Wrapping up Computex

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 11, 2012 - 08:55 AM |
Tagged: nuc, computex 2012, computex

The Tech Report are still trying to catch up on all of their coverage of Computex as there were a lot of exhibits to make it to.  Intel has once again come up with a questionable name for an interesting product, the Next Unit of Computing is a 4" x 4" x 1" system which could be used for tasks similar to the Raspberry Pi, but as they were running Cinebench on an i5 powered version you can expect quite a bit more from the NUC.  Contrast that with EVGA's lineup of GTX 680's all of which are larger than the Intel system.  The Classified version sports a larger cooling fan as it has double the amount of memory typically found on a GTX 680 at 4GB, they also have a watercooled GTX 690 and a model of the card which claims to have a hot clocked GPU which will be interesting to examine when it arrives on a test bench.

Cooling enthusiasts might be very interested in Enermax's dive into watercooling or for air cooling you could see how Noctua's active noise cancellation worksBitFenix displayed an interesting miniITX encloure and SilverStone showed off a pair.  Check out all the pictures and more by following the links.

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Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

AFDS 2012: ARM once again on stage with AMD - partnership incoming?

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 10, 2012 - 09:01 PM |
Tagged: mali, arm, amd, AFDS

In a blog post over at arm.com, ARM Fellow Jem Davies has made a point to let us all know that he is going to be attending the AMD Fusion Developer Summit yet again, but this time with something more concrete to discuss.  In a very self-aware statement, Davies writes in his post that "my appearance last year generated a lot of speculation about the nature of the relationship between ARM and AMD." 

Indeed it did.

From Davies' post:

This year, we have a great deal to discuss. ARM is all about low power and many people in the industry now realize that GPUs have a central role to play in providing highly energy-efficient computing. It’s an exciting future that can grow the ecosystem that surrounds computing. ARM’s unique portfolio of CPU, GPU, interconnect and physical IP puts us at the forefront of one of the most important technological changes in a long time. Reflecting on that and some of those changes, I will be making an announcement at the show.

Emphasis above is ours.

Also worth noting is that Jem Davies does not have his own session at AFDS, but rather we can expect to see him to come out on stage during another keynote, likely during Phil Rogers' or Mark Papermaster's. 

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AMD wants into the tablet market.  ARM could accelerate that process.

Exactly WHAT the ARM/AMD announcement might be obviously isn't known by many yet, but we have speculated many times that an AMD built, ARM architecture processor, with Radeon-based graphics technology and ARM low-power CPU cores, could help AMD enter into the world of ultra-lower power SoCs very quickly.  Markets like the pending onslaught of Windows 8 RT tablets and clamshells have NVIDIA foaming at the mouth and AMD would be remiss to not attempt to tackle the same markets and one-up Intel at the same time.

It should be an exciting week!  Keep checking pcper.com and our AFDS site tag for all the latest news including keynote live blogs!

Source: ARM

E3 12: Unreal Engine 4 -- What you (and we) missed at GDC.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | June 8, 2012 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: video, unreal engine 4, E3 12, E3

Epic has released as much of their GDC demo as they are able to in an effort to end E3 2012 with a bang. They have included a second video to walk through the engine for developers to enjoy. We will explain to the masses why it is awesome.

Before we go any further -- the video you have been waiting months to see.

Be prepared for a particle-filled generation.

As was the case with Intel’s sand-to-CPU video -- the demo is pleasing but the supplementary info is the prize.

Epic released a 10 minute developer walkthrough to highlight the most important features of Unreal Engine 4. You can see it below and read on to see what that all means.

Yes, Unrealscript did not make it to Unreal Engine 4.

The first major feature of the engine is real-time dynamic global illumination and glossy specular reflection. Traditional video game graphics only considers the first bounce of light from a source -- if that bounce does not reach the player camera then it does not exist. Global illumination allows objects to be lit not just by light sources but also by light bouncing from neighboring objects.

It has been very popular to calculate how light interacts with objects ahead of time for the last generation as well as a portion of the generation prior to that. With those methods you are able to soften the shadows cast by light and make the scene feel much more naturally lit. The problem arises when anything in the scene moves or changes as obviously happens in a video game.

Unreal Engine 4 has the ability to calculate Global Illumination in real time. Dynamic lights such as muzzle flashes or flames are able to not just illuminate the area around them but also induce that area around it to light each other.

Also, static sources such as moonlight shining in the window against the floor can bounce from the floor and slightly lighten the walls with a bluish tint without being calculated ahead of time. Developers can try lighting effects without waiting for sometimes hours to see the results. This also means that what would have been once a pre-computed lit scene with nothing moving can now be destroyed and still remain properly lit. And now the moon can even move if the designer wants.

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Specular material on the gold statue

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Diffuse material on the gold statue, notice how the floor lighting from the statue desaturates and changes.

In this scene we see how light can reflect against a statue and influence the objects around it. A specular material has a much smoother and more mirror-like surface than a diffuse material which tends to scatter light in all directions. If you were to shine a laser against a mirror the beam would bounce and you would not see it unless you were in the reflected path whereas if you shine the laser against the wall you would see a dot regardless of how you look at it. This is because the wall, like a projector screen, is like trillions of microscopic mirrors all pointed in different directions which each take a tiny fraction of the light and sends it in a different direction.

In Unreal Engine 4, this effect means that a shiny surface will not only glare if you look at it but also light the objects around it differently than a diffuse surface. You can see that effect against the floor.

Read on after the break to continue with the discussion of Unreal Engine 4 features.

Rosewill's Cherrys, Antec's case and MSI's take on a tablet hybrid

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 8, 2012 - 11:30 AM |
Tagged: computex, computex 2012, msi, slider s20

We've seen a few hybrid tablet/notebooks, from the familiar ASUS Transformer to Acer's Iconia but MSI has one that really stands out.  As you can see from the pictures that The Tech Report snapped, MSI's Slider S20 has a retractable keyboard instead of a detachable one which will likely add to the weight but could be more convenient than a keyboard dock especially as it also acts as a stand.

Antex is working on their P280 series, with a microATX version and a full sized version with an integral housing for a radiator on the top for those who want a tidy watercooling solution.  If you more into CherryMX switches then it is the Rosewill pictures that will interest you as they showed off a few new models at their booth.

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"For our third Computex digest, we have news about an MSI Windows 8 tablet with a slide-out keyboard, a new version of Antec's famous P280 enclosure, and upcoming Rosewill mechanical keyboard with configurable backlighting."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source:

AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2012 - What to expect

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Shows and Expos | June 7, 2012 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: hsa, fusion, amd, AFDS

One of the best show experiences I had last year was a surprise to me - AMD's first annual Fusion Developer Summit (AFDS) was hosted in the Seattle / Bellevue area.  I say that it was a surprise only because the inaugural year for vendor-specific shows like this tend to be pretty bland and lack interesting information, but that wasn't the case in 2011.  We saw ARM get on stage with AMD to talk about the idea of "dark silicon" and how to prevent it, we saw the first AMD Trinity notebook and even got details of the Tahiti GPU architecture well ahead of release.  

We expect even better things in 2012.

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While I don't know exactly what surprises will be on display this year I am looking forward to seeing the improvement from software developers after having another 12 months to work on APU-accelerated applications.  HSA (heterogeneous system architecture) has been getting a lot of buzz from AMD and the industry as we push towards a combined memory address space and the ultimate acceleration of programs across both serialized and parallel processors on the same die.

If you are in the Seattle / Bellevue area and you have the ability to attend AFDS, I would highly encourage you to do so.  You'll have access to:

  • Keynotes
  • Never before seen demos
  • Technical tracks and sessions to learn about HSA and programming for it

If you can't make it though, you should definitely follow the whole event right here at PC Perspective - the easiest way is to keep track of our AFDS tag to make sure you don't miss any of the potentially industry shifting news! 

You can also expect us to have a live blog from the event as well!

Day 2 of Computex

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 7, 2012 - 12:06 PM |
Tagged: computex, computex 2012

The Tech Report had a chance to see Lucid's latest new product to enhance the ability of your computers graphics, it is called XLR8 Dynamix software and it seems almost designed to emulate what Ryan saw in his Rage testing.  Instead of lower quality textures being an issue, in this case Lucid is attempting to dynamically reduce the quality of background textures to allow for higher frame rates on lower powered GPUs. 

