ARMing the Cloud; Qualcomm's Centriq 2400 Platform will power Microsoft Azure instances

Subject: General Tech, Systems | March 8, 2017 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, OCP, microsoft, falkor, centriq 2400, azure, arm, 10nm

Last December Qualcomm announced plans to launch their Centriq 2400 series of platforms for data centres, demonstrating Apache Spark and Hadoop on Linux as well as a Java demo.  They announced a 48 Core design based on ARM v8 and fabbed with on Samsung's 10nm process, which will compete against Intel's current offerings for the server room.

MSFT Proj Olympus with Qualcomm Centriq 2400 Motherboard.jpg

Today marks the official release of the Qualcomm Falkor CPU and Centriq 2400 series of products, as well as the existence of a partnership with Microsoft which may see these products offered to Azure customers.  Microsoft has successfully configured a version of Windows Server to run on these new chips, which is rather big news for customers looking for low powered hosting solutions running a familiar OS.  The Centriq 2400 family is compliant with Microsoft's Project Olympus architecture, used by the Open Compute Project Foundation to offer standardized building blocks upon which you can design a data centre from scratch or use as an expansion plan.

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Enough of the background, we are here for the specifications of the new platform and what can be loaded onto a Centriq 2400.  The reference motherboard supports SOCs of up to 48 cores, with both single and dual socket designs announced.  Each SOC can support up to six channels of DDR4 in either single or dual channel configurations with a maximum of 768GB installed.  Falkor will offer 32 lanes of PCIe 3.0, eight SATA ports and a GbE ethernet port as well as USB and a standard 50Gb/s NIC.  NVMe is supported, one design offers 20 NVMe drives with a PCIe 16x slot but you can design the platform to match your requirements.  Unfortunately they did not discuss performance during their call, nor any suggested usage scenarios.  We expect to hear more about that during the 2017 Open Compute Platform US Summit, which starts today.

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The submission of the design to Open Compute Project ensures a focus on compatibility and modularity and allows a wide variety of designs to be requested and networked together.  If you have a need for HPC performance you can request a board with an HPC GPU such as a FirePro or Tesla, or even drop in your own optimized FPGA.  Instead of opting for an impressive but expensive NVME storage solution, you can modify the design to accommodate 16 SATA HDDs for affordable storage.

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Qualcomm have already announced Windows 10 support on their Snapdragon, but the fact that Microsoft are internally running Windows Server on an ARM v8 based processor is much more impressive.  Intel and AMD have long held reign in the server room and have rightfully shrugged of the many times in which companies have announced ARM based servers which will offer more power efficient alternatives.  Intel have made huge advances at creating low power chips for the server room; AMD's recently announced Naples shows their intentions to hold their market share as well.

If the submission to the OPC succeeds then we may see the first mainstream ARM based servers appear on the market.  Even if the Windows Server instances remain internal to Microsoft, the Centriq series will support Red Hat, CentOS, Canonical and Ubuntu as well as both GCC and LLVM compilers. 

Qualcomm Centriq 2400 Open Compute Moterboard_topview.jpg

(click to seriously embiggen)

ARM may finally have reached the server market after all these years and it will be interesting to see how they fare.  AMD and Intel have both had to vastly reduce the power consumption of their chips and embrace a diametrically opposite design philosophy; instead of a small number of powerful chips, servers of the future will consist of arrays of less powerful chips working in tandem.  ARM has had to do the opposite, they are the uncontested rulers of low powered chips but have had to change their designs to increase the processing capabilities of their chips in order to produce an effective product for the server room.  

Could Qualcomm successful enter the server room; or will their ARMs not have the necessary reach?

Source: Qualcomm

Tested Tries LG SteamVR Headset Prototype at GDC 2017

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: VR, steamvr, LG

While SteamVR is practically synonymous with the HTC Vive, Valve intends it to be an open platform with multiple OEMs. At this year’s Game Developers Conference, GDC 2017, LG was showing off one of their prototypes, which the folks at Adam Savage’s Tested got some time with. The company repetitively said that this is just a prototype that can change in multiple ways.

There are some differences between this and the HTC Vive, though. One change that LG is proud of is the second app button. Apparently, the company found that developers liked to assign buttons in pairs, such as a “forward” button to go along with a “back”. As such, they added a second app button, and placed all three above the touchpad for less accidental presses. The weight distribution is, apparently, also adjusted slightly, too. The difference that Tested seems most interested in is the pull forward and flip up hinge holding the mask, allowing the headset to be moved out of the way without fully taking it off the head, and for it to be easily moved back into place around glasses. (Thankfully, I’m far-sighted, so I can just take off my glasses when I use my Daydream headset, which I assume holds true for other VR devices.)

