CES 2013: The Verge Interviews Gave Newell for Steam Box. Valve's Director Hints Post-Kepler GPUs Can Be Virtualized!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Networking, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2013 - 11:11 PM |
Tagged: valve, gaben, Gabe Newell, ces 2013, CES

So the internet has been in a roar about The Steam Box and it probably will eclipse Project Shield as topic of CES 2013. The Verge scored an interview to converse about the hardware future of the company and got more than he asked for.

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Now if only he would have discussed potential launch titles.

Wow! That *is* a beautiful knife collection.

The point which stuck with me most throughout the entire interview was directed at Valve’s opinion of gaming on connected screens. Gabe Newell responded,

The Steam Box will also be a server. Any PC can serve multiple monitors, so over time, the next-generation (post-Kepler) you can have one GPU that’s serving up eight simulateneous [sic] game calls. So you could have one PC and eight televisions and eight controllers and everybody getting great performance out of it. We’re used to having one monitor, or two monitors -- now we’re saying lets expand that a little bit.

This is pretty much confirmation, assuming no transcription errors on the part of The Verge, that Maxwell will support the virtualization features of GK110 and bring it mainstream. This also makes NVIDIA Grid make much more sense in the long term. Perhaps NVIDIA will provide some flavor of a Grid server for households directly?

The concept gets me particularly excited. One of the biggest wastes of money the tech industry has is purchasing redundant hardware. Consoles are a perfect example: not only is the system redundant to your other computational device which is usually at worst a $200 GPU away from a completely better experience, you pay for software to be reliant on that redundant platform which will eventually disappear along with said software. In fact, many have multiple redundant consoles because the list of software they desire is not localized to just one system so they need redundant redundancies. Oy!

A gaming server should help make the redundancy argument more obvious. If you need extra interfaces then you should only need to purchase the extra interfaces. Share the number crunching and only keep it up to date.

Also check out the rest of the interview over at The Verge. I decided just to cover a small point with potentially big ramifications.

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: The Verge

CES 2013: Valve Talks Piston, Better Listen. Steam Box!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2013 - 02:06 PM |
Tagged: Xi3, valve, trinity, Steam Box, ces 2013, CES, amd

Going from a failed Kickstarter to Valve’s premier console? Sounds like a good anecdote to tell.

Valve has finally discussed the Steam Box in more concrete details. Get ready for some analysis; there are a bunch of hidden stories to be told. We will tell them.

Update for clarity: As discussed in IRC technically this was an Xi3 announcement that Valve will have at their booth but not an official Valve announcement. That said, Valve will have it at their booth and Valve funded Xi3.

Another Update for new information: Turns out this is not the Valve-official device. Ben Krasnow, Valve hardware engineer, made a statement that the official Steam Box is not planned to be announced in 2013. What we will see this year is 3rd Party implementations, and that should be it. News story to follow.

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Image by Engadget

As everyone is reporting, Valve hired out Xi3 Corporation to develop the Steam Box under the codename Piston. Xi3Corporation was founded in 2010 and revealed their first product at CES two years ago. In late September, Xi3 launched an unsuccessful Kickstarter to fund their latest designs: The X7A and the X3A.

The X7A Modular Computer is the most interesting as it seems to be what the Piston is based on. Regardless of the Kickstarter’s failure, Valve still reached out to Xi3 Corporation chequebook in hand. According to the Kickstarter page, the X7A has the following features:

  • 64-Bit Quad-Core x86 processor up to 3.2 GHz with 384 graphics shader cores.
    • My personal best guess is the AMD A10-4600M Trinity APU.
  • 8GB of DDR3 RAM
  • 1 TB of “Superfast” Solid State Memory
  • Four USB 3.0
  • Four USB 2.0
  • Four eSATAp
  • Gigabit E
  • 40Watt under load
  • “Under $1000” although that includes 1TB of SSD storage.
    • Also Valve could take a loss, because Steam has no problem with attach rate.

The key piece of information is the 40Watt declaration. According to Engadget who went hands-on with the Valve Piston, it too is rated for 40Watt under load. This means that it is quite likely for the core specifications of the Kickstarter to be very similar to the specifications of the Piston.

Benchmarks for the 7660G have the device running Far Cry 3 on low settings at around 34 FPS as well as Black Ops 2 running on Medium at 42 FPS. That said, with a specific hardware platform to target developers will be able to better optimize.

During the SpikeTV VGAs, Gabe Newell stated in an interview with Kotaku that third parties would also make “Steam Boxes”. They are expected to be available at some point in 2013.

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Engadget

CES 2013: ZOTAC Has a New ZBOX mini-PC

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2013 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: zotac, nuc, ces 2013, CES

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If you were interested in the Intel NUC review from mid-December then you might be interested in its competitors.

ZOTAC has been making small form factor PCs for three years at this point. This, 3rd, iteration contains the NVIDIA GeForce GT 610 graphics cart with a 2nd Generation Intel Core processor. With the ZBOX you can stream video and other content using dual Gigabit Ethernet or dual external Wi-Fi antennas. Unlike Intel, ZOTAC is making a big deal about its cooling capabilities of its new chassis.

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They will also be keeping their 2nd generation ZBOX chassis available, presumably for those who would be upset about a 7mm increase in size, with an Intel HD 4000 GPU. No discussion that I could find about price or release date however.

Press release after the break.

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: ZOTAC

CES 2013: NVIDIA Grid to Fight Gaikai and OnLive?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2013 - 01:07 AM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2013, nvidia

The second act of the NVIDIA keynote speech re-announced their Grid cloud-based gaming product first mentioned back in May during GTC. You have probably heard of its competitors, Gaikai and OnLive. The mission of these services is to have all of the gaming computation done in a server somewhere and allow the gamer to log in and just play.

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The NVIDIA Grid is their product top-to-bottom. Even the interface was created by NVIDIA and, as they laud, rendered server-side using the Grid. It was demonstrated to stream to an LG smart TV directly or Android tablets. A rack will contain 20 servers with 240 GPUs with a total of 200 Teraflops of computational power. Each server will initially be able to support 24 players, which is interesting, given the last year of NVIDIA announcements.

Last year, during the GK110 announcement, Kepler was announced to support hundreds of clients to access a single server for professional applications. It seems only natural that Grid would benefit from that advancement: but it apparently does not. With a limit of 24 players per box, equating to a maximum of two players per GPU, it seems odd that a limit would be in place. The benefit of stacking multiple players per GPU is that you can achieve better-than-linear scaling in the long-tail of games.

Then again, all they need to do is solve the scaling problem before they have a problem with scaling their service.

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

HTML5 Games: The Legacy of PC Gaming?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Mobile | December 30, 2012 - 04:48 PM |
Tagged: webgl, w3c, html5

I use that title in quite a broad sense.

I ran across an article on The Verge which highlighted the work of a couple of programmers to port classic Realtime Strategy games to the web browser. Command and Conquer along with Dune II, two classics of PC Gaming, are now available online for anyone with a properly standards-compliant browser.

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These games, along with the Sierra classics I wrote about last February, are not just a renaissance of classic PC games: they preserve them. It is up to the implementer to follow the standard, not the standards body to approve implementations. So long as someone still makes a browser which can access a standards-based game, the game can continue to be supported.

A sharp turn from what we are used to with console platforms, right?

I have been saying this for quite some time now: Blizzard and Valve tend to support their games much longer than console manufacturers support their whole platforms. You can still purchase at retail, and they still manufacture, the original StarCraft. The big fear over “modern Windows” is that backwards compatibility will be ended and all applications would need to be certified by the Windows Store.

When programmed for the browser -- yes, even hosted offline on local storage -- those worries disappear. Exceptions for iOS and Windows RT where they only allow you to use Safari or Trident (IE10+) which still leaves you solely at their mercy to follow standards.

Still, as standards get closer to native applications in features and performance, we will have a venue for artists to create and preserve their work for later generations to experience. The current examples might be 2D and of the pre-Pentium era but even now there are 3D-based shooters developed from websites. There is even a ray tracing application built on WebGL (although that technically is reliant on both the W3C and Khronos standards bodies) that just runs in a decent computer with plain-old Firefox or Google Chrome.

Source: The Verge

Phoronix on OpenCL Driver Optimization, NVIDIA vs. AMD

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 28, 2012 - 02:43 AM |
Tagged: opencl, nvidia, amd

The GPU is slowly becoming the parallel processing complement to your branching logic-adept CPU. Developers have been slow to adopt this new technology but that does not hinder the hardware manufacturers from putting on a kettle of tea for when guests arrive.

While the transition to GPGPU is slower than I am sure many would like, developers are rarely quick on the uptake of new technologies. The Xbox 360 was one of the first platforms where unified shaders became mandatory and early developers avoided them by offloading vertex code to the CPU. On that note: how much software still gets released without multicore support?

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Phoronix, practically the arbiter of all Linux news, decided to put several GPU drivers and their manufacturers to the test. AMD was up first and their results showed a pretty sizeable jump in performance at around October of this year through most of their tests. The article on NVIDIA arrived two days later and saw performance trended basically nowhere since February with the 295.20 release.

A key piece of information is that both benchmarks were performed with last generation GPUs: the GTX 460 on the NVIDIA side, with the 6950 holding AMD’s flag. You might note that 295.20 was the last tested driver to be released prior to the launch of Kepler.

These results seem to suggest that upon the launch of Kepler, NVIDIA did practically zero optimizations to their older "Fermi" architecture at least as far as these Linux OpenCL benchmarks are concerned. On the AMD side, it seems as though they are more willing to go back and advance the performance of their prior generation as they release new driver versions.

There are very few instances where AMD beats out NVIDIA in terms of driver support -- it is often a selling point for the jolly green giant -- but this appears to be a definite win for AMD.

Source: Phoronix

Happy Holidays from the PC Perspective Family to Yours!

Subject: Editorial | December 24, 2012 - 11:36 PM |
Tagged: holiday

As we near the hour of Christmas here in the United States I wanted to take a few minutes out of the evening to write a short note to the many fans and readers of PC Perspective.  This past year has been one of wide variance both in terms of technology and the website.  Without our faithful readers though we would not have been able to get through the last 12 months in as good of shape as we have - and for that we are VERY thankful! 

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We apologize for the slow release of new posts for you to read, but most of our staff is spending time with family, whether they want to or not, and while we have a couple of reviews queued up, it seems like a waste to post them when many of YOU are in the same boat.  If you are looking for some interesting topics to hold you over in the meant time, here are a couple of suggestions:

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Again, regardless of what you celebrate and why, I want to wish you a great holiday season and be sure you join us on Wednesday night for the LIVE PC Perspective Podcast recording where we will very likely be a little drunk and will mix up the normal rants with some funny stories and predictions. 

See you soon!

PCPer Live! Planetside 2 Game Stream

Subject: Editorial | December 19, 2012 - 06:58 PM |
Tagged: live, video, planetside 2

Just a quick note to anyone that might want to join us, we are going to attempt to play some Planetside 2 after the podcast recording tonight.  Planetside 2 is a free to play first person MMO.  It is kind of complicated though so you might want to learn up some on the details if you haven't played before.

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We are going to use Teamspeak for our in-game chat and you can get the details for the Fragging Frogs Main TS Server right here.

If you aren't interested in playing but would like to watch, you should head to our PC Perspective Live! Page for our live stream!

Win a Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 2GB GHz Edition FleX Graphics Card!

Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | December 19, 2012 - 06:56 PM |
Tagged: video, sweepstakes, sapphire, never settle, giveaway, contest, amd

Remember those really cool game streams we hosted with AMD on Medal of Honor Warfighter, Hitman: Absolution and Far Cry 3?  Well can you believe that one of the winners from our Far Cry 3 event hasn't replied to our request for a shipping address which means only one thing:

We have an extra Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition FleX graphics card to hand out!

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Lucky you!  Since it is the holiday season, we wanted to make this EASY for you.  Here is how you enter:

We'll randomly pick a winner from anywhere in the world to get this kick ass prize on December 26th, so you'll have something to look forward to on the day after Christmas.

Good luck to all of you and our most heartfelt thanks to AMD, Sapphire and of course the fans of PC Perspective for a great 2012!!

AMD Facing Even More Layoffs

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | November 17, 2012 - 04:09 PM |
Tagged: layoffs, amd

Personally, I am starting to get numb to AMD restructuring news -- and that is never good.

Less than a month ago we reported on the semiconductor design company’s decision to cut 15% of their workforce. The company still has life in it and has a respectable presence in all upcoming videogame consoles along with its inclusion within many consumer laptops and desktops but it is clearly not as much life as they need.

Original rumors stated that cuts could be on the order of 10-30% which 15% would be on the lighter side of. With rumors of more cuts coming in January I wonder if this was a last minute decision to break up the layoffs into two less dramatic installments.

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One of the beauties of the tech industry is the low cost of starting or turning a company around; it would be irresponsible to completely count out a player while it still has access to millions of capital. AMD is also sitting upon lots of assets which could be liquidated and their employees have ridiculous talent to be employable elsewhere. I have been noticing that most chatter about the topic is not based in concern with AMD and their employee’s future but with concern about an x86 competitor to Intel.

This is pretty much the same concern which I have been having about Windows 8: the house of cards may be standing but it is still a house of cards. We rely upon the proprietary standards which Intel and others impose upon the art, the word being used both in literal and “artisan / practical art” contexts which includes utensil applications.

Concern mounts but practically no-one grafts it to similar instabilities in other platforms.

No I am not saying abolish technology patents or anything like that: I am simply saying that this is yet another drop in the torrent of concerns with content upstream to proprietary platforms.

These issues rightfully cause alarm but are not isolated events.

Source: All Things D

Breaking News: Steven Sinofsky Leaves Microsoft Immediately

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | November 12, 2012 - 10:02 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, windows 8, microsoft

Our regular viewers know that I am not too fond of Microsoft’s recent vision; I will get that out of the way right at the start. I am a major proponent of open platforms for uncensored art with perpetual support and Windows 8 shows all the signs of Microsoft turning its back on that ideology.

And Steven Sinofsky, the one who allegedly came up with that vision, is no longer with Microsoft: effective immediately.

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Not much in the line of reasoning is known about why Steven Sinofsky parted ways with his long-term career as head of Windows division. He had a clear and concise vision for his products and it was evident both in Windows 7 and in Windows RT.

Rumors exist that his fellow executives were not on pleasant terms with him. All Things D claims to have sources which suggest that his colleagues were unhappy with his conduct in terms of collaboration.

But that is all hearsay.

What it means for Microsoft is that the face that set sail is no longer at the helm. Microsoft could revert back to their twitchy attempts to appease everyone and abandon their vision. On the other hand it is entirely possible that the company could continue off on the last bearing set by Sinofsky.

No-one knows, but I stand behind my previous assertions that the PC industry will get messy in the next few years as things boil over at Microsoft.

Source: All Things D

The Content Industry Will Never Get It

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | November 10, 2012 - 04:47 PM |
Tagged: piracy, kinect

We do not like straying from our usual topics into the music, movie, and console gaming industries although I will make an exception for this. It has a computer hardware angle, I assure you.

So I came across an article this morning regarding a patent which Microsoft filed about a year and a half ago. This patent describes a process where a device can monitor the number of people viewing a copyrighted work and permit “remedial action” should that number increase beyond some arbitrary level. In other words, the technology would prevent or adjust the price of consuming content based on the number of people in your private residence.

Hey if you want to bring your significant other over -- that’ll cost you!

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Hey did I tell you about this awesome DRM we're working on? Huge success.

It routinely frustrates me when people side with the content industry because they know that one-or-so unapologetic pirating acquaintance who they feel is ripping off the whole system. The problem is that all evidence which I have seen to suggest whether or not a pirate has actual damages actually shows sales increases or is wholly based on junior high school-level statistical errors.

The content industry does not demand for you to pay them for their content: they demand that you pay them for their content under specific conditions. There were no less than two services present at CES 2011 which allowed users to input a movie title to find out where it is legally available. If it was in Vudu, Hulu+, Netflix, in Theatres, which theatre, what show-times, as a DVD or BluRay on Amazon, on TV soon, and so forth.

Everyone I discussed those services with, thus far, were amazed with how useful that would be.

I then ask them: Why is it so hard to give them money that we need services to instruct people how to legally license content?

What if the person watching the content at a friend’s house ends up purchasing it? They are attempting to open up extra streams of revenue by controlling the system more aggressively. When the system gets too convoluted for users to abide by they blame that loss in revenue on piracy.

You could imagine this occurring for video games as well: what if a publisher decides that split-screen gaming is a premium service to be licensed on a per-controller basis? The content industry is attempting to focus their licensing arrangements as granularly as possible. This is bad for you, it is often bad for them, and it is terrible for society.

Do not assume that a copyright holder will act sensibly. It is not about cheap people. It is often not even about revenue despite whether they believe it is or not. Just look at Ubisoft’s DRM “success”. An exodus of 90% of your customers should never be called a success and yet they genuinely believed it was.

Source: Mashable

PCPer Live! Medal of Honor Warfighter Game Stream - Win FREE Games!!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | November 9, 2012 - 03:40 PM |
Tagged: video, tahiti, radeon, never settle, live, amd

UPDATE: Did you miss the live stream yesterday?  Well don't fret - you can still watch the single player and multi-player action of Medal of Honor Warfighter in the video below.  Sorry, all the prizes have been handed out though but check back in at pcper.com for two more upcoming game streams!!

This afternoon on our PC Perspective Live! page we will be streaming some single player and multi-player game action of latest title to use the Frostbite 2 engine, Medal of Honor Warfighter.  You can stop in and watch us take on a bit of the campaign in the game and then view my likely repetitive demise in some multi-player matches as well.

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Medal of Honor Warfighter Game Stream

12pm PT / 3pm ET - TODAY

PC Perspective Live! Page

The stream today will be sponsored by AMD and their Never Settle game bundles which we previously told you about here.  Depending on the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series GPU that you buy this holiday season you could get as much as $170 in gaming content including:

  • FREE Sleeping Dogs
  • FREE Hitman: Absolution
  • FREE Far Cry 3
  • 20% off Medal of Honor Warfighter

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AMD's Robert Hallock (@Thracks on twitter) will be joining us via Skype to talk about the game's technology, performance considerations as well as making fun of while I get sniped from the windows.

Of course, just to sweeten the deal a bit we have some prizes lined up for those of you that participate in our Medal of Honor Game Stream today as well. 

  • 3 x Complete Never Settle Bundles (Sleeping Dogs, Hitman, Far Cry 3, 20% Off MoH)
  • 5 x Sleeping Dogs keys
  • 5 x Hitman: Absolution keys
  • 5 x Far Cry 3 keys

Pretty nice, huh?  That's a LOT of games and all you have to do to win is be present on the PC Perspective Live! Page during the event as we will announce both the content/sweepstakes method AND the winner!

Stop in today for some PC gaming fun!!

Deals for November 8th - 15.6-in Dell IVB Ultrabook for $799

Subject: Editorial | November 8, 2012 - 12:23 PM |
Tagged: deals

Top deal

15.6" Dell Inspiron 15z Core i5 Ivy Bridge Ultrabook for $799.99 with free shipping @ Dell (normally $939.99).

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Laptops

15.9" HP ENVY dv6t-7200 15.6" Quad Edition Ivy Bridge Core i7 Laptop for $774.99 with free shipping @ HP(normally $900 - Use coupon code NB42781).

Desktops

HP ENVY h8-1420t Core i7 "Ivy Bridge" Quad-core Desktop PC for $699.99 @ HP (normally $789.99).

Computer Components

WD My Passport 2TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive for $161.99 with Free Shipping @ Dell (normally $180 - Use coupon code VJ7$295NPV28MN).

27" ASUS PB Series PB278Q 5ms LED-Backlight Monitor w/ 2560 x 1440 High Resolution for $693 with free shipping (normally $700).

OCZ Agility 4 256GB SATA 6Gb/s 2.5" SSD for $130 plus shipping (normally $190 - Use this form).

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Slim 500GB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive for $76 with shipping (normally $85 - Use coupon code VJ7$295NPV28MN).

HDTVs

82" Mitsubishi WD-82740 1080p 120Hz 3D DLP HDTV for $1,400 with free shipping (normally $2,500 - use coupon code: GET100).

Pinnacle Atlantis06 Indoor/Outdoor Speakers for $349.99 with Free Shipping (normally $200 - use coupon code: 0Q?7PSKK6JVB2S).

Accessories

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS 12MP Digital Camera for $217 with free shipping (normally $280 - Use coupon code L1F77MQNT2?H21).

Gaming

Xbox 360 Limited Edition Halo 4 320GB Console for $350 with free shipping (normally $400).

Source: LogicBuy

A renaissance of game types that have been sadly missing

Subject: Editorial | November 7, 2012 - 07:56 PM |
Tagged: stealth, space sim, games

There are two types of games that are near and dear to my heart which have been sadly lacking recently, stealth FPSes and space sims, which seems to be changing.  Until very recently the best way to solve your stealth fetish was to take advantage of the compatibility patches for Thief 2 or to play Thief: The Dark Mod, neither new releases nor officially sanctioned.  Deus Ex:HR had some stealth elements depending on how you wanted to play it but for the most part it was a straight out superpower shooter.   The release of Dishonored was a good start, while it is another superpower shooter it is one with far more emphasis on stealth, both in the powers you can gain and utilize as well as the fighting mechanics which ensure your death if you attract too many enemies at the same time.  Next to come is a game entitled Abduction, which is being built on CryEngine 3 and as you can see by the trailer it is very much focused on dark places to hide, proper shadows for you to keep track of guards with, silent take downs and a silenced pistol for those who run out of patience and need turn off a light or to drop someone quickly.  Sound also plays a part, over and above the AI swarming gun shots, for instance the instruction to run and let the sound cause a distraction.  Also worth checking out is Hitman, again a game which incorporates stealth as a major gameplay mechanic and not just an option in some missions.

 

Space Sim fans have long been bemoaning the early demise of the FreeSpace series, for as much fun as the incredible X series is, it is far more than a space shooter and that can turn many fans off.  Babylon 5: I've Found Her is an amazing free game which has continued to receive updates and new missions, however it uses Newtonian physics which can be difficult to get used to and frustrating to some players.  Also recently released was the Wing Commander Saga, more than just a remake of Wing Commander 3 while still incorporating many of the assets which made that game special then and still does today. 

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The creator of Wing Commander, Chris Roberts, also had an announcement for space sim fans who have long been awaiting his return to game design.  He is currently working on a monstrous space game in two forms, a single player version called Squadron 42 and a online multiplayer version with a fully perpetual universe with an accompanying story arc reminiscent of the fall of Rome called Star Citizen.  While both games will essentially be the same, the online version will obviously not evolve in the same way as the single player version since once you let player characters near your campaign you might as well toss your carefully planned story arc out the window as it will not survive contact with those stubborn, misguided fools (to put it politely). 

If that is not enough to send a tingle down your spine then perhaps the possible return of another old friend will.  If David Braben has his way, Elite will be making a comeback and as his Kickstarter already has over £300,000 in backing.  Not only was this an incredible game to play, they were the first to develop procedural generation of a game world or universe in this case.  How else could they fit 8 galaxies each with 256 planets onto a Cassette, Floppy disk or Cartridge and then run it on an 8-bit computer?  Now imagine what those twistedly gifted minds can do with today's 64bit OSes and the GPU power available to them.  Jameson never had it so good, even after upgrading his docking computer so as to no longer have to manually match rotation with space stations!

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It is a damn fine time to be a PC gamer who likes a little variation in the types of games they play ... now I wonder if that X-Com squaddie is healed up enough to go on another mission yet?

How to Build a PC with Windows 8 - PC Perspective Live!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | October 26, 2012 - 02:46 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, video, system build, live

Today at 3pm EDT we are going to be doing a live stream of a system build and Windows 8 installation on our PC Perspective Live! page.  Won't you come and join us?

UPDATE: Did you miss the event?  Well then, we have you covered with the replay of the two and a half hour stream right here!

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Sorry, no, I won't be doing it blindfolded this time...

If you are looking to learn how to build a PC, how the Windows 8 setup goes along with initial Windows 8 experiences, or just want to hang out during a lazy Friday, click on the link above or on the flashing radio tower to the left and join us!!

A quick look at the data on Apple's Fusion Drive

Subject: Editorial, Storage | October 24, 2012 - 08:26 PM |
Tagged: hybrid, fusion drive, fusion, apple

Yesterday, amongst a bunch of other announcements, Apple mentioned a 'new' technology that was built into OSX (10.8.2 and up).

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Dubbed 'Fusion Drive', this tech enables the late 2012 Mac Mini and iMac models to have a pseudo-hybrid drive. There's been a lot of speculation today on just how this technology will work, but I've cut through the chaff to try and shed some proper light on just how this new thing works, and how it is so different than any other 'hybrid' solution out there.

First, it's not a hybrid drive. The iMac or Mac Mini comes with an SSD and a HDD. Two individual SATA devices. Both devices appear as individual drives, even in Disk Utility. Where the magic happens is that OSX can be configured (and is pre-configured in these new systems) to combine the two drives into one drive that presents itself to the user as a single logical volume. The important point is that the drives are 'fused' together, not merged or mirrored. The SSD and HDD each have their own partition, and OSX can reach beneath the Fusion layer and shift files back and forth between the two as it sees fit. Frequently used apps and files can be shifted back and forth between the SSD and HDD, as seen in the below pic:

fusion drive 2-.png

The biggest differences are in that since it's not a mirrored hybrid solution, where the SSD space is not available, and a failure of the HDD causes loss of all data. Fusion Drive combines the two volumes and *adds* the space together, and the apps or files will sit on either device (but not both). All files written go to the SSD first and are later shifted to the HDD in the background. This is actually a very smart way to handle things. The entire OSX install always stays on the SSD, so there is no concern of OS files 'rolling off' of the SSD cache, causing intermittent slowdowns. More (perhaps most) importantly, if the HDD fails on a Fusion Drive setup, OSX should theoretically just keep on chugging, albeit without access to the files or apps that were stored on the HDD. On the flip side, if the SSD were to fail, the HDD could simply be mounted in Target Mode under another Mac, and all files stored to that drive could then be recovered. Sure you won't get everything back in these scenarios, but it provides *much* more flexibility for data recovery, and it's worth repeating the fact that an HDD failure in any other hybrid solution results in the loss of ALL data.

A couple of other quick gotchas: You can still dual boot with boot camp under a Fusion Drive setup, but the boot camp partition will only be at the end of the HDD, not on the SSD. Windows will not only run slower because it's on the spinning disk, it will run slower because the latter portions of a HDD typically see about half of the throughput as compared to the start of that disk. Also, you are only allowed *one* additional (non-Fusion) partition on the HDD, which can be used for another OSX install *or* for the Boot Camp Windows install. Users who prefer to boot greater than two operating systems on their newer Mac will have to do so with Fusion Drive disabled.

More to follow as more data comes in. For now I'm only working off of the other speculation and the Apple Support Page on the matter.

Join us tomorrow for a LIVE Unboxing and First Impressions of the ASUS Vivo Tab RT!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Mobile | October 22, 2012 - 06:22 PM |
Tagged: asus, vivo tab rt, tegra 3, nvidia, video, live

If you happen to be free tomorrow afternoon and would like to be one of the first to see the upcoming ASUS Vivo Tab RT based on the Windows RT operating system and the NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC, you should set your calendar for 12pm PDT / 3pm EDT and join me on the PC Perspective Live! page.

asusvivotab.jpg

While we won't have any insight on our long term experiences with the device at that time tomorrow, you can see our initial impressions and anything/everything that occurrs with our intial setup and usage!

If you have questions or thoughts on the device that you want addressed during the live stream, you can leave them here in our comments or hang around in our chat room during the event as well.  We want this to be interactive so your input is requested!

Again, that is 12pm PDT / 3pm EDT at the PC Perspective Live! page.

Hitman: Absolution PC Features Video - AMD ExtravaLANza

Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | October 20, 2012 - 12:33 PM |
Tagged: hitman, amd, extravalanza, hitman: absolution, video

We are at the first AMD ExtravaLANza today getting some hands on time with some cool new hardware as well as new games like Far Cry 3, Tomb Raider and Hitman: Absolution.  We attended a session with the Hitman developer IO Interactive where some interesting information about the DX11 features.  I recorded a video of the presentation for those interested in seeing it in its entirety.

The brand new Glacier2 engine has some impressive new features including:

  1. DX11 hardware tessellation on character models
  2. A global illumination engine using light propagation volumes
  3. AA options including FXAA and MSAA 2x-8x
  4. Eyefinity and HD3D

There is more, but you can hear it all in the video above.  IO Interactive wanted to assure PC gamers that they are developing the game to be a first class PC title with higher quality imaging, controls and texture detail; this doesn't look to be a standard console port.

Deals for October 19th - Klipsch Energy RC Micro 5.0 Home Theater System Bundle for $280

Subject: Editorial | October 19, 2012 - 01:07 PM |
Tagged: deals, deal of the day

Top deal

Today Only! Klipsch Energy RC Micro 5.0 Home Theater System Bundle for $279.99 plus free shipping @ TigerDirect (normally $800 – use coupon code WEV73894).

K55-1188-KIT_chiclet01_er.jpg

Laptops

17.3" Dell Inspiron 17R Special Edition 17.3" 1080p Core i7 "Ivy Bridge" Laptop for $949.99 with free shipping @ Dell (normally $1,138.99 – use coupon code J$WNJV54BQ3N4Q).

Desktops

Dell Vostro 470 Core i7 Desktop w/ 8GB RAM, 1TB Hard Drive for $779.99 with Free Shipping @ Dell (normally $1,119.00 – use coupon code 909$K?5V4?C2LP).

Dell XPS 8500 Core i7 "Ivy Bridge" Desktop w/ 2TB Hard Drive for $699.99 with Free Shipping @ Dell (normally $1,119.00 – use coupon code V48PR?HP99J3D?).

Computer Components

Today Only! OCZ Vertex 3 120GB 2.5" SATA 6Gb/s SSD for $60 with free shipping @ TigerDirect (normally $200 - Use this form).

OCZ Vertex Plus R2 2.5" SATA 3Gb/s 120GB SSD for $60 with shipping (normally $110 - Use this form).

24.1"ASUS PA248Q IPS LED-backlit LCD Monitor + $30 Gift Card for $289.99 with free shipping @ NewEgg (normally $369.99 - Use this form).

27" Dell S2740L 1080p LED-backlit LCD Monitor for $379.99 with free shipping @ Dell (normally $400).

Iomega Helium 500GB USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive for $50 with free shipping @ NewEgg (normally $100 - Use coupon code EMCJNJB47).

VisionTek Radeon HD 7970 3GB GDDR5 Video Card for $360 with free shipping @ NewEgg (normally $450 - Use coupon code VISTEK).

Linksys EA6500 Smart Wireless-AC Dual-Band Gigabit Router for $194 with free shipping @ BuyDig (normally $220 - Use coupon code DigFallSave5).

Accessories

Sharper Image Set of 2 Battling RC Choppers for $84.99 @ Sharper Image (normally $99.99 – use coupon codeENT2010).

Sharper Image App-Controlled Car for $74.99 @ Sharper Image (normally $89.99 – use coupon codeENT2010).

Source: LogicBuy