Mark Papermaster on AMD's tiny things

Subject: General Tech | July 24, 2017 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: amd, 7nm

Over at The Inquirer you can read a condensed version of AMD's Mark Papermaster discussion about the challenges of moving to a 7nm process node.  The size of AMD's design team have prompted them to take a modular approach to design so that circuits can be reused across CPU, GPU and semi-custom designs.  That allows the the same teams to work on multiple projects and for design successes to improve products across multiple lines, a must for a small team with such diverse products.

He also talks about "2.5-D chip stacks", using silicon interposers to connect processors and memory stacks side-by-side as a way to work on reducing to the 7nm node while waiting for foundries like GLOFO to retool to EUV lithography. He ends with a familiar request; that developers switch their focus to taking advantage of high core counts and parallel threads and away from single cores running at high frequencies.

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"Speaking to the EE Times, Papermaster said that, while AMD planned to run its second and third generation Zen architecture x86 microprocessors on 7nm, it would likely be a 'long node', like the 28nm process, "and when you have a long node it lets the design team focus on micro-architecture and systems solutions", rather than simply redesigning standard ‘blocks'."

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Source: The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: ZALMAN

A Premium Mechanical Option Under $100

In the past year or two we have seen a number of sub-$100 mechanical gaming keyboards on the market, and several of these have passed through our hands here at the PC Perspective offices. The latest of these to garner our attention is the ZALMAN ZM-K900M, a premium gaming design featuring RGB lighting effects and Kailh Blue key switches, along with a 1000 Hz polling rate and full N-key rollover. It currently retails for $89.99, though it can be found for as little as $79.99 (currently, at least) with a little googling. How impressive is it in person? Read on to find out!

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The ZM-K900M offers a variety of RGB effects

The ZM-K900M certainly checks the right boxes as a gaming keyboard, with the above-mentioned 1000 Hz polling rate (which ZALMAN calls 'Z-Engine') and customizable RGB lighting, supports simulanious key presses for the full 104 keys, and offers programmable macro keys. All of the keyboard features are controlled via hot keys on the ZM-K900M itself, eliminating the need for software.

“The ZM-K900M requires no software installation and is universally compatible with any operating system. The macros automatically remember the time interval between the inputs and run exactly as you typed. The keyboard stores the data inside the keyboard so you can instantly run your macros on any computer.”


Features and specifications from ZALMAN:

  • Simple and minimal design
  • Equipped with Z-Engine
  • Supports USB and PS/2 connection
  • Intelligent hardware macro with option to add mouse clicks
  • Multimedia hotkeys
  • 4-stage macro speed adjustment
  • 6-key and N-Key rollover
  • Option to lock Windows key or entire keyboard
  • High quality laser-etched keycaps

Specifications:

  • Model: ZM-K900M
  • Keyboard Layout: 104-key
  • Key Switch: Kailh Blue mechanical key switch
  • Keyboard Matrix: USB & PS/2 N key rollover (anti-ghost function)
  • Key cap type: Step Sculpture 2
  • Interface: USB
  • Cable length: 5.6 ft
  • Dimensions: 17.32 x 5.51 x 1.34 inches, 2.75 lbs

Continue reading our review of the ZALMAN ZM-K900M RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard!

Won't someone think of the children? Corsair will!

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2017 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: corsair, gaming, charity, Save the Children

Corsair will be hosting a Charity Gaming Marathon on July 29th, livestreamed on Twitch and kicking off at 9AM Pacific.  All donations will go to the Save the Children, an international charity which helps children across the globe get off to a healthy start in life.  Corsair will be matching every dollar donated, up to a total of $25,000.  The event will pit two teams against each other in a variety of MOBA, RTS and first person shooters; when donating you can chose which team you support and can cheer them on and choose some challenges they need to overcome.

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During the event there will be giveaways of gear as certain donation goals are reached including GLAIVE RGB mice, VOID USB headsets, and MM800 RGB POLARIS mouse mats.  If the $25K mark is reached Corsair will be giving away a ONE SFF gaming machine. 

You can learn more about Save the Children on Twitter and Facebook.

