Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Networking, Shows and Expos | March 19, 2019 - 06:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, t4, amazon, microsoft, NGC, Mellanox, CUDA-X, GTC, jen-hsun huang, DRIVE Constellation, ai
As part of their long list of announcements yesterday, NVIDIA revealed they are partnering with Cisco, Dell EMC, Fujitsu, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Inspur, Lenovo and Sugon to provide servers powered by T4 Tensor Core GPUs, optimized to run their CUDA-X AI accelerators.
Those T4 GPUs have been on the market for a while but this marks the first major success for NVIDIA in the server room, with models available for purchase from those aforementioned companies. Those who prefer other people's servers can also benefit from these new products, with Amazon and Microsoft offering Cloud based solutions. Setting yourself up to run NVIDIA's NGC software may save a lot of money down the road, the cards sip a mere 70W of power which is rather more attractive than the consumption of a gaggle of Tesla V100s. One might be guilty of suspecting this offers an explanation for their recent acquisition of Mellanox.
NGC software offers more than just a platform to run optimizations on, it also offers a range of templates to start off with from classification, and object detection, through sentiment analysis and most other basic starting points for training a machine. Customers will also be able to upload their own models to share internally or, if in the mood, externally with other users and companies. It supports existing products such as TensorFlow and PyTorch but also offers access to CUDA-X AI, which as the name suggests takes advantage of the base design of the T4 GPU to reduce the amount of time waiting for results and letting users advance designs quickly.
If you are curious exactly what particular implementations of everyone's favourite buzzword might be, NVIDIA's DRIVE Constellation is a example after JoshTekk's own heart. Literally an way to create open, scalable simulation for large fleets of self-driving cars to train them ... for good one hopes. Currently the Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development utilizes these products in the development of their next self-driving fleet, and NVIDIA obviously hopes others will follow suit.
There is not much to see from the perspective of a gamer in the short term, but considering NVIDIA's work at shifting the horsepower from the silicon you own to their own Cloud this will certainly impact the future of gaming from both a hardware and gameplay perspective. GPUs as a Service may not be the future many of us want but this suggests it could be possible, not to mention the dirty tricks enemy AIs will be able to pull with this processing power behind them.
One might even dream that escort missions could become less of a traumatic experience!
Subject: General Tech, Displays, Shows and Expos | January 13, 2019 - 07:34 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: CES, ces 2019, wacom, wacom 16
Wacom has launched a new, lower-cost Cintiq pen display at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show. This one is the Wacom Cintiq 16, which should not be confused with the previously-released Wacom Cintiq Pro 16. While the Pro had a 4K screen with 94% AdobeRGB, the new model downgrades to 1080p with 72% NTSC. Both are based on IPS panel technology.
(Note the different AdobeRGB vs NTSC color spaces. It’s hard to compare the two, but 72% NTSC roughly corresponds to 100% sRGB, which is smaller than 94% AdobeRGB… so the Pro should have better colors… but it’s just about impossible to exactly quantify the difference without calibrating both panels to both color spaces and comparing.)
In exchange for the one-quarter resolution (albeit on a 16-inch screen) and lower color space, you get a much smaller price tag. The Wacom Cintiq Pro 16 is listed at $1499.95 USD on the Wacom website, but the new Wacom Cintiq 16 is listed at just $649.95 USD. This price cut opens it up to users with a much different budget. It’s not quite in the “video game console” territory, but it’s not significantly higher than that $500 threshold either. It’s possible that you could see it barely squeeze into holiday gifts for teenagers and young adults that show a strong interest in art. It also makes it much easier to justify for small business art studios, too.
CES 2019: Lenovo Yoga S940, Lenovo Yoga C730 with AMOLED, Lenovo Yoga A940, Lenovo Yoga Mouse with Laser Presenter
Subject: Cases and Cooling, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2019 - 02:00 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: yoga, Lenovo, ces 2019, CES
Lenovo has also unveiled a new Yoga line of four very different products: two laptops, an all-in-one PC, and a mouse that is designed for presentations.
Up first is the Lenovo Yoga S940. This is an ultra-slim, 14-inch laptop with a 4K, HDR screen and up to 1TB of PCIe SSD storage. The processor is an eighth-generation Intel Core i7 backed by an Intel UHD 620 GPU, which seems to narrow down the possibilities to either the Core i7-8650U, the Core i7-8565U, or the Core i7-8550U. Each of these are quad-core, HyperThreaded processors, although the frequency changes quite a bit from model to model, so which one they actually chose could matter a bit.
