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Classic Games (Games)

Sega Announces Two New Sonic Games That Seek To Recapture The Glory Days (gamespot.com) 26

An anonymous reader writes: In celebration of Sonic the Hedgehog's 25th anniversary, Sega has announced two new Sonic games at Comic-Con in San Diego. The first game is called Sonic Mania and it's a 2D platformer that features visuals and gameplay reminiscent of the classic Genesis games. "It revamps zones and acts from Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic CD, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Sonic and Knuckles, in addition to introducing new ones into the fold," writes Mat Paget from GameSpot. The second game has no title [besides "Project Sonic 2017"], but it does have a holiday 2017 release date for PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo NX consoles. It reportedly features both classic and modern versions of Sonic, similar to 2011's Sonic Generations. Sega made two additional announcements. "Mobile game Sonic Dash has passed 200 million downloads and will receive a special in-game event that adds the Green Hill Zone and Classic Sonic as a playable character," reports GameSpot. "The event only lasts a week, but players can unlock both the classic level and character for use after the event." The second additional announcement is that the animated Sonic Boom series will be renewed for a second season. "Sonic Mania was born out of our fans' love of the classic Sonic 2D platform games,â said Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka. "This type of collaboration is a first for Sega and we hope everyone will be both surprised and delighted by this title. Sonic Mania has been a passion project for the entire team and we look forward to sharing more details about it later this year. Having the game actually playable at the event itself tonight was testament to the dedication of the team behind it.â
Graphics

NVIDIA Drops Surprise Unveiling of Pascal-Based GeForce GTX Titan X (hothardware.com) 132

MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: Details just emerged from NVIDIA regarding its upcoming powerful, Pascal-based Titan X graphics card, featuring a 12 billion transistor GPU, codenamed GP102. NVIDIA is obviously having a little fun with this one and at an artificial intelligence (AI) meet-up at Stanford University this evening, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang first announced, and then actually gave away a few brand-new, Pascal-based NVIDIA TITAN X GPUs. Apparently, Brian Kelleher, one of NVIDIA's top hardware engineers, made a bet with NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, that the company could squeeze 10 teraflops of computing performance out of a single chip. Jen-Hsun thought that was not doable in this generation of product, but apparently, Brian and his team pulled it off. The new Titan X is powered by NVIDIA's largest GPU -- the company says it's actually the biggest GPU ever built. The Pascal-based GP102 features 3,584 CUDA cores, clocked at 1.53GHz (the previous-gen Titan X has 3,072 CUDA cores clocked at 1.08GHz). The specifications NVIDIA has released thus far include: 12-billion transistors, 11 TFLOPs FP32 (32-bit floating point), 44 TOPS INT8 (new deep learning inferencing instructions), 3,584 CUDA cores at 1.53GHz, and 12GB of GDDR5X memory (480GB/s). The new Titan X will be available August 2nd for $1,200 direct from NVIDIA.com.
Firefox

Firefox To Block Non-Essential Flash Content In August 2016, Require Click-To-Activate In 2017 (mozilla.org) 156

Mozilla has announced that it plans to discontinue support for Flash in Firefox. Starting next month, Firefox will block Flash content "that is not essential to the user experience." Also, starting sometime in 2017, the browser will require click-to-activate approval from users before a website activates the Flash plugin for any content. In a blogpost, the company writes:Mozilla and the Web as a whole have been taking steps to reduce the need for Flash content in everyday browsing. Over the past few years, Firefox has implemented Web APIs to replace functionality that was formerly provided only by plugins. This includes audio/video playback and streaming capabilities, clipboard integration, fast 2D and 3D graphics, WebSocket networking, and microphone/camera access. As websites have switched from Flash to other web technologies, the plugin crash rate in Firefox has dropped significantly. [...] We continue to work closely with Adobe to deliver the best possible Flash experience for our users.
Chrome

Safari Browser May Soon Be Just As Fast As Chrome With WebP Integration (thenextweb.com) 105

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Next Web: The Safari browser included in Apple's iOS 10 and macOS Sierra software is testing WebP, technology from Google that allows developers to create smaller, richer images that make the web faster. Basically, it's a way for webpages to load more quickly. The Next Web reports: "WebP was built into Chrome back at build 32 (2013!), so it's not unproven. It's also used by Facebook due to its image compression underpinnings, and is in use across many Google properties, including YouTube." Microsoft is one of the only major players to not use WebP, according to CNET. It's not included in Internet Explorer and the company has "no plans" to integrate it into Edge. Even though iOS 10 and macOS Sierra are in beta, it's promising that we will see WebP make its debut in Safari latest this year. "It's hard to imagine Apple turning away tried and true technology that's found in a more popular browser -- one that's favored by many over Safari due to its speed, where WebP plays a huge part," reports The Next Web. "Safari is currently the second most popular browser to Chrome." What's also interesting is how WebP isn't mentioned at all in the logs for Apple's Safari Technology Preview.
Hardware

