Sapphire Unveils New AMD Radeon HD 7970 OC Edition GPU

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2012 - 10:36 PM |
Tagged: sapphire, radeon, HD 7970, gpu, amd, 7970

Sapphire Technologies recently launched a new factory overclocked version of the AMD Radeon HD 7970 graphics card. The new Radeon HD 7970 OC Edition promises to combine the performance of AMD's 7970 GPU (you can find our review of the 7970 here) with Sapphire's own Dual X two fan heatpipe cooler.

11197-01_HD7970_3GGDDR5_2miniDP_HDMI_DVI_PCIE_C02_634666290379941075_600_600.jpg

The Sapphire HD 7970 GPU is powered by one 8 pin and one 6 pin PCI-E power connection, and supports the PCI-E 3.0 standard and Microsoft's DirectX 11.1 technology. Other specifications include 3 GB of GDDR5 memory, a 28nm Graphics Core Next (GCN) GPU core, a 384-bit memory interface, and a dual BIOS switch depending on whether you want to run at stock clock speeds or use the factory overclocked profile.

Specifically, the Sapphire HD 7970 GPU features a dual bios switch that allows customers to switch between default clock speeds of 950 MHz core and 1425 MHz memory and the factory overclocked speeds of 1 GHz (1,000 MHz) core and 1450 MHz memory. When using the overclocked BIOS, the graphics card will employ more a more aggressive fan profile and also allows raises the maximum limits for overclocking the core, memory, and voltage values.

Further, the Sapphire GPU uses their own Dual X cooler that features a dual slot aluminum heatsink connected to the GPU core by five copper heatpipes. This heatsink is then cooled by two large fans, that Sapphire claims will enable quiet operation even while under load.

Accessories wise, Sapphire provides one DVI, one HDMI, and two mini Display Port video outputs. In the retail packaging, Sapphire provides an Active mini Display Port to single-link DVI adapter, HDMI to DVI adapter, DVI to VGA adapter, two PCI-E to molex power adapters (one molex to PCI-E 8 pin and one molex to PCI-E 6 pin), a mini Display Port to Display Port adapter, a 1.8 meter HDMI 1.4a cable, and a CrossFire bridge.

11197-01_HD7970_3GGDDR5_2miniDP_HDMI_DVI_PCIE_FBC_634674106004482800_600_600.jpg

The new Sapphire HD 7970 OC Edition is available now from authorized retailers, and is retailing for between $580 and $630 at several retailers at the time of writing.

Source: Sapphire

Podcast #193 - Kepler Mobile preview, GTX 680 Rumors, Zenbook talk and more!

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2012 - 01:28 PM |
Tagged: podcast, nvidia, kepler, Ivy Bridge, Intel, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #193 - 03/15/2012

Join us this week as we talk about our Kepler Mobile preview, GTX 680 Rumors, Zenbook talk 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 Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 59:29

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. NCAA 2012: PC Perspective Bracket Competition!!
  6. HP dm4t Beats Edition Notebook Review: Branding Gone Wild
  7. Nvidia GeForce GT 640M Review: Kepler Arrives For Mobile
  8. Unreal Engine Samaritan Demo Running On Single NVIDIA Kepler GPU
  9. Alleged NVIDIA GK104 Kepler GTX 670 Ti Photo Leaked
  10. GTX 680, Turbo Cores, and Cuda Cores!
  11. A possible GTX 680 specs leak?
  12. Asus Updating Zenbook Line With UX31A and UX21A Ultrabooks
    1. caveat emptor
  13. Lian Li Releases Official Photos of PC-QO5 Case
  14. The new MAINGEAR Solo all-in-one PC series
  15. ARM Cortex-MO+ Lowest Power Processor Yet At 9µA/MHz
  16. Give me a Marauder MAD-5M with original armour and I am good to go
  17. Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: NCAA March Madness app - $3.99 for ALL THE GAMES ALL THE TIME
    2. Jeremy: Brewtarget
    3. Josh: I couldn't stand it... I bought it.
    4. Allyn: Windows Server 8 Beta - Try it with Tim's Instructions.
  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

Source:

More solid information on Ivy Bridge's launch dates

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2012 - 01:05 PM |
Tagged: Ivy Bridge, Intel, haswell, lynx point

This morning DigiTimes suggests a more concrete launch schedule for Ivy Bridge, which slates the processor to begin hitting the streets by the end of next month.  The initial launch in April should see all of the announced Core i7 models become available as well as the middle member of the Core i5 line.  By June we should see more of the Core i5 models become available but those looking for a low cost Core i3 will be waiting until the end of summer before they can purchase a new processor.  It will be this time next year before Haswell and Lynx Point become available if you are planning to hold off on upgrading until that generation of processor becomes available.

