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Subject: General Tech | September 7, 2016 - 01:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, onward, VR, htc vive, Downpour Interactive
Next up in [H]ard|OCP's series of VR game testing is Downpour Interactive's Onward, currently in early access and only available on the HTC Vive. As with previous testing this is not about benchmarking the greatest GPU for the game but focuses on the experience you will have playing the game on different GPUs. Frames dropping out or lagging on a monitor is mildly annoying but can completely ruin your day when using a VR headset. This one turned out to be quite a challenge, even the GTX 1080 had significant frame reproductions.
"Downpour Interactive is the company behind the Early Access Game, Onward. It is a self-proclaimed Mil-Sim shooter title. The big thing about this is it looks to be the first VR game that has solid support for multiplayer missions. HTC Vive currently required. What video card do we need this time around for best performance?"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Meet Titanfall 2’s New Titans @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Tricking Duck Hunt to See A Modern LCD TV as CRT @ Hack a Day
- Cyberpunk 2077 development team is CD Projekt's biggest yet @ HEXUS
- Cool Movement Tricks In Throwback Arena FPS Toxikk @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour arrives on 11th Oct @ HEXUS
- Do It Yourself With The Humble GameMaker Bundle @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech | September 7, 2016 - 12:25 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: iot, security, ssh, idiots
The research that SEC Consult has conducted shows that almost half of all IoT devices, from your router straight through to devices in hospitals and factories use public SSH host keys and X.509 certificates. Since these keys are known far and wide it is depressingly easy to break the encryption on any communications from these devices and harvest passwords and other data or even to change the contents of that package on the fly. Imagine a heart monitor which reports a strong heartbeat long after the patient has died or a large machine in a power plant being given different readings to allow it to exceed safety margins and destroy itself. This is only getting worse, as many companies creating these IoT devices are either trying to save money by using packaged software or in some cases are totally ignorant of the effect of reusing keys.
If you can, change your keys to be device specific and isolate them on your network. As The Register unhappily points out, this is not something your average consumer or purchasing department is aware of, let alone proficient enough to change keys on their devices.
"Millions of internet-facing devices – from home broadband routers to industrial equipment – are still sharing well-known private keys for encrypting their communications."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Apple lists the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus on its own bloody website @ The Inquirer
- AMD unwraps its seventh-generation desktop APUs and AM4 platform @
- Testing the Right Things with Docker @ Linux.com
- Linux creator Torvalds has another expletive-filled rant at the community @ The Inquirer
- FCC goes over the top again to battle America's cable-box rip-off @ The Register
- US tech college ITT is not pining for the fjords. It is no more. It has gone and met its maker @ The Register
- Nitro Concepts E200 Race Chair @ Kitguru
- The Affordable honor 5A Smartphone Revealed @ Tech ARP
- Anonabox Pro TOR VPN Router Review @ OCC
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 6, 2016 - 09:28 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: antec, mini ITX, SFF, water cooling, razer, PAX
At PAX West, Antec, in a partnership with Razer, showed off a new small form factor case for Mini ITX systems called the Antec Cube – Designed By Razer. The new case is an angular forward leaning design with an all-black finish complemented by green LEDs and darkened acrylic windows on the sides and top. It sports a green power button, green triple snake Razer logo, front IO on the top edge of the front panel with green USB 3.0 ports, and green LED under-glow strips on the left and right bottom sides. Needless to say, this is the case for fans of the color green (heh).
Internally, the Antec Cube – Designed By Razer (Why must this have such a long name?) can accommodate Mini ITX motherboards, ATX power supplies, three expansion slots, one 3.5” hard drive, and up to four 2.5” drives. It has decent component support with room for GPUs up to 350mm (~13.77”) with front intake fans removed and CPU coolers up to 190mm (~7.48”) tall. The motherboard is installed upside down so GPUs will be closest to the top of the case. The power supply is hidden in the bottom of the case by a shroud that allows you to hide your rats nest of cables (heh) as well.
