Intel's interconnect business grows after buying Cray's technolgy

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2012 - 01:03 PM |
Tagged: purchase, interconnect, Intel, cray, aries

Anyone who follows the supercomputer business has had quite a bit of excitement recently, with major shifts in the market becoming quite frequent.  Intel started it off by purchasing QLogic's Infiniband networking technology which allows the connection of separate high performance computers over an extremely low latency and high bandwidth path, utilizing PCIe.  This will give Intel a big edge when clustering multiple HPCs on a network. 

Next it was AMD's turn as they snagged SeaMicro out from underneath Intel's nose and purchased the rights to their 3D torus interconnect technology.  This is a processor agnostic interconnect for within an HPC which is targeted at low power processors and is specifically designed to get the most efficient use of every watt that the system consumes.  This could lead to some ironic HPCs which use AMD's interconnect technology to link together large amounts of Intel Atom processors.

cray23.jpg

Today a bigger change was announced, to the tune of $140 million, as Intel purchased Cray's interconnect technology.  This architecture is the polar opposite of SeaMicro's and focuses on creating the most massively powerful HPCs possible on current technology and requires an immense amount of electricity to power.  For quite a while Cray utilized AMD's HyperTransport technology and favoured large amounts of Opteron processors to power its supercomputers but that relationship soured thanks AMD's supply problems and delayed technology refreshes.  Cray abandoned AMD and never even looked at Intel's QPI, instead they designed an interconnect technology of their own, one which could use any processor.  Now that technology belongs to Intel.  You can see what The Register thinks this move signifies in their full article.

"Intel really is taking networking and system interconnects very seriously, and is buying the interconnect hardware business from massively parallel supercomputer maker Cray for $140m."

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Source: The Register

New mLink PCI-E to Thunderbolt Enclosure Shown Off at NAB 2012

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | April 24, 2012 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, PCIe SSD, pcie, mlink, apple

California based company mLogic LLC debuted a new “mLink” Thunderbolt enclosure at the NAB 2012 show that will allow users to connect PCI-E based cards to computers using Thunderbolt connections. Unfortunately, enthusiasts wishing to slap a graphics card into the enclosure are out of luck. The incompatibility is due to graphics cards not having Thunderbolt aware drivers and may be something that is rectified in the future but currently not an option.

1large.jpg

Right now, there are only a few storage devices and networking NICs that are compatible with the mLink enclosure including Apricorn and OWC PCI-E SSDs, Atto Technology’s Fiber Channel network cards, and Atto Technology’s SAS RAID controller cards. (The full list of compatible devices is located here.) Not terribly exciting, but some users will find it very useful. The design is very streamlined and sleek, though its worth mentioning that it comes at a cost of $400 USD.

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Enthusiasts wanting to add more graphics horsepower to their notebooks will have to look elsewhere, but for users that need super fast storage in a sleek industrial design enclosure it is an interesting option. The price will be something that turns many people off of it, however. It is slated to release in June with pre-orders being accepted now. More information along with photos of the device is available here.

It sure looks nice, but is this something people will actually use? Let us know in the comments!

Source: mLogic

Firefox 12 will be able to bypass UAC and possibly corporate security settings

Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2012 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: UAC, security, firefox

One of the causes of the adoption of Google's Chrome browser in the workplace is that for the most part, since it installs under your user directory it can bypass the limited permissions on most business computers, letting the user install something without consulting IT.  This is a minor security concern as Chrome runs with limited permissions and is certainly not more inherently vulnerable than the old corporate standby, IE6.

According to The Inquirer Firefox will be starting to do something similar but with larger repercussions.  FireFox 12 will be whitelisted on UAC, allowing system level access to the program.  While this does mean that if they are successful users will be running up to date software and not require IT resources to upgrade FireFox every month or so, it also introduces a powerful attack vector for infections.  A silent FireFox update might not be from Mozilla and could instead be from malware online, creating a system vulnerability that the user is completely unaware of until obvious symptoms start to show, by which time it could be too late to stop the spread of an infection to the network or to clients machines.  The update is due out today, so keep a close eye on your FireFox installation for now.

 

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"SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Mozilla will bypass Windows' user account control (UAC) to implement silent updating in its Firefox 12 web browser.

