You aren't really stylin' unless your earbuds are made of wood

Subject: General Tech | September 28, 2012 - 04:09 PM |
Tagged: audio, rosewill, RHTS-11002, in-ear, rosewood

Rosewill's RHTS-11002 in-ear headphones are definitely designed for the high end market as the body of the earbuds is made of rosewood, with aluminium highlights and replaceable silicon tips.  TechPowerUp thought the sound quality to be similar to Sennheiser's CX300, good for casual listening while you are on the go but not as powerful or rich as you can get with full headphones or speakers.  They are currently $20 on NewEgg which makes them a rather sweet deal for anyone shopping for this style of headphones.

TPU_earphones_3_small.jpg

"Rosewill's impressive product line-up also includes some very interesting headphones and in-ears. We will be taking a look at the RHTS-11002 Rosewood in-ears which features 10 mm dynamic drivers, and real rosewood ear cups!"

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Audio Corner

Source: TechPowerUp

Motherboard manufacturer merger mayhem

Subject: General Tech | September 28, 2012 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: purchase, merger, asus, asrock

The news from DigiTimes yesterday that Haswell will take even more features away from the motherboard and place them on the CPU signalled a problem for second and third tier manufacturers was worrying.  With less and less features being available for motherboard manufacturers to use to distinguish their products the market becomes less profitable for those boards which can't afford the additional costs incurred by including Thunderbolt or other high end features.  That could well spell the end of several current motherboard manufacturers.

If that wasn't enough to worry you about the possibility of having less choice in system parts in the future, how about the news coming out of SemiAccurate that ASUS is looking to purchase ASRock's motherboard business.  If that was to occur ASUS would own a huge portion of the first tier of motherboards and swamp Gigabyte with the volume they could produce.  At the same time they could leverage ASRock's lower cost motherboard business and compete with the second tier motherboard manufacturers.  With the competition being so fierce and the added features being so limited, at least for Intel boards, the third tier would not have a snowballs chance in the market and would collapse except for a few custom boards for niche markets.   Not the best news for enthusiasts or cost conscious consumers.

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"Currently word has it that an offer has been made for Asrock, and Pegatron is essentially fine with the terms. This would take the #1 and #3 mobo makers and combine them, leaving the industry with one massive behemoth, one solid player, and a lot of minnows struggling to make waves. As of now, there is a first tier of Asus and Gigabyte, then Asrock, MSI, and ECS at less than half of that volume, plus a few niche players in the motherboard market."

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Tech Talk

Source: SemiAccurate
Manufacturer: PC Perspective
Tagged: windows 8, linux, bsd

Or: the countdown to a fresh Start.

Over time – and not necessarily much of it – usage of a platform can become a marriage. I trusted Windows, nee MS-DOS, guardianship over all of my precious applications which depend upon it. Chances are you too have trusted Microsoft or a similar proprietary platform holder to provide a household for your content.

It is time for a custody hearing.

These are the reasons why I still use Windows – and who could profit as home wreckers.

Windows8TheEnd.png
Windows 8 -- keep your rings. You are not ready for commitment.

1st Reason – Games

Win8_End_Steam.png

The most obvious leading topic.

Computer games have been dominated by Windows for quite some time now. When you find a PC game at retail or online you will find either a Windows trademark or the occasional half-eaten fruit somewhere on the page or packaging.

One of the leading reasons for the success of the PC platform is the culture of backwards compatibility. Though the platform has been rumored dead ad-infinitum it still exists – surrounded by a wasteland of old deprecated consoles. I still play games from past decades on their original platform.

Check in after the break to find out why I still use Windows.

Do these pixels look funny to you?

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2012 - 04:44 PM |
Tagged: win8, resolution, asus, Zenbook Prime, win7, disappoint

The Tech Report were excited by the arrival of the new ASUS Zenbook Prime with its 1920x1080 13.3" IPS display but when they they used it under Win7 they ran into some problems.  As the text at this resolution is absolutely tiny on a 13.3" screen it is zoomed to 125% which is about right for text on the desktop, the third party applications however did not necessarily look right and when they fired up IE9 it got much worse, as you can see below.  As there is a new almost finished version of Windows 8 available, which touts its ability to handle high pixel per inch screens, they loaded that OS onto the Zenbook in the hopes of improving the look of the web.  Read their disappointing results from using Win8 and IE10 on small screen with a big resolution.

win7-iescaling-1.png

"We've taken Windows 8 for a spin on Asus' new Zenbook Prime in order to get a feel for the new OS's PPI scaling capabilities. As we found, Windows 8's suitability for systems with high-PPI screens may have been exaggerated."

