CES 2016 Podcast Day 3 - New ROG Monitors, M.2 PCIe Drives, a giant case from EVGA and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2016 - 07:47 AM |
Tagged: video, ROG, podcast, patriot, nuc, maximus VII, M.2, kingston, Intel, evga, compute stick, CES 2016, CES, asus

CES 2016 Podcast Day 3 - 01/07/16

We wrap up CES 2016 by talking about new ROG monitors from ASUS, Plenty of M.2 PCIe Drives, a giant case from EVGA and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, Ken Addison and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:47:01

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

CES 2016: Acer Shows Off Upscale Chromebook 11 With Budget $179 Price

Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2016 - 05:52 AM |
Tagged: Intel, Chromebook, chrome os, CES 2016, budget, acer

CES 2016 has seen its share of high end product unveilings, but in addition to its premium hardware, Acer is launching a very budget-friendly PC in the form of the Chromebook 11. The new Chromebook 11 is a surprising product that does not compromise aesthetics in order to hit it’s $179 price tag.

 

Running Chrome OS, the budget 11.6” notebook features an aluminum alloy top cover with crosshatch pattern that helps to give it a more high end look. The rest of the laptop is plastic though The Verge claims that the build quality feels nice with a comfortable keyboard and a body that does not flex while typing. The top cover and hinges are a metallic silver while the bottom and area surrounding the keyboard is white. The keys are black with white lettering, and the package (at least from the photos) looks like it belongs to a more expensive laptop! A webcam sits above the display and a large trackpad is nestled below the keyboard. It measures 0.73 inches thick and weighs 2.42 pounds. Acer claims it can withstand corner drops from a height of 60cm (just under 2 ft).

 

Acer Chromebook 11.png

The Verge got hands-on time with the new Chromebook at CES 2016.

 

The left side of the Chromebook 11 holds the DC power input, HDMI output, USB 3.0 port, and a SD card slot while the right side has a SIM card slot, headphone jack, USB 2.0 port, and a Kensington lock slot.

 

The Chromebook 11 had me excited, but it is not perfect. Acer did not compromise looks, but compromises had to be made somewhere and in the case of the Chromebook 11 it is, unfortunately, in the display which has a mere 720p resolution. That is the big drawback in this notebook, made slightly livable due to it having a matte finish with enough backlight that it can be used outdoors.

 

Internally, Acer is using a quad core Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal flash storage.

 

The Chromebook 11 will be available at the end of January starting at $179 in the US and 229 Euros across the pond.

 

I think this would be a good PC for younger students or as a second PC. I was excited about this for $179 while reading about it, but it was tempered by the revelation that the display resolution is stuck at 720p which isn’t horrible but I was expecting a bit more there (at least give me 1366x768...). What do you think about Acer’s newest Chromebook?

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

Source: The Verge

The brains that brought you XCOM Long War are making a game

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2016 - 08:27 PM |
Tagged: gaming, x-com, mod, Terra Invicta

The best way to play the rebooted XCOM game is with the XCOM: Long War mod installed, which not only extends your game but makes vast changes to your soldiers advancements and creates an Officer class as well.  They have now created the Long War Studio and are in the planning stages of creating their own game which will be called Terra Invicta.  It will be in a similar vein to XCOM, defending the Earth from alien invaders, though there are indications that the gameplay will be very different.  This does make it unlikely we will see a Long War mod for XCOM 2 in the near future, hopefully their new project surpasses what they have accomplished with the original reboot.  Read more at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.

XCOMLongWar2.jpg

"The game goes by the name Terra Invicta and it’s currently in “pre-Kickstarter development”, though there’s no word on a launch date for the crowdfunding campaign just yet. The designation “grand strategy” suggests this might be an even longer war and perhaps the tactical battles will be missing entirely?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Meet the new PowerVR Series7XT Plus family of GPUs from Imagination Technologies

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2016 - 07:42 PM |
Tagged: Series7XT Plus, PowerVR, hsa. GT7200 Plus, GT7400 Plus, CES

Update (Jan 7th, 2016 - Scott Michaud): Imagination sent us an updated diagram, and they wanted to clarify that there is "a 1:1 correspondance between the FP32 ALUs and the integer units." The updated diagram is just below.

PowerVR Series7XT Plus GPU - ALU architecture_2.png

Original article below

PowerVR GPUs are found in a variety of devices from the PlayStation Vita to the last couple of iPhones and at one point was the GPU in Intel APUs.  Their latest offerings are the GT7200 Plus and GT7400 Plus both of which offer quite a few improvements over their previous generations, not least of which is wholesale adoption of heterogeneous computing and its various benefits such as shared virtual memory.

PowerVR-Series7XT-Plus-GPU-GPU-architecture.png

These GPUs expand their support to INT16 and INT8 data paths, keeping the legacy INT32 paths for applications that require it.  They have also adopted the OpenCL 2.0 API for heterogeneous computing as well as OpenGL ES 3.2 and even Vulkan support.  The GT7200 Plus is in a dual-cluster configuration with 64 ALU cores and the GT7400 Plus doubles that to a quad-cluster with 128 ALU cores.

12-Block-level-implementation-of-face-detection-on-CPU-and-GPU.png

Along with the performance and feature upgrades comes a focus on upgrading the machine vision capabilities of the Rogue GPUs to be able to  identify thousands of objects directly from the camera input stream in real-time.  Check out their blog entry for more information on the new chips and if you want a refresher on the technology in these GPUs you can refer back to Ryan's article here.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

A different side of CES, check out the new 3D printers for 2016

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2016 - 07:14 PM |
Tagged: CES, 3d printer, MakerBot, Ultimaker, Lulzbot, XYZprinting

CES is not just about the type of technology we focus on here at PCPer, amongst the hordes of emails arriving are wallets, sleep trackers, automobile toys and even a Bluetooth enabled Kegel exerciser from OhMiBod.  Instead of focussing on that side of CES, Hack a Day has been keeping track of the 3D Printer announcements from MakerBot, Ultimaker, Lulzbot and XYZprinting.  The announcements range from XYZprinting's $500 da Vinci to the new 3D Systems direct metal 3D printer which allows you to create much sturdier designs than with extruded polymers.  Head over to see the various new printers and extruder heads.

da_vinci_1_0.jpg

"CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, is in full swing. That means the Hackaday tip line is filled to the brim with uninteresting press releases, and notices that companies from the world over will be at CES."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Hack a Day

MSI and HTC team up for Vive support as well as two tools for streamers

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2016 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: vive, nahimic, msi, dragon eye, CES

Along with the hardware that MSI is teasing us with at CES comes a project worthy of note.  It would seem that MSI has been working with HTC to provide out of the box support for the Vive, assuming you buy components with the power to push that many pixels at the necessary speed.  There is little meat as to the specifics but any work done before the product is released which gives first adopters a helping hand is a valuable thing when it comes to sales.

HTC-Vive_White.jpg

For those gamers who love to livestream their gaming sessions or record them for editing and later publication should take a peek at Dragon Eye and Nahimic 2, two new software tools MSI will be releasing.  Nahimic 2 is an HD Audio Recorder to ensure captured or broadcasted audio is of high quality and also includes Sound Tracker which will give you graphic indications of noise sources in games, assuming you would stoop that low.  Dragon Eye is for video and its usage is also quite different from Nahamic2.  It will allow you to easily use its picture-in-picture feature to watch Youtube videos and other streams in a small window while you are gaming. 

dragoneye.png

At the very least it will be handy to see your team mates screen or to watch a walkthrough while playing a game, again assuming a certain moral turpitude on the part of the player.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

Source: MSI

CES 2016 Podcast Day 2 - MSI, Gigabyte, Corsair, and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2016 - 09:31 AM |
Tagged: video, spec alpha, podcast, msi, GT72S Tobii, GS40 Phantom, gigabyte, corsair, CES 2016, CES, carbide, brix, arm, 400Q, 400C

CES 2016 Podcast Day 2 - 01/06/16

Join us for announcements from MSI, Gigabyte, Corsair, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Ken Addison and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:02:45

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

Microsoft Announces ReCore Will Be Released on PC

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2016 - 05:05 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, xbox, recore

ReCore was first announced at the last E3 as an Xbox One exclusive, but Microsoft has recently announced that it will arrive on Windows, too. It is being developed by Comcept and Armature Studio for Microsoft Game Studios. Comcept was founded by Keiji Inafune, producer of Mega Man, Dead Rising, and Lost Planet. Armature Studio was founded by three members of Retro Studios, who made the Metroid Prime franchise. It was supposed to launch in the next couple of months, but it has been pushed to later this year.

microsoft-2016-recore-game.jpg

It's still unclear what the game even is though, which is odd considering its relatively close release date. It is listed as an action-adventure title, and the developer claims that both Metroid and Zelda have influenced its direction. There also seems to be an element of “robotic cores” that can be moved from skeleton to skeleton, bringing its AI with it. Lastly, the Game Info site highlights a robotic companion element. Neither of those two points seem to fit in a Zelda nor a Metroid framework, which revolve around puzzle solving and re-exploring areas with upgraded abilities, respectively. There's something missing, and it will likely be revealed at E3 in June.

We'll see. It could be a bust, but at least we will have the option to try it.

Valve Reviews CS:GO Match-Fixing Bans and Upholds Them

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2016 - 03:03 AM |
Tagged: valve, CS:GO, esports

About a year ago, Valve blocked several players from participating in their sponsored tournaments when the players were believed to be match fixing. This is the practice of arranging outcomes in events and tournaments. This is often accompanied by betting on the pre-arranged winners, but it could also be used to shift around positions in seed brackets by having one or more member intentionally lose winnable games. This is bad all-around, but can even be illegal (due to the implications of fraud and so forth).

valve-nope.jpg

Since then, the game developer has reviewed their earlier decision, and they decided to make it permanent. They did not state how many players were involved, although PC Gamer knows of 21. These individuals will never be allowed to compete at any Valve-sponsored tournaments, and other organizers will be able to extend those bans to their events, too.

A similar incident happened in the Korean StarCraft II scene. In that situation, a dozen individuals were arrested and detained by Korean law enforcement, charged for betting (or enabling third-parties to bet) on predetermined outcomes. This has been an ongoing problem.

Source: Valve

CES 2016 Podcast Day 1 - Lenovo, NVIDIA Press Conference, new AMD GPUs and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2016 - 09:40 AM |
Tagged: podcast, video, CES, CES 2016, Lenovo, Thinkpad, x1 carbon, x1 yoga, nvidia, pascal, amd, Polaris, FinFET, 14nm

CES 2016 Podcast Day 1 - 01/05/16

CES is just beginning. Join us for announcements from Lenovo, NVIDIA Press Conference, new AMD GPUs and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, Ken Addison and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:11:05

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

CES 2016: Logitech G Proteus Spectrum Gaming Mouse

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2016 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: RGB LED, Proteus Spectrum, Proteus Core, pmw3366, logitech g, logitech, gaming mouse, CES 2016, CES

Logitech has announced a new mouse based on the popular G502 Proteus Core, and the new G502 Proteus Spectrum gaming mouse offers customizable RGB lighting.

g502_cyan.jpeg

"By adding RGB customizable lighting the Logitech G502 Proteus Core, the world’s best selling gaming mouse just got even better. The Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum still retains the world’s best DPI sensor, advanced surface and weight tuning, but now gives you even more features to elevate your game and style."

The mouse uses the highly regarded PMW3366 optical sensor which provides a range of 200 - 12,000 DPI "with zero sensor acceleration, zero smoothing or filtering and zero pixel rounding" according to Logitech.

g502_top.jpeg

The lighting effects are controlled with the Logitech Gaming Software (LGS) application, with 16.8 million possible colors and different selectable patterns (breathe, cycle). The weight and center of balance can be customized as well via five 3.6 g weights in the mouse, and 11 programmable buttons allow further customization via LGS.

g502_yellow.jpeg

The G502 Proteus Spectrum should be available in the U.S. and Europe beginning this month, with an MSRP of $79.99.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

Source: Logitech G

CES 2016: NVIDIA Launches DRIVE PX 2 With Dual Pascal GPUs Driving A Deep Neural Network

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2016 - 06:17 AM |
Tagged: tegra, pascal, nvidia, driveworks, drive px 2, deep neural network, deep learning, autonomous car

NVIDIA is using the Consumer Electronics Show to launch the Drive PX 2 which is the latest bit of hardware aimed at autonomous vehicles. Several NVIDIA products combine to create the company's self-driving "end to end solution" including DIGITS, DriveWorks, and the Drive PX 2 hardware to train, optimize, and run the neural network software that will allegedly be the brains of future self-driving cars (or so NVIDIA hopes).

NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 Self Driving Car Supercomputer.jpg

The Drive PX 2 hardware is the successor to the Tegra-powered Drive PX released last year. The Drive PX 2 represents a major computational power jump with 12 CPU cores and two discrete "Pascal"-based GPUs! NVIDIA has not revealed the full specifications yet, but they have made certain details available. There are two Tegra SoCs along with two GPUs that are liquid cooled. The liquid cooling consists of a large metal block with copper tubing winding through it and then passing into what looks to be external connectors that attach to a completed cooling loop (an exterior radiator, pump, and reservoir).

There are a total of 12 CPU cores including eight ARM Cortex A57 cores and four "Denver" cores. The discrete graphics are based on the 16nm FinFET process and will use the company's upcoming Pascal architecture. The total package will draw a maximum of 250 watts and will offer up to 8 TFLOPS of computational horsepower and 24 trillion "deep learning operations per second." That last number relates to the number of special deep learning instructions the hardware can process per second which, if anything, sounds like an impressive amount of power when it comes to making connections and analyzing data to try to classify it. Drive PX 2 is, according to NVIDIA, 10 times faster than it's predecessor at running these specialized instructions and has nearly 4 times the computational horsepower when it comes to TLOPS.

Similar to the original Drive PX, the driving AI platform can accept and process the inputs of up to 12 video cameras. It can also handle LiDAR, RADAR, and ultrasonic sensors. NVIDIA compared the Drive PX 2 to the TITAN X in its ability to process 2,800 images per second versus the consumer graphics card's 450 AlexNet images which while possibly not the best comparison does make it look promising.

NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 DRIVEWORKS.jpg

Neural networks and machine learning are at the core of what makes autonomous vehicles possible along with hardware powerful enough to take in a multitude of sensor data and process it fast enough. The software side of things includes the DriveWorks development kit which includes specialized instructions and a neural network that can detect objects based on sensor input(s), identify and classify them, determine the positions of objects relative to the vehicle, and calculate the most efficient path to the destination.

Specifically, in the press release NVIDIA stated:

"This complex work is facilitated by NVIDIA DriveWorks™, a suite of software tools, libraries and modules that accelerates development and testing of autonomous vehicles. DriveWorks enables sensor calibration, acquisition of surround data, synchronization, recording and then processing streams of sensor data through a complex pipeline of algorithms running on all of the DRIVE PX 2's specialized and general-purpose processors. Software modules are included for every aspect of the autonomous driving pipeline, from object detection, classification and segmentation to map localization and path planning."

DIGITS is the platform used to train the neural network that is then used by the Drive PX 2 hardware. The software is purportedly improving in both accuracy and training time with NVIDIA achieving a 96% accuracy rating at identifying traffic signs based on the traffic sign database from Ruhr University Bochum after a training session lasting only 4 hours as opposed to training times of days or even weeks.

NVIDIA claims that the initial Drive PX has been picked up by over 50 development teams (automakers, universities, software developers, et al) interested in autonomous vehicles. Early access to development hardware is expected to be towards the middle of the year with general availability of final hardware in Q4 2016.

The new Drive PX 2 is getting a serious hardware boost with the inclusion of two dedicated graphics processors (the Drive PX was based around two Tegra X1 SoCs), and that should allow automakers to really push what's possible in real time and push the self-driving car a bit closer to reality and final (self) drive-able products. I'm excited to see that vision come to fruition and am looking forward to seeing what this improved hardware will enable in the auto industry!

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

Source: NVIDIA

CES 2016: Activision Blizzard Confirms MLG Purchase

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2016 - 04:44 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, mlg, esports, blizzard, Activision

On New Year's Day, rumors flew about MLG being purchased by Activision Blizzard for $46 million USD. At the time, the vast majority of available information discussed how this would affect shareholders, particularly those with lower-class stock in the eSport company. (As it turns out, very poorly.) I wondered why Activision Blizzard would want MLG's assets, especially considering their heavy involvement with ESL, afreecaTV, and others.

Activision_Blizzard_logo.png

According to a press release from Activision Blizzard themselves, they intend to “create the ESPN of esports.” The Activision Blizzard Media Networks division will be led by the former CEO of ESPN, Steve Bornstein, and the co-founder of MLG, Mike Sepso. The other co-founder of MLG, Sundance DiGiovanni, will remain at MLG. It was previously rumored, during the investor's leak, that he was replaced by the former CFO of MLG, Greg Chisholm. While I expect that some shuffling has occurred, DiGiovanni will apparently remain in a management role at MLG. Granted, it could be equivalent to Hideo Kojima's “holiday” last October, but that would just be silly.

As far as I can tell, other broadcasters have not commented on what this means to them.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

G.Skill makes a move into the gaming headset market

Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2016 - 04:16 PM |
Tagged: SV710, SR910, gskill, gaming headset, audio

G.Skill have been focusing on the peripheral market recently, releasing a gaming mouse and keyboard and now a pair of headphones, the SR910 and SV710.  Hardware Canucks recently put up a video review of the two headsets, which are almost identical apart from the external controls.  The SV710 has a very large inline volume controller that was not well received while the SV910 has a larger control hub that sits on your desktop and allows individual control over the drivers in the headset.  Unfortunately they were not overly impressed with the design and performance of the headsets and the less expensive stereo SV710 model was preferred over the more complex and expensive SR910.

1.jpg

"G.Skill has entered the audio segment with its SR910 and SV710 gaming headsets—and that's a big step for a company still finding its feet outside its core market."

Here is some more Tech News from aroud the web:

Audio Corner

Meet GCN next, AMD's Polaris

Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2016 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: amd, Polaris, FinFET

Ryan's coverage of the new Polaris architecture will be up momentarily but in the meantime you can take a peek at The Tech Report's coverage here.  The new architecture will utilize FinFETs of an unspecified process node and is designed to power the new UHD displays and VR headsets due for release over this coming year.  Raja Koduri discusses the two major goals of the new architecture, fast pixels and deep pixels.  Fast pixels refers to the awe inspiring amount of bandwidth required to draw on UHD displays, twin 4K displays would require addressing 1.8 gigapixels per refresh which would certainly need some fast pixels.  Deep pixels refers to improved support for variable refresh rates and likely encompasses support for the new HDR technology we will see appear on the market in the near future.  If you can't hold off your curiosity for our coverage you can pop over here.

timeline.jpg

"AMD will release new Radeons built on its next-gen Polaris architecture in mid-2016. We got an early look at this new architecture and AMD's plans for building these chips with FinFETs last month at the company's Radeon Technologies Group tech summit."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Keep your tired lithium batteries on ice

Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2016 - 07:02 PM |
Tagged: battery

We know that heat and Lithium based batteries don't mix but there is more to worry about than catastrophic failure.  A post over at Hack a Day illustrates the consequences of heating a Lithium based battery with 1% or less charge, the complete and permanent death of the batteries ability to hold a charge.  There are some uses for these batteries in designs which can trap heat near to the battery and not properly transfer it out and it is apparently very important to keep those batteries at least moderately charged.  If you are making something which might expose the batteries to excess heat ensure you monitor the charge to prevent having to replace the batteries.  The complete discharge of a Lithium cell is never a good practice and this illustrates another reason to keep those batteries charged.

285562_orig.jpg

"There’s a million ways to kill a battery, and lithium batteries are known not to like being completely discharged, but it looks like the combination of deep discharge and heat is entirely deadly. Now you know."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Hack a Day

Rumor: MLG "Assets" Sold to Activision Blizzard

Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2016 - 03:08 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, mlg, esports, blizzard, Activision

Update (10:10pm ET): Forgot to add "rumor" to title.

So I didn't expect this. According to eSports Observer, MLG has basically been liquidated to Activision Blizzard for $46 million USD. Neither company has confirmed the report. The source is a leaked letter that was allegedly sent to stockholders, many of whom, if the rumors are true, were not informed prior to the sale. That's kind-of crappy.

Major_League_Gaming_(logo).png

We will probably hear this story evolve, if true, over the next couple weeks. The organization was said to have been running on a substantial amount of debt, relative to the company's size, for quite some time. If the organization shuts down as it seems it will, then many investors will probably get next to nothing.

On the other hand, it is interesting to see what Activision Blizzard will do with their acquisition. The publisher holds several popular spectator titles, such as Call of Duty, StarCraft, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, World of Warcraft, and soon to be Overwatch. I doubt that the company would roll their games into their own eSport service, especially as they are growing closer to rival ESL, so I would have to expect that these “assets” will be used to support (or leverage control) over third-party broadcasters and/or leagues.

WebGL2 Is On Its Way

Subject: General Tech | January 1, 2016 - 03:25 AM |
Tagged: webgl2, webgl, mozilla, firefox

The Khronos Group created WebGL to bring a GPU-accelerated platform to web browsers. With a few minor differences, it is basically JavaScript bindings for OpenGL ES 2.0. It also created a few standards in JavaScript itself to support things like raw buffers of data that could be assigned types in an unmanaged way. Basically every latest-version web browser supports it these days, and we're starting to see it used in interesting ways.

webgl2-2015-particles.jpg

The next step is WebGL2. OpenGL ES 3.0 adds a bunch of new features that are sorely needed for modern games and applications. For instance, it allows drawing to multiple render targets, which is very useful for virtual cameras in video games (although the original WebGL software could access this as an optional extension when supported). The addition of “Uniform Buffer Objects” is a better example. This allows you to store a bunch of data, like view transformation matrices, as a single buffer that can be bound to multiple applications, rather than binding them one at a time to every draw that needs them.

It's hard to describe, but demos speak a thousand words.

The news today is that Mozilla Nightly now ships with WebGL2 enabled by default. It was previously hidden, disabled by default, behind an option in the browser. This doesn't seem like a big deal, but one of the largest hurdles to WebGL2 is how the browsers actually implement it. The shading language in WebGL was simple enough that most browsers convert it to DirectX HLSL on Windows. This is said to have the added advantage of obfuscating the ability to write malicious code, since developers never directly writes what's executed. GLSL in OpenGL ES 3.0 is much more difficult. I'm not sure whether the browsers will begin to trust OpenGL ES 3.0 drivers directly, or if they finally updated the GLSL translator, but supported implementations means that something was fixed.

Unfortunately, OpenGL compute shaders are not supported in WebGL2. That said, the biggest hurdle is, again, to get WebGL2 working at all. From my talks with browser vendors over the last year or so, it sounds like features (including compute shaders) should start flying in easily once this hurdle is cleared. From there, GPGPU in a website should be much more straightforward.

Meanwhile, Oculus Touch Won't Arrive Until 2H16

Subject: General Tech | January 1, 2016 - 12:49 AM |
Tagged: Oculus, oculus rift, oculus touch, vive vr

Valve and Oculus are targeting roughly the same window to release the consumer editions of their respective VR equipment. While technical information will likely wait until next week, we are hearing about delays ahead of CES. In the Vive's case, they couldn't afford to wait until the show, because it was supposed to launch in Holiday 2015. That has been revised to April.

oculus-2015-touchcontrollers1.jpg

But this is about Oculus. Their headset is still expected to arrive on time, which is enough for many experiences. The Xbox One controller is supposedly the default for this platform. This puts them out of the running for motion-control software, as seen on the Vive, though. Oculus is developing their own, called the Oculus Touch. They said they were launching without it and that it is optional. We now know that this will be in the second half of the year, which could be as early as the “few months after the Rift” as we were told, or as late as a year from now.

We're already hearing concerns about incompatibility between the two systems, since it will lead to some level of platform-exclusivity. Lead time could help a platform gain ground, unless consumers outright refuse to buy in to any of them in case it ends up being the Betamax or HD-DVD. I'm not sure what we, as consumers, can do to prevent any of these negative outcomes, but it's something we need to be mindful of, especially throughout 2016.

Source: Oculus

Final Fantasy IX PC Version Confirmed (for Japan)

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2015 - 09:23 PM |
Tagged: square enix, pc gaming, final fantasy

Back in September, SquareEnix announced that Final Fantasy V was coming to the PC. I took the opportunity to list all the main-line Final Fantasy titles, sorted by generation, and classified them as having a PC release (or not). The odd one out was Final Fantasy IX. It belongs in the set of three original PlayStation titles, but, unlike VII and VIII, was not given a PC release at the time. I was worried that SquareEnix might not go through the trouble for just a single game.

square-2015-ff9-logo.jpg

Apparently, they are doing a version for PCs and Smartphones. It looks somewhat similar to the handheld remake of Final Fantasy III, although that is similar to the PlayStation graphics. It is possible that it will not make it to a worldwide release, but, since the website is fully translated into English, you would expect that the game would be localized, too. If the game is localized, there's very little reason to block it off geographically.

They only have system requirements for iOS. They will probably list Windows system requirements at a later date, which I assume the disable “System” button refers to. Android 4.1 is required for that platform, but they don't say anything about hardware. Regardless, I doubt that this will require much.

Source: Square Enix