Users can choose between 8GB and 16GB of RAM, although all three CPUs could have allowed 32GB – CPU support and “being able to actually fit it inside a tiny laptop” are two different things, however. In terms of connectivity, it has two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports as well as a single USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 port. That’s a bit light on the USB side of things, but the ability to attach two separate Thunderbolt 3 devices might make up for that. They do not list a 3.5mm audio jack, though.
The Lenovo Yoga S940 will be available in May for $1499 USD.
Next is the Lenovo Yoga C730 with AMOLED. As the name suggests, it’s a laptop with an AMOLED screen, which supports 4K. They also say that the screen supports “100% color gamut” although they don’t claim what gamut that is. They don’t seem to make any HDR claims, either.
In terms of specs, once again we get an unnamed eighth-generation Core i7 processor and an Intel UHD 620 GPU, which could be one of the three processors that I listed in the S940 section, above. Also, the RAM is still limited to 16GB. Unlike the S940 that offered 1TB of PCIe SSD, this one maxes out at 512GB, although that should be a lot for most use cases. It would be a little low for the stuff I do with my work PC, though, such as multiple side-by-side installations of Visual Studio to handle multiple different projects. The S730 has just one Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port, but two USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 ports, as well as an HDMI port and a 3.5mm audio jack.
The Lenovo Yoga C730 with AMOLED will be available in April for $1649.99 USD.
Up next is… not a laptop. The Lenovo Yoga A940 is an all-in-one pen-input device like the Microsoft Surface Studio. It also comes with the Lenovo Precision Dial and the Lenovo Active Pen 1 AES 1.0, which should also be familiar to those who are interested in the Microsoft Surface Studio.
The entire device is powered by an again unnamed Intel eighth-generation Core i7 processor, but this time it comes with an AMD RX 560 GPU to help with content creation tools (and games of course). Users can choose between 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB of RAM. Storage is a choice between 128GB PCIe SSD, 256GB PCIe SSD, 512GB PCIe SSD, 1TB SATA HDD, and 2TB SATA HDD. They don’t say whether a PCIe SSD can be installed alongside a SATA HDD, but I certainly hope so.
The Lenovo Yoga A940 launches in March for $2199.99 USD.
Last up is the Lenovo Yoga Mouse with Laser Presenter. It’s an ultra-thin mouse with a laser pointer built into it. The center can buckle to make an arc-shaped mouse, or it can be pushed flat. The whole device is 1.4cm thin, which is a little over half of an inch. Its sensor tops out at 1600 DPI, which can be reduced to 1200 DPI and 800 DPI if you are more comfortable at one of those speeds. It also has a built-in red laser pointer.
The Lenovo Yoga Mouse with Laser Presenter will be available in June for $69.99 USD.
Subject: Systems, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2019 - 08:00 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, Lenovo, Legion, Intel, geforce, gaming laptop, ces 2019, CES
Three new laptops have been added to Lenovo’s portfolio under their “Legion” gaming brand. All three of them will contain “Unannounced NVIDIA GeForce GPUs”.
The Lenovo Legion Y740 comes in two sizes: 15-inch and 17-inch. Based on the slide deck, both models have the choice between the Intel Core i5-8300H and the Intel Core i7-8750H. The Core i5-8300H is a quad-core CPU with HyperThreading (eight threads) that can turbo up to 4 GHz. The Core i7-8750H is a six-core CPU with HyperThreading (twelve threads) that can turbo up to 4.1 GHz. This can be paired with 8, 16, or 32GB of RAM at 2666MHz, or “8GB + 8GB 3200MHz Corsair Overclocked Memory”.
As for storage, both models can have up to 512GB of PCIe SSD, 512GB of SATA SSD, or 2TB of spinning metal. The 17-inch model can also have an Intel Optane drive added to it, although they don’t list a specific size. Both models also have 1x USB-C connector with support for Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, and USB 3.1. Alongside the USB-C is, also, HDMI, LAN, three standard USB 3.1 Gen 2, and a mini-DisplayPort connector. They also have an RGB keyboard, which, from the picture, appears to be tenkeyless. Both have Dolby sound, but only the 17-inch model also has a subwoofer. They do not list an audio jack, although I see a hole on the left side that could be either audio or a power plug. I think I also see power on the back, so I assume that it is audio on the side. Mobile phones are one thing, but a laptop better have a headphone jack.
