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!

Have you ever wanted an audio codec decoder?

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2012 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: VIA, Realtec, decoder, codec, C-Media, audio, Analog Devices

There are a wide range of audio coder/decoders on the market, from a variety of vendors providing codecs for both onboard audio as well as for discrete cards which can prove confusing to even veteran PC builders.  With Analog Devices, Realtec, C-Media, VIA and several other smaller vendors providing a wide range of codecs and controllers you can easily be lost in the alphabet soup of model names.  Perhaps you wish there was a handy reference that would give you a list of the basic capabilities of these codecs, like the Channels available, input and output resolution, the maximum sampling rates and the signal to noise ratio?  Hardware Secrets has heard your plea and assembled a list of the more common codecs on the market today which you can refer to here.

HS_coderdecoder.jpg

"Audio codec is a small chip measuring 0.25 sq. in. (7 mm2) located on the motherboard in charge of the analog audio functions. Knowing the specs of a codec will permit you to compare the audio quality of different motherboards, allowing you to choose the right product for your needs."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

ARM aims to make TSMC the Fab of choice for their customers

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2012 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: arm, TSMC, fab, cortex a15, cortex-a9, 28nm, 40nm

ARM has developed some optimizations for their chips, provided that the customer purchasing them uses TSMC to fabricate them.  ARM has licensed a large variety of fabrication companies to produce their chips but with their familiarity with TSMC's 28nm and 40nm processes they have been able to introduce performance enhancing optimizations specific to TSMC.  It could taste a bit like favouritism but is much more likely to stem from the volume of TSMC's production as well as the maturity of the 40nm process node.  The 28nm node could be a bit of a problem for ARM as we have seen that TSMC is not having an easy time producing enough good dies for their customers; this is why you cannot buy a GTX 680.  As The Inquirer points out, if ARM wants to make sure their customers can get their hands on reasonable volumes of chips, they will want to create optimizations specific to other manufacturers sooner rather than later.

arm-cortex-a15.jpg

"CHIP DESIGNER ARM has released a slew of optimisation packs for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) 28nm and 40nm process nodes.

ARM, which licenses designs to many chip designers, including Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Nvidia and Samsung, has given TSMC a boost by offering processor optimisation packs for the firm's 28nm and 40nm process nodes. ARM claims the optimisation packs for its Cortex-A5, Cortex-A7, Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A15 processor cores help designers make use of TSMC's process node nuances to get the most out of their designs."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Minecraft DOTA: Because FP DOTA needs more awesome?

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2012 - 12:49 AM |
Tagged: Minecraft, DOTA

Defense of the Ancients, originally a mod for Blizzard-based games which inspired games like League of Legends and DOTA2, comes to Minecraft. Unlike other variants, it is from a first-person perspective rather than top-down -- and it’s in Minecraft without needing client-side mods.

If you are a PC gamer -- firstly, welcome home -- but also you are probably will aware of something called a “mod community”.

Minecraft lends itself well to mod developers. Minecraft for the PC allows for their community to edit much of the game to customize it to their likings. Even without editing the core game client itself, there is a large amount of customization possible from within the game -- including, apparently, developing a fully functional DOTA game type.

I cannot possibly describe how epic this is…

The game type of DOTA is quite simple in concept: kill AI to get money, use money to buy items, use items to kill the enemy team and their base.

Normally played from a top-down perspective, Minecraft DOTA is played from a first person perspective. One or two towers are placed in each of your team’s three lanes out to the jungle. In order to kill an enemy, you must destroy all five of their towers which is a feat requiring at least two people to accomplish. Once all five towers are destroyed, you can destroy their nexus (which requires three attackers) and win.

Check out the latest build at MineCraftForum.net.

AMD Three for Free promo: HD 7900 Price drop & free games

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 16, 2012 - 12:25 AM |
Tagged: southern islands, price cut, amd

AMD, for a limited time and while supplies last, will bundle three games with the purchase of a Radeon HD 7900 Series graphics card. The qualifying cards, the Radeon HD 7950 (now $399) and 7970 (now $479), will be bundled with DiRT Showdown, Nexuiz, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution with The Missing Link DLC.

