Microsoft shows off how it believes the
cloud will change gaming forever
Company finally provides live demonstration of how offloading computational efforts to the cloud can improve frame-rate.
Microsoft hasn't held back from talking about how offloading computational efforts to the cloud will advance gaming, but now they are finally showing us what that looks like. In short, this system allows developers to offload processing to remote servers, which in theory frees up local hardware to improve things like rendering.
This week during Microsoft's developer-centric Build conference in San Francisco, the company showed off a custom tech demo illustrating the system running on PC hardware. Importantly, what we're seeing here in the video above is not Xbox One footage and the demo is merely a prototype.
Still, as we see in the video, the PC that's not connected to Microsoft's Azure server network seriously struggles when the building begins to collapse. Meanwhile, the connected rig is able to achieve a far more steady frame-rate throughout.
Microsoft says that tapping into the power of the cloud for gaming will allow for "news kinds of experiences that have never been possible."
We're already seeing some of this come to life, as Respawn Entertainment's Xbox One game Titanfall offloads some computational efforts to the cloud. Microsoft released a new video (below) highlighting how the cloud improves the Titanfall experience, though much of what is said is already known.
Valve sells out 10,000 tickets for Dota 2 championship event in an hour
The International 2014 has sold out and tickets are already up for sale on eBay.
Valve has sold all of about 10,000 tickets for its 2014 Dota 2 International Championship, the company has confirmed.
"Tickets were gone roughly one hour after they went on sale", Valve's Doug Lombardi told Rod "Slasher" Breslau at GameSpot sister site onGamers.
Tickets are already popping up on eBay for as much as $500. Key Arena could not confirm if another wave of tickets would be put on sale.
The four-day event will take place starting July 18 at the Key Arena in Seattle. Tickets went on sale Friday April 4 at 15:00 PT, with a four-day ticket going for $99, floor seating $199, and $499 for a VIP ticket.
11 teams will compete in the tournament this year, with four regional qualifiers taking place from May 12 through May 25. Alongside the invited teams, the winner of each regional qualifier will secure a guaranteed place in the finals, and the four runners-up will compete for the final slot in the tournament. Last year, the total prize pool was $2.8 million.
Nvidia announce GeForce GTX Titan Z, brings 12GB
VRAM for $3,000.
Nvidia are currently on-stage at the GPU Technology Conference (think GDC for people who really love cores). They've just announced the GeForce GTX Titan Z, a $3,000 dual-Keplar GPU graphics card that can supercharge PCs with a total of 5,760 processing cores, and 12GB frame buffer memory. To my untrained eye, then, it essentially sounds like two Titan Blacks duct taped together. I'm sure that in practice it's a little bit more complicated.
A press release from Nvidia explains why their dual-GPU solution is such an attractive prospect for super-high def gaming. "Unlike traditional dual-GPU cards, Titan Z’s twin GPUs are tuned to run at the same clock speed, and with dynamic power balancing. So neither GPU creates a performance bottleneck. And that performance is delivered in a card that is cool and quiet, rather than hot and loud. Low-profile components and ducted baseplate channels minimize turbulence and improves acoustic quality."
However they're tuned, it's a serious amount of money. A single GTX Titan can be secured for around $1,000, so you'll be a paying a heavy premium for Nvidia's tweaking. The company say they're building the Titan Z for "next-generation 5K and multi-monitor gaming", so are clearly targeting those prepared to go large in their home rig.
The announcement comes ahead of AMD's own dual-GPU reveal, which is expected to be made later this week.
Ever since GTA 5 came out on the PS3 and Xbox 360, fans of the game have been requesting Rockstar for a PC version of the game. However, the developer hasn't been very kind to the community since it has been rather silent about the issue on a whole.
In response to this, many moddersls have been tweaking parts and elements of GTA 4 for PC so that players on PC can enjoy GTA5-type experiences on their platform.
They have been taking all the best parts of GTA 5 and turning them into mods for GTA 4. While the result is nowhere close to an authentic GTA5 experience, it allows PC gamers to get a taste of the game.
Philips has introduced the 2014 Philips 8800 TV as the first UHD 4K set to feature in-built Android.
The Philips 8800 UHD 4K is part of the Philips 8000 series, which all offer the Philips Ambilight feature and Android.
Within the 2014 8000 series is the top end Ultra HD 4K resolution 8800 series and full HD 8100 and 8200 TVs. These models will be available from Q2 2014 in Europe.
“We innovate our Philips TVs continuously to create a better TV experience,” said Marc Harmsen, Philips’ Global Marketing Lead. “With Ambilight and Android we are able to go beyond the ordinary. It is not about pushing technology to the limits, but about how technology can be used to design a TV that adds genuine value to users’ lives.”
“By combining Android’s strengths with our existing Philips Smart TV offering, we will massively enrich the TV experience and make it smarter”, said Albert Mombarg, Head of Smart TV at Philips.
Philips 2014 range also includes the Smart TV 6009 series, standard TV 4000 and 5000 series, and the film lover-focused 7000 series with a new Ambilight Gaming Mode to make your gaming experience a little more immersive.
Philips 8800 4K TV Features
The Philips 8800 offers a 55-inch 4K Ultra HD 3840 x 2160p LCD display with Ambilight.
It features Active 3D functionality with Premium2D to 3D conversions and auto 3D detection.
To help improve picture quality it uses a 1000Hz Perfect Motion Rate Ultra plus Ultra Resolution for motion sharpness. The 4K TV also features Local Contract and Micro Dimming Pro technology for dynamic LED backlight adjustments.
The first 4K TV to deliver Android, the 8800 can upscale content in real time to UHD resolution via Ultra Resolution.
Like all the TV models within the Philips 8000 series, the 8800 features the Philips Ambilight and a newly integrated Gaming Mode, allowing the lights to quickly respond to fast moving action or sports games.
The 8800 also features an integrated camera to automatically detects you and adjusts the sharpness of the display according to your distance from the TV set. This camera also enables you to control the set using gestures, cursor navigation, typing and talking.
Next Assassin's Creed won't be set in Japan
Ubisoft Toronto boss Jade Raymond rules out samurai historical era, but says franchise is travelling to her favorite time period for next installment; but where is that?
Assassin's Creed 5, or whatever Ubisoft ends up calling the next Assassin's Creed title, will not be set in Japan. Ubisoft Toronto boss Jade Raymond made the revelation in a newAdWeek profile. She did, however, say that an Assassin's Creed title set in the samurai age of Japan would be an interesting idea all the same.
If not feudal Japan, then during which time period will this year's Assassin's Creed game be set? Raymond is keeping that to herself for now, but she teased that the game's setting is her favorite historical era. Ubisoft has yet to formally announce 2014's Assassin's Creed title, though the franchise has seen a new release in the core series every year since 2009.
The Assassin's Creed series has been able to jump to different time periods thanks to the Animus. The fictional virtual reality machine from the Assassin's Creed franchise has virtually transported players to destinations like the Renaissance (Assassin's Creed II), the American Revolution (Assassin's Creed III), and the Golden Age of Piracy (Assassin's Creed IV).
The most requested Assassin's Creed settings, according to Ubisoft, are World War II, feudal Japan, and Ancient Egypt. The publisher is also reportedly interested in a future entry set during the British Raj (colonial India), the setting of new comic Assassin's Creed: Brahman.
A report from December claimed that Ubisoft is planning to release two Assassin's Creed titles in 2014, one of which will come to Xbox 360/PlayStation 3, while the other would launch for Xbox One/PlayStation 4. It's not clear where Wii U or PC fit into that mix. That report also suggested that the Assassin's Creed franchise itself is undergoing a "massive re-scope."
Though Ubisoft has not formally commented on the follow-up to Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, lead designer of that game Jean-Sebastien Decant said in November that the next games in the series will be "much more next-gen." Black Flag, the first entry in the series for the Xbox One and PS4, was "on the edge" because when Ubisoft started development, it had no idea what the system specifications for those platforms would be, Decant said.
Also in that November 2013 interview, Decant teased that the next entry in the Assassin's Creed series may introduce the next evolution of social features.
"I think we're going toward a gaming place where the open world will be shared with other players," he said. "More and more. Socially speaking, but also maybe multiplayer stuff. And we will have to consider the open-world much more like a platform that we could sustain for years."
Nvidia's Upgraded Tegra Note 7 To Expand Its Presence In Mobile Computing
Earlier this week, Nvidia updated its Tegra Note 7 tablet platform with new features and capabilities. The company introduced the Tegra Note, a reference platform for Android based tablets in September this year with Tegra Zone gaming, stylus support, front facing speakers offering the widest frequency range in a tablet, a camera with 100-frame-per-second slow motion recording and up to 10 hours of battery life while playing HD video. Powered by the Tegra 4 processor, the company claims that the device will be the world’s fastest 7-inch tablet.
Our price estimate of $16.42 for Nvidia is almost in line with the current market price.
Tegra Note Update
With the recent update, Tegra Note now supports the Android 4.3 Operating System and offers the always on HDR feature, which enables users to snap a real-time HDR shot without waiting several seconds for the camera to process it. Additionally, the tablet now provides: 1) an enhanced stylus experience (adding support for left-handed users) and improvements in overall response; 2) DirectStylus enhancements; 3) video stabilization; and, 4) the ability to move applications and data files from internal memory to an external microSD card. Nvidia promises that Tegra Note will have all the additional features in the same price range (starting $199).
Unlike its gaming device Shield, Nvidia does not build and sell the Tegra Note directly. Though the platform is designed by Nvidia, its partners have the opportunity to further build on the reference design and sell the final product in the market under their own brand.
Tegra Revenue Declines in 2013
Having seen its Tegra processor revenue climb by approximately 200% and 30% in 2011 and 2012 respectively, Nvidia anticipates the same to decline by $200 – $300 million this year. Much of the decline can be attributed to the ramp down of Tegra 3 products and the company’s conscious decision to delay the launch of Tegra 4 by one quarter, in order to pull up the production of Tegra 4i chips.
Tegra 4 is the world’s first quad-core processor based on Cortex A15 and while the delay in its launch will impact its short term growth, we believe it will be an important factor in expanding Nvidia’s presence in the mobile computing space. Nvidia has already received Tegra 4 orders for Xiaomi Mi3, Microsoft’s second-generation Surface RT, as well as Asustek, Toshiba and HP tablets.
Tablet shipments are estimated to grow by 78.9% between 2013 – 2017, increasing from 227 million units to 407 million units by 2017. Research firm IDC expects lower-cost devices to drive global demand.
Tegra Revenues to Reach $1 Billion in Long Run
Nvidia lost out on Google’s second generation Nexus 7 tablet to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro and faces competition from the iPad Mini. Nevertheless, since the tablet market is expanding at a rapid pace we believe that Nvidia will manage to expand its footprint in the market. With Tegra 4, in addition to mobile and tablets, the company aims to expand its reach to other large markets where visual computing matters, such as auto navigation systems, TV set top boxes and new desktop form factors like all-in-one and smart monitors.
Snowden’s files show billions of pieces of phone & internet data plucked
Among the BRICS group of emerging nations, which featured quite high on the list of countries targeted by the secret surveillance programs of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) for collecting telephone data and internet records, India was the number one target of snooping by the American agency.
In the overall list of countries spied on by NSA programs, India stands at fifth place, with billions of pieces of information plucked from its telephone and internet networks just in 30 days.
According to top-secret documents provided to The Hindu by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the American agency carried out intelligence gathering activities in India using at least two major programs: the first one is Boundless Informant, a data-mining system which keeps track of how many calls and emails are collected by the security agency; and the second one is PRISM, a program which intercepts and collects actual content from the networks. While Boundless Informant was used for monitoring telephone calls and access to the internet in India, PRISM collected information about certain specific issues — not related to terrorism — through Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple, YouTube and several other web-based services.
Asked by The Hindu why a friendly country like India was subjected to so much surveillance by the U.S., a spokesman of the U.S. government’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence said: “The U.S. government will respond through diplomatic channels to our partners and allies. While we are not going to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity, as a matter of policy we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations. We value our cooperation with all countries on issues of mutual concern.”The DNI spokesman chose not to respond to questions about how the NSA managed to pick so much data from India — 13.5 billion pieces of information in just one month — especially from its telephone networks, and about whether it had received the cooperation of Indian telecom companies.
Though top Indian officials have been rather dismissive of the disclosures, with Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid even defending the U.S. surveillance program by saying that “it is not… actually snooping,” the NSA documents obtained by The Hindu show that Boundless Informant not only keeps track of emails and calls collected by the NSA, it is also used by the agency to give its managers summaries of the intelligence it gathers worldwide, thus making it the foundation of the global surveillance programs created by the world’s biggest and most secretive intelligence agency.
