Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | March 8, 2012 - 04:02 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ray tracing, tablet, tablets, knight's ferry, Intel
Intel looks to bring ray-tracing from their Many Integrated Core (Intel MIC) architecture to your tablet… by remotely streaming from a server loaded with one or more Knight’s Ferry cards.
The anticipation of ray-tracing engulfed almost the entirety of 3D video gaming history. The reasonable support of ray-tracing is very seductive for games as it enables easier access to effects such as global illumination, reflections, and so forth. Ray-tracing is well deserved of its status as a buzzword.
Render yourself in what Knight’s Ferry delivered… with scaling linearly and ray-traced Wolfenstein
Screenshot from Intel Blogs.
Obviously Intel would love to make headway into the graphics market. In the past Intel has struggled to put forth an acceptable offering for graphics. It is my personal belief that Intel did not take graphics seriously when they were content selling cheap GPUs to be packed in with PCs. While the short term easy money flowed in, the industry slipped far enough ahead of them that they could not just easily pounce back into contention with a single huge R&D check.
Intel obviously cares about graphics now, and has been relentless at their research into the field. Their CPUs are far ahead of any competition in terms of serial performance -- and power consumption is getting plenty of attention itself.
Intel has long ago acknowledged the importance of massively parallel computing but was never quite able to bring products like Larabee against anything the companies they once ignored could retaliate with. This brings us back to ray-tracing: what is the ultimate advantage of ray-tracing?
Ray-tracing is a dead simple algorithm.
A ray-trace renderer is programmed very simply and elegantly. Effects are often added directly and without much approximation necessary. No hacking around is required in the numerous caveats within graphics APIs in order to get a functional render on screen. If you can keep throwing enough coal on the fire, it will burn without much effort -- so to speak. Intel just needs to put a fast enough processor behind it, and away they go.
Throughout the article, Daniel Pohl has in fact discussed numerous enhancements that they have made to their ray-tracing engine to improve performance. One of the most interesting improvements is their approach to antialiasing. If the rays from two neighboring pixels strike different meshes or strike the same mesh at the point of a sharp change in direction, denoted by color, between pixels then they are flagged for supersampling. The combination of that shortcut with MLAA will also be explored by Intel at some point.
A little behind-the-scenes trickery...
Screenshot from Intel Blogs.
Intel claims that they were able to achieve 20-30 FPS at 1024x600 resolutions streaming from a server with a single Knight’s Ferry card installed to an Intel Atom-based tablet. They were able to scale to within a couple percent of theoretical 8x performance with 8 Knight’s Ferry cards installed.
I very much dislike trusting my content to online streaming services as I am an art nut. I value the preservation of content which just is not possible if you are only able to access it through some remote third party -- can you guess my stance on DRM? That aside, I understand that Intel and others will regularly find ways to push content to where there just should not be enough computational horsepower to accept it.
Ray-tracing might be Intel’s attempt to circumvent all of the years of research that they ignored with conventional real-time rendering technologies. Either way, gaming engines are going the way of simpler rendering algorithms as GPUs become more generalized and less reliant on fixed-function hardware assigned to some arbitrary DirectX or OpenGL specification.
Intel just hopes that they can have a compelling product at that destination whenever the rest of the industry arrives.
Subject: Mobile | March 7, 2012 - 04:10 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, mobile, ipad 3, ipad, ios, apple
Apple officially launched the new Apple iPad 3 tablet today, and consumers will be glad to know that many of the rumors around the Internet are not far from the truth. The new iOS powered tablet will be packing a retina display, new A5X with "quad core graphics," and an optional 4G LTE radio. The retina display on the iPad 3 is 2048x1536 pixels, and works out to 264 PPI (pixels per inch).
The iPad 3's hardware will further include an updated A5 SoC that also includes a quad core graphics aspect, whatever they mean by that. Phil Schiller states that the new A5X chip "has four times the performance of NVIDIA's quad-core Tegra 3 chip." Apple has also updated the camera in the iPad 3 such that it has a 5 megapixel camera with image stabilization, hybrid IR (infrared) filter, and backside illuminated senor capable of recording 1080p video.
On the 4G LTE front, both AT&T and Verizon will carry the iPad 3 in the US, and the 4G radio will also work on Rogers, Bell, and Telus' networks in Canada. In other markets, the iPad 3 will still be able to connect to 3G networks. According to Ars, the new Apple tablet will maintain the same physical dimensions, and will enable 10 hours of battery life while on 3G or Wi-Fi and 9 hours of battery life when the 4G LTE radio is in use.
