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Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 11, 2014 - 02:44 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Steam Machine, E3 14, E3, dell, alienware alpha, alienware
While "Steam Machines" are delayed, Alienware will still launch their console form-factor PC. The $550 price tag includes a black Xbox 360 wireless controller (with receiver) and Windows 8.1 64-bit. Alienware has also designed their own "Console-mode UI" for Windows 8.1, which can be navigated directly with a controller. It will ship Holiday 2014.
Apparently PC-based consoles equate to dubstep and parkour.
About the "Console-mode UI", it will apparently be what the user sees when the Alpha boots. The user can then select between Steam Big Picture, media, and programs. They also allow users to boot into the standard Windows 8.1 interface.
As for its specifications:
|Base Model ($550)||Upgrade Options|
|Processor||Haswell-based Intel Core i3||Core i5, Core i7 (user accessible)|
|GPU||"Custom" Maxwell-based, 2GB GDDR5
(see next paragraph)
|(none) (not user accessible, soldered on)|
|System Memory||4GB at 1600 MHz||8GB (user accessible)|
|HDD||500GB SATA3||1TB or 2TB (user accessible)|
|Wireless||Dual-band 802.11ac||(user accessible)|
The GPU is not specified, or even given a similar part to refer to. PC World claims that it will be comparable to the performance found on the two next-gen consoles. Since the 750 Ti has around 1.3 TeraFLOPs of performance, this GPU is probably near that, or slightly above it. PC Gamer says that it will be based on mobile Maxwell, so it might be similar to an current or upcoming laptop GPU.
One thing that has not been addressed is the HDMI-in port. We know that it supports passthrough for low latency, but we do not know what it will do with the input video. Alienware has several of these set up at their booth on the show floor, so we might hear more soon. While its specifications are a bit on the light side, particularly on the default amount of RAM (although that is easily and cheaply upgraded), its $550 price, which includes a wireless controller and its adapter, is also pretty good.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 9, 2014 - 11:31 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: E3, E3 14, GTA5, GTA Online
So my best guess is that Rockstar was waiting on the "next-gen" assets before they bothered releasing Grand Theft Auto V on the PC. The game will be released this fall, alongside Xbox One and PlayStation 4 ports. They do not mention distribution platforms, but Steam is a fairly safe assumption, at least now that Games for Windows has been given its final rest.
Hopefully, this delay in releasing a PC version will be a temporary hiccup due to the overlapping console generations. With Grand Theft Auto IV, the same could not be said. The problem is, with how secretive Rockstar is, we cannot really tell whether the above assumption is true, or whether they were just non-committal to the PC platform until now. At either rate, until the PC version is launched, Rockstar has not and will not get my money. Of course, there is always that danger that, by the time the game does launch, I will not be able to afford its time or expense.
That's why you should always release the PC version as early as possible.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 9, 2014 - 09:04 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: E3, E3 14, GOG, gog galaxy
Good Old Games (GOG), a subsidiary of CD Projekt RED, is releasing an online gaming manager similar to Steam and Origin. The difference is that everything about it is DRM-free and completely optional. Galaxy will manage game updates, provide achievements, and host communication between friends... if you want. If you don't? That's okay. Have fun.
Obviously, their most popular competitor is Valve. Steam has a history of being nice to their customers and erring on their side. GOG, historically, takes it to the consumer-friendly extreme. If it lives up to their statements, this is no exception. The hope seems to be just that people will remember GOG more often and have more happy customers.
Basically, most platforms are give-and-take. This is take what you want.
When will it launch? What will it look like? Who knows. We will get more news this year, which suggests that we will not get the software until at least next year. Hopefully they will take their time and get it right. I mean, it is not like they need to rush. It is not a mandatory DRM platform - it is not a DRM platform at all. I do expect they will try to target The Witcher 3's launch window (February 2015) for marketing purposes, though.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 9, 2014 - 02:10 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: shield tablet, shield, nvidia, E3 14, E3
The Tech Report had their screenshot-fu tested today with the brief lifespan of NVIDIA's SHIELD Tablet product page. As you can see, it is fairly empty. We know that it will have at least one bullet point of "Features" and that its name will be "SHIELD Tablet".
Image Credit: The Tech Report
Of course, being the first day of E3, it is easy to expect that such a device will be announced in the next couple of days. This is expected to be based on the Tegra K1 with 2GB of RAM and have a 2048x1536 touch display.
It does question what exactly is a "SHIELD", however. Apart from being a first-party device, how would they be any different from other TegraZone devices? We know that Half Life 2 and Portal have been ported to the SHIELD product line, exclusively, and will not be available on other Tegra-powered devices. Now that the SHIELD line is extending to tablets, I wonder how NVIDIA will handle this seemingly two-tier class of products (SHIELD vs Tegra OEM devices). It might even depend on how many design wins they achieve, along with their overall mobile market share.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 6, 2014 - 01:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: computex 2014
HP is courting mobile users with their Pro x2 series, a stylus enabled tablet with a keyboard dock containing extra outputs and a second battery in 1080p 12.5" and 11.6" 1366x768 flavours; the smaller model is already available already starting at $850. EVGA stepped up their game with the 1600W SuperNOVA PSU that comes with a 10 year warranty while Fractal Design was showing off refillable and expandable self contained watercoolers. You can also catch AData's new SSDs and Kingston's M.2 SSDs and even more over at The Tech Report.
"PC makers appear to be embracing the convertible tablet form factor with gusto at Computex 2014, and HP is no exception. Today, the company announced a pair of business-focused two-in-ones: the Pro x2 612 and Pro x2 410."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- COMPUTEX 2014: Intel unleashed the Beast OC Event @ Madshrimps
- HyperX again claims new DDR3 frequency WR at 2282.8MHz @ Madshrimps
- Devs get first look at next Visual Studio @ The Register
- 'NSA-proof' Protonet server crowdfunds $1m in under 90 minutes @ The Inquirer
- Chrome market share overtakes Internet Explorer for the first time @ The Inquirer
- FIGHT! Intel disputes ARM's claims of Android superiority @ The Register
- The Hovering, Holographic, Star Wars Display @ Hack a Day
- Win MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC, R9 290X Gaming GPU and LE Siberia V2 @ Kitguru
- Enter to win one of three Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE motherboards @ The Tech Report
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2014 - 07:37 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: computex, computex 2014, roccat, tyon
So this mouse has many buttons. It even has not-buttons. The ROCCAT Tyon has 31 user-customizable functions mapped over 16 buttons. The "Tyon Xcelerator", near its thumb buttons, is an analog switch designed for functions such as throttle or vertical movement. The "Dorsal Fin" is a switch that tilts left and right, like a tilt wheel, except that it also has a tilting mouse wheel.
I guess you can never have too many tilt functions.
Yo Cat, Heard You Like Buttons...
In short, ROCCAT has basically put as many functions on that mouse as they believe comfortable. Personally, I think the "Xcelerator" could be quite useful for games, like Battlefield: Bad Company 2 with its UAV, where you need to move in three dimensions and rotate in two dimensions, at the same time. That just leaves about 30 other functions to think about.
The ROCCAT Tyon is "coming soon" for 99.99 Euros (~$136 USD).
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2014 - 01:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: thermaltake, roccat, nzxt, gigabyte, computex 2014, asus
The Tech Report has been busy at Computex, visiting as many booths as they can in amongst the numerous vendors showing off their upcoming products. From ASUS we get another look at the ROG systems and a G-Sync monitor as several new motherboards. Both Thermaltake and Roccat have new peripherals to show off while NZXT is more focussed on cooling products. Gigabyte has taken advantage of the event to show how fast their limited edition Z97X-SOC Force LN2 can push DDR3, hitting 4.5GHz in a live demo! There is more coverage that that, as well as our own, so you can expect to be busy over the next few days.
"Earlier today at Computex, Asus let loose a veritable cornucopia of items under its Republic of Gamers brand. Among them: two stylish mini gaming desktops plus a 27" display outfitted with Nvidia's G-Sync technology."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Computex 2014 Gigabyte Suite Visit @ Hardware Asylum
- Computex 2014 In Win S-Frame @ Hardware Asylum
- Intel gives biz typoslabs their very own 14nm Core-M silicon @ The Register
- Kaveri Mobile APUs; AMD's FX Reincarnated @ Hardware Canucks
- A first look at AMD's Kaveri APU for notebooks @ The Tech Report
- Linux hit by GnuTLS exploit, follows Heartbleed model @ The Inquirer
- TSMC reportedly to tie up with Micron to develop 3D ICs @ DigiTimes
- PCIe hard drives? You read that right, says WD @ The Register
- Pittasoft BlackVue Sport SC500 Action Camera @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2014 - 03:37 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: computex, computex 2014, WD, ssd, pcie, SATA Express, hdd
SATA Express is an interface to either connect a hard drive to PCIe lanes, or up to two drives via SATA. Obviously, PCIe bandwidth over a cable connection is the real draw. To use the full speed, however, the drive needs to be able to communicate over PCIe. Currently, the standard uses two PCI Express 2.0 lanes (1 GB/s).
Now that Z97 and H97 have launched, WD is set to show off the technology at Computex. The above image is apparently of a dual-drive product, containing 4TB of rotating media and 128GB of SSD memory. I am immediately reminded of the Western Digital Black2 dual drive which Allyn reviewed last November. That product crammed a 120GB SSD into a 2.5" 1TB HDD, which appeared to the system as two separate drives. The drive has "Technology Demonstration" written in red font right on it, but it could be a good representation of what the company is thinking about.
WD also asserts that their prototype uses standard AHCI drivers, for OS compatibility.
If you want to see this product in action, then -- well -- you kind-of need to be at Computex. At some point, you might be able to see it in your own PC. When? How much? No pricing and availability, again, because it is a tech demo.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2014 - 12:46 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ROG, gaming pc, computex 2014, computex, asus
Gaming PCs are often misunderstood. Many of our viewers will probably build their own from their personal selection of parts. If you would like to have someone else handle it, then an oft dismissed option is going through a system builder. If you find an option that is in your budget and has the performance you desire, then it is perfectly acceptable to buy it.
ASUS has just announced two offerings, branded Republic of Gamers (ROG), for you to consider.
The ROG G20 Gaming Desktop can be customized with options which range up to an Intel Core i7 with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780. It is designed to be quiet, with expected noise at around 23-25 dbA (it is unclear whether this is measured idle or under load). While it has two fans, it also uses "natural convection" cooling, a process which uses the excess heat to make hot air rise, which is replaced by cool air that cools the components.
Yup, the PC cools itself with the air motion caused by its own heat.
After customizations, the ROG G20 Gaming Desktop is expected to retail for $800-$1700, depending on what options the user selects, and be available in late Q3, for North Americans.
The other PC is the ROG GR8 Gaming Desktop. This device will include an Intel Core i7 and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti. Despite its form factor, a side panel allows user access to RAM and storage. It has Gigabit Ethernet and built-in 802.11ac wireless. While it obviously has HDMI outputs, it also includes DisplayPort.
ASUS does not currently have an expected price range, but it will also be available Q3, for North Americans.
Subject: General Tech, Displays, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2014 - 03:27 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: XB280HK, g-sync, computex 2014, computex, acer, 4k
Speaking of G-Sync monitors, Acer has announced a 4K monitor ahead of Computex with NVIDIA's adaptive refresh rate technology. While they do not ever say that it is 60Hz, I believe that it is. It also seems to be based on a TN panel. It, being G-Sync, connects with DisplayPort 1.2 and also includes four USB 3.0 ports. It, however, does not seem to support the competing AMD's FreeSync, integrated into VESA's DisplayPort 1.2a standard.
We do not currently have an image of the monitor
4K could be where we really start seeing benefits for G-Sync. At that resolution, it is very difficult to get a system, regardless of how many GPUs are inside it, which can play the most modern of games without dipping below 60 FPS. Once you miss your 16.67 millisecond window, your game starts hitching between images living 33.33ms and 16.67ms, when each frame is supposed to be presented at a constant rate.
As for pricing and availability: Q2 (early May to end of July). That's all we know.
For more Computex 2014 coverage, please check out our feed!
Subject: General Tech, Displays, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2014 - 02:28 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: g-sync, displays, display, computex 2014, computex, asus, 2560x1440, 144hz, 1440p
NVIDIA's G-Sync allows video cards to time the refresh rate of monitors. This is an advantage because the GPU knows when a frame is actually ready to be displayed to the user. The initial batch of announcements were each 1080p monitors, which are least likely to dip down into the 30-60Hz gap where G-Sync is noticeable.
Today at Computex, ASUS has announced a 27", 2560x1440, 144Hz G-Sync display. This higher resolution is starting to reach the point where faster graphics cards struggle to maintain 60 FPS. Not only that, but it is one of the first 1440p panels that you can get which supports high (over 100Hz) refresh rates, officially. Others exist, but "rare" is an understatement.
Its response rate is 1ms (GTG) which, unfortunately, suggests a TN panel. This might be a deal-breaker for some, but if you are looking for a G-Sync, 1440p, and high refresh rate panel, then it might be an acceptable compromise.
The ASUS PG278Q is available in Q2, which ASUS seems to define as the beginning of May to the end of July, for $799 USD. Unfortunately for AMD fans, the panel does not seem to support FreeSync, recently added to DisplayPort 1.2a. FreeSync, of course, is the competitor to G-Sync that AMD proposed to the VESA standards body.
For more Computex 2014 coverage, please check out our feed!
Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2014 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: usb 3.0, thumb drive, ssd, flash drive, corsair, computex 2014, computex
The Flash Voyager GTX is Corsair's attempt to be an SSD over USB 3.0. Differentiating itself from a standard USB flash drive, the Voyager GTX includes TRIM support, S.M.A.R.T. monitoring, and interfaces with USB Attached SCSI. It also comes in two, SSD-sized capacities, 128GB ($119.99) and 256GB ($199.99). These drives are rated at 450MB/s read and 350MB/s write.
This pricing structure puts the Voyager GTX against the Samsung 840 Pro, which is an interesting comparison to make. Both drives are backed by a five (5) year warranty and, while the 840 Pro has higher read bandwidth, the write speeds are fairly comparable. IOPS and write durability is not listed for the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX but, even if they are marginally behind, this has the advantage of USB.
Benchmarking should be interesting for this. I would be curious if this could lead to portable OS installations and abrupt boosts to Steam library sizes, both with SSD-like speeds.
The Corsair Flash Voyager GTX USB 3.0 drives will be available in July. The 128GB version has an MSRP of $119.99, while the 256GB is listed at $199.99.
For more Computex 2014 coverage, please check out our feed!
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2014 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: computex, Computer 2014
Cherry MX RGB key switches were teased since December but not yet made into a product. They generated interest by integrating red, green, and blue LEDs that, together, are capable of glowing any one of 16 million colors. Each key can even glow its own color and brightness independently, allowing users to color certain zones, with animation, if desired. Corsair had a year of exclusivity over this switch with their line of keyboards which they have done nothing with, so far.
Today, they announce that MX RGB switches will be available in four models:
- K70 RGB Red, available in late July ($169.99 MSRP)
- K70 RGB Blue, available in late August ($169.99 MSRP)
- K70 RGB Brown, available in late August ($169.99 MSRP)
- K95 RGB Red, available in late August ($189.99 MSRP)
If you happen to have wanted Cherry MX Blue or Brown, you will be looking at the K70 because the K95 RGB will only be available in Cherry MX RGB Red. Of course, that could change in future announcements but, even still, the main difference is the 18 macro keys. Honestly, though I have had several keyboards which offer these, I have never used mine. Then again, I also do not play MMOs or MOBAs so judge for yourself whether the extra keys are deal breakers.
Corsair Vengeance K95 RGB
As usual, Corsair puts a lot of thought into their keyboards. Each one is based on an NKRO matrix which provides "100% anti-ghosting" (rant: more precisely, the keyboard is built well enough that it physically cannot ghost to require anti-ghosting). Even their first generation design aced my grueling test, where I spam the equivalent of several hundred words per minute as input and compare it to what the keyboard believes.
Corsair Vengeance K70 RGB
Also announced, the M65 RGB Gaming Mouse. RGB LED lighting on a mouse is not as novel, but it will match your keyboard. That will be available late August for $69.99 MSRP.
All devices will come with a two (2) year warranty, which definitely gives confidence to someone considering peripherals in this price point.
For more Computex 2014 coverage, please check out our feed!
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | April 8, 2014 - 07:07 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: thunderbolt, NAB 14, NAB, Elgato
Hmm, this is more Thunderbolt than I think we heard all year. Is there like, a video production event going on right now? No matter, because news is news (and so are product announcements). The Elgato Thunderbolt Dock connects to Thunderbolt, go figure, and provides three USB 3.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, one HDMI 1.4 output, one 3.5mm headphone jack, and one 3.5mm microphone jack. It also has a second Thunderbolt port to daisy chain with other devices, which is a common trait in Thunderbolt devices. It will retail for $229.95.
Yup, it is a Thunderbolt accessory.
Why does it seem like every Mac user in commercials have a studio apartment???
It makes sense to see devices like this. Thunderbolt is really an extension of PCIe which allows anything that was once an add-in board to be connected externally, albeit with significantly reduced bandwidth compared to PCIe 3.0 16x. This looks very clean, tidy, and much more desirable than crawling under the desk and swapping wires and thumb drives in the darkness behind your PC.
I would like to see some benchmarks on this device, however. Clearly, the sum of these outputs should be higher than the bandwidth allowed by Thunderbolt (especially if daisy-chaining another Thunderbolt device). I wonder how efficient it will be at keeping high quality signals when several devices are connected and running simultaneously.
The Elgato Thunderbolt Dock is available now for computers with a Thunderbolt port and either Mac OSX 10.9 or Windows 8.1. I guess us Windows 7 fans need to get used to the dust bunnies behind our PCs for a little longer...
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Shows and Expos | April 8, 2014 - 03:43 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, NAB, NAB 14, iris pro, Adobe, premiere pro, Adobe CC
When Adobe started to GPU-accelerate their applications beyond OpenGL, it started with NVIDIA and its CUDA platform. After some period of time, they started to integrate OpenCL support and bring AMD into the fold. At first, it was limited to a couple of Apple laptops but has since expanded to include several GPUs on both OSX and Windows. Since then, Adobe switched to a subscription-based release system and has published updates on a more rapid schedule. The next update of Adobe Premiere Pro CC will bring OpenCL to Intel Iris Pro iGPUs.
Of course, they specifically mentioned Adobe Premiere Pro CC which suggests that Photoshop CC users might be coming later. The press release does suggest that the update will affect both Mac and Windows versions of Adobe Premiere Pro CC, however, so at least platforms will not be divided. Well, that is, if you find a Windows machine with Iris Pro graphics. They do exist...
A release date has not been announced for this software upgrade.
Subject: General Tech, Networking, Systems, Shows and Expos | April 8, 2014 - 03:26 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: NAB, NAB 14, Thunderbolt 2, thunderbolt
Video professionals are still interested in Thunderbolt in probably much the same way as Firewire needed to be pried from their cold, dead hands. It is a very high bandwidth connector, useful for sending and receiving 4K video. Also, it was originally exclusive to Apple so you can guess which industries were first-adopters. Intel has focused their Thunderbolt announcements on the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show. This year, Thunderbolt Networking will be available for Windows via a driver. This will allow any combination of Macs and Windows PCs to be paired together by a 10 Gigabit network.
Of course, this is not going to be something that you can plug into a router. This is a point-to-point network for sharing files between two devices... really fast. Perhaps one use case would be a workstation with a Mac and a Windows PC on a KVM switch. If both are connected with Thunderbolt 2, they could share the same storage pool.
While this feature already exists on Apple devices, the PC driver will be available... "soon".
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | April 8, 2014 - 01:11 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: BUILD 2014, microsoft, windows, winRT
A few days ago, I reported on the news from BUILD 2014 that Windows would see the return of the Start Menu and windowed apps. These features, which are not included with today's Windows 8.1 Update 1, will come in a later version. While I found these interface changes interesting, I reiterated that the user interface was not my concern: Windows Store certification was. I did leave room for a little hope, however, because Microsoft scheduled an announcement of changes. It was focused on enterprise customers, so I did not hold my breath.
And some things did change... but not enough for the non-enterprise user.
Microsoft is still hanging on to the curation of apps, except for "domain-joined" x86 Enterprise and x86 Pro PCs; RT devices and "not domain-joined" computers will only allow sideloaded apps with a key. This certificate (key) is not free for everyone. Of course, this does not have anything to do with native x86 applications. Thankfully, the prospect of WinRT APIs eventually replacing Win32, completely, seems less likely now. It could still be possible if Windows Store has a major surge in popularity but, as it stands right now, Microsoft seems to be spending less effort containing x86 for an eventual lobotomy.
If it does happen, it would be a concern for a variety of reasons:
Governments, foreign or domestic, who pressure Microsoft to ban encryption software.
Internet Explorer's Trident would have no competition to adopt new web standards.
Cannot create an app for just a friend or family member (unless it's a web app in IE).
When you build censorship, the crazies will come with demands to abuse it.
So I am still concerned about the future of Windows. I am still not willing to believe that Microsoft will support x86-exclusive applications until the end of time. If that happens, and sideloading is not publicly available, and web standards are forced into stagnation by a lack of alternative web browsers, then I can see bad times ahead. I will not really feel comfortable until a definitive pledge to allow users to control what can go on their device, even if Microsoft (or people with some form of authority over them) dislikes it, is made.
But I know that many disagree with me. What are your thoughts? Comment away!
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | April 4, 2014 - 03:42 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: BUILD 2014, microsoft, .net
.NET has been very popular since its initial release. I saw it used frequently in applications, particularly when a simple form-like interface is required. It was easy to develop and accessible from several languages, such as C++, C#, and VB.NET. Enterprise application developers were particularly interested in it, especially with its managed security.
The framework drove an open source movement to write their own version, Mono, spearheaded by Novell. Some time later, the company Xamarin was created from the original Mono development team and maintains the project to this day. In fact, Miguel de Icaza was at Build 2014 discussing the initiative. He seems content with Microsoft's new Roslyn compiler and the working relationship between the two companies as a whole.
WinJS is released under the very permissive Apache 2.0 license. Other code, such as Windows Phone Toolkit, are released under other licenses, such as the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL). Pay attention to any given project's license. It would not be wise to assume. Still, it sounds like a good step.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | April 2, 2014 - 09:53 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: BUILD 2014, microsoft, windows, start menu
Microsoft had numerous announcements during their Build 2014 opening keynote, which makes sense as they needed to fill the three hours that they assigned for it. In this post, I will focus on the upcoming changes to the Windows desktop experience. Two, albeit related, features were highlighted: the ability to run Modern Apps in a desktop window, and the corresponding return of the Start Menu.
I must say, the way that they grafted Start Screen tiles on the Start Menu is pretty slick. The Start Menu, since Windows Vista, has felt awkward with its split between recently used applications and common shortcuts in a breakout on the right with an expanded "All Programs" submenu handle on the bottom. It is functional, and it works perfectly fine, but something just felt weird about it. This looks a lot cleaner, in my opinion, especially since its width is variable according to how many applications are pinned.
Of course, my major complaint with Windows 8.x has nothing to do with the interface. There has not been any discussion around sideloading applications to get around Windows Store certification requirements. This is a major concern for browser vendors and should be one for many others, from hobbyists who might want to share their creations with one or two friends or family members, rather than everyone in an entire Windows Store region, or citizens of countries whose governments might pressure Microsoft to ban encryption or security applications.
That said, there is a session tomorrow called "Deploying and Managing Enterprise Apps", discussing changes app sideloading in Windows 8.1. Enterprise users are already allowed sideloading certificates from Microsoft. Maybe it will be expanded? I am not holding my breath.
Keep an eye out, because there should be a lot of news over the next couple of days.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Shows and Expos | March 30, 2014 - 01:45 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: gdc 14, GDC, GCN, amd
While Mantle and DirectX 12 are designed to reduce overhead and keep GPUs loaded, the conversation shifts when you are limited by shader throughput. Modern graphics processors are dominated by sometimes thousands of compute cores. Video drivers are complex packages of software. One of their many tasks is converting your scripts, known as shaders, into machine code for its hardware. If this machine code is efficient, it could mean drastically higher frame rates, especially at extreme resolutions and intense quality settings.
Emil Persson of Avalanche Studios, probably known best for the Just Cause franchise, published his slides and speech on optimizing shaders. His talk focuses on AMD's GCN architecture, due to its existence in both console and PC, while bringing up older GPUs for examples. Yes, he has many snippets of GPU assembly code.
AMD's GCN architecture is actually quite interesting, especially dissected as it was in the presentation. It is simpler than its ancestors and much more CPU-like, with resources mapped to memory (and caches of said memory) rather than "slots" (although drivers and APIs often pretend those relics still exist) and with how vectors are mostly treated as collections of scalars, and so forth. Tricks which attempt to combine instructions together into vectors, such as using dot products, can just put irrelevant restrictions on the compiler and optimizer... as it breaks down those vector operations into those very same component-by-component ops that you thought you were avoiding.
Basically, and it makes sense coming from GDC, this talk rarely glosses over points. It goes over execution speed of one individual op compared to another, at various precisions, and which to avoid (protip: integer divide). Also, fused multiply-add is awesome.
I know I learned.
As a final note, this returns to the discussions we had prior to the launch of the next generation consoles. Developers are learning how to make their shader code much more efficient on GCN and that could easily translate to leading PC titles. Especially with DirectX 12 and Mantle, which lightens the CPU-based bottlenecks, learning how to do more work per FLOP addresses the other side. Everyone was looking at Mantle as AMD's play for success through harnessing console mindshare (and in terms of Intel vs AMD, it might help). But honestly, I believe that it will be trends like this presentation which prove more significant... even if behind-the-scenes. Of course developers were always having these discussions, but now console developers will probably be talking about only one architecture - that is a lot of people talking about very few things.
This is not really reducing overhead; this is teaching people how to do more work with less, especially in situations (high resolutions with complex shaders) where the GPU is most relevant.