Tuesday March 28th, 2017
| Late last year Razer resurrected its Blade Pro laptop line, finally stuffing it with hardware worthy of the “Pro” appellation. Our three-word review: We loved it. It’s a great machine, if you can afford it.
And now it’s a bit better, thanks to the standard year-over-year refresh. Razer released details on a new Blade Pro today—it’s keeping Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080, but moving over from an Intel i7-6700HQ at 2.6GHz to an overclockable i7-7820HK processor at 2.9GHz. The Blade Pro’s 32GB of RAM also gets a timing bump up to 2,667MHz (from 2,133MHz).
The really interesting news though: The Blade Pro is now the first-ever laptop to receive THX Mobile Certification, “an accreditation reserved for high-performance mobile phones, tablets, and laptops.” From the press release:
“Through the processes of THX, the Razer Blade Pro screen is calibrated and tested for resolution, color accuracy and video playback performance...Similarly, the audio jack on the new Razer Blade Pro met THX requirements for voltage output, frequency response, distortion, signal-to-noise ratio, and crosstalk that guarantees clear sound through headphones.”
It’s worth noting that only the headphone jack is THX-certified, not the built-in speakers—an important point, I think, given people usually associate THX with surround sound systems. While the Blade Pro’s speakers are certainly better than your average laptop's, they’re still not amazing by any means.
We could also debate all day about the usefulness of THX certification. Is your non-certified Blade Pro from six months ago suddenly a decrepit old hag? Not at all. Razer’s even using the same 4K IGZO display on this new THX-certified laptop as it did on the 2016 model—just calibrated slightly differently, and with (presumably) a big ol’ THX stamp on the box. So yeah, this is a bit of a marketing win more than anything else.
On the other hand it does prove the Blade Pro is one hell of a laptop. A THX representative confirmed to me that competing laptops have undergone testing, but Razer’s is the first to meet the standards of this new Mobile Certification program. That makes it somewhat-objectively the best laptop in the world for the moment, at least by THX’s standards—meaning as far as the display and headphone jack are concerned.
Is that useful? I don’t know. The display is certainly an important aspect with laptops, so THX Mobile Certification isn’t a wholly made-up honorific. Still, it does seem of limited use to tech nerds—no consideration given to internal hardware, benchmarks, or anything we usually use to compare laptops. The Blade Pro is THX-certified to be easy on the eyes, and that’s about it.
I guess you’ll have to keep reading our PCWorld reviews for the full picture.
Source: PC World
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 11:13 AM
Monday March 27th, 2017
| If you’ve ever boiled with inner turmoil at the failure of your Android device to recognize an “OK Google” command, you know AI speech recognition and natural language processing still have a long way to go. In many ways, it’s symptomatic of taking a disembodied, top-down approach to language that treats words as sounds, rather than experiences. However, the folks at the OpenAI group (of Elon Musk fame) have made new strides in creating an AI that uses grounded, compositional language the way we do. This is both inspirational — what could be the dawn of new era in communication — and more than a little alarming.
To better appreciate the departure this research represents, it’s important to understand the relevance of grounded, compositional language, as opposed to the canned responses offered up by Siri or Google Assistant. For decades, a faction of AI researchers have insisted that in order for AI to ever achieve something like common sense and an ability to communicate in a non-rigid fashion, it would need some form of embodiment – that is, some experiential loci from which to view and interpret its surroundings. The concept of grounded language follows from this principle and implies the ability to connect words and their meaning with someone’s individual experiences.
This is an important distinction. Imagine a blind person who has never seen the color blue interpreting the word’s meaning in a sentence. They have no reference beyond the way other people have used the word “blue” before. This could be likened to how Siri or Google Assistant responds to a query – there is no experiential basis behind the response. A grounded use of language stems from an an entities personal experiences. This is precisely the kind of language adopted by the agents in the OpenAI research project.
Compositional language, on the other hand, denotes the ability to string together multiple words to form more complex meanings. Certain monkeys for instance have different warning calls they use to differentiate between a snake and a bird of prey. But their language cannot be termed compositional, because they will never string these together to form more complex meanings, such as “the bird is carrying the snake.” The language developed by the AI agents at OpenAI, though still simple by human standards, represents advancement beyond almost anything seen in the animal kingdom.
Even more amazing, the researchers never explicitly programmed this AI communication. Instead, it “evolved” as a response to a reinforcement learning problem. While the jargon can get a bit technical, the OpenAI blog does a decent job of parsing it. The important thing to grok is the language was never defined, but rather hit upon as a solution to a general problem of learning to communicate. This type of AI method is called reinforcement learning, and involves the use of a reward signal to continually guide the agent towards an optimum outcome. It can be likened to the difference between giving someone a map up a hill, and handing them an altimeter and saying don’t stop hiking until you reach a maximum altitude. One approach lends itself to a single path, the other to a galaxy of alternatives.
It’s not surprising, therefore, that AI agents developed some truly weird methods of communication – for instance, one in which the length of the spaces between communications came to represent different meanings, not unlike Morse code. At the moment, the AI language is completely non-human, with no English equivalent. And while there has been some talk of creating a translation tool to make the language readable in English, I think it’s worth simply marveling at the weirdness of these new communications. They may represent the closest thing to an alien language we have thus far encountered.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 10:21 AM
Thursday March 9th, 2017
| Nvidia’s mighty Titan has fallen, as it always does.
Jaws dropped when the second-gen Titan X stomped onto the scene in August, and for more reasons than one. The monster graphics card was the first to ever flirt with consistently hitting the hallowed 60-frames-per-second mark at 4K resolution with everything cranked to 11—but that privilege cost a cool $1,200. Fast-forward five months: Nvidia’s teasing the GTX 1080 Ti as the “ultimate GeForce” card, with more performance than the Titan X for just—“just”—$700. That’s what the GTX 1080 Founders Edition cost at launch, and Nvidia says the Ti stomps the base GTX 1080.
Graphics-card lust truly is the cruelest obsession.
But does the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti live up to Nvidia’s hype? Is this the 4K-capable graphics card that gamers flush with tax-return money have been waiting for?
Yes. Oh my, yes. Let’s dig in.
Source: PC World
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 1:18 PM
Tuesday March 7th, 2017
| He has a new challenge as AMD's server chief: to bring back the glory days of chipmaker's server business, which is now in tatters. A mega-chip called Naples, which has 32 cores and is based on the Zen architecture, will be the first test of AMD's return to the server market.
Source: PC World
Posted By Almost Tactf @ 11:33 AM
Thursday March 2nd, 2017
| Admit it. You love underdog tales. The Cleveland Cavaliers coming back from a 3-1 deficit against the Golden State Warriors. The New York Giants defeating the 18-0 New England Patriots, and the Average Joes beating the heavily favored Purple Cobras in the dodgeball finals.
Well, you can now add AMD’s highly anticipated Ryzen CPU to that list of epic comebacks in history. Yes, disbeliever, AMD’s Ryzen almost—almost—lives up to the hype. What’s more, it delivers the goods at an unbeatable price: $499 for the highest-end Ryzen 7 1800X, half the cost of its closest Intel competitor.
But before AMD fanboys run off to rub it into Intel fanboys’ faces, there’s a very important thing you need to know about this CPU and its puzzling Jekyll and Hyde performance. For some, we dare say, it might even be a deal breaker. Read on.
Source: PC World
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 10:03 AM
Wednesday March 1st, 2017
| One of key detractors for a complete immersion into virtual reality experience is the presence of cables which hinder your digital movement. Hence, the question for the VR industry is… what is freedom and how one becomes free? If you ask that question to someone from MSI, he or she would just smile and gave you something… backpack alike. You would than realize that suddenly it’s possible to have your cake and eat it too. It is possible to hunt dragons next to your sleeping girlfriend or boyfriend without waking her (or him). Actually, not just one pack but several big, ugly packs of dragons.
What comes next is to ride off into sunset – what an awesome bag this is. During the Tokyo Game Show 2016, MSI announced “world’s first-ever VR Backpack,” the MSI VR One. We view this proclamation as somewhat funny, given that HP announced its OMEN backpack in May, followed by Alienware on E3 2016 (June) and XMG from Schenker Technologies announced their product on Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. Then again, MSI is the only backpack available for purchase.
Source: VR World
Yeah, I don't see this catching on.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 6:55 AM
As we close out the second day of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, Nvidia has revealed that a new high-end graphics card will arrive on the market next month.
The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti will the be the firm's fastest gaming GPU to date based on the Pascal architecture. The GTX 1080 Ti comes with 11GB of GDDR5X memory and offers impressive specifications that delivers "up to 35 percent more performance of the GTX 1080".
Some of the finer details of the card lie below:
Massive Features for Massive Performance:
• The GTX 1080 Ti includes 3,584 NVIDIA® CUDA® cores and a massive 11GB frame buffer running at an unheard of 11Gbps. It delivers up to 35 percent faster performance than the GeForce GTX 1080 and up to 78 percent faster performance than the GTX 1070.(1) The GTX 1080 Ti is even faster than the NVIDIA TITAN X Pascal, its $1,200 big brother that was designed for deep learning and artificial intelligence.
• Next-Gen Memory Architecture: GTX 1080 Ti is the world's first GPU to feature Micron's next-gen G5X memory. 11GB of G5X memory running a blazing 11Gbps quad data rate delivers the most effective memory bandwidth of any modern gaming GPU. And it still has plenty of headroom for overclocking.
• Advanced FinFET Process: The GTX 1080 Ti is manufactured on the industry's cutting-edge FinFET process. Its 12 billion transistors deliver a dramatic increase in performance and efficiency over previous-generation products.
• Meticulous Craftsmanship: The GTX 1080 Ti runs as cool as it looks due to superior heat dissipation from a new high-airflow thermal solution with vapor chamber cooling, 2x the airflow area and a power architecture featuring a seven-phase power design with 14 high-efficiency dualFETs.
• Support for Advanced Graphics Technologies: 4K, VR, NVIDIA G-SYNC™ HDR and NVIDIA GameWorks™ offer interactive, cinematic experiences accompanied by incredibly smooth gameplay.
The new GeForce GTX 1080 Ti will be available from various partners with the Founders Edition being made available for pre-order starting on March 2 for a price of $699. The card will make its retail debut on March 10.
Posted By sysigy @ 3:29 AM
Tuesday February 28th, 2017
| The expected showdown between Radeon Vega GPUs and the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti at GDC on Tuesday won’t be a showdown after all. New technical details about AMD’s hotly anticipated enthusiast-class graphics cards were almost nowhere to be found during the company’s “Capsaicin & Cream” livestream—though Radeon head Raja Koduri did reveal that the brand name for Vega GPUs will indeed be “Radeon RX Vega,” rather than RX 490 or RX 580.
What a tease.
Koduri also showcased a brief Deus Ex: Mankind Divided demo that suggested that Vega’s high-bandwidth cache controller can increase average and minimum frame rates by 50 and 100 percent, respectively, in memory-limited games. Impressive! Another quick demo with AMD’s TressFX technology revealed that Vega’s rapid packed math feature could double compute rates, which let the demo render twice as many hair strands as a Vega system with RPM disabled.
But the majority of the event focused on the sort of nitty-gritty technical details befitting a Game Developers Conference—though some of the announcements benefit everyday gamers, too.
Most notable is a new technology deal with Bethesda, the publisher of Doom, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Dishonored, and more. While partnerships between graphics companies and developers have typically involved just a single, specific games, AMD’s deal with Bethesda spans multiple games across a range of series. The crux is primarily to implement Vulkan, the open DirectX 12 alternative that rose from the ashes of AMD’s Mantle technology, as well as “the computing and graphics power of AMD Ryzen CPUs [and] Radeon GPUs.”
Bethesda’s id Software worked closely with AMD to implement Vulkan and other technologies in Doom, and the results were nothing short of spectacular. It’s tantalizing to think of that technical expertise potentially supercharging Bethesda’s other series. We’ll have to see how it shakes out; no additional specifics were announced, though earlier this month rumors of Vega being tied to Bethesda’s ambitious Prey surfaced.
Radeon’s also fueling a more affordable rival to GeForce Now for PCs. LiquidSky, like GFN, allows you to stream full-blown PC games from its cloud servers to any PC, Mac, or Android device—even ones that couldn’t otherwise play games. And soon those servers will rely on Radeon Vega graphics, AMD announced, both to deliver higher performance and to split the capabilities of a single GPU among several users.
The rest of the announcements revolved around virtual reality. First, AMD’s unlocking some nifty VR technology tricks. Most notable is support for the HTC Vive’s async reprojection: This works somewhat similarly to the Oculus Rift’s Asynchronous Timewarp to reduce nausea-inducing judder when a game’s frame rate drops below 90 frames per second.
Nvidia graphics cards have supported async reprojection since the tech launched last November, but AMD needed to unlock new hardware features in Radeon cards. Whereas the Rift’s Timewarp utilizes the dedicated asynchronous compute engine hardware inside Radeon cards, the Vive’s async reprojection leans on graphics threads, and AMD’s implementation relies on ultra-fast preemption and context switching between those threads. Look for it to release sometime in March.
AMD is also adding support for forward rendering in virtual reality, because standard deferred rendering has a performance cost and doesn’t work nicely with MSAA antialiasing in VR. The newfound support will appear in version 4.15 of Epic’s widely used Unreal Engine 4.
Finally, some new virtual-reality games were exclusively revealed during AMD’s livestream, with the developers of each praising Radeon’s new forward-rendering technology. Sprint Vector, a new game by Survios, the creators of the wildly popular Raw Data, introduced a “unique intelligent fluid locomotion system”—a whole new way of moving in VR. Also on display: Overrun, an expansion for the ROM: Extraction game developed by a squad of Call of Duty veterans, and Reaping Rewards, a VR experience by Limitless Studios that explores “the emotional choices of a young Grim Reaper as you learn about life and death from your mentor.”
Hardware enthusiasts definitely won’t be left hanging at GDC 2017. During last week’s Ryzen launch event, AMD showed the first-ever Vega graphics card running in the wild. And it looks ****ed near certain that Nvidia will reveal the long-awaited GTX 1080 Ti at its own event later tonight, before those long-awaited Ryzen processors hit the streets on March 2.
Editor's note: This article was updated to include Vega brand info.
Source: PC World
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 5:07 PM
Thursday February 23rd, 2017
| Ryzen is here. AMD said Wednesday that it plans a “hard launch” of its first three Ryzen processors on March 2. The highly anticipated chips promise to outperform high-end parts from Intel and undercut their prices by as much as 54 percent.
AMD executives confidently unveiled the first three desktop chips to attack Intel’s Core i7, supported by several top-tier motherboard vendors and boutique system builders. In many cases, executives said, AMD will offer more for less, as early Ryzen benchmarks prove. The top-tier Ryzen 7 1800X will cost less than half of what Intel’s thousand-dollar Core i7-6900K chip does—and outperform it, too. You can preorder Ryzen chips and systems from 180 retailers and system integrators today.
Like Intel, AMD’s Ryzen offerings consist of three new chip families: the premium Ryzen 7, the midrange Ryzen 5, and the cheapest Ryzen 3. AMD is rolling out its fastest, premium Ryzen 7 chips first, including the Ryzen 7 1800X ($499), the Ryzen 7 1700X ($399) and Ryzen 7 1700 ($329). AMD’s Ryzen 5 and the Ryzen 3 will ship later this year—at the moment, AMD’s not saying exactly when.
Why this matters: About the only major aspect of Ryzen that AMD hadn’t yet disclosed was its price and availability. Analysts say AMD appears to have done its homework, leaving Intel in danger of giving up market share in the bread-and-butter PC microprocessors that built its company. But Intel has its ways: Possible responses include price cuts, additional chips with more cores, and promoting its new Optane technology, they said.
Source: PC World
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 5:17 PM
Wednesday February 22nd, 2017
| AMD's first Ryzen CPUs are finally here. This morning, the company is putting its highest-end chips up for pre-order. The Ryzen 7 1800X, the Ryzen 7 1700X, and the Ryzen 7 1700 will mark AMD's return to the high-performance desktop CPU market, and the company's final internal numbers ahead of launch suggest they'll mark a return to competitiveness, as well.
We're flying home with Ryzen review samples as of this writing. Independent review results are still under NDA, but these are the three CPUs that will mark AMD's return to competitiveness in the marketplace:
One of the most oft-repeated numbers from the lead-up to Ryzen has been AMD's goal of a "40% IPC increase" relative to its older processor generations. CEO Lisa Su claimes the company has not only met, but exceeded that goal with a 52% improvement.
Source: Tech Report
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 4:45 PM
Friday February 17th, 2017
| The annual Game Developers Conference usually maintains an intense software focus, but GDC 2017 seems to be shaping up as a hit for PC hardware enthusiasts, too. Both AMD and Nvidia have announced events taking place alongside GDC, and in fact, both are being held on the very same day—February 28.
First up: AMD, which is reviving the “Capsaicin” event that debuted at GDC 2016. Here’s what’s on tap, according to the event registration:
“The Capsaicin livestream kicks off at 10:30 a.m. from Ruby Skye, a feature-packed show highlighting the hottest new graphics and VR technologies propelling the games industry forward.”That sure makes it sound like more Radeon Vega graphics card details are on the way, doesn’t it? But don’t be surprised if AMD’s hotly anticipated Ryzen processors steal some of the spotlight, too.
A March 2 GDC session dedicated to the chips enticed developers with “Join AMD Game Engineering team members for an introduction to the recently-launched AMD Ryzen CPU followed by advanced optimization topics.” Recently launched, huh? That verbiage has since been scrubbed from the listing, but during a recent financial call, AMD CEO Lisa Su said that Ryzen will launch in early March. Considering all that, a Ryzen appearance at Capsaicin 2017 seems very possible indeed.
Source: PC World
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 7:33 PM
| If you thought the Ryzen hype train might start to slow down after weeks of leaks and rumors, think again. The closer we get to Ryzen's release (likely early March, with a possible announcement on February during AMD's Capsaicin event at GDC 2017), the juicier the leaks, it seems. Case in point, the latest bit of Ryzen news involves some interesting benchmarks of the Ryzen 5 1600X 6-core processor.
A quick recap is in order before we get to the numbers. AMD's Ryzen 5 1600X is one of 17 Ryzen SKUs AMD is expected to launch. The entire lineup will consist of 4-core, 6-core, and 8-core processors spread out between Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, and Ryzen 7 series. There will be eight Ryzen 5 processors evenly split between 4-core and 6-core processors. The Ryzen 5 1600X is the fastest of the 6-core lineup—it has a 3.3GHz base clockspeed and a 3.7GHz boost, along with 3MB of L2 cache.
With the launch being so close, it's a reasonable assumption that several Ryzen processors are out in the wild, hence today's round of leaked benchmarks. These results emerged on a Chinese-language web forum. One of them shows performance metrics from CPU-Z's built-in benchmarking utility. As you can see in the screenshot above, the chip is running with a core voltage of 0.374v. We can also observe that the processor's boost clock kicked in, with the CPU ramping up to 3.56GHz.
The Ryzen 5 1600X scored 1,888 in single-threaded performance and 12,544 in multi-threaded. Those are sort of meaningless numbers by themselves so we fired up the same benchmark and ran it with Intel's Core i7-5960X, an 8-core Haswell-E chip clocked at 3GHz to 3.5GHz; an older Core i7-4970K, a 4-core Devil's Canyon (Haswell) chip clocked at 4GHz to 4.4GHz; a Core i7-4960X, a 6-core Ivy Bridge-E processor clocked at 3.6GHz to 4GHz; and and a Core i7-6900K, an 8-core CPU clocked at 3.2GHz to 3.7GHz. To flesh things out, we also included a validated benchmark run from an Intel Core i7-5930K (6-core Haswell-E, 3.5GHz to 3.7GHz) that appears in CPU-Z's database, as it matches the Ryzen 5 1600X in core count and clockspeed.Here's how things shook out:
Source: Hot Hardware
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 7:00 PM
Monday February 13th, 2017
| Valve, which recently replaced the Steam Greenlight program with Steam Direct, is currently working on three virtual reality games.
Valve president and cofounder Gabe Newell did not reveal any details yet regarding the three upcoming VR titles, aside from the fact that they will be full-blown titles as opposed to being short and simple tech demos.
Newell made the statement in a media roundtable that was held at the company's headquarters last week. One other thing that he discussed during the session is how Valve is not interested in making games for consoles such as Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One at the moment.
Valve Not Interested In Making Console Games
For the previous generation of consoles, Valve released several titles, including Counter-Strike: GO, the two installments of Left 4 Dead, Portal 2, and The Orange Box. The current generation of consoles are performing better than their predecessors, but interestingly, Valve has not yet released titles for these consoles.
"We get really frustrated working in walled gardens," said Newell at the media roundtable, hinting at how restricted Valve's development teams are when working on games for consoles compared to PC titles.
Source: Tech Times
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 7:24 AM
Thursday February 2nd, 2017
| Researchers have developed a new type of blue-phase liquid crystal that could allow for computers monitors, televisions, and other displays to cram significantly more pixels into the same space while using less power than what's needed to run today's displays, The Optical Society reports. One of the big upsides to this would be the potential for better VR headsets.
The idea of a blue-phase LCD is not a new one. Samsung built a prototype nearly a decade ago, though the technology hasn't gained much traction since then because it requires a lot of voltage and has a slow capacitor charging time.
Undeterred, a team of researchers at the University of Central Florida's College of Optics and Photonics (CREOL) worked with collaborators from LCD maker JNC Petrochemical in Japan and display maker AU Optronics in Taiwan.
Source: PC Gamer
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 5:17 PM
Wednesday January 25th, 2017
| The overarching goal is to make Windows 10 "the best operating system for games"—and critically, to make it more consistent, so that frame rates and performance are more predictable and uniform. Gamill said that when Game Mode is active, the operating system will tend to be biased toward allocating CPU and GPU resources to the game. The Creators Update will ship with a periodically updated whitelist of known games for automatically enabling Game Mode. Windows users will also be able to opt in and out of Game Mode on a game-by-game basis using the Win+G keyboard shortcut.
Source: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2017/01/windows-10-game-mode-a-free-fps-boost-of-a-few-percent-with-more-to-come/]Ars Technica[/url]
Posted By FunkZ @ 1:05 PM