Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 7, 2012 - 03:33 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Siggraph, opengl, OpenGL ES, OpenGL 4.3, OpenGL ES 3.0
OpenGL turned 20 as of the start of this year. Two new versions of the API have just been released during SIGGRAPH: OpenGL 4.3 and OpenGL ES 3.0. Ars Technica put together a piece to outline the changes in these versions – most importantly: feature parity between Direct3D 11 and OpenGL 4.3.
As much attention as Direct3D gets for PC gamers – you cannot ignore OpenGL.
Reigning in graphics hardware is a real challenge. We desire to make use of all the computational performance of our devices but also make it easy to develop for in as few times as possible. Regardless of what mobile, desktop, or other device you own – if it contains a GPU it almost definitely supports either OpenGL or OpenGL ES.
Even certain up-and-coming websites utilize the GPU to break new ground.
The Khronosgraph says 20 years.
Two new versions of OpenGL were recently published: OpenGL 4.3 as well as OpenGL ES 3.0. For the first time OpenGL allows programmers to access compute shaders which makes it easier to accelerate computations which do not work upon pixels, vertices, or geometry without bringing in OpenCL or some other API. Unfortunately this feature does not appear to carry over to OpenGL ES 3.0.
OpenGL ES is also important, not just for native mobile development as it is intended, but also because it is considered the basis of WebGL. It is likely that a future WebGL revision will contain the OpenGL ES 3.0 enhancements such as many rendering targets, more complex shaders, and so forth.
But it seems like the major reason why these two revisions were released together – apart from their timing aligning with the SIGGRAPH trade show – is because OpenGL and OpenGL ES have been somewhat merged. OpenGL ES 3.0 is now a subset of OpenGL 4.3 rather than some heavily overlapping Venn diagram. Porting from one specification to the other should be substantially easier.
So happy birthday, OpenGL – just don’t go down the toilet on your 21st.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 7, 2012 - 02:07 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8 style ui, windows 8, windows, operating system, microsoft, Metro
The Windows 8 RTM leak has coincided with numerous articles around the Internet that detail the new features and the Windows 8 Style UI once known as Metro. It seems that a new setup process and the removal of Aero Glass were not the only big aesthetic changes. With the new build came several alleged tweaks by Microsoft that prevent several methods for automatically booting to the desktop. Group Policy tweaks and a autorun shortcut were two such methods–that worked on early beta builds but no longer work on the RTM–to skip past the Metro/Windows 8 Style UI Start Screen, according to Rafael Rivera of Windows 8 Secrets.
Previously, users could login and be automatically taken to the desktop. They would still see the Metro screen, but only for a split second. Now, users wanting to do this are back to square one, and will have to manually launch the desktop each time they login to their computers.
It is not all bad news, however (well, at least not as bad). If you drag the desktop
Metro Windows 8 Style UI tile to the top-left corner, as soon as you login, you can hit the Enter key to go to the desktop. It is a less automatic way than has been previously possible, but it is better than nothing.
Some speculation and opinion follows:
It seems that Microsoft is taking a very firm position on Windows 8’s new Start Screen interface and full screen applications. While it is likely that developers and enthusiasts are working on new tweaks to get to the desktop automatically again, I foresee this being a drawn out tit-for-tat battle between Microsoft and its users. Beyond the new interface, this stance of working against customization is something I have not seen before on this level, as previous operating system have had numerous tweaking utilities and Microsoft did not seem to have a problem with them. My only guess is that they believe by forcing users to use Windows 8 Style UI as much as it possibly can, it will get users used to, and accepting of, the interface faster (essentially trying to get users over the radical interface change as quickly as possible–ike ripping a bandaid off). And if I let the cynical side get the best of me, Microsoft does have a vested interest in keeping users on the Metro/Windows 8 Style interface as much as possible as they want users to buy Metro apps and not use traditional applications. They are selling the upgrades for $40 and likely want to “make up” the money (compared to selling prices of previous versions) by taking a cut of Windows Store app purchases. The company’s insistence on forcing usage is only going to hurt them, I fear, as people who are on the fence about Metro–but who are interested in the other improvements–likely want to come to the new interface on their own terms (if at all). Actively working against users trying to use and customize their operating systems may well cost them a few sales. It would seem to me that Microsoft should be welcoming anyone that wants to use Windows 8, even if they do not want to stay in (or use at all) the Metro interface but that's just my opinion and apparently Microsoft is of a different mind.
Whether you love, hate, or feel somewhere in-between on Windows 8 Style UI, options are not a bad thing. I do think that more people would be willing to give Microsoft’s new interface a chance if it was more optional than it is. What do you think?
Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2012 - 01:54 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: trigate, 3d transistors
In case you were worried that Intel was the only one successfully researching and implementing 3D transistors, this research from Hokkaido University in Sapporo will cheer you up. Whereas Intel went with 22nm process SOI high-K gates utilizing Hafnium, this process creates nanowires made of indium gallium arsenide at around 10nm, though the process does not necessarily translate directly. NanoTechWeb's article mentions that some of these transistors have 6 edges, which if all could be successfully utilized means a doubling of density compared to Intel's design, though they do not mention what the thermal impact of the increased gate count would be. It would seem that Intel is already aware and interested in this technology; for building CMOS chips as opposed to CPUs however.
"Gate structures in silicon-based transistors will have to evolve in the future as these devices become ever smaller. Researchers in Japan have made an important advance in developing these next-generation architectures by successfully fabricating vertical transistors from semiconducting nanowires on a silicon substrate. The wires, made from indium gallium arsenide, are surrounded by 3D – rather than planar-shaped – gates and the finished devices have extremely good electronic properties."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- AMD borrows $300m to fill war chest @ The Register
- Intel Lists 36 Variants Of Haswell Graphics @ Phoronix
- NiteCore Smart PD D10sp R2 LED Flashlight Long-Term Review @ ModSynergy
- Web Browser Performance Roundup for Q3 2012 @ NGOHQ
- Automate the Web Using IFTTT: Useful Recipes to Get You Started @ TechSpot
- The TR Podcast 116: The Nexus between Batman and Korean IPS displays
- Win A QNAP TS-219P II NAS Server @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 7, 2012 - 01:15 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: deal of the day, evga, gtx 460, 2win
Do you remember when we posted our review of the EVGA GeForce GTX 460 2Win graphics card? Just last year it retailed for $409 and rivaled the performance of the GTX 580. Well now you can pick one up for just $169 after a mail-in rebate!
This card features a pair of GF104 GTX 460 GPUs on a single PCB running in a semi-permanent SLI configuration. And considering a GTX 580 card will still cost you over $400 online today, the GTX 460 2Win from EVGA for $169 is a fantastic deal!!
Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2012 - 10:41 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: FirePro APU, APU, amd, a320, a300
AMD announced today that it is extending the professional FirePro brand to its Accelerated Processing Units–APUs. Aimed at the professional market, AMD is hoping to get its APUs into workstations that perform computer aided design (CAD) work as well as multimedia content creation and editing. Thanks to the APU’s built-in VILW4 graphics, it can be used with GPU-accelerated software to speed up workloads.
Currently, there are two FirePro chips planned–the A300 and A320 APU. Both processors are based on the company’s consumer Trinity APUs. They feature four Piledriver CPU cores and a VLIW4 GPU architecture with 384 stream processors and dedicated UVD video decoding hardware. The A300 is clocked at a 3.4 GHz with a turbo speed of 4 GHz. On the other hand, the A320 has a base clockspeed of 3.8 GHz and a turbo clockspeed of 4.2 GHz. The A320 is even unlocked, which would allow open overclocking.
|APU Model||TDP||CPU Cores||CPU Clockspeed (base/max turbo)||Stream Processors||GPU Clock||Unlocked|
|AMD FirePro A300||65W||4||3.4 GHz/4 GHz||384||760 Mhz||No|
|AMD FirePro A320||100W||4||
3.8 GHz/4.2 GHz
The new FirePro APUs differ from the consumer lineup in that AMD has put them through more testing to ensure reliability and compatibility with industry software.
- AMD Eyefinity Technology support
- AMD Turbo Core
- Display resolutions up to 10,240 x 1600 for multi-monitor setups
- Discrete Compute Offload support that allows the pairing of the APU graphics and a discrete GPU to accelerate GPGPU software.
- 30-bit color support
- Dedicated UVD hardware for media encoding
It is an interesting move for AMD to get into the workstation and professional design market. The company has been putting out dedicated graphics cards aimed at professionals for a long time, and now with the company betting its future on HSA and APUs, it was only a matter of time before they started aiming APUs at the professional market as well. The A300-series APUs will be available in various workstation integrators (OEMs for workstations) starting this month. Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or whether the processors will be sold individually or not. You can see the full press release on the AMD website.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling, Processors, Chipsets, Memory, Displays | August 7, 2012 - 10:07 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Z77, motherboard, mini-itx, Intel, gigabyte, ga-h77n-wifi
During a European roadshow, Gigabyte showed off a new Mini-ITX form factor motherboard for the first time. Called the GA-H77N-WIFI, the motherboard is well suited for home theater and home server tasks. Based on the H77 chipset, it is compatible with the latest Intel Core i3 (coming soon), i5, and i7 "Ivy Bridge" processors. The board goes for an all-black PCB with minimal heatsinks on the VRMs, and the form factor is the same size as the motherboard that Ryan recently used in his Mini-ITX HTPC build.
The GA-H77N-WIFI features a LGA 1155 processor socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, PCI Express slot, two SATA 3Gbps ports, two SATA 6Gbps ports, and an internal USB 3.0 header. There are also two Realtek Ethernet controller chips and a Realtek audio chip.
- 1 PS/2 port
- 2 USB 3.0 ports
- 2 HDMI ports
- 1 DVI port
- 2 Antenna connectors (WIFI)
- 4 USB 2.0 ports
- 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports
- 1 Optical S/PDIF port
- 5 Analog audio jacks
The dual Gigabit Ethernet ports are interesting. It could easily be loaded with open source routing software and turned into router/firewall/Wi-Fi access point. To really take advantage of the Ivy Bridge support, you could put together a nice media server and HTPC recording/streaming box (using something like SiliconDust's HDHomeRun networked tuners or Ceton's USB tuner since this board is very scarce in the way of PCI-E slots). What would you do with this Mini-ITX Gigabyte board?
Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or availability, but the motherboard is likely coming soon. You can find more information on the motherboard over at tonymacx86, who managed to snag get some photos of the board.
Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2012 - 05:55 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows, webkit, security, safari for windows, safari, browser, apple
The Apple-developed Safari is one of the least popular webkit-based browsers on Windows. Even so, it still commands 5% marketshare (across all platforms), and that is a problem. You see, many sites are reporting that Apple has dropped support for Safari on Windows. Windows users will not get the update to Safari 6–the new version available to Mac OS X 10.6 and 10.7 Mountain Lion users. As well, it seems that Apple has removed just about every reference to ever having a Windows version of any Safari browser from its website.
Image Credit: MacLife
The issue is that the final version that Windows users are stuck with–version 5.1.7–has a number of documented security vulnerabilities that are never going to get patched by Apple. According to Maximum PC, there are at least 121 known security holes listed in Apple’s own documentation. And as time goes by, it is extremely likely that the number of unpatched security holes will increase. Running an outdated browser is not good security practice, and running a browser that is EOL and has known vulnerabilities is just asking for trouble.
While the number of PC Perspective readers running Safari for Windows is likely extremely small, I would advise that you be on the lookout next time you are doing tech support for your friends and relatives, and if they managed to get roped into using Safari thanks to Apple’s Itunes software updater convince them to move to a (dare I say better) more secure browser like Google’s Chrome, Opera, or Firefox. At least those are still getting updates, and some are even automatically done in the background.
Have you ever used Apple’s Safari for Windows browser? What would you recommend as the best alternative? Let us know in the comments below.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | August 6, 2012 - 02:12 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Ivy Bridge-E, Intel
According to VR-Zone, an Intel roadmap has surfaced which outlines the upper end of the company’s CPU product line through the end of 3rd Quarter 2013. The most interesting albeit also most confusing entry is the launch of Ivy Bridge-E processors in the quarter after the Haswell mainstream parts.
So apparently the lack of high-performance CPU competition unhooked Intel’s tick-tock-clock.
The latest Intel CPU product roadmap outlines the company’s expected product schedule through to the end of Q3 2013. The roadmap from last quarter revealed that Intel’s next architecture, Haswell, would be released in the second quarter of 2013 with only Sandy Bridge-E SKUs to satisfy the enthusiasts who want the fastest processors and the most available RAM slots. It was unclear what would eventually replace SBE as the enthusiast part and what Intel expects for their future release cycles.
I can Haswell-E’zburger?
(Photo Credit: VR-Zone)
Latest rumors continue to assert that Sandy Bridge-E X79 chipset-based motherboards will be able to support Ivy Bridge-E with a BIOS update.
The downside: personally, not a big fan of upgrading CPUs frequently.
In the past I have never kept a motherboard and replaced a CPU. While I have gone through the annoyance of applying thermal paste – and guessing where Arctic Cooling stains will appear over the next 2 weeks – I tend to even just use the default thermal tape which comes with the stock coolers. I am not just cheap or lazy either; I simply tend to not feel a jump in performance unless I allow three to five years between CPU product cycles to pass by.
But that obviously does not reflect all enthusiasts.
But how far behind on the enthusiast architectures will Intel allow themselves to get? Certainly someone with my taste in CPU upgrades should not wait 8-10 years to upgrade our processors if this doubling of time-between-releases continues?
What do you think is the future of Intel’s release cycle? Is this a one-time blip trying to make Ivy Bridge scale up or do you expect that Intel will start releasing progressively more infrequently on the upper end?
Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2012 - 01:47 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: space, rover, photos, nasa, mars rover, mars, curiosity
NASA’s latest rover, named Curiosity has successfully landed on Mars a few minutes ago. The NASA team members were understandably ecstatic and gleeful as their hard work paid off. The first fruits of their labor arrived in the form of images from Mars.
An artist's depiction of the Curiosity rover on Mars
Using a rocket-powered skycrane, the one-ton rover was lowered onto the Martian surface to begin its two year mission collecting data for research into everything from water on Mars to the planets past life forms.
The NASA employees in the control room celebrate a successful landing.
Doug McCuistion, Director of the Mars Exploration Program for NASA’s Washington Headquarters stated in a recent press release:
“Curiosity is a bold step forward in learning about our neighboring planet, but this mission does not stand alone. It is part of a sustained, coordinated program of Mars exploration. This mission transitions the program's science emphasis from the planet's water history to its potential for past or present life."
It is an exciting time for NASA, and I’m interested to see what comes out of the Curiosity-aided research! The first images from Mars started arriving soon after the Curiosity rover landed, and more should be coming soon. You can find a collection of images from the Curiosity landing on the NASA website.
One of the first images from Mars
PS While the Xbox 360 gamers got a Mars rover landing game for Kinect, PC users can now play around with their own skycrane-delivered rovers in Kerbal Space Program.
UPDATE: Several low resolution images have been posted to the NASA site and can be seen below. Higher resolution images should become available later.
Images courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech
Subject: General Tech | August 5, 2012 - 10:23 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ssd, Seagate, LaCie, Hard Drive, controlling interest
Earlier this year, it was revealed that hard drive manufacturer was interested in acquiring a controlling interest in LaCie. LaCie is a manufacturer of high-end desktop drive and NAS enclosures. The company announced that it planned to purchase shares from LaCie CEO and Chairman Philippe Spruch and an unnamed partner. Doing so would give Seagate 64.5% of outstanding shares. It is further offering shareholders as much as $5.09 USD for their shares should Seagate acquire 95% of outstanding shares and voting rights within six months of the deal closing.
After getting the necessary go ahead from various governmental anti-trust bodies, Seagate is ready to move forward with the acquisition. Both Seagate Technology PLC (public limited company) and LaCie S.A. (annonymous society) have announced the buyout is official. Seagate has indeed purchased all shares owned by Philippe Spruch and his partner for €4.05 (approximately $5.01) per share, giving Seagate 64.5% of outstanding shares and a majority interest in the company and more votes than the remaining investors combined. Should Seagate acquire 95% of shares within six months, the check made out to the LaCie chairman and his unnamed affiliate would increase 3% due to the price per share paid increasing to €4.17/share (approximately $5.16).
The merging of Seagate and LaCie logos (hehe).
Beyond that, Seagate wants to completely buy out all outstanding shares of the company. It will offer an all cash offer to the remaining shareholders. While Ricol Lasteyrie & Associes is still the independent expert that was announced previously, Seagate has increased the price per share that they are willing to offer shareholders. Should the independent experts okay the offer (by making sure that LaCie shareholders would be getting an appropriate amount of money per share based on an independent valuation), Seagate is prepared to pay up to €4.50 per share, or approximately $5.57. With the new offer, there is no contingency offer like the 3% increase to Spruch should Seagate get 95% of shares. The €4.50 is as much as Seagate is looking to pay.
With all the talk lately of Seagate acquiring an SSD manufacturer, the official acquisition of LaCie is interesting. Seagate may well still be looking for an SSD manufacturer, because although LaCie does have some flash USB key storage experience and products, they do not have SSD experience. Also, the intention to buy LaCie has been known for much longer than the rumor that Seagate would acquire OCZ has been making the rounds on the web. As far as the combination of Seagate and LaCie goes, Seagate is getting a high-end enclosure product lineup that the company can then integrate its own drives into.
While not the announcement that people were hoping for, it is likely a positive move to Seagate to acquire LaCie. Is it OCZ or Fusion IO’s turn next?
Here, you can find more information on the deal.