A Texas sized party with Kyle and the [H] gang

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | February 2, 2012 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: amd, Texas GamExperience

While we at PC Perspective wait for Quakecon before heading to Texas, [H]ard|OCP hosts the AMD GamExperience in Dallas during January.  This is the third year in a row they've given gamers the chance to experience the newest in games and gaming peripherals and it must have been a good one since they only managed to recover enough to post the pictures today.  As you can see below they are just as hard on the audience as Ryan and the crew, but with $55,000+ worth of prizes to give out it is possible to get gamers to do pushups.  Check out what you missed here.

Hup.jpg

We did have a man on the scene, if you haven't seen Steve's coverage you really should.

"We recently put on the third "GamExperience" here in Dallas, TX! We invited 600 of our closet friends and 20 companies that crank out some of the best computer hardware in the world and put them all in one room together for some gaming and geek talk. And yeah, free stuff too, about $50,000 worth!"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: AMD

AMD Gives a Glimpse of the Near Future

AMD has released an updated roadmap for these next two years, and the information contained within is quite revealing of where AMD is going and how they are shifting their lineup to be less dependent on a single manufacturer.  The Financial Analyst Day has brought a few surprises of where AMD is headed, and how they will get there.  Rory Read and Mark Papermaster have brought a new level of energy to the company that seemingly has been either absent or muted.  Sometimes a new set of eyes on a problem, or in this case the attitudes and culture of a company, can bring about significant changes for the positive.  From what we have seen so far from Rory and company is a new energy and direction for AMD.  While AMD is still sticking to their roots, they are looking to further expand upon their expertise in some areas, all the while being flexible enough to license products from other companies that are far enough away from AMD's core competence that it pays to license rather than force engineers to re-invent the wheel.

The roadmaps cover graphics, desktop, mobile, and server products through 2013.

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This first slide is a snapshot of the current and upcoming APU lineup.  Southern Islands is the codename for the recently released HD 7000 series of desktop parts.  This will cover products from the 7700 level on up to the top end 7990.  Of great interest are the Brazos 2.0 and Hondo chips.  AMD had cancelled the "Krishna" series of chips which would have been based on Bobcat cores up to 4 on 28 nm.  Details are still pending, but it seems Brazos 2.0 will still be 40 nm parts but much more refined so they can be clocked higher and still pull less power.  Hondo looks to be the basic Brazos core, but for Ultra Low Power (lower clocks, possibly disabled units, etc.) which would presumably scale to 5 watts and possibly lower.

Read the entire article here.

FirefoxX: Coming soon to a TF2 user handle near you!

Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2012 - 05:55 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, firefox

Firefox is my default browser. I often complement Firefox with Google Chrome due to habits introduced in the dark ages where Flash and crash were more ironic rhymes for Firefox users, but I stuck with it. I watched as it grew from a suite and innocent Mozilla build into the standalone browser it is today. Could Firefox be ten already? It seems like it was just yesteryear -- it was just four and we were out in the textfield try{}ing to play catch(){}.

firefoxX.png

Yeah that got creepier as I went on, I apologize.
It’s easier to try{} and ask forgiveness than debug permissions.
… I prefer to recycle my jokes rather than rely on garbage collection.

 

If you are a developer -- and if you are still reading then you probably are -- this version of Firefox has a lot to offer you. While a lot of the features touted as new are not, they are certainly much upgraded from what we are used to. Allow me to put it like this: you may be able to finally uninstall Firebug. You may infer what you like from that statement. Some highlights of the developer features include a built-in page inspector, a web console interface, and scratchpad.

The page inspector allows developers to examine their own websites as well as study the websites of others in a much friendlier interface than Firebug. For quick tweaks, you can edit the CSS from within page inspector and turn whole properties on and off and immediately see its effect.

The web console interface allows you to edit your site as it is temporarily rendered from a command-line interface. This appears to be mostly useful for smaller Javascript tweaks and additions if you have a small change that you would like to iterate upon quickly. The web console also allows you to see network requests which should help greatly with optimizing load times.

Scratchpad is a new developer feature for Javascript which is just too complicated to test upon with the console interface. Scratchpad is somewhere between Notepad and Notepad++ and is used to quickly experiment with full Javascript scripts on the website you currently have loaded.

Don't just take my word for it, see it!

More general enhancements were, of course, also made with this version: WebGL is now antialiased; security, performance, and stability fixes were introduced; and add-on compatibility is much less annoying. The experience feels much more responsive and clean than it has recently, continuing on the advancements started with Firefox 7.

What do you think? Looking forward to new WebGL content now that it will not be as jaggy? Excited about the developer tools or performance enhancements? Let us know!

Source: Mozilla

You aren't done playing Skyrim yet, the official Mod tools are on their way

Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2012 - 03:15 PM |
Tagged: skyrim, gaming, creation kit, bethesda

Attention all modders and Elder Scrolls fans, the official Bethesda Creation Kit for Skyrim is coming down from the mountain to give a shout out to the community.  It will be a free download via Steam under Tools and will not only give you the tools to mod the game but it can also replace the Nexus Mod Manager for updating and enabling or disabling mods.  From the description of the Creation Kit those familiar with previous versions from Elder Scrolls games and Fallout 3 will be familiar with the interface. If you want to see a video of this tool in action head to Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN and feast your eyes on the newest drain on your free time.

CK01.jpg

"Bethesda is soon to release the Creation Kit for Skyrim, that’ll allow official modding to begin, along with some really powerful-looking tools. It will also plug directly into the Steam Workshop, which will make adding user-created mods to your game over 39024% easier. You can see a video giving an overview of those features below."

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If you thought Intel did well wait until you see ARM

Subject: General Tech | February 1, 2012 - 12:24 PM |
Tagged: RISC, quarterly earnings, earnings, arm

For total dollar revenue over 2011 the only company that can touch Intel's earnings would be Apple, who actually contributed to Intel's growth over the past year.  When you talk about percentage growth over last year however ARM actually beat Intel's 21% growth, although not by much.  Their pre-tax growth approached 50% for the year and they blew away analyst's predictions both quarterly and yearly.  This probably has to do with the 2.2 billion ARM-powered chips sold globally over the past year, not just the new chips that power your phones and tablets but also chips they've been making for a long time which appear in vehicles, appliances and toys.  ARM's way of doing business is different from Intel who prefer to tie you into an all Intel hardware or no Intel hardware contract, ARM is happy if their chips co-exist with others on a device; they just want a chip in there.  As The Register points out, this flexibility as well as the release of an ARM compatible version of Windows 8 could make the coming years rather interesting.

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"ARM, the eponymous designer of the chip architecture, had a stonking 2011 with revenue and profits up as it tightened its hold on both embedded and generic computing.

Revenue for the last quarter of 2011 was up by more than 20 per cent on the previous year, to £137.8m, while profit before tax jumped more than twice that percentage to £69m. For the whole of 2011 the numbers are very similar, revenue hitting £491.8m ($773m) and profit topping £229.7m ($362m), rather better than analysts had predicted."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft Says No To Next Generation Xbox In 2012

Subject: General Tech | January 31, 2012 - 04:42 PM |
Tagged: xbox next, xbox 720, xbox, gaming, 2012

The Internet has seen quite a few Xbox Next / Xbox 720 (or whatever it will end up being called) rumors over the past few months, and many gamers were likely hoping for the next generation console refresh to come in time for a holiday launch. According to Microsoft Marketing Director Cedrick Delmax; however, this is just not going to happen. Tom's Hardware quoted, from an interview with LePoint.Fr, Delmax in further stating that the "Xbox 360's cycle is not at all finished." He further tried to prove his point by saying that the Xbox 360 is not dead yet because the company did not see a need to cut the price of the current console this year. When pushed with questions about the console's competition in the Wii U (launching this Christmas season) and the eventual successor to Sony's PS3, the Microsoft spokesperson said that they would not be making any "hasty moves" and the next Xbox would come in its own time. More information including a statement from sony can be found in this separate Lepoint.fr interview.

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Sticking around until at least 2013!

Well, it looks like Microsoft is really riding this horse (the Xbox 360) until it dies. Hopefully they know what they are doing and the next Xbox rises from the ashes like a Pheonix instead of crumbling because they waited too long to enter the next generation. Game developers are already starting to hit a wall in how far they can push the current consoles and will start to turn to the PC (finally) to show off their graphics prowess. What are your thoughts on this, are you satisfied with your Xbox 360, especially when compared to the graphics on current PCs (for example, Battlefield 3)?

If 7 new Sandy Bridge processors arrive and Intel says nothing, does anyone know they exist?

Subject: General Tech | January 31, 2012 - 03:13 PM |
Tagged: core i5, core i3, celeron, sandy bridge, Intel

With absolutely no fanfare, Intel has released seven new Sandy Bridge processors of which two lack a graphics core.  Three quad-core Core i5 arrived, the Core i5-2550K is a normal chip running at 3.4GHz, while the i5-2380P and i5-2450P lack GPU cores; all are rated at a 95W TDP however so don't expect power savings from those two chips.  On the low powered end the dual core Celeron B720 and single core B815 will both sport TDPs of 35W and for mobile users the Celeron 797 and 867 will both have a TDP of 17W.  The Inquirer picked up this information from Intel's newly release price list; one which does not feature a single drop in the price of a CPU.

Core-i5-chip.jpg

"CHIPMAKER Intel has quietly released seven Sandy Bridge processors, with two of the chips not having built-in graphics cores.

Intel's Sandy Bridge range is already packed but that didn't stop Chipzilla from releasing seven chips, three of which are branded as Core i5 and two featuring a new 'P' suffix. According to our man at Intel the suffix denotes chips that do not come with Intel's integrated graphics core."

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Source: The Inquirer

Ubuntu versus OSX ... Fight!

Subject: General Tech | January 30, 2012 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: apple, osx, ubuntu, linux

We've all seen the various Windows verus Apple comparisons, so let us head to Phoronix for a fight of a different flavour.  They've taken the new OS X and pitted it against the new Ubuntu on SandyBridge hardware to see how they compare.  From the start it looks bad for Apple, as it detected the dual Core i5 2415M as a single core CPU with hyperthreading where as Ubuntu detected the processor correctly.  They did help Apple out a bit by adding in LLVM/Clang 3.0 into the Xcode4 package as GCC 4.2.1 performs less impressively.  The results were mixed, with each system excelling at certain tasks but not others proving once again that the choice between Apple and PC is generally based on specfic task and not a general performance decision.

ph_linbuntu.jpg

"After delivering benchmarks last week that were comparing the Intel Sandy Bridge performance of Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion" vs. Ubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot" when it came to the Sandy Bridge OpenGL graphics performance, here's a comparative look at the performance of Ubuntu 11.10 against Mac OS X 10.7.2 from the Intel Sandy Bridge-based Mac."

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Source: Phoronix

Stability brings ARMy of Developers: Windows on ARM Stable

Subject: General Tech | January 30, 2012 - 04:24 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, arm

I will be honest with you; I was not, personally, paying attention to Windows 8 let alone Windows on ARM. I often like to push the newest and obscure releases of Windows falling prey to both Windows XP 64-bit as well as the not-nearly-as-bad-as-people-make-it-out-to-be Windows Vista; Windows 7 seems to suit my needs and I do not expect to push past it any time soon unless something shows me otherwise. If you, on the other hand, were awaiting Windows on ARM to be stable -- which frankly I thought it already happened, but apparently not -- and on their way to developers? Not now.

16-ShatteredWindows2.jpg

Intel's starting to drop bricks?

Brooke Crothers of CNET reports Windows 8 for ARM processors has reached a stable build and is expected to be in the hands of developers in February. Despite the seemingly late deployment, one source did not expect Windows 8 on ARM to be released later than the x86 version; that source also admitted to not being given information from Microsoft to support that assertion. I am skeptical of that source, to say the least, but I keep an open mind.

As for legacy applications, Microsoft Office has not been seen running on ARM devices. Intuitively, if Office were to be fully operational on ARM then Microsoft would likely have shown it off by now. Whether or not intuition holds true is yet to be seen, though CNET heard from a source of a source that Office is “running fine” on ARM.

Despite Microsoft’s demonstrations of Windows 8, there is little information circulating about Windows 8 on ARM. Even at CES, there was little that was shown to sate the questions asked about the new platform. Perhaps once it is in the hands of developers we might discover more concrete information?

Source: CNET

NVIDIA Updates CUDA: Major Release for Science Research

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | January 29, 2012 - 02:53 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, gpgpu, CUDA

NVIDIA has traditionally been very interested in acquiring room in the high-performance computing for scientific research market. For a lot of functions, having a fast and highly parallel processor saves time and money compared to having a traditional computer crunch away or having to book time with one of the world’s relatively few supercomputers. Despite the raw performance of a GPU, adequate development tools are required to bring the simulation or calculation into a functional program to execute on said GPU. NVIDIA is said to have had a strong lead with their CUDA platform for quite some time; that lead will likely continue with releases the size of this one.

MOD-9981_CUDAVisualProfiler.jpg

What does a tuned up GPU purr like? Cuda cuda cuda cuda cuda.

The most recent release, CUDA 4.1, has three main features:

  • A visual profiler to point out common mistakes and optimizations and to provide instructions which detail how to alter your code to increase your performance
  • A new compiler which is based on the LLVM infrastructure, making good on their promise to open the CUDA platform to other architectures -- both software and hardware
  • New image and signal processing functions for their NVIDIA Performance Primitives (NPP) library, relieving developers the need to create their own versions or license a proprietary library

The three features, as NVIDIA describes them in their press release, are listed below.

New Visual Profiler - Easiest path to performance optimization
The new Visual Profiler makes it easy for developers at all experience levels to optimize their code for maximum performance. Featuring automated performance analysis and an expert guidance system that delivers step-by-step optimization suggestions, the Visual Profiler identifies application performance bottlenecks and recommends actions, with links to the optimization guides. Using the new Visual Profiler, performance bottlenecks are easily identified and actionable.

LLVM Compiler - Instant 10 percent increase in application performance
LLVM is a widely-used open-source compiler infrastructure featuring a modular design that makes it easy to add support for new programming languages and processor architectures. Using the new LLVM-based CUDA compiler, developers can achieve up to 10 percent additional performance gains on existing GPU-accelerated applications with a simple recompile. In addition, LLVM's modular design allows third-party software tool developers to provide a custom LLVM solution for non-NVIDIA processor architectures, enabling CUDA applications to run across NVIDIA GPUs, as well as those from other vendors.

New Image, Signal Processing Library Functions - "Drop-in" Acceleration with NPP Library
NVIDIA has doubled the size of its NPP library, with the addition of hundreds of new image and signal processing functions. This enables virtually any developer using image or signal processing algorithms to easily gain the benefit of GPU acceleration, with the simple addition of library calls into their application. The updated NPP library can be used for a wide variety of image and signal processing algorithms, ranging from basic filtering to advanced workflows.
 

Source: NVIDIA