It’s unclear when it will come to market. Tested speculated that it could happen sometime later this year, which would put it just before when we expect the HTC Vive 2, but... speculation.

G.Skill Launches New DDR4 Memory For Ryzen CPUs Up to 3466 MHz

Subject: Memory | March 8, 2017 - 12:46 AM |
Tagged: ryzen, overclocking, gskill, ddr4, AM4

G.Skill recently announced two new series of DDR4 memory geared towards AMD’s new AM4 platform and Ryzen CPUs. The FORTIS series comes in kits up to 64 GB at 2400 MHz while the Flare X series features kits up to 32 GB at 3466 MHz.

GSkill Fortis and Flare X DDR4 for Ryzen.png

The FORTIS series come in black with graphics on the sides. At launch, there will be kits in 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB capacities clocked at 2,133 and 2,400 MHz. These kits run at 1.2V.

Flare X reportedly uses “carefully selected” IC chips that have been tested and validated for the AM4 platform and Ryzen processors. These kits run at 1.35V out of the box and come in 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB at 3200 MHz with 14-14-14-34 timings or in a 16 GB (2x8GB) kit clocked at 3466 MHz with 16-16-16-36 timings.

It is worth noting that Ryzen officially supports memory up to 3200 MHz without needing to overclock the bus speed using one of eight memory straps/dividers (this is apparently a limitation of the UEFI and not Ryzen's memory controllers). In order to take advantage of DDR4 with higher clocks, you will need to overclock the base clock (which is made easier/possible on motherboards with external clock generators). G.Skill showed two examples using a Ryzen 7 1700 and an Asus Crosshair VI Hero motherboard where they got a 4x16GB kit clocked at 3467MHz (16-16-16-36 CR1) by setting a 25.4 x multiplier and 118.16 MHz bus speed. The other example was DDR4 at 3200 MHz with a multiplier of 28.4 and 119.99 MHz bus speed. It is interesting that they were able to push the bus speed that high while maintaining stability. G.Skill posted two CPU-Z validation screen shots on its news announcement.

G.Skill did not announce pricing, but it did state the new memory kits would be available later this month. Looking around on Newegg, it seems some of the lower speed kits with 4GB DIMMs are available right now but the new kits with higher clocks and 8GB and 16GB DIMMs are not available yet. The less exciting Fortis series does appear to be available though with a 2x8GB 16GB DDR4-2400 priced at $124.99. Even the Fortis series isn’t fully launched yet though since the 2x16GB and 4x16GB kits aren’t listed.

Source: G.Skill

Type A positive; CRYORIG's free conversion kits for AM4

Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 7, 2017 - 01:50 PM |
Tagged: ryzen, CRYORIG, amd, AM4

If you own a CRYORIG cooler, apart from the M9i, you can head to this page to request a free upgrade kit to support AM4 motherboards.  Depending on the cooler you purchased you will need to choose from one of four different kits and CRYORIG will send it off to you for free, no shipping or other fees required.

modles.PNG

You will need to produce either a product registration number or proof of purchase of your CRYORIG product as well as proof of purchase of an AMD Ryzen or AM4 motherboard.  The upgrade kits will ship out later this month and sometime in the latter half of the year CRYORIG will release four new coolers which natively support AM4, as well as previous AM3(+) boards.

ryzensupport.jpg

07.03.17 Taipei, Taiwan – With the much-anticipated release of the AMD Ryzen, CRYORIG prepares to launch a full line of AMD Ryzen dedicated coolers as well as simple upgrade kits for existing AMD compatible CRYORIG cooling products. Beginning from Type A to Type D, there will be a total of 4 different AM4 upgrade kits depending on the corresponding CRYORIG product. Natively supporting Ryzen dedicated version models will begin to release later in Q2 2017 and will consist of the full CRYORIG cooling portfolio.

CRYORIG’s four AM4 upgrade kits will be released beginning in late March and will be completely free of charge (including shipping) for existing users to apply for. Users will only need to provide a proof of purchase of the CRYORIG product (or product registration number), and a proof of purchase of an AMD Ryzen or AM4 CPU or Motherboard. Just fill out and supply all necessary info at www.cryorig.com/getam4.php, the kit will be sent directly to the provided address. Distributors and select channels will also have these kits available.

Beginning in Q2 2017, CRYORIG will start shipping dedicated Ryzen ready versions of CRYORIG’s full product line. Exact release dates will vary from model to model. The Ryzen Supported sticker will be found on all dedicated Ryzen ready coolers for easy identification, and indicates that no additional kits are required for Ryzen support.

