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Subject: Storage | September 6, 2016 - 02:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: crucial, MX300, 1050GB, sata ssd, M.2, 88SS1074, tlc
The MX300 series utilizes Micron 384G-bit, 32 tier floating gate, 3D TLC NAND which means that the capacities are a little different than we are used to. 1050GB is an odd number, the 978GB available after formatting even more so, but in the end the actual number matters less than the performance. The SSD Review tested this drive which uses a four channel Micron 88SS1074 controller and sports eight NAND packages with Micron LPDDR3 1333MHz DRAM for a cache. They tested a single drive as well as setting up two in RAID 0, the single drive could hit 535MB/s read and 516MB/s write and RAID 0 did indeed come close to doubling that. Drop by to see their full results.
"Due to the new 384G-bit TLC 3D NAND, the MX300 line up is now offered in 275GB, 525GB, 750GB, 1050GB, and 2TB options. From this announcement, the 2TB option intrigued us the most, however, they are still unavailable, so we opted to get two 1050GB models for today's review."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Toshiba HK4E Enterprise @ The SSD Review
- Transcend ESD400 Portable USB3 SSD @ Benchmark Reviews
- Seagate IronWolf 10TB HDD @ Kitguru
- ASUSTOR AS6208T NAS Server @ NikKTech
- QNAP TVS-682T 6-Bay Thunderbolt NAS @ techPowerUp
Subject: General Tech | September 6, 2016 - 01:07 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: hdmi, usb type-c, HDMI 1.4b
HDMI Licensing have agreed to allow a single cord converter that converts HDMI 1.4b to USB Type-C, no additional dongle required. The HDMI Alt Mode will support all the features of the new HDMI standard, including 4k resolution and an audio return channel. That will mean any computer, tablet or other device with Type-C out can be plugged into an HDMI port on an external display with a single cord, no additional dongles or other hassles. The Register does point out one small defect, the HDMI port is not reversible so you will still have to turn it three times before it will plug in.
"HDMI Licensing, the administrator of the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) spec, has decided that the time has come to do away with dongles and given the thumb's up to USB-C."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Adobe Flash goes crawling back to Linux for some security @ The Inquirer
- The New AMD Socket AM4 Chipsets Revealed @ Tech ARP
- The 7th Generation AMD A-Series Desktop APUs @ Tech ARP
- The survivors: Intel's Apollo Lake netbook CPUs stagger from Goldmont bloodbath @ The Register
- A Review Of The Zmodo Pivot Smart Camera Security Solution @ Techgage
- Netflix Finds x265 20% More Efficient Than VP9 @ Slashdot
- What To Expect from Google Home @ Hardware Secrets
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 6, 2016 - 02:53 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: radeon, firepro, amd
AMD is apparently interested in supporting open-source, professional graphics. For instance, the Blender Foundation is interviewing potential hires based on a potential deal with the CPU and graphics vendor. They have also open-sourced a bunch of technologies through their GPUOpen Initiative, such as the Radeon Rays (formerly FireRays) library.
This time, at IFA 2016, they released the Radeon ProRender, which used to be called FireRender. This is a plug-in for multiple 3D applications to render high-quality, raytraced images. The open-source, third-party renderer is currently available for 3D Studio Max, in beta for Maya, Rhinoceros, and Solidworks, and coming soon for Blender. While Cycles is pretty good, the potential for cross-pollination is interesting for the future of open 3D development.
We can't go wrong with more options.
Subject: General Tech | September 5, 2016 - 07:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: razerzone, Razer Chroma, razer, Ornata, Mecha-Membrane, keyboard, gaming
Razer has annouced a new line of gaming keyboards called Ornata, which feature the company's "Razer Mecha-Membrane" technology, which is described as a cross between membrane, and mechanical-switch keyboards.
"Designed to combine the most desirable traits of membrane rubber dome design with the merits of mechanical keyboard technology, the Razer Mecha-Membrane delivers both a soft, cushioned touch and a crisp, tactile click with each keystroke.
Traditionally, users choose membrane rubber dome keyboards for comfort, while mechanical switches are favored for fast actuations and distinct tactile feedback. The Razer Mecha-Membrane is a unique mid-height keycap hybrid that provides a comfortable and efficient typing experience unlike any key type on the market."
Two versions will be available, beginning with the Razer Ornata Chroma, which offers individually-backlit keys with Razer Chroma RGB color effects.
"Gamers can choose from 16.8 million colors and a variety of effects. Custom settings can be created using the Razer Synapse software platform and shared with millions of other Razer software users via the Razer Chroma Workshop. In-game Razer Chroma lighting profiles are also integrated into popular game titles, including “Overwatch,” "Call of Duty®: Black Ops III," "Blade and Soul" and more."
The second version is the Razer Ornata, which does not include Chroma effects, instead offering green backlighting behind the keys.
The Razer Ornata Chroma is priced at $99.99, with the Razer Ornata priced at $79.99. Both keyboards are available immediately at the company's razerzone.com store, with worldwide availablity slated for October.
Full press release after the break.
Subject: Systems | September 3, 2016 - 12:10 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: razer, blade, blade stealth, kaby lake, pascal
The Razer Blade and the Razer Blade Stealth seem to be quite different in their intended usage. The regular model is slightly more expensive than its sibling, but it includes a quad-core (eight thread) Skylake processor and an NVIDIA GTX 1060. The Stealth model, on the other hand, uses a Kaby Lake (the successor to Skylake) dual-core (four thread) processor, and it uses the Intel HD Graphics 620 iGPU instead of adding a discrete part from AMD or NVIDIA.
The Stealth model weighs about 2.84 lbs, while the regular model is (relatively) much more heavy at 4.1 - 4.3 lbs, depending on the user's choice of screen. The extra weight is likely due in part to the much larger battery, which is needed to power the discrete GPU and last-generation quad-core CPU. Razer claims that the Stealth's 53.6 Wh battery will power the device for 9 hours. They do not seem to make any claims about how long the non-Stealth's 70Wh battery will last. Granted, that would depend on workload anyway.
This is where the interesting choice begins. Both devices are compatible with the Razer Core, which allows externally-attached desktop GPUs to be plugged into Razer laptops. If you look at their website design, the Razer Blade Stealth promotes the Core more prominently, even including a “Buy Now” button for it on the header. They also advertise 100% AdobeRGB color support on the Stealth, which is useful for graphics designers because it can be calibrated to either sRGB (web and video) or print (magazines) color spaces.
To me, the Stealth seems more for a user who wants to bring their laptop to work (or school) on a daily basis, and possibly plug it into a discrete GPU when they get home. Alternatively, the Razer Blade without a suffix is for someone who wants a strong, powerful PC that, while not as fast as a full desktop, is decently portable and even VR ready without external graphics. The higher resolution choices, despite the slower internal graphics, also suggests that the Stealth is more business, while the Blade is more gaming.
Before we go, Razer has also included a license of Fruity Loops Studio 12 Producer Edition. This is a popular piece of software that is used to create music by layering individual instruments and tracks. Even if you license Adobe Creative Cloud, this is one of the areas that, while Audition technically can overlap with, it's really not designed to. Instead, think GarageBand.
The Razer Blade Stealth is available now, from $999.99 (128GB QHD) to $1999.00 (1TB 4K).
The Razer Blade is also available now, from $1799.99 (256GB 1080p) to $2699.99 (1TB QHD+).
Subject: Mobile | September 2, 2016 - 06:09 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy note 7
According to Samsung, there have been 35 reported cases of defective Galaxy Note 7 batteries. In response, they will voluntarily replace all existing Galaxy Note 7 devices “over the coming weeks”. They have also stopped selling the devices, presumably, because they are capable of fixing the devices for existing customers, until the stock can be replaced.
