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Podcast #190 - PCAudioLabs system giveaway, the future of NAND Memory, potential Ivy Bridge delays and more!
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 23, 2012 - 04:10 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Thinkpad, podcast, piledriver, nvidia, Ivy Bridge, Intel, gpu, cpu, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #190 - 02/23/2012
Join us this week as we talk about a PCAudioLabs system giveaway, the future of NAND Memory, potential Ivy Bridge delays and more!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malvantano
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- 0:05:30 MSI Graphics Card Division Interview: Alex Chang Takes our Q's
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- 0:28:30 Mass Effect 3 is Coming, Pre-Order Now and Get Battlefield 3 (PC) Free
- 0:31:00 Intel may delay shipments of Ivy Bridge processors
- 0:35:10 VIA teams with Tensilica to roll their own SSD controller
- 0:40:53 HP dates NVIDIA on Valentine's Day. We get Z1 workstation.
- 0:46:30 Wi-Fi on Rosepoint SoC die. Intel flexes before ARM wrestle.
- 0:51:15 Of Near Threshold Voltage and Atomic Transistors
- 0:55:15 AMD and Cyclos reduces clock power usage with Piledriver
- 1:04:00 Intel becomes a 22nm foundry -- yes, for other people.
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Subject: General Tech | February 23, 2012 - 04:05 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, nvidia, jen-hsun huang, hector ruiz
Take this story at The Inquirer with a grain of salt as the source might just have a bit of an axe to grind with their former employer; regardless it makes for an interesting read. The idea that Jen-Hsun's desire to be top boss of the company that absorbed the one he was running at the time certainly fits the personality he shows publicly. Then again Hector lasted a mere 2 years after the purchase of ATI so perhaps a change in leadership at that time would have changed AMD's future somewhat. ATI could still be around and AMD might be more focused on SoC and HPC as opposed to the APU route they took.
"CHIP DESIGNER AMD wanted to cut a deal with Nvidia before settling for buying ATI instead, according to former AMD employees.
AMD completed a deal to buy ATI for $5.4bn in 2006, but only after it couldn't agree on terms with Nvidia, according to former AMD employees interviewed by Forbes. One of the stumbling blocks to the deal was Nvidia's colourful CEO Jen-Hsun Huang wanting to become the CEO of the combined company, effectively ousting then AMD CEO Hector Ruiz."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel vs phones vs ARM vs laptops @ SemiAccurate
- Finally a use for PlayBook: Tab bodged into Windows, PS3 remote @ The Register
- SteelSeries Desmo @ LanOC Reviews
- Samsung WB750 Camera Review @ Tech-Reviews
Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2012 - 08:51 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, foundry
It is news like this which leads to Apocalypse theories. Intel has announced that they will become a foundry for customers looking to manufacture chips using Intel’s 22nm process with trigate transistors. Current competitors in this industry include TSMC, UMC, IBM, Samsung, and GlobalFoundries each with varying degrees of commitment.
Well this just happened…
Only two customers of Intel’s manufacturing process have since gone public with their foundry choice. Achronix Semiconductor manufactures field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) for users to install in their products to give them relatively basic logic functions compared to a full CPU. Tabula also designs FPGAs, but has specifically announced that they will be using Intel’s 22nm process with 3D trigate transistors.
It is not clear at this point how deeply Intel will jump into the business of developing chips for other companies. Both of the current customers of Intel’s manufacturing process do not really compete with Intel’s own products at all.
Now if we ever, for instance, see NVIDIA announce partnership with Intel foundries for a GPU launch… then John Cusack might have a concern on his hands.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | February 22, 2012 - 06:01 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, Cyclos, piledriver
AMD has its own announcements about power consumption for the International Solid-State Circuits Conference this week. A few days ago we reported on Intel’s success integrating Wi-Fi transceivers into the CPU to reduce power consumption. Cyclos Semiconductor discussed their resonant clock mesh (RCM) technology which reduces waste energy dissipated when keeping the chip synchronized. AMD announced that this technology would be introduced in their upcoming Piledriver APUs and Opteron processors.
Excuse me, good sir. Do you have the time?
Tom’s Hardware put up an article to discuss the announcement with a small explanation of what is going on.
Inductive-capacitive oscillators are leveraged in mesh-based high-performance clock distribution networks to deliver "high-precision timing while dissipating almost no power." In effect, RCM promises to recycle clock power to enable lower power consumption or higher clock speeds.
