Microsoft will fix what their OEM partners break -- for $99

Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 17, 2012 - 03:13 PM |
Tagged: Microsoft Store, crapware

“Factory computers” have been loaded with demos and trials for several years now in an effort to subsidize part of the cost, get lower prices, and bloat your computer -- that last part is unintentional. Microsoft created their “Signature” lineup of PCs a couple of years ago to highlight products that only have software which Microsoft intended to install. Microsoft will soon offer a service to bring existing PCs to what Microsoft deems a Signature status for $99 if you can find a Microsoft store.

While our readers are affected by this story they are probably less so than just about any other blog.

If you did not acquire your computer by having it assembled -- and if you did, we hope you consulted our regularly updated Hardware Leaderboard -- you probably purchased it from an OEM. To make their product seem more appealing most OEMs load their products with product demos and other advertisements. This is particularly bad for PCs because they are not only annoying but also tend to bog the machine down.

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What is it with Microsoft Stores and awkward $99 products lately?

(and yes I realize the image is inaccurate because I chose a non-consumer workstation)

Since Microsoft tends to get the brunt of the bad recognition when a Windows machine it comes to no surprise that they eventually attempted to encourage a more vanilla experience. The Microsoft “Signature” lineup of PCs were OEM-produced machines which have been removed of all software that should not come with Windows -- except maybe a few Windows Live Essentials products.

Microsoft will expand their Signature program to any PC if you can find a Microsoft Store and pay $99 to undo what their partners did.

It is unclear what specific goal Microsoft is hoping to accomplish with this program. Everyone’s first reaction would be that they are attempting to cash in at the expense of their users but that just does not make sense. They could be attempting to promote the Windows store but this certainly seems less like a carrot and more like a wet noodle. They could also be trying to pressure their OEMs by reducing the cost-per-impression they can acquire for each ad because of how easily it could be removed.

It would be most like Microsoft to honestly believe that this service will be appreciated by users. If that is true, I must disagree. ZDNet has already used this as an excuse to promote Apple computers -- which makes me headdesk because $99 is pocket change compared to that -- so I expect that if that was Microsoft’s intent it will backfire wholly.

What do you think Microsoft’s goal is: selfish vulching their consumers or something less devious?

Source: ZDNet

Corsair Giving Away Five Vengeance 2000 Wireless Headsets

Subject: General Tech | May 16, 2012 - 10:45 PM |
Tagged: vengeance 2000, vengeance, headset, gaming, corsair

Popular computer case and power supply maker Corsair recently launched a sweepstakes to get the word out about their new Vengeance 2000 wireless gaming headsets. They will be giving away five of the new virtual surround sound headsets to winners.

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The contest is open to new entrants until Monday (5/21/12), and is very simple to enter. To enter the contest, head over to their Facebook contest page and hit the “Like” button. Then click on the green “Enter Sweepstakes” button. After that, they invite you to tell your friends about the contest. They have a couple thousands entries so far, so get in while you can! The Official Rules are linked on the bottom of the contest page but it looks like anyone over the age of 18 not affiliated with the company is eligible to win.

The Vengeance 2000 is essentially the wireless version of the company's Vengeance 1500 USB gaming headset with a noticeable makeover. The headset uses 50mm drivers and 2.4GHz wireless technology to deliver virtual surround sound without a wired connection to the PC, and up to about 40 feet. It also features a rechargeable battery in the headset and an adjustable noise canceling boom microphone. The headsets have an MSRP of $149 USD.

Best of luck in the contest, and if you win be sure to let us know what you think of them!

Source: Corsair

Microsoft Signature Will Clean Your Windows Install For $99

Subject: General Tech | May 16, 2012 - 06:31 PM |
Tagged: Windows 7, windows, microsoft signature, microsoft

Microsoft’s Signature program is a Microsoft Store and online service where the company resells OEM partners’ computers without all the traditional bloatware programs. The company puts a clean install of Windows on the hardware, installs Microsoft applications–including Microsoft Security Essentials, Live Movie Maker, and Live Mail–and optimized the OS for that particular machine’s hardware. This Signature install of Windows has only been available to users that purchased a new computer from Microsoft–until now.

