Micron beats JEDEC to DDR4

Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2012 - 02:13 PM |
Tagged: ddr4, jedec, micron

If you are not familiar with JEDEC you might not realize why they are constantly referred to when news breaks about a new technology; if that is the case you should aquaint yourself with them.  The standard for DDR4 is almost finalized with the specific changes being that the DIMM's VDDQ must remain constant at1.2V with plans to reduce VDD and speeds of 1.6 giga transfers per second to an initial objective of 3.2 giga transfers per second.  This seems low considering DDR3-2400 can hit 2.4GT/s so when it arrives we may see speeds cross over like DDR2 did when we saw DDR3 first come onto the stage.

Micron has fabbed 30nm DDR4 chips, both DIMM and SODIMM varieties which operate at the lower voltage.  The initial speed of 4Gbit/s that The Inquirer reports on may seem conservative but for this initial run we are only looking for a proof of concept which can be refined.  Micron expects to see production swing into gear by the end of 2012 but they may not have many customers as neither AMD nor Intel have DDR4 support scheduled by that time.

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"Although JEDEC has yet to finalise the DDR4 specification, Nanya and Micron have been forging ahead designing and now fabricating 30nm 4Gbit DDR4 chips that will be part of the two firms' DDR4 product range that will include registered and low-voltage registered DIMMs and SODIMMs. According to Micron, it is already sampling DDR4 modules and expects its customers to support quick implementation in 2013."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Microsoft Xbox 360 and Kinect Bundle for $99 On Contract

Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2012 - 02:58 AM |
Tagged: xbox 360, microsoft, gaming, console

The Xbox 360 has now been available in some form for almost seven years and has sold approximately 67.2 million units. Consumers are able to get the updated Xbox 360 4GB model for $199 USD at many retailers along with the Kinect add-on for $99. If that price still seems too steep, Microsoft has started to offer a subsidized Xbox 360 and Kinect bundle for those users lucky enough to live close to a physical Microsoft Store. There are currently 17 stores in a number of US states, with four more listed as "coming soon."

Xbox360SwithKinect.jpg

Microsoft is offering a two year contract of Xbox Live Gold for $14.99 a month. As a promotion for signing the contract, the company will sell a 4GB Xbox 360 S and Microsoft Kinect add-on for $99 USD. In total, the system will cost $458.76 plus applicable taxes–$359.76 for the monthly contract and $99 for the hardware. Interestingly, the subsidized cost ends up being more expensive than buying it outright. In under five minutes of searching around Amazon, I found 2 1 year subscriptions to Xbox Live Gold and an Xbox 360 S 4GB and Kinect hardware bundle for $380.20.

Xbox360Promo.jpg

That isn’t surprising but is still interesting that the subsidized model with contract does end up being more expensive. If you can’t afford the upfront cost the subscription may be worth it, especially with the Xbox Next not coming this year. Buying the hardware outright is going to cost less but considering the Xbox is rather dated at this point, paying $99 for the hardware–with the Xbox Live Gold contract not being locked to that one console– may be a better deal should the next Xbox be released within that two year window then buying both consoles outright. At least then, you can apply the contract towards the new console and not be out as much money on the original hardware. In the end, it is a nice alternative method for getting the console and Kinect hardware.

On the other hand, for the price of a subsidized Xbox 360, you could buy a shiny new GTX 670 for a gaming pc (hehe).

Source: Microsoft

Win a Netgear R6300 802.11ac router!!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 8, 2012 - 12:39 AM |
Tagged: netgear, giveaway, contest, broadcom, 802.11ac

Broadcom and Netgear came to PC Perspective recently to discuss some upcoming products based on the new 802.11ac protocol, a new technology that will enable a minimum of 1 Gigabit wireless networking in the 5 GHz spectrum.  

While we are learning about the new products that the two companies are partnering on, they offered up a few prizes for our readers: one of three new Netgear R6300 dual-band, 802.11ac routers!!

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While not on the market yet, these routers will offer some impressive new features including:

The NETGEAR R6300 WiFi Router delivers next generation WiFi at Gigabit speeds. It offers the ultimate mobility for WiFi devices with speeds up to 3x faster than 802.11n.

Compatible with next generation WiFi devices and backward compatible with 802.11 a/b/g and n devices, it enables HD streaming throughout your home. The R6300 with simultaneous dual band WiFi technology offers speeds up to 450+1300‡ Mbps† and avoids interference, ensuring top WiFi speeds and reliable connections. This makes it ideal for larger homes with multiple devices. In addition, four Gigabit Ethernet ports offer ultra-fast wired connections. Wirelessly access and share USB hard drive and USB printer using the two USB 2.0 ports.