As for cooling, the small form factor case has support for up to a 140mm rear exhaust fan and two 120mm intake fans in the front (or a 240mm water cooling radiator).
I think that this case would be a good fit for a custom water cooling loop as an air cooled GPU may have a hard time being up top with little ventilation, especially if it is not of the blower style design and is dumping heat out into the top of the case. Also, it would look cooler (heh). Actually, Antec showed off a water cooled system using the case at PAX West which you can see in this video thanks to Steve Burke over at Gamer’s Nexus who was at the show. It does have some nice features including a removable PSU dust filter and a new click system for the side panels that reportedly make them easy to remove and install.
The case will be sold individually as well as in pre-built systems in the US while in China it will be sold exclusively with pre-built PCs from OEMs. Production is slated to begin next month with availability by the end of the year. There is no word yet on pricing, unfortunately.
What do you think about the new SFF case? And those green LEDs?
Subject: General Tech | September 6, 2016 - 05:58 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, epic games, valve, htc, vr funhouse, vive
So Epic Games, NVIDIA, and HTC (with Valve) are hosting a game jam aboard the MS Bleichen ship in Hamburg, Germany. The purpose is to develop mods for VR Funhouse. Nothing says a fun VR experience like room-scale experiences on a boat. Hopefully it will be firmly docked to prevent judges from getting sea-sick... or not. Maybe that will make the carnival games even better?
The jam takes place between September 24th and September 26th. Epic, NVIDIA, and Valve will be donating prizes to the event. Tickets cost 16.67 Euros, although I'm guessing that doesn't include food or a place to sleep -- they don't say one way or the other. The general public can also buy tickets for the last day, to experience the creations.
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 6, 2016 - 05:45 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, pascal, gtx 1050, geforce
I don't know why people insist on encoding screenshots from form-based windows in JPEG. You have very little color variation outside of text, which is typically thin and high-contrast from its surroundings. JPEG's Fourier Transform will cause rippling artifacts in the background, which should be solid color, and will almost definitely have a larger file size. Please, everyone, at least check to see how big a PNG will be before encoding it as JPEG. (In case you notice that I encoded it in JPEG too, that's because re-compressing JPEG artifacts makes PNG's file-size blow up, forcing me to actually need to use JPEG.)
It also makes it a bit more difficult to tell whether a screenshot has been manipulated, because the hitches make everything look suspect. Regardless, BenchLife claims to have a leaked GPU-Z result for the GeForce GTX 1050. They claim that it will be using the GP107 die at 75W, although the screenshot claims neither of these. If true, this means that it will not be a further cut-down version of GP106, as seen in the two GTX 1060 parts, which would explain a little bit why they wanted both of them to remain in the 1060 level of branding. (Although why they didn't call the 6GB version the 1060 Ti is beyond me.)
What the screenshot does suggest, though, is that it will have 4GB of GDDR5 memory, on a 128-bit bus. It will have 768 shaders, the same as the GTX 950, although clocked about 15% higher (boost vs boost) and 15W lower, bringing it back into the range of PCIe bus power (75W). That doesn't mean that it will not have a six-pin external power connector, but that could be the case, like the 750 Ti.
This would give it about 2.1 TeraFLOPs of performance, which is on part with the GeForce GTX 660 from a few generations ago, as well as the RX 460, which is also 75W TDP.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 6, 2016 - 05:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: corsair, Corsair H5 SF, AIO, water cooler, SFF
You can't judge a system by it's cover anymore, tiny systems that would appear to be an HTPC could in fact be a higher end gaming system thanks to the number of SFF enthusiast class boards released over the past year. Indeed one of the biggest hurdles system builders face is fitting appropriate cooling into the small cases. Corsair released their H5 SF all in one watercooler at the beginning of the year and we have seen several reviews of the uniquely shaped cooler. The H5 SF will cool your CPU but it does come with a noise penalty thanks to the fan. If you haven't seen this cooler before, or are just in need of a refresher you can pop by Techgage as they have just completed a review of this cooler.
