Dr. Damage writes: The TSX instructions built into Intel's Haswell CPU cores haven't become widely used by everyday software just yet, but they promise to make certain types of multithreaded applications run much faster than they can today. Some of the savviest software developers are likely building TSX-enabled software right about now.
Unfortunately, that work may have to come to a halt, thanks to a bug—or "errata," as Intel prefers to call them—in Haswell's TSX implementation that can cause critical software failures. To work around the problem, Intel will disable TSX via microcode in its current CPUs--and in early Broadwell processors, as well.
crookedvulture writes: Intel's next-gen Broadwell processor has entered production, and we now know a lot more about what it entails. The chip is built using 14-nm process technology, enabling it to squeeze into half the power envelope and half the physical footprint of last year's Haswell processors. Even the thickness of the CPU package has been reduced to better fit inside slim tablets. There are new power-saving measures, too, including a duty cycle control mechanism that shuts down sections of the chip during some clock cycles. The onboard GPU has also been upgraded with more functional units and hardware-assisted H.265 decoding for 4K video. Intel expects the initial Broadwell variant, otherwise known as the Core M, to slip into tablets as thin as the iPad Air. We can expect to see the first systems on shelves in time for the holidays.
crookedvulture writes: Microsoft unveiled its Surface Pro 3 tablet at a press event in New York this morning. The device has a larger 12" screen with a 2160x1440 display resolution and a novel 3:2 aspect ratio. Intel Core processors provide the horsepower, starting with the Core i3 in the base model and extending all the way up to Core i7 in pricier variants. The tablet is just 9.1 mm thick, which Microsoft claims is the thinnest ever for a Core-based device. Microsoft developed a new radial fan that's suppose to distribute airflow evenly inside the chassis without generating audible noise. The tablet weights 800 g, shaving 100 g off the Surface Pro 2, and it's supposed to have longer battery life, as well. Microsoft has also rolled out new keyboard accessories, a pressure-sensitive stylus, and a docking station that supports 4K video output. The Surface Pro 3 is scheduled to be available tomorrow with prices starting at $799.
crookedvulture writes: AMD just revealed that it has two all-new CPU cores in the works. One will be compatible with the 64-bit ARMv8 instruction set, while the other is meant as an x86 replacement for the Bulldozer architecture and its descendants. Both cores have been designed from the ground up by a team led by Jim Keller, the lead architect behind AMD's K8 architecture. Keller worked at Apple on the A4 and A4 before returning to AMD in 2012. The first chips based on the new AMD cores are due in 2016.
Dr. Damage writes: AMD introduced it Mantle API for graphics in order to reduce CPU overhead and to create a means of programming that better maps to modern GPU hardware. Now, it appears Microsoft and the industry forces that collaboratively drive OpenGL may be moving to offer similar capabilities. Several GDC session listings suggest that a new version of Direct3D and "zero driver overhead" OpenGL will be introduced at the Game Developer's Conference next month. The "future improvements in Direct3D" promise "an unprecedented level of hardware control and reduced CPU rendering overhead."
crookedvulture writes: Slashdot's early coverage of AMD's dual-GPU Radeon HD 7990 relied on data collected with Nvidia's FCAT tools, which capture frames just before they hit the display. FCAT is great for quantifying smooth frame delivery, but it doesn't track interruptions earlier in the pipeline that can produce perceptible jitter in the game animation. Those interruptions can be measured with Fraps, correlated with FCAT data, and complemented with video samples to achieve a much deeper understanding of actual performance. Combining those tools to evaluate the 7990 reveals microstuttering that produces choppier gameplay than a single-GPU Radeon with half the theoretical horsepower (and a much lower price). AMD has prototype frame pacing software that can smooth out the stuttering in some games, but there's no timetable for its release. Right now, you're better with the $400 Radeon HD 7970 than you are with AMD's $1000 flagship.
Dr. Damage writes: "AMD's next-gen Bulldozer architecture hasn't performed up to expectations--it's relatively power-hungry and has weak performance, especially in desktop-style applications that require strong single-thread performance. Fortunately, AMD revealed today at Hot Chips that it is working to improve single-thread performance and energy efficiency with Steamroller, an upcoming architectural refresh."
