Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | March 3, 2012 - 05:16 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, Steam Box, steam, GDC 12
It is rumored that Valve will announce a Steam hardware platform as early as GDC next week although that could be pushed back as late as E3 in June.
Steam has grown atop the PC platform and consists of over 40 million active user accounts. For perspective, the Xbox 360 has sold 65.8 million units to date and that includes units sold to users whose older Xbox 360s died and they did not go the cardboard coffin route. Of course the study does not account for the level of hardware performance each user can utilize although Valve does keep regular surveys of that.
A console with admined dedicated servers to kick the teabagging and griefing Steam punks.
Within the last couple of years, Valve has been popping in to news seemingly out of the blue. Allow me to draw your attention to three main events.
At the last GDC, Valve announced “The Big Picture” mode for their Steam software. The Big Picture is an interface for Steam which is friendly to users seated on a couch several feet away from a large screen TV. While “The Big Picture” has yet to be released it does set the stage for a great Home Theatre PC user interface for PC games as well as potentially other media.
I must admit, that controller does not look the most ergonomic... but it is just a patent filing.
Last year, Valve also filed a patent with the US Patent Office for a video game controller with user swappable control components. Their patent filings show a controller which looks quite similar to an Xbox 360 controller where the thumbsticks can be replaced with touch pads as well as a trackball and potentially other devices. Return of Missile Command anyone?
Also a little over two years ago, Valve announced a partnership with Razer for their Sixense high-precision motion controllers. It is possible that Valve was supporting this technology for this future all along. While motion controllers have not proven to be successful for gaming, they are accepted as a method to control a device. Perhaps The Big Picture will be optimized to support Sixense and compatible devices?
The Verge goes beyond their claims that Valve will announce The Steam Box and has included specifications for a closed-doors prototype of the system. The system was rumored to be used to present to partners at CES contained an Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU.
You know if Microsoft had focused on Media Center for gaming rather than the Xbox...
It is very unclear whether Valve will attempt to take a loss on the platform in hopes to make it back up in Steam commissions. It is possible that Valve will just push the platform to OEM partners, but it is possible that they will release and market their own canon device.
I am interested to see how Valve will push the Home Theatre PC market. The main disadvantage that the PC platform has at the moment is simply marketing and development money. It is also possible that they wish to expand out and support other media through their Steam service as well.
At the very least, we should have a viable Home Theatre PC user interface as well as sharp lines between hardware profiles. A developer on the PC would love to know the exact number of potential users they should expect if they were to support a certain hardware configuration. Valve was always keen on supplying hardware profile statistics, and this is certainly a harsh evolution of that.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 28, 2012 - 07:27 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: MWC 12, Android 5.0, Android
Android Ice Cream Sandwich is currently getting rolled out to compatible devices at a leisurely pace. The OS itself is for the most part well appreciated by both developers and end-users. As the rollout progresses and minor maintenance patches are created: Google is looking forward to the next major version.
Just get Ice Cream Sandwich and they already talking about the future. U Jelly? : D
ComputerWorld went out to Barcelona to check out Mobile World Congress and of course could not resist reporting on Android. In an interview with Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google VP of Engineering for Mobile, we are treated to a few indirect statements about the next major version of Android.
The major release timeframe for Android is said to continue to be an annual endeavor. An annual release schedule would slate Android J (5.0) to an autumn timeframe. During the discussion, Lockheimer noted that there is flexibility with when developers wish to roll out updated. While that personally sounds like Google is allowing OEMs and carriers to take as long as they desire to implement the new Android releases it appears as if ComputerWorld has heard rumors of Android 5-power phones appearing as early as summer.
Despite ComputerWorld’s best effort, Google would not confirm the dessert associated with Android 5. Best guesses point to the name Jelly Bean, which are supported by a glass jar of Jelly Beans on the show floor.
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 25, 2012 - 07:06 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: texas instruments, MWC 12, arm, A9, A15
Texas Instruments could not wait until Mobile World Congress to start throwing punches. Despite their recent financial problems resulting in the closure of two fabrication plants TI believes that their product should speak for itself. Texas Instruments recently released a video showing their dual-core OMAP5 processor based on the ARM Cortex-A15 besting a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 in rendering websites.
Chuck Norris joke.
Even with being at a two core disadvantage the 800 MHz OMAP5 processor was clocked 40 percent slower than the 1.3 GHz Cortex A9. The OMAP5 is said to be able to reach 2.5 GHz if necessary when released commercially.
Certain portions of the video did look a bit fishy however. Firstly, CNet actually loaded quicker on the A9 processor but it idled a bit before advancing to the second page. The A9 could have been stuck loading an object that the OMAP 5 did not have an issue with, but it does seem a bit weird.
About the fishiest part of the video is that the Quad-Core A9, which we assume to be a Tegra 3, is running on Honeycomb where the OMAP5 is running Ice Cream Sandwich. Ice Cream Sandwich has been much enhanced for performance over Honeycomb.
