Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | July 7, 2014 - 08:06 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: tegra k1, OpenGL ES, opengl, Khronos, google io, google, android extension pack, Android
Sure, this is a little late. Honestly, when I first heard the announcement, I did not see much news in it. The slide from the keynote (below) showed four points: Tesselation, Geometry Shaders, Computer [sic] Shaders, and ASTC Texture Compression. Honestly, I thought tesselation and geometry shaders were part of the OpenGL ES 3.1 spec, like compute shaders. This led to my immediate reaction: "Oh cool. They implemented OpenGL ES 3.1. Nice. Not worth a news post."
Image Credit: Blogogist
Apparently, they were not part of the ES 3.1 spec (although compute shaders are). My mistake. It turns out that Google is cooking their their own vendor-specific extensions. This is quite interesting, as it adds functionality to the API without the developer needing to target a specific GPU vendor (INTEL, NV, ATI, AMD), waiting for approval from the Architecture Review Board (ARB), or using multi-vendor extensions (EXT). In other words, it sounds like developers can target Google's vendor without knowing the actual hardware.
Hiding the GPU vendor from the developer is not the only reason for Google to host their own vendor extension. The added features are mostly from full OpenGL. This makes sense, because it was announced with NVIDIA and their Tegra K1, Kepler-based SoC. Full OpenGL compatibility was NVIDIA's selling point for the K1, due to its heritage as a desktop GPU. But, instead of requiring apps to be programmed with full OpenGL in mind, Google's extension pushes it to OpenGL ES 3.1. If the developer wants to dip their toe into OpenGL, then they could add a few Android Extension Pack features to their existing ES engine.
Epic Games' Unreal Engine 4 "Rivalry" Demo from Google I/O 2014.
The last feature, ASTC Texture Compression, was an interesting one. Apparently the Khronos Group, owners of OpenGL, were looking for a new generation of texture compression technologies. NVIDIA suggested their ZIL technology. ARM and AMD also proposed "Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression". ARM and AMD won, although the Khronos Group stated that the collaboration between ARM and NVIDIA made both proposals better than either in isolation.
Android Extension Pack is set to launch with "Android L". The next release of Android is not currently associated with a snack food. If I was their marketer, I would block out the next three versions as 5.x, and name them (L)emon, then (M)eringue, and finally (P)ie.
Would I do anything with the two skipped letters before pie? (N)(O).
Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 15, 2014 - 05:51 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: x86, SteamOS, Steam Machine, Steam Controller, steam, mobile, handheld, E3 14, E3
To be doubly clear, if the title was not explicit enough, this announcement is not made by Valve. This company is called, "SteamBoy Machine team". If not a hoax, this is one of the many Steam Machines which are expected to come out of the SteamOS initiative. Rather than taking the platform to a desktop or home theater PC (HTPC) form-factor, this company wants to target the handheld PC gaming market.
If it comes out, that is a clever use of SteamOS. I can see Big Picture Mode being just as useful on a small screen as it is on a TV, especially with its large font and controller navigation. The teasers suggest that it will use the haptic feedback-based touchpads which Valve are expected to base the Steam Controller on. It will also include a 5-inch touchscreen.
The Escapist got into contact with the team and received a few more specs:
- Quad-Core CPU (x86)
- 4GB RAM
- 32GB built-in storage
Even if this company does not make good on their expectations, companies will now be considering portable SteamOS devices. This is the sort of outside-the-box thinking that Valve was pushing for when they wanted to create an open platform. Each party will struggle to win in their personal goals, yet they can also rely on the crowd (other companies or individuals) to keep up in areas where they do not want an edge.
Philosophy aside, the company is targeting 2015 with a "Standard Edition" supporting WiFi and 3G. It would make sense to have a WiFi-only model, but who knows.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 11, 2014 - 06:44 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Steam Machine, E3 14, E3, dell, alienware alpha, alienware
While "Steam Machines" are delayed, Alienware will still launch their console form-factor PC. The $550 price tag includes a black Xbox 360 wireless controller (with receiver) and Windows 8.1 64-bit. Alienware has also designed their own "Console-mode UI" for Windows 8.1, which can be navigated directly with a controller. It will ship Holiday 2014.
Apparently PC-based consoles equate to dubstep and parkour.
About the "Console-mode UI", it will apparently be what the user sees when the Alpha boots. The user can then select between Steam Big Picture, media, and programs. They also allow users to boot into the standard Windows 8.1 interface.
