GDC 13: Intel announces PixelSync and InstantAccess

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 27, 2013 - 08:51 PM |
Tagged: Intel, GDC 13, GDC

GDC 2013 is where the industry comes together to talk about the technology itself. Intel was there, and of course the big blue just had to unveil developments to help them in the PC gaming space. Two new major rendering extensions and updated developer tools debut. And, if you are not a developer, encode your movies with handbrake quicker!

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First up is PixelSync, a DirectX extension for Intel HD Graphics. PixelSync is designed to be used with smoke, hair, and other effects which require blending translucent geometry. With this extension, objects do not need to be sorted before compositing.

Next up is InstantAccess. This DirectX extension allows CPU and integrated GPUs to access the same physical memory. What interests me most about InstantAccess is the ability for developers to write GPU-based applications which can quickly access the same memory as its CPU counterpart. Should the integrated GPU be visible alongside discrete GPUs, this could allow the integrated graphics to help offload GPGPU tasks such as physics while the CPU and discrete GPU handle the more important tasks.

Also updated is their Graphics Performance Analyzers toolset. If you are interested in performance optimization on your software, be sure to check those out.

And for the more general public... Handbrake is now set up to take advantage of Quick Sync Video. Given the popularity of Handbrake, this is quite a big deal for anyone wishing to transcode video using popular and free encoders.

Source: Intel

GDC 13: 17 Minute Battlefield 4 Trailer Released

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 27, 2013 - 03:25 AM |
Tagged: battlefield, battlefield 4, GDC, GDC 13

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Battlefield 4 is coming, that has been known with Medal of Honor: Warfighter's release and its promise of beta access, but the gameplay trailer is already here. Clocking in at just over 17 minutes, "Fishing in Baku" looks amazing from a technical standpoint.

The video has been embed below. A little not safe for work due to language and amputation.

Now that you finished gawking, we have gameplay to discuss. I cannot help but be disappointed with the campaign direction. Surely, the story was in planning prior to the release of Battlefield 3. Still, it seems to face the same generic-character problem which struck the last campaign.

In Battlefield 3, I really could not recognize many characters apart from the lead which made their deaths more confusing than upsetting. Normally when we claim a character is identifiable, we mean that we can relate to them. In this case, when I say the characters were not identifiable, I seriously mean that I probably could not pick them out in a police lineup.

Then again, the leaked promotional image for Battlefield 4 seems to show Blackburn at the helm. I guess there is some hope. Slim hope, which the trailer does not contribute to. I mean even the end narration capped how pointless the character interactions were. All this in spite of EA's proclaiming YouTube description of this being human, dramatic, and believable.

Oh well, it went boom good.

At the G Institute, PC Gaming is Logitech's Pursuit

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Shows and Expos | March 21, 2013 - 03:23 PM |
Tagged: PAX East 2013, PAX East, PAX, logitech

Despite recent incidents with a genetic lifeform and disk operating system, we PC gamers love our science. Yesterday, Logitech claims they renewed their commitment to both PC gaming and science just in time for PAX East 2013.

Let us just hope the pi's not a lie. Hehehe, that rhymes.

While the commercial looks and sounds like the "G" stands for "Gatorade", it really beckons the launch of eight new accessory products: four new mice, two new keyboards, and two new headsets.

  • Logitech G700s Rechargeable Gaming Mouse
    • Wireless
    • 13 programmable controls
  • Logitech G500s Laser Gaming Mouse
    • Weight/balance adjustments
    • Dual-mode scroll wheel
  • Logitech G400s Optical Gaming Mouse
    • "Delta Zero" sensor technology
    • 8 programmable controls
  • Logitech G100s Optical Gaming Mouse
    • "Delta Zero" sensor technology
  • Logitech G19s Gaming Keyboard
    • Full-Color LCD
    • Custom backlighting
    • 12 programmable "G-keys"
  • Logitech G510s Gaming Keyboard
    • Standard LCD
    • Custom backlighting
    • 18 programmable "G-keys"
  • Logitech G430 Surround Sound Gaming Headset
    • 7.1 surround sound
  • Logitech G230 Stereo Gaming Headset
    • 40mm drivers
    • 3.5mm stereo audio and mic

Check in after the break for the official press blast.

Source: Logitech

CEO Jen-Hsun Huang Sells Windows RT... A Little Bit.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors, Shows and Expos | March 20, 2013 - 06:26 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, nvidia, GTC 2013

NVIDIA develops processors, but without an x86 license they are only able to power ARM-based operating systems. When it comes to Windows, that means Windows Phone or Windows RT. The latter segment of the market has disappointing sales according to multiple OEMs, which Microsoft blames them for, but the jolly green GPU company is not crying doomsday.

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NVIDIA just skimming the Surface RT, they hope.

As reported by The Verge, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang was optimistic that Microsoft would eventually let Windows RT blossom. He noted how Microsoft very often "gets it right" at some point when they push an initiative. And it is true, Microsoft has a history of turning around perceived disasters across a variety of devices.

They also have a history of, as they call it, "knifing the baby."

I think there is a very real fear for some that Microsoft could consider Intel's latest offerings as good enough to stop pursuing ARM. Of course, the more the pursue ARM, the more their business model will rely upon the-interface-formerly-known-as-Metro and likely all of its certification politics. As such, I think it is safe to say that I am watching the industry teeter on a fence with a bear on one side and a pack of rabid dogs on the other. On the one hand, Microsoft jumping back to Intel would allow them to perpetuate the desktop and all of the openness it provides. On the other hand, even if they stick with Intel they likely will just kill the desktop anyway, for the sake of user confusion and the security benefits of cert. We might just have less processor manufacturers when they do that.

So it could be that NVIDIA is confident that Microsoft will push Windows RT, or it could be that NVIDIA is pushing Microsoft to continue to develop Windows RT. Frankly, I do not know which would be better... or more accurately, worse.

Source: The Verge

GTC 2013: Prepare for Graphics Overload

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 18, 2013 - 09:10 PM |
Tagged: GTC 2013, nvidia

We just received word from Tim Verry, our GTC correspondent and news troll, about his first kick at the conference. This... is his story.

Graphics card manufacturer, NVIDIA, is hosting its annual GPU Technology Conference (GTC 2013) in San Jose, California this week. PC Perspective will be roaming the exhibit floor and covering sessions as NVIDIA and its partners discuss upcoming graphics technologies, GPGPU, programming, and a number of other low level computing topics.

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The future... is tomorrow!

A number of tech companies will be on site and delivering presentations to show off their latest Kepler-based systems. NVIDIA will deliver its keynote presentation tomorrow for the press, financial and industry analysts, and business partners to provide a glimpse at the green team's roadmap throughout 2013 - and maybe beyond.

We cannot say for certain what NVIDIA will reveal during its keynote; but, since we have not been briefed ahead of time, we are completely free to speculate! I think one certainty is the official launch of the Kepler-based K6000 workstation card; for example. While I do not expect to see Maxwell, we could possibly see a planned refresh of the Kepler-based components with some incremental improvements: I predict power efficiency over performance. Perhaps we will receive a cheaper Titan-like consumer card towards the end of 2013? Wishful thinking on my part? A refresh of its GK104 architecture would be nice to see as well, even if actual hardware will not show up until next year. I expect that NVIDIA will react to whatever plans AMD has to decide whether it is in their interest to match them or not.

I do expect to see more information on GRID and Project SHIELD, however. NVIDIA has reportedly broadened the scope of this year's conference to include mobile sessions: expect Tegra programming and mobile GPGPU goodness to be on tap.

It should be an interesting week of GPU news. Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more coverage as the conference gets underway.

What are you hoping to see from NVIDIA at GTC 2013?

ASUS PadFone Infinity Bows at MWC 2013

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 1, 2013 - 04:35 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon 600, qualcomm, padfone infinity, padfone, MWC 13, MWC, asus

Mobile World Congress 2013 pulled up stakes yesterday in Barcelona, but the buzz will echo worldwide for quite a while. While fewer companies are unveiling flagship devices at the big industry shows, one new entrant into the mobile sphere definitely caught our eye: the ASUS PadFone Infinity.

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Image via ASUS.com

Not to be confused with ASUS's 7" phablet Fonepad, the PadFone Infinity is the company's third version of its two-in-one phone/tablet, and it has taken major strides beyond its predecessors, the PadFone and the PadFone 2.

On its own, the handset is a 5" LTE phone, powered by Qualcomm's 1.7 GHz Snapdragon 600 Quad-core CPU, with 2 GB of RAM and the integrated Andreno 320 GPU that can crank out 1080p video sweetness (improving on the PadFone 2's 720p), and with 64 GB of onboard storage. Also included is 50 GB of free ASUS Webstorage for two years.

The PadFone Infinity ships with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (although the demo video embedded below says 4.1) and is the first in its family to sport an anodized aluminum unibody with a brushed-metal back case.

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Image via ASUS.com

But slide it into the PadFone Station, and suddenly you're holding a full-HD, 10.1" tablet. Basically, it's like getting two devices on a single carrier contract.

The devices' battery performance is fairly impressive, at least when taken in tandem. The phone lists 19 hours of 3G talk time, which can triple when connected to the Station. The phone's battery claims 6.5 hours of browsing and nine hours of video playback, to each of which you can add 7.5 hours when connected to the Station.

The phone's 5" display--up from 4.3" and 4.7" in the first two generations respectively--features 1920x1080 pixels (the same as the pad's 10.1" screen) with a resolution of 441 PPI. (Compare at 326 PPI on the iPhone 5's Retina Display.)

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Image via ASUS.com

The dimensions of each device are relatively svelte. The phone is 8.9 mm thick, tapering sharply to 6.3 mm at the edges, and weighing in at 141 grams (roughly 5 ounces, for the metrically challenged). The pad is 10.6 mm thick and adds 530 grams (nearly 19 ounces) to the overall weight.

On the chassis you'll find a MyDP port, which supports Micro-USB 2.0 and 1080p video-out, 3.5 mm audio, and a Nano SIM slot. The front camera shoots 2 megapixels, while on the rear is an almost obscene 13MP, f/2.0 camera that features a burst mode of 8 frames per second. It shoots 1080p MPEG4 video at 30fps or 720p at 60fps.

ASUS says the PadFone Infinity will be available in April in Taiwan and in "selected other countries from early Q2 2013" at the hefty price of 999 euros (roughly US $1,300). Sadly, there is no word of a U.S. release.

Check out ASUS's demo video:

Happy 0th Birthday Firefox OS

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 26, 2013 - 04:19 AM |
Tagged: Firefox OS, mozilla, firefox, MWC, MWC 13

Mobile World Congress is going on at Barcelona and this year sees the official entry of a new contender: Firefox OS.

Mozilla held their keynote speech the day before the official start to the trade show. If there is anything to be learned from CES, it would be that there is an arms race to announce your product before everyone else steals media attention while still being considered a part of the trade show. By the time the trade show starts, most of the big players have already said all that they need to say.

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If you have an hour to spare, you should check it out for yourself. The whole session was broadcast and recorded on Air Mozilla.

The whole concept of Firefox OS as I understand it is to open up web standards such that it is possible to create a completely functional mobile operating system from it. Specific platforms do not matter, the content will all conform to a platform of standards which anyone would be able to adopt.

I grin for a different reason: should some content exist in the future that is intrinsically valuable to society, its reliance on an open-based platform will allow future platforms to carry it.

Not a lot of people realize that iOS and Windows RT disallow alternative web browsers. Sure, Google Chrome the app exists for iOS, but it is really a re-skinned Safari. Any web browser in the Windows Store will use Trident as its rendering engine by mandate of their certification rules. This allows the platform developer to be choosey with whichever standards they wish to support. Microsoft has been very vocally against any web standard backed by Khronos. You cannot install another browser if you run across a web application requiring one of those packages.

When you have alternatives, such as Firefox OS, developers are promoted to try new things. The alternative platforms promote standards which generate these new applications and push the leaders to implement those standards too.

And so we creep ever-closer to total content separation from platform.

Source: Mozilla

OCZ Technology to Showcase Next-Generation Enterprise Storage Solutions at CeBIT 2013

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | February 25, 2013 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: ocz, ssd, PCIe SSD, CeBIT 2013, ZD-XL Accelerator

SAN JOSE, CA—February 25, 2013—OCZ Technology Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:OCZ), a leading provider of high-performance solid-state drives (SSDs) for computing devices and systems, today announced that it will preview a variety of enterprise storage solutions at next week’s CeBIT 2013 conference in Hannover, Germany. As a renowned global forum, CeBIT represents a great opportunity for attendees to be the first to see and experience the latest innovations in solid-state storage from an industry leader in enterprise SSDs, virtualization, and caching software. OCZ offers a complete suite of storage solutions that address VMware, Linux, and SQL Server platforms, and invites IT decision-makers who are evaluating or implementing solid-state storage in the data center to visit the Company’s exhibit in Hall 2, Stand E43, from March 5th through 9th.

