A possible GTX 680 specs leak?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 14, 2012 - 05:29 PM |
Tagged: rumour, nvidia, leak, gtx 680

Below you can see a screen grab from PConline which purports to show the specifications of the GTX 680. While the specs are well within reason, without any way to verify this leak, or to translate the Chinese characters it is hard to have these specs confirmed or denied as they stand.  Whether you should take the below with a good dose of NaCl is as of yet unknown but for now we can enjoy the speculation until NVIDIA finally releases the cards for review.

670leakage.png

Please feel free to add any speculations, doubts or other leaks in the comments below ... or even a decent translation would be great!  You can catch the Google Translation here, if you wish to torture your brain with exclusive exposure.

Source: PConline

Don't snub the Corsair Vengeance 1300 headset just because it is analog

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2012 - 05:08 PM |
Tagged: audio, corsair, vengeance 1300

While many USB headsets make the claim that they need no drivers to work, an analog headset is about as Plug and Play as you can get.  Corsair's Vengeance 1300 is no different and will start working once you plug it in.  You do of course lose some of the features of  digital sound, no 5.1 emulation on this headset, just stereo sound is available.  Hardware Secrets found them very comfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time as well as very portable so for those who find themselves on the road they make a very solid choice.  Check out the review here.

HS_C1300.jpg

"Corsair first entered the gaming-grade headset market with the HS1, a digital model we already tested. Now they put on the market the Vengeance line, comprised of an analog model (the 1300) and its digital equivalent (the 1500). We will test the Vengeance 1300, beginning with a look at its physical characteristics and then proceeding to its performance."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

Give me a Marauder MAD-5M with original armour and I am good to go

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2012 - 02:46 PM |
Tagged: Mechwarrior, gaming

Though not a single player game in any sense of the word, MechWarrior has finally come back to the PC in the form of a free to play online game.  Think of it as a large Solaris VII Arena where two teams of 12 mechs compete for domination.  You don't have to restrict yourself to assault mechs either, as effective scouting with smaller mechs will net you the same experience awards as blowing the leg off of an opposing mech. For those who want a more persistent experience you can join a mercenary company or if you prefer to just jump into battle like Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN had the chance to do then jump into a cockpit and lay waste to your enemies in the newest implementation of the Crytek 3 engine.

mech2.jpg

"It’s been ten years since the last MechWarrior game. Which seems odd, since the idea of stomping around in giant robots is such a popular one. But now the license has been put in the hands of Piranha Games, and it’s going online, and MechWarrior Online is going free to play. I saw it in action at GDC, so read on for my report."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

You might want to rethink enabling RDP unless you have NLA set up

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2012 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: remote desktop protocol, patch tuesday, fud, rdp, security

Remote Desktop Protocol is a very handy tool, as the name suggests it allows you to take remote control of a desktop and is commonly used for everything from logging into a remote server to change settings to helping a long distance friend to get their printer installed to logging onto your home machine to start a Steam download and install so your game will be ready for you when you get home from work.  Unfortunately it does open up a way into your PC for attackers, though thanks to the Network Level Authentication feature which was added into Vista and later versions of Windows, PCs on an authenticated network are much safer than they would be without it.  Unfortunately NLA will not exist on home workgroups, nor is it supported by versions of Windows previous to Vista.  That is why The Register warns of a RDP vulnerability that Microsoft will be patching next patch Tuesday, as older machines as well as home machines could be at risk if someone launches an attack before the patch is released and installed.  For the mean time you might want to disable RDP unless you actually use it regularly.

rdp.png

"The critical flaw covers all versions of Windows and is found in the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). It allows attackers to run code remotely behind the firewall, although Vista users and above can activate the Remote Desktop’s Network Level Authentication (NLA) to trigger an authentication request. RDP is disabled by default, but is often activated."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Walmart Will Convert DVDs and Blu-rays to VUDU Digital Copies

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2012 - 03:34 AM |
Tagged: walmart, vudu, ultraviolet, ripping, movies, hd, dvd, digital

Walmart Offering DVD Disc to Vudu Digital Copy conversion for cheap, but there is a caveat.

(Preface) Despite the iron fist fighting innovation and locking down media that is the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act), many tech savvy people have employed certain programs and disc drives to rip their physical DVD and Blu-ray collections to digital files that can act as backups and can be easily streamed around the house or over the Internet when you are out and about. The movie studios definitely do not like this practice; however, there is little that they can do about it (and as far as opinions go, they shouldn't). Slowly but surely the world is prodding them with a giant stick of common sense and they are starting to wake up, however. Many DVDs and Blu-rays now come with digital copies that can be unlocked and played via Itunes or Windows Media Player.  (Sure, they are DRM'ed but it is a step in the right direction.)

And even more recently, several movie studios have started experimenting with the idea of stream-able copies of physical discs using their Ultra Violet DRM. The official description of Ultra Violet is as follows.

"UltraViolet (UVVU or UV for short) is an an ecosystem for interoperable electronic content. It's a branded set of specifications and agreements along with a centralized rights clearinghouse that allows retailers to sell movies that play on UltraViolet-compatible players and services."

Needless to say, the official word isn't too helpful for those not studying law or marketing (heh). Basically it is a set of standards (including DRM) that other services and retailers can follow and sell access to a library of digital movies from participating movie studios. The standards specify that Ultraviolet movies should be download-able to UV compliant devices; however, at time of writing only streaming devices are commonplace. The way Ultra Violet works is that certain physical disc purchases will have a code that can then be used to redeem a digital copy that can then be streamed to PCs, TVs, and other supported devices (which they estimate at around 300+ devices).

walmart_dvd_conversion.png

Walmart's approach is a bit different than that but follows the same Ultraviolet DRM and standards. The new Walmart Entertainment conversion service will allow customers to bring in their DVD or Blu-ray collection and for a $2 a disc will be given access to a digital version of that film through their subsidiary company VUDU's movie service. Because Walmart has a deal with the appropriate studios, they are able to convert the movies for a small fee and without needing to rip the discs. Instead, at the Photo Center, employees will examine the discs, then find the matching movie (if there is one, of course) on the VUDU service and add it to the customers VUDU account (or create a new account if they do not already have an existing VUDU account). According to Walmart, the movies will be available for streaming within a few minutes of activation, and customers will be allowed to keep their physical discs.

Further, customers will be able to upgrade their DVD's to an HD (not Blu-ray quality but better than DVD) VUDU copy for $5 (or $3 more than a standard conversion). The wording of the press release is a bit ambiguous but seems to suggest that DVD to SD VUDU and Blu-ray to HD VUDU count as "standard conversions" due to their "equal conversions" description. Only DVDs to HD will be at the higher priced conversion (we'll get clarification on this, so stay tuned for an update).

As mentioned above, there are a couple caveats to this new conversion service. Mainly, the digital copies are (currently) only stream-able, meaning a constant internet connection is required. This point may be moot in a few months when downloads are allegedly going to be supported by Ultraviolet DRM, but at the time of writing still exists. Also, there is the fact that the files are DRM'ed, meaning that customers are out of luck if VUDU shuts down their service or they do not have Ultraviolet approved devices. The major negative that tech savvy people are likely to bring up is that the service costs money for DRM protected files when they are able to rip their DVDs and Blu-rays on their own for free and do whatever they want with the non-DRM'ed files. Finally, the service is further limited by studio support and VUDUs catalog, meaning that they may not be able to convert all of your collection for DVDs or Blu-rays that are not available on VUDU.

It is a valid point; however, it should be noted that while it is rarely enforced, the DMCA makes ripping DVDs and Blu-ray discs illegal (because the programs need to break the encryption to copy the video to the computer). Also, the Walmart service does have the benefit of cheap HD upgrades for your DVD collection at $5 a pop versus $20+ for Blu-ray versions, and it is a heck of a lot faster than waiting for the Handbrake transcoding queues to finish!

In the end, the new DVD and Blu-ray disc to digital conversion service is not perfect; however, it is a step in the right direction and a decent option for anyone that does not have the time or knowledge to rip their own DVD or Blu-ray collection. For example, this is something I could see my family members using as a good way to backup their collection and prevent the situation where their kids favorite movie will no longer play because they stepped on it and threw it like a Frisbee (and the ensuing tantrum hehe). And if they get to the point where the files are no longer DRM'ed I would definitely consider it because of the time saved in converting and cheap HD upgrade (there have been very few movies I've spent the extra money on to get the Blu-ray version whereas I'm less selective about cheaper DVD purchases).

Source: Walmart

Nobody likes NVIDIA, even Apple won't play with them

Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2012 - 12:15 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, nvidia, macbook, kelper, Ivy Bridge, fermi, apple

NVIDIA has been having a rough life lately with problems besetting them on all sides.  Their IGP business has been disembowelled by AMD's Llano and even Intel is now offering usable graphics with the HD3000 on higher end Sandy Bridge chips.   The console makers seem to have decided on AMD as the provider of choice for the next generation of products which locks NVIDIA out of that market for years to come, as console generations tend to last significantly longer than PC components.  The delays at TSMC have enabled AMD to launch three families of next generation GPU without NVIDIA being able to respond, which not only hurts NVIDIA's bottom line but lets AMD set their own pricing until NVIDIA can finally release Kepler, at a price that will not be wholly of their choosing. 

Now according to SemiAccurate they are losing a goodly portion of Apple's MacBook business as well.  The supply issues which will be the result of the fabrication problems were likely a big factor in Apple's decision to trim back GPU orders but there is also the fact that the low to mid range GPU could well be going extinct.  With the power of the forthcoming Intel HD4000 and AMD's Trinity line of APUs it will become hard for laptop and system makers to justify putting in a discrete GPU since they will have to choose relatively expensive parts to have the discrete GPU contribute to performance. That leaves NVIDIA only providing GPUs for high end MacBooks, a much less lucrative market than the mid range.  Don't even mention the previous issue of overheating GPUs.

ENGAD_macbookproboom.jpg

"That is exactly what SemiAccurate moles are telling us is going on. Nvidia can’t supply, so Apple threw them out on their proverbial magical experience. This doesn’t mean that Nvidia is completely out at Apple, the Intel GPUs are too awful to satisfy the higher end laptops, so there will need to be something in those. What that something is, we don’t definitively know yet, but the possibilities are vanishingly small."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: SemiAccurate

Google Rolling Out SSL Encrypted Search for International Users

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2012 - 10:01 PM |
Tagged: SSL, search, international, google, encryption

Google recently announced on their Inside Search blog that the company would be rolling out the default SSL encrypted search option for users signed in with a Google account internationally. Previously, the company made SSL encryption the default setting for Gmail and provided an alternative encrypted.google.com webpage for users that wanted to opt in to encrypted search. Earlier this year, they began testing SSL encrypted search and search results pages for users signed into Google in the US, and they are now ready to expand the default setting to international users.

google_padlock.png

They announced that over the next few weeks, they will begin introducing an SSL (secure socket layer) encrypted search page for localized international google pages such as google.co.uk (United Kingdom) and google.fr (France) among others. Further, they hope that their increased SSL commitment will encourage other websites to enable SSL on their domains to protect users from MITM (man in the middle) attacks and to ensure their sessions stay private.

More encryption is a good thing, and international users will be pleased to finally get a taste of it for their google search queries, especially now that the big G has enabled personalized search results.

Source: Google

GoFlow To Offer $99 tDCS Brain Augmentation Kit

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2012 - 09:54 PM |
Tagged: tDCS, overclocking, DIY, brain, augmentation

The new Extreme Tech (RIP ET Classic) recently ran an article that talks about turbo boosting, overclocking goodness, but with a twist. Instead of the typical CPU or GPU hardware, the article talks about overclocking some wetware in the form of the human brain. More specifically, a DIY kit called the GoFlow is in the works to enable affordable tDCS, or transcranial direct-current stimulation, to stimulate the brain into a "state of flow" enabling quicker learning and faster response times.

tDCS_schematic.jpg

The GoFlow β1 will be a $99 do it yourself tDCS kit that will direct you in placing electrodes on the appropriate areas of your scalp and then pumping some direct current from a 9V battery at 2 milliamps through your brain, enticing the neurons into a state of flow. This makes them more malleable to creating new pathways and increasing learning speed as well as allowing them to fire more rapidly, bolstering thought processes. The kit, which is not available for purchase yet, will not require any knowledge of soldering, and will be housed a plastic case along with wires, schematics, and a potentiometer to dial in the right amount of power.

The company behind the GoFlow β1 has further referenced cases of successful tDCS short term testing including tests of UAV Drone pilots and professional gamers all learning their respective trades more quickly than the average. Extremetech also mentions that tDCS can have therapeutic effects for people effected by Parkinson’s or post stoke motor dysfunction.

Right now, the kit is still in the works, but interested users can sign up to be notified when it becomes available on their website. At $99, is this something work a shot, or do you prefer not to void the warranty on your brain? (heh)  Personally, statements such as "our tDCS kit is the shit" and "get one of the first β1's and will help us develop β2" on the webstie are not exactly instilling confidence to me, but if you're big into the early adopter adventure, GoFlow may have something for you to test.

Source: Extreme Tech

So when is that GTX680 coming out anyways?

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2012 - 03:20 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, kelper, GK104, gtx680

Whether you are an NVIDIA fan or not you are likely anxiously awaiting the release of NVIDIA's new GPU.  Since AMD is currently holding the lead on graphics cards they have no competition to lower the price of their high end cards which can beat anything NVIDIA currently has on the market.  Depending on the price and performance of the new Kepler chip, its release should have an effect on the pricing of at least one line of AMD card, be it Pitcairn or Cape Verde.  This is why SemiAccurate's pegging of the expected release dates, both paper and physical, are worth taking a look at, especially if your GPU recently died and you are looking at getting a new one.  We should have a good idea of the price, performance and availability by the end of March.

Nvidia Fermi1.jpg

"Today, March 8, is the day where the press that Nvidia flew in get their ‘tech day’, basically the deep dive on Kepler. Then, like we said a few days ago, Nvidia will paper launch the cards next Monday, March 12. From that point, things get a little hazy because people are arguing over two different days. Some are saying Friday March 23, others Monday March 26, with a few more saying 23 than 26. It could be none of the above though, but if you bet on two weeks out, you won’t be far off."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: SemiAccurate

NVIDIA Joins Linux Foundation

Subject: General Tech | March 10, 2012 - 12:37 AM |
Tagged: software, OS, nvidia, linux

In a recent press release, the Linux Foundation added four new members, one of which is a big deal in the graphics card industry. In addition to the new members of Fluendo, Lineo Solutions, and Mocana is the green GPU powerhouse NVIDIA. According to Maximum PC, there is talk around the web of the company moving to open source graphics drivers; however, NVIDIA has not released anything to officially confirm or deny.

Linux Foundation Logo.GIF

The Linux Foundation's Logo

Such a move would be rather extreme and unlikely, but it would certainly be one that is welcomed by the Linux community. Officially, the Vice President of Linux Platform Software Scott Pritchett stated the company is "strongly committed" to delivering quality software/hardware experiences and they hope their membership in the Linux Foundation will "accelerate our collaboration with the organizations and individuals instrumental in shaping the future of Linux." Further, they hope to be able to add to and enhance the user and development experience of the open source operating system.

The three other members to join the Linux Foundation specialize in multimedia software (Fluendo), embedded system development (Lineo Solutions), and device-agnostic security (Mocana) but the green giant that is NVIDIA has certainly stolen the show and is the big announcement for them (which isn't a bad thing that they joined, it is kind of a big deal to have them). Amanda McPherson, VP of Marketing and Developer Services for the Linux Foundation wrapped up the press release by saying that all of the new members "represent important areas of the Linux ecosystem and their contributions will immediately help advance the operating system.”

NVIDIA has generally enjoyed good support on the major Linux distributions, but now that they are a member here's hoping they can further improve their Linux graphics card drivers. What is your take on the Linux Foundation's new members, will they make a difference?

Podcast #192 - AMD Radeon HD 7870 and 7850, Z77 Motherboard previews, and a Steam console

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | March 8, 2012 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: Z77, ssd, podcsat, podcast, msi, Intel, gpu, cpu, asus, amd, 7870, 7850

PC Perspective Podcast #192 - 03/08/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the AMD Radeon HD 7870 and 7850, Z77 Motherboard previews, and a Steam console?

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!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 54:59

Program Schedule: 

  1. 0:00:42 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:02:00 Installing Windows 8 Consumer Preview In A VirtualBox Virtual Machine
  6. 0:05:00 AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB and HD 7850 2GB Pitcairn Review
    1. Radeon HD 7870 2GB vs HD 7850 2GB vs HD 5870 1GB Quick Look
  7. 0:18:30 ASUS Z77 Chipset Motherboard Preview: Formula, Gene, mini-ITX
  8. 0:24:30 MSI X79A-GD65 (8D) LGA 2011 ATX Motherboard Review
  9. 0:26:00 Visual Computing Still Decades from Computational Apex
  10. 0:36:00 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  11. 0:37:00 GDC 12: The bigger big picture, Steam Box to be announced?
  12. 0:40:30 MSI Shows of Next Generation Twin Frozr IV Cards at Cebit
  13. 0:42:30 Peter Pan presents a stylish mouse at CeBIT; Thermaltake's Level 10 M
  14. 0:45:45 Apple Launching Quad Core Graphics A5X Powered iPad 3 With Retina Display
  15. 0:49:00 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: How about a new laptop?  Time for shopping!!  Ultrabook?  IVB maybe?
    2. Jeremy: Ever heard of the brown note?
    3. Josh: They have arrived
    4. Allyn: sleep lulz
  16. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  17. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  18. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  19. Closing

Source:

Maybe that is why TSMC stopped production on 28nm?

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2012 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, 28nm

The news broke yesterday that TSMC had halted production on 28nm production in mid February for an undisclosed reason.  SemiAccurate thought this strange as the only company that is admitting to problems with TSMC's 28nm process is NVIDIA, but at least production was scheduled to restart by the end of March.  Today from DigiTimes we hear a more positive story about not only the 28nm but also the 20nm process line as TSMC predicts that the demand for chips from their customers could go as high as 95% of their capacity.  Perhaps because of the lack of pressure because of a currently well stocked channel they shut down the line to ensure no preventable problems would prevent them from meeting this high demand?

tsmc_wafer.jpg

"Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) chairman and CEO Morris Chang has commented that development of 20nm and 28nm processes is progressing well. The market believes TSMC's capacity utilization rate in second-quarter 2012 should be close to 95%.

Chang indicated that 28nm processes will likely contribute 10% of 2012 revenues.

Industry sources pointed out that TSMC's capacity utilization of its 28nm and 45nm processes at its 12-inch wafer plant has not decreased and delivery usually takes 8-10 weeks.

Equipment makers also indicated that TSMC has been ordering equipment and installations will be completed in first-half 2012.

Industry sources added that other Taiwan-based IC design houses have been experiencing increasing orders. The market was pessimistic before the Lunar New Year holidays causing inventory levels to be low. This has induced the recent wave of increased orders."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

Intel in the Cloud with Ray-traces

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | March 8, 2012 - 04:02 AM |
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.

intel-ray.jpg

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.

intel-41914.png

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.

Source: Intel Blog

Unreal Engine Samaritan Demo Running On Single NVIDIA Kepler GPU

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2012 - 12:38 AM |
Tagged: unreal, udk, samaritan, nvidia, fxaa

Last year we saw Unreal unviel their Samaritan demo which showed off next generation gaming graphics using three NVIDIA 580 GTX graphics cards in SLI.  Epic games showed off realistic hair and cloth physics along with improved lighting, shadows, anti-aliasing, and more bokeh effects than gamers could shake a controller at with their Samaritan demo, and I have to say it was pretty impressive stuff a year ago, and it still is today. What makes this round special is that hardware has advanced such that the Samaritan level graphics can be achieved in real time with a single graphics card, a big leap from last year's required three SLI'd NVIDIA GTX 580s!

The Samaritan demo was shown at this years' GDC 2012 (Games Developers Conference) to be running on a single NVIDIA "Kepler" graphics card in real time, which is pretty exciting. Epic did not state any further details on the upcoming NVIDIA graphics card; however, the knowledge that the single GPU was able to pull off what it took three Fermi cards to do certainly holds promise.

According to GeForce; however, it was not merely the NVIDIA Kepler GPU that made the Samaritan demo on a single GPU possible. The article states that it was the inclusion of NVIDIA's method for anti-aliasing known as FXAA, or Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing that enabled it. Unlike the popular MSAA option employed by (many of) today's games, FXAA uses much less memory, enabling single graphics cards to avoid being bogged down by memory thrashing. They further state that the reason MSAA is not ideal for the Samaritan demo is because the demo uses deferred shading to provide the "complex, realistic lighting effects that would be otherwise impossible using forward rendering," a method employed by many game engines. The downside to the arguably better lighting in the Samaritan demo is that it requires four times as much memory. This is because the GPU RAM needs to hold four samples per pixel, and the workload is magnified four times in areas of the game where there are multiple intersecting pieces of geometry.

MSAAvsFXAA.png

FXAA vs MSAA

They go on to state that without AA turned on, the lighting in the Samaritan demo uses approximately 120 MB of GPU RAM, and with 4x MSAA turned on it uses about 500 MB. That's 500 MB of memory dedicated just to lighting when it could be used to hold more of the level and physics, for example and would require a GPU to swap more data that it should have to (using FXAA). They state that FXAA on the other hand, is a shader based AA method that does not require additional memory, making it "much more performance friendly for deferred renderers such as Samaritan."

Without anti-aliasing, the game world would look much more jagged and not realistic. AA seeks to smooth out the jagged edges, and FXAA enabled Epic to run their Samaritan demo on a single next generation NVIDIA graphics card. Pretty impressive if you ask me, and I'm excited to see game developers roll some of the Samaritan graphical effects into their games. Knowing that Epic Game's engine can be run on a single graphics card implies that this future is all that much closer. More information is available here, and if you have not already seen it the Samaritan demo is shown in the video below.

Source: GeForce

The SSD market gets passed a TRIM command

Subject: General Tech, Storage | March 7, 2012 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: western digital, ssd, hitachi, flash, EMC

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, which was the result of the merger of Hitachi and IBM's HDD businesses, is likely being purchased by Western Digital tomorrow for about $4.3 billion.  This makes sense as WD has been using Hitachi GST as a sales partner when providing  EMC with high end flash disks.  This deal comes on the heels of a major sell, the SSD400S flash disk which uses Intel's 34nm SLC NAND and the SSD400S-B which utilizes the new 25nm NAND developed by Intel.  Check out the specifications of the flash drives as well as the new SSD company over at The Register.

intel-nand.jpg

"WD is buying Hitachi GST and the acquisition is expected to be formally announced tomorrow with a condition of two years of independence for Hitachi GST - imposed by a Chinese anti-competition regulator. EMC has certified Hitachi GST's SSD400S flash disks for use in its VNX mid-range unified storage arrays, including the all-flash VNX5500-F, so WD will effectively fulfil this deal once the acquisition is announced."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Peter Pan presents a stylish mouse at CeBIT; Thermaltake's Level 10 M

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2012 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: thermaltake, Level 10 M, gaming mouse

Continuing the design collaboration between Thermaltake and BMW that brought us the incredible Level 10 enclosure, a new gaming mouse was announced at CeBIT, the Level 10 M mouse

ttesports_L10one.png

Thermaltake General Manager Peter Pan had the following to say,
"At Thermaltake Group we have always been proud of being a pioneer in design, performance and innovation, we are very excited to launch the Level 10 M Gaming Mouse which is our latest collaboration with DesignworksUSA since the legendary Level 10 Chassis."

TTE_specs.png

The specifications above don't even begin to cover the actual features available on this fully adjustable mouse, with almost every dimension of this mouse can be adjusted for the perfect fit to your hand.

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Anyone that already owns a keyboard with LED lighting on it will be delighted to see the way that multicoloured LEDs shine through the grating visible on the top of the mouse and that is not all that grating can do.  Take a look below for reassurance that no matter how long you are gaming or working for, your hand is not going to break out in a sweat.

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Show off your style at work, LAN parties or just to match the theme of the machine you have at home; this BMW inspired mouse will definitely get you some attention.

Source: Thermaltake

PC Gaming Alliance Announces Record PC Game Sales in 2011

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2012 - 01:30 AM |
Tagged: sales, record, pcga, PC, gaming

In two surprising bits of news, the PC gaming alliance is not only still alive and kicking, but their recent report indicates that the PC games industry saw record sales numbers in 2011. The consortium reported that worldwide PC game sales hit $18.6 billion last year, a year over year increased of 15%. The initial numbers definitely seem to suggest that PC gaming is nowhere near dead.

The PCGA states that the rise in sales is due to increases in the Chinese PC games market and the rise in popularity of Free-to-Play games like TF2, Star Trek: Online, League of Legends, and World of Warcraft (which has a free component), and many others. The integration of some of the most popular Free to Play games into Valve's Steam store certainly didn't hurt either!

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Further, the release of several big hit titles including Battlefield 3, Skyrim, Saints Row: The Third, and Portal 2, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution (my pick for PC Per Game of the Year) all contributed to the record sales numbers on the PC. According to the article, Asian publisher Tencent launched League of Legends and is now bringing in 11 million players (though it's likely that not all of those players are active and/or spend money on the service) and will be surpassing Activision as the company making the most money off of PC games.  Zynga, the company behind many of the annoying time sinks popular Facebook games, continued to rake in a boatload of money with 2011 revenue of $1.1 billion.

Not only did the PC gaming alliance report these positive numbers for 2011, but they predict that the PC games industry will continue to grow.  As digital distribution systems catch on and broadband connections continue to improve and spread into new areas (though Verizon and AT&T aren't helping matters by stopping further roll outs of FIOS and Uverse), the PCGA predicts that the industry will grow to $25.5 billion, which would be a 37% rise in four years.  If the growth rate continues in Asian markets and publishers continue to back down from DRM in favor of producing more titles that people want to buy, their predicted growth is certainly achievable.  More information on the PCGA report can be found here along with the full press release here(PDF).

Source: IGN

Meet the Z77 motherboard family

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2012 - 03:16 PM |
Tagged: Z77, mini-itx, maximus v gene, maximus v formula, asus, Sabertooth, p8z77-V deluxe, p8z77 work station

Ryan wasn't the only one to get a preview of the new Intel Express Z77 motherboards, other models have been spotted on the web.  [H]ard|OCP had the same preview of the mATX Maximus V GENE, the SABERTOOTH Z77, mITX P8Z77-I Deluxe, ROG Maximus V Formula and the P8Z77-V Deluxe and a WorkStation version of the Deluxe as well. All are LGA1155 boards with built in video out to take advantage of the next generation of Intel's onboard HD graphics and all but the Gene feature Lucid's Hydra technology.  These are the first examples of this chipset and the boards are something to behold.

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"If you find new motherboards to be worthy of eye candy, then we have a treat for you as ASUS pulled back the curtains on its Z77 model motherboards last week here in Dallas, TX. While there is a whole lot we can't tell you about the next generation Intel processors to occupy the LGA1155 socket, we can run down a very new software feature set."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

GDC 12: Valve & Razer renew their motion partnership vows

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 6, 2012 - 03:41 AM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Box, GDC, GDC 12

Valve and Razer formally agree to support Razer Hydra motion controller in Valve’s four most popular titles and two upcoming ones.

A little over two years ago, Valve and Razer announced a partnership for their Sixense high-precision motion controllers. During CES 2010, attendees were able to experiment with a prototype motion controller from Sixense to control Left 4 Dead 2. Sixense TrueMotion controllers were later released by Razer last June as the Razer Hydra.

Now you're thinking with controllers.

This Game Developers Conference (GDC) fast forwards us to almost a year after the launch of the Razer Hydra. The price for the controller has dropped $40 to $99.99 at some point between then and now. Valve has also announced that support would be extended from Portal 2 and Left 4 Dead 2 to include Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2 and upcoming Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

The fishiest part of this whole announcement involves the Steam Box rumor from a few days ago. Valve appears to be very focused on the best portions of console gaming for the PC all of a sudden. I could easily see motion controls be used to support The Steam Box or whatever it might be called -- especially if it were used for more than just gaming and by more than just gamers.

So what do you all think?

Source: WebProNews

All New MSI R7800 Twin Frozr Series Runs up to 15˚C Cooler and 9dB Quieter

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2012 - 05:23 PM |
Tagged: msi, hd 7850, hd 7870, Twin Frozr

(Industry, CA) Leading international mainboard and graphics card maker MSI today officially announced the launch of R7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC and R7850 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC, two new graphics cards equipped with AMD's latest 28nm HD 7800 GPU. The R7800 series features the exclusive Twin Frozr III cooling design that is equipped with MSI's Propeller Blade technology - patented in several countries – for 20% more cooling than conventional fans. Combined with MSI's SuperPipe technology and large cooling fins, the R7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC core temperature is 15°C lower than reference boards and fan noise is reduced by 9dB* in full load. The R7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC supports GPU voltage adjustment technology to boost overclocking potential by up to 20%** when used with MSI's exclusive Afterburner overclocking utility. Gamers can now unleash the full potential of their graphics card for gaming and multimedia applications.

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Advanced Twin Frozr III Design Runs 15˚C Cooler and 9dB Quieter than Reference Boards
The MSI R7870/R7850 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC features the Twin Frozr III cooling module that has won popular acclaim from media around the world. The proprietary Propeller Blade technology has been patented in multiple countries and features special airflow channels on the edge of the fan blades to increase airflow by 20% compared to conventional designs and reduce noise as well! Under full load, the GPU core of the R7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC graphics card is 15˚C lower than the reference design and operating noise is reduced by 9dB to less than 30dB. This combination of outright performance and ultra-quiet operation is proof that MSI products can provide gaming enthusiasts with the coolest and quietest user experience!

MSI's Exclusive Afterburner Core Voltage Adjustment Technology
The R7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC graphics card supports GPU core voltage adjustment technology that can be used with the popular Afterburner overclocking utility to boost overclocking potential by 20%. The ability to push the graphics card to its limits reinforces MSI's excellence in software and hardware customization, making MSI the first choice of overclocking enthusiasts. In addition to overclocking, Afterburner also supports advanced fan speed control, custom overclocking settings, Predator audio/video capture and Kombustor burn-in testing. Most exciting of all is that gamers can download the Afterburner APP for Android or iOS operating systems to perform overclocking, remote monitoring and fan speed control in real-time from their handheld devices.

PCI Express Gen 3 Graphics Card with 28nm GPU
The MSI R7800 family is equipped with AMD's latest 28nm GPU that offers greater performance and processing power than the previous generation, while reducing power consumption. The MSI R7800 series graphics cards support thePCI Express Gen 3 standard, which when combined with a compatible CPU and mainboard, double bandwidth to a staggering 32GB/s for delivering the ultimate in gaming performance.

Supports Next Generation AV Ports and AMD Eyefinity Multi-Display Technology
MSI R7800 graphics cards provide DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4a outputs that support 3D video, 7.1 channel lossless TrueHD video and DTS-HD audio, as well as supporting AMD's proprietary Eyefinity multiple display technology. The support for next-generation audio-video standards makes the MSI R7800 family the best choice for professionals and gamers.

Source: MSI