Sunday, March 31, 2013

News Tom's Hardware US

News Tom's Hardware US

AMD Unveils Its Unified Gaming Strategy

Posted: 31 Mar 2013 09:00 PM PDT

AMD Unveils Its Unified Gaming StrategyAMD's presentation at this year's GDC covered the strategies main tenets and outlined how the company was "effectively positioned to drive the next revolution in gaming."

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Lenovo May Purchase NEC's Phone Business

Posted: 31 Mar 2013 05:00 PM PDT

Lenovo May Purchase NEC's Phone BusinessStruggling NEC Corp. is looking to sell its mobile phone unit after two years of straight losses.

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Three UK: 4G LTE Rollout Will Likely Be End of 2013

Posted: 31 Mar 2013 09:00 AM PDT

Three UK: 4G LTE Rollout Will Likely Be End of 2013Three says it plans to wait until the end of the year before rolling out 4G LTE connectivity.

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Nvidia Releases GeForce 314.22 WHQL Drivers

Posted: 31 Mar 2013 05:00 AM PDT

Nvidia Releases GeForce 314.22 WHQL DriversThe latest GeForce drives offer performance improvements in BioShock: Infinite, Sleeping Dogs, Sniper Elite V2 and others

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Thermaltake Launches the Urban S31 Case

Posted: 31 Mar 2013 02:00 AM PDT

Thermaltake Launches the Urban S31 CaseThe Urban S31 mid-tower is designed to offer a "simple and elegant aesthetic" and is intended for users who "look for everything but a flamboyant appearance."

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Microsoft VP: We're Not Giving Up on Windows RT

Posted: 30 Mar 2013 09:00 PM PDT

Microsoft VP: We're Not Giving Up on Windows RTWindows RT isn't dead despite recent "Blue" reports.

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Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

The men who make Bentleys perfect

Posted: 28 Mar 2013 08:18 AM PDT

The men who make Bentleys perfect Bentley's engineers are going all out to create a top-drawer limousine in the new Flying Spur

There's nothing like a Scandinavian winter for testing prototypes. Icy, empty roads and sub-zero temperatures make the perfect car development laboratory.

That's why Autocar is hitching a ride with a team of Bentley engineers as they fine-tune the new Flying Spur saloon in the final months before production starts in May.

We're riding in a completely undisguised engineering validation car, known as a VFF prototype, which nosed through the gates of Crewe minutes after the first pictures of the luxury four-door were made public a couple of weeks ago.

VFF prototypes are built about nine months from production, and represent the last but one stage before the 'Zero Series', final production-standard cars, ship to customers. So being a way off production, there's still plenty of engineering to perfect.

The Spur is about 80 per cent new and features a fresh upper body and structure aft of the A-pillars, including expensive-to-tool items like the door inners. Only the windscreen and A-pillar angles have been carried over, albeit restyled. And there's a new interior, including front seats borrowed from the Mulsanne.

It may seem surprising that testing continues apace, just three months before the first customer cars are delivered. But the bulk of the Spur's vital functions are computer-controlled and the code can be fine-tuned late in the production cycle.

"We're able to hammer out the details and tune what we want pretty much weeks up to production," says project director Ken Scott. A Bentley veteran of 27 years, Scott started as a Crewe apprentice. He's leading today's activities and a team of four engineers and half a dozen back-up staff with infectious enthusiasm.

The team's combined engineering experience adds up to 102 years. Scott has flown into Stockholm to join his team, who have been on tour with the 616bhp, twin-turbo W12-powered prototype. They've been pounding autobahns on high-speed testing, before heading north through Denmark to Sweden for a stint of cold-weather evaluation.

Nor will the pace slacken. The next step takes DK62 FSU back to Munich for a top-level management appraisal before it is air freighted to the US. As you read this, the Spur should be on rural roads in California.