For a more specific explanation, I turned to Josh Walrath. Chips are timed by a clock signal -- any overclocker will attest to that. Over time chips became larger and more complex which of course requires a larger and more complex system to propagate the clock signal through. Slowly but surely those circuits became large enough that the energy they dissipate simply by being powered becomes less and less negligible.
What Cyclos contributes is cleverly using inductor-capacitor circuits to keep the energy stored in the clock circuit mesh. With more of the energy stored in the mesh it just requires a small energy shove to trigger the signal after the initial charge. Also, less energy lost also means less heat dissipation which helps your battery as well as your heatsink.
Cyclos Semiconductor states that power savings are between 5 to 30 percent dependent on the chip design. In AMD’s case, they expect approximately 5 to 10 percent power savings in their Piledriver implementation. While AMD is the first implementation of Cyclos’ technology, it is not known what Intel currently has done or will potentially do to solve the problem.
Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2012 - 05:48 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, fedora remix, Fedora, arm
The Raspberry Pi hardware is coming out at the end of this month, and the folks over at the Raspberry Pi Foundation are gearing up for the release. On their blog, they shared a video by Chis Tyler that I thought was rather interesting. In the accompanying video, he talked about the Raspberry Pi's Fedora Remix linux operating system.
The new Fedora Remix is being produced by Seneca College, and takes the traditional desktop Fedora Linux distribution and adapts it to run on the ARM platform. It will include several open source applications out of the box including a web browser, word processor, and several other tools for managing the OS and working with files. Mr. Tyler states that the Fedora Remix distro will closely resemble a traditional desktop experience when paired with a keyboard and mouse.
What I found interesting from the video was a statement by Paul Whalen, a software researcher for Fedora on ARM, where he talks about the Fedora licensing requiring applications to be built natively on the hardware that it will be used on. Because of that, they had to go out and construct a build farm of approximately 60 ARM devices including the Guru Plug. They design the software on workstation computers, and then send it to the build farm of ARM powered devices to be built and compiled into a native binary, and then is sent back. I thought that it was strange at first that they had to go about it in such a roundabout way but in the end it should help to have natively built applications performance wise.
In another exciting bit of news, Liz ended the Raspberry Pi blog post with an update on the status of the Linux computer's hardware.
They are still working on manufacturing the Raspberry Pis, and they "hope the Raspberry Pis from the first batch will be out of testing by the end of Thursday (ed: tomorrow at time of writing), and on their way to freight"
The Raspberry Pi is almost upon us! The non profit organization expects the SD card image download for the Fedora Remix distribution to be available in the next few days while the Cambridge Reference File System (Debian Squeeze based OS) image is available to download now.
Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2012 - 05:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, serious sam 3 bfe
If you are a fan of old style shooters which involve nothing more complicated than killing everything that moves then you will probably enjoy this post over at The Tech Report. It covers the new Serious Sam 3:BFE and all of its explosive joys. One of the more attractive new features is the expanded co-op mode with up to 16 people able to coordinate their firepower against hordes of beasties. Check out the 'big, stupid fun' and see if this is the game you need to help you blow off steam.
"In his latest blog post, TR's Geoff Gasior gets sucked into Serious Sam 3: BFE, a retro shooter that puts a coat of fresh paint on a franchise famous for over-the-top FPS combat."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Gotham City Imposters (PC) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
- HTML 5 Gaming: Classic and Modern Titles You Can Play for Free Today @ TechSpot
- Guild Wars 2 Opens Beta Sign-Ups For 48 Hours @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Swoop In The Tribes: Ascend Beta This Friday @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- The Vita game guide: impressions of 14 launch titles @ Ars Technica
- I play LoL; What should I know about Dota 2? @ LanOC Reviews
- Super Meat Boy Review @ eTeknix
- Gotham City Imposters Game @ HardwareHeaven
- Asura's Wrath (XBOX 360) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2012 - 04:25 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: sapphire, amd, E450
The new nettop that Sapphire will be selling will be great for HTPC usage but you might not want to pick it up if you will be gaming. The E450 AMD processor inside the machine does have an onboard HD 6350 which will handle 1080p streaming beautifully but as it is the low end of the Llano scale gaming may not be impressive. Its power consumption will be 30W so neither heat nor power will be an issue. It ships with Free DOS but will accept WinXP and Win7 for those who want a familiar interface. The Inquirer expects this device to be less than its Atom powered predecessor which puts the price at or below $400USD.
