Subject: General Tech | March 2, 2017 - 12:16 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: youtube red, youtube, live tv, cord cutting, cloud dvr, broadcast tv
YouTube is jumping into the streaming TV market with the launch of YouTube TV. The new "over the top" streaming service is aimed at cord cutters and users that want to watch live and recorded TV on their mobile devices. YouTube TV joins AT&T's DirecTV Now, Dish Network's Sling TV, and PlayStation Vue with a streaming package of ~40 channels for $35 per month that is reportedly the result of licensing negotiations and deals two years in the making.
The streaming platform, which is reportedly coming in the next weeks to months (depending on the market and local market licensing), will come out swinging with two main advantages over the existing competition: YouTube TV will allow more simultaneous streams (six accounts with up to 3 streams going at the same time) and have DVR functionality with unlimited storage and unlimited simultaneous recordings where episodes will be saved for 9 months.
Unfortunately, YouTube TV suffers the same main drawback of these over the top TV streaming services which is channel selection. Due to licensing issues, YouTube TV will have a collection of 40 channels at launch including access to ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, E!, CW, FX, USA, Freeform, FS1, Disney Channel, and more. However, it lacks the cable-only networks like AMC and Viacom (also no MTV, CNN, TNT, TBS, Comedy Central, HGTV, or Food Network). Showtime is available for an extra monthly fee though.
The sports channels are nice to see and are sure to be appreciated, but due to Verizon's exclusivity deal NFL games are restricted to PCs and can not be streamed on mobile devices using YouTube TV.
For those interested, CNET has a full list of the channels here. YouTube TV will reportedly also allow access to YouTube Red programming, but the TV programming will still have ads (of course).
Excepting the NFL streams, users can watch live and recorded TV on their PCs, smartphones, tablets, and Chromecasts. Google Home support is currently in development as well and will eventually allow you to tune into a channel on your Chromecast using your voice.
I am a excited to see another major player enter this IP TV streaming space, and with a working DVR it will have a leg up over the competition (here's looking at you, DirecTV Now). With Google backing the venture I am hopeful that it can flex its considerable capital muscle to work out further deals with the stubborn cable networks and eventually (maybe) we will see a truly a la carte TV streaming service!
What are your thoughts on YouTube TV? Is it enough to get you to cut the cord, or are you too into The Walking Dead?
Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2017 - 08:12 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: VR, pc gaming, openxr, Khronos
While the Vulkan update headlines the Khronos Group’s presence at GDC 2017, they also re-announced their VR initiative, now called OpenXR. This specification wraps around the individual SDKs, outlining functionality that is to be exposed to the application and the devices. If a device implements the device layer, then it will immediately support everything that uses the standard, and vice-versa.
OpenVR was donated by Valve, leading to OpenXR...
... because an X is really just a reflected V, right?
Like OpenGL and Vulkan, individual vendors will still be allowed to implement their own functionality, which I’m hoping will be mostly exposed through extensions. The goal is to ensure that users can, at a minimum, enjoy the base experience of any title on any device.
They are aiming for 2018, but interested parties should contribute now to influence the initial release.
Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2017 - 03:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Tegra X1, Nintendo Switch, Joy-Con, gaming
The Nintendo Switch has arrived for those who feel that mobile gaming is lacking in analog joysticks and buttons. The product sits in an interesting place, the 720p screen is nowhere near the resolution of modern phones though those phones lack a dock which triggers an overclocked mode to send 1080p to a TV. The programming team behind Nintendo also has far more resources than most mobile app developers and they can incorporate some tricks which a phone simply will not be able to replicate. Ars Technica took the Switch, its two Joy-Cons and the limited number of released games on a tour to see just how well Nintendo did on their new portable gaming system. There are some improvements that could be made but the Joy-Cons do sound more interesting than the Gameboy Advanced.
"With the Switch, Nintendo seems to be betting that the continued drum beat of Moore's Law and miniaturization has made that dichotomy moot. The Switch is an attempt to drag the portable gaming market kicking and screaming to a point where it's literally indistinguishable from the experience you'd get playing on a 1080p HDTV."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- XC’mon: Xenonauts 2 releasing free dev builds @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Galactic Civilizations III v2.0 Review @ OCC
- Stellaris’ New Horizons mod is the best Star Trek game @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Wot I Think – Torment: Tides of Numenera @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- ARMA Humble Bundle
- Total Warhammer DLC ended with Bretonnia as devs switch to sequel @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Radeon vs. NVIDIA Performance For HITMAN On Linux With 17 GPUs @ Phoronix
Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2017 - 01:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tesla motors, battery
Hack a Day posted a video of a teardown of the battery that powers the Tesla Model S, for those curious about how it is set up. This is not recommended for you to try at home, not only are there a huge number of bolts and Torx screws, it seems that each has a specific torque amount which must be adhered to. Inside are 16 battery packs, each of which contain 444 cells with a total of 24V, for a sum of 5.3 kWh. Do not test the charge on these batteries with your tongue! Click on through to watch the video.
"Tesla famously build their battery packs from standard 18650 lithium-ion cells, but it’s safe to say that the pack in the Model S has little in common with your laptop battery. Fortunately for those of a curious nature, [Jehu Garcia] has posted a video showing the folks at EV West tearing down a Model S pack from a scrap car, so we can follow them through its construction."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Security slip-ups in 1Password and other password managers 'extremely worrying' @ The Register
- Windows 7 market share rises at the expense of Windows 10 @ The Inquirer
- Amazon's AWS S3 cloud storage evaporates: Top websites, Docker stung @ The Register
- HTC to launch mobile VR devices for year-end holiday season @ DigiTimes
- Google Pulls the Plug On Its Pixel Laptops @ Slashdot
- The 15 New AMD Ryzen 7 CPU Coolers Revealed @ TechARP
- Nvidia unveils the GTX 1080 Ti at GDC @ The Tech Report
Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2017 - 05:46 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: amd, Vega, radeon rx vega, radeon, gdc 2017, capsaicin, rtg, HBCC, FP16
Today at the AMD Capsaicin & Cream event at GDC 2017, Senior VP of the Radeon Technologies Group, Raja Koduri officially revealed the branding that AMD will use for their next generation GPU products.
While we usually see final product branding deviate from their architectural code names (e.g. Polaris becoming the Radeon RX 460, 470 and 480), AMD this time has decided to embrace the code name for the retail naming scheme for upcoming graphics cards featuring the new GPU – Radeon RX Vega.
However, we didn't just get a name for Vega-based GPUs. Raja also went into some further detail and showed some examples of technologies found in Vega.
First off is the High-Bandwidth Cache Controller found in Vega products. We covered this technology during our Vega architecture preview last month at CES, but today we finally saw a demo of this technology in action.
Essentially, the High-Bandwidth Cache Controller (HBCC) allows Vega GPUs to address all available memory in the system (including things like NVMe SSDs, system DRAM and network storage.) AMD claims that by using the already fast memory you have available on your PC to augment onboard GPU memory (such as HBM2) they will be able to offer less expensive graphics cards that ultimately offer access to much more memory than current graphics cards.
The demo that they showed on stage featured Deus Ex: Mankind Divided running on a system with a Vega GPU running with 2GB of VRAM, and Ryzen CPU. By turning HBCC on, they were able to show a 50% increase in average FPS, and a 100% increase in minimum FPS.
While we probably won't actually see a Vega product with such a small VRAM implementation, it was impressive to see how HBCC was able to dramatically improve the playability of a 2GB GPU on a game that has no special optimizations to take advantage of the High-Bandwidth Cache.
The other impressive demo running on Vega at the Capsaicin & Cream event centered around what AMD is calling Rapid Pack Math.
Rapid Pack Math is an implementation of something we have been hearing and theorizing a lot about lately, the use of FP16 shaders for some graphic effects in games. By using half-precision FP16 shaders instead of the current standard FP32 shaders, developers are able to get more performance out of the same GPU cores. In specific, Rapid Pack Math allows developers to run half-precision FP16 shaders at exactly 2X the speed of traditional standard-precision FP32 shaders.
While the lower precision of FP16 shaders won't be appropriate for all GPU effects, AMD was showing a comparison of their TressFX hair rendering technology running on both standard and half-precision shaders. As you might expect, AMD was able to render twice the amount of hair strands per second, making for a much more fluid experience.
Just like we saw with the lead up to the Polaris GPU launch, AMD seems to be releasing a steady stream of information on Vega. Now that we have the official branding for Vega, we eagerly await getting our hands on these new High-end GPUs from AMD.
Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2017 - 03:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, oops, Lawsuit
If you purchased anything from the Microsoft store between November 2013 and February 24 of this year and live in the USA you could be eligible for up to $100 in cash damages. It seems that the credit card information they provided on receipts contained more than half of your credit card numbers which is in violation of a law implemented in 2003 which states that no more than five numbers can be shown on receipts. Now that the judgment against Microsoft is in, the proposed settlement for Microsoft to set aside $1,194,696US for customers who were affected by this issue. The settlement needs to be approved by the judge so you cannot claim your money immediately, keep an eye out for more new. The Register have posted links to the original lawsuit as well as the judgment right here.
"On Friday, the Redmond giant agreed to give up roughly seven minutes of its quarterly revenue to a gaggle of Microsoft Store customers who claimed that their receipts displayed more of their payment card numbers than legally allowed."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- CloudPets IoT Toys Leaked and Ransomed, Exposing Kids' Voice Messages @ Slashdot
- iPhones are now more failure-prone than Android devices @ The Inquirer
- Softbank gros fromage: ARM will knock out a trillion IoT chips by 2040 @ The Register
- Raspberry Pi Zero W adds WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 support @ The Inquirer
- Splitsville: Toshiba prepares to lose its memory @ The Register
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 27, 2017 - 03:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: MWC, GDC, VRMark, Servermark, OptoFidelity, cyan room, benchmark
Futuremark are showing off new benchmarks at GDC and MWC, the two conferences which are both happening this week. We will have quite a bit of coverage this week as we try to keep up with simultaneous news releases and presentations.
First up is a new benchmark in their recently released DX12 VRMark suite, the new Cyan Room which sits between the existing two in the suite. The Orange Room is to test if your system is capable of providing you with an acceptable VR experience or if your system falls somewhat short of the minimum requirements while the Blue Room is to show off what a system that exceeds the recommended specs can manage. The Cyan room will be for those who know that their system can handle most VR, and need to test their systems settings. If you don't have the test suite Humble Bundle has a great deal on this suite and several other tools, if you act quickly.
Next up is a new suite to test Google Daydream, Google Cardboard, and Samsung Gear VR performance and ability. There is more than just performance to test when you are using your phone to view VR content, such as avoiding setting your eyeholes on fire. The tests will help you determine just how long your device can run VR content before overheating becomes an issue and interferes with performance, as well as helping you determine your battery life.
VR Latency testing is the next in the list of announcements and is very important when it comes to VR as high or unstable latency is the reason some users need to add a bucket to their list of VR essentials. Futuremark have partnered with OptoFidelity to produce VR Multimeter HMD hardware based testing. This allows you, and hopefully soon PCPer as well, to test motion-to-photon latency, display persistence, and frame jitter as well as audio to video synchronization and motion-to-audio-latency all of which could lead to a bad time.
Last up is the brand new Servermark to test the performance you can expect out of virtual servers, media servers and other common tasks. The VDI test lets you determine if a virtual machine has been provisioned at a level commensurate to the assigned task, so you can adjust it as required. The Media Transcode portion lets you determine the maximum number of concurrent streams as well as the maximum quality of those streams which your server can handle, very nice for those hosting media for an audience.
Expect to hear more as we see the new benchmarks in action.
Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2017 - 12:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: M2, Arduino Due, macchina, Kickstarter, open source, DIY
There is a Kickstarter out there for all you car enthusiasts and owners, the Arduino Duo based Macchina M2 which allows you to diagnose and change how your car functions. They originally developed the device during a personal project to modify a Ford Contour into an electric car, which required serious reprogramming of sensors and other hardware in the car. They realized that their prototype could be enhanced to allow users to connect into the hardware of their own cars to monitor performance, diagnose issues or even modify the performance. Slashdot has the links and their trademarked reasonable discourse for those interested, if you have the hardware already you can get the M2 interface $45, $79 or more for the hardware and accessories.
"Challenging "the closed, unpublished nature of modern-day car computers," their M2 device ships with protocols and libraries "to work with any car that isn't older than Google." With catchy slogans like "root your ride" and "the future is open," they're hoping to build a car-hacking developer community, and they're already touting the involvement of Craig Smith, the author of the Car Hacker's Handbook from No Starch Press."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Trying The SteamVR Beta On Linux Feels More Like An Early Alpha @ Phoronix
- Windows 10 Creators Update will let users block installation of Win32 apps @ The Inquirer
- Nokia 3310 (2017) hands-on @ The Inquirer
- Windows File History - An Inexpensive Insurance Policy @ Hardware Secrets
- Mysterious Gmail account lockouts prompt hack fears @ The Register
- Calyos may also produce stand-alone loop heat pipe coolers @ Kitguru
- The final 5G technical performance specs have been set @ The Register
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | February 27, 2017 - 11:12 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: x50, Sub-6 Ghz, qualcomm, OFDM, NR, New Radio, MWC, multi-mode, modem, mmWave, LTE, 5G, 3GPP
Qualcomm has announced their first successful 5G New Radio (NR) connection using their prototype sub-6 GHz prototype system. This announcement was followed by today's news of Qualcomm's collaboration with Ericsson and Vodafone to trial 5G NR in the second half of 2017, as we approach the realization of 5G. New Radio is expected to become the standard for 5G going forward as 3GPP moves to finalize standards with release 15.
"5G NR will make the best use of a wide range of spectrum bands, and utilizing spectrum bands below 6 GHz is critical for achieving ubiquitous coverage and capacity to address the large number of envisioned 5G use cases. Qualcomm Technologies’ sub-6 GHz 5G NR prototype, which was announced and first showcased in June 2016, consists of both base stations and user equipment (UE) and serves as a testbed for verifying 5G NR capabilities in bands below 6 GHz."
The Qualcomm Sub-6 GHz 5G NR prototype (Image credit: Qualcomm)
Qualcomm first showed their sub-6 Ghz prototype this past summer, and it will be on display this week at MWC. The company states that the system is designed to demonstrate how 5G NR "can be utilized to efficiently achieve multi-gigabit-per-second data rates at significantly lower latency than today’s 4G LTE networks". New Radio, or NR, is a complex topic as it related to a new OFDM-based wireless standard. OFDM refers to "a digital multi-carrier modulation method" in which "a large number of closely spaced orthogonal sub-carrier signals are used to carry data on several parallel data streams or channels". With 3GPP adopting this standard going forward the "NR" name could stick, just as "LTE" (Long Term Evolution) caught on to describe the 4G wireless standard.
Along with this 5G NR news comes the annoucement of the expansion of its X50 modem family, first announced in October, "to include 5G New Radio (NR) multi-mode chipset solutions compliant with the 3GPP-based 5G NR global system", according to Qualcomm. This 'multi-mode' solution provides full 4G/5G compatibility with "2G/3G/4G/5G functionality in a single chip", with the first commercial devices expected in 2019.
"The new members of the Snapdragon X50 5G modem family are designed to support multi-mode 2G/3G/4G/5G functionality in a single chip, providing simultaneous connectivity across both 4G and 5G networks for robust mobility performance. The single chip solution also supports integrated Gigabit LTE capability, which has been pioneered by Qualcomm Technologies, and is an essential pillar for the 5G mobile experience as the high-speed coverage layer that co-exists and interworks with nascent 5G networks. This set of advanced multimode capabilities is designed to provide seamless Gigabit connectivity – a key requirement for next generation, premium smartphones and mobile computing devices."
Full press releases after the break.
Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2017 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: zenimax, Oculus
As far as I know, it’s fairly common to seek injunctions during legal fights over intellectual rights cases, so I’m not sure how surprising this should be. Still, after the $500 million USD judgment against Oculus, ZeniMax has indeed filed for a court order to, according to UploadVR, block the usage of Oculus PC software, Oculus Mobile software, and the plug-ins for Unity and Unreal Engine. They also demand, as usual, that Oculus deletes all copies of the infringing code and a few other stipulations.
I should stress that this is just a filing. It would need to be accepted for it to have any weight.
The timing is quite disruptive to Oculus, too, even if by total co-incidence. Epic Games is about to release their flagship, Oculus-exclusive title, Robo Recall, which was intended to be released for free to those who have Oculus Touch controllers. If it succeeds, and that’s way more if than when at this point, then that could sting for whoever gets stuck with the game’s invoice, which (I assume) would be Oculus.
Personally, I’m not quite sure how far this will go. Based on my memory of the jury decision, ZeniMax is entitled to $500 million USD for prior damages, and nothing for ongoing damages. You would think that, if a jury ruled that the infringement has no lasting effect, that an injunction wouldn’t recover any of that non-existent value. On the other hand, I’m not a judge (or anyone else of legal relevance) so what I reason doesn’t really matter outside the confines of this website.
We’ll need to wait and see if this goes anywhere.