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Asus has announced a brand-new successor to the first-ever Nvidia Max-Q gaming laptop, the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501. This one is known as the Zephyrus S GX531, and it’s substantially thinner than before.

With that in mind, the Asus ROG Zephyrus S GX531 isn’t the powerhouse that the original model was. Currently only Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or 1070 graphics options are available here – and both are in the Max-Q design that allows for thinner laptop hardware.

The idea is to bring a similar, if slightly inferior, level of power to a device that’s even more portable. To that end, the Zephyrus S measures 14.95mm at its thinnest point, while the original model comes in at 16.9mm. This, by Asus’s measure, makes it the world’s thinnest gaming laptop yet again.

The weight of the Zephyrus S is an impressively-light 4.63 pounds (2.1kg)

The new Zephyrus keeps the 144Hz display of its predecessor while updating the platform to the hexa-core Intel Core i7-8750H processor – one the latest and most powerful available.

Asus also claims to have improved the laptop’s thermals even further by refining its Active Aerodynamic System, which opens vents that widen as the users lifts the screen when opening the laptop.

Asus achieved all of this in a laptop that’s not only thinner but smaller in width, thanks to narrower bezels than ever producing a 15.6-inch screen within a 14-inch laptop frame. 

If you’re interested, both Zephyrus S models will be up for pre-order in the US on August  31, with the GTX 1070 variety generally available September 15 starting at $ 2,199 (about AU$ 3,038). The entry-level GTX 1060 model with a 1TB NVMe SSD will land in mid-October at $ 2,099 (about AU$ 2,938).

This model will be the only model available in the UK, and will be available from mid October for £1,999.99.

Asus ROG Strix Scar II GL704

The Asus ROG Strix Scar II GL704 barely looks like a 17-inch gaming laptop.

Also introducing ... the smallest 17-inch gaming laptop

Asus has also unveiled the Asus ROG Strix Scar II GL704, which it calls the ‘most compact 17-inch gaming laptop.’ Fitting a 17.3-inch screen into a 15.7-inch laptop frame, this model employs a similar thinning of its bezels as the new Zephyrus.

Like the Zephyrus, this laptop fits all of Asus’s usual features, like Aura Sync RGB keyboard and system lighting as well as a HyperCool Pro cooling system. The laptop then proceeds to cram it with the latest in gaming laptop hardware.

Specifically, your choice between the latest 8th-generation Intel H-series Core i5 and i7 processors paired with an Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics chip. From there, the laptop supports up to 32GB of DDR4 memory at 2,666MHz as well as up to a 1TB SSHD at 5,400 rpm, a 1TB spinning HDD at up to 7,200 rpm and an NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD at up to 512GB of capacity for storage.

The display comes in 4K UHD or 1,920 x 1,080 resolution at either 60Hz or 144Hz refresh rate. It also features a bevy of ports, including one USB-C port and four USB 3.1 ports with one being Generation 2.

This laptop also marks the debut of Asus’s new Armoury Crate software, which unites all of the firm’s gaming PC software into a single app. From here, players can assign lighting and macro profiles to games as well as fan speed settings from Turbo to Balanced and Silent.

Asus is charging $ 1,699 (£1,699.99, about AU$ 2,345) for an ROG Strix Scar II with the 144hz display option, the Intel Core i7-8750H processor, 16GB of memory and a 1TB (5,400 rpm) paired with two 256GB SSDs when it launches in late September (or mid October in the UK). The firm has yet to disclose the starting spec and price as well as international availability.

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Anonymous sources speaking to DigiTimes claim that Apple will launch its long-rumored, entry-level MacBook 2018 model this September alongside new iPhones and iPads as well as details regarding the AirPower wireless charger release.

The MacBook will be supposedly be priced at $ 1,200 in the US when it releases later this year industry sources have told DigiTimes. Last we heard from a previous report, the MacBooks release date will fall sometime in October. Judging from previous releases, this should amount to around £1,149 and about AU$ 1,799.