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OCZ will unveil the next-generation ZD-XL SQL Accelerator, a culmination of enterprise hardware and software converging as one tightly integrated and optimized solution. The ZD-XL Accelerator addresses SQL Server database applications to not only ensure that the data for this implementation is right, relevant, and readily available on SSD flash when the SQL Server needs it, but also that the data is accessed with the highest possible I/O performance. For simple deployment and ease of use, this tightly integrated, optimized solution features ‘implementation wizards’ to guide DBAs so they can optimally manage data cached to the flash. While showcasing the ZD-XL solution OCZ will invite enterprise customers to become beta testers for this exciting solution.

Also included in OCZ’s exhibition at CeBIT will be demonstrations to preview the upcoming VXL 1.3 Virtualization Software and LXL Acceleration Software with OCZ’s innovative Direct Pass Caching Technology, which not only addresses VMware but is also optimized for Linux applications. OCZ is one of the few SSD providers with a robust portfolio of virtualization and caching software that combine the power of flash acceleration with the power of storage virtualization. This enables multiple virtual server loads to run concurrently on a single physical host, not only increasing CPU and memory resource utilization, but also simplifying deployment, high availability (HA), and maintenance of the server loads.

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The next-generation of workstation PCI Express (PCIe)-based SSDs will also be available soon as part of the Company’s award-winning Vector Series. These drives reside directly on the PCIe bus and will support four PCIe Gen2 lanes providing lower latency to data, faster file transfers and system boot-ups, expanded storage capacities, and an even quicker, more responsive experience over the already blazingly fast SATA 3.0-based Vector Series. The Vector PCIe Series will feature an advanced suite of flash management tools that deliver enhanced drive endurance and data, making it ideally suited for power computing, content creation, and workstation applications.

Author:
Manufacturer: Various
Tagged: ces 2013, CES

Hardware is still key

The show is over, but CES 2013 is still taking its affect on our feet and our minds.  While the feet are healing I asked our team to give me a few stories that would summarize this year's show.  What stood out and surprised us and really made an impact?  Below are a handful of quick selections with links to the full stories, but if you really want the full CES 2013 experience, you should check out our stream of CES news at http://pcper.com/ces.

 

NVIDIA Tegra 4 / Shield

CES really kicked off with the announcement of Tegra 4 and Shield, an Android-powered mobile gaming system built off the company's newest SoC.  Shield combines a 5-in touch screen, Tegra 4 processor, console-quality game controller, speakers, display output support and more in a small, battery powered package.  They are promising the best Android gaming experience as well as the ability to stream PC games on your home network to Shield.

Check out our hands-on video with the device as well as some other information on the Tegra 4.

 

AMD APU Relevance

To be honest, not much was expected from AMD at the show this year but they surprised many of us by talking about new APUs that looked to be much more relevant in the market than we thought they would be.  Kaveri will be shipping before the end of the year and will be the first full HSA ready part, Kabini will be a high performance quad-core SoC for ultrathin notebooks and Temash could be a beast in the tablet and hybrid space.

Continue reading our wrap up from CES 2013!!

CES 2013: Caustic, now part of Imagination, Shows Series2 Ray Tracing Accelerators

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 12, 2013 - 11:38 AM |
Tagged: series2, ray tracing, imagination, ces 2013, CES, caustic

We have talked with Caustic on several occassions over the past couple of years about their desire to build a ray tracing accelerator.  Back in April of 2009 we first met with Caustic, learning who they were and what the goals of the company were; we saw early models of the CausticOne and CausticTwo and a demonstration of the capabilities of the hardware and software model. 

While at CES this year we found the group at a new place - the Imagination Technologies booth - having been acquired since we last talked.  Now named the Caustic Series2 OpenRL accelerator boards, we are looking at fully integrated ASICs rather than demonstration FPGAs. 

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This is the Caustic 2500 and it will retail for $1495 and includes a pair of the RT2 chips and 16GB of memory.  One of the benefits of the Caustic technology is that while you need a lot of memory, you do not need expensive, fast memory like GDDR5 used in today's graphics cards.  By utilizing DDR2 memory Imagination is able to put a whopping 16GB on the 2500 model.

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A key benefit of the Caustic ray tracing accelerators comes with the simply software integration.  You can see above that a AutoDesk Maya 2013 is utilizing the Caustic Visualizer as a simple viewport into the project just as you would use with any other RT or preview rendering technique.  The viewport software is also available for 3ds max. 

There is a lower cost version of the hardware, the Caustic 2100, that uses a single chip and has half the memory for a $795 price tag.  They are shipping this month and we are interested to see how quickly, and how eager developers are, to utilize this technology.

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!