|Asus' X99 Deluxe motherboard reviewed||21|
|Intel's Core i7-5960X processor reviewed||175|
|TR's August 2014 peripheral staff picks||53|
Eight is Enough
Read more... Anand Shimpi announces retirement from AnandTech
The shape of the PC hardware community is changing today with Anand Shimpi's announcement that he's retiring from the publishing world after more than 17 years. Anand started his site at the tender age of 14, and, well, I'll let him tell you the rest:
I’m 32 now. The only things that’ve been more of a constant in my life than AnandTech are my parents. I’ve spent over half of my life learning about, testing, analyzing and covering technology. And I have to say, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
But after 17.5 years of digging, testing, analyzing and writing about the most interesting stuff in tech, it’s time for a change. This will be the last thing I write on AnandTech as I am officially retiring from the tech publishing world.
Congrats to Anand for going out on top at a very young age.
I've known Anand since I won a little web design contest he held for AnandTech back when it was still on GeoCities. Yes, this happened. AnandTech adpoted the look I'd created and kept it for, I dunno, months until better taste and skill intervened. I've been friendly with Anand since then and have come to know him pretty well, especially in recent years. He's a fierce competitor and a gracious friend. I'll very much miss having him around. I can only wish him the best of luck in whatever comes next.
Update 8/31/14: Shimpi to Apple, confirmed.Weekend Shortbread
Read more... Friday night topic: why the fear of autonomous machines?
If you keep up with the news these days, you're probably regularly exposed to stories about "drones," killer robots, and the like. You may also have heard pointed philosophical concern expressed about what happens to everybody's jobs when the humanoid robots become widely available.
Seems like we have all agreed to devote a portion of our time to worrying about these things because, by gosh, it sure feels like we're living in the future.
Trouble is, I think it's all complete nonsense, for several reasons.
For one thing, the talk of robots' impact on the job market seems incredibly naive. This stuff already happened. Machines are everywhere now, crucial to the manufacture of almost everything and used widely in agriculture. They're just not, you know, usually shaped like people. The primary impacts of widespread automation appear to be increased living standards and the exchange of menial jobs involving physical toil for service-oriented positions.
Beyond that, robotic autonomy can't go very far with the current state of A.I., which is really quite primitive. Consider that the original goal of artificial intelligence was quite literally the creation of synthetic consciousness. Now we have to settle for useful but not-that-clever things like fuzzy logic algorithms that learn how to identify and sort objects. What progress we've made seems to be confined to limited domains, like basic robotic balance and navigation—and it's been hard-won, slow-moving progress.
The bottom line is that when a machine does something, there's a person or people behind it who are clearly responsible for its actions.
In light of these realities, I just don't see what we have to fear—other than, perhaps, scare words like "drone" replacing "RC helicopter" and causing gullible people to panic. On the substance, we seem to have concentrated an awful lot of media attention on a cluster of complete non-issues.
But perhaps I'm missing something, and we should all fear the change coming down the pike? If so, uh, why, exactly? Discuss.Corsair's new DDR4 modules are rated for 3300 MT/s
We recently tested Intel's new Haswell-E processor with DDR4 memory clocked as high as 2800MHz. Turns out even that speed is old hat—or just about to be. Corsair has announced a line of Dominator Platinum DDR4 memory kits rated for speeds as high as 3300 MT/s.
The series also includes 3200 MT/s and 3000 MT/s models, all developed in "close collaboration" with Asus. Corsair says that collaboration involved "tuning and validating the memory timings to take advantage of the optimized DRAM layout and UEFI firmware of ASUS's new X99 motherboards."
The announcement doesn't reveal much else in the way of specs, but there's already a listing for a 16GB Dominator Platinum 3200 MT/s quad-channel kit on Corsair's website. The listing mentions a 1.2V operating voltage, 15-15-15-36 timings, XMP 2.0 compatibility, and of course, lifetime warranty coverage.
Corsair says these modules should be available immediately from its "worldwide network of authorized distributors and resellers." They're not listed at Newegg yet, but then again, neither is Haswell-E right now. I guess the old 'egg still needs to update its listings.Deal of the week: A 240GB SSD for only $80
The work that went into our Haswell-E coverage has sapped my energy for today, so the weekly deals post is short and sweet. Newegg and TigerDirect have both kicked off big sales for the Labor Day weekend. Here are the items that stand out the most.
That's all for this week. As always, we encourage you to add any deals we've missed to the comments below.Friday Shortbread
Eight is Enough
Read more... Steam's in-home streaming accelerated by GeForce GPUs
Steam's in-home streaming feature has been in open beta since May. The scheme streams PC games from one machine to another on a local network, and it should now work better for folks with Nvidia graphics cards. Valve has added support for hardware encoding on GeForce GPUs.
Nvidia says games can be streamed at up to 60 frames per second at 1080p. The speed of one's network connection will likely determine the maximum usable resolution and frame rate, though. That's how it works with Nvidia's Shield devices, which have their own GeForce-accelerated streaming tech. Shield streaming requires a Kepler- or Maxwell-based card, but there's no indication of whether that restriction extends to hardware acceleration in Steam.
Shield streaming works very well on a fast 802.11n Wi-Fi network. Although I haven't tried the Steam alternative, hardware acceleration should enable it to offer comparable video quality and overall responsiveness. We may need to take a closer look at in-home streaming soon, especially given the selection of attractive potential clients out there.Apple sets date for expected iPhone 6 reveal
Well, it's official. Apple has sent out invites for its September 9 event, confirming the recent spate of rumors.
As AppleInsider reports, the invites don't say much. They read simply, "Wish we could say more." However, the rumor mill seems pretty certain that we'll see two new iPhones—a 4.7" and a 5.5" model—and the hotly anticipated iWatch at the event. Word is that the iWatch was supposed to debut in October, but Apple pulled the launch forward at the eleventh hour.
If things go as they did last year, AppleInsider reckons the new iPhones will hit Apple Stores on September 19. And iOS 8, which Apple unveiled in June, should roll out across compatible iDevices a couple of days prior. As for the iWatch, it's anyone's guess when the wearable gizmo will start sprouting up on hipsters' wrists.This 8'' Windows 8.1 tablet will cost only $149
Much like columns of Russian tanks in recent days, Windows 8.1 tablets are advancing into new territory. Archos has announced a Win8.1 tablet that will cost only $149 when it hits stores in October. That's $50 cheaper than the most affordable Win8.1 slate on the Microsoft Store right now.
Dubbed the 80 Cesium, the upcoming Archos device will have an 8" IPS display with a 1280x800 resolution, and it will be powered by an "Intel Quad Core processor." Considering the form factor we're looking at, I expect the Intel chip will be of the Bay Trail (or maybe Moorefield) variety. Either that, or Archos somehow crammed a 45W mobile Haswell under that eight-inch screen.
Archos' announcement doesn't address memory, storage, battery life, or any other specs, so you'll have to use your imagination there. Just keep in mind that Windows 8.1 supports devices with just 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage capacity. At $149, I doubt the 80 Cesium will exceed those minimum specs by much, if at all.
Tablets like these are, of course, the result of Microsoft's new policy, which allows makers of sub-9" slates to get Windows 8.1 for free. The new policy could help Microsoft make inroads against entry-level Android tablets like the Kindle Fire... provided the 80 Cesium and its ilk are actually any good, that is.Amazon sale discounts hundreds of downloadable PC games
We're a little ways off from the next big Steam sale, but worry not. Amazon has discounted a boatload of downloadable PC titles as part of its End of Summer Sale. The event runs until September 1, and customers can expect to save up to 85% on a range of full releases and DLC packages. There are also a bunch of tempting combo deals:
Getting all the Command and Conquer games for five bucks is pretty sweet. I'm more partial to the Batman bundle, though. It includes the last three games in the Arkham series along with all the associated DLC. If you don't need the complete set, each title is also discounted individually.
Speaking of individual titles, here are a few other discounts that caught my eye:
Titanfall and Thief both came out earlier this year, so it's nice to see them on sale. The rest of the titles are a little bit older and, in most cases, a little bit cheaper.
Although the Amazon sale isn't as loaded as the last Steam extravaganza, it's still brimming with great deals. I'm continually amazed at how little one can spend loading up a gaming PC with quality titles.Samsung's DDR4 modules for servers have quadruple-stacked memory dies
DDR4 memory is starting to trickle out, and Samsung's latest modules are particularly notable. The server-oriented RDIMMs are populated with 3D memory packages that stack multiple dies on top of one another. This so-called TSV memory is different from the firm's 3D V-NAND, which stacks multiple layers of memory cells within a single die. Samsung explains:
To build a 3D TSV DRAM package, the DDR4 dies are ground down as thin as a few dozen micrometers, then pierced to contain hundreds of fine holes. They are vertically connected through electrodes that are passed through the holes
Each TSV chip stacks four 4Gb dies. The dies are built on "20-nanometer class" fabrication technology, which is vague Samsung-speak for a process node between 20 and 30 nm. Samsung expects to be able to stack even more layers in the future, enabling higher-capacity modules. These latest ones weigh in at 64GB each.
Achieving higher densities isn't the only benefit to stacking DRAM dies. Samsung claims its TSV-infused DDR4 module "performs twice as fast as a 64GB module that uses wire bonding packaging, while consuming approximately half the power." Enterprise customers should appreciate both of those attributes.Wednesday Evening Shortbread
Eight is Enough
Read more... Asus shows glimpse of ZenWatch; Apple 'wearable' coming Sept 9
In a video posted today, Asus has shed more light—both literally and figuratively—on its upcoming smartwatch. The device, first teased earlier this month, will apparently be called the ZenWatch, and it will look... well, pretty much the way you'd expect a smartwatch to look. See for yourself:
Back in June, there was talk in the rumor mill of an upcoming Asus smartwatch that could be priced between $99 and $149. If the ZenWatch winds up in that price range, then it may have a leg up over current Android Wear devices, which currently start at $199. We'll find out for sure on September 3. That's when Asus plans to host its live-streamed launch event for the ZenWatch.
In related news, Re/code reports that Apple will unveil a "new wearable" together with the next-gen iPhone(s) on September 9. That wearable, which I expect is the iWatch we've been hearing about, will reportedly use the new HealthKit and HomeKit functionality introduced at WWDC back in June. Previous rumors had predicted an October debut for that device, but Re/code says Apple's plans have changed.Zotac's ''Pico'' PC runs Windows, slips into a pocket
If you thought Zotac's palm-sized Zbox Nano was small, wait til you see its pocketable sibling. The new Zbox PI320 Pico measures just 4.5" x 2.6" x 0.76", making it only slightly larger than a standard deck of playing cards. Despite those dimensions, the Pico packs a quad-core processor and Windows 8.1.
Awww, isn't it cute?
Inside the tiny chassis lies an Atom Z3735F SoC with quad Bay Trail cores clocked at 1.33GHz base and 1.83GHz burst. This low-power chip has a 2.2W thermal envelope, so it can get by with only passive cooling. Indeed, the chassis seems to be entirely devoid of external venting.
Zotac combines the Atom with 2GB of low-power DDR3 memory. A 32GB eMMC SSD provides storage, and users can add another 128GB via the Micro SD slot. This is basically an Atom-based tablet in a little box.
The Pico has more connectivity than typical mobile devices, though. The full-sized HDMI port can output video at 1080p resolution, and the trio of USB 2.0 ports is enough to power a keyboard, mouse, and external storage. There's also an analog headset jack, 10/100 Fast Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0.
One might expect a system like this to have Android pre-installed, but it actually runs Windows 8.1 with Bing. This edition is a full-fat version of the OS with Microsoft's search engine selected as the default. Users are free to switch search providers, and they can presumably ditch Windows entirely and install the OS of their choice.
Like its Zbox brethren, the Pico comes with a VESA-compatible mounting bracket. A small wall wart is also included in the box, and the whole package is set to sell for $199 when it arrives later next month.
I wouldn't normally embed the requisite promo video, but this one gets interesting at about the halfway mark, when Zotac teases the Pico's potential as a client for Steam's in-home streaming functionality.
The company tells us the Watch Dogs, Borderlands 2, and BioShock Infinite clips all come from streaming sessions. That's pretty impressive for a device that should fit easily into a pocket. We may have to get one of these little things in-house for testing.Etc.
Hey, folks. I haven't posted an Etc. in a while here. Sometimes, when things get really busy, I tend to clam up and just focus on the project(s) at hand. Right now, as you might have surmised from all of the rumors and announcements, things are very busy indeed. I had one free weekend in the last four, and that was kind of an indulgence. Looking forward, I expect to be working through the next three to four weekends, just to keep pace.
The good news for you is that we have lots of reviews and articles coming up. Should be interesting, and I'm already excited about some of the stuff we're producing behind the scenes right now.
We made a server move a few weeks back, and I said at the time that I'd write something about the new setup once I had time. The story is a pretty simple one, with a very happy result for us, so I can share it quickly.
Our old hosting arrangement involved two separate servers that we owned, both 1U rack units in a co-lo facility in Virginia. The primary server was based on dual six-core Opterons, 32GB of RAM, dual SLC SSDs in RAID 1, and dual HDDs for logging and backup storage. We made it the primary mainly due to the large amount of RAM and the fact it had dual redundant power supplies. Our secondary server was a live backup that we rarely, if ever, had to use as a stand-in for the primary during its run. That box was faster than the primary, since it was based on newer six-core Xeons with 16GB of RAM and a similar storage setup. We used it to host a VM that served as our development environment.
These systems were plenty fast for our needs, since our home-brewed content management system is pretty efficient. Trouble is, our hosting provider had some kind of issue with conditioning the power to these boxes, near as we can tell. One morning not long ago, the backup box went offline and didn't come back. At the same time, our primary server rebooted out of the blue. After that, the secondary box wouldn't POST at all, and the primary one started throwing ECC errors.
We needed to move away from that situation ASAP. In a bit of a rush, Bruno brought up the site on a VM served at Linode. We'd been looking at those guys for a while, especially after their upgrade to SSDs and Xeon E5-2680 processors earlier this year.
Long story short, we got the site running a relatively modestly sized Linode VM, moved it into production, and to my surprise, the site got to be even snappier, if anything. Bruno did a great job with the transition to the new box, so we had few issues after the move. Immediately after the transition, we posted both the Broadwell architecture reveal and the TSX erratum news, and the new server handled a healthy and sustained influx of requests without even breaking a sweat.
We now have a secondary VM that serves as our development environment, and Bruno has been playing with backup tools that let us do a bare-metal restore to a new Linode VM across the Internet. Linode itself has some slick monitoring tools, too. We can even spool up a new VM in any of Linode's several data centers around the nation, if we want geographical diversity. It's all very nice indeed.
Best of all, if the hardware breaks, we don't have to pay someone an hourly fee for remote troubleshooting. I like PC hardware, but sometimes, owning it just isn't the right move.
So that's the story of our hosting change. Yay for Moore's Law.Dropbox Pro now offers 1TB of storage for $9.99 a month
The paid version of Dropbox's cloud storage service has just gotten a huge capacity upgrade. According to the official Dropbox blog, Dropbox Pro is now available as a single 1TB plan priced at $9.99 a month.
Before today, there were three Dropbox Pro tiers: 100GB for $9.99 a month, 200GB for $19.99, and 500GB for $49.99. Then, as now, paying yearly instead of monthly unlocked a 17% discount, which knocked down the price of the lowest tier to $100 a year. That hundred bucks now gets you a terabyte of cloud storage.
Along with the capacity increase, Dropbox Pro has gotten some extra features. The blog post talks about new sharing controls that let users set passwords, expiration dates, and permissions for shared files and folders. There's also a new "remote wipe" option that can erase Dropbox files on a lost device—without deleting those files in the cloud, of course.
The 1TB plan is now priced right in line with Google 1TB Drive service, which makes it pretty competitive. Too bad the free version of Dropbox is still limited to 2GB of storage. Both Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive serve up 15GB for free.Predicting player inputs smooths streaming PC games
Everything is hosted in the cloud these days, including an increasing number of games. Heck, you can even roll your own remote gaming server and tap into it with one of Nvidia's Shield devices. The trouble is, the latency inherent to most mobile Internet connections can taint the streaming experience with certain kinds of titles. Researchers at Microsoft, the University of Michigan, and the Siberian Federal University have developed a speculative system that seems to mitigate the damage, though.
Dubbed DeLorean, the system is claimed to compensate for up to 250 milliseconds of round-trip latency. Blind-test subjects reported "only minor differences in responsiveness" between streaming Doom 3 and Fable 3 on a 250-ms connection and one with "no latency." The findings are detailed in this research paper (PDF).
DeLorean works by speculatively rendering frames based on likely player actions. These extra frames are sent to the client early, and the player's actual input determines which one is used. "Supersampling" player inputs and filtering the results reportedly improves the accuracy of the prediction engine, while "view interpolation" helps to correct the appearance of mispredicted frames. "A small amount of additional 3D metadata" packaged with each frame allows DeLorean to shift the viewport if it guesses wrong.
The system sends multiple frames to cover a range of possible outcomes, so it uses a lot more bandwidth than typical streaming solutions. Even with compression, researchers observed a 1.5-4.5X increase increase in the data rate.
Despite the bandwidth penalty, DeLorean looks promising. There's clearly room to improve streaming performance for high-latency connections. Microsoft hasn't announced plans to incorporate the research into any actual products, though. Thanks to Slashdot for the tip.Bloomberg: 12.9'' iPad coming in 2015
The 13" iPad is coming! No, we swear. It's for real this time.
A year after the Wall Street Journal predicted the jumbo iPad's arrival, Bloomberg has chimed in with word that the device really is on the way—and that production is set to begin in the first quarter of 2015.
The news comes from "people with knowledge of the matter" who "asked not to be identified because the details aren't public." Since Bloomberg is printing those details, there's probably a grain of truth to them. Too bad the sources didn't reveal much beside the tablet's production schedule and 12.9" screen size.
According to Bloomberg, a larger iPad could help Apple make inroads in the enterprise market. The site points out that Apple partnered with IBM recently with the aim of making corporate customers "a catalyst for future iPad growth." Bloomberg also quotes Jitesh Ubrani, a market researcher for IDC, who says the share of tablets being snatched up by business, education, and government customers is growing. Larger tablets are expected to "do better" with those customers, he adds.
A 13", business-focused iPad might wind up looking a lot like Microsoft's Surface Pro 3. I wonder if that means Apple will finally embrace the convertible concept and offer a detachable keyboard. CEO Tim Cook has spoken derisively about convertibles in the past, but Steve Jobs was similarly dismissive of sub-10" tablets, and look where that got us.Gigabyte, Enermax, and Samsung haiku contest winners chosen
Our haiku contest was a resounding success, with a whopping 366 entries in all. Because of the sheer volume of submissions, we took a little longer than expected to read through all of them, but we've now chosen our two winners.
Our gold medalist is StuG, whose poetic entry earned him our grand prize:
A young moon grows bright
Just one more defiant click
The sun's rays emerge
Congrats, StuG. You've won a Gigabyte Z97X-UD5H Black Edition mobo and a Gigabyte GeForce GTX 750 Ti Black Edition; a black iVector case, Revolution X't Gold 530W PSU, and Liqtech liquid cooler from Enermax; and a Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD.
Our runner-up is chuckula, who's won a Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD for this amusing haiku:
Fans once spun with strength
Now cores wither in the heat
Guys, you should both have a private message from Adam "Inkling" Eiberger, TR's business guy, in your forums inbox. Please reply to that message within 72 hours to claim your prize.
We don't have any other prizes to give, but we did like some of the other entries in the thread. In lieu of free hardware, we figured we'd at least give them five minutes of fame. Here they are in alphabetical order:
An old, small diskette
All my childhood memories...
Abort, Retry, Fail?
Building a PC,
I derive much joy from it.
Ow! I cut my hand!
How did you install
Eleven spyware programs
In just ten minutes?
01001001 01100110 00100000 01001001 00100000 01100101 01101110 01110100 01100101 01110010 01100101 01100100 00100000 01101001 01110100
01010111 01101111 01110101 01101100 01100100 00100000 01001001 00100000 01101000 01100001 01110110 01100101 00100000 01100001 00100000 01100011 01101000 01100001 01101110 01100011 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01110111 01101001 01101110
01010010 01101111 01100010 01101111 01110100 01110011 00100000 01101110 01100101 01110110 01100101 01110010 00100000 01100100 01101111
Good job, folks—and thanks to everyone else for participating. Thanks also to Gigabyte, Enermax, and Samsung for donating our prizes and making this giveaway possible!
|Corsair's Graphite Series 380T case reviewed||25|
|Labor Day Shortbread||9|
|Anand Shimpi announces retirement from AnandTech||125|
|Friday night topic: why the fear of autonomous machines?||137|
|Corsair's new DDR4 modules are rated for 3300 MT/s||33|
|Deal of the week: A 240GB SSD for only $80||13|
|Asus' X99 Deluxe motherboard reviewed||21|
|Intel's Core i7-5960X processor reviewed||175|
|Now we can lose our data 8TB at a time.||+45|