31 May 2016

Standard Chartered to raise minimum brokerage charge to S$10 per trade

Standard Chartered Online Brokerage has been one of the favourite brokerage by most traders. This is because SCB offers a no. minimum commission charge for any buy or sell orders.

That is to say, you can now save costs by buying a 100 shares as it won't slap you with a minimum charge of S$25 to S$27.50 depending on brokerage house. Not only that the commision is also lower at 0.18% or 0.20% compared to 0.25% to 0.275/0.28% on other brokerages.

Unfortunately, this is coming to an end in Jul 2016. From 1st August 2016, Standard Chartered will be charging personal banking customers of SGD 10, HKD100 or USD 10 for various trades in the respective currencies.

The brokerage fee remains at 0.18% for Priority Customer and 0.20% for Personal Banking Clients.

Shares bought using the SCB platform is custodian by Standard Chartered and you cannot sell it through other brokers as the shares are not held by CDP.. Custodian fees is remain FREE.

Alternatively, you can transfer your shares out to another broker if you feel that you can get a better fee than Standard Chart. Let me know if you know of any.



09 May 2016

Review of Seagate SSHD 1TB (32GB NAND) Drive ST1000LX001

Review of Seagate SSHD 1TB (32GB NAND) Drive ST1000LX001
hdtvsg 2 May 2016

Seagate is one of the first to pioneer hybrid drives. In fact, the first hybrid drive comes with a 8GB NAND flash that functions as a cache. Seagate calls such drives Solid State Hybrid Drive.
With the price of NAND flash coming down, Seagate introduces a newer version of the Hybrid drive that surpasses the previous generation in terms of performance with a 4X increase in the amount of flash memory.
This new SSHD comes with 1TB of Hard drive and a 32GB NAND Flash in a 2.5" drive at 9.5mm thickness. This new drive is targeted in replacing single bay aging notebooks HDD as it boosts performance in terms of boot time, application loading etc. With the lower cost per Terabyte, users can store larger files or archives while enjoying better performance over traditional HDDs.
Seagate DiscWizard (which should be a Acronis OEM) for Windows allows one to clone your existing HDD to the new HDD with ease.
As Seagate SSHD utilises Adaptive Memory Technology that tracks data usage and prioritises data for faster access in the NAND flash. It is transparent to the end user. There is no need to install additional drivers for the Operating System. Thus the drive will function just like any conventional HDD in a PC, MAC or PS/4.
In the next few pages, we will take a look at the specifications and benchmarks, comparing it as an upgrade option to existing notebook HDD.

The Seagate SSHD ST1000LX001

The ST1000LX001 looks no different from a traditional 2.5" HDD. The only difference is the internals as it comes with a 32GB NAND and serves like a cache for commonly accessed files. That is through this adaptive technology, it is able to speed up access to applications, games and file access.


IMG_20160416_192124 copy IMG_20160416_192132 copy seagate internals

Specifications

Seagate-Laptop-SSHD-1TB-32GB-NAND-specs

Benchmarking

To test the Hybrid drive, we compared it with our old Seagate Momentus 7200.4 7200RPM 500GB HDD which came with the HP Envy 14 notebook.
  • HP ENVY 14
  • 6GB SODIMM DDR3-1333
  • ATi Radeon Mobility HD 5450
  • Seagate ST9500420AS 7200.4 Mementus HDD 500GB
  • Seagate ST1000LX001 SSHD 1000GB
In our first tests, we will use the commonly used HDD Benchmark test CrystalMarkInfo and ATTO

CrystalDiskMark on Seagate SSHD

The CrystalDiskMark gives a rough gauge of the performance of HDD or SSD with 5 runs of the tests in Sequential read/write and random 4K tests. The results are thus the average of the 5 runs.
As we can see from the results below, the SSHD is faster in terms of sequential read and write. This is probably due to the large cache of 32GB NAND. The numbers show that it is  56% faster in sequential read and 42% faster in Sequential Write for Q32T1 tests.
As adaptive caching will boost performance in commonly accessed files, this might not be so for random reads and writes. As it is reflected in the numbers below, the differences aren't just a few percentage points away.
CrystalDiskMark of Seagate SSHD
CrystalDiskMark of Seagate SSHD
CrystalDiskMark of Seagate 7200.4 HDD
CrystalDiskMark of Seagate 7200.4 HDD

ATTO Disk Benchmark on Seagate SSHD

Although both screen shots appeared slightly different, the numbers are comparable for 8K to 8MB tests for read and write speeds.
Again, the Seagate Hybrid drive performs better than the HDD. At 8MB block, the score is 120MB/s and 92MB/s for read and write versus that of 89MB/s and 92MB/s for read and write on the older HDD.
atto benchmark
ATTO Benchmark for Seagate SSHD
ATTO Benchmark for Seagate 7200.4
ATTO Benchmark for Seagate 7200.4

PC MARK 7 Benchmarks on Seagate SSHD

PC Mark 7 is a commonly benchmark suite for testing overall PC performance. It can also be used to do sub level tests targeting the IO, Graphics, Disk Performance etc.
In this test, we focused on the Secondary HDD test suite of PC Mark 7. This test will run the suite of test 3 times and log down the time taken and an average score will be generated.
As the SSHD uses adaptive caching, we should be able to see an improved speed.
Here is our result :
secondary storage speed test

As we can see, for both Raw secondary storage and secondary storage,  The traditional HDD only scored 341 vs 1397 on the SSHD, 309% improvement. In Secondary Storage, the scores are 3436 versus 1614, a 112% improvement over the conventional HDD.
Let's take a look at the detail scores for one of the tests for Gaming.
The left hand column are test results on the Seagate momentus 7200.4 HDD and the right column is the scores for the Hybrid drive.
The final score is 4.5MB/s vs 11.23MB/s
If we look carefully at the three iterations of the tests, The first column shows that the three tests gives an almost consistent score of 4.5MB/s. As for the tests done on the Hybrid drive, the scores were 8.81MB/s, 12.13MB/s and 12.75MB/s in the 3 iterations.
Secondary storage - gaming / Secondary storage - gamingSecondary storage - gaming / Secondary storage - gaming
4.5019 MB/s11.23373 MB/s
Secondary storage - gaming iteration 1Secondary storage - gaming iteration 1
4.49132 MB/s8.81735 MB/s
Secondary storage - gaming iteration 2Secondary storage - gaming iteration 2
4.52141 MB/s12.13458 MB/s
Secondary storage - gaming iteration 3Secondary storage - gaming iteration 3
4.49298 MB/s12.74925 MB/s


Real time workload tests on Seagate SSHD

In our real world tests, we did 4 simple tests on both drives. They are Windows 10 Boot up time, OpenOffice Write Launch time, OpenOffice Writer loading 7 documents total 116MB (selecting all, drag and drop) and Paint.net (opening of 2 TIFs by drag and drop) total 413MB.

Windows 10 Boot Up Time

We test the two drives using the smartphone's stop watch to time the boot up time of the Windows 10. The timings were taken starting after we press the button button on the notebook till the Windows 10 login screen appears.
The orange bar indicate the timings of our old HDD and the yellow is the Hybrid drive.
The system was shut down in between the 3 rounds of tests.
As we can see the original HDD took 32s, 21.95s, 20s to boot up. As for the Hybrid drive, we can see it almost halved to 17s in the first boot. The subsequent timings are 14s and 15.35s which are still 5s faster than the hard disk.
windows 10 boot up time
As for OpenOffice Writer, we time it once we click on the icon and stop after the menus appear. The timings are taken thrice. The HDD in this case took 4.41s, 4.7s, 3.39s in 3 tries. As for our Hybrid drive,  the timings are shaved down to 1.59s from the 1st try of 3.12s.
It is 41% faster on first try and 113% faster on the third try. The speed improvement is quite apparent.
openoffice write launch timing
Upon opening of the Writer, 7 documents DOCX files were loaded and timed from start to completion. The timings show that the Hybrid drive on the 3rd run is almost 3s ahead of the HDD. That is an 18% improvement.
openoffice writer loading time
We load 2 TIF image files into the PAINT.NET application and timed the duration it takes to open both TIF files.
Again, we see that in the 3 runs, the HDD takes almost the same timing at 9s, but on the third run for the test on Hyrbid HDD, the time taken has sped up to 7.1s. That is a 27% speed improvement using the Hybrid HDD.
paint net open two 2 files

Conclusion

The Seagate SSHD Hybrid HDD is definitely an innovative product that marries fast speed NAND with conventional HDD to give it speed boost. This is especially important as Hard Disk has been the proven and tested platform for data storage over decades.
With the advancement of technology, photos taken using smartphone or cameras aren't that small in size. Videos taken in HD, 4K will require a higher capacity drive and a HDD provides that capacity and safer storage compared to SSD in a single unit.
Yes SSD provides the speed of access, but that is at the expense of higher capacity. With the NAND flash built into the HDD, it somewhat bridges the needs for faster speed and higher capacity but at a lower price.
At the moment, a 1TB SSD, costs around USD 300 while this Seagate SSHD 1TB ST1000LX001 only costs USD 116. That is almost 33% of a same size SSD.
I would recommend this product for notebook users who needs that extra HDD space as it is less pricey and offers a safer storage solution with a 5 years warranty. (Can your SSD last you 5 years ? )

