Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2013 - 09:51 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: Volta, nvidia, maxwell, licensing, kepler, Denver, Blogs, arm
Yesterday we all saw the blog piece from NVIDIA that stated that they were going to start licensing their IP to interested third parties. Obviously, there was a lot of discussion about this particular move. Some were in favor, some were opposed, and others yet thought that NVIDIA is now simply roadkill. I believe that it is an interesting move, but we are not yet sure of the exact details or the repercussions of such a decision on NVIDIA’s part.
The biggest bombshell of the entire post was that NVIDIA would be licensing out their latest architecture to interested clients. The Kepler architecture powers the very latest GTX 700 series of cards and at the top end it is considered one of the fastest and most efficient architectures out there. Seemingly, there is a price for this though. Time to dig a little deeper.
Kepler will be the first technology licensed to third party manufacturers. We will not see full GPUs, these will only be integrated into mobile products.
The very latest Tegra parts from NVIDIA do not feature the Kepler architecture for the graphics portion. Instead, the units featured in Tegra can almost be described as GeForce 7000 series parts. The computational units are split between pixel shaders and vertex shaders. They support a maximum compatibility of D3D 9_3 and OpenGL ES 2.0. This is a far cry from a unified shader architecture and support for the latest D3D 11 and OpenGL ES 3.0 specifications. Other mobile units feature the latest Mali and Adreno series of graphics units which are unified and support DX11 and OpenGL ES 3.0.
So why exactly does the latest Tegras not share the Kepler architecture? Hard to say. It could be a variety of factors that include time to market, available engineering teams, and simulations which could dictate if power and performance can be better served by a less complex unit. Kepler is not simple. A Kepler unit that occupies the same die space could potentially consume more power with any given workload, or conversely it could perform poorly given the same power envelope.
We can look at the desktop side of this argument for some kind of proof. At the top end Kepler is a champ. The GTX 680/770 has outstanding performance and consumes far less power than the competition from AMD. When we move down a notch and see the GTX 660 Ti/HD 7800 series of cards, we see much greater parity in performance and power consumptions. Going to the HD 7790 as compared to the 650 Ti Boost, we see the Boost part have slightly better performance but consumes significantly more power. Then we move down to the 650 and 650 Ti and these parts do not consume any more power than the competing AMD parts, but they also perform much more poorly. I know these are some pretty hefty generalizations and the engineers at NVIDIA could very effectively port Kepler over to mobile applications without significant performance or power penalties. But so far, we have not seen this work.
Power, performance, and die area aside there is also another issue to factor in. NVIDIA just announced that they are doing this. We have no idea how long this effort has been going, but it is very likely that it has only been worked on for the past six months. In that time NVIDIA needs to hammer out how they are going to license the technology, how much manpower they must provide licensees to get those parts up and running, and what kind of fees they are going to charge. There is a lot of work going on there and this is not a simple undertaking.
So let us assume that some three months ago an interested partner such as Rockchip or Samsung comes knocking to NVIDIA’s door. They work out the licensing agreements and this takes several months. Then we start to see the transfer of technology between the companies. Obviously Samsung and Rockchip are not going to apply this graphics architecture to currently shipping products, but will instead bundle it in with a next generation ARM based design. These designs are not spun out overnight. For example, the 64 bit ARMv8 designs have been finalized for around a year, and we do not expect to see initial parts being shipped until late 1H 2014. So any partner that decides to utilize NVIDIA’s Kepler architecture for such an application will not see this part be released until 1H 2015 at the very earliest.
Sheild is still based on a GPU posessing separate pixel and vertex shaders. DX11 and OpenGL ES 3.0? Nope!
If someone decides to license this technology from NVIDIA, it will not be of great concern. The next generation of NVIDIA graphics will already be out by that time, and we could very well be approaching the next iteration for the desktop side. NVIDIA plans on releasing a Kepler based mobile unit in 2014 (Logan), which would be a full year in advance of any competing product. In 2015 NVIDIA is planning on releasing an ARM product based on the Denver CPU and Maxwell GPU. So we can easily see that NVIDIA will only be licensing out an older generation product so it will not face direct competition when it comes to GPUs. NVIDIA obviously is hoping that their GPU tech will still be a step ahead of that of ARM (Mali), Qualcomm (Adreno), and Imagination Technologies (PowerVR).
This is an easy and relatively painfree way to test the waters that ARM, Imagination Technologies, and AMD are already treading. ARM only licenses IP and have shown the world that it can not only succeed at it, but thrive. Imagination Tech used to produce their own chips much like NVIDIA does, but they changed direction and continue to be profitable. AMD recently opened up about their semi-custom design group that will design specific products for customers and then license those designs out. I do not think this is a desperation move by NVIDIA, but it certainly is one that probably is a little late in coming. The mobile market is exploding, and we are approaching a time where nearly every electricity based item will have some kind of logic included in it, billions of chips a year will be sold. NVIDIA obviously wants a piece of that market. Even a small piece of “billions” is going to be significant to the bottom line.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 19, 2013 - 09:08 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xbox one, gaming, DRM, disc
Microsoft faced a major backlash from users following the unveiling of its latest Xbox One console. Users were rather unnerved at Microsoft’s reveal that the new console would be required to “phone home” at least once every 24 hours in order to authenticate games and allow sharing. Considering Sony carried forward the disc traditions of the PS3 combined with the user uproar, Microsoft has reconsidered and issued an update to users via a blog post titled (in part) “Your Feedback Matters.”
Amidst the uncertainty caused by various MS sources issuing statements about functionality and DRM that conflict with one another and an air of as-yet-un-announced secrecy pre-E3 where MS released just enough info about the DRM to get users scared (can you tell the way MS handled this irked me?), the company talked about the Xbox One moving forward and taking advantage of the ‘digital age.’ The new console would require online authentication (and daily check-ins), but would also allow sharing of your game library with up to 10 other people, re-downloadable games that can be installed on other consoles (and played) so long as you log into your Xbox Live account (the latter bit is similar in nature to Steam on the PC). Further, disc games could be resold or gifted if the publishers allow it.
That has changed now, however. Microsoft has reconsidered its position and is going back to the way things work(ed) on the existing Xbox 360. Instead of taking the logical approach of keeping with the plan but removing the daily authentication requirement for games if you keep the game disc in the tray, Microsoft has taken their
ball Xbox One controller and completely backtracked.
DRM on the Xbox One is now as follows, and these changes go in place of (not in addition to) the previously announced sharing and reselling functionalities.
For physical disc games:
According to Xbox Wire, after their initial setup and installation, disc-based games will not require an internet connection for offline functionality (though multiplayer components will, obviously, need an active connection). Even better, trading and reselling of disc-based games is no longer limited by publishers. Trading, selling, gifting, renting, et al of physical disc-based games "will work just as it does today on the Xbox 360." Microsoft is also not region locking physical games, which means that you will not have to worry about games purchased abroad working on your console at home.
In order to play disc-based games, you will need to keep the game disc in the tray, even if it is installed on the hard drive, however.
Changes to Downloaded games:
As far as downloadable games, Microsoft is restricting these titles such that they cannot be shared or resold. In the previous model, you would have been able to share the titles with your family, but not anymore. You will still be able to re-download the games.
There is no word on whether or not gamers will still lose access to all of the titles in their game library if their Xbox Live accounts are ever banned. It is likely that gamers will lose any downloadable games though as those are effectively tied to a single Xbox Live account.
While at first glance it may seem as though gamers won this round, in the end no one really won. Instead of Microsoft working around gamers concerns for physical media and moving forward together, it is as though Microsoft has thrown up its hands in frustration, and tossed out all of the innovative aspects for digital/downloadable titles along with the undesirable daily authentication and other invasive DRM measures that gamers clearly indicated they did not want.
I believe that Microsoft should have kept to the original game plan, but added an exception to the daily check-in rules so long as the console was able to authenticate the game offline by identifying a physical game disc in the tray. That way, gamers that are not comfortable with (or able to) keeping the Xbox One connected to the internet could continue to play games using discs while also allowing those with always-on Xbox One consoles the privileges of sharing their libraries. Doing so would have also helped ease the console gaming populance as a whole into Microsoft's ideal digital age once the next Xbox comes out. However, instead of simply toning down the changes, Microsoft has completely backtracked, and now no one wins. Sigh.
What are your thoughts on Microsoft's latest changes to the Xbox One? Was it the right move, or were you looking forward to increased freedom with your digitally-downloaded games?
- The PS4 and Xbox One Hardware Revealed, Console Makers Have Different Goals @ PC Perspective
- E3 2013: Microsoft can ban your Xbox One library @ PC Perspective
Subject: General Tech, Processors | June 19, 2013 - 08:37 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: overclock, amd
Thankfully, they were not "firing" on all four cylinders; while Ryan does prefer thermite, overclockers tend to prefer liquid nitrogen. There are some distinct advantages of ice over fire, the main one for computer users is the potential for massive bumps in frequency and voltage. Of course, you cannot really get any effective use out of a machine that relies on a steady stream of fluid cold enough that it takes less digits to write out its temperature in Kelvin, but a large bump makes good bragging rights.
Finnish overclocker, "The Stilt", managed to push his four-core part to 8000.39 MHz just long enough to have CPU-Z validate his accomplishment. With a frequency multiplier of 63.0 atop a bus speed of 126.99, this gets within 800MHz of the AMD FX-8350 running on just one module (6 of 8 cores disabled) recorded by ASUS late last year.
But no, it will probably not run Crysis.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 19, 2013 - 06:33 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: steam, DRM
You can learn a lot by scanning configuration, registry files, and so forth; many have made off with a successful bounty. Most recently, some Steam Beta users dug around in their user interface (UI) files to notice a few interesting lines, instructing the user that the title they are attempting to launch will kick off a friend it is currently being shared with.
"SteamUI_JoinDialog_SharedLicense_Title" "Shared game library"
"SteamUI_JoinDialog_SharedLicenseLocked_OwnerText" "Just so you know, your games are currently in use by %borrower%. Playing now will send %borrower% a notice that it's time to quit."
"SteamUI_JoinDialog_SharedLicenseLocked_BorrowerText" "This shared game is currently unavailable. Please try against later or buy this game for your own library."
Sure, this whole game DRM issue has been flipping some tables around the industry. Microsoft tried permitting users share games with their family, utilizing about the worst possible PR, and eventually needed to undo that decision. Users would like flexible licensing schemes, but the content industry (including the platform owners like Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony, who receive license fees from game sales) are unwilling to cooperate unless they are assured that users are honest.
Of course, what usually happens is honest users get crapped on and pirates enjoy a better experience, after initial setup.
While there is not much difference, from a high level view, between Steam and the proposed Xbox One, there are a number of differences. The obvious difference is Steam's offline mode, but probably the larger reason is trust. Valve has demonstrated a lot of good faith to their customers; where Microsoft shuts down access to content people paid for, Valve has shown they have intentions for both long-term support and consideration for the user's experience.
Ultimately, I feel as if DRM is not a necessary evil, but while it exists at least there are companies such as Valve who earn trust and use DRM both for and against users. I expect that some day, the industry will turn against DRM either willingly, by legal intervention, or because companies like cdp.pl will use DRM-free as a promotional tool and nibble their way to dominance.
And yes, despite the fact that this will be confused with bias: if you prove that you are untrustworthy before, you will get away with less later regardless of your intentions.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 19, 2013 - 06:16 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: DRM, The Witcher 3, GOG
cdp.pl, formerly CD Projekt, has been one of the last holdouts against DRM. Founders of GoG.com and developer/publisher for The Witcher franchise, they offer a DRM-free platform for users to purchase games. Sure, they are usually good and old ones, aptly enough, but they are confident enough to include their most ambitious titles, The Witcher and The Witcher 2.
With The Witcher 3, we will see the title launch without DRM on GoG, trusting their users will purchase the title and be honest.
Apparently, the game will have a world slightly larger than Skyrim.
Hopefully, with very little empty space.
