Remember a few young, naïve years ago (What’s an Obama?) when Crytek first cracked open your PC and drank the syrupy yolks within with the second iteration of its CryEngine technology? Remember the stomach-churning mix of awe and a heart attack you felt upon viewing its viewtiful vistas?
But it is very, very crisp, clean, and lush – just like CryEngine 2, but tweaked to levels of near-perfection. Does it knock reality off its high-horse and keep on riding? No, but if we fired a real rocket at an equally real tree, we imagine that its leaves tenuous grip on their lofty home would look something like that.
And oh, hey – look! A waterfall! Why, is that a heart attack we feel coming on? We’ll never doubt you again, Crytek.
Like a family engaged in an annual game of holiday card one-upmanship, the PC Gaming Alliance’s numbers, figures, and, er, printed-on coffee stains – courtesy of its State of the PC Gaming Industry in 2008 report – are shining with that make-everyone-else-jealous-of-your-obvious-superiority sheen that’s so popular with these sorts of things.
Most notably, the report states that PC gaming still brings home pounds upon pounds of bacon – nearly enough to necessitate tossing away a few slabs before fording the river, in fact – making it the largest single gaming platform in existence. As of now, industry revenues sit at $11 billion, and are expected to continue making our fingers, toes, and abaci feel inadequate in spite of the current Harsh Economic Climate.
In addition, PCGA president Randy Stude emphasized the PC gaming market’s unique advantages, saying:
“The biggest story in PC games is the expansion beyond retail. PC games have successfully pioneered online subscription and distribution models that have resulted in a global boom that shows no signs of slowing. Despite the advances of the likes of Xbox LIVE and the PlayStation Network, the online platform that remains the most accessible and robust worldwide is the PC.”
Buried at the bottom of scenic Oh-God-Don’t-Look, State of the PC Gaming Industry U.S.A. were a few roadblocks the industry’s currently negotiating, mostly stemming from variations in hardware configurations, piracy, and – of course – the economy.
You can check out the full, 33-page PDF file on the PCGA’s website, if you really want. Be warned, though – it’s large enough to become the butt of many a “Yo momma’s so fat” joke. Peruse at your own peril.
Some users of Netflix’s streaming service have groused about dwindling performance in recent times. The dip in performance has not only nettled users but also engendered speculation as to its cause. The most plausible conjecture is that video streams are being deliberately throttled by Netflix.
“Also, routing to different ISPs in the same region may be quite different, thus performance may also be quite different, even for neighbors, if they are connected to different ISPs. Moreover, congesting points can rise and fall with ISP configuration changes and other conditions,” Hunt wrote.
While Intel’s line of Z5xx Atom processors have already impressed the masses with their clock speeds ranging from 1.1GHz to 1.86GHz (all on 2.2 watts of power or less!), Intel feels like they’ve got more to prove.
The newest additions to the Atom family are the Z550 which clocks in at 2GHz while drawing only 2.4 watts and the Z515, with a dynamic clock speed ranging from 800MHz to 1.33GHz (depending on what you’re doing).
It’s expected that these chips will mostly see their way into mobile phones and MIDs, but the Z550 seems well within the realm of netbooks.
Step one on the long road to retiring 32-bit computers to the PC graveyard was the development of 64-bit processors (check). Step two was the development of 64-bit operating systems (check). Step three was the development of 64-bit drivers (check). And now, it's almost time for step four: major 64-bit applications.
ZDNet's Ed Bott has done some digging around in Windows 7's MigWiz.xml file (it's used to configure the Migration Wizard in Windows 7) and discovered that the upcoming Microsoft Office 14 will be available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. In the Office 14 section of MigWiz.xml in post-beta builds of Windows 7, Bott found references to both standard and x64 programs in Office 14, as well as references to upgrade options from Office 2003 to either Office 14 or Office 14 x64 (note that the public Windows 7 beta doesn't include these settings). What does this mean to Office 14's expected release date? Bott says:
The fact that this code is being baked into Windows 7 now suggests that the rumors of an early 2010 ship date for Office 14 are accurate. Having native 64-bit support for all members of the Office family is an extra bonus and welcome news.
If you're currently using some version of Microsoft Office, does the advent of a native 64-bit version make you more likely to upgrade to Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 14? Join us after the jump for your chance to sound off.
Unlike the chicken and the egg, in today's multicore environment, we can definitively say the hardware came first, and we're beginning to wonder if the software will ever come at all. We're not referring to the handful of games and applications that are multicore friendly, but the widespread development of software to take advantage of multiple cores.
So what's the holdup? According to participants at last week's Multicore Expo in Santa Clara, California, programming challenges remain. While there's no shortage of multicore processors in the wild, much of the software being written is still being geared towards single-core computing.
"Looking at the specifications for these software products, it is clear that many will be challenged to support the hardware configurations possible today and those that will be accelerating in the future," said Carl Claunch, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "The impact is akin to putting a Ferrari engine in a go-cart; the power may be there, but design mismatches severely limit the ability to exploit it."
The above statement comes from a report Gartner released two months ago. In it, Claunch goes on to explain that the software running today's servers have both hard and soft limits on the number of processors the software can effectively handle, the latter of which requires trial and error to overcome.
Parallel computing may seem like a no-brainer, but programmers point to the potential of new types of software bugs and lack of programming tools. On the bright side, more tools are emerging, and both Intel and AMD have made it clear that the future of computing lies in multiple cores. That future will be realized once software development catches up to the hardware.
Acer is reportedly on the verge of releasing a brand new Aspire One that will feature a larger 11.6-inch panel (notably bigger than the 10.1-inch versions available today), and will go down in history for dancing on the line between netbook and notebook.
This new Aspire one will come with a 1366x768 16:9 screen, an Intel Atom Z530 processor and the Poulsbo chipset, along with GMA500 graphics. There’s even supposed to be an extended battery option that will allow up to eight hours of battery life.
No word yet on pricing or availability, but once we know, you will too!
According to DigiTimes, Intel is looking to release two new processor models, which would most likely drop the prices on their current releases by up to 20 percent.
The two new rumored chips are slated to release on April 19th, and both will clock in at 2.66GHz. The first chip, the Q8400 (95W) will cost $183, while its sibling, the Q8400S (65W), will run $245. The report continued to state that in late May further Celeron and Pentium Dual-Core processors would see their way to the market.
For a full list of all the rumored price cuts and releases, be sure to check out a full report here.
Intel has made quite the splash in both the nettop and netbook markets with its low-power Atom processors, but it will be another month before the chip maker dives into the mobile internet device (MID) end of the electronics pool, says DigiTimes.
Citing un-named "sources at MID makers," the news and rumor site reports Intel has postponed the launch of its Atom Z550 and Z515 Atom CPUs to mid-April, both of which are intended for MIDs. When it launches, the Atom Z550 will run at 2.0GHz, making it the fastest clockspeed Atom to date. It will offer the same 2.4W rated TDP, 512KB of L2 cache, and 533MHz frontside bus. The Z515 will run a tick slower at 1.2GHz. Both chips sport an average power consumption of just .22W.
The Z550 will boast support for Intel's US15W chipset, while the Atom Z515 will support both the US15W and low-power UL11L chipsets. In addition, the Z515 will also feature Intel's new Burst Performance Technology (BPT), which will adjust the core clockspeed based on performance requirements.
Weapon laser design reached an important milestone thanks to defense contractor Northrop Grumman, who reported it got a solid-state laser to fire a 105.5 kilowatt beam, the most power light ray yet created by an electric laser.
"Our modular JHPSSL design makes it straightforward to scale laser weapon systems to mission-required power levels for a variety of uses, to include force protection and precision strike missions for air-, sea- and land-based platforms," said Dan Wildt, vice president of Directed Energy Systems for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector."
Wildt went on to underscore the importance of the achievement saying that "the 100kW threshold has been viewed traditionally as a proof of principle for 'weapons grade' power levels for high-energy lasers." Noting that there are many military applications that can be achieved with laser weapons of 25kW or 50kW, Northrop Grumman's achievement ensures power scaling won't be a problem for some time to come.
The high-power laser demonstration operated at above 100kW for over 85 minutes using seven laser chains. By adding an eighth chain, Northrop says it will be possible to increase laser power to 120kW.