NVIDIA Discontinues Mental Ray One Year After Relaunch

Subject: General Tech | November 19, 2017 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, mental ray, iray

Back in SIGGRAPH 2016, NVIDIA announced that they would take control of Mental Ray’s licensing and development. The new product was in beta at the time, boasting a new global illumination solver that was 4x faster on CPUs than the previous method, and 25.9x faster when you add a pair of Quadro M6000s into the mix. Access to the beta was free until it launched, which happened in Autumn 2016.

We’re now in Autumn 2017, and NVIDIA is discontinuing the product.

nvidia-2016-mentalray-benchmark.png

NVIDIA is not leaving the rendering market, though. The graphics vendor has several products in that space, including the very-similar Iray. In fact, it was kind-of odd to see NVIDIA maintain both products with some weird cross-overs, like how they’re bundled on 3D Studio Max for the same price as either product purchased individually in Maya. They also maintain the OptiX and IndeX APIs, which is used all over the place, even for non-graphics workloads. (VRWorks Audio, for instance, uses OptiX to ray-trace video game audio for environmental effects, which is a fairly good model of high-frequency sounds.)

Current users of the Mental Ray plug-in, or those who purchase a license before the 20th of November, will receive “maintenance releases” through 2018 (presumably while they plan their transition elsewhere). These updates will be “bug fix” updates, although NVIDIA does state that one of them will introduce compatibility for Volta-based GPUs.

If you already own a license to Mental Ray, and you will need it for longer than the time left on your subscription, then you will need to contact NVIDIA for an extension. They’re not going to just throw you out if your license expires in December, but you have obligations through February (or something).

Source: NVIDIA

Why wouldn't Lenovo call it the Yoda 920?

Subject: General Tech | November 17, 2017 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: Star Wars, Special Edition Yoga 920, Lenovo, Kaby Lake R

The specifications of the Star Wars Special Edition Yoga 920 are good but that is obviously not why most will purchase it, or the new Titan Xp for that matter.  Inside is a Kaby Lake R Core i7-8550U, 16GB of DDR4-2400 and 512 GB PCIe M.2 SSD, but it is of course what is etched on the Gorilla Glass exterior that counts.  According to TechARP it will be released soon in Malaysia this December, hopefully soon to arrive in North America as well.  There is a premium to be able to use the Force however, the current price is a bit over $2000.

Star-Wars-Special-Edition-Yoga-920.jpg

"The Star Wars Special Edition Yoga 920 will be available in two designs - one for the Galactic Empire, and one for the Rebel Alliance!"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: TechARP

Sourcing and shipping the Superconference badge

Subject: General Tech | November 16, 2017 - 03:54 PM |
Tagged: tindie, superconference badge, hacking

You may remember Al's reaction to one of the other products being shown on Tindie when we were looking at Ken's pick on Podcast 475.  The Hack a Day Superconference badge is an impressive peice of hardware and people did some pretty impressive things with it, once they got their hands on it.  However, that is not the entire story as Hack a Day have shared the trials and tribulations of sourcing the components, building the badges and shipping them off to participants before the Superconference began.  If you are curious about how this process would work, or are considering creating some hardware which you eventually intend to sell or distribute, you should read through the process and see what they learned and if you can apply it to your own projects.

hackadaysuperconferencebadge-front.jpg

"Already we’ve gone over the gory details of what this badge does, and now it’s time to talk about the perils of building large numbers of an electronic conference badge. This is the hardware demoscene, artisanal manufacturing, badgelife, and an exploration of exactly how far you can push a development schedule to get these badges out the door and into the hands of eager badge hackers and con attendees."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Hack a Day

Intel Z390 Chipset Spotted on Upcoming SuperMicro Motherboard

Subject: General Tech, Chipsets | November 16, 2017 - 02:03 PM |
Tagged: Intel, Z390, coffee lake, thunderbolt 3

Last month a leaked roadmap appeared online teasing several upcoming Intel chipsets slated for release early next year. The new chipsets were optimized for Coffee Lake processors and include H370, B360, and H310 in the first quarter and Q370 and Q360 (for enterprise customers) in Q2 2018. The most interesting chipset however is Z390 which was mentioned in the roadmap but with hardly any details at all about it. Thanks to a SiSoft database listing and a couple recent leaks there is now slightly bit more information on the upcoming chipset.

Sisoft-Supermicro_Intel Z390.png

Specifically, the Intel Z390 chipset was spotted in a SuperMicro C7Z390-PGW motherboard along with an undetected 92W Coffee Lake 6 core / 12 thread processor (perhaps SiSoft is simply incorrectly reading a 8700K or it’s an unreleased slightly more power efficient SKU). More interesting though is the continuing tease of possible 8 core (16 thread) consumer Core processors being released for these new Z390 chipset-based motherboards. The rumor mill is going all in on salt futures on this one it seems. What we still don’t know is what architecture these rumored 8 core chips will use, whether Coffee Lake or Cannon Lake (I’m leaning towards CNL but an 8 core Coffee Lake chip, while large, is not out of the question.)

The Z390 chipset will reportedly add a SoundWire digital audio interface with quad core DSP, integrated Intel Wireless AC (Wi-fi + BT CNVi), integrated SDXC 3.0, and Thunderbolt 3.0 with DisplayPort 1.4 support (using the Titan Ridge controller). The chipset further supports C10 and S0ix

In the last bit of Intel chipset rumors for today, rumors are also spreading suggesting that Intel may be moving up the launch of the Z390 chipset to the first quarter of next year to better compete with AMD and its Pinnacle Ridge (Ryzen 2000 / Zen+) processors and Promontory X400 series chipsets (e.g. X470 and B450) which are allegedly coming in January. Basically, it’s going to be a crazy CES for motherboard and processor soft launches and product teases / announcements!

What are your thoughts on Z390 being spotted in the wild this early?

Source: Videocardz

Podcast #476 - Scythe Coolers, Huawei MateBook E, EA for better or worse, and more!

Subject: General Tech | November 16, 2017 - 01:41 PM |
Tagged: video, youtube, wolfenstein, vesa, scythe, phanteks, nvidia shield, nvidia, NVDIMM, micron, matebook, Huawei, fsp, ea, podcast

PC Perspective Podcast #476 - 11/16/17

Join us for discussion on Intel with AMD graphics, Raja's move to Intel, 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, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison

Program length: 1:44:19

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
    1. 0:06:15 Podcast 475 Recap
  2. 0:37:30 AD BREAK HelloFresh
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  5. Closing/outro

Source:

The Wolfensteins of Vulkan in the spotlight

Subject: General Tech | November 15, 2017 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Wolfenstein 2, vulkan, amd, nvidia

[H]ard|OCP took a close look at the new Wolfenstein game, covering the new graphics options which appear in the menus as well as the bugs that could be caused by then, not to mention the benchmarking.  For this Vulkan game they chose three AMD cards and four NVIDIA cards to test with a variety of thsoe options enabled as well as looking at the effect resolution has on your performance.  As we have seen in other recent games, AMD's Vega 64 is a strong contender at 4K resolutions, surpassing the GTX 1080 but not quite matching its 1080 Ti brother.  It is also worth noting this game loves VRAM, in fact 8GB is not enough for Uber settings.  Read through the full review for performance numbers as well as insight into the best graphics settings to chose.

1510594718h4wgx13fur_1_4_l.png

"Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is out; this new game uses the id Tech 6 game engine and Vulkan API to give you a great gaming experience on the PC with today’s latest GPUs. We will compare performance features, see what settings work best, find what is playable in the game and compare performance among several video cards."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

The phones are taking all the DRAM memory

Subject: General Tech | November 15, 2017 - 11:59 AM |
Tagged:

Once again we have bad news about RAM prices for consumers and great news for manufacturers.  The price rose an average of 5% this past quarter, continuing the upwards trend we have been seeing for quite some time now.  The supply shortage is due to several factors but the dominant one would be the smartphone industry which has vastly increased overall demand for DRAM.  Currently demand far outstrips supply, though as new fabs come online and current ones complete their upgrades to new process technology we should hopefully see a levelling in prices.  As The Inquirer points out, this is not bad news for Samsung, SK Hynix or Micron who are all seeing very nice profits. 

Next time you are thinking about purchasing that shiny new phone, think about your computer for a moment before pressing add to cart.

rising-prices.jpg

"Prices, according to DRAMeXchange, increased by around five per cent in the third quarter, and buyers can expect to pay even more in the foreseeable future."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

A win for the rebels against EA's Empire

Subject: General Tech | November 14, 2017 - 05:09 PM |
Tagged: gaming, ea, Star Wars Battlefront 2

Loot boxes may look good on paper as a way to generate extra revenue from a game but in reality they are incredibly unpopular with those who buy games.  Originally EA had set the price of unlocking your first playable hero at 60,000 in game credits.  According to the math done in the article Slashdot linked to, that would entail around 40 hours of gameplay assuming you never used any for the various other unlocks EA charges credits for.  As EA limits the amount of credits you can earn at one time in arcade mode, most of those hours would need to be spent in multiplayer games as opposed to enjoying the game in peace and quiet.  Of course, you could always pay money for them, $450 or so would unlock a hero.

In this case EA actually listened to their prospective customers, dropping the credit requirements for heroes by 75%; the loot boxes remain of course.

xosshiwetigvxb9txevi.png

"Most importantly, Electronic Arts today announced that they are reducing the number of credits needed to unlock top characters in the game by 75 percent. Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader will now cost 15,000 credits. Emperor Palatine, Chewbacca and Leia Organa will now cost 10,000 and Iden will cost 5,000."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

Speed Metal on the Desktop

Subject: General Tech | November 13, 2017 - 03:33 PM |
Tagged: 3d printing, metal, Desktop Metal

Desktop Metal's new printer follows the same design process as current 3D metal printing, layers of metal powder, wax and a plastic binding agent are sprayed out by an inkjet-like device.  Upon completion of the print, the item is submerged in a debinding fluid which disolves the wax and then spends some time in a furnace to burn off the binding agent and set the powder leaving the final product between 96 and 99.8% metal.  This process is currently handled much more quickly via traditional tool and die, however Desktop Metal told The Register their new printer operates at 100 times the speed of the competition and at a very competitive price to either tool and die or 3D printing.  It will be interesting to see if this applies to a wide enough variety of prints and provides high enough quality to unseat the incumbent processes.

DM_logo.jpg

"Desktop Metal, based in Boston, USA, has opened up pre-orders for its Studio System which uses inkjet-like technology, rather than laser-based techniques, to produce precision metal parts."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Podcast #475 - Intel with AMD graphics, Raja's move to Intel, and more!

Subject: General Tech | November 9, 2017 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: video, titan xp, teleport, starcraft 2, raja koduri, radeon, qualcomm, podcast, nvidia, Intel, centriq, amplifi, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #475 - 11/09/17

Join us for discussion on Intel with AMD graphics, Raja's move to Intel, 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: Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano, Ken Addison

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Jim Tanous

Program length: 1:29:42

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:35:30 CASPER
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 1:13:40 Allyn: Relatively cheap Samsung 82” (!!!) 4K TV
    2. 1:23:45 Josh: 1800X for $399!!!!!
    3. 1:24:50 Ken: The Void Wallet
  5. Closing/outro

Source:

Rumor: Hades Canyon NUC with AMD Graphics Spotted

Subject: General Tech, Processors | November 9, 2017 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: Skull Canyon, nuc, kaby lake-g, Intel, Hades Canyon VR, Hades Canyon, EMIL, amd

Hot on the heels of Intel's announcement of new mobile-focused CPUs integrating AMD Radeon graphics, we have our first glimpse at a real-world design using this new chip.

HadesCanyon.jpg

Posted on the infamous Chinese tech forum, Chiphell earlier today, this photo appears to be a small form factor PC design integrating the new Kaby Lake-G CPU and GPU solution.

Looking at the standard size components on the board like the Samsung M.2 SSD and the DDR4 SODIMM memory modules, we can start to get a better idea of the actual size of the Kaby Lake-G module.

Additionally, we get our first look at the type of power delivery infrastructure that devices with Kaby Lake-G are going to require. It's impressive how small the motherboard is taking into account all of the power phases needed to feed the CPU, GPU, and HBM 2 memory. 

NUC_roadmap.png

Looking back at the leaked NUC roadmap from September, the picture starts to become more clear. While the "Hades Canyon" NUCs on this roadmap threw us for a loop when we first saw it months ago, it's now clear that they are referencing the new Kaby Lake-G line of products. The plethora of IO options from the roadmap, including dual Gigabit Ethernet and 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports also seem to match closely with the leaked NUC photo above.

Using this information we also now have a better idea of the thermal and power requirements for Kaby Lake-G. The base "Hades Canyon" NUC is listed with a 65W processor, while the "Hades Canyon VR" is listed with as a 100W part. This means that devices retain the same levels of CPU performance from the existing Kaby Lake-H Quad Core mobile CPUs which clock in at 35W, plus roughly 30 or 65W of graphics performance.

core-radeon-leak.png

These leaked 3DMark scores might give us an idea of the performance of the Hades Canyon VR NUC.

One thing is clear; Hades Canyon will be the highest power NUC Intel has ever produced, surpassing the 45W Skull Canyon. Considering the already unusual for a NUC footprint of Skull Canyon, I'm interested to see the final form of Hades Canyon as well as the performance it brings! 

With what looks to be a first half  2018 release date on the roadmap, it seems likely that we could see this NUC or other similar devices being shown off at CES in January. Stay tuned for more continuing coverage of Intel's Kaby Lake-G and upcoming devices featuring it!

Source: Chiphell

A walrus on virtual rollerskates

Subject: General Tech | November 9, 2017 - 02:02 PM |
Tagged: hyneman, roller skates, VR, Vortrex Shoes

Jamie Hyneman is pitching a project to build prototype VR roller skates; not as a game but as a way to save your shins while using a VR headset.  The design places motorized wheels under your heel and a track under the ball of your foot which will move your foot back to its starting position if you walk forward.  If all goes as planned this should allow you to walk around in virtual worlds without running into walls, chairs or spectators and perhaps allow games to abandon the point and teleport currently in vogue.  There are a lot of challenges as previous projects have discovered but perhaps a Mythbuster can help out.  You can watch his pitch video over at The Register.

votrex_shoes.jpg

"Hyneman's pitch video points out that when one straps on goggles and gloves to enter virtual reality, your eyes are occupied and you therefore run the risk of bumping into stuff if you try to walk in meatspa ce while simulating walking in a virtual world. And bumping into stuff is dangerous."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

What is the best GPU to beat Nazis with?

Subject: General Tech | November 8, 2017 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Wolfenstein 2, the new colossus, nvidia, amd, vulkan

Wolfenstein II The New Colossus uses the Vulkan API which could favour AMD's offerings however NVIDIA have vastly improved their support so a win is not guaranteed.  The Guru of 3D tested the three resolutions which most people are interested in, 1080p, 1440p and 4K on 20 different GPUs in total.  They also took a look at the impact of 4-core versus 8-core CPUs, testing the i7-4790K, i7-5960K as well as the Ryzen 7 1800X and even explored the amount of VRAM the game uses.  Drop by to see all their results as well as hints on dealing with the current bugs.

newcolossus_x64vk_2017_11_04_09_39_58_587.jpg

"We'll have a peek at the PC release of Wolfenstein II The New Colossus for Windows relative towards graphics card performance. The game is 100% driven by the Vulkan API. in this test twenty graphics cards are being tested and benchmarked."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: Guru of 3D

A disHarmonious sound has arisen from Logitech's customers

Subject: General Tech | November 8, 2017 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: logitech, iot, harmony link

If you own a Logitech Harmony Link and registered it then you already know, but for those who did not receive the email you should know your device will become unusable in March.  According to the information Ars Technica acquired, Logitech have decided not to renew a so called "technology certificate license" which will mean the Link will no longer work.  It is not clear what this certificate is nor why the lack of it will brick the Link but that is what will happen.  Apparently if you have a Harmony Link which is still under warranty you can get a free upgrade to a Harmony Hub; if your Link is out of warranty then you can get a 35% discount.  Why exactly one would want to purchase another one of these devices which can be remotely destroyed is an interesting question, especially as there was no monthly contract or service agreement suggesting this was a possibility when customers originally purchased their device.

brick.png

"Customers received an e-mail explaining that Logitech will "discontinue service and support" for the Harmony Link as of March 16, 2018, adding that Harmony Link devices "will no longer function after this date."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Ars Technica

Sir, place the turtle on the ground and back away slowly

Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2017 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: machine learning, ai

Not to be out done by the research conducted by Japan's Kyushu University which led to the frog is not truck portion of lasts weeks podcast, MIT researchers have also been tormenting image recognition software.  Their findings were a little more worrisome, as a 3D printed turtle was identified as a rifle which could lead to some very bad situations in airports or other secure locations.  In this case, instead of adding a few pixels to the image, they introduced different angles and lighting conditions which created enough noise to completely fool Google's image recognition AI, Inception.  The printed turtle was misidentified because of a the texture which they chose, showing that this issue extends beyond photos to include physical objects.  Pop by The Register for more details as well as an ingredient you never want to see on your toast.

Capture.PNG

"Students at MIT in the US claim they have developed an algorithm for creating 3D objects and pictures that trick image-recognition systems into severely misidentifying them. Think toy turtles labeled rifles, and baseballs as cups of coffee."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

1MORE driver will cost you, the Quad drivers are twice the price of the Triple

Subject: General Tech | November 6, 2017 - 04:54 PM |
Tagged: audio, 1MORE, Quad Drivers, in-ear

These new in-ear headphones from 1MORE have a single carbon driver for mids and lows with three balanced armatures to handle the high and ultra-high frequencies.  This is not a surround sound implementation but instead an attempt to provide very high quality sound from in-ear monitors.  TechPowerUp tested these Dolby Certified headphones and found them to be an improvement on the already impressive Triple Driver model, even powered by a smartphone; they do not require a DAC or pre-amp to provide great sound.  On the other hand, $200 is steep for this style of headphone so read through the review before jumping on Amazon.

1MORE-Quad-Driver-Diagram.jpg

"On the wings of the raging success they had with their $100 Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones, currently considered one of the best IEMs in terms of price-performance, 1MORE brings us their even more refined sibling equipped with an additional balanced armature. Do the 1MORE Quad Drivers have what it takes to justify a price bump to $200?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: TechPowerUp

Qualcomm expected to keep their extra m and say no to Broadcom

Subject: General Tech | November 6, 2017 - 01:03 PM |
Tagged: broadcom, qualcomm, billions

While the gang does some sleuthing about the current signs of the end of the world; not simply cats and dogs living together but rumours of AMD and Intel working together, lets look at a different surprise.  It seems that Broadcom have set its sights on Qualcomm, offering $130 billion to buy out the company and its assets.  In part this might be inspired by Qualcomm's pending release of the Centriq family of processors seeing as how Broadcom cancelled their ARM based server chip development earlier this year.  It sems as though Qualcomm is not looking too hard at this as a way to pay their ever expanding legal bills in their cases against Apple as according to the story that Slashdot has linked to, Qualcomm considers this an offer it can refuse.

Keep an eye out for an update as Josh and Ryan check on the mixing of Intel's Embedded Multi-die Interconnect Bridges and AMD's Polaris.

index.jpg

"Chipmaker Broadcom officially unveiled a $130bn offer, including net debt, for Qualcomm on Monday, in what could be the largest tech deal in history. Under Broadcom's proposal, Qualcomm shareholders would receive $70 per share -- $60 in cash and $10 in shares of its rival. It would value Qualcomm's equity at roughly $103bn."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

zSpace and Unity Announces XR Resources for Education

Subject: General Tech | November 5, 2017 - 08:14 PM |
Tagged: Unity, zspace, xr, AR, VR

The Unity Educator Toolkit was created by Unity3D to integrate learning game development into the K-12 public curriculum. Now zSpace, which we’ve mentioned a few times, is joining in to the initiative with their mixed-reality platform. The company is known for creating displays that, when viewed with their glasses, track where you are and make the object appear to be in front of you. They also have a stylus that lets you interact with the virtual object.

zspace-2017-elephant.jpg

They are focused on the educational side of VR and AR.

It’s not entirely clear what this means, because a lot of the details are behind a sign-up process. That said, if you’re an educator, then check out the package to see if it’s relevant for you. Creating games is an interesting, albeit challenging and somewhat daunting, method of expressing oneself. Giving kids the tools to make little game jam-style expressions, or even using the technology in your actual lessons, will reach a new group of students.

Source: zSpace

StarCraft II Going Free-to-play on November 14th

Subject: General Tech | November 5, 2017 - 07:13 PM |
Tagged: blizzard, starcraft 2, pc gaming

Over the last few years, Blizzard has been progressively opening up StarCraft II for non-paying customers. These initiatives ranged from allowing whole parties to share the highest expansion level of any one member, unlocking Terran for unranked games, opening up mods to the Starter edition, and so forth.

Starting on November 14th, after a handful of months of the original StarCraft going free-to-play, Blizzard will allow free access to multiplayer (including the ranked ladder), a handful of co-op commanders, and the Wings of Liberty campaign. If you already own Wings of Liberty, then you will get Heart of the Swarm for free (if you claim it between November 8th and December 8th).

If you already own both, then… well, life as usual for you.

In terms of making money, Blizzard is hoping to sell the remaining two-or-three campaigns, Heart of the Swarm, Legacy of the Void, and Nova Covert Ops, as well as the other up-sells, like announcers, co-op commanders, and so forth. If you’re in it for the vanilla (or Arcade) multiplayer, though, then you can jump in on November 14th without paying a dime.

Source: Blizzard

Blender Conference Recap

Subject: General Tech | November 5, 2017 - 05:01 PM |
Tagged: Blender

About a week ago, the Blender Foundation held their annual Blender Conference. The event was sponsored by AMD, same as last year, who is putting quite a bit of time and money in the free, open-source 3D suite. They are especially focused on OpenCL and Cycles development, which benefits their Radeon GPUs and high-end, workstation CPUs.

In fact, AMD, along with Tangent Animation, Nimble Collective, and Aleph Objects, have paid for engineers to work on the project.

A lot of the talk was about Blender 2.8, as it is both upcoming and a significant change. Ton Roosendaal talked a lot about the new scene graph, how objects can be groups as collections, and how an infinite number of layers are possible. It’s a significant, back-end change that’s been discussed in the past.

There’s still no firm release schedule for Blender 2.8, but it’s coming along. You can download one of the pre-release builds on their website, but don’t expect it to be stable. I found my first crash bug in about 5 minutes.