"GRAPHICS CARD VENDOR Sapphire has announced its AMD Fusion based Edge-HD3 all-in-one nettop PC.
Sapphire claims its Edge-HD3 is about the size of a paperback novel and, while that depends on what type of paperbacks you read, there's no denying that the system is small. Sapphire has slipped an AMD E450 Fusion chip, 4GB DDR3 RAM and a 320GB 2.5in hard drive into the case."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Mac OS X 10.8 vs. Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Performance @ Phoronix
- Preview of upcoming Sapphire GFX @ Kitguru
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Sony Google TV devices running unsigned kernels @ Hack a Day
Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2012 - 12:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: contest, nvidia, mass effect 3
Here’s your chance to show off your knowledge on all things Mass Effect. All you have to do is complete the five Mass Effect 3-based trivia questions for your chance to win. Just for participating, you’ll get access to an exclusive Mass Effect 3 digital asset. There’s a new one each week, so keep playing! Plus, you can win awesome prizes like graphics cards—or even a complete gaming rig. Make the right choice. Enter today and gear up for victory!
Week 1 is now over, but Week 2 just started!
Week 2 prizing: 3 GTX 570 (1 winner each)
Week 2 Grand Prize: A MAINGEAR gaming PC valued at over 3K!
The landing page is for the global contest, choose your country and see if you can answer the questions and not only get a chance to win great prizes but you also get a mysterious in game bonus for playing.
Subject: General Tech | February 21, 2012 - 04:00 AM | Scott Michaud
(Update: Yep -- it has been confirmed. Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Check it out at The Escapist)
Frictional Games have been releasing PC games since 2006 for Windows, the Mac, and Linux. Each game up to this point was survival horror themed and within the puzzle adventure genre. The most popular and definitely most scary installment was their most recent Amnesia: The Dark Descent. It is often considered to be the most terrifying game of all time. What could be next?
He definitely was not having a Funday
For a few days, Frictional Games created an alternate reality game which slowly doles out clues to the next project. What we know is that it the title is planned to be out in fall of this year; it will very likely have A Machine for Pigs either as a title or subtitle; and will also very likely be related to Amnesia. Clues suggest that the full title will be Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs.
Why do I have a feeling this game will make Minecraft players cry?
Also interesting is that Frictional Games has discussed new features in their engine for their upcoming game. The new engine, which the upcoming game is expected to use, will support terrain as well as global sunlight with shadows. They are not terribly impressive features by any stretch of the imagination, but they were specifically developed for the engine to be used with the new game. Why is there such a need for outdoor lighting and terrain?
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 21, 2012 - 01:21 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: antivirus, windows 8
Imagine if it were illegal for a dominant homebuilder to sell a house with locks on the door to be fair to the market of locksmiths?
The legality of Microsoft’s planned upgrades to its Windows Defender security suite has been questioned in an article up at ZDNet Asia. While the article itself is very correct in its analysis of the situation it does implicitly ask at what point a market should be obsolete.
Does it really protect consumers to intentionally unbundle security from a core application? Is it better to unbundle security to promote an industry worth of companies with products designed to successfully do little more than alert you when a breach has occurred?
Industry status - Not Protected
Despite the wording of the above three paragraphs, the answer actually is not simple. There is a lot of merit to disallowing the bundling of internal security applications and protect the antivirus industry.
Ponder this, what if Microsoft’s system was really bad? Would promoting competition ultimately drive for a stronger and more secure product in the end? Or alternatively, would the pressure from the attackers themselves be sufficient competition to not need to protect antivirus companies?
It really is an interesting problem when you look into it. What do you think? The comments await, and registration is not required to voice your opinion.
According to an article in New Scientist, a UK firm called Oxford Nanopore has managed to build a DNA sequencer into what looks to be an overweight USB stick. They have named the device the MinION, and it will sell for $900 later this year. It can be used to sequence DNA with as many as 10,000 base pairs in one continuous read. While it can sequence a human genome in about 6 hours, they intend the device to be used to sequence shorter genomes with tasks like identifying pathogens and screening for genetic mutations that can lead to diseases.
The company demonstrated the MinION in action recently at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology conference where it sequenced Phi X, a virus with 5,000 genetic base pairs. A bioinformatician at Pallen Research Group stated that "Phi X was the first DNA genome to be sequenced ever" and that if it can be sequenced than much larger genomes can be as well.
In addition to the portable MinION, the company is developing a larger scale GridION for lab work that requires more processing horsepower. The sequencing technology in the MinION and GridION operate "like a tickertape reader" by unzipping the DNA using enzymes and electricity.
The article author states that the MinION and portable DNA sequencers like it are going to greatly enhance public health and medicine. When doctors will be able to carry around portable DNA sequencers, they will be able to quickly diagnose genetic issues and identify viruses and other pathogens. Sounds pretty cool (if a bit scary) to me!
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 20, 2012 - 08:08 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, piracy, Gabe Newell
Ben Kuchera of Penny Arcade caught an interview with Valve Software’s managing director and co-founder, Gabe Newell. The topics were quite typical for a Gabe Newell interview and involve working at Valve, the future of gaming, and DRM. Gabe also joined the beard club; welcome Gabe!
Photo Credit: Giant Bomb
A little over halfway through the interview, Penny Arcade asked Gabe whether they believe that they sidestepped the problems of used games and piracy with Steam. Gabe instead responded to the premise of the question, rather than the question itself:
You know, I get fairly frustrated when I hear how the issue is framed in a lot of cases. To us it seems pretty obvious that people always want to treat it as a pricing issue, that people are doing this because they can get it for free and so we just need to create these draconian DRM systems or ani-piracy(sic) systems, and that just really doesn’t match up with the data.
This quote echoes a problem I have had with the piracy discussion for quite some time. The main problem with the concept of piracy is that people wish to frame it in a context that seems intuitive to them rather than experiment to discover what actually occurs. Piracy is seen as a problem which must be controlled. This logic is fundamentally flawed because piracy is not itself a problem but rather a measurement of potential problems.
Gabe continues with an anecdote of a discussion between a company who used third-party DRM for their title and himself:
Recently I was in a meeting and there’s a company that had a third party DRM solution and we showed them look, this is what happens, at this point in your life cycle your DRM got hacked, right? Now let’s look at the data, did your sales change at all? No, your sales didn’t change one bit. Right? So here’s before and after, here’s where you have DRM that annoys your customers and causing huge numbers of support calls and in theory you would think that you would see a huge drop off in sales after that got hacked, and instead there was absolutely no difference in sales before or after. You know, and then we tell them you actually probably lost a whole bunch of sales as near as we can tell, here’s how much money you lost by bundling that with your product.
Gabe highlights what a business should actually be concerned with: increasing your measurement of revenue and profits, rather than decreasing your measurement of piracy. You as a company could simply not develop products and completely kill piracy, but that would also entirely kill your revenue as you would have nothing to gain revenue from.
Before we begin to discuss piracy, the very first step is that we need to frame it as what it really is: a measurement. While violating terms of a license agreement is in fact wrong, if you focus your business on what is right or wrong you will go broke.
If you believe that there is value in preventing non-paying users from using your product then you will only hurt yourself (and if SOPA/PIPA taught us anything, innocent adjacent companies). It is possible that the factors which contribute to piracy also contribute to your revenue positively as well as potentially negatively. It is also entirely possible that increased piracy could be a measurement of a much bigger problem: your business practices.
You know, it’s a really bad idea to start off on the assumption that your customers are on the other side of some sort of battle with you. I really don’t think that is either accurate or a really good business strategy ((…)) we’ve run all of these experiments, you know, this has been going on for many years now and we all can look at what the outcomes are and there really isn’t – there are lots of compelling instances where making customers – you know, giving customers a great experience and thinking of ways to create value for them is way more important than making it incredibly hard for the customers to move their products from one machine to another.
Subject: General Tech, Storage | February 20, 2012 - 05:53 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ssd, PS3
There is an interesting article down at Eurogamer which covers the possible benefits of upgrading a PS3 with a solid state drive. Those who know me can guess that I am snickering while crossing another perceived advantage off of my console versus PC list. Still, if for some reason you want to play exclusives to a disposable platform that are only exclusive because you let them be and you desire to upgrade your experience, check out the interesting article.
Isn’t “not needing to do this” the whole reason for having a console?
Consoles titles are naturally becoming as hard drive-intensive as they are allowed to be due to their abysmally small quantity of RAM. Developers have been using tricks to increase the usefulness of their available RAM such as disallowing split screen, streaming content as needed, and rendering at low resolutions.
The first Halo, for instance, was famous for their quick load times. The load speed is due in part to having their game assets copied multiple times on the disk which allows choice in loading whichever copy requires the least seek time to access. Also, having a hard drive helped Halo too.
The article itself focuses mostly on RAGE and Skyrim due to their harsh issues with lag and pop-in. Skyrim has had known issues with getting progressively worse as time progressed. This issue was mostly corrected in version 2.03 as was also demonstrated in Eurogamer’s article making an SSD almost unnecessary, but prior to 2.03 an SSD surprisingly helped substantially with the problem. It should also be no surprise that throwing faster storage at RAGE helped immensely just as it does on the PC.
Don't assume the price dictates the audio quality; try real studio quality headsets from Audio-Technica
Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2012 - 03:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: audiophile, headset, audio, audio-technica, ATH-A900
At an MSRP of $250, the Audio-Techinca ATH-A900 headphones are not intended for the casual gamer and as you can tell by the 1/4" connector they are designed for someone who owns a high end microphone amp. On the other hand if you need studio quality audio and will be wearing the headsets for hours at a time then the high end features built into these headphones are worth the investment. The 53mm drivers are in an enclosed earcup which helps bring the bass up close and personal and are designed with much sturdier materials than other popular headsets. To contrast the difference [H]ard|OCP tried Beats by Dre Studio headphones which cost more than the ATH-A900s and in every case they felt the ATH-A900s were vastly superior. As far as [H] is concerned the two headsets aren't even in the same class.
"Audio-Technica's open headphones are known to gamers for the wearing comfort and huge soundstage that these provide, but the open back models simply lack bass and isolation. Today, we will see if a pricey pair of the company's closed back audiophile headphones can offer the compromise many of you are looking for in PC audio."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Monster Gratitude In-Ear Headphones @ Techware Labs
- Jabra Drive Bluetooth Speakerphone Review @ Tech-Reviews
- RHA SA-850 Headphones and MA-350 Earphones Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Phonak Aud PFE232 +mic In-ear Headset @ techPowerUp
- ROCCAT Kave 5.1 Headset Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Antec Soundscience Rockus 3D 2.1 Review @ HardwareLOOK
- ARCTIC Audio Relay - DLNA Audio Renderer Review @MissingRemote
- ASUS Essence One @ Guru of 3D
- ASUS Xonar U3 USB Sound Card @ Pro-Clockers
Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2012 - 02:15 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: DIY, model m, input, frank zappa, blue alps sliders
Sometimes hacks and mods are done to save you time and money or possibly both but other times you find yourself stuck in the position of Frak Zappa and cannot find a giraffe filled with whipped cream and have to make it yourself. Such is the case with this completely made custom keyboard described at Hack a Day, in which every part was either custom ordered or made by the designer themselves. None of the keys seem to be in their accustomed places and your thumbs will get a workout from all of those keys mounted in the centre of the board but for a programmer this could be the perfect design. It has taken over a year to build and likely cost more than a mass produced designed keyboard but if you want something done right ...
"[dmw] posted a pseudo-build log over at the geekhack keyboard forums. Every single part of this keyboard is custom-made. The key caps were made by Signature Plastics, the case was made by Shapeways, and the custom PCB for the key switches came directly from Express PCB. The key switches are blue Alps sliders (one of the best key switches available) with a few white Alps switches taken from an old Apple keyboard."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Roccat ISKU Gaming Keyboard Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Corsair Vengeance M90 @ XSReviews
- Enermax Briskie Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Bundle @ Kitguru
- Corsair's Vengeance K60 and K90 Keyboards @ AnandTech
- Corsair vengeance K60 @ Guru3D
- Corsair Vengeance K90 Performance MMO Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review @ Madshrimps
- SteelSeries SRW-S1 @ OC3D
- Steelseries Simraceway SRW-S1 Controller Review @ XtremeComputing
- Corsair Vengeance M90 MMO Gaming Mouse @ Kitguru
- ROCCAT Kone[+] Laser Gaming Mouse @ techPowerUp
- HP Wi-Fi Touch Mouse X7000 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Cyborg R.A.T.7 Albino Edition Gaming Mouse Review @ eTeknix
- Steelseries Kinzu V2 Pro Edition Gaming Mouse @ Funky Kit
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Storage | February 20, 2012 - 01:53 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Thecus, NAS
Home users are starting to look at Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices to serve their home media needs. Also popular are products which allow you to browse the internet and play media on your TV. Just announced by Thecus are two NAS devices which fit both roles and many others. The N2800 contains a built-in media card reader while the N4800 has a built in mini Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS), OLED status screen, and a second USB3.0 port.
I hear they're a NASty bunch...
