Tuesday, January 23rd 2018

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Headphones
Motherboards
Mouse
NAS
Processors
PSUs
Storage

AMD Ryzen 3 and Ryzen 5 "Raven Ridge" PIB Packages Pictured

Here are the first pictures of AMD Ryzen 3 2200G and Ryzen 5 2400G "Raven Ridge" desktop APU retail PIB (processor in box) packages. The PIB package includes the APU itself, an AMD Wraith Stealth cooling solution, a case-badge, and some documentation. These packages are visually distinguishable from Ryzen 3 and Ryzen 5 "Summit Ridge" CPU PIB packages, with a chrome silver band heading the front face, which has prominent AMD Radeon Vega Graphics branding. It keeps up with the APUs' full retail names: "AMD Ryzen 3 2200G with Radeon Vega 8 graphics" and "AMD Ryzen 5 2400G with Radeon Vega 11 graphics." The Ryzen 3 2200G is expected to be priced (MSRP) at USD $99.99, and the Ryzen 5 2400G at $169.99; both parts launch in the retail channel on the 12th of February. The two have been extensively detailed in our older article.

Google and Mozilla Push for AV1 Image Format Adoption, Beats JPEG and HEIC

Google and Mozilla, the companies behind the Chrome and Firefox cross-platform web-browsers; are pushing for the adoption of a new web image format to replace the ageing and inefficient JPEG, and the license-ridden HEIC. The two companies are leading a consortium of Internet businesses, called the Alliance for Open Media, to push for the proliferation and standardization of the new AV1 image file format. Early testing shows AV1 files to be 15 percent smaller than HEIC for comparable quality, which in turn promises half the file-size of JPEG for comparable quality. Apple uses HEIC as the default image file format for iOS and MacOS, while JPEG, PNG, and GIF continue to be the dominant web image formats, and have been prevalent for over two decades now.

"It seems downright silly that we're still relying on compression tech from 20 years ago," said Kelly Thompson, general manager at 500px, a photo sharing and sales site. "The equipment we're using to capture and display images is now exceeding JPEG's upper limits." JPEG is not just inefficient, but also has severe color palette limitations, and lack of support for transparency. Adoption of newer image file formats could significantly reduce Internet bandwidth usage benefiting both end-users running on slower/metered connections; and for infrastructure providers, such as ISPs.
Monday, January 22nd 2018

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Keyboards
Memory
Monitors
Motherboards
Mouse
Notebooks
PSUs
Speakers
Storage
Deepcool GAMMAXX GT

Deepcool GAMMAXX GT

Deepcool joins the RGB LED tower cooler craze with the GAMMAXX GT. Offering ultra-low noise levels along with acceptable performance, it's a great cooler, even if its name is a head scratcher.

Streacom Officially Launches the DB4 GPU Kit

Streacom is pleased to announce the DB4 GPU cooling kit, its first ever fanless cooling solution for discreet graphic cards. Designed specifically for the DB4, it utilises one of the 4 side panels for cooling, making silent performance graphics/gaming a reality. The kit comprises of a GPU mount, heat sink mount, heat pipes, universal bracket, VRAM coolers and thermal paste, everything needed to convert an actively cooled graphics card into a fanless one for the DB4.

The GPU mount features adjustable arms to accommodate most graphic card variations, and combined with the flexible heat sink mounting design of the DB4, allows for virtually any compact graphics card to be used. As with the DB4 CPU cooling, the GPU cooler is capable of cooling 65W TDP with a single side panel, which is ideal for cards such as the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Mini, making the DB4 a totally silent but powerful system.

Toshiba: If Memory Chip Production Spin-off Fails, IPO May Be Solution

The Financial Times has reported that Toshiba is considering a last-ditch effort towards producing liquidity, should its memory chip production business spin-off to Bain Capital not be allowed to complete prior to the end of March, in the face of antitrust scrutiny delays. Should that be the case, Toshiba would be in a dire situation, as the spin-off development has clearly shown (remember that Toshiba went from a 20% stake spin-off to a 100% spin-off due to increasing concerns with the company's outstanding debt and lack of liquidity).

