Metal Gear Skylake

posted in: Game News, Technology News | 0

I just watched the Super Mario Maker Overview trailer and was reminded that the game debuts on September 11. I had no idea. I thought this was an October title. With Super Mario Maker and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’s release dates sneaking up on me, I decided to take an inventory of my upcoming 2015 games and what’s coming out and when.

  • Sept. 1 – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS4)
  • Sept. 11 – Super Mario Maker (Wii U)
  • Oct. 27 – Halo 5: Guardians (X1)
  • Nov. 6 – Call of Duty: Black Ops III (PS4) *
  • Nov. 17 – Star Wars: Battlefront (PS4) *

* – Digital

So there isn’t as much as I thought. It’s the holiday so there’s plenty of shoot bang titles to stave off the cold. Call of Duty: Black Ops III is a giant question mark for me though. It didn’t have the best showings at the tradeshows. The upcoming beta this week will ultimately decide the game’s fate methinks. Then again, my brother and I enjoy our co-op shooter campaigns which BLOPS3 has.

We’ll see.

The Skylake Is Falling?

So Skylake is here. It’s been a couple of weeks since the reviews for Intel’s latest “tock” release were posted online. The results are a little weird. On one hand, instruction per clock performance improved ever so slightly over the previous generation for general computing but seemingly took a hit in gaming scenarios.

The switch to DDR4 won’t move the needle for performance over DDR3 right now but it will lower power consumption. I thought there’s a premium over DDR3 modules but a quick glance at NewEgg.ca sees both DDR3 and DDR4 16GB kits priced at $150 each.

By far the most attractive prospect of upgrading to Skylake platform is the accompanying Z170 chipset. With the new 26 lane Flex-IO hub, motherboard manufacturers can provide more USB 3.0, SATA or PCI-e ports than ever. More ports are welcomed. Faster ports are also welcomed and some Z170 motherboards will feature USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports that will offer up to 10 Gbps transfer rates.

With all the goodies in hand so far, there’s actually more to come. Intel’s first Skylake CPUs only come in two flavors: the i7-6700K and i5-6600K. The motherboard situation isn’t great either with only Z170 chipsets based ones on the market. I’m not big on CPU overclocking these days so the K-series CPUs and Z-series motherboards a bit overkill. Not to mention that the ITX options are scant. In the end, I’d wait for the rest of Skylake to launch because while promising this all seems very premature on Intel’s part.

 

Remember Pentium?

posted in: Technology News | 0

intel_logo.pngI remember the days when the word Pentium was the cream of the crop for Intel. Now it sits along side the Celeron as budget CPUs for low cost machines. I didn’t even give the Intel Pentium lineup a glance since the introduction of the Intel Core series of CPUs.

But now, 20 years later, Intel decided to celebrate that classic name with the Intel Pentium G3258. This chip is supposed to be cheap and highly overclockable. It’s also not entirely crippled either.

My first CPU was Cyrix. I had no idea what its frequency was because I didn’t keep it for long. It was quickly exchanged for an Intel Pentium 120 MHz. I think I managed to overclock that to 133 MHz. I didn’t make substantial overclocking gains until I owned the Pentium III 866MHz and several Pentium IV chips.

Oh the memories.

Nowadays, I barely overclock CPUs. I just rely on Intel touted “Turbo Boost” options. I’m not against it, it’s just that most games are not CPU limited, so I focus on overclocking GPUs these days.

I still boot into BIOS/EFI interfaces to check out overclocking options though. I appreciate the advancements we have made. No more DIP switches and no more ambiguous BIOS options to toy with. Now everything is documented and so easy to pull off, your mother can probably overclock.

 

Building a new home server?

posted in: Editorials & Features | 0

intel_logo.pngAnd suddenly I have an opportunity to build a new home server. My sister is looking for a cheap PC which opened up an opportunity to offload one of my older PCs. The home server, powered by a Core 2 Quad 9300, 6GB of RAM and an SSD will be more than adequate for everyday computing.

But what would my next computer be built on? Haswell? Again? I just built a computer with Intel’s latest architecture last year. There’s a new set of chipsets and the S series of CPUs are widely available now but I don’t want to go back to the well twice within a generation.

So for now, I’m going to dig back into the computing archives and give an aging AMD Athlon 3800+ powered PC a new lease on life. Strap in video card, an SSD and everything should be okay. I hope. I just want to buy some time for Broadwell which is slated for a Q2 2015 debut.

Microsoft Announced DirectX 12 Last Week

posted in: Game News | 0

microsoftThere will be a new version of DirectX coming in 18 months or so and like all announcements, there’s unbridled optimism for the latest Microsoft API.

The hallmark feature of DirectX 12 is the return of low level graphics programming. Low level graphics programming –something console game developers have been enjoying on closed ecosystems — allows developers to forgo abstraction layers and execute code with better performance.

With DirectX 12, Microsoft and the GPU vendors including AMD, NVIDIA, Intel and Qualcommm have agreed to a set of standards that will make low level programming possible across different graphics cards.

Microsoft and its partners are promising DirectX 12 compatibility with many of today’s and yesteryear’s graphics cards:

AMD GCN 1.0 (Radeon 7000/8000/200)
GCN 1.1 (Radeon 200)
Intel Gen 7.5 (Haswell/4th Gen Core)
NVIDIA Fermi (GeForce 400/500)
Kepler (GeForce 600/700/800)
Maxwell (GeForce 700/800)

Great news! All my active video cards will support the upcoming API. The next obvious question is: which operating systems will support DirectX 12? It’s obvious that Windows 8 will but what about Windows 7?

Since the Xbox One sports a supported and compatible AMD GPU, it too will receive DirectX 12 support. This will undoubtedly enable easier porting between consoles and PCs.

I hope DirectX 12 manages to deliver on all its promises. Game developers need all the performance and compatibility help they could get.

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