Meet AMD's new CEO

Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2012 - 12:14 PM |
Tagged: amd, Mark Papermaster, fad, Financial Analyst Day, Rory Read

If you haven't had a chance to read through The Tech Report's breakdown of AMD's Financial Analyst Day and the speech that the new CEO Rory Read gave.  Rory replaced long time CEO Dirk Meyer at the helm of AMD after the large shake up AMD underwent late in 2011 and this was one of his first chances to describe his vision for AMD and the market in 2012.  He spend a fair amount of time on low power processors and ultramobile form factors, describing his vision of AMD outflanking Intel at that market segment.  With a history of lower pricing and recent low power processor families, he sees Brazos as a much better alternative than Intel's Ultrabook and especially the anemic Atom line.  He also discussed ARM, not only as a possible future competitor for what used to be be AMD and Intel's exclusive turf as well as possible future competition for AMD's planned SoC products.  Read on for more.


"AMD has a new management team and a new direction. They recently shared their vision for the company's future, and we were there, listening and then chatting with new CTO Mark Papermaster. Read on for our report."

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Microsoft Allegedly Changing Windows Logo To Minimalist Green Tile Design

Subject: General Tech | February 13, 2012 - 01:18 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, windows, OS, microsoft, logo

That fluttering window containing flag that would carry Microsoft into Operating System dominance on the, er, wind of success debuted with Windows 3.0 in 1990. As the years have passed, the company has made alterations and updates to keep the design modern. After 22 years of ingraining into people's minds that the flag logo is Windows, Microsoft may be ditching it in favor of a new minimalistic monochromatic affair. According to Chinese site, Microsoft will roll out the new Windows logo with the launch of Windows 8. Allegedly, the new logo will be four turquoise panels with a shifted perspective and separated by interior white borders. The site claims that the evidence lies in a logo photo and a photograph of a physical "Windows" button on a tablet.


Personally, I think Microsoft would be crazy to change their logo, and especially insane to switch to this particular alleged new logo. Minimalist designs certainly have their place, but the colorful Windows logo that we are all used to has always done a good job of catching the eye (and four blue-green rectangles just don't do it for me). Not to mention that the company has had 22 years to burn into the minds of consumers that the logo is Windows, and it will be difficult for people to accept the new logo. There is definitely a certain amount of nostalgia and consumer confidence associated with the "old" logo, and it seems odd that Microsoft would be so cavalier to throw it away just to make their logo look better on the Metro desktop. Perhaps if they were changing direction and entering a different market or if they had a line of crappy products they would want a new logo, but that really does not seem to be the case. Here's hoping the photos are just fake. On the other hand, if Microsoft does end up taking out the start button it's not like people will be seeing the new logo anyway (heh).

What are your thoughts on the new logo?  Am I off base in thinking that the current logo has a lot of "mindshare" built up and it would be crazy to just leave it behind?

Source: CN Beta

WOA! We wanted Windows 8 on ARM details. We got them.

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | February 9, 2012 - 09:36 PM |
Tagged: WOA, windows, arm

Microsoft has been ridiculously cagey about the discussion of Windows 8 on ARM. At last month’s CES trade show there was a disturbingly low amount of information. Available information about Windows on ARM was in abrupt demonstrations performed by Microsoft spokespeople or behind glass display cases.

Today Steven Sinofsky of Microsoft released quite a bit of information -- over 8500 words even if you exclude image captions and section titles -- about Windows on ARM (officially named “WOA”). Feel free to read for yourself at MSDN’s blog, or keep on reading for our brief summary.


Actually most of the blog post is about building Windows 8 on ARM.

We reported that Windows on ARM has been classified as stable for approximately two weeks at this point.  Our questions about WOA availability were answered, and more: WOA is intended to be released simultaneously as Windows 8 for x86-64. WOA will also not be available standalone and you must purchase a device with it pre-installed.

From the chipset through the firmware and drivers, the work is optimized to be great for WOA. Partners are working hard on creative industrial designs and form factors that will include more than tablets. These are all under development today.


The PC will come with the OS preinstalled, and all drivers and supporting software. WOA will not be available as a software-only distribution, so you never have to worry about which DVD to install and if it will work on a particular PC.

Applications written for Windows on ARM can only be distributed through Windows Update or the Windows Store. Being an advocate of the open PC I find this quite unnerving as it quickly creates situations where art becomes at the mercy of the platform owner similar to what is seen on the consoles. That said, it also seems to suggest that Microsoft is not intending WOA to be fill all the roles of a typical PC.


Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote will be available for WOA as Office 15. The typical file explorer and desktop will also be available for WOA. Mouse and keyboard support is also available for Windows on ARM. These will all be available within Office so the user can control there their files will be stored.

Windows 8 for x86-64 will be released as an open Beta at the end of the month. Microsoft will also release, by invite only, devices for developers. The intent of course is to give developers time to create applications for WOA. You should not expect those devices to be any more than development tools designed to prevent day-one apps from being developed in a single day.

Source: MSDN Blogs

AMD Verdetrol 1GHz Prescription Pills Arrive at PC Perspective

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 9, 2012 - 08:48 PM |
Tagged: amd, radeon, southern islands

Working from home comes with a host of stereotypes and assumptions that the rest of world places on people like myself.  I am often accused of working in my underwear, not showering through day-long stretches, not working and instead playing games all day and of course, being a drug dealer.  And NOTHING perpetuates that vision from the outside world like an overnight UPS package arriving with the sound of rattling pills inside.  This is what greeted me after my delivering smirked away:


In preparation for an upcoming graphics launch AMD thought up a pretty interesting marketing campaign geared around a "Verdetrol 1GHz" drug that will apparently help the reviewing community "enhance performance".  Hmph.


Actually contained within are 28 jelly beans (get it, 28nm???) of a flavor I can't quite detect though I am guessing they are somehow related to this.  And of course, these pills are for "external use only" - a healthy warning.


The telephone number is listed as 905-555-7770 so you can probably guess what the hubbub is all about.


And while the directions state to take one tablet daily by fan intake, we were never one to conform.

Podcast #188 - Featuring David Hewlett - White Space Wireless, AMD and NVIDIA GPU roadmaps, Hard Drives with lasers and more!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 9, 2012 - 04:08 PM |
Tagged: wireless, whitespace, ssd, podcast, nvidia, mdt, intel 520, Intel, gpu, APU, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #188 - 02/09/2012

Join us this week as we talk about White Space Wireless, AMD and NVIDIA GPU roadmaps, Hard Drives with lasers 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: - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malvantano, and David Hewlett

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:44:27

Program Schedule:

  1. Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or
  4. and
  5. 0:01:30 Introduction with David
    1. Okay, seriously, how nerdy are you really?
    2. What kind of hardware systems and specs do you have?
    3. What games are you playing today?  
  6. 0:13:25 AMD Processor and GPU Roadmaps Through 2013
  7. 0:28:30 Galaxy MDT GeForce GT 520 Graphics Card Review
  8. 0:32:00 Intel 520 Series SSD Full Review - SandForce on Steroids?
  9. 0:43:00 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  10. 0:45:05 White Space Wireless Discussion
    1. Links for reference: - WikipediaUS Radio Spectrum Chart (2003), 
  11. 0:56:00 Increased Hard Drive Write Speed and Density - Using Frickin' Lasers
  12. 1:02:00 An academic collaboration leads to a GPU/CPU collaboration
  13. 1:07:25 AMD shows 18mm thin reference ultrathin notebook based on Trinity
  14. 1:11:05 Tablets / Ultrabooks in Schools
  15. 1:16:45 NVIDIA Kepler Graphics Cards Lineup Leak To Web
  16. 1:22:30 PC Perspective Office Tour - Feb 6th, 2012
  17. 1:26:40 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Just in time for Valentine's Day...
    2. Jeremy: Now that's how you make a contest!
    1. Josh: Just got one for the wife. For great justice.
    2. Allyn: ioSafe SoloPRO
    3. David: Samsung Flexible Displays
  18. 1-888-38-PCPER or
  20. and
  21. Closing


Collision alert! ARM, AMD and Intel are all headed for the same market

Subject: General Tech | February 9, 2012 - 12:07 PM |
Tagged: arm, Intel, amd, atom, low power, cortex, Medfield, hondo

To revive an old buzzword some of you may have forgotten, ubiquitous computing is the current holy grail of the computing industry.  If AMD, Intel, ARM and to a lesser extent NVIDIA, can get the market to prefer one of their low power processors over the competitions there is a lot of money to be made in the mobile market.  The way that they are approaching the market is very different however.   In Intel's case they pride themselves on the general computation power of their upcoming Medfield processor though that comes at the cost of power consumption and less graphics capabilities.  AMD. like Intel, are trying to reduce the power consumption of their chips and though they lag behind in general CPU performance the graphics capabilities are generally considered superior.

Then there is ARM, which is striving to overcome its reputation of providing chips low in power, both electrically and computationally.  Their latest Cortex processors are certainly display a vast improvement in performance compared to previous generations.  The power consumption may have increased but not to the levels of consumption of the Intel and AMD chips.  Intel and AMD need to continue lowering their power consumption without sacrificing power while ARM needs to increase performance without impacting the power consumption before anyone can be considered a clear winner.  There is another consideration which DigiTimes points out; right now ARM is winning the price war which could be every bit as important as power consumption or computational power.


"While Intel and AMD have been making efforts to develop low power processors for use in smartphones and tablet PCs, they cannot compete with solutions from ARM in terms of price, according to notebook makers."

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Source: DigiTimes

Thank you Bethesda; how about some attributions Steam?

Subject: General Tech | February 8, 2012 - 02:50 PM |
Tagged: gaming, skyrim, elder scrolls, mod

Attention (PC) Skyrim fans, Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has some great news!

High Definition Textures have arrived for Skyrim via Steam.  The download is just over 3GB and contains .BSP files which is the file type Bethesda in general and Skyrim in particular store their textures.  This is rather handy as two mods which already add high definition textures do so via a new folder called Textures under your Skyrim folder.  This means that the mods do not interfere with the official HD download as far as crashing the game, however more investigation is needed to discover how the mods interact as far as texture rendering priorities as well as determining which gives you the best looking textures.

Just download it via Steam and ensure that you enable it via the Data Files option on your Skyrim launcher.  While you are clicking on that download you might notice a link to something called Steam Workshop.  This leads you to a section of Steam where you can download mods for Skyrim via Steam which can be applied to your game though it does not necessarily replace Nexus Mod Manager.  When you have clicked on the mod then the next time you launch Skyrim it will run a check and synchronize your game and the mod.  The mods can be enabled and disabled just like the HD textures via the Data Files portion of your Skyrim launcher.

The addition of official HD textures and supported mods is a brilliant move by Bethesda and Steam and the PC gaming community wholeheartedly thanks them for this wonderful addition to the game.  Many PC users initial experience with Skyrim was not positive, especially those using AMD graphics cards.  The patches to Skyrim and AMD's drivers have finally fixed most performance issues users experienced and with the addition of PC specific improvements and mods Bethesda may have gone a long way to wooing back those users who were initially unimpressed with the game.

Along with these additions does come a plea to Steam.  You may notice negative comments underneath the mods which you choose, such as "It should say "Stolen by: Manic Zombie" The uploader gave no credit to the author of this.".  This is very unfortunate for the brilliant mind that decided to model mudcrabs with a monocle and top hat as the number of users of this mod will soar but the modder themselves are doomed to obscurity.  It could be that Manic Zombie was indeed the original modder as the Japanese site links to a download on Skyrim Nexus that he posted.  If Steam is going to offer mods the modding community would greatly appreciate it if Steam researched the mod to ensure that the submitter is indeed the actual source of the mod or at least has the modders permissions.  The "Report" button is a great start but in order to help attract game modders to Steam, reassurance that they will get recognition for their mods would go a long way to bringing even more modders into the fold.


"The long-awaited Skyrim Creation Kit is out, and it’s come with the rumoured High-Resolution Texture Pack all the kids wanted! The game’s also 33% off on Steam in the US and UK at the moment, if this is what you were waiting for."

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An academic collaboration leads to a GPU/CPU collaboration

Subject: General Tech | February 8, 2012 - 12:13 PM |
Tagged: gpgpu, l3 cache, APU

Over at North Carolina State University, students Yi Yang, Ping Xiang and Dr. Huiyang Zhou, along with Mike Mantor of Advanced Micro Devices have been working on a way to improve how efficiently the GPU and CPU work together.  Our current generations of APU/GPGPUs, Llano and Sandy Bridge, have united the two processing units on a single substrate but as of yet they cannot efficiently pass operations back and forth.  This project works to leverage the L3 cache of the CPU to give a high speed bridge between the two processors, allowing the CPU to pass highly parallel tasks to the GPU for more efficient processing and letting the CPU deal with the complex operations it was designed for.  

