Summer Games Done Quick 2017 Begins Sunday

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2017 - 11:39 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, gdq, speedrun

Starting on Sunday, Games Done Quick will be hosting their twice-annual, 24-hour speedrun marathon until 3am on the following Sunday. It will begin with a one-handed playthrough of NieR: Automata, and just keep going through game after game, including a handful of races between popular runners of applicable titles. (Personally, those tend to be my favorite segments.) Many are run on the PC!

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This event will benefit Doctors Without Borders.

Until Awesome Games Done Quick 2017, it looked like the amount raised per week-long event settled at around 1.3 million. That one, however, leapfrogged the previous year’s total by a whole million dollars, ending up at $2.22 million USD. Summer Games Done Quick, apart from last year, tends to do a little less, but who knows?

Unity Labs Announces Global Research Fellowship

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2017 - 11:17 PM |
Tagged: Unity, machine learning, deep learning

Unity, who makes the popular 3D game engine of the same name, has announced a research fellowship for integrating machine learning into game development. Two students, who must have been enrolled in a Masters or a PhD program on June 26th, will be selected and provided with $30,000 for a 6-month fellowship. The deadline is midnight (PDT) on September 9th.

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We’re beginning to see a lot of machine-learning applications being discussed for gaming. There are some cases, like global illumination and fluid simulations, where it could be faster for a deep-learning algorithm to hallucinate a convincing than a physical solver will produce a correct one. In this case, it makes sense to post-process each frame, so, naturally, game engine developers are paying attention.

If eligible, you can apply on their website.

Source: Unity

Deux Ex: Mankind Divided Frame Breakdown

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2017 - 10:40 PM |
Tagged: square enix, pc gaming, eidos montreal, deus ex: mankind divided

Frames of modern video games can be made up of tens of thousands of draw calls, which consist of a set of polygons and a shader pipeline that operates on it, and compute tasks. Last September, we found an article by Adrian Courrèges that broke down a single frame of DOOM, and discussed all of the techniques based on information from debug tools and SIGGRAPH slides.

This time, we found a video from János Turánszki that analyzes the ~32,000 - 33,000 graphics API calls of a single Deus Ex: Mankind Divided frame, using NVIDIA Nsight. As he scrubs through these events, he mentions things like how text is painted, a bug with temporal anti-aliasing, what appears to be a multi-pass blur for frosted glass, and so forth.

János Turánszki develops the open-source (MIT licensed) Wicked Engine.

Source: YouTube

AMD Releases Radeon ProRender for Blender and SolidWorks

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2017 - 06:24 PM |
Tagged: solidworks, ray tracing, radeon, prorender, nvidia, mental ray, Blender, amd

AMD has released a free ray-tracing engine for Blender, as well as Maya, 3D Studio Max, and SolidWorks, called Radeon ProRender. It uses a physically-based workflow, which allows multiple materials to be expressed in a single, lighting-independent shader, making it easy to color objects and have them usable in any sensible environment.

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Image Credit: Mike Pan (via Twitter)

I haven’t used it yet, and I definitely haven’t tested how it stacks up against Cycles, but we’re beginning to see some test renders from Blender folks. It looks pretty good, as you can see with the water-filled Cornell box (above). Moreover, it’s rendered on an NVIDIA GPU, which I’m guessing they had because of Cycles, but that also shows that AMD is being inclusive with their software.

Radeon ProRender puts more than a little pressure on Mental Ray, which is owned by NVIDIA and licensed on annual subscriptions. We’ll need to see how quality evolves, but, as you see in the test render above, it looks pretty good so far... and the price can’t be beat.

Source: AMD

Beyond Good and Evil 2 Voyager Engine Demo

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2017 - 05:09 PM |
Tagged: ubisoft, pc gaming

Honestly, I don’t really know how many first-party engines Ubisoft currently maintains anymore. Anvil is one of their more popular ones, which was used in Assassin’s Creed, Steep, For Honor, and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. Far Cry 5 will be using the Dunia Engine, which was forked from the original CryEngine. Tom Clancy’s The Division, Mario + Rabbids, and the new South Park use Snowdrop. I know that I’m missing some.

Add another one to the list: Voyager, which will be used in Beyond Good and Evil 2.

