AMD's new 66AF:F1 GPU, a model number inspired by the USB-IF?

Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2019 - 12:53 PM |
Tagged: navi, amd, leak, AMD 66AF:F1

It's not the leak that many were hoping for, regardless it is still a peek at what Navi may offer when released.  The Inquirer spotted a mysterious AMD 66AF:F1 GPU attached to some Compubench compute results that could be a Navi GPU.  If that is indeed what it is then the new GPU will offer mid-range performance, as opposed to competing against NVIDIA's current family of high end cards.  It is rather telling that the Bitcoin Mining benchmark was not run, as we have seen in recent financial reports that bubble has pretty much burst.

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"In leaked benchmarks on CompuBench, the compute performance of the mysterious GPU suggested that it lags a little behind the Vega 56 and is more on par with the Radeon RX 580."

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Source: The Inquirer

ESA Winter 2019 Raised $30,080 for Save The Children

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2019 - 06:12 PM |
Tagged: esa, speedrun, charity

It’s been a few weeks since the European Speedrunner Assembly (ESA) Winter 2019 marathon ended, although the organizers have, just last Thursday, announced the results in a press release. Combining both streams, the event raised $30,080 USD in the six days that it ran. All of this money went to Save The Children.

Moreover, ESA Winter 2019 was the first event from the group that was sold-out.

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In previous years, ESA had sponsors that did donation matching up to some amount; I distinctly remember something like a 10:1 multiple a couple of years ago. As far as I can tell, that was not the case this time, so that was all contributed by the fans, including the runners and attendees.

Two more events are planned for this year. In April, on the 13th and the 14th, ESA will be at TwitchCon Europe. ESA Summer 2019 will take place from July 19th through July 28th, which is about a month after Summer Games Done Quick 2019 (June 23rd to June 30th).

Source: ESA

Halo: The Master Chief Collection Coming to PC

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2019 - 05:48 PM |
Tagged: steam, pc gaming, microsoft, halo

At today’s Inside Xbox event, Microsoft announced that Halo: The Master Chief Collection is coming to PC on both Steam and the Microsoft Store. Not all games will launch simultaneously; in fact, no pricing or release dates have been announced. The only thing we have is the release order.

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  1. Halo: Reach
  2. Halo: Combat Evolved (Anniversary)
  3. Halo 2 (Anniversary)
  4. Halo 3: ODST – Campaign Only
  5. Halo 3
  6. Halo 4

This fills in everything between Halo 3 and Halo 4, inclusive, and reads so weird now that I have that typed out in front of me, on the PC platform. Also, Halo 1 and Halo 2 are, as far as I know, essentially dead for multiplayer reasons now that GameSpy and Games for Windows Live have been shut down for a dog’s age. It could be a good nostalgia trip to play those games again.

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And, yes, I owned a copy of Halo 2: Vista. I was intending to create mods for it until I noticed that their tools were so unbelievably broken that their own example map was impossible to make, at least on release although I am pretty sure that it was never fixed. (They removed the ability to make individual assets and they forgot to include jump pads. Granted, jump pads were not a super-critical feature, but it was also the perfect illustration of how little they cared about mod support.)

Venting past grievances aside, Halo has a good game flow with its relatively slow movement and shields. I am actually excited for it again. It might even be my go-to game if they allow mods again, which I strongly doubt.

Uh... WoW... World of Warcraft DirectX 12 on Windows 7

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 12, 2019 - 04:53 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, wow, blizzard, microsoft, DirectX 12, dx12

Microsoft has just announced that they ported the DirectX 12 runtime to Windows 7 for World of Warcraft and other, unannounced games. This allows those games to run the new graphics API with its more-efficient framework of queuing work on GPUs, with support from Microsoft. I should note that the benchmarks for DirectX 12 in WoW are hit or miss, so I’m not sure whether it’s better to select DX11 or DX12 for any given PC, but you are free to try.

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This does not port other graphics features, like the updated driver model, which leads to this excerpt from the DirectX blog post:

How are DirectX 12 games different between Windows 10 and Windows 7?
Windows 10 has critical OS improvements which make modern low-level graphics APIs (including DirectX 12) run more efficiently. If you enjoy your favorite games running with DirectX 12 on Windows 7, you should check how those games run even better on Windows 10!

Just make sure you don’t install KB4482887? Trollolololol. Such unfortunate timing.

Of course, Vulkan also exists, and has supported Windows 7 since its creation. Further, both DirectX 12 and Vulkan have forked away from Mantle, which, of course, supported Windows 7. (AMD’s Mantle API pre-dates Windows 10.) The biggest surprise is that Microsoft released such a big API onto Windows 7 even though it is in extended support. I am curious what lead to this exception, such as cyber cafés or other international trends, because I really have no idea.

As for graphics drivers? I am guessing that we will see it pop up in new releases. The latest GeForce release notes claim that DirectX 12 is only available on Windows 10, although undocumented features are not exactly uncommon in the software and hardware industry. Speaking of undocumented features, World of Warcraft 8.1.5 is required for DirectX 12 on Windows 7, although this is not listed anywhere in the release notes on their blog.

Source: Microsoft

Happy Birthday to hypertext

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2019 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: interwebs, series of tubes, happy birthday, Tim Berners-Lee, hypertext, CERN

It was 30 years ago today,

Tim Berners-Lee taught the internet how to play,

It's been going in and out of tubes,

And now it's totally full of rubes ...

What we now call the Internet was originally sketched out in this document released by Tim Berners-Lee where he first formally describes the idea of hypertext.  One year later came the first prototype web browser, which you can actually play with now if you are curious from whence this all came.  To mark the occasion he posted an open letter looking back at what has happened over three decades and what may come in the future.  You can read it in full from the link posted at The Inquirer, but they also quote what might be the most important thing for you to ponder ...

"the biggest three dangers facing web users today - malicious activity, business models that reward clickbait, and unintended consequences such as aggression and angry discourse"

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"The web is for everyone and collectively we hold the power to change it. It won't be easy. But if we dream a little and work a lot, we can get the web we want."

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Source: The Inquirer

G.Skill Announces OC World Cup With $25,000 In Cash Prizes

Subject: General Tech | March 11, 2019 - 11:47 PM |
Tagged: computex, oc world cup, Extreme Overclocking Competition, G.Skill

Memory and computer peripheral maker G.Skill is already announcing Computex news with the reveal that its sponsored extreme overclocking competition -- the OC World Cup -- will take place at the company's booth at Computex 2019 in Taipei, Taiwan. Further, G.Skill is expanding the sixth annual competition to include nine contestants at its live qualifier (up from six in previous years) and upping the total cash prize amount to $25,000 total with $10,000 going to the first place grand prize winning overclocker.

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There are reportedly three rounds to the competition with the first online qualifier taking place between March 13 and April 16 on hwbot.org where participants with a qualifying Intel platform and G.Skill DDR4 memory will compete for benchmark wins when overclocking and tweaking memory timings. The benchmarks used include raw memory speeds, SuperPi 32M, Geekbench 3 Memory Performance Single Core, and 3DMark11. G.Skill will award one random participant a Trident Z Royal DDR4 3600MHz (CL16) memory kit (2x8GB) and the top 9 particpants will progress and be offered a spot to compete at the live qualifier and then the grand final during Computex where the overclockers will be set loose with LN2 and grit to attempt world records and winning scores (last year G.Skill announced the overclockers beat 13 world overclocking records).

Cash prizes for contestants works out to $10,000 for first place, $3,500 for second, $2,500 for third, and $2,000 for fourth place with the prize amount decreasing in two hundred dollar increments down to the ninth place winner getting $1,000.

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The live extreme overclocking competition at last year's Computex. (Image courtesy G.Skill)

I am looking forward to seeing the extreme overclocking action and how far they are able to push the hardware as well as all the other Computex news!

Source: G.Skill

SplitmediaLabs Is Now a Gold Sponsor of OBS Project

Subject: General Tech | March 11, 2019 - 11:33 PM |
Tagged: OBS, xsplit

The makers of XSplit, SplitmediaLabs, has just become a Gold Sponsor of the Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) project, which is an open-source alternative to their XSplit Broadcaster. According to the OBS Open Collective page, this amounts to $20,000 USD, which ties them for first with Games Done Quick.

Note that the third-place organization has contributed $250, so there’s a lot of room for smaller companies to jump in.

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At the same time, Andreas Hoye, COO of SplitmediaLabs, published the blog post “Why XSplit is sponsoring OBS” to answer the obvious question “Why is XSplit sponsoring OBS?” According to his words, there appears to be three main reasons. The first reason is that the developer of OBS did this as a passion project, and multiple companies have swooped in to make for-profit forks. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; companies, such as RedHat, have shown that you can be valuable by establishing a service atop an open-source platform. It’s reasonable for XSplit to see the open-source OBS as their true competitor, and they’re doing it for nothing, so why not show a friendly gesture to someone in your industry who is only there because they want to be?

This leads into the second reason: competition. The post claims to want to keep OBS strong so the open-source project innovates and thus shows XSplit new ways to better their own software. It’s the not-zero-sum way of looking at the world, where you make the entire industry grow rather than eat away at each other’s market share.

As for the third reason? XSplit makes other software than just Broadcaster, and their new VCam webcam background remover is compatible with OBS.

Regardless of the reason, it’s cool when a company supports open-source. XSplit being a competitor of OBS just makes the story better.

Samsung is rolling out eMRAM for the IoT

Subject: General Tech | March 11, 2019 - 01:16 PM |
Tagged: everspin, eMRAM, Samsung, iot, Optane

Embedded magnetic RAM has been around for a bit, usually thanks to the work of Everspin whom have licensed their technology to GLOBALFOUNDRIES, though today Samsung has announced they are developing their own.  It is less expensive to produce than STT-RAM, PC-RAM or memristors yet offers many of the same advantages over flash memory, namely much higher performance and lower electrical requirements.  

Samsung is a ways from production, according to The Register Samsung doesn't expect to tape out a 1Gb eMRAM test chip until later this year.  This would be a big leap forward for the performance of embedded systems, as ARM is working with Samsung to ensure compatibility and we may even see eMRAM onboard ARM chips once Samsung's production lines ramp up.  It will be interesting to see what effect this will have on the market once it arrives; hopefully a larger splash than a certain other type of non-volitile memory!

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"Samsung this week claimed it is mass-producing and commercially shipping embedded magnetic RAM (eMRAM) to replace EEPROM, SRAM, and NAND memories in embedded electronics."

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Source: The Register

PC Perspective Podcast #535 - EVGA RTX 2060 Ultra, USB4, and the Return of Diablo

Subject: General Tech | March 11, 2019 - 08:50 AM |
Tagged: video, usb4, Threadripper, swiftech, RTX 2060, radeon vii, podcast, mx518, MK730, logitech, GOG, evga, eUFS, diablo

PC Perspective Podcast #535 - 3/7/2019

Editor's Note: Our apologies for the delayed release of this week's podcast. We had an increasingly catastrophic storage disaster that required some lengthy data recovery. But we're back up and running and thankfully lost nothing but a bit of time.

With that out of the way, join us for a look at the EVGA RTX 2060 Ultra, the Cooler Master MK730 mechanical gaming keyboard, a pricey CPU water block from Swiftech, the latest USB news, and more!

Subscribe to the PC Perspective Podcast

Check out previous podcast episodes: http://pcper.com/podcast

Show Topics
00:00:06 - Intro
00:07:19 - Review: EVGA RTX 2060 XC Ultra
00:24:01 - Review: Cooler Master MK730 Mechanical Keyboard
00:29:49 - Review: Swiftech Apogee SKF Heirloom Water Block
00:33:12 - News: USB4
00:40:53 - News: Third-Gen Threadripper & Navi Details
00:47:33 - News: RTX Triple-Threat Bundle & 419.35 Drivers
00:51:01 - News: Radeon VII Undervolting
01:01:29 - News: Windows Retpoline Optimizations & Game Breakers
01:06:09 - News: Intel CPU SPOILER Vulnerability
01:14:26 - News: GPU Price Cuts?
01:20:03 - News: Samsung eUFS 3.0 Mobile Storage
01:28:36 - News: HoloLens 2
01:32:54 - Picks of the Week

Picks of the Week
Jim: Syba 10GBase-T NIC
Jeremy: Logitech MX518 Legendary
Josh: MSI Radeon RX Vega 56
Sebastian: Diablo

Today's Podcast Hosts
Sebastian Peak
Josh Walrath
Jeremy Hellstrom
Jim Tanous

Valve Lays Off 13 Full-time Employees and More

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2019 - 05:16 PM |
Tagged: valve, layoffs

UploadVR received a statement from Valve that 13 full-time employees and “a portion of our contractor agreements were terminated”. The statement goes on to say that “It’s an unfortunate part of business, but does not represent any major changes at the company.”

UploadVR (and others of course) then went on to check who the affected people were. Based on their research, they found individuals working on projects related to VR and the Steam Controller claiming that their employment at Valve ended in 2019.

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An old render of the Steam Controller. Image Source: Valve Software.

I have not heard any info about the contractors, such as who they are or what they were doing.

According to a PC Gamer post from 2016, there were approximately 360 employees at Valve at that time. Assuming then is roughly the same as now, which is not really a good assumption but it’s what we need to work with, this would represent about 4% of their workforce… depending on how instrumental the “portion of our contractor agreements” was.

A restructure for larger companies is typically around 10% lay-offs, which 4% is significantly below. Granted, I’m not too worried about Valve’s financial health, but it’s generally good to check as an early sign of financial or structural issues involving the whole company.

Source: UploadVR