Blender 2.63 released! Major feature: BMesh integration.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | April 27, 2012 - 08:42 PM |
Tagged: Blender

The latest version of Blender has been released to the public officially. This version integrates, after much anticipation, BMesh and in the process reengineers how Blender handles geometry. Models are no longer constrained to triangles and quadrangles and can have any number of sides.

I do a bunch of illustration work for PC Perspective and elsewhere. Most of my work is in 2D these days although originally I worked in 3D applications almost exclusively. When occasions allows it, scarce as they are these days, I return to 3D if new projects need it or old projects get returned to.

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Here today, n-gon tomorrow.

I originally started with Rhino3D when I was introduced to it for a high school shop technology class. When 3D shifted to a persistent hobby I shifted to Maya and purchased an educational license. That license has become well used for game design contests and personal art projects over the past several years.

Faced with the greater than three thousand dollar price tag of a new license of Maya -- I could buy a Wacom Cintiq 24 and another used car (minus repairs) with that -- I looked at Blender once again. I am not against paying for software which gives me value over the alternatives. The GIMP just cannot replace Photoshop for my current illustration work, try as I might, and I eventually was led to purchase one of Adobe’s Creative Suites. Maybe Blender would have a different fate?

gimp.jpg

Sorry boy, cannot play today.

After a few attempts at getting used to its interface -- I mean the man-hours must be cheaper than a license of Maya, right? -- I was about ready to give it up again. The modeling flow just did not suit my style well at all. After exercising my Google-Fu I found an experimental Blender project called BMesh and loaded one of its experimental builds. After just a short period of usage it felt more natural than Maya has felt.

I felt as though I would actually choose Blender over Maya, even if given either one for free. Best part: for one, I am.

So why do I mention this in the post proclaiming the launch of Blender 2.63? Blender 2.63 fully integrates that experimental branch into the trunk core application. BMesh is, as of this release, officially unified with Blender.

For current users of Blender, Game From Scratch has put up an article which demonstrates the benefits which BMesh can provide. If you focus on modeling predominantly, your grin should grow as the article moves on. More tools should be developed for the new geometry engine too. Keep grinning.

Admittedly, again, I do not have too much time to play in 3D lately and as such your mileage may vary. Still, I can honestly say that as of what this release’s preview builds demonstrate: the water is finally warm for 3D modelers to try Blender. Is there room for improvement? Of course, but now is a great time to give it a try.

Source: Blender

ASUS P8Z77-V Premium motherboard announced.

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | April 27, 2012 - 06:48 PM |
Tagged: Z77, msata, Ivy Bridge, asus

ASUS announces their upcoming P8Z77-V Premium flagship motherboard for Intel processors. Many features have been included such as 4-way SLi and onboard MSATA support with a 32GB MSATA SSD.

Does anyone know where I can get 4 GTX 680s?

In case you missed it, JJ from ASUS was recently at the PC Perspective offices to announce their Z77 lineup of motherboards. Lots of stuff was given away to live viewers. JJ stuck around after the live stream to record a couple of videos about overclocking Ivy Bridge and WiDi support which were released publicly earlier this week.

Now they reached out to us to announce their flagship P8Z77-V Premium Z77-based motherboard.

The upcoming ASUS flagship P8Z77-V PREMIUM.jpg

Two antennas, why-fi not?

The main features of the motherboard are as follows:

  • USB3 Boost support
  • USB Bios Flashback
  • Dual Intel Gigabit Nics featuring iNetwork Control Packet Priority
  • 4 way SLI and 4 way Crossfire support via a new PLX Gen 3 switch
  • Dual Band Wifi with BT 4.0 featuring WiFi Go! Software Suite ( for DLNA Streaming/Serving, Easy file transfer to android/iOS devices and remote desktop functionality )
  • Onboard MSATA support with 32GB MSATA SSD
  • Digi+ VRM with 3 way Digital power design ( CPU/VRM – DRAM – iGPU )
  • 9 SATA Ports
  • 6 4 Pin PWM Fan Headers featuring Fan Xpert 2 Fan Technology ( for advanced control in UEFI and OS as well as automatic fan calibration )

The feature which sticks out to me the most is the 32 GB mSATA SSD allegedly packaged with the motherboard. That would certainly be nothing to sneer at. Judging by the photos provided by Asus the flash cells appear to be produced by Toshiba.

mSATA based SSD onboard.JPG

Want to see half of a pegasus flashing?

Also visible on the MSATA drive is a chip produced by Nanya which is commonly known for producing RAM. I am, however, not Al and as such will not speculate further about the SSD -- except that my guess is the chip is probably cache. So unfortunately, I do not know which controller it will utilize.

The other feature which catches my eye is the support for 4-way SLi or Crossfire. Not much else to say about that except that knowing somewhere out there someone will be gaming with four GTX 680s and there better be more than a single 60hz 1080p monitor.

Some day.

Source: PCPer

Some Lenovo models might maybe get a little smokey ... but probably not

Subject: General Tech | April 27, 2012 - 04:58 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, fud, M70z, M90z

Some Mexican made Lenovo models were recalled earlier this year and that recall has recently been expanded, to about 63,000 units.  It seems that one single fire incident and one smoke incident with no injuries, were recorded in the US and blamed on a possible faulty part in the PSU which could overheat.  A 0.003% failure rate is apparently unacceptable in some sectors of today's marketplace, with others requiring not only a much higher incident of failure but a fatality or at least a serious injury before a recall is even considered.  While PCs releasing their magic smoke on their own is certainly a bad thing, especially on models most likely to be found in the workplace it seems the PC industry is held to an obscenely high level of performance.  The Register is not terribly impressed either.

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"Lenovo has been forced to expand the recall of possibly flamey desktops it first announced back in March.

The Chinese PC giant, in conjunction with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, announced the initial recall affected around 50,500 ThinkCentre M70z and M90z desktops."

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Source: The Register

Samsung Teases Exynos 4 Quad Core Mobile Processor

Subject: General Tech | April 27, 2012 - 03:47 AM |
Tagged: SoC, Samsung, quad core, galaxy s 3, Exynos 4, Android

Samsung has an event scheduled for May 3rd called Mobile Unpacked where it will be unveiling their latest Galaxy series smartphone. It seems as if the company was too excited about the new hardware to wait because they have teased small bits of information on the processor. The new chip has been named the Exynos 4 and is a quad core processor running at 1.4 GHz.

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Based on a 32nm HKMG (High-K Metal Gate) process node, Samsung claims the SoC uses 20% less power than it’s 45nm predecessors. The quad core processor is more power efficient thanks to the lower process node and the ability of the chip to turn individual cores off when not in use. As far as performance, the company claims the new quad core part is twice as fast as the older dual core 45nm chips. The Exynos 4 also has an integrated image signal processor for high quality camera processing and support for multi format codec (MFC) decoding. The MFC engine allows the chip to process a variety of 1080p HD video files.

A few things that are noticeably absent from the Samsung product page include any specific performance numbers, architecture details, and benchmarks. Samsung is keeping a tight lid on that information until the release but once reviewers get their hands on the Galaxy III independent benchmarks are soon to follow. The comparison between the Exynos 4 and NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 should be interesting.

Source: Samsung

Podcast #199 - Ivy Bridge Desktop and Mobile reviews, Intel and AMD Earnings, and a Gold Motherboard

Subject: General Tech | April 26, 2012 - 08:59 PM |
Tagged: Z77, podcast, nvidia, Ivy Bridge, Intel, earnings, amd, 3770k

PC Perspective Podcast #199 - 04/26/2012

Join us this week as we talk about Ivy Bridge Desktop and Mobile reviews, Intel and AMD Earnings, and a Gold Motherboard

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

Program length: 1:06:54

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. Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge LGA1155 Processor Review
  6. Intel Core i7-3720QM - Ivy Bridge For Mobile Review: Monster Kill!
  7. NVIDIA continues to tease, sends us a crowbar
  8. ASUS Demonstrates Z77 Motherboard Features at PC Perspective
  9. ASUS Overclocks Ivy Bridge To 7 GHz, Breaks World Records
  10. Intel Announces Q1 2012 Earnings: Not a Record, but Close
  11. AMD Q1 2012 Earnings Analysis: Looking Back and Looking Forward
  12. New mLink PCI-E to Thunderbolt Enclosure Shown Off at NAB 2012
  13. Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: ECS GOLDEN BOARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    2. Jeremy: 25GB free on Microsoft SkyDrive
    3. Josh: I like this case. Not exactly affordable, but still really nice.
    4. Allyn: Is it a pen or is it a pencil?
  14. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  15. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  16. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  17. Closing

Source:

Revisiting an old argument; does HyperThreading hurt performance?

Subject: General Tech | April 26, 2012 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: hyperthreading, Intel, overclocking, fud

In the past there have been two arguments against using Intel's HyperThreading to create two threads per core.  The first is specific to overclockers who found that previous generations of Pentium and Core architecture chips could remain stable when pushed to higher frequencies when they disabled HyperThreading.  There is still a lot of testing to be done on Ivy Bridge overclocking before a definitive answer is found for this generation of chips, which may fall victim to power issues before HyperThreading becomes a major limiter.

The second issue is more serious and deals with the fact that in some cases enabling HyperThreading reduces the total performance of the chip on certain, usually single threaded, applications and by disabling it you will see performance improvements from your processor.  SemiAccurate felt that this needed to be revisited in light of the release of Ivy Bridge and so took an i7-3770K through a battery of 7 tests once with HyperThreading enabled and once without, including a run through CineBench with multithreaded processing disabled.  Drop by to see if there is any noticeable benefit to disabling HyperThreading on this generation of Intel processor.

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Yes, that was 11 years ago

"We decided to explore the effects of Hyper-Threading on the performance of the Ivy Bridge based Core i7-3770K by running our CPU benchmarking suite on it twice. Once with Hyper-Threading enabled, and once with Hyper-Threading disabled. As such we set-up our results table to look for applications that perform better with Hyper-Threading disabled, rather than enabled."

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Source: SemiAccurate

Ubuntu, now available through Steam

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2012 - 07:12 PM |
Tagged: gaming, linux, steam

It seems the Gabe Newell doesn't like hearing that you can't game on Linux and is planning on releasing a Linux version of both Steam and the Source Engine.   The implementation is planned to be natively supported by Linux with no need for Wine, Phoronix has seen it running with an install of Ubuntu and a Catalyst driver for the Radeon that was providing graphics.  The Linux community has been waiting a long time for this day and now that Gabe is focusing his attention on this project there is hopes that it will soon come to fruition.  Phoronix could not be happier.

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"For those that have doubted the exclusive Phoronix claims for quite a while now that the Steam client and Source Engine are in fact being ported to Linux, the doubts can be nearly laid to rest. Even I began to wonder how long it would take before the clients for their popular games would be publicly released under Linux. However, after confirming the information perhaps a bit too soon, their level of Linux interest is much more clear after spending a day at their offices. A meeting topped off the day with Gabe Newell regarding Linux where he sounded more like a Linux saint than an ex-Microsoft employee. Valve does have some great plans for Linux beyond just shipping the client versions of Steam and their popular games on the Source Engine."

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Source: Phoronix

Intel's interconnect business grows after buying Cray's technolgy

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2012 - 05:03 PM |
Tagged: purchase, interconnect, Intel, cray, aries

Anyone who follows the supercomputer business has had quite a bit of excitement recently, with major shifts in the market becoming quite frequent.  Intel started it off by purchasing QLogic's Infiniband networking technology which allows the connection of separate high performance computers over an extremely low latency and high bandwidth path, utilizing PCIe.  This will give Intel a big edge when clustering multiple HPCs on a network. 

