Sony Pictures Image Works organized an event at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles to pay homage to the recently deceased visual effects virtuoso Stan Winston. Several big names from the film fraternity including film director James Cameroon, Shane Mahan, John Nelson, and actor Matt Winston (Stan Winston’s son) were in attendance and took a stroll down memory lane to remember the legend.
Winston was ahead of his time and etched his indelible footprints on visual effects. The event witnessed an outpouring of amusing anecdotes and veneration from the speakers who had known him. His protégé Shane Mahan, who worked with him during Terminator 2, announced that he and partners from Winston Studios are forming a new studio, Legacy Studio, as a mark of respect for Winston.
Winston worked on movies like Terminator and Jurassic Park that are remembered for their groundbreaking special effects as they set the bar higher for future movies. Cutting-edge is an adjective generally used to describe special effects but perhaps it was this avant-garde vfx legend who best justified its use.
Nvidia’s secret war with Intel has evolved into a full scale arms race for the atomic bomb of graphics technology, ray tracing. Using its forum at SIGGRAPH, Nvidia was able to demonstrate an interactive ray tracing simulation using four of the company's next-generation Quadro GPUs. They were set in a Quadro Plex 2100 D4 Visual Computing System with an estimated street price of around $11,000. Not exactly your standard gaming rig, but it gets the point across. Either way, it appears as though Nvidia is finally taking a cue from Intel and is focusing at least some of its effort on developing hardware capable of making this technique a reality for everyday users. The demonstration featured linear scaling of an anti aliased Bugatti Veyron with over two-million polygons. It was run at a resolution of 1920x1080 (1080p) and chugged along at an impressive 30 FPS. The demonstration also featured image-based lighting paint shaders, reflections / refractions, and ray traced shadows. Industry insiders noted that the demo was an impressive undertaking since it was one of the first interactive demonstrations done using a GPU. Intel has demonstrated ray tracing using Quake 3 but was done using CPU power.Larrabee will be Intel’s counter in the consumer market, but it remains to be seen if the CPU style design will be as capable of pushing out polygons as Nvidia’s offerings.Gamers are no doubt hoping the new race to master ray tracing will accelerate its development, but I have a feeling we will be playing Duke Nukem Forever long before we see consumer based ray tracing solutions from either company. Though the important first steps are now well underway.
The whole world went gaga over the PS3’s Cell processor at the advent of the 7th generation of consoles. That hype slowly subsided as the PS3 failed to set the cash registers ringing. However, an imminent deluge of Cell-based products - Toshiba's latest Qosmio notebooks bear a Cell-derived chip - has turned the spotlight back on to the Cell Broadband Engine.
IBuypower’s Gamer Paladin 990 is a strange beast. After we completed our testing, we were left wondering just what iBuypower was trying to accomplish with its half exotic, half midrange rig.
Take, for example, the videocard situation. The machine sports a pair of Nvidia’s newest GPUs, but not the company’s top-end offering, the GeForce GTX 280. Instead, iBuypower uses a pair of EVGA GeForce GTX 260s. If these GeForce cards weren’t midrange when they were first released, they certainly are now, as Nvidia has taken a blowtorch to prices to keep the GTX 260 competitive with ATI’s Radeon HD 4870.
If you don’t just like Gigabit ports—you love them— Gigabyte’s GA-EP45-DQ6 is the motherboard for you. This mobo has four Gigabit ports that can be teamed together for one seriously fat-ass network connection.
Elsewhere, the board is typical Gigabyte; it includes surface-mounted buttons and the most clearly marked USB and FireWire ports we’ve ever seen. So if you nuke your USB drive because you plugged the USB connector into a FireWire header, it’s your own fault, brother.
Each Surface computer is reported to have cost Starwood around $10,000. As the machine is made to order, there is always a possibility for change and evolution. Perhaps they can include games to keep the guests riveted. Also lending individuality – or a personality – to the table using interactive 3D characters might be a wonderful business idea as guests might even leave a tip for the table then - not really.
Two years ago, Nvidia unveiled its Quadro Plex range of visual computing systems at SIGGRAPH 2006. Now, at this year’s SIGGRPAH, it has announced desk-mounted visual supercomputers in the Quadro Plex range. The D series of Quadro Plex visual computer systems is claimed to have leapfrogged previous versions by over a 100% in terms of performance. The NVIDIA Quadro Plex 2200 D2 VCS has two Quadro FX 5800 GPUs, 4 dual-link DVI channels, and 8 GB of frame buffer memory. Whereas its sibling the NVIDIA Quadro Plex 2100 D4 VCS has four GPUs, 8 dual-link DVI channels and a 4 GB frame buffer.
The D series visual supercomputers are ideal for highly taxing 3D models, engineering designs and other scientific visualizations. The hundred of Nvidia CUDA Parallel Processing Cores pack copious parallel computing capabilities and the visual supercomputers can be easily hooked to workstations or servers using PCI Express adapter cards. The D series is due in September with prices starting at $10,750.
When you do something really well in the corporate world, it’s often easier for a bigger company to just acquire you, rather than try to out do you. Just look at Alienware and Dell or Voodoo and HP. Now, Logitech has acquired Ultimate Ears for $34 million in cash.
Ultimate Ears has a loyal following of touring musicians, sound engineers and mainstream music lovers. An estimated 75 percent of today’s touring rock musicians now use the Ultimate Ears custom-fit in-ear monitor while performing. Pricing for the company’s consumer products begins around $40, while pricing for custom products can be as much as $1200.
“Ultimate Ears is a perfect fit for Logitech and our audio business,” said Gerald P. Quindlen, Logitech president and chief executive officer. “Since its inception, Ultimate Ears has been driven by innovation, close ties to its customers, and the desire to enable an immersive audio experience. Logitech’s success has been built on using a deep understanding of our customers to create innovative products that let people immerse themselves in their pursuits – whether they are listening to music, gaming, watching a video or otherwise enjoying their digital lifestyle. We look forward to using our worldwide distribution network and operational efficiencies to help more people discover this superior listening experience.”
We can hope that they adapt some of Ultimate Ears technology into some really great headsets for computers too!
Last month, we spent a ton of time talking about the efficiency and overall pixel-pushing prowess of ATI’s new GPU, so we won’t waste much ink on the subject here. Suffice it to say, the 4850 delivers enough power to drive your sweet, new 22-inch monitor at its native resolution.
The card’s silicon is equivalent to that of previous-gen high-end cards. It’s equipped with 512MB of GDDR3 memory running at 993MHz. Unlike the Radeon HD 4870 boards (which cost $100 more), the 4850 doesn’t sport GDDR5 (GDDR5 transfers twice as much data per clock cycle as GDDR3). The upshot? The HD 4850 has the slowest memory interface of any card in the current generation, and benchmarks show that—especially at high AA/anisotropic filtering levels.
Technological trends may come and go, but every once in awhile they turn out to be more than just temporary fads. Consider that many of today's gamers weren't even born yet in the Atari 2600's heyday, yet 30 years later gaming consoles have become so popular that there exists an entire generation of FPS junkies who actually prefer lining up a headshot with a gamepad instead of using a keyboard and mouse. And speaking of videogames, let's not forget the 3D revolution sparked by the now defunct 3DFX (moment of silence).
More than just fun and games, recognizing lasting fads can prove lucrative for companies and upstarts who ride the hype, but it's not always easy predicting where PCs are headed. If we were to look back 10 years from now, what would we say were most influential technologies of the time? No need to hop into your time machine, because with the help of Gartner Inc., an information technology research and advisory company, we answer that question right now.
Hit the jump to see which of today's technologies are at the pinnacle of their hype cycle.