Subject: Editorial, General Tech | December 2, 2013 - 02:23 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, CEO
The search for a Microsoft CEO has been intensely monitored by journalists and financial analysts alike. The recent acquisition of Nokia (which was just approved by the DOJ, by the way) suggested that its CEO, Stephen Elop, was in the front running; if you watched coverage you would think CEO of Microsoft was his fate while everyone daydreamed of Alan Mulally.
While not confirmed, it looks like he (and former CEO of Skype, Tony Bates) are out of the running.
The top two candidates are Alan Mulally and Satya Nadella. The former would be an "acquisition" from Ford (more like a stressful retirement from there). His fame arose from turning that company around just prior to the 2008 Financial Crisis which wrecked the rest of the US auto industry. The latter runs the Cloud and Enterprise group which successfully evolved as times change without even a peep of trouble; it is just about the only stable division the company has.
Personally, I must say that those were just about the two best candidates in the pool -- at least from an outsider viewpoint. Their roles as CEO seem quite different but might not be. Both Mulally and Nadella have a track record of successfully navigating a changing landscape; the difference has been the rate and visibility.
This should be good news either way. Journalists will not have as many exciting things to talk about if Satya will be chosen but this is Microsoft's story, not theirs.
Subject: Editorial | November 25, 2013 - 02:05 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: pcper, amazon
UPDATE: With biggest buying season of them all creeping up on this week here in the US, I just thought I would offer up another reminder about those readers that would like to support PC Perspective while they happen to be shopping on Amazon.com. You can either install one of the quick and easy extensions listed below or, if you would rather take the passive approach, click the link below and shop away!
Recently a couple of PC Perspective fans have asked about an Amazon Affiliate code they could use for their normal Amazon purchases to help support the team here. Previously, we rarely used one of these codes so I setup a new one specifically for our use. As it turns out the small commission we receive for Amazon purchases is quite a bit LARGER than any commission we get for our various links to Newegg.com for example.
Our Amazon code is: pcper04-20
The easiest way to integrate it into your shopping, rather than remembering to add it to your URL each time, is to use a couple of plugins for Chrome or FireFox. For Chrome, the plugin is called Amazon Affiliate Link and is super easy to install.
Install the plugin.
Right click the new icon in the upper right corner.
Set the affiliate IDs to pcper04-20
For FireFox, the plugin is called AffiliateFox.
Add the plugin to FireFox.
Click the okay to install it.
Go to your Add-on settings and add pcper04-20 as each code.
That's it, you're done and you're supporting PC Perspective! We thank you tremendously for it and promise to do our best to continue to bring you the best possible content!!
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | November 25, 2013 - 01:02 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: halloween, giveaway, gigabyte, corsair, contest
UPDATE: We have our winner!! I would like to introduce you to...The Glorious PC Gaming Master Race!
There quite a few excellent entries in both photo and video form, but this was far and away the favorite of the PC Perspective voting staff. If you would like to see some of our other favorite entries, just click here and scroll to the bottom. Thanks to everyone who participated and made our holiday at PC Perspective a humorous one. :)
If there is one holiday that I find myself getting more and more attached to as I get older, it is definitely Halloween. The opportunity to dress up like a fool and (legally) scare children and adults in your neighborhood is an occasion that should not be missed! :)
To celebrate this wonderful time of year, PC Perspective has teamed up with our friends at Corsair and Gigabyte to giveaway a collection of hardware that just about anyone would be envious of. Here is what is up for grabs:
- Corsair Graphite 230T orange case ($80)
- Corsair Hydro H80i with the LED set to orange ($87)
- Corsair Raptor K50 RGB keyboard with LED set to orange ($85)
- Corsair Raptor M40 mouse (red, but you know, close enough) ($60)
- Corsair Vengeance Pro 8GB 1600 MHz memory ($99)
- Corsair Neutron GTX 120GB SSD ($125)
- Corsair RM Series 650 watt power supply ($115)
- Gigabyte Z87X-OC Haswell-ready motherboard (orange and black) ($185)
That's more than enough hardware to get anyone started on a killer gaming rig. Just add in your Intel Core i7/i5 Haswell processor, an AMD Radeon or NVIDIA GeForce graphics card and your off and running! Maybe a Zotac GeForce card would fit the bill to maintain the orange/black theme? Total estimated value of this hardware is over $830!!
So how do you enter? We have a few ways, but you are going to have to get creative for this one. We are looking for PC Perspective readers that are able to express their nerdom and hardware fanaticism in costume form. What kind of crazy costumes do you have planned and how are they associated with gaming, or hardware or technology? Pics or it didn't happen! Here are the rules:
- We want YOUR costume and not some image you stole off Google image search. That means you are going to need to hold up a piece of paper that says "PCPer" or "PC Perspective" on when you have your snapshot taken. This prove to us that you actually read this before the photo was taken!