This comes after reports that Galaxy Note 7 phones have been either catching fire or exploding. Some outlets are claiming that Samsung has confirmed 35 cases of fire or explosion, but, unless these outlets have more information than on the public statement, Samsung has only confirmed 35 complaints, and it's possible that other, related issues were included in that tally (like feeling excessively hot).
They did not mention a specific way for Galaxy Note 7 owners to request a replacement in their press release, but their technical support contact information is available here. I assume that they will point you in the right direction.
Subject: Memory | September 2, 2016 - 05:24 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: gskill, ddr4
Judging by a quick scan of Newegg USA, G.SKILL is pretty much alone in bringing 8GB DIMMs to speeds above DDR4-3733. They already have a 2x8GB kit in the DDR4-4000 and DDR4-4133 ranges, but they're now introducing a 4x8GB kit into the DDR4-3866 classification. The chip is rated at CL18-19-19-39 when supplied with 1.35V. This is much higher voltage than slower sticks, but, as far as I can tell, pretty good at that speed. It also supports XMP 2.0 to automatically configure your BIOS, which is a bonus.
Granted, I cannot think of too many situations where four channels of high-bandwidth memory will give you any real benefits, apart from obviously a narrow list of overclocking record categories. Current DDR4-capable processors can do up to 16GB DIMMs. Personally, I'd tend to err on the side of slower, denser sticks of RAM. I'm more concerned about leaving everything I want in memory, versus any potential bottlenecks I might introduce in giving my CPU work. That's just me, though. If you have the need for high-bandwidth, quad-channel, DDR4 memory, then here you go.
Pricing has not yet been announced. That said, a 2x8GB DDR4-4000 (the next category up) of the same brand can be found for around $190 USD. 2x8GB DDR4-4133 (the next category above that) is about $220 USD. While those kits contain half the sticks, 2 vs 4, the new kit might be slightly cheaper per stick than these. That's just speculation, though, until retailers show their stock.
Subject: General Tech | September 2, 2016 - 12:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: FLOPPYFlash, Compact Flash
It may be masochism or an extremely dated OS or piece of software you support but there are some people out there still using 3.5" floppy disks. Trying to source new disks which are not yet dead to replace the ones that die on you will be a frustrating experience but there is hope thanks to Solid State Disks Ltd. Their FLOPPYFlash drives use Compact Flash as their storage medium and connect to your machine using the old 34 pin floppy disk ribbon cable, or even the rarer 26 pin or 34 pin slim and Shugart connections. You can also set your data rates, 125 and 500 Kbit/s being the norm; which should successfully convince your machine it is reading from its old pal, but you will know better and likely sleep better at night.
"Floppy disk sales have, well, flopped but there are still masses of PCs and old embedded PC-based systems out there with floppy disk slots and drives. Now this near-dead space can be made usable again, with a 32GB FLOPPYFlash drive from Solid State Disks Ltd."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The 7th Generation Intel Core Processor Tech Briefing @ Tech ARP
- New Intel and AMD Chips Will Only Support Windows 10 @ Slashdot
- Windows 10 now rules the weekend, taking over from Windows 7 @ The Register
- Microsoft To Add Flux Like Night Mode In Windows 10, Rendering 3rd-Party App's Existence Useless @ Slashdot
- Patch now: Apple emits fix for Pegasus spyware bugs in OS X, Safari @ The Register
- AMD discloses amendment to deal with Globalfoundries @ DigiTimes
- Samsung recalls Galaxy Note 7 after reports of fires and explosions @ The Inquirer
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 2, 2016 - 12:00 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: atx, enclosure, corsair, case, carbide, Air 740, dual-chamber, airflow, cooling
Corsair has announced a new member of the Carbide Air family with the new 740, and this dual-chamber case is all about airflow.
A follow-up to the Carbide Air 540, the 740 is a cube-like design, and a fairly roomy 16.8 x 13.4 x 20.1 inches in size. There's plenty of internal room for large components, and tons of room for cooling. How much room? Corsair says the Carbide Air 740 can hold "up to eight 120mm or seven 140mm fans, a 240mm/280mm top radiator, 240mm/280mm floor radiator, and 240/280/360mm front radiator – all at once."
Specifications from Corsair:
- Dual-chamber Direct Airflow Path design: Utilizes dual-chambers to deliver cooler air to your CPU, graphics cards, motherboard, memory, and other PCI-E components without your drives or power supply getting in the way.
- Industrial-style ergonomics and space-saving internal design: Offers massive internal volume by moving the power supply and drive bays into a separate chamber.
- Includes three custom Air Series AF140L intake and exhaust fans: Based on the award-winning AF140, the included fans provide great airflow performance at lower noise levels than typical case fans.
- Amazing cooling expansion room: For up to eight 120mm or seven 140mm fans, a 240mm/280mm top radiator, 240mm/280mm floor radiator, and 240/280/360mm front radiator – all at once.
- 8 x Expansion slots: Can house up to 4 graphics cards.
- I/O Port: 2 x USB 3.0, headphone and mic.
- Dimensions: 426mm x 340mm x 510mm
Corsair has priced the Carbide Air at $149.99, and it's available now.
- Stay tuned as we will have a review of this new Corsair Carbide Air 740 enclosure soon!
Full press release after the break.
Subject: Processors | September 2, 2016 - 01:39 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: IBM, power9, power 3.0, 14nm, global foundries, hot chips
Earlier this month at the Hot Chips symposium, IBM revealed details on its upcoming Power9 processors and architecture. The new chips are aimed squarely at the data center and will be used for massive number crunching in big data and scientific applications in servers and supercomputer nodes.
Power9 is a big play from Big Blue, and will help the company expand its precense in the Intel-ruled datacenter market. Power9 processors are due out in 2018 and will be fabricated at Global Foundries on a 14nm HP FinFET process. The chips feature eight billion transistors and utilize an “execution slice microarchitecture” that lets IBM combine “slices” of fixed, floating point, and SIMD hardware into cores that support various levels of threading. Specifically, 2 slices make an SMT4 core and 4 slices make an SMT8 core. IBM will have Power9 processors with 24 SMT4 cores or 12 SMT8 cores (more on that later). Further, Power9 is IBM’s first processor to support its Power 3.0 instruction set.
According to IBM, its Power9 processors are between 50% to 125% faster than the previous generation Power8 CPUs depending on the application tested. The performance improvement is thanks to a doubling of the number of cores as well as a number of other smaller improvements including:
- A 5 cycle shorter pipeline versus Power8
- A single instruction random number generator (RNG)
- Hardware assisted garbage collection for interpreted languages (e.g. Java)
- New interrupt architecture
- 128-bit quad precision floating point and decimal math support
- Important for finance and security markets, massive databases and money math.
- IEEE 754
- CAPI 2.0 and NVLink support
- Hardware accelerators for encryption and compression
The Power9 processor features 120 MB of direct attached eDRAM that acts as an L3 cache (256 GB/s). The chips offer up 7TB/s of aggregate fabric bandwidth which certainly sounds impressive but that is a number with everything added together. With that said, there is a lot going on under the hood. Power9 supports 48 lanes of PCI-E 4.0 (2 GB/s per lane per direction), 48 lanes of proprietary 25Gbps accelerator lanes – these will be used for NVLink 2.0 to connect to NVIDIA GPUs as well as to connect to FPGAs, ASICs, and other accelerators or new memory technologies using CAPI 2.0 (Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface) – , and four 16Gbps SMP links (NUMA) used to combine four quad socket Power9 boards into a single 16 socket “cluster.”
