Operating Systems

NetBSD 7.0 Released (netbsd.org) 32

An anonymous reader writes: After three years of development and over a year in release engineering, NetBSD 7.0 has been released. Its improvements include added support for many new ARM boards including the Raspberry Pi 2, major improvements to its multiprocessor-compatible firewall NPF, kernel scripting in Lua, kernel mode-setting for Intel and Radeon graphics chips, and a daemon called blacklistd(8) which integrates with numerous network daemons and shields them from flood attempts.

Dell Brings 4K InfinityEdge Display To XPS 15 Line, GeForce GPU, Under 4 Pounds (hothardware.com) 78

MojoKid writes: There's no doubt that Dell's new XPS 13 notebook, when it debuted earlier this year, was very well received. Dell managed to cram a 13.3-inch 3200x1800 QHD+ display into a 12-inch carbon fiber composite frame. Dell has now brought that same InfinityEdge display technology to its larger XPS 15, which the company boasts has the same footprint as a 14-inch notebook. But Dell didn't just stay the course with the QHD+ resolution from the smaller XPS 13; the company instead is offering an optional UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD panel with 8 million pixels and 282 pixels per inch (PPI). The 350-nit display allows for 170-degree viewing angles and has 100 percent minimum Adobe RGB color. Dell also beefed up the XPS 15's internals, giving it sixth generation Intel Core processors (Skylake), support for up to 16GB of memory and storage options that top out with a 1TB SSD. Graphics duties are handled by either integrated Intel HD Graphics 530 or a powerful GeForce GTX 960M processor that is paired with 2GB GDDR5 memory. And all of this squeaks in at under 4 pounds.

From Microsoft, HoloLens VR Dev Kit, New Phones, Continuum 87

Ars Technica and scads of other tech hardware sites are reporting that the big news so far from this morning's Microsoft product launch event in New York is that the company's Hololens development kit will begin shipping in the first quarter of next year, and at a price that puts the units out of the hands of typical consumers: $3000. At that level, developers are more likely to make the plunge, which Ars applauds.

The company also announced three new smartphones: two of them, the Lumia 950, 950XL, are worth designating "flagships," while the 550, notably, will sell for $139, putting it in the territory of cheap grey-market Android phones. More interesting than spec bumps, though, is Continuum for Windows, a Window 10 feature which made its official debut at the event. Continuum is one manifestation of the pocket-computer idea that others have had as well in various forms: it means that with an adapter, a phone can be used as the CPU and graphics engine when connected to a screen and keyboard: "The adapter features a Microsoft Display Dock, an HDMI and Display Port, plus 3 USB ports to provide productivity on the go and let you plug in additional peripherals, such as mice and keyboards. Other accessories can be connected too, Microsoft said."

Microsoft also demo'd the Surface 4. Its improved screen is 12.3" at 2160x1440, for a pixel density of 267 PPI. The new pro has a Skylake 6th-gen processor, which they say provides a 30% performance boost over the Surface Pro 3, and a 50% boost over the MacBook Air. The SP4 goes up to 1TB of storage, and up to 16GB of RAM. The Type Cover was improved as well — the touchpad is 40% larger and supports 5-point multi-touch, while the keys have better travel and pitch.

On top of this, Microsoft also unveiled the Surface Book laptop. Its defining feature is that you can unclip the 13.5" touchscreen and use it separately as a tablet. The keyboard dock has a dedicated GPU that will boost performance when attached. Microsoft is using a new type of hinge that bends and extends at multiple points, so you can also reattach the screen backward if you want to use it as a tablet while keeping the extra GPU power available. They claim a 12-hour battery life for the Surface Book.
The Almighty Buck

NY Times Passes 1M Digital Subscribers 92

HughPickens.com writes: Many news organizations, facing competition from digital outlets, have sharply reduced the size of their newsrooms and their investment in news gathering but less than four-and-a-half years after launching its pay model the NY Times has increased coverage as it announced that the Times has passed one million digital-only subscribers, giving them far more than any other news organization in the world. The Times still employs as many reporters as it did 15 years ago — and its ranks now include graphics editors, developers, video journalists and other digital innovators. "It's a tribute to the hard work and innovation of our marketing, product and technology teams and the continued excellence of our journalism," says CEO Mark Thompson.

According to Ken Doctor the takeaway from the Times success is that readers reward elite global journalism. The Wall Street Journal is close behind the Times, at 900,000, while the FT's digital subscription number stands at 520,000. "These solid numbers form bedrock for the future. For news companies, being national now means being global, and being global means enjoying unprecedented reach," says Doctor. "These audiences of a half-million and more portend more reader revenue to come."

Linux Kernel Dev Sarah Sharp Quits, Citing 'Brutal' Communications Style 922

JG0LD writes: A prominent Linux kernel developer announced today in a blog post that she would step down from her direct work in the kernel community. “My current work on userspace graphics enabling may require me to send an occasional quirks kernel patch, but I know I will spend at least a day dreading the potential toxic background radiation of interacting with the kernel community before I send anything,” Sharp wrote. Back in July, 2013 Sarah made a push to make the Linux Kernel Development Mailing List a more civil place.

Artists Create a 1000-Year GIF Loop 105

jovius writes: Finnish artists Juha van Ingen and Janne Särkelä have developed a monumental GIF called AS Long As Possible, which loops once per 1000 years. The 12 gigabyte GIF is made of 48,140,288 numbered frames, that change about every 10 minutes. They plan to start the loop in 2017, when GIF turns 30 years old. "If nurturing a GIF loop even for 100 — let alone 3,000 years — seems an unbelievable task, how much remains of our present digital culture after that time?", van Ingen said. The artists plan to store a mother file somewhere and create many iterations of the loop in various locations — and if one fails, it may be easily synchronized with, and replaced by, another. Maybe they should use FLIF instead.

Oculus Founder Explains Why the Rift VR Headset Will Cost "More Than $350" 174

An anonymous reader writes: When Oculus took to Kickstarter in 2012, the company sought to create the 'DK1', a development kit of the Rift which the company wanted to eventually become an affordable VR headset that they would eventually take to market as a consumer product. At the time, the company was aiming for a target price around $350, but since then the company, and the scope of the Rift headset, has grown considerably. That's one reason why Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey says that the consumer Rift headset, launching in Q1 2016, will cost more than $350. '...the reason for that is that we've added a lot of technology to this thing beyond what existed in the DK1 and DK2 days,' says Luckey.

iPhone 6s's A9 Processor Racks Up Impressive Benchmarks 213

MojoKid writes: Underneath the hood of Apple's new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models is a new custom designed System-on-Chip (SoC) that Apple has dubbed its A9 processor. It's a 64-bit chip that, according to Apple, is the most advanced ever built for any smartphone, and that's just one of many claims coming out of Cupertino. Apple is also claiming a level of gaming performance on par with dedicated game consoles and with a graphics engine that's 90 percent faster than the previous generation. For compute chores, Apple says the A9 chip improves overall CPU performance by up to 70 percent. These performance promises come without divulging too much about the physical makeup of the A9, though in testing its dual-core SoC does seem to compete well with the likes of Samsung's octal-core Exynos chips found in the Galaxy S6 line. Further, in intial graphics benchmark testing, the A9 also leads the pack in mosts tests, sometimes by a healthy margin, even besting Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 in tests like 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited.

Fable Legends DX12 Benchmark Stressing High End GPUs 51

Vigile writes: In preparation for the release of the free-to-play Fable Legends game on both Xbox One and PC this winter, Microsoft and Lionhead Studios released a benchmark today that allows users to test performance of their PC hardware configuration with a DirectX 12 based game engine that pushes the boundaries of render quality. Based on a modified UE4 engine, Fable Legends includes support for asynchronous compute shaders, manual resource barrier tracking and explicit memory management, all new to the DX12 API. Unlike the previous DX12 benchmark, Ashes of the Singularity, which focused mainly on high draw call counts and mass quantities of on-screen units, Fable Legends takes a more standard approach, attempting to improve image quality and shadow reproduction with the new API. PC Perspective has done some performance analysis with the new benchmark and a range of graphics cards, finding that while NVIDIA still holds the lead at the top spot (GTX 980 Ti vs Fury X), the AMD Radeon mid-range products offer better performance (and better value) than the comparable GeForce parts.