- You can submit your entry in a few ways, all of which are equally judged.
- Leave a photo and description on the wall of our PC Perspective Facebook page. This is probably the easiest option.
- Leave a photo and description on the wall of our PC Perspective Google+ page.
- Leave a photo link and description in the comments below.
- If you want to get really creative, you can leave a video response on our PC Perspective YouTube channel!
That's it! We will accept entries starting today and going through November 3rd (to allow for the weekend parties) so get to planning and get creative! We'll pick a few of our favorites to showcase in a news post announcing the winner then ship the hardware to our favorite. Good luck!
A huge thanks goes to Corsair for the massive amount of hardware they provided for this contest and also to Gigabyte for the Z87X-OC motherboard. If you want, you might even get bonus points if you include Corsair and Gigabyte in your entry somehow...
Why is there a bourbon review on a PC-centric website?
We can’t live, eat, and breathe PC technology all the time. All of us have outside interests that may not intersect with the PC and mobile market. I think we would be pretty boring people if that were the case. Yes, our professional careers are centered in this area, but our personal lives do diverge from the PC world. You certainly can’t drink a GPU, though I’m sure somebody out there has tried.
The bottle is unique to Wyoming Whiskey. The bourbon has a warm, amber glow about it as well. Picture courtesy of Wyoming Whiskey
Many years ago I became a beer enthusiast. I loved to sample different concoctions, I would brew my own, and I settled on some personal favorites throughout the years. Living in Wyoming is not necessarily conducive to sampling many different styles and types of beers, and so I was in a bit of a rut. A few years back a friend of mine bought me a bottle of Tomatin 12 year single malt scotch, and I figured this would be an interesting avenue to move down since I had tapped out my selection of new and interesting beers (Wyoming has terrible beer distribution).
The Really Good Times are Over
We really do not realize how good we had it. Sure, we could apply that to budget surpluses and the time before the rise of global terrorism, but in this case I am talking about the predictable advancement of graphics due to both design expertise and improvements in process technology. Moore’s law has been exceptionally kind to graphics. We can look back and when we plot the course of these graphics companies, they have actually outstripped Moore in terms of transistor density from generation to generation. Most of this is due to better tools and the expertise gained in what is still a fairly new endeavor as compared to CPUs (the first true 3D accelerators were released in the 1993/94 timeframe).
The complexity of a modern 3D chip is truly mind-boggling. To get a good idea of where we came from, we must look back at the first generations of products that we could actually purchase. The original 3Dfx Voodoo Graphics was comprised of a raster chip and a texture chip, each contained approximately 1 million transistors (give or take) and were made on a then available .5 micron process (we shall call it 500 nm from here on out to give a sense of perspective with modern process technology). The chips were clocked between 47 and 50 MHz (though often could be clocked up to 57 MHz by going into the init file and putting in “SET SST_GRXCLK=57”… btw, SST stood for Sellers/Smith/Tarolli, the founders of 3Dfx). This revolutionary graphics card at the time could push out 47 to 50 megapixels and had 4 MB of VRAM and was released in the beginning of 1996.
My first 3D graphics card was the Orchid Righteous 3D. Voodoo Graphics was really the first successful consumer 3D graphics card. Yes, there were others before it, but Voodoo Graphics had the largest impact of them all.
In 1998 3Dfx released the Voodoo 2, and it was a significant jump in complexity from the original. These chips were fabricated on a 350 nm process. There were three chips to each card, one of which was the raster chip and the other two were texture chips. At the top end of the product stack was the 12 MB cards. The raster chip had 4 MB of VRAM available to it while each texture chip had 4 MB of VRAM for texture storage. Not only did this product double performance from the Voodoo Graphics, it was able to run in single card configurations at 800x600 (as compared to the max 640x480 of the Voodoo Graphics). This is the same time as when NVIDIA started to become a very aggressive competitor with the Riva TnT and ATI was about to ship the Rage 128.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Networking, Processors, Mobile | October 19, 2013 - 01:45 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SoC, p5600, MIPS, imagination
Imagination Technologies, a company known for its PowerVR graphics IP, has unleashed its first Warrior P-series MIPS CPU core. The new MIPS core is called the P5600 and is a 32-bit core based on the MIPS Release 5 ISA (Instruction Set Architecture).
The P5600 CPU core can perform 128-bit SIMD computations, provide hardware accelerated virtualization, and access up to a 1TB of memory via virtual addressing. While the MIPS 5 ISA provides for 64-bit calculations, the P5600 core is 32-bit only and does not include the extra 64-bit portions of the ISA.