"Cooling options for those building or upgrading an itty bitty mini-ITX system are few and far between, and even less so if liquid cooling is a must. Fear not small form factor lovers, Corsair is here to save the day with the H5 SF, the mightiest of all mini all-in-one liquid cool ers, so read on to see if it can keep up with today’s pint sized powerhouses."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Swiftech H240 X2 CPU Liquid Cooling System @ NikKTech
- Thermaltake Core G3 Case @ Kitguru
- SilverStone PM01 Gaming @ Modders-Inc
- Corsair Carbide Air 740 Cube Chassis @ Guru of 3D
Subject: Processors | September 6, 2016 - 03:05 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Zen, single thread, geekbench, amd
Over the holiday weekend a leaked Geekbench benchmark result on an engineering sample AMD Zen processor got tech nerds talking. Other than the showcase that AMD presented a couple weeks back using the Blender render engine, the only information we have on performance claims come from AMD touting a "40% IPC increase" over the latest Bulldozer derivative.
The results from Geekbench show performance from a two physical processor system and a total of 64 cores running at 1.44 GHz. Obviously that clock speed is exceptionally low; AMD demoed Summit Ridge running at 3.0 GHz in the showcase mentioned above. But this does give us an interesting data point with which to do some performance extrapolation. If we assume perfect clock speed scaling, we can guess at performance levels that AMD Zen might see at various clocks.
I needed a quick comparison point and found this Geekbench result from a Xeon E7-8857 v2 running at 3.6 GHz. That is an Ivy Bridge based architecture and though the system has 48 cores, we are only going to a look at single threaded results to focus on the IPC story.
Obviously there are a ton of caveats with looking at data like this. It's possible that AMD Zen platform was running in a very sub-optimal condition. It's possible that the BIOS and motherboard weren't fully cache aware (though I would hope that wouldn't be the case this late in the game). It's possible that the Linux OS was somehow holding back performance of the Zen architecture and needs update. There are many reasons why you shouldn't consider this data a final decision yet; but that doesn't make it any less interesting to see.
In the two graphs below I divide the collection of single threaded results from Geekbench into two halves and there are three data points for each benchmark. The blue line represents the Xeon Ivy Bridge processor running at 3.6 GHz. The light green line shows the results from the AMD Zen processor running at 1.44 GHz as reported by Geekbench. The dark green line shows an extrapolated AMD Zen performance result with perfect scaling by frequency.
Subject: Storage | September 6, 2016 - 02:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: crucial, MX300, 1050GB, sata ssd, M.2, 88SS1074, tlc
The MX300 series utilizes Micron 384G-bit, 32 tier floating gate, 3D TLC NAND which means that the capacities are a little different than we are used to. 1050GB is an odd number, the 978GB available after formatting even more so, but in the end the actual number matters less than the performance. The SSD Review tested this drive which uses a four channel Micron 88SS1074 controller and sports eight NAND packages with Micron LPDDR3 1333MHz DRAM for a cache. They tested a single drive as well as setting up two in RAID 0, the single drive could hit 535MB/s read and 516MB/s write and RAID 0 did indeed come close to doubling that. Drop by to see their full results.
"Due to the new 384G-bit TLC 3D NAND, the MX300 line up is now offered in 275GB, 525GB, 750GB, 1050GB, and 2TB options. From this announcement, the 2TB option intrigued us the most, however, they are still unavailable, so we opted to get two 1050GB models for today's review."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Toshiba HK4E Enterprise @ The SSD Review
- Transcend ESD400 Portable USB3 SSD @ Benchmark Reviews
- Seagate IronWolf 10TB HDD @ Kitguru
- ASUSTOR AS6208T NAS Server @ NikKTech
- QNAP TVS-682T 6-Bay Thunderbolt NAS @ techPowerUp
Subject: General Tech | September 6, 2016 - 01:07 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: hdmi, usb type-c, HDMI 1.4b
HDMI Licensing have agreed to allow a single cord converter that converts HDMI 1.4b to USB Type-C, no additional dongle required. The HDMI Alt Mode will support all the features of the new HDMI standard, including 4k resolution and an audio return channel. That will mean any computer, tablet or other device with Type-C out can be plugged into an HDMI port on an external display with a single cord, no additional dongles or other hassles. The Register does point out one small defect, the HDMI port is not reversible so you will still have to turn it three times before it will plug in.