I have long been a proponent of DRM-free media, as you could probably tell. I believe that DRM-free titles end up netting more sales than the same title would have with encryption; even if that were not true, society is harmed more than enough to justify its non-existence. Sure, we all know unapologetic jerks and they are, indeed, jerks. Just because these jerks exist does not mean your company should, or successfully will, be the alpha a-hole on the a-hole food-chain. Chances are you will just upset your actual customers, now former customers. There are reasons why I never purchased (never pirated either, I just flat-out ignored the entire franchise's existence) another Crysis title after the first one's SecuROM debacle wrecked my camcorder's DVD-authoring software.
So, when The Witcher 3 comes out, back it up on your external hard drive and maybe even keep a copy on your home theater PC. Most importantly, buy it... sometime in 2014.
Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2013 - 03:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: witcher 2, mod, gaming
The Witcher is a series which some gamers have completely missed, labeling it yet another 3rd person hack n' slash, Elder Scroll-ish game that hasn't got much going for it. However this impression is inaccurate, at least in part. While it is indeed a 3rd person game there is a much richer storyline behind the monsters, one which is a bit more adult themed than in similar games, with political manipulations and no real heroes to speak of, merely powerful characters doing what they think is best. The Enhanced Edition came out recently with graphical improvements that will cripple even current generation GPUs and is compatible with the many mods that have already been made. Later this month one of the developers will be finalizing and releasing a new Combat Rebalancing mod which will add even more improvements to the game, even though the Witcher 3 is due out soon and this version was originally released two years ago. If you are unfamiliar with the series you should drop by Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN for details and consider picking up the game from Steam.
"A small leaflet on the news stand informs us that Andrzej ‘Flash’ Kwiatkowski, an ex-modder and now ‘Gameplay Designer’ at CD Projekt, has returned to modding in an effort to rebalance the combat in Witcher 2. The file size is currently 8 gigabytes, which is too many floppy disks to consider, but should be smaller by release. Which should be very soon."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Gunpoint @ Kitguru
- Of Course Valve Are Working On Half-Life 3, Now Shush @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Shadowrun Returns Returning Next Month, Bringing Editor @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- GoG Summer Sale Begins, Torchlight Currently Free @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Nintendo’s first free-to-play title announced as Steel Diver @ HEXUS
- Microsoft Responds on Fake Xbox One E3 Demo Story @ NGOHQ
- Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen PlayStation 3 @ eTeknix
- The Last Of Us Review (Playstation 3) @ Kitguru
- Lobster, a New Game Programming Language, Now Available As Open Source @ Slashdot
Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2013 - 03:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, Kyoto, berlin, seattle, warsaw, arm
DigiTimes named the four new families of server chip that AMD will be using to keep their products in the server room. Kyoto is known as the Opteron X-series and is available now, based on Jaguar and offering GPU compute enhancements as well as increased CPU performance. The Seattle family will replace these CPUs in the near future and will represent a new era for AMD as these chips will be clusters of ARM Cortex-A57 on AMD's advanced Freedom Fabric. Berlin will be a true x86 AMD chip with the new Steamroller architecture which will replace Piledriver and support HSA compliant optimizations. Last is Warsaw, which will be the most powerful chip, uniting 12 or 16 Piledriver cores in a chip which is compatible with the current Socket G43 used by the Opteron 6300 family, offering a simple drop in upgrade solution.
"AMD has publicly disclosed its strategy and roadmap to recapture market share in enterprise and data center servers by unveiling products that address key technologies and meet the requirements of the fastest-growing data center and cloud computing workloads."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Nvidia stretches CUDA coding to ARM chips @ The Register
- Intel previews future 'Knights Landing' Xeon Phi x86 coprocessor with integrated memory @ The Register
- Fusion-io's founding CEO quits board @ The Register
- Apple issues Java patch for Mac OS X users fixing 40 critical vulnerabilities @ The Inquirer
- Flash flaw potentially makes every webcam or laptop a PEEPHOLE @ The Register
- The Linux Kernel As An Exquisitely Sensitive Stability Test For Overclocked Systems @ TechARP
- Samsung EX2F Camera Review - A Low-Light Advanced Point-And-Shoot For Any Photographer @ SSD Review
- Australian unis to test quantum-comms-over-fibre @ The Register
- Uros Goodspeed review: MiFi, but bigger @ Hardware.info
- Adding wireless charging to any phone @ Hack a Day
- Canon PowerShot N Review @ TechReviewSource
- E3 2013: Wrap Up Coverage @ Legit Reviews
Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2013 - 02:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
There is another Haswell based notebook on sale today, though this one packs significantly more graphical power. The Alienware 14 on special sports a i7-4700MQ with a top speed of 3.4GHz, 8GB DDR3-1600 and a GT750M to power the 1366x768 screen with a 750GB HDD for storage. It also has a Killer NIC to help you out during fast paced gaming online either wired or on WiFi.
Upgrades such as a 1080p screen, Bluray, SSD storage and upgraded components are available.
- Just-released Alienware 14 Core i7 "Haswell" Gaming Laptop w/8GB RAM, 750GB 7200RPM Hard Drive, GeForce GT 750M graphics for $1,199 with free shipping.
- HP ENVY 15z-j000 15.6" AMD A8-5550M 2.1GHz Quad-core Laptop w/6GB RAM, 750GB Hard Drive for $479.99 with $9.99 shipping (normally $529.99 - use $50 coupon code NB4728 ).
- Ending tonight! 24" Dell E2414H 1080p LED-backlit LCD Monitor for $175.94 with free shipping (normally $229.99).
- 60-inch Samsung UN60EH6003 240Hz 1080p LED HDTV + $200 Gift Card for $1,199.99 with free shipping (normally $1,199.99 without gift card, effective final price $999.99).
- HP ENVY 800-030qe 4th-gen Intel Core i7 "Haswell" Desktop w/ Blu-ray, GeForce GT 640, 8GB RAM, 2TB Hard Drive, Photoshop Elements 11 Bundle, Beats Audio & 2-year warranty for $934.99 with $9.99 shipping (normally $1,099.99 - use coupon code DT6382 ).
OpenCL Support in a Meaningful Way
Adobe had OpenCL support since last year. You would never benefit from its inclusion unless you ran one of two AMD mobility chips under Mac OSX Lion, but it was there. Creative Cloud, predictably, furthers this trend with additional GPGPU support for applications like Photoshop and Premiere Pro.
This leads to some interesting points:
- How OpenCL is changing the landscape between Intel and AMD
- What GPU support is curiously absent from Adobe CC for one reason or another
- Which GPUs are supported despite not... existing, officially.
This should be very big news for our readers who do production work whether professional or for a hobby. If not, how about a little information about certain GPUs that are designed to compete with the GeForce 700-series?
Subject: General Tech | June 18, 2013 - 07:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Whether you are looking for a professional level display with 99% Adobe colour gamut or a large 1440p display (sorry not quite 4k) to game on, at $765 the Dell UltraSharp U2713H 27" IPS display is a great deal. The USB 3.0 connectors are a nice touch but they do add to the size of the bezel for those with enough lucre to consider running more than one of these displays.
- 27-inch Dell UltraSharp U2713H 2560x1440 IPS-panel LCD Monitor (Flagship 2013 Model) for $764.99 with free shipping (normally $999.99 - use BOTH coupon codes $PX1BGTSZ3G635 and W7HWC5Q9S4V6VH ).
- HP ENVY 700-030qe 4th-gen Intel Core i7 "Haswell" Desktop w/12GB RAM, 2TB Hard Drive, Radeon HD 7670, 2-year warranty, Photoshop Elements 11 Bundle, Beats Audio & Windows 8 for $849.99 with $9.99 shipping (normally $999.99 - use 15% coupon code DT6382 ).
- Dell XPS 14 Core i5 + 900p Gorilla Glass, Windows 7 Ultrabook for $849.99 with free shipping (normally $1,199.99).
- Sony HDR-AS15 HD Action Camcorder for $199.99 with free shipping (normally $269.99 - use coupon code SONYACAM ).
- 27-inch HP Pavilion 27xi 1080p IPS LED-backlit LCD Monitor for $271.99 with free shipping (normally $339.99 - use coupon code MT2617 ).
- Serta Ergonomic Leather Multifunction Managers Chair (Black) for $159.99 with free shipping (normally $209.99).