We have no doubt that the ARM Cortex-A15 will be much improved over the current A9. The issue here is that TI cannot successfully prove that with this demonstration.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 24, 2012 - 06:18 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, DirectTouch, MWC 12
As a part of their Tegra 3 product, NVIDIA embedded the ability to control some of the touchscreen processing onto the CPU. The offloading allows for increased power efficiency by reducing the number of powered components as well as increased touch responsivity. Atmel, Cypress, and Synaptics are three leading touch-controller companies who join N-Trig, Raydium, and Focaltech in supporting the DirectTouch architecture.
Touchy subject, I know -- but...
Advancements in touch technology are definitely welcome especially when the words power efficiency or responsiveness are involved. Both NVIDIA and Intel have been looking for ways to reduce the number of electronics behind your phone or tablet. The less required to do the most the better we are. It is great to see NVIDIA taking the lead in innovation when it is needed the most.
While I do not mean to rain upon NVIDIA’s bright blue skies -- I must make a note. Despite the precision brought by high sample rate, there does appear to be quite a bit of latency between where his finger is and where the touch is reported. I would be curious to see where that latency occurs.
Of course this issue probably has nothing to do with NVIDIA. Videogames, particularly on consoles, are known to have latencies floating up to 100ms as the input device does not influence the frames being rendered often enough. The latency could come in from the touch device itself, from the software, the operating system, and/or whatever else.
We do not know where the latency occurs, but I expect that whoever crushes it will have a throne awaiting them somewhere in Silicon Valley.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 24, 2012 - 04:29 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: MWC 12, mozilla, B2G, LG
Mozilla will show off their marketplace for web apps at Mobile World Congress 2012. Mozilla Marketplace will support the upcoming Boot to Gecko (B2G) operating system for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. It is rumored that they will announce LG as a partner to develop either a tablet or a phone for developers of the B2G platform.
I ~ <3 Paypal... I guess.
Paypal has been announced as the payment processor for the Mozilla Marketplace. Paypal is not universally adored although we can understand why Mozilla would need to use an existing package. Prices are locked to one of 30 tiers so pricing is not entirely flexible but does run the gamut from 99-cents to $50 as well as of course free.
Hopefully we will get more details about Boot to Gecko or the Mozilla-powered LG phone at MWC in the coming days.
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 20, 2012 - 01:50 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Rosepoint, ISSCC 2012, ISSCC, Intel
If there is one thing that Intel is good at, it is writing a really big check to go in a new direction right when absolutely needed. Intel has released press information on what should be expected from their presence at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference which is currently in progress until the 23rd. The headliner for Intel at this event is their Rosepoint System on a Chip (SoC) which looks to lower power consumption by rethinking the RF transceiver and including it on the die itself. While the research has been underway for over a decade at this point, pressure from ARM has pushed Intel to, once again, throw money at R&D until their problems go away.
Intel could have easily trolled us all and have named this SoC "Centrino".
Almost ten years ago, AMD had Intel in a very difficult position. Intel fought to keep clock-rates high until AMD changed their numbering scheme to give proper credit to their higher performance-per-clock components. Intel dominated, legally or otherwise, the lower end market with their Celeron line of processors.
AMD responded with series of well-timed attacks against Intel. AMD jabbed Intel in the face and punched them in the gut with the release of the Sempron processor line nearby filing for anti-trust against Intel to allow them to more easily sell their processors in mainstream PCs.
At around this time, Intel decided to entirely pivot their product direction and made plans to take their Netburst architecture behind the shed. AMD has yet to recover from the tidal wave which the Core architectures crashed upon them.
Intel wishes to stop assaulting your battery indicator.
With the surge of ARM processors that have been fundamentally designed for lower power consumption than Intel’s x86-based competition, things look bleak for the expanding mobile market. Leave it to Intel to, once again, simply cut a gigantic check.
Intel is in the process of cutting power wherever possible in their mobile offerings. To remain competitive with ARM, Intel is not above outside-the-box solutions including the integration of more power-hungry components directly into the main processor. Similar to NVIDIA’s recent integration of touchscreen hardware into their Tegra 3 SoC, Intel will push the traditionally very power-hungry Wi-Fi transceivers into the SoC and supposedly eliminate all analog portions of the component in the process.
I am not too knowledgeable about Wi-Fi transceivers so I am not entirely sure how big of a jump Intel has made in their development, but it appears to be very significant. Intel is said to discuss this technology more closely during their talk on Tuesday morning titled, “A 20dBm 2.4GHz Digital Outphasing Transmitter for WLAN Application in 32nm CMOS.”
This paper is about a WiFi-compliant (802.11g/n) transmitter using Intel’s 32nm process and techniques leveraging Intel transistors to achieve record performance (power consumption per transmitted data better than state-of-the art). These techniques are expected to yield even better results when moved to Intel’s 22nm process and beyond.
What we do know is that the Rosepoint SoC will be manufactured at 32nm and is allegedly quite easy to scale down to smaller processes when necessary. Intel has also stated that while only Wi-Fi is currently supported, other frequencies including cellular bands could be developed in the future.
We will need to wait until later to see how this will affect the real world products, but either way -- this certainly is a testament to how much change a dollar can be broken into.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 17, 2012 - 06:33 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: tegra 3, MWC, htc
Mobile World Congress (MWC) is approaching and you should expect our coverage of the event from a hardware perspective. The actual event occurs from February 27th through March 1st although, like most events, we expect that the news coverage will begin a couple of days before that time. Rumors about what will appear at the show are already surfacing and include a few leaks about upcoming HTC releases.
