Thrustmaster Announces New TS-PC Racing Wheel

Subject: General Tech | November 18, 2016 - 12:12 AM |
Tagged: wheel base, wheel, TX, Thrustmaster, T500, T300, racing, force feedback, Alcantara

Thrustmaster is announcing today the upcoming availability of their latest PC focused racing wheel and base.  The TS-PC is a brand new design that integrates many new features as compared to their previous offerings.  The press release did not mention compatibility on consoles, but it seems for now that it is aimed squarely at the PC (hence the name).

The big improvement from past part is the inclusion of a 40 watt motor providing more force than what we had seen previously in the T500, T300, and TX series of wheel bases.  I do not know how it compares to the Fanatec CSL’s 6 Nm of force, or the higher end ClubSport V2’s 8 Nm.  My guess is that it could very well be somewhere between those two options.

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The motor needs some extra cooling so that apparently has received a pretty good upgrade.  Thrustmaster seems to like their acronyms, so they are calling this cooling system the MCE.  This stands for Motor Cooling Embedded.  Few details were provided, but this system is in place to keep the motor at peak efficiency even at high transient levels of force.  It does this without ramping up the speeds of the fans in the base.  Hopefully soon we can find out how Thrustmaster was able to increase the thermal capacity in a base that is not all that much larger than previous products.

Thrustmaster is also implementing what they call a F.O.C algorithm (Field Oriented Control) that supposedly boosts the already impressive precision of the H.E.A.R.T. system (Hall Effect AccuRate Technology).  I told you they like acronyms.  This features the same 16 bit resolution of the T500 and T300 products, but it seems the new software reading the values is able to do a better job at it than previous parts.

Powering all of this is an external power supply that supports up to 400 watts of peak power.  This is a peak number and not what it can do under constant load.  That number is probably closer to 100 watts, but the specifics have not been released yet.  The motor in the wheel base does not pull a constant amount of current, so its needs are varied depending on the type of inputs required by the application.  When more force is required, it typically is not for extensive periods of time.  It seems that the power supply that Thrustmaster is using is going to be quite a bit more powerful than those that were integrated into the T500/T300/TX wheel bases.

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The open wheel itself is a new design.  It features suede grips, an aluminum plate, and aluminum paddles.  Thrustmaster claims that it has optimized stiffness and weight to give it the best overall response for the size of the product.  More mass is never a good thing when trying to transmit small or subtle variations of force feedback, so the less mess in a wheel while maximizing rigidity gives the best overall experience no matter how strong the motor is.

The TS-PC is compatible with the entire Thrustmaster ecosystem of parts.  This includes the 599XX Alcantara wheel that I reviewed some months back.  Wheels, pedals, and shifters are all compatible with the new base so users can customize their experience as needed.

The TS-PC will be available on Dec. 5, 2016 for $499.

Click to read the entire press release.

Source: Thrustmaster

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.4

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 17, 2016 - 08:54 PM |
Tagged: amd, graphics drivers

The fourth Radeon Software Crimson Edition graphics driver to be released this month, dated November 15th, was just published on their website. These have not been WHQL certified, like the previous ones, but that might actually be for the best. Rapid graphics driver releases, not throttled by Microsoft red tape, probably increases driver quality over this busy time of year. Also, I recently found out that WHQL certification is not a requirement for clean installed Windows 10 Anniversary Edition systems with Secure Boot Enabled. Both AMD and NVIDIA sign their hotfix drivers in a way that satisfies this check, without going through the entire WHQL process.

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That aside, Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.4 rolls in additional fixes to Civilization VI. AMD isn’t saying what these fixes are, such as whether they are for general performance optimizations or stability issues that we haven’t heard about yet, but it’s out now so you should probably update if you are currently playing the game. The driver also fixes problems when attempting to watch web video and play a game simultaneously, which is actually something I do frequently. (Don’t knock listening to podcasts while playing StarCraft II Arcade until you try it...) Thirdly, 16.11.4 also fixes rendering issues in Titanfall 2 that occur while piloting a Titan.

Source: AMD

NVIDIA GeForce 375.86 Game Ready Drivers Released

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 17, 2016 - 07:24 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

Update, November 17th @ 7:21pm: NVIDIA has released 375.95 Hotfix to fix this issue. They are working on getting it WHQL certified for their website and GeForce Experience. You can download and install it directly, though.