These are processors that are built to scale and tackle the big data problems. In fact, not only is Google interested in Power9 to power its services, but the US Department of Energy will be building two supercomputers using IBM’s Power9 CPUs and NVIDI’s Volta GPUs. Summit and Sierra will offer between 100 to 300 Petaflops of computer power and will be installed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory respectively. There, some of the projects they will tackle is enabling the researchers to visualize the internals of a virtual light water reactor, research methods to improve fuel economy, and delve further into bioinformatics research.
The Power9 processors will be available in four variants that differ in the number of cores and number of threads each core supports. The chips are broken down into Power9 SO (Scale Out) and Power9 SU (Scale Up) and each group has two processors depending on whether you need a greater number of weaker cores or a smaller number of more powerful cores. Power9 SO chips are intended for multi-core systems and will be used in servers with one or two sockets while Power9 SU chips are for multi-processor systems with up to four sockets per board and up to 16 total sockets per cluster when four four socket boards are linked together. Power9 SO uses DDR4 memory and supports a theoretical maximum 4TB of memory (1TB with today’s 64GB DIMMS) and 120 GB/s of bandwidth while Power9 SU uses IBM’s buffered “Centaur” memory scheme that allows the systems to address a theoretical maximum of 8TB of memory (2TB with 64GB DIMMS) at 230 GB/s. In other words, the SU series is Big Blue’s “big guns.”
A photo of the 24 core SMT4 Power9 SO die.
Here is where it gets a bit muddy. The processors are further broken down by an SMT4 or SMT8 and both Power9 SO and Power9 SU have both options. There are Power9 CPUs with 24 SMT4 cores and there are CPUs with 12 SMT8 cores. IBM indicated that SMT4 (four threads per core) was suited to systems running Linux and virtualization with emphasis on high core counts. Meanwhile SMT8 (eight threads per core) is a better option for large logical partitions (one big system versus partitioning out the compute cluster into smaller VMs as above) and running IBM’s Hypervisor. In either case (24 SMT4 or 12 SMT8) there is the same number of total threads, but you are able to choose whether you want fewer “stronger” threads on each core or more (albeit weaker) threads per core depending on which you workloads are optimized for.
Servers supporting Power9 are already under development by Google and Rackspace and blueprints are even available from the OpenPower Foundation. Currently, it appears that Power9 SO will emerge as soon as the second half of next year (2H 2017) with Power9 SU following in 2018 which would line up with the expected date for the Summit and Sierra supercomputer launches.
This is not a chip that will be showing up in your desktop any time soon, but it is an interesting high performance processor! I will be keeping an eye on updates from Oak Ridge lab hehe.
Subject: Systems | September 1, 2016 - 05:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: system build, htc vive, oculus rift, VR
Over at The Tech Report is a new build log, taking you through the steps of building a VR Ready machine. The intent is to build a machine capable of giving you very good performance on a Rift or Vive, while leaving you with enough money to purchase said headset and accoutrements. If money is no object then by all means pick up a couple of Titans or 1080s, but you don't necessarily need to. As with our guides the components included are to give you a guide as to what you will need, if you have a preferred vendor you can substitute all you desire.
"The arrival of Oculus' Rift and HTC's Vive VR headsets is as good an occasion as any to build a brand-new PC, so we tapped MSI and Corsair to help us assemble a system worthy of those headsets' stiff system requirements. See how it all came together in our build log."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Titan X Pascal SLI at 5K @ Kitguru
- Shuttle XPC Cube SZ170R8 w/ i5-6600K @ techPowerUp
- Shuttle SH110R4 Mini PC barebones @ Kitguru
Podcast #415 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 Turbo, Intel SSD P3520, HUAWEI Mate 8, ASUS Strix X99, and more!
Subject: General Tech | September 1, 2016 - 02:57 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: yoga, video, strix x99, ssd, Predator, podcast, P3520, Mate 8, Lenovo, Intel, Huawei, Fanatec, CSL Elite, asus, acer, 1060 turbo
PC Perspective Podcast #415 - 09/01/2016
Join us this week as we discuss the ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 Turbo, Intel SSD P3520, HUAWEI Mate 8, ASUS Strix X99, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store (audio only)
- Google Play - Subscribe to our audio podcast directly through Google Play!
