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

[H]ard News

Sunday February 17, 2019

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

Samsung Quits Blu-ray Player Market

Another blow for physical media: Samsung has announced it won’t be bringing any new 1080p or 4K Blu-ray players to the US market. The reason is supposedly related to technical oversights and/or market share vs. competitors, but streaming could very well be a factor. "The latest disc sales stats for the US show 4K Blu-rays accounting for just 5.3% of sales, while DVD - yes, DVD - still claims 57.9%."

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Samsung launched its last 4K players in 2017 and didn't add any new models to its lineup in 2018. A high-end 4K player for 2019 along the lines of its UBD-M9500 was in the works, a Forbes report says, but has now been scrapped. One of the reasons for pulling out could be that the existing 4K players' format support has lagged behind the rest of the industry. For example, instead of supporting Dolby Vision, Samsung created its own version of HDR10, called HDR10+, which was designed for use in streaming and physical media.

Discussion

Plans for First Chinese Solar Power Station in Space Revealed

The Chinese are reportedly working on experimental solar power stations that would be launched into space to generate electricity. Planned for launch as early as 2021, they will provide "an inexhaustible source of clean energy for humans," reliably supplying energy "99 percent of the time, at six-times the intensity of solar farms on earth." The final plan is a Megawatt-level space solar power station for 2030.

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Pang said technical challenges to be overcome include the weight of a power station, expected to be 1000 tonnes, greater than 400 tonnes of the International Space Station. Researchers are examining whether a space factory using robots and 3D printing technology could construct the power station in space, avoiding the need to launch a heavy structure from earth. Solar energy would be converted to electricity and a microwave or laser beam would transmit the energy to earth.

Discussion

"Conviction": District 9's Neill Blomkamp Releases Live-Action Anthem Prequel Trailer

EA and BioWare have partnered with Neill Blomkamp and Oats Studios (his experimental short-film company) to promote Anthem, which is now available for select EA or Origin Access subscribers. "Conviction" is a prequel that sees hub-world Fort Tarsis and the game’s signature Javelins brought to life through Blomkamp’s expert blending of CG with live-action sequences.

"I was really blown away by this incredible world BioWare created the very first time I saw Anthem," said Blomkamp. "Conviction sets the stage with a narrative that touches on Anthem’s beautiful and immersive world, which is ripe for exploration by these powerful Javelins. A world where danger is lurking on every ledge and in each valley."

Discussion

The Division 2 Ditching Steam Is "A Long-Term Positive," Says Ubisoft

Recent comments by CEO Yves Guillemot suggest Ubisoft is on its way to dumping Steam for good: after the company moved The Division 2 to the Epic Games Store, pre-orders of the sequel increased six-fold compared to its predecessor on Uplay. The implication is that Steam’s absence has boosted the popularity of the company’s own game store, which is certainly welcome news for Ubisoft.

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"With this deal, we saw an opportunity to increase player exposure to our own store while at the same time supporting a partner that greatly values our games and provides better terms," he claimed on yesterday’s earnings call. "Early indications are supportive, as PC pre-orders are higher than for the first Division, and pre-orders on the Ubisoft store are six times higher. We believe this deal is a long-term positive for Ubisoft."

Discussion

Visa, Mastercard Mull Increasing Fees for Processing Transactions

More, more, more: The Wall Street Journal has learned that card-network giants Visa and Mastercard plan to increase both "interchange" and processing fees (alternate source sans paywall), which is bad news for both merchants and consumers. The former is what merchants pay banks for the privilege of running credit cards, which is typically offset by increasing the pricing of goods and services. Naturally, an increase on one end will prompt another.

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Merchants often increase the prices consumers pay following such fee increases, in an attempt to protect their own profits. Roughly 1% to 2.5% of prices for goods and services go to cover card fees, according to people familiar with merchant pricing. Consumers often pay for those fees whether they pay with cash or card. While big in the aggregate -- merchants pay tens of billions of dollars in card fees annually -- per-transaction changes are often minuscule and so go largely unnoticed by consumers.

Discussion

"I Don't Want Your Respect": NetherRealm Responds to Mortal Kombat "Going Woke"

There is a growing subset of Mortal Kombat fans who aren’t pleased with the artistic direction in which NetherRealm Studios is taking series. Specifically, they allege the female roster has had their "sex appeal" taken away, a controversy that was reignited this week after NetherRealm revealed a ghastly looking, covered-up Jade. NetherRealm’s community manager has punched back against one fan who called it "disgusting" and how the developer should make the girls "sexy" in order to earn his "money and respect," calling such comments "truly awful." Even female gamers are beginning to agree the characters have been "censored," however.

