MojoKid writes: Dell's XPS series of laptops have been garnering high praise of late, for their carbon fiber and machined aluminum design, along with Dell's near bezelless Infinity Edge display. Although the XPS 15, Dell's 15-inch variant, offered competitive performance compared to other ultrabooks in its class, historically it didn't have quite enough horsepower for much beyond occasional, casual gaming. Just recently, however, Dell revamped the machine with not only a quad-core Intel Kaby Lake processor option, but also NVIDIA's latest GeFore GTX 1050 mobile GPU. The result is that the Dell XPS 15 (9560) is one of the few 4-pound class ultrabooks on the market currently that is not only designed with a premium, thin and light build quality but it can also competently game in virtually any current generation title at 1080p with High image quality settings. It can even hit playable frame rates in a few games at 1440p. Finally, with a 97 Whr battery option available, battery life under standard non-gaming workloads has improved significantly as well.
MojoKid writes: Lately, Dell's XPS series of premium laptops has been meeting high praise for its carbon fiber and machined aluminum design, along with its near bezelless Infinity Edge display. Although the XPS 15, Dells 15-inch variant, offered competitive performance compared to other ultrabooks in its class, historically it just didn't have quite enough horsepower for much other than occasional casual gaming. Just recently, however, Dell revamped the machine with not only a quad-core Intel Kaby Lake processor option, but also NVIDIA's latest GeFore GTX 1050 mobile GPU. The result is that the Dell XPS 15 (9560) is one of the few 4-pound class ultrabooks on the market currently that is not only designed with a very premium build quality but it can also competently game in virtually any current generation title at 1080p with High image quality settings, even hitting playable frame rates in a few games at 1440p. Finally, with a 97 Whr battery option available (bringing the machine to 4.5 pounds), battery life under standard non-gaming workloads has improved significantly as well, even with its 4K panel option.
MojoKid writes: Qualcomm is lifting the veil on performance benchmark numbers for its new Snapdragon 835 processor today (or Mobile Platform, as Qualcomm is referring to it now) and it's looking like a notable improvement over the Snapdragon 820 and 821. The Snapdragon 835 is expected to provide up to 11 hours of 4K video playback and also serve up hours of VR gaming on a single charge, along with performance increases of up to 25 percent in both CPU and graphics/gaming related workloads. The Snapdragon 835 SoC is built on 10nm FinFET technology, which results in significantly lower power consumption, though Qualcomm notes most of the power consumption gains were realized in the 8-core CPU block — an ARM big.Little design — for efficiency. Four larger, semi-custom Kyro 280 cores are clocked at 2.45GHz and the smaller, lower-power four cores are clocked up to 1.9GHz. Though proving battery life claims will have to wait for retail shipping smartphones that employ the new Snapdragon SoC to ship in market, benchmark numbers taken from Qualcomm prototype devices show impressive results. Actual gains north of 20 percent in gaming and graphics tests were observed, but more modest gains of 10 — 15 percent were realized in CPU-centric tests.
MojoKid writes: Intel unveiled its first SSD product that will leverage 3D Xpoint memory technology, the new Optane SSD DC P4800X. The Intel SSD DC P4800X resembles some of Intel's previous enterprise storage products, but this product is all new, from its controller to its 3D Xpoint storage media that was co-developed with Micron. The drive's sequential throughput isn't impressive versus other high-end, enterprise NVMe storage products, but the Intel Optane SSD DX P4800X shines at very low queue depths with high random 4kB IO throughput, where NAND flash-based storage products tend to falter. The drive's endurance is also exceptionally high, rated for 30 drive writes per day or 12.3 Petabytes Written. Intel provided some performance data comparing its SSD SC P3700 NAND drive to the Optane SSD DC P4800X in a few different scenarios. This test shows read IO latency with the drive under load and not only is the P4800X's read IO latency significantly lower, but it is very consistent regardless of load. With a 70/30 mixed read write workload, the Optane SSD DC P4800X also offers between 5 and 8x better performance versus standard NVMe drives. The 375GB Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X add-in-card will be priced at $1520, which is roughly three times the cost per gigabyte of Intel's high-end SSD DC P3700. In the short term, expect Intel Optane solid state drives to command a premium. As availability ramps, however, prices will likely come down.
MojoKid writes: AMD lifted the veil this morning on architecture detail and performance expectations of its next generation Zen-based server platform, codenamed Naples. Naples is an up to 32-core / 64-thread variant of Zen, targeted at enterprise and data center applications. The processors will feature eight-channel DDR4 memory controllers (with up to 16 DIMMs attached per CPU), with support for up to 4TB of memory, and 128 lanes of on-chip PCI Express connectivity. In a 2P (dual processors / dual socket) configuration, Naples offers up to 64 physical scores (128 threads), access to 32 DIMM slots and an aggregate 16 memory channels. Versus a 2P Intel Xeon E5-2699A V4 based server, the 2P Naples setup ends up with double the memory channels, a higher total memory capacity, more cores (20 more physical cores, 40 more threads), and 48 more available PCI Express lanes. AMD's performance comparisons at its tech day event pit a 2P Naples server, with 512GB of DDR4 RAM, up against a 2P Intel Xeon E4-2699A V4 configuration with 384GB of RAM. The Naples system had a higher memory capacity and that memory was clocked much higher too – 2400MHz vs. 1866MHz. The Naples system has more cores, and with SMT on, can ultimately process more threads as a result. The AMD Naples system also has double the memory channels, further improving peak memory bandwidth. In its demos, AMD used a seismic analysis workload, which involved multiple iterations of 3D wave equations. According to AMD, the test taxes the entire system, including CPU cores, memory and I/O. In this demo, the AMD server system completed equations roughly 2.5x faster than the dual-socket Intel Xeon server. Expected price points weren't given, but Naples processors and servers should be available in Q2 this year.
MojoKid writes: NVIDIA just lifted the veil on its latest monster graphics card for gamers — the long-rumored GeForce GTX 1080 Ti — at an event this evening in San Francisco during the Game Developers Conference (GDC). The card will sit at the top of NVIDIA's GeForce offering with the Titan X and GeForce GTX 1080 in NVIDIA's Pascal-powered product stack, promising significant performance gains over the GTX 1080 and faster than Titan X performance, for a much lower price of $699. The 12 billion transistor NVIDIA GP102 on the card has 3,584 CUDA cores, which is actually the same as NVIDIA's Titan X. However, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti will have fewer ROP units at 88, versus 96 in the Titan X. The 1080 Ti will also, however, come equipped with 11GB of premium GDDR5X memory from Micron clocked at 11,000 MHz for an effective 11Gbps data rate. Peak compute throughput of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is slightly higher than the Titan X due to the Ti's higher Boost clock. Memory bandwidth over its narrower 352-bit GDDR5 memory interface is 484GB/s, which is also slightly higher than a Titan X as well. NVIDIA also noted that peak overclocks on the core should hit 2GHz or higher with minimal coaxing. As a result, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti will be faster than the Titan X out of the box, faster still when overclocked.
MojoKid writes: If you've had any doubts of Intel's upcoming Kaby Lake processor's capabilities with respect to overclocking, don't fret. It's looking like even the most dedicated overclockers are going to have a blast with this series. Someone recently got a hold of an Intel Core i7-7700K chip and decided to take it for an overclocking spin. Interestingly, the motherboard used is not one of the upcoming series designed for Kaby Lake, but the chip was instead overclocked on a Z170 motherboard from ASRock (Z170M OC Formula). That bodes well for those planning to snag a Kaby Lake CPU that would rather not have to upgrade their motherboard as well. With liquid nitrogen cooling the processor, this particular chip peaked at just over 7GHz, which helped deliver a SuperPi 32M time of 4m 20s, and a wPrime 1024M time of 1m 33s. It's encouraging to see the chip breaking this clock speed, even with extreme methods, since it's a potential relative indicator of how much headroom will be available for overclocking with more standard cooling solutions.
MojoKid writes: AMD has just officially unveiled that desktop variants of its Zen processor family will now be branded RYZEN. Zen-based processors will eventually target desktops, servers, and mobiles device, but the first wave of products will be targeted at the performance desktop market, where gamers and VR continue to spur growth. AMD is positioning RYZEN as a high-performance option and though there will be other core configurations as well, AMD has disclosed that one of the high-end options in the initial RYZEN line-up will feature 8 cores (16 threads with SMT) and at minimum a 3.4 GHz base clock, with higher turbo frequencies. That processor will also be outfitted with 20MB of cache – 4MB of L2 and 16MB of L3 – and it will be infused with what AMD is calling SenseMI technology. SenseMI is essentially fancy branding for the updated branch predictor, prefetcher, and power and control logic in Zen. AMD's upcoming AM4 platform for RYZEN will be outfitted with all of the features expected of a modern PC enthusiast platform. AM4 motherboards will use DDR4 memory and feature PCIe Gen 3 connectivity, and support for USB 3.1 Gen 2, NVMe, and SATA Express. Performance demos of RYZEN shown to members of the press pit a stock Intel Core i7-6900K (3.2GHz base, 3.7GHz turbo) with Turbo Boost was enabled on the 6900K, versus RYZEN with boost disabled running at 3.4GHz flat. In the demo, the RYZEN system outpaced the Core i7-6900K by a few seconds.
MojoKid writes: Overclockers and frequent PC builders alike can appreciate the advantages of having an open air bench or rack for testing. These make component swapping a breeze for comparisons and provide a flexible platform for checking a build before installing it inside a tight case. The Streamcom BC1 Open Benchtable is a very different approach to the solution of open air PC building and it's machined from a solid block of aluminum. The Streacom BC1's primary goal is portability and every piece of it connects and stows away securely inside the frame — screws, legs, risers, everything. The stowed profile is about the size of a kitchen cutting board (10.5" x 14" or 27cm x 36cm) and weighs just four pounds, complete with an integrated carry handle. It is also completely toolless which markedly improves the convenience of building up a system. Finally, as its name implies, the BC1's design is actually open-source which affords several key advantages. First and foremost, anyone can take the design and tweak it to meet their needs and even contribute back to the original project for future revisions. Also, anyone with access to a CNC machine and a block of aluminum can mill their own or augment it with 3D-printable add-ons.
Deathspawner writes: Sony's PS4 Pro hasn't even been available for a week yet, but it's already flying off the shelves, helping to boost overall PS4 sales after a few months of tepid action. With its 4K and HDR capabilities, the allure of the Pro is high, but what about performance other than gaming? Techgagedecided to find out, and discovered what most were expecting: that the Pro isn't that much faster outside of the improved gaming performance (or quality). The Pro includes a 1TB model of the same hard drive, so no gains there are seen, although the boosted CPU speed does seem to make improvements in load times in some rarer cases. What can really make a difference is upgrading the console to an SSD, which the site also explored.
Deathspawner writes: Sony's latest and greatest PlayStation 4 has just hit store shelves. Called Pro, Sony is targeting this particular model squarely at 4K and HDR televisions, although those with 1080p displays can still see some benefits. All told, the Pro sports a 31% faster CPU and 227% faster GPU, and as of the launch, most games will be targeting 4K resolution in lieu of increased detail of framerates. So far, reception to the console has been good, with Ars Technica saying that it will make games look crisper, especially when using PS VR. Techgage, meanwhile, believes the console leaves a lot to be desired — at least right now. One thing seems to be generally agreed-upon, though: the PS4 Pro is an ideal choice for those who don't own the original, or those who own PS VR, as both performance and fidelity can be improved significantly there.
