|Time Warner slings free Maxx upgrades to counter Google Fiber||76|
|AMD's high-bandwidth memory explained||258|
|Asus' Transformer Book T300 Chi convertible reviewed||28|
Cisco has published an extensive report foretelling the future of Internet traffic. The networking firm expects annual global traffic to exceed one zettabyte (a billion terabytes) next year, and it says that figure will double by 2019.
The growth will be fueled largely by streaming video, which comprised 67% of all traffic last year. According to the report, video will account for 80% of traffic by 2019. Those totals don't include traffic from video files shared via peer-to-peer networks, but they do reflect a shift toward higher-quality content that consumes additional bandwidth.
As one might expect, much of the new traffic will come from mobile devices. PCs made up 60% of Internet traffic last year, but the report says their share will shrink to 33% over the next five years. Cisco predicts a 10X increase in mobile traffic over the same period. No wonder wireless devices are expected to take over the lion's share of traffic next year.
The report is loaded with other tidbits, like the fact that traffic during the busiest hour of the day is growing at a faster rate than the overall average and the assertion that the number of connected devices will be triple the global population in 2019. Cisco says there were almost two networked devices for every human being on the planet last year, so we're already outnumbered. Thanks to Gizmodo for the tip.Wednesday Shortbread
Eight is Enough
Read more... Perception first-person explorer puts players in a blind
Now, here's something refreshing that we don't get to see every day. The Deep End Games has unveiled Perception, a first-person horror/exploration game with a blind main character.
Players assume the role of Cassie Thornton, who visits an estate with a "Presence" that won't let her leave. So far, so cliché. However, the whole blindness angle looks rather well executed. The game simulates seeing the world through echolocation, with sounds lighting up the environment around you. The video below is quite illustrative:
Cassie is assisted by her cane and by her boyfriend over a smartphone, but due to a storm, the latter isn't always available. You have to keep hiding from the Presence, and you can use objects as diversions. Sound is required to see, but making noise can also be risky.
The project is being funded via Kickstarter, and one of the most interesting stretch goals includes VR support, which sounds quite exciting. You can read more at Polygon.Leak claims Skylake Xeons have up to 28 cores, new memory architecture
Ready for another leaked slide deck detailing unannounced products? EXPreview has posted official-looking documents spelling out Intel's plans for Xeon processors based on its upcoming Skylake architecture. The chips aren't due until 2017, according to the leak, and there appears to be quite a lot of goodness in store.
The new Xeons will purportedly be part of a Purley platform that's billed as the "biggest platform advancement since Nehalem." According to the slides, they will have up to 28 cores with Hyper-Threading support—an increase from the 22-24 cores expected in comparable Xeons based on Broadwell. They'll also feature new AVX-512 instructions. Thermal envelopes will reportedly span 45-165W.
On the memory front, the leak shows six channels of DDR4. One of the slides also mentions an "all new memory architecture" that possibly refers to the NVDIMM standard announced yesterday. NVDIMMs allow non-volatile storage to intermingle with system memory using the same slots, either as a backup for volatile DRAM or as SSD-like storage.
If EXPreview's information is accurate, Skylake Xeons will have up to 48 PCIe Gen3 lanes built in. Intel's Omni-Path Fabric is apparently part of the platform, along with quad 10-Gigabit Ethernet controllers. One of the slides also lists "optional integrated accelerators" that can assist with encryption, compression, media transcoding, and potentially other tasks.
Although the details in the slides aren't confirmed, they do look plausible given Intel's current trajectory. I'd also expect the company to roll out a Skylake version of its lower-power Xeon D processor, which is the company's first server chip to adopt Broadwell guts.Microsoft is bringing a little slice of Windows 10 to Android, iOS
A major theme of Windows 10 is the consistent experience provided across various devices and screen sizes, from phones to tablets to full-blown desktop PCs. Microsoft even wants to make some of the Windows 10 universe available to those who aren't using Windows Mobile (that is to say, most of us). To make this possible, Win10 will include a Phone Companion app to help Android and iOS users set up the right Microsoft cloud services on their devices. Microsoft will also release a version of its Cortana personal assistant for those operating systems.
Based on the screenshots and video Microsoft has provided, it looks like the Phone Companion app will basically walk owners of non-Microsoft phones through the process of setting up apps like OneDrive, Office, and Xbox Music on their respective operating systems.
Through the magical power of the cloud, pictures taken on iOS or Android will then be automatically uploaded to OneDrive, making them accessible through Windows 10's Photos app. Music stored in OneDrive will be available for playback on any device with the Xbox Music app installed. Office apps will pick up files stored in OneDrive, and notes made through Cortana and OneNote will automatically sync across devices, as well.
Speaking of Cortana, a standalone version of Microsoft's digital assistant will be coming to iOS and Android, too. Though it won't be as deeply integrated into these operating systems as it is in Windows Mobile, Cortana will still be able to provide reminders, take notes, and answer questions about subjects like the weather. Folks without Windows Mobile devices won't be able to invoke the assistant by saying "Hey Cortana" or toggle settings with voice commands, though.The Verge parent Vox Media acquires Re/code
Two titans of the tech news sphere—The Verge and Re/code—will soon operate under the same umbrella. Re/code chiefs Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher announced yesterday that the site is being acquired by Vox Media, parent company of The Verge, and that it'll continue to operate independently under the new management.
One could be forgiven for wondering how the two publications will manage the apparent overlap in their missions. To that end, The Verge's editor-in-chief, Nilay Patel, has laid out a vision for how the new siblings will coexist. The Verge will focus on "mainstream lifestyle and technology" coverage, while Re/code will provide coverage of how "the money and business of technology works."
Re/code, formerly All Things D, will also continue to hold its annual Code conference. Vox Media says it may expand the site's conference chops to its other brands in the future.Charter Communications to acquire Time Warner Cable
One month after Comcast abandoned its takeover bid, Time Warner Cable has found another buyer. According to the New York Times, Charter Communications has agreed to cough up $56.7 billion for the company. When combined with a separate deal to swallow Bright House Networks, the acquisition will reportedly give Charter 24 million customers—just shy of the 27 million serviced by market leader Comcast.
The merger would help Charter compete with its larger rival, but regulatory approval is still required. Reuters says Federal Communications Commission head Tom Wheeler wants to "look and see how American consumers would benefit" from the deal.
Although the prospect of an uphill battle with regulators apparently prompted Comcast to bail on its acquisition attempt, the situation is very different here. Charter lacks Comcast's media divisions, making this a merger between service providers rather than the expansion of a vertically integrated conglomerate.
Charter first proposed a merger with Time Warner Cable in early 2014, so the deal marks the potentially successful conclusion of a prolonged courtship. It's unclear how long government gatekeepers will take to weigh in on the marriage.Oculus buys 3D scene reconstruction firm Surreal Vision
Oculus has acquired Surreal Vision, a company comprising computer vision scientists from Imperial College, London, who specialize in 3D scene reconstruction—turning real-life settings into 3D ones in real time, in other words.
To understand why Surreal Vision is a good fit for Oculus, it's best to look at the videos depicting some of the firm's computer vision techniques: DTAM, SLAM++, and Dynamic Fusion. The latter, shown below, provides real-time shape recognition so effective that it looks straight out of science fiction. It makes me scared, though. The Terminators will be very hard to escape when they can so easily spot us among the rubble in the dark.
Surreal Vision's press release mentions applications in virtual telepresence and augmented reality, and I'm sure we'll see a lot more than that through our VR goggles.Something big and expensive is coming from Antec
The Computex officially begins next week, but Antec is antsy to get the word out about one of the products it's premiering at the show. We know it's a case called the S1, and it's supposed to be a flagship enclosure in the company's new Signature line. Here's the teaser video:
The S1 will purportedly feature an all-new exterior and interior design, and the MSRP is an eye-popping $500, making this one of the most expensive cases on the market. We'll find out more about this exotic enclosure soon.JEDEC standardizes NVDIMM for RAM-like flash storage
We're all used to the idea of an SSD plugging into a SATA port or M.2 slot by now, but the notion of non-volatile storage that can slide into a RAM slot is still a little weird. We've seen one such product from SanDisk, and there may soon be many more. JEDEC has announced a new standard for RAM-like hybrid memory modules called non-volatile DIMMs, or NVDIMMs. These devices will plug into DDR4 slots alongside regular DDR4 DIMMs.
Unlike a traditional DRAM module, an NVDIMM can retain data when it's powered off. JEDEC is initially standardizing two types: the NVDIMM-N, which combines DRAM and flash chips on one module to preserve data through a power outage or other interruption; and the NVDIMM-F, which is an entirely flash-based module that behaves like an SSD.
Multiple manufacturers are producing NVDIMMs now, with official product announcements set to arrive in "the coming months."Apple patents keyboard with integrated touch sensors
Not content to let its keyboards lag behind touch-infused designs like the Blackberry Passport and Synaptics ThinTouch, Apple has been granted a patent (initially filed back in 2011) for its own keyboard with touch sensors. The examples laid out in the patent show a full-sized keyboard laced with capacitive sensors that let users perform actions like swipes, taps, and other gestures without moving their hands away from the home row.
Key and touch input are processed separately, so users can type with one hand while performing multi-touch gestures with the other. The patent also covers a handful of time-based techniques for distinguishing standard keystrokes from touch events.
Separate from the touch mojo, the patent describes dual-purpose keys that activate different functions depending on how far they're depressed. There are no concrete usage examples in the patent, but it's easy enough to imagine typing lower-case letters at a shallow depth and capitals at a deeper one.
There's currently no word of any Apple products with this keyboard/touchpad hybrid, but the design could potentially allow for some nifty form factors. Knowing Apple's technical acumen with touch hardware, this looks quite interesting. Thanks to AppleInsider for the tip.LG site reveals 27'' FreeSync monitor with 4K IPS panel
There's a new variable-refresh monitor in town—or halfway around the world, anyway. LG's Australian site lists the 27MU67, a 27-incher with all the right buzzwords attached. The display has an IPS panel with a 4K resolution, and it's also infused with AMD's FreeSync tech.
Although the full specifications are missing from the product page, the bullet points reveal a few choice details. The display boasts 10-bit color and 99% sRGB coverage, according to LG. And, as one might expect, the resolution is 3840x2160 rather than a "full" 4K.
Input is split between dual HDMI ports, one DisplayPort, and one Mini DP. A four-way split-screen mode can show images from all those inputs at once. The stand is fully adjustable, but there doesn't appear to be an integrated USB hub onboard.
Crucially, the product page lacks information on the range of supported refresh rates. Given what we know about other 4K FreeSync displays, don't expect a peak frequency over 60Hz.
I can't find a press release formally introducing the 27MU67, but LG pegs the price at $799 AUD, which works out to $619 USD. That seems about right given the price differences between other LG displays. The firm's 34" ultra-wide FreeSync monitor is listed at $849 in Australia and $650 in the U.S. Thanks to TFT Central for the tip.The TR BBQ XII happens August 15, 2015
Mark your calendars and make your plans, folks. This year's TR BBQ extravaganza is set to happen on August 15 at DrFish's lakeside cottage in Holland, Michigan.
If you're unfamiliar with the BBQ, have a look at this report from last year's event to get a sense of what happens there. We get up to a lot of different things throughout the course of the day.
You can find more info about the event and logistics by digging into this forum thread. Come and join us if you can!Here's our discussion and first impressions of the Asus ZenFone 2
Asus' officially introduced its ZenFone 2 last week, and we have one in hand to test. The ZenFone 2 is an impressive device for under $200, with a quad-core Intel processor, a very nice 5.5" IPS panel, and Android Lollipop. We have some early impressions from our hands-on time with this new smartphone.
I'm working on a full review, but it's one of many projects brewing in Damage Labs. We'll see when it's finished.Jony Ive becomes Apple's first-ever chief design officer
On an otherwise sleepy Memorial Day, Apple had some news to share. Jony Ive, formerly senior vice president of design, has taken on the role of chief design officer, a new position in the company's executive suite. A pair of his deputies, Alan Dye and Richard Howarth, will serve as heads of user interface design and industrial design, respectively. The news broke in an article written by Stephen Fry for the Telegraph, and it was later corroborated by a memo from Tim Cook obtained by 9to5Mac.
Ive told Fry that the new position will allow him to focus less on management and administrative work, while he devotes more time to travel and Apple's retail stores. As for Dye and Howarth, it appears that the day-to-day running of the design team will be in experienced hands.
Howarth has been with the company for 20 years, according to Cook's memo, and he's worked on the iPhone and Mac. Dye, in his nine years with Cupertino, has helped to shape the design of iOS 7 and 8, as well as the software that powers the Apple Watch.Braswell NUCs follow established formula
Official PDFs detailing Braswell NUCs have appeared on Intel's website. The Technical Product Specification and Integration Guide describe a pair of mini-PCs based on the Celeron N3050 and Pentium N3700, low-power SoCs built on the latest 14-nm fabrication tech. The Celeron offers dual Atom-class cores clocked up to 2.16GHz, while the Pentium doubles the cores and cranks the peak frequency up to 2.4GHz.
Despite Braswell's dual memory channels, the NUCs employ a single SO-DIMM slot each. And, despite the SoC's modest 6W thermal envelope, the technical brief shows an active blower rather than passive cooling. Ugh.
Storage is handled by a single SATA bay that can accept SSDs and mobile hard drives up to 9.5 mm thick. There's an M.2 slot, as well, but it comes pre-loaded with an 802.11ac Wi-Fi card. Although Intel supplies the wireless, Gigabit Ethernet is farmed out to a Realtek chip.
The internal storage is complemented by an SD slot tucked into the left side of the chassis. Dual USB 3.0 ports are available at the front and rear, complete with fast charging support for one of the front-facing units. Audio and video can be piped through the HDMI out, and the rear audio jack supports both analog and optical output. Not bad for a budget system squeezed into a 4" x 4" footprint.Dirty Bomb mixes FPS elements into a potent brew
Jr. Damage Gyromancer is back with another video offering his first impressions of a game. This time, his subject is Dirty Bomb, an upcoming arena shooter that folds in elements from a bunch of different popular FPS game types. Looks interesting.
I've watched him play some, and this could well be the game that becomes our go-to LAN party option soon. The visuals are nice, too.The TR Podcast 176: Project Cars, cable to the Maxx & the Tao of Chi
The video of our latest TR Podcast live stream is now available on YouTube. This week we talked about Project Cars and hard-core racing sims versus arcadey racers. Then we dug into Asus' new ZenFone 2, Time Warner's Maxx service, and Asus' Transformer T300 Chi convertible. We also answered some questions from the audience.
Oh, if you click through to the YouTube version, there are clickable timestamps in the description this time!
As usual, the audio version of the podcast will be made available when we have it edited. In the meantime, you can enjoy the raw video version above. Thanks to everybody who watched live. We appreciate your questions and participation.Friday night topic: how dinosaurs probably looked
There's a new Jurassic Park movie coming out soon, over 20 years since the first movie and Michael Crichton's books changed the popular image of dinosaurs from slow-moving reptiles to quicker, warm-blooded animals. The academic consensus on dinosaurs has changed quite a bit since then, largely because we've come to accept that dinosaurs are closely related to modern-day birds.
Like it or not, the new movie will not follow in Crichton's footsteps by reconfiguring its dinos to look as we now suspect they did: frequently covered with feathers or downy proto-feathers, perhaps with brightly-colored plumage and display structures made of keratin. I think it's a missed opportunity to put some incredibly talented people in Hollywood on the path of a particularly difficult challenge: to imagine and illustrate how dinosaurs actually looked based on the best current evidence.
This challenge has been met with some pretty poor work, by and large. We've all seen the illustrations in books and such. Now have a look at this hilarious set of example images showing modern animals illustrated in the "paleo art" style. I think the killer whale is my favorite, because it best captures the difference between the skeletal tracing artists have done and the bits that happen in soft tissue.
This sketch elicited immediate recognition from me. The paleo-art style is hilariously off the mark. Makes you wonder what we're missing with our current conceptions of popular dinos.
Some folks have done better work attempting to give us a sense of how feathered, bird-like dinosaurs may have appeared. For example, have a look at these intriguing paintings by Emily Willoughby. Given their size, the bad guys in the original Jurassic Park were probably utahraptors, not velocipators, and Willoughby's rendition of utahraptor looks perhaps even more menacing than the movie originals, if for no other reason than its plausibility as a real creature.
We may never know exactly how dinosaurs really looked, but it seems to me we've learned a ton about the probabilities in the past couple of decades. Do you think we'll ever know how the actual animals looked and behaved, or is it all guesswork?
Beyond that, should we adjust our popular conceptions to match what we now know, or do you prefer your Jurassic Park populated with cira-1993 renditions?
Discuss.Thermaltake's Suppressor F51 mid-tower looks a tad familiar
Cases with noise-reduction features, like Cooler Master's Silencio 652S and the Fractal Design Define R5, are becoming more common, and we're all for it. Thermaltake is offering its own spin on the idea in the form of the new Suppressor F51.
That exterior may cause a little bit of deja vu if you're familiar with the Define or the Silencio, but we won't complain about clean, subdued-looking cases.
Thermaltake outfits the Suppressor F51 with a 200-mm fan behind the front door, and radiators up to 420 mm long can be mounted here, too. It appears that there might even be two layers of dust filtration up front, which seems like overkill but could keep the internals cleaner.
Storage is handled by a pair of modular, tool-free drive cages that can be removed to make space for extra-long graphics cards or larger liquid-cooling setups. If you remove these cages, another pair of 2.5" storage mounts can be added to the right side of the case, a handy touch.
Thermaltake uses noise-dampening foam sheets extensively in the F51. The interior of the front door and side panels are both covered in the stuff, and three modular foam panels reside under the roof of the case. That's similar to the Define R5's ModuVent setup, but Thermaltake goes a step further by including a magnetic dust filter. The roof of the case can accomodate a 420-mm radiator, as well.
The Suppressor F51 features a couple other goodies, like a built-in, variable-speed fan controller with headers for four spinners. There's also a slide-out bottom fan filter. Pricing and availability aren't yet available.
|Cisco says video will drive massive growth in Internet traffic||9|
|Perception first-person explorer puts players in a blind||18|
|Leak claims Skylake Xeons have up to 28 cores, new memory architecture||86|
|Microsoft is bringing a little slice of Windows 10 to Android, iOS||17|
|The Verge parent Vox Media acquires Re/code||14|
|Charter Communications to acquire Time Warner Cable||25|
|Oculus buys 3D scene reconstruction firm Surreal Vision||14|
|Something big and expensive is coming from Antec||46|