The built-in displays are 1080p, which is a good size for a laptop, and support 144 Hz G-Sync @ 300nit. There is also an upsell to a 500nit panel that has been certified for Dolby HDR400. They don’t say whether the upsell also supports 144Hz G-Sync, but I would assume that they do. Check before you buy, though.
Both sizes will be available in February 2019. The 15-inch starts at $1749.99 USD and the 17-inch starts at $1979.99 USD.
The third model is the Lenovo Legion Y540. This one will be available a little bit later – May 2019. Interestingly, the CPU is listed as “Intel Core processors”. As such, I would assume that this laptop will use a new, unannounced processor alongside the unannounced GeForce GPU. Lenovo does mention that the laptop can be paired with up to 32GB of RAM at 2666MHz.
The battery is listed as “52.5Wh & 57Wh (Configuration dependent)”. Since an extra 4.5Wh seems like a tough upsell, I am guessing that battery you receive will be tied to the chosen display, but Lenovo doesn’t say so I don’t know. It looks like there will be a choice between three displays: a 60Hz 1080p IPS panel at 250nits with “45%” color, a 60Hz 1080p IPS panel at 300nits with “72%” color, and a 144Hz IPS panel at 300nits with “72%” color. I put each of the color space percentages in quotations because they don’t list which color space. Since one of them is an HDR panel, I’m going to assume that they don’t mean sRGB… because that would be awful. I am hoping that they are referring to the DCI-P3 color space. They could mean NTSC 1976, although that would be a bit low for an HDR panel.
The laptop has a USB-C port but, unlike the Y740, it can only be used for USB 3.1. There are also three standard USB 3.1 ports, one HDMI port, one mini-DisplayPort, an Ethernet jack, and a 3.5mm audio jack, so you can still attach external monitors to it without the USB-C. They keyboard is backlight, but not RGB – just white.
As mentioned, the Lenovo Legion Y540 will be available in May 2019. It will start at $929.99 USD.
Subject: Displays, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2019 - 08:00 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, Lenovo, g-sync, freesync 2, display, ces 2019, CES, amd
Lenovo has added two monitors to their Legion line of gaming devices.
The Lenovo Legion Y44w is a 43.4” gaming display. Most of that size is horizontal, however, because it has a 32:10 aspect ratio. If you have ever used a 1920x1200 monitor, which was the PC equivalent of 1080p while PC manufacturers believed that 16:9 was too wide so they settled on 16:10 for the Windows Vista era, then you should imagine two of them side-by-side in a single monitor. In fact, the Y44w supports two separate video inputs if you wish to split the monitor down the middle into two side-by-side 1920x1200 displays. It can also operate as a single, 3840x1200 display, of course. This resolution is a little over half of a 4K panel, so it should be easier for second-tier GPUs to feed.
Beyond the resolution, the color gamut is listed as “99% sRGB, BT.709, DCI-P3” and it is certified as VESA HDR400. If the slide deck is correct and it can do 99% DCI-P3 at HDR400, then it should have an amazing picture. It can also do 144 Hz with FreeSync 2, so you do not need to compromise refresh rate to get those beautiful colors. The also have an optional speaker from Harman Kardon that can be attached to the display.
The Lenovo Legion Y44w will be available in April 2019 for $1199.99 USD.
Lenovo also announced the Legion Y27gq gaming monitor. This one is a standard 16:9, 1440p, TN panel that can be driven up to 240 Hz. It supports G-Sync, but not HDR. Despite not supporting HDR, it still covers 90% of DCI-P3, which is quite wide for a TN panel. Lenovo is listing it as an “eSport gaming monitor”… so you can probably guess that high refresh rate and G-Sync are the focus.
If you gotta go fast, then the Lenovo Legion Y27gq is available in April 2019 for $999.99 USD.
CES 2019: Lenovo "Legion" Peripherals: H500 7.1 Pro & H300 Gaming Headsets, K500 RGB Mechanical Keyboard, M500 RGB Mouse
Subject: Cases and Cooling, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2019 - 08:00 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: RGB, mechanical keyboard, Lenovo, Legion, headset, gaming mouse
Lenovo has just announced two new gaming headsets, a gaming mechanical keyboard, and a right-handed gaming mouse.