 

Source: CRYORIG

Glad it is not Podcast night! Microsoft is not having a good day

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2017 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, outlook, office 365, skype, hotmail

Many users of Hotmail, Outlook and Skype are finding themselves unable to log in to their accounts and some are complaining about access to their XBox accounts.  The problem is being described as an authentication issue, something that users of Exchange Online are all too familiar with.  Microsoft is currently working on a solution and the incident count on Down Detector seems do have dropped in the past few hours but there are still some problems.  The professional side also seems to be suffering as well, with several performance issues effecting a variety of services.  If you are one of those currently suffering, you can follow the link from The Register to report it on Down Detector, if you wish.

portal.PNG

"Naturally, users of Microsoft's cloud services have taken to Twitter and Reddit to moan about the downtime, with some complaining that Xbox online services have also been hit by the downtime."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

AMD Prepares Zen-Based "Naples" Server SoC For Q2 Launch

Subject: Processors | March 7, 2017 - 09:02 AM |
Tagged: SoC, server, ryzen, opteron, Naples, HPC, amd

Over the summer, AMD introduced its Naples platform which is the server-focused implementation of the Zen microarchitecture in a SoC (System On a Chip) package. The company showed off a prototype dual socket Naples system and bits of information leaked onto the Internet, but for the most part news has been quiet on this front (whereas there were quite a few leaks of Ryzen which is AMD's desktop implementation of Zen).

The wait seems to be finally over, and AMD appears ready to talk more about Naples which will reportedly launch in the second quarter of this year (Q2'17) with full availability of processors and motherboards from OEMs and channel partners (e.g. system integrators) happening in the second half of 2017. Per AMD, "Naples" processors are SoCs with 32 cores and 64 threads that support 8 memory channels and a (theoretical) maximum of 2TB DDR4-2667. (Using the 16GB DIMMs available today, Naples support 256GB of DDR4 per socket.) Further, the Naples SoC features 64 PCI-E 3.0 lanes. Rumors also indicated that the SoC included support for sixteen 10GbE interfaces, but AMD has yet to confirm this or the number of SATA/SAS ports offered. AMD did say that Naples has an optimized cache structure for HPC compute and "dedicated security hardware" though it did not go into specifics. (The security hardware may be similar to the ARM TrustZone technology it has used in the past.) 

AMD Naples.jpg

Naples will be offered in single and dual socket designs with dual socket systems offering up 64 cores, 128 threads, 32 DDR4 DIMMs (512 GB using 16 GB modules) on 16 total memory channels with 21.3 GB/s per channel bandwidth (170.7 GB/s per SoC), 128 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, and an AMD Infinity Fabric interconnect between the two processor sockets.

AMD claims that its Naples platform offers up to 45% more cores, 122% more memory bandwidth, and 60% more I/O than its competition. For its internal comparison, AMD chose the Intel Xeon E5-2699A V4 which is the processor with highest core count that is intended for dual socket systems (there are E7s with more cores but those are in 4P systems). The Intel Xeon E5-2699A V4 system is a 14nm 22 core (44 thread) processor clocked at 2.4 GHz base to 3.6 GHz turbo with 55MB cache. It supports four channels of DDR4-2400 for a maximum bandwidth of 76.8 GB/s (19.2 GB/s per channel) as well as 40 PCI-E 3.0 lanes. A dual socket system with two of those Xeons features 44 cores, 88 threads, and a theoretical maximum of 1.54 TB of ECC RAM.

AMD's reference platform with two 32 core Naples SoCs and 512 GB DDR4 2400 MHz was purportedly 2.5x faster at the seismic analysis workload than the dual Xeon E5-2699A V4 OEM system with 1866 MHz DDR4. Curiously, when AMD compared a Naples reference platform with 44 cores enabled and running 1866 MHz memory to a similarly configured Intel system the Naples platform was twice as fast. It seems that the increased number of memory channels and memory bandwidth are really helping the Naples platform pull ahead in this workload.

AMD Naples and Radeon Instinct.png

The company also intends Naples to power machine learning and AI projects with servers that feature Naples processors and Radeon Instinct graphics processors.

AMD further claims that its Naples platform is more balanced and suited to cloud computing and scientific and HPC workloads than the competition. Specifically, Forrest Norrod the Senior Vice president and General Manager of AMD's Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom Business Unit stated:

“’Naples’ represents a completely new approach to supporting the massive processing requirements of the modern datacenter. This groundbreaking system-on-chip delivers the unique high-performance features required to address highly virtualized environments, massive data sets and new, emerging workloads.”

There is no word on pricing yet, but it should be competitive with Intel's offerings (the E5-2699A V4 is $4,938). AMD will reportedly be talking data center strategy and its upcoming products during the Open Compute Summit later this week, so hopefully there will be more information released at those presentations.

