Google I/O 2014: Android Extension Pack Announced

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | July 7, 2014 - 04:06 AM |
Tagged: tegra k1, OpenGL ES, opengl, Khronos, google io, google, android extension pack, Android

Sure, this is a little late. Honestly, when I first heard the announcement, I did not see much news in it. The slide from the keynote (below) showed four points: Tesselation, Geometry Shaders, Computer [sic] Shaders, and ASTC Texture Compression. Honestly, I thought tesselation and geometry shaders were part of the OpenGL ES 3.1 spec, like compute shaders. This led to my immediate reaction: "Oh cool. They implemented OpenGL ES 3.1. Nice. Not worth a news post."

google-android-opengl-es-extensions.jpg

Image Credit: Blogogist

Apparently, they were not part of the ES 3.1 spec (although compute shaders are). My mistake. It turns out that Google is cooking their their own vendor-specific extensions. This is quite interesting, as it adds functionality to the API without the developer needing to target a specific GPU vendor (INTEL, NV, ATI, AMD), waiting for approval from the Architecture Review Board (ARB), or using multi-vendor extensions (EXT). In other words, it sounds like developers can target Google's vendor without knowing the actual hardware.

Hiding the GPU vendor from the developer is not the only reason for Google to host their own vendor extension. The added features are mostly from full OpenGL. This makes sense, because it was announced with NVIDIA and their Tegra K1, Kepler-based SoC. Full OpenGL compatibility was NVIDIA's selling point for the K1, due to its heritage as a desktop GPU. But, instead of requiring apps to be programmed with full OpenGL in mind, Google's extension pushes it to OpenGL ES 3.1. If the developer wants to dip their toe into OpenGL, then they could add a few Android Extension Pack features to their existing ES engine.

Epic Games' Unreal Engine 4 "Rivalry" Demo from Google I/O 2014.

The last feature, ASTC Texture Compression, was an interesting one. Apparently the Khronos Group, owners of OpenGL, were looking for a new generation of texture compression technologies. NVIDIA suggested their ZIL technology. ARM and AMD also proposed "Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression". ARM and AMD won, although the Khronos Group stated that the collaboration between ARM and NVIDIA made both proposals better than either in isolation.

Android Extension Pack is set to launch with "Android L". The next release of Android is not currently associated with a snack food. If I was their marketer, I would block out the next three versions as 5.x, and name them (L)emon, then (M)eringue, and finally (P)ie.

Would I do anything with the two skipped letters before pie? (N)(O).

Rob Pardo, Former Chief Creative Officer at Blizzard, Resigns

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2014 - 04:08 AM |
Tagged: blizzard

After 17 years at Blizzard, the developers of the Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft franchises, Chief Creative Officer Rob Pardo resigned on July 3rd. He was credited as the lead designer of StarCraft: Brood War, Warcraft III and its Frozen Throne expansion, and World of Warcraft and its Burning Crusade expansion. He has not announced any future plans, except to be a better Twitter user.

blizzard-Rob_Pardo_GDC_2010-crop.jpg

Of course, several projects that he influenced are still on their way, even after he leaves the company. Beyond the games, he notes that eSports and the upcoming Warcraft movie are initiatives that he looks back on with pride, in terms of his contributions.

Source: Blizzard

DDR3 Overclocking World Record: 2.31 GHz

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Memory | July 6, 2014 - 03:53 AM |
Tagged: overclocking, memory, gigabyte

About a week ago, HWBOT posted a video of a new DDR3 memory clock record which was apparently beaten the very next day after the movie was published. Tom's Hardware reported on the first of the two, allegedly performed by Gigabyte on their Z97X-SOC Force LN2 Motherboard. The Tom's Hardware article also, erroneously, lists the 2nd place overclock (then 1st place) at 4.56 GHz when it was really half that, because DDR is duplex (2.28 GHz). This team posted their video with a recording of the overclock being measured by an oscilloscope. This asserts that they did not mess with HWBOT.

The now first place team, which managed 2.31 GHz on the same motherboard, did not go to the same level of proof, as far as I can tell.

This is the 2nd fastest overclock...

... but the fastest to be recorded with an oscilloscope that I can tell

Before the machine crashes to a blue screen, the oscilloscope actually reports 2.29 GHz. I am not sure why they took 10 MHZ off, but I expect it is because the system crashed before HWBOT was able to record that higher frequency. Either way, 2.28 GHz was a new world record, and verified by a video, whether or not it was immediately beat.

Tom's Hardware also claims that liquid nitrogen was used to cool the system, which brings sense to why they would use an LN2 board. It could have been chosen just for its overclocking features, but that would have been a weird tradeoff. The LN2 board doesn't have mounting points for a CPU air or water cooler. The extra features would have been offset by the need to build a custom CPU cooler, to not use liquid nitrogen with. It is also unclear how the memory was cooled, whether it was, somehow, liquid nitrogen-cooled too, or if it was exposed to the air.

Source: HWBOT

Oculus Rift Shipments Suspended to China

Subject: General Tech, Displays | July 5, 2014 - 04:11 AM |
Tagged: oculus vr, oculus rift, Oculus

The popular VR headset development kit, Oculus Rift DK2, is no longer available for order in China. The reason, according to their subreddit, is due to "extreme reseller purchases". In other words, because too many were purchased with the intention of selling them at a markup. They, then, ask enthusiasts to wait for the consumer version. These are for developers to develop.

oculus-dk2-product.jpg

Reselling product happens frequently. You see it at big sales, when a retailer sells product near (or under) cost to lure people into their stores. Unless they have a quantity-per-purchase limit, that is enforced, you will see the occasional person buying obscene amounts. Some will even tell the cashier that they intend on reselling it elsewhere.

Oculus is "looking into alternative ways to make sure that our development kits are getting into legitimate developer hands in China". Also, they claim to have not canceled all orders in China., because, "that would be messed up".

Yes, Oculus, that would be.

The Oculus Rift DK2 is still available in the other regions.

Attitude One's colourful Alamz headsets

Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2014 - 03:32 PM |
Tagged: audio, gaming headset, Almaz, Attitude One

Attitude One joins the crowded headset market with their new foldable Almaz headset with a detachable microphone which is designed to be lightweight enough to carry with you everywhere.  The bundled cables are compatible with both Android and Apple devices as well as one you can plug into your PC and simply leave for when you arrive home.  The price of €110 quoted by TechPowerUp seems a bit high but the two year warranty somewhat alleviates that investment.  If you need a portable lightweight headset with earcups this might be worth investigating as an option.

colors_4.jpg

"Attitude One is a new player on the gaming scene, and today, we take a close look at their first headset, the Almaz. The Almaz can be configured to act as either a headphone or headset because of its detachable microphone and multiple cables."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: techPowerUp

Put WiFi in all the things

Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2014 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: texas instruments, CC3000, CC3200, wifi

The new Ti C3200 SimpleLink is an ARM Cortex-M4 based SoC with inbuilt WiFi capability, essentially Internet on a Chip for the Internet of things.  Paired with the CC3200 LaunchPad which includes sensors you can use a PC and the SDK with 40 pre-exisiting WiFi apps to enable almost any device to communicate wirelessly.  The inclusion of AES, DES, MD5 and other security and encryption protocols is a welcome inclusion for anyone aware of even basic security.  The power requirements range from mA in operation to µA in the various sleep modes, making remote use with battery power a definite option.  Check out the links at Hack a Day for the spec sheets.