Rumors and reports up until this point have forecasted Apple releasing a successor to the original MacBook or MacBook Air that would emulate either product’s price point. As you know, old entry-level MacBooks and MacBook Air models costed $ 999 and $ 799, respectively.

Either a four-digit price is something Apple actually considers affordable to the wider public, or this laptop isn’t designed to be entry-level at all. Unfortunately, we know nothing more about this laptop’s capabilities that would hint toward either circumstance – aside from the fact that will come running Intel’s latest Kaby Lake processors.

The processor piece is an interesting point in itself, as DigiTimes’s sources claim that Apple had originally planned to ship this model with Intel’s endlessly-delayed 10-nanometer Canon Lake chips. With those now set to start shipping in mid-2019, Apple opted to launch with the 14nm Kaby Lake chips rather than delay the refresh by another year.

DigiTimes also quickly mentions an affordable 13-inch MacBook was planned for a late 2017 release, but has been delayed due to Intel pushing back its 10nm processor release.

With this new information, we frankly can’t wait to see where these fit in Apple’s laptop lineup, especially this slightly cheaper 12-inch refresh.

New iPads are incoming, too

In the same report, DigiTimes’s sources say that Apple will also debut two new iPad Pro tablets at its September, iPhone-led event. One model will be a straight update to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, while the other will be an 11-inch tablet to replace the 10.5-inch iPad Pro.

Both of these new pro-grade iPads will reportedly, at last, use USB-C charging ports rather than Lightning, paired with 18W power adapters for faster charging. We’ve seen Apple widely adopt USB-C in its laptops and desktops, and with iPad Pro line being more tangential to those devices, we could totally see USB-C being used here.

Finally, Apple’s September iPhone event could be wherein we get the launch schedule for the AirPower wireless charging pad. According to DigiTimes’s sources, it will debut at around $ 193 (about £145, AU$ 258).

What is normally an iPhone-focused event is looking to become an Apple product smorgasbord.

  • These are the best Macs we’ve tested to date

Via AppleInsider

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Western Digital sent shockwaves around the hardware world last year when it announced support for the open-source RISC-V platform.

Although still an upstart in the market, RISC-V has been quickly gaining momentum as an alternative to hardware from the likes of AMD or Intel, leading many firms to sign up.

So why is WD throwing its weight behind RISC-V? We spoke to company CTO Martin Fink to find out more.

Why did WD, a storage company, decide to actively back the RISC-V architecture?

The primary reason Western Digital is migrating to RISC-V is to expedite the ability to innovate.  

As data workloads are evolving, new requirements surrounding data are generated.  We not only need to store data, we need to extract value from the data as quickly as possible. The “general-purpose” architectures that have been in use for decades are just that, general purpose. These legacy general-purpose built architectures are not conducive for supporting the needs of these dynamic workloads. Due to the proprietary nature of these general-purpose architectures, we cannot easily make the changes needed to optimize for these new workloads.  

Today’s new Big Data and Fast Data workloads require a more specialized purpose-built architecture so that we are able to add value as close to the data source as possible. RISC-V gives us the flexibility and power to freely innovate and develop products that optimally support the new workloads of today and in the future. 

By bringing compute closer to data, what is WD trying to achieve?

The number of deployed devices capturing data in the world is growing at a staggering rate. The sheer volume of this data is requiring efficient and meaningful processing. As we bring compute power closer to data, customers will be able to minimize data movement at the edge and within their data centers, optimizing processing that is based on location, workload or a time-value need. 

WD has announced that it will be doubling the number of cores sold (up to 2bn), how do you plan to achieve that?

We currently consume over one billion processor cores on an annual basis across our product portfolio. The number of cores consumed is expected to grow over time. This will be a result of growth in the amount of specialized compute being done closer to the edge where the data lives. As we develop new products going forward, we will be using RISC-V based cores. 

Compared to ARM and x86, do you see RISC-V as the Linux equivalent of ISAs?

Yes, RISC-V is much like Linux as they both create an open source solution to proprietary legacy solutions. Both have evolved in an effort to provide the freedom to innovate and lower costs.  

