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Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2017 - 12:11 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, ios, edge, Android
Microsoft is adding an Edge-y experience to mobile devices not running the rarely seen Windows Mobile. Android users who never heard of Arrow will now not know it as Microsoft Launcher; those who try will find a Chromium based browser which resembles Edge and knows a few of its tricks. iOS users will be running Safari WebKit wrapped all the way to the Edge of their screens. In both cases Edge will offer the same cross-system abilities as it does on PC, allowing you to immediately resume reading a document and sync apps from or to your mobile device. That functionality does have prerequisites, you would need to be using a PC running Windows as one of your devices and it has to have the Fall Creators Update installed, which hasn't yet been pushed out. If you haven't yet fallen asleep, you can continue on Ars Technica.
"As with Edge, the important part of the Launcher is the cross-device experience. Documents and photos has a "continue on PC" option that will open them up on a computer, making it easier to start working on the phone and then resume on a computer."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Linux Networking Hardware for Beginners: LAN Hardware @ Linux.com
- Rice University Adds Asphalt To Speed Lithium Metal Battery Charging By 20 Times @ Slashdot
- Google Pixel Buds are wireless earbuds that translate conversations in real time @ Ars Technica
- Google's premium pricing for the Pixel 2 range is a folly it may regret @ The Register
- Samsung Expected to Earn $4B More Making iPhone X Parts Than Galaxy S8 Parts @ MacRumours
- Snap, crackle ... patch! Apple kicks out iOS 11.0.2 to tackle crappy calls, fix email glitches @ The Register
- 2019: The year that Microsoft quits Surface hardware @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2017 - 10:39 AM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: Zotac Zbox, Z370 Godlike, VROC, video, usb 3.2, Samsung Odyssey, ryzen, PS2000e, podcast, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 2, Pinnacle, msi, lumberyard, Intel, Grado, google, Glaive, cryorig h5 ultimate, corsair, Cooler Master Cosmos C700P, AWS, apple, amd, a11
PC Perspective Podcast #470 - 10/05/17
Join us for discussion on Intel VROC, AMD TR RAID, Google Pixel 2, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes 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, Jermey Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano
Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg
Program length: 1:41:19
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
1:28:10 Zotac steps up their Zbox game
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Subject: Mobile | October 5, 2017 - 08:30 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: thinkpad 25, Thinkpad, t470, Lenovo
It's official! After several years of teasing, Lenovo today has finally unveiled the "Retro ThinkPad."
Coinciding with the exact 25th anniversary of the release of the first ThinkPad model, the ThinkPad 700C, the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25 harkens back to some of the features that have made the ThinkPad brand special over the years.
Built on the same chassis as the current generation ThinkPad T470, the Anniversary Edition has been updated with some features ThinkPad fans have been yearning for. The IBM-era 7-row keyboard is back, along with the traditional blue accented enter key and the key switch design that helped make the ThinkPad known as the premier option for business users throughout the years.
The return of a retro-style RGB ThinkPad Logo is a nice additional detail for longtime ThinkPad fans.
We don't know about the complete specifications yet, but so far we know that the base configuration will feature an Intel i7-7500U CPU with an NVIDIA 940MX GPU and a 14-in 1080p matte touchscreen.
As for pricing and availability, the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25 should be available today, October 5th, on Lenovo's web store for a price starting at $1899. We've been told there's a special deal available today only for the 25th anniversary, but we have no indication of how much that discount is right now.
$1899 is a high price for the specifications, especially compared to other machines in Lenovo's lineup like the T470, but this seems like it will be a low-volume special edition SKU produced for the most dedicated ThinkPad fans.
We're still waiting to get some hands-on time with the device at the 25th-anniversary event, but we'll report back with more impressions on the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25!
Subject: Storage | October 5, 2017 - 01:37 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: western digital, SMR, hgst, HelioSeal, big data, 14tb
Western Digital is raising the enterprise hard drive stakes once again with the announcement of a 14 TB 3.5” hard drive. The HGST branded Ultrastar Hs14 uses fourth generation HelioSeal and second generation host-managed SMR (shingled magnetic recording) to enable a 14 TB drive that is just as fast as its smaller capacity enterprise predecessors despite the impressive 1034 Gb/sq in areal density. Western Digital claims the new hard drive offers up 40% more capacity and twice the sequential write performance of its previous SMR drives.