"HDMI Licensing, the administrator of the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) spec, has decided that the time has come to do away with dongles and given the thumb's up to USB-C."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Adobe Flash goes crawling back to Linux for some security @ The Inquirer
- The New AMD Socket AM4 Chipsets Revealed @ Tech ARP
- The 7th Generation AMD A-Series Desktop APUs @ Tech ARP
- The survivors: Intel's Apollo Lake netbook CPUs stagger from Goldmont bloodbath @ The Register
- A Review Of The Zmodo Pivot Smart Camera Security Solution @ Techgage
- Netflix Finds x265 20% More Efficient Than VP9 @ Slashdot
- What To Expect from Google Home @ Hardware Secrets
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 6, 2016 - 02:53 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: radeon, firepro, amd
AMD is apparently interested in supporting open-source, professional graphics. For instance, the Blender Foundation is interviewing potential hires based on a potential deal with the CPU and graphics vendor. They have also open-sourced a bunch of technologies through their GPUOpen Initiative, such as the Radeon Rays (formerly FireRays) library.
This time, at IFA 2016, they released the Radeon ProRender, which used to be called FireRender. This is a plug-in for multiple 3D applications to render high-quality, raytraced images. The open-source, third-party renderer is currently available for 3D Studio Max, in beta for Maya, Rhinoceros, and Solidworks, and coming soon for Blender. While Cycles is pretty good, the potential for cross-pollination is interesting for the future of open 3D development.
We can't go wrong with more options.
Subject: General Tech | September 5, 2016 - 07:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: razerzone, Razer Chroma, razer, Ornata, Mecha-Membrane, keyboard, gaming
Razer has annouced a new line of gaming keyboards called Ornata, which feature the company's "Razer Mecha-Membrane" technology, which is described as a cross between membrane, and mechanical-switch keyboards.
"Designed to combine the most desirable traits of membrane rubber dome design with the merits of mechanical keyboard technology, the Razer Mecha-Membrane delivers both a soft, cushioned touch and a crisp, tactile click with each keystroke.
Traditionally, users choose membrane rubber dome keyboards for comfort, while mechanical switches are favored for fast actuations and distinct tactile feedback. The Razer Mecha-Membrane is a unique mid-height keycap hybrid that provides a comfortable and efficient typing experience unlike any key type on the market."
Two versions will be available, beginning with the Razer Ornata Chroma, which offers individually-backlit keys with Razer Chroma RGB color effects.
"Gamers can choose from 16.8 million colors and a variety of effects. Custom settings can be created using the Razer Synapse software platform and shared with millions of other Razer software users via the Razer Chroma Workshop. In-game Razer Chroma lighting profiles are also integrated into popular game titles, including “Overwatch,” "Call of Duty®: Black Ops III," "Blade and Soul" and more."
The second version is the Razer Ornata, which does not include Chroma effects, instead offering green backlighting behind the keys.
The Razer Ornata Chroma is priced at $99.99, with the Razer Ornata priced at $79.99. Both keyboards are available immediately at the company's razerzone.com store, with worldwide availablity slated for October.
Full press release after the break.