Microsoft_Signature.jpg

According to Ars Technica, Microsoft is now offering to turn any OEM PC running Windows into a Signature edition of the operating system for a one-time fee of $99. DIYers and enthusiasts are likely to scoff at the nearly hundred dollar price tag for popping in a Windows 7 install disc and doing a clean install, but the Signature service is most certainly not aimed at the technically savvy market to begin with. Rather, this is a service for ordinary computer users to get the most performance out of their computer while avoiding the numerous “optimize my PC” scams and malware-programs-masquerading-as-Windows-utilities minefield. Doing a clean install and then optimizing the OS can take at least an hour (though enthusiasts can generally shave that time down quite a bit), and a straight fee of $99 is a lot less than consumers are likely to find elsewhere (especially since that includes 90 days of tech support). And that’s where I think this program is okay, and even a good thing. Most OEM systems come pre-loaded with a bunch of unwanted programs and trial offers that serve no real purpose besides making the OEM more money. There is also the issue of security. The majority of OEM systems come pre-loaded with some form of trial antivirus (usually Norton), and customers are notorious for not upgrading to the paid edition after the trial period or replacing it with (better) free antivirus applications. For $99, Microsoft will take the OEM machine and spruce it up to be the operating system that it should have been running in the first place. Besides price, the other barrier to this catching on is that customers need to bring the PC into a Microsoft Store (which are few and far between).

That statement is where many users are not pleased with Microsoft. They believe that Microsoft should exert more control over what OEMs are allowed to do with its operating system. Certainly, that is the ideal solution, but Microsoft is not Apple and they do not have the same level of control over the resulting hardware and what is bundled into the OS after it is purchased by OEMs. The Signature program is at least a step in the right direction and making the best of the situation. Also, it is an optional service that consumers are free to shop around to find a better price (or learn how to do it themselves by checking out guides online). It may not be the best thing, but at least Microsoft recognizes that there is a problem and is offering an alternative.

I’ll admit that I reacted unfavorably when I first read about the program, especially since it seemed so expensive for what comes as second nature to me. But not everyone wants to muck around in settings and for those with more money than time the Signature program is not a bad deal. It’s not for me, but I can see situations where it will work well. What are your thoughts on the program; do you see it as useful or is Microsoft way off base here?

Source: Ars Technica

Take a break from Diablo 3 to look behind the scenes

Subject: General Tech | May 16, 2012 - 12:04 PM |
Tagged: gaming, diablo iii

Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN was given the chance to sit down with the senior world designer and the lead technical artist of Diablo 3.  One of the topics of discussion will be near and dear to those who played the previous games in the series, co-op multiplayer, which really defined the game for those who tried it.  Somehow button mashing in tandem was much more enjoyable than the already great single player experience and the development team spent a good deal of effort bringing that experience to Diablo 3.  They also talk about the difficulties of including enough lore to keep players who want some depth to the story of the game but ensuring that those players who don't care for a back story don't feel it is getting in the way of their game.  At no time were rainbows or unicorns discussed.

diablo35.jpg

"Diablo III is now a thing that you’re capable of owning and (hopefully) playing. Just before the launch, when those network problems were yet to freeze Hell over, I sat down with senior world designer Leonard Boyarsky and lead technical artist Julian Love to keep them company as queues formed in the streets outside. Along the way, I discovered that having an ex-Troika chap on your game means that ‘lore’ is a very important word indeed, that the distant roguelike heritage hasn’t been forgotten and that technological progression doesn’t necessarily alter design principles."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Gigabyte USA Announces Gigabyte eSports LAN

Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2012 - 06:22 PM |
Tagged: LAN party, lan, gigabyte, gaming, case mod contest

Popular motherboard manufacturer Gigabyte Technology Co. recently announced the Gigabyte eSports LAN (GESL), which is its first eSports event in North America. The event includes a BYOC (bring your own computer) LANFest, tournament competitions in Starcraft II and League of Legends, a case mod competition, presentations, and an event raffle. The competitions each feature various prizes for winning including Gigabyte G1.Sniper 3 motherboards, graphics cards, RAM, and other computer hardware. Starcraft II and League of Legends further offer $11,000 and $10,000 prize pools respectively.