Dr. Damage writes: "Nvidia continues to fill out its lineup of Kepler-based graphics products. Today, it plugs the hole at $299 with the GeForce GTX 660 Ti, which is based on the same GK104 GPU as the $499 GTX 680, only with a few functional units disabled. The Tech Report's review of the GTX 660 Ti goes beyond average FPS numbers, looking at frame latencies to get a better sense of hiccups and stutters that interrupt smooth gameplay. The verdict? The 660 Ti offers roughly equivalent performance to the Radeon HD 7950, a card that recently gained clock boosting firmware but costs $50 more than the GeForce. The 660 Ti is quieter than its Radeon counterpart, and it consumes less power when playing games. As the conclusion notes, though, any of the cards in the GeForce's price range is more than adequate given the demands of today's games."
Dr. Damage writes: Nvidia first unveiled the more expensive graphics cards in its new GeForce lineup, but today, the GeForce GTX 670 arrives, and The Tech Report says there's no reason to buy anything else. They prove it by driving a six-megapixel, triple-monitor array competently with a single video card and measuring performance using some intriguing, latency-focused metrics.
Dr. Damage writes: Nvidia's new GeForce GTX 590 poses an interesting question to the subset of folks who buy $700 dual-GPU graphics cards: does performance rank above all else, or do considerations like board size and noise levels matter more? This latest high-end GeForce isn't quite as fast as AMD's similarly outrageous Radeon HD 6990, but it's smaller and substantially quieter. Based on the numbers, the Radeon's louder fan may be easier to hear than the card's slightly higher frame rates are to see.
EconolineCrush writes: Intel's Xeon 5600 series is the latest batch of CPUs to tap the company's cutting-edge, 32-nano fabrication process. Code-named Westmere-EP, these new server and workstation CPUs add two cores and 4MB of cache per socket while remarkably staying within the same thermal envelopes as their predecessors. When pitted against the last Xeon generation, the new chips predictably offer better performance and power efficiency. Intel's power-optimized Willowbrook server motherboard may be even more impressive, as it enables a dozen-core Xeon L5640 system to consume just 66W at idle.
J. Dzhugashvili writes: A member of the Tech Report forums reports that his iPad's charging cord literally melted in the middle of the night, and the iPad it was connected to became searing hot—hot enough that the user dropped it and caused some damage. Melted charger cables and searing-hot (or combusting) batteries are nothing new, and they've led to mass battery recalls in the past. After getting in touch with Apple, however, the user was simply told he was responsible for damaging the device by dropping it, and that the iPad was out of warranty for having jailbroken software installed.
EconolineCrush writes: Apple might have an answer for the iPhone 4's antenna issues, but a potential problem with the iPad could be tougher to fix. At least one user's iPad nearly combusted while the device was plugged in, melting the charging cable in the process. Similar problems prompted mass notebook battery recalls a few years ago, although this seems to be the only case of iPad-related melting reported thus far. Have any Slashdot users observed similar behavior with their iPads?
J. Dzhugashvili writes: If you read Slashdot, odds are you already know about WiGig and the 7Gbps wireless networking it promises. The people at Atheros and Wilocity are now working on an interesting application for the spec: wireless PCI Express. In a nutshell, wPCIe enables a PCI Express switch with local and remote components linked by a 60GHz connection. The first applications, which will start sampling next year, will let you connect your laptop to a base station with all kinds of storage controllers, networking controllers, and yes, an external graphics processor. wPCIe works transparently to the operating system, which only sees additional devices connected over PCI Express. And as icing on the cake, wPCie controllers will lets you connect to standard Wi-Fi networks, too.
EconolineCrush writes: Bargain-priced nettops have intriguing potential, but you usually have to accept the manufacturer's default configuration. Not so with Zotac's Zbox HD-ID11, which is available as a barebones affair sans hard drive, memory, and operating system. The Zbox comes with a dual-core Atom CPU, an Ion GPU with HD video and Flash acceleration, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and even Gigabit Ethernet. Although Wi-Fi reception is a little flakey, the system runs nice and quiet and handles HTPC duties and light gaming with aplomb. The Zbox also plays well with XBMC Live, making it easy to roll your own home-theater PC without paying the Windows tax, which counts for a lot given the nettop's $220 street price. This could be the ultimate budget HTPC for savvy DIY types.