Get your brains ready
Just before the weekend, Josh and I got a chance to speak with David Kanter about the AMD Zen architecture and what it might mean for the Ryzen processor due out in less than a month. For those of you not familiar with David and his work, he is an analyst and consultant on processor architectrure and design through Real World Tech while also serving as a writer and analyst for the Microprocessor Report as part of the Linley Group. If you want to see a discussion forum that focuses on architecture at an incredibly detailed level, the Real World Tech forum will have you covered - it's an impressive place to learn.
David was kind enough to spend an hour with us to talk about a recently-made-public report he wrote on Zen. It's definitely a discussion that dives into details most articles and stories on Zen don't broach, so be prepared to do some pausing and Googling phrases and technologies you may not be familiar with. Still, for any technology enthusiast that wants to get an expert's opinion on how Zen compares to Intel Skylake and how Ryzen might fare when its released this year, you won't want to miss it.
Digging in a Little Deeper into the DiRT
Over the past few weeks I have had the chance to play the early access "DiRT Rally" title from Codemasters. This is a much more simulation based title that is currently PC only, which is a big switch for Codemasters and how they usually release their premier racing offerings. I was able to get a hold of Paul Coleman from Codemasters and set up a written interview with him. Paul's answers will be in italics.
Who are you, what do you do at Codemasters, and what do you do in your spare time away from the virtual wheel?
Hi my name is Paul Coleman and I am the Chief Games Designer on DiRT Rally. I’m responsible for making sure that the game is the most authentic representation of the sport it can be, I’m essentially representing the player in the studio. In my spare time I enjoy going on road trips with my family in our 1M Coupe. I’ve been co-driving in real world rally events for the last three years and I’ve used that experience to write and voice the co-driver calls in game.
If there is one area that DiRT has really excelled at is keeping frame rate consistent throughout multiple environments. Many games, especially those using cutting edge rendering techniques, often have dramatic frame rate drops at times. How do you get around this while still creating a very impressive looking game?
The engine that DiRT Rally has been built on has been constantly iterated on over the years and we have always been looking at ways of improving the look of the game while maintaining decent performance. That together with the fact that we work closely with GPU manufacturers on each project ensures that we stay current. We also have very strict performance monitoring systems that have come from optimising games for console. These systems have proved very useful when building DiRT Rally even though the game is exclusively on PC.
How do you balance out different controller use cases? While many hard core racers use a wheel, I have seen very competitive racing from people using handheld controllers as well as keyboards. Do you handicap/help those particular implementations so as not to make it overly frustrating to those users? I ask due to the difference in degrees of precision that a gamepad has vs. a wheel that can rotate 900 degrees.
Again this comes back to the fact that we have traditionally developed for console where the primary input device is a handheld controller. This is an area that other sims don’t usually have to worry about but for us it was second nature. There are systems that we have that add a layer between the handheld controller or keyboard and the game which help those guys but the wheel is without a doubt the best way to experience DiRT Rally as it is a direct input.
Subject: Mobile | May 15, 2015 - 05:56 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, mali, jem davies, interview, arm
Have you ever wondered how a mobile GPU is born? Or how the architecture of a mobile GPU like ARM Mali differs from the technology in your discrete PC graphics card? Perhaps you just want to know if ideas like HBM (high bandwidth memory) are going to find their way into the mobile ecosystem any time soon?
Josh and I sat down (virtually) with ARM's VP of Technology and Fellow, Jem Davies, to answer these questions and quite a bit more. The resulting interview will shed light on the design process of a mobile GPU, how you get the most out of an SoC that measures power by the milliwatt, what the world of mobile benchmarking needs to do to clean up its act and quite a bit more.
You'd be hard pressed to find a better way to spend the next hour of your day as you will without a doubt walk away more informed about the world of smartphones, tablets and GPUs.
Project Lead: Joris-Jan van ‘t Land
Thanks to Ian Comings, guest writer from the PC Perspective Forums who conducted the interview of Bohemia Interactive's Joris-Jan van ‘t Land. If you are interested in learning more about ArmA 3 and hanging out with some PC gamers to play it, check out the PC Perspective Gaming Forum!
I recently got the chance to send some questions to Bohemia Interactive, a computer game development company based out of Prague, Czech Republic, and a member of IDEA Games. Bohemia Interactive was founded in 1999 by CEO Marek Španěl, and it is best known for PC gaming gems like Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis, The ArmA series, Take On Helicopters, and DayZ. The questions are answered by ArmA 3's Project Lead: Joris-Jan van ‘t Land.
PC Perspective: How long have you been at Bohemia Interactive?
VAN ‘T LAND: All in all, about 14 years now.
PC Perspective: What inspired you to become a Project Lead at Bohemia Interactive?