The MIPS P5600 core can scale up to 2GHz in clockspeed when used in chips built on TSMC's 28nm HPM manufacturing process (according to Imagination Technologies). Further, the Warrior P5600 core can be used in processors and SoCs. As many as six CPU cores can be combined and managed by a coherence manager and given access to up to 8MB of shared L2 cache. Imagination Technologies is aiming processors containing the P5600 cores at mobile devices, networking appliances (routers, hardware firewalls, switches, et al), and micro-servers.
A configuration of multiple P5600 cores with L2 cache.
I first saw a story on the P5600 over at the Tech Report, and found it interesting that Imagination Technologies was developing a MIPS processor aimed at mobile devices. It does make sense to see a MIPS CPU from the company as it owns the MIPS intellectual property. Also, a CPU core is a logical step for a company with a large graphics IP and GPU portfolio. Developing its own MIPS CPU core would allow it to put together an SoC with its own CPU and GPU components. With that said, I found it interesting that the P5600 CPU core was being aimed at the mobile space, where ARM processors currently dominate. ARM is working to increase performance while Intel is working to bring its powerhouse x86 architecture to the ultra low power mobile space. Needless to say, it is a highly competitive market and Imagination Technologies new CPU core is sure to have a difficult time establishing itself in that space of consumer smartphone and tablet SoCs. Fortunately, mobile chips are not the only processors Imagination Technologies is aiming the P5600 at. It is also offering up the MIPS Series 5 compatible core for use in processors powering networking equipment and very low power servers and business appliances where the MIPS architecture is more commonplace.
In any event, I'm interested to see what else IT has in store for its MIPS IP and where the Warrior series goes from here!
More information on the MIPS 5600 core can be found here.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | October 10, 2013 - 03:28 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: podcast, nvidia, contest, batman arkham origins
UPDATE: We picked our winner for week 1 but now you can enter for week 2!!! See the new podcast episode listed below!!
Back in August NVIDIA announced that they would be teaming up with Warner Bros. Interactive to include copies of the upcoming Batman: Arkham Origins game with select NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards. While that's great and all, wouldn't you rather get one for free next week from PC Perspective?
Great, you're in luck! We have a handful of keys to give out to listeners and viewers of the PC Perspective Podcast. Here's how you enter:
- Listen to or watch episode #272 of the PC Perspective Podcast and listen for the "secret phrase" as mentioned in the show!
- Subscribe to our RSS feed for the podcast or subscribe to our YouTube channel.
- Fill out the form at the bottom of this podcast page with the "secret phrase" and you're entered!
I'll draw a winner before the next podcast and announce it on the show! We'll giveaway one copy each of the next two weeks! Our thanks goes to NVIDIA for supplying the Batman: Arkham Origins keys for this contest!!
No restrictions on winning, so good luck!!
A new generation of Software Rendering Engines.
We have been busy with side projects, here at PC Perspective, over the last year. Ryan has nearly broken his back rating the frames. Ken, along with running the video equipment and "getting an education", developed a hardware switching device for Wirecase and XSplit.
My project, "Perpetual Motion Engine", has been researching and developing a GPU-accelerated software rendering engine. Now, to be clear, this is just in very early development for the moment. The point is not to draw beautiful scenes. Not yet. The point is to show what OpenGL and DirectX does and what limits are removed when you do the math directly.
Errata: BioShock uses a modified Unreal Engine 2.5, not 3.
In the above video:
- I show the problems with graphics APIs such as DirectX and OpenGL.
- I talk about what those APIs attempt to solve, finding color values for your monitor.
- I discuss the advantages of boiling graphics problems down to general mathematics.
- Finally, I prove the advantages of boiling graphics problems down to general mathematics.
I would recommend watching the video, first, before moving forward with the rest of the editorial. A few parts need to be seen for better understanding.
If Microsoft was left to their own devices...
Microsoft's Financial Analyst Meeting 2013 set the stage, literally, for Steve Ballmer's last annual keynote to investors. The speech promoted Microsoft, its potential, and its unique position in the industry. He proclaims, firmly, their desire to be a devices and services company.
The explanation, however, does not befit either industry.
Ballmer noted, early in the keynote, how Bing is the only notable competitor to Google Search. He wanted to make it clear, to investors, that Microsoft needs to remain in the search business to challenge Google. The implication is that Microsoft can fill the cracks where Google does not, or even cannot, and establish a business from that foothold. I agree. Proprietary products (which are not inherently bad by the way), as Google Search is, require one or more rivals to fill the overlooked or under-served niches. A legitimate business can be established from that basis.
It is the following, similar, statement which troubles me.
Ballmer later mentioned, along the same vein, how Microsoft is among the few making fundamental operating system investments. Like search, the implication is that operating systems are proprietary products which must compete against one another. This, albeit subtly, does not match their vision as a devices and services company. The point of a proprietary platform is to own the ecosystem, from end to end, and to derive your value from that control. The product is not a device; the product is not a service; the product is a platform. This makes sense to them because, from birth, they were a company which sold platforms.
A platform as a product is not a device nor is it service.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | September 16, 2013 - 09:15 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Steam Box, LinuxCon, Gabe Newell
Valve Software, as demonstrated a couple of days ago, still believe in Linux as the future of gaming platforms. Gabe Newell discussed this situation at LinuxCon, this morning, which was streamed live over the internet (and I transcribed after the teaser break at the bottom of the article). Someone decided to rip the stream, not the best quality but good enough, and put it on Youtube. I found it and embed it below. Enjoy!
Gabe Newell highlights, from the seventh minute straight through to the end, why proprietary platforms look successful and how they (sooner-or-later) fail by their own design. Simply put, you can control what is on it. Software you do not like, or even their updates, can be stuck in certification or even excluded from the platform entirely. You can limit malicious software, at least to some extent, or even competing products.
Ultimately, however, you limit yourself by not feeding in to the competition of the crowd.
If you wanted to get your cartridge made you bought it, you know, FOB in Tokyo. If you had a competitive product, miraculously, your ROMs didn't show up until, you know, 3 months after the platform holder's product had entered market and stuff like that. And that was really where the dominant models for what was happening in gaming ((came from)).
But, not too surprisingly, open systems were advancing faster than the proprietary systems had. There used to be these completely de novo graphics solutions for gaming consoles and they've all been replaced by PC-derived hardware. The openness of the PC as a hardware standard meant that the rate of innovation was way faster. So even though, you would think, that the console guys would have a huge incentive to invest in it, they were unable to be competitive.
Microsoft attempts to exert control over their platform with modern Windows which is met by a year-over-year regression in PC sales; at the same time, PC gaming is the industry hotbed of innovation and it is booming as a result. In a time of declining sales in PC hardware, Steam saw a 76% growth (unclear but it sounds like revenue) from last year.
Valve really believes the industry will shift toward a model with little divide between creator and consumer. The community has been "an order of magnitude" more productive than the actual staff of Team Fortress 2.
Does Valve want to compete with that?
This will only happen with open platforms. Even the consoles, with systems sold under parts and labor costs to exert control, have learned to embrace the indie developer. The next gen consoles market indie developers, prior to launch, seemingly more than the industry behemoths and that includes their own titles. They open their platforms a little bit but it might still not be enough to hold off the slow and steady advance of PC gaming be it through Windows, Linux, or even web standards.
Speaking of which, Linux and web standards are oft criticized because they are fragmented. Gabe Newell, intentionally or unintentionally, claimed proprietary platforms are more fragmented. Open platforms have multiple bodies push and pull the blob but it all tends to flow in the same direction. Proprietary platforms have lean bodies with control over where they can go, just many of them. You have a dominant and a few competing platforms for each sector: phones and tablets, consoles, desktops, and so forth.
He noted each has a web browser and, because the web is an open standard, is the most unified experience across devices of multiple sectors. Open fragmentation is small compared to the gaps between proprietary silos across sectors. ((As a side note: Windows RT is also designed to be one platform for all platforms but, as we have been saying for a while, you would prefer an open alternative to all RT all the time... and, according to the second and third paragraphs of this editorial, it will probably suffer from all of the same problems inherent to proprietary platforms anyway.))
Everybody just sort of automatically assumes that the internet is going to work regardless of wherever they are. There may be pluses or minuses of their specific environment but nobody says, "Oh I'm in an airplane now, I'm going to use a completely different method of accessing data across a network". We think that should be more broadly true as well. That you don't think of touch input or game controllers or living rooms as being things which require a completely different way for users to interact or acquire assets or developers to program or deliver to those targets.
Obviously if that is the direction you are going in, Linux is the most obvious basis for that and none of the proprietary, closed platforms are going to be able to provide that form of grand unification between mobile, living room, and desktop.
Next week we're going to be rolling out more information about how we get there and what are the hardware opportunities that we see for bringing Linux into the living room and potentially pointing further down the road to how we can get it even more unified in mobile.
Well, we will certainly be looking forward to next week.
Personally, for almost two years I found it weird how Google, Valve, and Apple (if the longstanding rumors were true) were each pushing for wearable computing, Steam Box/Apple TV/Google TV, and content distribution at the same time. I would not be surprised, in the slightest, for Valve to add media functionality to Steam and Big Picture and secure a spot in the iTunes and Play Store market.
As for how wearables fit in? I could never quite figure that out but it always felt suspicious.