Mozilla's Firefox 12 is expected to be released today, and the outfit claims it will bypass Windows UAC in order to enable silent updating. Since Mozilla put Firefox on its rapid release schedule, it has put out new versions of the web browser every six weeks, leading some users to complain about the number of releases."

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Source: The Inquirer

VIA Labs Announces Third Generation Low-Power USB 3.0 Hub Controller

Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2012 - 11:41 AM |
Tagged: VIA Labs VL812, usb 3.0

Taipei, Taiwan, April 24, 2012 - VIA Labs, Inc., a leading supplier of USB 3.0 integrated circuit controllers, today announced its 3rd generation USB 3.0 hub controller, the VIA Labs VL812. The VL812 USB 3.0 Hub Controller utilizes a new low-power design and features an industry-first integrated 5V DC-DC switching regulator, offering a single-chip solution that achieves both high power efficiency and greater system integration for further reduced BOM.

The VIA Labs VL812 USB 3.0 hub controller offers high performance, high power efficiency, and reduced overall system BOM, making it an ideal choice for mobile and other low-power applications. Shown here with coin.

VIA_VL812.jpg

In typical configurations, the VIA Labs VL812 USB 3.0 Hub Controller consumes less than 0.5w under load, making it one of the market's low-power leaders. The low operational power consumption of the new VIA Labs VL812 USB 3.0 Hub allows users to attach an external 2.5" USB 3.0 hard drive, USB 2.0 Flash drive, and a USB Mouse simultaneously without the need for an AC adapter, when connected to a regular USB 3.0 port.

"The VIA Labs VL812 USB 3.0 hub is a perfect expansion companion for the growing Ultrabook market, which have a sleek form factor but few external ports," said Terrance Shih, Product Manager, VIA Labs, Inc. "It provides Ultrabook users with a wide range of USB connectivity options for peripheral devices without necessitating the need for an additional power adapter for the hub."

"We are excited to partner with VIA Labs and integrate the VL812 USB 3.0 Hub Controller into our next generation of USB 3.0 Hubs," said Steven Lu, Vice President of Actionstar. "The high level of integration and low-power design enables Actionstar to create exciting new, highly portable companion products for the growing Ultrabook market."

The VIA Labs VL812 is a 4-port USB 3.0 hub controller that supports the higher transfer rates of the USB 3.0 specification, while remaining fully backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1 hosts, hubs, and devices. In addition to rapid transfers, the VIA Labs VL812 integrates battery charging controller logic, enabling Dedicated Charging Port (DCP) and Charging Downstream Port (CDP) functionality as described in the USB Battery Charging 1.2 specification, in addition to supporting the YD/T 1591-2009 specification and other vendor-specific modes.

Employing an advanced CMOS process, VL812's integrated in-house USB PHY features adaptive equalization, offering improved signal integrity over a variety of topologies and channel conditions, making VL812 well suited not only for stand-alone hubs, but also USB Docking, integrated motherboard, and compound device applications.

Source: VIA Labs

The First Slice Of Raspberry Pi Gets Taste Tested

Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2012 - 08:28 AM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, hardware, embedded systems, arm

We’ve been covering the Raspberry Pi computer for quite some time now, and after a slew of delays the boards are finally shipping. UK based hardware site Bit-Tech has managed to snag one of the Model B Raspberry Pi boards and recently posted a review of the small ARM computer.

raspberrypi.jpg

They do note that the ARM11 processor leaves a lot of performance to be desired, but no other boards offer the same features for the price. Once software matures to the point that hardware accelerated drivers are available out of the box, the user experience should improve. Also, the relatively powerful Videocore IV GPU will really start to shine.

Head on over to see how they tested the board, what sort of overclocking headroom the SoC has, and what their final verdict is!

Further Raspberry Pi coverage:

Anyone else still waiting on their slice of Pi to arrive in the mail?

Source: Bit-Tech

How many mechanical switches before a mouse starts becoming a keybaord?

