Tested Tries LG SteamVR Headset Prototype at GDC 2017

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: VR, steamvr, LG

While SteamVR is practically synonymous with the HTC Vive, Valve intends it to be an open platform with multiple OEMs. At this year’s Game Developers Conference, GDC 2017, LG was showing off one of their prototypes, which the folks at Adam Savage’s Tested got some time with. The company repetitively said that this is just a prototype that can change in multiple ways.

There are some differences between this and the HTC Vive, though. One change that LG is proud of is the second app button. Apparently, the company found that developers liked to assign buttons in pairs, such as a “forward” button to go along with a “back”. As such, they added a second app button, and placed all three above the touchpad for less accidental presses. The weight distribution is, apparently, also adjusted slightly, too. The difference that Tested seems most interested in is the pull forward and flip up hinge holding the mask, allowing the headset to be moved out of the way without fully taking it off the head, and for it to be easily moved back into place around glasses. (Thankfully, I’m far-sighted, so I can just take off my glasses when I use my Daydream headset, which I assume holds true for other VR devices.)

It’s unclear when it will come to market. Tested speculated that it could happen sometime later this year, which would put it just before when we expect the HTC Vive 2, but... speculation.

Glad it is not Podcast night! Microsoft is not having a good day

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2017 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, outlook, office 365, skype, hotmail

Many users of Hotmail, Outlook and Skype are finding themselves unable to log in to their accounts and some are complaining about access to their XBox accounts.  The problem is being described as an authentication issue, something that users of Exchange Online are all too familiar with.  Microsoft is currently working on a solution and the incident count on Down Detector seems do have dropped in the past few hours but there are still some problems.  The professional side also seems to be suffering as well, with several performance issues effecting a variety of services.  If you are one of those currently suffering, you can follow the link from The Register to report it on Down Detector, if you wish.

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"Naturally, users of Microsoft's cloud services have taken to Twitter and Reddit to moan about the downtime, with some complaining that Xbox online services have also been hit by the downtime."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft HoloLens Takes Michael Abrash Too Literally?

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2017 - 07:37 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, hololens

When Michael Abrash moved from Intel to Valve, according to his post on the latter company’s blog, he suggested that he should help optimize Portal 2. The response from Jay Stelly was interesting: “Yeah, you could do that, but we’ll get it shipped anyway.” That’s... not something you’d expect from a company that is getting ready to ship a huge, AAA title.

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He took that feedback as a license to think outside the box, which led to their “wearable computing” initiative that eventually formed the basis of Steam VR. One key part of this blog post was the minor parenthetical, “think Terminator vision”.

Apparently, Microsoft’s HoloLens team has. As a cute little Unity demo, they are overlaying text and post-processing shaders atop the camera feed. It’s not just baked 2D text, though; they are also pushing the feed through object- and text-recognition, suggesting that users take the source (available on GitHub) and extend it through translation or text-to-speech.

The demo is primarily written in C#, which makes sense, because Unity.

Source: Microsoft

Creative Assembly Picks Up Crytek Black Sea

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2017 - 07:07 AM |
Tagged: sega, crytek

A few months ago, just before Christmas in fact, we reported that Crytek was in the process of shutting down five out of their seven studios. Now, Sega has just announced that they are picking up one of them: Crytek Black Sea (Sofia, Bulgaria). This studio will be added to Creative Assembly, which makes the Total War series and also dipped its toe into the first person market with Alien: Isolation. As a part of this agreement, the ex-Crytek developer will now be called Creative Assembly Sofia.

sega-logo.png

Black Sea Studios was with Crytek since July, 2008.

As far as I can tell, the other four studios that were affected by December’s decision have not been as fortunate. Apart from ex-Rockstar designer, Leslie Benzie, picking up former employees of the Budapest, Hungary studio, I haven’t seen much talk about any other studio (or significant portions of them) moving elsewhere.

