VIA selling S3 Graphics to HTC Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Thursday, 07 July 2011 07:26

Old guard graphics chip firm S3 are changing hands, and in a decidedly interesting direction... are HTC looking towards creating their own smartphone graphics cores?

"Under terms of the agreement with HTC, total consideration for all outstanding shares of S3 Graphics will be US$300 million," VIA said in an announcement. "Of which, VIA will receive US$147 million; and WTI will receive US$153 million. VIA will recognize a capital gain of US$ $37 million and paid-in-capital of US$115 million in this transaction."

"The transaction would allow VIA to monetize a portion of its rich IP portfolio, yet retain its graphics capabilities to support the development and sale of its processors and chipsets," said Tzu-mu Lin, Senior Vice President and Board Director of VIA. "We wish to thank WTI for its capital contribution to support S3 Graphics since 2005."

Tom's Hardware has the story.

Crysis 2 "Ultra" DirectX 11 upgrade available for download Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Tuesday, 28 June 2011 07:48

Crysis 2 caught a lot of flack for its lack of DirectX 11 support out of the box on the PC, but that additional functionality is now available as a patch for the game, which also comes alongside a high resolution texture pack for those running 64-bit Operating Systems.

The DX11 Ultra Upgrade is a free visual improvement add-on introducing DirectX 11 support as well as a wealth of graphical improvements and performance optimization for both DX11 and DX9 API's.

When using the new “Ultra” spec, DX9 platforms will benefit from real-time local reflections and contact shadows. The owners of DX11 platforms, in addition, will be able to enjoy hardware tessellation (requires the installation of the “DX11 Ultra Upgrade”), parallax occlusion mapping and several improvements for shadows, water, particles, depth of field and motion blur.

You can download both the DirectX 11 upgrade and high resolution texture pack from this page.

DDR4 memory projected to debut in 2014 Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Tuesday, 28 June 2011 07:43

DDR3 memory has been around as the king of the PC memory hill for some time now - but when are we likely to see its replacement?  Not for a few years yet according to the latest reports.

It took over three years for DDR3 dynamic random access memory (DRAM) to take off and become dominating type of memory and it looks like it will remain on the market till at least 2015 as the debut of DDR4 is now delayed till 2014 and even with rapid ramp of the latter shipments will crossover only sometimes in 2015 (more likely later).

DDR3 in 2011 is projected to account for 89% of the 808 million DRAM module units shipped this year, up from 67% last year and 24% in 2009, according to market tracking IHS iSuppli. In comparison, the older and slower DDR2 will make up 9% of the module market in 2011, down from 29% last year. The legacy-type product of DDR will take up the remaining module shipments in the market.

X-Bit Labs has the story.

Alice: Madness Returns review Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Tuesday, 28 June 2011 07:39

The original American McGee's Alice game was something really quite special thanks to its blend of gameplay and gorgeous visuals - can a sequel this far down the line possibly live up to that legacy?

Soon enough, Wonderland calls and thus the rhythm of the game is established as Alice flits between her hallucinations and the real world, which is no less grim or sensible. Things have changed in Wonderland, and while she's there Alice must try to unravel her psychological state in a search for inner peace, while at the same time dealing with other problems in the real world.

The structure of the story makes Psychonauts an obvious reference, though truth-be-told Psychonauts is a viable comparison for a whole load of other reasons too. Not only does it share a similar level of aesthetic awesomeness and a theme about exploring the minds of characters, but it also bears the same strengths and weaknesses. Alice even has slides that are analogous to Psychonauts’ slippery rails.

It’s Alice’s nearness to greatness that most makes Psychonauts such a relevant reference, however. Both titles are primarily platform games that empower players to explore fantastic landscapes with improbable tools, but both falter when it comes to making these tools as usable as they should be. Alice’s movements are often visually striking and delightful to control, but occasionally at the expense of accuracy or control.

bit-tech has the full review.

AMD's Demers reveals details of next GPU architecture Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Friday, 17 June 2011 08:26

While we're still a way off the release of AMD's next-generation GPUs, we now have at least a few vague clues as to what they might bring to the table, courtesy of AMD's Fusion Developer Summit.  If nothing else, the company seems to be pushing into new areas in terms of general purpose GPU processing in future hardware.

For one, AMD's GPUs will break free from the shackles of fixed-function designs: the next AMD GPU architecture will apparently have full support for C, C++, and other high-level languages. Making that possible has involved some re-architecting of the main processing units inside the GPU, which will now be "scalar coprocessors" (similar to the vector supercomputers of the 1980s, Demers said). The new units will mix and match elements of multiple instruction, multiple data (MIMD); multiple instruction, single data; and simultaneous multi-threading (SMT) designs. Gone will be the very long instruction word (VLIW) architecture of past AMD GPU architectures.

Now, AMD doesn't sound bent on taking Direct3D and OpenGL to an early grave. Demers said he thinks developers will continue to use existing APIs. I'm guessing the real appeal of full C++ support will be for GPU compute tasks, not game programming.

The Tech Report has the details.

AMD Catalyst 11.6 released Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Thursday, 16 June 2011 07:18

We're half-way through the month, so what better time for a new AMD Catalyst driver set?  This month's offering also includes some juicy new video decoding functionality as well as a bundle of performance improvements.

AMD Steady Video
  • Steady Video is currently an AMD exclusive feature based on AMD APP Technology
  • By applying advanced algorithms behind the scenes, users do not have to deal with shaky or unstable video ever again!
  • Capabilities scale with hardware and are end user controlled
  • Image Stabilization brought to YouTube!
  • Enabled through the AMD Vision Engine Control Center: Video Settings tab
  • AMD Steady Video is supported on the following products:
    • AMD Raedon HD 6000 Series when used in combination with an AMD CPU
    • AMD E-450 and E300
    • AMD A8, A6, and A4 series
  • Supported in the following 3rd party players:  Adobe Flash player, Windows Media player, Cyberlink PowerDVD, Corel Win DVD, ArcSoft TotalMedia Theater
Decode Acceleration of MPEG-4 part 2 content
  • AMD has enabled decode acceleration of MPEG-4 part 2 content in Microsoft video player applications (through MFT support) for all AMD Radeon 6000 Series
Performance highlights
  • The AMD Radeon HD 6900 Series and AMD Radeon HD 6800 Series of products will see the following performance gains:
    • Dirt 2 – gains of up to 5% with Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering on single GPU configurations
    • F1 2010 – gains of up to 7% with Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering on single and multiple GPU configurations
    • Tom Clancy's Hawx – gains of up to 8% with Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering on single and multiple GPU
    • Crysis Warhead - gains of up to 6% with Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering on single GPU configurations
    • Unigine OpenGL - gains of up to 20% with Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering on single GPU configurations

As always, you can download this latest Catalyst driver release from the AMD Game web site.

EA removes games from Steam, confirms more exclusives coming for Origin service Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Wednesday, 15 June 2011 14:42

Now that Electronic Arts has its own digital delivery platform for the PC, known as Origin, it seems that the game publishing giant is going to do its utmost to abandon Valve's hugely popular Steam service, promising exclusives to Origin while removing big sellers such as Crysis 2 from Steam.

Remember during E3, where Electronic Arts unveiled their new digitial service, called Origin? Well, today they have confirmed that they will be bringing more exclusives to the service, as well as value-added unique content to the versions available via Origin.

“We are going to continue to be great partners for our retail channel partners as they evolve their business models to account for digital,” Frank Gibeau, president of EA Games, told “But at the same time you talk about platform exclusives like Halo or Uncharted, EA’s going to have some of our own platform exclusives.”

Having already confirmed the digital version of Star Wars: The Old Republic to be exclusive to Origin, and having removed Crysis 2 from Steam, it doesn’t seem likely that this is something they are taking lightly.

God is a Geek has the story.

Video interview with id Software's John Carmack Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Friday, 10 June 2011 07:27

Although id Software have arguably dropped some way behind Epic and Crytek in the game engine creation business, John Carmack is still a trusted voice in the industry - thus, Computer and Video Games caught up with him at E3 to talk to him about PCs, consoles, and of course id's latest game Rage.

As their embed code doesn't work properly, you can view the video for yourself over here.

What's coming in Windows 8? Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Thursday, 09 June 2011 07:25

Next year looks likely to herald yet another new version of Windows for PC users - but what changes will it bring?  bit-tech scratches the surface of some of the bigger developments we're likely to see from it.

It's been 16 years since the jump from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95. In that time we've seen mobile phones dominate train journeys, three atrocious Star Wars films and Sony ousting Sega from the console business, but we're still basically muddling around with the same desktop computer interface.

We might have NTFS and transparent windows, but we still have the Start menu, the taskbar, the clock in the corner and the Recycle Bin. The basic Windows interface hasn't really altered in 16 years, but that looks set to change with the introduction of Windows 8, which Microsoft has just publicly demonstrated at the D9 conference.

Julie Larson-Green, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Windows Experience describes the operating system's development as a 'reimagining of Windows, from the chip to the interface.' After owning the desktop computer for the best part of two decades, Microsoft realises that the computer industry is changing, and this means the OS needs to adjust in tandem.

Check out the full article over here.

Nintendo unveils Wii U console Print E-mail
Written by Hanners   
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 07:40

Yesterday was Nintendo's turn to hog the E3 stage - something they duly did by unveiling a new console and controller combo with an eye to a 2012 launch.  The new device is called the Wii U, but is it more impressive than its name?

Seems to be leading up to a new console again. Oh no, the name of the new console is the Wii-U? Showing the new controller, looks like a tablet. Dual-sticks, D-pad, and buttons, big screen in the middle. Wow. You can play the games on the controller without the TV. Draw on it with a stylus. Play board games. Motion-controls built into it. Point it at the screen and aim for shooting games, etc. Video chat possible on the controller, apparently there's a camera built in. This is a montage of the features. Holy crap, he just swiped a video from the controller to the TV. The controller screen shows your inventory while playing Skyward Sword!

The new console is backward-compatible with all Wii games and peripherals. Controller has a 6.2" touch screen, triggers, shoulder buttons, rumble function, microphone, speakers, accelerometers, gyroscope, front-mounted camera. Full high-definition display on a TV. He's emphasizing that it is NOT a portable game machine, the console has to be nearby to wirelessly transmit the content to the controller. In these images, it looks like the Wii-U is rectangular, perhaps slightly smaller than the Wii, otherwise looks very similar. They're showing a video of Miyamoto talking about the possibilities of the new console and controller. Games on the controller while something else is on-screen, or games using both screens simultaneously, etc.

Firing Squad have a full round-up from Nintendo's E3 keynote presentation.

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