The iPad 3 will come in either black or white colors, and will be available for purchase March 16th in the US, Canada, UK, France, and Germany (among others), and March 23th for the rest of the world. The iPad 2 will also stay around at a lower price point of $399 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi model and $529 for 3G.
The iPad 3 will come in at the following price points:
|Apple iPad 3 Model||Price point (USD)|
|16 GB Wi-Fi||$499|
|32 GB Wi-Fi||$599|
|64 GB Wi-Fi||$699|
|16 GB 4G LTE||$629|
|32 GB 4G LTE||$729|
|64 GB 4G LTE||$829|
Lastly, despite rumors, the iPad 3 will not be getting Siri access, and the physical home button is still present. Pre-orders for the new tablet start today, and more information on the pre-order is available over at apple.com/ipad. What do you guys think of the new tablet, will you be picking one up when it launches?
Subject: Mobile | February 28, 2012 - 03:43 PM | Matt Smith
Tagged: tegra 3, tablet, nvidia, MWC, mobile world congress, gaming
Nvidia has always been happy to show off the gaming capabilities of Tegra 2 and Tegra 3. No surprise there – the company’s roots are in PC graphics, which goes hand-in-hand with PC games. When we reviewed the Transformer Prime there were several beautiful pre-installed games, such as Shadowgun, that showed off the hardware. Now Nvidia has come up with not one but five more new titles to brag about at Mobile World Congress – including a new Sonic the Hedgehog game.
Let’s have a look at them.
Dark Kingdom THD
This is a role-playing game built in the vein of games like Diablo and Torchlight. The visuals are impressive and a game like this should control well on a tablet, so this could prove to be an excellent title. I do wish the graphics offered more variety, however – they look a bit dark and dreary to me.
Eden to GREEEEN THD
Hey, are you tired of tower defense games yet? I hope not, because that’s what Eden to GREEEEN is, albeit it one that has somewhat less restrictive mechanics than most titles in the genre. Of the games that Nvidia showed at Mobile World Congress this is easily the least attractive, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun to play.
Golden Arrow THD
This is a hack-and-slash title that apparently will be including a lot of lens flare and explosions. I’m not sure that sounds appealing, but if you’re into that sort of thing, go for it. There’s no video available for this title right now, so we don’t have a lot to go on.
Hamilton’s Great Adventure THD
This game, which is already available on other platforms (you can even pick it up on Steam), is a puzzle game that asks players to navigate hazardous terrain on their quest to collect treasure and do over adventure-y things. The versions of this game that have come out for other platforms have received a fair amount of praise, so Nvidia is wise to be bragging about adding this to its stable.
Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II
Nvidia has been bragging about Tegra 3’s console-quality graphics, so why not poach one of console gaming’s most popular franchises? Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II looks to be a straight port of the version that will be available on game consoles, which means platforming at light speed with excellent 3D graphics. I sincerely hope that the controls are solid, because if so, this could be one of the best games on any tablet.
Availability for the titles shown by Nvidia is generally vague, but can be summed up as vaguely “spring.” The Sonic game, for example, will be coming out for Xbox 360 on May 16, so the tablet version will probably release sometime close to that date.
Subject: Mobile | February 27, 2012 - 07:00 AM | Matt Smith
Tagged: MWC, Transformer, tablet, padfone, mobile world congress, eee pad, asus, MWC 12, infinity, transformer prime
While attending CES last month, ASUS showed us a Transformer Prime with a full HD display. It looked great, but it did feel as if the branding would be a bit perplexing, as this new model would also be sold as a Prime.
Apparently the company had this thought, as well. They’ve now unveiled the Transformer Pad Infinity Series, a new tablet with a 1920x1200 IPS+ display. It will come in two different variants. One is 4G LTE compatible and uses a Qualcomm MSM 8960 Snapdragon S4 Krait (whoa! Take a breath…) dual-core 1.5 GHz processor. The WiFi version, on the other hand, uses the now-familiar Nvidia Tegra 3. Both models have a 2MP front camera and an 8MP rear camera with LED flash. They also share the same 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage options. The Infinity Series will be available in the same Amethyst Gray and Champagne Gold finishes already available on the current Transformer Prime.
(Editor's Note) If you are wondering why the LTE version of the new Transformer Infinity is not using the quad-core Tegra 3 SoC, we are hearing that the NVIDIA part is still not compatible with LTE radio controllers and won't be for another few months. This is also why the new HTC One X smartphone doesn't use the Tegra 3 processor on the AT&T LTE network while other phones in the family do. So will users of the LTE version of the Infinity miss the quad-core design when moving to the dual-core option from Qualcomm instead? While we can't be sure, the new Krait design is a "wider" CPU with a better memroy interface yet still runs at similar clock speeds and it should be faster in single or lightly threaded programs.
This new flagship will slot above the Transformer Prime. But ASUS hasn’t just focused on the glitter and gold – they’ve also taken the wraps off the Transformer Pad 300, which is a new entry-level model. It features a 1280x800 IPS display and uses Tegra 3 in both the 4G LTE and WiFi models. The front camera is a 1.2MP unit and the rear camera is 8MP with LED flash. 16GB of internal storage is your only option. The 300 will offer new blue, white and red color schemes not yet available on any Transformer table
Both of these new models are Transformers, which means keyboard docks will be available as an option. They also include Android 4.0 and quote the same battery life of 10 hours without the dock.
Subject: Mobile | February 25, 2012 - 12:31 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Transformer, tablet, ics, ice cream sandwich, eee pad transformer, asus, Android
While the new Tegra 3 powered Transformer Prime and it's Transformer Prime with upgraded display sibling have stolen the spotlight from the original dock-able Transformer tablet, Asus has not forgotten about it. They recently began pushing out an Over The Air update to bring a tasty Ice Cream Sandwich to the Asus Transformer (original)!
In case you missed it, our own Matt Smith did a review of the new Android operating system on the Transformer Prime here. While the original Transformer is running older hardware, users are reporting that aside from minor app glitches performs fairly well on the Tegra 2. And if you've been living under a rock for the past two years, he also wrote up a nice review of the original Eee Pad Transfomer.
According to Maximum PC, users are reporting that the update was mostly a success and the performance was decent, though there seems to be a few instances of app glitchy-ness. It will just take some time to work out the kinks in updating the older hardware, and in general I think the update is a great thing for Asus to provide, especially this late in the game. Perhaps we will start seeing some discounted Transformers, though we may also see them become more valuable and go for a few more dollars now that they are updated to the new ICS OS.
It is nice to see Asus continuing to support their products with new updates. Have you received the ICS update on your Transformer yet? Let us know what you think of the performance and new features in the comments below!
Introduction, Design, User Interface
Late in December of 2011 we received the Transformer Prime for review. What we did not recieve, however, was the keyboard dock. High demand by journalists for a look at the company's latest and greatest Transformer had left them short of docks, in turn leaving us short of a dock.
Now we've finally had our hands on one. Since it was shipped to us several weeks after the review Prime, we were able to give it our full attention. As with the original Transformer, the dock is one of the features that help the Prime stand out from the crowd - but that doesn't mean it is automatically destined for greatness. If the Prime wants to act like a laptop, it will have to be able to compete with laptops - and that's a tall order for a system without Windows or an x86 processor.
Besides a keyboard, the dock adds a few other specifications that are worth mentioning. Let's take a look at them.
So, as with the previous dock, you’re not just buying a keyboard. You’re also receiving an extended battery with impressive capacity and some additional connectivity. Given the MSRP of $150, however, you’d kind of expect there to be more than just a keyboard.
Subject: Mobile | January 31, 2012 - 03:30 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, smartphone, padfone, asus, Android
Remember the Asus Padfone? I won't blame you if you do not as it is practically ancient by tech history standards. Making its first appearance at Computex 2011 last May, the device made a splash that quickly died off as it never came to market. To be honest, I just assumed it had completely died off. Apparently; however, Asus did not forget about it and is planning to show it off at this years Mobile World Congress according to an article over at Android Central. Here's hoping they've adjusted for the success of tablets that have surfaced in the interim and that it is at a minimum running the Honeycomb or Gingerbread (Ice Cream Sandwich would be even better) OS and a fast processor.
The Padfone, if the specifications from last year hold true is a 4.3" smartphone that can fit snugly inside of a 10" tablet form factor display that has it's own battery. The tablet portion can charge the smartphone and/or drive the larger display and the smartphone acts as the hardware of the device with it's SoC (system on a chip) and by allowing access to the 3G and WiFi data connections of the phone's radio.
There are still many question about the viability of such a device; however, with the rise in popularity of Android phones if Asus could make it such that any Android phone (within size constraints of course) could nestle itself inside the larger touchscreen display, they might have a popular product on their hands...
Subject: Mobile | January 26, 2012 - 03:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tablet, ssd, oaktrail, mobile, Kupa X11, atom Z670, atom
You might not expect to see a tablet being examined at the SSD Review, except for the Kupa X11 which contains a 64 or 128GB mSSD drive. As the Atom and Oaktrail pairing are perhaps not the fastest mobile chips on the block, the initial testing tried to determine if that chipset would prove to be a bottleneck. They tested the Kingspec 128GB SSD which was included in the tablet as well as a Renice X3 120GB ‘SandForce Driven’ SSD and a Kingston mS100 SSD. The Kingspec was the slowest choice of the three and even though the other two did perform more impressively Oaktrail did indeed prove to limit the performance of the drives. On the other hand, it is still faster than a HDD and the SSD helps to extend the life of this 1366 x 768 10.1″ tablet to around 10 hours. Also worth noting is that this tablet runs Xin7 Professional, not a trimmed down OS, and will fully support Win8.
"Just prior to CES we had received an e-mail from a reader who had spoken of a company called Kupa, a tablet manufacturer who, as the reader had stated, “wasn’t afraid to experiment outside the box”. it took us all of two seconds to get to the Kupa Website and discover the Kupa X11, a tablet PC with all the power of a full size computer to include a Intel Atom Z670 1.5Ghz Oaktrail platform, 2GB RAM and your choice of 64 or 128GB SSD. Needless to say, we were impressed."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Acer Aspire TimelineX 5830TG-6614 Review @ TechReviewSource
- HP Envy 15 (Early 2012) Review @ TechReviewSource
- Capsule Review: GeChic's On-Lap 1301 Laptop Monitor @ AnandTech
- The Battle of The Netbooks: Intel vs AMD @ eTeknix
- Mobile CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- GE Chic 13 inch On-Lap Monitor Review @ TechwareLabs
- Thermaltake Tt eSport Battle Dragon LAN Bag Review @ eTeknix
- Motorola Razr Android Smartphone Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Samsung Galaxy Nexus & Ice Cream Sandwich @ AnandTech
- HTC Explorer Android Smartphone Review @ HardwareHeaven
- How to transfer and play .AVI movies on your iPhone @ Funky Kit
Subject: Mobile | January 13, 2012 - 02:27 PM | Matt Smith
Tagged: CES, wireless power, wireless, tablet, smartphone, mobile, charging
Where was the most interesting technology at CES? Intel’s booth? Nope. Nvidia’s booth? Guess again. Perhaps you could find it at Qualcomm’s stand? Guess again.
If you ask me, the most interesting technology was tucked away in the back of the lower level of the South Hall, which is where you’ll find smaller companies and organizations that have decided to forgo a normal booth and instead just rent out space for a meeting room. That’s where you’ll find The Wireless Power Consortium and its Qi wireless power standard.
Wireless power is exactly what it sounds like. You may have already heard of the charging mats made available by companies like Energizer. These allow users to charge a smartphone simply by placing them in the right location, forgetting about cords entirely.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But there’s been a problem with them – until recently, they’ve all been proprietary. You had to use a special charging case to get the mats to work with your phone and that case wouldn’t work with competing products. You also were limited to charging in your home (or wherever you place the charging mat) which kind of defeats the point.
To fix this, there must be a standard, and that’s what The Wireless Power Consortium has created. It’s called Qi, and it’s a coil-based charging solution that can be implemented in all sorts of mobile devices. Currently the standard can handle up to 5 watts and can work within 5mm, but both of these figures are to be expanded. New technology that can handle 10 watts is being tested, and the hope is for 120 watts to be achievable in the near future. That would allow for wireless charging of PCs and appliances.
But enough about the specifications. Why am I excited about Qi? Let me explain.
Many current smartphones have mini-USB ports for one reason only – charging. Everything else, from syncing music to downloading files, can be achieved through a wireless connection. If that port could be removed entirely, it would allow for more design flexibility. Take the current Droid Razr, for example. It is extremely thin except for a bulge that houses the camera and the ports. If you could charge your phone wirelessly, designers would have one less port to design around.
