NVIDIA, Oculus, Valve, AMD, and Microsoft Collaborate on VirtualLink VR Headset Standard

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 17, 2018 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: VR, VirtualLink, valve, usb 3.1, Type-C, Oculus, nvidia, microsoft, DisplayPort, amd

Today, NVIDIA, Oculus, Valve, AMD, and Microsoft, members of the VirtualLink consortium, have announced the VirtualLink standard, which aims to unify physically connecting Virtual Reality headsets to devices.

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Based upon the physical USB Type-C connector, VirtualLink will combine the bandwidth of DisplayPort 1.4 (32.1Gbit/s) with a USB 3.1 Data connection, and the ability to deliver up to 27W of power.

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VirualLink aims to simplify the setup of current VR Headsets

Given the current "Medusa-like" nature of VR headsets with multiple cables needing to feed video, audio, data, and power to the headset, simplifying to a single cable should provide a measurable benefit to the VR experience. In addition, having a single, unified connector could provide an easier method for third parties to provide wireless solutions, like the current TPCast device.

VirtualLink is an open standard, and the initial specifications can currently be found on the consortium website. 

Source: VirtualLink

Yes Virginia, there is a Nokia ... and there is a new phone

Subject: Mobile | July 16, 2018 - 06:12 PM |
Tagged: nokia 6.1, nokia, HMD, android 8.1

Ah Nokia, what a strange life you have lived.  You went from being the eminent cellphone company, to a cell company that didn't actually make any phones, to being purchased and decimated by Microsoft to being taken over by a Finnish company called HMD Global.  Ars Technica delves into the story behind how all this happened, as well as reviewing the actual phone in this article.  The Nokia 6.1 will cost you ~$270 all told and it's 1080p 5.5" screen is powered by the popular Qualcomm Snapdragon 630, with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of local storage.  There is a microSD slot to expand this and not only is there a Type-C USB port it also has a headphone jack which leaves that USB port open for use.  

Also worth noting is that it runs vanilla Android 8.1, no fancy skins or weird enhancements!

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"Enter HMD's Nokia phones, an entire lineup of cheap smartphones ranging from $100 to $400. HMD recently launched the second generation of its lineup, with phones like the Nokia 2.1, 3.1, and 5.1. We recently spent time with the highest end phone in this series that happens to be one of the few HMD devices for sale in the US: the Nokia 6.1."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

More Mobile Articles

Source: Ars Technica

Redmond phone home

Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2018 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged: Project Andromeda, surface phone, microsoft

If there is one thing you can count on from a Microsoft designed phone, it is confusion and today that has not changed one bit.  There are two conflicting stories, one from the second most Surface phone obsessed human on the planet and one from the head of the Microsoft Surface division.  At The Inquirer, we hear from Brad Sams who interprets comments from Paul Thurrott about Project Andromeda as signalling a delay in the release of the device as it goes back to the design stage.  Their sources feel Microsoft is still actively involved in the design of a phablet of some sort.

The head of Microsoft's Surface division Panos Panay on the other hand, stated there is no push to design a Surface phone, though new form factors are being currently designed.  This is not a direct contradiction, as a tablet optimized for use as a phone that does not bear the name Surface Phone could still be in the works, with no Lumia or Nokia branding.  He did confirm they are continuing work on the other Andromeda, the foldable, dual screen device which we have seen prototypes of. 

Either way, for the next year or so we can be sure we will not have to suffer the existance of a new Surface phone.

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"Microsoft's Surface head Panos Panay confirmed that the company is working on new form factors. When questioned about whether this would include a new Surface Phone, Panay stated that the Surface Phone was not one that they are thinking about at this time. "I wouldn't say that it includes a Surface Phone," Panos answered in the interview. "I think you have to think about where is that unmet need when you're thinking about your product road-map," he replied."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

Bring your own cache to Toshiba's RC100 Host Memory Buffet

Subject: Storage | July 13, 2018 - 03:57 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, RC100, NVMe, M.2, M.2 2242

The wee M.2 2242 form factor of the RC100 means there is no space for a DRAM buffer, which led Toshiba to utilize the Host Memory Buffer feature included in NVMe revision 1.2.  In order to use this feature you must be running Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (or 1709) or the at least the 4.14 Linux kernel.  It commandeers a portion of your system RAM to act as the cache, somewhat less effective than having it on board as The Tech Report's testing shows.  As well it is hampered its PCIe 2x interface, which ensures it falls behind 4x NVMe drives. 

