Chances are you do not have an Intel modem in your iPhone 7

Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2016 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: apple, Intel, iPhone 7 Plus

You have likely heard rumours of some iPhone 7 Plus models having network connection issues and that Intel is being blamed.  The good news is that only the UK models seem to have an Intel modem, most other markets are using a Qualcomm model which does not have the performance degradation.  The issue seems to cause the signal quality of Intel based models to degrade significantly more quickly as network conditions degrade when compared to models which use the Qualcomm modem.  So far The Inquirer has no news on an official statement by Apple or Intel; same as the lack of response about the storage performance on lower cost models.

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"iPhone 7 Plus users in the UK will be affected by Apple's decision to source modems for the device from Intel. Only models sold in China, Japan and the US come with more tried and trusted modems made by Qualcomm."

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Source: The Inquirer

Doodads and dongles, check out these recommended peripherals

Subject: General Tech | October 20, 2016 - 01:43 PM |
Tagged: peripherals

The Tech Report also occasionally posts their staffs favourite peripherals, from monitors to mice, through microphones to joysticks.  Indeed they recommend a variety of Freesync and G-SYNC monitors so you can jump immediately to the appropriate page.  You can check out their recommended racing wheels, speakers ranging from small desktop models to studio quality or even power line networking.  Pop on over to see if you want to add any of their choices to your wishlist.

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"For this edition of our peripheral staff picks, we've refreshed our selection of displays, keyboards, mice, and more to account for the latest and greatest options out there for PC builders. Finish off your PC with this selection of great gear."

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The Phanteks Enthoo Pro M gets a temper

Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2016 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: phanteks, matx case, Enthoo Pro M, Enthoo, enclosure, atx case

Sebastian reviewed the Enthoo Pro M back in August, a well received case with a layout similar to an EVOLV ATX or Fractal Design Define S.  Phanteks have recently updated the exterior of the case, replacing the plastic side window and panel with a side panel made completely of tempered glass.  You can see how the upgraded model looks over at Kitguru.  There is also a variant which looks the same as this model, but with an acrylic side panel for those concerned about the price or mistrusting of a glass side panel.

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"The short version of this review is that Phanteks has given its Enthoo Pro M case a minor update and has changed the main side panel for a sheet of tempered glass. The slightly longer version is that Phanteks has revised its superb entry level Pro M case by replacing one of the few weak features, a flexible steel side panel with a so-so plastic window, with a gorgeous panel of tempered glass."

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Source: Kitguru

Close counts in this hotdogging VR game

Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2016 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: VR, htc vive, H3VR, gaming

Hot Dogs, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades is a VR game built on Unity which features a "Authentic ‘Murican BBQ experience with obsessively detailed grilling simulation" as well as bocce, lawn darts and hand grenade skeet shooting.  [H]ard|OCP tested out the Early Access version of this Vive title on their usual GPU suspects, it is worth mentioning the i7-6950X @ 4.2GHz as well since the developer feels that CPU could also be an issue.  This title continued the unfortunate trend we have seen with AMD cards, RX 480 performance lagged behind even the GTX 1060 and there were several crashes during testing.  For the moment NVIDIA is enjoying unchallenged status in VR gaming, lets hope AMD can find ways to improve their offerings to compete at a price to performance level in the near future.

Don't forget to sign up for the Fragging Frogs Virtual LAN party #14 on October 29th, we are up to 46 participants so you can be guaranteed to not only have a good time but to have a wide variety of active games to choose from!

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"Hot Dogs, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades is more of a firearms simulation than it is a game. H3VR certainly does have some gaming and scoring modes of play and the developer is has been very busy increasing the H3VR content depth. If you have never handled a rifle of pistol, H3VR can be somewhat daunting, but certainly rewarding."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Expect to hear news from AMD's VR boffins

Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2016 - 12:18 PM |
Tagged: amd, liquidvr, Radeon Pro WX 7100, loom

AMD's Polaris cards have been lagging behind NVIDIA's Pascal in VR performance, not completely surprising considering the deltas in price and 3D performance.  From DigiTimes we hear of some successes however; AMD is opening VR facilities in shopping malls, movie theatres and Internet cafes, currently focusing on China.  On might consider the price as being a major factor, AMD offers good enough performance for most at a price lower than the competition.  They are also focusing on the development side of the equation, discussing their Radeon Pro WX 7100 a solution for a number of providers.  Their Loom project should also see light towards the end of the year, bringing HD content and beyond to VR movie designers.  It will be interesting to see how AMD does against the competition on the design side of the market as opposed to consumer machines.

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"AMD has launched several new projects for its virtual reality (VR) business including GPU certification. It has enhanced its software/hardware platform and established a VR supply chain, hoping to expand its presence in the VR market, and to regain share in the graphics card market with its new Polaris GPUs."

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Source: DigiTimes

Power efficient memristors could be showing up in your smart toaster

Subject: General Tech | October 18, 2016 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: memristor, iot

Over at Nanotechweb you can read about research being conducted on memristor technology to reduce the power required to write to a cell to make this memory type more useful in low voltage applications, such as IoT devices.  Apart from the challenges of creating materials capable of remembering how much current has flowed through them in the past there is what the researchers refer to as the sneak path problem.  When writing to a memristor, current flows to the cell that is being updated, unfortunately it also flows into a number of other cells thus increasing the current required for each write cycle.  This team hopes to overcome this issue, so far having successfully reduced the current required to 8% of that in conventional crossbar circuits.  Check out more on the research in the full article.

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"Researchers at Hewlett Packard Labs in California, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Seoul National University are reporting on a new low-current, self-rectifying memristor made from titanium ion electron traps in a niobium oxide matrix. The device might be used as an embedded memory on low-power chips and for storing data in Internet of Things (IoT) appliances."

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Source: Nanotechweb

NVIDIA GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti Launch on October 25th

Subject: General Tech | October 18, 2016 - 09:01 AM |
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, GTX 1050 Ti, gtx 1050

NVIDIA has just announced that the GeForce GTX 1050 ($109) and GeForce GTX 1050 Ti ($139) will launch on October 25th. Both of these Pascal-based cards target the 75W thermal point, which allows them to be powered by a PCIe bus without being tethered directly to the power supply. Like the GTX 750 Ti before it, this allows users to drop it into many existing desktops, upgrading it with discrete graphics.

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Most of NVIDIA's press deck focuses on the standard GTX 1050. This $109 SKU contains 2GB of GDDR5 memory and 640 CUDA cores, although the core frequency has not been announced at the time of writing. Instead, NVIDIA has provided a handful of benchmarks, comparing the GTX 1050 to the earlier GTX 650 and the Intel Core i5-4760k integrated graphics.

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It should be noted that, to hit their >60FPS targets, Gears of War 4 and Grand Theft Auto V needed to be run at medium settings, and Overwatch was set to high. (DOTA2 and World of Warcraft were maxed out, though.) As you might expect, NVIDIA reminded the press about GeForce Experience's game optimization setting just a few slides later. The implication seems to be that, while it cannot max out these games at 1080p, NVIDIA will at least make it easy for users to experience its best-case scenario, while maintaining 60FPS.

So yes, while it's easy to claim 60 FPS is you're able to choose the settings that fit this role, it's a much better experience than the alternative parts they list. On the GTX 650, none of these titles are able to hit an average of 30 FPS, and integrated graphics cannot even hit 15 FPS. This card seems to be intended for users that are interested in playing eSports titles maxed out at 1080p60, while enjoying newer blockbusters, albeit at reduced settings, but have an old, non-gaming machine they can salvage.

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Near the end of their slide deck, they also mention that the GTX 1050 Ti exists. It's basically the same use case as above, with its 75W TDP and all, but with $30 more performance. The VRAM doubles from 2GB to 4GB, which should allow higher texture resolutions and more mods, albeit still targeting 1080p. It also adds another 128 CUDA cores, a 20% increase, although, again, that is somewhat meaningless until we find out what the card is clocked at.

Update: Turns out we did find clock speeds! The GTX 1050 will have a base clock of 1354 MHz and a Boost clock of 1455 MHz while the GTX 1050 Ti will run at 1290/1392 MHz respectively.

NVIDIA's promotional video

Obviously, numbers from a vendor are one thing, and a third-party benchmark is something else entirely (especially when the vendor benchmarks do not compare their product to the latest generation of their competitor). Keep an eye out for reviews.

Source: NVIDIA

Google tests its Power and takes a shot at Intel

Subject: General Tech | October 17, 2016 - 12:48 PM |
Tagged: google, Intel, power9, zaius

Not too long ago Google revealed it had updated the code that runs behind its popular web based services to make it more hardware agnostic.  With a trivial tweak to the code their software can switch between running on Intel x86, IBM Power or 64-bit ARM cores.  On Friday Google Cloud's technical program manager, John Zipfel, provided more information on the OpenCAPI compliant Zaius P9 server that is in development and revealed it will use an IBM Power 9 chip.  As it will be OpenCAPI, it will use interconnects such as NVIDIA's NVLink or AMD's as yet unnamed fabric interconnect but will not leverage Intel's.  The Register has a bit more information on Google's plans and the Zaius here.

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"Google has gently increased pressure on Intel – its main source for data-center processors – by saying it is "looking forward" to using chips from IBM and other semiconductor rivals."

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Source: The Register

Rumor: Newegg Acquired by Liaison Interactive

Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2016 - 10:40 PM |
Tagged: newegg, liaison interactive

About a month ago, Newegg announced that Hangzhao Liaison Interactive Information Technology Co., Ltd. has agreed to make a “significant investment” in their company. That is not a rumor; it was officially acknowledged by Newegg. Their press release doesn't really elaborate on the specifics of the deal, though, except to note that Liaison Interactive is interested in Newegg because of their position in the VR and AR market. Got to love the PC gaming ecosystem.

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Well, this month, the rumors are claiming that Newegg was outright acquired by Liaison Interactive. The United Daily News is reporting that the deal was 17.7 billion yuan (which Google mis-translated to 1.77 billion yuan for me) for 55.7% of the online retailer. It's unclear how the other 44.3% is split up, but Newegg is said to become a subsidiary as a result of this transaction.

The UDN story also expands upon the “why” question that was loosely touched upon last month. I can't tell, especially with Google Translate stripping a lot of context, how much of this is speculation, but the report suggests that Liaison Interactive is interested in Newegg as an extension of its supply chain. That is, more easily get their products to end-users world-wide.

Interesting. We'll hopefully get a new press release soon.

Strap a peltier to your DSLR so you can lengthen your exposure

Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2016 - 12:45 PM |
Tagged: DSLR, peltier

Peltier coolers have proven too inefficient to cool modern CPUs and have been relegated back to car seats and other traditional usages, until now.  A company called PrimaLuce will send you a Nikon D5500 with a peltier cooler strapped to the back which will cool your camera during long exposures which reduces image noise.  It will also prevent the camera from getting obnoxiously warm, a common complaint around the PCPer office.  This particular camera is intended for capturing the night sky, the inclusion of a anti-dewing system is very welcome.  Pop on over to Ars Technica to take a look.

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"For €2,190 (£2,000/$2,400), the Italian company PrimaLuce will sell you a Nikon D5500 DSLR with a dual-Peltier cooler strapped to the back, called the Nikon D5500a Cooled. In addition to the cooler, the modified camera also switches out the standard low-pass filter in front of the sensor for something that is specially tuned to be more sensitive to astronomical wavelengths of light (specifically H-alpha deep red)."

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Source: Ars Technica