Should that be the case, the company is reportedly considering an IPO as one of its contingency plans, the Financial Times reports, citing sources familiar with the plans. If the acquisition by Bain Capital fails to win regulatory approval by March 31, Toshiba is no longer bound to the deal's terms, sources familiar with the situation have told Reuters. The Financial Times further added that some analysts - and Toshiba shareholders - favor this contingency plan over the existing deal - and apparently there's some sentiment towards the same in the financial markets at large, as Toshiba shares hit a three-month high in morning trade, at one point rising as much as 4.7 percent, after these IPO plans started being made public. If Toshiba's board wasn't considering an IPO before, they sure are more likely to do so now.

Intel Announces Root Cause of Meltdown, Spectre Patch Reboot Issue Identified

Intel has finally come around towards reporting on the state of the reboot issues that have been plaguing Intel systems ever since the company started rolling out patches to customers. These patches, which aimed to mitigate security vulnerabilities present in Intel's chips, ended up causing a whole slew of other problems for Intel CPU deployment managers. As a result of Intel's investigation, the company has ascertained that there were, in fact, problems with the patch implementation, and is now changing its guidelines: where before users were encouraged to apply any issued updates as soon as possible, the company now states that "OEMs, cloud service providers, system manufacturers, software vendors and end users stop deployment of current versions, as they may introduce higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behavior." A full transcription of the Intel press release follows.

Intel Optane MEM M10 Cache Modules Surface on Retailers' Websites

The next step in Intel's Optane product launch could be right around the corner, as retailers have started listing the company's upcoming Optane MEM M10 cache drives up for pre-order. If you'll remember, these products were first leaked in some Intel product roadmap slides, where they appeared identified as "System Acce. Gen 1.0". Whether or not today's workloads and faster SSD-based storage require the introduction of a faster caching solution is up for debate; however, Intel seems to think there is room in the market for these caching solutions, even if the vast majority of users would be much better served by acquiring a higher capacity SSD as their primary drive (especially if they're coming from the HDD world).

These new Optane MEM M10 cache drives will come in capacities ranging from 16 GB to 64 GB. The M10 modules will take the M.2 2280 form-factor and deliver data through the PCIe 3.0 interface. Prices are being quoted at $47.58 for the 16 GB model, $82.03 for the 32 GB model, and $154.37 for the largest, 64 GB model. These should ensure lower latency and higher throughput than traditional SSDs do, due to their caching of users' more heavily requested data; however, due to the very nature of these caching solutions, and the memory footprint available for them, it's likely most users will hit severe performance bottlenecks, at the very least, on the 16 GB model.

Ubisoft Reveals Far Cry 5 System Requirements

As we near the launch of Far Cry 5, Ubisoft has decided to reveal the minimum and recommended system requirements for the PC version. They've also detailed the necessary hardware required to achieve a 30 FPS and 60 FPS experience at the 4K resolution. Additionally, the development team has generously implemented a built-in benchmark to aid users in analyzing their systems and calibrating the different visual options. Nevertheless, the game also comes with an auto-detect feature that chooses the best quality preset for gamers who don't want to fiddle with the different graphic options. Far Cry 5 is slated to launch on March 27 on PC, Xbox One, and PS4. The standard edition costs $59.99, while the Deluxe and Gold Edition cost $69.99 and $89.99, respectively.

Is your PC ready to tackle the latest installment in the Far Cry franchise?

Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX Vega 56 Spotted for the First Time

Sapphire's Pulse line of graphics cards focuses on providing aspiring gamers with the best bang for their buck. There are currently eight different models ranging from the Radeon RX 550 all the way up to the Radeon RX 580. According to German retailer Alternate.de, the Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX Vega 56 is the latest newborn in the Pulse family even though it isn't officially listed on Sapphire's website at the moment. The card sports a plastic shroud painted in matte black with some red accents. The Pulse Radeon RX Vega 56 occupies three PCIe slots and measures 28.2 cm x 12.5 cm, but that's mainly because of the monstrous heatsink that extends far beyond the graphic card's short PCB. Judging by the design, this model probably utilizes a similar cooling solution, consisting of 4 heatpipes and two 95 mm Dual-X cooling fans, like its RX 580 Pulse sibling. The backplate boasts a simple, yet beautiful design with red lines simulating a human pulse.

Despite the branding difference, the Pulse RX Vega 56 shares the same memory specification as the higher-end Nitro+ RX Vega 56 model. Each has 8GB of onboard HBM2 memory running at 800 MHz across a 2048-bit wide memory interface. However, the Pulse RX Vega 56 comes with a 1512 MHz boost clock, 60 MHz slower than the Nitro+ RX Vega 56. They also differ in PCIe power connectors and display outputs. The Pulse model depends on two 8-pin PCIe power connectors, while the Nitro+ model requires three of them. And lastly, the Pulse model has three Display Port 1.4 ports and a single HDMI 2.0b, while the Nitro+ model has two of each. Alternate.de lists the Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX Vega 56 with a €789 price tag.

AMD Reveals Specs of Ryzen 2000G "Raven Ridge" APUs

AMD today revealed specifications of its first desktop socket AM4 APUs based on the "Zen" CPU micro-architecture, the Ryzen 2000G "Raven Ridge" series. The chips combine a quad-core "Zen" CPU with an integrated graphics core based on the "Vega" graphics architecture, with up to 11 NGCUs, amounting to 704 stream processors. The company is initially launching two SKUs, the Ryzen 3 2200G, and the Ryzen 5 2400G. Besides clock speeds, the two are differentiated with the Ryzen 5 featuring CPU SMT, and more iGPU stream processsors. The Ryzen 5 2400G is priced at USD $169, while the Ryzen 3 2200G goes for $99. Both parts will be available on the 12th of February, 2018.

The Ryzen 5 2400 features an 4-core/8-thread CPU clocked at 3.60 GHz, with a boost frequency of 3.90 GHz; 2 MB of L2 cache (512 KB per core), and 4 MB of shared L3 cache; and Radeon Vega 11 graphics (with the 11 denoting NGCU count), featuring 704 stream processors. The iGPU engine clock is set at 1250 MHz. The dual-channel DDR4 integrated memory controller supports up to 64 GB of dual-channel DDR4-2933 MHz memory. The Ryzen 3 2200G is a slightly cut down part. Lacking SMT, its 4-core/4-thread CPU ticks at 3.50 GHz, with 3.70 GHz boost. Its CPU cache hierarchy is unchanged; the iGPU features only 8 out of 11 NGCUs, which translate to 512 stream processors. The iGPU engine clock is set at 1100 MHz. Both parts feature unlocked CPU base-clock multipliers; and have their TDP rated at 65W, and include AMD Wraith Stealth cooling solutions.

ASUS Intros ROG Strix Fusion 500 Gaming Headset

ASUS introduced the Republic of Gamers (ROG) Strix Fusion 500 gaming headset, a step up from the Strix Fusion 300 the company launched last September. The headset essentially retains the design of the Fusion 300, but steps it up with gold-metallic body panels around the cans, RGB multi-color LED diffusers replacing the red LED accents, which you can control via ASUS Aura Sync RGB software; and under the hood enhancements.

The headset uses a higher quality ESS Sabre 9018 DAC combined with ESS 9601 amplifier. The DAC has a high SNR, and puts out 24-bit/96 kHz audio. The enhanced audio setup is mated with 50 mm ASUS Essence drivers, and improvements made to the passive acoustic dampening material around your ears. ASUS included game-specific virtual-7.1 surround DSPs with this headset. Available now, the ASUS ROG Strix Fusion is priced at USD $179.99, about $50 pricier than the Fusion 300.
Sunday, January 21st 2018

ASRock Intros a Pair of Celeron "Gemini Lake" ITX Motherboards

ASRock introduced a pair of mini-ITX desktop motherboards implementing Intel's new Celeron "Gemini Lake" SoCs. The ASRock J4105-ITX and J4105B-ITX, as their names suggest, are powered by Celeron J4105 "Gemini Lake" SoCs, which combine a quad-core "Goldmont Plus" CPU ticking at 2.50 GHz, with new Intel UHD 600 Graphics. The integrated graphics features hardware-acceleration of 10bpc HEVC video encoding and decoding in addition to new DRM standards, which should enable Netflix 4K, and other on-demand video services at 4K UHD resolution. The J4105-ITX and J4105B-ITX are similar, but for the latter featuring legacy connectivity such as LPT and RS232 COM ports, replacing 8-channel HD audio with 6-channel, and a DVI port. While the former has a PCIe x1 slot, the latter has an x16 slot with x2 wiring.

The board draws power from a 24-pin ATX connector. The SoC is cooled by a fan-less heatsink, and is wired to DDR4 SO-DIMM slots, supporting up to 8 GB of dual-channel DDR4-2400 memory. The 22 mm M.2 slot that has x1 wiring, is recommended only for a WLAN card. Storage connectivity includes four SATA 6 Gbps ports on the J4105-ITX, and two ports on the J4105B-ITX. Both boards come with gigabit Ethernet. Display outputs include DVI, HDMI, and D-Sub on the J4105-ITX; while the J4105B-ITX features D-Sub and HDMI. Both boards are expected to be priced around $170, given that the SoC itself costs $107.

NVIDIA Asks Retailers to Ensure Gamers Get Graphics Cards

The crypto-currency plague continues to nibble away at the PC gaming ecosystem, driving gamers to consoles. This affects the long-term prospects of graphics processor manufacturers like NVIDIA, who will find it difficult to pull gamers lost to consoles back to the PC ecosystem, should newer cost-effective ASICs arrest the viability of using GPUs to mine crypto-currency (as it did on several occasions in the past). The company is reportedly writing to PC hardware retailers to take steps to ensure that PC gamers have access to graphics cards first, and only then crypto-currency miners. The request doesn't prescribe any measures to control graphics card prices that have clearly gone out of hand.

Retailers in Germany responded lukewarmly, by setting quantity limitations, ranging between 2 to 5 units per order (and not per-household). Retailers responding to ComputerBase.de commented that they sometimes receive orders by e-mail with quantities running over 100 units. NVIDIA emphasizes that this request is a "recommendation" on its part, and not a directive, and that it would never interfere in freedom of commerce (by letting market-forces sell $200 graphics cards at $1000). The only people standing to lose are PC gamers who haven't upgraded their graphics cards in over two years, who are not able to play today's AAA games at recommended settings, especially when newer games are implementing the new DirectX 12 API, and their eye-candy have leaped to levels 2+ year old high-end graphics cards struggle to keep up with.
Saturday, January 20th 2018

Gigabyte Releases New Gemini Lake-Powered Motherboards

GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd, a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, has announced the release of new generation Gemini Lake based J/N series motherboards with the built-in latest Intel Pentium Silver/ Intel Celeron processors. With humidity protected glass fabric PCBs, long acting capacitors, anti-surge ICs, low resistance MOSFETS, and Ultra Durable components, GIGABYTE J/N series motherboards maximize product value by offering users the ability to customize performance settings.

GIGABYTE newest J/N series motherboards utilize a fanless cooling solution and the built-in Intel Gemini Lake processors make them perfect for compact, mainstream builds. The motherboards support HDMI 2.0 4K at 21:9 resolution for high definition video quality. Integrated PCIe Gen2 x2 M.2 slots supporting high speed NVMe SSD allows for fast data transfer speeds. The board's native Intel WIFI via the M.2 Connector along with an independently sold Intel CNVi wireless networking solution can make way for impressive wireless connectivity exceeding 1 gigabit per second, traditionally found in wired connections. Additionally, its support for M.2 SATA SSD, UDIMM DDR4 modules rated for 2400MHz, and noise free configurations makes it a perfect option for school, business, and home usage.
Friday, January 19th 2018

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Keyboards
Motherboards
Notebooks

Seagate Launches 5U84 High-Density Enclosure with Next-Generation OS

Seagate Technology plc today announced the launch of the 5U84 high-density enclosure built with a next-generation operating system that together delivers performance, capacity and reliability. The 5U84 enclosure and firmware technology will enable businesses to store massive quantities of data in a high-availability enclosure that provides high performance access to data. What's more, Seagate Systems' operating system not only powers the high density 5U84, but dramatically improves the system's performance and reliability, increasing confidence in using high-density enclosures.

As with any technology, it is critically important to create layers of protection when it comes to data storage, particularly in markets such as video surveillance, where the integrity of the data is critical. Using next generation data protection technology, Seagate's Advanced Distributed Autonomic Protection Technology (ADAPT) can eliminate up to 95% of performance degradation during a disk drive rebuild when compared to traditional RAID solutions, meaning the 5U84 is essentially "self-healing". The technology disperses data across multiple drives, allocating more resources to rebuilds, thereby reducing the time needed, minimizing the risk of a data unavailability issue and giving the end user uninterrupted access.