The testing reveal the weaknesses of this design, but it is an interesting implementation of an NVMe featuer not often seen, which is in itself worth taking a look at.

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"Toshiba's RC100 NVMe SSD takes a bold stab at life without DRAM or a full four lanes of PCIe connectivity. Unlike many DRAM-less SSDs, however, the RC100 has a trick up its sleeve with the NVMe protocol's Host Memory Buffer caching feature. Join us to find out whether NVMe and HMB can bolster this entry-level SSD's performance."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

The PC industry is still dead; ignore the sales figures suggesting otherwise!

Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2018 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: pc sales, surprise

For the first time since 2012, both IDC and Gartner agree the market for plug and play PCs are up, with a growth of 2.7%.  As there has not been any huge releases in these past two quarters to drive PC sales, this number is more impressive than it might seem at first glance.  Some of this growth was created from corporate machines being upgraded but not all.  The news is good for those who build and sell PCs; as well as for the enthusiasts as stock of current and past generation parts are used up in these machines.  You can see what the beancounters said over at The Inquirer.

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"This was apparently demonstrated by a solid year-on-year growth of 2.7 per cent and exceeded IDC's forecast of 0.3 per cent growth, marking the strongest year-on-year growth rate in more than six years, when the first quarter of 2012 posted growth of 4.2 per cent"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

PCPer Mailbag #52 - Baby Got Backplate

Subject: Editorial | July 13, 2018 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: video, Ryan Shrout, pcper mailbag

It's time for the PCPer Mailbag, our weekly show where Ryan and the team answer your questions about the tech industry, the latest and greatest GPUs, the process of running a tech review website, and more!

On today's show:

00:49 - Caring for a delidded CPU?
02:47 - APUs with HBM?
05:56 - 4K HDR prices: TVs vs. monitors?
08:19 - What are GPU backplates for?
10:14 - NVIDIA Simultaneous Multi-Projection MIA?
13:21 - Ridiculously cheap SSDs?
17:33 - Autographed Joshtekk prints?
18:26 - Pizza toppings? Aye right!

Want to have your question answered on a future Mailbag? Leave a comment on this post or in the YouTube comments for the latest video. Check out new Mailbag videos each Friday!

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel to make sure you never miss our weekly reviews and podcasts, and please consider supporting PC Perspective via Patreon to help us keep videos like our weekly mailbag coming!

Source: YouTube

Podcast #506 - HTC VIVE Pro, Ryzen V1000, and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 12, 2018 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: podcast, vive pro, V1000, team group, Surface Go, sennheiser, seasonic, SD 7.0, sapphire, ryzen, rx vega, microsoft, m3b, hyperx, htc, gsp 600, flexispot, biostar, 5x5, video

PC Perspective Podcast #506 - 07/12/18

Join us this week for discussion on HTC VIVE Pro, Ryzen V1000, 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

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison

Program length: 1:17:23

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Picks of the Week:
    1. 0:58:15 Ryan: Mario Tennis Aces
    2. 1:00:20 Jeremy: Peak RGB, car underglow coming back next obviously
    3. 1:05:00 Allyn: Mobile Passport / Keep a spare capacitor for your HVAC (Turbo 200)
  4. Closing/outro
 
 
Source:

The MaxTytan rises again, 1250W of Platinum power

Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 12, 2018 - 02:48 PM |
Tagged: modular psu, enermax. MaxTytan, 1250W, 80 Plus Platinum

While most of the world has been focused on the World Cup, [H]ard|OCP have been reviewing power supplies ... a lot of power supplies.  Start off with the biggest of them all, the 1250W Enermax MaxTytan with an 80 Plus Platinum and 12V rails that combined can provide 104A.  As you can see from the picture below, there are an obscene amount of power connectors available, such as 16 SATA and eight 6+2 PCIe cables so you should not have any problems powering your peripherals at all.  Apart from the price, which is a bit above the competition, [H]ard|OCP have no qualms recommending this for a big system build.