NVIDIA Launches GeForce GTX 1060 To Take On AMD's Radeon RX 480 (hothardware.com) 86

Reader MojoKid writes: NVIDIA just launched their answer to AMD's Radeon RX 480 mainstream card today, dubbed the GeForce GTX 1060. The GP106 GPU at the heart of the GeForce GTX 1060 has roughly half of the resources of NVIDIA's current flagship GeForce GTX 1080. NVIDIA claims the GTX 1060 performs on par with a previous generation high-end GeForce GTX 980 and indeed this 120W mainstream offers an interesting mix of low-power and high-performance. The new GeForce GTX 1060 features a new Pascal derivative GPU that's somewhat smaller, called the GP106. The GP106 features 10 streaming multiprocessors (SM) with a total of 1280, single-precision CUDA cores and eight texture units. The GeForce GTX 1060 also features six 32-bit memory controllers, for 192-bits in total. GeForce GTX 1060 cards with either 6GB or 3GB of GDDR5 memory will be available and offered performance that just misses the mark set by the pricier AMD Radeon R9 Nano but often outran the 8GB Radeon RX 480. The GeForce GTX 1060 held onto its largest leads over the Radeon RX 480 in the DirectX 11 tests, though the Radeon had a clear edge in OpenCL and managed to pull ahead in Thief and in some DirectX 12 tests (like Hitman). The GeForce GTX 1060, however, consumes significantly less power than the Radeon RX 480 and is quieter too.You may also want to read PCPerspective's take on this.
Android

Intel ChromeBooks Can Now Run Wine and Steam (codeweavers.com) 45

"With Google Play and Android app support hitting Chromebooks, it's now possible to run Windows applications/games on Chromebooks via CrossOver For Android," reports Phoronix. Slashdot reader grungy writes: The first Intel ChromeBooks have access to the Play Store now, and the Android version of Wine apparently runs on them... Pictures show the Steam client running, and a clip of a D3D game. Of course, the Play Store is only available on the ChromeOS developer channel so far, but that should change later this year.
CrossOver for Android also hasn't been officially released, but Thursday CodeWeavers' president blogged excitedly that "we are staring at a Leprechaun riding on the back of a Unicorn while taking a picture of a UFO. We are running CrossOver through Android on a ChromeBook running a Windows based game launched from the Steam client. THIS HAS NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE...EVER!!!"
Graphics

Leak Shows PlayStation 4 Neo Is Expected To Have Twice The Graphics Horsepower (hothardware.com) 99

MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: Following rumors of a more powerful console in Sony's not-too-distant future -- one that will be capable of playing games at a 4K resolution -- the Japanese electronics maker last month opted to confirm it is indeed in development. Called PlayStation 4 Neo, the upgraded system will bring better hardware to the console scene to meet the needs of gaming on a television with four times as many pixels as a Full HD 1080p display. What's it going to take to game at 4K in the living room? A leaked internal document outlines some very interesting specs of the new model PS4 console. Assuming the leaked document is up to date with Sony's current plans, the PS4 Neo will use the same Jaguar cores as the original PS4, but clocked 500MHz faster, with 8 cores at 2.1GHz (up from 1.6GHz). The more significant upgrade will be the GPU. According to the slide, the PS4 Neo will use an improved version of AMD's GCN compute units (CUs), with twice the number of CUs at 36 instead of 18. They'll also be clocked faster -- 911MHz versus 800MHz. The net result is a 2.3x improvement in floating point performance.
Graphics

NVIDIA's Releases Its First VR Game, Along With An Interactive Screenshot Tool 'Ansel' (techgage.com) 20

Deathspawner writes: NVIDIA has today released a Game Ready GeForce driver that introduces its interactive screenshot tool 'Ansel.' Named after famed photographer Ansel Adams, this new tool requires a developer to integrate up to a couple hundred lines of code to give players the ability to pause their game, move around the environment, and then capture a more "artistic" image. To further that artistic value, users will have the ability to apply filters as well as capture an image in high-res 360 mode so that they can be viewed properly with a virtual-reality (VR) headset. Currently, Ansel supports only a single game -- Mirror's Edge Catalyst -- but NVIDIA promises that many more supported titles are on the way. In addition, NVIDIA has released its first ever video game via Steam that just so happens to be a VR game. The game is called VR Funhouse and is available for free via Steam but is only playable on the HTC Vive. The game consists of a virtual-reality carnival and employs many NVIDIA graphics technologies, like collision-based haptic feedback and advanced physics simulation.
Graphics

Ask Slashdot: Why Don't Graphics Cards For VR Use Real-Time Motion Compensation? 159

dryriver writes: Graphics cards manufacturers like Nvidia and AMD have gone to great pains recently to point out that in order to experience virtual reality with a VR headset properly, you need a GPU capable of pushing at least a steady 90 FPS per eye, or a total of at least 180 FPS for both eyes, and at high resolutions to boot. This of course requires the purchase of the latest, greatest high-end GPUs made by these manufacturers, alongside the money you are already plonking down for your new VR headset, and a good, fast gaming-class PC. This raises an interesting question: virtually every LCD/LED TV manufactured in the last 5 or 6 years has a 'Real-Time Motion Compensation' feature built in. This is the not-so-new-at-all technique of taking, say, a football match broadcast live at 30 FPS or Hz, and algorithmically generating extra in-between frames in real time, thus giving you a hyper-smooth 200-400 FPS/Hz image on the TV set with no visible stutter or strobing whatsoever. This technology is not new. It is cheap enough to include in virtually every TV set at every price level (thus the hardware that performs the real-time motion compensating cannot cost more than a few dollars total). And the technique should, in theory, work just fine with the output of a GPU trying to drive a VR headset. Now suppose you have an entry level or mid-range GPU capable of pushing only 40-60 FPS in a VR application (or a measly 20-30 FPS per eye, making for a truly terrible VR experience). You could, in theory, add some cheap motion compensation circuitry to that GPU and get 100-200 FPS or more per eye. Heck, you might even be able to program a few GPU cores to run the motion compensation as a real-time GPU shader as the rest of the GPU is rendering a game or VR experience.

So my question: Why don't GPUs for VR use real-time motion compensation techniques to increase the FPS pushed into the VR headset? Would this not make far more financial sense for the average VR user than having to buy a monstrously powerful GPU to experience VR at all?
XBox (Games)

Streamers Get Best Of Both Worlds With Xbox Live Support For PC Twitch Streaming (neowin.net) 12

An anonymous reader shares a Neowin article: Microsoft is making life easier for Twitch streamers who rely on capture cards to stream Xbox One games, by adding support for capture cards on Xbox Live. Up until now if you wanted to stream an Xbox One game, you had a couple of choices: either rely on the Twitch app and benefit from Xbox Live integration, but make do with lower-quality graphics; or rely on a capture card and stream from your PC, but lose the Xbox Live features. Now Microsoft is giving its users the best of both worlds, by working together with Twitch to support streaming from PCs via capture cards , like an Elgato, but also using Xbox Live features. All streamers need to do to take advantage of this is connect their Twitch account with Xbox Live.
Open Source

Mesa 12.0 Released With OpenGL 4.3 Support, Intel Vulkan and More (phoronix.com) 24

An anonymous reader writes: Mesa3D developers have announced the release of Mesa 12.0. Mesa 12 notably adds open-source OpenGL 4.3 drivers for Intel, Radeon, and NVIDIA on Linux, and it also integrates the previously open-sourced Intel Vulkan graphics API driver. From the Phoronix analysis, "Mesa 12.0 is easily one of the biggest updates to this important open-source user-space OpenGL driver stack in quite some time and will offer much better support and features especially for Intel, Radeon, and NVIDIA open-source Linux desktop users/gamers." You can download Mesa 3D Graphics Library 12.0.0 here.
Graphics

Unreal Engine and Unity To Get NVIDIA's New VR Rendering Tech (roadtovr.com) 17

An anonymous reader writes: NVIDIA has announced that Unreal Engine and Unity will see integrations of its new Simultaneous Multi-projection (SMP) rendering tech, which the company says can yield "a 3x VR graphics performance improvement over previous generation GPUs." NVIDIA recently introduced the technology as a unique feature of its latest series of GPUs built on the 'Pascal' architecture. According to the company, Simultaneous Multi-projection allows up to 16 views to be rendered from a single point with just one geometry pass, whereas older cards would need to add an additional pass for each additional view. This is especially beneficial for VR rendering which inherently must render two views for each frame (one for each eye). With Simultaneous Multi-projection built into Unreal Engine and Unity, game creators will have much easier access to its performance benefits. SMP is supported by all of NVIDIA's 10-series GPUs, including the recently announced GTX 1060.
AMD

AMD Details Driver Fix For Radeon RX 480's Controversial, Spec-Exceeding Power Draw (pcworld.com) 157

AMD's 150-watt Radeon RX 480 apparently draws more power than it is supposed to. According to Tom's Hardware blog, AMD's new graphics card used an average of 168W under load. Furthermore, the publication found that card pulled up to a whopping 90W over the motherboard's PCI-E slot, far exceeding the 75W maximum the slot it rated for. PC Perspective's findings were similar, with Witcher 3 title consuming over 190W of sustained power draw when the RX 480 was overclocked. Worse, the blog discovered that AMD's card drew 7 amps over the PCI-E slot's +12v rail, which is rated for 5.5 amps maximum. These issues could theoretically (but not likely) damage lower-end motherboards in extreme circumstances, writes PCWorld. The chip company last week addressed the concerns, noting that it will soon release a software fix. In a new statement to PCWorld, the company adds:"We promised an update today (July 5, 2016) following concerns around the Radeon RX 480 drawing excess current from the PCIe bus. Although we are confident that the levels of reported power draws by the Radeon RX 480 do not pose a risk of damage to motherboards or other PC components based on expected usage, we are serious about addressing this topic and allaying outstanding concerns. Towards that end, we assembled a worldwide team this past weekend to investigate and develop a driver update to improve the power draw. We're pleased to report that this driver -- Radeon Software 16.7.1 -- is now undergoing final testing and will be released to the public in the next 48 hours. In this driver we've implemented a change to address power distribution on the Radeon RX 480 -- this change will lower current drawn from the PCIe bus. Separately, we've also included an option to reduce total power with minimal performance impact. Users will find this as the "compatibility" UI toggle in the Global Settings menu of Radeon Settings. This toggle is "off" by default. Finally, we've implemented a collection of performance improvements for the Polaris architecture that yield performance uplifts in popular game titles of up to 3%. These optimizations are designed to improve the performance of the Radeon RX 480, and should substantially offset the performance impact for users who choose to activate the "compatibility" toggle.
XBox (Games)

Microsoft Xbox Project Scorpio Puts Out 6 TFLOPs On Par With Current Gaming PCs (hothardware.com) 162

MojoKid quotes a report form HotHardware: Microsoft is hoping to usher in a new era in console gaming just over a year from now. While the company is just a month away from launching the Xbox One S refresh in the U.S., Project Scorpio is the console that really has gamers talking. During E3, Microsoft provided scant details on the console, only cluing us in to the fact that it would support virtual reality, 4K gaming, and push 6 TFLOPs of computing power. Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz, CD Projekt Red's Principal Narrative Designer, had a few things to say about that last bullet point regarding compute performance. If you recall, AMD's newly introduced Radeon RX 480 offers peak performance of 5.8 TFLOPs, which puts it in close proximity of Microsoft's Project Scorpio. But of course, trying to compare consoles to PCs using this stat alone isn't exactly apples to oranges, though Tomaszkiewicz explains, "For sure [Scorpio] will have better looking games," Tomaszkiewicz said. "If this was available when we were working on Wild Hunt, I would expect similar quality that we have on PC right now or even better maybe." HotHardware's report goes on to mention that once new console hardware is introduced, it's frozen for years at a time without any updates. Therefore, it would only be a short while before PCs would completely outcompete it in terms of performance. Also, given the fact that Project Scorpio is not arriving until late 2017 at the earliest, the 6 TFLOPs of power won't seem like much when compared to the new cycle of high-end GPUs with far superior performance. Tomaszkiewicz agrees, adding, "New graphic cards are being released very often and more often than the new consoles being released. So I think it will put Scorpio on par with the PC is that we have at that point. But I think PC is growing so fast that it'll outpace [Scorpio]."
Australia

Google Searches For 'VR Porn' Increase 10,000% (vrtalk.com) 80

Slashdot reader Bob768 writes: Over the last 20 months, with the rise of virtual reality technology, the number of Google searches for the phrase 'VR Porn' have soared nearly 10,000%. The leading country for these searches is Norway.
Last November searches for the term experienced the "spike of all spikes", according to a post on the VR Talk forum, which also identifies the top cities (two in Australia) for the searches -- Helsinki, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Singapore, Tel Aviv, and Seoul.
AMD

