Logitech's G433 7.1 Gaming Headset: Stylish Looks and Pro-G Drivers for $99

Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2017 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: wired, surround, Pro-G, logitech, headset, headphones, gaming, G433, DTS Headphone:X, drivers, 7.1

Logitech has released their latest surround gaming headphones with the wired G433 Gaming Headset, a 7.1-channel (via DTS Headphone:X) model that is latest to use the company's Pro-G drivers.

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The style of the new G433 is quite eye-catching, with four colors (black, red, blue, and blue camo) of a unique fabric finish that Logitech says is hydrophobic (repels water) for enhanced durability. The G433 primarily function as an analog headphone (with a 3.5 mm plug) unless an included USB DAC/headphone amp is used, giving PC users access to DTS Headphone:X surround up to 7.1 channels and customizable EQ via Logitech's Gaming Software. The microphone is a removable boom style with noise reduction to help improve voice clarity, and Logitech has used a 5-element double-grounded cable to eliminate crosstalk and prevent game audio from bleeding into voice.

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The G433 arrives with an MSRP of $99, making the headset the least expensive Pro-G option to date, but this comparatively low price tag for a premium option still provides the buyer a complete accessory pack including the USB DAC,  alternate ear pads, two 3.5 mm audio cables (one with inline mic), a 3.5 mm audio/mic Y-cable, and a fabric storage bag.

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The Logitech G433 is available now, and with a pair on hand will have a full review up very soon!

Source: Logitech

AI to the rescue? Microsoft assimilates the security company Hexadite

Subject: General Tech | June 8, 2017 - 12:42 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, hexadite, windows defender, security

If you have never heard of Hexadite you are not alone, the online security company was formed in 2014, headquartered in Boston but based in Tel-Aviv.  As it was just purchased by Microsoft for around $100 million so they can integrate Hexadite's Automated Incident Response Solution into their Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection.  AIRS is not antivirus software, instead it is a tool that integrates with existing software and monitors for any alerts.  Once an alert is detected the tool automatically investigates that alert and searches for solutions, in theory saving your security teams sanity by vastly reducing the number of alerts they must deal with directly.  It will be interesting to see if this has an effect on the perception of companies and users as to the effectiveness of Windows Defender. 

More over at The Inquirer.

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"Hexadite's technology and talent will augment our existing capabilities and enable our ability to add new tools and services to Microsoft's robust enterprise security offerings."

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Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #453 - More Computex, WWDC, 3D Xpoint, and more

Subject: General Tech | June 8, 2017 - 11:22 AM |
Tagged: X399, x370, x299, wwdc, video, shield, podcast, plex, pixel, macbook, Mac Pro, Logitech G413, Lian-Li, gigabyte, computex, asus, asrock, apollo lake, 3D XPoint

PC Perspective Podcast #453 - 06/07/17

Join us for talk about continued Computex 2017 coverage, WWDC '17, 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: 1:33:54
 
Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. Computex Continued
  3. WWDC 2017:
  4. News items of interest:
  5. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  6. Closing/outro
 

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

Source:

IBM Announces 5nm Breakthrough with Silicon Nanosheet Technology

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2017 - 09:31 PM |
Tagged: silicon nanosheet, Samsung, IBM, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, FinFET, 5nm

It seems only yesterday that we saw Intel introduce their 22nm FinFET technology, and now we are going all the way down to 5nm.  This is obviously an exaggeration.  The march of process technology has been more than a little challenging for the past 5+ years for everyone in the industry.  Intel has made it look a little easier by being able to finance these advances a little better than the other pure-play foundries.  It does not mean that they have not experienced challenges on their own.

We have seen some breakthroughs these past years with everyone jumping onto FinFETs with TSMC, Samsung, and GLOBALFOUNDRIES introducing their own processes.  GLOBALFOUNDRIES initially had set out on their own, but that particular endeavor did not pan out.  The ended up licensing Samsung’s 14nm processes (LPE and LPP) to start producing chips of their own, primarily for AMD in their graphics and this latest generation of Ryzen CPUs.

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These advances have not been easy.  While FinFETs are needed at these lower nodes to continue to provide the performance and power efficiency while supporting these transistor densities, the technology will not last forever.  10nm and 7nm lines will continue to use them, but many believe that while we will see the densities improve, the power characteristics will start to lag behind.  The theory is that past 7nm nodes traditional FinFETs will no longer work as desired.  This is very reminiscent of the sub 28nm processes that attempted to use planar structures on bulk silicon.  In that case the chips could be made, but power issues plagued the designs and eventually support for those process lines were dropped.

