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PC Magazine

PC Magazine May 2016

PC Magazine provides lab-tested reviews, detailed tips and how-tos, insightful feature stories, expert commentary, and the latest tech trends to help you at work, at home, and on the road. And for a limited time, we're offering a copy of Breakout: How Atari 8-Bit Computers Defined a Generation with new subscriptions. This brand-new book is all about what made Atari's computers great: excellent graphics and sound, flexible programming environment, and wide support.

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United States
Ziff Davis
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12 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
virtual reality is no 3d tv

There are three cardinal sins in technology journalism. The first is buying into the vendor-manufactured hype surrounding a new technology. Avoiding it isn’t easy. I was in many a room when Steve Jobs was pitching products, and he made you believe. The second sin is being so cynical about the industry that you lose sight of the fact that these innovations really are changing the world right before our eyes. The third sin, quite simply, is not knowing what you’re talking about. I’ve done my best to avoid all of these traps in my career, so believe me when I tell you that virtual reality is not the next 3D TV. In case you’ve forgotten, 3D television was one of the biggest technological flops of the last ten years. You wouldn’t…

2 min.
reader input

On the Case I really need to build a small PC due to extremely limited space. I want to pack in both 5.25- and 3.5-inch drives, without having any external stuff if at all possible. This is just what I want to build, a space away from my hubby and son who monopolize the big gaming PC in the family room. —Nancy Drew OUR ANSWER: This sounds like a terrific project, Nancy. The more computers, the merrier, I always say. Pretty much the best place to start when scoping out any build is Newegg.com. Beyond having an incredibly wide range of computer hardware for sale, it’s also one of the Web’s best research tools for learning anything you could want to know about it. Its product entries are loaded with useful spec information (and…

6 min.
intel’s “tick-tock” model is winding down

Nearly ten years ago, Intel formally unveiled the new design and manufacturing process it would use for its microprocessors. Before 2007, there was no exact, predictable alignment between the deployment of new manufacturing techniques at smaller process nodes and the debut of new architectures. From 2007 forward, Intel followed a distinct cadence: New process nodes would be designated as “ticks,” and new architectures built on the same process node would be called “tocks.” This approach ensured that Intel was never attempting to build a new CPU architecture at the same time it ramped a new process node, and gave the company almost a decade of steady (if slowing) progress. That era is over. In its recent 10-K filing, Intel stated the following: As part of our R&D efforts, we plan to introduce a…

5 min.
want a new video card? wait a few months

In early April, Nvidia took the wraps off of its new GP100 GPU and gave us a look at what its top-end high-performance computing (HPC) configuration would look like come early 2017. Although this new card is explicitly aimed at the scientific computing market and Nvidia has said nothing about future consumer products, the information the company revealed confirms some of what we’ve privately heard about next-generation GPUs from both AMD and Nvidia. If you’re shopping for a new video card or just eyeing the market in general, we’d recommend waiting at least a few more months before pulling the trigger. It may even be worth waiting until the end of the year based on what we now know is coming down the pipe. WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING (A NEW…

6 min.
resistive computing: based on the human brain

With the recent rapid advances in machine learning has come a renaissance for neural networks, computer software that solves problems similar to the way the human brain does: by employing a complex process of pattern matching distributed across many virtual nodes, or “neurons.” Modern compute power has enabled neural networks to recognize images, speech, and faces, as well as to pilot self-driving cars and win at Go and Jeopardy!. Most computer scientists think that is only the beginning of what will ultimately be possible. Unfortunately, the hardware we use to train and run neural networks looks almost nothing like their architecture. That means it can take days or even weeks to train a neural network to solve a problem—even on a compute cluster—and then require a large amount of power…

6 min.
drone aviation 101

When James Barnes was a boy, his most cherished outdoor hobbies were racing slot cars and shooting off model rockets. Determined to get a new generation of kids excited about these simple activities—and get them away from their smartphone screens—Barnes opened Jersey Hobby after he retired from a career in the construction industry. But although Barnes still sells model rockets at his store, they’re not the hottest products on the sales floor. What are? The devices that could (maybe) be considered their 21st-century equivalents: drones. Jersey Hobby has been offering drone classes for about a year. If you buy a ready-to-fly model from the store, you’ll get a free lesson on using it. An instructor walks you through downloading to your phone any apps that may be required, calibrating the aircraft’s…