VAN ‘T LAND: During high school, it was pretty clear to me that I wanted to work in game development, and just before graduation, a friend and I saw a first preview for Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis in a magazine. It immediately looked amazing to us; we were drawn to the freedom and diversity it promised and the military theme. After helping run a fan website (Operation Flashpoint Network) for a while, I started to assist with part-time external design work on the game (scripting and scenario editing). From that point, I basically grew naturally into this role at Bohemia Interactive.
PC Perspective: What part of working at Bohemia Interactive do you find most satisfying? What do you find most challenging?
VAN ‘T LAND: The amount of freedom and autonomy is very satisfying. If you can demonstrate skills in some area, you're welcome to come up with random ideas and roll with them. Some of those ideas can result in official releases, such as Arma 3 Zeus. Another rewarding aspect is the near real-time connection to those people who are playing the game. Our daily Dev-Branch release means the work I do on Monday is live on Tuesday. Our own ambitions, on the other hand, can sometimes result in some challenges. We want to do a lot and incorporate every aspect of combat in Arma, but we're still a relatively small team. This can mean we bite off more than we can deliver at an acceptable level of quality.
PC Perspective: What are some of the problems that have plagued your team, and how have they been overcome?
VAN ‘T LAND: One key problem for us was that we had no real experience with developing a game in more than one physical location. For Arma 3, our team was split over two main offices, which caused quite a few headaches in terms of communication and data synchronization. We've since had more key team members travel between the offices more frequently and improved our various virtual communication methods. A lot of work has been done to try to ensure that both offices have the latest version of the game at any given time. That is not always easy when your bandwidth is limited and games are getting bigger and bigger.
What Mantle signifies about GPU architectures
Mantle is a very interesting concept. From the various keynote speeches, it sounds like the API is being designed to address the current state (and trajectory) of graphics processors. GPUs are generalized and highly parallel computation devices which are assisted by a little bit of specialized silicon, when appropriate. The vendors have even settled on standards, such as IEEE-754 floating point decimal numbers, which means that the driver has much less reason to shield developers from the underlying architectures.
Still, Mantle is currently a private technology for an unknown number of developers. Without a public SDK, or anything beyond the half-dozen keynotes, we can only speculate on its specific attributes. I, for one, have technical questions and hunches which linger unanswered or unconfirmed, probably until the API is suitable for public development.
Or, until we just... ask AMD.
Our response came from Guennadi Riguer, the chief architect for Mantle. In it, he discusses the API's usage as a computation language, the future of the rendering pipeline, and whether there will be a day where Crossfire-like benefits can occur by leaving an older Mantle-capable GPU in your system when purchasing a new, also Mantle-supporting one.
Q: Mantle's shading language is said to be compatible with HLSL. How will optimizations made for DirectX, such as tweaks during shader compilation, carry over to Mantle? How much tuning will (and will not) be shared between the two APIs?
[Guennadi] The current Mantle solution relies on the same shader generation path games the DirectX uses and includes an open-source component for translating DirectX shaders to Mantle accepted intermediate language (IL). This enables developers to quickly develop Mantle code path without any changes to the shaders. This was one of the strongest requests we got from our ISV partners when we were developing Mantle.
Follow-Up: What does this mean, specifically, in terms of driver optimizations? Would AMD, or anyone else who supports Mantle, be able to re-use the effort they spent on tuning their shader compilers (and so forth) for DirectX?
[Guennadi] With the current shader compilation strategy in Mantle, the developers can directly leverage DirectX shader optimization efforts in Mantle. They would use the same front-end HLSL compiler for DX and Mantle, and inside of the DX and Mantle drivers we share the shader compiler that generates the shader code our hardware understands.
Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2013 - 07:17 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: pc gaming, interview, bioshock infinite
Despite the yearly proclamations of death, PC gaming is still alive and kicking. 2012 saw a number of developers put more emphasis back on the PC in multi-platform development schedules. It seems that Irrational Games also realizes the advantages of the PC platform with Bioshock Infinite. In an interview with Ken Levine and Chris Kline of Irrational Games, the developers told IGN what the company is doing to develop the PC version of the game. While they encountered several issues during development of the first Bioshock, Irrational Games is giving Bioshock Infinite its own team of on-call programmers to develop the PC version.
Reportedly, the developers underestimated the time and effort required to develop the first Bioshock game using DirectX 10 technology and a PC-optimized UI. In the interview with IGN, Irrational Games’ Technical Director Chris Kline stated that “this time around things were done differently.” Irrational Game has a team of programmers, artists, designers, and UI specialists dedicated to the PC development track along with the team working on the console versions.