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Tech Talk

Podcast #220 - Samsung 840 Pro SSD, a 1500W PSU from EVGA, AMD GPU leaks, and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2012 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, Sea Islands, Samsung, PSU, podcast, nvidia, IOPS, Intel, evga, amd, 840 pro, 840, 1500W

PC Perspective Podcast #220 - 09/27/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the Samsung 840 Pro SSD, a 1500W PSU from EVGA, AMD GPU leaks, 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, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:07:28

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:02:55 Samsung 840 Pro 512GB SSD
    2. 0:17:50 EVGA SuperNOVA 1500 watt PSU
  2. 0:23:20 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  3. News items of interest:
    1. 0:24:05 Raspberry Pi to get a Turbo button?
    2. 0:26:30 Looking for a $1200 Muderbox?
    3. 0:29:05 GLOBALFOUNDRIES goes 3D with FinFET
    4. 0:41:10 AMD Sea Islands GPU leaks
    5. 0:46:00 Maingear launches an All-in-One with a GTX 680
    6. 0:50:50 Catalyst 12.9 Released
    7. 0:55:20 Long term storage?
  4. Closing:
    1. 0:57:30 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Ryan: AVADirect Mini-ITX Gaming System
      2. Jeremy: and now I can't find the smegging disks
      3. Josh: A fun barebones- not perfect, but cheap!
      4. Allyn: Samsung 830 deals! (anywhere you can get 'em)
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  4. Closing/outro
  5.  

Apple's A6 Processor Uses Hand Drawn ARM Cores to Boost Performance

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | September 27, 2012 - 12:26 PM |
Tagged: SoC, PowerVR, iphone, arm, apple, a6

Apple's latest smartphone was unveiled earlier this month, and just about every feature has been analyzed extensively by reviewers and expounded upon by Apple. However, the one aspect that remains a mystery is the ARM System on a Chip that is powering the iPhone 5. There has been a great deal of speculation, but the officially Apple is not talking. The company has stated that the new processor is two times faster than its predecessor, but beyond that it will be up to reviewers to figure out what makes it tick.

After the press conference PC Perspective's Josh Walrath researched what few hints there were on the new A6 processor, and determined that there was a good chance it was an ARM Cortex A15-based design. Since then some tidbits of information have come out that suggest otherwise, however. Developers for iOS disovered that the latest SDK suggest new functionality for the A6 processor, including some new instruction sets. That discovery tended credence to the A6 possibly being Cortex A15, but it did not prove that it wasn't. Following that, Anandtech posted an article that stated it was in a licensed Cortex A15 design. Rather, the A6 was a custom Apple-developed chip that would, ideally, give users the same level of performance without needing significantly more power – and without waiting for a Cortex A15 chip to be manufactured.

Finally, thanks to the work of the enthusiasts over at Chipworks, we have physical proof that, finally, reveals details about Apple's A6 SoC. By stripping away the outer protective layers, and placing the A6 die under a powerful microscope, they managed to get an 'up close and personal' look at the inside of the chip.

Apple A6 ARM SoC.jpg

Despite the near-Jersey Shore (shudder) levels of drama between Apple and Samsung over the recent trade dress and patent infringement allegations, it seems that the two companies worked together to bring Apple's custom processor to market. The researchers determined that the A6 was based on Samsung's 32nm CMOS manufacturing process. It reads APL0589B01 on the inside, which suggests that it is of Apple's own design. Once the Chipworks team sliced open the processor further, they discovered proof that Apple really did craft a custom ARM processor.

In fact, Apple has created a chip with dual ARM CPU cores and three GPU cores (PowerVR). The CPU cores support the ARMv7s instruction set, and Apple has gone with a hand drawn design. Rather than employ computer libraries to automatically lay out the logic in the processor, Apple and the engineers acquired from its purchase of PA Semi have manually drawn out the processor by hand. This chip has likely been in the works for a couple of years now, and the 96.71mm^2 sized die will offer up some notable performance improvements.

microscope.jpg

It seems like Apple has opted to go for an expensive custom chip rather than opt for a licensed Cortex A15 design. That combined with the hand drawn layout should give Apple a processor with better performance than its past designs without requiring significantly more power.

At a time when mobile SoC giant Texas Instruments is giving up on ARM chips for tablets and smartphones, and hand drawn designs are becoming increasingly rare (even AMD has given up), I have to give Apple props for going with a custom processor laid out by hand. I'm interested to see what the company is able to do with it and where they will go from here. 

Chipworks and iFixIt also took a look at the LTE modem, Wi-Fi chip, audio amplifier, and other aspects of the iPhone 5's internals, and it is definitely worth a read for the impressive imagery alone.

Source: ifixit

"Tears of Steel" Blender Mango Open Movie Released

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2012 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: Blender

The Blender Foundation has released several "Open Movies" in the past to showcase the functionality of their open source 3D and visual effects production software. All "Open Movies" were produced with Blender and are released under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Oh I seriously hope that juice box is made of Mangos.

