Cheap laptops are expected to cut into mobile GPU sales

Subject: General Tech | September 24, 2014 - 09:56 AM |
Tagged: amd, nvidia, hp, dell, asus, acer, toshibe, mobile gpu

The growing market of low cost $200 to $400 10" to 15" laptops is expected to cut into the sales of AMD and NVIDIA's mobile GPUs as they are forced to focus more on higher end models.  That is a much smaller market and the margins generally favour the laptop vendor as opposed to the company providing the mobile GPU.  This will be felt more strongly by NVIDIA as AMD's APU lineup will appear in the smaller and less expensive notebooks but will still have an effect on AMD's bottom line over the coming quarters.  DigiTimes also mentioned that AMD's R9 390X is due out in the first half of 2015 and that both companies are currently reducing the price of their GPUs in the hopes of increasing their sales volumes on the desktop.

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"Notebook vendors including Hewlett-Packard (HP), Dell, Lenovo, Asustek Computer, Acer and Toshiba, will launch low-cost models with CPUs with integrated graphics in the fourth quarter of 2014 and therefore AMD and Nvidia are expected to see demand for their discrete mobile GPUs decrease, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers."

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Source: DigiTimes

Excuse Me, Your SLI Is Glowing

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 23, 2014 - 11:41 PM |
Tagged: sli, nvidia

SLI Bridges are thrown in with compatible motherboards and there is usually little reason to want anything else. They work. There is no performance advantage for getting a "better" one, unless it does not connect with your specific arrangement of two-to-four cards. Today, NVIDIA gives another reason: a soft, beautiful glow to match the green "GeForce GTX" on the cards themselves.

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Mind you, this is not the first glowing SLI Bridge. EVGA even provided us with a few of their own for a giveaway last year.

NVIDIA has three models, depending on the layout of your cards. 3-way SLI will need to be arranged as a series of two-wide with no gaps, using the "3-Way SLI Bridge". 2-way configurations have the choice of two empty slots between the two-wide cards, or no gap; former would purchase the "2-Way Spaced SLI Bridge" and the later, the "2-Way SLI Bridge". They each require GeForce GTX 770 cards, or better, as well as a recent GeForce Experience (1.7+). Certain non-reference designs may be incompatible.

The SLI Bridges are available now. Both 2-Way bridges are $29.99 and the 3-Way is $39.99.

Source: NVIDIA

Tranquil MonoOne Is a Fanless All-in-One

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 23, 2014 - 05:34 PM |
Tagged: transquil, monoone, all-in-one, fanless

This announcement does not have too much information to go on, but Tranquil PC is launching their MonoOne all-in-one PC at the end of the month. It will be fanless and milled out of solid aluminum. This solid chunk of metal helps keep the device cool. It is a large mass of metal with fins cut out of it for extra surface area.

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Specifications are not listed. We do not even know the screen resolution, processor, drive, I/O ports, or RAM. Current speculation is that it will use a low power Core-level CPU. It looks like it has a removable metal stand and a VESA mount for the wall. In fact, it looks like the stand is attached by the bottom two wall-mount points but I cannot see for sure.

The MonoOne launches at the end of September.

Source: Tranquil

UPS Store Expands 3D Printing Services

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2014 - 03:35 PM |
Tagged: ups, ups store, 3d printer, 3d printing

If you have a few 3D objects that you would like to make physical, it might not make sense to purchase a whole MakerBot Replicator or equivalent device. To print, fax, and copy shops, the third dimension seemed like a natural extension to their business model (because it literally an upward extension on their previous service).

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

One such retailer is The UPS Store, and they just announced that their six-location test was successful. They are now expanding to "nearly 100 additional locations nationwide". Their "Find a Location" page currently lists 45 locations which, I assume, will be appended as more stores setup with the required hardware and training.

Unfortunately, being Canadian, I cannot utilize any of these yet. I could see this being mostly useful, for me, if I wanted to print out an original 3D figurine or sculpture as a gift. Others could make replacement parts and so forth.

