Intel can not only lay claim as the current king of chip technology, but its upcoming Nehalem microarchitecture looks poised to keep the silicon studs on top of the competition well into 2009. AMD has yet to threaten Intel's position ever since Conroe, and while the company remains confident under Dirk Meyer as the new head honcho, it's still playing catch up to Intel's 45nm technology.
The situation gets a little more competitive when switching from CPUs to GPUs, and according to Tomshardware, sources at both ATI and Nvidia are saying they will each have a 40nm GPU manufacturing process by the first half of 2009, possibly to be unveiled at next year's CeBit.
Assuming either company meets their target, the accomplishment will unseat Intel as the technological leader in terms of the smallest chip structures, even if only for a short time. The road won't stop at Nehalem and Intel is already busy developing 32nm CPUs, which many expect to be shown off in prototype form at the company's spring development forum in H1 2009. Volume shipments could come as early as Q3 next year.
Even so, if 40nm GPUs materialize as reported, it will mark the first time GPUs will overtake CPUS in terms of production nodes. That won't necessarily make it a better chip, but you can expect plenty of fanfare should Nvidia and/or ATI dethrone the silicon king.
Here's some shocking news just breaking from the Quakecon Keynote: Rage and Doom 4 will not be sold online via digital distribution. Rage, being published by EA, would be an obvious choice for EA's Downloader service, but apparently that won't be the case. The only way to buy the two games whenever they come out is in stores with boxed copies.
Additionally, Rage will most likely ship on multiple game discs for the Xbox 360. The DVD-only format for the Xbox 360 is its biggest limiting factor, since the Xbox 360-formatted discs actually hold 1GB less than standard 4.7GB DVDs (multiplied by two when dual-layered). And since the royalty charge per disc is actually surprisingly high, id hopes that Microsoft will make a concession for Rage, or else the company may actually have to sacrifice texture and asset quality to get the game to fit on fewer than THREE discs. The cost of the 3rd DVD alone would cost millions of dollars with the current royalty rate, says John Carmack.
When comparing the Xbox 360 to the PS3, the more spacious Blu-ray format is the only thing Carmack likes more about Sony's console. Everything else is better on the 360, he says.
John Carmack gave QuakeCon attendees a glimpse into his thoughts about the next-generation of gaming graphics. id Tech 6, for example, probably won't be coded in Java or any protected language. It also will be designed for hardware that doesn't excist right now. With new discrete graphics players entering the field (Larrabee, Fusion, etc), Carmack knows that the PC space is relavent, and that's where he'll be looking when thinking about coding his next engine.
When considering console technology and the next-generation of consoles (whether it's PS4 or Xbox 720), Carmack actually hopes that the console generation will last twice as long as the previous ones -- though he doesn't think it'll be a reality, as console makers will want to one-up competitors with early releases. Doom 4 will come out for this generation of hardware, but anything after that is up in the air. But one thing he's certain of: the practical approach for people who want to code games that look like today's games but better will be polygon-based.
With CUDA and General Purpose Computing, Carmack says he thinks it's interesting, but he's still waiting to see if there will be other real-application standards to drive graphics. There's no solid background for these new technologies like there was with OpenGL and Direct3D. He sees these technologies as toy research products, and not real applications. It's just like the mid 90s, when graphics were in a period of flux. Billions of dollars are being spent to make bets on the next big thing, but he's worried about years being wasted on speculative architectures.
More frag-related news coming out of QuakeCon's annual keynote. On the topic of Quake Live, John Carmark revealed that the project had to change its name from Quake Zero because of an enterprising domain squatter who bought up the related URLs immediately after the project's announcement last year. But since the game was still very early in development, the team had no problem changing the name to Quake Live.
We prodded Carmack during our E3 interview about mod support, and we finally have an answer. Because the game is web-browser based, with minimal installation, it will not officially support any in-game modifications. Instead, id is taking advice from gamers who've played Quake 3 for the past 9 years and trying to incorporate as many features into the release as possible. There will be no Quake Live SDK -- the free game is supposed to just be a gateway for gamers to enter the deathmatch scene. Id will, however, continue to integrate improvements with regular updates after the game is released. Officially approved user-generated maps that run on official servers is definitely a possibility, said Carmack.
Even though Quake Live is only being worked on by a team of 8 people, it sounds like id really wants and needs this experiment to succeed. For anyone who wants to see a true sequel to Quake III Arena (or as Carmack calls it, Quake Arena), that title will probably never be created if the Quake Live project doesn't pay off.
In other Rage and Doom 4 related news, Rage will be a fixed 60Hz game and Doom 4 will be 30 Hz (with 3 times the graphical horsepower of Rage) on consoles. On PCs, however, Carmack believes Doom 4 will be able to run at 60Hz if you have state of art hardware (who knows what that could mean by the time the game is released). Rage will definitely be out by the QuakeCon after next year.
One of the big themes to this year's QuakeCon is the idea that id Software wants to put a new emphasis on making games that are fun. The creaters of Quake and Doom are well-known for the technical prowess and graphical achivement in their games, but it sounds like they realized that a few of their most recent games were missing a key ingredient: Fun.
At this year's keynote, John Carmack used the "F" word (fun, of course) when describing id Software's upcoming projects: Quake Live, Rage, and Doom 2 RPG. For Quake Live, they are tweaking the matchmaking to ensure that players of all skill levels can have fun. With Rage, the only word they'll give about a release date is that it'll ship "when it's fun and when it's done."
In his QuakeCon 2008 keynote today, John Carmack stated that he thinks the iPhone developer's kit is much better than the ones for Java or Brew-based phones. In terms of pure graphics, the iPhone is roughly the equivalent of a Dreamcast, said Carmack. It's feature set and horsepower can deliver what gamers saw on the PS2 or original Xbox, especially since it has a lot of RAM.
Originally, Carmack contemplated porting Orcs and Elves for the iPhone, but he didn't want to devote 3 man-months to make it happen, when he wasn't sure the company could make the money back (Carmack estimated that only about 15% of the QuakeCon audience had iPhones). Instead, id has plans for two new iPhone games. One will be an RPG syle game, and the other a "graphical tour de force." This second game will be beyond anything you've seen on the PSP or Nintendo DS. No release date was announced for these tiles, only that they were in early development.
Carmack's enthusiasm for for mobile gaming was readily apparent in his keynote. He's excited by the success of iPhone game sales, and hopes that the iPhone will drive other providers into making better hardware.
With the help of LG, Netflix just took another giant step into your living room. With the production of the LG BD300 Network Blu-ray Player, Netflix users will now be able to stream Netflix videos directly to their TV. But does this come at an additional cost? And what about high definition streaming?
We were beginning to wonder if Creative would ever update its X-Fi soundcard drives to work properly in Vista, and after the whole Daniel_K fiasco, we were about ready to throw in the towel. For those that stuck it out, Creative has finally released a new driver package that fixes the hardware Dolby Digital and DTS decoding in its X-Fi cards running under Vista. The company also added DVD Audio playback, a feature that previously went by the wayside when upgrading from XP to Vista.
The new driver also addresses a niggling bug that causes system crashes when switching to an unsupported sampling rate in the Audio Creation Mode while Dolby Digital Live is enabled.
All X-Fi soundcards except the Xtreme Audio version are supported with the driver update.
Capturing high definition video in the palm of your hand is about to get easier if Sanyo's DMX-HD800 can live up to its billing. The 8MP compact camera will come in gold, pink, and black and be capable of recording video in 720p (1280x720) using the AVC/H.264 video codec. Features include:
Drag and drop capable
HD videos and still pictures
Snap photos while filming without pausing the video
Face recognition (up to 12 faces)
Digital image stabilizer
In-camera video editing
Capturing quality videos from a handheld gadget always elicits skepticism, but Sanyo promises its three-dimensional digital noise reduction (3DDNR) filter will offer both clear videos and crisp photos. It was enough to impress AkihabaraNews, who claims the camera represents a "HUGE step forward in video quality" and described the change as "AMAZING" compared to Sanyo's previous model, the HD700.
Tired of all the drama surrounding the future of Yahoo? You're not the only one. Not a week goes by without a new twist emerging in what's to become of the would-be search giant, and billionaire investor T. Boone Pickens has had enough. Aside from having one of the coolest names ever, Pickens also owned 10 million Yahoo shares, all of which he sold at a loss.
Pickens picked up the stock back in May in anticipation that activist Carl Icahn would wage a proxy contest to force Yahoo's board into signing on the dotted line with Microsoft. Tired of waiting, Pickens unloaded all his shares, but not without taking a parting short at Yahoo management.
"I think that Yahoo management was pathetic," Pickens told the San Francisco Chronicle.
It's unclear exactly how much money Pickens lost in the ordeal, but Yahoo stock was selling around $27 per share in late May and has since dropped to around $20 per share. Talk about a costly way to make a point.