Their latest release, "Tears of Steel", was developed along with the latest wave of Blender releases under the codename Mango and is a take on the robotic uprising trope condensed into a 10 minute indie-style film. Of course the visual effects are all over the place and look amazing. The writing is obviously lackluster and campy but it clearly does not take itself too seriously -- if there was any question then stick around after the credits and you will agree.

It is somewhat of a shift from their last release -- Sintel -- which I will admit tugged at my heartstrings. Frankly as much as I liked Sintel I am kind-of glad that Tears of Steel, despite its name, did not intend on making me cry.

Oh why do I keep talking? Enjoy it. Heck, it is Creative Commons Attribution -- mash it up if you want to. Go nuts.

Source: Blender

Can't get enough classic gaming? System Shock 2 and Thief 2 get compatibility updates

Subject: General Tech | September 26, 2012 - 03:12 PM |
Tagged: gaming, system shock 2, thief 2, classics

Remember the olden days when a game was interesting enough on its own that you didn't need to add Panda bears as a playable class just to try to get players interested?  Two perfect examples of what a game should be, System Shock 2 (why we can't have nice things) and Thief 2 have recently received unofficial, community designed stability patches.  If you have spent time and money at Good Old Games or hoard old game CDs in the belief that you will have a trouble free experience playing old titles under Win7, you have probably come to the realization that sometimes it just isn't that easy.  That is why it is wonderful to see PC gaming enthusiasts hard at work making old classics compatible with today's software and in some cases enabling resolutions and settings we only dreamed about when the games were first released.  Check out Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for the files you will need to experience these two games again, stable and with improvements beyond the original releases.

As well, make sure to check PC Per Live (over there at the right ... the radio tower with LIVE under it!) as the PC Perspective Podcast is tonight at 7PM PDT and afterwards we will probably live stream the crew playing a game, possibly one which begins with the letter 'B'.

Shock2.jpg

"System Shock 2 and Thief 2 are regularly hailed as classics for a reason. They’re meticulously designed, tough but not unfair, and, well, they’ve been around for a gazillion years – at least, in gaming technology time. Unfortunately, our light-speed-traveling future machines take about as well to them as modern automobiles to giant stone Flintstones wheels. In other (pseudo) words, clunkity clunk clunk crash. But now – finally, wonderfully, mercifully – some kind soul’s seen fit to release unofficial patches that bring both games up to speed. And, according to early reports, they make some positively massive improvements."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Track your Linux powered laptops battery usage

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 26, 2012 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: linux

Power consumption on Linux has always been harder to track than on Windows, especially at a granular level to determine which components are the most power hungry in your system.  Considering the huge outcry some users made at the release of kernel 3.5 and the high power draw they witnessed, monitoring power has become a hot topic for many. Phoronix just posted a review of PowerTOP, which shows the discharge rate of your laptops battery, as well as how much power your hardware is using including the number of interrupts it is sending to your CPU. For developers there is even a way to create hardware profiles for yourself and your users which will help you extend battery life for all your mobile Linux machines.

powertop_small.png

"Getting the longest battery life on portable Linux machines is yet another moving target as kernels and standards change and vendors continue to snuggle up to Microsoft at the expense of non-Windows users. There was a bit of controversy at the release of the 3.x kernel because it contained a power regression (or not a power regression but something else that behaved like a power regression depending on who was talking) and the result was that Linux got considerably less battery life than Windows on the same machines. This was especially obvious to dual-boot users. This is a long complex story, so if you're interested in the details see the links at the end."

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Tech Talk

Source: Phoronix

The media might last a million years, what about the reader?

Subject: General Tech, Storage | September 25, 2012 - 01:19 PM |
Tagged: hitachi, foresight

Hitachi has created a sliver of quartz glass 2cm square and 2mm thick with the storage density of a CD, 40MB/in2 which they claim will remain viable for millions of years.  Even radiation, water, most chemicals and heat above 1000C will not damage the data stored on this chip and in theory dropping it shouldn't hurt it too much either.  Long term storage is a real problem, in some cases paper documents have a better chance of surviving long term in a readable state than do optical or magnetic media.  That doesn't even bring readers into the loop, there are many obsolete formats which cannot be read by current readers and finding an old working Zip drive is not an easy task.  Hitachi told The Register that they foresee no problems increasing storage density which is good considering the size of crystal you would need for large sized storage.  As long as someone can read the binary etched into the glass they would recognize that there was data stored there, on the other hand what is the likelihood they would be running a compatible file system.  At least the data will still be there which is more than you can say for the vast majority of storage media used today.

ElReg_hitachi_glass_storage.jpg

"Company researchers displayed the storage unit, consisting of a sliver of glass 2cm square and 2mm thick, which can hold 40MB of data per square inch, about the same as a standard CD. The data is written in binary format by lasering dots on the glass in four layers, but the researchers say adding more layers to increase storage density isn't a problem."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register