Getting a game bundled with your GPU is not the most unheard-of practice, but could still be a good deal regardless. Bundling three high-profile games and an expansion DLC for one of them is very likely to be a good deal however you look at it.

AMD will soon launch their “Three for Free” promotion for qualifying Radeon HD 7950 and 7970 video cards from participating resellers. With this program, AMD will throw in DiRT Showdown, Nexuiz, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution with The Missing Link DLC with their video card.

AMDThreeForFree.png

AMD’s throwing DiRT in a Showdown?

The selection of games is quite impressive but they only serve as BBQ sauce for the promotion: the HD 7000 series are receiving price cuts.

AMD is lowering the price of the Radeon HD 7970 to $479 and the HD 7950 to $399 along with the three-and-a-bit free games. Also cut in price, although not qualifying for the free games, is the Radeon HD7770 which loses $20 off of its price tag with an expected price of $139. Check out Ryan’s review for the performance of that card.

You can keep a lookout for these updated prices here on Newegg.com!

Source: PCPer

MUXing around in an aMUSEing search engine

Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2012 - 08:53 PM |
Tagged: Google BBS

Google BBS Terminal is an art project, not endorsed by Google, which imagines what Google would have looked like if there were around a decade earlier.

Be honest, who here at one point used a telnet client recreationally?

If you feel lucky, there is an interesting art project which has recently been released called Google BBS Terminal. Developed in web standards, the site performs Google search and news queries in a colorful text-only application. The site, as well as being functional, overlays annoying modem and keyboard squeals and clicks to really drill a hole through your nostalgia.

Google.png

Don't be Eeeeeevvveeeeeee-dun-dung-greeeeeeeeh

The author has a number of projects on his site including Javascript-based emulators, assemblers, and text-to-speech engines. While I doubt that it will become your dominant search engine, it should be fun to mess around with on a hazy Monday break. Gopher it!

Source: mass:werk

Valve, tired of rumors, announces wearable computing

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | April 14, 2012 - 04:09 PM |
Tagged: valve, wearable computers

Valve has been under the public eye since rumors of The Steam Box broke. To put out the rumors, Michael Abrash -- now at Valve -- announced their mystery project investigates computing devices that you can wear.

Great, that is just what we need, more Steam punks and their costumes.

Valve has traditionally been somewhat of a quiet company accustomed to public speculation. In a change of pace from the typical cries to release Half Life 2: Episode 3, Valve has recently been subject to rumors about breaking into the hardware business. In another change of pace, Valve has announced their hardware project is wearable computers and publicly solicited for job applicants to join in the research.

Gaben.jpg

Want me to show you my knife collection?

(Photo Credit, Giant Bomb)

Michael Abrash wrote in his blog on Valve’s website what his work is based on and it is quite similar to what Google is looking at with their augmented reality glasses.

By “wearable computing” I mean mobile computing where both computer-generated graphics and the real world are seamlessly overlaid in your view; there is no separate display that you hold in your hands (think Terminator vision).

While this is very interesting, it still remains to be seen where Valve intends to be involved with this project. Steam is pushing out from the desktop PC to the home theatre with their Big Picture UI and what that could potentially spread out into.

It is entirely possible that Google and Valve both see some link between Steam/Google TV and Wearable Computers/Augmented Reality glasses that we are just unable to perceive yet and are lunging for the same target. While the blog posting is very interesting, it still reveals little about the technology itself.

Also, this announcement does not mean that Valve is not working on a hardware platform to accompany The Big Picture, it just says more about what Valve is currently working on in secret. The previous rumors could still have some shred of truth in them.

As for when we will see wearable computing? It’s still a long ways out in Valve time.

To be clear, this is R&D – it doesn’t in any way involve a product at this point, and won’t for a long while, if ever – so please, no rumors about Steam glasses being announced at E3. It’s an initial investigation into a very interesting and promising space, and falls more under the heading of research than development.

So, which will we see first? Valve augmented reality devices, or the stunning conclusion to Gordon Freeman’s story-arc? That is a bet that will require one heck of a patient bookie to make.
Source: Valve

Valve denies Steam Box, posts job for Hardware Engineer

Subject: General Tech, Systems | April 13, 2012 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Box

Doug Lombardi of Valve denied rumors of the Steam Box console last month, but fell short of denying future possibilities and so forth. Recently, Valve has posted a job opening on their website for an electronics engineer.

When Valve’s Doug Lombardi responded to rumors of a “Steam Box” console, he used the following words which were posted all over the internet as Valve denies Steam Box console rumors:

We're prepping the Steam Big Picture Mode UI and getting ready to ship that, so we're building boxes to test that on. We're also doing a bunch of different experiments with biometric feedback and stuff like that, which we've talked about a fair amount, […] All of that is stuff that we're working on, but it's a long way from Valve shipping any sort of hardware.

GabeNewellTrollFalse.png

That is not a denial!
(Image created with Memegenerator.net)
(And yes, I know that's Gabe Newell, not Doug Lombardi)

 

As it turns out Valve has just recently posted a job position for a Hardware Engineer with the following duties:

Work with the hardware team to conceive, design, evaluate, and produce new types of input, output, and platform hardware

Join our highly motivated team that’s doing hardware design, prototyping, testing, and production across a wide range of platforms. We’re not talking about me-too mice and gamepads here – help us invent whole new gaming experiences.

While that hardware engineer position could be any number of things including peripheral development, it is clear that Valve wants to get into hardware more than they let on. This looks to be more than just development hardware.

Source: Valve

Microsoft's product leak - it's not wrong, just don't trust it

Subject: General Tech | April 13, 2012 - 11:57 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, leak, office 15, internet explorer 10

Microsoft had a very atypical reaction to the leak of slides which you can catch at The Register this morning.  While most companies disavow any knowledge of leaks and refuse to either confirm or deny the veracity of the leaks, Microsoft came out and confirmed that the plans and dates are correct but that no one should bank on them actually meeting those deadlines.  March of next year is when Office 15 is slated to arrive, along with Exchange, SharePoint, Visio and Project updates.  Office 360 should continue to receive updates every quarter, so users of that SaaS may be the first to encounter any changes that will be incorporated into Office 15.  Any users of IE should expect a new version this summer, but after that it will be two years before the next major rehaul of the browser occurs.

MSLeak.png

"Maarten Visser, CEO of Dutch cloud developer consultancy Meetroo, posted the plans, which were issued by Redmond at the end of last year, on his Twitter stream and they include launch dates for product as Office 15, Windows Phone and IE 10. Microsoft has confirmed the veracity of the images, but warns you shouldn't bet the bank on them."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Podcast #197 - Z77 Motherboards, GTX690 Rumors, and the truth behind the new Indilinx controller

Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2012 - 03:46 PM |
Tagged: Z77, ssd, podcast, nvidia, Marvell, Ivy Bridge, Intel, Indilinx, gtx690

PC Perspective Podcast #197 - 04/12/2012

Join us this week as we talk about Z77 Motherboards, GTX690 Rumors, and the truth behind the new Indilinx controller.

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: 1:19:45

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. iPad 2012 vs. Transformer Prime
  6. Kingwin Lazer Platinum 1000W
  7. Asus ROG Maximus V GENE
  8. Raspberry Pi passes EMC Compliance
  9. This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  10. Will the real Indilinx controller ...
    1. please make themselves known to the staff
  11. NV Tegra 4 Specifications Leak
  12. Maingear Shift System: Just Delivered
  13. ZOTAC Intel 7 Series Mobos
  14. Leaks about NV GTX 690
  15. Epic talks storm of Bullets
  16. http://www.pcper.com/news/Graphics-Cards/NVIDIA-Introduces-Two-New-Rebranded-600-Series-Cards
  17. http://www.pcper.com/news/Systems/PCAudioLabs-Editing-PC-Sweepstakes-Winner
  18. This week: Still working on watercooling from Antec
  19. Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan:  thermite 
    2. Jeremy:  Scotch in Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!
    3. Josh:  Morrowind Overhaul
    4. Allyn:  IDE USB Dock!
  20. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  21. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  22. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  23. Closing

Source:

We are going to need a word describing people obsessed with mechanical keyboards and switches

Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2012 - 01:00 PM |
Tagged: corsair, Vengeance K60, Vengeance K90, mechanical keyboard, cherry mx red, input

If you haven't mastered the ability to identify the difference between mechanical keyboard switches then you should check out Scott's primer on the four main flavours of Cherry.  Then you can cheek out a review of Corsair's Vengeance K60 and K90 keyboards at The Tech Report which both utilize the Cherry MX Red variety and are considered a great choice for gamers.  The big difference between the two models is the array of programmable macro keys which exist on the left hand side of the K90 as well as the rubber dampers which are added.  The Tech Report were not impressed with the dampers, they felt it muddied the keystroke and made it feel more like a membrane type keyboard.  Check them both out in the full review.

TR_k60and90.jpg

"Join us as we rattle away on the lovely mechanical keyswitches of Corsair's aluminum-clad Vengeance K60 and K90 keyboards."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Intel Centerton; the next big thing in Micro Machines

Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2012 - 12:32 PM |
Tagged: microserver, Centerton, seamicro, atom, low power

Microservers are the newest old idea to hit the PR flacks, anyone who remembers the original blade servers already has a good idea what a microserver is.  Intel has once again tried to take ownership of a form factor, in this case defining what they feel the market should consider a microserver.  In some ways, the single socket design seems to run counter to current low power servers, which tend towards large arrays of low powered APUs but at the same time when you no longer have to worry about the interconnects between those APUs you can drop the price significantly.

AMD has had several forays into this market and while Intel has never put much effort into this segment vendors like Dell and HP have been creating microservers using an Intel processor for some time.  This heralds a change in Intel's strategy when taking on ARM and AMD in the server room, with the 6W Atom Centerton chip they announced at IDF.  The Inquirer was also told of 10W and 15W parts which would be more powerful although they could also require a bit more space than what the 6W part could survive in.  It seems that those looking for inexpensive servers which require very little infrastructure will have a lot of choices to spend their money on by the end of this year.

micro-machines-9.jpg

"CHIPMAKER Intel dropped an Atom bomb on the second day of IDF in Beijing, announcing its 'Centerton' microserver chip that will draw just a miserly 6W of thermal design power (TDP).

It defines a microserver as a computer with one socket, error correction, 64-bit processing, and minimal memory and I/O. The Atom Centerton platform will have two cores, Hyperthreading and support for ECC DDR3 as well as VT-x virtualisation technology. Intel said the Atom Centerton chip will be available in the second half of this year."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Wait, copy/pasting levels is a bad thing? Dragons Age 3 reputed to be much less like Halo

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2012 - 04:19 PM |
Tagged: gaming, dragon age 3, BioWare

If you can believe the hints that BioWare is dropping, Dragon Age 3 should feel a lot less like a very expensive, poorly designed add on and more like an actual new game.  Of course, this comes from a very quick talk given at PAX about an unannounced game which might or might not be in development, so your sodium intake for the day should be adjusted to compensate.  They also implied that your choices would Effect the ending of the game ... now where have we heard that before?

RPS_dat1.jpg

"Rumours are flying that Dragon Age 3 might be something more like the sequel to Dragon Age we’ve been hoping for. After Dragon Age 2 came out feeling more like a side-project, BioWare have dropped some hefty hints that they’re looking to redress much of that in an unannounced third game for the series. At a PAX East panel, as spotted by Eurogamer and recorded by Gamespot, Dragon Age developers discussed what a hypothetical game might contain, were it to exist, which it currently doesn’t, but obviously does. It’s to be a far more varied game, with new locales, and decisions that carry over from previous games."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Seems that CPU-less video streaming is not NP-Hard

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2012 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, NPEngine, video streaming

The NPEngine from Toshiba has a big future for content providers who would be interested in streaming thousands of concurrent videos and save on space and power requirements.  The quote from the article at The Register claims a 70% reduction in size and a 77% reduction in power consumption for a provider who could provide 100,000 separate streams.  That savings demonstrates the benefit of purpose built hardware, what it lacks in versatility it more than makes up for in savings.  The server version is due out this year, with the possibility of a single chip version for laptops and SFF machines which will take the CPU completely out of the picture when playing HD video.

elreg_toshiba_npengine.jpg

"Toshiba's NPEngine hardware directly streams video from SSDs to IP networks without using host server CPU cycles or memory.

Tosh claims the dedicated hardware delivers up to 64,000 x 40Gbit/sec video streams – way more than the 20,000 or so an average 2U server is said to be able to stream. The Toshiba hardware, a server card, can replace at least two video-streaming servers and enable its host server to do other work."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Epic talks a storm of bullets. Piracy hurt the sequel?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | April 10, 2012 - 10:45 PM |
Tagged: piracy, epic games, bulletstorm

Mike Capps of Epic Games, among many other developers and publishers, completely misses the point about piracy. No-one can control piracy, they can only control factors which influence it -- but controlling those factors is meaningless if sales are sacrificed in the process. No-one gets paid by not being pirated; people get paid by making sales.

Frequent readers of my editorials are probably well aware that I am quite vocal about many topics including piracy, the consumables model of art, censorship, and used content sales. I take a very mathematical approach to a lot of complicated topics. Unfortunately, a lot of what is considered common truths is based on fundamentally invalid statistics. It gives me a lot to write about.

Mike Capps of Epic Games was interviewed by GameSpot during PAX East and at some point in the discussion the topic floated across Bulletstorm. On the topic of its lower-than-expected sales, Capps added that the PC version was adversely affected by piracy.

bulletstorm.png

Piracy gnashing its teeth?

Similar statements have been made for countless other games at countless other times. Each of those statements makes a subtle but gigantic mistake in formulating the problem: piracy is not something which does, piracy is something which is. Piracy does not affect your sales, but whatever affected piracy might also affect sales in one way or another.

The intuition is that sales decrease as piracy increases and vice versa. That assumption is nullified by counter-example: do not release a product. Piracy and sales, if you do not release a game, will trend in the same direction: to zero. It is now obvious that sales and piracy do not always inversely correlate.

As Mike Capps also stated in the interview, Bulletstorm had a very rough launch and lifespan on the PC. Bulletstorm required for Games for Windows Live, encrypted its settings, and did other things to earn a reputation since launch as a bad console port to the PC. Customers complained about the experience on the PC which fueled an inferno of uncertainty and doubt for potential buyers.

Being pirated is not losing a sale, but losing a customer before their purchase is.

I was personally on the fence about Bulletstorm and this negative word-of-mouth lead me to ignore the title. I did not purchase the game, I did not pirate the game; I ignored the game. Perhaps those who pirated your title did so because they were interested, became discouraged, but were not discouraged enough to avoid giving it a chance with piracy?

What I am saying is -- piracy cannot reduce your sales (it cannot do anything, it is a measurement), but perhaps whatever combination of factors reduced your sales may also have increased your piracy?

Piracy is an important measurement to consider -- but it, like sales, is just that, a measurement, nothing more. Strive to increase your sales -- keep an eye on your piracy figures to learn valuable information -- but always exclusively strive to increase your sales. It is the measurement that will pay your bills.

Source: GameSpot

More leaks about NVIDIA's Dual-GPU GTX 690? May be?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 10, 2012 - 07:18 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, leak, GTX 690

More information has surfaced about NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 690 video card. While other tidbits came to light, perhaps most interesting is the expected May release.

NVIDIA has suffered from quite a few leaks near their launch of the GeForce GTX 680 GPU and its associated cards. Benchmarks were accidentally published early and product pages were mistakenly posted premature. The hot streak continues.

10-nv_logo.png

It may be time to just reset fate and skip to the GTX 700-series. I mean they will eventually be rebranded 700-something anyway.

I kid, I kid.

Not many specifications were leaked, although there is not much left that cannot already be assumed about the card due to the similarities with its sister part.

The reference model GTX 690 will require two 8-pin power connectors and output via three DVI ports as well as a mini DisplayPort. The already released GTX 680, by contrast, requires two 6-pin connectors and outputs by two DVI, an HDMI, and a full size DisplayPort.

The new card will require more power for its dual GK104 GPUs as the larger power connectors would suggest. While the GTX 680 is happy with 550W of total system power, the GTX 690 would like a system power supply of at least 650W. Since the 680 is expected to draw a maximum of 195W, an extra 100W would put estimates for the 690 power draw at somewhere around 295W.

Unfortunately estimates based on rated total system power are very inaccurate as power supply requirements are often raised to the nearest 50W. Really, the 690 could be anywhere between 245W and 295W and even those figures are just estimates.

Still, it looks as though my 750W power supply will survive past May when the leak claims that the GTX 690 is expected to arrive. Yay! May!

Source: EXPreview

Composite Copper and Graphene to make a cool couple.

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | April 10, 2012 - 06:03 PM |
Tagged: graphene, cooling

Researchers at NC State University have tested the heat dissipation properties of copper-graphene. Their findings suggest that the material could be cheaper and more effective than pure copper.

Some people have gone to ridiculous lengths to cool their components. Some people flush their coolant regularly. Some people will never live down mineral oil jokes. No two computers are not on fire. Awwww.

Copper is regularly used as a method of dissipating heat as it is highly efficient when sufficiently pure. While copper is expensive, it is not expensive enough to be prohibitive for current use. Alternatives are still being explored and a researcher at NC State University believes graphene might be part of the answer.

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Some people stick a bathroom suction fan out a window and run a 3” drier hose into their case.

As always, I become immediately skeptical when a team of researchers make a claim such as this. Whether or not these issues are valid have yet to be seen, but they come to mind none-the-less. The paper claims that the usage is designed for power amplifiers and laser diodes.

My first concern is with geometry. Effective cooling is achieved by exposing as much surface area between two materials as is possible for the situation. Higher heat conductance allows heat to get away much more efficiently, but the heat still needs to be removed to a reservoir of some sort, such as your room. There has not been much talk about the possibilities to then remove the heat after copper-graphene so efficiently sucks from the heat source.

My second concern is with the second layer of indium-graphene. While it seems as though the amount of indium required is quite small -- just a single layer between the heat source and the copper-graphene -- we do not really know for certain how that relates to real world applications. Indium is still a very rare element which is heavily mined for touch screen devices. It might prove to be cheap, but there is only so much of it. Would we also be able to reclaim the Indium later, or will it end up in a landfill?

These concerns are probably quite minor but it is generally good practice to not get too excited when you see a research paper. Two points if you see any of the following: Nano, Graphene or Carbon Nanotubes, Lasers, and anything related to High-Frequency.

Take a pictorial tour of Kingston's SSD facility

Subject: General Tech | April 10, 2012 - 11:48 AM |
Tagged: kingston, fab, tour, ssd

Tweaktown was invited put on a bunny suit and take a tour of Kingston's SSD manufacturing facility in Taiwan.  Starting from a pile of surface mount transistors which are automatically soldered and inspected before being baked at up to 270C once all the components have been mounted to the PCB, they snapped pictures of as much of the process as they could.  From there it is off to the testing facility where Kingston ensures that all the drives that came off of a particular run are up to the expected standards.  TweakTown does mention a burn-in machine, but unfortunately they were told not to post them as Kingston wanted to keep at least a few trade secrets from getting out.  It could also be that they don't want the world to know that they cloned Al several times and use his SSD killing expertise as the final test before releasing a drive to the channel to be sold.

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"We were exclusively invited into the Kingston factory where few media have been and got shown the process of making an SSD from start to finish. Due to media restrictions, we were not allowed to produce a video of the tour, but we were allowed to take photos. Obviously Kingston is a market leader in memory and SSD products and there is plenty of sensitive machinery and such - and we needed to respect that and their rules."

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Source: Tweaktown