Carmack Speaks

Last week we were in Dallas, Texas covering Quakecon 2011 as well as hosting our very own PC Perspective Hardware Workshop.  While we had over 1100 attendees at the event and had a blast judging the case mod contest, one of the highlights of the event is always getting to sit down with John Carmack and pick his brain about topics of interest.  We got about 30 minutes of John's time over the weekend and pestered him with questions about the GPU hardware race, how Intel's intergrated graphics (and AMD Fusion) fit in the future of PCs, the continuing debate about ray tracing, rasterization, voxels and infinite detail engines, key technologies for PC gamers like multi-display engines and a lot more!

One of our most read articles of all time was our previous interview with Carmack that focused a lot more on the ray tracing and rasterization debate.  If you never read that, much of it is still very relevant today and is worth reading over. 

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This year though John has come full circle on several things including ray tracing, GPGPU workloads and even the advantages that console hardware has over PC gaming hardware.

Continue reading to see the full video interview and our highlights from it!!

USB 3.0 Will Deliver 100 Watts Of Power In 2012

Subject: General Tech | August 11, 2011 - 08:15 PM |
Tagged: usb 3.0, external drive

USB 2.0 brought us 480Mb/s transfer speeds and 2.5 watts of power over the cable. This required either a second USB cable for additional power or a plug in power adapter. Either way, it was a hassle to power even moderately speedy external hard drives.

USB 3.0 brought a massive speed increase to 5Gb/s transfer speeds; however, power only received a relatively small bump to 4.5 watts of power over the cable (900mA at 5V). While the bump in power can now more easily power most external hard drives, power hungry high speed mechanical and solid state hard drives that are able to fully take advantage of the speed increases of USB 3.0 will still require additional power.

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A USB powered flux capacitor.

In an interesting move by the USB 3.0 Promoters Group, a new USB 3 specification will provide up to 100 watts of power at varying voltages to external devices. This great increase in power would allow users to power external USB monitors without a separate power adapter, RAID enclosures, desk lamps, USB grills (okay, maybe not), and other multiple hard drive external enclosures like the Drobo boxes.

While the new specification is due out next year (2012), it will be some time before hardware (specifically power supplies) catches up to the specification’s maximum power draw. Do you think the move to deliver more power through the USB 3 cable is a good one, or will the increased complexity of delivering 100 watts over the same cable delivering data outweigh the convenience of only needing a single cable?

Source: Ars Technica

Podcast #165 - QuakeCon 2011, MSI's GTX580 Lightning, Intel 710 SSDs, Ultrabooks and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 11, 2011 - 02:27 PM |
Tagged: podcast, pcper, nvidia, msi, Intel, GTX580, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #165 - 8/11/2011

This week we talk about QuakeCon 2011, MSI's GTX580 Lightning, Intel 710 SSDs, Ultrabooks 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:25:12

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:27 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:02:02 Quakecon 2011 and our Workshop - Postmortem
    1. Day 1 Coverage
    2. Day 2 Coverage
    3. Day 3 Coverage
  6. 0:18:05 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  7. 0:18:54 MSI N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition Review: What a GTX 580 Should Be
  8. 0:30:18 Antec High Current Gamer HCG-750 PSU Review
  9. 0:31:30 Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Review - The Best Android Tablet?
  10. 0:32:16 Just Delivered Exclusive: PNY XLR8 Liquid Cooled GTX 580 Combo
    1. ZOTAC Unveils Water-Cooling Solutions
  11. 0:36:40 Let us do some math, shall we? The cost of consoles
  12. 0:41:46 Intel 710 SSD Prices Leaked
  13. 0:47:40 ExpressCard trying to pull a (not so) fast one?
  14. 0:55:30 NVIDIA Outlines Multi-GPU and Cloud Graphics With Project Maximus and Virtual Graphics Technologies
  15. 1:06:50 Will Intel's Ultrabook form factor come with an integral Achilles Heel?
    1. Intel bets $300m on their Ultrabook-ie. Next step: broken legs.
  16. 1:09:15 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Blackmagic Intensity card 
    2. Jeremy: Strangely, I find myself thinking kindly upon BigFoot Networks
    3. Josh: http://www.faststone.org/FSResizerDetail.htm
    4. Allyn: http://pastebin.com and Ghostery
  17. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  18. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  19. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  20. 1:23:50 Closing
Source:

Eculideon's unlimited fiddly bits

Subject: General Tech | August 11, 2011 - 11:34 AM |
Tagged: infinite graphics, euclideon, particle cloud

If you have yet to stumble upon the YouTube video which began the debate, you should book 10 minutes to sit and watch the demonstration and explanation to make sure you understand what Euclideon's unlimited graphics are about.   The Aussie company Euclideon have developed a way to translate polygon based 3D objects, the most common method used in games since sprites, into a cloud of particles which define the volume and surface of the object.  They currently claim 64 'atoms' per mm3, which has a very significant impact on the quality of the rendered object.  Previous to their project, these point clouds were only used for medical imaging and other professional applications due to the serious hardware requirements to render more than just a handful of objects.  Euclideon seems to have managed a way to sidestep the hardware problems and have made it possible for point clouds to be rendered without needing a Fermi farm in your house.  Even better they claim they have working translation software which can take objects created in common polygon based 3D design programs like Maya and transform them into point cloud objects.

If you think this sounds too good to be true, you are not alone in your doubt.  Before make the horrible mistake of using the YouTube comments to inform your decision, head to [H]ard|OCP.  They have posted an interview they conducted with Euclideon on their new rendering software, which will teach you a lot more than the semi-coherent statements under the YouTube video.  It is almost a full hour long, so get comfortable before you start.

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"Euclideon has come under fire for its Unlimited Detail Technology claims once again. Instead of sitting around discussing it among ourselves, we sent John Gatt to Brisbane, Australia to talk to the man himself with Euclideon, Bruce Dell. We show you the demo running in real time with hardware specs and answer a lot of questions, all in video."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Intel bets $300m on their Ultrabook-ie. Next step: broken leg

Subject: General Tech, Systems | August 10, 2011 - 10:23 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, Intel

Intel has this little platform that they are attempting to push against the world known as the Ultrabook, a category of ultra-thin and light laptops that range 11-inch to 17-inch screens with high performance and high price. The actual cost of an Ultrabook is somewhat hotly debated between Intel and others. On the Intel side of the fence, the claim for the cost of parts in an Ultrabook range between $475 and $710; this bill of materials comes days after manufacturers discussed component costs around the $1000 mark. To further push the Ultrabook platform, Intel just released a statement announcing a $300 million fund to invest in technologies that further the Ultrabook platform.

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Is Intel getting themselves into a jackpot?

Intel described their intents with the fund in this snippet from their press release:

Ultrabooks will deliver a highly responsive and secure experience in a thin, light and elegant design and at mainstream prices. To help realize that vision, the Intel Capital Ultrabook Fund aims to invest in companies building hardware and software technologies focused on enhancing how people interact with Ultrabooks such as through sensors and touch, achieving all day usage through longer battery life, enabling innovative physical designs and improved storage capacity. The overall goal of the fund, which will be invested over the next 3-4 years, is to create a cycle of innovation and system capabilities for this new and growing category of mobile devices.

It looks as though Intel is putting their money where their mouth is. While $300 million is not exactly huge in the scale of Intel revenue it is a substantial sum and equal (less inflation) to what they used to back Centrino over eight years ago. While their last investment went to subsidizing wireless access points, marketing, and similar programs this investment should be mostly focused on the technology itself -- both hardware and software -- with battery, input, and interface specifically mentioned. Part of me muses about Meego in terms of the Ultrabook platform potentially even as a supplement to Windows. We shall see what Intel has in store for the platform that could, and bludgeoned forward with heaps of raw cash when it could not.

Read on for the press release in full.

