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."

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Source: Slashdot

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"

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Source: The Inquirer

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:

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."

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Source: The Inquirer

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?"

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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."

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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."

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Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Sennheiser

Sennheiser’s New Flagship Gaming Headset

Sennheiser is one of the most respected names in the audio world and especially with headphone users. Almost five years ago, they released the GAME ONE headset and set a new high water mark for PC gaming audio. In late 2016, the company began reshaping its gaming line with a new “GSP” series, first with the entry-level GSP 300, which is still one of the best headsets you can buy for under $90. This year, they’re taking on the other end of the spectrum and releasing a new gaming flagship: the GSP 600. With an MSRP of $249, it doesn’t come cheap, but is easily one of the best headsets in its class.

Specifications

  • MSRP: $249.99
  • Color: Black
  • Wearing Style: Headband
  • Impedance: 28 Ohms
  • Connector: 2 x 3.5 mm (3-pole connectors) 1 x 3.5 mm (4-pole connectors), 2.5mm connection to headset
  • Frequency Response (Microphone): 10–18,000 Hz
  • Frequency Response (Headphones): 10–30,000 Hz
  • Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 112 dB SPL @ 1 kHz, 1V RMS
  • Ear Coupling: Over-Ear
  • Cable Length: 2.5 m PC cable / 1.5 m Console cable
  • Transducer Principle: Dynamic, Closed
  • Pick-up Pattern: Bi-directional ECM
  • Microphone Sensitivity: -47 dBV/PA
  • Weight: 395g
  • Warranty: Two-year

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Starting with packaging, the GSP arrives in a simple, elegant box. I appreciate that it’s not covered in gamer-marketing. The name Sennheiser carries esteem and respectability that would be diminished by slathering the box with over-stated logos and aggressive art. The packaging is in line with many of Sennheiser’s consumer audiophile headsets, which is in keeping with what they’re trying to do here.

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Inside the box is the headset itself and two detachable cables, as well as the usual warranty card and basic instruction manual.  The GSP uses an analog stereo connection, so there’s no built-in USB sound card here. Each cable is braided in nylon fiber and connects to the headset with a 2.5mm jack. The longer cable of the two is 2.5m and ends in a Y-splitter with separate headphone and mic connectors, clearly meant for use with PC. The shorter cable is only 1.5m and ends in a 4-pole connection, suitable for use with consoles.

Continue reading our review of the Sennheiser GSP 600!

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."

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