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Linux will be able to play Crysis

Subject: General Tech | June 22, 2015 - 07:05 PM |
Tagged: linux, CRYENGINE, Oculus

That's right, with the new CRYENGINE 3.8.1 release you will be able to make games using that engine which will run on Linux machines.  In theory any game which is moved to the new version should also offer Linux support although neither the Slashdot post nor the links within make it clear how much work would need to be done by the developers but the support now exists.  As well, support for Oculus Rift and games on Android TV have also been added, products which may help make Linux far more attractive for gamers and HTPC enthusiasts especially considering the coming demise of Microsoft's Media Centre in Windows 10.

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"CRYENGINE, the video game engine from Crytek, will run natively on Linux starting from version 3.8.1. Other improvements include the ability to run on the Oculus Rift, support for OpenGL, 8-weight GPU vertex skinning, and improved POM self-shadowing. Here are the full release notes. They've also added Game Zero, a full blown example game that demonstrates how various features of the engine can work."

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Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot
Author:
Subject: Processors, Mobile
Manufacturer: Qualcomm

Qualcomm’s GPU History

Despite its market dominance, Qualcomm may be one of the least known contenders in the battle for the mobile space. While players like Apple, Samsung, and even NVIDIA are often cited as the most exciting and most revolutionary, none come close to the sheer sales, breadth of technology, and market share that Qualcomm occupies. Brands like Krait and Snapdragon have helped push the company into the top 3 semiconductor companies in the world, following only Intel and Samsung.

Founded in July 1985, seven industry veterans came together in the den of Dr. Irwin Jacobs’ San Diego home to discuss an idea. They wanted to build “Quality Communications” (thus the name Qualcomm) and outlined a plan that evolved into one of the telecommunications industry’s great start-up success stories.

Though Qualcomm sold its own handset business to Kyocera in 1999, many of today’s most popular mobile devices are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon mobile chipsets with integrated CPU, GPU, DSP, multimedia CODECs, power management, baseband logic and more.  In fact the typical “chipset” from Qualcomm encompasses up to 20 different chips of different functions besides just the main application processor. If you are an owner of a Galaxy Note 4, Motorola Droid Turbo, Nexus 6, or Samsung Galaxy S5, then you are most likely a user of one of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipsets.

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Qualcomm’s GPU History

Before 2006, the mobile GPU as we know it today was largely unnecessary. Feature phones and “dumb” phones were still the large majority of the market with smartphones and mobile tablets still in the early stages of development. At this point all the visual data being presented on the screen, whether on a small monochrome screen or with the color of a PDA, was being drawn through a software renderer running on traditional CPU cores.

But by 2007, the first fixed-function, OpenGL ES 1.0 class of GPUs started shipping in mobile devices. These dedicated graphics processors were originally focused on drawing and updating the user interface on smartphones and personal data devices. Eventually these graphics units were used for what would be considered the most basic gaming tasks.

Continue reading Qualcomm History and its GPU (R)evolution.

Low Cost Braswell NUC Incoming - Intel NUC NUC5CPYH for $129

Subject: Systems | June 21, 2015 - 12:28 PM |
Tagged: NUC5CPYH, nuc, N3050, Intel, Braswell

A reader sent in a link to a new listing on Amazon.com this morning that points to an as-yet-unreleased Intel NUC product, the Intel NUC5CPYH. This model will include a Celeron N3050 processor, which as listed by Intel's Ark site, is a dual-core, non-HyperThreaded processor with a base clock rate of 1.6 GHz and a maximum Burst frequency of 2.16 GHz. It has a rated TDP of 6 watts with a Scenario Design Power rating (typical usage)  of 4 watts.

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Image from Fanlesstech.com

The Intel Braswell platform (also known as Cherry Trail) is a refresh of the Atom lineup and a follow up to the Bay Trail set of parts using Airmont CPU cores (a minor upgrade over  the  Silvermont architecture). Even though Intel already has ~4-6 watt TDP part in the form of the Core M series using the Broadwell architecture, the cost difference is the big change here. The tray price for the Celeron N3050 is $107 while the Core M 5Y10 sells for $281.

