Podcast #165 - QuakeCon 2011, MSI's GTX580 Lightning, Intel 710 SSDs, Ultrabooks and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 11, 2011 - 06:27 PM |
Tagged: podcast, pcper, nvidia, msi, Intel, GTX580, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #165 - 8/11/2011

This week we talk about QuakeCon 2011, MSI's GTX580 Lightning, Intel 710 SSDs, Ultrabooks 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!

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

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:25:12

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:27 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. 0:02:02 Quakecon 2011 and our Workshop - Postmortem
    1. Day 1 Coverage
    2. Day 2 Coverage
    3. Day 3 Coverage
  6. 0:18:05 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  7. 0:18:54 MSI N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition Review: What a GTX 580 Should Be
  8. 0:30:18 Antec High Current Gamer HCG-750 PSU Review
  9. 0:31:30 Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Review - The Best Android Tablet?
  10. 0:32:16 Just Delivered Exclusive: PNY XLR8 Liquid Cooled GTX 580 Combo
    1. ZOTAC Unveils Water-Cooling Solutions
  11. 0:36:40 Let us do some math, shall we? The cost of consoles
  12. 0:41:46 Intel 710 SSD Prices Leaked
  13. 0:47:40 ExpressCard trying to pull a (not so) fast one?
  14. 0:55:30 NVIDIA Outlines Multi-GPU and Cloud Graphics With Project Maximus and Virtual Graphics Technologies
  15. 1:06:50 Will Intel's Ultrabook form factor come with an integral Achilles Heel?
    1. Intel bets $300m on their Ultrabook-ie. Next step: broken legs.
  16. 1:09:15 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Blackmagic Intensity card 
    2. Jeremy: Strangely, I find myself thinking kindly upon BigFoot Networks
    3. Josh: http://www.faststone.org/FSResizerDetail.htm
    4. Allyn: http://pastebin.com and Ghostery
  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. 1:23:50 Closing

Eculideon's unlimited fiddly bits

Subject: General Tech | August 11, 2011 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: infinite graphics, euclideon, particle cloud

If you have yet to stumble upon the YouTube video which began the debate, you should book 10 minutes to sit and watch the demonstration and explanation to make sure you understand what Euclideon's unlimited graphics are about.   The Aussie company Euclideon have developed a way to translate polygon based 3D objects, the most common method used in games since sprites, into a cloud of particles which define the volume and surface of the object.  They currently claim 64 'atoms' per mm3, which has a very significant impact on the quality of the rendered object.  Previous to their project, these point clouds were only used for medical imaging and other professional applications due to the serious hardware requirements to render more than just a handful of objects.  Euclideon seems to have managed a way to sidestep the hardware problems and have made it possible for point clouds to be rendered without needing a Fermi farm in your house.  Even better they claim they have working translation software which can take objects created in common polygon based 3D design programs like Maya and transform them into point cloud objects.

If you think this sounds too good to be true, you are not alone in your doubt.  Before make the horrible mistake of using the YouTube comments to inform your decision, head to [H]ard|OCP.  They have posted an interview they conducted with Euclideon on their new rendering software, which will teach you a lot more than the semi-coherent statements under the YouTube video.  It is almost a full hour long, so get comfortable before you start.


"Euclideon has come under fire for its Unlimited Detail Technology claims once again. Instead of sitting around discussing it among ourselves, we sent John Gatt to Brisbane, Australia to talk to the man himself with Euclideon, Bruce Dell. We show you the demo running in real time with hardware specs and answer a lot of questions, all in video."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Intel bets $300m on their Ultrabook-ie. Next step: broken leg

Subject: General Tech, Systems | August 11, 2011 - 02:23 AM |
Tagged: ultrabook, Intel

Intel has this little platform that they are attempting to push against the world known as the Ultrabook, a category of ultra-thin and light laptops that range 11-inch to 17-inch screens with high performance and high price. The actual cost of an Ultrabook is somewhat hotly debated between Intel and others. On the Intel side of the fence, the claim for the cost of parts in an Ultrabook range between $475 and $710; this bill of materials comes days after manufacturers discussed component costs around the $1000 mark. To further push the Ultrabook platform, Intel just released a statement announcing a $300 million fund to invest in technologies that further the Ultrabook platform.


Is Intel getting themselves into a jackpot?

Intel described their intents with the fund in this snippet from their press release:

Ultrabooks will deliver a highly responsive and secure experience in a thin, light and elegant design and at mainstream prices. To help realize that vision, the Intel Capital Ultrabook Fund aims to invest in companies building hardware and software technologies focused on enhancing how people interact with Ultrabooks such as through sensors and touch, achieving all day usage through longer battery life, enabling innovative physical designs and improved storage capacity. The overall goal of the fund, which will be invested over the next 3-4 years, is to create a cycle of innovation and system capabilities for this new and growing category of mobile devices.

It looks as though Intel is putting their money where their mouth is. While $300 million is not exactly huge in the scale of Intel revenue it is a substantial sum and equal (less inflation) to what they used to back Centrino over eight years ago. While their last investment went to subsidizing wireless access points, marketing, and similar programs this investment should be mostly focused on the technology itself -- both hardware and software -- with battery, input, and interface specifically mentioned. Part of me muses about Meego in terms of the Ultrabook platform potentially even as a supplement to Windows. We shall see what Intel has in store for the platform that could, and bludgeoned forward with heaps of raw cash when it could not.

Read on for the press release in full.

Soldner is free, find out if it is a game too ambitious to be or a really well done troll

Subject: General Tech | August 10, 2011 - 07:02 PM |
Tagged: gaming, soldner, free

Söldner (Marine Corps) Community Edition is now free (as in beer) and you really should pick it up as it is well worth the price.  If memory serves it was originally a buggy game that reached for the sky without paying attention to their footing, it is now an even buggier game with extra vehicles and features.   At one point the game would handle 100 people playing, 50 to a team, which was even more confusing than you think.  Terrain could be destroyed, though with some intersting clipping issues you could also discover small hills and other terrain that would kill you for touching it ... they were definately not lava.  Hit the link at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN and try it for yourself.


"Oh my goodness, I have no idea how this news has taken five days to reach me, but by golly thank goodness it finally has. Söldner, one of the most buggy and hilarious games of all time, is now completely free! Get it. Get it NOW."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:


BigFoot Networks may have found their Killer app

Subject: General Tech | August 10, 2011 - 06:38 PM |
Tagged: killer nic, bigfoot, wireless, Killer-N 1102

The KillerNIC has had an odd relationship with the PC world, with most reviewers initial impression being that of a solution in search of a problem.  In some cases when a person wanted to get fancy with downloading torrents, especially when they were gaming online at the same time, the initial product did offer some advantages.  From there it found its self integrated onto some high end motherboards, offering more features than a regular gigabit NIC but again offering limited benefits.

New to the market is the Bigfoot Killer-N 1102 Wireless N device, integrated into some new laptops.  AnandTech had a chance to try it out; once they could determine a way to review a wireless device.  Finally it seems that BigFoot managed to knock one out of the park, the performance was significantly better than what is offered by the current generic wireless NICs present in most laptops.  Check out why it is such an improvement in their full review.


"With that out of the way, let’s discuss what Bigfoot brings to the table, specifically with their Killer 1102 part. Note that there is a faster Killer 1103 part now shipping with 3x3:3 MIMO support; we will try to get a sample for future testing, but for now we’ll confine our benchmarks to the 1102. The core hardware actually comes from a well-known wireless networking company, Atheros. The 1102 uses the AR9382 wireless chipset, but Bigfoot has added their own “special sauce” to improve performance."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: AnandTech

AMD will be snubbing the smartphone

Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2011 - 07:30 PM |
Tagged: amd, tablet, smartphones, trinity

In a revent interview, AMD's SVP and GM, Rick Bergman restated that AMD has no current plans in the works to jump to the handheld market.  They will continue to focus on their current product lines and that the only ultramobile development currently underway is for tablets.  That could help them get a leg up on Intel's Atom, as Intel is definitely making a move for the hand held market.  Focusing on tablets gives them a less strict power limitation and may just give them a boost as they push to the 28nm process with only one ultra low power Trinity APU product line to design.  Check out The Inquirer for more.


"CHIP DESIGNER AMD has ruled out making a move in the smartphone market, preferring to concentrate on tablets.

Rick Bergman, SVP and GM of AMD's products group told a conference that the chip designer has no plans to get into the smartphone market, saying that its expertise in graphics does not suit that market. Instead it will be up to AMD's Z-series embedded chip to push X86 into the tablet market."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Nearly Half of Organizations Have Lost Sensitive or Confidential Information on USB Drives in Just the Past Two Years

Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2011 - 05:27 PM |
Tagged: security, fud

The next time your boss complains when you suggest that picking up secure USB sticks because of the price, you might want to reference this report from Kingston which details several horror stories of what happens with a lax policy towards portable storage.  We have seen Stuxnet recently, as well there is a long list of tricks that can be played with USB devices with the U3 autorun present on many USB devices. 

This goes far beyond just a complaint about using USB sticks received for free at trade shows or picked up on discount from Costco, the report cites an instance where unmarked USB sticks were left in obvious spots in government parking lots and over half of them ended up being plugged into the wok PC of the person who found it.   Maybe now spending a little extra on secure USB sticks will seem a little more attractive to the beancounters.


Fountain Valley, CA -- August 9, 2011 -- Kingston Digital, Inc., the Flash memory affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, Inc., the independent world leader in memory products, today announced the results of a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute looking at USB prevalence and risk in organizations. The study found that inexpensive consumer USB Flash drives are ubiquitous in all manner of enterprise and government environments ― typically with very little oversight or controls, even in the face of frequent and high profile incidents of sensitive data loss. The Ponemon Institute is an independent group that conducts studies on critical issues affecting the management and security of sensitive information about people and organizations.

The study underscores the pressing need for organizations to adopt more secure USB products and policies. A group of 743 IT professionals and IT security practitioners from global companies based in the United States were polled, and all acknowledged the importance of USB drives from a productivity standpoint. They cautioned, however, about the lack of organizational focus regarding security for these tools to meet appropriate data protection and business objectives.

The most recent example of how easily rogue USB drives can enter an organization can be seen in a U.S. Department of Homeland Security test in which USBs were ‘accidentally’ dropped in government parking lots. Without any identifying markings on the USB stick, 60 percent of employees plugged the drives into government computers. With a ‘valid’ government seal, the plug-in rate reached 90 percent.

According to the Ponemon study, more than 40 percent of organizations surveyed report having more than 50,000 USB drives in use in their organizations, with nearly 20 percent having more than 100,000 drives in circulation. The study finds that a whopping 71 percent of respondents do not consider the protection of confidential and sensitive information on USB Flash drives to be a high priority. At the same time, the majority of these same respondents feel that data breaches are caused by missing USB drives.

The Ponemon study concluded that a staggering 12,000 customer, consumer and employee records were believed to be lost on average by these same companies as a result of missing USBs. According to a previously released Ponemon report, the average cost of a data breach is $214 per record, making the potential average total cost of lost records to the organizations surveyed for the Ponemon USB Flash drive study, reach upwards of $2.5 million (USD). Other key findings in the report include:

Evidence of widespread compromise is apparent:

  • Nearly 50 percent of organizations confirmed lost drives containing sensitive or confidential information in the past 24 months.
  • The majority of those organizations (67 percent) confirmed that they had multiple loss events – in some cases, more than 10 separate events.

Oversight and control of USBs in enterprises can be better:

  • Free USB sticks from conferences/trade shows, business meetings and similar events are used by 72 percent of employees ― even in organizations that mandate the use of secure USBs.
  • In terms of policies and controls, of the hundreds of IT professionals and IT security professionals polled, only 29 percent felt that their organizations had adequate policies to prevent USB misuse.

“An unsecured USB drive can open the door for major data loss incidents,” said Larry Ponemon, Chairman and Founder of the Ponemon Institute. “Organizations watch very carefully, and put a plethora of controls around, what enters their businesses from cyberspace. This study drives home the point that they must also take a more aggressive stance on addressing the risks that exist in virtually every employee’s pocket.”

“Kingston believes a lack of oversight, education and corporate confusion are factors that lead to the overwhelming majority of data loss when it comes to USB Flash drives,” said John Terpening, Secure USB business manager, Kingston. “Organizations fear that any attempt to control a device like a USB is likely to be futile and costly, both in terms of budget and loss of productivity. However, a simple analysis of what an organization needs and the knowledge that there is a range of easy-to-use, cost-effective, secure USB Flash drive solutions can go a long way toward enabling organizations and their employees to get a handle on the issue.”

The full report can be downloaded from the Kingston Web site.

Source: Kingston

Who needs a Kinect when you have Razer's Hydra

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2011 - 08:13 PM |
Tagged: input, kinect, razer hydra

 The Razer Hydra bears a small resemblance to the Wii controller at first glance but that is quickly dispelled when you realize you get two devices to hold.  Both have 4 face buttons, a 'start' button, a clickable analog stick and two bumper triggers, which give you enough input options for PC gaming.  The wired base station these controllers use senses the small magnetic field the controllers emit, which is how the motion sensing capabilities work.  That field was not enough to disturb any of tbreak's other equipment which is vital to the success of the controller.  As for gaming?  With Portal 2 they had a blast, but when it came to other shooters ... not so much.


"The Hydra is not spectacularly different, it uses the same nun-chuck approach of the Wii, however it’s technology and precision far outclasses Nintendo’s toy. According to Razer, the Hydra uses magnetic forces to detect the exact location and orientation of the controllers and delivers an “ultra-low latency”, “fluid and precise” gaming experience."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: tbreak

A quick guide to SSL and what its major maladjustment is

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2011 - 05:48 PM |
Tagged: SSL, black hat 2011, CA, Comodo

While the boys were having fun at an event in Texas, TechwareLabs were at a show of a completely different colour.  Black Hat 2011, the yearly computer security convention was also taking place in Las Vegas, bringing to light the discoveries of the past year when it comes to vulnerabilities and how to protect yourself against them.  One of the topics for discussion was how the Secure Socket Layer works, by assuming that a Trusted Authority is behind a security certificate which requires them to provide a secure connection between yourself and their servers.  Over the past year we saw a hack at Comodo, who are a major Certificate Authority, which lead to nefarious people getting their hands on certificates assigned to Microsoft, Yahoo and Google, which allowed them to easily fool even a computer using SSL. 

Taking that as an example of the failure of the idea of single, large CAs as the way to implement SSL.  If you were to no longer trust Comodo and its certificates then about 1/4 of the secure sites on the net would never allow you to connect.  Instead a programmer detailed a FireFox extension called Convergence as an alternative.  This distributed way of dealing with Certificate authentication would allow you to switch between trusting and untrusting certain CAs without damaging your ability to connect to secure sites on the web.


"This interesting presentation concerns a security protocol that you probably use everyday. It is in your browser, on the server you connect to, and bought together by a “Certificate Authority”. The idea behind SSL is to provide a secure connection between you, the client browser, and the server providing the sensitive data to you. For instance a Bank website is designed to provide the client with convenient access to account details, transactions, etc. But there is a major issue with a pivotal player in this process. The Certificate Authority or CA is charged with certifying the organizations to which it provides certificates. The CA is supposed to be a trustworthy entity working on behalf of us, the end users, to ensure that any organization it issues a certificate to is credible and trustworthy. After all many users depend on the CA’s, SSL protocol, and issued certificates to enforce authentication and integrity in the online space. You have little choice but to trust the CAs and expect them to provide a high quality level of authentication services."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Let us do some math, shall we? The cost of consoles

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 7, 2011 - 08:11 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, consoles

There is a lot of discussion over how expensive the PC is compared to the consoles. I have heard from a number of former PC gamers who switched to the console to escape the large cost of ownership. I have also heard from a number of console gamers who claim that they cannot afford a three-thousand dollar gaming behemoth to just launch the typical PC game. Suffices to say, my head has exploded more times than causality allows for.


Is your PC bleeding gushes of money?

Let us clarify something straight out of the gate before tl;dr kicks in: the true cost of a console is not the price you pay for the box itself. For proof, look at Sony: the cost of the $499 PS3 at launch was $805.85 according to CNET. That means that for each PS3 they sold they lost $306.85. You may think, “Pfft, that’s fine. They’ll make it up later.” Nope, it was mid-2010 before Sony made any money on each PS3 sales. They were bleeding for 3 years.

So where does Sony and Microsoft make their money? Firstly, Microsoft has that cash-cow Xbox Live that they have been milking for a substantial time now. You may consider $60 per year to be chump change however after 4 years that tallies up to 240$. I want you to consider the following: Xbox Live every 4 years, or a Radeon HD 6950 (Bundled with Dirt 3) for four years without paying a cent more? (Actually, okay -- you pay 3 cents more at $59.99-per-month{{edit: year, typo}}). It is also pretty much given that not only will your games look better than on a 360 by a long shot, you will also still be able to physically play games in four years’ time. You might be turning the quality settings to medium or low near the end of your card’s life cycle, but hey: at least you have the option for quality settings. Also, just because a console claims to run a game at a specific resolution does not mean it actually is. For instance, most Call of Duty games on the consoles are actually rendered at approximately 600p but are up-scaled to their listed resolutions.  To claim an upscaled 600p is 1080p would be like claiming a DVD upscaled is the same thing as a BluRay.

And this leads to our next point: You can buy a three-thousand dollar computer. You can also buy a Porsche. You do not need a Porsche to drive to work, but there are some distinct advantages to owning one that make it viable for a portion of the market. The rest of us can be perfectly happy driving to work with a Hyundai or a Chevy. Besides, it’s cheaper than paying a taxi. For good examples of cost efficient PCs, check out our constantly updated Hardware Leaderboard. Technically a license of Windows is not included, which is the one kink in PC gaming openness. Ideally we would be all running Linux or a similarly licensed OS not just for cost but also for longevity. Videogames will struggle as timeless art so long as the platforms they run on are not timeless. Unfortunately even in the PC gaming sphere there is no guarantee that the platform will just be torn out from under your dependent art. But, at least the PC platform is not designed to be disposable like the consoles. It is the lesser of two evils, and baby-steps to an ideal future.


A moment of silence for your wallet.

So how much money are we talking about? I personally summed up how much I spent on the first Xbox in $10 per game license fees and $60 per year Xbox Live fees which came to $520 excluding the cost of the system itself and accessories which need to be replaced each generation for no sensible reason. Keep in mind; I was not a very extreme gamer purchasing only five games per year on average. Had I been PC exclusive, however, that would have been $500-some-odd dollars over the price of the system and accessories itself that I would not have needed to pay. The truth of the matter is over the long run you pay more to be a console gamer than a PC gamer unless you physically choose to pay more for your PC. Also, do not forget: due to the existence of proprietary platforms, if you own multiple systems because your games are only available on one or another, you are even further worse off.

There will be a follow-up article to this in the near future discussing what you are paying for with consoles – spoiler: it is, in general, not desirable.