DRM is good, blocking hardware bad

kaby-lake

There’s no denying that DRM is good and needed. But how did it become Microsoft’s and Intel’s cashing playground?

Digital rights management (DRM) is a generic term for technologies that control one’s access to content. After years of hard fight, it looks like the pirate side has won. They have the content and they have the ways to share it. Something needs to be done so that the content creators get their bread to the table and it looks like Microsoft and Intel (AMD) have it figured out.

They have decided that there will be a hardware and software wall between us, the viewers and the content. For example Netflix 4K. To watch 4K videos from Netflix, you need Windows 10, Edge browser and a Kaby Lake 7th generation Intel CPU. Absolutely ridiculous.

They claim that it’s because of the H.265 10-bit decoder built into the Kaby Lake processors. Skylake only has 8-bit decoder which hasn’t got the performance. That’s horse s**t. Why did the Skylake have it then, if it can’t be used?

My PC runs games at 4K 60fps. I have a 4K display and a GTX 1080 that has the H.265 10-decoder, why isn’t that compatible? I’ll tell you why.

Money.

The monopoly companies like Intel and Microsoft are just cashing in without thinking about the future. Peeing into the customer’s morning cereal is never a good thing.

Intel even changed the chipset from Skylake to Kaby Lake to force customers to buy the new Z270 motherboards and that way, a new Windows 10 licence from Microsoft. Luckily, most of the Z170 boards can be updated to support Kaby Lake.

That still leaves the cost of the CPU. The Kaby Lake chips have better thermal solution than Skylake and because of that, they can clock higher. That’s the difference. Why would anyone with an Ivy Bridge or newer upgrade? The performance gains are minimal and the retail value of the old one has collapsed.

Why didn’t Intel just draw the line between Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge? They say it’s the hardware decoder. Why is there the software wall with Windows 10 and Edge then? Why don’t just ask the Windows OS to check if you have an Ivy Bridge or newer? Why can’t you just check with the Windows that the user is not running any recording software and just freaking show the content?

The Microsoft’s and Intel’s answer is hardware. It’s a hardware decoder that can decode the encoded stream so that the content can’t be captured. And how does this prevent the pirates from capturing the content from the video cable? And why is the Edge browser needed then?

Money is the real answer.

Taking a commonly known issue and turning it into a short term profit, that’s what Microsoft and Intel are doing here.

Don’t forget that the same restrictions apply to the UHD Blu-ray. The disks that the new version of XBOX One can run with an ancient AMD CPU. It’s not a hardware problem, it a problem with selfishness.

Intel Updates the Skylake Lineup

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Intel has introduced new mobile and desktop CPUs. The lineup now has processors for all PCs from ultrabooks to work stations. 

The new Skylake architecture is made on Intel’s 14nm process and with it, the chips are more power-efficient. The lineup starts from the low-power Y-series. They are for ultrabooks, have two cores and support hyper threading. The Y-series has m3, m5, m7 and Pentium processors with 3.5 to 7 watt TDP.

U-lineup is for laptops and it has i3, i5, i7 and Pentium CPUs with TDP of 7.5 to 28 watts. All U-processors have two cores and support hyper threading. H-series is for more powerful laptops with i3 models having two cores and hyper threading, i5 CPUs are quad core without hyper threading and i7 processors have four cores and hyper threading. H-series also has quad core hyper threading Xeon processors for work station laptops.

Intel also updated their desktop Skylake lineup. With the unlocked i7-6700K and i5-6600K there’s now a wide variety of locked CPUs with a letter T at the end. Hyper threading is available on i3 and i7 CPUs. Core i5 and i7 processors have four cores and i3 and Pentium have two cores.

Source: Intel News Fact Sheet – PDF

5×5 is Intel’s New Tiny Motherboard Standard

intel-5x5

Intel has launched a tiny new motherboard standard with support to LGA based CPUs in IDF 2015. The new motherboard is smaller than mini-ITX and it supports upgradeable Intel CPUs unlike previous Intel NUC motherboards. 

The new 5×5 gets it’s name from it’s size, 5.5″ x 5.8″ or 140mm x 147mm is the smallest standard with LGA socket. The 5×5 has two SODIMM slots for RAM, one M.2 slot and one SATA 3 slot. It however makes compromises to get to it’s size. It doesn’t have a single PCIe slot and it only supports CPUs with maximum of 65W TDP because it only uses DC power.

