Google's ARCore framework hits version 1.0
— 4:00 PM on February 23, 2018

We reported on the death of Google's Project Tango and the repackaging of some of its tech into the ARCore framework a couple of months back. The company is taking advantage of the upcoming Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as an opportunity to launch the promised 1.0 version of the platform. The search giant already released two developer previews and says that today's 1.0 release works on 13 different smartphones occupying at least 100 million pockets. The company also talked up improvements and expanded availability of the Lens photo analysis app.

The 13 phone models with ARCore 1.0 support are: Asus' Zenfone AR, Google's Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, LG's V30 and V30+ (with Android Oreo only), OnePlus's OnePlus 5, and Samsung's Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, S8, S8+, and Note8. Google says that future versions will support models from Nokia (HMD), Huawei, Motorola, Sony Mobile, Vivo, Xiaomi, and ZTE. Developers without access to a supported phone can use the emulator bundled in the latest Android Studio beta. Google also intends to bring ARCore to China, and Ars Technica's Ron Amadeo says the company will even allow devices without Google Play to use the ARCore platform.

There are already a handful of applications using ARCore, including a portal to FC Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium created by Snapchat, Sotheby's International Realty interior visualization tool, and an app that puts Porsche's Mission E concept car in users' driveways.

As for Google's Lens app, the big news arrives from the availability front. The company says that within the next few weeks, Lens will be available to all English-language users of the latest Google Photos on Android and iOS. Google also says the realtime camera-based Lens capability in Google Assistant that's currently available on the Pixel 2 will come to more "compatible flagship devices" in the same time frame. The company says it'll be adding support for more devices later on.

Google says its engineers have been hard at work adding features to Lens, including text selection capabilities and the ability to create contacts from a photo with one tap. The next feature coming down the pipe is the ability to recognize common animals and plants, including different dog breeds and types of flowers.

ARCore version 1.0 launches on compatible flagship Android smartphones immediately. Google Lens will be expanding its footprint on Android and iOS in the coming weeks.

4 comments — Last by DancinJack at 9:20 AM on 02/24/18

Friday deals: a combo deal with a Core i7-8700K and more
— 2:30 PM on February 23, 2018

Howdy there, folks! If you're on the hunt for a tablet, phone, convertible, or laptop, you positively have to check out our latest mobile staff picks guide. That's an order, gerbils! In the meantime, check out the deals we have for you today.

  • The party today starts with a combo deal: a pack o' items comprising an Intel Core i7-8700K processor, an Asus Strix Z370-E mobo, and 16 GB of Corsair Vengance LPRAM clocked at 3000 MT/s. To our reckoning, that's as perfect a set as they come, and Newegg's selling it for only $599.99 while stocks last. That's a $140 savings compared to the price of the individual items. If you were on the fence about a Coffee Lake upgrade, now you know what to do.

  • While we're talking Asus mobos, do take a look at the Asus TUF Z370 Plus Gaming. This reliability-focused board has two M.2 slots, a pair of USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, and an Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet port. Don't forget the RGB LEDs, too! You can get this motherboard from Newegg for $119.99 if you use the promo code EMCPRRS33. The e-tailer will throw in a $15 rebate card to further sweeten the pot.

  • We're more than happy to see the occasional RAM deal in the midst of the sky-high prices. The highlight today is the G.Skill Trident Z RGB 16-GB kit with two 8-GB DIMMs clocked at 3000 MT/s. The sticks have a rather dashing look, crowned by RGB LED lights. Get this set from Newegg for only $189.99.

  • We like Fractal Design cases, you like them, everyone does. On our deals selection today, we have the Fractal Design Define Mini C TG. This microATX enclosure has mostly the same layout as its Define C brother, and it comes with a tempered-glass side panel for showing off your build. For the measly amount of $59.99, you can bring one of these home from Newegg.

  • The case above is small, but now we're going big. The LG 38UC99-W monitor has 38" of IPS panel goodness. The display's resolution is 3840x1600, and it has an aspect ratio of 21:9—all colloquially defined as "ultra-wide 4K." The panel should cover 99% of the sRGB color space, and there's FreeSync support and a "1-ms" mode on tap. Get this humongous display for $1,148 from Newegg.

  • Last but by no means least, we have thunderous sound on offer courtesy of the Onkyo TX-RZ820 receiver. This mighty unit is capable of pushing a whopping 130 W per channel (at 8 Ohm) and supports speaker configurations up to 7.1 or 5.2.2. Naturally, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio playback are supported. On the video support front, there's Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG, and Rec. 2020. There are speaker outputs for Zone 2 A/B, as well as multi-room audio capability. Around the back, the input and output selections can best be described as "all of them." This receiver is just the ticket for a fancy speaker setup or a large living room, and $699 is enough for you to take one home from Newegg.

That's all for today, folks! There's a chance you're looking for something we haven't covered. If that's the case, you can help The Tech Report by using the following referral links when you're out shopping: not only do we have a partnership with Newegg and Amazon, but we also work with Best Buy, Adorama, RakutenWalmart, and Sam's Club. For more specific needs, you can also shop with our links at Das Keyboard's shop.

16 comments — Last by Kretschmer at 7:57 PM on 02/24/18

Samsung announces aggressive 7-nm EUV foundry expansion plans
— 12:30 PM on February 23, 2018

Samsung announced today that it's going to be pouring $6 billion into a new semiconductor fabrication facility in Hwaseong, South Korea. The new facility is going to focus on extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) lithography for "single-digit nanometer" process technologies like Samsung's upcoming 7-nm LPP process.