Facebook Finally Delivers On the VRML Dream With Immersive Star Wars Video 58

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has launched its 360-degree video feature, with an eye to virtual reality and next year's release of the Oculus Rift. Among the showcase videos is a specially rendered 'fly-through' of a scene from new Star Wars movie 'The Force Awakens', allowing the viewer to pan laterally and horizontally as the movie progresses. This kind of immersive video was made possible with Apple's QuickTime VR in the 1990s, but was hampered by the same technological bottlenecks of the period as VRML.

Nintendo Joins Khronos Group 46

jones_supa writes: Gamasutra reports that Nintendo has quietly joined Khronos Group, the consortium managing the OpenGL and Vulkan graphics APIs. The news was brought to Gamasutra's attention by a NeoGaf post, which notes that Nintendo's name was added to the list of Khronos Group contributing members earlier this month. As a Khronos Group contributor Nintendo has full voting rights and is empowered to participate in the group's API development, but it doesn't have a seat on the Khronos Group board and can't participate in the final ratification process of new API specifications.

NVIDIA Announces GeForce GTX 980 GPU For High-End Gaming Notebooks 90

MojoKid writes: NVIDIA is taking things is a slightly different direction today, at the ultra-high-end of their mobile graphics offering, introducing a "new" mobile GPU implementation, that's not really a mobile part at all, the GeForce GTX 980. Notice, there's no "M" on the end of that model number. NVIDIA is betting that the enthusiasts that are most likely to buy a notebook with a GeForce GTX 980 in it are savvy enough to understand the difference. Through some careful binning and optimization of the components that accompany the GPU, including the memory, voltage regulation module, and PCB, NVIDIA was able to take the full desktop GeForce GTX 980 GPU and cram it into mobile form factors. The mobile flavor of the GeForce GTX 980 features selectively binned GPUs that are able to achieve high frequencies at lower-than-typical voltages. And those GPUs are paired to 7Gbps GDDR5 memory and a heat sink with up to 2X the capacity of typical solutions. Notebooks powered by this GPU will be unlocked, and fully overclockable.The performance of the GeForce GTX 980 will also allow notebooks powered by the GPU to push multiple screens or power VR gear. NVIDIA was demoing a GTX 980-powerd Clevo notebook at an event in New York, connected to a trio of 1080P monitors, running GTA V at smooth framerates.

AMD Confirms Vulkan Driver For Linux, But To Start Off As Closed-Source 47

An anonymous reader writes: AMD has finally revealed some basic details concerning their support of Vulkan on Linux. AMD has a Vulkan driver but it will begin its life as closed-source, reports Phoronix. In time the AMD Vulkan driver will transition to being open-source. This Vulkan driver is built to interface with their new AMDGPU kernel DRM driver that's part of their long talked about AMD open-source strategy for Linux. This closed-then-open Vulkan driver will be competing with Valve's Intel Vulkan driver that will be open from day one.

Linux 4.3 Bringing Stable Intel Skylake Support, Reworked NVIDIA Driver 93

An anonymous reader writes: Mr. Torvalds has released Linux 4.3-rc1 this weekend. He characterized the release as "not particularly small — pretty average in size, in fact. Everything looks fairly normal, in fact, with about 70% of the changes being drivers, 10% architecture updates, and the remaining 20% are spread out." There are a number of new user-facing features including stabilized Intel "Skylake" processor support, initial AMD R9 Fury graphics support, SMP scheduler optimizations, file-system fixes, a reworked open-source NVIDIA driver, and many Linux hardware driver updates.

OpenGL Library Mesa 11.0 Brings Open Source OpenGL 4 88

jj110888 writes: Mesa, the open source implementation of OpenGL, has just announced version 11.0. This adds support for the amdgpu driver, fixes for non-Windows platforms, new OpenGL ES extensions supported, and more. Most notable is the support for all extensions in OpenGL 4.1 by the radeonsi and nvc0 drivers, and support for extensions added in OpenGL 4.2 by the i965 driver. This brings the OpenGL version supported by core Mesa from 3.3 to 4.2, five and a half years after OpenGL 4 was released. Mesamatrix gives the status of which OpenGL extensions are supported by which open source driver. Vulkan, on the otherhand, will have an open source driver once the spec is released.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano: 6 Inches Of High-Priced, High-Performance Graphics 26

Vigile writes: Back when AMD announced it would be producing an even smaller graphics card than the Fury X, but based on the same full-sized Fiji GPU, many people wondered just how they would be able to pull it off. Using 4096 stream processors, a 4096-bit memory bus with 4GB of HBM (high bandwidth memory) and a clock speed rated "up to" 1000 MHz, the new AMD Radeon R9 Nano looked to be an impressive card. Today, PC Perspective has a review of the R9 Nano and though there are some quirks, including pronounced coil whine and a hefty $650 price tag, it offers nearly the same performance as the non-X Radeon R9 Fury card at 100 watts lower TDP! It is able to do that by dynamically adjusting the clock speed from ~830 MHz to 1000 MHz depending on the workload, always maintaining a peak power draw of just 175 watts. All of this is packed into a 6 inch PCB — smaller than any other enthusiast class GPU to date, making it a perfect pairing for SFF cases that demand smaller components. The R9 Nano is expensive though with the same asking price as AMD's own R9 Fury X and the GeForce GTX 980 Ti. Readers have also submitted links to reviews at Hot Hardware and Tom's Hardware.

Alienware's X51 R3, Revamped With Skylake and Maxwell, Tested and Torn Down 18

MojoKid writes: Alienware has been relatively quiet for the past 18 months or so with respect to their X51 small form factor gaming systems. However, Intel's recent Skylake processor launch and NVIDIA's further optimizations in their Maxwell GPU architecture have given the company a fresh suite of technology to work with to enhance performance and reduce power consumption. As such, the Alienware X51 was given a complete overhaul of the lastest technologies, all of which play very well with the tighter power budgets and thermal constraints of this class of machine. Alienware calls their new machine simply the X51 R3, as it's the third revision of the product. One of the more unique design changes that Alienware made was to the graphics riser card which plugs into a X20 PCI Express slot on the motherboard. This is a rather unique approach to design efficiency which allows the Samsung NVMe M.2 gumstick Solid State Drive in this machine to ride along shotgun with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960, on the side of a custom riser card. Performance-wise the machine is capable of strong standard compute performance on the desktop and in the latest game titles it's able to offer up playable frame rates up through 1440p resolution with high image quality settings. Not bad for a console-sized small form factor PC, actually.

Second Gen Moto 360 Men's and Women's, Fitness-Oriented Moto 360 Sport Unveiled 52

MojoKid writes: Motorola's first generation Moto 360 smartwatch was one of the first Android Wear smartwatches to hit the market, and because of its round display, became the immediate flag bearer for the Android Wear platform. As new competition has entered the fray — including entries from Apple with the Apple Watch and Samsung with the Gear S2 — Motorola is announcing a second generation smartwatch that solves most of the complaints of the previous model. Motorola has ditched the archaic Texas Instruments OMAP 3 processor in the original Moto 360. The new second generation Moto 360 brings a more credible 1.2GHz, quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and Adreno 305 graphics to the table. You'll also find 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. And if you didn't like the largish dimensions of the previous Moto 360, you'll be glad to know that Motorola is offering two sizes this time around. There's a 46mm diameter case that comes with a 360x330 display and a smaller 42mm diameter case that houses a 360x325 display. Motorola has also introduced a dedicated women's model of the Moto 360 which features a 42mm diameter case and accepts smaller 16mm bands. As for battery life, Motorola says that the men's and women's 42mm models comes with a 300 mAh battery which is good for up to 1.5 days of mixed use, while the 46mm watch comes with a larger 400 mAh battery which is good for up to 2 days on charge.

AMD's R9 Fury On Open-Source: Prepare for Disappointment, For Now 43

An anonymous reader writes: With Linux 4.3 AMD is adding the initial open-source driver for the R9 Fury graphics cards. Unfortunate for Linux gamers, the R9 Fury isn't yet in good shape on the open-source driver and it's not good with the Catalyst Linux driver either as previously discussed. With the initial code going into Linux 4.3, the $550 R9 Fury runs slower than graphics cards like the lower-cost and older R7 370 and HD 7950 GPUs, since AMD's open-source developers haven't yet found the time to implement power management / re-clocking support. The R9 Fury also only advertises OpenGL 3.0 support while the hardware is GL4.5-capable and the other open-source AMD GCN driver ships OpenGL 4.1. It doesn't look like AMD has any near-term R9 Fury Linux fix for either driver, but at least their older hardware is performing well with the open-source code.