is that Amazon is subsidizing part (or all) of the data plan (the cost above the $50 it is charging customers) with the increased cost of the hardware. (Sort of the opposite of the traditional cell phone subsidizing arrangement where the contract subsidizes the hardware). You will just have to determine if the 4G modem is worth the cost increase or not.

Opt out of ads for $15, information on charging

Speaking of cutting costs, Amazon has done two things to reduce the price of its Kindle Fire tablets. For one, all Kindle Fire tablets will come with Kindle Special Offer ads turned on. These are deals and ads that display on the home screen and lock screen of your Kindle (and in my experience are not very intrusive). If you want an ad-free experience, you can opt out by paying a one-time $15 fee – which essentially amounts to you paying the full cost of the hardware versus the ad-subsidized cost. 

The other cost cutting measure is that the company is not bundling a wall charger with any of the tablets. You can purchase the Kindle PowerFast for Accelerated Charging wall charger for $9.99 if you buy it at the same time as you purchase the tablet, but is $19.99 if purchased separately. Note that a wall charger is not required, as you can charge the Kindle over USB connected to a computer or cell phone charger – it does not necessarily have to be the expensive Amazon charger.

Lastly, all of the Amazon Kindle Fire tablets are running a customized version of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Unfortunately, I would not expect an update to Jelly Bean any time soon. The biggest question i have is whether or not the original Kindle Fire will get the same software update as the new tablets are coming out with. It is difficult to comment on any specific improvements as Amazon primarily focused on hardware at the event. Once reviewers get hands on with the tablets, more information should become available. I'm looking forward to trying out the tablets once they show up as demos at retail to see how well the UI runs on the updated hardware.

If you are interested in one of the new Kindle Fire tablets, I highly recommend checking out the handy comparison chart on the bottom of any Kindle Fire product pages as it puts all the specifications in a simple table.

What do you think about the new Amazon tablets, will you be picking one up or sticking with the Nexus 7?

Source: Amazon

Internet Explorer 10 Exploitable: Both More & Less Than Hype

Subject: General Tech | September 9, 2012 - 04:19 PM |
Tagged: Malware, IE10, flash

Recent statements from Microsoft show that they are not afraid to wait a little bit before shipping patches with their bundled Flash in Internet Explorer 10. The issue is more contained than is let on by Ars Technica – but also raises a bigger security issue for all of us at all times.

By far the worst enemy for security is complacency.

I often pick on Apple for their security practices. They are perceived as being secure despite their horrendous record of handling security updates – delaying a critical patch for privately disclosed vulnerabilities until after its reveal at Blackhat because Apple could not devote the programmer to the task.

That mentality has been everywhere – from Sony to Microsoft in the Windows XP era to Macromedia & Adobe.

In this case the issue is that Microsoft has been delaying updates to the built in copy of Adobe Flash preinstalled with Internet Explorer 10. Once a patch has been released attackers are able to figure out what the patch fixes and potentially exploit it for those who have yet to update. There are quite a few subtle caveats with this story which need to be discussed before opinions are made.

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... Relatively speaking...

First and foremost – Flash support on the Metro-based Internet Explorer 10 is limited to a whitelist. Flash is not exposed to websites which have not been flagged by Microsoft as safe and requiring backwards compatibility with Flash.

Websites become compromised all the time. Should one of the whitelisted websites get attacked it could become forced to serve a Flash applet to its users. The delay between Adobe and Microsoft patching dates gives the attackers a window to exploit all IE10 users until the whitelisted website notices. Attacks like these are very commonplace recently.

As an aside – there is quite a bit of confusion over Internet Explorer 10 on the desktop. According to the RTM evaluation it appears as though the only way to update Flash for Internet Explorer is through Windows Update even when not using the Metro browser. The whitelist is also in effect for Windows on the desktop although it seems like users are able to add their own exemptions. It appears like user-set exemptions is unique to the desktop version of IE.

It is disconcerting to see a platform become complacent to potential security issues intentionally. To be fair it is entirely possible that Google Chrome could have similar issues as they too handle Adobe Flash integration. Unlike IE10, Google Chrome does allow you to disable the built in Flash and manage your updates directly from Adobe although the process is far too complicated for most users.

Source: Ars Technica

Prepare to be shocked ... ARM has negative things to say about Intel Inside phones

Subject: General Tech | September 7, 2012 - 02:27 PM |
Tagged: arm, Intel, atom, atom z2460, ARM Army

It is hard to believe that competing tech companies might make comments about their competitors that could be construed as negative but it has happened today as ARM calls Intel power hungry.  From what DigiTimes could gather, a VP at ARM suggested that the Atom architecture consumes more power in total than ARM processors, though he stayed away from any comment about processing power per watt.  This could well be because handset makers describe the Z2460 as more powerful than the ARM and only slightly less power efficient, something the ARM Army would rather was not mentioned.  In the coming months consumers will get a chance to compare this for themselves as Windows 8 phones running on both Intel and ARM hardware will become available for direct comparison.

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"While Intel has been making efforts to tap the handset processor market, the company still has a long way to go to catch up with ARM in terms of power consumption, according to Noel Hurley, vice president for Marketing & Strategy, Processor Division, ARM."

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Source: DigiTimes