This SIGINT (signal intelligence) system collects electronic surveillance program records or internet data (DNI) and telephone call metadata records (DNR), which is all stored in an NSA archive called GM-PLACE.
Boundless Informant summarises data records from 504 separate DNR and DNI collection sources called SIGADs, the documents show.
Collection of metadata is serious business. Several Information Technology experts The Hindu spoke to said a detailed account of an individual’s private and professional life can be constructed from metadata, which is actually the record of phone number of every caller and recipient; the unique serial number of the phones involved; the time and duration of each phone call; and potentially the location of each caller and recipient at the time of the call. The same applies to e-mails and other Internet activities of an individual. The high volume of metadata taken from India — 6.2 billion in just one month — means that the U.S. agency collected information on millions of calls, messages and emails every day within India, or between India and a foreign country.
The information collected is part of a bigger surveillance system.
According to a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) memo, an “Unclassified” and “For Official Use Only” document which has been obtained by The Hindu, Boundless Informant is a tool of the NSA’s Global Access Operations (GAO), whose motto is “The Mission Never Sleeps,” for a self-documenting SIGINT system. The tool, says the FAQs memo, “provides the ability to dynamically describe GAO’s collection capabilities (through metadata record counts) with no human intervention and graphically display the information in a map view, bar chart, or simple table”. The memo even describes how “by extracting information from every DNI and DNR metadata record, the tool is able to create a near real-time snapshot of GAO’s collection capability at any given moment.”
It’s the maps, which provide snapshots of the Boundless Informant data that actually show how intensely India was targeted by the NSA. As per one “global heat map” seen by The Hindu, just in March 2013, the U.S. agency collected 6.3 billion pieces of information from the Internet network in India. Another NSA heat map shows that the American agency collected 6.2 billion pieces of information from the country’s telephone networks during the same period.
Three “global heat maps,” which give each country a colour code based on how extensively it was subjected to NSA surveillance, clearly show that India was one of the hottest targets for U.S. intelligence. With the colour scheme ranging from green (least subjected to surveillance) through yellow and orange to red (most surveillance), the heat maps show India in the shades of deep orange and red even as fellow BRICS nations like Brazil, Russia and China — all monitored extensively — sit in green or yellow zones.
In the first heat map, showing the aggregate of data tracked by Boundless Informant in March 2013, with 14 billion reports, Iran was the country where the largest amount of intelligence was gathered. It’s followed by 13.5 billion from Pakistan. Jordan came third with 12.7 billion, Egypt fourth with 7.6 billion, and India fifth with 6.3 billion.
In the heat map that gives the overview of internet surveillance (DNI), with 6.3 billion pieces of intelligence taken from its networks, India is placed between Iran and Pakistan (both red) and China and the U.S. (both light orange). Both Brazil and Russia are coded in light green in this map, while China is shown in light orange.
In the third heat map, depicting collection of telephone records (DNR), India is shown in deep orange, with 6.2 billion pieces of information plucked from its telephone networks. In the case of DNR collection, India is the only BRICS country to share the same colour as the other highly-monitored countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Venezuela; the other four emerging nations are in the green zone in this map.
Though India raised the issue of NSA surveillance when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited New Delhi on June 24 to take part in the India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue, New Delhi seemed to have bought the official American version of the story. “We had an issue, which was discussed when Secretary Kerry was in India,” Mr. Khurshid had said on July 2. “He [Mr. Kerry] made a very clear explanation that no content has been sought or received of any email… So, I think as far as we are concerned, there is no issue today,” the Indian minister had said.
It’s true that Boundless Informant doesn’t intercept content, but the top-secret documents obtained by The Hindu show that this internal NSA tool focusses on counting and categorising the telephone calls and Internet records as well as on storing and retrieving it, which could give intelligence-gathering agents the records of calls and message times, identities, addresses and other information needed to track people or pick content.
Because this metadata is machine-readable, and therefore searchable, it makes intensive surveillance possible as the record of a person’s email logs, phone records and clickstream — all the websites visited ever — are available to NSA agents, without a warrant or court order. Citizen’s rights groups see it as a serious violation of people’s privacy and personal data. “By accessing metadata, you can learn an awful lot about an individual. With mobile phones, location data has now been added to metadata. With the Internet, you can in addition understand someone’s location in a social network in much more detail, as well as understand how that network relates to other networks. If you put all of this together, you get quite a detailed map of someone’s movements, who they hang out and what drives their lives,” said Anja Kovacs, project director at Internet Democracy Project, a New Delhi-based group working for online freedom of speech.
In a recent example of how metadata can be misused by the government, a couple of Associated Press reporters were subpoenaed by the U.S. Justice Department in a case involving a national security issue. The journalists were sent notices after the department procured the details of their calls with their sources, sparking a conflict between the media and the White House over press freedom.
NVIDIA reveals the GTX 780 Ti, a new 'high-end enthusiast' GPU !!
NVIDIA's news day apparently isn't over just yet, as the company just revealed a new graphics card: the NVIDIA GTX 780 Ti. It's apparently hitting retail shelves this November, and it's just one step below the company's super high-end GPU, the Titan. CEO Jen-Hsun Huang didn't offer many specifics on the new graphics card, instead choosing to leave it to reviewers who are apparently receiving units any day now. We're gonna go ahead and call it safe to assume that this is a pretty powerful little card, but we'll get some hands-on time in the coming hours with any luck!
Watch Dogs, The Crew Delay Results in Ubisoft Shares Falling.
Ubisoft tells IGN, "Our long-term goal is to win the next generation. The tough decisions we took to fully realize the major potential of our new creations have an impact on our short-term performance but we are convinced that, longer term, they will prove to be the right decisions both in terms of satisfaction for our fans and in terms of value creation for our shareholders. We are building franchises that will become perennial pillars of Ubisoft’s financial performance."
Ubisoft's shares fell as high as 32% in the wake of the delay of Watch Dogs and The Crew. This represents the biggest drop in the company's history. The anticipation,Business Week reports, is an operating loss of at least $54 million by March 2014.
When Watch Dogs releases next year -- some time between April and June -- Ubisoft expects to sell more than 6 million copies. This year, both Rayman Legends and Splinter Cell: Blacklist sold fewer units than anticipated.
NO NEW COMMENTS HAD BEEN MADE BY UBISOFT ON THIS MATTER.
LONDON: Video games developer and publisher Valve has reportedly announced SteamOS, which is expected to bring PC gaming into the living room and potentially disrupt the gaming market dominated by PlayStation, Xbox and Wii.
The OS code will be made freely available for manufacturers who want to launch their own gaming hardware and the company is anticipated to launch its own machine to run on the OS, believed to be called the Stream Box.
According to the BBC, Valve has outlined its plans for the Linux-based operating system that will be available for download soon.
Computer and Video Games' associate editor Rob Crossley said that Valve is a very successful growing company within a market that is shrinking as the PC sales are falling but Valve knows that it needs to provide the same services on different devices, and the living room is the best next step for them.
Valve's co-founder, Gabe Newell in his speech last week envisioned an environment where gaming moves with the user, whether they are playing at their PC, in their living room or on the move.
He had said that the fragmentation around the physical location or around the input devices in terms of computation is not necessary or desirable for software developers or consumers, hinting towards the 'games on the move' approach.
The new Microsoft Corp. CEO could be announced in the next two months. Bloomberg cites sources saying Microsoft Corp.'s board of directors is aiming to have a successor to outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer in place by the end of the year.
The board is said to be narrowing its choices for executives to replace Ballmer as the company continues to assess candidates through preliminary interviews. The report claims that eBay CEO John Donahoe said he did not want to be considered for the position.
Microsoft has reportedly discussed the position with Ford CEO Alan Mulally, former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop (who will officially join Microsoft when its $7.2 billion buyout closes), as well as former Microsoft executive Paul Maritz and current Microsoft EVP Tony Bates.
The sources said the specific timing of the new CEO announcement is dependent on negotiations surrounding compensation and, for an outside candidate, logistics involving leaving their current company.
Ballmer announced his retirement in August, saying at the time that he would officially step down within a year, but not before his successor was named.
Microsoft's board of directors has established a special committee to direct the selection process for Ballmer's successor. This committee is chaired by the board's lead independent director, John Thompson, as well as chairman of the board Bill Gates, among others.