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader (audio only)
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath and Jeremy Hellstrom
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
1:07:04 IFA 2016
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 1, 2016 - 01:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Lian Li, Ebonsteel PC K6, mid tower
If you like minimalist cases, the Lian Li Ebonsteel PC K6 is worth taking a peek at. They relocated the buttons and I/O ports to the top of the case, which also sports a magnetically attached cover hiding 280x140mm mounting point for cooling. The dimensions of 220x495x515mm give you quite a bit of space, GPUs have 310mm clearance and CPU coolers 170mm. The HDD bay can accommodate up to seven 2.5/3.5" drives and the body and panels are all made of SECC, giving the case a bit of weight but also ensuring it will survive mimor abuses. Drop by Modders Inc if the picture below appeals to you.
"In the PC case arena, Lian Li is known as one of the premier case makers for aluminum cases. As long as I can remember they were the leader and the one I personally hoped to own some day. Their fairly simple but well thought out designs made them popular but the higher price tag was not in reach for …"
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- NZXT Manta Mini-ITX Tower Chassis Review @ Techgage
- Cooler Master MasterCase Pro 3 @ Modders-Inc
- COUGAR Panzer Max Full Tower Review @ NikKTech
- SilverStone RL 05 Gaming @ Modders-Inc
- Silverstone Milo ML08 @ techPowerUp
Subject: General Tech | September 1, 2016 - 01:18 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: htc vive, Quark VR
Bulgarian based Quark VR have met with Valve representatives to demonstrate their almost wireless prototype for improving the experience of users of the Vive. Their device is a small receiver that you wear on your body which transmits all necessary signals up to the Vive so you will not have any wires connecting your body to a PC, backpack or otherwise. As the device uses WiFi to transmit the signals there is the possibility that this could introduce lag into your VR experience, something which can have a very negative effect on your carpeting and walls. Drop by Ars Technica for more information on this project.
"A Bulgarian VR startup is promising a fix to the problem, though, saying that an untethered, wireless solution for the HTC Vive will be ready for demonstration sometime this fall."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Deep inside Nantero's non-volatile carbon nanotube RAM tech @ The Register
- HTC invests in medicare VR software developer Surgical Theater @ DigiTimes
- Exploding phablet phears phorce Samsung Galaxy Note 7 delay @ The Register
- L0phtCrack's back! Crack hack app whacks Windows 10 trash hashes @ The Register
Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 1, 2016 - 10:30 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: VR, snapdragon 820, snapdragon, qualcomm
After Google's unveiling of its pending VR platform, it would follow that the major players in the technology field would toss various hats into the ring. We saw Intel announce a reference head mounted VR system at IDF last month called Project Alloy. Today Qualcomm takes the covers off its own reference head unit, creatively called VR820.
The reference platform is built on exactly what you would expect: a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC with the Adreno 530 graphics subsystem in place to handle 3D rendering. Thanks to the heterogeneous computing capability of the QC platform, the VR820 integrates an impressive array of data input including the standard gyro and accelerometer. VR820 adds in dual front-facing cameras to allow for spacial tracking and 6-degrees of freedom for movement (left/right, up/down and forward/backward, pitch, yaw and roll) and to integrate see-through or augmented reality applications. Most interesting to me is that the VR820 is among the first platforms to integrate internal eye tracking, ostensibly to allow for tricks like foveated rendering that allow the system to dynamically change quality levels based on where the users' eyes are actually focused.
The VR820 is a reference platform so you'll likely never see a Qualcomm-branded device on the market. Instead VR820 will be available to OEM out for product and resale as early as Q4 of this year, meaning there is a SLIGHT chance you'll see something based on this for the holiday.
