Volition to Release Saint's Row IV Mod Kit

Subject: General Tech | August 31, 2014 - 05:15 PM |
Tagged: Saints Row IV, mod, pc gaming

I just finished discussing how Grand Theft Auto IV's mod community thrives almost in spite of not having an official toolkit. Apparently, at PAX 2014, Volition announced that Saint's Row IV's official development kit will be released to the public. This follows their announcements of Saint's Row 4: Re-elected, an updated version for PS4 and Xbox One, and Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, a spin-off of Saint's Row IV for the PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, and Windows PC, that claims to place the Third Street Saints in a Disney-esque musical set in Hell.

As usual, I encourage as many developers as possible to release their development tools to the community. If you have a good game, and the community believes they could make it even better, that could help you. This seems obvious but has some development costs and (irrational?) fear of eating into DLC sales. On the other hand, it could help promote your product and its DLC, spin-offs, and so forth... see above.

Source: Joystiq

Watch_Dogs Mod for Grand Theft Auto IV

Subject: General Tech | August 31, 2014 - 04:40 PM |
Tagged: watch_dogs, watch dogs, pc gaming, mod, GTA4

If you are not in our IRC chat room, at irc.pcper.com in the #pcper channel, then you could be missing out. We often promote the forums, especially when they review components or host a LAN party, the chatroom is populated just about 24/7. A couple of days ago, KngtRider, IRC regular and owner of Nitroware, an Australian computer hardware news and review website, dropped me a link to a Grand Theft Auto IV mod that adds Watch Dogs elements. You can see the main features in the video below.

The level to which Grand Theft Auto games have been modded is surprising, especially since the tools are community-developed (unless I am completely mistaken). In this mod, the player is able to hack into cameras, ATMs, lights, and even blackout the area around his or her character. The developers even add in a custom HUD, the new wanted level system, and take down attacks.

While I did not try it, the video is impressive. For more information, check out the Kotaku article.

Source: Kotaku

Creative Introduces Sound Blaster E5 Portable USB DAC and Headphone Amp

Subject: General Tech | August 30, 2014 - 11:44 AM |
Tagged: usb, Portable Audio, headphones, Headphone Amp, DAC, D/A Converter, Cirrus Logic

Creative has added a new member to their portable Sound Blaster "E" series lineup with the E5. 

SoundBlaster_E5.png

This new multi-function DAC and headphone amp features a reference-grade D/A converter chip from Cirrus Logic, the CS4398, which supports up to 24-bit/192kHz PCM audio (and technically DSD 2.8MHz/5.6MHz, though this does not seem to be implemented here). In addition to the realistic analog reproduction possible from a high quality chip like the CS4398, the Sound Blaster E5 provides amplification via a Texas Instruments TI6120A2, which Creative says gives the E5 a "best-in-class 600 ohm headphone amplifier".

Another aspect of the E5 that sets it apart from the previous E1 and E3 models is the inclusion of optical digital input/output, to go along with USB and dual 3.5" headphone jacks. The two 3.5" jacks can simultaniously drive two pairs of headphones, and on the back of the unit there are additional 3.5" jacks for microphone input, line input/output, and these double as optical input/output via mini TOSLINK. (This might be geared for portable use, but would serve as a fine external sound solution for desktops as well!)

feature_10.jpg

The input stage of the E5 uses another Cirrus Logic chip, the CS5361, enabling high quality recording options from various sources at up to same 24-bit/192kHz. While supporting external microphones (as well as line/optical input) the E5 also has "built-in beamforming CrystalVoice microphones for audio recording and calls". And while the E5 is employing Creative's SBX sound processing chip, this DSP can be switched off with a button on the side of the device - a welcome option for serious music listening from high-resolution source material.

feature_04_high.jpg

The Sound Blaster E5 also supports digital input from iPhone and "select" Android phones (listed compatible devices include the Samsung Galaxy S4/S5, Galaxy Note 2/3, and Nexus 5/7). For portable use the E5 has a built-in rechargeable 3200mAh lithium polymer battery, which Creative says will provide up to 8 hours of playback per charge.

The Sound Blaster E5 will be available in October for $199 at Creative's online store (and likely various other retail outlets).

Source: Creative

New Haswell's aren't just for the desktop, they go in the server room too

Subject: General Tech | August 29, 2014 - 12:55 PM |
Tagged: Intel, Haswell-EP, E5-2600v3, hp, proliant

HP is releasing numerous new systems that will be running the Haswell-EP E5-2600v3, a tower format ML350 and the rack-mount DL360 and DL380 systems as well as a BL460c blade server and two brand new entry level models, the racked DL360e and DL380e.  These systems will be optimized heavily to take advantage of a proprietary PCI Express workload accelerator, HP Smartcache, HP DDR4 SmartMemory and Flexfabric adapters.  We won't see pricing until the release date of September 8 but until then you can check out the some of the stats at The Register.