Implications for performance should be substantial and you won't find the Braswell platform lighting up benchmark scores or besting the Core M series. But it might provide enough performance for small form factor PC users, point of sale systems and more. All of this results in a bare bones price point of just $129 for the Intel NUC5CPYH.

I'm sure we'll get details in the coming days, but this model supports 4K display output via HDMI (though I'm not sure if its 60 Hz or 30 Hz refresh rate capable) and is the first NUC to add an SD card reader; something that just makes sense for this form factor and class of system.

Hitman Will Get Free Content Updates

Subject: Shows and Expos | June 20, 2015 - 02:19 PM |
Tagged: hitman, E3 2015, E3 15, E3

SquareEnix would apparently prefer to say “no DLC or microtransactions” when referring to free, post-launch, content updates. Personally, I think “free DLC” would be an acceptable name for their plans. However you want to brand it, the new Hitman will have content added for not additional cost. This was once a common practice for PC games, at a time when they had access to internet, consoles did not, and there was nothing like Steam or Xbox Live to facilitate microtransactions.

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Some of the updates could deviate from what is considered “traditional DLC” though. For instance, they might push an update that adds or modifies an NPC to be a target, but just for a couple of days. Since Hitman has been one of the games that scores how effectively you can take down opponents, PC Gamer hopes that impromptu and time-limited missions will test players on skill and intuition, rather than manufacturing a calculated strategy. In fact, some will only occur once and you might not have more than a photo to go off of.

Hitman (no subtitle) is scheduled to launch on December 8th.

Source: PC Gamer

AMD Catalyst 15.5 to 15.15 Performance Check - Validating AMD R9 390 Testing

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 19, 2015 - 06:25 PM |
Tagged: radeon, r9 390, hawaii, catalyst, amd, 15.15

During the course of our review of the new Sapphire Nitro R9 390 8GB card earlier this week, a question came up on driver support. For testing the R9 300-series as well as the Fury X cards, AMD provided a new Catalyst 15.15 beta driver. The problem is that these drivers would not install on the Radeon R9 200-series cards. That's not totally uncommon on new GPU releases but it does seem a bit odd considering the similarities between the R9 390 and the R9 290, for example.

That meant that in our review we had to use the Catalyst 15.5 beta for the Radeon R9 290X and the Radeon R9 290 GPU while using the newer Catalyst 15.15 beta for the Sapphire Nitro R9 390. Eyebrows were raised as you would expect as any performance differences between the new cards and the old cards would have to take into account the driver changes as well. But since we couldn't install the new driver on the old hardware, we were stuck, and published what we had.

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Since then, a driver with some INI modifications that allows Catalyst 15.15 to be installed on Radeon R9 290X/290 hardware was built and uploaded from the Guru3D Forums. Today I installed that on our XFX Radeon R9 290 4GB card used in our R9 390 review to re-run a few game tests to see what changes we saw, if any. This would help us address any concerns over the updated driver causing performance changes rather than the hardware changes.

(Note: I realize that using an INI hacked driver isn't exactly going to pass QA with AMD, but I think we are seeing results that are close enough.)

First up, let's look at Grand Theft Auto V.

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In GTA V we see that the average frame rate at 2560x1440 goes from 39.5 FPS to 40.5 FPS, an increase of about 2-3%. That's minimal but it is interesting to see how the frame rate consistency changes as we move down the sliding scale; pay attention to the orange and pink lines in the FPS by Percentile graph to see what I am referencing. As you move into the slower frame times in our testing, the gap between the 15.5 and 15.15 driver begins to widen slightly, indicating a little more frame time consistency in 15.15 release.

But what about BF4 or Metro: Last Light?

Continue reading our performance check on Catalyst 15.5 and Catalyst 15.15 drivers!

More on the new R9 390X, MSI's GAMING 8G model

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 19, 2015 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: TwinFrozr V, r9 390x, msi, GAMING 8G, factory overclocked, amd

For their R9 390X GAMING 8G card, MSI has introduced the TwinFrozr V cooling solution and built the card using high-c solid capacitors along with a custom PCB.  This particular model is factory overclocked by 50MHz on the GPU and 100MHz on the VRAM bring the clocks to 1.1GHz and 6.1GHz.  [H]ard|OCP tested the new card out and proclaimed it to be great for 1440p gaming but not so much for 4K, at least on its own.  In a Crossfire configuration the horsepower will be enough to push 4K and the 8GB of memory will truly show off its use, something it does not have a chance to do at 1440p.  They will be revisiting this card in the near future to provide overclocking results, which could prove to be very interesting if power consumption and heat production can be kept to reasonable levels.

Also, we have been informed than nobody does FCAT testing anymore so any evidence contrary to that opinion you see in Ryan's review must therefore be an hallucination.

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"We've got an MSI R9 390X GAMING video card with 8GB of VRAM to put up against a Radeon R9 290X and GeForce GTX 980. Find out what the new AMD Radeon R9 390X is made of, and if the MSI R9 390X GAMING 8G video card can compete with GeForce GTX 980 performance, you might be surprised."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Graphene coated copper shows significant promise

Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2015 - 01:00 PM |
Tagged: graphene, copper, interconnect

Earlier this week we heard news about IBM's research into optical transceiver chips and today comes news at The Register of another interesting project to increase the frequency of processors by sheathing current copper interconnects in graphene.  This is not the first time the usage of graphene has been investigated for computers, indeed there is research being conducted into improving non-volatile storage and even cooling with the use of graphene. The project being carried out by a team at Stanford University found graphene-coated interconnects can reliably carry data at speeds 4-17% faster than copper without the sheathing.  They feel that a 30% improvement is reachable with current process technology; you can read more in the full article.

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"Researchers have made tremendous advances on all of the other components in chips but recently, there hasn't been much progress on improving the performance of the wires," said Stanford electrical engineer Philip Wong."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: The Register
Author:
Manufacturer: Sapphire

The new Radeon R9 300-series

The new AMD Radeon R9 and R7 300-series of graphics cards are coming into the world with a rocky start. We have seen rumors and speculation about what GPUs are going to be included, what changes would be made and what prices these would be shipping at for what seems like months, and in truth it has been months. AMD's Radeon R9 290 and R9 290X based on the new Hawaii GPU launched nearly 2 years ago, while the rest of the 200-series lineup was mostly a transition of existing products in the HD 7000-family. The lone exception was the Radeon R9 285, a card based on a mysterious new GPU called Tonga that showed up late to the game to fill a gap in the performance and pricing window for AMD.

AMD's R9 300-series, and the R7 300-series in particular, follows a very similar path. The R9 390 and R9 390X are still based on the Hawaii architecture. Tahiti is finally retired and put to pasture, though Tonga lives on as the Radeon R9 380. Below that you have the Radeon R7 370 and 360, the former based on the aging GCN 1.0 Curacao GPU and the latter based on Bonaire. On the surface its easy to refer to these cards with the dreaded "R-word"...rebrands. And though that seems to be the case there are some interesting performance changes, at least at the high end of this stack, that warrant discussion.

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And of course, AMD partners like Sapphire are using this opportunity of familiarity with the GPU and its properties to release newer product stacks. In this case Sapphire is launching the new Nitro brand for a series of cards that it is aimed at what it considers the most common type of gamer: one that is cost conscious and craves performance over everything else.

The result is a stack of GPUs with prices ranging from about $110 up to ~$400 that target the "gamer" group of GPU buyers without the added price tag that some other lines include. Obviously it seems a little crazy to be talking about a line of graphics cards that is built for gamers (aren't they all??) but the emphasis is to build a fast card that is cool and quiet without the additional cost of overly glamorous coolers, LEDs or dip switches.

Today I am taking a look at the new Sapphire Nitro R9 390 8GB card, but before we dive head first into that card and its performance, let's first go over the changes to the R9-level of AMD's product stack.

