Podcast #209 - Thunderbolt on Windows, Western Digital Red Drives, a passively cooled GTX 680 and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 12, 2012 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: WD, ThunderFX, thunderbolt, ssd, red, podcast, Intel, gtx 680, gpu, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #209 - 07/12/2012

Join us this week as we talk about Thunderbolt Performance on Windows, the new Western Digital Red Hard Drives, a passively cooled GTX 680 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!

  • 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:15:06

Program Schedule:

  1. Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. Quakecon - we need Tshirt ideas!!
  6. 00:05:45 Thunderbolt Performance on Windows with ASUS P8Z77-V Premium
  7. 00:17 Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 Motherboard Review
  8. 00:18:30 AMD, Vishera and Beyond!
  9. 00:26:45 HP Envy 14 Spectre Review
  10. 00:28:30 Western Digital Red 3TB NAS HDD Review
  11. 00:41:51 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  12. 00:42:45 Passively cooled GTX 680 anyone?
  13. 00:45:45 Windows 8 Pro will run you $39
  14. 00:50:00 Overclocking makes your system less stable...duhhh
  15. 00:57:00 ASUS and Gigabyte raise warranty times
  16. 00:58:30 Mid-range Kepler rumors
  17. 01:03:03 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: ThunderboltEX from ASUS
    2. Jeremy: I like this Lenovo X220 work stuck me with
    3. Josh: Like I need another time sink
    4. Allyn: WD Red
  18. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  19. http://pcper.com/podcast
  20. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  21. Closing

​For those of you that prefer the video version, see below:

Revisiting single GPU and triple monitor gaming

Subject: General Tech | July 11, 2012 - 02:06 PM |
Tagged: triple, multi monitor, gaming

One of the biggest arguments for NVIDIA Surround and AMD EyeFinity is cost, depending on the size of monitor you choose you can get three 1080p displays for half to 2/3's the price of a single 30" LCD and end up with around about half again as many pixels.  You do end up with bezels in the way but choosing a monitor with a thin bezel can help as does the tools the drivers offer which help you offset your display to cope with the bezels.  With new drivers available, The Tech Report tested gaming on both the GTX680 and the HD7970 on three Asus 24" ProArt PA246Q LCDs.  Check out the performance differences as well as getting an idea how high you can turn up your graphics options when gaming at 5760x1200 on a single GPU.

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"Three-screen setups might be the best upgrade for gamers. We surround ourselves with a wrap-around config to see how the latest games and graphics cards fare."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Surface is just a proof of concept?

Subject: General Tech | July 11, 2012 - 01:38 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, surface, ballmer

Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer, recently referred to the Surface ultraportable as "just a design point".  This is bound to disappoint a lot of geeks who fell in love with the new touchscreen tablet/laptop which showed off the new Win8 interface in a much more effective manner than we have seen from previous computers.  On the other hand, many OEM's will find this announcement reassuring as when the Surface was first introduced they were less than impressed at a software company muscling in on their territory.  Still, he expects to sell a million or so of the devices so those who really desire a Surface should be able to get their hands on one.  Check out more about the conference Ballmer held in Toronto at The Register.

microsoftsurface.jpg

"Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has downplayed the impact of Redmond's "iPad-killer" – aka the Surface tablet – as he wrapped a comforting arm around PC OEMS that may feel a little unnerved by the move.

The covers were lifted off the shiny slate weeks ago, but it was dismissed by several hardware vendors, including long-time partner Acer, which said Microsoft should concentrate its efforts on software development."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

NVIDIA Preparing New Mid-range Kepler Graphics Cards

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2012 - 07:20 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, gtx 660 Ti, gtx 660, gtx 650 Ti, gtx 640, graphics cards, gpu

We have seen and reviewed NVIDIA’s high-end Kepler graphics cards, but the company’s mid-range line has been even harder to find than the GTX 680 was a couple months ago. That may be about to change though, as recent rumors suggest that the company is preparing at least three mid-range graphics cards for public release.

geforce-gt-640-3qtr.png

The current GT 640. Expect the refresh to look very similar.

The cheapest rumored card is a refresh of the existing GeForce GT 640. The refresh is slated for an August 2012 release and it takes the existing GK107 GPU with 384 CUDA cores and pairs it with GDDR5 memory instead of the currently used GDDR3. Videocardz predicts that the move to GDDR5 will bump the price up to a bit over $100.

