Subject: Graphics Cards | July 16, 2016 - 01:10 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: rx 470, rx 460, polaris 11, polaris 10, gcn4, esports, amd
At a launch event in Australia earlier this week AMD talked about its Polaris architecture, launched the RX 480 and revealed the specifications for the Polaris 10-based RX 470 and Polaris 11-derived RX 470 GPUs. The new budget GPUs are aimed at 1080p or lower gaming and will allegedly be available for purchase sometime in August.
First up is the AMD Radeon RX 470. This GPU is based on Polaris 10 (like the RX 480) but has some hardware disabled (mainly the number of stream processors). Based on the same 14nm process the GPU has 2,048 cores running at not yet known clocks. Thankfully, AMD has left the memory interface intact, and the RX 470 uses the same 256-bit memory bus pairing the GPU with 4GB of GDDR5 memory on the reference design and up to 8GB GDDR5 on partner cards.
Speaking of the reference design, the reference RX 470 will utilize a blower style cooler that AIBs can use but AMD expects that partners will opt to use their own custom dual and triple fan coolers (as would I). The card is powered by a single 6-pin power connector though, again, AIBs are allowed to design a card with more.
This card is reportedly aimed at 1080p gaming at "ultra and max settings". Video outputs will include DisplayPort 1.3/1.4 HDR support.
Breaking away from Polaris 10 is the RX 460 which is the first GPU AMD has talked about using Polaris 11. This GCNv4 architecture is similar it its larger Polaris sibling but is further cut down and engineered for low power and mobile environments. While the "full" Polaris 11 appears to have 16 CUs (Compute Units), RX 460 will feature 14 of them (this should open up opportunities for lots of salvaged dies and once yields are good enough we might see a RX 465 or something with all of its stream processors enabled). With 14 CUs, that means RX 460 has 896 stream processors (again clock speeds were not discussed) and a 128-bit memory bus. AMD's reference design will pair this card with 2GB of GDDR5 but I would not be surprised to see 4GB versions possibly in a gaming laptop SKU if only just because it looks better (heh). There is no external PCI-E power connector on this card so it will be drawing all of its power from the PCI-E slot on the motherboard.
The reference graphics card is a tiny affair with a single fan HSF and support for DP 1.3/1.4 HDR. AMD further mentions 4K H.264 / HEVC encoding/decoding support. AMD is positioning this card at HTPCs and "eSports" budget gamers.
One other tidbit of information from the announcement was that AMD reiterated their new "RX" naming scheme saying that RX would be reserved for gaming and we would no longer see R9, R7, and R5 branding though AMD did not rule out future products that would not use RX aimed at other non-gaming workloads. I would expect that this will apply to APU GPUs eventually as well.
Naturally, AMD is not talking exact shipping dates or pricing but expect them to be well under the $239 of the RX 480! I would guess that RX 470 would be around the $150 mark while RX 460 will be a sub $100 part (if only barely).
What do you think about the RX 470 and RX 460? If you are interested in watching the whole event, there is a two part video of it available on YouTube. Part 1 and Part 2 are embedded below the break.
Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2016 - 10:03 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, CS:GO, esports
About a year ago, Valve blocked several players from participating in their sponsored tournaments when the players were believed to be match fixing. This is the practice of arranging outcomes in events and tournaments. This is often accompanied by betting on the pre-arranged winners, but it could also be used to shift around positions in seed brackets by having one or more member intentionally lose winnable games. This is bad all-around, but can even be illegal (due to the implications of fraud and so forth).
Since then, the game developer has reviewed their earlier decision, and they decided to make it permanent. They did not state how many players were involved, although PC Gamer knows of 21. These individuals will never be allowed to compete at any Valve-sponsored tournaments, and other organizers will be able to extend those bans to their events, too.
A similar incident happened in the Korean StarCraft II scene. In that situation, a dozen individuals were arrested and detained by Korean law enforcement, charged for betting (or enabling third-parties to bet) on predetermined outcomes. This has been an ongoing problem.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2016 - 11:44 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, mlg, esports, blizzard, Activision
On New Year's Day, rumors flew about MLG being purchased by Activision Blizzard for $46 million USD. At the time, the vast majority of available information discussed how this would affect shareholders, particularly those with lower-class stock in the eSport company. (As it turns out, very poorly.) I wondered why Activision Blizzard would want MLG's assets, especially considering their heavy involvement with ESL, afreecaTV, and others.
According to a press release from Activision Blizzard themselves, they intend to “create the ESPN of esports.” The Activision Blizzard Media Networks division will be led by the former CEO of ESPN, Steve Bornstein, and the co-founder of MLG, Mike Sepso. The other co-founder of MLG, Sundance DiGiovanni, will remain at MLG. It was previously rumored, during the investor's leak, that he was replaced by the former CFO of MLG, Greg Chisholm. While I expect that some shuffling has occurred, DiGiovanni will apparently remain in a management role at MLG. Granted, it could be equivalent to Hideo Kojima's “holiday” last October, but that would just be silly.
