Windows 10 Creators Update Opt-in and ISOs Now Available

Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2017 - 10:23 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

A few days ago, we mentioned that early adopters of the Windows 10 Creators Update can access the new build early by running an opt-in tool from Microsoft. At the time, it was unclear whether users couple perform a clean install without downloading the Insider build, which would also require enrolling in the Insider program.

windows-10.png

As it turns out, Microsoft, today, has updated their Media Creation tool to produce media for the Creators Update. I haven’t yet installed it, because performing a clean installation on your only PC takes a fairly clear schedule, but I’ll probably give my first impressions on this post tonight or tomorrow. I have already opened the ISO, though, and a lot of the files are dated March 18th, so I'm confident in the reports that this has been updated to Creators Update.

Again, I would recommend that the vast majority of users wait until at least April 11th, if not longer, to give Microsoft extra time for tuning the new build. The first couple of months of a new build have, thus far, involved frequent updates and some compatibility issues. Microsoft is confident with enthusiasts grabbing the bits tonight, so go ahead if you like, but it might be a little bumpy for weeks and/or months.

Source: Microsoft

Graphics performance out of this galaxy; benchmarking Mass Effect Andromeda

Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2017 - 01:28 PM |
Tagged: mass effect, andromeda, gaming

The new instalment to the Mass Effect series has arrived, with a lot of press both positive and negative.  What many want to know is not which bug is most amusing, but if their GPU has what it takes to run the game at 4k or if they are better at 1440p or 1080p.  [H]ard|OCP's testing shows RX 480 and GTX 1060 owners can manage 1440p with some graphical sacrifices which owners of GTX 1070s or 1080s will be able to enjoy.  For those looking for a playable experience at 4k the GTX 1080 Ti is the only card that can manage it and even that card struggles somewhat.  Pop by for all the details, including memory usage.

usd84mVnsqW2iatGoBFziU-480-80.jpg

"Let’s find out how various video cards perform in Mass Effect: Andromeda and what it takes to play this game smoothly at 1080p, 1440p, and 4K. In this preview we’ll examine several video cards, compare apples to apples performance and find the highest playable game settings for each video card."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

UEFI ransomware may brick your BRIX

Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2017 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, brix, uefi, ransomware

Be careful what you do with your BRIX as two rather unpleasant vulnerabilities were disclosed at a recent BlackHat event.  Gigabyte did not implement two security features which these exploits take advantage of, there is no write protection on the UEFI firmware nor a system of cryptographic signatures on UEFI firmware files which can let any file update the UEFI.  While the proof of concept demonstration only prevented the infected BRIX from booting again, this could also be used to infect your machines UEFI quietly and in a way extremely difficult to repair, you would need a UEFI update that wrote over every sector of the firmware to ensure you removed the bugs.  Pop by Slashdot for more on this depressing topic.

20150603180435_big.png

"Last week, at the BlackHat Asia 2017 security conference, researchers from cyber-security firm Cylance disclosed two vulnerabilities in the firmware of Gigabyte BRIX small computing devices, which allow an attacker to write malicious content to the UEFI firmware."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Slashdot

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson ReLive 17.4.1

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 4, 2017 - 09:21 PM |
Tagged: graphics drivers, amd

The first AMD Radeon driver of April isn’t aligned with a major game launch. Instead, this release seems to focus on gaming technologies in general. For VR, Radeon Software Crimson ReLive 17.4.1 adds Oculus’ Asynchronous Spacewarp (ASW) to R9 Fury, R9 390, and R9 290 graphics cards. It also adds, for Windows 10, SteamVR Asynchronous Reprojection to RX 480 and RX 470 graphics cards.

amd-2016-crimson-relive-logo.png

The driver also adds a couple of extra display options based on the (also just added) DP1.4 HBR3 cable standard. For now, it seems like it’s just (read: “just”) 8K 60 Hz dual-cable and 8K 30Hz single-cable. The increased bandwidth also allows for several other formats, but those have nothing to do with today’s driver.

Update: AMD released a video on the same day to advertise 8K / HDR / FreeSync 2. Embed below.

A few bugs were also fixed, most of which were general bug-fixes not associated with games. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is the one exception, which should now scale better with multiple GPUs.

AMD Radeon Software Crimson ReLive 17.4.1 is now available from AMD’s website.

Source: AMD

ASRock's X370 Taichi, meet AMD's new chipset

Subject: Motherboards | April 4, 2017 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: x370, asrock, X370 Taichi, amd, AM4

Morry just wrapped up a review of the ASUS Strix Z270E Gaming while Hardware Canucks have looked at a different motherboard, the ASRock X370 Taichi.  To some, the names might seem similar but they are very different motherboards, the Z270 is for Intel LGA1151 while the X370 is a brand new AMD AM4 board.  If you are just getting into building computers, make very sure you know what you are picking up!

ASRock have chosen a unique pattern to decorate the X370 Taichi and that is before you light up the RGB LEDs on the board.  This is the first AM4 board Hardware Canucks have seen and it introduces a new look to the UEFI as well as some physical changes to the layout compared to the previous generation of AMD motherboards.  Take look for yourself at one of the first reviews of an AM4 board from ASRock.

X370_Taichi_92.jpg

"AMD's Ryzen processors may have found the ultimate motherboard with ASRock's X370 Taichi. From overclocking to stock performance and features, this board seems to have it all!"

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

 

Just can't mount that SD card?

Subject: General Tech | April 4, 2017 - 12:26 PM |
Tagged: sd card, nand reader, DIY, data recovery

Hack a Day have posted a quick quide on how you can recover data from an unmountable SD card in a safe and fairly easy manner.  With the use of sandpaper, solder and enamelled wire you can hook up the VSS and VCC pins to a NAND reader, as long as there is a working controller on the card and no physical shorts.  If you don't happen to have a NAND reader, they link to a project that will show you how to build your own, or you can source it from a supplier.  Once you have read the data you can flash it to another SD card or learn about how to translate the content if you have the tools.  Check out the comments for more and keep an eye out for a follow up article on working with the recovered data.

P4RCC.png

"If you ever find yourself in need of an SD card recovery tool you could always roll your own DIY NAND reader. We will likely give this process a try just to play round with the concept. Hopefully we’ll never need to do SD card recovery!"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Hack a Day

Imagination Technologies Releases Apple GPU Loss Statement

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | April 3, 2017 - 06:18 PM |
Tagged: apple, Imagination Technologies, PowerVR

This morning, Imagination Technologies Group released a press statement announcing that Apple Inc. intends to phase out their technology in 15 to 24 months. Imagination has doubts that Apple could have circumvented every piece of intellectual property, and they have requested proof from Apple that their new solution avoids all patents, trade secrets, and so forth. According to Imagination’s statement, Apple has, thus far, not provided that proof, and they don’t believe Apple’s claims.

imaginationtech-logo.png

On the one hand, it makes sense that Apple would not divulge their own trade secrets to their current-partner, soon-competitor until it’s necessary for them to do so. On the other hand, GPUs, based on previous stories, like the Intel / NVIDIA cross-license six years ago, are still a legal minefield for new players in the industry.

So, in short, Apple says they don’t need Imagination anymore, but Imagination calls bull.

From the financial side of things, Apple is a gigantic chunk of Imagination’s revenue. For the year ending on April 30th, 2016, Apple contributed about £60.7 million GBP (~$75 million USD in today’s currency) to Imagination Technology’s revenue. Over that same period, Imagination Technology’s entire revenue was £120.0 million GBP ($149.8 million USD in today’s currency).

imaginationtech-2017-stockfall.png

To see how losing essentially half of your revenue can damage a company, I’ve included a screenshot of their current stock price (via Google Finance... and I apologize for the tall shot). It must be a bit scary to do business with Apple, given how much revenue they can add and subtract on a moment’s notice. I’m reminded of the iPhone 6 sapphire glass issue, where GT Advanced Technologies took on a half-billion dollars of debt to create sapphire for Apple, only to end up rejected in the end. In that case, though, Apple agreed to absolve the company of its remaining debt after GT liquidated its equipment.

As for Apple’s new GPU? It will be interesting to see how it turns out. Apple already has their own low-level graphics API, Metal, so they might have a lot to gain, although some macOS and iOS applications use OpenGL and OpenGL ES.

We’ll find out in less than two years.

DAS is good, the Noontec-TerraMaster D2-310

Subject: Storage | April 3, 2017 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: Noontec-TerraMaster, DAS, D2-310, usb 3.1

For those who don't want to get into networked storage solutions but still require external storage with more options than a simple USB drive offers, direct attached storage devices are a good solution.  The Noontec-TerraMaster D2-310 is an aluminium shell with two drive bays, connected via Type-C USB 3.1 and offers support for JBOD, RAID 0 and RAID 1 in addition to simply presenting two external disks.  Modders-Inc tested this DAS in two different configurations, a pair of Seagate 4 TB 7200 RPM HDDs as well as a pair of Samsung 850 EVO 256 SSDs.  The performance levels reached their expectations, however the price is a bit higher than the competition; examine their results and description of the device to determine if you feel it is worth the expense.