Subject: Systems | September 3, 2016 - 12:10 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: razer, blade, blade stealth, kaby lake, pascal
The Razer Blade and the Razer Blade Stealth seem to be quite different in their intended usage. The regular model is slightly more expensive than its sibling, but it includes a quad-core (eight thread) Skylake processor and an NVIDIA GTX 1060. The Stealth model, on the other hand, uses a Kaby Lake (the successor to Skylake) dual-core (four thread) processor, and it uses the Intel HD Graphics 620 iGPU instead of adding a discrete part from AMD or NVIDIA.
The Stealth model weighs about 2.84 lbs, while the regular model is (relatively) much more heavy at 4.1 - 4.3 lbs, depending on the user's choice of screen. The extra weight is likely due in part to the much larger battery, which is needed to power the discrete GPU and last-generation quad-core CPU. Razer claims that the Stealth's 53.6 Wh battery will power the device for 9 hours. They do not seem to make any claims about how long the non-Stealth's 70Wh battery will last. Granted, that would depend on workload anyway.
This is where the interesting choice begins. Both devices are compatible with the Razer Core, which allows externally-attached desktop GPUs to be plugged into Razer laptops. If you look at their website design, the Razer Blade Stealth promotes the Core more prominently, even including a “Buy Now” button for it on the header. They also advertise 100% AdobeRGB color support on the Stealth, which is useful for graphics designers because it can be calibrated to either sRGB (web and video) or print (magazines) color spaces.
To me, the Stealth seems more for a user who wants to bring their laptop to work (or school) on a daily basis, and possibly plug it into a discrete GPU when they get home. Alternatively, the Razer Blade without a suffix is for someone who wants a strong, powerful PC that, while not as fast as a full desktop, is decently portable and even VR ready without external graphics. The higher resolution choices, despite the slower internal graphics, also suggests that the Stealth is more business, while the Blade is more gaming.
Before we go, Razer has also included a license of Fruity Loops Studio 12 Producer Edition. This is a popular piece of software that is used to create music by layering individual instruments and tracks. Even if you license Adobe Creative Cloud, this is one of the areas that, while Audition technically can overlap with, it's really not designed to. Instead, think GarageBand.
The Razer Blade Stealth is available now, from $999.99 (128GB QHD) to $1999.00 (1TB 4K).
The Razer Blade is also available now, from $1799.99 (256GB 1080p) to $2699.99 (1TB QHD+).
Subject: Mobile | September 2, 2016 - 06:09 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy note 7
According to Samsung, there have been 35 reported cases of defective Galaxy Note 7 batteries. In response, they will voluntarily replace all existing Galaxy Note 7 devices “over the coming weeks”. They have also stopped selling the devices, presumably, because they are capable of fixing the devices for existing customers, until the stock can be replaced.
This comes after reports that Galaxy Note 7 phones have been either catching fire or exploding. Some outlets are claiming that Samsung has confirmed 35 cases of fire or explosion, but, unless these outlets have more information than on the public statement, Samsung has only confirmed 35 complaints, and it's possible that other, related issues were included in that tally (like feeling excessively hot).
They did not mention a specific way for Galaxy Note 7 owners to request a replacement in their press release, but their technical support contact information is available here. I assume that they will point you in the right direction.
Subject: Memory | September 2, 2016 - 05:24 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: gskill, ddr4
Judging by a quick scan of Newegg USA, G.SKILL is pretty much alone in bringing 8GB DIMMs to speeds above DDR4-3733. They already have a 2x8GB kit in the DDR4-4000 and DDR4-4133 ranges, but they're now introducing a 4x8GB kit into the DDR4-3866 classification. The chip is rated at CL18-19-19-39 when supplied with 1.35V. This is much higher voltage than slower sticks, but, as far as I can tell, pretty good at that speed. It also supports XMP 2.0 to automatically configure your BIOS, which is a bonus.
Granted, I cannot think of too many situations where four channels of high-bandwidth memory will give you any real benefits, apart from obviously a narrow list of overclocking record categories. Current DDR4-capable processors can do up to 16GB DIMMs. Personally, I'd tend to err on the side of slower, denser sticks of RAM. I'm more concerned about leaving everything I want in memory, versus any potential bottlenecks I might introduce in giving my CPU work. That's just me, though. If you have the need for high-bandwidth, quad-channel, DDR4 memory, then here you go.
Pricing has not yet been announced. That said, a 2x8GB DDR4-4000 (the next category up) of the same brand can be found for around $190 USD. 2x8GB DDR4-4133 (the next category above that) is about $220 USD. While those kits contain half the sticks, 2 vs 4, the new kit might be slightly cheaper per stick than these. That's just speculation, though, until retailers show their stock.
Subject: General Tech | September 2, 2016 - 12:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: FLOPPYFlash, Compact Flash
It may be masochism or an extremely dated OS or piece of software you support but there are some people out there still using 3.5" floppy disks. Trying to source new disks which are not yet dead to replace the ones that die on you will be a frustrating experience but there is hope thanks to Solid State Disks Ltd. Their FLOPPYFlash drives use Compact Flash as their storage medium and connect to your machine using the old 34 pin floppy disk ribbon cable, or even the rarer 26 pin or 34 pin slim and Shugart connections. You can also set your data rates, 125 and 500 Kbit/s being the norm; which should successfully convince your machine it is reading from its old pal, but you will know better and likely sleep better at night.
"Floppy disk sales have, well, flopped but there are still masses of PCs and old embedded PC-based systems out there with floppy disk slots and drives. Now this near-dead space can be made usable again, with a 32GB FLOPPYFlash drive from Solid State Disks Ltd."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The 7th Generation Intel Core Processor Tech Briefing @ Tech ARP
- New Intel and AMD Chips Will Only Support Windows 10 @ Slashdot
- Windows 10 now rules the weekend, taking over from Windows 7 @ The Register
- Microsoft To Add Flux Like Night Mode In Windows 10, Rendering 3rd-Party App's Existence Useless @ Slashdot
- Patch now: Apple emits fix for Pegasus spyware bugs in OS X, Safari @ The Register
- AMD discloses amendment to deal with Globalfoundries @ DigiTimes
- Samsung recalls Galaxy Note 7 after reports of fires and explosions @ The Inquirer
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 2, 2016 - 12:00 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: atx, enclosure, corsair, case, carbide, Air 740, dual-chamber, airflow, cooling
Corsair has announced a new member of the Carbide Air family with the new 740, and this dual-chamber case is all about airflow.
A follow-up to the Carbide Air 540, the 740 is a cube-like design, and a fairly roomy 16.8 x 13.4 x 20.1 inches in size. There's plenty of internal room for large components, and tons of room for cooling. How much room? Corsair says the Carbide Air 740 can hold "up to eight 120mm or seven 140mm fans, a 240mm/280mm top radiator, 240mm/280mm floor radiator, and 240/280/360mm front radiator – all at once."
Specifications from Corsair:
- Dual-chamber Direct Airflow Path design: Utilizes dual-chambers to deliver cooler air to your CPU, graphics cards, motherboard, memory, and other PCI-E components without your drives or power supply getting in the way.
- Industrial-style ergonomics and space-saving internal design: Offers massive internal volume by moving the power supply and drive bays into a separate chamber.
- Includes three custom Air Series AF140L intake and exhaust fans: Based on the award-winning AF140, the included fans provide great airflow performance at lower noise levels than typical case fans.
- Amazing cooling expansion room: For up to eight 120mm or seven 140mm fans, a 240mm/280mm top radiator, 240mm/280mm floor radiator, and 240/280/360mm front radiator – all at once.
- 8 x Expansion slots: Can house up to 4 graphics cards.
- I/O Port: 2 x USB 3.0, headphone and mic.
- Dimensions: 426mm x 340mm x 510mm
Corsair has priced the Carbide Air at $149.99, and it's available now.
- Stay tuned as we will have a review of this new Corsair Carbide Air 740 enclosure soon!
Full press release after the break.
Subject: Processors | September 2, 2016 - 01:39 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: IBM, power9, power 3.0, 14nm, global foundries, hot chips
Earlier this month at the Hot Chips symposium, IBM revealed details on its upcoming Power9 processors and architecture. The new chips are aimed squarely at the data center and will be used for massive number crunching in big data and scientific applications in servers and supercomputer nodes.
Power9 is a big play from Big Blue, and will help the company expand its precense in the Intel-ruled datacenter market. Power9 processors are due out in 2018 and will be fabricated at Global Foundries on a 14nm HP FinFET process. The chips feature eight billion transistors and utilize an “execution slice microarchitecture” that lets IBM combine “slices” of fixed, floating point, and SIMD hardware into cores that support various levels of threading. Specifically, 2 slices make an SMT4 core and 4 slices make an SMT8 core. IBM will have Power9 processors with 24 SMT4 cores or 12 SMT8 cores (more on that later). Further, Power9 is IBM’s first processor to support its Power 3.0 instruction set.
According to IBM, its Power9 processors are between 50% to 125% faster than the previous generation Power8 CPUs depending on the application tested. The performance improvement is thanks to a doubling of the number of cores as well as a number of other smaller improvements including:
- A 5 cycle shorter pipeline versus Power8
- A single instruction random number generator (RNG)
- Hardware assisted garbage collection for interpreted languages (e.g. Java)
- New interrupt architecture
- 128-bit quad precision floating point and decimal math support
- Important for finance and security markets, massive databases and money math.
- IEEE 754
- CAPI 2.0 and NVLink support
- Hardware accelerators for encryption and compression
The Power9 processor features 120 MB of direct attached eDRAM that acts as an L3 cache (256 GB/s). The chips offer up 7TB/s of aggregate fabric bandwidth which certainly sounds impressive but that is a number with everything added together. With that said, there is a lot going on under the hood. Power9 supports 48 lanes of PCI-E 4.0 (2 GB/s per lane per direction), 48 lanes of proprietary 25Gbps accelerator lanes – these will be used for NVLink 2.0 to connect to NVIDIA GPUs as well as to connect to FPGAs, ASICs, and other accelerators or new memory technologies using CAPI 2.0 (Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface) – , and four 16Gbps SMP links (NUMA) used to combine four quad socket Power9 boards into a single 16 socket “cluster.”
These are processors that are built to scale and tackle the big data problems. In fact, not only is Google interested in Power9 to power its services, but the US Department of Energy will be building two supercomputers using IBM’s Power9 CPUs and NVIDI’s Volta GPUs. Summit and Sierra will offer between 100 to 300 Petaflops of computer power and will be installed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory respectively. There, some of the projects they will tackle is enabling the researchers to visualize the internals of a virtual light water reactor, research methods to improve fuel economy, and delve further into bioinformatics research.
The Power9 processors will be available in four variants that differ in the number of cores and number of threads each core supports. The chips are broken down into Power9 SO (Scale Out) and Power9 SU (Scale Up) and each group has two processors depending on whether you need a greater number of weaker cores or a smaller number of more powerful cores. Power9 SO chips are intended for multi-core systems and will be used in servers with one or two sockets while Power9 SU chips are for multi-processor systems with up to four sockets per board and up to 16 total sockets per cluster when four four socket boards are linked together. Power9 SO uses DDR4 memory and supports a theoretical maximum 4TB of memory (1TB with today’s 64GB DIMMS) and 120 GB/s of bandwidth while Power9 SU uses IBM’s buffered “Centaur” memory scheme that allows the systems to address a theoretical maximum of 8TB of memory (2TB with 64GB DIMMS) at 230 GB/s. In other words, the SU series is Big Blue’s “big guns.”
A photo of the 24 core SMT4 Power9 SO die.
