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New Gadgets

This is a discussion on New Gadgets within the Electronics forums, part of the Non-Related Discussion category; Apple loves to position itself as being on the cutting edge of OS research and development, but its long-term support ...

          
   
  1. #91
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    Khronos Brings Vulkan to MacOS



    Apple loves to position itself as being on the cutting edge of OS research and development, but its long-term support for graphics APIs it didn’t develop in-house has been generally terrible. macOS is still limited to OpenGL 4.1, which was released in July, 2010. To put this in roughly approximate terms, imagine if Microsoft had quit evolving its graphics APIs with DirectX 11.0 and still expected everyone to rely on it for gaming and professional applications. Apple has launched its proprietary API for iOS and macOS, Metal, but it refused to support Vulkan, the open-source, low-overhead API intended to match DirectX 12 in the PC space. Fed up with this approach, the Khronos Group, which maintains Vulkan, has announced its own effort to bring Vulkan support to macOS and iOS whether Apple approves of it or not, via a thin translation layer.

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    Microsoft Will Add AMD FreeSync Support to Xbox One S, Xbox One X



    As time has passed, the various console generations have become more similar, both to each other and to PCs. It’s become common for games to launch on multiple platforms simultaneously and the SoCs inside the Xbox One and PS4 are both built by AMD. Now, Microsoft has announced that the Xbox One S and Xbox One X (See on Amazon) will pick up a major PC feature — support for AMD’s FreeSync standard.

    FreeSync (AMD), G-Sync (Nvidia) and Adaptive Sync (the overarching VESA standard) are three names for technologies that do the same thing: Synchronize the refresh rate timing of the display to the frame rate of the GPU.



    An AMD slide explaining FreeSync / Adaptive Sync. Nvidia’s G-Sync accomplishes the same thing.

    With both FreeSync and G-Sync in-market, monitor manufacturers have tended to bake in FreeSync support more often than G-Sync, possibly because Nvidia’s version of this feature uses a proprietary ASIC on the desktop and because of reported licensing costs. While the exact details on the latter aren’t known, there are more FreeSync panels in market and at much lower price points.

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  3. #93
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    4K Burnout Paradise Remaster Makes Us Long for the Heady Days of 2008



    More than a decade ago, Criterion Games released Burnout Paradise, its car-smashing magnum opus, on the Xbox 360 and PS3. Long before Forza Horizon came to dominate the open-world racing genre, we were bumping to a late-aughts pop-punk soundtrack in Paradise City. Now, we can revisit this beloved classic with all of its DLC in 4K on modern consoles.
    With 28 reviews counted, the remastered PS4 release is sitting at a 81/100 average on Metacritic, and the Xbox One version scores very similarly. It’s not going to blow your mind this far from the original release, but that’s a solid critical showing for a $40 remaster.

    The original 360 game enjoyed a higher score of 88/100 with 68 reviews, but times were very different. This kind of open world was still novel, so the fact that the game still holds up so well to modern sensibilities is worth appreciating. There were countless contemporaries to Paradise, but few would warrant a rerelease at this point.

    The remastered version benefits from AMD’s EQAA at 4X, higher quality textures, improved shadows, and substantially heavier alpha effects. The 360-era geometry, LOD pop-in, and low-res intro remain in place, but the moment-to-moment driving looks great. Not only is it an improvement over the old console versions, it’s better than the PC version on max settings. PC gamers needn’t worry though, the remaster will be coming to Origin eventually.

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    Valve Removed Steam Machines From Its Home Page



    Steam Machines were supposed to take PC gaming mainstream by simplifying setup and moving the games in your living room. Valve had high hopes for the project, but Steam Machines never took off. The company now seems to be distancing itself from the failure, as Steam Machine listings are no longer accessible from the Steam front page.

    When it announced the Steam Machine initiative, Valve trotted out most of the big names in PG gaming as hardware partners. It said Steam Machines were on the way from Asus, Alienware, Falcon Northwest, Gigabyte, and many more. However, most of these vendors backed out or indefinitely delayed launch plans as it became apparent Steam Machines would not be a slam dunk.

    You can still access what remains of the Steam Machine landing site via a direct link — not that you’ll see much when you get there. It lists only five devices, one of which is no longer available on the manufacturer’s site. Several of the remaining systems are arguably not even Steam Machines as Valve envisioned — they run Windows 10 instead of SteamOS.

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    Apple’s New eGPU Support



    Laptops make tradeoffs by definition, but one of the largest has always been in graphics. Physics simply doesn’t allow for a high-end desktop GPU in a svelte, laptop-friendly form factor. And the lighter and thinner you make the portable, the less room you’ve got for an aggressive, power-hogging GPU. The promise of an external graphics dock is that you can eat your laptop steak and have it too, thanks to a second enclosure that handles the GPU, provides power to it, and in some cases includes additional features and capabilities not found in the laptop itself.

    Apple recently added support for eGPUs to macOS 10.13.4, which has caused its own problems based on how the support was implemented. Such headaches might be worth it, if they yield huge performance improvements — but Ars Technica’s findings suggest professional users will want to pay attention to the list of situations where an eGPU either doesn’t work, or works less well than you’d expect.

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    Valve Announces Steam Will Stream to Phones, Tablets



    Game streaming may not have conquered the world the way some pundits thought it might, but we’ve seen real improvements in the capability across the last few years. Nintendo’s Wii U was an early iteration on the concept, Sony added the ability to stream some games to the Vita from the PS4, Microsoft will stream games to a Windows computer if you have an Xbox on a local network, and Nvidia’s GameStream can stream titles from a local PC with a GeForce GPU to other devices. Up until now, Valve’s Steam Link device has served a similar function — but the company is taking steps to expand what Steam Link offers by moving from a hardware solution to a much more flexible app.

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    China and US move closer over ZTE

    CHINA appreciates the United States position on the Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said yesterday.

    He will continue to hold consultations with the US economic team headed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on economic and trade issues between the two countries, Lu said.

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    Sony Plans to Move Away From ‘Gadgets.’



    Sony’s Kenichiro Yoshida, who took over the CEO position in April, reportedly plans to move away from manufacturing “gadgets” and towards other revenue sources in a bid to transform Sony’s position in the global economy. Sony, of course, built its reputation on those same gadgets, starting with transistor radios, and moving into televisions, consumer electronics, and home entertainment more generally. Devices like the PlayStation family gave the company one of its most enduring “ins” and established it as a multimedia titan. But Yoshida wants to restructure the company around subscriptions and content, not hardware, and he’s looking to trim the company’s investment in the more physical aspects of its business.

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    Intel Will Enter GPU Market By 2020



    When Intel hired Raja Koduri away from AMD and announced it was working on discrete GPU solutions, it still wasn’t clear exactly when the company would enter the market. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has told analysts that the company intends to enter the market in 2020 — a slightly faster time frame than Nvidia or AMD may have planned on, and one with potential ramifications for both companies.

    It was never likely that Intel would leap into the graphics space. The typical rule of thumb is that creating a new CPU architecture from scratch can take 4-5 years, and while graphics cards are considered to be an easier lift in that regard, 2-3 years is not uncommon. While Intel had obviously planned to launch itself into the GPU market before it hired Koduri, it would want to bring him on during the beginning of that process. With a late-2017 hire, a 2020 launch date is aggressive — but within the realm of possibility.

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