AMD RX 480 Offers Best-in-Class Performance For $199/$239 99

Reader Vigile writes: It's been a terribly long news cycle, but today is finally the day reviews and sales start of the new AMD Radeon RX 480 graphics card based on the company's latest Polaris architecture and built on 14nm FinFET process technology. With a starting price tag of $199 for the 4GB model and $239 for the 8GB, the RX 480 has some interesting performance characteristics. Compared to the GeForce GTX 970, currently selling for around $280, the RX 480 performs +/- 5-10% in DX11 games but PC Perspective found that the RX 480 was as much as 40% faster in DX12 titles like Gears of War, Hitman and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Compared to previous AMD products, the RX 480 is as fast as a Radeon R9 390 but uses just 150 watts compared to 275 watts for the previous generation. Chances are that NVIDIA will have a competing product based on Pascal available sometime in July, so AMD's advantage may be short-lived; but in the meantime, the Radeon RX 480 is clearly the best GPU for $200.AnandTech has more details.
Quake

A New 'Quake' Episode Appears 20 Years Later (vice.com) 36

An anonymous reader quotes this report from Motherboard: The months leading up to this year's phenomenal reboot of Doom were stuffed with all kinds of fun developments surrounding the original series, whether it was mods that let you play as Duke Nukem or whole new levels from famed designer John Romero. There's now a new Quake game in the works, and already it appears to be enjoying a similar renaissance. Yesterday MachineGames, the studio behind Wolfenstein: The New Order, released an entirely new episode for the original Quake in celebration of its 20-year anniversary, and you can play it entirely for free.
Graphics

'Linux vs Windows' Challenge: Phoronix Tests Popular Games (phoronix.com) 141

An anonymous reader writes: Michael Larabel at Phoronix has combined their new results from intensive Linux/Windows performance testing for popular games on Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA graphics cards, and at different resolutions. "This makes it easy to see the Linux vs. Windows performance overall or for games where the Linux ports are simply rubbish and performing like crap compared to the native Windows game." The games tested included Xonotic, Tomb Raider, Grid Autosport, Dota 2, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, F1 2015, and Company of Heroes 2 -- and the results were surprising.

Xonotic v0.8 outperformed Windows with a NVIDIA card, but "The poor Xonotic performance on Linux with the Intel driver was one of the biggest surprises from yesterday's article. It's not anything we've seen with the other drivers." And while testing on the Source 2 engine revealed that Valve's Dota 2 "is a quality Linux port," most of the other results were disappointing -- regardless of the graphics card and driver. "Tomb Raider on Linux performs much worse than the Windows build regardless of your driver/graphics card... Shadow of Mordor's relative Linux performance is more decent than many other Linux games albeit still isn't running at the same speeds as the Windows games..."

The article concludes with a note of optimism. "Hopefully in due time with the next generation of games making use of Vulkan...we'll see better performance relative to Windows." Have Slashdot readers seen any performance issues while playing games on Linux?
Graphics

Apple Discontinues Thunderbolt Display (macrumors.com) 168

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has officially told several news sites that it plans to discontinue the Thunderbolt Display, which has been available online and in Apple retail stores since it was first introduced in 2011. "We're discontinuing the Apple Thunderbolt Display. It will be available through Apple.com, Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last. There are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users," said an Apple spokesperson. Rumors suggest that Apple will launch a new version of its Thunderbolt monitor later this year, featuring an upgraded 5K resolution and discrete GPU. The new Thunderbolt Display may even launch alongside next-generation Skylake Retina MacBook Pros, which too are rumored to be released later this year. fyngyrz writes: So, bought into the whole Thunderbolt monitor thing from Apple? Might want to collect a few right now, while you still can. It appears that the Thunderbolt monitor is going the way of the analog [headphone] jack over at Apple. Isn't it fun to be part of an unsuccessful experiment?
Graphics

MSI and ASUS Accused of Sending Reviewers Overpowered Graphics Cards (theverge.com) 133

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: TechPowerUp discovered that the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X card they were sent for review was running at faster GPU and memory clock speeds than the retail version. This was because the review card was set to operate in the OC (overclocking) mode out of the box, whereas the retail card runs in the more regular Gaming mode out of the box. This may result in an unobservant reviewer accidentally misrepresenting the OC performance numbers as the stock results from the card, lending MSI's product an unearned helping hand. The site found this was a recurring pattern with MSI stretching back for years. Fellow Taiwanese manufacturer ASUS, in spite of having better global name recognition and reputation, has also show itself guilty of preprogramming review cards with an extra overclocking boost. Needless to say, the only goal of such actions is to deceive -- both the consumer and the reviewer -- though perhaps some companies have felt compelled to follow suit after the trend was identified among competitors. The Verge notes that TechPowerUp revealed its finding on Thursday of last week, and has not received any official response from either MSI or ASUS. They did update their story to note that MSI addressed the matter, in a comment provided to HardOCP Editor-in-Chief Kyle Bennett, back in 2014.

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