Calxeda gains some allies in the Server War

Subject: General Tech | October 10, 2012 - 01:57 PM |
Tagged: calxeda, arm, 64bit, ARMv8

There are two very big hurdles for Calxeda to overcome if it wants its ARM based servers to make any headway in the market.  The first is OS support which could be the hardest to overcome as they are dependant on programmers making Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Fedora, and openSUSE compatible with ARM chips, Microsoft has already announced that the first version of Windows Server 2012 will not support ARM.  Compatibility is something that Calxeda cannot fix on its own, however the lack of a x64 chip is something that they can work to solve and thanks to the $55M they just received they can now move forward on finishing the chip design.  That money came from an impressive list of allies including the current parent company of GLOBALFOUNDRIES, ATIC as well as ARM Holdings, Battery Ventures, Flybridge Capital Partners, and Highland Capital Partners and will be used to design the next Cortex A15 and an as of yet unnamed x64 chip.  Check out The Register for more.

calxeda-ECore2.jpg

"ARM chip upstart Calxeda is lining its coffers as it prepares to do battle with its 32-bit EnergyCore ECX-1000 processors, and two more cores in its roadmap, to conquer some corner of the server world.

Calxeda now has more than 100 employees, who work in its Austin, Texas headquarters as well as in development labs in Silicon Valley and throughout Asia, and it needs cash as it ramps up sales and etches future EnergyCore processors to handle heavy duty workloads and 64-bit code."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Logitech Breaks in to Mechanical Keyboard with the G710+

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Systems | October 9, 2012 - 06:02 PM |
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, logitech

Earlier in the year I was in a discussion with a friend of mine about mechanical keyboards. His friend was certain that he owned a mechanical gaming keyboard and so I asked him which one. I stopped him the second he said, “Logitech”. They make several high quality keyboards but not one of them mechanical.

That will soon change when they introduce their mechanical G710+ gaming keyboard to the market.

g710plus-gallery-4.png

The Scarecrow went to the Wizard of Oz to ask for a brain.

Logitech asked to remove their membrane-domes. Heels weren't the only things which clicked.

The G710+ keyboard contains Cherry MX Brown switches along with a full set of media keys, a handful of macro keys, and a number pad. While the brown switches tend to be fairly quiet on their own Logitech has also included damping O-rings under each keycap to make it even more silent than most large mechanical keyboard competitors.

The G710+ is also a white LED backlit keyboard with the option to customize brightness such that your movement keys are lit differently than the rest. This is designed to be a visual cue to lead your fingers back to the movement keys in a dark room.

Macro functionality on the G-keys can be programmed using Logitech drivers in the Lua scripting language. This driver is available for Windows Vista through Windows 8 - sorry to the Windows XP holdouts of the world.

The G710+ is expected to retail for $149.99 in the U.S. (and Canada I believe) this month with Europe expected to ship in December.

Check in after the break for the press release.

Source: Logitech

NVIDIA's GTX 650 Ti, the new sub-$200 controller

Subject: General Tech | October 9, 2012 - 04:50 PM |
Tagged: gk106, gtx 650 Ti, kepler, nvidia

The sub-$200 GPU market just got a little more crowded with the arrival of NVIDIA's GTX 650 Ti, available for $160 on NewEgg.  That price matches an XFX HD 7850 if you include the $20 MIR, otherwise there are several other models available for around $180.  That establishes the competition as far as the cost to purchase but it is the performance competition that really matters.  The Tech Report tried out the overclocked GeForce GTX 650 Ti 2GB AMP! Edition from Zotac and the results did not favour NVIDIA, though in some cases the results were quite close.  In the end they felt that users deciding between these cards should ask themselves two questions; do you need the smaller physical size of the GTX 650 Ti for an SFF build and which game would you rather get for free, Assassin's Creed 3 or Sleeping Dogs?

You can read Ryan's full review here, if you haven't already.

