MojoKid writes: In early August the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the FCC had no authority to prevent states from imposing restrictions on municipal internet. This was a result of the FCC stepping in last year in an effort to "remove barriers to broadband investment and competition." However, the courts sided with the states, which said that the FCC's order impeded on state rights. In the end, this ruling clearly favored firmly entrenched big brand operators like Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and AT&T, which lobby hard to keep competition at bay. The federal ruling specifically barred municipal internet providers from offering service outside of their city limits, denying them from providing service to under-served communities. The fallout from the federal court's rejection of the FCC order to extend a lifeline to municipal internet providers has claimed another victim. The small community of Pinetops, North Carolina — population 1,300 — will soon have its gigabit internet connection shut off. Pinetops has been the recipient of Greenlight internet service, which is provided by the neighboring town of Wilson. The town of Wilson has been providing electric power to Pinetops for the past 40 years, and had already deployed fiber through the town in order to bolster its smart grid initiative. What's infuriating to the Wilson City Council and to the Pinetop residents that will lose their high-speed service, is that the connections are already in place. There's no logical reason why they should be cut off, but state laws and the lobbyists supporting those laws have deemed what Greenlight is doing illegal. Provide power to a neighboring town — sure that's OK. Provide better internet to a neighboring town — lawsuit
MojoKid writes: Politicians are not the only ones mudslinging this season. Huawei's Matebook and Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 have teamed up to continue to try and humiliate the iPad Pro and its various shortcomings. In Huawei's latest commercial, the iPad Pro is being pushed out of the cool kid's table. The advertisement battle all started when Apple released its initial iPad Pro commercial. The iPad Pro ad is titled "What's a computer?" and starts with "Just when you think you know what a computer is, you see a keyboard that can just get out of the way...and a screen you can touch and even write on." The commercial ends with the statement, "Imagine what your computer to do, if it was an iPad Pro." The implication in this ad is that the addition of the keyboard makes the iPad Pro a "computer." Of course Microsoft could not resist poking fun at Apple in their own Surface Pro 4 commercial, suggesting that it is a real computer while the iPad Pro is a wannabe. Huawei's own commercial plays on the Microsoft's ad. All three devices are side-by-side at a party with a piñata. The Matebook says "Hey, congrats on that keyboard" and then the iPad Pro responds, "who are you?" The Matebook runs off a list of its various features and tells the Surface Pro 4, "I think we are going to get along great." The Surface Pro 4 then replied, "welcome to the party." Huawei's ad of course implies that the Matebook is not only better than the iPad Pro, but is on par with the Surface Pro 4. The Matebook starts at $649 USD and is currently available from Windows, Amazon, and Newegg.
MojoKid writes: For the first time, Amazon's Alexa voice service is headed to a tablet. It's one of the standout features of Amazon's new Fire HD 8, a budget slate built to offer users all-day battery life, faster performance, double the onboard storage of previous versions Fire HD tablets and for a low $90 price tag. The Fire HD 8 tablet's 8-inch HD (1280x800) IPS display is driven by a quad-core 1.3GHz processor and 1.5GB of RAM and a capacious 4,750 mAh battery that is claimed to deliver up to 12 hours of mixed use battery life. In addition, Alexa voice services works on the Fire HD 8 just as it does on other supported products, only here the voice assistant is conjured up by long pressing the home button. You can then task Alexa with reading the news, giving weather reports, playing songs, and so forth. The new Fire HD 8 32GB model is available to pre-order now for $90 with special offers or $105 without.
MojoKid writes: There was quite a stir caused recently when it was determined that Microsoft would only be fully supporting Intel's Kaby Lake and AMD's Zen next-generation processor microarchitectures with Windows 10. It's easy to dismiss the decision as pure marketing move, but there's more to consider and a distinction to be made between support and compatibility. The decision means future updates and optimizations that take advantage of the latest architectural enhancements in these new processors won't be made for older OS versions. Both of these microarchitectures have new features that require significant updates to Windows 10 to optimally function. Kaby Lake has updates to Intel's Speed Shift technology that make it possible to change power states more quickly than Skylake, for example. Then there's Intel's Turbo Boost 3.0, which is only baked natively into Windows 10 Redstone 1. For an operating system to optimally support AMD's Zen-based processors, major updates are likely necessary as well. Zen has fine-grained clock gating with multi-level regions throughout the chip, in addition to newer Simultaneous Multi-Threading technology for AMD chips. To properly leverage the tech in Zen, Microsoft will likely have to make updates to the Windows kernel and system scheduler, which is more involved than a driver update. Of course, older versions of Windows and alternative operating systems will still install and run on Kaby Lake and Zen. They are X86 processors, after all.
MojoKid writes: Video game developer Gun Media took the opportunity at PAX West to showcase a trailer for its upcoming horror game title "Friday The 13th" and it's a bit of a shocker to say the least. Discussions about video game violence have historically spurred passionate debate and even sparked congressional deliberation. Ultimately, video game rating systems were implemented in an effort to prevent impressionable children from seeing things that were deemed inappropriate for their age. Back in the day, Mortal Kombat, which featured gratuitous violence, blood, and "fatalities" was at the center of many debates regarding video game violence. Well, when you see Gun Media's game trailer for Friday The 13th: The Game, Mortal Kombat is going to seem almost cute by comparison. The trailer is absolutely not for the faint of heart. Many of you will find it disturbing. Viewer discretion is definitely advised. Friday The 13th: The Game will apparently have a Left 4 Dead type vibe, with Jason Voorhees in the role of the massive zombie hordes that attacks players. It is up for pre-order now and is due to ship later this year. However, it's not the concept of the game that some people might take issue with; it's the intense violence depicted in this footage.
MojoKid writes: AMD has been talking about the claimed 40% IPC (Instructions Per Clock) improvement of its forthcoming Zen processor versus the company's existing Excavator core for ages. Zen's initial availability is slated for late this year, with lager-scale roll-out planned for early 2017. However, last night, at a private press event in San Francisco, AMD unveiled a lot more details on their Zen processor architecture. AMD claims to have achieved that 40 percent IPC uplift with a newly-designed, higher-performance branch prediction and a micro-op cache for more efficient issuing of operations. The instruction schedule windows have been increased by 75% and issue-width and execution resources have been increased by 50%. The end result of these changes is higher single-threaded performance, through better instruction level parallelism. Zen's pre-fetcher is also vastly improved. There is 8MB of shared L3 cache on board now, a unified L2 cache for both instruction and data, and separate, low-latency L1 instruction and data caches. The new archicture offers up to 5x the cache bandwidth to the cores versus previous-gen offerings. However, after all the specsmanship was out of the way, AMD actually showcased a benchmark run of an 8-core Zen Summit Ridge procesor versus Intel's Broadwell-E 8-core chip, both running at 3GHz and processing a Blender rending workload. In the demo, the 8-core Zen CPU actually outpaced Intel's chip by a hair. Blender may have been chosen for a reason but this early benchmark demo looks impressive for AMD and its forthcoming Zen architecture.
MojoKid writes: Intel CEO Bryan Krzanich took to the stage at the Moscone Center in San Francisco today kick off this year's Intel Developers Forum. Kyrzanich unveiled a number of new projects and products including a product code named "Project Alloy." The device is an un-tethered, merged reality Head Mounted Device (HMD) that combines compute, graphics, multiple RealSense modules, various sensors, and batteries into a self-contained headset that offers a full six degrees of freedom. Unlike the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, Project Alloy does not need to be wired to a PC or other device and it does not require externally mounted sensors to define a virtual space. Instead, it uses RealSense cameras to map the actual physical world you're in while wearing the HMD. The RealSense cameras also allow the device to bring real-world objects into the virtual world, or vice versa. The cameras and sensors used in Project Alloy offer full depth sensing, so obstacles can be mapped, and people and objects within camera range – like your hand, for example — can be brought into the virtual world and accurately tracked. During a live, on-stage demo performed by Intel's Craig Raymond, Craig's hand was tracked and all five digits, complete with accurate bones and joint locations, were brought into the the VR/AR experience. Project Alloy will be supported by Microsoft's Windows Holographics Shell framework.
MojoKid writes: NVIDIA's new Pascal core graphics architecture is being driven throughout the company's entire product portfolio, as is typically the case. Today, NVIDIA brings Pascal to notebooks with the introduction of the NVIDIA Mobile GeForce GTX 10-Series. What's interesting is that the first laptop-targeted GPUs are actually quite similar to their desktop counterparts. In fact, all three of the Mobile GeForce GTX 10-Series graphics processors NVIDIA is announcing today come sans the traditional "M" tacked on the end of their model numbers. As it turns out, the migration to a 16nm manufacturing process with Pascal has been kind to NVIDIA and the Mobile GeForce GTX 1080 and Mobile GeForce GTX 1060 have nearly identical specs to their desktop counterparts, from CUDA core counts, to boost, and memory clock speeds. However, the Mobile GeForce GTX 1070 actually has a few more CUDA cores at 2048, versus 1920 for the desktop GTX 1070 (with slightly lower clocks). By tweaking boost clock peaks and MXM module power requirements, NVIDIA was able to get these new Pascal mobile GPUs into desktop replacement class machines and even 5-pound, 15-inch class standard notebook designs (for the 1060). In the benchmarks, the new Mobile GeForce GTX 10-Series blows pretty much any previous discrete notebook graphics chip out of the water and smooth 4K or 120Hz gaming is now possible on notebook platforms.
MojoKid writes: NVIDIA took the wraps off its new Pascal-based, flagship graphics card, dubbed the Titan X, a couple of weeks ago, but only pictures and specifications were available. NVIDIA Titan X cards are now shipping in limited quantities, however, and the benchmark numbers are in. The new Titan X (the company kept the same branding as its previous Maxwell-based Titan), based on NVIDIA's Pascal architecture, is some 60 percent faster than its older, Maxwell-based Titan counterpart and 20 – 30 percent faster than the new GeForce GTX 1080. On board Titan X are 1024 more CUDA cores versus a GeForce GTX 1080 (3584 versus 2560) and a wider 384-bit GDDR5X memory bus versus the 1080's 256-bit interface. Though the Titan X has the same memory clock as a GTX 1080, it has 12GB of GDDR5X memory, versus 8GB on the 1080. In testing, nothing can touch it and there's still additional headroom for overclocking. The new Titan X's $1200 price point, however, will give even hardcore gamers sticker shock. For graphics professionals and deep learning applications it could be a reasonably good value though, versus pro graphics GPUs.
MojoKid writes: Microsoft is granting a grace period for a free Windows 10 upgrade, for people with accessibility needs who use assistive technologies. For the general public, the yearlong offer expired last Friday July 29 (or July 30 in the wee hours of the morning, depending on where you live), but for anyone who uses an assistive technology product, there's still time. In a FAQ announcing the free offer extension, Microsoft said it hasn't yet announced an end date for customers using assistive technologies, but will give everyone a heads-up prior to whenever the company decides on an extended deadline. In the meantime, there's a special webpage setup where users can go and click on the "Upgrade Now" button to get started.
MojoKid writes: AMD took the wraps off its latest pro graphics solutions at Siggraph today, and announced three new professional graphics cards in the new Polaris-based Radeon Pro WX Series. The Radeon Pro WX 4100 is the entry-level model with a half-height design for use in small form-factor workstations. The Radeon Pro WX 5100 is the middle child, while the Radeon Pro WX 7100 is AMD's current top-end WX model. The Radeon Pro WX 7100 has 32 compute units, offers 5 TFLOPs of compute performance, and is backed by 8GB of GDDR4 memory over a 256-bit memory interface. The Radeon Pro WX 5100 offers 28 compute units and 4 TFLOPs of performance along with 8GB memory over the same 256-bit interface and the Radeon Pro WX 4100 is comprised of 16 compute units at 2 TFLOPs of perf with 4GB memory over a 128-bit memory link. The Radeon Pro WX 4100 has four mini DisplayPort outputs, while the Radeon Pro WX 5100 and 7100 each have four full-size DisplayPort connectors. None of these cards will be giving the new NVIDIA Quadro P6000 a run for its money in terms of performance, but they don't have to. The Quadro card will no doubt costs thousands of dollars, while the Radeon Pro WX 7100 will eek in at just under $1,000. The Radeon Pro WX 5100 and 4100 will slot in somewhat below that mark. AMD also announced the Radeon Solid State Storage Architecture and the Radeon Pro SSG card today. Details are scant, but AMD is essentially outfitting Radeon Pro SSG cards with large amounts of Solid State Flash Memory, which can allow much larger data sets to reside close to the GPU in an extended frame buffer. Whereas the highest-end professional graphics cards today may have up to 24GB of memory, the Radeon Pro SSG will start with 1TB, linked to the GPU via a custom PCI Express interface. Giving the GPU access to a large, local data repository should offer significantly increased performance for demanding workloads like real-time post-production of 8K video, high-resolution rendering, VR content creation and others.
MojoKid writes: Details just emerged from NVIDIA regarding its upcoming powerful, Pascal-based Titan X graphics card, featuring a 12 billion transistor GPU, codenamed GP102. NVIDIA is obviously having a little fun with this one and at an artificial intelligence (AI) meet-up at Stanford University this evening, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang first announced, and then actually gave away a few brand new, Pascal-based NVIDIA TITAN X GPUs. Apparently, Brian Kelleher, one of NVIDIA's top hardware engineers, made a bet with NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, that the company could squeeze 10 teraflops of computing performance out of a single chip. Jen-Hsun thought that was not doable in this generation of product, but apparently, Brian and his team pulled it off. The new Titan X is powered by NVIDIA's largest GPU; the company says it's actually the biggest GPU ever built. The Pascal-based GP102 features 3,584 CUDA cores, clocked at 1.53GHz (the previous-gen Titan X has 3,072 CUDA cores clocked at 1.08GHz). The specifications NVIDIA has released thus far include: 12-billion transistors, 11 TFLOPs FP32 (32-bit floating point), 44 TOPS INT8 (new deep learning inferencing instructions), 3,584 CUDA cores at 1.53GHz, and 12GB of GDDR5X memory (480GB/s). The new Titan X will be available Aug. 2 for $1,200 direct from NVIDIA.com.
MojoKid writes: Lenovo and Motorola launched the Moto Z Droid, Moto Z Force Droid and their companion snap-on Moto Mods today, which are a new series of Android smartphone devices that offer something unique among other Android smartphones. The base specs of both the Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid read like a top-shelf Android device should, with Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 820 SoC and a healthy 4GB of RAM and 32GB or 64GB storage options, along with microSD card expansion up to another 2TB. Both Moto Z Droids have essentially the same base platform, but differ significantly in a couple of areas. The Moto Z Droid is a thin (5.19mm) variant with a 2600 mAh battery and a 2560X1440 QHD AMOLED display. The Moto Z Force Droid sports that same QHD display, but it is sheathed behind Moto ShatterShield technology making it virtually indestructible. Motorola guarantees it not to crack or shatter if dropped. ShatterShield, along with the phone's larger 3500 mAh battery, make the Moto Z a somewhat thicker device. However, what's truly standout are Moto Mods, which are snap-on back-packs of sorts that add new features, like the JBL Speaker, Moto Insta-Projector and Incipio OffGrid Power Pack (2220 mAh) mods. Integration of the mods is excellent through Moto's patented rear magnetic and pin connector technology. Even the fairly complex projector mod fires up in seconds and works really well.
MojoKid writes: NVIDIA just launched their answer to AMD's Radeon RX 480 mainstream card today, dubbed the GeForce GTX 1060. The GP106 GPU at the heart of the GeForce GTX 1060 has roughly half of the resources of NVIDIA's current flagship GeForce GTX 1080. NVIDIA claims the GTX 1060 performs on par with a previous generation high-end GeForce GTX 980 and indeed this 120W mainstream offers an interesting mix of low-power and high-performance. The new GeForce GTX 1060 features a new Pascal derivative GPU that's somewhat smaller, called the GP106. The GP106 features 10 streaming multiprocessors (SM) with a total of 1280, single-precision CUDA cores and eight texture units. The GeForce GTX 1060 also features six 32-bit memory controllers, for 192-bits in total. GeForce GTX 1060 cards with either 6GB or 3GB of GDDR5 memory will be available and in benchmark testing offered performance that just misses the mark set by the pricier AMD Radeon R9 Nano but often outran the 8GB Radeon RX 480. The GeForce GTX 1060 held onto its largest leads over the Radeon RX 480 in the DirectX 11 tests, though the Radeon had a clear edge in OpenCL and managed to pull ahead in Thief and in some DirectX 12 tests (like Hitman). The GeForce GTX 1060, however, consumes significantly less power than the Radeon RX 480 and is quieter too.
MojoKid writes: Micron just launched its new 9100 Series NVMe solid state drives which come in a number of capacities, configurations and form factors. The Micron 9100 PRO series targets read-centric environments, while the 9100 MAX targets mixed workloads. Capacities for the drives range from 800GB on up to 3.2TB, though all of the drives are outfitted with a similar Microsemi 16-core / 16-channel controller and 16nm Micron MLC NAND flash memory. The fastest drives in the series are rated for peak sequential read and write throughput of 3GB/sec and 2GB/sec, respectively. In testing, the drives generally outpace Intel's DC 3700 series drive, but can't catch Intel's higher-end SSD DC P3608 in some read tests, though the Micron drives did outpace Intel's flagship in some write tests and can hit their peak 3GB/sec specified bandwidth number easily.