As for its specifications:
|Base Model ($550)||Upgrade Options|
|Processor||Haswell-based Intel Core i3||Core i5, Core i7 (user accessible)|
|GPU||"Custom" Maxwell-based, 2GB GDDR5
(see next paragraph)
|(none) (not user accessible, soldered on)|
|System Memory||4GB at 1600 MHz||8GB (user accessible)|
|HDD||500GB SATA3||1TB or 2TB (user accessible)|
|Wireless||Dual-band 802.11ac||(user accessible)|
The GPU is not specified, or even given a similar part to refer to. PC World claims that it will be comparable to the performance found on the two next-gen consoles. Since the 750 Ti has around 1.3 TeraFLOPs of performance, this GPU is probably near that, or slightly above it. PC Gamer says that it will be based on mobile Maxwell, so it might be similar to an current or upcoming laptop GPU.
One thing that has not been addressed is the HDMI-in port. We know that it supports passthrough for low latency, but we do not know what it will do with the input video. Alienware has several of these set up at their booth on the show floor, so we might hear more soon. While its specifications are a bit on the light side, particularly on the default amount of RAM (although that is easily and cheaply upgraded), its $550 price, which includes a wireless controller and its adapter, is also pretty good.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 10, 2014 - 03:31 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: E3, E3 14, GTA5, GTA Online
So my best guess is that Rockstar was waiting on the "next-gen" assets before they bothered releasing Grand Theft Auto V on the PC. The game will be released this fall, alongside Xbox One and PlayStation 4 ports. They do not mention distribution platforms, but Steam is a fairly safe assumption, at least now that Games for Windows has been given its final rest.
Hopefully, this delay in releasing a PC version will be a temporary hiccup due to the overlapping console generations. With Grand Theft Auto IV, the same could not be said. The problem is, with how secretive Rockstar is, we cannot really tell whether the above assumption is true, or whether they were just non-committal to the PC platform until now. At either rate, until the PC version is launched, Rockstar has not and will not get my money. Of course, there is always that danger that, by the time the game does launch, I will not be able to afford its time or expense.
That's why you should always release the PC version as early as possible.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 10, 2014 - 01:04 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: E3, E3 14, GOG, gog galaxy
Good Old Games (GOG), a subsidiary of CD Projekt RED, is releasing an online gaming manager similar to Steam and Origin. The difference is that everything about it is DRM-free and completely optional. Galaxy will manage game updates, provide achievements, and host communication between friends... if you want. If you don't? That's okay. Have fun.
Obviously, their most popular competitor is Valve. Steam has a history of being nice to their customers and erring on their side. GOG, historically, takes it to the consumer-friendly extreme. If it lives up to their statements, this is no exception. The hope seems to be just that people will remember GOG more often and have more happy customers.
Basically, most platforms are give-and-take. This is take what you want.
When will it launch? What will it look like? Who knows. We will get more news this year, which suggests that we will not get the software until at least next year. Hopefully they will take their time and get it right. I mean, it is not like they need to rush. It is not a mandatory DRM platform - it is not a DRM platform at all. I do expect they will try to target The Witcher 3's launch window (February 2015) for marketing purposes, though.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 9, 2014 - 06:10 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: shield tablet, shield, nvidia, E3 14, E3
The Tech Report had their screenshot-fu tested today with the brief lifespan of NVIDIA's SHIELD Tablet product page. As you can see, it is fairly empty. We know that it will have at least one bullet point of "Features" and that its name will be "SHIELD Tablet".
Image Credit: The Tech Report
Of course, being the first day of E3, it is easy to expect that such a device will be announced in the next couple of days. This is expected to be based on the Tegra K1 with 2GB of RAM and have a 2048x1536 touch display.
It does question what exactly is a "SHIELD", however. Apart from being a first-party device, how would they be any different from other TegraZone devices? We know that Half Life 2 and Portal have been ported to the SHIELD product line, exclusively, and will not be available on other Tegra-powered devices. Now that the SHIELD line is extending to tablets, I wonder how NVIDIA will handle this seemingly two-tier class of products (SHIELD vs Tegra OEM devices). It might even depend on how many design wins they achieve, along with their overall mobile market share.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 6, 2014 - 05:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: computex 2014
HP is courting mobile users with their Pro x2 series, a stylus enabled tablet with a keyboard dock containing extra outputs and a second battery in 1080p 12.5" and 11.6" 1366x768 flavours; the smaller model is already available already starting at $850. EVGA stepped up their game with the 1600W SuperNOVA PSU that comes with a 10 year warranty while Fractal Design was showing off refillable and expandable self contained watercoolers. You can also catch AData's new SSDs and Kingston's M.2 SSDs and even more over at The Tech Report.
