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Do Video Games Help Critical Thinking

July 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

At the Develop conference in Brighton this week, the team behind a new charitable foundation called The Near Future Society asked developers to embrace games as a tool for critical thinking; an antidote to a cultural landscape in which “fake news, bias and extremism” are increasingly powerful forces.

The Near Future Society was initially conceived by Oliver Lewis, a former diplomat and the current VP of corporate development at Improbable. Lewis was joined onstage by Nick Button-Brown, the COO of Sensible Object and one of Improbable advisers, who became intrigued by The Near Future Society’s belief in the positive influence games could have on society.

“We wondered whether games can develop critical thinking, and help us understand how to think about moral reasoning,” Lewis said. “We started having this conversation, and we decided that it’s much more complicated than ‘can they?’, and that perhaps they already do.”

“People are becoming more extreme. The center ground is disappearing. It has now become okay to ignore opposing viewpoints, it has now become okay to shout them down”

The Near Future Society’s first meeting took place before GDC this year, on the Warner Bros. lot in Los Angeles. “The idea was to get together government, technology, education and entertainment people to talk about how to address the problems of the world,” Button-Brown said. “When we met the government people, the thing they were most worried about was fake news, and the impact fake news has on people’s opinions.

“People are not questioning. We see it, and we see it in our own lives as well. People are becoming more extreme. The centre ground is disappearing. It has now become okay to ignore opposing viewpoints, it has now become okay to shout them down.”

One of the distinctive qualities of games as a medium is the ability to empower players to make choices, and to show the consequences of those choices. Lewis and Button-Brown cited some well known examples of this technique: the admittedly “simplistic” moral split in a game like Knights of the Old Republic, the “Would you kindly?” reveal in Bioshock, and the creeping realization of The Brotherhood of Steel’s true nature in Fallout 4.

“Having spent a lot of time with the UK and the US military, I have an affinity for this group,” Lewis said, referring to his experiences embedded with the military in Afghanistan. “[The Brotherhood of Steel] have some really cool kit. But the more you interact with this group it starts to get a little uneasy, then you start to realize that they’re a little bit fascist.”

Games afford players the freedom to arrive at such realisations, encouraging a degree of critical thinking absent in linear media. This power, Lewis argued, gives developers a responsibility to carefully consider how they present difficult subject matter to the world. Call of Duty, for example, depicts “a type of warfare that’s unrecognizable to the modern Western soldier,” one where the Geneva Convention and “the reality of the law of armed conflict” are not strictly observed.

“If you go into a mission and your objective is to kill the enemy, you are murdering wounded and potentially surrendering soldiers. That is illegal,” he said. “You are potentially using a flamethrower as a weapon. That is illegal. You are told to destroy civilian property and religious buildings. That is illegal. To some extent you’re also committing war crimes.

“A lot of game depictions of war are not accurate emotionally, are not accurate operationally, even if they’re accurate visually. And as we get towards ever more immersive experiences we have a responsibility to represent that moral reasoning.”

“A lot of game depictions of war are not accurate emotionally, are not accurate operationally, even if they’re accurate visually”

However, while there are examples of games that don’t take that responsibility seriously, The Near Future Society was mainly inspired by the games that already do.

“There are just so many games where, fundamentally, we teach players to think analytically,” Button-Brown said. “We teach them to question their environment, and to expect that the people that are talking to them are not necessarily telling the truth all the time. That’s what we do in our stories. We’re already doing it, and we’re actually quite good at it.”

“In the earlier part [of the talk], we deliberately held up some of the areas where we could do better,” Lewis added. “But only as foreground to say that the games industry writ large is already doing so much good in terms of encouraging critical thinking, and encouraging moral reasoning.”

Button-Brown discussed State of Decay and EVE Online as examples of games that use persistence to encourage players to think about the consequences of their decisions. In the case of the former, when one of your companions dies there is no option to restart or bring them back. “I then had to start making decisions about which of my companions I could sacrifice,” he said. “That’s uncomfortable, even in a virtual world.”

Lucas Pope’s Papers Please, which puts the player in the role of a border guard in a fictional country, was also singled out for praise. “It teaches people that there’s a grey area,” Button-Brown said. “Good decisions in Papers Please can end up with bad outcomes. You’re teaching moral action, and also connecting that to the consequences.”

Lewis discussed 11 bit Studios’ This War of Mine as a kind of counterpoint to games like Call of Duty, in the way that it depicts the experience of the people who suffer the most as a result of conflict. “It induces empathy with the displaced person, the people left behind after war,” he said. “Ordinary, normal people who have to try and eke out an existence; to survive and protect the people that we fought for.”

“There’s a decent chance we’re going to have much more influence as an industry over people’s morals”

Lewis and Button-Brown aren’t the only people to have noticed the potential for games to explore difficult subject matter. Last year, 11 bit Studios launched a publishing division with a stated aim of drawing attention to “meaningful games” like This War of Mine and Papers Please. “There are a lot of players who want those experiences,” publishing director Pawel Feldman told GamesIndustry.biz. “We know how to talk about these games. All we need are talented developers.”

The Near Future Society has a similar goal, albeit as a charitable organisation rather than a commercial one. Lewis expressed his belief that “social and political taboos” are ideally suited to games as a medium because, through play, “people are much more likely to engage with them.” An open brainstorming session at the end of the talk proved that developers are eager to explore this new territory; the Near Future Society will attempt to serve as a conduit between interested studios and bodies that might fund and support their work.

“One of the partners that we’re going for is the Roddenberry Foundation,” Lewis said, referring to the organization established by the son of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek. “We want many of the early projects that we do support to be deliberately utopian. If you want a living wage and [universal basic income], then let’s use popular culture to explore that, rather than just having a declaration from Mark Zuckerberg.”

Both Lewis and Button-Brown acknowledged that the games industry has a “left-wing bias”, and they were very clear that the goal of the Near Future Society is not to tell people how to think. “In the forum in Los Angeles, one of the greatest concerns of the US and UK government that came along…was that this would be propaganda,” Lewis said. “What we had to make very clear is that any projects that we do, we’ll be very open on who the collaborators are, and indeed what any overt political message is going to be.

“You could say that, within this broad idea of making games more political, you have to state what the politics are rather than hide it with subterfuge.”

Button-Brown added that simply reflecting the bias of any given side of an issue would could be “dangerous”, and it would also ignore the unique strength that games have to allow the player to explore ideas from multiple angles, and make their own choices. “That’s why we ended up at teaching critical thinking,” he said, “rather than ‘Get Trump out’.”

“Games are already the most accessible, arguably the most effective, and the largest provider of moral reasoning and critical thinking education in the world,” Lewis said. “Almost without realizing it, that’s one of the things that you’re providing to the global community.”

Understanding and embracing that idea will only become more important over time, Button-Brown said. “There’s a decent chance we’re going to have much more influence as an industry over people’s morals. We’re going to have much more influence over the way that they think. As people become more immersed in these worlds, it’s going to matter more.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

Pricing For AMD’s Ryzen 1300X Leaked

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

According to a Reddit post, upcoming Ryzen 3 SKUs, the Ryzen 3 1300X and the Ryzen 3 1200, will be hitting the market at US $129 and US $109 (exc. VAT), respectively.

While AMD has revealed a lot of details regarding its two upcoming quad-core Ryzen 3 SKUs yesterday, including the clocks and the launch date, we are still missing a couple of key details, including the TDP, amount of cache and the price.

In case you missed it yesterday, both Ryzen 3 SKUs are quad-core parts without SMT (Simultaneous Multi Threading) support, so they will stick to “just” four threads. The Ryzen 1300X works at 3.5GHz base and 3.7GHz Turbo clocks, while the Ryzen 3 1200 works at 3.1GHz base and 3.5GHz Turbo clocks. As rumored earlier, the Ryzen 3 lineup should retain the 2MB/8MB cache (L2/L3) as the Ryzen 5 series and should have the same 65W TDP, although these details are left to be confirmed.

Luckily, a Reddit user has managed to get unconfirmed details regarding the price of these two SKUs, suggesting that they should launch at US $129 for the Ryzen 3 1300X and US $109 for the Ryzen 3 1200, excluding VAT. While the price of the Ryzen 3 1300X sounds about right, and similar to what we heard before, we have our doubts regarding the Ryzen 3 1200 price, which we suspect would be closer to the US $100 mark.

In any case, we’ll know for sure in about two weeks when these parts are scheduled to hit retail/e-tail shelves. It will be quite interesting to see these Ryzen 3 SKUs compared to some Intel Core i3 Kaby Lake dual-core parts as we are quite sure that these will give Intel a hard time in that part of the market, offering significantly higher performance for much less money.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Intel Worried About AMD’s Epyc Processor

July 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel is clearly feeling a little insecure about AMD’s new Epyc Server processor range based on the RyZen technology.

Intel’s press office retreated to the company safe and pulled out its favorite pink handbag and emerged swinging.

It did a direct comparison between the two, and in one slide, it mentioned that the Epyc processor was ‘inconsistent’, and called it ‘glued together’.

Intel noted that it required a lot of optimisations to get it to work effectively, comparing it to the rocky start AMD had with Ryzen on the desktop. That is pretty much fighting talk, and it has gone down rather badly.

TechPowerUp noted that even though Epyc did contain four dies, it offered some advantages as well, like better yields. On top of that, they noted: “So AMD’s server platform will require optimisations as well because Ryzen did, for incomparably different workloads? History does inform the future, but not to the extent that Intel is putting it here to, certainly. Putting things in the same perspective, is Intel saying that their Xeon ecosystem sees gaming-specific optimizations?”

Intel still has a healthy lead on AMD in the server space. However, since the launch of Ryzen, Intel has seen a significant drop in support in the desktop market.

Trash talking is usually a sign that there is not much difference between products and it never really works – other than to amuse.

AMD announced its line of Epyc processors last month. The range consists of chips between eight and 32 cores, all of which support eight channels of DDR4-2666 memory. Pricing was announced to start from $400.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Video Game Development Going Truly Global?

July 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

The international video games industry owes a considerable amount to the efforts of immigrants from countries like Syria.

Companies like AdMob – founded by Syrian Entrepreneur Omar Hamoui, and later acquired by Google for $750 million – have helped reshape the conventions of game publishing as we know it. Steve Jobs’ own biological father was a Syrian emigrant to the states. On taking that journey, Abdulfattah ‘John’ Jandali unknowingly set events in motion that would lead to Apple’s reinvention of how we play, make and distribute games.

Beyond games there are numerous other examples of Syrian people who have helped better the world through technology, empowered to do so through freedom of travel. People like Sirin Hamsho, a Hama-born engineer who today resides in the United States, and has helped revolutionise renewable energy through her work with wind turbines.

Technology is, of course, progressed by collaboration, and cooperation happens most readily when people can get together. It’s the reason travelling to other countries – be it for a single meeting or a new life – is so often the catalyst for technological change. That’s why most in the games industry go to conferences all over the world; it’s a chance to understand distinct approaches, secure contacts, form alliances and spark collaboration.

When Trump’s long-promised travel ban became a rather chaotic reality, numerous games makers suddenly found their potential severely jeopardised. Suddenly, every US games conference was off the radar of hundreds of developers. No GDC, no E3, no nothing. Studios needing to take a couple of days to attend a meeting with a US publisher had the rug pulled from beneath their feet. Chances to meet new staff and find new partners were thrown into disarray.

That inspired Unity Technologies to conceive the ‘Unity Without Borders’ initiative, which sought to bring 50 developers to the Unite Europe conference in Amsterdam last month. After a selection process, Unity would handle and cover travel, accommodation, visas and anything else needed to afford games makers limited by Trump’s ban to engage with the free exchange of ideas that is the founding spirit of almost any game convention.

Meeting the developers brought to Unite as part of Without Borders, it is clear they greatly appreciate the opportunity. That, perhaps, should be obvious, but there is a sense on the show floor that the effort is about more than one middleware-specific company conference.

Ziad MollaMahmud is a man with many skills. By day he is a .NET developer for web applications, while also doing 3D modelling work in the architectural space. A Syrian based in Turkey, he has in recent years embraced game development, acquiring a taste for AR, which he has explored through modest projects of his own conception.

“This is a very, very good opportunity for me,” MollaMahmud says of his success in visiting Unite Europe as part of Without Borders. “It’s a breaking point in my life, where I can move to a better position and change my way of thinking about the future. I believe coming here will have a very good effect over me and my future.”

That’s not to say MollaMahmud is new to being overseas for his career. He estimates that he has visited some 13 countries during his 20-year career, but with the outbreak of Syria’s civil war – and long before the impact of Trump’s presidency – the ambitious developer started to realise global politics would limit his professional potential.

“It’s not only Trump. There’s a lot of restrictions on Syrian’s travelling and doing other things, and that makes it very hard”

“After the Syrian war started a lot of Middle Eastern countries placed travel bans on Syrians, just because of their nationality,” he says. “I was travelling before – without any visa – but after the war they all started to do these travel bans, and I couldn’t travel to the Middle East. It’s not only Trump. There’s a lot of restrictions on Syrian’s travelling and doing other things, and that makes it very hard.”

Those restrictions – whatever their source or motivation – continue today, and in many other ways that also prevent developers from collaborating. Many Iranian and Syrian studios keen to apply for Without Borders were faced with limitations on web access that impeded their submissions for the initiative. There’s a logic to the internet making face-to-face meetings less relevant today, but when the web you can access is restricted presence at real-world events is all the more important. And that was, Unity says, what inspired the Without Borders initiative.

“In some of their communities – especially in countries like Iran and Syria, where they can’t move around as much – they don’t have a lot of access to a lot of game developers or creators,” says Elizabeth Brown, Chief People Officer at Unity, who has been pivotal in implementing Without Borders. “Coming to a conference not only fuels inspiration, but establishes skill sets, sparks ideas and builds networks. They don’t always have access to a local game development community, so they rely on international conferences to feed them and develop their creations and businesses. When they are limited from going to those conferences, they are super limited. That’s as creators, but also as business owners. Some of them are making their living by making games.”

For Brown, this isn’t just a matter of providing those with a passion for games an exciting opportunity; it is about helping developers put food on their tables. Often, that is incredibly limited for a developer restricted to just their home country, market and development community.

“We don’t have anything like this in Iran,” explains Amin Shahidi, as he glances around the main expo hall of Unite Europe, smiling. Shahidi is team lead, animator and game designer at the Tehran-based studio Black Cube Games, and he’s at Unite thanks to Without Borders. “We don’t have these kind of networks,” he continues. “So in Iran, all the movement of developers is very limited, or even blind. So this kind of event – and the moment of being here – is very, very cool and very, very helpful.”

“It shows us that people actually care about us,” adds Ali Boroumand, a game developer at Dutch studio Ferox Games, and a former colleague of Shahidi’s. “We’re all humans, and we’re all pretty much the same people. So it’s very heart warming to think that, even in hard times, people see game developers as game developers. We’re all game developers, and it doesn’t really matter where we come from. We’re all trying to make good games.

“But before this, we had to rule out contributing to any conferences or studios inside the United States. We couldn’t contribute to anything there, and that’s probably a loss on both sides. And beyond the travel ban, there are quite a few other United States restrictions, mostly on money. Selling games outside of Iran is hard for us.”

Boroumand makes a very important point with regard to what Iranian developers have to offer the rest of the global games development community. Restricting developers’ opportunity to travel doesn’t only harm the game industry in their home countries; it equally detracts from the nations they would otherwise be visiting. Collaborating is at least a two-way process, and the learning, inspiration and innovation it engenders rarely passes only in a single direction.

“Syria, like anywhere, has talented people who can bring a lot of things to games development and all technology,” suggests MollaMahmud. “But we need a chance to open the window and say ‘we are here, you can do things for us, and we can do things for you’. We just need a chance to elevate ourselves and do something not just for ourselves, but for all those that make games. We can help your games when we can travel to you freely.”

Equally, there’s an obvious creative opportunity for any studio looking to bring distinct aesthetics and approaches to the global market.

“Iran has quite a long history,” says Boroumand, who is presently based in Sheffield. “The Persian empires have been around for a few thousand years, so Iranian art and Iranian culture is pretty rich in that respect. Games of Iranian art and Iranian influence can bring something to the rest of the world, definitely; something that isn’t often seen.”

There’s an irony to all this, of course. Trump’s travel ban has afforded the Unity Without Borders teams an opportunity to visit a conference they may never have seen had the US President not targeted the various nations blacklisted. For MollaMahmud, however, the irony of opportunity born from limitations runs a little deeper. Buoyed by his experience of attending Unite, he can be remarkably optimistic about a situation that had s dramatic impact on his life.

He believes the horrific Syrian war, which broke out just a couple of years after he returned to live in the country, offers an ultimate example of the potential opportunity hardship can bring game developers.

“After the war is finished – and I hope that is soon – I believe there will be a very good opportunity in Syria for all kinds of business, including game development and software in general,” he considers. “The war will leave a country that will have to start from scratch. Now there are millions of Syrian refugees outside of Syria. It’s really bad to be a refugee, and I believe a lot of refugees are ready to seize the opportunity – having learned many new things – of heading back to Syria.”

Forced displacement is no better than placing mandatory travel restrictions, of course, but in a strange, counter-intuitive way, migration from conflict could represent what freedom to travel can bring in terms of advantages.

“The war, I hope, will finish soon,” MollaMahmud repeats firmly. “Then a lot of people will come back to Syria, and help build our country from scratch. I always say that Germany after the second world war, for example, started from scratch, and they have built a very good, very beautiful, respected country. Then more of us can make successful games.”

MollaMahmud isn’t suggesting that the development of a healthy national games industry justifies a war; not at all. For one, there are more important things than the games industry to consider when a country emerges from conflict. But if Syrians can pool the experience gained through their peoples’ diaspora and establish a game industry to rival Germany’s, it would contribute a great deal to that renewal and rebuilding.

Movement of people can push technology like little else, for the benefit of everyone involved, regardless of their home or country of origin; Apple and AdMob are proof of that. War will likely exist forever, but its horror doesn’t preclude it from being used to inspire positive movements large and small.

Nobody is calling for the forced displacement of people for the benefit of the game industry, of course. But based on the enthusiasm and appetite for learning of every Without Borders developer at Unite Europe, it’s apparent that supporting thoughtful freedom to travel benefits us all.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Toshiba Launches 4-bit NAND Flash Memory

July 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Toshiba has announced the latest generation of 3D flash memory, the 4-bit-per-cell, quadruple-level cell (QLC) technology NAND flash memory.

Thanks to the QLC technology, which features a 64-layer stacked cell structure, Toshiba managed to hit the world’s largest die capacity of 768Gb/96GB. This also enables a 1.5TB (terabyte) device with a 16-die stacked architecture in a single package, which is also a 50 percent increase in capacity per package compared to the earlier generation.

Since QLC NAND flash suffers from the same, if not worse issues as the MLC NAND, which is how to push data into a single cell without affecting the reliability and performance, it remains to be seen if SSDs based on QLC NAND flash memory will actually hit the cost/performance sweet spot.

We suspect that these drives will mostly be focused on data centers, where lower power consumption and footprint are a premium, but eventually we will see it in other markets.

According to Toshiba, samples of the QLC device started shipping earlier in June to SSD and SSD controller vendors for evaluation and development purposes while further samples will be showcased at the upcoming Flash Memory Summit 2017 in August.

Courtesy-Fud

Is The High-End PC Market The Most Profitable

July 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Acer has been focuing on flogging high-margin PCs including gaming notebooks, ultra-thin models and 2-in-1s, and it appears to be paying off.

Acer CEO Jason Chen said that each segment has been doing well this year. Acer’s revenues from its gaming PC business reached $300 million in 2016 and Acer has been outperforming the market average in many product lines.

Chen said that during the first five months of 2017, Acer’s gaming PC sales went up 80 per cent  from the same period a year ago, while the market’s average was only around 30 per cent. Acer is also seeing the same trend for its Chromebook business with first-five-month sales growing 80 per cent from a year ago. In this case the market’s average growth was only 20 per cent.

Acer’s strategy since falling from the peak of its operations three and half years ago, has been focusing on maintaining its profitability. Currently, Acer’s product ASP is up 14 per cent from before and gross margins reached 10 per cent in 2016, the highest in the past 10 years, Chen detailed.

Acer also sees gold in  virtual reality (VR), content and artificial intelligence (AI). Acer has partnered with Starbreeze to establish a joint venture for VR applications and has started seeing profits since the second half of 2016. The company’s high-performance PC for AI applications also recently acquired procurement orders from Thailand, and the company has already received a total of seven related procurement projects for 2017.

Acer’s VR arm is  focusing on gaming- and movie-related content and is also looking to merge the two concepts. Acer recently partnered with ZeroLight to develop high definition car VR solutions. The company has also been pushing its VR technologies into industries such as real estate, aerospace and training.

Courtesy-Fud

AMD Goes EPYC To Take On Intel In The Server Space

June 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD has unveiled the first generation of its Zen-based Epyc server processors as it looks to take on Intel in the data centre market.

We knew this was coming, and AMD on Monday showed off its AMD Epyc 7000 series at an event in Austin, Texas. The lowest-spec offering is the Epyc 7251, which offers eight cores supporting 16 simultaneous threads, and a base frequency of 2.1GHz that tops out at 2.9GHz at maximum boost.

The Epyc 7601 is the firm’s top-of-the-line chip, and packs 32 cores, 64 threads and a base frequency of 2.2GHz, with maximum boost at 3.2GHz. AMD claims that, compared to Intel’s comparable Xeon processor – which offer up to 24 cores – the new Epyc 7601 offers 47 per cent higher performance.

What’s more, AMD claims that each Zen core is about 52 per cent faster per clock cycle than the previous generation, and boasts that the chips are more competitive in integer, floating point, memory bandwidth, and I/O benchmarks and workloads.

“With our Epyc family of processors, AMD is delivering industry-leading performance on critical enterprise, cloud, and machine intelligence workloads,” said Lisa Su, president and CEO of AMD.

“Epyc processors offer uncompromising performance for single-socket systems while scaling dual-socket server performance to new heights, outperforming the competition at every price point. We are proud to bring choice and innovation back to the datacenter with the strong support of our global ecosystem partners.”

Each Epyc processor – of which there are nine different models – also offers eight memory channels supporting up to 2666MHz DDR4 DRAM, 2TB of memory and 128 PCIe lanes. 

Server manufacturers have been quick to introduce products based on AMD Epyc 7000-series processors, including HPE, Dell, Asus, Gigabyte, Inventec, Lenovo, Sugon, Supermicro, Tyan, and Wistron, while the likes of Microsoft, Dropbox and Bloomberg also announced support for Epyc in the data centre. 

Monday’s launch marks the company’s first major foray back into servers and the data centre for almost a decade. The Opteron line of server microprocessors from AMD, first launched in 2003, found its way into an increasing number of the world’s top-100 most powerful supercomputers, peaking in 2010 and 2011 when 33 of the top 100 were powered by AMD Opteron.

Clearly feeling the heat, Intel has taken the bizarre approach of responding to AMD’s Epyc launch, and said that its rivals approach could lead to “inconsistent performance.”

“We take all competitors seriously, and while AMD is trying to re-enter the server market segment, Intel continues to deliver 20+ years of uninterrupted data center innovations while maintaining broad ecosystem investments,” the firm said in a statement.

Our Xeon CPU architecture is proven and battle tested, delivering outstanding performance on a wide range of workloads and specifically designed to maximise data centre performance, capabilities, reliability, and manageability. With our next-generation Xeon Scalable processors, we expect to continue offering the highest core and system performance versus AMD.

“AMD’s approach of stitching together 4 desktop die in a processor is expected to lead to inconsistent performance and other deployment complexities in the data centre.”

Courtesy-TheInq

Is AMD’s Ryzen 1950X Ready To Hit The Market

June 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD’s Ryzen ThreadRipper 1950X CPU engineering sample, a 16-core/32-thread SKU, has been spotted on Geekbench running at 3.4GHz base clock.

This should be the flagship SKU and it appears it won’t have the 1998X model number, as previously rumored. The engineering sample works at 3.4GHz base clock and was running on an ASRock X399 Professional Gaming motherboard with 16GB of DDR4-2133 memory.

The ThreadRipper 1950X, as it is currently called, packs a massive 32MB of L3 cache and 8MB of L2 cache. Since this is an engineering sample, bear in mind that the performance figures are far from final as AMD will probably further optimize the performance and the sample was not running with lower clocked memory, with no details on the quad- or dual-channel setting.

According to the results posted on Geekbench and spotted by Wccftech.com, the ThreadRipper 1950X managed to get a 4,167 score in the single-thread benchmark and 24,539 points in multi-thread benchmark.

The CPU was compared to Intel’s Xeon E5-2697A 4 CPU, which is also a 16-core/32-thread CPU based on Broadwell architecture and which scores 3,651 in single-thread and 30,450 points in multi-thread performance.

Courtesy-Fud

Will Doom VR Be A Successful Game

June 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Doom is getting a virtual reality (VR) mode that will up the frights and will probably have you clawing at your face.

You know Doom, everyone knows Doom and people are always trying to play it on things that it was never meant to go on, like cash machines and cars, for example.

Doom was born for VR. The facefirst run and shoot game will lend itself very well to the format, and we can admit to wanting a go on it.

There is a reveal trailer, and Doom VFR certainly looks, smells and bleeds like the Doom we have come to know and love. The trailer is marked as unsuitable for some viewers which if you ask us, makes it sound like a perfect trailer for Doom. It is quite a bloody thing, it is certainly exciting, action-packed and violent.

“If you flinched the first time you saw a meaty Mancubus charging at you in last year’s critically acclaimed Doom, wait till you get up close and even more personal with rampaging demons in Doom VFR,” says Bethesda Softworks. “Doom VFR is a new virtual reality game from legendary developer id Software, coming to PlayStation VR and Vive platforms.”

Bethesda and ID Software, the companies behind Doom, said that VR has opened up fresh opportunities for both them and the games that they are aiming it at.

“Developing a Doom game specifically for virtual reality has provided an exciting opportunity to not only surround players with the world of Doom like never before, but also let them experience and explore the UAC and Hell in new ways, playing as new characters with totally unique tools and abilities,” said Robert Duffy, CTO at id Software.

The game’s director, Marty Stratton, explained that Doom VFR gives the fans what they want. “Since the hallmark of any Doom game is combat, we’ve made it our top priority to ensure moving, shooting and killing demons with overwhelming force in virtual reality is as brutal and rewarding as it is in the Doom experience that fans have been enjoying for the past year.”

Courtesy-TheInq

Is the FinFET Market Ripe for Growth?

June 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

The global FinFET-technology market to grow by 41.89 per cent during 2017-2021, according a new report.

Beancounters at Research and Markets have added up some numbers and divided by their shoe size and worked dashed out a report with the racey title “Global FinFET Technology Market 2017-2021.”

The report considers the sales of FinFET technology process node in different sizes across applications. It covers the market landscape and its growth prospects over the coming years. The report also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this market.

For those who came in late, FinFET is a 3D transistor and is integral for the design and development of processors. FinFET technology is a nonplanar, double gate transistor, built on a silicon on insulator substrate. FinFET is a 3D structure that has subdivided resistance and capacitance when compared to a planar structure. FinFETs have better device optimisation in comparison with planar technology.

One trend in the market is innovation in channel materials for development of 10nm and beyond FinFET chips. The 14nm FinFET-based chips use silicon channels that are not stable beyond this scale. With the 10nm technology, SiGe-based FinFET technology demonstrated enhanced performance, providing elegant solutions for CMOS technology.

According to the report, one driver in the market is strategic collaborations and M&A.

The strategic collaborations between the top players in the market are driving the global FinFET technology market. Strategic collaborations and M&A allow vendors to gain access to new technologies. This enables vendors to develop the ecosystem and design novel products with innovative technologies.

The report states that one challenge in the market is fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rate. Fluctuations in the foreign currency exchange rate have a huge impact on the revenue realized by companies.

Vendors in the global FinFET technology market have their presence in several countries. Therefore, the fluctuations in the exchange rate do affect not only the selling price of the product but also the costs and expenses of the company and its foreign subsidiaries.

Courtesy-Fud

Will The US Video Game Industry Grow To A 28 Billion Dollar Market

June 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

According to the 18th PwC Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2017-2021, which covers a number of major industries (not just games), the total video games revenue in the US is expected to grow at a 6.3% CAGR rate to reach more than $28.5 billion by 2021. The research firm notes that the PC games sector looks a bit rosier than consoles in the next few years in terms of growth. While total PC games revenue in the US is set to grow from $3.7bn in 2016 to $5.0bn in 2021, at a 6.6% CAGR, consoles will only grow at a 2.8% CAGR, hitting $9.4bn in 2021.

Consoles’ slowed growth “can be attributed to the increase in digital full game downloads which is mostly offset by a decline of physical console game sell-through revenue, which is set to drop by a 4.3% CAGR during the forecast period,” PwC noted. At the same time, the PC sector is seeing “healthy growth” in the online/microtransactions department – online PC revenue is expected to climb at a 7.0% CAGR to $4.2bn by 2021. PwC said that much of this can be attributed to the ongoing success of F2P, more subscription services and the rise of eSports. Digital sales on consoles are getting stronger and stronger as well, expected to grow at a 9.8% CAGR to hit $3.7bn by 2021 – but as noted above, the decline in physical is still offsetting much of this growth.

Virtual reality continues to draw lots of attention across the industry, and according to PwC, the segment should grow at an impressive 64% CAGR to reach $5bn by 2021, or roughly 17% of the entire US games business revenue total. The firm estimates that dedicated high-end VR (Rift, Vive, PSVR) should climb to an installed base of 13 million by 2021, while the overall VR headset installed base will reach 68 million. Additionally, “Portable dedicated headsets – a new category of self-contained headset that will emerge from 2017 designed exclusively to render VR experiences – will have an installed base of 5.3mn by 2021 (CAGR of 87.5%) because of their superior capabilities compared to smartphone-based devices, and ease of use,” the firm said.

While games as a technology have been the driver of VR, PwC expects VR content revenues to be driven by non-gaming experiences like VR video, which will “grow at a CAGR of 87.8% to represent 58.3% of overall content spending in 2021. It will surpass interactive experiences and games revenue…in 2019.” PwC remarked that established media like Netflix, HBO and ESPN, would play a big part in driving VR content along with major game publishers; that said, “expect smaller developers like Jaunt to get an increasing share of this content revenue as they act as the technical partners for both the big studios and non-specialist start-ups.”

The other smaller, but quickly growing segment that should boost total industry revenues in the US is, of course, eSports. PwC expects the sector to grow at a 22% CAGR to reach almost $300 million in 2021. Streaming advertising is the lion’s share of that total at $149 million, but sponsorships, voluntary consumer contributions and ticket sales all add to the pie as well.

“The US is the largest market in revenue terms, having overtaken South Korea in 2015, although the latter will stay far ahead in terms of per-capita revenue,” PwC explained. “The development of eSports has grown at a breakneck pace in the US over recent years, receiving perhaps its biggest boost into the mainstream when ESPN began covering major events on both its streaming and regular channels – most notably the August 2015 final of The International, a tournament for Defense of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2). In September 2015 the company even advertised for an eSports general editor, in recognition of the specialist knowledge required to cover the discipline comprehensively.”

Streaming sites are still the dominant medium for eSports viewing, however. Amazon-owned Twitch is said to rank behind Netflix, Google (YouTube) and Apple in terms of peak internet traffic, PwC noted. There’s no doubt that eSports is capturing the attention of major corporations and advertisers. “Companies are moving in swiftly to sponsor both teams and events, with fast-moving consumer goods companies like Coca-Cola, Doritos and Snickers all forging a niche…

“Notably, in September 2016 the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers bought the long-time franchise Dignitas and Apex, which offers a guaranteed spot in the League of Legends circuit. For the 76ers, the purchase offers an opportunity to diversify into a market that is particularly popular with the protean 18-24-year-old market and get a named presence at eSsports tournaments, while their newly signed-up players can also live-stream and create content under their parent owner’s banner. If the space continues to grow exponentially, sports teams such as the 76ers that become early movers will have the upper hand – as well as a usefully sized stadium for hosting tournaments. Certainly signs are positive here, with the NBA in February 2017 announcing plans to create a new league based around the game NBA 2K.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

Could AMD’s Threadripper Undercut Intel’s 7900X

June 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

According to a fresh report, AMD’s entry-level 16-core Threadripper CPU could cost as low as US $849.

According to the report coming from eTeknix.com, the reported that the entry-level 16-core/32-threads Threadripper SKU, also known as the Threadripper 1998, which works at 3.2GHz base and 3.6GHz Turbo clock, lacks eXtended Frequency Range (XFR) feature and has a 155W TDP, could launch with a US $849 price.

If this rumor turns out to be true, AMD will significantly hurt Intel as this Threadripper will end up cheaper than Intel’s 10-core 7900X, which has a US $999 price tag (tray 1KU).

Although it could end up being slower than Intel’s 10-core chip in some scenarios, like gaming, the sheer number of cores and threads it offers would make it a great CPU for some CPU intensive tasks.

Hopefully, AMD will manage to bring more competition to the CPU market as it would both drive the prices down as well as most likely bring better CPUs in the future.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Grand Theft Auto V The Best Selling Video Game Ever

June 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Grand Theft Auto V has sold more copies in the US than any other release over the past 22 years.

That’s according to NPD Group analyst Mat Piscatella, who tweeted that Rockstar’s masterpiece is the region’s best-selling game since the market research firm first began tracking.

“Not surprising, but still amazing,” he wrote.

That’s not to say GTA V has overtaken some previous champion, GamesBeat reports – just an interesting factoid Piscatella was keen to share.

As the analyst says, it comes as no surprise. The latest Grand Theft Auto has sold more than 80m units around the worldwide to date – despite originally launching way back in 2013 on the Xbox 360 and PS3.

Subsequent PC, Xbox One and PS4 releases have driven sales further, as have the regular updates for the game’s Grand Theft Auto Online multiplayer mode.

The latter was a significant contributor to the financial performance of Rockstar parent Take-Two, which reported revenues of $1.78bn for the year ended March 31st. Earlier this week, CEO Strauss Zelnick noted this success has come despite his belief the company has been restrained with in-game purchases and is currently “undermonetising” its users.

All eyes are on Rockstar’s next release Red Dead Redemption 2, which was recently delayed to 2018. The original was a huge worldwide hit, although it is perhaps unlikely the sequel can match the success of Grand Theft Auto V.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Will The PC Market Really Show Growth Starting In 2019

June 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Divination experts from IDC have been shuffling their Tarot cards and consulting the entrails of a particularly annoying toddler and reached the conclusion that the PC market will start growing again in 2019.

According to an Oracle from IDC’s latest Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker, the firm believes the PC market is set for a growth period a few years from now.

Detachable tablets such as Microsoft’s Surface line and Apple’s iPad Pro will lead the growth as consumers have turned away from laptops in favour of these more versatile computing devices.

Last year, 21.5 million of these devices were shipped and the number of units sold could reach as high as 45.9 million in 2021.

Notebook computers and mobile workstations are another category that will see continued growth with shipments rising from 156.8 million units in 2016 to 163.7 million by the year 2021.

Desktop computers are still decreasing in popularity and that trend is likely to continue with their sales predicted to decrease by 15 million a year leading up to 2021.

Courtesy-Fud

Can Free-To-Play Dominate Virtual Reality Gaming

June 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Premium games will always be consumers’ first choice when it comes to virtual reality titles, says Oskar Burman.

Speaking at last week’s Nordic Game Conference, the former general manager of Rovio and CEO of Fast Travel Games said he does not believe free-to-play will take over the VR market the way it has on mobile – although it will have a significant presence.

“Free-to-play is going to become more common as the userbase grows,” he explained. “However, I don’t think free-to-play is going to be as dominant as it is on mobile. I think there will be more of a balanced mix. Even if free-to-play is eventually the majority, I still think there’s going to be a market for premium games – a little bit like it is on the PC today.”

With that in mind, he urged VR developers to build premium games, titles with a set price tag. He said that there is plenty of room to experiment with microtransactions and selling more substantial DLC, but studios certainly shouldn’t be afraid to charge for their work – particularly in the higher end of the VR space.

“It just makes sense,” he insisted. “If you spent $1000 or more on equipment, on a PC and a VR headset, then you wouldn’t mind spending a little bit more to actually buy a couple of good games.”

While there’s a lot of attention for virtual reality centred around the PC and console experiences, Burman reminded attendees that the target audience on mobile is “definitely higher”, estimating it to be close to 10m based on his studio’s own research. However, these potential customers cannot be targeted in the same way.

“The audience there, we call them semi-traditional gamers,” said Burman. “There are definitely gamers in there but there are also users who are not that familiar with gaming, who just want to try out this new VR thing. They might be trying some games, but also trying a lot of other stuff.”

His advice to any studio looking to raise awareness for their VR game was to approach influencers rather than traditional media – “because that’s just the way the market is” – and consider promoting them in much the same way they do PC and console titles.

Burman believes premium games with rapid start-up times and even microtransactions will thrive in the VR market

Burman took time to ponder about the changing genres we might see in virtual reality. He attributed the current wave of shorter action, shooter and puzzle games to a combination of the smaller teams and limited budgets behind most releases but expects this to expand as the audience grows. He suggested sports games might become more common, a relatively unexplored genre when it comes to VR, but says sandboxes could provide the real killer app.

“I’m really curious to see what’s happening with the creation genre and VR. What’s going to be the next Minecraft VR?”

“I’m really curious to see what’s happening with the creation genre and VR,” he said. “What’s going to be the next Minecraft VR? I’m pretty sure we’re going to see something spectacular happen in that space.”

The talk primarily dealt with learnings VR developers could take from other platforms, with Burman’s own experiences in mobile proving to be particularly fruitful. In some ways, VR titles need to be as accessible and instantly gratifying as games for smartphones.

“One thing we have learned is that start-up times really do matter in VR, both on mobile VR and wired,” said Burman. “Because if you have a VR game where it’s loading and you wait and wait and wait, it really breaks the immersion and takes you out of that experience. There are quite a few games in VR today that do have that problem. Learn from mobile: you have to get the game up and running as soon as possible. Try to avoid long loading times – that’s something mobile excels at.

“Another learning from mobile is those short bursts – the player logs in, does some farming and then goes out – that’s probably not going to work as well in VR, because it’s much more difficult to set up so it doesn’t make sense to do a very, very quick burst of gaming.”

On the subject of session lengths, Burman shared the results of a study Fast Travel Games carried out into how long players spend with their various platforms. Traditional PC and console games engaged players for between 90 and 150 minutes per session a couple of times per week. Meanwhile, mobile predictably has much shorter bursts of around two to four minutes, with users playing multiple times a day. Virtual reality falls somewhere in between.

“When we looked at VR games with the user studies that we’ve done, we see that players ideally spend 20 to 30 minutes per session,” said Burman. “And they do this with roughly the same frequency as console players.

“Some learnings from this is that gameplay depth is something we can bring over from PC and console. People do want to immerse themselves in the same kind of worlds that they find in traditional games, and the creation of these universes is going to be even more important for VR.”

A member of the audience pressed this further at the end of the session, asking if Burman expects VR to cut into the time already spent on traditional PC and console games.

“Yeah, it might eat into that time,” he answered. “People have a limited amount of time, and I think we’ll see some of those players moving over to VR.

“Mobile VR is a different beast. Mobile gaming is something you do when you’re on the toilet. You might do VR on the toilet – I haven’t tried it.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

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