It is reasonable to say that many are interested to see what AMD's next GPU lineup is going to be like. While much of that focus is on the top end, there are going to be several lower GPUs released and some are already reaching add-in-board producers. Specifically the R7 300 GPUs are being seeded to these companies, and the ASUS STRIX Radeon R7 360X has been leaked. It features a Tobago core and 2 GB of GDDR5 memory. What is not yet known is if these are new cores or rebrands of older GPUs.
The week keeps rolling along, with several items for your viewing pleasure. There is a review of the Scythe Mugen Max SCMGD-1000 CPU cooler, which uses six 6mm heat pipes and a design that splits the heat sink into nearly four separate towers. We also have the Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB PCIe SSD that has read speeds of 1400MB/s and write speeds of 1000MB/s. If you need better control in your games, then perhaps the Corsair Gaming Sabre Optical RGB gaming mouse is the one for you. Wrapping up today's items is the ASUS EeeBook X205TA, a low-cost laptop with a quad-core Intel Atom processor and an 11.6" screen.
Battery technology is important all over the world, so a great many are working on ways to advance the field. One of the ways of doing this is to change the chemistry involved and move away from lithium ions, to something more potent. This is what researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have been working towards, by replacing lithium with magnesium.
Lithium ions possess a single positive charge, which translates to a single electron that a battery can release or store. Magnesium ions though have two positive charges, so a magnesium-ion battery would have double the energy density and power. Actually creating a magnesium-ion battery is not easy, but the Illinois researchers have made an important step by successfully swapping them in for lithium in part of a battery. It is important to show that magnesium ions can move in and out of the electrodes of a battery like lithium ions already do, before a battery can be realized, and that is what the researchers have achieved.
What the researchers have built is still only part of a battery, but it demonstrates the reaction we would find in a battery. Obviously more work needs to be done to reach that goal, but you can believe many are going to take this research and run with it.
According to the official website for Project CARS, the game has just went Gold ahead of its May 7, 2015 release. Ian Bell, the Head of Studio at Slightly Mad Studios, stated that "We know the wait of the game has been long but we're confident the quality and realism level we have achieved will provide our fans with the game they have all been expecting and we look forward to seeing you on the track." Screenshots from the final build of Project CARS have been shared by Reddit user "darkdeus," and the level of detail and realism that the video game title provides is absolutely amazing.
Additional details and images surrounding Project CARS can be found by clicking on the links below.
Heroes of the Storm is Blizzard's entry into the popular Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre that already features favorites such as Dota 2 and League of Legends. The game has been in a limited beta for a while and Blizzard has finally revealed when the game will be officially released. An open beta will launch on May 19 to help put the finished touches on before the June 2 release date. At launch players will have access to 30 characters from the Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo universes with seven battlegrounds. Multiple game modes including Cooperative and Quick Match will be available to appeal to players of different skill levels, perhaps giving it more appeal than games with a high learning curve, such as Dota 2. Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime described the game stating, "We've built Heroes of the Storm in a way that makes it accessible to new players, but also challenging enough for veterans who really want to put their skills to the test. We can't wait to see what Heroes brings to the co-op and competitive scenes once the Nexus opens up to everyone."
Soon after Grand Theft Auto V arrived, NVIDIA made it known that two of its GameWorks technologies were showcased in Rockstar's title. Both Percentage Closer Soft Shadows (PCSS) and TXAA are utilized and help give the game a boost. AMD wanted to announce that its Contact Hardening Shadows (CHS) were also used, and that GTA V is part of its Gaming Evolved initiative. However, that last part isn't entirely accurate, as GTA V is not a part of Gaming Evolved, but it still uses CHS. So, AMD basically lied about its involvement with GTA V, which probably wasn't the smartest move on its part. Having CHS included is a good thing, but lying about the game being part of Gaming Evolved is not.
The Hi-Fi B85S1 is the latest motherboard from BIOSTAR, built on the B85 chipset with support for fourth generation Intel i7 and i5 socket 1150 processors. The Micro ATX board has two DDR3 slots, one PCI-e 3.0 slot, four SATA3 ports, and Gigabit Ethernet. BIOSTAR Hi-Fi functionality targets entertainment needs with a built-in headphone amplifier, built-in HDMI, and 24 bit audio output at 192KHz. The Hi-Fi B85S1 will have an MSRP of $59.
Patriot has announced the addition of M2 form factor solid state drives to the Ignite lineup. The new drives are "optimal for use in portable devices such as ultrabooks, notebooks and ultra-compact PC’s providing impeccable start up times, instant access to data and installed programs." The drives are powered by a Phison S10 controller and boast read and write speeds up to 560MB/s and 320MB/s, respectively, with up to 90K read and 70K write Input/Output Operations Per Second. The Ignite M2 will be available in capacities of 240GB and 480GB at prices of $109.99 and $209.99, respectively. VP of engineering Les Henry described the new drives stating, "With the Ignite M2, Patriot now offers a full range of SSDs, from 2.5“ SATA 3, to mSATA and now M.2. The Ignite M2 drives are the perfect storage solution for those looking to build/upgrade their small form factor PCs."
Something you may not realize when looking at them is that solar panels and digital cameras operate in very similar ways. Both technologies rely on photodiodes to convert light to an electrical current, but while one uses the current for power, the other measures it for optical information. Researchers at Columbia University decided to combine these two purposes and built a camera that is actually able to power itself.
The camera is housed in a 3D printed body, consists of 40 x 30 pixels, and each pixel is made up of just two transistors. When in operation, the pixels switch between image capture and energy harvesting modes, charging capacitors to provide the necessary power. The researchers could have used a rechargeable battery instead, but opted for capacitors to better demonstrate the self-powered design. If the camera is not set up to record images, it can be used to power other devices.
The hope for this first fully self-powered video camera is to lead to camera capable of running for very long durations, or even forever, as it is not reliant on an external power source. It could also be developed into a compact solid-state imaging chip.
It is time for another rumor concerning the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti video card, with some new information about when it will debut. The 980 Ti is said to use the GM200 core like the TITAN X and Quadro M6600, but a cheaper variant with higher clock speeds, only 6GB of VRAM, and a price in the $600-700 range. A past rumor put the 980 Ti as arriving in September, but now it may be much sooner, with the card launching towards the end of May. Something like the third week of May or so. NVIDIA and its partners apparently plan to showcase the card during Computex in June, with custom variants and more on display. But if the 980 Ti launches a week or two before Computex, it may be reviews arrive in May, and then the card proper once Computex rolls around. Or the 980 Ti really will arrive near the end of May, NVIDIA shows it and more off at Computex (possibly "Metal Enhanced" and water-cooled versions), and then AMD launches its R9 390/390X later in June.
Whatever NVIDIA may be planning, we should all hear something by Computex at the very latest. Computex runs that first week of June, so hopefully things are a lot clearer then.
In the middle of this year, Intel is planning to release the 5th generation Broadwell Socketed CPUs for desktops. Broadwell CPUs are already available and used in devices, but this will be their first appearance for the desktop platform. They will come in two series, with one being soldered BGA chips and the other being the unlocked C-Series. The two socketed CPUs will have 65 W TDPs and feature Iris Pro graphics.
It appears they may have been an accident at AMD when the highlights were compiled for the Catalyst 15.4 Beta drivers. These are the drivers released with GTA V optimizations and apparently also a Crossfire profile for DiRT 4, which has been teased but not officially announced yet. According to the driver's highlights, some configurations may experience poor performance. Naturally the speculation now is that an announcement will be coming soon.
Things are not looking good for AMD right now, as the company recently posted a first quarter loss of $180 million. That boils down to $73 million once adjusted, and when compared to last year's first quarter when AMD had $35 million in adjusted earnings, it could be better for the red team. Revenue fell 26% percent to $1.03 billion in the first quarter, compared to $1.4 billion the same time last year. It has $906 million of cash and equivalents in hand, which is $134 million less than it had the fourth quarter of 2014. Divisions across the company all reported losses, with the Computing and Graphics segment seeing a revenue drop to $532 million from $861 million; and the Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom division having revenues drop to $498 million from $536 million, which could be another reason why it's now focusing on traditional servers. As well, AMD is expecting a 3% revenue drop in the second quarter.
A new week is here and we have a couple of items to help get it started right. There is a review of the BitFenix Aegis micro-ATX computer case, a uniquely designed case that has a big window and plenty of room for water cooling. Plus it can come in a yellow and black color scheme that looks really good together. Our other item for the day is the Samsung SM951 512GB PCIe SSD, which offers read speeds of 2150MB/s and write speeds of 1500MB/s, all without the support of NVMe.
While NVIDIA and AMD have been competitors for years upon years, with each graphics card manufacturer releasing flagship products at critical times to boost their respective market share, it looks like NVIDIA is dominating the arena quite heavily. According to a graph compiled by Beyond3D’s member "dbz," NVIDIA currently controls 76 percent of the GPU market with AMD holding only 24 percent. The graph, which is compiled from aggregated quarterly reports, mainly from Mercury Research with fillers from JPR, effectively shows that at present time three out of four gamers purchase an NVIDIA GPU.
According to Fatih Özbayram, a producer at Crytek, the company is currently working on a demo for E3 2015 that will be quite amazing. While details surrounding the demo are definitely limited, Özbayram did reveal on Twitter that people will like it once it is revealed at the Los Angeles Convention Center between June 16 and June 18, 2015. It is unknown at this time if Crytek is going to build off of its "Back to Dinosaur Island" demonstration that it showcased at GDC 2015, which utilized the infamous CryEngine along with the popular Oculus Rift, or if the company is going to showcase a new and immersive environment.
From track pads to touchscreens, touch-based interfaces are around us every day, somehow improving how we connect and use a device. Sometimes our hands are filled though, or cannot reach for our phones or laptops, so some other solution is needed. Researchers at MIT may have come up with just such a solution by building a trackpad the size of a thumbnail.
Named NailO, the device consists of a capacitive sensor and corresponding chip, microcontroller, Bluetooth radio, and small battery. At first the sensor was made of copper electrodes printed onto flexible polyester sheets, but later these were replaced with off-the-shelf sheets already used in some trackpads. All of these were designed to fit on our thumbnail, where a user can comfortable reach and use it. As the thumbnail is hard and lacks nerve endings, it can be affixed and used without causing any discomfort.
Obviously the technology has applications for subtly controlling devices, but it will likely find other uses as well. It really depends on how we decide to interact with devices in the future.
During AMD's recent earnings call, an interesting piece of information slipped out concerning Microsoft's upcoming Windows 10. According to AMD's CEO, Lisa Su, Windows 10 is expected to arrive by the end of July, which is something the company believes may delay back-to-school deals/bundles/promotions. This is the first time anything definitive has been associated with the release of Windows 10, as so far Microsoft has only said a summer release is likely. The end of July would certainly put it within that time frame, and would mean the arrival of DirectX 12, Project Spartan, and an overall unified OS, plus hopefully one more friendly to gamers. We'll just have to see if this proves to be true and how soon Microsoft will come out with some kind of statement concerning the release, but either way, we shouldn't have too much more to go to get our hands on Windows 10.
It is certainly true that there are some games in my library that I play just for fun, but there are also some, I would say go farther. Apparently this is not unique to me as researchers at Penn State have come to the same conclusion in a recent study.
The study took 512 gamers and split them into two groups. Both groups were asked to rate their perceptions about a game they played, but as one group had a particularly fun game, the other had a more meaningful game. The two groups agreed the games were fun to play, but those playing the more meaningful game appreciated the experience more.
This finding is probably not that surprising, but may still be important, to show that video games do have a place with other media forms, for giving the consumer a meaningful entertainment experience that is deeply appreciated. Given the interactive nature of video games, the experience could be even stronger, compared to books or movies. While there is nothing wrong with just silly, fun games, this shows that it can be worth it for developers to create the emotional stories and narratives of some games.
AMD acquired SeaMicro in 2012 to "tackle the dense server market which was believed to be major future growth opportunity at the time." Dense servers are also known as micro servers and use a large number of small, low power CPUs to provide computing power rather than high power, more powerful CPUs. As of yesterday, AMD has decided to exit the micro server market to return its focus to traditional servers and as a result will take a "$75 million special charge." AMD only released a single product as a result of the SeaMicro acquisition and will maintain the intellectual property rights from the acquisition to "use it in products where it’s of benefit."
Star Wars Celebration has been going on since yesterday, and with it has come plenty of news. A new teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrived yesterday, and today the first game footage reveal for Star Wars: Battlefront. Whereas The Force Awakens is set years after the original trilogy, Battlefront is set during those movies, with the intense fighting between the Empire and the Rebellion boiling over into assorted battles. The action in the trailer below starts us off on the Forest Moon of Endor, with speederbikes soaring through the trees and Rebel soldiers trying to take them down. One speederbike crashes into a tree right before an AT-ST appears. Soldiers run for cover to avoid the laser blasts, and then two of the soldiers drop down a portable shield before one takes flight with a jetpack. The AT-ST explodes, but then an even more dreaded sight appears: an AT-AT. Luckily some Y-Wings are on hand to lay waste, yet the soliders now have to contend with Darth Vader.
Once the Dark Lord of the Sith appears, we get treated to footage on different planets (Hoth, Tattooine, and the volcanic Sullust), with X-Wings, TIE Fighters, Boba Fett, and even the Millenium Falcon appearing. It looks impressive, especially when you consider the trailer starts with "GAME ENGINE FOOTAGE" across the bottom. Hopefully this all translates well to the final product, but for now we just have game models, screenshots, and the gameplay trailer to go off of.
Star Wars: Battlefront does not feature space battles, sadly, but does have dogfights in the planets' atmosphere. There will also be no prequel vehicles, characters, or anything else from that era; this is original trilogy through and through, with some parts from The Force Awakens, too. Nor will it make use of Battlelog, which some people may be happy to see. Gamers can play the game in either first or third-person mode and switch between the two whenever they choose. Battles are 20 vs 20 matches, with yes, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and other heroes/villains being playable, just like in the previous games. There is also a co-op mode called Battlefront Missions to play with a friend via split screen or online, although full details aren't quite ready for that.
Star Wars: Battlefront arrives on November 17, 2015, for the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, just like last night's leak predicted. There is a DLC called Battle of Jakku that takes us to the planet seen in yesterday's The Force Awakens trailer, with that desert planet being called Jakku. It will be available on December 1 for anyone who pre-orders Battlefront regardless of platform, with December 8 for anyone who did not pre-order. A Deluxe Edition is also planned to arrive, which contains instant access to five in-game items: three weapons (DL-44 Blaster, Ion Grenade, and Ion Torpedo) and two emotes. The Deluxe Edition will set you back $69.99, while the regular copies are $59.99.
The last day of the week is here, with plenty along the way for you to check out. There is a look at the ASUS Strix 7.1 gaming headset, which uses HDMI to connect to a unique base station to control all your various audio settings. We also have a roundup of various M2 SSDs that connector over PCIe, with one even being a new NVMe from Samsung. Grand Theft Auto V arrived earlier this week, and if you're wondering how it will run on assorted hardware, you're in luck as we have a review for you. There's a new case mod that isn't really in a case, but rather a wall mounted PC. Lastly there's a new podcast covering the latest news and reviews from the past week.
Never expect anything to be simple in quantum mechanics, but then somethings in classical mechanics can be very complicated as well. Temperature is one such example as that simple value describes absurdly complex and chaotic activity. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have at long last succeeded in studying how gases behave with temperature, when their quantum properties are brought out.
The molecules in the air around us are zipping around and bouncing off of each other and other objects so much that it would be impossible to track them all, but luckily scientists do not have to, in order to describe them. Instead they rely on statistical physics to determine the properties of the entire gas, but this has led to the question of how one gets from statistical mechanics to quantum mechanics. To answer that, the Vienna researchers used a microchip to catch and cool several thousand atoms to a little above absolute zero, to bring out their quantum properties. By manipulating the chip, the quantum gas could be manipulated as well, and the researchers found the gas could take on multiple temperatures at the same time. Though predicted, this behavior has never been observed before.
For now this research should lead to an improved understanding of quantum mechanics and its relationship to thermodynamics. Someday it may lead to new technological applications as well as how our classical laws of physics emerge from those of quantum mechanics.
A new campaign has been announced by Mushkin Enhanced MFG, an industry-leading designer and manufacturer of high-performance and mission-critical computer products. The campaign, which is known as "TAKE CONTROL," is centered on the popular Ghost Recon Phantoms video game title from Ubisoft. On May 1, 2015, Mushkin plans on revealing a new mystery addition to their hardcore gamer-ready product line up that will allow gamers to keep the enemy at bay. Nicolas Villalobos, the Director of Global Marketing at Mushkin, stated that "For years now we have been the best bang for your buck memory and SSD manufacturer and I am excited to announce our latest additions on May 1st."
Interested gamers and consumers can find additional information on the campaign's official website.
Electronic Arts has revealed that Madden NFL 16, the 27th edition of EA Sports' annual football franchise, will be available to consumers starting on August 25, 2015. The game is currently being developed by EA Tiburon, which is based out of Orlando, Florida, and is expected to come to current and previous generation gaming consoles upon release, though no official word has been given on specific platform support.
Yesterday came the first look at Star Wars: Battlefront's Stormtrooper in-game model, which shows an impressive level of detail. Today there's something a little different, as apparently the game's release date has been leaked. When you point your browser to the Star Wars: Battlefront website and examine the source code on the News & Media section, one line stands out in particular: "Available November 17, 2015 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC." That date doesn't appear on the website itself because it's a hidden description, just it probably should have been hidden a little better. Or at the very least, not even put into the website's source until after tomorrow, presumably. The date has since been removed, but you can see it for yourself in the screenshot below.
So, November 17, 2015, it is for the new Battlefront, at least for now. EA and DICE will be showing off the first gameplay of Battlefront during Star Wars Celebration tomorrow, which I imagine is when the release date will be official. If it holds out, Star Wars: Battlefront will be out around a month before Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters. Perfect way to build up hype even more for Episode VII.
The Bing search engine from Microsoft now has a 20.1% share of the United States search market, passing the 20% mark for the first time. The rise of Bing has come largely at the expense of Search Alliance partner Yahoo, which is down to a 12.7% share. Yahoo was last above a 20% share the month before Bing was released in June 2009. Google remains the top search engine with a 64.4% share.
Koolance has officially introduced its GeForce GTX TITAN X water block and the accompanying functional back plate. The water block from Koolance is comprised of nickel-plated copper, and features a POM-acetal top, stainless steel inserts, and nickel-plated brass fittings, ensuring optimal thermal performance and longevity. The water block effectively cools the PCB, including the GPU, the VRM, and the memory chips. The back plate is made up of copper and has incorporated heat dissipating ridges, which further improve cooling performance.
The water block from Koolance, model VID-NXTTNX, features an MSRP of $129.99. The accompanying back plate, model ACC-PLTNXTTNX, features an MSRP of $34.99.
One of the many uses of machine learning is computer vision, whereby a computer analyzes a scene and identifies the objects in it, without them exactly matching known models. Building these algorithms can requires thousands of lines of code, but some are turning to probabilistic programming languages to simplify the work. In the case of the Picture language MIT researchers developed, those thousands of lines can be simplified to less than 50.
Probabilistic programming differs from deterministic programming by being based more on inference, which fits well with machine learning. Instead of requiring very specific descriptions, programmers can describe a vague model that the program runs through inference schemes to solve, using inverse-graphics reasoning. The MIT researchers have tested Picture by giving it the simple description of the human face as having two symmetrically placed eyes, with the nose and mouth positioned beneath them. Armed just with that knowledge and examples, the program was tasked with working through 2D images to construct 3D models, and was able to match the thousand-line programs, and in some cases surpass them.
Technically more code than 50 lines is involved behind Picture, as it draws on multiple inference algorithms, but the model for the task itself is still much simpler. This is actually one of the purposes of probabilistic programming languages, where the language is generic and can be used with many inference algorithms, depending on the task.
Razer, a world leader in high-performance gaming hardware, software, and systems, has launched the BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma. The latest gaming keyboard from Razer is simply a refresh of the already available BlackWidow Chroma, as it features the same switches and RGB lighting support but ditches the numpad, which reduces its size by roughly six inches. Being tenkeyless, the BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma is able to fit in areas that are limited on space, and is actually better suited to be a mobile keyboard solution for gamers.
The BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma comes with a hard carrying case and is available for immediate purchase, costing consumers $140.