The next card up will reportedly cost around $150 and will be released in August. The GeForce GT 650 Ti will allegedly be based around the GK106 GPU with 960 CUDA cores enabled. It will likely be paired with up to 2GB of GDDR5 memory and a 192-bit memory interface. This card will likely be the high-end HTPC and/or very entry level gaming card on the NVIDIA side.

However, for those serious about wanting to get into gaming, they should probably spend a bit more on the GPU and get at least the GTX 660. This rumored card is using a GK106 GPU with 1152 CUDA cores enabled and an alleged 1.5GB of GDDR5 memory with a 192-bit interface. As far as pricing, it will be positioned between the GT 650 Ti and the GeForce GTX 670 – somewhere in the $200-300 range.

Interestingly, if rumors turn out to be true, there may be yet another new graphics card that would fill the performance (and price) void between the GTX 660 and GTX 670: the GeForce GTX 660 Ti. Allegedly, the GTX 660 Ti would be very close to the GTX 670 as far as specifications are concerned. Both cards are based on the GK104 Kepler GPU (which we recently reviewed) and would have 1344 CUDA cores enabled. Where the two differ in the predicted specifications is memory. While the GeForce GTX 670 has either 2GB or 4GB of GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit interface, the GTX 660 Ti will have 1.5GB or 3GB of GDDR5 memory with a 192-bit interface. This card is also predicted to be released in August with the above mentioned NVIDIA GPUs. You can expect this card to be priced in the $300 to $400 dollar range, with an emphasis on the former for reference designs with 1.5GB of memory.

All these rumored cards should really help NVIDIA to flesh out its Kepler lineup and take on AMD on all fronts. These cards (assuming the rumors hold true, of course) should also be much easier to find and get a hold of since they are probably using binned chips that could not be sold as a GTX 670 or GTX 680 which were difficult to find in stock at launch.

What do you think about these rumors, do they sound plausible? Have you been holding off on Kepler until cheaper cards are released? Let us know in the comments below. You can find more information on the rumored graphics cards here.

Source: Videocardz

Cooler Master Storms in with a new gaming mouse and pad

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2012 - 03:06 PM |
Tagged: cooler master, Storm Sentinel Advance II, Storm Speed-RXL, gaming mouse

If you are shopping for a gaming mouse it is worth dropping by Neoseeker for a look at a matched set of Cooler Master Storm products, the Sentinel Advance II mouse and Speed-RXL pad.  The new version of the Sentinel offers adjustable weight, DPI settings from 200 to 8200, 25 Hz – 1000 Hz USB rate fine-tuning, 8 programmable buttons and 9 virtual buttons via button combo presses.  You will also get new version of the CM Storm Tactics software which allows you multiple mouse profiles as well as the opportunity to tweak the LED lighting on the mouse. The mat comes in three sizes, so you can choose the best one for you and is much thicker and sturdier than many mousepads on the market.  Drop by to see the whole review.

NS_CMstormAII.jpg

"Today Neoseeker will be taking a look at the CM Storm Sentinel Advance II gaming mouse and the CM Storm Speed-RXL gaming mouse pad from Cooler Master. The manufacturer is always looking to take its game one step further, and the Sentinel Advance II aims to do just that with a long list of features including 200-8200 DPI tracking resolution, 128 KB Sentinel-X memory for profiles and macros and customizable multi-color LED light system, to name just a few."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Neoseeker

AMD's second quarter is more than a little off target

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2012 - 02:18 PM |
Tagged: amd, quarterly earnings

While AMD predicted the second quarter of 2012 to be up 3 per cent, plus or minus 3 per cent compared to last quarter, total revenue instead fell by 11%.  This is blamed on the slowed global economy, not just in North America but in other major markets like China and Europe, as opposed to a loss in market share to competitors.  This is not the news AMD was hoping for but because at least some of the loss is due to a reduction in sales volume across the marketplace there is still hope for AMD to turn a profit because the gross margins may remain the same.  Heavy cost reduction at AMD could make the difference in profitability in this economic downturn but that is not really a long term solution if they want to remain innovative and profitable.  The Register has the acutal numbers handy here.

amdlogo.jpg

"The bean counters at AMD have done a first pass on the company's second quarter, and it is not looking so good.