Subject: General Tech | April 23, 2012 - 04:20 PM |
Tagged: input, mouse, gaming mouse, razer, Naga Hex Expert, mechanical keyboard

Not content with simply having 11 programmable buttons, the 6 removable thumb buttons on the Razer Naga Hex Expert gaming mouse use mechanical switches.  That is not just a marketing ploy however, this will allow very quick response from the buttons as well as giving them a longer life than less rugged choices.  Also included with this mouse is support for Synapse 2.0, the updated Razer mouse driver which Mad Shrimps found quite easy to use

If you prefer your mechanical keys on a keyboard then check out what Scott has been up to.

MadshrimpNAGA.jpg

"The new mouse from the Naga family is Hex and Razer has built it for MOBA and Action RPGs; it comes with 6 extra buttons on the thumb side and 3 different rubber thumb rests are also provided, to suit our needs. The customization of the mouse functions can be realized by using the powerful Razer Synapse 2.0 software, which can be downloaded freely from the manufacturers’ website."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: Mad Shrimps

Bad news upgraders; Intel's 22nm is suffering 28nm woes as well

Subject: General Tech | April 23, 2012 - 11:41 AM |
Tagged: Ivy Bridge, Intel, 28nm, 22nm

There is bad news out of DigiTimes today for those hoping to upgrade to an Ivy Bridge CPU when they first become available, the availability will not be good.  The thirteen desktop processors that are slated to be released any time now are predicted to suffer the same short supply that plagued AMD when they first released their 28nm parts and is still preventing those who can afford a GTX 680 from being able to buy one.  Hopefully this issue has been part of the core reason as to why the Ivy Bridge release date has been so well suppressed, even with the leaks that have appeared over the past quarter.  Perhaps Intel is planning to have enough good 22nm silicon stockpiled that the availability will be a bit better than the GTX 680 and perhaps even enough to see first adopters through until the production levels can be increased.

ivy-covered-bridge-felix-turner.jpg

"Although Intel is ready to launch and sell its upcoming Ivy Bridge-based processors soon, shipments of the processor are estimated to be lower than expected with the possible driver being either low capacity or yield rates, and the situation is forcing Intel to adjust its processor shipment proportions for notebook and desktop platforms, according to sources from PC players, which added that Nvidia and AMD are also facing shortage issues for their 28nm graphics cards."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

NVIDIA continues to tease, sends us a crowbar

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 23, 2012 - 09:58 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, crowbar, kepler

Remember when NVIDIA updated their Facebook page with "It's Coming..." and a picture that you had little chance of learning its origin?  Well the marketing team is at again, this time sending over a crowbar.  No, seriously.

crowbar1.jpg

"For Use in Case of Zombies Or...<NVIDIA LOGO>".  So either something BIG is coming later that I am going to need to open with said crowbar or maybe NVIDIA is partnering with Valve to announce Half-Life 3.  That second guess is just wishful thinking, sorry.

crowbar2.jpg

If nothing else I guess we'll thank NVIDIA for the additional weapon for the eventual zombie apocalypse until such time as they sit fit to clue me in on the joke.

Happy Monday!

Just Delivered: Corsair K60 & K90 Vengeance Mech Keyboards Type Hard, Type Harder, Type Hard: With a Vengeance

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Systems | April 21, 2012 - 01:24 AM |
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, corsair

Just Delivered is a class of articles at PC Perspective where we share what crosses into our offices, labs, houses, or pseudo-classified locations with crummy internet. Today we look at the Corsair Vengeance line of mechanical keyboards. We have received both the K60 FPS keyboard as well as the K90 MMO keyboard.

Some people say that when you try a mechanical keyboard, something just clicks.

That is not really the case for the Corsair Vengeance line of keyboards which use the linear Cherry MX Red switches. The key gives a light constant resistence until it hits bottom. Check out our explanation of the various type of switches from a few months ago to see the differences between Cherry MX switches.

corsairkeyboard.jpg

Seems quite odd, grammatically, to enter a market of new competitors with a Vengeance...

Just saying...

First impressions are that Corsair really put some thought and effort into these keyboards. Wrist rests snap into place and, in the K90's case, get screwed in for total stability. The brushed metal top is a great touch and gives the feeling of quality.

Each keyboard has a few non-mechanical keys which slightly take away from that feeling -- but that will be discussed in a more formal review setting.

corsairkeyboard2.jpg

Just for irony... I might play Wing Commander: Privateer as part of the Corsair review.

While Corsair to some extent markets these keyboards at different audiences -- it really does seem at first glance like the K90 is a direct upgrade to the K60, rather than a sidegrade. Apart from the custom shaped WSAD keys and the wrist rest, I cannot see much reason to go for the K60 over the K90 except for price.

That said, we shall find out for sure in the full review to be started shortly.

Source: PCPer

Could it be true, or do you want us to pull the other one?

Subject: General Tech | April 20, 2012 - 07:29 PM |
Tagged: kidding, not kidding, uncertain

It is nice to see a mix of topics in the General Tech Forum, there is proof that the RMA process does sometimes bring joy instead of pain to someone trying to keep their cool in the (soon to be) summer heat.  There are the usual suspects trying to track down the most cost effective upgrades as well as those who may have spotted a prebuilt PC that might be cheaper that a DIY machine.  The CPU forum on the other hand is currently very focused on a single topic ... when is Ivy Bridge coming out and should they wait until it does to even consider upgrading ... unless they're in China?

If you hit the Cases'n'Cooling Forum you can read one members long list of PSUs and how they generally rate against the competetion, see if you agree and if there are any other models you can add to the list.  In the storage Forum you can add your opinion to this thread that wonders if the VelociRaptor is still relevant in a solid state market.  On the other hand if you prefer gnomes to raptors then the Linux Forum is the place for you.

Podcast #198 is available and next week #199 will be appearing, but after that who knows?   Maybe if everyone clicks the ads long enough and truly believes we might live to #200  ... though you can count on our sick senses of humour surviving.

tinkerbell1.jpg

Podcast #198 - Maingear Shift with 3x7970s, Galaxy GTX 680, Intel PCIe SSD and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2012 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: ssd, podcast, pcie, nvidia, maingear, Intel, amd, 910, 7970, 680

PC Perspective Podcast #198 - 04/19/2012

Join us this week as we talk about a Maingear Shift with 3x7970s, a Galaxy GTX 680, an Intel PCIe SSD 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: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malvantano

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

Program length: 1:15:40

Program Schedule:

  1. Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. MAINGEAR Shift System Review - Triple HD 7970s and Sandy Bridge-E
  6. Western Digital VelociRaptor 1TB Review - 10K RPM Hits a Larger Capacity
  7. Galaxy GeForce GTX 680 2GB Graphics Card Review
  8. This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  9. Intel Releases 910 Series Enterprise PCIe SSD
  10. Valve, tired of rumors, announces wearable computing
  11. AMD Three for Free promo: HD 7900 Price drop & free games
  12. Intel Announces Intel Solid-State Drive 330 Series
  13. PC Perspective Live Review Recap: ASUS Z77 Motherboards
  14. New Fusion ioFX Will Accelerate Professional Workloads
  15. Microsoft Details Four Windows 8 SKUs, Seems Reasonable
  16. The never ending story of TSMC's 28nm process
  17. NVIDIA Teases Another Graphics Card
  18. Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Linksys power line networking...sucks.
    2. Jeremy: Something to do with that old walkman you haven't thrown out
    3. Josh: Finally! Down in price!
    4. Allyn: Stable Internet
  19. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  20. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  21. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  22. Closing

Source:

Intel Medfield powered cellphone appears ... in the Orient

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | April 19, 2012 - 11:50 AM |
Tagged: atom, Medfield

The new Atom processor, named Medfield, has appeared in a market far, far away.  The chip powering Lava's Xolo X900 runs at 1.6GHz and supports hyperthreading, the graphics core is clocked at 400MHz which Intel believes should be enough to allow it to output 1080p video via its HDMI plug.  The power efficiency of the new architecture has yet to be tested but the claim by the manufacturer is eight hours of talk time and five hours of 3G web browsing.  There are no available benchmarks yet but you can get an idea of the overall capabilities of this phone at The Inquirer.

theinq_xolo.jpg

"Intel and Indian handset maker Lava announced their intention to ship an Atom smartphone at Mobile World Congress in January. However Lenovo's K800 received all the attention, so Lava's Xolo X900 slipped under the radar to become the first shipping smartphone to feature Intel's Medfield Atom processor."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: The Inquirer

Google Drive Rumored To Launch Next Week

Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2012 - 04:23 AM |
Tagged: dropbox, storage, free storage, google, google drive

Users of online storage have been spoiled by services like Dropbox, Spider Oak, and Box.com who offer up gobs of free storage space. Before they became prevalent, there was Gmail and rumors of a Google Drive. This Google Drive never really materialized beyond user workarounds to upload files using a program that stored them in Google’s Email service’s approximate 9 GB of space.