(My opinions follow)

This is one area where AMD needs to come out strong with support from motherboard manufacturers, system integrators, OEM partners, and OS and software validation to succeed. Intel is not likely to take AMD encroaching on its lucrative server market share lightly, and AMD is going to have a long road ahead of it to regain the market share it once had in this area, but it does have a decent architecture on its hands to build off of with Zen and if it can secure partner support Intel is certainly going to have competition here that it has not had to face in a long time. Intel and AMD competing over the data center market is a good thing, and as both companies bring new technology to market it will trickle down into the consumer level hardware. Naples' success in the data center could mean a profitable AMD with R&D money to push Zen as far as it can – so hopefully they can pull it off.

What are your thoughts on the Naples SoC and AMD's push into the server market?

Also read:

Source: AMD

Microsoft HoloLens Takes Michael Abrash Too Literally?

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2017 - 07:37 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, hololens

When Michael Abrash moved from Intel to Valve, according to his post on the latter company’s blog, he suggested that he should help optimize Portal 2. The response from Jay Stelly was interesting: “Yeah, you could do that, but we’ll get it shipped anyway.” That’s... not something you’d expect from a company that is getting ready to ship a huge, AAA title.

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He took that feedback as a license to think outside the box, which led to their “wearable computing” initiative that eventually formed the basis of Steam VR. One key part of this blog post was the minor parenthetical, “think Terminator vision”.

Apparently, Microsoft’s HoloLens team has. As a cute little Unity demo, they are overlaying text and post-processing shaders atop the camera feed. It’s not just baked 2D text, though; they are also pushing the feed through object- and text-recognition, suggesting that users take the source (available on GitHub) and extend it through translation or text-to-speech.

The demo is primarily written in C#, which makes sense, because Unity.

Source: Microsoft

Creative Assembly Picks Up Crytek Black Sea

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2017 - 07:07 AM |
Tagged: sega, crytek

A few months ago, just before Christmas in fact, we reported that Crytek was in the process of shutting down five out of their seven studios. Now, Sega has just announced that they are picking up one of them: Crytek Black Sea (Sofia, Bulgaria). This studio will be added to Creative Assembly, which makes the Total War series and also dipped its toe into the first person market with Alien: Isolation. As a part of this agreement, the ex-Crytek developer will now be called Creative Assembly Sofia.

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Black Sea Studios was with Crytek since July, 2008.

As far as I can tell, the other four studios that were affected by December’s decision have not been as fortunate. Apart from ex-Rockstar designer, Leslie Benzie, picking up former employees of the Budapest, Hungary studio, I haven’t seen much talk about any other studio (or significant portions of them) moving elsewhere.

Logitech Introduces G Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2017 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: romer-g, mechanical keyboard, logitech g, logitech, keyboard, key switches, gaming

Logitech G has announced the new Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, which features a compact tenkeyless (TKL) design, short-throw mechanical switches, and RGB lighting effects.

Logitech G Pro Gaming Keyboard 1.jpg

In addition to the TKL form-factor the Logitech G Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard features the company's exclusive Romer-G switches, which Logitech says "register key presses up to 25 percent faster than standard mechanical switches" and have "a short-throw actuation point 1.5 mm".

The keyboard also features keyboard durable construction with a steel back plate, and the cable is actually is a detachable micro-USB design, though not your typical micro-USB connector as this implementation features a wide three-pronged connection with support arms. Naturally, there are (optional) RGB effects for those who want them, which can be controlled via Logitech Gaming Software.

Logitech G Pro Gaming Keyboard 0.jpg

These RGB effects are per-key, which means seemingly endless levels of customizaiton considering each one can be set to one of "more than 16.8 million colors" and preferences saved to the onboard memory.

As to pricing and availability, the Logitech G Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard should be available later this month with an MSRP $129.99.

Source: Logitech

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson ReLive 17.3.1

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 6, 2017 - 09:08 PM |
Tagged: amd, graphics drivers

Just prior to the release of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, AMD has released another graphics driver with specific optimizations. Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition 17.3.1 is support to provide up to a 6% performance improvement (on an RX 480) in that title. It also adds a CrossFire profile under DirectX 11. Note that there’s a known issue with 3- and 4-GPU systems, which will apparently make the game crash back to desktop on launch.

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Beyond this, the new graphics driver also fixes several issues, many of which involve flickering textures, objects, or mouse pointers. It also solves an issue where installing the driver could cause a failed reboot.

If you have an AMD GPU, then you can pick up the driver from their website.

