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News Archives for February 2016

Discovery of Polar Vortices Could Enable Various Advanced Technologies

Posted: February 1, 2016 @ time: 08:15AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

On all scales of Nature, it is possible to find vortices in some form, and some can be more useful than others. Researchers at Berkeley Lab have discovered polar vortices in a ferroelectric material for the first time, after being predicted over a decade ago. These vortices could be similar to so-called skyrmions and could be used to create some advanced technologies.

Skyrmions are vortices that can be created within ferromagnetic materials when properly exposed to an external magnetic field. These vortices can then be moved around across macroscopic distances, making them quite interesting for spintronic applications. By applying an external electric field to a specially prepared ferroelectric material, the researchers were able to create what look like electrical skyrmions. The material was comprised of lead titanate and strontium titanate with a superlattice that had elastic, electrostatic, and gradient energies competing with each other. This competition is what allows the polar vortices to form.

If it turns out the vortices are effectively electrical skyrmions then we could see them used for ultracompact data storage and processing. They could also lead to discovering new states of matter, which this actually already is, and many other applications depending on how our understanding of the phenomenon evolves.

Source: Berkeley Lab


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Thermaltake Reveals Four New Cases

Posted: February 1, 2016 @ time: 09:37AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Thermaltake has unveiled four new Power Cover Edition cases, the Core V71, Core V51, Suppressor F51, and Suppressor F31. The Core V71 and Suppressor F51 are both full towers while the Core V51 and Suppressor F31 are mid towers. Both Core chassis support micro ATX to E-ATX motherboards and can take up to a 420 mm radiator for liquid cooling, or 200 mm case fans with a long GPU. The Core V71 also hides a pair of 200 mm case fans behind the front dust filter, with a third on top, while a 140 mm fan in the back pulls the air out. The Core V51, being a smaller case has two 120 mm in the front and a third in the back to pull air out.

The Suppressor cases both have a modular sound-damping design to keep your computer quiet while it runs, and still supports cooling fans up to 200 mm for liquid cooling with single, dual, and triple radiators. The cases also utilize a tool-free design for installing and removing storage drives, and feature hidden drive bays on the back panel, if you want the clean look those allow for.

Source: Thermaltake


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Hardware Roundup: Monday, February 1, 2016, Edition

Posted: February 1, 2016 @ time: 10:52AM
Author: bp9801

A new week and a new month is here, with the shortest month of the year extended by one day. We have some ways to welcome it, including a review of the be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 850W power supply with its 80 PLUS Platinum certification. For some storage needs, the Samsung 950 PRO M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs get tested in a 3X PCIe RAID setup on an Intel Z170 motherboard to show what this beast can do. If you want something to store on them, perhaps the new Rise of the Tomb Raider game is a possibility, as we have two different reviews on it looking at the performance on a range of systems. Wrapping things up for today is the ioSafe 214 Fire and Waterproof NAS that can keep your files safe no matter what may happen to your home.

Power Supplies
be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 850W @ ThinkComputers

Storage/Hard Drives
Triple M.2 Samsung 950 Pro Z170 PCIe NVMe RAID @ PC Perspective
ioSafe 214 Fire and Waterproof NAS @ Madshrimps

Gaming
Rise of the Tomb Raider PC Graphics and CPU Performance @ TechSpot
Rise of the Tomb Raider: AMD and NVIDIA Performance Results @ PC Perspective


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MSI is Bundling Assassin's Creed Chronicles: India with Select GPUs

Posted: February 1, 2016 @ time: 11:36AM
Author: gebraset

MSI has revealed that for a limited time, or until stocks last, it will be bundling Assassin's Creed Chronicles: India with select GPU purchases. The latest video game in the Assassin's Creed Chronicles series will come with Radeon R9 380, Radeon R7 370, and Radeon R7 360 graphics cards manufactured by MSI. Consumers will be able to receive a UPlay key for the Ubisoft game as long as one of the aforementioned cards is purchased between late January and late June of this year, though region and retailer restrictions do apply.

Source: TechPowerUp


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UltraSharp U2717D Introduced by Dell

Posted: February 1, 2016 @ time: 11:56AM
Author: gebraset

Dell has officially introduced the UltraSharp U2717D, which is the company's latest monitor that features an incredibly thin bezel. The thin bezel on the 27-inch IPS display, which is known as InfinityEdge, allows consumers to build multi-display setups that feature minimal bezel seams. The UltraSharp U2717D by Dell features a resolution of 2560 x 1440, 6ms GTG response time, 1000:1 contrast ratio, 350 cd/m² maximum brightness, as well as a 3H anti-glare coating. Inputs on the UltraSharp U2717D include DisplayPort 1.2, mDP 1.2, and HDMI 1.4a with MHL support. The monitor also offers a four port USB 3.0 hub, an audio line out jack, and a three-year advance replacement and zero-bright-dot guarantee.

Pricing and availability of the UltraSharp U2717D have not yet been revealed by Dell.

Source: The Tech Report


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Details Emerge on XCOM 2 Launch Mods From Long War Studios

Posted: February 1, 2016 @ time: 12:10PM
Author: bp9801

Welcome, Commander. The other day, some information came to light that Firaxis and Long War Studios were partnering up for some launch mods for the upcoming XCOM 2. At the time nothing was shared on what the mods would be, but now we finally have word. The first of the three mods is an SMG-series Weapon Mod, which adds three new submachine gun weapons for the XCOM 2 weapon tiers: conventional, magnetic, and beam. The SMGs offer a bonus to mobility, concealment, and close-range accuracy when compared to the assault rifle, but suffer from reduced damage and a long-range accuracy penalty.

The second mod is a Muton Centurion mod, which adds a new enemy class to the game. Mutons by themselves are pretty tough, and this Centurion is no different, as it's stronger than a base Muton and can add bonuses to other alien units. You can tell the Centurions apart by their red armor and unique face mask. Try not to cower when they barge into the fray.

The third and final launch mod is the XCOM Leader mod, granting a new "Leader" upgrade path for your soldiers. The upgrade is unlocked via the Guerilla Tactics School and features ten new abilities, with each Leader learning five at a time. Only one Leader can go out on missions with the squad, so plan accordingly.