Here is where it gets a bit muddy. The processors are further broken down by an SMT4 or SMT8 and both Power9 SO and Power9 SU have both options. There are Power9 CPUs with 24 SMT4 cores and there are CPUs with 12 SMT8 cores. IBM indicated that SMT4 (four threads per core) was suited to systems running Linux and virtualization with emphasis on high core counts. Meanwhile SMT8 (eight threads per core) is a better option for large logical partitions (one big system versus partitioning out the compute cluster into smaller VMs as above) and running IBM’s Hypervisor. In either case (24 SMT4 or 12 SMT8) there is the same number of total threads, but you are able to choose whether you want fewer “stronger” threads on each core or more (albeit weaker) threads per core depending on which you workloads are optimized for.
Servers supporting Power9 are already under development by Google and Rackspace and blueprints are even available from the OpenPower Foundation. Currently, it appears that Power9 SO will emerge as soon as the second half of next year (2H 2017) with Power9 SU following in 2018 which would line up with the expected date for the Summit and Sierra supercomputer launches.
This is not a chip that will be showing up in your desktop any time soon, but it is an interesting high performance processor! I will be keeping an eye on updates from Oak Ridge lab hehe.
Subject: Systems | September 1, 2016 - 05:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: system build, htc vive, oculus rift, VR
Over at The Tech Report is a new build log, taking you through the steps of building a VR Ready machine. The intent is to build a machine capable of giving you very good performance on a Rift or Vive, while leaving you with enough money to purchase said headset and accoutrements. If money is no object then by all means pick up a couple of Titans or 1080s, but you don't necessarily need to. As with our guides the components included are to give you a guide as to what you will need, if you have a preferred vendor you can substitute all you desire.
"The arrival of Oculus' Rift and HTC's Vive VR headsets is as good an occasion as any to build a brand-new PC, so we tapped MSI and Corsair to help us assemble a system worthy of those headsets' stiff system requirements. See how it all came together in our build log."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Titan X Pascal SLI at 5K @ Kitguru
- Shuttle XPC Cube SZ170R8 w/ i5-6600K @ techPowerUp
- Shuttle SH110R4 Mini PC barebones @ Kitguru
Podcast #415 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 Turbo, Intel SSD P3520, HUAWEI Mate 8, ASUS Strix X99, and more!
Subject: General Tech | September 1, 2016 - 02:57 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: yoga, video, strix x99, ssd, Predator, podcast, P3520, Mate 8, Lenovo, Intel, Huawei, Fanatec, CSL Elite, asus, acer, 1060 turbo
PC Perspective Podcast #415 - 09/01/2016
Join us this week as we discuss the ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 Turbo, Intel SSD P3520, HUAWEI Mate 8, ASUS Strix X99, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store (audio only)
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- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath and Jeremy Hellstrom
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
1:07:04 IFA 2016
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 1, 2016 - 01:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Lian Li, Ebonsteel PC K6, mid tower
If you like minimalist cases, the Lian Li Ebonsteel PC K6 is worth taking a peek at. They relocated the buttons and I/O ports to the top of the case, which also sports a magnetically attached cover hiding 280x140mm mounting point for cooling. The dimensions of 220x495x515mm give you quite a bit of space, GPUs have 310mm clearance and CPU coolers 170mm. The HDD bay can accommodate up to seven 2.5/3.5" drives and the body and panels are all made of SECC, giving the case a bit of weight but also ensuring it will survive mimor abuses. Drop by Modders Inc if the picture below appeals to you.
"In the PC case arena, Lian Li is known as one of the premier case makers for aluminum cases. As long as I can remember they were the leader and the one I personally hoped to own some day. Their fairly simple but well thought out designs made them popular but the higher price tag was not in reach for …"
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- NZXT Manta Mini-ITX Tower Chassis Review @ Techgage
- Cooler Master MasterCase Pro 3 @ Modders-Inc
- COUGAR Panzer Max Full Tower Review @ NikKTech
- SilverStone RL 05 Gaming @ Modders-Inc
- Silverstone Milo ML08 @ techPowerUp