PC Perspective Podcast #532 - EVGA NU Audio, Radeon VII Pro Drivers, and DLSS

Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2019 - 05:30 PM |
Tagged: sound card, radeon viii, podcast, Nu Audio, hyperx, evga, encrypted storage, DLSS, battlefield V, audiophile

PC Perspective Podcast #532 - 2/13/2019

This week we take a look at a high-end audio card from EVGA, a USB flash drive with built-in hardware encryption, and new gaming mouse from HyperX, the latest NVIDIA and AMD driver updates, and GTX 1660 Ti rumors.

Subscribe to the PC Perspective Podcast

Check out previous podcast episodes: http://pcper.com/podcast

Show Topics
00:07:14 - Review: EVGA NU Audio Card
00:26:26 - Review: iStorage datAshur Pro Encrypted USB Drive
00:32:41 - Review: HyperX Pulsefire Core Gaming Mouse
00:36:40 - News: AMD Radeon Adrenalin 19.2.2 Driver Update
00:42:04 - News: AMD Pro Driver Support for Radeon VII
00:47:18 - News: NVIDIA DLSS Driver & Battlefield V
00:59:07 - News: Microsoft Wants You to Dump Internet Explorer
01:03:12 - News: GTX 1660 Ti Spec Rumors
01:15:53 - Picks of the Week

Picks of the Week
Jeremy: 3D-Printed Rubber Band Gun
Josh: Cheap 1TB SATA SSD
Jim: Top Gun
Sebastian: Top Secret!

Today's Podcast Hosts
Sebastian Peak
Josh Walrath
Jeremy Hellstrom
Jim Tanous

Skip Ahead? Skip Way Ahead. Windows 10 20H1 Test Build

Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2019 - 03:23 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

Microsoft has pushed a test build for Windows 10 20H1, which is scheduled to be publicly released around April 2020. For context, we are currently on Windows 10 18H2 and Windows 10 19H1 is expected to ship in a couple of months (~April 2019).

Microsoft still plans on shipping Windows 10 19H2 around October 2019.

microsoft-2019-insidernarwhal.png

This decision was met with snark from some of the more prominent reporters on Microsoft and Windows. One issue that was raised is how the rings will be handled going forward. Currently, there does not exist a branch that contains 19H2. It seems likely that “Skip Ahead” will never drop back to 19H2, especially since rolling back from a preview build is generally unsupported. Will Microsoft continue to have “Skip Ahead” be two builds out, “Fast” be one build out, “Slow” be at most one build out, and “Release Preview” be incremental on the current build? Or will “Skip Ahead” kind-of roll back to “Fast” once the latter catches up and they no longer need to have a feature that requires an abnormally long testing branch?

As for the changes? Not a whole lot. One that stands out is a seemingly innocuous “updating the name of the Windows Light them to be Windows (light)”. This sort-of suggests themes that will not be Windows. I could see some sort of interface or theming update taking an abnormally long time… although I somewhat doubt that is the mystery big feature.

On the other hand, it must be something that Microsoft wants actively tested. Whether that’s automated (via telemetry on a wide array of computers) or through direct feedback from their users will need to be seen.

Source: Microsoft

Get some deep Tensorflow lovin' instead of the cupidity which is the hallmark of today

Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2019 - 12:24 PM |
Tagged: tensorflow, google, Downtiration, deep learning, ai

Downtiration is not a word, but then again what you are about to hear isn't exactly a song either, though is closer to one than many of the insipid honey drenched hits you are likely to hear today.  A company by the name of Search Laboratory fed Google's Tenserflow software with 999 love songs and let it assemble the new benchmark for sentimental songbirds.  It is also a great example as to the current limitations of AI and Deep Learning, regardless of what the PR flacks would have you believe.

You can thank The Register for the next two irrecoverable minutes of your life.

"The song, entitled 'Downtiration Tender love' was created by media agency Search Laboratory and its "character-based Recurrent Neural Network," that uses Google's open-source machine learning software, TensorFlow loaded up with 999 snippets from the world's greatest love songs."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

It's an Epic post-apocalyptic GPU Exodus

Subject: General Tech | February 13, 2019 - 02:53 PM |
Tagged: Metro Exodus, gaming, nvidia, amd, DLSS, ray tracing

The Guru of 3D took over two dozen cards on the Metro, with a focus on the DX12 render path with DX-R support which does make the NVIDIA results a bit more interesting for now.  If you are looking to play at 1080p with every bell and whistle on, you can scrape by on a GTX 1080 or Vega 56 but you should really consider bumping that to an RTX 2070 or Vega 64.  For 1440p gamers the new Radeon VII is capable of providing a good experience but you are far better off with an RTX 2080 or better. 

At 4k, well, even the RTX 2080 Ti can barely make 50fps, with the rest of the pack reaching 40fps at best.  As to the effects of DLSS and ray tracing on the visual quality and overall performance? Read on to see for yourself.

metroexodus_2019_02_11_18_00_57_304.jpg

"A game title of discussion and debate, yes Metro Exodus for the PC is here, and we're going to put it to the test with close to 30 graphics cards in relation to framerates, frame times and CPU scaling."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Guru of 3D

Recalculating ... time to arrival infinite minutes

Subject: General Tech | February 13, 2019 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: gps, 10 bit, Future, oh no

You might have missed something in 1999, while everyone focused on the other Y2K bug, which was older GPS devices going haywire.  This was because the date is stored as a 10 bit character which means that 1024 weeks after the start of the epoch, the dates on your GPS device rolls back to 0 and it is no longer able to give positional data as it depends on knowing when, as well as where you are.

On April 6th, this will happen once again and far more people are bound to notice than when this previously occurred.  There are ways to ensure that devices do not suffer this bothersome 10 bit problem but with the lack of news coverage and general awareness not many have bothered.  Devices which adhere to the ICD-200/IS-GPS-200 specification will have no problems whatsoever; but many devices did not originally and when was the last time you saw a firmware update for the GPS in your car?

As The Register puts it, "if your gadget goes haywire in April, it's probably because of this. If it works as normal: brilliant, it's not affected."

Capture.PNG

"Older satnavs and such devices won't be able to use America's Global Positioning System properly after April 6 unless they've been suitably updated or designed to handle a looming epoch rollover."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Mozilla & Ubisoft "Clever-Commit" Deep-Learning Code Review

Subject: General Tech | February 12, 2019 - 05:52 PM |
Tagged: Rust, mozilla, deep learning, c++

The basic premise of “deep learning” is that you process big pools of data to try and find “good” and/or “bad” patterns. After you build up a set of trained data, you can compare new data against it to accomplish some goal.

In this case, Mozilla is using it to scan commits to the Firefox codebase as a form of automated code review. The system was originally developed by Ubisoft as Commit Assistant, which they have been using as a form of code analysis. Mozilla has since partnered with them, and will contribute to its ability to scan C++, JavaScript, and Mozilla’s own Rust language.

Other vendors, such as Microsoft and their IntelliCode system, have been using deep learning to assist in software development. It’s an interesting premise that, along with unit tests, static code analysis, and so forth, should increase the quality of code.

Personally, I’m one of those people that regularly use static code analysis (if the platform has a good and affordable solution available). It’s good to follow strong design patterns, but it’s hard to recover from the “broken window theory” once you get a few hundred static code analysis warnings… or a few hundred compiler warnings. Apathy just sets in and I just end up ignoring everything from that feedback level, down. It pushes me to, if I can control a project from scratch, keep it clean of warnings and code analysis issues.

All that is to say – it’ll be interesting to see how Clever-Commit is adopted. Since it’s apparently on a per-commit basis, it shouldn’t be bogged down by past mistakes. I wonder if we can somehow add that theory to other forms of code analysis. I’m curious what sort of data we could gather by scanning from commit to commit… what that would bring in terms of a wholistic view of code quality for various projects.

And then… what will happen when deep learning starts generating code? Hmm.

Source: Ars Technica
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: HyperX

Macros and RGB for $39

We’ve previously looked at the top of the HyperX mouse line with our Pulsefire Surge RGB review, and the Core model we're checking out today sits at the entry level in the HyperX lineup, though it still offers full customization for buttons and RGB lighting. Is this $39.99 wired gaming mouse a good value? We will try to answer that here.

HyperX_Core_Thumbnail.jpg

First we'll check out the specifications for the full HyperX mouse lineup:

  Pulsefire Core Pulsefire FPS Pulsefire FPS Pro Pulsefire Surge
Shape Symmetrical Ergonomic Ergonomic Symmetrical
Connection Type Wired Wired Wired Wired
Lighting RGB Red RGB RGB - 360
Buttons 7 6 6 6
Switch Reliability 20M Clicks 20M Clicks 20M Clicks 50M Clicks
Optical Sensor Pixart 3327 Pixart 3310 Pixart 3389 Pixart 3389
Max Resolution 6200 DPI 3200 DPI 16000 DPI 16000 DPI
Max Speed 220 IPS 130 IPS 450 IPS 450 IPS
Max Acceleration 30G 30G 50G 50G
Polling Rate 1000 Hz (1 ms) 1000 Hz (1 ms) 1000 Hz (1 ms) 1000 Hz (1 ms)
Cable Type Braided Braided Braided Braided
Weight (without cable) 87g 95g 95g 100g
Product Dimensions
(WxLxH)
64x119x41mm 71x128x42mm 71x128x42mm 63x120x41mm
NGenuity Software Enabled Yes No Yes Yes

Pricing and Availability: $39.99, Amazon.com

As you can see the Pulsefire Core offers a mix of features between the FPS and FPS Pro models, and still provides NGenuity software control. The first technical difference to point out is the optical sensor (Pixart 3327), which at a max of 6200 DPI sits between the FPS and Surge, and also provides a faster 220 IPS speed than the FPS models. Mouse switches are rated for the same 20 million clicks as the FPS as well, though you will need to move up to the Pulsefire Surge to get the Omron brand switches and their 50 million clicks.

Continue reading our review of the HyperX Pulsefire Core gaming mouse.

A real PNG in the arse for Android users

Subject: General Tech | February 12, 2019 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: Android, pie, nougat, Oreo, security

Careful what pictures you open up on your Android device as you may find yourself regretting looking at that meme.  Among the 42 new vulnerabilities listed in Android's newest Security Bulletin is a rather nasty one which could use a special PNG image to execute arbitrary code on your phone.  Currently unpatched, it affects even the newest Android Pie version and once a fix is determined, who knows how long it will take to propagate to your provider and your specific model of phone.  In the mean time surf carefully and take a peek at Slashdot for links to the other vulnerabilities, including 10 other critical ones.

totallylegit.PNG

"While this certainly doesn't apply to all images, Google discovered that a maliciously crafted PNG image could be used to hijack a wide variety of Androids -- those running Android Nougat (7.0), Oreo (8.0), and even the latest Android OS Pie (9.0),"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Slashdot

Google Chrome 73 Getting Media Keys Support

Subject: General Tech | February 11, 2019 - 08:20 PM |
Tagged: media keys, google, chrome

While the desktop version of Google Chrome has just been updated to 72, the next version, 73, will allow websites to bind JavaScript events to media keys. This means that websites will be able to listen to those buttons and respond accordingly, even if Google Chrome is a background application. Some websites should support this immediately, because it was already available on mobile, although I am not sure which ones and how.

google-2019-media-keys.jpg

Image Credit: Google

The update should be useful to those of us who, for example, listen to YouTube playlists. I am curious what sort of controls Google will add to tune its behavior. For instance, I probably do not want to close every old YouTube tab that I have laying around just so I can use Spotify in peace.

The feature will be added to Chrome OS, macOS, and Windows. Linux users will need to wait a little bit for some reason.

Source: Google
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: EVGA

Dedicated 2-Channel Sound

In the audio realm something pretty special happens when you have the right mix of source material, digital-to-analog conversion, amplification, and transducers (headphones or loudspeakers). And I am just talking about stereo, as 2-channel audio has the potential to immerse as deeply, and even more so, than 3D positional audio can; but it does take more care in overall setup. Enter EVGA, a company famous for its video cards, power supplies, motherboards, etc., and no stranger to diversification in the enthusiast PC community. And while EVGA in recent years has expanded their offering to include cases, coolers, and even laptops, they have never attempted a dedicated sound solution - until now.

Nu_Audio_Main.jpg

Coming as a surprise as the featured product in their suite at CES 2019, EVGA’s introduction of the Nu Audio card was exciting for me as an audio enthusiast, and this is really an enthusiast-level card based on the pricing of $249 ($199 for EVGA ELITE members). The Nu Audio is an all-new, designed from the ground up sound card with a true hi-fi pedigree and a stated goal of high-quality stereo sound reproduction. Just hearing the words “two channel” in relation to the computer audio was music to my ears (literally), and to say I was intrigued would be an understatement. I will try to temper my enthusiasm and just report the facts here; and yes, I understand that this is expensive for this market and a product like this is not for everyone.

The Nu Audio was created in partnership with Audio Note, a UK-based hi-fi component maker with a solid reputation and a philosophy that emphasizes component selection and material quality. In breaking down the components selected for the Nu Audio card it is evident that a high level of care went into the product, and it is the first time that I am aware of a computer sound card having this much in common with dedicated audiophile components.

Nu_Audio_Box.jpg

Of course component choices are irrelevant if the Nu Audio doesn’t sound any better than what users already have, and proving the value of a quality 2-channel experience can be tricky as it generally requires the user to provide both source material and headphones (or amplifier/speakers) of sufficient quality to hear a difference.

Continue reading our review of the EVGA Nu Audio PCIe sound card!