Soldner is free, find out if it is a game too ambitious to be or a really well done troll

Subject: General Tech | August 10, 2011 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: gaming, soldner, free

Söldner (Marine Corps) Community Edition is now free (as in beer) and you really should pick it up as it is well worth the price.  If memory serves it was originally a buggy game that reached for the sky without paying attention to their footing, it is now an even buggier game with extra vehicles and features.   At one point the game would handle 100 people playing, 50 to a team, which was even more confusing than you think.  Terrain could be destroyed, though with some intersting clipping issues you could also discover small hills and other terrain that would kill you for touching it ... they were definately not lava.  Hit the link at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN and try it for yourself.

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"Oh my goodness, I have no idea how this news has taken five days to reach me, but by golly thank goodness it finally has. Söldner, one of the most buggy and hilarious games of all time, is now completely free! Get it. Get it NOW."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

BigFoot Networks may have found their Killer app

Subject: General Tech | August 10, 2011 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: killer nic, bigfoot, wireless, Killer-N 1102

The KillerNIC has had an odd relationship with the PC world, with most reviewers initial impression being that of a solution in search of a problem.  In some cases when a person wanted to get fancy with downloading torrents, especially when they were gaming online at the same time, the initial product did offer some advantages.  From there it found its self integrated onto some high end motherboards, offering more features than a regular gigabit NIC but again offering limited benefits.

New to the market is the Bigfoot Killer-N 1102 Wireless N device, integrated into some new laptops.  AnandTech had a chance to try it out; once they could determine a way to review a wireless device.  Finally it seems that BigFoot managed to knock one out of the park, the performance was significantly better than what is offered by the current generic wireless NICs present in most laptops.  Check out why it is such an improvement in their full review.

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"With that out of the way, let’s discuss what Bigfoot brings to the table, specifically with their Killer 1102 part. Note that there is a faster Killer 1103 part now shipping with 3x3:3 MIMO support; we will try to get a sample for future testing, but for now we’ll confine our benchmarks to the 1102. The core hardware actually comes from a well-known wireless networking company, Atheros. The 1102 uses the AR9382 wireless chipset, but Bigfoot has added their own “special sauce” to improve performance."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: AnandTech

AMD will be snubbing the smartphone

Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2011 - 03:30 PM |
Tagged: amd, tablet, smartphones, trinity

In a revent interview, AMD's SVP and GM, Rick Bergman restated that AMD has no current plans in the works to jump to the handheld market.  They will continue to focus on their current product lines and that the only ultramobile development currently underway is for tablets.  That could help them get a leg up on Intel's Atom, as Intel is definitely making a move for the hand held market.  Focusing on tablets gives them a less strict power limitation and may just give them a boost as they push to the 28nm process with only one ultra low power Trinity APU product line to design.  Check out The Inquirer for more.

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"CHIP DESIGNER AMD has ruled out making a move in the smartphone market, preferring to concentrate on tablets.

Rick Bergman, SVP and GM of AMD's products group told a conference that the chip designer has no plans to get into the smartphone market, saying that its expertise in graphics does not suit that market. Instead it will be up to AMD's Z-series embedded chip to push X86 into the tablet market."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Nearly Half of Organizations Have Lost Sensitive or Confidential Information on USB Drives in Just the Past Two Years

Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2011 - 01:27 PM |
Tagged: security, fud

The next time your boss complains when you suggest that picking up secure USB sticks because of the price, you might want to reference this report from Kingston which details several horror stories of what happens with a lax policy towards portable storage.  We have seen Stuxnet recently, as well there is a long list of tricks that can be played with USB devices with the U3 autorun present on many USB devices. 

This goes far beyond just a complaint about using USB sticks received for free at trade shows or picked up on discount from Costco, the report cites an instance where unmarked USB sticks were left in obvious spots in government parking lots and over half of them ended up being plugged into the wok PC of the person who found it.   Maybe now spending a little extra on secure USB sticks will seem a little more attractive to the beancounters.

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Fountain Valley, CA -- August 9, 2011 -- Kingston Digital, Inc., the Flash memory affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, Inc., the independent world leader in memory products, today announced the results of a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute looking at USB prevalence and risk in organizations. The study found that inexpensive consumer USB Flash drives are ubiquitous in all manner of enterprise and government environments ― typically with very little oversight or controls, even in the face of frequent and high profile incidents of sensitive data loss. The Ponemon Institute is an independent group that conducts studies on critical issues affecting the management and security of sensitive information about people and organizations.

The study underscores the pressing need for organizations to adopt more secure USB products and policies. A group of 743 IT professionals and IT security practitioners from global companies based in the United States were polled, and all acknowledged the importance of USB drives from a productivity standpoint. They cautioned, however, about the lack of organizational focus regarding security for these tools to meet appropriate data protection and business objectives.

The most recent example of how easily rogue USB drives can enter an organization can be seen in a U.S. Department of Homeland Security test in which USBs were ‘accidentally’ dropped in government parking lots. Without any identifying markings on the USB stick, 60 percent of employees plugged the drives into government computers. With a ‘valid’ government seal, the plug-in rate reached 90 percent.

According to the Ponemon study, more than 40 percent of organizations surveyed report having more than 50,000 USB drives in use in their organizations, with nearly 20 percent having more than 100,000 drives in circulation. The study finds that a whopping 71 percent of respondents do not consider the protection of confidential and sensitive information on USB Flash drives to be a high priority. At the same time, the majority of these same respondents feel that data breaches are caused by missing USB drives.

The Ponemon study concluded that a staggering 12,000 customer, consumer and employee records were believed to be lost on average by these same companies as a result of missing USBs. According to a previously released Ponemon report, the average cost of a data breach is $214 per record, making the potential average total cost of lost records to the organizations surveyed for the Ponemon USB Flash drive study, reach upwards of $2.5 million (USD). Other key findings in the report include:

Evidence of widespread compromise is apparent:

  • Nearly 50 percent of organizations confirmed lost drives containing sensitive or confidential information in the past 24 months.
  • The majority of those organizations (67 percent) confirmed that they had multiple loss events – in some cases, more than 10 separate events.

Oversight and control of USBs in enterprises can be better:

  • Free USB sticks from conferences/trade shows, business meetings and similar events are used by 72 percent of employees ― even in organizations that mandate the use of secure USBs.
  • In terms of policies and controls, of the hundreds of IT professionals and IT security professionals polled, only 29 percent felt that their organizations had adequate policies to prevent USB misuse.

“An unsecured USB drive can open the door for major data loss incidents,” said Larry Ponemon, Chairman and Founder of the Ponemon Institute. “Organizations watch very carefully, and put a plethora of controls around, what enters their businesses from cyberspace. This study drives home the point that they must also take a more aggressive stance on addressing the risks that exist in virtually every employee’s pocket.”

“Kingston believes a lack of oversight, education and corporate confusion are factors that lead to the overwhelming majority of data loss when it comes to USB Flash drives,” said John Terpening, Secure USB business manager, Kingston. “Organizations fear that any attempt to control a device like a USB is likely to be futile and costly, both in terms of budget and loss of productivity. However, a simple analysis of what an organization needs and the knowledge that there is a range of easy-to-use, cost-effective, secure USB Flash drive solutions can go a long way toward enabling organizations and their employees to get a handle on the issue.”

The full report can be downloaded from the Kingston Web site.

Source: Kingston

Who needs a Kinect when you have Razer's Hydra

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2011 - 04:13 PM |
Tagged: input, kinect, razer hydra

 The Razer Hydra bears a small resemblance to the Wii controller at first glance but that is quickly dispelled when you realize you get two devices to hold.  Both have 4 face buttons, a 'start' button, a clickable analog stick and two bumper triggers, which give you enough input options for PC gaming.  The wired base station these controllers use senses the small magnetic field the controllers emit, which is how the motion sensing capabilities work.  That field was not enough to disturb any of tbreak's other equipment which is vital to the success of the controller.  As for gaming?  With Portal 2 they had a blast, but when it came to other shooters ... not so much.

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"The Hydra is not spectacularly different, it uses the same nun-chuck approach of the Wii, however it’s technology and precision far outclasses Nintendo’s toy. According to Razer, the Hydra uses magnetic forces to detect the exact location and orientation of the controllers and delivers an “ultra-low latency”, “fluid and precise” gaming experience."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: tbreak