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.

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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.

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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.

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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

HTC Announces Wireless Kit from TPCAST for Vive VR

Subject: General Tech | November 10, 2016 - 11:36 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, htc, htc vive

UploadVR is reporting that a wireless upgrade kit was on display at a trade-show by Alibaba in Shenzhen, China. TPCAST, the company that created the accessory for the headset, is a participant in the Vive X program. This startup accelerator provides $50,000 to $200,000, mentorship, and other support to assist development of VR-related technologies. HTC claims that TPCAST's wireless solution will perform equivalently to the default, wired configuration.

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Image Credit: UploadVR

Wireless almost always requires a battery, and HTC claims that two will be available. The default “standard” battery is expected to last about 90 minutes, although they plan a larger battery that fits in the pocket of the individual's clothing. UploadVR doesn't mention anything about price or capacity of this one, although I hope that the wiring from clothes to headset is easily managed.

The upgrade kit will cost about $220, when converted into USD from Chinese Yuan, and begins pre-order on November 11th at 7am PST. The units will ship in early 2017 with current owners of the HTC Vive (authenticated by serial number) getting bumped to the front of the line. I'm guessing this is to gut the scalping market, which is nice, unless they goof and allow unlimited orders for a single serial number.

Source: UploadVR

NVIDIA's Third Quarter Up to $2 Billion USD in Revenue

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 10, 2016 - 08:27 PM |
Tagged: quarterly earnings, nvidia

The most recent quarter for NVIDIA, which is the three months ending on October 30th, has just passed $2 Billion USD in revenue, an increase of 54% from last year. All said and done, this leads to $542 million in GAAP net income, which is also up 108% from last quarter (or up 120% from the same quarter last year).

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NVIDIA doesn't attribute this increase to any specific line of products. Instead, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang takes the opportunity to promote the “years of work and billions of dollars” they spent on the Pascal architecture, applying it all over the place. While I'm guessing a lot of the sales are carried over from last quarter's parts, which are now able to keep up with demand, NVIDIA points to laptop SKUs of 10-series GPUs, the launch of Tesla P4 and P40 GPUs, and initial shipments of the DGX-1 as new and notable for this quarter.

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NVIDIA expects to have an even better quarter with the holiday, aimed at $2.1 Billion USD, plus or minus a couple percent. A lot more details are available on NVIDIA's blog, including their Switch announcement with Nintendo, their Drive PX2 platform, and their next-generation Tegra processor, codenamed Xavier.

Source: NVIDIA

Podcast #424 - AMD Radeon Pro GPUs, Corsair Carbide Air 740 Review, MSI Gaming Notebook Overview, VRMark, and more!

Subject: General Tech | November 10, 2016 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: VRMark, VR, video, Red Alert 2, radeon pro, podcast, nvidia, notebook, NES Classic, nasa, msi, Mate 9, Leica, laptop, Kirin 960, gaming, DeepMind, carbide air 740

PC Perspective Podcast #424 - 11/10/16

Join us this week as we discuss new AMD Radeon Pro GPUs, Corsair Carbide Air 740 Review, MSI Gaming Notebook Overview, VRMark, 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, and Jeremy Hellstrom

Program length: 1:09:34

  1. Week in Review:
  2. Casper!
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Ryan: I am applying for a position in this administration! going to change the direction of technology policy
  5. Closing/outro

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

Small but tough, the ADATA SE730 external SSD

Subject: Storage | November 10, 2016 - 01:36 PM |
Tagged: adata, external ssd, SE730, usb 3.1, type c

At 250GB and 72.7x44x12.2mm (2.8x1.7x0.4") this external SSD from ADATA is small in two ways which is a mixed blessing for mobile storage.  You may feel somewhat cramped, however the device is very portable and inexpensive.  The Type C to Type A USB 3.1 connection provided up to 427MB/s transfer speeds in The SSD Review's ATTO testing, Crystal Disk showing 341MB/s read and 376MB/s write.  While those speeds are not up to the theoretical maximum for USB 3.1 they are still impressive for an external device.  Check out the full review right here.

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"The ADATA SE730 differs from many other SSDs, however, as it contains the characteristics of being waterproof, dustproof and shockproof, in addition to its small size. If you want storage that will overcome the elements, the SE730 just might be what you're looking for. In addition, this external SSD has a great price and can be found at Amazon for $120."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Intel will be absorbing USB and WiFi duties into the chipset

Subject: General Tech | November 10, 2016 - 12:17 PM |
Tagged: wifi, usb 3.1, Intel

Rumours have reached the sensitive ears of DigiTimes about the inclusion of USB 3.1 and WiFi chips on Intel's upcoming 300-series chipsets.  This move continues the pattern of absorbing secondary systems onto single chips; just as we saw with the extinction of the Northbridge after AMD and Intel rolled the graphics and memory controller hubs into their APUs.  This will have an adverse effect on demand from Broadcom, Realtek and ASMedia who previously supplied chips to Intel to control these features.  On the other hand this could lower the price AMD will have to pay for those components when we finally see their new motherboards arrive on market.  Do not expect to see these boards soon though, the prediction for the arrival of the 300-series of motherboards is still around 12 months from now.

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"Intel reportedly is planning to add USB 3.1 and Wi-Fi functions into its motherboard chipsets and the new design may be implemented in its upcoming 300-series scheduled to be released at the end of 2017, according to sources from motherboard makers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Oculus Launches Asynchronous Spacewarp, 45 FPS VR

Subject: Graphics Cards, Systems | November 10, 2016 - 11:44 AM |
Tagged: VR, rift, Oculus, atw, asynchronous timewarp, asynchronous spacewarp, asw

Oculus has announced that as of today, support for Asynchronous Spacewarp is available and active for all users that install the 1.10 runtime. Announced at the Oculus Connect 3 event in October, ASW promises to complement existing Asynchronous Timewarp (ATW) technology to improve the experience of VR for lower performance systems that might otherwise result in stutter.

A quick refresher on Asynchronous Timewarp is probably helpful. ATW was introduced to help alleviate the impact of missed frames on VR headsets and started development back with Oculus DK2 headset. By shifting the image on the VR headset without input from the game engine based on relative head motion that occurred AFTER the last VR pose was sent to the game, timewarp presents a more accurate image to the user. While this technology was first used as a band-aid for slow frame rates, Oculus felt confident enough in its advantages to the Rift that it enables for all frames of all applications, regardless of frame rate.

ATW moves the entire frame as a whole, shifting it only based on relative changes to the user’s head rotation. New Asynchronous Spacewarp attempts to shift objects and motion inside of the scene by generating new frames to insert in between “real” frames from the game engine when the game is running in a 45 FPS state. With a goal of maintaining a smooth, enjoyable and nausea-free experience, Oculus says that ASW “includes character movement, camera movement, Touch controller movement, and the player's own positional movement.”

Source: Oculus

To many of you that are familiar with the idea of timewarp, this might sound like black magic. Oculus presents this example on their website to help understand what is happening.

Source: Oculus

Seeing the hand with the gun in motion, ASW generates a frame that continues the animation of the gun to the left, tricking the user into seeing the continuation of the motion they are going through. When the next actual frame is presented just after, the gun will have likely moved slightly more than that, and then the pattern repeats.

You can notice a couple of things about ASW in this animation example however. If you look just to the right of the gun barrel in the generated frame, there is a stretching of the pixels in an artificial way. The wheel looks like something out of Dr. Strange. However, this is likely an effect that would not be noticeable in real time and should not impact the user experience dramatically. And, as Oculus would tell us, it is better than the alternative of simply missing frames and animation changes.

Some ASW interpolation changes will be easier than others thanks to secondary data available. For example, with the Oculus Touch controller, the runtime will know how much the players hand has moved, and thus how much the object being held has moved, and can better estimate the new object location. Positional movement would also have this advantage. If a developer has properly implemented the different layers of abstraction for Oculus and its runtime, separating out backgrounds from cameras from characters, etc., then the new frames being created are less likely to have significant distortions.

I am interested in how this new feature affects the current library of games on PCs that do in fact drop below that 90 FPS mark. In October, Oculus was on stage telling users that the minimum spec for VR systems was dropping from requiring a GTX 970 graphics card to a GTX 960. This clearly expands the potential install base for the Rift. Will the magic behind ASW live up to its stated potential without an abundance of visual artifacts?

Oculus-Rift-Promo.jpg

In a blog post on the Oculus website, they mention some other specific examples of “imperfect extrapolation.” If your game or application includes rapid brightness changes, object disocclusion trails (an object moving out of the way of another object), repeated patterns, or head-locked elements (that aren’t designated as such in the runtime) could cause distracting artifacts in the animation if not balanced and thought through. Oculus isn’t telling game developers to go back and modify their titles but instead to "be mindful of their appearance."

Oculus does include a couple of recommendations to developers looking to optimize quality for ASW with locked layers, using real-time rather than frame count for animation steps, and easily adjustable image quality settings. It’s worth noting that this new technology is enabled by default as of runtime 1.10 and will start working once a game drops below the 90 FPS line only. If your title stays over 90 FPS, then you get the advantages of Asynchronous Timewarp without the potential issues of Asynchronous Spacewarp.

The impact of ASW will be interesting to see. For as long as Oculus has been around they have trumpeted the need for 90 FPS to ensure a smooth gaming experience free of headaches and nausea. With ASW, that, in theory, drops to 45 FPS, though with the caveats mentioned above. Many believe, as do I, that this new technology was built to help Microsoft partner with Oculus to launch VR on the upcoming Scorpio Xbox console coming next year. Because the power of that new hardware still will lag behind the recommended specification from both Oculus and Valve for VR PCs, something had to give. The result is a new “minimum” specification for Oculus Rift gaming PCs and a level of performance that makes console-based integrations of the Rift possible.

Source: Oculus

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.3

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 9, 2016 - 09:52 PM |
Tagged: graphics drivers, dishonored 2, crimson, amd

Just a handful of days into this busy month for video game companies, and AMD has released their third Radeon Software Crimson Edition drivers for November. 16.11.3, like 16.11.2 and 16.11.1, are not certified by WHQL. From a quality standpoint, Microsoft certification hasn't exactly made a difference over the last year or so. In fact, both graphics vendors rapidly releasing hotfixes between regular WHQL milestones seems to have a better user experience. Unfortunately, this does mean that users of clean installed Windows 10 1607 with Secure Boot enabled will be missing out. Correction: The drivers are actually signed by Microsoft with the attestation process.

amd-2015-crimson-logo.png

As for the driver itself, 16.11.3 rolls in AMD's optimizations for Dishonored 2. The game goes live in two days, so this should give users an opportunity to find a good time to install and reboot before launch. It also fixes an issue where Valve's Steam client and EA's Origin client would fail when an external GPU, using AMD's X-Connect Technology standard, is detached.

Source: AMD

FarCry 3: Blood Dragon Free from Ubisoft Club

Subject: General Tech | November 9, 2016 - 07:05 PM |
Tagged: ubisoft, pc gaming, free games, free

Ubisoft has been giving away a game for free to all who claim it, once per month. If you do, then it is yours forever. If not, then you missed it. The most recent entry is FarCry 3: Blood Dragon, which is a standalone spin-off of the Einstein-quoting island shooter that parodies 80s action content. These games will be delivered by their UPlay digital distribution platform, and you require an Ubisoft account to claim it, but that's your choice to make for free content.

ubisoft-2016-30-logo-free.jpg

We're almost at the end of Ubisoft's 30th anniversary promotion, with just a single title left. I'm not sure what it is, but I'm guessing it has some significance to the company and, like the announcement of a sequel to Beyond Good and Evil, could be accompanied by larger news.

Any guesses?

Source: Ubisoft