Raven Ridge rumours

Subject: General Tech | September 18, 2017 - 04:17 PM |
Tagged: amd, raven ridge, Bristol Ridge, Ryzen 5 2500U, Zen, Vega, 14nm

If the rumours are true, the new 14nm Raven Ridge based AMD Ryzen 5 2500U will offer an impressive jump in performance compared to AMD's current generation of APUs.  The Inquirer's source suggests the new APU will offer a 50% jump in single threaded performance and an impressive 90% advantage on multi-threaded performance.  The multithreaded performance improvement may be the headline but seeing a huge increase in single threaded applications, AMD's recent Achilles Heel, shows some interesting improvements to Zen.  This will also mark the arrival of their first APU with Vega onboard, so you can expect better graphics performance as well.  The benchmark numbers and links are here.

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"LEAKED BENCHMARKS for AMD's forthcoming Raven Ridge APUs suggest that upcoming devices, expected to be launched in time for Christmas, will outperform current Bristol Ridge APUs by up to 90 per cent on multicore applications."

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Source: The Inquirer

Street View Added to Google Earth VR Desktop

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2017 - 08:57 PM |
Tagged: google, VR

So this is a bit of a weird one. As our readers are probably well aware, Google Maps offers Street View, which allows you to see 360-degree images from a car as it travels as many roads as it can... since, like, 2007. Also, this year, they are beginning to upgrade the quality of these images with new cars. Now that VR is taking off, it would be kind-of cool to see this data around you. Daydream (and apparently Cardboard) have an app that offers a few locations that you can view... sort-of like you would see in QuickTime in the 90s. Meanwhile, on Oculus, you had Google Earth, which let you see a view that was based on their new 3D Google Maps Satellite view, but it wouldn’t pull in the Street View data.

google-2017-streetviewvr.jpg

Image Credit: Google

Now it will. A couple of days ago, Google updated Google Earth VR to allow teleporting into that spherical image. You will see a preview in a sphere atop your left hand. The weird part, though, is that you can’t travel while within street view. As far as I can tell, you need to jump back to the satellite view, move, then drop back down into street view any time you want to go anywhere. This... makes little sense to me, unless they plan on adding that feature but it just didn’t make this release schedule. It seems like they have all of the pieces scattered across existing software, but it's obviously next-to-impossible to tell for sure from the outside. Perhaps the data linked into the web-based Street View is insufficient for some reason?

Rant aside, if you have a compatible headset (which Steam says is an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive) then it’s worth a free download to check it out.

Source: Google

AMD Ryzen 5 2500U APU With Vega Graphics Spotted in Geekbench Benchmarks

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2017 - 03:32 AM |
Tagged: Zen, Vega, ryzen 5, ryzen, raven ridge, APU, amd

Back in May AMD made Ryzen Mobile official indicating that the APUs previously known as "Raven Ridge" would be launching in the second half of 2017. As that launch window closes, more details are starting to trickle out including benchmarks scores. The latest appearance of Raven Ridge is in a Geekbench benchmark score results page where a "Ryzen 5 2500U" APU achieves a single core score of 3,561 and a multi-core score of 9,421. These are fairly impressive results on their own, but especially considering that Ryzen Mobile chips are reportedly using up to 50% less power versus last generation Bristol Ridge processors while handily beating them in performance offered.

AMD has previously claimed that its Ryzen Mobile (Raven Ridge) APUs will offer up to 50% more CPU performance and 40% more GPU performance compared to its 7th Generation APUs. The leaked Geekbench scores seem to back up those claims (for the most part) with the Ryzen 5 2500U scoring slightly above 36% better single core performance and 48% better multi-core performance compared to the AMD A12-9800 APU with the latter being due primarily to the addition of SMT to the processor design allowing for twice the number of CPU threads (eight total). The performance improvements are also due to the move from Excavator to a Zen-based design on a smaller more power efficient process node. What is most impressive about this mobile part is that it is that much faster than a 65W quad core (4 core / 4 thread) desktop Bristol Ridge APU clocked at 3.8 GHz base and 4.2 GHz boost while using approximately half the power!