As far as I can tell, other broadcasters have not commented on what this means to them.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech | January 1, 2016 - 10:08 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, mlg, esports, blizzard, Activision
Update (10:10pm ET): Forgot to add "rumor" to title.
So I didn't expect this. According to eSports Observer, MLG has basically been liquidated to Activision Blizzard for $46 million USD. Neither company has confirmed the report. The source is a leaked letter that was allegedly sent to stockholders, many of whom, if the rumors are true, were not informed prior to the sale. That's kind-of crappy.
We will probably hear this story evolve, if true, over the next couple weeks. The organization was said to have been running on a substantial amount of debt, relative to the company's size, for quite some time. If the organization shuts down as it seems it will, then many investors will probably get next to nothing.
On the other hand, it is interesting to see what Activision Blizzard will do with their acquisition. The publisher holds several popular spectator titles, such as Call of Duty, StarCraft, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, World of Warcraft, and soon to be Overwatch. I doubt that the company would roll their games into their own eSport service, especially as they are growing closer to rival ESL, so I would have to expect that these “assets” will be used to support (or leverage control) over third-party broadcasters and/or leagues.
Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2015 - 07:32 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: starcraft 2, starcraft, pc gaming, esports
I'm not really seeing anyone pick up this news in English outside of StarCraft II forums, so I'm not sure whether this news will be fresh, or completely irrelevant to anyone's interests. Either way, GOM eXP was one of the leading broadcasters of StarCraft tournaments in South Korea. They operated GSL, which was one of the three Blizzard-endorsed leagues for StarCraft II.
Image Credit: Wolf Shröder via Twitter
They have just shut down, but their GSL tournament will not.
afreecaTV, a video streaming service, has bought out the tournament. For viewers, this means that high quality, 1080p streams will be available for free. Previously, GOM was a bit strict about forcing Twitch subscriptions for anything other than Low quality. The quality was bad enough that you often couldn't even read the on-screen text, such as how many units or resources each player has.
Beyond hosting the 2016 GSL tournament, they will also have a couple of StarCraft II show matches and even a StarCraft: Brood War league. I wonder how the original StarCraft holds up for viewers after we have gotten used to the sequel's updated graphics. Hmm.
Subject: General Tech | August 1, 2015 - 10:55 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pc gaming, esports, valve, DOTA, DOTA 2, asus, ASUS ROG
Each year, Valve Software puts on a giant DOTA2 tournament where teams compete for literally millions of dollars. As of this writing, the prize pool currently sits at $17.9 million USD, which is divided between a 6.5 million USD first place prize, down to just under $54,000 USD for 13th through 16th place. Granted, these are per-team prizes, so individual players and their organizations will split the earnings from there how they see fit. It will take place between August 3rd and end with the Grand Finals on August 8th.
Last year, the event was broadcast on ESPN3. While it does not seem to be mentioned on the official website, although the online streaming WatchESPN is listed, ESPN's calendar has The International on its ESPN3 calendar for all six days. That said, you could always watch it online like you obviously watch every episode of the PC Perspective podcast. Right? Live and participating in the chat?
You can also check out an ASUS RoG contest at the JoinDOTA website. The top prize is an ROG G751 Gaming Laptop, a mouse with mousepad, and t-shirt. Second prize gets the mouse, mousepad, and t-shirt. Third and fourth place gets a different mouse (without a mousepad) and a t-shirt. Fifth place has been there, done that, but only gets a t-shirt.
And for the rest of us, maybe someone will snap a picture of a Valve workstation while they're aren't looking... again.
Subject: General Tech | February 26, 2015 - 11:29 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, hearthstone, esports
Professional and amateur players of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft can compete for a share of the $25,000 prize pool and other perks, hosted by NVIDIA. Once the pool of players are whittled down to the sixteen invited pros and the top sixteen non-professionals, they will compete in a playoff format. The 32 players at that stage will each receive an NVIDIA Shield Tablet, the top 16 will receive money, and the top eight will get Blizzard World Championship qualifier points may either start their career or get them even closer to being invited to the autumn finals.
Breaking down the above into a little more detail:
|Prize Money||Qualification Points||Shield Tablet|
|3rd & 4th Place||$1,500||Some||✔|
|5th - 8th Place||$750||Some||✔|
|9th - 16th Place||$500||-||✔|
|17th - 32nd Place||-||-||✔|
NVIDIA will be streaming the event as a four-hour event every week, which consist of group-stage highlights. Registration will close on March 19th at noon (EST). The actual playoffs will take place on May 30th and May 31st, also streamed on NVIDIA's Twitch channel.
