News en GDC 2015: John Carmack on the Future of Mobile VR <!--paging_filter--><h3>Shooter godfather has advice for developers</h3> <p>The lead designer on some games you might have heard of, like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, has been away from the forefront of first-person shooters for a few years, but he has not been idle. Aside from building rockets that fly into space, John Carmack also been dabbling in virtual reality. In August 2013, he became Chief Technology Officer of Oculus VR, founded by fellow techno-wunderkind Palmer Luckey. Perhaps sensing a kindred spirit, Carmack tackled the technical underpinnings of the company's purely mobile plans, specifically the Samsung Gear VR headset, which uses the company's mobile phones to act as the brains and display of the device. Today, in front of a packed house of hundreds of developers and journalists, Carmack gave a talk on how that process had worked, and what he expects of the platform in the future. There were no revelations about the Oculus Rift, but a lot of the work that he's putting into Gear VR can spill over into that.</p> <p>Our story begins at a Samsung R&amp;D facility in Dallas, Texas a few years ago, where the company was working on their first Gear VR (they've just released its sequel, the Gear VR 2). Carmack's base of operations has been in Texas since the early days of id Software, so it was a natural geographic fit. Carmack was enthused by the engineering challenges of VR and found the mobile variant especially interesting. In fact, he sees devices like Gear VR as the primary platform. By definition, they are far more portable than a device like the Oculus Rift; even if you can throw the Rift in a carry-on bag, you still need to bring your PC with you too.</p> <p>Gear VR, meanwhile, needs only a mobile phone slapped into a headset, though it is admittedly currently limited to a small handful of Samsung phones. Carmack mentioned that you can take the device with you on vacation, giving it more visibility in the headset market than a device that's tethered to a PC. He quipped, "The most fun thing to do with Gear VR is to show it to other people," because their reactions are so entertaining. He called this "an infection vector for virtual reality."</p> <p>But in Carmack's opinion, the content system needed some work. When Facebook bought Oculus VR, they were able to bring some people over from their new owner who could help with the infrastructure behind purchasing and downloading games over the Internet. Carmack sees the GearVR store as a competitor to Steam, in fact.</p> <p><img src="/files/u160416/gearvr.jpg" width="620" height="402" /></p> <p>With that in place, Carmack seems confident that the hardware itself is suitable to act as a commercial development platform, and they would be aggressively promoting Gear VR to create a user base. There are still some technical limitations compared to the Oculus Rift, chiefly positional tracking. The Rift uses a sophisticated motion sensor to synchronize your head movement with camera movement; so in addition to the Gear VR's ability to detect your head turning, the Rift can tell when you lean forward, lean, back, and tilt your head. When this detail is absent, the result can cause nausea. The Rift is also using the power of your PC, so its visual effects can be a lot more complicated.</p> <p>For the Gear VR, Carmack encouraged developers to aim for a level of complexity on par with that of a GameCube game. He noted that Wolfenstein 3D and Doom were essentially Gauntlet from a first-person perspective, so it wasn't necessary to re-invent the design wheel or blow people away with amazing visuals to make a compelling game. You could just iterate on an idea in a way that took interesting advantage of virtual reality. He added, "We still don't know what the best application will be."</p> <p>Even with more modest performance targets in mind, a technique called Asynchronous Time Warp is necessary for the hardware to keep up with the game engine's demands. ATW injects "filler" frames when the device can't maintain 60 frames per second. This avoids judder, which can cause disorientation. Oculus is also getting the word out about their layering system. In a 3D scene, you designate multiple layers for the engine to see as different distances. Tagging these beforehand means that the GPU doesn't have to figure it out in real time, but it also helps with anti-aliasing, especially with text.</p> <p>They're also working on multi-view rendering, where the same set of 3D engine instructions are sent to both eyes, which also cuts down on the calculations that the GPU needs to make. This raises the ceiling on the things that the CPU part of the phone or tablet can do, such as animation, AI, and some physics.</p> <p>At the end of the talk, Carmack had a Q&amp;A session, during which he gave us his opinion on augmented reality. He saw the platform as not competing directly with VR, and that the latter would be where innovations happened first. AR also uses cameras to simulate a set of eyes, but since the cameras can't be where your eyes actually are, this spatial gap can create disorientation. Nevertheless, he expressed enthusiasm for <a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft's Hololens initiative</a>.</p> 3D headset GearVR john carmack oculus rift oculus vr samsung virtual reality News Thu, 05 Mar 2015 00:24:41 +0000 Tom McNamara 29541 at Nvidia Unveils Titan X Graphics Card at GDC <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/titan_x.jpg" alt="Titan X" title="Titan X" width="231" height="177" style="float: right;" />A new top-end GPU</h3> <p>It was speculated that Nvidia might announce a new Titan graphics card during GDC, and that's what the company did—in a somewhat dramatic fashion. It happened at the tail end of an Unreal Engine panel. As Epic founder Tim Sweeny wrapped up his discussion on the state of Unreal, <strong>Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang surprised attendees by emerging on stage to unveil the company's Titan X</strong>.</p> <p>He called it the "world's most advanced GPU," though was short on details. What he <em>was</em> willing to divulge about the card is that it has 12GB of onboard memory and 8 billion transistors. For the sake of comparison, Titan Black has 7.1 billion transistors and 6GB of GDDR5 memory.</p> <p>"It’s the most advanced GPU the world has ever seen," Jen-Hsun said.</p> <p>He then presented the company's first production unit to Sweeny, though not before autographing the box in came in.</p> <p>Nvidia will release more details about the card during the upcoming GTC event that runs from March 17–20.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Build a PC Gaming GDC 2015 graphics card Hardware nvidia Titan X Video Card News Wed, 04 Mar 2015 19:16:25 +0000 Paul Lilly 29540 at Maingear Unveils Drift Steam Machine, Starts Taking Pre-Orders <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/maingear_drift.jpg" alt="Maingear Drift" title="Maingear Drift" width="228" height="172" style="float: right;" />Drift PC console moves full Steam ahead</h3> <p>It's taken a lot longer than anticipated, but official Steam Machines are scheduled to release in November of this year, <a href="">Valve announced</a> at this year's Game Developers Conference (GDC). That means you can expect plenty of Steam Machine announcements, some of which have already <a href="">started rolling in</a>. One in particular is <strong>Maingear's Drift, an ultra-compact Steam Machine and gaming PC that you can pre-order today</strong> and have in your hands next month.</p> <p>How is it possible to own a Steam Machine before November? Well, Steam OS won't arrive until November, but as we've seen, OEMs and boutique builders aren't waiting around—they're shipping systems now that run Windows and have the option of booting directly into Steam's Big Picture mode. So it goes with Maingear's Drift.</p> <p>It offers full-size desktop performance in a console uni-body constructed from aluminum. There are several color options and, for a fee ($199 to $299), Maingear will happily paint the chassis using Glasurit paint, the same that goes onto the likes of Porcshe and BMW.</p> <p>There are two main (and customizable) configurations to choose from. The first is the Drift with an Intel Pentium Anniversary Edition G3258 processor slipped into an MSI H81-I motherboard, 8GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1600 RAM, Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti graphics card, 500GB Seagate Barracuda HDD (7,200rpm), 8X DVD burner, 450W Silverstone PSU, and Windows 8.1 64-bit. This configuration starts at $949.</p> <p>The second starting point is the Drift SS beginning at $1,949. For that, you get bumped up to an Intel Core i5 4590 CPU, Gigabyte GA-Z97N-WIFI motherboard, Maingear Epic 120 Supercooler, Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 graphics card, and a 250GB Samsung 850 Evo SSD to go along with the 500GB HDD.</p> <p>If you're interested, you can head over to the <a href="" target="_blank">Drift's product page</a> and customize your build right now.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Drift Gaming GDC 2015 Hardware maingear OEM rigs steam machine News Wed, 04 Mar 2015 16:53:47 +0000 Paul Lilly 29538 at MSI Announces First USB 3.1 Type-C Motherboard, All-in-One PCs, and More <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/msi_z97a_gaming_6.jpg" alt="MSI Z97A Gaming 6 Motherboard" title="MSI Z97A Gaming 6 Motherboard" width="228" height="128" style="float: right;" />Ready, set, blitz!</h3> <p>Once the Game Developers Conference (GDC) comes to an end, attention will turn to PAX East, which takes place in Boston from March 6–8. That means even more product announcements, though some companies are too excited to wait. One of them is <strong>MSI, which is bringing an "arsenal of new gaming products" to PAX East</strong>, including its Z97A Gaming 6 motherboard and a pair of all-in-one PCs.</p> <p>MSI is pitching the Z97A Gaming 6 as the world's first mobo to feature onboard USB 3.1 and Type-C connectivity, the latter of which is a reversible connector—no more plugging in USB devices the wrong way! It has two USB 3.1 ports, and yes, they're fully backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 devices.</p> <p>Not much else was said about the motherboard, though from the picture, we can see side-mounted SATA ports, three PCI-E x16 slots, and MSI's Audio Boost technology.</p> <p>MSI is also unveiling a premium SLI bridge. It supports a two-way spaced SLI setup with single slot spacing between a pair of MSI TwinFrozr V cards. There's also an LED-backlit gaming sheild that can be controlled by the MSI Gaming App.</p> <p>Finally, MSI will introduce a pair of all-in-one PCs. One is the AG270 2QC with a 27-inch WQHD IPS panel with a 2560x1440 (3K) resolution. It will have an unspecified Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M graphics, and speakers developed by Yamaha.</p> <p>The other AIO is MSI's Gaming 24GE. This one has a 4K display powered by an Intel Core i7 4720HQ CPU and GTX 900 Series mobile graphics.</p> <p>More details will be made available later this week.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> 1 AG270 2QC aio all-in-one Build a PC Gaming 24GE Hardware motherboard msi pax east type-c USB 3 Z97A Gaming 6 News Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:06:03 +0000 Paul Lilly 29537 at GDC 2015 Day 0: MindMaze Demos Brain-Powered VR Headset [Video] <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/mindmaze_headset_view_0.jpg" alt="MindMaze" title="MindMaze" width="228" height="128" style="float: right;" />Bringing medical-grade technology to the consumer space</h3> <p>One of the running themes at the 2015 Game Developer Conference (GDC) is virtual reality, a space that's attracting an increasing number of players as the technology inches closer to becoming mainstream. One company to keep an eye on is <strong>MindMaze, makers of a prototype "neuro-goggle" headset that combines a potpourri of technologies</strong>, including augmented reality, virtual reality, motion capture, and even neurosensing.</p> <p>It's part of a platform called MindLeap, and among other things, this multifaceted headset can read your brain waves, according to MindMaze CEO and founder Tej Tadi. It's a fantastic claim that is anything but new at GDC and other similar events, but Tadi isn't a Johnny-come-lately that's trying to hop on a bandwagon here. He's a neuroscientist who's been using virtuall reality technology in the medical field for about a decade, helping patients overcome neurological deficits.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/minemaze_headset.jpg" alt="MindMaze Headset" title="MindMaze Headset" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p>To those who are skeptical of a brain-powered headset, Tadi points out that the technology already exists in the medical field, where neuroscience has helped patients control robotic arms. There's also clinical data available. MindPlay is partially an attempt to take the same technology and port it over to the consumer space.</p> <p>Before we go on, have a look at the headset in action:</p> <p><iframe src="" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>What you see in the video above is a short demo of the different technologies. By looking left, the headset presents a virtual reality landscape, and when you turn to the right, it switches into augmented reality. As we saw with Microsoft's HoloLens, the AR mode allows you to interact with the real world, depending on the available content. In the demo, you see the user's hands on fire, and he's able to touch another person in the room, setting them ablaze in the process.</p> <p><img src="/files/u69/mindmaze_headset_view.jpg" alt="MindMaze Headset View" title="MindMaze Headset View" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p>This is a complex headset that combines VR technologies like the ones Oculus and Valve are using, with AR technology like HoloLens, and then adding other elements into the mix, the biggest being neurosensing. The demo of the user's hands on fire helps visualize all three main traits -- you see the hands on fire (AR) and you can either enter a virtual world to get rid of the fire (VR), or turn the fire into snow by calming down and relaxing (neurosensing).</p> <p>Here's a more in-depth explanation by Tadi himself:</p> <p><iframe src="" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>MindMaze is currently in talks with hardware and content makers about licensing the technology in MindPlay. The company may also offer its own hardware. If all goes to plan, a developers kit should be available by the end of the year or early 2016.</p> augmented reality GDC 2015 Hardware MindMaze Tej Tadi virtual reality vr News Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:02:07 +0000 Jimmy Thang and Paul Lilly 29535 at GDC 2015 Day 0: Opaque Details Kinect-Enabled ISS Virtual Reality Demo [Video] <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/opaque.jpg" alt="Opaque" title="Opaque" width="228" height="175" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>What it feels like to be Sandra Bullock in <em>Gravity</em></h3> <p>If you've seen the movie <em>Gravity</em>, you may have found yourself wishing that you, too, could have a chance to explore a space station, if for nothing else than simply the view from so far up above. Or the thought of doing so might now make you soil your underpants after watching the flick. Not to worry because <strong>Opaque Multimedia's Earthlight demo lets you virtually explore the International Space Station</strong> through an Oculus Rift headset with motion-tracking technology from Microsoft's second-generation Kinect.</p> <p>It also uses a proprietary Kinect 4 Unreal plugin to combine the technologies with Unreal Engine 4. The result is a realistic experience of what it would be like to actually visit the ISS, but without the fear of floating helplessly into space or having to go through all the training that real astronauts have to.</p> <p>Where the Kinect comes into play is to go beyond the capabilties of the Oculus Rift. The Kinect allows users to see their limbs and combine it with the Oculus, and the way you move around Earthlight is by using your hands.</p> <p>We sat down with Opaque for an in-depth discussion on the topic and the technological challenges they faced in the gaming space. Check it out:</p> <p><iframe src="" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>And if you haven't seen the Earthlight demo, here's a look at that:</p> <p><iframe src="" width="620" height="349" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> Earthlight games GDC 2015 kinect ue4 unreal engine 4 virtual reality vr News Wed, 04 Mar 2015 06:18:08 +0000 Jimmy Thang and Paul Lilly 29536 at Nvidia Reveals Game-Streaming Grid Service Will Have Free and Premium Tier <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u166440/nvidia_logo.png" alt="Nvidia Logo" title="Nvidia Logo" width="200" height="155" style="float: right;" /></h3> <h3>Game-streaming service officially coming in May</h3> <p>For the past three weeks, Nvidia has been teasing a new gaming product that it would unveil at GDC. Now, while the company’s new <a title="New Nvidia Shield Console" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Shield Gaming console</span></a> is an intriguing device, we were also interested in something else the company talked about. Along with the new console, <strong>Nvidia also officially revealed its plans for its Grid subscription-based streaming service</strong>.</p> <p>According to Nvidia's live presentation at GDC, the Grid streaming service will be backed by Nvidia Grid supercomputers all around the world. Set to launch in May, the service will have two tiers. Grid will allow consumers to stream games at 720p at 30 FPS for free while Grid Plus will offer games at up to 1080p and 60 FPS, both with a latency of 150 milliseconds. Sadly, we don't know how much the premium service will cost as of yet.&nbsp;</p> <p>But for those of you who are not keen on paying to stream a game, you will be able to purchase AAA games from the Grid store, which, at the moment, will offer 50 titles, though Nvidia says that more games will be added each week.&nbsp;</p> <p>Do you think Internet bandwidth is going to be an issue? Sound off in the comments below!</p> <p><em>Follow Sean on&nbsp;<a title="SeanDKnight Google+" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Google+</span></a>, <a title="SeanDKnight's Twitter" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Twitter</span></a>, and <a title="SeanDKnight Facebook" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Facebook</span></a></em></p> grid Grid streaming service Grid subscription nvidia Nvidia Grid Nvidia shield subscription service subscription streaming service Gaming News Wed, 04 Mar 2015 05:43:45 +0000 Sean D Knight 29534 at Nvidia Unveils Shield Gaming Console <!--paging_filter--><h3>Android games, game streaming, Netflix, and mo'</h3> <p>Nvidia unveiled the next step on its road to dominating PC gaming (and possibly your living room) today with the announcement of an Android-based game console simply dubbed the Shield. This asymmetric, die-cast black aluminum slab—around the size of a home network router—is positioned as "the world's first Android 4K TV." The Shield is priced at $199, including an Xbox-like gamepad, and scheduled to drop in early May.</p> <h3><img src="/files/u154082/dsc03116.jpg" width="620" height="349" /></h3> <p>Nvidia walked us through the media streaming services first. Like an Apple TV, the Shield has its own movie and TV streaming ecosystem, which the device can display at 4K out of the box. Nvidia also integrates profile pages for actors as well as films, so you get a direct list of all the movies and shows that they've been in.</p> <p><img src="/files/u160416/3dshield.jpg" width="620" height="248" /></p> <p>Streaming music and browsing photo galleries was also in the mix, but it wasn't clear if these other two services were plugging into Spotify or Google Play, or coming straight from Nvidia. Either way, the interface indicated icons for Netflix, Youtube, and other streaming stuff. Like the Roku, you can talk into the remote to use voice search instead of wrangling with a virtual keyboard. The remote is also rechargeable by USB, so battery juggling isn't needed either. The gamepad also has a mic for voice-activated controls.</p> <p>Of course, there was more on tap than a media-streaming device. Nvidia integrated the Tegra X1 chip, which marries an ARM CPU to the company's Maxwell GPU, cramming in 256 shader cores. For reference, a GeForce GTX 960 has 1,024 shader cores, so there's still a gap between this and a full-fledged desktop video card. But Nvidia pitches the X1 as being more powerful than an Xbox 360, while drawing a fraction of the wattage (5–20 watts, to be exact). The 3GB of system RAM in the Shield also dwarfs the 512MB in the 360. Nvidia intends to have over 50 games available at launch, and 100 by the end of this year. The split between streaming games and locally played games wasn't clear, though.</p> <p>For connectivity, we've got gigabit Ethernet, dual-band 802.11ac wifi, 4.1 Bluetooth/BLE, two USB 3.0 ports, micro-USB, and HDMI 2.0.</p> <p>You can pay a flat-rate monthly subscription for part of the library, and pay a one-time fee for additional newer, shinier games, such as Batman: Arkham Knight, The Witcher 3, and Shadow of Mordor (all three of which were already present in the Shield store interface and waiting for your hard-earned cash). They showed a live demo of the racing game Grid 2, run on a remote server and played locally, without noticeable lag or frame drops, at 1080p and 60fps. Resident Evil 2 was also along for the streaming ride, looking sharp and smooth. Speaking of the Witcher 3, its senior game designer Damien Monnier stepped into the spotlight and showed off the game streaming live.</p> <p><img src="/files/u160416/dsc03098.jpg" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p>You may recall that a company called OnLive tried streaming games over the Internet a few years ago, but it eventually had to drop that idea because it couldn't get enough takers—but it did not offer a flat-rate sub, and it looks like Nvidia has figured out a lot of issues with network latency. Some customers also took issue with OnLive's pricing model, which required standard retail prices despite you not really owning the game in the traditional sense. Judging by the prices we saw in the Shield game store, there will be no discounts here either. Nvidia's service, dubbed Grid, has actually been available for some time via previous Shield devices, but this was the frist time that we'd seen day-one releases available for purchase.</p> <p><img src="/files/u154082/dsc03110.jpg" width="620" height="349" /></p> <p>The company brought Gearbox Software president Randy Pitchford on stage to talk more about the gaming aspect. He announced that Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel was coming to the Shield, which they demonstrated running on the console itself, at what they claimed was 30fps. He expected performance to improve during the course of development. Next on board was Croteam, known for their Serious Sam games. They ran a live demo of their "third-person puzzer" The Talos Principle, which looked a bit smoother. Neither title had a specific release date.</p> <p>Contestant #3 was Tim Willits, the studio director for id Software, the gang made famous by Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. He brandished the Doom 3 BFG Edition, which includes the expansion plus the original Doom 1 and 2 for good measure. He said it was the only official Android version of the package. Doom 3 came out 10 years ago, and even though id added some visual enhancements, it's not nearly as demanding as either Gearbox's or Croteam's offerings. The game ran at a steady 60fps.</p> <p><img src="/files/u160416/untitled_2.jpg" width="748" height="383" /></p> <p>But can it run Crysis? Sure, an old joke by now, but one Nvidia took seriously, whipping out Crysis 3 complete with multiplayer, running on the actual Shield and not streaming over GRID. It was just a 1v1 match, but still pretty impressive visually. Especially for a $199 box. The retail packaging also indicated "16GB" on the side, which we took to mean the available storage space. That seems pretty low for a console-caliber gaming platform. An Nvidia rep later told us that the device could connect to an external USB drive or an SD card, but only for media storage. Shields with larger capacities are on the horizon, but we couldn't get a specific timeframe.</p> <p>Company CEO Jensen Huang said that they intended to get the user's GRID streaming wait time down to one minute, vastly cutting down on the amount of data that needed to be downloaded before you could begin playing. On the cloud end, this is made possible by rendering on Nvidia's "GTX Supercomputer," which sends its bits to Amazon's AWS delivery network, who then sends the stream to you. Huang claimed that the total transit time from the supercomputer to your TV could be as low as 150ms, "half the blink of an eye."</p> <p>We'll be talking to Nvidia more throughout GDC, so keep your eyes peeled for more juicy details.</p> android console grid nvidia shield streaming News Wed, 04 Mar 2015 05:32:38 +0000 Tom McNamara 29533 at Zotac Shows Us Its Custom Steam Machine <!--paging_filter--><h3>The new wave of Steam Machines</h3> <p>We had the chance to get a first look at Zotac's new Steam Machine today at GDC 2015. The company first announced that it was part of Valve's Steam Machine initiative, along with 14 other partners, back in 2013 during CES. Despite the announcement though, Valve wasn't ready with the Steam controller or Steam OS at the time.</p> <h3><img src="/files/u191083/zotac_sn970_1.jpg" alt="Zotac SN970 Steam Machine" title="Zotac SN970 Steam Machine" width="650" height="433" /></h3> <p>The new box from Zotac, dubbed SN970, is a compact PC akin to Alienware's Alpha, except a little bigger. The following are its specs:</p> <ul> <li>"6th" gen Intel CPU: Zotac writes this on its spec sheet, but we reckon it'll be an Intel "Skylake" CPU, manufactured at 14nm</li> <li>NVIDIA GeFoce GTX 970M MXM with 3GB GDDR5</li> <li>8GB DDR3</li> <li>64GB M.2 SSD</li> <li>1TB 2.5" HDD</li> <li>2 x Gig-E Ethernet</li> <li>4 x HDMI 2.0 ports, supporting 4K @ 60Hz</li> <li>1 x HDMI In</li> <li>4 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0</li> <li>802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0</li> </ul> <p>According to Zotac, the SN970 will ship with Steam OS and a Steam controller from the get-go, although users are free to install Windows if they so choose. Zotac also mentioned that Valve "wanted" the new round of Steam Machines to all have HDMI input, because Steam Machine will offer the ability to control and manage your television feed as well as offer the ability to record shows.</p> <p>Zotac tells us that they will offer different Steam Machines that step down from the SN970, letting users integrate their own hardware options, but the SN970 will ship fully equipped for $999, although Zotac says the price may be lower.</p> <p><img src="/files/u191083/zotac_sn970_3.jpg" alt="Zotac SN970 Steam Machine" title="Zotac SN970 Steam Machine" width="650" height="183" /></p> <p>The chassis is unlike anything Zotac currently has on the market, and the motherboard is custom too, supporting two 2.5" SATA drives, and an M.2 slot that's fully customizable by removing the bottom cover. This tells us that the cost of the SN970 is largely due to the custom hardware design.</p> <p><img src="/files/u191083/zotac_sn970_5.jpg" alt="Zotac SN970 Steam Machines" title="Zotac SN970 Steam Machines" width="650" height="433" /></p> <p>Steam Machines have gone through several major bumps since their announcement back in 2013. With delays, pre-mature launches, as well as the continual dedication by Valve to make a perfect controller, they're turning out to be better than when initially launched. However, NVIDIA just announced its living room Shield console, which streams games from NVIDIA's Grid cloud delivery service. NVIDIA's CEO, Jen-Hsun, announced today, that "NVIDIA would do what Netflix did for movies, and Spotify did for music." Valve itself announced the Steam Link, which streams from any PC running Steam on the same network.</p> <p>It remains to be seen how the Steam Machine platform will pan out, but for now, it looks like Steam Machines have direct, and serious competition, from both NVIDIA and Valve themselves.</p> steam box steam machine Valve zotac News Wed, 04 Mar 2015 04:00:24 +0000 Tuan Nguyen 29532 at Syber Announces Line of Steam Machines at GDC <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u166440/syber_steam_machine_switch.jpg" alt="Syber Steam Machine Switch" title="Syber Steam Machine Switch" width="200" height="148" style="float: right;" />Company will offer six models</h3> <p>Ever since Valve announced last year that it was <a title="Valve delays Steam Machine launch" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">delaying the launch</span></a> of its Steam Machines, in order to perfect the Steam Controller, we have been wondering when that would be. Last week, the company announced that it would showcase new living room devices, a SteamVR hardware system, and a finalized version of the Steam Controller. Now we're the first glimpses of the new hardware as <strong>Syber has announced its line of Steam Machines at GDC</strong>.</p> <p>Syber, which is a division of CyberPowerPC, revealed that it will be offering six Steam Machines, powered by SteamOS, with In-Home Streaming capability that will be available for purchase later this fall. Some of the Steam Machines will be shown at GDC and the company has provided some hardware specifications in addition to the price.</p> <p>“We created the Syber Steam Machines to give gamers more power and more customization than the standard video game consoles like Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, and Microsoft Xbox,” said CyberPowerPC VP of Product Eddie Vong.</p> <p>At the cheaper end of the line, the company is offering the Syber Steam Machine-E, which will be powered by a quad-core AMD processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics, with a retail price of $449. For $549, there is the Syber Steam Machine-P, which comes with an Intel G3258 3.2GHz processor and AMD Radeon R9 270X card. Those looking to spend more money can shell out $999, which will get them the Syber Steam Machine-K, which sports an Intel Core i5-4690K and Nvidia GeForce GTX 970.&nbsp;</p> <p>Aside from the six models, the company says that its Steam Machines are capable of being fully customized with the latest hardware from Nvidia, AMD, and Intel, and there's a new color on offer, too, called Syber fire-orange. However, such Steam Machines will have a starting price of $1,399.</p> <p><em>Follow Sean on&nbsp;<a title="SeanDKnight Google+" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Google+</span></a>, <a title="SeanDKnight's Twitter" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Twitter</span></a>, and <a title="SeanDKnight Facebook" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Facebook</span></a></em></p> cyberpowerpc steam machines syber Syber Steam Machines Valve Gaming News Wed, 04 Mar 2015 01:32:00 +0000 Sean D Knight 29531 at AMD Announces LiquidVR SDK (GDC 2015) <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u154082/dsc03051.jpg" width="250" height="141" style="float: right;" />We interview AMD Graphics CTO&nbsp;Raja Koudari about the company's VR initiative</h3> <p>Providing presence inside a virtual reality headset, or trying to make you feel like you are somewhere you aren’t, is a difficult challenge for developers. AMD is trying to help VR headset maker like Oculus VR and other head-mounted display (HMD) manufacturers better solve that issue with its newly announced LiquidVR SDK.&nbsp;</p> <p>A big VR obstacle in the way of achieving presence pertains to latency. Minimizing motion-to-photon latency, i.e., having the image properly update as you move your head around, is critical to achieving presence. It also helps you keep your lunch down. Another challenge is that VR can be extremely taxing on hardware. Because VR has to render two separate images for both eyes, this essentially cuts your framerate in half, as your system has to render the scene twice. In addition, VR experiences demand a high resolution to avoid screen-door effects and a high framerate/refresh rate for user comfort. All of this amounts to a ton of challenges. With LiquidVR, AMD aims to help developers solve latency, comfort, and compatibility issues.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Check out our interview with AMD CTO of Graphics&nbsp;Raja Koudari above.</strong></p> <p>AMD is pushing four pillars to topple these challenges. The first of these is what the company refers to as “latest data latch.” Essentially, what this does is use the GPU to provide the HMD the latest possible image data when rendering to the display. When old data is sent to the headset, users get the feeling of judder when the image is outdated.</p> <p>AMD calls its next pillar “Async shaders for VR.” This allows for asynchronous time warp and essentially predicts the next pixels to be rendered based on head movement/trajectory. AMD says this will also help minimize latency, stuttering, and judder.</p> <p>The third pillar pertains to CrossFire. With dual-GPU setups (this includes Nvidia cards at the time of this writing), users should expect optimizations for throughput (that is raw power), but dual-GPU setups are not currently optimized for latency, which is vital for good VR experiences. As a matter of fact, according to Oculus VR, dual-GPU setups currently hurt VR experiences in this regard. With LiquidVR, not only will AMD cards be optimized for VR, but in a dual-card setup, each GPU can be used to render the feed for each eye.&nbsp;</p> <p>AMD calls its fourth pillar, “Direct to Display” rendering. This is a rendering technique that enables direct front buffer rendering to the headset, without having to go through Windows first. It will also be platform-agnostic and able to work with a variety of HMDs, not just the Oculus Rift.</p> <p>AMD acknowledges VR has a tough road ahead, but thinks VR is the next frontier of computing and wants to accelerate the process. The company outlined several uses for VR headsets that include: education, medical, big data visualization, training/simulation, entertainment, gaming, virtual-social world, and remote presence.</p> <p>The company is currently in talks with several HMD manufacturers, and time will tell if AMD’s tools will help and be adopted or will just be another cog in this ever-fragmenting world of VR.</p> <p>What do you think of AMD’s VR initiative? Let us know in the comments below.</p> amd GDC 2015 liquidvr nvidia oculus rift virtual reality News Features Wed, 04 Mar 2015 01:25:59 +0000 Jimmy Thang 29530 at Valve Announces Steam Link, Source 2, and More at GDC <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u166440/steam_link.jpg" alt="Steam Link" title="Steam Link" width="200" height="112" style="float: right;" />Source 2 will be free for content developers</h3> <p>The Game Developers Conference is in full swing and we are starting to get a glimpse of what is being shown there. One of the more interesting parts of GDC revolves around what Valve has up its sleeve. <a title="Valve to show new living room devices" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Last week</span></a>, the company said that it would be presenting some new living room devices in addition to its Steam Machines and finalized Steam Controller. Now, the wait is over, as <strong>Valve has announced the Steam Link, Source 2, and two new technologies for its VR headset</strong>.</p> <p>The Steam Link&nbsp;is designed to extend a user’s Steam experience to any room in the house by streaming Steam content from any PC on the same home network. Steam Machines, Linux PCs, Windows PCs, and Macs will be able to take advantage of Steam Link, which will support 1080p at 60Hz with low latency. According to the company, the Steam Link will retail for $49.99 in the United States, and is also available with the Steam Controller for an additional $49.99.</p> <p>Valve also revealed two new technologies designed for its recently announced VR headset. There is Lighthouse, a room scale tracking system, and a VR input system. "In order to have a high quality VR experience, you need high-resolution, high-speed tracking," said Valve's Alan Yates. "Lighthouse gives us the ability to do this for an arbitrary number of targets at a low enough BOM cost that it can be incorporated into TVs, monitors, headsets, input devices, or mobile devices."&nbsp;</p> <p>Lighthouse will be free for any hardware manufacturers that might interested in the tech; developer versions of the VR headset will be available this spring, with a consumer version available by the end of the year.</p> <p>But Valve wasn’t done. It also announced the Source 2 engine, the successor to its Source engine, which has been used for games such as Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike: Source (check out our list of <a title="10 best Source Games" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">The 10 Best Source Engine Games</span></a>). The company says that its latest graphics engine has been designed for both professional developers and gamers who might be interested in creating and developing their own games. Valve will make Source 2 available for free to content developers.</p> <p>VR demos are currently being shown at GDC, along with Steam Machines scheduled to be released sometime in November from partners such as Alienware and Falcon Northwest. One upcoming Steam Machine demo will show Epic's recently announced Unreal Tournament running on a 4K monitor via a Falcon Northwest Steam Machine.</p> <p>Which one of these announcements has grabbed your curiosity? Or do you think Valve has bitten off more than it can chew? Let us know in the comments section below!&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Follow Sean on&nbsp;<a title="SeanDKnight Google+" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Google+</span></a>, <a title="SeanDKnight's Twitter" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Twitter</span></a>, and <a title="SeanDKnight Facebook" href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff0000;">Facebook</span></a></em></p> lighthouse Source 2 source engine Steam Link steamvr Valve vr headset Gaming News Wed, 04 Mar 2015 00:47:17 +0000 Sean D Knight 29529 at EVGA Announces GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC with 4GB of Onboard Memory <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/evga_geforce_gtx_960_supersc.jpg" alt="EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC" title="EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC" width="228" height="148" style="float: right;" />Now with twice the GDDR5 memory</h3> <p>There were rumors earlier this year that 4GB versions of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 960 graphics card would show up in March, and it turns out they were right. <strong>EVGA has emerged as the first to cross into 4GB territory with its GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC graphics card announced today</strong>. Though it's a mid-range card, EVGA is promoting the benefit of higher texture qualities and better 4K resolution gaming performance with the added memory.</p> <p>To keep the things cool and quiet, EVGA has also outfitted its newest graphics card with its ACX 2.0+ custom cooler.</p> <p>"The new EVGA ACX 2.0+ cooler brings new features to the award winning EVGA ACX 2.0 cooling technology. A Memory MOSFET Cooling Plate (MMCP) reduces MOSFET temperatures up to 11C, and optimized Straight Heat Pipes (SHP) reduce GPU temperature by 5C," EVGA says. "ACX 2.0+ coolers also feature optimized Swept fan blades, double ball bearings and an extreme low power motor, delivering more air flow with less power, unlocking additional power for the GPU."</p> <p>EVGA's GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC sports 1,279MHz base and 1,342MHz boost clockspeeds, which are overclocked from the reference design's 1,127MHz base and 1,178MHz boost specifications. The 4GB of GDDR5 memory stays at stock (7,010MHz) on a 128-bit bus.</p> <p>The card is also notable for its dual-BIOS design. Should something go wrong while tinkering, you can switch to a secondary BIOS with a quick flip of a switch.</p> <p>No word yet on when the 4GB card will be available or for how much. There is, however, a "Notify Me" button on the card's <a href="" target="_blank">product page</a>.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> 4GB Build a PC evga geforce gtx 960 graphics card Hardware nvidia Video Card News Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:06:51 +0000 Paul Lilly 29527 at AMD to Developers: Focus Your Efforts on DirectX 12, Not Mantle <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/mantle_rip.jpg" alt="Mantle R.I.P." title="Mantle R.I.P." width="228" height="159" style="float: right;" />Goodbye Mantle, we hardly knew ye</h3> <p>In a blog post on Monday, AMD's Raja Koduri waxed nostalgic on Mantle and how it "revolutionized the industry's thinking on low-overhead/high-throughput graphics," among other things. But at the end of what reads like a reluctant death sentence, <strong>AMD told developers that if they're interested in Mantle 1.0's functionality, they should focus their attention on DirectX 12 or GLnext</strong>.</p> <p>AMD never outright declares that Mantle is dead, and it even vowed to support its partners that have committed to Mantle in future projects, such as Battlefield Hardline. Likewise, <a href="" target="_blank">AMD talked</a> about a need for Mantle to take on new capabilities, to "evolve beyond mastery of the draw call," and that it will continue to serve the company as a graphics innovation platform available to select partners with custom needs.</p> <p>So technically, Mantle isn't dead, it's just largely been rendered expendable with DirectX 12 in the wings. Rather than fight it, AMD is encouraging developers to move one, save for those with very specific needs. Or at least that's how we're reading the blog post.</p> <p>Koduri also said that AMD no longer plans to release Mantle as a public SDK. Instead, the company is making available Mantle's 450-page programming guide and API reference, which developers will be able to download sometime later this month.</p> <p>It's a very odd announcement, as Koduri tells developers interested in Mantle to focus on DX12 instead, and then ends things by saying, "Join AMD this week at Game Developer Conference 2015 to see not just the future of Mantle, but the future of PC graphics as well."</p> <p>We'll have more details later this week as they emerge.</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> amd api directx 12 GLnext mantle Software News Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:45:43 +0000 Paul Lilly 29526 at Mushkin Striker Solid State Drives are Now Available <!--paging_filter--><h3><img src="/files/u69/mushkin_striker_0.jpg" alt="Mushkin Striker" title="Mushkin Striker" width="228" height="223" style="float: right;" />Fast and capacious storage</h3> <p>It's been a couple of months since Mushkin first trotted out its Striker line of solid state drives. <a href="">First announced</a> at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this year, the Striker line drew interest for its rated speeds, which can reach up to 565MB/s for read and up to 550MB/s for write transfers. Not quite recording breaking, but certainly one of the faster spec'd SATA 6Gbps SSD lines. If you've been waiting for them to be available, your wait is over -- <strong>Mushkin's Striker line is now available to purchase online</strong>.</p> <p>Pricing looks pretty fair for the level of performance promised. On Newegg, the drives are currently selling for:</p> <ul> <li>Mushkin Enhanced Striker 240GB: <a href="" target="_blank">$105 + $1 shipping</a></li> <li>Mushkin Enhanced Striker 480GB: <a href="" target="_blank">$190 + $1 shipping</a></li> <li>Mushkin Enhanced Striker 960GB: <a href="" target="_blank">$400 + $1 shipping</a></li> </ul> <p>"Striker is aptly named for its purpose: to mark its place as the premier high-performance solid-state drive series," said Brian Flood, Director of Product Development at Mushkin. " The Striker will allow its users to experience highly-accelerated application load times, boot performance, multimedia editing, and general usage."</p> <p>As a refresher, Mushkin outfits its Striker SSDs with a Phison PS3110-S10 quad-core controller. In addition to the aforementioned performance metrics, the drives also deliver 4K random read and write transactions of up to 90,000 IOPS.</p> <p>Other features include end-to-end data path protection to thwart errors, SmartECC for an added layer of error correction, SmartRefresh (scans flash during idle and runtime to look for and replace weak blocks), and SmartFlush (proprietary algorithm to minimize DRAM utilization for user data and help reduce write amplification).</p> <p><em>Follow Paul on <a href="" target="_blank">Google+</a>, <a href="!/paul_b_lilly" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a></em></p> Build a PC Hardware mushkin solid state drive ssd storage Striker News Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:11:24 +0000 Paul Lilly 29525 at