Geekbench Ryzen 5 2500U Vega APU.png

The Geekbench benchmark is only one data point, but is still a positive sign. One thing it does not reveal is clockspeed as while it lists 2.0 GHz that number is likely only the base and not the maximum boost frequency. Further, details on the Vega-based GPU are still unknown although the Infinity Fabric should help tremendously in reducing the bottleneck and keeping the on die GPU fed with data while gaming especially when paired with fast dual channel memory or HBM (I just hope that Ryzen Mobile is not held back like previous generation mobile APUs were with laptop manufacturers pairing them with single channel memory setups). We also do not know officially the number of stream processors that will be included in any of the Vega GPUs used in Ryzen Mobile with past rumors going up to 1024 SPs (mobile parts will likely be capped at 512 or 768 at the extreme). AMD claims that Ryzen Mobile will offer up to 40% more GPU performance, which to me suggests that we will possibly see higher GPU core counts but for the most part performance improvements are going to come from architecture improvements.

I am really interested to see how Raven Ridge plays out and hope that it is one step closer to finally realizing that HSA future AMD has been promsing me for years!

Also read: AMD Teases Ryzen Mobile APUs with Zen CPU Cores and On-Die Vega Graphics

Source: Guru3D

Corsair's K68 keyboard is immune to spit-takes

Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2017 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: input, corsair, K68, cherry mx red, water resistant

The K68 is not washable nor waterproof but thanks to a membrane under the keys, the Cherry MX Red switches and PCBs are protected from inadvertent spills or splashes.  Physically it resembles other Corsair keyboards such as the K70, though with a plastic body and only a red glow available as opposed to being fully RGB.  The Tech Report tested it out and did not find the membrane to interfere with key presses and it did indeed survive being doused with a full glass of water.

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"Corsair's K68 keyboard blends the company's usual recipe of Cherry MX switches and discrete media controls with an unusual new feature: a water-resistant membrane under the keys that could provide insurance against splashes and spills during heavy gaming. We gave this board a splash to see how it works."

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Proper per app permissions arriving to Windows 10

Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2017 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, security

The new Creators Update for Windows 10 just received a noteworthy upgrade.  Installed applications will now need your agreement to collect and transmit metadata such as your location and other information.  Many of the concerns raised by Windows 10 users focused on the current configuration which defaults to apps being allowed permission to track and send information; it can be turned off by a user but only after the fact.  Now applications will be installed with telemetry disabled by default unless a user agrees to the collection of information during the installation.  There are cases in which it is beneficial to send your usage information, especially Windows error reports, but that was no excuse to enable that ability across the board.  The Inquirer also mentions that the Enterprise version will offer greater control and limit the OS to local notifications of serious issues or updates.

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"Starting with the new Creators Update, you will be required to explicitly give permission for each piece of access and there's even a full privacy statement to wallow through (or more likely ignore, make tea) during install."

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Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #467 - NVIDIA WhisperMode, HyperX Keyboard, iPhone 8/X, and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2017 - 12:01 PM |
Tagged: whispermode, video, shadow rock 2, Seasonic FOCUS, Samsung, podcast, nvidia, nuc, MX Ergo, macchina, logitech, iphone x, iphone 8, Intel, hyperx, GTX 1070Ti, Dawson Canyon, Cites: Skylines, BeQuiet, ASUS ZenFone 4 Max, apple, 7nm, 11nm

PC Perspective Podcast #467 - 09/13/17

Join us for discussion on  NVIDIA WhisperMode, HyperX Mechanical Keyboards, iPhone 8/X 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!

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

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:27:20

Podcast topics of discussion: 
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 1:12:20 Ryan: Logitech MX Ergo
    2. 1:17:15 Jeremy: Macchina is shipping
    3. 1:22:45 Allyn: Alternative black air cooler? (be quiet Shadow Rock 2)
    4. 1:23:45 Alex: Cities: Skylines
  4. Closing/outro
 

Source:

Toshiba Negotiating With Bain Capital For Sale of Its NAND Manufacturing Arm

Subject: General Tech, Storage | September 14, 2017 - 10:32 AM |
Tagged: western digital, toshiba, nand, flash memory, bain capital

Toshiba remains in a financial crisis in the aftermath of massive losses in its Westinghouse US Nuclear power division and has been attempting to sell off its still very much profitable NAND flash manufacturing business to compensate and right the company to avoid being delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Unfortunately for Toshiba it has now missed three target dates for selling off the business. Not for lack of suitors, but primarily because of legal issues resulting from anti-trust concerns as well as legal battles brought by Western Digital  – who Toshiba is in a joint venture with for flash manufacturing in Japan – to attempt to prevent the sale.

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Jumping to the present, Toshiba has decided to proceed with the negotiations with an investment group led by Bain Capital despite disappointment (and more legal objections) from Western Digital who tried to block similar negotiations back in June. On Wednesday, it was revealed that Toshiba had signed a “memorandum of understanding” and is engaging in private talks to negotiate the sale with an investment group led by Bain Capital and including SK Hynix (who is allegedly only providing financing at this point and not going after a stake in the business to try to avoid further delaying the sale from increased anti-trust red tape), Apple, Dell, Seagate, and two Japanese government controlled entities known as Innovation Network Corp and Development Bank of Japan (again, Bain Capital is offering them the chance to invest post any WD concessions and legal battles in the business to improve chances of the sale going through). As the preferred (by Toshiba) buyer, the Bain Capital-lead group deal is reportedly worth nearly 2.4 trillion Yen ($22 billion USD) including $1.8 billion earmarked for infrastructure. The company expects come to an agreement in late September and is hoping that it will be able to finalize the sale by March so that it can avoid reporting negative net worth and risking being de-listed from the Tokyo Stock Exchange and being cut off from a huge swath of public investors and capital.

Due to the negotiations being private, details are not readily available yet. It is not clear whether Toshiba will be able to pull it off or what the implications will be for the market if it does. (With Toshiba being the world’s second largest flash memory supplier, whoever ends up acquiring the company is going to have a lot of influence on the market and flash technology R&D.) It certainly seems Toshiba’s battle to right itself is going to continue into next year and Western Digital is not going to make it easy. The US-based WD stated:

“We are disappointed that Toshiba would take this action. Our goal has been — and remains — to reach a mutually beneficial outcome that satisfies the needs of Toshiba and its stakeholders.”

A California court has reportedly ordered Toshiba to give Western Digital two weeks’ notice of any deal with the consortium and its two previous arbitration requests through ICC are still pending resolution. Barrons reports that Toshiba may convince WDC to allow the sale if it gives its joint venture partner enough concessions such as an assured long term NAND supply contract and agreed participation in joint Fab projects that would protect SanDisk's contractual rights. Other interested parties for the sale include Foxconn and Western Digital itself. Perhaps SoftBank or the $100 Billion Vision Fund will come in and scoop it up as well.

[Opinions follow heh] I am interested to see how it all will eventually shake out. It remains less than ideal to see Toshiba must sell it off and have the market possibly lose a big flash memory player as the market share power gets more consolidated if it does get picked up by an existing memory manufacturer (see: hard drives, flash memory seems to be going through the same consolidation of companies from lots of little players into fewer bigger ones). I am not certain on the deal specifics as far as ownership and control of TMC and any cash only vs equity splits but with Japanese investors as part of all three bidding / competing consortiums it seems at least part of the business (if only money from it if not voting power) will remain rooted in Japan even if not under the Toshiba brand.

Also read:

 

Source: Tech Report

Colorful Reveals Custom Eight Slot Motherboard For Cryptocurrency Miners

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | September 14, 2017 - 02:13 AM |
Tagged: password cracking, mining, gpgpu, cryptocurrency, colorful, ai

Colorful recently unveiled an interesting bare-bones motherboard focused on cryptocurrency miners and other GPU heavy workloads with its main feature being eight double spaced PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots. The non-standard form factor Colorful C.B250A-BTC PLUS V20 motherboard measures 485mm x 195mm (approx. 19.1 x 7.7 inches) and offers a no-frills setup that is ready for miners to attach to open racks. The motherboard is based on Intel’s LGA 1151 socket and B250 chipset.

Colorful C_B250A-BTC PLUS Mining 8 slot motherboard.jpg

The majority of the board is taken up by eight PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots where the top slot is wired directly to the CPU and is electrically x16 while the rest are wired to the B250 chipset and are x1 slots. There are 16(!) PCI-E power connectors (eight 6-pin and eight 8-pin) for providing power to the GPU and two 4-pin ATX power connectors for powering the CPU and single SO-DIMM slot through what looks to be six power phases. Notably, there is no 24-pin power connector on this board to make it easier to use multiple power supplies and share motherboards between power supplies (though it’s not clear how Colorful plans to control turning all these power supplies on/off at the same time). Beyond the PCI-E slots there is not much to this motherboard. Internal I/O includes the 1151 socket for Skylake and Kaby Lake CPUs, a single DDR4 SO-DIMM slot, one SATA port, one M.2 slot, and six fan headers. Around back are two USB ports, one HDMI video output, and a single gigabit ethernet port.

The board is a no-frills design that should be quite appealing for miners but also as an easy way to jump into GPGPU projects (AI research, rendering, machine learning, password cracking, etc.). The 2-slot spacing allows air cooled (hopefully blower style) cards to be installed without needing to find and test quality PCI-E riser cables. There is no word on pricing yet, and while it should be on the cheaper side based on the features and hardware it’s packing as it’s a custom design aimed at mining it may actually come out at a hefty premium for the convenience it offers them. On the bright side, it might have decent resale value to factor into the ROI calculations for the other non-mining applications I mentioned (a mean password cracking rig!). A neat board in any case, and as I mentioned previously it is interesting to see the new designs and configurations the mining craze has enticed manufacturers into exploring.

Also read:

Source: TechPowerUp

Intel Releases Dawson Canyon NUCs With 15W Kaby Lake CPUs

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 13, 2017 - 07:29 PM |
Tagged: SFF, nuc, kaby lake, Intel

Following last year’s Baby Canyon NUC kits, Intel is launching its Dawson Canyon NUCs powered by 15W Kaby Lake processors. Despite Dawson Canyon sounding more dramatic than Baby Canyon (which sounds more like a creek), the new NUCs are lower powered and ditch Iris Graphics and USB 3.1 Type C.

Specifically, Intel is launching six new models that will come in three flavors: barebones board, slim case kit, and a taller kit with room for a 2.5” drive. Each type of NUC kit will come with either a Core i3 or Core i5 processor. Dawson Canyon further supports Intel RST (Rapid Storage Technology) and Optane memory.

Intel Dawson Canyon.jpg

Processor options include the Core i3 7100U (2.4 GHz) and Core i5 7300U (2.6 GHz base, 3.5 GHz boost) which are both dual core processors with HyperThreading, 3 MB cache, Intel HD Graphics 620 GPUs, and 15W TDPs.

Internal I/O includes two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots, two M.2 slots (one full length (80mm) and one 30mm slot for Wi-Fi adapters such as the included Intel 8265 with is included in the kits with cases but not the bare board kits.), one SATA port, and headers for serial, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 ports.

External I/O consists of four USB 3.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and two HDMI outputs (one protected UHD).

Dawson Canyon NUCs will be available towards the end of the year (Q4’17) with pricing yet to be released. For the fanless, ahem, fans Fanless Tech reports that Simply NUC will be offering NUCs with custom fanless cases. These are likely to be cheaper than Baby Canyon and be popular with businesses wanting monitor mounted thin clients or low power workstations for office users that just need to run productivity applications.

Source: FanlessTech

Blender Foundation Releases Blender 2.79

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2017 - 07:03 PM |
Tagged: Blender, amd

The latest version of Blender, 2.79, makes a few significant changes, especially for users with AMD GPUs. Their main rendering engine, Cycles, has now reached feature-parity on OpenCL and CUDA. While those with NVIDIA GPUs will keep using the latter compute API, users of recent AMD GPUs can now (on Windows and Linux -- macOS requires a driver update) harness their graphics cards for higher performance.

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10 samples is actually very low. I'm usually in the 100-1000 range.

For the rest of us, there are four improvements that I would consider major. First, Cycles now has a denoise filter, which reduces speckles and thus should let you get away with fewer samples. Second, Filmic Color Management is now included by default, which can represent a much wider dynamic range. This was available as a user mod for a while, but you needed to manually install it. Third is a shadow catcher object for Cycles, which lets you render off translucent shadows onto dummy objects and composite them later (in Photoshop, After Effects, or Blender’s video editor).

Fourth, and most interesting to me, is their new PBR shader. I’ve done PBR materials in Cycles before, and it’s a bit of a pain to set up. If I don’t copy/paste from an existing material, it takes about 15-20 minutes of my time to wire together diffuse nodes, glossy nodes, Fresnel nodes, and so forth such that I can attach metal, bump, and so forth to it. Now? Just drag in one node and hook up the correct textures and colors, like the ones that are generated in Substance or Quixxel.

As always, Blender is free, so have fun.