The PC version of Bioshock Infinite will be able to take full advantage of the higher-end hardware in computers. The game will come on 3 discs and feature:
- Additional objects and particles versus consoles
- Longer viewing distances
- Higher quality textures
- High precision color buffer
DirectX 11 features:
- Contact hardening shadows
- HD ambient occlusion
- Diffusion depth of field
- Compute Shader
- FXAA using Shader Model 5
According to the developers, medium quality settings on the PC will be equivalent to the console versions of the game. From there, the PC will have high, very high, and ultra settings that will further ramp up visual quality beyond what the current generation of consoles are capable of. Specifically, the PC system requirements for Bioshock Infinite are as follows:
|Component||Minimum Requirements||Recommended Requirements|
|CPU||Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.4GHz or AMD Athlon X2 @ 2.7GHz||Quad-core processor|
|GPU||ATI Radeon HD 3870 or NVIDIA 8800GT||AMD Radeon HD 6950 or NVIDIA GTX 560|
|HDD||20GB free||30GB free|
|Sound Card||DirectX Compatible||DirectX Compatible|
|Operating System||Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (32-bit)||Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (64-bit)|
It is refreshing to see developers respect the gaming platform that starting it all and is driving the industry (in hardware at least), and take PC gaming seriously. Here's hoping Bioshock Infinite is a success. Considering it is due out on March 26th, 2013 gamers do not have long to wait to find out how well the PC version was done.
IGN has the full interview with Chris Kline and Kevin Levine that is worth reading to find out the developers stance on the future of PC gaming, the Oculus Rift, and even Valve's upcoming Steam Box!
Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards, Processors | August 4, 2011 - 03:15 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: nvidia, john carmack, interview, carmack, amd
A couple of years back we talked on the phone with John Carmack during the period of excitement about ray tracing and game engines. That interview is still one of our most read articles on PC Perspective as he always has interesting topics and information to share. While we are hosting the PC Perspective Hardware Workshop on Saturday at Quakecon 2011, we also scheduled some time to sit with John again to pick his brain on hardware and technology.
If you had a chance to ask John Carmack questions about hardware and technology, either the current sets of each or what he sees coming in the future, what would you ask? Let us know in our comments section below!! (No registration required to comment.)
Subject: Editorial | May 27, 2011 - 05:52 PM | John Davis
Tagged: ubuntu, linux, kernel, interview, hardware
In a continuation of our effort to embrace and report on the open-source community, PC Perspective has contacted another very interesting Open-Source project. This week we selected Ubuntu and their Manager of the Ubuntu Kernel Team, Pete Graner
Image courtesy of Ubuntu
The self-described beginning of Ubuntu:
Linux was already established as an enterprise server platform in 2004. But free software was still not a part of everyday life for most computer users. That's why Mark Shuttleworth gathered a small team of developers from one of the most established Linux projects – Debian - and set out to create an easy-to-use Linux desktop, Ubuntu.
The vision for Ubuntu is part social and part economic: free software, available free of charge to everybody on the same terms, and funded through a portfolio of services provided by Canonical.
If you would like to learn more about Ubuntu please click here.
Ubuntu also lists its features as the following:
- A fresh look
The launcher: Get easy access to your favourite tools and applications with our lovely new launcher. You can hide and reveal it, add and remove apps and keep track of your open windows.
The dash: Our new dash offers a great way to get to your shortcuts and search for more apps and programs. So you can get fast access to your email, music, pictures and much more.
Workspaces: Our handy workspaces tool gives you a really easy way to view and move between multiple windows and applications.
You can surf in safety with Ubuntu – confident that your files and data will stay protected. A built-in firewall and virus protection come as standard. And if a potential threat appears, we provide automatic updates which you can install in a single click. You get added security with AppArmor, which protects your important applications so attackers can’t access your system. And thanks to Firefox and gnome-keyring, Ubuntu helps you keep your private information private. So whether it’s accessing your bank account or sharing sensitive data with friends or colleagues, you’ll have peace of mind when you need it the most.
Ubuntu works brilliantly with a range of devices. Simply plug in your mp3 player, camera or printer and you’ll be up and running straight away. No installation CDs. No fuss. And it’s compatible with Windows too! So you can open, edit and share Microsoft Office documents stress-free.
Ubuntu loads quickly on any computer, but it's super-fast on newer machines. With no unnecessary programs and trial software slowing things down, booting up and opening a browser takes seconds. Unlike other operating systems that leave you staring at the screen, waiting to get online. And Ubuntu won’t grow sluggish over time. It’s fast. And it stays fast.
Accessibility is central to the Ubuntu philosophy. We believe that computing is for everyone regardless of nationality, race, gender or disability. Fully translated into 25 languages, Ubuntu also includes essential assistive technologies, which are, of course, completely free. We recommend the Ubuntu classic desktop experience for users with particular accessibility requirements.
(Image courtesy of Distrowatch)
I have used Ubuntu almost as long as I have been using Fedora. Ubuntu has been my go to Linux distrobution since Wartty Warthog. I have installed Ubuntu on laptops, family members computers, and I even went 100% Ubuntu for a year. In my experience, any and all of my questions could be answered by Documentation, Community, and Launchpad.
Now that you have a brief idea about Ubuntu, lets get to the interview:
(Hit that Read More link for the details!!)