The 3.5” SMR hard drive comes in SATA 6Gbps and SAS 12 Gbps flavors with both equipped with 512 MB cache, operating at 7200 RPM, and supporting maximum sustained transfer speeds of 233 MB/s. The enterprise drive is geared towards sequential writes and is intended to be the storage target for big data applications like Facebook, video streaming services, and research and financial workloads that generate absolutely massive amounts of raw data that needs to sit in archival storage but remain easily accessible (where tape is not as desirable). According to the data sheet (PDF), it is also aimed at bulk cloud storage and online backup as well as businesses storing compliance, audit, and regulatory records.
For those curious about Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR), Allyn shared some thoughts on the technology here.
Western Digital rates the drive at 550 TB/year and supports the Hs14 with a five year warranty. The drive is currently being sampled to a small number of OEMs with wider availability to follow.
Subject: Motherboards | October 5, 2017 - 12:35 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: X399, tr4, Threadripper, gigabyte, designare EX
Gigabyte has introduced the X399 Designare EX, a decked out ATX motherboard with silver colored armor (including a large backplate) and a blue LED overlay over the PCH. The X399 motherboard is based on the same platform as the already launched Aorus X399 Gaming 7, but with a silver-metallic aesthetic and toned-down LEDs (though you can add RGB LED strips via headers.
The X399 Designare EX surrounds the Threadripper TR4 socket with eight DIMM slots and an eight phase VRM setup with server grade chokes that pulls power from a set of 8-pin and 4-pin 12V EPS connectors. The power phases are covered by heatsinks connected by a heatpipe with the heatsink sitting behind the rear I/O including a small fan for active cooling (which should help ensure some airflow for the VRMs if you are watercooling). Interestingly the IO plate for the rear IO is part of the motherboard rather than being a separate piece that comes in the box. A large backplate ensures the board will not warp over time even with large and heavy CPU coolers and graphics cards installed.
The motherboard has five PCI-E x16 slots (x16/x8/x16/x8 for 4-way GPU configurations) and three M.2 slots with heatspreaders (two in between the PCI-E slots and one below the PCH heatsink). Storage also includes 8 SATA 6 Gbps ports (four from CPU, and four from chipset). USB includes two USB 3.1 Gen 2, 10 USB 3.1 Gen 1, and USB 2.0 ports via headers. On board chipsets include Intel-based 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, and two Gigabyte Ethernet (Intel i211AT) NICs. As for audio, the X399 Designare EX uses the Realtek ALC 1220 (120 dBA SNR) chipset paired with high end WIMA and Nichicon caps, Op Amps, and ground layer isolation. There are 9 temperature sensor headers and 8 fan headers for air or water gear.
Gigabyte has not yet released pricing or availability but I would expect it to be at least $430. Personally, I am a fan of the design of this board and it should at least look good in builds! As for stock performance, overclocking support, and CMOS battery placement we will have to wait for the reviews!
Subject: Storage | October 4, 2017 - 09:24 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: x299, VROC, skylake-x, RAID-0, Optane, Intel, bootable, boot
We've been playing around a bit with Intel VROC lately. This new tech lets you create a RAID of NVMe SSDs connected directly to newer Intel Skylake-X CPUs, without the assistance of any additional chipset or other RAID controlling hardware on the X299 platform. While the technology is not fully rolled out, we did manage to get it working and test a few different array types as a secondary volume. One of the pieces of conflicting info we had been trying to clear up was can you boot from a VROC array without the currently unobtanium VROC key...
Well, it seems that question has been answered with our own tinkering. While there was absolutely no indication in the BIOS that our Optane Memory quad RAID-0 was bootable (the array is configurable but does not appear in the bootable devices list), I'm sitting here looking at Windows installed directly to a VROC array!
Important relevant screenshots below:
For the moment this will only work with Intel SSDs, but Intel's VROC FAQ states that 'selected third-party SSDs' will be supported, but is unclear if that includes bootability (future support changes would come as BIOS updates since they must be applied at the CPU level). We're still digging into VROC as well as AMD's RAID implementation. Much more to follow, so stay tuned!
Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2017 - 09:19 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: render token, ethereum, 3D rendering
You know how people have been buying up GPUs to mine coin? A new company, Render Token, has just announced a service that works in a similar way, except that the output is rendered images. A better example would be something like Folding@Home, but the user is paid for the work that their computer performs. The CEO and the President, Jules Urbach and Alissa Grainger respectively, are co-founders of OTOY, which does GPU- and Cloud-accelerated rendering.
According to Jules Urbach at Unite Austin, they are apparently paying, deliberately, more than ethereum would give users for the same amount of processing power.
I am... torn on this issue. On the one hand, it’s a cool application of crowd-sourced work, and it helps utilize idle silicon scattered around the globe. On the other hand, I hope that this won’t kick GPU supply levels while they’re down. Sure, at least there’s some intrinsic value to the workload, but I can just see people sticking racks of caseless systems in their basement, while gamers keep browsing Amazon for something under four digits (excluding the cents) to appear in stock.
What do you all think? Does the workload usefulness dull the pain?
Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2017 - 08:59 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: 3D rendering, otoy, Unity, deep learning
When raytracing images, sample count has a massive impact on both quality and rendering performance. This corresponds to the number of rays within a pixel that were cast, which, when averaged out over many, many rays, eventually matches what the pixel should be. Think of it this way: if your first ray bounces directly into a bright light, and the second ray bounces into the vacuum of space, should the color be white? Black? Half-grey? Who knows! However, if you send 1000 rays with some randomized pattern, then the average is probably a lot closer to what it should be (which depends on how big the light is, what it bounces off of, etc.).
At Unite Austin, which started today, OTOY showed off an “AI temporal denoiser” algorithm for raytraced footage. Typically, an artist chooses a sample rate that looks good enough to the end viewer. In this case, the artist only needs to choose enough samples that an AI can create a good-enough video for the end user. While I’m curious how much performance is required in the inferencing stage, I do know how much a drop in sample rate can affect render times, and it’s a lot.
Check out OTOY’s video, embed above.
Subject: Mobile | October 4, 2017 - 04:32 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: smartphone, pOLED, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 2, pixel, phone, Oreo, google, DxOMark, Android 8, AMOLED
Google has announced the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones, the second-gen versions of the Nexus-replacement Pixel which launched last October. We looked at that first Pixel phone, which was the premier Android device at the time, and these new Pixel 2 devices hope to place Google at the top of the heap again (with stiff competition from Samsung, of course).
The Google Pixel 2 XL (image credit: Google)
The Pixel 2 arrives in a standard version with a 5-inch 1920x1080 AMOLED display, and an XL version with a new 6-inch pOLED display with 2880x1440 resolution. Both phones are powered by the 8-core Snapdragon 835 and feature 4GB of RAM and the option of either 64GB or 128GB of storage (no card slot on either phone).
While the design of the Pixel 2 is largely unchanged compared to last year, with large bezels above and below the display, the Pixel 2 XL comes closer to the ever-popular “all screen” look with its smaller top/bottom bezels.
The Google Pixel 2 (image credit: Google)
Both phones offer dual front-facing stereo speakers as well, unlike iPhones which have to combine an earpiece speaker and bottom-firing speaker for their stereo effect. The battery capacities are a little different than last year with both Pixel 2 phones, with a 2700 mAh battery (down from 2770 mAh) in the Pixel 2, and a 3520 mAh battery (up from 3450 mAh) in the Pixel 2 XL.
It’s all about camera
Once again, Google is proclaiming the Pixel 2 camera as the best in the industry, and again this is based on testing from DxOMark which has it ranked #1 overall among smartphones. with an incredible 98 out of a possible 100 in their scoring system.
Image credit: DxOMark
Both sizes of Pixel 2 offer a single 12.2 MP rear camera (sorry, no dual cameras here) with 1.4μm pixels, laser + dual pixel phase detection autofocus, OIS, and a f/1.8 aperture. Fans of simulated lens bokeh have no fear, as Google’s dual-pixel sensor design is said to allow for better portrait-style photos than the original Pixel. Video of up to 4k (but only at 30 FPS) is supported, and an 8 MP f/2.4 camera handles front-facing duties.
