Subject: Editorial, General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 06:53 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows, microsoft
Peter Bright at Ars Technica is wondering how many operating systems (OSes) Microsoft actually needs and, for that matter, how many they already have. Three consumer versions of Windows exists (or brands of it does): Windows RT, "full" Windows, and Windows Phone. Then again, it is really difficult to divide up what a unique operating system even is. All of the aforementioned "OSes" run on the same base kernel and even app compatibility does not align to that Venn diagram.
In my personal opinion, it really does not matter how many (or what) operating systems Microsoft has. That innate desire to categorize things into boxes really does nothing useful. At best, it helps you create relationships between it and other platforms; these comparisons may not even be valid. Sure, from the perspective of Microsoft's marketing team, these categories help convey information about their products to consumers.
... And if recent trends mean anything: very incorrect and confusing information.
So really, and I believe this is what Peter Bright was getting at, who cares how many OSes Microsoft has? The concern should really be what these products mean for consumers. In that sense, I really hope we trend towards the openness of the last couple Internet Explorer versions (and of course Windows 7) and further from the censored nature of Windows RT.
You can have 800 channels or just a single one but that doesn't mean something good is on.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | December 5, 2013 - 02:47 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: WQHD+, msi, 3K
High resolution displays are very nice to have especially when you are looking at text and symbols (or edges of 3D geometry). WQHD+ is one of the resolutions classified under the 3K moniker with dimensions of 2880 x 1620. It has slightly more pixels than 1440p.
MSI has launched two notebooks with a 15.6" display in this resolution: one gaming and one workstation. Both laptops are remarkably similar except for a few key differences.
Both laptops include:
- Intel Core i7-4700MQ CPU (2.4 GHz w/ 3.4 GHz Turbo)
- 16 GB RAM
- 15.6" 2880x1620 (16:9) display
- 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD
- Killer E2200 networking (yes, the workstation too)
- Killer N1202 a/b/g/n wireless (yes, workstation too)
- SDXC card reader
- HDMI 1.4, 2x USB 3.0, etc.
- Backlit Keyboard from SteelSeries
The GT60 2OD-261US (Gaming) also includes:
- Windows 8
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M GPU (4GB)
- Blu-ray reader
The GT60 2OKWS-278US (Workstation) instead includes:
- Windows 7 Professional
- NVIDIA Quadro K3100M (4GB)
- Blu-ray recorder
These laptops are currently available at two price points: $2200 for the gaming version and $2800 for the workstation. Press release after the break!
Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 01:57 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: mozilla, webgl
Tools for web developers are pretty astonishing these days. You are able to investigate the driving elements and objects as they are being executed within the browser -- and even modify them. This typically means that you can play around with the various functions and parameters while the app is loaded. You receive immediate feedback about your changes.
Web Standards continue to encompass 3D and other game-related tasks. As a result, developer tools are beginning to take advantage of their browser's managed architecture making it easier to tweak and debug content. In other words: you can poke your 3D scene as it is being rendered.
Now this is quite interesting. Basically all of the GPU's involvement in drawing a 3D scene comes down to two scripts (at least for WebGL 1.0): a vertex shader and a fragment shader. These are operations that run once for every vertex in a scene and once for every pixel an object in a scene occupies, respectively. Together they form a "program" which gives an object's geometry something tangible for users to see.
Here is an example of Unreal Engine 3 being modified at runtime.
The developer tools within Firefox 27 will allow you to modify these scripts at runtime and even turn specific draw calls on or off. This should vastly speed up the rate at which developers modify their effects especially when it comes to fine tuning specific variables such as the rate that waves flow in a water material.
Firefox 27 is expected to be the release version in early February; it is currently in the Aurora channel.
Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 01:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Dell has updated their UltraSharp lineup with a professional class 4K IPS monitor, the UP3214Q. It is 32" and features 99% AdobeRGB and 100% sRGB coverage and a claimed 8ms g2g response time which makes it usable for gamers as well though this really is aimed at the graphics professional. HDMI, DisplayPort, mini-DisplayPort, USB 3.0 and a 6-in-1 media card reader round out the features on this display.
Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 01:31 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: sales, pc sales, market share
The PC market has eroded over the past few years to the point where sales are only slightly above what they were in 2008, roughly 300 million sales. Even more worrisome for vendors is the predicted 10.1% decline predicted for the overall sales in 2013. DigiTimes cites a lack of reasons to upgrade being a root cause and to an extent that makes sense, a first generation i5 laptop will still compete with a current generation laptop with an equivalent Haswell model. Another reason is the changing market, with tablets and phones providing good enough connectivity for many who previously would have had to purchase a 'traditional' computer. Commercial sales are not declining as quickly yet but that could change with the spread of the BYOD disease.
"Worldwide PC shipments are expected to fall by 10.1% in 2013, slightly below the previous projection of 9.7%, and by far the most severe yearly contraction on record, according to IDC. Interest in PCs has remained limited, leading to little indication of positive growth beyond replacement of existing systems. Total shipments are expected to decline by an additional 3.8% in 2014 before turning slightly positive in the longer term."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Someone’s Been Siphoning Data Through a Huge Security Hole in the Internet @ Wired
- PS4 @ The Inquirer
- EMC on XtremIO SSD brickup ballsup: Its LIFETIME downtime is under 3 minutes @ The Register
- Exclusive interview with LN2 OC Guru Petri Korhonen @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 03:59 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: GCC, Rust, mozilla
Rust is an interesting language in that it aims to be safe and concurrent. It was discussed frequently at Mozilla Summit back in early October both on its own and in terms of the experimental HTML5 rendering engine, Servo. From how it was describe to me from other attendees, it prides itself on its task-based architecture. Basically, your application is (or, at least, is often) set up like a bunch of tasks that get scheduled concurrently and pass messages to one another if they want to communicate. This concept allow for efficient multithreading because each task is inherently independent.
This may remind you of the experiments John Carmack did with Wolfenstein and Haskell.
Apparently at least one developer from the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) is also paying attention. Philip Herron has been working on the "gccrs" branch to create a GCC front-end for Mozilla's language.
We will need languages like Rust in the near future as processors continue to ramp up in thread count. Just look at the Xeon Phi story from last week: a bootable 288-thread standalone processor based on the Silvermont architecture. If you want this processor to be used efficiently then you better be light on the main thread otherwise your 6 TFLOPs (3 TFLOPs double-precision) will only be quick to behave like an Atom.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 5, 2013 - 03:17 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: linux, nvidia surround, eyefinity
Could four 1080p monitors be 4K on the cheap? Probably not... but keep reading.
Image Credit: Phoronix
Phoronix published an article for users interested in quad monitor gaming on Linux. Sure, you might think this is a bit excessive especially considering the bezel at the center of your screen. On the other hand, imagine you are playing a four player split-screen game. That would definitely get some attention. Each player would be able to tilt their screen out of the view of their opponents while only using a single computer.
In his 8-page editorial, Michael Larabel tests the official and popular open source drivers for both AMD and NVIDIA. The winner was NVIDIA's proprietary driver although the open source solution, Nouveau, seemed to fair the worst of the batch. This is the typical trade-off with NVIDIA. It was only just recent that The Green Giant opened up documentation for the other chefs in the kitchen... so these results may change soon.
If you are interested in gaming on Linux, give the article a read.
Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 03:03 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: linux, valve, SteamOS, hsa foundation, hsa
Valve may very well produce one of the near future's most popular non-mobile, consumer, Linux distributions. SteamOS will be marketed for gaming PCs (some very compelling ones at that) starting next year. CES will definitely be interesting. With such a popular distribution, and as an existing member of the Khronos Group, it makes sense for Valve to join the Linux Foundation... and they just did.
It is still unknown to what extent Valve joined Linux (members are classified by level of contribution from Platinum to Silver) and we likely will not know until their list is updated. While they probably will not be hanging out with Intel and others in the platinum category, Silver is not the most noteworthy of statuses... alongside Barnes and Noble (likely because of the Nook) and Twitter.
Another addition is the HSA Foundation. AMD is already a Gold member (y'know... HSA's faja) and ARM is Silver so I cannot see HSA being much more than that. Still, Linux will be an important focus for the heterogeneous computing architectures to endorse: both in terms of back-end server optimization and customer-facing devices.
Of course I am not belittling any contribution. Still, there is that desire to see Valve lead the pack. Ultimately, though, it is not the size of the badge: it is how you wear it.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | December 5, 2013 - 02:38 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, r9 270, Steam Machine, SteamOS
I cannot see how they will be making any money at this but, next year, iBuyPower will launch their first Steam Machine. At the price of $499, the same as an Xbox One, you will get an AMD CPU bundled with a discrete Radeon R9 270 graphics card.
Image Credit: The Verge
Oh, and Valve's controller will be included in that price.
Sure, they can save money on the free operating system, but that still looks pretty awesome. In terms of actual dimensions, the case is said to be between the size of the PS4 and the Xbox one. Frankly, if you like the look of home theater appliances, this could be a nice twist on that aesthetic. It will also come with a 500GB hard drive. Don't worry, though: it is a PC. If there is a USB 3.0 port anywhere on it, you can attach a giant drive for your games.
And the power supply is internal, too!
iBuyPower is expected to ship this device at some point in 2014 along with a wave of other Steam Machines. Prepare for many of these innovations to come out of CES.
Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 02:26 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pcga, certification
Okay, so we all know I hate certification. Art platforms should be as open as possible to allow small businesses, hobbyists, and even casual users to share their expressions and ideas. Certification is the basis for my distrust of Windows Store and the "modern" Windows platform altogether. When you have someone between you and sharing, terms will be dictated for every transfer.
I am reminded of Harvest Moon which was pressured with ESRB certification (unclear where the pressure was coming from, however) to remove same-gender relationships in a North American release. If you build censorship, they will come. This is not censorship... but keep that in mind.
That said, the PC Gaming Alliance (PCGA) should only get between you and an advertising logo. They will not prevent you from sharing your app, unlike Windows Store, but rather just not say you have a satisfactory title.
Testing will not be free, of course. A non-PCGA member will need to pay $500 per game to be submit their title for certification; another $2000 will be required to request help with certification from the organization.
Metrics that the certification looks at is whether it runs at a smooth 30FPS at 720p medium settings on some reference platform and whether it supports gamepad and couch use cases (if those users would reasonably expect that environment for the title... ex: StarCraft would probably be exempt).
I can see this being... okay. It is a bit pointless for users who do the slightest bit of research before they purchase a title. That said, under the condition that it will not be a mandatory certification, it might be beneficial for smaller companies to market their goods. Cheap endorsement for small businesses is not a bad thing as long as it does not lock the art, itself, in any way.
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