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Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2017 - 04:23 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xfinity, streaming tv, iptv, data caps, cord cutting, Comcast
Comcast is hoping to entice its internet only customers to add cable TV and its current cable TV customers to not fully cut the cord with its new Xfinity Instant TV. The new streaming TV service starts at $18 (plus those darn broadcast/TV fees Comcast loves so much) and will soon be available to all current Comcast broadband subscribers. The base package includes access to local broadcast channels, a video on demand library, and a cloud DVR with 20 hours of storage. Users can stream live and on demand TV and movies using the Xfinity Stream application on mobile devices and Rokus, the browser-based website on desktops, or TV Everywhere logins at the individual networks' websites or apps (e.g. HBO Go).
For those looking for a bit more TV than what they can get over the air with an antenna, Comcast is offering three add-on packages for additional monthly fees as well as allowing users to add HBO and Starz for the standard rates ($15 for HBO). The tiers are laid out as follows:
Limited Basic (base package)
Popular broadcast channels (vary by market) including ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC, PBS, Telemundo, Unimas, Univision, C-SPAN, and other public, education, and government (PEG) channels.
- Entertainment (+ $15/month):
- A&E, AMC, Animal Planet, BET, Bravo, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, E!, Food Network, FX, FXX, Hallmark Channel, History, HGTV, Lifetime, OWN, SyFy, TBS, TNT, TV One, USA, and VHI
- Kids and Family (+ $10/month):
- Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, MTV, National Geographic Channel, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, NickToons, Universal Kids, TeenNick, and TLC
- Sports and News (+ $30/month):
- CNBC, CNN, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN News, ESPNU, Fox Business, Fox News, Fox Sports 1, Golf Channel, MSNBC, NBC Sports, NFL Network, and regional sports that vary on market
Comcast has broken its channels into three main add-on packages that allow potential cord cutters to pick and choose what they want to pay for (though it's not full a la carte yet). Those packages are a bit pricey though if you only want some of the channels in the package, particularly the Sports and News package at $30 a month (and likely having to also pay the Sports broadcast fee regular cable customers have to pay whether they watch sports or not) which would be better broken out as separate packages and even the sports package could have regional channels broken out to its own add-on.
In another interesting twist though, Comcast announced that its new Xfinity Instant TV service will not count against users' data caps giving the service a marked advantage over IPTV competitors like YouTube TV, Hulu Live, PlayStation Vue, and others. If you live in a capped market, Instant TV starts to look a bit better price wise if you are a heavy data user as you could avoid data cap overage charges as a result of TV viewing.
On the other hand caveats include a limited DVR (though you can watch On Demand usually the next day) that can only record two shows simultaneously and live TV is, for the most part, limited to your own in-home network. When you are outside of your home network you will be limited to on demand streaming and recordings depending on licensing rights.
I think Comcast is hoping that the new service will entice cable TV holdouts wanting cheaper bills to stay in some fashion as well as entice internet only users and users that have cut the cord already to use Instant TV as a sort of gateway drug to traditional cable. Since they ahve to pay the same TV fees (though no fees for boxes), they might as well upgrade to X1 for a bit more and get more channels and more DVR--or at least that's the idea. I'm not convinced that plan will work though with the current pricing though. I suppose we will just have to wait and see!
What are your thoughts on Xfinity Instant TV? If you are interested in the service, you can check availability in your market (and Internet only customers can get a free 30-day trial) at www.xfinity.com/instant-tv.
Subject: Motherboards | October 5, 2017 - 02:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Z370, Intel, evga, coffee lake
EVGA offers a trio of boards to pour your Coffee into, the EVGA Z370 Classified K, Z370 FTW and an mATX Z370 Micro. You can take a peek at the differences between the boards below, however there are quite a few things they all have in common. The motherboard power connectors have been positioned to make it easier to work in confined spaces, on the mATX model they opted for a 90 degree angle with a cut out that should fit in even the tiniest of cases. All will have at least a pair of Optane compatible M.2 ports, support for memory frequencies up to DDR4-4133MHz and perhaps even higher and reinforced PCIe and memory slots.
Take a look at the specifications below (click to zoom and enhance) as well as the highlighted features in the PR.
October 5th, 2017 - Introducing the EVGA Z370 motherboards, based on Intel's Z370 Express Chipset and 8th Gen. CPUs. These motherboards are built to take mainstream performance to the next level...and beyond. This lineup includes not only the most commonly used ports, slots, and components, but also many surprises. All EVGA Z370 boards include cable cutouts to make tight fits and cabling a concern of the past. These boards also feature metal-reinforced PCIe and DIMM slots, 2-Way SLI Support, multiple RGB headers*, M.2 slots, Intel or Killer Gigabit NICs, and switchable dual-BIOS. Your ears will appreciate Realtek's upgraded 7.1 Channel audio or Creative's Sound Core 3D Audio for superior listening and gaming performance. No EVGA motherboard series would be complete without overclocking support: the Z370 Classified K and Micro are both designed with an 8-Phase VCore design and an external clock gen. to provide more power and stability to your everyday life. Make an EVGA Z370 motherboard part of your next PC and find out just how powerful your system can be - starting from the core.
Intel 8th Generation Core i7/i5/i3 Coffee Lake-S Processors - Discover the power of a 6 Core/12 Thread processor for the first time on an Intel Z-Series motherboard!
Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready - Accelerate your PC with Intel’s latest solutions for blistering fast boot times and increased performance for gaming and everyday tasks.
Reinforced PCIe and DIMM slots - Use today's latest, greatest...and heaviest graphics cards and memory and still have Peace of Mind Gaming.
Dual BIOS chips on all EVGA Z370 motherboards - Easily switch between BIOS configurations to use a custom BIOS, troubleshoot a problem, or fix a failed BIOS update!
Optimized power connector layout for cable management - All EVGA Z370 motherboards feature a new layout for some power connectors to avoid compatibility issues with cases and tight spaces.
Killer DoubleShot™ Pro* - Killer DoubleShot™ Pro helps you maintain your network performance while gaming or streaming, so you won't miss any part of the action.
Integrated HDMI 2.0* - The EVGA Z370 Classified K features an HDMI 2.0 port to allow 4K gaming or streaming at 60fps with supported Intel HD Graphics.
External Clock Generator** - The EVGA Z370 Classified K and Micro feature an external clock generator to improve overclocking stability and increase your overall performance.
Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2017 - 02:35 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: pixelbook, google, convertible tablet, Chromebook, chrome os
Google is dipping its Chrome toes into high end Chromebook territory again with the launch of a new thin and light convertible tablet called the Google Pixelbook. The 12.3” notebook is constructed of premium aluminum and glass components and packs 8th Generation refreshed Kaby Lake CPUs, up to 16 GB of RAM, and up to 512 GB of solid state storage. The Pixelbook has a Yoga-style folding multi-touch display and measures less than half an inch think (10.3mm) and weighs a smidge over 2 pounds (1.1kg).
The Pixelbook has a classy two tone metal and glass design with straight lines and flat edges save for the front edge that has rounded corners. On the inside, the top half is dominated by a 12.3” touchscreen with a resolution of 2400x1600 (Google did not reveal the panel type but did note that it has enough brightness to be used outdoors), paired with a webcam. The display and Wi-Fi antenna area are covered with glass. The bottom half features a backlit keyboard and trackpad that uses almost all the available space of the 12.3” Chromebook.
Internally, the Pixelbook is powered by an Intel Kaby Lake (refresh) processor (in i5 or i7 SKUs), from 8 GB to 16 GB of RAM, and 128 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB of SSD storage depending on the model you purchase. Google has set up the Pixelbook so that it can automatically pair with a Pixel smartphone for tethered data on the go. The battery in the Pixelbook is rated for 10 hours and has a quick charge feature that offers up to 2 hours of usage on a 15-minute charge.
The display is multi-touch, and users can optionally purchase the new (Wacom developed) active electrostatic Pixelbook Pen for $99 and use the AI-powered handwriting recognition and Google Assistant functionality with the stylus. Google claims the pen has 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity and 60-degrees of angular recognition, and thanks to machine learning, 10ms response time.
Speaking of Google Assistant, the Pixelbook features a Google Assistant key on the keyboard where the Windows key normally resides. The pen can be used to highlight text and interact with the AI assistant as well.
The Google Pixelbook is available for pre-order now at the Google Web Store and Best Buy and will be up for purchase by October 31st. The base model with an i5, 8GB of RAM, and 128 GB of SSD storage is $999. Moving to 256 GB of storage gets you to $1199 and upgrading all the specs to an i7, 16 GB RAM, and 512 GB NVMe SSD pushes the price to $1699.
The high-end Chromebook is a bit of an odd market, but the primarily web application-based Chrome OS continues to inch towards being able to take advantage of the local processing power with the ability to run apps not only from the Chrome Web Store but also run Android applications and store and run more stuff (like media and document creation) when offline. No doubt the Pixelbook looks classy, but it is putting itself in the same territory as iPad Pros and Surface products (Surface Books and Surface Pro tablets) as well as most of the premium ultrabook and thin and light laptop and tablets running full versions of Windows.
What are your thoughts on the new Pixelbook? Would you buy one?
Subject: Motherboards | October 5, 2017 - 01:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: coffee lake, Z370, ASUS ROG, maximus x, strix z370
We don't have any Z370 reviews for you just yet but we do have announcements about the boards from the manufacturers. ASUS will be releasing two main families initially, the first comprised of the Maximus X Apex, Maximus X Hero, Maximus X Code and Maximus X Formula. The second family will feature the full sized Strix Z370-E, Z370-F Gaming and Z370-H Gaming along with the mATX Strix Z370-G Gaming and Mini-ITX Strix Z370-I Gaming.
All the boards, including the SFF models will have at least two NVMe SSD slots compatible with SSDs as well as Optane, Intel Gigabit Ethernet controllers and some will even offer MU-MIMO support. You can get a breakdown of the features specific to each motherboard over at ASUS, as well as take a peek at the PR below.
Fremont, CA (October 5, 2017) — The new Intel® 8th Generation Core™ processors are the best desktop CPUs for gaming on the market. With up to six cores and 12 threads, these Coffee Lake chips also have huge potential for enthusiasts and power users who do more with their PCs. Their exceptional performance, unmatched versatility, and considerable overclocking potential are a natural fit for Republic of Gamers (ROG), so we’ve developed a diverse collection of Z370 gaming motherboards for a range of priorities and budgets.
Our latest lineup reinforces ROG’s role as both a breeding ground for innovative features and a proving ground where we test the absolute limits of performance. It includes standouts like the Maximus X Apex, a hardcore gaming and overclocking board designed to break performance records; the Maximus X Hero, which blends leading performance with premium extras; the Maximus X Code that redefines the performance essentials for gamers and enthusiasts; and the Maximus X Formula, which is brimming with cutting-edge features fit for showcase PCs.
While the Maximus series covers the higher end of the spectrum, the Strix family opens the Republic of Gamers to a wider audience. It provides everything you need in a gaming motherboard but excludes some of our more indulgent extras to hit affordable price points. Full-sized ATX options include closely matched contenders for the sweet spot, the Strix Z370-E and Z370-F Gaming, and an unexpected retro revival, the Strix Z370-H Gaming. Smaller form factors are served by the mATX Strix Z370-G Gaming and Mini-ITX Strix Z370-I Gaming.
Defined by gamers, powered by innovation, discover the all-new ROG Z370 lineup at ASUS ROG.
Setting the Benchmark for Records
Lots of motherboard makers claim the best performance, but we’ve got the results to prove it. Much of the credit goes to the Apex, an overclocking savant purpose-built for taking new CPUs to the ragged edge at sub-zero temperatures. Apex boards were introduced earlier this year with the Maximus IX series, and they’ve already claimed multiple world records and top scores with Intel’s Z270 and X299 platforms. Now, our internal overclocking team has continued that streak with the new Maximus X Apex, setting the highest 8th Generation Core i7-8700K frequency record by reaching 7.3GHz on all 6-cores and 12-threads. In addition, the highest DDR4 memory frequency record with a top speed of 5529.2MHz. For the complete story on Z370 overclocking please visit our article at ASUS ROG.
Subject: Processors | October 5, 2017 - 12:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, core i5, coffee lake, 8600K, i5-7600K, ryzen 7
[H]ard|OCP had an opportunity to try a different Coffee Lake CPU than Ryan, who provided our initial results on the i7-8700K and Core i5-8400. In this review, they took a Core i5-8600K and immediately overclocked the chip to 5GHz so they could directly compare Coffee Lake to a Kaby Lake i5-7600K clock for clock, if not for core. The tests show both CPUs at 5GHz locked clocks, 3600MHz RAM clocks with the exact same timings of 18-19-19-39@2T; they do not show a major improvement in performance between the two chips although it is there. What it does illustrate is that the performance increased you see on Coffee Lake are from higher clock speeds, which are a good thing. There will be many who feel the lack of IPC improvement speaks poorly of the new chipset and incompatible socket and they do have a point. There is fun for AMD fans in this review as well, the Ryzen 7 takes top spot even when running at a mere 4GHz, so start with this one and then take a gander through the rest.
"If you were waiting for huge IPC gains out of the new Coffee Lake CPU from Intel, you might be waiting for a very long time. We take the Intel Coffee Lake Core i5-8600K CPU and match it up GHz to GHz with the Intel Core i5-7600K Kaby Lake processor. And we throw in a Ryzen 7 at 4GHz just for fun."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- Intel's Core i7-8700K @ The Tech Report
- Intel Coffee Lake Core i7-8700K review: The best gaming CPU you can buy @ Ars Technica
- Intel Core i7 8700K @ Guru of 3D
- Intel Core i7-8700K @ Tech ARP
- Core i7-8700K @ Techspot
- Core i7-8700K and Core i5-8400 @ Kitguru
- Core i7 8700K & Core i5 8400 Review @ OCC
- Intel Core i5-8400 2.8 GHz @ TechPowerUp
- Intel Core i5-8600K 3.6 GHz @ TechPowerUp
- Intel Core i7-8700K 3.7 GHz @ TechPowerUp
- Intel Core i7 8700K Linux Benchmarks @ Phoronix
- Intel Core i5 8400 Linux Performance @ Phoronix
- Intel's Core i9-7980XE and Core i9-7960X @ The Tech Report
- Intel Core i5-7640X 4.0 GHz @ techPowerUp
- AMD Ryzen 5 1500X @ TechARP
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