Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 11, 2012 - 03:48 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: virtualization, tegra, Lucidlogix, gpu, gaming, game, embedded, CES2012, CES
Earlier today Lucid (LucidLogix), the company behind quite a few GPU virtualization technologies, announced yet another piece of GPU virtualization software. This time; however, instead of wrangling as much performance as possible from multi-GPU beasts, this technology- codenamed "XLR8"- is aimed at the mobile market of tablets, smartphones, and laptops with integrated graphics. Such products are powered by integrated GPUs in AMD's APUs and Intel's Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors, and by the GPUs in mobile SoCs (system on a chip) like Nvidia's Tegra and ARM's Mali graphics processors. XLR8 uses "unique CPU multithreading" to feed the mobile GPUs as efficiently as possible.
According to Lucid, many of the PC graphics issues are magnified when it comes to embedded GPUS including visual tearing, pipeline inefficiencies, power management, and artifacting. Offir Remez, president of Lucid further stated that most of the big, popular PC games have playability issues on mobile platforms and on computers with integrated graphics. "If it's got a GPU, we can improve the end user experience."
The company further expanded that the XLR8 technology works by disabling unnecessary and redundant processes in addition to "unique multithreading" to improve system (gaming) responsiveness up to 200 percent. The XLR8 software monitors battery drain and power draw while shutting down background processes to increase CPU frame generation and minimizing redundant GPU rendering processes.
If this sounds a lot like marketing speak, it certainly does. On the other hand, Lucid has been able to push some useful virtualization technology into desktops, so maybe mobile platforms are just the next step for the company. The company is currently demonstrating the XLR8 software in private at CES and is being tested by hardware partners. Mobile SoC are getting faster and more powerful, and on battery powered devices there is always room for efficiency improvements. Once reviewers manage to get their hands on some actual hardware, and XLR8 is past the concept/testing stage you can bet that people will have a better understanding of what exactly XLR8 is capable of.
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech | January 9, 2012 - 01:39 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: valve, steam, growth, gaming, game
Valve, the company behind the Steam digital (game) distribution service recently announced their 2011 growth data for Steam. Tech Power Up reports that Steam did exceptionally well last year and managed to grow its sales numbers and user base quite a bit.
Among the data, the service saw a more than 100% growth in year over year sales "for the seventh straight year." Further, the service boasted 5 million simultaneous players during the Steam Holiday Sale! Even more mind blowing is the amount of data the company served to users at 780 Petabytes of data (that's a lot of game downloads; about 89.35 million copies of Dirt 3 for example!).
Steam, taking my money since HL2.
Also, Valve managed to bring more games into the Steamworks fold including Skyrim and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Since the program's inception, over 400 games have shipped with the Steam DRM and achievements. Quite a success! CEO Gabe Newell seems happy about the service's success and confident about the future. He was quoted by the site in stating "Looking forward, we are preparing for the launch of the Big Picture UI mode," and that Steam continues to evolve to meet customer and game developer demands for content. More information can be found here.
I'm glad that Steam is continuing to grow. On the other hand, my wallet is going to hate me come the Steam Summer Sale!
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | January 8, 2012 - 02:36 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: opinion, gaming, game of the year, fps, deus ex: human revolution, deus ex
I have to say that 2011 was a pretty good year for PC gaming. Sure, it wasn't without some drab moments; however the diamonds in the rough more than made up for it. Those gems are the PC games that especially stood out for being of quality stock and most of all were awesomely fun.
Skyrim and Battlefield 3 have received a good deal of attention and praise among the PC Per staff, but I'm going to toss the guys a curve ball and name Deus Ex: Human Revolution as my personal favorite PC Game of the Year 2011. Here's why!
Well, first a bit of history. Growing up, I was always a big PC gamer (earliest game I remember is Digger on an actually floppy floppy disk), but somehow missed the first Deus Ex. I read about it year after year on various technology and gaming sites' "Greatest PC Games of All Time" lists, but somehow never picked it up. A couple years ago, I saw it pop up on a Steam sale, so (naturally) I bought it and gave it a shot. There was a lot of hype behind it, and as such it had a lot to live up to.
Try taking away my equiptment now!