The obvious selling features of the two devices are the inclusion of HDMI output to enable the above roles as well as an updated 3rd Generation Intel Atom CPU D2700. The D2700 is a 2.13GHz Dual Core and hyper threaded Intel Atom processor manufactured at 32nm.
Check out the highlights of their press release below.
02/20/2012- As part of the Intel Embedded Alliance, Thecus has precedence and access to a multitude of Intel prototypes and the latest technologies. Working on those products for months now, Thecus is delighted to finally release its Vision Series.
The new N2800 and N4800 are going to be some of the first Intel(r) Atom(tm) D2700 based NAS! They will set the standard for what's best in the market to help you build a true multimedia center: USB 3.0, Dual Gigabit Ports, SD Card reader (N2800), Mini-UPS (N4800), etc.
And the most important feature is the HDMI output. With Thecus Local Display module, it's now possible to connect the NAS directly to a monitor and control it through USB mouse/keyboard. Playing HD movies, browsing the web, controlling the NAS... everything is now possible directly from your TV! Thanks to this feature, Thecus is now creating a new standard among the NAS industry.
Thecus(r) Technology Corp. specializes in IP Storage Server and Network Video Recorder solutions. The company was established in 2004 with the mission to make technology that is as transparent as it is easy-to-use and products that are not only the best on the market, but are accessible to experts and novices alike. Combining a world-class R&D team highly experienced in storage hardware and software development with a keen customer focus, Thecus(r) stays close to the market to develop high-quality products to fulfill the storage and surveillance needs of today's world.
Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2012 - 01:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: NTV, near threshold voltage, transistor, pentium, qubit
The eyes of the world are on the 22nm Ivy Bridge chip that Intel has slowly been giving us details of but there is also something interesting happening at 32nm with the world's most repurposed Intel CPU. Once again the old Pentium core has been dusted off and modified to showcase new Intel technology, in this case Near Threshold Voltage operations. In this case the Threshold refers to the amount of power needed to flip a bit on a processor, what you would be used to seeing as VCC and is the reason those dang chips get so toasty. Much in the way that SpeedStep and other energy savings technologies reduce the operating frequency of an underloaded processor, Intel has tied the amount of voltage to the frequency and lowers the power requirements along with the chips speed. The demonstration model that they showed The Register varied from a high end of 1.2 volts at 915MHz to a mere 280 millivolts at 3MHz and down to 2 millivolts in sleep. By scaling the power consumption Intel may have found a nice middle group between performance and TDP to keep ARM from making major inroads into the server room, if they can pull it off with more modern processors. They also showed off a solar powered CPU which might be handy on a cell phone but seems of limited commercial value in the short term as well as a
Keeping with the theme of small, The Register also has news of research which has created a working transistor out of a single phosphorus atom, an atomic radius of 0.110nm for those who like some scale with their transistors. The trick was the temperature; seeing as it is a measure of energy expressed as movement (to put it ridiculously simply) you need low temperatures to keep the atoms from moving more than 10nm. At -196°C the atom was stable enough for its position to be accurately predicted which is absolutely necessary if you plan to use the atom as a qubit. Overclocking is going to be difficult.
"The threshold voltage is the point at which transistors turn on and conduct electricity. If you can flip bits near this threshold, instead of using much larger swing that is typically many times this threshold voltage to turn zeros into ones and vice versa, then you can save a lot of power."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The TR Podcast 106: New Radeons and a new AMD
- HP ARM-based servers expected to be available for testing in 2Q12 @ DigiTimes
- Windows 8 and the disappearance of the Start button @ Ars Technica
- ARM On Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Battling Intel x86? @ Phoronix
- DNS flaw reanimates slain evil sites as ghost domains @ The Register
- Canon PowerShot Elph 310 HS Review @ TechReviewSource
- Arctic Land Rider 309, 307 and Transmitter T-01 @ Rbmods
- Megacon 2012 Orlando Event Coverage @ TechwareLabs
- Win an OCZ Agility 3 120GB SSD @ Kitguru
- 2012 Competition MADNESS @ OC3D
Microsoft Allegedly Overhauling SkyDrive With Increased Paid Storage, Applications, and Other Goodies
Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2012 - 11:12 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: storage, skydrive, paid storage, free, cloud backup, bitlocker, app integration
Update: Some of the rumors have been confirmed by Microsoft in a blog post, though the individual file size increase was a bit off. Microsoft will be allowing files up to 2 GB in size as compared to the rumored 300 MB file sizes.
Every so often, I run across a rumor that sounds almost too good to be true. On the other hand, it sounds so good that I just can't stop myself from being excited about it. Over the weekend, I saw an article that talked about Windows Live Skydrive offering paid storage tiers and I now really want this to come to fruition.
For those curious, SkyDrive is Microsoft's "cloud storage" service that gives users 25 GB of free storage space to hold files. There are some restrictions with the individual file size (that can be worked around if you really want to backup a home movie for example), but otherwise it is a boatload of space for free and saved my butt when the, um, "formatting catastrophe" of 2010 happened by having most of my digital photos backed up!
SkyDrive as it is now, funny old photos and all!
The service is connected to your Microsoft Live or hotmail account and can be accessed by navigating to skydrive.live.com. There are some usability issues with the service; however, including the fact that it's a pain in the rear to upload more than one or two files. The website doesn't make it easy to batch upload, say, a folder or folders only a file at a time. Further, it is not nearly as easy to manage those files once they are in the SkyDrive as it should be. Now, if you use IE, the SkyDrive website will allow you to upload multiple files easier; however, the other browsers are left without a way to do it. There is also the aforementioned individual file size limit of 100 MB per file.
The exciting bit about the rumors and (allegedly) leaked screen shots is that if they stay true the service is about to get a whole lot better by offering cheap storage and fixing many of the issues people have had with the service.
The leaked image
On the storage front, Microsoft is allegedly adding new paid storage tiers and increasing the individual file size limit to 300 MB (from 100 MB). Among the new plans are 20 GB, 50 GB, and 100 GB offerings (which is in addition to the free 25 GB of space) for $10, $25, and $50 a year respectively. Not a bad price at all in my opinion! Assuming the pricing is accurate, they are vastly undercutting the competition. Dropbox, for example, is currently offering 50 GB for $99 a year and 100 GB for $199 per year. Granted, Dropbox has syncing functionality, no individual file size limit, and is a much easier to use service with an established user base, but at these prices the Microsoft offering is likely to win over many people who just want some cheap off site backup space!
|Paid Storage Space||SkyDrive (Price Per Year)||Dropbox (Price Per Year)|
Dropbox pricing just for comparision.
While there are currently mobile applications for Windows Phone and Apple iOS smart phones, users must turn to third party explorer extensions (like SDExplorer) for Windows OS integration on the desktop. More leaked images seem to suggest that Microsoft will be launching applications for Windows and Mac operating systems to better integrate SkyDrive into the OS (and hopefully enable easier cloud file management). SDExplorer is a third party extension that I used to upload all my photos to SkyDrive and it allows mounting the SkyDrive account as a "hard drive" under Windows Explorer. Unfortunately, it costs money to get the full feature set, so hopefully Microsoft can provide similar (or more) features for free with their OS.
In addition, Microsoft will allegedly be adding URL shortening for public and shared SkyDrive file links as well as the ability to share files to Twitter and Facebook from within the SkyDrive website. For the latter, there are already APIs and Microsoft is likely just leveraging them to make sharing files a bit more convenient. On the other hand, Microsoft will be using their own URL shortening service via the sdrv.ms domain instead of integrating with an existing service.
As a user of Libre Office (the fork off of what was once Open Office), I deal a lot with .odt files, which is the open document standard. For users of Microsoft's web application of Office, they have been forced to save files to the Microsoft standards; however, rumors suggest that the service will soon support creating and saving to the .odt, .odp, and .ods document formats. If you are using Office Web Apps, then you are already likely fairly integrated into the Office universe, and this feature won't mean much. On the other hand, this will help out others who may need to edit one of the Libre Office created documents backed up to their SkyDrive on the go. Better compatibility is always a step in the right direction for MS after all.
Last up on the rumor pile for SkyDrive is the ability to store BitLocker recovery keys directly to SkyDrive so that you have a backup should you ever forget your encryption password. The flip side of that convenience feature is that it provides another attack vector should someone attempt to get their hands on your encryption keys, and it is a location that you must depend on someone else to keep secure. As weird as it may sound, you might want to encrypt your encryption key before uploading it to any "cloud" service (heh), just in case. Still, it's good to have options.
Needless to say, there was quite the leak this weekend over Microsoft SkyDrive features! It is a lot to take in, but in my opinion it sounds like they are really giving the service special attention it needs to get it into fighting form. And if the rumors hold true it will be much more comptetitive with other cloud storage backup options as a result of the overhaul. I'm excited about this, obviously, but what about you? Do you use SkyDrive?