IBM and their research associates Samsung, GLOBALFOUNDRIES at SUNY Polytechnic Institute Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering’s NanoTech Complex in Albany, NY have announced a breakthrough in a new “Gate-All-Around” architecture made on a 5nm process.  FinFETs are essentially a rectangle surround on three sides by gates, giving it the “fin” physical characteristics.  This new technology now covers the fourth side and embeds these channels in nanosheets of silicon.

The problem with FinFETs is that they will eventually be unable to scale with power as transistors get closer and closer.  While density scales, power and performance will get worse as compared to previous nodes.  The 5nm silicon nanosheet technology gives a significant boost to power and efficiency, thereby doing to FinFETs what they did with planar structures at the 20/22nm nodes.

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One of the working EUV litho machines at SUNY Albany.

IBM asserts that the average chip the size of a fingernail can contain up to 30 billion transistors and continue to see the density, power, and efficiency improvements that we would expect with a normal process shrink.  The company expects these process nodes to start rolling out in a 2019 time frame if all goes as planned.

There are few details in how IBM was able to achieve this result.  We do know a couple things about it.  EUV lithography was used extensively to avoid the multi-patterning nightmare that this would entail.  For the past two years Ametek has been installing 100 watt EUV litho machines throughout the world to select clients.  One of these is located on the SUNY Albany campus where this research was done.  We also know that deposition was done layer by layer with silicon and the other materials.

What we don’t know is how long it takes to create a complete wafer.  Usually these test wafers are packed full of SRAM and very little logic.  It is a useful test and creates a baseline for many structures that will eventually be applied to this process.  We do not know how long it takes to produce such a wafer, but considering how the layers look to be deposited it takes a long, long time with current tools and machinery.  Cutting edge wafers in production can take upwards of 16 weeks to complete.  I hesitate to even guess how long each test wafer takes.  Because of the very 3D nature of the design, I am curious as to how the litho stages work and how many passes are still needed to complete the design.

This looks to be a very significant advancement in process technology that should be mass produced in the timeline suggested by IBM.  It is a significant jump, but it seems to borrow a lot of previous FinFET structures.  It does not encompass anything exotic like “quantum wells”, but is able to go lower than the currently specified 7nm processes that TSMC, Samsung, and Intel have hinted at (and yes, process node names should be taken with a grain of salt from all parties at this time).  IBM does appear to be comparing this to what Samsung calls its 7nm process in terms of dimensions and transistor density.

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Cross section of a 5nm transistor showing the embedded channels and silicon nanosheets.

While Moore’s Law has been stretched thin as of late, we are still seeing these scientists and engineers pushing against the laws of physics to achieve better performance and scaling at incredibly small dimensions.  The silicon nanosheet technology looks to be an effective and relatively affordable path towards smaller sizes without requiring exotic materials to achieve.  IBM and its partners look to have produced a process node that will continue the march towards smaller, more efficient, and more powerful devices.  It is not exactly around the corner, but 2019 is close enough to start planning designs that could potentially utilize this node.

Source: IBM

Qt Outlines What Their View on Vulkan Support Is

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2017 - 09:10 PM |
Tagged: Qt, vulkan

During our recent interview, the Khronos Group mentioned that one reason to merge into Vulkan was because, at first, the OpenCL working group wasn’t sure whether they wanted an explicit, low-level API, or an easy-to-use one that hides the complexity. Vulkan taught them to take a very low-level position, because there can always be another layer above them that hides complexity to everything downstream of it. This is important for them, because the only layers below them are owned by OS and hardware vendors.

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This post is about Qt, though. Qt is a UI middleware, written in C++, that has become very popular as of late. The big revamp of AMD’s control panel with Crimson Edition was a result of switching from .NET to Qt, which greatly sped up launch time. They announced their intent to support the Vulkan API on the very day that it launched.

Yesterday, they wrote a blog post detailing their intentions for Vulkan support in Qt 5.10.

First and foremost, their last bulletpoint claims that these stances can change as the middleware evolves, particularly with Qt Quick, Qt 3D, Qt Canvas 3D, QPainter, and similar classes. This is a discussion of their support for Qt 5.10 specifically. As it stands, though, Qt intends to focus on cross-platform, window management, and “function resolving for the core API”. The application is expected to manage the rest of the Vulkan API itself (or, of course, use another helper for the other parts).

This makes sense for Qt’s position. Their lowest level classes should do as little as possible outside of what their developers expect, allowing higher-level libraries the most leeway to fill in the gaps. Qt does have higher-level classes, though, and I’m curious what others, especially developers, believe Qt should do with those to take advantage of Vulkan. Especially when we start getting into WYSIWYG editors, like Qt 3D Studio, there is room to do more.