Unfortunately, it never really came close to living up to all of the hype and praise that people gave it. That is not to say that it's a bad game, just that compared to the newer games that I was used to it wasn't my personal favorite. From the perspective of comparing it with games of its time, it certainly is an interesting release and relatively really good. Compared to the much improved graphics, controls, budgets, and hardware of years later (when I finally played it); however, it simply did not measure up. One of my main gripes with the game was that the AI was not all that great and at some points would have super vision that could spot me from a football field away in the shadows. Had I played it when it came out and had games of that era to compare it to, (and the nostalgic love) I'm sure I would be among those singing it's praises but as a late comer to the game I just wasn't interested.
While PC gamers grew up with Deus Ex, I grew up with the Metal Gear Solid series and I absolutely loved sneaking around and being Solid Snake. Sure, the story was a crazy one, but the same could be said for Deus Ex. That's not to say that I didn't play PC games like Doom 3 (I went from Wolfenstein 3D to Doom 3 due to not growing up with constant internet access living out in the boonies and not having the money for a powerful GPU) but that the games that most stick around in my mind as favorites and fond memories were things like MGS (whereas others may have held Deus Ex for example). I did find Deus Ex's story interesting though even if I wasn't too impressed with the graphics or game play, so when I read that a new Deus Ex was coming out and that it was getting the proper PC attention (thanks, Nixxes!) as it should, I jumped on the chance to play it. Now that I have built a few PCs and have a decent video card, playing the new Deus Ex: Human Revolution was a "no-brainer".
Enough vents to make even Solid Snake jealous!
To make what could be a long and spoiler-ific story about Deus Ex: HR short, the game is my personal game of the year because it made me feel like Solid Snake again, vents and all. The conversations, hacking, story, augments, and graphics were all really fun and memorable. From walking around the city and listening to the people to punching through a wall to take out an enemy to sneaking through the vents and reading all the emails the game was immersive and I found myself staying up all night not wanting to go to sleep in favor of breaking into my co-workers office and reading their email... umm all in the name of keeping the office secure (some Head of Security I was!). Some of the comments I blogged about just after completing the game include that despite the long loading times, there are more vents than you can shake a stick at and being able to stealth around was very fun. More specifically, I noted:
"The emails and conversations that you overhear walking around the city are nice touches that help immersion. Some people have complained about the graphics quality; however, for what it is I find them to be very good. For a multi-platform game, it certainly runs well on the PC, which is an exceptional feat in this day and age!. . . . I have to say that it was an awesome experience!"
I'm sure that Ryan will disagree that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is the Game Of The Year, but for me it was very memorable, fun, and far exceeded my expectations. Now that I have found out about some cool sounding mods for the original Deus Ex, I may have to give it a second chance ;)
I invite the rest of the PC Per crew to share their personal Game of the Year as well as you, the readers! What was your favorite game this year, and why?
Runners up included Saints Row: The Third which is also crazy fun and Portal 2 who's story was awesome but came out so early in the year that it slipped my mind as GOTY.
Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2012 - 01:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, jagged alliance
Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN were lucky enough to get their hands on Jagged Alliance - Back in Business, a game that was on its way to surpassing Duke Nukem Forever's record for longest game in development. The new incarnation of the beloved turn based squad combat game is, as many fans are aware, in real time with a pause button to allow you to issue commands. On the other hand it seems that the game is exactly like JA2 in that RPS recognized every tree, fence hole and building from JA2 ... and those who played it through multiple times will likely recognize them too. One of the biggest changes, at least for the version they played with, is the lack of fog of war; when you hit a map you can see every single enemy and their moves, even without line of site. As it turns out the enemy AI is even dumber than you thought. Check out the full preview here.
"I’ve been playing an early version of Jagged Alliance – Back In Action, the upcoming remake of one of my most beloved games. I keep my copy of Jagged Alliance 2 atop a giant stack of Soldier of Fortune magazines, which stands between an ashtray containing a smouldering over-sized cigar, some satellite surveillance photos of a dictator’s villa, a few scattered dogtags (some with bulletholes through them) and a pile of empty shell casings. I don’t know why I keep a lot of that stuff but I guess it reminds me how much of a man I am. Can Back In Action do the same?"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Star Wars: The Old Republic - First Impressions @ Techgage
- Batman Arkham City 3D Vision Game Review @ Benchmark Reviews
- Rockstar Threatens Max Payne 3 "Barrage" @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Microsoft Flight Out This Spring, Free @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Mass Effect 3 Has Fat Monsters: PROOF @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Trine 2: 3D Vision 2 Experience @ Hi Tech Legion
- Saints Row: The Third Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Syndicate’s Co-Op Agents Are Foursome @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech | December 21, 2011 - 04:06 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, serious sam, serious sam 3 bfe
In a nice change from many other recently released games, Serious Sam 3 was obviously designed with PC gaming in mind. While it is still a DX9 game, the developers spent a significant amount of effort pushing DX9 as far as it could go to provide you with great visuals and an options screen that gives you a lot more control than other recent
console ports games. [H]ard|OCP's testing shows the game scoffs at high resolutions, with the performance at 2560x1600 being essentially the same as at 1920 x 1280. AMD holds a slight lead in performance over NVIDIA, though not enough to really brag about, either manufacturer will give you a great experience while playing this game. Check it out here.
"Croteam's latest installment in the Serious Sam series takes us back to a time when first person shooters were designed around fragging endless waves of zombified enemies, cover did not exist, and rocket launchers were semi-automatic weapons. This DX9 game comes packed with graphics options that push the current generation of graphics cards to the limit."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Winter’s Already Here, Silly: Game Of Thrones @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Hooray! A Skyrim UI Mod: SkyUI @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Review: 3D Vision 2 Experience @ Hi Tech Legion
- Gaming's biggest joys—and most bitter disappointments—of 2011 @ Ars Technica
- Skyrim LAA Patch @ [H]ard|OCP
- The Highly Anticipated Grand Theft Auto V @ kitguru
- PlayStation Move Games Roundup December 2011 @ HardwareHeaven
Subject: General Tech | December 14, 2011 - 12:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, dx11, batman arkham city
Batman makes it three for three as far as failed patches go for the current major releases. Battlefield's patch was probably the best of the three, Skyrim being the worst with Batman's simply failing to deliver what it promised ... improved DX11 performance. [H]ard|OCP recently reviewed the original game and now has published the results of their testing with the new patch. The good news is that most of the stuttering and crashes have been fixed, leaving only significantly lower performance when in DX11 mode compared to DX9. Originally you could expect a 50% reduction in fps when enabling DX11 and NVIDIA users can expect the same results at this point, AMD users will see their performance reduced by even more than pre-patch though the game its self should be more stable. If you want to run Batman Arkham Asylum at high resolution, you better have two GPUs.
"Days after our Batman: Arkham City Gameplay Performance and IQ review was published, the game was patched. The patch was ostensibly reported to fix DirectX 11 performance problems plaguing the game, but does it really do the trick? Where do our DX11 video cards stand now?"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- World of Tanks NVIDIA 3D Vision Game Review @ Benchmark Reviews
- Serious Sam 3: BFE @ kitguru
- Alan Wake PC: The First Interview @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Hands On: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Browse’n'Bash: C&C Tiberium Alliances @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Nuclear Dawning For Free This Weekend @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Star Wars: The Old Republic @ HardwareHeaven
- Batman: Arkham City Performance After The DX11 Patch @ Legit Reviews
- Valve, Half-Life 3 release date, and that t-shirt logo @ HEXUS
- More Details about South Park: The Game @ Kitguru
- Ninjalane Podcast - HWBot Country Cup 2011 Our Best Games of the Year
- Assassins Creed: Revelations PlayStation 3 @ Tweaktown
Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2011 - 11:45 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tweaks, skyrim, nvidia, gaming, elder scrolls V
NVIDIA has put together a comprehensive tweak guide for getting the most from Skyrim. The tweaks themselves also apply to AMD GPUs so just because you aren't running an NVIDIA GPU right now doesn't mean you should skip checking out the information they've posted. Much of the information deals with the settings you find under the options menu, from choosing how you want autosaves to work to how far you should set your draw distance to.
They focus on the effects of the graphical settings for the majority of the article as it will be there that most of the tweaking will be done. Results of combining FXAA and MSAA are covered, both in terms of visual quality and performance impact at several different resolutions. As well, textures and shadow quality are examined in depth, including object detail. There are settings which seem to give you improved visual quality with little to no impact on your frame rate, options such as reflections, anisotropic filtering and actor fade can be turned up without crippling your system.
From there they get into the real tweaks, requiring you to edit .ini files (make a copy first) and become acquainted with the console. The steps to disable V-Sync to uncap your frame rates and ditch the annoying mouse stuttering, increase your field of view and fine tune the shadows of Skyrim are revealed. They also cover the console commands in the game, not just how to turn god mode on and off but also how to teleport, turn off grass and other effects for troubleshooting, setting up batch files that can be run during the game and even the 'triple q' quick quit to desktop.
Batman can clean up everything in Arkham City except for the new villain that goes by the name of DX11
Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2011 - 12:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: dx11, batman arkham city, gaming
We have seen previously that at the time of release, Batman Arkham City was not really a DX11 game. Sure you could enable DX11 but it would make the game unplayable. [H]ard|OCP were one of the first to complain about the performance and recently they revisited the game now that we have some new drivers ... and were disappointed again. Right now the best experience you can have is with a GTX580 and with DX11 effects disabled. [H] feels this is truly sad as tessellation would bring a lot to the atmosphere of the game but until DX11 is fixed you simply won't be able to see the game as it should be. Their recommendation is to hold off on purchasing this game until they have fixed it.
"The Caped Crusader has returned to crack more skulls on the streets of Arkham City. Rocksteady has enhanced the venerable UE3 engine with DirectX 11 and PhysX support, but can this aging graphics engine really handle such large, richly detailed outdoor areas? You might be surprised."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Serious Sam 3 BFE @ HardwareHeaven
- Batman Arkham City Review: PhysX and 3D Vision 2 Experience @Hi Tech Legion
- Surprise! A New X3 Expansion Beams In @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Flatout 3: “20,000 Fully Destructible Objects” @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Back To Front(ier): Pioneer @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Need for Speed: The Run (PS3) @ HEXUS
- Super Mario 3D Land Nintendo 3DS @ Tweaktown
- Rayman Origins (XBOX 360) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 7, 2011 - 09:38 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: p280, gaming, eleven hundred, cases, antec
While it is not often that users upgrade their computer cases without also updating the internals (at least compared to the opposite scenario), Antec still has you covered. If you purchase an Antec P280 or Eleven Hundred gaming case to house your trusty computer components that are only up to USB 2.0 compatible the two USB 3.0 ports are useless as the internal connector will not be compatible. Fret not; however, as the company has listened to user feedback and will now ship users a free adapter so that the front panel USB ports will be compatible with your motherboard (though only up to USB 2.0 speeds, of course).
Antec has been quoted by Maximum PC in stating that “We have hear the feedback you and your readers have given us regarding the USB 3.0 internal connector.” The further detailed that the specific compatibility issue is with the internal header connection, which would not work with older motherboards. As of today, users in such a predicament can visit the Antec website’s support page here or call 1-(800)-22ANTEC in the United States to request an adapter. The adapter is free; however, an invoice or other proof of purchase showing you bought one of the affected cases will be required.
The Antec P280's front panel USB 3.0 ports
I have to say that this is quite good on Antec’s part and it shows that they are really listening to customer feedback. For more on the company, why not check out the latest Inside Perspective interview with Antec?
Subject: General Tech | November 30, 2011 - 12:51 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, batman arkham city, dx11, oops, consolitis
Just in case you were under the impression that Ryan was the only one having issues with DirectX 11 in Batman Arkham City, check out the problems [H]ard|OCP had. DX11 was essentially unplayable even on multi-GPU systems, with NVIDIA handling the game a little better than AMD. Using DX 11 in the game enables HBAO and tessellation as well as something new for NVIDIA users called Multi-View Soft Shadows, which do add to the visual quality of the game, if you are willing to live with an average 30fps or so ... with bonus stuttering. Even better, this is yet another example of a game with its frames capped by default, not quite as bad as Need For Speed The Run but it is still limited to 24-62fps until an .ini file tweak is performed.
"Batman: Arkham City is upon us, and we wanted to give you a preliminary look at how performance is stacking up. We've found some issues running in DX11 that seem to be a detriment to gameplay. DX11 may not be the best option, at this time, for this game, our performance data and feedback explain why."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Battlefield 3 Mini Tweak Guide for Latency (ping) and more @ Tweaktown
- Batman: Arkham City Performance Analysis @ Tweaktown
- The Lord of the Rings: War in the North (PC) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Batman: Arkham City (PC) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Jagged Alliance: Not Yet Back In Action @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Major Skyrim patch released for Xbox 360, PS3, PC @ HEXUS
- Need For Speed: The Run @ kitguru
- Saints Row: The Third (Xbox360) @ HEXUS
- Tekken Hybrid (PS3) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Game Review (XBOX 360) @ HardwareHeaven
- Need for Speed: The Run (XBOX 360 / PS3) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven