In today’s world of gaming hardware, ray tracing is the epitome of gaming graphics. Sadly, rendering them is difficult for current hardware due to their extremely random nature. Caustic Graphics is fixing that issue, all thanks to their graphics co-processor, the Ray Tracing Processing Unit (RTPU).
The RTPU works alongside current 3D graphics processors to bring rays at frame rates acceptable for interactive applications. While the offered 3-5 frames per second works for these applications, it’s nowhere near what gamers require. Thankfully, they claim that their second generation of hardware, out sometime next year, will be able to deliver 14 times that frame rate.
Be sure to check out a video of the tracing in action here.
MSI has finally put a price tag on their extremely eco-friendly touchscreen Wind Top. That price? A very reasonable $529.
At the heart of the Wind Top will be an Intel Atom 230 processor, a 160GB SATA HDD, 4 USB 2.0 ports, a 4 in 1 card reader and an 18.5-inch widescreen. It’ll come standard with Windows XP Home, and will even pack a built-in webcam and microphone to let you video conference, right out of the box.
Toshiba recently updated their line of Qosmio and Dynabook laptops with upgraded graphics and processing power.
The Qosmios will come in two flavors, including the 18.4-inch G50 ($3,421) and the 15.4-inch FX ($2,119). Relative newcomer, the 14.1-inch Dynabook SS RX2 (pictured), will come with a 128GB SSD, and cost $2,840. All of these will come with Intel Core 2 Duo processors and Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT graphics processors.
Though, unless you’re currently living in Japan or are willing to import one of these from overseas, you won’t be getting your hands on one of these anytime soon. Currently, they’re only available in the land of the rising sun, with no mention of plans to bring them to these here United States.
When solid state drives (SSDs) first made a push into the mainstream market last earlier this year, less than stellar benchmark results and buggy controllers did little to convince users it worth paying a premium for flash-based drives over less expensive and much larger (in capacity) hard drives. But the latest round of SSDs have picked up their game, such as OCZ's refreshed Vertex line, the Vertex EX.
"The new OCZ Vertex EX is designed to deliver unparalleled performance and reliability, featuring the latest-generation architecture and SATA interface utilizing single-level cell NAND flash memory for unmatched overall system responsiveness and stability for enterprise grade server solutions," said Alex Mei, CMO of the OCZ Technology Group.
But forget about enterprise grade server solutions - the Vertex EX looks to be a killer storage option for high end desktops, at least on paper. Available in 60GB and 120GB capacities, the new drives boast an impressive 260MB/s read, 210MB/s write (200MB/s for the 60GB), and up to 100MB/s sustained write. Like the previous Vertex drives, the new EX refresh also comes with 64MB of onboard cache and support RAID configurations.
At this point in the game, we can pretty much recite the core configuration of any new netbook that might appear, and it goes something like this. A 10.1-inch display (give or take an inch), Intel's Atom N270 processor (1.6GHz, 533MHz frontside bus, 512KB L2 cache), 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, three USB 2.0 ports, WiFi, Bluetooth, a mutlicard reader, and various other odds and ends. So it comes as no surprises that Sharp's Mebius PC-NJ70A follows that blueprint almost to a tee, if not for the combo trackpad / secondary display.
That's right - the PC-NJ70A's trackpad serves double duty as a secondary display with an LCD built right into the palm rest. Protected by a hard transparent material, the little LCD pushes pixels at a respectable 854 x 480 resolution, automatically adjusts brightness levels based on surrounding light, and supports handwriting recognition via the included software.
So far, street prices in Japan are hovering around ¥80,000 (about $817USD). No word yet on when, or if, Sharp plans to sell the Mebius stateside.
Much to the delight of Intel, whose Atom processors have become the de facto standard in all things netbook, the ultraportable PC has proven more popular among the mainstream crowd than Jonas Brothers tickets among tweenage girls. It would seem at this point that netbooks are much more than just a passing fad, but could sales be gearing up to level off?
According to news and rumor site DigiTimes, Taiwan-based netbook vendors say shipment volumes for Q1 are falling short of expectations. The un-cited sources claim that while Acer was estimated to ship two million of its popular Aspire One netbooks in Q1, channel sales didn't hit the mark. The same held true for Asus and its Eee PC sales, which were expected to hit one million units, but fell shy at 900,000. Meanwhile, MSI also reportedly saw lower than expected sales, shipping just 200,000 netbooks.
To make up for the shortfall, channel vendors say both MSI and Acer have started focusing on ultra-thin notebooks.
It's turning out to be a rough month for IBM, who in recent weeks looked like it was going to acquire Sun Microsystems for $7 billion, but lost out to Oracle once takeover talks between big blue and Sun broke down. Had the deal gone through, IBM and Sun would have accounted for about 65 percent of the market for server computers running Unix and 42 percent of the total server market. And maybe better revenue numbers.
Instead, IBM posted an 11 percent drop in its quarterly revenue at $21.7 billion, which was less than Wall Street was expecting, who had forecast $22.6 billion. Net profit for the quarter also dropped 1 percent to $2.3 billion from $2.32 billion one year ago, however this was viewed more of a postive as Wall Street had been expecting a bigger drop in profits.
"These were decent results in light of the challenging economy. Certainly the top line is being impacted by the weak economy," said Andy Miedler, analyst at Edward Jones.
Despite the drop in revenue, IBM has been holding together well when compared to other technology companies. This can be attributed to putting a greater focus on software and services, resulting in a more profitable revenue mix than it had once been. And according to IBM, the company's full-year profit outlook is ahead of pace.
As for losing out to Oracle on the Sun deal, IBM's Chief Financial Officer Mark Loughridge said, "We've been competing with Sun, we know Oracle inside out. They now have the same address and same mail box, but we're talking about the same team that we've been competing against for some time and winning on the field."
Does your car have a USB port? Kick that nasty smoking habit and it just might. By freeing up your car's cigarette lighter, you can then shove Belkin's Micro Auto Charger into the socket and charge your BlackBerry, iPod, or other USB devices.
The Micro Auto Charger comes with a single 1-amp USB "quick-charge port for fastest possible charge" and sits nearly flush with the dashboard, Belkin says. For a little more jingle (and a lot less svelte), Belkin also offers the Dual Auto Charger, which tosses an extra 500mA USB port and USB-to-mini-USB cable into the mix.
You'll have to wait until next month for the Micro Auto Charger, which will sell for $15, or $20 if you want Belkin to include a iPode/iPhone cable. Those interested in the Dual Auto Charger can pick one up now for $30.
If the latest web chatter turns out to be true, then Santa won't be stuffing any 6-core Intel chips in anyone's stockings this year. Instead, news site HKEPC tells us Intel's roadmap for for its 6-core Gulftown chip has been pushed back from Q4 2009 / Q1 2010 to sometime in Q2 2010.
From what we know so far, Gulftown will be worth the wait. Built around the Core i7 architecture, Gulftown will purportedly support HyperThreading, turning those 6 cores into 12. It will also come with two QuickPatch Interconnects (QPIs), 12MB of L3 cache, and hardware encryption support. Perhaps best of all, Intel's 32nm Gulftown likely serve as a drop-in replacement for LGA 1366 socket motherboards and work with current X58 chipsets.
In an understandably controversial move, Konami and Atomic Games recently demonstrated their upcoming “realistic” shooter, Six Days in Fallujah. The game – apparently supervised by the hardened eyes of soldiers who actually fought the debatably good fight – will focus primarily on the Second Battle of Fallujah. And as much as I enjoy the beautifully orchestrated, occasionally tear-jerking fictional plots of games like Call of Duty 4 and Brothers in Arms, I think Konami’s bold leap is a necessary one.
There’s just one problem, though: They’re doing it wrong.
Many publications were recently invited into the trenches of the still deep-in-development title, and – as many dejected “first impressions” articles can attest – Fallujah’s gameplay’s paradoxical lack of realism stands out like, well, Rambo in a shootout. Take this bit, for instance:
“In another clip, the player broke off from his squad, crouched up behind two insurgents who were firing on US soldiers, and took them out from a few feet away like some kind of renegade commando. I may be ignorant of this particular battle, but I've certainly never heard of any Army ninjas breaking off from their squads and capping insurgents solo. Maybe something like that has happened once or twice; either way, the videogamey nature of the moment seemed entirely out of place,” said Shacknews reporter Nick Breckon.
Continue reading to find out why Six Days in Fallujah is in such a schizophrenic state, and how we can salvage it.