Zalman's ZM-K900M mechanical keyboard can be taught to do more than change colours

Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2016 - 07:53 PM |
Tagged: zalman, ZM-K900M, input, mechanical keyboard, Kailh Blue RGB

Not only does Zalman's ZM-K900M suffer from RGB disease underneath it's Kailh switches, it also has a split personality.  When you look at the closeups of the keys over at The Tech Report you will see odd symbols and messages under the usual lettering, things like ZM2 or Speed Meter.  Those are for programming macros, simply hitting Fn + ZM# starts the recording and it will capture every click, including buttons which emulate mouse buttons and stop once you press Fn + ZM# again.   These will play back exactly as recorded and the somewhat misspelled Speed Meter allows you to increase or decrease the speed which it plays back.  If you find this intriguing, pop by The Tech Report for a closer look.

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"Zalman's ZM-K900M keyboard hides a huge range of hardware-controlled backlight and macro modes underneath an unassuming exterior. We took it for a spin to see whether this RGB LED-backlit mechanical marvel stands out in an increasingly jam-packed keyboard market."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

"HTML5 by Default" Rolling in to Chrome Userbase

Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2016 - 07:47 PM |
Tagged: google, chrome, Adobe, flash

Google is about to begin transitioning their users away from Flash, unless they explicitly enable it on a site-by-site basis. This is a step beyond click-to-activate, which refuses to activate the plug-in until the user permits it, that will not even acknowledge the plug-in’s existence unless the user requests it. The difference is that this tells sites to treat the browser as not having Flash, which, for PC Perspective as an example, should load our HTML5 article carousel instead of presenting a click-to-activate Flash one that has an expanding oval transition animation.

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Because changes like these could have side-effects, Google is dipping their toe before jumping in. About 1% of users on the current Chrome 55 (and ~50% of Chrome 56 pre-release users) will have this change flipped on any day now, which contains the outrage if it breaks something popular or, otherwise, causes user grief. If it all goes well, though, it will be enabled for everyone when Chrome 56 arrives for the general public in February.

Source: Google

Flash news: Demand up, supply down ... outcome obvious

Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2016 - 05:42 PM |
Tagged: 3d nand, price increase, nand

DRAMeXchange is predicting a price hike in NAND chips over the coming year thanks to a supply decline combined with an impressive rise in demand.  The supply decline is a direct result of the industry's switch in preference to 3D NAND, which requires manufacturers to retool their existing lines.  While retooling from the production of 2D to 3D NAND, the line can produce neither and as all available lines were currently at or near full volume production, we are seeing a decline in the amount of available flash chips.  Even once lines are retooled, only Samsung has seen an increase in their production volumes, a situation which will hopefully change in the coming year.  With demand on the rise as more and more users switch to SSDs and the amount of storage on cellphones increasing in each new model we can only expect to see prices rise.  DigiTimes reports a predicted 10% rise in average SSD prices in Q1 of 2017, with prices of eMMC and UFS storage jumping even more.

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"From the supply side, the industry-wide transition to 3D-NAND is now moving at full speed," said Sean Yang, research director of DRAMeXchange. "However, most suppliers with the exception of Samsung have not improve their yield rates for the technology as quickly as they would like."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

/Noclip Publishes Documentary on DOOM

Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2016 - 01:26 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, doom, Doom 4, id software, bethesda, zenimax, noclip

Danny O’Dwier and his company, Noclip, publishes behind-the-scenes documentaries of entities in the video game industry. Their first handful of videos, published piece-by-piece over a few weeks in October and November, were about Rocket League. The series is funded by fan donations on Patreon, which is currently at $20,547 USD per month.

This one is about id Software, and, specifically, the recently-released DOOM and the canceled DOOM 4. They were surprisingly open and honest about internal struggles and design issues regarding “Doom 4 1.0”. It even contains quite a bit of footage from the cut content, which is a step above and beyond just merely acknowledging and discussing these problems. Of course, they mentioned that Bethesda and Zenimax were supportive of the studio as it transitioned in multiple, simultaneous ways.

If you’re interested in DOOM, this will be a well-spent half hour.

