The final day of March is here, and if you're in need of storage, do we have you covered today. There are multiple looks at the Samsung 850 EVO M.2 and mSATA SSDs, including ones up to 1TB in capacity. We also have the Crucial BX100 SSD, which should appeal to those constantly on the lookout for the best price/performance drive. Shifting gears a little is the HIS Multi-View X2 USB Docking Station, which can run two extra displays and also features more ports to keep your laptop well-connected. Finishing off for the day is a look at 20 of the worst PC setups from the month of March.
When Grand Theft Auto V releases for the PC in April, it will feature a number of changes. While the improved graphics are probably what most people are focused on, the PC release will also include a new in-game radio station named The Lab. Now some of the music that station will play can be pre-ordered at iTunes, as part of the Welcome To Los Santos album.
The album was created and compiled by Alchemist and Oh No, and includes 14 original tracks. The music spans various artists and genres, including hip-hop, electronica, rock, and more. It will be available on CD, digital download, and vinyl on April 21, one week after the GTA V releases for the PC.
The displays for our phones and computers are our windows into the virtual and real worlds, so naturally we want to always have access to them and have them always look good. To that end, many are working on new technologies, including some to make flexible screens you can unroll when desired. Often such displays use organic components, but researchers at Tel Aviv University have gone a bit farther with that by employing DNA-like molecules.
For this work, the researchers started with peptides, short protein fragments essential to all life on Earth, attached to DNA elements. The DNA was to give the new molecules the ability to self-assemble, and three of those developed did so in just minutes. The resulting structures are similar in form to actual DNA, but still possess peptide properties. The researchers next tried adding fluorescent dyes that will bind to the DNA fragments, but it turned out this was not necessary, as the molecules naturally fluoresced at every color, instead of just one, and did so in response to a voltage.
These molecules naturally have applications with opto-electronics, such as new, organic displays. As the molecules can directly emit any color of light, this would allow the pixel layer to be just one layer thick, unlike modern displays, while also being flexible. That single layer also helps keep the costs down.
Google has pushed an update for its Android Gmail application, bringing various improvements to those who utilize the service. The biggest improvement included with the latest Gmail update is a unified inbox that houses all email accounts, allowing users who have multiple Gmail addresses, POP/IMAP mail, and even Exchange server mail to view everything from one area. Users who want the ability to separate messages based on which account they are associated with can still do so from an easy to access drop-down menu. The updated version of Gmail for Android also includes faster and more intelligent autocomplete results for search, refined animations throughout, and larger preview attachments that allow users to view documents and media without actually opening the files.
It was recently reported that NVIDIA is actively working on the GeForce GTX 980 Ti, a modified version of the recently released GM200-powered TITAN X. The card is expected to feature 6GB of memory, different clock speeds, and custom PCBs and cooling solutions from video card manufacturers, offering consumers with outstanding performance. According to sources, NVIDIA has recently adjusted the launch of its latest card to sometime after the summer season is over. While no official word has been given in regards to the reasoning behind the adjusted launch time frame, the decision to push back the release of the GeForce GTX 980 Ti may be due to the upcoming release of the Radeon R9 390X, which is currently scheduled to be available in June or July.
While the launch time frame of the upcoming GeForce GTX 980 Ti has been changed, pricing information still remains unavailable at this time.
ASUS has revealed through social media that it is currently working on a new flagship NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 that will feature the company’s renowned ROG branding. The upcoming graphics card, which is being labeled as a 20th anniversary gold edition, will apparently feature core clock speeds even greater than the fastest GeForce GTX 980 currently available from ASUS. Currently, the ROG Matrix Platinum GTX 980 that features a base clock of 1241MHz and a boost clock of 1342MHz if the fastest GTX 980 that the company offers, but with ASUS asking its social media fans to “guess the core clock” on its upcoming GPU, the ROG Matrix Gold Edition GeForce GTX 980 is likely to feature even higher clock speeds.
The Knights Landing Xeon Phi co-processor is the latest entry from Intel into the high performance computing market, taking on established products such as the NVIDIA Tesla and IBM Power8. Knights Landing will be available in three products, a co-processor, a standalone processor, and a standalone processor with integrated fabric. All three units will be able to achieve double precision floating point performance in excess of 3 teraflops using a Many Integrated Core design built with up to eight billion transistors. The 14nm chips are from the Silvermont family and will have access to up to 16GB of on-board DDR4 memory with a maximum bandwidth of 400GB/s. The Knights Landing products are expected to be available in the second half of this year.
Kingston has announced the fourth generation HS4 All-In-One Media Reader, capable of reading all major flash memory formats. The HS4 improves on the previous generation by adding support for the latest SD card speeds including UHS-I, UHS-II, and CompactFlash Type I and II. The USB 3.0 interface provides for transfer speeds up to 5Gb/s, while backwards compatibility ensures that users with older systems can also use the HS4. As part of the announcement Kingston also revealed the addition of a 64GB version of the CF Ultimate 600x card, offering transfer speeds up to 90MB/s. Flash memory business manager Jean Wong said, "HS4 All-In-One Media Reader is a great device to quickly move data between multiple devices whether at home or on the road."
Atomic clocks are the most accurate clocks in the world, but even though they would have only lost a minute since the Big Bang, researchers are still pushing for still more accurate versions. One way to achieve that is to entangle the atoms used by the clock, but entangling more than just pairs of atoms is difficult. Researchers at MIT however have found that they can entangle some 3000 atoms at a time, with a single photon.
Atomic clocks work by exploiting the fact that atoms will vibrate at a specific frequency, under the right circumstances. These vibrations are measured by firing a laser through a cloud of atoms. By adding more atoms to the cloud, the accuracy of the clock is increased, but normally the increase is related to the square root of the number of atoms. That is unless the atoms are entangled, and then the increase is directly proportional. What the MIT researchers did is fire a very weak laser beam through a cloud of atoms and watched the atoms' polarizations. They reasoned that any deviation to a photon's polarization is the result of it interacting with the atoms' spins, and the amount it changes depends on the number of atoms spinning in one direction or the other. Occasionally though the researchers detected a photon that had its polarization made perpendicular, which had to have been done by the ensemble of atoms, and by detecting that photon, the ensemble would enter a strong entangled state.
While the researchers were looking for ways to improve atomic clocks, this research could have implications in other quantum systems, such as quantum communication and the sensing of magnetic fields.
Sony's Music Unlimited service closed its doors yesterday, which paved the way for Spotify to take its place. A couple months back, a partnership between Sony and Spotify was announced, and today things have come to fruition. Spotify is now available on the PlayStation 4 and PS3, bringing with it all the music you can possibly desire. PS4 users will find PlayStation Music with Spotify directly on the launcher, while PS3 users will need to navigate to the Music section on the XMB. Once you load up the app, you can sign up for an account, or either log in through Spotify Connect on your smartphone or by entering your username and password. You can then link up your accounts to bring over all your playlists, saved music, and enjoy any benefits of a subscription, if you have one.
The Spotify interface should be familiar to anyone already using Spotify, and of course any PS4 users. You start off in the "Browse" section that can highlight new artists or the different genres, but can jump over to "Your Music" to access playlists and the like. However, you can't sort by artist in the "Your Music" section; only by playlist. The search function is full featured and extensive, so you can find whatever artist or song that way.
On the PlayStation 4, you can listen to music while you're gaming and get a custom soundtrack going for nearly every game. If you've played a game for the hundredth time and want some new music playing, now you're able to. That alone should make many PS4 users very happy, since the system cannot play music CDs and you're effectively stuck with whatever music the game comes with. PS3 users won't be able to take advantage of that feature, but everything else between the consoles is the same. Sadly there is no mention of Spotify for the PS Vita, and with Music Unlimited gone, hopefully you have some music stored on a memory card.
Former subscribers of Music Unlimited can receive two months of Spotify Premium for free, while any new Spotify users get one month of Premium for free. Both Sony and Spotify have plans to expand the service on PlayStation, so maybe before long we'll be able to sort by artists when going through our music.
