07.04.16 | ISSUE 41
Spring is in the air and the sun is shining (sometimes) and so after the lull in the first few months of the year Intel, NVIDIA, AMD and Microsoft have all got lots to show off this month. Highlights include a tiny new gaming PC form factor and some new high-end graphics cards. We’ve also got the latest news on what’s happening in the Pro Video world. Read on to find out more.
1. Intel shrinks the gaming PC
PCs have been steadily getting smaller over the last 30 years, but when it comes to gaming, the average case size is still a lot bigger than an office PC. For instance, even a mini-ITX gaming case, such as the Fractal Design Node 304 is still a fairly chunky affair, measuring 250 x 210 x 374mm.
Instead of trying to scale down the gaming PC, which is ultimately limited by the size of discrete graphics cards, even if you build it onto the motherboard, Intel has come up with another alternative – a gaming PC based around the NUC form factor.
At just 211 x 116 x 28mm plus a laptop size mains adaptor the new design, codename Skull Canyon, or NUC6i7KYK if you prefer alphabet soup model names is far smaller than any mini-ITX gaming PC. The Skull Canyon is so small because the GPU, an Intel Iris Pro 580 is part of the CPU. The GPU runs at up to 950MHz and has 576 cores and so should deliver similar frame rates in games to a GeForce GT 945M GPU. The CPU itself is a quad-core Core i7 6770HQ running at between 2.6 and 3.5GHz so should be great for gaming and light content creation work.
With built in LAN, WiFi, 7.1 audio, support for 4K TVs via HDMI or DisplayPort plus two M.2 ports for fast SSDs Skull Canyon is shaping up to be a very attractive mini gaming PC or entry-level workstation.
Stock of the Skull Canyon mini gaming PC is due into Scan in May, but I’m hoping to get a sample before then so we can share some benchmark data with you.
2. Intel Xeon E5 2600 v4 review
Last autumn Intel upgraded its Xeon E5 2600 CPUs for workstations and servers to Haswell adding in support for DDR4 memory for the first time. This spring, the Xeon E5 2600 is getting another upgrade, from Haswell to Broadwell. The new Broadwell chips have a v4 on the end to distinguish them from the older v3 models and use the same LGA2011 socket so should work in almost all workstations and servers once you have updated the BIOS.
While the Broadwell architecture is only about 5% faster than Haswell, the new v4 Xeons do have more cores than their predecessors. For example, the flagship workstation model the 2687W has 12 cores running at 3GHz versus the 10 cores running at 3.1GHz of the older model. This pattern of more cores and slightly reduced clock frequency is repeated throughout the range and as TDPs and prices are very similar to the older models there is no reason not to take advantage of the extra performance on offer.
In terms of brute performance the new v4 Xeons are true monsters, with up to 22 cores available in a single CPU. Intel has also tweaked the way that virtualised applications share the cache and memory bandwidth, which will help to boost performance when a server is running a mixture of high and low priority applications.
Whether you’re upgrading an existing system or buying a new workstation or server Scan carries the full range of Intel Xeon E5 2600 v4 CPUs.
3. Microsoft announces Windows 10 Anniversary Update
At its Build conference in San Francisco Microsoft just announced that it’ll be rolling out a big update for Windows 10 in the summer. Referred to as the Anniversary Update, new features include support for extensions for the Edge web browser which will be downloadable from the Windows Store. You’ll also be able to use Windows Hello biometric security to login in to compatible websites using Edge instead of having to remember dozens of different passwords.
Microsoft is also promising improved Ink support, including support in Cortana and a software ruler which makes drawing on touchscreen devices such as the Surface far more precise. Cortana is also getting a makeover, and will now be accessible even when the screen is locked and will get helped with the addition of bots. These small programs are designed to automate tasks, for example they can go and book a hotel for if you have a meeting scheduled in Cortana in another city.
4. Legendary former Intel CEO Andy Grove dies at 79
As the most important chip maker in the world, anybody who was been following the history of Intel should be familiar with its legendary former CEO and Chairman, Andy Grove who passed away on March 21st.
Intel’s first employee after the company was founded in 1968 by Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, Andy Grove was company president from 1979, made CEO in 1987 and Chairman from 1997 till 2004 after which he still acted as an advisor at Intel.
Credited with driving the transformation from a struggling memory-focused company to processors in the mid-1980s, Andy Grove helped bring CPUs such as 386 and Pentium to market, growing Intel’s market value by a staggering 4,500%, most of which was reinvested in research and development and new facilities.
A prolific author with a distinctive management style Andy Grove was a generous philanthropist, contributing $26 million to establish the Grove School of Engineering in New York.
5. NVIDIA announces upgraded Quadro M6000
The M6000 is already the most powerful Quadro card you can buy and is a popular choice in high-end workstations for rendering and simulations. As the card is now a year old NVIDIA is giving it a makeover, doubling the on-board RAM from 12 to 24GB, allowing larger models and textures to be loaded into the frame buffer without resorting to much slower system memory. We don’t have a price yet for the newly upgraded M6000, but everything should be clearer in a few weeks’ time when stock lands. You can keep up with the latest developments on our Pro Graphics and Pro Graphics Workstations websites.
6. NVIDIA unveils first Pascal GPUs
A new GPU architecture from NVIDIA is always worth looking forward as it means greater performance for gamers and professional users. NVIDIA’s next gen architecture is codenamed Pascal, the details of which hitherto have been limited to rumours and speculation. That all changed at NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference in San Jose this week, with the unveiling of the first Pascal GPU.
The new GPU, codenamed GP100 will make its debut later this year on the Tesla P100 card which is designed for HPC servers. With 3584 cores running at between 1328 and 1480MHz plus 16GB of HBM2 memory, NVIDIA claims the P100 has a peak single precision speed of 10.6 teraFLOPS and double precision of 5.3 teraFLOPS, a massive leap over the existing Tesla K40 and K80 cards which have a double precision speed of 1.43 and 2.91 teraFLOPS respectively and a single precision speed of 4.29 and 8.74 teraFLOPS respectively. In short, the P100 is insanely fast.
While GeForce GPUs based on the Pascal architecture will be quite different to the GP100 in the Tesla P100, it bodes very well for when these GPUs are also released later this year.
7. Free games with GeForce
NVIDIA has launched a new free game offer, giving away a free copy of Rise of the Tomb Raider with GeForce GTX 960 graphics cards when bought from Scan. Visit our website for more details on this great promotion.
8. Introducing the AMD Radeon Duo Pro graphics card
The rumours that have been circulating about a new AMD dual-GPU graphics card for several months have finally turned into reality. The new card, the Radeon Pro Duo is scheduled for release in late April and will feature two Fiji GPUs each with 4GB of HBM memory and support for up to four displays.
AMD hasn’t said whether the Pro Duo will use the full Fiji XT GPU as used in the Fury X and R9 Nano cards with 4096 stream processors or the cut-down Fiji Pro used in the Fury card with 3584 stream processors, but I suspect it will be later as historically dual-GPU cards have used cut-down GPUs to keep their power and cooling in check. Speaking of power, the Duo Pro has three 8-pin PCI-E power sockets so it’ll need a beefy PSU. As you might imagine for such a hefty card, its watercooled, so hopefully won’t be too loud.
AMD is aiming the Duo Pro both at gamers and graphics professionals, and claiming a processing speed of 16 teraFLOPS which if single precision and if true makes the new card insanely fast. Keep checking the Scan website for more details including confirmed pricing over the next few weeks.