Samsung's Hwaseong facility

The Korean company says the Hwaseong facility will be "the center of [its] semiconductor cluster," and that the new factory will "play a pivotal role" in Samsung's fabrication business in the future. Certainly, the foundry will offer a massive boost to production capacity if nothing else. That'll be handy in light of the announcement that Samsung made yesterday: Qualcomm will be having the company fabricate its next-generation Snapdragon 5G products on the aforementioned 7-nm LPP process.

That's no surprise, as Samsung's been making Qualcomm's chips for a decade now. It'll be interesting to see what Qualcomm comes up with on the new process, though. Samsung claims its 7-nm LPP process will offer a 40% increase in areal density compared to chips fabricated on its 10-nm process. Customers can further tune their designs for a 35% reduction in power consumption or a 10% performance increase at the same power level. Taken at face value, numbers like that would mean a big boost to Qualcomm's SoCs (depending on what parameters the company chooses to optimize for).

Samsung says it expects the Hwaseong facility to be completed in the latter half of 2019, and to start production in 2020. Of course, we might see 7-nm EUV chips before then—Samsung announced last September that it expects to have 7-nm products on the market in the second half of this year. Notably, GlobalFoundries beat Samsung to the punch with its own 7-nm node announcement, although GloFo's 7-nm process will begin as an extension of its 193-nm immersion lithography know-how rather than using EUV insertion from the get-go. Samsung may achieve EUV insertion first. Either way, this news heralds exciting times for the semiconductor industry.

12 comments — Last by Wirko at 2:58 PM on 02/24/18

Report: Windows 10 Fall Creators Update adoption speeds past 85%
— 11:00 AM on February 23, 2018

Microsoft's sometimes-aggressive data collection policies received criticism, but if AdDuplex's Windows 10 Fall Creators Update adoption figures are accurate, the software giant might be doing something constructive with all the ones and zeroes gleaned from customer PCs. The "cross-promotion network for Windows Phone and Windows applications" reports that 85% of all PCs running Windows 10 have upgraded to the Fall Creators Update, which started rolling out to customer machines at the end of October. For comparison's sake, the previous Creators Update had reached about 66% of Windows 10 devices at the four-month mark, accoridng to AdDuplex.

Source: AdDuplex

The April 2017 release of the Creators Update had its share of issues, most notably an incompatibility with devices based on Intel's Clover Trail Atom SoCs. All in all, Microsoft didn't make the Creators Update available to all client PCs until four months after the April 11 initial release. The initial Windows 10 release still has 0.5% market share according to the report, but we think part of that figure could be justified by OS installs from old media.

Source: AdDuplex

AdDuplex goes on to report that some countries, including Canada and Germany, have crested 90% penetration for the Fall Creators Update. A few countries are closer to the 60% mark, including historical update laggards China and India.

The optimist's view is that Microsoft is learning from experience in rolling out its semi-annual OS updates and that the rumored Spring Creators Update will be the smoothest yet. Pessimists will probably just point out the Fall Creators Update's relatively meager feature improvements and say that small changes typically proceed smoother than larger overhauls. We'll keep our eye on future Windows 10 updates.

45 comments — Last by Ari Atari at 8:27 PM on 02/24/18

Sail the Sea of Thieves with Radeon 18.2.3 drivers
— 5:00 PM on February 22, 2018

The fine folks at AMD's Radeon Technologies Group have been busy bees. The latest Radeon Software release is numbered 18.2.3 (as it's the third release this month) and has a nice pack of performance patches for Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age and Sea of Thieves. There's also the usual bunch of bugfixes, too.

Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves might not be coming out until March 19, but the game's already had several closed beta events. Radeon users looking forward to the title can additionally look forward to a 29% performance uplift on Radeon RX Vega cards, and an even larger 39% improvement on Radeon RX 580 cards, compared to the previous driver version. Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age sees smaller improvements, but 13% faster performance for RX Vega 56 cards and 20% faster performance on Radeon RX 580 cards is nothing to cry about. This release also adds support for Hidden Path's VR RTS Brass Tactics, although AMD didn't say anything further about it.

Brass Tactics

FreeSync users can rejoice, as the variable refresh-rate tech should no longer engage when watching videos in Google Chrome. FreeSync should also be a little more reliable in fullscreen games on systems with multiple displays. Neither using Radeon Enhanced Sync nor playing a game in Vulkan should cause flickering in the Radeon Overlay anymore. Corruption in the fog or lighting in Fortnite should be a thing of the past. Middle-earth: Shadow of War and For Honor should stop crashing on launch, too. Finally, Radeon Relive clips should be free of audio distortion now.

Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age

As usual, a few problems remain. That persnickety issue with "extended periods of use on system configurations using 12 GPUs for compute workloads" is still around. World of Final Fantasy may not display water texture correctly, and Destiny 2 may crash on some cards based on first-generation GCN tech (like the Radeon HD 7970). Radeon Overlay may not show in some games, and Radeon Chill's hotkey may not reset properly when you restore Radeon Settings to defaults. Finally, FFmpeg may not output H.264 video correctly.

If you're after the latest Radeon Software release, you can click here for the release notes, which also include download links.

