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GUI

Qt 5.5 Released 62 62

New submitter mx+b writes: The latest version of Qt, the cross platform GUI toolkit and development platform, is out for all major platforms. Highlights include better 3D, multimedia, and web support, as well as better support for the latest OS X and Windows releases (including Windows 10) and more Linux distributions.
Graphics

Nvidia Details 'Gameworks VR', Aims To Boost Virtual Reality Render Performance 25 25

An anonymous reader writes: In a guest article published to Road to VR, Nvidia graphics programmer Nathan Reed details Nvidia's 'Gameworks VR' initiative which the company says is designed to boost virtual reality render performance, including support for 'VR SLI' which will render one eye view per GPU for low latency stereoscopy. While many Gameworks VR features will be supported as far back as GeForce 6xx cards, the company's latest 'Maxwell' (9xx and Titan X) GPUs offer 'Multi-projection' which Reed says, 'enables us to very efficiently rasterize geometry into multiple viewports within a single render target at once... This better approximates the shading rate of the warped image that will eventually be displayed—in other words, it avoids rendering a ton of extra pixels that weren't going to make it to the display anyway, and gives you a substantial performance boost for no perceptible reduction in image quality.'
AMD

AMD's Project Quantum Gaming PC Contains Intel CPU 136 136

nateman1352 links to an article at Tom's Hardware which makes the interesting point that chip-maker AMD will offer Intel -- rather than AMD -- CPUs in their upcoming high-end gaming PC. (High-end for being based on integrated components, at least.) From the article: Recently, AMD showed off its plans for its Fiji based graphics products, among which was Project Quantum – a small form factor PC that packs not one, but two Fiji graphics processors. Since the announcement, KitGuru picked up on something, noticing that the system packs an Intel Core i7-4790K "Devil's Canyon" CPU. We hardly need to point out that it is rather intriguing to see AMD use its largest competitor's CPU in its own product, when AMD is a CPU maker itself.
Graphics

Reverse-Engineering a Frame of "Supreme Commander" 40 40

An anonymous reader writes: When Supreme Commander was released 8 years ago, it redefined the RTS genre, with its real-time strategic zoom and its epic battles involving several thousands of units at once, while bringing a whole generation of PCs to their knees. Today an article revisits the process of rendering a frame of the game by reverse-engineering the API calls made to the GPU. All the techniques and algorithms are explained in detail, many of them still used in current video games.
Graphics

AMD Reveals Radeon R9 Fury X Specs and Preliminary Benchmark Performance Results 87 87

MojoKid writes: AMD announced new Radeon R9 and R7 300 series of graphics cards earlier this week, and while they are interesting, they're not nearly as impressive as AMD's upcoming flagship of AMD GPU, code named Fiji. Fiji will find its way into three products this summer: the Radeon R9 Nano, Radeon R9 Fury, and the range-topping (and water-cooled) Radeon R9 Fury X. Other upcoming variants like, AMD's dual-Fiji board, were teased at E3 but are still under wraps. However, while full reviews are still under embargo, the official specification of the Radeon R9 Fury X have been revealed, along with an array of benchmark scores comparing the GPU to NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 980 Ti. Should the numbers AMD has released jibe with independent testing, the Radeon R9 Fury X looks strong and possibly faster than Nvidia's GeForce GTX 980 Ti.
Graphics

AMD Announces Fiji-based Radeon R9 Fury X, 'Project Quantum', Radeon 300 Series 76 76

MojoKid writes: Today AMD announced new graphics solutions ranging from the bottom to the top ($99 on up to $649). First up is the new range of R7 300 Series cards that is aimed squarely at gamers AMD says are typically running at 1080p. For gamers that want a little bit more power, there's the new R9 300 Series (think of them as R9 280s with higher clocks and 8GB of memory). Finally, AMD unveiled its Fiji graphics cards that feature onboard High Bandwidth Memory (HBM), offering 3x the performance-per-watt of GDDR5. Fiji has 1.5x the performance-per-watt of the R9 290X, and was built with a focus on 4K gaming. The chip itself features 4096 stream processors and is comprised of 8.9 billion transistors. It has a graphics core clock of 1050MHz and is rated at 8.6 TFLOPs. AMD says there will also be plenty of overhead for overclocking. Finally, AMD also took the opportunity to showcase its "Project Quantum," which is a small form-factor PC that manages to cram two Fiji GPUs inside. The processor, GPUs, and all other hardware are incorporated into the bottom of the chassis, while the cooling solution is built into the top of the case.
Software

Microsoft's Skype Drops Modern App In Favour of Old-Fashioned Win32 App 186 186

mikejuk writes: Microsoft, after putting a lot of effort into persuading us that Universal Apps are the way of the future, pulls the plug on Skype modern app, to leave just the desktop version. Skype is one of Microsoft's flagship products and it has been available as a desktop Win32 app and as a Modern/Metro/WinRT app for some time. You would think that Skype would support Universal Apps, there are few enough of them — but no. According to the Skype blog: 'Starting on July 7, we're updating PC users of the Windows modern application to the Windows desktop application, and retiring the modern application.' Microsoft is pushing Windows 10 Universal Apps as the development platform for now and the future, but its Skype team have just disagreed big time. If Microsoft can't get behind the plan why should developers? (Also at Windows Central and VentureBeat.)
Graphics

What Source 2 Means For Valve's ESports 46 46

An anonymous reader writes: Valve's new game engine is looming, and it doesn't just mean changes to the company's most popular games for all players, but also two of the most popular eSports in the world right now, Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. As a new article points out, Source 2's ability to process more on screen at once, even on feeble laptops with integrated graphics, could have a surprising benefit for top tier play and both games as a spectator sport. After all, if more players all over the developing world can access these games, we could see an uplift in the quality of play at the highest tournament level sometime down the line.
AMD

AMD Radeon Fury and Fury X Specs Leaked, HBM-Powered Graphics On the Way 66 66

MojoKid writes: A fresh alleged leak of next AMD Fiji graphics info has just hit the web and there's an abundance of supposedly confirmed specifications for what will be AMD's most powerful graphics card to date. Fiji will initially be available in both Pro and XT variants with the Fiji Pro dubbed "Fury" and Fiji XT being dubbed "Fury X." The garden variety Fury touts single-precision floating point (SPFP) performance of 7.2 TFLOPS compared to 5.6 TFLOPS for a bone stock Radeon R9 290X. That's a roughly 29-percent performance improvement. The Fury X with its 4096 stream processors, 64 compute units, and 256 texture mapping units manages to deliver 8.6 TFLOPS, or a 54-percent increase over a Radeon R9 290X. The star of the show, however, will be AMD's High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) interface. Unlike traditional GDDR5 memory, HBM is stacked vertically, decreasing the PCB footprint required. It's also integrated directly into the same package as the GPU/SoC, leading to further efficiencies, reduced latency and a blistering 100GB/sec of bandwidth per stack (4 stacks per card). On average HBM is said to deliver three times the performance-per-watt of GDDR5 memory. With that being said, the specs listed are by no means confirmed by AMD, yet. We shall find out soon enough during AMD's E3 press conference scheduled for June 16.
IOS

WWDC 2015 Roundup 415 415

Here's an overview of the main announcements and new products unveiled at WWDC today.
  • The latest OS X will be named OS X El Capitan. Features include: Natural language searches and auto-arrange windows. You can make the cursor bigger by shaking the mouse and pin sites in Safari now. 1.4x faster than Yosemite. Available to developers today, public beta in July, out for free in the fall.
  • Metal, the graphics API is coming to Mac. "Metal combines the compute power of OpenCL and the graphics power of OpenGL in a high-performance API that does both." Up to 40% greater rendering efficiency.
  • iOS 9: New Siri UI. There’s an API for search. Siri and Spotlight are getting more integrated. Siri getting better at prediction with a far lower word error rate. You can make checklists, draw and sketch inside of Notes. Maps gets some love. New app called News "We think this offers the best mobile reading experience ever." Like Flipboard it pulls in news articles from your favorite sites. HomeKit now supports window shades, motion sensors, security systems, and remote access via iCloud. Public Beta for iOS 9.
  • Apple Pay: All four major credit card companies and over 1 million locations supporting Apple Pay as of next month. Apple Pay reader developed by Square, for peer-to-peer transactions. Apple Pay coming to the UK next month support in 250,000 locations including the London transportation system. Passbook is being renamed "Wallet."
  • iPad: Shortcuts for app-switching, split-screen multitasking and QuickType. Put two fingers down on the keyboard and it becomes a trackpad. Side by side apps. Picture in picture available on iPad Air and up, Mini 2 and up.
  • CarPlay: Now works wirelessly and supports apps by the automaker.
  • Swift 2,the latest version of Apple’s programing language . Swift will be open source.
  • The App Store: Over 100 billion app downloads, and $30 billion paid to developers.
  • Apple Watch: watchOS 2 with new watch faces. Developers can build their own "complications" (widgets with a terrible name that show updates and gauges on the watch face). A new feature called Time Travel lets you rotate the digital crown to zoom into the future and see what’s coming up. More new features: reply to email, bedside alarm clock, send scribbled messages in multiple colors. You can now play video on the watch. Developer beta of watchOS 2 available today, wide release in the fall for free.
  • Apple Music: “The next chapter in music. It will change the way you experience music forever,” says Cook. Live DJs broadcasting and hosting live radio streams you can listen to in 150 countries. Handpicked suggestions. 24/7 live global radio. Beats Connect lets unsigned artists connect with fans. Beats Music has all of iTunes’ music, to buy or stream. With curated recommendations. Launching June 30th in 100 countries with Android this fall, with Windows and Android versions. First three months free, $9.99 a month or $14.99 a month for family plan for up to six.
Intel

Intel Skylake & Broxton Graphics Processors To Start Mandating Binary Blobs 193 193

An anonymous reader writes: Intel has often been portrayed as the golden child within the Linux community and by those desiring a fully-free system without tainting their kernel with binary blobs while wanting a fully-supported open-source driver. The Intel Linux graphics driver over the years hasn't required any firmware blobs for acceleration, compared to AMD's open-source driver having many binary-only microcode files and Nouveau also needing blobs — including firmware files that NVIDIA still hasn't released for their latest GPUs. However, beginning with Intel Skylake and Broxton CPUs, their open-source driver will now too require closed-source firmware. The required "GuC" and "DMC" firmware files are for handling the new hardware's display microcontroller and workload scheduling engine. These firmware files are explicitly closed-source licensed and forbid any reverse-engineering. What choices are left for those wanting a fully-free, de-blobbed system while having a usable desktop?
AMD

AMD Launches Carrizo Mobile APU With Excavator CPU Cores, Integrated Southbridge 46 46

MojoKid writes: AMD previously only teased bits of detail regarding their forthcoming 6th Generation A-Series APU, code named "Carrizo," as far back as CES 2015 in January and more recently with AMD's HSA (Heterogenous System Architecture) 1.0 spec roll-out in March. However, the company has officially launched the product today and has lifted the veil on all aspects of their new highly integrated notebook APU. Carrizo has been optimized for the 15 Watt TDP envelope that comprises the bulk of the thin and light notebook market currently and it brings a couple of first to integrated notebook chip designs. AMD's Carrizo APU is the first SoC architecture to fully support the HSA 1.0 specification, allowing full memory coherency of a shared memory space for both CPU and GPU up to 32GB. It's also the first integrated chip to include full support in hardware for H.265/HEVC HD video decoding and finally, Carizzo is also the first AMD APU to have a full integrated, in silicon, Southbridge controller block. So, with its CPU, GPU, memory controller, Northbridge, Southbridge, and PCIe 3.0 links, Carrizo is truly a fully integrated System On A Chip. The company is claiming a 39% CPU performance lift (combination clock speed and IPC) and up to a 65% in graphics, versus their previous generation Kaveri APU. AMD notes laptops from major vendors will begin shipping in the next few weeks.
Intel

Intel Adopts USB-C Connector For 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3, Supports USB 3.1, DP 1.2 179 179

MojoKid writes: The high speed Thunderbolt interface standard, which is used for everything from hyper-fast external storage solutions to external graphics cards, has been slow to take off. You can blame the high-priced Thunderbolt peripherals and the uber-expensive cables (at least when compared to your garden-variety USB cables). For most people, USB 3.0 is "good enough" and making a huge investment into the Thunderbolt ecosystem has been reserved for those in the professional video editing arena. However, Intel is looking to change all of that with Thunderbolt 3. Thunderbolt 3 once again doubles the maximum bandwidth, this time jumping from 20Gbps to a whopping 40Gbps. While that is impressive in its own right, the truly big news is that Thunderbolt 3 is moving away from the Mini DisplayPort connector and is instead adopting the USB-C connector. As a result Thunderbolt will also support USB 3.1 (which is currently spec'd at 10Gbps) and can optionally provide up to 100W of power (in compliance with the USB Power Delivery spec) to charge devices via USB-C (like the recently introduced 12-inch Apple MacBook).
Graphics

Intel Releases Broadwell Desktop CPUs: Core i7-5775C and i5-5675C 126 126

edxwelch writes: Intel has finally released their Broadwell desktop processors. Featuring Iris Pro Graphics 6200, they take the integrated graphics crown from AMD (albeit costing three times as much). However, they are not as fast as current Haswell flagship processors and they will be soon superseded by Skylake, to be released later this year. Tom's Hardware and Anandtech have the first reviews of the Core i7-5775C and i5-5675C.
GUI

Cinnamon 2.6: a Massive Update Loaded With Performance Improvements 155 155

jones_supa writes: The Linux Mint team has just announced that Cinnamon 2.6 desktop environment is considered stable and ready to download. It is a big update. The load times have been greatly improved and unnecessary calculations in the window management part are dropped, leading to a 40% reduction in the number of CPU wakes per second. Other improvements include a screensaver that does more than just lock the screen, panels that can be removed or added individually, a much better System Settings panel that should make things much clearer, a cool new effect for windows, and a brand new plugin manager for Nemo. Linux Mint users will receive the new Cinnamon as an update by the end of the month.
Graphics

NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 980 Ti Costs $350 Less Than TITAN X, Performs Similarly 156 156

Deathspawner writes: In advance of the rumored pending launch of AMD's next-generation Radeon graphics cards, NVIDIA has decided to pull no punches and release a seriously tempting GTX 980 Ti at $649. It's tempting both because the extra $150 it costs over the GTX 980 more than makes up for it in performance gained, and despite it coming really close to the performance of TITAN X, it costs $350 less. AMD's job might just have become a bit harder. Vigile adds The GTX 980 Ti has 6GB of memory (versus 12GB for the GTX Titan X) but PC Perspective's review shows no negative side effects of the drop. This implementation of the GM200 GPU uses 2,816 CUDA cores rather than the 3,072 cores of the Titan X, but thanks to higher average Boost clocks, performance between the two cards is identical. And at Hot Hardware, another equally positive, benchmark-laden review.
Microsoft

Windows 10 RTM In 6 Weeks 290 290

Billly Gates writes: Ars Technica has the scoop on a new build with less flat icons and a confirmation of a mid July release date. While Microsoft is in a hurry to fix the damage done by the Windows 8 versions of its operating system, the next question is, is ready for prime time? On Neowin there's a list of problems already mentioned by MS and its users with this latest release, including Wi-Fi and sound not working without a reboot, and users complaining about tiles and apps not working in the new start menu.
Android

NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Reviewed: Gaming and Possibly the Ultimate 4K Streamer 54 54

Earlier this week, NVIDIA officially launched its SHIELD Android TV set-top device, with far more horsepower than something like Roku or Apple TV, but on par with an average game console, and at a more affordable price tag of $199. MojoKid writes: What's interesting, however, is that it's powered by NVIDIA's Tegra X1 SoC which features a Maxwell-derived GPU and eight CPU cores; four ARM A57 cores and four A53s. The A57 cores are 64-bit, out-of-order designs, with multi-issue pipelines, while the A53s are simpler, in-order, highly-efficient designs. Which cores are used will depend on the particular workload being executed at the time. Tegra X1 also packs a 256-core Maxwell-derived GPU with the same programming capabilities and API support as NVIDIA's latest desktop GPUs. In standard Android benchmarks, the SHIELD pretty much slays any current high-end tablet or smartphone processor in graphics, but is about on par with the octal-core Samsung Exynos in terms of standard compute workloads but handily beating and octal-core Qualcomm Snapdragon. What's also interesting about the SHIELD Android TV is that it's not only an Android TV-capable device with movie and music streaming services like Netflix etc., but it also plays any game on Google Play and with serious horsepower behind it. The SHIELD Android TV is also the first device certified for Netflix's Ultra HD 4K streaming service.
Graphics

Dell Precision M3800 Mobile Workstation Packs Thunderbolt 2, Quadro, IGZO2 Panel 133 133

MojoKid writes: Dell recently revamped their M3800 model to better entice graphic designers, engineers, and other high-end users who often work in the field, with a true mobile workstation that's both sufficiently equipped to handle professional grade workloads and is thin and light to boot. Dell claims the M3800 is the "world's thinnest and lightest 15-inch mobile workstation" and at 4.15 pounds, it could very well be. In addition, ISV tools certifications matter for workstation types, so the M3800 gets its pixel pushing muscle from an NVIDIA Quadro K1100M GPU with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. Other notable specs include an Intel Core i7-4712HQ quad-core processor, 16GB of DDR3L memory, and a 256GB mSATA SSD. One of the new additions to the M3800 is a Thunderbolt 2 port with transfer speeds of up to 20Gbps that allows for the simultaneous viewing/editing and backing up of raw 4K video. Finally, the M3800 is equipped with a 3840x2160 native resolution IGZO2 display, which equates to a 60 percent increase in pixel density over a current gen MacBook Pro with Retina display. Performance-wise, the M3800 holds up pretty strong with standard productivity workloads, though as you can image it excels more-so in graphics rendering throughput.