Welcome the new benchmark in beating on GPUs, Metro Exodus

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2019 - 02:09 PM |
Tagged: Metro Exodus, games

If you have yet to venture into the new post apocalyptic Russian wasteland, you might want to hold off until you can get your GPU some reinforcements.  An RTX 2060 will let you crank up the settings at 1080p and average around 50fps, while a Vega 64 will almost hit 60fps though without the fancy ray tracing.  If 1440p is your target you are going to want an RTX 2080 if you are going to turn on all the features and still hit 60fps, AMD's offerings can handle this resolution though you many need to turn down some features.   If 4K is your preference, even the mighty RTX 2080 Ti can only manage about 40fps with ray tracing enabled.

Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN is still shopping for a few more cards to add to their suite and an updated machine but they break out their recommendations by GPU which is handy if you have that card.

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"Once upon a time, there was an old saying in PC gaming spheres: ‘But will it run Crysis?’ Then the apocalypse happened, and civilisation retreated to the dark tunnels of its underground tube system, the phrase becoming lost and morphed in the intervening years. Now we say in hushed, hallowed tones, ‘But will it run Metro?’"

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Ah, boss? I just overheard someone say they spotted the microphone!

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2019 - 12:34 PM |
Tagged: nest, google, alphabet, iot

You may recall a news story last summer, about USB fans which were handed out to journalists that showed how oblivious many people are when it comes to security.  The recent news about the microphone in Google's Nest Secure shows that the lesson still has not been learned, though there is certainly an extra level to this particular story.  Google recently announced that they would be activating the microphone embedded in the Nest Secure, something which they completely neglected to document that their home security system contained.

The Nest Secure consists of several sensors to detect a window or door opening, as well as a base with a speaker to sound alerts and a keypad to verify the user.  You would not reasonably expect such a thing to contain a microphone, let alone an undocumented one.   Google insists that they simply forgot to include it in the parts list and that this is all just an innocent misunderstanding.  They are also asking you to believe that the microphone has never been enabled and that there is no possible way that it might have been secretly recording conversations. 

As a point in Google's favour Ars Technica does point out that every other product Google sells has a microphone in it, and so it would be reasonable to suspect one was present in the Nest.   In a world where your TV spies on you, an update can brick your shoes and you can buy smart locks that will ensure you will never be able to go home again, just to mention a few, having your security system spying on you does not seem too far fetched.

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“The on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret and should have been listed in the tech specs. That was an error on our part.” According to the company, "the microphone has never been on and is only activated when users specifically enable the option.”

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Source: Ars Technica

I see rumours of red and rumours of green ...

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2019 - 03:31 PM |
Tagged: tu116, ryzen 3, rumours, nvidia, navi, msi, GTX 1660 TI Gaming X, gtx 1660 ti, amd

If you blinked you would have missed a certain unboxing video, as it was posted before the NDA on the GTX 1660 Ti expired.  However, a few sites managed to get some screengrabs before the video was taken down, so we now know a bit more about the card once thought to be mythical. 

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Image from PC World Bulgaria via [H]ard|OCP

Specifically, it was an MSI GeForce GTX 1660 TI Gaming X that was revealed to the world and while there were no benchmarks, there now seems to be physical proof that this card exists.  It sports a single 8pin PCIe power connector, three DisplayPort 1.4 and a single HDMI 2.0b outputs and not a bit of RTX branding.  Instead it contains 1,536 Turing Shaders and a 12 nm process "TU116" chip hidden under the Twin Frozr 7 cooler.  The outputs tell us this particular card is not compatible with VirtualLink. 

Drop by [H]ard|OCP for links as well as possible pricing and ETA.

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For AMD fans, The Inquirer is reporting that 7nm Ryzen 3 desktop CPUs and Navi GPUs should be announced on 7 July at Computex.  We should also see the new X570 chipset, though the rumour is that the current generation of motherboards will support the new Ryzen series with a BIOS update.  Sadly, Navi is likely to only be announced as it is likely the release will be delayed until October, though like everything else in this post that is purely speculation based on a variety of sources and may not be accurate.

One thing we do know is that the new flagship Ryzen 9 3800X will have two eight core Zen 2 dies, offering a total of 16 cores and 32 threads. The base clock should be 3.9GHz with a top speed of 4.7GHZ, and a TDP of 125W.

Source: [H]ard|OCP

The incredible stretch ... circuit?

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2019 - 02:26 PM |
Tagged: nifty, stretchable, nanotubes

There have been several foldable screens shown off at CES and other shows, though no prototypes have made it into our hands as of yet.  For the most part they seem to rely on rigid structures linked by stretchable or foldable materials, which is what makes the research PhysicsWorld is reporting so interesting.  Researchers from the University of Houston have developed a semiconductor which is able to retain its performance even when stretched up to 50% from it's original size.  The prototype, with integrated electronics and logic circuits, relies on a rubbery semiconductor composite doped with carbon nanotubes which carry the charge from component to component even when the material is deformed or stretched.  They also suggest that this manufacturing is relatively inexpensive, which is perhaps the largest hurdle when developing this type of product.

Jump over to their report and take a look.

 

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"Their low-cost semiconductor material retained its high charge carrier mobility, even when subjected to 50% stretching. The team’s work could lead to the development of practical new technologies including robotic skins and wearable electronics."

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Source: PhysicsWorld

Logitech Is Bringing Back the Beloved MX518 Gaming Mouse

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2019 - 11:05 AM |
Tagged: mx518, logitech g, logitech, gaming mouse

Logitech today announced the rebirth of one of its most popular and beloved products, the MX518 Gaming Mouse. First released nearly fourteen years ago, the MX518 received rave reviews from the tech press and users alike for its comfortable shape, well-positioned customizable buttons, and high-precision sensor with on-the-fly DPI toggling. The company has since released dozens of additional gaming mice models, but fans of the MX518 have long been relegated to paying inflated prices for used stock on eBay if they wanted to get their hands on a replacement.

Now, after a not-so-quiet launch in Asia late last year, Logitech is relaunching the MX518 in Western markets. The company cites the ongoing chorus of user requests to "bring back the MX518" as the reason for the device's revival, and Logitech says that this re-released version is crafted from the original designs with the same shape and feel.

"As one of the most-beloved gaming mice ever, MX518 has inspired legions of fans around the world to ask Logitech G to bring it out of retirement. And we heard you. We pulled the original tools from the Vault and meticulously restored them -- right down to the original glossy keyplate. It's the classic, comfortable shape you know and love, now with modern components that perform to today's advanced standards and a new, updated Nightfall color scheme."

But just because the MX518's exterior remains the same doesn't mean that the mouse's internals can't be updated to take advantage of almost fifteen years of technological advancements. Logitech is therefore packing the "very latest, next-generation technologies" into the new MX518, including a HERO 16K sensor and a 32-bit ARM processor that gives the new mouse a 1ms report rate. Like Logitech's other gaming products, users will be able to store button layouts and custom DPI settings to the mouse's onboard memory so it will always perform and operate the way you want even when connected to PCs not running Logitech's Gaming Software.

logitech-mx518-relaunch.jpg

Check out the full list of specifications below and head over to Logitech's Gaming site to pre-order the MX518 for $59.99. Shipping date has yet to be announced but considering that the product is already on the market in China, it shouldn't be too long a wait for longtime Logitech fans on this side of the globe to get their fix.

PHYSICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Height: 131 mm
  • Width: 73 mm
  • Depth: 43 mm
  • Weight: 101 g mouse only
  • Cable length: ~ 2.10 m

TRACKING

  • Sensor: HERO™ 16K
  • Resolution: 100 – 16,000 DPI
  • Zero smoothing/acceleration/filtering
  • Max. acceleration: > 40 G
  • Max. speed: > 400 IPS

RESPONSIVENESS

  • USB data format: 16 bits/axis
  • USB report rate: 1000 Hz (1ms)
  • Microprocessor: 32-bit ARM

DURABILITY

  • PTFE Feet: > 250 kilometers

OTHER FEATURES

  • Onboard memory: 5 profiles
  • Lightweight, flexible cable

REQUIREMENTS

  • Windows® 7 or later
  • macOS® 10.11 or later
  • USB port
  • Internet access for Logitech Gaming Software (optional)