Battery life is another part of this equation. As technology in our mobile devices continues to improve at an amazing rate, battery technology doesn’t seem able to keep up. I know – I own a HTC Thunderbolt. My phone has notoriously bad battery life with 4G LTE enabled.
One solution is to make batteries bigger, but that increases weight, size and cost. Wireless power offers an alternative – make charging easier and more frequent. If you had wireless power in your car, at work and at home, your phone could easily maintain a high level of charge. And since it’s wireless, you don’t have to do anything except place your phone in the right place.
The Wireless Power Consortium booth – er, meeting room – had some interesting examples to show me. One was a table with a built-in Qi compatible charger that can be deployed at restaurants, coffee shops and other places. In fact, some such tables can already be found in Japan and China. They number only in the hundreds, but it’s start.
For our Asian friends, who use more public transportation and tend to live in more densely packed cities, charging tables make a lot of sense. But here in North America we tend to get around with our own private vehicles. To help the standard get traction here, The Wireless Power Consortium is working with auto manufacturers to place wireless charging in automobiles. They hope that we’ll see it offered in a few vehicles starting the 2013 model year.
There are a lot of pieces that need to find their place in order for Qi to really take off, but they at least have the necessary partners including big names like Motorola and Texas Instruments, among many others. Keep an eye on this over the next year – it could end up being a true game changer.
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Mobile | January 11, 2012 - 05:02 PM | Matt Smith
Tagged: tablet, razer, mouse, laptop, keyboard, gaming, CES
Gaming peripheral company Razer is already well known for its gaming mice, keyboards, headsets and other gadgets. But if CES 2012 is any indication, they’re far from content making products that go along with gaming devices.
You’ve probably already heard of the Project Fiona gaming tablet. It made quite a splash at CES when it was announced last night, and today I had a chance to inspect it up close and personal.
Unfortunately they’re keeping the prototype in a glass case to protect it, but handling it would not reveal much information anyway. Razer has made it clear that the device is only a prototype and will be revised significantly before release. Everything from the display resolution to the controllers could change, and the company is encouraging feedback to help them refine the final concept.
The only thing that seems concrete is the pricing. Razer is very confident that the final product will be sold for under $1000. I doubt it will provide amazing hardware at that price, but this was never going to be the system of choice for playing Battlefield 3 regardless of what’s inside. The finalized version of Project Fiona is targeted for release this year.
Another system being built by Razer is the Blade laptop, a product that was announced several months ago but is now finalized and should be on store shelves in February. The Blade is a thin and portable 17-inch laptop built for mobile gaming. Despite the large display it weighs about 6.5 pounds and is less than an inch thick.
Unlike a normal laptop, the blade doesn’t have a touchpad below the keyboard. Instead the Blade replaces the numpad with a multi-touch display and ten programmable LCD keys. Mouse navigation takes place using the multi-touch display, but if you’d like it can also be used for other tasks including web browsing and recording macros. Razer is also working with game developers to make it possible for games to display customized information and controls.
The Blade comes equipped with a Core i7 dual-core processor, Nvidia GeForce GT555M graphics and 8GB of RAM. These specifications are disappointing in light of the $2799 price tag. Razer tried to play down the hardware, insisting that hardcore gamers looking for a mobile machine will be more concerned with the laptop’s portability and customizable mutli-touch display than raw power.
Also shown was a full set of new Star Wars: The Old Republic peripherals. Of these the most notable is the keyboard, which features Star Wars design ques and a multi-touch display identical to the one on the Razer Blade laptop. Players will be able to bind abilities to the customizable LCD keys and see game information via the display. There’s a lot of possibility here, but it doesn’t come cheap – you’ll have to part with $249 to snag this keyboard.
Last is Razer’s new Hex mouse. It is similar to the Razer Naga, but six larger buttons in a hex format have replaced the columns of programmable buttons. Razer says that this design works better with action-RPGs and specifically referenced Diablo 3 as a game they had in mind when designing the mouse. The Hex will use Synapse 2.0, Razer’s cloud device profile service. An unlimited number of custom profiles can be stored on remote servers (hosted by Amazon) and they are automatically downloaded to the Hex when it is plugged in to a new computer. Pricing is set at $79.99 with availability expected in February.
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!