PC Gamer Lists Many E3 Games (and If We Should Care)

Subject: Shows and Expos | June 18, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, E3 2015, E3 15, E3

This has been a good E3 for the PC platform. We got our first keynote, organized by PC Gamer and AMD, which took the format in its own direction. This had basically the same reaction as putting Skittles in an M&Ms vending machine; they are good, but you'll see lots of weird faces on those who were expecting chocolate that melts in their mouths and not in their hands. It also ran long, celebrating the platform for almost two and a half hours, which is problematic for fans of console games who are very busy (and anyone with sub-phenomenal blood circulation or irritable bowels). Personally, I found it very interesting (while a bit long).

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Lol... just kidding. No.. (Image Credit: Rock Paper Shotgun)
They aren't even called that anymore...

Throughout E3, PC Gamer has also kept a vast (but not as complete as they claim) list of titles at the event. Each entry in the slideshow (I know) format has a brief blurb about the game, its release date if available, and whether it is coming to the PC platform. It is updated as the event progresses, but it already has about forty entries. Of the current list, only four are not yet confirmed for the PC. That sounds pretty good, and a stark contrast from five-to-ten years ago.

These four are:

  • The Last Guardian (no surprise)
  • Fallout Shelter (iOS only)
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider (which will probably make it to the PC at some point)
  • Final Fantasy 7 Remake (which was twice a PC release already)

Unfortunately, they are missing many titles that would be excluded from the PC, so I will add to it here. Gears 4 has not been confirmed for the PC, although the developer is bringing the original Gears remake to the platform. Yup, we get the one Gears we already had (at least until Games for Windows Live had something to say about it). Uncharted 4, Ratchet and Clank, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Dreams are pretty safe bets against the PC. Microsoft has been extremely quiet about Halo 5 and its chances on the PC; ReCore and Rare Replay sounds like Xbox One exclusives, as in excluding the PC as well as the other consoles, as well. Then you add Nintendo, and this list blows up from 12, including my additions, to a much bigger number that I don't even want to figure out.

Still, it is interesting to browse through PC Gamer's slideshow and look at all the content that we will get. It has been a good year for the PC. Microsoft is pulling Windows 10 forward with equivalent effort to what they have spent dragging the mostly unprofitable Xbox division around. They know that gaming is an essential component of why people are locked in to Windows, and it has thrived even through the decade-plus of neglect and maltreatment. On the other side, we see Sony appreciating the PC as a profitable market that can exist alongside their PlayStation initiatives for Sony Online content, and they don't even have as much first-party developers as they used to anyway.

But yeah. Lots of games is good. While I've managed for the last couple years, I feel it's getting much easier to ignore the console exclusives. How about you?

Source: PC Gamer

Microsoft Announces Xbox One Elite Controller for Windows 10

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 17, 2015 - 10:24 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, xbox, Steam Controller, microsoft, E3 2015, E3 15, E3, controller

And, of course, Xbox One... but I can assume who is the bulk of my audience.

Microsoft announced the Xbox One Elite Controller at E3, which includes support for Windows 10. This is part of their initiative to amend relations with the PC gaming industry. They seem to be going about it by focusing on the high-end gamer first. If not, then I wonder why they chose a $150 controller as a leading product.

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At that price, you could literally purchase three Steam Controllers from Valve instead of a single one of these, but whether you should... depends. In all honesty, I might end up purchasing both and doing a comparison between them over a variety of games. Of course, my primary input device is the mouse and keyboard for most games, but I occasionally add an early model Xbox 360 wired controller to the mix for Saint's Row, Grand Theft Auto, NASCAR 2003, and a few other titles.

The real disappointment is its D-Pad, though. It just cannot reliably send a single direction without sometimes accidentally sending others. This gets worse in games that are styled in the “8-bit” and “16-bit” era. I actually need to play most of those on a keyboard, which is a terrible experience. Valve's implementation looks interesting with the cross-shaped thumbpad, but Microsoft's new version has options: an old-fashioned cross as well as a nine-sectioned cup, called a “faceted D-pad”.