The NETGEAR Genie® app provides easy installation from an iPad®, tablet, computer or smartphone. It includes a personal dashboard, allowing you to manage, monitor, and repair your home network. NETGEAR customers can download the app at http://www.netgear.com/genie or from the Google Play or App Store.

All you have to do to enter this contest is submit your answer the question below and be sure to include your REAL email address so we can contact you!!  The survey will run through the rest of this week (May 11th) and you can enter from all over the world!  They had one simple question:

What is the most important factor in determining what type of WiFi technology you use at home?

Email:

What is your email address?

Windows Media Center To Be A Pro Only Feature In Windows 8

Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2012 - 06:01 PM |
Tagged: windows media center, Windows 8 Pro, windows 8, upgrade, htpc

News is circulating around the Internet that Microsoft is taking Windows Media Center out of Windows 8 and offering it as a separate paid add-on for Windows 8 Pro users. Many are not happy about the decision.

Windows Media Center is an application developed by Microsoft that provides a TV friendly interface for all the media on your computers including photos, videos, music, and television. That last function is quite possibly the biggest feature of WMC as it allows users to ditch their cable set top box (STB) and turn their computer into a TV tuner and DVR with the proper hardware.

Windows8MediaCenter.jpg

Windows 8 Metro With Media Center Icon

The program debuted as a special edition of Windows called Windows XP Media Center Edition. It was then rolled into the general release of Windows Vista and then into many editions of Windows 7. Windows Media Center has a relatively small user base relative to the number of general Windows users, but they are a vocal and enthusiastic minority. About a month ago, I got a CableCard from Comcast (after a week of... well, let’s just say it’s not a pleasant experience) and after pairing it with the HDHomeRun Prime and my Windows 7 machines, i was able to watch and record TV on any of the computers in my house as well as on the living room TV via an Xbox 360 acting as a Windows Media Center extender. I have to say that the setup is really solid, I have all the expandable DVR space I could want, and the WMC interface is so much snappier than any cable or satellite set top box I’ve ever used. Windows 7 became that much more valuable once I was able to utilize Windows Media Center.

With that said, it is still a niche feature and I understand that not everyone needs or wants to use it. It is even a feature that I would pay for should Microsoft unbundle it. Yet, when I read a bit of news concerning Windows 8 and WMC over the weekend, I was not happy at all. According to an article at Tested.com, Microsoft is going to unbundle Windows Media Center for Windows 8 into a separate downloadable Media Center pack with a currently unknown price (so far, I’m disappointed but still willing to accept it). The Media Center pack will be made available for purchase and download using the “Add Features To Windows 8” control panel option–what was known as Windows Anytime Upgrade in previous versions of Windows.

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Windows Media Center in Windows 7 - TV Guide

What is confusing (and what I find infuriating) is that users will only be able to purchase the Media Center pack if they are using the Pro version of Windows 8, leaving home users out of luck. Due to Windows 8 Pro essentially being the Ultimate Edition of previous Windows versions, it is definitely going to cost more than the base version, and that is rather disconcerting. I have no problem paying for the Media Center pack, but I do have a problem with Microsoft artificially limiting who has the right to purchase it to begin with. It just seems downright greedy of them and is a big disservice to Media Center’s faithful users. Microsoft should go with one method or the other, not both. For example, they should unbundle Media Center, and allow users of any desktop (not RT, in other words) Windows 8 version to purchase it. Alternatively, if they are going to limit Media Center to be a Pro version only feature, it should be a free download. Users should not have to pay for the privilege to pay for the software, especially when Microsoft has said that Windows 8 Media Center will not be very different from the one in Windows 7 and will only contain minor improvements.

Rick Broida of PC World has been a bit more straightforward in stating his opinion of Microsoft’s decision in saying “I’m hopping mad.” And I tend to agree with his sentiments, except for WMC needing to be free. I’d be happy to pay for it if it means Microsoft continues to support it. I just have an issue with the pricing situation that the news of the decision is suggesting. To be fair, Microsoft has not yet released final pricing information, so it may not be as bad as I’m thinking. Even so, the news that they are making WMC a paid add on and are limiting it to Windows 8 Pro only leaves a rather bad aftertaste. Mr. Broida encourages HTPC users to not upgrade, and to stick with Windows 7. I don’t think I’m at that point yet (though I get where he’s coming from), but I will say that Windows 8 was a tough sell before I heard this news, and the WMC news isn’t helping. I can only hope that Microsoft will reconsider and, dare I say it, do the right thing for their users here.

Source: Tested

Diablo III Beta Benchmarks

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 7, 2012 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, diablo iii

Tom’s Hardware took a look at the recent beta of Diablo III and published benchmarks of its performance across multiple profiles. They have found that, for minimum quality settings, a GeForce GT 440 or Radeon 6670 will be very smooth at lower resolutions and even handle 1080p. Maximum quality settings do not lower framerate by all that much even with antialiasing enabled.

Blizzard works on their own personal time zone centered on their offices. It seems quite nebulous to most but apparently 12 years somehow signifies the end of a release cycle. The last couple of years have seen a flurry of releases for the company with two of their three major franchises seeing update twelve year after their last installment.

The latter of those two franchises is Diablo and Diablo III is set to launch in just over a week. If you wonder how your machine will handle the game, and you missed the open beta a little over a week ago, Tom’s Hardware did not miss it and has put it up against several of their test systems.

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Not quite a demonic presence on your hardware…

Oddly enough, raising your specifications from minimum to high with antialiasing will only drop your framerate by approximately 20-21% at 1920x1080 resolutions. It is possible that when the full game is released that the highest quality settings could have features enabled which increases that difference slightly.

The other possibility is that the game quality settings are quite CPU-bound. Unfortunately Tom’s Hardware did not test various CPUs between low and highest to see how they scale.

If that is not the case, however, the addition of quality settings seems more about allowing the user to personalize their experience rather than supporting lesser hardware. This could be one of the rare occasions where a mild overclock has a functional use.

For those wishing to see how the game will work on mobile parts, you will likely need to wait just a little longer. The benchmark focuses on desktop components. If your PC has a minimum of a GT440 or a Radeon 6670 then you should not be concerned in the slightest about Diablo III even if you output to a 1080p TV or monitor.

Also, if you are running AMD cards -- be sure to check out our recent article about what to do with  the 12.4 drivers. Diablo III likes some cards on it, but not others. How about your's?

Diablo III is scheduled to be released May 15th.

Creative's new SoundCore3D chipset and Recon3D line analyzed

Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2012 - 01:05 PM |
Tagged: audio, Creative, Sound Blaster Recon3D Fatal1ty, SoundCore3D

The newest flagship card from Creative is the Fatal1ty branded Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe 1x card, which is the first to feature their new SoundCore3D chipset which brings 192kHz sampling rates at 24-bit to SoundBlaster.  It comes with a microphone and like many of the high end cards on the market comes with a front panel which adds RCA stereo inputs jacks, DSP mode selection buttons, and analog volume and recording level knobs which can be pushed in flush with the face of the panel to both lock them and allow you to close the door on your case.  [H]ard|OCP tried out Rightmark Audio Analyzer as well as their own ears to try to gauge the quality of sound produced by this new SoundBlaster series, which you can read about right here.

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"Creative's latest Sound Blaster flagship sound card features its new SoundCore3D chipset along with a powerful headphone amplifier, a beam forming microphone, and the return of the company's popular front panel audio I/O bay. Is this card a worthy successor to its Audigy and X-Fi brethren?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Intel wants to be the colloidal silver lining in the cloud

Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2012 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: Intel, mcafee, cloud

It really has been almost a year and a half since Intel bought McAfee and we started speculating on what this would mean.  It was a common hypothesis that Intel wanted to leverage the Trusted Execution Technology that exists in Xeon processors as well as a belief that there would be instruction sets in the Core architecture that could be used to make your machine more secure without sacrificing performance.  That theory has proven true as Jason Waxman who is in charge of Intel's Cloud initiative spoke about the current and planned implementations of their hardware assisted antivirus.  A new tool called McAfee Management for Optimized Virtual Environments AntiVirus will handle scans and updates for the server and service side and new additions to McAfee's ePO agent which expand its ability to secure networks and servers.  The Register put together a generalized look at what we know so far and while we are still hoping to see more specifics from Intel soon it is certainly more interesting than the other McAfee story currently circulating.

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"Jason Waxman, general manager of Intel's Cloud Infrastructure Group, said that over the last year or so he'd been inundated with questions about what Intel was going to do with McAfee since it lashed out $7.68bn for the security firm, during an industry-wide buying spree on cyber-security companies. Chipzilla's been intentionally quiet on the subject, but was now ready to talk he said."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Steam Allows Remote Installation of Games

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2012 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam, gaming pc, gaming, games

Valve recently released a beta update for its Steam client that allows users to remotely install games to their local machine using the steampowered.com website.

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After installing the beta update to the local Steam client (Steam > Settings > Beta Participation), just leave the client logged in on your machine. Then navigate to Community page of the Steam website. After that, click on the Games category where the website will then list all the games tied to your Steam account. If you have a game you want to download and install while you are away, just hit the install button to the right of the game’s name.

This is certainly an interesting feature for some, especially if you happen to be on vacation during a Steam Holiday Sale! (hehe). More details on the process can be found here. Is this a feature you’ll be using?

Source: Valve

Corsair Launches Air Series of High Airflow and High Static Pressure Fans

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2012 - 01:09 PM |
Tagged: static pressure, high airflow, fans, corsair, air series

Corsair announced earlier this week that the company is expanding their cooling options to include PC case fans with their new Air Series. They have been bundling fans with their self-contained water cooling units since their release, but they have been rebranded fans from other manufacturers. With the Air Series, Corsair has designed the fans in-house and then had partners capable of building the units actually manufacture them. The fans in the Air Series have been designed to balance airflow and quiet operation for enthusiasts that want cooling performance with consideration towards noise.

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Corsair AF140 Quiet Edition

Currently Corsair is offering 120mm and 140mm fans which focus on either high static pressure or high airflow. They feature a hydraulic bearing system, rubber case mounting points, and a variety of colors to choose from including red, blue, and white colored rings around the fan blades.

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Corsair SP120 Quiet Edition

The fans with AF in the model name are part of the high airflow subset and are geared towards moving as much air as possible through your case. There are two 120mm and one 140mm fan for sale at the time of writing. Corsair has designed the fans with thin custom molded blades for a fan that moves lots of air and can be installed in spaces as small as 3cm in depth.

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Corsair SP120 High Performance Edition

Alternatively, Corsair is offering fans that deliver a high static pressure, which makes them ideal for pairing with watercooling radiators and air cooling heatsinks. These fans have “SP” in the model name, and are currently limited to two 120mm fans. The high static pressure is achieved by using seven wide blades and a custom molded enclosure.

The following chart from Corsair details the currently available Corsair fans.

Edition Description Size (mm) Noise (dBA) Airflow (CFM) RPM Static Pressure (mmH20)
AF120 Quiet Low noise, good airflow 120x25 21 39.88 1100 not measured  
AF120 Performance High airflow 120x25 30 63.47 1650 not measured  
AF140 Quiet Low noise, high airflow 140x25 24 67.8 1150 not measured
SP120 Quiet Low noise, High pressure 120x25 23 37.85 1450 1.29
SP120 High Performance High pressure 120x25 35 62.74 2350 3.1

 

Ruben Mookerjee, VP and General Manager of the Components Business Unit at Corsair stated that "Many PC fans on the market are general purpose designs that not always suited to the task which they're assigned. We took our expertise in PC case and cooling and designed fans that have very specific uses. Each fan is the right tool for the right job."

The new Corsair Air Series fans are on sale now and carry an MSRP of $16.99 USD for the AF120/SP120 (120mm high airflow and static pressure) fans and $18.99 USD for the 140mm AF 140 fans. More information on the Corsair fans can be found here.

Source: Corsair

Ready for Diablo III? Not with Catalyst 12.4 you're not.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 6, 2012 - 12:58 PM |
Tagged: radeon, diablo iii, catalyst 12.4, catalyst, amd

A recent forum entry from a Diablo III official agent informed gamers that if you were planning on playing Diablo III on the May 15th launch date, you had better not be using the Catalyst 12.4 drivers that were just released on April 25th.

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While AMD still has about 9 days to respond to this issue, for a support rep from Blizzard to flat-out say that "12.4 isn't going to be supported for use in Diablo III" is indicative of a larger problem - can AMD's somewhat smaller driver team hope to keep up with NVIDIA's as we get set for another way of pretty major PC game releases? 

Quite a few users are taking up for AMD in the thread including Mortac that says:

I find this to be a very confusing answer. What are we to expect for the future? You say that Diablo III won't support 12.4, but what exactly do you mean by that? Are we to expect support for future drivers down the road, say a few weeks after release, or are you telling us that we'll never be able to update our drivers again for as long as we intend to play Diablo III? If the latter, then you guys really need to think that through again. People update their drivers for several reasons, and you cannot possibly expect everyone to swap drivers every time they play other games that might require the latest version.

How this issue will be resolved before May 15th will be of importance to quite a few PC gamers so let's hope both AMD and Blizzard can get their acts together.

Besides Blizzard's long awaited Diablo entry, PC gamers can look forward to Guild Wars 2, DiRT Showdown, Max Payne 3, a new Ghost Recon title, BF3: Close Quarters, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Far Cry 3, Borderlands 2, Bioshock Infinite and many more in the coming months.  

UPDATE 2:22pm: An AMD representative has informed us that that bug referred to by the Blizzard forum support person in fact ONLY affects Radeon HD 2000, 3000 and 4000 users.  The 12.4 Catalyst software will work fine with 5000, 6000 and the new 7000 series of graphics cards apparently.  

Also, as Robert Hallock commented in our thread below:

d3cat12.4part2.png

Source: Battle.net