Continue reading our review of the Sapphire Nitro R9 390 8GB Graphics Card!!

StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Gets Prologue in July

Subject: Shows and Expos | June 18, 2015 - 05:47 PM |
Tagged: E3, E3 15, E3 2015, blizzard, Starcraft II, legacy of the void, whispers of oblivion

While StarCraft II is known for its multiplayer component, some of us are mostly interested in the campaign... and Arcade mods, but there's no news on that front. Legacy of the Void is the end of the StarCraft II trilogy, which is said to finally deal with the hybrids that were introduced in the secret missions of Brood War and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. They played a larger role in Heart of the Swarm's campaign although that did not even have unlockable missions, so they wouldn't exist otherwise.

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StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void does not yet have a release date, but there will be a mini-campaign released for free before it launches. StarCraft II: Whispers of Oblivion (or is that StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void: Whispers of Oblivion?) are three single-player missions that will be released in July. Those who pre-purchase Legacy of the Void will get the missions first, which might mean that everyone else needs to wait until after July to play them... or not. That said, if you are patient, you do not even need to own StarCraft II at all. Free to all, but timed-exclusive for those who pre-order.

Source: Blizzard

Podcast #354 - AMD R9 Fury X, R9 Nano, ASUS Zenfone2 and much more!

Subject: General Tech | June 18, 2015 - 02:03 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, radeon, R9, fury x, Fury, Fiji, fiji xt, r9 nano, fiji x2, project quantum, asus, zenfone 3, g751j, gameworks, nvidia, metal gear solid

PC Perspective Podcast #354 - 06/18/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD R9 Fury X, R9 Nano, ASUS Zenfone2 and much more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

ASUS Announces the STRIX R9 390X, R9 390, R9 380 and R7 370

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 18, 2015 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: Strix R9 390X, Strix R9 390, Strix R9 380, Strix R7 370, strix, DirectCU II, asus

These particular ASUS STRIX models don't seem to have arrived at Amazon yet but Gigabyte, Sapphire, MSI and XFX are all showing up with prices, though perhaps not reasonable availability.  Newegg is also showing similar models and pricing, so keep your eyes out for the ASUS cards to appear.

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Fremont, CA (June 17, 2015) — ASUS today announced the Strix R9 390X, R9 390, R9 380 and R7 370 graphics cards. Powered by the latest AMD Radeon graphics-processing units (GPUs), the new Strix R9 390X and R9 390 graphics cards are packed with exclusive ASUS technologies. These include DirectCU III with a patented triple wing-blade fan design and ASUS Auto-Extreme technology with Super Alloy Power II components for aerospace-grade production quality and reliability. All models feature GPU Tweak II with XSplit Gamecaster software for intuitive performance tweaking and instant gameplay streaming.

Cool, silent gameplay: DirectCU III with a triple wing-blade fan design

The Strix R9 390X and R9 390 are equipped with ASUS-exclusive DirectCU III cooling technology, which features two 10mm direct-GPU-contact heat pipes — outperforming reference designs for gaming performance by up to 30%. They each have three fans engineered with a patented, new wing-blade design that delivers maximum airflow and static pressure over the heat sink — giving a 105% improvement over fans without wing-blades. This exclusive triple wing-blade design operates at noise levels three times (3X) quieter than reference cards, making DirectCU III the coolest and quietest graphics card-cooling solution available to date.

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The Strix R9 380 and R7 370 come with DirectCU II cooling technology, featuring direct-GPU-contact copper heat pipes and a dual wing-blade design to deliver an incredible gaming experience. All cards feature 0dB fan technology, which stops fan rotation completely during lighter gaming sessions — eliminating noise for undisturbed gameplay.

Premium quality and reliability: Auto-Extreme technology with Super Alloy Power II components

The Strix R9 390X, R9 390, R9 380 and R7 370 benefit from ASUS-exclusive Auto-Extreme technology, the industry’s first 100%-automated manufacturing process that removes human fallibility from the production line for consistent perfection — making them ultra-reliable in all scenarios, from general use to hardcore gaming and overclocking. Auto-Extreme technology eliminates flux to minimize dust buildup and oxidization, while the rear of the printed-circuit boards are totally smooth, for easy handling. This new manufacturing process is also environmentally friendly, eliminating the need for harsh chemicals and reducing production power consumption by 50%.

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The new cards also feature aerospace-grade Super Alloy Power II1 components for enhanced efficiency, reduced mechanical noise under load, and lower operating temperatures for unsurpassed quality and reliability. Complementing their amazing reliability, the latest Strix graphics cards are built to be incredibly tough. The Strix R9 390X, R9 390 and R9 380 each come with a strengthened backplate that provides protection and also prevents PCB bending over time.

Tweakable and intuitive: GPU Tweak II with XSplit Gamecaster

Redesigned with an intuitive, all-new user interface, GPU Tweak II makes gaming and overclocking the new Strix cards easier and more visual than ever, while retaining advanced options for seasoned overclockers. With one click, the new Gaming Booster function maximizes system performance by removing redundant processes and allocating all available resources automatically. An included 1-year XSplit Gamecaster premium license — a $99 value — lets gamers easily stream or record gameplay via a convenient, in-game overlay.

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Source: ASUS

AMD's 3xx series goes up for sale with reviews soon to follow

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 18, 2015 - 01:05 PM |
Tagged: amd, Hawaii XT, tonga, pitcairn

So far the only published review with benchmarks is this one from Legion Hardware, with many others including  Ryan's to follow as the benchmark monkeys are whipped to a furious pace.  The initial results show roughly what has been expected, the R9 390X is roughly 10% faster overall than the 290X and about 6% faster than the base 390 model which itself is roughly 8% faster than the previous 290.  The 380 shows a similar 6% gain over the 285 and performance wise can tie the GTX 960.  Bear in mind this is very preliminary review, as time is needed to properly test and to overclock the cards, keep your eyes peeled for more reviews and cards from other sources.

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"Firstly we would like to thank HIS for supplying their HIS Radeon R9 390X IceQ X2 OC 8GB, R9 390 IceQ X2 OC 8GB and R9 380 IceQ X2 OC 2GB graphics cards. The cooling performance of their IceQ X2 cooler was excellent on all three cards and they look very eye catching as well."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Better late than never, Skylake in August

Subject: General Tech | June 18, 2015 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: Skylake, lga1151, Intel, i7-6700K, i5-6600K, H110, 14nm

DigiTimes has some dates for Skylake, with the desktop chips you are most interesting being revealed at Gamescon in Germany at the end of August.  There will be a pair of i7 models, one unlocked K model and a power optimized T model and six i5 models, three with lower TDPs and at least one unlocked i5, the 6600K.  A month after the new chips are shown off will come the arrival of the new LGA 1151 socketed H110 chipset, which will likely be compatible with a certain AiO watercooler.  Mobile versions will not be for sale until the new year but the long wait will likely mean the inclusion of the new USB 3.1 Type-C ports on those laptops.

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"Intel will then unveil its Skylake-based Core i7-6700/6700T, Core i5-6600, 6500, 6400, 6600T, 6500T and 6400T, and H170 and B150 chipsets between August 30-September 5."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Seiki and PC Perspective Are Giving Away a Pair of SM40UNP 40-in 4K 60 Hz Monitors!

Subject: Displays | June 18, 2015 - 10:10 AM |
Tagged: video, sm40unp, Seiki Pro, seiki, gleam, giveaway, contest

Earlier today we posted our review of the Seiki Pro SM40UNP monitor, a 40-in behemoth with a 4K resolution and 60 Hz refresh rate. Clearly this is not a monitor for mere mortals: you must have an impressive system to push out the pixels required for a 4K display and also have the desk space for a display that many would considerable sizeable for a TV!

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Not only was Allyn impressed with the color capability of the display and the sheer size of the monitor, it offers some interesting features and capabilities including four simultaneous video inputs! Be sure you check out Allyn's full write up on the display that resulted in a Gold Award from the staff.

