Intel is thinking even bigger and likely leveraging their McAfee assets

Subject: General Tech | January 24, 2012 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: Intel, QLogic, purchase, Infiniband, HPC

Intel blew tiny $125 million piece of their record breaking quarterly income to purchase QLogic's InfiniBand business, which gives them access to a networking technology significantly faster than Ethernet.  InfiniBand is what is referred to as a switched fabric technology which allows multiple switches to connect to multiple hosts or data stores as opposed to the more point to point single broadcast which current ethernet based networks use.

fabric.png

That may look familiar to some, but not as a network technology; it matches the communications architecture behind PCIe and SATA.  As we have seen, the speed difference between parallel connections and serial is quite impressive and InfiniBand's fastest implementation is currently capable of transferring 25 Gbit/s per lane.  That is significantly faster than the 1Gbit/s per lane PCIe 3.0 can provide which is why some current implementations of InfiniBand are used in High Performance Computing (HPC) applications.  InfiniBand also offers incredibly low latency of between 100 to 200 nanoseconds, depending on the implementation.

IB-Roadmap072611.gif

Getting a hold of this interconnect technology gives Intel a huge boost in their capabilities of creating high performance networking technologies.  They have been looking for a way to grow in that area and push out Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) manufactures from the market, replacing those chips with low power Xeons or future Intel chips.  This would open up an entirely new market for Intel, who could see their already impressive growth increase significantly.  Intel could become even more attractive to customers by taking advantage of the benefits of owning McAfee by placing virus/malware protection directly onto their switches.   We have already seen evidence of one project along these lines at IDF 2011 when they announced the DeepSAFE project which is software that operates below the OS level, providing what they refer to as "hardware-assisted" security.  With that OS-agnostic approach it would be possible to run the security software on a network switch or on an HPC interconnect. That could give Intel not only the fastest interconnect technology but also the most secure.

When discussing this with The Inquirer, Intel's representative Kirk Skaugen stated that this purchase will help Intel design and produce an exaflop level supercomputer by 2018.  It is unlikely that this is Intel's only goal, with the purchase of Fulcrum Microsystems this summer, a company which designs ASICs for Ethernet switches and routers that run at 10Gbit and 40Gbit, they are well on their way to designing network switches for HPC applications.  The Register ponders what this could mean for companies which have used InfiniBand technology in their products.  Will they be snatched up by a networking company like Cisco, could AMD pick them up and provide competition in this industry or will they consider offering themselves to Intel the best alternative?  We will be keeping an eye on this as it will not only develop into the next generation of networking technology but could also drive the successor to PCIe.

012_julich1.jpg

"The high-performance networking market just got a whole lot more interesting, with Intel shelling out $125m to acquire the InfiniBand switch and adapter product lines from upstart QLogic.

Intel has made no secret that it wants to bolster its Data Center and Connected Systems business by getting network equipment providers to use Xeon processors inside of their networking gear – that Intel division posted $10.1bn in revenues in 2011, and the company wants to break $20bn in the next five years."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Axiom wants to kick your bass

Subject: General Tech | January 23, 2012 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: audio, axiom, EP125 V3, subwoofer

If you require a little more audio quality than a pair of inexpensive 2.1 speakers can offer you should head on over to the Guru of 3D for their review of the Axiom EP125 V3 subwoofer,  intended to be paired with the bookshelf speakers that Guru reviewed earlier.  You can tell this is a little more than a simple add on subwoofer when you see the aluminium speaker. On the back it sports an XLR output and combo XLR/TRS inputs which will allow you daisy chain multiple subwoofers together.  A crossover switch toggles between 80Hz and 150Hz for those who need fine tuning on this 125W sub.  Keep in mind, Guru 3D is not done yet as they still have to add in the VP100 Center channel speaker and paired QS4 rears channel satellite speakers to achieve total surround sound.

g3d_axiom.jpg

"Recently, we reviewed the Axiom M3 v2 bookshelf speakers and found them to be great speaker for the price point but bookshelf speakers are only capable of reproducing the higher areas of the sonic spectrum.

Bookshelf speaker based audio systems require a subwoofer to produce the lower frequency ranges that the bookshelf speakers cannot accurate reproduce. Axiom produces a subwoofer which is said to be an excellent match sonically for the M3 speakers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

Source: Guru3D

Intel starts shifting their executives and planning for the future

Subject: General Tech | January 23, 2012 - 11:44 AM |
Tagged: Intel

The names are familiar to those of us who obsess over technology; Dadi Perlmutter, Paul Otellini, Mooly Eden, Andy Bryant and others have defined Intel for a while now and are obviously quite good at their jobs.   However just as Andy Grove and others of the old guard had to change their positions at Intel after many years of service, the current stars of Intel are also beginning to age.  The Register reports today on the movement of employees at Intel, which reflect a much more positive change in structure than the restructuring which recently took place at AMD.

Kirk Skaugen is a name to pay attention to, he has replaced Mooly Eden as head of PC chip operations while Mooly heads to Israel to take over Intel's operations in that country.  Another name that may become very familiar is Diane Bryant, the once CIO is now general manager of the Data Centre and Connected Systems Group.  Dale Perlmutter remains Intel's chief product officer, but he is one of the few that did not move.  Read the full article to see which other names will help Intel in coming battles with AMD, ARM and others.

perlmutter.jpg

"Management changes at Intel make it more clear who might end up running the company – after the current execs decide to retire many years hence – and who is going to be leading the fight against ARM processors at the bottom of the Intel line and RISC processors at the top."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

 

Source: The Register

After Hours Gaming League (AHGL) -- Season 2 begins.

Subject: General Tech | January 23, 2012 - 03:59 AM |
Tagged: day9, ahgl

What do you do when you leave work?

Last summer, Sean (Day[9]) Plott hosted a Starcraft 2 tournament for those who may not be professional gamers -- but who are professionals. Employees of Amazon, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Yelp, and Zynga fought for Starcraft supremacy. In the playoff finals, Microsoft bested Zynga both in tagline (“Macro hard, Microsoft” vs. “glhf play farmville on facebook”) as well as the evermore important win count. For their success, Microsoft received $5000.01 of Sean Plott’s money to be donated to Amnesty International, their charity of choice. This week, Day[9] announced season 2 of the AHGL where about 30 teams will compete in two separate ladders: one for Starcraft 2, and the other for League of Legends.

ahgl.jpg

Huh, if they drop it… will it bounce?

The teams for each game were announced with Starcraft 2 having a much larger turnout with 29 teams.

Adobe Amazon AMD Digital Extremes
Dropbox EA Epic Ernst & Young
Facebook FactSet Geek Squad Google
IBM Intel Legend3D LinkedIn
Microsoft Mozilla NVIDIA Palantir
Pipeworks Qualcomm RapidShare Shopify
TwitchTV Twitter Western Digital Zappos
Zynga      

 

League of Legends is much more modest with just 11 teams competing.

Amazon EA  Epic Ernst & Young
FactSet Gearbox Google Intel
Microsoft Promethean World Zappos  

 

While there tournament itself is exciting, I am slightly more interested in the commentary to be had if fierce rivals such as AMD and NVIDIA, or Intel and Qualcomm manage to face each other. Is it cheating for Amazon to own Zappos? There still does not appear to be any announcements regarding the casters for the events apart from Day[9] himself, although persumably "Husky" will make a return. Check it out at their website.

Source: AHGL

ARM isn't worried about Intel ... wonder if the reverse is true?

Subject: General Tech | January 20, 2012 - 01:06 PM |
Tagged: Medfield, Intel, arm

With Medfield being a large part of CES 2012, there is a currently a big focus on Intel's foray into the mobile world.  One company that does not seemed worried is ARM who have been, and continue to be, the largest supplier of processors for mobile applications.  DigiTimes spoke to Jeff Chu of ARM who stated that his company does not perceive Intel as a threat to their market share.  That perception is largely based on the limited product lines that Intel currently offers, as compared to ARM who offers a very wide variety of platforms. 

On the other hand intel, even with record breaking income, might be a little concerned about ARM.  With Windows on ARM arriving to the market some time in the near future Intel could see erosion in their desktop business, as for that matter so could AMD.  As well with companies like Caxeda creating rack mount servers utilizing ARM processors both of the major server chip suppliers should probably be a little worried.  After all there are about four ARM processors per person on the planet currently.

DT1_r.jpg

"ARM is not under competitive pressure from Intel's move into processor platforms for handheld devices, because Intel does not let clients know the value of adopting its platforms while ARM has provided different application platforms for different partners for market segmentation, according to director of consumer, client computing, Jeff Chu for ARM.

Chu pointed out that ARM has already developed products to correspond to Intel's Medfield platform, and since Intel is currently only promoting one platform, ARM's different application platforms allow the company to achieve its goal of market segmentation."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

Harry Reid Announces Senate Delay On PIPA Vote

Subject: General Tech | January 20, 2012 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: SOPA, pipa, Internet, Copyright

After the numerous website protests of SOPA and PIPA on Wednesday, quite a few representatives and senators started to backpedal on their support for their respective bills. Among the politicians that retracted their full support for the bill include:

  • Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire)
  • Roy Blunt (Missouri)
  • John Boozman (Arkansas)
  • Scott Brown (Massachusets)
  • Orrin Hatch (Utah)
  • Tim Holden (Pennsylvania)
  • Lee Terry (Nebraska)
  • Jeff Merkley (Oregon),
  • Ben Quayle (Arizona)
  • Marco Rubio (Florida)