More on those new displays
Google has improved the display technology with the Pixel 2, as both versions now offer wide color gamut support (95% DCI-P3 coverage from the Pixel 2, and a full 100% DCI-P3 from the Pixel 2 XL). The displays are now ‘always on’, a handy feature that makes sense from a power standpoint when working with AMOLED panels (and hard to give up once you’ve grown accustomed to it as I did with the Galaxy S8+). Last but not least, covering these new displays is Corning Gorilla Glass 5, which is the most drop-resistant version to date (and is also found on the Galaxy S8/S8+ among other phones).
A comparison of LCD and OLED technologies (image credit: Android Authority)
The Pixel 2 XL’s “pOLED” display designation suggests a polymer OLED panel, which has the advantage of being much thinner than traditional glass OLED substrates. (Read more about AMOLED vs. P-OLED here.)
The Pixel 2 phones ship with the new Android 8.0 Oreo, with the promise of “minimum” 3 years of OS and security updates. Vanilla Google phone owners (previously Nexus) have enjoyed being the first to new OS updates, and that should still be the case with these new devices. And if you are coming over from another platform - say, Apple, for instance - a “quick switch” adapter is in every box to help transfer data quickly between phones.
The Quick Switch Adapter in action (image credit: Google)
Google is offering the (unlocked) phone for sale directly from their website, and have partnered with Verizon as the exclusive mobile carrier as they did with the original Pixel. The price? $649 gets you the 5-inch Pixel 2 with 64GB of storage, or double that to 128GB for $100 more. The Pixel 2 XL is available for $849 for the 64GB capacity, with the same $100 premium for a 128GB version. There are also four color options this year, with the whimsical naming fully intact from the previous generation: Just Black, Clearly White, Kinda Blue, and Black & White.
Oh, and one more thing: the 3.5 mm headphone jack is gone.
Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2017 - 02:06 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, Star Wars, Star Wars Battlefront 2, gamespy
We lost access to the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 back in 2014 when Gamespy's servers were shut down but thanks to a dedicated group of fans and support from Disney the game is once again playable. There are some issues currently, from servers not responding to deadly lag but there is a team working to resolve the issues. From the trailer released earlier this week, linked below, we can see that the new version about to be released is nowhere near as disappointing as the reboot of 2015. There will be far more maps, vehicle and heroes in the new game but we have yet to see if it will match the fun that was the original. Hopefully it will, but it won't match the current price of $4 on GoG.
"Battlefront 2's online relaunch doesn't seem to be going entirely smoothly for everyone, though. The game's Steam forums are currently clogged with threads such as Online is back but I can t [sic] play it, Can't join any servers, Multiplayer crashing and Insane server lag."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- EA shares lengthy Star Wars Battlefront II trailer @ HEXUS
- How hitting a game cartridge unlocks gaming’s weirdest Easter egg @ Ars Technica
- Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization announced @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Cuphead is the prettiest game to make you throw your controller @ Ars Technica
- Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer introduces its cowboy @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Humble Stardock Bundle
- Dawn of War 3 removes Skulls, unlocks doctrines & elites @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Project CARS 2 PC & VR performance evaluation – the Red vs. the Green Team @ BabelTechReviews
- Battlestar Galactic Deadlock is the sci-fi strategy game I’d have killed for in 2005 @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Vintage spaceship FPS-RTS Allegiance free on Steam @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech, Processors | October 4, 2017 - 01:05 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, ryzen, price cuts
AMD is slashing prices on their Ryzen line of CPUs, and not just in the UK. A Ryzen 7 1800X in the US will cost you only $400 if you skip out on the Wraith cooler, or $500 if you are in Canada. If that is a little too rich a 1700X is $295 or $415 in Canada, though the 1700 with Wraith cooler at $370 might be a better deal. The price cuts come just before the launch of Intel's Coffee Lake processors so you might want to wait a day or so for reviews to appear. The price cuts could also signal AMD's desire to move stock before the launch of Pinnacle in a few months.
Wasn't that much more pleasant than finding out the IRS plans to crowd source their tax fraud investigations by awarding a $7m contract to Equifax who can count on everyone who grabbed your leaked personal information to do their work for them?
"They also coincide with rumours that AMD plans to launch a new series of Ryzen parts in February, based on 12nm process technology. The AMD Ryzen ‘Pinnacle' parts will be part of a shift of both CPUs and GPUs to GlobalFoundries 12nm LP [leading performance] process during 2018."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- More Than 80 Percent of All Net Neutrality Comments Were Sent By Bots, Researchers Say @ Slashdot
- Dawn of Solar Age Declared as PV Beats All Other Forms of Power @ Slashdot
- Microsoft shows off Windows 10 Second Li, er, Mixed Reality @ The Register
- Got a Yahoo account? Yeah, you got hacked @ The Inquirer
- Azure fell over for 7 hours in Europe because someone accidentally set off the fire extinguishers @ The Register
- The HUAWEI Kirin 970 Deep Dive Tech Report @ TechARP
Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2017 - 10:00 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: VR, Samsung, pc gaming, microsoft
The upcoming Fall Creators Update will be Microsoft’s launch into XR with headsets from a variety of vendors. You can now add Samsung to that list with their Odyssey VR headset and motion controllers, which is important for two reasons. First, Samsung has a lot experience in VR technology as they lead the charge (with their partner, Oculus) in the mobile space.
Second, and speaking of Oculus, the Samsung Odyssey actually has a higher resolution than both it and the HTC Vive (2880x1600 total for Samsung vs 2160 x 1200 total for the other two). This doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s actually 77% more pixels, which might be significant for text and other fine details. The refresh rate is still 90 Hz, and the field of view is around 110 degrees, which is the same as the HTC Vive. Of course the screen technology, itself, is AMOLED, being that it’s from Samsung and deeper blacks are more important in an enclosed cavity than brightness. In fact, you probably want to reduce brightness in a VR headset so you don’t strain the eyes.
According to Peter Bright of Ars Technica, Microsoft is supporting SteamVR titles, which gives the platform a nice catalog to launch with. The Samsung Odyssey VR headset launched November 6th for $499 USD.
Subject: Systems | October 3, 2017 - 05:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: zotac, zbox, Magnus EN1080K, GeForce GTX 1080, i7-7700, SFF, water cooler
The newest Zbox from Zotac is also the most powerful one they have made, which does make it a bit of a different beast than other Zotac SFF products. With an i7-7700 paired with a GTX 1080, along with 16GB of DDR4-2400 and a WD Black 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD the Magnus offers more power than you find in many a mid-range system. The heat produced in the tight confines of the system, 8.9x8x5" (23 x 20 x 13cm), is handled by a custom built watercooling system which cools both the CPU and GPU. This does make the system significantly larger than previous Zbox products and it is much more power hungry, with two power adapters required to run it. The Tech Report loved the performance but did encounter some significant issues with the Zbox, which they overcame with quick and effective support from Zotac. Check this one out for the impressive build design as well as it's impressive gaming abilities.
"Zotac's Zbox Magnus EN1080K pairs Intel's Core i7-7700 CPU with a GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card in an impressively dense liquid-cooled package. We ran some of our favorite games on this system to see how it stacks up in the small-form-factor pantheon."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Return To The Asus Tinker Board: Have Six Months Changed Anything? @ Hack a Day
- Upgrade My PC Please! Ep 5: Dem Tings Wit Graphics @ Techspot
- Pairing CPUs and GPUs: PC Upgrades and Bottlenecking @ Techspot
Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2017 - 01:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, ASUS ROG, strix, GL753VD, gaming notebook, gtx 1050
There are some things to like about this ASUS ROG Strix laptop, the Core i5 7300HQ with up to 12GB of DDR4 is nothing to sneer at and the inclusion of an M.2 SSD and USB 3.1 Type-C port will be appreciated. On the other hand the 17.3" IPS display has a 1080p resolution and it is powered by a GTX 1050 which is simply not enough to power a VR headset. The price is around $1000, making it more affordable than many gaming laptops but as Kitguru points out, by sacrificing the IPS display for a TN you can choose from a variety of models which house a GTX 1060. You can see the full series of benchmarks they performed here.
"Unfortunately, though the ROG Strix GL753VD has the tagline “gaming without limits”, its relatively low-end Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics chip makes it likely that those limits will crop up rather sooner than the average gamer might like, especially in demanding titles. So can the rest of the package and its overall price still convince?"
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
More Mobile Articles
- The Microsoft Surface Pro 2017 Hands-On Preview @ Tech ARP
- macOS 10.13 High Sierra vs. Ubuntu Linux Performance @ Phoronix
- Apple Watch Series 3 review: LTE comes with high monetary and mental costs @ Ars Technica
- iPhone 8 and 8 Plus review: The curious case of the time-traveling phone @ Ars Technica
Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2017 - 12:41 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Roku announced updated hardware and software today, which The Register linked to here. The Roku Express and Roku Express+ have had a speed upgrade, with an increase in responsiveness of five times while the Streaming Stick and Streaming Stick+ now come with a voice activated remote, the higher end model will be capable of 4K and 4K HDR up to 60fps. The top end Roku Ultra offers the same features as its predecessor but now at a lower price.
More interesting is the software update, Roku OS 8 now lets you search over the air TV in its menu if you have an antenna configured and if you have an account with providers such as Dish, Cox or AT&T you will be able to access them on your Roku. You should expect to see the update become available for existing Roku devices as well as these new models later this month.
"The company is still leading the streaming media box market, in large part because it is simply better and offers more than its main competitors in AppleTV, Amazon's Fire TV, and Google's Chromecast."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- How OpenBSD and Linux Mitigate Security Bugs @ Linux.com
- Nvidia partners with Gigabyte and Leadtek for AI, says paper @ DigiTimes
- John McAfee finally reveals Sentinel anti-hacking system @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft extends its Skype-on-a-bike redesign to Linux users @ The Inquirer
- Shortages of all-screen displays to continue into 2018 @ DigiTimes
- Smart burglar alarms: Look who just tossed their hat into the ring ... It's, er, Ring @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2017 - 12:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: usb 3.2, usb-if, USB 3 Type-C, type c, usb
The USB Implementers Forum recently published and made official the specifications for the USB 3.2 standard first introduced in near-final form by the USB 3.0 Promoters Group back in July. The USB 3.2 standard specifies the physical and logical techniques for transferring data over physical USB cables (which are now all specified under their own standards decoupled from the USB 3.2 data transfer specifications) at up to 20 Gbps (~2 GB/s) using two 10 Gbps channels and the same signaling and 128b/132b encoding used by USB 3.1.
Like Thunderbolt, USB 3.2 takes advantage of multiple lanes to achieve the total bandwidth rather than trying to clock and run a single channel at twice the speed which is incredibly complex. In the case of USB 3.2, the specification defines two channels that can run 2 x 5 Gbps or 2 x 10 Gbps depending on the cable used with USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) or USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) cables respectively. In fact, users will be able to re-use their existing USB Type C cables to connect USB 3.2 hosts to USB 3.2 devices so long as they are up to spec. The USB-IF is able to achieve this by using the extra wire pairs in the Type C cables to enable the two lane operation. (5 Gbs cables would be upgraded to 10 Gbps speeds and 10 Gbps cables would be upgraded to 20 Gbps speeds when used with 3.2 hardware at both ends.)
The specification is expected to be finalized by the end of the year with USB 3.2 controllers and other hardware to begin production and roll outs in 2018. Devices supporting the faster USB 3.2 standard are expected as soon as 2019. Desktop users should get access first in the form of PCI-E add-on cards with new USB 3.2 controllers from third parties with native CPU and chipset support from AMD and Intel following in a generation or two (processor generation that is). Laptop and mobile users will have to wait until at least 2019 if not later for the faster standard to come standard.
It is interesting that they have decoupled the USB data transfer standard from the physical cable standards. It seems that USB Type C cables are the star of the show, but that cables like Type A and Micro cables are not going away and could be used with USB 3.2 with the caveat that you would need to buy new USB 3.2 cables which should be backwards compatible with older USB standards but current cables (SuperSpeed Type C cables being the exception) aren't forwards compatible--they might work but will support the higher speeds. At least that is my understanding of it. I am curious if Type C will be more prevalent with USB 3.2 or if we will still see motherboards with a single USB Type C nestled among many more Type A ports. I suppose the number of Type C vs Type A ports will all depend on how many new devices adopt Type C as the USB 3.2 physical interface of choice though, something we will just have to wait and see on! It is nice to see some competition for Thunderbolt though even at 20 Gbps USB 3.2 still lags behind the 40 Gbps of Thunderbolt 3 (20 Gbps with passive copper cables) which Intel is allegedly planning to make royalty free next year. USB 3.2 also has more overhead and is less ideal for things like external graphics. On the other hand, it may just be the cheap enough and fast enough connector that will get the design wins while Thunderbolt continues to be more of a prosumer and professional interface for the higher end and expensive motherboards, PCs, and end devices.
If you are interested in the new 20 Gbps USB 3.2 specifications, the USB-IF has provided a 103 MB zip file with several documents including a 548 page PDF of the new standard and a redline comparison between it and USB 3.1 among other related documents for developers.
Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2017 - 04:12 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: X399, Threadripper, nvme raid, NVMe, amd, 960 PRO
A recent support page and community update posting suggest that NVMe RAID support is coming to Threadripper and the X399 platform imminently (as soon as motherboard manufacturers release an updated BIOS/UEFI). AMD will support up to six NVMe drives without adapters in a RAID 0, 1, or 10 array with all the drives wired directly to the PCI-E controller in the CPU rather than being routed through the chipset (meaning no DMI bottlenecking). There are no limits on the brand of drives and the NVMe RAID update is free with no hardware or software keys needed to unlock it.
NVMe SSDs are very fast on their own, but when combined in a RAID array directly wired to the CPU things really get interesting. AMD claims that it saw read speeds of 21.2 GB/s when reading from six Samsung 960 Pro 512 GB drives in a RAID 0 array! The company also saw near perfect scaling with their test array (when adding up to six drives over a single drive) with reads scaling 6x on reads and 5.38x on writes. Intel's VROC seems to have the theoretical performance advantage here with the ability to RAID more total drives (four per VMD and three VMDs per CPU) but only after purchasing a hardware key and when using more than one VMD it can't be a bootable OS array. When it comes to bootable arrays, AMD would appear to have the upper hand with free support for up to six drives that can be used to run your bootable OS array! Windows has never booted faster! (heh)
Along with its partners releasing BIOS updates, AMD is releasing updates to its NVMe RAID Driver (version 17.50) and RAIDXpert2 Windows management ultility. Currently, Windows 10 x64 build 1703 is officially supported and fresh installs of Windows are recommended (and if you are currently running your Windows OS off of a RAID array a fresh install is required).
Once BIOS updates are available (and they are coming shortly), users will have to jump through a few hoops to get a NVMe RAID up and running, but those hoops may just be worth it for enthusiasts wanting the best storage performance! For one, if you have a RAID array (bootable or not) you will not be able to do an in-place upgrade. If you have a SATA RAID you must back up your data and break down the array before updating the UEFI/BIOS and installing the Windows driver. Further, if your existing array is bootable with your operating system installed on it you will need to back up your data, upgrade the BIOS, and perform a fresh install of Windows with the AMD supplied F6 driver. After upgrading the BIOS, there will be a new menu item (the exact name will vary by manufacturer but SATA Mode and SATA Configuration are likely suspects) where users will need to change the mode from SATA or AHCI to RAID.
Oh, and did I mention to back up your data before diving into this? NVMe RAID support for Threadripper is a long-awaited feature and has a lot of promise with Threadripper offering up 64 PCI-E lanes and, according to AMD, many boards offering 7 slots (6 with a graphics card) which is where AMD is getting the six drive support number. It is appears that using adapters like the Asus Hyper M.2 cards or DIMM.2 slots would allow users to go past that six drive limit though.
NVMe RAID support on X399 / Threadripper is a feature we are in the process of testing now (see comments) and I am very interested in what the results are! Stay tuned for more information as it develops!
- Finally figured out why THREADRIPPER has so many PCIe lanes (en) [VIDEO] @ der8auer
- Intel VROC Tested! - X299 VROC vs. Z270 RST, Quad Optane vs. Quad 960 PRO
- ASUS X299 Enables Intel Virtual RAID on CPU - RAID-0 up to 20 SSDs!
- Triple M.2 Samsung 950 Pro Z170 PCIe NVMe RAID Tested - Why So Snappy?
Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2017 - 03:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: audio, Grado, PS2000e
Grado has a well deserved reputation for providing quality headphones, a reputation which may be somewhat imperilled by a £1000 ($1328USD) price increase compared to last years flagship model. They are certainly pretty, with a smoky chrome exterior, maple reinforcing the interior and padding on the earcups that is replaceable for those looking for custom comfort. The drivers offer the same response range of 5-50,000Hz that the PS1000e did and you an audio player or cellphone can power them, but with a 32 ohms impedance you are better off with a dedicated headphone amp. Kitguru were very impressed with the quality, but it is up to you to decide if the price hike can be justified.
"Unfortunately headphone prices seem to be rising in recent years and the PS2000e are no exception – they hit the UK market at a staggering £2,700 retail. Interestingly, the previous Grado PS1000e flagship is £1,700 — or £1000 less."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Rosewill Nebula GX50 @ techPowerUp
- Sennheiser GSP 350 Headset @ Kitguru
- HyperX Cloud Revolver S @ techPowerUp
- Jabra Elite Sport True Wireless Earbuds Review @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2017 - 02:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: input, gaming mouse, corsair, glaive rgb, PMW3360
The Corsair Glaive RGB gaming mouse is focused on comfort, to that end they provided three different thumb rests, one smooth and slightly-curved, a textured one with a more pronounced curve and a textured, almost flat rest. The five programmable buttons include two unique thumb buttons, much larger than other mice and set fairly high up; after some mental adjustments The Tech Report found themselves pleased with that arrangement. The mouse uses a PixArt PMW3360 optical sensor with five customizable DPI levels, up to a maximum 16,000. The scroll wheel was not quite up to the standard they expect from Corsair but was still acceptable, all in all TR have no problems recommending this mouse.
"Corsair's Glaive RGB breaks with Corsair's angular-and-aggressive mouse-shape tradition by adopting a pleasantly rounded chassis that has the potential to be a crowd-pleaser. We took the Glaive to the mat to see how it games."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Cooler Master MasterSet MS120 Keyboard+Mouse Combo @ Modders-Inc
- Gigabyte Aorus K7 keyboard and Aorus M3 mouse @ Guru of 3D
- ROCCAT Isku+ Force FX Gaming Keyboard @ Modders-Inc
- iKBC F108 RGB Keyboard @ techPowerUp
- SteelSeries Apex M750 Keyboard @ TechPowerUp
- Patriot Viper V770 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2017 - 12:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, windows, apple
TechSpot posted an article compiling a variety of tips on making Windows and MacOS do what you want as well as numerous applications you can use for a variety of tasks. The recommendations run from the classic obfuscated Windows "God Mode" folder which contains links to the majority of the tools you can use on your system to basic keyboard shortcuts. If you are trying to figure out where all your storage space went, Space Sniffer for Windows or GrandPerspective for Macs will help you far more than random searches for large folders. You will probably already know a great number of these tips but it is nice to have a long list compiled in a single location.
"Many hardcore computer users might consider themselves above learning new tricks, but there are always new ways to sharpen your skills on the PC and we bet that you will find at least one useful thing here that you didn't know before."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- IT component shortages could worsen during holidays @ DigiTimes
- Google quietly ditches NFC device unlocking in Android because of 'low usage' @ The Inquirer
- Russian Defense Company Demos A One-Person Flying Car @ Slashdot
- Apple Mac fans told: Something smells EFI in your firmware @ The Register
- iPhone X release date, specs and price: Samsung to earn £80 from every handset sold @ The Inquirer