MojoKid writes: Intel's latest generation of processors built on the Skylake architecture are efficient as well as seriously fast. The flagship, Core i7-6700K, is an interesting chip as it's clocked at a base 4GHz, and can peak at 4.2GHz with Turbo Boost. Of course, as fast as the 6700K is, overclocking can always help take things to the next level, or at least temporarily explore future potential. In Chi-Kui Lam's case, he did just that, and managed to break a world record for Intel processors along the way. Equipped with an ASRock motherboard, G.SKILL memory, and a beefy 1.3KW Antec power supply — not to mention liquid nitrogen — Lam managed to break through the 7GHz barrier to settle in at 7025.66MHz. A CPU-Z screenshot shows us that all cores but one were disabled — something traditionally done to improve the chances of reaching such high clock speeds.
MojoKid writes: Not long after Apple unveiled its Siri personal assistant to the world, it took very little time before people began asking her outrageous questions, sometimes inappropriate or just humorous, if for no other reason than they just could. When creating Cortana, Microsoft was well-aware of what its digital assistant was going to have to deal with, so, believe it or not, it was designed in such a way to handle abuse in a specific manner. According to Microsoft's Deborah Harrison, who is one of eight writers for Cortana, a chunk of the earliest queries were about Cortana's sex life. A specific goal was to make sure Cortana wasn't treated as a subservient. If she's insulted, she doesn't apologize or back down. She handles it with tact, so as to reduce the chance of further abuse.
MojoKid writes: Bethesda and id Software are in the process rebooting the Doom franchise and it seems like it's been in development for ages. When we last visited the upcoming Doom remake, Bethesda had posted a giblet-filled trailer which showed some pretty impressive gameplay visuals, killer hand-to-hand combat and plenty of head stomping. However, Bethesda just clued gamers in on something that Doom fans have been anticipating for years, an actual release date. Mark your calendars for May 13th, because that's when Doom will be available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and of course, the PC platform. Bethesda also dropped a new campaign trailer for you to ogle.
MojoKid writes: SwiftKey has been one of the more popular predictive keyboard offerings in the mobile space since it was first released in beta form on the Android market back in 2010. What made SwiftKey so appealing was its intelligent predictive texting technology. SwiftKey isn't a simple keyboard replacement. Rather, the software uses a combination of artificial intelligence technologies that give it the ability to learn usage patterns and predict the next word the user most likely intends to type. SwiftKey refines its predictions, learning over time by analyzing data from SMS, Facebook, and Twitter messages, then offering predictions based on the text being entered at the time. It is estimated that SwiftKey is installed on upwards of 500 million mobile devices. According to reports, Microsoft is apparently buying the UK-based company for a cool $250 Million. What Microsoft intends to do with SwiftKey is not clear just yet, but the company has been purchasing mobile apps at a good clip as of late.
MojoKid writes: AMD apparently wasn't done making announcements back at CES 2016. Today the company has shared news of new APUs, processors, fansink coolers, and motherboard updates. The company has been working with motherboard makers to enable a new wave of socket AM3+ and FM2+ motherboards with support for technologies like USB 3.1 (some with type-C and M.2 solid state drives (SSDs). Many of the updated motherboards are already available. AMD also has a trio of new APUs / processors coming down the pipe --the A10-7860K, the A6-7470K, and the Athlon X4 845. The Athlon X4 845 is a quad-core part, featuring four Excavator-class cores clocked at up to 3.8GHz. The processor has 2MB of L2 cache, 8 PCIe 3.0 lanes, and a TDP of 65W, but no built-in graphics. The A6-7470K is a dual Steamroller-core APU (clocked at up to 4GHz), with 8 GPU cores (at up to 800MHz), 1MB of L2 cache, 16 PCIe lanes, and a 65W TDP. The A10-7860K is a little beefier with four Steamroller cores (clocked up to 4GHz), with 8 GPU cores (clocked up to 757MHz), 1MB of L2 cache, 16 PCIe lanes, and a 65W TDP. Both the 7860K and 7470K are unlocked for more flexible overclocking. Finally, the FX-8370 bundled with AMD's new Wraith cooler will be arriving today at the same price point as the previous edition. According to AMD, the Wraith cooler offers 24% more surface area than the previous PIB cooler and the fan pushes 34% more air.
MojoKid writes: In advance of what's sure to be a barrage of VR-related product hitting the market over the next couple of months, a VR-focused conference took place last week in Los Angeles, called VRLA. It also included presentations from notable people in the industry, including AMD VP of Alliances Roy Taylor. Back in December, we learned that AMD is holding off on the release of its dual-GPU Radeon R9 Fury X2 to make a bigger impact on VR. At VRLA, Taylor let it slip that the card will boast performance of 12 TFLOPs, single precision. Whether this is impressive or not depends on how you slice up the performance projections from there. The Fury X, AMD's current top-end card, is spec'd at 8.6 TFLOPs, which means that the Fury X2 will be roughly 40% faster (at least on paper). Potential pricing aside, 12 TFLOPs is a lot of horsepower. NVIDIA's GeForce TITAN X, for example, is just half that, at 6.1 TFLOPs. It's safe to say that the Fury X2, whenever it does get here, is going to be powerful and likely rather pricey.
MojoKid writes: ASUS recently revamped their ZenBook UX305 family of ultralight notebooks with Intel's 6th generation Skylake Core m series, which brings with it not only improved graphics performance but also native support for PCI Express NVMe M.2 Solid State Drives. The platform is turning out to be fairly strong for this category of notebooks and the low cost ZenBook ($699 as tested) is a good example of what Skylake Core m capable of in a balanced configuration. Tested here, the machine is configured with a 256GB M.2 SSD, 8GB of RAM and a 2.2GHz Core m3-6Y30 dual-core CPU. Along with a 13.3-inch 1080p FHD display and 802.11ac wireless connectivity, the ZenBook UX305 is setup nicely and it puts up solid performance numbers in both standard compute tasks and graphics. It also offers some of the best battery life numbers in an ultralight yet, lasting over 10 hours on a charge in real world connected web testing.
MojoKid writes: Sometimes a video comes along that is so majestic that it defies explanation. Such was the case when David Hasselhoff kung fu kicked his way through the music video "True Survivor." And here we are again, this time with actor Paul Rudd gearing up to go against the great Steven Hawking in a game of Quantum Chess. You would have never before thought that those two names would be uttered in the same sentence — Hawking and degrasse Tyson, sure. But Hawking and Rudd? And for the icing on the cake, the match is marvelously narrated by none other than Keanu Reeves, aka Neo, back from the future. Rudd ends up taking a crash course on quantum mechanics to bring himself up to par with the intellectually superior Hawking. The results are as predictable as Schrodinger's cat.
MojoKid writes: Intel's leadership in chip manufacturing technology has put the company on a steady tick-tock cadence when it comes to major processor releases. The company usually releases a new fabrication process with a "tick" and follows that up with "tock" microarchitecture improvements but based on the same process. The first major hiccup in this strategy will rear its head this year with the introduction of Kaby Lake, a second "semi-tock" so to speak. Kaby Lake will soldier on on a 14nm process, making it the third major Intel processor architecture to do so (following Broadwell and Skylake). It has now started circulating that Intel will once again go with three major processor families manufactured on the same process node. In this case, however, Intel will reportedly settle in on the 10nm process node first with Cannonlake, which reportedly will launch during the second half of 2017. Cannonlake will be followed by Icelake one year later in H2 2018. The final product family built on the 10nm process node will be Tigerlake, which is claimed to be earmarked for a H2 2019 debut. Intel's new three and done strategy means that we won't see its first 7nm processors chip until the second half of 2020. Although no one knows for sure if Intel's move to three products per process node is here to stay, sources seem to indicate that Intel is adamant about getting back to it regular tick-tock cadence.
MojoKid writes: The tiny single-board computer movement is largely dominated by ARM-based processors currently, and for good reason; they're cheap, low power and capable with open source software to run on them. However, what if you prefer to work with the x86 architecture? JaguarBoard looks similar to a Raspberry Pi board, which is arguably the most popular single-board mini PC. However, unlike Raspberry Pi, JaguarBoard allows users to develop for x86 courtesy of its Intel Atom Z3735G (Bay Trail) platform. The processor is a quad-core chip clocked at 1.33GHz to 1.83GHz with 2MB of L2 cache, offering a fair amount of horsepower for IoT and embedded applications. In addition to an Atom processor, JaguarBoard also offers 1GB of DDR3L memory, 16GB of eMMC storage, three USB 2.0 ports, a 10/100M LAN port, HDMI 1.4 output, an SDIO 3.0 socket, two COM ports, four GPIO pins, and audio ports. It's an interesting device that you could use strictly as a mini PC for general purpose computing, as an embedded system, a research tool, or for whatever DIY maker projects you can conjure up.
MojoKid writes: The original Intel Compute Stick wasn't without issues. Last year's model featured dated 802.11n wireless connectivity and had only a single USB port, which meant using a hub and/or dongles, should you want to connect multiple peripherals to the device or boost its wireless capabilities. The new updated Intel Compute Stick, however, features Intel's newer Cherry Trail Atom platform, with 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi, and USB 3.0. There's still just 2GB of RAM in the device, along with 32GB of storage, but Windows 10 Home also now comes pre-installed. The result is a fully functional PC that won't burn up any benchmarks but offers utility for mainstream computing tasks and is even capable of streaming up to 4K video content. The little device can essentially turn any HDMI-equipped display into a basic PC.
MojoKid writes: Late last year marked the introduction of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) DRAM courtesy of AMD's Fury family of graphics cards, each of which sports 4GB of HBM. HBM allows these new AMD GPUs to tout an impressive 512GB/sec of memory bandwidth, but it's also just the first iteration of the new memory technology. Samsung has just announced that it has begun mass production of HBM2. Samsung's 4GB HBM2 package is built on a 20 nanometer process. Each package contains four 8-gigabit core dies built on top of a buffer die. Each 4GB HMB2 package is capable of delivering 256GB/sec of bandwidth, which is twice that of first generation HBM DRAM. In the example of NVIDIA's next gen GPU technology, code named Pascal, the new GPU will utilize HBM2 for its frame buffer memory. High-end consumer-grade Pascal boards will ship with 16GB of HBM2 memory (in four, 4GB packages), offering effective memory bandwidth of 1TB/sec (256GB/sec from each HMB2 package). Samsung is also reportedly readying 8GB HBM2 memory packages this year.
MojoKid writes: AMD is making a stink about SYSMark, a popular benchmarking program that's been around for many years, and one the chip designer says is not reliable. Rather than provide meaningful results and information, AMD claims SYSMark unfairly favors Intel products and puts too much emphasis on strict CPU performance above all else. John Hampton, director of AMD's client computing products, explained in a video why SYSMark itself is an unreliable metric of performance. He even brought up the "recent debacle" involving Volkswagon as proof that "information provided by even the most established organizations can be misleading." Salinas says SYSMark's focus on the CPU is so "excessive" that it's really only evaluating the processor, not the system as a whole. In comparison, PCMark 8 probes not only the CPU, but graphics and subsystems as well. In an attempt to drive the point home, AMD ran a set of custom scripts it developed based on Microsoft Office and timed how long it took each system to complete them. The Intel system took 61 seconds to finish the benchmark versus 64 seconds for the AMD platform, a difference of about 6-7 percent and in line with what PCMark 8 indicated, though Sysmark shows a stark delta of 50 percent in favor of Intel with comparable CPUs.
MojoKid writes: Netgear recently launched the Nighthawk X8 router, which is part of a new round of second-gen wireless AC devices dubbed "Wave 2", carrying the AC5300 moniker. Instead of using a 3x3 configuration with six antennae, this router offers a 4x4 configuration, with four internal antennae and four active external antennae, each with their own blue LEDs to signal their active state. The actual amplifiers are on the antennae themselves, rather than down on the main board, helping to boost the signal and minimize crosstalk and loss associated with modern PCB circuitry. Each 5GHz radio is able to broadcast at 2.1Gbps compared to 1.3Gbps on Gen 1 devices, and the bandwidth on the 2.4GHz channel is also increased from 600Mb/s on Gen 1 devices to 1GB/s. When you take both 5GHz channels at 2,100Gb/s and add it to the 1000Gb/s on the 2.4GHz channel, you end up with a number around 5,300Gb/s, hence the branding. Performance-wise, the Nighthawk X8 is one of the fastest Wi-Fi routers on the market currently. However, its hefty price point might be hard to justify for most mainstream users. Enthusiasts and small office/home office users looking for ultimate range on a 5GHz channel with lots of clients connected will appreciate this routers throughput and power, however.
MojoKid writes: AMD is adding a new family of Opterons to its enterprise processor line-up today called the Opteron A1100 series. Unlike AMD's previous enterprise offerings, however, these new additions are packing ARM-based processor cores, not the X86 cores AMD has been producing for years. The Opteron A1100 series is designed for a variety of use cases and applications, including networking, storage, dense and power-efficient web serving, and 64-bit ARM software development. The new family was formerly codenamed "Seattle" and it represents the first 64-bit ARM Cortex-A57-based platform from AMD. AMD Opteron A1100 Series chips will pack up to eight 64-bit ARM Cortex-A57 cores with up to 4MB of shared Level 2 and 8MB of shared Level 3 cache. They offer two 64-bit DDR3/DDR4 memory channels supporting speeds up to 1866 MHz with ECC and capacities up to 128GB, dual integrated 10Gb Ethernet network connections, 8-lanes of PCI-Express Gen 3 connectivity, and 14 SATA III ports. AMD is shipping to a number of software and hardware partners now with development systems already available.