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+ - PowerVR "Wizard" GPU Is First Mobile Gaming GPU With Hardware Ray Tracing->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Imagination Technologies, the people who make the PowerVR line of mobile GPUs, have unveiled a new mobile gaming GPU ("Wizard") that does realtime ray tracing in hardware, at gaming frame rates. It has long been predicted that 3D games would eventually begin to employ true ray tracing to create computationally expensive visual effects like realistic reflections, refractions, shadows and lighting in realtime games. The PowerVR "Wizard" GPU is the first mobile GPU that can do just that in hardware. It remains to be seen how many commercial game engines, game development studios and mobile games will decide to make use of this new interesting new hardware capability. The question whether rival GPU manufacturers like Nvidia or AMD will also jump on the ray tracing bandwagon and put hardware ray tracing units in their future GPUs is also open at this point. If the hardware ray tracing trend catches on, however, and the hardware needed for it becomes mainstream, and more powerful in time, it could make for interesting virtual experiences like "true photoreal VR" when used in conjunction with a VR headset like the Oculus Rift for example."
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+ - WHO: Air Pollution "Killed 7 Million People" In 2012->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "The BBC reports: Seven million people died as a result of air pollution in 2012, the World Health Organization estimates. Its findings suggest a link between air pollution and heart disease, respiratory problems and cancer. One in eight global deaths were linked with air pollution, making it 'the world's largest single environmental health risk', the WHO said. Nearly six million of the deaths had been in South East Asia and the WHO's Western Pacific region, it found. The WHO said about 3.3 million people had died as a result of indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths were related to outdoor air pollution, mainly in low- and middle-income countries in those regions. WHO public health, environmental and social determinants of health department director Dr Maria Neira said: 'The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes. Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution.' 'The evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.' Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives, said the WHO. 'Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves.'"
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+ - NR: Silicon Valley's Brutal Ageism->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "New Republic Article About 'Ageism' In The Tech Sector: Silicon Valley has become one of the most ageist places in America. Tech luminaries who otherwise pride themselves on their dedication to meritocracy don’t think twice about deriding the not-actually-old. 'Young people are just smarter,' Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told an audience at Stanford back in 2007. As I write, the website of ServiceNow, a large Santa Clara–based I.T. services company, features the following advisory in large letters atop its 'careers' page: 'We Want People Who Have Their Best Work Ahead of Them, Not Behind Them.' And that’s just what gets said in public. An engineer in his forties recently told me about meeting a tech CEO who was trying to acquire his company. 'You must be the token graybeard,' said the CEO, who was in his late twenties or early thirties. 'I looked at him and said, "No, I’m the token grown-up." ' In talking to dozens of people around Silicon Valley over the past eight months—engineers, entrepreneurs, moneymen, uncomfortably inquisitive cosmetic surgeons—I got the distinct sense that it’s better to be perceived as naïve and immature than to have voted in the 1980s. And so it has fallen to Dr. Matarasso to make older workers look like they still belong at the office. 'It’s really morphed into, "Hey, I’m forty years old and I have to get in front of a board of fresh-faced kids. I can’t look like I have a wife and two-point-five kids and a mortgage," ' he told me. Dr. Matarasso told me that, in ascending order of popularity, the male techies favor laser treatments to clear up broken blood vessels and skin splotches. Next is a treatment called ultherapy—essentially an ultrasound that tightens the skin. 'I’ve had it done of course. I was back at work the next day. There’s zero downtime.' But, as yet, there is no technology that trumps good old-fashioned toxins, the most common treatment for the men of tech. They will go in for a little Botox between the eyes and around the mouth. Like most overachievers, they are preoccupied with the jugular. 'Men really like the neck,' Matarasso said, pointing out the spot in my own platysma muscle where he would inject some toxin to firm things up."
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Comment: Longtime Softimage Users Are Stunned By The News (Score 5, Informative) 85

by dryriver (#46436295) Attached to: Autodesk Says It's Killing Softimage Development, Support
Autodesk bought Softimage XSI for cheap, and just killed it to remove competition from their flagship products 3DMAX and MAYA. There is a huge thread about this over on cgsociety.org: http://forums.cgsociety.org/sh... ...Basically, anybody who built their studio pipeline around Softimage XSI, including many indy game developers, is royally screwed. Softimage's most powerful feature "ICE" (a multithreaded, node-based visual programming language that lets even non-programmers build custom tools and functions inside Softimage) is being migrated to Autodesk Maya instead. Its going to be called "Bifrost", as it is the "second coming" of Softimage ICE. Many Softimage users are wondering what other 3D software they can migrate to. Many are considering migrating to SideFX's "Houdini" (http://www.sidefx.com/), which is a very powerful procedural-animation software used extensively in some of the most complex VFX shots you see in Hollywood films, like the character shatter effects in TRON LEGACY. Some are considering moving to the open-source Blender 3D software, to escape from Autodesk's business policies completely. Basically, Autodesk bought Softimage, slowly killed it, ripped out the best bits, and is now forcing Softimage users to migrate to either 3DMAX or Maya, which are Autodesk's cash cows in the Media & Entertainment division. A lot of people are very pissed off about this. But this is hardly the first time Autodesk has killed a successful product (e.g. the once-excellent Autodesk Combustion), because it didn't make enough money for Autodesk's profit hungry shareholders. A sad day for Softimage XSI users. It has powered films ranging from the first Jurrassic Park to the recent LEGO movie. It was particularly strong at pulling off complex character animation, including complex muscle-and-sliding-skin simulations (e.g. the all-CG primates in "Dawn Of The Planet Of The APES"). XSI was a good CG software. It will be sorely missed by many... If Blender can get its UI overhaul right in the next release, some XSI users may migrate to the open-source software.

+ - Ask Slashdot: How Many (Electronics) Gates Is That Software Algorithm?

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "Dear Slashdotters: We have developed a graphics algorithm that got an electronics manufacturer interested in turning it into hardware. Here comes the problematic bit... The electronics manufacturer asked us to describe how complex the algorithm is. More specifically, we were asked "How many (logic) gates would be needed to turn your software algorithm into hardware?" This threw us a bit, since none of us have done electronics design before. So here is the question: Is there are a software or other tool that can analyze an algorithm written in C/C++ and estimate how many gates would be needed to turn it into hardware? Or, perhaps, there is a more manual method of converting code lines to gates? Maybe an operation like "Add" would require 3 gates while an operation like "Divide" would need 6 gates? Something like this anyway... To state the question one more time: How do we get from a software algorithm that is N lines long and executes X number of total operations overall, to a rough estimate of how many gates this algorithm would use when translated into electronic hardware?"

Comment: I hope BF4 is better than Battlefield 3 (Score 2, Interesting) 272

by dryriver (#45180011) Attached to: The Battle For the Game Industry's Soul
Battlefield 3 was no fun to play. It was a real system hog, had unacceptably long map load times, had an external HTML-based server browser that sucked, and the gameplay pretty much consisted of you entering the game, and being mowed down by a higher ranking player with more unlocked gadgets in the first 20 seconds. Battlefield 2 was a lot of fun. Battlefield 2142 was also great (Scifi-themed) fun. Battlefield 3 sucked bad in terms of simple things like "overall enjoyment" and "fun gameplay". As for Battlefield 4, I personally have little hope that EA has learned anything from Battlefield 3's gameplay problems. I'm guessing that it will suck on the gameplay side like BF3 did, but that it will have prettier graphics (which of course will require a bang-up-to-date PC or laptop to enjoy properly). My 2 Cents...ü

+ - Axiom - The Open-Source, Modular, Crowdfunded, 4K@150FPS Cinema Camera->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "Redsharknews.com reports: An outfit named Apertus (www.apertus.org) are working on a 4K raw capable cinema camera called the Axiom that will use open source software at its core — but they are also making the hardware it runs on as open as possible too. To get all this started, and as a kind of "proof of concept", they're building right now a much more limited prototype called the Axiom Alpha. It’s based on the same sensor as the full Axiom (the CMV12000) but it only shoots 1080p (downscaled from 4K) instead of the full 4K that the finished camera will provide. But it’s also based on FGPA technology just like the full 4K Axiom, so the idea is to use the Alpha prototype to get the basic software up and running before moving on to the final release camera. Apertus are not releasing full details of the full 4K Axiom camera yet (The Axiom Omega?) because much of it isn’t set in stone — as you might expect from a fully software updateable camera — but they have stated that it will be 4K, have a Super 35mm Global Shutter, have interchangeable lens mounts, be capable of 150fps at the full 4K resolution, and the biggest thing of all is that it will be fully modular! There will be lots of different modules for doing different things and as it’s open you will even be able to design your own modules! (Subject to time and ability constraints of course) As it is a fully modular system, it means you can strip the camera down to the basic functionality you will need to keep it light and small. For instance if you don’t need sync sound you can just leave the audio module out altogether. On the other hand, if you need the power of the full camera system, it’s just a matter of plugging all the modules together a bit like lego! Of course as new technology comes along, that means you can add new modules as they become available. Perhaps all kinds of metadata will be available from the new MEMS chips and there will be new modules for that ...or an anti-grav module! Who knows what the future will bring?"
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+ - Dyson Patents Hint At 'Silent' Hair Dryer->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "The Guardian reports: Whisper it, but it looks like Sir James Dyson – creator of the bladeless fan and bagless vacuum cleaner – is building a silent hair dryer. When Dyson, now 66, became frustrated with his wheelbarrow, he invented the 'Ballbarrow' – replacing the wheel with a ball so it would turn more easily. When he had to vacuum the house, his annoyance at conventional bag cleaners led to the invention of the Dyson cyclone cleaner. Possibly Dyson has become annoyed at the time and especially noise involved in drying his full head of hair. Diagrams that have surfaced at the UK's patents office show that his company has filed patents for 'a hand-held blower with an insulating chamber' – in other words, a hairdryer, which is already being dubbed 'the Hairblade', playing on the name of its Airblade hand dryer. Crucially, he seems to be aiming to make it much quieter than current models – rather as the Dyson bladeless fan is almost silent. Standard hairdryers are extremely loud, reaching up to 75 decibels – as loud as a vacuum cleaner, but held beside your head. The patents, which become public earlier this week, are surprisingly detailed, and show what looks like a hairdryer with an air chamber linked by two smaller cylinders to a smaller base unit. The air would flow through the two cylinders and into the base. The patent publication is a rare slip-up by Dyson, which goes to extraordinary lengths to keep its new products secret. It shrouded the launch of its most recent product – a combined tap-and-hand-dryer – in secrecy, demanding journalists sign non-disclosure agreements. Key among the phrases used in the application in the 56-page application show that it would have 'sound absorbing' and 'vibration absorbing' properties 'tuned to the resonant frequencies of the appliance2. Dyson has also focused on the safety aspect of hairdryers, where anything that gets sucked into the air intake can come into contact with the electrically heated wires which warm up the incoming air and cause a short circuit. It moves the warming element away from the air intake: 'if something is inserted into the appliance, it cannot contact the heater directly,' it says."
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+ - Samsung Offers To End Mobile Patent Wars->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "The BBC reports: Samsung has said that it will stop taking rivals to court over certain patent infringements for the next five years. The white flag in the patent battle has been raised because the South Korean electronics firm faces a huge fine for alleged abuses of the system. The move could help end a long-running patent war between the world's largest mobile makers. The EU said that a resolution would bring 'clarity to the industry'. 'Samsung has offered to abstain from seeking injunctions for mobile SEPs (standard essential patents) for a period of five years against any company that agrees to a particular licensing framework,' the European Commission said in a statement. Standard essential patents refer to inventions recognised as being critical to implementing an industry standard technology. Examples of such technologies include the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), a cellular standard at the heart of 3G data; and H.264, a video compression format used by YouTube, Blu-ray disks and Adobe Flash Player among others. The EU had accused the Samsung of stifling competition by bringing a series of SEP lawsuits against Apple and other rivals. Google's Motorola Mobility has been charged with similar anti-competitive practice. Samsung faced a $18.3bn (£11.3bn) fine if it was found guilty of breaching anti-trust laws. 'Enforcing patents through injunctions can be perfectly legitimate,' said Joaquin Almunia, the European Commission's vice-president in charge of competition policy. 'However, when patents are standard-essential, abuses must be prevented so that standard-setting works properly and consumers do not have to suffer negative consequences from the so-called patent wars. If we reach a good solution in this case, it will bring clarity to the industry,' he added."
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+ - LED Light Bulb Based 'Li-Fi' Closer, Say Chinese Scientists->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "The BBC reports: Wi-fi connectivity from a light bulb — or 'li-fi' — has come a step closer, according to Chinese scientists. A microchipped bulb can produce data speeds of up to 150 megabits per second (Mbps), Chi Nan, IT professor at Shanghai's Fudan University told Xinhua News. A one-watt LED light bulb would be enough to provide net connectivity to four computers, researchers say. But experts told the BBC more evidence was needed to back up the claims. There are no supporting video or photos showing the technology in action. Li-fi, also known as visible light communications (VLC), at these speeds would be faster — and cheaper — than the average Chinese broadband connection. In 2011, Prof Harald Haas, an expert in optical wireless communications at the University of Edinburgh, demonstrated how an LED bulb equipped with signal processing technology could stream a high-definition video to a computer. He coined the term 'light fidelity' or li-fi and set up a private company, PureVLC, to exploit the technology. 'We're just as surprised as everyone else by this announcement,' PureVLC spokesman Nikola Serafimovski told the BBC. 'But how valid this is we don't know without seeing more evidence. We remain sceptical.' This year, the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute claimed that data rates of up to 1Gbit/s per LED light frequency were possible in laboratory conditions, making one bulb with three colours potentially capable of transmitting data at up to 3Gbit/s."
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+ - Ukraine-Discovered 400 Meter Asteroid 'May Impact Earth In 2032'->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "News.Com.Au reports: A LARGE asteroid has been discovered zipping passed Earth that astronomers say is dangerous and will return on August 26, 2032. 'A 400-metre asteroid is threatening to blow up the Earth,' Russian vice-premier Dmitry Rogozin, in charge of his nation's space research, wrote on his Twitter account. 'Here is a super target for the national cosmonautics.' The asteroid was discovered by astronomers in the Ukraine on Saturday who promptly named it 2013 TV135. The astronomers said they discovered the asteroid was approaching Earth at a potentially dangerous trajectory, RIA Novosti reported. They calculated the potential collision date — with a force as powerful as two thousand atomic bombs — but acknowledged that the odds of an impact are 1 in 63,000. NASA said in a statement, named 'A reality check', that it was 99.998 per cent certain that when it heads back around the planet in 2032 it will sail past again. 'This is a relatively new discovery,' said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's NEO Program. 'With more observations, I fully expect we will be able to significantly reduce, or rule out entirely, any impact probability for the foreseeable future.' Until further investigation by NASA, the asteroid has a danger rating of 1 out of a possible 10 on the Torino Impact Hazard Scale, the system that gauges the danger of impact destruction by asteroids, CNN reported The 1 rating means that it poses 'no unusual level of danger.' NASA said the asteroid 2013 TV135 'came within 6.7 million kilometres' of Earth — about 20 times as far away from Earth as the moon. On February 15, asteroid 2012 DA14, which was 50m long and weighed 200,000 tonnes, passed around 27,000 kilometres above the Earth."
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+ - Redesigned Seats Let Airlines Squeeze in More Passengers

Submitted by Hugh Pickens DOT Com
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "AP reports that US airlines are taking out old, bulky seats in favor of so-called slimline models that take up less space from front to back, allowing for five or six more seats on each plane giving airlines two of their favorite things: More paying passengers, and a smaller fuel bill because the seats are slightly lighter. Whether the new seats are really closer together depends on how you measure. By the usual measure, called "pitch," the new ones are generally an inch closer together from front to back as measured at the armrest. Southwest has put on nearly its entire fleet are 31 inches apart, about an inch less than before allowing them to to add an extra row of six seats to each plane. International passengers are feeling crowded, too. As recently as 2010, most airlines buying Boeing's big 777 opted for nine seats across. Now it's 10 across on 70 percent of newly-built 777s, Boeing says. American's newest 777s are set up 10-across in coach, with slightly narrower seats than on its older 777s. Airlines say you won't notice. And the new seats are designed to minimize this problem. Airplane seats from 30 years ago looked like your grandmother's BarcaLounger, says Jami Counter, senior director at SeatGuru.com, which tracks airline seats and amenities. "All that foam cushion and padding probably didn't add all that much comfort. All that's been taken out," he said. "You haven't really lost all that much if the airline does it right.""

+ - New EU Rules To Curb Transfer Of European Data To The U.S.->

Submitted by dryriver
dryriver (1010635) writes "The Guardian reports: New European rules aimed at curbing questionable transfers of data from EU countries to the US are being finalised in Brussels in the first concrete reaction to the Edward Snowden disclosures on US and British mass surveillance of digital communications. Regulations on European data protection standards are expected to pass the European parliament committee stage on Monday after the various political groupings agreed on a new compromise draft following two years of gridlock on the issue. The draft would make it harder for the big US internet servers and social media providers to transfer European data to third countries, subject them to EU law rather than secret American court orders, and authorise swingeing fines possibly running into the billions for the first time for not complying with the new rules. 'As parliamentarians, as politicians, as governments we have lost control over our intelligence services. We have to get it back again,' said Jan Philipp Albrecht, the German Greens MEP who is steering the data protection regulation through the parliament. Data privacy in the EU is currently under the authority of national governments with standards varying enormously across the 28 countries, complicating efforts to arrive at satisfactory data transfer agreements with the US. The current rules are easily sidestepped by the big Silicon Valley companies, Brussels argues. The new rules, if agreed, would ban the transfer of data unless based on EU law or under a new transatlantic pact with the Americans complying with EU law. 'Without any concrete agreement there would be no data processing by telecommunications and internet companies allowed,' says a summary of the proposed new regime. Such bans were foreseen in initial wording two years ago but were dropped under the pressure of intense lobbying from Washington. The proposed ban has been revived directly as a result of the uproar over operations by the US's National Security Agency (NSA)."
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