07 May 2016

G.SKILL Introduces 5 New Color Schemes to Trident Z Series DDR4 Memory

G.SKILL Introduces 5 New Color Schemes to Trident Z Series DDR4 Memory

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Taipei, Taiwan (6 May 2016) – G.SKILL International Enterprise Co., Ltd., the world’s leading manufacturer of extreme performance memory and gaming peripherals, is introducing 5 new color schemes to the highly popular extreme performance Trident Z series to select specifications. Aside from the classic Trident Z design of silver and black brushed aluminum heatspreader with a red top-bar highlight, the new color schemes include a black brushed aluminum body paired with orange, yellow, or white top-bar or a silver brushed aluminum body with white or black top-bar.

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With a rise in popularity of modding and cases with window designs, these 5 new Trident Z color schemes are developed for enthusiasts, gamers, and modders who not only wish to include high performance memory in their systems, but also to add attractive visual appeal and show off their unique selection of hardware. Available in yellow, orange, white, and black highlights, these new color schemes pair exceedingly well with modern motherboard designs based on the X99 and Z170 chipsets.

These new colors are expected to be available at the end of May 2016. At launch, the new color schemes will be available in select specifications only. Please see the chart below for details.




NVIDIA Introduces GeForce GTX 1080

NVIDIA today announced the NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1080 -- the first gaming GPU based on the company's new Pascal™ architecture -- providing up to 2x more performance in virtual reality compared to the GeForce GTX TITAN X.1
Pascal offers massive leaps in performance, memory bandwidth and power efficiency over its predecessor, the high-performance Maxwell™ architecture. And it introduces groundbreaking graphics features and technologies that redefine the PC as the ultimate platform for playing AAA games and enjoying virtual reality.
"The PC is the world's favorite gaming platform, and our new Pascal GPU architecture will take it to new heights," said Jeff Fisher, senior vice president of NVIDIA's PC business. "Our first Pascal gaming GPU, the GeForce GTX 1080, enables incredible realism in gaming and deeply immersive VR experiences, with dramatically improved performance and efficiency. It's the most powerful gaming GPU ever built, and some of our finest work."
Five Marvels of PascalNVIDIA engineered the Pascal architecture to handle the massive computing demands of technologies like VR. It incorporates five transformational technologies:
  • Next-Gen GPU Architecture. Pascal is optimized for performance per watt. The GTX 1080 is 3x more power efficient than the Maxwell Architecture.
  • 16nm FinFET Process. The GTX 1080 is the first gaming GPUs designed for the 16nm FinFET process, which uses smaller, faster transistors that can be packed together more densely. Its 7.2 billion transistors deliver a dramatic increase in performance and efficiency.
  • Advanced Memory. Pascal-based GPUs are the first to harness the power of 8GB of Micron's GDDR5X memory. The 256-bit memory interface runs at 10Gb/sec., helping to drive 1.7x higher effective memory bandwidth than that delivered by regular GDDR5.
  • Superb Craftsmanship. Increases in bandwidth and power efficiency allow the GTX 1080 to run at clock speeds never before possible -- over 1700 MHz -- while consuming only 180 watts of power. New asynchronous compute advances improve efficiency and gaming performance. And new GPU Boost™ 3 technology supports advanced overclocking functionality.
  • Groundbreaking Gaming Technology. NVIDIA is changing the face of gaming from development to play to sharing. New NVIDIA VRWorks™ software features let game developers bring unprecedented immersiveness to gaming environments. NVIDIA's Ansel™ technology lets gamers share their gaming experiences and explore gaming worlds in new ways.
"We were blown away by the performance and features of the GTX 1080," said Tim Sweeney, founder of Epic Games. "We took scenes from our Paragon game cinematics that were designed to be rendered offline, and rendered them in real time on GTX 1080. It's mind-blowing and we can't wait to see what developers create with UE4 and GTX 1080 in the world of games, automotive design, or architectural visualization -- for both 2D screens and for VR."
VRWorks: A New Level of Presence for VRTo fully immerse users in virtual worlds, the enhanced NVIDIA VRWorks software development kit offers a never before experienced level of "VR presence." It combines what users see, hear and touch with the physical behavior of the environment to convince them that their virtual experience is real.