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"The MaxTytan is the flagship product in the lineup of Enermax power supplies. This is the largest capacity it builds and promises to deliver excellent efficiency. Semi-fanless features makes sure this PSU stays quiet up to ~70% load. It also has a very unique feature in that it will show you the power wattage being delivered on an LCD panel right on the PSU."

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

CASES & COOLING

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Spectre doesn't stand a ghost of a chance on the new Chrome, nor will your available RAM

Subject: General Tech | July 12, 2018 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: chrome, security, spectre

Chrome's predilection for gobbling up vast amounts of RAM will soon increase to new levels but it is for a very good reason.  Chrome 67 will offer a Site Isolation feature which will protect you against a variety of Spectre attacks.   When you have this feature enabled in Chrome each site would be isolated, with the a single renderer process per page.  This means coss-site iframes and pop-ups will be unable to read data from other pages; in fact a single site may spawn multiple render processes, each running in isolation.

There is of course a cost, The Inquirer was quoted an increase of 10-13% in RAM usage ... so better get a 128GB kit.

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"The new feature basically splits the render process into separate tasks using out-of-process iframes, which makes it difficult for speculative execution exploits like Spectre to snoop on data."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

G-SYNC HDR Monitors see $200 Price Cut at Microcenter

Subject: Displays | July 12, 2018 - 10:45 AM |
Tagged: Predator X27, PG27UQ, hdr, g-sync, asus, acer

This morning, while searching for retail availability of G-SYNC HDR monitors, we came across a sale at Microcenter, already discounting these newly released high-end displays.

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Both the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ (which we reviewed a few weeks ago), and the Acer Predator X27 are available for $1800 at the time of writing, a $200 discount from MSRP.

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In addition to what looks like plenty of stock in our local store, these monitors are also available for the same price from the Microcenter Web Store and able to be shipped anywhere in the US. This is unusual as generally, Microcenter sale prices, like their deep discounts on CPUs, aren't available through their online store.

Obviously, retailers are at their own discretion to discount products, so don't take this as guidance from NVIDIA, Acer, or ASUS as Microcenter seems to be the only retailer offering this price. Still, a 10% price discount on premium products like these, shortly after launch isn't exactly a good sign for sales numbers.

Even at $1,800, we would still say that these monitors are too expensive to recommend, but a 10% discount is nice on what we consider to be the highest quality PC gaming monitor on the market.

Source: Microcenter

Captain Undervolt and the RX Vega 64s

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 11, 2018 - 05:25 PM |
Tagged: RX VEGA 64, amd, undervolting, killing floor 2, wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, Middle-earth: Shadow of War

You may have stumbled across threads on the wild web created by AMD enthusiasts who have been undervolting their Vega cards and are bragging about it.  This will seem counter intuitive to overclockers who regularly increase the voltage their GPU will accept in order to increase the frequencies on those cards.  There is a method to this madness, and it is not simply that they are looking to save on power bills.  Overclockers Club investigates the methods used and the performance effect it has on the Vega 64 in several modern titles in their latest GPU review.

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"Across all three games we saw a noticeable drop in power use when undervolting and not limiting the frame rate, or using a high limit. This reduction in power use is important as it improves the efficiency of the RX Vega 64 and it allows increased clock speeds with the reduction of thermal throttling."

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

Graphics Cards

 

The Crew 2 in 4K

Subject: General Tech | July 11, 2018 - 03:54 PM |
Tagged: gaming, the crew 2, consolitis

If there is one saving grace for The Crew 2's 60fps limit, it is that even the mighty GTX 1080 Ti cannot maintain 60fps at 4k with all the bells and whistles turned on.  When [H]ard|OCP disabled the custom Contact Hardening Soft Shadows and dropped from SSAO+ to SSAO the Ti could provide good performance but the plain GTX 1080 and Vega 64 required the settings be dropped to medium.  At 1440p and below even the GTX 1070 and Vega 56 could handle Ultra settings.

That said, the word from [H] is that this game doesn't look as good as the original, even at 4k, as they expand on in their full review.