@Draka_: For a "community manager" you don't seem to get how this thing called "community" works and how ridiculously godawful your communications skills are. If you start acting butthurt bc of one negative comment, you ain't exactly helpful to the "community" or the company you represent. @laope_: Gore = Core Values, CG tiddies = TOO OFFENSIVE! @irxson: You don't want your customers respect? I'm less inclined to buy the game now. Of course I will wait and see but I have to agree, Character designs are bad and I loved the older designs, my favorites being from MK9. It is sad to see the team is not going to consider our feedback.

Discussion

AMD Dismisses NVIDIA's DLSS for Its "Image Artifacts" and "Harsh Scaling"

AMD doesn’t seem all that impressed with NVIDIA’s deep-learning supersampling (DLSS) technique: despite earlier reports suggesting the company was developing a DLSS alternative built on Microsoft’s DirectML API, representatives now say AMD is "doubling down on SMAA and TAA," which they claim don’t come with "the image artifacts caused by the upscaling and harsh sharpening of DLSS."

While AMD isn’t actively pursuing DLSS-like technologies right now, that isn’t to say it’s not possible something similar will be rolled out using WindowsML or DirectML to create an open source version of DLSS. Using machine learning to enhance the visuals and the performance of games on Radeon GPUs in the future is therefore still a possibility. Just hopefully without that "harsh sharpening," eh?

Discussion

This Website Uses AI to Generate the Faces of People Who Don't Exist

Will the real-life version of Skynet model its Terminators after real people? That’s up in the air, as currently existing AI is already capable of crafting convincing faces all on its own. Software developer Philip Wang has launched a website called thispersondoesnotexist that proves this, allowing visitors to generate incredibly convincing but falsified human heads on every page refresh with the help of a powerful GPU and NVIDIA machine learning code. "I have it dream up a random face every two seconds, and display that to the world in a scalable fashion," Wang says. "Nothing fancy."

The website uses an implementation of machine learning known as Generative Adversarial Networks, or GANs. These programs "learn" from a large number of training inputs -- say, real human faces -- in order to produce new examples. Thispersondoesnotexist.com uses code previously released by Nvidia researchers on GitHub. "Most people do not understand how good AIs will be at synthesizing images in the future," website creator and software developer Philip Wang told me in an email.

Discussion

BioWare: "We're Definitely Not Done with Mass Effect"

Mass Effect: Andromeda may have dealt the franchise a damaging blow, but BioWare general manager Casey Hudson is confident the series is far from finished. Speaking with Polygon in a studio profile, Hudson, who directed the originals, said Mass Effect was "very much alive": "I’m thinking all the time about things that I think will be great. It’s just a matter of getting back to it as soon as we can." He was joined by Anthem executive producer Mike Darrah, who shared similar thoughts.

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"We’re definitely not done with Mass Effect," says Darrah. "There’s a lot of stories to be told. We could pull on the threads we put down with Andromeda; we could pull on threads from Mass Effect 3. There’s a lot of interesting space to be explored." The report suggests that the Frostbite engine may have been partly responsible for BioWare's Andromeda struggles. RPG systems had to be constructed from scratch to support the kind of story-driven game BioWare is famous for. The studio has since invested in advanced performance capture technology for Anthem.

Discussion

Russia to Disconnect from the Internet as Part of a Planned Test

In order to test how the country would fare against "foreign aggression to disconnect the country from the rest of the internet," Russia will soon undergo an experiment that temporarily separates it from the global internet and isolates all information to Runet, the country’s own internet space. The trial involves the re-routing of all Russian internet traffic by domestic firms to exchange points approved by telecom watchdog Roskomnazor, ensuring traffic stays between Russian users and is not "re-routed uselessly through servers abroad, where it could be intercepted." Critics fear Russia's actual intention is the creation of a "Great Firewall" for cracking down on freedom of information.

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The Russian government has been working on this project for years. In 2017, Russian officials said they plan to route 95 percent of all internet traffic locally by 2020. Authorities have even built a local backup of the Domain Name System (DNS), which they first tested in 2014, and again in 2018, and which will now be a major component of the Runet when ISPs plan to disconnect the country from the rest of the world. Russia's response comes as NATO countries announced several times that they were mulling a stronger response to cyber attacks, of which Russia is constantly accused of carrying out.

Discussion

Friday February 15, 2019

Facebook Faces a Multi-Billion Dollar Fine for Its Privacy Practices

According to a report from the Washington Post, Facebook is negotiating with the FCC over a multi-billion dollar fine for its privacy issues and practices. The fine is expected to be the largest ever levied against a tech company. In 2011, the FTC and Facebook reached a deal to improve the company's privacy practices. The FCC is arguing that the Cambridge Analytica scandal and more recent privacy snafus have breached that agreement. The FTC agreement required Facebook to be more transparent and notify users before it shares their data with third party entities. Facebook can accept the fine or fight it in court. If it takes its fight to court and loses, the social media giant could face even steeper fines. This FCC action could usher in a new age of scrutiny and monitoring for Silicon Valley companies in the future.

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"Facebook faces a moment of reckoning and the only way it will come is through an FTC order with severe penalties and other sanctions that stop this kind of privacy misconduct going forward," said Sen Richard Blumenthal (Conn.). "They're hemorrhaging users, they're hemorrhaging trust, and I think this would only exacerbate the problem," said Justin Brookman, the director of consumer privacy and technology policy for Consumer Reports.

Discussion

Metro Exodus Settings and APIs Tested

Metro Exodus is out today, and reviewers are largely praising it a solid single-player shooter, while some Twitch streamers are frustrated by the game's performance. Gamer's Nexus already took a close look at the game's RTX settings and their visual impact, but raytracing isn't the only option players can turn on and off on the PC. Mirroring our own API testing in Battlefield V, Gamer's Nexus took a look at the performance differences between the DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 APIs, as well as the various performance presets the game offers. Critically, they also compared the in-game benchmark to real world gameplay performance. As we've noted in previous articles, canned benchmarks don't necessarily represent the experience users will get when they actually play the game.

Metro: Exodus RTX benchmarks are now here. In this one, we benchmark RTX on the 2080 Ti, 2080, 2070, and 2060, along with tests of built-in benchmarks vs. gameplay. This testing looks at Metro: Exodus with RTX in various states -- on/off, high/ultra -- and also looks at non-RTX graphics scaling in the game. Our benchmarks show the change in performance from low to extreme settings, for DX11 vs. DX12, and more. Interestingly, the usability of the built-in benchmark is one of the more philosophical topics in the content, as we talk about when it would be (or wouldn't be) a useful tool for performance testing.

Discussion

Suspected Drone Activity Disrupts Dubai Airport

The New York Times reports that "suspected drone activity" shut down Dubai International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world, between 10:13 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Reuters mentioned that there are "severe penalties in the United Arab Emirates for unauthorized drone activity," while the Times claims that their regulations aren't really open to interpretation either. Alleged drone sightings previously shut down Gatwick Airport and Newark Airport. Media reports suggest that incoming flights were still allowed to land at Dubai during the disruption, and while Gatwick in particular was shut down for a longer period, Dubai serves even more passengers than Gatwick does. Drone manufacturers and regulatory bodies are supposedly working on measures that could curb these disruptions, like identification systems or drone classification standards, but those will take some time to roll out.

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Government regulations in Dubai are fairly unambiguous about flying drones in areas where there might be significant air traffic: It is forbidden "near, around and over airports," and users must obtain a certificate from the General Civil Aviation Authority in the United Arab Emirates... "Dubai Airports has worked closely with the appropriate authorities to ensure that the safety of airport operations is maintained at all times and to minimize any inconvenience to our customers," the airport said.

Discussion

Some 1660 TI Models Could Have 3GB of VRAM

As the 1660 TI launch nears, more and more designs from various manufacturers are starting to pop up around the web. Videocardz posted designs from MSI, Asus, Galax, Palit, and EVGA, and they even managed to get a die shot of what they claim to be the TU116 GPU, as well as a shot of the MSI Geforce 1660 TI Ventus Xt's PCB. On top of the pictures, Videocardz spotted yet another potential leak from the Eurasion Economic Commission's website. This one in particular suggest that Asus could lanch several 1660 TI SKUs with 3GB of memory instead of 6GB.

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The 6GB variant may be exclusive to ROG STRIX series though, as there is no such product with 3GB memory listed. ASUS will launch DUAL, Expedition, Phoenix, TUF (the new series), Turbo and ROG STRIX series of GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics. Models are as always divided into Advanced, OC and non-OC variants (which basically feature different clock speeds). The GTX 1660 Ti graphics cards will be announced on February 22nd. We expect a large list of custom models to be available at launch as GTX 1660 Ti basically replaces GTX 1060, the most popular SKU in NVIDIA offer.

Update 2/15/2019: HardOCP's sources have confirmed that the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 TI will launch on February 22nd for $279. Additionally, the GTX 1660 currently set to launch on March 14th for $229, but as we mentioned before, precise launch dates and prices aren't necessarily set in stone this far away from release. We also heard that the 1660 could end up being a rebrand of the Pascal-based Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, but we can't confirm that rumor yet.

Discussion


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