MojoKid writes: It has been rumored for months that Microsoft would be unveiling a new Windows 10-powered all-in-one flagship but today Microsoft's ever-exuberant Panos Pay unveiled the Microsoft Surface Studio officially at the company's Windows 10 event in New York. The forged aluminum Surface Studio is an all-in-one that features a 28-inch PixelSense touch display with a 3:2 aspect ratio and 192 pixels per inch over a 4500x3000 resolution. According to Panay, this is the thinnest LCD display ever built at just 1.3mm thick. The machines will be powered by Intel 6th Gen (Skylake) Core i7 or Core i5 processors, up to 32GB of memory, 1 or 2TB hybrid drives (SSD and HDD) and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M or GTX 965M GPU. For connectivity, you'll find four USB 3.0 ports on the back, GbE, mini DisplayPort and a Secure Digital slot. The Surface Studio has a trick up its sleeve as well and the display can collapse down, bringing it closer to your desk, with a 20-degree drafting angle, employing its zero-gravity hinge. According to Panay, this design "Turns your desk into a studio." The display can then interact with the Surface Dial, which is a radial input accessory that incorporates haptic feedback. When placed on the display, a radial menu pops out around the device, allowing you to adjust things like ink color or line thickness. It can also be used as a standalone media control device, allowing you to adjust the volume, brightness, or flip through pages in a document. Surface Dial also works with the Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, Surface Book, while the Surface Studio supports Surface Pen input. Microsoft Surface Studio Starts at $2,999 and is available for pre-order today and is expected to ship in limited quantities during the 2016 holiday season.
MojoKid writes: As we quickly approach the November 8th elections, email leaks from the Clinton camp continue to loom over the presidential candidate. The latest data dump from WikiLeaks shines a light on emails between Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta, and Facebook Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg. In one email exchange, dated June 6th, 2015, Sandberg expresses her desire for Clinton to become president, writing to Podesta, "And I still want HRC to win badly. I am still here to help as I can." While that was a private exchange, Sandberg also made her zest for seeing Clinton as the 45th President of the United States publicly known in a Facebook post on July 28th of this year. None of that is too shocking when you think about it. Sandberg has every right to endorse whichever candidate she wants for president. However, a later exchange between Sandberg and Podesta showed that Mark Zuckerberg was looking to get in on the action a bit, and perhaps curry favor with Podesta and the Clinton camp in shaping public policy. Donald Trump has long claimed that Clinton is too cozy with big businesses, and one cannot dismiss the fact that Facebook has a global user base of 1.7 billion users. When you toss in the fact that Facebook came under fire earlier this year for allegedly suppressing conservative news outlets in the Trending News bar, questions begin to arise about Facebook's impartiality in the political race.
MojoKid writes: Whether you use Linux at home or manage a Linux server, you should waste no time in making sure your OS is completely up-to-date. An exploit called "Dirty COW" has now been revealed, and while it's not the most dangerous one ever released, the fact that it's been around for nine years is causing alarm throughout the Linux community. Dirty COW might sound like an awfully bizarre name for an exploit, but it's named as such because the Linux function it affects is "copy-on-write." COW happens when more than one system call references the same data. To optimize the amount of space that data uses, pointers are used (as with data deduplication). If one call needs to modify the data, that's when the data is copied entirely. As a privilege escalation exploit, code execution could happen after this bug is exploited. Imagine, for example, if someone gains access to a system via SQL injection, but lands as a normal user. With this exploit, the equivalent of root access could be gained, at which point the OS is at the mercy of its attacker.
MojoKid writes: Are our ever more powerful, compact and thin smartphones putting us at risk? Or are we just more sensitized to events like smartphones blowing up since Samsung's nasty Galaxy Note 7 debacle? Regardless, it's beginning to look a lot like the latest smartphone feature trend is spontaneous combustion. While taking a surfing lesson, Australian Mat Jones put his brand-new iPhone 7 underneath some clothing on the seat of his car, safe and sound. Or, so he thought. Upon returning to his vehicle, it was filled with smoke and the source was undeniably his iPhone 7. Not only was the phone destroyed, but his car was torched as well. All smartphones using Lithium-ion batteries have the capability of exploding or catching fire, due to their internal chemical makeup, but under normal circumstances and operating conditions this should never be an issue. Extreme heat can be one contributor to a catastrophic event like this, but that seems an unlikely cause as temperatures are moderate right now at the South Coast of Australia — about 20C (68F) on average. The iPhone 7 in question was also not charging at the time as well. Apple is reportedly working with Jones to determine root cause of the explosion.