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Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 14, 2013 - 04:06 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: E3, E3 13, ea, dice
How could I resist?
I was surprised, the EA keynote -- usually an event which dances past, carefully not leaving anything like "an impression" on its way out -- stuck with me more than any other keynote. Sure, throughout the EA Sports segment I was cleaning my "office" and only modestly paying any level of attention, but I feel that DICE swept the show when they appeared. This, and the rest of the week brought good, bad, and awesome news for us PC gamers.
You have probably seen the Battlefield 4 multiplayer demo by this point. We linked to it, we discussed it. It seems like the destructibility found in the Battlefield 3 single player campaign was absent from the multiplayer not because of a technical reason but rather a design decision. Sure, we can see the radio tower collapse, but building destruction was quite simplified even when compared to Bad Company 2.
The Skyscraper collapse seems like it is a legitimate aspect of the game this time around and not just a baloney promotional piece. When the building collapses you can notice the control point disappear from the mini-map in the bottom left corner of the HUD. That gameplay element required quite a bit of design thought, even Bad Company 2 made buildings with Conquest flags indestructible. Maybe the harsh limitations on Battlefield 3 destructibility was more to keep unified game play between the PC and the 24 player-limited consoles?
Sadly, during E3 we have found that mod support will not be available for Battlefield 4. I must compliment GM of DICE, Karl-Magnus Troedsson, for his blunt honesty. It would be much simpler to kick your feet and say wait and see for something you know will never see the light of day; but, he gave us the straight answer. Sure, he said then engine is not ready for a public release but even then he admitted that it was not for our benefit. They do not have a good idea what boundaries they want to allow modders to access. While disappointing, at least it does not have a condescending tone like we experienced with Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3 mod support requests.
Karl-Magnus Troedsson, DICE GM: We get that question a lot. I always answer the same thing, and then the community calls me bad names. We get the feedback, we understand it. We also would like to see more player-created content, but we would never do something like this if we feel we couldn’t do this 100 percent. That means we need to have the right tools available, we need to have the right security around this regarding what parts of the engine we let loose, so to say. So for BF4 we don’t have any planned mod support, I have to be blunt about saying that. We don’t.
Moving on, though. As we know, Disney decided that LucasArts properties would be best left to the hands at EA. The internet simultaneously joy-teared at the thought of a Star Wars Battlefront title developed by DICE. Sure enough, Star Wars: Battlefront 3 is a thing, and it will be developed using the Frostbite 3 engine.
Still no word on an Indiana Jones titled based on Mirror's Edge. Heh heh heh.
Oh by the way, the announcement I am, by far, most excited for is Mirror's Edge. I absolutely loved the first game, despite its terrible dialog, for how genuine and intrinsically valuable it felt. It gave the impression of a passion project, both in gameplay and in narrative theme. Thankfully, the game is being developed and it will come to the PC.
We also found out that Mirror's Edge is planned to be an "open world action adventure title". Normally that would scare me, but, that was what we were expecting of the first Mirror's Edge before their linear bait-and-switch.
Cannot tell if good or bad... but we will see at some point in the future.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 13, 2013 - 04:17 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: E3, E3 13, dell, alienware, alienware x51
The launch of Haswell led to many new product launches, and so did E3. The overlap? The Alienware X51 gaming desktop has been refreshed with some very compelling components at a surprisingly compelling price.
Unfortunately, there is a slight difference between the Canadian and the American offerings; it is not a case of one citizen paying more than the another, however, as things are more shuffled around than outright better. Our Canadian readers start with a base price of $1499.99, and Americans start out at $1449.99. Americans can spend an extra $100 to upgrade their DVD reader to a Blu-Ray drive, Canadians get Blu-Ray by default. Therefore, if you desire a Blu-Ray drive, it is $50 cheaper to be Canadian; otherwise, it is $50 cheaper to be American.
Whether you are Canadian or American, I would personally recommend spending the extra $100 upgrading your RAM from 8GB to 16 GB. Sure, 8GB is a lot, but the extra can go a long way especially with the direction that web browsers have been heading. You each, also, have the option of spending $300 and receiving a 256GB SSD albeit also at the expense of, beyond the $300, reducing your 2TB HDD down to a slower, 5400RPM 1TB drive.
In all, this actually looks quite compelling for someone who wishes to have a console-esque form-factor near their TV. Unfortunately there are currently no Ubuntu-based options for this X51, although you may freely ($0) choose between Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit and Windows 8 64-bit.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Shows and Expos | June 13, 2013 - 02:26 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: E3, E3 13, amd
The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is the biggest event of the year for millions of gamers. The majority of coverage ends up gawking over the latest news out of Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo, and we certainly will provide our insights in those places if we believe they have been insufficiently explained, but E3 is also a big time for PC gamers too.
5 GHz and unlocked to go from there.
AMD, specifically, has a lot to say this year. In the year of the next-gen console reveals, AMD provides the CPU architecture for two of the three devices and have also designed each of the three GPUs. This just leaves a slight win for IBM, who is responsible for the WiiU main processor, for whatever that is worth. Unless the Steam Box comes to light and without ties to AMD, it is about as close to a clean sweep as any hardware manufacturer could get.
But for the PCs among us...