A fairly nice boost to the SOPA/PIPA opposition group. While both SOPA and PIPA are far from dead, both bills have now been delayed from being voted on in the House of Representatives and the Senate. We reported on the SOPA delay here, and Lamar Smith has since stated that he will be pushing for a SOPA vote around February 24th. Now, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid, a democrat from Nevada, announced that a PIPA vote would be delayed until a compromise can be reached. On one hand, this means that PIPA is far from dead and the wording of "compromise" implies a slight wording change here or there so that they can pass it with less opposition. If; however, I'm being optimistic, the delay gives Americans more time to talk with their representatives about the bill and their concerns. Reid further stated that (allegedly) piracy costs the economy "billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year," and that:

"We made good progress through the discussions we’ve held in recent days, and I am optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks.”

Make of that what you will, but personally I'm of the opinion that it's not time to get comfortable. Keep the pressure on our Representatives and Senators by calling and sending letters. For example, one concern that I would like answered is this: Using the MegaUpload take-down as an example, why exactly do we need this law that takes away due process when that very same technique was used to take down a website. Obviously we already have methods in place to combat believed piracy, and a court system to, as fairly as possible, charge and punish those found guilty; therefore, why do we legitimately need SOPA and/or PIPA?

Kodak Files Chapter 11, Looks To Bankruptcy For Protection

Subject: General Tech | January 20, 2012 - 01:24 AM |
Tagged: kodak, chapter 11, bankrupt, restructure, patents, cameras, photography

Eastman Kodak company has been on the rocky edges financially for some time and late last year there were rumors that Kodak would be filing for bankruptcy. Well, it looks like the company's financial position is now official, as they have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and are working to restructure their US operations and become profitable. The company has paired with Lazard, FTI Consulting Inc and Sullivan & Cromwell to assist them in shaving down their business into a lean, mean, picture capturing machine. Under their Chapter 11 filing, Kodak will work to bolster liquidity by trimming down the business to its core and monetizing their "non-strategic intellectual property." The IP likely will involve Kodak selling off some of their non-core patents for imaging. After all, they have a catalog of 1,100 patents, so they definitely have plenty of room to work with in monetizing their assets.

Kodak.gif

According to Tom's Hardware, since 2003 the company has shut down 13 manufacturing plants, 130 processing facilities, and shed 47,000 workers. Further, to help with the restructuring process, they have obtained $950 million debtor-in-possession loan through Citigroup that will mature in 18 months. This should give the company enough cash to tide them over while they restructure and prepare to sell off certain assets. Kodak states that "Kodak aims to build company that will be successful in the marketplace – and a positive force in the communities we call home." It is important to note that the non-U.S. based operations of Kodak are not affected by the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

Kodak has set up a web page to detail their restructuring efforts.

Source: Kodak

FBI Arrests Seven People for Insider Trading of Dell and Nvidia Stock

Subject: General Tech | January 19, 2012 - 06:40 PM |
Tagged: dell, nvidia, insider trading, tech, Law, ethics

There is an important distinction between working within the confines of the law to make the most profit possible and going outside those lines to make a profit while hoping you don't get caught. To drive that point home, the FBI has stated "what distinguishes you from the dozens who have been charged is not that you haven’t been caught; it’s that you haven’t been caught yet." Assistant Director in Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk wrote that when referring to a recent bust of seven individuals accused of insider trading of Dell and Nvidia stock. The arrests, made as part of Operation Perfect Hedge, include seven men who are connected by "friendship or business association."

funny-pictures-fbi-cat-installs-surveillance-while-you-are-away.jpg

Thanks to three of the seven men cooperating with the FBI, we know that the men used information about Dell and Nvidia's quarterly earnings prior to any public release of such earnings documents to purchase stock to resell after positive earning documents caused the stock value to increase or to short their stock to avoid losses that would be incurred by lower than expected quarterly earnings causing the stock price to drop. On the Dell side of things, two employees in the know provided quarterly earnings numbers to various hedge funds. The first employee, Sandy Goyal, is charged with providing a hedge fund with Q1 earning results for 2008 in exchange for $175,000. The hedge fund then used that insider information to make $3.8 million dollars. Another (former) Dell employee, Jesse Tortora furnished three hedge funds with quarterly earnings numbers who each then made $4 million on Q1 information and $53 million on the Q2 information, $1 million in profit, and the final Hedge fund avoided #78,000 in losses by selling stock before the inevitable price drop thanks to knowing the negative earning numbers before hand.

Finally, Danny kuo knew someone who worked at Nvidia and provided information to the other members of the insider trading group.

Let this be a lesson to those business folks that slept through ethics classes, stay away from insider trading, especially when you are paid for the information as you are just asking to get caught. (Cue the "Cops" theme song).  Normally we don't cover this kind of news; however, I thought it applicable since it involves Dell and Nvidia.  Also, speaking of quarterly earnings, Josh will have all the details from today's Intel Earnings Call up soon.

Source: FBI

TSMC finds Samsung to be a competing Foundry

Subject: General Tech | January 19, 2012 - 11:51 AM |
Tagged: TSMC, Samsung, fab

When thinking of foundries one first tends to think of Intel, TSMC and GLOBALFOUNDRIES, but from what TSMC's Chairman revealed yesterday you might start thinking about the Fab 4 instead.  Samsung have been making DRAM and NAND memory for quite a while now as anyone who has inspected their DIMMs or SSD is well aware and their hard drive business is well known.  What has not been in enthusiasts' minds is the System LSI (Large Scale Integration), component of Samsung which designs logic chips for cellphones, SOCs, sensors and many other low powered tasks. 

While TSMC remains much larger than the System LSI portion of Samsung but TSMC feels that Samsung could become a major competitor over the coming year.  TSMC's product lines certainly do overlap some of Samsung's currently and there are new projects in the work that TSMC sees as vulnerable.  DigiTimes specifically mentions the TSV chips powering 3D TVs and the possibility of competition when Apple looks to source the 3D TVs they will be adding to the set top boxes they currently sell.

pkg_technicalinfo_TSV_01.gif

"Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world's largest contract chipmaker, has now identified Samsung Electronics as a potential and formidable competitor in the market in which it still controls a dominant share.

During a Q&A session at TSMC's investors meeting on January 18, Morris Chang, TSMC chairman and CEO, said that Samsung will substantially expand what it calls the System LSI division. In addition to servicing its clients, the business also plays a major role in supplying Samsung's own-brand system products such as smartphones and tablets with logic chips, Chang indicated."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

Alienware X51 Desktop -- Console Sized PC, $700 and up.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems | January 18, 2012 - 07:25 PM |
Tagged: GTX 555, GT 545, dell, alienware

Alienware has been long known for two things: having interesting case designs, and being prohibitively expensive. For the last five years or so, Alienware has been a subsidiary of Dell to displace their gaming XPS product line into a non-gaming higher-end line. They have recently announced their X51 product line as Jeremy noted earlier, but what does that mean for someone interested in PC Gaming?

alienware-1.jpg

Like how it looks? Dude, you’re getting a Dell!

Jeremy’s post went through the range of base models and their associated prices. The main product page listed the features of the higher-end base unit along with two other points: the chassis can be vertically or horizontally mounted; and you can upgrade your core components easily. While the latter statement is great to make, it should also be noted that with a maximum 330W power supply, your upgrade options -- while potentially easy -- are quite limited.

x51-3.png

The choice in video cards is split between the GeForce GT 545 and the GeForce GTX 555: these are both OEM-only GPUs and thus benchmarks are at this time difficult to find. The GT 545 contains 144 CUDA cores clocked at 870/1740 MHz with the memory clocked at 1998 MHz. Should you opt for the higher-end GTX 555, your GPU contains exactly twice the CUDA cores (288) clocked slightly slower at 776/1553 MHz and a slightly lower memory clock of 1914 MHz.

alienware-2.jpg

Dude, you regretting a Dell?

In terms of Alienware-specific perks, Alienware has developed the “Alienware Command Center”; this application allows you to customize the lighting on your chassis as well as control programs and tweak your system. While a nice value-addition, it is obviously more gimmicky than practical; but really, isn’t that a large portion of why you are purchasing an Alienware computer? At least they look to be decent gimmicks. The price also does not appear to be too high compared to what you are getting from what I can tell. You would obviously be in a better position to assemble a desktop yourself and probably even commission your local small business computer store to do it for you, but the Alienware’s price does not appear to be in a distant galaxy.

So what do you think?

Source: Alienware

Lucid Cloud Gaming (VGWare) and XLR8 on Tablets Demo

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 18, 2012 - 03:29 PM |
Tagged: CES, lucid, xlr8, vgware, cloud

Even though CES 2012 is behind us, there are still some things we took photos or video of that we wanted to show you.  First up, Lucid had a suite off the strip to demonstrate a couple of new technologies coming from the company in 2012.  VGWare is the current name for the cloud-based gaming technology based on the Lucid GPU virtualization technology that allows for games to be rendered on a server and played on a remote machine with only minimal hardware.

In the video above you see two integrated-GPU based notebooks playing Modern Warfare 2 (two instances) and Madagascar being rendered on a machine running an NVIDIA GTX 480 GPU.  

Lucid intends to offer this technology to larger-scale companies that would want to compete with someone like OnLive or maybe even software developers directly.  While that is what we expected, I told them that I would like to see a consumer version of this application - have a single high-powered gaming PC in your home and play games on multiple "thin client" PCs for LAN parties, etc.  What do you all think - is that something you see as useful?

The second demo was for Lucid's XLR8 software that promises to improve performance of gaming on PCs, phones and tablets by intelligently managing display synchronization and GPU performance.

The really interesting part about XLR8 is the flexibility it offers - in our video you see it running on an ASUS Transformer tablet via the NVIDIA Tegra 2 SoC.  Frame rates jumped about 40% but we didn't get enough hands on time with the configuration to truly make a decision on whether or not it was an improved gaming experience.  Hopefully Lucid will get this technology to us soon for some hands-on time.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

DX11 to beam up Captain

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2012 - 02:24 PM |
Tagged: gaming, star trek online

Gaming news is a little light this week, partially because of CES coverage eating up most reviewers time but also because some review sites are blacked out today in protest of SOPA/PIPA.  However, [H]ard|OCP has something for Trekkies to check out.  They are in on the DX11 beta for Star Trek Online which allows those using mid or high end features to enjoy more eye candy when playing.  They take you through the steps to enable DX11 as it is not going to be enabled by default as well as checking the quality improvements and any impact on frame rates.  If you are on this MMORPG it is an article well worth checking out.

H_trek.jpg

"Star Trek Online has recently added DX11 Beta support, and we wanted to know how AMD's latest Radeon HD 7970 compared to NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 580 in the game and if DX11 provided any kind of performance difference over DX9. Our results were not what we expected."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Symantec users beware

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2012 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: symantec, norton antivirus, fud, PCanywhere

It took 5 years and a threat by a hacker group for Symantec to admit that they were successfully hacked and source code to some of their software was stolen.  As the threat was never delivered upon it is possible that the hacker group may have had nothing to do with the original hack but were more interested in having Symantec admit to the breach.  Current Norton Antivirus Corporate Edition, Norton Internet Security or Norton Systemworks users should not worry, the source code is so old that possessing it will not give you the ability to affect current software.  PC Anywhere users on the other hand might be at increased risk if they left the installation on default settings; according to The Inquirer Symantec will be contacting PC Anywhere customers to ensure they know about the attack and how to change their settings to minimize any risks.

pcanywhere.jpg

"SECURITY VENDOR Symantec has admitted that its servers were successfully hacked and Norton antivirus and other software source code was stolen.

At the beginning of this month the firm acknowledged that some of its source code was obtained from a third party but said that would not affect Norton antivirus users. However, it now admits that an attack in 2006 obtained source code for other software, which could put its customers at risk."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Sites Planning SOPA Protest On January 18th 2012

Subject: General Tech | January 17, 2012 - 10:38 PM |
Tagged: SOPA, pipa, congress

January 18th is almost upon us, and it is going to be more than a typical Wednesday for many Internet users. While different sites are doing different things tomorrow, they are all abiding by a common theme; protesting SOPA and PIPA, the anti-piracy bills currently winding their way through the House and Senate. Several websites plan to "go dark" and blackout their sites' pages in favor of a link to information on SOPA and how users can contact their congressmen. Other sites will be protesting the anti-piracy bills in a different way either by displaying links to SOPA informational websites on their home pages or by redirecting traffic to anti-SOPA pages.

Ever since popular social congregation and news site Reddit announced that it would blackout their website in protest, the list of companies and sites joining the protest has continued to grow. The companies and sites who plan to blackout their pages in protest include (in alphabetical order):

  • 38 Sudios
  • BoingBoing.net
  • The Cheeseburger Network
  • Epic Games
  • Osolabs.com
  • Reddit
  • Red 5 Studios
  • Riot Games
  • Scribd
  • TwitPic
  • Minecraft.net
  • MoveOn.org
  • WhatTimeIn.com
  • Wikipedia (the English version)
  • WordPress.org

And in infomercial like enthusiasm; wait, there's more! While Facebook and (especially) Twitter have been reluctant to act and join the protest (despite their entire sites business model depending on user generated content), two big names in the Internet world have decided to throw their weight around and protest. Both Google and Mozilla will be protesting SOPA and PIPA tomorrow by directing users to pages encouraging users to contact their congressmen. Google will be posting a link on their home page to a document stating why they are opposed to the two bills while Mozilla will redirect web traffic from Mozilla.com and Mozilla.org to a call to action page for 12 hours starting at 8 AM (Eastern Standard Time). Further, Mozilla will replace the default Firefox start page with a call to action message atop a blank, black background.

StopSopaPipa.png

UPDATE: Twit.tv, the host for a number of popular web shows and podcasts will also be joining the protest tomorrow by displaying the site in black and white. Further, OpenSUSE and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are also joining the fight with a splash page and a prominent "Stop SOPA" graphical link to more information respectively.