The company said in a statement after Wall Street called it a day on Monday that revenues in the second quarter ended in June would fall by approximately 11 per cent sequentially from the first quarter."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

AMD and NVIDIA are sticking with TSMC

Subject: General Tech | July 9, 2012 - 04:32 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, Samsung, amd, nvidia, 28nm, rumour

All of the speculation about the problems TSMC has had with their 28nm process and the possible issues they might have producing enough wafers to meet their clients demands.  Today we hear from DigiTimes that Qualcomm is going to switch to Samsung, possibly because TSMC was focusing on AMD and NVIDIA, but this is pure speculation at the moment.  What seems more reliable is that GPU vendors are stating that both AMD and NVIDIA are sticking with TSMC which makes a lot of sense, even if TSMC has problems delivering it is a better alternative than AMD or NVIDIA redesigning their graphics processors to be compatible with Samsung's process.  The story also mentions that in 2013 Brazos 2.0 and Hondo will be moved to a 28nm design, again likely sourced at TSMC.

waffle.jpg

"While Qualcomm has reportedly switched foundry orders for its 28nm-based Snapdragon S4 processors from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to Samsung Electronics because TSMC's 28nm capacity has failed to meet its needs, Nvidia and AMD may not follow suit, according to graphics card makers.

TSMC has the upper hand over Samsung in 28nm technology, yield rate and price and therefore changing foundry partnership involves high risks, the sources said. In addition, Nvidia is expected to consider Samsung's ARM-based processors in competition with its Tegra 3 processors, the sources indicated."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Gigabyte Running Hidden Gems Competition, Win Hardware

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2012 - 05:32 AM |
Tagged: motherboard, hidden gems, hardware, gigabyte, contest

Motherboard manufacturer Gigabyte is currently running its Hidden Gems contest asking for users to submit photos of their old and trusty Gigabyte-based computers. On August 10th, they will pick three winners who will receive brand new Gigabyte motherboards. The contest ends July 31st, 2012 and winners will be chosen on August 10th. For those curious it does involve “liking” Gigabyte on Facebook, and you must be at least 17 years old. It is unclear but does indeed seem to be open to those outside the United States.

gigabyte_hidden_gems.jpg

According to Gigabyte, it is running the contest to celebrate “our illustrious history as the leading motherboard manufacturer.” The company wants its users and fans to dig up old photos or videos of their old Gigabyte motherboards and computers. Those photos will then be shared with other contest entrants where they can be talked about and voted on.

After liking the Gigabyte Motherboard Tech Column Facebook page, you can navigate to its website and upload a photo or video of your Gigabyte PC. The Grand Prize will be awarded to the submission that gets the most votes while the “Team Gigabyte” prize will be given to the users chosen by the Gigabyte team. Finally, the “Most Deserving of an Upgrade” prize will be awarded to the entry that shows off the oldest motherboard.

The Grand Prize winner will receive a G1.Sniper M3 motherboard – which we recently reviewed. It is a micro ATX socket 1155 motherboard that features Intel’s Z77 Express chipset and support for its Ivy Bridge processors. It has four DDR3 DIMM slots, one PCI-E x1 and three PCI-E x16 slots. Rear IO includes four USB 2.0, two USB 3.0, a PS/2 port, and VGA, DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort video outputs. The G1.Sniper M3 also features eSATA, Gigabit Ethernet, optical audio output, and 5 channel analog audio output.

IMG_0851.jpg

For the Team Gigabyte prize, the winner will receive the Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H motherboard which is an Ivy Bridge compatible board that supports up to 32GB (4x8GB) of DDR3 memory, two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, Gigabit Ethernet, 7.1 channel analog audio output, 8 USB 3.0 ports, and six USB 2.0 ports. This board is regular ATX sized which accounts for the increased expandability.

5684_big.jpg

Last but not least is the “Most Deserving of an Upgrade” prize. The winner will be given a Gigabyte B75M-D3H motherboard. This motherboard is powered by the B75 chipset and features an LGA 1155 socket, four DDR3 DIMM slots, two PCI-E x16 slots, two PCI slots, one SATA 6Gbps port, and five SATA 3Gbps ports. Rear IO includes a PS/2 port, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, VGA port, HDMI port, Gigabit Ethernet, and three analog audio jacks.

5670_big.jpg

If you aren’t against using Facebook and have some Gigabyte motherboards around, it might be worth checking out. Just remember to get your entries in before July 31, 2012 if you do want a chance to win. More information can be found on the Hidden Gems contest page at event.gigabyte.com/hidden_gems/.

Source: Gigabyte

Microsoft Releases Windows Server 2012 Pricing

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2012 - 01:12 AM |
Tagged: windows server, windows pricing, windows, virtual machines, software, server, operating system, enterprise

Earlier this week we covered the pricing for Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 consumer-grade operating system. Now, the company has released pricing information for the enterprise side of things, mainly for its non-OEM SKUs of Windows Server 2012. With Server 2012, Microsoft has simplified its lineup with four versions – one of which is only for OEMs.

