X-Factor versus Delta Force; does your DX version matter right now?

Subject: General Tech | March 22, 2017 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: gaming, dx11, dx12

We are finally starting to see a diverse enough field of games capable of running in both DX11 and DX12 which makes it much easier to see performance pattern differences.  [H]ard|OCP tested out Rise of the Tomb Raider, Hitman, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, BF1, The Division, Sniper Elite and AotS on AMD's RX480 and NVIDIA's GTX 1080 and 1080 Ti.  In almost all cases the difference between the two APIs were negligible and neither offers significant performance benefits to owners of these cards.  The one exception was Sniper Elite 4 which did see some performance deltas, especially on the RX480.  Check out the full review to see for yourself.

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"We play latest games with DX12 support and find out which is faster, DX12 or DX11? We use the latest drivers from NVIDIA and AMD to find any advantages in this GPU focused review. We’ll get to the bottom of the question, "Should I be running this game in DX12 or DX11 in order to get the best real world gaming performance?"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Is your Joy-Con joyless? The fix is in

Subject: General Tech | March 22, 2017 - 01:07 PM |
Tagged: Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, Joy-Con

The Nintendo Switch seems to be rather popular around these parts but it would seem that not all is wonderful in the land of Zelda.  There have been a slew of reports that the Joy-Cons which Nintendo shipped initially have wireless connectivity issues which interfered with users abilities to use them.  Some enterprising minds cracked the controller open and added a wire to enhance the range and reliability of the Joy-Con's connection.  Ars Technica reports that Nintendo is now offering a fix to customers who are experiencing this issue, they will pay for the shipping back and forth to the repair depot and at least in one case the turnaround was five days.  The fix is a piece of metal-coated conductive foam which should allow you to enjoy your new toy; Nintendo have modified the new models they are shipping to ensure new customers do not run into this problem.

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"Opening up the fixed controller showed that Nintendo didn't have to do much to correct the connection issue. The only apparent difference is a small piece of black foam sitting on top of the corner of the controller board that houses the Bluetooth antenna trace."

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Source: Ars Technica

A call to ARM in the server room

Subject: General Tech | March 21, 2017 - 12:23 PM |
Tagged: server, SBSA, arm

As we mentioned last week, Qualcomm's new Centriq 2400 Platform will run Microsoft server operating systems on ARM chips, however there are those who believe it is already too late for that to save Microsoft's hold on the data centre.  A few years ago ARM started work on developing what they called Server Base System Architecture, essentially creating a standardized way in which any OS can communicate effectively with an ARM chip, the same sort of standardization which originally won the server room for x86 based chips.  With ARM's DynamIQ Technology, which Josh discusses in depth, just around the corner their hardware is also becoming more attractive.  Pop by The Register for more details on this possible industry sea change.

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"Cutting to the heart of it, it doesn't actually matter if Microsoft releases Windows Server for ARM. Windows isn't the future and even Microsoft knows it. The upcoming availability of SQL server on Linux is all the proof we need that the game is over and, in the data centre at least, Microsoft didn't win."

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Source: The Register
Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: ARM

New "Fabric" for ARM

It is not much of a stretch to say that ARM has had a pretty impressive run for the past 10 years since we started paying attention to the company from a consumer point of view.  It took 22 years for ARM to power 50 billion chips that had been shipped.  It took another 4 years to hit the next 50 billion.  Now ARM expects to ship around 100 billion chips in the next four years.
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Last year we saw the introduction of multiple technologies from ARM in the shape of the latest Cortex-A CPUs and a new generation of Mali GPUs.  ARM has been near the forefront of applying their designs to the latest, cutting edge process technologies offered by Samsung and TSMC.  This change of pace has been refreshing considering that a few years ago they would announce a new architecture and expect to see it in new phones and devices about 3 years from that point.  Intel attempted a concerted push into mobile and ARM responded by tightening up their portfolio and aggressively pushing release dates.
 
This year appears no different for ARM as we expect new technologies to be announced again later this year that will update their offerings as well as process technology partnerships with the major pure-play foundries.  The first glimpse of what we can expect is ARM's announcement today of their DynamIQ technology.
 
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DynamIQ can be viewed as a portfolio of technologies that will power the next generation of ARM CPUs, GPUs, and potentially accelerators.  This encompasses power delivery, power control, connectivity, and topologies.
 
 

HyperX's Alloy FPS, available in a wide variety of your favourite flavours of Cherry

Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2017 - 03:55 PM |
Tagged: hyper x, HyperX ALLOY FPS, Cherry MX

If you are a gamer with a very specific definition of what a proper key switch is then check out HyperX's new Alloy.  You can choose between Cherry MX Blue, Brown, or Red switches, depending on your particular preference.  The design is not particularly ostentatious, the bezel has been lowered to fully expose the keys, handy for those who like to swap caps as well as aiding in cleaning.  The Tech Report gave this keyboard high marks at the $100 MSRP and even higher at the $80 price tag it is frequently available at.

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"HyperX's Alloy FPS keyboard delivers a no-nonsense typing experience with Cherry MX switches. We put this pared-down mechanical keyboard under our fingers to see whether HyperX struck the right balance of solidity and simplicity."

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Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Topre

Ultimate Topre

There are cars that get you from point A to point B, and then there are luxurious grand touring cars which will get you there with power, comfort, and style - for a price. Based on the cost alone ($269.99 MSRP!) it seems like a safe bet to say that the REALFORCE RGB keyboard will be a similarly premium experience. Let’s take a look!

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There is as much personal taste at issue when considering a keyboard (or dream car!) as almost any other factor, and regardless of build quality or performance a keyboard is probably not going to work out for you if it doesn’t feel right. Mechanical keyboards are obviously quite popular, and more companies than ever offer their own models, many using Cherry MX key switches (or generic ‘equivalents’ - which vary in quality). Topre keys are different, as they are a capacitive key with a rubber dome and metal spring, and have a very smooth, fast feel to them - not clicky at all.

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“Topre capacitive key switches are a patented hybrid between a mechanical spring based switch, a rubber dome switch, and a capacitive sensor which, combined, provide tactility, comfort, and excellent durability. The unique electrostatic design of Topre switches requires no physical mechanical coupling and therefore key switch bounce/chatter is eliminated.”

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Continue reading our review of the Topre REALFORCE RGB Keyboard!

Hack a Day Prize kicks off today for those with creative spirits and skills

Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2017 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: hackaday prize, contest

The 2017 Hack A Day Prize kicks off today and for anyone thinking of joining, or who has a project they have started or are thinking of starting then you should sign up as there is a huge list of prizes.  In addition to the grand prizes are prizes awarded in five different categories, the first of which is for project design, you don't need a physical product to win this category, a best design plan with details on how the project could help change the world from the better will walk away with the first prize.  The design purpose also matters, your plan might not compete in the IoT category but could soar in the wheels, wings, and walkers or assistive technology portions of the contest.  Check out the rules and regulations and pop a bookmark into your browser to see what the winners and runners up have created!

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"We have over $250,000 in cash going out to hundreds of entries this year. The Grand Prize of $50,000 is joined once again this year by the Best Product Prize of $30,000. Four other entries will place second through fifth and receive $20k, $15k, $10k, and $5k respectively."

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Source: Hack a Day

Microsoft is making friends again, no new Win 7/8 updates for new chips

Subject: General Tech | March 17, 2017 - 01:11 PM |
Tagged: ryzen, kaby lake, microsoft, Windows 7, windows 8

KB4012982 describes the error you will see if you attempt to update Windows 7 or 8.x on 7th generation Intel processors, AMD Bristol Ridge and newer or Qualcomm "8996" and more recent models.  Microsoft has implemented the hardware based obsolescence which they had discussed several months ago when they stated that new chips would need Windows 10 to run.  This move will of course be heralded as brilliant and no one could possibly find this upsetting in the least, especially not in this Reddit thread.  It is a good thing Microsoft does not have a near monopoly in the market and that anyone who does not support this decision can choose from a wide variety of easily implemented alternatives.

Expect there to be workarounds, the vast majority of Enterprise customers have no interest in moving their infrastructure to Windows 10, nor the budget available to do so if they wanted.

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"Microsoft has started the process of built-in obsolescence to current hardware by blocking updates of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to Intel 7th Generation (Kaby Lake), AMD Ryzen and Qualcomm Snapdragon 82x processors."

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Source: Reddit

The power of CUE: CORSAIR's New Tenkeyless K63 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2017 - 01:30 PM |
Tagged: K63, corsair, mechanical keyboard, input, CUE, cherry mx red

Corsair have released a new mechanical keyboard for those aching for something new to type on.  The K63 has an MSRP of $80 and comes with Cherry MX Red switches to go with the red back lighting.  They chose to leave the numpad off of this model but did include media buttons at the top as well as a Windows key lock to prevent you from accidentally hiding the game you were playing.  Read the full PR below the post.

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FREMONT, CA –March 16th - CORSAIR, a world leader in enthusiast memory, PC components and high-performance gaming hardware today announced the new K63 mechanical gaming keyboard. Continuing the CORSAIR legacy of top-quality, high-performance gaming keyboards, the K63 combines tenkeyless design, precision CHERRY MX Red mechanical keyswitches, a full complement of media keys and per-key red LED illumination. What’s more, K63 offers all this at a price that puts mechanical performance within reach of gamers wanting to step up their game to the next level. The result is a perfect combination of mechanical precision, advanced gaming features and a space-saving design that makes it ideal for compact desktops or gamers on-the-go.

Packing the best of CORSAIR keyboards into a new compact size, the K63 boasts a host of features ready to match the most demanding games. Beneath its sleek exterior and gold-contact CHERRY MX Red key switches, per-key red LED backlighting vibrantly illuminates each key. With the power of CORSAIR Utility Engine (CUE) software, every key’s lighting can be controlled individually, allowing for virtually unlimited lighting customization and control. CUE software also allows for near endless programmability, with every key individually reprogrammable with alternative commands, custom macros or dynamic lighting effects.

Dedicated volume and multimedia controls located at the top of the keyboard offer easy access to audio adjustments in-game, while dedicated Windows Key Lock and brightness adjustment buttons allow gamers to keep distractions to a minimum at crucial moments. Precision and accuracy are nothing without control, and the K63 delivers when it matters most. 100% Anti-ghosting with full key rollover ensures that every press of the keyboard is registered, no matter how many keys are pressed simultaneously, or how fast you press them.

CORSAIR K63 Specifications

  • 100% CHERRY MX Red mechanical keyswitches: Gold-contact CHERRY MX mechanical gaming keyswitches deliver the ultimate performance and competitive advantage.
  • Per-key red LED backlighting and large font keycaps: Brilliant red LED backlighting enhances the experience with dynamic and virtually unlimited lighting adjustability.
  • Compact, tenkeyless design: Great for travel, and you’ll have more room for your mouse.
  • Dedicated volume and multimedia controls: Control to adjust media on-the-fly, without interrupting your game.
  • 100% Anti-ghosting with full key rollover: No matter how fast your in-game actions are, your keystrokes always register the way you intended.
  • The power of CUE: Fully programmable with CUE to assign macros to any key and create dynamic lighting effects.
  • Windows Key Lock mode: Stay focused and prevent accidental Windows and Context Menu key presses.

Availability, Warranty and Pricing
The CORSAIR K63 is available immediately from the CORSAIR worldwide network of authorized retailers, and distributors and is backed by a two-year warranty and the CORSAIR worldwide customer support network.

Source: Corsair

Industrial strength hacking

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2017 - 12:51 PM |
Tagged: iot, scary, scada, security, ics

The Register posted a cheerful article today, discussing the security of the other Internet of Things, which they have dubbed the Internet of Big Things.  Botnets formed out of compromised toasters, refrigerators and webcams is one thing; taking over power stations and industrial equipment is quite another.  Citizens of the Ukraine know the dangers all too well, having had their power grid taken offline once in 2015 and again more recently by nefarious means.  Take a read through to learn about how vulnerabilities in systems such as the Industrial Control System and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition could be used to cause significant harm, as well as a search engine reassuringly named Shodan. 

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"The Internet of Big Things exists because it makes perfect sense to have accessibility to equipment from afar. Industrial systems are complex, specialist items and for many such systems it’s common for there to be only a handful of qualified maintenance staff in the country, continent or world."

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Source: The Register