Expect to hear news from AMD's VR boffins

Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2016 - 12:18 PM |
Tagged: amd, liquidvr, Radeon Pro WX 7100, loom

AMD's Polaris cards have been lagging behind NVIDIA's Pascal in VR performance, not completely surprising considering the deltas in price and 3D performance.  From DigiTimes we hear of some successes however; AMD is opening VR facilities in shopping malls, movie theatres and Internet cafes, currently focusing on China.  On might consider the price as being a major factor, AMD offers good enough performance for most at a price lower than the competition.  They are also focusing on the development side of the equation, discussing their Radeon Pro WX 7100 a solution for a number of providers.  Their Loom project should also see light towards the end of the year, bringing HD content and beyond to VR movie designers.  It will be interesting to see how AMD does against the competition on the design side of the market as opposed to consumer machines.

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"AMD has launched several new projects for its virtual reality (VR) business including GPU certification. It has enhanced its software/hardware platform and established a VR supply chain, hoping to expand its presence in the VR market, and to regain share in the graphics card market with its new Polaris GPUs."

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Source: DigiTimes

Power efficient memristors could be showing up in your smart toaster

Subject: General Tech | October 18, 2016 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: memristor, iot

Over at Nanotechweb you can read about research being conducted on memristor technology to reduce the power required to write to a cell to make this memory type more useful in low voltage applications, such as IoT devices.  Apart from the challenges of creating materials capable of remembering how much current has flowed through them in the past there is what the researchers refer to as the sneak path problem.  When writing to a memristor, current flows to the cell that is being updated, unfortunately it also flows into a number of other cells thus increasing the current required for each write cycle.  This team hopes to overcome this issue, so far having successfully reduced the current required to 8% of that in conventional crossbar circuits.  Check out more on the research in the full article.

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"Researchers at Hewlett Packard Labs in California, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Seoul National University are reporting on a new low-current, self-rectifying memristor made from titanium ion electron traps in a niobium oxide matrix. The device might be used as an embedded memory on low-power chips and for storing data in Internet of Things (IoT) appliances."

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Source: Nanotechweb

NVIDIA GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti Launch on October 25th

Subject: General Tech | October 18, 2016 - 09:01 AM |
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, GTX 1050 Ti, gtx 1050

NVIDIA has just announced that the GeForce GTX 1050 ($109) and GeForce GTX 1050 Ti ($139) will launch on October 25th. Both of these Pascal-based cards target the 75W thermal point, which allows them to be powered by a PCIe bus without being tethered directly to the power supply. Like the GTX 750 Ti before it, this allows users to drop it into many existing desktops, upgrading it with discrete graphics.

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Most of NVIDIA's press deck focuses on the standard GTX 1050. This $109 SKU contains 2GB of GDDR5 memory and 640 CUDA cores, although the core frequency has not been announced at the time of writing. Instead, NVIDIA has provided a handful of benchmarks, comparing the GTX 1050 to the earlier GTX 650 and the Intel Core i5-4760k integrated graphics.

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It should be noted that, to hit their >60FPS targets, Gears of War 4 and Grand Theft Auto V needed to be run at medium settings, and Overwatch was set to high. (DOTA2 and World of Warcraft were maxed out, though.) As you might expect, NVIDIA reminded the press about GeForce Experience's game optimization setting just a few slides later. The implication seems to be that, while it cannot max out these games at 1080p, NVIDIA will at least make it easy for users to experience its best-case scenario, while maintaining 60FPS.

So yes, while it's easy to claim 60 FPS is you're able to choose the settings that fit this role, it's a much better experience than the alternative parts they list. On the GTX 650, none of these titles are able to hit an average of 30 FPS, and integrated graphics cannot even hit 15 FPS. This card seems to be intended for users that are interested in playing eSports titles maxed out at 1080p60, while enjoying newer blockbusters, albeit at reduced settings, but have an old, non-gaming machine they can salvage.

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Near the end of their slide deck, they also mention that the GTX 1050 Ti exists. It's basically the same use case as above, with its 75W TDP and all, but with $30 more performance. The VRAM doubles from 2GB to 4GB, which should allow higher texture resolutions and more mods, albeit still targeting 1080p. It also adds another 128 CUDA cores, a 20% increase, although, again, that is somewhat meaningless until we find out what the card is clocked at.

Update: Turns out we did find clock speeds! The GTX 1050 will have a base clock of 1354 MHz and a Boost clock of 1455 MHz while the GTX 1050 Ti will run at 1290/1392 MHz respectively.

NVIDIA's promotional video

Obviously, numbers from a vendor are one thing, and a third-party benchmark is something else entirely (especially when the vendor benchmarks do not compare their product to the latest generation of their competitor). Keep an eye out for reviews.

Source: NVIDIA

Google tests its Power and takes a shot at Intel

Subject: General Tech | October 17, 2016 - 12:48 PM |
Tagged: google, Intel, power9, zaius

Not too long ago Google revealed it had updated the code that runs behind its popular web based services to make it more hardware agnostic.  With a trivial tweak to the code their software can switch between running on Intel x86, IBM Power or 64-bit ARM cores.  On Friday Google Cloud's technical program manager, John Zipfel, provided more information on the OpenCAPI compliant Zaius P9 server that is in development and revealed it will use an IBM Power 9 chip.  As it will be OpenCAPI, it will use interconnects such as NVIDIA's NVLink or AMD's as yet unnamed fabric interconnect but will not leverage Intel's.  The Register has a bit more information on Google's plans and the Zaius here.

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"Google has gently increased pressure on Intel – its main source for data-center processors – by saying it is "looking forward" to using chips from IBM and other semiconductor rivals."

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Source: The Register

Rumor: Newegg Acquired by Liaison Interactive

Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2016 - 10:40 PM |
Tagged: newegg, liaison interactive

About a month ago, Newegg announced that Hangzhao Liaison Interactive Information Technology Co., Ltd. has agreed to make a “significant investment” in their company. That is not a rumor; it was officially acknowledged by Newegg. Their press release doesn't really elaborate on the specifics of the deal, though, except to note that Liaison Interactive is interested in Newegg because of their position in the VR and AR market. Got to love the PC gaming ecosystem.

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Well, this month, the rumors are claiming that Newegg was outright acquired by Liaison Interactive. The United Daily News is reporting that the deal was 17.7 billion yuan (which Google mis-translated to 1.77 billion yuan for me) for 55.7% of the online retailer. It's unclear how the other 44.3% is split up, but Newegg is said to become a subsidiary as a result of this transaction.

The UDN story also expands upon the “why” question that was loosely touched upon last month. I can't tell, especially with Google Translate stripping a lot of context, how much of this is speculation, but the report suggests that Liaison Interactive is interested in Newegg as an extension of its supply chain. That is, more easily get their products to end-users world-wide.

Interesting. We'll hopefully get a new press release soon.

Strap a peltier to your DSLR so you can lengthen your exposure

Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2016 - 12:45 PM |
Tagged: DSLR, peltier

Peltier coolers have proven too inefficient to cool modern CPUs and have been relegated back to car seats and other traditional usages, until now.  A company called PrimaLuce will send you a Nikon D5500 with a peltier cooler strapped to the back which will cool your camera during long exposures which reduces image noise.  It will also prevent the camera from getting obnoxiously warm, a common complaint around the PCPer office.  This particular camera is intended for capturing the night sky, the inclusion of a anti-dewing system is very welcome.  Pop on over to Ars Technica to take a look.

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"For €2,190 (£2,000/$2,400), the Italian company PrimaLuce will sell you a Nikon D5500 DSLR with a dual-Peltier cooler strapped to the back, called the Nikon D5500a Cooled. In addition to the cooler, the modified camera also switches out the standard low-pass filter in front of the sensor for something that is specially tuned to be more sensitive to astronomical wavelengths of light (specifically H-alpha deep red)."

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Source: Ars Technica

Stepping Up the Simulation Game

I don’t exactly remember when I first heard about Fanatec, but it likely was sometime after the release of DiRT 2.  I was somewhat into racing games before that, but that particular title sold me on the genre and I have not looked back since.  Before then I used a Microsoft Sidewinder FFB stick for my racing, but it was D2 that convinced me to purchase a wheel for the full fledged experience.  The initial impression of Fanatec was of course “high priced, but really nice gear”.  These were products that I did not think I would ever see in any personal capacity as they were out of my price range and my driving passion was just not amped up enough to rationalize it.

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My dog is quite suspicious of the amount of boxes the set came in.

I know I probably talk about it too much, but the introduction of DiRT Rally really supercharged my interest in driving accessories due to the work they did on physics and Force Feedback effects.  My older Thrustmaster Ferrari F430 wheel featured a meager 270 degrees of rotation and clunky FFB that did not translate well with this particular title.  It may have done OK with older, more arcade based racers, but with the latest generation of sims that focus on accuracy in experience it just did not cut it.  Purchasing a Thrustmaster TX based unit was a night and day experience for these latest titles.

The next few months after that I spent time with multiple other wheels and accessories and provided a few reviews based on them.  My level of interest grew exponentially about what the industry offered.  I was able to contact Fanatec and they agreed to put together a bundle of products based on their latest ClubSport V2 products.  This would include the ClubSport V2 Base,  ClubSport Universal Hub for Xbox One, ClubSport Pedals V3, ClubSport Shifter SQ, and the desk mounting hardware for the units.

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Fanatec is not for the faint of heart when it comes to pricing.  The total package I received is worth 1800 Euro, or about $2016 US.  This is a pretty tremendous amount of money for racing gear, but it is about average for higher end products that exist in this market.  People will question why it costs so much, but after my experience with it I now know why.

Click here to read the rest of the Fanatec Review!

Think you can handle the Wang? NVIDIA is giving away $50,000 worth of Shadow Warrior 2 codes

Subject: General Tech | October 13, 2016 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: shadow warrior 2, nvidia, geforce, geforce experience 3.0, giveaway

Shadow Warrior 2 is out today, bringing Lo brow humour and procedural gore back to PC gaming.  For those of you who have created a user at GeForce.com, you have a chance to win a copy of the game for free, all you need to do is install GeForce Experience 3.0 on your machine and you are entered to win.  If you haven't the desire you can pick the game up on GOG or Steam, but you will have to pay for it.  This new incarnation adds four player co-op to the game and the levels are described as procedural, theoretically places you have previously visited will not be the same if you head back.  More info on the contest in the PR below

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Shadow Warrior 2 launched today, and GeForce gamers using GeForce Experience may be getting it free. We will be giving away $50,000 worth of codes for the over the top first person shooter Shadow Warrior 2 to random gamers registered with GeForce Experience 3.0. This marks the second game code giveaway this month and more are coming soon. Just download and log in to the new GeForce Experience 3.0 to be eligible. Shadow Warrior 2 is highly anticipated first person shooter that is focused on fun. But not to be missed behind the numerous weapon choices, over-the-top gore, and edgy sense of humor is an indie release that is loaded with next generation technology thanks in part to a collaboration between NVIDIA and Flying Wild Hog, the game’s independent Polish developer.

The developer of Shadow Warrior 2, Flying Wild Hog, along with Devolver sister company Gambitious, were a part of the NVIDIA Indie Spotlight Program launch with their game Hard Reset: Redux. So naturally working with them on Shadow Warrior 2 to expand the indie game partnership between Devolver and NVIDIA seemed like the natural next step.

PC Gamers count on GeForce Experience to get the most from their games. It keeps drivers up to date. It automatically optimizes game settings for more than 300 games. And it’s the easiest way to capture gameplay video, stream it to Twitch or YouTube, or share it with another player over the Internet using the easy-to-use in-game overlay tool.

And now it rewards you for playing on GeForce. Dating back to July, NVIDIA has thanked their loyal GeForce Experience gamers by giving away: MSI VR-Ready Notebooks, HTC Vive Systems, GeForce GTX 1080s, SHIELD Android TVs, alpha access codes to the game LawBreakers and $200,000 worth of codes for Dead by Daylight.

More than 75 million gamers can’t be wrong--GeForce Experience is the gateway to great PC gaming.

Source: NVIDIA

Microwave your RAM to make it faster?

Subject: General Tech | October 13, 2016 - 03:19 PM |
Tagged: terahertz, research, memory

You have probably recently heard of terahertz radiation used to scan physical objects, be it the T-Rays at airports or the the researchers at MIT who are reading books through the covers.  There is more recent of news on researchers utilizing the spectrum between frequencies of 0.3THz and 3THz, this time pertaining to RAM cycles and the possibility of increasing the speed at which RAM can flip between a 0 and 1.  In theory a terahertz electric field could flip bits 1000 times faster than the electromagnetic process currently used in flash memory. This could also be used in the new prototype RAM technology we have seen, such as MRAM, PRAM or STT-RAM.  This is still a long way off but a rather interesting read, especially if you can follow the links from The Inquirer to the Nature submission.

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"Using the prototypical antiferromagnet thulium orthoferrite (TmFeO3), we demonstrate that resonant terahertz pumping of electronic orbital transitions modifies the magnetic anisotropy for ordered Fe3+ spins and triggers large-amplitude coherent spin oscillations," the researchers helpfully explained."

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Source: The Inquirer

It's time for another Fragging Frogs VLAN! Saturday Oct 29 @ 10:00 AM ET - Virtual LAN party #14

Subject: General Tech | October 12, 2016 - 07:10 PM |
Tagged: VLAN party, gaming, fragging frogs

It's time to load up your Flak Cannon, squirrel away a Redeemer, tune up your Rocket car and feed your pet dinosaur because the Fragging Frogs are hosting their 14th VLAN party on the last Saturday of this month.  There will be games, there will be prize giveaways and there will be fun!  If you have attended a VLAN in the past you know the drill but if you have yet to take part in one of these events with the best group of gamers around then you can follow these steps to ensure you have a spot.

  • You must be a registered member at the PCPer forums (register here)
  • You must post to this thread stating your intention to attend the VLAN event
  • You must meet the eligibility requirements (if any) of the individual sponsors below
  • Your shipping address must be in the Continental United States or Canada (for prizes)
  • Lastly, you must join Teamspeak and participate in the VLAN event by playing games with us and having fun !!

You will need to supply your own snacks and beverages so make sure to stock up as the party kicks off at 10AM Eastern and doesn't stop until the last Frog drops, which is often sometime on Sunday.  The games we play are up to you, post suggestions in the thread if you don't see your favourites already listed, if we can find interested bodies we are happy to play anything. 

Prizes are not yet announced but you can expect some great hardware, software and possibly even some interesting collectibles.  Keep your eyes on the thread for more announcements and make sure to thank Lenny for all the effort he puts into organizing these events. 

Join up and have some fun on Saturday, you might just find yourself becoming a regular participant in the Fragging Frogs weekly gaming sessions too!

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