Finally, after years of other services entrenching themselves in the market, it seems like Google may be jumping in. If rumors are true, the new online storage service will launch in the middle of next week at the drive.google.com URL. The Google Drive will reportedly offer 5GB of free storage space as well as paid tiers for increased storage levels (pricing unknown). Further, users will be able to access the files via the website and using applications. So far, rumors are pointing to a Windows and Mac OSX application, though it would not be surprising to see an Android app in the future.

GoogleDrive.jpg

I’m excited to see this service finally launch and what Google’s take on online storage will be. My only concern is whether they are jumping into the game at a time when it is too little too late. Sure, everyone and their grandmother likely have at least one Google/Gmail account but many of those people also have Dropbox accounts. The free services that were not really around when the first hints of a Google Drive emerged have not blossomed and dug their roots into the market. Even Apple and Microsoft have beat Google to the punch with cloud storage, so it is going to be an uphill battle for Google requiring something unique in order for it to catch on.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely going to be checking it out, but I believe they are really going to have to knock this out of the park on the first try in order to succeed. Will you be checking it out, and when (if?) you do please report back and let us know what you think of it. How do you think the other free and paid storage services will react to Google entering the market?

Image courtesy pmsyyz via Flickr Creative Commons

Source: The Next Web

Kids these days even need their Game of Life in HD

Subject: General Tech | April 18, 2012 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: gaming, game of life, john conway, von Neumann

John Conway's Game of Life originated in the 40s as a way of expressing the idea of cellular automata, aka life.  Originally a thought experiment using paper it has since become a very popular tool for young programmers to cut their teeth on, since the rules are very simple and you only need to input the original state after that the 'game' proceeds based on the rules.

For a space that is 'populated':
    Each cell with one or no neighbours dies, as if by loneliness.
    Each cell with four or more neighbours dies, as if by overpopulation.
    Each cell with two or three neighbours survives.
For a space that is 'empty' or 'unpopulated'
    Each cell with three neighbours becomes populated.

It is also a way to study how complexity can form from very simple initial states, as in some games you will resolve to a static square, while other times you might meet a fluctuating glider gun or a toad.  If you've never encountered this program before or are interested in setting it up on an FPGA then head to Hack a Day and see if you can't get some HD cellular automata to live more than 30 or 40 generations.

game-of-life-hd-e1334247619396.png

"We’re going to have to take [Mike's] word for it that he built Conway’s Game of Life with high-definition video output. That’s because this screenshot is his only proof and it looks a bit fuzzy to us. But we are interested in the project which used an FPGA to generate a 1080p VGA output of the classic programming challenge."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Source: Hack a Day

ASUS finally bids farewell to Pegatron

Subject: General Tech | April 18, 2012 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: Pegatron, fab, asus

Back in the ancient past of computer history, also known as 2007, ASUS split its self into numerous specialized companies with Asustek as the parent company overseeing all of the subsidiaries.  Since 2010, ASUS has been slowly separating from one of their offspring, Pegatron who is an original design manufacturer of ASUS motherboards, laptops and graphics cards.  Since there are a limited amount of quality motherboard manufacturers, which have limited production capabilities ASUS has split the load between several companies including ECS for motherboards and graphics cards and reached out to Foxconn and a handful of others for their mobile products.  Over the coming year we will begin to see these products coming out and it will be interesting to see if there is any noticeable difference in the quality of ASUS products in the second half of this year.  Get more information on the coming changes at DigiTimes.

pegatron-office.jpg

"Asustek Computer plans to decrease ODM production of motherboards by Pegatron beginning mid-2012 and completely end their ODM relationship by the end of the third quarter of 2012, according to component makers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: DigiTimes

Namco Bandai listens to online petition, makes Dark Souls PC. Namco Bandai to integrate GFWL, receives new petition.

Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2012 - 07:49 PM |
Tagged: GFWL, Dark Souls

Namco Bandai has announced Dark Souls: Prepare to Die edition for the PC. They then immediately make it clear that they do not understand their PC fans by announcing Games for Windows Live integration. Fans turn to yet another petition.

I must give Namco Bandai credit for their overall great business practice, but sometimes heads just happen to collide with desks.

Dark Souls was released on the PS3 and Xbox 360 recently and was critically lauded for not shying away from difficulty. PC Gamers, desiring a game that would be merciless to them, set up a petition for the game to be ported to their platform of choice. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die was announced earlier this month at least partially in response to the petition.

Unfortunately, Games for Windows Live would be integrated.

headdesk.png

No... no... no...

What could the internet do but write another petition? I mean, no sense letting Namco Bandai be confused why their game would not sell as well as the original petition would suggest.

That is one of the problems with fan service: they are your best customers and your harshest critics. If you go in for a penny, you really must go in for a pound. You will be rewarded in kind.

The PC-exclusive Dark Souls: Prepare to Die is expected to launch August 24th.

Source: The Escapist

NAB 12: ACME Portable Machines Seahawk 100 on show floor

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | April 17, 2012 - 04:55 PM |
Tagged: NAB 12, ACME

ACME Portable Machines showed off their Seahawk 100 computer on the show floor of the National Association of Broadcasters 2012 show. Multiple monitors, ruggedized, semi-portable, but slightly out of date on the hardware side.

When you think about portable computing: do you think about a laptop or a tablet? Either way you probably do not think about this product. But, should you?

Well if you did you would probably know it.

ACME Portable Machines is showing off the Seahawk 100 at NAB this week. The purpose for the device is to bring a fully functional multi-monitor computer where you need it, to plug it in, and to be assured that it will work.

ACME-1.jpg

Just don't give in to the temptation to make people call you the operator...

Functionally the device is slightly out of date with an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550S 2.83 GHz processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 video card, and 2-8 GB of RAM. If your desire is to play Starcraft 2 on the three monitors than you should have no problems, but that is not why you are purchasing this PC. If you are the type of person to visit the NAB show you probably will wish to include much more RAM than the default 2GB -- or even if you are not, 2GB is quite low nowadays.

ACME-2.jpg

It's not a tumah!

Price is only available by quote, but check out their website for more information. The design definitely looks interesting for users of its niche -- professionals in the field who just cannot live without the flexibility of multiple screens.

Thanks to our friend Colleen for the heads up and photos!

The never ending story of TSMC's 28nm process

Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2012 - 04:12 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, 28nm

Once again DigiTimes is focusing on TSMC's 28nm process, a node which we have been hearing a lot about for a long time.  Today they are proposing that perhaps the industry has been a bit harsh on TSMC and the availability of working 28nm silicon from that manufacturer.  Their analyst suggests that the 28nm node is still new to the industry and that the production lines still do not have all of the bugs worked out, let alone optimizations to decrease the time it takes to produce a wafer.  This is at least partially true though AMD has been using TSMC for its 28nm Southern Islands GPUs for a while now, other companies have not been so successful in using TSMC.  That seems to have scared other companies, not only is NVIDIA looking elsewhere for chips, Qualcomm is as well.  On the other hand, ARM is trying to get their customers to do the opposite, and are optimising their processors for TSMC's 28nm node, as well as the older 40nm.

DigiTimes may be spot on when they describe TSMC's 28nm process production speeds as increasing faster than previous nodes have and that the problems are only for specific chips and not across the board like the 40nm issues were.  Since TSMC is predicting that they will be running at 95% capacity by the end of the year they had better hope that they can speed production and find a way to do so without having to shut down entire production lines in order to implement any optimizations they discover along the way as any drop in supply is going to be poorly received by customers.

No process transition goes smoothly.  TSMC may be in the news more frequently than other Fabs but those competitors are not without their difficulties as we saw with the limited amount of GLOBALFOUNDRIES produced Llano chips at the end of last year.  Hopefully the current yields do improve, not just for the sake of the GTX 680 but for all of the other customers planning on moving to this node.  In the meantime, it offers a tech-centric soap opera for enthusiast to watch and speculate on.

waffle.jpg

"Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) could ramp up its 28nm production capacity at a much faster pace than older 40/45nm and 65nm process nodes, according to Digitimes Research analyst Nobunaga Chai. To make such speculation about yield problems with TSMC's 28nm processes is unfair, said Chai, adding that the foundry is actually improving the process yield rate within its expectations."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

Microsoft Details Four Windows 8 SKUs, Seems Reasonable

Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2012 - 07:04 AM |
Tagged: winRT, windows 8 on arm, windows 8, Metro

So Microsoft has officially stated in a blog post that their upcoming Windows 8 operating system will indeed be called “Windows 8” upon release and will come in four SKUs, three of which normal people will have use for and care about.

The three consumer oriented distributions or SKUs will be Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, and Windows RT [previously Windows On Arm]. The fourth SKU will be Windows 8 Enterprise and it will take all the features of Windows 8 Pro and then sprinkle in some IT management and volume licensing goodies to keep the majority of their customers (businesses) happy.

Windows 8 (1).png

Windows 8 (non Pro) is essentially the same feature level of operating system that Windows 7 Home Premium is now. On the other hand, Windows 8 Pro is what Windows 7 Ultimate is today. Both new Win 8 OSes are x86 and x64 based and will be the two consumer options available to upgrade to from Windows 7. Windows 8 delivers about what one would expect, media and general desktop features, multi-monitor support, media player, media center, Windows Defender, the Metro UI, Storage Spaces, and the updated Internet Explorer (among others). One interesting addition to Windows 8 (and Windows 8 Pro for that matter) is the ability to switch languages on the fly -- a feature that was previously reserved for the Ultimate edition of Windows.

Windows 8 Pro then incorporates all the features of Windows 8 and adds some important tools for worker bees and students including Group Policy, being a Remote Desktop host, BitLocker (and Bitlocker To Go) encryption, and the ability to join a domain (necessary for some students, depending on university). There are a few other goodies in the Pro version, but one nice touch is that the Pro version will be able to include Windows Media Center with an additional “media pack” download.

Windows RT is the third important SKU, despite the odd name. This new entrant is the official name for the ARM version of Windows 8. This version will only come pre-installed on certain computer systems (who have partnered with MS) meaning that Raspberry Pi users are out of luck and consumers will not be able to purchase Windows RT separately and install it on their own. This version will include the Windows desktop, language switching, multiple monitors, a VPN client, Windows Defender, device encryption (but no BitLocker), and a slew of Microsoft Office apps with updated touch-oriented interfaces. Windows RT takes many of the features of Windows 8 Pro but strips out a few things here and there to trim down the OS.

I’m glad that the previous rumors of approximately eight separate Windows 8 SKUs turned out to be false! Beyond that, I’m still absorbing the announcement and trying to figure out why they are calling it Windows RT (why not keep it simple and call it Windows On Arm). What are your thoughts on the announcement? Are you ready for Windows 8?  A Microsoft chart with more information on the feature differences between the various SKUs can be found here.

Source: Microsoft

Raspberry Pi Deliveries Starting Now

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2012 - 11:27 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, htpc

The UK charity behind the little computer that could -- The Raspberry Pi Foundation -- announced on Sunday that their Raspberry Pi computers are [finally!] shipping out to customers that pre-ordered the Model B boards. Creator Eben Upton hand delivered the first batch of Raspberry Pi computers to distributor RS Components in Corby which you can see in the video embedded below.

Some users have already reported receiving their boards, and the charity is starting to hold lectures and classes for students in the UK using the Raspberry Pi computers. In other good news, serial production of the Raspberry Pi computers has begun at the factories which means that the backlog of pre-orders should now be taken care of faster than previously estimated by RS and Farnell. More specific estimates on when you should be getting your Raspberry Pi should be provided to you later int he week from the distributor you ordered from.

I have yet to receive any e-mail from Farnell on the status of my Raspberry Pi since the first order verification email so I have a feeling I’m at the end of the line but at least they are shipping now and I’ll have some testing to do shorty!