Unreal Engine Samaritan Demo Running On Single NVIDIA Kepler GPU

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2012 - 12:38 AM |
Tagged: unreal, udk, samaritan, nvidia, fxaa

Last year we saw Unreal unviel their Samaritan demo which showed off next generation gaming graphics using three NVIDIA 580 GTX graphics cards in SLI.  Epic games showed off realistic hair and cloth physics along with improved lighting, shadows, anti-aliasing, and more bokeh effects than gamers could shake a controller at with their Samaritan demo, and I have to say it was pretty impressive stuff a year ago, and it still is today. What makes this round special is that hardware has advanced such that the Samaritan level graphics can be achieved in real time with a single graphics card, a big leap from last year's required three SLI'd NVIDIA GTX 580s!

The Samaritan demo was shown at this years' GDC 2012 (Games Developers Conference) to be running on a single NVIDIA "Kepler" graphics card in real time, which is pretty exciting. Epic did not state any further details on the upcoming NVIDIA graphics card; however, the knowledge that the single GPU was able to pull off what it took three Fermi cards to do certainly holds promise.

According to GeForce; however, it was not merely the NVIDIA Kepler GPU that made the Samaritan demo on a single GPU possible. The article states that it was the inclusion of NVIDIA's method for anti-aliasing known as FXAA, or Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing that enabled it. Unlike the popular MSAA option employed by (many of) today's games, FXAA uses much less memory, enabling single graphics cards to avoid being bogged down by memory thrashing. They further state that the reason MSAA is not ideal for the Samaritan demo is because the demo uses deferred shading to provide the "complex, realistic lighting effects that would be otherwise impossible using forward rendering," a method employed by many game engines. The downside to the arguably better lighting in the Samaritan demo is that it requires four times as much memory. This is because the GPU RAM needs to hold four samples per pixel, and the workload is magnified four times in areas of the game where there are multiple intersecting pieces of geometry.

MSAAvsFXAA.png

FXAA vs MSAA

They go on to state that without AA turned on, the lighting in the Samaritan demo uses approximately 120 MB of GPU RAM, and with 4x MSAA turned on it uses about 500 MB. That's 500 MB of memory dedicated just to lighting when it could be used to hold more of the level and physics, for example and would require a GPU to swap more data that it should have to (using FXAA). They state that FXAA on the other hand, is a shader based AA method that does not require additional memory, making it "much more performance friendly for deferred renderers such as Samaritan."

Without anti-aliasing, the game world would look much more jagged and not realistic. AA seeks to smooth out the jagged edges, and FXAA enabled Epic to run their Samaritan demo on a single next generation NVIDIA graphics card. Pretty impressive if you ask me, and I'm excited to see game developers roll some of the Samaritan graphical effects into their games. Knowing that Epic Game's engine can be run on a single graphics card implies that this future is all that much closer. More information is available here, and if you have not already seen it the Samaritan demo is shown in the video below.

Source: GeForce

The SSD market gets passed a TRIM command

Subject: General Tech, Storage | March 7, 2012 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: western digital, ssd, hitachi, flash, EMC

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, which was the result of the merger of Hitachi and IBM's HDD businesses, is likely being purchased by Western Digital tomorrow for about $4.3 billion.  This makes sense as WD has been using Hitachi GST as a sales partner when providing  EMC with high end flash disks.  This deal comes on the heels of a major sell, the SSD400S flash disk which uses Intel's 34nm SLC NAND and the SSD400S-B which utilizes the new 25nm NAND developed by Intel.  Check out the specifications of the flash drives as well as the new SSD company over at The Register.

intel-nand.jpg

"WD is buying Hitachi GST and the acquisition is expected to be formally announced tomorrow with a condition of two years of independence for Hitachi GST - imposed by a Chinese anti-competition regulator. EMC has certified Hitachi GST's SSD400S flash disks for use in its VNX mid-range unified storage arrays, including the all-flash VNX5500-F, so WD will effectively fulfil this deal once the acquisition is announced."

