[H]ard News

Tuesday January 17, 2017

Facebook's Virtual-Reality Tech Was Not Stolen, Zuckerberg Testifies

The Facebook CEO is probably having a bad day. Getting sued for billions is one thing, but imagine having to get dressed properly before leaving the house. Having testified earlier in a Dallas courtroom, it turns out that the company actually paid $3 billion for Oculus.

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Under questioning from ZeniMax lawyer Tony Sammi, the 32-year-old billionaire addressed how Facebook's investment in virtual reality came together. Zuckerberg said the purchase of Oculus included not only the $2 billion price but also $700 million to retain employees and $300 million in payouts for reaching milestones. …Zuckerberg denied that Carmack has used computer code from his previous position to unfairly help Oculus. "There is no shared code in what we do," he said. Zuckerberg said he has been interested in virtual reality since he was a student, but thought it was decades away from happening before he encountered Oculus.


Nintendo Switch's Bundled Joy-Con Grip Doesn't Charge Controllers

…does anyone have any good news to share about Nintendo’s latest effort? Now we find out that if the Switch isn’t docked, the only way to charge your controllers is to buy yet another accessory. While $35 is negligible for some, you can’t deny the nickel and diming.

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The Joy-Con grip bundled with Nintendo Switch does not charge your Joy-Con controllers. …The basic Joy-Con grip included with the console is simply a plastic shell. It exists just to hold your Joy-Con but not charge them. The premium Joy-Con charging grip, available separately, includes a USB connection so you can plug in and power the device while playing, and in turn charge attached Joy-Con. Without the chargeable grip, you can charge Joy-Con while they are attached to the Nintendo Switch itself. But this option isn't available if you are using the Joy-Con and your Switch is docked to the TV.


Apple To Offer 32GB Of Desktop RAM In Top-End 2017 MacBook Pro

Rumors are swirling that Apple may actually cater to the needs of professionals and give their upcoming MacBook Pro units a much-requested memory upgrade. Now they just need to get rid of the OLED touch bar and bring back the function keys (which probably won't happen, as that would be clearly admitting mistake).

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In order to achieve high memory allotments and keep unplugged battery life performance on par with existing MacBook Pro models, Apple will need to move to an emerging memory technology like LPDDR4 or DDR4L. Such hardware is on track for release later this year. Beyond the high-end 15-inch model, Kuo expects Apple to start production of new 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros in the third quarter of 2017. As for the 12-inch MacBook, Kuo believes next-generation versions of the thin-and-light will enter mass production in the second quarter with the same basic design aesthetic introduced in 2015. New for 2017 is a 16GB memory option that will make an appearance thanks to Intel's new processor class.


GIGABYTE Server Shows Two-Phase Immersion Liquid Cooling

While I know exactly squat about designing an immersed system, I can probably suggest that this looks cool and serves as a novel approach to the cooling game. It is hard to say if this setup has any real future in data centers, however—as the article points out, there is that little issue of replacing hardware.

GIGABYTE and 3M had submerged a full 8-GPU, dual CPU system with 24 memory modules and nothing more than large copper heatsinks on the CPU/GPU, and had even removed the power delivery heatsinks. To cool the vapor as it rises through the system, a cold radiator is placed inside the sealed system. Well, I say sealed, but during the demo it was being opened and the demonstrator was clearly putting his hand inside. There seemed to also be a system in place to add/remove hydrocarbon material through a pump as well. So the point in all this is more efficient cooling – no need for massive air conditioning units in a data center, no need to pump chilled water into water blocks.


When Home Internet Service Costs $5,000...Or Even $15,000

Would you believe that someone had to pay Comcast $15,000 in order to get fast internet? Not having a broadband connection is a disappointment in itself—but what could be far worse is if your house isn’t wired up for it.

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Corman, a university lecturer and journalist, needed fast Internet service, and the local cable companies, RCN and Comcast, were offering it to nearly all of their neighbors. But for reasons that weren’t totally clear, her family’s house had never been hooked up, and the cable companies wouldn’t wire up the house unless the couple paid for all of the necessary construction and permitting. "We and our next-door neighbors are the only two residences in all of North Brookline without cable," Corman told Ars. RCN has a manhole in front of the house, and "Comcast has a node in a manhole around the corner. What will it cost to bring cable to our homes? A bit more than $10,000. That’s before we even begin to pay for monthly service."


The Ultimate Geek Keychain

We have made more than our fair share of CPU die "keychains" over the years. This is the coolest one I have seen in a long time though and comes to us via 3D Center. The video shows you how to reflow (de-flow) a CPU or GPU package and then sand it down to reveal all the goodness inside by hand. Certainly a good lapping tool could cut your time down below 4 hours! And of course, what a better use of an old Xbox CPU/GPU is there?


Folding Surface Phone Teased In New Microsoft Patent

Microsoft appears to be taking the plunge into foldable devices, and many are hoping these patent diagrams allude to what a future Surface device will look like and what it’ll be capable of. There are a number of potential designs shown, some of which hint at phones with screens that slide out, effectively transforming them into tablets.

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Microsoft has patented a folding, flexible smartphone which could open out into a far more practical tablet, potentially teasing a possible Surface Phone form-factor. The patent, granted earlier this month, describes a "Mobile Computing Device having a flexible hinge structure" or, in other words, a portable gadget the size of a smartphone when collapsed, but which can be opened up for a far larger interface. Indeed, Microsoft actually has multiple designs on the same core theme. One potential form factor, for instance, comprises of two or three hinged panels. Joined along the longer edges of each rectangular section, they would unfold to make a device with double or even triple the screen space of a similarly-sized smartphone. By using a flexible display, the screen would be able to stretch around those hinges and, when opened, offer an uninterrupted panel.


Flame Retardant In Lithium-Ion Batteries Could Quench Fires

With exploding phones being such a hot, recurring topic these days, it would be great if this concept could finally take off. Adding flame retardant to a battery isn’t a new idea, but previous methods would reduce performance. Researchers have now placed the retardant in a battery’s separator, although it remains to be seen how well it can stand up to abuse.

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…researchers have designed a lithium-ion battery in which the separator, the component that keeps the battery's positive and negative electrodes apart, contains a cheap, powerful, and commonly used flame retardant known as triphenyl phosphate. During normal battery operation, the flame retardant stays encapsulated within plastic fibers. If the separator gets hotter than 150 degrees C, the plastic melts, releasing the flame retardant. In experiments, the chemical completely quenched flaming electrolyte in 0.4 seconds. The scientists detailed their findings online in the 13 January edition of the journal Science Advances.


China Plans To Develop Powerful Exascale Computer

Not content with having already developed the world’s fastest supercomputer, the Sunway TaihuLight, China is now working on a machine capable of a quintillion calculations per second. This follows the news of IBM releasing a 200-petaflop computer next year, and Japan’s intention of building a 130-petaflop one.

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China plans to develop a prototype exascale computer by the end of the year, state media said Tuesday, as it seeks to win a global race to be the first to build a machine capable of a billion, billion calculations per second. If successful, the achievement would cement its place as a leading power in the world of supercomputing. The Asian giant built the world's fastest supercomputer, the Sunway TaihuLight machine, in June last year, which was twice as fast as the previous number one. It used only locally made microchips, making it the first time a country has taken the top spot without using US technology. Exascale computers are even more powerful, and can execute at least one quintillion (a billion billion) calculations per second.


Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 Launches With 10x Performance Boost Over Original

The latest version of the Raspberry Pi is now available in the compute module format, which is great for those who are working with pre-existing systems and want an embeddable solution. There are two versions, one of which allows users to wire things up to an eMMC or SD card of their choice.

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The idea of the Compute Module was to provide an easy and cost-effective route to producing customized products based on the Pi hardware and software platform. The thought was to provide the ‘team in a garage’ with easy access to the same technology as the big guys. The Module takes care of the complexity of routing out the processor pins, the high-speed RAM interface, and core power supply, and allows a simple carrier board to provide just what is needed in terms of external interfaces and form factor. The module uses a standard DDR2 SODIMM form factor, sockets for which are made by several manufacturers, are easily available, and are inexpensive.


Microsoft Waves "Early Goodbye" To Windows 7, Pushes Windows 10 Upgrades

Support for Windows 7 won’t cease until 2020, but Microsoft is already warning users to update to Windows 10 as soon as they can. They argue that moving on from Windows 7 is a "logical decision," as it features outdated security, leading to higher costs due to things like malware attacks. Furthermore, they stress that only Windows 10 has support for the latest chips.

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…Microsoft is desperate for those users to switch to Windows 10 and warns that Windows 7 support is coming to an end, and that the OS has outdated security and can’t keep up with today’s security needs. In a post headed 'An early goodbye to Windows 7! Support ends in three years' Microsoft's German press site tells users that in three years Windows 7 extended support will run out permanently, and that from January 14, 2020 there will be "no security updates, updates and no technical support from Microsoft". It describes the move as a "logical decision" as "Windows 7 can no longer keep up with the increased security requirements" and sticking with the older OS actually leads to "higher operating costs" due to "increased malware attacks and even increased support requests".


Gabe Newell Is Doing An AMA Today

Got something to ask the Valve boss? You can head to r/The_Gaben at 3:00 PM PST / 6:00 PM EST today and try your luck. I can’t even begin to imagine what most people will be asking about.

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On January 17th, Gabe Newell will be doing a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA). So, if you've any burning questions for one of the founders of Valve then you'll want to head over to r/The_Gaben where the AMA will be hosted tomorrow. Most the questions will be: When is Half-Life 3 coming out? Are you working on Half-Life 3? Have you forgotten about Half-Life 3? Is your beard Half-Life 3? Is Half-Life 3 behind your beard? If I buy that will you tell me about Half-Life 3?


Monday January 16, 2017

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1060 G1 GAMING 6G Review @ [H]

We’ve got the brand new GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1060 G1 GAMING 6G video card to put through the paces and find out how well it performs in games and overclocks. We will compare its highest overclock with one of the best overclocks we’ve achieved on AMD Radeon RX 480 to put it to the test. How will it stand up? Let’s find out.

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[H]ardware Round-Up II

Corsair Force MP500 – 3 Gb/s of NVMe Fun with Phison PS5007-E7 Controller @ Legit Reviews

Crucial Ballistix Elite 3200 MHz DDR4 16 GB @ TechPowerUp

XFX Hard Swap LED Fans @ LanOC Reviews

Corsair Scimitar Pro RGB Mouse Review @ OCaHolic

Smartphone Parts Supply Looking Bleak for 2017

We have looked to Digitimes for solid reporting from Taipei, Taiwan for a couple of decades now. This morning it reported that changes in the Smartphone market are going to greatly impact the volumes of those devices being made.

The risk for the global handset industry to brace for a shortage in supplies of some key components, including displays, memory products and optical sensing devices, in 2017 is rising due to strong demand from China-based smartphone vendors, according to sources from Taiwan's handset supply chains.

Inspired by market rumors indicating that Apple will adopt OLED panels for its next generation iPhone devices in 2017, China-based smartphone vendors, and others alike, have rushed to secure production capacity for small- and mid-size OLED panels, a move which will definitely cause a shortage in OLED panel supplies in 2017, commented the sources.

So get'um while they're hot? Oh wait, Note 7 is not on the market any more.


Retail 7700K Not Up to 5GHz - 3600MHz

This is our first retail purchased Intel Core i7-7700K processor that we sourced through Amazon. This one makes four that we have had hands-on and three that we still have here in our possession. To my chagrin, it does not look like 5GHz/3600MHz is in the cards for this one when it comes to running stability tests. I have run the vCore up to an actual 1.38v, and I think I might call it there. That makes our 5GHz rate 25% so far.

The black marks on the IHS are in preparation for delidding.

EDIT: Turn off HyperThreading and it runs easily at 5GHz/3600MHz under full load using ASUS RealBench v2.44. Of course, at that setting you are better off buying a 7600K for $100 less if you are all about the magic 5GHz. Still we need to do more testing with more retail processors.

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John Carmack Uses Mac Only Under Duress

The team at UpLoadVR has some coverage on the ZeniMax vs. Oculus case working its way through the process here in north Texas. While there is little to actually report on, this tidbit posted is at least worth a laugh, maybe.

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A MacBook was brought up during questioning as well, with the lawyer asking why it was never wiped, with Carmack responding: "I am not a Mac user unless under duress."

I am sure that many of us here understand Carmack's feelings, however I would not have made that call considering all his past Apple love.


IVSoftware are now War Criminals

The blokes over at IVSoftware have joined a hallowed list of the most hated people in the world...because of their game, Prison Architect. The game devs have actually been notified by the British Red Cross that it has broken the Geneva Convention.

This is not the first time this has come up. TechDirt reported on this back in 2013. Full of lulz.


450mm Wafers will not be Seen in Fabs

I was reading this article over at EETimes describing that the evolution of wafer size has come to a standstill if not for the time being, but possibly for a number of years.

Between that and the semiconductor industry's modest growth rate over the past few years, there is no need for a massive expansion of capacity as there has been in the past, Hutcheson added. Without sufficient demand for the larger wafer size, building a 450mm fab would require chip makers to take 300mm fabs offline.

"450 died because it's one generation too far," Hutcheson said.

While reading this, my mind when back to visiting GlobalFoundries before its fabs came online in New York. This video showcases GloFLo's Integrated Testing and Development Center. What this is, is a mock-up of just how its simply moves it wafers around the fab and keeps up with all of those. So if you think changing over wafer size would be minimal undertaking, imagine having to retrofit, or change the "simple" materials handling portion of the equation.


South Korea Prosecutor Seeks Arrest of Samsung Chief for Bribery

You would have figured that these guys at Samsung made enough money after selling all the SSDs, TVs, Phones (minus the ones that explode), and a gaggle of other things, to not have to worry about bribery and corruption. Maybe not.

South Korea's special prosecutor on Monday sought a warrant to arrest the head of Samsung Group [SAGR.UL], the country's largest conglomerate, accusing him of paying multi-million dollar bribes to a friend of President Park Geun-hye.

Investigators had grilled Samsung Group chief Jay Y. Lee for 22 straight hours last week as a suspect in a corruption scandal, which last month led to parliament impeaching Park.


Google Servers all Contain Custom Security Silicon

I came across a very interesting article over The Register that attempts to digest and summarize this document recently released by Google.

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Revealed last Friday, the document outlines six layers of security and reveals some interesting factoids about the Alphabet subsidiary's operations, none more so than the disclosure that: "We also design custom chips, including a hardware security chip that is currently being deployed on both servers and peripherals. These chips allow us to securely identify and authenticate legitimate Google devices at the hardware level."


Building a Budget PC with the Radeon RX 460: Part 1

PCPer Buids a Budget PC with the RX 460 as its focus. Our RX 460 review can be found here.


[H]ardware Round-Up II

Sennheiser GSX 1000 Desktop Gaming Audio Amplifier Review @ Vortez - No matter what you think of the product, it certainly has a lot of tech-sex-appeal, not that there is anything wrong with that.

All Kaby Lake processors in simple chart form - Desktop, Mobile, Server @ OCaHolic

Toshiba OCZ TL100 240GB Review @ aphNetworks

ROCCAT Cross Multi-Platform Over-Ear Stereo Gaming Headset @ bccHardware

Cooler Master MasterNotepal Maker Cooling Pad Review @ MadShrimps

2600K vs 7700K

In case you missed it on Friday, we published our 2600K vs 7700K CPU IPC Review. If you are one of the guys hanging onto Sandy Bridge with a, "You can take it from my cold dead hands" approach, you may be smarter than us all. I am planning to follow-up with a bit of real world VR gaming for comparisons later this week, and after that, the system will be shipped off to Brent so he can put it through real world desktop gaming.

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AMD Earnings Preview @ Seeking Alpha

Seeking Alpha editor gives a bit of preview for AMD's earning call to be given on January 31st.

AMD's expected loss in the quarter may take some steam out from the stock's strong performance in the last year. Of all the stocks I covered, AMD accounted for the five-fold return. For this year, a successful release of Ryzen will not only mean AMD holding 2016's gains on the markets, but new yearly highs for its share price.

Even with 18 analysts putting a negative spin on average earnings expectations, it is hard to look at AMD stock in a negative light since its share price is up around 500% since last May.


[H]ardware Round-Up

And a fine Monday morning to all the [H]'ers out there. Lets' start by getting some of the hardware reviews we have missed this weekend out of the way.

Gigabyte AORUS Z270X-Gaming 7 Mainboard Review @ Technic3D / HardOCP

XFX RX 460 4GB Slim Video Card Review @ LanOCReviews

CRYORIG A80 AIO Review @ TechPowerUP

Antec GX1200 Chassis Review @ FunkyKit

Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum Gaming Mouse Review @ TechARP

Corsair Scimitar Pro RGB @ Technic3D

ROCCAT Suora FX Review Keyboard Review @ aphNetworks

Sunday January 15, 2017

Titanfall 2’s Next Big Update Is Pilot-Only "Live Fire"

Once again, this will be a free update, so you can’t really complain even if you prefer playing as a Titan. There is no exact release date, but expect it "soon." I think a lot of us are still wondering what EA was thinking when they put this up against Battlefield and Call of Duty.

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Live Fire will be a six-on-six multiplayer game without any Titans. According to this update, it's a best-of-five rounds mode without any respawns. Teams win by eliminating the other side or by possessing a flag when the counter runs out. The new maps are called Stacks and Meadow. "These two maps are tight, enclosed death boxes designed specifically for the fast-paced, intense nature of the mode," Respawn said. The title update will also bring a new Coliseum map called Columns, a new Pilot execution animation, and "multiple new Commander intros for each faction." This update and all of its content will be free.


"Turok: Dinosaur Hunter" Source Code Discovered

Remember Iguana Entertainment? This guy managed to get a hold of their old SGI Indy workstations, where he found the code for the original Turok game. Maybe I will finally fire up the PC port on Steam tonight.

Aaron, who collects and tinkers with old computers as a hobby, said he first spotted this SGI Indy at a warehouse where he was picking up a 24-bit video board for an SGI Indy from another seller. While there, he saw a whole stack of SGI Indys there along with boxes of obsolete 3D animation software. He made note of it, and last summer went back to buy the stack of SGI Indys and software. As he started going through the files, it became clear that the SGI Indys came from a liquidation auction for Turok publisher Acclaim, which went out of business in 2004. Acclaim should have wiped those drives before the sale exactly for this reason, but for whatever reason, didn't.


Levels Of E-Waste Soar In Asia As Gadgets Become Affordable

Asia needs to step up their e-waste management, as more of its population gets richer and buys more gadgets, which inevitably go into the trash. This reminds me that I still have to figure out how to get rid of my UPS battery; apparently it is too big for Best Buy to accept for recycling.

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Levels of electronic waste are rising sharply across Asia, as higher incomes mean hundreds of millions of people can afford smartphones and other gadgets, according to a UN study. The amount of e-waste in Asia has risen by 63% in five years, a report by United Nations University said, warning of the need to improve recycling and disposal methods across the region to prevent serious environmental and health consequences. Ruediger Kuehr, the report’s co-author and head of UNU’s sustainable cycles programme, said: "For many countries that already lack infrastructure for environmentally sound e-waste management, the increasing volumes are a cause for concern."


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