Microsoft Shows Off Xbox One SoC At Hot Chips 25

Subject: General Tech | August 29, 2013 - 11:22 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, SoC, microsoft, gaming, console, amd

At the Hot Chips conference earlier this week, Microsoft showed off several slides detailing the SoC used in its upcoming Xbox One gaming console.

The Xbox One uses a System on a Chip (SoC) designed by AMD’s Semi-Custom Business Unit. The processor features eight “Jaguar” AMD CPU cores, an AMD GCN (Graphics Core Next) based GPU with 768 shader cores, an audio co-processor, and 32MB of on-chip eSRAM.

The SoC, measuring 363mm^2 is manufactured on TSMC’s 28nm HPM process. The chip can interface with 8GB of DDR3 main memory with bandwidth of 68.3 GB/s or utilize the on-chip SRAM which has bandwidth of 102GB/s. The embedded SRAM is in addition to the smaller L1 and L2 caches. The slides indicate that the GPU and CPU can at least access the SRAM, though it still remains frustratingly unknown if the SoC supports anything like AMD’s hUMA technology which would allow the CPU and GPU to both read and write to the same memory address spaces without having to copy data between CPU and GPU-accessible memory space. It may be that the CPU and GPU can use the SRAM, but the same memory spaces can not be shared, though that may be the pessimist in me talking. On the other hand, there could be something more, but it’s impossible to say from the block diagram spotted by Semi-Accurate at the Microsoft presentation.

Microsoft Xbox One Gaming Console.png

With that said, the slides do reveal a few interesting figures about the SoC that were not known previously. The Xbox One SoC has 47MB of on-chip memory including 32MB eSRAM used by the CPU and GPU and 64KB of SRAM used by the audio co-processor. The chip’s GPU is rated for Microsoft’s DirectX 11.1 and above graphics API. Further, Microsoft rates the GPU at 1.31 TFLOPS, 41 Gigatexels-per-second, and 13.6 Gigapixels-per-second. Additionally, the GCN-based GPU is able to hardware-encode multi-stream H.264 AVC MVC video and hardware decode multiple formats, including H.264 MVC. The hardware encoder is likely being used for the console’s game capture functionality.

The audio processors in the Xbox One SoC use two 128-bit SIMD floating point vector cores rated at 15.4 GFLOPS and “specialized hardware engines” and “signal processing optimized vector and scalar cores.”

The final interesting specification I got from the slides was that the SoC is able to go into a low power state that is as low as 2.5% of the chip’s full power using power islands and clock gating techniques.

You can find all of the geeky details in these slides over at SemiAccurate.

Source: SemiAccurate

Roccat Launches New Kave XTD 5.1 Digital Gaming Headset

Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2013 - 12:50 AM |
Tagged: headset, gaming, kave xtd, roccat, audio, surround sound, 5.1 headset

German manufacturer Roccat recently took the wraps off of the Kave XTD 5.1 Digital gaming headset at Gamescom last week. The new headset is a 25% lighter update to the original Kave 5.1 and has a tweaked headband and mic. The new Kave XTD 5.1 Digital includes 5.1 over-the-ear style headphones, a removable microphone, and a desktop control pod with various audio controls.

Roccat Kave XTD 5.1 Digital Gaming Headset.jpg

The Kave XTD 5.1 Digital has three drivers per ear that are placed at a 12-degree angle and reportedly provide realistic surround sound. The removable microphone has been reworked to provide better sound quality, according to the Roccat press release.

Roccat Kave XTD 5.1 Desktop Remote.jpg

In addition to the headset itself, the Kave 5.1 Digital comes with a control pod with built-in sound card. The desktop remote has a volume dial, mic mute, phone call answer, speaker, and movie mode buttons. Four 3.5mm audio ports on the control pod allow users to connect and control surround sound speakers. Users can then switch between audio going to speakers or the headset by hitting a button on the desktop remote. Further, it has a technology called Smart Link that allows users to pair the pod with a smartphone over bluetooth in order to answer phone calls without removing the headset.

In all it looks like an interesting product, though I would wait for reviews before putting down cash for a 5.1 headset. The Roccat Kave XTD 5.1 Digital will be available in november for $169.99.

Source: Roccat

GCN-Based AMD 7000 Series GPUs Will Fully Support DirectX 11.2 After Driver Update

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 26, 2013 - 01:24 AM |
Tagged: amd, Windows 8.1, microsoft, directx 11.2, graphics cards, gaming, GCN

Earlier this month, several websites reported that AMD’s latest Graphics Core Next (GCN) based graphics cards (7000 series and 8000 series OEM lines) would not be compatible with the Windows 8.1-only DirectX 11.2 API. This was inferred from a statement made by AMD engineer Laylah Mah in an interview with c1 Magazin.

AMD Radeon 7970 GHz Edition.jpg

An AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition.

Fortunately, the GCN-based cards will fully support DirectX 11.2 once an updated driver has been released. As it turns out, Microsoft’s final DirectX 11.2 specification ended up being slightly different than what AMD expected. As a result, the graphics cards do not currently fully support the API. The issue is not one of hardware, however, and an updated driver can allow the GCN-based 7000 series hardware to fully support the latest DirectX 11.2 API and major new features such as tiled resources.

The updated driver will reportedly be released sometime in October to coincide with Microsoft’s release of Windows 8.1. Specifically, Maximum PC quoted AMD in stating the following:

"The Radeon HD 7000 series hardware architecture is fully DirectX 11.2-capable when used with a driver that enables this feature. AMD is planning to enable DirectX 11.2 with a driver update in the Windows 8.1 launch timeframe in October, when DirectX 11.2 ships. Today, AMD is the only GPU manufacturer to offer fully-compatible DirectX 11.1 support, and the only manufacturer to support Tiled Resources Tier-2 within a shipping product stack.”

So fret not, Radeon 7000-series owners, you will be able to fully utilize DX 11.2 and all its features once games start implementing them, and assuming you upgrade to Windows 8.1.

Source: Maximum PC

Just in case you forgot, console gamers are getting new toys

Subject: General Tech | August 21, 2013 - 02:47 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, xbone, ps4, gaming

Today we found out that the PlayStation 4 will be available in the US on November 15th and in the UK on the 29th.  In the US you can expect to pay $400 and across the pond it will run you £349.  Microsoft immediately followed, not by announcing their special day but by revealing a number of the games you will be able to play with hints of very similar release dates.  The Xbone will be more expensive, $500 US or £429 in the UK with pricing on additional controllers also available at The Inquirer.  In case you've forgotten the tech specs you can get a quick refresher here; I will likely still be addicted to Rome 2.

xbox-one-vs-ps4.jpg

"THE DUST IS SETTLING on the E3 games trade show keynotes and we are left picking through the facts given out about the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One consoles.

The good news is that both consoles cost a lot less than the £600 that Amazon had estimated."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: The Inquirer

A little something for every type of gamer this summer

Subject: General Tech | August 14, 2013 - 04:50 PM |
Tagged: gaming, shadowrun returns, tale of two sons, killzone mercenary

If you like your gaming small, the Vita has an interesting little shooter called Kiillzone:Mercenary which can keep your fingers and eyes busy while you are not doing much else.  For those who like their consoles a bit larger there is the Tale of Two Sons, in which you co-op with yourself, one joystick controls one brother while the other controls the second.  There is no way that could be confusing ... maybe it will teach you to focus on two separate things at once?  

For the PC Gamer there is Shadowrun Returns which deserves the name as it pays homage to the old PnP game as well as the classic SNES game.  The campaign it ships with is not overly long, though certainly re-playable if you choose a completely different character the second time around; however there is already another official campaign almost ready for release which will be free for those who Kickstarted the game and inexpensive for those who don't.  The release was as much a developer tool as a game, it was designed for the community to build their own campaigns quickly and easily and already there are several well crafted campaigns and add-ons that have been created which you can easily access through Steam.  Check out an overview at The Register.

sr_5.jpg

"Step forward Microsoft’s latest Summer of Arcade collection – led by the excellent Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – and Harebrained Schemes’ take on Shadowrun, both proving that there’s still reason to take up mouse, keyboard and control pad over the warmer months."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: The Register

Grand Theft Auto V (GTA5) Is Coming to PC?

Subject: General Tech | August 13, 2013 - 06:25 PM |
Tagged: GTA5, gaming

Update 1 (8/14/2013 14:42 EDT): NVIDIA released a statement to HardOCP,

"Please note, during our Thursday’s earnings call, our investor relations team provided a list of important games that gamers are looking forward to on PC this fall, and included Grand Theft Auto V on that list.

 

This statement was made with the intent of expressing enthusiasm for the games industry in general, and was not intended to represent specific knowledge possessed by NVIDIA. NVIDIA does not have information on any possible PC version release of Grand Theft Auto or its availability. We deeply regret the error."

Up to you whether you believe it or not... "NVIDIA does not have information" is pretty assertive although so was the original statement. Either way, on with the original story. (End of Update 1)

Rockstar might be a secretive company but that can only go so far.

Grand Theft Auto V will release for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 on September 17th. You, our readers, may or may not care because it does not pertain to the PC. So, on to more interesting news: NVIDIA quarterly earnings conference call occurred on the 8th of August. Sale of specialty PCs, such as gaming machines and workstations, are increasing. Growth in the PC gaming industry is expected to continue with the fall releases of Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassins Creed 4, and Grand Theft Auto 5.

That is more of my business...

NVIDIA is, and this should be no surprise, in a position to know release dates for many PC titles. Component manufacturers and game publishers alike need to make sure software and hardware interact smoothly. GPUs are complex and issues with Grand Theft Auto will not fly under the radar for either party. As such, I would expect this source to be highly credible despite silence from Rockstar and Take-Two Interactive.

Its predecessor, Grand Theft Auto IV, was released on the PC... eventually. The 360 and PS3 were, again, the only confirmed platforms during development; the PC was only confirmed after the game was launched, sold, played, and beaten by console gamers. We eventually received the title over seven months late, on December 2nd.

Now, I should be able to account for my gaming this autumn.

Source: NVIDIA

Saint's Row 4 and Collector's Edition Absurdity

Subject: General Tech | August 13, 2013 - 03:27 PM |
Tagged: what?, Saints Row IV, gaming

"AAA" games will often launch adjacent fan editions of itself. Gamers can, for an extra ten-to-forty dollars, receive anything from an art book to vouchers for future (or day one) content updates. Marketing and development costs have exploded for titles these days. If done properly, collectors' editions are a method to increase profitability without straying from the expected price point.

But what if part of your marketing is, itself, a product?

saintsrow4.jpg

Saints Row has never been subtle. The first game satisfied the need for a next generation Grand Theft Auto before Rockstar and it did so with gleeful ignorance to tact. Need money? Start a mission where you jump in front of passing cars to sue their drivers.

Already have a lot of money? Buy Saints Row IV: Super Dangerous Wad Wad Edition.

Included with the limited edition:

  • Saints Row IV: Commander in Chief Edition
    • Saints Row IV
    • 'Merica Weapon DLC
    • Screaming Eagle Jet DLC
    • Uncle Sam Suit DLC
  • Full-size replica of the Dub-Step gun
  • A year's membership to Super Car (not really sure what that is)
  • A "Capsule Wardrobe" (?)
  • A personal shopper to help you select said Capsule Wardrobe (??)
  • Plastic Surgery (!)
  • A Toyota Prius, insurance paid for a year (?????)
  • A Lamborghini Gallardo to go with your Prius (?!?!?!?!?!)
    • ... starting to figure out "Super Car" now...
  • Tickets for a Virgin Galactic space flight (sure, at this point, why not?)
  • A full day of spy training and a hostage rescue experience
  • 7 nights, for two, at The Jefferson Hotel in Washington DC
  • Another 7 nights at Top Royal Suite in Dubai

All of this could be yours (and if yours, only yours, no more than one will be sold) for a million dollars. I mean, why not? If a publisher will spend $30-100 million in marketing for a game they might as well get some eccentric fan to foot a bit of the bill in exchange for the... almost literally... presidential treatment.

Certainly got us talking. Saint's Row IV will be available for the PC and other platforms this month, August 20th with Europe following three days later. If you are interested in this edition... no-one seems to know how to purchase it. I guess if you are serious about burning a million, email them?

Source: GameInformer

Desktops and discrete graphics cards still selling thanks to devoted PC gamers

Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2013 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: gaming, jon peddie

The overall market for computers may be down thanks to the advent of tablets and smartphones that have more than enough power for casual gaming but there is still a market for heavy duty silicon.  Jon Peddie Research compares the dedicated PC gamer to motorcycle, 4X4, and sports car enthusiasts; sure a SmartCar will get you from place to place but it won't win any races against high end sports cars.  The very nature of ultramobile devices limits the resolution and features that are possible to display, to an extent the same applies to gaming consoles but for a desktop computer the only limit is what the hardware can manage and frankly it would be disappointing if games were released for today's hardware and not for the next generation.  Many PC gamers are impatiently waiting for the next big GPU release so that they can turn up their settings and resolution and maybe even add another three screens to their gaming rig, something that is unique to PC gaming and continues to drive sales of high end hardware at a time when mid-range and budget sales are declining.

JPR_pcgamingchart.JPG

"Ted Pollak, Senior Gaming Analyst at JPR said "The effect that key titles have on hardware sales is phenomenal. Enthusiast PC Gamers embrace content creation and modding, so when titles like Bohemia Interactive's ARMA 3 are in the pipeline; we start to see anticipatory hardware sales. In fact, we are estimating over $800 million of PC builds influenced primarily by this title. A major component of this situation is that many games are placing increasing demands on the CPU. The result is that swapping out the graphics add-in board is not enough this time around and gamers are building (and ordering) overclocked PC's from the ground up."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

New NVIDIA 326.41 Beta Graphics Drivers Add Shield PC Game Streaming Support

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 2, 2013 - 02:50 AM |
Tagged: graphics drivers, nvidia, shield, pc game streaming, gaming, geforce

NVIDIA recently released a new set of beta GeForce graphics card drivers targetted at the 400, 500, 600, and 700 series GPUs. The new version 326.41 beta drivers feature the same performance tweaks as the previous 326.19 drivers while baking in beta support for PC game streaming to NVIDIA’s Shield gaming portable from a compatible GeForce graphics card (GTX 650 or better). The new beta release is also the suggested version to use for those running the Windows 8.1 Preview.

NVIDIA has included the same performance tweaks as version 326.19. The tweaks offer up to 19% performance increases, depending on the particular GPU setup. For example, users running a GTX 770 will see as much as 15% better performance in Dirt: Showdown and 6% in Tomb Raider. Performance improvements are even higher for GTX 770 SLI setups, with boosts in Dirt: Showdown and F1 2012 of 19% and 11% respectively. NVIDIA has also added SLI profiles for Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Batman: Arkham Origins.

The NVIDIA Shield launched recently and reviews are making the rounds around the Internet. One of the exciting features of the Shield gaming handheld is the ability to stream PC games from a PC with NVIDIA graphics card to the Shield over Wi-Fi.

The 326.41 drivers improve performance across several games on the GTX 770.

The other major changes are improvements to tiled 4K displays, which are displays with 4K resolutions that are essentially made of two separate displays, and the monitor even shows up to the OS as two separate displays despite being in a single physical monitor. Using DisplayPort MST and tiled displays allows monitor manufacturers to deliver 4K displays with higher refresh rates.

Interested GeForce users can grab the latest beta drivers from the NVIDIA website or via the links below:

Source: Tech Spot

Origin PC Launches Haswell-Powered EON13-S Gaming Laptop

Subject: Systems | August 1, 2013 - 02:45 AM |
Tagged: origin pc, laptop, haswell, gaming, eon13-s

Origin PC has announced a new 13-inch gaming laptop called the EON13-S that packs some impressive mobile gaming horsepower in a 4.4 pound system.The new gaming laptop features Intel Haswell CPUs and NVIDIA GTX 765M graphics cards along with ample mechanical and solid state storage drive options.

EON13-S.jpg

The EON13-S features a 13.3” 1920x1080 IPS LED-backlit display, backlit keyboard, and a 2MP webcam. External IO includes three USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, one HDMI out, two audio jacks, and a Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 port.

EON13-S Right IO.jpg

Internal specifications include Intel Core i7 “Haswell” processors, GTX 765M graphics cards supporting Optimus technology, up to 16GB of DDR3 RAM, up to a 1TB mechanical hard drive and two mSATA drives in RAID 0 or 1. Alternatively, users can swap out the 2.5” HDD for a SSD up to 960GB in capacity. Users can further choose between a 802.11ac compatible Intel or Killer NIC, and a dedicated sound card up to a Sound Blaster X-Fi Recon3D. Also, an external DVD or Blu ray writer is available. A 6-cell battery powers the notebook and is rated at 300 minutes. The EON13-S will come pre-loaded with either Windows 7 or Windows 8.

The EON13-S starts at $1,418 and is available now. More details can be found on the EON13-S product page.

Source: Origin PC