TR_650TiAMP.jpg

"Nvidia's new GeForce GTX 650 Ti fills the last great gap in the 600-series lineup, offering Kepler goodness between $149 and 179 or so. We've taken one of the more upscale variants of the new card and delved inside the second to see how it stacks up against the competition."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Samsung's SSDs probably aren't the reason for their profit margin, take advantage while you can

Subject: General Tech | October 9, 2012 - 03:41 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, 830 SDD

DigiTimes is reporting that Samsung's previous quarter earnings were over $7 billion (editor note: corrected typo), a record for the company continuing the trend from the previous quarter.  Samsung has a huge range of products from appliances to PCs and so the profit comes from a variety of business units, with the mobile division mentioned as a star player.  This is perhaps not the reason that 830 series SSDs are so inexpensive right now, but if you are thinking of upgrading your storage now is the time.  Right now at NewEgg you can grab the 830 256GB for $200, and the 128GB model is a mere $90.  You can also check Amazon and your other favourite retailers but for right now the Samsung 230 represents the best deal in SSDs going.  Take advantage now, as the 830 series is on its way out and if their profit margins drop the 840 series won't see the same discounts

amasung830.jpg

"Samsung previously indicated that its smartphone sales would remain strong in the third quarter. In addition, the company's system LSI division is set to register solid sales growth in the quarter, thanks to growing sales generated from its advanced process manufacturing targeting mobile application processors and CMOS image sensors used for high-end mobile products."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

List of Games for Linux Steam Client Leak

Subject: General Tech | October 9, 2012 - 09:26 AM |
Tagged: valve, tux, steam, linux, gaming

A Steam client for Linux has been a long time in the making, but is definitely getting closer to release with an imminent public beta announced last month.

During the initial announcement, Valve hinted that at least one native Linux game would be available along with the new beta client. Many gamers have predicted that the game will be Valve's own zombie FPS Left 4 Dead 2. Now, thanks to a leaked list of games from Valve's CDR database, gamers can add a few more native Linux games to that list. Among the leaked native Linux games are:

  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent
  • Crusader Kings 2
  • Cubemen
  • Dungeons of Dredmor
  • Dynamite Jack
  • Eversion
  • Galcon Fusion
  • Serious Sam 3: BFE
  • Solar 2
  • SpaceChem
  • Steel Storm: Burning Retribution
  • Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP
  • Trine 2
  • Waveform
  • World of Goo 

Unfortunately, various id software titles with Linux ports appear to be absent as well as several popular Linux-only games such as Tuxracer, Super Tuxkart, and other games popular with a certain penguin. It will be interesting to see what newer games Steam is able to bring on board after the official launch as well. I expect to see games like FTL, for example. Further, I'm curious to see how well received Steam will be versus software like the Ubuntu Software Center!

You can find a full list of games currently on Steam (for Windows) that have native Windows binaries – and will likely make it onto the native Linux Steam client – on this wiki page.

Are you excited for Linux to (finally) get a Steam client?

Source: Bit-Tech

AMD Launches New Z-Series APU for Tablets

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 8, 2012 - 09:43 PM |
Tagged: z-60 apu, tablets, radeon hd, APU, amd

AMD launched a new APU today meant for tablets and other mobile devices. The new Z-60 Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) is now the company’s lowest power APU processor. AMD is primarily pushing this chip as the best choice for tablets as thin as 10mm that are capable of running Windows 8.

HDTablet_770x206_Banner.png

The Z-60 APU supports AMD’s Start Now and AppZone technologies for fast boot and resume times and application repository respectively. AMD has stated that it identified a gap between low performance and high priced mobile devices, and believes the Z-60 APU fills that void. AMD Corporate Vice President of Ultra-Low Power Products Steve Belt further stated the following:

“Tablet users seeking an uncompromised experience for both creating and consuming content on the Microsoft Windows 8 platform now have a performance-driven, affordable option with the AMD Z-60 APU.”

Interestingly, AMD has managed to bring the TDP of the new Z-60 lower than the previous generation without sacrificing hardware or needing a new manufacturing process. While the Z-01 is part of the Brazos platform (codename Desna), the new Z-60 is codenamed Hondo and part of the Brazos-T platform, which involves several tweaks to the design to get more power efficiency.

The Z-60 has two Bobcat CPU cores clocked at 1GHz, 1MB L2 cache, and a Radeon HD 6250 GPU with 80 cores. This APU has a TDP of 4.5W, which is a noteable decrease from the Z-01's 5.9W TDP when you consider that this chip is going to be used in a battery powered, mobile device. In fact, with a Z-60 APU, AMD is claiming up to eight hours of batery life. Further, thanks to the integrated HD 6250 GPU, the Z-60 can support Direct X 11, OpenGL 4.1, and OpenCL 1.1 graphics technologies.