Logitech Introduces G Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2017 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: romer-g, mechanical keyboard, logitech g, logitech, keyboard, key switches, gaming

Logitech G has announced the new Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, which features a compact tenkeyless (TKL) design, short-throw mechanical switches, and RGB lighting effects.

Logitech G Pro Gaming Keyboard 1.jpg

In addition to the TKL form-factor the Logitech G Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard features the company's exclusive Romer-G switches, which Logitech says "register key presses up to 25 percent faster than standard mechanical switches" and have "a short-throw actuation point 1.5 mm".

The keyboard also features keyboard durable construction with a steel back plate, and the cable is actually is a detachable micro-USB design, though not your typical micro-USB connector as this implementation features a wide three-pronged connection with support arms. Naturally, there are (optional) RGB effects for those who want them, which can be controlled via Logitech Gaming Software.

Logitech G Pro Gaming Keyboard 0.jpg

These RGB effects are per-key, which means seemingly endless levels of customizaiton considering each one can be set to one of "more than 16.8 million colors" and preferences saved to the onboard memory.

As to pricing and availability, the Logitech G Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard should be available later this month with an MSRP $129.99.

Source: Logitech

Listen to the colours! Tt eSPORTS Cronos 7.1 headset with RGB

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2017 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: Tt eSPORTS Cronos RGB 7.1, thermaltake, gaming headset, audio

Yes, it has happened; RGB-itis have spread to gaming headphones and if you are one of the infeected you can grab Thermaltake's Cronos RGB 7.1 Headset to show off your symptoms.  The LEDs on the ear cups support 256 different colours and as a bonus also provide Virtual 7.1 surround sound.  The headset is powered by 40mm neodymium magnets, with a reasonable 20Hz-22kHz frequency range.  Pop by Bjorn3D for a look, they were impressed with the audio quality of this ~$70 headset to say nothing of the glow they felt when wearing them. 

It is a pity that Tt did not take the opportunity to brand this as their new Synethsesia line.

Cronos-8-700x466.jpg

"Today we’ll be looking at a recent addition to the roster of gaming headsets produced by Tt eSPORTS, the Cronos RGB 7.1 Headset. If you’re familiar with Tt eSPORTS’ line of headsets then you may already be familiar with the previous iterations of the Cronos that comes without RGB lighting."

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Source: Bjorn3D

Why the world of WiFi is as murky as the HiFi market

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2017 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: wifi, networking

Our own Sebastian Peak has delved into the nightmare world of testing WiFi, specifically MU-MIMO and explained some of the difficulties you encounter when testing wireless networks.  It is now Ars Technica's turn to try to explain why your 2.4GHz router never delivers the advertised 1,000 Mbps as well as how to test your actual performance.  As with many products, the marketing team has little interest in what the engineers are saying, they simply want phrases they can stick on their packaging and PR materials.  While the engineers are still pointing out that even the best case scenarios involving a single user less than 10 feet away, with clear line of sight will not reach the theoretical performance peak, the PR with that high number has already been emailed and packages are printing. 

Drop by Ars Technica for a look at how the current state of WiFi has evolved into this mess, as well as a dive into how the new technologies work and what performance you can actually expect from them.

TP-Link Talon AD7200.jpg

"802.11n was introduced to the consumer public around 2010, promising six hundred Mbps. Wow! Okay, so it's not as fast as the gigabit wired Ethernet that just started getting affordable around the same time, but six times faster than wired Fast Ethernet, right? Once again, a reasonable real-life expectation was around a tenth of that. Maybe. On a good day. To a single device."

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Source: Ars Technica

Even More PC Controller Choice It Seems... Nintendo Switch

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: switch, Nintendo, gamepad

While mouse and keyboard is awesome for many games, a few benefit from the layout of a gamepad (or the way it’s used). There was a drought in these for a few years, particularly around the ~2007 time-frame, but this console generation provides us PC gamers with quite a few competent options. When they launched, both the PS4 and the Xbox One allowed their controllers to be used on the PC, and both eventually provided wireless adapters to make it function. Microsoft did it for Windows 10, and Sony did it for PlayStation Now. Even Valve got their Steam Controller out there, which is definitely an alternate alternative, like it or hate it. Personally, I’ve never tried.

While Nintendo hasn’t really ever supported the PC market, apart from, like, Mario is Missing, their Bluetooth-based controllers also never really tried to block PCs from using them. Apparently, the Nintendo Switch is no exception, and its Pro Controller seemingly just connects with the old gamepad API.

This isn’t supported, so it’s probably best to not go out and buy it for the PC, but feel free to try it if you already have a Switch and Pro Controller (and a Bluetooth adapter for your PC).

Raspberry Pi Zero W Adds Built In Wireless Radios

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2017 - 04:24 PM |
Tagged: raspberry pi zero, single board computer, sbc, broadcom

The Raspberry Pi Foundation recently introduced a $10 Pi Zero W which resembles the $5 single board Pi Zero computer it launched in 2015 but adds built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios.

ZeroW~2.jpg

At the heart of the Raspberry Pi Zero W is a 1GHz single core Broadcom BCM2835 application processor and 512MB of RAM. Storage is handled by s micro SD card slot. The tiny board includes the following I/O options:

  • 1 x Mini HDMI
  • 1 x Micro USB OTG
  • 1 x Micro USB for power
  • 1 x 40-pin HAT compatible header
  • 1 x CSI camera connector
  • 1 x Composite video header
  • 1 x reset header

The Pi Zero W uses the same Cypress CYW43438 chip as the Pi 3 Model B and offers 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, they found that many users were using USB wireless dongles along with a HID (keyboard/mouse) and they needed to carry around a hub or integrate it into their project. Adding built in wireless frees up the single Micro USB port for ither devices and hopefully allows smaller devices that use a Pi Zero as its brains.

Per RasPi.TV’s testing, the new Pi Zero W uses approximately 20mA more power than the Pi Zero which the site attributes to the wireless radios. While it more power than the previous model it is still half that of the Raspberry Pi 3 B. Specifically, the Pi Zero W pulls 120mA at idle and up to 170mA when playing back a 1080p video. Recording 1080p video from a camera uses ~230 mA. The SBC is rated at 0.6W to 1.2W (120 to 230 mA at 5.19V).

A modular official case is being released alongside the new board. US residents will be able to pick up the $10 single board computer at Adafruit, CanaKit, and Micro Center.

The Pi Zero has been used in a large variety of projects including robotics, arcade games, home automation and motion sensing cameras IoT, information displays, and electric skateboards. Integrating the wireless radio should make similar projects just a bit easier to out together.

HyperX Alloy FPS mechanical keyboard, fit for the ham handed

Subject: General Tech | March 3, 2017 - 03:12 PM |
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, input, HyperX ALLOY FPS, Cherry MX

The HyperX Alloy FPS is a R LED, no Gs or Bs, but you can cycle through a variety of modes using the Function key which replaces the Windows key on the right side of the keyboard.  The shell is aluminium, strong and light for those who tend to abuse their keyboards and the CherryMX switches are firmly attached and so should survive a few rage-quits.  Modders Inc liked the keyboard overall and the price is reasonable, $80 for Blue switches or $100 if you prefer Red or Brown.  Check out the full review for more specifics.

DSC_9948.jpg

"Over the last couple of years the gaming division of Kingston; HyperX has been working hard to bust into the peripherals market. Their products started off with mouse pads and headsets. In September 2016, the HyperX Alloy FPS was released. The HyperX Allow FPS features a compact, minimalist design to maximize desk space and portability."

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Source: Modders Inc

Fanatec Releases ClubSport Wheel Base V2.5

Subject: General Tech | March 3, 2017 - 01:48 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, wheels, wheel base, rally, racing, PC, Fanatec, ClubSport V2.5, ClubSport V2

Today Fanatec announced the immediate availability of the ClubSport Wheel Base V2.5.  Some months ago I reviewed the original ClubSport V2 and I was highly impressed by its overall quality, build, feedback, and accuracy.  It is a monstrous unit that commanded an sizeable price.  Fanatec has built evolved and improved the V2 unit and rebranded it the V2.5.
 
While the V2.5 is not redesigned from the ground up, it has some greatly improved features from the last gen.  It has a new motor that promises better response and feedback force and feel.  They next updated the USB connection so that it has an update rate of 1000 Hz for greater driving accuracy and response time.
 
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Perhaps the most impressive news about this release is the lowering of the price for the V2.5 base.  Fanatec claims that greater demand and efficiency in production has allowed them to lower the price of the new base vs. the old.  The new price is $499.95 which is quite a bit lower than the old price which I believe was in the $650 range.  Anyone that has pre-ordered the V2 units will be getting upgraded to the V2.5 parts.  I am unsure how Fanatec is handling possible refunds in these cases, but the assumption is that end users won't be ripped off.
 
This is a welcome surprise in terms of improvements and a lowering of price.  The V2 was a pretty spectacular part and it looks as though this one exceeds it in every way.  It still retains the all metal construction and features a new faceplate with the Fanatec logo etched in.  Certainly a lovely piece of gear for those that take racing seriously.

You can purchase it online from the Fanatec site!

Click to read the entire press release!

Source: Fanatec

Huzzah! Delayed reboots are returning to Win10 Home

Subject: General Tech | March 3, 2017 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

If you are using Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, you may have already disabled the automatic reboot function after updates are installed but for Home users after the Anniversary update, that has not been possible.  It turns out there are a lot of users quite upset with unplanned reboots, especially those who leave their computers running overnight or while they are away.  Microsoft have accepted this feedback and will return the ability to delay reboots to owners of the Home Edition in their next update.  In the meantime, The Register describes a way in which you can regain a little more control over automatic reboots with your current build.

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"Since the Windows 10 Anniversary Update in 2016, there is no way to prevent Windows 10 [Home] from automatically installing updates and rebooting your PC," fumed one vulture fan, John, who added that a group policy can be set on W10 Pro and Enterprise editions to prevent automated restarts."

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Source: The Register

GDC 2017: zSpace Joins OpenXR Working Group

Subject: General Tech | March 3, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: zspace, VR, Khronos

About a year before I joined PC Perspective, I acquired a degree in Education, which involved teaching at a local high school. Even though that was just five years after graduating high school, the amount of available technology has exploded in that time. SmartBoards were relevant enough to be taught at my teacher’s college just in case you got one. Contrast this to when I was a high school student, where “overhead projector” was assumed to mean “transparent paper and erasable marker”.

Why do I mention this? Well, basically everyone in the tech industry has been investigating the potential of VR and AR for the last couple of years, and education is a very obvious and practical application of it.

In this case, zSpace reached out and informed that they just joined the Khronos Group’s OpenXR Working Group. They hope to guide the specification from the educational technology perspective. From what I can see on their website, their products are basically like Wacom Cintiqs, except that the pen can function the volume of air in front of the screen, and glasses with markers adjust the output image to make it look like objects are floating between you and the display.

If you’re in the education sector, then be sure to check out what zSpace is doing, if only to be aware of the teaching tools that are available in the world. Every teacher I knew enjoyed browsing Staples, looking through the various bits of stationary for ideas, like recipe cards for cheap, impromptu student polls and challenges.

As for the rest of us? The more mainstream VR and AR is, the more innovation will occur, especially when they contribute back to open standards; win win.

Source: zSpace

Wondering about upgrading your cooler mounts for Ryzen?

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling | March 2, 2017 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: AM4, ryzen, nzxt, fractal design, scythe

We have some good news from several companies about compatibility with that AM4 board you are hoping to set up.  NXZT have announced a program in which you can request a free AM4 mounting kit for your Kraken X62, X52, X42, X61, X41 or Kraken X31.  Just follow this link to apply for one, they will ship world wide starting on the 15th of March.  You will need to provide proof of purchase of both your AM4 motherboard and Kraken cooler.

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Fractal Design have a similar offer for owners of of their Kelvin series of coolers.  You can email their Support team for a bracket for your Kelvin T12, S24 or S36, make sure to attach proof of purchase of either a Ryzen processor or AM4 board.

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Scythe is doing things a litle differently.  If you reside in Europe, they are offering free mounting kits to owners of their Mugen 5 cooler, simply reach out them via this link, again attaching a receipt for the cooler and either a Ryzen CPU or AM4 motherboard.  Owners of a Katana 3 or 4, Kabuto 3, Shuriken Rev. B, Tatsumi “A”, Byakko, or Iori cooler need not even go through that process, your coolers mount is already compatible.  For owners of other coolers you can reach out to Scythe via the previous link to order a bracket for  3,99€, to ship out sometime in May or later.  We will let you know when we hear from the NA branch.

scythe.jpg

"Coinciding with the new AMD Zen-based Ryzen CPUs, and the new AM4 socket, NZXT will be providing a free retention bracket for all current Kraken users. NZXT believes in providing high-quality components to our customers, in addition to exceptional customer service no matter where they reside and we will continue that support alongside the launch of Ryzen."

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Source: NZXT

GDC 2017: $200 Off Oculus Rift and Touch

Subject: General Tech | March 2, 2017 - 02:59 AM |
Tagged: Oculus, VR, pc gaming

Alongside the release of Robo Recall from Epic Games, which is free of you own an Oculus Rift and the Oculus Touch controllers, Oculus has changed up how you can purchase the Oculus Rift. As was the case since the Touch controllers shipped, the Oculus Rift is bundled with these motion controllers. The difference is that, now, the bundle will cost $598 USD. This is a $200 reduction in price compared to someone who purchased the headset and the controllers separately last week. The controllers, alone, are now $99 USD.

So this is interesting.

According to recent statements by Gabe Newell, who is obviously in the HTC Vive camp, the VR market doesn’t have “a compelling reason for people to spend 20 hours a day in VR”. This assertion was intended to dispel the opinion that a price cut would help VR along. From his perspective, VR will have a huge bump in resolution and frame rate within one or two years, and current headsets are basically the minimum of adequacy.

So, from both a software and technology standpoint, VR can benefit from more time in the oven before tossing it down the garbage disposal. I see that point and I agree with it, but only to a point. A price reduction can still help in several ways. First, the games industry has made some drastic shifts toward the individual. Free tools, from IDEs to AAA-quality game engines, seem to be picking up in adoption. A high entry fee for a segment of that mind share will push those with creative ideas elsewhere.

But, probably more importantly, even if the market is small, pulling in more users makes it grow. The more lead users that you can acquire, the more risk can be attempted, which will make an even better situation for whenever we need to start considering mass market. Imagine if a factor of two increase in user base would be enough for Microsoft (or Linux distros) to consider virtual desktops for VR. If we reach that threshold a year or two sooner, then it will have a more significant impact on the value for mainstream users whenever the technology catches up to their interest.

And yes, this is coming from the guy who is currently surrounded by four monitors...

Anyway, rant aside, Oculus has jumped in to a significant price reduction. This should get it into the hands of more people, assuming the injunction order doesn’t get accepted and drop on them like a hammer.

Source: Oculus

YouTube Launching Its Own $35 Per Month Live TV Streaming Service With Cloud DVR

Subject: General Tech | March 2, 2017 - 12:16 AM |
Tagged: youtube red, youtube, live tv, cord cutting, cloud dvr, broadcast tv

YouTube is jumping into the streaming TV market with the launch of YouTube TV. The new "over the top" streaming service is aimed at cord cutters and users that want to watch live and recorded TV on their mobile devices. YouTube TV joins AT&T's DirecTV Now, Dish Network's Sling TV, and PlayStation Vue with a streaming package of ~40 channels for $35 per month that is reportedly the result of licensing negotiations and deals two years in the making.

The streaming platform, which is reportedly coming in the next weeks to months (depending on the market and local market licensing), will come out swinging with two main advantages over the existing competition: YouTube TV will allow more simultaneous streams (six accounts with up to 3 streams going at the same time) and have DVR functionality with unlimited storage and unlimited simultaneous recordings where episodes will be saved for 9 months.

YouTube TV.jpg

Unfortunately, YouTube TV suffers the same main drawback of these over the top TV streaming services which is channel selection. Due to licensing issues, YouTube TV will have a collection of 40 channels at launch including access to ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, E!, CW, FX, USA, Freeform, FS1, Disney Channel, and more. However, it lacks the cable-only networks like AMC and Viacom (also no MTV, CNN, TNT, TBS, Comedy Central, HGTV, or Food Network). Showtime is available for an extra monthly fee though.

The sports channels are nice to see and are sure to be appreciated, but due to Verizon's exclusivity deal NFL games are restricted to PCs and can not be streamed on mobile devices using YouTube TV.

For those interested, CNET has a full list of the channels here. YouTube TV will reportedly also allow access to YouTube Red programming, but the TV programming will still have ads (of course).

Excepting the NFL streams, users can watch live and recorded TV on their PCs, smartphones, tablets, and Chromecasts. Google Home support is currently in development as well and will eventually allow you to tune into a channel on your Chromecast using your voice.

I am a excited to see another major player enter this IP TV streaming space, and with a working DVR it will have a leg up over the competition (here's looking at you, DirecTV Now). With Google backing the venture I am hopeful that it can flex its considerable capital muscle to work out further deals with the stubborn cable networks and eventually (maybe) we will see a truly a la carte TV streaming service!

What are your thoughts on YouTube TV? Is it enough to get you to cut the cord, or are you too into The Walking Dead?

Source: YouTube

GDC 2017: The Khronos Group (re-)Announces OpenXR

Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2017 - 08:12 PM |
Tagged: VR, pc gaming, openxr, Khronos

While the Vulkan update headlines the Khronos Group’s presence at GDC 2017, they also re-announced their VR initiative, now called OpenXR. This specification wraps around the individual SDKs, outlining functionality that is to be exposed to the application and the devices. If a device implements the device layer, then it will immediately support everything that uses the standard, and vice-versa.

khronos-2017-openxr-logo.png

OpenVR was donated by Valve, leading to OpenXR...
... because an X is really just a reflected V, right?

Like OpenGL and Vulkan, individual vendors will still be allowed to implement their own functionality, which I’m hoping will be mostly exposed through extensions. The goal is to ensure that users can, at a minimum, enjoy the base experience of any title on any device.

They are aiming for 2018, but interested parties should contribute now to influence the initial release.

Nintendo Switches out spinach green and almost black for 720p

Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2017 - 03:46 PM |
Tagged: Tegra X1, Nintendo Switch, Joy-Con, gaming

The Nintendo Switch has arrived for those who feel that mobile gaming is lacking in analog joysticks and buttons.  The product sits in an interesting place, the 720p screen is nowhere near the resolution of modern phones though those phones lack a dock which triggers an overclocked mode to send 1080p to a TV.  The programming team behind Nintendo also has far more resources than most mobile app developers and they can incorporate some tricks which a phone simply will not be able to replicate.  Ars Technica took the Switch, its two Joy-Cons and the limited number of released games on a tour to see just how well Nintendo did on their new portable gaming system.  There are some improvements that could be made but the Joy-Cons do sound more interesting than the Gameboy Advanced.

newswitch-1-1440x960.jpg

"With the Switch, Nintendo seems to be betting that the continued drum beat of Moore's Law and miniaturization has made that dichotomy moot. The Switch is an attempt to drag the portable gaming market kicking and screaming to a point where it's literally indistinguishable from the experience you'd get playing on a 1080p HDTV."

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Source: Ars Technica

Tearing open a Tesla; a look at the Model S battery

Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2017 - 01:23 PM |
Tagged: tesla motors, battery

Hack a Day posted a video of a teardown of the battery that powers the Tesla Model S, for those curious about how it is set up.  This is not recommended for you to try at home, not only are there a huge number of bolts and Torx screws, it seems that each has a specific torque amount which must be adhered to.  Inside are 16 battery packs, each of which contain 444 cells with a total of 24V, for a sum of 5.3 kWh.  Do not test the charge on these batteries with your tongue!  Click on through to watch the video.

tesla-teardown-featured.jpg

"Tesla famously build their battery packs from standard 18650 lithium-ion cells, but it’s safe to say that the pack in the Model S has little in common with your laptop battery. Fortunately for those of a curious nature, [Jehu Garcia] has posted a video showing the folks at EV West tearing down a Model S pack from a scrap car, so we can follow them through its construction."

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Source: Hack a Day

AMD Unveils Next-Generation GPU Branding, Details - Radeon RX Vega

Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2017 - 05:46 PM |
Tagged: amd, Vega, radeon rx vega, radeon, gdc 2017, capsaicin, rtg, HBCC, FP16

Today at the AMD Capsaicin & Cream event at GDC 2017, Senior VP of the Radeon Technologies Group, Raja Koduri officially revealed the branding that AMD will use for their next generation GPU products.

While we usually see final product branding deviate from their architectural code names (e.g. Polaris becoming the Radeon RX 460, 470 and 480), AMD this time has decided to embrace the code name for the retail naming scheme for upcoming graphics cards featuring the new GPU – Radeon RX Vega.

RadeonRXVega.jpg

However, we didn't just get a name for Vega-based GPUs. Raja also went into some further detail and showed some examples of technologies found in Vega.

First off is the High-Bandwidth Cache Controller found in Vega products. We covered this technology during our Vega architecture preview last month at CES, but today we finally saw a demo of this technology in action.

Vega-HBCCslide.jpg

Essentially, the High-Bandwidth Cache Controller (HBCC) allows Vega GPUs to address all available memory in the system (including things like NVMe SSDs, system DRAM and network storage.) AMD claims that by using the already fast memory you have available on your PC to augment onboard GPU memory (such as HBM2) they will be able to offer less expensive graphics cards that ultimately offer access to much more memory than current graphics cards.

Vega-HBCC.jpg

The demo that they showed on stage featured Deus Ex: Mankind Divided running on a system with a Vega GPU running with 2GB of VRAM, and Ryzen CPU. By turning HBCC on, they were able to show a 50% increase in average FPS, and a 100% increase in minimum FPS.

While we probably won't actually see a Vega product with such a small VRAM implementation, it was impressive to see how HBCC was able to dramatically improve the playability of a 2GB GPU on a game that has no special optimizations to take advantage of the High-Bandwidth Cache.

The other impressive demo running on Vega at the Capsaicin & Cream event centered around what AMD is calling Rapid Pack Math.

Rapid Pack Math is an implementation of something we have been hearing and theorizing a lot about lately, the use of FP16 shaders for some graphic effects in games. By using half-precision FP16 shaders instead of the current standard FP32 shaders, developers are able to get more performance out of the same GPU cores. In specific, Rapid Pack Math allows developers to run half-precision FP16 shaders at exactly 2X the speed of traditional standard-precision FP32 shaders.

TressFX-FP16.jpg

While the lower precision of FP16 shaders won't be appropriate for all GPU effects, AMD was showing a comparison of their TressFX hair rendering technology running on both standard and half-precision shaders. As you might expect, AMD was able to render twice the amount of hair strands per second, making for a much more fluid experience.

Vega-shirt.jpg

Just like we saw with the lead up to the Polaris GPU launch, AMD seems to be releasing a steady stream of information on Vega. Now that we have the official branding for Vega, we eagerly await getting our hands on these new High-end GPUs from AMD.