E3 12: Unreal Engine 4 -- What you (and we) missed at GDC.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | June 8, 2012 - 06:09 PM |
Tagged: video, unreal engine 4, E3 12, E3

Epic has released as much of their GDC demo as they are able to in an effort to end E3 2012 with a bang. They have included a second video to walk through the engine for developers to enjoy. We will explain to the masses why it is awesome.

Before we go any further -- the video you have been waiting months to see.

Be prepared for a particle-filled generation.

As was the case with Intel’s sand-to-CPU video -- the demo is pleasing but the supplementary info is the prize.

Epic released a 10 minute developer walkthrough to highlight the most important features of Unreal Engine 4. You can see it below and read on to see what that all means.

Yes, Unrealscript did not make it to Unreal Engine 4.

The first major feature of the engine is real-time dynamic global illumination and glossy specular reflection. Traditional video game graphics only considers the first bounce of light from a source -- if that bounce does not reach the player camera then it does not exist. Global illumination allows objects to be lit not just by light sources but also by light bouncing from neighboring objects.

It has been very popular to calculate how light interacts with objects ahead of time for the last generation as well as a portion of the generation prior to that. With those methods you are able to soften the shadows cast by light and make the scene feel much more naturally lit. The problem arises when anything in the scene moves or changes as obviously happens in a video game.

Unreal Engine 4 has the ability to calculate Global Illumination in real time. Dynamic lights such as muzzle flashes or flames are able to not just illuminate the area around them but also induce that area around it to light each other.

Also, static sources such as moonlight shining in the window against the floor can bounce from the floor and slightly lighten the walls with a bluish tint without being calculated ahead of time. Developers can try lighting effects without waiting for sometimes hours to see the results. This also means that what would have been once a pre-computed lit scene with nothing moving can now be destroyed and still remain properly lit. And now the moon can even move if the designer wants.

UE4-1-1.jpg

Specular material on the gold statue

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Diffuse material on the gold statue, notice how the floor lighting from the statue desaturates and changes.

In this scene we see how light can reflect against a statue and influence the objects around it. A specular material has a much smoother and more mirror-like surface than a diffuse material which tends to scatter light in all directions. If you were to shine a laser against a mirror the beam would bounce and you would not see it unless you were in the reflected path whereas if you shine the laser against the wall you would see a dot regardless of how you look at it. This is because the wall, like a projector screen, is like trillions of microscopic mirrors all pointed in different directions which each take a tiny fraction of the light and sends it in a different direction.

In Unreal Engine 4, this effect means that a shiny surface will not only glare if you look at it but also light the objects around it differently than a diffuse surface. You can see that effect against the floor.

Read on after the break to continue with the discussion of Unreal Engine 4 features.

Deals for June 8th - OCZ Vertex 3 240GB SSD for $194

Subject: General Tech | June 8, 2012 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: vertex 3, ssd, ocz, deal of the day

Today's deal is one that might interest a lot of PC Perspective readers - an OCZ Vertex 3 SSD for about $0.80/GB!  

deal0608.jpg

If you are one of the 95% of PC Perspective readers interested in upgrading your storage system or you have another computer sitting around that could use the benefits of an SSD inside, this is a great opportunity to get one at a nice price.

You can check out our review of the OCZ Vertex 3 SSD right here, if you need a bit of a refresher.  

Head on over to LogicBuy to get this OCZ Vertex 3 240GB SSD for $194!!

Source: LogicBuy

Rosewill's Cherrys, Antec's case and MSI's take on a tablet hybrid

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 8, 2012 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: computex, computex 2012, msi, slider s20

We've seen a few hybrid tablet/notebooks, from the familiar ASUS Transformer to Acer's Iconia but MSI has one that really stands out.  As you can see from the pictures that The Tech Report snapped, MSI's Slider S20 has a retractable keyboard instead of a detachable one which will likely add to the weight but could be more convenient than a keyboard dock especially as it also acts as a stand.

Antex is working on their P280 series, with a microATX version and a full sized version with an integral housing for a radiator on the top for those who want a tidy watercooling solution.  If you more into CherryMX switches then it is the Rosewill pictures that will interest you as they showed off a few new models at their booth.

TR_MSIhalf.jpg

"For our third Computex digest, we have news about an MSI Windows 8 tablet with a slide-out keyboard, a new version of Antec's famous P280 enclosure, and upcoming Rosewill mechanical keyboard with configurable backlighting."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source:

AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2012 - What to expect

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Shows and Expos | June 7, 2012 - 06:49 PM |
Tagged: hsa, fusion, amd, AFDS

One of the best show experiences I had last year was a surprise to me - AMD's first annual Fusion Developer Summit (AFDS) was hosted in the Seattle / Bellevue area.  I say that it was a surprise only because the inaugural year for vendor-specific shows like this tend to be pretty bland and lack interesting information, but that wasn't the case in 2011.  We saw ARM get on stage with AMD to talk about the idea of "dark silicon" and how to prevent it, we saw the first AMD Trinity notebook and even got details of the Tahiti GPU architecture well ahead of release.  

We expect even better things in 2012.

afds.jpg

While I don't know exactly what surprises will be on display this year I am looking forward to seeing the improvement from software developers after having another 12 months to work on APU-accelerated applications.  HSA (heterogeneous system architecture) has been getting a lot of buzz from AMD and the industry as we push towards a combined memory address space and the ultimate acceleration of programs across both serialized and parallel processors on the same die.

If you are in the Seattle / Bellevue area and you have the ability to attend AFDS, I would highly encourage you to do so.  You'll have access to:

  • Keynotes
  • Never before seen demos
  • Technical tracks and sessions to learn about HSA and programming for it

If you can't make it though, you should definitely follow the whole event right here at PC Perspective - the easiest way is to keep track of our AFDS tag to make sure you don't miss any of the potentially industry shifting news! 

You can also expect us to have a live blog from the event as well!

Podcast #205 - News from Computex 2012! - Ultrabooks, Trinity Motherboards, New products from Corsair, and much more!

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2012 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: trinity, ROG, PSU, podcast, nvidia, LAMD, Intel, corsair, computex, asus, amd, a85, 680M

PC Perspective Podcast #205 - 06/07/2012

Join us this week as we talk about all of the news from Computex 2012! - Ultrabooks, Trinity Motherboards, New products from Corsair, and much 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: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malvantano

Program length: 1:31:35

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:25 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:03:15 MSI Radeon HD 7950 Review
  6. 0:10:00 ASUS Sabertooth X79 Review
  7. 0:11:10 DV Nation RAMRod system review
  8. 0:18:25 Samsung Series 5 Chromebook review
  9. 0:19:10 Intel Ultrabook Ivy Bridge reference review
  10. 0:21:00 AD BREAK
  11. 0:21:47 AMD loses monthly Catalyst updates
  12. 0:25:20 Ultrabooks
    1. Gigabyte has some
    2. Acer Aspire S7
    3. Acer Iconia Tablets
    4. ASUS TAICHI dual-screen
    5. ASUS Transformer Book
    6. ASUS 800 / 610 Windows 8 tablets
  13. 0:36:00 MAINGEAR 11-in gaming machine
  14. 0:37:00 Sandisk PCIe SSD competitor
  15. 0:42:00 Trinity / A85 Motherboards
    1. From ECS
    2. From ASRock
    3. Lots from MSI
  16. 0:45:30 ASUS says THEY have the overclocking record
  17. 0:46:30 Macbook coming with ultra high-res display?
  18. 0:51:00 Gigabyte X79S motherboard
  19. 0:53:00 LSI shows SF-2000 driving smaller flash
  20. 0:59:30 Corsair has...
    1. A new PSU
    2. A new dominator module
    3. A new SSD with a new controller
  21. 1:05:30 NVIDIA wants discrete GPUs in Ultrabooks
  22. 1:07:30 NVIDIA shows GeForce GTX 680M GPU
    1. Alienware gets it
  23. 1:11:00 ASUS MARS III dual GTX 680 card
  24. 1:13:00 3DMark for Windows 8 Screenshots
  25. 1:15:00 AMD releases Brazos 2.0
  26. 1:16:45 New ASUS ROG Gear
  27. 1:21:00 ASUS shows off beastly concept motherboards
  28. 1:24:10 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: ASUS USB-N53 with bendy straw
    2. Jeremy: ah, going with the Norse God
    3. Josh: Great basic case for business AND pleasure
    4. Allyn: Samsung 830 Series 256GB for $199 at TigerDirect
  29. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  30. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  31. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  32. Closing

 

Day 2 of Computex

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 7, 2012 - 03:06 PM |
Tagged: computex, computex 2012

The Tech Report had a chance to see Lucid's latest new product to enhance the ability of your computers graphics, it is called XLR8 Dynamix software and it seems almost designed to emulate what Ryan saw in his Rage testing.  Instead of lower quality textures being an issue, in this case Lucid is attempting to dynamically reduce the quality of background textures to allow for higher frame rates on lower powered GPUs. 

From AMD they saw the first Brazos 2 chips, which you can read about here.  They caught snaps of Gigabyte's GA-X79S-UP5 server board with a combination of 14 SATA and SAS ports for a huge amount of storage and picked up a bit of news about the fastest mobile chip on the planet.

TR_dynamix.jpg

"Here comes our second helping of Computex coverage. We've got the skinny on Nvidia's Kepler-based mobile GPU flagship, AMD's 2012 E-series APU platform, a decked-out Sandy Bridge-E motherboard from Gigabyte, and Lucid's latest GPU virtualization mojo, which boosts fluidity on Intel IGPs by dynamically tweaking texture detail."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Computex: MSI Showing Off Five G-series Gaming Notebooks

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 7, 2012 - 09:36 AM |
Tagged: video, trinity, msi, mobile, laptops, Ivy Bridge, Intel, gaming notebook, gaming, computex, amd

MSI has been busy at this year’s Computex trade show. In addition to the company’s graphics cards and motherboard displays, MSI is showing off four new G Series gaming notebooks. Three of them are running Intel Ivy Bridge processors while the fourth machine is powered by a top-end AMD Trinity APU. Included in the new G series is the GT70, GT60, GE70, GE60, and GX60. The only AMD system is the GX60. Let’s take a look at that one first.

MSI GX60

The GX60 has a similar exterior build as the other G Series notebooks, but has vastly different internals and does not appear to have the same audio technology as the Intel-based notebooks. The desktop replacement class (read: heavy and not so great battery life heh) laptop features an AMD A10-4600M APU, AMD A70M chipset, and AMD Radeon 7970M graphics card. Other features include MSI’s “SuperRAID” storage with up to two SSDs in RAID and a mechanical hard drive, Steelseries keyboard, and a Killer E2200 gaming network card. Another interesting feature is the system’s ability to output to up to three displays with AMD Eyefinity technology. The system was able to pull a respectable 30 frames per second on the Unigine Heave benchmark and will have an MSRP of around 1,000 British Pounds (~$1,557.70 USD). According to eTeknix, the AMD Trinity-based notebook will be available soon.

The Intel Ivy Bridge based systems get a bit more love than the AMD Trinity system with SuperRAID support, up to 32GB of RAM, MSI Audio Boost (powered by Dynaudio or THX TruStudiio Pro depending on model), gold-plated audio connectors, Turbo Drive Engine and NVIDIA discrete graphics. The Intel and AMD G series laptops all get 1080p displays and custom backlit keyboards built by SteelSeries. The AMD system may well have MSI Audio Boost, gold plated connectors, and the like but MSI did not seem to tout them on the GX60 like they did for the Intel ones. The GX60 does at least get the SteelSeries keyboard and SuperRAID tech. Anyway, onto the Intel gaming rigs.

MSI GT70 and GT60

The MSI GT 70 is the largest and fastest gaming notebook at the MSI booth with a 17” 1080p display, quad core Core i7 processor, SuperRAID storage, THX certified Dynaudio sound, Turbo Drive Engine, Killer E2200 NIC, and a NVIDIA GTX 680M mobile GPU with GDDR5 RAM. The GT70 utilizes MSI’s SuperRAID to the fullest with two SSDs and a mechanical hard drive for up to 700MB/s read speeds. The system further features a backlit keyboard from SteelSeries that has five LED pattern modes (Normal, Gaming, Wave, Breathing, and Dual Color) and various selectable colors to choose from. The GT70 was pulling about 45 frames-per-second on the Unigine Heaven benchmark and P20,000 on 3DMark Vantage. Consumers should expect it to be available for around 2,500 British Pounds (~$3,894.25 USD).

MSI_GT70_Gaming Notebook.jpg

The MSI GT70 gaming notebook

The GT60 is a smaller version of the GT70 with 15.6” chassis, slightly slower Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor at 2.9GHz, and only a GTX 670M graphics card. It features the same MSI technology as its bigger brother, the GT70, but may not have the exact SuperRAID setup. Otherwise it has Dynaudio, 1080p display, the backlit SteelSeries keyboard, and lots of other goodies. No price info on this one to report, unfortunately.

MSI GE70 and GE60

The two MSI GE branded gaming laptops are the budget versions of the GT70 and GT60. They feature slower IVY Bridge processors, a downgrade in the Intel chipset to H76M, and a GPU downgrade to a NVIDIA GT650M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The displays are still 1080p, but they do not have Dynaudio (only THX TruStudio Pro), and the SteelSeries keyboards are not backlit. Of the two, the GE70 has a slightly faster Intel processor. They do both feature Turbo Drive Engine technology and likely SuperRAID though the setups are likely limited versus the bigger GT70’s chassis. Again, no word on how much these will cost or when they will be shipping.

All the notebooks have a nice black finish to them and the SteelSeries keyboard looks pretty nice. I’m interested in the AMD GX60 myself as I find Trinity neat. The Intel-based systems are definitely power houses though, especially the GT70 and although I don’t expect battery life to be anywhere near great these would be a good choice for gamers that demand the portability of a laptop platform.

Update: the press release does clarify that the GT70 and GE70 have 17.3” 1080p screens while the GT60 and GE60 have 15.6” 1080p screens. It also lists USB 3.0 compatibility on the Intel-based notebooks along with a built-in 720p 30fps webcam for video conferencing.

Below you can find a video by eTeknix that goes into more detail on the MSI gaming notebooks. You can further find the official MSI press release here.

Source: MSI

ASUS Republic of Gamers Gear Pictured

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 6, 2012 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: motherboard, laptop, headsets, gaming, ASUS ROG, asus

Today we received a number of photos from ASUS that show off some upcoming hardware from their upcoming Republic of Gamers line. Except for the Xonar Phoebus (which has launched), the hardware in these photos is not yet released and ASUS has not revealed when it will be available for sale – or how much it will cost. Still, I can’t think of a better way to start the day than getting a glimpse of some shiny unreleased hardware – especially when I get to share it with you!

Motherboards

First up is a new Replublic of Gamers motherboard called the Maximus V Extreme. This board is similar to the mATX Maximus V GENE board that was announced recently, but the Extreme motherboard is full ATX.

While full specifications are unknown, from the photo you can see that the board has an LGA 1155 socket, making it compatible with the latest Intel Ivy Bridge processors. Further, it is sporting four DDR3 DIMM slots, five PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, and one PCI-E 3.0 x4 slots. Other features of the board include ASUS’ Extreme Engine Digi+ II digital power control technology, power and reset buttons on the board itself, voltage check points, Lucid Virtu MVP GPU virtualization technology, and AMD CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI support. The VRM area and southbridge area of the board is covered by large black and red heatsinks.

ROG_Maximus_V_Extreme_Motherboard_with_OCKey.png

Rear IO includes five USB 2.0 ports (one to be used with ROG Connect), two USB 3.0 ports, an Intel-powered Gigabit LAN, HDMI, DisplayPort, optical audio output, PS/2 port, five analog audio outputs and a TOSLink connector. Additionally, the board features CMOS clear and reset buttons, a mini-PCIe + mSATA combo card, and a Republic of Gamers OC Key accessory. The OC Key plugs into the DVI port of the graphics card and provides an on-screen-display for overclocking information and voltage tweaking.

In addition to the ASUS Maximus V Extreme, the company is producing the Maximus V Forumula motherboard, which is then further available with or without the ThunderFX audio accessory. The Formula board is another socket 1155 board with a red and black color scheme that is ready for Ivy Bridge processors and multi-GPU setups (SLI or CrossFireX). The heatsinks on the formula are a little less beefy than those on the Maximus V Extreme, but the VRM heatsinks are ready to be integrated into a water cooling loop. Further features include four DDR3 DIMM slots, eight SATA connectors, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots, and a single PCI-E 3.0 x4 slot.

 

ROG_Maximus_V_Formula_Motherboard.png

The board also features the SupremeFX integrated sound card (which has been isolated from the rest of the board by routing the wiring through its own PCB layer) and a mini-PCI-E + mSATA combo card. One version of the motherboard also comes with the SupremeFX accessory which you can see in the photo below.

ROG_Maximus_V_Formula_with_ThunderFX.png

Rear IO of the Maximus V Formula motherboard includes four USB 2.0 ports (one for ROG connect), four USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, DisplayPort, HDMI, Intel-powered Gigabit LAN, five analog audio jacks, two optical audio outputs, and CMOS clear and reset buttons.

The Maximus Extreme V Formula comes with a device called the ThunderFX that is a high end headphone amp and DAC offering 120dB SNR, and noise cancellation technology.  The included GamEQ comes with three preset profiles but also offers you a wide range of options to tweak your sound to your own desires.  There is also onboard audio in the form of the SupremeFX IV audio chipset which will keep those who prefer speakers more than happy with their audio quality. 

You can also see that the large anodized aluminium heatsinks have barbs for you to include them in a watercooling loop so that all components on your motherboard can be cooled without resorting to fans to move air.  GameFirst II is the name ASUS has given their networking software and it is designed to examine an prioritize packets to reduce lag and ping times.  It comes with both an EZ Mode as well as offering advanced options for those who know what they are doing.  As we have seen on other boards, the Maximus Extreme V Formula comes with a mPCIe Combo card with dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.  This board is also shattering records in Super PI 32M, 3DMark05 and Heaven to name a few. 

Check out more from ASUS from Computex including ROG graphics cards, audio devices and laptops!!

Source: ASUS

Max Payne 3 at Max resolution

Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2012 - 03:20 PM |
Tagged: max payne 3, crossfire, sli, gtx680, HD 7970, gaming

For the tests they ran, [H]ard|OCP used the latest Catalyst beta, 12.6 and ForceWare 301.42 WHQL as both drivers proved able to provide proper multi-GPU performance on Max Payne 3.  In AMD's case it provided improvements to single card gaming as well.  The games graphics options provide a nice tool which displays how much VRAM your configuration will require so that you can get an idea if your card will be able to handle the settings before you even play the game.  SLI did scale better than Crossfire but even still, both multi GPU rigs could handle the max settings at 2560x1600 and when used singly could still sit around the 60fps mark.  Check out the full review here.

H_eadshot.png

"HardOCP is on top of Max Payne 3 to find out what graphics options it supports and how a GTX 680 and a Radeon HD 7970 perform. We also wanted to know if SLI and CrossFireX worked, and how performance scales. In this preview of performance and image quality we take a look at all of this in the first chapter of this game."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

A tour through the booths at Computex 2012

Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2012 - 01:08 PM |
Tagged: computex, computex 2012, nvidia, corsair, asrock

The Tech Report have been every bit as busy as Ryan, trying to get in as much of Computex as possible and post the sights to the web.  They dropped by Broadcom's booth to see new ARM based SoCs which will be used in the next generation of 802.11ac routers, taking wireless beyond gigabit speeds, with USB 3.0 added on for easy media distribution. They snapped a few pictures of the ASRock motherboards we saw earlier this week, including the dual Thunderbolt Z77 Extreme which features a DisplayPort in port to allow you to use a Thunderbolt display without needing Lucid's Virtu to translate.  They also saw Corsair's surprise new SSD controller from Link_A_Media Devices (LAMD), which will provide SATA 6Gbps and can use either ONFI or Toggle DDR NAND.  NVIDIA was showing off the new GT 640 which will use a 28nm Kepler chip sport 384 shader ALUs and cost under $100 and should bring a bit more power to low end machines, though don't expect a huge jump from the previous GTS450

gt-640-inline.jpg

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk