Alex Torex Blog

SciTech oriented blog

Here’s the first desktop display based on quantum dots

Here’s the first desktop display based on quantum dots – The Tech Report

Philips claims to have the world’s first desktop monitor based on quantum dot technology. The display was created in cooperation with QD Vision, an MIT spin-off that’s been working on quantum dots for years. It takes advantage of the technology’s purer colors to deliver an impressive 99% of the Adobe RGB spectrum.

June 2, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Killer slays wires with its Wireless-AC 1535 NIC

Killer slays wires with its Wireless-AC 1535 NIC – The Tech Report

Killer Networking is taking to the airwaves. Its new wireless adapter, the Killer Wireless-AC 1535, brings the company’s suite of gaming-focused features to those who want to cut the cord while fragging noobs. Those features include packet prioritization, multiple interface management, and latency reduction tech.

Killer’s smorgasbord of gaming-oriented goodies aside, the Wireless-AC 1535 seems like a solid wireless card. It features dual amplifiers for better performance at long distances from an access point, plus support for 802.11ac features like multi-user MIMO for more efficient use of available bandwidth. This NIC can also share its spatial location for transmit beamforming, which could improve performance with a compatible access point.

The Wireless-AC 1535 will be available next month in three MSI products: the X99 Godlike Gaming motherboard, and the GT72 and GT80 gaming notebooks.

June 2, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

SanDisk Announces 2TB USB 3.1 External SSD

SanDisk Announces 2TB USB 3.1 External SSD

SanDisk is announcing the availability of a host of external flash drives at Computex 2015. Two of them are being marketed as external portable SSDs with a Type-C interface, while the other two are standard flash drives.

The SanDisk Extreme 900 Portable SSD is the obvious star of the lineup. It comes in three capacities, 480 GB ($400), 960 GB ($600) and 1.92 TB ($1000). The SSD is housed inside a compact aluminum casing. All of them carry three year warranties. The family comes with a maximum performance rating of 850 MBps and carries a USB 3.1 interface. Both Type-A and Type-C cables are supplied with the unit.

Aspects of interest include whether the internal flash is organized in a RAID-0 fashion with SATA interfaces, or whether it is a PCIe based unit behind a USB 3.1 controller. Kristian is at Computex and will likely be having some hands-on time with the device to gather the answers

The SanDisk Extreme 500 Portable SSD is available in 120 GB ($100), 240 GB ($150) and 480 GB ($240) capacities and claims maximum performance of 415 MBps via a USB 3.0 interface. Both Portable SSDs are designed for rugged environments and feature SanDisk SecureAccess software with 128-bit AES encryption.

The Ultra Fit 128 GB and Ultra 256 GB are standard USB 3.0 thumb drives. The Ultra Fit is more like the Mushkin Atom in size, but has double the capacity. The unit is priced at $120. The maximum performance is of the order of 130 MBps. The Ultra Fit 256 GB is rated for 100 MBps and is priced at $200.

June 1, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Leak claims Skylake Xeons have up to 28 cores, new memory architecture

Leak claims Skylake Xeons have up to 28 cores, new memory architecture – The Tech Report

The new Xeons will purportedly be part of a Purley platform that’s billed as the “biggest platform advancement since Nehalem.” According to the slides, they will have up to 28 cores with Hyper-Threading support—an increase from the 22-24 cores expected in comparable Xeons based on Broadwell. They’ll also feature new AVX-512 instructions. Thermal envelopes will reportedly span 45-165W.

On the memory front, the leak shows six channels of DDR4. One of the slides also mentions an “all new memory architecture” that possibly refers to the NVDIMM standard announced yesterday. NVDIMMs allow non-volatile storage to intermingle with system memory using the same slots, either as a backup for volatile DRAM or as SSD-like storage.

If EXPreview’s information is accurate, Skylake Xeons will have up to 48 PCIe Gen3 lanes built in. Intel’s Omni-Path Fabric is apparently part of the platform, along with quad 10-Gigabit Ethernet controllers. One of the slides also lists “optional integrated accelerators” that can assist with encryption, compression, media transcoding, and potentially other tasks.

May 27, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

JEDEC standardizes NVDIMM for RAM-like flash storage

JEDEC standardizes NVDIMM for RAM-like flash storage – The Tech Report

We’re all used to the idea of an SSD plugging into a SATA port or M.2 slot by now, but the notion of non-volatile storage that can slide into a RAM slot is still a little weird. We’ve seen one such product from SanDisk, and there may soon be many more. JEDEC has announced a new standard for RAM-like hybrid memory modules called non-volatile DIMMs, or NVDIMMs. These devices will plug into DDR4 slots alongside regular DDR4 DIMMs.

Unlike a traditional DRAM module, an NVDIMM can retain data when it’s powered off. JEDEC is initially standardizing two types: the NVDIMM-N, which combines DRAM and flash chips on one module to preserve data through a power outage or other interruption; and the NVDIMM-F, which is an entirely flash-based module that behaves like an SSD.

Multiple manufacturers are producing NVDIMMs now, with official product announcements set to arrive in “the coming months.”

May 26, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

An Introduction to HBM – High Bandwidth Memory

An Introduction to HBM – High Bandwidth Memory – Stacked Memory and The Interposer

The sole idea behind HBM is stacking memory, multiple layers of DRAM components are integrated vertically on the package alongside the GPU/APU/SoC. Stacked memory offers the advantage of several times greater bandwidth, it increases capacity, and has a significant effect on energy efficiency compared to GDDR5 that resides off-package (far away from the GPU).

May 21, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Samsung SM951 M.2 NVME SSD Review (256GB)

Samsung SM951 M.2 NVME SSD Review (256GB) | The SSD Review

The SM951 M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD is tiny, fast, and energy efficient. For its great performance we award it our Gold Seal! If you have a high-end system and want to get the most out of it, the SM951 is a great choice whether it be the AHCI or NVMe variant tested today.


May 21, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

IBM new chip helps transfer a Blu-ray movie in two seconds

IBM new chip helps transfer a Blu-ray movie in two seconds | TechRadar

IBM researchers have managed to produce a computer chip – or as the boffins called it, a fully integrated wavelength multiplexed silicon photonics chip – that can transmit up to 100Gbps, speedy enough to transfer 25GB or the equivalent of a Blu-ray movie in two seconds.

The chip integrates the necessary components (both electrical and optical) to convert data into light and vice versa, using four different colours of lights and a technology called multiplexing.

Silicon Photonics has been hailed as the long term replacement for copper but that has been the case for several decades already (the now defunct Byte magazine had it as its lead story 22 years ago).

It is only now that technology has matured enough to make it commercially viable. Also, because photons (in light) don’t suffer from the same issues as electrons (in copper), silicon photonics is likely to give rise to more modular, cheaper, more environmentally-friendly and faster data centres.

It is the ferocious appetite for data that’s driving demand for photonics-based technology. “Making silicon photonics technology ready for widespread commercial use will help the semiconductor industry keep pace with ever-growing demands in computing power driven by Big Data and cloud services,” added Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director of IBM Research.

May 21, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

AMD confirms 4GB limit for first HBM graphics card

AMD confirms 4GB limit for first HBM graphics card | Ars Technica UK

AMD’s just taken the wraps off its shiny new high bandwidth memory (HBM) technology, and as rumoured, the company is limited to a total of 4GB for its first-generation HBM product. While AMD has yet to reveal specifics of what that product might be, it did tell us that it’ll be a GPU, it’ll be priced towards the higher end of the spectrum, and that you’ll be able to walk into a store and buy one within “the next couple of months.” The rumour mill strongly suggests that this first HBM part will be the R9 390X.

The reason for the 4GB restriction for the company’s upcoming GPU is due to the first-generation HBM design. HBM uses stacked memory chips along with a silicon interposer and through-silicon-vias (an interconnect that runs through the chip from top to bottom) in order to move the DRAM closer to the GPU. This shortens the traces, allowing for increased bandwidth and lower power consumption. Currently, those chips can only be stacked four dies high. With each die limited to 2Gbit, each stack is one gigabyte. AMD’s current design only allows for four stacks around the GPU, limiting the system to four gigabytes.

May 21, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

AMD’s high-bandwidth memory explained

AMD’s high-bandwidth memory explained – The Tech Report – Page 1

For years now, AMD has taken on the responsibility of defining new types of memory to be used in graphics cards, standards that have eventually come to be used by the entire industry. Typically, being first out of the gate with a new graphics-oriented memory technology has given AMD a competitive advantage in that first generation of products. For instance, the introduction of GDDR5 allowed the Radeon HD 4870 to capture the performance crown back in the day.

Trouble is, GDDR5 is still the standard memory type for graphics processors to this day, seven years after the 4870’s introduction. Graphics memory has gotten faster over time, of course, but it hasn’t fundamentally changed for a long while.

GDDR5’s reign is about to end, however, thanks to a new type of memory known by the ridiculously generic name of high-bandwidth memory (HBM).  Although we’ve been waiting quite a while for a change, HBM looks a be a fairly monumental shift as these things go, thanks to a combination of new fabrication methods and smart engineering. The first deployment of HBM is likely to be alongside Fiji, AMD’s upcoming high-end GPU, expected to be called the Radeon R9 390X.

Fiji is a fitting companion for HBM since a team of engineers at AMD has once again helped lead the charge in its development. In fact, that team has been led by one of the very same engineers responsible for past GDDR standards, Joe Macri. I recently had the chance to speak with Macri, and he explained in some detail the motivations and choices that led to the development of HBM.  Along the way, he revealed quite a bit of information about what we can likely expect from Fiji’s memory subsystem. I think it’s safe to say the new Radeon will have the highest memory bandwidth of any single-GPU graphics card on the market—and not by a little bit. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.

May 20, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Acer XB270HU 27-in 1440P 144Hz IPS G-Sync Monitor Review

Acer XB270HU 27-in 1440P 144Hz IPS G-Sync Monitor Review | Gaming Impressions, Pricing, and Final Thoughts

The Acer XB270HU was long overdue in terms of an IPS G-Sync display – something many gamers have been waiting for since G-Sync was announced. While the longer pixel response time precludes 3D Vision support, this panel is still capable of an impressive 144Hz maximum refresh rate at full 1440P resolution. There were no surprises in our testing, and this new display corrected many of the gripes we had with the ASUS ROG Swift. I was so impressed with this display that I bought one for myself. My only real gripe is that such a great piece of glass is packaged in that easily marred glossy bezel and stand.

May 16, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

IBM’s silicon photonics technology aims to speed up cloud and Big Data applications

IBM’s silicon photonics technology aims to speed up cloud and Big Data applications | KurzweilAI

IBM announced today (May 12) what is says in the first fully integrated silicon chip to use high-speed pulses of light instead of slow electrical signals over wires. That means the chip will be able to move data at rapid speeds and longer distances in future computing systems.

The silicon photonics chip is wavelength-multiplexed, meaning it can transmit multiple wavelengths of light. IBM says they will soon be able to start manufacturing 100 Gb/s optical transceivers. This will allow datacenters to offer greater data rates and bandwidth for cloud computing and Big Data applications.

“Just as fiber optics revolutionized the telecommunications industry by speeding up the flow of data … this technology is designed to make future computing systems faster and more energy efficient,” said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director of IBM Research.

Silicon photonics uses tiny optical components to send light pulses to transfer large volumes of data at very high speed between computer chips in servers, large datacenters, and supercomputers, overcoming the limitations of congested data traffic and high-cost traditional interconnects. The system integrates different optical components side-by-side with electrical circuits on a single silicon chip using sub-100nm semiconductor technology.

Silicon photonics will transform future datacenters

One important use of the technology will be in next-generation datacenters. It promises to allow computer hardware components, whether a few centimeters or a few kilometers apart, to seamlessly and efficiently communicate with each other at high speeds using optical interconnects. This disaggregated and flexible design of datacenters will help reduce the cost of space and energy, while increasing performance and analysis capabilities for users ranging from social media companies to financial services to universities, IBM suggests.

Most of the optical interconnect solutions employed within datacenters as of today are based upon vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) technology, bandwidth-distance limitations, IBM says.

IBM engineers in New York and Zurich, Switzerland and IBM Systems Unit have demonstrated a reference design targeting datacenter interconnects with a range up to two kilometers. This chip demonstrates transmission and reception of high-speed data using four laser “colors,” each operating as an independent 25 Gb/s optical channel. Within a full transceiver design, these four channels can be wavelength multiplexed on-chip to provide 100 Gb/s aggregate bandwidth over a duplex single-mode fiber, thus minimizing the cost of the installed fiber plant within the datacenter.

May 16, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

IBM achieves silicon photonics milestone

IBM achieves silicon photonics milestone – The Tech Report

Today, a lot of the communication that takes place on chips and between computers is accomplished by way of electrical signals carried by metal wires. If silicon photonics technology takes off, future chips might talk to each other with light carried over optical fibers. IBM recently announced that it’s successfully designed and tested a “fully integrated wavelength multiplexed silicon photonics chip” for the first time.

May 15, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Fixstars crams 6TB into a 2.5″ SSD

Fixstars crams 6TB into a 2.5″ SSD – The Tech Report

It’s common to see six-terabyte capacities in the world of mechanical hard drives, but solid-state storage usually tops out at far lower figures. Fixstars’ latest SSD, the SSD-6000M, is different. This 2.5″ drive packs 6TB of flash into an case that’s only 9.5-mm thick. Fixstars claims this is the world’s highest-capacity 2.5″ SSD, and it looks like that’s indeed the case for now.

May 7, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

AMD Arctic Islands GPU family to be based on 14nm FinFET process

AMD Arctic Islands GPU family to be based on 14nm FinFET process

According to a new report from China, AMD is likely to skip 20nm for its GPUs as it will reportedly head straight to 14nm FinFET process for its Arctic Islands GPU family that is set to debut next year.

The report from Chinese website EXP Review claims ‘Greenland’ will be the first GPU to be part of the Arctic Islands family. The Arctic Islands GPU family is also expected to use second generation High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) with improved performance and greater power efficiency. HBM2 is said to offer 57% higher memory bandwidth and 48% lower power consumption compared to GDDR5.

April 25, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Samsung spills details on flexible AMOLED display

Samsung spills details on flexible AMOLED display – The Tech Report

Instead of arranging display elements on rigid glass, Samsung deposits them on a polyimide plastic substrate. At under a millimeter thick, this substrate is purportedly half the thickness of the material used in conventional mobile displays. Samsung claims the resulting AMOLED is “potentially more bendable than a human hair,” though it doesn’t detail the limits of the bending radius or how well the display holds up to repeated bending stress.

The display spreads 1440×2560 pixels over a 5.1″ diagonal, producing a razor-sharp pixel density of 577 PPI. Samsung claims “almost 100%” coverage of the Adobe RGB spectrum, a wider gamut than the sRGB color space. More impressively, perhaps, the firm pegs the display’s response time at only 0.01 milliseconds. That’s much faster than the 8-ms response of typical mobile LCDs, Samsung says, and it puts even the best desktop monitors to shame.

April 24, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

CyberPowerPC’s Trinity gaming PC looks straight outta science fiction

CyberPowerPC’s Trinity gaming PC looks straight outta science fiction – The Tech Report

Boutique builders have experimented with different chassis designs over the years, but CyberPowerPC’s Trinity series might be the most radical departure yet. The new line of gaming machines uses a triple-chamber frame that wouldn’t look out of place on the set of a sci-fi series.

April 22, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

WiFO Expands Wi-Fi Bandwidth Many Times Over

WiFO Expands Wi-Fi Bandwidth Many Times Over | Ubergizmo

WiFO will incorporate infrared LEDs so that it can provide a nice boost to the available Wi-Fi bandwidth, and this is made possible through the use of hybrid connectivity, where both radio frequency (RF) and optical data links from the same source. Why is it called WiFO? Well, since it happens to be a hybrid of Wi-Fi and Free-space Optic, as this prototype system will take advantage of improvements in LED technology so that it opens the door for high-frequency modulation of infrared light in wireless transmission, making it part of an optical Gigabit wireless LAN.

April 21, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Samsung will fab Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820

Report: Samsung will fab Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 – The Tech Report

Add another report to the growing list suggesting that Samsung is picking up chip customers from rival foundry TSMC. Re/code’s sources claim Qualcomm’s next-gen Snapdragon 820 SoC will be fabbed by Samsung. A chip like that would typically be produced by TSMC, the site says, but Qualcomm reportedly wants to move to Samsung’s 14-nm tech. The story adds that Qualcomm hopes the change will help the Snapdragon 820 land in Samsung’s next Galaxy S handset.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about Qualcomm and Samsung hooking up for chip fabrication. A ZDNet report from October named the firm as an “expected” client for Samsung’s 14-nm process. Qualcomm isn’t the only one getting in on the action, either. The ZDNet story mentioned Apple and AMD as customers for the same process. A subsequent Nvidia SEC filing listed Samsung as a chip manufacturer for that company, as well.

Adding to the intrigue, TSMC is suing a former employee for allegedly leaking secrets to Samsung. The leak started with 28-nm tech, according to TSMC, and it may have aided Samsung’s development of the 14-nm process everyone seems to be signing on to use.

April 21, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

New 840 EVO fix adds ”periodic refresh” to firmware

New 840 EVO fix adds ”periodic refresh” to firmware – The Tech Report

Last year, some Samsung 840 EVO SSDs started exhibiting slower read speeds with old data. The problem was patched in October, but the fix didn’t stick, with slowdowns returning months later. Samsung pledged to release another fix in March, and now, that update is scheduled for “later this month.”

Since the EVO’s slowdowns manifest over time, we won’t be able to verify the effectiveness of the new patch right away. However, we can share some details about what the incoming fix entails. Here’s what Samsung told us when we asked for specifics about how the new firmware addresses the cell voltage drift that seems largely responsible for the problem:

• Samsung revised the firmware algorithm to maintain consistency in performance for old data under exceptional circumstances. Therefore, read performance was restored without the need for Magician. This algorithm is based on a periodic refresh feature that can maintain the read performance of this older data. The algorithm does not affect normal user scenarios (i.e. occasional PC performance degradation due to background work of SSD) or the lifespan of an SSD and can actively maintain its performance without the help of Magician. However, this algorithm does not operate when the power is off.

• The read performance has been improved by the revised firmware algorithm. If performance recovery is slow in instances where the SSD did not have enough run-time for the firmware algorithm to reach normal performance levels, or similarly, had been powered off for an extended amount of time, the performance can be recovered by using the Advanced Performance Optimization feature in Magician 4.6. This is a supplementary feature to maintain normal performance for a few exceptional circumstances.

• Users can upgrade to the new firmware through Magician 4.6, without using the performance restoration tool.

Interesting. When users first encountered slowdowns with the EVO, they found that rewriting the old data brought reads back up to speed. It sounds like the new firmware’s “periodic refresh feature” does something similar.

The refresh routine appears to run in the background, when the drive is idle, so it shouldn’t affect performance in normal scenarios. Refreshing old data may consume some of the NAND’s limited endurance, though. We’ve asked Samsung to clarify how frequently data needs to be refreshed and how this affects write amplification.

Since old data can only be refreshed while the drive is on, those who leave the EVO unpowered for extended periods will have to rely on the Magician software’s optimization mechanism if they want to restore full performance quickly. It’s unclear how long the EVO will take to optimize itself after extended downtime.

April 14, 2015 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment


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