Posts tagged "Hertz"

What should I buy this xmas? XBOX1, PS4 or WIU ?

Hardware Feature Comparison

Feature PlayStation 4 Xbox One Wii U
Price $399.99 [1] $499.99 [2] $349.99 / 299.99
Release Date US: 11.15.2013 EU: 11.29.2013 [3] 11.22.2013 [4] 11.18.2012
Optical Drive Blu-ray/DVD [5] Blu-ray/DVD [6] 25GB Optical Disc (Proprietary)
Game DVR Yes, PS+ subscription not required [7] Yes, with subscription to Xbox Live Gold [8] No
RAM 8GB GDDR5 [9] 8GB DDR3 [10] 2GB DDR3 [11]
CPU Single-chip x86 AMD “Jaguar” processor, 8 cores [12] 8 Core Microsoft custom CPU [13] Tri-Core PowerPC “Espresso” CPU [14]
GPU AMD Radeon Graphics Core Next engine w/ 1152 shaders [15] 853 MHz AMD Radeon GPU w/ 768 shaders[16] AMD “Latte” 550 MHz GPU w/ 320 shaders[17]
Peak GPU Shader Throughput 1.84 TeraFLOPS/s [18] 1.31 TeraFLOPS/s (estimate)[19] 0.352 TeraFLOPS/s[20]
Storage 500 GB 5400 RPM SATA II hard drive [21] 500 GB Hard Drive [22] 8GB or 32GB Flash
External Storage No [23] Yes, USB [24] Yes, USB
Removable Hard Drive Yes, must be at least 160 GB, thinner than 9.5mm [25] No [26] No
Cloud Storage Yes [27] Yes [28] No
Play As You Download Yes [29] Yes [30] No
Remote Download Yes [31] Yes [32] No
Account Access from Multiple Consoles Yes [33] Yes No
Mandatory Game Installs No [34] Yes [35] No
Required Internet Connection No [36] No, but required for mandatory day one update. [37][38] No
Used Game Fee No [39] No [40] No
Digital game sharing or gifting No No No
Feature PlayStation 4 Xbox One Wii U
Backwards Compatibility None [41] None [42] Yes, Wii
Cross Game Chat Yes [43] Yes [44] No
Controllers DualShock 4 (included) Xbox One Wireless Controller (included) Wii U GamePad (included), Wii Remote + Nunchuk (sold separately), Pro Controller (sold separately)
Controller Batteries Rechargable (built-in) AA (2). Rechargable battery packs (sold separately) GP & Pro: Rechargable (built-in). Wii Remote: AA (2).
Motion Control DualShock 4, PlayStation 4 Eye (not included), PlayStation Move (not included) Kinect 2 Wii Remote (sold separately), Wii U GamePad (included)
Second Screen Vita (not included) [45] Playstation App [46] SmartGlass (devices not included) [47] Wii U GamePad (included)
Voice Commands Yes (scope, TBA) [48] Yes [49] No
Subscription Service PlayStation Plus [50] Xbox Live [51] No
USB USB 3.0 (2 ports)[52] USB 3.0 (3 ports)[53] USB 2.0 (4 ports)
Live Streaming Yes Yes No
Reputation Preservation Trophies will be ported Achievements will be ported [54] N/A
Web Connection Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi [55] Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4 & 5Ghz) [56] Gigabit IEEE 802.11 b/g/n dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4 & 5Ghz, LAN via USB dongle
BlueTooth Bluetooth 2.1 (EDR)[57] No* Bluetooth 4.0 [58]
Wi-Fi Direct (for Device Connection) No Yes Yes (for GamePad video streaming)
A/V Hookups HDMI output (4K Support [59]) Optical output [60] HDMI input and output (4K support), Optical output [61] HDMI out, Component/ Composite out
IR No IR out, IR Blaster (Kinect) IR Transceiver (GamePad)
Power Supply (PSU) Internal External (power brick) External (power bricks)
Near Field Communication (NFC) No No Yes (GamePad)
Region Locked No No [62] Yes

*Confirmed to IGN by a Microsoft representative.

Online Feature Comparison Chart

Online Services PlayStation 4 Xbox One Wii U
Online Game Play Paid Access Via PS+ Subscription Paid Access Via Xbox Live Gold Subscription [63] Free
Netflix Free Access to Application [64] Paid Access to Application Via Xbox Live Gold Subscription* Free Access to Application
HBO Go None TBA None
Skype Possible[65] Paid Access to Application Via Xbox Live Gold Subscription [66] None
ESPN None TBA None
Hulu Plus Free Access to Application [67] Paid Access to Application Via Xbox Live Gold Subscription* Free Access to Application
IGN App Yes TBA TBA
Game DVR Free Access to Application Paid Access to Application Via Xbox Live Gold Subscription [68] None
Streaming Game Video Free Access to Application TBA None
Web Browser Yes[69] Paid Access to Application Via Xbox Live Gold Subscription [70] Free Access to Application
NFL Application None Paid Access to Application Via Xbox Live Gold Subscription [71] None

*Based on current Xbox Live Gold requirements

Console Bundle Comparison Chart

This chart compares the physical contents of the launch day bundles of the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Wii U. Other console comparison features are outlined above.

Feature PlayStation 4 Xbox One Wii U
Pack-In Game Playroom (Requires PlayStation Eye, sold seperately) [72] None [73] Nintendo Land (included in Deluxe bundle)
Controllers DualShock 4 Wireless Controller Xbox One Controller, Kinect [74] Wii U GamePad
Headset Wired Mono Earbud [75] Wired Mono Headset [76] Not included
AV Cables HDMI Cable (2.0m) [77] HDMI Cable (Cat2) [78] HDMI Cable
Charging Cables USB Charging Cable [79] Not included [80] Wii U GamePad Charging Cable
Camera Not included [81] Kinect [82] Wii U GamePad Camera
Trial Subscription All PS4 owners get 30 days of PS+[83] All Xbox One owners get 14 days of free Xbox Live[84] N/A
Colors Black Black Black, White
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Posted by plates55 - December 13, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Categories: Xbox   Tags: , , , , , , ,

podcasters, beg-a-thons, and bandwidth

NPR is famous for beg-a-thons, wherein they lament the high cost of production and distribution and, oh yeah, solicit funds.  It’s more pronounced now that they have started podcasting.  More popular podcasts (particularly those who are making a go at doing it for a living) also have the same complaints.

I am slowly being converted to the opinion that the bandwidth complaint is a fundraising ploy. If they were really concerned about the cost of bandwidth they would attempt to minimize the use of bandwidth.  But the bandwidth Jeremiahs are the same folks who apparently take no care to reduce their own footprint, putting out excessively, needlessly large audiofiles.  YES it’s their podcast and their content and they can put it out however they wish, but if you want to beg for donations to cover your costs then I will expect you to attempt to minimize your costs.

Consider these ideas for reducing bandwidth;  they take a bit of up-front scripting to make it work programatically, then it just motors along with zero added effort from the podcaster:

  1. Make a bittorrent feed available.  Your listeners will happily donate bandwidth to keep your content flowing.
  2. Publish two podcast feeds:  a feed with all the bells/whistles and a low-bandwidth feed.
  3. use a lower sampling rate.  44.1 is CD quality. Does your spoken word podcast require better-than-CD sampling?  For our purposes, the Nyquist Rate predicts sampling should be 2x the highest audio frequency.    Since the human ear hears roughly 20-20,000Hz, this explains the 44.1k sampling rate of CDs.  If your podcast does not contain high frequencies at the extremes of human hearing then it does not need a high samping rate.
  4. use Variable Bit Rate (VBR) rather than Constant Bit Rate (CBR).  This ensures no frame uses excessive bitrate to encode the audio.
  5. if you must use CBR, use a lower bitrate.
  6. if your podcast is mono, then encode as mono rather than stereo.  Joint stereo reduced some of the waste when distributing mono in stereo encodes, but it’s still a waste.
  7. Consider voice presets in your favorite encoder.  See the lame voice preset result below.  This single change would probably make the biggest difference in podcasting bandwidth for most content producers.
  8. Consider other formats.  If you insist on high bitrates, .ogg can shave a bit off the filesize (see below).   If are really serious, use a speech-specific format like speex.