9. EVGA launches its first gaming laptop
Best known for its graphics cards and power supplies, EVGA has taken the bold move of designing its own gaming laptop – the SC17. Powered by an Intel Core i7 6820HK which can be overclocked at the touch of a button, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M graphics, a 4K IPS screen, 32GB of DDR4 memory, a 256GB NVME PCI-E SSD and a 1TB HDD the SC17 ticks a lot of the boxes for a high-end gaming laptop. With its aluminium finish and backlit keyboard the SC17 looks great too and is bundled with some intuitive Windows software for overclocking the CPU and GPU. You can check out the EVGA SC17 in more detail on our website.
10. Scan Pro Video spring update
Spring has sprung and for media and entertainment pros the world over that means it’s nearly time for the NAB show. The annual expo held in the sun-scorched Nevada desert, is the launch-pad for manufacturers to unleash their latest technology innovations. Scan will be reporting daily from the show floor on all the trending kit.
But it’s already been a busy 2016 for Scan Pro Video.
At the BVE show in February we demonstrated native 4K workflow with our Evolve series ofNLE workstations. Powered by NVIDIA Quadro graphics cards our systems were a big hit with editors and colourists looking for outstanding performance and reliability. And we’ve been keeping our eye on other hot new trends.
Our Pro Video team aims to connect creatives with the latest tech tools that help you ‘tell the story’ in new and engaging ways. As evidenced by the popularity of the Yuneec Typhoon quadcopter simulator and the HTC Vive VR demo in the Scan showroom, there’s no doubt that the buzz this year is all around aerial photography, VR and immersive filmmaking technology. Our customers need to deliver fresh and exciting projects so we scour the globe in search of the best content creation tools, from iPhoneography to Hollywood digital cinema, and as part of our search we visited CES and BSC and brought home some very cool kit. The FLY360 action camera brings affordable 360 degree video to your productions, and with our range of ready to fly 4K quad-copters fromYuneec, Scan customers can now get that ‘impossible shot’ straight out of the box.
Scan support responsible and safe UAV flying. For more info on certification to fly your drone commercially please contact your local CAA approved UAV training provider.
11. Baby Bear comes out to play
Drones and VR are trending, but last week there was an announcement that was music to our ears; the much anticipated Blackmagic Design URSA mini 4.6K Digital Film Camera is now shipping. We’ll be taking delivery of our demo EF Mini to sit alongside her siblings in the Scan 4K studio. Book a hands-on demo or order yours today.
Cameras continue to evolve at a dramatic rate, and no doubt NAB 2016 will deliver more bombshells in that department, but one thing stays constant: the need for high quality optics, which is why we are a Schneider-Kreuznach certified premium reseller.
It doesn’t make sense to pair a high performance large sensor camera, such as the URSA mini 4.6K, with third-rate lenses. Here at Scan Pro Video we understand that the quality of your glass can make or break the image. Fanfare please! Enter the Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon FF-Prime series of cine lenses. Priced to own, Schneider cine lenses are rugged tools with brilliant image quality, purpose built for digital cinematography and DSLR cameras at 4K resolution and beyond. Available in 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm and 100mm focal lengths at a constant T2.1, these full-frame cine lenses, available in EF, PL, Sony-E and Nikon mount, are an investment that will outlast generations of changing camera technology. As a Schneider-Kruznach certified premium reseller, Scan Pro Video offers on-site/off-site demo facilities and full pre/post-sales support. Watch out in April, when filmmaker Jim Marks will be joining us for a ‘Masterclass in Glass’ webinar live from the Scan 4K studio.
12. Scan appointed Manfrotto Select Partner
Scan Pro Video is proud to announce that we are a Manfrotto Select Partner, giving our customers access to a wider range of quality camera support equipment, lighting kit and camera protection. The Manfrotto badge is a marque that represents exceptional build quality, innovative design and Italian styling and is a trusted name with photographers and filmmakers worldwide.
As always you can keep up to date with all the latest news from Pro Video through the Pro Video Blog, or via the socials @ScanProVideo or facebook/ScanProVideo.
Are you a Pro filmmaker? Digital content creator? Film student? We’d love to hear from you. For workflow support, demo request or general pro video enquiries please email firstname.lastname@example.org.