Our time, however, will involve a chilly, 400-mile dash westwards to Oslo in neighbouring Norway, with every engineering component, fit-and-finish item and driveability feature on watch. Scott takes the wheel for our first stint out of Stockholm, and the watching brief for the first 60 miles or so is the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, whose calibration in cold weather is still to be finalised.

This much was evident on the drive north from Germany, the prototype misting the windscreen as the temperature plummeted. So the team has downloaded computer code from a shoebox-sized data logger spliced into the wiring loom and bolted into the boot. "We can grab all the data we need from the car's own system. We don't need extra instrumentation at this stage," says Nick Burns, Scott's second in command and the HVAC expert on this test.

Control code for the air-con has been emailed to Crewe and a revised version sent back overnight and installed for evaluation today. The problem still isn't fixed, though, and the driver's side of the windscreen is continually fogging up. Burns reckons he knows what the problem is: the blower isn't shifting enough warm air to the humidity sensor sited in the base of the rear-view mirror. As a result, the dryer in the air-con is pumping air with too much moisture, which is condensing on the inside of the screen. Another fresh batch of code will be reloaded overnight in a bid to fix it.

Fixing the air-con is a relatively routine task, but it has to be done to satisfy the demands of customers, particularly in China. The whole Flying Spur programme has been centred around Chinese market needs. It's the single biggest market for the Spur and, over the model's life, 60 per cent of production will head there.

Early in the project, in spring 2011, Bentley researched the Spur with dealers in Beijing, who pinpointed three major areas for improvement: more cabin refinement, less exhaust noise and new infotainment for the rear-seat passengers. Bentley then broke new ground, returning to Beijing in autumn 2011 with an early Spur engineering prototype featuring improvements to all three.

"They were speechless," says Scott, "No one had done that before – let them influence the car and then comment on progress in a real prototype."

Inside the cabin, the hush is noticeable, especially the subdued exhaust warble. Bentley's internal benchmark quantifies cabin noise as the ease with which conversation can flow between front and rear occupants. "We've got an eight per cent improvement," says Scott.

Calming the cabin has centred on cutting wind noise with acoustic glass, employed in a Bentley windscreen for the first time. Engine noise has been subdued by muffling the induction and exhaust notes. During our cold-weather test, the main cabin noise comes from the road because of the chunky winter rubber fitted. "Summer tyres are much quieter," says Scott.

There is also unwanted wind noise from the driver's A-pillar, which will be fixed as build standards improve closer to production. "We've designed new, better sealing. This early build is not quite sitting right in the door shut, but it'll be ready for production," says Scott.

European and US demands for the Spur have focused on improving high-speed stability and on-centre steering feel for the driver, which backs up the more muscular styling.

The new, broader-shouldered look pushes the body out by an extra inch or so and the tracks have been widened by 20mm at the front and 35mm at the rear. Longer front stub axles demanded retuned springs and dampers, which opened up the possibility of refocusing the Spur as a 'limousine' with a softer chassis tune in place of its predecessor's firmer 'four-door Continental' theme.

"Now the front air springs are 10 per cent softer and the rears 13 per cent," says chassis manager Andrew Unsworth, "but we've adjusted the damping to be a little stiffer to compensate."

To absorb the initial impact on bumps, Bentley has also slackened off the bushings; some are as much as 38 per cent softer. But the chassis is not all about comfort. The Spur's steering is more purposeful and heavier weighted.

"We've completely retuned the ZF steering rack with a new boost curve aimed at improving feel around the straight-ahead," says Unsworth. He's confident that the final set-up fits the brief of a more stable cruise, yet greater ride comfort.

My guess is that the ride will prove more cosseting and quieter than before on UK roads, but body control might suffer a little. On balance, that probably makes sense for the target audience, although it seems to weaken the link between the Spur and Bentley's sporting heritage.

But as Scott shrewdly identifies: "Once you have the fundamentals right, it's easier to make a stiffer and sportier chassis for markets if they want it, rather than the other way around."

As our test route heads towards the Norwegian border and our final destination of Oslo, there's some more give and take and stop-start driving, where driveline refinement is not quite as smooth as it should be. Revised computer code will be loaded into the ECU that controls the ZF eight-speed gearbox to better slur some of the downchanges and refine the drivetrain.

This is also the perfect opportunity to slot into the comfortable rear seats and get to grips with the new rear-seat entertainment package developed to cement the Spur into its new role as a luxury limo. Bentley is the first company in the Volkswagen Group to use a new Bury touchscreen tablet that controls the headrest-mounted infotainment screens.

The palm-sized RST – rear-seat tablet – works effectively and also allows the rear passenger to control the satellite navigation, a useful feature for passengers to set the destination for the chauffeur up front, and adjust the air-con. It even relays the vehicle's speed to the rear cabin.

Whether that was on the wish list of the all-important Chinese customer, I don't know. But it is just one of hundreds of detailed revisions to the new Spur that suggest Bentley's new saloon will be genuinely much improved.

We'll find out for sure in May, when the first test cars become available.

Bentley Flying Spur

Price £141,000 (est); 0-62mph 4.6sec; Top speed 200mph; MPG 19.2mpg (combined, est); CO2 434g/km (est); Weight: 2475kg; Engine W12, 5998cc, twin-turbo, petrol; Engine layout Front, longitudinal, 4WD; Power 616bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 590lb ft at 2000rpm; Power to weight 248bhp per tonne; Specific output 102bhp per litre; Gearbox 8-spd auto; Length 5295mm; Width 2208mm; Height 1488mm; Wheelbase 3065mm; Fuel tank 90 litres; Range 378 miles (est); Boot 475 litres; Front suspension Double wishbones, air springs, anti-roll bar; Rear suspension Multi-link, air springs, anti-roll bar; Brakes 405mm ventilated discs (f), 335mm ventilated discs (r); Wheels 9.5Jx19in; Tyres 275/45 ZR19;

Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi 3dr first drive review

Posted: 28 Mar 2013 06:52 AM PDT

Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi 3dr first drive review Hyundai ups the style on its i30 without compromising practicality This new three-door is the third and last body style we're likely to see in Hyundai's second-generation i30 range. Besides the deletion of the rear doors, the three-door gets a more rakish profile than the five-door (thanks to its upswept beltline) and cosmetic tweaks that include revised bumpers, foglamps and grille. Hyundai's efforts haven't been wasted; the additional flair makes it more interesting than the five-door. 

AnandTech Article Channel

AnandTech Article Channel

A Comment on PC Gaming Battery Life

Posted: 30 Mar 2013 05:35 AM PDT

During the process of writing the Razer Edge review, I spent a lot of my time gaming on battery. The Edge is marketed as being a mobile PC gaming console, and is pretty well suited in that role with one caveat - battery life. Razer quotes 1-2 hours of gaming battery life on the internal 41.44Wh battery, with those figures doubling when the extended battery is inserted in the gamepad controller. The range makes sense; playing Angry Birds would be understandably less strenuous than, say, Skyrim or Crysis. 

In real-world testing that holds up - I saw just over two hours of Dirt 3 playing time, and around 3.5 hours when playing the decade-old Quake III: Arena. But something I missed was that Jarred had actually developed and done some repeatable, instrumented gaming battery life testing in his preview of the ASUS N56VM, one of the first systems we tested with the mobile Ivy Bridge platform. I can’t honestly remember why we didn’t put more systems through this test, but such is life. 

The test itself is pretty simple: looping the four 3DMark06 gaming tests at 1366x768 in the balanced power profile and the display set to 100nits, with the GPU specifically set in the balanced performance setting (usually by default on battery it’s set to maximum battery saving except in the High Performance profile). Jarred ran the test on the N56VM twice, once with the HD 4000 and once with the Fermi-based 40nm GT 630M that our international-spec N56VM test unit had, as well as the Sandy Bridge-based ASUS K53E (i5-2520M and HD3000) and the Compal-built AMD Llano reference platform that we looked at way back in June 2011. 

Naturally, my first inclination was to run it on my Edge evaluation unit - so I did. Twice, in fact, both with and without the extended battery. I also had a Sony VAIO T13 ultrabook on hand, a pretty run of the mill entry-level ultrabook from summer 2012, so I ran that too. The spec rundown: i5-3317U, HD 4000, 4GB of memory, 500GB 5400RPM hard drive, 32GB SSD cache, 45Wh battery, a mostly terrible 1366x768 13.3” TN display, and Windows 7. Advance apologies for not having a more recent AMD-based system in this comparison, ideally I’d have a Trinity system to compare against but I’m on the road and had to go with what I had near me. 

Battery Life - Gaming

Battery Life - Gaming Efficiency

The Edge checks in at 1:12 on the internal 41.44Wh battery and 2:20 with the extended battery (82.88Wh combined capacity), roughly where I expected given the real-world testing done previously. That works out to efficiency in the 1.75-1.8 minutes per watt-hour range. The ultrabook platform is a good deal more efficient than the Edge, which makes sense given the power consumption delta between GT 640M LE and HD 4000, but at the cost of substantially reduced performance. The Edge would likely hit the close to the 2.5 minutes per watt hour number as the ultrabook if the discrete graphics were disabled and the test run on the HD 4000.

The point of comparison that I'm really interested in is actually the AMD platform. I wish I had a Trinity system nearby to run this on, but Llano does pretty well from an efficiency standpoint, and a system based around the more powerful Trinity could be a very viable alternative.  It's a platform that seems pretty well suited to the demands of mobile gaming, with a good balance between power consumption and graphics performance. I know that Razer has pretty close ties with both Intel and especially Nvidia, so I never expected them to go the Trinity route, but it'd be interesting to see a different company explore it.

Update: Jarred also ran the same test on the AMD Trinity prototype. Turns out Trinity actually does worse in this test than Llano, likely thanks to the higher performance GPU. That of course was a prototype system, so performance and battery life with a retail Trinity platform might prove to be better.

Two and a half hours of real gaming isn't great, but to be honest, considering the power draw and sheer amount of battery capacity on board with the extended battery, I’m not sure that anything else can top that number right now. There just isn't another system that can hit 1.8 minutes per watt-hour while gaming with a battery larger than 80Wh. The cut-down version of HD 4000 in the ultrabook platform is more power efficient, but the performance tradeoffs are simply too significant to consider it adequate for gaming unless the titles you are playing are quite old. And even then, there aren't any ultrabooks with more battery capacity than the Edge offers. 

What needs to be kept in mind here is that gaming essentially represents the worst-case real world usage scenario for battery life. Doesn’t matter what type of device, you’ll blow through the battery pretty quickly if you’re gaming on it, even if it’s just Fruit Ninja. My Galaxy Nexus has a Gameboy emulator runtime of roughly 4.5 hours, which is pretty awful considering that Pokemon Silver is one of the least graphically-intensive games out there. Our GLBenchmark-based 3D battery life test for phones and tablets sheds some light on just how quickly it can drain - less than 6 hours for both generations of Retina iPad, a bit under 4 hours for the Nexus 7, 3 hours and 9 minutes for the iPhone 5, just over two hours for both versions of HTC One X (Tegra 3 and Snapdragon). For a quick comparison versus a dedicated handheld gaming device, Sony quotes the PS Vita gaming battery life in the 3-5 hour range, and real world reports commonly place it around 3.5-4 hours. 

So while two hours may seem short, for a device running full PC games on real PC hardware at respectable (read: playable) framerates, that’s actually about as good as it gets in today’s world. That should improve going forward - Haswell’s idle power improvements won’t have an impact, but as GPUs become more efficient, attaining this level of performance will require less power. But as GPU performance becomes “cheaper” from a power envelope standpoint, an increase in display resolution starts to make sense, and then we arrive back at the battery life conversation. I expect a lot of the current tablet PC issues to be fixed by Haswell (idle power consumption, Thunderbolt, etc), but the shrink to 14nm in Broadwell and Skylake will probably be what gets us the best of both worlds from a performance and power draw perspective. For now, it’s hard to knock the Edge for battery life - it simply faces limitations from power and thermal standpoints that apply to every PC on the market right now, and makes some pretty logical compromises based on the technology available. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

News Tom's Hardware US

News Tom's Hardware US

Microsoft May Merge Windows RT into Windows Blue

Posted: 30 Mar 2013 01:00 PM PDT

Microsoft May Merge Windows RT into Windows BlueIt's no surprise that Windows RT will be rolled into the "Blue" release schedule.

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GAME UK Customers Name Nintendo Wii Best Console Ever

Posted: 30 Mar 2013 09:00 AM PDT

GAME UK Customers Name Nintendo Wii Best Console EverThe Wii wins.

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Razer Edge Gaming Tablet Will Ship with Steam

Posted: 30 Mar 2013 02:00 AM PDT

Razer Edge Gaming Tablet Will Ship with SteamRazer is saving you the trouble of downloading and installing Steam on the Razer Edge gaming tablet.

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A Round Up of Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost's Releases

Posted: 30 Mar 2013 12:30 AM PDT

A Round Up of Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost's ReleasesThe GeForce GTX 650 Ti is currently available in a variety of configurations from a wide range of manufacturers.

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OCZ Expands Far Cry 3 Vector SSD Offer

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 11:00 PM PDT

OCZ Expands Far Cry 3 Vector SSD OfferOCZ's Far Cry 3 offer now includes the 128GB Vector SSD.

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Deals March 29: 128GB Patriot Flash Drive $70

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 10:08 PM PDT

Deals March 29: 128GB Patriot Flash Drive $70Get storage in your pocket for a deal..

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A Round Up of the AMD Radeon HD 7790 Variants

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 09:00 PM PDT

A Round Up of the AMD Radeon HD 7790 VariantsFollowing its release last week, the AMD Radeon HD7790 graphics card is available from a wide variety of manufacturers with a range of coolers and clock speeds.

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Diamond Announces Low-Profile HD 7750 With Eyefinity

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 08:00 PM PDT

Diamond Announces Low-Profile HD 7750 With EyefinityDiamond Multimedia is shipping its new low profile HD 7750, which it calls the BV750.

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Crash.Net Formula One Newsfeed

Crash.Net Formula One Newsfeed


Posted: 30 Mar 2013 02:05 AM PDT

A look back in pictures at last weekend's 2013 F1 Malaysian GP, where Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel controversially took the spoils...

Hamilton: 'No fun' with these tyres

Posted: 30 Mar 2013 02:00 AM PDT

Mercedes ace Lewis Hamilton has joined a chorus of drivers in criticising Pirelli's 2013 F1 tyres

Caterham: We won't deviate from 'the plan'

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 10:41 AM PDT

Caterham team principal Cyril Abiteboul has said the squad has no plans to change its tactics for 2013, even though it now appears to have dropped behind fellow backmarkers, Marussia

Vettel named Infiniti director of performance

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 10:16 AM PDT

Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel was confirmed as Infiniti's director of performance this week at the New York International Auto Show

Are you ready for the 'main' Fantasy F1 action?

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 08:59 AM PDT

You've still got time to show your Fantasy F1 skills with the Main Championship not starting until the Chinese Grand Prix in a few weeks time - so don't miss out!

Villeneuve: Vettel's actions deliberate and stupid

Posted: 29 Mar 2013 04:34 AM PDT

Jacques Villeneuve has hit out at Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel and has labelled his actions in the Malaysian Grand Prix last weekend as 'stupid'