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Source: The Register

Peter Pan presents a stylish mouse at CeBIT; Thermaltake's Level 10 M

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2012 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: thermaltake, Level 10 M, gaming mouse

Continuing the design collaboration between Thermaltake and BMW that brought us the incredible Level 10 enclosure, a new gaming mouse was announced at CeBIT, the Level 10 M mouse

ttesports_L10one.png

Thermaltake General Manager Peter Pan had the following to say,
"At Thermaltake Group we have always been proud of being a pioneer in design, performance and innovation, we are very excited to launch the Level 10 M Gaming Mouse which is our latest collaboration with DesignworksUSA since the legendary Level 10 Chassis."

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The specifications above don't even begin to cover the actual features available on this fully adjustable mouse, with almost every dimension of this mouse can be adjusted for the perfect fit to your hand.

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Anyone that already owns a keyboard with LED lighting on it will be delighted to see the way that multicoloured LEDs shine through the grating visible on the top of the mouse and that is not all that grating can do.  Take a look below for reassurance that no matter how long you are gaming or working for, your hand is not going to break out in a sweat.

TTE_wind.png

Show off your style at work, LAN parties or just to match the theme of the machine you have at home; this BMW inspired mouse will definitely get you some attention.

Source: Thermaltake

PC Gaming Alliance Announces Record PC Game Sales in 2011

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2012 - 01:30 AM |
Tagged: sales, record, pcga, PC, gaming

In two surprising bits of news, the PC gaming alliance is not only still alive and kicking, but their recent report indicates that the PC games industry saw record sales numbers in 2011. The consortium reported that worldwide PC game sales hit $18.6 billion last year, a year over year increased of 15%. The initial numbers definitely seem to suggest that PC gaming is nowhere near dead.

The PCGA states that the rise in sales is due to increases in the Chinese PC games market and the rise in popularity of Free-to-Play games like TF2, Star Trek: Online, League of Legends, and World of Warcraft (which has a free component), and many others. The integration of some of the most popular Free to Play games into Valve's Steam store certainly didn't hurt either!

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Further, the release of several big hit titles including Battlefield 3, Skyrim, Saints Row: The Third, and Portal 2, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution (my pick for PC Per Game of the Year) all contributed to the record sales numbers on the PC. According to the article, Asian publisher Tencent launched League of Legends and is now bringing in 11 million players (though it's likely that not all of those players are active and/or spend money on the service) and will be surpassing Activision as the company making the most money off of PC games.  Zynga, the company behind many of the annoying time sinks popular Facebook games, continued to rake in a boatload of money with 2011 revenue of $1.1 billion.

Not only did the PC gaming alliance report these positive numbers for 2011, but they predict that the PC games industry will continue to grow.  As digital distribution systems catch on and broadband connections continue to improve and spread into new areas (though Verizon and AT&T aren't helping matters by stopping further roll outs of FIOS and Uverse), the PCGA predicts that the industry will grow to $25.5 billion, which would be a 37% rise in four years.  If the growth rate continues in Asian markets and publishers continue to back down from DRM in favor of producing more titles that people want to buy, their predicted growth is certainly achievable.  More information on the PCGA report can be found here along with the full press release here(PDF).

Source: IGN

Meet the Z77 motherboard family

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2012 - 03:16 PM |
Tagged: Z77, mini-itx, maximus v gene, maximus v formula, asus, Sabertooth, p8z77-V deluxe, p8z77 work station

Ryan wasn't the only one to get a preview of the new Intel Express Z77 motherboards, other models have been spotted on the web.  [H]ard|OCP had the same preview of the mATX Maximus V GENE, the SABERTOOTH Z77, mITX P8Z77-I Deluxe, ROG Maximus V Formula and the P8Z77-V Deluxe and a WorkStation version of the Deluxe as well. All are LGA1155 boards with built in video out to take advantage of the next generation of Intel's onboard HD graphics and all but the Gene feature Lucid's Hydra technology.  These are the first examples of this chipset and the boards are something to behold.

H_peek.jpg

"If you find new motherboards to be worthy of eye candy, then we have a treat for you as ASUS pulled back the curtains on its Z77 model motherboards last week here in Dallas, TX. While there is a whole lot we can't tell you about the next generation Intel processors to occupy the LGA1155 socket, we can run down a very new software feature set."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

GDC 12: Valve & Razer renew their motion partnership vows

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 6, 2012 - 03:41 AM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Box, GDC, GDC 12

Valve and Razer formally agree to support Razer Hydra motion controller in Valve’s four most popular titles and two upcoming ones.

A little over two years ago, Valve and Razer announced a partnership for their Sixense high-precision motion controllers. During CES 2010, attendees were able to experiment with a prototype motion controller from Sixense to control Left 4 Dead 2. Sixense TrueMotion controllers were later released by Razer last June as the Razer Hydra.

Now you're thinking with controllers.

This Game Developers Conference (GDC) fast forwards us to almost a year after the launch of the Razer Hydra. The price for the controller has dropped $40 to $99.99 at some point between then and now. Valve has also announced that support would be extended from Portal 2 and Left 4 Dead 2 to include Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2 and upcoming Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

The fishiest part of this whole announcement involves the Steam Box rumor from a few days ago. Valve appears to be very focused on the best portions of console gaming for the PC all of a sudden. I could easily see motion controls be used to support The Steam Box or whatever it might be called -- especially if it were used for more than just gaming and by more than just gamers.

So what do you all think?

Source: WebProNews

All New MSI R7800 Twin Frozr Series Runs up to 15˚C Cooler and 9dB Quieter

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2012 - 05:23 PM |
Tagged: msi, hd 7850, hd 7870, Twin Frozr

(Industry, CA) Leading international mainboard and graphics card maker MSI today officially announced the launch of R7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC and R7850 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC, two new graphics cards equipped with AMD's latest 28nm HD 7800 GPU. The R7800 series features the exclusive Twin Frozr III cooling design that is equipped with MSI's Propeller Blade technology - patented in several countries – for 20% more cooling than conventional fans. Combined with MSI's SuperPipe technology and large cooling fins, the R7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC core temperature is 15°C lower than reference boards and fan noise is reduced by 9dB* in full load. The R7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC supports GPU voltage adjustment technology to boost overclocking potential by up to 20%** when used with MSI's exclusive Afterburner overclocking utility. Gamers can now unleash the full potential of their graphics card for gaming and multimedia applications.

MSI_pitcairn.jpg

Advanced Twin Frozr III Design Runs 15˚C Cooler and 9dB Quieter than Reference Boards
The MSI R7870/R7850 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC features the Twin Frozr III cooling module that has won popular acclaim from media around the world. The proprietary Propeller Blade technology has been patented in multiple countries and features special airflow channels on the edge of the fan blades to increase airflow by 20% compared to conventional designs and reduce noise as well! Under full load, the GPU core of the R7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC graphics card is 15˚C lower than the reference design and operating noise is reduced by 9dB to less than 30dB. This combination of outright performance and ultra-quiet operation is proof that MSI products can provide gaming enthusiasts with the coolest and quietest user experience!

MSI's Exclusive Afterburner Core Voltage Adjustment Technology
The R7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC graphics card supports GPU core voltage adjustment technology that can be used with the popular Afterburner overclocking utility to boost overclocking potential by 20%. The ability to push the graphics card to its limits reinforces MSI's excellence in software and hardware customization, making MSI the first choice of overclocking enthusiasts. In addition to overclocking, Afterburner also supports advanced fan speed control, custom overclocking settings, Predator audio/video capture and Kombustor burn-in testing. Most exciting of all is that gamers can download the Afterburner APP for Android or iOS operating systems to perform overclocking, remote monitoring and fan speed control in real-time from their handheld devices.

PCI Express Gen 3 Graphics Card with 28nm GPU
The MSI R7800 family is equipped with AMD's latest 28nm GPU that offers greater performance and processing power than the previous generation, while reducing power consumption. The MSI R7800 series graphics cards support thePCI Express Gen 3 standard, which when combined with a compatible CPU and mainboard, double bandwidth to a staggering 32GB/s for delivering the ultimate in gaming performance.

Supports Next Generation AV Ports and AMD Eyefinity Multi-Display Technology
MSI R7800 graphics cards provide DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4a outputs that support 3D video, 7.1 channel lossless TrueHD video and DTS-HD audio, as well as supporting AMD's proprietary Eyefinity multiple display technology. The support for next-generation audio-video standards makes the MSI R7800 family the best choice for professionals and gamers.

Source: MSI

Intel, PCAudioLabs and PC Perspective Rok Box System Sweepstakes!!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | March 5, 2012 - 03:32 PM |
Tagged: pcaudiolabs, pcal, Intel, giveaway, contest

UPDATE: Contest is closed!  We'll announce a winner in the next couple of days!! Thanks to all who entered and to our sponsors for allowing us the chance to give away this kick-ass system!

UPDATE 2: Congratulations to user Cameron Berry as they are the winner of the PCAudioLabs sweepstakes sponsored by PC Perspective and Intel!!  Thanks to everyone that participated and be sure to stay tuned for more contests right here on pcper.com!

Our fans and readers have supported PC Perspective since its formation in 2004 and even before that back in the days of amdmb.com and athlonmb.com, and because of that support, we have been able to provide you with reviews and information on a continuous basis that we feel are the best in the industry.  And when we get the chance to give back to you, we jump at the chance and that is just what happened a couple weeks ago when our long time friends at Intel introduced us to the folks at PCAudioLabs for a sweepstakes of impressive proportions.

For the next two weeks we are giving our readers the chance to win a complete PCAudioLabs computer based on the Intel X79 platform and Sandy Bridge-E!!  If you aren't familiar with PCAudioLabs, here is a rundown of their mission from their website:

PCAudioLabs was formed early in 2000 by Thomas Bolton and Fred Rosenbloom. At the time, they were both working at Steinberg North America in the technical department and they noticed a great need for more educational tools for music production. With a video camera and a desire to inform, they started making in depth tutorial guides to some of the biggest software products in music production. The company was a huge success but it quickly became apparent that even if people knew how to use their software, it wouldn’t be of much help if the computer they were trying to use it on didn’t do its job.

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PCAudioLabs built their first custom DAW for world renowned Engineer/Producer Mark Howard and within months they were the hottest system builders in the country. Besides the enormous list of pro users that have chosen PCAudioLabs, AMD, Intel and Microsoft have all turned to PCAudioLabs whenever they have audio needs.

In 2007, PCAudioLabs tripled in size, moving into a new location and increasing staff to meet demand. By NAMM 2008, PCAudioLabs was not only the supplier of PC’s for music software giants Steinberg and Cakewalk, but also hardware manufacturers such as Roland, Yamaha and Euphonix.

Although our task is technical, we know our staff needs to be able to relate to you and your situation. That’s why not only are the people who will build your system experts in computing, they are also musicians. In fact, any person you e-mail or speak to at PCAudioLabs makes music, so you’ll never have to worry about asking a musical question and getting a technical response – we speak your language.

pcal1.jpg

Inside this brand-new generation of Rok Box you'll find an Intel Core i7-3820 Sandy Bridge-E processor along with a great Intel DX79TO motherboard.  Kingston has supplied 16GB of DDR3 memory to keep your audio creation rolling even with a ton of applications loaded up.  Storage is powered by a 240GB Intel 510 SSD as well as dual 1TB spinning drives for recording and sampling simultaneously.  ASUS has provided the GTX 560 Ti CUII TOP graphics card and the entire system is powered by an 850 watt Antec High Current Pro power supply.  In total, the system from PCAudioLabs will retail for right around $3,000!!

That isn't all though as PCAudioLabs has included full versions of software required for audio production including Cakewalk Sonar X1 Essential, Native Instruments Komplete Element's, IK Multimedia's Amplitube FREE and much more.  The software alone is valued at more than $600 bringing the total value here to over $3,600!  See the PCAudioLabs website for more details.

I am sure you are interested in the system itself so we have created a short video to go over the hardware as well as the software included in this bundle - check it out!

Without a doubt you are wondering what you have to do to win this system.  The steps are simple:

  1. Visit the PCAudioLabs Facebook page at http://facebook.com/pcaudiolabs, "Like" it and leave a comment on the wall if you want as well, thanking them for supporting PC Perspective and the audio creation community.  They are supporting PC Perspective by giving us this system and allowing US to support YOU with the giveaway, so get over here and support THEM!
     
  2. Leave a comment on this PC Perspective post below (registration is not required, though recommended) telling us and the PCAL crew what you plan to do with this system, how you'll utilize its power in your audio creation projects, etc.  What will the Rok Box improve or make easier for you?
     
  3. And if you want to follow us for more PC hardware news and upcoming contests you can do so at several locations.  http://twitter.com/pcper  http://facebook.com/pcper and http://gplus.to/pcper

That's it!  Our sweepstakes will run between today at end at 12:01am EST on March the 6th.  If you don't have your entry in by then, you are out of luck.  We will pick a random winner from the comments and ship the system out that week in March.  You are responsible for any taxes / tariffs but we'll cover the shipping to anywhere in the world. 

A HUGE thanks goes out to our friends at PCAudioLabs and Intel for making this possible and we hope you all appreciate the work that goes into putting something like this on.  Also, thanks goes to Antec, ASUS and Kingston for their support as well.  

Good luck to everyone and happy audio editing!!

Cooler Master slims down the mechanical keyboard; check out the Quickfire

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2012 - 02:57 PM |
Tagged: input, mechanical keyboard, cherry mx blue

The recent move to mechanical keys has really opened up the keyboard market and choosing one is now about more than just a few backlights or media buttons.  Scott has done a great job in showing what is meant by a mechanical keyboard as well as the differences between the main types in a recent article.  One drawback to the mechanical keyboards is their size, they tend to be on the large side and are not the most easy portable of keyboards.  Benchmark Reviews found a keyboard that might offer the best of both worlds, Cherry MX Blue switches on a trimmed down shell.

CM_Storm_QuickFire_Rapid_Top.jpg

"Although mechanical keyboards have been making a comeback in recent years many of the design are quite bulky in comparison to their rubber dome counter parts. Looking to fill this area of the market Cooler Master designed the Storm QuickFire Rapid mechanical keyboard using the venerable Cherry MX Blue switches, fit into a comfortable 14" x 5" design. This makes the QuickFire Rapid perfect for LAN parties or mobile workers who may want a better typing experience than their laptops are able to offer. Benchmark Reviews will evaluate if the Cooler Master QuickFire Rapid is the perfect pint size keyboard or if corners were cut in order to meet size and price goals."

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Not everyone wants a giant phone ... some of us never understood "Going Metro"

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2012 - 12:12 PM |
Tagged: win8, windows 8, Metro

As many have done recently, The Tech Report downloaded the consumer preview of Windows 8 to try out the new interface from the perspective of a power user.  While many glowing reviews of the OS have come from those who love the idea that their computer could just become a big phone, those of us who do far more with PCs have run into issues.  One of the nastiest changes seems to be the complete removal of the Start button and breaking the registry hack that would restore it on the earlier beta version.  The obvious preference for a touch interface makes keyboard and mouse control awkward at times, though once you manage to start the program you are looking for the response is the same as it was on previous versions of Windows.  Not all was doom and gloom however, there are some positive points to designing a consistent touch interface which will work on your phone, tablet, laptop and desktop.

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"In his latest blog post, TR's David Morgan gets acquianted with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and explores how the Metro interface affects the traditional desktop."

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