XCOM 2 arrives this Friday exclusively on PC in both a regular and deluxe addition, which adds the soundtrack and season pass for an extra $15. Pre-orders net a Resistance Warrior Pack that adds new customizations and a survivor of the old war as a recruit. Mod support is baked right into XCOM 2 thanks to the Steam Workshop, with these three mods from Long War Studios offering a taste at what to expect. Modders should have a field day with the game, offering new items, enemies, experiences, and more to add to your time leading the resistance against the aliens. Good luck, Commander.

Source: Game Website


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Microsoft Looks to the Ocean for Data Centers

Posted: February 1, 2016 @ time: 04:15PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Microsoft has detailed the prototype of one of its latest research projects, a data center designed to be submerged in the ocean for up to five years at a time. Named after a town in Massachusetts, Project Natick packs servers cooled by pressurized nitrogen into a custom submarine capsule. The capsule can be used for up to twenty years with the five year time frame used to swap out servers for newer hardware. An underwater environment provides many benefits including low surrounding temperature and Microsoft claims that Project Natick can be built and deployed in 90 days. More than half of the world's population lives within 124 miles of the coast, allowing for reduced latency for those users.

Source: PC World


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Google Testing 5G Internet Delivery Using Drones

Posted: February 1, 2016 @ time: 04:28PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Project Skybender is the latest experiment from Google looking to bring innovations to the world. Testing is currently underway at Spaceport America in New Mexico using a commercial aircraft known as the "Centaur" and unmanned drones from Project Titan. The 5G networking will be provided using millimeter wave transceivers, which the FCC believes could reach speeds from 1Gb/s to 10Gb/s. According to the report, Google "ultimately envisages thousands of high altitude 'self-flying aircraft' delivering Internet access around the world." This joins a number of other projects currently in development at Google that seek to use airborne delivery platforms to bring Internet access to areas that might not have access to it otherwise.

Source: Ars Technica


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Graphene and Silicon 'Sawdust' Could Make Better Batteries

Posted: February 2, 2016 @ time: 08:01AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Batteries are an integral part of many modern technologies, especially those that use lithium ions for storing energy. Typically these batteries use a graphite anode but for some time researchers have been trying to build silicon anodes, which offer greater energy storage, but they have significant resiliency problems. Now researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have found a way to make viable silicon anodes with the help of graphene.

Batteries work by moving ions between the anode and the cathode, and charging involves the ions entering the anode. A silicon anode in a lithium-ion battery could hold ten times the energy of a graphite anode, but silicon swells when it absorbs the ions, and this swelling can cause it to break and the battery to fail. To One way to address this issue is to work with silicon particles so small that the swelling does not matter, but previous attempts tended to be inefficient. This new design though works a bit differently as it places the silicon particles inside of graphene cages. Graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon that is very strong, flexible, and conductive, and it actually improves the conductivity of the silicon particles. To create the cages, the researchers start with the silicon particles and coat them with a layer of nickel. The nickel then acts as a catalyst to grow the graphene on top of, and the nickel can then be etched away to leave the particle plenty of room to swell without damage.

Just as important as the viability of a silicon anode is that the silicon particles can be micrometers in width, which are much easier and cheaper to produce than smaller nanostructures. In fact, silicon particles microns in width are a waste product to the milling of silicon for computer chips, like sawdust is for cutting wood.

Source: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory


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Hardware Roundup: Tuesday, February 2, 2016, Edition

Posted: February 2, 2016 @ time: 10:40AM
Author: bp9801

Groundhog Day has arrived, but nothing will keep repeating here when you check out these items for today. We have a review of the ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Impact, a Mini-ITX offering that doesn't skimp on the features and capabilities. There's a look at AMD's plans in the first quarter of 2016, with new CPUs, APUs, and coolers on the horizon. Speaking of coolers, the Reeven Okeanos gets tested to see how the refreshed version of the one we reviewed performs. If you just want a small PC you can slot items into, perhaps the Shuttle XPC Slim XS35V5 Pro Barebone is the kit for you. Wrapping things up today is the Input Club Infinity ErgoDox Ergonomic Keyboard Kit, a unique mechanical keyboard that you can assemble and customize yourself, from the switches to the keycaps and even the backlighting.

CPUs
AMD Refreshes Q1 2016 Offerings: New APUs, CPUs, and Coolers @ PC Perspective

Motherboards
ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Impact @ Neoseeker

CPU Cooling
Reeven Okeanos @ ThinkComputers

Keyboards/Mice
Input Club Infinity ErgoDox Ergonomic Keyboard Kit @ LanOC Reviews

Prebuilts
Shuttle XPC Slim XS35V5 Pro Barebone @ Madshrimps


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LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens Revealed, Arrives June 28

Posted: February 2, 2016 @ time: 11:40AM
Author: bp9801

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens has skyrocketed to the top of the charts since its debut late last year, and now it has a new market to cover: LEGO. That's right, the latest Star Wars movie is getting the LEGO treatment in LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with TT Games once again bringing its style and humor to the new game. A teaser trailer shows off the game, and it's a shot-for-shot remake of the actual movie teaser trailer, just with much more humor. Finn, BB-8, Poe Dameron, and Kylo Ren get the LEGO breakdown, as do X-Wings, TIE Fighters, and the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy. If you love LEGO and/or Star Wars, this once again looks like something not to miss. In addition to focusing on The Force Awakens, the game also explores some of the 30 years in between Return of the Jedi and TFA, giving you a bit more insight into how things have transpired. Odds are there won't be anything new that isn't already discussed in the Visual Dictionary for the new movie, but it should be nice to see it in LEGO form.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrives on June 28 for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, and 3DS. The PS4 and XBO versions get a deluxe edition featuring an exclusive LEGO Finn minifig and the season pass, with the PS4 and PS3 editions getting two exclusive content packs: the Droid Character Pack and the Phantom Limb Level Pack.

