Podcast #203 - ASUS N56VM notebook, XFX 7850s and 7870s, Thunderbolt on Windows and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 24, 2012 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: video, xfx, thunderbolt, podcast, msi, Ivy Bridge, Intel, asus, amd, 7870, 7850, 680

PC Perspective Podcast #203 - 05/24/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the ASUS N56VM notebook, XFX 7850s and 7870s, Thunderbolt on Windows 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!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malvantano

Program length: 1:12:55

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. 0:02:00 You talked about all the cool stuff last week!
    1. GK110
    2. NVIDIA GRID
    3. AMD Trinity
    4. GTX 670
  6. 0:13:30 Antec High Current Pro Platinum 1000 watt PSU
  7. 0:16:20 ASUS N56VM Ivy Bridge Notebook - our reference system
  8. 0:17:30 XFX HD 7870 and HD 7850 Black Edition
  9. 0:28:25 Unreal Engine 4 Screenshots
  10. 0:31:00 AMD to stop making "needlessly powerful" CPUs
  11. 0:42:00 NVIDIA is not recalling Kepler
  12. 0:45:00 Thunderbolt for Windows from ASUS and MSI announced
  13. 0:48:30 Josh's Banana Phone - VIA $49 Android PC
  14. 0:51:30 Seagate to purchase LaCie
  15. 0:56:30 The discrete graphics card is not dead
  16. 1:02:00 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Pegasus R4 Thunderbolt External Storage
    2. Jeremy: DeLorean Hovercraft or levitating bed? Or I could go old school.
    3. Josh: Some Thieving Goodies from Way Back
    4. Allyn: Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 - alignment for SSDs integral with partition moves / resizes / etc
  17. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  18. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  19. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  20. Closing

Source:

TET, ePO and SSO... McAfee and Intel's Cloud

Subject: General Tech | May 24, 2012 - 12:19 PM |
Tagged: mcafee, Intel, cloud

Intel's purchase of AntiVirus vendor McAfee has been feeding rumours and speculation for about 10 months now and while we have plenty of buzzwords and a feeling that they are looking at securing Cloud Computing only recently have we seen anything concrete.  The first product to give us insight into their actual plans has arrived on the market bearing an awkward name, McAfee Management for Optimized Virtual Environments AntiVirus.  This is essentially antivirus and antimalware specifically designed to be used in virtualized server environments which are connected to and providing services to a large amount of geographically separate devices ... aka 'The Cloud".  It is possible that they have a product which will be able to prevent the spread of an infection by leveraging the strictly partitioned nature of virtual servers and data stores, something that will be very important for anyone providing SaaS (Software as a Service) to clients. 

The Register also points out that in order to fully benefit from this AV product you will need a relatively new Xeon for your servers to support Trusted Execution Technology and a Sandy/Ivy Bridge processor for client side machines.  That means hardware upgrades which Intel's sales team would be more than happy to talk to you about.

ds-move-anti-virus.png

"What Intel is planning is a cloud-to-desktop security strategy, mixing hardware and software features in a federated framework designed to make cloud computing safer, locking down the desktop and, coincidentally, giving IT managers another reason to specify Intel's systems during the next upgrade cycle."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Windows 8 Metro browser will have some Flash support

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | May 23, 2012 - 10:46 PM |
Tagged: WOA, windows 8, flash

Microsoft has backed down, to some extent, from their “plug-in free; web standards only” position for the Metro-half of IE10. Some, but not all, Flash content will be able to play in the Metro browser. This change should be included in the Windows 8 Release Preview expected to be released in early June.

You may turn your back on Adobe but you’ll be back in a Flash.

Rafael Rivera has published a post on his Within Windows blog which he co-authored with Paul Thurrott about Flash integration with the Metro web browser. Until recently Microsoft was passionately against anything other than web standards in their Metro browser. Plugins are still not allowed in the application but that does not exclude Microsoft from embedding Flash into the browser directly.

wflash.png

I guess Silverlight is not popular enough…

(screenshot credit: Within Windows)

Adobe actively supports Microsoft’s efforts and has provided the source code to facilitate the integration into Metro Internet Explorer 10.

Security will rest somewhat on Microsoft’s ability to patch their software in time but will also be supported by a whitelist system. Flash for Internet Explorer 10 will only be supported on certain websites in certain ways. Unless your website is listed as requiring Flash for compatibility reasons then your website will not have access to the platform.