Source: AMD

Listen to the colours! Tt eSPORTS Cronos 7.1 headset with RGB

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2017 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: Tt eSPORTS Cronos RGB 7.1, thermaltake, gaming headset, audio

Yes, it has happened; RGB-itis have spread to gaming headphones and if you are one of the infeected you can grab Thermaltake's Cronos RGB 7.1 Headset to show off your symptoms.  The LEDs on the ear cups support 256 different colours and as a bonus also provide Virtual 7.1 surround sound.  The headset is powered by 40mm neodymium magnets, with a reasonable 20Hz-22kHz frequency range.  Pop by Bjorn3D for a look, they were impressed with the audio quality of this ~$70 headset to say nothing of the glow they felt when wearing them. 

It is a pity that Tt did not take the opportunity to brand this as their new Synethsesia line.

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"Today we’ll be looking at a recent addition to the roster of gaming headsets produced by Tt eSPORTS, the Cronos RGB 7.1 Headset. If you’re familiar with Tt eSPORTS’ line of headsets then you may already be familiar with the previous iterations of the Cronos that comes without RGB lighting."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: Bjorn3D

Why the world of WiFi is as murky as the HiFi market

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2017 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: wifi, networking

Our own Sebastian Peak has delved into the nightmare world of testing WiFi, specifically MU-MIMO and explained some of the difficulties you encounter when testing wireless networks.  It is now Ars Technica's turn to try to explain why your 2.4GHz router never delivers the advertised 1,000 Mbps as well as how to test your actual performance.  As with many products, the marketing team has little interest in what the engineers are saying, they simply want phrases they can stick on their packaging and PR materials.  While the engineers are still pointing out that even the best case scenarios involving a single user less than 10 feet away, with clear line of sight will not reach the theoretical performance peak, the PR with that high number has already been emailed and packages are printing. 

Drop by Ars Technica for a look at how the current state of WiFi has evolved into this mess, as well as a dive into how the new technologies work and what performance you can actually expect from them.

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"802.11n was introduced to the consumer public around 2010, promising six hundred Mbps. Wow! Okay, so it's not as fast as the gigabit wired Ethernet that just started getting affordable around the same time, but six times faster than wired Fast Ethernet, right? Once again, a reasonable real-life expectation was around a tenth of that. Maybe. On a good day. To a single device."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: Ars Technica

Even More PC Controller Choice It Seems... Nintendo Switch

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: switch, Nintendo, gamepad

While mouse and keyboard is awesome for many games, a few benefit from the layout of a gamepad (or the way it’s used). There was a drought in these for a few years, particularly around the ~2007 time-frame, but this console generation provides us PC gamers with quite a few competent options. When they launched, both the PS4 and the Xbox One allowed their controllers to be used on the PC, and both eventually provided wireless adapters to make it function. Microsoft did it for Windows 10, and Sony did it for PlayStation Now. Even Valve got their Steam Controller out there, which is definitely an alternate alternative, like it or hate it. Personally, I’ve never tried.

While Nintendo hasn’t really ever supported the PC market, apart from, like, Mario is Missing, their Bluetooth-based controllers also never really tried to block PCs from using them. Apparently, the Nintendo Switch is no exception, and its Pro Controller seemingly just connects with the old gamepad API.

This isn’t supported, so it’s probably best to not go out and buy it for the PC, but feel free to try it if you already have a Switch and Pro Controller (and a Bluetooth adapter for your PC).

Raspberry Pi Zero W Adds Built In Wireless Radios

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2017 - 04:24 PM |
Tagged: raspberry pi zero, single board computer, sbc, broadcom

The Raspberry Pi Foundation recently introduced a $10 Pi Zero W which resembles the $5 single board Pi Zero computer it launched in 2015 but adds built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios.

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At the heart of the Raspberry Pi Zero W is a 1GHz single core Broadcom BCM2835 application processor and 512MB of RAM. Storage is handled by s micro SD card slot. The tiny board includes the following I/O options:

  • 1 x Mini HDMI
  • 1 x Micro USB OTG
  • 1 x Micro USB for power
  • 1 x 40-pin HAT compatible header
  • 1 x CSI camera connector
  • 1 x Composite video header
  • 1 x reset header

The Pi Zero W uses the same Cypress CYW43438 chip as the Pi 3 Model B and offers 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, they found that many users were using USB wireless dongles along with a HID (keyboard/mouse) and they needed to carry around a hub or integrate it into their project. Adding built in wireless frees up the single Micro USB port for ither devices and hopefully allows smaller devices that use a Pi Zero as its brains.

Per RasPi.TV’s testing, the new Pi Zero W uses approximately 20mA more power than the Pi Zero which the site attributes to the wireless radios. While it more power than the previous model it is still half that of the Raspberry Pi 3 B. Specifically, the Pi Zero W pulls 120mA at idle and up to 170mA when playing back a 1080p video. Recording 1080p video from a camera uses ~230 mA. The SBC is rated at 0.6W to 1.2W (120 to 230 mA at 5.19V).