What needs to be done, in your opinion, to grow RISC-V as a viable alternative to the two other ISAs?

The key to growing RISC-V lies in the development of the ecosystem. We are seeing a significant growth in the ecosystem in the last year, but we need to accelerate the pace of this growth. We are happy to see other companies, like SiFive, jumping in to also drive expansion and awareness. 

Who do you see as being the most important audiences addressed by RISC-V as a platform?

This is difficult, there are so many areas that will benefit from the use of RISC-V.  

One of the main areas that we are seeing get significant traction is in the area of edge computing. Other areas include, but are not limited to autonomous cars, surveillance, and artificial intelligence/machine learning. There are more and more specialized applications popping up every day that are requiring purpose-built architectures. These new applications would be constrained by the legacy proprietary general-purpose architectures. The processing needs of these applications need to be fine-tuned. RISC-V eliminates the proprietary constraints and enables the freedom to innovate to maximize efficiencies as close to the source of the data as possible. 

Big data applications such as analytics and machine learning require petabytes of storage and operates in a more batch style processing environment.  Conversely, fast data applications like security, event correlation, and block chain tend to require large memory and specialized compute. Again, the RISC-V ISA provides the flexibility to enable the development of solutions to optimize for these applications. 

Martin Fink is CTO of Western Digital

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Back in April, game maker and online retailer Valve promised that it wasn’t finished with its Steam Machine PC gaming platform, determined to create the alternative to Microsoft’s Windows. Now, Valve has found a shortcut: emulating Windows games.

Clever Reddit users have uncovered within the Steam client’s graphical user interface files, via a ‘Steam Tracker’ through the GitHub open source code base, references to an unannounced ‘Steam Play’ system for essentially emulating games that weren’t built for Valve’s own Linux-based SteamOS operating system (OS), ArsTechnica reports.

"Steam Play will automatically install compatibility tools that allow you to play games from your library that were built for other operating systems,” the uncovered text reads.

While you can certainly play games on a Mac, there’s really only one other OS for playing PC games, and that’s Windows – particularly Windows 10.

The uncovered text goes on to suggest that this Steam Play function will offer both official and unofficial compatibility through the tools it provides, which is suspected to be based on the Wine emulator, which allows Windows apps to run in Linux. 

For playing Steam games from your library that aren’t officially made compatible with SteamOS, you can always try it out yourself with the existing tools, but Valve warns against its use possibly causing crashes and lost save files.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em ... sort of?

This move to essentially emulate Windows games both officially and unofficially would certainly bring better parity between the game libraries available on SteamOS and Windows, though it’s rather subversive.

Before this discovery, Valve seemed intent on inspiring PC game developers to use the open source Vulkan graphics application programming interface by Khronos Group, rather than the Windows-exclusive DirectX tools that all, but dominate the industry. This would eventually make more PC games compatible with Linux, especially SteamOS.

Well, clearly that is taking too long, and so Valve looks to be trying out a shortcut. However, shortcuts almost always have their pitfalls. Here, it’s that emulation always requires a certain amount of additional processing power to drive the emulated environment in which the app operates.

This could in turn require more powerful, and therefore more expensive, hardware to run emulated games on a Steam Machine to achieve a similar experience to playing on a Windows PC. This would in turn fly in the face of Valve’s original position of Steam Machines being generally cheaper to buy and own than Windows PCs, on account of the free OS.

Faster pickup of Vulkan could help alleviate this, but it likely won’t be fast enough for Valve’s ambitions.

Of course, there is no indication by this leak that Valve intends to publicly release Steam Play or when it will for that matter. We could be waiting for months – or perhaps even years – to see Valve’s emulation solution come to SteamOS.

But, considering Valve’s current stance on “striving towards a competitive and open gaming platform,” as said back in April, and Valve founder and CEO Gabe Newell’s well-publicized resentment of Windows as it serves PC gamers, we can’t be that far off.

Via Engadget

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