Update, November 16th @ 12:56pm: NVIDIA has reproduced the low memory clocks issue, found its cause, and are working on a fix. They believe it only affects certain factory-overclocked cards. It is obviously a high priority, so a hotfix driver will likely be issued (unless they can get it WHQL certified quick enough that it would be pointless).

Original post below:

NVIDIA has just released a new graphics driver. GeForce Game Ready 375.86 provides optimized support for Ubisoft's Steep, which is an open-world game with wingsuiters, skiers, snowboarders, and paragliders. It also rolls in extra optimizations for previous game ready games that are receiving patches: Battlefield 1, Civilization VI, and Tom Clancy's The Division.

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Before you install, though, there is one particularly annoying issue that is being reported on GeForce forums. NVIDIA is currently investigating reports that certain, but not all, Pascal GPUs are having their video memory stuck at 810 MHz, leading to (as you would expect) severe performance loss. It's possible that the affected users are all running a specific overclocking application or something. If you are in a bit of a rush and don't want to put up with potentially rolling back, then you might want to skip the version.

Thankfully, both discrete graphics vendors have been releasing multiple versions per month. The wait shouldn't be too long.

Source: NVIDIA

Podcast #425 - Samsung 960 EVO, NZXT S340, NVIDIA revenue, wireless Vive, Serious Sam VR, Steam VR on Linux and more!

Subject: General Tech | November 17, 2016 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: wireless, VR, video, valve, TPCAST, tempered glass, steam, serious sam, Samsung, S340, podcast, nzxt, linux, htc, 960 EVO, 375.86

PC Perspective Podcast #425 - 11/17/16

Join us this week as we discuss new Samsung 960 EVO, NZXT S340, NVIDIA revenue, wireless Vive, Serious Sam VR, Steam VR on Linux 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:  Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:13:46

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Ryan:
  4. Closing/outro

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

Lightsaber beats Claymore, ECS' improved Z170 motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | November 17, 2016 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: Z170, ECS, LEE7 Z170-Lightsaber, Intel, LGA 1151

ECS have upgraded their lineup of Z170 motherboards with the LEE7 Z170-Lightsaber, using improved capacitors and offering some new features.  The back panel offers a pair of USB 3 ports which receive a steady 5V, perfect for a USB DAC as well as a pair marked in yellow with a polling rate of 1000Hz for your mouse and keyboard, unless you prefer the PS/2 port.  There are an additional four USB 3.0 ports and a pair of USB 3.1 Type-A ports as well; the LAN is powered by a Killer E2400 NIC.  Drop by Modders Inc for a full review and yes, before you ask, it does have RGB disease.

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"The ECS Z170-Lightsaber is a significantly upgraded version of the Z170-Claymore, bringing more competitive features on-board, literally. Buttons directly on the Z170-Claymore motherboard PCB are designed to give users once click access to automatic overclocking, BIOS update, BIOS backup, clear CMOS, UEFI shortcut and more."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: Modders Inc

Not a bad quarter to be a GPU vendor, though some fared better than others

Subject: General Tech | November 17, 2016 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: amd, Intel, nvidia, jon peddie, q3 2016

Compared to Q2 2016, total GPU shipments including discrete and integral chips in the mobile and desktop markets increased by 20%; good but not enough to recover to the volume we saw in Q3 2015.  Indivdually, total AMD sales increased by 15% and but Intel 18% but it was NVIDIA that was the most successful with a 39% increase.  In AMD's case they saw sales of their aging desktop APUs drop by 10% but that was more than offset by a jump in discrete GPU sales of 34.7% and an increase in laptop demand by 19.1% . The discrete GPU market as a whole has grown by 35.6% from the last quarter and by 10.1% when compared to last year.  This is not bad news for AMD or Intel but it is certainly NVIDIA who has the most to celebrate.  Pop over to Jon Peddie Research for a look at their overview, or check out the full report if you subscribe to them.

Obviously the PC is still dead ... right?