  CPU Cores CPU Clockspeed L2 Cache Radeon GPU GPU Cores TDP USB Support
Z-60 2 1 GHz 1 MB HD 6250 80 4.5W 3.0
Z-01 (previous generation) 2 1 GHz 1 MB HD 6250 80 5.9W 2.0

AMD has announced that the Z-60 APU is shipping now to its OEM customers. The company expects that consumers should see products using the new processor as soon as the end of this year.

Read more about the future direction of AMD at PC Perspective.

Source: AMD

Deals for October 8th - Roku 2 XD Media Player for $89

Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2012 - 04:07 PM |
Tagged: deals, deal of the day

Top Deal!!

Roku 2 XD Streaming Media Player for $89.97 with free shipping @ PC Richard (normally $99.99).

deals1008.jpg

Laptops

17.3" Toshiba Satellite L870D-BT2N22 AMD dual-core A6 Laptop for $449.99 with shipping based on location @ Toshiba Direct (normally $529 - use coupon code FALL870DA).

15.6" Dell Inspiron 15R Core i5 Ivy Bridge Laptop w/ 8GB RAM, 1TB Hard Drive for $549.99 with free shipping @ Dell (normally $799 - use $150 coupon code 52M3R113NS8KSB).

 

Desktops

Dell XPS 8500 Core i7 "Ivy Bridge" Quad-Core Desktop w/ 8GB RAM, 2TB HDD & 1GB Radeon HD 7570 graphics for $749 with free shipping @ Dell (normally $999 - use $100 coupon code V48PR?HP99J3D?).

 

Storage Products

512GB Crucial M4 SSD (CT512M4SSD2) for $329.99 with free shipping @ CompUSA (normally $400).

OCZ Agility 2 60GB SSD (OCZSSD2-2AGTE60G) for $29.99 with free shipping @NewEgg (normally $79.99 - use $25 mail-in rebate form).

OCZ Vertex 4 2.5" 256GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD (VTX4-25SAT3-256G) for $179.99 with free shipping @ NewEgg (normally $249.99).

240GB OCZ Agility 3 SSD (AGT3-25SAT3-240G) for $149.99 with shipping based on location @ CompUSA (normally $200 - use $20 mail-in rebate form).

2TB Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex USB 3.0 External Hard Drive (STAC2000106) for $104.99 with free shipping @ Dell (normally $120).

500GB Western Digital Passport USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive for $54.99 with free shipping @ CompUSA (normally $89.99 - use coupon code: RYF72559).

 

Monitors

27" I-Inc IL272DPB 1080p LED-backlit LCD Monitor for $199.99 with shipping based on location @ CompUSA (normally $299.99).

20" HP W2072a LED-backlit LCD Monitor for $89.99 with free shipping @ HP (normally $109.99 - use coupon code: SVP471394).

 

Entertainment

Cisco Linksys RE1000 Refurbished Wireless-N Wi-Fi Range Extender/Bridge for $34.19 with free shipping @ Cisco (normally $89.99 - use coupon code: HSDISH5).

60" LG 60PA5500 1080p Plasma HDTV for $899.99 with free shipping @ Dell (normally $1,100).

42" RCA 42PA30RQ Plasma 720p 600Hz HDTV for $300 with Free Shipping @ Best Buy (normally $410).

 

Portables

Cisco WVC210 Wireless-G Security IP Camera for $123.49 with free shipping (normally $299.99 - use coupon code: HSDISH5).

Source: LogicBuy
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

Thoughts about Interface Design in General

I have been in several situations where a variety of people claim the gamepad is superior for gaming because that is what it was designed for. No elaboration or further justification is given. The controller is designed for gaming and is therefore clearly better. End of – despite often being start to – discussion in their minds.

Really it is a compromise between the needs of popular games and the environment of a couch.

Interface design is complicated. When you design an interface you need to consider: the expected types of applications; the environment of the user; what you are permitted to use; what tolerances are allowed; what your audience is used to; and so on, so forth. There is a lot to consider when you design an application for a user and I could make an educated guess that it is at least as hard to design the input device itself.

The history of keyboard design is a great example of tradeoffs in input devices.

Sometimes it is better to be worse...

Dvorak.svg_.png

The first wave of keyboards were interfaces to the mechanical typewriter. These keyboards were laid out in alphabetical order because as long as each key is accessible and the user could find the letter they wanted – who cares, right? We already have an order for the alphabet that people understands so the users should not have too much difficulty in finding the letter they need.

Another constraint quickly game to light: typists were too fast and the machines jammed.

The engineers now needed to design an input method which could keep up with the typist. Correcting the machine itself was somewhat futile so the solution was to make the typist as slow as possible. The most common letters in the English language were spread all over the place and – while possibly by fluke – the left hand is favored, as in made do more work, over the often dominant right hand.

The problem required making the most aggravating keyboard layout engineers could imagine. QWERTY was born.

What has been designed to threaten QWERTY? Read on to find out.

Adafruit Releases Alpha of Raspberry Pi WebIDE To Progam Raspberry Pi From Within Browser

Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2012 - 05:16 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, programming, IDE, adafruit

The popular, if elusive, Raspberry Pi had the original intent to be a cheap computer capable of introducing kids to programming. In furthering that goal, Adafruit has been working on a programming IDE (Integrated Development Environment) with a simple interface designed to be accessible to beginners. The so-called "WebIDE" is installed on the Raspberry Pi and then can be run on any other networked computers from within a web browser. It syncs your programming code with Github competitor Bitbucket as well.

WebIDE_Big_Logo.jpg

The Raspberry Pi WebIDE is currently in alpha and can now be downloaded by the public for those Raspberry Pi users adventurous enough to test it out. Adafruit has put together an installation guide as well as made an install script available to simplify installation. The WbIDE acts like any other programming environment in that you can add and edit files as well as test code on the Raspberry Pi hardware. Hitting "Run" on a program will open up a terminal on the Pi and execute your program, allowing you to develop your code on the hardware it will be used on. Further, it has an automatic update feature for the IDE software itself.

WebIDE_Alpha.jpg

Because of its in-development alpha status, the current release is likely to be somewhat buggy and rough around the edges. Adafruit recommends that only experienced users install it at this time. While there is no ETA on a final release, Adafruit has stated that "it is certainly our intention to get this solid and ready for all users, and we will let everyone know when we think it is at that point."

This definitely seems like a useful piece of software if you picked up a Raspberry Pi to learn programming. You can find the full Raspberry Pi WebIDE guide in PDF form on the Adafruit website.

Source: Adafruit

Acer Iconia W700 Detailed With Pricing - Available October 26

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 5, 2012 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, w700, tablet, ssd, Ivy Bridge, Intel, acer

First announced at Computex 2012, Acer is finally ready to share all the details (including pricing) on its upcoming Iconia W700 Windows 8 tablet.

For the uninitiated, the W700 is the top-end tablet in its Iconia W series. It will be based on an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i3 or Core i5 processor, 64GB or 128GB SSD, HD4000 graphics (intel processor graphics) and a battery that allegedly provides up to 8 hours of usage. That hardware is powering a 11.6” IPS display with 10-point multitouch and a resolution of 1920x1080. It further features a rear 5MP camera with autofocus and 1080p video recording and a front-facing webcam capable of recording 720p video.

ICONIA-W700_03.jpg

The tablet also includes 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi as well as various sensors for map applications including a(n oddly named) “G-sensor,” accelerometer, and an E-compass. [No mention of a GPS chip though, so it’s unclear how useful the other map technology will be…]

External I/O includes three USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt port, micro HDMI port, headphone output jack, and DC power jack.

Because of the Ivy Bridge CPU, the tablet has ventilation slots along the top edge of the tablet. It is less than half an inch thick and weighs in at 2.3 pounds.

Also relevant is that the Acer Iconia W700 will have an accessory dock that will hold the tablet in portrait mode at 70 ° for reading or 20 ° for an angled touchscreen. The dock can also hold the W700 tablet in portrait mode for reading ebooks and the like. A Bluetooth keyboard and micro-HDMI to VGA adapter are also available as bundled accessories.

Engadget takes a tour of the Acer ICONIA W700 Windows 8 tablet.

As far as new information goes, the W700 will be available on October 26 (Windows 8’s release day). There will be several SKUs with different levels of hardware (ie. Core i3 vs Core i5). MSRPs of the W700 tablet will range from $799.99 to $999.99 depending on the particular hardware configuration. Further, if you are an Acer corporate customer, you will be able to get the W700 tablet with an extended two year warranty and Windows 8 Pro for $1,049.99. You can find read the full press release on the Acer website.

The prices do seem to be on the high end for a Windows 8 tablet, but ASUS’ leaked Windows 8 tablet prices are not far off.

Source: Acer