Subject: General Tech, Displays | September 22, 2014 - 11:00 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: esports, asus, vg248qe
I am a little torn about the term "eSports". Yes, I've used it. It is the accepted name. According to the definition, it mostly fits its role. Grammar and language are also fluid concepts, too. They can mean different things as time passes. I guess my real problem is that it attempts to snuggle up to "sports" for acceptance, but maintains a single-letter divider (unlike golf and, to some extent, curling). In my opinion, it is either a sport or it is something else entirely (a game, maybe?).
Apparently they support StarCraft, too.
Also, it should be considered legitimate. Spectator sports are for entertainment, and "eSports" are entertaining to watch. Sure, it is not for everyone -- but neither is any other sport.
Two organizations that do consider it legitimate is ASUS and Robert Morris University (RMU). The college has recently announced scholarships for the top League of Legends players. After all, a sports scholarship is just an advertisement expense from the university's view. That applies to any sports scholarship. The point is to lure students to your campus and spectators to sporting events. Consistent winnings and great players gets your name out there on both fronts. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as they uphold a high standard of education, too.
Today's news is that ASUS partnered with RMU to provide "over three dozen" monitors to the university. Specifically, the VG248QE 24-inch, 144Hz display. This is almost $10,000 USD of hardware at current retail price. The press release is unclear whether ASUS donated the panels, or if they were sold at a discount. I reached out to the university over Twitter for clarification.
Honestly, I find this interesting and an innovative extension on old practices.
Subject: General Tech | September 12, 2014 - 02:39 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Starcraft II, WCS, blizzard, blizzcon, esports
The StarCraft II World Championship Series is Blizzard's official method of conglomerating numerous tournaments, including their own, into a canonized ranking system. Players get points for winning various Intel Extreme Masters, Red Bull Battle Grounds, DreamHack events, GSL seasons, and so forth. Beyond the prize money of each event, points are awarded to sort a global standings list. These points, beyond bragging rights, lead to an invitation to the year's final tournament at BlizzCon.
The system has drawn some criticism, however. One specific complaint is that players are allowed to partake in any region of their choosing. This seems to lead to tactical placement of players relative to other ones, rather than actual geography. Moreover, this allows players to join in servers that they are not anywhere near to, introducing lag in the online components. If I remember correctly, the rules stated that, unless both players chose to play on a server that was outside the region (ex: a South Korean server for two competitors in WCS America), the server would default to the region (America in the previous example). For 2015, Blizzard is requiring that all players must be legal residents of the region they choose to play in. The reasons for this decision do not seem to be publicly explained, but it should discourage the shuffling of players for logistical advantages.
The other, major change is that all participants of WCS 2015 need to qualify. Previously, if I (again) remember correctly, while points were reset, some placements in leagues carried over. This time, if a player is in any given league, they fought to get there from the very bottom. If anything, I expect this became necessary when the decision was made to change residency requirements.
WCS 2014 isn't over yet, though. It will close with BlizzCon on November 8th.
Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2014 - 03:22 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Starcraft II, esports
Movie studios are beginning to take video game tournaments seriously. MLG secured an ad deal with Relativity to promote their movies across its channels. Lionsgate, a more scrappy company known mostly for Michael Moore films until they took a risk on The Hunger Games, decided to one-up them and sponsor a whole tournament.
Actually, about three tournaments.
The first tournament will be run by Twitch and commentated by Nathanias and by NASL's RotterdaM and MrBitter (NASL is the company responsible for broadcasting WCS America since Season 2, 2013). It will have a $7,000 prize pool to be split among its 16 competitors. The tournament will be called, "Twitch Ender's Game on Blu-ray Tournament". Catchy.
Just a couple of days later, MLG will host the aptly titled, "MLG GameOn Ender's Game on Blu-ray Tournament". Its casters will be Team ROOT's Destiny and Catz, which is quite odd because both are competitors in the first tournament run by Twitch. Its prize pool is not yet announced. Other notable players include Scarlett, MajOr, MaSa, and Hitman.
The third "tournament" is actually a showmatch between the winners of each previous tournament. The two contestants will play a series against one another for a 70/30 split of $10,000 dollars.
It makes sense. The cost of running a StarCraft II tournament, including the prize pool, is probably significantly lower than most other ad campaigns. It just takes a company to think outside the box enough to actually do it. Lionsgate, of all the major film studios, is essentially the underdog as we alluded to earlier. Let's see how effective it is.
The Twitch tournament is currently on now and will run until February 9th. The MLG half will begin on the 11th. The Championship showmatch will be streamed by Twitch on February 22nd.