Obviously, the first release isn’t the place to do it, but I’m curious none-the-less.

Source: Qt

Dawn of War III Vulkan Support on Linux to Add Intel GPUs

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2017 - 04:54 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, linux, vulkan, Intel, mesa, feral interactive

According to Phoronix, Alex Smith of Feral Interactive has just published a few changes to the open source Intel graphics driver, which allows their upcoming Dawn of War III port for Linux to render correctly on Vulkan. This means that the open-source Intel driver should support the game on day one, although drawing correctly and drawing efficiently could be two very different things -- or maybe not, we’ll see.

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It’s interesting seeing things go in the other direction. Normally, graphics engineers parachute in to high-end developers and help them make the most of their software for each respective, proprietary graphics driver. In this case, we’re seeing the game studios pushing fixes to the graphics vendors, because that’s how open source rolls. It will be interesting to do a pros and cons comparison of each system one day, especially if cross-pollination results from it.

Source: Phoronix

Roccat's newest Kone, the EMP gaming mouse

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2017 - 03:57 PM |
Tagged: input, roccat, Kone EMP, gaming mouse

Roccat;s new Kone EMP shares some attributes with earlier members of the Kone lineup, specifically the Owl-Eye optical sensor based on PixArt’s PWM 3361DM, which can be set at up to 12000dpi and the SWARM software suite to program the mouse.  The onboard ARM Cortex-M0 and 512kB of memory allows the mouse to keep that programming, even on another machine which does not have SWARM installed.  Modders-Inc tested the mouse out, see what they thought of it here.

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"The Roccat Kone EMP is the next mouse in the Kone line up and the successor to the Kone XTD. The Kone EMP features Roccat's OWL-Eye optical sensor and four RGB LEDs for custom lighting."

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Source: Modders Inc

A chat with Paradox on sequels and expansions

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2017 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: gaming, paradox

Paradox is well named as it has a very different philosophy from the rest of the industry about how to treat games after they have been released.  It is becoming quite common for developers to already be working on a sequel to a game that they have just released, or are in the process of releasing.  Once a game launched you can expect to see numerous and often expensive DLC released for the game, which usually offer little to no new real gameplay or functionality.

Paradox treats games completely differently, their DLC expansions are often expensive but frequently offer a significant change to the base game and when released they always add several major new features to anyone who owns the game without charge.  They do this for a long time after launch, two examples are Crusader Kings II which is five years old and has twelve expansions, while the four year old Europa Universalis IV has ten expansions.  Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN sat down with the creative director Johan Andersson and CEO Fredrik Wester to discuss the future of these games and Paradox itself, as well as talking about the effects of offering major updates to older games as opposed to the more common constant release of sequels to games.

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"With Crusader Kings II now five years old and twelve expansions deep, and Europa Universalis IV a relatively sprightly four years and ten expansions, what is the future of these titles? At what point are they done and at what point does the thought of a sequel come up."

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Coming as a shock to no one, Wannacry can exploit Windows 10

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2017 - 12:42 PM |
Tagged: wannacry, windows 10, security

If you have an unpatched Windows installation you are vulnerable to the SMBv1 exploit, except perhaps if you are still on WinXP in which case your machine is more likely to crash than to start encrypting. Do yourself a favour and head to Microsoft to manually download the patch appropriate for your OS and run it, if you already have it then it will tell you so, otherwise it will repair the vulnerability.  The version of Wannacry and its progenitor, EternalBlue, which is making life miserable for users and techs everywhere does not currently go after Win10 machines but you can read how it can easily be modified to do so over at Slashdot.

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"The publicly available version of EternalBlue leaked by the ShadowBrokers targets only Windows XP and Windows 7 machines. Researchers at RiskSense who created the Windows 10 version of the attack were able to bypass mitigations introduced by Microsoft that thwart memory-based code-execution attacks."

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Source: Slashdot

GOG.com Summer Sale Has Just Begun

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2017 - 07:02 AM |
Tagged: sale, pc gaming, GOG

GOG.com, formerly Good Old Games, because good old names, is having their summer sale. Discounts are advertised at up to 90%, and a copy of Rebel Galaxy will be gifted immediately following your first purchase.

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For me, this was the moment that I jumped on The Witcher 3. I deliberately avoided it until the DLC were bundled and the whole package was on a significant discount, which is now the case. The Witcher 3 Game of the Year, albeit not the year that we’re in, is now 50% off. Another front-page deal is Dragon Age Origins Ultimate Edition for 80% off, as is the original Mirror’s Edge, although I already have both of them. If you haven’t played it yet, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is great, and it’s 85% off (under $2).

Source: GOG.com