Viewing 3D content without glasses or goggles has proved to be one of the toughest things for interface designers to achieve—it never really looks right. At this year’s SIGGRAPH, a group of researchers presented a display that creates a 3D human in stunning detail using a cluster of 216 projectors.
Saturday, August 15, 2015
Since the rise of 3D graphics cards, the inexorable trend in PC gaming has been around getting bigger, better and faster. That led to a culture of PC gamers obsessing over frame rates and doing whatever it took to push their hardware as much as possible. But now that even relatively affordable graphics cards can hit a silky smooth 60 fps at 1080p, there's only one big mountain left to climb: 4K gaming. And that's exactly what a powerhouse card like AMD's new Radeon R9 Fury X ($650) is poised to tackle. The only problem? 4K gaming still isn't worth your time and money.Slideshow-312778
The Radeon R9 Fury X is the sort of thing that's built expressly to make PC gamers salivate. While the card itself is relatively minimalist with a jet-black design, once it's turned on you get a blingy glowing "Radeon" logo and LEDs that show off how hard the GPU is working. But, most impressively, the card also has an external water cooler attached, which takes the place of a rear fan in your computer case. It's not the first video card to ship with water cooling, but it's an impressive setup nonetheless (although it will make installing the card a bit more complex). It's also worth noting that the R9 Fury X's direct competitor, NVIDIA's GTX 980 Ti, ships with air cooling. That's a sign of much more power-efficient hardware. (I would have liked to compare the two cards directly, but I'm still waiting on review hardware from NVIDIA.)
While the R9 Fury X can achieve speeds of up to 1050MHz out of the box, its water cooling setup could lead to some decent overclocking potential down the line. I didn't want to risk harming my loaner card from AMD, but initial overclocking attempts by AnandTech led to modest (75Hz) gains. With some more tweaking, though -- especially going beyond the limits AMD implements in its desktop software -- I wouldn't be surprised if you could reach higher speeds. Then again, given how fast the card is already (it also packs in 4GB of "high-bandwidth memory" RAM), you might not want to bother with the whole mess of overclocking.
On my gaming rig -- which consists of a 4GHz Core i7-4790K CPU, 16GB of 2400Mz DDR3 RAM and a 512GB Crucial MX100 SSD on a ASUS Z97-A motherboard -- the R9 Fury X didn't break a sweat when gaming in 1080p with every setting on high. No surprise there (and if that's all you're looking for, consider the plethora of sub-$300 cards out there). But once I started testing out games in 4K (with a Samsung UE590 monitor loaned by AMD), the card truly started to shine. Both The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Batman: Arkham Knight got around 35 fps on average with high-quality settings, and while that might not sound like much, the fact that they're both beyond 30 fps is a decent show of progress from last year's cards. It means you can actually play those games in 4K without any noticeable stuttering.
But enough of the numbers: How do games look in 4K? For the most part, pretty darn great. For The Witcher 3, in particular, I was able to make out even finer detail in character models, their clothing and the overall environment. But I also quickly realized that minor bump in fidelity wasn't worth the drop from the 1080p 60 fps I was used to, which looks a lot smoother. Moving The Witcher's Geralt of Rivia around the game's incredibly detailed environments was less jerky and more life-like than in 4K. Basically, It's hard to get used to lower frame rates when 60 fps was the ideal I was striving toward for years. There were also occasions where games dipped below 30 fps, which was hard to stomach on a $650 video card. [Check out 4K screenshots from The Witcher 3 here.]
On a broader level, 4K isn't really worth the investment for most PC owners; 4K monitors are still relatively expensive, starting at around $400 to $500 for 27-inch models (1080p screens are around half that), and their panels typically aren't as high-quality as lower resolution screens. Some 4K monitors only offer 30Hz refresh rates, which limits your gaming to 30 fps and leaves little room for graphics upgrades down the line. (The monitor I'm using advertises 60Hz 4K, but I've been unable to reach that with multiple cables.) And, perhaps most damning, Windows 7 and 8 still isn't well-suited to 4K screens. You'd have to upgrade to Windows 10, which offers much better high-resolution scaling, for a decent 4K experience.
I found that gaming at a 2,560 x 1,440 (WQHD) resolution was the best compromise between fidelity and frame rate. It's sharper than 1080p (which runs at 1,920 by 1,080), and the R9 Fury X was able to reach 60 fps in that resolution easily. You'll still pay a premium for WQHD displays, but models like the Dell UltraSharp U2715H (which our friends at The Wirecutter recommend as the best 27-inch monitor) sport high-quality IPS panels, so they'll look a lot better than many 4K monitors. Plus, 2,560 x 1,440 on a 27-inch monitor is also a usable resolution for desktop work -- no microscope required.
At this point, 4K gaming feels like the worst aspects of PC gaming: expensive and counterintuitive, with radically diminishing returns. It's a badge of honor if you have a system that can actually play games in 4K, and nothing more. It could eventually become commonplace for gaming, especially as VR headsets demand more pixels, but for now you'd be better off trying to get the highest frame rate you can with a lower resolution.
Tags: 4K, amd, ArkhamKnight, engadgetirl, hdpostcross, irl, R9FuryX, TheWitcher3, videocards
Posted by Augustine at 9:08 AM
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Darwin probably didn’t expect basic principles of evolution to apply to machines, but here we are: Researchers have created a “mom” robot that independently reproduces “children,” passing beneficial features along to the next generation.
Posted by Augustine at 6:06 AM
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Think that Samsung's 2TB solid-state drives are pretty capacious? They're just the start of something bigger. The Korean tech giant has started manufacturing the first 256-gigabit (32GB) 3D vertical flash memory, doubling its previous capacity record. The new tech should turn multi-terabyte SSDs into practical options for your home PC, and help phone makers cram more storage into tight spaces. You might get more bang for your buck, to boot -- Samsung's manufacturing is 40 percent more productive, so you likely won't pay twice as much for twice the headroom. The company plans to make this 256-gigabit flash through the rest of 2015, so you'll probably see it crop up in a lot of products (from Samsung and otherwise) over the months ahead.
Source: Samsung Tomorrow
Tags: flash, samsung, ssd, storage, v-nand, vnand
Posted by Augustine at 7:08 AM
Monday, August 10, 2015
Chalk up one more big Android phone maker racing to patch its devices against that nasty Stagefright video security flaw. Motorola has explained that it will not only fix the vulnerability in phones from 2013 onward (such as the original Moto X and the Droid line), but make sure that its latest hardware is secure almost from the word go. Both the Moto X Style and Moto X Play will be secure on launch, while the recently-shipped third-generation Moto G is getting its update "soon."The company doesn't say whether or not it's hopping on the monthly security patch bandwagon. However, it does add that it's working with Google and carriers to "simplify the process" of getting that code into your hands going forward. Between this and expected fixes for phones from Google, HTC, LG, Blackphone creator SGP and and Sony, you probably won't have to worry if you're carrying a recent or reasonably well-known device. The real question is whether or not other brands and older (or lower-end) hardware will get the same kind of attention -- you don't want to remain at risk simply because you bought the 'wrong' model.
Tags: android, droidmaxx, droidmini, droidturbo, droidultra, lenovo, mms, mobilepostcross, motog, motox, motoxplay, motoxstyle, patch, security, stagefright, update
Posted by Augustine at 7:21 AM
If you have an old, Intel-based computer hanging around, you might want to get rid of it post-haste. Security researcher Chris Domas has discovered a vulnerability in the x86 architecture of Intel processors made between 1997 and 2010 (pre-Sandy Bridge) that lets an attacker install software in a chip's protected System Management Mode space, which governs firmware-level security. Yes, that's as bad as it sounds: an intruder could not only take more control than you typically see in attacks (including wiping firmware), but infect your PC even if you wipe your hard drive and reinstall your operating system. Domas has only tested against Intel-made CPUs so far, but AMD processors could be vulnerable as well.A would-be hacker needs low-level OS access to get in, so you at least won't face a direct assault -- you need to fall prey to another attack before this becomes an option. However, this vulnerability might be difficult or impossible to fix in a timely fashion. While it's theoretically possible to patch a computer's BIOS (or on relatively recent systems, UEFI) to prevent these attacks, the chances of that happening are slim. What's the likelihood that your motherboard maker will support a product that's at least 5 years old, or that most people are both willing and able to apply firmware upgrades? Not very high, we'd reckon. Although the inexorable march of time will eventually take care of this flaw, the only surefire solution is to upgrade your computer.
Tags: core, cpu, intel, memorysinkhole, nehalem, pentium, processor, security
Posted by Augustine at 7:21 AM