A modular official case is being released alongside the new board. US residents will be able to pick up the $10 single board computer at Adafruit, CanaKit, and Micro Center.

The Pi Zero has been used in a large variety of projects including robotics, arcade games, home automation and motion sensing cameras IoT, information displays, and electric skateboards. Integrating the wireless radio should make similar projects just a bit easier to out together.

NETGEAR Issues Non-Urgent Recall of Some Enterprise Devices

Subject: Networking, Storage | March 4, 2017 - 11:57 PM |
Tagged: netgear, Intel, Avoton, recall

While this is more useful for our readers in the IT field, NETGEAR has issued a (non-urgent) recall on sixteen models of Rackmount NAS and Wireless Controller devices. It looks like the reason for this announcement is to maintain customer relations. They are planning to reach out to customers “over the next several months” to figure out a solution for them. Note the relaxed schedule.

netgear-2017-RN3130.png

The affected model numbers are:

  1. RN3130
  2. RN3138
  3. WC7500 Series:
    • WC7500-10000S, WC7500-100INS, WC7500-100PRS, WB7520-10000S, WB7520-100NAS, WB7530-10000S, WB7530-100NAS
  4. WC7600 Series:
    • WC7600-20000S, WC7600-200INS, WC7600-200PRS, WB7620-10000S, WB7620-100NAS, WB7630-10000S, WB7630-100NAS

The Register noticed that each of these devices contain Intel’s Avoton-based Atom processors. You may remember our coverage from last month, which also sourced The Register, that states these chips may fail to boot over time. NETGEAR is not blaming Intel for their recall, but gave The Register a wink and a nudge when pressed: “We’re not naming the vendor but it sounds as if you’ve done your research.”

Again, while this news applies to enterprise customers and it’s entirely possible that Intel (if it actually is the Avoton long-term failure issue) is privately supporting them, it’s good to see NETGEAR being honest and upfront. Problems will arise in the tech industry; often (albeit not always) what matters more is how they are repaired.

Source: NETGEAR

BIOSTAR Shows Mini-ITX AM4 Motherboard for AMD Ryzen

Subject: Motherboards | March 4, 2017 - 11:32 AM |
Tagged: X370GTN, x370, small form factor, SFF, ryzen, racing, motherboard, mITX, mini-itx, B350GTN, b350, amd, AM4

The first images of a mini-ITX AM4 motherboard are here, courtesy of BIOSTAR (via ComputerBase). Part of their second-generation RACING-series of gaming motherboards, BIOSTAR is now the first company to show an AMD Ryzen-capable mini-ITX option with their X370GTN.

x370gtn_motherboard_1.jpg

Image credit: ComputerBase

There had been mention of an upcoming mITX board for AMD Ryzen CPUs from BIOSTAR, with a (rather low-key) mention of such a product in a recent company press release (“the exciting new RACING X370GTN in the mini-ITX form factor will also be available”), and these images from the company's RACING event are now circulating along with the specs of two different mITX offerings.

x370gtn_motherboard_2.jpg

Image credit: ComputerBase

There will in fact be two mini-ITX motherboards, with both X370 (shown) and the lower-end B350 chipsets (with the RACING B350GTN). ComputerBase provided slides with specifications (via Zolkorn, Thai language) who covered the BIOSTAR event:

x370gtn.jpg

Image credit: Zolkorn via ComputerBase

b350gtn.jpg

Image credit: Zolkorn via ComputerBase

BIOSTAR has not announced availability or pricing of their mini-ITX Ryzen boards yet, but given the pent-up demand for mini-ITX solutions for enthusiast AMD processors (with AM3 conspicuously absent from mITX), this is great news for small form-factor enthusiasts.

Source: ComputerBase

GamersNexus Tears Down a Nintendo Switch

Subject: Systems, Mobile | March 4, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: Tegra X1, teardown, switch, nvidia, Nintendo

Here at PC Perspective, videos of Ryan and Ken dismantling consoles on their launch date were some of our most popular... ever. While we didn’t do one for the Nintendo Switch, GamersNexus did, and I’m guessing that a segment of our audience would be interested in seeing what the device looks like when dismantled.

Credit: GamersNexus

As he encounters many chips, he mentions what, if anything, is special about them based on their part numbers. For instance, the NVIDIA SoC is listed as A2, which is apparently different from previous Maxwell-based Tegra X1 SoCs, but it’s unclear how. From my perspective, I can think of three possibilities: NVIDIA made some customizations (albeit still on the Maxwell architecture) for Nintendo, NVIDIA had two revisions for their own purposes and Nintendo bought the A2, or the A2 shipped with NVIDIA's Maxwell-based Shield and my Google-fu is terrible.

Regardless, if you’re interested, it should be an interesting twenty-or-so minutes.

Source: GamersNexus

PSA: AMD XFR Enabled On All Ryzen CPUs, X SKUs Have Wider Range

Subject: Processors | March 4, 2017 - 06:00 AM |
Tagged: xfr, turbo, sensemi, ryzen, overclocking, amd

Following the leaks and official news and reviews of AMD's Ryzen processors there were a few readers asking for clarity on the eXtended Frequency Range (XFR) technology and whether or not it is enabled on all Ryzen CPUs or only the X models. After quite a bit of digging through forums and contradictory articles, I believe I have the facts in hand to answer those questions. In short, XFR is supported on all Ryzen processors (at least all the Ryzen 7 CPUs released so far) including the non-X Ryzen 7 1700; however the X SKUs get a bigger boost from XFR than the non-X model(s).

Specifically, the Ryzen 7 1700X and Ryzen 7 1800X when paired with a high end air or water cooler is able to boost up to an additional 100 MHz over the 4 GHz advertised boost clock while the Ryzen 7 1700 is limited to an XFR boost of up to 50 MHz so long as there is thermal headroom. Interestingly, the Extended Frequency Range boosts are done in 25 MHz increments (and likely achieved by adjusting the multiplier by 0.25x).

AMD XFR.jpg

How does this all work though? Well, with Ryzen AMD introduced a new suite of technologies it calls "SenseMI" which, despite the questionable name (heh), puts a lot of intelligence into the processor and builds on the paths AMD started down with Carrizo and Excavator designs. The five main technologies are Pure Power, Precision Boost, Extended Frequency Range (XFR), Neural Net Prediction, and Smart Prefetch. The first three are important when talking about XFR.

With Ryzen AMD has embedded a number of sensors throughout the chip that accurately measure temperatures, clock speeds, and voltages within 1°C, 1mA, 1mW, 1mV and it has connected all the sensors together using its Infinity Fabric. Pure Power lets AMD make localized adaptive adjustments to optimize power usage without negatively affecting performance. Precision Boost is AMD's equivalent to Intel's Turbo Boost and it is built on top of Pure Power's sensor network. Precision Boost enables a Ryzen CPU to dynamically clock up beyond the base clock speed across all cores or clock even further across two cores. Lightly threaded workloads will benefit from the latter while workloads using any more than two threads will get the all core boost, so there is not a lot of granularity in number of cores vs allowed boost but there does not really need to be and the Precision Boost is more granular than Intel's Turbo Boost in clock speed bumps of 25MHz increments versus 100 MHz increments up to the maximum allowed Precision Boost clock. As an example, the Ryzen 7 1800X has a base clock of 3.6 GHz and so long as there is thermal headroom it can adjust the clock speed up by 25 MHz steps to 3.7 GHz across all eight cores or up to as much as 4.0 GHz on two cores.

From there XFR allows the processor to clock beyond the 2 core Precision Boost (XFR only works to increase the boost of the two core turbo not the all core turbo) and as temperatures decrease the allowed XFR increases. While initial reports and slides from AMD suggested XFR would scale with the cooler (air, water, LN2, LHe) with no upper limit aside from temperature and other sensor input, it appears AMD has taken a step back and limited X series Ryzen 7 chips to a maximum XFR boost of 100 MHz over the two core Precision Boost and non-X series Ryzen 7 processors to a maximum XFR boost of 50 MHz over the maximum boosted two core clock speed. The Ryzen 7 1700 will have two extra steps above its two core boost so while the chip has a base clock of 3.0 GHz, Precision Boost can take all eight cores to 3.1GHz or two cores to 3.7 GHz. Further, so long as temperatures are still in check XFR can take those two boosted cores to 3.75 GHz.

AMD Ryzen 1800X XFR Boost.jpg

XFR will be a setting that you are able to toggle on and off via a motherboard setting, and some motherboards may have the feature turned on by default. Unfortunately, if you choose to manually overclock you will lose XFR functionality (and boost). Further, Precision Boost and XFR are connected and you are not able to turn off one but not the other (you either get both or nothing). Note that if you overclock using AMD's "Ryzen Master" software utility, it will also disable Precision Boost and XFR, but the lower power C-states will stay enabled which may be desirable if you want the power bill and room to cool down when not gaming or creating content.

I would expect as yields and the binning processes improve for Ryzen AMD may lift or extend the XFR limits either with a product refresh (not sure if a micro-code update would be possible) or maybe only in the upcoming hexa-core and quad core Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 processors that have less cores and more headroom for overclocking. That is merely speculation however. Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 should support XFR on both X and non-X models, but it is too early to know or say what the XFR boost will be.

XFR is neat though not as big of a deal as I originally thought it to be without limits, and as many expected manual overclocking is still going to be the way to go. This is not all bad news though, because it means that the much cheaper Ryzen 7 1700 just got a lot more attractive. You give up a 50 MHz XFR boost that you can't use anyway because you are going to manually overclock and you gamble a bit on getting a decently binned chip that can hit R7 1800X clock speeds, but you save $170 that you can put towards a better motherboard or a better graphics card (or a second one for CrossFire - even on B350).

I am still waiting on our overclocking results as well as Kyle's overclocking results when it comes to the Ryzen 7 1700, but several other sites are reporting success at hitting at least 4.0 GHz (though not many results over 4.0 or 4.1 GHz which isn't unexpected since these are not the highest binned chips and yields are still young so bins are more real/based on silicon and not just for product segmentation but most can hit the higher speeds at x power, v voltage, and n temperature et al). For example, Legit Reviews reports that they were able to hit manually overclock a R7 1700 to 4.0 GHz on all cores at 1.3875 volts. They were able to keep the non-X Ryzen chip stable with those settings on both aftermarket air and AIO water coolers.

prec_boost.png

AMD's Ryzen Master overclocking software lets you OC and setup CPU and memory profiles from your OS.

More on overclocking: Tom's Hardware has posted that, according to AMD, the safe voltage ceiling for overclocking is 1.35V if you want the CPU to last, but that up to 1.45V CPU voltage is "sustainable". Further, note that is is recommended not to set the SOC Voltage higher than 1.2 volts. Also, much like Intel's platform, it is possible to adjust the base clock (BCLCK) but you may run into stability problems with the rest of the system if you push this too far outside expected specifications (PC Gamer claims you can set this up to 140 MHz though so AM4/Ryzen may be more forgiving in this area than Intel. Edit: The highest figure I've seen so far is 106.4 MHz being stable before the rest of the system gets too far out of spec and becomes unstable. The main benefit to adjusting this is to support overclocked RAM above 3200 MHz so unless you need that your overclocking efforts are probably better spent adjusting the multiplier. /edit). Finally, when manually overclocking you will be able to turn off SMT and/or turn off cores in 2s (e.g. disable 2 cores or disable 4 cores, you can't disable in single numbers but groups of two).

Hopefully this helps to clear up the XFR confusion. If you do not need guaranteed clocks with a bonus XFR boost for a stable workstation build, saving money and going with the Ryzen 7 1700 and manually overclocking it to at least attempt to reach R7 1700X or 1800X speeds seems like the way to go for enthusiasts that are considering making the jump to AM4 especially if you enjoy tinkering with things like overclocking. There's nothing wrong with going with the higher priced and binned chips if you want to go that route, but don't do it for XFR in my opinion.

What are your thoughts? Are you planning to overclock your Ryzen CPU or do you think the Precision Boost and XFR is enough?

Source: Ars Technica

HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical keyboard, fit for the ham handed

Subject: General Tech | March 3, 2017 - 03:12 PM |
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, input, HyperX ALLOY FPS, Cherry MX

The HyperX Alloy FPS is a R LED, no Gs or Bs, but you can cycle through a variety of modes using the Function key which replaces the Windows key on the right side of the keyboard.  The shell is aluminium, strong and light for those who tend to abuse their keyboards and the CherryMX switches are firmly attached and so should survive a few rage-quits.  Modders Inc liked the keyboard overall and the price is reasonable, $80 for Blue switches or $100 if you prefer Red or Brown.  Check out the full review for more specifics.

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"Over the last couple of years the gaming division of Kingston; HyperX has been working hard to bust into the peripherals market. Their products started off with mouse pads and headsets. In September 2016, the HyperX Alloy FPS was released. The HyperX Allow FPS features a compact, minimalist design to maximize desk space and portability."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Modders Inc

LEPA's Neopets, colourful coolers to take care of your system

Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 3, 2017 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: lepa, NEOllusion RGB, air cooler, RGB

LEPA have launched a new series of air coolers, the NEOllusion RGB which comes with a remote control so you can create a fancy light show inside your case.  The screenshots at [H]ard|OCP show that the lights the heatsink produces are quite bright and will certainly be visible even from a distance.  For those of you who are more interested in cooling performance than pretty lights, the NEOllusion stands 126x40x161.7mm, with a 120mm fan and a recommended max TDP of 200W.  Tests show the cooler favours form over function, keeping temperatures in control but not offering competitive performance; it does prefer visual impact over audio effects as it is one of the quietest coolers [H] have tested.  If you are the type to desire a quiet light show in your case, check out the full review.

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"LEPA comes to us today with a new air cooler that is specifically focused on users that are looking for a little more bling inside their desktop computer build. And while really cool lights may or may not be your thing, we wanted to see just how the NEOllusion performed when it comes to its primary function, CPU cooling."

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CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP