Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2012 - 05:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: windows 8, ultrabook, taichi, tablet, computex, asus, transformer book, Transformer
ASUS has been showing off its new mobile products at Computex, as you can see from Ryan's pictures below this post. You can catch all the PC Perspective coverage by checking this page, as all Computex related content will show up there. With all the fancy new products, the more pictures the better which is why you should also check out the coverage The Tech Report put up. They snapped a few photos of the dual display Taichi which doesn't have a lid, instead there is a second independent touch screen display on the back which takes the idea behind ASUS' Transformer series to a whole new level. That doesn't mean they abandoned the Transformer though as they also showed off three brand new Ivy Bridge powered Transformer Books and two separate tablets, the 600 and the 810 with the Tegra powered 600 running WinRT for ARM and the 810 running Windows 8 thanks to its Atom processor.
"We're rarely surprised at trade shows these days, but Asus CEO Johnny Shih saved something special for the end of his press conference today. After discussing everything from cloud storage to all-in-ones to notebooks and tablets, he pulled out one more thing: the Taichi. It looked like any other notebook, and Shih took great pleasure in showing off the "beautiful black mirror finish" on the top panel. I couldn't help but shake my head and sigh; the glossy finish was covered in fingerprints and smudges."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Nvidia reveals driver support for Windows 8 preview release @ The Inquirer
- Gigabyte goes dual-port Thunderbolt at Computex @ Kitguru
- Gigabyte’s first A85X socket FM2 motherboard @ Kitguru
- ARM Expects 20-Nanometer Processors By Late 2013 @ Slashdot
- Fujifilm FinePix T400 Review @ TechReviewSource
- CoolerMaster Joint Contest @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | June 4, 2012 - 09:28 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thunderbolt controller, thunderbolt, motherboards, Intel, computex
Anandtech stopped by the Intel booth at Computex 2012 to check out their Thunderbolt display. Intel has three upcoming controllers, with the smallest being only 5.6mm wide. The company is also showing off several motherboards and Thunderbolt peripherals at their booth.
Intel has started off their Computex 2012 showings but showing off several bits of Thunderbolt hardware. They displayed three Thunderbolt controllers in various sizes (and accompanying capabilities), Thunderbolt-equipped motherboards such as this Asus motherboard we were able to get a video demonstration of, Thunderbolt docks, and other Thunderbolt peripherals.
Anandtech was able to get some photos of Intel’s booth display. One of the cool shots that they managed to take shows off three of Intel’s Thunderbolt controllers. From left to right are the Light Ridge, Cactus Ridge, and Port Ridge controllers. While the Cactus Ridge controller is capable of being a host and supporting attached devices, the smaller Port Ridge controller can only connect to Thunderbolt peripherals and only supports a single Thunderbolt port–this chip will see use primarily in tablets and other mobile devices.
In addition to the controllers themselves, Anand spotted several motherboards on display that all sported Thunderbolt controllers. These boards are further aimed at running Windows powered PCs, which is an important consideration with Apple having a large lead on adoption of the technology. Among the motherboards on display are the ASRock Extreme6 and ASRock TB, ASUS P8Z77-V Premium (LINKAGE), a Foxconn board of unknown make, Intel DZ77RE-K75, Gigabyte Z77X-UP5 TH, Gigabyte Z77X-UP4 TH, and a MSI Z77A-GD80 (LINKAGE).
A Thunderbolt Equipped Motherboard: The MSI Z77A-GD80
It does seem like Computex 2012 is the year for an explosion of Thunderbolt devices. As Ryan mentioned on This Week In Computer Hardware, the cost of Thunderbolt devices and the cost of cables versus the “good enough” (and much cheaper) USB 3.0 technology is going to really hold Thunderbolt back from widespread adoption. There is no doubt that Thunderbolt has the potential to be very useful, but the market of people that could really use the technology to it’s fullest is relatively small. Expect Thunderbolt to stick around, at least for a while, but it will likely not rival that of USB 3.0 as far as integration with computers and user adoption. On the other hand, if they can get the cost of cables and related hardware down far enough such that the difference between it and USB 3.0 is not much it could take off...
What do you guys think of all the Thunderbolt technology coming out of Computex (and it’s only day 1!)?
Other Thunderbolt news:
- What is Thunderbolt?
- mLink PCI-E Thunderbolt enclosure shown off at NAB 2012
- External graphics with the MSI GUS II
- Thunderbolt discussion on the PC Perspective Podcast
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 4, 2012 - 03:08 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: computex, thunderbolt, Matrox, macbook, dock, apple
Matrox has recently launched a new Thunderbolt dock aimed at adding desktop peripherals to Apple Macbooks and Ultrabooks. The dock connects via a single Thunderbolt cable (it does require a separate power source as well) and provides one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, a DVI video output, audio in/out jacks, and a Gigabit LAN port. It will be available for purchase in September with an MSRP of $249 USD.
Matrox has released a new laptop dock called the Matrox DS1 that is designed to pair with Thunderbolt-equipped notebooks and provide several additional connectivity options. The aluminum chassis is reminiscent of a slimmer WD My Book drive because of the book like shape. The front of the DS1 dock is a Thunderbolt input and status LED. On the back of the dock is a DVI output, three USB ports (one USB 3.0, two USB 2.0), microphone input, headphone output, and a Gigabit LAN port. To the far right is a DC power input which means that the dock is a bit less portable than I would like but it is not clear how big of a “wall wart” it will come with.
The company has stated that the aluminum case should protect the dock in just about every use case, and the additional IO certainly adds much needed connectivity to Ultrabooks where available ports are at a premium. Senior Director of Sales and Marketing for Matrox, Alberto Cieri, has been quoted by Apple Insider in stating “The new Matrox DS1 docking station easily enables the creation of an ergonomic workspace and brings much-needed expandability for printers, scanners, storage, smartphones, optical drives, cameras, flash drives, and other peripherals.”
The Matrox DS1 will be shown off at Computex 2012 this week in Taipei, Taiwan at Intel’s booth (M0410 in the Nangang Exhibition Hall). After that, it will be shown off at WWDC in San Fransico and Infocomm in Las Vegas on June 12th and June 13th to June 15th respectively. In September of this year it will be available for purchase with an MSRP of $249 USD.
Situations like this are where Thunderbolt really shines, and I would not be surprised to see companies outfitting employees with Ultrabooks for mobile use and a larger monitor and peripherals for in-office use (eschewing a separate desktop machine altogether). The price, especially considering Thunderbolt cables themselves are expensive is going to be the most limiting factor for docks like these despite their usefulness.
Editor's Note: Although Tim didn't mention it, one kind of interesting drawback is that this device does NOT include a Thunderbolt pass through, basically preventing users from taking advantage of the daisy-chain capability TB can offer via a single port / connections on the laptop or computer.
Subject: General Tech | June 3, 2012 - 08:23 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: verizon, pricing, Internet, fios, fiber, 300mbps
According to sources that talked with The Verge, Verizon is planning on offering faster internet services for its FIOS customers, but the new tiers are going to cost a pretty penny.
Verizon will be upgrading many of its FIOS internet speeds, and the changes are set to go into effect on June 17th. The base 15/5Mbps (download/upload) plan will cost $10 more than the current price of $54.99 at $64.99 a month. The current 25/25Mbps will be upgraded to 50/25 and will not see a price increase–it will continue to cost $74.99. The current 50/20Mbps plan will see a significant speed bump to 150/65Mbps, and it will cost $94.99 a month (no price increase). A new 75/35 speed plan will become available and it will cost $84.99 a month. Finally, the service that readers will be drooling over–the 300Mbps plan–will feature speeds of 300Mbps downloads and 65Mbps uploads. It will cost a hefty $204.99 a month, a price that The Verge notes is a mere $5 more than the 150/35 speed tier that it replaces.
Comcast telco fashion, Verizon has managed to tack on up to three fees including a $5 per month fee for those without a contract, a $5 fee for those that do not subscribe to FIOS phone service, and a $100 fee to install equipment for those that want the upper two speed tiers. Fortunately (sort of...), users can avoid the $100 fee if they are new customers or already subscribe to the company’s 150Mbps tier. Also on the less-than-stellar news front, Verizon will not be upgrading plans for those on VDSL plans (in buildings where Verizon delivers fiber to the premises and uses copper from there to homes–think older apartment buildings). Even worse, VDSL customers will still be subject to the increased pricing although they cannot take advantage of the upgraded speeds.
|Single Family Home||VDSL 1||VDSL 2||2 Year Contract||Month-to-Month Rate|
|3/1 Mbps||3/1 Mbps||3/1 Mbps||$54.99||$59.99|
|15/5 Mbps||10/2 Mbps||15/5 Mbps||$64.99||$69.99|
|50/25 Mbps||20/5 Mbps||20/10 Mbps||$74.99||$79.99|
|75/35 Mbps||30/5 Mbps||50/10 Mbps||$84.99||$89.99|
(Source: The Verge. The 150/65 plan doesn't seem like a bad deal actually, if only I had FIOS in my area!)
So this fiber internet upgrade announcement seems great at first does have a dark side. Some customers will be getting a great deal while others will be getting the short end of the stick. Here’s hoping that you are one of the lucky customers on the middle tiers who have FTTH that get a free speed upgrade! More information on the specifics of this upgrade should be coming later this month.
Subject: General Tech | June 3, 2012 - 08:07 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: overclocking, overclock, msi, hicookie, gigabyte, G.Skill, evga, computex 2012, asus
G.Skill will host an overclocking event at Computex 2012 with seven overclockers in an attempt to break world overclocking records. The company is teaming up with ASUS, EVGA, Gigabyte, and MSI for the event, which will be held in Taipei, Taiwan from June 5th to June 9th 2012.
Enthusiast RAM manufacturer G.Skill has announced that they will be hosting an overclocking event at Computex 2012 in Taiwan. The company is partnering up with motherboard manufacturers ASUS, EVGA, Gigabyte, and MSI who will provide several high end motherboards for the overclocking invitational.
G.Skill has further invited seven professional overclockers to attend the event and try to break world records for processors and DDR3 memory using LN2 and a combination of high end motherboards, graphics cards, and G.Skill’s DDR3 RAM. The overclockers in question are Elmor, Fred Yama, Hiwa, Young Pro, Kingpin, HiCookie, and Dinos22. HiCookie was covered by us recently when he pushed a Core i7 3770K to 7.03 GHz and DDR3 memory to an impressive 3.28 GHz. The G.Skill event will push for even higher overlcocks.
The overclocking event will run from June 5th, 2012 to June 9th, 2012 from 11am to 5pm. It will be located at Computex 2012 in the Nangang Exhibition Hall at booth L0118. The event schedule will be as follows:
|Date||Motherboard Brand||Platform||G.Skill Overclockers||Motherboard Overclockers|
|June 5th||MSI||Z77 & X79||
Young Pro (Australia)
Young Pro (Australia)
|Fred Yama (Japan)|
|June 7th||EVGA||Z77 & X79||
Young Pro (Australia)
Young Pro (Australia)
As G.Skill's first overclocking invitational, they will need to push hard for success, and they made sure to have the best record-breaking chance possible by inviting some of the world's best overclockers. As a personal fan of G.Skill, I'm rooting for them to break the RAM overclocking record!
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | June 3, 2012 - 07:21 AM | Tim Verry
US-based boutique computer vendor MAINGEAR today announced (no public facing press release was available at time of writing) a new ultraportable notebook that comes packed with hardware to play the latest games on the go. The notebook in question is the Pulse 11, and as the name implies it is an 11” laptop with the latest Intel Ivy Bridge and NVIDIA Kepler hardware. Weighing in at 3.97 lbs (~1.8 kg) and packing a 6-cell lithium ion battery, the custom gaming notebook has a mostly plastic chassis, full keyboard minus the numpad, large trackpad under the space bar, and a 11.6” LED-backlit display with 1366x768 resolution (16:9).
Despite the plastic chassis, it manages to look nice on the inside as well as the laptop lid–which features a textured pattern and centered MAINGEAR logo. The photo below shows the keyboard and trackpad while the photo above shows off the top of the notebook.
External IO includes a Gigabit LAN port, VGA output, HDMI output, mic and headphone out ports, two USB 3.0 ports on the left side of the notebook, an SD card reader on the front, and a DC power jack, one USB 2.0 port, and a Kensington lock on the right side. There are no ports on the rear of the laptop as that area is taken up by the large Li-ion battery.
The internals of the gaming notebook are the most notable features, however. The Pulse 11 features an Intel Core i7 or i5 Ivy Bridge processor up to a Core i7 3612QM (35W TDP) as well as a NVIDIA GT 650M graphics card with 2GB of GDDR3 memory. Even better is that this notebook supports NVIDIA Optimus technology, which means that it can shut down the dedicated GPU while not gaming to save battery power. Other internals include up to 16GB of dual channel DDR3 1600MHz memory, and either one 600GB SSD or 750GB SATA hybrid hard drive (a mechanical hard drive with large flash memory cache).