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"We take The Crew 2 and evaluate ten of today’s latest GPUs in the game. We will find what the highest playable settings are, how video cards compare, and how specific graphics features compare in performance. We will find the best value for gaming, and what graphics settings work best. Is this game worth it, or a graphical flop?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Thou shalt not have unapproved fun on thy Nintendo Switch

Subject: General Tech | July 11, 2018 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, hack

If you are looking at picking up a Nintendo Swich for the purpose of installing a boot loader so you can play with the NVIDIA Tegra inside you might want to look for a used model.  Nintendo have patched the ROM on new devices to block USB recovery mode overflow errors and coldboot exploits such as Fusée Gelée, preventing you from unapproved entertainment.  Ars Technica offers details on the software versions which will prevent loading your own code, as well as the theory that the new Mariko Tegra may be preventing this at a hardware level in the newest devices.

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"These boot-ROM iPatches are relatively simple for Nintendo to implement in the factory when the system is manufactured, but they are impossible to load onto the tens of millions of Switch units that had already been sold before the exploit was made public."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Ars Technica

Unity 2018.2 Released

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2018 - 10:35 PM |
Tagged: Unity, pc gaming

The second Unity update of 2018 has been published to their website today. This version continues their work on Scriptable Render Pipelines, including their own Lightweight Render Pipeline (LWRP) and High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) implementations. Both are still considered a preview, but the aim is to replace the standard shader with two optimized graphics pipelines, one tuned for performance (mobile, VR, and extra performance on higher-end devices) and one tuned for high-end effects (multiple aligned transparent objects, reflections, etc.).

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This splits Unity’s customer base from “one-size-fits-all-sort-of” to two sizes, although developers can also create their own scriptable render pipeline. This will let them tune the graphics pipeline to whatever their game is, although it seems to mean that they will need to make a lot of their own graphics technologies if they do. (This seems clearly targeted at mid- to large-sized studios, but that’s just my opinion.) Of course, they can also continue to use the standard shader, but some Unity talks has already suggested that not all new features will come to the old pipeline.

2018.2 also continues development of the C# Job System, ECS design pattern, and their Burst compiler. A separate announcement was made about the Burst compiler – that it is now available as an official preview package.

Source: Unity

Boron arsenide; cool as diamonds but somewhat less expensive

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2018 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: Boron arsenide, nifty

Thermal interface material boffins will expound the benefits of using diamond to improve the thermal conductivity of pastes and would go so far as to suggest they should be included in chip design as a way to move heat around.  They are not wrong, as diamond does offer the best thermal conductivity but it has some drawbacks; namely the price of the high quality crystal required to cool effectively.  Flaws in the diamond will prevent heat being conducted efficiently and strangely the less flaws the more expensive the diamond.

Researchers have come up with a new way to create boron arsenide crystals and have found that the thermal conductivity of these crystals approaches that of diamond and could theoretically cost significantly less.  The conductivity of the crystals they have fabricated are roughly twice that of the copper or silicon carbide commonly used now.  Even more interesting is that it is a semiconductor with a bandgap comparable to silicon, around 1.5 eV as well as having comparable thermal expansion coefficients. 

Perhaps this material might see us being to consider larger 3D wafer designs?  Check out more at Physics World.

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"Researchers predicted that BAs should have a theoretical thermal conductivity as high as that of diamond (2200 W/m/K), which is the best heat conductor known, back in 2013. However, to reach this high value, high quality crystals are needed since defects and impurities dramatically degrade thermal properties."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Next up in rejected supervillans; the Cougar Revenger who can push mice to 2 KHz and beyond

Subject: General Tech | July 9, 2018 - 05:12 PM |
Tagged: Cougar, Revenger S, gaming mouse, PMW3360, input

Cougar have done some interesting things behind the scenes with their new Revenger S mouse, which can be set to a reporting rate of 2 KHz, doubling USB's 1 KHz polling rate.  This is quite the trick, as without modifying how your motherboard's USB works the polling rate will remain at 1KHz.  Cougar's mouse reports twice every millisecond, however it is not spaced out as you might expect, instead the mouse seems to report at 900μs and 100μs with a packet of 64 bytes, as opposed to 8 bytes.  The Tech Report delve into the technology in their review as well as offering insight into the difference in use with the mouse at 1K and at 2K report rates; check it for yourself here.