IMG_0004.jpg

"D2-310 is a direct attached storage device by Noontec-TerraMaster. Most of the market is moving away from DAS devices to network based devices however, there is still a need for simple and fast solutions to store data locally. D2-310 offers USB 3.1 connectivity and supports RAID redundancy in a two bay shell."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: Modders Inc

Vulkans on the Fury Road

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 3, 2017 - 03:15 PM |
Tagged: mad max, linux, kepler, maxwell, pascal, NVIDA, vulkan, opengl

With Vulkan support being added to Mad Max, at least in beta form, Phoronix decided to take advantage of the release to test the performance of a wide variety of NVIDIA cards on the API.  They grabbed over a dozen cards encompassing three different architectures, from the GTX 680 through to the GTX 1080 Ti, so you get a very good look at the change in performance of NVIDIA on Vulkan.  The results are clear, in every case Vulkan was superior to OpenGL and in many cases framerate more than doubled.  Drop by for a look at what some predicted was a DOA API.

image.php_.jpg

"Yesterday game porter firm Feral Interactive released a public beta of Mad Max that features a Vulkan renderer in place of its OpenGL API for graphics rendering on Linux. In addition to Radeon Vulkan numbers, I posted some NVIDIA Mad Max Linux benchmarks with both renderers. Those results were exciting on the few Pascal cards tested so I have now extended that comparison to feature a line-up of 14 NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards from Kepler, Maxwell, and Pascal families while looking at this game's OpenGL vs. Vulkan performance."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: Phoronix

DDR5 is still coming and it won't be a volatile launch

Subject: General Tech | April 3, 2017 - 02:44 PM |
Tagged: ddr5, NVDIMM-P, NVDIMM-F, NVDIMM-N

Move over Optane, DDR5 would like its time in the spotlight as well.  In 2018 we will see the full specifications of DDR5 being released, including a new non-volatile standard called NVDIMM-P.  NVDIMM-P will handle terabytes worth of flash storage, with a latency about 10 times as much as the more standard NVDIMM-N at 100's of nanoseconds which should allow large scale storage with very low latencies and will retain data after being powered down.  Pop by The Register for a deeper look at the non-volatile future of DDR5. 

nvdimm_roadmap.jpg

"The JEDEC Solid State Technology Association has revealed that a full standard for DDR5 memory will arrive in June 2018, along with a new NVDIMM-P standard to house the memory, connect it to computers and protect the contents of RAM."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Unity 5.6 Released with Vulkan Support

Subject: General Tech | April 1, 2017 - 07:54 PM |
Tagged: Unity, pc gaming, vulkan

If you are a perpetual license holder for Unity 5.x, then your last free update has just arrived. Unity 5.6 brings Vulkan for Windows, Linux, and Android. I just installed the new version and checked to see which graphics APIs it uses on Windows when you uncheck the auto box, and the list comprises of DirectX 11 and DirectX 9. It’s possible that auto could be choosing Vulkan, but I’m not going to query which process is loading which DLL under a variety of conditions. If you’re interested in Unity development, go to File -> Build Settings -> Player Settings -> Other Settings and choose the load order of your APIs, using the + button to add one that’s not there by default.

unity-logo-rgb.png

The lighting system should be more impressive, though. In Unreal Engine 4, I’m used to having dynamic lighting until I stop everything and start a lighting bake. When it’s done, I have static lighting until I invalidate it with a change (and the level is set to invalidate light maps on changes). In Unity 5.6’s case, though, it will just slowly replace the light maps as they are calculated, getting progressively higher quality. Since you can notice problems at low quality, you only need to wait as long as it’s required to see the errors, which speeds up development.

In terms of platforms, Unity 5.6 adds Daydream, Cardboard, Nintendo Switch, and WebAssembly.

Unity 5.6 is available now. The preview of Unity 2017, the next version, should arrive this month.

Source: Unity

Mad Catz Files for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Subject: General Tech | April 1, 2017 - 04:04 PM |
Tagged: Mad Catz, bankrupt

Back in September, we reported on the purchase of Saitek, from Mad Catz to Logitech, for $13 million USD in cash. Unfortunately, we now need to report that Mad Catz has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on March 30th, 2017. This level of bankruptcy is strict; it involves shutting down and liquidating. If we see a Mad Catz in the future, it will be someone else who purchased their trademark.

mad-catz-logo.png

When I first heard this news and posted it in our PC Perspective Slack channel, the immediate reaction was, “Is this an early April Fool’s joke?” Apparently not, but it highlights how out-of-the-blue this seemed if they weren’t on your radar. Last year, they shrunk their workforce by about 37%, but the news kind-of flew past us. (A good barometer of company health is that lay-offs around 10% is typical for a restructure. When you start getting past this level, like 15% or more, then it’s okay to be suspicious about whether it’s driven by something other than the stereotypical handbook of corporate management.)

