Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

[H]ard News

Monday February 18, 2019

Intel Acquires Indian Startup for GPU Talent

The Times of India reports that Intel Corporation acquired the Indian chip design startup Ineda Systems in an "all cash deal sealed last week" for an undisclosed amount. While Ineda seemingly specializes in low-power IoT hardware and autonomous driving technology, chipzilla is said to be more interested in the startup's GPU making talent. On their IoT page, Ineda does advertise several technologies that Intel's rapidly growing graphics division might be interested in, such as I/O Virtualization, a "secure and highly efficient inter-processor communication infrastructure using CPU Link services," and architectural designs that can "improving the power consumption by an order of magnitude" when compared to traditional IoT processors.

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Ineda Systems founder Dasaradha Gude confirmed the development, but refused to divulge any details. When TOI reached out to Intel, officials confirmed the deal but they too declined to disclose transaction details. "Intel acquired engineering resources from Ineda Systems, a silicon and platform services provider based in Hyderabad. This transaction provides Intel with an experienced SOC (system on chip) team to help build a world-class discrete GPU business," an Intel spokesperson told TOI.

Discussion

Netflix Cancels The Punisher And Jessica Jones

Even though Netflix's Marvel TV series are still quite popular on the platform, the streaming platform has steadily been axing all of them. They already canceled Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, and today, Deadline reports that Netflix has all but finished off their slice of the Marvel Cinematic Universe by canceling Jessica Jones and The Punisher. Jessica Jones will still get a third season, and the 2nd season of The Punisher came out relatively recently, but Netflix confirmed that those will be the final seasons of both shows. While Netflix didn't mention Disney by name, they did say "on behalf of everyone at Marvel Television, we couldn't be more proud or more grateful to our audience. Our Network partner may have decided they no longer want to continue telling the tales of these great characters… but you know Marvel better than that." Thanks to exlink for the tip.

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After Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Daredevil were all given the chop late last year by the streamer, the unplugging of further seasons of the blood and bullet strewn Frank Castle saga should really come as no surprise. With new and old Marvel content a big component of the upcoming Disney+ streaming service, the final stage of the disentangling of the once burgeoning relationship between the House of Mouse and Netflix has now become more a matter of when and how not if. Additionally, the Jeph Loeb-run Marvel TV inked a four-series and one special deal with the soon-to-be Disney dominated Hulu on February 11 that will surely become the new focus of the comic giant’s small screen division.

Discussion

Police are Using Drones in 911 Calls

VentureBeat reports that police in Chula Vista, California are successfully using drones to witness and record crimes as they happen. The police department launched the partnership with Cape last year, and since October, the two remotely piloted drones have reportedly "assisted in 21 arrests, spanning 249 flights over the course of 81 flight hours." The report specifically mentions a case where a woman allegedly tried to run over a man on an (allegedly) stolen bike, and that the drone's observation of events will be used in court even though no police officers were physically there to witness the crimes. Fire departments are reportedly interested in the drones as well, and it sounds like the trials will expand to other areas sometime soon.

Other participants in San Diego, the largest city in the country participating in the program that required a regional government sponsor, include UC San Diego Health to deliver blood and medical supplies, Uber Eats for food deliveries, and AT&T to test 5G networks. The first responder concept means drones are not deployed after a crime occurs, but proactively deployed for a large number of scenarios. In almost all instances, Sallee said, the drones gets there before officers in vehicles on the ground. The pilot program is currently limited to a one-mile radius around headquarters in downtown Chula Vista, the area of the city most likely to make 911 calls for police.

Discussion

Digital Foundry Analyzes Metro Exodus's Visual Fidelity

While many reviews have already dug into the technical aspects of 4A Games' newest Metro title, Digital Foundry recently posted a video showing how all that fancy tech actually impacts the in-game experience. Like many other games and benchmarks, Metro Exodus is pretty and demanding, but DF points out that those visuals do an excellent job of making the game feel immersive, as opposed to coming off as gimmicky features. The particle effects, for example, really contribute to Metro's moody atmosphere, while little touches like a remarkably detailed first person body view and the conspicuously detailed shadow it casts all make the game feel realistic. Check out the video on Metro Exodus's immersiveness below, or read Eurogamer's lengthy interview with 4A programmer Ben Archard and CTO Oles Shishkovstov if you're more interested in the technical aspects.

The open world maps are completely different to the enclosed tunnels maps of the other games. Environments are larger and have way more objects in them, visible out to a much greater distance. It is therefore a lot harder to cull objects from both update and render. Objects much further away still need to update and animate. In the tunnels you could mostly cull an object in the next room so that only its AI was active, and then start updating animations and effects when it became visible, but the open world makes that a lot trickier... So, a good chunk of that extra time is spent with updating more AIs and more particles and more physics objects, but also a good chunk of time is spent feeding the GPU the extra stuff it is going to render. We do parallelise it where we can. The engine is built around a multithreaded task system. Entities such as AIs or vehicles, update in their own tasks. Each shadowed light, for example, performs its own frustum-clipped gather for the objects it needs to render in a separate task. This gather is very much akin to the gathering process for the main camera, only repeated many times throughout the scene for each light. All of that needs to be completed before the respective deferred and shadow map passes can begin (at the start of the frame).

Discussion

Alibaba Allegedly Developed a Chinese Propaganda App

Amid accusations that they're collaborating with the Chinese government, China-based tech companies are facing increased scrutiny abroad. Many of them deny any involvement in such activity, and Alibaba in particular previously slammed the U.S's treatment of Huawei as "extremely unfair." But a recent report from Reuters accuses Alibaba of developing a propaganda app for the Chinese government. The app was reportedly the most popular one on Apple's Chinese app store last week, and Alibaba has refused to comment on the report so far.

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The app, which includes short videos, government news stories and quizzes, was created by an Alibaba team. A user of Alibaba's own messaging app DingTalk can use their login credentials to log into Xuexi Qiangguo. Alibaba said the app was built using DingTalk's software... At least part of the app's runaway popularity can be attributed to directives issued by local governments and universities that require people in China's expansive party member network to download the app. The app has been downloaded over 43.7 million times on Apple and Android devices since its launch in January, according to estimates by Beijing-based statistical consulting firm Qimai. It was not immediately clear whether Alibaba makes money from the app, or who initiated its development.

Discussion

UK Parliament Report Calls Facebook 'Digital Gangsters'

Facebook's stock price has recovered from a low of about $124 in December to ~$162 right now, which is about there the stock was in mid 2018 and early 2017. But if you think that means Facebook's bad news train is slowing down, think again. The Guardian says that a report from the UK government's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee's 18-month investigation into Facebook called the social media giant "digital gangsters." Among other things, it accuses Mark Zuckerburg of "contempt for parliament in refusing three separate demands for him to give evidence," and also warns of the British government's vulnerability to manipulation by foreign actors on the platform. Other officials are reportedly calling for stricter regulation, and Damian Collins said "We should have a proper code of ethics, set in statute with an independent regulator to oversee whether the tech companies are complying or not."

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"Democracy is at risk from the malicious and relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation and personalised 'dark adverts' from unidentifiable sources, delivered through the major social media platforms we use every day," warned the committee’s chairman, Damian Collins.

Discussion

Here's a Tutorial for Applying Liquid Metal TIM to a Laptop

Thanks to its remarkable thermal performance, liquid metal TIM is a favorite among high end desktop PC builders who aren't turned away by the somewhat daunting application process. But Overclocked Inside points out that liquid metal TIM can give laptops a huge boost as well, as their CPUs and GPUs are strongly limited by their relatively meager heatsinks and low-cost TIM. The site posted a tutorial for applying Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut to laptop CPUs and GPUs, and reportedly observed a performance jump of around 17% after applying the compound to a Dell XPS 17 notebook.

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Before the application with liquid metal, the CPU reached the maximum core temperature of 100C under load after less than 1 minute on turbo clock and then only clocked at 2.2GHz and kept this clock just below the temperature limit. By default, the laptop is configured by the manufacturer for 45W continuous load and 65W short-term peak load. With these performance values, the CPU, as already mentioned, ran so hot after a few seconds that the thermal protection function had to reduce the clock frequency to the standard clock... After using the liquid metal, the full all-core turbo clock rate of 2.8GHz could now be maintained after any number of runs of the benchmark without a break in between. With a Long Term Power Target of 52W. The Short Term Power Target has also been adjusted to 52W. As a result, we now received 478 points in the Cinebench R15, which corresponds to a performance increase of more than 17% and an equally reduced computing time.

Discussion

TSMC Puts a Price on Their Production Accident

Earlier this year, substandard chemicals forced Taiwan Semiconductor's Nanke 14 factory to shut down production after the company reportedly lost "tens of thousands of wafers." The production of cutting edge 16nm/12nm NVIDIA, MediaTek, and Huawei chips were reportedly affected by the incident, but TSMC didn't know the exact financial impact of the shutdown at the time. Now, Digitimes says "the incident is expected to reduce TSMC's first-quarter 2019 revenues by about US$550 million, gross margin by 2.6pp, operating margin by 3.2pp, and EPS by NT$0.42." The company also claims that the wafers scrapped in the first quarter "will be made up in following quarter," but the shutdown is still expected to impact their yearly financials as well.

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TSMC said it discovered that a batch of photoresist from a chemical supplier contained a specific component which was abnormally treated, creating a foreign polymer in the photoresist that affected 12/16nm wafers at its Fab 14B. To ensure the quality of wafers delivered to customers, TSMC said they have decided to scrap a higher number of wafers than its earlier estimate... TSMC said it has maintained constant communication with customers affected by the incident, and has worked out replacement and delivery schedules with each of them.

Discussion

Sunday February 17, 2019

"Forgettable, Repetitive": Early Reviews Aren't Kind on Anthem

Game journalists who are knee-deep in Anthem ahead of Friday’s official release have been giving out early impressions over the weekend, but unfortunately for BioWare, much of the reception seems negative. PC Gamer called the story "forgettable" and gameplay "repetitive," the latter of which has been echoed by other reviewers: Giant Bomb claims there is at least one portion of the campaign that forces players to "spend hours completing in-game challenges" before they can progress. There is also a "Quickplay" bug that lets brand-new players skip straight to the final boss fight.

Unlike Dragon Age and Mass Effect, which both have clever twists on familiar genres and establish emotional stakes early in the story, Anthem doesn't create that same sense of purpose or understanding. So even though I'm trying to immerse myself in this world by reading all the bits of lore and conversing with every character I can, the whole thing feels superfluous. And while Anthem's combat is a lot of fun in the moment-to-moment action, the actual mission objectives are boring and repetitive.

Discussion

NVIDIA on DLSS: "It Will Improve over Time"

Be patient, says NVIDIA: gamers who are unimpressed with the company’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) technique should understand the technology is still in its infancy and that there is plenty of potential to be realized in the coming future. As Andrew Edelsten (Technical Director of Deep Learning) explains, DLSS is reliant on training data, which only continues to grow. It’s part of the reason why the technique is less impressive on lower resolutions, as the focus was on 4K. Edelstein advises gamers may want to avoid TAA due to "high-motion ghosting and flickering."

We built DLSS to leverage the Turing architecture’s Tensor Cores and to provide the largest benefit when GPU load is high. To this end, we concentrated on high resolutions during development (where GPU load is highest) with 4K (3840x2160) being the most common training target. Running at 4K is beneficial when it comes to image quality as the number of input pixels is high. Typically for 4K DLSS, we have around 3.5-5.5 million pixels from which to generate the final frame, while at 1920x1080 we only have around 1.0-1.5 million pixels. The less source data, the greater the challenge for DLSS to detect features in the input frame and predict the final frame.

Discussion

Metro Exodus Is Now Being Review Bombed on Metacritic

On the off chance Deep Silver hasn’t regretted making Metro Exodus an Epic Games Store exclusive yet, gamers have now taken to popular review-aggregate Metacritic to voice their displeasure by review bombing the post-apocalyptic title. The exclusivity was certainly a hasty decision, as physical copies of the game still feature the Steam logo, just hidden under a sticker.

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The Metacritic review-bombing is the latest episode in a long saga of animosity between Steam users and "Exodus" developer 4A Games. 4A Games did initially solicit pre-orders for the game on Steam, and abruptly stopped its sales late-January. Those who had pre-ordered would continue to receive the game and its updates. 4A muddied the waters further by responding to initial criticism from Steam users by threatening to desert the PC platform as a whole, inviting more bile from some really angry gamers.

Discussion

Yes, Rian Johnson Is Still Working on His "Star Wars" Trilogy

To the lament of Star Wars fans across the galaxy, Rian Johnson has confirmed he isn’t done with the franchise: "The Last Jedi" director took to Twitter on Wednesday to dispel the latest rumors, which claimed he was no longer attached to the new, fourth trilogy of movies shortly announced by Disney after the release of Episode VIII. JJ Abrams also revealed photography has wrapped on Episode IX Friday with a new cast photo; Oscar Isaac (Poe) appears to be relieved it's finally over.

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Johnson was of course hired to create an entirely new Star Wars trilogy after his work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi. He and Lucasfilm got along so well that they wanted to continue their partnership, and Johnson is lined up to write and direct at least the first installment of the new trilogy, which will take place in a new setting with new characters we’ve never met before in the Star Wars universe. He’s currently in the midst of plotting out the entire three-movie arc.

Discussion

Tesla's Autopilot Reduced Crashes by 40 Percent, but Not Really

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a report in 2017 claiming Tesla’s Autopilot technology reduced crashes by as much as 40 percent, but an investigation by research firm Quality Control Systems Corporation suggests otherwise. "The majority of the vehicles in the Tesla data set suffered from missing data or other problems that made it impossible to say whether the activation of Autosteer increased or decreased the crash rate." Ars Technica alleges the NHTSA is more concerned with protecting Tesla from embarrassment than the public from "potentially unsafe" technologies.

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...we discovered that the actual mileage at the time the Autosteer software was installed appears to have been reported for fewer than half the vehicles NHTSA studied. For those vehicles that do have apparently exact measurements of exposure mileage both before and after the software's installation, the change in crash rates associated with Autosteer is the opposite of that claimed by NHTSA - if these data are to be believed. For the remainder of the dataset, NHTSA ignored exposure mileage that could not be classified as either before or after the installation of Autosteer.

Discussion

Google Backtracks on Chrome Modifications That Would Have Crippled Ad Blockers

Ad-blocker developers (and users) can rest easy, as Google has decided to revise its collection of changes to the Chrome extensions platform. "Manifest V3" would have killed uBlock, Ghostery, and similar extensions by disallowing them from querying remotely hosted code via traditional APIs, but Google has had a change of heart due to backlash and new data suggesting ad-blocking requests didn’t have a significant effect on browser performance.

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Chrome engineers justified the change by citing the performance impact of not having a maximum value for the number of network requests an extension could access. But the Ghostery team disagreed with this assessment. "From the measurements, we do not think this claim holds, as all popular content-blockers are already very efficient and should not incur any noticeable slow-down for users." Their study found sub-millisecond median decision times per request, showing quite the opposite of what the Chrome team claimed.

Discussion

FFXV Benchmark: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti on Par with GTX 1070, Titan X

"It could be the mid-range savior many gamers have been hoping for." According to a new Final Fantasy XV benchmark, NVIDIA’s next Ti effort performs similarly to a GTX 1070 and Titan X. VideoCardz has published photos of the GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1660 Ti OC and packaging.

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A score of 5000 points would make the new GPU 40% faster than the GTX 1060 6GB, and 70% faster than the GTX 1060 3GB in this specific benchmark. Currently those two cards are available from $200-300 and $150-250, respectively, so the GTX 1660 Ti would be better value than all but the cheapest 1060 3GB models on offer.

Discussion

No Link between Violent Video Games and Increased Aggression in Teens, Study Finds

In one of the most "definitive" studies to date, Oxford University has concluded that while video games can provoke "angry feelings or reactions," there was "no correlation found between playing video games and aggressive behaviour in teenagers." Lead researcher and professor Andrew Przybylski accuses previous studies of using cherry-picked results to fabricate a "moral panic" surrounding video games.

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...the "idea that violent video games drive real-world aggression is a popular one, but it hasn't tested very well over time". According to the university, this study is set apart from previous work by preregistration, where researchers publish their hypothesis, methods and analysis technique before beginning research. "Part of the problem in technology research is that there are many ways to analyse the same data, which will produce different results," said Przybylski.

Discussion

EVO Japan Cuts Sexual Dead or Alive 6 Stream Short, Issues Apology

Too risque, too sexy: fight-tourney EVO president Joey "Mr. Wizard" Cuellar decided to kill a Dead or Alive 6 promotional livestream this week after two Japanese models began jiggling their goods to mirror the fighting game’s physics. Producer and director Yohei Shimbori didn’t help matters when he used the title’s free-cam mode to show off characters in compromising positions. "The DOA ad that aired on our stream does not reflect the core values of Evo or the FGC. We ended the stream temporarily to protect the integrity of our brand. We sincerely apologize to our fans."

What began as a simple stage show demonstrating the fighting of Dead or Alive 6 veered off the rails as the women on stage modeled in clothing that had been torn up to show their cleavage and bras. While waiting for the demo to be ready, the models hopped up and down to mimic the traditional Dead or Alive breast and butt-bouncing physics. It seems the final straw for the Evo Japan broadcasters, however, was when the Dead or Alive 6 producer showed off the game’s photo mode by pausing an attack while the characters were locked in a pile drive move that, when paused, looked like a sexual embrace.

Discussion

Windows 10 Will Finally Offer Easy Access to Linux Files

Working with Linux files in the Windows environment is comparable to running through a field with landmines, but that will change with Windows 10’s April 2019 Update, which brings support for "accessing, viewing, and even modifying Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) files from File Explorer or via the command line." Users simply have to enter "explorer.exe" into a Bash shell. "Use drag and drop, copy and paste them, or even open them directly in Windows applications to modify them."

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Rather than accessing these files directly, Windows runs a Plan 9 server as part of the WSL software in the background. Windows 10 has "a Windows service and driver that acts as the client and talks to the Plan9 server." That server translates your file operations and handles Linux metadata such as file permissions, ensuring everything works properly even when you access a file with a Windows tool. But that’s just the complicated stuff that happens in the background, and you don’t have to think about it.

Discussion

NASA Wants to Return to the Moon as Early as This Year

Some are calling it a fantasy, but following a partnership with several private spaceflight companies, NASA believes it could return to the lunar surface as early as this year. The goal this time is establishing a settlement and practicing "in-situ resource utilization": that is, "commercial lunar partners will work on how to mine and recycle resources on the moon and make them available for future mission use." Hydrogen and oxygen from extracted water could be used to power rockets, for instance.

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All these commercial endeavors would also need to integrate with NASA’s planned Lunar Gateway. This would be a space station in orbit around the moon that would serve as Grand Central Station for robotic or crewed missions to the lunar surface, or even for deep space missions. NASA hopes to open the Gateway by 2026, with the first power and propulsion elements entering orbit in 2022.

Discussion

Activision Explains Why It Broke Up with Bungie

Activision Blizzard revealed why it was severing ties with Bungie during this week’s conference call: Destiny simply wasn’t making enough money. "Destiny is highly critically acclaimed, high quality content, but it was not meeting our financial expectations," said President and Chief Operating Officer Coddy Johnson. He also said the game was tying up talent, as other developers (e.g., High Moon and Vicarious Visions) were tasked to assist Bungie in pumping out content faster.

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When Activision Blizzard management conducted a financial review for 2019, the company saw signs that indicated Destiny would not be a "material contributor" to the company's profit. Not only that, but Activision Blizzard assigned some of its own studios, including High Moon Studios and Vicarious Visions, to assist Bungie in developing Destiny content faster. "[Bungie was] tying up one of our scarcest resources--developer talent," Johnson said.

Discussion

Razer Shutting Its Digital Game Store This Month, Less than a Year after It Opened

That didn’t last long: Razer has announced its game store would "cease operations on February 28, 2019 at 0100hrs Pacific Time as part of the company’s realignment plans." The store originally opened in April 2018, less than a year ago. Games will still be offered through the company’s virtual credits and loyalty rewards system, Razer Gold and Silver.

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"It has been a privilege for us to recommend and deliver great digital game deals to you," it said. "We have been extremely fortunate to have you as part of our awesome community. Thank you for the support and making all this possible." Razer will still fulfill any pre-orders made through the store, and any games you've already bought will work as long as you retrieve the keys -- either Steam or Uplay -- before February 28.

Discussion

Playing Chicken: Kentucky Fried Intel Core i9-9900KFC Processor Listed

Someone at Intel must be a fan of greasy, artery-clogging fried chicken: a chip called the Core i9-9900KFC has been listed on system-diagnostics app AIDA64. The "K" and "F" would point toward a processor that can be overclocked but lacking integrated graphics. It isn’t clear what the "C" stands for (no, not Colonel Sanders), but AnandTech believes it could involve eDRAM.

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If every letter has a special meaning for a feature in a product, and a product portfolio offers a mix and match of those features, then eventually a combination of letters will end up with a secondary meaning. Today we’re seeing the beginning of the Kentucky Fried version of Intel: in the latest changelog to AIDA64, a well-known utility for system identification and testing, the company behind the software has added in the hooks and details for the Core i9-9900KFC.

Discussion

Saturday February 16, 2019

Rumor: AMD Ryzen 3000 "Matisse" Launching July 7

Paul from Red Gaming Tech claims AMD is launching its next-generation Ryzen 3000 "Matisse" processors and the X570 platform on July 7. Navi may also land on this date, although his source is less certain about the GPU, echoing recent reports of TSMC unable to meet 7nm demand. Intel will counter with Comet Lake parts, but Paul suggests it will be an uphill battle for sure, as AMD has the core count advantage.

I do wonder (as a bit of speculation) if AMD will opt to hold back the 16 core processors initially, both because of yields and also to sandbag and then counter Comet Lake with a 16 core Matisse part. So essentially 12 core Ryzen 3000 will fight the 8 core I9-9900K, with the 10 core Comet Lake having the displeasuring of facing the might of a 16-core Zen 2 Matisse. This is just a possible scenario though, and nothing my source has said, but would be about the worst case for customers (I don’t think AMD will choose to do this though).

Discussion

Star Citizen Developer Calls Real-Time Ray Tracing "A Massive Headache"

Will Star Citizen support ray tracing? The answer is an unsurprising "no." Cloud Imperium developer Ben Parry suggests implementing the technology would be a "massive headache and time sink," as it would break the game in its current form and call for substantial redesign of existing elements. Another problem is visual parity: the team wants the game to look similar even on different configurations, so they would have to develop alternatives to ray-tracing effects for those on lower-ended cards. Most backers agree the team should merely focus on completing the game.

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Parry admitted that he’d love to use real-time ray tracing in order to enhance the game’s shadows. Parry also admitted that real-time ray tracing is currently – and for the foreseeable future – the only technique via which game developers can offer correct reflections in their games, however that’s also something that will need additional workload. "The "headache" part is writing all the management code that will be needed, eg. to calculate lighting/shadowing on objects that aren’t on screen."

Discussion


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