MojoKid writes Recently, Carnival cruise lines gave tours of their CSMART facility in Almere, the Netherlands. This facility is one of a handful in the world that can provide both extensive training and certification on cruise ships as well as a comprehensive simulation of what it's like to command one. Simulating the operation of a Carnival cruise ship is anything but simple. Let's start with a ship that's at least passingly familiar to most people — the RMS Titanic. At roughly 46,000 tons and 882 feet long, she was, briefly, the largest vessel afloat. Compared to a modern cruise ship, however, Titanic was a pipsqueak. As the size and complexity of the ships has grown, the need for complete simulators has grown as well. The C-SMART facility currently sports two full bridge simulators, several partial bridges, and multiple engineering rooms. When the Costa Concordia wrecked off the coast of Italy several years ago, the C-SMART facility was used to simulate the wreck based on the black boxes from the ship itself. When C-SMART moves to its new facilities, it'll pick up an enormous improvement in processing power. The next-gen visual system is going to be powered by104 GeForce Grid systems running banks of GTX 980 GPUs. C-SMART executives claim it will actually substantially reduce their total power consumption thanks to the improved Maxwell GPU. Which solution is currently in place was unclear, but the total number of installed systems is dropping from just over 500 to 100 rackmounted units.
Forbes contributor Jason Evangelho has nothing good to say about a recent Windows 7 patch that's causing a range of trouble for some users. He writes: If you have Windows 7 set to automatically update every Tuesday, it may be to permanently disable that feature. Microsoft has just confirmed that a recent update — specifically KB 3004394 — is causing a range of serious problems and recommends removing it. The first issue that caught my attention, via AMD’s Robert Hallock, is that KB 3004394 blocks the installation or update of graphics drivers such as AMD’s new Catalyst Omega. Nvidia users are also reporting difficulty installing GeForce drivers, though I can’t confirm this personally as my machines are all Windows 8.1. Hallock recommended manually uninstalling the update, advice now echoed officially by Microsoft. More troubles are detailed in the article; on the upside, Microsoft has released a fix.
MojoKid writes One of the most in-your-face buzzwords of the past year has been "4K," and there's little doubt that the forthcoming CES show in early January will bring it back in full force. As it stands today, 4K really isn't that rare, or expensive. You can even get 4K PC monitors for an attractive price. There does remain one issue, however; a lack of 4K content. We're beginning to see things improve, but it's still slow going. Given that, you might imagine that display vendors would hold off on trying to push that resolution envelope further – but you just can't stop hardware vendors from pushing the envelope. Earlier this year, both Apple and Dell unveiled "5K" displays that nearly doubled the number of pixels of 4K displays. 4K already brutalizes top-end graphics cards and lacks widely available video content, and yet here we are looking at the prospect of 5K. Many jaws dropped when 4K was first announced, and likewise with 5K. Now? Well, yes, 8K is on its way. We have LG to thank for that. At CES, the company will be showing-off a 55-inch display that boasts a staggering 33 million pixels — derived from a resolution of 7680x4320. It might not be immediately clear, but that's far more pixels than 4K, which suggests this whole "K" system of measuring resolutions is a little odd. On paper, you might imagine that 8K has twice the pixels of 4K, but instead, it's 4x.
MojoKid writes: AMD just dropped its new Catalyst Omega driver package that is the culmination of six months of development work. AMD Catalyst Omega reportedly brings over 20 new features and a wealth of bug fixes to the table, along with performance increases both on AMD Radeon GPUs and integrated AMD APUs. Some of the new functionality includes Virtual Super Resolution, or VSR. VSR is "game- and engine-agnostic" and renders content at up to 4K resolution, then displays it at a resolution that your monitor actually supports. AMD says VSR allows for increased image quality, similar in concept to Super Sampling Anti-Aliasing (SSAA). Another added perk of VSR is the ability to see more content on the screen at once. To take advantage of VSR, you'll need a Radeon R9 295X2, R9 290X, R9 290, or R9 285 discrete graphics card. Both single- and multi-GPU configurations are currently supported. VSR is essentially AMD's answer to NVIDIA's DSR, or Dynamic Super Resolution. In addition, AMD is claiming performance enhancements in a number of top titles with these these new drivers. Reportedly, as little as 6 percent improvement in performance in FIFA Online to as much as a 29 percent increase in Batman: Arkham Origins can be gained when using an AMD 7000-Series APU, for example. On discrete GPUs, an AMD Radeon R9 290X's performance increases ranged from 8 percent in Grid 2 to roughly 16 percent in Bioshock Infinity.
An anonymous reader writes Some of the worst X.Org security issues were just publicized in an X.Org security advisory. The vulnerabilities deal with protocol handling issues and led to 12 CVEs published and code dating back to 1987 is affected within X11. Fixes for the X Server are temporarily available via this Git repository.
mikejuk writes A new games console is being launched based on the classic Sinclair ZX Spectrum from the 80s. Within days of the start of its Indiegogo campaign all of the 1000 Limited Edition Spectrum Vegas had been claimed but there is still the chance to get your hands on one of the second batch. The Sinclair Spectrum Vega is really retro in the sense that it plugs into a TV, thus avoiding the need for a monitor, and comes complete with around 1,000 games built-in. Games are accessed through a menu based system, and once selected load automatically, taking the player directly into the game play mode. This is very different from the original Spectrum with its rubber-topped keyboard and BASIC interface. If you have existing Spectrum games you'd like to play, you can use an SD card to load them onto the Vega, though the current publicity material doesn't give much clue as to how you go from ancient cassette tape to SD card. As for programming new games, there are ZX Spectrum emulators for Windows that are free and ready to use.
MojoKid writes To say that BioWare has something to prove with Dragon Age: Inquisition is an understatement. The first Dragon Age: Origins was a colossal, sprawling, unabashed throwback to classic RPGs. Conversely, Dragon Age: Inquisition doesn't just tell an epic story, it evolves in a way that leaves you, as the Inquisitor, leading an army. Creating that sense of scope required a fundamentally different approach to gameplay. Neither Dragon Origins or Dragon Age 2 had a true "open" world in the sense that Skyrim is an open world. Instead, players clicked on a location and auto-traveled across the map from Point A to Point B. Thus, a village might be contained within a single map, while a major city might have 10-12 different locations to explore. Inquisition keeps the concept of maps as opposed to a completely open world, but it blows those maps up to gargantuan sizes. Instead of simply consisting of a single town or a bit of wilderness, the new maps in Dragon Age: Inquisition are chock-full of areas to explore, side quests, crafting materials to gather, and caves, dungeons, mountain peaks, flowing rivers, and roving bands of monsters. And Inquisition doesn't forget the small stuff — the companion quests, the fleshed-out NPCs, or the rich storytelling — it just seeks to put those events in a much larger context across a broad geographical area. Dragon Age: Inquisition is one of the best RPGs to come along in a long time. Never has a game tried to straddle both the large-scale, 10,000-foot master plan and the small-scale, intimate adventure and hit both so well. In terms of graphics performance, you might be surprised to learn that a Radeon R9 290X has better frame delivery than a GeForce GTX 980, despite the similarity in the overall frame rate. The worst frame time for an Radeon R9 290X is just 38.5ms or 26 FPS while a GeForce GTX 980 is at 46.7ms or 21 FPS. AMD takes home an overall win in Dragon Age: Inquisition currently, though Mantle support isn't really ready for prime time. In related news, hypnosec sends word that Chinese hackers claim to have cracked Denuvo DRM, the anti-piracy solution for Dragon Age: Inquisition. A Chinese hacker group has claimed that they have managed to crack Denuvo DRM — the latest anti-piracy measure to protect PC games from piracy. Introduced for the first time in FIFA 15 for PC, the Denuvo anti-piracy solution managed to keep the FIFA 15 uncracked for 2 months and Dragon Age Inquisition for a month. However, Chinese hackers claim that they have managed to rip open the DRM after fifteen days of work. The hackers have uploaded a video to prove their accomplishment. A couple of things need to be pointed out here. First,the Chinese team has merely cracked the DRM and this doesn't necessarily mean that there are working cracks out there. Also, the crack only works with Windows 7 64-bit systems and won't work on Windows 8 or Windows 7 32-bit systems for now. The team is currently working to collect hardware data on processor identification codes.
hypnosec writes Microsoft has finally bid a goodbye to the age-old Clip Art image library found in its Office products as its usage has been declining over the years. Redmond replaced the Clip Art's online image library with Bing Image Search. This means that people searching for online images inside an Office app will now be directed to a gallery powered by Bing Images that will bring in results from around the web. Bing's copyright filter based on the Creative Commons licensing system will let users get royalty-free images which they can use, share, or modify for either personal or commercial use.
An anonymous reader writes From the release page: Version 4 of DragonFly brings Haswell graphics support, 3D acceleration, and improved performance in extremely high-traffic networks. DragonFly now supports up to 256 CPUs, Haswell graphics (i915), concurrent pf operation, and a variety of other devices.
An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reports that Samsung has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission asking them to block the import of Nvidia's graphics chips . This is part of Samsung's retaliation for a similar claim filed by Nvidia against Samsung and Qualcomm back in September. Both companies are wielding patents pertaining to the improved operation of graphics chips in cell phones and other mobile devices.
MojoKid writes: "BioWare's long-awaited Dragon Age Inquisition has dropped for the PS4, Xbox One, and PCs. A comparison of the visuals in key scenes between all three platforms shows that while the PC variant clearly looks the best in multiple areas (as it should), there's evidence of good, intelligent optimization for consoles and PCs alike. After the debacle of Assassin's Creed Unity, Inquisition could provide an important taste of how to do things right. As expected though, when detail levels are increased, the PC still pulls away with the best overall visuals. The Xbox One and PS4 are largely matched, while PC renders of characters have better facial coloring and slightly more detailed textures. The lighting models are also far more detailed on the PC version with the PS4 following behind. The Xbox One, in contrast, is rather muddy. Overall, the PC and PS4 are closest in general detail, with the Xbox One occasionally lagging behind.
MojoKid writes Last week, NVIDIA offered information regarding its Android Lollipop update for the SHIELD Tablet and also revealed a new game bundle for it. This week, NVIDIA gave members of the press early access to the Lollipop update and it will also be rolling out to the general public sometime later today. Some of the changes are subtle, but others are more significant and definitely give the tablet a different look and feel over the original Android KitKat release. Android Lollipop introduces a new "material design" that further flattens out the look of the OS. Google seems to have taken a more minimalist approach as everything from the keyboard to the settings menus have been cleaned up considerably. Many parts of the interface don't have any markings except for the absolute necessities. While the OS definitely feels more fluid and responsive, the default look isn't always better, depending on your personal view. The app tray for example has a plain, white background which looks kind of jarring if you've using a colorful background. And finding the proper touch points for things like a settings menu or clearing notifications isn't always clear. Performance-wise, NVIDIA's Shield Tablet showed significantly better performance on Lollipop for general compute tasks in benchmarks like Mobile XPRT but lagged behind Kit Kat in graphics performance slightly, which could be attributed to driver optimization.
An anonymous reader writes Jaunt, a company that's raised more than $34 million to create a platform for live-action cinematic virtual reality experiences, has set out to demonstrate their toolset by producing three made-for-VR short films that are shot in 360 degrees and in 3D. Road to VR has an exclusive preview of the films, which the company says will have interactive trailers released very soon for Oculus Rift and Android (for use with Cardboard and other smartphone VR adapters).
jones_supa writes OpenGL support under GTK is getting into good shape for providing a nice, out-of-the-box experience by default on key platforms for the GTK+ 3.16 / GNOME 3.16 release in March. For a few weeks now within mainline GTK+ has been native OpenGL support and as part of that a new GtkGLArea widget for allowing OpenGL drawing within GTK applications. Since that initial work landed, there's been more GTK+ OpenGL code progressing that right now primarily benefits Linux X11 and Wayland users. While good progress is being made and improvements still ongoing to the GNOME toolkit, GNOME developers are requesting help in ensuring other GTK+ backends can benefit from this OpenGL support. If you are using or planning to use GTK+ 3 on Windows or OS X, and you know how to use OpenGL on those two platforms, please consider helping out the GTK+ developers by implementing the GdkGLContext API using WGL and AppleGL.
jones_supa writes We all are aware of various chirping and whining sounds that electronics can produce. Modern graphics cards often suffer from these kind of problems in form of coil whine. But how widespread is it really? Hardware Canucks put 50 new graphics cards side-by-side to compare them solely from the perspective of subjective acoustic disturbance. NVIDIA's reference platforms tended to be quite well behaved, just like their board partners' custom designs. The same can't be said about AMD since their reference R9 290X and R9 290 should be avoided if you're at all concerned about squealing or any other odd noise a GPU can make. However the custom Radeon-branded SKUs should usually be a safe choice. While the amount and intensity of coil whine largely seems to boil down to luck of the draw, at least most board partners are quite friendly regarding their return policies concerning it.
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Life is hard when you're a AAA publisher. Last month, Ubisoft blamed weak console hardware for the troubles it had bringing Assassin's Creed Unity up to speed, claiming that it could've hit 100 FPS but for weak console CPUs. Now, in the wake of the game's disastrous launch, the company has changed tactics — suddenly, all of this is AMD's fault. An official company forum post currently reads: "We are aware that the graphics performance of Assassin's Creed Unity on PC may be adversely affected by certain AMD CPU and GPU configurations. This should not affect the vast majority of PC players, but rest assured that AMD and Ubisoft are continuing to work together closely to resolve the issue, and will provide more information as soon as it is available." There are multiple problems with this assessment. First, there's no equivalent Nvidia-centric post on the main forum, and no mention of the fact that if you own an Nvidia card of any vintage but a GTX 970 or 980, you're going to see less-than ideal performance. According to sources, the problem with Assassin's Creed Unity is that the game is issuing tens of thousands of draw calls — up to 50,000 and beyond, in some cases. This is precisely the kind of operation that Mantle and DirectX 12 are designed to handle, but DirectX 11, even 11.2, isn't capable of efficiently processing that many calls at once. It's a fundamental limit of the API and it kicks in harshly in ways that adding more CPU cores simply can't help with.
Tekla Perry writes Stealthy 'cinematic reality' company Magic Leap may be based in Florida--but it's doing a lot of hiring from the Bay Area, scooping up engineers from Pixar, Google, Apple, and Intel--along with a few Willow Garage alums. And it's got openings for many many more. Are all these folks with long-term Silicon Valley roots really going to move to South Florida? Or is Magic Leap getting ready to open up a Silicon Valley research center to house the brain trust it is gathering? Here's what we know about Magic Leap and its technology, who's joining it, and what other kinds of engineers the company aims to hire. Magic Leap has a lot of money to do all that hiring, having just raised more than half a billion dollars, the bulk of it from Google. If you're working in the Bay Area now, would you look forward to a move to Florida, or rather stay where you are?
An anonymous reader writes: LunarG, on contract with Valve Software, discovered a critical shortcoming with the open-source Intel Linux graphics driver that was handicapping the performance. A special bit wasn't being set by the Linux driver but was by the Windows driver, which when enabled is increasing the Linux performance in many games by now ~20%+, which should allow for a much more competitive showing between Intel OpenGL performance on Windows vs. Linux. However, the patch setting this bit isn't public yet as apparently it's breaking video acceleration in certain cases.
dryriver (1010635) writes with this clipping from the BBC: A French health watchdog has recommended that children under the age of six should not be allowed access to 3D content. The Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (Anses) added that access for those up to the age of 13 should be 'moderate'. It follows research into the possible impact of 3D imaging on still-developing eyes. Few countries currently have guidelines about 3D usage. According to Anses, the process of assimilating a three-dimensional effect requires the eyes to look at images in two different places at the same time before the brain translates it as one image. 'In children, and particularly before the age of six, the health effects of this vergence-accommodation conflict could be much more severe given the active development of the visual system at this time,' it said in a statement.