Are Western Digital and Seagate doomed to be marked as bad sectors?

Subject: General Tech | June 15, 2012 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: Hard Disk, Seagate, western digital, fud, hdd

There are quite a few things in the industry to speculate on, from Microsoft's intimating a 'big new thing' next Monday to AMD and the HSA's plans for the future of the industry, but if you want to go for the big one then it is the hard drive industry you should be following.  The most recent sign that something big is going on would be the change in warranty length on consumer drives from the two remaining players, both of which now offer a 1yr warranty.  That is a vast reduction from previous 3yr and 5yr warranties and while it does not necessarily imply these drives will fail any faster it does mean they offer shorter warranties than their competition, the SSD.  This could convince a lot of people that paying $1/GB for an SSD is not really that bad of a deal and you can only expect that price to fall, especially on larger sized SSDs.

Also consider the fact that there are only two major HDD manufacturers left, Seagate and Western Digital.  This defragmentation of the industry has been going on for quite a while now, resulting in those two manufacturers owning their competitions resources and IP and pretty much being able to determine what the market will provide and at what cost to the consumer.  That has lead to the rather counter-intuitive profits that these two, especially Western Digital, made over the past year.  You would not expect a company which lost its manufacturing capabilities to the Thai floods to see a 230% increase in profit, yet that is exactly what happened from March 2011 to March 2012.  Seagate held their first place spot over the same time period, with higher volume sales contributing to that success with their prices only rising 20% instead of the 40% they threatened during the supposed supply difficulties.  

The HDD market seems to be on its way out, not just because ultraportable devices chose SSDs over HDDs but also because the average consumer has come to the realization that while having a few terabytes of storage is nice for long term storage they really do not need it, especially on a device which does not have long term support.  The Inquirer smells something foul in the air and comments on this topic here.

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"Seagate, Western Digital and to a lesser extent Toshiba are starting to see free market economics - or as close as it gets - show their strategy of consolidation and profiteering. With the number of solid state disk (SSD) in the low teens, prices are falling steeply while hard drive makers rely on artificially high prices and shorter warranties to make a quick buck."

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Source: The Inquirer

Skype is bring in call ads to 1 on 1 audio calls

Subject: General Tech | June 14, 2012 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged:

That it could have been worse is about the best you can say when you read this announcement from Skype's blog.  Advertising will be introduced for people who have no Skype credit and are making a 1 to 1 audio call.  The ads will be animated but are not allowed to expand nor are they allowed to produce audio; they will be personalized unless you opt out via this web page, but that will not stop random ads from appearing.  As The Register points out, calling these 'Conversation Ads' is an abuse of language at the least and a prime example of bafflegab.  In theory the best idea to avoid this altogether would be to purchase a bit of Skype credit and not use it, as the ads do not appear for those who have purchased credit.  It would seem that for now, video call users are also safe but that may change as Microsoft explores new revenue sources from Skype.

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"In the kind of emetic doubletalk that can only be produced by highly-trained university professionals, Skype has justified its launch of in-call advertising by saying the move will let people “have meaningful conversations about brands in a highly engaging environment”."

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Podcast #206 - Corsair 550D Chassis, AMD licensing ARM, AMD Tahiti 2 GPUs and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 14, 2012 - 02:53 PM |
Tagged: tahiti 2, podcast, nvidia, Intel, hsa, corsair, arm, amd, 550d

PC Perspective Podcast #206 - 06/14/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the Corsair 550D Chassis, AMD licensing ARM, AMD Tahiti 2 GPUs 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: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malvantano and Scott Michaud

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:22:58

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:20 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 ioSafe SoloPro and Synology DiskStation 212+ Review
  6. 0:13:05 Origin EOS17 Gaming Notebook Review
  7. 0:18:00 Corsair Obsidian 550D Case Review
  8. 0:22:00 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  9. 0:24:10 AMD, ARM, Ti, Imagination and MediaTek for HSA Foundation
  10. 0:34:30 AMD licenses ARM Cortex-A5 for APUs
  11. 0:39:45 Sapphire passive Radeon HD 7770
  12. 0:42:50 ASUS ROG laptop first with 802.11ac
  13. 0:47:50 AMD could be releasing Tahiti 2 GPU next week
  14. 0:49:16 Unreal Engine 4 looks pretty awesome...
  15. 0:55:05 AMD Wireless Display standard coming soon
  16. 0:56:45 Apple does indeed release high-res 15" laptop
  17. 1:02:00 New MacBooks Sporting 6Gb/s Samsung 830 Series SSD Controllers
  18. 1:04:18 AMD Kevari 3rd gen APU to hit 1 TFLOPS performance
  19. 1:06:45 Link_A_Media controller explored
  20. 1:09:45 AMD FirePro W600 launched
  21. 1:13:55 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: That Doctor he was getting drunk with
    2. Jeremy: It's heeere and on the Leaderboard
    3. Josh:  Not for the faint of heart. Or wallet.
    4. Allyn: Windows 8 Release Preview is out
    5. Scott: Mount and Blade: Warband: Napoleonic Wars (because you can never have too many subtitles)
    6. Tim: Corsair Obsidian 550D I've been drooling over this since CES! )
  22. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  23. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  24. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  25. 1:22:00 Closing

 

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction

A few weeks ago I witnessed a technology demo by Western Digital. I arrived expecting to see something storage related, but what I saw was completely different - a new line of routers!

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The new 'My Net' series of Western Digital routers are intended to cover the mid to high end of the home usage spectrum. Models start with 4 ports of Fast Ethernet and scale all the way up to 7x GigE switching. All models support some form of simultaneous dual band (2.4 and 5 GHz), with a minimum of 2x2 and scaling up to 3x3 configurations (more detail / explanation on that later).

Read on for our full review!

Max Payne 3 versus Tessellation, FXAA and MSAA

Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2012 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: gaming, max payne 3, fxaa, msaa, ssao, hdao

Techgage recently took a look at the effect enabling tesselation and antialiasing has on the visual quality of Max Payne 3.  Visually the Phong Tesselation seems to only have an effect on close visuals of faces, as well as adding some volume to clothing.  FXAA and 4xMSAA had more effect, with FXAA not only offering smoother visuals but also having almost no effect whatsoever on frame rates.  They also took a look at SSAO and HDAO but for that you'd need to download their large screenshot to be able to tell them apart and ended by delving into the performance.  Check it out here.

TG_tessellation_comparison.png

"With Max Payne 3 reviewed, how about we take a look at the game from a technical perspective? Wondering what the game brings to the tessellation table? How FXAA compares to MSAA? Whether HDAO is really worth the performance hit? We tackle all these questions and more, so read on."

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Source: Techgage

... OK, just a bit more Computex

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 13, 2012 - 09:03 AM |
Tagged: trinity, spire, Silverstone, rosewill, nzxt, corsair, computex 2012, computex, asus, amd

The Tech Report found a few more Computex 2012 pictures to show off, including a teaser from NZXT of the previous Phantom model as the new model is still under NDA, no such problem for the case modders showing off at the Thermaltake booth nor for InWin and their new H-Frame case.  Sticking with the cooling motif is this new fan from Spire which uses a new type of bearing to provide a longer life and Corsair's two new lineups of 120mm and 140mm fans, the AF series designed to maximize air flow through a case and the SF series for heatsinks and radiators which benefit more from the increased static pressure larger fan blades can provide.  From Rosewill they spotted a silent PSU, SilverStone a SFX model perfect for an HTPC and big 1200W digitally controlled PSU from Corsair.  Wrap up the tour with some bad news about the expected delay of Trinity on the desktop and some good news for audiophiles from ASUS' Xonar team.

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"We've wrapped up our Computex coverage with another round of news. On tap: the PSUs and case mods that stood out at the show, new fans from Corsair and Spire, a chat with Asus' Xonar audio team, details on NZXT's next-generation Phantom enclosure, and word of a delay to AMD's desktop Trinity APU."

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AMD Launches New FirePro W600: 6 mini-DisplayPorts, 1 slot

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | June 13, 2012 - 12:07 AM |
Tagged: InfoComm 2012, firepro, amd

AMD launches their new FirePro W600 graphics card for professional uses where you desire to drive up to 6 4K monitors from a single-slot PCIe card. The FirePro W600 will be available immediately at an estimated MSRP of $599.

We may be deep in the middle of AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2012 coverage -- but AMD is not just in Seattle this week. The processor and graphics card company is also attending InfoComm 2012 where they released a new FirePro graphics card for a very specific customer. The AMD FirePro W600 is classified as a professional graphics card for display walls.

That description is very accurate.

W600-card.jpg

This single slot card can feed up to 6 4K displays through its 6 mini-DisplayPort 1.2 outputs. Also announced is the multi-stream transport hub (MST hub) which can forego 4K output for 4 separate 1080p displays. They do not claim that 24 1080p monitors can be output from the card so it is possible that there is a limit to prevent all 6 mini-DisplayPorts from being utilized.

W600-Sound.jpg

If you prefer to not use any hubs and simply have one display per output then you have the option to send independent audio streams to each of the 6 displays. Each of your 4K monitors could be fed different audio all from the same PC and all from the same card.

W600-zerocore.png

Enterprises interested in the card would also receive PowerTune and ZeroCore features which were introduced in the Radeon line to reduce power usage. ZeroCore specifically would allow the card to consume up to 95% less power while the rest of the PC is idle.

The FirePro W600 has an MSRP of $599 and is available for purchase immediately.

Source: AMD

AMD's new Embedded Solutions Group aims at a new market

Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2012 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: amd, arm, IBM, Freescale, AFDS, ESG

According to the VDC Research Group's findings, the embedded market will hit $6bn in sales in 2012 and keep growing at a rate of 12%-15% per year.  AMD seems poised to move into this market with the formation of their Embedded Solution Group and the changes we have been seeing to their processor lines.  Current Opteron HE and EE chips consume between 35W and 65W depending on the number of cores and that amount might be trimmed down as new models come out.  They also have lines of embedded Athlon, Turion, Sempron, and Geode LX based chips and have hired an FPGA veteran, Arun Iyengar, to manage the ESG though The Register expresses doubt that AMD is thinking of developing it's own FPGA business.  More likely they hope to provide powerful alternatives for those in the market that now need a little more from their embedded products.  Read the full story here and keep your eyes peeled for more news coming out of the AMD Fusion Developer Summit.

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"The new management team at Advanced Micro Devices is looking everywhere, including under the couch cushions, to find some money so it can afford to explore the embedded systems market again. The chip biz hopes rivals Intel and the ARM collective are too distracted to notice the foray as they fight over each others' territories in PCs, servers and mobile devices."

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Source: The Register

SilverStone SST-HE02 giant passive CPU cooler

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | June 11, 2012 - 06:29 PM |
Tagged: Silverstone, SST-HE02, passive cooling

Olivier of FanlessTech notified us of a recent SilverStone passive CPU cooler. If you would prefer to jam your case with a giant piece of metal than hear a fan whine -- you should read on. I must say, this gets me interested.

I hope this will continue to be a trend of not needing to trade-off between performance and silence.

It is becoming very difficult to find passive cooling systems for PC parts and it becomes even more difficult if you actually want a good PC when all is said and done. The latest cooler from SilverStone will support CPUs up to 95W which is well over what is required for even the higher-end 77W Ivy Bridge processors.

HE02_a.JPG

If only there would be options like this for a GTX 680 or similar GPU.

It is a shame that passive power supplies seem to have not crept too far past 500W and that GPU coolers have been getting substantially less and less passive over time. But I guess someone needs to break the ice and I am glad that you will at least have an option for passively cooling higher-end CPUs and maybe we will see that trickle into other high-end PC markets.

The SST-HE02 is expected to cost $70 and will be available late in Q3 of this year.

Source: FanlessTech

A capacitor powered mouse from Genius

Subject: General Tech | June 11, 2012 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: input, mouse, Genius DX-ECO

Why would you want a wireless mouse which has abandoned batteries and instead uses a large capacitor?  Apart from the obvious environmental benefit of never tossing out drained batteries, how does a charging time of 3 minutes for an 4 hour charge sound?  Bjorn3D also reports that the capacitor will have an expected lifespan of 100,000 charges which ought to last you until we have a new way of interfacing with our PCs.  It uses BlueEye technology to ensure that your cursor will properly track across any surface.  Bjorn3D was a little disappointed that there was only 2 DPI modes but that will not matter to the mobile office user.

b3d_genius_dx_eco_05.jpg

"Have you ever considered the environmental waste from all of the disposable batteries you throw away from your wireless mouse? The DX-ECO from Genius has an ingenious solution to this problem. The DX-ECO uses capacitors as opposed to conventional batteries to store a charge. This makes the mouse extremely light and have a recharging time of only 4 minutes."

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Source: Bjorn3D