Gigabyte_Esports_LAN.jpg

The event will be held at the California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, California from June 15th to June 17th, 2012. In additon to Gigabyte, the eSports event is co-sponsored by Kingston and Cooler Master, among others. The LAN competitions will be broadcast in HD for free during the event for those that can’t attend in person. Alternatively, users can purchase spectator badges for $15 USD. There will also be an event raffle during the GESL that will give away various pieces of computer hardware and company swag to attendees.

casemod-contest.jpg

Further, the case mod contest will showcase systems from participants of the BYOC LANFest or spectators, of which five winners will be chosen. They will receive computer hardware and coverage in CPU Magazine should they win.

More information on the event can be found at the Gigabyte eSports LAN website (thegesl.com).

Source: Gigabyte USA

Sandy Bridge Xeons galore! Seventeen new E5s arrive

Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2012 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: xeon, xeon e5, Sandy Bridge E, Sandy Bridge EN, Sandy Bridge EP, lga 1356, lga 2011

Today marks the arrival of the Xeon E3-1200 single socket processor with 17 more models coming soon for two, four, or even eight socket motherboards, though according to The Inquirer Intel has no plans to scale to 16 sockets.  They come in a bewildering array of models including the Sandy Bridge E we are used to, Sandy Bridge EN which uses LGA 1356 and is intended for dual CPU motherboards as it only has one QPI and the LGA 2011 Sandy Bridge EP which scales higher thanks to dual QPI.  No triple QPI but that may still be in store to reduce the number of hops in an 8+ socket board to 2 when used in symmetric multiprocessing in the future.

The E5-2400 (SB-EP) has eight cores and is targeted straight at AMD's lower price, lower power consumption chips as well as offering a noticeable improvement over the already launched E3s.  The E5-2600 family with its dual QPI is more suited for high powered applications that need several powerful processors working in tandem but not to the levels that the E7 series provides.  By offering such a wide variety of choices, especially a family of what for Intel are very low cost processors they are really putting a lot of pressure on AMD and the soon to be released Piledriver family.

Inq_intel_xeon_e5_4600_diagram.jpg

"If you were planning on buying new servers in the coming weeks and months, Intel just gave you a whole lot of homework. And if you work at Advanced Micro Devices, you're getting some homework, too."

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Source: The Inquirer

NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference Keynote Live Stream

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | May 15, 2012 - 10:14 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, GTC 2012, live

Are you interested in GPUs?  Maybe GPU computing or even some cloud-based GeForce announcements?  Chances are then you'll want to tune in to the NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference keynote today at 10:30am PT / 1:30pm ET.  

gtc01.png

NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang is expected to be on stage with three new announcements, one of which will likely be the the GK110 GPU we have all been waiting to hear about.  Another has been teased as "a new major cloud gaming technology" while the third...well I really have no idea. It should be exciting though so tune in and watch along with us!

You can catch it all at http://www.gputechconf.com/!

Amped Wireless new Wireless-N 600mW Gigabit Dual Band, Dual Antenna Router

Subject: General Tech | May 14, 2012 - 05:05 PM |
Tagged: Amped Wireless, R20000G, Wireless-N, gigabit router

If you don't win the brand new Netgear R6300 802.11ac router which we were giving away last week you might be wondering just how you can get your hands on a Gigabit wireless device.  Amped Wireless might just have what you need if you are serious about streaming large amounts of data wirelessly, be it game data, video or VoIP calls.  The R20000G provides dual 600mW 2.4GHz amplifiers and dual 5.0GHz amplifiers allowing the use of both bands simultaneously and the dual high gain antennas should blanket up to a quarter of an acre in good signal.  Security can be configured for WPS One-Touch Setup, WPA and WPA2 as well as optional parental controls to lock it down further.  You can check out the full product page here.

 

Chino Hills, CA — May 14, 2012 — Amped Wireless, the leading manufacturer of high-power, long-range wireless communications products for the home and office, today unveiled its new flagship, long range router – the R20000G High Power Wireless-N Gigabit Dual Band Router.

r20000g_diagram.jpg

Engineered to deliver exceptional levels of performance, power and flexibility, this new router is designed for use in large homes and offices. The R20000G brings unprecedented, simultaneous dual band Wi-Fi to home and office users of up to 10,000 square feet of coverage or a quarter of an acre, the same size as a major league baseball diamond.

