Back in February, NVIDIA unveiled the GTX TITAN Black, which offered increased clock speeds and performance over the original GTX TITAN. Today, at NVIDIA's annual GPU Technology Conference, the company unveiled the newest iteration, the GTX TITAN Z, which includes two Kepler GPUs (with 2880 processor cores apiece) and 12GB of 7Gbps GDDR5 memory.
According to NVIDIA, TITAN Z's GPUs "are tuned to run at the same clock speed, and with dynamic power balancing [...] so neither GPU creates a performance bottleneck." The company also claims it's "cool and quiet" with "low-profile components and ducted baseplate channels" to reduce turbulence and noise.
While the TITAN Z may seem like overkill for the normal user, it's geared toward "next-generation 5K and multi-monitor gaming." And of course, it comes with quite the hefty price tag: $2,999 (three times the price of a single TITAN Black). This is clearly not for your typical gamer, but you can't fault NVIDIA for really pushing the envelope.
ArenaNet will be releasing a Guild Wars 2 update on April 15 that focuses entirely on in-game features. Dubbed the April 2014 Feature Pack, it includes a variety of additions and changes, from new traits to balance changes. Arguably the biggest addition – at least of the ones announced thus far – is the inclusion of an Account Wardrobe.
The Wardrobe "makes it easy to customize your look at any time and to share cosmetic items across all the characters on your account." The Wardrobe is accessible in a tab on your Hero Panel and includes every armor and weapon skin you have unlocked on any character. Changing skins consumes Transmutation Charges, but you can preview them before applying them, and you can apply skins infinitely, so you can always change your look whenever you want.
To accommodate the new Wardrobe system, ArenaNet has changed skins to an account-wide unlock system. Account-bound items will automatically unlock their skin when they go into your inventory, while you'll be able to unlock other skins "by using consumables, equipping items, salvaging equipment, or right-clicking on equipment and account-binding it." In addition, if you have any current items that have gone through "skin progression," you'll unlock all the skins in that line of progression when you log into that character for the first time after the April 15 update. Check out the video and screenshots below for a more in-depth look at the new Wardrobe system.
We have just a couple items for you to check out today, but one should be rather interesting. It's a look at AMD Mantle performance in Thief and Battlefield 4, which has the potential to increase fidelity and make more efficient use of your CPU and GPU. If it actually does is something you'll just have to read the article to see. Our other item for today is a review on Icy Dock's Blizzard 3.5" SATA enclosure, which supports hot swap and plug-and-play functionality to give you plenty of flexibility when it comes to an external hard drive.
Maker Studios, which was founded in 2009 and focuses on online videos featured on YouTube, is set to be purchased by The Walt Disney Company for a minimum of $500 million. Maker Studios is able to deliver online videos to more than 380 million subscribers located across the world, and successfully receives around 5.5 million video views every month. Disney stated that depending on the milestones hit by Maker Studios before the purchase is completed, the price for the YouTube network could be as high as $950 million. Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, noted that because short-form online video is growing so quickly, the company is excited to enter the dynamic industry.
The purchase deal is expected to be completed during the third fiscal quarter for Disney.
After video features on the story, animating Batman, and keeping gameplay fresh, Game Informer has released a new video feature for Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Knight focused on the music. Rocksteady's audio director and composer Nick Arundel has worked on the previous two games and returns for Arkham Knight, but this time he recruited composer David Buckley to help him out, who has not only worked on other video games, but movies and television shows as well. In the video, Arundel explains what it's like to work on the Arkham trilogy and how the Scarecrow is influencing the new soundtrack.
Batman: Arkham Knight is set to release later this year for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
CRYORIG is a relatively new company in the PC cooling landscape and it is hoping to make a splash with the first entry into the C series of "ITX orientated top flow coolers." The C1 cooler will be paired with the XT140 slim 140mm pulse width modulation fan. It will be compatible with AMD APUs and CPUs as well as Intel processors. The C1 is set to release in May 2014 with more information expected to be available as the release date nears.
DirectX 12 (DX12) was officially unveiled last Thursday at GDC, and of course it has every PC gamer excited. Even though it's not scheduled to release until Holiday 2015, the biggest concern with any new major API release is whether it'll require new hardware to support it. During the GDC presentation, both NVIDIA and AMD took the stage to confirm DX12 support for existing cards, but just how true is that?
I had a chance to speak with representatives from NVIDIA today, who reconfirmed that all Fermi, Kepler, and Maxwell cards will support DX12. In other words, 100% of GeForce DX11 GPUs will already support DX12! You may recall that AMD didn't provide specifics at the GDC presentation and now I know why – according to NVIDIA, like AMD's Mantle, DX12 requires AMD's GCN architecture, which means only 40% of AMD DX11 GPUs will support DX12 (the same percentage that supports Mantle). Not the best news if you're a member of the red camp.
Also not the best news for the red camp is that Mantle seems doomed to fail now that DX12 has been officially unveiled. Proprietary graphics APIs have simply never been able to compete with the likes of DirectX because their footprint is much smaller. This is no more apparent than looking at the current breakdown from the recent Steam Hardware Stats. DX11 GPUs account for 78% of the total discrete GPU install base, with DX10 at 21% and DX9 at 1%. Of those DX11 GPUs, 79% support DX12, while only 14% support Mantle. How many developers will care to focus their efforts on Mantle when DX12 will have a much larger install base at launch?
So why does it seem NVIDIA is much better equipped to handle DX12 from the onset than AMD? While I am unsure of AMD's relationship with Microsoft, NVIDIA stated that DX12 is a "result of four years of collaboration between Microsoft and NVIDIA." Clearly that long-term collaboration and commitment is paying off. In fact, it was NVIDIA that provided Microsoft with a working DX12 driver to show off the world's first DX12 game demo, Forza Motorsport 5, which was running on a GTX Titan Black.
The good news for NVIDIA DX11 GPU owners is that we don't have to wait until Holiday 2015 to see some major performance improvements. A brand new NVIDIA driver will be publicly released in April that will improve performance dramatically across all DX11 games. Details are not yet available, but NVIDIA did release two benchmarks (one synthetic and one game) that show significant improvement, which can be seen below. Of course those should be taken with a grain of salt, considering the source, but it's certainly promising nonetheless.
Conquer Online, which is a free-to-play martial arts style MMORPG that is set within ancient Chinese lands, is welcoming a new expansion known as Wrath of the Trojan. Within this expansion, several new skills are available for all in game classes, and additional weapons are present in the land of Conquer as well. Players of Conquer Online: Wrath of the Trojan can obtain the new weapons, known more specifically as Epic Weapons, by playing through quests known as Epic Quests, which provide quite a bit of challenge.
In an announcement made by Google, its personal assistant known as Google Now has made its way into the Google Chrome web browser. The latest stable version of Google Chrome supports the service, and users will be able to see Google Now cards within the system tray or notification area of their operating system. Google Now within Chrome works basically the same as the mobile version, offering commute traffic information, event reminder cards, sport scores, voice search capabilities, weather, and more. Some information provided by Google Now within the Google Chrome web browser is actually based off of location information of mobile Android devices.
Users will be able to access Google Now within the latest stable version of Google Chrome throughout the next few weeks as the update makes it way to the masses.
Brendan Eich, who was the former CTO at Mozilla, has been named as the new CEO for the company. Eich replaces Gary Kovacs, who announced his resignation as the Mozilla CEO just around a year ago. Eich will be responsible for the Firefox web browser in his new position, and will also take on the mobile operating system known as Firefox OS. As the new CEO, Eich is attempting to develop and market smartphones that are powered by Firefox OS, with the mobile operating system being his main focus for the company going forward.
Boost Mobile has announced the availability of a new handset that supports 4G LTE, the LG Optimus F3. The new offering by Boost Mobile has been available on Sprint and Virgin Mobile since last summer, but consumers should find the budget phone refreshing with a price point of $129.99. The LG Optimus F3 features a 1.2GHz dual core processor, 1GB of RAM, a 4-inch display, a 5-megapixel camera, 4GB of internal storage, a 2,460 mAh battery, and Android 4.1. Consumers can use the phone on the Boost Mobile unlimited talk and text plan that comes with 2.5GB of data for $55 per month, which also qualifies for semi-annual price reductions for on time payments.
In today's culture, much of our communication utilizes written or more accurately, typed words in the form of tweets, updates, posts, and more. Throughout and even before human history though, our culture evolved with communication that used more than words, but also physical cues. Researchers at the University of Toronto have recently built a computer system capable of more accurately indicating when facial cues are false than actual humans.
With humanity's ability to read a person's emotions from facial cues, we have also developed ways to trick each other by putting on faces, not representative of our situation. When tested it was found that the average person is no more accurate about if someone is in pain or faking, than if they guessed. Even with training the numbers do not get much better, but the computer system was accurate 85% of the time. One of the primary indications of if someone was faking was how the mouth behaved, and if it opened and closed too regularly.
While this study may seem to do little more than indicate a sci-fi future controlled by robots, it could have some important, real impacts. These include systems to catch other deceptive actions than faking pain and perhaps could develop into ways to track how sleepy a driver is, how responsive treatments are for some disorders, and if students are actually paying attention during lectures.
Last month, we learned that Trials Fusion would be arriving April 16, 2014, on PC and consoles. When that game was first unveiled at Ubisoft's E3 2013 Press Conference, another Trials game was also announced, a mobile version entitled Trials Frontier. Today, Ubisoft has announced that Trials Frontier will be arriving April 10, 2014, on iOS as a free-to-play title, while an Android version will be available "at a later date." This marks the first time a Trials game is coming to mobile devices.
Trials Frontier takes place in a "future wild-west like environment, after the fall of the Trials Fusion universe." Connecting with Trials Fusion allows players to earn bonus rider gear – presumably for both games, though it wasn't specifically stated. As you'd expect from a Trials game, there will be leaderboards, along with the ability to share your favorite moments via social networks.
If you live in Canada or Finland, Trials Frontier is actually already available via an "early release, soft launch program."
Many people would like to see a future with advanced sensors built into clothing, with the sole purposes and monitoring someone's vital signs. Such technology could be used to monitor a patient and even assist in diagnosing. Researchers at North Carolina State University have recently developed a new stretchable antenna for those sensors, which should be able to survive the abuse such a sensor will take.
As many groups are working on wearable sensors, many are also working on stretchable antennas. What helps set the North Carolina researchers' antenna apart is that its simple construction could allow it to be integrated directly into the sensors. The antenna itself is made by applying silver nanowires to a stencil, and that then is coated with a polymer. Once the polymer has set, the nanowires will be embedded in the desired antenna pattern, and while straining the polymer will deform the antenna, relieving the stress will allow it to return to its original shape. Such deformation does affect the frequency the antenna puts out, but not enough to disrupt communication.
With this antenna's resilience, it could bring wearable electronics and sensors closer to reality, especially as it can be built into the sensor and is easy to scale up.
It's the start of the final week of March, and we have some items for you to check out to get it going. There's a review on the OCZ Vector 150 240GB SATA III SSD, which uses Toshiba's 19nm Toggle MLC NAND to provide consistent performance over the long run. We also have a look at the Roccat Kone Pure that makes use of a new laser sensor for higher sensitivity. Finishing things off today is a review on the Diamond Wireless Music Receiver, which uses Bluetooth to help get your tunes to wherever you need them in your home.
HighPoint has expanded its reach into further storage technologies with the release of the RocketStor 6328, a Thunderbolt 2 Hardware RAID adapter. Users will be able to take advantage of RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, and JBOD, giving the RocketStor the ability to accommodate a wide range of storage needs. The adapter provides an easy to use solution as it supports several connection options including two external Mini-SAS ports. These two ports can handle "8 SAS/SATA hard drives and SSD's, up to twenty when paired with SATA Port Multiplier capable drive enclosures, and as many as 128 via SAS Expander." The RocketStor will be available for purchase March 27 at an MSRP of $699.
A few days ago, Microsoft posted a list of 25 games coming to Xbox One through its ID@Xbox program, which allows indie developers to self-publish. A new "ID@Xbox: Games Preview" video showcases five of those games, along with developer interviews. In order of appearance, these games include Super Time Force by Capybara Games, Strike Suit Zero: Director's Cut by Born Ready Games, It Draws a Red Box (IDARB) by Other Ocean, Spectra by Gateway Interactive, and FRU by Through Games.
In yet another push to get Windows XP users away from the aging operating system that will cease to be supported as of April 8, 2014, Microsoft has announced that qualified consumers can earn up to $100 towards the purchase of a new PC. There are some restrictions to the offer of course, but the deal may spark enough interest to get some users onto the newest version of Windows. The deal applies to select computers available on the Microsoft Store that are priced at $599 or more and run Windows 8.1. Consumers can qualify for the $100 off promotion if they purchase one of these select computers at the online Microsoft Store from a qualifying Windows XP machine, or present a qualifying Windows XP computer during in-store purchases.
In total, the new offer from Microsoft includes $100 off of select PCs that are priced at $599 or higher, 90 days of free premium support, and free data transfer. While support for Windows XP machines will end on April 8, 2014, the promotional deal will end on June 15, 2014.
The music service offered by Twitter has only been available for a year, but download numbers have been reportedly abysmal since the launch of the service. In an announcement made by Twitter Music, which presents some of the best new music broadcasted on Twitter, the service is set to shut down next month. As of now, the iOS application for Twitter Music is unavailable from the Apple App Store for download, as it was removed yesterday. The application will continue to work for users who downloaded it, but only until April 18, 2014, which is when the shutdown is set to be final.
Recently, Microsoft announced that it would offer an Xbox One Titanfall bundle. That bundle has now been on sale for about a week and a half, and has remained a stellar value for gamers looking to buy the Xbox One gaming console. Now, Best Buy and Walmart have revealed that the same bundle is $50 cheaper online and in physical stores. Consumers who are looking to purchase the Xbox One Titanfall bundle can find the console and game combination for $450, which is now just $50 more than the PlayStation 4 offered by Sony. The new price is a special promotion being offered by Best Buy and Walmart and does not reflect an MSRP change or a wholesale pricing change by Microsoft for the bundle.
Remember last month's rumor that Far Cry 4 is set in the Himalayas? Well, according to Eurogamer, the Himalayas is indeed the locale for Far Cry 4, and will apparently feature rideable elephants. I also still maintain the belief that it'll feature yetis!
Far Cry 4 is not expected to release until the first half of 2015, but unsurprisingly, it'll be part of Ubisoft's E3 2014 press conference this June, according to one of Eurogamer's sources. No offense to those still holding tight to their last-gen consoles, but here's hoping it's PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One only!
Crytek's free-to-play mobile game The Collectables is now available for iOS, with an Android version coming soon. It's a third-person tactical combat, collectible card game (CCG) hybrid, and marks the first time Crytek's CRYENGINE has been used for a mobile game.
Players control a squad of four soldiers against a ruthless army known only as "The Enemy". Using a collectible card system, players can upgrade their soldiers or unlock new weapons and abilities, such as laying down turrets or launching artillery strikes. The narration in the official launch trailer below is very tongue-in-cheek, so don't expect some elaborate story – The Collectables seems to be all about putting you right into the action.
As a fan of other mobile hybrid-CCGs, WB's Injustice: Gods Among Us and Square Enix's Deadman's Cross, I have a feeling this will be another great, addicting time-waster. In fact, from the looks of it, it may very well turn out to be the best of the three.
The atom-thick sheet of carbon, graphene already has a number of amazing properties to it, including strength and electrical conductivity. As impressive its conductivity is though, superconductivity is still greater and has been observed with graphene, but not explained. Researchers at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have now found how graphene and calcium become a superconductor.
Called calcium intercalated graphite, or CaC6 is produced by interweaving calcium and graphite, which is a means of isolating sheets of graphene. About ten years ago it was discovered that this material could become superconducting, but neither the exact means nor the source material was known. Using an ultraviolet light beam the researchers found that electrons scatter between the calcium and carbon atoms, interacting with the vibrations of the material's atomic structure, leading them to pair up and then travel without resistance.
For some time researchers have been trying to bring superconductors to modern technology, and while this will help, any applications for superconducting graphene are many years away. The researchers have speculated about what some of these applications may be, including ultra-high frequency analog transistors, nanoscale sensors, electromechanical devices, and quantum computing devices.
Leaked images of a new Assassin's Creed game surfaced a couple days ago (which you can see below), but now we have solid confirmation – Assassin's Creed Unity has been officially announced for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, with a planned release of Holiday 2014. Ubisoft released a Sneak Peek Video that shows off some in-game footage of 18th century Paris:
Apparently this is just one of two Assassin's Creed games that will be released this year, with the other one coming to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, entitled or code-named Comet. It's unclear whether Comet would also come to PC. Keep in mind that the images below are from an early version of Unity and thus don't represent the final game's quality. The video above looks much better.
The weekend is almost upon us once again, with several items to help you get to it. Aerocool may not be as well known a company as others, but today we have a look at its DS Cube case that features a pretty stylish exterior and plenty of features to maybe be the home for your new system. We also have a sneak peak at four new Intel desktop CPUs coming out this year, which are a refresh of the current Haswell line; no new motherboard series required. If all you need is more storage, there's the Western Digital My Cloud 2TB Personal Cloud Storage device that should be pretty simple to hook up to your existing network. Lastly we have a couple of items from the Game Developers Conference going on now: AMD RapidFire and Cloud Gaming, and whether or not the upcoming DirectX 12 will work on Windows 7.
Last week, Square Enix published nine new screenshots for its supernatural detective thriller Murdered: Soul Suspect. Today, Square Enix has released a brand new trailer for the game, entitled "Buried", which introduces us to a new companion for protagonist Ronan, a medium named Joy. The trailer is narrated by Joy, as she explains a legend her mother once told her about the secret hidden within Salem. The trailer shows that Murdered will certainly feature its fair share of horror, mystery, and intrigue.
Murdered: Soul Suspect is launching on June 3, 2014, in North America, for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360. While a physical Limited Edition version of the game has been announced for Europe (see the image below), it seems like North America is being left out. That being said, pre-ordering does get you the interactive digital strategy map.
PayPal is one of the most popular online payment processors in the world, and is often used on a variety of sites, especially those that do business internationally. However, starting yesterday, PayPal has decided to bring the deals to you via the PayPal Spring Gaming Sale. Every Thursday, for eight weeks, the PayPal Gaming Sale page will bring you new deals for the week. Not only are there deals on a few games, but also discounts on gift cards from G2A.com and iTunes.
There is currently a lot of confusion, because simply going to paypal.com/gamingsale redirects you to the actual portal, which seems to often be directing people to the French site instead of the English site. And at least for me and quite a few others, the French site doesn't even have any deals listed, it's just a countdown timer stuck at zero. As such, to make things easier for my English brethren, the source link below is direct to the English version, which includes North America and Europe. If you're in another region, just try going to the aforementioned URL and hope it redirects you correctly.
The PayPal Spring Gaming Sale lasts from March 20 to May 15, 2014, but remember that the deals change each week.
Qik has announced that the mobile video sharing service will be shutting down on April 30, 2014. All Qik mobile phone applications will cease to exist once the shutdown occurs, and updates along with application store offerings will be unavailable. Since the service has been acquired and implemented by Skype, which is owned by Microsoft, users of Qik are expected to migrate over to Skype. Current Qik users will be able to use Skype for their audio and video calling, instant messaging, and video messaging after the Qik service service shuts down. Videos that are stored within Qik can be downloaded from the user dashboard and can then be backed up to any local or cloud storage device.
Those who have already paid for the premium version of Qik will receive a refund for any amounts that have already been paid after April 30, 2014.
Apple has released a new update for GarageBand for Mac that brings the music application up to version 10.0.2. The newest version brings back the ability to export music to MP3 format, which was originally removed from GarageBand in the initial release of version 10. Apple has made improvements to the music recording and editing program by implementing multiple enhancements to Accessibility while improving stability and addressing software bugs. GarageBand 10.0.2 also includes three new Drummers and drum kits from the rock, songwriter, and R&B genres.
The latest update for GarageBand is the second update for version 10, with the first being pushed out to users last November.
Recently, one of the largest bitcoin exchanges known as Mt. Gox revealed that it had lost over 744K bitcoins belonging to customers as well as 100K bitcoins of its own. The loss, which was reportedly caused because of a software algorithm flaw, Mt. Gox filed for United States bankruptcy in order to protect itself from lawsuits. The bitcoin exchange has now announced that it has found some of the bitcoins that it claimed it had lost initially. 200K bitcoins were located within an old wallet on March 7, 2014 by Mt. Gox. The found bitcoins have been reported to attorneys and have been moved into an offline storage account for safe keeping.