Subject: General Tech | June 25, 2013 - 07:09 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: programming, gaming
There is a popular misconception that a good programmer is defined by their guru-status with a language. A lot of the time, however, a good programmer has a great understanding of algorithms and general problem solving skills. Some optimizations escape, even from the category of outside-the-box solutions, into the bin of dirty hacks. The final issue of Game Developer magazine takes a moment to salute some of the dirtiest found in games.
"(s)elf-exploitation", last story on the first page of GamaSutra's version (contributed by Game Developer Magazine staff), was the most entertaining, at least, in my opinion. The current lead engine programmer for Insomniac Games, Jonathan Garrett, outlined the process they underwent to update their game which shipped without an update system.
A similar exploit in Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess save games was the first homebrew for Wii.
Image Credit: Giant Bomb
For those unfamiliar with programming: this hack is foundation of basically every worm which enters the system of those who fail to apply appropriate "Critical" or "Important" Windows Updates.
As it turns out, the End User License Agreement for Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal was refreshed from servers, owned by either Sony or Insomniac, and stored in a static memory location. This remotely served data was just a few memory items away from code which is executed in response to certain network traffic.
The team fed a much longer EULA than originally intended to overwrite all of the memory up to and including the network code. Then, when the server poked the PS2 with a specific network packet, the game would jump to the place in memory which handles that traffic... which is now whatever code Insomniac tagged at the end of their obese EULA. Now that they shoved code into a place in memory that they knew the PS2 would happen to wander through, that code loaded the patch data and fixed the damage they to the gap in memory between the EULA and the network code.
And that, dear readers, is why AMD implemented hardware support for Data Execution Prevention (DEP) found in Windows XP and later.
Although, I wonder, did they need to break the EULA when they did this? Food for thought.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 24, 2013 - 11:57 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: palit, gtx 780, gaming, super jetstream, jetstream
AIB partner Palit has announced a speedy GTX 780 of its own with the GTX 780 Super JetStream graphics card. This card has a triple fan cooler and is one of the fastest GTX 780’s announced so far (matching the GPU clocks of the Gainward Phantom GLH).
The Palit GTX 780 Super JetStream clocks the GPU’s 2,304 CUDA cores to 980 MHz base and 1033 MHz boost. Palit has also slightly overclocked the 3GB GDDR5 memory at 6200 MHz. For comparison, NVIDIA clocks the reference card at 863 MHz base, 900 MHz boost, and 6008 MHz memory. Palit is also producing a non-Super JetStream card clocked at 902 MHz base and 954 MHz boost.
The differentiating factor here beyond the factory overclock is Palit’s own JetStream cooler. This cooler, well, cools an aluminum fin stack (copper base) using two 80mm fans on either side of a single center-mounted 90mm fan. The fans sit beneath a black and gold colored shroud. According to Palit, the JetStream cooler is rated at 6 dB quieter and 10-degrees Celsius cooler than the reference NVIDIA cooler.
Additionally, the GTX 780 Super JetStream comes with an 8-phase PWM with DrMOS technology.
Palit has not yet released details on where and when the GPU will be available, or how much it will cost.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 24, 2013 - 03:28 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: phantom glh, gtx 780, gk110, gaming, gainward
The rumored GTX 760 graphics cards are still not available, but graphics enthusiasts do have a number of new factory overclocked GTX 780 cards with custom coolers to drool over. One such new GTX 780 card is the so-called GTX 780 Phantom GLH card from Gainward. This card is 2.5 slot monster that pairs the GTX 780 GPU with custom power phases and a giant block of aluminum and copper to support a healthy factory overclock.
This new Gainward Phanton GLH card pushes the GTX 780 GPU farther than the company's own GTX 780 Phantom. It has a base clock of 980MHz, boost clock of 1033 MHz, and slightly overclocked 6200 MHz memory. Of course, being based on NVIDIA's GTX 780 chip, the Phanton GLH features 2,304 CUDA cores and 192 Texture Units within 12 SMX units. The Phantom GLH's 3GB of overclocked GDDR5 memory affords the card 297.6 GB/s of memory bandwidth. Gainward claims that the new card is up to 19% faster than NVIDIA's reference GTX 780 graphics card.
To put that in perspective, the Gainward GTX 780 Phantom (non-GLH) is clocked at 902 MHz base and 954 MHz boost. Further, NVIDIA"s stock GTX 780 is has GPU clockspeeds of 863 MHz base, 900 MHz boost, and 6008 MHz for the memory. In other words, it is an impressive factory overclock, and I'm interested to see how much headroom is left for enthusiasts to push the chip further with the included cooler.