But let's get to the important news for this post: Seiki was willing to give us two of these monitors to hand out to our readers and viewers. That's right, two of you will be taking home a 40-in 4K 60 Hz monitor for your gaming PC! (Or for productivity and work, who are we to judge?)

The method is simple:

  1. Fill out the entry form below. You can enter through one or all of the methods listed but the more entries you include the better your chances! Seiki is particular interested to see all the 4K-ready gaming rigs our readers have built!
     
  2. It's stated in the Gleam form but it is worth reiterating here: all entrants will be sent one email from me (Ryan) with a coupon code for Seiki monitors that you can use on a purchase if you don't win one of the giveaways. You are not being signed up for some kind of mailing list or marketing list and your email address will never actually go to Seiki - I will send out the emails myself.
     
  3. The contest is open to anyone in the world. So enter away!
     
  4. The contest will end at 11:59pm on June 19th (EST)

Win a Seiki Pro SM40UNP 40-in 4K 60 Hz Monitor!!

Good luck to all entrants and a HUGE THANKS goes out to Seiki for providing these kick-ass prizes for our readers and viewers!

Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

Fiji: A Big and Necessary Jump

Fiji has been one of the worst kept secrets in a while.  The chip has been talked about, written about, and rumored about seemingly for ages.  The chip has promised to take on NVIDIA at the high end by bringing about multiple design decisions that are aimed to give it a tremendous leap in performance and efficiency as compared to previous GCN architectures.  NVIDIA released their Maxwell based products last year and added to that this year with the Titan X and the GTX 980 Ti.  These are the parts that Fiji is aimed to compete with.

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The first product that Fiji will power is the R9 Fury X with integrated water cooling.

AMD has not been standing still, but their R&D budgets have been taking a hit as of late.  The workforce has also been pared down to the bare minimum (or so I hope) while still being able to design, market, and sell products to the industry.  This has affected their ability to produce as large a quantity of new chips as NVIDIA has in the past year.  Cut-backs are likely not the entirety of the story, but they have certainly affected it.

The plan at AMD seems to be to focus on very important products and technologies, and then migrate those technologies to new products and lines when it makes the most sense.  Last year we saw the introduction of “Tonga” which was the first major redesign after the release of the GCN 1.1 based Hawaii which powers the R9 290 and R9 390 series.  Tonga delivered double the tessellation performance over Hawaii, it improved overall architecture efficiency, and allowed AMD to replace the older Tahiti and Pitcairn chips with an updated unit that featured xDMA and TrueAudio support.  Tonga was a necessary building block that allowed AMD to produce a chip like Fiji.

Click here to read about the AMD Fiji GPU!

PC Gamer Lists Many E3 Games (and If We Should Care)

Subject: Shows and Expos | June 18, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, E3 2015, E3 15, E3

This has been a good E3 for the PC platform. We got our first keynote, organized by PC Gamer and AMD, which took the format in its own direction. This had basically the same reaction as putting Skittles in an M&Ms vending machine; they are good, but you'll see lots of weird faces on those who were expecting chocolate that melts in their mouths and not in their hands. It also ran long, celebrating the platform for almost two and a half hours, which is problematic for fans of console games who are very busy (and anyone with sub-phenomenal blood circulation or irritable bowels). Personally, I found it very interesting (while a bit long).

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Lol... just kidding. No.. (Image Credit: Rock Paper Shotgun)
They aren't even called that anymore...

Throughout E3, PC Gamer has also kept a vast (but not as complete as they claim) list of titles at the event. Each entry in the slideshow (I know) format has a brief blurb about the game, its release date if available, and whether it is coming to the PC platform. It is updated as the event progresses, but it already has about forty entries. Of the current list, only four are not yet confirmed for the PC. That sounds pretty good, and a stark contrast from five-to-ten years ago.

These four are:

  • The Last Guardian (no surprise)
  • Fallout Shelter (iOS only)
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider (which will probably make it to the PC at some point)
  • Final Fantasy 7 Remake (which was twice a PC release already)

Unfortunately, they are missing many titles that would be excluded from the PC, so I will add to it here. Gears 4 has not been confirmed for the PC, although the developer is bringing the original Gears remake to the platform. Yup, we get the one Gears we already had (at least until Games for Windows Live had something to say about it). Uncharted 4, Ratchet and Clank, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Dreams are pretty safe bets against the PC. Microsoft has been extremely quiet about Halo 5 and its chances on the PC; ReCore and Rare Replay sounds like Xbox One exclusives, as in excluding the PC as well as the other consoles, as well. Then you add Nintendo, and this list blows up from 12, including my additions, to a much bigger number that I don't even want to figure out.

Still, it is interesting to browse through PC Gamer's slideshow and look at all the content that we will get. It has been a good year for the PC. Microsoft is pulling Windows 10 forward with equivalent effort to what they have spent dragging the mostly unprofitable Xbox division around. They know that gaming is an essential component of why people are locked in to Windows, and it has thrived even through the decade-plus of neglect and maltreatment. On the other side, we see Sony appreciating the PC as a profitable market that can exist alongside their PlayStation initiatives for Sony Online content, and they don't even have as much first-party developers as they used to anyway.

But yeah. Lots of games is good. While I've managed for the last couple years, I feel it's getting much easier to ignore the console exclusives. How about you?

Source: PC Gamer

Microsoft Announces Xbox One Elite Controller for Windows 10

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 17, 2015 - 10:24 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, xbox, Steam Controller, microsoft, E3 2015, E3 15, E3, controller

And, of course, Xbox One... but I can assume who is the bulk of my audience.

Microsoft announced the Xbox One Elite Controller at E3, which includes support for Windows 10. This is part of their initiative to amend relations with the PC gaming industry. They seem to be going about it by focusing on the high-end gamer first. If not, then I wonder why they chose a $150 controller as a leading product.

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At that price, you could literally purchase three Steam Controllers from Valve instead of a single one of these, but whether you should... depends. In all honesty, I might end up purchasing both and doing a comparison between them over a variety of games. Of course, my primary input device is the mouse and keyboard for most games, but I occasionally add an early model Xbox 360 wired controller to the mix for Saint's Row, Grand Theft Auto, NASCAR 2003, and a few other titles.

The real disappointment is its D-Pad, though. It just cannot reliably send a single direction without sometimes accidentally sending others. This gets worse in games that are styled in the “8-bit” and “16-bit” era. I actually need to play most of those on a keyboard, which is a terrible experience. Valve's implementation looks interesting with the cross-shaped thumbpad, but Microsoft's new version has options: an old-fashioned cross as well as a nine-sectioned cup, called a “faceted D-pad”.

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That leads into the main design of Microsoft's controller: customization. Two switches on the back of the controller allow the range of trigger motion to be limited on the fly. This is designed for games like Grand Theft Auto, where the player wants precise control over throttle and brake, but would prefer to rapidly max-out the trigger as fast as possible when shooting a weapon. With this controller, you flip the switch when you leave the car and, what normally would be some fraction of its range, would be considered “bottoming out” and it would apparently even physically stop the trigger from pushing in further. According to the website, the threshold is user-customizable. I did not use it personally because I wasn't at E3.

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Like Valve's controller, it has optional rear paddles near the grips. They are stainless steel apparently, and can be used to compensate for weird button combinations by mapping them to fingers that normally just clutch the device itself. In Valve's version, there is just two while Microsoft's allows for up to four. Microsoft also allows you to detach them, rather than just disable them.

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This is when we get to software customization. Valve claims that the Steam Controller can be bound to many events across mouse, keyboard, and gamepad buttons and axises. Microsoft, on the other hand, seems to be keeping within the range of buttons found on a standard Xbox One controller. This is concerning to me because it means that extended inputs will be redundant, which is fine for an Xbox One game but could be annoying for a PC title that has many independent, simpler commands. This might be a limitation of XINPUT, which supposedly cannot address more than 10 buttons. I thought I remembered that limit being extended, but that seems to be true even in the MSDN documentation. Even still, the driver could address the extra functions as a secondary virtual device (keyboards, etc.) but Microsoft doesn't seem to want to. As a final note, Valve also allows the end of both triggers to be considered a clicky button, while Microsoft just recognizes it as a bottomed-out axis.

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The Xbox One Elite Controller will ship in October for $149.99. A wireless adapter for the PC will not be required if you use the included USB Micro cable, but add that to the price if you want it wireless. Add batteries on top of that, because it takes AA. They include a pair of disposable AA, but that is obviously not a permanent solution.

Revisting the GTX 980 Ti

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 17, 2015 - 06:24 PM |
Tagged: NVIDA, maxwell, GTX 980 Ti

Now that they have had time with the new NVIDIA card to test on games both familiar and new, [H]ard|OCP have put together a longer review of the GTX 980 Ti.  The Witcher 3 shows that for 4K gamers, the extra power of the TITAN does marginally beat out the newcomer.  Indeed that tended to hold true in many games, Dying Light and Far Cry 4 all saw the 980 Ti needing to lower graphical settings to remain at a decent frame rate but still remained a far better value for those gaming at 1440p.  They compare VRAM usage at 1440p versus 4K resolutions and it is obvious how much more memory is consumed as resolution increases.  Considering how none of the games tested used even half of the 12GB of VRAM on the TITAN it will be very interesting to see how AMD's new smaller sized but higher bandwidth HBM-based card will perform.

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"Now that we have had some solid gaming time with the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti, we will be putting it up against the GTX 980 and TITAN X video cards, in the full HardOCP GPU review format. We are including new games, The Witcher 3 and Grand Theft Auto V. We also look at VRAM utilization and power and temperature levels."

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Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Get that John Williams' shiver watching the trailer for Star Wars Battlefield

Subject: General Tech | June 17, 2015 - 03:55 PM |
Tagged: Star Wars, gaming, ea

EA showed what they described as in game footage of the new Star Wars: Battlefront which was gorgeous and seems to capture the feel of that universe quite well.  Tthe more realistic of us worry that this might be in game footage in the same sense as Ubisoft's Watch_Dogs footage from last year and most of us are just hoping EA doesn't find a way to screw this game up more than they already have.  From the video below we can see that first and third person views are supported, flying vehicles have been included and jetpacks will be available.  We also learned that Luke can apparently time travel from the future into the past.  It is hard not to be excited about this release, one can only hope it does not all end in tears.

HEXUS also has a few more EA videos on their page right here.

"EA revealed new video trailers, footage and information about all its hottest gaming titles at the E3 show yesterday. The one and a half hour long presentation, available in full here, included information about Star Wars: Battlefront, Mass Effect Andromeda, Mirror's Edge Catalyst, the Need 4 Speed reboot, a plethora of sports title updates (plus an on-stage interview with Pele) and more."

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Gaming

 

Source: HEXUS

AMD prepares for the return of the Thin Client

Subject: General Tech | June 17, 2015 - 01:13 PM |
Tagged: amd, Samsung, cloud monitor

AMD and Samsung will be releasing several 'Cloud Monitors',  a design previously know as thin clients, powered by a 2.2GHz dual-core AMD GX222 APU with an unspecified 655MHz GPU and 4GB of DDR3-1600 RAM.   The TC222W will have a 21.5" screen and the TC242W a 23.6" screen, both will be 1080p and come with three USB 3.0 slots, four USB 2.0 slots and an Ethernet port.  The storage will be cloud based, hence the name, and will be similar to HP's MT245 and T420 which will also be powered by AMD APUs.  The thin client is making a return to the office and with AMD offering chips with configuration TDPs between 5W to 25W they may find themselves successful in this returning segment of the marketplace.  Read more at The Inquirer.

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"SAMSUNG AND AMD have joined forces to announce a line of all-in-one 'cloud monitors' featuring integrated thin client technology powered by AMD's Embedded G-series system on chip (SoC)."

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Source: The Inquirer