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Subject: Editorial | October 13, 2016 - 11:22 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: XG-U2008, western digital, video, stratix, ssd, podcast, nvidia, msi, kaby lake, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iphone, Intel, drobo, asus, apple, 5c
PC Perspective Podcast #421 - 10/13/16
Join us this week as we discuss our review of the iPhone 7, the Drobo 5C, Intel FPGAs and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Sebastian Peak
Program length: 1:22:35
Week in Review:
Today’s episode is brought to you by Casper!
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Subject: General Tech | October 12, 2016 - 07:10 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: VLAN party, gaming, fragging frogs
It's time to load up your Flak Cannon, squirrel away a Redeemer, tune up your Rocket car and feed your pet dinosaur because the Fragging Frogs are hosting their 14th VLAN party on the last Saturday of this month. There will be games, there will be prize giveaways and there will be fun! If you have attended a VLAN in the past you know the drill but if you have yet to take part in one of these events with the best group of gamers around then you can follow these steps to ensure you have a spot.
- You must be a registered member at the PCPer forums (register here)
- You must post to this thread stating your intention to attend the VLAN event
- You must meet the eligibility requirements (if any) of the individual sponsors below
- Your shipping address must be in the Continental United States or Canada (for prizes)
- Lastly, you must join Teamspeak and participate in the VLAN event by playing games with us and having fun !!
You will need to supply your own snacks and beverages so make sure to stock up as the party kicks off at 10AM Eastern and doesn't stop until the last Frog drops, which is often sometime on Sunday. The games we play are up to you, post suggestions in the thread if you don't see your favourites already listed, if we can find interested bodies we are happy to play anything.
Prizes are not yet announced but you can expect some great hardware, software and possibly even some interesting collectibles. Keep your eyes on the thread for more announcements and make sure to thank Lenny for all the effort he puts into organizing these events.
Join up and have some fun on Saturday, you might just find yourself becoming a regular participant in the Fragging Frogs weekly gaming sessions too!
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Civilization 6: The most in-depth Civ to date @ Ars Technica
- Wot I Think: Quantum Break @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Endless Space 2’s Early Access Is Bold And A Bit Rough @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- PlayStation VR provides a lot of bang for your virtual reality buck @ Ars Technica
- Serious Sam VR Jacking Into Early Access This Month @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Snowy Wasteland 3 Launches Crowdfunding On Fig @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Endless Legend’s Tempest Expansion Sails To Next Week @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech, Networking | October 12, 2016 - 04:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, XG-U2008, unmanaged switch, 10 gigabit
Planning an upgrade to your network or looking to build one that will last into the next generation of NICs? ASUS has just made an unmanaged 10 gigabit switch available at a price far below the average asking price of the devices currently on the market. $250 is still a steep investment for a switch but is less than half of the competitions, albeit without the management features found on those switches. The LEDs on the front will glow amber if the cable you use is not up to the new standard, otherwise expect green for go. It will support Jumbo Frames of up to 16 KB just like the more expensive models. It is a compact 9.44x4.92x1.06", so you should easily be able to find a home for it. PR below the snazzy product shot, technical details from ASUS here.
Fremont, CA (October 10th, 2016) -- Outside the enterprise market, the transition from Gigabit to 10-Gigabit Ethernet has been rather slow. While there are growing small-business and prosumer demands for the additional bandwidth that 10G networking provides, the cost of entry is high. Until now, the availability of compliant devices has been limited to enterprise-class products that are built with corporate networks in mind, with pricing for 10-Gigabit switches starting at $800. That certainly isn’t expensive by corporate standards, but for the rest of us, it relegates adoption to cases of absolute necessity and the upper echelon of enthusiasts.
While it’s advisable to plan ahead and overprovision your network for scalability, paying extra money for ports or features that you’ll never use doesn’t make sense. So, there’s a clear need for 10G networking devices that are suitably tailored for the small business, prosumer, and enthusiast markets. Cue the ASUS XG-U2008, an unmanaged 10G networking switch available for only $249.99.