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Courtesy of JPR

"AMD's overall unit shipments increased 15.38% quarter-to-quarter, Intel's total shipments increased 17.70% from last quarter, and Nvidia's increased 39.31%."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Qualcomm Quick Charge 4 offers 20% faster charging

Subject: Mobile | November 17, 2016 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: snapdragon 835, quick charge 4, Quick Charge, qualcomm

Along with the reveal of the Snapdragon 835 today and its production on Samsung’s 10nm FinFET process technology, Qualcomm is also announcing the release of Quick Charge 4, an upgrade to the company’s successful fast charging solution that improves both efficiency and performance. Based on the information provided by Qualcomm, Quick Charge 4 will offer “premium phone users” some impressive charging rates.

  • 5 hours or more of use in 5 minutes of charging
  • 50% battery charge in 15 minutes or less

Those time metrics are based on talk time, not VR playback or gaming or browsing, meaning you can get 5 hours of additional talk time in 5 minutes of Quick Charge 4 charging time. While I think other battery life metrics (like browsing time, idle time) would provide additional context for these claims, even these numbers should impress potential buyers.

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Using an updated version of its voltage negotiation protocol INOV 3.0 (intelligent negotiation for optimal voltage), Quick Charge 4 will intelligently determine what voltages are available from the compatible charger and which voltage is the most appropriate based on temperatures and current battery state. QC 4 will offer 5V, 9V and 12V charging options at 3-5A! 

Quick Charge 4 will offer 30% higher efficiency along with the 20% faster charging and integrates support for USB Type-C connections and USB-PD support. (Which is important based on the noise Google has been making recently.) New PMICs (power management ICs) from Qualcomm, the SMB1380 and SMB1381, will be shipping this year and deliver low impedance peak efficiency of up to 95%.

And of course, no smart phone platform launch will go by for the foreseeable future that doesn’t mention safety.

In addition to providing the most consistent in-box and out-of-box charging experience, Quick Charge 4 comes with advanced safety features for both the adapter and mobile device. Protection is implemented at multiple levels and throughout the entire charging process to more accurately measure voltage, current, and temperature while protecting the battery, system, cables and connectors. An additional layer of protection is also being added to help prevent battery over-charging and regulate current throughout every charge cycle.

It’s worth noting that Quick Charge 4 won’t be limited to only the Snapdragon 835 processor, though other integrations haven’t been announced just yet. I have a feeling we will hear more at CES in January. The Quick Charge ecosystem has been steadily growing with hundreds of charging accessories and devices shipping today with QC3/QC2 and I expect that will continue with Quick Charge 4. 

Full release after the break!!

Source: Qualcomm

Qualcomm Teases Snapdragon 835, built on Samsung 10nm FinFET

Subject: Processors, Mobile | November 17, 2016 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: snapdragon, Samsung, qualcomm, FinFET, 835, 10nm

Though we are still months away from shipping devices, Qualcomm has announced that it will be building its upcoming flagship Snapdragon 835 mobile SoC on Samsung’s 10nm 2nd generation FinFET process technology. Qualcomm tells us that integrating the 10nm node in 2017 will keep it “the technology leader in mobile platforms” and this makes the 835 the world's first 10nm production processor.

“Using the new 10nm process node is expected to allow our premium tier Snapdragon 835 processor to deliver greater power efficiency and increase performance while also allowing us to add a number of new capabilities that can improve the user experience of tomorrow’s mobile devices.”

Samsung announced its 10nm FinFET process technology in October of this year and it sports some impressive specifications and benefits to the Snapdragon 835 platform. Per Samsung, it offers “up to a 30% increase in area efficiency with 27% higher performance or up to 40% lower power consumption.” For Qualcomm and its partners, that means a smaller silicon footprint for innovative device designs, including thinner chassis or larger batteries (yes, please).

qualcomm-logo.jpg

Other details on the Snapdragon 835 are still pending a future reveal, but Qualcomm says that 835 is in production now and will be shipping in commercial devices in the first half of 2017. We did hear that the new 10nm chip is built on "more than 3 billion transistors" - making it an incredibly complex design!

Image_Keith Kressin Qualcomm, Ben Suh Samsung with 10nm Snapdragon 835.jpeg

Keith Kressin SVP, Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies Inc and Ben Suh, SVP, Foundry Marketing, Samsung, show off first 10nm mobile processor, Snapdragon 835, in New York at Qualcomm's Snapdragon Technology Summit.

I am very curious to see how the market reacts to the release of the Snapdragon 835. We are still seeing new devices being released using the 820/821 SoCs, including Google’s own flagship Pixel phones this fall. Qualcomm wants to maintain leadership in the SoC market by innovating on both silicon and software but consumers are becoming more savvy to the actual usable benefits that new devices offer. Qualcomm promises features, performance and power benefits on SD 835 to make the case for your next upgrade.

Full press release after the break!

Source: Qualcomm

The master cooler itself, the Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro series

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 16, 2016 - 04:21 PM |
Tagged: cooler master, MasterLiquid Pro 240, MasterLiquid Pro 280, AIO

As the somewhat repetitive name suggests, the Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro series are all in one watercoolers for your CPU.  The MasterLiquid Pro 240 is a one inch thick 240mm rad with a pair of 120mm MasterFan Pro Air Balance fans,  the 280 model is also one inch thick but uses a pair of 140mm MasterFan Pro 140 Air Pressure fans to push air through the tighter fins.  The Tech Report tested these coolers out and were pleased with the performance of both coolers, giving higher marks to the Pro 280 for providing both more effective cooling and lower noise levels when under load.  Check out their full review here.

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"Cooler Master's MasterLiquid Pro 240 and MasterLiquid Pro 280 CPU coolers bring fresh thinking to nearly every part of the closed-loop liquid cooler. We put them on the bench to see if those new ideas translate into chillier CPUs."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Please State Your Name; looking at performance in this short VR film

Subject: General Tech | November 16, 2016 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: VR, nvidia, gaming, amd

VR offers a variety of new creative opportunities, not simply a new way to make games.  For instance StudioDisrupt has created a VR movie called Please State Your Name about a decapitated robot's head in a garbage dump.  While the movie has a script which it runs through, you have the freedom to move your perspective around the world.  While this may not sound overly interesting, Kyle over at [H]ard|OCP has watched this movie 25 or 30 times this week even before embarking on this review so there must be something to it.  Check out their full look at the performance of AMD and NVIDIA cards in this VR movie by following that previous link.  A second version of the movie is available for those using their cellphone as a VR headset, somewhat more limited but seeing as how the movie is free you should take the opportunity.

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"Please State Your Name is not a game, it is not really an "experience" either, but rather a short film done in a Virtual Reality world, which puts you right in the middle of the story. This genre of VR is where AMD has been putting a lot of its resources. Can we expect the Radeon RX 480 to show us its VR prowess once again?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

That's an expensive Linux install! Microsoft gives the Linux foundation $550,000

Subject: General Tech | November 16, 2016 - 12:34 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, linux

Microsoft is obviously serious about its new found support of Linux, having just joined the Linux Foundation at the top tier of membership.  Already, we have seen the bash shell integrated with Windows 10, with familiar commands such as grep, sed, and awk as well as scripting support.  After that somewhat surprising development Microsoft once again made the unexpected move of offering eight different Linux server images on Azure.  Their newfound interest in the open source OS expands today, with their membership in the Linux Foundation they can continue to integrate more open source tools and projects into their current offerings.  You can pop by The Inquirer to read more about this unexpected turn of events.

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"The non-profit group advances open technology development and promotes Linux, and Microsoft has signed up as a Platinum member, the highest-ranking option that comes with a $500,000 annual fee."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Epic Games Releases Unreal Engine 4.14

Subject: General Tech | November 15, 2016 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: vulkan, ue4, pc gaming, epic games

Every couple of months, Epic Games drops a new version of Unreal Engine 4 with improvements all over. As such, you should check the full release notes to see all of the changes, including the fifty-one that Epic thinks are worth highlighting. Here are some that I think our readers would enjoy, though.

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First, Vulkan support for mobile devices has apparently moved out of experimental. While this will not be enabled for desktop applications, it's interesting to note that DirectX 12 is still in experimental. Basically, if you squint and put blinders on, you could sort-of see some element of Vulkan beating DirectX 12 to market.

Second, Unreal Engine 4 has significantly upgraded their forward renderer. In a lot of cases, a deferred renderer is preferable because it's fast and consistent; the post-process shader only run once per output pixel, ignoring lighting triangles that are covered by other triangles. The way this is structured, though, makes multisample anti-aliasing impossible, which is slightly annoying on desktop but brutal in VR. As an added benefit, they're also using forward shading to help the deferred renderer with translucent materials.

Unreal Engine typically uses a lot of NVIDIA SDKs. This version updates PhysX up to 3.4, which allows “continuous collision detection” on rigid bodies. This means that fast moving object shouldn't pass through objects without colliding, because the collision occurred between two checks and was missed, if this feature is enabled. They are also adding the Ansel SDK, which allows players to take high-detail screenshots, as a plug-in.

Skipping down the release notes a bunch, Unreal Engine 4.14 also adds support for Visual Studio 15, which is the version after Visual Studio 2015 (Visual Studio 14.0). Both IDEs are, in fact, supported. It's up to the developer to choose which one to use, although Visual Studio 15 makes a lot of improvements regarding install and uninstall.

Finally, at least for my brief overview, Unreal Engine 4.14 begun to refactor their networking system. It sounds like the current optimizations are CPU-focused, but allowing more network-capable objects is always a plus. Epic Games claims they are benchmarking about 40% higher performance in this area.

Source: Epic Games

RX 480 versus the GTX 1060; who gets your $250?

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 15, 2016 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: rx 480, nvidia, GTX1060, amd

On one side of the ring is the RX 480, with 2304 Stream Processors, 32 ROPs and 144 Texture Units.  In the opposite corner, at 1280 CUDA Cores, 48 ROPs and 80 Texture Units is the GTX 1060.  The two cards retail for between $200 to $250 depending on the features present on the card as well as any sales.  [H]ard|OCP tested the two cards head to head, not just raw performance numbers but also the stability of the GPU frequencies. power draw and temperatures.  All games were tested at base clocks and at the highest stable overclock and the results were back and forth, in some games AMD pulled ahead while in others NVIDIA was the clear winner.  It is worth keeping in mind that these results do not include VR results.

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"We take GIGABYTE’s Radeon RX 480 G1 GAMING video card and pit it against a MSI GeForce GTX 1060 GAMING X video card in today’s evaluation. We will overclock both video cards as high as possible and compare performance and find out what both video cards have to offer in the upper $200 price range for gaming."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

CM MasterPulse Pro Gaming Headset; the only drivers you need are the magnetic kind

Subject: General Tech | November 15, 2016 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: MasterPulse Pro Gaming Headset, coolermaster, audio, 7.1 headset

Cooler Master's MasterPulse Pro Gaming Headset offers virtual 7.1 surround, with 44mm drivers which have a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz.  All software duties are performed by the fairly large sized inline controls; the headset will not work on a phone or plane but will work on anything with USB audio capabilities.  Overclockers Club tried the headset out and they discovered these things are incredibly loud, even when the volume on the headset is turned down as far as possible.  This is somewhat of a negative when listening to media as you need to adjust your system volume down significantly, however for gaming they found it to be beneficial when listening for directional clues such as footsteps.  Take a read through the full review to see what you think about the MasterPulse Pro.

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"This is where the CM MasterPulse Pro set really stands out: gaming. The extensive bass response along with the ability to go LOUD allows you to crank up the volume to hear the details while still getting rocked with crystal clear and thunderous explosions. Because of the prodigious output, it's very easy to hear quiet sounds you might normally miss, while also placing things quite easily in terms of direction."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

The Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro is interesting, but check out that GPU

Subject: General Tech | November 15, 2016 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: radeon pro 460, radeon pro 450, radeon pro 455, apple, radeon pro, macbook pro

Ars Technica had a chance to look at the new 13" and 15" MacBook Pro models, the ones with the touch enabled strip at the top of the keyboard.  What is more interesting is the hardware inside, both lines use Skylake processors, the 13" dual core CPUs and the Pro models a four core processor.  Ars Technica looks at the various hardware features, peripheral attachments and software in their preview but it is on the third page that we get some interesting information about the discrete GPU Apple chose for the 15" Pro models.

Instead of onboard Intel HD Graphics, you choose between a Radeon Pro 450, 455 or 460.  All are 35W Polaris chips which were chosen for their ability to send signal to up to six screens simultaneously; Intel's onboard GPU can only drive three.  That allows you to drive a pair of 5K Thunderbolt 3 monitors as well as the laptop display, Intel's APU can only power a single 5K display in addition to the integral display.  As we are still stuck with DisplayPort 1.2, 5K monitors are treated as two separate monitors by the GPU, though to your eyes they are a single seamless display which is what gives AMD the advantage.  There are other benefits such as support for 10-bit 4K HEVC decoding support, though the gaming performance will be somewhat limited. 

Check out their full preview here.

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"The new design of the MacBook Pros is nice, and Apple’s decision to put in nothing but Thunderbolt 3 ports has prompted a fresh wave of dongle talk, but the signature feature of the new MacBook Pros was always going to be the Touch Bar."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Ars Technica

The new SilverStone Strider, a 600W 80 PLUS Titanium certified PSU

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 14, 2016 - 03:32 PM |
Tagged: modular psu, 80 Plus Titanium, Silverstone, strider 600W, 600W PSU

The industries current focus on energy efficiency has made the need for a kilowatt class PSU much less prevalent than a few years back.  With current generation components even multi GPU systems can function with a 600W PSU which is why we are seeing so many arriving on the market.  This has created a challenge for PSU manufacturers as in order to receive an 80 PLUS certification the PSU must be over 80% efficient even at 10% power draw, over 90% for some of the higher ratings.  The Silverstone Strider Titanium 600W PSU came close to meeting those standards in [H]ard|OCP's tests, with some issues in their worst case scenario testing.  The PSU also runs about $140 which is somewhat higher than the competition.  The news is not all bad, check out their findings in full right here.

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"SilverStone has been on a fairly successful ride with its Strider series of computer power supplies. These units tout excellent efficiency levels all while packing this into an unusually tiny footprint perfect for small form factor system builds. The ST60F-TI brings with it a solid build quality, near silent operation, all while being fully modular."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Would you like some fresh RAT? MadCatz is simplifying their mouse lineup.

Subject: General Tech | November 14, 2016 - 02:51 PM |
Tagged: input, madcatz, RAT 1, gaming mouse

Perhaps it is just me, but the MadCatz RAT 1 somewhat resembles that wonderful device for injuring yourself in the winter; the GT Snow Racer.  The new RAT 1 is similar to the old, with a slightly higher weight, red and black highlights and as you would expect, it sports an LED.  They changed the sensor to a PAW3204DB which is usually found on wireless mice, which has a maximum DPI of 1600.  This proved to be a less than perfect solution as The Tech Report found it made movement predictions, great if you were planning on drawing a straight line but not good when gaming.  Check out the full review here, hopefully MadCatz will offer a higher end model with a similar design and better sensor.

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"MadCatz is in the middle of a top-to-bottom refresh of its RAT line of gaming mice. We tried out the entry-level rodent in the litter, the RAT 1, to see whether this $30 mouse offers gamers an affordable path to domination in their favorite titles."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Valve says VR is soon coming to Linux

Subject: General Tech | November 14, 2016 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: linux, mac os. valve, steam, VR, steamvr, OpenVR

Valve's OpenVR based project, which goes by the obvious moniker of SteamVR, has been shown powering an HTC Vive, using Vulcan on an unspecified Linux distro.  This proof of concept is to back up their claims that SteamVR should be available to consumers very soon.  At the moment their are few VR games using either OpenGL or Vulkan so your software choices will be limited.  At the same time, you may also be limited in the headset you can choose as Oculus developers have stated that all Mac OS support projects are currently on hold.  Road to VR has the full presentation from Valve’s Joe Ludwig embedded in their post here.

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"However, Valve will soon move to encourage a diminishing of that monopoly, as it plans to bring SteamVR – the company’s Steam-integrated VR platform – to both Linux and Mac OSX platforms within the next few months."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Road to VR

Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope scales with multi-GPU

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 14, 2016 - 11:22 AM |
Tagged: video, the last hope, serious sam vr, rx 480, radeon, Polaris, multi-gpu, liquidvr, amd, affinity

While VR excitement might have cooled slightly in the enthusiast community, there continues to be innovation and software releases on both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive that are bringing me back to what I think we believe to be part of the future of PC gaming. Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope was announced at E3 this year and is now available as an early access game on Steam. It is a dual wielding shooter that combines the enemies of the previous games along with the crazy weapons that made the series iconic.

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And hey, there is something awesome about using a missile launcher that takes up half the screen.

One interesting technology addition to the game is use of AMD LiquidVR affinity multi-GPU. A Croteam developer recently posted a blog on the GPUOpen.com site talking about the implementation.

We wanted to add LiquidVR Affinity Multi-GPU rendering support to our engine because two GPUs can render the two eye views in almost half the time compared to a single GPU and this would greatly reduce our GPU bottlenecks. Affinity MGPU can either be done in one pass or with a separate pass for each eye, in which case we reap the GPU side benefits while the CPU workload stays the same.

ssvrscreen2.jpg

We needed about a week to modify all shaders and to make sure that correct data is set for each eye. Single pass rendering with Affinity Multi-GPU gave us a huge speed improvement on both CPU and GPU from our original VR implementation. In the end, it took us less time to do single pass rendering correctly than it took us to fix all the problems caused by multi pass multi-GPU rendering.

After the interest in the Deus Ex multi-GPU scaling video I thought I would see if the Serious Sam implementation was actually beneficial to gamers.

  • Test System
  • Core i7-5960X
  • X99 MB + 16GB DDR4
  • AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB
  • Driver: 16.10.2

The test was simple: I found that a single RX 480 could run the game at Medium settings perfectly well, but could it be playable on High with multi-GPU? By adding in a second Radeon RX 480 I was able to bring the performance up by 55% or so, making the VR experience nearly flawless.

ssvr-1.png

ssvr-2.png

It's not perfect scaling, but the benefits of multi-GPU for VR, when properly implemented, are obvious. As more games and experiences are released that require higher compute capability or have in-game settings that allow for better image quality, the ability to scale across GPUs will be a welcome addition to the ecosystem.

Check out the video here if you haven't seen any Serious Sam VR gameplay yet!

Optalysys GENESYS Optical Co-Processor Announced

Subject: General Tech | November 13, 2016 - 06:24 PM |
Tagged: optical computing, HPC

We occasionally discuss photonic computers as news is announced, because we're starting to reach “can count the number of atoms with fingers and toes” sizes of features. For instance, we reported on a chip made by University of Colorado Boulder and UC Berkeley that had both electric and photonic integrated circuits on it.

This announcement from Optalysys is completely different.

The Optalysys GENESYS is a PCIe add-in board that is designed to accelerate certain tasks. For instance, light is fourier transformed when it passes through a lens, and reverse fourier transformed when it is refocused by a second lens. When I was taking fourth-year optics back in 2009, our professor mentioned that scientists used this trick to solve fourier transforms by flashing light through a 2D pattern, passing through a lens, and being projected upon film. This image was measured pixel by pixel, with each intensity corresponding to the 2D fourier transform's value of the original pattern. Fourier transforms are long processes to solve algebraically, especially without modern computers, so this was a huge win; you're solving a 2D grid of values in a single step.

These are the sort of tricks that the Optalysys GENESYS claims to use. They claim that this will speed up matrix multiplications, convolutions (fourier transforms -- see previous paragraph), and pattern recognition (such as for DNA sequencing). Matrix multiplications is a bit surprising to me, because it's not immediately clear how you can abuse light dynamics to calculate this, but someone who has more experience in this field will probably say “Scott, you dummy, we've been doing this since the 1800s” or something.

math-2016-lena-convolution-tom-roelandts.png

Image Credit: Tom Roelandts
The circles of the filter (center) correspond to the frequencies it blocks or permits.
The frequencies correspond to how quick an image changes.
This is often used for noise reduction or edge detection, but it's just a filter in fourier space.
You could place it between two lenses to modify the image in that way.

From a performance standpoint, their “first demonstrator system” operated at 20Hz with 500x500 resolution. However, their video claims they expect to have a “PetaFLOP-equivalent co-processor” by the end of the 2017. For comparison, modern GPUs are just barely in the 10s of TeraFLOPs, but that's about as useful as comparing a CPU core to a digital signal processor (DSP). (I'm not saying this is analogous to a DSP, but performance comparisons are about as useful.)

Optalysys expects to have a 1 PetaFLOP co-processor available by the end of the year.

Source: Optalysys