For those who have seen the EA press conference, you have probably seen lots of sports. If you stuck around after the sports, you probably saw Battlefield 4 being played by 64 players on stage. AMD has been pushing, very strongly, for developer relations over the last year. DICE, formerly known for being an NVIDIA-friendly developer, did not exhibit Battlefield 4 "The Way It's Meant to be Played" at the EA conference. According to one of AMD's Twitter accounts:
— AMD Radeon Graphics (@AMDRadeon) June 12, 2013
On the topic of "Gaming Evolved" titles, AMD is partnering with Square Enix to optimize Thief for GCN and A-Series APUs. The Press Release specifically mentioned Eyefinity and Crossfire support along with a DirectX 11 rendering engine; of course, the enhancements with real, interesting effects are the seemingly boring ones they do not mention.
The last major point from their E3 event was the launch of their 5 GHz FX processors. For more information on that part, check out Josh's thoughts from a couple of days ago.
Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 12, 2013 - 08:47 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: E3, razer, blade, haswell, gtx 765m, geforce
With the launch of Intel's Haswell processor, accessory maker-turned notebook vendor Razer announced a pretty slick machine, the Blade. Based on a quad-core, 37 watt Core i7 Haswell CPU and a GeForce GTX 765M GPU, the Razer Blade packs a lot of punch.
It also includes 8GB of DDR3-1600 memory, an mSATA SSD and integrates a 14-in 1600x900 display. The design of the unit looks very similar to that of the MacBook Pro but the black metal finish is really an attractive style change.
The embedded battery is fairly large at 70 Whr and Razer claims this will equate to a 6 hour battery life when operating non-gaming workloads. With a weight just barely creeping past 4 lbs, the Razer Blade is both portable and powerful it seems.
The price tag starts at $1799 so you won't be able to pick one of these up on the cheap, but for users like me that are willing to pay a bit more for performance and style in a slim chassis, the Blade seems like a very compelling option. There are a lot of questions left to answer on this notebook including the thermal concerns of packing that much high frequency silicon into a thin and light form factor. Does the unit get hot in bad places? Can the screen quality match the performance of Haswell + Kepler?
We are working with Razer to get a model in very soon to put it to the test and I am looking forward to answering if we have found the best gaming portable on the market.
Subject: Displays, Shows and Expos | June 12, 2013 - 08:24 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Oculus, oculus rift, VR, E3
I have been a big proponent of the Oculus Rift and its move into the world of consumer-ready VR (virtual reality) technology. I saw it for the first time at Quakecon 2012 where Palmer Luckey and John Carmack sat on stage and addressed the new direction. Since then we saw it at CES and finally got in our own developer kit last month for some extended hands-on.
While I have definitely been impressed with the Rift in nearly every way while using it, the first thing anyone says when putting on the headset for the first time is about the graphics - the resolution of the unit was just too low and it creates a "screen door" effect because of it. As I wrote in my first preview:
I will say that the low resolution is definitely a barrier for me. Each eye is only seeing a 640x800 resolution in this version of the kit and that close up you can definitely see each pixel. Even worse, this creates a screen door effect that is basically like looking through a window with a screen installed. It's not great but you could get used to it if you had to; I am just hoping the higher resolution version of this kit is closer.
At E3 2013 the team at Oculus was able to put together a very early prototype of an HD version of the screen. By using a new 1920x1080 display each eye is able to see 960x1080; roughly twice the pixel density of the initial developer kit.
I got to spend some time with the higher resolution model today and I have to say that the difference is striking - and instantly noticeable. Gone was the obvious screen door effect and I was able to focus purely on the content. The content itself was new as well - Oculus and Epic were showing the Unreal Engine 4 integration with a custom version of the Elemental demo. The colors were crisp, the effects were amazing and only in a couple of rare instances of solid white color did we notice the black lines that plagued the first version.
As of now Oculus doesn't have plans to offer an updated developer kit with the 1080p screen installed but you just never know. They are still looking at several different phone screens and haven't made any final decisions on which direction to go but they are definitely close.
When I inquired about improvements on head tracking latency and accuracy to aid in motion sickness concerns (like I seem to have) Oculus was hesitant to say there was any single fix. Instead, a combination of lower latency, better hardware and even better thought out content were key to reducing these effects in gamers.
Subject: Displays, Shows and Expos | June 12, 2013 - 07:58 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: wqxga, wqhd, monoprice, ips, E3, 2560x1440
While wandering the halls at E3 to talk with NVIDIA and AMD about the future of gaming, I ran across a small booth with Monoprice in it. If you don't know Monoprice, it is an online seller of electronics and cables and much of its merchandise can be found throughout the offices at PC Perspective.
In recent months Monoprice made news with PC gamers as one of the first major retailers to begin selling the low-cost 27-in 2560x1440 monitors shipping from Korea. While the monitors are likely very much the same, buying from a local company in the US rather than trusting an eBay buyer in Korea brings a lot of peace of mind to the transaction. Getting a dead pixel and 1 year warranty along with it helps too.
On hand at E3 was the Monoprice IPS-ZERO-G Monitor that runs at a 2560x1440 resolution with a single dual-link DVI input. This is an updated to the first model Monoprice shipped with a newer, thinner design and an even better $390 price point.
Monoprice also is offering a model with an internal scalar that allows the display to include additional inputs like HDMI, VGA and DisplayPort. The 27-in IPS-G Pro will sell for $474 and will also be tuned for AdobeRGB and sRGB options.
In addition to the two 27-in models, Monoprice also has added 30-in 2560x1600 monitors: the IPS CrystalPro and the IPS Pro with the same primary differentiation - input support.
I am looking forward to getting my hands on these Monoprice display options to see if they can live up to the levels of the other Korean-built displays we have in the office. If they do, then I think we have a new reason for PC gamers to celebrate.
Another interesting find at the booth were some new HDMI cables using a RedMere controller on the connector to allow for extremely thin (and long) runs. First shown at CES in 2008, the RedMere RM1689 chip runs solely on the power provided by the HDMI output and allows cables to use much less copper to create thinner designs. They will obviously cost a bit more than standard options but you can see from the photo above the difference is striking.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 11, 2013 - 04:06 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: wwdc 13, MacBook Air, Mac Pro, apple
Sometimes our "Perspective" is needed on Apple announcements because some big points just do not get covered by the usual sources. Other times, portions of the story can be relevant to our readers. This is one of those days where both are true. Either side should review our thoughts and analysis of Apple's recent ultrabook and, especially, their upcoming desktop offerings.
The MacBook Air has been, predictably, upgraded Intel's Haswell processors. Battery life is the first obvious benefit of the CPU, and that has been well reported. The 11-inch MacBook Air gains an extra four hours of battery life, usable for up to 9 hours between charges. The extra space on the 13-inch MacBook Air allows it to last 12 hours between charges.
Less discussed, both MacBook Airs will contain Intel's Iris iGPU more commonly known as Intel HD 5000. You cannot get Intel HD 5000 graphics without selecting a BGA socket component which you would install by soldering it in place. While there are several better solutions from competing GPU vendors, Apple will have one of the first shipping implementations of Haswell's canonical graphics processor. Iris is said to have double the performance of previous generation Ivy Bridge graphics for a fraction of its power consumption.
Also included in the MacBook Air is an 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi network adapter and Bluetooth 4.0. Apple is not typically known to introduce new standards and often lags severely behind what is available on the PC unless they had a hand in trademarking it, USB 3.0 being the obvious and recent example.
The specifications will be somewhat customizable, the user is able to select between: an i5 and an i7 processor, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, and 128, 256, or 512GB SSD. It has shipped the day it was announced with base prices ranging between $999 for an entry-level 11-inch and $1099 for an entry-level 13-inch.
But now we move on to the dying industry, desktop PCs, where all innovation has died unless it is to graft a touch interface to anything and everything.
"Can't innovate any more, my ass", grunts Phil Schiller, on the keynote stage.
Whether you like it, or think "innovation" is the best word, it's a legitimate new design some will want.
While the new Mac Pro is not a system that I would be interested in purchasing, for issues I will outline soon, these devices are what some users really want. I have been a very strong proponent of OEM devices as they highlight the benefit of the PC industry: choice. You can purchase a device, like the new Mac Pro, from a vendor; alternatively, you can purchase the components individually to assemble yourself and save a lot of money; otherwise, you can hire a small business computer store or technician.
We need more companies, like Apple, to try new devices and paradigms for workstations and other high-performance devices. While it is less ideal for Apple to be the ones coming up with these redesigns, Apple's platform encourages applications to be vendor-specific (only run on a Mac), it can still benefit the PC industry by demonstrating that life and demand still exists; trying something new could reap large benefits. Not everyone wants to have a full ATX case with discrete components but still want workstation performance, and that is okay.
Now when it comes to actual specifications, the typical coverage glossed over what could be easily approximated by a trip to Wikipedia and Google. Sure, some may have been in a rush within the auditorium, but still.
The specifications are:
- Intel Xeon E5-2600 V2-class CPU, Ivy Bridge-E, 12 cores max (suggests single-socket)
- 4-channel DDR3 ECC RAM, apparently 4 DIMMS which suggests 4x16GB (Max).
Dual FirePro GPUs, 4096 total shaders with 2x6GB GDDR5.
- Pretty clearly based on FirePro W9000
- Seems to be slightly underclocked, losing about 0.5 Teraflop per GPU.
- PCIe SSD
- Thunderbolt 2, USB3.0, and WiFi ac (+ a/b/g/n??), Bluetooth 4.0
Now the downside is that basically anything you wish to add to the Mac Pro needs to be done through Thunderbolt, Bluetooth 4.0, or USB 3.0. When you purchase an all-in-one custom design, you forfeit your ability to reach in and modify the components. There is also no mention of pricing, and for a computer with this shoplist you should expect to pay a substantial invoice even without "The Apple Tax", but that is not the point of purchasing a high-end workstation. Apple certainly put in as close to the best-of-the-best as they could.
Now could people stop claiming the PC is dead and work towards sustaining it? I know people love stories of jarring industry shifts, but this is ridiculous.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | June 10, 2013 - 02:49 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Ultra, geforce titan, computex
So long to Computex 2013, we barely knew thee. You poured stories all over our news feed for more than a whole week. What say you, another story for the... metaphorical road... between here... and... Taipei? Okay, so the metaphorical road is bumpy and unpaved, work with me.
It was substantially more difficult to decipher the name of a video card a number of years ago. Back then, products would be classified by their model numbers and often assigned a suffix like: "Ultra", "Pro", or "LE". These suffixes actually meant a lot, performing noticeably better (or maybe worse) than the suffix-less number and possibly even overlapping with other number-classes.
Just when they were gone long enough for us to miss them, the suffixes might make some measure of a return. On the show floor, Colorful exhibited the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Ultra Edition. This card uses a standard slightly-disabled GK110-based GeForce GTX Titan GPU, with the usual 2688 CUDA cores, and 6GB of GDDR5. While the GK110 chip has potential for 2880 CUDA cores, NVIDIA has not released any product (not even Tesla or Quadro) with more than 2688 CUDA cores enabled. Colorful's Titan Ultra and the reference Titan are electrically identical; this "Ultra" version just adds a water block for a cooling system and defaults to some amount of a factory overclock.
But, this is not the first time we have heard of a Titan Ultra...
Back in April, ExtremeTech found a leak for two official products: the GTX Titan LE and the GTX Titan Ultra. While the LE would be slightly stripped down compared to the full GTX Titan, the GTX Titan Ultra would be NVIDIA's first release of a GK110 part without any CUDA cores disabled.
So if that rumor ends up being true, you could choose between Colorful's GTX Titan Ultra with its partially disabled GK110 based on the full GTX Titan design; or, you could choose the reference GTX Titan Ultra based on a full GK110 GPU unlike the partially disabled GK110 on the full GTX Titan.
If you are feeling nostalgic... that might actually be confusion... as this is why suffixes went away.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 7, 2013 - 08:21 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: serious sam, E3 13, E3
We still have another 5-or-so days left on the Serious Sam Humble Weekly Sale and so if you were interested in donating a bunch of money for mindless shooters, you still have a chance. Also, you apparently have another reason to do so.
Crowdfunding is popular these days, we even did it. Basically anyone can set up a project, collect money from random people on the internet, and give perks in return. In this case, according to PC Gamer, Croteam is apparently using revenue collected from the Humble Bundle to fund the creation of the next Serious Sam: Serious Sam 4.
If you wish to snag a bunch of Serious Sam games for yourself or your friends, all while supporting Croteam and their future titles, then donate to the Humble Sale by Thursday, June 13th, 2013 at (I believe) 2PM EDT. By the way, that is the last official day of E3.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 7, 2013 - 06:24 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: E3, E3 13, thief, Thief 4
The pre-expo press conferences are still three days out but only suckers want to get swamped in the press coverage, right? It is like people who leave work two days early to beat the traffic caused by people leaving a day early from a long weekend to beat traffic. This is all like that, if it were directed by Michael Bay.
And speaking of live action E3 movies, Eidos released a trailer for their upcoming Thief reboot. I really cannot tell which sections are in-engine, which are pre-rendered, and which are live action. As for the game? Well, all I know is that you are going to be stealing stuff.
Thief will be coming to the PC, PS4, and Xbox One sometime in 2014.
Let us play a little game here: what do you think is in-engine; what do you think is pre-rendered; and what do you think is live action? Let us know in the comments.
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Shows and Expos | June 7, 2013 - 03:56 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: seasonic, PSU, m12II evo, m12II bronze, haswell, computex 2013, computex
Following Intel's announcement of new Haswell sleep states, various power supply manufacturers have released compatibility lists detailing which PSUs are able to deliver the low load necessary to support the power sipping sleep states on the 12V rail (which has not been much of a concern until Haswell).
One such PSU manufacturer was Seasonic, who has quite a few Haswell-ready power supplies across several lineups including its Platinum, G, and M12II series, among others. Included in that compatibility list were two new power supplies that Seasonic is showing off at Computex this week: the Seasonic Platinum 1200 and Seasonic M12II Bronze Evo Edition.
SeaSonic Platinum 1200
The Platinum 1200 is a high-end modular power supply that is capable of powering beefy multi-GPU setups. It is 80+ Platinum rated and is up to 92% efficient at 50% load.
Sesonic M12II Bronze Evo Edition
The Seasonic M12II Bronze Evo Edition is an updated version on past models and includes two SKUs that come in at 750W and 850W. It is a fully modular unit with flat black cables and fan control tech. It is 80+ Bronze and Energy Star rated, and is compatible with Intel's 4th Generation Core processors.
Also read: The full list of Haswell-compatible Seasonic power supplies @ PC Perspective.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 6, 2013 - 08:46 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: xbox one, E3 13, E3
So heading up to E3, Microsoft decided to drop their DRM bombshell so it would get buried over the next couple of days. In terms of permissiveness, the Xbox One is not nearly as bad as feared; of course, it is still terrible in certain ways.
Microsoft will allow games to be played offline on the Xbox One... for 24 hours. If your internet connection has been offline for longer than that period (unclear whether the timer starts when internet goes out or from last update) then your system will be locked to live TV and disc-based movies. Games and apps, even ones which should have no online functionality, will cease to function until you reconnect with Xbox servers.
This also means that if the Xbox servers have an outage lasting between 24 hours and "taken offline forever", all gaming and apparently apps will cease to function on the Xbox One.
It's like if Wall-E grew a Freddie Mercury
But at least they will allow some level of used-game transfer... if the publisher agrees. Check out this statement from Microsoft Studios:
In our role as a game publisher, Microsoft Studios will enable you to give your games to friends or trade in your Xbox One games at participating retailers. Third party publishers may opt in or out of supporting game resale and may set up business terms or transfer fees with retailers. Microsoft does not receive any compensation as part of this. In addition, third party publishers can enable you to give games to friends. Loaning or renting games won’t be available at launch, but we are exploring the possibilities with our partners.
So this will be an interesting experiment: how will revenue and profitability be affected for game publishers who deny used game sales? I honestly expect that used game sales actually promote the purchasing of more games and that initiatives to limit used game transfers will reduce user engagement. Of course Microsoft is now taking all of the flak from Sony, who may or may not be considering the same practice, but I am sure at least Microsoft is hoping that everyone will forget this when shiny new trailers erase the collective gamer memory.
In return, however, Microsoft is being fairly permissive when it comes to how many users can be licensed on a single disk. Up to ten family members are allowed access to your collective library.
And, after all, it should not be a surprise that a console game disappears when Microsoft shuts down their servers: consoles were always designed to be disposable. I have been proclaiming that for quite some time. The difference is now, people cannot really deny it.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 6, 2013 - 05:42 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: unreal engine 4, ue4, E3 13, E3, computex
We are bleeding through the overlap between Computex and E3 media windows; this news has a somewhat relevant fit for both. Unreal Engine 4 is coming and I expect we will see one or more demos and UE4-powered titles over the next week. In fact, I would be fairly shocked if we do not see the end of the Elemental Demo with the Xbox One E3 keynote. We may also potentially see Unreal Engine 4 running on mobile devices and maybe even HTML5 at some point throughout the tradeshow, either canonically through Epic or via a licensee product.
This morning, Epic opened the Unreal Engine 4 Integrated Partners Program (IPP). Of course they already have a couple of members, most of which were partners with Unreal Engine 3.
The founding IPP partners are:
Wwise from Audiokinetic
- Manages large databases of sound effects and voice-overs
- Manages subtitles and multiple dubbings of voice clips
Autodesk Gameware from Autodesk
- Contains multiple packages including Beast, Navigation, and Scaleform
- Scaleform is a Flash rendering engine for HUDs, menus, etc. developed using Flash Professional in 2D or 3D. It is what StarCraft II, Mass Effect, and Borderlands uses.
- Beast is a lighting toolkit for global illumination, radiosity, etc.
- Navigation is an AI solver, predominantly for pathfinding.
Simplygon from Donya Labs
- Reduces polygon count of models so they take up less processing resources especially as they get further away from the camera.
Enlighten from Geomerics
- Another Global Illumination solver, most popular usage being Battlefield 3.
SpeedTree for Games from IDV
- Makes a bunch of efficient trees so studios do not need to hire as many minimum wage peons.
Intel Threading Building Blocks (TBB) from Intel
- Helps developers manage C++ threading for multicore systems.
- Deals with memory management and scheduling tasks
morpheme from NaturalMotion
- Animation and physics software for designers to create animations
- Works with NVIDIA PhysX
euphoria from NaturalMotion
- Simulates animations based on driving conditions via the CPU, most popular usage being GTA IV.
PhysX and APEX from NVIDIA
- You probably know this one.
- GPU-based rigid body, soft body, fluid, and cloth solvers.
- Allows for destructible environments and other complex simulations.
Oculus Rift from Oculus VR
- You probably also know this one, especially if you keep up with our Video Perspectives.
- Head-mounted display with motion tracking for VR.
Bink Video from Rad Game Tools
- ... is not included! Just kidding, that stuff'll survive a nuclear apocalypse.
- Seriously, check in just about any DirectX or OpenGL game's credits if it includes pre-rendered video cutscenes or video-textures.
- I'll wait here.
- In all seriousness, Rad Game Tools has been licensed in over 15,500 titles. It's been a meme to some extent for game programmers. This should be no surprise.
Telemetry Performance Visualizer from Rad Game Tools
- Allows developers to see graphs of what their hardware is working on over time.
- Helps developers know what benefits the most from optimization.
RealD Developer Kit (RDK) from RealD
- Helps game developers create stereoscopic 3D games.
Umbra 3 from Umbra Software
- Determines what geometry can be seen by the player and what should be unloaded to increase performance.
- Sits between artists and programmers to the former does not need to think about optimization, and the latter does not need to claw their eyes out.
IncrediBuild-XGE from Xoreax
- Apparently farms out tasks to idle PCs on your network.
- I am not sure, but I think it is mostly useful for creating a pre-render farm at a game studio for light-baking and such.
We still have a little while until E3 and so we do not know how E3 will be, but I highly expect to see Unreal Engine 4 be a recurring theme over the next week. Keep coming back to PC Perspective, because you know we have a deep interest in where Epic is headed.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 6, 2013 - 03:29 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: computex, Windows 8.1, windows blue
Jensen Harris, member of the Windows User Experience (UX) team at Microsoft, performed a video walk-through of the new Windows interface. Of course, as I always say when discussing Windows 8, the real problems will arise with the Windows Store and certification requirements; interface problems annoy, censorship problems harm.
But, disclaimer aside, the interface of Windows 8.1 seems much more useable.
First and foremost is the Lock Screen. People enjoy digital photo frames and a locked tablet certainly looks more classy than any other that I have seen. It will collage photos together, stored locally and shared from a phone or Skydrive over wireless, with a thin font date and time. Combined with a decent resolution IPS display, that could be an interesting way to encourage users to leave their device on its charger. Not to mention, the frame would continually synchronize with Skydrive and thus receive new photos without end-user interaction; it is useful, for instance, for the family of an elderly person who wants to keep in touch but actively rejects technology.
The All Apps screen lists all applications installed on screen. This allows users to take a little weight off of the Start Screen and, instead of using it as a launcher, use the All Apps screen as a launcher and use the Start Screen as a nexus of important information. If you wish to use the Start Screen as a launcher, similar to pinned icons for Windows 7, you will have more choice in icon size to either fit more apps or give tiles with relevant information more space.
Screen splitting was pretty horrendous in Windows 8. An application could either be in full screen, be a sidebar app, or take up the room not taken by a sidebar app. If you have multiple monitors, bringing up the Start Screen would shuffle everything around pretty much ensuring that you do not have more than a couple of apps focused at any given time. Windows 8.1 allows you to split apps directly down the middle and, if you have a large display, allow you to fit three or four applications on screen at once.
Unfortunately, and I contacted Paul Thurrott last week to confirm I was up to date, there does not seem to be any multiple monitor enhancements in Windows 8.1. If you have want to punch through your second display because of applications from the Windows Store, keep using the desktop.
Or, if you wish to try it out for yourself, Windows 8.1 will be available for public preview on June 26th.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2013 - 08:58 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: computex, thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 2, Light Peak
We received Thunderbolt, on the PC at least, a year ago. While not yet ubiquitous, we will be receiving an update to the interface sooner than you would expect. The main advantages of Thunderbolt is the ridiculous bandwidth and ability to daisy-chain with displays. Thunderbolt 2 looks to advance both of those features.
Thunderbolt is based around a PCI Express signal for data and DisplayPort for video, both combined down a single cable. The cable, in fact, is compatible with Mini DisplayPort adapters and devices if used exclusively for video. The upgrade to Thunderbolt 2 advances the video standard to DisplayPort 1.2; as a result, Thunderbolt 2 devices will be capable of driving a 4K monitor (supposedly with sound) without requiring multiple cables to be connected.
In terms of strict bandwidth, Thunderbolt 2 will provide double the data rate of the original Thunderbolt. Instead of 10Gbps, new devices will be able to transfer at 20Gbps. This is especially useful for video content creators looking to manage, in real time, 4K or 120Hz data transferring between cameras and video gear. Struggling with large video capture bandwidth is something we know about...
As expected, there is not really any talk about specific prices yet (I would expect that depends on implementation) but you should look forward to it landing either really late this year or early next year. As for the original Thunderbolt? Well, the new standard is backwards compatible but there is concern whether new devices would be fairly crippled without the new standard.
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2013 - 04:36 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: z87, ROG, Maximus VI Formula, maximus vi, Intel, haswell, gaming, g30, crosschill, computex 2013, computex, asus
During an ASUS ROG press conference at Computex 2013 in Taipei, Taiwan, ASUS launched a number of new bits of hardware aimed at PC gamers and overclocking enthusiasts. In addition to the mini ITX Maximus VI Impact launch, ASUS showed off the ASUS Maximus VI Formula motherboard, OC Panel accessory, and ROG G30 desktop. The available details on each piece of hardware is as follows:
ASUS Maximus VI Formula Motherboard
While ASUS hinted at several of its Z87 motherboards last month by allowing us to post teaser photos ahead of the launch, until today enthusiasts have not seen the latest "Formula" motherboard. However, now that the board is official, you can see the new Z87 motherboard in high resolution photos below!
The board comes in red and black colors, and surprisingly, comes equipped with ASUS' thermal armor accessory which includes a plastic shroud for the front of the motherboard and a SECC back-plate with thermal pads to aid in cooling and supporting the motherboard (even with heavy CPU HSFs). In addition to the thermal armor, the board has finned heatsinks on the PCH and VRM hardware. The VRM heatsink in particular uses the company's CrossChill technology which allows user to integrate the VRM heatsink into their water cooling loop or leave it as air-cooled. The board also features a diagnostic display and start/reset buttons.
The ASUS Maximus VI Formula features a LGA 1150 CPU socket, four dual channel DDR3 DIMM slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots and a total of 10 SATA 3 6Gbps ports.
The rear IO panel includes a mPCI-E Combo II card that supports 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless radios along with a M.2 NGFF (Next Generation Form Factor) SSD slot at the top. Other IO includes:
- 4 x USB 2.0 ports (one used for BIOS flashing)
- 6 x USB 3.0 ports
- 2 x HDMI video outputs
- 1 x S/PDIF connector
- 1 x RJ45 Gigabit LAN
- 6 x analog audio jacks
Overclocking technology includes ASUS' Extreme Engine DIGI+ III power delivery that incorporates 60A BlackWing chokes, (90% efficient) NexFET MOSFETs, and 10K Black Metallic capacitors.
Finally, ASUS has also added a SupremeFX chipset for quality onboard audio. This audio chip is capable of 120dB SNR, a headphone amplifier for 600 ohm cans, EMI shielding, and quality OpAMPs.
ASUS OC Panel Overclocking Accessory
The ASUS OC Panel is a hardware accessory for the company's ROG Maximus VI Extreme motherboard. It allows you to adjust the BCLK and other settings related to overclocking your processor in real time. It also provides CPU temperature feedback on the top of the LED display.
According to the press release, overclockers Andre Yang and Shamino managed to push a system with a Maximus VI Extreme motherboard, 32GB RAM, and a Core-i7 Haswell processor to 7GHz CPU and 4200MHz clockspeed using liquid nitrogen cooling. It looks like a cool accessory that will allow you to easily adjust the overclocking settings without rebooting into the UEFI BIOS. Pricing and availability have not been announced, but expect it soon.
ASUS ROG G30 Gaming Desktop
The ROG TYTAN G30 desktop PC features a stylized case with red LEDs and a front door with ROG and ASUS logos. Internals include an Intel Core i7 4770K "Haswell" processor and a NVIDIA GTX 780 graphics card. Even better, ASUS is using liquid cooling for the CPU, and offers a 1-button overclock of all four CPU cores to 4.1GHz. The PC also integrates ASUS' SonicMaster and AudioWizard technology which reportedly enhances in-game audio.
Again, pricing and availability for the haswell gaming PC are still unknown.
What do you think of ASUS' recent ROG product announcements? Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Computex 2013 news throughout the week!
- ASUS Maximus VI Impact ROG Mini-ITX Motherboard @ PC Perspective
- ASUS Z87 Motherboard Lineup Preview @ PC Perspective
- ASUS "We Transform" Press Conference: Mobile devices, tablets, VivoPC, and more! @ PC Perspective
- ASUS VivoPC and VivoMouse Details @ PC Perspective
- ASUS Working On GTX 770 Poseidon With Hybrid Air/Water Cooler @ PC Perspective
- ASUS G750 Gaming Notebook With Haswell and GTX 700M Hardware @ PC Perspective
Subject: Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2013 - 10:59 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: computex 2013, computex, nvidia, msi, kepler, Intel, haswell, gtx 700M, gs70, gaming notebook
A couple of weeks ago, MSI revealed the GX70 and GX60 gaming notebooks powered by AMD's latest Richland APUs and 8970M (and 7970M) discrete graphics cards. Today, the company added the GS70 notebook to its lineup, and it is the opposite in terms of underlying technology. Specifically, the GS70 is a 17" gaming notebook with an Intel Haswell processor and a NVIDIA GTX765M. The portable gaming machine is 22mm thick and weighs in at less than 5.7 pounds (2.6kg), which is a noticeably weight reduction versus the Richland-powered models.
Expert Reviews UK goes hands-on with a prototype of the MSI GS70 at Computex 2013.
The GS70 comes clad in glossy black and is constructed of aluminum. External features include a large 17" (likely TN) display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080, a SteelSeries-engineered multicolor backlit keyboard, and a large trackpad. Connectivity options include:
- 4 x USB 3.0
- 1 x RJ45 LAN jack
- 3 x audio jacks (with surround sound support)
- 1 x SD card slot
- 1 x HDMI
- 2 x mini DisplayPort
Internal specifications include a not-yet-named Intel 4th Generation Core "Haswell" CPU, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and a NVIDIA GTX 765M. The discrete GPU is based on NVIDIA's Kepler architecture and features 768 CUDA cores clocked at 850 MHz and up to 2GB of graphics memory clocked at 1 GHz on a 128-bit bus. The system also uses a Killer NIC networking card and MSI's own SuperRAID technology that pairs two solid state drives in a RAID configuration for pure performance. The system should be able to play all modern PC games, though some details will need to be turned down. Multi-display output is supported for up to three external displays as well.
Unfortunately, MSI has not yet announced pricing or availability for this notebook. I would expect it to (paradoxically, despite the naming conventions) cost more than the existing GX70 (due to the newer, and faster, technology used) which starts at $1,399.99 MSRP. Keep an eye out for reviews later this year if you are interested in a mobile gaming PC, as this one looks interesting. Until then, Expert Reviews UK has some initial impressions and additional photos in this article.
Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2013 - 04:21 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xps 11, windows 8, dell, convertible tablet, computex 2013, computex, 1440p
Dell is showing off a new XPS 11 convertible tablet PC at Computex. The new tablet takes cues from Lenovo's Yoga ultrabook and switches out the traditional Dell center hinge for a new Yoga-like 180-degree hinge that folds back until the display is on the opposite side of the keyboard. In another twist, Dell has opted for a flat keyboard with keys that have no physical travel. Instead, it offers adjustable haptic and audio feedback when typing.
Engadget goes hands-on with Dell's new XPS 11.
Dell has managed to create an 11.6” convertible notebook that is 15mm thick and less than 2.5 pounds. According to Dell representatives on the show floor, the XPS 11 will come with a high resolution 2560 x 1440 IPS touchscreen display, which is practically-unheard of for such a tiny form factor notebook. Even better, the tablet will come with a pressure sensitive active digitizer.
The XPS 11 will run Windows 8, and is likely powered by Intel's Haswell “4th Generation Core” processor. However, Dell has not yet announced any internal specifications and the device on the show floor is merely a prototype. In other words, the design and internal hardware is not yet finalized and subject to change.
Engadget managed to get some hands on time with the XPS 11 at Computex. Unfortunately, they were not allowed to try out the keyboard or use the digitizer. Judging by the hands-on photos they shot, the upcoming tablet will support USB 3.0, SD cards, audio and HDMI output.
The 1440p display is impressive and the new keyboard should allow the device be more ergonomic in tablet mode. I'm intrigued but skeptical about my ability to use this as a daily driver device with the flat, no travel, keyboard. At the very least, hopefully it spawns some competition for 11.6” devices with high resolution displays!
OCZ Technology to Showcase its Leading Solid State Drives and Launch New Power Management Solutions at Computex 2013
Subject: Shows and Expos | June 3, 2013 - 03:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ces 2013, ocz
OCZ has given us a teaser of what we can expect to see at CES 2013 and it is a wide variety of products indeed. They will be launching new Fatal1ty branded PSUs, which will support Haswell's new power states, with a competition between himself and another professional gamer starting the function off. New Vector and Vertex drives will be revealed for the consumer and enterprise users will be treated to new PCIe and SAS SSDs to bring new performance levels to databases.
SAN JOSE, CA—June 3, 2013—OCZ Technology Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:OCZ), a leading provider of high-performance solid-state drives (SSDs) and power management solutions for computing devices and systems, will showcase the Company's comprehensive storage solutions for client and enterprise computing along with announcing its new line of Fatal1ty Series power supply products at Computex 2013 in Taipei, Taiwan June 4 through June 8. OCZ solutions can be viewed at the main show floor this year at the Nangang Exhibit Hall, Booth K0309a.
Continuing to demonstrate its commitment to the enthusiast market, OCZ is unveiling the new Fatal1ty Gaming Series power supplies (PSUs) in updated 550W and 750W models designed to provide exceptional power solutions for gamers and enthusiasts, offering performance and reliability coupled with exciting new features. These latest PSUs feature premium components and heavy-duty protection circuitries with a fully modular cable management system to provide an organized case environment that maximizes airflow by eliminating unnecessary wiring, and utilizes specialized DC-to-DC converters for compatibility with Intel’s Haswell platform. Both models also feature a single +12V rail for exceptional power distribution, 80-Plus Bronze rating for high energy efficiency up to 85% at typical loads, along with 135mm load-controlled fans with the Fatal1ty Series of trademark glowing red LEDs for stylish yet silent operation in high-end gaming rigs.
To kickoff the launch of the exciting new power supplies, Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel will compete against fellow gamer and former sparring partner Kyle “relic” Mims in a special shootout to be held June 6, 7-11pm at the SPARK venue in Taiwan’s landmark Taipei 101 on June 6th. With a record of 12 World Titles in five different games, Wendel is one of the most successful and recognized professional gamers in history. In recent years Wendel has declined to compete professionally and instead stay focused on promoting video gaming globally in his role as a Gaming Ambassador, while concentrating on his Fatal1ty Gaming Gear enterprise which includes the latest OCZ power supplies. In this special event, press, partners, and invited attendees can get a firsthand look at the latest OCZ Fatal1ty Gaming Series power supplies, along with viewing the live head-to-head shootout between these two gamers.
For client storage, OCZ will demo its upcoming Vector PCIe SSD featuring exceptional IOPS, high bandwidth, and high capacities ideal for power users, content creation, and workstation applications. Residing directly on the PCI Express bus, the new Vector PCIe Series provides lower latency to data, faster file transfers and boot-ups, expanded storage capacities, and an even quicker, more responsive experience over the already blazing fast SATA III-based Vector SSDs. In addition, OCZ will showcase its current consumer SSD lineup with the recently launched Vertex 450 SATA III SSD Series which has already earned numerous accolades and praise from the global media for its high performance coupled with the latest 20nm flash geometry for mainstream computing applications.
OCZ will also be displaying its complete portfolio of enterprise storage solutions including the SATA based Deneva 2, Talos 2 SAS drive, and Z-Drive R4 PCIe SSD Series, featuring the newest ZD-XL SQL Accelerator that represents the convergence of enterprise hardware and software as one tightly integrated, optimized solution, ensuring that appropriate and readily available data is on SSD flash when a SQL Server needs it.
Subject: Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2013 - 01:33 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, u21m, Intel, haswell, gigabyte, convertible tablet, computex 2013, computex
Gigabyte launched its U21M convertible tablet at Computex this week. The Windows 8 PC is an 11.6” convertible notebook that is 20mm thick and weights approximately 3.28 pounds (or 3.06 lbs without HDD). It is powered by an Intel Haswell CPU with HD4000 processor graphics and it runs the full x86-64 version of Windows 8.
The notebook features a black and slate gray colored chassis that has a brushed metal texture over the top of the keyboard deck and display bezel. Design wise, it is reminiscent of Dell's Latitude XT series with more curves. The U21M uses a similar center 180-degree hinge that allows the display to be rotated around and then laid flat against the keyboard to enable tablet mode. There are no face function buttons on the display bezel aside from the Windows key, however.
Gigabyte has made ample use of the 11.6” form factor by designing a keyboard that stretches from one side of the system to the other. The six-row keyboard looks to be well laid out with good spacing between the keys and no real key placement oddities. key travel may be an issue though as the keys are close to the metal, as it were. Below the keyboard is a large touchpad with hardware mouse buttons.
The display itself is an 11.6” capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 1366 x 768. There does not appear to be digitizer/stylus support on the U21M, however. Above the touchscreen is a 1.3MP webcam. It also features two 1.5W speakers.
External IO options include:
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 1 x VGA
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x RJ45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
- 2 x Audio
- 1 x SD
- 1 x SIM card slot
Internally, the U21M does not disappoint, with an Intel Haswell CPU, up to 8GB of DDR3 memory, and either a 128GB or 256GB mSATA SSD plus an optional mechanical hard drive up to 1TB. There is no discrete GPU, however. The system will rely on the Haswell CPU's processor graphics, though Gigabyte has not announced specific chips so the iGPU used is unknown. Wireless connectivity options include 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 + LE, and a built-in 3.5G radio. The system uses a respectable 7.4V, 40Wh Lithium-Polymer battery.
Gigabyte has not yet released pricing or availability dates, but you can find all the specifications along with additional photos on this product page.
My thought on this system is that it might be a good upgrade once my Dell Latitude XT finally dies on me (heh). It should definitely be faster and get much better battery life than my current convertible tablet, that's for sure! I'll be on the lookout for reviews, but what do you think about the U21M so far? If only it came in blue...