Synology Releases the Moments, Drive, and Office Software Packages

Synology Inc. today announced the official release of three major packages, Drive, Office, and Moments. These packages run on the company's line of network-attached storage products and allow users to store, backup, and synchronize their photos, documents, and other files while keeping their data private and secure.

Moments is a completely new application that lets users back up photos from their computer or smartphone to their Synology NAS. Once photos are stored on the Synology NAS, Moments includes deep learning and automatic organization tools that identify people, places, and objects in photos and sorts them into albums accordingly. Since photo indexing is processed on the Synology NAS, users can be assured that all their photos and image data are stored safely and privately.

100,000 PUBG Cheaters to Be Banned Soon, Developer Promises

One thing that phenomenon games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds can boast of is an extraordinary number of active players at any given time (there's been in excess of 3 million active players at one point in time already). This is mostly due to the multiplayer, competitive nature of the game; and where there's competition, there's ways (and ways) of trying to trump it. In a blog post, PUBG developers have taken an open stance on the issue of cheaters, which continues to be one of the most harrowing plagues in PUBG. And the results are in: PUBG has detected "over 100,000 instances of the new pattern related to use of cheat and now we have confirmed that it was clearly an attempt of compromising our game." And for those, players, there's only one solution: "these players will be permanently banned in a single wave."

That more players will be banned than many games have players at any one point in their longevity is already impressive enough. However, PUBG's dedication to maintain its game in a fun, fair state has become a torch of sorts for the company: "We will continue to check the data logs like this even if it means the anti-cheat team has to filter through hundreds of billions of data logs manually. In addition, we are looking into adopting a new solution to detect and ban more cheaters and we have been continuously strengthening our security systems. We have also liaised with investigative authorities in some countries to take legal actions against developers and distributors of cheats. We are determined to take strong measures against them going forward." Et tu, cheaters? Ready to feel the banhammer of righteousness?

Italian Multinational Gas, Oil Company Fires Off HPC4 Supercomputer

Eni has launched its new HPC4 supercomputer, at its Green Data Center in Ferrera Erbognone, 60 km away from Milan. HPC4 quadruples the Company's computing power and makes it the world's most powerful industrial system. HPC4 has a peak performance of 18.6 Petaflops which, combined with the supercomputing system already in operation (HPC3), increases Eni's computational peak capacity to 22.4 Petaflops.

According to the latest official Top 500 supercomputers list published last November (the next list is due to be published in June 2018), Eni's HPC4 is the only non-governmental and non-institutional system ranking among the top ten most powerful systems in the world. Eni's Green Data Center has been designed as a single IT Infrastructure to host all of HPC's architecture and all the other Business applications.

Dark Souls: Remastered Will be Releasing on PC and Consoles on May 25

BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe invites players back to the treacherous land of Lordran with DARK SOULS: REMASTERED, available on 25th May, 2018 for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 computer entertainment system, Xbox One, and PC. Re-experience the genre-defining title that kicked off a worldwide gaming phenomena in stunning high-definition detail. DARK SOULS: REMASTERED marks the DARK SOULS series debut on a Nintendo platform, and for the first time ever can be played on the go with the unique capabilities of the Nintendo Switch console.

Developed by FromSoftware Inc., DARK SOULS: REMASTERED allows players to explore the twisted ancient land of Lordran in the first title of the critically acclaimed action role-playing series like never before. Experience the rich world of DARK SOULS in upscaled 4K resolution with 60FPS when playing on a PlayStation 4 Pro system, Xbox One X, and PC. Also, 1080p resolution with 30FPS is available when playing the game on Nintendo Switch with its TV mode. From their first timid steps to absolute mastery, players will build their characters by strategically adapting to daunting foes, exploring haunting locations, and amassing a large collection of weapons, armor and magic spells to utilize for a truly unique playstyle.

Dell Partners with Meta to Sell Meta 2 Augmented Reality Development Kit

Dell today announced it will be the first authorized reseller of the Meta 2 Augmented Reality Development Kit, equipping commercial companies with the tools needed to more easily innovate and adopt new AR technology applications that can advance their business. In partnership with Meta, Dell aims to make AR more accessible for business deployment, particularly in healthcare, manufacturing and construction, by providing tools for creating immersive experiences unique to the needs of those industries.