How It Works
This new router not only boost wireless coverage, the R20000G delivers a combined speed of up to 600Mbps for smooth streaming of video, music and uninterrupted gaming across a number of devices, including: Game Consoles, iPads, Internet TVs, Notebooks, PC, Smart Phones, Tablets, VoIP devices and more.

“Amped Wireless has continued to make strides in the industry with our innovative power amplifying technology and design,” stated Jason Owen, President and CEO at Amped Wireless. “The R20000G is the ideal product for any consumer that wants to outfit their entire office or home and backyard, with a high performance router with the most Wi-Fi coverage on the market today.”

Building on their award-winning Wi-Fi technology, the R20000G is engineered with the latest state-of-the-art wireless features which includes:

  • Dual high power 2.4GHz 600mW amplifiers, dual high power 5.0GHz amplifiers and dual low noise amplifiers for improving wireless reception
  • Dual High Gain 5dBi detachable dual band antennas
  • High speed 620MHz internal processor for faster networking
  • Simultaneous 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz dual band 802.11n technology

The combination of advanced power amplifiers, wireless reception amplifiers and high gain antennas, provide users with a significant increase in signal strength over great distances to improve home or office Wi-Fi coverage.

r20000g_diff.jpg

The R20000G also features 5 gigabit networking ports for connecting additional wired network devices, and a USB 2.0 port to share files among connected users. The high power router includes premium features such as, guest networks, adjustable Wi-Fi coverage controls, parental controls, website blocking and support for the latest Wi-Fi security to secure your Wi-Fi experience.

A baker's dozen of mice, all still in possession of their tails

Subject: General Tech | May 14, 2012 - 03:43 PM |
Tagged: input, gaming mouse, logitech, saitek, razer, roccat, corsair, epicgear

A sampler of gaming mice from a wide variety of companies is now available at Hardware.Info, which can be a handy tool for those looking for a new mouse.  No longer is it  choice between Logitech and Microsoft, the list of companies supplying the mice includes A4 Tech, Corsair, Epicgear, Razer, Saitek and more.  If you want a large heavy mouse, one designed for macro button programming or a mouse you can adjust into a variety of shapes to ensure the most comfortable fit for your hand then this roundup has you covered.  There is no winner, as everyone wants a little something different from their own mouse but if you'd like an idea of what is out there then they have you covered.

HI_mices.png

"To many computer users the mouse is just a necessary little tool for operating their computer. As long as it has two buttons and a wheel and the cursor goes where it's supposed to, most people are satisfied. Gamers are more demanding, however, in terms of comfort, performance, and features. We reviewed 13 gaming mice to find out what's currently out there.

A decent mouse is crucial for the serious gamer, that is why we are in the habit of regularly doing a round-up of the latest gaming mice. The 13 mice in this comparison test vary quite a bit in price, from £45 to £69. It’s a pretty big difference, which should mean that the performance and features should differ significantly as well. The only way of finding this out for sure is by a thorough test. And that’s exactly what we did."

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What's up at the GTC? Check out this BOXX!

Subject: General Tech | May 14, 2012 - 03:31 PM |
Tagged: tesla, quadro, nvidia, maximus, GTC 2012, BOXX

There are many professional level products to be seen at this years GPU Technology Conference, one of the more impressive being NVIDIA Maximus technology. That takes the power of a Quadro and couples it with the new Tesla GPUs for impressive live rendering and CAD applications.  These products are not for gamers more for game designers and graphical artists, but the technology its self is still something to keep your eyes on. 

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One of the vendors you will see is BOXX, with several different lines of computers are designed to 3ds Max, CATIA V6 Live Rendering, SolidWorks and other professional level HPC applications.  With a NVIDIA Quadro 6000 6 GB, a Tesla 2075 6 GB and a 240GB SSD for cache and programs you will be rendering like never before.