hp-dl380-gen9-540x334.jpg

"The Gen9 Proliant systems will be made available on 8 September, HP said at the London launch event, and will be based on Intel's upcoming Xeon E5-2600v3 processors, which the chipmaker has yet to release."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Podcast #315 - AMD Radeon R7 SSD, Haswell-E Rumors, Radeon R9 285, and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 28, 2014 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, radeon r7 ssd, Haswell-E, r9 285, haf stacker, coolermaster, Broadwell, nuc, zotac, zbox pico

PC Perspective Podcast #315 - 08/28/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD Radeon R7 SSD, Haswell-E Rumors, Radeon R9 285, 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

Program length: 1:22:59
 

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

 

ASUS Quietly Refreshes Its Transformer T100 Tablet With New Hardware and Color Options

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | August 28, 2014 - 01:30 PM |
Tagged: Windows 8.1, transformer t100, Intel, Bay Trail, Atom Z3775, asus

Following rumors earlier this summer, ASUS has quietly refreshed its Transformer T100 tablet. ASUS is now offering T100 tablet versions in multiple colors with a faster Intel Bay Trail processor as well as a version that retains the original SoC but adds a 500GB hard drive to the keyboard dock. I have been keeping an eye on the T100 since it first launched almost a year ago at IFA 2013, and have been eagerly waiting for the rumored refresh. Fortunately, that wait is now over because the updated Transformer T100s are finally starting to appear and be available for purchase on retailers' websites (first at Tiger Direct, then Amazon, and others now).

ASUS T100 Red Windows 8 Tablet.jpg

The T100 is now available in red and white as well as the original gray. The red and white SKUs feature a higher end Bay Trail SoC while the updated gray SKU comes with a 500GB mechanical hard drive nested inside the keyboard dock. The table below lists the model numbers for the new tablets. I should note that there are conflicting specifications at different retailers for the model numbers listed, which makes this under-the-radar refresh so frustrating, but after a bit of digging I believe the specifications to be accurate and any conflicting information to simply be errors on the part of those retailers.

New ASUS Transformer T100 Tablet SKUs (T100 Refresh)
Model Numbers Processor Internal Storage Color Price (Amazon) Price (MSRP)
T100TA-C1-WH(S) Intel Z3775 64GB eMMC White $394.99 $399
T100TA-C1-RD(S) Intel Z3775 64GB eMMC Red $388.99 $399
T100TA-C1-GR(S) Intel Z3775 64GB eMMC Gray $329.99 $399
T100TA-H2-GR Intel Z3740 64GB eMMC + 500GB HDD Gray $449.99 $?
T100TA-H1-GR Intel Z3740 32GB eMMC + 500GB HDD Gray $369.00 $399

The new colors are nice (I'm partial to the red T100), but the upgraded processor is the truly interesting bit about this Windows tablet (which won PC Perspective's "Best Hardware of 2013" award). The original T100 launched with an Intel Atom Z3740 SoC an the refreshed Transformer T100 uses a higher clocked Atom Z3775. The Z3775 is a higher-end Intel Bay Trail processor with four Silvermont CPU cores clocked at 1.46GHz that can boost to as high as 2.39GHz. The HD Graphics GPU retains the same base clockspeed as the Z3740 but has a higher turbo frequency of 778MHz (versus 667MHz on the Z3740). The table below lists the specifications of the two chips. The new SoC has significantly higher CPU clocks and a decent boost to potential GPU horsepower (thermals permitting).

Intel Atom SoC Z3740 Z3775
CPU Cores 4 x "Silvermont" Cores 4 x "Silvermont" Cores
CPU Clockspeeds (Base/Boost) 1.33GHz / 1.86GHz 1.46GHz / 2.39GHz
HD Graphics GPU Clockspeeds (Base/Boost) 311MHz / 667MHz 311MHz / 778MHz
L2 Cache 2MB 2MB
Memory Support 4GB 1066MHz 4GB 1066MHz
SDP 2W 2W
Process Node 22nm 22nm
Tray Price $32.00 $35.00

The refreshed T100 has an MSRP of $399 USD for the red and white versions with 64GB eMMC storage and gray SKU with 32GB internal storage and 500GB keyboard dock though retail prices are slightly less than that at the time of writing. The Transformer T100 with 64GB eMMC and additional 500GB hard drive has a retail price of around $450 but the MSRP is unknown.

ASUS T100 White WIndows Tablet.jpg

If you have been holding off, now is a good time to pick up an updated version for a small price premium (or an older version at a discount!). However, if you already own a T100, the relatively minor update will is a hard to justify upgrade (you would likely be better off waiting on Cherry Trail-based devices with better battery life or other improvements as possible upgrades).

WinXP Service Pack 4, but from a third party

Subject: General Tech | August 28, 2014 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: windows xp

Would you trust a third party developer to provide you with a new service pack for Windows XP?  There is currently a beta version of SP4 developed by one 'harkaz' that you can download and install by following the link at The Inquirer on 32-bit versions of XP with at least SP1 installed.  There are updates to .NET, MCE and a variety of hotfixes in the Service Pack so the majority of the patches are already officially available as individual updates from Windows Update, just rolled into one easy to install package.  The one major change is the POSready registry setting which will allow machines to get the updates intended for Windows XP Embedded which is supported until 2019.  Check it out, if you dare.

windows_xp_logo.jpg

"The developer, who is known as "harkaz", has been working on the service pack since last September. It will work on any version of Windows XP with at least Service Pack 1 applied and can easily be slipstreamed into installation media for fresh installs."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Broadwell Intel NUCs Being Developed. Rumored Q1 2015?

Subject: General Tech, Systems | August 27, 2014 - 08:27 PM |
Tagged: Intel, nuc, Broadwell

The Intel NUC is their small computing form factor, packing what is equivalent to an Ultrabook into a chassis that is smaller than a CD spool. The first release came with Ivy Bridge and it was refreshed with Haswell about a year later. FanlessTech has got a hold a... semi-redacted (?)... slideshow presentation that outlines various models and features. Six models are expected, spread out between Q4 2014 (Haswell), Q1 2015 (Broadwell Core iX), and Q2 2015 (Broadwell Celeron).

Note that a typical Intel NUC contains fans, although the company has released a fanless Bay Trail-based model (and third parties have made their own, custom cooled models based on the form factor). I expect that FanlessTech covers it for those two reasons; it does not mean that these models will be passively cooled. In fact, the product matrix claims that none of these new products will be.

Intel-NEW_NUC_3.png

The six models are broken into three code names.

Both Maple Canyon and Rock Canyon cover the Core i3 and i5 processor segments. Both include NFC, an optional 2.5" drive, four external USB 3.0 ports, LAN, a SATA 3 port, and so forth. They begin to diverge in terms of display outputs, however. Rock Canyon, which is targeted at home theater, home office, and gaming, includes one mini HDMI (1.4a) and one mini DisplayPort (1.2) output. Maple Canyon, on the other hand, includes two mini DisplayPort (version unknown, probably also 1.2) connections. While I do not have a slide for Maple Canyon, replacing the mini HDMI for a mini DisplayPort suggests that it will be targeted more at kiosks and other situations where monitors, rather than TVs, will be used.

Intel-NEW_NUC_4.png

One Haswell Core i5-based Maple Canyon NUC is expected for Q4 2014. Maple Canyon with Broadwell Core i3, Maple Canyon with Broadwell Core i5, Rock Canyon with Broadwell Core i3, and Rock Canyon with Broadwell Core i5 are all expected in Q1 2015. All models will accept up to two DIMMs of memory (16 GB max).

Intel-NEW_NUC_7.png

Only one Pinnacle Canyon model is listed. It will be based on Broadwell Celeron, allow up to 8 GB of memory (1 DIMM), and include four USB 3.0 ports (external). Its display configuration is significantly different from Rock Canyon and Maple Canyon, however. It will have one, full-sized HDMI (1.4a) and one VGA output. It will launch in Q2 2015.

For more information, check out the slides at FanlessTech.

Source: FanlessTech

Watch Notch Make a Doom Renderer in Dart and WebGL

Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2014 - 04:54 PM |
Tagged: Notch, webgl, dart, doom

Notch, creator of Minecraft, is developing a rendering engine for Doom in Dart and WebGL (I assume as a hobby). I am a little late to the party, and he has been developing for the last couple of hours now. If you were curious about what it looks like to watch someone develop a 3D rendering engine, this could be your chance. He also interacts with the chatroom, which should be more interesting.

notch-doom-dart-webgl.png

Dart is an open-source programing language that was released by Google in 2011. It compiles to Javascript, but also can be used to make applications via a modified Chromium browser with a direct Dart virtual machine (VM). It can also be run within a command-line.

Watching people program is picking up in popularity. While you would think that this is even more boring than watching people play video games, and you might be right, it could still gain an audience. Epic Games has been working to develop Twitch streaming capabilities directly within Unreal Engine 4's editor, to allow indies (or even large developers) to interact with fans and colleagues.

If interested, check out Notch's stream at Hitbox.tv.

Source: Hitbox.tv

AMD Never Settle Space Edition

Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2014 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: star citizen, never settle, gaming, fragging frogs, amd, alien isolation

With the release of the new GPUs from AMD comes an addition to the Never Settle bundle, aptly named Never Settle Space Edition.  In addition to the games already available on the Never Settle Forever those who buy the new R9 285 will be able to choose from Alien: Isolation, Star Citizen, Space Run and Habit.  You can see a model of the ship that seems to come with Star Citizen at HEXUS.

The Fragging Frogs will be logging in tonight to get in some gaming action after the Podcast, you can see what is planned and make suggestions in this thread on our Forums.

febdb564-5bc4-43ac-bec1-e957de23bc19.jpg

"To coincide with the launch of the AMD Radeon R9 285 graphics cards AMD will augment the Never Settle choices and re-name the bundle as the 'Never Settle Space Edition'. With the newly announced additional quartet of space games AMD graphics card purchasers will have a choice of 31 games to pick though, depending upon what GPUs they buy."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: Hexus