Next it was AMD's turn as they snagged SeaMicro out from underneath Intel's nose and purchased the rights to their 3D torus interconnect technology.  This is a processor agnostic interconnect for within an HPC which is targeted at low power processors and is specifically designed to get the most efficient use of every watt that the system consumes.  This could lead to some ironic HPCs which use AMD's interconnect technology to link together large amounts of Intel Atom processors.

cray23.jpg

Today a bigger change was announced, to the tune of $140 million, as Intel purchased Cray's interconnect technology.  This architecture is the polar opposite of SeaMicro's and focuses on creating the most massively powerful HPCs possible on current technology and requires an immense amount of electricity to power.  For quite a while Cray utilized AMD's HyperTransport technology and favoured large amounts of Opteron processors to power its supercomputers but that relationship soured thanks AMD's supply problems and delayed technology refreshes.  Cray abandoned AMD and never even looked at Intel's QPI, instead they designed an interconnect technology of their own, one which could use any processor.  Now that technology belongs to Intel.  You can see what The Register thinks this move signifies in their full article.

"Intel really is taking networking and system interconnects very seriously, and is buying the interconnect hardware business from massively parallel supercomputer maker Cray for $140m."

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Source: The Register

New mLink PCI-E to Thunderbolt Enclosure Shown Off at NAB 2012

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | April 24, 2012 - 05:37 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, PCIe SSD, pcie, mlink, apple

California based company mLogic LLC debuted a new “mLink” Thunderbolt enclosure at the NAB 2012 show that will allow users to connect PCI-E based cards to computers using Thunderbolt connections. Unfortunately, enthusiasts wishing to slap a graphics card into the enclosure are out of luck. The incompatibility is due to graphics cards not having Thunderbolt aware drivers and may be something that is rectified in the future but currently not an option.

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Right now, there are only a few storage devices and networking NICs that are compatible with the mLink enclosure including Apricorn and OWC PCI-E SSDs, Atto Technology’s Fiber Channel network cards, and Atto Technology’s SAS RAID controller cards. (The full list of compatible devices is located here.) Not terribly exciting, but some users will find it very useful. The design is very streamlined and sleek, though its worth mentioning that it comes at a cost of $400 USD.

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Enthusiasts wanting to add more graphics horsepower to their notebooks will have to look elsewhere, but for users that need super fast storage in a sleek industrial design enclosure it is an interesting option. The price will be something that turns many people off of it, however. It is slated to release in June with pre-orders being accepted now. More information along with photos of the device is available here.

It sure looks nice, but is this something people will actually use? Let us know in the comments!

Source: mLogic

Firefox 12 will be able to bypass UAC and possibly corporate security settings

Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2012 - 05:01 PM |
Tagged: UAC, security, firefox

One of the causes of the adoption of Google's Chrome browser in the workplace is that for the most part, since it installs under your user directory it can bypass the limited permissions on most business computers, letting the user install something without consulting IT.  This is a minor security concern as Chrome runs with limited permissions and is certainly not more inherently vulnerable than the old corporate standby, IE6.

According to The Inquirer Firefox will be starting to do something similar but with larger repercussions.  FireFox 12 will be whitelisted on UAC, allowing system level access to the program.  While this does mean that if they are successful users will be running up to date software and not require IT resources to upgrade FireFox every month or so, it also introduces a powerful attack vector for infections.  A silent FireFox update might not be from Mozilla and could instead be from malware online, creating a system vulnerability that the user is completely unaware of until obvious symptoms start to show, by which time it could be too late to stop the spread of an infection to the network or to clients machines.  The update is due out today, so keep a close eye on your FireFox installation for now.

 

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"SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Mozilla will bypass Windows' user account control (UAC) to implement silent updating in its Firefox 12 web browser.

Mozilla's Firefox 12 is expected to be released today, and the outfit claims it will bypass Windows UAC in order to enable silent updating. Since Mozilla put Firefox on its rapid release schedule, it has put out new versions of the web browser every six weeks, leading some users to complain about the number of releases."

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Source: The Inquirer