AMD was recently at the PC Cluster Constorium in Osaka, Japan, and revealed its CPU, APU, and GPU roadmap for the next five years. It is a rather nice look at what exactly AMD has in store, and while the pictures aren't of the greatest quality, it does provide a look into what the company has up its sleeves. A pair of CPUs has been planned to arrive early next year, with Zen being an x86 64-bit part, and the K12 a 64-bit ARMv8 part. Both products will be 14nm FinFET CPUs aimed at the server, embedded, semi-custom, and client markets.
The interesting thing about these two products is how they'll support "many threads," which should mean AMD is adding in simultaneous multi-threading (SMT) instead of clustered multi-threading (CMT) like on the Bulldozer line. SMT essentially allows for one fast thread and one slower thread, while CMT allows for two equally fast threads. For single-thread applications, SMT is the way to go, while CMT is best for mutli-threaded apps. With the new CPUs apparently supporting many threads, maybe AMD is using SMT to support more than just that one extra thread, which could put it above Intel.
On the GPU side, it sadly does not cover the discrete cards, but rather how the GPUs will be updated in the APUs. AMD is planning to update its GPU architecture in the APUs every two years, so don't freak out by that because it does mean a new discrete card line will launch every two years; this is strictly for APUs. Arriving in 2017 will be something called a High Performance Computing APU, or HPC as seen on the roadmap. The HPC APUs will evidently have a TDP between 200 and 300 watts, which definitely puts them up there in terms of powerful CPUs. A high-powered APU was not attempted before due to memory limitations, but with the likes of stacked High Bandwidth Memory (HBM), like expected on the company's upcoming graphics cards, an HPC APU is certainly possible.
Roadmaps with greater detail should be coming in May during AMD's Financial Analyst Day event, so keep it tuned for that.
The last couple days of March are upon us, and we have plenty of reviews to help kick off the week. There is a look at the SilverStone Raven RV01 case, an updated version of the original model that looks to refine it. We also have the HyperX Predator 480GB M.2 PCIe SSD, which offers plenty of storage and fast speeds in a fairly small size. If you need even more storage, then the Silicon Power Stream S06 4TB USB 3.0 HDD is the one for you. The Tt eSPORTS Black V2 gaming mouse gets tested to see how this improved model can help out your games. Finishing off for the day is a comparison of NVIDIA G-Sync and AMD FreeSync, and exactly how the two technologies are different.
While glass most often refers to the material used to make windows, there are many other materials that are glasses, such as obsidian (volcanic glass) and metal glasses. Some glasses are even made of carbon compounds, so they are called organic glasses and they have various applications. For some applications though, they are less efficient than inorganic counterparts, but researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have made a discovery that could change that.
Organic glasses are made using a vapor deposition process, where the molecules are evaporated at high temperature, and then condense on a substrate, forming ultrathin layers. What the researchers found is a way to alter the properties of the glass, by influencing the orientation of the molecules. This was accomplished by manipulating the temperature of the substrate. The result is organic glasses that can be more efficient and durable than currently available technologies.
Organic glasses are already used in some devices, as they are used in OLEDs, but this work could improve their use in organic solar cells by increasing their efficiency. These solar cells have the potential to be much cheaper and more resilient than modern, crystalline silicon solar cells, but have proven less efficient so far.
Starting in February of this year, Microsoft made its Windows 10 Preview program available for a limited number of smartphones. The small number of smartphones that were listed as compatible with the technical preview program was due to the system partition sizes configured by manufacturers simply being too small. In order to make Windows 10 available on additional smartphones, Microsoft had to work on a feature known as Partition Stitching, which allows partitions to be resized to support the upgrade. With work on this feature now complete, Microsoft has announced that its Windows 10 Technical Preview is now compatible with a total of 36 Lumia models. While this number may change based on device specific bugs, making the full list preliminary, it is nice to see that additional devices are supported with the next flight.
The ASSASSIN II CPU cooler has just been introduced by DEEPCOOL, a company dedicated to providing consumers with the best laptop coolers, CPU coolers, computer cases, and PC power supplies. The ASSASSIN II is quite similar to the recently announced GamerStorm Assassin II CPU cooler, and is the successor to the original Assassin CPU cooler that was released in 2011. The ASSASSIN II features an asymmetric twin-tower design, nickel-plating, a mirror finished base, and eight high-performance heatpipes, all of which ensure maximum thermal performance. DEEPCOOL has also included dual FDB bearings and rubber-covered fans with PWM function with its latest high-performance CPU cooler.
