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Subject: Editorial, General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 02:54 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 01:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
- Intel hints at weaving network fabric into Xeons, Atoms @ The Register
- Microsoft to open 32 pop-up retail stores for the holidays @ The Register
- NETGEAR N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit ADSL 2+ Modem Router Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Samsung will seek to ban Apple's Iphone 5 @ The Inquirer
- A preview of the reviews for the iPhone 5 @ The Tech Report
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors | September 11, 2012 - 11:52 AM | Ryan Shrout
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!!
Be sure to stop by our PC Perspective Live page at 9am PT on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday!!
Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 10:41 AM | Tim Verry
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.
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.”
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).
Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 09:48 AM | Tim Verry
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Recently played Steam games. Saints Row: The Third is always fun.
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.
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...
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.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 10, 2012 - 09:02 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
Subject: General Tech | September 10, 2012 - 05:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
- Cooler Master CM Storm Sonuz Review @ Neoseeker
- Cyborg F.R.E.Q. 5 Stereo Gaming Headset PC Review @ eTeknix
- Tt eSports Chao Dracco @ XSReviews
- Plantronics BackBeat Go review - musical cord @ Hardware.info
- Corsair Vengeance 2000 Wireless Headset Review @ eTeknix
- Mad Catz Cyborg F.R.E.Q.5 Stereo Gaming Headset Review @ NikKTech
- Ebode BT Sound BTS30 Speaker Review @ Madshrimps
- ARCTIC P31X Wireless Headphones @ Funky Kit
- ekRepublic TH Pro Headset Review @ eTeknix
- SteelSeries Siberia V2 USB Gaming Headset @ Tweaktown
- Zowie Hammer Gaming Headset Review @ eTeknix
- Jabra EXTREME2 Bluetooth Headset Review @ NikKTech
- Audyssey Lower East Side Audio Dock Air Review @ NikKTech
- Plantronics BackBeat Go Review - Almost the Perfect Bluetooth Earbuds @ AnandTech
- CM Storm Sonuz Gaming Headset @ Kitguru
- SteelSeries Guild Wars 2 Gaming Headset Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Pure Contour 200i Air Music Streaming System Review @ Madshrimps
- Bayan 7 iPod and iPhone Speaker Dock @ XSReviews
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Storage | September 10, 2012 - 05:50 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 10, 2012 - 02:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- VIA announces first Pico-ITX motherboard with 3D display capabilities @ DigiTimes
- Valve Reveals Gaming Headset, Teases Big Picture @ Slashdot
- Crystalwell is very wide memory for Haswell GT3 @ SemiAccurate
- Intel rolls eyes at flaccid PC biz, cuts $1bn off expected sales @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft: 'Update your security certs this month – or else' @ The Register
- Mega SSD Giveaway Week 2 - Two Corsair Neutron 240GB SSDs @ SSD Review
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 10, 2012 - 06:24 AM | Tim Verry
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.
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?
Subject: General Tech | September 9, 2012 - 04:19 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
... 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.
Subject: General Tech | September 7, 2012 - 02:27 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
Subject: General Tech | September 6, 2012 - 02:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vishera, trinity, Steamroller, piledriver, hot chips, bulldozer, amd, Abu Dhabi
You've seen the slides everywhere and read through what Josh could observe and predict from those slides but at the end of Hot Chips will still know little more about the core everyone is waiting for. The slides show a core little changed from Bulldozer, which is exactly what we've been expecting as AMD has always described Steamroller as a refined Bulldozer design, improving the existing architecture as opposed to a complete redesign. SemiAccurate did pull out one little gem which might mean good news for both AMD and consumers which pertains to the high density libraries slide. The 30% decrease in size and power consumption seems to have been implemented by simply using the high density libraries that AMD uses for GPUs. As this library already exists, AMD didn't need to spend money to develop it, they essentially managed this 30% improvement with a button press, as SemiAccurate put it. This could well mean that Steamroller will either come out at a comparatively low price or will give AMD higher profit margins ... or a mix of both.
"With that in mind, the HDL slide was rather interesting. AMD is claiming that if you rebuild Bulldozer with an HDL library, the resulting chip has a 30% decrease in size and power use. To AMD at least, this is worth a full shrink, but we only buy that claim if it is 30% smaller and 30% less power hungry, not 30% in aggregate. That said, it is a massive gain with just a button press.
AMD should be applauded, or it would have been, but during the keynote, the one thing that kept going through my mind was, “Why didn’t they do this 5 years ago?”. If you can get 30% from changing out a library to the ones you build your GPUs with, didn’t someone test this out before you decided on layout tools?"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The best and worst of IFA 2012 @ The Inquirer
- US energy lab's pump-happy petaflopper goes green @ The Register
- Quantum Teleportation Sends Information 143 Kilometers @ Slashdot
- Finger-free Kinect coming to fondlesome Windows 8 @ The Register
- VIA suffers close to 15% on-month drop in August revenues @ DigiTimes
- Micron expresses interest in partnering with TSMC @ DigiTimes
- An Argument Against Expensive Solid State Drives @ Benchmark Reviews
- Interview: 2Dawn Games on its upcoming shooter 'Ravaged' and life as an indie studio @ TechSpot
Subject: General Tech | September 6, 2012 - 01:26 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: wireless charging, VIVO, thunderbolt, podcast, k90, k60, corsair, black mesa, ax1200i, asus
PC Perspective Podcast #217 - 09/06/2012
Join us this week as we talk about the Corsair AX1200i Power Supply, Video Games as Art, Wireless Charging and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malvantano and Scott Michaud
A big thanks goes to our friends at ALXTech.net for hosting our PC Perspective gaming server! Find out how you can get a game server for just $0.65/slot by visiting http://alxtech.net/pcper/!!
Program length: 1:24:36
- Week in Reviews:
- 0:38:20 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
News items of interest:
- 0:39:20 Wireless charging is close!
- 0:44:13 Western Digital 2TB Thunderbolt MyBook
- 0:47:20 Arctic MC101 Trinity based HTPC
- 0:48:50 ASUS shows Vivo tablets at IFA
- 0:53:30 Ultrabook with 2560x1440 display from Samsung
- 0:56:10 Lower Power IVB coming soon
- 0:57:30 The ASUS Eee PC line is gone...
- 1:02:30 ASUS launches "Powered by ASUS" systems
- 1:08:00 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- 1-888-38-PCPER or email@example.com
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
Subject: General Tech | September 5, 2012 - 04:08 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: valve, source engine, black mesa, half life 3, mod, gaming
We've been waiting close to a decade for the remake of the original Half Life using the Source Engine and entitled Black Mesa. The mod project is a total rebuild of the original game, with larger areas a tweaked storyline and all of the eye candy that the Source Engine can provide. If all goes to plan we are a mere 9 days from the scheduled release on Sept. 14th and you will be able to play through until the big battle of the Lambda Core, Xen isn't quite ready yet and is still in development. We will also see new multiplayer maps at some time in the future but not quite yet. If this doesn't get your blood pumping then check out all the links at the article on Hexus and watch the trailer below. Still no news on Half Life
"The first release of Black Mesa will take place on 14th September 2012. This is a total conversion of Half Life 2 based upon ye olde 1998 classic Half Life brought up to date with an improved version of Valve’s Source Engine. The Black Mesa mod project started in 2004 following fan disappointment with the official Half Life: Source (2004) - it didn’t improve the eye candy to the full potential of the Source engine. Black Mesa will have improved graphics, more realistic physics and environmental effects, also some storylines will be tweaked and maps enlarged."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Damage Inc: Pacific Squadron WWII @ Benchmark Reviews
- Skyrim - Dawnguard PC Review @ eTeknix
- F1 2012 Preview (PC) @ HardwareHeaven
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Review @ Techgage
- PC Gaming - Then and Now @ eTeknix
- Green For Greenlight: Valve Now Charging $100 Fee @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Sleeping Dogs Review (Xbox 360) @ Kitguru
- Dust: An Elysian Tail Review (XBLA) @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | September 5, 2012 - 03:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Xeon Phi, xeon, larrabee, knights corner, Intel, hot chips
The Register is back with more information from Hot Chips about Intel's Xeon Phi coprocessor, which seems to be much more than just a GPU in drag. Inside the shell you will find at least 50 cores and at least 8GB of GDDR5 graphics, wwith the cores being very heavily modified 22-nanometer Tri-Gate process Pentium P54C chips clocked somewhere between 1.2-1.6GHz. There is a brand new Vector Processing Unit which processes 512-bit SIMD instructions and sports an Extended Math Unit to handle calculations with hardware not software. Read on for more details about the high-speed ring interconnects that allow these chips to communicate among themselves and with the Xeon server it will be a part of.
"Intel has been showing off the performance of the "Knights Corner" x86-based coprocessor for so long that it's easy to forget that it is not yet a product you can actually buy. Back in June, Knights Corner was branded as the "Xeon Phi", making it clear that Phi was a Xeon coprocessor even if it does not bear a lot of resemblance to the Xeon processors at the heart of the vast majority of the world's servers."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel announces two software development suites @ The Inquirer
- Samsung Windows 8 notebook remarkably similar to Asustek Taichi @ DigiTimes
- ZTE plans for 11in 2560x1600 tablet @ The Inquirer
- Acer to launch Windows Phone 8 smartphone in 2013 @ The Register
- Belkin 7-port USB 2.0 Hub F5U307-BRN Review @ PCSTATS
- BIOSTAR Joint Contest @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech, Storage | September 4, 2012 - 06:11 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: ssd, plextor, deal of the day
Today's deal comes from TigerDirect and will allow you jump on the SSD bandwagon for a more than reasonable price. How does a 256GB Plextor M5 series SSD for just $195 with free shipping sound?
Subject: General Tech | September 4, 2012 - 02:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, acer, Intel, atom, eee pc
2012 has been a very tough year to be a manufacture of mobile products and not too easy on the designers either. We started off with the Ultraboook form factor, specifically the challenge to make parts which could allow the ultrathin design to be functional in the real world while still aiming for that $1000 price point. The prices of SSDs have come down and the processors have also marginally dropped in price but the materials required to make a sturdy chassis of exceptional thinness have not.
Then Microsoft decided to make things interesting with their Surface tablet, which is a wonderful platform to show off Windows 8 on but not the best way to maintain a relationship with mobile manufacturers. Regardless of the price that Microsoft chooses to release the Surface at, each Surface sale represents a lost sale for another mobile manufacturer. Acer, for one has had no problems voicing their complaints about a software company muscling into hardware territory.
Today we heard from DigiTimes that ASUS is dropping their Eee PC line, along with Intel's Atom processor and Acer is dropping netbooks altogether. While part of the problem with the Intel's Atom is that it has always had a hard time providing users with the computing experience they desire, dropping the entire form factor implies more problems that simply performance. Manufacturers could build netbooks with AMD's Trinity or even NVIDIA's Tegra depending on the agreements in place with Intel, however the two top tier mobile manufactures have straight out dropped the form factor, with only MSI staying in the market. While the netbook may have only been of use to a certain younger crowd with limited money and expectations there were certain Eee PC models designed for the desktop which made decent low powered internet access machines which are also going the way of the dinosaur which may be missed a little by a larger audience.
The effective death of the netbook will have an effect on manufacturers like Pegatron and some sections of Intel, the real question is whether the end user will even notice or if they were already only considering a 13" laptop or Ultrabook.
"Intel may be forced to adjust its roadmap for PC-use Atom processors as the top-2 netbook vendors – Asustek Computer and Acer – both plan to stop manufacturing related products, according to sources from notebook players.
Asustek is already set to halt its Eee PC product line and officially phase out from the IT industry after completely digesting any remaining inventory. As for Acer, so far, the company has not yet made any plans to open new netbook projects, indicating that the vendor may also plan to step out of the market."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Hackers create bogus Microsoft Services Agreement email to exploit users @ The Inquirer
- The TR Podcast 118: CPUs inside the second, and steamrolling the Forcepad
- Here we go again: Critical flaw found in just-patched Java @ The Register
- AMD Taiwan general manager Andy Tseng resigns @ DigiTimes
- TP-Link 150Mbps Wireless N Nano Router @ Rbmods
- TP-LINK N750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (TL-WNDR4300) Review @ Madshrimps
- Cisco Linksys E4200 Maximum Performance Dual-Band N Router Review @ NikKTech
- Pimp My Rig Competition with PowerColor (Devil 13 HD7990 Prize) @ HardwareHeaven
- SSD Giveaway Week 1 - OCZ Vertex 4 512GB @ SSD Review
- Win A QNAP TS-219P II NAS Server @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech | September 2, 2012 - 03:05 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: battlefield 3
DICE released a trailer for their upcoming DLC pack which ignores everything except its appearance. Thankfully for the trailer, it does look pretty decent especially when you focus on medium-to-far details.
Last month DICE posted a trailer for their upcoming Armored Kill DLC with an AC-130 getting messed up.
This month DICE decided to release a much less active demo for you to stop and smell the… cedar. Not a headshot has been awarded but they are still hoping to blow your mind.
Yet another reason why it is dangerous to be a back-country skier.
Those wars just sneak up on you…
In all seriousness I am not entirely blown away by the trailer. The scenery uses lighting and shading extremely well to give big details to far away items. For a map large enough to have noticeable differences in weather at varying points it makes sense to give rich and big details to draw your eye. When you actually reach any destination the view is decent but definitely not pushing what we expect to see from the one-year-old game.
Then again – graphical updates to a game which is pushing near its one-year birthday is almost never something to sneer at. It does look really good. The real question is how much will Battlefield 4 increment their visual style over what Battlefield 3 has delivered.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2012 - 02:20 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: consolitis, windows 8
Microsoft has announced that 40 Xbox Live games will ship for Windows 8 PC, laptops, and tablets on its October 26th launch date. Microsoft also continues to misunderstand why Games for Windows Live failed in the first place.
Xbox has all but become the quasi-official branding for Microsoft’s gaming initiatives.
Microsoft suffered a substantial black-eye from their Games for Windows Live initiative. While the service does not live up to its anti-hype it does illustrate how Microsoft lost their PC gaming audience: gamers who do not choose a console do not want a console. PC gamers might wish for a cheaper experience due to the lack of license fees; they might prefer the mouse and keyboard; or they might wish to play games for longer than a console lifecycle.
If they pass up your console platform – hand delivering it on a silver platter will still be a decline gesture.
This time it seems more like Microsoft has given up trying to appease PC gamers. Rather than trying to satisfy the needs of the PC gaming audience (Seriously! It’s not that hard.) Microsoft would prefer to hand the PC gaming market to the console crowd and hope that they find some value to the platform.
This move seems just as risky to me as simply keeping PC gamers satisfied. The console model is designed around squirreling away as many license fees as you can possibly hide to appear less costly than the PC alternative – without actually being cheaper of course since otherwise who would pay the extra middleman? There is a lot of risk in transitioning to a new platform and they are betting their PC stronghold in the intersection between Apple fans and people who lock themselves in against PC gaming.
Or maybe the platter is served by Gabe Newell… dressed with a Tux.