IvyBridgeSlide.jpg

"Intel is set to announce its next-generation 22nm-based Ivy Bridge processors by the end of April with 11 models including Core i7-3770K, Core i7-3770, Core i7-3770S, Core i7-3770T and Core i5-3550, expected to appear in the initial launch, while several models including Core i5-3470, Core i5-3470S, Core i5-3475S, Core i5-3570 and Core i5-3570S will be released in early June, according to sources from upstream component players.

As for Ivy Bridge-based entry-level Core i3 and Pentium series processors, Intel is expected to release the CPUs in August with 7 series chipsets to appear in early April."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

Mozilla Will Support H.264 Codec For HTML5 Video, Grudgingly

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2012 - 08:14 AM |
Tagged: webM, web browser, mozilla, html5, h.264, firefox

Mozilla executives working for the foundation behind the Firefox web browser today announced that they would be giving in to the H.264 codec as the open WebM VP8 codec has lost the war. The H.264 and VP8 (part of WebM) codecs are used to encode and decode video files, and are especially important on mobile devices as Flash support is less ubiquitous (or totally absent if you're using Apple products). In the absense of flash, the web turned to the HTML5 standard which provides <code><video></code> tags that allow direct embedding of videos into websites. Also important is that H.264  has wide support for being hardware accelerated on many mobile devices, enabling smart phones to smoothly playback high quality files that the low power CPU portion of ARM SoCs would otherwise struggle with. This situation is also available to desktop users, but is less of an issue as processing power is not as scarce and can, ah, accommodate Adobe's Flash plugin (heh).

images.jpg

The downside, and where all the controversy arises from, is that the H.264 codec is not free and requires manufacturers or sites that stream H.264 videos for a fee to license it as well as users, though the actual cost for licensing is generally rolled into the cost of the OS, device, or other piece of purchased software. Further, because the HTML5 standard does not specifically define a set video codec, there is room for fragmentation. Adobe, Mozilla, and Google eventually would jump behind what is now known as the WebM standard, which is an open (and free) video codec (VP8) that would not require expensive licensing restrictions. On the other hand, Apple backed the H.264 standard. Mozilla would roll WebM into their browser but not H.264, meaning that users could view HTML5 videos using Firefox but not HTML5 videos encoded with the H.264 codec. Google, Apple, and Microsoft would support the H.264 codec for HTML5 videos, despite Google developing WebM (and the included VP8 video codec) and giving word of mouth support for WebM. This meant that Chrome users could view both WebM and H.264 based HTML5 video.

firefox_logo.png

According to the article, Google promised to drop support for H.264 and move solely to the WebM VP8 codec to entice websites to move to the open codec. Unfortunately, the company never came through with that promise, and has continued to offer dual support while Mozilla was left holding the open source support banner and causing their users to suffer as a result. The article references a study by MeFeedia that suggests that as of December 2011, H.264 based HTML5 video accounts for 80% of the market, implying that WebM has already lost the war. Brendan Eich, Mozilla's Chief Technology Officer noted that WebM needed support from a larger entity than Mozilla, and it needed that support in the beginning. Especially with Apple heralding H.264, for mobile site publishers, WebM really needed heavy backing to compete with Apple's market share and influential support of H.264 to have a chance. He further stated that:

"it might not have worked then, even with Google on-side. Now, with just Mozilla going it alone, all we do is kill our mobile initiatives in order to appear pure...That does not serve our mission or users."

Mozilla is now looking to support H.264, if a bit grudgingly. At this point, not supporting H.264 is only hurting their users and market share and not furthering their push for WebM. After all, if users are forced to look at other browsers just to play videos, it will not be WebM that is the only open source software forgotten (rather, the entire Mozilla web browser will wain).

Granted, Google is not the only company to blame for VP8 not catching on, Adobe also failed to properly push the codec. Also, Google is allegedly continuing to develop VP8 and WebM. Right now; however, losing Mozilla's support seems to be the final nail in the WebM coffin and the recognition that H.264 is the dominant format. More information is available here.

Source: CNET

A possible GTX 680 specs leak?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 14, 2012 - 05:29 PM |
Tagged: rumour, nvidia, leak, gtx 680

Below you can see a screen grab from PConline which purports to show the specifications of the GTX 680. While the specs are well within reason, without any way to verify this leak, or to translate the Chinese characters it is hard to have these specs confirmed or denied as they stand.  Whether you should take the below with a good dose of NaCl is as of yet unknown but for now we can enjoy the speculation until NVIDIA finally releases the cards for review.

670leakage.png

Please feel free to add any speculations, doubts or other leaks in the comments below ... or even a decent translation would be great!  You can catch the Google Translation here, if you wish to torture your brain with exclusive exposure.

Source: PConline

Don't snub the Corsair Vengeance 1300 headset just because it is analog

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2012 - 05:08 PM |
Tagged: audio, corsair, vengeance 1300

While many USB headsets make the claim that they need no drivers to work, an analog headset is about as Plug and Play as you can get.  Corsair's Vengeance 1300 is no different and will start working once you plug it in.  You do of course lose some of the features of  digital sound, no 5.1 emulation on this headset, just stereo sound is available.  Hardware Secrets found them very comfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time as well as very portable so for those who find themselves on the road they make a very solid choice.  Check out the review here.

HS_C1300.jpg

"Corsair first entered the gaming-grade headset market with the HS1, a digital model we already tested. Now they put on the market the Vengeance line, comprised of an analog model (the 1300) and its digital equivalent (the 1500). We will test the Vengeance 1300, beginning with a look at its physical characteristics and then proceeding to its performance."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

Give me a Marauder MAD-5M with original armour and I am good to go

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2012 - 02:46 PM |
Tagged: Mechwarrior, gaming

Though not a single player game in any sense of the word, MechWarrior has finally come back to the PC in the form of a free to play online game.  Think of it as a large Solaris VII Arena where two teams of 12 mechs compete for domination.  You don't have to restrict yourself to assault mechs either, as effective scouting with smaller mechs will net you the same experience awards as blowing the leg off of an opposing mech. For those who want a more persistent experience you can join a mercenary company or if you prefer to just jump into battle like Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN had the chance to do then jump into a cockpit and lay waste to your enemies in the newest implementation of the Crytek 3 engine.

mech2.jpg

"It’s been ten years since the last MechWarrior game. Which seems odd, since the idea of stomping around in giant robots is such a popular one. But now the license has been put in the hands of Piranha Games, and it’s going online, and MechWarrior Online is going free to play. I saw it in action at GDC, so read on for my report."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

You might want to rethink enabling RDP unless you have NLA set up

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2012 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: remote desktop protocol, patch tuesday, fud, rdp, security

Remote Desktop Protocol is a very handy tool, as the name suggests it allows you to take remote control of a desktop and is commonly used for everything from logging into a remote server to change settings to helping a long distance friend to get their printer installed to logging onto your home machine to start a Steam download and install so your game will be ready for you when you get home from work.  Unfortunately it does open up a way into your PC for attackers, though thanks to the Network Level Authentication feature which was added into Vista and later versions of Windows, PCs on an authenticated network are much safer than they would be without it.  Unfortunately NLA will not exist on home workgroups, nor is it supported by versions of Windows previous to Vista.  That is why The Register warns of a RDP vulnerability that Microsoft will be patching next patch Tuesday, as older machines as well as home machines could be at risk if someone launches an attack before the patch is released and installed.  For the mean time you might want to disable RDP unless you actually use it regularly.

rdp.png

"The critical flaw covers all versions of Windows and is found in the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). It allows attackers to run code remotely behind the firewall, although Vista users and above can activate the Remote Desktop’s Network Level Authentication (NLA) to trigger an authentication request. RDP is disabled by default, but is often activated."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Walmart Will Convert DVDs and Blu-rays to VUDU Digital Copies

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2012 - 03:34 AM |
Tagged: walmart, vudu, ultraviolet, ripping, movies, hd, dvd, digital

Walmart Offering DVD Disc to Vudu Digital Copy conversion for cheap, but there is a caveat.

(Preface) Despite the iron fist fighting innovation and locking down media that is the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act), many tech savvy people have employed certain programs and disc drives to rip their physical DVD and Blu-ray collections to digital files that can act as backups and can be easily streamed around the house or over the Internet when you are out and about. The movie studios definitely do not like this practice; however, there is little that they can do about it (and as far as opinions go, they shouldn't). Slowly but surely the world is prodding them with a giant stick of common sense and they are starting to wake up, however. Many DVDs and Blu-rays now come with digital copies that can be unlocked and played via Itunes or Windows Media Player.  (Sure, they are DRM'ed but it is a step in the right direction.)

And even more recently, several movie studios have started experimenting with the idea of stream-able copies of physical discs using their Ultra Violet DRM. The official description of Ultra Violet is as follows.

"UltraViolet (UVVU or UV for short) is an an ecosystem for interoperable electronic content. It's a branded set of specifications and agreements along with a centralized rights clearinghouse that allows retailers to sell movies that play on UltraViolet-compatible players and services."

Needless to say, the official word isn't too helpful for those not studying law or marketing (heh). Basically it is a set of standards (including DRM) that other services and retailers can follow and sell access to a library of digital movies from participating movie studios. The standards specify that Ultraviolet movies should be download-able to UV compliant devices; however, at time of writing only streaming devices are commonplace. The way Ultra Violet works is that certain physical disc purchases will have a code that can then be used to redeem a digital copy that can then be streamed to PCs, TVs, and other supported devices (which they estimate at around 300+ devices).

walmart_dvd_conversion.png

Walmart's approach is a bit different than that but follows the same Ultraviolet DRM and standards. The new Walmart Entertainment conversion service will allow customers to bring in their DVD or Blu-ray collection and for a $2 a disc will be given access to a digital version of that film through their subsidiary company VUDU's movie service. Because Walmart has a deal with the appropriate studios, they are able to convert the movies for a small fee and without needing to rip the discs. Instead, at the Photo Center, employees will examine the discs, then find the matching movie (if there is one, of course) on the VUDU service and add it to the customers VUDU account (or create a new account if they do not already have an existing VUDU account). According to Walmart, the movies will be available for streaming within a few minutes of activation, and customers will be allowed to keep their physical discs.

Further, customers will be able to upgrade their DVD's to an HD (not Blu-ray quality but better than DVD) VUDU copy for $5 (or $3 more than a standard conversion). The wording of the press release is a bit ambiguous but seems to suggest that DVD to SD VUDU and Blu-ray to HD VUDU count as "standard conversions" due to their "equal conversions" description. Only DVDs to HD will be at the higher priced conversion (we'll get clarification on this, so stay tuned for an update).

As mentioned above, there are a couple caveats to this new conversion service. Mainly, the digital copies are (currently) only stream-able, meaning a constant internet connection is required. This point may be moot in a few months when downloads are allegedly going to be supported by Ultraviolet DRM, but at the time of writing still exists. Also, there is the fact that the files are DRM'ed, meaning that customers are out of luck if VUDU shuts down their service or they do not have Ultraviolet approved devices. The major negative that tech savvy people are likely to bring up is that the service costs money for DRM protected files when they are able to rip their DVDs and Blu-rays on their own for free and do whatever they want with the non-DRM'ed files. Finally, the service is further limited by studio support and VUDUs catalog, meaning that they may not be able to convert all of your collection for DVDs or Blu-rays that are not available on VUDU.

It is a valid point; however, it should be noted that while it is rarely enforced, the DMCA makes ripping DVDs and Blu-ray discs illegal (because the programs need to break the encryption to copy the video to the computer). Also, the Walmart service does have the benefit of cheap HD upgrades for your DVD collection at $5 a pop versus $20+ for Blu-ray versions, and it is a heck of a lot faster than waiting for the Handbrake transcoding queues to finish!

In the end, the new DVD and Blu-ray disc to digital conversion service is not perfect; however, it is a step in the right direction and a decent option for anyone that does not have the time or knowledge to rip their own DVD or Blu-ray collection. For example, this is something I could see my family members using as a good way to backup their collection and prevent the situation where their kids favorite movie will no longer play because they stepped on it and threw it like a Frisbee (and the ensuing tantrum hehe). And if they get to the point where the files are no longer DRM'ed I would definitely consider it because of the time saved in converting and cheap HD upgrade (there have been very few movies I've spent the extra money on to get the Blu-ray version whereas I'm less selective about cheaper DVD purchases).

Source: Walmart

Nobody likes NVIDIA, even Apple won't play with them

Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2012 - 12:15 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, nvidia, macbook, kelper, Ivy Bridge, fermi, apple

NVIDIA has been having a rough life lately with problems besetting them on all sides.  Their IGP business has been disembowelled by AMD's Llano and even Intel is now offering usable graphics with the HD3000 on higher end Sandy Bridge chips.   The console makers seem to have decided on AMD as the provider of choice for the next generation of products which locks NVIDIA out of that market for years to come, as console generations tend to last significantly longer than PC components.  The delays at TSMC have enabled AMD to launch three families of next generation GPU without NVIDIA being able to respond, which not only hurts NVIDIA's bottom line but lets AMD set their own pricing until NVIDIA can finally release Kepler, at a price that will not be wholly of their choosing. 

Now according to SemiAccurate they are losing a goodly portion of Apple's MacBook business as well.  The supply issues which will be the result of the fabrication problems were likely a big factor in Apple's decision to trim back GPU orders but there is also the fact that the low to mid range GPU could well be going extinct.  With the power of the forthcoming Intel HD4000 and AMD's Trinity line of APUs it will become hard for laptop and system makers to justify putting in a discrete GPU since they will have to choose relatively expensive parts to have the discrete GPU contribute to performance. That leaves NVIDIA only providing GPUs for high end MacBooks, a much less lucrative market than the mid range.  Don't even mention the previous issue of overheating GPUs.

ENGAD_macbookproboom.jpg

"That is exactly what SemiAccurate moles are telling us is going on. Nvidia can’t supply, so Apple threw them out on their proverbial magical experience. This doesn’t mean that Nvidia is completely out at Apple, the Intel GPUs are too awful to satisfy the higher end laptops, so there will need to be something in those. What that something is, we don’t definitively know yet, but the possibilities are vanishingly small."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: SemiAccurate