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.
Since the release of the Mantle API, there has been growing interest in its 'close to the metal' design, and later this year we will see DirectX 12 release with a similar design. Part of what this design will achieve is reduced API overhead, which then allows for more drawcalls, which can bottleneck CPUs. To see just how great the impact this overhead can have, Futuremark has released the 3DMark API Overhead feature test for 3DMark. It is the first public application to use DirectX 12.
This new test works by making increasingly more drawcalls until the framerate drops below 30 FPS. As this test is specifically designed for testing API overhead, it should not be used to compare hardware. Also its graphics are relatively simple, using simple shaders and no lighting effects, to minimize GPU load.
It tests DirectX 11, Mantle, and the upcoming DirectX 12. It also requires using a 1.8 GHz dual-core processor, 4 GB of memory, 1 GB of video memory, and naturally the appropriate OS and a GPU capable of running the API.
EVGA has just unveiled the GeForce GTX 980 HYBRID, an all-in-one water cooling solution for the immensely popular NVIDIA GTX 980 graphics card. The EVGA GeForce GTX 980 HYBRID includes a copper base for maximum heat transfer, a built-in 120mm radiator and fan, a separate VRM and memory cooling solution, an intelligent wiring system, and sleeved tubing. One of the best aspects of the GeForce GTX 980 HYBRID is that the water cooling solution that makes up the product does not require any filling, custom tubing, or maintenance, making it a hassle-free product that can be enjoyed for years.
The latest product from EVGA will be available in the near future as a complete unit, featuring a GTX 980 and the water cooling solution, and as an upgrade kit, allowing current GTX 980 owners to improve their current cooling solution.
Slow motion cameras are able to capture quick occurring events that are normally not viewable by the naked eye, allowing viewers to actually see what occurs at high speeds. Gav and Dan over at The Slow Mo Guys have successfully utilized a slow motion camera to record how a CD breaks apart when spinning at 23,000RPM. Before the CD shatters into pieces, the CD actually warps due to the high rotation speed, which can be seen in the video below.
Back in January, Microsoft announced Windows 10 would have a new browser, codenamed Project Spartan, in addition to Internet Explorer. The new browser would be the standard browser, but IE would use the same rendering engine as Project Spartan and mostly survive for compatibility reasons. However, in the two months since something must have changed, as now Internet Explorer can be considered a legacy engine when Windows 10 arrives. Project Spartan will be the sole benefactor of the new rendering engine, with the Internet Explorer of Windows 10 basically going to be the exact same as we have in Windows 8.1. It makes sense, since a new browser and a new rendering engine shows just how committed Microsoft is to removing the stigma of Internet Explorer.
The exact role of the legacy browser is not known, such as it appearing in all versions of Windows 10 (possibly under the Accessories folder) or just the ones aimed at businesses. Whatever the case may be, Internet Explorer is soon to be no more. Microsoft is still looking for a proper name for Project Spartan, which should hopefully be known before long.
Google is reportedly working on a new service "that will allow Gmail users to more easily receive bills in their email inbox instead of their mailbox," and it "also is designed to let people pay their bills within Gmail, rather than having to go to a telecom or utility company’s website to complete a payment." The service is currently known as Pony Express and is expected to be made available in the fourth quarter of this year. Documents reviewed by Recode indicate that Google is likely "partnering with third-party vendors that print and mail out bills on behalf of service providers such as insurance companies, telecom companies and utilities." Users will be required to provide personal information such as mailing address and Social Security Number to verify their identity before enrolling in the service. After verification, users will be able to pay their bills directly from their inbox using linked credit/debit cards or bank accounts.
As part of the weekly GRID Tuesday event, NVIDIA has added The Vanishing of Ethan Carter to its online game service. The GRID library now stands at 43 games that can be played for free on SHIELD devices. Players are tasked with finding Ethan Carter, "a young boy with supernatural talents." In order to accomplish this task players step into the shoes of Paul Prospero, "a savvy detective with paranormal abilities that enable him to sense where important objects, or clues, are hidden and then recreate the timeline to someone’s murder, or abduction." Gamers will be able to use these powers in different ways to complete their task while finding some "dark secrets, and surprises" along the way.
For many organizations, security is of the utmost importance, so they employ tactics such as keeping Internet connected computers separated from those on an internal network. This is called air-gap security, as you keep an air-gap between the two machines. This strategy may not be as secure as some think though, as researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have developed a piece of malware to cross the gap.
A fact of modern life is that our electronics emit heat as they work, and because too much heat can cause damage, our computers contain sensors. The malware the researchers developed is able to encode digital information into thermal signals that can be detected by a nearby computer's sensors. They call it BitWhisper and it was able to form a bi-directional channel between two computers about 40 cm or 15 inches apart.
As you may have guessed, the system is not necessarily all that fast, but a rate of just eight signals an hour is enough to acquire passwords and secret keys. It is even possible to issue commands using BitWhisper, and no additional hardware or software is required.
We have arrived at the middle of the week, with some items along for the ride. There is a review of the ASUS X99-A motherboard, the company's entry-level offering for the Intel X99 line. We also have the Mushkin Chronos 480GB SSD, which is not the highest of the high-end and may offer good value for the speed and capacity. Moving on towards some power, there is a look at the EVGA SuperNOVA 550GS And 650GS power supplies, both of which are 80 Plus Gold and built by SeaSonic. Finishing off for the day is the new Dell XPS 13 laptop, featuring an Intel Broadwell-U processor and maybe the best combination of features in an Ultrabook.
Quantum dots are an interesting technology that could one day find various uses in our devices and be used in solar cells. Before that can happen though, we must find efficient ways to produce them with various properties. Researchers at Rice University have apparently achieved that for graphene oxide dots made from coal.
Quantum dots are semiconducting nanocrystals sometimes called artificial atoms or molecules. This is because they can have some of their properties very precisely tuned, including their optical and semiconducting properties. While large materials will react only with certain frequencies of light, depending on their electronic structure, quantum dots can have that structure tuned to work with any desired frequency. Producing them is so hard though that a kilogram would cost about $1 million. What the Rice researchers have found though brings that down to $100 a ton with two, single-step methods. One of them relies on ultrafiltration to sort the dots by size, a method already used for water filtration, and the other controls the temperature the oxidation process reducing the coal to dots occurs at. The temperature directly influences the size of the dots, which in turn controls the frequencies the dots interact with.
The graphene quantum dots the researchers were working with are photoluminescent, so they emit one color light when light shines on them, and those made from anthracite produced colors from green to orange-red. To produce blue light, the researchers found it easiest to work with bituminous coal. Besides their optical properties and applications, quantum dots could see use in chemical reactions, thanks to their reactive edges.
EVGA has officially announced the SuperNOVA GS Series power supply units, which provide consumers with the award-winning features of the new EVGA GS lineup at an extremely affordable price. The SuperNOVA GS Series PSUs are available in 550W and 650W versions and feature 80PLUS Gold certification, making them highly efficient. Both units from EVGA feature an LLC resonant circuit design, a high quality Teflon Nano-steel bearing fan, high-quality Japanese capacitors, and a single +12V rail that offers excellent power output, rail stability, and compatibility with the latest hardware. The EVGA SuperNOVA 650 GS and 550 GS power supplies, which are backed by a five-year warranty, also feature a fully modular design and are certified as NVIDIA SLI Ready.