PART NUMBER

  • 910-005542

WARRANTY INFORMATION

  • 2 - Year Warranty
Source: Logitech G

Elements of Steam Redesign Starting to Appear

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2019 - 09:51 AM |
Tagged: valve, store, steam

As it approaches its sixteenth birthday, Valve's Steam client is long overdue for a redesign. Facing new competition in an increasingly fragmented digital games marketplace, Valve late last year teased that a fresh overhaul of Steam's look and feel was on the slate for 2019.

steam-redesign-about.jpg

And while Valve hasn't made any official announcements regarding the timing of the Steam redesign, users are beginning to notice some changes that indicate a rollout may begin sooner rather than later. Most notably, Valve has quietly updated Steam's About page, which now sports a much more modern look, complete with bold text, simpler graphics and icons, and lots of white space (technically "dark" space in Steam's case).

There's also an auto-playing video in the upper-right corner that shows a simplified Steam interface layout that significantly differs from the current design.

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Others have noticed that certain interface elements within Steam, such as a pop-up window listing mod prerequisites, are now displaying a different look in terms of fonts and colors.

Valve has already taken a componentized approach to Steam updates, releasing redesigned chat and wishlist interfaces last year, so it's not clear if the overall store and client redesign will be unveiled all at once or roll out piece-by-piece over time.

Source: Steam

Humble 505 Games Sale: Up to 90% Off

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2019 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: humble, games, deals, 505 games

Forget the pasta, bring some Italian goodness into your life another way this week with the 505 Games Sale over at the Humble Store. Take your pick of 16 games and a dozen DLCs from the Italian game publisher at up to 90% off.

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Titles include Assetto Corsa, ABZÛ, Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons, and Virginia. All games activate via Steam. The sale is on now through Monday, February 25th at 10:00 a.m. PST. Check it out to save some money on some great games, and don't forget to check the Charity box during checkout to help support some worthy causes.

PC Perspective is a Humble Partner, so we earn a small commission if you purchase any games from this sale via our link. We appreciate your support but if you want to check out the sale without supporting us, just use this unaffilaited link here.

Source: Humble Store

European Speedrunner Assembly (ESA) Winter 2019 Begins

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2019 - 11:27 AM |
Tagged: esa, speedrun, charity

Another video game speedrun marathon has just begun. The European Speedrunner Assembly (ESA) Winter 2019 event started a few hours ago, at 7am EST, and will continue until the games are done, which should be Saturday evening. The last item on the schedule is a race of Cuphead between kalevan_herra, Kirthar, and TwoCPlus in the All Bosses, Regular, Legacy category, although there is a $1,000 donation incentive where kalevan_herra will do an extra solo run of All Bosses, Regular, Current Patch after the race.

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One interesting feature of ESA is that they tend to run two streams with separate games. While the second stream is not online for the whole marathon, it allows them to separate out some (not all) of the long runs so that the main stream can have a faster pace. The Stream 2 game with the fastest estimate (2 hours and 10 minutes) is Jade Empire on Tuesday at 4:30pm EST, and Stream 2 game with the longest estimate (10 hours and 45 minutes) is Final Fantasy X on Thursday at 7am EST.

ESA Winter 2019 benefits Save the Children.

Source: ESA Marathon

Rumor: Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti Will Use Smaller TU116 GPU

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2019 - 10:34 AM |
Tagged: turing, tu116, nvidia, gtx 1660 ti, 12nm

The rumor mill is churning out additional information on the alleged NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti graphics card as it gets closer to its purported release date later this month. Based on the same Turing architecture as the already launched RTX series (RTX 2080, RTX 2070, RTX 2060), the GTX 1660 Ti will reportedly use a smaller TU116 GPU (specifically TU116-400-A1) and 6GB of GDDR6 memory on a 192-bit memory bus. Spotted by VideoCardz, TU116 appears to be pin compatible with TU106 (the GPU used in RTX 2060) but the die itself is noticeably smaller suggesting that TU116 is a new GPU rather than a cut down TU106 GPU with hardware purposefully disabled or binned down due manufacturing defects.

NVIDIA-GTX-1660-Ti-PCB.jpg

A bare MSI GTX 1660 Ti Ventus XS graphics card courtesy VideoCardz.

Rumor has it that the GTX 1660 Ti will feature 1536 CUDA cores, 96 Texture Units, and an unknown number of ROPs (possibly 48 though as the memory bus is the same as RTX 2060 with its 192-bit bus). Clockspeeds will start at 1500 MHz and boost to 1770 MHz. The 6GB of GDDR6 will be clocked at 6000 MHz. VideoCardz showed off an alleged MSI GTX 1660 Ti graphics card with the cooler removed showing off the PCB and components. Interestingly, the PCB has six memory chips on board for the 6GB GDDR6 with spots and traces for two more chips. Don't get your hopes up for an 8GB card however, as it appears that NVIDIA is simply making things easier on AIB partners by using pin compatible GPUs allowing them to reuse boards for the higher end graphics card models for the GTX 1660 Ti. The PCB board number for the GTX 1660 Ti is PG161 and is similar to the board used with RTX 2060 (PG160).

Enthusiasts' favorite twitter leaker TUM_APISAK further stirs the rumor pot with a leaked screenshot showing the benchmark results of a GTX 1660 Ti graphics card in Final Fantasy XV with a 1440p High Quality preset. The GTX 1660 Ti allegedly scored 5,000 points putting it just above the GTX 1070 at 4,955 points and just under the 980 Ti's 5052 score. Compared to the other side, the GTX 1660 Ti appears to sit between a presumably overclocked RX Vega (4876) and a Radeon Vega II (5283).

NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti Benchmark Leak.png

@TUM_APISAK shows off a FF:XV benchmark run including results from an unspecified GTX 1660 Ti graphics card.

Other performance rumors suggest that the GTX 1660 Ti will offer up 5.44 TFLOPs. RT cores are apparently cut (or disabled) in this GPU, but it is not clear whether or not the Tensor cores are intact (rumors seem to say yes though).

Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti graphics cards based on the TU116 GPU will reportedly start at $279 [update: VideoCardz claims the pricing has been confirmed from information given to reviewers] and may well launch as soon as February 22nd (though they've already missed one rumored launch date on the 15th...). Assuming for a minute the performance factors are true, it is interesting to see the smaller TU116 GPU with fewer CUDA cores at least getting close to GTX 1070 performance. The GTX 1070 uses the 16nm GP104 GPU (7.2B transistors) with 1920 CUDA cores (1506 MHz), 120 texture units, 64 ROPs, and 8GB of memory on a 256-bit bus clocked at 8000 MHz. The GTX 1070 offers up to 5.7 TFLOPS. Looking at the progress over the past few generations, it is neat to see that as architectures improve, they are able to do more work with less (but better/faster) CUDA cores. I would guess that the GTX 1660 Ti will not best the GTX 1070 in all games and situations though as the GTX 1070 does have more ROPs and more total memory (though the GDDR6 memory on GTX 1660 Ti does offer more bandwidth than the 1070's GDDR5 despite the smaller bus). Pricing will be interesting in this regard as the rumored price starts at $279 for GTX 1660 Ti. The cheapest GTX 1070 I found online at time of publication was $300 with most cards going for closer to $330+. We may see price drops on the older GTX 1070 cards as a result. GTX 1060 cards are going for $200+ and RX 580 cards are sitting at $190+, RX 590 at $260+, and Vega 56 prices starting at $330 (and go crazy high heh) so the GTX 1660 Ti may also push down the prices of the highe end and higher priced models of those cards as well.

What are your thoughts on the latest rumors?

Related reading:

Source: TechPowerUp

Arm will be extending it's reach in the next few years

Subject: General Tech | February 15, 2019 - 12:28 PM |
Tagged: v8.1-M, arm, helium, cortex

Today ARM will reveal what it has up it's sleeves, with an announcement about their updated Armv8.1-M.  This will add M-Profile Vector Extension to the current model, which will give a boost to it's ability to process input locally, without needing to connect to the cloud for back up.  It will also include Low Overhead Branch Extensions which will optimize the performance of onboard memory.  These two improvements, along with the others which you can read about at The Registerr will make your IoT devices a little more powerful in a few years, once Armv8.1-M hits the market.

ArmHelium_Fig3.png

"This technology is expected to be the foundation of future beefy Arm Cortex-M CPU cores that chipmakers can license and stick in their components."

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Source: The Register