Source: /Noclip

AMD has the Instinct; if not the license, to kill

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 12, 2016 - 09:05 PM |
Tagged: vega 10, Vega, training, radeon, Polaris, machine learning, instinct, inference, Fiji, deep neural network, amd

Ryan was not the only one at AMD's Radeon Instinct briefing, covering their shot across NVIDIA's HPC products.  The Tech Report just released their coverage of the event and the tidbits which AMD provided about the MI25, MI8 and MI6; no relation to a certain British governmental department.   They focus a bit more on the technologies incorporated into GEMM and point out that AMD's top is not matched by an NVIDIA product, the GP100 GPU does not come as an add-in card.  Pop by to see what else they had to say.

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"Thus far, Nvidia has enjoyed a dominant position in the burgeoning world of machine learning with its Tesla accelerators and CUDA-powered software platforms. AMD thinks it can fight back with its open-source ROCm HPC platform, the MIOpen software libraries, and Radeon Instinct accelerators. We examine how these new pieces of AMD's machine-learning puzzle fit together."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

NVIDIA GeForce GTX, HTC VIVE Bundle Deal at GeForce.com

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 12, 2016 - 06:31 PM |
Tagged: gaming, nvidia, geforce, htc vive, VR, game bundle

AMD's RX 480 and Fury X are capable of providing decent performance in VR applications and will save you some money for the VR headset, dongles and games.  However NVIDIA upped the ante today, giving away three games to anyone who purchases a GTX 1080, 1070 or 1060 and an HTC Vive. 

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The giveaway encompasses more than North America, as long as you can purchase the bundle from either Microsoft or NewEgg where you happen to live you should be able to get your three free games.  They are redeemable on Steam and should be available immediately, a peek at Sports Bar VR is below.

 

Source: NVIDIA

PCPer Live! AMD Radeon Crimson ReLive Discussion and RX 480 Giveaway!

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 12, 2016 - 05:56 PM |
Tagged: video, relive, radeon software, radeon, live stream, live, giveaway, crimson, amd

UPDATE: If you missed the live stream today, don't worry! You can catch the reply right here:

Last year, AMD and its software team dispatched some representatives to our offices to talk about the major software release that was Radeon Software Crimson Edition. As most of you probably saw last week, AMD launched the Crimson ReLive driver and we are pleased to let you know that we will again be hosting a live stream with our friends at AMD! Come learn about the development of this new driver, how the new features work and insight on what might be coming in the future from AMD's software team.

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And what's a live stream without prizes? AMD has stepped up to the plate to offer up some awesome hardware for those of you that tune in to watch the live stream! 

  • 3 x AMD Radeon RX 480 Graphics Cards

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AMD Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Live Stream and Giveaway

10am PT / 1pm ET - December 13th

PC Perspective Live! Page

Need a reminder? Join our live mailing list!

The event will take place Tuesday, December 13th at 10am PT / 1pm ET at https://www.pcper.com/live. There you’ll be able to catch the live video stream as well as use our chat room to interact with the audience. To win the prizes you will have to be watching the live stream, with exact details of the methodology for handing out the goods coming at the time of the event.

I will be joined by Liam Gallagher, Radeon Software Marketing Manager and Jeff Engel, Radeon Software Lead QA Manager. In short, these are two people you want to hear from and have answer your questions! (Apparently Terry Makedon will be hiding in the background as well...)

If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and we'll look through them just before the start of the live stream. Of course you'll be able to tweet us questions @pcper and we'll be keeping an eye on the IRC chat as well for more inquiries. What do you want to know and hear from AMD?

So join us! Set your calendar for Tuesday at 10am PT / 1pm ET and be here at PC Perspective to catch it. If you are a forgetful type of person, sign up for the PC Perspective Live mailing list that we use exclusively to notify users of upcoming live streaming events including these types of specials and our regular live podcast. I promise, no spam will be had!

Someday you might be able to squeeze a last bit of life out of your cellphone

Subject: General Tech | December 12, 2016 - 05:49 PM |
Tagged: feng, ferroelectric nanogenerator

The research being described in this story over at The Inquirer is somewhat different than the inductive charging that Qi provides nor the thermoelectric power generation of the MATRIX PowerWatch.  Instead they are looking at what happens to the abiltiy of a sandwich of silver, polyomide, and polypropylene ferroelectret to store energy when they are folded on themselves. Their research shows that the magnitudes of the generated voltage and current signals are doubled each time the device is folded, allowing it to power 20 LEDs when pressed.  This is a long way from powering a cellphone but an interesting branch of research which may find itself incorporated into many low voltage appliances.

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"By adding in a nano-generator, or to give it its full title, a biocompatible ferroelectret nanogenerator (but you can call it FENG), those swipes can be turned into tiny amounts of battery charging current instead."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Get HITMAN for free with a Radeon RX 470 graphics card or eligible systems

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 9, 2016 - 11:11 PM |
Tagged: giveaway, hitman 2016, amd, rx 470

If you purchase a Radeon RX 470 or a system with said GPU and an FX 8370, 8350 or 6350 you can get a copy of the latest Hitman game for free.  If you purchased a card recently you should still be eligible, just pop over to the redemption page, sign in and redeem your code.

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You can pick up the 4GB model for as little as $170 but you would be wiser to invest a little more in the 8GB version.

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Source: AMD

Samsung will be disabling the charging ability of the Note 7

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2016 - 10:58 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy note 7, verizon, recall

If you are one of the 7% that like living dangerously and are not returning your Samsung Galaxy Note 7 you may find yourself unable to charge it.  Samsung are going to push out an update on December 19th which will disable the devices ability to charge.  The incendiary devices suffer from a design flaw which does not leave enough space for the battery to swell, which can lead to an electrical short in the battery which ends badly for both the device and the owner.  Verizon has decided to take an interesting stand and will be blocking this update, allowing those who wish to continue using this device to continue to do so.  Pop over to The Inquirer for more details.

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"THE REMAINING owners of the highly flammable Samsung Galaxy Note 7 will have their devices remotely killed from 19 December when an over-the-air update will prevent their devices from charging."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

DOOM Removes Denuvo DRM

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2016 - 12:01 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, DRM, doom, bethesda

Well this is an interesting news post for a couple of reasons. Personally, I dislike DRM. A lot. It’s software that reduces end-user rights, as both consumers and potentially even as members of society after copyright expires (depending on how judges, and the Librarian of Congress, interpret whether fair use or expiration will override the DMCA’s felony clauses). It’s especially annoying when you see DRM on content that was pirated prior to the official launch, because ticking off your customers and screwing with archivists will really help you if you can’t even secure your own supply chain.

--deep exhale--

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As for today’s story, id Software has officially removed the Denuvo DRM package from their game. On the one hand, it’s good that AAA developers sometimes remove copy-protection after some initial launch window, to limit long-term damage. It’s not DRM-free like you would see on GOG, though, so there is still the possibility that games could artificially die in 10, 40, 100, or 400 years, even if Windows and the other, technical platforms it requires are still around.

On the other hand, because the removal of DRM aligns with DOOM being cracked, that's all the dozens of tech news sites are now reporting. Personally, I hope that this coverage increases sales, especially since the Steam Winter Sale is rumored to start in about two weeks, and DOOM has already been discounted to 50%-off before (I believe during QuakeCon). Still, you can't help but gawk at the Streisand effect as it unfolds before you.

Anywho, Steam is currently in the middle of pushing a 12 GB patch for the title at the moment. While the sites reporting on the removal of Denuvo aren’t clear, and the release notes don’t say, I’m guessing that it was rolled in with Free Update 5.

Source: TorrentFreak

Jonsbo Will Release SFF VR2 mATX Case In Black, Silver, and Red

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 9, 2016 - 07:16 AM |
Tagged: SFF case, SFF, OEM, ODM, micro ATX, jonsbo, itx

Jonsbo, an OEM based in Hong Kong that also does ODM designs for other brands (such as Newegg’s house brand Rosewill) has announced a new Micro ATX chassis called the VR2. The upcoming small form factor case measures 14.9” x 9.4” x 15.8” and is constructed using an SGCC (cold rolled steel) frame along with 3mm thick aluminum-magnesium alloy body panels and 5mm tempered glass side panels on both the left and right sides. The case comes in black, silver, and red.

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The SFF VR2 case uses a vertical motherboard design that places the rear IO, power supply input, and PCI slots at the top of the case. The cable clutter is hidden by the top panel of the case and cables are routed out of the back of the case. The vertical mounting design allows for larger graphics cards (up to 12.6" / 320mm) to be installed along with standard ATX power supplies up to 250mm long. Further, while we are on measurements, CPU coolers can be up to 190mm tall.

Further, the motherboard tray can hold either ITX or Micro ATX motherboards with four external PCI slots available for expansion cards.

Cooling is handled by two 120mm fans in the bottom and a single 120mm fan up top. Airflow is going to be restricted with this design, but according to Jonsbo the cooling setup will generate positive pressure and bring in enough cool air to keep things running smoothly even with the single exhaust fan that does not have a direct outside vent above it (we will have to see if reviews confirm these claims, of course!).

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The outside of the case is kept simple with subtle curved edges, rounded case feet, and clean front and top panels sans vents. There are two USB 3.0 (USB 3.1 Gen 1) ports and two 3.5mm audio jacks nestled in the bottom right corner and a single silver power button in the top left corner of the front panel. Other than that, even the vents are hidden from view. The red version in particular is quite attractive. The left and right sides of the case feature tempered glass to show off your components as well as your awesome cable management behind the motherboard tray (it's not a rat's nest back there right?? heh).

Jonsbo VR2 Silver SFF MATX Case Cable Management.jpg

Internally, the Jonsbo VR2 has a motherboard tray with a very large CPU cutout and cable routing grommets along the bottom edge. This actually works out well except for perhaps the CPU power connector (the grommets are close to the bulky 24-pin and GPU inputs though). A modular power supply is a must though if you want a clean build though; there is no space to easily hide away unused cables.

The case has room for a total of four 2.5" drives and a single 3.5" drive with the 3.5" and two 2.5" SSDs in the main compartment and two SSD mounts behind the motherboard tray.

It is an interesting case from a company that I had not heard of before. More photos and specifications can be found on the company's website.

It is not clear whether we will see the Jonsbo branded version in the US soon or if we will have to wait for a US company to pick up the design and sell it under their own brand (or import it I suppose). Pricing and availability have not been announced yet, but hopefully more information will be released next month at CES.

Source: Jonsbo

Seagate Duet Hard Drive Keeps Your Cloud Close, Syncs Files With Amazon Drive

Subject: Storage | December 8, 2016 - 10:59 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, external hard drive, cloud storage, cloud backup, amazon drive, amazon

Seagate and Amazon have partnered up to offer a new USB external hard drive called the Seagate Duet that, while functioning as you would expect an external drive to, also automatically keeps files synced between itself and the user's Amazon Drive cloud storage. The Duet is based on Seagate's Backup Plus drive series and is a 1TB drive with two platters and PMR (perpendicular magnetic recording) technology that spins at 5400 RPM. It connects to PCs over USB 3.0.

During the initial setup, users provide their Amazon Drive login to the Duet software which will upload all media files stored on the external drive to Amazon Drive as well as download any files stored on Amazon Drive regardless of whether they were uploaded by the Duet or other devices not using the Duet software.

Seagate Duet 1TB 5400 RPM Amazon Drive Backup.jpg

Seagate offers a two year warranty on the drive which will be an Amazon.com exclusive and available on December 10th for $99.99. The Duet does come at quite the premium over other drives (even Seagate's own) with non-automatic cloud syncing 1TB USB 3.0 drives coming in at around $50 and 2TB drives able to be found easily for less than the Duet's $100 price.

However, there is a bit of a saving grace in that the Seagate Duet does come with one year of free Amazon Drive Unlimited storage which normally costs $59.99 a year.

For enthusiasts, there are cheaper 1TB or higher capacity drives for the same price as the Duet, but I find myself thinking that this would be a great gift for family members to help them protect their precious family photos and videos from a drive failure or lost drive! With the holidays coming up fast, if you have not figured out the perfect gift yet this may just be the thing to buy – and if something does happen, the real gift is that their photos are safely backed up!

Source: Amazon

Podcast #428 - Khronos Group, Enterprise SSDs/HDDs, Water-cooled Cases, Mechwarrior

Subject: Editorial | December 8, 2016 - 09:00 PM |
Tagged: podcast, Thrustmaster, thermaltake, tablet, snapdragon, razer, nvidia, microsoft, Mechwarrior, Khronos, Intel, hp, evga, Deepcool, AUKEY

PC Perspective Podcast #428 - 12/8/16

Join us this week as we discuss Khronos Group, Enterprise SSDs, Water cooled cases  and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts:  Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom

Program length: 1:13:35

  1. Join our spam list to get notified when we go live!
  2. Patreon
  3. Win a White Special Edition Corsair RM1000i Power Supply!
  4. Week in Review:
    1. 0:04:16 AUKEY KM-G3 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review
    2. 0:08:06 Thrustmaster TMX Review: Budget FFB for Xbox One and PC
    3. 0:15:16 Deepcool GamerStorm GENOME Liquid-Cooled Case Review
    4. 0:23:06 EVGA SuperNOVA 550W G3 Power Supply Review
    5. 0:28:01 Qualcomm and Microsoft Bring Full Windows 10 to Snapdragon Devices
  5. News items of interest:
    1. 0:32:07 Razer Joins The Khronos Group
    2. 0:36:54 Thermaltake Launches Water Cooling Friendly E-ATX Tower 900 Series Case
    3. 0:39:32 Intel Z270 Express and H270 Express Chipsets Support Kaby Lake, More PCI-E 3.0 Lanes
    4. 0:42:12 MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Announced on Unreal Engine 4
    5. 0:46:10 HP Launches Ruggedized Apollo Lake Powered Convertible Tablet For Students
    6. 0:47:33 Micron Launches 5100 Series Enterprise SSDs - 3D TLC up to 8TB!
    7. 0:52:12 WD and HGST Refresh Enterprise SSDs to Include 8TB, Push HDDs to 12TB and Beyond
    8. 1:02:37 NVIDIA Releases GeForce 376.19 Drivers (and Two Contests)
    9. 1:04:14 The Khronos Group Announces VR Standard Initiative
  6. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Ryan: Uber, but boats  … CanUber
    2. Jeremy: PRUSA i3 MK2 printer Store link
    3. Josh: Hitting low cost per GB!
    4. Allyn: iRoller
  7. http://pcper.com/podcast
  8. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  9. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Thermaltake's 900 Vertical Super Tower is made for those who take their watercooling seriously

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 8, 2016 - 08:52 PM |
Tagged: thermaltake, watercooling, tower 900, liquid cooling, E-ATX Case, case mods

You might remember mention of the Thermaltake 900 Vertical Super Tower on the podcast last night, if not it should be posted soon so you can catch up.  This plus-sized tower was designed to give watercooling fanatics enough space to fit in whatever they can dream up and [H]ard|OCP received one for review.  The design proved to be unfriendly for self contained watercoolers which have a two fan radiator, only single fan rads will fit in the front portion of the case.  For the more serious, this case can contain up to three full enthusiast class radiators, 240, 280, 360, 480 or 540mm rads can be accommodated.  The sheer size of the case makes installation convenient for those who will build a system worthy of this case.  [H]ard|OCP gave this a gold, and offered some interesting modding suggestions on their conclusion page; check it out here.

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"It's a tower and it's super! Thermaltake's new Tower 900 is not close to your typical PC computer enclosure. It is built for a very specific customer; the enthusiast that wants plenty of room to do highly customized build and then have the ability to easily show it off is the target demographic for this chassis."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

X marks the spot; rumours of Broadwell-E's successor appear

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2016 - 06:22 PM |
Tagged: rumour, Intel, skylake-x, kaby lake x, LGA 2066

DigiTimes today published a possibly accurate post on the upcoming replacement for the ageing Broadwell-E platform, Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X.  These chips will feature a new socket and along with that a new chipset, bearing the predictable name of X299.   The quoted prices seem to fit with Intel's pricing scheme, from $468 to $1,780 but we did not hear of any core counts or frequency ranges, the expected release date is about a year away.  The new chips will of course support DDR4 and we might see a hint of them at Gamescom 2017 in Germany.  They also state you can expect to see Intel's 7xxx family of chips and the accompanying Z270 and H270 chipsets at CES this January; a reasonable expectation.

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"The new Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processors will feature a new LGA 2066 socket and support DDR4 memory. The CPUs will pair with Intel's new X299 chipsets."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

ARM Partners with Xilinx to Accelerate Path to 7nm

Subject: Processors | December 8, 2016 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: Xilinx, TSMC, standard cells, layout, FinFET, EDA, custom cell, arm, 7nm

Today ARM is announcing their partnership with Xilinx to deliver design solutions for their products on TSMC’s upcoming 7nm process node.  ARM has previously partnered with Xilinx on other nodes including 28, 20, and 16nm.  Their partnership extends into design considerations to improve the time to market of complex parts and to rapidly synthesize new designs for cutting edge process nodes.

Xilinx is licensing out the latest ARM Artisan Physical IP platform for TSMC’s 7nm.  Artisan Physical IP is a set of tools to help rapidly roll out complex designs as compared to what previous generations of products faced.  ARM has specialized libraries and tools to help implement these designs on a variety of processes and receive good results even on the shortest possible design times.

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Design relies on two basic methodologies.  There is custom cell and then standard cell designs.  Custom cell design allows for a tremendous amount of flexibility in layout and electrical characteristics, but it requires a lot of man-hours to complete even the simplest logic.  Custom cell designs typically draw less power and provide higher clockspeeds than standard cell design.  Standard cells are like Legos in that the cells can be quickly laid out to create complex logic.  Software called EDA (Electronic Design Automation) can quickly place and route these cells.  GPUs lean heavily on standard cells and EDA software to get highly complex products out to market quickly.

These two basic methods have netted good results over the years, but during that time we have seen implementations of standard cells become more custom in how they behave.  While not achieving full custom performance, we have seen semi-custom type endeavors achieve appreciable gains without requiring the man hours to achieve fully custom.

In this particular case ARM is achieving a solid performance in power and speed through automated design that improves upon standard cells, but without the downsides of a fully custom part.  This provides positive power and speed benefits without the extra power draw of a traditional standard cell.  ARM further improves upon this with the ARM Artisan Power Grid Architect (PGA) which simplifies the development of a complex power grid that services a large and complex chip.

We have seen these types of advancements in the GPU world that NVIDIA and AMD enjoy talking about.  A better power grid allows the ASIC to perform at lower power envelopes due to less impedence.  The GPU guys have also utilized High Density Libraries to pack in the transistors as tight as possible to utilize less space and increase spatial efficiency.  A smaller chip, which requires less power is always a positive development over a larger chip of the same capabilities that requires more power.  ARM looks to be doing their own version of these technologies and are applying them to TSMC’s upcoming 7nm FinFET process.

TSMC is not releasing this process to mass production until at least 2018.  In 1H 2017 we will see some initial test and early production runs for a handful of partners.  Full blown production of 7nm will be in 2018.  Early runs and production are increasingly being used for companies working with low power devices.  We can look back at 20/16/14 nm processes and see that they were initially used by designs that do not require a lot of power and will run at moderate clockspeeds.  We have seen a shift in who uses these new processes with the introduction of sub-28nm process nodes.  The complexity of the design, process steps, materials, and libraries have pushed the higher performance and power hungry parts to a secondary position as the foundries attempt to get these next generation nodes up to speed.  It isn’t until after some many months of these low power parts are pushed through that we see adjustments and improvements in these next generation nodes to handle the higher power and clockspeed needs of products like desktop CPUs and GPUs.

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ARM is certainly being much more aggressive in addressing next generation nodes and pushing their cutting edge products on them to allow for far more powerful mobile products that also exhibit improved battery life.  This step with 7nm and Xilinx will provide a lot of data to ARM and its partners downstream when the time comes to implement new designs.  Artisan will continue to evolve to allow partners to quickly and efficiently introduce new products on new nodes to the market at an accelerated rate as compared to years past.

Click to read the entire ARM post!

Source: ARM

Qualcomm and Microsoft bring full Windows 10 to Snapdragon devices

Subject: Mobile | December 8, 2016 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: windows rt, windows 10, snapdragon, qualcomm, microsoft, arm

At the WinHEC developer conference in China today, Qualcomm and Microsoft have announced a partnership to enable a full Windows 10 computing environment on systems based on the next-generation of Snapdragon processors in the second half of 2017. The importance of this announcement can’t be overstated – it marks another attempt for Microsoft to enter the non-x86 market with mobile devices (think tablets and notebooks, less smartphones).

If you remember the first attempt at Windows on ARM, Windows RT, it’s failure was a result of a split software base: some applications could work between Windows RT and Windows 8 while most could not. It likely helped in the demise of that initiative that Windows 8 was overall very poorly received and that the overzealous box-style interface just wasn’t a hit with users. Major players like NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Samsung and many different OEMs were all caught up in the mess, making it very unlikely that Microsoft would undertake this again without a surefire win.

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Though details are light today, the success of this depends on software compatibility. Microsoft and Qualcomm claim that Windows 10 on mobile devices will bring “the scale of the mobile ecosystem with an unparalleled pace of innovation to address consumers’ growing need to be always on and always connected.” Modems and high performance SoCs for mobile systems is the realm of Qualcomm and form factors using these components as the base could be a solid source of innovation. The press release states as much, saying this partnership will “enable hardware makers to develop new and improved consumer products including handsets, tablets, PCs, head mounted displays, and more.”

Software is the silver bullet though.

New Windows 10 devices powered by Snapdragon supports all aspects of Microsoft’s latest operating system including Microsoft Office, Microsoft Edge browser, Windows 10 gaming titles like Crysis 2 and World of Tanks, Windows Hello, and touchscreen features like Windows Pen. It also offers support for Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps and Win32 apps through emulation, providing users with a wide selection of full featured applications.

Based on what I have learned, the native software experience will come with UWP applications. UWP is Microsoft’s attempt to merge the software base for different platforms, and though it has been slow, adoption by developers and users has been increasing. If it’s true that everything being sold in the Microsoft app store today will be compatible with the ARM architecture processors in the Snapdragon SoC, then I think this leaves the door open for a wider adoption by an otherwise discerning audience.

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Are you ready to hit that start button on your Snapdragon computer?

The emulation for ALL other Win32 (and x64) applications is critical as well. Being able to run the code you are used to running on an x86-based notebook will give users flexibility to migrate and the ability to depend on Qualcomm-based Windows 10 machine for work and for play. With emulation comes a performance hit – but how much of one has yet to be seen or discussed. The rumors have been circulating recently that ARM compatibility was coming to Windows 10 with the Redstone 3 update, and the timing of “late 2017” matches up perfectly with the announcement today.

While notebooks and convertibles are likely on the table for this platform, it’s the new form factors that should excite you. Microsoft’s Terry Myserson expects Qualcomm and Windows to bring “a range of thin, light, power-efficient and always-connected devices, powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon platform, is the next step in delivering the innovations our customers love.” Cristiano Amon, President at Qualcomm Technologies thinks they can provide “advanced mobile computing features, including Gigabit LTE connectivity, advanced multimedia support, machine learning and superior hardware security features, all while supporting thin, fan-less designs and long battery life.”

This partnership will lead to more than just new consumer products though, reaching into the enterprise markets with the Qualcomm Snapdragon platform addressing markets ranging from “mobility to cloud computing.”

Full press release after the break!

Source: Qualcomm

Watch Dogs 2, in two parts

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2016 - 08:04 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, amd, gaming, watch dogs 2, GTX 1080, gtx 1070, gtx 1060, rx 480x, rx 470

[H]ard|OCP have spent a lot of with Watch Dogs 2 recently, enough to create three articles covering the game of which two are now published.  The first article focuses on performance at ultra settings and finding the highest playable settings that the GPUs they tested were capable of, without installing the high resolution texture pack.  As it turns out, the game is much more graphically demanding than many other recent releases, so much so that only the Titan X and GTX 1080 was able to perform at 4k resolutions, the GTX 1070 and 1060, as well as the RX 480 and 470 only feature at lower resolutions. 

The second article looks at performance with the texture pack installed, which did not have much effect on overall performance but significantly increased VRAM usage.  Even the mighty Titan X struggled with this game, we will need a new generation of GPUs to utilize all the available graphics features available in this game.  The last review will be up soon and will focus on what effect each of the graphical settings have on the visual appearance of the game.

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"Watch Dogs 2 has been released on the PC. We will have a three part evaluation of performance and image quality starting today with performance comparisons. We will also find the highest playable settings for each graphics card and the gameplay experience delivered. Finally, a graphically demanding game."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Intel just got some competition, Qualcomm's 10nm server chips will launch first

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2016 - 06:25 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, centriq, centriq 2400, server

The days when AMD and Intel were the two choices to build a server with are long gone.  The ARM architecture has been making serious inroads as various vendors have begun to offer various solutions utilizing ARM designs, up to and including AMD for that matter.  Today, Qualcomm have joined these ranks, announcing their first processor family designed to power a server.  The Centriq 2400 series is based on a 10nm process node, with up to 48 cores.  As The Inquirer points out, this is a rather impressive shot across Intel's bow as Qualcomm will ship a 10nm FinFET before Intel does.

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"The Qualcomm Centriq 2400 series, the first in the Centriq product family that Qualcomm has been working on for four years, has up to 48 ARMv8-compliant cores targeting compute-intensive data centre applications that require power efficiency and is built on the 10nm FinFET manufacturing processor."

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Source: The Inquirer