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Source: Corsair

PCPer Mailbag #1 - 7/20/2017

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2017 - 11:12 AM |
Tagged: video, pcper mailbag

Our readers and supporters have asked us to do a mailbag-style video series for a while now and I finally got around to starting it. Welcome to the PCPer Mailbag #1! Thanks to the supporters of the PC Perspective Patreon for making it happen!

Questions addressed this week include:

  • Thoughts on when spinning disks will be replaced by SSDs in lower cost systems
  • Mesh vs Infinity Fabric
  • Will GPU prices return to normal?
  • Short history of PCPer
  • ...and more!

Devil's Ivy, a voyeurs dream come true

Subject: General Tech | July 20, 2017 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: iot, Devil's Ivy, cameras, security, gSOAP

gSOAP is a open-source code library which allows hardware to be configured and controlled via web connections and is used by hundreds of companies including Axis, Microsoft, IBM, Adobe and Xerox.  It has a vulnerability which allows an attacker to trigger a stack overflow by sending a specific POST command over port 80 to a device, which in the case of cameras allows you to watch the live feed.  The vulnerability was patched in an update to gSOAP so future products will not have this issue, however any camera built on that library which currently in use is vulnerable.  The manufacturers would have to create an update to their own software and push it out to all the cameras currently in use to resolve this issue, and if there is one thing we know for sure about IoT products, it is that these patches do not tend to be created, let alone pushed out.

For more depressing details you can pop by The Register.

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"Security researchers investigating internet-connected video cameras have uncovered a bug that could conceivably leave millions of devices open to easy pwnage."

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Source: The Register

Podcast #459 - Threadripper Pricing, Liquid Cooled VEGA, Intel Rumors, and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 20, 2017 - 11:53 AM |
Tagged: zenbook, z270, wireless charging, water cooling, VR, video, Vega, TSMC, thermaltake, SILVIA, podcast, Pacific, Oculus, Kabby Lake-R, corsair, Contac, asus, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #459 - 07/20/17

Join us for Threadripper Pricing, Liquid Cooled VEGA, Intel Rumors, 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: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg, Jim Tanous

Program length: 1:46:03

 
Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 1:36:30 Jeremy: Deal on a Ryzen 7 1700
    2. 1:41:04 Allyn: Still using WMC? You need EPG123!
  4. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Source:

It's dangerous to go alone; gaming on a Lenovo X1 Carbon ultrabook

Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2017 - 03:01 PM |
Tagged: gaming, ultrabook, Lenovo, ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Techspot recently investigated the ability of current generation ultrabooks to game, without external assistance.  They tested using a Lenovo X1 Carbon, similar to what Ken utilized when he benchmarked the AKiTiO Node external GPU.  Techspot's model had a Core i5-7200U as opposed to the 7300U both chips have the same HD 620 iGPU, but only Ken's had help. 

Techspot focused on the performance the ultrabook could provide in 34 different games, from current and past AAA games as well as eSports and even 2D indie games.  Take a look through their results to see just how far we have come since the original generations of Intel iGPUs which simply could not game at all.  The results show that there is indeed a market for Thunderbolt based external GPUs.

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"With this in mind, we've tested 34 games on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon: from current AAA titles to older 2D platformers, to give you an idea of what games are actually playable on modern ultraportables."

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Source: Techspot

You've got to go deep before you can be extreme, TSMC is moving to 7nm

Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2017 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, 7nm, duv, N7, euv

TSMC is preparing for the move to a 7nm process by expanding suppliers and tooling up for Deep UV equipment.  Unlike Samsung, who will be using Extreme UV tools for their initial launch of 7nm product in 2018 TSMC have chosen to delay the move to EUV until the technology matures.  They will instead use DUV for its launch of their 7nm products, dubbed 7N, in 2018.  The difference between the two types of UV is the wavelength, DUV can be produced at 248 and 193 nm while EUV is an impressive 13.5nm, which is why the industry (and ourselves) depend on this process maturing and being adopted by manufacturers.  The EUV equipment that is being tested is still relatively new but should produce a better chip in theory, though perhaps not as many usable ones per wafer when first rolled out.  You can pop by DigiTimes for a list of the suppliers TSMC is adopting as well as a bit more detail.