Other features of the upcoming Gainward GTX 780 Phanton GLH include an 8-phase PWM with DrMOS technology, a large aluminum fin stack with removable fans that is connected to a copper GPU block via five 8mm heatpipes, and an EXPERTmode option in the company's overclocking utility. Video outputs are the same as the reference design, with two DVI, one DisplayPort, and one HDMI port.
There is no word on pricing or when (and where) it will be available, but expect this beastly card to come at a premium. Although, as one of the fastest factory overclocked GTX 780 cards (soon to be) available, it may be worth it!
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 20, 2013 - 12:28 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, gtx 760, GK104, gk-104, gaming
There have been rumors of a new mid-range Kepler-based graphics card coming that will be next entry in the GTX 700-series. This new GPU is rumored to be called the GeForce GTX 760. If the specifications are true, the card will fit between the existing GTX 660 and GTX 660 Ti graphics cards as far as hardware specifications and pricing. While it will be under the GTX 700-series, it will not have the faster 7Gbps memory clockspeed of the other 700-series cards.
As far as specifications, Videocardz claims to have the final specifications list in a recent news post. The GTX 760 is rumored to be the latest graphics card to use NVIDIA's GK-104 "Kepler" GPU. The GTX 760 will have some units disabled for a GPU with 1,152 CUDA cores, 96 Texture Manipulation Units (TMUs), and 32 Raster Operations Processors (ROPs). The GPU supports NVIDIA's latest GPU Boost 2.0 technology which will automatically ratchet up the Boost clockspeed so long as temperature allows. It has a base clockspeed of 980 MHz and a boost clockspeed of 1,033 Mhz.
GTX 760 graphics cards will allegedly come in both 2GB and 4GB GDDR5 memory flavors. NVIDIA is clocking the memory at 6 Gbps (1502 MHz), which makes it the fist 700-series part to not take advantage of faster memory chips. However, there is a bit of saving grace as NVIDIA has moved to a 256-bit memory bus. This allows the card to still see a respectable bump in memory bandwidth of 192 GB/s on the GTX 760 versus the GTX 660/GTX 660 Ti's 144.2 GB/s bandwidth.
Compared to the existing mid-range 600-series cards, the GTX 760 has base and boost GPU clockspeeds equal to the GTX 660 (and faster than the GTX 660 TI). Memory clockspeed is also unchanged on the new card, though it has a wider memory bus. The GTX 760 has 192 more CUDA cores than the GTX 660, but 192 fewer CUDA cores versus the GTX 660 Ti. TMUs are also sit evenly between the two 600-series cards, but the GTX 760 does have 8 more ROPs enabled than both the 660 and 660 Ti.
Graphics cards with the upcoming GTX 760 GPU will be powered by two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors, and it has a 170W TDP. That power consumption puts the card between the 150W GTX 660 Ti and the higher-end 230W GTX 770. It appears that the card will not come with the high-end stock metallic cooler used in the other 700-series cards, though the various AIBs are likely to fit the GPU with their own custom aftermarket coolers. Video outputs on the cards will incluce DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI, and DisplayPort.
The chart below compares the specifications between the GTX 660, GTX 660 Ti, GTX 770, and the rumored GTX 760.
|GTX 760||GTX 660||GTX 660 Ti||GTX 770|
|GPU Base||980 MHz||980 Mhz||915 Mhz||1046 Mhz|
|GPU Boost||1033 MHz||1033 MHz||980 Mhz||1085 MHz|
|Memory Clock||1502 MHz||1502 MHx||1502 Mhz||1752 Mhz|
|Bandwidth||192 GB/s||144.2 GB/s||144.2 GB/s||224 GB/s|
|TDP||170 W||140 W||150 W||230 W|
The card is supposedly going to be released on June 25th for around $300. It will compete with AMD's 7950 with boost graphics card. Further, the card will be an alternative to NVIDIA's own GTX 660 Ti and an upgrade for gamers still running GTX 560 cards with the company's older Fermi-based GPU.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 19, 2013 - 09:08 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xbox one, gaming, DRM, disc
Microsoft faced a major backlash from users following the unveiling of its latest Xbox One console. Users were rather unnerved at Microsoft’s reveal that the new console would be required to “phone home” at least once every 24 hours in order to authenticate games and allow sharing. Considering Sony carried forward the disc traditions of the PS3 combined with the user uproar, Microsoft has reconsidered and issued an update to users via a blog post titled (in part) “Your Feedback Matters.”