The Pulse 11 comes further equipped with an 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth card (internal) and a 9-in-1 multimedia card reader. For audio, the notebook features two speakers that are rated for THX TruStudio Pro sound. The gaming notebook runs the Windows 7 Home, Pro, or Ultimate x64 operating system, and can be optionally upgraded to Windows 8 Pro for $15 USD.
The gaming notebook starts at $999 USD for the base model and goes up from there. It should further be available for purchase starting today (or very soon afterward).
MAINGEAR has stated that its Pulse 11 gaming laptop is “made for gamers looking for a powerful ultraportable that delivers the best of mobile entertainment in its size as well as “the MAINGEAR Pulse 11 was designed to meet the needs of gamers, students, on-the-go digital warriors, and anyone looking for power in the smallest package possible.”
More photos of the Pulse 11 are available below:
Subject: General Tech | June 3, 2012 - 07:20 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: streaming, Hawken, gaming, gaikai
Mech Shooter Hawken will launch on December 12th, 2012 but streaming gaming service Gaikai has made a deal with Meteor Entertainment to allow gamers to play the game before launch to demonstrate its playability through its streaming service using NVIDIA’s GRID cloud gaming technology.
According to gaming website Joystiq, Gaikai has signed a deal with publisher Meteor Entertainment to allow gamers to test out the mech shooter PC game running on Gaikai's streaming service ahead of the game’s official release on 12/12/12. First demonstrated at GTC 2012, the free-to-play game uses NVIDIA’s GRID technology to reduce latency on the server and client sides.
A video of the NVIDIA demonstration.
Mark Long, CEO of Meteor Entertainment stated that "HAWKEN wants to be free and it wants to be everywhere - and with Gaikai, it will be.” The game has proved quite popular and has hundreds of thousands of gamers signing up for the closed beta. The free-to-play game is returning to a PC gaming classic with mech fighting and if Gaikai is able to deliver it will be a game that will be accessible to all kinds of devices from tablets to high powered gaming PCs.
That last bit is the real question though, and one that many gamers have on their minds. Gaikai is offering up the game pre-release to prove itself as a viable platform, and that is going to be a make it or break it situation. Here’s hoping that the NVIDIA GRID technology delivers and results in a playable game with real world performance benefits. While they have not set an exact date for when it will go live, gamers will be able to access it via the playhawken.com website. Will you be checking out Hawken streaming for yourself?
Subject: General Tech | June 3, 2012 - 06:40 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: gaming, frostbite, ea, bf3, 64-bit
Last month, Johan Andersson posted on twitter a tweet that stated future Frostbite engine based games in 2013 would require a 64-bit operating system. The full tweet is shown in the image below. He suggested that it would be a good idea to upgrade to Windows 8, though it is difficult to judge sarcasm in text (hehe). That bit led to a big explosion of tweets as the Internet revolted against what they thought would be required: an x64 version of Windows 8. Mr. Andersson later clarified that any recent x64 version of Windows would be fine.
You can see the tweet on Twitter here.
The Windows 8 suggestion aside, I was very excited about the news that 64-bit Windows would be required. Currently, games are developed with both x64 and x86 versions in mind, which means that games are shackled by the limitations of the x86 (32 bit) operating system. As an example, Sins of a Solar Empire is a game that generally runs great from beginning to mid-game on large maps, but as players build up fleets of ships and have a lot of data to keep track of, the game starts to run out of memory and starts to chug–even when running the game on a 64-bit operating system. The CPU and GPU are not fully utilized, it is a RAM limitation as reported by a number of users and a situation I have found myself in numerous times as well.
32-bit operating systems (and I’m being general here) have a hard limit of about 4GB of RAM, from which the GPU, other expansion devices, and overhead steal a chunk of address space that the OS cannot use even if there is physically 4GB of RAM DIMMS in the system. With 2GB GPUs being common, that leaves a system running 32-bit OSes with 2GB of addressable system memory. From that, the OS can allocate programs, caching, and other system tasks to that 2GB of total available RAM. Modern games can easily hit 2GB or more of RAM usage, but on 32-bit systems they are severely restricted in how much they can use.
By requiring a 64-bit operating system, developers can focus on producing games that can make full use of RAM on modern systems. RTS and other strategy games are going to benefit the most, but even shooters like Battlefield (4?) will run smoother by being able to store as much data in RAM as possible without those pesky restrictions of 32-bit systems. Unfortunately, the upcoming Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion game will still suffer from RAM issues (though it is said to be managed better than previous releases) as it is being developed around the possibility of running on 32 or 64-bit OSes. Here’s hoping that the next SoaSE game will require 64-bit OSes just like Frostbite engine games will.
The best part, aside from performance benefits of course, is that the majority of gamers will not have to do anything when these games come out as they are already running a 64-bit version of Windows. Even OEMs have started loading x64 versions on pre-built systems in the last couple years (since Windows 7 and RAM became so cheap). Most gamers will be able to jump right in and enjoy the benefits immediately because gamers are inherently required to have at least somewhat recent hardware to play the latest games.
In the end, requiring 64-bit operating systems is a good thing, and hopefully more developers will follow in DICE’s footsteps. By freeing themselves from the limitations of 32-bit systems, they can focus on using gamers’ hardware to the fullest–at least until games start using more than 8TB of RAM (which would require a new version of Windows anyway as Win 7 x64 (Ultimate/Pro) can only address 192GB).
US Satellite TV provider DirecTV is upgrading its network and is preparing to deploy Ultra-HDTV services in the future. They are planning to offer both 4K and 8K direct to home streams of TV programming once their users have moved off of Ku band satellites and to Ka band, which the ITU World Radiocommunications Conference in Geneva has named the future carrier of U-HDTV streams.
According to the Advanced Television website, DirecTV is planning for a future transition to Ultra HDTV. Earlier this year, we covered a news article about a Panasonic plasma television that can display 8K images. It was developed in cooperation with Japanese TV broadcaster NHK, and it seems like North American providers are also looking towards these future standards.
DirecTV’s Senior Vice President of R&D and Space and Communications Philip Goswitz has stated that in four to five years, the service provider will likely end it’s Ku-band satellite transmissions as they are currently migrating DirecTV's customers to Ka-band services which has much more bandwidth (currently used for HDTV transmission) than Ku-band. In addition, the company is working on deploying Reverse Band Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) services.
Unfortunately, Goswitz did not state any hard numbers on when DirecTV might make the transition to Ultra-HDTV. The company did state its desire to implement it as soon as possible to keep a competitive edge over cable and IPTV (like AT&T’s Uverse) services. Some numbers being thrown around online indicate that Ultra-HDTV might be available in North America as soon as 2020, though Japan may see UHDTV signals much sooner thanks to Japanese broadcaster NHK heavily developing compression, transmission, and capture devices relating to UHDTV. NHK has managed in the past to compress a UHDTV signal to a 250 Mb/s MPEG2 stream, which is a huge feat considering the uncompressed signal is around 24 Gb/s!
Philip Goswitz was further quoted in stating "4000-line is exciting to us because of its image quality, and the potential for glasses-free 3D."
Compression and bandwidth are going to be the deciding factors in whether DirecTV and other satellite TV providers are able to deliver UHDTV signals to users’ homes. While 8K video sources are scarce themselves, 4K cameras do exist and are being used to film certain movies. 4K adoption is definitely coming–although it is still a few years out at least–and the UHDTV standard is ready to support 4K streams. Over the air and IPTV are the likely candidates for early 4K and 8K transmissions, but DirecTV seems ready dive it as soon as the compression technology, source material, and user adoption is there.
Image courtesy Chris Waits via Flickr Creative Commons
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 1, 2012 - 08:35 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: E3, E3 12
The 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 2012) is taking place next week from Tuesday through to Thursday. Monday will start the week with four press conferences. Stay tuned for as much PC-centric coverage as we can feed you with over the week including expected Unreal Engine 4 news.
If you work in an electronic entertainment retailer -- prepare to be asked weird questions next week.
E3 2012 is kicking off next week and a lot of announcements are expected to come out it. We here at PC Perspective are most interested in learning more about Unreal Engine 4 which is expected to be publicly announced at the expo. We expect that there will be something else which will surprised us as well.
You better be here next week!
Monday will kick off E3 with four press conferences:
- Microsoft from 12:30PM EST to 2PM EST
- EA from 4PM EST to 5PM EST
- Ubisoft from 6PM EST to 7PM EST
- Sony from 9PM EST to 10:30PM EST
Nintendo will take the stage the following day with a Tuesday at Noon EST conference.
Apart from Unreal Engine news I am very excited to find out what Valve has in store for E3. Valve has a private meeting room this year which they skipped for E3 2011. In E3 2010 they demonstrated Portal 2 and this year it is possible that we will see little more than DOTA 2 -- but there is always hope for something more.
What are you guys and girls hoping to see? Unreal 4? Valve cake? Beyond Good and Evil 2?