Ryan will be at the GTC so keep an eye on the page for news from that show when it begins in the middle of this week.  NVIDIA's Maximus technology is sure to feature in some of these stories but do keep in mind this is the GTC and not the GDC so new game previews are unlikely though new benchmark software and proof of concept game engines might be.

gdcBOXX.png

"3DBOXX workstations featuring NVIDIA Maximus technology combine the visualization and interactive design capability of NVIDIA Quadro GPUs with the high-performance computing power of NVIDIA Tesla C2075 GPUs into a single system."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: BOXX

Buy a Windows 7 PC and upgrade to 8 Pro for... something.

Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 14, 2012 - 03:34 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, Windows 7

Microsoft is expected to announce their upgrade promotion for users to purchase a Windows 7 PC after early June and move up to Windows 8 when it is released. Unlike past promotions, such as Office 2010 and Windows 7, it is expected that you will have the option to be bumped to the Pro level SKU -- but not for free. While this does not rule out the potential for a free upgrade to Windows 8 Home, Mary-Jo Foley of CNET seems to have not heard that from her sources.

People constantly mock computers for having a very quick apparent turnaround time.

There tends to be a desire in consumers to put off purchasing new equipment. Users know that patience will very often yield more for the same cost. Software is no different which is why Microsoft and others offer initiatives to allow users to upgrade to impending releases with the purchase of the current version.

But wait, if you order now -- you can order later!

On or around June 2nd, Microsoft is expected to unveil their upgrade program for users who will purchase a Windows 7 machine. According to Mary-Jo Foley of CNET and her sources, this time you will be able to upgrade your Windows 7 machine to Windows 8 Pro. This upgrade will not be free but is expected to be under a hundred dollars according to leaked promotional content. Targeting June is designed to prevent sales of Windows 7 PCs dropping off for back to school.

The upgrade to Windows 8 Pro makes sense as it allows the addition of Windows Media Center and other features that were available in the lower end versions of Windows 7. I think you could imagine what a user would feel like if they updated their operating system and lost features that they could not even add back in to their “upgraded” version.

Of course the better option would likely have been to rethink removing features if they feel as though vanilla Windows 8 is not an apples-to-apples comparison to Windows 7 Home Premium.

Source: CNET

Micron also looks to buy Elpida

Subject: General Tech, Memory, Mobile | May 12, 2012 - 06:10 PM |
Tagged: micron, Elpida

Micron Technologies has confirmed that they are in talks to purchase Elpida Memory. Despite Toshiba pulling out of the race, the deal would have a rumored value of 2.51 Billion dollars. This deal would move Micron into the second largest DRAM producer, behind Samsung, with a 25 percent market share globally.

Elpida Memory, Inc. has been having troubles as a company for a couple of years.

Elpida was established as a company from its parent companies, NEC and Hitachi, in 1999 and took its current name the next year. Elpida has been delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange in late March, a month after filing for Bankruptcy.

Multiple companies have come and gone in talks to purchase Elpida. Toshiba and SK hynix have somewhat recently pulled out of negotiations as the American TPG Capital LP and the Chinese Hony Capital shared a bid for the manufacturer.

Elpida.jpg

Or buy us and be #2 : D

Micron has just recently announced that they would place a bid for Elpida which, if completed, would push Micron past Hynix into the second largest DRAM producer by market share. Micron also seems to be interested in purchasing Elpida to access its mobile technology. While the actual bid is not public knowledge, it has been rumored to be worth around 2.51 billion dollars.

It may also be possible that none of the above deals would go through. Reuters reports that a group of debt holders for Elpida might push for their own plan if they feel that none of the current deals would suffice.

Source: Reuters

Hard to make a profit when no one can find Kepler cards for sale, NVIDIA

Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2012 - 11:38 AM |
Tagged: sales, Q2, nvidia, kepler

NVIDIA made $925m this quarter down from the $1,002m they made 12 months ago and profit is even dimmer with profits falling from $137m to a hair over $60m.  This marks the third year NVIDIA's Q1 revenue has been less than in the previous year and that is going to deeply trouble investors.  Even if GTX680s and 690s had flooded the market and were sitting on store shelves hoping that someone would come along and buy them that would not have helped sales in the first quarter, though if Kepler had been released early and in great quantities NVIDIA might have turned this distressing trend around. 

Q2 could be peachy, three models of GTX670 are still available at NewEgg after the initial sales and if the GTX680's production can be ramped up without much in the way of associated costs we could see some nice financials in the summer.  After all they do have the best cards on the market right now. Hit up The Inquirer for more.