SimpleLink_CC3200.jpg

"Texas Instruments’ CC3000 WiFi chip is the darling of everyone producing the latest and greatest Internet of Thing, and it’s not much of a surprise: In quantity, these chips are only $10 a piece. That’s a lot less expensive than the WiFi options a year ago. Now, TI is coming out with a few new modules to their WiFi module family, including one that includes an ARM micro."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Hack a Day

Podcast #307 - EVGA Torq X10 Mouse, Samsung 850 Pro, OCZ RevoDrive 350 and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 3, 2014 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, evga, TORQ X10, Samsung, 850 PRO, ocz, RevoDrive 350, Silverstone, Nightjar, knights landing, Xeon Phi

PC Perspective Podcast #307 - 07/03/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the EVGA Torq X10 Mouse, Samsung 850 Pro, OCZ RevoDrive 350 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, and Morry Tietelman

Program length: 1:19:27

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

 

Do you know Juno?

Subject: General Tech | July 3, 2014 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: linux, linaro, juno, google, armv8-a, ARMv8, arm, Android

By now you should have read Ryan's post or listened to Josh talk about Juno on the PCPer Podcast but if you find yourself hungry for more information you can visit The Tech Report.  They discuss how the 64-bit Linaro is already able to take advantage of one of big.LITTLE's power efficiency optimization called Global Task Scheduling.  As Linaro releases monthly updates you can expect to see more features and better implementations as their take on the Android Open Source Project evolves.  Expect to see more of Juno and ARMv8 on review sites as we work out just how to benchmark these devices.

aosp.jpg

"ARM has created its own custom SoC and platform for 64-bit development. The folks at Linaro have used this Juno dev platform to port an early version of Android L to the ARMv8 instruction set. Here's a first look at the Juno hardware and the 64-bit software it enables."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

The slippery slope of Planetary Annihilation

Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2014 - 05:51 PM |
Tagged: gaming, bad idea, prerelease, planetary annihilation

Releasing unfinished games is no longer limited to EA, many developers have picked up the habit of Early Access versions of their games and it is in danger of becoming as common as pre-purchases have.  For some users this is not an issue, beta testing can be fun if you are that type of person or have a vested interest in trying to contribute to the development of a game.  Uber has gone one step further with Planetary Annihilation, actually releasing an Early Access version of the game to retail stores with a free upgrade to the full version once it is released.  There will be many consumers that do not understand that this is not a finished game and will purchase it with the expectation that it is completed.  This will likely lead to a lot of internet bile being unleashed and bad reviews being published which is something you would think a publisher would want to avoid.  Do you think that it is not an issue or perhaps a self correcting one or do you agree with Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN that this could be the start of a bad trend for the gaming industry?  It is unlikely that this particular game will die in development and never be released but if it becomes a common trend unscrupulous publishers could slap together a demo, sell it as a pre-release and then abandon development; they've already made money so why bother finishing the game if consumers are happy paying full price for a half-baked product?

For those who prefer to play fully finished and perhaps even heavily modded games, why not join the Fragging Frogs for a gaming session

planetarybox.jpg

"The practice of releasing alpha or beta games as part of an “Early Access” plan is not, in itself, inherently harmful. It can be quite good for a game when developers priorities are in order and everyone is given plenty of information about what they’re getting into upfront. Planetary Annihilation‘s early access version on brick-and-mortar store shelves, though?"

Frogs moron

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

How about a little High Powered Computing?

Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2014 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: HPC, ISS

The Register visited this years ISS and snapped some pictures of the hardware that was on display.  There were a lot of storage solutions being demonstrated like the Silent Brick Library from Fast LTA which offers an alternative to tape archives with the ability to can hold up to 60TB of uncompressed data with 12 bricks in a rack mounted device.  Samsung had a brief presentation on 3D V-NAND but did not reveal anything new about their new type of NAND.  AMD showed off their new W9100 FirePro and quite a few vendors, Intel included, are increasing their usage of watercooling in racks.  Click over to see the latest expensive HPC gear.

silent_brick.jpg

"The International Supercomputer Show in Leipzig, Germany, was full of fascinating things at the high-end grunt front of the computing business. Here's what attracted this roving hack's eye."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register