The Lenovo Legion H500 7.1 Pro Gaming Headset is the high-end of the two announced. For $99.99 USD, the headphones have 50mm drivers in an all-black with black anisotropic metal highlight design. It supports virtual 7.1 surround sound via its USB sound card, although it can also be plugged into 3.5mm analog jacks. The microphone is retractable.
For $59.99 USD, the Lenovo Legion H300 Gaming Headset still has 50mm drivers although it loses the USB sound device with 7.1 surround; it can only attach by 3.5mm, stereo. The headset design is somewhat similar, though, including the retractable microphone.
Moving on to the Lenovo Legion K500 RGB Mechanical Keyboard. This device is based on Cherry MX Red switches, which means you will not feel a click or a bump as the key passes it actuation point. I personally don’t like linear keys, because I don’t like having no feedback until I bottom out, but that is 100% user-preference. The bottom of the keyboard has a full palm rest, which is detachable if you want to save that little bit of room. Its media keys are standard buttons on the top-left of the keyboard. I like how it contributes to the overall simple, clean design, although I would prefer a volume roller or dial. The price is listed as “starting at $99.99” (USD) although I don’t see any upsells listed.
The Lenovo Legion M500 RGB Gaming Mouse uses a 16,000 DPI Pixart sensor and Omron mechanical switches. It also had three-zone RGB lighting and seven programmable buttons. There is also a 10g adjustable weight to customize how it feels to move. It is expected to cost $59.99 USD.
All peripherals are available in April 2019.
Subject: Shows and Expos | January 5, 2019 - 05:25 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: agdq, gdq, agdq 2019, speedrun, charity
Twice each year, Games Done Quick hosts a week-long, 24-hour marathon of games done quick… or blindfolded… or two games done on one controller… etc. The entire event is donation-based, with the money raised going to a specific charity. Typically, the winter event (Awesome Games Done Quick) raises money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation and the summer event (Summer Games Done Quick) benefits Doctors Without Borders.
Awesome Games Done Quick 2019 continues with the Prevent Cancer Foundation. The last two AGDQ events brought in over $2.2 million USD, and the most recent Summer Games Done Quick was just under $2.2 million USD.
The whole schedule is available at their website. One interesting slot should be Friday evening’s TASBot plays mari0, which is Super Mario Bros. 1 with a Portal gun on custom levels. TASBot blocks also sometimes contain innocent-looking segments that are much more entertaining than they let on. For example, one year TASBot played Pokémon Red, although “playing” actually meant overloading the game’s controller input and using that memory access to install a Twitch chat client. As such, it’s always a good idea to watch the entire TAS block... just in case.
I also want to check out The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past 1-Hit K.O. block on Saturday early afternoon. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars was also entertaining in the past, and it’s being run again on Tuesday evening.
The Esports Stadium Arlington
On Monday, November 19, we were invited to partake in the unveiling of North Texas' latest technological marvel, the Esports Stadium Arlington. Arlington is already a well known sports destination, hosting both the Dallas Cowboys at the AT&T Stadium, and the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park. The city partnered with Populous and NGAGE Esports to construct the largest eSports venue in North America, hoping to make Arlington (and North Dallas) a hub for eSports in addition to its well-known sports stature.
Populous was chosen for their expertise in designing cutting edge sports-related venues with NGAGE Esports providing the eSports and gaming-related tweaks to make the venue a reality. The Esports Stadium Arlington is a 100,000 square foot space within the existing Arlington Convention Center complex with seating to accommodate a 2,500 person crowd watching the matches on its 85 foot long LED wall screen above the competition area.
From the initial approach to the venue, it is obvious how much importance Arlington is putting behind its new Esports Stadium Arlington. It has top billing on the venue sign as well as an LED screen scrolling announcements for upcoming events at the venue. The venue's kickoff event will be a CSO League event occurring over the Thanksgiving weekend (Nov 24 - 25).
Upon entering the venue, you are greeting with a large and brightly lit space with no doubt left as to its eSports-centered use. There are hanging banners with the venues core themes - Fan, Player, Icon, as well as a large name plaque with the venue's logo, a mural with various eSport-related highlights, and a fully stocked merchandise section. The merchandise section has various gamer wear, as well as video cards and peripherals, on display and for sale for those interested.
Upon entering the Esports complex proper, you first enter the gaming area containing various console and PC gaming areas where both the general public and teams to play their chosen titles of choice. They even have console style stations where players can get the true 1-v-1 experience.
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
A few weeks back, GIGABYTE hosted several press outlets and retailer partners in Miami to unveil their latest product offerings, centered around their Intel Z390-based motherboard and NVIDIA RTX 20 series graphics card lines. On display was the normal assortment of channel, gaming, and enthusiast-class boards and graphics cards, in addition to some other products that you would not normally associate with GIGABYTE. They are beginning to push the boundaries of their product lines with everything from in-house developed PSUs and memory to hard drives and case fans. They even had a few PCIe-base M.2 RAID cards on hand. All-in-all, GIGABYTE is pushing into the run up to Christmas and 2019 swinging for the fences.
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
Among the changes covered was the revamping of their product lines and naming conventions to make it easier for consumers to know what they're paying for across each product line. The motherboard line will consist of the AORUS line at the top, split into enthusiast and gaming tiers, the mid-tier GIGABYTE Gaming line, and the Ultra Durable (UD) Series for their base tier. Similarly, their graphics lines will be split across the AORUS line at the top, the GIGABYTE Gaming OC line as their mid-tier offering, and their Windforce OC and Turbo OC lines as their lower-tier offerings.
AORUS Motherboard Specs
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
With the release of the Intel Z390 chipset, GIGABYTE worked hard to equalize their board series and models so that users didn't feel forced to buy the highest end boards to get all the latest and greatest features. As exemplified in their AORUS board line, all boards share Intel-based GIGE LAN controllers, GEN1 and GEN2 USB 3.1 controllers, and at least two on-board M.2 ports (even on their mini-ITX board). The differentiation comes in the form of added integrated ports and enhanced cooling for the VRMs and chipset, allowing for more targeted overclocking ceilings.
20-Series Graphics Cards Specs
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
Their 20-series graphics cards lines share the same reconfiguration of their branding and design with all cards within a card family (families being 2070 / 2080 / 2080Ti) sharing common features and base level design decisions. The higher end cards in each of the product families have enhanced power capabilities and cooling potential for the enthusiasts wanting to squeeze that last bit of FPS out of their system.
Subject: Shows and Expos | August 29, 2018 - 02:27 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Swift 5, Predator XB273K, OJO 500, Nitro XV273K, g-sync, freesync, aspire, acer
Acer announced a variety of new products at IFA, from monitors to laptops by way of a gaming throne. First up are a pair of monitors, the G-Sync Predator XB273K and FreeSync Nitro XV273K and two other models. The 4k IPS Predator sports an impressive 144Hz top refresh rate, with a variety of Acer VisionCare features to reduce eyestrain.
The Nitro series support FreeSync, and come in three models, a 4k IPS display and two 2560×1440 models, one IPS and one TN. All three monitors can match the 144Hz top refresh rate of the Predator. Purists will be a little disappointed that all four of these monitors were designed to the VESA DisplayHDR 400 standard.
A wide variety of laptops were revealed, including the Swift 5 which is the lightest 15" laptop on the market. The magnesium-lithium alloy construction of the body keeps the weight to 990g (2.2lbs), which is lighter than most high end CPU heatsinks. Inside you can choose from a i7-8565U or Core
i5-8265U, up to 16GB DDR4 and an NVMe SSD.
Their Aspire lineup has been updated with the Aspire 7 series featuring the Intel i7-8705G or or i5-8305G processor both of which have AMD's Radeon RX Vega M GL graphics onboard. The Aspire 5 will offer a choice of 8th gen Amber Lake-Y or Whiskey Lake-U chips paired with NVIDIA's GeForce MX150 GP while the Aspire 3 line will offer a low cost laptop for students, with the choice to include an optical drive.
If you are looking for an all-in-one, the Aspire Z 24 is a impressive implementation of that form factor. Hidden behind the 1080p 10 point touchscreen is a Whiskey Lake-U processor paired with a GeForce MX15 and even support for up to 32GB of Optane memory. It is designed to be controllable from up to 4 metres away, offering more than just a small footprint on a work desk.
Last but not least is the OJO 500 Mixed Reality headset. The two screens combine to offer a 100 degree FOV at a 2880 x 1440 resolution with up to a 90Hz refresh rate. Acer chose to include small speakers in the headset as opposed to integrated headphones, in keeping with the mixed reality nature of the headset. The headset and two Bluetooth controllers will sell for $399US and will be compatible with Steam as well as Windows 10.
This is a Thronos, in which a Predator desktop PC and three screens can prevent any chance of human interaction.