Dell is the only technology provider with an end to end ecosystem to consume, create and power VR and AR. The new offering with Meta stems from Dell's VR/AR Technology Partner Program, which brings together other innovators in VR and AR to test and collaborate on the best technology solutions for varying applications and experiences. This program allows Dell to help current and potential customers to better navigate the new and rapidly evolving VR/AR ecosystem, by working with partners to verify and certify the best software and hardware solutions for VR and AR applications - bringing standardization where it is needed most.

Age of Empires: Definitive Edition Finally Gets Launch Date

Microsoft's original plan was to launch Age of Empires: Definitive Edition on October 19 of last year to commemorate the franchise's 20th anniversary. Unfortunately, there was a setback in the game's development, and the launch date was pushed to early 2018. Age of Empires aficionados can finally rejoice. Adam Isgreen, Creative Director at Microsoft, announced yesterday that the highly-anticipated remake is making its way to Windows 10 PCs on February 20 for $19.99. Adam also took the opportunity to remind us that the Definitive Edition isn't your normal everyday remake. It actually comes with many huge improvements like:
  • Completely rebuilding assets for a modern 4K presentation
  • Letting you play online with Xbox LIVE (in addition to LAN play)
  • Re-recorded the original soundtrack with a new orchestral score
  • Adding campaign narration for every mission
  • Enhancing the campaign and scenario editor, which allows anyone to make original custom campaigns for the game, by letting players easily share them with other players around the world via AgeOfEmpires.com

LG Releases the 27UK650-W Monitor: 27" 4K, HDR, IPS Panel With AMD FreeSync

LG has released a new addition to their monitor lineup. The 27UK650-W is an interesting monitor, marrying a 27", 16:9 4K (3840 x 2160) IPS panel with HDR 10 support. The static contrast ratio of 1000:1 means the monitor has a dynamic contrast of 5,000,000:1 (not that that particular spec matters much). The maximum brightness, however, leaves much to be desired on a HDR-enabled monitor: the LG 27UK650-W only manage to deliver 350 cd/m² brightness, which is lower than even the lowest HDR standard AMD considers as being HDR capable (a minimum brightness of 400 cd/m² is required for that). The sRGB 99% Color Gamut coverage is good, however, if not that rare a feature nowadays.

The panel features a 5 ms response time, aided by the implementation of AMD's FreeSync tech, which should help gamers achieve more fluid frame-rates. Flicker free and blue-light reduction technologies are also on board. As for connectivity, 2x HDMI and 1x DisplayPort are available on the LG 27UK650-W. This LG monitor gets rid of the company's hallmark glossy black in the color department, and instead adopts a glossy white and gray finish. The LG 27UK650-W will be available from January 26th for an appealing $529.

Intel Coffee Lake-S Core i3-8300, i5-8500 Release Date, Lineup Pricing Outed

Intel's 8th gen, Coffee Lake-architecture CPUs will soon see new additions to the lineup, if leaked retail dates are correct. While Intel's six-core processors have earned themselves a respectable position in the CPU market - even if outgunned, core-wise, by AMD's Ryzen - the company is in dire need of shoring up its lower-pricing offerings so as to better compete with AMD's full available line-up, which currently offers users many more choices in both platform pricing, features, and processor specs. The date seems to be a make-up gift from the blue giant: it's expected these processors will hit retail on February 14th.

Intel Now Shipping Their RealSense D400 Depth Cameras

Today, Intel began shipping two new Intel RealSense D400 Depth Cameras from the next-generation Intel RealSense D400 product family: the D415 and D435, adding 3D capabilities to any prototype development or end user-ready device or machine.

Ideal for makers and educators as well as hardware prototyping and software development, the new depth cameras come in a ready-to-use, USB-powered form factor that pair with a D400 depth module, a turnkey optical depth solution, and the new Intel RealSense vision processor D4 for processing complex depth data in real time. Supported by the Intel RealSense SDK 2.0 - available for the first time as a cross-platform, open source SDK - the cameras can also be used both indoors and outdoors and in any lighting environment.

NZXT Updates Price of N7 Z370 Motherboard

Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers since the launch of the new N7 Z370 motherboard, today NZXT is announcing a change to the product and a price reduction from $299.99 to $249.99, both effective immediately.

"We were surprised-and humbled-by the PC gaming community's reaction to our new N7 motherboard. Our focus on simplifying the assembly process for users building their own gaming PC and our unconventional, minimalist approach to design that makes the motherboard disappear into the case has really resonated with people," says Johnny Hou, NZXT's founder, and CEO. "The feedback we received was, that while the thoughtful layout and beautiful all-metal cover are appealing, the price is a bit too high. We've taken steps to address that today with changes to the configuration and price."

SK Hynix Marks its 8Gb GDDR6 Memory Chips "Available" in Latest Catalog Update

SK Hynix, the other Korean DRAM and NAND flash giant than Samsung, updated its DRAM product catalog to reflect immediate availability of its 8-gigabit (1 GB) GDDR6 memory chips. The company is selling four SKUs, part "H56C8H24MJR-S2C" in 14 Gbps and 12 Gbps variants; and part "H56C8H24MJR-S0C" in 12 Gbps and 10 Gbps variants. The -S2C chips are more energy efficient, in achieving 14 Gbps at 1.35V and 12 Gbps at 1.25V; while the -S0C achieves 12 Gbps at 1.35V, and 10 Gbps at 1.25V. Unless NVIDIA decides that the GTX 1080-successor should feature 16 GB of memory, the company could be in the market for 8 Gb GDDR6 chips.

Meanwhile, rival Samsung announced that it began mass-production of 16 Gb (2 GB) GDDR6 memory chips, which should enable 16 GB of memory across a 256-bit memory interface, or 8 GB over a 128-bit interface. Samsung's latest chips not only have double the density as SK Hynix's, but also tick faster, at 18 Gbps, with a voltage of 1.35V. It is widely expected that GDDR6 will be the dominant memory standard for entry, mainstream, and even high-end graphics cards, which launch through 2018-19. NVIDIA is expected this year to launch its new "Volta" graphics architecture across various consumer-graphics market-segments.

AMD Releases Radeon Adrenalin 18.1.1 Beta Drivers

AMD late Thursday released Radeon Software Adrenalin 18.1.1 Beta drivers to the public. Bearing the same version numbering as the early-January 18.1.1 Alpha release, these drivers have a more detailed change-log, which includes the game crash fix for DirectX 9 games; freezing experienced in DRM-protected video playback, a stability issue affecting Windows 10 "Movies & TV" app, color corruption on Radeon Overlay when running multiple game and 3D applications, PUBG menu flickering in multi-GPU systems, and more. Grab the drivers from the link below.
DOWNLOAD: AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 18.1.1 Beta

The complete change-log follows.

Skyfall and Solace Could be the First Attacks Based on Meltdown and Spectre?

Out of the blue, a website popped up titled "Skyfall and Solace," which describes itself as two of the first attacks that exploit the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities (it doesn't detail which attack exploits what vulnerability). A whois lookup reveals that the person(s) behind this website may not be the same one(s) behind the Spectre and Meltdown website. The elephant in the room, of course, is that the two attacks are named after "James Bond" films "Skyfall" and "Quantum of Solace." The website's only piece of text ends with "Full details are still under embargo and will be published soon when chip manufacturers and Operating System vendors have prepared patches," and that one should "watch this space for more." We doubt the credibility of this threat. Anyone who has designed attacks that exploit known vulnerabilities won't enter embargoes with "chip manufacturers and operating system vendors" who have already developed mitigation to the vulnerabilities.

Western Digital Expands Mid-Range Enterprise Hard Drive Offerings

Known for enabling new levels of enterprise total cost of ownership (TCO) with HelioSeal helium hard drive technology and industry leading capacity drives, Western Digital Corporation is expanding its portfolio for enterprise customers with a new, mid-range series of 4 terabyte (TB), 6TB and 8TB air-based hard drives. The new products enable corporate data centers having data set sizes smaller than found in hyperscale environments to harness the power of data across a broad spectrum of Big Data applications such as analytics and distributed file systems.

Western Digital leads the high-capacity enterprise hard drive market for hyperscale and cloud environments with its 10TB, 12TB and 14TB drives, where the company's HelioSeal helium-sealing technology is required for the highest capacities and densities to deliver the lowest (or best) TCO. However, many applications have small data sets or benefit from optimal performance from implementation of a cluster of lower capacity, air-based hard drives. Many traditional data center systems still rely on moderate capacity points for RAID-based block-and-file systems.
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