A good year to sell GPUs

Subject: General Tech | February 21, 2017 - 01:18 PM |
Tagged: jon peddie, marketshare, graphics cards

The GPU market increased 5.6% from Q3 to Q4 of 2016, beating the historical average of -4.7% by quite a large margin, over the year we saw an increase of 21.1%.  That increase is even more impressive when you consider that the total PC market dropped 10.1% in the same time, showing that far more consumers chose to upgrade their existing machines instead of buying new ones.  This makes sense as neither Intel nor AMD offered a compelling reason to upgrade your processor and motherboard for anyone who purchased one in the last two or three years.

AMD saw a nice amount of growth, grabbing almost 8% of the total market from NVIDIA over the year, though they lost a tiny bit of ground between Q3 and Q4 of 2016.  Jon Peddie's sample also includes workstation class GPUs as well as gaming models and it seems a fair number of users chose to upgrade their machines as that market increased just over 19% in 2016.

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"The graphics add-in board market has defied gravity for over a year now, showing gains while the overall PC market slips. The silly notion of integrated graphics "catching up" with discrete will hopefully be put to rest now," said Dr. Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie research, the industry's research and consulting firm for graphics and multimedia."

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The Qt Company Announces Qt 3D Studio

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2017 - 04:46 PM |
Tagged: vulkan, Qt, nvidia

NVIDIA has just donated their entire DRIVE Design Studio to The Qt Company, who will form it into Qt 3D Studio. This product will be a visual editor for 3D user interfaces, where layers of 2D and 3D objects can be created, animated, and integrated into C++ applications. It will take them a little while to clean it up for public consumption, but it will eventually be available under the commercial / open-source dual-license that users of Qt are accustomed to.

If you’re not familiar with the Qt Framework, then, basically, think of a cross-platform, open-source alternative to the .NET framework, although it is based in unmanaged C++. (It also competes with GTK+. This isn’t a major point, but I would like it to be clear that it’s not a two-person race between one proprietary and one open-source player.) When AMD updated their graphics drivers to Crimson Edition, and flaunted huge speed-ups, it was mostly because they switched the control panel's UI framework from .NET to Qt.

As an aside, The Qt Company joined the Khronos Group on the day that Vulkan launched, which was almost exactly a year ago, and they are actively working on integrating the API in their framework. Combined with today’s announcement, it’s not hard to imagine how much easier it will be, some day, to create efficient and beautiful UIs.

Update: Speaking of which, The Qt Company is apparently planning to release Vulkan support with Qt 5.10.

Monday morning penguins

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2017 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: linux, linux 4.10

The new week brings a new Linux kernel to users, with some additions which will interest fans of low powered computing as well as those of high powered machines.  The new kernel brings support for the Snapdragon 808 and 810 for those who are working with Linux on those SOCs.  For the high powered crew, added support for L2 and L3 cache on Intel processors, there is now support for virtual GPUs and The Inquirer mentions that AMD cards should get a bit of a boost.  So much for skipping straight to 4.11.

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"On the whole, 4.10 didn't end up as small as it initially looked.After the huge release that was 4.9, I expected things to be pretty quiet, but it ended up very much a fairly average release by modern kernel standards. So we have about 13,000 commits (not counting merges - that would be another 1200+ commits if you count those)."

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Source: The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Logitech

Is Mechanical Mandatory?

The Logitech G213 Prodigy gaming keyboard offers the company's unique Mech-Dome keys and customizable RGB lighting effects, and it faces some stiff competition in a market overflowing with gaming keyboards for every budget (including mechanical options). But it really comes down to performance, feel, and usability; and I was interested in giving these new Mech-Dome keys a try.

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“The G213 Prodigy gaming keyboard features Logitech Mech-Dome keys that are specially tuned to deliver a superior tactile response and performance profile similar to a mechanical keyboard. Mech-Dome keys are full height, deliver a full 4mm travel distance, 50g actuation force, and a quiet sound operation.

The G213 Prodigy gaming keyboard was designed for gaming, featuring ultra-quick, responsive feedback that is up to 4x faster than the 8ms report rate of standard keyboards and an anti-ghosting matrix that keeps you in control when you press multiple gaming keys simultaneously.”

I will say that at $69.99 the G213 plays in a somewhat odd space relative to the current gaming keyboard market; though it would be well positioned in a retail setting, where at a local Best Buy it would be a compelling option vs. a $100+ mechanical option. But savvy internet shoppers see the growing number of <$70 mechanical keyboards available and might question the need for a ‘quasi-mechanical’ option like this. I don’t review products from a marketing perspective, however, and I simply set out to determine if the G213 is a well-executed product on the hardware front.

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Continue reading our review of the Logitech G213 gaming keyboard!

Blizzard Cutting Support for Windows XP and Vista

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2017 - 05:07 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, blizzard, windows, EoL

Most companies have already abandoned Windows XP and Vista, including Microsoft once Vista leaves extended support in April, but Blizzard is known for long-term support. This is the company that is still selling Diablo 2, even producing retail disks for it last I checked, almost seventeen years after it was released (including a patch last year).