Subject: General Tech | October 12, 2016 - 03:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: VR, unreal engine 4, pool nation vr, htc vive, gaming
Pool Nation VR for thr HTC Vive is an Unreal Engine 4 game and takes advantage of one of that engine's NVIDIA only features, Multi-Res Shading. This gives NVIDIA a performance advantage at high settings over AMD, though not so much that the GTX 1060 gets a recommendation from [H]ard|OCP. Unfortunately, neither thev R9 Fury X nor RX 480 managed decent performance from this game, if you want to shoot VR pool you are looking at a GTX 1070 at the very least. Check out the full review and hope that mods arrive to make the game more interesting.
"If shooting pool is a passion of yours, then Pool Nation VR should be on your list if you own an HTC Vive. Even if you are not a pool shark, this title will likely lure you in to spending many hours shooting stick. But to make it look stunning, you will need a heavy duty GPU up to the task. "
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Gears of War 4: The next gen is now—if you’re on Windows 10, at least @ Ars Technica
- Sunless Sea: How Zubmariner Lured Me In @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- One Final Gig: Duke Nukem 3D World Tour Out Today @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Gears of War 4 @ Kitguru
- The Best Witcher 3: Wild Hunt mods @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Asus RoG is giving away Mafia III with selected products @ HEXUS
- Daring Escapes feature in the latest Dishonoured 2 trailer @ HEXUS
- Zewg Wush: StarCraft II Gets Cute With StarCrafts Mod @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Fight The Future: AI War II Is Now On Kickstarter @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: Editorial | October 12, 2016 - 03:23 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: jobs, hiring
PC Perspective is hiring! We are on the look out for someone to help with our increasing amount of video content. We need a person that is local to our main office in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, so that will limit a lot of you.
Tasks for the new hire will include:
- Video production and capture
- Live video switching and production
- Artistic capture of products for use in editorials and reviews
- Editing of video
- Creation animations and motion graphics
- YouTube channel management
The ideal candidate should have some experience in the following:
- Adobe software suite: Premiere Pro, Photoshop, After Effects
- Knowledge of cameras and associated hardware
- Experience with video and photo capture
- Familiar with review structure and high quality online video content
- Basic background in computer hardware and the gaming ecosystem
To start with we are targeting a part time work load though we expect this to expand in the near future.
Again, this is definitely an on-site / local position - those not in the Cincinnati / Northern KY area need not apply.
If you or someone you know is a good candidate for us, please email me directly (email@example.com) with your pertintent information including any previously built material or examples of work.
Come join a growing team of fun and interesting people and take part in the exciting PC gaming market!!
Subject: General Tech | October 12, 2016 - 02:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: iot, iKettle
If there is one thing that the IoT excels at, it is making simple things more complex. It opens up new toaster based DoS attacks and can turn the act of boiling water into a day long activity. An English software developer had a very interesting time attempting to make his morning cup of tea and being a technically inclined individual he was not about to simply give up; instead he started troubleshooting the issue. The issue started with the iKettle dropping its connection necessitating the rest of the of the base station for the kettle but escalated to the point it was interfering with the Hadoop cluster he happened to be running in his garage. The Register captured his debugging trials in the search for a substance that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea. To ensure that there was salt added to his wounds, his Hue decided to perform a firmware update later that evening.
"Our story starts simply enough: a kettle. The iKettle to be precise, an IoT device that is coveted by most INQ writers for reasons they cannot entirely explain."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Most Businesses Haven't Inspected Cloud Services For Malware @ Slashdot
- Microsoft HoloLens goes up for pre-order from, er, £2,719 @ The Register
- Pocket C.H.I.P. makers go Pro with cloud-linked ARM-flexing module for IoT gizmo builders @ The Register
- Smell burning? Samsung’s 'Death Note 7' could still cause a contagion @ The Register
- Arozzi Vernazza Gaming Chair Review @ Neoseeeker
- AK Racing Premium V2 Gaming Chair Review @ NikKTech
- Nuke plant has been hacked, says Atomic Energy Agency director @ The Register
- Microsoft Wise Pad W7 Phablet Giveaway Contest @ Tech ARP
Subject: Storage | October 11, 2016 - 01:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, ssd, Blue, 1TB, marvell 1074
Al is hard at work benchmarking the new Western Digital SSDs and you should expect to see his full in depth review in the near future but for those who need immediate gratification here is Hardware Canucks review. The 1TB WD Blue uses a Marvell 1074 controller, a full gigabyte of cache provided by a pair of Micron 512MB DDR3 chips and 15nm TLC that should survive 400TB of writes and is warrantied for three years. Western Digital and SanDisk DNA meet for the first time in a consumer SSD, check out how it fares against the competition right here.
"Western Digital, once known for their hard drives alone, is now wading in the SSD market with two new series. In this review, we take the new Blue 1TB SSD out for a spin."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Toshiba OCZ VX500 SSD @ OCC
- ICY DOCK Black Vortex Quad-Bay USB 3.0 & eSATA External 3.5" SATA HDD Enclosure Review @ NikKTech
- Asustor AS6204T 4-bay NAS @ Kitguru
- Kingston Action Camera microSD @ Benchmark Reviews
- iStorage datAshur PRO 8GB Secure Flash Drive @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | October 11, 2016 - 12:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Samsung, recall, gear vr, galaxy note 7
It is official, Samsung has called a halt to production of the Note 7 and not just because it is likely impossible to insure a building in which they are manufactured or stored. The recall of 2.5 million handsets was damaging to the company and its reputation but the incidents of replacement batteries suffering the same catastrophic failure have spelled the end of this device. Samsung suggests you immediately power down your device and contact your provider or retailer for a refund or for credit on a different handset.
Ars Technica also spotted a pertinent message on the current update to the Gear VR headset which states that support for the Note 7 has been discontinued and you are no longer able to install the app on a Note 7. Thankfully there have been no reports of a battery failure while a Note 7 was inside of a Gear VR and this move should prevent that from ever happening. Expect more statements from Samsung on this topic throughout the week.
"Oculus and Samsung have obviously realized this and has pushed out an update preventing the volatile phone from working with the Gear VR headset."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Yahoo Disables Automatic Email Forwarding Feature, Making It Difficult For Users To Leave @ Slashdot
- Steve Jobs' thermonuclear showdown with Samsung reaches US Supreme Court @ The Register
- Security bod to MSFT: PowerShell's admin-lite scheme is an open door @ The Register
- Nerdytec Couchmaster Cycon @ Kitguru
Subject: Storage | October 11, 2016 - 11:50 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, ssd, Green, Blue
It has been over 6 years since we saw an SSD come out of Western Digital, but we suspected some new ones may be coming after their recent acquisition of SanDisk. That say has come, and today we have two new SSD models announced by WD:
These new SSDs naturally borrow SanDisk 15nm TLC flash but drive that flash with aftermarket controllers. The Blue employs a Marvell 88SS1074 controller while the Green will use a Silicon Motion SM2256S. The Blue will have the typical SATA 6Gbps saturating specs seen in modern SSDs, while the Green will be derated a bit. Detailed specifications are below:
- Form Factors: 2.5¨/7mm cased, M.2 2280
- Endurance (Blue):
- 250GB: 100 TBW
- 500GB: 200 TBW
- 1TB: 400 TBW
- Power (Blue):
- Slumber: 42mW-52mW
- DEVSLP: 4.9mW-9.7mW
- Average Active Power: 70mW
- Warranty (Blue and Green): 3 years
The WD Green will be more budget minded and is to be offered in only a 120GB and 240GB form factor, with reduced endurance ratings of 40 TBW and 80 TBW, respectively.
Pricing (for the WD Blue SSD):
- 250 GB $79.99
- 500 GB $139.99
- 1TB $299.99
The WD Green SSD will be available 'later this quarter', and we do not yet have pricing for that model, but it should come in at a lower cost than the Blue prices above. We have a Blue model in for testing and should see how it fares on our new storage suite later this week.
Subject: Storage | October 11, 2016 - 10:22 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, my passport, my book
Western Digital has refreshed their My Passport and My Book lines with a new industrial design:
The My Passport line (pictured above) features a new design and colors. Capacities now extend all the way up to 4TB. Prices:
- 1 TB $79.99
- 2 TB $109.99
- 3 TB $149.99
- 4 TB $159.99
These feature password protection and AES-256 hardware encryption. There is also a 'My Passport for Mac' model which parallels the above series but comes pre-formated for use with a Mac. Amazing that they are now fitting 4TB of capacity into a 2.5" enclosure.
Also up is a redesign of the My Book. This bookshelf style drive is now a chunkier version of the My Passport products mentioned earlier. Thanks to Helium-filled HGST HelioSeal technology recently acquired by Western Digital, capacities now extend up to 8TB on this line. Prices follow:
- 3 TB $129.99
- 4 TB $149.99
- 6 TB $229.99
- 8 TB $299.99
I like the more squared off design, especially for the My Book, as it should make them more stable and less likely to be tipped over by accidental bumps. These also support hardware encryption. All models of both the My Book and My Passport come with a 2-year limited warranty as well as backup software to help ease the process of automating your backups.
Subject: Processors | October 10, 2016 - 02:25 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SoC, Intel, FPGA, Cortex A53, arm, Altera
Intel and recently acquired Altera have launched a new FPGA product based on Intel’s 14nm Tri-Gate process featuring an ARM CPU, 5.5 million logic element FPGA, and HBM2 memory in a single package. The Stratix 10 is aimed at data center, networking, and radar/imaging customers.
The Stratix 10 is an Altera-designed FPGA (field programmable gate array) with 5.5 million logic elements and a new HyperFlex architecture that optimizes registers, pipeline, and critical pathing (feed-forward designs) to increase core performance and increase the logic density by five times that of previous products. Further, the upcoming FPGA SoC reportedly can run at twice the core performance of Stratix V or use up to 70% less power than its predecessor at the same performance level.
The increases in logic density, clockspeed, and power efficiency are a combination of the improved architecture and Intel’s 14nm FinFET (Tri-Gate) manufacturing process.
Intel rates the FPGA at 10 TFLOPS of single precision floating point DSP performance and 80 GFLOPS/watt.
Interestingly, Intel is using an ARM processor to feed data to the FPGA chip rather than its own Quark or Atom processors. Specifically, the Stratix 10 uses an ARM CPU with four Cortex A53 cores as well as four stacks of on package HBM2 memory with 1TB/s of bandwidth to feed data to the FPGA. There is also a “secure device manager” to ensure data integrity and security.
The Stratix 10 is aimed at data centers and will be used with in specialized tasks that demand high throughput and low latency. According to Intel, the processor is a good candidate for co-processors to offload and accelerate encryption/decryption, compression/de-compression, or Hadoop tasks. It can also be used to power specialized storage controllers and networking equipment.
Intel has started sampling the new chip to potential customers.
In general, FPGAs are great at highly parallelized workloads and are able to efficiently take huge amounts of inputs and process the data in parallel through custom programmed logic gates. An FPGA is essentially a program in hardware that can be rewired in the field (though depending on the chip it is not necessarily a “fast” process and it can take hours or longer to switch things up heh). These processors are used in medical and imaging devices, high frequency trading hardware, networking equipment, signal intelligence (cell towers, radar, guidance, ect), bitcoin mining (though ASICs stole the show a few years ago), and even password cracking. They can be almost anything you want which gives them an advantage over traditional CPUs and graphics cards though cost and increased coding complexity are prohibitive.
The Stratix 10 stood out as interesting to me because of its claimed 10 TFLOPS of single precision performance which is reportedly the important metric when it comes to training neural networks. In fact, Microsoft recently began deploying FPGAs across its Azure cloud computing platform and plans to build the “world’s fastest AI supercomputer. The Redmond-based company’s Project Catapult saw the company deploy Stratix V FPGAs to nearly all of its Azure datacenters and is using the programmable silicon as part of an “acceleration fabric” in its “configurable cloud” architecture that will be used initially to accelerate the company’s Bing search and AI research efforts and later by independent customers for their own applications.
It is interesting to see Microsoft going with FPGAs especially as efforts to use GPUs for GPGPU and neural network training and inferencing duties have increased so dramatically over the years (with NVIDIA being the one pushing the latter). It may well be a good call on Microsoft’s part as it could enable better performance and researchers would be able to code their AI accelerator platforms down to the gate level to really optimize things. Using higher level languages and cheaper hardware with GPUs does have a lower barrier to entry though. I suppose ti will depend on just how much Microsoft is going to charge customers to use the FPGA-powered instances.
FPGAs are in kind of a weird middle ground and while they are definitely not a new technology, they do continue to get more complex and powerful!
What are your thoughts on Intel's new FPGA SoC?
- Microsoft Goes All in for FPGAs to Build Out AI Cloud
- Microsoft Focusing Efforts, Forming AI and Research Group
- Stratix 10 Architecture Video
- Are FPGAs the future of password cracking and supercomputing?
Subject: Networking | October 9, 2016 - 01:42 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wifi, onhub, mesh, google wifi, google, 802.11ac
Building on the company’s OnHub WiFi router program, the search giant will be offering up its own mesh WiFi network solution for home users later this year aptly named “Google WiFi.” Available in November for pre-order Google will offer single and triple packs of its puck-shaped smartphone controlled WiFi nodes.
Google WiFi is a new product that takes advantage of an old technology called mesh networking. While most home users rely on a single powerful access point to distribute the wireless signal throughout the home, mesh networks place nodes around the home in such a way that the WiFi networks overlap. Devices can connect to any node and transition between nodes automatically. The nodes communicate with each other wirelessly and connect end devices to the router and Internet by taking the best path (least number of hops and/or highest signal strengths). This model does have some disadvantages that are shared with WiFi repeater solutions in that as much as 50% (or worse!) of the bandwidth can be lost at each hop as the devices use wireless for both communicating with end devices and the backbone to the router. The advantage though is that you need only find a power outlet to set up the mesh node and there is no need to run Ethernet or deal with Powerline or MoCA setups.
Fortunately, it looks as though Google has mitigated the disadvantage by including two radios. The circular Google WiFi nodes (which measure 4.17” diagonally and 2.7” tall) pack a dual band 802.11ac WiFi chip that can operate at both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Using the 5 GHz network for in room end devices (PCs, smartphones, game consoles, Rokus, et al) and the 2.4 GHz network to communicate with each other will help to eliminate a major bottleneck. There will likely still be some bandwidth lost, especially over multiple hops, due to interference, but it should be much less than 50% bandwidth loss.
Each Google WiFi node features two Gigabit Ethernet ports that can be setup as LAN or WAN ports, Bluetooth, and an 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi radio with beamforming support. The nodes are powered by an unspecified quad core processor, 512MB DDR3L memory, and 4GB of eMMC flash storage. The nodes apparently draw as much as 15 watts.
Of course, being Google, the Google WiFi can be controlled using an Android or iOS app that allows the administrator to pause WiFi on a per-device basis (e.g. set time limits for children), monitor device bandwidth usage and prioritize traffic, and automatically apply firmware updates to mitigate security risks. Additionally, Google WiFi automatically configures each node to use the best channel and band to get the best performance that supports all devices.
The nodes currently come only in white and are constructed of plastic. There are blue LEDs around the middle of the puck shaped device. Google WiFi will be available for pre-order in November. A single node will cost $129 while a three pack will cost $299. Google is not first to the wireless mesh party but it looks like it will be competitively priced (the three pack is $200 cheaper than eero, for example).
This looks like it might be a simple to setup solution if you or your family are currently running a single access point that can’t quite cover the entire home. I don’t really see this as a product for enthusiasts, but it might be worth recommending to people that just want WiFi that works with little setup. I will have to wait for reviews to say for sure though.
What are your thoughts on Google WiFi?
- Heterogeneous Wireless Mesh Network Technology Evaluation for Space Proximity and Surface Applications (PDF) @ NASA
- Solving the Wireless Mesh Multi-Hop Dilemma (PDF) @ Strix Systems
Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2016 - 07:33 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ubisoft, pc gaming, free games, free
This has apparently been going on since June, but I just found out that Ubisoft was giving away some of their older titles for free. Like EA's “On the House” promotion, you can keep the title, but only if you add it to your UPlay account before the cut off date. We're just before the change in months, so, for the next few days, you can add The Crew. Then, starting on October 12th, you can pick up the original Beyond Good and Evil for free.
As expected, you will need to have a UPlay account for this to work. Still, it's an otherwise free game, and a cult classic at that. While this promotion is officially for Ubisoft's 30th anniversary, and two games will go free after Beyond Good and Evil, Ubisoft took the opportunity to announce that a sequel to Beyond Good and Evil is being developed. I guess this means that we'll only have a couple more E3s where journalists write top ten “I want to see announced” lists containing Beyond Good and Evil 2. Yet another thing that will probably be released before Half-Life 2: Episode 3.
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 8, 2016 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers, geforce
On Thursday, NVIDIA released their latest graphics drivers to align with Gears of War 4, Mafia 3, and Shadow Warrior 2. The drivers were published before each of these games launched, which allows gamers to optimize their PCs ahead of time. Graphics vendors work with many big-budget studios during their development cycles, and any tweaks that they found over the months and years will be targeted to this release, as usual.
Beyond tweaking for these games, NVIDIA has also announced a couple of fixes. If you were experiencing issues in Overwatch, then these new drivers fix how decals are drawn. The major fix claims to reduce inconsistent performance in multiple VR titles, which is very useful for these applications.
You can get these drivers from their website, or just install them from GeForce Experience.
Subject: General Tech | October 7, 2016 - 02:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: dream machines, gaming mouse, DM1 Pro
Dream Machines is not a well known brand but do have a line of computer equipment including the newly released DM1 Pro gaming mouse. The mouse uses a Pmw3310dh optical sensor with DPI ranging from 400 to 5000 and indicates your current setting in a unique way, the colour displayed by the LED indicates the current sensitivity. There are six buttons present, including the sensitivity toggle, with thumb buttons positioned for right handed users. Kitguru liked the mouse but were disappointed by the complete lack of software to customize the mouse, take a peek and see what you think.
"The latest mouse to come in for review is the Dream Machines DM1 Pro. A Polish company, you would be forgiven for not having heard of them. However, they supply laptops, speakers and mice so we were pleased to be sent the DM1 Pro mouse. Priced at £39 in the UK, it sports an ambidextrous design and optical sensor – but how does it fare in the real world?"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Fnatic Gear Rush Keyboard @ techPowerUp
- Roccat Skeltr Multi-Format RGB Gaming Keyboard
- Zalman ZM-K900M Gaming Keyboard @ Benchmark Reviews
Subject: General Tech | October 7, 2016 - 01:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: oculus rift
The Rift just got a lot more expensive to set up for those of you who prefer it to the Vive. The kit has expanded its requirements and prices for those who would like the ability to move around in VR and those who want something more accurate than the basic remote. To upgrade your remote is $199 and the additional sensor to track your body movement is $79. While that is not too bad as they are additional features it seems that Oculus had the incredibly bad taste to use a proprietary audio connector. That means if you want upgraded audio that is receiving from the same source as your video you need to fork over an additional $49. As The Register points out, this is somewhat more than the originally quoted $350 price tag for a functional VR headset.
"It's bad enough that the basic system costs $599 – almost double the expected price of $350. Today, the Facebook-owned biz revealed a range of accessories that will push its cost even higher."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Never explain, never apologize: Microsoft silent on Outlook.com email server grief @ The Register
- Radeon Vulkan Driver Added To Mesa, Fresh Radeon Vulkan vs. OpenGL Benchmarks + AMDGPU-PRO @ Phoronix
- The FBI wants to unlock another iPhone and is making big deal out of it @ The Inquirer
- Kaby Lake and VR to push PC market to growth in 2017 @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2016 - 11:37 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: supercomputer, microsoft, deep neural network, azure, artificial intelligence, ai
Microsoft recently announced it would be restructuring 5,000 employees as it focuses its efforts on artificial intelligence with a new AI and Research Group. The Redmond giant is pulling computer scientists and engineers from Microsoft Research, the Information Platfrom, Bing, and Cortana groups, and the Ambient Computing and Robotics teams. Led by 20 year Microsoft veteran Harry Shum (who has worked in both research and engineering roles at Microsoft), the new AI team promises to "democratize AI" and be a leader in the field with intelligent products and services.
It seems that "democratizing AI" is less about free artificial intelligence and more about making the technology accessible to everyone. The AI and Research Group plans to develop artificial intelligence to the point where it will change how humans interact with their computers (read: Cortana 2.0) with services and commands being conversational rather than strict commands, new applications baked with AI such as office and photo editors that are able to proof read and suggest optimal edits respectively, and new vision, speech, and machine analytics APIs that other developers will be able to harness for their own applications. (Wow that's quite the long sentence - sorry!)
Further, Microsoft wants to build the world's fastest AI supercomputer using its Azure cloud computing service. The Azure-powered AI will be available to everyone for their applications and research needs (for a price, of course!). Microsoft certainly has the money, brain power, and computing power to throw at the problem, and this may be one of the major areas where looking to "the cloud" for a company's computing needs is a smart move as the up front capital needed for hardware, engineers, and support staff to do something like this in-house would be extremely prohibative. It remains to be seen whether Microsoft will win out in the wake of competitors at being the first, but it is certainly staking its claim and does not want to be left out completely.
“Microsoft has been working in artificial intelligence since the beginning of Microsoft Research, and yet we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible,” said Shum, executive vice president of the Microsoft AI and Research Group. “Today’s move signifies Microsoft’s commitment to deploying intelligent technology and democratizing AI in a way that changes our lives and the world around us for the better. We will significantly expand our efforts to empower people and organizations to achieve more with our tools, our software and services, and our powerful, global-scale cloud computing capabilities.”
Interestingly, this announcement comes shortly after a previous announcement that industry giants Amazon, Facebook, Google-backed DeepMind, IBM, and Microsoft founded the not-for-profit Partnership On AI organization that will collaborate and research best practices on AI development and exploitation (and hopefully how to teach them not to turn on us heh).
I am looking forward to the future of AI and the technologies it will enable!
Subject: Motherboards | October 6, 2016 - 10:06 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Z170, msi, kaby lake, Intel B150, Intel, H110
MSI has announced that it will be supporting Intel's next generation "Kaby Lake" LGA 1151 processors via a BIOS update. The company has updated its website with the new UEFI/BIOS updates that add support for Kaby Lake on all of its 100-series motherboards.
According to MSI, in addition to Kaby Lake support, the updates improve stability and overclocking potential. Currently, the following Z170, B150, and H110 chipset based motherboards have a BIOS update available.
- Z170 Motherboards
- Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM EDITION
- Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM
- Z170A GAMING M9 ACK
- Z170A GAMING M7
- Z170A GAMING M6
- Z170A GAMING M5
- Z170A-G45 GAMING
- Z170A GAMING M3
- Z170A GAMING PRO CARBON
- Z170A GAMING PRO
- Z170A KRAIT GAMING 3X
- Z170A KRAIT GAMING R6 SIEGE
- Z170A KRAIT GAMING
- Z170 KRAIT GAMING
- Z170I GAMING PRO AC
- Z170A TOMAHAWK AC
- Z170A TOMAHAWK
- Z170M MORTAR
- B150 Motherboards
- B150 GAMING M3
- B150M NIGHT ELF
- B150M GAMING PRO
- B150I GAMING PRO AC
- B150I GAMING PRO
- B150M MORTAR ARCTIC
- B150M MORTAR
- B150M BAZOOKA PLUS
- B150M BAZOOKA
- B150M BAZOOKA D3
- B150M GRENADE
- H110 Motherboards
- H110M GAMING
- H110M GRENADE
To grab the latest bios, head over to https://www.msi.com/support#support_download and use the drop down menus to search for your motherboard model. The BIOS download will be available towards the top of the list of available downloads.
MSI and ASUS have both announced support for Kaby Lake on their existing motherboards which is nice to see. If leaks are true, Intel is readying Z270 Express chipset for release in late 2016 or early 2017, but it is nice to know that you will not have to upgrade the motherboard if you do not want to just to get the latest Intel CPU.
Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2016 - 07:00 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: virtual reality, htc vive, assistive technology
As technology continues to advance, virtual reality is slowly but surely becoming more of a reality. For many readers, VR is the next step in gaming and achieving an immersive (virtual) experience. However, for Jamie Soar virtual reality is being used to allow him to experience what it is like to have "normal" vision in the real world. Mr. Soar lives with a genetic and progressive eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa as well as diplopia (or double vision) which means that he has severely limited night and peripheral vision. Jamie uses a white cane for mobility and needs to get close to things like computer monitors and signs in order to read them.
EIC Ryan Shrout using the HTC Vive to enter a VR world (Job Simulator) during a live stream.
Enter the HTC Vive and its dual lens solution that puts the displays (and the vitrual world) front and center. After donning the virtual reality headset at a PC World demo in the UK, Jamie was amazingly able to experience the virtual world in a similar way to how many people see the real world. His eyes were able to refocus on the close up displays, and thanks to the illusion of depth created by the dual lenses, he was able to look around the virtual world and see everything clearly and in brilliant color both near and far!
Via Blindness.org: An example of what vision is like with Retinitis Pigmentosa in an advanced stage. Peripheral and night vision are generally the first aspects to be lost as photoreceptors (rods) on outer edges of retina die.
In an interview with Upload VR, Mr. Soar had this to say to those with similar visual impairments:
“Try VR . Find a means to try it because I went so long without ever knowing that this extra dimension existed that you can see. Try out as many experiences as possible. It might not be for everyone but it might give people a lot more freedom or independence in what they do.”
This is a very cool story and I am excited for Mr. Soar. The aspiring music producer plans to continue experimenting with VR and I hope that as it continues to advance it can help him even more. My first thought jumped to Scott's desire to use VR for productivity work using an infinite desktop and how it could help Jamie compose and produce his music and get the same – or better – benefits most people get from having mutiple monitor setups without having to lean in to each monitor. I do not have nearly the vision loss that Mr. Soar has, but I can definitely empathize with him on many points. I think that it is awesome that he was able to test out VR and explore how he can use it to help him!
In my case I am more looking forward to AR (augmented reality) and future products built on things like Or Cam, Microsoft's Seeing AI project (which I thought I wrote about previously but can not find it via Google heh), and even things like and AiPoly (iOS) that use neural networks and can identify objects, people and their facial expressions, and even describe what is happening in natural language (we are not quite there yet but are definitely getting there).
Regardless of whether AR or VR, the advances in technology in just my 26 years have been amazing and the assitive technology available now is unbelievable. The future is exciting, indeed and I can't wait to see what comes next!
Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2016 - 05:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: toughpower DPS G RGB, thermaltake, RGB, modular psu, 850W
Enough is enough marketing departments! The Toughpower branding is recognizable but when it becomes an RGB to the DPS G-unit one starts to wonder if this a PSU or a new professional gaming team. Oh, lest we forget to mention it, the box proclaims this is indeed a VR Ready PSU; perhaps it provides 3D virtual electrons? Aparently the DPS G portion indicates it is compatible with your cellphone as the PSU provides both modular and mobile features. Lastly the RGB portion of the branding; if you guessed it has a fan capable of producing 256 different colours then you got it! It is even possible it creates airflow at the same time.
Does it actually work as a PSU? Does anyone even care when it has all of these wonderous features? Only [H]ard|OCP knows.
"Flashy lights are cool if you are into that kind of thing, but we want to know about the new Thermaltake power supply beyond the pretty hues of red, green, and blue. Toughpower units have weighed in well in the past, but how about in today's market as it is a lot more competitive now."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Seasonic Flagship PRIME 850W @ [H]ard|OCP
- InWin Classic Series 750W Fully-Modular 80 Plus Platinum @ eTeknix
- Cougar GX-S 550 W @ techPowerUp