"PC makers appear to be embracing the convertible tablet form factor with gusto at Computex 2014, and HP is no exception. Today, the company announced a pair of business-focused two-in-ones: the Pro x2 612 and Pro x2 410."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- COMPUTEX 2014: Intel unleashed the Beast OC Event @ Madshrimps
- HyperX again claims new DDR3 frequency WR at 2282.8MHz @ Madshrimps
- Devs get first look at next Visual Studio @ The Register
- 'NSA-proof' Protonet server crowdfunds $1m in under 90 minutes @ The Inquirer
- Chrome market share overtakes Internet Explorer for the first time @ The Inquirer
- FIGHT! Intel disputes ARM's claims of Android superiority @ The Register
- The Hovering, Holographic, Star Wars Display @ Hack a Day
- Win MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC, R9 290X Gaming GPU and LE Siberia V2 @ Kitguru
- Enter to win one of three Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE motherboards @ The Tech Report
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2014 - 11:37 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: computex, computex 2014, roccat, tyon
So this mouse has many buttons. It even has not-buttons. The ROCCAT Tyon has 31 user-customizable functions mapped over 16 buttons. The "Tyon Xcelerator", near its thumb buttons, is an analog switch designed for functions such as throttle or vertical movement. The "Dorsal Fin" is a switch that tilts left and right, like a tilt wheel, except that it also has a tilting mouse wheel.
I guess you can never have too many tilt functions.
Yo Cat, Heard You Like Buttons...
In short, ROCCAT has basically put as many functions on that mouse as they believe comfortable. Personally, I think the "Xcelerator" could be quite useful for games, like Battlefield: Bad Company 2 with its UAV, where you need to move in three dimensions and rotate in two dimensions, at the same time. That just leaves about 30 other functions to think about.
The ROCCAT Tyon is "coming soon" for 99.99 Euros (~$136 USD).
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2014 - 05:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: thermaltake, roccat, nzxt, gigabyte, computex 2014, asus
The Tech Report has been busy at Computex, visiting as many booths as they can in amongst the numerous vendors showing off their upcoming products. From ASUS we get another look at the ROG systems and a G-Sync monitor as several new motherboards. Both Thermaltake and Roccat have new peripherals to show off while NZXT is more focussed on cooling products. Gigabyte has taken advantage of the event to show how fast their limited edition Z97X-SOC Force LN2 can push DDR3, hitting 4.5GHz in a live demo! There is more coverage that that, as well as our own, so you can expect to be busy over the next few days.
"Earlier today at Computex, Asus let loose a veritable cornucopia of items under its Republic of Gamers brand. Among them: two stylish mini gaming desktops plus a 27" display outfitted with Nvidia's G-Sync technology."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Computex 2014 Gigabyte Suite Visit @ Hardware Asylum
- Computex 2014 In Win S-Frame @ Hardware Asylum
- Intel gives biz typoslabs their very own 14nm Core-M silicon @ The Register
- Kaveri Mobile APUs; AMD's FX Reincarnated @ Hardware Canucks
- A first look at AMD's Kaveri APU for notebooks @ The Tech Report
- Linux hit by GnuTLS exploit, follows Heartbleed model @ The Inquirer
- TSMC reportedly to tie up with Micron to develop 3D ICs @ DigiTimes
- PCIe hard drives? You read that right, says WD @ The Register
- Pittasoft BlackVue Sport SC500 Action Camera @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2014 - 07:37 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: computex, computex 2014, WD, ssd, pcie, SATA Express, hdd
SATA Express is an interface to either connect a hard drive to PCIe lanes, or up to two drives via SATA. Obviously, PCIe bandwidth over a cable connection is the real draw. To use the full speed, however, the drive needs to be able to communicate over PCIe. Currently, the standard uses two PCI Express 2.0 lanes (1 GB/s).
Now that Z97 and H97 have launched, WD is set to show off the technology at Computex. The above image is apparently of a dual-drive product, containing 4TB of rotating media and 128GB of SSD memory. I am immediately reminded of the Western Digital Black2 dual drive which Allyn reviewed last November. That product crammed a 120GB SSD into a 2.5" 1TB HDD, which appeared to the system as two separate drives. The drive has "Technology Demonstration" written in red font right on it, but it could be a good representation of what the company is thinking about.
WD also asserts that their prototype uses standard AHCI drivers, for OS compatibility.
If you want to see this product in action, then -- well -- you kind-of need to be at Computex. At some point, you might be able to see it in your own PC. When? How much? No pricing and availability, again, because it is a tech demo.