Amidst the uncertainty caused by various MS sources issuing statements about functionality and DRM that conflict with one another and an air of as-yet-un-announced secrecy pre-E3 where MS released just enough info about the DRM to get users scared (can you tell the way MS handled this irked me?), the company talked about the Xbox One moving forward and taking advantage of the ‘digital age.’ The new console would require online authentication (and daily check-ins), but would also allow sharing of your game library with up to 10 other people, re-downloadable games that can be installed on other consoles (and played) so long as you log into your Xbox Live account (the latter bit is similar in nature to Steam on the PC). Further, disc games could be resold or gifted if the publishers allow it.
That has changed now, however. Microsoft has reconsidered its position and is going back to the way things work(ed) on the existing Xbox 360. Instead of taking the logical approach of keeping with the plan but removing the daily authentication requirement for games if you keep the game disc in the tray, Microsoft has taken their
ball Xbox One controller and completely backtracked.
DRM on the Xbox One is now as follows, and these changes go in place of (not in addition to) the previously announced sharing and reselling functionalities.
For physical disc games:
According to Xbox Wire, after their initial setup and installation, disc-based games will not require an internet connection for offline functionality (though multiplayer components will, obviously, need an active connection). Even better, trading and reselling of disc-based games is no longer limited by publishers. Trading, selling, gifting, renting, et al of physical disc-based games "will work just as it does today on the Xbox 360." Microsoft is also not region locking physical games, which means that you will not have to worry about games purchased abroad working on your console at home.
In order to play disc-based games, you will need to keep the game disc in the tray, even if it is installed on the hard drive, however.
Changes to Downloaded games:
As far as downloadable games, Microsoft is restricting these titles such that they cannot be shared or resold. In the previous model, you would have been able to share the titles with your family, but not anymore. You will still be able to re-download the games.
There is no word on whether or not gamers will still lose access to all of the titles in their game library if their Xbox Live accounts are ever banned. It is likely that gamers will lose any downloadable games though as those are effectively tied to a single Xbox Live account.
While at first glance it may seem as though gamers won this round, in the end no one really won. Instead of Microsoft working around gamers concerns for physical media and moving forward together, it is as though Microsoft has thrown up its hands in frustration, and tossed out all of the innovative aspects for digital/downloadable titles along with the undesirable daily authentication and other invasive DRM measures that gamers clearly indicated they did not want.
I believe that Microsoft should have kept to the original game plan, but added an exception to the daily check-in rules so long as the console was able to authenticate the game offline by identifying a physical game disc in the tray. That way, gamers that are not comfortable with (or able to) keeping the Xbox One connected to the internet could continue to play games using discs while also allowing those with always-on Xbox One consoles the privileges of sharing their libraries. Doing so would have also helped ease the console gaming populance as a whole into Microsoft's ideal digital age once the next Xbox comes out. However, instead of simply toning down the changes, Microsoft has completely backtracked, and now no one wins. Sigh.
What are your thoughts on Microsoft's latest changes to the Xbox One? Was it the right move, or were you looking forward to increased freedom with your digitally-downloaded games?
- The PS4 and Xbox One Hardware Revealed, Console Makers Have Different Goals @ PC Perspective
- E3 2013: Microsoft can ban your Xbox One library @ PC Perspective
Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2013 - 03:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: witcher 2, mod, gaming
The Witcher is a series which some gamers have completely missed, labeling it yet another 3rd person hack n' slash, Elder Scroll-ish game that hasn't got much going for it. However this impression is inaccurate, at least in part. While it is indeed a 3rd person game there is a much richer storyline behind the monsters, one which is a bit more adult themed than in similar games, with political manipulations and no real heroes to speak of, merely powerful characters doing what they think is best. The Enhanced Edition came out recently with graphical improvements that will cripple even current generation GPUs and is compatible with the many mods that have already been made. Later this month one of the developers will be finalizing and releasing a new Combat Rebalancing mod which will add even more improvements to the game, even though the Witcher 3 is due out soon and this version was originally released two years ago. If you are unfamiliar with the series you should drop by Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for details and consider picking up the game from Steam.
"A small leaflet on the news stand informs us that Andrzej ‘Flash’ Kwiatkowski, an ex-modder and now ‘Gameplay Designer’ at CD Projekt, has returned to modding in an effort to rebalance the combat in Witcher 2. The file size is currently 8 gigabytes, which is too many floppy disks to consider, but should be smaller by release. Which should be very soon."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Gunpoint @ Kitguru
- Of Course Valve Are Working On Half-Life 3, Now Shush @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Shadowrun Returns Returning Next Month, Bringing Editor @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- GoG Summer Sale Begins, Torchlight Currently Free @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Nintendo’s first free-to-play title announced as Steel Diver @ HEXUS
- Microsoft Responds on Fake Xbox One E3 Demo Story @ NGOHQ
- Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen PlayStation 3 @ eTeknix
- The Last Of Us Review (Playstation 3) @ Kitguru
- Lobster, a New Game Programming Language, Now Available As Open Source @ Slashdot
Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2013 - 02:37 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: freespace, gaming, interplay
Interplay were the original owners of the Freespace IP and sold it off to THQ, who did absolutely nothing with it and apparently did not see any value in it as THQ just sold it back to Interplay for a mere $7500. This is not necessarily good news as Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN points out Interplay is not necessarily the healthiest company right now. So far there is no news about future releases nor really anything apart from the transfer of ownership, but at least we know Freespace is still somewhat alive.
"Yes, Interplay, the company who’s only slightly more existent than THQ at this point. The publisher sealed the deal with a cool-as-an-airless-vacuum sum of $7500, which is a disturbingly small amount of my total yearly rent. If I moved someplace else, I could own Freespace. Right now. I will carry this regret to my deathbed."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- No Force Can Prevent There Being A Warhammer 40K MMO @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Metro: Last Light Review @ OCC
- Metro: Last Light Review @ Techgage
- The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing @ Kitguru
- 10 E3 Trailers You Don't Want to Miss @ Wired
- Borderlands 2 Step By Step Modding Guide @ TechwareLabs
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 6, 2013 - 10:31 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: evga, minibox, mini-itx, gtx titan, gk110, gaming, computex, computex 2013
First shown off at CES 2013, the EVGA Minibox is a small form factor chassis for Mini-ITX systems that can accommodate large graphics cards. EVGA has managed to enable users to pack a lot of hardware into this tiny form factor chassis. As a demonstration of the case's capabilities, the company showed off the latest version using a full system build with Core i7-4770K and GTX TITAN interals at Computex this week in Taipei.
The Minibox chassis itself is a dark brushed metal case with two USB 3.0 ports on the front IO and space for a slot loading optical drive. The MiniBox chassis further features a motherboard tray that supports Mini-ITX boards, two 2.5" SATA hard drive bays – and best of all – enough room to install full size GPUs. In order to support lengthy graphics cards, EVGA is including a small form factor 500W power supply that is mounted on the floor of the case..
HEXUS reporters spot the EVGA Minibox at Computex 2013. Look how small it is!
There will be at least two SKUs of the Minibox, depending on whether you want to go with air or water cooling. According to Bit-Tech.net, the air cooled version will use two 92mm fans in the top of the case and one 80mm fan for the bottom-mounted PSU. The water cooled SKU will be slightly larger but have enough room for a water cooling radiator (likely 240mm). Beyond that, details are scarce, but the air cooled version is said to be available as soon as next month with water cooled options becoming available later this year.
The Minibox looks to be one of the better Mini-ITX cases out there (although the price is still unknown), and should be popular among enthusiasts wanting a small box that does not sacrifice gaming potential.
Subject: General Tech | June 5, 2013 - 03:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, Alpha, Prison Architect
The makers of DEFCON have come up with another very original game idea which they are currently developing and which is available in an alpha version on Steam. Prison Architect is a game which is exactly as it's name implies, you attempt to run a prison and keep the guards safe and the prisoners controlled. This is not about abusing prisoners but instead is an exploration into the dynamics of the prison system and how difficult it can be to run a safe prison. As an example of how the prisoners work the designers revealed to TechSpot that "50% of prisoners plead innocent to their crimes, and about 5% of all prisoners are actually innocent" which has an effect on their behaviour. Check out the interview to see if you might be interested in trying out the alpha.
"Prison Architect is like 'SimPrison', if there ever was one, made by people who seem to be damn near fearless about making video games about uncomfortable topics. The game is from the indie studio Introversion, who have also made the saddest/best game about nuclear war.
Here's a brief interview with Introversion's own architects about their newest work. They served up some fascinating answers about the possibilities of a game about building and running a prison."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Mirror’s Edge 2 Is Probably A Thing Again @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- A Slash From The Past: Shadow Warrior Free On Steam @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Microsoft and 343 Industries announce Halo: Spartan Assault @ The Inquirer
- AMD Aiming To Smooth Ports Between PC And Console @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2013 - 04:36 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: z87, ROG, Maximus VI Formula, maximus vi, Intel, haswell, gaming, g30, crosschill, computex 2013, computex, asus
During an ASUS ROG press conference at Computex 2013 in Taipei, Taiwan, ASUS launched a number of new bits of hardware aimed at PC gamers and overclocking enthusiasts. In addition to the mini ITX Maximus VI Impact launch, ASUS showed off the ASUS Maximus VI Formula motherboard, OC Panel accessory, and ROG G30 desktop. The available details on each piece of hardware is as follows:
ASUS Maximus VI Formula Motherboard
While ASUS hinted at several of its Z87 motherboards last month by allowing us to post teaser photos ahead of the launch, until today enthusiasts have not seen the latest "Formula" motherboard. However, now that the board is official, you can see the new Z87 motherboard in high resolution photos below!
The board comes in red and black colors, and surprisingly, comes equipped with ASUS' thermal armor accessory which includes a plastic shroud for the front of the motherboard and a SECC back-plate with thermal pads to aid in cooling and supporting the motherboard (even with heavy CPU HSFs). In addition to the thermal armor, the board has finned heatsinks on the PCH and VRM hardware. The VRM heatsink in particular uses the company's CrossChill technology which allows user to integrate the VRM heatsink into their water cooling loop or leave it as air-cooled. The board also features a diagnostic display and start/reset buttons.
The ASUS Maximus VI Formula features a LGA 1150 CPU socket, four dual channel DDR3 DIMM slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots and a total of 10 SATA 3 6Gbps ports.
The rear IO panel includes a mPCI-E Combo II card that supports 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless radios along with a M.2 NGFF (Next Generation Form Factor) SSD slot at the top. Other IO includes:
- 4 x USB 2.0 ports (one used for BIOS flashing)
- 6 x USB 3.0 ports
- 2 x HDMI video outputs
- 1 x S/PDIF connector
- 1 x RJ45 Gigabit LAN
- 6 x analog audio jacks
Overclocking technology includes ASUS' Extreme Engine DIGI+ III power delivery that incorporates 60A BlackWing chokes, (90% efficient) NexFET MOSFETs, and 10K Black Metallic capacitors.
Finally, ASUS has also added a SupremeFX chipset for quality onboard audio. This audio chip is capable of 120dB SNR, a headphone amplifier for 600 ohm cans, EMI shielding, and quality OpAMPs.
ASUS OC Panel Overclocking Accessory
The ASUS OC Panel is a hardware accessory for the company's ROG Maximus VI Extreme motherboard. It allows you to adjust the BCLK and other settings related to overclocking your processor in real time. It also provides CPU temperature feedback on the top of the LED display.
According to the press release, overclockers Andre Yang and Shamino managed to push a system with a Maximus VI Extreme motherboard, 32GB RAM, and a Core-i7 Haswell processor to 7GHz CPU and 4200MHz clockspeed using liquid nitrogen cooling. It looks like a cool accessory that will allow you to easily adjust the overclocking settings without rebooting into the UEFI BIOS. Pricing and availability have not been announced, but expect it soon.
ASUS ROG G30 Gaming Desktop
The ROG TYTAN G30 desktop PC features a stylized case with red LEDs and a front door with ROG and ASUS logos. Internals include an Intel Core i7 4770K "Haswell" processor and a NVIDIA GTX 780 graphics card. Even better, ASUS is using liquid cooling for the CPU, and offers a 1-button overclock of all four CPU cores to 4.1GHz. The PC also integrates ASUS' SonicMaster and AudioWizard technology which reportedly enhances in-game audio.
Again, pricing and availability for the haswell gaming PC are still unknown.
What do you think of ASUS' recent ROG product announcements? Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Computex 2013 news throughout the week!
- ASUS Maximus VI Impact ROG Mini-ITX Motherboard @ PC Perspective
- ASUS Z87 Motherboard Lineup Preview @ PC Perspective
- ASUS "We Transform" Press Conference: Mobile devices, tablets, VivoPC, and more! @ PC Perspective
- ASUS VivoPC and VivoMouse Details @ PC Perspective
- ASUS Working On GTX 770 Poseidon With Hybrid Air/Water Cooler @ PC Perspective
- ASUS G750 Gaming Notebook With Haswell and GTX 700M Hardware @ PC Perspective