From what I gather with the video, this engine is optimized for massive differences in scale. The Creative Director for Beyond Good and Evil 2, Michael Ancel, showed the camera (in developer mode) smoothly transition from a high-detailed player model out to a part of a solar system. They claim that the sunset effects are actually caused by the planet’s rotation. Interesting stuff!

A game of memory, testing Intel's sensitivity to RAM frequency

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2017 - 01:07 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Intel, ddr3, ddr4

Overclockers Club have completed a daunting task, testing the effect of RAM frequency on game performance from DDR3-1333 through DDR4-3200.  In theory Intel's chips will not see the same improvements as AMD's Ryzen, lacking Infinity Fabric which has proved to be sensitive to memory frequency.  Since OCC cover two generations of RAM they also needed to test with two different processors, in this case the i7-4770K and i7-7700K and they tested performance at 1440p as well as 1080p.  Read the full article to see the full results which do show some performance deltas, however they nothing compared to spending more on your GPU.

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"After running through all of the tests, it appears that what I previously thought was an easy and clear answer is in fact more complicated. With the evidence provided I can safely say that memory can play a large role in some games over all frame rates. However, other factors like the processor, type of video card, and resolution will usually provide bigger impact in the final frame rates. Strictly speaking of game performances, the fastest memory tested does yield better results."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Celebrate Summer with FSP and PC Perspective! Win PSUs and Cases!

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2017 - 12:53 PM |
Tagged: giveaway, contest

It seems like it has been forever since we had a contest on the site...let's remedy that with our friends at FSP!

Celebrate Summer with FSP and PC Perspective!

Anyone on the globe is able to enter - good luck!

Source: FSP

CastAR casts off for the perhaps the last time

Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2017 - 01:13 PM |
Tagged: Jeri Ellsworth, Rick Johnson, CastAR, augmented reality

The brain child of fomer Valve employees Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson, CastAR, is no more.  They were part of the original team at Valve which helped create SteamVR, their focus was on augmented reality applications which Valve eventually decided to drop and Jeri and Rick were allowed to keep the IP which they helped develop.  They went on to launch a very successful Kickstarter to help develop their technology and when they eventually received $15 million in investments they chose to return the money invested by their Kickstarter backers; a very different reaction than others have had.

Unfortunately they have not been able to continue to attract investment for their AR products and according to the information Polygon garnered, they have significantly downsized the number of employees and may be seeking to sell their technology.  This is exceptionally bad news as their first set of AR goggles were set to launch later this year.  The market seems far more willing to invest in VR than it does AR, which presents a large hurdle for smaller businesses to succeed.  Hopefully we will hear happier news about Jeri, her team, and CastAR in the future but for now it looks rather bleak.

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"In 2013, Technical Illusions got its start with a hugely successful Kickstarter, netting just north of one million dollars. This success drew the attention of investors and eventually led to a funding round of $15 million. With this success, Technical Illusions decided to refund the backers of its Kickstarter."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Polygon

Let's get dangerous! Windows betas leak to the interwebs

Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2017 - 03:03 PM |
Tagged: microsoft. leak, beta

Someone has uploaded an immense amount of previously secret Windows code from Microsoft to Beta Archive, who are currently trying to take the private content down as quickly as they can.  The leaks include a number of unreleased builds of Server 2016, Windows 10 "Redstone" builds and even versions to run on 64bit ARM which would be interesting to look at if that was all that was uploaded.  Unfortunately along with those builds were Microsoft's PnP code, USB and Wi-Fi stacks, storage drivers, and ARM-specific OneCore kernel code, all of which is a goldmine for those who choose to make life miserable for computer users everywhere.  Take a peek at an overview of what was leaked at The Register.

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"The data – some 32TB of official and non-public installation images and software blueprints that compress down to 8TB – were uploaded to betaarchive.com, the latest load of files provided just earlier this week. It is believed the confidential data in this dump was exfiltrated from Microsoft's in-house systems around March this year."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

The GeForce GTX USB drive is real and small and fun

Subject: General Tech | June 23, 2017 - 05:13 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, gtx, geforce gtx usb drive, geforce

What started as merely an April Fool's prank by NVIDIA has now turned into one of the cutest little promotions I've ever seen. Originally "launched" as part of the GeForce G-ASSIST technology that purported to offer AI-enabled gaming if you were away from your keyboard, NVIDIA actually built the tiny, adorable, GeForce GTX USB Key.