Sources: SlashFilm and YouTube


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Windows 10 Gaining On Windows 7 According to Steam

Posted: February 2, 2016 @ time: 03:54PM
Author: CheeseMan42

The January edition of the Steam hardware survey shows that Windows 10 continues to gain on Windows 7 as the operating system of choice for gamers using the platform. When combining the 32 and 64-bit versions of the OS, Windows 10 accounts for 34% of Steam users, up 1.6% from the previous month, compared to just over 42% for Windows 7. The gain in Windows 10 share came largely at the expense of Windows 8.1 users which saw a 1.06% drop while Windows 7 dropped just 0.5%. Steam has about 125 million users which makes this study a significant sample size, but at the same time results could be skewed as gamers tend to have different usage patterns and needs when compared to average PC users.

Source: PC World


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Comcast Details Gigabit Internet Offerings

Posted: February 2, 2016 @ time: 04:06PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Comcast announced a 2Gbps fiber to the home Internet offering in multiple major markets in April of last year. The company delivered on its promise to have the service available to 18 million homes by the end of the year. Comcast won't be rolling out the fiber service to its entire network, but hopes that a 1Gbps cable offering will help fill the void. The new cable service will be possible due to the DOCSIS 3.1 standard that will require new modems, but will still use traditional coaxial cable rather than fiber. There is no information regarding pricing or potential data caps available at this time, but it has been noted that DOCSIS 3.1 modems are under testing in Pennsylvania and Northern California.

Source: Ars Technica


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Unhackable RFID Chips Developed

Posted: February 3, 2016 @ time: 08:51AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips are a somewhat common security tool that is used on credit cards, key cards, and on palettes of goods to easily track their use with little overhead as only a special reader is needed. Among their advantages are that the radio frequencies used can penetrate various materials and that the chips themselves do not require a power source. Both of these advantages also make them susceptible to hacks, but researchers at MIT and Texas Instruments has found a solution to the problem.

One way to hack an RFID chip is with side-channel attacks, which analyze the memory access or power usage to gather some information. By repeating this many times, the cryptographic key stored on the chip can be learned. One way to defeat this attack is to have a random number generator on the key that matches that on a server, so after each use the chip can change the key, but this can be beat by a power glitch attack. This attack cuts power to the chip, which is easily done as it requires power from the reader to operate, before the key can be updated, so the key never changes and the side-channel attacks will still work. The solution the researchers developed to both problems is to integrate ferroelectric materials into the chip. These materials can act as nonvolatile memory but also as capacitors, because they work by separating positive and negative charges, creating a voltage. Texas Instruments manufacturers both 1.5 V and 3.3 V ferroelectric cells, and both have been integrated into the new chip. The 3.3 V capacitors are used to power the RFID chip, in the event power is lost so that the key update can complete, while the 1.5 V capacitors serve as nonvolatile memory, protecting the new key from being lost. Once power is restored, the 3.3 V capacitors are recharged before anything else is done.

Texas Instruments has already built multiple prototypes and while they are slower than traditional RFID chips, at 30 readouts a second, they should still be fast enough to work in most scenarios.

Source: MIT


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Hardware Roundup: Wednesday, February 3, 2016, Edition

Posted: February 3, 2016 @ time: 10:35AM
Author: bp9801

The middle of the week is here, with a few items along the way to help get you over the hump. We have a look at the AMD Wraith cooler to see how this redesigned model keeps AMD CPUs and APUs running cooler than the typical stock model. There's also a guide on what parts to look for when you're buying a gaming laptop, letting you get something that can perform at whatever level you desire. Ending things for today is a look at some of the worst PC setups seen last month.

CPU Cooling
AMD Wraith @ LanOC Reviews

Laptops/Tablets
Building a Well-Rounded Gaming Laptop: What specs to look for @ TechSpot

Miscellany
20 of the Worst PC Setups - January 2016 @ ThinkComputers


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Microsoft Acquires SwiftKey for $250 Million

Posted: February 3, 2016 @ time: 01:38PM
Author: Onion

SwiftKey, maker of the iconic predictive smartphone keyboard, has been acquired by Microsoft for $250 million. According to Microsoft, there are no plans to halt development for iOS and Android platforms, but it will be pushing for "integration of the core technology aross the breadth of our product and services portfolio."

SwiftKey can be found on over 300 million devices and supports over 100 languages, as well as bilingual auto-correction. SwiftKey also has GreenHouse, a type of beta testing environment for end users to try new potential SwiftKey features. GreenHouse currently includes SwiftKey Symbols, a symbol-based communication method to assist individuals with special needs, as well as SwiftKey Neural, which is the world’s first smartphone keyboard to use artificial neural networks to predict and correct typing.

This buyout continues Microsoft’s trend of purchasing productivity applications – it recently acquired Acompli, Wunderlist, and Sunrise. It is believed that these acquisitions will be ported over to Windows Phone in hopes to add some much needed features to the OS.

Source: Ars Technica


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OCZ Announces Trion 150 Solid State Drives

Posted: February 3, 2016 @ time: 05:02PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Toshiba has added the Trion 150 series of SSDs to the OCZ brand, described as "an affordable performance upgrade for mainstream notebooks and desktops." The drives have read and write speeds up to 550MB/s and 530MB/s, respectively, and 91,000 Input/Output Operations per Second. Storage capacities of 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB will be available with the drives rated for drive endurance of 240TB total bytes written. Vice President and GM of SSD BU at Toshiba America Steve Fingerhut, Sr. described the drives stating, "We are continually looking for ways to improve both SSD real world performance and value to end users and are pleased to introduce the new Trion 150 series which leverages the latest Toshiba 15nm Triple-Level Cell NAND flash to deliver an even better storage solution for value oriented mobile and desktop users."

Source: Press Release


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Thermaltake Kicks Off Modding Fighting Championship

Posted: February 3, 2016 @ time: 05:13PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Thermaltake is holding a new modding competition starting this month and running through the middle of June called the Thermaltake 2016 Modding Fighting Championship. Thermaltake has invited Suchao Prowphong, winner of the 2015 Thermaltake CaseMOD Season 1, and Jesse Palacio, winner of the 2015 Thermaltake CaseMOD Season 2, to compete for glory and prizes. The Core WP100 Super Tower Chassis is the medium of choice for this contest and is the "only chassis able to house more than 20 HDD cages and up to 10 expansion slots."

Source: Press Release


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Sharp Reportedly Enters Exclusive Merger Talks With Foxconn

Posted: February 4, 2016 @ time: 01:48AM
Author: bp9801

It's looking like Sharp may soon have a new owner, as it has reportedly entered exclusive takeover talks with Foxconn. Both Foxconn and Innovation Network Corp. of Japan (INCJ) were the frontrunners to purchase Sharp, but now it looks like Foxconn is the winner. Sharp was put up for sale early last year to try and save the troubled Japanese TV manufacturer, which saw its stocks drop 50% in 2015. The company was supposedly leaning more towards INCJ in order to keep the company in the hands of its fellow countrymen, despite Foxconn offering far more money. Foxconn's CEO, Terry Gou, made a personal trip to Sharp HQ last week to offer a $5.45 billion bid, with that bid being the winner. INCJ only offered $2.54 billion, and despite having bailed out Sharp three times in the last three years, it looks like Sharp is going with the Taiwanese tech giant.

Sharp currently supplies the screens to Apple's iPhone line, with Foxconn producing parts for Apple, Amazon, and Xiaomi, among others. If Foxconn's deal goes through, it could potentially lower production costs to those companies and more, while also absorbing all of Sharp's current debt and retaining its top management. Sharp has lost nearly $10 billion over the last several years due to lost TV sales and market share to rivals in Korea and China. Keep it tuned for updates on whether or not Sharp becomes a part of Foxconn, and exactly what it means for potentially cheaper hardware (or at least any that utilize an LCD screen).

Source: IBTimes


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Toshiba Expecting a Bigger Full-Year Loss Than First Predicted

Posted: February 4, 2016 @ time: 09:33AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

It is being reported that Toshiba is expecting its full year loss to be greater than the $4.6 billion previously predicted. The new expectation is that it will be a $6 billion dollar loss, and this is all following a $1.3 billion accounting scandal from 2009. That scandal involved an overstatement of profits and has led the company to restructure itself, which is an ongoing process. The CEO has also announced 240 additional job cuts or replacements as part of this restructuring effort, which is already expected to hit 10,000 jobs. The CEO also repeated plans to sell off the company's laptop and home appliance businesses, as both were loss-making. While both Sharp Corp and Foxconn (which may be merging) could be the potential purchasers for the home appliance business, it could also go to a foreign manufacturer.

Source: Reuters


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Hardware Roundup: Thursday, February 4, 2016, Edition

Posted: February 4, 2016 @ time: 11:32AM
Author: bp9801

The first week of February is approaching its end, with a few things to help get you through the day. We have a look at the Corsair Carbide 400Q case, a small model with sound dampening material to give you a silent build to place in any room of your home. If you need something just for your living room, perhaps the Zotac NEN SN970 Steam Machine is for you, which features an Intel Core i5-6400T, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB HDD to let you experience SteamOS and the included Steam Controller from the comfort of your couch or favorite chair. Wrapping things up today is a new podcast looking at the latest news and reviews from the past week.

Cases
Corsair Carbide 400Q @ Benchmark Reviews

Prebuilts
Zotac NEN SN970 Steam Machine @ ThinkComputers

Miscellany
Podcast #385 @ PC Perspective


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Thermaltake Launches Website for 3D Printed Computer Components

Posted: February 4, 2016 @ time: 05:20PM
Author: CheeseMan42

The "Maker Movement" and 3D printing are very popular topics these days with several companies involved and an increasing number of resources for aspiring makers. Thermaltake is launching a website geared towards people that want to 3D print their own computer components and describes it as "a platform established for DIY and Modding enthusiasts to share customized PC components ideas." Users can download models uploaded by others or share their creations with the world. Thermaltake feels that the designs offered on the site fulfill its four core values which are "Excellent Quality, Unique Design, Diverse Combinations, and Boundless Creativity."

Source: Press Release


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Hell Awaits You in the DOOM Campaign Trailer

Posted: February 4, 2016 @ time: 10:21PM
Author: bp9801

Hell is coming and it's up to you to fight back. In DOOM, that's exactly what we're up against, as you step back into the shoes of the DOOM Marine to combat the rampaging horde of demons, imps, and other hellspawn. Bethesda and id Software have revealed the game's campaign trailer, which gives us a glimpse at what to expect when DOOM arrives later this year. The Union Aerospace Corporation's facility on Mars has been overrun with demons, and the fate of humanity rests in your hands alone. It's the classic DOOM formula, where you and your collection of weapons are all that stand in the way of the forces of Hell. There's no cover, no health regen, and nothing else to make things easy for you while fighting back the horde; just you, your guns, upgrades, and an advanced melee system. You can see some of this and more in the trailer below.

DOOM arrives on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in May on Friday the 13th. Quite fitting for DOOM, really.

Source: YouTube


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Greetings, Commander; XCOM 2's Launch Trailer Has Arrived

Posted: February 4, 2016 @ time: 10:30PM
Author: bp9801

The day has finally arrived, where all of humanity can rise up and take back the planet from the alien menace. XCOM 2 has officially arrived in all regions, and whether you're taking a break from playing, waiting for it to download, or are on the fence about it, the launch trailer gives you a taste at what to expect. It's a little different, actually, as the ADVENT Speaker addresses us on the 20th anniversary of unification, where the aliens successfully took over the planet and painted the XCOM defenders as the true threat. However, his speech gets cut short, and you'll see exactly why in the trailer below. We're treated to shots of the new XCOM squad, revamped and revised alien threats, and some entirely new types that will require some careful planning to survive. Oh, and lots of shooting, explosions, and big action when your stealth plans go out the window.

XCOM 2 is available now exclusively on PC. Be sure to grab the three launch mods from Long War Studios to give your game a bit of a boost, and be sure to keep an eye on the Steam Workshop for everything else modders come up with to enhance your experience. Good luck, Commander.

Source: YouTube


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AMD Releases Hotfix for Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.1.1

Posted: February 5, 2016 @ time: 12:59AM
Author: gebraset

AMD has officially released a hotfix for version 16.1.1 of its Radeon Software Crimson Edition, which the company pushed to Radeon users just days ago. The hotfix release includes some important highlights, such as Fallout 4 and Rise of the Tomb Raider AMD Crossfire profiles, as well as performance and quality improvements for Rise of the Tomb Raider. Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.1.1 hotfix also resolves some issues for gamers, such as display corruption on systems with multiple monitors, crashing of Battlefield Hardline when altering graphic quality settings, brightness flickering in some games when AMD FreeSync was enabled, and custom game profiles resetting back to default settings after a system restart, just to name a few.

The hotfix version of Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.1.1, which is available for 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows 7, 8.1, and 10, and can be downloaded immediately from the source link below.

Source: AMD


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BitFenix Introduces Alchemy 2.0 Modular Cables

Posted: February 5, 2016 @ time: 01:24AM
Author: gebraset

BitFenix, a creator of hardware and peripherals that grant the user the utmost control, strength, and performance to complete their computing tasks, has officially released the Alchemy 2.0 modular cable. Alchemy 2.0 improves on the original Alchemy product line thanks to the feedback received from some of the world’s most prolific case modders. The new sleeved cables from BitFenix boast a premium ultra-dense weave, a unique multi-sleeved construction, pure copper strand cables up to 16AWG thick, and high current alloy terminals that provide maximum efficiency. Alchemy 2.0, which comes in a multitude of colors and six models that support six different modular power supply series, also features rubber cable combs that prevent damage to the sleeve, thereby ensuring long life.

Source: Press Release


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TrackMania Turbo Releases on March 22

Posted: February 5, 2016 @ time: 06:23AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

The next game in the TrackMania franchise, TrackMania Turbo, is releasing on March 22 for PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4. The game has over 200 tracks in four environments; Rollercoaster Lagoon, International Stadium, Canyon Grand Drift, and Valley Down & Dirty. The first is set in a tropical paradise while the latter three are returning areas with reworked gameplay and graphics. If you want even more tracks, the Trackbuilder Tool will allow you to build any number of tracks to test your skills. The game also features dedicated new car designs and a new artistic direction.

You can watch the Release Date trailer below, which shows off the game's matchbox cars speeding around the tracks.

 

 

Source: Press Release


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Hardware Roundup: Friday, February 5, 2016, Edition

Posted: February 5, 2016 @ time: 09:55AM
Author: bp9801

The end of the week has arrived, but before the weekend hits, we have a couple items for you to check out. There's a look at the Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum RGB Mechanical Keyboard, which uses the company's own Romer-G switches and a fairly clean look to deliver a keyboard that should appeal to nearly everyone. Our other item is a new case mod that forgets the case and builds it into something you can mount directly on your wall. It still has all the components necessary, including a GTX 980 and a full water cooling setup, but in a fully exposed design.

Keyboards/Mice
Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum RGB Mechanical Keyboard @ PC Perspective

Miscellany
Case Mod Friday: ROG Wall @ ThinkComputers


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Horus GK2000 Gaming Keyboard Announced by ASUS ROG

Posted: February 7, 2016 @ time: 01:33AM
Author: gebraset

ASUS Republic of Gamers has officially announced the Horus GK2000 gaming keyboard. The Horus GK2000 is a mechanical input device that features Cherry MX Red switches, CNC-processed aluminum accents with a special top coating, an anodized keyboard plate with a brushed finish, and red LED lighting. The latest keyboard from ASUS ROG comes with an embedded 32-bit MCU as well as 4 MB of onboard memory, allowing gamers to store settings such as lighting and macro functions. The onboard memory allows for 10 user profiles to be stored, each containing up to 80 macro commands for mouse, PC, and media-control functions. The Horus GK2000 also features 100 percent anti-ghosting with N-Key rollover technology, a two port USB 2.0 hub, an audio and microphone pass-through, an 80 cm braided cable, a removable palm rest, a detachable stand for mobile devices, and two-way adjustable fold-out feet. ASUS ROG is even providing customers with a specially designed neoprene carrying case for the keyboard, allowing gamers to transport the Horus GK2000 and other peripherals and accessories in a protective and well designed package.

Source: TechPowerUp


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New Chip Could Bring AI to Phones and More

Posted: February 8, 2016 @ time: 06:28AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Neural networks and artificial intelligence are both things that have seemed to largely exist in science fiction for a long time, but recently advanced computer systems have been making them a reality. For most people though, these systems are something remote that data has to be sent to for processing. Thanks to researchers at MIT, we may actually be able to fit them into our pockets.

Neural networks are systems meant to emulate the operation of our brains with simple processing units. As GPUs are comprised of a great many cores, these are often used to create neural networks, and at 200 cores, even mobile GPUs can be used. The chip the MIT researchers created though is 10 times more efficiency than a mobile GPU, so it could allow mobile devices to run AI algorithms without help from the Cloud. To achieve this efficiency, the researchers designed the chip to reduce the number of times the cores access memory, which takes time and uses energy, and a circuit compresses the data before sending it. The cores also have the ability to communicate with their neighbors, so they can directly share data as needed. Finally there is special-purpose circuitry for allocating tasks to the cores, and this circuitry can be reprogrammed depending on what kind of network is desired.

Besides the possibility of phones being able to perform tasks locally and privately, this chip could also advance the Internet of Things by bringing neural networks to a variety of places. This would allow important decisions to be made automatically and without having to call back to a server, and would of course be helpful in battery-powered autonomous robots.

Source: MIT


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Hardware Roundup: Monday, February 8, 2016, Edition

Posted: February 8, 2016 @ time: 10:11AM
Author: bp9801

A new week begins with some items for you to check out, starting with the Scythe Ninja 4 SCNH-4000 CPU cooler. This cooler is a tower-style heat sink that may seem massive, yet can help lower system noise thanks to a quiet fan. We also have the QNAP TS-453A 4-bay QTS-Ubuntu Combo NAS, which can work as a home server or full on media center thanks to Ubuntu. Our final item for today is the Dell XPS 13 laptop, updated at the end of last year with a Skylake CPU, USB Type C with Thunderbolt 3 support, and plenty more to try and make this laptop the one to get.

CPU Cooling
Scythe Ninja 4 SCNH-4000 @ Frostytech

Storage/Hard Drives
QNAP TS-453A 4-bay QTS-Ubuntu Combo NAS @ Madshrimps

Laptops/Tablets
Dell XPS 13 @ TechSpot


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$1700 AMD Polaris GPU Found in Shipping Database

Posted: February 8, 2016 @ time: 01:23PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

With both AMD and NVIDIA making major shifts to 14 nm production nodes this year, there has been a great deal of interest in any bit of information about the upcoming GPU series. This latest data point comes from Zauba's shipping database where it lists a C99 graphics card, with a per unit value of roughly $1700. It is not clear what this is exactly, but with such a high value, it is likely meant for a very high-end Polaris-based graphics card, and perhaps even a dual GPU card. The Polaris series of GPUs have a release target of mid-2016.

Other Polaris GPUs have been spotted in this shipping database before and appear to form an interesting timeline. Previously C91, C92, and C98 GPUs have been found in the database, with the C98 appearing in December 2015 and the C91 and C92 chips going as far back as January 2015. In August 2015 the C91 and C92 chips gained their FOC designations, which was just months before Polaris GPUs were first shown off to the press. Potentially those demonstrated GPUs are these C91 and C92 graphics cards, which would also mean that AMD has had them in their labs for over a full year now. The C98 is likely one of the high-end chips, based on its having a per-unit value one third greater than AMD's Hawaii chips.

Source: WCCFtech


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Phanteks Announces Eclipse P400 and P400S Cases

Posted: February 8, 2016 @ time: 04:53PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Phanteks has announced its latest case series with the Eclipse P400 and P400S. The P400S is the Silent Edition of the base model case and both cases will be available in Satin Black, Anthracite Grey, and Glacier White. The cases are described as "compact midtowers that are easy for beginning PC builders that want to create a clean and beautiful build." Phanteks used the Enthoo series as a base for the case with metal exterior, RGB lighting, dust filters, and radiator mount points. The P400S has all the features of the base model with the added bonus of a soundproofing layer and 3-speed fan controller. The P400 has an MSRP of $69.99 without a window or $79.99 with a window, while prices for the P400S are $10 higher in both cases.

Source: Press Release


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Ubisoft Responds to Claims That PC Version of The Division Is Held Back by Consoles

Posted: February 8, 2016 @ time: 05:12PM
Author: CheeseMan42

It is no secret that when comparing the graphics and performance of a game released on both PC and consoles, the PC version usually comes out on top due to a number of factors including more powerful hardware and customization options. Ubisoft is now facing accusations that the PC version of its upcoming game The Division is being "held back" by the console versions of the game. The accusations are based on an interview that YouTubers Team Epiphany did with a Ubisoft developer who said "We do have to kind of keep it in check with consoles because it would kind of be unfair just to push it so far away from them." Ubisoft has now responded stating, "It has come to our attention that a comment from one of our team members has been perceived by some members of the community to imply the PC version of The Division was 'held back' and this is simply not true. From the beginning, the PC version of The Division was developed from the ground up and we're confident players will enjoy the game and the features this version has to offer. And the feedback from PC players who participated in the recent closed beta supports this." It will be interesting to see how the different versions of the game compare when the final version is released.

Source: PCGamesN


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First 4K Blu-Ray Player Released

Posted: February 8, 2016 @ time: 07:04PM
Author: Onion

Much to the delight of 4K TV owners, the first 4K Blu-Ray player is now on sale. Samsung’s UBD-K8500 was scheduled to roll out in March after being announced in Q4 2015, but some shops already have the player in stock. Customers ordering from Best Buy have been informed that it will ship on February 10. The Samsung UBD-K8500 can stream 4K video from Netflix thanks to its built in Wi-Fi adapter. It supports full 7.1 channel audio, and can play standard Blu-Rays, DVDs, and CDs. While there is a definite lack of 4K content, multiple studios have announced films will be released and re-released in Ultra High Definition. Titles such as The Martian are available on pre-order with shipping dates as early as March 1.

Source: The Verge


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Assets and USB Technology of IronKey from Imation is Acquired by Kingston Digital

Posted: February 8, 2016 @ time: 11:12PM
Author: gebraset

Kingston Digital, the flash memory affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, has revealed that it has officially acquired the assets and USB technology of IronKey from Imation. The acquisition provides customers with a comprehensive set of products and solutions, thereby demonstrating the commitment that Kingston has when it comes to providing trusted encryption solutions for mobile data. Valentina Vitolo, the Flash Business Manager at Kingston, noted that "The addition and integration of the IronKey brand with our own award-winning line of DataTraveler encrypted USB drives provides a dynamic range of encrypted solutions for customers of all levels who want to protect mobile data." Vitolo went on to say that "Having our great partner DataLocker manage both the EMS and SafeConsole platforms is a win for all of our combined customers."

Kingston notes that there will be no immediate change to the way that businesses work with channel partners currently supporting IronKey products. Kingston also announced that more information surrounding the acquisition of the assets and USB technology of IronKey from Imation will be available at the RSA Conference 2016 in San Francisco, CA, which runs from February 29 to March 4.

Source: TechPowerUp


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Batteries Might Get a Boost from Pollen

Posted: February 9, 2016 @ time: 08:59AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Pollen is a fairly common material in Nature, and for those with allergies, it may be a bit too common. Either way this makes it interesting as a potential feedstock and researchers at Purdue University have found an intriguing use for it. By processing pollen into carbon, the researchers were able to create anodes for lithium-ion batteries with some impressive properties.

The researchers started with bee pollen and cattail pollen, and with a process called pyrolysis created pure carbon. This process involves heating the material to high temperatures in a chamber of argon gas, leaving a pure-carbon version of the original object. This pollen-derived carbon was then activated at around 300 ºC in an oxygen environment, causing pores to form. These pores improve the energy storage capacity of the carbon by increasing its surface area. The researchers next took the pollen anodes and found that while it took 10 hours to fully charge them only one hour was needed to reach more than half charge. In theory the graphite anodes currently used in lithium-ion batteries can reach 372 milliamp hours, and with just one hour reached 200 mA hours with these new anodes.

In the future the researchers intend to test these anodes in a full-cell battery with a commercial cathode. Further testing will be required to determine just how viable these anodes will be, and perhaps ways to improve their efficiency will also be discovered.

Source: Purdue University


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Sony Announces SLW-M Series SSD

Posted: February 9, 2016 @ time: 09:19AM
Author: Onion

Sony-Asia has announced its first solid state drives that will sell in retail. The Asia-based company is being careful and testing its regional market with only two models of its SSD, a 240 GB and a 480 GB version. Sony’s SLW-M SSDs come in the standard 2.5 inch form factor and use a SATA-6 Gbps interface. The drives are said to be capable of up to 560 MB/s sequential read speed and up to 530 MB/s sequential write speed. As a bonus for the customer, the drives come with Acronis True Image 2015 and Sony SSD ToolBox pre-loaded to help users manage and back up their data. The SLW-M SSDs feature a Phison PS3110-S10 controller and a buffer of 128 MB DDR3 made by Nanya. These specifications are very promising for Sony, and its choice of hardware indicates it is trying to compete with the more affordable SSDs on the market, like the OCZ Trion 100 series and the Kingston HyperX Savage.

Source: Anandtech


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Amazon Launches Lumberyard Game Engine and Amazon GameLift

Posted: February 9, 2016 @ time: 09:50AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Back in August 2014, Amazon surprised a great many by purchasing Twitch for almost $1 billion. The company's latest move is perhaps less surprising though as it has launched its own game engine, Lumberyard. This engine is based on technologies from CryEngine, Double Helix Games, which was also purchased by Amazon in 2014, and AWS, or Amazon Web Services. The engine is completely free to use, including its source code, and comes with Twitch integration. The only thing Amazon will charge a developer for is its uses of AWS.

Also announced today is Amazon GameLift for Lumberyard games. It is a service for deploying, operating, and scaling multiplayer game sessions, which will hopefully cut the time it takes developers to build the multiplayer backend needed for many of today's games. With it game servers can be deployed across the AWS Cloud and the capacity can be scaled up and down as needed, thanks to real-time reporting of server capacity and player demand. It is currently available in AWS US East and US West regions and costs $1.50 per 1000 Daily Active Users on top of the standard AWS fees.

Source: Amazon


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Hardware Roundup: Tuesday, February 9, 2016, Edition

Posted: February 9, 2016 @ time: 09:58AM
Author: bp9801

Another Tuesday has arrived, bringing with it a couple of items for you to check out. We have a review of the NZXT Manta case that offers some unique external styling thanks to the curved panels and an overall clean appearance. If you need a case that's even smaller, perhaps the Fractal Design Core 500 SFF case is for you, with this tiny case holding a Mini-ITX motherboard and plenty of full-size components.

Cases
NZXT Manta @ ThinkComputers
Fractal Design Core 500 SFF @ Madshrimps


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The Division Getting an Open Beta

Posted: February 9, 2016 @ time: 10:08AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Starting the end of January, Ubisoft held a closed beta for the upcoming Tom Clancy's The Division game and if you missed it, do not worry, you will get a second chance soon. Today Ubisoft has announced The Division is getting an open beta February 19-21 for the PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One. For Xbox One players it starts a day early, so you can have an additional 24 hours of exclusive access.

The open beta will include the content featured in the closed beta along with a new story mission. Everyone who plays in the beta will receive a special in-game reward once the full game releases on March 8.

Source: The Division Official Website


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Intel Skylake Overclocked to 7GHz

Posted: February 9, 2016 @ time: 04:14PM
Author: CheeseMan42

The Intel Core i7-6700K is the "flagship" processor of the Skylake architecture with a base speed of 4GHz, but the base speed is never enough for some people. Overclocker Chi-Kui Lam managed to achieve a clock speed of 7025.66MHz, breaking the record for highest clock speed on the new architecture, but falling short of the highest clock speed of 8722.78MHz, obtained using an AMD FX-8370. Lam paired the CPU with an ASRock motherboard, G.SKILL memory, a 1300W Antec power supply, and liquid nitrogen cooling. In addition to the ultra low temperature cooling provided by the liquid nitrogen, Lam also chose to disable all but one core to give the best chance of achieving high clock speeds.

Source: Hot Hardware


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Non-K Skylake CPUs Can No Longer be Overclocked Due to CPU Microcode Update

Posted: February 9, 2016 @ time: 04:34PM
Author: gebraset

In July of last year, it was reported that Skylake processors from Intel that were not a part of the K-series would be able to be overclocked due to changes made by motherboard manufacturers. Then, in December of last year, ASRock released a BIOS update that enabled overclocking for Intel Skylake CPUs that were not marketed as being overclockable. Now, Intel has pushed an official CPU microcode update to various motherboard partners that unfortunately disables the ability for customers to overclock their non-K series Skylake processors. An Intel spokesman noted that "The latest update provided to partners includes, among other things, code that aligns with the position that we do not recommend overclocking processors that have not been designed to do so." The spokesman went on to say that "Additionally, Intel does not warranty the operation of the processor beyond its specifications."

Fortunately for consumers, the CPU microcode update that disables the ability for Intel Skylake processors that are not a part of the K-series to be overclocked will only make its way onto motherboards with a BIOS update. So, in short, consumers can still overclock their non-K series Skylake processors as long as they continue to utilize the BIOS update that enabled the feature in the first place.

Source: TechPowerUp


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PC Bundles Announced for Oculus Rift

Posted: February 9, 2016 @ time: 04:38PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Oculus has announced a number of "Oculus Ready" systems from ASUS, Alienware, and Dell. The systems start at $1,500 when bundled with the Rift, including a bundle discount. The cheapest system features an Intel Core i5-6400, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, 8GB of DDR4, and a 1TB hard drive. At the other end of the spectrum the system uses a Core i7-5820K, GTX 980, 16GB of DDR4, a 128GB SSD, and a 2TB hard drive for $3,150. None of the bundles include an AMD video card despite the fact that the cards do support the Oculus Rift.

Source: PC World


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Nanotubes Cleaned with Microwave Oven

Posted: February 10, 2016 @ time: 08:58AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Carbon nanotubes are an interesting material with multiple forms and many possible applications. For some of these applications though, they have to be very pure and removing imperfections can be difficult and costly. Researchers at Rice University though have discovered that microwaving the nanotubes can make removing impurities a lot easier than other methods.