Other than this early tremor, and the New York Stock Exchange delist story from earlier this month, it seemed like the company was just coasting along. Hopefully everyone affected will have no problems finding new employment soon.

Windows 10 Creators Update Accessible on April 5th

Subject: General Tech | March 31, 2017 - 08:53 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, creators update

TL;DR:

  • Windows Update will begin pushing the Creators Update on April 11th
  • Early adopters can, this time, use a tool to force the update as early as April 5th.
  • ISOs are currently available, but marked as Insider Preview.
  • The earlier you update, the more patching you should expect to do, historically.

While Jeremy has already given a brief mention to the news that the Windows 10 Creators Update will begin rolling out on April 11th, Microsoft has just announced that users can opt-in as early as April 5th. If the Anniversary Update is any indication, then the average user should wait until Windows Update devices to passes them the new bits (or longer). In fact, the main reason (besides just liking new things) for forcing an early install should be “it was a convenient time”.

windows-10.png

Of course, as I say this, I’m remembering my experience with the November 2015 update, refreshing Windows Update for two days. I was participating in an Epic Games game jam at the time, and I didn’t want the update to drop right in the middle of my work. It should be any minute now, right? ... Yes, Microsoft giving enthusiasts an explicit opt-in tool is a great step forward. I’m definitely glad they did it. I’m just emphasizing the point that the first few weeks of a Windows feature update are, historically, a bit dicey.

The ISOs for the final build (15063) are already out, but they’re currently on the Windows Insider Program website. I’m not sure if the contents will change at some point, and, if so, when that new ISO will be available for public consumption, so clean installers will probably want to wait a little bit still.

If previous updates are any indication, we’ll be in for about a month or two of updates every week or so until it gradually slows down to “Patch Tuesday”. Or, you can stay on Anniversary Edition (or another OS entirely). Personally, I’ll probably be installing the Creators Update sometime late next week.

Source: Microsoft

Ryzen from the Ashes in a new optimized state

Subject: General Tech | March 31, 2017 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen, ashes of the singularity

[H]ard|OCP takes a look at the new optimizations in the Oxide Game Engine and come up with similar positive results as Ryan.  They tested the CPU by dropping the resolution and quality in AotS and utilizing the CPU focused benchmark, as opposed to the GPU focused benchmark utilized by many sites, including ourselves.  Their tests showed a 16.46% improvement which shows these optimizations do not simply have an effect on graphical performance but also improve CPU calculation performance as well.  Pop by for the full review.

maxresdefault.jpg

"There has been a lot of talk about how AMD's new Ryzen processors have pulled up somewhat short at low resolution gaming. AMD explained that code optimizations from game developers are needed to address this issue, and today is the day that we are supposed to start seeing some of that code in action."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Microsoft won't teach an old, or possibly deceased dog new tricks

Subject: General Tech | March 31, 2017 - 12:45 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, server 2003, security

Microsoft is once again putting sales ahead of customer security, although it is for a 10 to 14 year old operating system which they officially pulled the plug on almost two years ago.  Sadly the end of support did not have any impact on the infrastructure budget allocations of tens of thousands of businesses and so Server 2003 remained in use.  Security researchers spotted an attack last year which exploits a vulnerability in IIS WebDAV which will allow a buffer overflow attack to succeed.  Predictably Microsoft's answer is that you should buy a brand new server OS, with hardware upgrade costs likely to be required as well.  Thankfully there is a patch available from a third party, which you can check out over at The Register

It is a dream, but perhaps this might convince some bean counters that an infrastructure upgrade might be a reasonable investment.

Penny-pinch.jpg

"Microsoft will not patch a critical security hole recently found and exploited in IIS 6 on Windows Server 2003 R2 – the operating system it stopped supporting roughly two years ago."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Today Is Palmer Luckey's Last Day at Facebook / Oculus

Subject: General Tech | March 31, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: oculus vr, Oculus, facebook

Almost exactly two months after ZeniMax won a $500 million USD judgement against Oculus, subject to appeal, of course, co-founder Palmer Luckey will leave the company. As expected, Facebook isn’t commenting on who initiated this departure because of their corporate policy, and it would be inappropriate and unprofessional for a company to do so (except in certain circumstances).

Their official message, via UploadVR, is as follows:

Palmer will be dearly missed. Palmer’s legacy extends far beyond Oculus. His inventive spirit helped kickstart the modern VR revolution and helped build an industry. We’re thankful for everything he did for Oculus and VR, and we wish him all the best.

Facebook.png

Brendan Iribe, another co-founder and former CEO of Oculus VR, is still at the company as far as we know. Last we heard, through his blog post on the company’s website, he’s moved to an internal team that focuses on their PC initiatives: the Rift, research, and computer vision.

For now, it’s somewhat unclear how the company is structured. John Carmack is supposedly still the CTO, but I don’t think Facebook has found anyone to replace Brendan Iribe as CEO yet. Today’s departure leaves another vacant hole, although, according to Tom Forsyth’s joke tweet, his title was “Palmer” and thus his role will likely be retired. Who knows? If your name just happens to be Palmer, then maybe you can apply for it.

Source: UploadVR

Can you break the WASD CODE?

Subject: General Tech | March 30, 2017 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: input, WASD Keyboards, CODE, Cherry MX, mechanical keyboard

WASD Keyboards have introduced the CODE, a keyboard for those that take their key bashing seriously.  The CODE comes in a wide variety of forms, there are 104, 87, and 61 key models and you have a choice of Cherry MX Brown, Blue, Clear, or Green switches, it even includes a USB to PS/2 adapter for those who have a preference for the old connector.  In TechPowerUp's eyes it is unfortunate that they chose sculpted keycaps as it prevents you from swapping in your own favourite ones, unless you switch them all.  Putting aside that quibble, the other customization options which they WASD CODE offers are rather impressive; if you are particular about your typing devices you should check out the full review.

keyboard-6.jpg

"The CODE keyboard is a collaboration between a keyboard manufacturing company and a famous software developer, making it designed with one thing in mind - lots of typing. Offering rare Cherry MX Green and MX Clear switches, and dip switches to toggle between pre-programmed keyboard layouts, the CODE is built to last and built to code on."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: TechPowerUp

Oukitel offers large batteries with bonus smartphone features

Subject: Mobile | March 30, 2017 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: Oukitel, K10000 Pro, K10000 Max, A53

Oukitel is not the most common brand name when comes to smartphones but if you are looking for a device which you can take on the road and depend on it working as long as you do you should take a peek at TechARP's review.  Both of these phones contain 10,000 mAh batteries and the Oukitel K10000 Max is a ruggedized model with a polycarbonate and rubber shell to protect it from moisture and unexpected changes in velocity. They come with Android 7.0 and run ARM A53 chips with graphics powered by a Mali-T860 MP2.  They may not be as pretty as some phones but they will outlast them when being used. 

Pop by to check out the full review.

Oukitel-K10000-Max-Pro-Preview.jpg

"We managed to get our hands on two Oukitel smartphones with 10,000 mAh batteries - the Oukitel K10000 Max and the Oukitel K10000 Pro. Check them out there!"

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

More Mobile Articles

Source: TechARP

Intel is proud of its tiny sized FinFET

Subject: General Tech | March 30, 2017 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: Intel, 14nm, 14 nm FinFET

At Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Day event in San Francisco there was a lot of talk about how Intel's 14nm process technology compares to the 16nm, 14nm, and 10nm offerings of their competitors.  Investors and enthusiasts are curious if Intel can hold their lead in process tech as Samsung seems to be on track to release chips fabbed on 10nm process before Intel will.  Intel rightly pointed out that not all process tech is measured the same way and that pitch measurements give only one part of the picture; meaning Samsung might not actually be smaller than them.

The Tech Report were present at that meeting and have written up an in depth look at what Intel means when they dispute the competitions claims, as well as their rationale behind their belief that the 14nm node still has a lot of life left in it.

14nmcomparo.png

"As process sizes grow smaller and smaller, Intel believes that the true characteristics of those technology advances are being clouded by an over-reliance on a single nanometer figure. At its Technology and Manufacturing Day this week, the company defended its process leadership and proposed fresh metrics that could more accurately describe what a given process is capable of."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Podcast #443 - Thermoelectric Coolers, Storage Reviews, and a StarCraft Remaster. oh my.

Subject: Editorial | March 30, 2017 - 10:40 AM |
Tagged: starcraft, Silverstone, Samsung, podcast, Phonoic, Optane, microSD, Lexar, HEX 2.0, drobo, CORSAIR ONE, ashes of the singularity, aida64, 5N2

PC Perspective Podcast #443 - 03/30/17

Join us for Thermoelectric Coolers, Tiny PSUs, Lots o' Storage, some trips down nostaglia lane, and more!

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

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

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:34:48

 

Source: