OCC TECH NEWS
Alright folks, it's December, which means OverclockersClub's Christmas Contest is under way! It is starting a bit later this year because our head honcho, Bosco, hasn't been feeling too great, but nevertheless our Christmas Contest has arrived. We have a ton of great prizes to give away this year, with cases, memory, solid state drives, flash drives, CPU coolers, fans, and oh so much more to give out. Prizes from Thermaltake, Kingston, BitFenix, OCZ, DimasTech, Corsair, REEVEN, Tesoro, be quiet!, Phanteks, XTracGear, and Patriot are all up for grabs, and we're even throwing in some games from yours truly.
All you need to do to enter is send an email to [email protected] (subject of "OCC 2014 Christmas Contest") with your user name; full system specifications; and full contact information, which includes your name, mailing address, and phone number. Your email must have all those elements to it or else you'll be disqualified, so be sure everything is correct before hitting send. The contest is open worldwide and to everyone, including OCC staff.
The OCC 2014 Christmas Contest runs until December 31, so be sure to get your entries in by then! Good luck to everyone who enters, and a very happy holidays from all of us at OCC.
December 19, 2014
Hydrogen is the simplest and most common element in the Universe, as it consists of one proton surrounded by one electron. This simplicity has made it invaluable for testing theories that involve extreme situations. Now it has been discovered by researchers at the Carnegie Institution that under extreme pressure, hydrogen behaves unlike previous theories suggested.
At extreme pressures between 2 and 3.5 million times normal air pressure, it was believed that hydrogen would resemble a conductive metal, with atoms packed closely together. Instead, hydrogen has been observed to form layered sheets similar to graphene at these high pressures. Graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms, where the atoms are arranged in a hexagonal structure, like chicken wire. This structure for hydrogen was actually theorized thirty years ago, but most were expecting the metal-like structure predict in the 1930s.
The hydrogen atoms bonded this way because the rings of hydrogen actually possess intrinsic stability. This indicates that chemical bonding still occurs under more conditions than most believed, though of course the effects of these bonds can be very different from what we normally observe.
Source: Carnegie Institution
The end of the week has arrived, and with it comes plenty of items for you to check out. We have a review on the ASUS Crosshair V Formula-Z motherboard for those on the AM3+ socket, and the GIGABYTE X99 Gaming G1 WIFI motherboard for those on Intel's LGA2011-v3 socket. Lian Li's new PC-O5S case gets put to the test to see how it will handle your gear, as well as show it off thanks to that large side window. There is a look at the MSI AG270 2QE-037US gaming AIO, which packs a Core i7 and GTX 980M into the 27" body. Razer's Taipan ambidextrous gaming mouse gets reviewed for those in need of a new way to control their games. If you need a new media player for your home theater, then perhaps the Pivos XIOS XS is the one for you. Wrapping up the week is a podcast looking back at the latest news and reviews.
ASUS Crosshair V Formula-Z @ LanOC Reviews
GIGABYTE X99 Gaming G1 WIFI @ PC Perspective
Lian Li PC-O5S @ TechSpot
Razer Taipan Ambidextrous Gaming Mouse @ Benchmark Reviews
MSI AG270 2QE-037US Gaming AIO @ PC Perspective
Pivos XIOS XS Media Player @ ThinkComputers
Podcast #330 @ PC Perspective
Ting, a mobile virtual network operator that uses the Sprint network to offer customers low cost pay for what you use plans, has announced that it is expanding to offer home and business Internet access through fiber. The announcement comes after Ting purchased a majority stake in Blue Ridge InternetWorks, an independent Internet service provider located in Charlottesville, Virginia. Blue Ridge InternetWorks already has a fiber network in place, and the merger of Ting allows the company to receive the technical and financial support needed to start the project of offering gigabit fiber optic Internet access to homes and business at a low price. According to Ting, both companies believe in providing hands-off quality Internet with remarkable customer service, a combination that not only facilitates fair pricing, but a shockingly human experience.
While Charlottesville, Virginia is the first location that Ting is offering gigabit Internet access speeds to homes and businesses, the company plans to continue its expansion to additional cities in the future.
Source: Ting Blog
Comcast is looking to change the way that its customers interact with its customer service team by integrating a new call back feature within its XFINITY My Account mobile application. The feature, which is available after going through an interactive troubleshooting guide, allows Comcast customers to enter their phone number and select the time that they want a customer service representative to call them. For customers who wish to get their issue resolved without talking on the phone, the updated XFINITY My Account application also allows individuals to chat with a customer service representative through Twitter. A photograph of the issue can even be uploaded to the social networking service so that a Comcast representative can see the issue from the perspective of the customer. The Senior Vice President of Customer Experience at Comcast, Charlie Herrin, stated that "We’re working hard to make sure we are serving our customers as quickly as possible across all our channels."
Source: Comcast Voices
It is possible that within our lifetimes we will see electronics replaced by another technology field, and one possible replacement is spintronics. Instead of using the charge of electrons, spintronics would utilize their innate magnetic properties, which is not simple. Researchers at Berkeley Lab and Cornell University however, have recently succeeded in flipping the magnetization of a spintronic device at room temperature, using an electric field.
While electrons do represent a single electrical pole, they still have two magnetic poles thanks to their spin. By manipulating the orientation of their spin, it should be possible to store and process information, which is the idea behind spintronics. Because spin is a characteristic of electrons, this could be done with far less energy than conventional electronics. Of course none of that will matter if spintronics cannot be brought out of laboratories. The researchers were working with a multiferroic material, which means it has a combination of electric and magnetic properties coexisting, and found they could switch its magnetism using an electric field, instead of an electric current. The field requires about a tenth the energy needed for a current to achieve the same.
The multiferroic material used was bismuth ferrite, which is the only one known to be thermodynamically at room temperature. It had been thought there were barriers to prevent the switching achieved, but the two-step process the researchers found made it possible.
Source: Berkeley Lab
Samsung has revealed that it is shutting down its instant messaging service known as ChatOn. The service, which launched in 2011 and is currently available in more than 200 countries, boasted late last year that it had 100 million users. Compared to competitors like WhatsApp, Viber, Kik, and even Facebook Messenger, however, ChatOn simply is not competing well in the mobile instant messaging market. According to Samsung, the service is being shut down globally on February 1, 2015 due to the company’s focus shifting towards its core services. Users of Samsung ChatOn within the United States will be able to use the service for an unknown amount of time after the global shutdown on February 1, 2015, as Samsung is obligated to keep the service available within the United States due to existing contractual obligations with various mobile carriers.
December 18, 2014
Yahoo first announced that it was working on an end-to-end encryption service based on the Google PGP Plugin at Black Hat 2014. The PGP Plugin was initially unveiled by Google in June, and since the Yahoo announcement the two companies have been working together to move the project forward. As of today the Google project has been moved from its internal code repository to GitHub, allowing for better peer review among security researchers. Also revealed is that Yahoo chief security officer Alex Stamos is officially working on the project rather than simply making contributions. The two companies are currently attempting to make the End-to-End encryption service work between Yahoo mail and Gmail. Google plans to add the service to the Chrome Web Store after it becomes more stable.
It was announced earlier this month that Capcom was working on Street Fighter V and that it would be available exclusively on PC and PlayStation 4. Capcom and Epic Games revealed earlier today that the game will be built using the Unreal Engine 4, joining other upcoming high profile games such as Dead Island 2 and Kingdom Hearts 3 in using the next gen engine. It will be interesting to see what graphical heights the game can reach with the advanced features of the Unreal Engine 4.
Right now, medical labs are very important because they can be the only places with the technology needed to identify a patient's disease. This can be problematic though, as it restricts access to these tests, which is why many are working on advanced devices to brings these tests out of labs. Now researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles have created a lens-free microscope that can be used to identify cell-level abnormalities, while being smaller and cheaper.
Traditional microscopes use occasionally large lenses and bright lights to enlarge images for examination. This lens-free microscope however, uses a sensor array, like those in digital cameras, with an LED or laser to record the specimen's patterns of shadows. These patterns are then processed as holograms, building a 3D image of the specimen, for a pathologist to study. This design matches the accuracy of traditional bright-field optical microscopes, but also provides a much larger field of view.
The researchers tested their lens-free microscope by imaging multiple specimens, and providing those images to a board-certified pathologist. The pathologist's diagnoses, based on those images, proved to be accurate 99% of the time.
Source: University of California, Los Angeles
While Amazon allows owners of Fire tablets to download content featured on Prime Instant Video for offline playback, Netflix has officially announced that it has no plans to offer the feature to its subscribers. According to Cliff Edwards, Netflix's director of corporate communications and technology, the ability to download content to view offline is simply never going to happen. Edwards also revealed that Netflix believes that by allowing its subscribers to have such functionality would just offer a short term fix for a long term problem, with that problem being quality Wi-Fi access. Netflix is expecting Wi-Fi coverage to significantly improve in the future, and Edwards himself believes that due to increased Wi-Fi coverage that is to come in the next five years alone, people will forget about the idea of downloading content for offline use.
The end of another week is nearly upon us, with some reviews to help you get through the day. There is a look at the AMD FX-8350 and FX-6300 CPUs, with this review focusing on how each chip performs in real world applications instead of pure benchmarks. We also have an article examining the best all-in-one coolers of the past year, so if you're wanting to make the switch, definitely check this out. If you're looking for a mechanical keyboard you're in luck, as both 104 and tenkeyless models of Code Keyboards get tested to see what they offer. Wrapping things up is the Inateck FE2005 USB 3.0 UASP External 2.5" SATA enclosure, which supports the USB Attached SCSI Protocol.
AMD FX-8350 & FX-6300: Real world power to performance testing @ TechSpot
Best AIO CPU Coolers of 2014 @ ThinkComputers
Inateck FE2005 USB 3.0 UASP External 2.5" SATA Enclosure @ PC Perspective
Code Keyboard 104 key and TKL models @ LanOC Reviews
According to the Director of Public Relations for AMD, Chris Hook, the semiconductor company is working on Dynamic Frame Rate Control, a new software feature for its Radeon graphics cards. The feature, which users can control with a slider, works as a frame-rate limiter that likely reduces the clocks speeds of a GPU in order to keep it from rendering at frame-rates higher than the set limit. For example, if a user sets the limit at 60FPS but the GPU is capable of rendering the video game title at 100FPS, the software likely reduces the clock speeds the GPU in order to keep the frame-rate at the limit, instead of allowing the GPU to utilize its full power to provide as any frames per second as it can. Since Dynamic Frame Rate Control allows users to set their FPS within a game, and therefore adjust the clock speeds of their GPU, Hook states that the power savings observed with the software can be substantial, depending on the scenario, of course.
Some day we will see superconductors being used to carry electricity with almost no loss. When that day will come though is hard to guess, because so much is still not known about superconductivity. Researchers at MIT have recently made a discovery that could enable a deeper understanding of superconductors than previously possible.
Superconductivity arises in certain materials at specific critical temperatures, depending on the behavior of the material's electrons. That temperature tends to decrease when working with thin films though, which are used to examine the superconducting-to-insulating transition. Exactly how the temperature changes has not been mathematically described though, so the researchers ran a series of experiments, controlling thin film thickness and resistance per unit area, or sheet resistance. Doing this they discovered that the product of thickness and critical temperature equaled a constant (A) divided by sheet resistance raised to a specific power (B). The researchers, now armed with this equation and its two constants, A and B, searched through superconductor literature, to see if it applied for more than the material they were working with, and found it did, though the values of A and B varied. Not liking that two constants are involved, the researchers plotted them against each other and found that they fell along a straight line. That means that only one constant is needed for the equation's general form.
The relationship between A and B is more interesting than that though, as the pairs at the bottom of the line came from more ordered superconductors, while those at the top had more disordered, amorphous structures. There is no theoretical explanation for this relationship currently, but the equation is still going to prove invaluable by predicting what films will make good superconductors, without having to actually make them.
Amazon has just launched Prime Now, a new benefit for Prime members that offers expedited shipping of tens of thousands of daily essentials such as paper towels, shampoo, books, toys, and batteries. The service, which is accessed on Android and iOS devices through the new Prime Now application, allows Prime members to order items from 6AM to midnight, seven days a week, and have them delivered in just hours. Prime members located where Prime Now is offered can have eligible items delivered in one-hour for $7.99, or two-hours for free. To make Prime Now a reality, Amazon is utilizing a portion of its building located on 34th Street in Manhattan as a hub for orders placed through Prime Now.
Prime Now is currently only available in select areas of Manhattan, but Amazon has revealed that the service will be expanding to additional cities in 2015.
Source: Business Wire
AnandTech has remained profitable since its inception and has experienced quite a growth curve over the past couple of years, thanks to its high-quality content and migration into the mobile world. Despite this, Ryan Smith, the current Editor-In-Chief for AnandTech, has revealed in an official site update that AnandTech has been acquired by Purch, the current owner of Tom’s Hardware. The move comes after years of realization that AnandTech simply could not compete with large corporate owned sites on the advertising front. Although Purch has now taken over AnandTech, the website will remain editorially independent from Tom’s Hardware. The current AnandTech team will continue to focus on existing areas of coverage and will not take on a new analytical approach or change its editorial policies.
December 17, 2014
NVIDIA has just released the latest beta of its GeForce Game Ready drivers, version 347.09. The latest drivers, which of course do not feature WHQL certification due to being in a beta state, include a number of performance improvements for Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Elite: Dangerous, and also include a GeForce Experience application profile for Project: Cars. Version 347.09 beta of the GeForce Game Ready drivers also includes PhysX System Software version 9.14.0702 and GeForce Experience 184.108.40.206.
The NVIDIA GeForce 347.09 Beta Game Ready drivers are available for immediate download from the NVIDIA website.
Dish has revealed that it has integrated Netflix into the Hopper, officially making the company the first pay-TV provider within the United States to offer Netflix through its exclusive DVR. While this announcement certainly does nothing for cord cutters, it does help individuals who do not currently own a smart television or a dedicated streaming device but still want access to Netflix, the world’s leading subscription service for television episodes and movies. Dish customers can now access Netflix through the Hopper by simply pushing the blue button on their Dish remote, then selecting the Netflix icon. In the future, according to Dish, content featured on Netflix "could be integrated into the search functionality across live, recorded, and Video On Demand programs for both the Hopper as well as Dish’s forthcoming OTT service."
ASUSTOR, a leading innovator and provider of network storage solutions, has just announced the launch of its 50T and 51T series NAS devices. The latest high performance NAS devices from ASUSTOR, which are comprised of models AS5002T, AS5004T, AS5102T, and AS5104T, provide a comprehensive storage solution for technology enthusiasts. The 50T series includes an Intel Celeron 2.41GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of DDR3L RAM, while the 51T series features an Intel Celeron 2.0GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of DDR3L RAM. All models within the 50T and 51T series include three SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB 2.0 ports, two eSATA ports, one HDMI 1.4a port, and one S/PDIF port. Additionally, all models include an infrared receiver, support for RAID volume management, and support for hard disk hot swapping and online RAID migration.
The ASUSTOR 50T and 51T, which are currently only available in two and four-bay models, come with a three-year warranty and can be purchased from global retailers immediately. According to ASUSTOR, eight and 10-bay models of the 50T and 51T will launch in the near future.
Source: Press Release
Ubisoft has begun rolling out the fourth patch for Assassin's Creed: Unity to Xbox One and PS4 gamers, with PC gamers getting the update later this week. The patch targets frame rate issues and weighs in at a whopping 6.7GB as it "involves replacing and updating portions of the Paris city map where we are seeing issues. This explains the large size of this title update (6.7 GB). However, since a large portion of the patch replaces existing files the net increase to the game's overall size will be less than 6.7 GB." The Dead Kings expansion and Club Competitions continue to be put off while Ubisoft works on getting the game to work properly. Some Xbox One users have found that they have to download a 40GB update rather than the announced 6.7GB update. Ubisoft has confirmed the problem stating, "Unfortunately, an issue with the patch downloading process is replacing the entire game instead of just the parts affected by the patch. This is obviously not the expected behavior, and we apologize that many of you will have to wait longer than expected to complete this download."
Central to our myriad of devices are semiconductor junctions that transfer charge between materials. To do so efficiently, only certain pairs of materials can be used and their crystalline structures must be properly aligned. At least that is what we thought was the case, but researchers at North Carolina State University have found an exception to this rule that could have powerful implications.
What the researchers found is that the crystalline-structure restrictions do not appear to apply to 2D semiconducting materials. When they stacked a layer of molybdenum sulfide and a layer of tungsten sulfide, they found that the stack was as efficient at transferring charge when the layers were randomly stacked as when they were precisely aligned. Though only these two materials were worked with, the researchers believe this may apply to all 2D semiconductors.
Considering how expensive and difficult it is to precisely stack these layers, finding it is not necessary could drop the cost of many technologies.
Source: North Carolina State University
The middle of the week is upon us, with several items for you to check out. We have a review on the AMD Radeon R7 240GB SSD, which looks to stay competitive with the likes of OCZ and others. There is also a look at the SilverStone SX600-G SFX 600W power supply, which is a small form factor model that comes with an ATX attachment place so it can work in style and size of case. The ROCCAT Tyon gaming mouse gets put to the test to see if its 8200DPI laser sensor, configurable LED lighting, and 12 programmable buttons can find a home on your desk. For those in need of a new laptop, perhaps the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, with its unique hinge and powerful components, is the one for you. Lastly, since it is the holiday season, we have a wish list of products to consider.
AMD Radeon R7 240GB SSD @ Madshrimps
SilverStone SX600-G SFX 600W @ PC Perspective
ROCCAT Tyon Gaming Mouse @ Benchmark Reviews
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro @ TechSpot
ThinkComputers Holiday 2014 Staff Wish List @ ThinkComputers
Some of the best things in life do not come easily, and that is also true of materials science. Every now and then though, new discoveries can make things easy. Researchers at Rice University have recently found a way to very efficiently produce graphene using a laser and an inexpensive plastic.
Graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon that looks like chicken-wire, because of how the atoms arrange themselves into hexagons. At least that is the case for pure graphene. The laser-induced graphene (LIG) the Rice researchers created is actually a 20 micron-thick foam comprised of graphene flakes, filled with defects. These defects though, rings made of five and seven carbon atoms, are actually good in this instance because they can hold electrons. This makes it an ideal material for use in microsupercapacitors, which could one day come to replace batteries with high energy densities and great charge and discharge rates. Even after 9000 charge cycles, the prototype supercapacitors did not suffer significant degradation.
Making the LIG was as simple as firing a laser at polyimide flexible plastic sheets, which is called Kapton and can purchased in huge rolls. The laser writing process itself can be done in air and at room temperature, so the process could be easily scaled up for mass production and even integrated into a roll-to-roll manufacturing.
Source: Rice University
December 16, 2014
Google and Verizon have entered into a partnership that will allow the two companies to share patents in an effort to "reduce the risk of future patent litigation." The deal that the companies have entered into takes the shape of a "long-term patent cross-license agreement covering a broad range of products and technologies." Head of Patent Transactions at Google Kirk Dailey described the arrangement saying, "This cross license allows both companies to focus on delivering great products and services to consumers around the world. We're pleased to enter into this agreement with an industry leader like Verizon, and we welcome discussions with any company interested in a similar arrangement."
Source: Market Watch
Take Two has released a trailer teasing the upcoming addition of heist missions to Grand Theft Auto Online. Heist missions had previously been restricted to single player mode and the addition of heists to online mode took longer than initially expected. GTA Online producer Imran Sarwar described the delay saying "One of the challenges is that unlike a heist in Story Mode, every player needs to feel central to the action at all times, and that’s much more challenging than it appears." Heists will be organized by a heist leader and will see varying levels of teamwork as "some missions have all players working as one unit, some require players to take on specific tasks like hacking or crowd control, while others require players to split into smaller teams to complete separate high value objectives."
Source: PC Gamer
Metal alloys are crucial to our daily lives as so much is dependent on the various properties, from corrosion protection to improved strength, of those composite materials. Currently many are investigating high-entropy alloys, which are comprised of five or more metals, with roughly equally distributions. These materials can have very desirable properties, and researchers at North Carolina State University and Qatar University have recently found one with the highest known strength-to-weight ratio of all metals.
This new alloy is made of lithium, magnesium, titanium, aluminum, and scandium. It has a low density, comparable to aluminum, but its strength comes in above that of titanium alloys. Such a combination is obviously very powerful, with its strength-to-weight ratio matching that of some ceramics, without the brittleness. We could potentially see this alloy being used in vehicles and prosthetics.
More work still needs to be done to understand the alloy's characteristics, and how to best process it. The researchers also want to see if the scandium could be replaced or removed, as it is a very expensive metal.
Source: North Carolina State University
MSI, one of the world's largest information technology manufacturers, has released a full-height Radeon R5 230 graphics card. The latest graphics card from MSI, model R5230-1GD3H, features a red PCB with a single-slot, passive heatsink that cools both the GPU and the memory. The Radeon R5 230 features 1GB of 64-bit DDR3 memory clocked at 1GHz, 160 stream processors, and GPU core clock speeds of 625MHz. The outputs featured on the MSI R5230-1GD3H include dual-link DVI, HDMI 1.4a, and D-Sub. Although specific pricing was not released by MSI, the Radeon R5 230 is expected to cost under $50 once it arrives at retailers.
Amazon has announced that HBO GO is now available on its streaming media set-top box, the Fire TV, and that support for the service is coming to its Fire TV Stick this spring. HBO GO subscribers who utilize Amazon Fire TV now have instant and unlimited access to every episode of every season of the best HBO shows, movies, comedy, sports, and documentaries. According to Amazon, "HBO has produced some of the most groundbreaking and award-winning TV shows and movies, and we are excited to bring this amazing content to our customers, all of which is accessible via voice search on your Fire TV remote." Unfortunately, Comcast and Charter are not supporting HBO GO on Amazon Fire TV at this time, and customers who find that they do not have access to the service are being urged to contact Comcast and Charter for information on availability.
Source: The Verge
Bose, a leading audio manufacturer, is apparently looking to build and launch its own streaming music service in the near future. The news comes after the company posted a job opening on its corporate website, which states that Bose is actively looking for a Senior User Experience Designer of Cloud Music Services. According to the job opening, the individual who fulfills this position will "lead design and prototyping of our next generation streaming music platform and ecosystem of products." Bose also lists within the posting that "We will move quickly and have an immediate and lasting impact on Bose’s streaming music products."
While it is not yet known how Bose will market its own streaming music service, the company faces a large amount of competition from other high-end services such as Deezer Elite, Neil Young's Pono, and TIDL.
Protecting our identities and credit cards has become ever more important over the years, especially as we hear about large-scale security breaches. There are many new technologies that offer improved protection, like smart cards, but they still have flaws. As reported in Optica researchers in the Netherlands have developed Quantum-Secure Authentication, which leverages quantum mechanics to protect credit cards, and could be tamper proof.
Instead of relying on a magnetic strip or chip to store information, QSA uses nanoparticles painted onto a card. These nanoparticles will scatter any light that strikes them, creating a pattern, but it is not just any, normal light source used here. The photons have to be quantum in nature, so that they can enter a superposition as a result of the nanoparticles. Superposition is a quantum mechanical phenomenon whereby one object can exist in multiple, mutually exclusives states at the same time, such as being in multiple places at the same time. If the superposition is observed, such as to copy it, the pattern collapses, making it impossible to learn what the pattern was, and later reproduce it. Also, because superposition is used, fewer the photons can be used to scan the card, potentially just one, which lends to the method's security.
Another advantage to Quantum-Secure Authentication is that it is already realistic, because the technology it uses is simple and cheap. This could help it be adopted in credit cards and much more, such as ID cards for entering buildings and even cars.
Source: The Optical Society