Featuring an MSRP of $89.99, the DEEPCOOL ASSASSIN II is expected to be available early next month.
3DMark's new API Overhead Test allows for multiple APIs to be tested on one GPU, provided the GPU and OS supports DirectX 11, 12, and/or Mantle. AMD also has APUs that should be fully capable of running the API Overhead Test, and that is precisely what the company recently did. The Radeon R9 290X and R7 260X were tested, as were the A10-7850K and FX-8350 processors. The video cards were tested on DirectX 11 and 12, with the hardware efficiency being the key element to show just what kind of gains to expect from jumping to the new standard. It is certainly a massive jump, with up to 16 times more graphics throughput on DX12. On the A10-7850K APU, AMD decided to test the performance/watt capabilities on DX11 and 12, and once again, the gains for DX12 are impressive. Lastly there's the FX-8350 processor and how well DX12 scales with multiple cores compared to DX11. Try not to be shocked at the boost offered by DX12.
All in all, it definitely looks like DirectX 12, with its low overhead design, will be a winner once it arrives with Windows 10. Just remember, you do need to be running Windows 10 to enjoy DirectX 12, as it's exclusive to Microsoft's new OS.
The 20nm manufacturing process is supposed to be the next step, with AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel releasing parts with it. So far only Intel has done anything, as it has used the similar 22nm process on Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge, and even the new 14nm process on Broadwell. However, GPUs from both NVIDIA and AMD, and CPUs/APUs from AMD, have only dropped down to 28nm. The mobile processor from NVIDIA, the Tegra X1, is 20nm, however. AMD was supposed to have 20nm parts out by now, and even NVIDIA's Titan X card is still on the 28nm process (hopefully 22/20nm for the Pascal line), but so far nothing. Recently some news has come out from the AMD side, and it looks like we'll have 20nm AMD APUs and SoCs, part of the company's Project Skybridge initiative, in the second half of this year. It may even extend to the AMD video card stack, but first will be the APU/SoC products.
AMD's first 20nm parts are projected to be the Amur line, which will come in both x86 and ARM flavors. The Amur line is aimed at the low power market, like the Intel Bay Trail and upcoming Cherry Trail, but will be the followup to the Nolan line, which AMD has repurposed as the Carrizo-L APUs on the 28nm process. Unfortunately, one wrinkle in the whole thing is that AMD has apparently not even begun using TSMC's 20nm process for the chips. Production usually kicks off months before release anyway, but the earliest the 20nm chips can launch will be anytime from July to the end of this year. AMD does plan for these chips to be in notebooks, tablets, and even Android devices thanks to HSA support and the GCN architecture; just not anytime soon.
AMD has yet to fully disclose when and what exactly its upcoming R9/R7 300 series will be like, but there have been some rumors providingvariousdetails. Now there's a new rumor, and is it a big one. The flagship product in the R9 300 series, the Fiji XT card, will apparently feature 8GB of HBM and be a dual GPU monster; 4GB of HBM per core. So yes, if this rumor proves true, it seems the flagship card will feature two Fiji XT GPUs on the same PCB, with 4GB of HBM per core. It is been thought the flagship card would be the R9 390X, but maybe that won't be the case here. Maybe we'll have the R9 390X as a high-powered single GPU card using a Fiji non-XT core, or maybe the R9 390X was merely an expected jump and not the true flagship. Perhaps we'll get something else, like an R9 395X or R9 39X2, that is the true flagship, dual GPU beast.
One other element that may lead credence to this new rumor is the recent trend in VR and the Oculus Rift Crescent Bay demo that was supposedly powered by an unknown Radeon flagship. A Liquid VR slide mentioned two GPUs were needed for asynchronous rendering and something called an Affinity Multi GPU. Is that unknown flagship this dual GPU Fiji XT or something AMD is working on for the future? We'll just have to wait and see exactly what AMD has in store for us, hopefully at Computex in June.
Intel and Micron have teamed up to create a new generation of NAND architecture with the goal of improving chip density and drive capacity. The technology is known as 3D NAND and stacks memory cells vertically rather than horizontally, similar to the V-NAND solution from Samsung. With the new technology, each memory die can fit up to 48GB allowing for 3.5TB to fit in the M.2 form factor or 10TB in a 2.5" SSD. Intel is planning to release its own drives based on the technology sometime in the near future, with other manufacturers receiving sample chips to make their own drives as well.
Killing Floor 2 was first announced roughly one year ago and it appears that the game is getting close to becoming available. PC Gamer sat down with Tripwire co-founders John Gibson and Bill Munk for the PC Gamer Show to play through the game and talk about the past year of development. Killing Floor 2 will be making its way into the Steam Early Access program "in the near future" and I can't wait to get my hands on it. Watch the video below for all the details.
In less than a month the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V releases, 19 months after the title's original release, and five months after the versions for current-gen consoles released. Despite its console origins though, developer Rockstar has been working to optimize the game for the latest PC hardware and add support for new features and technologies. Among these is support for 4K resolution, which is being shown off in 15 new screens covering several in-game environments. (Below are the images at 1080 while the source has full-size versions.)
The end of another week has arrived, and very nearly the end of March, and we have some items for you to check out before the weekend hits. There is a review of the Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV ITX case, which is an even smaller variant of the EVOLV. We also have LUXA2 Lavi D Bluetooth headphones, which features 40mm drivers and are designed to give you a pure music experience. There is a look at how cutting the cable cord has panned out, with TV needs being satisfied with online and sports with Sling TV. Finishing off the week is a podcast covering the latest news and reviews.
Bug testing software can be very difficult and chances are a tester or analyst is going to miss some, so it is understandable that software tools have been developed to aid in the hunt. One of the more common bugs in software is integer overflow, and researchers at MIT have developed a new tool for finding it.
By the nature of computers, there are limits on the data that can be stored, but sometimes a program may exceed that limit. In the case of integers, when that happens the number will just rollover to the beginning, like a car's odometer. In many instances that might not be a serious issue, but sometimes it can be, and many bugs can also be exploited. To hunt them down, the MIT researchers developed Directed Integer Overflow Detection (DIODE) to track a sample input through a program by adding onto its symbolic expression. Even though the sample input will not cause an overflow, DIODE is able to analyze the symbolic expression to determine an input that will. That input is then tested, as checks are likely in place to prevent such inputs, but it will continue until it finds an input that will get through, or concludes an overflow is impossible.
To test DIODE, the researchers ran it and other algorithms on five open-source programs. The other algorithms identified three overflow bugs and DIODE found those three, and 11 more. DIODE does not need the program to be open source though, and can run on the binary of a program, so even a user could run it and report their findings to the developers.
MSI, one of the world's largest information technology manufacturers, has officially introduced three new all-in-one gaming computers. The latest products from MSI, which include the MSI AG270 3K, MSI Gaming 24GE IPS, and MSI Gaming 24GE 4K, feature the latest Intel Core i7 and i5 processors and NVIDIA GeForce GTX960M and GTX970M graphics, providing gamers with ultimate performance. All three all-in-one gaming computers from MSI include Killer Networking technology, which recognizes online game data packs and processes them first, as well as Nahimic sound technology, which provides virtual surround sound, frequency leveling, bass boost, and noise reduction with voice leveling when gaming with a headphone. The three recently introduced all-in-one gaming PCs from MSI also include Super RAID functionality and come bundled with a six-month premium license for XSplit Gamecaster.
The MSI AG270 3K, MSI Gaming 24GE IPS, and MSI Gaming 24GE 4K are expected to be available worldwide in the first week of April, 2015.
