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+ - Ode To Sound Blaster: Are Discrete Audio Cards Still Worth The Investment?->

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Back in the day (which is a scientific measurement for anyone who used to walk to school during snowstorms, uphill, both ways), integrated audio solutions had trouble earning respect. Many enthusiasts considered a sound card an essential piece to the PC building puzzle. It's been 25 years since the first Sound Blaster card was introduced, a pretty remarkable feat considering the diminished reliance on discrete audio in PCs, in general. These days, the Sound Blaster ZxR is Creative's flagship audio solution for PC power users. It boasts a signal-to-noise (SNR) of 124dB that Creative claims is 89.1 times better than your motherboard's integrated audio solution. It also features a built-in headphone amplifier, beamforming microphone, a multi-core Sound Core3D audio processor, and various proprietary audio technologies. While gaming there is no significant performance impact or benefit when going from onboard audio to the Sound Blaster ZxR. However, the Sound Blaster ZxR produced higher-quality in-game sound effects and it also produces noticeably superior audio in music and movies, provided your speakers can keep up."
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+ - Gamestop's Brilliant Idea: Require Preorders To Unlock Custom Game Content->

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid (1002251) writes "One of the great universal truths of modern gaming is that preorders suck. The term refers to the practice of ordering a title at some point before it actually ships in order to get access to a variety of minor outfit tweaks, a few starting weapons, or boosts to early game play. Today, some publishers take this practice to truly ridiculous levels; the recent game Watch Dogs has no fewer than nine pre-order options. GameStop, perhaps sensing that there's pressure building against the model, wants to turn the dial up to 11 — and create preorder-locked, GameStop-specific content. According to financial analyst Colin Sebastian, "[GameStop] indicates that software publishers are more enthusiastic about partnering with it. For example, by offering exclusive content on each major game release and longer term, future models may include GameStop offering exclusive gameplay." GameStop is enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment. The company has captured a greater share of the Xbox One and PS4 market than it held at this point in the console cycle last time around and it's clearly looking to increase the attractiveness of its own business. That's fine but this kind of arbitrary lopping off of content to boost sales at particular shops simply isn't going to sit well with most gamers."
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+ - Watch Dogs Graphics And Game Play: PC vs. Xbox One With, Surprising Results->

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Normally, the question of whether a game runs better on the PC or a console is a no-brainer, at least for PC users. Watch Dogs, however, with its problematic and taxing PC play, challenges that concept. And since the gap between consoles and PCs is typically smallest at the beginning of the console generation, HotHardware decided to take the Xbox One out for a head-to-head comparison against the PC with this long-awaited title. What was found may surprise you. Depending on just how much horsepower your PC has, the Xbox One (and possibly the PS4 though that wasn't compared) might be the better option. There's no question that the PC can look better, even before you factor in the mods that have been released to date, but unless you've spent $300 or more on a fairly recent GPU, you're not going to be able to run the game at sufficiently high detail to benefit from the enhanced image quality and resolution. If you have a Radeon HD 7950 / R9 280 or an NVIDIA card with greater than 4GB of RAM or a GeForce GTX 780 / 780 Ti, you can happily watch Watch Dogs make hash out of the Xbox One — but statistically, only a minority of gamers have this sort of high-end hardware."
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+ - ARM Launches Juno Reference Platform For 64-bit Android Developers->