I am not really sure whether there is a cut or dry answer to whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. The only thing I can say for certain is that Microsoft gives the impression that they had a strong and clear vision for Windows 8 and since completely abandoned their plan.

It follows the rumors of what happened to Vista: a bunch of years working on a secure memory management architecture that was scrapped at the last minute requiring over half of the OS to be rewritten in C++.

We all know how great that turned out.

Seagate Pursuing Controlling Interest In LaCie

Subject: General Tech | May 23, 2012 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: storage, Seagate, LaCie, buyout

Seagate announced today that they will be pursuing a controlling interest in LaCie. The two companies deal in complementary areas of the storage industry with Seagate manufacturing drives and LaCie developing mobile and desktop drive enclosures and NAS solutions. In order to achieve a controlling (more than 50%) interest in the company, Seagate has offered to purchase all of Philippe Spruch’s–LaCie’s Chairman and CEO–shares. In addition to shares from an unnamed affiliate, such a buy would net Seagate 64.5% of outstanding shares of LaCie stock. Seagate is offering the LaCie shareholders €4.05 (approximately $5.09 USD) for their stock, and may be increased to as much as €4.17 should Seagate get 95% of LaCie shares and voting rights within 6 months of closing.

 

SeagateandLacie.jpg

The merging of Seagate and LaCie logos (hehe).

After acquiring a controlling interest, they would then work to buy back all other otustanding shares with a cash offer. The initial purchase of stock is still pending governmental approval. Ricol Lasteyrie & Associates has been appointed as an independent expert by the board of directors for LaCie to examine the offer and determine whether or not to accept. Should it go through, Philippe Spruch would join Seagate as the president of Seagate’s consumer storage division. He would have the current Seagate vice president Patrick Connolly and LaCie deputy general manager Pierre van der Elst reporting to him. At this time, Seagate has not disclosed how much the former LaCie employees would be paid to work for Seagate. If all the appropriate governing bodies “okay” it, the buyout is expected to happen in the third quarter of 2012 (Q3 2012).

Steve Luczo, Seagate chairman, president and CEO was quoted in the press release in stating: “Seagate has a strong commitment to the growing consumer storage market and bringing the most dynamic products to market. LaCie has built an exceptional consumer brand by delivering exciting and innovative high-end products for many years. This transaction would bring a highly complementary set of capabilities to Seagate, significantly expand our consumer product offerings, add a premium-branded direct-attached storage line, strengthen our network-attached storage business line and enhance our capabilities in software development."

The combination of Seagate and LaCie seems odd a first, because LaCie does not manufacture their own drives (so it’s not a hard drive patent portfolio Seagate is after); but they are actually complementary services. While Seagate has the hard drive storage down, LaCie has a lineup of drive enclosures and NAS boxes. By combining the two, Seagate can manufacture the drives and the enclosures themselves. Seagate does currently have a few enclosures but their expertise is primarily in the drive technology itself. The opposite is true to Lacie, so the two companies coming together is a good thing for Seagate. One thing that LaCie has done that instantly benefits Seagate is focusing on high end and premium drive enclosures. While Seagate has focused on low and midrange drive enclosures, LaCie has solely focused on high end. This is beneficial because Seagate can integrate those higher profit margin premium LaCie products into their lineup without the need for extensive research and development. Whether it will also result in an improved product lineup and/or cheaper products for consumers remains to be seen, but it has the potential to be a good thing.

Source: Seagate

Other than an internet connection, what hardware do you need for Diablo III?

Subject: General Tech | May 23, 2012 - 02:50 PM |
Tagged: gaming, diablo iii, blizzard

TechSpot wanted to see what effect your graphics card has on your experience while slaughtering mobs of baddies in Diablo III.  First they removed any chance of a CPU bottleneck by building a test bed using an i7-3960X and then they gathered over two dozen GPUs to test with, ranging from a Radeon HD 6450 to a GTX 680 and almost everything in between.  At lower resolutions all but the slowest seven cards and Intel's HD4000 were able to give 60fps or more but at 2560x1600 only half of the cards they tested could make 60fps or better.  It is interesting to see that the GTX680 and HD7970 offer the same performance at the upper end of the resolutions they tested but you should expect that to change as drivers mature.

TS_diablo5.jpg

"While we disagree with making single player components online-only, there isn't much mere mortals like us can do about it. What we can do, however, is beat the hell out of Diablo III with today's finest hardware. Blizzard has somewhat of a reputation for making highly scalable titles that run on virtually any gaming rigs, so that's largely what we expect from the developer's latest offering..."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Source: TechSpot

Reasonably priced memristors may be coming soon thanks to a botched LED experiment

Subject: General Tech | May 23, 2012 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: hp, memristor

Over two years ago we heard about a project at HP to design a memristor, a possible future replacement for non-volatile flash memory.  The actual resistance of a memristor component can be changed, allowing it to be used as an effective storage medium due to the incredibly short time that it takes for the medium to be written to or read.  That speed was measured in picoseconds when last we heard about advances with this storage medium, just before Christmas.  One of the main hurdles that HP has been facing with adoption of the memristor was the price, but thanks to a failed experiment designing silicon oxide LEDs that may no longer be a problem.  The Register reports on the experiment which seemed to have developed unstable LEDs but when one of the designers investigated the problem further he realized the film they had created predicatably flipped between conductive and non-conductive states as power was applied.  HP's memristors may be arriving sooner than we had thought.

ucl_reram-device.jpg

"The HP-popularised memristor device is a form of ReRAM – resistive RAM – and is fairly expensive to make. Metal oxide-based ReRAM technology promises to combine minimum memory speed with NAND non-volatility and be able to provide higher capacities than NAND, which is thought will cease to be usable as process geometries go down past 10nm. ReRAM dies will need less electricity to run and will take up less space than equivalent capacity NAND."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

So... Bungie Jumping back into the PC?

Subject: General Tech | May 22, 2012 - 08:27 PM |
Tagged: Bungie, Lawsuit, Activision

Contracts between Activision and certain developers are public evidence thanks to litigation between Activision and the former Infinity Ward executives. It turns out Bungie, of Halo fame before they left Microsoft to partner with Activision, is developing their titles for the PC after their first Xbox-exclusive release. The proposed style of game has “massively-multiplayer client-based mission structures with persistent elements”.

… truth be told I have been disappointed with their games after Halo 2 when they focused on fan lip service...

But as a result of recent litigation involving their publisher we have found out that Bungie is working on a massively-multiplayer game with persistent elements. According to the contract published as evidence we will see certain versions are planned to be developed for the PC supposedly in-house.

This is the first time since the 90’s where Bungie has developed a game for the PC in-house -- excluding the small assistance which Bungie provided to Microsoft Game Studios and Pi Studios for Halo 2 Vista.

bungie_studio2.jpg

Yeah… the comments for this post won't surprise me...

(Photo: Bungie, Inc.)

If you wish to see a little behind-the-scenes of game publishing then you might like to check the contract out. A lot of amusing information such as royalty rates and bonuses are not-too-buried within the legalese. The formatting makes it actually quite human legible to skim through for the most part.

Even if Activision is ultimately successful in their lawsuit against former executives West and Zampella it would certainly be one of their most annoying victories -- at best. They lose if they win and they very lose if they lose.

Now if only Heart of the Swarm release date was important for the trial…

Source: LA Times

VIA unveils the APC $49 Android PC

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Systems | May 22, 2012 - 05:22 PM |
Tagged: VIA, htpc, APC

VIA tops Gingerbread with a banana for some reason. They also unveil a $49 system powered by Android 2.3 which has been customized for mouse and keyboard support. The system draws between 4 and 13.5 watts (idle and load respectively) and can be mounted into any standard Mini-ITX or microATX chassis as well as chassis for the new Neo-ITX standard.

I guess VIA wants to be more than just Android-in-law to HTC.

It seems as though the low powered computing market is continuing to be eaten by ARM with devices such as VIA’s just announced APC Android PC. The APC seems to be aimed at the home theatre and enthusiast markets. VIA also hopes that the low price point will introduce more people to computing.

apc-via.jpg

Apparently VIA prefers bananas to Apples.

The APC is powered by an 800MHz VIA ARM11 system-on-a-chip with 512 MB of DDR3 RAM. 2GB of flash memory is embedded on the device which can be expanded by a microSD card slot. It may also be possible to install extra memory through one of the four USB2.0 ports on the device although that is not explicitly stated in the press release. Display output will be limited to 720p. Power usage will vary between 4 and 13.5 watts depending on load.

VIA is also promoting the device for its Neo-ITX form factor. The APC is 17cm x 8.5cm in dimensions -- which is just under 6 3/4” by 3 3/8” for you non-Metrics -- and can mount in Mini-ITX or microATX cases. It apparently is also smaller than a banana.

The APC is expected to ship this July for $49.

Source: VIA

Thunderbolt for Windows Performance Preview - ASUS P8Z77-V Premium

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Storage | May 21, 2012 - 06:57 PM |
Tagged: Z77, thunderbolt, p8z77-v premium, msi, asus

We have really been waiting for this since we first saw the release of Thunderbolt on the Apple MacBooks last year, but we finally have it: Thunderbolt support for PC users!  Both MSI and ASUS today announced availability of motherboards with integrated Thunderbolt connectivity: the ASUS P8Z77-V Premium and the MSI Z77A-GD80 will both get you a single integrated Thunderbolt port.

You can see MSI's full press release right hereWe can't find the ASUS press release anywhere Here is the ASUS press release as well, but here are a few selections:

tb01.jpg

"Intel and ASUS have worked closely on the implementation of Thunderbolt technology onto Asus motherboards”, said Jason Ziller, Intel’s Director of Thunderbolt Marketing. “The P8Z77-V PREMIUM is the first Thunderbolt certified motherboard in the industry, a testament to its solid design and compatibility."

...

With its long history of working with high tech vendors, ASUS is able to show its strength and commitment to innovation with a close relationship to three of the leading brands currently producing products with Thunderbolt technology, Elgato, LaCie, and PROMISE.

...

Thunderbolt is a new, high-speed I/O technology designed for performance, simplicity and flexibility, with lightning fast transfer speeds that are twice that of USB 3.0 and up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0. It offers simultaneous bi-directional 10Gbps transfer speeds over a single cable, with the flexibility to daisy-chain up to six Thunderbolt-ready devices with a single connection as well as offering full display port support for a 7th Thunderbolt or display port equipped monitor. This allows for a clutter-free computing experience while offering unprecedented levels of performance. Users can connect multiple Thunderbolt-enabled external storage drives to a Thunderbolt-enabled display and transfer files while watching HD movies, all without experiencing any lag. In addition for content professional this connection has been designed form the ground up for multimedia offering low latency with highly accurate time synchronization for professional audio and video applications. PC enthusiast and gamers can take immediate advantage combining Thunderbolt and on-board Lucid Virtu MVP to enjoy top-notch graphics performance.

Even better, we have some in-action video of the new ASUS Thunderbolt-implementation including performance!

This video was recorded well before today's launch during our Z77 Live Review and clearly shows some of the benefits of Thunderbolt, as well as some of the limitations, you'll find if you pick up the ASUS P8ZZ77-V Premium motherboard!

Windows 8 -- Aero? Plain.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 20, 2012 - 04:03 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, Aero

Paul Thurrott reports that Microsoft will dump Aero Glass in lieu of a more flat user interface for Windows 8. How far is Microsoft willing to distance itself from the desktop market to entice a foothold in the mobile space?

Remember that image I did with a turd on a desktop workstation a few days ago?

Microsoft has killed their glass-based design which they established almost a decade ago with the Longhorn technical preview.

Windows 8 Release Preview is set to release within the next two weeks and will contain Aero Glass as its desktop chrome. The shift to the flat layout will occur before release of the full version. It is still unclear whether users will be able to see it hands-on before they are expected to own it.

windows8beta.jpg

The ironic part is that is probably a glass aquarium.

You may be wondering why I claim this as an offense against the desktop. Later in his article Paul gives his prediction into why Aero Glass shattered -- since Microsoft did not directly say so themselves. Aero is not the most difficult interface for a computer to render but it does require a steady amount more computation than a flat layout. Transparency, blur, and other effects take up computation power -- hence why Windows harasses you to turn off Aero if your framerate dips in a game -- and that computation power translates to battery life.

Remember when Aero was touted as a driving reason to in-place upgrade to Vista Home Premium?

I guess Microsoft believes that they do not want their tablet customers to feel like second-rate citizens. At least we know that they will be willing to throw it all away and do it over yet again. At this point that should be the most clear above anything else.