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 20, 2012 - 01:50 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Rosepoint, ISSCC 2012, ISSCC, Intel
If there is one thing that Intel is good at, it is writing a really big check to go in a new direction right when absolutely needed. Intel has released press information on what should be expected from their presence at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference which is currently in progress until the 23rd. The headliner for Intel at this event is their Rosepoint System on a Chip (SoC) which looks to lower power consumption by rethinking the RF transceiver and including it on the die itself. While the research has been underway for over a decade at this point, pressure from ARM has pushed Intel to, once again, throw money at R&D until their problems go away.
Intel could have easily trolled us all and have named this SoC "Centrino".
Almost ten years ago, AMD had Intel in a very difficult position. Intel fought to keep clock-rates high until AMD changed their numbering scheme to give proper credit to their higher performance-per-clock components. Intel dominated, legally or otherwise, the lower end market with their Celeron line of processors.
AMD responded with series of well-timed attacks against Intel. AMD jabbed Intel in the face and punched them in the gut with the release of the Sempron processor line nearby filing for anti-trust against Intel to allow them to more easily sell their processors in mainstream PCs.
At around this time, Intel decided to entirely pivot their product direction and made plans to take their Netburst architecture behind the shed. AMD has yet to recover from the tidal wave which the Core architectures crashed upon them.
Intel wishes to stop assaulting your battery indicator.
With the surge of ARM processors that have been fundamentally designed for lower power consumption than Intel’s x86-based competition, things look bleak for the expanding mobile market. Leave it to Intel to, once again, simply cut a gigantic check.
Intel is in the process of cutting power wherever possible in their mobile offerings. To remain competitive with ARM, Intel is not above outside-the-box solutions including the integration of more power-hungry components directly into the main processor. Similar to NVIDIA’s recent integration of touchscreen hardware into their Tegra 3 SoC, Intel will push the traditionally very power-hungry Wi-Fi transceivers into the SoC and supposedly eliminate all analog portions of the component in the process.
I am not too knowledgeable about Wi-Fi transceivers so I am not entirely sure how big of a jump Intel has made in their development, but it appears to be very significant. Intel is said to discuss this technology more closely during their talk on Tuesday morning titled, “A 20dBm 2.4GHz Digital Outphasing Transmitter for WLAN Application in 32nm CMOS.”
This paper is about a WiFi-compliant (802.11g/n) transmitter using Intel’s 32nm process and techniques leveraging Intel transistors to achieve record performance (power consumption per transmitted data better than state-of-the art). These techniques are expected to yield even better results when moved to Intel’s 22nm process and beyond.
What we do know is that the Rosepoint SoC will be manufactured at 32nm and is allegedly quite easy to scale down to smaller processes when necessary. Intel has also stated that while only Wi-Fi is currently supported, other frequencies including cellular bands could be developed in the future.
We will need to wait until later to see how this will affect the real world products, but either way -- this certainly is a testament to how much change a dollar can be broken into.
Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2012 - 11:11 PM | Scott Michaud
So what do you do if you blew all of your money on a professional workstation and have nothing left for software?
Well, you get a better business strategy.
Occasionally there are open source products which rival or exceed the usability of the packaged products. I first started learning 3D modeling on a perpetual educational license of Maya and 2D art on a combination of Photoshop and GIMP. While I could not manage to eliminate Photoshop from my workflow I found the switch from Maya to pre-release Blender + Bmesh builds felt like an upgrade -- not just a manageable change. Blender is rapidly getting even better with each new bi-monthly version such as their just-released 2.62 update.
(Photo Credit: Blender Project / Alexey Lugovoy)
Blender decided to introduce many new features throughout the 2.6 series of releases by developing them in parallel and merging branches into the release trunk as they became worthy. This release yielded a new renderer known as “Cycles”, new UV unwrapping tools, reprogrammed Boolean tools, and motion tracking features.
Personally, I look most forward to the official 2.63 release scheduled for April. It appears as if the secrecy surrounding the development status of Bmesh was lifted and its introduction to the canon application is pinned to that release. Prior to pre-release Bmesh builds, Blender just felt too distant to the style of modeling which I developed in my years of using Maya. Since the addition of Bmesh, Blender was able to fit all of the essential roles which Maya satisfied and avoided some of my long-standing gripes with Autodesk’s $3000 package in the process. I was not even referring to its cost.
By the end of the 2.6 line, I expect that Blender will be an upgrade for users of many 3D applications. Check it out, for free, at their website.