On the back of the motherboard there are two HDMI ports, two USB 3.0 ports and an Ethernet port. On the front, there are two USB 3.0 ports and one audio port.

Manufacturers can modify the specs of the motherboard when building their own. Only the size and positioning of the CPU socket are standard. The upcoming boards will support LGA 1151 socket and with it 6th generation Skylake CPUs.

Source: Anandtech

Intel’s new Thunderbolt 3 Box Improves Laptop Performace

intel-thunderbolt-hub

Intel has introduced a Thunderbolt 3 hub at IDF 2015. Thunderbolt 3 is Intel’s own connector that can achieve quadruple bandwidth compared to UBS Type-C. 

The Thunderbolt hub can beef up laptop graphics, charge the laptop, drive two 4k displays and act as a USB hub at the same time over one single Thunderbolt 3 cable. The hub has three USB 2.0, one Type-C, two HDMI and two DisplayPort connectors and it can power all those at the same time except the additional displays are limited to two 4k displays.

At the demo hub there’s just an AMD R9 M385 but it’ll most likely be capable to handle full desktop GPUs. The possibilities this could bring to gamers are great. The same very portable laptop used in work or school would be able to run the greatest PC games.

The Intel’s solution will not be available for consumers but other manufacturers can build their own Thunderbolt hubs. MSI has build something like this previously with their GS30 but it needed a full PCIe connector to work which made it a little clumsy.

Source: Gizmodo

Optane, Intel’s new high speed SSD

3d-xpoint

Intel has announced its new SSD brand Optane at Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. The new, insanely fast SSD’s will launch as early as next year.

Intel’s new 3D XPoint technology is also coming in DIMM memories for Xeon processors. The 3D XPoint is going to be available in both PCIe SSD and DIMM memories next year and they are sold under the brand Optane. The products will be available for servers, desktops and laptops.

3d-xpoint-2

Intel claims that the new 3D XPoint technology has 1000 times the speed and endurance of the currently used NAND technology and it’s 10 times denser than DRAM. According to the keynote, the early Optane prototype easily beats Intel’s current flagship SSD, P3700. The IOps benchmarks revealed that the Optane prototype is a good 7 times faster.

The new technology really puts pressure to other manufacturers. The speed the new Optane has, is going to allow all new possibilities when it comes to demanding game graphics and real-time data analytics.

Source: Intel, Anandtech 1, Anandtech 2

Intel Skylake released

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Intel has released its new CPUs. There’s only two desktop CPUs at the launch and more will follow later in the year. 

The higher-end Core i7-6700K retails at $350 and packs the usual 4 cores and 8 threads. Base clock is set to 4.0GHz and out of the box the Turbo boost boosts the clock speed up to 4.2GHz. The i7-6700K has 8MB of L3 cache.

Core i5-6600K is more affordable with $243 price tag but it lacks the hyper threading and has only 6MB of L3 cache. The i5-6600K runs at 3.5GHz and Turbos up to 3.9GHz.

Both new CPUs are made with Intel’s new 14nm process called Skylake. Both share the same TDP at 91 watts and the same integrated GPU. The HD 530 has 24 EU units running at 1150MHz. The new CPUs support both DDR4 and DDR3 memories.

With the new CPUs a new socket was launched. The LGA 1151 supports maximum of 4 DIMM slots and up to 16 PCIe lanes. We have no idea why Intel decided to limit PCIe support to 16 instead of 20 because it limits NVidia SLI to 3-way configurations. 4-way AMD Crossfire is still possible.

As the first benchmark are flooding to the internet, it looks like the new i7-6700K is only around 10% faster than the i7-4790K. In game benchmarks the gain is even smaller.

At the moment it looks like the Skylake is not going to be a great success as Haswell owners are not benefiting anything by upgrading. In the future there will be more Skylake products so we can’t doom them all yet. Still after Skylake, there will be Kaby Lake which is yet another tock and we are not expecting too much from it either. So we don’t believe the rest of Skylake lineup to be any more attractive than these just released desktop CPUs.

Source: Intel