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Later this year, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm will no longer support Windows XP or Vista. This will not all happen at once, even though it would actually make less sense if they did. I mean, why would they coordinate several teams to release a patch at the same time and maximize annoyance to the affected users who cannot schedule or afford an upgrade at that specific time?

Although, if that’s you, then you should probably get around to it sooner than later.

Source: Blizzard

The Genius SP-925BT bluetooth speaker, the sound is larger than the price tag

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2017 - 05:09 PM |
Tagged: audio, SP-925BT, genuis, Bluetooth Stereo Speaker

If you are looking for an inexpensive bluetooth speaker that you won't worry about taking to the beach or other places it is at risk of harm, the $30 Genius SP-925BT is not a bad choice.  It features two 50mm speakers and a passive sub-woofer, with a 1500mAh battery.  In addition to Bluetooth 4 connectivity there is also a 3.5mm jack to connect devices without a radio.  Modders Inc tried a variety of audio sources and found the quality and volume perfect for sharing you music with a crowd of people.

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"Bluetooth technology is rendering wires passé in a world where using a mobile phone is an essential part of daily life. Staying connected no longer requires continuous tethering of devices to cables, so why shouldn’t audio listening enjoy the same freedom as well?"

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Source: Modders Inc

Good news everybody! Those 30 second Youtube ads are going the way of the dodo

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2017 - 03:35 PM |
Tagged: youtube

Perhaps someone at Youtube noticed that most people flip to another tab or browser window during those unskippable ads that are frequently played at the beginning of videos.  Whatever the cause of the sudden outbreak of common sense, as of 2018 there will no longer be 30 second long ads which are unskippable.  This does not mean you will be free of ads, there will instead be unskippable ads of 15-20 seconds for you to ignore and you will still have ads in the middle of long videos.  They do have to sell more Red subscriptions after all.  Slashdot has linked to the original statement if you seek confirmation.

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"We're committed to providing a better ads experience for users online. As part of that, we've decided to stop supporting 30-second unskippable ads as of 2018 and focus instead on formats that work well for both users and advertisers," Google said."

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Source: Slashdot

Microsoft Cancels February's Monthly Cumulative Update

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

Don’t worry if you didn’t receive cumulative Windows Updates this month.

At first, Microsoft showed no love for Valentine’s Day when they delayed the update that was supposed to roll out to the public. No explanation was provided. Two days later, Microsoft decided to write off the whole month. Everything that has been fixed since January 10th will be delayed until March 14th.

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This is quite the wait. Peter Bright of Ars Technica notes that “off-cycle updates are also unpopular”. Yes, IT professionals hate it when software vendors are difficult to schedule around. I’m not sure how much that had to do with this decision, though. On the one hand, when a new build launches to the public, it’s not uncommon to have an update (or more) per week over the first couple of months. On the other hand, it would be reasonable for Microsoft to assume that customers, those who carefully test patches before deploying them, would not have ingested a huge, nebulous feature release into their network just weeks after launch. Still, out-of-band updates happen, and it’s interesting that it didn’t happen in this circumstance.

One thing that this patch should have fixed, however, is delayed or clipped display output in games (and other 3D applications) on multi-monitor systems. While not as critical as security, it is probably annoying for anyone affected to need to wait another 28 days. Microsoft claims it will be fixed then, though.

Source: Microsoft

Need an AMD processor right this instant? Perhaps Ashes of the Singularity Escalation with it?

Subject: General Tech | February 16, 2017 - 07:25 PM |
Tagged: amd, newegg, ashes of the singularity

Do you have a desperate need for a new processor, which precludes waiting for Ryzen to arrive?  Newegg and AMD have launched a giveaway you might be interested in, a free copy of Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation with the purchase of certain 6 or 8 core AMD FX processors

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Models include the AMD FX-8370 with Wraith cooler, FX-8350 BE, FX-8320, FX-8300, FX-6350 and FX-6300.  They may not be the newest chips on the block but they didn't cost very much and they lasted a long while; plus they are currently on sale.  The giveaway lasts until May 7, 2017, or when the keys run out, so you can keep an eye on pricing if you want even better pricing.

 

Source: AMD

BOINC on your phone?

Subject: General Tech | February 16, 2017 - 02:24 PM |
Tagged: boinc, fast radio bursts

If you are not familiar with the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Networked Computing, aka BOINC, then hopefully it is because you devote your spare processing power to Folding@Home.  If you are still unfamiliar, it is a way to divvy up huge data sets and associated calculations to numerous local clients, install by volunteers who are willing to donate spare processing cycles; the most famous is SETI@Home.

The story at the The Register describes something similar, though instead of performing the calculations, you would capture the data.  The idea is to utilize the radio receivers in mobile devices and software defined radio kits to capture the mysterious fast radio bursts that astronomers have detected emanating from far off galaxies.  The researchers have a lot of work ahead of them as the 1GHz signals can be swamped by terrestrial sources and the periodicity of the signals is not clear.  It will be interesting to watch how this project unfolds.

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"Friends, take out your mobiles in the name of science! Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics are trying to look for fast radio bursts in the Milky Way galaxy with “low-cost radio receivers.” And by that, they mean, your smartphones."

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Source: The Register