WinServer2012.jpg

Live Migration will allow virtualized storage to be moved in and out of server instances in real time without restarts.

The three versions that businesses can purchase and install themselves includes Datacenter, Standard, and Essentials. The lowest-tier version is called Foundation and will the version that comes pre-installed from OEMs. The Datacenter version has the most features and is the most lenient on the licensing by allowing businesses the full Windows Server 2012 functionality as well as unlimited virtual server instances. You’ll have to pay for those features, however as the Datacenter SKU is priced at $4,809. On the low end is Essentials which strips out licensed use of virtual instances of Server 2012 and also limites the number of user accounts that can access the server to 25. It will cost $425, which isn’t terribly expensive but is obviously aimed at small businesses. Interestingly, Microsoft states that Essentials has a simplified interface that is “pre-configured” for running cloud services. In the middle of those two extremes is Windows Server 2012 Standard which will run $882 USD and allows two virtualized instances as well as the full Windows Server functionality.

While Microsoft has not released pricing for its OEM-only Foundation version, they have announced that it will be limited to a max of 15 user accounts and no virtualization rights. The table below details the above information in a simplified table, courtesy Microsoft.

Edition Feature Comparison Licensing Model Pricing (USD)
Datacenter Unlimited virtual instances, full Windows functionality Processor + CAL $4,809
Standard Two virtual instances, full Windows functionality Processor + CAL $882
Essentials No virtualization rights, Simple interface pre-configured for cloud services Server (25 user account limit) $425
Foundation No virtualization rights, general purpose server functionality Server (15 user account limit) Not Listed

As Martin Brinkman explains, the top-two tiers are based on a processor licensing model which means that each version is allowed to run on up to two physical processors. The Datacenter version takes that a step further by allowing an unlimited number of virtual machines on those two physical processors while Standard allows two virtual machines on a system with up to two physical processors. To figure out how many licenses you will need to purchase, you can get by with half the number of physical processors. At around five Windows Server 2012 Standard licenses, it starts to become more economical to go with the Datacenter version if you will mostly be spinning up virtualized servers.

Interestingly, Windows Home Server is missing from the above list, and it looks like that is not a mistake. Microsoft has stated in its licensing FAQ (PDF) that it expects home and small business users to move to the Essentials ($425) version for their home server needs. Not exactly the answer that many users are going to want to hear. For those not wanting to spend that much, Microsoft is keeping Windows Home Server 2011 alive until the end of next year (12-31-13), and you will be able to buy Home Server 2011 in an OEM machine until 2025. Fortunately, a system builder version of Windows Home Server 2011 can be found for around $50 and it can support up to 10 users. On the other hand, it won’t have the neat Windows 8-based server features. It will be up to you to decide whether the $400+ price for Essentials is worth it for you home/small business needs.

Just as Microsoft has released a Consumer Preview version of Windows 8, you can download a Release Candidate of Windows Server 2012 to see what the new features are and if they are worth the money. More information on the pricing and various versions can be found here. What do you think of the new Windows Server SKUs?

Source: Microsoft

Want to see a four socket ARM server on dual PCIe slots?

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2012 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: Calexda, arm, cortex-a9, ECX-1000

Looking at the picture below you can see what Calxeda's ARM based server node will look like, an add-in card which requires two PCIe 2.0 slots to communicate with the mainboard.  On the node are four Cortex A9 CPUs, each with two PCI-Express 2.0 controllers, a DDR3 memory controller, and a SATA 2.0 disk controller, as well as an integrated Layer 2 distributed fabric switch for ethernet connectivity.  The mainboard these are connected to does very little, this server will depend on ethernet for its interconnect for now but it is likely that they will find something else to use though they may end up needing to license from AMD or Intel. 

The Register took a look at the comparative benchmarks which came with this release, an Intel Xeon E3-1240 with one Ethernet port and 16GB of DDR3 which should be roughly equivalent to the new HP Redstone servers.  They had some questions about the methodology used for the power usage on the Intel system as it was not describing the most power efficient usage of the Intel system and perhaps was not representative of the Intel system they actually benchmarked at all.  Check out the benchmark as well as Calxeda's response in the full article.

ElReg_calxeda_four_socket_server.jpg

"Calxeda, the ARM server-chip upstart that HP tapped for its "Redstone" hyperscale servers last November, is getting ready to ramp up production on the server cards that use its quad-core EnergyCore ARM processors, and is making waves with benchmarks while promising to do a better job with comparative testing against x86 architectures."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register