In memory of Kernal_Tom

Subject: General Tech | June 23, 2014 - 02:53 PM |
Tagged: in memorium, fragging frogs

It was a sad day for the Fragging Frogs last Monday (6/16/14) when we lost one of our own, Kernal_Tom, known in the forums as tlemaste. He passed away due to complications from surgery to address his ongoing health issues.  He joined the PC Perspective Forums and the Fragging Frogs over 12 years ago after running into Lenny at his day job.  They became fast friends immediately and Kernal_Tom's great personality and positive attitude ensured he quickly became good friends with all the regular Fragging Frogs as well ... indeed he didn't give you much choice as he was one of the most frequent participants in Teamspeak and gaming nights.

lVtQ2zM.jpg

Anyone who knew him and has not yet done so can leave their remembrances and well wishes for Kernal_Tom's wife in this thread in the Forums.  This loss has hit many of us and sharing your memories can be helpful and is very appreciated.  Anyone who wishes to help out his wife please donate to this fundraiser which Lenny has kindly started on YouCaring.  Carol is also unfortunately in a battle to maintain her health and anything you can afford would help her greatly in this next stage of her life. 

Show how much you miss Kernal_Tom and remember him the way he would want you to... by showing up at least once a week to game with a Fragging Frog!

Kernal_Tom.png

Modular 'flat pack' PSUs from Cooler Master

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 23, 2014 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: PSU, cooler master, Cooler Master V Series, 80 Plus Platinum, 80 Plus Gold, modular psu, 850W, kilowatt, 1200w

The three stars of the Cooler Master V Series, the 850W, 1000W and 1200W are up for review at Legion Hardware.  All three have a 135 mm fan for cooling and feature a single +12VDC rail though the amperage differs, 70A, 83A and 100A for the three respectively.  The two lower powered PSUs feature a 5 year warranty and are rated 80 Plus Gold while the 1200W carries a Platinum rating and a 7 year warranty.  The modular cabling is worth mentioning, it is flat which will allow you to have very clean cabling in your machine and may tip the scales towards this series if you like to keep your case clean looking. 

Image_05S.jpg

"Finally, we have been very pleased with the Cooler Master V series, and believe that they would make a fine addition to any high-end gaming system. Enthusiasts will be able to invest their hard earned cash in a V Series power supply knowing it is backed by a full 5-year Cooler Master warranty, while the V1200 Platinum offers an industry leading 7 year warranty."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

The renewed FX-9590, still up to 5GHz

Subject: Processors | June 23, 2014 - 01:05 PM |
Tagged: amd, fx 9590, vishera

Hardware Canucks have just let out AMD's secret on a new take on a Vishera processor, the FX-9590 which will come with a Cooler Master Seidon 120 AIO LCS which will add $40 to the original $320 price tag.  The base clock of the 8 CPUs will still be 4.7GHz, 5GHz boost buit with the TDP of 219W the watercooler should allow the boost clock to be maintained longer.  If you ever planned on overclocking the FX-9590 but never picked it up because of the challenge of cooling it, then here is your chance.

FX-9590-1234.jpg

"It all started with a tweet. AMD teased an unnamed new FX-series chip on Twitter and we've got the inside track. It's a refreshed 5GHz FX-9590 with an included water cooling unit."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Some good news on competition for a change; SSDs may be getting cheaper

Subject: General Tech | June 23, 2014 - 10:38 AM |
Tagged: ssd, kingston, Samsung, Intel, sandisk, rumour

If the information provided to DigiTimes is correct we may be in for a price war between SSD manufacturers.  We have seen price drops in flash memory, especially with the advent of TLC and asynchronous flash which have been heartily approved by most enthusiasts.  However there is a chance that in the coming months competition will start driving prices of SSDs down but may have the opposite impact on other products.  Micron is planning on reducing the amount of memory it sells to other companies in order to ramp up its stock of SSDs and SanDisk has jumped into the market with both feet.  You can also expect to see all the major manufacturers start putting out more M.2 drives as adoption of Intel's Z97 board grows.

pricesfalling.jpg

"The SSD industry is heading for fierce price competition as major suppliers, including Micron Technology, Intel, Kingston Technology, SanDisk and Samsung Electronics, are gearing up efforts to outperform others, according to industry sources."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Qualcomm Focuses on Android Gaming, Snapdragon Benefits to Gamers, Developers

Subject: Processors, Mobile | June 23, 2014 - 10:08 AM |
Tagged: snapdragon, qualcomm, gaming, Android, adreno

Today Qualcomm has published a 22-page white paper that keys in on the company's focus around Android gaming and the benefits that Qualcomm SoCs offer. As the dominant SoC vendor in the Android ecosystem of smartphones, tablets and handhelds (shipping more than 32% in Q2 of 2013) QC is able to offer a unique combination of solutions to both developers and gamers that push Android gaming into higher fidelity with more robust game play.

According to the white paper, Android gaming is the fastest growing segment of the gaming market with a 30% compound annual growth rate from 2013 to 2015, as projected by Gartner. Experiences for mobile games have drastically improved since Android was released in 2008 with developers like Epic Games and the Unreal Engine pushing visuals to near-console and near-PC qualities. 

qcgaming1.jpg

Qualcomm is taking a heterogeneous approach to address the requirements of gaming that include AI execution, physics simulation, animation, low latency input and high speed network connectivity in addition to high quality graphics and 3D rendering. Though not directly a part of the HSA standards still in development, the many specialized engines that Qualcomm has developed for its Snapdragon SoC processors including traditional CPUs, GPUs, DSPs, security and connectivity allow the company to create a solution that is built for Android gaming dominance.

qcgaming2.jpg

In the white paper Qualcomm dives into the advantages that the Krait CPU architecture offers for CPU-based tasks as well as the power of the Adreno 4x series of GPUs that offer both raw performance and the flexibility to support current and future gaming APIs. All of this is done with single-digit wattage draw and a passive, fanless design and points to the huge undertaking that mobile gaming requires from an engineering and implementation perspective.

qcgaming3.jpg

For developers, the ability to target Snapdragon architectures with a single code path that can address a scalable product stack allows for the least amount of development time and the most return on investment possible. Qualcomm continues to support the development community with tools and assistance to bring out the peak performance of Krait and Adreno to get games running on lower power parts as well as the latest and upcoming generations of SoCs in flagship devices.

It is great to see Qualcomm focus on this aspect of the mobile market and the challenges presented by it require strong dedication from these engineering teams. Being able to create compelling gaming experiences with high quality imagery while maintaining the required power envelope is a task that many other company's have struggled with. 

Check out the new landing page over at Qualcomm if you are interested in more technical information as well as direct access to the white paper detailing the work Qualcomm is putting into its Snapdragon line of SoC for gamers.

Source: Qualcomm

Gaming Evolves, a new and improved Raptr App is here

Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2014 - 12:01 PM |
Tagged: raptr, gaming evolved, Game DVR, amd

AMD's Gaming Evolved app powered by Raptr has just undergone some changes that focus on those who like to show off their gaming skills and tricks with others.  Updates to their H.264 support now allow you to stream your gaming to Twich with no impact on your performance.  They've also added Game DVR which automatically records the past 10 minutes of your game play, guaranteeing you can save your best moments even if you forgot to start the recording manually. 

amd-raptr.jpg

The interface has also undergone an overhaul to make it even easier to use the auto-configuration features in the Gaming Evolved app to optimize your games graphical settings to ensure you get the best looking game your AMD hardware can give you without compromising your performance.  Currently there is a list of 204 supported games and the list is growing constantly.  They still make it easy to install and play Free To Play games such as World of Tanks and there is currently a sale on in the Rewards section where you can spend your accumulated RPs on top games.  Since you get 500 points simply for signing up and they stack up while you play games it is a great way to get your hands on new games without spending a dime!

gaming_evolved.jpg

Source: Raptr

It is slim but not that quiet; BeQuiet's Shadow Rock Slim

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 20, 2014 - 11:42 AM |
Tagged: bequiet!, Shadow Rock Slim, air cooling

For those who's cases are small and CPU sockets are crowded the enormous dual fan 1kg heatsinks you commonly see are not an option.  BeQuiet has a smaller cooler called the Shadow Rock Slim which is a much better choice.  As the name implies it is quite slim and so should not interfere with your RAM's heatspreaders and the 159mm (6.25") height means it can fit in a wide range of cases.  Even with it's small size the tests that FrostyTech performed show it performs quite well at stock fan speeds, though they do not recommend running it a lower speeds on hot processors as the performance simply changes too much.

bqshadowrs_side2.jpg

"BeQuiet's Shadow Rock Slim heatsink stands 159mm tall and has a footprint of 130x74mm so it will fit most motherboards where space between the memory slots and videocard is on the tight side. The Shadow Rock Slim heatsink weighs 730 grams and is constructed around four 6mm diameter copper heatpipes onto which are swaged raw aluminum cooling fins."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: FrostyTech

Origin wants to know if you will love them now

Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2014 - 11:03 AM |
Tagged: origin, titanfall, free

[H]ard|OCP spotted a brand new feature on Origin called Game Time, which allows you to play a full version of a game for a limited time.  They are launching this feature with 48 hours of Titanfall, if you plan on playing make sure to clean up your drive as it is almost 50GB.  The clock starts to tick from the moment you first launch the game; from that point you have 2 days of access whether you play or not.  This is perhaps a little better than Steam free weekends for those with slow connections as your download time doesn't count against you.  Hop on for some Titan on Pilot action this weekend as The Fragging Frogs are likely to take advantage of this

Titanfall_blog_header_580x201.jpg

"It’s Game Time! This is a brand new program on Origin: it’s free time with full games. Origin Game Time isn’t a demo, it’s the full game playable for free for as long as there’s time on your Game Time clock. And we’re kicking off Origin Game Time with a truly massive experience: Titanfall on PC."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: [H]ard|OCP

SilverStone Announces the Raven RV05 Case - The Dark Knight Returns

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 19, 2014 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: Silverstone, raven rv05, raven, enclosure, cases, atx case

SilverStone’s Raven series, what I would describe as the “Batmobile” of PC enclosures, has graduated from the Tim Burton-like approach of the RV01, to a little more of a Chris Nolan-reboot feel with its fifth incarnation. Announced today, the RV05 is a sharply angled matte black design sure to strike fear in the hearts of villains everywhere.

rv05b-34right.jpg

In the same move SilverStone is making with the upcoming Fortress series revision, the new Raven eliminates the 5.25" bays from the prior iterations and the result is a much smaller size overall.

rv05b-w-side-right.jpg

Still utilizing the trademark inverted layout of the series, the RV05 includes two of their 180mm "Air Penetrator" fans at the bottom of the case to force warm air upwards and across components. The case also offers support for various watercooling radiators along the bottom in place of the included 180mm fans (up to 120mm x3 or 140mm x2), and 120mm support on the top.

The case retains the full ATX form factor with the new smaller footprint, which is listed as 242mm W x 529mm H x 498mm D - or 9.52” x 20.83” x 19.60” if you aren’t on the metric system.

rv05b-w-34left.jpg

The SilverStone Raven RV05 will be available next month and will be offered in two versions, the SST-RV05B (black) and SST-RV05B-W (black + window).

Source: SilverStone

Gigabyte's torture tested Black Edition Z97X-Gaming G1 WiFi-BK

Subject: Motherboards | June 19, 2014 - 01:45 PM |
Tagged: Z97X-Gaming G1 WiFi-BK, z97, Ultra Durable BLACK EDITION, lga 1150, gigabyte

The Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming G1 WiFi-BK is serious about PCIe slots, the four 16x slots can all run simultaneously at 8x speeds which is fairly rare for a Z97 board and is due to the presence of a PLX PEX8747 chip.  Gigabyte also provided some serious onboard audio with an OP-AMP socket to go with their EMI shielded Sound Core3D chip and a pair of low noise "DAC-UP" USB ports for high end headphones.  [H]ard|OCP's review also brings up two points about this board, the aesthetic similarities to the ASUS ROG boards and the 168 hour/7 day stress test done to every single Black Edition board before it is packaged and sold.  If you are in the market for a $380 motherboard then this review is a must read.

We are kind enough here to assume you have already memorized Morry's review.

1400883452S3u2Wsbwn7_1_13_l.jpg

"GIGABYTE has come to market with a great execution of concept that is shrouded by me-too branding. The Ultra Durable BLACK EDITION motherboards are tested to work before you purchase, and not only that, these motherboards are load tested to work for a full week before you ever open the box."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Now on Amazon: 1TB Samsung 840 EVO SSD for $399, ASUS PB287Q 4K for $649

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Storage | June 19, 2014 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, ssd, 840 evo, 1TB, amazon, pb287q, asus, 4k

A couple of really nice Amazon picks hit my email box today and I thought they were worth posting for our readers as well.

samsung840evo.jpg

1TB Samsung 840 EVO for $399

First, and clearly the most exciting: the 1TB version of the Samsung 840 EVO SSD is now selling for just $399. That comes in at $0.399/GB, which is actually better than the cost per GB of the Crucial MX100 that launched this month. If you haven't picked up an SSD that is big enough to hold all your games, this is the perfect opportunity!

asuspb287q.jpg

ASUS PB287Q 4K 28-in monitor for $649

Also, after our review went up at the end of May, the 4K ASUS PB287Q 28-in monitor is finally up for sale on Amazon for $649 with a shipping date of July 1st. If you think you might be interested in the universe of gaming at 4K, now is a great time to jump in.

Thanks for supporting PC Perspective!

Podcast #305 with Guest David Hewlett - Richard Huddy Interview, Seagate 4TB SSHD, SSD Endurance and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2014 - 10:20 AM |
Tagged: watch dogs, video, steamboy, sshd, richard huddy, podcast, openworks, game works, g1 sniper a88x, fusion io, David Hewlett, amd, 4TB

PC Perspective Podcast #305 - 06/19/2014

Special guest David Hewlett joins us this week to discuss our interview with AMD's Richard Huddy, the Seagate 4TB SSHD, SSD Endurance 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Maleventano and David Hewlett

Program length: 1:31:16

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

You got your FPGA in my Xeon!

Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2014 - 10:19 AM |
Tagged: xeon, Intel, FPGA

Intel has just revealed what The Register is aptly referring to as the FrankenChip, a hybrid Xeon E5 and FPGA chip.  This will allow large companies to access the power of a Xeon and be able to offload some work onto an FPGA they can program and optimize themselves.  The low power FPGA is actually on the chip, as opposed to Microsoft's recent implementation which saw FPGA's added to PCIe slots.  Intel's solution does not use up a slot and also offers direct access to the Xeon cache hierarchy and system memory via QPI which will allow for increased performance.  Another low power shot has been fired at ARM's attempts to grow their share of the server market but we shall see if the inherent complexity of programming an FPGA to work with an x86 is more or less attractive than switching to ARM.

intel-inside-logo-370x290.jpg

"Intel has expanded its chip customization business to help it take on the hazy threat posed by some of the world's biggest clouds adopting low-power ARM processors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

AMD Planning Open Source GameWorks Competitor, Mantle for Linux

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 19, 2014 - 07:35 AM |
Tagged: video, richard huddy, radeon, openworks, Mantle, freesync, amd

On Tuesday, AMD's newly minted Gaming Scientist, Richard Huddy, stopped by the PC Perspective office to talk about the current state of the company's graphics division. The entire video of the interview is embedded below but several of the points that are made are quite interesting and newsworthy. During the discussion we hear about Mantle on Linux, a timeline for Mantle being opened publicly as well as a surprising new idea for a competitor to NVIDIA's GameWorks program.

Richard is new to the company but not new to the industry, starting with 3DLabs many years ago and taking jobs at NVIDIA, ATI, Intel and now returning to AMD. The role of Gaming Scientist is to directly interface with the software developers for gaming and make sure that the GPU hardware designers are working hand in hand with future, high end graphics technology. In essence, Huddy's job is to make sure AMD continues to innovate on the hardware side to facilitate innovation on the software side.

AMD Planning an "OpenWorks" Program

(33:00) After the volume of discussion surrounding the NVIDIA GameWorks program and its potential to harm the gaming ecosystem by not providing source code in an open manner, Huddy believes that the answer to problem is to simply have NVIDIA release the SDK with source code publicly. Whether or not NVIDIA takes that advice has yet to be seen, but if they don't, it appears that AMD is going down the road of creating its own competing solution that is open and flexible.

The idea of OpenFX or OpenWorks as Huddy refers to it is to create an open source repository for gaming code and effects examples that can be updated, modified and improved upon by anyone in the industry. AMD would be willing to start the initiative by donating its entire SDK to the platform and then invite other software developers, as well as other hardware developers, to add or change to the collection. The idea is to create a competitor to what GameWorks accomplishes but in a license free and open way.

gameworks.jpg

NVIDIA GameWorks has been successful; can AMD OpenWorks derail it?

Essentially the "OpenWorks" repository would work in a similar way to a Linux group where the public has access to the code to submit changes that can be implemented by anyone else. Someone would be able to improve the performance for specific hardware easily but if performance was degraded on any other hardware then it could be easily changed and updated. Huddy believes this is how you move the industry forward and how you ensure that the gamer is getting the best overall experience regardless of the specific platform they are using.

"OpenWorks" is still in the planning stages and AMD is only officially "talking about it" internally. However, bringing Huddy back to AMD wasn't done without some direction already in mind and it would not surprise me at all if this was essentially a done deal. Huddy believes that other hardware companies like Qualcomm and Intel would participate in such an open system but the real question is whether or not NVIDIA, as the discrete GPU market share leader, would be in any way willing to do as well.

Still, this initiative continues to show the differences between the NVIDIA and AMD style of doing things. NVIDIA prefers a more closed system that it has full control over to perfect the experience, to hit aggressive timelines and to improve the ecosystem as they see it. AMD wants to provide an open system that everyone can participate in and benefit from but often is held back by the inconsistent speed of the community and partners. 

Mantle to be Opened by end of 2014, Potentially Coming to Linux

(7:40) The AMD Mantle API has been an industry changing product, I don't think anyone can deny that. Even if you don't own AMD hardware or don't play any of the games currently shipping with Mantle support, the re-focusing on a higher efficiency API has impacted NVIDIA's direction with DX11, Microsoft's plans for DX12 and perhaps even Apple's direction with Metal. But for a company that pushes the idea of open standards so heavily, AMD has yet to offer up Mantle source code in a similar fashion to its standard SDK. As it stands right now, Mantle is only given to a group of software developers in the beta program and is specifically tuned for AMD's GCN graphics hardware.

mantlepic.jpg

Huddy reiterated that AMD has made a commitment to release a public SDK for Mantle by the end of 2014 which would allow any other hardware vendor to create a driver that could run Mantle game titles. If AMD lives up to its word and releases the full source code for it, then in theory, NVIDIA could offer support for Mantle games on GeForce hardware, Intel could offer support those same games on Intel HD graphics. There will be no license fees, no restrictions at all.

The obvious question is whether or not any other IHV would choose to do so. Both because of competitive reasons and with the proximity of DX12's release in late 2015. Huddy agrees with me that the pride of these other hardware vendors may prevent them from considering Mantle adoption though the argument can be made that the work required to implement it properly might not be worth the effort with DX12 (and its very similar feature set) around the corner.

(51:45) When asked about AMD input on SteamOS and its commitment to the gamers that see that as the future, Huddy mentioned that AMD was considering, but not promising, bringing the Mantle API to Linux. If the opportunity exists, says Huddy, to give the gamer a better experience on that platform with the help of Mantle, and developers ask for the support for AMD, then AMD will at the very least "listen to that." It would incredibly interesting to see a competitor API in the landscape of Linux where OpenGL is essentially the only game in town. 

AMD FreeSync / Adaptive Sync Benefits

(59:15) Huddy discussed the differences, as he sees it, between NVIDIA's G-Sync technology and the AMD option called FreeSync but now officially called Adaptive Sync as part of the DisplayPort 1.2a standard. Beside the obvious difference of added hardware and licensing costs, Adaptive Sync is apparently going to be easier to implement as the maximum and minimum frequencies are actually negotiated by the display and the graphics card when the monitor is plugged in. G-Sync requires a white list in the NVIDIA driver to work today and as long as NVIDIA keeps that list updated, the impact on gamers buying panels should be minimal. But with DP 1.2a and properly implemented Adaptive Sync monitors, once a driver supports the negotiation it doesn't require knowledge about the specific model beforehand.

freesync1.jpg

AMD demos FreeSync at Computex 2014

According to Huddy, the new Adaptive Sync specification will go up to as high as 240 Hz and as low as 9 Hz; these are specifics that before today weren't known. Of course, not every panel (and maybe no panel) will support that extreme of a range for variable frame rate technology, but this leaves a lot of potential for improved panel development in the years to come. More likely you'll see Adaptive Sync ready display listing a range closer to 30-60 Hz or 30-80 Hz initially. 

Prototypes of FreeSync monitors will be going out to some media in the September or October time frame, while public availability will likely occur in the January or February window. 

How does AMD pick game titles for the Never Settle program?

(1:14:00) Huddy describes the fashion in which games are vetted for inclusion in the AMD Never Settle program. The company looks for games that have a good history of course, but also ones that exemplify the use of AMD hardware. Games that benchmark well and have reproducible results that can be reported by AMD and the media are also preferred. Inclusion of an integrated benchmark mode in the game is also a plus as it more likely gets review media interested in including that game in their test suite and also allows the public to run their own tests to compare results. 

Another interesting note was the games that are included in bundles often are picked based on restrictions in certain countries. Germany, for example, has very strict guidelines for violence in games and thus add-in card partners would much prefer a well known racing game than an ultra-bloody first person shooter. 

Closing Thoughts

First and foremost, a huge thanks to Richard Huddy for making time to stop by the offices and talk with us. And especially for allowing us to live stream it to our fans and readers. I have had the privilege to have access to some of the most interesting minds in the industry, but they are very rarely open to having our talks broadcast to the world without editing and without a precompiled list of questions. For allowing it, both AMD and Mr. Huddy have gained some respect! 

There is plenty more discussed in the interview including AMD's push to a non-PC based revenue split, whether DX12 will undermine the use of the Mantle API, and how code like TressFX compares to NVIDIA GameWorks. If you haven't watched it yet I think you'll find the full 90 minutes to be quite informative and worth your time.

UPDATE: I know that some of our readers, and some contacts and NVIDIA, took note of Huddy's comments about TressFX from our interview. Essentially, NVIDIA denied that TressFX was actually made available before the release of Tomb Raider. When I asked AMD for clarification, Richard Huddy provided me with the following statement.

I would like to take the opportunity to correct a false impression that I inadvertently created during the interview.

Contrary to what I said, it turns out that TressFX was first published in AMD's SDK _after_ the release of Tomb Raider.

Nonetheless the full source code to TressFX was available to the developer throughout, and we also know that the game was available to NVIDIA several weeks ahead of the actual release for NVIDIA to address the bugs in their driver and to optimize for TressFX.

Again, I apologize for the mistake.

That definitely paints a little bit of a different picture on around the release of TressFX with the rebooted Tomb Raider title. NVIDIA's complaint that "AMD was doing the same thing" holds a bit more weight. Since Richard Huddy was not with AMD at the time of this arrangement I can see how he would mix up the specifics, even after getting briefed by other staff members.

END UPDATE

If you want to be sure you don't miss any more of our live streaming events, be sure to keep an eye on the schedule on the right hand side of our page or sign up for our PC Perspective Live mailing list right here.

Sound like a pro with Blue Microphones' Spark Digital Lightning

Subject: General Tech | June 18, 2014 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: audio, blue microphones, spark digital lightning, microphone

The Spark Digital Lightning condenser microphone contains its own DAC which means that all the signal processing is done before the audio is sent to the device which you are recording to or broadcasting from.  That saves processor cycles on a PC but also means you can use this with a phone and other mobile devices and still produce audio of a decent quality.  It comes with a shock mount and your choice of either USB and Lightning cords or USB and the old style 30-pin Apple connector.  You can control volume, gain and mute directly on the mic as well as switch on a Focus option which alters the bias voltage of the condenser capsule similar to a low frequency filter.  Check out Benchmark Reviews full look at this ~$200 microphone that can almost compete with studio mics bearing a much higher price tag.

Blue_Microphones_Spark_Digital_Lightning_USB_Microphone_Left_Fr_34_01.jpg

"The Spark Digital from Blue Microphones is an all-in-one solution for high quality digital audio production. All the signal processing is done inside the body of the microphone, and the interface to your computer is through one of several available serial connections. The Spark Digital supports USB 1.1/2.0, the relatively new Lightning connection, or the older Apple 30-pin interface, through the use of separate cables for each connection type."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

PCPer Live! Interview with AMD's Richard Huddy June 17th, 4pm ET / 1pm PT

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 18, 2014 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: video, richard huddy, live, amd

UPDATE: Did you miss the live event? Well, there's good news and bad news. First, the bad: you can't win any of those prizes we discussed. The good: you can watch the replay posted below!

AMD recently brought back Richard Huddy in the role of Gaming Scientist, acting as the information conduit between hardware development, the software and driver teams and the game developers that make our industry exciting. 

Richard stopped by the offices of PC Perspective to talk about several subjects including his history in the industry (including NVIDIA and Intel), Mantle and other low-level APIs, the NVIDIA GameWorks debate, G-Sync versus FreeSync and a whole lot more.

This is an interview that you won't want to miss! 

On June 3rd it was announced that Richard Huddy, an industry stalwart and vetern of ATI, NVIDIA and Intel, would be rejoining AMD as Chief Gaming Scientist

Interesting news is crossing the ocean today as we learn that Richard Huddy, who has previously had stints at NVIDIA, ATI, AMD and most recently, Intel, is teaming up with AMD once again. Richard brings with him years of experience and innovation in the world of developer relations and graphics technology. Often called "the Godfather" of DirectX, AMD wants to prove to the community it is taking PC gaming seriously.

richardhuddy.jpg

Richard Huddy will be stopping by the PC Perspective offices on June 17th for a live, on-camera interview that you can watch unfold on PC Perspective's Live page. Though we plan to talk anything and everything centered on gaming and PC hardware we have a few topics that have been hot-buttons lately we know we want to ask about. Those include the AMD versus NVIDIA stint with GameWorks, AMD's developer relations and the Gaming Evolved program, how AMD feels about the current status of Adaptive Sync (G-Sync like features) and much more.

We want to take your questions as well, which is one of the reasons for this post. Richard has agreed to answer as many inquiries as possible in our allotted time and to help make this easier, we are asking our readers to give us their questions and input in the comments section of this news post. We will still take live questions in the chat room during the event, but if your question is here then you have a much better chance of that being seen and addressed.

If the intensity of these topics wasn't enough to entice you to watch the live stream, then how about this? We have a massive prize pool provided by AMD that is unmatched in our live stream history! Here's the list:

  • 1x AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB Graphics Card plus a power supply!
  • 1x MSI Radeon R9 280X
  • 1x Sapphire Radeon R9 280
  • 1x MSI Radeon R9 270
  • 1x HIS Radeon R9 270
  • 1x Sapphire R7 260X
  • 15x Never Settle Forever codes

Yup, that's all correct; no typos there. All you have to do is be on the PC Perspective Live! page during the stream on June 17th! We will be giving all of this hardware away to those watching the interview.

pcperlive.png

AMD's Richard Huddy Interview and Q&A

4pm ET / 1pm PT - June 17th

PC Perspective Live! Page

How can you be sure you are here at the right time? If you want some additional security besides just setting your own alarm, you can sign up for our PC Perspective Live mailing list, a simple email list that is used ONLY for these types of live events. Just head over to this page, give us your name and email address, and we'll let you know before we start the event!

I am very excited to talk with Richard again and I think that anyone interested in PC gaming is going to want to take part in this discussion!

UPDATE: I know that some of our readers, and some contacts and NVIDIA, took note of Huddy's comments about TressFX from our interview. Essentially, NVIDIA denied that TressFX was actually made available before the release of Tomb Raider. When I asked AMD for clarification, Richard Huddy provided me with the following statement.

I would like to take the opportunity to correct a false impression that I inadvertently created during the interview.

Contrary to what I said, it turns out that TressFX was first published in AMD's SDK _after_ the release of Tomb Raider.

Nonetheless the full source code to TressFX was available to the developer throughout, and we also know that the game was available to NVIDIA several weeks ahead of the actual release for NVIDIA to address the bugs in their driver and to optimize for TressFX.

Again, I apologize for the mistake.

That definitely paints a little bit of a different picture on around the release of TressFX with the rebooted Tomb Raider title. NVIDIA's complaint that "AMD was doing the same thing" holds a bit more weight. Since Richard Huddy was not with AMD at the time of this arrangement I can see how he would mix up the specifics, even after getting briefed by other staff members.

END UPDATE

Source: PCPer Live!

Fly like an eagle

Subject: General Tech | June 18, 2014 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: gaming, oculus rift, Birdly

Creative geniuses have found another way to combine the Oculus Rift with other hardware to create something new, in this case it is a bird simulator.  Strap yourself in to the device and use your arms to flap the wings of your bird body and lean to try your skills at aerial manoeuvring. The Oculus provides your birds eye view of the ground and there is even a fan placed in front of you to give even more immersion.  Hack a Day also mentions an olfactory component, it will be interesting to see how that was pulled off.

birdly.jpg

"Have you ever dreamed of being able to fly like a bird? Sadly, we’re just too heavy with our solid bones and fatty tissues – but now there’s a simulator called Birdly which will give you the experience you crave."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: Hack a Day

Get some help choosing your next mobile device

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 18, 2014 - 10:57 AM |
Tagged: Transformer, tablet, laptop, Chromebook, apple

If you are overwhelmed by the choice of mobile products on the market and are looking for a little guidance this article at The Tech Report is a good resource.  Their staff have picked out what they feel are the best mobile devices from tablets to transformer pads to full sized laptops.   You can choose between several models in each category depending on your budget, as the best solutions tend to be the most expensive.  The budget models are nothing to sneer at though as even on the low end mobile devices pack a lot more power than they used to.

hp-chromebook.jpg

"Earlier this year, we revised the structure of the TR System Guide to focus exclusively on PC components. Our aim was to cover peripherals and mobile gear in separate articles. We posted our first standalone peripheral picks in April, and today, we're completing the set with our first standalone mobile staff picks."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

So Watch_Dogs Graphical Mods Didn't Take Long...

Subject: General Tech | June 17, 2014 - 11:32 PM |
Tagged: watch dogs, mod

The "PC Master Race" meme has some merits. Gamers who care about a title, given some technical knowledge, will often make it look better than the developers intended. Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto IV can both look better than most next-gen releases. Watch Dogs is peculiar, though, because it just came out.

watchdogs-mod-01.jpg

Both images, credit: TheWorse from Guru3d forums

TheWorse Mod for Watch_Dogs apparently started as an attempt to restore the bloom effects from the game's E3 2012 trailer. Since then, TheWorse has improved performance, reduced stuttering, and improved many other effects (such as adding bokeh DOF blurring). The end result is quite pleasing to the eye.

watchdogs-mod-02.jpg

Check out the Guru3d thread as it develops. The versions seem to by arriving frequently.

Battlefield Will Not Be Annualized Says Patrick Söderlund

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 17, 2014 - 04:54 PM |
Tagged: battlefield, medal of honor, ea

Last year, we got Battlefield 4. The year before? Medal of Honor: Warfighter. The year before? Battlefield 3. The year before? Medal of Honor (Reboot). We will not be getting a new Medal of Honor this year, because Danger Close was shut down in June 2013. Danger Close developed the two recent Medal of Honor titles and, as EA Los Angeles, many of the previous Medal of Honor titles and many RTS games (Command and Conquer, Red Alert, Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth).

battlefield-hardline.jpg

Many of their employees are now working at DICE LA.

So, when a new Medal of Honor title should be released, we get Battlefield: Hardline. A person with decent pattern recognition might believe that Battlefield, or its spinoffs, would fill the gap left by Medal of Honor. Not so, according to Patrick Söderlund, Executive VP of EA Studios. As was the case at E3, where both studios (DICE and Visceral) repetitively claimed that Battlefield: Hardline was the product (literally) of a fluke encounter and pent-up excitement for cops and robbers.

Of course, they do not close the door for annualized Battlefield releases, either. They just say that it is not their plan to have that be "the way it's going to be forever and ever". Honestly, for all the hatred that annualized releases get, the problem is not the frequency. If EA can bring out a Battlefield title every year, and one that is continually a good game, then power to them. The problem is that, with an annual release cycle, it is hard to get success-after-success, especially when fatigue is an opposing, and (more importantly) ever-increasing force.

It is the hard, but lucrative road.

Source: PC Gamer