Along with that bridge comes a change in the way the L2 prefetch is utilized; increasing memory access at that level frees up more for the L3 to pass data between CPU and GPU thanks to a specially designed preexecution unit triggered by the GPU and running on the CPU which will enable synchronized memory fetch instructions.  The result has been impressive, in their tests they saw an average improvement of 21.4% in performance.


"Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique that allows graphics processing units (GPUs) and central processing units (CPUs) on a single chip to collaborate – boosting processor performance by an average of more than 20 percent.

"Chip manufacturers are now creating processors that have a 'fused architecture,' meaning that they include CPUs and GPUs on a single chip,” says Dr. Huiyang Zhou, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering who co-authored a paper on the research. "This approach decreases manufacturing costs and makes computers more energy efficient. However, the CPU cores and GPU cores still work almost exclusively on separate functions. They rarely collaborate to execute any given program, so they aren’t as efficient as they could be. That's the issue we’re trying to resolve."

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Increased Hard Drive Write Speed and Density - Using Frickin' Lasers

Subject: General Tech, Storage | February 8, 2012 - 11:34 AM |
Tagged: laser, hdd, Hard Disk

The big hoopla as of late has been wrapped around SSD's and flash memory technology, with constant die shrinks promising cheaper and faster solid state storage for your PC. Everyone seems to be slowly forgetting about good old HDD's, but spinning rust may have some life left after all.

A team of scientists formed iron and gadolinium into a series of alloy 'nanoislands'. These are basically isolated mini magnets. Each one carries a magnetic charge. Normally you would write to materials like this by hitting them with a much larger magnetic field (i.e. from your HDD write head). This team had a different trick up their sleeve - don't bother with the bigger magnet, just hit it with a burst of heat and get it to change state on its own.


Magnetic nanoislands getting hit by a frickin' laser.

Picture a sling shot, stretched out, and frozen in a block of ice. If you melt the ice, the rubber band will just snap back to its unstretched state and stay there. The same kind of thing happens when you heat a magnet - it becomes demagnetized. Now imagine if you could melt the ice, but flash freeze it while the rubber band has extended in the opposite direction. You've reversed the direction of the sling shot. Pull off the same trick with a magnet, and you can flip its poles. The trick is finding just the right length of time to heat the magnet and catch the 'flip' on the other end of its resonance. This team appears to have figured it out, and the magic number (for their material) is 60 femtoseconds. They can heep hitting the same spot repeatedly, and each time causes another flip in the poles.


Each pulse flips the bit.

To back this down into typical computer terms. A 1GHz CPU clock triggers every 1.00000 nanosecond, and 60 femtoseconds is 0.00006 nanoseconds. Ultrashort Pulse lasers have been around for a while. One was even used on my eyeballs a few years back. These pulses are so fast that the biggest issue would be getting information to the laser fast enough. The straight line theoretical speed of this technique ranges in the Terabytes per second, with densities limited by the capabilities of the nanotech used to create the islands.

To be clear, this isn't the first time heat or lasers has been used in magnetic media. TDK pioneered Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording tech years ago, but that tech is only heat *assisted*. This new breakthrough is writing, with heat, without the magnet at all. Now the only trick is figuring out how to read such a high density of tiny written bits. Since the laser writes much smaller than a magnetic head could accomplish, we might see a reversion back to optics for the reads.We're not sure how long before this technology appears on your desktop, but what we can say is that magnetic storage is not dead yet.


Day[9] of Reckoning International Stream Event

Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2012 - 06:39 PM |
Tagged: day9

Wait, it's not Funday Monday -- why is Sean "Day[9]" Plott dicking around? Should this not be the day where he teaches us to be a better gamer? For the release of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Day[9] and Felicia Day (henceforth referred to as Felicia Day[9]) are streaming the game for the internet to see. If you are considering purchasing the game, or you enjoy watching a videogame adventurer occasionally run around in his boxers -- tune on in.


Felicia Day[9] and friends fun-time variety show!

The event originally started as Day[9] streaming launch-day play. During his preparation, he asked a few people if they wanted to play with him. Currently there are about a dozen internet celebrities playing in several countries. 38 Studios, the developer of the game, also caught wind of the event and offered prizes for viewers such as game codes and a giant swag hammer.

Fair warning, language is not exactly for a general audience.