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"Nvidia is on a high after a successful Kepler GPU launch but its financials paint a very different picture. The firm's first quarter of its 2013 fiscal year yielded revenue of $924.9m, just under four per cent lower than the same period a year previously, however its net income took a beating as profits fell by 55 per cent to $60.4m."

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Source: The Inquirer

Dell is bringing Ivy Bridge to the server room

Subject: General Tech | May 10, 2012 - 12:34 PM |
Tagged: xeon e3, Ivy Bridge, E3-1200 v2, dell, 22nm

Dell's microserver family is undergoing a major change right now as their 5000 series is moving to the new generation of chips from Intel.  The current C5000 and C5125 uses Athlon II X2 and X4 and Phenom II X2 chips based on the customers preferences and will continue to do so for the near future but the C5220 will be using the not quite yet released yet Xeon E3-1200 v2.  That Ivy Bridge chip means that Dell expects to be selling 17W and 45W versions of the C5220 which gives Intel a nice lead in power efficiency and processing density.  As more new Xeons come out you will see models requiring more power and thus less physical servers in a rack.  Dell expects to fit a dozen of the lower powered models into a full rack mount chassis and eight of the higher wattage models.  Check out the specifics as well as hints as to the other members of the Ivy Bridge contingent of the Xeon family at The Register.

elreg_dell_poweredge_c5000_chassis.jpg

"Dell's PowerEdge server line is once again trying to get out in front of Intel, announcing that its PowerEdge-C family of microservers are revved up with the new Ivy Bridge Xeon E3 processors, which the chip giant is launching soon."

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Source: The Register

Stressing out GPUs with a DX9 game; is the Witcher 2 the new Crysis?

Subject: General Tech | May 9, 2012 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: gaming, witcher 2

[H]ard|OCP overheard that The Witcher 2 underwent a large update, to the tune of 10GB or so, which gave them an opportunity to pit the newest GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD against a game which has a reputation for being hard on graphics card.  The Radeon HD 7970 and GeForce GTX 680 both struggled equally at 2560x1600 on this game, which is quite impressive for a year old game.  The most demanding feature of the game is UberSampling, which incorporates Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering and can bring even these powerful graphics cards to their knees.  When it was enabled [H] saw frame rates reduced to 20fps or lower, something that the old standby Crysis just cannot do.  You can argue that a DX9 game lacks many of the optimizations of DX10 and 11 which help the performance of these cards but it would seem that as far as testing the raw graphics power of a card,

H_witcher2.jpg

"The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings just underwent a major update. The Enhanced Edition offers a new zone, more quests, more cinematics, and several bug fixes. This DX9 game has the reputation of being one of the most demanding and stressful games on modern video cards. We put this theory to the test."

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Gaming

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Good news from TSMC for NVIDIA and you

Subject: General Tech | May 9, 2012 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, 28nm, nvidia

In the seemingly never ending saga of TSMC, NVIDIA and the mysteriously lacking supply of 28nm GPUs on the market is another update from DigiTimes.  TSMC is going to give priority to NVIDIA on their production lines, though if TSMC is still at 95% capacity that may not mean a great increase in capacity.  This doesn't refute the rumours that NVIDIA is shopping around for a new supplier for their chips nor that they may be revamping the mask they use for the chips but it does imply that TSMC does not want to lose NVIDIA's business and might have some capacity to spare for them.

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"Since Nvidia has been unsatisfied with TSMC's 28nm process, while the company has also not refuted rumors that the company may cooperate with Samsung Electronics or Globalfoundries, TSMC, to sooth Nvidia, has put the GPU maker on its supply priority, allowing Nvidia to be able to release its 28nm GPUs on schedule in May and June."

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Source: DigiTimes

ZOTAC announces ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 AMP! Edition and ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 4G

Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2012 - 05:32 PM |
Tagged: zotac, AMP!, 4gb gtx 680, 4GB, factory overclocked, gtx 680

The AMP! is back from Zotac and don't let the base clock fool you into thinking that is the only advantage, it is the extra boost capability that really makes this card special.  On the other hand if it is your buffer that is causing you to suffer the 4GB GTX 680 might be a little slower but it can power 4 monitors and has enough GDDR5 to make sure it does so smoothly.