According to SweClockers, NVIDIA is currently preparing the GeForce GTX 980 Ti, a reduced version of the GM200-powered TITAN X that was released earlier this month. The Ti version of the amazingly efficient and widely popular GeForce GTX 980 is slated to feature 6GB of framebuffer and be around 10 percent faster than the TITAN X. Moreover, the GeForce GTX 980 Ti will be capable of featuring custom PCBs and cooling solutions from various manufacturers, allowing the GM200 card to offer users with even better performance as well as cooler temperatures when compared with the already available GeForce GTX 980.
NVIDIA is expected to release the GeForce GTX 980 Ti during the second half of this year, following the launch of the Radeon R9 390X by AMD.
New research that focuses around the research budget of AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA, shows that the research budget for AMD is currently the lowest it has been in the last 10 years. The data shows that Intel’s quarterly budget of 3 billion dollars is 12 times as high as AMD’s budget, which currently sits at 238 million dollars. While the research and development budget for Intel includes costs of maintaining its own fabrication facility, something that AMD does not have to worry about, the data shows just how much of a difference each company’s budget is. Even when compared with NVIDIA, AMD has a budget that is 110 million dollars less.
With AMD facing fierce competition in the CPU market from Intel, as well as brutal competition in the GPU market from NVIDIA, it will be interesting to see how the research and development budget going forward changes for the California-based company.
Amazon has announced a pair of new cloud storage options targeted at different levels of storage needs. For $11.99 per year users will be able to store unlimited photos and 5GB of other data. A $59.99 per year option will provide unlimited storage of any files in the Cloud Drive. A three month trial is included in both plans to help evaluate its usefulness. Director of the Amazon Cloud Drive Josh Petersen described the move stating, "With the two new plans we are introducing today, customers don’t need to worry about storage space—they now have an affordable, secure solution to store unlimited amounts of photos, videos, movies, music, and files in one convenient place."
Chances are you have created a password somewhere on the Internet, and there is even a good chance that you were presented with a strength meter of some kind. These are a fairly common tool for encouraging users to create strong passwords by indicating how strong one may be, but just how strong are the meters? Not very, according to researchers at Concordia University, who tested meters for multiple systems, including Google, Yahoo!, Dropbox, Twitter, and Skype, as well as some password managers.
What the researchers found is significant inconsistencies across these services as some would declare a password strong while another would say it is weak. They also found inconsistencies with what was acceptable, as one service may demand multiple character sets be used (letters, numbers, and symbols) while others would be okay just letters. The researchers point out that such weaknesses and inconsistencies can confuse users and make it harder for them to develop actual, stronger passwords. One suggestion the researchers have is to use something at least similar to Dropbox's strength meter, which actually compares passwords against a dictionary and marks any commonly found word as weak, thereby prompting users to be a bit more creative.
The researchers did contact the various companies they tested about their study, but even a year later, significant changes have not been made. Still though, perhaps with this study it may be possible to develop better strength meters for the future.
Everyone loves to win prizes, regardless of the type of item up for grabs. Today we have an extremely nice item to win, as our sister site Neoseeker is giving away an ECS LIVA X Mini PC! The LIVA X Mini PC (read the OCC review here) is a snazzy little device that packs an Intel Bay Trail-M SoC, either 2GB or 4GB of DDR3L RAM, 32GB or 64GB of storage, Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI out, VGA out, two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, Realtek HD Audio, and is small enough to mount behind a monitor or TV thanks to the VESA mounts. All of this is in something around the size of modern smartphones, which is quite impressive. The LIVA X can run Windows 7, 8.1, and even Linux, so all your OS needs should be met.
The contest runs from now until April 11 and does require Facebook, and is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. All you have to do is navigate over to the Neoseeker Facebook post, leave a comment explaining why you should win the LIVA X, and tag both Neoseeker and ECS USA in the comment. It is as simple as that!
There are just a couple of items to get to on this Thursday, but both should be of interest. We have a review on the OCZ Vector 180 SSD, with all three capacities getting put to the test. Whether you are thinking of getting the 240, 480, or 960GB model, all three are included in the review to see what kind of performance difference, if any, is there. The other item for the day is a preview of the new DirectX 12 test featured in the new 3DMark API Overhead Feature Test. This feature test is merely a preview of the next version of 3DMark that will likely debut alongside Windows 10, and allows for testing of DirectX 11, 12, and Mantle.