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That leads into the main design of Microsoft's controller: customization. Two switches on the back of the controller allow the range of trigger motion to be limited on the fly. This is designed for games like Grand Theft Auto, where the player wants precise control over throttle and brake, but would prefer to rapidly max-out the trigger as fast as possible when shooting a weapon. With this controller, you flip the switch when you leave the car and, what normally would be some fraction of its range, would be considered “bottoming out” and it would apparently even physically stop the trigger from pushing in further. According to the website, the threshold is user-customizable. I did not use it personally because I wasn't at E3.

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Like Valve's controller, it has optional rear paddles near the grips. They are stainless steel apparently, and can be used to compensate for weird button combinations by mapping them to fingers that normally just clutch the device itself. In Valve's version, there is just two while Microsoft's allows for up to four. Microsoft also allows you to detach them, rather than just disable them.

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This is when we get to software customization. Valve claims that the Steam Controller can be bound to many events across mouse, keyboard, and gamepad buttons and axises. Microsoft, on the other hand, seems to be keeping within the range of buttons found on a standard Xbox One controller. This is concerning to me because it means that extended inputs will be redundant, which is fine for an Xbox One game but could be annoying for a PC title that has many independent, simpler commands. This might be a limitation of XINPUT, which supposedly cannot address more than 10 buttons. I thought I remembered that limit being extended, but that seems to be true even in the MSDN documentation. Even still, the driver could address the extra functions as a secondary virtual device (keyboards, etc.) but Microsoft doesn't seem to want to. As a final note, Valve also allows the end of both triggers to be considered a clicky button, while Microsoft just recognizes it as a bottomed-out axis.

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The Xbox One Elite Controller will ship in October for $149.99. A wireless adapter for the PC will not be required if you use the included USB Micro cable, but add that to the price if you want it wireless. Add batteries on top of that, because it takes AA. They include a pair of disposable AA, but that is obviously not a permanent solution.

Revisting the GTX 980 Ti

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 17, 2015 - 06:24 PM |
Tagged: NVIDA, maxwell, GTX 980 Ti

Now that they have had time with the new NVIDIA card to test on games both familiar and new, [H]ard|OCP have put together a longer review of the GTX 980 Ti.  The Witcher 3 shows that for 4K gamers, the extra power of the TITAN does marginally beat out the newcomer.  Indeed that tended to hold true in many games, Dying Light and Far Cry 4 all saw the 980 Ti needing to lower graphical settings to remain at a decent frame rate but still remained a far better value for those gaming at 1440p.  They compare VRAM usage at 1440p versus 4K resolutions and it is obvious how much more memory is consumed as resolution increases.  Considering how none of the games tested used even half of the 12GB of VRAM on the TITAN it will be very interesting to see how AMD's new smaller sized but higher bandwidth HBM-based card will perform.

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"Now that we have had some solid gaming time with the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti, we will be putting it up against the GTX 980 and TITAN X video cards, in the full HardOCP GPU review format. We are including new games, The Witcher 3 and Grand Theft Auto V. We also look at VRAM utilization and power and temperature levels."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Get that John Williams' shiver watching the trailer for Star Wars Battlefield

Subject: General Tech | June 17, 2015 - 03:55 PM |
Tagged: Star Wars, gaming, ea

EA showed what they described as in game footage of the new Star Wars: Battlefront which was gorgeous and seems to capture the feel of that universe quite well.  Tthe more realistic of us worry that this might be in game footage in the same sense as Ubisoft's Watch_Dogs footage from last year and most of us are just hoping EA doesn't find a way to screw this game up more than they already have.  From the video below we can see that first and third person views are supported, flying vehicles have been included and jetpacks will be available.  We also learned that Luke can apparently time travel from the future into the past.  It is hard not to be excited about this release, one can only hope it does not all end in tears.

HEXUS also has a few more EA videos on their page right here.

"EA revealed new video trailers, footage and information about all its hottest gaming titles at the E3 show yesterday. The one and a half hour long presentation, available in full here, included information about Star Wars: Battlefront, Mass Effect Andromeda, Mirror's Edge Catalyst, the Need 4 Speed reboot, a plethora of sports title updates (plus an on-stage interview with Pele) and more."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Source: HEXUS

AMD prepares for the return of the Thin Client

Subject: General Tech | June 17, 2015 - 01:13 PM |
Tagged: amd, Samsung, cloud monitor

AMD and Samsung will be releasing several 'Cloud Monitors',  a design previously know as thin clients, powered by a 2.2GHz dual-core AMD GX222 APU with an unspecified 655MHz GPU and 4GB of DDR3-1600 RAM.   The TC222W will have a 21.5" screen and the TC242W a 23.6" screen, both will be 1080p and come with three USB 3.0 slots, four USB 2.0 slots and an Ethernet port.  The storage will be cloud based, hence the name, and will be similar to HP's MT245 and T420 which will also be powered by AMD APUs.  The thin client is making a return to the office and with AMD offering chips with configuration TDPs between 5W to 25W they may find themselves successful in this returning segment of the marketplace.  Read more at The Inquirer.

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"SAMSUNG AND AMD have joined forces to announce a line of all-in-one 'cloud monitors' featuring integrated thin client technology powered by AMD's Embedded G-series system on chip (SoC)."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

AMD Fury X2 Dual Fiji GPU Card Shown at PC Gaming Show

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 16, 2015 - 10:36 PM |
Tagged: hbm, fury x2, fury x, Fury, Fiji, dual gpu, amd

During the PC Gamer PC Gaming Show, much of the industry was on hand to talk about its take on the state of PC gaming. While there, AMD took the opportunity to show off the dual-GPU Fiji-based AMD Radeon R9 Fury X2 card. (Editor's note: we don't have official confirmation on that name for the card, but it would make sense, right? We'll go with that for the time being.) We don't know much about the specifics on clocks, shader counts or performance, but we do know that AMD is able to cram a HUGE amount of GPU compute capability into an incredibly small space thanks to the high bandwidth memory innovation.

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Shown at the PC Gaming Show tonight...

Interesting, just a couple of days ago we were sent this image anonymously:

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What's interesting here is that I was told "this is how they test" the GPUs before installing the water block on it. Those are high-end CPU coolers that have been modified slightly to be installed on the lay-flat Fury X2 PCB. This gives you an idea of the development process of building a graphics card like this...

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A little blurry, but still informative.

This image, posted by Anshel Sag, Staff Technologist and Technical Writer at Moor Insights & Strategy, shows the bare PCB with the two Fiji GPUs and their HBM memory stacks. (Also, note those "Moor" logos are not really printed on the GPU dies...) There are two 8-pin power connectors on the PCB as well, odd considering that the single GPU Fury X uses the same configuration.

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This card has been promised to us in the fall, though pricing and power and performance are to be discussed later. 2015 just keeps getting better for PC gamers!!

Connected Data Adds NAS Integration to Transporter 75 and 150 Cloud Storage Appliances

Subject: Storage | June 16, 2015 - 05:21 PM |
Tagged: transporter, NAS, dropbox, connected data

Today Connected Data (makers of Drobo) announced NAS integration with their Transporter 75 and 150 business private cloud storage devices.

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The premise of this addition is simple. Businesses can simply point a Transporter 75 or 150 unit at their local NAS device and have that storage accessible via the usual Transporter methods. These work very much like Dropbox, where files can be synced across systems or available from a remote source, except in this case the 'could' is provided by a box located and secured at the business offices.

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Transporter devices can also be added to smaller branch offices or other locations. Those remote locations can keep a subset (or all) of the data from the main office, preventing the need to have a full copy of all data synced across each and every system. The Transporter Desktop app can map shared folders and access them straight off of the network. Shares can also be synced with a local copy if the user chooses to do so.

It's good to see Connected Data continue to develop this platform, and we hope to see this NAS integration feature added to the smaller capacity 15 and 30 models as this would help speed adoption and integration for smaller businesses that have started out with all content on a smaller local NAS.

Full press blast after the break.

MSI's X99A MPower has a bit of personality

Subject: Motherboards | June 16, 2015 - 01:45 PM |
Tagged: msi, X99, X99A MPower

MSI's X99A MPower board sports the new USB 3.1 but not the new plugs if you were hoping for USB ports that do not have an orientation.  Depending on the CPU installed, he four PCIe 16x slots can support up to three GPUs at once if you use the M.2 port, otherwise four cards can be run.  The Realtek ALC1150 7.1 codec is compatible with S/PDIF and provides optical out as well as 5 mini-jacks for speakers.  [H]ard|OCP preferred manually overclocking to the use of the OC Genie or the Command Center software and two of the reviewers experience some quirky behaviour which prevented the board from winning an award but once the settings were tweaked the board performed admirably.

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"MSI’s X99A MPower promises to deliver a ton of features at a reasonable price. SATA Express, full speed M.2 support, and USB 3.1 compatibility are all examples of what this motherboard has to offer. The MSI MPower series has never disappointed us before, so we have high hopes for this motherboard."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

AMD's Small Form Factor Project Quantum PC Is a Dual Fiji Powerhouse [Updated]

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 16, 2015 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: water cooling, SFF, Fiji, E3 2015, E3, dual fiji, amd

AMD revealed a new liquid cooled small form factor PC called Project Quantum during an E3 livestream today.

AMD Project Quantum with Dual Fiji.JPG

On the outside, an angled dual compartment aluminum case with rounded edges houses the processing hardware in the bottom and all the cooling components in the top part. AMD is using liquid cooling for the processor and graphics with the tubing running up the center column joining the two pieces together to a radiator or radiators. Red LEDs light up the center column while Radeon R9 branding sits in the bottom left corner. 

AMD Project Quantum.JPG

While at first glance that Radeon R9 branding might be unassuming, it is actually referring to AMD's latest Fiji architecture. That's correct, Project Quantum is part of the Fiji product family and is, in fact, powered by two AMD Fiji-based graphics procesors!

Update: AMD has posted a behind-the-scenes video on the development of Project Quantum which you can watch below.

In the video, AMD reveals that they are using a modified ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac motherboard (thanks to djotter in the comments for pointing that out) which means that Project Quantum is using an Intel Haswell processor in addition to the two Fiji-based GPUs. AMD has removed all of the rear IO connectors save two USB 3.0 ports and an Ethernet jack. They have also moved the 8-pin CPU power connector to the back panel of the board next to the USB ports. My guess is that they did this for cable management and height restriction reasons within the bottom compartment. Specifically, from the CAD render shown in the video, it appears that the AMD graphics card sits horizontally on top of the motherboard which meant that at least some of the rear IO ports had to be removed or relocated.

AMD Project Quantum PSU.jpg

Another bit of information from that AMD video is that Project Quantum is using what looks like an external power supply. The power brick connects to the system over a single cable to an internal board. This board provides power to a Pico PSU that is plugged into the ATX 24-pin connector on the motherboard and provides power to the AMD branded Solid State Drive (SSD) as well as the motherboard and CPU 8-pin connectors (which have both been modified to right angles for height and cable management reasons). The internal power board that connects to the socket at the back likely also powers the Radeon graphics card via PCI-E connectors, but it is difficult to tell from the photo (it is that red PCB towards the top of the photo).

AMD Radeon R9 Quantum Dual Fiji SFF Prototype.jpg

Interestingly AMD has switched out the power and USB 3.0 headers with right angle models and removed the blue ASRock heatsinks covering the VRMs and PCH. AMD is instead using two large waterblocks to cool the components on the motherboard and graphics card. A large radiator and pump sit in the top compartment cooled by an 180mm Enermax Apollish fan. The 180mm radiator should result in quieter, or at least less annoying, fan noise since the large fan can spin slower while moving similar amounts of air as smaller fans paired with 120 or 140mm radiators. Using a single large radiator for both the CPU and GPU is an interesting choice here, and I think a correct one.

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A rendering of the water loop layout on Project Quantum. Image from AMD with annotations by Aibohphobia.

It was actually djotter and Aibohphobia in the comments who spotted the Pico PSU and provided an example. (I did not notice that in the video initially, so thanks for pointing that out!)  This power brick and tiny Pico PSU setup would certainly help to explain how AMD was able to make Project Quantum so thin (though an external PSU isn't necessarily a bad thing). The Pico PSU does suggest that the dual Fiji GPUs may be closer to lower end R9 Nanos than two high end Fury Xs (heh) or maybe some other yet unannounced cut-down Fiji chip entirely.

(End of update)

Update 9:30PM:

During the PC Gamer E3 Twitch stream, AMD CEO Lisa Su showed off Project Quantum, and Ken was able to snap a photo of the back panel.

AMD Project Quantum Rear IO.JPG

Project Quantum has, from left to right, a single power input (see above), two analog audio jacks, two USB 3.0 ports, an Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet jack, four USB 2.0 ports, and a single horizontal PCI slot. A Radeon R9 graphics card is installed in this slot and features three DisplayPort and one HDMI 1.4 video outputs. We still do not know all the specs of this card, but is is Fiji-based and supports LiquidVR along with AMD's other features including FreeSync and Frame Rate Target Control.

(End Update 9:30PM)

Beyond that, we do not know many details on Project Quantum. From the other announcements around Fiji today, particularly the R9 Nano and R9 Fury X, this little machine is going to be a powerhouse with impressive power efficiency and performance per watt – especially for its size!

Of course, pricing and availability were not discussed at the event. Stay tuned to PC Perspective as we get more details closer to its official release!

Source: AMD

AMD Officially Announces Radeon R9 Fury X and Fury Graphics Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 16, 2015 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: radeon, hbm, fury x, Fury, Fiji, E3 2015, E3, amd

It's finally official: AMD Radeon R9 Fury X and Fury graphics cards are coming soon. Here's the details you need to know:

  AMD Fury X AMD Fury AMD R9 290X
Stream Processors 4096 ?? 2816
Compute Capability 8.6 TFLOPS ?? 5.6 TFLOPS
Transistor Count 8.9 billion ?? 6.3 billion
Price $649 $549 $329
Availability June 24th July 14th Now

There is still a lot of information that AMD is saving for the official release, but those look to be some impressive graphics cards at first glance! The AMD Fury X is the small form factor water cooled version that we saw leaked this weekend while the AMD Fury (non-X) will be air cooled. It wasn't shown on stage though, so we can only guess what it will look like.

AMD Fury X AMD Livestream.jpg

AMD's Joe Macri said on stage that the cooler they designed is built for up to 500 watts but that the board was only going to draw 275 watts, while keeping the board temperature down to 50C!

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Other tidbits include 6-phase power with 400A (!!) power delivery for overclocking, an 8-LED user addressable array for performance load monitoring and 1.5x performance per watt improvement when compared to the R9 290X. That can help us estimate card performance but we'll dive more into that later.

Finally, though only a tease, AMD did say they were planning a dual-GPU variant of Fiji coming "in the fall."

AMD Announces Radeon R9 Nano 6-in Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 16, 2015 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: radeon, r9 nano, R9, amd

On stage at the AMD E3 2015 press conference, AMD's CEO Lisa Su announced the Radeon R9 Nano, a 6-in PCB small form factor graphics card that will feature "2x the performance per watt of the R9 290X" as well as "significantly" more performance than the R9 290X.

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We are looking for more information but because its branded R9 I don't know for sure if it's Fiji or Hawaii. I would assume that the advantages of HBM for form factor and power efficiency would tell us it uses AMD latest GPU in some cut down variation.

Availability later this summer.

UPDATE:  Sources on the scene confirm it is Fiji powered!

100Gbps optical interconnects anyone?

Subject: General Tech | June 16, 2015 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: IBM, photonics

Almost a year ago IBM put $3 billion into research on developing and enhancing their existing photonics technology and putting it onto chips.  The Register has heard of their recent success in creating an integrated silicon photonics transceiver chip with multiplexed wavelengths, allowing multiple signals to be sent simultaneously without interference allowing the incredibly high bandwidth.  The example given to demonstrate what 100Gbps means is downloading an HD movie in 2 seconds, not too shabby at all.  The demonstration model exists, a big first step in photonic technology but we won't see it mass produced for a while yet.  This is a good first step in finally getting rid of copper and moving on to a new medium for data transfer.

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"IBM last month claimed a breakthrough in photonics – the practice of using light pulses rather than electrons to quickly send signals in chips."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

NVIDIA GameWorks Enhancements Coming in Upcoming Metal Gear Solid Game

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 16, 2015 - 12:53 AM |
Tagged: the phantom pain, nvidia, metal gear solid, graphics, gpus, geforce, gameworks

A blog post on NVIDIA's site indicates that Konami's upcoming game Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will make use of NVIDIA technologies, a move that will undoubtedly rankle AMD graphics users who can't always see the full benefit of GameWorks enhancements.

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"The world of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is going to be 200 times larger than the one explored in Ground Zeroes. Because so much of this game’s action depends on stealth, graphics are a key part of the gameplay. Shadows, light, and terrain have to be rendered perfectly. That’s a huge challenge in a game where the hero is free to find his own way from one point to another.  Our engineers are signed up to work closely with Konami to get the graphics just right and to add special effects."

Now technically this quote doesn't confirm the use of any proprietary NVIDIA technology, though it sounds like that's exactly what will be taking place. In the wake of the Witcher 3 HairWorks controversy any such enhancements will certainly be looked upon with interest (especially as the next piece of big industry news will undoubtedly be coming with AMD's announcement later today at E3).

It's hard to argue with better graphical quality in high profile games such as the latest Metal Gear Solid installment, but there is certainly something to be said for adherence to open standards to ensure a more unified experience across GPUs. The dialog about inclusion though adherence to standards vs. proprietary solutions has been very heated with the FreeSync/G-Sync monitor refresh debate, and GameWorks is a series of tools that serves to further divide gamers, even as it provides an enhanced experience with GeForce GPUs.

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Such advantages will likely matter less with DirectX 12 mitigating some differences with more efficiency in the vein of AMD's Mantle API, and if the rumored Fiji cards from AMD offer superior performance and arrive priced competitively this will matter even less. For now even though details are nonexistent expect an NVIDIA GeForce GPU to have the advantage in at least some graphical aspects of the latest Metal Gear title when it arrives on PC.

Source: NVIDIA

Live Blog: AMD E3 2015 Press Conference June 16th, 9am PT / 12pm ET

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 15, 2015 - 08:27 PM |
Tagged: r9 300, hbm, hawaii, Fiji, E3 2015, E3, amd

Join us tomorrow to learn all about AMD's plans for the next generation of GPUs! AMD is hosting a live stream of the event at 9am PT / 12pm ET and the PC Perspective team will be live blogging as well.

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AMD E3 2015 Press Conference and Live Blog

9am PT / 12pm ET - June 16th

PC Perspective Live! Page

Need a reminder? Join our live mailing list!

We expect to see official details of the R9 300-series of products of which there have been many leaks as well as the final details of the AMD Fury and Fury X products based on the new Fiji GPU. Join the team as we live blog the event and learn along with you!

A new J-Micron controller for ADATA's Premier SP600 128GB SSD

Subject: Storage | June 15, 2015 - 05:31 PM |
Tagged: adata, Premier SP600, JMF670H, jmicron

ADATA's Premier SP600 SSD family is aimed at the budget conscious consumer, it is not often you see 32 and 64GB drives released along side the more common 128, 256 and 512GB models.  The previous Premier Pro 128GB is selling for $50 so you can expect a similar or lower price for models with the new controller.  Mad Shrimps benchmarked the drive and saw great results while the drive was fresh and empty of data but the performance dipped after the  drive began to fill up.  On the other hand at such a price and with a three year warranty you should not discount the drive altogether but there are certainly other choices at a similar price point.

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"The new revision of the ADATA Premier SP600 SSD is incorporating one of the newer Jmicron JMF670H controller, which is accompanied by one Nanya NT5CB64M16FP-DH as buffer and also eight ADATA-branded MLC NAND Flash memory chips. Premier SP600 is meant for the entry to mainstream market and while the product succeeds to deliver good read speeds, it fails to impress in the writes department."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: Mad Shrimps

The Raidmax Narwhal, a decent case with a strange name

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 15, 2015 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: Raidmax, narwhal, mid tower

It is unclear why Raidmax chose the name Narwhal for their latest case; without a facial horn it cannot be the Jedi of the sea, nonetheless that is the moniker which was chosen.  It is not even particularly huge, 498x245x518mm (19.6x9.6x20.4") and will fit ATX or smaller motherboards and is long enough for large GPUs, especially with some of the drive cage removed.  It offers double 120mm fan mounts on both the front and the top of the case, with a single mount out of the back along with three grommets for external watercooling.  Neoseeker tested the case in its basic configuration and saw decent results, with additional fans or a watercooling set up you can expect it to improve upon the tests seen in their review

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"The Raidmax Narwhal looks to be a whale of a mid-tower case measuring 498(H) x 245(W) x 518(D) mm and made of ABS steel. It comes with four external 5.25" drive bays and six internal 3.5" bays (three in a removable cage), and room for up to six 120 mm fans (two up top can be swapped for 140 mm variants). See how the Narwhal fares against competing mid-towers in our latest case review."

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

CASES & COOLING

Source: Neoseeker

NRAM research gets a financial boost

Subject: General Tech | June 15, 2015 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: non-volatile RAM, Nantero, NRAM, STT-MRAM, RRAM, memristor, hp, Panasonic, toshiba

Non-volatile memory technology is now at a turning point where we find out which technology will be doomed to be BETAMAX and which will carry on to become the VHS equivalent; hopefully that analogy is not too accurate as VHS was not the better of the two.  Allyn discussed the reasons why the market is looking for a new technology back in 2012 and his predictions that NAND still had some life in it have been proven over the past few years but we are seeing new limitations with the current technology.

In the past we have covered HP's Resistive RAM, also called a Memrisitor, which has been in development for many years but has finally appeared in some Panasonic microcomputers which control sensors.  STT-MRAM, spin transfer torque magnetoresistive random access memory, is Toshiba's project and while we still haven't seen any product it has been in development for more than 3 years and news of prototypes should arrive soon.  Lastly is NRAM, nano-RAM so named for the use of carbon based nanotubes in its design which is being developed by Nantero.

It is Nantero which is in the news today, having secured $31.5 million in funding this year, triple what they have seen in previous years according to the numbers The Inquirer has.  This particular technology offers densities in the terabytes per chip, storage which requires no active power source once written to and data retention of over 1,000 years at 85 degrees Celsius.  The speeds should match those expected from STT-RAM but at a fabrication price closer to the much lower cost RRAM; don't hold off buying your next SSD but do not think that market is going to get boring any time soon.

nram_chip.jpg

"It got $31.5m in an over-subscribed round to continue developing its nanotube-based non-volatile RAM (NRAM) semiconductor technology, which it says has DRAM read/write speed and is ultra-high density – think terabits."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

AMD Radeon Fury X Graphics Card Pictured, Uses 2 x 8-pin Power

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 12, 2015 - 10:31 PM |
Tagged: Skylake, leak, hbm, fury x, Fury, Fiji, amd

You just never know what's going to come your way on Facebook on a Friday night. Take this evening for me: there I was sitting on the laptop minding my own business when up pops a notification about new messages to the PC Perspective page of FB. Anonymous user asks very simply "do you want pictures of skylake and r9 fury x".

With a smirk, knowing that I am going to be Rick-rolled in some capacity, I reply, "sure".

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Well, that's a lot more than I was expecting! For the first time that I can see we are getting the entire view of the upcoming AMD Fury X graphics card, with the water cooler installed. The self-contained water cooler that will keep the Fiji GPU and its HBM memory at reliable temperatures looks to be quite robust. Morry, one of our experts in the water cooling fields, is guessing the radiator thickness to be around 45mm, but that's just a guess based on the images we have here. I like how the fan is in-set into the cooler design so that the total package looks more svelte than it might actually be.

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The tubing for the liquid transfer between the GPU block and the rad is braided pretty heavily which should protect it from cuts and wear as well as help reduce evaporation. The card is definitely shorter compared to other flagship graphics cards and that allows AMD to output the tubing through the back of the card rather than out the top. This should help in smaller cases where users want to integrate multi-GPU configurations.

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This shot shows the front of the card and details the display outputs: 3x DisplayPort and 1x HDMI.

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Finally, and maybe most importantly, we can see that Fiji / Fury X will indeed require a pair of 8-pin power connections. That allows the card to draw as much as 375 total watts but that doesn't mean that will be the TDP of the card when it ships.

Also, for what it's worth, this source did identify himself to me and I have no reason to believe these are bogus. And the name is confirmed: AMD Radeon Fury X.

Overall, I like the design that AMD has gone with for this new flagship offering. It's unique, will stand out from the normal cards on the market and that alone will help get users attention, which is what AMD needs to make a splash with Fiji. I know that many people will lament the fact that Fury X requires a water cooler to stay competitive, and that it might restrict installation in some chassis (if you already have a CPU water cooler, for example), but I think ultra-high-end enthusiasts looking at $600+ GPUs will be just fine with the configuration.

There you have it - AMD's Fury X graphics card is nearly here!

Experience the Sony Xperia Z3+

Subject: Mobile | June 12, 2015 - 03:28 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, sony, xperia z3+, snapdragon 810

The new Sony Xperia Z3+ is a tiny bit thinner than the non-plus model at 146x72x6.9mm and 144g compared to 146x72x7.3mm and 152g.  The display is unchanged, a 5.2" IPS screen with a 1080x1920 resolution but the processor received a significant upgrade, it is now a 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810.  The phone ships with Android 5.0 and The Inquirer got a chance to try it out.  The new processor handles 4K video perfectly and the phone feels snappier overall compared to the previous model, check out their full experience here.

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"SONY UNVEILED its latest top-end smartphone, the Sony Xperia Z3+ this week, with an updated, slimmer design, which has a lighter and sleeker frame compared with its predecessor, the Xperia Z3."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: The Inquirer

A furious flurry of Fury X rumours

Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2015 - 01:14 PM |
Tagged: hbm, leak, fury x, amd, Fiji, radeon, 390x

The rumours are flying today, with some purportedly leaked performance results of AMD's upcoming Fiji XT based card, the Fury X.  The leak at Videocardz shows the results of 3DMark's Firestrike Ultra and Extreme for an AMD Radeon Graphics Processor in single card configuration and Crossfire results for Extreme only.  The results show a card that can keep up with the Titan X and by extension the new GTX 980 Ti as well.  At 1440p resolution, the Firestrike Extreme benchmark, the new AMD card seems to lag slightly behind NVIDIA in single and dual GPU configurations, but not by much while in the Ultra test at 4K the AMD GPU pulls ahead, likely thanks to the new HBM-1 memory.

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They also claim to have a source who has run the new GPU though the CompuBench suite which gives us more information about the general architecture.  The tests show a card with 64 Compute Units, which translates into 4096 Stream Cores if it is designed similarly to current Radeons.  The tests also confirm the 1050MHz core clock and more interestingly the 4GB of HBM-1 will be clocked at 500MHz memory clock with a 4096-bit bus, which is good news for those who like their resolutions as high as they can go.  Nothing is confirmed yet but these numbers bode well for the new Radeon architecture if they are true.

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(Image credit: VideoCardz.com)

Source: Videocardz