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Intel brings i9 to laptops

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Intel last week unveiled a mobile range of its powerful Core i9 series processors. The new line-up brings desktop performance to laptops, writes BRYAN TURNER.

Since Intel’s announcement of the first Core i9 processors in early 2017, consumers have considered it to be desktop-exclusive, because of the power it requires to operate. At a global event in Beijing, Intel claimed that the Core i9 series for laptops will deliver the best gaming and content creation that the market has ever seen.

The new 8th generation Core i9, i7, and i5 processors for laptops are based on the Coffee Lake platform, which brings up to 41% more frames per second in gameplay and a 59% speed increase in rendering 4K video, compared to the previous Kaby Lake mobile processors.

The new processors compete directly with AMD’s mobile lineup. Last year’s launch of the AMD Ryzen series of processors gave Intel’s rival a massive lead in mobile processing power.

The top-of-the-range Core i9 for laptop processors are the first mobile processors to use 6 cores and 12 threads.

This means that software can make use of an additional 2 cores and 4 threads, compared to the previous top-of-the-range Core i7 series. This translates into more processing power and faster performance.

This level of processing will only be economically viable to consumers who need to make heavy use of mobile gaming or video editing while on the go. Intel also only allows utilisation of the processor’s full 4.8GHz if the laptop is in a well-ventilated area and is plugged in to charge. Without this, Intel’s Thermal Velocity Boost will not kick in.

The 8th generation Core i5+, i7+, and i9+ processors represent the Intel Core extension platform, which allows external chipsets to develop Intel-approved processor extensions for specific applications. This extension platform is powered by Intel’s Optane memory extension, which provides on-demand acceleration of everyday tasks. 

The implementation of Optane memory in the previous generation of processors has shown a browser launch speed increase of up to 5 times and a Microsoft Office program launch speed increase of up to 3.8 times. This high performance is described by Intel as revolutionary, because acceleration is exclusively on-demand and does not affect the battery life of the laptop.

Intel is shifting a large amount of its processor attention to mobile computing, as the demand grows for mobile gaming and streaming those games from non-desktop environments. This shift in attention has been welcomed by the PC gaming industry, says Intel, as it has a track record of delivering sharp and immersive graphics experiences on desktop computers.

However, gaming is not the focus of Intel’s offerings for the Core i9 for laptop processors. Editing and rendering of 4K video, digital publications, digital art, and other digital content creation have quickly moved to the mobile space. Creators of this content are finding themselves less and less behind desktop computers and interacting with their colleagues and clients on the go. Intel is tapping into this market with the Core i9’s graphics delivery, with desktop-grade VR experiences on a mobile device.

Intel’s chipsets have also been improved, with the introduction of the Intel 300 Series Chipset, bringing on-board gigabit AC Wi-Fi. This chipset has a Wi-Fi transceiver that is twice as fast as the previous series chipset. This is huge step forward for local area networks which need to transfer files quickly, but the average home network infrastructure will not yet be able to maximize this chip’s potential. For example, MWEB’s current offering of gigabit fibre-to-the-home, which will match the Wi-Fi card’s speed, costs R2500 per month – unlikely to gain much consumer uptake in the short term.

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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