Despite being built on what is essentially a smartphone, the VR820 will allow for higher performance on the CPU and GPU courtesy of the looser thermal constraints and the larger battery that will be built into the device. Qualcomm stated that they expect the device to allow for "a couple of hours" of use in it's current implementation. That doesn't mean a partner wouldn't decide to implement a larger battery to expand that time frame.
The current display in this device is a 2560x1440 single screen, though the SD820 and Adreno 530 could address two independent displays should a partner or future reference design call for it. Looks like Qualcomm switched up and implemented a 1440x1440 display per eye in this reference platform. It is an AMOLED display so you should see amazing color depth though I am a bit concerned by the 70Hz refresh rate it peaks at. Both the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift are targeting 90Hz as the minimum acceptable frame rate for a smooth and high quality user experience. Though I will need hands-on time with the product to decide either way, I am wary of Qualcomm's decision to back off from that accepted standard.
That being said, with the low latency AMOLED screen, Qualcomm tells me the VR820 will have an 18ms "motion to photon" latency which comes in under the theoretical ~20ms maximum for an immersive experience.
The current iteration of VR820 is running Android, though other operating systems like Microsoft's Holographic OS should be compatible if the ecosystem buys in.
It's clear that the goal of untethered VR/AR is the target for mass market experiences. I personally have doubts about the capability of something like VR820 or Intel's Project Alloy to really impact the VR gaming market without being attached to much higher end processing like we see with the Rift and Vive today. More mainstream activities like movies, conferencing and productivity are within the grasp of a processor like the Snapdragon 820. But how well will it handle games that try to emulate Job Simulator or Eve: Valkyrie? Will eye tracking capability allow for higher effective resolution gaming?
There is still a lot to learn about Qualcomm's entry into the dedicated VR space with the VR820, and though pricing will obviously depend on the specifics of the OEM that licenses the design and what modifications may occur, QC thinks the reference platform as we see it here should be in the $500 ballpark.
Subject: General Tech | September 1, 2016 - 12:47 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, piracy
There's a lot of ways to gather information about a topic. Surveys allow a lot of responses quickly and easily, but they have many limitations.
PC Gamer ran a survey for a couple of weeks, polling their audience about whether they pirate computer games, and why. It attempts to correlate this act by age, income, country of residence, and reason. It also asks about how this practice changed over time. They acknowledge that this system could easily be gamed, whether by multiple votes or deliberate misinformation, but noted that it's an interesting study none-the-less. They even highlight a few areas of concern, like non-zero income for people who claim to be under 10 years old (of which some are probably guessing their parents salaries, but still).
The survey is interesting, though, and you should check it out.
It's important to know a bit more about how surveys work, though. Simply put, people often report information that is much different from what would have been measured, especially in hypothetical or long-term situations. Someone who records what they ate during the day, through a survey that occurs multiple times per day, is likely to be fairly accurate.
However, asking someone if advertising works on them is hilariously bad. When I've seen surveys on this, they are overwhelmingly “no” or “it informs me of products or services I would have otherwise not been aware of”. Hate to break it to you, but that's crap. It works. It works on everyone. There is an industry that is worth hundreds of billions of dollars, in the US alone, that testifies to it working.
While you would typically expect a survey about piracy to be skewed in a way that makes the respondents self-identify better, even that is not necessarily the case. About a decade ago, Paulo Ceolho was pirating his own book, leading to an increase in sales. The same happened for a comic book artist, named Steve Lieber, whose sales peaked about ~20x higher than being reviewed on Boing Boing; this peak lasted longer, too.
These sorts of effects, as well as many others, will probably not come up in a survey. In the latter case, there is an emotional reaction to an author who treats you with respect, even though you pirate their work. You actually need to test for these effects with concrete experiments.
In short, read the data with a few grains of salt. This is not an effective acquisition method for what they are attempting to learn, but it's well done for what it is.