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This drive was made to look like the GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition graphics card and was only produced in a quantity of 1080. I happen to find a 64GB option in a Fedex box this morning when I cam into the office.

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Performance on this USB 3.0 based drive is pretty solid, peaking at 111 MB/s on reads and 43 MB/s on writes. 

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If you want of these for yourself, you need to be signed up through GeForce Experience and opting in to the GeForce newsletter. Do that, and you're entered. 

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We have some more pictures of the USB drive below (including the surprising interior shot!), so click this link to see them.

Podcast #455 - Intel Skylake-X, AMD EPYC 7000 series, IBM 5nm, 802.11ad, and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 22, 2017 - 12:57 PM |
Tagged: video, Surface Pro, skylake-x, podcast, Intel, IBM, EPYC, amd, 802.11ad, 5nm

PC Perspective Podcast #455 - 06/22/17

Join us for talk about Intel Skylake-X, AMD EPYC 7000 series, IBM 5nm, 802.11ad, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison

Program length: 1:36:49
 
Podcast topics of discussion:
 
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  4. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Source:

Trust in Windows Defender Antivirus

Subject: General Tech | June 22, 2017 - 12:34 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows defender, antivirus, Kaspersky

You have likely heard of the spat between Kaspersky Labs and Microsoft, in which Kaspersky have filed a complaint with the European Commission stating that Microsoft is purposely disabling their antivirus program.  Microsoft replied with their view of this dispute, stating that they do indeed disable antivirus programs when there is a risk that a Windows update would stop the third party antivirus from running anyways.  The Inquirer and others were told that as a service to the user they ensure that Windows Defender is activated and on the job to protect them.

Many of us have had issues in which an update causes an antivirus program to lobotomize a valued program or operating system because of false positives, often leading to an eternal reboot loop until you can find the offending update or program.  This leads to a question of expectations; is it reasonable that Microsoft test the compatibility of their OS with antivirus vendors, either internally or by releasing an early version those vendors can test?  We are likely to see a court case to determine that in the near future, the EC previously ruled against Microsoft in 2004 regarding Windows Media Player as well as in 2009 regarding Internet Explorer (pdf) so we may indeed see another ruling which forces Microsoft to allow users to disable Windows Defender.

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"The post goes on to admit that, yes, it does deactivate third party AV, if there is a risk of an update to Windows that stops the AV working anyway."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Hide yer wallets! Steam's Summer Sale kicks off tomorrow

Subject: General Tech | June 21, 2017 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: steam sale, gaming

Is that list of Steam games you own but haven't played getting a little shorter?  Well, there is a solution to that as the on of the most dangerous causes of impulse buying starts tomorrow.  Paypal let the cat out of the bag and Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN spotted it, along with the launch time for the UK, 6pm BST on 22 June.  The reason PayPal revealed the start of the sale is because they are offering a bit of a deal in the UK and possibly the rest of the world, if you buy more than £20 of games and pay for it with PayPal you get an extra £5 off.

Perhaps this is a good time to head out of town and spend the weekend somewhere without internet connectivity?

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"I assume you young people will be dragging your camping stools to the Steam storefront from 21 June, nursing a thermos of something nutritious and exchanging stories about the time you queued for something else with your fellow queuers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

An EPYC slide deck

Subject: General Tech | June 21, 2017 - 12:21 PM |
Tagged: EPYC, amd, instinct

[H]ard|OCP were at AMD's launch of the new EPYC family of server CPUs and captured the presentation and slide deck in a series of photos you can take a look at right here.  They cover the work being done with HP and Dell, as well as with internet service providers such as Microsoft's Azure platform and China's Baidu.  They even give you a look at some of the products which will be launched running on Supermicro platforms.  AMD is looking very attractive to server builders at the moment, a feeling you may already have garnered from reading Ryan's take on EPYC.