Carbon nanotubes are grown from metal catalysts, like iron, when exposed to a heated gas. Sometimes there are residual metal particles left on or inside the nanotubes after they are grown, and these impurities can significantly impact the nanotube's properties. Because the particles will also be encapsulated by carbon atoms, they are difficult to remove, but the researchers found that if the nanotubes are first put into a 1000 W microwave oven, they became much easier to remove with an oxidizing chlorine-gas bath. Mostly this worked to remove the particles on the surface of the nanotubes, and not those that were within their walls. Luckily these do not pose as great an issue for many applications.

For use in electronics, nanotubes do not have to be perfect, but that is not the case for drug delivery applications and solar panels. It is in these fields that this research could prove most useful for eventually bringing about advanced technology based on nanotubes.

Source: Rice University


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Hardware Roundup: Wednesday, February 10, 2016, Edition

Posted: February 10, 2016 @ time: 09:58AM
Author: bp9801

The middle of the week is here, with several items along the way to get you through the day. There's a look at the Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV ITX case, a small yet striking case with its black exterior and red interior to set it apart from the crowd. For some power needs, we have a review on the EVGA 750W GQ power supply, which is a budget model for those needing a solid PSU without breaking the bank. If you need a new way to control your games, perhaps the Ozone Neon Precision Laser Mouse is the one for you, with its 6400DPI and eight programmable buttons. To help hear your games, we have a review of the GAMDIAS EROS ELITE EQ headset, which has 7.1 surround sound and an attractive price. Ending things for today is a way to spruce up your mechanical keyboard with the Hot Keys Project Artisan Keycaps, providing a bit of style and flair to an otherwise typical keyboard look.

Cases
Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV ITX @ PC Perspective

Power Supplies
EVGA 750W GQ @ PC Perspective

Keyboards/Mice
Ozone Neon Precision Laser Mouse @ Neoseeker
Hot Keys Project Artisan Keycaps @ LanOC Reviews

Speakers/Headphones
GAMDIAS EROS ELITE EQ Headset @ Benchmark Reviews


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Sequel to Frozen Synapse Announced

Posted: February 10, 2016 @ time: 03:55PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Mode 7 Games has announced a sequel to its 2011 strategy game Frozen Synapse, to be released sometime this year. Frozen Synapse 2 has been in development "for quite a long time" according to the announcement made on Twitter by co-founder Paul Kilduff-Taylor. Not much more is known about the game at this time, with the developer promising to release more information "very soon."

Source: IGN


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GeForce GTX 980 Ti VR Edition Now Available from EVGA

Posted: February 10, 2016 @ time: 08:51PM
Author: gebraset

EVGA has officially released the GeForce GTX 980 Ti VR Edition, the company's latest video card aimed at gamers and those who want a stellar virtual reality experience. The GeForce GTX 980 Ti VR Edition is available with the reference NVIDIA cooler, as well as EVGA's ACX 2.0+ cooler that provides improved cooling, reduced fan noise, and better overclocking potential. Both cards come with 6GB of GDDR5 memory, 2,816 NVIDIA CUDA cores, as well as an internal HDMI connector that works with the included 5.25-inch drive way. The drive bay is really what makes the GeForce GTX 980 Ti VR Edition from EVGA shine, as it allows gamers to connect their VR device to front facing HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports. All cords that provide connectivity to the 5.25-inch drive bay are routed internally, so cabling remains clean and worry free.

Source: TechPowerUp


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New TFT Architecture Significantly Improves Performance

Posted: February 11, 2016 @ time: 07:16AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Thin film transistors (TFTs) are normally found in low-power, low-frequency devices because they lack the performance necessary for more powerful technologies. That could be changing soon though, thanks to researchers at the University of Alberta and the new architecture they have designed. This work could be used to create advance flexible technologies.

Previous attempts to improve TFTs have been hampered by the necessity to develop new materials or improve old ones for the metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistor (MOSFET) architecture used. By creating a new design, the Alberta researchers avoided that problem. This new design utilizes bipolar action, which means both electrons and the positively charged holes they leave behind are used. To achieve this, the researchers had to overcome the challenge of creating an inversion hole layer in a wide-bandgap semiconductor. With that, the researchers could combine semiconductor and insulating layers that holes could be injected into. These holes then increased the likelihood of electrons tunneling across the insulating barrier, which previously had been seen as a problem for TFTs.

This new transistor can handle at least 10 times the power modern commercial TFTs can, and this architecture allows it to be easily scaled to improve performance and keep up with miniaturization. The next step is to get the transistors into a fully flexible medium and put them to use in different areas.

Source: University of Alberta


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Gravitational Waves Detected for the First Time

Posted: February 11, 2016 @ time: 09:40AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

In 1915 Einstein published the General Theory of Relativity, from which many predictions were made, and one of them has only recently been confirmed. Researchers have for the first time detected gravitational waves with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). The waves were detected on September 14, 2015 by the twin LIGO detectors and likely the result of a pair of black holes merging some 1.3 billion years ago.

Gravitational waves are actual ripples made in spacetime as two massive objects revolve about each other, and eventually collide. Their existence was first demonstrated in the 1970s and '80s when a pulsar's orbit about a neutron star was discovered to be shrinking because of the creation of gravitational waves. In this case though, it was likely a pair of black holes weighing in at 29 and 36 solar masses. As the pair revolved about each other, gravitational waves would be produced, causing the orbit to shrink until they collide and merge into a single, more massive black hole. This merger also created a burst of gravitational waves as three solar masses were converted to energy following the famous E=mc2 formula. The peak power output was about 50 times that of the visible Universe.

As powerful as these waves are, they are hard to catch, which is why the LIGO detectors were built. These detectors are four kilometers long and work by splitting a laser into two beams and bouncing them between mirrors to precisely measure their positions. According to General Relativity, gravitational waves alter the distance between two points, and the two LIGO detectors are able to notice a change of 10-19 meters (a nanometer is 10-9 m). One detector is located in Louisiana and the other in Washington, and because the Louisiana detector picked it up 7 milliseconds before the other, we know the source was in the Southern Hemisphere.

Source: National Science Foundation


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