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 31, 2016 - 07:50 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, gameworks, fallout 4, pc gaming
Vault 1080, which is a terrible pun by the way, is a free mod of Fallout 4 that is developed by NVIDIA Lightspeed Studios. It is designed to show off GameWorks technologies, such as volumetric lighting and HBAO+, more heavily than Bethesda did with the base game. They claim that the content lasts more than an hour, which is pretty decent for a free expansion.
It will launch on the first day of PAX West: September 2nd.
If you're wondering why NVIDIA has a game development studio, they are mostly responsible for bringing content from the PC to their Shield devices, such as Half-Life 2 and Portal. They also created NVIDIA's VR Funhouse demo, which was also release for free to show off GameWorks (such as NVIDIA Flow and VRWorks Audio) for the HTC Vive. Basically, they develop games (and now game content) to make NVIDIA's hardware more appealing.
Subject: General Tech | August 31, 2016 - 07:30 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: sony, PS3, Playstation, playstation now
As of yesterday, Sony has launched the PC version of their PlayStation Now client for Windows 7, 8.1, and 10. This service allows a catalog of PlayStation 3-era titles (which includes remakes from their previous consoles) to be streamed, in a way similar to OnLive. While the US and Canada are both supported, it's difficult to tell the other regions that it is available in, at least from Sony's official sources.
One caveat is that the service requires the DUALSHOCK 4 controller (and their upcoming, official wireless adapter if you aren't happy with USB cables). From an openness standpoint, this isn't really much better than the console, and actually worse if a far-future title becomes exclusive to it; you can't emulate software that can only be remotely accessed, but that's okay as long as you go in with those expectations. Games can be added and removed from the service with zero recourse, which means that you can lose content that has intrinsic value, especially if it's controversial. On the other hand, it allows you to experience games that you otherwise couldn't, because they were already locked into a platform. On the other-other hand, you're perpetuating that by supporting the platform, but that's your decision to make.
I'll stop that infinite loop here.
All of that aside, the service offers a seven day trial. One month is $19.99 USD, which adds to about $240 each year, while 12 months pre-paid is $99.99 USD.
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 31, 2016 - 06:09 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: radeon 16.8.3, crimson, amd
Similar to the release yesterday from NVIDIA, AMD's Crimson 16.8.3 hotfix has been timed for release with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and the Battlefield 1 Beta. This particular update will add Crossfire profiles for both games and also fixes an unfortunate bug from the previous release which occasionally caused a static, albeit colourful screen over top of your game. Unfortunately, the Gaming Evolved overlay launch problem still exists, as does the workaround.
If you do plan on submitting bug reports whilst trying out the new Battlefield, please do head on over and upgrade so the devs are not working on issues which are already resolved.
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 31, 2016 - 05:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, radeon, open source, linux, RADV, graphics driver
As of yet, AMD has not delivered the open-source Radeon Vulkan driver originally slated to arrive early this year, instead relying on their current proprietary driver. That has not stopped a team of plucky programmers from creating RADV, utilizing the existing AMDGPU LLVM compiler back-end and Intel's work with Mesa NIR intermediate representation to pass to LLVM IR. You won't get Gallium3D support, ironically RADV is too close to the metal for that to work.
Phoronix just wrapped up testing of the new driver, looking at performance for The Talos Principal and DOTA 2, contrasting the open source driver with the closed source AMDGPU-PRO. RADV is not quite 4k ready but at lower resolutions it proves very competitive.
"With word coming out last week that the RADV open-source Vulkan driver can now render Dota 2 correctly, I've been running some tests the past few days of this RADV Vulkan driver compared to AMD's official (but currently closed-source) Vulkan driver bundled with the AMDGPU-PRO Vulkan driver."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Windows 10 vs. Linux Radeon Software Performance @ Phoronix
- PowerColor Red Devil RX 480 8GB Review @ OCC
- XFX Radeon RX 460 Double Dissipation @ [H]ard|OCP
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edition Review @ Neoseeker