9 comments — Last by jts888 at 12:00 PM on 02/24/18

Alphacool Eisbaer LT CLCs slide into tight spots
— 4:00 PM on February 22, 2018

Remember Alphacool, the funky Germans with a passion for CLCs? The company's at it again with the Eisbaer LT line of closed-loop liquid coolers. These new coolers boast a slim-profile pump-and-heatsink assembly and fittings compatible with both Alphacool Eisbaer Ready products and standard G1/4" gear.

The Eisbaer LT is available with slim, 25-mm-wide copper radiators measuring 120 mm, 240 mm, or 360 mm long. Alphacool says the pump-and-heatsink assembly is made entirely of copper and has an "ultra-fine cross-slot structure" that should result in improved heat exchange versus common designs. The company further says the DC-LT Ultra Ceramic Low Noise pump is rather quiet and can use an optional 7 V adapter to further reduce noise.

Owners of any modern Intel or AMD desktop CPUs (except Threadrippers) can be assured that the Eisbaer LT heatsinks will fit their chips' sockets. Likewise, the kits are compatible with Alphacool's Eisbaer Ready series of products.

Alphacool is selling the Eisbaer LT kits on its website at 79.99€ (or $82.21 without VAT) for the 120-mm unit, 89.99€ ($92.48) for the 240-mm variant, and 104.99€ ($107.89) for the 360-mm version. They're all ready to ship as we speak.

2 comments — Last by tsk at 3:57 AM on 02/23/18

EVGA's CLC 120 CL11 keeps it simple and affordable
— 2:30 PM on February 22, 2018

When the first wave of liquid AIO coolers hit the market, their ease of installation and high level of compatibility were major selling points. Over time the market expanded to include models with ever-longer radiators, fans sandwiched around the heat exchanger, and complicated mounting hardware intended to fit every CPU socket in the last fifteen years. EVGA's CLC 120 CL11 liquid AIO cooler goes back to those early days with its 120-mm radiator, simple wiring, and simplified, Intel-only mounting. The kit has an affordable price, though fancy stuff like RGB LED illumination, fill ports, and expansion options are left at the chopping block.

The CLC 120 CL11's copper waterblock-and-pump assembly fits Intel LGA 115x, 1366, 2011, 2011v3, and 2066 sockets. Unfortunately, AMD CPU owners are left in the hot, sweaty desert. We're hopeful that the somewhat streamlined compatibility list will translate into a simple mounting procedure. In any case, the wiring will be simple. The pump speed is controlled by water temperature and the fan is a constant-speed, 1800-RPM unit, so a couple of three-pin fan headers are the only connections needed. The CLC11 doesn't have any other controls or any bespoke monitoring features.

The radiator is a 120-mm aluminum unit with a plain-jane, single-speed fan attached. The radiator and fan have a combined thickness of 2.1" (5.3 cm), so the cooler should fit in most PC cases without issue. The full shroud on the fan should make it less likely to tickle cabling in a tightly packed mini-ITX build than some of EVGA's other CLCs.

EVGA's CLC 120 CL11 is on sale now in the company's store for an affordable $60. We didn't find listings at Amazon or Newegg just yet, but we're certain the cooler will show up in all the usual places soon. The manufacturer backs the back-to-basics cooler with a five-year warranty.

10 comments — Last by psuedonymous at 3:15 PM on 02/24/18

Single-Tasking Day Shortbread
— 12:30 PM on February 22, 2018

Could slow computers increase productivity by forcing you to stay on task?

PC hardware and computing

  1. BitFenix Whisper M 850W power supply review @ PC Perspective
  2. [Ryzen 5] 2400G APU memory benchmarks & single vs. dual-channel @ Gamers Nexus
  3. NZXT N7 Z370 motherboard review @ HardwareCanucks
  4. MSI B350M Mortar motherboard review @ Hexus
  5. 5-Way mechanical keyboard roundup @ HotHardware
  6. Razer Blade Pro (w/ Core i7 & GTX 1060) @ KitGuru
  7. Adata Gammix S10 512 GB review @ TechPowerUp
  8. TEKQ Rapide Thunderbolt 3 external SSD review @ AnandTech

Games and VR

  1. Doom on Switch may have changed everything with new motion controls @ Ars Technica
  2. Dungeons and Dragons TV tabletop! @ HackADay (I recently took down my over-the-coffee-table DnD projector. It was cool and all, but we just weren't using it enough to keep it there instead of displaying Netflix on a basement wall.)

Hacks, gadgets and crypto-jinks

  1. Bitcoin's transaction fee crisis is over—for now @ Ars Technica
  2. Venezuela launches oil-backed cryptocurrency @ Slashdot
  3. Laser system wirelessly charges phones from across the room @ New Atlas (but can it run popcorn?)

Science, technology, and space news

  1. Bigelow Aerospace spinoff company to oversee private space station operations @ New Atlas
  2. Excessive alcohol use strongly linked to early-onset dementia in massive study @ New Atlas
  3. Supplements are a $30 billion racket—here's what experts actually recommend @ Ars Technica
  4. Boston Dynamics is Teaching its robot bog to fight back against humans @ Slashdot (I know we just covered this little guy, but the new video is even creepier than the last)

Cheese, memes, and shiny things

  1. Cheese & Chong's to offer psychedelic mac and cheese in Akron @
  2. Corsair Dark Core RGB SE mouse and MM1000 Qi review @ Guru3D
  3. You can now buy an Easter egg made entirely out of cheese @

21 comments — Last by Srsly_Bro at 1:23 AM on 02/24/18

Corsair Obsidian 500D chassis turns out the lights
— 11:12 AM on February 22, 2018

Tweakers and tuners might form the majority of the case market, but there aren't a lot of computer cases out there designed for easy access to the internals. Corsair's seemingly decided to address this apparent deficiency with its new Obsidian 500D enclosure. The sides of the new mid-tower chassis are formed from tempered glass with a smoky finish. Rather than being suspended by thumbscrews, these panels are hinged at the back of the case so they can swing open.

The Obsidian series is Corsair's minimalist case family and despite the fancy sides, the 500D is true to that concept. Like other cases in the series, the 500D's exterior surfaces (apart from the glass panels) are made from brushed and black-anodized aluminum. The side panels slip around the sides of the front fascia to force airflow into the hidden vents there. Corsair says this design improves airflow versus other solid-face cases that suck air from the bottom.

Speaking of airflow, you can mount up to six 120-mm fans in the 500D. Three can go in the front, two can sit up top, and one goes in the usual place in the rear. Alternatively, you can put two 140-mm fans in the front and two in the top. The fans mount to removable trays that should make installation quite a bit easier than the push-pin or screw methods. There are removable dust filters on the front, roof, and floor of the case, as well. Liquid-cooling enthusiasts can opt for radiators up to 360 mm in length in the front, 280-mm long in the top, and a 120-mm in the back. Corsair includes two of its own SP120 fans with the case.

Builders using the Obsidian 500D can use motherboards up to E-ATX size. Naturally, the case has seven expansion slots, but there are also two slots oriented parallel to the motherboard so that show-offs can display their glorious graphics cards. You'll need to supply your own separate PCIe riser to do so, though. Storage accomodations in the 500D include a pair of spaces for 3.5" drives and a trio of spots for 2.5" drives—plus whatever is on your motherboard, of course.

If the Corsair Obsidian 500D is exactly the case you're looking for, you're in luck. It's already in stock at Newegg for $150.

16 comments — Last by JustAnEngineer at 4:19 AM on 02/24/18

Fractal Design makes new sides for the Meshify C
— 9:00 AM on February 22, 2018

Fractal Design's Meshify C ATX chassis looks pretty awesome with its polygon-esque front panel and tinted tempered glass side panel. The case maker is expanding the Meshify C range with new variants. Buyers now get additional choices: a version with a lighter tint on the tempered glass, or one with a second metal panel. If the original Meshify C's tempered glass panel didn't offer a good enough view of the high-end system carried within, the new lighter-tinted version should provide better opportunity to display your build. Those who want to completely obscure the rat's nest of cabling covering their hardware can pick up the version with two metal side panels.

Fractal Design Meshify C with two metal side panels

With the new additions to the lineup, the original Meshify C is rechristened as the Meshify C - Dark TG. The unadorned Meshify C moniker now applies to the version with opaque metal panels on both sides. Meshify C - TG is the fresh name for the version that offers a better look at the hardware inside the box through the clearer glass.

Fractal Design Meshify C - TG with light tempered glass side panel

In all three versions, fans can pull air in through the full-height mesh front fascia and exhaust it through the rear panel. Fractal Define C users will find the whole stup pretty familiar, as the main part of the chassis is still cribbed from that well-received model. Our previous coverage of the Meshify C offers more detailed information about fitment and dimensions, as there are no changes from the original model.

TechPowerUp says the new versions of the Meshify C are available now, though currently we only see the original version selling. The steel-sided Meshify C should step in soon at $80, $10 less than the $90 unchanged price tag of the Meshify C - Dark TG and Meshify C - TG. For the time being, tempered glass aficionados can pick up the dark tempered glass version at Newegg for an $80 sale price.

5 comments — Last by RdVi at 6:11 PM on 02/24/18

Intel partners with Dell, Lenovo, and HP to build 5G-ready PCs
— 8:00 AM on February 22, 2018

PCs with cellular connectivity inside are having a bit of a moment right now. On top of recent buzz around Qualcomm's Always Connected PCs, Intel is announcing this morning that it will collaborate with Dell, HP, and Lenovo to put its XMM 8000 family of 5G New Radio (5G NR) modems inside PCs running Windows. Intel will also work with Microsoft to further this effort. The company expects the first shipping products using this silicon to begin shipping in the second half of 2019.

Critically for Intel, those PCs will likely run Windows with its CPUs alongside its modems. Intel will preview a concept version of such a PC at Mobile World Congress next week. The company describes its preview system as a detachable 2-in-1 running an early 5G modem and an undisclosed eighth-generation Core i5 CPU. The blue team expects to demonstrate some of the potential of 5G and its progress on producing compatible modems by live-streaming video to a PC over a 5G network at the event.

5G wireless networking broadly promises higher bandwidth and much lower latency than current cellular technologies, though practical large-scale demonstrations of the next-generation wireless standard are still in the works. For its part, Intel expects that PCs are ideal to cope with the firehoses of wireless data that 5G might uncork, and it offers visions of untethered VR anywhere in the world, the ability to grab hundreds of megabytes of files in seconds from parking lots, and multiplayer gaming while in a moving vehicle as just some of the situations a 5G-ready PC might need to cope with. Considering the expected arrival date of Intel's 5G modems, however, that future remains a ways off.

12 comments — Last by Chrispy_ at 3:09 PM on 02/23/18

New Qualcomm TrueWireless earphone tech makes cutting cords easier
— 3:46 PM on February 21, 2018

Many Bluetooth headphones still have some sort of physical connection between the earphones, whether it's a wire or a host unit. A while back, Qualcomm launched a tech called TrueWireless Stereo that does away with the wires in favor of connecting left and right earphones themselves via Bluetooth. Now, the company has baked a new version of  the tech into its latest low-power Bluetooth SoCs that it says solves most of the issues of the earlier revision.

TrueWireless Stereo headphones are "truly wireless"—two separate headphones that lack physical connections. With first-gen TrueWireless hardware, one headphone is the designated the primary unit, and it gets the audio stream from the device (e.g. a smartphone). It then shares one channel with the secondary headphone. The next-generation tech allows the earbuds to automatically switch between primary and secondary modes. Qualcomm says that added intelligence will be a boon in balancing battery life between the buds.

There's also a new TrueWireless Stereo Plus mode that allows both headphones to connect to the host device directly. Qualcomm says that this should further improve the battery life of headphones using the new tech, since neither of the buds has to play the middleman. Despite the direct connection to both earphones, there's no need to pair them separately, which is convenient. Qualcomm also says that using the headphones this way will reduce audio latency.

Along with the new TrueWireless tech, there's also a new feature coming with phones that use Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 chipset called Broadcast Audio. Put simply, Broadcast Audio is a feature that allows you to use a single source to send a Bluetooth audio stream to many headphones or speakers simultaneously.

The new TrueWireless tech sounds pretty cool, but you won't be hearing it just yet. The company's only just unveiled the chips that support it, so it says it expects products bearing the new features to arrive in the second half of this year.

29 comments — Last by just brew it! at 1:39 PM on 02/23/18

Snapdragon 845 VR reference headset stretches its wings
— 2:00 PM on February 21, 2018

Most would agree that a high-end PC with a fast CPU and a discrete video card can deliver better graphics to a VR headset than a smartphone SoC, and with better frame rates and lower latency to boot. However, the issues of a fractured developer community, device drivers, sensors, and a potential tangled mess of cords could make standalone VR headsets more attractive and immersive. Qualcomm is hoping for increased adoption of standalone VR headsets with its SoCs inside, and it's unveiled its latest Snapdragon 845 mobile VR reference platform in an effort to guide the company's hardware partners on the way forward.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 mobile VR platform mockup

The Snapdragon 845 SoC has shown itself to be faster than its Snapdragon 835 forebear in most tests, particularly those that let the new chip's Adreno 630 IGP flex its muscles. Qualcomm says the new chip has 30% faster graphics performance and 30% better power efficiency than the Snapdragon 835. That should let the 845 deliver higher-fidelity visuals than its predecessor. The company says that eye-tracking features and Adreno Foveation technology can help the headset save processing power by only rendering the area where the user is looking at maximum fidelity. The faster Wi-Fi and 4G LTE capabilities in the 845 SoC could allow streaming of VR content from more powerful systems that those currently in use, too.

According to The Verge, Qualcomm's platform can update its pair of 1024x1152 screens 120 times per second. For comparison's sake, HTC's premium Vive Pro headset uses two 1440x1600 displays capable of a 90-Hz refresh rate. The outlet reports that Qualcomm's platform has two outward-facing cameras and two more snappers facing inward to monitor eye movement. Google's Amit Singh says the Snapdragon 845's integrated Hexagon DSP allows the search giant's Daydream team to "achieve significant power improvements and optimizations we aren't able to reach on other platforms."

Qualcomm developed the Snapdragon 845 VR reference platform in conjunction with Chinese electronics developer GoerTek, continuing a relationship it established with 2016's Snapdragon VR820 mobile headset and the Snapdragon 835 VR reference platform. The company says its six degrees of freedom (6DoF) and simultaneous localization and mapping technologies can work together to deliver room-scale VR experiences without any extra hardware. The previous-gen Snapdragon 835 already powers HTC's Vive Focus mobile VR headset, which started shipping to Chinese customers earlier this year.

Qualcomm didn't say anything about the price or availability of headsets using its Snapdragon 845 mobile VR platform, but it did name-drop Google Daydream, HTC, and Oculus as partners in the first wave of standalone VR devices. It seems more likely than not that we'll see Snapdragon 845 guts in retail-ready standalone headsets reasonably soon.

15 comments — Last by meerkt at 8:56 PM on 02/22/18

Always Connected PCs will appear on 14 LTE operators worldwide
— 12:30 PM on February 21, 2018

Those Windows 10 on ARM devices that we were just talking about yesterday are representative of Qualcomm and Microsoft's "Always Connected PC" initiative. The idea is to have a PC laptop with the battery life and always-on connectivity of a smartphone. It's going to take more than just Microsoft and Qualcomm to make that happen, though. Qualcomm just announced that it's partnering with nine more telecom operators in addition to the five it already had.

The original announcement included China Telecom, TIM in Italy, EE in the UK, and Sprint and Verizon in the US. Today, T-Mobile and AT&T join the party in the US, as well as Swisscom in Switzerland, Telefónica in Spain, Cubic in Ireland, Deutsche Telekom in Germany, Transatel in France, CMCC in China, and Telstra in Australia. Not all of these operators will be stocking and selling the Always Connected PCs, but all of them will offer support for the devices on their networks.

There's still no specific word from anyone on exactly when you will be able to buy one of these machines. In its announcement, Qualcomm mentions that Lenovo is joining HP and Asus in the first wave of Windows 10-on-ARM devices with the Miix 630 that we covered last month. Qualcomm says that consumers should "look for specific mobile operator announcements and offers" in the first half of 2018. Asus told Anandtech last month that it expected its NovaGo machine to launch in the second quarter of 2018, so we'd expect its competitors' devices around that same time.

18 comments — Last by frogg at 12:02 PM on 02/23/18

Wednesday deals: a WD Black 512 GB SSD for $160 and more
— 10:56 AM on February 21, 2018

Greetings, gerbils! If you've been hearing dog-cough sounds all the time, it's me. I've been fighting this stupid flu-inflicted throat infection for over a month, and now I'm on a steady diet of get-better drugs. I'd really like to stop waking up the whole building at night and, you know, sleep. At least I have sweet, juicy hardware deals to comfort me in these difficult times. Take a look at today's selection.

  • The leading deal today is the Western Digital Black 512 GB SSD. This NVMe drive is up there speed-wise with sequential read speeds up to 2500 MB/s and writes up to 800 MB/s. This SSD is big on random IOPS, too, at 170K for reads and 134K for writes. You can get one of these today for a super-sweet $159.99 from Newegg if you use the promo code EMCXPRRP3. You'll need to be a Newegg newsletter subscriber to cash that in.

  • Since we're talking storage, let's go big—really big. The HGST Deskstar NAS 8 TB hard drive may actually have room for all your selfies, and it has a 7200-RPM rotational speed and 128 MB of cache. Newegg will let you have one for only $219.99 with the promo code EMCPRRP66. That works out to a stupid-low $27.50 per terabyte.

  • We bet you're looking for bigger, better display. After all, everyone always is. Check out the LG 27UD58P-B monitor, then. This display has an IPS panel with a resolution of 3840x2160. The contrast ratio sits at a nice 1000:1, while the response time is 5 ms. That's all sweet enough, but there's also FreeSync adaptive-refresh-rate tech on tap. The included stand is tilt-, pivot-, and height-adjustable for good measure. Get one of these from Newegg for $329.99.

  • Monitors tend to sit on desks, but why not go one step further and get one that's big enough to put on a wall? One such example is the LG 43UD79-B. This massive 43" monitor's IPS panel has a resolution of 3840x2160. The maximum brightness should hit 350 cd/m², and there are connections aplenty—a USB Type-C port with charging support, four HDMI inputs, and a DisplayPort. The built-in speakers can push 10 W each, too. This monitor's price isn't even nearly as big as its dimensions, though—Newegg's currently selling it for a mere $599.99. What are you waiting for?

  • Onto the mobile computing area. Today we have two offerings on this front, and the first is the Asus VivoBook S510 (S510UN-EH76). This 15.6" laptop has understated looks but packs an Intel Core i7-8550U processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a combo storage setup with a 256 GB SSD and a 1-TB hard drive. If all that isn't enough, there's also a GeForce MX150 graphics chip in it. It's pretty sleek, too. Get one from Newegg for only $829.99.

  • If you want a laptop that's really affordable but still packs a sizable punch, you really should take a look at the Dell Inspiron 15 (i5570-5364SLV). You get an Intel Core i5-8250U processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a 1-TB hard drive. The 15.6" display has a resolution of 1920x1080. The whole package is pretty thin, and so is the price—a super-cheap $499 from the Microsoft Store. Can't get better than that.

That's all for today, folks! There's a chance you're looking for something we haven't covered. If that's the case, you can help The Tech Report by using the following referral links when you're out shopping: not only do we have a partnership with Newegg and Amazon, but we also work with Best Buy, Adorama, RakutenWalmart, and Sam's Club. For more specific needs, you can also shop with our links at Das Keyboard's shop.

26 comments — Last by moose17145 at 1:17 PM on 02/23/18

AMD embeds Zen with Epyc 3000 CPUs and Ryzen V1000 SoCs
— 9:16 AM on February 21, 2018

AMD is bringing the power of Zen and Vega to embedded markets this morning. The Epyc Embedded 3000 processor family is targeted at network function virtualization, software-defined networking, industrial applications, and other compute- and I/O-hungry workloads, while the Ryzen Embedded V1000 series of SoCs taps the Raven Ridge silicon to offer support for up to four independent 4K displays or at least one 5K monitor for applications like medical imaging where clarity is paramount.

Epyc Embedded 3000 processors will come in core counts ranging from four to 16 cores per socket. They'll offer up to 64 PCIe Gen3 lanes, up to eight channels of 10 Gigabit Ethernet, as much as 32 MB of L3 cache, and as many as four memory channels capable of holding up to 1 TB of RAM per socket. Parts ranging from four to eight cores will rely on a single die and fit into TDPs ranging from 30 W to 50 W, while 12- and 16-core parts will have two dies on a package and fit into 60 W to 100 W TDPs. AMD touts the same range of reliability, availability, and serviceability features from these parts as it does for its Epyc 7000-series socketed CPUs.

Ryzen Embedded V1000 SoCs will offer up to four CPU cores and up to 11 Vega compute units, just like the Ryzen 3 2200G and Ryzen 5 2400G we just reviewed. In an interesting twist, however, AMD says these chips will offer up to 16 PCIe lanes, compared to the eight one gets from desktop Raven Ridge. AMD further specifies these parts for TDPs ranging from 12 W to 54 W, and they'll offer support for DDR4 memory running at speeds up to 3200 MT/s.

As for design wins, AMD says Seagate is evaluating the Epyc Embedded 3000 processors for its intelligent storage array products. It also notes that Esaote, a maker of medical diagnostic systems, is using the Ryzen Embedded V1000 to provide high-resolution graphics capabilities in smaller, more portable ultrasound systems than before. AMD further expects Ryzen V1000 to find homes in medical imaging, casino gaming, and digital signage devices. We'll be keeping an eye out for devices incorporating these chips as they come to market.

32 comments — Last by ronch at 9:42 PM on 02/23/18

Intel touts stable Spectre microcode for Skylake and newer CPUs
— 5:53 PM on February 20, 2018

Intel announced new progress on its efforts to mitigate the Spectre vulnerability today. The company says it has finished "production microcode updates" for its OEM customers and partners for products in its Skylake, Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake, and Skylake-X processors. It also has ready-to-roll updates for partner products built with the Xeon Scalable Processor family and the just-announced Skylake Xeon D line. It's now up to Intel's extensive circle of partners to incorporate those microcode updates into firmware for customers to install. 

Intel has also greatly expanded its document outlining microcode update plans for a wide swath of platforms past. According to this document, Broadwell and Haswell microcode designed to mitigate Spectre remains in beta. Although the company isn't listing every Ivy Bridge product as a candidate for a microcode update yet, it is broadly indicating that firmware for at least some of those CPUs is in pre-beta or beta testing, so it seems likely that most systems with one of those CPUs could eventually get a Spectre-banishing update.

The Sandy Bridge family of chips also appears poised to receive some kind of Spectre update in the coming months. Intel indicates that firmware updates for mobile Sandy chips, desktop parts, and Xeons are in beta right now. Older Core CPUs that broadly share the Nehalem microarchitecture, like Bloomfield, Clarksfield, Clarkdale, Gulftown, and Lynnfield, also appear to be in the pipe for updates, although those chips' microcode is in "planning" or "pre-beta" status.

Even if Intel does release microcode for these older CPUs, system builders and buyers alike may be at the mercy of OEMs for final firmware updates (though microcode distribution through Windows updates may remain an option). We'll continue to keep an eye on Intel's progress as the company qualifies further microcode updates for production.

20 comments — Last by pogsnet1 at 3:47 AM on 02/22/18

National Love Your Pet Day Shortbread
— 4:30 PM on February 20, 2018

Baxter shouldn't be allowed in this fancy chair, but what kind of monster would stop him?

PC hardware and computing

  1. AMD Ryzen 5 2400G memory speed performance analysis @ PC Perspective
  2. Creative Sound BlasterX Kratos S3 review @ Guru3D
  3. Corsair K63 wireless mechanical gaming keyboard review @ Legit Reviews
  4. Wi-Fi mesh system secrets @ SmallNetBuilder
  5. FSP CMT510 case review @ TechPowerUp
  6. Drevo Joyeuse 96-key wireless mechanical keyboard review @ ThinkComputers
  7. The Asus Prime X299-Deluxe motherboard review: onboard OLED and WiGig @ AnandTech

Games and VR

  1. Stardew Valley multiplayer progress @ Blue's News
  2. Flight sim group put malware in a jet and called it DRM @ Rock Paper Shotgun
  3. Tomb Raider joins the Barbie world @ Quarter To Three

Science, hacks, makers and gadgets

  1. High speed imaging of magnetic fields @ HackADay
  2. Graphene filter makes even Sydney Harbour water drinkable @ New Atlas
  3. Giant nerves key to cuttlefish's incredible camouflage capability @ New Atlas
  4. AI is being used to raise better pigs in China @ Slashdot (no need to worry until AI is razing pigs, I suppose)

Tech, culture, and crypto-jinks

  1. AI can be our friend, says Bill Gates @ Slashdot (see above)
  2. Project Loon team gave Puerto Rico connectivity—and assembled a helicopter @ Ars Technica
  3. Ambitious plan hatched for supertall wooden skyscraper in Tokyo @ New Atlas

Cheese, memes, and shiny things

  1. McDonald's puts Happy Meal on a diet, saying hold the cheese @
  2. There's no such thing as naturally-orange cheese @
  3. These are the 3 most expensive cheeses in the world @
  4. Corsair K68 RGB keyboard review @ KitGuru
  5. HyperX Alloy Elite RGB keyboard review @ Hexus

15 comments — Last by willmore at 2:28 PM on 02/22/18

Rumor: E-tailers leak US pricing for new Coffee Lake CPUs
— 3:30 PM on February 20, 2018

We've heard rumblings for a while that Intel's initial wave of mostly-upper-tier Coffee Lake CPUs wasn't going to be the only round of chips built using the company's 14nm++ process technology. We also have a pretty good idea of what we might expect from the second wave of Coffee Lake chips with respect to core counts, clock speeds, and graphics capabilities. A new round of rumors concern the critical detail of US pricing. Previous leaks provided a forecast of prices in Australia, but even in today's era of globalization, CPU prices inevitably vary from region to region. E-tailers Provantage, PC Connection, and CompSource have added minimal product pages with apparent pricing for a variety of new Coffee Lake processors, including entry-level Pentium Gold and Celeron models.

The new models include one Core i3 and two new Core i5s. The purported four-core, four-thread Core i3-8300 sits between the similar Core i3-8100 and the faster, unlocked Core i3-8350K. The new model will reportedly share the larger 8 MB cache size of the 8350K. The six-core, six-thread Core i5-8500 and Core i5-8600 nestle between the Core i5-8400 and the overclockable Core i5-8600K. The Core i5-8500 will purportedly have a 3.0 GHz base clock and the the Core i5-8600 will come in just a bit faster at 3.1 GHz. The Turbo Boost 2.0 clocks of both new chips remain unknown. The Core i7-8700 and Core i7-8700K soldier on as the only Coffee Lake Core i7 models.

The most price-conscious shoppers might be able to get a sip of Coffee Lake with the two-core, two-thread Celeron G4900 and Celeron G4920. Should these chips come to market, we'd advise skipping right past them for the potentially higher-clocked and Hyper-Threaded Pentium Gold G5400, G5500, or G5600, all of which clock in at speeds from 3.7 to 3.9 GHz. With these new rumors, here's what the Coffee Lake lineup might look like soon:

Model Cores/threads Base clock Turbo Boost
2.0 clock
Celeron G4900 2/2 3.1 GHz N/A $52 *
Celeron G4920 2/2 3.2 GHz N/A $62 *
Pentium Gold G5400 2/4 3.7 GHz N/A $71 *
Pentium Gold G5500 2/4 3.8 GHz N/A $83 *
Pentium Gold G5600 2/4 3.9 GHz N/A $93 *
Core i3-8100 4/4 3.6 GHz N/A $117
Core i3-8300 4/4 3.7 GHz N/A $135 *
Core i3-8350K 4/4 4.0 GHz N/A $180
Core i5-8400 6/6 2.8 GHz 4.0 GHz $190
Core i5-8500 6/6 3.0 GHz Unknown $189 *
Core i5-8600 6/6 3.1 GHz Unknown $208 *
Core i5-8600K 6/6 3.6 GHz 4.3 GHz $250
Core i7-8700 6/12 3.2 GHz 4.6 GHz $310
Core i7-8700K 6/12 3.7 GHz 4.7 GHz $370

(*) lowest tray price from e-tailers with store pages for the new CPUs

Additionally, the listings at Provantage include a Core i3-8100T (up to 3.1 GHz), Core i3-8300T (up to 3.2 GHz), Core i5-8400T (up to 3.3 GHz), Core i5-8500T (up to 3.5 GHz), Core i5-8600T (up to 3.7 GHz), and Core i7-8700T (up to 4.0 GHz) models. Traditionally, Intel desktop CPUs bearing a "T" designation are lower-clocked and have a lower TDP than their T-less equivalents. We don't know the TDPs of the Coffee Lake T-models, but going by past experience, they'll probably slot into 35-W envelopes.

On top of the fact that Intel hasn't officially confirmed any further Coffee Lake CPUs yet, the prices at the three stores vary. We've shared the lowest tray prices leaked for each chip in the chart above. The prices for existing models are taken from Newegg. None of the three retailers list the new models in stock, so we wouldn't take the prices as gospel truth just yet. Hat tip to Videocardz for bringing these e-tailer links to our attention.

24 comments — Last by Chrispy_ at 1:36 PM on 02/22/18

Asus HC102 Windows Mixed Reality headset ups the ante
— 1:30 PM on February 20, 2018

The second-generation of modern VR hardware is upon us, but perhaps not in the form you were expecting. Windows Mixed Reality headsets are compatible with most of the same content as HTC's Vive, but the newer WMR units are sporting slightly spiffed specs compared to the older set. One such headset is the just-released Asus Windows Mixed Reality Headset HC102.

The HC102 uses a single 2880x1440 display that refreshes at up to 90 Hz. Asus is mum about what type of panel tech it uses, but does say that it sits behind a fresnel-aspherical lens to provide a 105° field of view. Users will hook up the HC102 to PCs using HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0, while the two included motion controllers use Bluetooth. The HC102 doesn't include headphones, but there is a 3.5-mm jack so you can connect your own.

A pair of cameras on the outside of the headset work in concert with a gyroscope, an accelerometer, a magnetometer, and a proximity sensor to provide full 3D motion tracking. Thanks to all those sensors, the HC102 doesn't need external motion sensors like those required by the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. We're curious to see if the quality of the motion tracking is up to par with the precision of those devices, though.

Besides looking pretty cool, the exterior design of the HC102 is functional as well. The display itself is connected to the supporting headband by a hinge so that you can flip it up to immediately see the real world. That'll come in handy for when you're interrupted or just want to see if you're not about to kick the cat—all without removing your carefully-adjusted and positioned headband. The HC102 weighs just under a pound (under 400g) and Asus says its headband puts the weight on your forehead and crown so that you don't get "VR nose."

Like with other Windows Mixed Reality devices, you can play your SteamVR games on the Asus HC102. You also can apparently enjoy "over 20,000 Windows apps" on it. Asus says the HC102 is available right now from its own store for $429, which makes it the most expensive of the Windows Mixed Reality headsets. It's also more expensive than the Oculus Rift full kit with its controllers and two sensors. Hopefully the bump in display specifications justifies the extra $30.

8 comments — Last by tay at 9:23 AM on 02/21/18