It is unfortunate that Facebook and Twitter have no joined; however, the number of sites that have decided to take action is impressive and will hopefully encourage more people to contact their congressmen and implore them not to pass SOPA or PIPA. You may have noticed that even PC Perspective is joining the protest in our own way, with the ads on the left and right side of the page being replaced by an anti-SOPA graphic. We considered joining the blackout; however, we felt that our audience has likely already voiced their opposition and is aware of SOPA and PIPA. Therefore, we felt it would be more effective to keep the news on the protest rolling in and to keep the site and forums up for users to discuss the issues. SOPA may be stalled; however, it is far from dead and talks in Congress on the bill may resume as soon as next month.  Keep the pressure on, and help spread the word about SOPA and PIPA by talking to your friends and family and explaining to them the implications of such a bill passing. Do you really want to be the one to explain to them after SOPA or PIPA passes why they can no longer get their Facebook fix!? (Scary!)

Source: All Things D

CES Sets Record Levels Of Attendance, Products, and Size

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2012 - 10:06 PM |
Tagged: technology, industry, CES 2012, CES

The Consumer Electronics Show, or CES for short, is always a huge event for tech journalists, websites, and enthusiasts alike. When our own Scott Michaud heard that Microsoft would be making this year's show its last, we had some minor doubts about where the show was going to go. Once the show got underway; however, all doubts about CES wavering were put to rest.

CES_Central_Hall.JPG

This year's Consumer Electronics Show was simply massive. According to PC World, not only was CES 2012 huge but it was the largest show ever! The Consumer Electronics Association announced that of the 44 year history of the show, 2012 was a huge success with increases in attendance, products, and show floor area. The amount of floor space increased to 1.9 million square feet where 3,100 companies came out to show off their new products. Including our own dedicated CES team, there were 153,000 people in attendance.

The show further resulted in 20,000 new products being shown off and more than a 33 % increase in news ideas with 2,000+ news articles being written about cool products, expensive, products, and even some questionable products.

IMG_7405.JPG

The CEA is considering the show a huge success, and as you can see from the numbers they announced, the show is growing despite Microsoft leaving. New vendors are likely to show up and now that MS is (for now anyway) leaving, it opens up a slot for someone else to put on a great show for tech enthusiasts. Here's hoping CES 2013 continues to grow, and that they install some of those fancy walking sidewalks or supply Segways!

On the off chance that you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks, we have assembled tons of articles, photos, and videos of this years CES 2012 that you can catch up on at pcper.com/ces! I know that Ryan, Josh, Matt, and Ken are still in recovery mode from little steep and lots of walking; however, we will be hitting 2012 hard with more news, more reviews, and more tech industry coverage. We'd like to thank everyone for a good 2011 and welcome both old and new readers to the site as we move forward into 2012!

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: PC World

Is Corsair Cherry picking the switches on their keyboard in the name of Vengeance?

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2012 - 06:49 PM |
Tagged: keyboard, input, cherry mx red, Vengeance K90, corsair

Corsair's Vengeance K90 has a refreshingly minimilistic and industrial design to it for a current high end keyboard.  A plain aluminium facing with a mix of mechanical and rubber dome switches, though they did include LEDs which can be activated for those who desire such things or perhaps prefer typing in utter darkness.  The lesser used keys like the function keys and ALT key are the lesser rubber dome switches while the common keys and the 18 macro keys all have mechanical switches.  Check out the full review at XSReviews.

XS_4Overview.jpg

"This keyboard, the Vengeance K90, is being marketed as being ideal for RTS and MMO gamers. With a heavy complement of macro keys and Cherry MX Red switches they’ve already made a good start, but will Corsair’s debut keyboard stand up to the competition? With Razer’s BlackWidow and numerous other mechanical keyboards beginning to flow from Western peripheral makers it’ll be a hard fight."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk


Source: XSReviews

Intel, NVIDIA and AMD; all are having new GPU spring fling

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2012 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: amd, NVIDA, HD7950, kepler, Ivy Bridge, Intel

The arrival of the HD 7970 caused a bit of disappointment to some, not because of the performance of the card, instead it was the price that depressed many would be owners of the fastest GPU on the planet.  That price is fair, currently the competition sells their top card, the GTX 580 for about $500 and as the HD7970 is faster charging a ~10% premium makes perfect sense ... now if only they could do something about the stock problems.

All is not lost GPU fans, DigiTimes has confirmed AMD's HD7950 should be here by the end of the month and will offer the same next generation architecture at a lower price.  If it emulates the style of the HD6950 it will be a very popular card and will mean AMD beat NVIDIA to market with both enthusiast level cards.  It will likely be sometime in April before we start to see Kepler based cards from NVIDIA, of which they are being fairly closed mouth about.  We do know that they will be leading with mobile and mid-range chips, not the enthusiast level cards as AMD did, the reasons for that are widely debated.

Intel is also going to offer competition in the spring as they release Ivy Bridge with its integrated graphics.  That may take a chunk of AMD's Llano market share but their high end discrete GPUs should be safe.  NVIDIA on the other hand is vulnerable, if their mobile chips do not offer a significant advantage over Ivy Bridge's capabilities or cannot work in tandem with the chip then NVIDA's products will not be that attractive.  Even worse, if their mid-range cards do not live up to expectations, they may find AMD's previous generation of cards and Intel's iGPU dominating the market segment NVIDIA hoped to keep share in.

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2011 market shares from Jon Peddie Research

"AMD, after announcing 28nm high-end Radeon HD 7970 graphics card, is set to add a new 28nm member Radeon HD 7950 by the end of January, while Nvidia, considering the yield rates of the 28nm process and its inventory levels, plans to officially release its 28nm Kepler in April, at the latest, according to sources from graphics card makers.

The sources noted that Nvidia wishes to make sure that the power consumption and the manufacturing process of the graphics chip all reach perfection before entering the 28nm generation. Since Nvidia is set to release its 28nm graphics card around the same time as Intel's upcoming 22nm Ivy Bridge processor, the sources believe Kepler series GPUs may have a chance to catch up with the demand for Intel's new CPUs."

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Source: DigiTimes

SOPA Stalled Until Consensus Is Reached

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2012 - 10:56 PM |
Tagged: SOPA, pipa, congress, Law, Copyright

Everyone who contacted your congressmen and / or boycotted SOPA supporting businesses please give yourself a pat on the back because the controversial House bill, SOPA, has been stalled until a consensus is reached. Following Texas House Representative Lamar Smith's announcement that the DNS provision of SOPA would be removed, House Oversight Chairman Darrel Issa of California stated he was promised that the House would no longer vote on the Stop Online Privacy Act unless a consensus is reached on the bill.

Chairman Issa was quoted by The Hill in stating "While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act, I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House."  He further assured people that a consensus on anti-piracy legislation would need to be reached before any bill would come to a vote. The Protect IP Act action he mentioned relates to the Senate bill proceeding as planned, without the DNS provisions however.

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This is a small victory for everyone who is not overreacting Big Content or being paid by Big Content to think that way.  SOPA has gathered a great many opponents during it's short time in the public eye, including popular sites Google, Yahoo, and Facebook, legislators Nancy Pelosy, Darrel Issa, and presidential candidate Ron Paul, and various civil rights groups.  Now that the bill has been stalled, it is not likely to proceed to a vote in its current form, and the Internet thanks everyone who contacted their congressmen to oppose the bill.  Keep in mind that the Senate version of the bill, Protect IP, is still proceeding; therefore, there is still work to be done.

Photo courtesy Amani Hasan via Flickr.

Source: The Hill

DNS Redirect Provision Suspended From SOPA (and PIPA)

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2012 - 06:21 AM |
Tagged: SOPA, senate, security, pipa, Internet, house, freedom, dnssec, dns, Copyright, congress, bill

SOPA, the ever controversial bill making its way through the House of Representatives, contained a provision that would force ISPs to block any website accused of copyright infringement from their customers. This technical provision was highly contested by Internet security experts and the standards body behind DNSSEC. The experts have been imploring Congress to reconsider the SOPA DNS provision as they feel it poses a significant threat to the integrity and security of the Internet.

In a somewhat surprising move, on Friday, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas and Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont both announced that the DNS provisions included in their respective bills (SOPA in the House and companion bill PIPA in the Senate) would be removed until such time that security experts could provide them with more conclusive information on the implications of such DNS interference.

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Many sites are preparing protests to SOPA, most will be forced to shut down should SOPA pass.

As a quick primer, DNS (Domain Name System) is the Internet equivalent of a phone book (or Google/Facebook contact list for the younger generation) for websites, allowing people to reach websites at difficult to remember IP (Internet Protocol) addresses by typing in much simpler text based URLs. Take the PC Perspective website- pcper.com- for example; the website is hosted on a server that is then access by other computers using the IP address of "208.65.201.194." Humans; however cannot reasonably be expected to remember an IP address for every website they wish to visit, especially IPV6 addresses which are even longer numerical strings. Instead, people navigate using text based URLs. By typing a URL (universal resource locator) into a browser such as "pcper.com," the software then polls other computers on the Internet running DNS software to match the URL to an IP address. This IP is then used to connect to the website's server. Further, DNSSEC (the Domain Name System Security Extensions) is a standard and set of protocols backed by the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) that seeks to make looking up IP addresses more secure. DNSSEC seeks to protect look-up requests by using multiple servers to verify that the URL look-up returns the correct IP address. By securing DNS requests, users are protected from malicious redirects on compromised servers. Browsers will request IP addresses from multiple DNS servers to reduce the risk that they will receive a malicious IP address to a compromises site.

