Futuremark, the Finland-based maker of several popular benchmarking tools, today announced that 3DMark 11 will be released on November 30, 2010, with pre-orders beginning today.
The free version includes the Performance PC benchmark preset, an audio/visual demo fixed at 720p, the ability to browser, search, and compare results online, and store one result online.
For $20, the Advanced Edition ups the ante with Entry-level and Extreme PC benchmark presets, custom benchmark settings, custom resolutions for the audio/visual demo, benchmark looping to test stability, unlimited online results storage, hide results from public view, advert-free online service, and offline result management.
3DMark is largely a graphics card benchmarking utility with the upcoming release putting a heavy focus on DirectX 11, including tessellation and volumetric lighting created with DX11.
Valve may be able to control the space half of the space-time continuum, but it looks like the “time” bit is still giving the developer some trouble. Portal 2 – originally slated to short circuit gamers' brains in February – has now been pushed into the far reaches of April, specifically April 20. But hey, it's not all bad. Why? Here's Valve's take:
“This two month slip not only marks the shortest delay in Valve's proud tradition of delays, it represents the approaching convergence of Valve Time and Real Time. Though this convergence spells doom for humanity, it will not affect the new Portal 2 release date,” the developer said in an announcement.
Ok, we admit that the “doom for humanity” part sounds bad, but here's the thing: If Valve's track record with Half-Life 2: Episode 3 is any indication, the fiery and assuredly painful End won't come during our lifetimes. Hell, even our children's children probably won't have much reason to worry, although they'll probably be too busy dealing with tyrannical squid emperors and Apple's establishment of the iDeathStar (It forces everyone in the universe to use AT&T wireless! And destroys planets too, we guess) to lose any sleep over it.
Remember when Namco made those ill-advised – and, might we add, thankfully never acted upon – comments about Ubisoft's Dark Lord of All DRM? Remember when The Witcher 2 entered the picture, and suddenly you got a horrible sinking feeling in your stomach as it clicked that, yeah, Namco might be planning to similarly lock the game down and throw away the key? Well, here's developer CD Projekt swooping in to save the day in a very, very big way.
See, CD Projekt also owns digital storefront/blessing Good Old Games, but it's making an exception on that “old” bit with The Witcher 2. Yep, the gorgeous-looking dark fantasy RPG will be casting its spell on GOG on day one. And – better still – it'll be, in GOG's own words, “100% DRM-free,” just like all other GOG titles. Oh, and just in case you – through some Olympic medal-worthy mental gymnastics of entitlement – were able to read that last bit and say, “Huh? That's all?,” a pre-order will also snag you any one of five free games, including Divine Divinity and Gothic 2.
Now then, join us in prostrating ourselves before CD Projekt and screaming “thank you” at the top of our lungs. Also – most crucially – please don't pirate the hell out of this. Otherwise, this seeming end to DRM will probably only be the beginning.
Asus a couple of weeks ago Asus slipped its Disk Unlocker utility under our radar, a piece of software designed to overcome the so-called 2.2TB barrier that, in a nutshell, prevents legacy operating systems from accessing the full storage capacity of hard drives larger than 2048GB.
The way Asus explains it, Disk Unlocker "taps into hidden storage space beyond the nominal 2048GB range, helping you use large hard drives to their maximum potential." The way things currently stand, in order to fully use a storage drive larger than 2.2TB, you need an OS that supports the GUID Partition Table (GPT), which is only supported in 64-bit versions of Windows. To boot from that same drive, things get an order of magnitude more complicated, requiring an UEFI BIOS; 64-bit version of Windows 7, Vista, or Server 2008; non-scented candles; and finely ground albino bat lips.
So where does Disk Unlocker fit into all this? Provided you're rocking an Asus motherboard, the Disk Unlocker utility essentially converts a physical HDD larger than 2048GB into a virtual drive, which can then be recognized in its entirety no matter which version of Windows you're running. And while Asus is a bit vague on this point, the manual appears to state that you can F6 the appropriate drivers during Windows XP installation so that you can boot from the drive as well.
We haven't had a chance to play with it yet, but when we do, you can be sure we'll report back the results.
Jon Jacobs spent five years managing a virtual space station in Entropia Universe, a Swedish-made MMORPG in which gamers can purchase in-game currency and convert it back to real-world dollars at a fixed exchange rate. So how did that work out for Jacobs? Really well, apparently. All told, Jacobs cashed out with $635,000 by selling his in-game properties, the largest chunk being a $335,000 slice of real estate.
If that sounds insane, well, that's because it is. So much so that Forbes went and tracked down the dude who shelled out well over a quarter of a million dollars for virtual property. His name is Yan Panasjuk, and according to Forbes, all the funds came out of his own pocket. So why do it?
"When motion pictures were first invented there were a lot of critics saying that is a novelty act and it would never amount to anything nor will be able to make any real money once the novelty wears off -- last time I checked Avatar grossed $2.7 billion worldwide," Panasjuk explained to Forbes in an email. "Most recent example is MTV and Internet but then you know those stories well enough. Virtual Universe is the next logical step in world entertainment and although there are a lot of critics and people shaking heads it is here to stay and take its ranks among the greats."
Maybe he's on to something. Before selling off his virtual property, which was called "Club Neverdie," Jacobs was making $200,000 a year from sales of virtual goods and services.
For those of you rocking an AMD videocard, the Sunnyvale outfit just released its Catalyst 10.11 suite, though you'll have to head over to the AMD Game! portal to find them (at the time of this writing, the 10.10 drivers were still showing up on AMD's homepage).
The Catalyst 10.11 package purportedly bumps up performance in Battleforge by up to 3 percent when using an ATI Radeon HD 5800 series card in either single or CrossFire configurations and with anti-aliasing disabled, while also improving performance in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat by up to 5 percent.
AMD also resolved a handful of issues with the latest driver release, such as nixing the desktop line corruption that plagued certain systems after hotplugging the HDCP display.
An upcoming Linux kernel patch has Linux patriarch Linus Torvalds very excited about the huge performance boost it promises. His enthusiasm is not unfounded either. The 233 line patch by Linux kernel developer Mike Galbraith punches way above its weight by reducing maximum desktop latency by over ten times and average latency by a factor of 60, paving the way for a faster, more responsive desktop experience.
“Yeah. And I have to say that I'm (very happily) surprised by just how small that patch really ends up being, and how it's not intrusive or ugly either. It's an improvement for things like smooth scrolling around, but what I found more interesting was how it seems to really make web pages load a lot faster,” Torvalds said in an email.
“So I think this is firmly one of those "real improvement" patches. Good job. Group scheduling goes from "useful for some specific server loads" to "that's a killer feature".
According to Linux-centric site Phoronix, the wonder patch has been designed to “automatically create task groups per TTY in an effort to improve the desktop interactivity under system strain.” As the Linux 2.6.37 nearing a second release candidate milestone, users will have to wait until 2.6.38 to tap into the huge speed boost.
Meanwhile, you can watch the two demo videos Phoronix posted to elucidate the tremendous performance boost this scheduler patch provides.
Facebook, the world's largest social networking site, just recently celebrated reaching 500 million members, it's been the topic of a docudrama, and continues to make people rich. But according to digital consumer expert Jeffrey Coles, it's also living on borrowed time, Australia's News Online reports.
Cole reckons Facebook has another five years before its users start to migrate elsewhere, just as it happened to MySpace and Bebo.
"The same thing will happen to Facebook, but it's going to take a lot longer," Cole said. "And it's not going to be replaced by one big social networking community but it's going to fragment."
Cole's crystal ball didn't just predict the inevitable demise of Facebook, it also revealed a future in which few newspapers will survive, and that the iPad would reign supreme as the most popular tablet.
Oh, it's on like Donkey Kong (don't sue us, Nintendo). Jim Balsillie, head honcho over at Research In Motion (RIM) had plenty to say about Apple's smartphone business model during an on-stage interview at a Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, AFP reports.
"You don't need an app for the Web," Balsillie began. "We believe you can bring the mobile to the Web, but you don't need to go through some kind of control point."
The RIM chief was taking a shot at Apple's tight control over which apps end up the App Store at iTunes.
"It is really not about a set of proprietary rules or about appifying the Web," Balsillie said. "The Web needs a platform that allows you to use your existing Web content, not apps."
Balsillie pulled the Flash trump card during his interview, pointing out how even though there are tons of Flash videos on the Web, Apple's mobile phone can't play them.
In a blog post today, Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu, announced that the Hulu Plus subscription service is finally launching out of preview status, where it has sat since July. Roku owners and PlayStation 3 owners with a PlayStation Network account get first crack at the finalized service, and in the months to come Kilar says Hulu Plus will be coming to a number of Internet-connected Vizio, LG, and Panasonic Blu-ray players and HDTVs, as well as TiVo Premier DVDs, the Xbox 360, Western Digital's WD TV Live Hub Media Center, and a whole bunch more.
"We haven't forgotten about our existing device lineup and applications, either," Kilar said. "Over the next week, updates to the Samsung, PlayStation 3, and Apple iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch Hulu Plus apps will be available, bringing a variety of bug fixes and feature and performance enhancements."
Hulu also dropped the price of its subscription from $9.99 to $7.99, which is retroactive. All current subscribers who joined during the preview period are eligible to receive a credit for the difference, which Hulu will automatically apply to their next billing cycle.
So how does it compare to Netflix? With the price drop, Hulu Plus matches Netflix's streaming service. The trade off with Hulu Plus is that you still have to contend with ads, but most of the content comes much earlier than on Netflix.