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid (1002251) writes "One of the trickiest aspects to launching a new platform update is the chicken and egg problem. Without any hardware to test on, developers are leery of committing to supporting new hardware features. Without software that takes advantage of new hardware capabilities, customers aren't willing to pay for new equipment. This is the crux of the issue with respect to the ARMv8 architecture and enabling development for 64-bit Android platrforms. As such ARM is readying their Juno development platform that combines several of ARM's most advanced technologies on a single board. The product supports big.Little in an asymmetric configuration; each board ships with two Cortex-A57s, four Cortex-A53s, and a modest Mali T-624 core. All this hardware needs an OS to run on — which is why ARM is announcing a 64-bit port of Android as part of this new development board. By including AOSP support as well as additional hooks and features from Linaro, ARM wants Juno to be a sort-of one-stop shopping product for anyone who needs to test, prototype, or design a 64-bit product for the ARM ecosystem. The Android flavor that's coming over is based on Linaro Stable Kernel 3.10. At launch, Juno will support OpenGL-ES 3.0, on-chip thermal and power management, up to 8GB of RAM (12.8GB/s of bandwidth), an optional FPGA, and USB 2.0. OpenCL 1.1 will be added in a future product update. The project is positioned as a joint ARM / Linaro launch with ARM handling the hardware and Linaro taking responsibility for the software stack."
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+ - Samsung SSD 850 Pro Drive Features 32 Layer 3D V-NAND Flash->

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Samsung has just unveiled its latest series of solid state drives for consumer applications, the SSD 850 PRO. Like the previously-released SSD 845 EVO series, the 850 PRO leverages Samsung's tri-core MEX controller, but these new drives also feature bleeding-edge, 32 layer, 3D V-NAND flash memory that offers better power, endurance, and performance characteristics than traditional MLC NAND. Other features of the Samsung SSD 850 PRO series includes "Device sleep" (DEVSLP), which can maximize battery life in mobile devices and support for Samsung's RAPID mode technology, which leverages system RAM to boost performance. The SSD 850 series drives put up impressive benchmark numbers in a variety of benchmarks, besting many other drives in its class, but they also carry a long 10 year warranty."
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+ - Facebook Alters 689K User Feeds In 'Emotional Contagion' Experiment->

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Here's an interesting psychological factoid: Emotional states can be transferred to other people via text-based messages on social media, such as Facebook. That means that if, for instance, you view a bunch of sad posts, you're more likely to pen a sad post yourself shortly thereafter even though you don't realize that the sad posts made you sad. Here's a snippet from the "Significance" section of the paper, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS): "We show, via a massive (N = 689,003) experiment on Facebook, that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness." That's almost 700,000 people that Facebook experimented on. The social network purposely manipulated the Newsfeeds of hundreds of thousands of people. Shouldn't Facebook have had to notify those users that it was doing--something? The research itself is significant because, according to its authors, "emotional contagion" can happen not just in real-world interactions, but also from social media interactions. Thus, a social network could be a vehicle for massive, large-scale emotional contagion."
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+ - LG Out Innovates Competitors With QHD G3 Display And Frickin' Laser Beams->

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid (1002251) writes "LG is probably getting a little tired of scraping for brand recognition versus big names like Samsung, Apple and yes, even Google. However, the company is also likely taking solace in the fact that their smartphone sales figures are heading for an all-time high in 2014, with an estimated 60 million units projected to be sold this year. LG's third iteration of their popular "G" line of flagship smartphones, simply dubbed the LG G3, is the culmination of all of the innovation the company has developed in previous devices to date, including its signature rear button layout, and a cutting-edge 5.5-inch QHD display that drives a resolution of 2560X1440 with a pixel density of 538 PPI. Not satisified with pixel overload, LG decide to equip their new smartphone with 'frickin' laser beams' to assist its 13MP camera in targeting subjects for auto-focus. The G3 performs well in the benchmarks with a Snapdragon 801 on board and no doubt its camera takes some great shots quickly and easily. However, it's questionable how much of that super high res 2560 display you can make use of on a 5.5-inch device."
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+ - Google Cardboard, A DIY VR Headset You Can Build, Fold And Recycle->

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Google's I/O developer conference has had a large number of announcements, some a little more interesting than the others. Then there are some that are down-right strange — at least at first. Google's "Cardboard" easily falls into that category. Imagine sitting at I/O, watching a keynote, and then being told to pick up some cardboard on the way out. You might begin to think that Google had lost it. Well, that really did happen, and event-goers were handed a sheet of corrugated cardboard on their way out of the auditorium. Of course, this wasn't an ordinary piece of cardboard — it could be unfolded, and reconstructed into a Virtual Reality housing unit for an Android smartphone. A device like this would be useless without an app, so don't worry, Google has one. With it, you can take a tour of different locations through Google Earth, watch YouTube videos on a "massive screen", walk down the street with Street View, and partake in some other fun activities, while the app takes advantage of a phone's head-tracking functionality."
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+ - Intel And Micron Build New Xeon Phi Processor With Hybrid Memory Cube Technology->

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Intel today made a splash at the International Supercomputing Conference in Leipzig, Germany by revealing new details about its next-generation Xeon Phi processor technology. You may better recognize Xeon Phi by its codename, Knights Landing. No matter what you call it, this represents a significant leap in High Performance Computing (HPC) that will deliver up to three times the performance of Intel's previous generations while consuming less power. A big part of the reason for this is the construction of a new high-speed interconnect technology called Intel Omni Scale Fabric, which Intel has been a bit cagey about, though reportedly it is comprised of silicon photonics interfaces as well as IP from Cray and QLogic. This will be integrated into the next generation of Xeon Phi processors as well as future general-purpose Xeon chips. At launch, more than 60 HPC-enhanced Silvermont-based cores will connect with up to 16GB of on-package, high-bandwidth memory designed in partnership with Micron, which leverages the fundamental DRAM and stacking technologies found in Micron's Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) product."
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+ - How Vacuum Tubes, New Technology Might Save Moore's Law->

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid (1002251) writes "The transistor is one of the most profound innovations in all of human existence. First discovered in 1947, it has scaled like no advance in human history; we can pack billions of transistors into complicated processors smaller than your thumbnail. After decades of innovation, however, the transistor has faltered. Clock speeds stalled in 2005 and the 20nm process node is set to be more expensive than the 28nm node was for the first time ever. Now, researchers at NASA believe they may have discovered a way to kickstart transistors again — by using technology from the earliest days of computing: The vacuum tube. It turns out that when you shrink a Vacuum transistor to absolutely tiny dimensions, you can recover some of the benefits of a vacuum tube and dodge the negatives that characterized their usage. According to a report, vacuum transistors can draw electrons across the gate without needing a physical connection between them. Make the vacuum area small enough, and reduce the voltage sufficiently, and the field emission effect allows the transistor to fire electrons across the gap without containing enough energy to energize the helium inside the nominal "vacuum" transistor. According to researchers, they've managed to build a successful transistor operating at 460GHz — well into the so-called Terahertz Gap, which sits between microwaves and infrared energy."
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+ - Harley-Davidson 'Project LiveWire' Marks The First Electric Hog-> 1

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Harley-Davidson is going green. No, not a Lime Green motorcycle or anything to do with paint jobs, but a brand new hog that runs on electricity instead of gasoline. To kick off the initiative, which HD is calling "Project LiveWire," the iconic motorcycle maker is taking 22 electric bikes on a tour across the U.S. next week to both promote the new rides and gauge the public's reaction. Once the attention rolls off of social media and into the streets where the hardcore bikers prefer to spend their time, it will be interesting to see what kind of reaction an electric hog elicits. These bikes lack an exhaust and the accompanying rumble that bikers love to hear. HD even tried (unsuccessfully) to trademark its bike's "Potato-Potato-Potato" sound. On the flip side, HD could attract a whole new audience to the world of motorcycles, one that cares more about carbon footprints than a rumbling exhaust."
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+ - Poor Watch Dogs PC Performance? Here's Why And How To Fix It->

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Over the past few weeks, I've spent a significant amount of time with Watch Dogs. The game is infamous for not running very well on PCs. After some legwork, I've figured out a hefty chunk of the reason why. Ubisoft royally screwed up its suggested VRAM (graphics card frame buffer) settings. Watch Dogs sucks down far more frame buffer memory than many modern PC games currently. In the past, VRAM usage in games like Guild Wars, Battlefield 4, and Total War: Shogun 2, with all detail levels maxed out, was about 1.5GB. BF4 will break 2GB if you use the supersampling option to render the game internally in 4K mode. Ubisoft claims that Watch Dogs' "High" texture detail setting requires a 2GB frame buffer while its "Ultra" textures need 3GB of frame buffer memory. That might technically be true, but these figures should be treated as a minimum, not a max. Playing the game through with High Textures and "Ultra" details systems stutter repeatedly with jerky slowdowns while running a mid range GeForce GTX 770. Switching to "High" Details improved the situation, but didn't resolve it. Unfortunately, the best way to improve performance in Watch Dogs is to ignore Ubisoft's recommendations altogether and opt for lower detail levels, depending on your configuration and monitor resolution. Ubisoft has said that a patch is coming that may address some of these issues. In the mean time, this article covers suggested settings with various graphics card frame buffer sizes, for better performance."
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+ - Samsung Debuts Thin Galaxy Tab S With Super AMOLED 2560X1600 Display->

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Samsung unveiled its latest flagship tablet, the Galaxy Tab S, at an event in New York City tonight, and the new device is thin, lightweight, and sports a killer Super AMOLED display. Samsung boasts that the Galaxy Tab S's 2560x1600 display has 73% better color reproduction than conventional LCD displays and can match colors up to 94% of "nature's true palette" with deeper blacks and a 100,000:1 contrast ratio. The 10.5-inch device weighs just 467g and measures a mere 6.6mm in thickness (and there's an 8.4-inch version, too). Under the hood, the Galaxy Tab S features Android KitKat 4.4, 3GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of storage with a microSD slot that supports up to 128GB. The front camera is 2.1MP and the rear 8MP camera has an LED flash. No word on the exact processor on board just yet, other than it's a quad-core SoC. It's likely a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 though an Exynos variant or perhaps even Tegra 4 wouldn't be beyond the realm of possibility."
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+ - Google Unveils Project Tango 3D Tablet DevKit Powered By NVIDIA's Tegra K1->

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Google's Project Tango tablet is a 3D mapping and spatially-aware device that, with number of cameras and sensors on it, can detect its surroundings and your movements in three dimensions. As such, you can utilize the device to develop applications and uses that integrate the physical world around you in a virtual representation on screen. From augmented reality, to gaming and terrain mapping, the things you could conceivably do with a device like this are rather fascinating. Until today, we haven't gotten a lot of detail regarding exactly what makes Project Tango tick but the folks at NVIDIA have helped, along with Google, to let the cat out of the proverbial bag. It appears that the just announced Project Tango development kit is based on a 7-inch Android tablet with 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and it's powered by NVIDIA's new Tegra K1 integrated processor and SoC (System On a Chip). Interestingly, previous versions of Project Tango have been torn down, revealing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 under the hood. However, it appears Google needed a bit more juice and is also going with NVIDIA's new low power mobile beast. Word is Google's Project Tango Developer's Kit will be available "later this year" and will cost exactly $1024. Wouldn't you know it, that price fits neatly into a 1KB memory space. Think they meant to do that?"
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+ - Surface Pro 3 Performance And Thermal Tests Show Tablet Competes With Ultrabooks->

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Last week, Microsoft unveiled the third iteration of its Surface Pro tablet, the aptly named Surface Pro 3. Unlike previous revisions to the product, the new Surface Pro 3 can be considered a major overhaul. Not only does the new device feature more powerful internal components and offer a handful of new features, but its form factor is a complete departure from the previous version, thanks to its screen's 3:2 aspect ratio. The particular model tested here is built around an Intel Core i5-4300U processor with integrated Intel HD 4400 series graphics, 8GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, and a 256GB SSD. For users that care about performance, the Surface Pro 3's unique cooling solution with its cylindrical-shaped fansink could be what sets this device apart, offering up to a an Intel Core i7 processor in a tablet form factor but with near silent acoustics and comfortable exterior temperatures. Performance-wise, even the Core i5-based Surface Pro 3 competes or sometimes exceeds the performance of some full-sized Ultrabooks on the market."
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