UPS Store has not given a timeline to complete this rollout.

Source: UPS

Blizzard Cancels Their MMO, Titan

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2014 - 03:12 PM |
Tagged: blizzard, titan, MMO, mmorpg

Titan has been officially canceled by Blizzard after a year and a half delay. Since around May of 2013, the developer attempted to "reset" the project by shrinking its staff down to a core group of thirty, down from a hundred. This team wanted Titan to embody their wildest ambitions, but they realized that it was not going to be fun. "Fun" is not the goal of every game, nor should it be.

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If "fun" was the intention though, and it isn't, then you have a problem.

As for the employees, there does not seem to be any discussion of lay-offs. 16 months ago, when the team was downsized from 100 to 30, Blizzard claimed that its staff would be reassigned to other projects. The smaller, core team is not mentioned today at all, positively or negatively. Whether that is a good sign, and why it never came up in the inteview, is still unknown. Hopefully they will be transferred to an existing game or service, or work on a different, new product.

Source: Polygon

If you like DisplayPort 1.3 wait until you meet USB 3.1

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2014 - 09:44 AM |
Tagged: 4k, vesa, dockport, displayport 1.3, usb 3.1, DisplayPort Alternate Mode

The bilateral symmetry of the Type C plug has already put smiles on many faces, not having to flip the USB connector three times to find the right plug orientation will be a nice treat and steal some thunder from Apple's Lightning.  That is not all that USB 3.1 will be bringing however, 10Gbps of data throughput and up to 100W on a single cable have also been announced as part of the new standards capabilities.  There is something new today as well, support for DisplayPort over USB 3.1 which will perhaps only be available over specialized cables but could become a standard feature. 

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DisplayPort Alternate Mode takes advantage of the nature of USB 3.1 which offers four lanes for traffic to pass through, with a choice of USB data at up to 10Gbps per lane, up to 100W of power, DisplayPort AV at up to 8.1Gbps or at DP 1.2a speeds of 5.4Gbps which is likely the top speed on the first cables released.   For those initial cables you will need all four available lanes to be able to display at 4k resolutions but once the speed is increased to 1.3's 8.1Gbps you should be able to see VESA's promise of 4k video, Superspeed USB data and up to 100 Watts of power over a single cable.  Even when all four lanes are devoted to DisplayPort to run 5k video the cable will still support USB 2.0 speeds thanks yo separate pins dedicated for that function.

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"The new Type C USB connector is causing a lot of excitement, thanks in part to its reversibility (you can plug it in either way up) and high rates of data and power transfer. But there's now another reason to buy into in: DisplayPort support."

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Source: VESA

Sleeping Dogs Developer's Triad Wars Is PC Exclusive

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2014 - 08:43 PM |
Tagged: united front, triad wars, square enix, sleeping dogs

Triad Wars, set in the Sleeping Dogs universe, takes the setting into an online "open-world" game that is exclusively for the PC. United Front, the developer of both Sleeping Dogs and this title, is said to be partnering with Nexon to make it a free-to-play game, at least last we heard. Suddenly, PC-exclusivity makes a lot of sense. The game is currently in closed beta, which they are accepting applications for, but it is set to launch in 2015.

The most weird part, to me at least, is that Square Enix is still involved with the title and Nexon is mentioned nowhere (outside of the aforementioned statement by United Front's CEO's from last June). United Front is definitely the developer, okay, but how are the other two companies involved, specifically? Did Nexon get pushed out? How is Square involved, other than hosting the accounts? No clue. Perhaps this will be answered in tomorrow's Reddit AMA. We'll see.

Triad Wars is expected to be Free-to-Play and officially launch in 2015.

Source: United Front

ASUS and Robert Morris University Partner for "eSports"

Subject: General Tech, Displays | September 22, 2014 - 08:00 PM |
Tagged: esports, asus, vg248qe

I am a little torn about the term "eSports". Yes, I've used it. It is the accepted name. According to the definition, it mostly fits its role. Grammar and language are also fluid concepts, too. They can mean different things as time passes. I guess my real problem is that it attempts to snuggle up to "sports" for acceptance, but maintains a single-letter divider (unlike golf and, to some extent, curling). In my opinion, it is either a sport or it is something else entirely (a game, maybe?).

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Apparently they support StarCraft, too.

Also, it should be considered legitimate. Spectator sports are for entertainment, and "eSports" are entertaining to watch. Sure, it is not for everyone -- but neither is any other sport.

Two organizations that do consider it legitimate is ASUS and Robert Morris University (RMU). The college has recently announced scholarships for the top League of Legends players. After all, a sports scholarship is just an advertisement expense from the university's view. That applies to any sports scholarship. The point is to lure students to your campus and spectators to sporting events. Consistent winnings and great players gets your name out there on both fronts. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as they uphold a high standard of education, too.

Today's news is that ASUS partnered with RMU to provide "over three dozen" monitors to the university. Specifically, the VG248QE 24-inch, 144Hz display. This is almost $10,000 USD of hardware at current retail price. The press release is unclear whether ASUS donated the panels, or if they were sold at a discount. I reached out to the university over Twitter for clarification.

Honestly, I find this interesting and an innovative extension on old practices.

Source: ASUS

Grand Theft Auto V on PC Has First Person Mode???

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2014 - 05:59 PM |
Tagged: GTA5

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So... uh... this might happen. Apparently, there was a Google Cache posting of a Rockstar Games support page which claimed several new features for Grand Theft Auto V on the PC.

A brand new first person mode for vehicles that shows the interior of the vehicle, including working speedometers, tachometers, dash lights, and more

(...)

A brand new first person mode while on foot

The most weird part is that it was listed in a part of the page, unfortunately deleted from Google Cache, that seemed to list PC-exclusive features. That is, not exclusive to the re-release for PS4, Xbox One, and PC -- just exclusive to the PC. This is, of course, going by memory. I could have misread it the first time, before it was deleted.

Also, since no-one seems to have seen the page outside of Google Cache, it could have (somehow) been a faked injection. I can confirm that it existed on Google Cache from a Rockstar-owned URL, though. I've never heard of that happening before, but PC Gamer seems to have heard of it.

Hey, if that list was the reason for the delay, I'll take it, Rockstar. I don't approve of the other platforms getting an inferior experience without a technical reason, being a PC gamer for so long makes me empathetic, but maybe it will come to them. Often PC versions were cut down and delayed out of fear of development costs and piracy. Maybe, in this case, they took that time to make a better product. That would be novel.

Grand Theft Auto V for the PC is coming on January 27th, 2014 2015.

Source: PC Gamer

Final Fantasy XIII, XIII-2, and Lightning Returns Comes to PC

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2014 - 02:50 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, final fantasy xv, final fantasy xiii, final fantasy

Square Enix is "very interested" in the PC platform. They acknowledge that the Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII Steam re-releases were quite popular. These titles were originally released on the PC in 1998 and 2000, respectively. They are now interested enough to bring the three titles in the Final Fantasy XIII universe to Steam that were Xbox 360 and PS3 exclusives. Also, the first title is launching for $16, $14.39 on pre-order, so they are not even gouging us with a full-price tag.

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The first title will be available in two and a half weeks (October 9th). The other two are expected to roll out by Spring 2015. Also, Final Fantasy IV was released on September 17th. They are actually releasing them faster than most people can probably play them. The flood gates are open. In their Final Fantasy XIII news post, PC Gamer muses about the rest of the franchise reaching the PC, such as FFX and FFX-2. It would make sense. I mean, they released (or are working on) seven remakes, not even counting the two MMOs. That is already a large chunk of the main franchise.

Personally, I wonder if this is testing the waters for Final Fantasy XV.

Final Fantasy XIII is being released on October 9th for about $15, give or take a dollar.

Source: PC Gamer