HONG KONG – May 2, 2012 – ZOTAC International, a global innovator and channel manufacturer of graphics cards, mainboards and mini-PCs, today unveils the amplified ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 AMP! Edition and high-resolution dominating ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 4GB graphics cards for the most demanding gamers and enthusiasts.

Catered to gamers that require that extra performance kick in the most demanding gaming situations, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 AMP! Edition harnesses the untapped power of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 graphics processor to maximize frame rates in the latest visually stunning Microsoft DirectX 11-enabled games. Extreme high-definition and triple-display gamers can opt for the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 4GB which doubles the amount of video memory for that extra bit of smoothness at resolutions above 2560x1600, including 4K and 3840x1080.

ZT-60102-10P_image1.JPG

AMP! Edition

The new ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 AMP! Edition and GeForce GTX 680 4GB usher in a new era of visual computing that pushes details and pixel density for unbelievably clear and crisp graphics,” said Carsten Berger, marketing director, ZOTAC International. “The cards deliver world-class performance and are the fastest single GPU graphics cards available this generation too.“

Quad-display output capabilities enables the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 AMP! Edition and GeForce GTX 680 4GB to simultaneously power four independent displays in desktop mode at resolutions beyond 2560x1600, including new and upcoming 4K resolution displays. NVIDIA 3D Vision Surround technology joins three 2D or 3D displays together to render a massive wide display for superior immersion and enhanced field of view when gaming with the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 AMP! Edition and GeForce GTX 680 4GB.

ZT-60103-10P_image1.JPG

4GB Edition

The ZOTAC Assassin’s Creed 3-Game Pack is bundled with the two cards to let gamers take advantage of the newfound graphics power right out of the box. Assassin’s Creed I, II and Revelations takes gamers through an epic historical journey with beautiful graphics, captivating storylines and immersive gameplay.

It’s time to play with the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 AMP! Edition and GeForce GTX 680 4GB!

New ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 AMP! Edition & GeForce GTX 680 4GB graphics cards

  • 1536 SMX unified shaders
  • ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 AMP!
    • Edition Engine clock: 1110 MHz (base), 1176 MHz (boost)
    • 2GB GDDR5 memory Memory clock: 6608 MHz
    • Custom Dual-Fan Cooler
  • ZOTAC GeForce GTX 680 4GB
    • Engine clock: 1006 MHz (base), 1058 MHz (boost)
    • 4GB GDDR5 memory Memory clock: 6008 MHz
  • 256-bit memory interface DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI & DisplayPort outputs
  • PCI Express 3.0 interface
  • NVIDIA GPU Boost technology
  • NVIDIA 3D Vision Surround capable
  • NVIDIA FXAA technology
  • NVIDIA TXAA technology
  • NVIDIA SLI ready
  • NVIDIA Adaptive Vertical Sync
  • DirectX 11 technology & Shader Model 5.0
  • OpenGL 4.2 compatible
  • Hardware-accelerated Full HD video playback
  • Blu-ray 3D ready Loss-less audio bitstream capable
  • ZOTAC Assassin’s Creed 3-Game Pack included Assassin’s Creed, Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
  • TrackMania 2 Canyon 3-Day Game Pass included
Source: Zotac

Micron beats JEDEC to DDR4

Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2012 - 02:13 PM |
Tagged: ddr4, jedec, micron

If you are not familiar with JEDEC you might not realize why they are constantly referred to when news breaks about a new technology; if that is the case you should aquaint yourself with them.  The standard for DDR4 is almost finalized with the specific changes being that the DIMM's VDDQ must remain constant at1.2V with plans to reduce VDD and speeds of 1.6 giga transfers per second to an initial objective of 3.2 giga transfers per second.  This seems low considering DDR3-2400 can hit 2.4GT/s so when it arrives we may see speeds cross over like DDR2 did when we saw DDR3 first come onto the stage.

Micron has fabbed 30nm DDR4 chips, both DIMM and SODIMM varieties which operate at the lower voltage.  The initial speed of 4Gbit/s that The Inquirer reports on may seem conservative but for this initial run we are only looking for a proof of concept which can be refined.  Micron expects to see production swing into gear by the end of 2012 but they may not have many customers as neither AMD nor Intel have DDR4 support scheduled by that time.

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"Although JEDEC has yet to finalise the DDR4 specification, Nanya and Micron have been forging ahead designing and now fabricating 30nm 4Gbit DDR4 chips that will be part of the two firms' DDR4 product range that will include registered and low-voltage registered DIMMs and SODIMMs. According to Micron, it is already sampling DDR4 modules and expects its customers to support quick implementation in 2013."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Microsoft Xbox 360 and Kinect Bundle for $99 On Contract

Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2012 - 02:58 AM |
Tagged: xbox 360, microsoft, gaming, console

The Xbox 360 has now been available in some form for almost seven years and has sold approximately 67.2 million units. Consumers are able to get the updated Xbox 360 4GB model for $199 USD at many retailers along with the Kinect add-on for $99. If that price still seems too steep, Microsoft has started to offer a subsidized Xbox 360 and Kinect bundle for those users lucky enough to live close to a physical Microsoft Store. There are currently 17 stores in a number of US states, with four more listed as "coming soon."

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Microsoft is offering a two year contract of Xbox Live Gold for $14.99 a month. As a promotion for signing the contract, the company will sell a 4GB Xbox 360 S and Microsoft Kinect add-on for $99 USD. In total, the system will cost $458.76 plus applicable taxes–$359.76 for the monthly contract and $99 for the hardware. Interestingly, the subsidized cost ends up being more expensive than buying it outright. In under five minutes of searching around Amazon, I found 2 1 year subscriptions to Xbox Live Gold and an Xbox 360 S 4GB and Kinect hardware bundle for $380.20.

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That isn’t surprising but is still interesting that the subsidized model with contract does end up being more expensive. If you can’t afford the upfront cost the subscription may be worth it, especially with the Xbox Next not coming this year. Buying the hardware outright is going to cost less but considering the Xbox is rather dated at this point, paying $99 for the hardware–with the Xbox Live Gold contract not being locked to that one console– may be a better deal should the next Xbox be released within that two year window then buying both consoles outright. At least then, you can apply the contract towards the new console and not be out as much money on the original hardware. In the end, it is a nice alternative method for getting the console and Kinect hardware.

On the other hand, for the price of a subsidized Xbox 360, you could buy a shiny new GTX 670 for a gaming pc (hehe).

Source: Microsoft

Win a Netgear R6300 802.11ac router!!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 8, 2012 - 12:39 AM |
Tagged: netgear, giveaway, contest, broadcom, 802.11ac

Broadcom and Netgear came to PC Perspective recently to discuss some upcoming products based on the new 802.11ac protocol, a new technology that will enable a minimum of 1 Gigabit wireless networking in the 5 GHz spectrum.  

While we are learning about the new products that the two companies are partnering on, they offered up a few prizes for our readers: one of three new Netgear R6300 dual-band, 802.11ac routers!!

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While not on the market yet, these routers will offer some impressive new features including:

The NETGEAR R6300 WiFi Router delivers next generation WiFi at Gigabit speeds. It offers the ultimate mobility for WiFi devices with speeds up to 3x faster than 802.11n.

Compatible with next generation WiFi devices and backward compatible with 802.11 a/b/g and n devices, it enables HD streaming throughout your home. The R6300 with simultaneous dual band WiFi technology offers speeds up to 450+1300‡ Mbps† and avoids interference, ensuring top WiFi speeds and reliable connections. This makes it ideal for larger homes with multiple devices. In addition, four Gigabit Ethernet ports offer ultra-fast wired connections. Wirelessly access and share USB hard drive and USB printer using the two USB 2.0 ports.

The NETGEAR Genie® app provides easy installation from an iPad®, tablet, computer or smartphone. It includes a personal dashboard, allowing you to manage, monitor, and repair your home network. NETGEAR customers can download the app at http://www.netgear.com/genie or from the Google Play or App Store.

All you have to do to enter this contest is submit your answer the question below and be sure to include your REAL email address so we can contact you!!  The survey will run through the rest of this week (May 11th) and you can enter from all over the world!  They had one simple question:

What is the most important factor in determining what type of WiFi technology you use at home?

Email:

What is your email address?