Earlier this week, we posted about the Vive virtual reality headset from Valve, addressing rumors from late last month. The Vive wasn't the only piece of hardware that Valve brought to GDC, as the Steam Link streaming device made its first appearance. The Link will stream games from an existing PC or Mac on your network to a television at up to 1080p 60Hz. The streaming feature will make it easy for gamers that want to play games on their larger screens without moving their computers next to their TVs. Multiplayer games could benefit most from the expanded viewing area. The Steam Link will have a price of $49.99 and won't come bundled with a Steam Controller.
Valve also brought news of its next generation game engine, Source 2, joining other upcoming engines such as Unity 5 and Unreal Engine 4. Valve will be offering Source 2 completely free to developers and content creators, with the only requirement being that anything made with the engine must be made available on Steam in addition to any other platforms. This will still give Valve its normal 30% cut from Steam sales, but should be favorable to developers that can't afford any upfront costs for a license.
Earlier today Epic Games revealed it would be holding a keynote address at GDC 2015 that would cover the state of the Unreal Engine and what the future holds. Evidently the future is quite large, as Epic Games is partnering up with Weta Digital, Oculus, and NVIDIA to push virtual reality to a whole new level. Showcasing this new VR possibility is a demo featuring the "Thief in the Shadows" scene from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. In it we see the great serpent Smaug in his gold pile, talking to the person wearing the Oculus Crescent Bay prototype headset as if the person is actually there with Smaug under the mountain. It is an impressive experience that is made possible with a brand new toy from NVIDIA: the GeForce GTX TITAN X.
The TITAN X is the latest iteration of the company's powerhouse card, with a Maxwell GPU, eight billion transistors, and a 12GB framebuffer. Full details of the TITAN X are still under wraps until NVIDIA's GPU Technology Conference later this month, but CEO Jen-Hsun Huang sounds positively excited about what it can do.
NVIDIA's new card enables the "Thief in the Shadows" demo to run at 90 frames per second on the Crescent Bay headset. Smaug is brought to life before your very eyes thanks to Unreal Engine 4, and sounds like he's right in front of you, too, thanks to the Oculus Audio SDK. Coins clink and fall as Smaug shifts around, his breathing fills your ears, and his massive 500-foot frame dominates your vision when he reveals himself.
Attendees of GDC 2015 can check out the "Thief in the Shadows" demo at the Epic Games, NVIDIA, and Oculus booths. The GTX TITAN X may make an appearance, too, but remember, the full details of that massive card will be revealed in two weeks.
Topological insulators are a curious family of materials, as they are capable of conducting electrical currents on their surface, but highly resistant through their bulk. By exploiting their properties, many new technologies could be developed involving spintronics and quantum computing. Now researchers at TU Dresden have discovered how to engrave wires into TIs.
Currents on a TI follow very small channels in the surface, and in the case of Bismuth-Rhodium-Iodine, these channels are connected to one dimensional steps at the edges of atomic layers. The physics of TIs keep electrons flowing along these channels from jumping to others, which is why there is so little resistance to these currents. What the Dresden researchers have done is engrave new channels into a TI, effectively etching wires into the surface. This discovery will help us understand the exact physics behind topological insulators, which is necessary for using them in future technologies.
Prepare to journey back in time with Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, MachineGames' just-announced prequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order. The Old Blood takes us back to 1946, with BJ Blazkowicz on a new adventure to explore the events that lead up to The New Order. This prequel features eight chapters and two interconnected stories that should help to show exactly what happens to set up the world as it is in TNO.
The first story of The Old Blood is Rudi Jäger and the Den of Wolves, with Blazkowicz heading back to Castle Wolfenstein to steal the coordinates to General Deathshead's compound. Castle Wolfenstein has a crazy prison warden running it, so it certainly won't be a walk in the park. The second story is The Dark Secrets of Helga Von Schabbs, as the coordinates send Blazkowicz to the city of Wulfburg. There he finds a Nazi archaeologist obsessed with finding mysterious artifacts that will blanket the world in a dark and ancient power.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood arrives on May 5 for the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One at a mere $19.99. Bethesda will have live gamestreams from PAX East on both Friday and Saturday at 10:30am EST on its Twitch channel.
PAX East kicks off this weekend in Boston, but MSI is giving us all a sneak peek of what it will be showing off at the convention. Everything from laptops to motherboards, video cards, and all-in-one PCs will be on display, along with a few interesting items to build up MSI's market share. The GT80 Titan SLI gaming laptop features a mechanical keyboard, the first in a laptop, while the GS30 Shadow laptop can be hooked up to a new docking station. The docking station is called the GamingDock, and it's a large unit that can fit any desktop video card you want inside it to seriously beef up the laptop's gaming potential. MSI will also have the GE62 Apache gaming laptop that has an NVIDIA GTX 965M and a dual exhaust system.
For the motherboards, MSI has the Z97A GAMING 9 ACK, Z97A GAMING 7, X99A GAMING 9 ACK, and the X99A GAMING 7. All four feature support for Type-A USB 3.1, which is twice as fast as USB 3.0, with the two Z97 boards also featuring Type-C USB 3.1 ports. Those Type-C ports feature a reversible connector so the USB plug no longer needs to be facing the correct way or exist in the fourth dimension. Each motherboard has two USB 3.1 ports, which are also backwards compatible.
Switching over to video cards, MSI has the GTX 900 GAMING series, with the GTX 980, 970, and 960 all featuring the company's Twin Frozr V cooler. There are even limited edition GTX 970 and 960 cards that have an NVIDIA Green cooler on them instead of the typical color scheme. MSI also has a black and white cooler on the GTX 960 2GD5T OC card, which pairs up nicely with the company's Z97S SLI Krait and X99S SLI Krait Edition motherboards. If you're going to be running two video cards together, perhaps MSI's new premium SLI bridge is for you. It supports 2-Way SLI and LED backlighting that can be controlled via the MSI Gaming app.
Finishing off MSI's PAX East showcase are some new all-in-one gaming PCs. The AG270 2QC 3K features a 27" WQHD IPS panel with a 2560x1440 resolution, and is powered by an Intel Core i7 CPU and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M video card. It also has Yamaha speakers for blasting your favorite tunes or getting you closer to the game. There is also the Gaming 24GE PC, which sports a 4K resolution for some truly impressive visual power. It's powered by an Intel Core i7-4720HQ and a GeForce GTX 900 Series video card, and features a Nahimic Audio Processor to increase its audio output.
All of these and more will be available at the MSI booth at PAX East, which runs from March 6 to 8 at the Boston Convention Center. MSI will also have some League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive matches to win some prizes, as well as daily raffles with SteelSeries products, t-shirts, MSI components, and even a laptop from iBUYPOWER.
The middle of the week is here, with plenty of items to help get you over the hump. There is a review of the Noctua NH-U9S Compact heat sink, which promises lower noise and compatibility with all motherboards and RAM. We also have the ASUS STRIX TACTIC PRO gaming keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches to see if it will become your new keyboard of choice. For the gamers there is a look at the Homeworld Remastered Collection and what kind of performance it offers on various setups. There are also a couple of items from GDC 2015, with one looking at AMD's LiquidVR SDK to deliver better VR performance, and another examining Vulkan, SPIR-V, and OpenCL 2.1.
Science fiction has long been providing us with devices capable of seeing otherwise invisible objects, and some of these technologies have come to exist. In the future we may see a new technology emerge called quantum radar that puts quantum mechanics to work catching things we cannot see. Researchers at the University of York have recently built a prototype quantum radar system that has potential for finding low reflectively objects, such as cancer cells and stealth aircraft.
Traditional radar works by sending out a microwave signal and capturing what bounces back. Objects with low reflectivity pose a problem though, as little comes back, and if there is a lot of noise in the area, finding something is going to be even harder. Quantum radar however couples a microwave beam to an optical beam, making it much more sensitive to small reflections, even in a noisy environment. What the York researchers specifically did was develop a special converter for entangling the two beams, for emission, and converting the microwave beam into an optical beam, for collection.
The researchers do acknowledge that quantum radars are still a ways off, but they could have a large number of applications. This includes non-invasive biomedical applications for analyzing proteins and acids, which expose patients to less radiation thanks to the low number of photons being used.
Epic Games, who just recently announced that the latest version of the incredibly popular Unreal Engine is now free for everyone to download, is set to deliver a keynote at GDC 2015 in the coming hours. The keynote, which will take place between 9:30AM and 10:30AM in San Francisco, California, will include thoughts about the initial launch of Unreal Engine 4 and will also dive into the current state of the engine itself. Developers of all disciplines and skill levels are being invited to attend the event, which will be given by Tim Sweeney, the CEO and Founder of Epic Games. For individuals who cannot attend the event in person, the keynote will be available through the popular Twitch streaming service.
ZOTAC, a global innovator and manufacturer of graphics cards and mini-PCs, has officially revealed the Steam Machine SN970. This latest product by ZOTAC, which of course features Valve’s SteamOS, aims to bring the gaming experience to the living room, allowing PC gamers to enjoy the latest titles through their home entertainment center instead of a desk. The Steam Machine SN970 offers premium components to ensure maximum performance, such as a 6th generation Intel CPU, a discrete NVIDIA GTX level graphics card, a 64GB M.2 SSD, a 2.5-inch 1TB HDD, and 802.11ac wireless. With all of this technology, gamers are able to connect up to four displays to further immerse themselves in their favorite video game titles, which can be enjoyed with the included Steam Controller. According to Tony Wong, the CEO of ZOTAC International, "We have employed the latest Intel CPU and NVIDIA GPU technology so gamers can keep the graphics sliders on ultra, and enjoy smooth, 4k gaming."
NVIDIA has a new entry in its SHIELD line of products with the simply named SHIELD. We already have the SHIELD Portable and SHIELD Tablet, but the SHIELD is an Android gaming/TV console that can stream TV shows, movies, and games at up to 4K resolutions. The SHIELD runs on the new NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor, which features a 256-core Maxwell GPU and an eight-core 64-bit ARM CPU, along with 4K support at 60Hz. It is NVIDIA's most powerful Tegra processor yet.
The SHIELD supports 5.1/7.1 audio over HDMI, features an HDMI 2.0 port so it can output 4K at 60Hz, has two USB 3.0 ports and one micro-USB 2.0 port, and includes 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO. It also has Bluetooth 4.1/BLE, 16GB of internal storage, a microSD slot that supports up to 128GB cards, and a Gigabit Ethernet port so it can be hard wirded. Oh, and the GPU features 3GB of VRAM, so it certainly doesn't lack in that department.
This Android-powered console is the gateway to NVIDIA GRID, the company's game streaming service that it calls the "Netflix for Games." It is powered by a team of GeForce GTX GPUs to deliver games to you at 1920x1080 with 60 frames per second. More than 50 games can be streamed with GRID, like Batman: Arkham Origins, Metro: Last Light Redux, and more, with new games added each week. Additionally, GRID can purchase and stream games coming out later this year, like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Batman: Arkham Knight.
Along with NVIDIA GRID, the SHIELD can play the hundreds of Android games already available, including over 50 titles optimized for the SHIELD itself. Games like DOOM 3: BFG Edition, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, and Crysis 3 are among those 50, with NVIDIA promising fast speeds thanks to that Tegra X1 chip. To play all these games, each SHIELD comes with a SHIELD controller. A remote control can be purchased separately, as well as extra controllers and a vertical stand for the SHIELD.
Both the NVIDIA SHIELD and NVIDIA GRID will launch this May, with the SHIELD coming in at $199. NVIDIA GRID is subscription-based, with a free tier to simply play those 50+ games, and a premium one that lets you buy and stream games immediately. The exact subscription price is not known at this time, but expect that information before long.
The Khronos Group has taken the wraps off its next-generation OpenGL API and have given it a name: Vulkan. Vulkan, previously known as glNext, is a low-overhead API to enhance multi-threaded 3D development, so different threads can prepare batches to send to the GPU at the same time. Developers will now have more control over creating commands, with things like memory and thread management handled by the developer instead of the video driver. This will let the driver do less work than it does now, which could help overall performance. Vulkan is made with modern hardware in mind, with complex GPUs and CPUs that have multiple threads to handle more load.
Vulkan, like OpenGL, will work across operating systems and hardware vendors, so everyone can benefit from what it offers, including mobile users. One thing different between OpenGL and Vulkan is how the latter handles shader programs. OpenGL would require every driver to have a full shader compiler for things written in the GLSL shader language. However, Vulkan takes a page from Direct3D, and has the shaders compiled into SPIR-V, which is then what the drivers will use for shaders. SPIR-V is an update to SPIR 2.0 and has been developed alongisde Vulkan. SPIR-V combines graphics and computation; so regardless if its a graphical shader written using GLSL, a computational shader using OpenCL C, or any other language, SPIR-V compiles them all and is the only thing the video driver has to use.
Valve and other developers will show off early engines built using Vulkan during GDC 2015 this week. The final specification and drivers for Vulkan won't appear until later this year. Even with the advent of Vulkan, OpenGL isn't going away, as Vulkan is a lower level control that may not be a good fit for everything used by OpenGL. It's kind of like DirectX 11 and 12, where both will exist at the same time based on which developers need what aspects. However, as seen yesterday, AMD's Mantle is effectively going away, since both DirectX 12 and Vulkan do what Mantle did, just not restriced to only AMD GPUs.
Sony has announced an updated design and hardware specifications for the PS4 powered virtual reality headset known as Project Morpheus. The hardware updates center around the viewing apparatus with a larger 5.7" screen operating at 1920x1080 with a refresh rate of 120Hz. The field of view has also been increased to 100 degrees with latency lowered to 18 milliseconds. Project Morpheus has an expected release date sometime in early 2016 with no price announced.
Geometrics, a company owned by ARM, revealed its next generation lighting engine, Enlighten 3, at the Game Developers Conference. The third iteration of the software "offers a unique method of implementing advanced dynamic lighting inside of digital content, which not only improves the image visually as compared to the older Enlighten technology, but also offers significant performance gains." Developers will be able to create realistic lighting effects in their games while also giving a "greater amount of control over the direction, angle, and lighting level as a result." As part of the engine, Geometrics has also released a tool called Forge to make it easier to include the new features in games. Forge is currently compatible with the Unreal Engine 3 and 4 with plans to expand to other engines in the future.
Even though Einstein is best known for his theories of relativity, it was his paper on the photoelectric effect that earned him his Nobel Prize. A central concept to this paper was that light exists as both a particle and a wave, which was actually a matter of debate for centuries as different experiments can show it as one or the other. That limitation of experiments to show either the wave or the particle nature has continued until recently as researchers at EPFL have finally designed an experiment that shows both.
To finally catch light as both wave and particle, the researchers turned to electrons to capture the image. First a laser pulse was fired at a nanowire, causing its electrons to become excited and radiate light around the wire as a standing wave. Next the researchers fired a beam of electrons near the wire, because as they pass through the light, they will speed up or slow down. The image the researchers took showed the standing light wave, confirming the wave nature, but at the same time showed quantized energy packets. This indicates that the electrons were interacting with photons, the quanta or particle of light.
This is the first time the paradoxical nature of quantum mechanics has been directly demonstrated by an experiment, and will definitely impact fundamental science. It could also have applications with future technologies, like quantum computers, with its ability to image and control quantum phenomena.
HyperX, the high-performance product division of Kingston Technology, has just released its FURY DDR4 memory line. The latest product line from HyperX offers value oriented consumers with high performance, maximum reliability, and great aesthetics. The FURY DDR4 memory line is compatible with the Intel X99 chipset, is available in 2133MHz, 2400MHz, and 2666MHz frequencies, comes in 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB kits, and features a low profile, black heat spreader color and matching PCB. FURY DDR4 memory operates at 1.2V for maximum power efficiency, is completely factory tested to ensure reliability, and comes with a lifetime warranty that includes free technical support.
Along with the release of FURY DDR4 memory, HyperX has expanded its high-end Predator DDR4 family, which was recently overclocked to a world record, with 32GB and 64GB kits in order to cater to performance driven enthusiasts.
We have all grown used to QR codes, most likely, as these codes are used in a variety of places to provide useful information or links to whoever pulls out their smartphone. They may be getting a new use in the future though, thanks to researchers at the University of Connecticut who want to use them to secure computer chips.
Believe it or not, but there are counterfeit computer chips being made out there, possibly with the purpose of making money but also to compromise security systems. Just a few years ago over 100 cases were revealed by a Senate Armed Services Committee report and fixing the issues of the counterfeit, Chinese electronics cost some $2.675 million. To try to prevent that from happening again, the Connecticut researchers suggest encoding vital statistics about computer chips into QA codes that are placed on the chips. By encrypting the data and compressing it all into the code, so an Internet connection is not required, the chips can be authenticated.
To further improve security, the researchers used a random phase photon-based encryption system to make the image hard to duplicate without knowing the appropriate codes. Instead of the white and black designs we may find around us, the resulting image can be microns in size and resemble a night sky with a few dots of pixelated light.
Sapphire has officially introduced its latest graphics card offering, the Radeon R7 260X iCafe OC, that is aimed at valued oriented builds. This graphics card includes a full length, dual-slot cooler and offers a cooling solution that features a copper core base, a plethora of aluminum fins, and an 80mm fan. The Radeon R7 260X iCafe OC comes with 896 Graphics CoreNext stream processors, a 128-bit wide GDDR5 memory interface, core clock speeds of 1050MHz, and 2GB of memory clocked at 5GHz. The card is powered by a single 6-pin PCIe power connector and includes one DisplayPort 1.2a, one dual-link DVI, and one HDMI 1.4a.
ECS, a motherboard manufacturing company based out of Taiwan, has announced its first ever worldwide "How do you LIVA" short film contest. The contest is centered on the company’s LIVA X desktop, a Mini PC that has been available for roughly two months and features an incredible amount of technology packed into a small and efficient package. The contest is open to virtually anyone and seeks to find the most creative individuals who can portray in just 90 seconds how LIVA X can make life better. Participants in the "How do you LIVA" short film contest are competing to win a grand prize of roughly $4774.87 and an invitation to participate in Computex 2015 in Taiwan.
Details about the ECS LIVA short film contest, including contest stages and additional award information, can be found on the official contest website.
AMD's experiment with its Mantle API may be nearing its end, as a recent blog post by AMD urged developers to focus on DirectX 12 and next-generation OpenGL (glNext). Raja Koduri, Vice President of Visual and Perceptual Computing at AMD, wrote a blog covering the future of Mantle and APIs in general. Koduri went over the levels Mantle reached, with five game engines and ten premium applications making use of it, but also focused on the future for Mantle. And the future, it seems, is rather bleak.
AMD will no longer release the Mantle SDK to the public, but Koduri did not say that Mantle is completely dead. It will live on, albeit in a seemingly reduced role. The company will be making a 450-page programming guide available later this month as a sort ofsmall consolation prize. AMD hopes the guide gives developers the chance to see what Mantle could do and possibly generate ideas to be used in the future for other APIs.
The upcoming Battlefield: Hardline will still make use of Mantle, with AMD providing EA all the resources it can to make it a success. Koduri also said the openness of Mantle will broaden, but full details of that will come this Thursday at GDC 2015. Even though the Mantle SDK won't see a public release, AMD will still make it available for partners that register in the co-development and evaulation program to figure out APIs in the future. For everything else, there's DirectX 12 and glNext.
Mantle may be at its end, and while it never saw the major support the likes of DirectX and OpenGL garnered, it has been successful in some aspects. One in particular was getting DirectX and OpenGL to innovate and get with the times. AMD saw an inefficiency in how DirectX was using the CPU, which Mantle corrected. The upcoming DirectX 12 addresses that and other shortcomings, so in that regard Mantle was a success. GlNext hasn't been fully unveiled yet (should happen this week), so we'll have to see exactly what all that incorporates, but it's supposed to be a complete reworking of OpenGL to make it modern.
Mushkin first unveiled the STRIKER line of solid state drives at CES 2015. The STRIKER line is powered by the Phison PS3110-S10 quad-core SSD controller, offering read and write speeds up to 565MB/s and 550MB/s, respectively. The drives are available in capacities of 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB from authorized retailers such as Newegg. Director of Product Development Brian Flood described the drives stating, "STRIKER is aptly named for its purpose: to mark its place as the premier high-performance solid-state drive series. The STRIKER will allow its users to experience highly-accelerated application load times, boot performance, multimedia editing, and general usage."
Google is finally addressing the rumors that it was going to become a wireless carrier by confirming the speculation at the Mobile World Congress earlier today. Senior VP Sundar Pichai said the company would enter the market on a "small scale" as a mobile network virtual operator (MNVO). As an MNVO, Google would purchase access from larger carriers like Sprint and then sell its own plans. Google will treat the new project as an experiment similar to the Nexus phone, with plans to expand the service likely contingent on its success. Pichai also mentioned that Google will launch its first drones as part of Project Titan later this year. Project Titan and Project Loon, which uses balloons instead of drones, are efforts to help spread Internet access to the more than four billion people without it.
You read the title correctly, Unreal Engine 4 is now free for everyone to download, and future updates will also be free. Previously the engine was available by a $19 per month subscription, but now anyone can use it and the various resources about it. This includes access to the source code. All Epic Games requires is a 5% royalty on gross revenue after the first $3000 is earned by a shipped game or application.
The reason behind this strategy change, as explained in the blog post linked below, is that Epic Games has been so impressed by the creativity of those using UE4 so far, that the company chose to remove the "last barrier to entry." When the company asked for projects to show off at this year's GDC, it received over 100 that were "good enough to show," but had to pick just eight. Current subscribers are going to be issued a pro-rated refund for their most recent month's payment, and everyone who has ever paid will receive a $30 credit to the Unreal Engine Marketplace.
A new week and a new month is here at last, with some items along the way to get your Monday started right. There is a review of the SilverStone Raven RV05 case, which once again features a unique internal configuration and an exterior design that resembles the first Raven. We also have a look at the Corsair Carbide Series 100R case, an inexpensive unit that still comes loaded with plenty of features. If you need a way to keep your CPU cool, then perhaps the Cooler Master Nepton 240M all-in-one liquid cooler is the one for you. For those in the market for a new keyboard, the Cooler Master NovaTouch TKL with its Topre switches provides a unique typing experience. Rounding out today's items is the Dell Venue 8 7000 Intel-powered Android tablet.
Efficiency is important for just about all electronics, and that is not going to change any time soon. In fact if we do see the Internet of Things become a reality, efficiency is going to be key to connecting all of our various devices and appliances. To that end, researchers at MIT have developed a way to significantly improve the efficiency of radio chips by reducing off-state leakage.
Semiconductors are interesting electronic materials as they possess both conductive and insulating properties, which can be switched on and off. Because they are not perfect insulators, the transistors made of them can leak some energy when they are in their off-state. To improve the insulating properties, the researchers push a negative charge into a wire running across the transistor, as this stops the electrons that would otherwise leak out. A charge pump is used to create the negative charge.
As you may have guessed, this negative charge does take some power to produce, but at the cost of 20 picowatts, some 10,000 pW can be saved. If devices are going to start having sensors and transmitters built in to build an Internet of things, such efficiency will practically be a necessity.
SanDisk has revealed its latest microSD card that packs a total of 200GB of storage, making it the highest capacity microSD card ever produced worldwide. According to SanDisk, the latest storage breakthrough was made possible by utilizing a proprietary design and production process that allows for more bits of memory per chip. Although the company did not reveal details of the production process, the ability to store 200GB of information on a device so small is quite a technological feat, since the latest microSD card offers 56 percent more storage than a 128GB microSD card, the highest capacity currently available. SanDisk notes that the card offers data transfer at up to 90MB per second, which is the equivalent to roughly 1,200 photos per minute, making it ideal for a wealth of applications.
The 200GB microSD card from SanDisk is expected to be available in the second quarter of this year and will retail for $400 at launch.
Phanteks, a developer of CPU coolers, fans, and chassis, has officially announced the Enthoo EVOLV ITX chassis, a Mini ITX case that fits directly within the EVOLV lineup in the Enthoo Series. The latest case by Phanteks, which is quite similar to the already available Enthoo EVOLV case, offers a minimalistic design along with a wealth of premium features, such as a side panel window, a metal exterior, multiple fan filters, top mounted radiator support, and a multi-functional mid plate bracket for a reservoir, pump, and SSD/HDD. The Enthoo EVOLV ITX, which measures 9.1 x 14.8 x 15.6-inches, supports videos cards up to 13-inches in length and comes included with one PH-F200SP fan and a front I/O port.
The Enthoo EVOLV ITX will be available to purchase sometime this month and features an MSRP of $79.99.
According to data listed within a new report by International Data Corporation, Android successfully claimed 81.5 percent of the global smartphone market last year. The report notes that Samsung shipped more units that the next five vendors combined, allowing the company to remain the top original equipment manufacturer of Android-powered smartphones. Last year alone, the mobile operating system by Google saw a total increase of 2.8 percent in regards to global market share. Despite Android dominating the smartphone market on a global scale for 2014, iOS was able to secure 14.8 percent market share, down slightly from its 15.1 percent share in 2013. Unfortunately for Windows Phone and BlackBerry, both did very poor overall, as the mobile operating systems only made up 2.7 percent and 0.4 percent market share for the global environment, respectively.
A recent rumor is now reality, as Valve has unveiled a new virtual reality called Vive. This VR headset is designed by HTC (dubbed a "strategic partnership" between the two) and will be available later this year, however a developer edition launches this spring to get games supported as fast as possible. The developer edition headset uses two 1200x1080 displays with a 90 frames per second refresh rate, which HTC says helps to eliminate jitter in order to produce lifelike scenes. The displays work together to give you a 360-degree field of view, with HTC claiming the Vive is the first headset capable of a "full room-scale" experience. Users can explore their environment by walking around, interacting with objects, and actually feel like they're in the virtual environment.
Each Vive headset has a gyrosensor, accelerometer, and laser position sensor to track your movement to give that full experience, with head movements tracked to within one-tenth of a degree. The headsets work in tandem with SteamVR, a base station that enables you to walk around the environment instead of moving a joystick. Movements are tracked in an area up to 15 feet by 15 feet, which should be plenty big enough for nearly any room it will be in. HTC does say the Vive is lightweight so wearing it for long periods of time won't tire out users, and while the developer edition features headphone jacks, the consumer edition may have built-in audio. Accomplishing that and staying lightweight will be interesting to see, but it looks like HTC and Valve are getting things figured out.
A pair of wireless controllers come with the developer edition (and presumably the consumer edition) to track hand movements, which can let you do tasks like opening doors and picking up objects to firing a weapon. The Vive is meant to enhance games, but it can also be used for other things, like watching movies or TV shows, or even navigating the Web to view concerts, museums, and more.
More information on the Vive virtual headset will be available during the Game Developers Conference, which runs all this week in San Francisco. HTC and Valve will have some units on hand for attendees to check out.
The prospect of materials being able to carry electrical currents without resistance has been of great interest to people for a long time now, but achieving it has proven very difficult. Superconductivity is a somewhat fragile state, as many things can disrupt it, so we need to find ways to either remove these disruptions, or control them. Researchers at John Hopkins University have done the latter by trapping electron vortices.
Electron vortices occur in superconductors when they are exposed to magnetic fields, and they can disrupt the resistance-free supercurrents as they move around. Along the edge of the superconductor, the vortices will be pinned in place, but in the bulk of a material it is much harder to stop them from moving. The researchers' solution to the problem was to make an aluminum nanowire, as it is mostly edges. This caused the vortices to become trapped on the edge and form a single row, which the supercurrent was able to avoid.
Besides demonstrating a way to stop these vortices from interfering, this research could also prove useful in other ways. Some day we could see the vortices used to transmit information, like how electrical charges are used today.
It is the end of the week and very nearly the end of the month, and we have a couple of items for you to check out to welcome in the weekend. There is a look at 20 of the worst PC setups seen during the month of February, with some that may leave you scratching your head at how it all somehow doesn't fall down during anything more than checking email. We also have a new podcast covering the latest news and reviews from the past week.