A specific example

Here’s the last file I downloaded from the feed of FreedomainRadio, your friendly neighborhood anarcho-capitalist (recommended, btw):

$ file FDR_2096_Sunday_Show_19_Feb_2012.mp3
FDR_2096_Sunday_Show_19_Feb_2012.mp3: Audio file with ID3 version 2.3.0, contains: MPEG ADTS, layer III, v1, 128 kbps, 48 kHz, Monaural
For the purposes of re-encoding I decoded to .wav using mgp123.  The result was a 48kHz .wav file.  I resampled in some cases below to get 44.1kHz .wav files or lower.
101097  FDR_2096_Sunday_Show_19_Feb_2012.mp3
The original file is 101.1MB, sampled at 48kHz and CBR 128K, representing a 0% savings in bandwidth cost.  At least it’s mono, which is not something we can take for granted with voice podcasts.
Ok, so let’s do some encoding with more bandwidth-friendly options in LAME.
100576 Feb 21 01:14 fdrtest-lamevbr-noresample.mp3
 97379 Feb 21 01:28 fdrtest.lamevbr-resample.mp3
 53812 Feb 21 00:48 fdrtest-lame-voice-preset.mp3
Encoding VBR at the original wonky sampling rate is 100.58MB, representing 0.5% savings in bandwidth.  Not much, but would the podcaster rather keep half of 1% of bandwidth costs in his pocket?  You bet.
VBR at 44.1kHz is 97.38MB, 3.7% savings.  Now we are getting somewhere.  And the ‘cast should never have been distributed as 48kHz, anyhow.
LAME’s –preset voice flag is probably what podcasters should be using by default.  Notice it is 53.81MB, for a 46.8% savings in bandwidth.  With no added effort.  With little or no degradation in voice-only audio. My friends, this is what I call Good Enough.  Yes, music gets thin and weird with this preset but we are talking about voice here.
68536 Feb 21 01:08 fdrtest.ogg

Changing nothing in the original 48kHz .wav, encoding with ogg vorbis gives us a 68.54MB file, for a 32.2% savings.  Not bad, though one might lose some windoze/mac listeners.  But as a second feed…  Note that the .ogg advantage will decrease on lower quality sounds files.  Speex is what you use for those.

50746 fdrtest.48k-original-sample.speex
 14498  fdrtest.08k.speex
 26394 fdrtest.16k.speex
 33830 fdrtest.32k.speex
Speex is a codec made expressly for voice.  It is not good for music.  That VOIP app you use probably uses speex.  Speex is a minority codec;  it does not have large mindshare or even widespread technical adoption.  The default Android media app does not play speex as of this writing, and that’s a shame.  Speex also really only works well with certain predefined sampling rates:  32, 16, and 8kHz.
The first run is speex encoding the 48kHz wav.  It hated that rate and said so when invoked.  But it output a file of 50.75MB, for a savings of 49.8%.
The best use of speex for podcast is probably encoding 32kHz files.  Our trial resulted in 33.83MB, a savings of 66.5%.  Or even speex at 16kHz (73.9% savings).
For completeness I also tested speex at  8kHz (85.7% savings) but it’s not really practical.  8kHz is  listenable for short periods (like voicemail) but fatigues the ears after long exposure.   It sounds like a telephone.
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Posted by plates55 - February 25, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Categories: Gadget   Tags: , , , , , , ,

MIT Genius Stuffs 100 Processors Into Single Chip

WESTBOROUGH, Massachusetts — Call Anant Agarwal’s work crazy, and you’ve made him a happy man.

Agarwal directs the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s vaunted Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, or CSAIL. The lab is housed in the university’s Stata Center, a Dr. Seussian hodgepodge of forms and angles that nicely reflects the unhindered-by-reality visionary research that goes on inside.

Agarwal and his colleagues are figuring out how to build the computer chips of the future, looking a decade or two down the road. The aim is to do research that most people think is nuts. “If people say you’re not crazy,” Agarwal tells Wired, “that means you’re not thinking far out enough.”

Agarwal has been at this a while, and periodically, when some of his pie-in-the-sky research becomes merely cutting-edge, he dons his serial entrepreneur hat and launches the technology into the world. His latest commercial venture is Tilera. The company’s specialty is squeezing cores onto chips — lots of cores. A core is a processor, the part of a computer chip that runs software and crunches data. Today’s high-end computer chips have as many as 16 cores. But Tilera’s top-of-the-line chip has 100.

The idea is to make servers more efficient. If you pack lots of simple cores onto a single chip, you’re not only saving power. You’re shortening the distance between cores.

 

Today, Tilera sells chips with 16, 32, and 64 cores, and it’s scheduled to ship that 100-core monster later this year. Tilera provides these chips to Quanta, the huge Taiwanese original design manufacturer (ODM) that supplies servers to Facebook and — according to reports, Google. Quanta servers sold to the big web companies don’t yet include Tilera chips, as far as anyone is admitting. But the chips are on some of the companies’ radar screens.

Agarwal’s outfit is part of an ever growing movement to reinvent the server for the internet age. Facebook and Google are now designing their own servers for their sweeping online operations. Startups such as SeaMicro are cramming hundreds of mobile processors into servers in an effort to save power in the web data center. And Tilera is tackling this same task from different angle, cramming the processors into a single chip.

Tilera grew out of a DARPA- and NSF-funded MIT project called RAW, which produced a prototype 16-core chip in 2002. The key idea was to combine a processor with a communications switch. Agarwal calls this creation a tile, and he’s able to build these many tiles into a piece of silicon, creating what’s known as a “mesh network.”

“Before that you had the concept of a bunch of processors hanging off of a bus, and a bus tends to be a real bottleneck,” Agarwal says. “With a mesh, every processor gets a switch and they all talk to each other…. You can think of it as a peer-to-peer network.”

What’s more, Tilera made a critical improvement to the cache memory that’s part of each core. Agarwal and company made the cache dynamic, so that every core has a consistent copy of the chip’s data. This Dynamic Distributed Cache makes the cores act like a single chip so they can run standard software. The processors run the Linux operating system and programs written in C++, and a large chunk of Tilera’s commercialization effort focused on programming tools, including compilers that let programmers recompile existing programs to run on Tilera processors.

The end result is a 64-core chip that handles more transactions and consumes less power than an equivalent batch of x86 chips. A 400-watt Tilera server can replace eight x86 servers that together draw 2,000 watts. Facebook’s engineers have given the chip a thorough tire-kicking, and Tilera says it has a growing business selling its chips to networking and videoconferencing equipment makers. Tilera isn’t naming names, but claims one of the top two videoconferencing companies and one of the top two firewall companies.

An Army of Wimps

There’s a running debate in the server world over what are called wimpy nodes. Startups SeaMicro and Calxeda are carving out a niche for low-power servers based on processors originally built for cellphones and tablets. Carnegie Mellon professor Dave Andersen calls these chips “wimpy.” The idea is that building servers with more but lower-power processors yields better performance for each watt of power. But some have downplayed the idea, pointing out that it only works for certain types of applications.

Tilera takes the position that wimpy cores are okay, but wimpy nodes — aka wimpy chips — are not.

Keeping the individual cores wimpy is a plus because a wimpy core is low power. But if your cores are spread across hundreds of chips, Agarwal says, you run into problems: inter-chip communications are less efficient than on-chip communications. Tilera gets the best of both worlds by using wimpy cores but putting many cores on a chip. But it still has a ways to go.

There’s also a limit to how wimpy your cores can be. Google’s infrastructure guru, Urs Hölzle, published an influential paper on the subject in 2010. He argued that in most cases brawny cores beat wimpy cores. To be effective, he argued, wimpy cores need to be no less than half the power of higher-end x86 cores.

Tilera is boosting the performance of its cores. The company’s most recent generation of data center server chips, released in June, are 64-bit processors that run at 1.2 to 1.5 GHz. The company also doubled DRAM speed and quadrupled the amount of cache per core. “It’s clear that cores have to get beefier,” Agarwal says.

The whole debate, however, is somewhat academic. “At the end of the day, the customer doesn’t care whether you’re a wimpy core or a big core,” Agarwal says. “They care about performance, and they care about performance per watt, and they care about total cost of ownership, TCO.”

Tilera’s performance per watt claims were validated by a paper published by Facebook engineers in July. The paper compared Tilera’s second generation 64-core processor to Intel’s Xeon and AMD’s Opteron high end server processors. Facebook put the processors through their paces on Memcached, a high-performance database memory system for web applications.

According to the Facebook engineers, a tuned version of Memcached on the 64-core Tilera TILEPro64 yielded at least 67 percent higher throughput than low-power x86 servers. Taking power and node integration into account as well, a TILEPro64-based S2Q server with 8 processors handled at least three times as many transactions per second per Watt as the x86-based servers.

Despite the glowing words, Facebook hasn’t thrown its arms around Tilera. The stumbling block, cited in the paper, is the limited amount of memory the Tilera processors support. Thirty-two-bit cores can only address about 4GB of memory. “A 32-bit architecture is a nonstarter for the cloud space,” Agarwal says.

Tilera’s 64-bit processors change the picture. These chips support as much as a terabyte of memory. Whether the improvement is enough to seal the deal with Facebook, Agarwal wouldn’t say. “We have a good relationship,” he says with a smile.

While Intel Lurks

Intel is also working on many-core chips, and it expects to ship a specialized 50-core processor, dubbed Knights Corner, in the next year or so as an accelerator for supercomputers. Unlike the Tilera processors, Knights Corner is optimized for floating point operations, which means it’s designed to crunch the large numbers typical of high-performance computing applications.

In 2009, Intel announced an experimental 48-core processor code-named Rock Creek and officially labeled the Single-chip Cloud Computer (SCC). The chip giant has since backed off of some of the loftier claims it was making for many-core processors, and it focused its many-core efforts on high-performance computing. For now, Intel is sticking with the Xeon processor for high-end data center server products.

Dave Hill, who handles server product marketing for Intel, takes exception to the Facebook paper. “Really what they compared was a very optimized set of software running on Tilera versus the standard image that you get from the open source running on the x86 platforms,” he says.

The Facebook engineers ran over a hundred different permutations in terms of the number of cores allocated to the Linux stack, the networking stack and the Memcached stack, Hill says. “They really kinda fine tuned it. If you optimize the x86 version, then the paper probably would have been more apples to apples.”

Tilera’s roadmap calls for its next generation of processors, code-named Stratton, to be released in 2013. The product line will expand the number of processors in both directions, down to as few as four and up to as many as 200 cores. The company is going from a 40-nm to a 28-nm process, meaning they’re able to cram more circuits in a given area. The chip will have improvements to interfaces, memory, I/O and instruction set, and will have more cache memory.

But Agarwal isn’t stopping there. As Tilera churns out the 100-core chip, he’s leading a new MIT effort dubbed the Angstrom project. It’s one of four DARPA-funded efforts aimed at building exascale supercomputers. In short, it’s aiming for a chip with 1,000 cores.

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Posted by plates55 - January 23, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Categories: Gadget   Tags: , , , , , , ,

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