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"Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is expanding the number of suppliers of equipment for its 7nm process in a bid to maintain an ecosystem pricing balance, according to industry sources."

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Source: DigiTimes
Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: SILVIA

Intelligent Gaming

Kal Simpson recently had the chance to sit down and have an extensive interview with SILVIA's Chief Product Officer - Cognitive Code, Alex Mayberry.  SILVIA is a company that specializes on conversational AI that can be adapted to a variety of platforms and applications.  Kal's comments are in bold while Alex's are in italics.

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Always good to speak with you Alex. Whether it's the latest Triple-A video game release or the progress being made in changing the way we play, virtual reality for instance – your views and developments within the gaming space as a whole remains impressive. Before we begin, I’d like to give the audience a brief flashback of your career history. Prominent within the video game industry you’ve been involved with many, many titles – primarily within the PC gaming space. Quake 2: The Reckoning, America’s Army, a plethora of World of Warcraft titles.

Those more familiar with your work know you as the lead game producer for Diablo 3 / Reaper of Souls, as well as the executive producer for Star Citizen. The former of which we spoke on during the release of the game for PC, PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, back in 2014.

So I ask, given your huge involvement with some of the most popular titles, what sparked your interest within the development of intelligent computing platforms? No-doubt the technology can be adapted to applications within gaming, but what’s the initial factor that drove you to Cognitive Code – the SILVIA technology?

AM: Conversational intelligence was something that I had never even thought about in terms of game development. My experience arguing with my Xbox and trying to get it to change my television channel left me pretty sceptical about the technology. But after leaving Star Citizen, my paths crossed with Leslie Spring, the CEO and Founder of Cognitive Code, and the creator of the SILVIA platform. Initially, Leslie was helping me out with some engineering work on VR projects I was spinning up. After collaborating for a bit, he introduced me to his AI, and I became intrigued by it. Although I was still very focused on VR at the time, my mind kept drifting to SILVIA.

I kept pestering Leslie with questions about the technology, and he continued to share some of the things that it could do. It was when I saw one of his game engine demos showing off a sci-fi world with freely conversant robots that the light went on in my head, and I suddenly got way more interested in artificial intelligence. At the same time, I was discovering challenges in VR that needed solutions. Not having a keyboard in VR creates an obstacle for capturing user input, and floating text in your field of view is really detrimental to the immersion of the experience. Also, when you have life-size characters in VR, you naturally want to speak to them. This is when I got interested in using SILVIA to introduce an entirely new mechanic to gaming and interactive entertainment. No more do we have to rely on conversation trees and scripted responses.

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No more do we have to read a wall of text from a quest giver. With this technology, we can have a realistic and free-form conversation with our game characters, and speak to them as if they are alive. This is such a powerful tool for interactive storytelling, and it will allow us to breathe life into virtual characters in a way that’s never before been possible. Seeing the opportunity in front of me, I joined up with Cognitive Code and have spent the last 18 months exploring how to design conversationally intelligent avatars. And I’ve been having a blast doing it.

Click here to continue reading the entire interview!

Rumor: Corsair Could Be Purchased for >$500 Million USD

Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: corsair

According to Reuters, who claims to have two anonymous sources, Corsair “is in advanced discussions” to be acquired by EagleTree Capital. They claim that the transaction, if it goes through in its current form, will be worth more than $500 million USD. EagleTree has several backers, including Goldman Sachs, Macquarie Group, and BNP Paribas.

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From my perspective, this would be an interesting transaction. The company, being private, hasn’t published their finances recently, but annual revenue was as high as $455 million in 2011. Their catalog has since diversified heavily, especially with their seemingly successful power supply, case, and liquid cooling product lines. At first, the rumor felt a little high, because half-of-a-billion dollars is a lot of money, but they’re certainly selling a lot of stock. At the same time, they don't do a lot of their own production, but they do spend a lot of effort in their designs and making them fit a unique niche in one way or another.

Thanks to TechSpot for noticing this!

Source: Reuters