Probably there's a very simple answer to it... still curious though.
(Update: As pointed out in the comments, one of the phones actually IS Tegra 3 powered. I read it as including some other processor... and somehow I only found the LG X3 when looking for Tegra 3 powered phones.)
TechCrunch rounded up details from a few sources about several phones from HTC that are expected at MWC. Ice Cream Sandwich appears to be the common thread amongst each of the leaks. Of particular note, HTC appears to be demonstrating a 10.1” tablet running an NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor. Their phones, on the other hand, do not. (Update: Yeah they do, my mistake.)
Unlike (Update: Actually, like) HTC, LG is expected to reveal a Tegra-3 powered phone, the LG X3, at Mobile World Congress -- so Tegra 3 phones are not nonexistent -- just seemingly a scarce commodity. It would be interesting to know why NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 technology appears, at least from my standpoint, so common on tablets yet so scarce on phones.
Be sure to keep checking back for our coverage of the event and all of your other hardware needs.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | February 2, 2012 - 02:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, Texas GamExperience
While we at PC Perspective wait for Quakecon before heading to Texas, [H]ard|OCP hosts the AMD GamExperience in Dallas during January. This is the third year in a row they've given gamers the chance to experience the newest in games and gaming peripherals and it must have been a good one since they only managed to recover enough to post the pictures today. As you can see below they are just as hard on the audience as Ryan and the crew, but with $55,000+ worth of prizes to give out it is possible to get gamers to do pushups. Check out what you missed here.
We did have a man on the scene, if you haven't seen Steve's coverage you really should.
"We recently put on the third "GamExperience" here in Dallas, TX! We invited 600 of our closet friends and 20 companies that crank out some of the best computer hardware in the world and put them all in one room together for some gaming and geek talk. And yeah, free stuff too, about $50,000 worth!"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Physics hardware makes Kepler/GK104 fast @ SemiAccurate
- Kinect for Windows released @ Hack a Day
- How-To: Make Your Own Aerogel @ MAKE:Blog
- Asus denies problems with Transformer Prime again @ The Inquirer
- HTC sends out a fix for WiFi security problem @ The Inquirer
- Ex-Apple engineer emits Zevo ZFS for Mac OS @ The Register
- OC3D: 2012 Competition MADNESS
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Shows and Expos | January 22, 2012 - 01:09 AM | Steve Grever
Tagged: overclocking, hardocp, ati, amd, 7970
More than 500 people made the trip to Eddie Deen’s Ranch in Dallas, Texas to attend AMD and HardOCP’s FX Game Experience event today. Many of the tech industry’s heavy hitters were on hand with interactive booths to showcase their latest PC hardware and provide people with around $50,000 in giveaways and prizes.
Check out our video coverage of the AMD [H]ardOCP FX GamExperience 2012 event!
ASUS, MSI, and Sapphire each brought their latest respective AMD-based motherboards and performance graphics cards to showcase at the event, including their HD Radeon 7950 and 7970 offerings. ASUS also gave the audience a closer look at some of their other PC gaming peripherals, wireless routers, and Blu ray burners.
HardOCP founder Kyle Bennett put on a show for the crowd with numerous raffle drawings and crazy contests for people to win new AMD processors and other hardware from MSI, Gigabyte, ASUS, Corsair, Ergotech, Antec, Maingear, Optoma, Patriot Memory, Astro, Sapphire, Western Digital, ArcSoft, ASRock, vReveal, Diamond Multimedia, and Zotac.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 18, 2012 - 03:29 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: CES, lucid, xlr8, vgware, cloud
Even though CES 2012 is behind us, there are still some things we took photos or video of that we wanted to show you. First up, Lucid had a suite off the strip to demonstrate a couple of new technologies coming from the company in 2012. VGWare is the current name for the cloud-based gaming technology based on the Lucid GPU virtualization technology that allows for games to be rendered on a server and played on a remote machine with only minimal hardware.
In the video above you see two integrated-GPU based notebooks playing Modern Warfare 2 (two instances) and Madagascar being rendered on a machine running an NVIDIA GTX 480 GPU.
Lucid intends to offer this technology to larger-scale companies that would want to compete with someone like OnLive or maybe even software developers directly. While that is what we expected, I told them that I would like to see a consumer version of this application - have a single high-powered gaming PC in your home and play games on multiple "thin client" PCs for LAN parties, etc. What do you all think - is that something you see as useful?
The second demo was for Lucid's XLR8 software that promises to improve performance of gaming on PCs, phones and tablets by intelligently managing display synchronization and GPU performance.
The really interesting part about XLR8 is the flexibility it offers - in our video you see it running on an ASUS Transformer tablet via the NVIDIA Tegra 2 SoC. Frame rates jumped about 40% but we didn't get enough hands on time with the configuration to truly make a decision on whether or not it was an improved gaming experience. Hopefully Lucid will get this technology to us soon for some hands-on time.
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!