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"Cougar's Revenger S gaming mouse has a top-shelf Pixart PMW3360 optical sensor with a twist: a claimed 2-KHz polling rate for lower latency in critical moments. We dug in to see just how Cougar achieved this unusual figure and what it means for the gaming experience."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Classical music, revisiting Logitech's Artemis Spectrum G933

Subject: General Tech | July 9, 2018 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: logitech, Artemis Spectrum G933, wireless headset, audio

As [H]ard|OCP is quick to point out, the Artemis Spectrum G933 is not new to the market, but has seen improvements since its release.  The issues some users experienced when using it with a USB connection are gone and it now supports Frag Harder Disco Lights instead of just the original RGB software for those whom this interests.  For around $100 it is less expensive than higher end wireless devices, with the expected effect on audio quality.   That said, there are many for whom audiophile quality is lost on, either because of the use the headphones are put to or perhaps a few too many concerts in their past.  If you are shopping for a just good enough headset that offers wired and wireless connectivity you should take a peek.

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"In our recent discussions about wireless headsets, the Logitech G933 has come up lately as one of the headsets to surely be on your $100 short list. So we bought a set, and have done a good bit gaming, movie watching, and music listening this past week and have a good hold on what the G933 is all about. "

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Just a cut-power Ryzen in a low-budget land

Subject: General Tech | July 9, 2018 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: ryzen, ryzen 5 2600E, ryzen 7 2700E

Two of AMD's lower power Ryzen models have appeared online, with specifications, a wee bit before expected.  The 2600E and 2700E bear many of the same specifics as their higher powered brethren, with significantly reduced TDP of 45W which results in lower base frequencies.   The Ryzen 5 2600E will still sport six cores and 12 threads but the base frequency is 0.5GHz lower than the 2600X at 3.1GHz while the Ryzen 7 2700E's eight cores and 16 threads drop 1.1GHz to a base 2.8GHz.  Sadly the rumours did not reveal details about the boost clock, so for now that remains pure speculation.

The Inquirer has posted links to the leak as well as talk about EPYC.

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"DETAILS OF AMD's incoming Ryzen 5 2600E and Ryzen 7 2700E CPUs have unsurprisingly surfaced online, confirming that the low-power chips will take on Intel's Core 'T' series of microprocessors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Mozilla, Opera, and Google Pull Malicious Extension

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2018 - 09:12 PM |
Tagged: Opera, mozilla, google, firefox, chrome

I don’t think this should surprise anyone, but it’s good to report on none-the-less. There was a popular browser extension, called Stylish, that allowed users to customize the pages that they visit, and share those customizations with their friends. It’s a cool concept, but it was later sold to another company. That new owner changed the extension to monitor its users.

Mozilla, Opera, and Google slapped it across the jaw with a banhammer.

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If you go to Mozilla’s Firefox Add-ons site, Opera's Add-ons site, or Google’s Chrome Web Store, you will get a 404. If you already installed the extension, it will be removed from your browser. As such, you probably don’t need to worry about it, because the browser vendors went DEFCON 1 on it.

But just in case you haven’t yet got the kill signal (because you’re behind a limited VPN or something) be sure to remove “Stylish” from your browser.

This also raises the point about curated app stores: review isn't perfect. Sometimes malicious software can go unnoticed for years. It's best not to get too complacent.

Source: Sophos

Banning Talos worship might be worth it, POWER9 still lags behind

Subject: Processors | July 6, 2018 - 03:16 PM |
Tagged: IBM, power9, talos 2, EPYC, xeon

Phoronix were recently given access to three servers running three different POWER9 Talos II configurations and compared them to EPYC and Xeon.  On paper these systems look amazing, thanks to the architecture supporting four threads per core; they tested  a dual 4-core Talos II system, a Talos II Lite with a single 22-core CPU and a Talos II with dual 18-core processors with thread counts of 32, 88, and 144 respectively. 

There were certainly usage scenarios where the dual 18 core system could outpace even the EPYC 7601 but could not surpass the dual Xeon Gold 6138 system.  The review covers a fair amount of benchmarks and configurations but doesn't begin to scratch the surface of wide variety of server configurations you need to consider before abandoning POWER9 altogether but the key metric, performance per dollar, shows these architecture solidly in the middle of the pack.

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"Back in April we were able to run some IBM POWER9 benchmarks with remote access to the open-source friendly Talos II systems by Raptor Computer Systems. We were recently allowed remote access again to a few different configurations of this libre hardware with three different POWER9 processor combinations. Here are those latest benchmarks compared to Intel Xeon and AMD EPYC server processors."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: Phoronix