Security experts are opposed to the DNS blocking provisions in SOPA because the methods contradict the very secure environment that standards bodies have been working for years to implement. SOPA would require ISPs to filter every person's DNS requests (the URL typed into the browser), and to block and/or redirect any requests for websites accused of copyright infringement of US rights holders. This very action goes against DNSSEC and opens the door to a less secure Internet. If ISPs are forced to invalidate DNSSEC, browsers will be forced to poll otherwise untrusted servers and what is to stop so called hacking groups and others of malicious intent from compromising DNS servers oversees and redirecting legal and valid URLs to compromised web sites and drive by downloads of malware and trojan viruses? DNSSEC is not perfect; however, it was a big step in the right direction in keeping DNS look-up requests reasonably secure. SOPA tears down that wall with a reckless abandon for the well being of citizens. Stewart Baker, former first Assistant Secretary for Policy at DHS and former General Counsel of the NSA has stated that SOPA would result in "great damage to Internet security" by undermining the DNSSEC standard, and that SOPA was "badly in need of a knockout punch." Various other Internet experts have expressed further concerns that the DNS provisions in SOPA would greatly reduce the effectiveness of the DNS system and would greatly effect the integrity of the Internet including the CEO of (anti-virus company) ESET, the head of OpenDNS, and security experts Steve Crocker and Dan Kaminsky.

While the suspension of the DNS redirecting provisions is a good thing, such actions are too little and too late. And in one respect, by (for now) removing the DNS provisions, Congress may have made it that much easier to pass the bill into law. After all, it would be much easier to amend DNS blocking onto SOPA once it's law later than fight to get the foothold passed at all. From the perspective of an Internet user and content creator, I really do not want to see SOPA or PIPA pass (I've already ranted about the additional reasons why so I'll save you this time from having to read it again). While I really want to be excited about this DNS provision removal, it's just not anywhere near the same thing as stopping the entire bill. I can't shake the feeling that removing DNS blocking is only going to make it that much easier for Congress to pass SOPA, and for the Internet to become much less free. We hear about the death of PC gaming or any number of other proclamations made by content creators expressing themselves and exercising their rights to free speech every year, but PC gaming and most things are still around. Please, call and write you congressmen and implore them to vote against SOPA and PIPA so that the last proclamation I read about is not about the death of the Internet!

AMD Lightning Bolt Strikes At Intel's Thunderbolt

Subject: General Tech | January 13, 2012 - 09:40 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, miniDP, lightning bolt, cable

We saw AMD at CES, and they showed off some hardware; however, it seems they forgot to mention something. Anand managed to get a sneak peek at a certain Thunderbolt competitor that AMD is calling "Lightning Bolt." At first resembling a cable with mini-Display Port connectors, the AMD technology is able pass Display Port video, power, and USB 3.0 over a single cable.

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Image the Lightning Bolt cable looking like this miniDP to miniDP cable.

The company is currently working to integrate the Lightning Bolt technology into laptops and ultrathins as a cheap, single cable dock connection. The current implementation involves using a muxer to combine the USB, Display Port output, and power from the PSU electrical signals and pass it over a single miniDP cable. This miniDP cable will resemble current cables but will be electrically different by having two pins on the connectors altered. The dock that the Lightning Bolt cable connects to then splits out or demuxes the signals into a MiniDP connection and a USB 3.0 port(s). AMD is planning for the Lightning Bolt docks to cost about as much as current USB 3.0 hubs, which run about $40 USD at the time of writing. Unfortunately, there are some caveats to the technology including (possibly) limited power delivery and limits on the USB 3.0 connection. The company stated that Lightning Bolt transfers between the computer and USB 3.0 devices would be faster than USB 2.0 speeds, the connection would not support the full 5 Gbits maximum speed.

More information can be found here. Personally, I'm happy that AMD is stepping in despite the tacky name. At the very least, I can see Lightning Bolt connectors being features on AMD notebooks and providing useful competition to bring down the cost of Intel's Thunderbolt cables and hardware. It may also cause Intel to reduce any licensing fees that may be involved with OEMs building Thunderbolt into computers. Although the AMD technology is all electrical (no fancy optics), and thus inherently slower than Intel's theoretical maximum speeds, the cheaper hardware means OEMs will be more likely to integrate it into computers and consumers will be more likely to buy into it. Assuming, of course, that they can pull it off, "Lightning Bolt" sounds like a connection technology that is "fast enough" at a price I wouldn't mind paying a bit extra for in a laptop.

Apart from the name, which is a bit... let's say unoriginal, what do you think of the AMD tech?

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Anandtech