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"AMD held it official EPYC enterprise CPU launch today in Austin, TX. If you are not aware of EPYC, it is quite simply AMD's effort to get back into the datacenters that are now firmly held by Intel Xeon processors. What do you get when you take 4 Ryzen 7 CPUs and put those down on a single package with Infinity Fabric? You would be correct, its EPYC."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Behold the Palette

Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2017 - 04:05 PM |
Tagged: input, Palette, blame canada, MIDI

As you can see, the Palette is not your normal keyboard nor mouse. Instead is is a collection of buttons, dials and sliders which communicate via the MIDI standard and is intended to help you with programs like Adobe Premier Pro, Photoshop, or Capture One.  The Palette can be rearranged however you like, magnets hold it together to ensure that signal can travel between the blocks in whatever arrangement you prefer.  The core module, with the LCD screen, houses the USB connector to plug it into your system as well as the Atmel AT90USB1286 8-bit brains of the device.  You can connect up to 18 modules due to the power delivery limitations of USB, or 32 if you can provide additional power.  TechPowerUp found numerous uses for the device, drop to check it our and perhaps to be inspired.

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"Palette is a startup that aims to elevate the current standard of human-computer interaction. Their modular controllers based off the MIDI standard use a combination of buttons, dials, and sliders to lower workflow time for content creators. The PaletteApp driver helps with built-in support for over 15 popular programs from Adobe and others, and profile support enables quick changes in functionality for individual modules."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: TechPowerUp

That new battery is sick!

Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2017 - 01:38 PM |
Tagged: battery

Researchers from the University of Maryland have come up with an interesting new use for the tobacco mosaic virus; significantly increasing the surface area of electrodes.  The increase is quite impressive, a 3.6-fold improvement in areal capacitance over a planar equivalent due to the increased surface area created by the nickel oxide coated TMV.  Not only does this research offer improvements in supercapacitors it opens up a new area of research which could enhance a wide variety of electrically charged devices.  Drop by Nanotechweb for a look at the science behind this.

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"Scientists in the US have devised a microfabrication method that uses capillary channels in a photoresist to position nanorods of the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). The team used the quick and simple new approach to create a supercapacitor with nanostructured electrodes, and the method can be applied to construct many other microdevices requiring high surface areas."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Nanotechweb

Windows Server Follows Trend of Two Updates per Year

Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2017 - 08:59 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows, windows server

Microsoft seems to want to release feature updates for their software twice per year, once in the fall, and once in the spring. First, Office 365 announced that it would adopt a semi-annual schedule, targeting September and March, give or take a bit. The Windows team then announced that they would follow in Office’s footsteps.

Now, the Windows Server team has followed suit.

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It’s interesting, because Windows Server typically pushes out two major versions every four or five years: one with a number, and another with that same number alongside an R2 suffix. Each of these lines up with a consumer refresh of the NT kernel, although both Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003 R2 used the same kernel... because Windows XP lasted a while.

Sure, a lot of a name would normally be marketing, but it also gated the major features that Microsoft was able to add (because they wanted a single Windows release to interact with software fairly uniformly across its lifecycle for enterprise reasons). Now, with the whole company pushing the “as a service” model, even Windows Server will be on the feature release treadmill.

Source: Microsoft

New Entertainment System from Atari?!?

Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2017 - 12:59 PM |
Tagged: atari, nes, Jaguar

It has been over 20 years since Atari launched their Jaguar system, the last piece of hardware that company would make; until now perhaps.  There was a mysterious announcement and the launch of a website with little more information than a movie featuring rendered wood grain and plastic.  You can sign up at ataribox.com to become the first to know, if Nintendo decides to share more information.  It will be very interesting to see what components they have picked to run this new console, considering the high specifications of the new Xbawkx they will either need high end silicon or a much lower price to compete.  The video is down below and you can pop over to The Inquirer for more speculation if you so desire.

"The iconic company, which has had more lives than Garfield in a blender, is to release the Ataribox, which so far is shrouded in mystery, aside from the classic wood panelling that lovers of the 2300 and 2600 will know only too well."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

IO Interactive (Hitman) Becomes Independent

Subject: General Tech | June 18, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, hitman

During the most recent SquareEnix financial earnings release (PDF) they announced that they would withdraw from IO Interactive, who makes the Hitman series of video games. Their most recent release, Hitman 2016, is one of our major benchmarks because it was one of the first titles to rework its engines for DirectX 12 (and it’s also a very pretty game). The previous game, Hitman: Absolution, was also featured on one of our live streams because it was an AMD Gaming Evolved / Never Settle title.

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IO Interactive has followed-up with their own announcement. As of last Friday, they are now an independent studio, and they were able to negotiate both their management and the Hitman IP. “We are now open to opportunities with future collaborators and partners to help strengthen us as a studio and ensure that we can produce the best games possible for our community.” In other words, they don’t seem to have any publisher lined up, but the Hitman franchise should be enticing for many AAA-level companies.

Just a couple weeks earlier, IO Interactive also announced that new purchases of Hitman would automatically buy all episodes from the first season. Steam will, however, detect existing episodes and only bill you for the ones you’ve missed. They say that “these changes will help us lay the foundations for our future plans for HITMAN” but it’s unclear what they mean at this point.

Donate to the PC Perspective Mining Pool! A NiceHash How-to

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 17, 2017 - 09:23 PM |
Tagged: nicehash, mining, cryptocurrency

Over the last several weeks, we have been experimenting with the most recent GPU-shortage-inducing coin mining craze, with Ken's article as a jumping off point. On a recent podcast, I mentioned the idea of running a community coin mining group that would be used as a way for individuals to contribute to PC Perspective. I received several requests for the wallet and setup information to make this happen, so I thought it would be worth while to gather all the necessary links and info in a single location.

We have been running a Patreon campaign for a couple of years now on the site as a way to provide an avenue for those readers and viewers that find PC Perspective a useful resource to the community and directly contribute. It might be because you want to keep the PCPer staff stable, it could be because you use an ad blocker and are looking for a way to even things out, etc. But there are always some that don't have the ability or desire to sign up for a new service so contributing your empty GPU cycles is another option if you want to donate to the PCPer team.

How do you do it? Ken has created a step by step guide below - thanks for your support in this and all of our previous endeavors!

-Ryan


Donate to:

  • Bitcoin: 1HHhVWPRpCUst9bDYtLstMdD7o5SzANk1W
  • Ethereum: 0xa0294763261aa85eB5f1dA3Ca0f03E1B672EED87

For those of you who may be curious to try out this mining stuff on your personal computer, we would recommend looking into the NiceHash application.

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For those of you who haven't read our previous article, NiceHash is a service that connects buyers of GPU mining power to sellers who have spare hardware that they are looking to put to use. 

As a warning, if you are planning to mine please be aware of your power consumption. To get a good idea of this, you can look up the TDP of your given graphics card, multiply that wattage by the hours you plan to mine, divide by 1000 to translate from watts to kilowatts, and multiply that by the rate you pay for electricity (this can be found on your power bill in cents per Kilowatt/Hour in the US). (So it's watts*hours*days/1000*kw/hr rate - Thanks CracklingIce)

Given the current rates of value for these cryptocurrencies, power is a small portion of the gross profit made by mining, but it is important to be aware of this before you are presented with a huge power bill that you weren't expecting.

First, download the latest version of the NiceHash miner application from their website.

After your download has finished, extract the ZIP file and load the NiceHashMiner.exe program.

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Once the application has been launched and you've accepted the terms of the EULA, the NiceHash Miner will start to download the appropriate mining applications for your given hardware.

Note: during this installation process, your antivirus program might detect malware. These miner executables that are being downloaded are safe, but many antivirius programs flag them as malware because if they are found on your PC without your permission they are a telltale sign of malicious software.

After the installation process is completed, you be brought to the main screen of the application.

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From here, choose the server location closest to you, add the Bitcoin address (in this case: 1HHhVWPRpCUst9bDYtLstMdD7o5SzANk1W), and choose a unique worker name (up to 7 characters long).

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From here, hit the benchmark button, select the devices you want to mine on (we would recommend GPUs only, CPUs don't earn very much), and hit the Start button.

Once the benchmarking is done, you'll be brought back to the main screen of the application where you can hit the Start button.

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Once you hit the start button, a command prompt window will launch where you can see the miner at work (this can be hidden from the NiceHash setting pane), and you can view the stats of your computer in the original NiceHash application window.

And that's it, your computer will now be mining towards the PCPER community pool!