From AMD they saw the first Brazos 2 chips, which you can read about here.  They caught snaps of Gigabyte's GA-X79S-UP5 server board with a combination of 14 SATA and SAS ports for a huge amount of storage and picked up a bit of news about the fastest mobile chip on the planet.

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"Here comes our second helping of Computex coverage. We've got the skinny on Nvidia's Kepler-based mobile GPU flagship, AMD's 2012 E-series APU platform, a decked-out Sandy Bridge-E motherboard from Gigabyte, and Lucid's latest GPU virtualization mojo, which boosts fluidity on Intel IGPs by dynamically tweaking texture detail."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

E3 12: More Elder Scrolls -- Skyrim Expansion, Dawnguard

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2012 - 07:46 PM |
Tagged: video, elder scrolls V, elder scrolls, E3 12, E3

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is getting an expansion pack known as “Dawnguard”. The expansion explores vampirism and to a lesser extent, lycanthropy. Extra content includes new quests related to those vile blood-suckers as well as new abilities and two new skill trees.

Todd Howard spoke at DICE conference and played a video of his team’s GameJam: one week of passion projects.

The Skyrim GameJam sizzle video highlighted several of those projects with many already included in recent patches. A fairly decent period of the video was focused on Vampirism and Lycanthropy and forms the basis of the newly announced Skyrim: Dawnguard expansion pack.

G4 has forwarded some further details from Bethesda as a part of their E3 coverage.

Hopefully the Werebear has also made the cut.

This DLC seems to be a homecoming of the typical expansion packs that we PC gamers remember.

The extra campaign appears to be fairly lengthy for an update with a decently engrossing story. The trailer suggests that you will have a different series of quests depending on whether you support the vampire cult or wish to destroy it. In addition we will also receive two separate skill trees: vampirism will be advanced by feeding on the living and lycanthropy will be advanced by feeding on the dead.

The expansion will launch on (editor's note: Forgot to write the 360 release date) June 26th for the Xbox 360 first with the PS3 and PC to follow at an unspecified date. There is no mention of price. (editor's note: Apparently it'll be ~$20 and was briefly mentioned in the video I linked -- must have missed it.)

Source: G4TV

E3 12: Star Wars 1313 demo is NVIDIA powered.

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2012 - 04:34 PM |
Tagged: video, Star Wars, E3 12, E3

Star Wars 1313 is a mature-themed video game published and developed internally by LucasArts as well as its sister companies: Lucasfilm Animation, Industrial Light and Magic, and Skywalker Sound. The game allows the player to experience being a bounty hunter in the Star Wars universe. The demo released at E3 is powered by Unreal Engine 3 and an NVIDIA GPU.

The Star Wars franchise has not been the most beloved lately -- but this might change some minds.

Rumors leading up to E3 have claimed that a game would be announced which allows you to play as Boba Fett. On the opening day LucasArts announced Star Wars 1313 which allows you to take control of an unidentified bounty hunter in the Star Wars universe. Geoff Keighley of Game Trailers and Spike TV was shown a demo of the game.

What does this have to do with Nashville, Spike?

There are two possibilities for the identity of the bounty hunter -- and they are not mutually exclusive. Typical speculation is that the bounty hunter will be the premiere star in an upcoming LucasFilm production such as a live action TV show. What I speculate, and the look of the player model supports this, is that the character actually is related to Jango Fett as was previously rumored.

That of course is just speculation and not one that I will flesh out any further.

The demo itself was stated by Mark Rein of Epic Games to be running on Unreal Engine 3. LucasArts has confirmed that the demo is running on a PC with an NVIDIA GPU doing the calculations.

I have not been able to track down release date information or supported platforms but it is pretty safe to say given the demo that it will be available on the PC. I guess that is all I really care about, to be honest.

Source: PC Gamer

E3 12: Elder Scrolls Online gets more than a useless teaser.

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2012 - 02:44 PM |
Tagged: elder scrolls, E3 12, E3

Zenimax has launched a new teaser trailer for their upcoming Elder Scrolls Online. You will not see any in-game footage nor will you see any information in the trailer. To learn more about the game, you will need to be satisfied with testimonials -- which thankfully exist, at least.

So the “big MMO” space will likely be a three-way clash between EA, Activision/Blizzard, and now Bethesda.

I would expect that The Elder Scrolls franchise would be one of the strongest contenders against Warcraft and Star Wars. According to PC Gamer, The MMO will span the whole of Tamriel which is a departure from earlier installments which mostly flesh out a single area. The world will graphically not keep up with Skyrim yet will keep up with modern MMOs.

And EVE Online for the rest…

Three factions will be available for the player to choose from: The Aldmeri Dominion, the Daggerfall Covenant, and the Ebonheart Pact with the Bird, Lion, and Dragon emblems respectively. PVP between these three factions will be constrained to Cyrodiil which you may remember from Oblivion. Imagine catapults versus a castle sieging into the fortress and you would be imagining what some witnesses have described.

G4 has their hands on a few (older) screenshots which show the -- yes, third person -- gameplay of the MMO.

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Oh look, a Venus fly trap.

Game Informer has quite a wealth of information about the two provinces controlled by the Daggerfall Covenant: High Rock and Hammerfell. Maps of both are present and dotted with allegedly present cities full of quests and attractions. This will be your home if you choose either Breton, Orc, or Redguard as your player race.

Game Informer also promises a feature on the Aldmeri Dominion tomorrow.

ASRock Reveals New Technology Advances at COMPUTEX 2012

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2012 - 10:06 PM |
Tagged: Z77, x79, trinity, sandy bridge-e, PLX PEX 8747, Ivy Bridge, Intel, fm2, asrock, amd

Four new Intel motherboards from ASRock were revealed at Computex, the X79 Extreme11, Z77 Extreme9 and Z77 OC Formula.  All use their new XFast 555 Technology software for XFast RAM, XFast LAN and XFast USB which should at the very least allow you great control over all the frequencies on your motherboard. 

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The motherboard for power users supports Sandy Bridge E processors, the X79 Extreme11 sports PLX PEX 8747 bridges which means this motherboard can run multi-GPU 4-Way SLI/CrossFireX at PCIe Gen3 x16/x16/x16/x16 and puts EVGA's Classified SR-2 in serious trouble on the Leaderboard when released.  24 + 2 Power Phase Design, onboard Creative Sound Core3D and an LSI SAS2308 chip which gives you ten SATA3 connectors with 8 of the able to be set to SAS mode.

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The  Z77 Extreme9 also sports the PLX PEX 8747 bridge which allows a surprising full PCIe Gen3 x8/x8/x8/x8 quad GPU mode.  The included T2R Dual Band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n + BT v4.0 Module supports dual band WiFi and BlueTooth and combines with the Wi-SB BOX to provide better signal and an extra pair of USB 3.0 connectors.

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The Z77 OC Formula wants to step on ASUS' toes; while the score is impressive, the overclocks need a little work.  They don't say much about this board but from the preliminary testing it looks like great fun for the serious overclocker.

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Last but not least is the Z77 Extreme6/TB4 which features four channel Thunderbolt, for that you can read two Thunderbolt ports.  ASRock mentions that this "allows one port to be connected to the onboard graphics and the other one can be used for discrete graphics card." which could lead to all sorts of speculation.

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On the AMD side we have the ATX FM2A75 Pro4, and microATX FM2A75 Pro4-M and FM2A75M-DG which support Trinity processors but unfortunately we don't have much more than their names.  TechPowerUp did get some pictures of the boards recently.

They are also showing the EN2C602-4L, E3C204-V, E3C204-4L and H77WS-DL server boards which come with a full suite of software to ensure an easy setup, an IPC motherboard for those small purpose-built applications and an intriguing HTPC box called the ASRock VisionX Series.  This is reputed to featuring Ivy Bridge, Radeon HD 7850M graphics and AMD HD3D Technology with dual band WiFi but might cost a bit more than the alternative, the ASRock MINI Series which has and AMD E2-1800 backed up by a Radeon HD7340.

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Source: ASRock