  • 2x VR Graphics Performance: VRWorks Graphics now includes a simultaneous multi-projection capability that renders natively to the unique dimensions of VR displays instead of traditional, 2D monitors. It also renders geometry for the left and right eyes simultaneously in a single pass.
  • Enveloping Audio: VRWorks Audio uses the NVIDIA OptiX™ ray-tracing engine to trace the path of sounds across an environment in real time, fully reflecting the size, shape and material of the virtual world.
  • Interactive Touch and Physics: NVIDIA PhysX® for VR detects when a hand controller interacts with a virtual object, and enables the game engine to provide a physically accurate visual and haptic response. It also models the physical behavior of the virtual world around the user so that all interactions -- whether an explosion or a hand splashing through water -- behave as if in the real world.
NVIDIA has integrated these technologies into a new VR experience called VR Funhouse.
"GeForce GTX 1080 promises to be the ultimate graphics card for experiencing EVE: Valkyrie," said Hilmar Veigar P├ętursson, CEO of CCP Games. "We are looking forward to bringing NVIDIA's new VRWorks features to Valkyrie to take the game's visuals and performance to another level."
Ansel: Capturing the Artistry of GamingNVIDIA also announced Ansel, a powerful game capture tool that allows gamers to explore, capture and share the artistry of gaming in ways never before possible.
With Ansel, gamers can compose the gameplay shots they want, pointing the camera in any direction and from any vantage point within a gaming world. They can capture screenshots at up to 32x screen resolution, and then zoom in where they choose without losing fidelity. With photo-filters, they can add effects in real time before taking the perfect shot. And they can capture 360-degree stereo photospheres for viewing in a VR headset or Google Cardboard.
Availability and PricingThe NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 "Founders Edition" will be available on May 27 for $699. It will be available from ASUS, Colorful, EVGA, Gainward, Galaxy, Gigabyte, Innovision 3D, MSI, NVIDIA. Palit, PNY and Zotac. Custom boards from partners will vary by region and pricing is expected to start at $599.
The GeForce GTX 1080 will also be sold in fully configured systems from leading U.S.-based system builders, including AVADirect, Cyberpower, Digital Storm, Falcon Northwest, Geekbox, IBUYPOWER, Maingear, Origin PC, Puget Systems, V3 Gaming and Velocity Micro, as well as system integrators outside North America.
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 "Founders Edition" will be available on June 10 for $449. Custom boards from partners are expected to start at $379.
More information on the GeForce GTX 1080 and 1070 is available at www.geforce.com.
Ansel will be available in upcoming releases and patches of games such as Tom Clancy's The DivisionThe WitnessLawbreakersThe Witcher 3ParagonNo Man's SkyObduction, Fortnite and Unreal Tournament.

02 May 2016

Japan might intervene with JPY

Japan's finance minister has warned the recent sharp rise in the yen is "extremely worrying", adding Tokyo will take action when necessary.

The remarks, which suggest Tokyo's possible market intervention, came after the Japanese unit surged to an 18-month high against the dollar in New York on Friday.

It extended the previous day's rally, which was boosted by a surprising monetary decision made by the Bank of Japan (BoJ).

On Thursday, the central bank shocked markets by failing to provide more stimulus, confounding expectations it would act after a double earthquake and a string of weak readings on the world's number three economy.

The dollar tumbled to 106.31 yen in New York at the end of last week, its lowest level since October 2014, from 108.11 yen.

The greenback had bought 111.78 yen in Tokyo before the BoJ announcement on Thursday.
Haruhiko Kuroda, Bank of Japan Governor "The yen strengthened by five yen in two days. Obviously one-sided and biased, so-called speculative moves are seen behind it," said Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso.

"It is extremely worrying," he said. The finance minister left on a trip, which will also take him to an annual Asian Development Bank meeting in Germany. "Tokyo will continue watching the market trends carefully and take actions when necessary," he added. A strong currency is damaging for Japan's exporting giants, such as Toyota and Sony, as it makes their goods more expensive overseas and shrinks the value of repatriated profits. Aso has reiterated that Japan could intervene in forex markets to stem the unit's steep rise, saying moves to halt the currency's "one-sided, speculative" rally would not breach a G20 agreement to avoid competitive currency devaluations. Japan last intervened in currency markets around November 2011, when it tried to stem the yen's rise against the greenback to keep an economic recovery on track after the quake-tsunami disaster earlier that year.






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