Buying AMD wouldn’t fix Microsoft’s Surface Phone CPU problem (quickly enough)

Develop its own chips. This may not solve the issue of backwards compatibility, but it would give Microsoft more freedom to work through the problem. Developing chips, however, is costly, time-consuming, and not something Microsoft has much expertise in.

Source: The future of the Surface Phone is not looking good

The above article says the Surface Phone is in serious trouble because Intel killed its mobile x86 CPUs. At least one comment has suggested Microsoft should buy AMD to fix this. I disagree:

As much as I’d like MS to buy AMD, I don’t think that would solve *this particular problem.* AMD has no mobile x86 chips, & has been sucking at low power/high efficiency x86 for a while. Optimistically it would take 1 to 2 years to get an x86 SoC out of the AMD purchase, by which time UWP should (hopefully) be a sufficiently viable alternative to Win32 anyway.

A better option would be to push UWP and Centennial as hard as possible while maintaining Continuum and optimizing W10M for the Snapdragon 830.

That said, Surface tablets could use some AMD help. Adopting AMD’s APUs would fix the Surface line’s well documented GPU issues, at the expense of battery life (again, Intel rules at the latter).




How to fix CyberLink PowerDVD’s incompatible graphics card driver error on Windows 8.1

If you want Blu-ray playback, forget virtualization.

UPDATE: I recently ran into a

PowerDVD could not read a file on this disc.

error on Windows 8.1 Pro x64. The same disc wouldn’t play on Corel WinDVD Pro either. Shutting down the guest OS I had running in VMware Player Free and then closing the latter fixed the issue. I conclude from this that Blu-ray playback doesn’t work if anything virtualization related is enabled or running at the same time. This is probably due to copy protection requiring the player to lock the Blu-ray drive for exclusive access to the player, which may be problematic with VMs.

TL, DR: if you want Blu-ray playback, forget virtualization on the playback PC. Period.

Few things are more frustrating when high end technology you paid for suddenly fails you after working previously. This happened to me earlier today when I tried to play a Blockbuster The Pacific Disc 2 Blu-ray on my PC, only to be greeted by the following error:

Playback stopped because your graphics card driver is incompatible. Make sure it meets the minimum requirements. You can find additional information on the CyberLink FAW web site (code-0012).

Since I had the latest AMD Catalyst drivers installed – and you should too – this message made no sense. Running Cyberlink’s BD & 3D Advisor* utility as suggested produced this shocking output:

Yep, that's a nearly 2 year old graphics card showing up as "Unknown." I had a small nervous breakdown on seeing this.
Yep, that’s a nearly 2 year old graphics card showing up as “Unknown.” I had a small nervous breakdown on seeing this.

Oh yeah, that’s my Radeon HD 7870 showing up as “Unknown,” despite having been released in early 2012. So what’s going on here and how do you fix it?

Turns out there are two solutions to this problem, one of them free, the other quite expensive (we’re talking triple digits here). I’ll go through the free option first (thanks to Saba at CyberLink tech support):

Solution 1 (FREE as in beer): disable Hyper-V

This solution is “free” because you already have PowerDVD and don’t need to pay for anything else.

I guess Hyper-V breaks HDCP? The more you know ...
I guess Hyper-V breaks HDCP? The more you know …
  1. On the desktop, hold down Windows key + X.
  2. Click Control Panel.
  3. In the View by: drop down menu, select anything other than Category.
  4. Click Programs and Features.
  5. Click Turn Windows features on or off.
  6. In the window that pops up afterwards, uncheck the parent entry for Hyper-V.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Windows will prompt you to reboot, after which it will reboot twice before dumping you back at the log in screen.
  9. Log in and you should be able to play Blu-rays on PowerDVD again as before.

If you use Hyper-V a lot, the above solution might be annoying or distasteful for you, though. That’s where Solution 2 comes in:

Solution 2: SlySoft AnyDVD HD + Corel WinDVD Pro

With this method, you don’t have to disable Hyper-V at all, or even have HDCP compliant hardware. But it’ll cost you.

Good ol' SlySoft to rescue the Fair Use cause!
Good ol’ SlySoft to rescue the Fair Use cause!
  1. Download and install SlySoft AnyDVD HD. You get a 21 day free trial, but beyond that it’ll cost you anywhere from €63 to €119, with the most expensive option giving you lifetime support and updates. Considering that most paid Blu-ray playback software devs charge at least $45 new whole number releases, that’s a good deal.
  2. Download and install Corel WinDVD Pro. It comes with a 30 day free trial ($49.99 after), but you’ll have to register and may have to download a disc keys update file before you can use it. Just follow the prompts and you’ll be just fine.
  3. Start Slysoft AnyDVD HD.
  4. Right-click on the system tray icon
  5. Click Settings…
  6. Under the Video Blu-ray entry, check Enable Blu-ray support, Remove prohibited user operations, and Remove Blu-ray Region Code.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Start Corel WinDVD Pro.
  9. Click the directory icon.
  10. Click the icon marked Disc. The Blu-ray should play just fine.

Yes, there are free – as in beer – options for Blu-ray playback software, but as far as I know most of them lack the proper menu support of paid options. Daum PotPlayer’s UI – download from here, the official site is Korean(?) –  for one, is quite indecipherable. I also tried ArcSoft Total Media Theatre – at $90, the most expensive playback option – but it didn’t work. Go figure.

*Based on my experience, the Advisor’s only function is to inform tech support of your config, not to actually “advise” you of anything.

The ASUS PA248Q doesn’t play well with active adapters (Updated)

UPDATE: After experiencing a similar problem with my Dell U2713HM, I’ve concluded that the real issue isn’t with the monitors, but with the cable length. Basically, try to avoid anything over 6 feet long for DVI-D.

I don’t normally write entire blog posts on the shortcoming(s) of a particular product, but when implementing a simple setup takes 3+ weeks* it’s probably a good idea to write about it so others don’t make the same mistake(s). The short story here is that the ASUS PA248Q doesn’t play well with (mDP -> DVI) active adapters, so don’t bother trying to use them with the it.

The particular setup I tried was AMD Radeon 7870 -> StarTech mDP to DVI active adapter -> DVI cable -> PA248Q. This worked for about 5 minutes, after which the monitor would repeatedly go in and out of sleep, claiming it detected no signal. No amount of input cycling or power cycling of both the monitor and PC helped. I wound up having to connect the PA248Q directly to my PC via DVI and then use the active adapter for a bizarre AMD Radeon HD 7870 -> mDP to DVI active adapter -> DVI to HDMI cable -> Dell S2240L connection for 1 of the remaining 2 monitors. I’m honestly shocked the latter worked with a consumer monitor while the supposedly professional grade PA248Q choked on an ostensibly simpler connection. The incompatibility is also disappointing considering AMD actively recommends the StarTech adapter.

Everything works now, got the PA248Q and 2 Dell S2240Ls up and running, but yeah … don’t use active adapters with the former.

This monitor has been exonerated of all charges (see Update)
This monitor has been exonerated of all charges (see Update)

I should point out that this is the only issue I’ve had with the ASUS, it’s been absolutely stellar otherwise.

*The simple setup I’m referring to is using 3 monitors with my Radeon HD 7870-equipped XPS 8500. The 1st week I bought the wrong cable. The 2nd week I bought the right cable but ran into the Radeon’s inability to support more than 2 non-DP monitors without using an active adapter. The 3rd week I tried the active adapter solution written above.